A Little Piece of Paradise
The force of Tori`s scream grated against her throat, but still the blonde woman stood, unmoving, oblivious to Tori`s panic.
Tori couldn`t move an iron band across her throat made her breathing difficult, her limbs heavy.
Eden was lowered to the ground by the two men holding her. One held her shoulders, the other stood over her, looking first at the blonde on the ground and then across at Tori. He smiled at the two women`s helplessness.
Tori looked back at her lover. Eden`s arm was outstretched, reaching toward the taller woman, but there was no fear in her eyes.
"I love you Tori." She said, gentle green eyes smiling.
"No!" Tori sat bolt upright, her hands flying to her own throat to loosen the grip of the man behind her, but found only the soft flesh of her own neck.
She struggled for long moments to conquer her ragged breathing, dragging in lungful`s of air until the grasping pain in her chest subsided.
Finally she was calm and looked to her right, and found the peaceful, deeply asleep form of Eden, oblivious to the drama being played out in the bed she shared with her lover.
Tori sank back down, turning towards the smaller woman as she did so. Reaching out a hand she pushed some golden hair away from the relaxed face, watching as the girl`s forehead crinkled at the touch.
"Sssh." She said to the sleeping woman, "it`s only me."
Eden moved towards the sound of the low husky voice and wrapped herself around the warm body she found.
Tori accepted the gift and held on tight, there would be no more sleep for her that night.
Many hours later, Eden woke alone. Slowly the events of the previous night came back to her, and with it pain in her left breast and in her injured hand. She looked at her palm, pleased to see that the stitches had done their job and the cuts were healing nicely.
She had known immediately that her lover was not in the bed, but she was not surprised. Tori`s reaction to the attempted rape had been unexpected. Eden had needed her to be supportive, but she had been anything but. In fact she`d made things worse. She had taken out her anger and frustration on the younger woman, seemingly unable to come to terms with the helplessness she`d felt. But things did get better Eden accepted. Tori had realised that she was hurting her lover and had turned back into the woman that Eden had come to love. The woman that Eden was rapidly falling in love with.
Eden rolled onto her back and regarded the ceiling. She listened carefully, but couldn`t hear Tori moving around anywhere in the cottage. The numbers on the clock on the bedside cabinet told her it was 09.48. The curtains were drawn, and the small amount of daylight that slipped between them was dull.
The sound of footsteps on the stairs brought Eden`s attention to the door. It opened very slowly and a dark head poked around the door.
"Hi." Said Eden.
"`Morning." Said Tori, but didn`t enter the room. "I thought you were still asleep."
Eden shook her head. "Nope."
Tori still didn`t move, just her head showing, and one white teeshirt covered shoulder.
"Whatcha doing?" Asked Eden.
"Close your eyes." Said Tori, and disappeared.
Eden sat up, holding the quilt close to her body against the cold. "Why?" No answer. "Tori?"
"Eden, would you just close your eyes." A voice tinted with annoyance.
A sigh. "Ok."
Tori peeked around the door again and saw that Eden was sitting up in bed, the quilt clutched in her arms, her eyes tight shut.
For a moment Tori didn`t move, she just stood, taking in the sight before her.
"Ok, don`t open your eyes `til I tell you."
The strange noses that surrounded her tested Edens will power to the limit, but eventually Tori said. "Alright, you can open them now."
Eden opened her eyes to find herself surrounded by red.
There were balloons everywhere, must have been about thirty. Thirty red balloons claiming, `I love you Eden Gallagher.`
Eden grabbed one as it floated towards her. "Tori, this is so cute!" She said, enjoying the blush that coloured her lover`s face. "Did you blow these all up yourself?"
Tori laughed. "No, the guy I bought them from gave me something to inflate them."
Eden noticed she had an arm behind her back. "What do you have there?"
Tori brought her hand out from behind her and presented Eden with the rose. A single red rose, perfect in size and shape. As she handed it to the blonde she leaned down, capturing her lips in a delicate kiss. "Be my valentine?" She asked.
Eden took the rose, sniffing it, then turned sheepish eyes in her lover`s direction.
"What?" Asked Tori.
"I forgot it was today, I`m sorry,"
Tori edged onto the bed next to her lover. "Don`t be sorry. You`re here, that`s all I need."
Eden remained silent for a moment, then shifted to look at the dark woman beside her. "Tori, we need to talk."
Tori felt her stomach muscles cramp, but nodded slightly. "About last night?"
Eden let out a long shuddering breath.
"I thought maybe I could make you forget with these." Said Tori, indicating the gently bobbing balloons with a tilt of her head.
Eden leaned heavily against a firm shoulder. "You were angry with me." It was a statement, not a question.
"You were stupid."
"Absolutely." Said Tori, sitting up straighter so that she was no longer in contact with Eden. "You had the chance to run, you should have taken it."
"So if it was me there, you would have run?" Said Eden, tapping her chin lightly with the bloom.
"Didn`t think so." Said the blonde quietly.
Tori pulled her knees up to her chest and clamped two long arms around them. "No-one`s ever cared enough to do anything like that for me. I guess I`m just not used to it." She ran a shaking hand through tangled ebony locks. Then found that hand captured by a smaller one. The touch broke the tenuous hold Tori had on her emotions, and she pulled her hand from her lover`s and buried her face in her palms.
Eden carefully put the rose on the beside cabinet and turned, pulling the now shaking woman into her arms.
"Ssshhh." She whispered into the dark hair, rocking the trembling woman against her own chest.
"I couldn`t help you." Came the muffled voice. "I couldn`t get to you. If the police hadn`t arrived.........."
"But they did. Don`t start with `what ifs`." Eden reasoned. "We`re ok. I`m ok." She pushed Tori away so that she could see her face. Making eye contact she said. "And I`d do the same again."
"No you won`t!" Said Tori, sitting up. "You will never be hurt because of me. Never!"
Tori tried to get out of the bed, but Eden held on, and in the end she gave up, allowing herself to be pulled down into the warmth of the bed with her lover.
"It`s only been just over a week." Said Tori.
"And?" Said Eden, shuggling closer.
"And how many times have you been hurt in the last few days?"
"I`ve felt happy more than I`ve felt bad."
Tori sniffed. "Really?"
"Really." She snaked a hand under the teeshirt Tori was wearing, finding smooth warm skin and feeling an intake of breath from her tall lover. "I want to stay with you." The hand made its way higher, cupping a firm breast. "For a long time." A dark nipple hardened at the touch. "Is that ok with you."
When no answer was forthcoming she looked up at the angular face above her.
"Tori?" She asked, giving the nipple she was worrying a tweak.
Tori`s face was a picture of calm. She turned towards the blonde and opened her eyes, making Eden`s heart skip a beat when she saw the honesty in them.
"Whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want. Take me now."
Eden stared at her for a long moment. Tori had never asked her that, had never given herself without the tiniest struggle.
So Eden knelt on the bed and pulled the shirt over Tori`s head, depositing it beside the bed.
"So this is mine?" She asked, running her hands from broad shoulders to firm thighs, watching as the muscles beneath the skin reacted to her touch.
"Everything I have."
Eden smiled and found the blue eyes again. "Is that a proposal?"
Tori seemed to think for a moment, her brow furrowing briefly. "Dammit, I think it was."
"Say it then." Eden stilled her hands, one on a shoulder, the other firmly situated over Tori`s heart. She felt the heartbeat increase, the silence in the room pulsating in her own ears.
"I want.... you. "
"Is that it?" Eden teased.
"I want you forever." Tori said in a rush. "We could go abroad, they do it there. Hawaii or somewhere."
"Tori, say it for goodness sake." Eden pressed her palm harder against the wildly beating heart. Needing to hear the words.
Tori closed her eyes. "Will you marry me?" She said, her voice surprisingly calm.
When no answer came she opened her eyes to find tearful green eyes looking down at her. "Yes." One word, but the one word Tori needed to hear above all others.
Tori reached up and pulled the smaller woman down onto her body. "No-one`s ever given me so much." Said Tori, breathing in the scent of the golden hair.
Eden pushed herself back up, and surveyed the body beneath her. "Now, where were we?" She said, lowering her mouth to her lover`s breast.
They were out of bed, but still in dressing gowns when the police woman who had spoken to them the previous night knocked the door. After a quick discussion they both shrugged and let her in. If she was shocked she was professional enough not to show it. She took statements from both, descriptions of their assailants, and left them some leaflets about counselling. After just under an hour she was gone.
"D`you think they`ll catch them?" Asked Eden as she closed the front door.
"Probably not until they get caught in the act. They looked pretty ordinary, nothing unusual about them."
"I`d remember them again." Eden said, walking towards Tori.
"Yeah, so would I." Tori opened her arms and allowed the younger woman to walk into them, and they stood there, for a long time, just thinking.
Much later the two women were showered and changed and heading into the centre of Bath again, this time Tori parked in the grounds of the Bath Spa hotel. She`d remembered Eden`s admission that she`d never been in it, so had booked a table for two for their first Valentine meal together.
It was a relaxed evening, and Tori felt it was one of the most wonderful she`d ever spent. As she waited for Eden to return from the ladies she wondered for the hundreth time why the blonde woman was sticking with her. But in that moment decided give up questioning it. She was finding something she`d never sought and certainly didn`t expect. But now she had this feeling, it was beginning to fit around her like a comfortable old sweater.
Eden was giving herself. Completely. No conditions. That had never happened before. And that afternoon Tori had given herself to her lover.
It had taken will power. Once or twice she had to resist the urge to take the smaller woman and throw her onto her back, taking her as she`d taken other women in the past. But she`d allowed Eden to make her own pace. Letting her take her time, letting her take Tori to heights she thought were unattainable.
And after, as she lay sated and exhausted, she allowed Eden to pull her into her arms. And she slept, wrapped in the love and sanctuary of another. Feeling safe, protected, and at peace.
A touch on her shoulder, and she turned her head, finding her lips claimed by softness. A quick kiss and Eden was sitting opposite her again, looking with pleasure at one or two surprised faces at other tables.
"What were you thinking about? I was standing behind you for a while." Asked the blonde.
Eden smiled, playing with the cutlery on the table. "Were they good thoughts?"
Tori sat back in her chair. "Wonderful thoughts." She said and leaned forward, just as the waiter arrived with their main course.
"Fillet?" he asked.
Tori nodded at his enquiry and he put her plate in front of her. Then walked around Eden so he could serve her from the correct side.
"Can I get you a bottle of wine?" He asked.
Tori nodded. "Whichever the manager recommends." She said, then looking towards Eden. "Gotta get my own back for earlier."
"No you don`t, you won`t get me drunk anyway." Said Eden, cutting into her steak.
"Not on your nelly. I have to work tomorrow."
"We`ll see." Blue eyes twinkled.
"I won`t." Green flashed.
A slight tap on her right thigh brought Eden back to the land of the living.
"We`re here." Said her lover, "how d`you feel?"
Eden pushed herself up in the car seat and peered out of the windscreen. "I`m fine, why?"
"You were making strange noises all the way back." Said Tori, who stepped out of the Shogun and walked around to the passenger side. She opened the door and waited while Eden struggled with the seat belt.
"Here." Said the tall woman, leaning across the blonde and unfastening the seatbelt clasp, taking the opportunity to have a long, leisurely taste of the soft lips of her lover.
Then she was gone. Striding across the wet driveway to the front door of the cottage, and opening it before Eden had managed to get out of her seat.
`Why does she always park so far away?` The blonde thought as she left the warm interior of the car and made her unsteady way towards the door.
Once in the cottage she went directly to the lounge and slumped down on the sofa.
"Coffee?" Came the call from the kitchen.
"Sounds good." Called Eden, pulling her feet beneath her and snuggling into a corner of the large, soft couch.
It was only five minutes later that Tori brought two mugs into the lounge and set them on the low table, but by then the blonde was fast asleep. She pulled the table within reach and lifted Eden gently, pulling her into her lap as she settled beside the sleeping woman.
Eden stirred, and Tori smoothed her hair and kissed the top of her head. "No wine huh?"
"S`your fault." The blonde mumbled.
"I didn`t force you to drink it." Tori said defensively.
"Y`kept filling the glass." Eden struggled to raise her head and look at her lover. "Thanks."
"For what?" Tori asked.
"For the evening. It was wonderful. And for letting me stay here with you." She let her head drop onto the broad shoulder again.
"I don`t want to be alone anymore." Tori whispered.
"You`re not." Said Eden, and pulled the dark head down for a long lingering kiss. "Let`s go to bed." Said Eden breathlessly as they parted.
"Can you make it all the way up there?" Said Tori as she stood and picked up the two mugs of coffee.
"I`m bloody sure I can." Said Eden who launched herself across the lounge floor towards the door, rebounding off the door frame on her way out.
Tori winced, and followed her love closely as she climbed the stairs on
Eden was sure she`d only been asleep a few minutes when the alarm went off at 07.30.
After she`d managed to climb the stairs and fall into bed the previous evening she and Tori had made love until the small hours. She knew she should be trying to sleep, but everytime she settled down her hand would find the soft warm flesh of her lover and start another exploration. When finally exhaustion caught up with both women it was nearly three.
And now the alarm was complaining because neither woman had the energy to turn the damn thing off. Finally a long arm reached across a small unmoving body and swatted the thing, sending it, still complaining, to the floor.
Eden leaned out of the bed and reached down, fumbling around, before silencing it. She turned back and returned to her place, winding her arm across Tori`s stomach.
"Bugger." Came the voice, muffled by a smooth neck.
"Get up." Said Tori, nudging her.
"Can you afford to keep me?" Asked Eden, refusing to move.
"Probably." Said Tori, after very little thought. "Would you like me to?"
Eden shook her head, causing her hair to make the tall woman squirm. "Hey, that tickles." Tori complained.
"I just want to stay here forever." Said Eden, unwilling to venture out of the warm bed.
"Me too." Admitted Tori, who sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed. "Come on. You go shower and I`ll make you some breakfast." She grabbed a robe and stood in the doorway. For a moment she stood watching, and realised that Eden was drifting back off to sleep. So she crept back to the bed and leaned over her lover, capturing Eden`s lips with her own. "Get up." She whispered.
"Am up." Said Eden, who sat up scrubbing her face with her hands, and hurting the injured one in the process. She peered at the stitches. "Will you make me an appointment to see the doctor one day this week? These can probably come out now."
Tori turned the small hand over in her own, examining the stitches. "Sure I will, is the number still by the phone?"
Eden nodded and started to get out of bed, when she was captured in strong arms and pulled into a tight hug. "I`m going to miss you today." Tori pouted.
"I`ll miss you too." Said Eden, who managed to stand, still held tightly by the taller woman. "Go make me some toast." She said, giving Tori a quick peck on the cheek.
"Toast? Is that all?"
"That`ll do. The baguette man calls about eleven, I always have one of his egg and bacon ones."
Tori shrugged and made her way down to the kitchen while Eden started the shower running.
It was a little before nine when Tori dropped Eden off on the corner of Queen Square. Eden leaned across and gave her a quick kiss before jumping out of the Shogun. She looked back and gave her lover a quick wave before disappearing around the corner.
Once Tori had lost sight of the blonde she made her way back to the cottage. She had some e-mails to write and some phone calls to make. Half way up Wellsway her mobile phone chirped.
"Yeah?" She said.
"Miss you already." Came the familiar voice. "Where are you?"
"Just turning off Wellsway."
"Call me when you get home?"
"Ok, why?" She said smiling.
"No reason, just want to hear from you every hour or so."
Tori chuckled. "Ok, every hour then."
"Thanks. Love you."
"Love you too." Tori turned off the phone and threw it on the passenger seat.
Five minutes later she was turning off Summer Lane into the driveway of the cottage she now shared with her lover.
She saw the large car immediately and pulled the Shogun to a halt beside it. As she opened the car door, so the door on the other car opened and a distinguished looking gentleman got out, slamming the door behind him.
"Victoria." He said.
"Good morning Father." Said Tori.