A Little Piece of Paradise
Victoria Conrad leaned against the worktop in the kitchen and watched the steam billowing from the kettle with something approaching fascination. The appliance automatically clicked off, but the woman didn`t move.
Two weeks, that was all it took. Two weeks to turn her into something approaching a normal human being living a normal existance.
Her lips quirked into a small smile. "Normal? Me?" She shook her head and collected a couple of mugs from the drainer.
Tori reached for the coffee in the cupboard, before remembering that Eden preferred tea first thing in the morning.
"I`m turning into a housewife." She told herself as she poured the steaming water into the two mugs which now held the teabags.
True, she`d spent the previous week puttering around the house, shopping for food and waiting impatiently for the evenings when she would pick Eden up from the corner of Queen Square. She`d learned her lesson however and carefully avoided the bus stop after her encounter with Annie.
Mark had insisted that Eden work her notice, so she had another week to serve. Then they could begin to plan ahead, something Tori had never done before. She`d lived from day to day, never expecting anything from the future. That way she couldn`t be disappointed.
Now she had a chance.
There was still a small voice in a corner of her mind insisting that she was fooling herself. Insisting that people like her just didn`t have futures, didn`t have relationships with people like Eden.
She released a long shaky breath and leaned against the counter for a moment.
She lifted her face to the ceiling and whispered softly. "Please."
She stayed like that for a while, letting the feeling of contentment wash over her.
Then, pulling herself together she picked the two mugs up and made her way upstairs.
Eden was laying on her stomach. Her pillow was pushed up against the headboard, unused. She often slept like that, her cheek resting on the mattress.
Just as Tori entered the bedroom the radio alarm on the cabinet beside the bed went off. She hurried to Eden`s side of the bed and put both mugs down before turning the annoying thing off.
A tousled blonde head rose, bleary green eyes looking around the room.
Tori sat on the bed beside her, gently pushing her naked lover back down.
"Gotta gedup." Said the sleep slurred voice.
"It`s Saturday." Said Tori. "You forgot to turn the alarm off." She smoothed the golden hair down, leaning down and placing warm lips on the blonde`s temple.
"`Snice." Said Eden, a sleepy smile across her face. "Come back t`bed."
Tori didn`t need another prompt and discarded her robe as she made her way around the bottom of the bed.
Eden jumped a little as the taller woman slid beneath the sheets. "You`re cold." Then gave a squeal when Tori attached herself to the small warm body.
"Give up your body heat." Tori growled, completely enveloping the warm body with her own.
Just about fully awake now, Eden turned in her lover`s arms so that she was facing her.
"What are you doing up so early anyway?" Said the blonde, though she didn`t wait for an answer before capturing soft lips with her own.
The kiss deepened, and Eden`s breathing was further inhibited by a cool hand finding its way between her thighs.
"My hands are cold." Said Tori, her own breath catching when she encountered the liquid heat.
Tori gently pushed the blonde onto her back.
"What.....?" Said Eden, trying to roll back again and into Tori`s arms.
"No." A gentle hand on her shoulder. "I want to watch you."
Eden settled back as Tori propped her head up on her left hand, her right gently coaxing, stroking Eden`s passion.
"Is that ok?" Asked Tori, bending her head and taking a tense nipple into her mouth.
Eden didn`t answer, but arched her back trying to push more of her flesh into the furnace like mouth.
The cold of the room hit her breast as Tori released her prize and settled back into her former position. A small frown creased Tori`s forehead as she watched the closed eyes of her lover. "Eden." She said and smiled as the green eyes, slightly glazed, opened and fastened on her. At that moment she entered her, watching in fascination as the emerald eyes widened.
She bent her head and felt the small hands pull her down into a searing kiss. Eden`s hips were matching her rhythm, then she felt a tightness around her fingers and her lover`s hands reached up and twisted in her hair.
But she pulled back against the grip and watched Eden`s face as it tensed, her mouth forming a silent scream.
Then she fell back onto the bed, pulling Tori with her.
Tori buried her face in the smaller woman`s chest, easing her fingers carefully from their warm place, feeling the tiny aftershocks as she did so.
"Love you." Whispered Tori into the damp flesh.
"I`m glad you do." Said Eden, stroking the dark head.
"You are?" Tori raised her head and looked at her lover.
Eden nodded. "I`m glad it`s not one sided. You see, I love you too. So much it hurts.
Tori smiled and lowered her head again.
Eden took her love`s hand which had previously been resting on her breast. "Tori?"
"I`m happier than I`ve ever been. You know that don`t you?"
There was no answer from the other woman.
"Sorry." She said, nuzzling the warm flesh. "Sometimes I still can`t believe this. The things you say. I never thought anyone would say things like that to me." She sighed deeply. "I`m getting used to it though. Slowly"
Eden bent her head and kissed the top of the dark head. "Good. Because you`re going to get a lot of it."
"I made you tea."
"What?" Eden`s befuddled brain struggled with the sudden change in subject, then realised that her lover could take only so much sensative chat in any one ten minute period.
"Tea." Tori twisted and sat up, reaching across to the bedside cabinet she snagged the mug and handed it to the blonde.
"Tea and sex, what more could a girl wish for?" Said Eden sitting up against the headboard and taking the mug from her lover.
"Toast?" Suggested Tori.
Eden nearly lost the mouthful of tea she`d just taken. "Tori Conrad, you say the most ridiculous things sometimes."
"You asked the question." Said Tori pouting.
"Look at this." Said Eden, changing the subject again. She was holding up her hand, the one that had had the stitches removed a couple of days previously.
"I`m looking at it." Said Tori.
"Can`t you see?" She said, turning her palm and staring at it herself. "It`s a `T`."
Tori took the small hand in her own and examined the scar carefully. "Looks more like a cross. Years ago you`d have been burned as a witch."
Eden snatched her hand away, staring at it again. "It`s a `T`." She said.
Tori took it in her own hand again and brought the palm to her lips, kissing it slowly on the angry looking scar. "I`m sorry."
"For this." She said looking at Eden`s hand. "You got drunk because I pissed you off."
"Old news." Said Eden, removing her hand from the other woman`s grasp. "All in the past." She cocked her head. "Car coming up the drive."
"Really?" Tori slid out of bed and cracked a gap in the curtains peering through.
The morning was grey, a very light snowfall dusted the grass and the gentle swirling flakes were caught in the headlights of a car.
"What`s the time?" Asked Eden, too uninterested to raise her head and look at the digital clock at her side.
"Just after eight. Oh shit!" Tori dragged a hand through her unruly hair.
"Who is it?" Said Eden sitting up again.
Tori sighed and turned away from the window. "Damien."
Tori opened the door to the cottage and stood back so her ex-fiance could enter. She`d dressed quickly in sweat pants and teeshirt and told Eden to stay where she was. "This could get ugly." She said before closing the bedroom door and leaving a hastily dressing blonde behind.
Tori shut the door and stood for a moment before turning to face Damien. He looked as immaculate as ever, even in faded jeans and leather jacket over a white teeshirt.
"You`re up early." She said, facing him awkwardly.
"Vicky." He said, oblivious to the emotionless gaze from the woman. He took two steps forward and planted a kiss on her cheek. "I`m so sorry." He said.
"Stephanie." Said Damien, shaking his head slowly. Then he took a deep breath. "I`ve come to take you back to London. The funeral is on tuesday."
"I`m not going Damien." She gestured towards the door. "You should have called first, you`ve wasted your time."
His smile was almost condescending. "Vicky, your mother`s funeral is on tuesday. You`re coming back to London with me today. Then we`re going to talk to your father and tell him this whole silly mess is cleared up. Do I make myself clear?"
Tori sighed. "I`m not going anywhere with you Damien, and certainly not to Stephanie`s funeral."
"She was your mother." He said.
"She gave birth to me, she was never my mother." Tori`s eyes were two blue chips of ice boring into him. He couldn`t meet her gaze.
"Look." He said. "I really don`t care about your relationship..... or lack of it, with your mother. But believe me, you will come back with me today. And you will call your father and tell him the wedding`s back on."
"It`s too late. He`s already made other arrangements. Apparently he has some bastard child at a finishing school somehwere. He doesn`t need you Damien."
"Well, I`ll just have to convince him otherwise." He took a couple of steps towards her. "Stephanie told me you`ve got some little whore down here."
The blue eyes flashed with anger. "It`s time you left Damien."
"Not without you." He ran a hand through his hair. "I have too much riding on this."
"What`s that supposed to mean?" Tori backed away from him.
"It means there are other people interested in the outcome of our............. bonding."
"Damien, leave, now." Tori was still backing away from him.
"These people can get ugly. Vicky, you wouldn`t want anything........ bad to happen to me. Would you?" He smiled. A self satisfied, mocking smile.
"What have you done?"
"I`ve made a deal, it`ll make us both a lot of money."
"I don`t need money."
"We all need money Vicky." He followed her as she backed away around the sofa. "And I need a whole pile of it right now."
"You`ve been gambling again." It wasn`t a question.
"I`ve had a little run of bad luck." Now he was within arms reach of her. "But you`re my lucky star. Remember?"
Tori`s back was against the wall now. "I`m not going with you Damien." She tried to keep the fear from her voice, but she herself heard the trembling words which came from her own mouth.
"Yes you are Vicky." His forehead creased in thought. "Tell me something. What happened here in just a week that makes you want to give everything up?"
"None of your damn business." Tori spat.
"She must be a good lay for you to consider staying here." He did a slow turn. "It`s a little different to what you`re used to."
Tori remained silent.
He was facing her again now. One eyebrow raised in question. "What`s going on Vicky? You usually just fuck `em and leave `em."
"Ever heard of love Damien?" She asked, surprising herself even as she said it.
Damien startled her with his exclamation of disbelief. "Don`t give me that you stupid bitch. You and I both know you don`t have it in you."
Tori shrugged. "Up until a couple of weeks ago I would have agreed with you."
"And now after two weeks you`ve decided it`s love? What was it?" He asked, his tone mocking. "Love at first sight?"
A long sigh. "I don`t expect you to understand this Damien, but I think I was already in love with her before I met her."
"I`ve heard enough of this crap." Said Damien shaking his head.
She flinched as Damien reached out a hand, but the expected blow didn`t come. Instead he gently caressed her cheek. "Where`s your little dykey friend?"
"This has nothing to do with her." Tori prayed that, just this once, Eden would do as she was told and stay away.
"Oh you`re wrong. This has everything to do with her." His hand lowered and curled around her throat. "Doesn`t it?"
There was no pressure in his grip.
"I was never coming back." Tori met his gaze.
Damien leaned into her, his hand tightening around her throat. His other hand was fumbling for something in his pocket, then he raised that hand up to her face. Something cold and hard pressed against her temple.
"Look what I`ve got." Damien said, tapping her face the the barrel of a small silver gun.
"What the fuck are you doing with that?" Said Tori, trying to squirm out of his grip.
He hit her a little harder on her temple with the gun. "Thought I might need some help. Stay still."
Tori ceased her struggling.
"That`s better. Now then, where`s your little whore? She and I are going to have a quiet little chat."
"She`s not here." Said Tori, looking directly into his eyes. And, so intent on meeting his gaze was she, she didn`t see the hand holding the gun retreat and then return to slam into the side of her head. He released her and she fell hard to the side, feeling something in her shoulder pop as she hit the ground.
There was a loud buzzing in her ears and then she was being forcibly lifted and pinned back against the wall again.
Something warm and wet was making its way down the side of her face, and she blinked a few times trying to get her ex-fiance`s face in focus.
"Don`t fuck with me Vicky." He said, forcing her chin up with the barrel of the gun. "Either you come with me now, or I go have a long chat with your whore. Your decision."
She closed her eyes for a long moment. Then nodded tightly. "I`ll go with you. Just stay away from her."
Damien pressed his body up against her, grinding his pelvis against hers. "Knew you`d see it my way." He said, leaning his head forward nuzzling her hair, taking a deep breath. "You won`t regret it." He said, kissing his way down her neck to her shoulder.
Tori shut her eyes tightly and gathered herself. She raised her knee, but there was no power in her attempt to hurt him. He slammed her back against the wall again.
"Why do I get the feeling you`re not being honest with me?" He said. "Now, be good, or I`ll find your girlfriend. And believe me, she won`t be smiling when I`ve finished with her."
"Who`s to say?" Came the voice from the doorway.
"No!" Cried Tori, but was stopped from her attempt to reach the blonde by Damien pulling her back against his chest. He snaked an arm around her throat from behind and pulled her close to his body. Again she felt the cold steel at her temple.
Tori`s hands scrabbled at the forearm across her throat, her eyes never leaving those of her lover`s.
My God, she thought, this can`t be happening again.
Eden stood as still as a statue, stunned by the events taking place in front of her.
"Is that it?" Said Damien, leaning forward and speaking quietly into Tori`s ear. "Is this what`s caused all the trouble?"
"Go." Tori croaked. "Please."
"Oh no. You aren`t going to do that, are you. " Said Damien his eyes travelling over the small blonde framed in the doorway. "Pretty little thing."
"I`ve called the police." Said Eden. "You`d better leave."
For a moment Damien seemed to hold his breath. "You`re bluffing." He said.
"Am I?" Said Eden and started to slowly approach the man holding her lover, her soul. She walked up to them and stopped within arm`s reach. Her eyes first met Tori`s then slid up to the man holding her. "Let her go now and we`ll work out how to get `round this."
She was so close she could feel Tori`s breath gently moving her hair. She reached her hand up traced the cut on the tip of Tori`s left eyebrow, wincing at the lump she felt under the blood.
Then she took a step backwards. "Give me the gun." She said holding out her hand to him.
She avoided looking into the pleading blue eyes but concentrated on the hate filled ones of the man holding her lover. "Nothing good will come of this situation. If you`ve given up the gun by the time the police arrive things will be much easier. For everyone."
Eden watched the different emotions warring for dominance in the man`s eyes. Then he seemed to come to a decision.
His right hand, the one that held the gun, raised. Eden took a couple of steps back.
Three things happened at once. Tori pushed back against the man holding her, the gun went off, and Eden crumpled to the floor.
Damien stumbled backwards, his foot catching the leg of the low coffee table. He fell backwards, Tori still held in his grasp. The weight of both of them propelled him backwards, and Tori heard a sickening crunch as his head impacted with the stone hearth.
She felt the arm around her neck relax and scrambled away from his motionless body. Tori stood and looked down at the limp form. A small stream of blood was snaking its way from the back of his head.
She turned back towards the doorway and felt her knees buckle when she saw the small still form huddled on the floor.
Dropping to her knees beside the blonde she put a gentle hand on an unmoving shoulder.
Pain filled green eyes blinked open. "Oh Jesus!" Tori gasped seeing the spreading red stain on the white teeshirt Eden was wearing.
The wound was just above the waistline of her jeans, near her left hip.
She pulled her lover into her lap, clamping a hand down over the wound.
"Police." Eden whispered.
"I`ll call." Said Tori here eyes settling on the phone on the other side of the room.
"Called them." Tori could barely make out the words. "Ambulance too."
Tori watched the pain filled face below her until her vision blurred and a tear fell onto the face of her lover.
"Cold." The green eyes found hers and Tori felt her stomach tense as the eyes grew more unfocused. She grasped a small hand and bent her head kissing the pale lips.
"Stay awake for me now." She said straightening up. "They won`t be long." But watched in alarm as Eden`s eyes closed. "No, Eden, you need to stay awake. Look at me baby. Please."
The relief she felt when the green eyes opened was overwhelming. "Tired."
"I know you are. Just a little while longer."
"Love you." No more than a whisper.
"I love you too. I need you. Stay with me Eden." Tori pulled the small limp body to her own.
In the distance she heard the sirens, then they stopped as they approached the road leading to the cottage.
"They`re here sweetheart." She said. But the green eyes were unfocused. The light had gone out of them.
"She`s gone." She whispered. Her Eden had gone.