Disclaimers: I started this in homage to the great characters in a certain TV show, but its grown beyond that, and taken on a life of its own. Its heavy Alt hey I write the way I live so if you are underage, residing somewhere where its illegal or are simply offended, read elsewhere.
Thanks to the Tribe, the greatest fans a bard could have, to Barb and Barbara Davies, for editing, to MaryD, to Beth and most of all to the Graces of this world.
Send me a line, if you like it:Tragedy88@goplay.com
"Want to go for a drive with me?" Allison asked the next morning over coffee and blueberry muffins.
"A drive?" I wondered why there were no comments about last night, the kisses shed given so tenderly or the reason for my tears.
"Yes, theres something Id like to show you." She turned to look at me, and her tentative smile made my heart skip a beat.
"Sure, where to?" I had the sudden thought that I was wrong. Totally wrong, and everything I'd come to realize wasn't true. My stomach churned as I stood and grabbed the back of the kitchen chair.
Allison reached out her hand and steadied me. "You okay?"
I just nodded.
"Its nothing bad. I'm not kicking you out of the house or anything," she said lightly. "Just wait and see. And- and if you dont like it well well get to that when we come to it."
So we made our way through the house and to the limo, where Ed was waiting. When the limo finally pulled to a stop we were in front of Wahbash Galleries. I looked at Allison. She just smiled.
"Come on." She led the way inside to the main room, taking my hand in hers. There were numerous people wandering around, looking at the new paintings.
I stopped dead in my tracks. "What is this?" All around me were the paintings Id done in the last two months.
"Remember I said I had a special show coming up?" Allison waved her hand around the room.
"This is it, Grace."
"My paintings?" My jaw hung open. Allison with the rose, by the trellis flowers, children playing, mountains, sunsets, forests . All mine. And the centerpiece. "My brother," I whispered.
"Its hes not for sale. None of them are if you dont want to, but I already have bids on three of them. For over 50,000."
"Each?" I croaked, stunned.
Allison nodded with a wide smile.
"Ive got to sit down." Shakily I made my way to a bench off to the side. Allison sat beside me.
"Im sorry. I thought youd like it."
I looked at her slowly. "I- Its just such a shock."
"Then its all right?"
"Its more than all right. Youll never know ." Tears began to cloud my eyes and hastily I wiped them away. "Youll never know how much this means to me. Why have you done all this for me?" I asked abruptly.
"What do you mean?" Her eyebrows rose. "Why did I spend money on you? Why have I given you things?"
My eyes narrowed. "Why are my paintings here? I never asked you to do this."
"Do you think all I want is a commission?"
"I'm not sure what you want," I admitted, crossing my arms across my chest and sitting straigther on the cushioned bench.
"I did this," she waved her hand around the room, "because you deserve it." She reached out a trembling hand and touched my cheek. "What else do you want?"
My heart caught in my throat. I don't want anything but you, hovered on the tip of my tongue, but refused to be said aloud. "And for all this ." I waved my hand impatiently towards the paintings. "What do you want from me?"
Her eyes widened and her hand dropped to her lap. "Nothing, Grace. Havent you learned that by now? Havent you learned anything?" As her voice rose numerous people turned our way.
"Ive learned a lot of things," I replied defiantly, and more then a little embarrased by the unabashed stars now directed at us.
"And whats that? That nothings for free? That no one can care about you or do things for you without some ulterior motive?" She paused, standing, and raked a trembling hand through her raven hair. "Why wont you let anyone love you?" she yelled.
The shattering rage in her blue eyes frightened me. Unconsiously I stood and stepped back a pace.
"Goddammit," She cursed and abruptly headed to the front doors of the gallery. I raced after her and just barely caught her arm as she cleared the glass door.
She spun around to face me, ripping my hand off her forearm. "Just go away, Grace."
People were bustling past us on the busy sidewalk. Horns were honking, radios blaring and all I could hear were the words, why wont you let anyone love you?
"Just forget everything I said. Forget about the show. Forget about the paintings " she muttered and turned away. She resumed her course down the busy sidewalk, bypassing the limo and a perplexed Ed.
I watched her go, my heart aching.
Apparently I hadnt learned anything at all.
I wasnt sure if I should return to the mansion, but Ed insisted.
I worried for Allison and her dark frame of mind. She was out on the streets- a place I knew was violent and horrible to someone vulnerable- and my heart rested in my throat the whole drive to her home.
As I wandered around the house- Vella discreetly keeping her distance after talking to Ed- I touched the spines of books, the frames of pictures, countertops all places that Allison had touched.
Not much made sense to me right then, since Id thought Id had it all figured out. Was I a fool? The same stupid idiot that had fallen hard and fast for a beautiful woman while sketching her in the park?
I knew in my heart and to the darkest reaches of my aching soul that there was more to it then that.
Allison had had no destination in mind as shed stalked away from the gallery and Grace. Shed opened the gallery to Graces paintings, just to show the young artist that she was something, could be something more .
All my life Ive used people. Taken them to my bed, then tossed them back to where they came. She was afraid it was happening all over again.
Allisons path down the sidewalk was unconsciously leading her to the subway. Absently she paid the fifty cents to enter, passed through the turnstile, then found a seat on a crowded bench to wait for the train.
People surged all around her. Big and small, short and tall. Well dressed, or in tattered pants and coats too light for winter.
Grace could be one of these people, she realized. And, before, I never even would have noticed her. How many people have I passed by and not seen? What if it was me?
A slow and steady rumble pulled her from her thoughts as the train came to a clacking halt at the loading platform. She entered with the mass of people and found a seat in the back.
Three stops came and went before she exited the train and took the long, graffiti covered hallway to the surface. On the top of the stairs she stopped and looked up at the dark gray sky. It had started to snow.
Wispy flakes fell, landing on her nose, bangs and lashes. Someone elbowed by her, muttering a curse, before she stepped up to the curb.
She realized she had no idea where she was, till she saw the dull concrete and crumbling walls of the York bridge off in the distance. All around her buildings stood in crumbling testament to one of the poorest sections of town. Children ran past, chasing snowflakes that fell in an ever increasing ferocity. Tired adults slogged past, going to or coming home from work. An electric company van sat on the curb, while a frozen workman adjusted buttons and wires in the control box.
This had been Graces world.
Snow fell faster as she stood there, just watching. She shoved her numb hands into the pockets of her coat as the harsh winter wind barreled down between the buildings. Her dark hair swirled and whipped around her face.
The crowds thinned and disappeared all together as the wind-chill dropped and they sought shelter.
After an indeterminable amount of time Allison slowly resumed her course.
I stood at the window watching the snow storm and all its blinding fury. There was fear in my heart not the fear and terror of hungry days and freezing nights on the street, but fear that I was loosing Allison forever.
Making the mistake of questioning her motives had been idiotic. I knew, KNEW, what my heart was saying, what my soul was craving. But still I voiced my uncertainties.
With a heavy sigh I turned to the bed and packed the small bag that Vella had given me, with the things that Allison had brought from the station locker. I laid my beautiful gown across the bed and smoothed out all the wrinkles.
"Youre leaving then?" A soft voice asked from the doorway.
I spun around, startled to find Allison, her dark hair a wild frenzy around her face, blown from the harsh wind and still covered in snowflakes that were slowly melting. Her cheeks were brushed with red, and her eyes looked swollen. Shaking hands were quickly thrust in her pockets as I gave her the once over.
"Yeah. Im leaving, just like you told me to."
Allison flinched. "I never meant to hurt you, Grace."
My temper was beginning to rise, and my sadness from moments before vanished. "Well, you did."
As she stepped forward I stepped back and fastened angry eyes on her. "Dont say anything, Allison. Cause whatever it is Id rather not hear it." Hastily I picked up the bag and my coat and turned back to the door. She was blocking it completely. "Id rather leave remembering the best months of my life-"
"Id rather you not leave at all," Allison interrupted softly.
"What?" I sputtered. "You said-"
"I know what I said," she replied, taking a hesitant step into the room. She tipped her head and regarded me silently for a moment. "But, if you want to go Id understand."
My mouth opened and closed. My throat tightened and I couldnt talk anymore as my anger drained away, replaced by a weary sadness.
I sagged onto the bed and dropped the bag at my feet. No one spoke, and the only sound was the chiming of the grandfather clock in the hall, and the wind rattling the windows.
Allison crossed the room in two strides, knelt down in front of me, and gently placed her hands on my knees. "Have you ever found someone whose smile lights up the darkest recesses of your heart? Someone youd give everything to, to see that smile everyday? Someone you find yourself hoping never leaves even when you make stupid mistakes?"
I nodded silently.
"You dont owe me anything, Grace. I put the paintings up for you and only you. I realize now I should have asked." She paused, eyes shimmering with regret, before continuing. "In answer to your question; the only thing I want is for you to be happy."
"I am happy," I whispered. I was close enough to smell the wind and snow in her hair, to see the tiny flecks of gold in her eyes and know that I never wanted to leave her.
I reached out a shaking hand and traced the line of her jaw. "We all make mistakes, Alli. My mistake was not trusting in you, and what my heart was saying," I said as I removed my fingertips from soft skin, and dropped them to my lap. "I love you, Allison. Never what you could give to me. Not money, clothes or food, but you. You...and only you."
Amazed, I watched her face suddenly break down and a hitching sob come tumbling from her lips. "You love me?"
I nodded. "I think I always have."
"Shhh." I held my finger to her lips. "Let me finish?" She nodded. "I see you in my dreams. I think of you every waking moment. I tremble at your touch and crave more. I want to kiss you, hold you, and touch you."
Allison drew in a deep breath, staring long and hard into the verdant eyes in front of her. They shimmered with tears and with honesty. They spoke more then Graces words alone.
She loves me.
I love you.
Allison moved her trembling hand across Graces cheek, over her lips, along the line of her jaw and slowly to the back of her head. She gently pulled Grace closer, until the heat of their breath mingled together.
Silent tears traveled down Graces cheeks.
"Dont cry," Allison whispered and wiped the tears away. "I- I love you."
"No ones ever told me that before," she whispered.
Pale, blue eyes widened. "Never?"
"Never." Grace shook her head. "Say it again?"
I leaned my forehead close and rested it against hers.
"I love you," she said again, her voice low and throaty. "Stay with me, Grace. I need you."
My chest tightened painfully at her heartfelt confession. I tilted my head up and brushed the lightest of kisses across her lips. She responded instantly, a light moan escaping from deep in her throat.
I pulled away gently so I could look into her eyes. They were still closed. I smiled as she cracked them open and slowly focused.
She cleared her throat and offered a little, lopsided grin. "Sorry if Im kinda rusty ."
"Could have fooled me," I said as I ran my hands down her arms. She placed a hand on each of my hips and pulled me close. I sank to the floor beside her and nestled against her chest, listening to her heart thundering wildly. "Tell me Im not dreaming," I murmured against the soft cotton of her shirt.
"Youre not dreaming," she said as she laid her chin on the top of my head.
"Tell me ." My pulse quickened and I wrapped my arms around her waist.
"Tell you what, love?"
"Tell me this is for a long, long time ."
"For as long as you can stand me."
I pulled back and looked up. "I think I can handle you."
She quirked an eyebrow. "Oh really?"
"Think you can handle this?" Allison captured Graces lips with her own and kissed her with rising passion. Warmth flared throughout her body as they melded together, hands exploring and mouths tasting.
Breathlessly they broke apart, starring at each other in wonder.
"Remember when we had dinner at the Salisbury?" Grace asked suddenly.
Allison nodded and grinned. "You mean when you swore at me in Arabic?"
The artist lifted a pale brow. "I wasnt cursing at you."
"Mmmha," Allison mumbled. "So, you ever gonna tell me what nek ni means?"
Grace shook her head. "Nope, but I can show you."
THE END FOR NOW .
TO BE CONTINUED IN "LOVES SURRENDER"
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