Title: A Change of Grace
Chapter: 29 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.
“Grace you can’t.”
” I most certainly…”
Taylor sighed. The argument had been going on far too long to suit him. Josh and Grace had a serious case of the “can too/can not’s” and he was bored silly.
“Excuse me, Grace?”
“He’s right. You can’t go home dressed like that, you can’t even leave the apartment dressed like that.”
“Well I can’t stay here indefinitely, I must go home sometime, and these are the only clothes I have at my disposal! Isn’t it you who told me to disregard what people think?” Grace nodded triumphantly. That would get him.
“Yes it is, Grace, but you can’t go out like that.”
“And why not?”
“Because when the sun shines on that shirt you can see right through it.”
“What?!” He nodded, too irritated to be embarrassed, and stood up. “Right through it, may as well be naked… Josh, I’m going to go to my house and get her stuff she left there. Try not to kill each other while I’m gone…” He took a few steps, and froze, assaulted by dizziness. “Oh man, maybe not…” He sank back down, holding his head in his hands. “I’ll never make it, not till this damned hangover goes away… why’d you let me swill like that anyway?!”
Josh’s eyes widened in disbelief. “ME?!?! I had nothing to do with it!”
“Didn’t do anything to stop me, did you!”
“At least it wasn’t me who was out there all over Petey’s sister!” Taylor’s mad took another step up.
“Yeah, yeah! She had her hand right THERE and I was too drunk to even like it! You coulda said something before!”
“Don’t you talk that way in front of Grace!”
“Her eyes ain’t gonna cross, she was there! She saw a hell of a lot more than I felt!! “You…”
“That’s enough!” Grace’s voice held no room for debate, and both boys shut up on the spot. “I’ve had quite enough of both of you. I’m going home. Taylor, if you would be so kind as to return my clothing, I’m sure you remember where I live. Josh, please fetch me something to wear that can NOT be seen through.”
“I’m not going to discuss it, just get me something to wear!” The tone of pure evil in her voice convinced him that she was ready to do them harm, and he got up quickly. “Grace, I’m sorry… we should have told you right away… I’ll be right back…” He hurried from the room, leaving Taylor more than a little nervous. As fate would have it, he had good reason. Grace’s eyes narrowed as she stared at him, and he dropped his eyes, feeling very much like a bug on a pin.
“Pull the shade down Grace? It’s a little too bright in here Grace?! Taylor why didn’t you tell me?!”
“I… you…” He shrugged helplessly.
“You sat there and stared at me… and I thought we were friends! Obviously I should choose my friends more carefully!”
“Aw, no… Grace I just…”
“You are just a scoundrel!”
“Grace I… well Josh looked too!” He knew it was infantile, but it was the only defense left to him. She was right, he’d put off telling her simply to enjoy the view.
“And I suppose that makes it acceptable? That he looked too? And to think I thought he was different…”
“Grace, don’t go thinking bad about Josh! Or me either! Okay, so we’re pigs, so smack us and get over it! I’m sorry, okay?! Pretty girl comes out here half naked, forgive me for looking!! Grace, get over yourself…” He flung himself back, arms crossed over his chest. Damn it, if she was going to come out looking like that, what did she think they would do? “Cut it out, Tay, she didn’t even know, and you’re being an asshole…” The voice of his conscience, still sounding like Zac, rang in his head. Muttering to himself, he tugged at his hair. Grace was right, they had no business taking advantage of the situation. Sighing, he looked up at her, forcing himself to meet her angry gaze. “Grace… I know. You’re right, we shouldn’t have done that… it’s just… y’know… a guy thing.”
She snorted, and looked away. “If you had any respect…”
He nodded, and shrugged. “I know… you could always take it as a compliment…”
“A compliment… I mean… we looked… and we kept…” He realized, too late, what he was saying, and snapped his mouth shut, knowing his fate was sealed.
“That’s it.” She didn’t raise her voice. “That’s it, I’m going to kill you now. Say goodbye, Taylor…” The fury in her eyes convinced him and he was up off the couch in a flash, slamming out of the room, hitching up against Josh, on his way back in with a heavier shirt.
“Oh my God, she’s gonna kill me… I mean really kill me…”
“Well what’d you do? Did you say something stupid again? Taylor are you trying to ruin this for me?”
“ME?!?! I seem to recall you were looking too… just go give her the shirt! And chill her out! And whaddaya mean AGAIN?!” “Taylor, if you don’t start speaking clear English I’m going to help her kill you…”
“Yeah, yeah, be careful going in there, she could have a gun.”
“You know, I doubt that.”
“No, I mean it, she’s fixin’ to go postal on me!”
“Taylor, you’re trying my patience.”
“Taylor, shut up. Just shut up… after all you said last night, the last thing you want to be doing is saying anything strange.” Josh pushed the door open and wordlessly handed the shirt to Grace, who gaped in disbelief.
“I suppose you want me to change right here? So you can enjoy an even greater view?” “Grace, no… is this what it’s going to be like to be married to you?! Because if it is you can forget it!”
“Marry?! After this?!” She shoved by him, barely resisting the urge to yank the white shirt off right in front of him. Halfway through the door she collided with Taylor, who jumped away quickly. Years with the females in his family had taught him. When they were mad, you stayed out of the way.
“YOU!” She aimed a shove at him, pinning him to the wall. “You are a lowly excuse for a man!” With that, she slammed through the hall door, and he heard her feet pounding up the stairs.
“Wow… Josh we really pissed her off… what’d you mean after all I said last night?” “WE?! Taylor you’re the one who told her we could see through her shirt!”
“Well did you want her to go out like that?!”
“No, but you didn’t have to say it like that!”
“How did you want me to say it then?!”
“Just shut up!”
“No! And WHAT did I say last night?!”
“What is everybody yelling about?” Louise giggled as the two boys jumped, whirling around to stare at her. “What’s wrong with everyone? You’re all so… grumpy…” “What’re you doing here?”
“Ma told me to say and mind the three of you.”
“We don’t need to be minded, thank you LOUISE, now go away…”
“Oh, really. I think you do. Grace is upstairs wrecking your room, you’re down here fighting…”
“Wrecking my room?”
“Josh, what did I say last night?”
“Shut UP Taylor!”
“Louise we are adults. We do not need you to mind us.”
“Right, adults, yes, I can certainly see that.”
“Josh…” Taylor’s voice had taken on a tone of extreme anxiety. “Josh what did I say last night?”
“Taylor, let it go…”
“No. What did I…”
“Louise, will you go away?!”
“I’m to mind you. I can’t do that if I go away.”
“Josh!” Taylor tugged on the Josh’s shirtsleeve. “Josh c’mon I…” Whirling on him, patience completely extinguished, Josh grabbed the other boy by the collar.
“ONE more world out of you, and I’ll E-MAIL you, okay?!?! Now SHUT! UP!” Josh flung him, silent and shocked, into the back of the sofa.
“LOUISE! Go away!” Louise, nearly incapacitated with laughter, shook her head, wiping her streaming eyes. “Oh I can barely wait to be old enough to go out as you did. You must have had so much fun last night, you are all so perfectly joyous this morning…”
“I’m warning you…”
“Oh yes… adults, yes, right.” She clamped a hand over her mouth in a futile attempt to stop the laughing. They were all acting so ridiculous. A glance from her brother, one she knew well, quieted her somewhat. Josh was getting really angry, and his temper was not one to play with. Composing herself, she stood up, still stifling giggles.
“I will leave you, my dear ADULTS, but only if you promise not to kill each other. I could never explain it to Ma….” She giggled again and ran from the room, her howls of laughter echoing back to them.
“I swear, her life expectancy grows shorter with each passing day.” Josh’s mutterings were lost on Taylor, who sat, stunned, in horrified silence. E-mail? Josh had said e-mail.
“Josh… I… please. What did I say?” The distress in his voice cut through Josh’s annoyance, and he sat back, sighing.
“You don’t remember, do you…” Taylor shook his head, not trusting his voice. Frighteningly close to tears, the thought that he had completely ruined everything filled his being.
“Maybe Taylor… maybe it’s best it stays that way. You don’t remember. I don’t understand. Let it be.”
“Taylor. You didn’t say anything.”
“But you said…”
“And neither did I. That’s it, Taylor. Don’t push it.”
The two boys gazed into each others eyes, neither convinced, both afraid. They felt the flex at the same time, as the image crossed from Taylor’s mind to Josh’s. Small keyboard, bright screen, typeset words… The image faded, acknowledged only by the flicker of two sets of eyes. Taylor nodded, and stood up.
“I think I’m gonna go get Grace’s stuff…” His voice shook and he looked away from Josh, unable to meet his eyes any longer.
“I think that’s a very good idea. Maybe you should have someone else bring them back.”
Taylor felt the stab of those words as an almost physical pain. Whatever friendship he’d had, it was gone now. Nodding, he left the room quietly, meeting Grace in the front hall. Eyes downcast, he shrugged off her inquiry.
“Going to get your stuff for you… for what it’s worth, I’m really sorry… for everything…”
He left the apartment silently, leaving Grace baffled.