A Little Piece of Paradise
The nurse found Tori slumped against the pillow of the young woman. She stood for a moment, almost unwilling to disrupt the scene she saw before her.
She leaned close to the bowed head. "Miss Conrad." She whispered. "The Police are here."
Tori wearily looked up at her. "The Police?"
"Yes. They require a statement."
Tori nodded. Looking back at the blonde woman pushed a lock of hair back off of Eden`s forehead. "She said my name." Said Tori, never taking her eyes off the pale face.
"She`s going to be fine. She`s lost blood, and the surgery wasn`t straightforward. But with time and care she`ll be just like new in a few weeks."
"Good......... that`s good." It took a huge effort to release the limp hand, but Tori managed. She turned to the waiting nurse, who walked behind her and manoeuvred the wheel chair away from the bed.
"We`ve shown the officers to a small administration office on this floor. There are two of them in there. If you`d like a nurse to remain with you we can arrange that. If you don`t want to talk to them now, we can arrange that too.
Tori shook her head. "I`d like to get this over with."
"That`s fine, but if you feel tired at all, let us know."
The two men stood as Tori was wheeled into the small office.
"Miss Conrad." Said the first, taking a step forward and extending his hand. "I`m Detective Inspector Clarke and this is Detective Sergeant Collins."
She took the man`s hand, then gestured for them both to sit.
The obviously senior officer took out a writing pad and a pen. "First things first, can you give me Eden`s full name and address?"
"Eden Gallagher." Said Tori. "But as for her address, I`m not sure. It`s in Larkhall, and she shares a flat with a girl called Cathy Jones.." Tori put a hand to her throbbing head.
"Miss Conrad, if you`d like to continue this at a later time?............"
Tori shook her head. "No, I`d like to get on." She looked towards a phone book on a high shelf. "Could you see if you could find Cathy Jones in the book? I`d really like her to know what`s happening. And maybe she could give you the address of Eden`s parents."
The officer retrieved the book and looked up the number. "There`s a C. Jones in 24 Victoria Place, Larkhall."
Tori smiled. "I`ve been there a few times. I didn`t realise it was called that."
The detective dialled the number. After a few rings it was answered. "Miss Jones.........this is Detective Inspector Clarke........... No. I`m afraid............."
"Excuse me." Tori interrupted the man. "Could I do this?"
He handed the handset to Tori. "Cathy?"
"Tori? What`s going on?"
"Eden`s been hurt. We`re at the hospital, she`s out of surgery and is going to be fine. I`d really like to get hold of her parents. D`you have their address. Or a number I can reach them on?"
"Yeah, I`m sure I do." There was a pause. "Tori, what happened?"
"Cathy, it`s hard right now. Can I talk to you about it later?" The pounding in her head was becoming intense.
"Ok, what do you want me to do?"
Tori heaved a sigh. "Can you go to the cottage, get the Shogun, pick up some clothes for me and um........... I think that`s all."
"Will I be able to get into the cottage?"
"Just a moment." She turned to the two policemen. "Is my cottage still open?"
"There will be an officer there until you return." Said the Inspector.
"Cathy, you should be able to get in. D`you know the address?"
"Yeah, Eden told me enough times where it was." There was silence for a moment. "Are you ok Tori?"
"I`m a little roughed up. But I`ll be fine."
"Ok, I`ll get Darren to take me up there. Will I be able to find the keys easily?"
"They should still be on the small table in the hallway. I`ll be sure to get a message to the officer at the house that you`re coming."
Tori hung up. "Can you let them know she`ll be going to the cottage?"
The inspector nodded, picked up his radio and gave a brief message to his headquarters.
"Now then Miss Conrad, can you tell me everything? From the beginning?"
Cathy put her hand on Darren`s thigh. "Slow down, it`s here somewhere." She said, looking for the small lane that Eden had told her about. "There!" She said, pointing at Summer Lane.
They found the cottage easily. A uniformed officer was standing at the door, and a plain white van was parked next to the Shogun. As she got out of Darren`s car two men carried an obviously full black body bag to the van and loaded it inside.
"My God." She said, seeing the activity. "What the hell happened here?"
Darren ended up driving the Shogun, with Cathy following in his car. They arrived at the hospital just after 2 in the afternoon and went to the main desk to find out where their friend`s were.
Cathy found Tori in a small waiting room. She was laying across three soft chairs. Cathy took in the bruised face and the dressing above Tori`s eyebrow with a frown.
She placed a hand on the sleeping woman`s shoulder. Tori awoke with a start.
"Cathy." She said, gingerly sitting up.
"Where`s Eden?" Cathy asked.
"She`s in intensive care." Seeing Cathy`s look of alarm she added. "For now. They say she can go into another ward soon. I`m going to have her put in a private room."
"Can I see her?"
Tori nodded. "I expect so, come with me."
She led Cathy to the ICU, Darren trailed along behind, but ducked into another small waiting room when they arrived at the ward.
Tori found the nurse who`d let her visit Eden earlier. "Joan, this is Eden`s friend, can she go in?"
Joan nodded. "We`re going to move her soon, so you`d better be quick."
The two women stood over the pale form on the bed. Cathy moved to the opposite side to Tori. "What happened to her?" She asked.
"She was shot."
"Shot!?" Cathy exclaimed. Then quietly added. "Shot? Who the hell shot her?"
"My fiancée." Said Tori, wrapping a small limp hand in her own.
"I think I missed something here." Said Cathy, watching Tori smoothing the soft blonde hair cascading across the pillow.
"He couldn`t understand that I`d found the love of my life. Our engagement was a sham, I wasn`t willing to lose her because of it." She looked down at her lover. "Was I?" A deep sigh. "And my determination to have what I wanted nearly killed her."
"No Tori, he nearly killed her."
"Because of me."
"No Tori, don`t think like that." Cathy was making her way around the bottom of the bed, towards Tori who was becoming increasingly agitated.
"Tori?" Both women became still and glanced down to the still form on the bed.
"Hey." Said Tori, settling down on the chair.
"What`s happening?" Eden`s voice was little more than a whisper.
"Nothing`s happening, Cathy`s here."
Cathy moved beside Tori and was glad when the green eyes finally focused on her. "Hi there Eddie, you`ve really done it this time."
"Not my fault." Said Eden, her eyes beginning to droop closed again.
Tori started to ease her hand out of the smaller one.
The dazed eyes snapped open again. "Where ya going?"
"I thought you`d like some time with Cathy." Tori smiled down at her.
"And you." Said Eden simply.
"Ok." Said Tori and settled back onto the chair. "D`you want water?"
Eden nodded. Joan had told Tori that a small amount of water would be alright for the patient.
Holding the cup and the straw Tori watched as her lover took a couple of tentative sips.
"Enough?" Asked the tall woman.
Eden nodded and Tori placed the cup back on the cabinet.
"So." Said Cathy. She waited for one of the women to start the conversation, but seeing that they were so wrapped up in each other she stood. "I`m going to go find Darren, he`s not too good in hospitals.
The silence between the two women dragged out for a few moments. It was broken when Eden tried to move.
"Hey, what are you doing?" Said Tori, gently pushing her back down.
"Trying to see you."
"You don`t seem fine."
"Eden." Tori closed her eyes. "I`m so sorry."
"You`ve got nothing to be sorry for."
"Yes, I do." She pulled her hand from Eden`s even though the weakened woman tried to hang on. "I do." She said, standing. "I do."
With that she fled from the room, crashing into a puzzled Cathy as she went.
"Tori?" Said Cathy, trying to get a hold on her arm.
"Everything I touch." Said the distraught woman as she fled down the hall.
Cathy ran into the ward, but slowed when she saw the disapproving gaze of the nurse.
"What happened?" She asked Eden, who was feebly struggling to sit up.
She fell back down onto the bed. "It`s Tori on another guilt trip. She won`t listen. I put myself in there. In that room.. I wanted to put myself between her and him. It was my decision. She won`t see that."
"She`ll be back."
"You think so?"
"I know so." Cathy smiled down at her friend. "She can`t live without you."
"But she`d try if she thought it was best for me."
"Maybe. But I know you, and I know you wouldn`t give up on her. Would you?"
Eden smiled, suddenly exhausted by the events of the last few moments.
"Go to sleep. I`ll go find Miss Stubborn and have a word."
"Tell her I love her." Said Eden even as she slipped into sleep.
"No need you silly woman." Said Cathy as she leaned over and kissed her friend on the forehead.
Cathy looked around the corridors but couldn`t find Tori. She met Darren returning from the cafeteria.
"Have you seen Tori?" She asked him as he handed her a ham roll.
"She came and found me and took the keys to her car. Why?"
"Bugger!" Said Cathy and made a dash for the exit.
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