Impulse: Book Two: It’s Just The Beginning by Mezzo

Impulse: Book Two: IT’S JUST THE BEGINNING
by Mezzo

 Part 2 in the Impulse Series

INSTALLMENT ONE

The sun was peeking across the horizon and you could hear the first signs of the city waking. Two figures could be seen seated on a bench. One was surrounding the other in an embrace, the other leaning back in blissful peace. The two had been sitting like this for a few hours. Being a January morning, they should have been tucked away somewhere however neither wanted to move from their comfortable positions. It had taken them so long to find their way to each other. They just wanted to soak up every ounce of this magical moment.

Luckily, for them it was a mild winter. They probably would have ended up with hypothermia before they could enjoy there newfound relationship. Victoria Hull, Tori for short, was the tall gorgeous, blue-eyed brunette and Brett Montgomery was the beautiful green-eyed blonde. They had known each other since they were young and always had a strong connection. However, human nature, being as complex as it is, had stopped them from admitting their true feelings for one another. This left them with years and years of pain until now.

“Honey you feel so good,” placing tiny kisses along Brett’s neck.

“Hmm…So do you.” She leaned her head to the side to give Tori better access.

“I don’t think I’ll ever look at another sunrise again without thinking of this morning. Having you here in my arms feels so wonderful. You’ve made me so happy, Brett.” She nestled even closer. “Hey sweetie, you must be freezing?” Running her hands up and down Brett’s arms

“No…Not really. You feel so warm. You’re like my own portable heat source.” Brett sighed happily. “I’m okay. But if you want we can go.”

Just then, Tori’s stomach gave a rumble.

“You wouldn’t happen to be hungry, would you?” Brett laughed as Tori’s stomach boldly made its presence known.

“Ah, I think I am. Yesterday, I was so busy getting ready to see you at the club. I didn’t eat until last night’s meal and I, kind of only picked at that.” Tori admitted shyly.

“Honey, what’s wrong? Did my baby have a bug or something? Why weren’t you hungry?” Brett knew Tori must have been nervous. But she could not pass up the opportunity to tweak her a bit.

“No, I wasn’t sick.” Tori cleared her throat and slid away from Brett a little, feeling a bit exposed.

Tori had already admitted she was in love with Brett. Nevertheless, she wasn’t quite used to being so open, so vulnerable. She had spent so many years denying her feelings for Brett. She found it odd that now she was being asked to reveal them.

“So then. What was it?” Brett wanted them to learn to communicate again. They had kept their feelings hidden for so long she didn’t want to go back to that.

“Well, I knew that you and the girls went to the Grove every Friday night and, I’ve been trying to find the time to see you.” Pausing she looked towards the river across from where they were seated watching as a tugboat made its way towards the George Washington Bridge. “I went shopping yesterday and then went to the Spa to pamper myself. So I could gather my confidence to see you.” She lowered her voice to a whisper. She felt a little embarrassed at the admission. “I guess I was feeling a little nervous. My stomach was a little jumpy.”

Brett turned around to look fully into Tori’s gorgeous eyes. “Oh baby, you have nothing to be nervous about when you’re with me. I have to tell you. I’m a sure thing as far as you’re concerned.” She realized too late how her words sounded. “I mean…I…Um…well…” scratching her head. “Not that I am a sure thing …Well…maybe… Oh hell. I guess, you’re not the only one who gets nervous…” Brett looked down and bit at her bottom lip. She was feeling a little vulnerable also.

Tori reached over and lifted Brett’s face to meet hers. She moved in to give Brett a light kiss. “You know? I think we have both wanted this for so long, that it’s going to take a moment before it settles in.” She moved in closer again for reassurance. “What do you say we just take things nice and slow? Let things happen as they happen… Hmm?” Winking she kissed Brett again, this time the kiss lasted even longer and they both felt another piece of their connection fall into place.

Tori released the kiss but Brett stayed in place with her eyes closed. A dreamy smile graced her face. After a long moment, she finally opened her eyes. “I’m sorry…but did anyone ever tell you, you kiss…really… really well?”

A seductive smile covered Tori’s face. She leaned over and whispered into Brett’s ear, “I’ve been told that,” kissing Brett on the neck. “a time,” kissing her on the forehead. “or two…” ending at the other side of Brett’s neck, nipping at Brett’s pulse point.

“Mmm…You know? I’m starting to think you enjoy leaving me speechless.” Brett was getting lost in the sensation of Tori’s mouth on her neck and the pressure in her belly. “But if you keep that up, we’re going to end up getting arrested.”

Tori laughed, “First of all, I’m kind of looking forward to hearing you speak…especially the volume in which you can project your voice.” She waggled her eyebrows and smiled like a Cheshire Cat. “Secondly, what’s the use of having a world class lawyer for a father if you can’t use his services?” Deciding to push her luck, she pulled Brett even closer and gave Brett another earth-shaking kiss.

Brett felt the blood rush to her face and felt a painful twinge in her lower extremities. “You do know that you’re incorrigible don’t you?” Brett continued to kiss lips that were just too inviting. “As happy as Daddy would be to hear of this new development between us, I don’t think he’d appreciate being called this early in the morning to bail you and me out for indecent exposure in a public place.”

Both of them laughed at the thought of Gordon Montgomery doing exactly that.

Brett decided that Tori was enjoying her fluster a little too much. Oh Tori, two can play this game. Brett took her finger, and slowly traced it over Tori’s lips, down her chin, neck, and painstakingly traveled down the V of Tori’s sweater. “As far as your desire to hear me speak “, Brett batted her eyes and flashed Tori a rather enticing smile. “That’s going to be more like a heated two way conversation.”

Tori breathed in, swallowed and let out a long exhale. She had really missed the connection she shared with Brett. It was truly like meeting the other half of her soul. Brett had always made her feel a whole spectrum of emotions. With Brett in such close proximity, she desperately needed to get Brett home so she could demonstrate a few of them.

Looking around, Tori took in her surroundings. They had been at this local club called the Grove. They ended up talking about their relationship outside on the new boardwalk that ran along the Hudson River. “Okay. What do you say we get out of here?” She quickly got up, lifted her arms over her head and stretched out her long sinewy muscles trying to get the blood flowing again. Brett stared at her in absolute amazement. Victoria was so beautiful. She exuded such sensuality and catlike strength that an observer was left breathless. Tori offered Brett her hand and pulled her into an embrace.

“Thank you.” Tori said appreciatively.

“For what?” Brett asked innocently.

“For giving me a memory that is so wonderful, it almost makes the bad ones disappear.”

Eyes glistened with unshed tears, as Brett again stood there speechless. How did I get here? One day I am hoping for love and the next receiving it. You just never know what’s going to happen day to day. “Oh honey, thank you. I feel the same way.” Brett looked into eyes that had captivated her for as long as she could remember. “As far as letting things happen as they happen between us.” Brett snuggled closer. “Since the first day we met, I’ve been helpless to stop. From this day on I promise I won’t even try.” Tilting her head up, Brett sealed her promise with a convincing kiss. Stepping away, Brett made a decision. “Tori…Let’s go home.” Breathless, Brett took a very stunned Tori’s hand and led them back towards the club where they could get a cab.

By the time the two women reached a cab, Tori was finally able to regain the use of her mouth. She couldn’t believe that the woman she had wanted all her life was willingly giving her everything she had dreamed about all her life. If this was some sort of bizarre twilight zone, she never wanted to leave it. Looking down at the beautiful woman staring back at her, she wanted to pinch herself to make sure what was happening was truly a reality. Brett smiled waiting patiently for Victoria to come back from her mental wandering. Seeing that she was being stared at, Tori realized Brett was waiting for her to make a decision. “I’m sorry, I kind of got lost in your eyes there for a second.” Tori bowed her head and captured Brett’s moist lips. Their breath mingling together in this cool January morning in the middle of Manhattan. Feeling the cab driver was staring at them, Tori decided that they needed to go somewhere that was less public.

“So?” Tori smiled and leaned in to whisper into Brett’s ear.

“I know this great place that makes a killer omelet. I don’t suppose you would be interested?” Victoria inquired opening the door to the cab. She helped Brett in and took her place next to the smaller woman.

“Oh yeah, I’m one of those people that can always eat.” Brett took Tori’s arm in hers and laid her head against Victoria’s shoulder sighing happily as their eyes met lovingly.

“I remember.” Tori nuzzled the top of Brett’s head with her cheek and lips, smiling as she remembered how the tiny woman beside her could always eat her weight in food when they were kids.

Tori turned and gave the voyeur of a cab driver their destination glaring at the man when he gave her a lascivious look.
Once their destination was given, Tori sat back and placed an arm around Brett, not caring if the cab driver got an eyeful or was having lustful thoughts about the two women. Tori decided the man could think what he wanted. She had everything she could ever want beside her and nothing was going to distract her from that important fact.
INSTALLMENT TWO
Tori pulled Brett closer to her as they watched street after street roll by. Sometimes the city could be such a quiet place. There was no one on the streets and the only sounds that could be heard was the occasional subway and the steam rising from the grates on the sidewalk. You could almost imagine being the only ones living in this huge city that supposedly never slept.

Lost in the sensation of being together, they were at their destination before they knew it. Tori paid the driver again ignoring the look the man was giving her. She opened the door and got out. Then held her hand out for Brett to take, making sure that her childhood friend got out easily.

“Well, here we are. Watch your step, honey. There’s a bit of a dip there.” Tori pointed to the area, carefully guiding Brett across making sure she was unharmed.

Brett took Victoria’s hand and smiled. She remembered how Tori had always been as protective of her as a child. She felt the safety of her youth wrap around her like a warm blanket. Looking up, Brett noticed they were standing in front of a very tall opulent building that seemed to go on for days. As impressed as she was with the large structure she had absolutely no idea where they were. Looking around, there wasn’t a restaurant in sight.

Willing to see where Tori was leading them Brett just held on to Tori’s hand as the taller woman led them to the entrance of the building. As they approached the entrance, a very pleasant door attendant welcomed them. “Miss Hull….good morning.” He tipped his hat and motioned them to enter holding the heavy glass doors to the building open for them.

“Good Morning, Tony.” Tori motioned for Brett to enter first. “Tony this is Miss Montgomery.”

“It’s a pleasure to me you Miss Montgomery.” Tony smiled warmly at the very pretty woman that was with one of their new building residents.

“It’s a pleasure to me you, also.” Brett replied warmly.

“Tony are you just beginning or ending your shift?” Victoria inquired.

“I’m just beginning actually. I just relieved Paul. He said it was a quiet night.”

Tony knew Miss Hull was one of the new residents in the building and was well on her way to being one of his favorites. Either most of the residents kept to themselves or they were obnoxiously snooty. Miss Hull was surprisingly genuine considering her wealth and stature.

“That’s good to hear.” Tori turned and placed a hand on the small of Brett’s back leading them forward as they chatted with the pleasant doorman. “Well it’s good to see you this morning. You have a good day now.”

“You too Miss Hull.” He responded tipping his hat again at Victoria and then to Brett. “You as well, Miss Montgomery.”

“Thank you Tony. You too.” Brett was very impressed with how pleasant the gentleman seemed. You couldn’t help but be brightened up by the man’s demeanor.

They made their way down the long marble lobby that sparkled from the chandeliers that hung from the high ceiling. Tori stopped and had a similar conversation with Bill at the security desk while making their way to a set of elevators that was marked penthouse.

Inserting her security key, the doors opened to a waiting elevator.

“Here you go honey.” Tori motioned Brett forward and when they were both in, she pressed the button that was marked P1.

Brett and Victoria were quiet during the ride. Each was lost in their own thoughts, Brett had figured out that they were at Victoria’s home and Tori was trying to keep her emotions in check as they made their way up floor by floor. The quiet whirl of the elevator was deafening as both came to the realization of what was happening between them. Brett reached over and took Tori’s hand in hers. Their pounding pulse beat in unison through their connection. The elevator came to a slow cushioned stop and the doors slid open to a breath-taking floor to ceiling view of the city. Oh my. THIS is Tori’s home?” Brett thought in wonderment. Her eyes took in the home before her as she took in every detail of the luxurious penthouse before her.

The penthouse took up the whole length of the top two floors of the building. The south side of the penthouse had high open ceilings with partial walls dividing most of the rooms on the south side of the penthouse. Directly in front of where they were standing was the living room. Inviting soft tan leather couches with tastefully soft pillows and tables were strategically placed around a beautiful granite fireplace. The fireplace stood invitingly centered between floor to ceiling French doors that opened to the heart of the city. A perfect setting for romantic evenings spent on the plush Persian rug in front of it. To the right of the room was a large area where a rich well-polished mahogany Steinway piano stood. There was enough room for a whole band and an area for dancing if one were entertaining. To the left of the room was a well-stocked wet bar and a wall length entertainment center. The unit housed every state of the art component, including a 70-inch hi definition television. Various plants and shrubbery also accented the room. Brett made an audible gasp, obviously stunned by the dwelling that lay before her.

Long arms circled around her waist and a low seductive voice trembled in her ear. “Welcome to my home, sweetheart.” Kissing Brett along her neck, Tori was discovering that this was becoming one of her favorite spots on Brett’s body. If I get so turned on by just her neck, what am I going to do when I am up close and personal with the rest of her. I am going to need to be resuscitated before we even get started. But boy is it going to be worth it. Snapping out of her thoughts, Tori asked. “So what do you think?”

Brett swallowed, “Tori, this place is indescribable. How on earth did you find it?”

“I just went through a realtor. This place just went on the market. Louis Clayton, the famous architect, designed it for Martin Vanderburgh and his family. They moved to the West Coast when Vanderburgh Technologies was relocated.”

“Oh Tori it’s…beyond words.”

“It not too much is it? I mean… you like it, right?” Tori was concerned that Brett was just being polite and might not like it. Maybe it wasn’t too late to find another place she thought. May be she just needs to see the rest of it.

“Do you want to see the rest of it? Or…um… do you want to eat first?” Tori inquired nervously scratching her head in confusion. Why did this seem so much easier in my head Tori pondered.

Brett realized that she must have been making Tori nervous again. Her tall friend was starting to look a little tense. This really means a lot to her, Brett. Tell her how you’re feeling instead of acting like an awe struck idiot. Brett chastised herself.

Taking Victoria’s hand in hers, “Honey, I’m just so overwhelmed by this place. It’s so beautiful and so romantic. I’ve just seen the living room and it’s already the most amazing room I’ve ever seen.” She nodded her head for emphasis. “I can’t imagine what the rest of the place is going to look like. The thoughts alone of what I might like to do in front that fireplace are a little more than I can handle.” A blush raced across both Brett and Tori’s faces. “I absolutely love your home, honey.” Reaching up, she pulled Tori down for a very intense kiss. After a long drink of each other, the two reluctantly returned to their conversation. “Mmm…and yes. I would very much like to see the rest of it.” Brett took Tori’s hand and headed in the direction of the hallway to the left.

To the left of the living room was a hallway. The first entrance to the right was the grand dining room. Large windows ran across the length of the room. Custom-made mahogany cabinetry ran along the wall and continued into the kitchen. This room allowed for a buffet or a sit down dinner if desired. A beautiful hand crafted mahogany table with sturdy high back chairs allowed for seating a large number of guests.

A partial wall separated the dining area from the kitchen. Matching cabinetry with the dining room covered the walls in the kitchen. Black marbleized granite covered the counter as well as the island in the center of the kitchen. Stainless steel appliances were strategically placed to accommodate the most demanding of cooks. There was even a well-stocked climate controlled wine closet. Hanging over the oversized island is a large array of cookware and a monstrous venting hood that would make world-renowned chefs drool. The island held a Jen air oversized stovetop and grill. Built into the island were two double deep sinks and ample room to make many a culinary feast.

Off of the kitchen is a smaller room, which could be used for more intimate dining in the morning or the evening. In addition, gorgeous ornate windows grace the room. This room faces the east so the sunrise can be enjoyed in the early morning.

Off the kitchen was a door that led back into the hallway giving you access to another wide hallway to the right. This leads to two sets of French doors. Behind them is the gym area where an indoor pool, Jacuzzi, hot tub, and sauna were located. Across the room to the far-left hand corner sits a spiral staircase. The staircase ascends upward to the second level of the gym which holds nautilus equipment, a treadmill, and an elliptical machine. A bicycle can also be found there. A work out mat lies on the far right hand side of the room facing east. This allows Victoria to watch the sun come up in the morning while she meditates. This room overlooks the park.

A door off the second floor gym leads to the upstairs balcony. From there you can look down into the kitchen, dining room, and living room. Going down the balcony are doors to the right that lead to various rooms on the top floor. The first door on the right is the master bath outfitted in alabaster marble and granite. The bathroom contains matching sinks, a toilet and a bidet, a large glass shower with sauna, a large Jacuzzi tub with a granite ledge surrounding it. On the ledge are every kind of candle imaginable, along with a variety of oils and fragrances.

A hall off the bathroom leads to two huge matching walk-in closets.

As you continue down the hall, you enter the bedroom. The rich high polished wood floors of the bedroom are covered with expensive Turkish wool rugs placed in various places around the room. To the right is a wall length shaker dresser unit with a built in vanity. A long bench sits in front of the vanity, allowing two people to use it. Two sets of large French doors run along the front of the penthouse to the north. In the summer either sets of doors can open to accommodate room for sitting on the balcony. Between the two sets of doors is a Mahogany mission style sleigh bed. The bed is made up with flannel sheets and finished off with a damask goose down mattress and bedspread. King size duvets and pillows rest on top of the bed. Two mission style nightstands with brass lamps are placed at each side of the bed. Silk sheens flow down softly from the ceiling, past the back of the headboard. Romantic silk treatments adorn the overhead of the bed and the two arched windows above the French doors. This gives the bed a feeling of being in the clouds. A large chest lies at the foot of the bed holding extra blankets and pillows. A mission style table and chairs sit to the left of the French doors and bed. Two comfortable loveseats sit perpendicular to the gas fireplace that is against the left wall. A beautiful picture of two lovers hangs over the mantle. Another entertainment unit stretches against the south wall of the bedroom.

Going out of the bedroom into the hall are two sets of spiral staircases flanking each side of the penthouse. These bring you back down to the lower level. As you walk down the hall, you come upon the doors to the penthouse elevator on your right. Press P2 allows access to the second level of the penthouse. Continuing down the hall there are four more guestrooms on the left accompanied with their own full baths. To the right are the servants’ quarters, where Maggie, Gaston, and Gibeau live when they are with Tori twice a week. Or on weekends when they are needed. They have their own separate entrance that leads to the emergency stairs and the penthouse elevator. This allows them privacy when they are off duty. Going down the spiral staircase back on the first level, is a section that holds the large family entertainment room on the right south side. The room is complete with a ping-pong, pool, and air hockey table, a large screen T.V with a VCR, DVD, Playstation and Nintendo sets, a fully stocked bar and refrigerator, and a few vintage arcade games as well. In the corner of the room is a jukebox, which is updated regularly.
+++++++++

Across from the family entertainment room is Victoria’s office on the left of the hall. As you enter the room, the first thing you see is rich mahogany wood panels and a beautiful mahogany executive’s desk. Tori could look to her right and see the sunset from her desk. There are burgundy leather chairs facing it. Behind it a mahogany wall unit with file cabinets and bookshelves with glass doors. Against the eastern wall to the right is a burgundy leather couch with a coffee table in front of it. It had two side tables and brass lamps on each of them. On Tori’s desk are her computer and telephone. A fax/printer/copier sit in an area behind the desk.

Leaving Tori’s office and turning left, you found the library on the left side of the hall. The library has built in mahogany bookshelves around the whole room. A fireplace is built into the opposite wall as you went in. To the far right hand corner a door leads to the emergency exit in case the elevator is not working. In front of the fireplace are three large camel colored leather chairs and sofas. Two mahogany tables sit on each side of the larger couch in front of the fireplace. A large leather ottoman is placed in front of the leather couches so you could put up your feet and read in front of the fire. Behind the couch a long Mahogany conference table waits for researching projects or holding meetings.

Leaving the library and proceeding down the hall, you find yourself back in the living room.

Victoria has a fine collection of valuable paintings and sculptures throughout the penthouse. The pieces were hand chosen by her and her sister Jessica throughout the years. Jessica runs the arts and antiquities division of Hull enterprises in San Francisco.

Jessica Hull in a word was adorable. She has chestnut brown hair with blue green eyes like their father. Her personality is infectious. She’s a bit of a free spirit. When she comes into a room, one could not help but be drawn to her energy. She has a way of making people feel comfortable immediately. They feel like they know her and could trust her. This skill allowed her to persuade people to agree with almost anything Jessica would propose. She was always off on some adventure searching for the meaning of life and the perfect work of art. She has an incredible eye for beauty and is a very gifted artist/sculpture herself. Many pieces in the Hull homes are creations of the very gifted Jessica Hull. Victoria adored her sister. Even though Tori was a few years older than her, they had a very close loving relationship. Tori was a kind of mother figure to Jessica since their mother had passed away when they were very young. In the past few years, Jessica has made a name for herself and is well on her way to becoming a well respected figure in the art world. One thing that was always impressive about the Hull children, was how well balanced they all were. Due largely in part because of the importance their father placed on family.

During the tour, Brett and Tori discussed various pieces that were picked out for the penthouse. Every room melded into the other perfectly and yet each room created an atmosphere of its own. By the time the tour had ended, Tori was feeling more reassured that Brett truly approved of her home. A silent wish in Tori’s heart hoped that Brett could eventually see herself residing at the penthouse. But that was a long way away. They had a few steps yet to walk before they had that discussion.

“Well that’s it. I’m sure you must be famished and dead on your feet by now?” Tori asked.

“You know it’s been such an amazing 24 hours. You would think that I would be tired. But I’m really not. I’m on such an adrenaline high, that I’m afraid if I go to sleep all of this will have been a dream.”

Tori reached over and drew Brett to her. “Well,” kissing Brett on the forehead. “If you’re dreaming, then I’m dreaming… and I prefer this world so much more than the one I’m used to.” Bowing her head, she searched for Brett’s lips to reaffirm that in fact this was reality. The passion immediately began to rise to almost uncontrollable heights.

Pulling back, Tori spoke. “Honey…do you have any idea what you ignite in me.” Tori licked her lips to taste every drop of the kiss that they shared. “We have got to make our way to the kitchen soon or we’ll never make it at all.” Tori answered a bit breathlessly.

“Sure honey. But before we do….” Brett was still reeling from the kiss she received and wanted more. “I’m sorry. But I have got to have another one of those.” Without warning, she pulled Tori’s head towards her and set off another earth shaking kiss.

When the planets aligned again, Tori rushed out. Grabbing Brett’s hand, they made for the stairs. “That’s it woman! You had your chance at sustenance. Right now, you are gonna march your sexy self up those stairs with me.” Stopping abruptly, she turned to Brett with an evil grin on her face. “Just so you know, I refuse to be held accountable for my actions. I plead complete insanity when it comes to you.” Tori was about to continue towards the stairs but changed her mind. “Better yet…here.” Tori bent over and lifted Brett over her right shoulder this time turning in the direction of the elevator.

Brett was screaming. ” Tori, honey please let me down. I promise I’ll be good. I don’t want you to hurt yourself. Besides, I do believe you promised me an incredible omelet. I just want to have all my strength so I can explore you thoroughly, baby. So I can run my hands across your soft supple…ouch!” Tori slapped a very tempting derriere.

“If you do not cut that out… we won’t even make it to the bedroom, Miss Montgomery.” Tori warned.

Just as Tori was about to step onto the elevator a voice called out. “Victoria Amanda Hull…. What on God’s green earth do you think you are doing with that poor girl?” Tori stopped in her tracks while a very embarrassed Brett Montgomery looked up.
INSTALLMENT THREE
“Uh… Hi Maggie.” She wrenched her neck to look at a very concerned Maggie. “Long time no see “, Brett tried to say as nonchalantly as possible. She was plainly embarrassed by her position on Tori’s shoulder.

Maggie had been the Hull’s housekeeper and Nanny for almost 22 years. She had watched them all grow up. Besides being mother to her own son, Gibeau, she willingly accepted all the neighborhood kids as her adopted children. Always taking care of them and never afraid to let them know when they were out of line.

“Excuse me?” Maggie crouched down to get a better look at Victoria’s victim. “My word… Is that my little sweet pea, Brett? I cannot remember when it was that I last saw you. I have so missed you. How’s my little girl doing?” Maggie started to feel tears come to her eyes. She had always loved her kids. Little Brett especially. Brett was always such a kind-hearted girl. And because she had such a close relationship with her Victoria, it only endeared her even more.

“Maggie, I’ve been fine. I have missed you also. I was living in Michigan for a few years and now I’m living here in the city.” Brett was really starting to feel the blood rush to her face. As she hung precariously over Tori’s shoulder.

Victoria on the other hand had a goal in mind and refused to let go of her prey. She stood there hoping the two would finish soon. She was losing patience fast. “All my life I’ve been waiting for this opportunity…and now I have to listen to these two prattle on…’How’ve you been? What’s the weather like?'” Tori chattered on to herself, not realizing that Brett and Maggie had both stopped talking and now listening to her go on. Tori continued. “You’d think just once… Just once I could get a break?” She shook her head from side to side. “But no. They have to go on and on and…. Ah…. Whoops.” Realizing she was being watched. Tori looked down and swallowed with an audible gulp. “Did I say that out loud?” She knew she was in hot water.

Maggie took her place in front of Tori and put both hands on her hips. “And what do you…think you are doing, young woman? Prattling on, am I ? How many times have I had to put up with your nonsense throughout the years? I ask you?” Pointing her finger, she got right up into Tori’s face. “Why may I ask are you carrying this poor child like this?” Tori had faced countless enemies in the court and boardroom. However, she could never beat Maggie. Truth is she did not want to. Tori loved Maggie with all her heart. Maggie had always tried to give Tori the kind of guidance that she had missed by not having her own mother with her. Although Tori’s mother could never truly be replaced, Maggie always did whatever she could. By the only way she knew how: giving Tori a love she could always count on.

“Well, you see…uhm…. It’s like this…” as Tori attempted to pull an answer out of thin air.

“Yes Victoria. This should be very good.” Maggie replied smugly.

“We went dancing last night. Ah… ah…yeah. Brett was looking a little pale. You know some people can’t hold their liquor well.” Brett took that moment to slap a very convenient backside. “Ouch…I know it’s hard Brett. You being a bit small and vertically challenged. You can’t drink as much as the rest of us.” Hearing Brett sigh in frustration, Tori continued. “So I told her she could sleep here. In case she got ill.” Tori could hear Brett snickering. “When we got here, she said she was feeling a little weak…faint even…” Nodding her head hoping her explanation was gonna fly. “So being the kind person that I am….I volunteered my services to get her to safety.” Smiling, feeling quite proud of herself. “So you see I’m really quite a hero when you think about it.”

“I see…” Maggie started. “Well. Since you are in such a helpful mood, I’m sure you would be more than happy to carry your charge into that kitchen over there. So I can get a proper meal into her. We wouldn’t want anything else to happen to her while she’s under your care… Now would we?” Maggie waited for the slightest bit of argument. Upon not receiving any she continued, “…That’s what I thought.” Turning, Maggie walked toward the kitchen without another word. When Maggie was far enough away, a smile made its way to her face. She had been praying that Victoria would find love. If this morning was anything to go by, her prayers were finally answered.

Tori just stood there and sighed. “Well Brett,” looking back. “I hope you’re satisfied. Cause now, we won’t be able to get away ’til way past noon.” Resigned to her fate, she made her way to the kitchen with an amused Brett still in tow.

Brett laughed in disbelief. “Tori…it doesn’t take that long to have breakfast. Come on?” Suddenly wishing she had not teased Tori so much when she didn’t receive an answer… It wouldn’t take that long, would it? At that moment her over excited libido announced it’s presence in full force. Sometimes the best-laid plans can really back fire. Brett sighed in resignation to her fate.

******

Tori wasn’t exaggerating. It was now 1:30 and they were still seated at the table in the kitchen. Gibeau, Maggie’s son and Gaston, her husband had joined them. They were also a part of the Hull household staff for close to 22 years. Gibeau had grown up with the rest of the kids. Being the eldest of the children at the time, he was given the duty of watching over all of them. He was like the eldest brother to the gang of thirteen. Gibeau was a licensed pilot and driver and now responsible for getting Tori and her family wherever they needed to be.

They had spent the last few hours catching up reminiscing about the “good ol’ days”. But two hours later, Tori was definitely getting a little rough around the edges, losing steam minute by minute. Finally unable to keep her eyes open anymore, Tori had to excuse herself.

“Well everyone. I’m sorry to have to leave this reunion but I really need to get some sleep”, Tori stated in exhaustion.

“Oh yes, of course dear. Here we are chatting away and the two of you haven’t even been to bed yet.” Maggie hadn’t realized how true her statement was on both accounts. “Listen? Why don’t you two head up and I’ll prepare something nice for you to have when you roll out of bed.” Maggie said with affection.

“Thanks Maggie. That would be great.” Tori bent down and planted a kiss on Maggie’s forehead. She then reached for Brett’s hand to help her up. “Maybe we’ll see you all later.” Tori gave them a wink. All eyes met knowing that they probably wouldn’t see each other for the rest of the day….much less the entire weekend.

Tori and Brett walked up the stairs towards the master bedroom and a sudden shyness came over them. They both knew what they wanted but neither knew how to breach the subject.

Tori was the first to speak. “Listen Brett…. I know earlier you and I were playfully headed in this direction. Now that you’ve had some time to think about it, maybe you would feel more comfortable sleeping in one of the guest rooms? I’ve waited a long time to express how I feel for you and we can take as long as you want to move to the next level. I’m in no rush. Just being able to spend time with you like we have in the past few hours is enough for me.” Tori wanted to alleviate any pressure that Brett may or may not be feeling.

Brett was so touched by how giving Tori was when it came to her. “Tori, I love how you always take my feelings into consideration. I don’t think I’ve known anyone who made me feel as special as you do. But to be honest I’m in a bit of a quandary. On one hand, I really don’t want to be away from you. On the other, I’m really tired and I don’t think I could sleep with you in such close proximity. I honestly want to be fully rested when and if you and I take our relationship to the next level. Do you think it’s possible for us to just sleep, you know like when we were kids and had a sleep over?”

Tori had to laugh at the shy inquisitive look that Brett was giving her. “Honey, the way I feel right now I don’t think I’d be much good to you even if you wanted to move this to the next level.” Then giving Brett a cocky smile, she recanted her statement. “Ah…But don’t get me wrong. I’m always willing to give it a ‘good ole college try’ though. I do have a reputation to keep you know.” Smirking at the tongue in cheek look that Brett was giving her while, she shook her head from side to side.

“Don’t worry heartbreaker. Your reputation is safe with me.” Brett patted Tori gently on the chest. She then took Tori’s hand and climbed the rest of the stairs entering Tori’s bedroom.

Brett sat on the bed and Tori went to one of the dressers pulling out a pair of pajama bottoms and a cut off t-shirt for her, a green silk sleep shirt for Brett. She went into the linen closet in the bathroom and pulled out a fresh towel, washcloth, and toothbrush. Coming back into the bedroom, she went over to the bed and handed the items to Brett. “Sweetie…Why don’t you go wash up first while I go and check my service for any messages.”

Brett got up and kissed Tori on the cheek. “Thanks, I’ll only be a minute.” Taking the items, she headed for the bathroom.
INSTALLMENT FOUR
Tori had gone to her office and retrieved her messages. One message in particular from her brother, Ian, needed to be returned. He was concerned that she had left the office early on Friday and wanted to make sure she was okay. It was so unlike her. He also wanted to remind her of the important contract negotiation with Brighton and Moore, they had scheduled on Monday. He thought it would be a good idea if they could touch base and talk strategy before the meeting.

After returning the call to her brother and setting up a time on Sunday evening to meet, she was about to head back to the bedroom when an idea came to her. An hour later and plans made, she was finally able to go back to the bedroom. The sight she found when she entered the room touched her heart. In her bed lay a beautiful Brett curled up in a ball with her hand tucked under her chin. Tori went over to the bed and gently moved blond strands that had fallen onto Brett’s closed eyes. Bending down she quietly observed Brett’s steady soft breathing and the flutter of her beautiful eyelids. The sight reminded her of when Brett used to sleep over when they were younger. All the memories of those days came rushing back to her and a tear came to her eye. I could look at this face forever and still it would never be enough. Leaning over, she kissed Brett on the forehead. You will always be my little one. A smile of contentment graced Brett’s face and Tori hoped that she would be able to give Brett a lifetime of things to smile about. With a happy heart she got up and went to the bathroom to wash up and change.

Tori had no sooner gotten into bed, when a sleeping Brett Montgomery took her position on Tori’s available shoulder and tightly wrapped her arms and legs around her. Tori pulled Brett close to her and rested her chin on top of Brett’s head. A smile of absolute bliss came to Tori’s face as she inhaled the sweet smell of Brett’s apple blossom scented shampoo. Ah, this is what I’ve waited sixteen years to feel. With that, she closed her eyes and sleep quickly came.

******************************************************

A young Tori was chasing an even younger Brett down a quiet beach. The waves were crashing against shell-covered rocks and the seagulls patiently hovered on warm sea scented air. The sun was setting upon carefully crafted sandcastles that dotted the beach. The two playmates had worked diligently all day constructing them. Now they were taking the sandcastles down with their antics. Tori finally closed in on her prey taking Brett gently down upon the sand created village.

“Tell me?!” Tori demanded as she tickled Brett unmercifully.

“No…No I won’t.” Brett loved to play this game with Tori. They would see who would hold out the longest but eventually one would give in.

“Come on. I’ll give you anything you want? Just say it!” They had been friends since Brett was an infant and Tori knew every one of Brett’s ticklish spots.

“No…I won’t say it even if you gave me all the tea in China.” Brett shot back laughing so hard she was going to pee her pants.

“Of course you wouldn’t. You don’t drink tea so that wouldn’t be a good bribe.” Tori continued her assault on Brett’s ribs eliciting a scream that would shatter glass.

“How ’bout I tell you if you smell my feet.” Brett tried to lift her feet to Tori’s face but couldn’t because Tori was sitting on her legs.

“Ew…You know Brett you are so gross. Absolutely not. But I will tickle them.” Tori reached behind and attacked one of Brett’s feet, keeping Brett in place by the sheer weight of her. This happened to be one of Brett’s worst ticklish spots.

“Okay…I wouldn’t tell you for all the ice cream in the world.” Brett was now close to embarrassing herself. But she refused to give in to Tori.

“Why that is convincing. The way you put that stuff away. I almost believe you.” Tori almost ceased her tickling but not quite.

“Okay…Okay…Stop.” Brett croaked out.

“So you’re gonna tell me?” Tori could almost smell victory, literally.

“No, I just tricked you into giving me a breather.” Pushing Tori off with all the power her little body could muster, Brett got up laughing and ran away again. This time Tori did not follow.

Confused Brett came back. “Hey, what’s wrong?” A little concerned that her friend was upset.

“Why won’t you say it? Is it really so hard?” A confused fourteen-year-old Tori pouted. She didn’t even know why she was feeling so sad. But lately her feelings for Brett got so intense, she wasn’t sure how to handle them.

Brett knelt down beside Tori and took her hand. ” Did I hurt you when I pushed you?”

Tori moved her head from side to side. Looking down, she could feel the tears start to come.

Brett squatted down to try and get a better look at Tori’s face. “What is it then? You know I was just playing?” The tears started to fill her own eyes. She hated to see Tori upset. “You know I won’t say it for tea or ice cream. But I’ll say it for you. I’d do anything for you. You know that. Please don’t cry. I’ll say anything if you want me to..” Tori looked at Brett with a tear-streaked face and nodded her head. “You Victoria Amanda Hull are the best friend I’ve ever had and you always will be. I love you. Now come on…Please stop crying. You know it hurts me when you hurt.”

A beautiful smile came to Tori’s face as she gave her best friend a huge hug. This was the beginning of a very confusing time in Victoria’s life. She seemed to constantly need reassurance that the bond between her and Brett would never be broken. However, in her heart she knew it would be. ‘Everything good always goes away’, Tori thought remembering her mother’s passing. It wasn’t long after that day on the beach, that she decided to stay away from Brett. Her feelings for Brett were escalating. Afraid that her feelings for her little Brett would hurt or scare her someday, Tori took it upon herself to protect Brett from the monster that Tori felt she was becoming.

*****

Slowly leaving her dream state and coming into consciousness, Tori woke to the most beautiful smiling green eyes she had ever seen. ‘How could I have possibly walked away from this so long ago’, Tori thought, very disturbed from her dream. The sun was now setting and an orange glow was cast around Brett’s beautiful face. Reaching out Tori drew Brett to her. She needed to feel Brett surround her, smell her perfume, see her beautiful smile, taste her soft skin, and hear her voice. She deepened the kiss and felt Brett’s hands begin to roam. The two frantically tried to possess one another and every inch of exposed skin rubbed against each other creating an intense heat. Needing more contact Tori pulled away to look into Brett’s passion filled eyes. Her senses were on overload as the passion that she felt for Brett was about to surge out of control.

“I want you Brett. I don’t think I’ll be able to stop if we continue.” Tori stated with her last bit of restraint.

“Tori….please don’t stop. Not now…Not ever…” Brett had been watching Tori sleep. She could not believe that they were together after being apart so many years. She had been tracing the outline of Tori’s brow working her way over a narrow nose and perfectly shaped lips, memorizing every contour, as the woman that she loved lay beside her. Brett rolled over and pulled Tori on top of her. Kissing her with such desire that there was no mistaking what she had in mind.

Tori’s mouth moved to Brett’s neck and tasted every delicious nuance of Brett’s pulse point. Sliding her long legs between smaller ones, she heard the seductive whimpers of a very aroused Brett.

Brett desperately groped at the offending clothes that kept her from her goal. She needed Tori, as she needed the elements. She had dreamt of this very moment so many times in her life that its reality was leaving her breathless. The intoxicating dance of seducing and being seduced was such a heady feeling. She felt like every cell in her body would combust from the heat of it.

Taking the hem of Tori’s t-shirt Brett ripped it off and threw it across the room with such force Tori was sure that it would be found on the other side of the Penthouse. “Tori…please… I need you…”, desperately trying to loosen the tie on Tori’s pajama pants but not getting very far.

Why is it when you need to get these pajamas off in a hurry? The ties always seemed to be triple knotted. Tori thought in frustration.

Having just about enough, she got off the bed to get the pajama bottoms off. She skipped around on one leg, almost falling flat on her butt and pulled at the cuff of her pants.

Brett sighed in impatience. “Tori…. please?”

“Baby, I’m doing the best that I can. Forgive me, but the part of my brain that’s responsible for coordination just shut down when my libido kicked in.” Finally free of her restraints, Tori tried to gain some composure. Climbing back on the bed, she resumed her position on top of Brett. “Now love… Where were we?” Brett motioned to her with her finger to come closer and gave Tori a come-hither look.

Smiling, Tori slid up and captured Brett’s enticing lips. She ran her hand down the length of Brett’s body, cupping a perfectly shaped buttock, and then continued, running her hand down a strong yet supple thigh. Her passion rose even higher from the heat she felt off Brett’s smooth skin. Grasping the back of Brett’s knee, Tori adjusted her own thigh closer to Brett’s center. Together they slowly established a sensual rhythm. Tori moved away from the wet warmth of Brett’s lips and teased a hardened nipple through Brett’s silken nightshirt.

Running her hands through Tori’s thick tresses, she urged Tori’s mouth to engulf her swollen breast. “Oh yeah…that’s it…Oh Tori you make me feel so good. Oh yeah take it in…mmm.”

Tori reached under Brett’s nightshirt with her left hand and captured Brett’s right nipple between her fingertips. Twirling it between them and running her thumb across it with increasing pressure. She then moved her mouth to the other nipple, not wanting the left one to feel left out. After teasing the nipples to their limit, Tori stopped long enough to help ease the nightshirt over Brett’s head. Once Tori had a clear view of Brett’s soft creamy skin, she gazed upon Brett’s beauty. “Oh Brett you are magnificent! In all my years of dreaming of this moment, nothing could ever come close to the reality of all that you are.”
Looking down past a perfectly sculpted abdomen, Tori’s eyes stopped at the green silk thong Brett had on. “Oh baby, thank you.” Fingering the edge of the panties and grazing her finger across a very sexy hip bone, “You are so beautiful…Just beautiful.” Tori slowly slid down Brett’s body. The sight of Brett in her thong was too tempting to resist. Tracing a path across each side of Brett’s ribs, she could feel Brett’s body respond against her mouth. Looking up, she was met with eyes that held such need and desire that all Tori wanted to do was satisfy. Licking and nipping a path down the center of Brett’s body, she stopped at Brett’s navel and lovingly explored its dip.

Tori looked up again at Brett. “Honey, do you like how I make you feel? You don’t know how many nights I’ve spent thinking about you, dreaming about you. Tonight I want to show you everything I’ve ever wanted to share with you and more.” Tori’s eyes filled with passion, love, and tears of joy. All her dreams were finally coming true.

Brett sensually licked her lips and nodded. Tori felt Brett’s pelvis move against her chest revealing her arousal. Resuming her exploration of Brett’s body she adjusted Brett’s legs over her shoulders and rubbed her nose across silk covered blond curls. The scent of her was so erotic that Tori just wanted to bath in it. “Oh baby, what you do to me. Everything I am is drawn to you. I just want to devour you.”

Brett had never felt anything like this before. Her whole being was on fire. She just wanted Tori to take her. She wanted Tori to command her, to own her, to leave every part of her quivering in satisfaction. Grasping at Tori’s head, she pulled her closer to her center. “Tori…. take me. Take all that I have to offer. I’m yours, honey. Every ounce, every fiber of my being was meant for you…only you. We were meant for this. Show me Tori…. show me how much you love me.”

Tori lifted her head and got into a kneeling position. Holding both sides of Brett’s thong, she slowly removed it. All the while running fingers down Brett’s heat sensitive legs. Brett arched her lower body up to give Tori better access and then lowered it back down. Brett brought her knees up and spreading her legs wide giving Tori a perfect view of her sex drenched center.

Tori had spent years trying to fight the fantasies she had of Brett. Unbelievably, Brett was offering her everything she had ever wanted. It was like a drought that had lasted a thousand years and was now over. Tear-filled blue eyes looked up to meet Brett’s green ones as the reality of the moment hit Tori squarely in the heart. “I love you. I want to spend forever showing you just how much. I offer you all that I am and all I’ll ever want to be.”

Brett took in the look of love on Tori’s face and returned a look that conveyed every bit of love she felt for Tori. “I love you Tori. In all my dreams and in all my hopes, it has always been you that I shared them with; I have and always will be yours. Take me Tori. Take what has always been yours…just yours.”

Tori reached down and dipped the tip of her finger down the swollen lips of Brett’s creamy center. Bringing her glistening finger to her lips, Tori tasted Brett’s ambrosia. “You taste so sweet.” Tori looked into Brett’s eyes. “I just want to feast on you forever.” Seeing nothing but love and desire in Brett’s eyes, Tori lifted one of Brett’s legs. She planted tender kisses along the length of it, slowly working her way down the inside of Brett’s thigh and eventually resuming her position between her legs.

Brett felt Tori’s mouth work it’s magic. After a thorough exploration, she could feel Tori’s tongue beg for entrance to her center. Opening ever wider, she felt long powerful fingers replace a very skilled tongue at her entrance. The walls of her throbbing center easily allowed passage. Like a good hostess, Brett offered all that she had.

Tori rhythmically plunged and licked Brett’s center and swollen nub like a fine tuned instrument. Brett joined in the dance, swaying her hips to the rhythm Tori created and added to the music with her own percussive tones. Brett’s need for Tori increased and she ran her hands through Tori’s thick, luscious hair. “Tori? Honey I need to taste you too.” Pausing Tori looked up and turned giving Brett access to her center. Brett slid Tori’s panties off her legs and claimed all that she had to offer. Resuming the dance, two hearts synchronized to the primal beat that the two lovers shared in time. Emotions rose higher, ever higher as the movement of their spirits crescendo to an emotionally explosive climax bonding two souls in a union that took half their lifetime to accomplish.
INSTALLMENT FIVE
Breathless and sweaty but fully sated for now, Brett and Tori lay together spent by hours of sensual discovery. Brett was softly drawing circles on the back of Tori’s shoulder with her fingers while Tori sleepily rested across Brett’s chest.

“Tori?”

“Hmm?” She replied in a blissful haze.

“Tell me?” Brett asked wondering if Tori would remember.

“Tell you what, Baby?” Not quite sure what Brett was asking.

“You know? Tell me?” Brett said emphatically.

Lifting her head, Tori looked into Brett’s eyes. She couldn’t possibly be referring to that dream I had this afternoon of us on the beach. Could she? “What will you give me if I do?” She gave Brett a coy smile.

“I’ll give you all the tea in China.” Brett said remembering the game she used to play with her.

“Nope. I’m a diehard coffee drinker now.” Tori shot back.

“Uhm…How ’bout all the ice cream in the world?” Brett moved her eyebrows up and down.

“Nah, ah…I’m not quite the sucker for that bit of temptation…. unlike someone who shall remain nameless. You’ve got to give me something better.” Tori snickered and snuggled even closer loving the feeling of the warmth that was between them.

“Brat…” Lightly slapping Tori on the shoulder. “Okay. Why don’t you tell me what you want and I’ll see what I can do?” Brett counter offered, ever the bargainer.

Tori looked up and thought hard about what she wanted. “Okay… You give me you and I’ll spend a lifetime telling you anything you want to hear.” Tori gave Brett a sweet look of affection and stretched up to give Brett a sensuous kiss.

“Mmm…Tori, you have me. You’ve always had me.” Brett paused for a minute and wondered why a memory of their childhood kept flashing through her head. “Do you remember that day on the beach? When you asked me to tell you that you were my best friend and always would be?” She searched Tori’s eyes for recognition.

“Yeah, I do. As a matter of fact, that’s what I was dreaming about this afternoon.” Tori looked at Brett, wondering if their connection was so strong that they could read each other’s thoughts.

“How do you suppose two people that obviously cared deeply for one another could drift so far apart? I used to remember that day and wonder what I did to lose you. It hurt so bad to think I had lost my best friend. I would do anything not to feel that way again. I don’t think I’d survive it if I did.” Brett’s eyes started to fill with tears. She had felt so much pain when she lost Tori. All of it seemed to be rushing back at her in waves.

Tori sat up from her position so she could look into Brett’s eyes. “Oh sweetie, I’m sorry. At the time, I really thought I was doing the best thing for you. I didn’t mean to put you through all that. That’s exactly what I didn’t want to happen.” Tori reached over to wrap Brett in an embrace. Surprisingly, Brett pulled away. The conversation was quickly getting away from Tori and she truly didn’t understand what had brought it on.

“No, you were wrong.” Brett needing space suddenly got up and wrapped a throw blanket around her naked body. “Why is it people always take it upon themselves to know what’s best for me? I trusted you more then anyone, Tori. Why? Why did you take all the decisions out of my hands?” Brett’s hands were shaking as she ran them through her hair in frustration. “Maybe if you had told me how you felt, I wouldn’t have had to suffer like I did. When you left, you left me vulnerable to so much.”

Years of pent up anger and disappointment bubbled over. Feelings that Brett thought were resolved were surfacing uncontrollably. “I know we were young, but you always told me you’d be there. You lied.” Brett’s tear filled eyes pinned Tori in her place. “You said we’d always be friends. I meant every word when I told you the same.” Brett spat out. “Friends don’t leave friends when the going gets tough. But you did.” Brett pointed a finger at Tori. “Where were you when I was so lonely, that the only thing I could turn to was my writing? Where were you when my lack of self-esteem, told me the only person that would ever want me was some mentally ill woman, who couldn’t love herself much less me.”

Tears were flowing now mixed with anger. ” You weren’t there when she kept coming at me, even after I begged her to stop. You weren’t there when I lay in a hospital bed fighting for my life or when I prayed for the pain to stop as I fought my way back in therapy. You weren’t there, Tori. You weren’t there. Damn you. You weren’t there….”

Tori ran to Brett but was stopped by Brett’s beating fists against her chest. Brett wanted Tori to feel the pain that she was feeling. Breaking down, Brett collapsed to her knees and curled up in a fragile ball crying on the floor uncontrollably taking Tori with her.

Tori was stunned as she was finally able to capture Brett’s wrists to stop their assault. Tears escaped her eyes as she heard Brett’s words. Every plea, every accusation stabbed her in the heart and slapped her in the face. She didn’t want things to be this way. At first, she thought the Brett had regretted them being together. That she decided she didn’t want to work things out after all.

However, when Brett started screaming about someone hurting her, that got Tori’s full attention. What is she talking about? Who hurt her? What is this about a hospital? Oh God, what have I done? At first, she thought it was best if she left. But that had never accomplished anything. Tori remembered Brett telling her earlier that they both had wounds that needed healing. She asked me to fight for this and that is exactly what I’m going to do. Kneeling beside Brett, she put her arms around Brett’s shoulders and behind her knees. She lifted Brett on to her lap. She needed to understand what Brett was going through.

“Please baby. Tell me what’s going on. Who hurt you? I’m really confused here and the thoughts that are going through my head are really scaring me.” Panic started to settle in when Brett didn’t respond.

“I know I haven’t been there for you. But I’m here now. I promise I’m never going to leave you, ever again.” Tori lay soft kisses on Brett’s head rocking her ever so slowly to coax Brett back to her.

“You’re right. I should have told you back then how I felt. But we were so young”, Tori started. “I was scared and I didn’t understand the feelings I was having. I’m not trying to make excuses, but how could a fourteen-year-old understand what infatuation and love meant? Nobody ever explained the different kinds of relationships there were in the world. It wasn’t until I left for school that I found out I wasn’t the only person in the world that could feel this way about someone of the same sex.”

Tori wiped away the tears that continued to fall down Brett’s face. “If there was any other way I could have handled the situation better, believe me, honey, I would have done it. It ripped me apart to not have you in my life…..to not share my feelings with you. But when I thought about the look I would find in your eyes if I slipped and kissed you or the look of horror when I couldn’t stop touching you, I just couldn’t stand to see you look at me with disgust or hatred when you found out my love for you ran deeper than friendship. I was the older one. I was the one who needed to act responsibly. You were so young, so innocent. We both were. I was thinking as a fourteen year old, not a rational adult. Please baby. Please don’t shut me out. I need you, honey. Please. I love you so very much.” Tori tightened her hold around Brett, desperate to feel their connection. “After everything we’ve just shared, there is no way I could go on without it. Not now.” Tori’s heart was breaking and tears flowed down her face. As she thought about the pain she had caused Brett, she would spend the rest of her life erasing every ounce of it if she had to.

Brett stayed quiet for a long time. While Tori lay kisses of reassurance on her forehead, Tori rocked Brett in her arms until she felt her relax.

All the while Brett searched through her mind for an answer to why she had chosen that moment to lay into Tori. Tori’s reasons were valid. There was no one to blame. But Brett hated when people made decisions for her. They took away her fundamental right to choose her own destiny. Maybe for the first time, Brett truly understood what she had been missing all those years. What it felt like to be truly loved. Her first experience should have been beautiful. Instead it was so one sided.

When Tori made love to her, it felt pure, honest, and so instinctively right. It made her feel so cherished and yet, it made her question everything she had done and had been done to her these past years. So much wasted time and so much hurt endured. Maybe this was the last door that needed to be closed. So that she and Tori could truly build a life together. Build a life that did not have the haunting memories of an unfilled love. Maybe it took the other half of her soul to help heal this last bit of hurt.

“It was Jenna who hurt me.” Brett said as she broke the silence. Her voice cracking as she tried to choke back the tears that trailed down her face, leaving a streak of sadness in its path.

Tori reached down and cupped Brett’s cheek. She wiped away the tears as they fell with her thumb. She bent down and locked Brett’s eyes to her own. “Tell me. Tell me everything. So you’ll never have to carry this pain alone again. Not ever again.”

Brett proceeded to tell Tori about the details that led to her and Jenna’s demise. Much to Tori’s credit, she let Brett tell her story.

Though it was tearing her apart inside, she knew that Brett needed to get this out. So the healing process could finally come full circle. She wanted nothing more than to take vengeance on Jenna. For taking away the innocence that was so intrinsically a part of Brett. However, if she thought about it, she put the ball in motion. Brett was such a forgiving soul. Where others would have just seen Jenna as an unforgivable monster, Brett saw her as a victim of circumstance. Instead of crossing Jenna off as a lost cause, she did what she could to make sure Jenna got the help that she needed.

Listening to Brett tell her story. Tori for the first time really saw Brett for the woman that she was. This was not the child of her youth or the fantasy in her head. This was a beautiful, intelligent, compassionate woman. Tori not only loved Brett, but fell deep in love with her that night. Her whole being was now infused with Brett’s and their souls would never feel the loneliness of separation again.

Though what they endured while they were apart was very painful, each knew that in some way their separation made them stronger. Some say that in order to realize your true being, you must see what you are not in order to see what you are. In this case, Brett and Tori needed to see whom they were apart in order to know what they were together. Light and dark can not exist without the other. Nor can joy or pain. After talking for hours and making love several times to seal their commitment, the two slept in peaceful bliss waiting for the sun to greet the moon. Both knowing that the lives they would experience together would be a beautiful counterpoint of all that they had both grown to be.
INSTALLMENT SIX
Tori woke from the most restful sleep she had had in years. Looking down, she held in her arms the most precious person in the world to her. Brett nestled tightly against her with the most angelic look on her face. Tori laughed to herself remembering the night they shared. “Well maybe not so angelic. But certainly blissful. I do so love you Brett.” She snuggled even closer lost in the warmth that was shared between them. She was interrupted from her quiet indulgence by a soft knock on the door. Looking over at the clock on her nightstand, a smile came to her face. Slowly, she slid her body out from under Brett trying not to wake her. Truth told, Brett was a very heavy sleeper and wouldn’t wake up for awhile. At least that’s what Tori had remembered. To Tori’s surprise, a little whimper came from her sleeping angel.

“Shh…It’s okay honey…I’m just going to the bathroom…It’s still very early.” Tori bent down and laid a sweet kiss on Brett’s check. She lingered there for a moment to enjoy the sweet aroma that was all Brett.

Without any further protest, Brett slid further over to Tori’s side of the bed trying to capture any body heat that Tori had left behind.

Tori’s smile not only covered her face but filled her eyes as well. Seeing Brett in her bed made her feel like she had finally done something right. All the lonely nights spent trying to forget her need for Brett had all been chased away. The only cure for what ailed her was truly going to the source of all she desired and loved. Time sometimes had a way of painting things better in the imagination than they were in reality. In this case, time had actually dulled the true perfection of what she shared with Brett. What they shared now was even better than anything Tori had remembered. Last night she vowed that never again would a moment pass that was not shared with her life, her love, and her soul; Brett.

Walking over to her closet, she grabbed a long crème satin negligee. Tying it tightly around her sleek body, she went to the bathroom. After brushing her teeth and splashing some cold water on her face, she smiled at her reflection. “So this is what happiness looks like. It looks good on you Tori girl… It definitely looks good on you.” Gone were the dark circles and faint worry lines around her eyes. “You know if I could bottle this, I could make a fortune. But I’m not about to share my Brett with anyone.” Smiling like a love struck teenager, she went to open the door of her bedroom. Standing at the door was a very patient and jovial Maggie.

Tori brought her finger to her mouth to motion Maggie to be quiet. Closing the door to the bedroom, she quietly led Maggie down the hall a ways so Brett wouldn’t hear them.

When they finally stopped, Maggie quickly turned around and captured Victoria in a bone-crushing embrace.

“Well Tori I truly don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of you than this moment. I’ve watched you running around absolutely clueless for so long that I was beginning to think it was a permanent condition.” Maggie stepped back and gave Tori a very satisfied smile.

“Well gee… Mags… thanks for that …I think.” Tori was a little embarrassed. Yet, she was so happy that she didn’t care if the whole world knew it.

” You’re very contented this morning, aren’t you? I have always known that you and my sweet pea Brett had a special bond. Your mother would be very proud. She always adored Brett. She thought Brett was such a special little girl and would make someone very happy someday. ‘A heart of an angel and the face of a cherub. One day she’ll capture someone’s heart and they’ll feel very special indeed.’ Dominique would always say. I wonder if she knew that person would be you, Tori. I know wherever she is, she’s watching and smiling down on you.”

Tears filled Victoria’s eyes as she thought about what Maggie had said. “You know Maggie? I would not be a bit surprised if she had a hand in this. I truly have never known such joy. It’s the most incredible feeling in the world.”

Maggie gave Tori another hug. “I know dear. I know. Well you little romantic, Monsieur Chartraneau is waiting for you, as well as a few deliveries downstairs. I don’t know how you were able to arrange all of this. But I guess that’s why you’re the future CEO of Hull Enterprises. Huh?” With a wink, they made their way to the kitchen.

**************************************************

Brett awoke to a barrage of scents that beckoned her out of her peaceful sleep. Still not fully conscious she felt a soft coolness rub across her cheek. The scent was definitely familiar. “Hmm… roses. Definitely roses.” A smile was slowly forming as green eyes fluttered open. The face that lay before her was one she could spend a lifetime waking up to. They had had an emotion-filled night but after all was said and done; they came out of it even stronger.

Tori had a peach and white variegated long stem rose in her hand. She was running the delicate flower across equally delicate and fragrant skin. Lowering her head, she captured soft inviting lips. They lost themselves in a moment that could possess them forever. The kiss finally came to an end when the fire ignited was about to burn out of control. Not wanting to be distracted from her course, Tori reluctantly broke away.

“Good morning my love…Did you sleep well?” Tori inquired. Kissing the rose bud, she offered the blossom to Brett.

“Mmm…yeah.” Brett replied stretching out like a cat. “I don’t think I’ve slept this happily or soundly in years.” Brett accepted the bud and brought it to her nose. Enjoying the fragrance and amazed at the beauty of this perfectly shaped flower. “Oh Tori, this is wonderful. I have never seen a more perfect rose. I’m positive I’ve never seen this variety before.” Her heart warmed with the token of affection that Tori offered her.

“Well there’s more where that came from, sweetie.” Tori made a show of the room and watched as Brett’s eyes widened in amazement. In front of her were dozens and dozens of roses. Every shade and variety lay before her. Tears threatened again. Brett sat up, turned and threw herself on top of Tori. She showered Tori with an endless bombardment of kisses.

“Oh baby… Thank you … Thank you. Thank you Honey… No one has ever done anything like this for me before.” Brett kissed Tori again. This time exploring her mouth with a slow wanton need.

Knowing that this was soon going to reach a point of no return, Tori reached deep inside to gain some control.

“Love, I really want to lose myself in you. But I’ve got another surprise and I’m afraid it won’t keep.” Tori sat up bringing Brett with her. Propping up the large pillows against the headboard, she motioned Brett to take her place amongst the billowy comfort she created. Leaving Brett on the bed, she went to the balcony outside the bedroom and rolled in a sumptuous feast that was straight out of a culinary magazine.

Tori made a show of playing the perfect maitre d’. With a linen cloth thrown over her left forearm and an inviting smile, she proceeded.

“Mademoiselle…..this morning I have arranged for you, a meal that is suitable for the perfection that you are.” She gave Brett a wink and watched as Brett eyes sparkled with excitement.

“First of all, I had the roses flown in for you from the Dutch Netherlands. So fresh are they, that the dew of the morning still lay on their petals. Secondly, I had wild berries and tree ripened oranges delivered to our door from the California State.”

” Of course, none of this would be complete without the renowned Chef Louis Chartraneau. He has graciously prepared for you, a mouth-watering feast. Croissants so light and flaky you would swear they melted upon contact with your palate. Crepes so thin, yet exploding with flavor. Believe me when I say, you have never tasted the likes of it.” Tori pointed to a covered dish. She lifted the cover to reveal the crepes she described. “Inside the crepes is a mouth watering wild berry compote that is a perfect balance between tart and sweet.” Replacing the cover, she went to the other side of the cart and presented another dish.

“From a farm in Canada, I have flown in the most amazingly cured Canadian bacon, fresh laid eggs, and the creamiest freshly churned butter you have ever tasted. With these ingredients, Chef Louis has created an Eggs Benedict that would turn even you into a traitor.” Tori bent down and tapped Brett on the nose, then stole a quick kiss eliciting a happy squeak from her companion. Tori smiled and gave Brett a quick wink.

Continuing on she returned to her presentation. “In this pitcher, you’ll find fresh squeezed orange juice with just the right amount of pulp. Once you have sipped of the juice from these gold rimmed flute glasses from Austria, my dear, you will swear that the juice of a hundred oranges somehow managed to be contained in just one glass.”

Reaching under the table, Tori pulled out a breakfast tray. Going towards the bed, she unfolded a linen napkin and deftly laid it on Brett’s lap. Unfolding the breakfast tray, Tori placed it in front of Brett. When she was finished, she stopped to steal another kiss. Tori’s heart spilled over with joy. The happiness she saw reflected on Brett’s face and eyes was worth every bit of the effort. Tori pledged to make a lifetime of such efforts to fill her and Brett’s days. “Oh what a life it is going to be.” Tori thought as she arranged a plate for her and Brett to share and filled a flute glass with juice. She turned on the CD player and turned on Haydn’s “Water Music.” Taking her place beside Brett, they spent the next few hours savoring every morsel. Finding new and inventive ways to enjoy Hollandaise sauce, wild berry compote and freshly squeezed orange juice. They were sure it would take days to extract the scent of oranges from their skin maybe even weeks. But what a lovely glow they would have in the mean time.
INSTALLMENT SEVEN
It was now 11:00 a.m. and the two lovers were immersed in a huge tub filled with bubbles and scents that wafted across a beautiful alabaster bathroom. Candles were lit everywhere as lilting laughter and soft words of affection were heard floating about on this lazy Sunday morning.

Tori nuzzled Brett’s neck as she wrapped her arms and legs around her. “Happy?” Tori asked nibbling on a very tasty earlobe.

“Oh yeah…decadently so…” Turning so she could face Tori, she continued. “You know you’ve spoiled me rotten don’t you?”

“Mmm… I hope so… That was my intention after all.” Tori caressed sweet lips with her own. “Honey….you taste so sweet. I could spend all day with you in my arms.” Tori took the sponge and slowly squeezed it allowing the water to drip tantalizingly over Brett’s very aroused left nipple. Watching as Brett looked on in arousal, quiet whimpers escaped both of their mouths as Brett slide back even closer against her lover behind her.

“Mmm…So good…Oh shoot…shoot … shoot!!!” Brett sat up in the tub in alarm.

“Honey what’s wrong? What’s going on?” Tori was startled and terribly confused, again. Brett was starting to wreak havoc with her emotions. Not knowing when the little writer would startle her from moment to moment. Tori was beginning to think that Brett was enjoying scaring the crap out of her.

“Oh Tori, I’m sorry. It’s just that with everything that’s happened, I forgot to call Lauren yesterday. We’re supposed to be at mom and dad’s this afternoon. I have to give her a call. She must be laying an egg by now.” Getting up she dried off and wrapped the towel around her leaving a very perplexed and highly aroused Tori behind in a now lonely and cooling tub.

When Tori was dried off and dressed, she found Brett perched on the bed talking to Lauren on the portable.

“Okay… Okay… I’ll call a service and be there by three. Yeah I will give them a call now. Yeah, we will… I promise… I have to ask her. Look, I’d better go or I won’t get there by three. Yeah love you too…Thanks.” Hanging up she turned to find Tori next to her. She held up a finger and asked Tori to give her a second.

She dialed her parent’s house. “Hi Mom…yeah I know Lauren was looking for me…No, I just lost track of time…No, I definitely won’t be there by one…Most likely around Three, Three-thirty…I’m sorry but it really couldn’t be helped…No I’ll tell you when I get there…Everything’s fine really…Look Mom… I’ll never get there if I don’t get going…Oh good, I can’t wait to see them…Yeah love you, too.”

Hanging up, she reached over and pulled Tori down on top of her on the bed, again losing themselves in a kiss. The heat that was building in the tub was quickly coming back and they were headed right into the furnace. Brett pulled away slightly and gave Tori an apologetic look.

“Baby, I’m sorry for running out of the bathroom like that. Forgive me?” Brett gave Tori a pathetically pouty look and added a bat of her eyes for good measure. She slowly walked her fingers down Tori’s blouse and fiddled with one of the buttons.

Tori wanted to laugh at Brett’s antics. “You know if I didn’t know better I’d swear I was being tweaked. That’s not what you’re doing is it?” She gave Brett her best no nonsense look.

Brett fidgeted a little at her position under Tori. “No… absolutely not. Actually I’m a little hurt that you would even think that.” Her pout was even more pronounced and an unmistakable sigh escaped her chest.

“Oh I see. You’re not trying to use your influence to try and get me to forget how you left me in that tub, cold and lonely shivering at the loss of this beautiful body.” Tori ran her hands down the towel that Brett was still wearing. She heard Brett’s breath catch and felt her squirm a little between her legs. Tori decided she wanted to push Brett a little further. “You’re not trying to belittle my feelings by thinking you could offer up a feeble apology and just run out of here do you?” Taking the fold of the towel, she excruciatingly, ever so slowly opened the fabric. Dipping down, Tori kissed an attentive nipple. Then turned and captured the other between her teeth and tongue. When she felt Brett was sufficiently primed she quickly pulled away, covered Brett back up and got up off the bed.

“Okay. Apology accepted” Tori whipped out quick and abrupt. Knowing that Brett was totally flabbergasted, she collected the remains of the dishes and remnants of their breakfast. Placing everything back on the table, she proceeded to roll the table towards the door. As she approached the door, her ears were attacked by a shriek of frustration. Turning around, Tori was met by a sight that sent a wave of heat slamming right into her center. On the bed lay Brett buck-naked in a very prone position. Her face buried in the pillows and her arms and legs were spread wide open. Brett knew she was toying with Tori and she would surely be even later for her parents. Nevertheless, she continued. It had taken forever for her and Tori to get back together and she was going to enjoy every moment of it.

Tori abandoned her table and moved stealthily over to the bed. She removed her clothes and placed them neatly on the chest at the foot of the bed. With her destination in sight and her goal in mind, she made a beeline right for Brett’s silky skin and inviting slopes.

She slowly climbed on the bed and kissed her way up Brett’s body starting from her feet, calves, thighs, and spent a considerable amount of time on perfectly formed cheeks. Running her hand up a smooth back, she planted kisses up Brett’s spine and along each side. She felt Brett quiver when she grazed her breasts against Brett’s back, sending electrical pulses up and down Brett’s body. Tori nipped at an enticing shoulder and turned Brett over unto her back. There she found passion filled green eyes and a hunger that radiated with intense heat. Both reached out for each other hoping to quench the fire that was burning between them. Together, they were lost in a slow burn that engulfed them both and when their bodies couldn’t take another degree, they released into an explosion of white heat and intense emotions.
INSTALLMENT EIGHT
Sated and saturated, the two lay in quiet surrender wanting nothing more than to languish in contented peace.

Tori ran her finger along the fine hairs on Brett’s arm, every now and then kissing the top of Brett’s blonde crown. Tori didn’t want to break the spell but knew she had to. “So are you going to tell me about this party at your parents this afternoon?” She had been invited but had completely forgotten about it.

Brett looked up at her lover and sighed, “I’m supposed to be at Mom and Dad’s at three o’clock. Actually it was supposed to be a brunch at one. But as you can see, I’m not going to make it.” She sat up to look at the clock. It was 12:45. “For the life of me, I can’t seem to drag myself away from you.” Turning back to face Tori, Brett captured Tori’s lips again. “Mmm…I know it’s short notice, but do you think you would like to come with me?” Brett tensed up. She really didn’t want to have this moment end, but her grandparents had come to visit and she really had to see them.

Tori was at war with herself also. The thought of not being with Brett was so painful her chest tightened. Lifting Brett’s face to meet hers, she lightly rubbed her nose and lips against Brett’s. “You know there is nothing I would like better than to spend the day with you and your family. Unfortunately, Ian is coming over tonight to strategize. We’re negotiating a big contract tomorrow and it’s essential that we be on the same page.” Tori wrapped her arms tighter around Brett, not wanting to break their connection just yet. “This weekend has been the most wonderful experience I have ever had. Although it’s breaking my heart to let you go, this weekend is only the beginning. I plan on spending lots and lots of time with you.” With that, the two childhood friends lost themselves in a heartfelt embrace knowing after all was said, it truly was just the beginning for them.

Brett tucked her head under Tori’s chin and let out a sigh of contentment and frustration. “I know baby but the thought of being without you, even for a minute, is just so painful. I know that you and I have always shared a bond. Somehow, it just feels stronger. It’s like my heart and soul depends on you…… craves you. I can’t imagine a moment without you. Do you know what I mean?”

Tori thought about what Brett was saying. That’s exactly how I feel. “I know honey, I feel it too. But what can I do? It’s already almost one and you’re folks are going to be really upset if you don’t make an appearance.”

“I know they will, especially since Grandma and Grandpa Montgomery are here from Florida.” Brett’s grandparents retired in Florida, after getting tired of the cold weather in the Northeast. Brett was always very close to them and she had grown up with them when she was young.

“Grammy and Grampy M are here. Wow I haven’t seen them in years. I always loved them. Especially Grammy. What a character.” Tori laughed remembering Brett’s grandmother.

“They would really love to see you. Oh honey, isn’t there anything you can do? I don’t want this weekend to end just yet.” Brett’s eyes were filling with tears and she knew she was being a little clingy but she really didn’t want to be away from Tori.

The look on Brett’s face broke Tori’s heart and there was nothing she wouldn’t do to put a smile back on Brett’s face. “Let me give Ian a call. Maybe I can go over to your parent’s for a few hours and then meet Ian at our house in the Hamptons instead of him coming here. That way Pamela will be happy as well. She hates when he works on the weekends. Marcus adores being with his Daddy and the baby is a bit sickly. So him leaving them on a day that is meant for family, doesn’t really sit well with her. Let me see what I can do.” Tori picked up the telephone beside the bed and made the call.

“Hey Ian…Whoa, what was that?” Tori heard a screeching yell in the background from Marcus, along with a wail from the baby and a frustrated roar from Pamela. Ian sounded frazzled and Tori knew it was definitely a bad time.

“Oh Tori…listen this really isn’t a good time. I just told Pam about our meeting tonight and it hit the fan. I’ve really got to go…I’ll see you tonight.” He was just about to hang up when he heard his sister.

“Wait… Ian wait…Look. I have to go to the Montgomery’s house this afternoon and I was thinking I would just meet you at the house tonight. That way you will not have to upset the family anymore and I can spend time with the Montgomerys. I’ll just bring my briefcase and a change of clothes for tomorrow and we can leave together for the office in the morning. How does that sound?” Tori hoped that this would help relieve some of the tension.

“Oh sis, I owe you one. I can’t tell you how much that helps me out. I thought I was going to have to sleep in the guestroom tonight. All right it’s 1:00 right now you’ll probably get to the Montgomery’s around 3:00. How ’bout we get together around nine or nine-thirty. That way I can help put the kids to sleep and I can have an hour alone with Pam. We don’t need that much time to go over the contracts, do we?” The relief in Ian’s voice was evident.

“No. All the preliminary stuff is worked out. It’s just a matter of presenting a united front. Do you know if Dad is sitting in tomorrow?”

“Yeah he is. But he wants to stay in the background. He’s leaving everything up to us. You know he mentioned he was going over to Uncle Gordon’s. You’ll see him there. We’d go too, but the baby’s really been at it.” Ian was a great dad but sometimes the pull between his family and business was a little hard to balance. Overall he did a great job. But there were times when one or the other suffered. “Nine thirty’s not too late is it? We can meet earlier if it is?”

“No that’s fine, I’m a bit of a night owl and a early riser kinda gal. Don’t ask me to explain that. It’s just the way it is. Listen I’ve got to go. I’ll see you later.” Tori hung up and immediately tried to concentrate on making another call. While she had been talking to her brother, Brett had decided to save time and start to change. She watched Brett look through her drawers and pull out a sweater and panties that she could wear. Allowing the towel to fall haplessly to the floor, Brett began to get dressed. Tori watched absolutely mesmerized as Brett slowly put on piece by piece. Tori licked her lips watching Brett finish and make her way back to Tori by the bed. Tori took Brett’s hand and brushing her lips against her knuckles while she waited for Gibeau to pickup. Feeling totally lost in the scent of Brett, she didn’t realize the party on the phone had pickup.

“Hello …Hello can I help you?…Hello is anyone there?” Gibeau could hear someone breathing.

“Ah…Oh …Um…Hey Gi, It’s Tori. I hate to bother you buddy, but Brett and I have to go to the Hamptons. Yes. The heliport. No, staying there…I’d like to get there by 3:00. It’s 1:30 now…Excellent, 30 minutes out front. Thanks Gibeau, I appreciate this…I know that’s what I pay you for but it is Sunday…Well, thank you anyway…See ya in a bit.” Tori hung up again and looked at Brett. Totally embarrassed for being caught watching her.

Brett had a look of absolute love on her face. She never thought she would ever have Tori back in her life again. But here Tori was watching her get dressed and putting her needs first again. It made Brett feel like all her dreams were handed to her in this one beautiful woman.

“Everything’s set.” Tori smiled and nodded affirmatively.

“Well let me call my folks and tell them we’re on our way….” Brett was about to reach over and grab the telephone when a long slender hand stopped her. “You know Brett…..that sweater looks great on you.” It was a wool cable knit cream-colored turtleneck sweater and Brett wore it over her jeans. With a light smattering of make up and her blond locks brushed back behind one of her ears, Brett was a perfect image of a wholesome cover girl. “You look absolutely beautiful. It will be very hard to keep my hands and eyes off you. Especially when I know you’re wearing my panties. I can’t tell you what the thought of that is doing to me.” She took Brett in her arms and ran her hands down Brett’s well-formed buttocks.

“Mmm…well I can’t tell you what the feeling of wearing your panties is doing to me. I guess you’ll have to wait until I give them back to you later on.” Brett saw Tori swallow and watched as a look of unbridled lust graced her face. Knowing this would set off another round of wanton discovery, Brett thought it best if she ran for the door at that moment.

Tori’s libido was throbbing out of control and her heart was racing a mile a minute. Oh boy Tori. She sure has your number. You had better make sure you take your vitamins cause you are definitely going to need them. Tori watched Brett run off. Oh you can run but you can’t hide baby. Tori grabbed a pair of 501s and a Black turtleneck sweater similar to the one Brett had on and slipped on a pair of loafers. Looking through her closet, she grabbed her gray pea coat and a garment bag with a suit and shoes for tomorrow’s meeting. Everything else she would need she had at the house and office. Looking in the mirror, she ran a brush through her hair and freshened up her make up. O yes. Happiness sure looks good on you. She grabbed her things and met Brett at the elevator. It was now 1:45.
INSTALLMENT NINE
Brett watched with excitement as Gibeau skillfully landed on the helipad on the Hull estate. Once the sound of the engine and the whirl of the blades died down, he stood up, slid the door open, and lowered the steps. Tori jumped out and waited for Brett to come join her. It was a beautiful afternoon. The wind was blowing just enough to make the waves turn in the ocean and the sound of seagulls could be heard in the distance. Gibeau went for the car. Tori said they would meet him out front.

The house was a Tudor style mansion and sat perfectly poised on a 20-acre estate overlooking the ocean. It had tennis courts, an indoor/outdoor pool and a fully equipped gym. The grounds were perfectly manicured and a green house was set off in the distance surrounded by beautiful gardens and fountains. This had always been a wonderful place to grow up for the kids. It was the setting for many memorable childhood adventures.

Taking Brett’s hand, they walked slowly up to the back patio entrance.

“Sweetie?”

“Yes love?” Tori replied.

“You know everyone’s going to be there today.” Brett inquired.

“I know honey. Does that bother you?” Tori knew this subject was bound to come up.

“No not me. I mean, you’re not the first woman I’ve brought home. I don’t think they’re going to expect to see you with me though. I’d understand if you’re not ready to tell anyone.” Brett said with a little bit of apprehension.

“Honey, there’s nothing I would like more than to tell the world about us. I love you.” She stopped and brought Brett’s hand to her lips and then placed it on her heart. “I am very proud of what we have. You are everything to me Brett.” She paused and gave Brett time to comprehend what she was saying. “I don’t know if they’re going to be there but there are a few people I need to tell in person. I have to tell Aunt Diane and Uncle Paul about us.” They were Cole and Pamela Crawford’s parents. “I’d hate to have them hear it from someone else. They have always hoped Cole and I would get back together someday and they would be hurt if they found out about us accidentally.”

“Tori….. Are you and Cole still involved? Why would they think that?” Brett’s face immediately started to turn pale at the mention of Cole’s name. Although Brett really liked Cole, somewhere in Brett’s mind, she still associated him as being the one that took Tori away from her, even if she now knew that wasn’t the case.

“No honey were not together in the sense that we’re in a committed relationship. We do see each other when one of us is in town. But that’s about it. We haven’t been exclusive since high school.” Tori tipped Brett’s chin up to see Brett’s eyes. “Cole and I have always enjoyed each other’s company and have shared many things throughout the years. But I wasn’t ready for a big commitment and he was alright with that. We agreed to be there for each other until I changed my mind about our commitment to each other or if either of us found someone else we wanted to see exclusively. That time hadn’t come. So we continued to see each other. Cole and I have a very special friendship, Brett. He will always have a place in my life. But you sweetheart, are the only one that has my heart. Always and forever. Whatever comes of this……I want you to promise me that we will always be friends. I won’t live without you in my life again.” Tori watched as the tears that had filled Brett’s eyes finally burst to flowing. Tori opened her arms and Brett sank into them.

“Tori, I love you so much. There is no one else for me but you. I know we still have a lot to work out and we said we would take things a step at a time. It’s just….I feel so much for you already. It’s overwhelming…” Brett didn’t know how else to feel. All her life all she truly ever wanted was Tori.

“I know honey. I feel the same way. But we’re not kids anymore and we have changed a lot and I love what I’ve seen of you so far and I look forward to getting to know every last bit of you. Nevertheless, I still need to talk to Aunt Diane and Uncle Paul. This is going to come as a big surprise to them and I really have to sit down and prepare them.” Tori hoped that Brett understood what she was saying.

“Do you want me to go with you when you talk to them?” Brett buried her face in Tori’s sweater not wanting to lose their connection.

“No baby…I think I better do that by myself.” Tori tightened her grasp around Brett and kissed her lovingly on the head. “As far as your family knowing, I would love that. I’ve always adored them and really think of them as my own.”

“Oh honey, they feel the same about you. They really do. This will not only make my Dad’s year but his lifetime. I can’t tell you how much he goes on about you. If I wasn’t so secure about my Dad’s love for me, I might actual be jealous.” Brett pulled back slightly and patted Tori on the chest. “Bringing you home to the family will be the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I love you.”

“I love you too little one. You know I’ve wanted us to be together for so long that I just want to enjoy courting you. Do you think you could do that with me? You know, the wine and dine stage? I know we’ve known each other all our lives but I really would like to romance you off your feet.” Tori had such an honest, loving look on her face.

“Well I don’t think I’ve ever had a more appealing offer. Honey, I can think of nothing better then to be wined and dined by you. Bring it on.” Brett winked at Tori and immediately captured her heart.

“Well sweetie, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I plan on lavishing you with all the world has to offer.” Tori bent down and sealed her promise with a kiss. “As much as I’d like to spend the day here with you, we better get going or we’ll be really late for your folks.” She looked at her watch, it was 3:15. They took a moment to share another kiss and went up to the house to drop off Tori’s things.
INSTALLMENT TEN

The Montgomery’s home was bustling with excitement. The whole Montgomery family was there. As well as, Tori’s father; Richard, Brett and Tori’s friends, Alexi and Adrian, their parents the Filennis and the Ardens, and among other guests. Cole was still out of town and Pamela was at home with Ian. Brett and Tori made their entrance and a round of greetings filled the room.

“Well, it’s about time you two got here. You’re lucky we saved you some food.” Gordon came over and gave them each a warm greeting.

“How’s my little girl?” He hugged his daughter and kissed her on the forehead.

“I’m fine Daddy. Tori and I went out this weekend and we didn’t get a whole lot of sleep.” Brett adored her father and it showed on her face. He had slightly grayish hair, mixed with strands of blonde. He was a very distinguished looking man, carrying an air of respect, honor, and warmth about him. He could be a lion in the courtroom but a kitten when it came to his family.

“Well you two may have stayed out late, but you both look wonderful.” He hadn’t seen his daughter this happy in years. Since the whole episode with Jenna, Brett hadn’t been the same. He had worried that she might never be the same again. Judging by the way that she looked now, those days might finally be over. There was a definite sparkle in her eye and a bounce in her step. It quite possibly had everything to do with Miss Victoria Hull.

“Well we had a bit of a slow start. I’m sorry to have kept her up so late.” Tori looked at Gordon and a knowing exchange passed between them. They had always been able to communicate so much with just an exchange of expressions.

“Well I’m glad you could come. Come on. Let’s get you both something to eat and drink then you can come and visit with us.” Gordon led them to the buffet and what a spread it was. Another guest came to the door and Gordon left them to say hello to the new guests.

“Wow this looks great. I don’t know where to start.” Brett’s eyes were wide with hunger while Tori waited to see the mountain of food that was sure to make its way to Brett’s plate.

“I know you can put the food away on a regular day. I can’t wait to see what you can do when you’ve been so active in the past 24 hours.” Tori whispered into Brett ear. A blush slowly crept to Brett’s face and she shot Tori a look warning her to behave.

“You had better stop or you will not be able to have that conversation with Uncle Paul and Aunt Diane like you wanted.” Brett threatened.

“Oh really? Why is that?” Tori feigned innocence.

“Because if you insist on dropping innuendos, I will have no choice but to drop you right here, right now and have my way with you. Then everyone will know.” Brett said smugly.

“Why Miss Brett, whatever do you mean? I meant no such thing.” Tori shot back in her best southern drawl.

“Yeah right missy. I’m not the one who’s the walking heartbreaker: the one who everyone flocks to so they can bask in your beauty.” Brett loved the banter that Tori and her shared. Slowly but surely, the connection was coming back in full force.

“Well obviously you haven’t gotten the memo.” Laughing as Brett gave her an inquisitive look. “You know the memo. The one that says ‘longtime heartbreaker and absolute lost soul has found the love of her life and is now in retirement’.” The smile on Brett’s face could have lit up the world. All she wanted to do was throw her arms around Tori and kiss her senseless.

“Oh that memo. I remember now. The one that also said ‘famed reclusive writer finally saw the light of day. She was last spotted cavorting with the lost heartbreaker as they danced off into the sunset’.” Brett winked at Tori and the two gazed deeply into each other’s eyes.

“Yeah that’s the one.” Tori was just about to lean forward and absently kiss Brett when she heard a familiar voice call her in the distance.

Startled, Tori turned around to find Aunt Diane headed their way. “Oh boy.” Tori said.

“Tori, sweetheart. I thought that was you I saw come in.” She took Tori in her arms and gave her a big embrace. “And dear Brett. It is always so good to see you. You look wonderful.” Turning she gave Brett a hug as well. “I’ve been chatting with your Grandma. She is such a hoot. I just love her.”

“Yes she is Aunt Diane. You know I haven’t even had a chance to say hello to her yet. She’ll have my hide if I don’t. If you’ll excuse me for a moment.” Brett smiled warmly and excused herself leaving Tori and Diane Crawford alone to talk.

Tori watched Brett walk away unaware that Diane Crawford was watching her.

“Tori…” Diane said interrupting Tori’s appreciation of Brett’s lilting gait.

“I’m sorry, Aunt Diane. I’m so glad to see you.” She gave Diane another hug. “I haven’t really had a chance to come by and talk with you and Uncle Paul since I’ve been back.”

“I know Sweetheart. Your father has been raving about how you’re doing and all the things you’re accomplishing at Hull. We’re very proud of you.” Diane offered warmly. She adored Tori and really hoped that her and Cole could get back together.

“Thanks. It’s great to be back home.”

“Well Cole should be home soon. Maybe now that the two of you will be back here you can get to see each other more often.” Diane tried to be subtle but made her point just the same. She took in the glow on Tori’s face and the joy in her eyes. She hadn’t seen Tori look this peaceful or this beautiful in years. She wondered what was the cause for this change. Better yet, who was the cause for this change?

“I know Cole’s going to be back soon. He tried to reach me in London last week. Said he wanted to stop by on his way back. Unfortunately I’m here now.” Tori was starting to feel a little uncomfortable. She knew she needed to say something.

“I heard you bought a place in the city? Where did you end of buying?” Diane asked. She started to feel Tori’s unease.

Grateful for a change of subject Tori answered, “I actually found a place overlooking the park. Have you heard of the Louis Clayton building on Central Park West?”

“Why yes of course dear. That’s a very exclusive residential building. However did you find it?” Diane was very interested. She loved architecture and this building was very well known.

“Timing I guess. William Vander burgh had it listed with the Pomeroy Agency and they just happened to be the one I called. I really love the place. I’m going to have a house warming just as soon as I can.”

“William Vander burgh? You mean to tell me you own the Penthouse. Tori, they had a write up on that place in all the magazines. You just have to let me see it. I heard it’s magnificent.” Diane bubbled over in enthusiasm.

“Yes, I think so. I promise I’ll have you and Uncle Paul over soon.” Tori was trying to think of a way to bring up Brett tactfully. Now she had an excuse. I’ll have them over for lunch. Perfect.

Diane studied Tori’s face again. In all the years that she had known her, she couldn’t remember ever seeing Tori so relaxed. “So Tori, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you looking so good. I mean you’re actually glowing. I know it can’t be my son that’s causing this because he’s been gone the whole time you’ve been back. So when are you going to break my heart and tell me who you’re seeing?”

Tori was floored. Okay that is one way to breech the subject. I guess lunch is out. “Umm… Well I could just pretend that I’m not. But that wouldn’t be fair, now would it? Before I tell you though, you have to promise me that you won’t tell Cole. I really want to tell him myself.”

“Oh my…this is serious isn’t it?” Diane was disappointed. But anyone that made Tori this happy could not possibly be that bad.

“Yeah, it’s serious and I think it’s going to be a bit of a shock to some people.” Tori readied herself for her coming out party.

“Really? Why is that dear? I’m sure whoever it is, must be quite a gentleman. I’m not one to brag but my son is quite a catch and I know whoever this is must be nothing short of perfection to have caught your eye.” Diane was now very curious. Who could it be?

“Why don’t we go outside Aunt Diane. What I’m going to say may surprise you a bit and I’m not really sure how you’re going to react.” Just then, Paul Crawford came up to them and stopped to join in on the conversation.

“Well ladies. It’s good to see you both holding up the buffet. You have been standing here for quite a while. This conversation must be quite intriguing from the look on my wife’s face.” Paul Crawford was such a happy go lucky kind of guy. Cole was just like his father with his boyish good looks and warm personality.

“Hi Uncle Paul.” Tori reached up and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Yeah, we were having an important discussion.”

“Really? Is this a private conversation or can I join in?” Paul was now a little concerned. He loved Tori like a daughter. They both did. Anything that concerned her they took an interest in.

“No. Actually I was hoping to discuss this with you both at a later time Aunt Diane and I sort of stumbled on to it and now it’s really too late to turn back.” Tori really didn’t want to hurt them. They had always been so good to her.

“Well dear, you know there is nothing you can’t tell us. It’s obviously very important to you.” Diane took Tori’s hand and hooked an arm around her husband’s. “Let’s go find somewhere comfortable so we can talk. Shall we?”

Richard watched as his daughter and his childhood friends, the Crawfords, made their way to the library.

Richard went over to Gordon. “Hey Gordon, do you know what that’s all about?” Richard stared in the direction of the departing Crawfords and his daughter.

“I have an idea but you’re going to have to wait just like the rest of us.” Gordon knew that Tori had to square away some unfinished business.

“If I’m correct in my assumption, it’s going to make our girls very happy when it’s all through.” Gordon smiled at his childhood mate.

“Is that so? Well I hope you are right my friend. I really hope you’re right.” Richard agreed as a little smile started to form at the corner of his mouth.
INSTALLMENT ELEVEN

The Crawfords sat down on the couch and Tori sat in the chair next to them. Paul had made them all a drink. Making themselves comfortable, they tried the best they could to make Tori feel at ease.

“Well dear. What is it that has gotten you feeling so hesitant?” Paul and Diane sat patiently giving Tori time to collect her thoughts.

“Well, let me start by saying that the two of you have been so wonderful to me through the years. You have always made me feel like one of the family. And for that, I will always be grateful. I cherish my relationship with you and Cole. He is very special to me.” She stopped and gave them each a smile.

“We feel the same way Tori. You know you will always have a special place in our hearts. Cole feels the same way.”

“Thank you. That really means a lot. I know that you’ve always held hopes that maybe Cole and I would get back together. But I’m afraid that isn’t going to happen…..especially now.” Tori paused to gather her thoughts.

“Tori, whoever this person is I’m sure they must be wonderful.” Diane was getting very concerned. Why was Tori being so secretive?

“Well let me preface what I am about to say first…. It has taken years to come to terms with this. This is not a phase and it is not going to go away. This has nothing to do with my relationship with Cole. We share an incredible relationship and I have always wanted the best for him. Unfortunately, that does not include me. You see I used to watch my parents when I was younger. I came to believe that love was something that you never compromised on….that when true love exists, there is nothing like it. I want that for Cole. And I want that for myself. Unfortunately when love hits you, you can’t choose the package that it comes in. And to tell you the truth, I wouldn’t change one iota of the person that I have fallen in love with.” Tori waited to see if the Crawfords had anything to say.

“Tori dear…..is this person a criminal or something? Why all the mystery?” Diane did not want to rush Tori but she was really getting anxious.

“No this person is far from a criminal.” Come on Tori…. sometime today. You love Brett…….and that’s all that matters. Who cares what other people thin? “She’s very kind hearted and very beautiful. She’s Brett Montgomery.” There I said it. Tori waited for the fall out………. But it didn’t come. Looking at Diane and Paul, Tori could see that they were in a bit of shock. And something else. What that something else was she wasn’t quite sure.

The Crawfords sat there stunned. This was not what they expected and yet, when Tori mentioned Brett, everything seemed to make sense. They did after all witness the two women’s relationship since youth. In recollection, Diane and Paul remembered their connection. Drawing the correct conclusion, Diane thought about the look on Tori’s face as Brett walked away. That was it; the peace that she saw on Tori’s face was actually one of love. The love she held for Brett.

Paul Crawford on the other hand, though he comprehended what Tori was saying, was a little uncomfortable with the idea. He didn’t quite understand the attraction. Victoria and Brett had grown up to be beautiful women. They could have anyone they wanted. Why would they choose this lifestyle?

“Tori, you know I understand that you and Brett are very close. You always have been. But how can you possibly say that Brett is the one? I mean, don’t you want to have children? Won’t you miss the company of a man?” Paul truly wanted to understand this but wasn’t knowledgeable about this subject at all. All he knew was he was losing a really great future daughter in law.

“Uncle Paul, let me first answer your question by saying, I do want to have children and I have known many wonderful men. All of those things I can do if I choose to. But my love for Brett was something I did not choose. For as long as I can remember, my love for her was just there. I can’t stop it anymore than I can stop breathing. For so long I denied what I felt for Brett because I thought it was wrong. But that didn’t make it go away. It just made it even the more intense.” Tori stopped, remembering the loneliness that she felt when Brett wasn’t in her life. Has it really only been two days since Brett and I revealed everything to each other?
“Just think about it Uncle Paul…. Everyday you go around and take breathing for granted. It’s always there or else you would die. Now one day someone comes along and tells you ‘you can only breathe half the air that you’re used to’. But you can still exist. Since you’re only getting half the air and you’re aware of it, now you’re need becomes even more intense. It’s all you can think about. Everywhere you go, all you can think about is the air you’re not receiving. Nothing you do can stops that need. You try everything you can. But the air can never be replaced. It’s that important. Soon you come up with ideas to use even less of the air that you are receiving so you can conserve it. You stop exercising because you use too much air, so you end up out of shape. Your self-esteem becomes less and less because it was the air that made you feel whole. Soon the people around you start to get mad, because your lack of air has made you angry, bitter and unbearable to live with. You then feel tired and lethargic and soon you are not going to work. You become less and less the person that you’re proud of because you don’t have the other half of what you’re body needs.”

Looking around the room, Tori took in the pictures of the Montgomery family. She remembered helping Brett learn to take her first tentative steps, playing dominoes on the floor with her, and hiding under the desk when they played hide and seek. So many memories of happy days spent with the girl she had always loved.

“That is what it has been like for me without Brett for the last 16 years. Since Brett and I were young, there was no limit to our bond. We shared one hundred percent of our hearts as children. One day my heart told me that I had to stop my feelings for Brett because I was taught that what I was feeling was wrong. At first, I tried to just be friends. But my feelings would not go away. They just got more intense. When I no longer could control my feelings, I tried to limit my time with her and it did nothing but break both of our hearts. When that failed to dampen my feeling for Brett, I decided to try and completely erase her from my life. I tried to replace her with other things and other people but she could not be replaced. Soon I started to loose faith in everything because the love I received from Brett was what gave me hope, gave me strength. I started to close off, become bitter, and angry because I could not have what I needed most. I started to become less and less a person I could live with.” Tori paused to get back her composure. Any thoughts of the years spent in separation conjured up very painful memories for her. Once she felt calm again, she continued.

“Then one day I decided I needed the other half of my soul. Brett is the air that I breathe and I cannot live without her. I don’t love Brett because I choose to. I love Brett because I have to. I’m sorry to have to say this. It really is not and has not been my intention to hurt anyone. If there was any way I could have what I have with Brett with Cole, there would be no way on Earth I could have walked away. But I don’t. And I pray that he will someday find what I have found. Because the moment Brett came back into my life, I could breathe again.”

Tori finally finished her explanation and hoped that somehow this helped them understand how truly important Brett was to her. As the three sat in silence for a few minutes, tears began to form in Tori’s eyes. Their silence made her think ‘they did not understand’ and she was saddened by the thought. How could love not be understood?

Diane and Paul had never heard such a heartfelt declaration of love. They shared a look between them and nodded. They both got up and went to Tori’s side.

“Well honey, I guess we have a new member in our family. Brett is a very lucky woman and if you love her, we love her, although we already do since all of you kids are like our own. The fact that she can produce such a love in you Tori, only increases our love for her. Although we will be hard pressed to find another like you, and Cole definitely has his work cut out for him, we are happy for you. Be happy sweetheart. You have our support. What your parents shared when your mother was alive was nothing but spectacular. And watching you and Brett grow up kind of helps us to understand what you two share. It is special indeed.” Diane stated and then looked at her husband.

“Absolutely. I may not totally understand what you and Brett share. But I can recognize love when I see it. You are very lucky to have each other.” Paul reached down and pulled Tori to her feet. Taking his wife and Tori in his arms, they shared a group hug.

“Well what do you say we get back to the party?” Paul said with a smile that matched his son’s and one that Tori had grown to love throughout the years.

“Um yeah. But I’m going to have to ask you to keep this between the three of us. Nobody really knows about Brett and I yet and we would rather break it to them slowly. I only told you because I didn’t want you to hear it from someone else.”

“Thank you sweetheart. That was very thoughtful of you. We would be glad to keep this to ourselves. But I have a feeling everyone’s going to be very happy once they do find out. You and Brett somehow fit together. Once the shock of it wore off, it somehow made sense. Don’t you agree dear?” Diane looked to her husband.

“Yes, yes, I have to agree.” Paul was glad to see the happiness in Tori’s eyes. There was no denying what he saw there.

“Thank you. That really does mean a lot. So come on I’m starving.” Tori felt her heart rate return to normal. She had been nervous about the conversation and was relieved to have another seal of approval. Things were definitely falling into place.
INSTALLMENT TWELVE

Brett grew concerned while Tori and the Crawfords talked in the library. It seemed to be forever. Her stomach was starting to knot up. She didn’t quite understand why, but she felt like Tori may have gotten upset during her conversation with the Aunt Diane and Uncle Paul. She would have to ask Tori about it later.

When she finally spotted Tori emerging from the library, Brett discreetly went to her and took her hand. Her legs led them both to the library again. Once the door was shut, Brett flung herself head long right into Tori’s arms kissing her intensely.

When the kiss ended, Tori pulled away slightly and let out a deep breath. “Ooh, honey, I take it you missed me?” Tori laughed as Brett buried herself even deeper into her chest. She loved how Brett fit perfectly in her arms.

“I’m sorry. It’s just that I was worried. You took so long.” Brett finally felt her stomach settle down.

“I’m sorry baby. I didn’t mean to worry you. It’s just when I get on a roll it’s hard to stop. Especially when I’m talking about my favorite subject.” Tori flashed Brett a dazzling smile and a wink.

“Really… and what would that be?” Brett’s face brightened with affection.

“Why….you, of course. They received a whole dissertation on the advantages of loving Brett Montgomery.” Tori was scoring points big time with Brett and she would definitely be rewarded later.

“I see. Well I’ll have to hear about that sometime. You are very sweet,… you know that?” Brett stretched up and kissed Tori on the cheek.

Tori felt a blush spread across her face. She felt like a love struck schoolgirl but she didn’t care.

“You know Brett? I have always loved your parent’s choice of furnishings. However, I think I would like to see some place else besides the library. I think I’ve spent enough time in here,…don’t you?” Tori bent down and affectionately kissed Brett along her jaw line. “Although, I wouldn’t be totally opposed to christening this room with you, I’m afraid someone might walk in. I really wouldn’t want your family to find out about us that way.” She laughed when Brett, lost in the sensation of Tori’s kisses, popped right up and looked around the room to see if anyone was in fact coming into the library. “Besides I’m really hungry. Can you please feed me?” Tori gave Brett a very pitiful look.

“Of course baby… I’m kind of hungry myself.” Brett replied lovingly.

“What? You can’t be. When I last saw you, you were making off with a very large plate of food.” She turned Brett around. Looking her over very thoroughly.

“What are you doing?” Brett had a very curious look on her face. However, there was a hint of humor in her eyes.

“I’m trying to figure out where you put it all. Mmm… Mmm… Mmm. If eating all that food makes you look this good, I say ‘keep it up’. I could just gobble you up.” Tori gently pressed Brett against the door and helped herself to an impromptu feasting of Brett’s body.

“I thought you said you were hungry?” Brett said between kisses lost in Tori’s touch.

“I am… I really am…” All of a sudden, Tori could care less about food. Brett was wreaking havoc with her metabolism.

Just then, a knock on the door interrupted them.

Shit. “Yes?” Brett face was totally flushed and her body was throbbing with need.

“Brett? It’s Lauren. Everyone is wondering where you are. Is Tori in there with you?”

“Uh yeah…We’ll be right out.” Brett pressed her forehead against Tori’s and they both tried to calm their speeding hearts.

“Okay. I’ll see you back in there.” Lauren smiled. She knew she must have interrupted something by the sound of Brett’s voice. Ah, isn’t love grand? She made her way back to the living room and thanked whoever was listening for giving her little sister a bit of happiness.

“We better get back out there.” Brett said in frustration.

“Yeah. But don’t think this is over.” Tori again kissed Brett very intensely and they would soon be at it again if someone didn’t take control.

Brett very reluctantly pulled away, giving Tori a very apologetic look. “Okay, okay. You…me… later. Got it?” Brett arranged her and Tori’s clothes.

“Yeah, just as soon as I can get rid of Ian.” Tori was sure she was going to explode. Brett was quickly becoming an unquenchable desire for her. Knowing that Brett’s family was waiting, Tori did the best she could to calm the growing embers that Brett stirred in her.

“I love you.”

“I love you too honey. Now…Do you think you can stop fooling around and feed me?” Tori bumped Brett with her hip and ran out of the Library.

Brett shook her head. “Brat.” She screamed enjoying the sight of Tori’s very desirable posterior.
INSTALLMENT THIRTEEN

After Brett led Tori to the buffet and piled enough food for Tori and herself, they made their way to Brett’s grandmother. There seated in a large chair was Grandma Montgomery. Grammy M, as they called her, was in her mid-eighties and as feisty as she was witty. Both her and Brett’s grandfather were both very healthy for their age and in their day made a very handsome couple.

“Well, Victoria. It is about time you brought yourself over here. I was beginning to think that your presence here was just a rumor.” Grammy M ordered Tori over. She held her arms open and Tori gladly sank into them. She smelt of roses and baby powder. Tori had always found Grammy M to be such a welcoming soul.

“Well … Well … Well. Now stand up so I can get a good look at you.”

Tori stood up to her full height and waited for the quip she was sure to get. “My, my, my…Look at you. You’ve grown up to be quite an eye full haven’t you. You must keep the insurance companies quite busy?” Grammy M gave Tori a very appreciative look.

“I’m sorry Grammy I don’t understand what you’re getting at?” Tori knew this was going to be good. It always was.

“Well honey the reported cases. Isn’t it obvious?” Grammy winked at Brett, who was leaning against the door jam that was next to where Grammy was seated.

“Um no… It isn’t all that obvious to me.” Tori looked to Brett for help.

“Don’t look at me, heartbreaker, you’re on your on.” Brett flashed Tori a gorgeous smile and wink.

The exchange wasn’t lost on Brett’s grandmother. Hmm, Well I’ll be. It’s about time. Brett grandmother thought. She had always known that the two shared a special bond.

“Alright I guess I’m going to have to explain…. Tori….. the insurance claims that are filed when you walk by. All heads must turn so quickly that people’s necks go out of whack.” Grammy M started laughing so hard at the red blush that covered all of Tori’s face.

“Grammy M, you’re too much. No there aren’t a whole lot of claims. But your granddaughter here….” She leaned over and pulled Brett over to where she was sitting on the arm of Grammy M’s chair. Opening her legs so Brett could stand between them, she placed an arm around Brett’s waist.
“Now she’s the looker. She’s got them falling all over themselves. Me included.” Tori just beamed with love for Brett and Brett gave her an equally loving look in return.

“You know girls, I may be an old lady. But I can still spot steam rising 10 paces away. And you two are definitely steaming. So what gives?” She gave them both a very knowing look.

“Now I know where Uncle Gordon gets it. Nothing ever gets by him.” Turning, Tori directed her gaze to Brett. “Well honey do you want to tell Grammy or do I?”

“I’d be glad to. Grammy….” Brett put her arm around Tori’s. “It gives me great pleasure to announce that Tori and I are dating.” Brett bent down and gave Tori a sweet peck on the top of her head. They both looked over to Grammy and waited for a response.

“You know girls… if the women I grew up with looked like you, I might have considered going the other way myself.” Grandma had a very approving look on her face and winked as Tori’s face turned beet red again. “Well don’t just sit there, give me a hug?”

Tori laughed and let go of Brett so Brett could give her Grammy a hug.

Pointing a finger at her Grammy, Brett gave her the business. “You are so bad.” She bent down and gave her a hug and kiss “…but I love dearly.”

“I love you too pumpkin. It’s about time you found someone worthy of you.” Grammy M loved all her grandchildren but Brett always had a special place in her heart.

“Alright, alright. Let me at her…” Brett chuckled, then stepped aside. Tori bent down and gave Grammy a big hug as well. “I’ve missed you Grammy M.”

Brett and Tori used to sit with Brett’s grandmother for hours playing scrabble or listening to her stories. She was well loved by all. Mainly because she didn’t care what anybody thought. When she liked you, she loved you. When she didn’t, well let’s just say she didn’t suffer fools lightly. Brett definitely took after her side of the family. With her blonde hair and green eyes, Brett was the only one amongst her siblings that had this coloring. I guess this is why Tori took to her grandmother so well because she could see so much of her grandmother in Brett. The only difference was Brett loved everyone first and passed judgment later. Even then, she would still give you the benefit of the doubt. What endeared Brett to Tori the most was her loving heart.

“Well of course you did. I am a very lovable person. So, tell me what took you so long? I thought you shagged my granddaughter years ago? You two sure looked like you were headed that way a long time ago. What happened? You lost the directions?”

Tori was about to lose it. Brett’s Grandma was a trip. Tori bent over and whispered something in Grandma M’s ear sending the older women into a fit of laughter. “Oh my… that’s good to know. Well Brett I think you’re going to be very satisfied with this one. If she’s too much for you, you can send her my way. As they say, ‘you’re never too old to try something new’!”

It was now Brett’s turn to turn beet red. “No Grandma. This one’s all mine and she’s definitely not too much for me. If anything, I can’t get enough of her.” Brett wrapped her arms around Tori possessively. “I don’t blame you for wanting to try her out. She’s absolutely irresistible.” Brett tightened her hold around Tori and they exchanged another loving gaze. “Even if I was willing to share, I don’t know if you could take her. She might be too much for you.” Brett released Tori, bent down, and whispered something in her Grandma’s ear. “You see she does this thing……”

“Really? Isn’t that difficult?” Grandma M had an astonished look on her face.

“Very! And I want you around for a very long time. But you have to admit, it would be a great way to go.” Brett waggled her eyes and made a lewd gesture.

“Oh yes. I think you are right.” Grandma M gave Brett an equally crude gesture.

“Excuse me… I’m right here ladies.” Tori was now very embarrassed at being the center of their discussion. She sat there sulking with a very dejected look on her face.

“Oh baby, don’t be scared. I won’t let Grandma hurt you.” Brett whipped.

Tori threw her hands up in frustration.

“You’re not sorry I told Grammy about us? Are you? Oh look at that pout?” Brett loved it when Tori got all vulnerable.

“No. I just don’t like getting picked on.” Tori put on an even bigger sulk and gave Brett her best puppy dog eyes.

“Oh baby I’m sorry. Did I hurt my baby’s feelings?”, Brett responded.

Tori shook her head up and down. Brett reached over, ran her hands through Tori’s rich dark hair, and gave her pouting lips a very thorough kissing.

With a happy grin on her face, Tori turned to Grandma M and gave her a dazzling smile. “You see….. I know how to get what I want when I want too?”

Brett slapped Tori across her belly and replied. “Alright wisecracker, I’ll get you for that one.”

Grammy observed the closeness that seemed to pour out from the two women. The love between them was so evident. “Girls, I know I kid around a lot. But I want you to know that I’ve always thought you two had something very special. I have been blessed to be married to your Grampy for sixty-eight years. And I would not change a single day that we have shared. Take care of one another and don’t ever take each other for granted. I see a lot of happiness in store for the both of you. What you two have is very rare. Enjoy it. …..Now get out of here. If you see that old guy I’m married to, send him over. All this talk of love and sex has got me all wound up!” She gave them both a hug and sent them on their way.

As Tori and Brett walked away, Tori turned back to Grammy M and mouth the words, “Thank you.”

Grandma M in return answered with a very warm smile and blew her a kiss.
INSTALLMENT FOURTEEN

The rest of the evening was spent enjoying family, friends, and words of support. All and all, everyone was happy that Brett and Tori were dating. Gordon and Janice gave Tori and Brett their blessing and, as expected, Gordon just beamed with joy at finally being able to welcome Tori into his family. Diane and Paul gave Brett a warm welcome as well and made Tori and Brett promise that they would come over for dinner soon. The only one left was Tori’s father, Richard.

Leaving Tori to talk with her brothers and sisters, Brett went outside to get some air. Hearing footsteps, she turned to find Tori’s father making his way toward her.

“Hi Uncle Richard.” She turned and gave him a kiss on the cheek and a hug.

“Mmm…it sure is beautiful out here tonight.” He returned the hug and took in a deep cleansing breath of crisp cool air. He let go and placed his hands on top of the cement railing that surrounded the veranda.

“Yes it is. I love nights like this. The sky is so clear and the air feels so clean. It’s been a great winter.” Brett loved Tori’s Dad. He had an ease about him that made everyone feel comfortable.

“Yes it has. So I’ve heard the latest book is going well.” Richard loved Brett. When she was younger her and Tori would sneak into his office and they would sit on his lap while he tried to work. Her green eyes would always look at him with such curiosity. He’d always end up playing on the floor with them, leaving his work behind so he could enjoy their exuberance while they played.

“Yeah it is. I’m going to have to go on a book tour in March during spring break. I’m glad that people like them as much as they do. I get e-mails from people all over the world telling me how my writing has affected them. It’s very satisfying.” Brett just beamed when she talked about her work.

“I’m sure it is. We don’t get to see each other too often do we? I don’t know where the years go. I remember watching you and Tori run around, chasing each other over every inch of this place. I’ll never forget the day your parent’s brought you home. Tori was so enthralled with you. You were both so adorable. We all watched as you and Tori seemed to have this connection even then. Some things you just can’t question. They just are.” Richard glanced up as a plane passed overhead.

“Uncle Richard? Do you believe in fate?” Brett turned to look at Richard’s profile. He was a very good-looking man and so were his children. They couldn’t possibly have come out any other way. Dominique Hull was stunning and Richard Hull was equally as handsome. Some men just got better with age. He was definitely one of them.

“I never used to. Until the day I saw you and Tori together. It was like the both of you had already known each other. Like you had known each other before and were meeting again in a different time. I had never seen anything like it.” Richard turned so he could look at Brett. “I know that you and Tori have been through a lot these past few years. It can’t have been easy for either of you. You never know what the future may hold. What fate has in store for you. All I know is if you live each day to the fullest, you’ll never have to question fate. You’ll never have to face regret. You’ll never have to wish for more. Because you will be able to look back and know that you lived well no matter what fate threw your way.” Brett looked up at Tori’s Dad and saw in his eyes the understanding that she had seen in Tori’s eyes so many times before. Leaning over, she gave him another heart felt embrace.

“Thank you, Uncle Richard… I’ve never had life explained to me quite like that. Tori is so much like you and she’s so very lucky to have you as a father. I really love her a lot Uncle Richard. Whatever fate has in store for us, I promise to live each day to the fullest for however long fate gives us.” Brett was no sooner finished her sentence, when they heard someone clear their throat behind them.

Turning their heads, the two found Tori standing there with a smug look on her face and her arms crossed. Brett and Richard were still locked in an embrace.

“Well now…….. is this something I have to worry about?” Tori loved that her Dad loved Brett as much as she did. It was very important to her that her family approved of her choice in partners.

“What do you think, Brett? Does Tori have anything to worry about?” Richard looked down at Brett and waited for her reply.

“Oh yeah. Definitely. How could a girl resist a gorgeous, debonair, sophisticated, intelligent, warm, funny, not to mention rich…” Brett intended on pulling out every adjective in the book.

“Alright I get the picture. I don’t care if you are my father. You can’t have her. She’s mine.” Tori took a defiant stance.

“I’m sorry Uncle Richard. I’m a sucker for the dark brooding type.” Brett went to Tori and willingly fell into Tori’s possessive arms.

“Women.” He exclaimed shaking his head. “Only another woman could understand them.” He went over to his daughter, kissed her on the forehead, and did the same to Brett. “Seeing you together makes me very happy. Take care of my little girl Brett. She’s a handful at times, but she’s worth every bit of the effort.” Tori rolled her eyes and they both watched as Richard went to go back inside. Before he went in he yelled one last time, “You should come in soon before it gets too cold. Not that you’d notice with the heat that you two give off.” With that, he waved, opened one of the French doors, and went inside.
INSTALLMENT FIFTEEN

“Gosh, I love your Dad. He’s amazing.” Brett snuggled deeper into Tori’s arms lost in the security that she always felt in Tori’s strong embrace.

“Yes he is. I don’t know what I’d do without him. He has always tried to be the best father he could be. Especially since our mom couldn’t be here to raise us.

Tori and Brett stayed in place looking at the stars. Contented to enjoy each other’s company. Tori inhaled the smell of Brett’s shampoo and let out a happy sigh.

“You see that star over there?” Tori pointed to one over to the left.

Brett turned in Tori’s arms and Tori embraced her from behind. “Mm hmm…” Brett nodded gazing at the star that Tori had pointed at, lost in the love that she felt radiating from Tori.

“When we were apart, I used to talk to that star and pretend it was my mom’s.” Tori wrapped her arms even tighter around Brett and rested her head on Brett’s shoulder.

“I used to tell her how much I loved you and how much I desperately needed you in my life. I think she heard my prayers and helped bring us together.” Tori looked up at the star and a smile came to her face.

Brett snuggled even closer and wrapped her arms around Tori’s looking at the star as well. “If you’re listening Mom I’d like to thank you for bringing Tori back to me. I love her with all my heart and I promise to do everything I can to make her happy.” The two watched in wonder as a shooting star chose that moment to streak across the sky.

“I think she heard you.” Tori whispered into Brett’s ear. Turning Brett around, they stared deeply into each other’s eyes, a look of contentment evident on both their faces. The two were so overwhelmed by the moment they both had tears in their eyes.

“I love you Brett. I love you so much.” Both sets of arms swept around each other and with all the love that they felt in their hearts, they conveyed in a kiss.

*******

Like Cinderella, the time had come to say goodnight. It was nine ten and Tori needed to go to the Hull estate to meet her brother, Ian.

“Brett, honey, it’s time for me to go.” Tori moved Brett’s hair away from her eyes and glanced down at the face that she loved.

“I know. I guess we’ve put off the inevitable long enough. Thank you for coming with me today. I’ve really had a wonderful day and an unforgettable weekend. I love you.” Brett reached up and wrapped her arms around Tori ‘s neck.

“I love you too. What are your plans for the week? Do you teach tomorrow?” Tori inquired trying to figure out when they could get together next.

“Actually I won’t be back to school until the 19th. We’re still out for the holidays. Since Grammy and Grampy our going to be here for awhile, I’d like to spend some time with them.” Brett ran her finger through Tori’s hair and massaged her scalp and neck.

“That feels great. You’re going to get me so relaxed I won’t be able to stay awake for my meeting with Ian.” Tori closed her eyes and enjoyed the feel of Brett’s fingers.

“I don’t suppose you’d be up for some company after your meeting tonight? Then I could finish massaging the rest of you.” Brett knew she was pushing it, but she really couldn’t help herself.

Tori tried to estimate how long the meeting would take, the time she would have to get up, if they spent the night together they probably wouldn’t do much sleeping. It was definitely a bad idea. “Okay. How ’bout I come by when I’m done.”

Geez Tori that’s quite a bit of will power you’re displaying.

Shut up. I want this.

Yeah well you’re gonna regret it in the morning.

Am not.

Are Too.

Shut up.

You said that already.

Well obviously, you didn’t hear me the first time.

Brett watched in amusement as Tori stood there having some kind of internal battle with herself. She couldn’t hear what she was thinking but she knew something was going on.

“Tori, honey, if this is going to be a problem for you it’s okay. I know you have to be up early.” Brett took Tori’s hand and ran her lips against her knuckles.

Uh, what she does to me. Tell me you don’t want her.

I never said I didn’t want her it’s just I hate feeling tired. Ooh what is she doing with those lips? Look at those eyes, that skin, what I’d like to do to those…

Excuse me, so are we in agreement?

Yeah screw sleep. Who needs it? It’s very over rated.

Excellent, I thought you’d see it my way.

Well don’t keep the girl waiting….

“Tori, are you okay? You keep fading out on me sweetie.” Brett had never seen Tori like this before.

“No, I’m fine. I’m just deciding what’s the best plan that’s all. It’s a mental thing.” Tori hoped that was enough of an explanation.

“So why don’t I just give you a call tomorrow.” Brett really didn’t want to put Tori out.

“No.” Tori responded a little too loudly. “I’ll be over just as soon as I can. I want to see you.” She said in a calmer tone. Tori stepped closer to Brett and kissed her soundly. “Does that convince you that I want to see you?

“Oh yeah, I believe you. How bout I come over and that way you won’t have to run around in the morning. Then we can have breakfast together and I can see you off.” Brett hoped this would alleviate some of the tension.

“Hmm, I knew there was a reason I fell in love with you. Okay, I’ll call you when I think I’m close to being finished. How does that sound?”

“Perfect.” Brett led Tori to the front door. “I love you. I’ll see you in a bit.”

“Yeah, me to. Have a good time with your family. I’ll see you later.” A quick kiss, Tori headed for the car then turned right back around again.

Brett laughed as she watched Tori come right back. “Did you forget something, honey?”

Tori had the most adorable look on her face. “No, I just didn’t like that kiss. I think we can do better. Don’t you?” Without waiting for an answer, Tori swept Brett in her arms and kissed her in a way that was more suited to her liking. Once finished, she stepped back and watched the effect she had on Brett.

A dazed Brett staggered back in wonder. “O-kay…. well I’m glad you cleared that up. I’m going to go inside now.” Brett turned and unceremoniously walked into the front door. “Oops… I guess it helps if you open it first.” Without another word, she went back in.

Tori laughed at Brett as she turned to go back to the car.

“Well girl. You still got it …..you Heartbreaker.” Tori laughed remembering Brett’s nickname for her.
INSTALLMENT SIXTEEN

It was just 9:30 when Tori entered the house. To her surprise a two-year-old, Marcus, came whizzing by totally unattended.

“What the heck?” Tori went chasing after her nephew, curious to find out where the little tyke was headed.

“Hey Markie, my boy, what ya up to?” Tori laughed as Marcus turned and gave Tori a toothless grin. Running back to her, he raised his arms for her to pick him up.

“Upf… you’re getting heavy…Now why don’t you tell your Auntie Tori why you’re running around here like a maniac.”

Marcus looked at her, gave her another winning smile, and started to giggle.

“I see. Mommy and Daddy have no clue you’ve escaped huh?” Tori swiped him on the nose with her finger.

“Why don’t we go see where Mommy and Daddy are, okay?” Tori went up the stairs to where Pamela and Ian stayed.

As Tori got closer to their room, she could hear Ian and Pamela having a heated discussion.

“Look Ian, I don’t know what I’m feeling. But I’m just not happy……..” Pamela sounded fatigued and rather fed up.

“Pam please. I’ll do anything. Just give me some time. Once everything settles down, we can go to counseling. Whatever you want. It’s just that with everything that’s happening, I’m being pulled in too many directions.” Ian sounded beaten and terribly lost.

“Look Ian. You’re going to have to decided what’s going to come first in your life. Your work or us. We’re not going to be here forever.” Tori heard a slam of the bathroom door and thought it was best if she slipped away unseen.

Bringing Marcus back to his room, she turned on a light on the nightstand near his crib. Turning on the train set that went around the ceiling of his room, she sat in a rocker near the window.

She remembered a song that her mother used to sing to them when they were children. Marcus cuddled up in the crook of her arm and yawned.

“Okay little guy it’s time for you to go to sleep.”

“When the stars fill the sky and moon rises high.
There’s a land that awaits, all the sleeping babes.
It’s a world where your dreams are filled with magic and delight
Where characters are happy and the laughter fills the night.

There are castles, and cottages, and little ponies too.
Where the sheep run cross a meadow full of dew
There are elephants and ostriches and camels from a far
But best of all are bubbles that float up and turn to stars.

So close your eyes and wait for the sandman to arrive
And if you’re lucky he will let you ride, right by his side
Before you know what’s happening you’ll find yourself upon,
A land that’s filled with laughter and with fun

Close your eyes and you’ll see all that’s waiting there.
For all the little boys and girl sleeping everywhere.
When the bright sun rises to meet the morning sky.
You’ll wave goodbye and meet again when you close your eyes.”

By the final stanza, Marcus was well on his way to neverland. Tori kissed him on the head and carefully placed him in his crib. Turning she found her brother waiting for her at the door. He had tears in his eyes and a sad look on his face. She went to him and took him in her arms trying to soothe his pain.

He had been standing there listening to Tori sing the old lullaby that their mother used to sing to them. He hadn’t heard it since their mother passed and it broke his heart. Life seemed so much simpler when they were kids. A part of him wished that life could be that simple again.

The two shared a much needed cry and Tori wished there was more that she could do for her brother.

“Hey guy. What’s going on?” Tori observed her brother. He just wasn’t himself.

“I don’t know. I just feel like everything’s getting away from me. I just don’t know what I can do.” Ian tried to pull himself together, but was failing miserably.

“Look Ian. I’ve got things under control. I can do tomorrow’s meeting with my eyes closed. I’m sorry. I kind of overheard your argument with Pamela and I think you need to concentrate on your family, first and foremost.” She placed an arm around her brother and they went downstairs to the family room. Tori fixed them both a stiff drink and sat beside her brother.

“Tori, you’ve taken on so much already. It isn’t fair. You have to have a life also. I feel like I’m letting everyone down.”

Tori noticed the dejected look on her brother’s face. What’s going on?

“Ian what’s bringing all this on? I know that we’re taking on a lot at work but there’s something else isn’t there?”

She knew that Ian and Pamela had been together since they were teens. Maybe that was it.

“Pam just isn’t happy. We thought another child would be the answer but it’s not. And to tell you the truth, I don’t know what else to do. You know there is no one else for me but her. But I’m starting to think, that she doesn’t feel the same way at all.” Tori knew that they had never dated anyone else and Pamela had never really taken the time to figure out what she wanted besides Ian and the kids.

“Have you thought about counseling or something?” Tori was getting a bad feeling and didn’t like what was going through her head. Not one bit.

“I tried to talk to Pam about it and somehow every time, it seems like it’s always my fault. We’ve got so much going on at work I don’t know what I can do.” Ian really didn’t know what was expected of him. He had loyalties to the family and the business and he had responsibilities to his wife and kids. Something had to give, but what?

“Look Ian, let me handle things at the office. Lucky for you, you have a brilliant sister.” She shot her brother a smug look.

“You are a cocky little shit aren’t you?” Ian loved his sister dearly. She always knew how to get him out of a funk.

“Don’t I know it and don’t you ever forget.” Tori sent a smirk his way.

“Well humility was never your strong point.” He nudged his sister knowing his comment couldn’t be farther from the truth.

“Yeah. But seriously, I have everything under control. Take whatever time you need. The business will be waiting there when you come back.” Tori hoped her brother would take her advice. The conversation she had overheard had really concerned her and she really felt Ian needed to take it seriously.

“But Tor, it’s not fair for you. You never have time to just relax. I haven’t seen you with anybody for the longest time. It’s no life. I can’t ask you to do this.” Ian hated always having his sister bail him out. But that always seemed to be the case.

“First of all, you didn’t ask. I volunteered. And just because you haven’t seen me with anyone doesn’t mean that I’m not.” Victoria wanted to laugh at her brother’s expression on his face. Weren’t expecting that were you?

“Who are you seeing? This is news to me. Did you and Cole get back together?” Ian was so excited. He hated to see his beautiful sister bury herself in the company.

“No it isn’t Cole. It’s Brett.” Tori waited to see her brother’s reaction.

“Brett? Brett who? Do I know him?” Ian sat there running through all the people he knew and then the light came on. “Brett! Oh my gosh. Yu’re, you’re, you’re…. Brett is….. you are….. when did this? How can….?” Ian, unable to finish his thought, just sunk into the couch stunned. After a long moment, he final got it. “You’re a lesbian.” It wasn’t a question, it was just stated like a fact.

“Well, I’m really bi-sexual, if you have to label me. And that doesn’t really describe me completely. If there was a category called ‘Brett’, I’d fit perfectly in that one.” With all her experience, the one thing she knew for sure was that Brett did it for her. Like no other man or woman ever could.

“Brett. Wow. Well I’ll give you one thing, you sure have great taste. Cole is amazing. And Brett….. Well, she has to be the cutest, no….. adorable, no….. sweetest….. Well you know what I mean. Way to go sis. So……. what’s she like?” Ian…. take away the exterior and he was a dog at heart.

” Hey. I’m not going to sit here and discuss that with you.” Tori put on an offended look.

“Oh come on. This is your big brother. Just think? Now you and I have something else in common. This is great. I can give you tips and you can give me tips as well.” Ian nudged his sister and gave her a wink and a smile.

“Uhhhh… I don’t think so.” Tori shook her head not very comfortable with revealing that much to her brother.

“Okay…Listen. I’m happy for you sis. Brett’s a great gal. I know you two were always close. It makes sense somehow.” Ian turned and gave his sister a hug.

“Thanks. That seems to be everyone’s reaction so far.” Tori was relieved that so far everyone was being so supportive.

“Hey? You don’t think? I mean first Adrian and Alexi announce they’re a couple. And now you and Brett? You don’t think it’s the water do you?” Ian held a straight face as long as he could and then burst into laughter.

“You are such a jerk. You know that?” Tori punched her brother in the arm and pushed him away.

“Hey what’s going on in here?” The two looked up to find Pamela at the entrance of the family room.

“Hey Pamela, how are you?” Tori got up off the couch and went over to her sister in law.

“I’m alright, sweetie. A little run down but I’m hanging in there. How about you?” Tori and Pamela had gotten to be good friends during the years. Especially when Tori dated her brother Cole.

“I’m good. Great in fact. I was just telling Ian a bit of news.” Will this ever end. Now how do I break the news to Pam? Pam knew that her and her brother saw other people but didn’t know how she’d react to this bit of news.

“Really? Something good I hope? I could really use some good news.” Pamela stood there in anticipation.

Well here goes nothing. “Pam…….. I’m dating Brett Montgomery.” Tori waited to see what Pamela’s reaction would be.

“Well it’s about time. Does Cole know? I’ve always thought that you two were destined to be together. Don’t get me wrong I love Cole. But you and Brett had something. I don’t know…I can’t put my finger on it. That’s great!” Pamela went over to Tori and gave her a big hug.

“Okay….. did everyone know about Brett and I? All this time I thought everyone would be against this?” Tori just stood there perplexed. Maybe I should have just told Brett when we were younger. Oh well, no use crying over spilt milk as they say. But what a waste of time. Tori sighed and resigned herself to enjoying her life with Brett now.

“I didn’t know. Well not until now.” Ian looked at his wife and sister.

“Yeah well………” Tori shrugged her shoulders and lifted up a hand. As if to say, ‘you’re a little slow on the uptake’. Tori and Pamela exchanged a look and they started to laugh.

“Hey what is that supposed to mean?” Ian didn’t like being the brunt of a joke.

“It’s alright honey, we understand.” Pamela went over to Ian and sat on his lap. “I love you anyway.”

“You do?” Ian gave his wife a very sad look. Hoping that it wasn’t too late.

“Yes I do. I know I haven’t showed it lately, but I do.” Pamela bent down and gave Ian a kiss. The two just needed to get some help.

“Well guys, I’m going to head over to Brett now. You have a great evening.” Tori really wanted them to talk. Hopefully, they would be able to now.

“But what about tomorrow? We were supposed to go over the negotiation?” Ian lifted his head and questioned his sister.

“And I told you I’d handle it. This is where you need to be.” She pointed at the two of them. “Believe me. I’m keeping track of all the favors you owe me. Paybacks are a bitch and I plan on collecting sometime.” Tori gave her brother an evil grin then softened her smile. “I’m serious. You two go and take as much time as you need. The company will still be there when you get back. What you two have may not, if you don’t take steps to improve it.” Tori’s eyes focused on Pamela and saw the tears in her eyes. Tori went over to the couch and crouched down in front of them. She wiped the tears away from Pamela’s face.

“Honey, believe me when I say this. It’s no better out there……” Tori motioned her head to the door. “…..than it is here.” She looked at the two of them.

“There are people out there who would kill to have what you two have. And there are no guarantees once you walk out that door. Figure out what makes you happy and everything will fall into place.” Tori leaned over and kissed Pamela on the forehead. “You’re not alone sweetie. You have a family that cares about you and are willing to help you get through this. Whatever you need…”

Pamela lifted her arm up from behind Ian’s neck and turned to hug Tori. “Thank you. You don’t know how much I needed to hear that. Ian tries, but it just sounds different coming from you.”

Tori smiled and looked at her. She rubbed Pamela’s back. Pulling away, she gave them each a cocky grin. “I know. The girls just love me.” Pamela laughed and Ian just rolled his eyes. “I was just telling Ian how brilliant I was.”

“Out… get out! You have a girlfriend. You’re not smooth talking my wife as well.” Ian pointed at the door and gathered his wife back into his arms. “Mine.” He flashed Tori a smile.

“Well, I know when I’m not wanted.” Tori stood up from her position on the floor. “You know, I hear the skiing is great in Colorado this year. Maybe you two should check it out. I know you pay your nanny a lot of money and I’m sure Dad, Aunt Diane, and Uncle Paul would love to baby sit their grandkids. I could stay here after work and help while you’re gone. Especially since Brett’s going to be out here while her Grandparents are here. So you see… now would be a perfect time for you to get away together. Just the two of you.” Tori smiled, held out her hands and pointed to them.

“Oh Ian…could we? I really like that idea.” Pamela gave her husband a hopeful look.

“Okay honey. I’ll call the travel agent in the morning.” Pam threw her arms around her husband, buried her head in his neck, sobbing uncontrollably.

Tori waved to her brother and started walking backwards toward the door.

Ian waved and mouthed the words “thank you” to his sister.

Tori nodded and soundlessly said “I love you” with a wink in return.
INSTALLMENT SEVENTEEN
Leaving the two behind, she grabbed her coat and purse and went to the garage. Turning the light on in the 10 car garage she went over to the fourth bay. She pulled off the car cover and there like a thing of beauty, lay Tori’s pride and joy. It was a fully loaded, highly polished, silver Aston Martin. She got goose bumps and chills up and down her spine, whenever she saw her car. She loved her toys, but didn’t have a chance to use them that often.

“Ooh baby, come to Mama.” Tori opened the door and slid into the Black Conolly leather seats. She sat there for a moment with her hands on the Metallic and walnut steering wheel. Reaching over, she ran her hand across the walnut wood finish on the dashboard, then checked her mirrors. Hitting the garage door opener, she flipped down the visor and the keys fell into her lap. She picked them up, put them in the ignition, turned, and the car came to life. She hit the power on her Alpine system and popped in Peter Gabriel’s So, also known as the White album. She hit select and “In your eyes” came on.

Placing the car in reverse, she backed out into the crystal clear night. She wished she could put the Black leather top down but it was much too cold for that. Looking at the clock it was 10:30. She hoped it wasn’t too late for Brett. she really wanted to see her. I’ll just wake up early and look over the contracts. I know all the points anyway. I’m the one who pursued the contract.

She turned up the volume on the CD player. She loved this song. Placing the car in drive, she headed down the driveway and out the gates singing along with the music.
‘Love I get so lost, sometimes
Days pass and this emptiness fills my heart
When I want to run away
I drive off in my car
But whichever way I go
I come back to the place you are’

Tori shifted gears and felt the power of the engine kick in.

‘All my instincts, they return
And the grand façade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

In your eyes
The light the heat
In your eyes
I am complete
In your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
In your eyes
The resolution of all the fruitless searches’

Images of Brett’s face filled Tori’s head and tears came with the thought of her.

‘In your eyes
I see the light and the heat
In your eyes
Oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light
The heat I see in your eyes.’

She thought about how everyone seemed to know that they belonged together. She remembered the look of pain on Brett’s face. The day she walked away at the ice cream parlor when they were kids. The night in Michigan when Brett walked away to be with Jenna. And the other night when Brett cried in her arms.

‘Love, I don’t like to see so much pain
So much wasted and this moment keeps slipping away
I get so tired of working so hard for our survival
I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive’

They were together now and nothing was going to keep them apart. She spotted the Montgomery home and turned into their driveway waiting for a response from the intercom at the gate.

“Montgomery residence.”

“Hi Philip. It’s Victoria Hull.”

“Yes Miss Hull. I’ll let the family know you are coming.”

Tori waited for the gates to open and proceeded down the long driveway.

The song continued to play.

‘And all my instincts, they return
And the grand façade so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside.’

Tori pulled the car around to the front and found Brett happily waiting for her. She turned up the volume on the CD player and got out of the car to meet Brett. Taking Brett in her arms, they danced while she finished singing the song to her.

‘In your eyes
The light the heat
In your eyes
I am complete
In your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
In your eyes
The resolution of all the fruitless searches
In your eyes
I see the light and the heat
In your eyes
Oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light.
The heat I see in your eyes
In your eyes, In your eyes
In your eyes, In your eyes
In your eyes, In your eyes’

The drums faded away and all that was left was the beating of their hearts. Tori bent down and captured Brett’s lips wanting her to feel all the love she felt for her.

“I love you little one. I love you so much.” Tori leaned her cheek against Brett’s forehead and they just floated on the strength of their connection.

“I love you too. No one’s ever made me feel like you do.” Brett soaked in every ounce of love that poured out between them. She had never felt so blissfully happy.

“I thought you were going to call me when your meeting was over?” They continued to share sweet kisses along every inch of accessible skin.

“I was, but I just couldn’t wait.” Tori loved the feel of Brett’s skin against her mouth and the smell of her perfume.

“Well aren’t I lucky.” Brett enjoyed the feel of Tori’s mouth nibbling her earlobe.

“You don’t know how true that statement is.” Tori whispered into Brett’s ear.

“Are you saying I’m going to get lucky?”

“Most definitely.” Tori turned and tasted Brett’s lips.

“Well, then what are we doing standing out here?”, she murmured against Tori’s mouth.

“Do you have to say goodbye to anyone inside?” Brett turned her head from side to side not wanting to stray from Tori’s lips.

“Well then get in the car. I’m going to give you the ride of your life.” Tori took Brett’s hand, opened the passenger side door and helped her get in. She grabbed the seat belt and reached over to make sure that Brett was secure.

“Why, thank you.” Brett whispered. As Tori started to stand straight up.

“Anytime.” Tori gave Brett another kiss, shut the door, and went over to the driver’s side.

“Tori, this is beautiful.” Brett looked around the car in appreciation.

“No…. this is nice.” She made a show of the car. “You’re beautiful.” Tori leaned over and gave Brett another kiss.

“You sure know how to sweet talk a girl.”

“I try my best.” The two continued to take pleasure in each other’s kiss. “You want to see what this baby can do?”

“I already have, but I’m always willing to take a spin.” Brett gave Tori an adorable look.

“Oh boy, I think I’ve met my match.” Tori just adored everything about Brett. No one made her feel such joy. It was intoxicating.

“You sure have and don’t you ever forget it.”

“I don’t intend to.” She lovingly lavished Brett with more kisses.

“Ooh, can we put the top down.” Brett squealed with excitement.

“Uh, Uh…I’m not taking a chance at getting my girl sick. I promise in the spring when the weathers nice, you and I can go somewhere for a nice long ride.” Tori placed the loose strands of Brett’s hair behind her ear and smiled appreciatively at her.

“Ooh, you and me on the open road. I like it.” Brett’s eyes sparkled at the thought of the two of them together a few months from now.

“Me too. Now come on…. Let’s get out of here.” Tori put the car in gear and headed out on to the main road. Seeing the time, she decided they should probably just head home.

*****
They arrived back at the estate and Tori and Brett made their way to Tori’s bedroom. They had spent so many nights together in this room as children. Having Brett in her room now was like fulfilling some kind of childhood fantasy for her.

“So shall we play dress up?” Brett asked Tori coyly.

“I was thinking more along the lines of dress down actually.” Tori was fiddling with the bottom of Brett’s sweater. Actually her sweater if you thought about it.

“Ooh that sounds a lot better.” Tori lifted the sweater over Brett’s head and dropped it to the floor.

“I think it’s your turn.” Brett reached over, pulled Tori’s sweater over her head, and planted a kiss on Tori’s chest. All the while the two headed in the direction of the bed.

“Hmm, if I remember correctly, you have something of mine?” Tori’s hands went around Brett’s waist and slid her hands inside the back of Brett’s jeans.

“Did you find what you were looking for?” Brett felt Tori’s hand massage her backside.

“I think so, but I’m going to have to get a better look so I can identify them.” Tori took her hands out from their position, reached down, and unbuttoned the fly on Brett’s jeans. Brett then kicked off her shoes. Finally reaching the bed, Brett laid back and allowed Tori to slip them off her.

When she was finished, Brett sat up and watched Tori step between her legs. Sitting up to gain better access, Brett unbuttoned Tori’s pants and licked her lips as they fell down around Tori’s ankles. Slipping off her shoes, Tori stepped out of her jeans. Placing one knee on the bed, she gently laid Brett back down, kissed her, and slid her body down on top of her.

“I love you.” Brett loved the feel of Tori’s smooth body on top of her.

“I love you, too.” ,showering Brett with soft affectionate kisses.

With tender desire and intimate touches, the two lost themselves in their passion for each other. This wasn’t the urgency that was shared earlier, but a slow loving exploration of each other’s body and soul. Their eyes would constantly meet and their love clearly evident with each glance.

Tori slid her hand to Brett’s hip and slipped the panties off Brett. Bringing them to her lips, she could smell Brett’s arousal on them. She inhaled deeply loving the scent of Brett on her panties.

“Oh yeah, they’re definitely mine.” She placed the panties to the side and continued her journey across Brett’s body feeling more aroused then she had ever remembered being.

“I thought I owed you a massage?” Brett whispered.

“We’ll get to that eventually. Right now I have other things in mind.” Tori reached over and turned off the light. Happy to spend the rest of the night lost in one another. Work be damned. Right now, pleasuring Brett was the only job Tori had in mind and she planned to do it with flying colors. Besides, after all was said, it was just the beginning and Tori was far from getting started when it came to loving Brett Montgomery. There was so much more that she had planned for her childhood friend and their life together. She planned to fulfill every single one of her dreams, and desires adding to them all that Brett had for her. Taking the beautiful blonde in her arms, Tori lovingly captured lips that infused with her own. Their friendship had survived and their love was maturing into a beautiful chiaroscuro of light and shade. No matter where they went from here, they knew without a doubt that it would be together.
THE END
Continued in Book 3 Full Steam Ahead

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