DISCLAIMERS: This is an Uber story. The main characters and story are the product of the authors imagination.

RATED NC17: For mild profanity and love between two members of the same sex.

FEEDBACK:If you enjoy the story please let me know: weebod@mac.com


Part Seven:

"What the ...?" Elish reached blindly for the phone that sat on the bedside table. "Hello?" she asked fumbling for the switch on the lamp next to her wondering who on earth could be calling at whatever hour it was.

"Can I speak to Elish Maloney please?" Came the official sounding male voice.

"Speaking," El replied groggily as she located the lamp switch, a quick glance at her watch told her it was a little after 2am.

"This is Garda McKenna. We need to locate a key holder for the premises at Kerry Street. I'm afraid there has been a break in."

God damn it! El thought to herself, this was all she needed. "Have you tried the caretaker, Mr Mullins?"

"I haven't been able to get hold of him, you were next on the list."

El sighed, as she rubbed her eyes, "I'll be there in about fifteen minutes."

Getting out of her warm comfortable bed, she went to the bathroom to quickly freshen up, and then threw on some clean underwear, a T-Shirt, along with a sweatshirt and bottoms. Heading downstairs she put on the first pair of training shoes she could find, then grabbed a warm padded jacket. Lifting her house keys and car keys, she left the cottage arriving almost fifteen minutes later at the community centre.

Exiting her car, El made her way over to the two Gardai officers at the scene. She could see the damage to one of the windows as she approached. It had been smashed in to allow the robbers entry.

"Hi there, I'm Elish Maloney."

"Ms Maloney, I'm Garda McKenna and this is my partner, Garda Brown." They exchanged nods, then Garda McKenna proceeded to inform Elish of what they knew.

"So it seems they may have been disturbed before they were able to get into the building, but we need you to go in with us, and take a look around."

Ten minutes later, a relieved Elish exited the building with Garda McKenna, the burglars had indeed been disturbed and ran off before they were able to steal equipment, or do any further damage. Now Elish had the boring job of waiting around for an emergency joiner to come and board up the broken window.

As the Gardai finished up with their part of the proceedings, Elish saw headlights enter the car park and assumed the joiner had arrived. As the car got closer she knew that wasn't the case, unless the joiner was driving a top of the range black Mercedes. She watched on curiously as James Keenan locked his car door and cautiously made his way over to her, his black leather soled brogues struggling to gain traction on the frosty tarmac. Part of El wished he would slip and fall on his arse.

"Good morning, Ms Maloney." He greeted politely, his warm breath crystallising in the cold early morning air.

"Mr Keenan." El replied curtly.

James Keenan looked over to where the officers were standing, "So what's the damage?"

"Just a broken window, the burglars were disturbed before they could enter the building."

"Good, good. I'm glad to hear nothing has been taken." James Keenan pursed his lips, as he seemed to consider what to say next. El stood with her hands in her pockets, maintaining her silence. She had no idea why he was here, she wasn't sure if this was standard practice for him to turn up when one of his buildings was broken into.

"I hear you ran the marathon," he enquired conversationally.

That most definitely threw El completely. The last thing she expected from this man was small talk.

"Yes, running is my hobby."

"A very respectable time you did too."

"I was pleased with it."

The man nodded, not making eye contact with her as he looked out over the car park. El took in his attire; he certainly didn't look like he had just fallen out of bed, as she herself had. The man was dressed in a dark suit, with a heavy dark grey over coat covering it to ward off the late November chill. She watched as he blew out a breath, it billowed and then rapidly disappeared into the cold night air. He finally turned to look at her. "Have you heard from my daughter?"

"No." The simple one word reply hung in the air between them.

"Maybe you should give her a call?" he suggested.

El's eyes narrowed to slits as she wondered just what his game was. First he pulls out of a deal that would have given her and her staff new premises to work from because she was seeing his daughter and now he was standing here making small talk and encouraging her to call Aisling.

"I tried calling, Aisling hasn't answered any of my calls." El maintained eye contact with James Keenan, but he couldn't return the favour. He ducked his head to look at his shoes, before looking back up at her.

"I see."

Elish said nothing. She didn't have anything to say.

"Well, I better be getting home. Are you leaving too?"

"I have to wait on the joiner."

"Oh, of course ... well, good night, Ms Maloney."

"Mr Keenan." El nodded.

She watched as the man got back into his car preparing to drive off into the night, curious when after a minute he got back out of his car and walked over to her.

"I hope this is of some use to you." He handed her a business card, then walked back to his car, this time driving off without a moment's hesitation.

El, looked down at the business card, it gave the contact details for James Keenan. Out of curiosity she flipped it over and found an Edinburgh address printed in neat handwriting on the back.

Elish had found his behaviour puzzling, but she couldn't trust the weasel. Shrugging off the unusual feelings that the conversation and the hand-written address stirred in her, she walked back over to the Gardai. She didn't want to consider the fact that James Keenan actually gave her the slightest sliver of hope. It didn't sit well with her.

Thursday morning, Elish sat at her desk, no work getting done as she stared at the card James Keenan had handed her the night before. She already knew the address; it was imprinted on her brain. This surely meant Aisling was in Edinburgh, probably with Aiden. That would make sense. On impulse, Elish picked up the phone calling directory enquiries. There was no telephone number listed for that address. She put the phone down, what now? She asked herself. Removing her reading glasses she rubbed the bridge of her nose with her thumb and forefinger. This is madness, she cautioned, but it didn't stop her pulling up the flight times from Dublin to Edinburgh on her desktop computer.

El looked at the flight available for tomorrow. Leaving Dublin airport at 13.10 to arrive in Edinburgh a mere one hour later. Should she? Could she? Elish chewed on the end of the arm of her glasses, Fuck it! What have I got to lose? Putting her glasses back on, she made the booking, then sat back, shocked at her own impulsiveness. One minute later she was looking up hotels in Edinburgh close to the address she had been given.

Not surprisingly, the address was near to Edinburgh University. Elish found a reasonably priced hotel less than a mile away, there were a lot to choose from, as it was right in the centre of town. Oh, well, at least I can sightsee for a few days, if nothing else. Though El seriously doubted she would feel like it if this hastily planned trip turned out to be fruitless. Slumping back in her chair slightly dazed, she considered what else needed to be done before she left. Now I just have to sort things out here and head off on my last minute holiday without too many questions. Reaching for the telephone, she set about the task of cancelling everything on her schedule for tomorrow and the following week.

El watched as her trolley case approached on the conveyor belt, lifting it, she set the wheels down and pulled the handle up. Packing had been easy, the climate here was pretty much the same as in Dublin, now Elish had to get into the city centre. Spotting the signs for the taxi rank and the airport bus, she exited the terminal. Noting that a bus was waiting El thought, what the hell, it's been ages since I used public transport.

El, lifted her case onto the bus, her hand luggage which was a small rucksack, sat securely on her back.

"Do you go anywhere near The Bank Hotel?"

The bus driver looked at Elish, he was smartly dressed in a crisp white shirt, with a burgundy tie and tank top. "I do, I can take you right to the Waverley train station. That's the very last stop. From there, The Bank Hotel is a short walk up Cockburn Street."

That sounded pretty good to El. "How much?"

"Three pounds one way, or five pounds return."

El's eyes widened, not at the cost, but at her oversight. She had forgotten the currency change. "I've only got euros."

"Ah, sorry hen, I can only take pounds. You can swap your money inside the airport, but you'll miss the bus, I'm due to leave in five minutes."

"Okay. How long till the next bus?"

"Ten minutes, but hang on a sec." The driver opened the door to his cab, "Can anyone help this young woman? She doesn't have any pounds yet, only euros." Some folks started to look through their pockets. "Have you got five euros there? That should do for three pounds."

"Elish hastily checked her wallet and found a €5 note. A guy in his early twenties stepped forward with three-pound coins, El handed him the euros and thanked him. Smiling at the driver she waited until he got back into his seat then paid her fare. "Thanks so much."

"You're welcome. There's a Post office on the way to your hotel. Pop in there and they will exchange your Euros at no charge."

El smiled again, "Will do." El went to take a seat, but stopped when the driver spoke again.

"Oh, and hen, remember to swap them back again when you go home." Laughing he started up the double Decker bus to begin the journey into the city centre.

Exiting the bus with thanks to the driver, El made her way up the street he pointed out. Sure enough she found the Post Office, Euros changed to pounds she continued to the top of the street and easily located The Bank Hotel on the opposite side of a busy junction.

Once inside her hotel room, El was immediately struck by its gothic like appearance. The walls were panelled with dark oak, giving them an almost black appearance in the muted light of a late winter afternoon. A large double bed, covered by navy bedding, sat proudly against one wall, flanked by two floor to ceiling windows. A cream carpet covered the floor. The room was spacious, bigger than El expected. Reasonably happy with her choice of accommodation, she settled in for the evening. Elish had developed a case of cold feet and decided that tomorrow would be the best day to visit Aisling.

Elish walked along Rankeillor Street. It hadn't been too difficult to find, which El was grateful for, considering she was in a strange city. She looked at the town houses lining this wide street. Noting the numbers as she went, she crossed over to the other side where the door numbers were odd. Elish found herself standing before a bright red door. This was it. Swallowing hard she depressed the doorbell and waited. Hearing footsteps approaching the door from inside, El's heart rate picked up significantly. The door opened and a man in his early twenties stood before her. El could see the resemblance to Aisling, the hair was the same colour, but not the eyes, they were hazel. He stood waiting expectantly.

"Ah, I'm looking for Aisling Keenan."

"Who are you?"

"Elish Maloney."

There was a long pause before the young man spoke again, "You better come in, Aisling is out shopping."

Elish was led through a tiled foyer into a carpeted hall. Then through a door immediately to her right, which led to a front sitting room. The blonde man, who she assumed was Aiden, took a seat in a brown leather armchair. Elish quickly looked around the room and chose to sit on the leather sofa, which ran along an inner wall.

Elish waited for Aiden to speak, but he kept his silence. She felt a little uncomfortable sitting here with this stranger who was just staring out the window. She looked longingly at the television in the corner, wishing it were switched on. Anything for a distraction. The silence was unnerving.

"He likes you, you know."

Elish looked at the stranger sitting across the room. Knowing Aiden suffered from schizophrenia she couldn't help but wonder whom the 'he', Aiden had referred to could be?

"Don't worry, I'm referring to my father – not any personalities popping out to meet you." Aiden looked at El without any trace of emotion showing on his face.

The brunette wasn't sure what unnerved her more, the silence or the way Aiden seemed to read her thoughts. She decided the only way was to be herself. "I can't say I like him much – I'm surprised to hear he has the ability to like anyone."

Aiden laughed, then just as quickly as it had started, it ended abruptly. "I like your honesty," he turned serious again, "I hate deceitfulness, I have no time for it – it agitates me."

El nodded her understanding and they once again sat in silence, the only sound permeating the room was the passing cars. El looked around the room, it was spacious, she assumed that all of the flat would be, it seemed too big for just one person.

"I had flatmates – they moved out."

El nodded, again feeling a little unnerved by Aiden's perceptiveness. She looked at him, trying to read something from him, again there was no emotion showing in his face. He sat still, his posture rigid, appearing as though it were impossible for him to relax.

"Have you considered getting new ones?"

"I've found that it's difficult to find people who are willing to share a flat with a paranoid schizophrenic. Frankly, anyone who is willing gives me cause for concern and I'm the nutter. I find it's easier to live alone, I enjoy the silence."

Again all El could was nod, "What about Aisling, is she living here with you?"

"For the time being. Even if she chooses not to return to Dublin," Aiden paused a moment, "He wants that, you know, she won't be staying around here for much longer – in this flat anyway."

El was puzzled, not quite following Aiden's meaning. Again, Aiden answered her unspoken question.

"It's no life, living with me full-time."

"I think Aisling might disagree," Elish countered.

"I'm positive she would." The answer was again direct and to the point, "But I would never allow her to." Aiden looked intensely at El, "That's why I invited you in."

"What will you do if she leaves?"

Stay in Edinburgh for now, either here or at the unit. I won't be heading home just because my father decides to finally show some interest. I won't go where I'm not wanted."

"Maybe he really wants to build a relationship with you?" El offered encouragingly.

"Then he knows where I am – but I never saw my Mother with him. Have you met her?"

El shook her head, "No."

Aiden looked past Elish, seemingly lost in thought. A key turning in the door prevented any further conversation.

El sat frozen in place. Time seemed to slow as she waited with baited breath for Aisling to appear. The front door closed accompanied by the sound of rustling shopping bags. The clatter of footsteps on the tiled foyer floor, then nothing as the hall carpet muted them. The squeak of a floorboard outside the sitting room door had El swallowing nervously. There was more rustling of bags as Aisling entered the sitting room, a smile on her face for Aiden. Walking towards her brother, Aisling dropped her shopping with a relieved exhalation of breath and removed her scarf. El noted how her cheeks were flushed pink from the cold, she looked radiant.

"Phew, the town was mobbed. I should know better than to shop on a Saturday." She smiled at Aiden as she removed her long wool coat, her brother had yet to utter a word.


The young man simply nodded towards the sofa where a very nervous Elish sat expectantly.

Turning to El, the smile slid from the blonde's face, look of disbelief quickly engulfing her features. "Elish?"

El hesitantly got to her feet, not sure what to do or say now that Aisling was in front of her, all El could think was that it had been too long and Aisling looked better than ever.

"Why are you here, Elish?"

The sharpness in the blonde's tone startled her, though she could hardly blame Aisling. "I, ah...your father, he gave me the address."

"Look, there was no need for you to travel here, he should have told you that. I'm signing the new buildings over the community. We may be over, but I still want to see the community continue to thrive."

El was stunned, she had no idea what Aisling was talking about, she shook her head, at a loss to make sense of the turn in conversation.

"If that's all, you can go now."

El noticed that Aiden had left the room sometime during his sister's tirade. They were now alone. "Aisling, truly I have no idea what you are talking about."

The accountant frowned, "Then why are you here?"

"I'm here because I wanted to see you. Nothing to do with work, I just had to see you." El thrust her hands into the pockets of her jeans in an attempt to stop clenching and unclenching them. She focused intently on her former lover, "I'm here because I lost the best thing that ever happened to me. I reacted without thinking things through; I should have given you a chance to explain. I should have trusted you, but I was too busy being angry to take the time to listen."

"Yes, you were." Aisling stated flatly.

The silence hung heavy in the air between them, until Elish broke it.

"I want to apologise to you, Aisling. I am so very sorry for the way I treated you."

Aisling nodded her acceptance, but remained quiet.

Elish removed her hands from her pocket only to run nervous fingers through her hair, all she wanted to do in that moment was take Aisling in her arms. "Can I take you to dinner...tonight?"

Aisling blinked her surprise, "Oh, I...I can't." She dipped her eyes to the floor then looked back to Elish. "I have a date," she said softly.

Elish was so devastated by this news she could feel tears spring to her eyes. Aisling didn't miss the crestfallen look that washed over the brunette. Elish couldn't wait to make her escape.

"I see...well, anyway, I better get going."

"Don't you want to know about the centre?"

Not at that moment she didn't, she just wanted to escape so she could be alone. Swiping angrily at the tear leaking from the corner of her eye, El tried to remain composed enough to reply. "Maybe, ah...maybe you could send a letter to the centre?"

El's look was almost pleading and it was all Aisling could do to resist the urge to go to her and wipe the tears from her eyes. "Sure, Elish," she nodded. "I'll put it in writing."

"Thank you," was the quiet reply. El swallowed the lump in her throat, "Goodbye, Aisling."

Aisling stood frozen to the spot as she watched Elish walk to the front door. "Elish."

The brunette stopped dead in her tracks, but didn't dare look back. "Yes?"

"How long are you here for?"

El turned to the side, "Just a few days, I fly back Thursday." She paused, "I might get an earlier flight..." El replied, shrugging, what more was there to say?

The blonde nodded, "Take care of yourself, Elish."

Offering a sad smile, the brunette turned to face Aisling, "You too." El reached the front door, opened it and never looked back. She walked straight into the darkening November night with her tears running down her cheeks, this time she didn't bother to wipe them.

El lay on the hotel bed. She had showered and put on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. Everything since closing the door at the house on Rankeillor Street had been a blur. The television was off and the book she had been reading the night before lay on the bedside table untouched, El's glasses lying on top of it. Elish had risked everything on a whim and lost. Aisling had moved on, and she now knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she had lost the best thing to ever happen to her and that knowledge caused an ache in her chest unlike anything she had ever experienced in a relationship before. Lying flat on her back, hands behind her head, one ankle crossed over the other, she stared hopelessly at the ceiling as she listened to the sounds of revellers on a Saturday night.

Unsure how long she had been staring, unmoving, lost in her thoughts, El got up from the bed and crossed over to the large window, which looked down onto the main street. Leaning against the wall, El casually observed the activity going on in the cobbled street below. Guys singing, girls shrieking, Hen parties, Stag parties. The pub across the road was busy, as would be the hotel bar. Elish sighed, watching people enjoying themselves seemed to compound her own sadness. She considered that she hadn't eaten since lunchtime and knew that she should, but found herself unable to seriously entertain the thought of food. Instead El decided to try and get some sleep; tomorrow she would change her scheduled flight and take the earliest available back to Dublin.

Elish was awoken some time later by the ringing of the hotel phone. "Hello?"

"Miss Maloney, sorry to disturb you at this hour but we have an Aisling Keenan at the front desk. She would like to see you?"

El blinked in surprise, Aisling was downstairs? "Ah, yes, send her up."

"Right away, Miss Maloney."

Putting the phone back on its cradle, El sat up in bed and ran nervous fingers through her hair. Why was Aisling here? She glanced at the clock, at 1.22am, in the morning! Getting out of bed intent on putting on some clothing, her progress was halted by a knock at the door. Taking a deep breath, she walked over to the door and opened it; Aisling was standing on the other side looking... El frowned, Aisling looked mad! Yes, El thought, she definitely looked angry.

The angry blonde pointed a finger at El, "You have ruined me for anyone else, Elish Maloney!"

El blinked staring at the irate woman before her. "I have?"

"Yes!" Aisling's nostrils flared as she looked pointedly at El. "What do you intend to do about it?" she demanded.

El's eyes widened with surprise at the unusual circumstances she suddenly found herself in. Here she was standing in a hotel room doorway in Scotland, with the woman she had fallen in love with, then sent away, then tried to get back only to find out she was too late, standing in front of her demanding to know what she was going to do about ruining her for anyone else! Life could be very strange indeed.

"Would you like to come in?" El enquired politely.

Aisling rolled her eyes and walked past her into the room.

Closing the door, El tentatively approached her former lover, only to have the blonde whirl on her, "I had dinner tonight with an attractive, witty, intelligent woman and all I could think about was you!" Again a finger pointed angrily at Elish.

El wondered if this was actually an insult. It certainly sounded like one. Whatever it was, she didn't care, Aisling was here and that must mean something. Aisling was thinking about her that had to be good, well unless these thoughts involved sharp objects. A slow smile started to cover El's mouth.

"Don't you dare smirk! Don't you dare!" There was a pause before Aisling added, "And you can pay off my phone bill – Have you any idea how many hotels I called tonight!?"

El immediately held up her hands in surrender, mumbling an apology.

"You turn up in Edinburgh completely out of the blue, making some grand gesture to win me back. You sent me away, Elish! You told me you didn't need me. What's changed?"

"Everything." El implored, "My life just isn't the same without you in it. It's empty."

Aisling continued to glare at her as El attempted to straighten her face, it was proving difficult to stop the smile that wanted to break out.

"We need to talk, so start talking!" Aisling demanded as she removed her heavy winter coat.

El cautiously approached the irate blonde. She had never seen Aisling angry, the woman was always so composed and relaxed. Elish took a seat on the edge of her bed, leaving the blonde standing, her arms folded across her chest, posture rigid. El took a moment to think about what she wanted to say, not sure where to start, she decided to tell Aisling how she came to be in Edinburgh.

"When your father gave me the address, I decided to take a chance. I want you back in my life, but you won't answer my calls, so knowing you were probably here, I came to see you, I miss you, I want you back."

"You hurt me."

"I know, and I am so very sorry for that." El looked right into Aisling's eyes. "I have never felt this way before, Aisling. I am miserable without you."

Aisling took a deep breath and nodded, "I hope you have been really miserable, because I certainly have."

"Trust me, I have." There was silence between them as neither was sure what to say or do next; El decided it was up to her to make the next move. "Will you stay a little while?" she asked tentatively.

Aisling nodded her agreement to the suggestion; relaxing her body just a little, she took a seat in the chair by the window.

There was silence between them for a few moments before El broke it with a question that had been bugging her ever since that fateful day when James Keenan had informed everyone they had six months left on their lease.

"Why didn't you tell me what your father had planned?"

Aisling sighed, "I couldn't, I worked for him. It would have been unethical to inform you of his plans..."

Elish was about to interrupt, but Aisling held up a hand to stop her. "Let me finish," she requested gently. At El's nod she continued.

"I knew from the start that the land and buildings on it were to be sold. In truth at the beginning it was a numbers job for me, but as I began to learn more about what went on in the buildings, I started to see things differently." Aisling paused, shaking her head, "And after that day you gave me the tour, I knew I had to do something to help. I could see how vital the centre was to the community. I didn't want to be a part of ripping out its heart." Aisling smiled at El, "I remember you asking me that day, if I might want to participate in something the centre offered or to volunteer. I knew then that I would do all I could to keep the centre open. I couldn't tell you anything, but after that visit I immediately set about looking at ways to do just that. When I wrote a clause into the contract for the land and the Supermarket chain agreed to it, I was sure I had found the answer." Aisling paused again, looking at El intently. "Don't get me wrong, I was still nervous, I watched as you went about your job, completely unaware of what was ahead of you...that was so hard, Elish," the blonde finished in a whisper. "You have no idea the amount of times I wanted to just blurt out everything that was going on behind the scenes. I bit my tongue and prayed that come the day when my father made his announcement, there would be good news for both yourself and Naomi." Aisling laughed bitterly, 'I imagined that day going so differently to how it turned out." Aisling stopped seemingly lost in the dark memories of that fateful morning, then taking a deep breath she continued, "Well, you know the rest. My father can be a very spiteful man."

El took Aisling's silence as her cue to talk. "I wish I had given you the chance to explain, unfortunately I was too angry and upset to think clearly. I was hurt and I reacted to those feelings. I've been doing a lot of soul searching these last few weeks. I think it's my biggest personality flaw, reacting to situations that affect me emotionally, instead of taking the time to step back and think things through. I never gave you a chance."

Aisling shook her head, she couldn't let Elish shoulder all the blame. She knew it was a case of them both being pulled in different directions creating a conflict of interests for them both. "Without all the facts it's hardly surprising you reacted the way you did, El."

"I should still have given you a chance to explain, I regret that deeply."

Again there was silence between them as they both took time to gather their thoughts. El was relieved that she was getting the opportunity to talk to Aisling to try and iron out their differences. She was grateful that the blonde was giving her this chance and she intended to make the most of it. She was stirred from her thoughts by a question from Aisling.

"Tell me about the day at the drug centre? What happened, El?" This was something Aisling needed to learn more about, what she had seen that day disturbed her greatly. The image of Elish attempting to choke the man with the knife had haunted her ever since. She didn't fear Elish, but it had been a shock to witness first hand what she was capable of.

"My father was in the Gardai all his working life. One day he answered a routine call with his partner. Turns out a fight had broken out in a pub over drugs. My father walked into the pub and was stabbed in the throat, no warning nothing. He was dead before the ambulance arrived." Tears were leaking from El's eyes, she still missed him every day.

Aisling got up from the chair she was sitting on and immediately made her way across to the brunette, without hesitation she offered comfort. "I am so sorry. That must have been awful for you all."

El nodded, "That day at the centre something in me just snapped. Seeing that situation, a drug addict with a knife, knowing my father was murdered in similar circumstances, I just lost control." Elish was aware of Aisling rubbing her back trying to soothe her hurt. "When my Da was stabbed, the culprits fled the scene, his partner was too occupied trying to keep my father alive and couldn't pursue them. They were never caught and I have never gotten over his loss. I carry this ball of anger around inside me, its there just bubbling under the surface, fuelled by the needlessness and injustice of my Da's death. That day at the centre showed me that I have to take the time to grieve and try to let go of that anger. I have had this mentality that I won't let go of until the murderer is brought to justice. I realise now that it's not the right thing to do. I need to deal with the emotion and not let it affect my decisions. I let myself down that day, but in doing so, I hurt the people who love me and lashed out at the most important person in my life when she tried to offer me comfort. I'm sorry for that Aisling, you didn't deserve the harsh words."

Aisling assisted El to lie down on the bed, as she continued to offer the tall woman words of comfort and support. Pushing off her shoes, she lay down next to El, content to allow them both some time to rest. They weren't done talking, but it didn't have to be done all in one night.

Aisling woke sometime later to find her limbs entangled with El's. Their arms wrapped around each other. It seemed that although her mind wasn't ready to accept El back into her life, her body had other ideas. She knew it would be too easy to just pick up where they left off. Elish was ready to do so; she had shown that by travelling to Edinburgh to see her. Aisling knew however that they still had a lot to talk about before they would be ready to rekindle their relationship, but deep down she knew that was what she wanted was Elish back in her life.

Elish stirred beside her and she watched affectionately as one blue eye peeked open. El's eyes widened when she realised she was wrapped around Aisling. She sat up and mumbled an apology.

"No need, El. I think we both sought out a little comfort in our sleep."

Noticing it was still dark outside though the bedside lamp, which neither of them had switched off, illuminated the room, El glanced at her mobile phone, seeing it was almost 6am. "What do you have planned for the rest of the day?" she asked quietly.

Aisling chuckled, "I intend to get some breakfast then catch up on my sleep."

"That sounds like a plan," Elish realised her words sounded presumptuous and attempted to rectify her error. "To get some breakfast, I mean.....but not necessarily together, I uh..."

Aisling silenced her with an offer, "Actually if you would walk me home, there is a place on the way that's serving breakfast. Will to join me?"

Smiling, grateful for the woman's understanding, El nodded. The more time she spent with Aisling, the more she was reminded that Aisling was a very uncomplicated woman. Lacking pretence or subterfuge, her straightforward easygoing approach to life was one of the things that most attracted El to her. "I would love to."

Walking back to Aiden's town house, they were close to the street he lived on when Aisling grasped El's hand and led her into a little place called Larry's Diner. It was fairly quiet inside with only a handful of customers sitting in booths. Aisling selected one tucked in a corner. Elish was starving, having not eaten since lunchtime the previous day. She knew Aisling had gone out to dinner the night before, but wasn't surprised when the blonde ordered the full breakfast with extra toast. El settled for some French toast with bacon. Breakfast served with tea and coffee they both tucked into the food, grateful to be putting something into their stomachs.

El watched fascinated as Aisling swiped the last slice of toast over her plate, practically cleaning it of all remnants of her breakfast, then she hummed happily as she put it into her mouth.

Aisling caught El watching her and grinned, "Sorry, but I just love having my breakfast here on a Sunday morning, granted this is earlier than usual but it was just as good."

El smiled fondly at the blonde, marvelling once again at her appetite. Sipping her coffee, she idly played with her fork. "So, this woman you went on a date with?"

Aisling raised an eyebrow at El's mention of her date.

"Was that the first?"

"The first date with anyone? Or the first date with her?" Aisling clarified.

El suddenly looked very uncomfortable with the topic, "Ah, both."

Aisling's face sobered, all signs of teasing gone. "That was my third date with Sarah."

"Oh, I see."

"Do you?"

El dipped her head, "I'm sorry, forget I asked."

"No, I think it's important that we discuss this, otherwise you are going to be wondering and imagining what may have happened between us."

El inhaled sharply, Aisling was right, it was better to discuss this. "I would..." El stumbled over her next words, wanting to know everything, but uncertain that she really wanted to hear the reply. "So you and she..."

"Went out on three dates." Aisling answered.

Biting her bottom lip, El tried not to imagine what might have happened on those three dates.

"We kissed, El, more than once, but we didn't sleep together." Aisling stated plainly.

"I'm sorry, I know it's really none of my business, but I can't help but wonder."

"It's not, but I understand your need to know, I'm curious myself."

El peered at Aisling wondering what she was asking. In her own mind she hadn't dated anyone else, but in truth, she hadn't exactly not done anything either. Suddenly wishing she had never brought the subject up, El wanted to be anywhere but sitting opposite a curious Aisling.

Clearing her throat, she considered just how to answer without making the blonde hate her. "I haven't slept with anyone," she began cautiously.

Aisling sat up straighter in her seat pinning El with a penetrating look. To the blonde's dismay, El began to look anywhere but at her. She waited until El would meet her gaze.

"I think I better explain."

"I'm all ears," was the sarcastic reply.

"First there was Bren..."

Aisling's outburst made El wince. "What! You and Bren?"

"Yes, I mean no!" She blew out an exasperated breath, and then covered her eyes with her hands in sheer frustration, all the while Aisling glared at her. "Bren kissed me," she continued on hurriedly. "It was her leaving night, apparently she has had a small crush on me and after a few drinks she just laid one on me." Aisling looked unconvinced. "Ask Naomi," El stated pathetically.

"Why? Have you kissed her too?" was the snippy reply.

El winced, "Trust me, Aisling, I was as shocked as you are by the lip lock."

"And that was all that happened?"

Without thinking El replied, "With Bren, yes. I was standing there thinking of a polite way to tell her I wasn't interested in her that way when the little minx said she wasn't even sure she liked girls, she just had a little thing for me!"

"What else, Elish? I know there's more."

"That was it, I swear, she walked off."

"Not with Bren."

"Oh, I see. Ah, well..., there was a night out with my brothers." El swallowed hard, she really didn't want to tell this story, she knew it was going to sound awful. "It's a family tradition you see, to take the broken hearted out to get drunk." El paused, "They have these challenges." She took a peek at Aisling, whose face remained carefully neutral. El was getting more nervous by the second; nothing made her as nervous as she felt right now sitting opposite Aisling. Not her presentations, not the marathon, nothing else could affect her this way.

"I, ah – I had too much to drink and ended up attempting the kissing challenge." Again there was no response from the blonde, "Well you see, Tim holds the record and he was taunting me all evening, so I decided to try and beat his record."

"What was his record?"

"Twelve kisses."

"On the cheek?"

El winced, "Lip locks."

"How many?"

El swallowed, "Twenty four," she had some vague recollection of doubling his count that evening.

"Impressive, it's a wonder you have any lips left."

There was something in Aisling's voice that left El with an ominous feeling about all this. Frankly she was scaring El, with her controlled demeanour.

"Then you went home alone?"



"Ah, not exactly..." El quickly held up her hands to stop Aisling's outburst, the blonde had clearly reached her limit, "But it's not what you think."

"Then enlighten me," came the terse reply.

El went on to explain all about Emma, the Occupational Therapist. She may have been very drunk that night, but her recall of events wasn't too impaired by alcohol. By the end of her story Aisling sat staring at her for about a minute.

"Let me get this straight. Since we have been apart you have kissed twenty five women...passionately?" El nodded, "Not only that, but your brothers think you slept with Emma?" El looked properly chastised as she nodded. "Elish! What am I going to do with you?" As El raised an eyebrow in hope, Aisling threw up her hands in despair. "Walk me home, Elish, I have a headache coming on."

Elish awoke Monday morning feeling better than she had in over two months. She and Aisling were talking and she was going to be spending more time with the beautiful blonde, life was good and she needed to burn of some excess energy. Donning a T-shirt, shorts and running shoes, El stretched in her hotel room. She had no idea where she was going to run in this strange city. Perhaps the hotel reception could help her out. Taking the stairs to the ground floor, El bumped into the assistant manager, Mark.

"Morning Miss Maloney."

"Morning, Mark. I wonder if you might be able to help me out. I want to go running, but I have no idea where I should head."

Mark smiled, "I know just the place and believe me, you won't get lost." He proceeded to give Elish directions straight down to the bottom of the Royal Mile, turn right at Holyrood palace and in front of her would be an extinct volcano. El knew he wasn't pulling her leg as she had seen the rocky protrusion from her room.

"Cross the road to the side with the loch full of swans," El nodded, "Then continue to your left, you will see a road that goes around Arthur's seat. Now it's almost four miles mind you," Mark cautioned, "but it brings you right back to where you started from, you can't get lost."

El thanked Mark and headed of down the Royal Mile just as he said noting all the tartan gift shops on her way, then a ...mmmm Starbucks... El took note of the location of the coffee shop, they were planned to open in Dublin by the end of the year, Elish had never been in one, perhaps she could before she headed home.

Just as Mark described, the palace was right at the bottom of the Royal Mile and you couldn't miss Arthur's Seat as it loomed over the Loch full of swans on the opposite side of the road. Crossing over, El easily spotted the entry to the road that ran around the extinct volcano, she moved easily over the smooth tarmac as the road gently inclined for the next mile as it swept around the hill. The weather was sunny and crisp with a slight frost covering the vegetation. The views offered from this vantage were stunning as the view swept unimpeded across first the sea then the rest of the city as El looped around the hill. As she completed the four miles, propelled at the end by the downward slope back to the loch full of swans, she felt exhilarated and went for a second loop around the hill.

Almost an hour and a half later El was back at The Bank hotel, sweating and grinning as she made her way through reception. Mark spotted her and beckoned her towards him.

"There is a message for you." As he went to retrieve the message he made small talk with her, "Did you enjoy your run?"

"I sure did, it was fantastic."

He grinned, caught up in her enthusiasm, "The directions were okay?"

"Yup, thanks for that."

"You're welcome,' he replied, handing El the note. "Did you enjoy the view?" He knew he sure was as he continued to admire the woman before him.

"I enjoyed it so much I had to go round a second time."

Mark's jaw dropped, he had thought her time was decent, but twice! He muttered something about wonder woman as El headed up the stairs to her room.

Elish read the note in her hand a second time.


Meet me at the house around 10am.


PS: Dress warmly and wear sensible shoes.

El noted she had ample time for a shower. Then she could take a leisurely walk up to Rankeillor Street and be in plenty of time for whatever Aisling had planned.

Just before 10am she knocked on Aiden's front door. Aisling answered, her jacket in hand. "I thought it was such a lovely morning that we could go for a walk. I know a place where the view of the skyline is spectacular on a clear day like this."

"Wonderful." El took in Aisling's attire, jeans, a warm polo neck jumper, similar to her own clothing. Where they differed was the comfortable sturdy looking walking boots that Aisling wore and the Gore-Tex jacket she was currently zipping up. El glanced at her training shoes and parka.

"You'll do." Aisling proclaimed, picking up on the brunette's thoughts, "But you will probably need this too."

Aisling handed her a woolly hat, which El looked at in disbelief.

The blonde laughed, "Trust me when I say, you will be thanking me later."

"Will Aiden not want to come with us?" El enquired.

Aisling was warmed by El's thoughtfulness towards her brother. "He does enjoy a walk with me now and again, but he has seen fit to take himself back to the unit for the week. I believe he wanted me to have as much free time as possible while you are here."

"I would have been more than happy to spend time with you both."

"It's Aiden's decision, Elish, I'll call him and see if he would like to have dinner with us tomorrow night, but don't hold your breath. Maybe in time, he might be more receptive to spending time with you."

El nodded, "I look forward to that."

The blonde led the way to the opposite end of Rankeillor street, the end which El had never been to and proceed to walk towards..."Yes, El thought, looks like I'm going up there for a second time today."

As they began to walk up a well-used path, Aisling provided El with a little history. "This is Arthur's Seat, an extinct Volcano, it's 822 feet high, has two lochs and a ruined chapel on it, as well as a natural spring. It's my favourite walk and I'm amazed every time I get up to the top that this is right in the middle of a city."

El couldn't help the chuckle that erupted from her throat.

"What's so funny?" Aisling asked, puzzled by El's response.

"I just finished running around it an hour ago."

At the blonde's wide-eyed look, El laughed harder.

They slowly but surely made their way towards the top, making small talk along the way. Aisling occasionally laughing at El's expense when she slipped occasionally, receiving the odd good-natured glare in reply.

When they reached the top, Elish was stunned. The view spread out for miles out to sea to the east as her eye ran along the waters edge and farmland sprawled out towards the south. To the south she could see as far as another set of hills. The west showcased the centre of the city, with its buildings sprawling out for miles. The north was another densely populated area that ended at the docks. They both spent a few minutes in companionable silence as they looked out over the view offered to them, reward for making the climb.

"You look cute in that hat you know."

Elish looked at the understated black hat on Aisling's head, then thought of the bright red woolly hat she wore, certain she was being teased again.

"You really suit the colour red, you should wear it more often."

"Really?" Growing up without sisters, El rarely had this kind of talk, and anything her Mam told her suited her, she usually ran a million miles from, she was warmed by Aisling's observation.


"You're welcome," was the quiet reply.

They walked part way back down the hill to a second loch nestled within the rock. El was becoming confused she swore she had counted three lochs so far. Aisling laughed and told her she had, but that only two were attached to Arthur's seat. The third belonged to the small village at the bottom of the Southside of the hill. Sitting on one of the benches that surrounded the smaller loch nestled within the hills, they sat close together. Aisling reached inside her small rucksack and removed a bag full of bread.

"These swans don't get as much as the ones on the lower lochs, not so easy to reach."

Elish nodded as she took some of the bread offered and began to throw it into the loch.

"They like Cheesy Wotsits too." Aisling added nonchalantly.

El looked disbelieving at Aisling, the thought of her feeding the swans the little cheesy corn puffs was not beyond the realms of possibility. "Please tell me you haven't been feeding the swans those?"

Aisling laughed, "No, but the last time I was here a little boy decided to share his, I swear the swans stopped eating the bread! He was so adorable when he realised they liked his snacks." Aisling leaned her head towards El's strong shoulder, the brunette was doing cartwheels inside, grateful for this show of intimacy, however small. "Have you ever thought of having children, Elish?"

El peered down into Aisling's face, flushed from the cold, her green eyes open and curious. "I have considered having children in my life, I'm just not sure if I want to give birth to a child myself. Certainly I don't at this stage in my life, but in the future and with the right person, it's a strong possibility." El answered Aisling smile with one of her own, "What about you?"

"I'm pretty certain that I want children, but not right now. I'm sure I would in the future though and unlike you, you big wimp, I think I would really like to experience pregnancy. Not so keen on the labour part," Aisling's nose wrinkled to convey her thoughts on that part of the process, "But I think it's something I definitely would like to go through. I love kids."

"Naomi is pregnant," El remarked.

"Oh my God! She is?"

El nodded, "She and Declan are going to make wonderful parents."

Aisling smiled at El's obvious affection for her friends. "I think so too. I don't know them nearly as well as you do, but spending time with them at your barbeque, I got a sense of how they are as people." Aisling was lost in thought for a few moments. "I really miss everyone, you know? Will you tell me what's been happening?"

El smiled fondly at Aisling, her ability to get to know people and become a part of their lives was thoroughly endearing, and she herself had been missed around the place.

"Let's see, goodness, so much has happened and not just at the centre. First off Bren has left."

Aisling's head whipped up at that news. "Really?" She had obviously missed that information the first time it was mentioned, El thought. It was hardly surprising given the topic then was her kissing Bren.

El smiled broadly, "She has, but it's fantastic Aisling. She has started University. Doing Social Work!"

"Oh, Elish, that is fantastic."

"We are all so thrilled and proud of her. I have a new guy, Brian..." El paused before adding, "He has red hair."

Aisling burst into gales of laughter and a few swans flapped their wings at the sudden sound. "At least Bren only had half her hair red."

"It's growing on me."

"Yeah, sure it is, Elish," she remarked, clearly not believing her tall companion.

El made a face, "Mrs Fitzgibbon broke her hip."

"Oh, the poor thing. How is she doing?"

"Really good now. I found her on her kitchen floor; she had been there overnight. She slipped on some spilled water just before going to bed and couldn't move. I had to kick her door down. Honestly, Aisling, I thought she was dead."

Aisling rubbed El's arm in support.

"Thankfully she wasn't and now she has a new hip and a new hearing aid... that was a shock." They both chuckled. "She was very down at first, but we all rallied round and got things sorted. Looked after her when she first got home and now...she is as good as new."

"That's' great news, El."

"It is, I was really worried about her for a time. Now I'm best buddies with her cat, Tac."

"Wait, she called her cat Tac?" Aisling burst out laughing.

"I know it's a bit unusual..."

Elish it's cat backwards!"

"I never thought of that, to tell you the truth I was more preoccupied with trying to figure out what sex the thing was."

Aisling continued laughing, "Not an animal lover then?"

"I wouldn't say that, but I think I might be more of a dog person, something like a Great Dane."

"It's suits you," Aisling deadpanned.

El frowned, "What about you, do you like animals?"

"I like dogs, but I lean more towards Labradors."

"Hmm, maybe we could get a crossbreed?"

Aisling burst out laughing, "You, Elish Maloney are crazy."

"But you would consider having a dog with me?" El asked hopefully.

Aisling smiled, "Sure I would."

"Brrrrr, it's getting cold, you want to start walking again?"

"What about some lunch?" The blonde asked.

"Lead on, MacDuff."

"Oh, you think you are so funny. You do realise that line was never used?"

"NO!" Elish pronounced with pretend shock, as the pair continued to banter back and forth as they made their way back down Arthur's Seat.

They walked back up the Royal Mile, Elish looking longingly at Starbucks as the pungent aroma wafted out into the cold air. They continued further up the cobbled street, passing kiltmakers, woolly jumper shops, lots of cafes, pubs and tourist shops. It was the first time El had been going slowly enough to take in all around her. Finally, Aisling went into a theatre telling El that the café there did the best homemade soup in the city and after a brisk walk on a cold morning it was exactly what they needed.

A bowl of chunky winter vegetable soup and a BLT later, they were both full and chatting about Aisling father.

"So, he signed the contract then signed over the new buildings that are being built to you?" El enquired.

"Yes, goodness knows what I'm going to do with a pub." They shared a laugh at that.

"I was going to ask Mr Kelly if he would consider continuing as the bar manager. I can't think of anyone more suited to the job."

"Neither can I. I'm sure he will accept your offer." El gave Aisling a fond smile, "You are such a considerate woman."

Aisling shrugged, "It makes good business sense," she replied shrugging off the compliment, but they both knew it was more than that prompting Aisling to offer Mr Kelly the job.

Elish finally broached the subject that they had managed to avoid for the last 24 hours, "So you will be our new landlord, or do you prefer landlady?"

Aisling looked down at the wooden table, they had to get past this obstacle if they were to move forward in their personal lives. Raising her eyes to grip Elish in a penetrating stare she answered. "I'll be honest with you, Elish. The last thing I want to be is your landlord. I made a decision to that end before you showed up here in Edinburgh. I've had a lot of time to think about this and I knew that my father gave me the deeds to these buildings in part to get back into my good graces, but I believe it is more than that. I genuinely think my father wants to put right his part in our relationship ending. The only way to do that is to get us back together, at least talking to each other." Aisling could see the hope clearly mapped out on El's face and she knew it had nothing to do with buildings or property deeds, it was to do with them and the possibility of the two of them getting back together.

"Whatever you said to my father had a profound impact upon him. He has gone from condemning my relationship choices to championing you as my number one suitor. I have to tell you, Elish, it's been quite a strange time adapting to that. I asked him why he felt you were the right person for me, you know what he said?"

Elish shook her head negatively.

"He told me he knew without a shadow of a doubt that you had my best interests at heart. When you turned down his proposal and instead told him succinctly what he needed to do. He was shocked on two fronts, firstly by your selflessness and secondly by your balls!" Aisling laughed, "His words not mine." She shook her head, "He was stunned, Elish, and he was also very impressed with your integrity."

"Aisling, I don't care what your father thinks of me, but if him liking me makes your life easier, I'm all for it."

Aisling nodded then continued, "As I said, I came to a decision, one that I believe is best for everyone concerned. I'm donating the new centre to the community, that way I won't be your landlord, but most importantly it assures the future of the services both centres provide."

"Aisling, that is the most amazing gift, I can't believe it."

"The buildings were given for free; it was a simple case of changing the contract of sale. I think it's right that the new centre should belong to the community. However, there will be one or two clauses, mainly involving the purpose of the buildings. They must continue to be used to benefit the community, not sold by some bureaucrats in a few years time, as a way to cut costs and bring in some revenue."

El smiled when she heard this, "I think the clauses will be very important, I would hate to see that happen."

Aisling continued, "I want you and Naomi to have some input when it comes to the layout of the new building. You two know better than anyone what you require in terms of office space, conference rooms and anything else you require."

Elish was so totally overwhelmed; she didn't know how to start thanking this precious woman. "This is beyond anything we could have ever hoped for, Aisling. Thank you from the bottom of my heart." Elish wiped at a tear that threatened to trickle down her cheek. This woman never stopped amazing her.

"Will you do me a favour?"

"Anything," El readily replied.

"Will you come shopping with me?"

El's face was a picture, it was her least favourite activity, but right now she would walk over hot coals to be with Aisling.

Elish got ready for her final night in Edinburgh before returning home to Dublin. Aisling had suggested they go out to a bar for a drink, El was happy to keep it casual. She had enjoyed the last few days immensely, feeling in that time she had learned more about Aisling that she had in the previous time they had spent together as lovers. El desperately hoped that they could be lovers again. Feeling that they were moving in the right direction, they seemed to have reached a precipice. El was uncertain about making the next move; the last thing she wanted was to make a mistake. If Aisling were to rebuff her advances now it would set them back and hinder a lot of the progress they had made in the last few days. Elish cautioned herself to be patient, but in truth if she were to head back to Dublin without knowing where they stood with each other, it would drive her crazy.

Putting all thoughts of what ifs and maybes behind her, El reached for her jacket, determined to enjoy this last night with Aisling, regardless of the uncertainty surrounding any potential romantic involvement. Elish had loved simply spending time with Aisling as friends and if that was all they could be at this stage in time, she intended to relish every moment she could share with this special woman.

El knocked on the heavy red door and waited. A few moments later Aisling answered it.

"Hi." El smiled warmly at the blonde.

Aisling said nothing, instead she looked intently at El for a few moments, Elish wondered what was going through her mind. She shuffled her feet, beginning to feel uncomfortable under the intense scrutiny, then suddenly her eyes zoned in on Aisling's and they connected. El recognised all the signals the blonde was sending out, the dilated pupils, the slight flaring of her nostrils, the increase in her breathing. El waited patiently for Aisling's next move.

Reaching out, Aisling gently grasped El's hand in her own, then turned to walk into the house. El followed easily, aware of the warm digits wrapped around her cold ones. Walking along the hall, they passed the sitting room, then proceeded up a staircase. El could feel her heart beating faster against her chest, fingers rapidly heating in Aisling warm hand. At the top of the stairs, El was led into a room she assumed was the blonde's bedroom, it was cast in a soft glow from a single lamp. Aisling turned to face El and began unbuttoning the brunette's winter jacket.

Swallowing hard, El remained silent, content to let Aisling lead them wherever she wanted to go. The blonde had yet to utter one word this evening, but her actions were saying more than any words could at this point in time, clearly Aisling had decided the time for talking was over.

Aisling began to slowly undress El and herself, alternating between them, removing an item from El's body then her own. The brunette remained totally captivated, seemingly lost in the slow cadence of the blonde's actions; they were hypnotic, deliberate and graceful. They had yet to kiss, El had yet touched her soon to be again lover, yet she had never been so aroused in her entire life. Soon they both stood naked, caressing each other with their eyes only, the moment hauntingly beautiful, yet intensely erotic. When Aisling trailed soft deliberate fingers down El's forearm, the brunette shivered and felt the hairs on her arm stand up. Grasping El's warm hand, the blonde led them towards the double bed.

Stopping at the side of the bed, Aisling removed her hand from El's, leaving the brunette standing, she gracefully slid across the top of the covers, to lie on her side, facing El, waiting.

Swallowing down the ball of emotion that threatened to overwhelm her, Elish took a moment to look at the beautiful woman, lying naked before her, waiting on her to make a move. Aisling had led them to this point with El happy to remain passive, content to go wherever the blonde wanted to take them. Now she lay before her, offering everything to Elish. It took everything the brunette had to keep her composure and accept that which was being freely given.

Trembling, El slowly approached the blonde, laying beside her in a mirror pose of Aisling's. Slowly, almost reverently she began to trace the out line of her soft pink lips with a long finger, lips she had been dreaming of for weeks. Wetting her own, she finally leaned forward to capture them, letting out a whimper at the first contact with her own. Instinctively their hands moved to each other, caressing skin, fingers running through hair. Elish moved Aisling onto her back as she insinuated a long leg between the blondes now parted thighs. Slowly they began to rock against each other, still no words being spoken, the only sounds filling the air were the gasps and moans of the two reunited lovers.

El left Aisling lips to move her own over the blonde's neck and shoulders, before moving back up to her lips, she couldn't get enough of them having gone too long without being able to kiss them. Working on instinct alone, El knew she wanted to remain right where she was; she slid fully between the blonde's thighs, reaching down to part them further. With Aisling's co-operation, she guided the blonde's knees towards Aisling's upper body, opening the blonde fully to her. Elish parted her own thighs and gasped when her clitoris came into contact with the blonde's. Rotating her hips only slightly, keeping herself in contact with Aisling, El looked into the blonde's eyes, wanting to maintain this connection. Using one elbow to support her upper body, Elish used her free hand to caress Aisling's face and body, sweeping her hair of her face as sweat began to bead along the blonde's forehead.

Their bodies began to jerk and spasm with the first tell tale signs of orgasm. Elish watched as the blonde's eyes closed, no longer able to remain open as her orgasm shuddered through her body. El followed moments later, Aisling's moans of pleasure the final stimulus that triggered her own orgasm. The brunette collapsed spent onto Aisling's body, the emotion of the occasion finally overwhelming her, she began to sob into the blonde's neck, while Aisling spoke her first words of the evening, to comfort Elish.

The following morning El awoke wrapped in her lovers arms, a smile immediately blossoming on her face.

"Morning sleepyhead," came the voice from just above her head which was tucked under Aisling's chin.

"Mmm, morning." El sighed, she was totally content for the first time in weeks, her world had righted itself. Her eyes blinked open and her body stiffened as realisation dawned on her...she was going home today.

"What's wrong?"

El raised her face to look at Aisling. "I fly home today," she replied quietly.

"Hmm, what time do you have to be at the airport?" Aisling idly ran her fingers through, El's long dark hair, finger combing the tangles out.

"I have to check in before 1.40pm. I have to pack first, but that won't take long."

"How are you getting out to the airport?"

"I know where to get the airport bus from, so I was planning on taking that."

"Could I come with you?"

El smiled," I would love that, but would it be alright if we got a taxi instead?"

Aisling smiled, a black cab would give them more privacy than a double Decker bus.

Aisling accompanied El to her hotel to pack and check out. As they stood at reception it was once again Mark, the assistant manager who tended to El's needs.

"Did you enjoy your stay in Edinburgh?"

"I most certainly did." El shared a knowing smile with Aisling.

Mark had to admit, the tall woman looked a lot happier checking out, than she did checking in. – he suspected it had something to do with the good looking blonde beside her. "Will you be coming back to our lovely city?"

Elish was pretty sure she would be back, this city now held some great memories for her, but more importantly the woman she loved currently resided here. A thought suddenly occurred to her, "Does Edinburgh have a marathon?"

"It certainly does, it will be in June next year."

El considered that, a marathon in June sounded pretty good to her. "I think I might like to run that."

"It's a lovely scenic route and perhaps you might like to stay with us again?"

"If I'm looking for a hotel I will definitely be trying here first."

"Wonderful, have a safe journey home, Ms Maloney."

"Bye Mark."

Elish and Aisling walked to the nearby taxi rank to catch a cab out to the airport. Aisling rolled her eyes when she heard, "Ooh, I get to go in a black cab!"

At the airport that afternoon, Aisling hugged El tightly, neither of them really wanting to be apart after the week they had spent rekindling their romance.

"You'll call me?' Aisling asked.

"Every night."

"I'll be in Dublin soon, El, I promise."

"I am going to miss you," El declared as she hugged Aisling tighter.

The pair shared one last kiss before El took the escalator, looking back as it made it's slow ascent, she kept her eyes on the woman she loved, as Aisling waved her goodbye.


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