After the Curtain Falls

Act Sixteen

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:


THANKS:  To Emma, for her never ending love, support and chocolate.  To the Ex-Guards Village for all their feedback and expert advice.  



Thea was relieved when she completed her trek down the flight of stairs. She hurt in places she had forgotten could hurt. Finding Rae still completely asleep had come as a bit of a blow.


‘But maybe that’s for the best, this way she has to come find you.’ She thought as she meandered across the front lobby.  ‘And if she doesn’t then that's just how it should be.’


The only thing she wanted to do now was curl up somewhere and heal. After her brief talk with the second doctor she knew the score and knew what she needed to do.


The thought that she had to deal with the play soon hit her as she made her way into the lounge. She walked through the ornate double doors into the spacious room.


‘Worry about that later.’ She tried to calm her mind. ‘For today at least I just want to heal without worrying.’


A fire burned brightly in the double sized fireplace and several leather couches were strategically placed to capture the heat. Rugs littered the floor and the two double bay windows were draped in heavy burgundy velvet.  By the window sill a small display cabinet filled with crystal statues was being dusted by a short dark haired woman. Thea couldn't judge her age from this back view.


"Oh I am sorry Miss. Winters." The short woman turned to her and apologised, pulling a nervous hand through her greying hair.


"It's all right." Thea gave her a reassuring smile wondering if she should know this maid. Had she been introduced yesterday when she was out of it?


"Would you like me to get you some tea or something for brunch? My name is Isabella." The woman curtsied a little. "Miss. Eaton has advised all of the staff of you’re staying with her."  She read the look of slight confusion on the woman's face.


"Thank you Isabella." Thea smiled warmly again. "I see." She nodded, having expected no less.


"Please lie down and relax." The worried woman motioned to the couch. "Let me get you a blanket." She hurriedly moved to a large cabinet off to one end of the room pulling a thick quilt out of the bottom drawer.


"I will thank you." She moved to the couch slowly happy to sink into the soft leather.


"Are you sure there is nothing at all I can get you?" The maid asked as she draped the blanket over the actress.


"Do you have tea?" Thea asked feeling a little foolish.


"Of course." Isabella smiled. "What kind would you like?"


"Earl Grey?"


Isabella nodded and moved away to retreat out of the room’s back exit.


Thea leaned back a little pushing her aching back into the soft material.  With some discomfort she moved her legs up on to the couch as her body reminded her of the meaning of the word pain.


In record time, the maid returned carrying an enormous tray bearing a complete tea set ready with the lone cup.


‘Just like being at my parents.’ She thought as she watched the woman arrange the service.


"I took the liberty of bringing lemon, honey and such." The woman smiled softly. "As I am unaware of how you take your tea."


"With lemon." Thea offered nodding gently.


"Lemon." Isabella nodded back and poured out the tea leaving it on the table closet to Thea.  "Is there anything else Miss. Winters?"


"Just one thing." She turned to the maid.


"Of course." The maid stood waiting for her orders.


"How bad does my eye look?" The actress asked with a smile.  She could barely see out of it now and she new it was getting worse by the minute.


"Oh." The small pained word came out of the elderly woman.  "I'm afraid it's almost closed."  She shook her head sadly. "Would you like some ice for it?"


"Know any good old Canadian remedies?" Thea asked with a light laugh to show the maid that she was aware how it must look and that she was all right about it.


"Well my husband, God rest his soul." Isabella blessed herself quickly.  “He always said that raw steak took the swelling out." She laughed lightly. "But I think it's just the cold that's good for it."


"Well I am not a vegetarian or anything but I don't think I could cope with that!" She joined in laughing as much as her ribs would allow.


"Ice then?" The maid asked smiling.


"Probably for the best." Thea nodded.


"I could have doctor Potterly called if you'd like?" She questioned before going to get the ice.


"No, I am sure he will turn up in his own time any way." The actress spoke softly. 


"We are to expect him at eleven." The maid retreated to go and get ice for her.


"Ah." Thea leaned her head back and closed her eyes trying to take stock on the recent events.  As she tried to make some reason of things she realised that the pain made it impossible.  Opening her eyes, she looked around at the room.


“There aren’t any pictures.” She spoke to herself softly.  In her parents house there wasn't a room in the house without a photograph of her, or Tori or both of her parents. More often there was one of each of them. “Not a one here.” Painfully she twisted round. Not finding any behind her she turned back. The walls were hung with fine paintings but no photographs. “Not even on the mantel.” She noted the odd occurrence as Isabella slipped back in with a terry wrapped ice pack


"Miss. Eaton has impeccable taste for art." The woman spoke absently as she moved to present the pack to the actress.


"Yes she does." Thea agreed. "But not for photographs." She added absently not really meaning the maid to hear her.


"Mr. Eaton has not allowed photographs since her passing." The maid blessed herself again, stiffening when she realised that this was a guest and not another servant she was talking too.  She really was losing her touch in her old age. "I'm sorry, I'll leave you now. Call if you require anything as one of us is always nearby."


"His wife?" Thea questioned for clarity to stop the maid’s retreat. The woman nodded slightly.  “When was that?" She asked figuring this might be the best way to find answers to some of the questions burning in her mind.


"It'll be twenty five years this Christmas." The woman blessed herself again.


"She died at Christmas time?" She asked a little disturbed.


 "Yes, it was Christmas." The maid shook her head sadly.


"How terrible." Thea’s voice was honest. "And how old was Angelina?"


“A mere seven." The maid frowned.


"How did it happen?"  Thea asked boldly, her mind reeling at how young Cleo had been.


"It was not the right way for a beautiful woman like her to pass." The maid shook her head after a short hesitation.


"I'm sorry." She offered seeing the hesitation.  "It isn’t my business."


"Oh no Miss. Winters." The maid apologised. "It is just such a tragedy."


"An accident?" Thea offered thinking on the maid’s words.


"That was the official account." She uneasily sat down without thinking. "But those of us who were here know that is a lie."  Thea's mind stopped its logical arguments of explanation as she looked at the maid.  "She didn't slip that day, she'd walked the balcony a hundred times."


"It happened here?" She breathed as the woman’s words registering in her head.


"On the third floor." The maid whispered. "It's barred up now. Her private rooms were up there."


"Private rooms?" Thea asked thinking of her own family home.  There wouldn’t be any chance of her mother having private rooms.  Especially not with her and Tori roaming everywhere.


"Yes, Mrs. Eaton had her own private rooms up there." The woman smiled. "She was a painter. It was her sanctuary."  She added in a soft whisper.


"I had no idea." Thea was suddenly intrigued.


"Not many do."  Isabella shook her head. "Most every bit of her has been wiped from the house."


"Are any of her paintings in the house?" She asked desperate to see this allusive hidden woman.


"There is one, it in Angelina's study." 


"Do you think could I see it?" Thea moved the blanket back and pushed herself off the couch.


"Of course." The maid smiled. "Miss. Eaton said you are to have free reign." She grinned to herself knowing the order was to be followed regardless of request.  The older woman got up slowly. "Let me help you Miss. Winters." She offered her arm.


Thea took it letting the older woman guide her. Isabella led her slowly to the study.


"Did she paint a lot?" Thea asked as they walked.


"Oh yes!" Isabella looked off happily. "She was a wonderful artist."


Thea looked around the study walls her ears registering the maid’s reply but her focus intent on looking for the painting. Isabella knew that Thea would be surprised when she didn't see the painting straight off.


"Miss. Amanda was most talented especially with portraits. Let me show you." Isabella smiled.


"Please do." Thea nodded a bit confused as to where the painting was.


"This is all a bit much but Miss. Eaton thinks it necessary." The maid moved towards the wall that held a large seascape. She punched the hidden switch in the table underneath watching as a large piece of the wall sunk in and slid over revealing the medium sized painting held in a golden frame. Thea watched intrigued as her eyes registered the sight of a young girl sat on top of a brown horse her blonde hair flowing in the wind. Her smile captured perfectly.


‘Oh my!’ Thea’s lips moved silently to form the words as she took a slow step forward.


"It is beautiful, isn't it?" The woman moved back to let the actress see.


"It's Angelina." She breathed, her voice still nearly silent.


"Yes." Isabella whispered. "Miss. Amanda worshipped her daughter.”


Thea stared at the image of the young girl. The large doe brown eyes and blond hair so perfectly captured.  Yet there was a stark difference between the young girl in the painting and the woman she knew but she just couldn't work out what it was exactly.


"This is the last painting Miss. Amanda completed." The woman added softly. "It was her Christmas present to Angelina. I think that is why Miss. Eaton keeps in hidden as it is the last token she has of happiness."


"Was the horse Angelina's too?" Thea managed to ask after some moments of silence.


"Yes, Chocolate muffin." The maid laughed at the name. "Miss. Amanda let her name it."


"It's beautiful." Thea’s voice was full of awe as she reached out her fingers to touch the gold frame lightly.


"The rest were taken from the house and none have laid eyes on them since." Isabella looked at the painting sadly. "Except for the unfinished ones I imagine are barred in her chambers, but those shall never been seen either."


"Are there any pictures of her, any where?" Thea asked still unable to look away from the painting.


"I have one actually." The maid smiled. "You see I have been with Miss. Amanda since she was a young woman."


"Really?" This made Thea finally look away from the picture. 


"Yes, let me bring it here." The older woman moved off slowly.


Thea smiled warmly watching the maid walk away, her eyes going back to the painting. She studied the young girl in riding clothes who smiled back at her still unable to place what it was that reached out from the piece and haunted her.


"Here we go." The maid came back in and handed the small frame to the actress.


"Thank you." She whispered softly as she looked down at the black and white photograph in the silver frame.


"She was the most beautiful creature." The maid took a step away. "In both body and soul."


‘Indeed she was.’ Thea thought as she found herself amazed by the tall elegant woman that looked back at her. The young woman was dressed in a typically expensive gown that was both simple and elegant.


"The money was all hers."  Isabella added suddenly not really knowing why she wanted to tell this.  “That's why Angelina controls it all now."


"They look so similar." She suddenly realised only accidentally that she was saying her thoughts out loud.


"Yes, it is almost eerie to look at Miss. Eaton.  I often have to remind myself it is not Miss. Amanda."


"The same eyes, cheek bones…" Thea listed the similarities that struck her. "Same mouth…"    The maid nodded. "And hair." Even though the photograph held no colour it was obvious that Amanda Eaton had white blond hair just like her daughter.  It was even a similar length to the style that Cleo wore.


"I say they would have been almost the same woman." Isabella spoke softly. "If not for losing her."


"Why did she do it then?" Thea asked her voice very low as she held out the frame to return it to the older woman.


"It's hard to understand, they'd fought so many times." She took the frame and slipped it into the large pocket in her apron. "Especially over Angelina."


"Over Angelina? She was just a child. What was there to fight over?" A streak of pain raged inside of Thea. 


"A child's life must be planned." The maid shrugged. "The woman you see today is her father's doing, not Miss. Amanda's.  Mr. Eaton wanted a son not a daughter, but when Miss. Amanda couldn't have any more children he decided a daughter would have to be moulded."


"Couldn't?" Thea breathed in slowly, remembering her conversation with Cleo that morning.  She felt her stomach sink slightly.  She’d no idea of the hornet’s nest behind all this and there she had been with all her pushy questions.


"It nearly killed her to have Angelina." The maid continued. "Such a slight woman, she wasn't built for birthing. Mr. Eaton had decided that if he could have no son, then his daughter would be all that a son could have been." She shook her head softly.


"Boarding school and private at home tutoring during the summer months?" Thea suggested what the man’s solution would have been in a bitter voice.


"No quite worse I'm afraid." The woman shook her head.


"Worse?" Thea frowned, unable to think of a worse.


"He was to teach her himself." Isabella looked away. "Miss. Amanda wanted none of that."  The actress could only listen astounded.  "Business meetings is not a place for a seven year old.  Horseback riding, painting, some school... play was for a seven year old, not stock meetings and club luncheons." 


Thea shook her head it had been hard for her and Tori but nothing like what Isabella was describing.


"Miss. Amanda got her way somewhat I imagine."  The maid blessed herself again. "His plans didn't quite work either as when the estate went to Angelina he was left with near to nothing in comparison and over time as she grew Timothy couldn't bare to look at his daughter." She whispered the last words.


"He moved away?" Thea asked very aware suddenly that Mr. Eaton was just as non-existence as Mrs. Eaton.


"No, not formally." She shook her head. "But he is rarely in the country."


"But surely he was the executive of the estate, until Angelina was old enough?" Thea questioned trying to understand.


"No." The maid shook her head.  "You see Miss. Amanda was a Philips originally and it was from her mother that her estate came. The money was put in trust for Angelina and the estate is so large it was to be run like a company. It had a board of directors until Angelina was old enough to take control of it herself."


"I see." Thea whispered hardly able to understand how such a weight could be left on the shoulders of a child.


"He was given a sum to make any legal claim to the estate nullified, on top of a prenuptial he had to sign when he married Miss. Amanda. All of this is Angelina's." She motioned to the house. "Mr. Eaton is very rich indeed, but it is Angelina who is Queen. That was her mother's legacy, a daughter who would never want for anything but who could never have the one thing she wanted."  The woman spoke softer. "Her mother's suicide both made her and ruined her."


Thea looked at the painting again suddenly realising what the difference was. She lost herself in the child’s brown eyes.


‘The sparkle!’ The difference became clear in her mind. There was no sparkle in Cleo's smile not like there was in this child's.  She tore herself from the painting and looked back at Isabella.


"You should probably sort that." She motioned to the painting. "And I need to sit down. Not to mention the fact I have a lovely cup of tea waiting for me." She smiled lightly.


"Of course." The woman moved to close up the wall again. "Such a tragedy." She blessed herself again.  “Let me help you back." Isabella offered when she saw the young actress begin a struggled walk out of the study.


"No, no. You get back to what ever you need to do." Thea rested a heavy hand on the doorframe.


"Thank you Miss. Winters." The maid bowed slightly. "You let me know if you need anything at all and may I say…" Thea smiled and waited for the older woman’s words. “It's nice to see this house filled with people again."




Rae held her hands to her head as she slowly and gingerly walked down the stairs.  The firelight flickered out across the marble in the foyer had set her path towards the sitting room.


"Isabella, is there any aspirin in the house I feel like a truck hit me?" She asked without looking expecting to see the maid. "Oh Thea!" The small acknowledgement escaped her as her eyes focused on the actress snuggled up on the couch.


"Rae?" Thea sat up a little turning uncomfortably to look at the tall woman.  The pain in her lover’s voice distressed her immediately.


"How are you doing?" She asked trying to quell the torrent in her head.


"I'm okay." The actress replied softly.


"I didn't mean to disturb you..." Rae lowered her hands to her sides.  "I'll just go find Isabella and let you rest." She took a step backwards.  “Do you need anything?"


"Rae, please…" She was glad her worlds stopped the technician’s retreat. "You aren't disturbing me and here…” She took a small packet of tablets from the tray. "Aspirin."


"Oh thanks." Rae moved forward talking the small packet quickly and sitting on one of the other couches. "I have no idea where this headache came from." She studied her own mind trying to remember but there was only a big gapping hole staring back at her.  "Okay, why can't I remember anything since yesterday?"  She asked closing her eyes confused.


"You don't remember last night?" Thea asked gently looking at her beloved.


 "Last night?" Rae opened one eye to look at her.


"What do you remember?" Thea asked a little more directly, very concerned.


"Last thing I remember Potterly came down..." She stopped as that reality cleared in her head.  "Oh God, are you all right? Christ, you didn't go did you?" She snapped back to angry in a flash, though it was tempered by a massive concern for the actress.


"Rae, it's okay." Thea tried to soothe her.


"No, Thea it's not." She shook her head as adamantly as she could. "I'm going to teach that son of a bitch a lesson."


"Rae, love, he's half way around the world by now." The actress made another attempt to calm her.


"What?" The wind was pulled from Rae’s sails immediately. "Christ, how did I lose twelve hours?" She looked to Thea for answers.


"You don't know?" Thea returned the confused look.


"No!"  Rae’s response was sharp.


"But I thought you and Potterly agreed..." She frowned.


"What?" Rae leaned forward on her knees. "Agreed on what? The last thing I agreed too was waiting in the study while Cleo talked to him and then I was going to go have a word with the bastard.”


"Rae, you were sedated." She spoke the words slowly.


"Whoa!" The technician put her hands up in protest as she stood up. "I was what?"


"Cleo said it was Potterly's suggestion that you were to be sedated." Thea’s voice was slow and unsteady.


"With a fucking truck?" She pulled at the pain in her forehead pacing back and forth before the fire.


"I have no idea what with." Thea watched her pace. "Something major. It took you out like a light."


"Okay let me get this straight.” Rae turned taking a deep breath.  “Everyone decided I should be taken out so that what shouldn't have went on could go on?"


"No, not everyone. There was only you, Cleo and the doctor around. Don't you remember?" Thea’s frowned deepened.


"No, Thea! I do not remember consenting to being put down!" She barked angrily turning to look at the fire.


“By the time I managed to get downstairs you and Cleo were arguing in the hall. You went out there. I was scared you'd hurt yourself on the marble. I thought you knew." The weak actress kept talking desperate to make Rae understand the sedative hadn’t been her idea.


"In the hall?" The technician’s mind caught up. "If I'd agree to be sedated why would I go down in the hall?"  Thea's own head began to spin as she realised how odd the story sounded.  “Then there is the small fact that sedatives give me the biggest fucking headache in the world, so why would I agree to taking them?"


"I'm sorry." Thea spoke almost silently as she looked past Rae to the dancing flames.


"Why Thea?" She questioned losing her anger.  "If you didn't know, you have nothing to be sorry for." She walked back and slumped down in her former place on the couch.


"I should have questioned Cleo more." Thea berated herself gently.


"You had enough on your mind." She shook it off.


"I had nothing on my mind that matters as much as you do." The actress made the sad honest comment in a strong voice.


"Yes, you did Thea." Rae turned away her voice even.


"No, I didn't!" She stressed again.


"You had to protect him." The technician shook her head turning back. "Why I don't know but apparently you had too."


"I wasn't protecting him, I was protecting everything else." Thea kept her eyes on the flames.


"Who? Thea, everyone was safe here?” She asked the question that had been eating at her.


"Do you believe that?" She looked at Rae as she asked.


"Yes.” The technician nodded. "And if I thought your parents were in danger I'd send people over for their security."


"Oh please Rae!" She snapped angrily. "This isn't about security that you can buy, or pay for or higher someone to achieve."


"Then what is it?" Rae snapped back instantly.


"It's about mental security. It's about Tori being able to wake up this morning knowing that she can go out with Cleo. Go shopping have fun, be twenty-three without the thought that he is still here. It's about me knowing you can't do anything dumb and get yourself hurt or locked up." She listed out the facts that Rae seemed to be missing.


"Yeah well maybe I think some things are worth getting locked up over." The tall woman stood again.  "Mainly when someone crosses the line he did. That he’s walking around thinking he's done nothing wrong and will never pay for it is not part of my idea of mental security."


"So he crossed the line Rae, so what?" The actress threw the blanket covering her body back.


"So what?" Rae looked at the actress astonished. "Christ, Thea!" She sunk back down onto the couch.


"You think that was the first time?" She snapped her eyes blazing and her heart pumping. "You think that this was a one off because he'd been missing me?"


"He should have been killed every time." The technician’s voice seethed back.


"Rae, I am his wife. He has rights." Thea spoke the sad words harshly.


"No, don't give me that tired line." She looked up.  “Not from you. You're better than that."


"That's how it works." Thea found her anger gone.


"A ring does not give anyone that right.  Marriage doesn't work like that Thea." She shook her head.


"And how does it work? Love? Is that what turns matrimonial wheels?” A slight bitterness crept into the actress’ voice.


"Yes!" Rae snapped back.


"He doesn't love me any more than I love him." Thea replied shaking her head. "That never had anything to do with it."


"Then why on God's earth are you married?" The technician asked lost suddenly.


"I was a pretty, useful rich girl. I look good and that’ll help to bring in business." She stated the reality of her arrangement.


"What?" Rae's jaw dropped.


"I was a necessary tool." Thea’s voice was more lost than angry.


"You’re his wife Thea, you’re not a tool." Her jaw dropped further.


"Rae." She looked at the raven-haired woman. "I was more like a badly paid whore." She didn’t break their gaze as she spoke. 


Rae swore she'd been slapped across the face though she didn't know whose hand it was as the air drained out of her slowly.


"But..." The technician stammered. "Why?" She tried to find one thought to hang onto.


 Thea watched Rae's face and regretted her words immediately.  It was even more obvious now that Cleo was right.  Rae had no concept of the lifestyle she was being described.  This was not part of the technician’s black or white world.


"Why?" She breathed softly needing Rae to ask more clearly.


"Why didn't anyone stop this?" Rae asked finally in a tiny voice. "They had to see."


"See?" Thea remarked softly. " Rae…" She wasn't sure how to say this. "My father chose this for me."


"I mean my father would have killed any guy who dared slap me let alone..." The technician’s voice trailed off as Thea's words registered in her ears.  "He chose this?" She looked up the actress, her rage bright.  Her words shook from the force of it and her breathing was thick and deliberate.


"I was little use to him as a girl." Thea explained.


"For money?" Rae asked trying to settle this in her mind.


"The only assets I had were that I looked good and knew how to behave." The actress felt herself grow weaker as she watched Rae’s anger building.


"God, what good could you be?" She stood quickly and circled the couch. "Hell a world class talented actress was nothing of use. Son of a bitch!" She slammed her hand into the wall.


"That didn't carry on the family estate or keep us in the high society." Thea tried to explain.


"Women can carry estates, look at Angelina." Rae motioned around, the blood seeping off her knuckles.  "And pardon me but my opinion of such a high society is not much at the moment." She growled. "As it sits by excepting the rape and torture of its women and how a father can sit by and watch that done to his daughter, arrange it to be done no less." She shook her head. "I will never understand, as it is not comprehensible!"


Rae grew silent the next moment as she backed up against the wall, sliding down it to sit on the floor.  Her eyes unfocused and wild as her mind raced and turned.


'He has to die!' The thought was more solid than ever. 'After all, he'd...' The thought of it pushed a tear down her cheek. 'And it wasn't the first time… OH GOD NOT THE FIRST TIME!’  The pained scream sliced into her.  ‘Nobody gets away with hurting my angel.  Not now, not then, not ever!’


"Rae?" Thea got off the couch and moved towards her lover slowly. "Love?" She reached out a hand towards Rae's arm.  The dissociated state that had taken over the technician made her insides go cold.


'I'll get the Lear.'  The plans rambled in the technician’s head.  'I'll find out where he is in England that shouldn't be too hard since Cleo's got a man on him. He's going to feel pain, oh yeah lots of pain.'  The thoughts rambled in her head.  'Maybe I'll get him picked up first and taken somewhere secluded.  Real pain takes time!'


"Angel?" Thea tried to keep the pain out of her voice as she squatted down.


"I'm sorry." Rae broke from her thoughts, looking at the actress to whimper the regret. "I should have..."


"Should have?" She asked her hand completing the journey to rest on Rae's arm.


"He'll pay for it all Thea, every moment. I swear he'll know he was wrong." Her usually strong voice came again broken and small.


"And what will that do to you?" Thea breathed a tear slipping from her swollen eye.


"That doesn't matter." Rae breathed back.


"It matters to me." The actress stated honestly.


"He has to pay for what he's done." Rae fell silent. "Why didn't you tell me?" She asked blankly when she found her voice.


"How could I?" Thea voice was soft.


"You knew I could stop him, could make him go away."  Rae tried to figure out where she stood.  How could she believe she mattered if she couldn't figure out why the actress had kept her in the dark?


"Do you remember?" Thea had to sit back the pain in her stomach too much to stay in the squatting position.


"Remember?" The technician asked confused.


"At the restaurant. You asked if there was anyone who would mind that we were there. Anyone who would care, who would be jealous?"


"Yes, you said no." Rae spoke in a hurt whisper.


"And I told you the truth." Thea was adamant. "Edward doesn't care what I do as long as when I am with him he can screw me as much as he wants." She couldn't make the facts sound nice. Rae's head snapped down again at the answer.  "Rae." She looked at her lover. "For the first time, ever in my life, when I was with you I felt loved." Many more tears spilled down her face. "I felt important and I thought maybe, just maybe I had a chance."


"A chance?" Rae asked hanging on every word trying as she tried to figure this out.  None of it went with the lines in her head, the set pattern of the world.


"A chance to be free, a chance to be happy and a chance to be loved. I was seventeen when I was engaged to Edward. I was just a child. A child with dreams of what tomorrow would be. Dreams that turned into the nightmare of his reality.” Her voice lost a bit of its strength. “The nights of hell, the hours in private clinics. A puppet on the strings of a life I never even chose."  Rae listened silently as each new word tore her up even more.  "So I just studied hard and with all of the spirit in me that would fight against my life I did fight.  Determined I would get away and I did Rae." She looked at Rae needing to see the blue eyes that stared back at her. "Have you got any idea how our first night together felt?"


"It was wonderful." Rae answered softly.


"It was more than that, knowing that he couldn't get me, knowing I was completely safe. That you were there, that you loved me and that you would keep me safe.”


"But Thea…" The flaw came to Rae bright again. "If you didn't tell me the danger how was I supposed to keep you safe?"


"Love, wrong kind of safe again." Thea tried to clarify. "Safe up here." She patted the side of her head gently.


"But I couldn't keep you any safer." She tried to dampen the loathing in her voice as it was against herself and she didn't want the actress to misunderstand. "He waltzed in and I let him do this. While he was..." She swallowed hard. "All I was worried about was myself and…" The reality of the time frames that night hit her hard.


"No love, please don't go there." Thea reached back out to rest her hand on the technician’s arms. 


"No please." She moved away from the hand. "I have to think." 


Thea pulled back her hand. She sat back and watched Rae move away. 


"I need to think." Rae paced toward the door and then backed into the room a bit. "I..." Thea just watched her drained and scared.  "I'm sorry." The tall woman stammered pacing closer and closer to the doorway and the foyer. "I just don't understand. How could he? How could I?" She paused and rubbed her forehead. "And this, this different safe. I have to think."


The final words came harshly as she finally moved out of the room. Thea was about to push herself up to follow her, when she stopped and just watched the Raven go. She was helpless in the face of such adversity.




Rae walked through to the back of the house out the rear door and barefoot onto the stone slabs of the garden path. She kept walking, cursing to herself as she went.


"Christ what is going on here?" She walked into the tree line at the back of the yard knowing now she was far enough from the house for her words and actions to be hidden.


"What kind of a fucked up country is England?" She barked the words at the trees as she flicked her hand and send trails of clotting blood across the underbrush.


"Don't be so naive Cassie." It was Lillian's voice that came out of nowhere in her head and made her stop.  "So it takes a new form, but the abuse and subjection of women is ingrained in all societies." The woman's soft voice of reason came to her again, a conversation from long before welling up in her mind.


"God I wish you were here Lillian." She admitted weakly as she sunk down against a tree, the cold frost on the ground soaking into the pj's she still wore.  "How do I make sense of this?  Okay she didn't tell me, that hurt’s more than anything.  I don't care about this different

safe." She shook her head as the first tear fell. "I could have kept her from this at least." She wiped at her face with her uninjured hand.


"Stupid, Rae stupid." Her mind went again to that night, losing herself in Cleo, for what?  “Cause you didn't want to admit it'd gone to hell."  She shook her head.  "Well looks like you fucked it right good O'Keefe."  She barked at herself. 


"Hey Thea, by the way." She mocked herself.  "While you were being raped and having the crap beat out of you I'd decided I'd get back at you and I went and fucked Cleo for a few hours.  Just perfect."  She pulled her knees up to her chest and started sobbing when there were no more words. She didn't know what to think or what to feel or even if she was capable of either.




Rae stepped back into the house at full steam. That was it, this all had to be settled and it had to be settled now, one way or the other. She couldn't go on like this, she felt like she was loosing her mind. She entered the living room still at full gate, standing full in the doorway when she saw the actress on the couch.


"Okay that's it we need to talk please." She figured why start with polite introduction’s though her steam softened as she saw the small battered woman.


"Okay." Thea turned uncomfortably.  "Let's talk." She added.


"Okay." Rae moved in closer, still in constant motion. "So I'm the naive sorta sheltered type apparently." She snatched the napkin off the tea tray and wrapped it around her hand.


"I didn't say that." Thea corrected watching Rae carefully.


"No, no."  Rae shook her head. "It's not a said it's a fact, as I have no concept at all of how things have worked. You see the only relative I have ever had that hit his wife didn't do so cause he thought she was property but because he drank too much and he was an asshole. Then again my mother, I'm told, almost killed him so you can see my standing ground." She turned to make sure she was making some sense.  "So this is not a given concept to me... Rae meet Thea's husband.  Now he's not a real husband, just some bastard she had to marry and everyone allows him to abuse her like a slave." She refrained from using Thea's choice of words.


"But as I said Rae, he was not my husband in the sense you mean and know." The actress repeated.


"Okay so we agree on that point." Rae nodded still moving in long paces around the room.


"I can understand that this concept is hard.” She offered trying to show the technician that she understood how alien the idea was for the technician.


"Good, cause Thea this is all coming out of left field at me." Rae stopped and turned to look at her.


"Oh come on, I am sure even in Canada people do things to climb ladders.”  Thea’s voice was vaguely condescending. She could understand Rae having a hard time with the concept but surely the technician didn’t have her head buried in the sand completely.


"Well there's our other problem then." Rae went back to her pacing. "I am not a ladder climber. I don't come from ladder climbers. I come from men and women who came home with their hands dirty every night.  You didn't sell your wife for business and if you happened to entertain the boss to dinner. That's all it fucking was... food!" Her voice boomed off the walls of the living room.


"Guess I should have been born here." Thea laughed trying humour.


"Well it's a damn good thing I wasn't borne there."  Rae didn't find this funny. "Okay Thea..." She tried to find her main point wherever it had gone. "I don't get this different safe thing... safe is safe in my books, but for the sake of argument... let's say different safes exist."  Thea nodded, deciding it was best to stay quiet for a second and let the tall woman talk.  “Didn't you think that if you explained him to me I would have understood that you hated him, didn't want to be with him? I'm naive Thea, but I'm not brain dead. “


"Why should I give him air time? Why should I let him encroach on the only good thing I had?" Thea asked pained.


“Because Thea at some point he would have had it." She stopped in a wide stance looking down at the smaller woman on the couch.  "He would have become an issue. At some point he would have had to been dealt with, you and I building a life... at some point your bastard so called husband would have been an issue."


"And I would have told you but when he couldn't hurt us." Thea tried to defend herself.  "I could have divorced him quickly and quietly."


"Thea, up until that night he couldn't have hurt us." Rae shook her head, her voice a little louder that she wanted.


"He could always hurt us." The actress snapped back.


"How?"  Rae demanded.


"Just like he has done." Thea growled at her.


"No Thea, he didn't do this.  You did this part of it by not telling me."


"Even if I had told you about him from day one."  She said back angrily. "He could have hurt us."


"Okay maybe not day one." Rae began walking again. "But as I'm spilling out all my long lost dark secrets it never struck you to think hey I can tell this now or maybe no."


"Me telling you, not telling you doesn't change his power." Thea stressed the real point.


"Hey maybe with the two of us fighting him he wont have any more power. Maybe if we built our life together on honesty then he can't hurt us ever. The only power he has it what you give him Thea." Rae barked angrily.


"He has money and he has power." She snapped back at the same intensity.


"Fuck Thea, I am a tech monkey but I thought you saw I am not just that.  I have money and power."  Rae threw her hands up in defeat.


"I don't care what you have, what you don't have. I almost wanted you to be a poor hard up techie.  I didn't care what you were. He has my parents.  He has my families’ status. He has me." Thea shouted back loudly.


"That's it isn't it, he has you." Rae screamed back. "That's why I couldn't do a damn thing."


"You did everything." Thea dropped her voice from its raised pitch.


"Apparently not." Rae’s hands dropped down to her sides.


"For Gods sake Rae, stop it!" Thea snapped sharply at the display.


"Stop what?" Rae asked looking back at her.


"Stop punishing yourself, me, us.  Stop it.” Her voice was steely.  “Yes, I kept it from you. Yes, you might think I lied.  Yes, I am a glorified whore."


 "No, don't ever say that." Rae’s voice came in a thick confident tone.


"Why not? I am possibly the weakest person on this tiresome world."  Thea leaned back into the couch feeling small and defeated.


"Because it's not true." Rae shook her head.


"It's how I feel, why shouldn't I say it." Thea's voice was angry. 


"Did you say no Thea?" Rae asked calmly.


"Of course I said no. I always say no. I fight. I kick. I scream but what difference does that make?" She asked in a clipped tone. Talking about none of this made any difference.


"You saying no made all the difference.  You are not a glorified whore." Rae moved away and sat on the far couch.


"Do you know the difference it makes?" The actress’ anger reached a raw state and she glared at the technician with hard eyes.


"What? I'm sure our differences are not the same. I am convinced that the definition is clear. In my world no makes you a rape victim and not a whore." Rae turned back into the glare.


"Shall I tell you the difference no makes to me? To Edward?" Thea growled leaning forward on the couch.


"What Thea? Enlighten me to the British high society definition." She barked back, not angry but meeting the harsh words cast at her.


"This has nothing to do with Britain. It has nothing to do with social class.  This had nothing to do with any of that. This has to do with me." The actress got up from the couch and walked closer to Rae.  "From the time I married him onwards." She began as she walked. "Edward had a clear idea of what rights being my husband gave him and I started by fighting, arguing and defying.  That got me carted off to clinic after clinic being patched up here and there."  She stopped in front of the technician.  "And so I stopped saying no. I stopped fighting and defying and arguing.  You want to know what difference saying no makes?" She pulled her shirt loose and lifted it slightly, revealing her bruised torso and wrists.  “This is the difference." She snarled, her voice not sad just bitter and angry.


"And that's why I'm going to fucking kill him!"  Rae barked back the nasty truthful response.  "Cause you said no and he should have stopped, cause he thought he had rights no man has. I'm going to kill him for the first time and every time since!"


"Oh yeah that makes such sense. For fucksake Rae! Wake up!" Thea shouted at her.


"In my mind it does. He started this Thea he started the violence.  I'm just going to end it cause that's what we do where I come from."


"For fucksake Rae, wake up!” She repeated the angry words again as she tucked in her shirt and turned away. “Yeah go on, go and kill him.  Slit his throat. Pay him back. Get yourself locked up for the rest of your life. Let him have the greatest victory he could ever have."


"He'll be dead Thea how has he won?" Rae asked in a harsh tone.


"Because he gets you.” The actress’ voice came softer.  “He takes you away from me just like I feared he would, just like I tried to stop him doing."


"Thea, look at the marks yourself." Rae stood up to follow her.


"Why?" She turned back.


"All of that.” The technician pointed with an unsteady hand.  “All that's he's done that only you really know about and you’re worried about me?"


"I LOVE YOU!" Thea shouted suddenly.  "If I had to let him do this to me every day for the rest of my life, but I had you, I would agree and I wouldn't even think about it."


"No! No Thea."  Rae backed up toward the fireplace, the small shreds of stability she had left tore apart.  "I'm not worth that. I'm not worth that night."


"You are to me. I said no that night because I love you.” Thea didn’t follow the technician’s retreat. 


"Oh Christ Thea, not for me, say no for you not me." Rae shook her head against the terror in her body.  "I've done horrible things."


"Rae, I know all about what you have done what you were." The actress brushed off all of the dark haired woman’s past away in an instant. 


"No Thea, I have done things since then.  That night when I left the party…" Her voice came in a panic.


"The past doesn't matter…" Thea stopped as she heard the present tense being used in the Raven’s words.


"I was so fucking angry." Rae punched her hand into the fireplace and Thea’s knees weakened a little. "All I knew was that he was your husband." The actress put her hand back and eased herself back into the couch. "Which meant jokes on you Rae."


Thea wanted to set the record straight on this point again but decided Rae need to talk now.


"I got in the jeep and I drove and when I couldn't see the road I started to walk and do you know where I ended up? Do you have any idea?"  Her voice was low and pained..


"Where?" Thea whispered the question knowing all the anger now was directed at the technician and not her.


"Fucking Shorbourne park with some two bit dealer offering me the cure to all my blues." Rae laughed at herself. "But I didn't do it, I got the hell out of there..." Her voice tapered off.  "But I did something worse."   Thea let the breath she had held go as Rae moved down to sit on the large lower ledge of the fireplace resting her head in her hands.  "I came here."


"Here?" She asked coming to stand a little way away from Rae.


"I ran to Cleo." Rae was barely able to say the words.


"To get drugs?" Thea asked her mind filled with worry and horror.


"No."  Rae shook her head and looked down. "Worse."


 "What then?" Thea asked her mind reeling.


"Her and I…" She couldn't say it.  Thea's cartwheeling mind stopped resting on the one thought.  "I wanted to prove it wasn't me... I could love without it being made up, without it being torn apart. But it wasn't the same, it wasn't even close, it was just..." She struggled with the word. "Sex."


"Oh baby!" Thea sunk to her knees and grabbed Rae into a tight embrace. "Thank God." She felt hot tears sting her swollen eyes but didn’t care as she cried.  These were happy tears and she’d endure any pain to be crying them now.


"Huh?" The hug surprised the technician.  Thea was supposed to be screaming again.  "Thea, did you hear me?"  She questioned with more strength.  "I ran into bed with Cleo."


"If you had injected yourself or anything like that I couldn't have ever forgiven myself."  Thea wept softly and held her even tighter.


"No, I did worse."  Rae tried to make her see.


"Sex isn't worse love." Thea shook her head, pulling back to look the Raven in the eye.


"But?"  Rae tried to get her head around this, her heart distracted by the woman's tears that apparently were out of relief for the first time but still bothered her.


Thea suddenly realised Rae might be feeling overwhelmed and uncomfortable with the hug and she forced herself to let go though she didn't want to. She rocked back on the balls of her feet to put some distance between them.


"But look what I did do?" Rae missed the feel of the arms around her but was unable to ask them to remain cause too much was too raw.


"What do you think you did?" Thea asked brushing tears off her cheeks.


"I betrayed you." Rae spoke quietly as she looked down at the ground again unable to keep the actress’ eyes. 


"No, you didn't." Thea reached out a slightly trembling hand to raise Rae's chin. Rae let the small hand lead her gaze up easily. The actress studied Rae for a long moment in the silence. "I love you." She whispered, moving a little closer.


"I love you too angel." Rae whispered back almost silently.


"Hold me?" Thea asked her voice tiny.


"Oh God angel, that's what I've wanted to do from the first second." Rae softly wrapped her arms around the small woman. They clung to each other, and the hot tears soaking through Rae’s top made her hold on even tighter.


"I am so sorry I hurt you." Thea sobbed.


"I'm the one who’s sorry angel." Rae tried to talk through her tears.  "I though I’d lost you forever." She whispered fearfully, holding as tightly as she thought the battered woman’s body could bear.


"Rae, even if you had walked away from me and never spoken or seen me again, you still wouldn't have lost me." She whispered back.


"I could never do that Thea. I love you too much."


"I love you and not one word about forever, and my dream of us was a lie." She stated the words confidently needing them to be believed.


"I hoped it wasn't.  I just lost focus for awhile" Rae placed kisses into strawberry blonde locks. "Not for me either." Thea pulled back a little to see the blue that she loved.  “You make me feel complete." 


"You make me feel…" Thea tried to explain as they held each other’s stare.  "Seventeen again." She hoped Rae would understand.


"You are angel."  Rae smiled softly at her.


"Why is ‘I love you’ never enough at moments like this?" She smiled back.


"Cause so many people throw it around like it's nothing."  Rae moved her hand long enough to brush a stray hair off the bruise on the actress’ cheek. "And then at these moments you know just what it really is and it's not to be thrown around."


Thea smiled despite the stitches and bruising that marked her beautiful face.  Suddenly she was very aware that they didn't hurt quite as much.


"Oh be careful angel."  Rae held her hand in Thea's hair.  "Our first priority is getting you all better again. Though I have to admit."  She smiled. "I'm so desperate to kiss you right now."


"Kiss me then." Thea encouraged her brightly.


"But angel your lip?"  Rae asked hesitantly, the last thing she wanted to do was hurt her. "I might hurt you."  She spoke softly to clarify that was her reason.


"All things get better quicker when they are kissed ask any mother." Thea replied smiling as she moved a bit closer.


"That is true isn't it?" She grinned, moving slowly and with great care closer.


Thea nodded as she felt Rae press their lips gently together.  For the first time in what seemed like an eternity, Thea's nightmare subsided as she felt the touch of her lover’s lips and she was able to kiss her back.


Rae gently pulled her a bit closer revelling in the touch that she'd feared she'd never have again. Thea moved her body closer drawn into the feel of the warmth and softness of the embrace she loved.


"I missed you."  Rae moved back just slightly and whispered the words out onto the actress’ lips.


"Now this is so much better!" Cleo stood in the door.  Still in her sunglasses, holding Mac's leash in one hand and a single bag in the other.  "I thought you two were going to ruin the best thing ever."  She smiled brightly, pushing the shades back up onto her head.


Thea blinked and pulled away from Rae ever so slightly, startled by the sudden interruption.


“Rae watch your hands, our little star needs to heal!" The blonde called playfully as she moved further into the room.


"My hands are fine."  Rae laughed and looked back to see Thea nod her confirmation.


"I figured one of us had to remember poor Marc Anthony." Cleo chuckled and moved over to drop on the couch.  It was at that moment that Tori bounded in, an entourage of staff carrying enough bags to fill a shop followed behind her.


"Look, look!" Tori stopped as she saw Thea and Rae. She glanced at Cleo and then back to the couple by the fireplace. "Did we come in at a bad moment?"


"Oh no darling." Cleo motioned her over. "Come sit, we came at a perfect time."  The young brown haired woman followed her instruction and came to promptly to sit on the couch next to Cleo.  “You’re sister and my Blackbird finally got their heads together." She smiled happily when the young woman moved quickly to fill her call.


"And that’s good?" Tori looked to the tall woman next to her for confirmation.


"Cleo, she knows already." Rae bluntly filled them in on the total score.


"Good, good." Cleo nodded. "I've felt horrible with it hanging over my head."


"She does?" Thea looked at Rae with a gentle frown.


"Oh Tori." Rae realised that the actress had taken the comment differently but that her interpretation wasn’t entirely wrong. "Eh yeah, she sorta figured it out that night in the condo."


"Oh." Thea managed to mumble though she was still somewhat lost.


"You'll never guess what we bought." Tori gushed, not at all bothered by the oddity of the comments that whirled around her.


"All's open and clear." Cleo affirmed from her spot. "I'm sorry little star, it was a bad judgement call for both of us." She spoke under Tori's understanding.


"Not now Cleo, this does not need to be discussed." Thea glanced at Tori to show she didn't want her younger sister involved.  “Rae and I have cleared it all up.”


"Oh course Thea." The blonde nodded. "Your discretion." She turned back to Tori. "Come on then darling, give us a show now." She patted the young girl’s leg. "After all I didn't lose five pounds running the town to not get a show."


"Shall I try it all on?" Tori asked, only now slightly curious as to what all the double talk about but ignoring it just the same.


"Everyone got a few hours?" Cleo laughed happily as she polled the room.  "Yes love, show them the formal first.  I had a bit of a bet with your sister." The tall blonde tapped the younger woman’s leg again.


"A bet? " Tori rested her hand on Cleo's thigh. "You never told me."


"Ah now telling is no fun." Cleo grinned at her. "Go on now!"  Tori grinned back and jumped to her feet.  "I'll have one of those drinks you like made up for you while your showing off." She added happily. 


"Rae, love?" Thea asked gently as her sister left.


"Yes?" Rae looked at her.


"Do you think you could help Tori take all the stuff up to her room." The actress’ words were soft.


"Of course angel." She kissed Thea on the nose. "If you’re sure?" She added in a whisper hugging the actress again.


"Very sure." The actress breathed back.


"Okay." Rae reluctantly let her go and moved to pick up some of the stuff.


"It looks like my little sister will disappear under a mountain of bags." Thea watched the two of them leave, turning to Cleo as they disappeared.


"I'm sorry little star." Cleo began the moment they were alone. "I didn't mean to let her in on anything she doesn't need to know."


“It’s all right." Thea shook her head.


"So talking worked?" Cleo prodded and the actress nodded again. To Cleo's dislike Mac bounded up next to Thea and she hugged the husky gently.  "I have a peace offering for my horrible role in this." She handed Thea the one bag she’d carried in at her arrival.


"What is it?" Thea asked motioning that Cleo should show her.


"Well it took me ages." The blonde smiled as she opened the bag. "But he was the most special one and he just begged for me to bring him home." She pulled the fluffy brown bear out of the bag a thick velvet ribbon around its neck.


Thea smiled at the brown bear, carefully moving over to where Cleo sat with the bear held out in her hands.


"Is he okay?" She asked softly as she handed him over.


"He's beautiful." Thea replied her fingers closing over the soft fur.


"Well he had to be for my little star." Cleo purred.


"Have you named him for me?" She asked in a soft tone.


"Humm." Cleo looked at the bear. "How about..." She thought deeply. "Brutus, a right and noble bear!"


"I love it." Thea held the bear tight in her hand closing it over the one Cleo still had on the bear "Thank you." She caught the blonde’s eye.


"You are welcome." Cleo looked back at her.  Unable to believe that at this moment she really meant what she was saying.


"I mean for everything. For what you have done for me, Tori and Rae." The actress tried to explain.


"I didn't do a thing." She waved it off and gently pulled her hand away.  "It's nothing little star.  I would do anything to make you three happy. I just adore your sister, such spirit."


"Yes, she has that.” Thea laughed lightly.


"Wait till you see what we got." Cleo laughed happily. "I've signed my name so many times I almost forgot how to spell it." Her seething mind stopped for a minute as she realised she really had enjoyed the day.  ‘How odd?’ She thought then laughed it off.


Thea got up and carried the bear over to another couch she sat down with Brutus on her lap. Marc Anthony came and curled up by her feet immediately.


"Everyone ready?" Rae walked back in smiling. "She's on her way in outfit number one."


"I don't know, are we?" Thea looked up half smiling.


"I ordered drinks for us." She moved over to sit beside the actress giving her dog a pat. "That should help. Whose this?" She looked at the bear.


"Brutus." Thea whispered staring at the door in anticipation of her sister’s entrance.


"Cleo?" Rae asked to clarify surprised that the blonde would think to buy a bear. Thea nodded patting the technician’s knee gently.


"Can I come in?" A shy call came from the doorway.


"Of course darling." Cleo called back to her. "Gorgeous women never ask darling.  They stride in confidently. Come in as the gorgeous confident woman that you are!"


There came a light chuckle from behind the door before Victoria stepped in.


Rae didn't know why her eyes stuck first on the dark black suede shoes.  The string ties coming up over Tori's ankle and to her mid calf were easily seen through the long slit.  The slit ran up the left side of the dress and her eyes followed it up to see it finally end mid-thigh. It was only then the sheer shimmering cling texture of the dress struck the technician. She followed it up to the deep scooping neckline that gathered at the young woman’s chest and moved into slight spaghetti straps that moulded into her shoulders.


"Gorgeous, simply gorgeous!" Cleo growled and began to clap. "Give us a turn now!"


Thea stared at her sister totally stunned.


"Okay, I left Tori upstairs." Rae choked as she stared.  "I have no idea who this is."


Tori giggled happily as she twirled a couple of times.  Showing off the low scooping back just to the top of her hip.


"Do you like it sis?" Tori asked as she turned to face them again.


"Stunning!" Thea breathed honestly shocked.  She’d had no idea her sister could look so, so… ‘Sexy!’ The word broke into her head.


"We tried it on as a lark." Cleo admitted smiling at Tori.  “But it looked so good on her, I couldn't dare let it be put back."


"You look great." Thea assured regaining herself.


"Show them the gold one next." Cleo prompted blowing Victoria a kiss.  "You'll love the gold." She purred at the other two women.


"Gold?" Thea breathed. "You got more than one."


"Had to!" Cleo looked over at Tori and beamed.  Victoria nodded and giggled again. "With those legs, they just beg for evening wear." She winked at the young woman and Tori squeaked as she moved closer to the door.


"I won't be more than a minute.” The young girl looked to Cleo for a second.  


"Hurry back darling, the room dims when you’re gone." Cleo winked at Tori again as she left and the butler came in with their drinks "And we can't wait to be stunned again!"


Thea leaned heavily against Rae's leg. She breathed in as deeply as her injuries would allow. With a smile she remembered the look of sheer joy on her sister's face as she had turned and dashed out. She wasn't sure she could ever remember Tori so happy. The young actress shifted her gaze to Cleo.


'Well Miss. Angelina Eaton, it seems I owe you the world.' She thought as she studied the business woman closely. 'And though a huge part of me wants to know why you did it, the rest is just filled with admiration and gratitude. One day Cleo I will tell you how I feel.' She pledged silently to herself.


A strong hand gently massaging her shoulder drew Thea's attention back to the Tall, strong and beautiful woman she leant against.


'And you my darling,' Thea thought as she closed her eyes to embrace the sensations Rae's hands were causing.  'What can I ever say to you that would come even close to telling you how much you mean to me? Unlike Cleo I don't owe you the world Rae, you are my world. And I intend to spend every day of the rest of my life showing you that fact.'


Thea opened her eyes again as she heard the sound of footsteps on the stairs. With eager anticipation she turned her attention to the door waiting for her little sister's appearance. When Tori entered she did not disappoint. She turned and swirled in her gold chiffon and looked a million dollars.


'Just like a movie star.' Thea thought ironically. 'Or a great stage actress.' She added whilst smiling and nodding her approval. She found herself joining Cleo and Rae in applauding Victoria as she twirled some more.


'How perfect.' Thea thought somewhere in the recesses of her mind.  'I have spent all my life acting, with everything being just another act, and now at last I am about to experience the real world. A world not of pretence and imagined happiness, but of truth and reality.' She squeezed Rae's leg impulsively.


'I am about to take to the stage of life anew, I have no lines to learn and no character to play, for this time the theatre lies empty, there is no one to watch my performance, only those who play along side me. For I begin not a play for the masses, but I begin a life, my life, a life that can only exist, after the curtain falls.'




The End.

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