A Little Piece of Paradise
Laura Fountain consisted of a large round raised basin. In the middle, a large stone pillar with what could only be described as a ball on top issued forth water which splashed down into the pool.
Someone, probably a student waiting for a bus at the nearby bus stop, had thrown in a bottle of bubble bath and now the suds were just starting to emerge over the side of the stone rim.
Eden was watching the bubbles as they made their way toward her. She reached out and snagged a handful of them and let the breeze carry them away.
The voice, so close to her, made her jump.
She turned toward the sound and was met by the smiling face and amused eyes of Victoria Conrad.
"Oh, hi." She said, standing and wiping her wet hand on the leg of her jeans. "Sorry, I didn`t see you coming."
"That`s ok. Where did you want to go?" Said Victoria looking past her and on towards Pultney Bridge.
"There`s a pub just down here, The Boater. It`s got a nice cellar bar."
"Ok, lead on." victoria said.
Eden lead the way into the pub, veering off just inside the entrance and descending the stairs into the cellar.
The cold weather had kept most people in their homes, and besides the two women there were only a handful of people in the dimly lit bar.
"What`ll you have?" Said Eden pulling her wallet out of the back pocket of her jeans.
"A rum and coke I think." Said Victoria and made her way to an empty table set against the wall.
Eden arrived at the table with a rum and coke, which she placed in front of Victoria, and a vodka and lime for herself.
"So Victoria, what brings you to Bath?" Eden said as she took her jacket off and placed it on the seat beside her.
"Firstly, call me Tori." She said with a smile. "And as for why I`m in Bath, well." She picked her drink up, studying it carefully. "Let`s just say, I`m on an extended vacation, which might be a working vacation if the opportunity arises."
Eden was sitting opposite the taller woman and rested her chin in her hand, her elbow on the table. "Have you seen much of Bath yet?"
"I went out past the lane with Summer Cottage in after I left you and found an ancient pub." Her brow wrinkled. Eden noticed this, in fact she was taking in every movement the expressive face made. "What`s it called?"
"The George?" Eden offered.
"That`s it, The George. The bar tender told me an horrific story."
"About the ghosts?" Asked Eden.
"No." Tori looked alarmed. "Not about ghosts."
"Oh, maybe they don`t tell that one on your first visit. " She said smiling. "I`ve been there a few times. They like to tell those down in the cellar bar."
"That`s where those men were held."
Tori waited. "So you`re not going to tell me?"
"You need to be in The George to hear that, maybe another day." Eden said.
Tori seemed to consider this. "Ok."
The tall woman leaned back in her seat, obviously relaxing in the company of the blond. "Have you always lived in Bath?"
"Yep, always. My parents moved down to the coast a few years ago. I didn`t want to go with them, so I stayed. My friend, Cathy, bought a flat, with the help of her folks. I moved in with her. It worked out ok."
"It`s a beautiful city."
"It is, but a lot of Bath people don`t appreciate it. I think visitors see more than we do."
There were a few moments of silence before Eden thought of another topic of conversation. "The cottage shouldn`t take too long to sort out." She said.
"Mmm?" Tori had been staring through the large glass doors along the back wall of the cellar. Even though they had descended into the bar their was an exit which led to the riverbank.
"I should have the forms for the cottage tomorrow. I`ll just need to get some references for the landlord."
"Oh, I put that in the hands of my father. He`s going to forward six months rent directly to the landlord. I should imagine that would be reference enough."
"I expect so. You don`t hang about, do you?"
"I was getting fed up with the hotel room."
"The Bath Spa, you were getting fed up with that?" Eden looked surprised.
"One hotel room is very like another."
"I`ll take your word for it. The only hotels I`ve been in are the one`s in Spain, I can`t imagine they`re a lot like yours."
"So where are you from?" Eden drained her glass.
"London, Chelsea to be exact?"
"And you decided to spend some time here." It was a statement more than a question.
Tori was silent for a long moment, and Eden didn`t think she was going to answer. "I don`t know why I chose Bath. Some things went......." She was searching for a word, "ugly, back home."
"I`m sorry, I didn`t mean......."
Tori shook her head. "No, it`s ok. I`m here to get my head together." She looked up into the green eyes opposite her." That`s why the cottage was so perfect. It`s secluded and peaceful. If you`re going to be on your own, sorting your life out, you might as well be in pleasant surroundings."
Eden suddenly felt uncomfortable that this woman had divulged so much of herself so easily. She didn`t think Tori would normally be so forthcoming and wondered why the openness now.
"You, um, don`t have to be alone." Eden felt the colour flooding past her neck into her face. It was only made worse when smokey blue eyes captured hers. She remembered a conversation with her flatmate only an hour or so before. "I mean, I could show you the sights, show you all the best pubs and stuff."
Tori stood suddenly, and Eden thought for a moment that she`d offended her. But the dark woman held her hand out to her. Eden felt her own hand move into the womans long, warm fingers.
"Actually, I wanted your glass, it`s empty."
Eden could have fainted on the spot. "Sorry, sorry, um, yes please. Vodka and lime."
Tori took the glass and made her way to the bar. If Eden had looked in the mirror which was behind the bar she`d have seen the grin that split the woman`s feature`s.
A few people were ahead of her being served, so Tori put the glasses on the bar and waited for the bartender to finish with the other customers. `What`s going on here?` she asked herself. She`d been out with enough prospective husbands to know when someone was attracted to her. But this was new. She been with the woman less than an hour, but was totally at ease with her. When was the last time that happened? No, it hadn`t happend before. There was something different here, something comfortable. She smiled to herself. `So, what now Tori?` She asked herself. She thought back to a time long ago. How long? `Jesus, ten years.` She remembered though. Remembered the feelings, remembered the nights, remembered the sex. Oh yeah, the sex. That was all there was though. Love was never an option, she knew that, so did Jodie. They satisfied each other. Satisfied being the optimum word. No words of commitment, they both knew it was temporary. They`d have their fun and move on. Probably to a family life. House, nice car, two point four children.
But here she was ten years later. In the mire, no house, no kids. Nice car though. Two out of three ain`t bad.
"I said what can I get you?" The bar tender brought her out of her musings.
"Sorry, rum and coke and vodka and lime."
She watched his back as he got their drinks. `Do you really need anymore complications in your life?` She asked herself. `Exactly,` came the answer. `Of course you don`t.`
She turned to look at her companion for the evening. The blond woman smiled at her. She turned back to the bar. `So much for your iron will Tori. This is not how it was meant to be. What was the plan? Go to Bath. Get your calm head on. Go home............Then what?`
The bar tender brought her drinks and she paid for them. As she went back to the table Eden stood.
"I need the loo, won`t be long."
Tori watched her go and sat down again.
`What a time to start debating the meaning of life.` She told herself. `In a cellar bar, in the company of a lovely young woman you think has the hots for you.` She chuckled to herself.
`Jesus you`re arrogant Tori. You think that everyone`s gonna fall for you, even women. On the other hand, the way she looks at me, those eyes.` She rubbed the bridge of her nose and screwed her face up. `So what you gonna do about it?` She sat back in the chair. `Right then, do you like her? Yes. Are you attracted to her. Yes. Are you ready to go through all that again? No, don`t think so. But there again............ Oh dammit! Why can`t life be simple?`
She drained her glass in one go and returned to the bar to get a refill before her drinking partner returned.
Eden stood in the ladies with her back against the wash basin, took out her mobile and dialled her home number. "Cathy?"
"Eddie! How`s it going?"
"Ok, I think. We`re getting on ok."
"Have you found out if....you know."
"I think the answer is no. No, I`m pretty sure it`s no. Still we`re having a good time, I think I may have made a new friend."
"Oh well, you have a good time. I`ll probably be in bed by the time you get home."
"Oh yeah? Is Darren there?" Eden smiled into the phone.
"No he`s not! An early night doesn`t mean Darren`s here."
"Ok, I believe you. See you in the morning then."
"Yeah right, nighty night."
Eden sighed and made her way back to the bar.
Tori was back in her seat by the time Eden rejoined her. Although they didn`t know it both women had come to a conclusion.
Eden eased into her seat and picked up her glass. "Cheers." She said, raising her glass to the tall woman.
"Cheers to you too." Said Tori, who leaned forward and stared intently at the smaller woman. "So tell me, any good gay bars in Bath?"
She managed to avoid the fountain of vodka and lime that shot in her direction and made her way round the side of the table towards the girl who was in danger of choking. A couple of hard smacks on her back and Eden managed to get her breathing under control.
"You ok?" Asked Tori rubbing the blond`s back.
"Think so." Eden was still clearing her throat. She looked to her left and into the blue eyes. "The answer is yes."
"Yes to what?" Tori said.
"Yes I know where a good gay bar is, but are you sure you want to go there?"
Tori understood the double meaning to the question. "Yes, I want to go there."