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September 1991 4 страница





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"Hey, you still with me?" Torrey interrupted the dark-haired woman's reminiscing.

"Sorry, I was just thinking. How are you holding up, Little Bit?"

Torrey looked up as fresh tears began to slide down her cheeks.

"Damn that woman. Almost twenty years and she's still finding ways to fuck with my life!"

"Oh, honey, she can't hurt you anymore," Taylor whispered, wiping away the tears with a caress of her fingertips. "She can't hurt you now unless you let her. Don't give her that kind of power."

Torrey nodded in agreement with the dark-haired woman, her tears falling onto the starched white linen of the artist's shirt.

"I'm going to ruin your shirt." Torrey warned.

"I don't give a damn." The artist responded, tightening her hold on the woman in her embrace.

 

"Tay?" Jessica whispered again, the artist finally showing some signs of life. "I need to ask you something."

"Geez, Jess, what time is it?" The artist responded.

She and Torrey had again spent the night on the couch, the writer murmuring in her sleep, her small form tucked within Taylor's loving embrace. Taylor felt like they just went to sleep, which was pretty close to the truth.

"It's six o'clock. Hey, don't you guys have beds that are more comfortable?" JT teased.

"Shut up, squirt and what do you have to ask?" Taylor whispered.

"Can I take the Explorer into Laguna and pick up lox and bagels for breakfast?"

"Mmm hmm." Taylor nodded, already drifting off again.

Jessica smiled at the picture the two women made on the oversized sofa. The young woman pulled the comforter over them and ran out to pick up breakfast.

Taylor unconsciously snuggled closer to the woman spooned against her, burying her face in the blonde hair. Torrey felt, rather than heard the conversation above her, not wanting to break from sleep's spell quite yet. She pressed her back into the dark-haired woman's chest; hearing a low growl of satisfaction and feeling it vibrate out from the woman behind her. A smile curled at her lips as she listened to the gentle snores that escaped from Taylor, the noises quickly becoming a comfort sound to the petite writer.

 

Jessica walked into the kitchen, depositing her treasures on the counter and noticed that someone already made tea and coffee. That's when she heard it. She couldn't be sure, but the voices definitely belonged to her two moms, and the sounds were definitely not ones she ever heard them make before.

"Oh, God, yesss, right there." Taylor groaned. "Who in the world taught you this?"

"I think it was you," Torrey laughed.

"I am such a smart woman." Came Taylor's breathless reply.

"Quit squirming around so much."

"I can't help it...it feels incredible, oh yea."

"I can't believe that not one other woman has done this for you in fifteen years"

"I just haven't been...oh, yes...able to find anyone...God, harder...whose hands are as talented as yours."

"Oooh, I definitely think I've got the spot, now." Torrey said.

Taylor merely groaned her reply. "Oh, you're definitely in the right spot...there, right there...almost...now, press your hand harder, right there...oh, God!" The artist's voice started at a purr and finished at nearly a yell.

Jessica had no idea what she was going to do, but the only thing that came to mind was either leave the way she came or make a lot of noise and walk in. She chose the latter in case the two older women heard her by this time. Clearing her throat and coughing loudly, she entered the living area just as an audible pop resounded through the room.

Taylor sat on the floor against the couch that her mother was sitting on. Torrey rubbed the artist's neck a few more times and another pop was heard from Taylor's neck. Finally the woman on the floor twisted and turned her neck and shoulders, declaring herself pain free.

"Hi, honey, heard you got breakfast?" Torrey asked her daughter. "You okay, your face is all red?"

"Yea," JT's hand went to her face, feeling the heat coming from her skin. "Uhm, I'm fine...breakfast is served."

Taylor stood and pulled the smaller woman up from the couch. Jessica shook her head as they passed in front of her to the kitchen. I have got to get a grip.

 

Breakfast turned into a leisurely affair with Torrey and Jessica using all the persuasive powers in their arsenal to talk Taylor into tasting a bite of Nova lox. The artist finally relented, stating that the two would never let her hear the end of it if she didn't at least try some. Mother and daughter nodded their agreement and Taylor took a small bite of the bagel loaded with cream cheese and tomato, topped with the salmon.

Torrey found the look on Taylor's face to be priceless. The artist seemed to be trying to chew the fish without having it actually touch her tongue.

"Oh, honey spit it out. I can't watch you go through that torture!" Torrey laughed.

The food was devoured, Jessica was thanked, and the two older women left the table for their respective morning workouts.

Torrey appeared on the patio to stretch and prepare her muscles for her morning Tai Chi routine. JT sat at the kitchen table, sketch pad and pencils in hand, drawing quick sketches of her mother's actions. When Torrey sat back on her heels, Jessica knew that she would be that way for a few minutes, meditating or doing whatever she did that put her into the state of relaxation and concentration.

Taylor touched JT's shoulder as she passed by and the young woman smiled up at the artist. Before they had a chance to speak, Taylor was out the patio door and knelt down slightly behind and to the right of Torrey.

It was as if no time at all had passed as Torrey felt the familiar presence behind her without having to turn and look. She took a little longer preparing her mind to begin than she usually did. So many thoughts and feelings were running around her head concerning the woman at her side, that she wasn't sure she would be able to achieve the first level of relaxation necessary.

Finally the movements began. Jessica was held in awe at the fluidity of the matching motions. The two women exuded a power and a grace that spread outwards like a whirlpool. At first Taylor had her eyes open, watching the small woman in front of her. Eventually, both women progressed in their routine so that their eyes were closed, each of their actions in perfect balance by its twin.

Jessica sat there, staring through the window out onto the patio, completely transfixed at the sight. All her life she had watched her mother's routine and found that it appeared to her unconsciousness as if something were missing. In the last five months she watched the dark-haired artist perform the same ritual, Jessica still feeling that she was watching something incomplete.

Now, gazing at the slow, methodical movements of each woman, Jessica felt the memory. This time it wasn't fleeting, causing her to think it a dream. This was a true, physical recollection of a time past. She remembered the sun shining in through patio doors, the sound of the ocean outside the window, and the two women, moving as they were now; light and dark, two halves of a whole. As she remained hypnotized by the sight before her, Jess finally felt what had been missing in the past, why she had such a sense of incompleteness when viewing the scene. There was only one way her brain pictured this ritual, and it was as a duo, not a single.

 

"You want to go with tonight?" Taylor asked, smoothing the lines of a wood sculpture with a rasp.

Torrey sat on a stool in the art studio watching the artist at work. Taylor wore a long sleeve t-shirt with the sleeves pulled up just past her forearms. Torrey's heart kept skipping beats when she would stare down at the artist's tanned forearms, muscles and tendons bunching, then flexing under the skin. The blonde writer thought it was about the sexiest thing she'd ever seen.

"I'd love to, that is if it doesn't bother the two of you."

"We can check with Jess, but you know how I feel."

They didn't have to elaborate, she knew how the artist felt. Torrey went to AA with Taylor for years before the two separated. The writer's presence was always a comforting beacon for the dark-haired woman.

"Here put this on, I'm going to use the sander." Taylor held out a paper mask.

The whine of the motor revved up and finally wound down as Taylor ran her hands over the newly smoothed surface.

"That is so amazing." Torrey complimented the artist.

"You want to try?"

"Oh no, Stretch...I might ruin it."

"Bullshit, it's just a hunk of wood, you can't ruin it. Here, you can do it with me."

Taylor seated Torrey on the same stool she sat on, slightly in front of her. The first thing she knew she was going to have trouble with was the feel of the small blonde as she sat between Taylor's outstretched legs. They put their masks in place and Taylor showed Torrey how to grasp the sander in a firm grip, the artist's hands covering Torrey's. Once the sander was turned on and began gliding across the surface of the wood, Torrey couldn't help focusing on those muscular forearms as they helped the smaller woman control the piece of equipment.

Taylor was just as focused, but on the strong biceps that stretched as the small woman held on to the sander. Torrey had on a tight tank top and her arms and shoulders were quickly covered in a fine wood dust. Taylor had a grin on her face underneath her mask, watching the writer. Torrey attempted everything with the unbridled enthusiasm of a child and this was no exception. The writer's sea-green eyes sparkled with excitement and when Taylor shut the sander off, and Torrey turned her head, the innocent glance turned into a white-hot bolt of desire to the artist.

 

Torrey finally met everyone that Taylor and Jessica knew in their group. The small writer immediately liked Natalie, the woman's no nonsense attitude and sense of humor was refreshing. As always after their meeting, people stood about talking and sharing. Torrey couldn't keep track of how many people came up to her and explained how great a girl they thought Jessica was. The petite blonde knew what a struggle fighting an addiction could be. She lived with Taylor's first year and it made her even more proud of her daughter.

Taylor stood off to one side talking to an auburn-haired woman just a few inches taller than Torrey was. When she met the artist's eyes, Taylor motioned for her to join them.

"Tor, I want you to meet someone. This is Emily, Corey's mom." Taylor said, turning to Emily she continued. "Em, this is Jessica's mother, Torrey."

Torrey didn't have words for the woman before her. All at once she was heartbroken and guilty. She ached for the woman's loss, but she felt full of remorse that she should still have her daughter, healthy and recovering. Torrey did what she would want someone to do for her. Instead of coldly shaking the hand that the woman offered, she wrapped her arms around the woman's shoulders and whispered in her ear.

Taylor never found out what Torrey said to Corey's mother. It seemed a private moment between mothers, so she never asked. The whispered words were enough to somewhat shatter the woman's veneer of self-control. She began to cry and Torrey led her to a couple of chairs that were out of everyone's line of sight. The two stayed seated there long after everyone else left for the evening. Natalie stood by Taylor as they glanced over at the two women.

"She's pretty incredible." Natalie said, indicating Torrey.

Taylor watched as Torrey sat with Emily. The writer acted, much like she did everyday, with everyone she met. Her sparkling smile shone brightly and she held Emily's hand as she spoke to her. Gently brushing tears away from the other woman's cheek, Torrey was the picture of compassion and Taylor loved her for it.

"Yes, she certainly is." Taylor responded after long minutes of watching the petite blonde and her loving manner.

 

"I was kind of thinking of a trip to San Diego, Stretch. Can you get away?" Torrey inquired.

The Japanese garden became Torrey's favorite spot in this house, as Taylor had always known it would be. They sat enjoying the quiet as Taylor took a break from the dirty task of polishing and grinding.

"Absolutely." The artist answered without hesitation, mentally calculating the time she had left before her show and what she had yet to do. Samantha took care of all the little details, but there were always old friends and colleagues Taylor liked to personally invite to her shows.

Taylor knew that a trip to San Diego meant Torrey wanted to visit the artist's mother and that fact would make Jean Kent a very happy woman. The two women became very close in a short amount of time; the writer looking at the older woman as the mother she always wanted. Taylor wondered what kind of contact the two had kept up in the last fifteen years. She could have simply asked either Torrey or her mother, but it seemed like it was none of her business. As if their relationship were private since Taylor and Torrey separated.

"Am I presuming too much to say it's to see mom?" Taylor questioned.

"Not presuming at all," the blonde smiled over at the artist seated next to her. "I sent your mom a Mother's Day gift that's going to require JT's expertise to set up." She finished cryptically.

Taylor raised an eyebrow, but never asked. "What kind of time are we talking?"

"I was thinking just the weekend. I don't want to take you away from your work too long."

Taylor laughed at the comment. "Now, do you think if I came down with you and Jess, mom would let us get away with a weekend? What do you say to leaving tomorrow and coming back Sunday?"

"I'd say that would be great."

Jessica's face peeked out the door. "I'm making avocado salad for lunch. Anyone interested?"

Torrey raised her hand, nodding, Taylor just raised an eyebrow at the young woman.

"It's mom's recipe." Jessica said to the artist with exasperation.

"Oh, okay. Count me in then...as long as you use your mom's recipe...and your mom makes it."

"You think you're so funny." Jess returned.

Torrey laughed at the playful banter between the two.

"Mom, please don't laugh, it only encourages her to abuse me more." JT deadpanned.

"Okay, I promise." Torrey responded, holding up her right hand. "Jess, how would you like to take a trip to San Diego for the rest of the week? Think you can pull yourself away from Val for a while?"

"Sounds great. To see grandma?"

Torrey nodded without looking over Taylor. She could only imagine the look the artist had on her face.

"Yea, that sounds great, mom. Okay, I'm going to fix lunch, it'll be ready in about a half hour." She said, reentering the house.

Torrey finally looked over at the artist, looking back at her, and she would have laughed out loud at the look on the woman's face, had it not been so serious. Taylor had the appearance of a man who'd just been told he was the long lost father of a seventeen-year-old.

"I'm sorry, Stretch, I should have told you. You know how your mom is, she insisted that Jess call her that, and you know how persuasive your mom can be. I should have checked with you first."

"No, honey, it's allright," Taylor laughed at herself a little. "I guess it's just one of those things that threw me. I didn't really know how much contact you and Jess had with mom. I know she loves you, though and it doesn't appear that a child will be coming from me in the future so it makes me happy that mom has at least one grandchild to spoil."

"Are you sure?"

"Absolutely." The artist turned a sparkling white smile on the small blonde. "Do you...talk to mom a lot?" Taylor could have kicked herself for asking. She never sounded more like a snoop to her own ears than right now.

Torrey couldn't suppress the smile that graced her features. She knew it was killing her friend to ask about her personal life.

"We talk a lot, yea. Jess has never met her, though. It's nice, having a mom sometimes, I just hope you don't mind me borrowing her?" Torrey looked up, concern in her eyes.

"You deserve a mom who can make you feel special, Tor. And, no, it doesn't bother me in the least." Taylor understood how much Torrey, of all people, needed a positive matriarchal figure in her life after the one the luck of the draw had saddled her with. "Come on, let's go see how much trouble Jess has gotten herself into."

"By the way, Tor. Do you mind me asking what you got mom for Mother's Day? It's driving me crazy."

Torrey chuckled and slipped her arm around the artist's waist as they made their way inside.

"A computer."

"My mother and a computer? Why does that scare the hell out of me?" Taylor asked.

"It should...I gave her your e-mail address." Torrey said, quickly ducking through the doorway in time to avoid the hand that came swinging at her backside.

 

Taylor finished putting the bags in the Explorer as the three women prepared to leave. Jean Kent was overjoyed when Taylor called to tell her they would be coming down for a visit. Being Jean, she refused to take no for an answer to having them stay with her instead of a motel and Taylor said a silent thank you. The artist enjoyed staying in the house she grew up in and was anxious for Jess to see it. She also wanted some time with Torrey alone and this way she wouldn't feel too guilty if Jess had Jean around for just one evening.

Torrey walked out of the front door, windbreaker in hand. The day would turn warmer later, but right now there was a chill in the air and the famous Southern California sun was hiding behind rain clouds. The small blonde stretched and yawned, making a delicious sort of whimpering noise to Taylor's ears. The sound hit the dark-haired artist right between the legs and she had to drag her eyes from the sight or she would certainly find herself doing something that would be embarrassing.

Point Loma was a beautiful small town on the oceanfront of San Diego. Taylor grew up healthy and happy in the small neighborhood that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. She was a Navy brat, but her mother insisted they needed a home base of sorts. So the year after Taylor was born, her parents built this home practically within sight of the closest Naval Air Station.

"It's as beautiful as ever, Stretch." Torrey said in a broken voice as they pulled into the driveway.

Jean Kent was waiting and she wasn't disappointed with the sight of the three women exiting the vehicle. Her daughter had been to visit at Christmas time, but seeing Torrey and her grown daughter was a tonic for the old woman's soul. She had watched and waited as fifteen years went by, neither Torrey nor her daughter ever expressing their passion for the other. With every year that went by she had to force herself not to step in and intervene. She too, believed as the small blonde did, that everything happens for a reason and in its own time. She had an uncanny feeling, however, that if these two didn't verbalize their thoughts and emotions to each other now, they might never have another chance.

Jean was out the door as fast as her legs could move her sixty-five year old body. She hugged Taylor first, the tall woman having to lean down to place a kiss on the woman's cheek. She and Torrey both had tears in their eyes by the time their embrace was complete.

"Absolutely beautiful." Jean said as she took a good look at the woman before her. Torrey had sent pictures as the years passed, but it was never the same. She always knew this girl would grow into a beautiful woman, and from the adoration that still sparkled in her daughter's eyes it seemed the artist still felt the same way too.

"Mom, this is your granddaughter, Jessica." Taylor said standing behind the young woman, her hands on JT's shoulders.

Torrey smiled as the young woman shyly approached the older woman, but within two minutes, Jean had the girl laughing and smiling. The writer especially enjoyed the way Taylor introduced Jess and the pride in the artist's voice. It was a moment that Torrey had waited on for quite some time. It was as close to a family moment as they had been in fifteen years, and her heart felt like pounding right out of her chest. She couldn't remember feeling this happy in a good long time.

 

"Way to go, Grandma...I knew you had it in you!" Jessica's voice could be heard from the upstairs study.

Jessica and Jean were sequestered in the study, the girl trying to give computer instruction to the older woman. The young woman was trying to teach years worth of computer knowledge in the few days they had to spend there. Tomorrow they were supposed to leave and Jessica was feeling a little down. She actually loved being around the older woman, her take no prisoners approach to learning the computer making Jessica smile.

Taylor and Torrey were enjoying the time to do absolutely nothing as they sat in the family room. It had been entirely too long since the women sat in this room talking about everything under the sun.

Jessica came to the top of the stairs and shouted to the two women below.

"Grandma sent her first e-mail." She said proudly.

"To who?" Taylor asked with a worried frown as Torrey slapped her in the arm.

"To me." Jessica answered, returning to the study.

"I can just see it now," Taylor said to Torrey as the blonde walked into the kitchen and returned with more iced tea. "My mom will be e-mailing me like mad. I'll have to listen to that damned 'you've got mail' message fifty times a day!" She hissed.

Torrey laughed and stood over the dark-haired woman.

"Think that's funny, do ya, Little Bit? I'll get you for this, you know."

Torrey put on her Taylor stare, complete with menacing eyebrow arch and slowly took the two steps to the sofa where the artist sat.

"Oh, really?" Torrey growled, placing one knee on the couch between the artist's legs and kneeling to within inches of the woman's body.

"And, just what makes you think you're woman enough to get me, as you put it?" She finished.

There was complete silence for what seemed like an eternity. Torrey quickly realized whom she was talking to and just how that comment came out sounding. She also recognized that while she was used to flirting and playing with sexual innuendo, Taylor was definitely not used to hearing it come from her.

In the meantime, Taylor's spine simply turned to hot melted butter. The heat that she felt rising from her own body couldn't compare to the rapidly pounding pulse in her ears. The mischievous glint in the writer's eyes was so teasingly erotic that Taylor swallowed hard before speaking.

"Torrey...would you go out with me tonight?"

Torrey was enjoying the feeling of sexual power over her dark-haired friend. The artist may have not been interested in her that way, but to Torrey's eyes, she was definitely human. Taylor's eyes turned slightly glassy and her tanned skin began to flush slightly.

"What?" Torrey asked in surprise.

Damn Kent! What the hell are you thinking about? This is Torrey, remember?

"I, uhm...well, remember you were my date when we came here together the first time. I thought maybe we could...you know, do it again.

Oh, yes, love...'doing it' with you is exactly what I dream about, Torrey thought to herself. Okay, snap out of it woman!

"That sounds like fun, Stretch." Torrey responded pulling herself away and looking the picture of innocence, while Taylor looked a bit more uncomfortable than she usually did around her old friend.

 

"You sure you don't mind, honey?" Torrey asked leaning over her daughter's shoulder, watching the young woman sketch quick images on a graphics tablet that materialized on the computer screen.

"Huh?" Jessica asked in a distracted tone.

"I guess that answers my question."

"Oh, I'm sorry, mom." JT turned around, giving her mother a quick smile.

"I just wanted to know if you mind if Taylor and I go out tonight."

"God, no...go." The young woman blurted out, realizing by the look on her mother's face that she sounded a little too enthusiastic. "I just mean that you two could use a little down time. I'll be allright. Besides it's our last night here and Grandma and I are gonna play on the computer and eat junk food all night, she promised."

Torrey chuckled at her daughter's idea of a fun night.

 

Taylor looked at her watch again. She leaned against the back of the sofa and yawned. Why is it the older Torrey gets the longer it takes her to get ready? The artist fidgeted in her seat. She dressed with a bit more style than in her college days, but nothing ever felt as good to her as jeans and a t-shirt. She stood up and smoothed her black leather slacks out, pulling at the cuffs of a blue silk blouse. She leaned her head back to let out another yawn, but she made the mistake of trying to gasp at the same time and suddenly felt herself without enough air to breathe.

Torrey came down the stairs; still putting her earrings in, looking like she just stepped from the set of some movie. The petite blonde wore a royal blue, one-piece pantsuit that plunged at the neckline. She had a white jacket over it, with her sleeves as she always wore them, pulled up to the elbows. Truth be known she wasn't trying to make a fashion statement with the jacket, but when your arms were two inches shorter than the rest of humanity, that's what you did. She had on high heels that Taylor didn't think looked comfortable, but the writer seemed unaffected. It was a little disconcerting for the artist, however. She was used to looking down at Torrey and the heels put the smaller woman quite a bit closer to Taylor's level than usual.

Taylor was certain she could feel her heart missing about every other beat, watching her friend cross the room and give Jessica a quick hug.

"Ready when you are, Stretch." Torrey said with a smile.

Taylor thought she opened her mouth to say something intelligent, but the only sounds she seemed capable of making at the moment were small whimpers. She gave Torrey a weak smile and held the front door open, silently chanting a mantra in her head.

I can control myself... I can control myself... I can control myself... I can control myself...

 

"Can I ask you a personal question, Tor?" Taylor asked as they strolled along a deserted pier, watching the nighttime surf roll in.

"You know you don't have to preface a question to me like that, Stretch."

Taylor looked a little uncomfortable, but still she wanted to know. "I noticed you brought your laptop with you, but I haven't seen you use it since you've been here. Is there a problem?"

"I'm on vacation," Torrey tried to sound flip, but she forgot that she couldn't hide much from this woman.

"Uh, huh...well, it's funny because I used to watch you write nearly every idle minute of the day. What's going on, Tor?"

"Did you read my last book?" Torrey asked.

"Of course. It was great."

"You didn't see anything...different about it?"

"I don't know. Maybe like you were holding back a little, but I figured with the problems you were having with Jess and all..." Taylor trailed off.

Now that Torrey brought it up, Taylor had noticed something odd about her friend's latest literary effort. The story was entertaining and enlightening, as usual, but it seemed a little...flat, was the only word she could think of.

"You don't have to say anymore," Torrey said softly. "I can see it in your face. You noticed it too. It's just not there anymore and I don't know how to go about getting it back."

"Maybe now that you don't have to worry so much about Jess, now that some of the headaches are taken care of, maybe things will settle down for you."

"I'm not sure it ever really had anything to do with Jess. Oh sure, running after the girl and worrying about her took up some of my time and energy, but I think it's something buried deep inside me. Something I can't bring close enough to the surface to touch anymore."

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