A Little Piece of Paradise
Such a small word, but large enough to describe exactly what Victoria Conrad was feeling.
The weight of her lover`s head on her chest, the silkiness of her hair against her chin. The warm breath that fanned her breast. And the small hand that was wrapped around her own forearm, the strength of the grip almost possessive.
`So this is what it feels like to be loved.` Tori thought. `It`s............ overwhelming.`
Tori pulled the small body a little closer, if that was possible, and Eden sighed in response. `But I think I can cope. Oh yeah, I can cope.`
There was nothing, Tori decided, that could ruin the moment.
Then the phone rang.
"Dammit!" Said the tall woman under her breath, regretting it when she felt the blonde woman in her arms flinch.
Who could possibly be calling them at this time of night?
"Oh." Said Tori gently, seeing that the illuminated numbers on the bedside clock indicated it was only a few minutes after nine in the evening.
"Wha......?" Began Eden, raising sleepy eyes to her lover`s face.
"Phone." Said Tori, easing herself from under her lover`s body, and made her way downstairs, grabbing her robe as she went.
Eden heard the phone stop ringing and wondered if Tori had made it before it rang off when she couldn`t hear anything more. Then she heard a low voice. Moving across to her lover`s side of the bed she snuggled back into the sheets and closed her eyes again.
It was about a quarter of an hour later when Tori returned to the bedroom.
Eden had managed to take up most of the double bed and was sprawled haphazardly under the quilt.
Tori sat on the bed and gently pushed back some golden locks from the sleeping face. "So trusting." She whispered, and ran the backs of her fingers across the relaxed skin.
In her sleep Eden moved towards the touch, looking for all the world like a contented cat.
Reluctantly Tori`s hand moved to the bare shoulder and shook it gently. "Hey there." She said, and bent her head, kissing a smooth temple.
"Mmm?" Eden turned onto her back and sleepy green eyes regarded the tall woman. "Come back to bed, it`s the middle of the night."
Tori smiled down at her. "Actually it`s the middle of the evening." She said.
"Really?" Said Eden, and craned her head to look at the clock. "We`ve been in bed all day?" She asked,
"Who was on the phone?"
"A man called James Crozier."
"Who`s that?" Said Eden sitting up, and for the first time seeing the tenseness in her lover`s features.
"My father`s lawyer."
"Oh. Is it trouble?"
Tori shook her head. "No, not trouble. He just called to tell me my mother died this afternoon."
Eden could see the muscles working in the tall woman`s jaw and reached over to take the larger hand in her own.
This was difficult. She didn`t know how Tori would react to the news. Anyone else would be devastated by the death of their mother, whatever the circumstances.
She looked into the blue eyes for a clue, and found nothing.
"I`m sorry." The blonde said finally. "What happened?"
"She got drunk and fell through some French windows, sliced an artery."
"No. Don`t be sorry, not for her." Tori pulled her hand from the gentle grasp and ran it though her disorderly hair.
"I`m sorry for you Tori. You`ve lost so much." She said, pulling the quilt tighter around herself.
Tori was now sitting on the edge of the bed, her head bowed, her hands folded in her lap. Eden crept out of her warm nest and knelt behind the taller woman, tentatively she wound her arms around her lover from behind.
Resting her chin on Tori`s shoulder she whispered into an ear. "You know, it would be ok to cry."
"Cry for her?"
Eden nodded against the now trembling shoulder. "It`s not such a bad thing. I`ll hold you if you like." She pulled Tori back against her and then started manouvering her back into bed.
Keeping hold of the larger woman with one hand she managed to get her out of her robe and under the quilt with the other. Then she wrapped both arms around Tori and buried the dark head against her own shoulder.
"She never loved me." Tori finally said.
"You don`t know that. She......."
"I know, Father told me. He said she hated me because she couldn`t have anymore children after me."
"I`m sorry." Eden was silent for a long time, aware that though Tori was holding onto her in almost desperation, she still hadn`t cried.
"Yeah?" The voice was husky, and almost sleepy.
"I can love you enough to make up for all those years."
For a moment she wondered if Tori had heard her for there was no reply. Then she felt the larger body in her arms start to shake and knew that her lover was, at last, crying. Not so much for her mother, but for a lost childhood, and years of going without love. And for those lonely moments when she knew she`d never experience the joy of receiving unconditional love.
There was also joy in her tears. She knew she`d found something so precious, and she wept at the thought of losing it. Knowing that she couldn`t take anything for granted, especially the love of the remarkable woman that held her.
She looked up, her blue eyes bloodshot and filled with tears.
"Everyone leaves me, eventually." She said between sobs.
"I won`t." Said Eden, her own tears threatening. She pulled Tori`s head back down onto her shoulder. "I promise. Believe me?"
She felt the dark head nod against her chest. "Good, now go to sleep. We`ll talk more about this tomorrow."
"Ok." Said the husky voice.
Then Tori took a deep breath. "I don`t want to be like them." She said.
"You`re not." Said Eden. "I don`t think you could be. I wouldn`t be here if you were."
Eden began humming a child`s lullaby her mother used to sing to her when she was a child, gently rocking the taller woman in her arms.
She smoothed the ebony locks until she felt the larger body relax and her lover`s breath even out in sleep.
And then she cried, for her lover, and for a woman she`d hated for a while.
The sound of the wind woke Eden. Tori still slept.
That in itself was unusual. Eden rarely woke before her lover, and she took the opportunity to study the other woman`s relaxed face.
Eden decided she was truly in love as she reached out a gentle hand and traced a dark eyebrow. Then the trembling fingers made an imaginary line down across the high cheekbone, watching the muscles in Tori`s cheek react to her her touch. Down across her jaw, across a pulse point, then resting above an evenly beating heart.
She leaned forward and brushed her lips across those of her lover`s, then gently slipped out of the bed and padded across the hall to the bathroom.
Tori woke some time later, reaching across and surprised to find the bed empty apart from her.
She rolled onto her back and listened. Hearing the shower running she relaxed and closed her eyes again.
The next thing she knew she was being awakened by soft lips on her own. "Hey there." Eden whispered. "I have to go to work."
"Will you be ok today?" Eden asked, brushing sleep mussed hair out of blue eyes. "I don`t really want to leave you."
"I`ll be fine. Give me a minute and I`ll get up and take you in." She started to rise but was pushed back down by a small hand on her shoulder.
"Ssh. Go back to sleep. I`ve called a taxi."
Tori allowed herself to be pushed back down beneath the covers. Then she felt Eden`s head rest against her shoulder.
"I have ten minutes before the taxi arrives. Let`s just lie here quietly."
Tori`s response was to snake her arm around the blonde`s shoulders and hold her close.
The gentle moment was interrupted by the sound of a car horn outside.
Eden eased away from her and kissed her slowly. "I`ll call you later. Try to get some sleep."
"Ok, love you."
Eden smiled. "I love you too Tori." She pulled the quilt snugly around her lover, and leaned down giving her another peck on the lips. "Now, go back to sleep. I`ll be back before you know it."
And Tori did sleep. Right through the morning and into the afternoon. It was after 2 when Eden rang.
"Hi, how are you?" She asked.
Tori lay back in the bed, the cordless phone propped between the pillow and her ear. "Tired, though I shouldn`t be, I`ve slept away most of the day."
"It`ll probably do you good. Have you eaten anything?"
"No nothing, what about you?"
"I managed to get some lunch, I just got back. I have a viewing this afternoon, then I`ll come home. We`ll order a Chinese or something, aye?" She waited for an answer and after receiving none asked "Tori?"
"Just thinking. Sorry." She sat up, scooting backwards until the headboard was against her back. "Give me a call when you want me to pick you up."
"Will do, see you later."
And hour or so later found Tori pacing. She wondered when she had come to need the smaller woman, for it was becoming painfully obvious that she was needy at that moment.
News of her mother`s death had knocked her off kilter.
She wished she could feel something. But she knew that, where her family was concerned, her heart was dead. It beat only for one reason now, a strawberry blonde bundle of affection called Eden Gallagher.
"I`m in love." She said out loud. Needing to hear the statment, though knowing already its truth.
Another circuit of the lounge, another glance at the clock. Another hour before she picked up Eden. Eden had rung her a little earlier giving her a time to pick her up, and now Tori watched the clock like a teenager waiting for their first date to arrive.
"I need you Eden, need you, need you." She said as she walked around the sofa again. "Eat something you stupid woman." She said to herself.
She went into the kitchen and prepared a sandwich. Returning to the lounge she sat and ate it, not really tasting it, but knowing she`d be able to tell Eden she`d eaten without having to lie.
At 5.30 she was outside the estate agents in Queen Square waiting for her lover. The rain was steady, and she peered through the gloom trying to see the familiar form.
She sat back in the leather interior of the Shogun and let the gentle sound of the rain lull her into a state of ease.
Then the passenger door was being opened and a blast of cold air intruded on her sense of calm.
"Sorry." Said a panting Eden as she pushed rain slicked hair back from her face.
Tori`s answer was to lean sideways and gather the smaller woman into her arms. "I`ve missed you." She husked into damp blonde hair.
"I`ve missed you too." Said Eden, pulling slightly out of the taller woman`s embrace to get a better look at her lover. "How do you feel?"
"I`m fine. Really. I`ve slept well, I`ve thought a lot. I love you."
For a long moment green and blue eyes regarded each other. A conclusion was reached.
"We`re going to be ok, aren`t we." Said Eden, it was not a question.
Tori opened her mouth to speak but the only sound Eden heard was the loud honking of a horn and the Shogun was filled with the lights of a vehicle parked directly behind them. To their left the faces of about twenty people regarded them with annoyance.
Tori looked in the wing mirror of the car and saw that a double decker bus was parked within a hair`s breadth of her rear bumper. Ducking lower, she managed to see the face of the driver.
She pushed the button and lowered her window, poking her head out into the rain.
The driver was leaning out of the window of the bus. "Get off the bloody bus stop, can`t you see all these poor people are getting wet waiting for you to move?" Though the driver`s words were harsh, she had a huge grin on her face, unlike the queue of passengers who were scowling at her.
"Thanks Annie." Said Tori flatly and put the car in gear, pulling into the stream of rush hour traffic with ease.
"Oops." Said Eden.
"She`s got quite a sense of humour." Said Tori, now waiting for traffic lights to change.
"She likes doing that. She usually shouts something obscene at me if she sees me with a buyer." chuckled, and moved along with the traffic, surprised to get out of Bath with little difficulty.
Back at the cottage Eden immediately found a take away menu and ordered a meal.
"Chinese, I think." The blonde said, and proceeded to order enough to feed a small country.
After the phone call she made her way quickly to the bathroom. Stripping hurridly she showered and washed her hair. With her hair still wet and wearing only a towelling bathrobe she joined her very quiet lover on the sofa.
Tori handed her a glass of wine then snaked a long arm around the smaller woman, pulling her close.
"How was work?" Asked Tori.
Eden shrugged. "Nothing special. We`re expecting an interest rate drop, things might pick up then." She looked up at the tense profile. "What about you?"
A long sigh was her answer. "Should I go to the funeral?"
"D`you want to?"
Tori shook her head.
"Then don`t go."
"Ok." Tori agreed readily. She paused for a moment. "I`ve been thinking."
Eden nodded to herself, Tori`s silence since they`d arrived home had given her an idea that the tall woman had something heavy on her mind.
"I`m considering going into business by myself, and I`d like you to join me."
If Eden was surprised she didn`t show it. "I have nothing to put into a business."
Tori`s thumb made circles on a robed shoulder. "You have you. I`m sure you could talk anyone into buying anything."
"So you`re going into the real estate business?"
"It`s what we both know."
"Where?" Asked Eden.
"Wherever you like. Wherever you want to be, that`s where I want to be."
Eden turned on the sofa to face her lover. "Are you sure about this Tori? Life here isn`t anywhere near as exciting as London. I want to stay in Bath, it`s my home."
"And now it`s mine too. I`ve never had a home before." She reached out a gentle hand and stroked Eden`s face with the back of her fingers. "You`ve changed my life, you know that don`t you?"
Eden reached up and captured the larger hand in her own. "And you`ve made mine complete."
She leaned forward and captured the soft lips with her own. Feeling Tori`s arms surround her she allowed herself to be pulled onto the warm body of her lover. Tori reached under the robe, flattening her palms against the smooth skin she found there.
"I love you so much." Tori gasped as Eden rested her head against the taller woman`s heaving chest.
"I love you too." Said Eden. "Of course I`ll work with you. I want to be with you every minute of every day. We`ll knock their sock off." She said, lifting her head and smiling at the contented look of her lover.
"Good. But first we`ll have some time off together, how does that sound?"
"A holiday? Gosh I haven`t had a proper one of those for a few years."
"How much notice d`you have to give at work?" Asked Tori, pulling Eden`s head back down to its resting place.
"They`ll take a week." Her hand came up and cupped a breast. "You sure you want to do this?"
"Absolutely positive." Said Tori. "Type a letter of resignation on my computer later and take it in tomorrow. If they kick up a fuss, just leave. I want you here."
Eden`s head came up again. "Really?" She asked, a huge smile lighting up her face.
"No, I don`t want you here." Said Tori, bending her head to nibble Eden`s lower lip. "I need you here."