A Little Piece of Paradise
`She said she loves me.
No, she said she`s in love with me.
And what did I say?
What could I say?
No-one`s ever said that to me before.
Tori`s fingers played absent mindedly with the soft hair at Eden`s temple.
The blonde had fallen asleep, again, while they were watching a movie. Of course, the four glasses of wine had helped her on her way.
"I can`t drink wine." Eden had said. "It knocks me out."
And it had.
But that was ok. It gave Tori time. Time to think, and time to come to some conclusions.
She looked down at the girl who was using her thigh as a pillow.
Tori was content. And that had never happened before. She`d never been one for sitting. She`d always been one for doing. So why was that little prickle of fear still gnawing at her?
It was the fear of losing this. Something she`d known so briefly had become as important to her as breathing.
`Is this happiness?` She thought. `If it is, shouldn`t I feel guilty?`
Eden sighed deeply in her sleep and Tori lifted her hand allowing the girl to turn on her side facing away from her. Tori pulled the blonde hair that had fallen over Eden`s face back so that she could watch the gentle profile. "My Eden," she whispered, "my very own little piece of paradise."
Suddenly Tori could wait no more. Moving her hand to a cotton covered shoulder she gently shook the sleeping woman. "Hey, Eden." She said, bending so that her mouth brushed the blonde`s ear."Wake up, I want to talk."
"Can`t." Came the sleepy reply.
"Yes you can, come on, sit up."
Tori pulled Eden up so that she sat beside her, but the younger woman`s eyes were still closed and her head fell back against the backrest.
"You amaze me." Said Tori, watching the blonde head fall forward in sleep. "Can you just stay awake for a couple of minutes?"
"M`awake." Said Eden, rubbing her face vigorously. "What time is it?" She peered around the room, which was darkened except for the light from the fire and the tv. She spotted the luminous numbers on the vcr. "12.30!"
"Yeah, my fault, shouldn`t have made you drink that last glass."
Eden leaned against the tall woman, pulling her legs up and curling up again.
"Don`t go to sleep yet Eden, I have something I need to say to you."
"You sound like Rod Stewart."
"Never mind. I`m awake now, what is it?"
After all that Tori`s nerve deserted her.
"Well?" Said Eden.
"In the pub." Tori began. "You said....... Well, you told me................."
"I said I was in love with you."
"Yes, you did." Tori said quietly. "D`you mean that?"
Eden could have cried. The look of fear in the blue eyes that regarded her was painful to see. So she took Tori`s face in her hands and leaned forward, claiming the soft lips and sealing her promise with a searing kiss.
"Of course I mean it." She said breathlessly as they parted. "So what did you want to tell me?"
"I love you." Said Tori quickly, and amazed herself with how easy it had been to say those words.
"You do?" Asked Eden, a soft smile on her face.
Tori nodded tightly, her mouth a hard line now, her jaw clenched painfully.
"Have you ever told anyone else that?" Asked Eden, though she already knew the answer.
A short shake of the head.
"Say it again." The blonde whispered, caressing a flushed cheek.
"I love you Eden."
"Not so hard now."
"I should have said it before."
"Now is fine."
"Remind me to say it more." Tori said and leaned forward into another kiss.
"Come on." Eden said standing. "Let`s go to bed."
Eden went on ahead while Tori pushed the smouldering logs to the back of the fireplace. Tori watched the dying fire for a moment, the dull glow highlighting the gentle tears that marked her cheeks.
`I love you Eden.` She thought and stood, throwing the poker back onto the hearth. `I love you.`
She found Eden watching the gently falling snow from the bedroom window.
The blonde felt long arms encircle her waist from behind and wrapped her own hands around the larger ones resting on her stomach.
"I love the snow." She said, her breath causing the window to mist.
Insistant hands on her shoulders turned her away from the snowy landscape and she fell into another. That of the woman she loved. Tori held her close and Eden leaned against the comforting strength and wound her hands beneath the ebony hair and around Tori`s neck.
"Did I tell you I love you?" Said Tori, her mouth only a hair`s breadth from Eden`s.
"You did." Said Eden and latched onto the soft mouth that was demanding her full attention. The kiss was soft and built in strength so that both women were left panting.
Tori`s hands found their way below the teeshirt that Eden wore, tracing their way up from her hips across the smooth expanse of her back. Then the shirt was pulled up and over the blonde head. The bra was unclipped with knowing hands and followed the teeshirt into the corner.
Eden was turned and guided back so that when the back of her legs hit the edge of the matress, she sank onto it and was pushed onto her back.
Tori knelt on the floor between her legs, leaning over so that she could reach the smaller woman`s mouth. She felt small hands undoing the buttons of her shirt and held her weight up so that Eden could complete the task.
Eden pushed the shirt back off of broad shoulders and Tori shrugged the garment to the floor. Then the taller woman turned her attention to the button on the fly of Eden`s jeans. Unclasping it she slowly lowered the zip and pulled the jeans off the slim legs, depositing them in a growing pile of clothing.
Eden`s underwear followed and Tori stood briefly to survey her prize and then remove the rest of her own clothes.
She crawled onto the bed and turned Eden so that her head was near the headboard. Taking Eden`s right hand she brushed her lips with the small fingers and then guided them toward the brass head board. She folded the small hand around the cool metal. The bandaged left hand was placed gently on the pillow above the blonde head. "Don`t let go." She breathed into Eden`s mouth.
Eden closed her eyes and gave herself up to the sensations that the dark woman aroused in her. Knowing hands blazed a trail from her neck down across her stomach, ignoring the twin peaks that were almost painful in their anticipation.
"Tori!" Eden gasped as a hot mouth latched onto her left breast. Her right hand came down from its place wrapped around the headboard and pressed down on ebony hair. Tori`s eyes locked with hers and Eden was sure she heard the older woman growl. She carefully returned her hand to its former position.
Tori returned to her work, and turned her attention to the neglected breast.
Then large hands replaced the mouth and Eden squirmed under the sensation of silk like hair trailing across her body as Tori`s mouth made a downword journey across her flesh.
A hot tongue found her navel and dipped in on it`s way.
Eden`s bandaged hand joined the other in its grasping of the metal headboard as she felt her thigh`s lifted and settled on broad shoulders.
Then her whole being was centred on one place, and on one person. The woman who was loving her, giving her something she`d given no-one else. She was filled, and the rhythm Tori found matched her own rocking hips. A hot mouth fastened on the small bundle of nerves and Eden screamed her lover`s name again.
She gasped as Tori found that one special place that no-one else had, that one part of her that was pleading to be found.
Then she was there, arching her back, straining against the strong hands that were anchoring her to the bed.
Her hands fell limp from the headboard and she felt her legs settled back onto the bed. Tori crawled up the bed and beside her, but left her lying on her back, watching her as her chest heaved in its desire to recover.
Tori lay on her side, her head propped up on one hand, the other tracing lazy circles across her lover`s sweat sheened body.
Green eyes opened and the blonde head turned in her direction. "Thankyou." Smiled Eden.
Tori leaned over and kissed the blonde. "No, thank you."
She reached down and pulled the quilt over them both, and snuggling in close to her lover she let Eden pull her so that her head was cradled on the shorter woman`s shoulder.
"This is nice." Said Eden, as she circled the dark woman`s shoulders with her right arm.
"Tori?" She whispered, giving the warm shoulders a squeeze.
But Tori was asleep. And Eden smiled into the darkness and rubbed her cheek against the ebony silk, breathing in the scent of her love.
"I do love you Tori. Please don`t fight this." She whispered to
the sleeping woman and slowly followed her lover into the dream domain.
The next few days passed in a whirl of activity for both women. They made a trip to the doctor`s who told them to return the early part of the following week. Then a trip to Eden`s flat to get some more clothes. Shopping was done for food and some items for the cottage.
But mostly they talked. They learned a lot about each other in those few days and slowly Eden started to unravel the mystery that was Victoria Conrad.
Tori took each day as a blessing, still wondering when it would end, and not fully convinced that she deserved the budding happiness she was experiencing.
It was just after midnight on the thursday night. They`d been out for a drink in Bath to celebrate their first anniversary. They`d known each other a week, though they felt like they`d been together for a lifetime.
Eden woke and found herself alone. She reached out her hand, but no Tori.
She sat up and listened for a moment and was surprised to hear her lover`s voice, low and insistant, somewhere in the house.
She got out of bed and padded to the landing, leaning over and straining her ears agaist the silence. She descended the stairs silently and sat near the bottom.
"I don`t care!" She heard Tori`s voice hiss. "It really has nothing to do with her................. I`ve made up my mind and I`m going soon............ She`ll find out soon enough................Eden, her name`s Eden........................No, she won`t be coming with me......Ok, that`s fine. NO!!"
Eden heard the phone slam down and scurried back to the bedroom. She lay back in bed and listened to Tori shutting the doors and then the soft footsteps as she climbed the stairs. The bathroom light clicked on, then off again. Eden felt the bed shift as Tori got back in.
"Eden? You awake?"
Eden lay on her side facing away from the dark woman, and remained silent.
She felt Tori mould herself against her back, winding a long arm around her stomach. Then she felt her lover relax, the weight of the arm become heavier as her muscles eased in sleep.
Eden lay for a long time, wondering what the clandestine call had been about. Why was her name mentioned and where was Tori going? Worse, why hadn`t she talked with her about it?
Sleep, when it came for the blonde, was not untroubled.
It was the noise that woke Eden. A loud, slamming noise. She reached to her right, no Tori.
"Tori?" She called and waited, there was no answer, but she could hear someone moving around downstairs.
She got up and found Tori`s towelling robe on the floor near the bed. Putting it on she made her way downstairs.
The sound of someone walking around came from the kitchen. Pushing the door open she stopped dead.
The woman who stared at her had her lover`s eyes, and features. But the face was hard and angular, without a trace of the softness she`d seen in Tori`s face.
The woman looked at her watch, an expensive piece on a boney wrist. "Good, um, morning, yes it is still morning, just. You must be Emma."
"I am Stephanie, Victoria`s mother." She pulled a chair out from beneath the table and sat, crossing one silk convered leg across the other.
"Emma, I`m afraid Victoria has asked me to complete an unpleasant task." She sighed. "But then, that`s what mother`s are for is it not? To help their children when they need them."
Eden stood rooted to the spot. This wasn`t happening. Was it?
"She has realised her mistake. She spoke to her father last night regarding the situation she has found herself in. And I`m here to clear things up with as little discomfort to those involved as possible."
Stephanie Conrad pulled her handbag from it`s place on the floor at her feet. Pulling out a cheque book she opened it. "Now, how much do you require Emma?"
When there was no answer forthcoming she looked up. "Come now dear, I know silence has a price. From my past experience with Victoria`s........... friends, I know that a little incentive is required."
"I don`t want your money." Said Eden, the pain in her chest intensifying.
"Really?" Said Stephanie, writing an amount on a cheque anyway, and ripping it off. She stood, placing the cheque in the table.
"Where is Tori?" Asked Eden, reaching out to grab the edge of the table as the room began to tilt.
"Victoria............is going to spend a few days with her family. I just passed her actually as she left, she gave me the key."
"She wouldn`t have just left, she would have told me."
"Ah, this is what the others thought too I`m afraid. My daughter has a weakness dear. But she`s told her father this is the last time she will give into it. The wedding in June will go ahead, she`s promised us." She caught the look of shock on the girl`s face. "She did tell you about the wedding didn`t she dear?"
Stephanie Conrad`s smile was cruel. "Oh dear. It seems my daughter has been less than honest with you then." She walked to the door, opening it and allowing the cold winter wind to blow through the cottage.
"My daughter requests that you vacate the premises as soon as possible. Goodbye Emma."
"My name is Eden." She hissed.
"Whatever dear." Said Stephanie Conrad and was gone.
Eden listened to the sound of the large car drive away from the house. Then she sank onto the bottom stair and drew her knees up to her chest.
The tears came then, the thought of a broken dream weighing heavily on her.
She knew Tori wasn`t perfect, she knew it. But she`d lied to her. She`d left without waking her, left without saying goodbye. Would that have been so hard?
Maybe Tori just didn`t think she was worth an explanation. All she amounted to was a few days distraction. The tears, the affection, had all been an act. She said she`d used women before, so maybe it was just habit with her. Commitment was obviously something that Tori Conrad could not adhere to.
Eden couldn`t remember packing her clothes into a black bin bag or calling a
cab. But suddenly there was a knock on the door and the taxi had arrived. She
left her key on the table just inside the hallway and pulled the door shut
behind her. Without taking a backward glance she got into the cab and gave the
driver her destination.
It was just after eight when Tori arrived back at Summer Cottage. The first thing she noticed was that the house was in darkness.
Opening the front door she turned on the light.
"Eden?" She called, hanging her coat on one of the hooks in the hallway.
"Where are you?" She said, taking the stairs two at a time after giving the lounge a quick glance.
She went into the bedroom and stopped dead. The bed was unmade, and a number of drawers were partly opened. She looked into them and then into the wardrobe. All of Eden`s clothes had gone.
She sat heavily on the bed.
`So, she`s gone.` Tori thought. `What the hell did you expect? Why should this one be any different? It`s happened before, just get on with it.` She put a hand to her chest. `Jesus! Why does it hurt so much?`
She lay back on the bed and regarded the ceiling above her.
`You`re better off now anyway.` She thought, though whether the thought was
directed at herself or her absent friend, she didn`t know.
Cathy sat in her lounge and listened for her friend. She`d got home from work surprised to find a black bin bag full of clothes in her lounge. She`d knocked on Eden`s door but only received a short answer. Something about wanting to be left alone. She`d left her friend to it, until she heard her rummaging in the kitchen.
"What`re you looking for?" She asked from the kitchen doorway.
"Something to drink." Said Eden, not looking at her.
"What`s going on?"
"Nothing." Said Eden lightly. "What would be going on? I`d just like a drink. Is that ok with you?"
"Yeah, it`s fine. It`s just that if you drink when you`re upset you don`t know when to stop." She took a couple of steps towards her friend but stopped when Eden turned red rimmed eyes on her.
"It`s Tori isn`t it?" Said Cathy.
"Of course it`s Tori!" She spat, and picked up two bottles of strong cider that she`d found.
"Where is she?"
"I don`t know and I don`t care. It`s over, now if that`s all you need to know, I`m going to my room. Is that ok?" She asked and brushed past her friend, slamming the door to her bedroom behind her.
"Oh boy." Said Cathy and returned to her place in front of the tv.