Chapter Ten: Passing Years and Cancelled Compassion

No sooner had Tori informed the security company of the problem of the angry woman, did Tori hear Kal's phone start ringing and his answering it in hushed tones. In less than twenty minutes there was another entire security team at the house to remove Tori. Kal looked dumbfounded when they arrived as if Tori was going to have allowed Kal continue to let people attack her in her own doorway as he already had. Officially speaking the site was certainly compromised, but that didn't stop Kal from trying to save face and his career, which were both sunk at this point. He told the other team members there that Tori had denied him access to shadow her, among other falsehoods. Tori took only her purse before she walked out of the rental house with the new team members who had a private plane on standby. Kal tried to say something to Tori but was blocked as she was rushed into an idling SUV. She didn't look back as her transport left the scene. Kal of course was visible in the car's rearview mirror as he was being fired by his superiors. Tori mentally mulled whether to bring legal action against him for his incompetence, but shook her head thinking how obnoxious it would be to further involve herself with the wretch.

Back in New York Tori found herself altered from before her trip. She saw how right Mr. Peeters was about her situational safety among others and was beginning to understand why elites kept to themselves. Social class was not the determining factor for isolation as much as a necessity for safety. She also realized that Mr. Kenton had his own correctly held views about higher learning. Degrees were now, as far as Tori was concerned, purely paid for achievements except for the minor percentage of individuals who had the ability to transform their otherwise generic education into something more meaningful. Yet all that there was for Tori was now again at a standstill. Her attention was neither in the past nor present due to her having nothing to want or wonder about. In the months that followed her attempt to normalize her life, she sought to engage with the staff but found them to be too eager to please her and lesser so to be genuine. Tori also now cringed at the idea of having another misstep like the situation she had with Kal. All lingering smiles or flirtations were loathed by Tori no matter how harmless the intent. Tori had lost her ability to want another person in her life the way that Kal had been.

This reconciliation was not without its drawbacks though. The holidays aside Tori became most lonely during the spring. It was once the time in her youth when she enjoyed the season in the desert the most. She felt the most alive when the flowers bloomed in New Mexico. There were days that Tori looked at herself in the mirror as if she were a ghost-like stranger to her own memory. Her body was hers's but the years had unanticipated results on her expression. She hadn't been to her trailer for over a decade at this point and Kal had been removed for more than six of those years by now. Tori had other lovers since, but she was never able to replicate the same affection that she had so long ago with Jesse, who according to her private investigators was in an on-again-off-again relationship with Molly still when they are both between prison stints. Each had multiple children from multiple partners as well. In the case of Kal, Tori had learned that he had gone back to his roots as a mercenary, although he was not known as a particularly successful one. It seemed Kal let his days of playing his game console and eating cereal tank his career more than anything else. He was over the hill and too pampered by Tori to ever regain his footing in the world he once excelled in. Tori feared that the same had happened to her but was unaware of it because people tend to be unable to recognize their own failings too often.

Tori had those who were close to her, from the few social engagements that she kept up with and those with whom she did business with. She had become quite the benefactor to the art community. Lars Dillion, the man whom Tori bought out his entire show when she was starting out in New York too, was now a good friend to her. Tori merely enjoyed their passing banter as it was at least about something other than finances. Tori was most surprised that she began to be so close with Mr. Peeters, a man she once feared. He was not the monster she had formerly viewed him as at all. He was much like herself. They were both from family's that had repelled each other, only he was experienced in the social orbit where she resided, while Tori was still processing it to an extent. Mr. Peeters won Tori's trust the day he handed her a file on her mother's family. At the time Tori had pretended that she was marginally interested when the truth was she ripped that envelope open in her bedroom after immediately dismissing her staff for the evening. Tori took the information of the enclosed documents and found it to reveal that her mother's parents and sister each were failed social climbers with a Christ complex.

As Tori read on, she was for once pleased at the ill fortune of others, but the findings were not enough to comfort her. Tori would have used her money for one vindictive thing had she not had already outlived her grandparents; to have their health insurance policies revoked. They had died each in a long-term care facility, unlike their daughter who suffered as she did. The folder also revealed that Tori had extended family on their side, a third cousin and a few relatives by marriage. Tori wondered if they were to receive the same benefits as she had if she were to die. This question vexed Tori to the point of bringing it up to the man responsible for her own inheritance, in return, Mr. Peeters informed her that under the law due to her mother's parents having publicly and legally disowning their daughter that their entire side of her family would likely lose in court if they ever did petition the courts for any wealth acquisition. Mr. Peeters told Tori this as he showed her an original handwritten letter her grandfather had sent to his insurance company expressly outlining that he had removed Tori's mother as a beneficiary due to his dismissal of her as a familial relation. Tori nodded at this before leaning in to say to Mr. Peeters in a stern tone that "they are all to get nothing." Mr. Peeters of course responded with his usual dry manner agreeing "I assumed as much." An outsider might have found Tori to be cruel for this, but an outsider had not slowly watched her mother die as she had.

After this exchange between Tori and Mr. Peeters, Tori declined to go out for the evening. Rather she stayed at her home. In the darkened penthouse, now deserted for the evening, Tori looked over her things. These items had memories of time passing, but little else. She realized for herself that time had passed but not for a greater betterment of herself. She was neither educated, accomplished nor respectable as a human being, only jaded. Upon further reflection of her years, as she was now approaching middle age, she considered how easily it could have been to have put Molly in a rehabilitation facility or to have had a security dispatch to inform her when Molly was in jail. Yet Tori did not do those things for the people from her past, instead, she disappeared from their lives, at the time assuming they were better off without her to meddle in their affairs for the worse. Tori decided to try to do one kind thing for Molly and Jesse, and that was to have a college trust set up for each of their children.

As for Kal, Tori had never loved him but moreover tolerated him as a companion due to proximity. Kal was on his own, as Tori found him to be unforgivable. The evening had crept into nightfall by the time Tori had sorted out her thoughts. With all that she had considered, there was one more issue for her to address, and that was of her own future. Her penthouse was once a safe haven to her, but it had become a part of a resented routine. In bed, Tori sipped at her riesling. Her home was everything she had made it to be, but now it was not to her liking. Just like it was time to reevaluate her personal life, it was also time to reevaluate her lodgings, both of which had now become obviously antiquated for her purpose. Tori could feel the grip of stagnation in her life and in herself. New York could no longer be her home. Maybe she would be back one day, but by morning she would be gone and when the dawn rolled in, Tori was in her jet, Manhattan miles behind.