Go to Part 1
Cassie first became aware of the birds outside her window as they sang to greet the dawn. She could not see them, but she could hear them. Her world was still dark and she had to reach up with her free hand to check if her eyes were opened or closed. She became aware of the pressure on her shoulder and brought her hand over to find out what the pressure was. She felt..."what exactly do I feel?" She asked her self. "Right" The word came easily. "This felt right and very comfortable." She smiled and turned her head. Despite the darkness she found Victoria's head and kissed her. With that small gesture, Cassie felt her heart do a double beat. The kiss awakened an emotion that she was unused to, as it made itself known. Love. Love and with it the desire to protect and defend this woman with ever fiber of her being. This woman who rested so trustingly on her shoulder.
"Why now?" She thought. "It is such a small gesture, why would that make me feel as if the world was suddenly a brighter place. It is not like this was the first time I have kissed her/ So why did that kiss make my heart go crazy?" She felt Victoria stir beside her.
"Good morning." Cassie said softly.
"Morning." Came the sleepy reply, followed by a louder more awake, "Oh", as she realized where her head was. "I am so sorry."
"Sorry for what?"
"I did not mean to use you as a pillow."
"Don't be sorry. Unless, you are uncomfortable, because I really like waking up with you."
"No, I am very comfortable, but your ribs?"
"Other side. This side is fine. How are you feeling this morning?" Cassie asked.
Victoria stretched. "Not too bad. I do not think I have ever slept that good before."
"Me either. That was some potion Granny gave us."
"Maybe it was not just the potion." Victoria countered. "Can I ask you something?"
"Of course." She felt Victoria's head leave her shoulder and sensed she was being watched.
"You face is really bruised and swollen. How does it feel?"
"It is a bit sore. Why?"
"I would really like to kiss you, but I do not want to hurt you any more than you are already hurting."
"You know when I was little, mama would always clean and bandage the many cuts I would get as a child. Before she finished she would always kiss the hurt to make it better. Worked wonders then. Maybe it was the magic of love that made the scrapes and hurts feel better. Might still work if we both believe in that magic. Might make us both feel better."
Cassie felt Victoria lean down and their lips touched. She let Victoria take things at her own pace. Cassie did not want to rush her, or bring up any bad memories. They were both breathless when the kiss ended.
"That was very nice." Cassie said.
"Very, very nice." Victoria agreed. "How do you feel?"
Cassie thought for moment. "You know I think I do feel better. I believe there really is magic in a kiss."
"You are not just pulling my leg are you?"
"No ma'am, not me. I do not have a sense of humor. Just ask anyone."
"Oh I think you have one in there somewhere. We just have to find a way to get it out in the open. Do you know what else I think?"
"What is that?" Cassie asked.
"I think I would really like to kiss you again."
"Honey if that is what you want to do, go right ahead. I am helpless and at your mercy."
Victoria smile. "I just can not picture you ever being helpless, but I will take my chances."
Their lips met again. A kiss that deepened with the contact. One that left them wanting more. Until Victoria abruptly pulled away.
"I am so sorry." She sniffed as her eyes filled with tears.
"Sweetheart, you have nothing to be sorry for." Cassie reassured her.
"I really wanted... but his face flashed in my mind and I felt his hands on me and," She could not finish.
"Shh." Cassie slowly reach out to hug her. She felt Victoria stiffen at first, then felt her relax as she allowed Cassie to hold her. "It will take time Tory. It has only been a day. The memories will fade."
"What if they don't fade. What if I can never get close to anyone, close to you because of him."
"If I remember correctly, I told you before that I am here for you. No matter what we are to each other. If it is friends or lovers, I will never pressure you into anything you are not comfortable with. When you decide you are ready to move to the next level, it will be you who makes that decision. You who will set the pace. Understand?"
"I understand. Thank you."
Victoria allowed Cassie to continue to hold her. They both relaxed and fell back to sleep.
Granny sat her post, drank her sweetened tea and chanted softly as the sun rose over the mountains. The third part of her vision had come true. They would now deal with the aftermath. They would have a lot to deal with until Cassie regained her eyesight and their hearts claimed the love that waited for them. She chanted her morning prayers and asked for guidance.
The cloudless sky lightened. She searched her memories for anything that would get them past the pain and horrors they both suffered so that they could move on.
Cassie would forget faster as she was unconscious when the violation happened. Victoria had not only the horror of her own rape to get past, Then she remembered. "There is such a plant. It had an hypnotic effect that would help the mind overcome fears and memories, that were too strong for it to handle on its own. It is a very powerful drug and one not to be taken lightly. It could cause permanent damage if not used correctly. OR, I could try, do I dare? Entering the dreams was one thing, to guide one heart to another was one thing and did not cause any damage. To enter another's mind to change or alter memories that were too difficult to deal with was very hard to do.
Would it be better to let the mind cope with the memories on its own? Some women can not handle those memories of attacks like rape and were forever haunted. Those were the only times outside forces should be used. Sometimes the mind blanked out the horrors for a time until the mind could cope. It would be better if it happened naturally. I will do what ever I can to help them, but only if they ask.
Maude watched the old woman for a long time. She did not want to interrupt her morning ritual, until Granny spoke to her.
"Good morning Miss Maude."
"Good morning Granny. I am sorry if I disturbed you. I did not mean to interrupt."
"You did not disturb or interrupt me." Granny assured her. "There is something you want to ask me?"
"Yes but I do not want to rush you." Maude fanned herself with her apron. "It is going to be another hot one."
"It is. There will be no rain today. It will be soon, but not today."
"They are growing closer."
"That they are. Miss Maude, you asked me last night if there was a plant that would help Victoria forget. There is such a plant."
"I sense there is a but in there."
"There is. It is very dangerous."
"Then we will not even consider it."
"There is another way. I have never tried it. It calls for one person to enter the mind of another."
"That sounds dangerous also." Maude said
"It can be for both persons."
"Then we will forget that also. I do not want to risk either of you."
"I have decided that I will help Victoria, but only if she asks me. It would be better if the memory faded on its own. The mind and memories are very powerful forces. The heart, however, the heart, their hearts are more powerful and will see them through. There is no memory that can beat the power of two hearts that are destined to be one." She took a sip of her tea. "Mr. John once thought he would never have a wife or children. The ranch kept him too busy for such things. Then he met you and never looked back."
"He told me that the night Cassie was born." Maude stated.
"That was quite a night." Granny stated.
It had been a bad Winter. The snow had come early. John barely had time to get all the hay into the barn. The silos were filled with corn to see them through the Winter. It had been a good growing season. The herd had been sent to market and they had a nice profit from the sale.
"I had not been feeling good for several days, but there was work that needed to be done. The baby was very active and I felt like I was bruised on the inside from all the kicking. Snow had started to fall right after breakfast. John had made sure all the horses and milking cows were in their barns.
He had killed a steer and we were putting the meat into the cold cellar when the pains started. One of the hands went into town for Doc. We had no way of knowing just how bad the storm was until the hand returned and said the road was completely blocked. We did not have telephones so we had no way of contacting anyone. Even if we did, with the roads closed Doc would not have been able to get through. It was a very long day and night of labor. Thank God granny was here. Just before dawn our daughter was born. A very beautiful and loud little girl, that we named after John's grandmother, Cassidy came screaming into the world.
"She was a handful then and is still that today." We never stop worrying about them do we Granny? Maude asked. "No matter how old they are, we always worry about them."
"It is a lifetime commitment." She replied.
"Do you ever regret not having children of your own?"
"Oh but I do have children of my own. I had Mr. John and Nathan, and I have you and Cassie. I can now also count Victoria as one of my children. If you want to count the women of The Settlement, then I have a great many children. Not the children of my body, but of my heart. I did not have to go through any labor pains to have them. Regrets? No, I have no regrets in my life. There is no sense regretting what was not destined to happen. At one time I did regret having to leave my mother, but over the years I have accepted the fact that I was not destined to live my life with my tribe. My destiny was to be here."
"Have you ever wanted to return to your Tribe?"
"It does not matter what I have wanted. I was banished for life."
"That was many years ago. Surely those who banished you are no longer alive."
"It would be a part of our Tribal History. I would not be allowed on Tribal lands."
"In a very selfish way I am happy you are here."
"Are they awake?" Granny asked.
"They were earlier. I could hear them talking. Then they went back to sleep."
"The sleep will help them." Granny stated.
"There is a question I would like to ask." Maude said. Granny smiled and nodded for her to continue. "When we brought them home, you had them put together. Why?"
"There is a lot of pain their hearts have to fight to find each other. That journey was made shorter. You saw how their hearts took over once they fell asleep. That is love working it's magic. It is binding each heart to the other."
"You are truly a God send and I thank them all."
"All Miss Maude?"
"Yes. You told Cassie you believed in many Spirit Gods. I can not remember all the ones you mentioned, but if it was not for what you had been taught many years ago... Well, I thank you and them."
Granny sniffed. "It is not nice to make an old woman cry." She smiled. "It has been my pleasure to help this family. As I have said before, you may not be the family I was born into, but you are the family of my heart. That is more important as we choose to love the families of our hearts."
"Now you are going to make me cry." Maude wiped her eyes. I had better get breakfast started. They will be hungry when they wake up. The hands will also be in for breakfast."
"I have some herbs to prepare." Granny said as both women left the proch as the sun peaked over the mountains.
When they woke the second time, it long past dawn. Cassie felt the sunlight on her face and heard the ranch as it came to life for the long work day. She felt Victoria stretch beside her.
"Did we go back to sleep?"
"We did. How do you feel?"
She stretched again. "A little sore, but not too bad. How about you?"
"Ribs are still very sore, but my head is not pounding like it was yesterday. It is still very tender to touch."
"I think that may be a good sign." Victoria said hopefully.
"I hope so too. Will you answer a question for me?"
"Sure. Ask away."
"I need you to be completely honest. What does my face look like? Does it look as bad as it feels?"
"I think you are still very beautiful despite all the bruises and swollen lip. The biggest bruise runs from here," Victoria traced the bruise that covered Cassie's nose, eye, cheek and ear. She moved Cassie's hair to touch her ear. "It ends at your ear."
"Thank you for telling me. I do have another question."
"What else would you like to know?"
"It has to deal with Corrigan."
"Oh" She sounded disappointed. "What about him?"
"It actually has to do with his property. Does he have any family?"
"He was an only child. His father was just as mean and nasty as he was. His parents are both dead."
"Now that he is dead also, what will happen to his property?"
"The county will probably take it for taxes and sell it. Or they could break it up into smaller places then sold."
"So some one just as foul could end up owning it."
"That would mean the smaller places would still have the same problems they have now."
"Let me ask you this." Cassie interrupted. "What sort of man is your father?"
"My father?" She sighed. "My father really is a good man, Cassie. Our farm has been in the family for generations. He was faced with the loss of his home and did what he did to protect his family's land. He and my brothers work the land with out any additional help. He is a hard worker. They all are."
"How many brothers do you have?"
"Five., They are all older and have families of their own. They live in houses on the farm."
"Do you think if he was given the option to have all the water he would ever need and not have to worry about losing his place, he would leave you to live your life in peace?"
"Cassie, he only did what he did to keep the land."
"So you can forgive him for what he did?"
"Forgive him? I understand why he entered that agreement. If I can not find it in me to forgive him, I will not be able to move on with my life. If I want to have any sort of closure, I have to forgive him. In spite of everything, I still love my father, so yes I forgive him. Why all the questions? What is going on in your mind?"
"I have an idea, that I need to talk to Mama and our lawyer about first."
"That is all you are going to tell me?"
"For now. I need you to be patient and trust me. Will you?"
"I trust you Cassie." She whispered.
"Thank you. I would like to tell you about my brother. His name was Nathan. He was three years younger than me. He was nineteen when he died. It was another of those really bad Winters with loads of snow. Then spring came early with a lot of rain. The snow melted too fast and the Mohawk river was threatening to overflow it's banks. Every able bodied person helped to shore up the banks with sandbags and timbers to save those homes closest to the river. The river flows over the Cohoes Falls a few miles downriver. Nothing as powerful as Niagara Falls, but impressive and quite powerful. Nathan... Nathan was, the river was very fast moving and he slipped as he was carrying sandbags and he fell into the river. The current carried him down river before we could do anything. He went over the falls. We did not find his body until days later when the water level went down."
"I am so sorry you lost your brother, Cassie. Thank you for trusting me enough to tell me about him."
"It does help to share with another person. Mama will probably tell you about him when she is ready."
"I will not tell her that I already know." Victoria said softly as she wiped a tear from her eyes.
To be continued...
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