A Little Piece of Paradise
Tori walked past her father, opening the door to the cottage and standing back so that he could enter.
The tall man, at least four inches taller than his daughter, preceeded her into the hallway, then turned left into the lounge as if he`d lived there all his life. He was a handsome man, his face looking younger than his fifty six years, his hair showing a small amount of grey at the temples.
Tori went in the opposite direction, into the kitchen. She stood for a moment, hands gripping the side of the worktop. Then she filled the coffee maker with water and found a filter in the cupboard, measuring the correct amount of coffee and turning the appliance on. It took longer than making instant, but it was time she needed.
She walked across the hallway and into the lounge. Standing before her father she waited, he would have to be the first to speak.
"What do you think you are doing Victoria?" He asked, looking calm and executive in his suit. He cocked his head in question as he walked across the room and sat on the sofa.
Tori opened her mouth to speak but was interrupted by the sound of the phone ringing,
Her father tapped his fingers on the arm of the sofa as she reached across and picked up the instrument.
"Hey." Said the voice she loved.
Despite the tension she felt, Tori smiled. "Hi. I thought I was going to ring you."
"Can`t get into the swing of things." She said. Then, aware of the tension, asked, "is everything ok?"
"Everything`s fine. Can I call you later?"
There was silence from Eden for a moment. "Tori, is something wrong?"
"I`ll call you later." Tori said. "I have to go."
"Ok. I love you." Said Eden, her voice revealing the concern she felt.
"You too." Said Tori, and put the handpiece back in the cradle.
She turned back to her father, who regarded her with something approaching contempt.
"That was your little whore was it?" He asked, an eyebrow rising in question.
Tori ignored the question. "What do you want Father?" She asked.
"I want to know when you`re going to accept your responsibilties as a member of your family. I also want to know when you intend to return to London."
"Father, I`m not going anywhere. I`m not going back to London. I`m not going to marry Damien. I told you that the other day." She stood casually, the look hiding the hammering of her heart.
"Is that your final statement?"
"Very well." He said and reached into the inside pocket of his suit.
Tori took a step back, her eyes widening at her father`s swift actions. Then feeling ludicrous when he pulled out a folded piece of paper.
"I want you to sign this." He said holding the paper for her to take.
"What is it?" Asked Tori, taking the paper and studying it.
"It`s your agreement not to make any claim on the business, or use the Conrad name in any future business venture you may undertake."
Tori stared at her father blankly. "I don`t understand." She whispered.
"You are no longer my daughter." He said matter of factly. "From this moment on I don`t know you."
"You`ve never known me." She said.
He nodded. "That`s probably true." He stood and walked towards her. "If your brother had lived we could have gone through life without this little trial. But as it happens, we`ve discovered that you obviously have no sense of duty or loyalty."
Tori couldn`t help laughing. "I can`t believe you just said that. For twenty eight years I was kept in the background while you prepared Rory for taking over the business. Then all of a sudden I`m needed." She threw the paper on the low coffee table and walked towards the window. "I was prepared to marry that idiot." She turned to face him. "All because you don`t believe a woman could run the business."
For a moment he said nothing. "It was your mother`s idea. I married her in the understanding that she would provide me an heir. In the end, she did not. I told her that you were not stable enough..........."Tori opened her mouth to object and he raised a hand to quieten his daughter. "Not stable enough to run the business. She then found Damien and arranged for me to meet him. I was impressed with the young man and decided, with time, he would be a good addition to the family."
Tori shook her head slowly. "So even Damien was a set up?"
"It doesn`t matter now. " He said. "There are other arrangements I can make."
"So what about the business, are you going to sell it?" She asked.
"No, my son will inherit it."
`He`s gone crazy.` Tori thought.
Seeing his daughter`s look of bewilderment he smiled. "After you were born my dear, it seems your mother could no longer bear children." He took in his daughter`s look of surprise. "Did you not wonder why she hated you so?"
Tori shook her head.
" I took out a little insurance policy. I have a son, at a private school in Switzerland." He walked to the coffee table and picked up the document. "He`s fifteen, in about ten years he should be ready to enter into the business in some capacity, another five or so and he`ll be ready to take over, with my guidance of course."
"This doesn`t sound exactly moral." Tori said.
"I shall marry his mother. By the time he leaves school and university everyone that matters will have forgotten this fiasco."
"She knew the consequences." He said.
"So that was what inspired her little visit. She knew she`d lose her privileged lifestyle."
Gerald Conrad nodded. "I`ll make sure she`s comfortable. She may have to cut down in some areas. And speaking of comfortable, I`ll transfer a small amount to your account. You do use the same one?"
Tori strode to within an arm`s length of her father. "You don`t need to pay me off." Blue eyes flashed with anger. "I don`t need your money."
"You`ll take it Victoria, I won`t have some tabloid newspaper accusing me of deserting my daughter. I`ll transfer enough for you to start a business if you wish. I just insist you don`t use the Conrad name."
"Give me a pen." She said, holding out her hand and taking the fountain pen that her father took from his inside pocket.
She signed the papers and handed them back to him.
He took the papers, then reached a hand out and traced the cut on her temple. "Keeping some dubious company aren`t we?"
Tori jerked her face away from his touch.
He smirked and folded the document, sliding it into his jacket pocket. He turned and made his way to the door. As he opened it, letting in a cold draught he stopped and turned back to face his daughter.
"I hope she`s worth it." He said and walked out of his daughter`s life, slamming the door behind him.
"Oh, she is. I know she is." Said Tori as she sat on the bottom
stair and buried her head in her hands.
Eden`s eyes found the clock again. Then her hand found its way to the phone, again. She lifted the handset from the cradle and then replaced it again. `She`s a big girl Eden, she can look after herself."
Eden had no idea what it was that had made her lover so tense that morning. What if the Police had paid a visit? Something to do with the attack? Had her mother shown up again? Eden shivered at the memory of her encounter with Stephanie Conrad.
"Are you intending to do any work today Eddie?" Asked Mark, tapping a pen against his teeth.
"Sorry, I have this splitting headache." She said leaning her head on her hands and rubbing her temples.
"Really?" He was up out of his chair and across the office in a flash. He knelt beside her chair so he could see her face. "You do look a little pale." He said, putting a hand to her forehead.
"Do I?" Said Eden, not feeling ill in the least.
"Do you want to go home?" He asked.
"No Mark, I couldn`t. I`ve just had a week`s holiday. I`m just a little under the weather that`s all." She gave him a weak smile. "It`s nearly one o`clock. I`ll have something hot for lunch, then I`ll feel a lot better, I`m sure."
Mark stood and regarded her for a moment. "Go on. I want you to go home. There`s not much to do here. Go home and go to bed."
Eden stood slowly. "Are you sure Mark?" She said, even as she retrieved her coat from the back room.
"Yeah, go on." He said, pulling the coat tighter around her. "Besides, you might be coming down with something, and I don`t want it."
Eden walked slowly out of the office, giving Mark a wave through the window
as she put her umbrella up and made her way along Quiet Street towards Milsom
Street and the taxi rank.
Tori sat for a long time on that bottom stair, before making her way to the lounge. She sank onto it, raising her feet onto one end and her head on the other. A feeling of unaccountable exhaustion overwhelmed her, and as her eyes closed she whipered her lover`s name and saw, in her mind`s eye the beauty of her lover`s smile.
It was the rain pounding against the window that awoke her some hours later.
`I'm free.` She thought. `Dammit, I`m free.`
It was as if a huge weight had been lifted from her, and she lay there for the longest time just working out what she would do now.
She reached a hand across to the coffee table and picked up the phone. Dialling the number from memory she was surprised when Mark answered Eden`s extension number.
"Oh Mark, hello. Victoria Conrad. Can I speak to Eden? She`s not? She did? When was this? Ok, I`ll call her there. Thanks."
Obviously Eden hadn`t informed Mark where she was living, however temporary it may be.
She put the phone down and stared at it for a long time, before being snapped out of her reverie by the sound of a key in the door.
She was out of the lounge and across the hall before the blonde woman had time to undo her dripping coat.
Eden found herself pinned against the door in a crushing embrace. Frantic lips found hers and she yielded to the onslaught, allowing her obviously highly strung lover to take control of her.
Shaking hands undid her coat while her mouth was still occupied, and then her blouse. The fact that she was pinned to the door meant that her arms were trapped in the clothing that had been loosened, and as hard as she tried she couldn`t free her hands.
Tori lost patience when she came to the white bra and pushed it up, fastening her mouth on the breast it revealed.
"Tori!" Eden gasped as her mouth was freed. "What`s..............." She was silenced once again by her lover`s mouth, the urgency of the kiss slamming her head back into the solid bulk of the door.
This was..... different. It was exciting, and scary.
Eden knew something had happened, and knew it couldn`t be all bad. But what?
She winced slightly when a firm thigh was pressed against her sex. Warm hands kneaded her breasts and her lips were beginning to bruise.
Then she was falling, and yet felt safe.
She landed on the floor of the hallway, her arms still trapped in the sleeves of the coat which was bunched around her waist.
It should have brought unpleasant memories flooding back of brutal hands holding her, but instead she felt aroused beyond her wildest imaginations.
Tori looked down at her. "I love you." The older woman said. "I need you now, like this."
"I want to touch you." Said Eden, her breathing ragged.
"You will, but not yet, let me have this." Tori`s eyes were glistening with unshed tears and Eden nodded gently. "Thankyou." Said Tori and lowered her head, kissing her lover with the softest lips Eden had ever felt.
Eden no longered struggled against the confining sleeves of her coat. She lay back and surrendered her body to the ministrations of her lover. She sensed the need in the tall woman. There would be time to talk later, but now she wanted to give herself.
And Tori took her. Sliding down her body and leaving a trail of sensations as her hot mouth forged a trail across the perfect flesh. First latching onto a nipple, erect and sensative, before descending to dip into a navel which flinched under the dark woman`s tongue.
Eden felt her underwear removed, feeling it brush her face as it was thrown onto the floor above her head.
A large hand parted her thigh`s and ice blue eyes locked onto hers. Her own green eyes didn`t waver as the long finger`s entered her.
Eden arched her back into the sensation, wanting more, wanting to hold this woman who had claimed her soul and her body.
"Tori." She begged, once again struggling to free her arms.
But Tori ignored her, instead bending to add her mouth to the sweet torture.
Once again Eden`s head impacted with hard wood, this time the floor. If there was pain it didn`t register in the tortured mind of the young woman overloading on sensation.
Then Tori was pulling her into her arms, gathering her up as she gasped out her climax.
"You`re everything." Tori was saying. "Everything I need."
Eden lay wrapped in the long arms until her breathing returned to normal. She listened to the heartbeat of her lover slow and calm. She sighed and snuggled closer, revelling in the feelings of intimacy and security.
After a long moment Eden spoke. "Hi." She said.
Tori looked down into the almost unfocused green eyes. "Oh yeah, hi."
"We sort of missed that out when I arrived."
"We did. Sorry." Said Tori, and rubbed her cheek against the golden hair.
"No don`t apoligise. It was the best welcome I ever had." Eden managed to pull one hand free and caught a larger one, wrapping her hand around her lover`s and pulling it to her lips. "Something`s happened, hasn`t it." It wasn`t a question.
"Something bad?" Eden asked.
"No, not bad. Some might think so, but I don`t." She gave her lover a squeeze. "Shall we get comfy?"
"Might be a good idea." Said Eden, looking down at herself and the disarray of her clothes.
Tori stood, reaching down and pulling the blonde to her feet. She turned to walk into the lounge, but quickly realised that Eden wasn`t following her. Turning back she saw her half way up the stairs.
Eden turned back. "I`m half undressed, might as well get comfy up here."
Tori was not going to argue and followed her lover up to the bedroom.
Once they were both comfortably naked and snuggling under the covers Eden asked the first question.
"Someone was here when I called you, right?"
"My father." Tori said simply and felt her lover tense beside her. She ran her hand in soothing movements against the smooth back and tilted Eden`s chin up so she could look into her face.
"Don`t leave me." Whispered Eden, suddenly afraid that Tori`s almost desperate lovemaking earlier had been some sort of final fling.
"Never. I promise." She cupped a flushed cheek, kissing away the tears that had begun to roll down a glowing cheek. "Hey, hey. It`s ok. He`s disowned me. I`m free."
Tori hadn`t expected the reaction she got from the smaller woman. She thought she`d be happy. At least she hoped she`d be happy. But what she got was a weeping lover whose whole body shook with the force of her sobs.
"What........ Eden, what is it?"
Eden felt the long arms surround her and felt ridiculous. But however hard she tried she couldn`t control the emotions that were swamping her. She tried three times to explain to the worried woman who held her what she was feeling, but failed miserably each time.
She closed her eyes and willed her breathing to calm. "You`ve lost your family." She finally managed to gasp out.
"I can`t lose what I never had Eden. And besides, I found you. I have something to thank them for. I would never have come here if it hadn`t been for them."
"I suppose not." Said a sniffling Eden.
"Eden." Said Tori, the tone of the word cautious.
Eden said nothing but raised her eyes to look into her lover`s.
"It`s only been just over a week." Tori continued. "Are we..... Are you happy with how quickly we`ve progressed?"
The sentence came out in a rush, and hung in the air between them.
For a long moment Eden was silent.
"It`s happend quickly hasn`t it?" Eden`s voice was husky after the sobbing.
"It`s an old cliche." Said Eden. "Love at first sight. I never believed it. `Til I saw you standing on the pavement, in the rain. You looked up at me, and I fell, right there and then. The most beautiful eyes I`ve ever seen. I love you Tori. You`re the first person I`ve ever been in love with, and I hope the last." Eden reached up and tangled her hand in ebony locks. "Has it been too quick? No, it`s been too bloody slow. I`ve waited all my life for you, and now I`ve got you, I`m never letting go, and I`m never slowing down."
"My God, I love you Eden Gallagher." Said Tori, and lowered her head, tasting the lips of her lover, her tears mingling with those of the blonde woman.