Title: A Change of Grace
Chapter: 30 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.
“Josh, where’s Taylor going? What’s wrong with him? Faintly worried, the near grief on Taylor’s face, coupled with the stark discomfort on Josh’s faded her already cooling anger. “He looked very upset, what happened?” “It’s alright Grace, he’ll be fine, I’m sure.” Josh’s sudden discomfort with himself was far too distressing to let him worry much about Taylor. “There’s just too much happening, too much going on, my life is all upside down. He just brought it all up again in here…” He tapped his temple. “I now have problems where I only had worries before..” Josh’s thoughts ran in circles, he just didn’t know where to start. Taylor’s dogged persistence in trying to make him repeat his strange words of the night before had had the effect of digging a branch into a clear pond and stirring vigorously, spinning silt and mud obscuring the bottom. His mind was a whirling mass of confusions and dilemmas. “What does he DO to me anyway?!” He rubbed his aching head. The pain certainly wasn’t helping things any.
He looked up at Grace, unable to explain to her what he was feeling. The naked sympathy on her face touched him, and for a moment he felt close to tears, reaching to embrace her, resting his head on her shoulder. “Everything just became very confusing…”
“Ok, Grace, now what are we doing?” Grace’s sympathy, and a little while to sort himself out had put Josh back to some sort of rights again, and he watched the young woman, amused. Grace had changed into a heavier shirt, and was muttering to herself about how it didn’t match the brown trousers.
“You look beyond fine, Grace, please, believe me about that.” Josh grinned at the look that returned to Grace’s face. “Are you going to hold that against me for the rest of my life?”
“You boys… how could you, oh never mind… you’re men, it’s quite normal to behave boorishly…”
“It’s natural, Grace. I am NOT a boor. I’ve never seen a girl wearing pants, I can’t help but notice how, and where, they fit you.” He avoided the shirt issue completely, hoping she’d let that go.
“They certainly look better on you than they do on me.” He dodged the smacking hand she aimed at him, ducking his head. “I have a blackened eye already, please, don’t hurt me again, please!” He teased her a moment more, before he saw the tears glittering in her eyes.
“Josh, enough. I’ve been through more in the past 24 hours… I’ve done more, and seen more, and *lived* more than I ever thought possible. I’m confused, my head hurts more than I thought it ever could, I hurt you, and Taylor…” Grace sank onto the sofa, resting her elbows on her knees. Her head hung limply, and she cupped her hands under her chin.
“Awww, Grace, my Grace…” Josh sat beside her, and gathered her close to him, still smiling faintly. “I AM sorry about looking, and teasing. Consider this black eye as pre-payment for that, if you’d like. We were wrong. Just forget about it. We were just being boors, as you said. And now… we have other things to solve, you know.” “We do?” He nodded. “We have a lot to talk about…”
Grace pulled away from him, sitting back into the corner of the sofa. She could not think while so close to him, and she needed to clear her mind. She’d listened to everything he had to say. Now she needed time to ponder it. Last night had been fun, so much fun, but could she live a lifetime of that? Singing in pubs, probably away from all she knew? Could Josh provide a living to keep them? A decent living? Would they be able to survive? She knew he’d never settle, and be happy, at the paper, and did she have the right, now, to expect that of him? She was certain of only one thing. She did love him. She was fairly certain he loved her too. Was he willing to compromise, to meet her in the middle? But, where was the middle? She heard a knock at the door, and nodded as Josh rubbed her shoulder, telling her he’d be right back. She heard faint murmuring from the entryway, as her thoughts spun round and round. Could she live this life forever? Was there a middle ground? Between pub singing, and her society life? She knew so little of this world, the world of music, was there an alternative? To satisfy them both? Her eyes closed, she didn’t see Josh return, feeling the sofa bounce as he sat down again.
“Grace!!! You’ll never believe it!!! Oh God, I don’t believe it! This is… just…. oh God…” His words all ran together, then ran out, overexcitement stealing them away. Eyes shining, face little more than a huge grin, he hugged her tightly, let her go, jumped to his feet, and sat down again. Astonished, she grabbed a flying appendage and held on. “Josh! Slow down, please!” His obvious delight didn’t make the run on babble he’d commenced any easier to understand, and all she could catch were odd phrases.. “Regular shows.” “Weekly payments” “Decent hall.” “No more pubs.”
“Josh, start again, please, slowly, what?!?” Totally lost, and unable to shut him up, she finally resorted to clamping her hand over his mouth, damning the flood of words. She could feel his grin under her hand, then it was removed and kissed soundly, as he took her hand in his.
“Grace, that was Mr. Marcus Dieter, of the New York Music League. He owns several music halls, here, and about the country. DECENT halls, where everyone, even society people, go. He wants to sign the boys and I to do regular shows!!! With weekly payments! For a year long contract! It will mean some travelling, but… Grace! This is what we’ve been working for! Waiting for! No more pubs…” He stopped for breath, excited beyond all belief. He could now provide for Grace, the way she deserved to be provided for. He had a job, a respectable job, in music. It was all falling into place, yes it was. Confused, Grace raised her hand to stop the impending flow of new words.
“Josh, how? Why? I mean, how does he know of you? Has he heard you sing? Has he been at a show?”
“He saw a newspaper review, this man saw the show last night, and praised us so much that Mr. Dieter is willing to sign us sight unseen. Or song unheard, or something… I guess this man from the newspaper is never overly impressed, but he liked us! He said, and I quote ‘These boys will go far…” He paused for a moment, continuing a bit faintly. “Something about us having extraordinary talent…” He let his voice drift off again, puzzled. What the paper had actually said was “the front man, Joshua Gage, has an extraordinary talent.”, and a day or so ago Josh would have crowed to all and sundry. Now though, something inside him, something he wasn’t sure he understood, found the praise vaguely discomfiting. He shook his head, excitement returning . “Anyway… Mr. Dieter wants us to meet with him Tuesday morning, to sign all the papers, but he gave me his handshake on the deal. Grace, this is it. We’re set. On our way. I have a job, a real job. I can be a proper husband to you. Um… that’s if… I mean… ” His voice trailed off, he was no longer sure, and he didn’t want to assume. His arrogance gone, he knew he couldn’t ask Grace to live the life of a travelling singer, not if she didn’t want that. “Grace, will you still marry me? I have a job, we’ll be able to live, I know it’s not the life you had in mind. We’ll have to travel some… Grace? I do love you, you know…”
Grace watched Josh’s face, as he told her of this marvelous opportunity handed to him. The play of expressions, bliss, satisfaction, disbelief, uncertainty. He’d gone from squeezing her hands, hands he’d clasped in his joy, to rubbing them gently, with his thumbs. Could she do this? Was this the middle ground, the compromise? She saw the expression currently on his face, love, and hope, shining from his eyes. “What do I do? What should I do? Can I do this?” She heard Taylor’s words, in her mind, telling her that fun was allowed, that all life didn’t have to revolve around the rules she had always followed. He had shown her that you can live an unconventional life, and manage quite well. He’d shown them all that, and changed them in the process.
“Yes, Josh.” Two simple words, words said softly, gently. The happiness on their faces lit the room. Their world at peace, they simply held hands, looking at each other, talking softly of their future, and making plans, until the quiet was shattered.
“Grace? Aren’t you going home? Are you going to go home like THAT?” Louise had pounded down the stairs, and burst into the room like a blonde whirlwind. She giggled at the sight of perfect Grace, in her brother’s clothing, holding hands with him, sitting close, right there, in her parlor! She opened her mouth, prepared to start the teasing, when her words were stopped by Josh’s.
“Yes, spawn, I’m taking Grace home now. Tell Ma I’ll be home later. I want to talk to Grace’s father.” Knowing it was time to move to the next problem, Josh hoped it would resolve as neatly as this one had. Somehow, however, he knew it wouldn’t be as easy. Grace’s parents weren’t overly fond of him, taking the job at the paper was the only thing that had kept the betrothal from being annulled. “Well, I DO have a job, a good paying one, not the one I had before, but it is a job.” That thought giving him some small comfort, he pulled Grace off the sofa.
“C’mon my Grace, we have parents to talk to next.” Grace grimaced, screwing up her face in distress.
“Josh, this won’t be good, you know that. I’m sure they don’t know all that happened, but I didn’t come home, and look at how I’m dressed! Mother will have a canary fit, I’m sure. How will I explain…” Josh cut her words off with his hand over her mouth.
“I’ll help. Let’s tuck your hair under this cap of mine, and we’ll take side alleys to get you home. It’s not far, we’ll hide behind horses if need be.” Grace giggled at the thought, then sobered.
“No, I think we should wait for you to talk to them. They’ll be much too angry to listen to any kind of good news… best to let them calm themselves first. And I should take a hansom home… I don’t want to be seen like this, honestly, why fuel the fire?” He sighed, nodding. He didn’t agree that she should wait to have him talk to her parents, but he would do it her way.
“Well, come on then, let’s get you home, and we’ll worry about the rest later.”
“You needn’t go with me, Josh…” Her nerves were beginning to scream at her, causing her to pace. Turning his eyes heavenward, he shook his head.
“I know I needn’t, but I’m going to. Now calm yourself. It’ll be alright, and if it’s not, we’ll deal with it together. Yes?” He smiled winningly, and she found herself unable to resist smiling back.
“Yes. Then… let’s go.”