After the Curtain Falls

Act Nine

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.

"This way Miss. Winters."

Thea looked up and took in her surroundings. It took her some moments to find her lover, and when she did she was not exactly happy with what she saw. Rae was sat back in her chair, holding a glass of water just a little too tightly. On the other side of the large glass table sat Cleo. The long legged blonde was dressed in blue jeans, with a white open necked shirt. She had her hand on the thigh of a young woman who Thea thought looked at least ten years younger than the business woman.

"Here we are Miss. Winters." The Matre-de moved gracefully away.

Thea nodded softly and looked at the three women.

"Good afternoon." She said softly reaching out a hand to Rae. "Hi love." Her voice was gentle.

"Hi." Rae tried to keep the tightness out of her voice. Her mind was a million miles away, still thinking about all of the past that she and Cleo had dug up again but also concerned with why the young actress hadn't told her about this meeting. Realising that Thea's hand hung empty she moved to take it. "How was the afternoon show?" She asked trying to find a smile. It was with relief that Thea squeezed the hand in her own.

"It was good." Thea sat down in the empty chair beside Rae. She looked up at Cleo and at her guest, then back at Rae. The atmosphere between them was almost palpable.

"That's good. Thea..." Rae looked to the others at the table. "You remember Cleo and this is her friend Brittany."

"Yes." Thea smiled. "Hello Cleo, Brittany." She nodded at the two of them.

"Thea, so glad you could make it." Cleo beamed as took a sip of her wine. She purposely avoided looking at Rae. "And so glad to hear the matinee went well. Hopefully the day will continue without any unforeseen problems."

"I am sure it will." Thea watched Cleo lean back to put a possessive arm around the Brittany. Strangely she found the tall blonde more approachable than her lover at this very moment as

Cleo smiled back at her.

"So little star." She raised a hand to wave over the waiter. "What would you like to drink?"

"I'll have a water." Thea replied a little stunned at how Cleo had addressed her. She glanced to see if Rae was reacting in anyway. The technician didn't even flinch. "How was your meeting?"

"It was fine." Rae responded blankly.

"Fine." Cleo snapped in. "Thea should know that today your net worth just doubled!" She laughed and twirled her hand in Brittany's hair.

"Really?" Thea looked at Rae waiting for her lover to comment.

"Something like that." The brooding technician looked at her and smiled slightly.

"Would you like menu's now Miss. Eaton?" A young man in a tuxedo asked the question in a soft voice.

"Most definitely Henry." She waved her hand at him. "Can't have this hard working actress starving."

Thea moved a little closer to Rae and tried to get her attention as the interaction went on. Though she had to admit to being distracted by Cleo's frequent references to her. Rae moved to place the water on the table and turned to look at Thea. She noticed for the first time the tension and tiredness in the actress' shoulders.

"Are you hungry angel?" She asked softly concerned.

“A little." Thea was pleased to finally have Rae's attention. “Hug?" She added in a soft whisper, suddenly realising why she felt so cut off from Rae. Even though she knew that with Cleo there she was risking a bad reaction, she had to ask needing at least the briefest touch.

"Of course." Rae moved to turn in her chair and hugged her softly.

"Missed you." Thea whispered foolishly feeling a tear sting her eye. She controlled it and concentrated on the feel of her lover's arms.

"Missed you too." Rae whispered back, relaxing into the hug slightly.

"Are you okay?" She added in a hushed tone, holding on possibly longer than Rae might have wanted her to.

"Oh yeah I'm fine." Rae stiffened a bit.

Cleo watched the pair for a moment before turning to Brittany. She caught the woman's cheek in her hand kissed her deeply. Brittany though slightly surprised, kissed her back eagerly. Rae pulled back from her embrace to glance at the display and moved to take Thea's hand again. She had no intention of playing this little who can top game with Cleo. After a few moments Cleo broke the kiss and turned back in her seat.

"Menu?" She held one out to Rae, her face a beaming smile.

"Thank you." Rae took it and passed it to Thea. The actress watched the interaction silently and then looked at the menu somewhat absently.

"They have very good calamari." Rae pointed out the dish in question to her.

"You'll think that's all I eat." Thea laughed lightly.

"Order anything you want my little star." Cleo purred with a smile. "Lunch is on me. You too Raven." The taller woman turned to her partner. "Brit love, shall I order for you?" The question was accompanied by her hand slipping back onto Brittany's thigh

"Anything they serve is very good." Rae turned her attention back to Thea. "What do you think I should have?" She added purposely offering Thea the chance to make the choice. A move that tried to both break the wall she knew she'd put between them and to show Cleo that love wasn't about ordering for someone but was more about asking for suggestions.

"The lobster? Then I can steal some." Thea breathed easier, thrilled that Rae was being attentive to her.

"The lobster it is angel." The technician squeezed the hand still within her own. Cleo listened carefully to the pair's interaction and then motioned to the young man.

"And what are you having?" Rae asked ignoring Cleo's call for the young man.

"Not sure, I'm not that hungry." Thea replied honestly, glancing over the menu nothing caught her eye.

"You have a long night ahead of you angel." Rae lowered her voice concerned. "You should have something to eat."

"What do you think I should have love? We haven't got Toni to clear up after us here." Thea laughed lightly.

"Nope, no Toni this time." Rae laughed back before adding gently. "I think you might enjoy the stir fry, the chef makes a great sauce."

"Then I'll have that." Thea smiled at the thoughtful suggestion.

"Great, I can steal some then." Rae smiled back and squeezed her hand again. The motion of looking happy was becoming more and more easy as she actually began to feel that way.

"Everyone sorted?" Cleo questioned with a slight sigh. She found the display almost too much to bear.

"Yes, we've decided." Rae turned to smile at her, so surprised that Cleo hadn't asked who Toni was.

Henry appeared by the table and Cleo gave her the orders for her and Brittany.

"Raven?" She turned to the technician to let her order.

"The lobster and the stir fry." Rae spoke to him politely as she handed over the menu. "And two double baileys on the rocks." Henry nodded and moved away.

"So?" Cleo forced her voice to be bright as she demanded everyone's attention as they waited for her to continue. "Do I take it you have a new maid?" Her eyes fixed on Rae hardening slightly.

"No, Margaretta is still looking after the house." Rae looked at her confidently and then she turned to smile at Thea.

"And so Toni is?" Cleo picked up her glass and took a sip not breaking her stare.

"Oh you know Toni." Rae laughed at Cleo's question. "Or you know her as Marc Anthony. Thea calls her Toni and she loves it."

"Oh sorry, have I caused confusion?" Thea apologised looking at Cleo. Cleo's frown dissipated and she beamed at Thea.

"Oh no love." Rae squeezed her hand. "Just Cleo always calls her Marc Anthony."

"As Raven said, no problem." Cleo's response was soft as she tried to hold the edge out of her voice.

"You should see Mac." Rae switched to the name she called the dog out of habit. "She took to Thea like she's known her since puppy-hood."

"Well I bought her, she must have my impeccable taste." Cleo retorted.

"Could be." Rae's voice didn't match the smile on her face. Thea watched the interaction aware that though the words sounded light enough but there was friction behind them. Mostly from her lover it seemed.

"Just going to the bathroom." Brittany spoke for the first time. "All right?"

"Of course Brit." Cleo took Brittany's hand as she moved passed. "Hurry back." She added as the smaller woman moved away. Henry arrived back with the drinks and placed them before Rae and Thea. Rae immediately picked hers up and took a long swallow.

"Steady Raven, you are in charge of lighting this little star this evening!" Cleo admonished Rae with a light laugh.

"I think you, of all people, know I can handle a drink Cleo." Rae answered with an icy glare, annoyed by even the offhanded comment.

"Rae!" Thea felt herself jump into the situation still not understanding what was going on. "Cleo wasn't being serious."

"Yes, well." Rae mumbled trying to smile. "Sorry.” She nodded softly at Cleo.

"Apology accepted Blackbird." The blonde smirked. "So now that we have the ice broken." She continued. "Do I get to know how the two of you got together?" She looked between Thea and Rae.

Rae looked to Thea hoping she'd field the question. She knew that if she recounted the story Cleo and her would be brawling by the end.

"Come on. How does a lighting technician date the star of the show?" Cleo pushed for an answer.

"Do you believe in fate Cleo?" Thea interjected, feeling Rae begin to bristle beside her.

"Fate?" The tall blonde looked at her sideways, an amused look on her face. "There is no fate other than that which we make." She recited an old adage.

"Oh no." Rae took another sip of her drink. "Sometimes it comes to help you along a bit." She turned to smile at Thea and couldn't resist kissing her hand. Thea let her forced smile turn into a genuine grin as she felt Rae's lips on her hand.

"Go on angel, you'll tell the story much better than I can." Rae encouraged her.

"I'll only tell if I can ask any question after I tell." Thea put the proposition forward.

"What do you say Raven?" Cleo asked her voice a deep, thick purr as she looked at Rae. It was the sort of deal she appreciated because she knew you never get anything good for nothing.

"I'm game." Rae smiled back, her voice low and serious.

"Looks like you have a deal Star." Cleo laughed and Thea nodded to them both.

Rae watched the actress, wondering just what Thea would ask at the end.

"So tell." Cleo moved her hand back to its given place when Brittany returned to the table.

"Well there are two versions." Thea took her glass and sipped the thick creamy liquid. "Version A and version B. One leans heavily on fate, the other is for the more sceptical. Which would you like?"

Rae looked at Thea curious. It had never dawned on her that the story of their meeting could have two versions.

"I've always been a sceptic, haven't I blackbird?" Cleo was watching Rae closely as she listened to the actress.

"Always." Rae raised her glass to Cleo showing that for once she really meant no malice by the comment. Cleo raised her wineglass in return. "I think Cleo would enjoy B." Rae smiled at Thea. "Though you can give her a few hints on how fate intervened."

"The sceptic version it is. Though you have to remember that this version, as I am telling it, may be a little biased!"

"Love your bias." Rae kissed her hand again. She got comfortable in her chair and looked at Thea attentive to the story.

Cleo drank some wine as she listened to Thea's story. Her attention split between the actress and Rae. Rae's attention on the other hand was focused on Thea as she lost herself in the sound of Thea's voice and the loving recollection of their first meeting. Thea finished her story and kissed Rae impulsively. Rae kissed her back happily.

"Do you two want some time alone?" Cleo asked her tone a little sharp.

"Humm?" Rae turned to look at Cleo and then back at Thea. "What do you think angel?"

"I think that Cleo and Brittany have been patient enough." Her soft voice came though a bright smirk.

"Very true." Rae smirked back her.

"And I have my question to ask." Thea added as Henry approached accompanied by two waitresses.

"Yes, you do angel." Rae smiled and moved her glass for the waiter to place her meal. After a few minutes of arranging the table and settling down the plates, the waitresses and Henry moved away.

"So your question love?" Rae moved closer and dropped her napkin in her lap. Thea followed suit and looked at Cleo and Rae.

"You have known Rae forever haven't you Cleo?" Thea asked looking across the table.

"More or less." Cleo replied. "Surely that's not the question."

"Oh it's not." Thea laughed lightly. "And you have to answer it honestly."

"Of course." Rae took a mouthful of the steamed lobster, which was already de-shelled and placed over rice.

"What is the craziest thing either of you have done? Rae you have to answer for Cleo, Cleo you have to answer for Rae."

Rae tried not to choke on the lobster. She'd been expecting any number of questions but nothing like this one. Cleo looked over her fork at the English actress.

"Who goes first Cleopatra?" Rae asked in a tone that she knew Cleo hadn't heard in ages. Cleo broke her stare and looked at Rae indeed surprised.

"Youngest first." Cleo paused from eating to drink some wine.

Thea rested back in her chair and began to pick at her food. She had deliberately avoiding anything too direct, wanting instead for the two old friends to think back fondly over their youthful frolics

"That would be me then." Rae smiled at her then looked thoughtfully off. "The craziest thing that Cleo has ever done..." She thought and raced through the memories.

For the first time Brittany seemed to take a visible amount of interest in the conversation.

"That's easy." She smiled to herself as she thought of something that wouldn't be too volatile. "She once took her father's sailboat out in a typhoon." Rae winked at Cleo to show that she wasn't playing hardball. The last thing Rae wanted was a repeat of the earlier animosity. Cleo watched the wink and drank slowly.

"What happened?" Thea asked looking at Rae for further details.

"Well the mast cracked off and it almost sank." Rae smiled. "But as always Cleo managed to get out of it without a scratch."

"Crazy." The actress whispered softly as she looked at Cleo.

"Cleo tamed the wind that night." Rae raised her glass to the tall blonde, Cleo nodded accepting the subtle compliment and raised her own glass.

"So Cleo, what about Rae? What's the craziest thing she's ever done." Thea pressed, so far happy that her question had cut some of the tension in the air.

Cleo smiled and took another sip of her drink. Rae just continued eating, wondering if Cleo would keep the barb out of her answer.

"The craziest thing Raven ever did..." Cleo replied without a moments hesitation. "Was follow me." The businesswoman locked eyes with Rae. The dark beauty gave a light laugh and held Cleo's eyes.

"Why?" Thea asked, noticing the new contact between the old friends. Cleo maintained the lock glare and Rae didn't waiver.

"Yes, why Cleopatra?" Rae repeated Thea's question curious as to what the tall blonde would say.

"Because I hurt you." Cleo's voice held a softness rarely seen in the blonde.

"Oh..." Rae's small word was inaudible as she was sent reeling again. This had been not an expected answer, not from Cleo and certainly not in mixed company. Thea sat silent for a moment, as did Cleo. All eyes were on Rae.

"I hurt myself Cleo." Rae tried to break everyone's trance as she continued to eat, only having been frozen for the briefest second.

"Of course." Cleo agreed taking a mouthful.

Thea watched the pair return to eating and took a little of her stir-fry on her fork.

"Maybe Brittany should get the chance to ask a question?" Rae turned the conversation from the silent road it threatened to go down.

"What a good idea!" Thea agreed.

"What do you think Brit?" Rae smiled across the table at the silent woman. "We've been monopolising the conversation on you."

"Could I?" Brittany asked looking at Cleo.

"Of course you can." Rae answered before Cleo could and the blonde nodded in agreement. Brittany looked at Rae with a smile. "The floor is yours Brittany."

The strawberry blonde thought for a moment or two.

"What is the biggest secret you have ever kept?" Brittany asked eventually.

"But if we tell..." Rae stepped in quickly to help everyone. "We aren't keeping it anymore are we?" She glanced at Thea noticing the actress had stopped eating suddenly.

"True, okay then what is the best thing you have ever found or been given?" The follow up question came much quicker.

"Who would you like to answer first?" Rae asked taking a sip of her drink. Thea took her glass of water and took a long sip before she put her fork down. Cleo watched the actress carefully. The subtle changes in the young woman were obvious and intrigued her.

"You." Brittany replied smiling at Rae.

"All right." Rae nodded. "That's easy. The best thing I've ever been given is unconditional love." She looked over at Thea smiling.

Thea wasn't even aware that Rae was looking at her, as she similarly hadn't actually heard her lover's reply. Rae noticed the distant look in Thea's eyes and the lack of any registered reaction to her comment

"Thea, are you all right?" She asked concerned. Again this query fell of deaf ears as Thea's mind turned in somersault after somersault. Rae instantly panicked thinking that it had been her own bold comment that had sent Thea into this state.

"I think I'll just nip to the bathroom." Thea stood up needing to move herself out of the suddenly crowded situation. "Excuse me won't you."

Rae watched her lover stunned, unsure if she should stay at the table or follow. Thea moved passed everyone and walked swiftly towards the restrooms.

"I'm just going to make sure she's okay." Rae made a sudden decision that she needed to make sure Thea was all right. She dropped her napkin on the table and hurried after the young actress.

"Raven!" Cleo called from the table only to be ignored. Rae was much more concerned with her lover and her reaction.


"Thea?" Rae called as she entered the large restroom. "Are you okay angel?"

Thea leaned her head forward on the toilet bowl and raised her hand blindly above her. Her finger tips found the handle and she pulled it weakly. The sound of the main bathroom door closing and then the sound of her name made her groan quietly.

"Thea?" Rae called out blindly trying to pinpoint where the small woman could have disappeared to in such a confined space. "Thea, is that you?" She pinpointed the groan and moved to the door of what she thought was the stall which her lover was in. "Are you all right angel?" She asked her voice heavy with concern.

"Rae." Thea answered weakly, she pushed herself up from her knees and turned to unlock the door. Her hand stopped before she did so. "I'm okay." She called trying to be convincing.

"You sure?" Rae asked softly listening hard at the door for any sign that she should just barge in.

"Yeah." Thea leaned forward on the door.

'Convince me!' Rae thought to herself angrily as she stared at the closed door.

"Angel, do you want to go home?" Rae tried to find something to give her a clue as to what was wrong. "I can get one of the waiters to give Cleo our apologies."

Thea tried to focus and get things into a better perspective, but the very presence of Rae behind the door forced the reality into her face.

"No, No." Thea replied instantly, her mind cursed her sharply.

'If you don't want her to question what the hell is going on you better wise up, smarten yourself up and get your ass back out there.'

“I'm just a bit icky. Probably nerves." She bluffed flushing the toilet a second time.

"Thea, please open the door." Rae asked one last time. Her patience and tact had been already stretched and shredded today. Between the conversation with Cleo and then what seemed like the fact that Thea was keeping things from her she had very little composure left to fall back on. Thea slid the bolt back from the door and pulled it ajar. "Nerves?" She questioned not buying the flimsy excuse.

"Possibly." The actress pulled the door a little more open.

"Thea?" Rae put her hand flat on the door and moved it open, using the length of her long arms to keep her a fair distance from the door itself. "What would make your nerves go haywire at this moment?"

"Possibly the combination of the matinee and then this dinner. Who knows." Thea said with a gentle shrug as she took a small step out of the cubicle.

"Yeah." The mention of the dinner made Rae's mind reel a bit. "Who knows." She added absently trying to control her own desire to grill the small sick woman over why she hadn't mentioned talking to Cleo or this dinner.

"We should get back I guess." Thea moved with purpose to the sink. She ran some water and wet her face.

"If you're not well love we should get you home to rest." Rae's natural instinct to protect the small woman outweighed her own doubt again.

"No, no! My crazy nerves are no reason to spoil dinner." Thea argued.

"Cleo will understand if you're sick." Rae hung back to lean against the framework of the stall. Thea lifted her dripping face and looked at herself in the mirror. Rae tried to keep her eyes from the mirror so that she wouldn't be accused of staring. Though her concern wanted to watch every one of Thea's movements and expressions in detail.

"I don't want to be the cause of spoiling the meal. After all I'm curious to find out more about Cleo and your past." Thea turned to Rae with a bright smile.

"If that's what you want." Rae nodded. Thea closed the distance between the two of them. She reached out her hand and rested it on Rae's arm.

"If you want to go though love, that's okay too." She offered softly, realising that Rae might be finding this situation very hard.

"Oh no, I'm fine." Rae smiled at her, ignoring her screaming mind which just wanted to run. If Thea wanted to stay and find out stuff than that was just what they'd do.

"Let's get back then, after all the way she and Brittany were interacting earlier we'll be lucky if they still have their clothes on right now." Thea reached for Rae's hand laughing lightly.

"Got to love Cleo's tart!" Rae replied with a laugh, hesitating before taking the small hand offered to her.

"Where do you think she got her?" Thea asked beginning the slow walk to the door.

"With Cleo." Rae grinned. "Who knows, but she seems well trained so she might be from around the club or her office."

"I'm going to have to watch you two though." Thea said brightly. "The girl is positively hanging on your every word."

"Who Cleo?" Rae looked at her shocked.

"NO!" Thea said surprised. "Brittany!" She tried to keep the banter light though a small part of the actress' mind wondered why Rae had thought she had meant Cleo.

"Oh the tart." Rae laughed again. "I think she's just too much in love with you to want to look obvious." She squeezed the hand in her own.

"Nice try Miss. O'Keefe, but don't think I haven't noticed that Brittany has green eyes like the eyes of someone else not to far away from you right now." Thea winked at her as they emerged from the bathroom.

Thea and Rae walked side by side back through the restaurant towards the table.

"Well then I think it's actually Cleo that has the thing for you then." Rae whispered slyly to her as they approached the table. "And if she makes one pass at you I'll crack her in half." She added in an even lower whisper.

"You're terrible." Thea hissed as she looked up and smiled brightly at Cleo and Brittany who were actually eating in silence

"Miss us?" Rae asked with a smile as she moved Thea's chair out for her to sit. Thea sat down and immediately took a sip of water. Rae sat down at her place and replaced the napkin in her lap.

"Of course!" Cleo answered with a smile. "Is every thing all right?"

"Do you want a tea or anything angel?" Rae asked still concerned about her lover's stomach. She ignored Cleo's question until she had asked hers.

"A lemon and ginger would be great." Thea replied softly.

"She's a trooper." Rae answered finally as she waved for the waiter. The young man promptly came over and ran off with the order. "But if she starts feeling any worse I'm afraid we'll have to cut dinner a bit short."

"I understand completely." Cleo looked at Thea. "It must be hard trying to keep all the pressure and things of being a star down."

Rae just stared at Cleo trying to decipher the barb in her comment as being blatant or by accident. Thea glanced up and looked at Cleo with a similar curiosity. Brittany looked between the two of them confused.

"Are you a star?" Brittany asked. "What are you in? Television? Films?"

Cleo looked at Rae and smiled slowly only to her, her eyes hard.

"Theatre." Thea drank more of her water.

"Oh you'll find out Brittany." Rae added holding Cleo's hard glare. "I'm sure Cleo is having you accompany her to the gala next Friday."

Cleo's eyes narrowed, before she turned to Brittany.

"Sorry, I hadn't got round to mentioning it Brit." The blonde patted the girl's thigh.

"It doesn't matter." Brittany replied.

"No, there is still tones of time for Brit to free up her calendar." Rae took a long sip of her drink. Laying the ice filled glass back on the table empty, she kept her eyes locked on Cleo. Thea watched the interaction for a while before deciding to intervene. Before she could speak it was Brittany that spoke to cut the tension.

"Won't you be going? Perhaps we could sit with you." Brittany asked Rae oblivious. Thea forced herself not to smile and took another sip of water.

"Oh I'll be there." Rae leaned back in her chair. "I'm the lighting director Brittany." She tried to keep from laughing at how little Cleo's tart knew. "The business with your darling Cleo is just on the side."

"Oh." Brittany looked away for a moment as the actress covered an escaped laugh with a cough.

"And I'm sure Miss. Eaton has arranged for much better seats then I have on the scaffold." Rae grinned at her taking a mouthful of dinner.

"So Cleo." Thea injected suddenly, and all eyes went to here to see what she was going to ask in order to change the conversation. "How did you and Rae meet?" She set down her water and took her cup of herbal tea from the waiter. The technician turned back to her dinner worried about the story itself but also about what slant Cleo was going to put on it. Cleo positively glowed when Thea asked her question.

"Go on Cleopatra." Rae encouraged trying to hide her concern. "We both know how you love to tell this story."

"Oh no, no, no, Blackbird. We should tell it together." Cleo said fixing her eyes on Rae.

"It's yours to start." Rae looked up to lock eyes with her.

"I suppose it is." Cleo replied. "I was at university here in the city." She shifted her focus to Thea.

"As was I." Rae added absently, trying to show she would go along with the together requirement.

"I was in my second year." Cleo pushed her plate forward a little and relaxed back into her chair.

"My first." Rae added again pushing the rice around her plate.

"When suddenly I became aware of this young, innocent stunning woman." Cleo's words were sweet and caused Thea to turn and look at Rae with a smile.

"Yes Samantha was stunning wasn't she?" Rae grinned at Cleo as she sat back. "Samantha was my room mate." She filled in the detail for Thea and Brittany.

"So I did a bit of research, finding out who she was, where she came from and what she was studying. That kind of thing." Cleo continued as Rae sipped at her water. "Well I quickly found out that she was the talk of the first year. She could drink with the boys and dance with the girls. And she did all this whilst still playing the university rules."

"What rules?" Rae questioned with a sly grin.

"When I found this out I knew she was out of my league." Cleo had heard Rae's question but chose to ignore it. "You see I was a shy leggy blonde, close to the end of her second year." Rae almost choked as Cleo said shy. "Hardly anyone knew who I was." She emphasised as sipped her wine.

"Shy!" Rae laughed hard. "Cleo was already the president of the student association and running half of the business school. On top of her very well known public event appearances."

"That was something I was almost forced into Thea darling." Cleo quickly brushed off her own importance. "Not my choice at all."

"No one, and I mean no one!" Rae added. "Was at U of T without knowing who Angelina Eaton was."

"Public event appearances?" Thea questioned Rae for clarification.

"If you had a party or a club event it was suicide not to at least invite Cleo." Rae answered with a laugh.

"This is all exaggeration Estell!" Cleo said suddenly using Thea's stage name.

"Thea is fine." She corrected taking a sip of her tea trying not to act too surprised at the sudden re-use of her stage name.

"Thea." Cleo gently raised her glass a little in the actress' direction. "It was at one of these tiresome parties, that I finally found the inner courage to talk to Raven here." She now spoke directly at Thea. "Or Cassie as she was known then, or Cass." She scrunched up her nose. "How I hated both terms!"

"That was her opening line by the way." Rae shook her head at the memory.

"Really." Thea asked breaking her concentration on Cleo for a moment. She looked at Rae for more details.

"Oh yes." Rae smiled at Cleo remembering the moment in the smoky badly decorated frat house basement. "I'd been standing by the fire door getting some air, when up stalks Angelina. As she was known then of course.” She smiled at Cleo. "She announces to me that Cassie and Cass are horrible names, and from now on no one shall refer to me as anything but Raven."

"Oh please do carry on tell her the rest. How you made me apologise and then turned

me down when I asked you out for coffee." Cleo laughed lightly, her eyes sparkled in Rae's direction.

"True and true." Rae nodded back at Cleo. "I told her that I didn't give a damn who she was in regards to the university hierarchy and that my name was Cassie." She laughed remembering how it seemed that the whole room had stopped in shock. "To which Cleo apologised and then asked me to coffee to make up for her 'mistake'." She said the word heavy to show it's obvious planning. "I turned her down as I was already seeing someone at the time." She brushed off the importance of the refusal.

"Someone!" Cleo blurted out the word with a laugh. Thea looked at her and then at Rae.

"Oh you love this part, go on Cleo!" Rae waved the story back to Cleo who sat laughing.

"It was hardly just someone." Cleo explained to Thea. "She was dating the Dean's Son, Colin Waverly. Oh my, they were the pair to beat all others! Colin and Cassie! Everyone had them married off."

"Everyone else did but not Colin or I." Rae commented to clarify.

"Did you ask Colin about that? I think he would have married my Raven in a shot." Cleo spoke at Thea.

"You should be thankful for Colin." Rae grinned at Cleo slyly. "If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have been at that faculty banquet and you'd never have gotten your second chance."

"I have always been thankful to him for more than that blackbird." The blonde raised an eyebrow as wicked thoughts ran through her mind.

"Like what?" Rae asked playing dumb.

"Well if he had been good in bed you would have never tried a girl!" Cleo laughed long and hard and the technician couldn't help but join in. Thea looked at Cleo and Rae a little shocked.

"Well that is one thing against him." Rae continued to laugh. "Though I think it was more his behaviour at the banquet that sealed his fate."

"Now that is your story to tell Raven." Cleo sat back. "Please share with us all." The smile on Cleo's lips was wide and honest.

"But you had such a better perspective." Rae laughed again remembering the evening.

"True, but you were the one experiencing it." Cleo laughed in response.

"True." Rae conceded. "Okay well..." She figured out where to start. "All Colin told me was his father was having some get together and that he wanted me to come. But I had to arrive late cause I had a class." Thea was listening but shifted her focus from listening to watching the way Rae and Cleo interacted. "So I pulled up to the dean's house on my very loud racing bike." She laughed. "And arrived to the door in leathers with a helmet slung in one hand, which Colin didn't appreciate."

"UNDERSTATEMENT!" Cleo exclaimed laughing loudly.

"Why don't you paint this part then, I'm told my entrance was classic." Rae laughed with her.

"Well there we were in our ball gowns and tuxedos." Cleo leaned forward. "And in walks the little hells angel!" Cleo patted the back of Rae's hand lovingly as the dark haired woman laughed at the memory. "Colin literally just staggered backwards, coughing. His father ushered everyone back into the hall, saying that she was the caterer's assistant. And then..." Cleo had to stop as she brought her laughter under control. "Raven here." Cleo wiped at her eye. "Says in the loudest voice I had ever heard...” Cleo looked at her old lover ready to recite the famous line in union.

"I thought the lace would crease, so I went with the leather!" Cleo and Rae spoke together laughing.

"I thought he was going to lose his mind." Rae choked out. "I guess he did really since he took a swipe at me."

"He did what!" Thea asked appalled.

"He was a bad shot so no worries love." Rae turned to Thea trying to head off any worry.

"Raven wasn't." Cleo interjected laughing even harder.

"He tried to backhand me." Rae explained, wishing this part of the story could have been downplayed. "So I blocked it and made sure he wasn't going to try again."

"Blocked? You spilt the guys lips open and broke his nose. He needed three stitches!"

Rae glared at Cleo knowing the details weren't necessary. Cleo fell back laughing. Thea looked at Rae aghast.

"I immobilised him." Rae repeated. "And that's when I looked at Angelina, who I noticed was watching it all with a grin, and said 'hey Cleopatra do you still want that coffee?'” She turned to address the line at Cleo again hoping to rush the story along and move them from the violence.

"I accepted as you would.” Cleo stated calmly. “After all I was afraid if I didn't she'd break my nose too!" Brittany laughed as Cleo returned to hysterics.

"You liar!" Rae turned on her playfully thinking that Cleo was making a joke. "You sauntered over, took my helmet and announced to the rest of the room that you and the raven had to fly." Cleo breathed through her nose slowly and looked at Rae for a moment in silence.

"Someone had to get you out of there before the police were called." She met Rae's eyes. "You could have been locked away for what you did." She added quietly as Thea watched Rae intently

"It wasn't that bad Cleo." Rae met her look. "He tried to hit me, no one does that. He was stupid to do it in the first place, he knew about my belts." She added trying to defend herself.

"So you left I take it?" Thea directed her question at Cleo, wanting to move on from the subject. It was obviously causing her lover discomfort.

"Indeed we did. Driving through the streets of Toronto on the back of a racing bike in a satin ball gown!” Cleo mused. “It was a great experience."

"Hey you had the helmet at least." Rae smiled again and laughed.

"So you became lovers?" Brittany asked suddenly out of the blue and the entire table swung instantly to look at her. Rae coughed as her throat constricted at the blunt question.

"We became everything." Cleo's answer came as her eyes switched focus back to Rae.

"We spent a lot of time together." Rae clarified absently almost wishing they'd go back to the part when she'd almost killed Colin now.

"We lived together, breathed together, slept together. We were each other." Cleo filled in the details slowly. Rae gave a tight short exhale. Brittany listened with a gentle frown, where as Thea became focused on the tall blonde.

"I don't get it." Brittany shook her head and gazed at Rae.

"Get what?" Rae asked finally figuring out the question was directed to her.

"Well here you both are, Cleo has the woman who she worshipped from afar and you have the person who was probably the best catch in the university and you split up? " Brittany explained her confusion. "What happened did you lose your mind or something?" She laughed at her own joke. No one noticed but the words made something inside the Raven snap.

"Yes, Brittany my brother was killed and I lost my fucking mind!" Rae drove the cold hard words across the table to cut her laughter. Thea flashed a shocked look at Brittany and then turned to her lover. Cleo sighed heavily and stood up, her hands flat on the table as she stared down at Rae.

"You admit it at last." Cleo's words were sharp and pointed as her eyes bored into the technician. Thea watched in alarm, but for some reason was unable to move.

"You had me committed Cleo..." Rae rose to meet her in height. "I think me admitting that I lost my mind is a moot point isn't it?"

"No, you finally admit that's why it went to hell." She snarled back. "All the time you spent afterwards saying it wasn't that. Saying that it was life and 'things' and 'situations'." The intensity of Cleo's attack made Rae forgot that the past they were discussing was not something Thea knew about as the actress stared on as the drama unfolded. "And now you finally admit, you gave up on the best thing that ever happened to you in your pathetic life!"

"Cleo, things were going bad between us long before Tommy died." Rae countered in a

strong harsh voice. "Maybe it's time to admit that you'd been sleeping with everything that walked behind my back?"

"I needed something Raven!" Cleo spat at her coldly.

"My pathetic life!" Rae spat back her mind catching up to all the hateful words. "And the party scene left you so fulfilled did it? A prissy little Daddy's girl by day and a whore by night!”

"It gave me more than your back street life ever gave you. At least I knew who to screw and how to do it!" Cleo hissed.

From her front row seat, Thea watched and listened in horror. Her mind screamed for her to say something to stop this display. But as Brittany, she was fixed mesmerised in her seat as the two women ripped each other apart.

"You knew how to take Cleo." Rae hissed back. "You never knew how to give."

"How can you say that? I gave you everything. EVERYTHING! " Her voice boomed loudly through the restaurant.

Yes, Angelina." Rae used the most condescending voice she could produce. "You gave me

everything, you were such the martyr."

"You wanted a better life, I gave you one. You wanted to know about the better things in life, I gave them to you. You wanted a home, I gave you one. You wanted someone to hold down and fuck whenever you wanted!” Cleo's eyes flashed in rage. “I even gave you that!”

"HOLD YOU DOWN!" Rae lost total control as the last insult registered in her head. "You always wished I would Cleo but that was the one thing I wouldn't give you.” Her voice went low and viscous. “I wouldn't treat you like the dirt you felt like inside, like the whore you thought yourself to be."

"You treated me worse than any whore." Cleo met Rae's eyes her voice suddenly calm and quiet though the fire in her eyes blazed on.

"I didn't and you know it." Rae hissed back still wrapped in rage.

"Oh yes you did." Cleo retorted. "You pretended to care. You pretended to give a damn. Pretended that I mattered and then after the most stupid, senseless mistake, you threw me away.” She sounded exhausted. “Just like the trash.”

"Threw you away?" Rae's voice rose again. "Only one of us was thrown away."

Thea looked at the thin blonde. She could see that while Rae's rage blazed on, Cleo's was dissipating more into profound hurt.

"And you think it was you?" Cleo raised her eyes to meet icy blue again.

"Only one of us was taken away in a straight jacket." Rae snapped back. "You took what you wanted from me, drained me of everything and then when Tommy died and you might have to face something, you tossed the only reminder of it in an asylum." She slammed her fist into the table.

"And I was supposed to watch you inject yourself every day with poison?” The tall blonde questioned in a small firm voice. “I was supposed to watch you kill yourself?" Seeing Thea's gaze shift back to Rae, the actress' eyes wide with horror, Cleo edged on. "I didn't create a monster Raven, you did!" Her voice was like steel.

"You were supposed to love me Cleo." Rae's voice lost a bit of its edge. "You were never supposed to buy me the shit in the first place and then get mad when I liked it too much."

"I wanted to keep you. I saw you slipping away, you were my life what was I supposed to do?" Cleo asked tired of this pain.

"I don't know." Rae admitted exasperated. "But not what you did, not if you really loved me so much." Her voice went bitter by the end.

"I loved you too much. Is that to be my only crime Blackbird?" Cleo shook her head sadly.

“No, the real truth Cleo..." She added for the first time removing her hands from the

table. "Is that you never loved me so much as you loved the idea of being in love with me."

"There are times when I think you lost more than your mind when I signed you away. I think you lost your memory too.” The blonde's arms hung limp and heavy at her sides. “Who was the one who held you when you were so sick you couldn't stand up? Who was the one, who washed you down, dressed your arms, and your legs when you were too weak to pull out the needle?" A lone tear slid down Cleo's cheek as silence overtook the table.

"Who was it Rae?" The voice who broke the silence was Thea's. It was the quietest voice, the most frightened voice she had ever heard herself use. It was this small voice that made Rae realise just who had been sitting there during all of the ranting. Realise just who had heard all of this. Just who now knew all the skeletons in her closet in one quick hard blow of truth.

"It doesn't matter Thea." Cleo shook her head. Thea looked up at the blonde and then at her lover, waiting for her to say something.

"I'm sorry I hurt you, it was never my intention." Rae spoke the words in a small voice. “I need some air.” She mumbled to Thea as she turned and left the table. She walked in quick long steps out of the restaurant. The room was getting very small suddenly and she needed desperately to be outside.

Cleo eyes watched Rae leave and she made a move to follow her.

"Cleo, no!" Thea said tenderly and was happy to see the blonde stop. "Sit down." She turned to Brittany. "Get her a drink and stay with her. Take her home when she is feeling better." She instructed. Brittany nodded dumbly as Cleo returned to her seat. Thea moved over and placed her hand on Cleo's arm.

"I am sorry Thea." Cleo looked at the hand and then up into sad green eyes. "It was my fault."

"Not from where I am standing it wasn't." Thea said honestly, as she shook her head. She took a step away her mind cart wheeling.

"She lost so much." Cleo commented absently.

"You both did." Thea broke away and moved from the table. "I'll ring you." She called as she hurried out.

"Yes." Cleo leaned forward keeping her head down until Thea disappeared. When the young actress had she sat up and took a sip of wine. "Ring me my little star."

Brittany returned to the table with another drink and some tissues. The strawberry blonde slipped her arm around Cleo and the blonde let herself be held smiling into Brittany's shoulder. More than happy with the way the day had panned out.


Rae held the wood of the railing firmly in her hand. The truth being that if it wasn't a 4x4 pine it would have likely snapped off under the pressure. The sharp white crests of the waves came in towards her from the lake and the stiff breeze blew her hair back off her face. None of this phased her, nor did she notice for that matter. All she could think of was the words that had been spoken at the table. Somehow the vision of Thea's reaction came from out of the corner of her eye, as every horrible shortcoming she'd ever had was paraded out for the young actress to see and be horrified by. Her mind just kept spinning and whirling, as the memories that Cleo had painted came back into her head with their usual fogginess.

Thea felt the stiff wind in her face as she looked for any sign as to where Rae had

gone. She looked out a little and saw the tall figure by the railings. With the wind blowing strongly against her, she set out down the path to meet her.

Rae closed her eyes against the wind, happy to be outside at least so that she no longer felt trapped and restrained. Inside her head Cleo had instantly put her back to that time.

Thea silently approached her and stopped a few feet short of the inky haired woman.

"Rae." She started softly trying to fight the clashing waves of anger, sorrow, horror, surprise and disgust.

"Thea, please don't say anything." Rae responded in a broken voice as she tried to keep a reign on her emotions. "I'll resign from the show and I won't bother you again"

"If that's what you want." Thea's answer was controlled. She wasn't sure what she had been expecting but she wasn't surprised by Rae's statement.

"This is not about what I want." Rae felt herself shake. "This is about what I have been, what I have done."

"No, it's not." She made sure her voice was flat and controlled. "It's not about that at all."

"Then what is it about?" Rae turned and backed herself up against the rail as she asked.

"It's about where you are now. Who you are now and what you want for the future." Thea replied feeling her anger and shock fighting inside her for a voice. She wanted to shout and scream at Rae but at the same time she wanted to hold her close and never let her go.

"I'm a recovered junkie who spent three months at a mental institution trying to pretend like she's not either." Rae said the words in a lost voice as she slid down the railing to sit on the cold concrete of the dock with her legs bent up close to her chest.

"Surely the important word there is recovered Rae." Thea crouched down still a few feet away, her anger fading as she watched her broken lover.

"Cleo's right on one thing." Rae talked without looking at her. "I shouldn't have let it happen. That was my fault."

"You were hurting Rae." Thea offered condolence. "We all react to pain in different ways."

"We were broken long before Tommy died or I lost my mind." Rae looked off and spoke in a soft voice trying to plead in her own defence. "There are a lot of things I won't face but there is a lot she won't face either."

"I can guess that my love." She inched forward slightly. "But does she really deserve all that?" She couldn't stop the question as it slipped out.

“No." Rae's voice was childlike. "It's not her fault, but she just makes me so...." Her voice trailed off.

"So?" Thea pushed gently.

"So angry." She pulled her legs in tighter with her arms. "I want to tell her I'm sorry that I don't blame her but she never believes me."

"Have you ever tried?" Thea asked gently. Seeing Rae like this disturbed her a little. It was difficult to watch her strong lover so small and dejected.

"Yes... sorta." Rae's voice got smaller with each amendment. "No, I guess not. What you saw in there..." She took a big breath. "It's always like that, whenever any of it's talked about."

"Okay love." She spoke softly. "What happened in there is okay too."

"Oh yeah, perfect." Rae let her head rest on her knees and her hair fell forward to billow around it in the wind.

"Should I go?" Thea said suddenly standing up. She watched as the wind caught and tossed Rae's hair, wanted to reach out and save it from the tangles of the torrent.

"I have no right to ask you to stay." Rae looked up to her. "Though I wish I did."

"This is about love Rae, not rights." Thea took a step away. Dropping her head, she turned looking back at the yacht club entrance.

"I love you Thea." Rae made sure her voice was loud enough to not be lost in the wind.

Thea froze as she heard the words. She turned and looked at her lover.

"But?" She offered the chance for the technician to rethink her statement, to take it back or to amend it in any way.

"I always have and I always will." Rae added the only thing her heart thought necessary.

"We have jobs to do angel." Thea reminded her as she felt her heart burst. If she didn't reign this in now she wouldn't for a long time. She wanted to hold Rae, love her and soothe her. But her rational mind knew that they simply didn't have the time. "I have to go, but I would like you come with me."

"Oh God the show!” Rae looked at her watch shook her head. She packed all of what had happened away again in her mind to fester and rot. "I would like that." She looked back at Thea and smiled softly.

Thea hated time for beating them. This needed to be dealt with but they had no choice.

"Did you bring the jeep?" She asked not moving. She wanted Rae to make all the moves.

"Yes." Rae pulled the keys out of her pocket. "I can drive us."

"Don't you think I should?" Thea offered gently, afraid that her lover was in not fit to operate the vehicle.

"Yeah, okay." She swallowed hard and moved to hand her the keys. Thea took them and turned. Her eyes instantly seeing the black jeep in the parking lot. "We should go." She said somewhat awkwardly, looking back at the tall woman.

"We could hire a driver if you're still feeling ill?" Rae offered worried about the previous episode

Even though Thea's stomach was tied in painful knots she did not want to get a driver. She wanted to do this to show she could take care of Rae in times of need.

"I'll be fine." She began walking to the jeep, not meeting Rae's eyes.

"Okay love, you're in charge." Rae spoke in a quiet voice, not entirely knowing what she meant by her choice of words. She moved to catch up to Thea but walked with a distinct space between them as not to invade the woman's space.

Thea unlocked the jeep climbed in and adjusted the seat accordingly. She waited until Rae was in too before fastening her seat belt.

"Do you want me to take you home?" Thea asked as she started the vehicle and shifted the mirror for herself. “I can get the crew to cover."

"No, it's okay." Rae looked over at her briefly. "It'll be good to get my mind focused on something."

"The theatre it is then." Thea nodded, flicking on the indicator and with a quick turn of

the wheel she pulled out of the parking spot and headed toward the freeway.


Thea picked up the blue cushion and dropped it gently on the couch. She moved away from the large soft chair to the writing desk, running her hand over the edge of it. She placed one hand in the pocket of her grey cardigan and pulled out an envelope. She walked slowly round to the front of the couch and sat down.

Resting her head forward into her hands briefly she held the envelope tightly. Then she lifted her head looking straight forward, off into the distance.

"I have lived my strange life." She began with a slight waiver in her voice. "In a quiet way." She reached out and took a photograph off the table beside the couch.

"Wiping knees and noses, holding hands and school bags. I am just an ordinary woman, in my ordinary world. Did I deserve this?"

She looked down at the letter and the photograph. She put the photograph back in its place before standing up and walking forward a little.

"I love them all, in my funny way and I am repaid with this." She held the letter a little higher. "By loving you did I accept this position? By lying with you did I sign my consent? I find myself caught up in Tragedy's dance without a sense of rhythm. Without a note in my head. Without a partner to hold me close as I twirl." She dropped the envelope on the couch and paced the floor. Her footfalls were light, almost silent.

"You never think it will happen to you, you think that for some reason you are different. You hear the stories on the news, you see the sad victims in hospital and the preachers tell you they are paying for their sins. You see the junkies in their cardboard cities adding poison to their already tainted veins and you think that you are better than them." Thea paused and picked up the letter.

"With your home, your husband, your two children and your dog, you think you are immune somehow. As if this charade could keep you safe, as if this structure will be a safeguard."

Thea glanced around her looking around at the photographs and furniture.

"I love them with all my heart but I love him too. I want to hold him close when he breaths his last. I want to be the one to say goodbye." She looked back to the letter in her hand. "Maybe the preacher tells us true. That we will stand and pay for all we do. He was young and foolish, wild and free. Sex was fun, just a game for him and he had no thought of the future, no sense of the horror to come."

Thea stopped pacing and looked straight ahead.

"If I had know, if he had known, would it have happened? If I could have seen inside his body as I kissed it, recognising the twisted tainted cells. If I had been able to trace the poison as it flowed from him into me, would we have shared the months of passion? Would I have run away, back to this, my sanctuary? Would I have left him alone? Would I not be here now, afraid, empty, infected?"

A tear sprang to Thea's eye and cascaded down her cheek. She looked up at the filled theatre, the faces blurred through her tears as her scripted words stuck in her throat. She looked down at the prop envelope in her hand and then she glanced at the sofa and the mantelpiece littered with props and ornaments from the set box. For the first time, the pain in her heart was real and a sick feeling crawled into her stomach.

She looked out to the audience and then up into the blue spotlight that lit her position on the stage. Her eyes imagining the woman behind the light as a dark sickly thought crept into her mind. If Rae had been an intravenous drug user, what eight years ago, that put her in the right category of people at the right time. Her stomach twisted sickeningly.

Tears spilled down her cheeks, as according to the script her trembling hands pulled open the envelope. Discarding it onto the stage floor, she just held up the letter tilted gently into the light. She spent a moment racing her eyes over the words before letting it slip to the floor. Wiping her eyes, she placed one hand on her hip and held the other aloft to hold the hand of an imaginary dance partner.

As the orchestra started up a slow waltz, Thea danced gracefully across the stage. Her body twisted and moved as if guided by a taller stronger partner. Real tears slipped from her eyes, as the blue light grew dim. Thea moved to the front of the stage in her dance as the back of the stage grew dark and the scenery was pulled off for the new set replacing it. The stage hands working silently and diligently.

Thea's spotlight faded completely as she slipped from the stage. The lighting was brought up to reveal the final scene of a graveside. An arrangement of red roses sat on one side of the brown-heaped earth, a brightly coloured bouquet the other and on top a yellow and white flowered creation spelling 'Mother'. The head stone in black marble read...

Dearest Tess

Each time the wind blows,

and the rain falls we shall remember.

As the lighting effect changed to simulate rain, with the odd flash and distant rumble of thunder, Thea stood in the wings her hands set on the small table that held the microphone that would project her voice over the scene. Tears still slipped from her eyes as she spoke in a trembling voice.

"Tragedy is always mocking me, and asking me if I want to dance. Allowing the trance of sadness and grief to ravage me, consuming me from the inside." She stopped, lowering her voice, and letting it take on a sad melancholic timbre as she spoke the final words to draw the play to a close. "Play the last chord, silence the drum, it is time to pay, for the things I have done."

The orchestra fell silent as a last rumble of thunder echoed across the stage. As the lights went back and the heavy curtain fell. For a moment there was stunned silence from the audience, before the loud harsh sound of applause filled Thea's ears.

"I swear that gets more powerful every time you say it."

Thea heard someone call into her ear as she felt someone take her hand. Thea was pulled back onto the stage as the curtain rose again to full bright lights. The audience was on their feet clapping and cheering. Thea graciously curtseyed a few times before the curtain fell again. She hurried off and then went through the individual curtain calls on automatic. Her stomach still tight and knotted as her mind raced and her heart ached. Her mind focused on the only thing it could.

'What if?'


"For Christ's sake Simmons, I said change the lead wire to the fourth line." Rae leaned herself over the cross bar and barked down when her voltage meter still read zero.

"I hate this theatre." She leaned back and waited for him to make the reconnection. To her dismay half of the lighting had gone out during the cool down and now she had to find some way to rewire it before the matinee the next day.

"Go get Dave from backstage." She leaned back again. "Tell him I need another hundred feet of lead." She wiped her hand across her brow. "This is going to be a long night." She rolled her eyes to the dark ceiling.

"Hot work?" Thea asked looking up at Rae, straining to see her at the top of the high scaffold.

"Huh?" Rae looked down startled by the voice and smiled when she saw the actress. "Just a little. Give me one second to come down." She added as she made the quick climb.

"Hi, angel." Her voice was a little tight when she reached the ground as the heaviness of the afternoon came back to her.

"Are you okay?" Thea asked kindly.

"Yeah, you?" Rae asked wiping her hand on her pants.

"Tired." Thea admitted with a gentle shrug. "Do you have a lot to do?"

"I hope not." Rae gave her a little smile. "If I can run this lead then it'll only be a hour or two."

"Rae." She began her voice quiet as she leaned her hands on her aching back and sighed gently. "I'm really sorry, but I've had enough of being here." She admitted with a gentle yawn.

"Of course, you've had a long day." The technician nodded.

"How about I go back to the hotel?" Thea said gently, but Rae's heart fell with the words regardless. "Then you can get work done here, while I can pack a bag and then go over to the condo. You can meet me there when you are done."

"Oh, yeah!" Rae's face brightened. "That sounds like a perfect idea." She rummaged in her pocket and pulled out her keys.

"You sure?" Thea searched Rae's face for doubt.

"You'll beat me there so let me give you the key." She moved it off her ring. "Yes angel, sounds perfect I promise." She added brightly.

"Okay then." Thea took the keys.

"I'll try to be as quick as I can." The technician smiled.

"Okay. I'll see you there." Thea stood for a moment looking at Rae, trying to find a way to break the space between them.

"Okay, love." Rae stood there looking back at her positive the first move toward anything physical was not hers to make, though she wished it was.

"Don't work too hard." Thea turned and walked to the back of the theatre, her shoes padding softly on the deep carpet.

"I love you." Rae whispered as she watched her walk away.

"I love you too." She turned at the door and breathed as she pulled it open and slipped out.

Those three words gave Rae the most amazing hope. No matter what had been said or had been revealed, things hadn't been ruined beyond repair just yet. She was going to do her best to fix them even further.

Continued in Act Ten...

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