A Little Piece of Paradise
Tori awoke with a pounding headache. The light in the bedroom was still on and she saw by her watch it was just after 10pm.
`Come on, pull yourself together. It`s not as if it hasn`t happened before, what`s the big deal?` She thought, sitting up. `The big deal is you loved her.` She realised.
`Don`t be a stupid bitch.` Tori`s best conversations were always with herself. `You don`t have it in you. Get yourself back to London, that`s where you belong. With the people that understand you, the kind that know you.`
Tori stood and walked to the mirror, looking at herself long and hard. "You really thought you`d found it this time didn`t you?" She said out loud.
"Love.................. Don`t make me fucking laugh."
She went downstairs and into the kitchen, looking through the cupboards to find a bottle of wine she`d bought only the day before.
It caught her eye. A small piece of crumpled paper. She reached under the table and picked it up. It was part of a cheque. One half, screwed up and thrown there.
She saw the signature and the amount it was made out for. The space for a payee had been left blank.
"You bitch." She said. "You fucking BITCH!"
Knocking a chair over on her way she made for the door, ignoring her coat and slamming the front door on her way out.
Cathy was still sitting in the lounge when the knock came. She`d listened to Eden`s music playing, and had seen her once or twice when she emerged from her room to find more alcohol. Eden had managed to find three small bottles of strong `designer` cider, and a bottle of wine she`d bought some time before.
She knew before she opened the door who she`d find standing on her doorstep.
"Is she here?" Said Tori, peering beyond her into the flat.
"Yes, she`s here." Said Cathy pushing the tall woman back slightly and pulling the door together behind her. "She`s been drinking.................. What happened?"
"Hasn`t she told you?" Asked Tori.
Cathy shook her head. "Nope. She`s in a pig of a mood. Just said it was over and has spent the last few hours in her room."
Tori sighed. "I think my mother paid her a visit. I went to London to sort some things out. When I got back she was gone."
Cathy looked at the tall woman who was shivering on her doorstep. "Come on in." She said and held the door open for Tori to enter.
Tori stopped in the hallway and looked back at Cathy. "In there." Cathy pointed to the lounge. "Sit down."
Tori sat on the chair and rested her head in her hands. When she looked back up the tears that had been threatening fell. "This is the last thing I wanted." She said, suddenly feeling a need to explain herself.
"I`ve know Eden for nine years, and this week she`s been the happiest I`ve ever seen her and the saddest."
Tori shook her head. "I need to talk to her. I need to tell her........................" Tori`s throat closed.
"Tell her what?"
"How much I love her." Again Tori was surprised at her own words.
"And if she won`t talk to you?"
"I`ll go." Said Tori quickly, "she`ll never hear from me again. But I just want one chance, just a few minutes."
Cathy stood suddenly. "I`ll go talk to her.............. but if she says no?"
"Just tell her I said I love her."
"Ok. Wait here." Cathy watched the taller woman stand. "No, wait here."
Tori sat again, and waited.
Cathy stood outside Eden`s door and listened. She couldn`t hear the music that her friend had been playing earlier in the evening, and she couldn`t hear Eden moving around. She tapped on the door. "Eden?" There was no answer.
She turned the knob and pushed the door open.
The only light came from a lamp which had been placed on the floor. The display glowed red on the cd player, the last cd long finished.
Eden lay face down on the bed, the empty cider bottles on the floor, but the wine bottle unopened.
Cathy sat on the edge of the bed and put a hand on the gently moving back.
"Hey there. " She whispered.
"Cathy?" Two bloodshot green eyes turned her way.
"Yeah, how d`you feel?" Asked Cathy feeling the heat beneath her hand.
"Bloody awful." Eden sat up and leaned back against the headboard. "I didn`t drink the wine."
"I saw, good idea."
"What`s the point huh? It won`t change anything. Just makes me forget for a while." She turned red rimmed eyes on her friend.
Cathy saw the beginnings of tears and held her arms open for her friend.
Eden didn`t refuse the comfort and fell into her flatmate`s arms. "I feel so stupid." She said between sobs.
"I really thought she meant it. I thought she loved me, she said she did." She paused as her throat constricted. "But I was just another number, another notch."
"You gonna tell me what happened?"
"She sent her mother to see me off."
"Did her mother tell you this?"
Eden nodded into her friend`s shoulder.
"And you believed her mother?" Cathy asked.
"Why shouldn`t I?"
Cathy shrugged. "Have you spoken to Tori?"
Eden shook her head. "She ran off, let her mother do her dirty work."
"I think you should let Tori explain herself."
Eden shrugged herself out of Cathy`s embrace. "Why?"
"Because she deserves the chance."
"What aren`t you telling me?" Eden pushed the damp hair off of her forehead, cider always made her sweat.
"She`s here, she wants to talk to you." Cathy watched her friend stand, wobble a little then steady herself.
Cathy stood too. "She says to tell you she loves you."
Eden crumpled as her hands flew to her face and the tears started again, she ended up on her knees beside the bed.
Cathy knelt beside her and put an arm around shaking shoulders. "Just give her a chance." She pushed golden hair back from the flushed face. "Let her explain."
"I don`t know if I can trust her again. I don`t want to hurt like this anymore."
"She`s here Eden, would she be if she didn`t care. Hmm? Come on." She stood offering her hand to her friend.
Eden nodded and allowed herself to be pulled to her feet. "Let me wash my face." She said as she tried to pull herself together.
Tori looked up as Cathy returned to the lounge, she stood but stopped as Cathy held up her hand. "She`s a little drunk, though not as bad as I thought. She`s very upset, but she`s going to talk to you." She walked up to the tall woman and put a hand on her arm. "Don`t blow it Tori."
"I won`t, thank you Cathy."
Behind Cathy the door opened. She turned and left the room placing a hand on Eden`s shoulder as she left.
Tori started to make her way towards her. "No, sit down Tori." Said Eden, who shut the door and leaned against it, staring at the carpet.
Tori did as she was asked. She watched the blonde, the pain in her chest intensifying.
Tori waited, giving Eden some time.
"You just left." Said the blonde.
Eden looked up, green eyes finding blue. "You just left me."
Tori looked away, unable to meet the accusing glare.
"Did you send her?"
Tori shook her head. "No. I told father I was going to London. He must have sent her."
"She said you were getting married." Eden still leaned against the door, her hands behind her, taking her weight.
"I`m not, I told father today."
There was a long silence. Eden regarded her lover for the longest time, looking for the lie in her eyes, and seeing none.
Eden`s chin dropped onto her chest. "My head hurts."
Tori stood and slowly closed the distance between them. She stood in front of the blonde, her feet appearing in Eden`s line of sight.
"I love you Eden."
Eden brought her hands from behind her and crossed her arms across her chest as if in pain. Tori could see that the hands were shaking.
"You`re trembling." She said reaching for the small hands.
Eden snatched her hands away, Tori retreated a little. "Eden, I`m sorry. I didn`t send her, I didn`t know she was coming."
"You could have left a note."
Tori ducked so that she could look into the flushed face. "I did. I left it on the kitchen table."
Eden`s breathing seemed to become difficult. "She must have taken it." She said, then she looked at Tori. "She offered me money."
Tori sighed. "That`s the only language they know. If there`s something they want, they buy it. They wanted you out of my life."
"Why did you go? Why didn`t you wake me?"
"Because it was going to be a surprise." Tori ran a shaking hand through her hair. "I put the Chelsea flat on the market." She smiled. It was a smile that had haunted Eden all day. "I`m burning my bridges Eden, I`m not going back."
The sob that erupted from Eden`s chest startled Tori almost as much as the small body that flung itself into her arms.
She held on, burying her face in the golden hair. "Ssshh, don`t cry over me." She said, trying to calm the sobbing woman.
Tori eased them both back so that they could sit on the sofa. She pulled Eden close and held the fair head against her chest.
"You`re hot." She said to her lover.
"It`s the cider." Said Eden. "You`re heart`s pounding." She noticed, her ear picking up the thumping sound.
"You scared the shit out of me, that`s why."
Eden pulled away and looked at the tense face above her. "I did?"
Tori nodded. "When I got home and you weren`t there, I thought you`d taken the chance to run."
"Run? Do these last few days say nothing to you?" Eden shook her head in disbelief.
"You have to understand, I`ve never had this happen before. I`m expecting you to leave at any moment." Tori rubbed her forehead. "I`m not handling this love stuff very well am I?"
Eden snuggled into the tall woman`s arms again. "Don`t do that again."
"Leave without waking me."
"Oh, ok." Tori was quiet for a moment, but there was a question on the tip of her tongue. "I was thinking." She held on a little tighter. "The week`s nearly over. Well, I was wondering if you`d like to stay on a little longer."
Eden`s head came up from its place on Tori`s chest. "At the cottage?"
"I have to go back to work on monday."
"That`s fine, I`ll take you." Said Tori, pulling the blonde head back to its resting place. "I`d just like you around for a little longer. I`ve kinda gotten used to you being around."
Eden sighed deeply. "What are you going to do about your parents?" She heard the heartbeat increase.
"I`ll call them tomorrow. Make it perfectly clear that I`m not going back. I didn`t get to see Damien today, I ran out of time."
"What did you do then?"
Another sigh. "Well, I saw a friend. He`s going to put the Chelsea flat on the market. He`s also arranging for it to be cleared and all my stuff put into storage." At the quizzical look she got from her lover she added. "I worked with him at the family business in London. He works for another agency now though."
"Your mother said she`d done it before. Paid off your girfriends."
"Eden, my mother has never taken a blind bit of notice of what I do with my life. The only difference now is that it`s affecting what she considers to be the running of things. Father is probably going crazy right now. All she`s worried about it having a peaceful life."
"Isn`t that what we all want?"
"Sure, but at what cost? She was willing to lie to get you away from me."
"She had a key too. That was another reason I thought you`d sent her."
Tori thought for a moment. "They probably asked the landlord for a key when father sent the rent advance. When I buy it I`ll get................."
"What!" Eden sat bolt upright. "What did you say?"
Tori smiled. "That was another surprise. I called the landlord and asked him if he`d be willing to sell. I like it here. I`d like to make it my home."
"Wow. What did he say?"
She looked like a kid on Christmas morning, how could a half hour change someone so much Tori wondered.
"He said he`d think about it. It was his mother`s house, most of the furniture used to be hers, he said he`d want that."
"That`s ok isn`t it?"
"Yeah, fine. I`ll have all the furniture from London. I`ll need some stuff, but you can help me choose that."
Eden hugged her again. "I can`t believe you`re staying. I was dreading the day you were going back."
"I think the possibility of that flew out of the window last sunday night. I knew then you were stuck with me."
There was a knock on the door and a dark head poked around it. "You two ok?"
"Cathy, come in. It is your flat after all." Eden said staightening up on the sofa.
Cathy sat opposite them in the chair. "So, you`ve sorted it out?"
"We have, it was a misunderstanding." Eden grabbed Tori`s hand and wrapped both of hers around it.
"I`m glad. Can`t take too much of tipsy Gallagher here." She said, smiling at her friend.
Eden blushed. "I`m sorry, I know it`s stupid. I`m surprised I haven`t been sick yet."
"Well, you didn`t get round to the wine, that`s why." Cathy stood. "As you two are obviously ok, I`m going to bed. " She looked from one to the other. "See you in the morning?"
Tori looked at Eden and shrugged.
"Sure." Said the blonde.
Tori stood in Eden`s room and eyes the bed suspiciously. "You really think we`ll both fit in there?"
The bed was a single, and not quite as long as the king sized bed in the cottage.
"It`ll be cosy." Said Eden. "Come on, I need a shower and with this damn bandage, I`ll need some help."
"I think it could probably come off now anyway."
Eden held her hand protectively to her chest. "No, I don`t want to take it off yet. I`m not ready to see it for a bit."
Tori pulled her into her arms. "Ok, lets find something to cover it though."
They went into the kitchen and managed to find a palstic bag. They put that over the hand a kpt it in place with a thick elastic band.
"There." Said Tori, "but I`m still gonna wash your back."
The shower took far longer than it should, and eventually Eden was snuggled up in bed and fighting to keep her eyes open.
"Hey, budge up." Said Tori as she pulled the covers back and attempted to squeeze into the bed.
Eden shifted over slightly and latched onto the warm body of her lover.
Tori pulled the quilt up and over them, and then wound her arms and legs around the smaller body beside her.
"Told you." Came the tired voice.
"Told me what?" Asked Tori.
"Yeah, it is that, but if I end up on the floor, you`re coming with me." She said and held on tighter to the incredibly soft and warm body of the blonde.
The green eyes found hers. "You`re not going anywhere without me. Ever."
"Ok." Said Tori. "That`s a deal."