A Handful of Heaven
"Don't even think about falling asleep there." Said Tori regarding her lover who had flopped gracefully onto the sofa in the lounge.
"Sssh." Said Eden and curled into a ball with her head resting on a huge burgundy cushion.
"I'll make some coffee, then we'll hit the sack."
Tori left her dozing companion and made her way to the kitchen, setting up the coffee maker before easing herself into a chair next to the pine kitchen table.
It had been a nice evening. They had left the Bath Tap just after 2am, managing to get a taxi home. Tori had warmed to Jude as the evening went on. Her initial discomfort at the familiar way she treated her lover was dispelled by the woman's agreeable nature. Tori could understand why Eden felt so much for her ex-lover. The woman was as opposite to her as night to day.
The coffee maker finishing its work brought her out of her musings. She made two mugs full and took them back into the spacious lounge.
Eden was asleep, curled into a gorgeous and relaxed looking ball on the sofa. Tori put the mugs down on the low table beside the sofa and sat on the floor so that her head was on a level with her lovers. She watched the relaxed face for a long moment. Then, after gently blowing on Eden's face she watched the cute nose wrinkle and the green eyes blink open.
"Thank you." She said quietly.
Eden blinked at her for a while. "For what?" She whispered.
Tori was so close she could see the hazel flecks in the green eyes. "For not telling Jude what an idiot I was."
Eden shrugged sleepily. "If you're an idiot, you're my idiot."
"But why? Why didn't you tell her I left you?" She pushed a lock of blonde hair back behind her lover's ear, and prevented Eden from replying by laying a soft kiss on her lips. The kiss ended, but Tori's hand remained, her fingers tracing a delicate ear.
Eden closed her eyes and concentrated on answering Tori's question. "It's something I still find very hard to talk about." She felt Tori's hand break contact and made a grab for it. Holding it close to her heart she continued. "A lot of people wouldn't understand what you did. I didn't understand it. You left me."
Tori drew in a ragged breath, her shoulders slumped and she could no longer meet the sincere green eyes of her lover. She shook her head and started to rise. Eden pulled her back to her side.
"No, we need to do this."
Tori looked up and into the moist eyes of her lover. "We do." Was all she could manage.
"I know why you went Tori. Of course it helped that Cathy didn't tell me what you wanted her to tell me. She told me a couple of weeks ago what you said."
Tori looked up in shock. Her discussion with Cathy in the car park of the hospital on the night she ran was something she still bitterly regretted. She was eternally grateful to Eden's friend and had a long and heartfelt discussion with her soon after arriving back in Bath. Cathy took some persuading that Tori was not going to hurt Eden again, and had received a threat of bodily harm if she reneged on her promise. Tori took the threat in good heart and the two women who loved Eden in their own different ways embraced and sealed their own friendship.
"So you know I didn't mean it?" Asked Tori, still not able to meet her lover's gaze and instead watching intently their linked hands.
"Tori, Cathy didn't believe it. That's why she didn't tell me. And I sure as hell wouldn't have believed it." She shook the hand she was holding and waited for the blue eyes to rise and meet hers. When they did she smiled, trying to covey the promise she was about to make. "You had my heart. And when you ran you took it with you. That's why I had to come and find you. I had to know if you still held it within your own." Eden raised their linked hands and kissed her lover's fingertips. "You did, didn't you?"
Tori nodded, her tight throat stopping her from saying anything.
"So, as far as I'm concerned it's nobody else's business. We're over it, past it. We're here now, and I hope forever. I love you Tori Conrad, with all my heart and all that I am. I want to be with you, to love you." She reached out a hand and cupped the dark head, pulling Tori towards her. Just before their lips met she made one last promise. "I'll never hurt you Tori."
The kiss was long and sensuous. Tori leaned back afterwards, somewhat breathless. "You have so much belief." She finally managed. "What have I ever done to inspire such belief?"
Eden thought for a moment. "When you left me, did you love me?"
"With all my heart." Tori's voice faltered with her admission.
"And you still left?" Eden waited for Tori's nod of agreement. "Did it hurt?"
Tori chuckled softly. "I've never felt such pain."
"But you still went." Again Eden waited for the nod. "Because you thought I'd be better off without you." Eden smiled when she saw the frown on her lover's face. "To me, even though it hurt me as much as it hurt you, that was the bravest thing you could have done. If you feel anywhere near the way I feel about you, I know how much it hurt to do what you did. And to know that someone would put their self in such pain, for me and because of me, makes me feel loved. "
"It was a horrible thing to do to you." Tori argued.
"Yes it was." Eden agreed. "And for a while I tried very hard to hate you. But I couldn't. And I couldn't because I loved you. Even then. Even when I was lying in that hospital bed, expecting you to appear at any moment, I couldn't hate you. And then at my parents...." Eden chuckled. "They were incredible. They didn't question me, just let me get well in my own good time."
Eden was quiet for a while.
"When are you going to see them?" Tori said, realising the mention of Eden's parents had reminded her of her upcoming meeting with them.
"I'm not sure, sometime this week. I want to see them before next weekend if I can."
"D'you want me to come with you?"
Eden shook her head. "No, I'll go alone, and then introduce you at the wedding."
Tori leaned over and rested her head on her lover's stomach, sighing when she felt a small hand tangle itself in her hair. "Thanks again."
"For what now?" Said Eden looking down at the back of Tori's head.
"Just for being you. Believing in us. For not giving up on me."
Eden stared up at the ceiling, enjoying the comfortable weight of her lover's head on her stomach. "What would you have done if I hadn't come for you?"
She felt the dark head shake, and Tori buried her face in Eden's shirt. "I don't even want to think about it." Came the muffled response. She turned her head to look at Eden, her other cheek now pressed against the blonde's abdomen. "I suppose I would have gone back to being the sad rich bitch. Loving 'em and leaving 'em. Good old Tori, she's good for roll in the sack."
"Hey." Eden gave the dark locks in her hands a gentle shake. "It didn't happen. I'm sorry I asked."
"No. I'm sorry." She watched the blonde as she smiled down at her, the green eyes struggling to stay open. "You're tired." Tori stood and reached down taking a small hand in her own. "Let's go to bed."
Eden allowed herself to be pulled to her feet and then out of the lounge. Turning off lights as she went they both picked up their now warm drinks and made their way up the stairs.
Eden wobbled into the bathroom first, leaving Tori sipping lukewarm coffee while sitting on the corner of their bed. Eden took a while, closing her eyes while she leaned against the sink. She splashed cold water onto her face and then regarded her reflection for long moments.
When she returned to the bedroom she found Tori still sitting on the bed, an empty coffee cup hanging loosely from her fingers. Eden removed the cup from her lover's hand and put it on the bedside cabinet. She kneeled in front of the silent woman and ducked her head to better see into the blue and troubled eyes.
"Tori? Baby, what is it?" She said seeing silent tears falling across the high cheekbones.
"I'll never forget."
"What? Never forget what?" Eden eased herself onto the bed beside the distraught woman and circled her shoulders with her arm.
Tori took a deep breath. "What I did to you. Leaving you like that. I'll never forget and I'll never make up for it."
The dark woman turned towards her lover. "No Eden. I'll do anything, give you anything, just promise you won't leave me." She collapsed into the smaller woman's arms, her shoulders heaving as she sobbed uncontrollably. "Tell me how to make it right. Tell me Eden. Anything, I'll do anything." Again the sobs overtook her and she fell heavily against Eden.
Eden held on tightly, shocked by the way her lover had broken down. True, they hadn't discussed the events of the previous February, but she thought that because Tori hadn't mentioned it her lover had come to terms with the fact that Eden bore no remorse towards her.
Eden suddenly realised that all this time her lover had been living with the dreadful burden of guilt, which was just now bursting to the surface after their brief chat in the lounge.
"You said you'd do anything?"
Tori heard the soft words through the pounding in her skull. She struggled to raise her head, but when she did she was faced with moist green eyes, brimming with love.
"Anything." Tori croaked.
Eden shifted and stood in front of Tori. "Then love me. Make love to me."
Continued in Part 4
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