~ Actions and Consequences ~
J M Dragon
© 2000 by J M Dragon
Occasionally, you look at your life and feel as if you are looking into that enormous shop window full of wonderful things to buy. Catherine Xianthos Devonshire Warriorson had exactly that feeling as she sifted through her most recent memories. It brought a warm glow bubbling up inside her. She had finished all her business calls and paperwork for the day, as she contentedly watching over her youngest daughter Elena, who at fifteen months old was more of a toddler, than a baby. She was walking around without aid and although she mumbled, Catherine was certain she said the odd word. It was just that it never made sense. Jace would smile indulgently at both her partner and her daughter and just shake her head at them both.
Today Jace was busy in town working with the Reverend in one of the poorer areas of the city. At first, Catherine hadnt particularly taken much notice of the two afternoons a week Jace volunteered her services. But in the last couple of months, she felt as if her partner was moving away from her and becoming more closely involved in the work in the town, especially as the afternoons had turned out to be all day now. Or was it that she was just jealous of the time that Jace spent with others when she could be home with her? Probably more the second version, but she refused to give full range to her emotions on that particular feeling. It would bring nothing but trouble.
These days, things had become rather dull and boring! Perhaps that was too strong a comment, but it sure felt like it sometimes to Catherine. Maybe it was because she had felt the adrenaline rush for those two years when she and Jace had first met and everything had somehow just burst and situations and events seemed to cascade on them both at every turn. Now here she was closing up her computer terminal and it was only three o clock in the afternoon. Oh well, afternoon tea was always a good soothing solution to her sombre thoughts the children for starters.
Jake had been pondering over a conversation that shed had with him recently about his education. Jace had been in town and they were talking generally when the subject naturally came up. Unfortunately, the boy wasnt happy about the discussion and Catherine realised she might have made an error of judgement in talking to him before discussing it with Jace and having her present. Then again, Jace had been in town working on her community projects. Mind you, she still had to talk to her partner about that particular predicament!
Lisa was doing her damnedest to be Lisa! No matter how much time Catherine spent with the child to help her co-ordination, it didnt seem to work. The kid was a klutz and that was the end of it! The saving grace there was that she was their klutz and they could afford to keep replacing the crockery. There was still time yet, to help Lisa overcome her problem and Catherine had an idea, which maybe with the help of Rio, the ever-faithful pet dog, might yet accomplish what was fast becoming a seemingly impossible feat.
There was a knock on the study door and Catherine called for whomever it was to enter, as the door opened Rio dashed inside and greeted his tall mistress with enthusiasm. Catherine bent down to stroke his ears a sign of affection the dog loved as he settled next to her chair and lifted his head up for the caress.
Grace this is a surprise, thought you were in town? Catherine smiled as her friend came further into the room carrying a tray laden with the afternoon tea.
Ah well, I was finished with the good Reverend on the Trust business and thought going home seemed a good idea. I have a message from Jace; shes going to be late so have dinner without her. She said you would understand. Grace watched the averted profile stiffen at the last words. Maybe Catherine didnt understand?
Yes, thanks Grace, are you joining me for tea? Catherine asked her quietly and gave her a brief smile.
If youre inviting me? Grace beamed at her and sat down at the chair to the left of Catherines desk having placed the tea tray down on its polished surface.
Yes, of course and anyway, you have invited yourself I see with the additional cup. Catherine shot her an amused look and poured tea into Graces cup and then the enormous mug that was now third generation. Which according to Faith, she was going to take shares out in the pottery that made them, the way they broke in this house.
Anything of interest going on that I need to keep appraised of? Grace smiled at her friend. She knew that something was bothering the tall stoic woman. She had that look that was a cross between a frown and a scowl.
Catherine shrugged her shoulders and saw that Elena was blinking her eyes, hell of a kid this one was if she could smell tea she was wide-awake! No, quite boring actually. I could do with some excitement not anything spectacular but . Catherine smiled at her daughter and saw the green eyes that mirrored her mothers blink at her a couple of times as she suddenly put her arms out for her mama.
That child has you pegged Catherine for a real push over. All she does is blink her eyes and youre down for the count. Grace laughed as her friend reached into the pushchair and unclasped the restraints and happily enclosed her daughter into her arms, and then sat back in her chair.
Catherine kissed the dark head and smiled into it. Yes, Im aware that I have a problem refusing anything from certain parties with green eyes. Catherine reached over and picked up the small bottle full of milky tea and gave it to Elena, who grasped it firmly and drank thirstily from the bottle.
Yeah, you sure do. Just make sure its only that families green eyes that you refuse nothing, and not just anyones. Or I suspect you will have the wrath of a small Californian we know, who can certainly slay you with a few choice words. Elena loves her tea doesnt she? I see just the way you make it too? Guess she wont be taking up her mothers habit of drinking iced tea then? Grace watched as Catherine looked at her daughter and smiled indulgently.
No, I think shes going to be a traditional English tea belly just like me! Catherine reflected smugly and heard Grace chuckle as she turned her gaze back to her friend.
Have you heard from Adamson about the adoption? Grace asked and this time Catherine did scowl.
No! Catherine answered sharply.
Sorry. I know how important it is that you want all the legalities tied up on Elena, even if you cant do so with Lisa and Jake right now. Grace counter quickly. She knew that her friend had been gutted recently at having her application for a full residential visa once again refused and another temporary one granted for another two years.
Legalities is that what its called these days Grace? Fucking pen pushers dont know the far end of anything if you ask me! Catherine voice angry, yet low, as she didnt want to disturb the child on her lap.
What are you going to do? Grace watched the cold ice blue eyes float over the room and then shrug her shoulders.
Hell, I dont know Grace. Ive been thinking of giving up the residency altogether and moving somewhere else. Maybe a desert island. Catherine answered her seriously. Her expression relating to Grace that she had been thinking about the alternatives.
Jesus Catherine, have you talked it over with Jace? What does she say? Grace asked her, upset at her friends train of thought.
Catherine sipped her tea and closed her eyes briefly at the question. I cant tell Jace that Grace. Hell she loves it here. Shes settling down. I think if she asked for a permanent visa now, she could get it. After all she doesnt have the sordid past that I have, now does she!
Grace looked at her friend and heard the sarcasm in her tone. Are you jealous that Jace could get a full visa and possibly adopt the kids and you cant? it was a very valid point.
No! came back a petulant reply.
Grace had her answer and she picked up her tea and smiled slowly at the other woman.
Good? Thats all youre going to say? I know better Grace. Out with it. Catherines voice held a restraint that Grace had heard many times over the years just before she was about to blow up.
Well, as youve asked graciously as always Catherine, Grace saw the left eyebrow raise and she carried on regardless. If Jace gets a permanent visa and adopts the kids, she will be the official guardian of all three children. If something did happened to your relationship that would leave you vulnerable. In other words you would end up with nothing! Grace waited for her friends next words with concern.
WHO BLOODY WELL ASKED YOU TO MAKE THAT ASSOCIATION? Catherine did shout this time and was confronted not only by angry brown eyes, but the watery green ones of her daughter.
See what youve done now! Grace answered as she went over to lift the trembling child from Catherines lifeless hands at her loss of control.
Hey, Mama didnt mean to shout Elena. Lets go put you in the playpen and you can play with all those toys you have for awhile. Grace soothed the child and was rewarded with a toothy smile.
Catherine watched her friend take Elena, gently soothe the child and help her chose some of her favourite toys to play with. Finally Grace turned, their gazes locked and Grace sat back down in her chair heavily.
Grace looked at her apologetic expression and knew that to be the case. I know and thats the foolishness of it all. You always say that and that's why you end up in a mess in the first place. Has anyone ever tried to curb that temper of yours Catherine, ever? Graces voice heavy on the sarcasm herself this time.
Cant say anyone ever cared enough to try, until I was too old to learn anything different. Catherine answered honestly. Her hands around the mug of tea she drank heavily from to calm her nerves. It was one thing shouting at Grace, it was another altogether scaring the hell out of her daughter.
Yeah, well you can tell! Grace answered shortly as she also drank from her teacup and then put it down. Whatever you might think about the idea Catherine, it is a solution to Jake and Lisas adoption.
Catherine looked over the rim of her mug and her ice blue eyes glowed with resentment. I want to adopt them Grace. I agreed to have them in my home. Im bringing them up as part of my family, so I want that right too!
Sure you have them in a home. You provide the finance to feed and cloth and educate them and Ive no doubt that you love them but . Grace looked her squarely in the eyes.
But what? was the frustrated question!
You fucked up early in life Catherine. You are paying for it. God help me, I would do anything to help you get rid of that stain. But you made it. You have to live with it! So, stop being so bloody pigheaded and ask Jace if she will give up her American passport and become a New Zealander. Not only for the kids, but more importantly for you too! Grace exploded in a low tone so that Elena wouldnt be disturbed by their discussion.
Catherine looked at her aghast at the rejoinder from her friend. Shaking her head she looked at Grace and poured them both more tea. I can ask her to consider a dual passport. Maybe that would work, but to give up her American passport, no Grace thats too much.
Shell do anything for you Catherine. You know that, why not just ask her. She loves you and while this is eating away at you, one day it will come back and bite you both. You might lose the children and then what? Grace asked reverently, her eyes concerned at her friends obstinacy.
I will not allow anyone! Do you hear me Grace? Anyone to take my children from me! Catherine growled the tone sounding like a lion roaring in outrage, but at a much lower pitch.
What if that anyone is Jace? Grace pointed out practically. Her own heart bleeding for this woman and although their conversation might sound cruel to another party, Grace knew that it was a conversation she was actually better handling than even Jace, and that had to be saying something.
Jace wouldnt do that to me Grace. We both know that, so why mention it? the conversation was becoming irrelevant.
I know and I was just making sure you did as well. After all, thats what friends are for, right? Grace smiled and they both chuckled at the statement.
Yes, we are friends Grace. I thank god for that, for what would I do without you? Catherine looked over at Elena who was happily placing bricks in her mouth.
Yeah, what indeed. Well, I have a husband, whom I simply adore and who should be coming home shortly. Think Ill leave you with the little one and see you tomorrow sometime. Grace moved out of her seat and smiled as her eyes saw Colin ride up the hill near the stable out of the study window.
Grace went swiftly towards the door and just as she left Catherine said. Yes, see you tomorrow Grace. Who nodded her head and left the woman alone.
Catherine stood up, stretched her arms over her head for the surgery she had for the pain in her shoulder several months ago now completely healed. Turning her head she saw why Grace had rushed out of the room smiling wryly she bent down to her daughter. Well, Elena I guess we go and talk to Judy about dinner as we have one less with us tonight. Wonder when your mother will be home? Its not the same without her in the house, kind of lonely wouldnt you say?
The child only looked up at her with the same eyes as her mother and laughed and threw a block at her tall playmate. Thanks a lot Elena! Catherine managed to catch the brick before it hit her in the face this kid needed discipline. Picking up the child she went towards the study door and looked at the clock it was now close on three forty-five and Jake and Lisa would be home from school.
Well there was one certainty in this life she would hunt anyone down who tried to take her children away from her and that was, anyone, for any reason!
Jace had arrived home late! It was well after ten in the evening when she eventually drove the Landrover towards the gates.
The security guard, who had been surprised at her late arrival, quickly came out of the security house, strolled over to her and smiling as she wound the window down. Mrs. Jace youre late home this evening. Nothing wrong I hope? the guard asked as he looked inside the rear of the vehicle. He had been instructed to do so with any vehicle, regardless of who was in it.
No Fred, everything is fine just had something that couldnt wait in the town to deal with. Jace smiled at the man, who was one of six permanent guards on the property to cover them twenty-four hours a day, all year round.
My wife said that you were working with the drug taking dropouts in Lasky Street. That is kind of a dangerous area miss, if you know what I mean. Fred said kindly to the young woman. He liked Jace Warriorson, even if he wasnt exactly enamoured by her relationship with the owner of the property, it was a well paid job and the woman was always friendly and had a caring attitude to every situation she came across. The owner on the other hand was different. It was hard to picture how two people so opposite could live together happily, but they appeared to from all accounts. So, as long as they kept their relationship inside the ranch, he didnt care. But, he wasnt happy about a blatant public relationship, that wouldnt be right at all!
Yeah, Im helping the Reverend on his community project there. It is very interesting, but tonight its gone over a little late. Hope they left the lights on for me at home. The blonde chuckled as Fred shut up the rear of the vehicle and smiled back at her.
Im sure they will have and everything is okay back there, so away you go. Goodnight Mrs. Jace. He pressed the automatic switch for the gates to open.
Goodnight to you too Fred. Better get another overcoat on in there its going to be cold tonight. Jace remarked, putting the vehicle in gear and moved forward towards the inky darkness of the road to go that final couple of miles up the drive and the house.
Hope Catherine isnt too upset about tonight. I know shes been getting edgy lately. Getting her to say exactly what was the hard part, still she would in the end, she always did. Braking outside the house, she would leave the vehicle in front of the house tonight. She was far too tired to consider parking it in the garage area. She had to be out of the house early in the morning anyway, so it would serve its purpose.
Walking up to the porch, she didnt see her partner, who was sitting in the dark corner until she heard the scrape of a chair and it startled her.
Hey Catherine, I didnt realise you were out here. You startled me for a second.
Catherine stood tall and intimidating in the dark. She came forward slowly and looked at her partner, her face blank. Sorry. You usually have second sight when Im around, even if you cant see me. Catherine responded coming closer to her lover.
Guess Im tired Catherine. Have you had a good day? Jace gave her a smile and reached up to place her arms around the neck of her taller partner and pulled the head down for a welcome kiss. Only, Jace noticed that Catherine barely responded.
Its late as you say and youre tired. Catherine broke the kiss quickly and went towards the kitchen entrance door.
Jace looked at the retreating back and shook her head. Following closely behind her partner, they entered the dimly lit kitchen area. Catherine turned towards the coffee percolator and asked with her eyes if Jace wanted any.
No thats fine Catherine. I think bed is the only place for me. Ive eaten earlier. So a nice shower and sleep will be about my limit tonight.
I see. Catherine answered distantly and placed her hands on the counter top in the kitchen. You left the car out for any reason?
Jace took a deep breath. For some reason Catherine was upset. She wasnt going to make it easy to find out exactly why.
I need to go back and help Clarence with one of the cases we had today. But, I should be back around lunchtime. Jace faltered in her explanation as she saw the remote look enter Catherines eyes.
I see. Catherine once again replied. This time she switched on the kettle to boil some water.
Jace placed a hand over her eyes and closed them this was far too stupid a conversation to have when she was tired. Look Catherine Im genuinely tired. I could do with some sleep. I will be leaving around six in the morning. If you dont mind, Id like to have this conversation when you can use more than two words, okay?
Catherine starred at her and then pointed to the door from the kitchen to the hall. Be my guest. Go to bed, the tone displaying no emotion as she turned in her task to make tea. It was going to be a long night.
Jace stood her ground and decided this was going to far. What had she done wrong come home late? Hades Catherine came home late all the time when they were in New York. Even here at home, she would sometimes be in the study way past midnight taking some call or other. Are you mad with me about something Catherine?
Catherine having dropped her teabag into the large mug and poured over the hot water turned at the words and gave Jace a look that was searching, but couldnt get the answer they wanted. No! she finally answered.
So, are you coming to bed soon? Jace decided in Catherines present mood, the one or two word sentences were all she was going to get.
I have a few things to go over for the architects on the renovations now that we have chosen the builders. They start work next month. Catherine replied her eyes turning back to her tea.
Okay. I can understand that, but surely it could wait for tomorrow. We could go over the plans together then darling. Jace volunteered giving her a smile, hoping to receive a reciprocal one in return.
I need to take them into town in the morning. Tomorrow afternoon will be too late. Catherine replied her face stony in appearance and certainly no warmth emitted at all.
Right. Well in that case, I think coffee will be a good idea if Im going to keep awake so we can go over the plans together. Jace answered her green eyes turning serious as she reached over Catherine to switch on the percolator.
Catherine heard the words, saw the fatigue in the face she loved and realised she was being a bloody idiot. No! Catherine placed her hand on Jaces forearm and stopped her action as green eyes turned to her in surprise.
No? No you dont want my help? Jace asked puzzled.
Catherine placed her hands around the blondes face and smiled the smile most definitely reaching her eyes this time.
No you need to go to bed. Youre tired and the plans are secondary to you getting rest. I dont want you too tired when you get in the car tomorrow. That is how accidents happen. Catherine responded softly, placing a tender kiss on the lips that were inches from hers.
Jace felt the tension of the last few minutes dissipate with the touch of Catherines lips on hers. I love you darling. Im sorry Im late and about the morning, but Im all yours later, I promise.
I love you too Jace. And you are mine now and always. So, I think I can be generous to the Reverend for a little of your precious time. Now go to bed. Ill see you shortly. Catherine smiled again and their foreheads touched in quiet acceptance of each others apology, however veiled Catherines might have been.
Jace kissed Catherine again briefly, smiled as she headed towards the door.
You know something? Catherine said as she watched her partner move towards the door, Jaces gait always had a swing to it that reminded Catherine of a drunk.
Jace turned and gave her a puzzled look her eyes blinking back the tiredness. Not unless you enlighten me? The blonde chuckled softly and put a hand through her hair in a tired gesture.
Anyone ever tell you how sexy you are when you walk, especially from the back? Catherine gave her a long look from her ice blue eyes and it held a sensual pleasure that she had at the sight before her.
Jace gave her a frown of mild amusement at the comment and chuckled a little more. Yeah, and we know what part you find sexy. So on that note, Ill go to bed. Goodnight Catherine. Jace walked out of the room and Catherine ran towards the door as she left and pulled it slightly open to continue her Jace watching with a tiny smirk on her face as her partner went up the stairs and finally out of view.
Catherine went back to her tea, contemplated the dark liquid and tossed up a coin in her head. Before it settled on a heads or tails, she had poured the liquid down the sink and headed off towards the bedroom. If nothing else this evening, she would watch her partner get into bed and hold her in her arms while she fell asleep. Afterwards, she would hold Jace sleeping and know that in her heart, no matter how long she was away, the important thing was for her to come home. That was all that mattered. Now that was far better then any old plans. Anyone who thought different obviously didnt love the person they were with. Damn shame! Catherine switched off the light and set the alarm system to external house protection and silently closed the gap between her partner and herself.
Continued in Part 2
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