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Actions and Consequences by JM Dragon Chapter 1

Chapter One

 

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 watched 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 Elena said the odd word. It was just that it never made sense. Jace would smile indulgently at both her partner and her daughter, shaking her head at them both.

 

Today Jace was busy in town working with the Reverend in one of the poorer areas of the township. At first, Catherine hadn't 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 the latter, however she dare not give full range to her emotions on that particular feeling. It would bring nothing but trouble with a capital T!

 

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 constant adrenaline rush for those two years when she and Jace had first met. Everything had somehow burst over them, and situations and events seemed to cascade down on them 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 somber thoughts?the children for starters.

 

Catherine had been pondering over a conversation that she'd had with Jake recently about his education. Jace had been in town, as usual, and they were talking generally when the subject naturally came up, or naturally for her anyway. Unfortunately the boy wasn't happy about the discussion and Catherine realised she might have made an error of judgment in talking to him before discussing it with Jace, and having her present. Then again, Jace had been absent, working on her community projects, which apparently appeared more important than the family right now. However, she still had to talk to her partner about the predicament with Jake.

 

Lisa was doing her damnedest to be Lisa! No matter how much time Catherine spent with the child to help her co-ordination, it didn't seem to work. The kid was a klutz and that was the end of it. The saving grace 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. Maybe with the help of Rio, the ever-faithful pet dog, they 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 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 ventured 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; she's going to be late, go ahead and have dinner without her. She said you would understand. Grace watched the averted profile stiffen at the last words.

 

"Yes, thanks, Grace. Are you joining me for tea?" Catherine asked her quietly, giving her a brief smile.

 

"If you're inviting me." Grace beamed at the woman, sitting down automatically in the chair to the left of Catherine's 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 Grace's cup and then the enormous mug that was now third generation. 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 be aware 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 mother's 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 you're down for the count." Grace laughed as her friend reached into the pushchair, unclasping the restraints as she happily enclosed her daughter into her arms, sitting back in her chair.

 

Catherine kissed the dark head and smiled into it. "Yes, I'm aware that I have a problem refusing anything from certain parties with green eyes.? Catherine reached over, picked up the small bottle full of milky tea and gave it to Elena, who grasped it firmly, drinking thirstily from the bottle.

 

"Yeah, you sure do. Just make sure it's only the family's green eyes that you refuse nothing, and not just anyone's. Or I suspect you will have the wrath of a petite Californian we know and love, who can certainly slay you with a few choice words. Watching the expression cross her friend?s face, she hastily changed the subject from Jace. Something was going on now, she knew for sure.

 

"Elena loves her tea, doesn't she?" And just the way you make it too. Guess she won't be taking up her mother's habit of drinking iced tea then?? Grace watched as Catherine glanced at her daughter, an indulgent smile creasing her face.

 

"No, I think she's going to be a traditional English tea belly just like me." Catherine reflected smugly, hearing 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 can't do so with Lisa and Jake right now." Grace countered 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 two years.

 

"Legalities. Is that what it's called these days, Grace? Bloody pen pushers don't know the far end of anything, if you ask me!" Catherine voice was angry, yet low, as she didn't want to disturb the child on her lap. Jace would have her hide if the first words that Elena announced were swear ones. She?d never hear the end of it.

 

"What are you going to do?" Grace watched the cold ice blue eyes float over the room and then Catherine shrugged her shoulders.

 

"Hell, I don't know, Grace. I've been thinking of giving up the residency altogether and moving somewhere else...maybe a deserted island." Catherine answered her seriously. Her expression related 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 friend's train of thought.

 

Catherine sipped her tea, closing her eyes briefly at the question. "I can't tell Jace that, Grace. Hell, she loves it here. She's settling down. I think if she asked for a permanent visa now, she could get it. After all, she doesn't have the sordid past that I have, now does she?"

 

Grace stared at her friend, hearing the sarcasm in her tone. "Are you jealous that Jace could get a full visa and possibly adopt the kids and you can't?" It was a very valid point.

 

"No!" Was the immediate, petulant reply.

 

Grace had her answer as she picked up her tea, smiling slowly at the other woman. "Good."

 

"Good. Is that's all you're going to say? I know better, Grace. Out with it." Catherine's voice held a restraint that Grace had heard many times over the years, just before Catherine was about to blow up.

 

"Well, as you've asked graciously, as always, Catherine," Grace saw the left eyebrow rise as she carried on regardless. "If Jace gets a permanent visa and adopts the kids, she will be the official guardian of all three children. That would leave you vulnerable and with no rights if something did happen to your relationship. In other words, you would end up with nothing." Grace waited for her friend's next words with concern.

 

"WHO BLOODY WELL ASKED YOU TO MAKE THAT ASSOCIATION?" Catherine did shout this time. She was confronted not only by angry brown eyes, but also by the watery green ones of her daughter.

 

"See what you've done now?" Grace answered as she went over to lift the trembling child from Catherine's lifeless hands at her loss of control.

 

"Hey, Mama didn't mean to shout, Elena. How about we put you in your 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 soothing the child and helping her choose some of her favourite toys to play with. Finally Grace turned, their gazes locked and Grace sat back down in her chair heavily.

 

"I'm sorry."

 

Grace looked at her apologetic expression and knew that to be the case. "I know and that's 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?" Grace's voice was heavy with sarcasm this time.

 

"I can't say anyone ever cared enough to try until I was too old and stubborn to change my ways"? Catherine answered honestly. Her hands around the mug of tea, she drank heavily from it 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! And by the way, no one is too old to learn anything and I mean anything!? 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 Lisa's 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. I'm bringing them up as part of my family; therefore, I want that right too!"

 

"Sure you have them in a home. You provide the finance to feed, clothe and educate them. Also, I've 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, and now you are paying for it. God help me, I would do anything to help you remove that stain on your character. But, you made it. Now 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, Catherine, but more importantly, for you." Grace exploded in a low tone so that Elena wouldn't be disturbed by their discussion.

 

Catherine looked at her, aghast at the rejoinder from her friend. Shaking her head, she looked at Grace before pouring them both more tea. "Grace, it's too much to ask her to give up her American passport. I can ask her to consider a dual passport...maybe that would work."

 

 

"She'll 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 friend's 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 heart was bleeding for this woman. Although their conversation might sound cruel to another party, Grace knew this was a conversation she was actually better at handling than even Jace. And that had to be saying something. However, she'd been there before with her friend in much darker times?

 

Grace walked into Catherine's darkened bedroom. She'd been home from the hospital for six days and had refused to see the children, or anyone else for that matter. The only reason she allowed Grace into the room was that she was incapable of doing the most intimate of her personal toilet needs.

 

"Catherine, wide awake as usual?" Grace breezed into the room. It was seven in the morning and no matter how Catherine looked or felt in her present condition, she had requested that Grace arrive at precisely seven and they have breakfast together to go over what was happening at the homestead.

 

"Yes!" was the annoyed reply, her scowl already well embedded on her face.

 

"Been awake long?" Grace continued to ask in a brisk, friendly tone as she placed the breakfast tray down on the table next to the bed. She then pulled? at the covers on the bed and straightened them as she did so.

 

"Leave the bloody covers alone, Grace. It doesn't matter what they look like. I can't see them, can I?" Catherine said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

 

Whatever was bugging Catherine was getting on Grace's nerves. The children were upset that she was in the house, but she refused to see them. Grace had said it was because she still needed to sleep most of the day. However, those kids of theirs didn't take that as an answer; they heard the raised voices that had gone on between Catherine and her in the evening.

 

"I will make the bed presentable, Catherine. After all, it's what you pay me for!" Grace retorted angrily at Catherine. The woman had always aggravated her before...but now she was a positive pain in the derriere all day.

 

Catherine had the sense to shut up, for a moment at least, before proudly lifting her head to gaze at the space in front of her with her sightless eyes. "I might as well be dead," the rich voice hardly a whisper.

 

Grace stared at her friend. The tears she had wanted to shed for weeks were now brimming to the surface as she allowed them to flow freely. It was the first admission by Catherine that she wasn't totally immune to her condition, and it was a pitiful condition. She was blind, scarred in so many places that the pain on her left side certainly must be excruciating, and that didn't take into account the shattered left shoulder. Her beautiful raven hair that had drifted way past her shoulders was now no more than a black cap on her head. Although it was growing, there were certain areas that only wisps could be found as the burnt skin on her head still healed.

 

"NO! I refuse to let you say that, Catherine. Do you hear me?" Grace replied, her voice full of emotion.

 

"Hell! One thing I know is that I'm not deaf. I?d rather you didn?t bellow and shatter my eardrums too, Grace." Catherine, for the first time since they had arrived back at the farm, smiled. It wasn't much of a smile, but it was a smile none the less.

 

"Okay, deal, are you going to shut up with the crap and get a shower this morning? Because I think it's time you saw our kids." Grace stated quietly.

 

Catherine didn't exactly smell that pleasant. Knowing Lisa, she would surely mention it if she did manage to invade the room. The youngster didn't know when to keep quiet for politeness sake.

 

"I can't see the kids! Haven't you worked out that small point yet?" Catherine held her hand out for the mug of tea, which was duly placed in her hands. Grace watched as the woman with remarkable co-ordination placed it to her lips, relishing the taste.

 

"Perhaps not with your eyes. But you can see them with your hands and you can speak to them. You can love them, Catherine. Isn't that enough?" Grace once again replied to Catherine's absurd reference. For an intelligent woman, Catherine had her lapses.

 

Catherine flashed her eyes everywhere around the room, yet they registered nothing. Watching,Grace? had to put a hand to her mouth to stifle the sob this brought. "Why would they want to love a wreck like me? Once they see me, what's the betting they will run a mile in fright.. I'm not exactly a pretty sight, Grace."

 

Grace considered her words before she answered, "No you're not, are you? If I were being cruel, I'd say Frankenstein's bride was better looking than you are at the moment. But the kids love you, Catherine, as I love you and putting it simply...it doesn't matter! Catherine, it's what's inside that matters, not what we see on the outside. That's just a package. And you know what happens to packages in the end; they are thrown out in the garbage. All that's left is the person inside. That, Catherine, is what's important, not the package." Grace sat down heavily on the chair beside the bed.

 

There was a shuffling of feet outside the door and Grace knew it was the children. They had been outside the door every morning since Catherine's return, hoping she would see them. Grace knew that Catherine heard them. She could see her head moving at the sounds.

 

"That them?" was the soft question from the previously aggressive woman.

 

"Yes, every morning without fail they wait until I come out with an update on how you're doing." Grace answered equably.

 

"Can I see?will you show them in, Grace?" Catherine finally responded, placing her mug on the table by her side. She knew the position of the table with perfect clarity.

 

Grace watched the proud, upright position she took in the bed. Her hands pulled at the edges of the bedclothes in a nervous action. "Sure, they will be pleased, Catherine, thanks." Grace placed a comforting hand on her friend's and was surprised when Catherine's right hand squeezed back in understanding.

 

"No, Grace, thank you, for being you." Catherine responded softly, waiting for the door to open. As it did, she could hear Grace speaking to the children. Then she heard all three come back into the room.

 

A sudden rush towards the bed and Grace saying 'no' made Catherine laugh. She was certain she knew who that was. "Let her be, Grace. She can't hurt me anymore than I'm hurt already. How about a gentle hug, Lisa?"

 

Small thin arms wrapping around her neck in a very gentle motion was Catherine's reward as tears trickled down the half closed eyelids at the gesture.

 

"We missed you, Catherine." The child retorted sincerely, pulling back slightly after placing a wet kiss on her right cheek.

 

"I missed you too, Princess, where's Jake?" Catherine asked, her eyes focusing on the sound of steps moving closer to the bed.

 

"I'm here too, Catherine. Will everything be okay now?" The boy asked tentatively.

 

"Sure it will, Jake, how about a hug from you too?" Catherine felt Lisa move away and let the boy closer. He hugged her gently, as she placed a kiss on his head as he came into her range.

 

"Grace, can we all have breakfast together again now that Catherine is getting better, but can it be downstairs in the kitchen?" Lisa requested as her face pulled at something she didn't like.

 

Grace smiled at the child. "Maybe if Catherine feels up to it, we can next week. Why not have breakfast with Catherine in here?" as always a mistake to ask this child anything.

 

"We can't eat in here, Grace. It smells worse than the stables. I would be sick." The child replied honestly.

 

Grace burst out laughing, chortling even harder as Jake answered. "You can't say that, Lisa! It's rude and...and well...its only sweat, isn't it?" The boy looked around the room, hoping that he could hide somewhere.

 

"Sweat, sweat. You mean someone needs a bath?" Lisa asked, her eyes going round the room. "Well, I've had a bath this morning, have you?"Lisa pointed at Jake, waiting for an answer.

 

"Yes, I always have a shower every morning. It's not me that smells." The boy replied and then turned a brick red as he edged closer to the door.

 

Suddenly the children's eyes went over to Grace, who looked at them in astonishment, "Hey, it's not me. I was in the shower earlier than you two rascals."

 

Her response suddenly allowed another thought to enter the kids? heads as their eyes wandered in Catherine?s direction. She was smiling at the entertaining breakfast conversation, waiting for the shoe to drop, particularly on Lisa.

 

"Catherine, you need a bath! You better get one soon or people won't come near you and give you a hug and a nice kiss everyday, will they?" the child declared naively, peering at Grace for her approval.

 

Grace was laughing so hard she very nearly split her sides at the look Catherine was trying and failing to give the child. Pity, it would have been even funnier.

 

"I take your point, Lisa; therefore if you two clean children will excuse me and go downstairs to breakfast. Perhaps Grace could help me alleviate that small problem. What do you say?" Catherine smiled and this time it was a smile that covered her face, for it came from the heart. She had thrown the package out and left just her true self behind.

 

"Sure thing, Catherine, if allie...whatever you said means you smell better, I'll be back later. I want to talk to you about a dog." Lisa stated as she proceeded towards the door.

 

"What do you mean a dog?" Grace asked, perplexed., Catherine laughed at the simple statement.

 

"Grace, everyone knows blind people have a dog. Catherine's blind. So, it's really cool we get to have a dog. I think it's great." Lisa left the room with Jake muttering she shouldn't have said that. Maybe Catherine didn't want a dog.

 

"Now then, Grace, does everyone get a dog when they?re blind?" Catherine was smiling at her friend as she came back towards the bed.

 

"If that's what you two princesses want, who am I to say anything different. Hell, I'm just the hired help." Grace chuckled as she passed over a fresh mug of tea to Catherine.

 

Catherine swiveled her head to the sound of the friend's voice, "Never just the hired help, Grace. Never that. You are a true friend and one I love dearly."

 

Grace heard the sincere words and snorted. "Well, I can tell you this, you have a strange way of showing it. Though it is as well I return the friendship and love, isn't it?"

 

Both women said little else as they settled back to enjoy their morning beverage. It was a step in the right direction. The kids had opened up Catherine's heart again, and her will to live and that's all that mattered.

 

"Jace wouldn't 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, that's 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.

 

"Yep. What indeed? Well, I have a husband whom I simply adore, who should be arriving home shortly. Think I'll leave you with the little one and catch you tomorrow sometime." Grace moved out of her seat to the study window, an adoring smile on her face as she saw Colin ride up the hill near the stable.

 

Grace traveled swiftly towards the door and just as she left Catherine said, "Yes, see you tomorrow, Grace." She nodded her head and left Catherine alone.

 

Catherine stood up and stretched her arms over her head without any pain, for the surgery she had for the injury to her shoulder several months ago was 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. I wonder when your mother will be home. It's not the same without her in the house. Kind of lonely, wouldn't you say?"

 

The child only looked up at her with the same eyes as her mother and laughed before throwing 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 needs 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 shortly.

 

Well, there was one certainty in this life. She would hunt anyone down who tried to take her children away from herand 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 smiled as she wound the window down. "Mrs. Jace, you're 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. I just had to stay in town to deal with something that couldn't wait." 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, Mrs. Jace, if you know what I mean." Fred said kindly to the young woman. He liked Jace Warriorson, even if he wasn't exactly enamored 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 Farm, he didn't care. But he wasn't happy about a blatant public relationship. That wouldn't be right at all!

 

"Yeah, I'm helping the Reverend on his community project there. It is very interesting, but tonight it's 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.

 

"I'm 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.

 

"Good night to you too, Fred. Better get another overcoat on in there. It's going to be cold tonight.? Jace remarked, putting the vehicle in gear and moved forward towards the inky darkness of the road to go the final couple of miles up the drive and the house.

 

Hope Catherine isn't too upset about tonight. I know she's been getting edgy lately. Getting her to say exactly what was bothering her 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. 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 didn't 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 didn't 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 I'm around, even if you can't see me." Catherine responded, coming closer to her lover.

 

"Guess I'm tired, Catherine. Have you had a good day?" Jace gave her a smile, 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.

 

"It's late, as you say, and you're 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. Catherine turned towards the coffee percolator and asked with her eyes if Jace wanted any.

 

"No, that's fine, Catherine. I think bed is the only place for me. I've 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 kitchen counter top. "You left the car out for any reason?"

 

Jace took a deep breath. For some reason Catherine was upset. She wasn't 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 Catherine's 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, I'm genuinely tired. I could do with some sleep. I will be leaving around six in the morning. If you don't mind, I'd like to have this conversation when you can use more than two words, okay?"

 

Catherine stared 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 too 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 couldn't get the answer they wanted. "No!" she finally answered.

 

"So, are you coming to bed soon?" Jace decided in Catherine's 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 with no warmth emitting at all.

 

"Right. Well, in that case, I think coffee will be a good idea if I'm 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 Jace's forearm and stopped her action, as green eyes turned to her in surprise.

 

"No. No, you don't want my help?" Jace asked puzzled.

 

Catherine placed her hands around the blonde's face and smiled, the smile most definitely reaching her eyes this time.

 

"No, you need to go to bed. You're tired and the plans are secondary to you getting rest. I don't 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 Catherine's lips on hers. "I love you, darling. I'm sorry I'm late and about the morning, but I'm 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. I'll see you shortly." Catherine smiled again and their foreheads touched in quiet acceptance of each other's apology, however veiled Catherine's might have been.

 

Jace kissed Catherine again briefly and smiled as she headed towards the door.

 

"You know something?" Catherine said as she watched her partner move towards the door. Jace's 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, I'll 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 while she was sleeping and know that in her heart, no matter how long Jace 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. Those that thought differently obviously didn't love the person they were with, as she loved Jace. Damn shame! Catherine switched off the light, set the alarm system to external house protection and silently closed the gap between her partner and herself.

 

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