Once more into Cassie’s story and it’s time to face the music.
When you have to tell the truth, no matter what the result will be, you have to be able to prove that …
It’s Not An Act
The hotel disappeared in the rear-view mirror as Cassie left for the final time. She had no intentions of returning there, no matter what happened next. Keith had explained that it would be a bit of a drive, but that was okay, it allowed the silver-tail to gather her thoughts.
Knowing that this would be her last night with Keith, at least before his ebon-maned Eternal made herself known, finally crystallized her thoughts. Cassie knew what she needed to tell him, and what she couldn’t tell him, as well. There was no possible way she could just lay out his entire life’s future; that would cause nothing but problems. The possibilities of temporal paradoxes and the dangers that came with knowing one’s future would only complicate things.
But there were parts of the story she could reveal. The question was how that would come to pass, if Keith would even believe her and if not, just how far the Temptress would go to make their future happen. Turning onto the highway leading from the city core, she realized there was only one way: the truth.
Everything else would have to look after itself.
He’d said she could arrive any time, he would be home. She wondered what his home looked like; she only had the map to guide her along with the address. She didn’t expect a mansion. That wasn’t him. She didn’t expect anything more than a place that reflected his personality.
She didn’t expect the home she’d found. Not that it wasn’t a reflection of her adored one: the red bricks were expected; the seeming ordinary look was meant to be. What Cassie didn’t expect was that Keith’s home was so very familiar to her.
Pulling into the driveway, she found herself looking at the same home that the Eternals had where her Realm met this one: same interlock driveway, same layout of the home, same two floors and all. The only thing missing was the fence where Tera met with her heart in the evenings. She knew this place intimately in the future. It wouldn’t be, she expected, exactly the same inside, nor would it have the additions built onto the home over the years as their family expanded. But the beginnings of their home were here, and Cassie thought that it was so very much like the Eternals to be just themselves regardless of the Palace, the Realm, or, for that matter, what royalty were expected to do.
Once more Cassie realized just how much change the Realm had been through because of them. Once more the Temptress realized how much she’d changed for them, as well.
“Welcome to my humble abode my Lady.” The blonde was startled when Keith called out to her from the side of the house as he approached. Her adored one looked … right. The plain red (of course) shirt and jeans weren’t a surprise. He had been clear that she shouldn’t dress up; there wasn’t any reason to. That didn’t mean the Temptress exactly followed his suggestion … exactly. Opening the door, Keith discovered Cassie’s idea of ‘not dressing up’ was a silver top that hugged her curves, a silver skirt and–this being a concession to him–low red heels.
“You didn’t have to dress up, Cassie.”
Taking Keith’s offered hand, her reply attempted to sound innocent: “Do you like?”
His answer would forever stay with her: “You’re beautiful, but I don’t think anything will match that silver dress.”
There was the smallest twinkle in her eyes as Keith led them towards the backyard: “I’ll remember that.”
It wasn’t a fancy restaurant. It wasn’t some grand club, either. It was, however, one of the moments the Temptress would admit put everything else to shame. A simple wood picnic table set on a simply furnished patio. Dinner cooking on the barbecue to one side as she and Keith just spent the afternoon turning towards evening talking. The meal wasn’t anything fancy, but this just showed the silver-tail something of the red-tail-to-be’s talents. She would be sure to … encourage … him in making dinner for her again … sometime.
The sun soon began to set among the houses around them, the night turning cool. Finding herself curled up on his sofa, just talking, gave the Temptress a very strong feeling of deja vu. She wouldn’t, however, do what she did on that spring night in the Realm, at least not this evening.
They’d been talking about the house when Keith mentioned his library. It didn’t take much for him to show it to her. It was exactly how she expected it, the shelves, the telescope in the corner, old cameras tucked away along the tops of the bookcases, and, in one corner, a leather chair–the same leather chair that would find its way into Keith’s office in the future. She’d brought in her canvas bag and placed it on the floor, resting against a bookcase. When she looked upwards, her eyes found … the book, dog-eared, well-read, looking so very much out of place with all of the other books around it. She tapped a finger on the spine: “Interesting book.”
He knew what book she was touching: “We all have our fantasies, Cassie.”
Green eyes met so-blue ones, her hand now waving in the direction of the chair nearby: “Let me tell you a story.”
The Temptress began to pace back and forth, just out of reach. From time to time, one hand pulled on her blonde mane as she put the words together. “There is a place called the Realm. This place is the home of the succubi and incubi.” He was going to say something, but a wave of her hand stopped him. “To be clear, these are not the same as legends make them. They call themselves ‘succubi,’ never ‘a succubus.’ It’s the same for the incubi: none of them is ever an incubus. They aren’t part of …” She pointed to the floor: “…down there. They believe in passion, love, and the Goddess herself.”
Keith watched from his chair: “Where are you going with this, Cassie?”
“I know your fantasy.”
“It’s only a fantasy Cassie, it’s not real.”
The silver-tail crossed the room, standing her ground a tail’s length from him: “What if it was?”
Her adored one seemed intrigued: “If it was, then, are you suggesting you are … one of the succubi?”
“And if I was?”
Keith had always told the truth. This time it was more truthful than Cassie expected it to be: “If you are, it doesn’t change that I love you.”
Cupping her hands over her mouth, Cassie fought back tears: “I am Cassiopeia of the Succubi.”
She couldn’t quite see through her tears, but she felt his hand touch her arm: “Cassie? Look at me, please.” He’d left the chair, and she knew that look. He wasn’t thinking about himself when he asked the next question: “Is this the real you?”
“You don’t see my tail … or horns.”
“They’re silver … aren’t they?”
She should have known; he was always so perceptive: “How did you guess?”
“Silver seems to be your thing.”
She was sure she looked a mess as she wiped the tears: “Silver-tails are said to be all about glamour. Like how red-tails are about love.”
Keith stepped back: “Show me the real you, Cassie.”
She could have shifted forms in an instant, but not this time. She drew the process out, starting at her heels, shifting from low red ones to taller, sleek, silver ones. As the change came, Keith watched as the silver dress reappeared, the silver bracelet remaining on her left wrist as it did. Passing over Cassie’s forehead, a pair of–he thought–cute silver horns came into existence.
The long, sleek silver tail hovering over her shoulder, moving on its own, the tip seeming to look at him, made her story real. The Temptress, in all her glory, turned in a slow circle for her adored one. She needed him to see that this was her real self, the one that, in the future, he would come to know so, so well.
She noticed something. Yes, he looked at her tail. Yes, he looked at her horns. But he didn’t dwell on them. Again, he surprised her: “Tail or not, horns or not, I still love you.”
Her tail wrapped around his waist: “This is me. You can’t understand how much I love you, what you mean to me.”
His touch against her cheek made her eyes flutter: “Can you tell what you mean to me?”
The truth had to be said, no matter how hard it was. The sigh in the words was heart-breaking: “Yes. But we can’t be together.”
He never expected those words: “Why?”
Cassie tuned towards the bag she’d left against the bookshelf and handed the silver framed picture to Keith.
“Tomorrow … you will meet someone who is perfect for you.”
Keith started to reply, but Cassie stopped him by placing two fingers against his lips. “You’ll understand the moment you see her. She told me that when she first saw you, you looked … right. I never understood, not really. Now I do. You are … right … and that’s so difficult to explain.” Tapping the tip of her tail against the frame, she continued: “The future … I can’t tell you about it, but you make that happen. That is the future you gave … that you will give … to all of us.”
His so-blue eyes looked at the photograph and then back to the Temptress: “Cassie … are you …”
Her tail wrapped around his waist once more, her smile not hiding the delight: “There won’t be a day when I won’t be tempting you.”
She nodded: “I won’t know you like I do now, I won’t remember this time with you; it hasn’t happened for me yet. But there will come a day when I will.”
Her adored one was quiet for a time, Cassie was surprised when he brushed her blonde mane off her shoulder, allowing the tresses to fall against her back in waves: “It won’t be easy to hide the truth from you.”
“I know. That’s not who you are.”
He seemed very thoughtful: “I’ll … figure something out.”
Cassie smiled: “That’s very much you.”
She shivered as his hands rested on her hips, her fingers finding their way to his own, bringing her love closer, deep green eyes meeting so-blue. Her voice seemed so very small: “I’m sorry.”
“Not being perfect for you.”
Her love’s answer was, when she thought about it later, so very much him: “You are perfect, Cassiopeia of the Succubi, in all the ways that matter.”