Disclaimer and Acknowledgements: See Part One
Catherine had too many questions buzzing in her head to contemplate, and sleep was the furthest thing from her mind at this moment.
Here she was thirty-five years old, independently wealthy, passably good looking to the eye and single, well, widowed at any rate. Living in an adopted country, but missing her own roots from time to time, with few friends, and a whole lot of emotional baggage that didn't ever go away entirely. It just disappeared for a while and then came out to smack her between the eyes at the most inopportune moments.
Now here she was thinking a green-eyed stranger could somehow alleviate the pain she went through from time to time.
Hell what am I thinking, she's just a girl! She said aloud to herself.
Catherine wiped her brow with her left hand and looked out of the large window overlooking the ranch yard. It was dark and therefore little could be distinguished, but she knew what was out there: The large hanging tree as she called it, because of it's shape. The small herb garden to the right of the house, where Grace would spend the odd hour or two. The large drive, housing her Land Rover and the Jeep that belonged to Grace. Beyond the drive were the ranch foreman's house and then the bunkhouse for the single men that worked on the property. It was very much an old fashioned styled ranch, but with all the modern conveniences, and the pay was good, or so she was told.
People didn't mind working for the Warriorson holdings, mainly because the woman who owned them left the day to day running of the ranch to Colin Montgomery and that kept everyone happy. He was a very capable man and was well liked by the men and also respected by his boss. Somehow she had got lucky with Colin.
Then there was Grace! At times Grace would get on her nerves, almost to the point where she wanted to fire her, but always at the last minute, she stopped herself. Grace was all the things she wasn't, compassionate, happy and contented with her lot in life, or that's how Catherine viewed it from her standpoint. 'Is that really the case? Grace, are you happy here with me?' Sudden thoughts that came to her and she didn't have the answer, hadn't really considered how Grace felt. She knew that there had been times when the woman surely should have packed up and left.
'Maybe it's time I found out! But what will I do if she isn't happy here? Would I really care? YES.'
'Why now? What is it about the young woman that has me thinking on these lines? I havent been particularly nice to anyone in years! Is it because Jace Bardley had the look on her face when she saw the books in the study that reminded me of Adam? Is that the only reason? Or is it her gentle smile that radiated in a room and filled it with sunshine, even though it was dark and raining outside, just like Lucas my brother.' Shaking her head she tried to clear the thoughts of her family. It still didn't make sense to her. Why she had been left behind and the good part of her family had been tragically taken away. Every morning she woke up, she asked herself the same question.
'Why them, shouldn't it have been me?'
The day always mocked her and somewhere in her head a voice answered her. 'Your time will come. When it does, don't expect to meet them on the other side; they have gone to a better place. You need to find redemption before you can follow that path.'
Always the same answer and didn't she know it, and what had she done in the last five years about that redemption? NOTHING! 'Hell, if anything I have made things worse!'
As her fingers touched a leather bound novel that looked like it had been read on numerous occasions, she thought of her family and how everything had begun.
Her mother had been a descendant of a Greek gypsy line. She had believed in the after life and fortunes and the fates. Even down to premonitions, which had often amused her and her younger brother Lucas. Although there were times when it appeared their mother had been right! Elena Xianthos had been a singer in a nightclub in London, when she met Catherine's father Stewart Devonshire. He was a young publisher and had recently acquired the rights to a book by an upcoming author Adam Warriorson. Several months later Elena and Stewart married and Adam had been their best man. Two years later the book 'There Can Only Be One Soulmate,' was a best seller and making both men a lot of money.
Catherine had been born earlier that year and five years later Lucas came along.
For the first ten years of her life Catherine had the love of both of her parents, but only the time of her mother, as their father was just so busy making the family fortune, or so he said!
Unexpectedly their mother contracted cancer and she died within six months. It wouldn't have appeared so hard except their father wouldn't or couldn't release his emotions over his wife's death. Instead he moved the publishing house to America and left the children in the care of his wife's sister Constantia in London.
For the next ten years Catherine went to all the best schools and received the finest education that the private system in England could offer. She was a very intelligent girl, but apt to be wayward and disruptive for no apparent reason. Unable to gather any true friends, she went through the University because she had to or her father would dispense with her allowance and that she wouldn't forego. It gave her the freedom to take drugs, alcohol and whatever else she could lay her hands on. She also moved around Europe in a daze most of the time, not caring much about anything except her brother, who had just started his final year at school before going to the University.
Lucas was a happy young man. He loved life, even if it hadn't been entirely easy in terms of parental love for him or his sister. He made the most of all the opportunities his father's money could offer him. He wanted to become a doctor and had the intelligence and compassion to make it happen.
When Catherine turned twenty-two, she ended up in jail. Not only had she been taking drugs, but she had been pushing them too. For a year Catherine was held in a medium term prison and alienated her self with not only the inmates but also the prison staff as well. It was a very long year, and one she wouldn't forget. She had the scars both emotional and bodily to prove it.
A month after she was released from prison in Germany, she was called home.
A drunk driver had killed Lucas in a car accident. He was only eighteen, on the brink of life. The driver had been to an all night party and was only twenty. He died two days later from injuries sustained in the accident.
Catherine was devastated and didn't know where to turn, her Aunt had disowned her and her father wanted nothing to do with her either.
Adam Warriorson came into her life. He was twenty-five years older than she was, a contemporary of her father, and also his close friend as well. He helped her kick the drugs and alcohol and made her look inside herself for a reason to live beyond the rage she felt. They drifted into marriage. He loved the beautiful young woman, who had a heart ready to give so much love, if only she could find it within her self to let it out. She wanted stability and security in her life, Adam offered her both. Love was never an option.
A year later Lucas was born, this event allowed Catherine to remove barriers she had set up within her heart to stop the anguish of loved one's leaving suddenly. The marriage was relatively happy, Catherine loved Adam, although she knew deep down she wasn't in love with him. Adam was as in love with her as any man could be, and he watched her give a part of her heart to their son, but never to him, it broke his heart.
When Lucas was two, Stewart Devonshire died of a massive heart attack. Catherine knew she was his only living child, but had long since surrendered any thought of her father leaving the business to her. She hadn't exactly been his favourite child, after her prison term anyway.
Catherine Warriorson surprisingly became the new heir to the 'Xianthos Publishing Corporation' and all that entailed. It became the ultimate challenge her life as a wife and mother wasnt.
Within six months she had left her London home, her husband and son and headed for New York and the lure of power!
Catherine became ruthless, devious and a down right bitch in the company she had inherited. It was obvious she derived great pleasure from seeing others fail and loved to bait them and if possible defeat her corporate enemies in bitter boardroom battles and takeovers.
Adam Warriorson waited for his wife to come to her senses--she never did. He had decided to buy a ranch in New Zealand, where his parents had been reared. Obviously, he wanted to raise their son away from the stories of his mother and her zealous dealings. He had everything ready, the house, furniture and his numerous books. All he needed was Catherine's permission to leave the country with Lucas.
Catherine had made noises about coming home more often, but it never happened, and now she wanted to see the new family home merely as a gesture. In Adam's eyes, Catherine was still the most beautiful woman he had ever met, and he loved her, but she now had a cold and calculated look. He never wanted his son to ever come into contact with that element of his mothers personality. She gave her permission and as she left the ranch house, Adam passed her a book.
"Catherine, when you have time, please read this and let me know if our relationship ever felt this way to you?" he passed her a leather bound copy of his first novel 'There Can Only Be One Soulmate.
"Fine Adam, I will, when I get time!" She told him curtly and left him looking at her back as she strode off to the waiting car.
A week later she flew back. Her husband and son had been killed in a light aircraft accident on their way to the ranch from Christchurch.
What had been left of Catherine Warriorson's heart died that day? She buried them on the ranch, overlooking a beautiful mountain pass with a steady stream winding along its path.
Adam had named the ranch 'Destiny'. For Catherine it was a most fitting possession for her to have. Love and happiness werent part of her deal in this life. She was destined to be denied the pleasures and feel only the pain that life had to offer. But hadn't she deserved it for her excesses?
"I'm sorry Adam, but how could you ever have been my soulmate, I never even loved you! Then again, I'm not even sure that I believe in the existence of one." Catherine closed her eyes and let a single tear roll slowly down her cheek.
She hadn't wanted to think about the past, but it had come to her waking this time, not in sleep as it usually did. Her finger stopped its spiralling movement over the leather bound book and she placed it on the desk. 'Wonder if Jace Bardley had bad dreams? No, how could she, she's only a kid and a happy looking one at that!'
Catherine turned off the light and left the study.
Moonlight streamed into the window of the study and bounced on the carved out title of the book resting on the desk, illuminating it as if in answer to a question crying out to be answered.
Catherine was up at her usual 5.30 a.m. and walked into the kitchen area, showing none of the traits of only having two hours sleep, but she had slept and that was unusual.
Grace glanced up from her preparation of breakfast for Catherine, Colin and herself and this morning for a certain young guest also! Although she doubted Ms Bardley would see the light of 6 a.m. Smiling she motioned Catherine to her seat at the head of the large oak dining table that was central to the room. Approaching Catherine with a fresh mug of tea for the strangely serene looking woman, "Our guest hasn't stirred I see." Grace said more as a statement than a question to her employer.
Catherine quirked her eyebrows and frowned, "Actually, I never told her our breakfast hour. Sorry."
Grace once again glanced back at her friend who had never apologised before for not doing something. "No problem, I'll feed her when she does get up. She kind of looked all worn out to me last night. Did you two stay up long after I left?" Not really expecting an answer from the other woman, she carried on with the breakfast preparations.
Catherine gathered her thoughts and softly said. "No, she went to bed a few minutes after you did. She was very tired."
Grace was astounded, this was the most communicative that Catherine had been in the five years they had lived under the same roof and shared this daily routine. Wonder what else she's going to surprise us with today?
"What about you, did you sleep well?" Both women knew that she didnt sleep well; they just had never discussed it, after Catherine had nearly bounced her off the ranch for asking once in the early days.
Catherine wanted to snap at Grace for what she considered prying, but instead something overrode her usual privacy mode and she answered. "I had a lot on my mind, didn't go to bed until 3 a.m. But when I did, I slept."
Grace turned round to face her friend, "I'm glad," was all she said as she put the eggs on the griddle. Colin would be here soon.
Over breakfast Catherine would discuss the ranch and its smallholdings with Colin and Grace. If ever Catherine were away Grace would help Colin with any decisions. It had been a very good solution to running the ranch.
Although Catherine no longer lived in the city, she still held the reins of the Xianthos Publishing Corp. from afar via her computer, linked up several hours of the day to certain strategic world locations. Today she wanted to discuss a certain 'Union City Productions' with her New York Vice President, Paul Strong. He had taken over her figurehead role in the Corporation with ease and professionalism and he was doing a very fine job. Few people knew that she had the final decision on all the major policies. They had assumed she had just run away from it all after her personal tragedies. No one had cared if she was dead or alive, they were just glad that they didn't ever have to be confronted with her again! Ms Devonshire had made an impression on people, but not a happy one.
Twice a year she would have a meeting in Sydney to discuss with the Vice Presidents of each of her global operations, problems and tactics for the coming months. Paul Strong was by far the most senior VP and he would be the ear for all the other VP's in the event of a crisis in their operations as Catherine wasn't available. Catherine was due at such a meeting in three days, and by then Paul would have all the information she needed.
"So Colin, how do you see the ranch progressing, now we have the livestock and the employees?"
Colin blushed a little, although he was sure of his abilities, the beautiful woman in front of him always made him self-conscious, so he looked at Grace for support. She smiled at him to continue. "I...I guess, it's just up to us now to get the profits you need to buy up more land and make this the biggest ranch in New Zealand," he stuttered.
Catherine smiled at him. She had a great respect for the man and his abilities and knew that she un-nerved him, although she hadnt figured out why. "Good! Somehow I thought you and I would be working to the same ends. Although, 'Destiny' was never bought with that objective in mind," Catherine speculated absently.
Grace looked down into her mug of coffee, and Colin cleared his throat nervously. "What objective was it bought for, Ma'am?" Colin asked respectfully.
Catherine looked at the downcast head of Grace and the nervous movements of the man opposite her. Smiling briefly "Adam my husband bought it as a sanctuary for our son and himself." She spoke quietly.
Grace looked up at the last words spoken by her boss and she noticed the faint lines of strain around the eyes. "Whom did they need sanctuary from?" She couldn't help herself she just had to ask.
Catherine gave a weary laugh, and got up from her chair and walking by Grace, she put a hand on her shoulder and gently squeezed it. "Would you believe ME!" and walked out of the door to her study.
Colin looked at Grace; neither of them had any words to counter that statement, both deciding some things were better left unsaid, for the moment at any rate.
Grace decided when she glanced at the clock and realised it was 9 a.m. that maybe their guest would be a little hungry.
Walking towards the room they had given to Ms Bardley the previous evening, Grace heard faint moans coming from within the room. Knocking on the door she opened it cautiously just in case the woman would be upset at the intrusion. Not hearing any protest from within just the louder moans coming from the bed, quickly Grace went over to the prone figure in the bed and pushed back the covers.
The first thing she noticed was the flushed face of the younger woman and the small moans coming from her. Slowly touching her forehead to check her temperature, Grace gasped at the heat and realised they needed a doctor; the woman was certainly ill. She gently patted Jace's cheek to get any response and the eyes fluttered open briefly but didn't focus at all on her. Making sure she was fully wrapped up, Grace left the room and literally ran down the hall to the study.
Without even knocking she pushed open the large oak door and was glared at by Catherine who was talking on the phone.
Noting the agitation of her housekeeper, she realised that something was terribly wrong. "Look Paul, it appears I have an emergency here, can you get the information for me, for the meeting?" She listened intently to the speaker on the other end, but her eyes never left Grace's face the whole time. 'Shit, what the hell could be wrong?'
"Great, knew I could trust you on this one. Have a good journey to Sydney and I'll see you there. Bye." Putting the phone back on its cradle she raised an eyebrow for Grace to continue.
"Ms Bardleys ill!" Grace shouted at the woman in front of her.
"I'm not deaf Grace! What's the matter with her?" Catherine spoke patiently, but her gut did a somersault and her eyes glazed with concern few had ever seen from her.
"I went to her room, it was getting late, thought she might want something to eat. Well, I heard moaning and she has a fever, her eyes are unfocused, she's got a high temperature, she...."
"Okay, okay Grace, I get the picture! Get hold of Doctor Simpson and I'll go and see her myself." Catherine said gently to the concerned woman.
"Yeah......yeah, I will." She turned to leave.
"Grace do it here." Walking towards the woman and the door, she lifted
Grace's chin and looked into her brown eyes and smiled. "It's going to be okay Grace,
hopefully this error of judgement I've made again, doesn't kill someone this time!"
She left Grace to ponder that particular comment.
Catherine strode off in the direction of the room that her guest was staying in. 'Of all the stupid things to do, I've gone and done it again! My bloody pride and arrogance has had a detrimental effect on someone else again. Will I ever learn? Obviously not.
Opening the door she saw the state of the younger woman immediately, the covers were strewn all over the floor obviously kicked off by the sick woman. Closing the distance between the door and the bed, she noted the sweat running down the small body and the fever she was held in. Picking up the covers she put them back over the body in front of her, although that only served to agitate the woman more.
Using her not in considerable strength, she placed her hands over the covers and held them over the small body on the bed and stopped the struggling woman from kicking them off. "Hey Jace Bardley, this is for your own good here. Come on now, help me out and let me tuck you in." Catherine softly said into the ear of the thrashing woman.
Something, somewhere, must have registered within Jace, because as the words were spoken she suddenly stopped moving around so much. "Hey, that's my girl." Catherine smiled at the woman she had pinned down.
From out of her fog of pain and fever, Jace tried to open her eyes. Looking into the ice blue eyes, she knew that they touched something deep within her soul. Just why she didn't know, but she wanted to stay like this forever. Whatever it would take to see those eyes looking at her with warmth. "I...I don't seem to remember you?" A distinctly fearful look in the green eyes peering into blue.
Catherine looked a little shaken by the remark, but smoothed the hair from her eyes. "I'm Catherine, you stayed the night! You have a fever, the doctor will be here shortly, just take it easy."
Jace knew she had a massive headache and was having difficulty breathing, her body felt heavy and ached in every bone she could think of and then some she couldn't. 'I stayed the night! Why?' "I'm very tired..." Jace closed her eyes to the pounding that was going on in her head, but wanted so much to open them, and see the concerned expression from those blue eyes again.
"Hey, go to sleep, I'm here, its going to be okay." Catherine meant every word.
Jace mumbled, "Please don't leave me?"
Catherine looked at the now sleeping woman and put a hand over her own tired eyes. 'Somehow I couldn't leave you Jace Bardley even if I wanted too! Now what would you think of that Adam, some slip of a girl has managed to get under my skin?' She sat down in the chair opposite the bed and waited for the doctor.
Doctor Simpson had never been called to the ranch house before. Previously it had been just the employees of 'Destiny' that he'd attended, but this summons was rare and he didn't want to miss the opportunity.
He was shown into Catherine's study.
"Take a seat Doctor." She indicated the large chair that Jace had occupied the previous night. 'Had it only been those few short hours ago?'
"Thanks." He sat in front of the woman who hid behind the recluse exterior she portrayed to everyone. Now she concentrated her ice blue eyes on him full of concern.
Blue eyes looked directly into his grey ones. He noted again what a beautiful woman she was and how the warmth in her eyes, made her almost glow. "Will she be okay?"
Doctor Andrew Simpson could have been as cold to her as she had portrayed to him and his fellow neighbours in all the years she had been in the area. But something had changed here, and he wasn't one to hold a grudge.
"She needs to be kept warm, have the medication in exactly the dosages I've said and rest for as long as it takes!"
Catherine raised her eyebrows at the statement. "Can she be moved?"
Andrew was taken aback by the remark; it wasn't something he had thought would be a problem. "Well, I wouldn't take that chance if I was you, she could develop pneumonia if she's not careful over the next few days. Is that a problem?" he enquired.
Catherine turned her back on him and gazed out of the window. "It's my fault she's in this state. When she's able, she might want to move back to town and her colleagues. I thought I'd better ask."
Andrew saw the tenseness of her body and shook his head and moved out of the chair towards the person standing very rigid at the window. "She didn't exactly want you to leave earlier as I recall." He spoke quietly to her, as they both looked out on the rain soaked drive.
Catherine thought about that. No, Jace had clung to her hand like a leech, when she moved to leave the room with the doctor. In fact, the girl had whimpered and Catherine had knelt beside the bed and whispered to her that she would be back as quickly as she could. It had for some unknown reason worked!
"I suppose she didn't, but she's suffering a fever at the moment. Jace said earlier that she didn't remember me! Guess that's a good thing in the circumstances, wouldn't you say Doc?"
For some strange reason Andrew Simpson recognised a need emanating from this woman, that she wanted the younger woman in the other room to want to stay. He again shook his head of the fanciful thoughts. This woman didn't need anyone, or did she?
"Oh, I don't know about that, I think you should wait and see what the next few days bring, before you think about moving her out." He walked back to the chair and picked up his bag and went on towards the door. Glancing back, he noticed Warriorson hadn't moved, but she did look as if her posture had relaxed a little.
"Thank you Doctor. Just let me know what the bill is and Grace she will take care of it immediately." Catherine spoke absently to the retreating figure.
"My pleasure. Ms Thornton is one of my favourite neighbours, it will give me a chance to talk to her again." He smiled at the thought.
"Does she know that?" Catherine turned around suddenly.
"Does she know what?" He asked at her sudden attentiveness to their conversation.
"That you like her, maybe more than like?" Catherine turned her profile towards him her left eyebrow raised in question.
"No! No, she doesn't know that I like her and like her a lot." He smiled wryly at her.
"Guess, I'll be seeing more of you at 'Destiny' then Doctor?" Catherine replied, never taking her eyes of the blushing physician.
"If that's an invitation, you might never get rid of me." He chuckled.
"Oh, well at least you have a profession we can use around here. It wouldn't be a hardship, now would it," she flippantly replied.
Andrew Simpson was bowled over. This woman could charm a snake if she ever let herself go. It made him wonder just what kind of person could ever make her see anything other than this life of a recluse she obviously had adopted.
"I'll be seeing you again Ms Warriorson." He nodded his head as he opened the door to let himself out of the study.
"It's Catherine. Yeah, I suppose you will." She turned back to her observation of the ranch yard.
Grace was walking back to the kitchen having taken away the bedding and now held the clothes of the young woman. The doctor arrived at that moment and she smiled.
"How did it go?"
He looked at the vision in front of him. For more than four years he had tried unsuccessfully to get a date with Grace. Now he had a chance and as unbelievable as it might seem, the reclusive Catherine Warriorson had made it possible.
"Great! In fact, she's said I can come over any time and to cap it all I get to call her Catherine."
Grace looked at him, her expression one of astonishment and wonder. 'This was turning out to be quite a day!'
"Well, I guess that's good. Catherine huh, wonder what brought that on?"
"Ha! Well, I did say that I wanted to see a certain favourite neighbour of mine more often and she kind of agreed." He smiled openly at her.
"She did? Now who would that be, I wonder Doctor Simpson?" Grace asked him nonchalantly.
"Yeah, she did! You, my dear Grace are by far the most favourite neighbour I ever think about. Can I interest you in dinner one evening soon?" He waited with baited breath for her reaction.
Grace toyed with saying No! She liked Andrew Simpson; he had a good sense of humour and seemed to appreciate people around him. It would be good to go out for a change." Sure, it's a day for trying out new things around here I think. I would love to go."
He looked as if someone had handed him a million dollars.
"Excellent! You don't know what that means to me Grace. How about Friday?" He suddenly hugged her as they entered the kitchen as Colin Montgomery walked in from the side door.
Grace noticing Colin quickly disengaged from Andrew, but couldn't help the blush that stung her cheeks.
"Can I call you later to confirm?"
Andrew looked at her and smiled. "Sure, no worries, talk to you later." He breezed out of the side door, almost knocking over Colin in his exuberance.
Grace looked over as Colin came further into the kitchen.
"What was that about?" He couldn't keep the slight frown from his forehead.
"Oh that! Well, Ms Bardley is ill, so the doctor was over checking up on her." Grace answered the question, but not really answering the underlying question that had been asked.
"I see." Colin looked back as the doctor pulled out of the ranch yard area.
"Do you?" Grace whispered.
Colin looked back at Grace and said he needed to see Catherine. Holding up his hand he strode past her and said he would go straight to the study.
Jace felt disorientated.
She looked around the room, which spun if she glanced around to fast.
'Hell my head hurts.'
The doctor had been nice as well as handsome also! Although not her type, he did have a very good bedside manner.
She remembered Catherine Warriorson now! Her current health crisis was in part her fault, but she couldn't find it in her heart to blame the woman.
All she wanted was her back here in the room and looking at her with those ice blue eyes that held warmth that she would gladly drown in.
'She'd said she would be back! Why hasn't she come back yet!' Jace was being impatient, it had only been minutes since Grace had helped her with clean clothes and washed her to make her more comfortable.
The doctor had given her an injection to help with the symptoms she was suffering from.
'Would Catherine want me to leave? She might. It isnt pleasant having a sick person around the house, especially one you didn't even know! Oh god, I hope she doesn't! I need...I want...hell I don't know, but she holds all the keys.'
A deep shudder went through her body as she thought of Catherine rejecting her.
Suddenly it was all too much and she broke down in tears, soaking the crisp freshly
laundered pillow under her head. Her eyes dropped and she slept as the fever and the drugs
rapidly gained control over her body.
Catherine watched her ranch foreman pace around the front of her desk. He was obviously distracted over some dilemma. He had discussed the problems he needed her approval on concerning the ranch. She had expected him to leave, He hadn't!
He was a tall man around six feet five she guessed, knowing herself to be six foot, so he had an advantage over her. Looking into his worried face, which looked tanned and a little weather worn. To be expected in his chosen career she supposed. He wasn't exactly handsome, but had more a rugged look about him. She'd heard that he was popular with the local women, but none had captured his heart.
"You going to tell me what else is bothering you? Or are you going to wear a track on the polished floor here?" Catherine finally asked him, knowing that she'd promised Jace she would be back shortly.
He looked at her and blushed at her regard and comment. "I...I need some advice! But I'm sorry Ma'am, I shouldn't be bothering you with my problems." He walked towards the door with a dejected look.
Catherine was wondering what else was going to get her to open up today, because sure as hell she was doing more talking in the last twelve hours than she'd done in years.
"Colin, before you tell me what advice you need, there's something you need to stop doing, okay?"
He looked at her stunned. "What would that be Ma'am?"
"Exactly that! Don't call me Ma'am, all right? I'm not the Queen of England and never bloody likely to be. My name is Catherine use it!" She didn't much care how that came out, it had been bugging her for years his subservient attitude and the man was better than that.
Colin Montgomery was totally floored by the remark. She had never said anything about it before; when in fact he could have sworn she hardly ever listened to him most of the time. "Yes, Ma... Catherine," he smiled shyly at her.
"Glad we got that settled then. So what advice do you need?" Catherine Warriorson looked at the man and saw him debate his reply.
"I'm not sure if I can say it." He looked around the room, his face carrying a hurt look.
"Do I have to guess then, because I'm not good at guessing games, I usually leave those to Grace, she's better..." Catherine noticed the hurt move to his eyes as she said Grace's name.
Ah, maybe I'm better at this than I thought. Colin take a seat!" It wasn't a request it was an order.
Colin complied, due entirely to not knowing what else to do.
"So, you finally worked it out that youre in love with our Miss Thornton?" She asked him gently.
He looked at her and noticed instead of the usual ice in the eyes, they held a warmth and compassion that literally made her glow. 'Hell, she was a beautiful woman, why didn't someone come in on their white charger and take her away from all this past she tied herself too! She was way too young to hide away forever. He would, had he not fallen head over heals for Grace.'
"Yeah, I guess I did."
"So, what you going to do about it?"
"What can I do? The good Doctor appears to have taken the opportunity to court her and I can't blame her, she gets lonely here at times." He looked over her shoulder out of the window.
Catherine noticed the tensing of his body as he spoke and that he looked out of the window as a way out of his problems. 'Guess we all look out of this window for inspiration.
"Have you ever asked her out yourself?"
He looked aghast at her question.
"Colin it's something you have to do if you want her to know you're interested. How would she know any other way?"
"I guess she wouldn't, as Colin laughed self-consciously.
"Is that all the advice you need Colin? Because I made a promise that I want to keep if possible, I need to get going."
Colin stood up and held out his hand; Catherine took it and chuckled silently. They shook hands and Colin disappeared through the door as quickly as he'd appeared. Smiling briefly she looked at the leather bound book on her desk and touched the title gently. 'Maybe for someone Adam, just maybe your sentiments might well work out,' she mused as she left the room to go and see her sick guest.
Grace couldn't believe it, now she was in a dilemma. 'For the past six months she'd been toying with leaving 'Destiny'. Things had been okay, but she wasn't exactly challenged. Now suddenly things had gone from the old boring routine to nothing being sacred anymore. Guests turning up uninvited, Catherine's complete change in attitude, the doctor asking her out with permission from Catherine! Then there was Colin! Oh, yeah Colin, he'd looked so upset when he went to see Catherine, wonder what was wrong there? Now she didn't know what to think, going out with Andrew Simpson was a good idea, she liked him. Catherine was finally thawing or was she? Ms Jace Bardley had brought that about, she was positive! How? Was a question that she wouldn't mind getting an answer to in the near future? Time would tell that's for sure and in this household at the moment it was being turned upside down and who knew when it would right itself.'
She looked around the large kitchen, her domain!
'She loved living at 'Destiny' it was home. She hadn't felt like she'd had a home for years until she came here, and then it hadn't been immediately. The place just kind of grew on you and the people too! What would she do if anything happened to Catherine? She loved Catherine as a friend, if only the woman would let her in and maybe together they could heal some of her pain. Although it looked like it wasn't something she could do for her friend, but could Jace Bardley? Would she want to more to the point! I hope you know what you're getting into Catherine, because I get the feeling that you haven't opened up to anyone in years, if you ever truly have!
She walked out of the kitchen and sat on the bench overlooking her garden and drank deeply from her coffee cup. 'Wonder what's up with Colin?' She looked over her garden and a peaceful look gave way to a pensive one as she thought about her friend.
Catherine walked quietly over to the bed that held the sleeping, if a little fitfully Jace Bardley. Looking down at her flushed face and the obvious discomfort of the fever, she pushed away a stray lock of damp hair from the girl's forehead.
"I wonder why you hold my fascination Jace Bardley? It's not as if you would ever have been part of my usual crowd of so-called friends, even back when I was a student. Hell, you would have cursed me no doubt for my activities way back then. Though wouldn't you have cursed me when I took over from my father, I was even more of a devious devil than he had become. You don't look the insensitive type at all, you have such wonderfully expressive green eyes, and I wonder if you know that? Would you have wanted to meet me back then? Or would you have looked at my many vices and given up as so many have done! Except one! Yes, there had been one, and eventually two people in my life who cared about me, but I turned them away from me in the end."
Catherine noticed the heavy breathing of the younger woman and moved closer to her and noticed the pallor, but she appeared to be stable. 'Hell, had she just spoken all that crap aloud, just as well the girl was asleep, she would wonder what was going on, some demented recluse, huh?
Her thoughts went to another person who this girl reminded her.
'I understand in my heart why you didn't want our son ever to be involved with me Adam. I applaud your courage in standing up to me. You were never the strongest man I ever met, but you had a heart that had the courage of a lion. I never gave you the opportunity to show that side of your personality to me, until it was way too late for both of us.'
Catherine Warriorson stood up from her cramped position by the bed and wandered around the room, noting the books and the pictures on the walls. It was simply decorated, but held a welcome to anyone staying in the room. 'I have Grace to thank for that! All the rooms had been decorated over the past three years.
All except the study, that had been left the way it had been taken over, as Adam had wanted it to look, Catherine didn't mind, somehow it gave her a link to her late husband that she hadn't had in life. The only thing she had never really resolved was her pain over their son, who had been nearly five years old when he'd died.
She hadn't even seen him the last time she saw Adam, he hadn't thought it a good idea and she'd been too busy trying to get away, back to New York and her schedule. All she had now were pictures Adam had sent her of Lucas when he had turned four from the last birthday party at their home in London. He had been a happy child, bestowed with his father's personality, but definitely her looks. He would have broken so many hearts had he lived. He was such a charmer, even then. Had she been too busy again? Yeah another take over, another boardroom brawl another WIN! Now where had that been? There had been so many, it was impossible to remember them all.'
Yet her mind mulled over the time as she sat and watched the young woman in front of her, breathing heavily with the infection Jace had contracted. Her mind suddenly recalled the place. 'Santa Barbara! California had been hot that time of year; it had been a push over really, the local publisher being ousted by the large corporation, just another take over. Can't remember the name of the guy who owned it, it hadn't been an issue to her; she needed a place close to LA, but not in LA. She got it, simple as that! What about all those take-overs, now she had no one with whom to leave the extensive business. She was never likely to have another family. Adam had shown her that much about her self, she wasn't someone that could turn off the emotional cripple she had become over the years. Subjecting anyone to that now was out of the question! No matter if they did love her, she didn't have the capacity to return anyone's love, there again where the hell would she ever find anyone that gutsy enough to even try?'
Grace looked in at that moment and noticed the pensive look crossing over Catherine's face. "Do you need a coffee?" She asked tentatively.
"I'd love a cappuccino, if you don't mind making me one Grace?" Looking at her friend in gratitude, her thoughts were haunting her badly today.
Grace smiled at the request. It would usually have been given as an order. "Sure, do you want some company for a while before I start lunch?"
"I'd like that Grace, more than you know," Catherine replied softly.
"Okay then, two cappuccinos coming up, heavy on the milk if I remember rightly?" Grace went out of the door smiling, Catherines idea of a cappuccino more like a café latte, but she never questioned the terminology. Although Grace often speculated what Catherine thought when she tasted external cappuccinos.
Catherine smiled at the retreating back. 'Maybe it isnt so bad to talk once in a while.' She then sat back down in the chair and gazed at the fevered face of Jace Bardley.
Continued in Part 3
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