After the Curtain
by Beth Dragon and Kathleen Wolf
COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: Any relation the characters within the following story have to other people living, dead or fictional is purely coincidental. All characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the authors.
LOVE/ GRAPHIC SEX DISCLAIMER: This story depicts a love relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story. Please note there are scenes of a graphic sexual nature at intervals in the story.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE WARNING/DISLAIMER: Later Acts of this story will depict scenes of sexual violence/spousal abuse and its aftermath. This type of depiction may disturb some readers and anyone who is sensitive to this particular issue may wish to read something other than this story.
ILLEGAL DRUG WARNING/DISCLAIMER: Later Acts of this story will include reference to heroin use and the horrors that it causes. If this topic disturbs you, you may wish to read something else.
FEEBACK: All comments are greatly appreciated and can be sent to: email@example.com
THANKS: To Emma, for her never ending love, support and chocolate. To the Ex-Guards Village for all their feedback and expert advice.
Rae put her hand to the chilly window as she looked out over the sprawling tree orchard to the west end of the Eaton estate. She could hear Cleo scribbling and shuffling papers behind her as she ran her finger down the wet pane of glass slowly. They both were only passing time, waiting for the Doctor to give them the news.
"Did the Monet deal go through all right?" Rae asked absently trying to find something to keep her mind occupied. Running her finger down the glass again, she watched a small bead of water pool underneath it and streak down further.
“Yes, with no problems." Cleo pulled the cabinet by her desk open. “Do you want to see the final paperwork?"
"No need." Rae shook her head without turning around, listening to the drawer slide shut again. "I just wondered." She added absently as she turned and leaned against the windowsill.
"I'm sure everything will be fine." Cleo offered though she knew it was a stupid thing to say. She opened her mouth to take it back but didn't know how.
Rae pushed herself off the sill and went to sit in one of the ornate chairs across from the blonde at the desk.
"Cleo..." Rae almost questioned the words but stopped. It was a tense time and no one's mind was on quite right.
"Drink?" Cleo asked as she pushed herself up from her place and turned round to open the liquor cabinet.
"Yeah." Rae nodded. "Please" She added softly. "Were you able to arrange someone to shadow him?" She questioned leaning into the soft leather chair trying to relax.
"All done Raven. Someone's been on it since your phone call. If you had of said no when I talked to you I would have just pulled him off, no questions asked." Cleo informed her pouring two large Jack Daniel’s. She turned around and held out a glass to the technician.
"Thank you." Rae's voice was quiet as she reached out and took the drink.
"Do you want to take Victoria's pizza up?"
"I want to hear what the doctors say." She shook her head.
"Of course." Cleo took a sip of her drink. Almost as if cued, a sharp knock came to the partially opened door.
"Miss. Eaton?" Dr. Potterly inquired through the door. "I finished the exam on Miss. Winters. There are a few things that need to be discussed."
"Come in." Cleo coughed slightly. The doctor stepped in and closed the door behind him.
"Although she's suffered some severe contusions, there should be no long term impairment." He started right in. Cleo turned her attention to Rae as the doctor continued.
"No ribs are broken?" Rae stood and turned to face him.
"No." He shook his head. "Only bruised, they'll be quite sore and it will take a week or two before they heal. I've got a colleague on his way over to re-stitch her lip so that the scar will be minimal and blend into the existing creasing in the tissue."
Cleo listened to the doctor with growing anger.
"I don't think she has a concussion, but I fear by the morning her right eye will swell closed." He spoke in a profession voice. "It will have to be looked after carefully though. Most of the bruising is deep into the sub tissue, so it’s going to be darkening considerably before it gets better." He took a breath for a moment.
"Will you be calling back tomorrow?" Cleo asked in the pause.
"Of course." He turned to her and nodded adamantly. "Especially as it is the results of the internal exam that cause greatest alarm." He stated slowly looking up at Cleo and Rae.
"The internal?" Rae breathed the words out of clenched teeth.
"Well..." The doctor faltered under the woman’s stare for a moment. "Due to the nature of the assault, Miss. Winters has suffered a considerably amount of internal injury." He frowned deeply. "I am most concerned that her current persistence to return to the environment that precipitated the rape could lead to a repeat assault which could risk a life threatening haemorrhage."
Cleo stood up and slipped round to the same side of the desk as Rae, though she stayed a little ways back.
"Okay Doc!" Rae put her hand on the desk, driving her knuckles down into the wood. "So in common english, first your telling me she wants to go back to the hotel and second if he does it again to her she's likely to die?" Her voice was icy.
"Basically, yes." He looked at her and then Cleo. "She is adamant that she needs to return. She's asked that I do all I can to make her capable."
"James, in your medical opinion, would you advise that?" Cleo spoke quickly. For Rae the office faded into a red haze as Cleo spoke behind her.
"Angelina." He took a breath. "She has explained to me the circumstance of getting him out of the country." He took another breath. "But as a doctor I can hardly advise this, it is far to risky to her."
"She won't need to go." The Raven's voice came in an eerie calm tone. "He's going to be dead soon."
‘This is going to end right now and I’m going to end it.’ Plans raced through her head.
"Perhaps we could talk outside a moment James." She looked at Rae as she spoke.
"Of course." He nodded and moved out to the hallway.
"Raven." She called the occupied woman’s attention in a slow voice as she moved to follow him to the door.
"Yes, Cleo." Rae turned to her, her mind still moving in calm circles.
"Stay here." She made the instruction clear. Rae nodded absently as Cleo pushed the door open and stepped out closing it softly behind her.
"James…" She began as soon as she stepped away from the door. "Is the situation really that serious?" She looked at the old family physician for clarity.
"These things aren't givens." He shook his head. "The possibility is there. See that as worse case scenario."
"You said something about fixing her up to get through this evening. What exactly would that entail?" She glanced back at the door. If Rae was not going to be reasonable about this then she was left with no choice to take charge.
"Yes." His brow furrowed. "We'd have to walk a fine line with painkillers. But it might be possible to get her somewhat mobile and if I put a local into the rib area it would ease her breathing. I can't do anything about the swelling and bruising. That just has to take its course."
"No, of course not." Cleo plotted out their options.
"Angelina...." He hesitated. "Patching her together to send her back tot his man is not the most ethical thing I can do as her doctor."
"It is her wish James." Cleo replied almost too quickly.
"Yes. She is quite adamant." He shrugged knowing he was being roped into something he didn’t agree with.
"No matter what we think we have to help her." The tall woman stopped and dropped her voice. "James could I ask you a personal favour?"
"Of course Angelina." He smiled softly at her.
"It's Cassie." Cleo breathed the name like acid to her lips.
"To be honest I'm quite concerned." He read her thoughts. "With her history, she is not responding well to this trauma."
"Do you think you could sedate her? She just needs to get through tonight." Cleo nodded at his appraisal. "If we can get the husband out of the way. She can't dwell on the thoughts she has at the moment."
"Of course not." He took a sharp breath.
"I don't want you to discuss this with her. You understand that, don't you James?" Cleo fixed him with brown eyes.
"I understand. " He nodded under the glare as he fumbled through his pocket. "I had these ordered to help Victoria sleep." He took four of the caplets out of the pill bottle. "Slip the contents into Cassie's drink."
"Will they be strong enough? With her drug tolerance level?" Cleo needed to be sure.
"Try the four at first." He spoke softly. "If not try another two, but no more than that. The four should put her asleep for at least twelve hours." He tried to find some semblance of medicine in this. Cleo nodded as he took another two pills and handed the six to her.
"Thank you James. I realise this is a terrible situation to bring you into." Cleo closed her fingers around the pills. "How is Victoria?" She added almost absently.
"She is just very shook up." He smiled softly. "She should have one of these before bed, it will put her out for awhile. She needs a good night sleep. It has all been quite a shock for the young woman. She seems a bit sheltered."
"I'll make sure she gets all she needs. Thank you James." Cleo smiled at him.
"I'll attend to Miss. Winters." He swallowed as he set on his task. "We should have her ready in a hour or so." He shook his head. "And no thanks, if it wasn't for men like her husband then this night wouldn't be necessary.”
"I'll have a car ready for her when you’re done." She nodded and walked back to the study door as James left to do his dirty deed.
Thea stood at the top of the long stairway looking down at the ground in front of her. Her body felt numb and her head thick. She was more than aware that it was the medication not her own inner power that kept her upright. As she steadied herself before tackling the stairs she became aware of raised voices. The argument was coming from below her and she took the stairs slowly one at a time wobbling just a little trying to listen to the voices.
"Cleo, I don't want another fucking drink!" Rae bellowed as she entered the front hall. "Enough talk, she's not going back." She stamped across the marble. "I am and I'm going to fucking kill him! Where the hell are my keys?"
"Raven, please." Cleo marched after the tall woman. "I have them." She slowly reached in her pocket she drew out the keys.
"Keys!" She turned on her heel and held on her hand. Her body waved a little from the sudden stop. She brushed her hair out of her face.
"No Raven." Cleo replied shortly.
"Cleo, keys!" She snapped her fingers, the first few times not producing any noise.
Thea made it half way down when she saw the arguing pair. She watched semi-stunned as they continued.
"No." The blonde stared at Rae and put the keys back in her pocket.
"Cleo, please." Rae pulled her hand back, for a minute her voice went soft. "May I have my keys now?" She reached her hand back out slowly.
"What will you do if I give you them?" Cleo moved her hand back towards her pocket though she had no intention of handing the keys over.
"I'm going to get in my jeep…" Her voice returned to a growl. "I'm driving down to the Harbour Castle."
"I already have a man at the Castle." Cleo informed her in a short voice. "Your place is here."
"Yes but I'm going to have a little meeting with Mr. Jones." Rae barked back at her, one hand still held out for the keys.
Out of breath and slightly dizzy, Thea stopped five steps from the bottom of the long flight. She watched as Rae pulled at her shirt, opening the collar slightly as she started to feel hotter.
"A meeting?" Cleo raised her eyebrow.
‘Hot is good, need rage to kill the bastard!' Rae's mind thought about the change in her body but brushed it away.
"Yes a meeting." The technician snarled her eyes on fire. "My fist and his fucking face!" She barked again. "GIVE ME THE KEYS CLEO!"
"Rae?" Thea called from the stairs her voice weak.
"Thea?" Rae turned in a sharp quick motion to the source of the voice. Her eyes closed briefly as her head swam from the motion. Thea focused hard ready to repeat her words if she hadn't heard. "Love you should be in bed. You need to rest angel." The technician’s voice was instantly soft.
"No Rae, I need to leave. What are you doing?" Thea forced herself down another step.
"I'm going in your place." She turned to glared at Cleo with her hand still hovering in the air. Cleo took the keys out of her pocket slowly, but held them close to her. "You are not going anywhere near that bastard." She spoke with a slur that didn't register in her ears. Blinking hard she turned back, trying to focus on the small, bruised woman before her on the stairs.
Thea frowned as she heard Rae's voice. Something was wrong, something was very wrong with Rae. She slowly stepped down the last stairs.
"I'm gonna..." Rae turned her head toward the sound of the keys coming out of Cleo's pocket, slow to pick up the blonde’s movement to retrieve them again. "I'm going to teach him a lesson. Keys!" She stumbled sideways as she stepped toward the keys.
"Rae, love?" Thea stepped forward a little more. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine angel." Her head slowly turned back and she smiled at the actress with a lopsided expression. "I'm just going to kill him for what he did, no biggie!"
"No, no you're not all right." Thea looked at Cleo in alarm, as she noticed Rae see the keys in again in the woman’s hand.
Cleo smiled back at the young actress, not even needing to look, as Rae tried to snatch them in what was to be a quick movement. In reality her attempt was slow and telegraphed. As Rae moved she lifted the keys upwards and released them over her shoulder. The metal fell onto the marble floor with a clatter.
"I'm..." Rae turned to look into her empty hand. "Fine." She blinked hard trying to straighten up.
"Rae?” Thea reached out a hand, becoming much more alarmed. She couldn't understand why Cleo was doing nothing. In fact the blonde seemed to be baiting this on if anything.
"Angel?" Rae eyes looked at Thea unfocused for a heartbeat before rolling back in her head. As the strength went out of the tall woman and she sunk down on the cold marble.
Without a thought the actress rushed to follow her down, pain lacing through her stomach and ribs as she knelt on the floor. Cleo stepped forward and knelled on the other side.
"What the hell is going on?" Thea looked to Cleo with angry eyes, her thin pale hand on Rae’s forehead.
"It was Dr. Potterly's idea." Cleo's voice was small and frightened.
"What was?" Thea demanded as she placed the back of her hand against Rae's cheek. The hot feeling was disturbing.
"It's just a mild sedative." Cleo’s lip quivered. "She was ranting and raving Thea, we were all so afraid of what she'd do."
"Would she have done it?" The actress asked her voice slow and serious.
"She's got the training." Cleo nodded her head softly. "We couldn't chance that she'd...."
"No." Thea interrupted, saving her from having to say the words. "Of course you couldn't. She will be all right though. Won't she?"
"Oh yes." Cleo reassured her. "Dr. Potterly gave her a very exact dose. Just long enough for you to do what you need to do."
"Look after her." Thea pushed herself up on unsteady feet, stopping when upright to look at Cleo with damp green eyes. "Please."
"Of course." Cleo nodded and stood up as well. "I promise. Thea, I have a man watching ever move. If trouble starts don't worry it won't escalate." She spoke in a confident tone. "Though Raven wouldn't see, there is more than one way to protect you. One that doesn't involve..." She looked to the unconscious figure on the floor.
"Thank you Cleo. For everything." The actress whispered the words.
"No need little star." She brushed it off. "I wish I could do more. Come back here as soon as possible."
"You have done so much." Thea paused. "Can I have the address of the house for the cab? To get back I mean."
"No cab Thea." Cleo shook her head. "The driver who takes you will be waiting. Say he's with the play. He'll get you back here."
"I don't want to be any trouble."
"No trouble little star." Cleo moved her hand softly down the actress' uninjured cheek. "We just want to get you through this."
Thea closed her eyes to the touch even though it was not Rae the hand was soft and gentle and most importantly not Edward’s.
"I will get through it Cleo." Thea vowed. "I have done it before. I can again."
"Shine bright my star." Cleo smiled at her warmly. "After tonight you'll have a long rest and we'll make sure you never have to do this again."
Thea did not reply she merely moved to the door eager to get this over with.
"Thea?" Cleo called to her following her up to the mahogany entrance. Thea stopped and turned to her. "Please don't blame Raven for this." She moved close to stand in front of her. "It's just her breeding." She spoke in a soft whisper. "In her world when someone hits you, you just hit them back, no thought for consequence. She's not from the circles that you and I have lived our lives in. She doesn't understand what you have to do tonight, but I do."
Cleo again moved her hand to the actress' cheek. Thea looked at her unable to pinpoint just what about the blonde’s words made her uneasy. This time the hand on her cheek brought her less comfort.
"I... I should go." She stammered.
"Be strong Thea." Cleo spoke firmly.
"I will." Thea replied desperate to get out the door.
"I'll take good care of Raven while your gone." She removed her hand finally. "And when you get back tomorrow morning, I'll take good care of you too."
"Thank you." Thea took a final glance at Rae. With one last deep breath she mentally prepared herself for that which was to come.
"Thank you so much for the game." Edward smiled again to the other gentleman who he'd met in the hotel fitness facility. "I'll be in touch about the deal."
‘This trip has been more profitable than I’d ever dreamed.’ He smiled smugly to himself. Resting the racket on his shoulder he happily sauntered through the lobby.
"Theandra!" He called to the young actress as he noticed her come into the lobby slowly through the main doors into the large room. He stayed in his spot waiting for her to come to him.
Thea looked up slightly surprised to hear Edward’s voice. With a strained breath she walked forwards. Her husband beamed at her as he took a cautious glance around to see who was about. It would be damaging for someone important to be around while she looked like this.
"Have you had a good day?" Thea asked her voice soft and controlled.
"Fabulous!" He beamed. "Did you and Tori get off shopping or something? Where is she?" He questioned her when he didn't see Victoria following. "She knows we have an early flight."
"Actually you won't believe this but Tori hooked up with a chorus guy." Thea pushed herself into character. "Marcus, actually he is a lovely guy."
"Good Christ." Edward rolled his eyes. "Is your sister constantly in heat or something?" He laughed at his own joke. "Is she staying then?"
"It would seem so." Thea forced herself to laugh with him.
"Well at least I'll have peace on the plane. Does your father know?" He asked shortly. "If I walk into him, I won't be pleased to be the news bearer." He reached out to her face.
"I was going to call him but I forgot the time. Perhaps you could explain?" She smiled at him lightly trying not to pull her stitches.
"Did you see someone discreet?" He asked in a low tone moving his finger lightly down the bruise.
"Of course." She answered in an equally low voice. She had been here so many times.
"Good girl." He leaned to kiss her cheek softly.
"What time is your flight?" Thea asked as she leaned into him.
"An ungodly four am.” He replied with a laugh.
"That is ungodly." Thea slipped her arm through Edward’s intending for them to head up to his room.
"Oh well we all must suffer." He smiled at her slightly. "Actually Theandra." He pulled his arm away from hers and stepped back.
"Yes?" She looked at him not quite sure what his next move would be.
"As I have such a early call and you need rest my love. Why don't you toddle off now, while I get a good nights sleep?" Thea looked at him, her heart skipped a beat. "I don't want you fighting the pills to see me off." He added in an even tone.
"Are you sure?" She could barely find the strength to question, afraid the offer would disappear.
"Of course Theandra." He took her hand and kissed it. "Anything for my princess."
"You don't want me to come to the airport?" Thea needed to be confident of his choice.
"No." He shook his head. The early flight might have too many of his colleagues at the airport. "You need your rest. I'm a big boy and I’m sure I can make a plane." He tapped her nose lightly.
"That being the case, would you mind if I go to the apartment the theatre got for me?" Thea asked suddenly realising she may be able to get out of this.
"Of course I don’t mind Theandra." He smiled at her again. “Though I'm disappointed I didn't get to see it." He shook his head.
"Next time." She whispered.
"Next time I expect a full tour, my little independent woman." He laughed lightly.
"You can have one." She patted his arm.
"And I'll even be the martyr that tells your Father that Victoria is on another quest." He laughed. "Least I can do." He added the last words smugly.
"Thank you Edward." The words burnt her like acid, but she kept up her role.
"You are quite welcome." He moved closer. "Give us a kiss and let's not make this messy."
"Gently." She whispered as she felt her lips sting at the thought of kissing him.
"Would I ruin you?" He whispered as he kissed her lightly pulling back immediately. "Do you need money for a cab?" He reached into his pocket.
"No, no. It's fine." Thea smiled. "I'm a working actress." She made the light joke hoping to appease him.
"Well buy yourself some flowers." He pulled a few bills from his money clip and handed them too her. "And try to call a bit more often."
"Give my love to everyone. I will." She felt her strength failing away.
"I'm at the club on Thursdays for lunch that would be a good time. Off you go." He patted her gently on the backside as he moved away. "I'll give everyone your love."
He waved the comment to her as he turned his back and moved off toward the elevator. Thea stepped backwards to lean against a pillar. She took a deep breath thankful again that it was over.
Cleo put her feet up on the bed, leaning into the chair she'd pulled over to it. Dressed now in a pair of silk pj's, she studied the technician in the dim light. Rae was under the covers unconscious and oblivious.
"Whose bed are you in dear Raven?" She spoke openly to her. "Oh that would be mine wouldn't it!" She laughed lightly. "I wish you'd gone down sooner blackbird." She licked her lips. "Though I did enjoy your little show in the lobby. Seems I have two little stars." She laughed again.
"Thea?" The thick lisped whisper came out of the woman on the bed. Cleo pulled her feet back to the floor as her eyebrows arched up.
"I'm right here." Cleo kept her voice a whisper as she moved closer to the bed.
"Thea, my head." Rae raised a hand up without opening her eyes.
"You've had a lot to drink my love." She sat on the edge and put her hand up to the woman’s forehead.
"I'm sorry." Rae struggled finally getting her eyes open. "I don't usually feel like this angel." She reached out her hand to the blonde’s cheek.
"No need for sorry." Cleo breathed. "Close your eyes."
"You are so beautiful." Rae whispered following the soft instruction closed her heavy eyes easily.
"So are you." Cleo feed the lines she thought Thea would be likely to say.
"No, you are beautiful angel." Rae slurred a heavy hand coming to rest on Cleo's leg nearby. "I love you."
"Oh love. You shouldn't do that." She breathed controlling her temper, though her face curled up into a snarl.
"Do what?" Rae questioned drawn back from oblivion by the voice.
"Love me." Cleo breathed back.
"I do." She mumbled. "I always have." Cleo had to breath hard to control her growing temper. "I always will." The words were thick and heavy as her head lulled off to one side.
"But you hardly know me." Cleo seethed, an edge entering her voice.
"I know your heart." One eye briefly tried to open but closed again strained.
"But what about Cleo?" The blonde whispered her face set and her voice hard.
"Cleopatra." The word rolled off Rae's lips in the same loving tone as her breathing evened again.
"What about her? Do you love her too?" She pushed for an answer.
"With the Queen's standard." Rae tossed her head and spoke suddenly. Cleo blinked and stared at her in wonderment. It was hard to tell if she’d stirred really. "Fly with the Queen's standard." The words repeated in a soft laboured voice.
"And that makes you feel?" Cleo asked her heart beating fast.
"I like to fly." Her voice laboured as the sedative worked to take even her illusion away.
"Could you ever fly with me?" Cleo pushed.
"I fly with the Queen's standard." She slurred again as she curled her legs up around where Cleo sat.
‘It would be so easy, so easy to take you.’ The blonde thought with a smile as she watched the unconscious form.
"Cleo?" Rae's eyes opened as she stretched her arm out, her voice was a bit clearer. Cleo blinked trying to catch her mind up to the reality that broke into her fantasy. "Where have you been?" She reached over to place her hand on the blonde’s thigh again.
"Raven." She kept her voice soft.
"I waited at that fucking restaurant for an hour." Rae rubbed at her face with her other hand.
"Restaurant?" Cleo queried completely lost.
"I knew your secretary was wrong." She snuggled back around the blonde.
"Wrong?" Cleo tried to put this conversation into a context.
"I knew you wouldn't just pick up for Monaco and leave me."
"I wouldn't leave you my Blackbird." Cleo laid a hand over the one on her leg.
"I don't want to fight baby." Rae pulled on her leg. "Come to bed."
"Is that what you want?" Cleo asked a broad smile across her face.
"I'm sorry I blew up at you." The words were forced as she sank into a bit of a slur. "I'll make it up to you baby."
"That would be nice." Cleo draped herself over Rae.
"You smell good." She gave her a sleepy grin. "I guess all the girls at the spa know I'm an evil bitch again." She laughed and Cleo couldn’t help laugh softly.
"I think you should settle Blackbird." She purred.
"Naw." The sleeping figure mumbled. "Too busy fighting for you to settle." She lazily put her arms around the body draped over her.
"No need to fight Raven." Cleo softly kissed Rae's arm.
"You starting something Queeny?" A lumbering laugh came out of Rae.
"Maybe." She purred relaxing a little.
"Maybe?" Rae slipped into the hallucination a bit more. "Well guess I'll go back to sleep then until you make up your mind." She smiled and snuggled back down the pills drawing her one way then the other.
"Sleep is good." Cleo instructed having grown tired of this it reminded her of the days that Rae had spent stoned.
"We have to meet Tommy tomorrow at the train." Rae held onto her tightly and forced Cleo to pull at the arms that held her beginning for the first time to feel uncomfortable. "Sweet dreams baby and no matter what you say..." Rae held her tight a second longer. "I do love you." With that the arms dropped away and Rae sunk completely into unconsciousness again.
"Yes." Cleo moved the limp hands from off her body and pushed herself off the bed. She shook her head as she stared at the unconscious figure. This was supposed to be everything she wanted so why didn't it feel like heaven?
A stark ray of light streaked across the bedroom wall to catch her attention and draw her to the window. The soft sound of a motor moved through the room with the light. She moved the blinds aside a little and saw the dark shape of the limo pull into the drive
"What do we have here?" She whispered to herself as she watched. "Maybe heaven just needs an angel." She knew the limo could only hold one person. Flicking the blind into place she moved swiftly down to the main door.
"Bartholomew get the door for her!" Cleo barked at the lumbering driver.
Thea delicately stepped out of the limo as the door was opened for her. Never believing she’d ever be this happy to be back at the Eaton estate.
"Thea, are you all right?" Cleo moved down the steps to help her. The actress looked up at her, her small body almost defeated. "What happened?"
"Nothing." Thea responded weakly.
"Thank God!" Cleo breathed through her teeth. "Come inside before you get a chill." She offered the actress her arm and Thea took it for fear of falling over. She let herself be led inside.
"Let's get you into bed." Cleo spoke in a soothing concerned purr.
"Do you mind if I sit for a second first?" Thea asked glancing at the study door.
"Of course." Cleo followed her gaze to the study and led them that way.
"He told me to go home and get lots of rest." Thea’s voice had a hint of venom. Though it was good to talk about it, she was unsure why she was telling Cleo this.
"How delightfully proper." Cleo's seethed back her anger at him.
"Yeah." Thea agreed.
"Let me help you sit." Cleo offered when they reached inside.
"He took the news about Tori without question." Thea filled the blonde in as she was helped into one of the leather chairs.
"Good." Cleo smiled as she pulled the other closer to sit as well.
"Shouldn't you be in bed?" Thea asked working out the time in her head.
"I couldn't sleep." She shook her head softly.
"How is Rae?" Thea asked the scene of her lover’s collapse forefront in her mind.
"She's sleeping like a baby. It’s you I was worried about you." She laid her hand gently on Thea's. "I'm afraid I know how his kind are."
"You do?" Thea’s mind caught on the words.
"I'm afraid it's a legacy of the Eaton men." She shook her head softly in shame.
"Really?" Thea concentrated on her every word, her face going sad. She rested her hand over Cleo's and frowned.
"Oh little star." Her frowned deepened. "They are a brutish bunch."
"Your father?" Thea hardly dare ask for clarification. Cleo looked away pained and nodded. This new information was hard for Thea to process through her growing medicinal haze.
"Little star, I myself have not faced your particular horror." She spoke softly. "But I have seen it and how his type of man treats it."
"You have had to deal with a lot Cleo." Thea was suddenly overwhelmed with sadness and compassion for this relative stranger.
"You have such a heart little star." She swallowed the venom in the words as she remembered Rae’s little rant.
"So you think I could trouble you for a drink?" Thea asked gently.
"What would you like?" Cleo moved back toward the cabinet without thought.
"Fruit juice?" Thea suggested.
"Orange okay?" Cleo opened the small fridge in the cabinet. "I think a drink would do us all good." She turned back to the desk where two crystal tumblers sat. The blonde hesitated as she stared at them. Trying to remember which one was Rae's and which had been hers, it gave Thea time to move forward and offer them to Cleo.
"Oh little star don't hurt yourself." Cleo tried to get her to stay still as she attempted to retrieve them before her without looking odd.
"It's okay." Thea wrapped a hand around her aching ribs as her hand closed round one glass.
"I'll get the juice then." Cleo reluctantly backed off forcefully pulling the juice container out of the fridge. Thea collected the two glasses and struggled to her feet glancing down at the tumblers.
"No, no." Cleo dropped the juice and moved over to Thea. "Don't get up. No need." She held her hands out for the glasses.
With a smile Thea held them out taking a second glance at one of them, which seemed to be lined in white.
"Isabella should have cleared these away by now." Cleo’s voice was tight as she took them away and dropped them onto the cabinet. With a gentle shake of her head Thea cast the observation aside and sat back.
"Do you want ice?" Cleo asked over her shoulder.
"Please." Thea nodded.
"I think I'll join you." Cleo laughed as she returned with two tall ice filed glasses of juice. She sat down and held the glass out for Thea, who nodded her thanks. "Victoria's sleeping soundly too by the way."
"Did James put her out too?" Thea was a little worried.
"Just something light." Cleo tried to reassure her. "Nothing like Rae. That was only because of her history. James is a fantastic physician." She tried to turn Thea's doubts away.
"I am sure he is and as you say with Rae's history it can't be easy." The actress said trying to hide her concern.
"No." Cleo let the small word come out pained, as the recent episode in the bedroom was enough of a reminder of the Raven's history.
"Sorry." Thea looked at Cleo the look on the blonde’s face had been enough to tell Thea to stop.
"It's just the past." Cleo looked off. "Always has this odd way of coming up behind you when you least expect it doesn't it?"
"The past is over." She leaned forward a little painfully and placed her hand on Cleo's.
"Yes, I guess it is." Cleo turned her head against the chair back to look at the actress. "Thea…"
"Yes, Cleo?" Thea met the woman’s brown gaze.
"I'm sorry, it's not my place." She used the term purposely as she abandoned the question.
"Place?" Thea asked picking up on the word.
"To ask questions little star." Cleo sighed softly. "We should get you to bed. Angels need their rest."
"Please Cleo." Thea squeezed the hand beneath her own. “Please ask.”
"Thea..." She hesitated before seeming to gain the strength to continue. "I understand your husbands cut so to speak and how horrible what life you do have with him is. Why didn't you explain it to Raven?"
"You wouldn't believe how many times I tried to tell her.” Thea smiled sadly.
"I can imagine." Cleo smiled back, but her face fell a bit as she thought. "She has no concept of it little star."
"I know and she is right to say I didn't try hard enough." The actress conceded softly.
"No Thea." Cleo shook her head. "She has no right to say that when she has no idea about what it is. Everything is so black and white to her." She sighed. "She has no idea of grey."
"Yes but I suppose the black is that I didn't tell her. But I never once lied to her Cleo. I swear to you I never did. It's just…" Thea stopped.
"Little star, little star." Cleo moved a bit closer putting the glass on the desk and then moving her other hand over Thea's. "You couldn't lie to Rae if you tried."
"How could I tell her?" Thea suddenly felt tears prick her eyes and heard her voice tremble.
"The real question is how could you get her to listen?" Cleo spoke softly. "Oh little star let it out." The blonde moved to brush the strawberry locks behind the actress’ ears.
"How could I tell a person who treated me like a princess, made me feel like a beautiful person, that I was married to a man who beat me, raped me and treat me like dirt? Just because he could." She couldn't stop the sobs.
"Oh little star, little star." Cleo moved gently to hold her settling down in the large chair beside the actress.
"How could I tell her as she held me and made love to me, that he haunted my sleep? Threatened to destroy all we had?" She continued to sob.
"You couldn't Thea, you couldn't." Cleo cooed softly. "His reign stops tonight." She whispered.
"No, it doesn't." She sobbed. "He won. I've lost her and now I only have him."
"No, my star. No." Cleo shook her head. "You can win her back."
"I can't." Thea shook her head.
"You must!" Her voice was firm as she moved to look the actress in the eye.
"How?" Thea blinked her eyes.
"Tomorrow morning." Cleo instructed softly. "Try to wake up early, she'll be out till at least nine. She's resting in the room at the end of the hall. Go to her, tell her everything."
"You have to my star." Cleo brushed her hair again. "You can't let the raven fly alone. She is lost without you to guide her."
"I don't know Cleo." Thea hesitated. "I think I need to go to bed."
"Of course." The blonde pulled back. "But at least try." She added softly standing and offering her arm. "We'll get you tucked up all safe and sound."
Thea willing took the offered support. She was too tired, confused and in too much pain to argue.
"Tomorrow will dawn a much better day." Cleo mused as she led the disoriented woman up to bed. "I guarantee it."
Cleo closed the door to Victoria’s room laughing to herself. The squeals of excitement that followed her out actually brought a smile to her face.
‘Hell, could a day of shopping and at the club with her be that bad?” She rolled her eyes and laughed again. ‘We’ll definitely need a driver 'cause I’m going to need wine and lots of it.’ She planned out her agenda. ‘The good thing is that it will leave Thea and Rae alone. The rest doesn’t matter.’
Cleo stepped up to the actress' door. She knocked softly, but not expecting the knock to get a response she opened the door after a time and let her self in. Softly padding across the room to the large bed. Thea was splayed in the middle of it asleep though looking very uncomfortable. Cleo sat on the edge and watched the young actress for a few minutes studying her.
"I can see what you saw Raven." She laughed to herself. "But lets see if you can give it up. Thea...Thea." She called softly at first gently rubbing her hand down the actress arm that was out of the blankets. "Thea, wake up honey." A soft moan came back to her. “Thea, Thea." She repeated the word smiling as the woman struggled out of sleep and against all the pills.
'She'd have made a much more complacent drug addict then Rae.’ The evil thought chuckled through her mind.
"Yes?" Thea opened her eyes with a blink. She blinked again to bring the figure sitting on the bed next to her into focus.
"Darling it's just me." Cleo smiled down at her. "Wake up slow, the pills are a bit of a bear."
"Cleo?" She questioned softly.
"Yes Thea, just Cleo. Nothing to fear." She rubbed her arm gently again.
"Morning." Thea smiled slighted.
"Good morning darling. How are you feeling?" She asked in a bright tone.
"Fuzzy." Thea replied honestly knowing her body hadn't woken up enough to register pain at least not in the full technicolour she expected.
"That's the medication, don't worry about it." Cleo shook her head. "You have nothing to do and all the servants at your beckon call so just give into it."
"How are you?” Thea asked with a gentle nod as she made a move to sit up in the bed.
"Me?" Cleo was a little taken by the question it wasn't often that people asked how she was.
"Yes Cleo, how are you?" She repeated.
"I'm fine little star. Just worried about my little clan." She shook off the question. "That is why I wanted to get your approval on taking Tori for a little shopping trip and lunch at the club." She spoke quickly. "I figured it would give you time to rest and her a bit of a distraction."
"You don't have to do that." Thea shook her head a little.
"Thea, darling." Her voice went low. "I don't have to 'do' anything. I want to." Her tone lightened again. "She's an adorable young woman and besides she's here for while. She needs more than what she brought."
"Have you asked her then?" Thea asked managing finally to sit upright as she looked at the tall blonde.
"Well I mentioned it, I hope that was okay." Cleo looked worried. "I didn't mean to overstep my bounds."
"Oh not at all. Though I am surprised you got the suggestion out before she agreed." Thea gave her a warm look.
"Oh I didn't." She laughed. "She almost crushed little me with the biggest hug."
"She would." Thea nodded happily.
"I also figured…" The blonde paused. “Well in case you decided to talk to Rae it would give you two privacy with her and I out of the house."
"Oh!" Thea looked down at her hands on the sheets.
"Just in case." Cleo spoke quickly. "No pressure and really I'm excited about having a day with your sister. I never had a little sister"
"Well don't let her roller coaster you into anything." Thea looked up with a smile as Cleo laughed.
"Me? Thea, unless she asks me to buy her a small country I can put in on credit and have it paid off by morning." The blonde kept laughing.
"Are you an only child?" Thea asked generally.
"Yes, only me." Cleo straightened out the sleeve of her blouse.
"That must have been hard." Thea mused quietly.
"Didn't matter in this house." She tried to keep calm.
"But you must have been lonely." Thea kept on. "Such a big house and only you."
"Here?" Cleo laughed tightly. "There are at least a dozen servants milling about at any given time. So anything your sister is partial too?" She tried to steer the topic away.
"Did your Mother spend a lot of time at home?" The actress asked, her curiosity steering easily with the influence of the painkillers.
"No." She spoke quietly and pained. Cleo’s her mind screamed to shut this woman up, talk of mother was not allowed.
"A business woman too huh?" Thea smiled knowingly.
"No, she is deceased." Cleo spoke in a short voice that caused Thea to instantly lose her smile.
"I'm sorry." Thea punctuated her short sentence with a long pause.
"Not your fault little star." Cleo laughed it off. "These things happen. Now Tori, who is her favourite designer? Or shall we be finding her one today?"
"Oh you will find all about Victoria if you take her dress shopping." Thea laughed her focus switching to the easier topic.
"How so?" Cleo asked intrigued.
"If you come back with anything other than jeans. I will shake your hand."
"Oh no, not another Blackbird." She laughed openly. "Get that hand ready then as I have managed to get even the mighty Raven in a dress on..." She thought for a moment. "Three... no four occasions." A wide smile broke on her face.
"Tori is more of a sparrow than a raven but… " Thea laughed lightly at Cleo's victory list. "Good luck with her. As a tip, she hates her legs!"
"I love a challenge.” Cleo winked at her. “Hates legs eh... humm... we'll work on that." She thought of the younger woman in the other room. Well they weren't the best legs but they weren't something to hate. No, she could find a few moments of like for them. "Anything you need while we are about? I'll get Tori to pick you out some things to rest in."
"I was about to place an order for a loose pair of cotton pants and a few baggy shirts." She conceded with a smile.
"Easily done." Cleo nodded.
"And don't let her near a shoe shop." Thea warned amazed at the geniality of Cleo.
"Why?” Cleo studied her.
"Because she'll only look at the boots! The chunkiest, bulkiest ones there." She laughed loudly.
"I think I can afford a few pairs of boots darling." The woman laughed motioning to their surroundings.
"Oh please Cleo." Thea laughed lightly. "Buy her a pair of shoes, with a pretty heel!"
"How about I make a deal with her?" Cleo grinned.
"A deal, why not." Thea looked at the blonde ready for details.
"No boots till we get one pair of heels and a nice formal outfit?" She gave them easily.
"If she goes for it, then the next time we dine out is on me." Thea pledged.
"Good show little star." The blonde smiled. "So anything else for you but pants and shirts?" She questioned. "Anything special I can get to cheer you up?"
Thea looked at Cleo and began to say something but she stopped herself. Her heart painfully reminding herself just who she was talking too and that she had been going to react to the question as if Rae had asked her.
"Come on there must be something." Cleo pushed lightly. "The sky is the limit little star."
"I can't ask for what I was going to." Thea gave her a little smile and then she laughed at her own mind.
"Why not?" The tall blonde questioned softly.
"Because you will think I am mad!" Thea laughed again.
"Never!" Cleo was adamant. "Can't hurt to ask, right?"
"A teddy bear." Thea looked away from the tall smart blonde.
"What kind of teddy?" Cleo leaned in, trying to keep the actress’ eye. Thea looked at Cleo to see if she was smirking, happy when there was nothing but a genuine smile. "Fluffy, big, brown?" This was too precious to mock. Her little actress wanted a teddy bear.
"Any kind." She breathed.
"I will get you the most precious bear little star." Cleo reached out to lightly take her hand. "And he'll always remind you that today and forever, you fly under the Queen’s standard and no one can ever hurt you again." She whispered softly.
'Well no one but the queen herself.' Cleo's mind hissed the fact for recognition.
"Cleopatra?" She whispered back. "The Queen of the Nile."
"The Queen of the world." Cleo purred.
Thea smiled at the blonde but her smile was not as assured as it once had been. There was something about Cleo's response that threw her.
“Now I am going to collect that darling sister of yours and we will be back laden with a fashion show before dinner." The blonde announced as she moved to stand.
"Cleo?" Thea watched the woman stand and tracked her movement to the door. “Enjoy her. She is lovely, no matter what she says." She added the last part softly.
"I will Thea, I will." Cleo’s pearly white teeth flashed momentarily. "And no boots till we got heels!" She laughed openly and the actress laughed back.
"Remember the legs!" She interjected as Cleo reached the door.
"Legs!" Cleo winked. "Consider it noted." She tapped her temple. "And little star." Her voice went soft. "Think about talking to Raven. Please." She let the word hand long as she stepped out and left.