A Little Piece of Paradise
Eden was cold, and yet she was hot. Her mouth felt like a carpet, and her head like a rock.
But she felt happier than she had in her entire life.
She cracked open one eye and her vision was filled by smooth tanned skin, which rose and fell gently with the movement of breathing.
She was half on top of Tori, but the quilt had slipped off of her and was half on the taller woman and half on the floor.
One long arm was wound around her back holding her in place and her right arm was draped across Tori's stomach.
She lifted her head, regretting it immediately when the pounding at her temples increased, but lessened slightly when she took in the relaxed countenance of her lover.
With a sigh she disentangled herself from the woman, standing beside the bed and pulling the quilt back across the sleeping form. She was vaguely surprised that she hadn't woken Tori, before remembering the previous day and the early hour her companion had left the house.
Picking up her robe she left the bedroom and made her way to the bathroom.
Ten minutes later she was in the kitchen, filling the kettle.
"Good morning." She turned at the sound of her friend's voice and took two steps and threw herself in Cathy's arms.
"Thank you." She said, burying her face in her friend's shouler.
"For what?" Asked Cathy, a little shocked at Eden's reaction.
Eden released her and leaned back against the counter. "I'd given up, had enough. If you hadn't persuaded me to talk to her I would never have seen her again."
"You didn't see her face when she got here. She was desperate."
Eden chuckled. "Cathy, Tori is many things but I wouldn't call her desperate. She would have gone on."
Cathy shook her head. "No, I don't think so. She acts tough, but under all that she's pretty fragile. She needs you."
"Cathy, I.............." Eden began.
"No, Eddie, believe me. She needs you."
Eden was still for a long moment, unable to accept what her friend was telling her until the shrill whistle of the kettle brought her round.
She reached over and turned down the gas under the kettle then turned back to her friend. "I thought I was the needy one."
"I saw pain in her eyes last night." Said Cathy. "She thought she'd lost you, she was virtually begging me to ask you to talk to her."
"What d'you think would have happened if I hadn't?"
"Don't think like that. Don't think about 'what ifs'." Cathy took two steps towards her friend and cupped her cheek. "You're happy aren't you?"
Eden nodded. "I am. It's been a struggle, she thinks she doesn't deserve happiness."
"Really?" Said Cathy who retrieved three mugs from a shelf and put a tea bag in each. "Why?"
"I'm not sure, I haven't really gotten to the bottom of it yet." She smiled at her friend. "But I will."
Eden turned the gas up again, bringing the kettle to the boil again, before pouring the steaming water into the three mugs.
She turned back to Cathy who was retrieving the milk from the fridge. "I think she may be a little afraid of commitment."
"I guess we all have a problem with that. It's knowing who to commit to I suppose, putting all your hopes and fears into one basket and offering it to somone to hold." Cathy screwed her face up, trying to understand her own statement.
Eden paused before answering. "Yeah well, I don't think there's a basket big enough for all my hopes, and certainly not one big enough for Tori's fears. But maybe, between us, we can get through."
"So what now?" Asked Cathy, taking a sip of her tea.
"She's asked me to stay on at the cottage a little longer." Eden looked up from her cup. "That's ok with you isn't it?"
"I'm your flatmate Eden, not your mother. You can do what you like."
"I'll still pay you the rent."
"Actually, you may not need to." Said Cathy.
"Don't tell me! Darren's moving in." Said Eden, a huge smile creasing her face.
"Yeah, he, um, asked me to marry him."
The squeal that erupted from Eden, was cut short when she remembered her sleeping lover in the other room. "Oh wow, when was this?" She whispered loudly.
"And you didn't tell me?"
"Well, you weren't exactly in a listening mood last night, were you?"
Eden put her mug down and embraced her friend. "I'm so happy for you." She said.
"Thanks, I knew you would be." Cathy picked up her mug again. "There's plenty of time though, I don't want you to feel forced out."
"I know." Eden picked up the two steaming mugs. "I'm going
back to bed for a while, see you later."
Eden stood just inside the door of her bedroom and regarded the sleeping figure with affection. Tori had turned onto her stomach and was still deeply asleep. Both feet stuck out from the bottom of the quilt and one hand brushed the floor.
"Look who's sleeping in my bed." Eden whispered as she put the mugs down on the bedside cabinet.
She knelt beside the bed, lifting the hand of her lover from the floor and cradling it in both of hers. She brought the fingers to her lips and kissed them gently, watching a slight smile form on the sleeping face.
She brushed back some dark hair from the relaxed face. "Hey there." She said quietly and watched as the blue eyes fluttered open.
"'Morning." Said Tori as her eyes found and then focused on the form of her lover. "Been up long?"
"No. I brought you a cup of tea."
Tori shifted over so that Eden could get back into the small bed, and, with it being such a small bed, she held onto the blonde fiercely.
"You must have been tired." Said Eden. "I don't think I've ever woken up before you."
Tori smiled down at the blonde. "What d'you mean ever? We've only had a week."
"You're right, but it seems like forever. Don't you think?"
Tori nodded. "You know, I've never been with anyone longer than a few days. Well, except for Jodie."
"Tell me about her?" Asked Eden.
"Not much to tell. We were room-mates at Uni. We slept together, that was about it."
"Did you love her?"
"I told you Eden, I've never loved anyone before." Tori reached over and carefully picked up her mug of tea. "Oooh, that hit the spot." She said after taking a mouthful.
"So it was just a sex thing?" Eden persisted.
"Yeah, I suppose so."
"Was she your first?"
Tori put her mug back down. "Is this an interview?"
Eden shook her head. "No, I'd just like to know some more things about you."
"No she wasn't my first."
"Was your first a woman?"
"What's that supposed to mean?" Said Eden, sitting up and reaching across Tori for her mug, giving her lover a look when she sniggered at the Snoopy mug.
"Would you call a sixteen year old girl a woman?"
"You lost your virginity to a sixteen year old?"
Tori nodded. "I was sixteen too, we were at the boarding school. We were just fooling around really. What about you?" Tori wanted to steer the conversation away from her.
There was silence for a long moment. "I was seventeen." Eden began. "There was this boy at college, he asked me out." She curled her hands around the mug and Tori noticed that they were shaking slightly.
"Hey, don't tell me if you don't want to." She said as she took the mug out of the smaller woman's hands.
"No, it's about time."
"For getting rid of this." Eden took a deep breath. "Anyway, I went out with him. I was playing along with what my parents wanted, but even then I'd decided that something wasn't right. I wasn't really interested in going out with him, but all my friend's had boyfriends so I thought I should 'fit in.' He used to be able to borrow his father's car. We went to some pubs. I don't know how he managed to get me drinks. At seventeen I looked about fifteen, but somehow he managed. He got me pretty drunk, drove me out to a country lane and parked up."
Eden paused, her eyes were far away, back there in that country lane. The steamed up windows, the grasping hands.
"He raped you, didn't he?" Tori asked, her heart hammering in her chest.
Eden nodded and Tori pulled her over and into her arms.
"Did you report it?"
"No, I was young, I couldn't face the police. But most of all I was ashamed."
Eden shrugged. "Don't know. Thought it was my fault I guess. He told me I'd lead him on, said I didn't object when he drove me out there. I started to believe it."
Tori tightened her embrace. "I'm sorry that happened to you."
"Yeah, me too. Taught me some lessons though, I was a little less trusting after that."
"Did it, um." Tori sought for the right words. "Did it put you off men completely?"
"If you're asking if that's when I decided I was gay, the answer's no. I went out with other men, slept with them. But on my terms. I've also had sex with a few women." She turned towards Tori, shifting over so that she was laying on top of the taller woman. "But I've only made love to you."
Tori was quiet for a long moment. "Eden, the things you say. You know, no-one's ever said anything like that to me before."
"I've never had cause to say that to anyone before." Said Eden, leaning forward and nipping her lover's bottom lip. "But it's true." She waited a moment, then asked. "Tell me what you did in London. Tell me why you think you don't deserve this."
Tori closed her eyes. How much should she tell this woman? How much could she know before running screaming into the night?
'Ok, let's get this over with.' Tori took a deep breath.
"After I left Uni and Jodie I went home and started working for my father. I inherited the Chelsea flat from my maternal grandmother. For a while the business took up most of my time. Then I began going to The Gym. It's a gay club in Chelsea. Well, a lesbian club. "
Eden gave her a squeeze and encouraged to continue.
"I built myself a reputation there. It wasn't good."
"Go on." Said Eden.
"You don't want to hear this." Said Tori, suddenly uncomfortable
"Yes, I do."
Tori looked at her, and in that moment knew she could trust her. "It became a game." She began. "I'd time myself and see how long it took before I was invited home."
"By someone at the club?"
"They all wanted a piece of me. I was the rich bitch, they all knew my name. They all thought I was a ticket to the good life, so I used that. I used them."
"So what's different here?"
Tori sighed. "You." She said simply. "This is why I fought. I didn't think I'd be able to get out of the habit of using. I didn't want to use you."
Eden smiled. "Hey." She said huskily. "Use me."
"Don't joke about it." Said Tori, pouting.
"That's new, I've never seen that face before." Eden kissed away the pout.
"Don't let me hurt you." Tori said seriously.
"The only way you can do that is by leaving. Twice you left me....... " Tori started to interrupt, but Eden silenced her with a shake of the head. "No, I know you didn't leave me yesterday, but it felt like you did. I just want to be with you Tori."
The dark woman wrapped her arms tighter around her lover. "And I want to be with you. But there's one condition."
Eden's head snapped up. "What?" She didn't like conditions.
"We never, ever, sleep in a bed as small as this again." Said Tori wiggling her chilly toes.
Eden butted Tori's chest with her forehead and smiled into the soft skin. "It's a deal." She said. "Should we get up?"
"Not for a bit." Said Tori who closed her eyes and enjoyed the closeness of her love.
Eden must have dozed because she woke up some time later, alone.
Getting up she picked up her bathrobe from the floor and went in search of her lover. She found Cathy in the kitchen talking to Darren.
"Hey." She said rushing to the man and giving him a hug.
At his questioning look Cathy said."I told her."
"Oh. You ok with that?" he asked the blonde who relelased him slowly.
"Of course you silly man! It's about time." She said and then looked round. "Where's Tori?"
"She's gone." Said Cathy, but seeing the fearful look on her friend's face she added. "But she says she'll only be an hour."
Eden smiled at her. "Stupid huh?"
Cathy put her arm around the blonde and lead her out of the kitchen and into the lounge, smiling at Darren's understanding look as she went.
"Are you going to be like this every time you wake up and she's not there?" Asked Cathy.
"Probably not, it's all still a little raw right now." Eden sat on the sofa. "I asked her not to leave without waking me."
"I've tried to wake you in the past, it's not the easiest thing to do."
"I was only dozing."
"If you were only dozing you would have woken when she went."
Eden pulled the robe tighter around her. "Did she say where she was going?"
"No, only that she wouldn't be long."
"Oh, well that's ok then." Eden stood. "I'm going to have a bath then pack some stuff."
"Are you......... you're going aren't you?" Said Cathy.
"She's asked me to stay longer, and I'm going to. Cathy, this is the most wonderful thing that's ever happened to me. I'm not going to let this go."
Cathy sat beside her friend and gave her a hug. "I'm happy for you Eddie. I just hope you know what you're doing. It's all moving awfully fast."
"We've been through just about everything in the past week. Now we just want to be together and enjoy it."
"I wish you luck." She said and held her friend until she heard the doorbell and heard Darren open the door to admit Eden's lover.
A dark eyebrow rose at the sight of the two friend's on the sofa. "Did I miss something?" Asked Tori.
"Come here you." Said Eden, rising and rushing into Tori's arms.
"What's this for?" She asked, and looked at Cathy over the blonde's shoulder as she made her exit from the lounge.
"Just for being you." She pushed away from the taller woman. "But on the other hand, I'm angry with you." Eden tried, but couldn't look angry.
"You are?" Said Tori, looking innocent, no easy feat.
"I told you to wake me before you went anywhere."
"Ah, well. I had some things to do. And if I hadn't left you then, I would never have gotten away."
"Really, why?" Asked Eden.
"Um, well, because............ you know." Tori took a couple of steps back from the advancing blonde.
"No I don't, explain." Said Eden, a small smile creasing her face.
Tori stopped and let Eden step closer so that their bodies just touched. She reached out and took Eden's shoulders in her hands, pulling the smaller woman into her own body. "I wanted you, I wanted my hands on you. I do now."
"So why did you go?" Eden said into the warm flesh of the woman's neck.
"I had things to do." Said Tori, letting her head fall back to expose more skin to the soft mouth.
"Must have been important things." Said Eden, taking a step back and pulling Tori with her towards the lounge door and then through the hallway into her bedroom.
Cathy and Darren saw them pass. "It's one o'clock in the afternoon." Said Darren, drinking his tea.
"So?" Asked Cathy.
"Well." Said Darren as means of explanation.
"You are such and old fogie." Said Cathy, "let's get rid of some of your inhibitions." She took him by the hand and lead him to her bedroom, leaving the rest of the flat in silence.