Act of Grace by TeraS

Cassie’s story continues; you can find Part One here and Part Two here. and Three here. Cassie’s journey continues today and with that comes something of a revelation. Knowing the outcome of the past doesn’t prepare one for what might be an …

Act of Grace
By TeraS

Travelling from the Realm wasn’t always an exact science. Sometimes one’s aim could be off a bit, whether in space or time could be uncertain. The silver-tail should have listened to her red-tailed friend and not taken the left turn before getting to Albuquerque. More accurately, she shouldn’t have been in a rush and just left the Realm and tried to get to the place she needed to be as quickly as she could when she heard Keith’s voice moments before.

Cassie was just over three months off, and a fair distance from when she wanted to be. When she counted the days to be sure, it didn’t surprise her that she was exactly sixty-nine days removed from when she wanted to be.

Goddess did work in mysterious ways.

The blonde silver-tail realized she had a number of problems to deal with. First, she wasn’t in the right place. Second, she didn’t know how to find Keith; this was, after all, in the time before the Internet and all that brought with it. The city was simple enough to find, but it was the minutia of putting the pieces together that was going to be a problem.

It turned out that blondes were popular with most modelling agencies in any time or place. A small advance—well, perhaps not that small after some negotiations—netted Cassie a yellow convertible, she’d put up with that colour, and a modelling gig in the same city where Keith would be. The rest was up to her.

The drive allowed her some time to think about what she’d learned and what was waiting for her. This wasn’t the Keith she knew, not exactly. He wasn’t the King, wasn’t Tera’s Eternal. He was, as Tera put so succinctly, an ordinary-looking man that she couldn’t take her eyes from the moment they met.

“He just looked … right.”

As time passed—it was, after all, a week’s drive—Cassie listened to the car’s radio, watched the television at the roadside stops she made. It told her a lot about this time, about the souls around her. Good, bad, or indifferent, it was their paths and decisions that drove them onwards. The same could be said about the choice that Cassie had made. She’d decided to do this, to find Keith in the time before Tera. The photograph told that she’d done this before.

The question that she couldn’t answer was how she fit into things. Cassie knew that her younger self had challenged Tera, pushed her to leave the Realm for a time, and that brought her to finding Keith. Or was that just part of the story and, in the same way, would she be responsible for Keith, as well? The tapestry of their lives intermingled in so many ways and there was no one answer that could explain why.

Finally, the days of thinking and rethinking were ended by the sign marking the outskirts of the city where Keith was. She needed only a day or two for the modelling shoot, then she’d be freed of her obligations. The road map was well and truly dog-eared from being folded and refolded, little notes around the edges she’d made along the way reminders of what she might say when they met for the first time. Cassie wanted it to be perfect.

Tracing a finger along the route to the hotel where she was to stay, she noticed that it was right in the core of the city. The shooting location was a block or two away from it. Slipping on a pair of mirrored glasses, she drove the last few miles to her destination in silence, accompanied only by her thoughts.

After checking in, Cassie met the two other models who had been hired … and honestly wasn’t impressed. A redhead, a brunette, and herself: the art director was going for the trifecta, it seemed. It took some effort to get past the vapid personalities, something that the silver-tail would have loved to wipe out of her two new companions. Still, it wasn’t going to be forever; she’d manage not to pitchfork the both of them … probably.

After waving off an invitation to a nightclub, one that the other models said promised companionship, Cassie found a payphone in the lobby with a phonebook. It didn’t take long to find Keith’s name there.

The ringing sound as she squeezed the handset in her hands frightened her. What was she going to say: “Hi, you don’t know me, but I’m in love with you and I’d like to see you”? Would she just listen to his voice saying “Hello” before he hung up?

The answering machine was a relief. “Sorry I’m not here, please leave a message after the beep and I’ll call you in the morning.”

Before the beep could play, she’d put the receiver back. Ripping the page out of the book, Cassie went to bed, hoping that he’d be home soon. For the first time, she realized just how empty things were without Keith being there. The Temptress spent the night curled up with a pillow, looking at the lights from the other buildings nearby.

The morning arrived with Cassie and the other models walking to the shoot location together. She was wrapped up on her own thoughts; the other models were talking about who they’d taken to bed the night before. Cassie only wanted one soul, and they could have all of the rest as far as she was concerned. Still, she remembered what the day was to bring, how the shoot was planned, and she resigned herself to doing the best she could.

The auto repair shop was larger than she expected it to be. The main bay door was open, a limo parked inside with crew all around it, setting up the lights and cameras, small groups huddled here and there talking and pointing to things. This day’s shoot was supposed to be a series of videos of them in the back of the limo talking, movie magic making it seem to be travelling, and then doing it over and over again until they had enough footage.

They had been huddling with the director, Cassie the only one having a hot chocolate, when she caught a glimpse of someone at the far end of the shop working on a red convertible with the hood up. He didn’t seem to be paying much attention to the other things going on, but then he wasn’t part of what they were doing. The Temptress kept looking at him, hidden by the shadows, until the director blocked her view. Cassie turned her attention to her as her role was explained and choices made as they needed to be. At long last, the director finished by introducing the man whom Cassie had seen in the distance. Turning, she felt something inside slip into place, felt as if she was whole again.

It was Keith. He looked … right: blue jeans, black running shoes, a simple grey shirt; nothing fancy, nothing special. He wasn’t showing off for anyone, Cassie was sure the thought hadn’t crossed his mind. “Good morning ladies.”

Damn you, Goddess. This wasn’t how she wanted to be remembered by him. She wanted to look perfect, all silver and for him alone. Not with a messy ponytail, half awake, and looking like something the AngelKitty dragged in.

There was some small talk with Keith. Cassie just stood there, not saying a word. She didn’t know what to say, how to start. The other two models leaving after each gave a curt nod didn’t register.

But Keith’s words after they left reminded her how much she loved him. He didn’t know her, but Cassie felt his concern, “You look like you need someone to talk to.”

The Temptress surprised herself, and Keith, when she kissed him lightly on the cheek: “I’d like that.”

His smile was everything: “See you soon …”

Her smile felt wonderful as she walked away, her mood dramatically changed when she heard “… Cassie.”

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