Title: A Change of Grace
Chapter: 20 of 41
Summary: Taylor ends up traveling back in time to New York in the 19th century. There he meets Kathryn, Benjamin, Joshua and Grace among many others. The story follows both Taylor’s adventures in the past and Isaac and Zachary’s search for him in present (1997/1998) time.
Taylor groaned and pulled the covers over his head.
Pounding… what was that pounding?
“God… stop it…” Bed was comfortable. Unbelievably, blissfully comfortable. Whatever that was, he wasn’t going to get up for it.
The pounding came again, and he winced, adding the pillow to the covers over his head, muting it, drifting off again.
“Aren’t you supposed to lay on the pillow, and not the other way round? Wake up, Taylor”
Taylor shrugged off the shaking hand, still asleep.
“No, tell MTV to go away…”
“M What? Get up Taylor, we need to talk.” Josh shook him yet again, marveling that Taylor made no sense, even in sleep.
“I don’t want to talk to ’em, let Ike talk to ’em…” “Taylor!”
Josh raised his voice and gave his friend a harder shake.
“Taylor wake up!”
“What’re you doing here?”
“Waking you up. I need to talk to you.”
Taylor sighed, squinting up at the other boy. “How’d you get in?”
“That odd man let me in. Why are you still in bed? You’re not ill, are you?”
“No.” He shoved himself to sitting, rubbing his face blearily.”What’d you want to talk about?”
“You woke me up to talk about Grace?”
“Yes, I did. Now will you get up please? I feel as if I’m in a sickroom.”
Scowling, the light arrowing uncomfortably into his eyes, Taylor nodded, waving Josh out of the room. “Lemme get dressed.” “Don’t go back to sleep.” “I’m not gonna go back to sleep, get out now…” Josh grinned as he made his exit, wondering how long to give him before he went back and shook him again.
For his part, Taylor was irritated. What did Josh have to talk about that couldn’t wait? The last few days had been pretty intense, what with all of the weird telepathic stuff, and yanking Ike back by the skin of his unbelief… he was tired! “One day off, just one, but no…” He climbed into clothes, sweating already, wishing it was acceptable to wear shorts. “Why do they wear so many damn layers? Geez…” Aware that he was irrationally cranky, and hoping he could get a handle on it before he ended up in another fight with Josh, he pulled his hair back and sighed, looking into his own eyes in the mirror. “You chill out, you hear me? Just get a grip and don’t take out your bad mood on anyone… right.” Nodding, the thought that a week ago he’d have cheerfully made anyone within reach just as miserable as he was never crossing his mind, he headed down the hall. The smell of coffee hit him halfway to the kitchen, suddenly making his mouth water, and his steps quickened. “I don’t even like coffee but man that smells good…”
“Doesn’t it though. Here…” Josh handed a heavy earthenware mug across the table. “Wake you up it will. Taylor…” He sighed heavily, rubbing his eyes. “I’m sorry to get you up… but… I can’t talk to the boys about this. I’m not sure I can talk to them about much of anything anymore…”
Nodding, sipping the coffee, Taylor kicked a chair out and sat down. “You talked to them since yesterday?”
“No… I almost stopped at Petey’s on the way here, but I changed my mind.”
“How come?” Sighing again, Josh shrugged. “I was pretty bad to them, you’re right. I mean, I punched Andy…”
“Yeah, that was bad.” “I think it would be better to let them cool off, before I try to talk to them.”
“You singing tonight?” “Supposed to be.”
“Then you better talk to them quick.”
“I know… look that’s not why I came here!” Josh’s tone became defensive. “I came here to talk to you about Grace.”
Taylor’s eyebrows went up. “So you said… what about Grace?”
“Well…” Josh’s discomfort suddenly became acute. How could he say it? How could he make sense? “Well… you know Grace, right?”
“No Josh, I have no idea who you’re talking about.”
Josh scowled, and shoved his chair out, moving to the pot on the stove, nervously running his hands through his hair. “You want some more?” “No, it makes me sick. And you should switch to decaf…” “To what?” “Nothing, Josh, what about Grace?” Josh sighed and sat back down, leaning his chin in his hand. “Taylor, when she was with you, playing the piano? She looked so happy…” “She was enjoying herself…” “Yes but… I’m not used to… she never…” He shook his head, knowing what he wanted to say, unsure how to say it. “Josh… did you have some kind of point you were trying to make, here?” Taylor was finding it difficult to keep his eyes open. If Josh had something to say he’d better get with it. “Okay. Listen. I’ve known Grace forever, Taylor, since we were little children. We used to have so much fun, I wanted to marry her when I was five, did you know that?” Taylor smiled vaguely as Josh went on. “I don’t know… when she changed, but she never smiles anymore. She never has any fun. She has that, that, that CHURCH face on, all the time, she won’t even… last night, when she was sitting there with you, she was laughing, and smiling, and she looked so beautiful…” “Well she’s pretty Josh, you can’t deny that.” “No, I guess she is. But… she’s like a pretty stone around my neck dragging me down. If she could just be like she was with you, when she’s with me. I mean, she looks at me as if I’m something stuck to the bottom of her shoe. I walk in and she goes all cold and and and… and proper. I can’t be with someone like that, Taylor, I can’t be with someone who can’t have any fun! Who wants to drown me!” “I don’t think she wants to drown you, Josh…” “I mean, I looked at her, and she was so pretty… her hair… her smile… but she’d just be a pretty ball tied to me, she’d just drag me down… but…”
Taylor sighed. “He’s just like Ike, he goes on and on and on and says absolutely nothing.” Shaking his head, he struggled to wake up. “Josh!” “What!” Josh jumped, his ramble broken. “Do you like her?” “No. I don’t like her. There’s nothing about her to like… except she’s pretty… and she USED to be fun… I used to like her…” “If you don’t like her why are you here talking about her?” “Well because… Taylor, last night I saw the old Grace. The Grace I did like.” “So you do like her…” “Taylor!” “Well do you?” “YES! But why can’t she be that way with me?!” “I don’t know… maybe because you’re so grouchy when she looks at you. You get all…” Taylor scowled hugely, scrunching up his face. “You look at her like you hate her, heck, I’d be scared too…” “She looks at me the same way.” “Yep, but only when you’re watching. When you’re not looking she looks at you like Lou was looking at me.” Josh broke into a grin, and shook his head. “No way. Louise looks at you like you’re God come down to earth just for her.” “And that’s how Grace looks at you. Look, you’re both morons. Just face it. You like her, she likes you, but you both are so busy disapproving of each other that you can’t even say hello anymore!” Josh shrugged, eyes downcast. “Josh… have you ever sat down and talked to each other? I mean since you were five? Just sat down alone and told her how you feel? Told her what you want? Or asked her what she wants?” “No. I know what she wants. She wants someone like me Da, like her Da, someone who’ll go to work and come home and earn a wage and just shrivel up and die. She wants someone who can be nothing.” “You don’t know that. You haven’t talked to her. I talked to her on the way home last night. I think you’re wrong about her.” “Wrong about her how? She only cares about what other people think, what LOOKS right. She goes to church, she sews, she’s an old woman already. And she wants to make me just like her. She doesn’t even LIKE music Taylor…” Taylor clasped his hands tightly, restraining the urge to reach out and clout Josh in the head. “What was that she was doing last night then? I would say that was music, Josh. She told me she used to want to be a famous pianist…” Josh’s face turned nostalgic. “Yes she did. When we were children we were going to be famous together. She was going to play and I was going to sing. But somewhere… she just dropped it.” “Maybe she felt like she had to. Maybe she needs you to help her get it back.” “Oh, I’m doubting that. Miss. Ice cube wants nothing to…” “JOSH! Damn it!” “What!” “Go talk to her! Talk to her like you’re talking to me. Look, you say you don’t want to marry her, that you’re being forced into it. But your face says you do want to marry her. Josh, you love the girl, it’s written all over you. You’re just frustrated with her. And she’s just as frustrated with you. You have to get together and talk. You have to. Or you’re both gonna end up miserable” “I can’t talk to her, Taylor” Taylor bit his tongue. There was no way he was going to convince Josh. “Look… I don’t know what to tell you. I think you’re both idiots though. Just go to her house and take her out for lunch and talk to her.” “I can’t, I have to make peace with the boys, and practice.” “Josh…” “I know. I’m sorry…” He shoved his chair out, rinsed his cup and headed out of the kitchen. “Taylor, thanks for listening, I guess… you want to come with me?” “No, I’m going back to bed. I can hardly stay awake.” “Why you so tired?” “Long night. I’ll meet you tonight though, if you want. Where are you singing?” “Same place…” He nodded, shrugged, and took his leave, thoughts whirling.
Taylor shut the door behind Josh, falling against it with an exhausted sigh. “Big waste of his time, talking to me…” He shook his head, smiling a little, as he yawned. Josh hadn’t wanted anything much more than someone to bounce things off of. It was pretty silly, Taylor thought ruefully. Grace and Josh were both crazy about each other, but too busy disapproving to realize it. She thought he was too wild, he thought she didn’t know how to have any fun. Between them they managed some pretty impressive cold shoulder time. “I’m supposed to know what to do about this? I don’t even HAVE a girlfriend…” Yawning again, he pushed off the door and headed back down the hall. “Two more hours sleep, that’s all I want. Two more hours…” He shucked off the shoes and socks, suspenders and shirts, blissing a little on the faint breeze that brushed his back as he stretched out on the bed. “Two hours and then I’ll go see if Josh talked to the guys. Go see if there’s anything to do about Grace… go see…” He drifted off in mid thought, sinking down into deep sleep almost immediately.
Grace sighed, reaching for the scissors. “Why do I keep doing that?!” She carefully picked out the last hours work, scowling at the ragged appearance of the fabric in her hands. She’d made the same mistake three times, catching it only after she’d put in hundreds more stitches. “If I pick these stitches out again, I may as well throw the whole thing away, it will be useless.” She glanced at the pattern, at the fabric, back again. “If it were only a bit more interesting…” The drooping blue flower, the uninspired bible verse. “And with God all things are possible…” She sighed. All things except getting this section of the stitching in right. No wonder she was bored. Setting the hoop aside she let her gaze travel out the window. Sun, golden and cheerful poured in, and she was suddenly seized with a longing to be out in the day, to be breathing the fresh air and feeling the sun on her face. “I suppose I could take a walk…” Sighing at the sheer thrill of talking a walk, Grace irritably slammed the lid on her embroidery box. “I don’t want to take a walk, I want to do something…” Puzzled at the sudden discontent, she glanced at her reflection in the glass. “What’s wrong with you?” Shaking her head, she moved to her room to change to a walking dress, trying to shove away the nagging feeling that she had to DO something, BE somewhere. Restlessness was unlike her. “I’ll go to that new park… see how it’s coming along. There’s supposed to be a carousel…” Her hand let down the loose knot her hair had been tied in, and she ran a brush through it, dreamily thinking back to the night before, and the glittering floss Taylor had woven into it. It had looked nice, she had to admit. Too bad Josh hadn’t noticed. “Could hardly expect him to notice, if you’re not a tavern wench he has no use for you…” Her fingers wound gently around the threads she’d removed before bed. “I could put these back in, before I go out…” The thought of how they would glitter in the sun attracted her… but no. No. “Vanity… all vanity.” Sighing, she let the floss go, pulling her hair into an almost painfully tight bun. There. That was much more appropriate. Nodding to herself, she pulled on her gloves and hat, and left her room. “Oh, pardon me missus!” The young boy who had careened into her grinned widely, tipping his hat. Favoring him with a scornful look, Grace nodded her acceptance of his apology, and watched as he ran on, blond hair flying in the breeze. The glimmering mane, completely acceptable on a boy his age, put her in mind of Taylor, and his ridiculous hair. What boy in his right mind would let his hair be so long? He was an odd one, no question. Her thoughts drifted as her feet carried her along Broadway, from Taylor to Josh. Josh. Frowning, she crossed her arms against a sudden chill. Why did he have to be so irresponsible? Why did he have to be so… so rebellious? He’d been such a good friend when they were younger, but now… Sighing, she tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. She and Josh were simply unsuited for one another. The sooner she accepted that, the better. “Taylor didn’t think so though…” Frustrated she shoved the thought away. Why wouldn’t that strange boy leave her thoughts? The things he’d said about Josh… about her. Was it possible he’d been correct? “Oh obviously not, he knows nothing about the way things are done…” His invitation to come call rang in her head, and she froze in something like horror. Here she was, headed uptown. “Grace you are NOT going to call on that boy. It is completely improper.” Telling herself, firmly, she continued her trek uptown. “You will go to the park, you will look at the carousel. You will look at the new swan boats. You will perhaps have a lemonade and then you will go home. You are NOT going anywhere near the Dakota.” Convinced, she walked on, thoughts drifting back to Josh. “This is an unhealthy obsession, Grace. If you put half as much attention to the Lord and his work, you’d be much better off.” The firm voice in her mind annoyed her. The Lord. Her world bored her, the church, the needlework, the teas, the bible lessons she gave the little ones. The housework, the cooking, the scrubbing, the propriety of it all. “I don’t even have any friends any longer!” She scowled at the realization, blue eyes flashing. Her girlfriends were all as caught up in being proper young women as she was, the giggling conversations about boys and dreams long gone as the real world took it’s hold, and adult life replaced childhood. “Is being grown any real excuse to stop living?” Feeling very unfulfilled, frustrated, helpless to stop the train of thought, she never noticed her steps carrying her well past the entrance to the park. “Maybe Josh is right. Maybe it’s better to be scandalous and alive…” Shaking her head emphatically, she did her best to squash the thread of ideas in her mind. “Josh is a rogue. He’s wild, he’s no good, and he’ll never amount to anything… but what was it Taylor said about a dream? Taylor… what an odd one. Where is he from? Such atrocious ideas, such ridiculous speech… oh Grace WHERE are you GOING?!” Sighing, realizing she’d bypassed the entrance to the park and was now several blocks further on, she stopped. “You are NOT going to see him. There is nothing you need to talk with him about, now you just turn around and go where you intended.” Ignoring herself, her thoughts drifting again to Josh and Taylor, she walked on, breaking in firmly every few minutes to tell herself that she was NOT going to the Dakota. If she so happened to walk by it, well it was… was architecturally educational. It would do no harm to look at it. After all, it was something of a local phenomenon. She certainly wouldn’t be going in. She remained firm in her resolve right to the moment she knocked on his door.
The rapping had started again, and Taylor sighed, throwing an arm over his eyes. “What is this place, Grand Central Station?” He ignored the knocking for a few moments, wondering if it were Josh again. “He’s really got to get a grip…” Shaking his head, reluctantly sitting up, he listened again. Yep. Rap rap rap. Still there. Sighing, not bothering to dress in anything other than the loose trousers he’d been sleeping in, he padded, barefoot, to the door, eyes still half shut. If anyone were here, they obviously weren’t going to get the door. God it was hot. “If it’s the ice guy, I’m gonna just yank it away from him and rub it all over me…” Smiling a little, scratching happily at his bare chest, he opened the door, stepping back with a grin at the squeal of shock that came from the young woman on the threshold. “Oh, hey Grace, what’s up…” He stepped out of her way, wondering why she was so red, and looking everywhere but at him. “Grace? Did you want to come in or were you just gonna stand there and admire the lighting?” Her hand came up to cover her eyes and her voice issued forth, a scandalized hiss. “Taylor put some clothes on! You can’t answer the door like that!” Face comically surprised, he looked down at himself. What. He had no shirt, so what? “Grace, geez. Unbend a little before you hurt something. It’s not like I’m naked. Are you coming in or not?” Still avoiding looking at him, she shook her head helplessly, face redder than anyone’s he’d ever seen. “I don’t know, are you alone here?” He shrugged, moving aside to let her in. “I have no idea, probably since nobody answered the door. I was asleep. Come on in, I’ll go get dressed. Even though it’s HOT, Grace, man…” His voice took on a whine that somehow set her at ease, and she stepped inside, still refusing to look at him. “Go ahead down the hall there, and sit down. I’ll be out in a minute. Will you relax? God, you have a giant oak up your bu… spine…” Muttering he moved off down the hall, wondering at a time that wouldn’t even let a guy go shirtless in hundred degree heat. Pulling on the hated undershirt, he called through the open door, unable to repress the grin in his voice. “I thought you said coming over here would be improper?!” Her voice came back, carrying a feisty note he liked. “It is! I have no idea why I’m here, obviously it’s some form of temporary insanity.” “Yeah, it must have been! How many shirts do I have to put on for you to be able to look at me without your face falling off?!” “One is fine!” “Do I have to have shoes?” “Oh Taylor, I don’t care!” He giggled and toted them down the hall with him, grinning when he saw the exasperated look on her face. “What, what’d I do now?” “Do you always answer the door that way? And look at your hair…” “I told you, I was asleep. Gimme a couple minutes to get it together, geez…” He ran his hands through his hair, wincing a little as they caught in the tangles. “Yeah that must look good…” He held up a finger and went in search of a brush, wondering if it were bad manners to brush his hair in front of her. Shrugging it off, not really caring, he wandered back in, dragging the brush through his hair en route. “So what’s up, Grace? What brings you here? You want something to drink?” Sighing, she shook her head. “I don’t know why I’m here. I should NOT be here.” Her face belied her words, and he gazed at her thoughtfully. Something was on her mind. “No, what is it? Something you wanted to talk about?” She averted her eyes, taking in the kitchen. “This is a lovely apartment, I had no idea this building was so beautiful.” “It’s nice, yeah. I’ve always loved it, so it’s really cool to be here…” “Always? Taylor the building is brand new…” Mentally kicking himself again, he nodded. “Yeah, well since I first saw it…” “You’re very strange, Taylor” “Yeah, I been told. You want a drink?” “You already asked.” “You never answered.” “No, thank you. I’d actually like to perhaps leave here and go someplace more… appropriate.” “You not only get me up, you want me to go out?” “Taylor, it’s quite late in the morning.” “Well I like to sleep in.” Smiling indulgently, he shoved his chair back and set about putting his shoes on. If she wanted to leave, leave they would. He had no doubt any arguments with this girl would leave him the loser. “Josh came by too, this morning.” He bit his lip to hide the smile as he saw her face suddenly come alive. “He was? What did he want?” “To talk about you.” “Me?” “You. Lemme guess, you’re here to talk about him, right?” “Well…” “I’m officially changing my name to Ann Landers. You know, the two of you should be talking to each OTHER, not to me. I don’t know anything… ok. Do I have everything on I’m supposed to have on?” Her eyes widened in shocked surprise, an instant before she burst into laughter. “Taylor, if you don’t know how to dress yourself perhaps you should stay in and we’ll get you a caretaker!” “Look, it was a long night and you woke me up. Yesterday I took off without my key, or my money. So I just need a second opinion, okay?” “Well do something with that hair, and you’ll be fine.” “Why is everyone so down on my hair?” He shoved it up under his cap, pocketed billfold and key, and gestured out the door. “After you. I’ll walk like… six paces behind if it’ll make you feel better…” “Don’t be absurd.” “Well, I wouldn’t want to get you in any trouble.” “I don’t need any help with that, thank you very much.” “Yeah…” He grinned. “Comin’ all this way to come see me. You rebel you. Besides if I walk too far behind you’ll look like you’re talking to yourself. Where you wanna go?” He glanced at his nonexistent wristwatch, and sighed, reaching into his pocket to pull out the watch Ben had given him. “It’s not even noon yet…” “Do you have someplace to be?” “No… go ahead, wherever you lead, I’ll follow.” He grinned at her snort as she left the apartment ahead of him.