Cassie’s story continues this time on the Tale … You can find Part One, Caught in the Act here. Perhaps the hardest thing to do is actually say what’s in one’s thoughts to someone else; to say the things one never really wanted to admit to oneself. They say that bearing one’s soul can be a release, but sometimes one is …
Lost in the Act
“Talk to me.”
Three little words, but so often the hardest thing to do. Where do you start? Where does telling that story take you? Most of all, and the one thing that Cassie feared the most, would it really make any difference?
She found herself curled with Simone on the leather couch in Keith’s office. For the longest time, neither said anything, the red-tail not wanting to push the younger silver-tail, and the silver-tail just being lost as to where to start.
For the first time, Cassie really looked around Keith’s office. She’d never really taken the time to see what he’d chosen as important to him. It was … odd. A telescope stood over in one corner, a series of shelves along another wall held a series of cameras, some of them so very old. Bookcases filled to overflowing with writing that held some sort of meaning to him. On his old maple desk, marked with the passage of time and space from where it came from, she could clearly see a two picture frames. The one she could see was in a red frame, of course: a picture of him with Tera. It wasn’t what she expected, however. Not an image of the Queen and her King, not even that of two red-tails in each other’s arms. Just two of them, sitting together on a park bench, no horns, no tails, nothing more than two apparently mortal souls in love.
Perhaps that was the place to start.
“I’ve always loved Tera you know. When I met her, I didn’t have a clue that she was going to be the Queen. She was just Tera, that’s all. She could look right through me, I know; there’s no question of that. Oh, I didn’t admit that I loved her for a long time, but she knew. I’d do anything for her, let her do anything she wanted. But she was never anything other than herself.”
She felt Simone’s fingers brushing through her blonde hair. “It was obvious you were. I knew it, my sister knew it. But we weren’t going to tell either of you want to do. That was something you’d both have to figure out for yourselves when the time came.”
Cassie’s sigh was aching. “I never told her until the morning of her being crowned as Queen. Centuries holding it in, and then it all came out in a rush. I begged her to collar me, turn me into a pet, to worship her. She wouldn’t do it and … I couldn’t understand why..”
The somewhat more mature red-tail considered her words carefully. “Because she loves you, Cassie. She wanted you to be yourself. You wanted the old ways, and Tera wasn’t going to do that.”
“It hurt, I thought she was rejecting me, telling me to go away. It’s what I needed and … I think that pushed me to challenge her. It didn’t matter to her, she called me her dearest friend, that she loved me throughout.”
Putting her silver glasses on the end table, Simone mused. “She’d be unhappy if I said this to her, but that is our Queen. Her love is for always and she doesn’t take it back.”
“I thought, when Keith appeared, that Tera would forget about me. She found her Eternal, after all. But she didn’t. If anything, Tera was closer to me, telling me about him, talking about how Keith wasn’t like the other incubi. I didn’t get that, not really.”
Simone laughed softly. “Oh, he isn’t like them at all.”
For the first time, Cassie’s lips had the smallest of smiles. “It might have been easier if he was.”
“Why would you say that?”
Green eyes met green eyes. “I told Tera I wanted to know him better. Any other incubi would have taken me and done what he wanted.”
They both said the same thing: “He’d never do that.”
Simone’s fingers cupped Cassie’s cheek. “I would rather have my morning breakfast with him, enjoy his cookies, and the talks we have. I prefer the King we have, the one that cares about all of us, rather than anyone else.”
Cassie closed her eyes, still smiling. “You know I fell in love with him. Not lust, not infatuation. Oh, I admit that my schemes look like that, but he wasn’t going to be anything other than an honourable soul, he’d never take advantage of me. I really wish that more of my plans would succeed.”
“You do know he really doesn’t mind you chasing him.”
“I know. He’s told me that.”
“Did you know that his pet name for you is Temptress?”
Cassie’s eyes opened and she laughed, “I should hope so! It’s a lot of work!”
The hug was warm as the red-tail continued. “Cassie, have you ever just come right out and told Keith you love him?”
“No.” Simone paused at that, then Cassie continued. “How can I tell him that I love him when he loves Tera more than life itself? I know there’s a place for me in Tera’s soul, I hope there’s one in Keith’s. But I also know that he can’t love me like he loves Tera and … that’s where it all goes wrong.”
“I think …”
“No Simone, don’t go there. Keith loves Tera and that’s it. I just need to accept that and love him as I do: from afar. I’ll cherish the rare moments with him and that’s it.” Sitting up, the silver-tail brushed her hair back into place and stood up. “I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m sorry for waking you.”
Cassie had managed exactly three steps before Simone’s voice stopped her cold. It was a command from The Receptionist, not from Tera’s Aunt. It was a tone she’d heard only once before, and that was from the Headmistress of the Realm’s Finishing School, a tone that brooked no choice. You would do what you were told or there would be consequences. “Before you leave, take a look at the other picture on his desk.”
Cassie turned back. “What’s the point? It’s just another picture of Tera.”
“Take one look before you leave.”
She crossed the room in three strides, all she wanted to do was look and then leave. It would just be something else to mock her love of Keith, anyway. Her left hand, the silver bracelet from Keith shining, reached out for the frame, pausing as she touched it.
Cassie realized it was a silver frame, matching the red one on the other side of the desk. Turning it around, she didn’t know what to think as the picture confronted her.
It was her and Keith sitting together at a park bench, no horns, no tails, nothing more than seemingly two mortal souls in love.
And that didn’t make any sense.
To be continued …