Saved by a Goddess
Tyler Dawson is a successful stunt coordinator for some of Hollywood’s largest films until an accident at a remote location leads him to sacrificing his life to save an ancient goddess who he had mistaken for his beautiful wife. She offers to save his life but some sacrifices would have to be made in order to do so. If he had known, he might have said no but then again she might have said yes.
Dani kissed me lovingly before she applied my lipstick. "Have a great night dear. You have no idea how hot right you look now. I may have to take you back to the trailer and ravage you."
I grabbed a handful of her hair and pulled her closer. "You keep that up and you might have to, because I somehow doubt the director would be happy with what's about to poke out from my skirt."
"Get a room!" Laughed my best friend since grade school Ryan Crews from the next chair over.
The small Italian man working on his makeup laughed and playfully slapped Ryan's shoulder. "Jealous much?"
Ryan laughed again as he stared at my wife and me. "You know Gregorio, I think I am."
Dani smirked and wrapped her arms around my neck as she gazed into my eyes while still talking to the best man at our wedding. "You can't have him Ryan. Tyler Dawson is all mine."
Ryan's laughter became so loud it almost shook the makeup trailer. "Oh yes Mrs. Dawson, I spend many nights dreaming of Mister Tripod over there."
Gregorio appeared confused. "Tripod?"
As Ryan whispered something is Gregorio's ear, one of the director's assistants stuck her head in the door grinning at the way we were carrying on. "Okay guys. The van leaves in five minutes."
Gregorio's face blushed slightly before he eyed me lustfully and winked at my wife. "Well that explains why she's always in such a good mood. Some bitches have all the luck."
"Just adding the last touch up." Dani replied to the woman in the doorway while laughing at her coworker as she brushed the dark red lipstick across my lips. "See you in the morning. I love you."
I smiled. "I love you too."
Dani helped me from my chair and smoothed out the wrinkles from the tattered white silk spaghetti strap top and torn silver silk mini skirt. The feel of her touch over the smooth fabric covering my body was beginning to make me melt. I shivered in anticipation when she slipped her fingernail through one of the many holes torn into the top.
She leaned in so only I could hear. "You have no idea how glad I am the woman you hired had to fly home at the last second. I missed seeing you like this."
I laughed lightly. "I hope you know, you are the only reason I let Aaron talk me into doing this. He claims there is nobody else available at such notice but I'm sure I could have found someone. I personally think you paid her off to leave then conspired with Aaron to not find anyone else."
Dani nuzzled her nose into my hair just behind my ear and let her tongue run along the edge. She knew that was my weak spot and would have my mind racing. "I'm devious but not that bad. I am glad you didn't find anyone. As soon as you get back I'm going to let you have cart blanche' to do with me as you will."
I was brought out of my rather carnal thoughts when Ryan walked to my side and looked at Dani. "That's enough of that. The lesbian fantasy scene you two are showing is going to make it hard for me to work. I have to ask though, why are you smoothing out an outfit that looks like it's been worn a week? Sometimes movies make no sense. Why would a woman dressed like that be out in the woods?"
I shrugged. "Apparently 'my' boyfriend is an archeologist and 'I' was kidnapped from a club so he will be forced to assist the bad guys. What they don't know is, 'I' am a CIA operative trying to get close to him so they can locate a mysterious artifact. The scene today is where 'I' am trying to escape."
Dani's eyebrows then wiggled a little before she added, "I'm smoothing everything because I know it drives Ty crazy and I want him to think about me all night."
I laughed and pulled my wife in for another long kiss. "That's just mean. You know full well that not a moment goes by that I don't think about you my love."
My wife wrapped her arms around me and lifted me off the ground. "That makes two of us, I love you. Be careful up there, I want you back in one piece."
I nodded. "I love you too. Everything will be fine, you know me. I'm Mr. Careful."
Dani set me back on the floor with worry etched in her beautiful eyes. "I have a bad feeling Ty. Promise me you will be back in the morning."
I kissed her again and allowed all the love I felt for her to flow through my lips. "I promise baby, why didn't you tell me?"
She shrugged. "I don't know, it was just a nagging feeling at first but it's gotten stronger."
I learned long ago to trust my wife's feelings. "I wish I had known sooner. I'll put it off if you want."
She laughed sadly. "And say what? 'Sorry I can't work today because my wife thinks I might get hurt.' You can't do that Ty. I'm sorry for saying anything just be careful."
I rubbed her back trying to comfort her. "If your feeling is that strong I would but either way, you know I'm always careful."
Dani kissed me again. "See you in the morning."
Ryan interrupted our moment when he placed a hand on my shoulder. "Ready to go kick my ass loverboy?"
I glanced up and smirked. "I'm always ready for that."
As we made our way to the van Ryan shoved my shoulder. "You, my friend, are a lucky, lucky man. You and Dani are the perfect couple."
I reached out and grabbed his arm to steady myself. It was difficult enough walking across the rough terrain. Add in wearing shoes with four-inch sticks not much larger than toothpicks for a heel and my friend knocking me off balance, it was near impossible. "Don't I know it?"
Ryan glanced at the stilettos I had on my feet. "How do you keep from breaking those things or your ankles?"
I laughed. "Lots of training my friend. These are super shoes. Wardrobe has reinforced the heel with steel so they'll be able to take the strain."
Ryan nodded as he helped me in the van that was taking us out to a remote location high in the Unicoi Mountains of Eastern Tennessee. "At least with those on you are almost at eye level with your wife."
I silently fumed at my friend's teasing. He knew I hated to be kidded about my height.
I didn't need to be in the wrong state of mind before I performed a stunt so I stared out the window and thought of the first time I asked my wife out seven years ago when we were stuck on location on a beautiful tropical island…
"How do your eyes change like that Tyler?" Dani asked with her sultry European accented voice that caused me to melt every time I heard it.
I shrugged slightly. "I don't know. They have always done it. It doesn't matter what I wear, the color seems to adapt."
"Does it bother you to work as a woman?"
I laughed lightly; this was a question I had been asked many times. "Not anymore. It did at first but my skills make me unique. With my size it's be either a woman or a small teenage boy. Thankfully, lately there has been surge in young adult novels being made into movies so there is more of a call for kids in action movies."
I normally didn't go into much detail but I always felt comfortable talking to Dani. "I mainly play boys since the union would never allow me to do this if there is a woman who can do what I do. Besides, the studios pay very good money for my skills."
Dani nodded. "From what I've heard, your skills are impressive. Did you really develop your own style?"
I smiled at the compliment. "Yes but it’s no big deal. I guess all the bullying I endured along with my desire to stay away from home as much as possible really paid off. If not for that, I would have never become such an eager student." I started laughing. "I've made a lot of leading ladies and that vampire boy look like total bad asses."
Dani joined me in laughter. "I guess you have. Break a leg today."
I smiled as I removed the smock she placed around me so my costume wouldn't be ruined. "Thanks. Do you have any plans tonight?"
Dani looked away nervously, "I guess you don't keep up with onset gossip do you?"
My expression became puzzled as I stood and looked up at her.
Danica Zoyra was gorgeous; she possessed an otherworldly beauty that would have intimidated me if I thought I actually had a real chance for a date. I knew she was so far out of my league that her appearance didn't intimidate me in the least.
She stood almost six foot one in bare feet with a perpetual tan that made her skin appear as it was almost glowing.
Her long dark brown hair was perfect with a shine even the best stylists in the world could only hope to achieve. But what really got to me were her eyes. She possessed the clearest violet eyes that would make a rainbow jealous that it could never produce a color so beautiful.
Dani was friendly and easy to talk to and I genuinely enjoyed her company. I really just wanted to be friends.
I shrugged. "I have learned from what’s been said about me not to pay attention to gossip. I prefer to judge people for myself, not what someone said about them. Why do you ask?"
She appeared deep in thought and I knew she had taken my invitation as a request for a date. Experience had taught me that most women didn't like the idea of dating a man that was only five foot five and only weighed in the neighborhood of one hundred twenty-five pounds.
It didn't help my cause that I kept my hair long since it was easier than working in a wig during the summer, or that my features and body definitely leaned toward more feminine than masculine.
What made matters worse was that for the scene I was shooting called for me to be dressed in a skin tight white tank top with fake boobs standing out on display and shaved legs sticking out of short cargo shorts. The fact my long red hair had been bleached blonde and was in a lengthy braid down my back didn't help my cause either.
I liked Dani too much as a friend to allow her to suffer through thinking of a way to let me down gently.
"I'm not asking you on a date or anything. I know you wouldn't go out with someone like me romantically. I just thought we could be friends. I mean we have so much in common, I don't know of anyone else around here that I can talk to about classic movies, good jazz or a great mystery novel. We are going to be stuck in this jungle for a few weeks more and since I get bored most nights, I figured you did too."
I needed to undo the damage I had just done. "It just most of the stuntmen, except for Ryan, don't really know how to take me. He has night shots tonight and I don't like the idea of hiding out in the trailer alone. I've read everything I brought with me and I don't understand the language so it's hard to watch television. But it's cool, I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable."
Dani appeared puzzled. "Why don't the stuntmen know how to take you?"
I shrugged. "You know as well as I do that Hollywood isn't as progressive as they pretend to be. In their eyes, I'm different. The guys don't understand why I don't mind working as a kid or a woman and they really hate that I usually make more than they do. I dress this way strictly for my job. I can't help how I look but I'm trying to make the best of a bad situation."
I sighed and admitted one of my biggest faults. "If I'm being honest, I might be too sensitive to comments about my appearance and they really don't like it when a small man fights back. They especially don't like it when the person they are picking on then gets the better of them. Anyways, I'm sorry I made you feel uncomfortable. That was never my intention. I hope it doesn't affect our friendship."
Dani grabbed my arm when I turned to walk away. "No wait; I'm the one who should apologize. I've always liked you but I'm so used to all the guys around here thinking I'm nothing more than an easy lay that added you to that group. Why don't we plan to do something after I remove your makeup tonight? Make sure you shower before you come back and we can leave from here."
I smiled. "I'd like that. Thank you."
I walked out to the location of filming with a renewed confidence and ended up having a great day because I knew I'd be able to spend time getting to know Dani better when we finished shooting for the day.
The rational side of my mind had attempted to convince me over and over that this would be nothing more than two friends hanging out but the young, cocky and fearless side of me still held out hope that I actually had a chance at more.
That night I returned to my trailer to make sure I was freshly clean and shaved. Most of the makeup had come off in the shower but there were still traces that Dani needed to remove.
Since I had packed for comfort knowing we were in a tropical climate, all I had with me were tee shirts, tank tops and shorts. I picked out my best dark blue tee and a pair of khaki cargo shorts. I groaned and my cockiness disappeared as I looked in the mirror, even in boy clothes I still looked like a girl with my long blonde hair and the eyeliner I couldn't get off.
With an admission that Dani would never be romantically interested in someone like me I approached the makeup trailer casually. I was pleasantly surprised when she greeted me with a deep lingering kiss that I returned with equal passion.
"I've waited all day to do that." Dani said after we broke our embrace.
Her kiss bewildered and bewitched me. It was everything I had ever hoped it would be and knew a single show of affection from her was like a man dying of thirst receiving only a single drop of water.
I smiled. "I've waited a little longer than that if I'm being honest."
She grabbed my hand and led me to the chair so she could remove the remnants of her work from the morning. "I could get lost in your eyes." She said as she gently wiped away the liner.
I blushed slightly since I wasn't used to receiving positive comments on my appearance. "Thanks."
Dani smiled as she started to reapply what she had just removed. I moved away until she bent down so her lips could meet mine. "Let me do this. I have an idea and want to see if I'm right. It will be fun and I promise you won't regret it."
Her kisses were bending my will but I still wasn't sure.
She could tell I wasn't convinced so her lips started working on my neck and ended with her nibbling on my earlobe. "You wear this everyday for work so what's the difference?"
I stared at her for a moment, lost in the sea of lavender that were her eyes. "Go ahead."
The smile that crossed her lips was so glorious that I knew I'd do anything she asked just for the chance to see it again as she giddily said, "Tonight's going to be so much fun."
She turned me away from the mirror as she finished working on my face, which didn't take as long as usual before handing me another tee shirt and a pair of shorts. "Change into these for me."
I remembered one of Ryan's mother's favorite sayings. "In for a penny, in for a pound." So I grabbed the garments and walked into the other room without complaint to change.
I quickly noticed that the clothes were feminine. The top was light green and the shorts were very similar to the ones I was wearing only shorter and in a different cut.
If I was about to walk out onto the set, I would not give it a second thought but the idea of wearing these for pleasure did not appeal to me.
I tentatively stepped out and Dani squealed with delight as she started on my hair, which took a lot longer than usual.
After she finally finished she led me to the full-length mirror. I gasped slightly when I saw the reflection. Dani had done my makeup very light; if not for the fact I had seen her apply it, I wouldn't have known I was wearing any. My blonde hair was styled with light waves that fell to my shoulder blades.
To anybody walking by I would appear as a flat chested, athletic young woman. I did not like what I was seeing as it only reinforced inner insecurities about not being seen as a real man.
My father's words immediately echoed in my mind. "You should have been born a woman. You're too weak to ever make it as a man."
Dani wrapped her arms around my waist and leaned down to kiss my neck. "I always wondered how a natural makeup would look on you. You're even prettier than I expected. I packed a dinner for us so we could go spend some time down at the beach. What do you think?"
I shrugged nervously. "I don't like it. I catch enough hell as it is. What if someone sees me?"
Dani smiled seductively over my shoulder into the mirror. "Nobody will see us and if they do you can just kick their ass if they say anything."
She pulled my hair aside and her tongue ran from my neck to my ear. "It will be fun, I promise. Please say yes for me."
I leaned my back into her front for support since her advances were rendering my knees worthless. If it were anyone other than the most beautiful woman I had ever seen trying to talk me into this I would have never allowed her put the makeup on much less wear the clothes.
I glanced at her again and was again caught off guard by her perfection. "Let's go before I change my mind."
Dani graced me with her glorious smile again as she grabbed my hand and led me to the door.
Once we arrived at the beach Dani laid out a blanket and the food while I gathered beach wood and started a small fire.
She pulled me into her lap as I walked back to her side and I laughed as she leaned down in for another kiss.
I have never been a submissive person outside of my father's presence, quite the opposite actually. Many people had accused me of having little man syndrome since I was always quick to establish that there was more to me than my size but around this living embodiment of perfection I was, at least temporarily, willing to do anything she asked.
Dani reached for a handful of grapes and held them just above my mouth teasing me while positioning my head between her ample breasts. I leaned up for a bite and she pulled them back further, laughing the entire time.
"You're enjoying this aren't you?" I asked as she teased me again.
Dani laughed. The sound of her laughter was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. "Yes, very much so but you don't seem to mind very much."
I paused for a moment and considered her words. Dani appeared nervous and unsure when she saw how serious my expression was becoming.
I smiled and reached up to caress her cheek. "If anyone else asked me to dress like this for fun and then teased me the way you have I would be beyond mad but with you I know it's not being done with malice. It just feels right in a weird way."
Dani grinned and nodded her head. "Yes, feels right is a good way to say it. I have a confession. The gossip I told you about is people think I'm a lesbian."
I stared up at her suddenly feeling very stupid and rather betrayed. "Is that why you did all this to me? As a game?"
The gorgeous brunette shook her head adamantly. "Not at all. It seriously was just curiosity. I'm actually bi and you are almost the perfect blend of everything I find attractive in both sexes."
I furrowed my brows. "Is that a compliment?"
She laughed joyously and I imagined the sound closely resembled angels singing. "Very much so. I know you thought my hesitation this morning was because I didn't want to go out but it was the opposite. I've wanted to go out with you so badly that I was afraid. I just never thought you would be interested and it shocked me when you asked."
I laughed. "Not interested? You have got to be kidding me."
Her gorgeous eyes became serious. "I’m being truthful. Normally I only form an emotional bond with another woman but I feel a strong connection to you that I can't explain and I've felt it since I first met you."
I nodded. "I felt it too but I always thought you were so far out of my league that I didn’t even try. I honestly initially asked you out only as a friend so if tonight doesn't go any further it's been beyond my wildest dreams."
Dani laughed and leaned down to kiss my forehead while her hand gently ran up and down my arm. "I can promise you that tonight will go farther, much, much farther."
"Are you going to visit anybody since we're so close to home?" Ryan asked, snapping me from my thoughts.
I shook my head. "No, it's not worth taking the chance. What about you? Is your dad still the sheriff?"
Ryan nodded. "Yeah, I think the job will be his until he retires. He keeps asking me to move home so I can take his place whenever he decides to step down. I was like yeah right, as if I'd ever want to live there again."
I laughed. "Preach on brother, I almost turned this job down since it's so close."
Ryan agreed. "I know what you mean, the smartest thing we ever did was moving away from this back woods hell hole."
Ryan and I had been best friends since I was eight and he was nine. He had seen samples of the abuse I endured over the years and was the one who talked me into moving to California when I was seventeen. His father assumed something was going on with me but my father was rich and had powerful friends, Ryan's father had his hands tied and legally could not help.
When we moved away Ryan's parents helped pay for our trip. They told me if I stayed in our small eastern Tennessee town, I would be wasting my life.
I laughed. "I know right. Sounds like you went back though; you're starting to pick the accent back up. I swear I think my Mom must have cheated on Dad or something with the way he's always treated me. There's no way we carry the same blood."
Ryan smirked. "Other than your hair and skin tone. You are nothing like them."
I sighed. "It seems the older I get, the more I look like them except I didn't get their height. It really sucks."
He bumped his shoulder into mine. "I wouldn't worry too much. Dani seems to like it."
His mentioning my wife made me smile. "Yeah she does. I don't know what she sees in me."
Ryan laughed. "I've been wondering about that since you two first went out."
I nodded. "Me too but what was it your father used to say about looking a gift horse in the mouth?"
My best friend nodded and laughed harder. "I know right, don't do it. By the way, my parents say hi. When I went home yesterday, Mom said your father has found religion and he's making your brothers go with him. Can you believe it?"
I shook my head. "Not for a second. They have too much evil in them. Well, Dad does anyways."
Ryan's brow arched slightly. "What about Jeb and Thomas?"
I shrugged. "They weren't too bad I guess. I mean whenever we were alone, just us, they never really hurt me. It was almost as if they were forced to be mean. Don't get me wrong, they were still mean but I think that if not for Dad, they would have been okay. Thomas usually ignored me while Jeb sometimes was overly nice in a creepy way."
Another thought entered my mind since we were talking about family and I had no desire to continue discussing mine. "Do you ever hear from Evan?"
Evan was Ryan's older brother. He moved away when he was sixteen after he and Ryan's father had a major falling out. Ryan has never told me what the fight was about but whatever it was, it affected his relationship with his family. They were never as close after Evan moved away.
Ryan smiled. "Yeah, Evie is doing great."
I looked over at him questionably. "Evie?"
He laughed lightly. "It's my nickname for her."
I became even more confused. "Her?"
He sighed. "You wouldn't understand."
I placed my hand on his shoulder. "Try me brother."
He took a deep breath. "She was never happy as guy and knew she was meant to be a woman. I don't want to talk about it."
I frowned. "You know you can talk to me about anything. I like to think I'm pretty open minded."
He started to smile. "You are but this is a stretch for most people to understand."
I laughed. "Have you noticed how I am dressed at the moment? Who am I to judge how a person lives their life?"
Ryan pointed ahead of us as he joined me in laughter. "Looks like we're almost there. I don't know how you do it. After everything they did to you back then and even now, you do whatever it takes to thrive. I don't think I'd be able to have a normal life."
If he was trying to distract me, it worked as I nodded. "It's Dani; if not for her I'd probably be dead. Do you remember how much I used to drink and fight? I was on a very self-destructive path before she gave me focus. She made me want to be a better man, one worthy of her."
The van pulled up to the location and stopped so we could get out. Ryan exited first and offered his hand to assist me. "You two give me hope. If a little squirt like you can find true love then I know someone as good looking as me can."
I laughed. Ryan wasn't a bad looking guy I guess. I mean if you like guys that is.
He stood a very muscular six foot three and had dirty blonde hair with rugged looks that should have had him working as an actor instead of a stuntman but he preferred to work in movies without the cost of his privacy. I always respected him for that.
"Who said you are good looking?" I teased as I started walking toward the stunt coordinators tent.
Ryan acted as if I wounded him. "You are the first woman to rebuff me."
I rolled my eyes and Ryan smiled. "Oh yeah. I almost forgot."
Keeping my wife's warning in mind, I walked around the set to make everything was how it needed to be. I laughed off all the friendly jabs about my appearance, even going so far as to flirt with a few unsuspecting crewmen only to disappoint them when I pointed out who I actually was.
I noticed more cameras than usual around the set. I turned to my assistant stunt coordinator Dave Echols, who I had decided to let run things tonight so I could mainly focus on my part of what had to be filmed. "What's with all the extra equipment?"
Dave was a couple of years older than myself but did not have quite as much experience as I did. If left to his own devices he tended to for overkill and made things needlessly complicated. I hoped I could teach him the less is more philosophy in time. He had the abilities to be great if he learned to tone it down.
"It was a last minute decision boss. I'm sorry I didn't tell you but we only have one or two chances to get this before the sun completely sets and it looks like a storm is rolling in. I'm glad it's you and Ryan working this one cause it will make the odds of getting it in one take much better."
I nodded. I wasn't worried since this was one of the easier stunts for me. "This is simple enough, it shouldn't be a problem."
About thirty minutes later Ryan and I were standing on a large piece of flat rock at the edge of a small cliff where I would jump off to avoid my captors while Dave went over the plans one final time. "Okay Boss, when the director calls action, you and Ryan will do your thing. As soon as Ryan pulls his gun and you hear my signal you need to run to the mark and jump."
A few moments later Ryan and I did our choreographed fight before Ryan pulled his prop gun as I heard Dave's instructions. I loved this part of the job. Nothing was quite a freeing as those few precious moments while I hurled myself toward the airbag waiting below.
Right as I leapt over the edge, a bolt of lightning streaked next to me causing a loud boom in the area I was to land. In that moment, all the lights on the ground below me went dark and I suddenly found myself falling farther than I expected.
Once my body once again made contact with something solid, I did a quick check and considered myself lucky that the air bag still did its job after such a drop. I was glad, if this had to happen, that it happened to me. It always bothered me whenever someone got hurt on a stunt I had coordinated, luckily that had not happened in years.
I rolled over and attempted to look around but it was pitch black wherever I had fallen. As soon as I felt my way off the airbag and my feet hit firm ground, the room illuminated.
I gasped when I realized I was in some type of ancient chamber. The artwork that lined the golden walls was stunning and the marble statues and stone throne was truly works of art. The tiles below my feet appeared to be a pink marble and possessed a golden glow where one stone met the next.
"Why is this in the Unicoi Mountains?" I asked aloud as I looked around.
A groaning sound behind me brought me from my admiration and I turned to see Dani lying on the floor unconscious and a large man crawling from underneath the rubble with a look of malice upon his face.
I couldn't understand why she would be here but she was lying twenty feet away with a large gash on her forehead.
"You thought you could hide from me here? You shall die old hag." The man seethed as he continued in her direction.
I instinctively felt the dire need to protect my wife who was not regaining consciousness so I immediately leapt between them. "Leave her alone unless you wish to depart this life tonight."
The man gracefully worked his way to his feet. Even in my line of work, I had never seen a man so large. He had to stand at least six foot ten with large muscles covering every inch of his body. His long black hair fell straight down his back as his equally black eyes glared directly at me.
His laughed was deep and sinister. He obviously didn't see me as a threat.
"What is one tiny whore going to do to me? Step out of my way and I might allow you to live long enough to pleasure me." He roared.
I had forgotten how I was dressed and felt my anger spike as I started toward him. I paused after a single step, as I remember what time, training and experience taught me, never allow my emotions to get the best of me when faced with a fight. I decided it would be best to force his emotions and that would, hopefully, allow him to make the mistake I almost made.
I forced my laugh to be equally sinister but it didn’t compare to his. "Pleasure you? From that tiny bulge in your pants big boy I doubt you could please a rodent."
He quickly let me know that my plan was working when his body tensed. "Insolent woman, how dare you question my manhood!" He moved quickly to grab my arm. "I will show you how pleasing I can be."
I spun out of his grasp and elbowed him in the ribs causing him to stumble as I led us away from my injured wife, hoping she would wake up and make her escape while I had him distracted.
I waved my index finger toward the large angry man. "Tsk Tsk. A small package and clumsy to boot. You poor thing, no wonder you are so angry. I hope your friends haven’t given you an awful nickname like Rat Dick since you are so small down there."
He released a scream that made the walls shake. "No woman, much less a mortal one, talks to Adorious Dunamas with such insolence."
He underestimated me again as he bent down to reach for me once more but I was able to surprise him with a palm to his nose that caused him to stagger backwards.
I had learned from time I had spent filming in Greece that Dunamas meant power so I waved my hand in front of my nose to further taunt him. "That explains the powerful odor I'm smelling. You know Odorous; you could really use a shower."
I smiled to further taunt him. "That’s it isn’t it? Your friends saw your tiny excuse for a penis one day in the shower and started calling you Rat Dick and ever since you avoid cleansing your body."
"No woman has ever insulted my manhood." He yelled.
I knew his anger was getting the best of him as he telegraphed his attack. I anticipated his large first coming toward my face and dodged it before I grabbed his arm and used his momentum to send him crashing into the cavern wall.
I laughed as he pushed himself from the floor using a large rock to brace himself. "You know Odorous, you should really work on your balance."
Before I knew what happened a small boulder was crashing into my lower body tossing me into the opposite wall of the cavern. I coughed and started pushing away the rock when Adorious’ large hand wrapped around my neck and he pulled me to my knees.
The angry giant dropped me to the floor while releasing his pants. I was starting to regret the way I taunted him as he pulled out the largest penis I had ever seen from his pants and stood above me. "I know just the thing to replace all that impertinence in your mouth. Let us see if you still want to offer insults once I have stretched you beyond your limits."
I tried to move but my legs weren't cooperating. Before I had a chance to get away, he bent down and forced his rather large member into my unwilling mouth. I attempted to back away but the pain radiating from my lower body along with the hold he placed on the back of my head was too great.
I felt beside me for something to defend myself with and found my leg bent at a completely wrong angle. I traced it down and slipped off my reinforced stiletto, holding it like a hammer and biting down on his member with all the force I could muster.
The scream he released reminded me of what must come from the gates of hell as he quickly lifted me so we were face to face. "You shall pay for that with your miserable life. I will break your puny neck with my bare hand."
I quickly felt his grip tightening so in a last ditch effort I swung my shoe at the side of his head. The feel of the heel making contact was not what I was expecting. I thought it would make contact and bounce back in my hand but instead I felt it make contact and then continue, much like when you walk across what you think is solid ice only to find out just the top is frozen.
He immediately released me and I gasped for breath as soon as my body met with the floor. I chanced a look at my attacker and saw him on the floor beside me with eyes wide open and blood seeping from around the stiletto heel of my shoe buried in his temple.
I never imagined I would be capable of killing another person. I felt no remorse as I stared at his lifeless body. It was his own fault, had he not attacked my wife he would still be alive.
Blood started to seep in Dani’s direction across the floor and I had no idea if it belonged to Adorious or myself. It was probably both but it served to remind me that I needed to check on my love.
I tried to stand but everything below my waist was a mangled mess. My legs were useless so I slowly and painfully pulled myself through the blood to my wife's side and noticed she was no longer breathing. I quickly rolled her to her back and started performing CPR. No matter how much I was hurting, I refused to let myself stop until she started to cough.
I released a sigh of relief as I quickly sat her up. "Are you okay baby?"
To my surprise, the woman before me was not Dani. I realized it as soon as I looked into her eyes before she nodded. "Yes, thank you. I owe you my life."
I shook my head. "No, you owe me nothing. I'm happy you survived."
The woman gracefully rose to her feet and for the first time I really looked at her. She wasn't my wife but she was almost as stunning, my guess was that she had to be at least six foot two or so with flowing dark brown hair and large breasts that went beautifully with her ample curves. Instead of skin that almost glowed, this woman's skin glimmered a soft yellow radiance. Some might consider her even more beautiful but not me. Nobody would ever compare to my wife.
Dani never discussed her family but this woman could be her twin.
The woman looked around and noticed the large dead man across the room. She turned back to me with an expression of shock. "How did you kill him? I always believed the Thetans to be immortal."
I shrugged. "Apparently not, since a well placed heel did the trick."
Without thinking, I tried to stand but winced with pain before lying on my back. For the first time since everything started, I focused on myself and quickly realized how much damage Adorious had done. Everything from the waist down was a complete mess. I noticed my mouth was quickly filling with a metallic tasting liquid. I rolled to my side and coughed up entirely too much blood.
With the adrenaline subsiding, the pain was becoming more than I could bear. There was little doubt in my mind that I would soon be dead.
The woman knelt beside me and placed my head in her lap. "Fear not my savior. Everything will be fine if you allow me to save you."
A single tear fell from my eye as I realized I might never see Dani again. "Please find my wife, Danica Zoyra Dawson, and thank her for loving me. Please tell her I will always love her."
The woman appeared momentarily astounded before she smiled and ran her fingers through my hair to soothe me. The woman looked so remarkably like my true love it gave me a sense of peace. Her eyes were identical to my wife's except they were a slightly richer shade of purple and possessed wisdom unlike any I had ever seen.
"There will be no need. If you say yes to my gifts then you can tell her yourself." She gently said to me.
"What do you mean?"
Her peaceful expression helped calm my fears. "I can save you but it will come at a cost and you must grant me permission. You will sacrifice some things but gain many others. All you have to do is say yes and you will be back in the arms of your love soon."
I knew I was standing at death's door. In a moment such as this, you would think that many thoughts ran through my mind but truthfully, I became focused on only one thing… I would give up anything for the chance to be with my wife again.
I nodded. "Thank you, please save me."
She closed my eyes with her soft fingertips. "I understand why my daughter loves you. She was wise to defy me; I never understood why she wanted to marry a human until now. You possess both compassion and the strong will required to tame my wild child. Sleep brave child and awake refreshed, ready to accept the gifts I grant you."
"Talk to me Boss. Are you okay?" I heard my assistant's voice coming through my earpiece.
I sat in stunned silence for a moment. I licked my lips and my mouth tasted like I had just finished eating fresh honey.
I felt a strange charge running through my body. How did I get wherever I am? I searched my memory and all I could recall is jumping off the cliff. Everything afterwards was a blank. I looked to the hole in the ceiling and assumed I must have fallen in somehow.
"Yeah Dave, I'll survive. Where am I? Get me out of here." I yelled since I knew I didn't have a mic for him to hear me.
"Something went wrong when you landed. I can't explain it, I tripled checked everything. Don't move. We are moving the crane down so we can lift you out. I'm sorry Boss." He responded.
I got to my feet and winced in pain as I tried to look around but there was little light. "Don't apologize, just drop a rope."
"I can't take that chance Boss. You might have injured yourself."
I ached all over. I felt like I did back when I bruised my ribs. I looked myself over and noticed gash on my leg. Although I was hurting, it was as if I were surprised to be in such good shape. "I promise I'll be fine. Just drop a light and some rope."
A few minutes later, a light dropped down illuminating the cavern. It fell gently to the floor before they raised it again so that it was barely above my head. I knew that was done on purpose so that they could judge the depth of the hole.
With the cavern now lit, I looked around. The drawings on the walls appeared as if they belonged to an ancient civilization.
I was about to yell for Dave to call an archeologist when a majestic feminine voice spoke within my head. "My child, you saved my life and I will be eternally grateful but this place is not mine to expose. I ask that you not allow others to see the sights before you."
In an instant, my mind filled with the memories of what occurred along with many new ones. The room appeared very differently than it did earlier. Gone was the gold, the marble and the statues. In their place I noticed a stone bath and the altar nearby was beyond compare. There were odd scratches on the altar but I assumed they served a purpose and were a language I did not understand. I watched in amazement as the scratches slowly changed into a language I could read.
My old life is freely given to serve the will of the Goddesses and the greater good.
I bowed my head in reverence. "I understand my Goddess. I will protect your secret."
The Goddess Zaria suddenly appeared before me and took my hand. "It is appropriate that your changes start in this temple as it is where the ancient ones gave others a new life. I must move on but I ask you to keep your acquaintances away. You must never share knowledge of this place with anyone without my permission."
I shivered in the cold dark cave and my mind immediately went to Dani and how we never withheld secrets from one another. "Anyone Your Highness?"
I could feel the peace and love in her voice and it warmed me instantly. She smiled as she gently stroked my cheek. "My child you may discuss what you have learned with your soul mate. I will come to you later as I wish to see her. I am sure the two of you will have questions as the gifts I have bestowed upon you emerge."
I filled with elation as I gazed upon her extraordinary beauty. "Thank you my Goddess."
I hesitated for a moment. I wanted to ask another question but didn't feel worthy of asking simply to satisfy human curiosity.
Zaria smiled knowingly, as if she read my mind. "Whenever I feel the need to meditate, I reside within many ancient sites throughout the world. Some were once my temples and others, such as this, have long been forgotten. It is sometimes safer to reflect at a temple not my own, as there are those who wish me harm. The guardians of these sites allow me their use under the condition that I do not expose them to others."
I nodded in understanding. "Thank you for indulging my curiosity."
Her finger found the bottom of my chin and she tilted my face so I could look into her eyes. "I left you with only enough injuries that it would not raise suspicions and allow time for the changes to take effect without unnecessary questions."
She leaned forward to kiss my forehead. "Go my child and live a full life in my honor. I will call upon you again but in the meantime, do not waste what you have been given. Make me proud."
I smiled again. "Yes my Goddess."
She slowly disappeared and I jumped to reach the rope that held the light and slowly pulled myself to the surface.
Once I reached ground level, a lot of people stood around dumbfounded. I wanted to shield my eyes from all the spotlights shining down but didn't dare loosen my grip.
"Don't just stare at me, give me a hand." I yelled to them.
Next thing I knew two large hands grabbed me and lifted me out of the hole and into a bear hug. "Holy shit dude. You scared us all to death. I just knew you were dead." Ryan exclaimed.
His grip was too tight on my already hurting ribs. "I'm not dead but I will be if you don't let me go. I can't breathe."
My best friend sat me on the ground as someone else wrapped a blanket around me. "You don't look as bad as I thought you would. Are you okay?"
I nodded. "I'll be fine. The air bag did its job but I think we might as well leave it down there, that thing is shredded."
Dave ran to my side. "Oh my God Boss. Are you okay? How did you get out? I told you to wait."
I laughed him off as the onset EMT checked me out. "I'll be fine, did you get the shot or do I need to do it again?" I winced slightly as the EMT pressed on my ribs.
Dave laughed. "Ever the professional. Yes, we got the shot. How did you get out already?"
I pointed to line that disappeared into the hole. "I climbed up the rope you dropped to give me some light."
Dave's expression turned to shock. "Damn Boss, you are one tough SOB. How did you climb a rope over a hundred feet?"
I turned to Ryan. "It wasn't that far was it?"
They both nodded their head when Ryan replied. "You just pulled yourself up somewhere in the neighborhood of a football field using just your hands."
The EMT stared at me in disbelief. "You climbed that far with two injured ribs?"
I shrugged my shoulders. "Guess I'm in better shape than I thought."
Dave pointed to a clearing. "I've got a chopper on the way to take you back down to get checked out."
Ryan cautiously handed me his phone. "I called Dani as soon as everything happened. I don't have to tell you how upset she is."
I knew my wife must being going out of her mind with worry. I quickly dialed her number.
"How is he Ry?" Dani cried into the phone before it even finished the first ring.
"I'm fine baby. I'm about to head back down right now."
It was hard to understand what she was saying through her sobs. "Oh thank you Mother. I'm so happy to hear your voice. I told you I had a bad feeling. I don't know how I would survive if anything happened to you. Take your time coming down because I'd hate to have anything else happen. I'll take you to the medical trailer myself."
I tried my best to soothe her but I knew my love well enough to know that she would be a nervous wreck until she saw me for herself. I heard the whoosh of the blades and knew my ride was close. "I'll be in your arms before you know it. They are going to chopper me out in a few minutes so you can meet me at the helipad. I love you Baby."
"I love you too."
I hit end on the phone before handing it back to Ryan. Something about being so near death made me want him to understand beyond a doubt how he was all the family I had. "Thanks bro. You know I… I… well this is not easy to say. You're all the family I've got besides Dani and I…"
Ryan laughed as he rested his arm over my shoulder to lead me to the landing chopper. "I know Dude. You don’t have to say it. I feel the same way."
I stared out of the window of the helicopter thinking of when Dani and I first professed our love for one another. It was the night before shooting wrapped and we were on the same beach as our first date…
"That was amazing." I exclaimed after I finally regained my breath after another round of passionate lovemaking.
Dani rolled to her side and moved a few stray strands away from my face. "Calling it amazing doesn't do it justice."
I leaned up to kissed her gently. "What would you call it?"
Her face lit up into the smile I would walk across hot coals to see. "Life altering."
I laughed. "Every moment I'm with you is that way for me."
Her arms snaked around my waist and pulled me even closer. "It is for me as well."
I started to frown. "Tomorrow is our last day here. What happens to us?"
A small tear started to form in the corners of her gorgeous eyes. "I don't want to lose you."
In the month we had been together, she had made me realize there was more to life than hurt and anger. She made me a better man.
I took her hand in mine. "I don't want to lose you either. I've fallen in love with you."
She gasped and the small tears became larger. "I love you too."
I smiled and attempted to kiss the droplets away. "We will figure it out. We are meant to be together."
Dani started to fidget nervously. "I know this will sound bad all things considered but where do you live?"
I laughed lightly. "I wanted to ask you the same thing. I live in Hermosa. I have an apartment close to the beach."
"This is in America isn’t it?" She asked.
I nodded. "It’s in California. I thought that’s where you lived."
She shook her head. "No, I live on a small island outside Greece but I travel so much with work that I have considered moving to the states. It might help working on American pictures."
She sighed sadly before she continued. "I need to tell you something."
Dani appeared nervous so I gently rubbed my thumb over the back of her hand. "What is it?"
She looked me in the eyes. "I kinda live with a girl. I haven't talked to her since you and I became serious but I want you to know."
I suddenly became fearful that I was about to lose the woman I was falling for. "Do you want this to just be a fling or something more?"
Her expression became one of fierce passion. I recognized it because I felt the same about her. "This is already more than any relationship I've ever had. I'm ending it with her next time we talk."
I breathed a sigh of relief. "Well, if you need a place to stay I have a king sized bed."
Her eyes widened. "Are you serious?"
I gently placed my lips on her forehead. "Never been more serious in my life. Will you do it?"
She launched herself on top of me and covered my face with kisses. "Of course I will! I love you so much!"
Dani kissed me again and again. "I almost turned down this job because I had a feeling something life altering would happen. I’m glad I ignored my inner voice because now I know not all change is bad."
Mere words could never adequately describe how I felt in that moment as I wrapped my arms around her. "I love you too."
I was brought from my thoughts when the landing pad came into view. I immediately saw my frantic wife pacing by the medical crew. I couldn't get out fast enough when we finally landed.
Dani met me halfway across the field and her hands ran all over my body as if she had to make sure I was real.
She quietly said. "Thank you Mother. My love is alive." Her tear-filled eyes met mine. "I was so scared I had lost you."
I hugged her tightly, ignoring the screaming pain it caused. "We both need to send a prayer to the Goddess."
Dani continued to weep with joy as she held to me as if she needed my contact just to breathe. "I sent one as soon as Dave called and another after I knew you were alive. Come, let's get you checked out so I can take you home."
I nodded as she guided me to the waiting medical crew.
As we waited in the portable medical trailer, Dani gasped as she pointed to my ankle. "How did you get that?"
I looked down to see the most detailed and realistic tattoo of a sun rising behind a large tree I had even seen. I pulled my ankle closer so I could get a better look. The tiny leaves on the tree looked so real that I thought if I moved my leg quickly, they would fall off. The sun was so brilliant that I could almost feel the radiance emitting from it and instinctively knew Zaria had given me her mark.
"I'll tell you when we are totally alone. I have so much to tell you but not now."
My loving wife nodded knowingly and something told me she understood the significance.
Since many potentially dangerous stunts were being performed, the studio had arranged for a doctor specializing in emergency care to be onsite. I have known Dr Gabriel Simms since my first onset injury nine years ago when I was only nineteen years old.
I smiled as soon as he entered the room. "Hey Doc. Can I go home?"
He laughed and shook his head. "Hey Ty, not yet." He turned to my wife. "Hello Dani."
Dani stood to greet him. "Hello Gabe. Is he going to live?"
He looked over my chart and placed my x-rays in the lighted frame on the wall before returning his attention back to me. "Other than two cracked ribs and the nasty gash I need to stitch up, everything appears better than fine. You must take great care of your body."
After he bandaged my ribs, Gabe sat beside me on a stool to work on my leg. He paused to look at my ankle. "Lovely tat Ty. I have never seen it's equal but I pictured you as more of a barbed wire type."
Thankfully, my lovely wife stepped in to save me when I couldn't think of a good excuse why I had it. I was shocked when she lifted the leg on her jeans to show an identical sunrise. "It was my idea Gabe. We decided to get matching tattoos."
I glanced at her with furrowed brows. I knew her body intimately, how could I have never seen it before? She returned my glance with a slight shake of her head, which told me, we were in for a very long discussion after we got home.
Gabe nodded as he placed the final stitch and placed a bandage over my wound. "You were fortunate. You should be hurt worse but thankfully, you're not, which is amazing after the fall you had, but you're out of work for at least six weeks. That means everything. I know you Ty; you'll walk on set and jump in to help without thinking and will hurt yourself worse."
He handed me a very large bottle of pills. "Here are some potent painkillers to take if you start hurting too much. Please let me know if you start feeling worse and I insist on checking you out again in five days."
I frowned. "I told you I feel fine, great actually."
Dani grabbed my hand. "You're lying. I can see you wince every time you move. I know you are trying to be tough but I bet you'll be singing a different tune in the morning. If the Doc says stay home then you need to stay home."
Gabe laughed. "Listen to your wife Ty. You were lucky this time and I'm not letting you take any chances. I will allow you to attend meetings if they are in the office but you are banned from the set until you get my final clearance."
I sighed loudly. "Your foot is down isn't it?"
My lovely wife smiled and nodded as she handed me my clothes. "You know it baby but don't worry. I'll take good care of you. Let's go back to the trailer."
I quickly dressed in the same silk top and skirt from earlier. I looked up at her and laughed. "You couldn't even bring my clothes with you?"
Her voice started to break. "I was so terrified I lost you and then relieved you survived that my only thought was getting to you. I'm sorry."
I pulled her into my arms. "I'm sorry baby, I was kidding. I'm here and you heard Gabe. I'm fine."
Her arms wrapped around my waist gently as she buried her face in my hair. "I know but I was terrified. I don't know what I'd do if I lost you."
I tilted my head upward so our lips could meet. "Luckily you will never have to find out. Let's go home."
She nodded as I led us out of the office and into the parking area. Our trailer was not that far away so I started walking in that direction before Dani pulled me toward one of the jeeps. "You shouldn't exert yourself."
I knew better than to try arguing with her and walked over to the passenger side without complaint.
Once we were within the confines of the small trailer provided by the studio, I told my loving wife everything and explained how I received my new tattoo. As her expression changed, I became concerned that she could not believe such a fanciful tale.
"You really killed a Thetan?" She asked with no small amount of awe in her voice.
I shrugged. "I don’t know what a Thetan is."
"You said his name was Adorious, correct?"
I nodded. "Yes, largest man I’ve ever seen with black hair, black eyes and an equally black heart.
"And he almost raped you?" she asked with tears starting to form in the corners of her eyes.
I nodded again. "Actually I kinda think forcing that huge thing in my mouth would be considered rape."
Dani shuddered. "Yes you're right. I can't imagine what you went through."
I sighed loudly and almost started to tear up myself. "Thankfully the Goddess saved me. You don't want to know how badly he hurt me. If not for her I wouldn't be here."
My loving wife dropped to her knees and clasped her hands together. "Thank you Mother for returning my love safely to me. I am forever in your debt. I am truly sorry for any differences we had in the past. You have given me the greatest gift."
Without warning or explanation, our trailer filled with a bright light as I heard the Goddess speak. "All is forgiven my dear. I only ask one thing of you my daughter and that is you support your love during the difficult days ahead."
I felt someone place their hands over my ears and all sound disappeared. I attempted to look behind me but I could not move my head.
What I could best describe as a small electrical current flowed through me and all the pain in my body instantly eased.
While I couldn't hear, I could still see quite well. I noticed my loving wife was intently listening while her eyes focused just above my head. Her beautiful mouth dropped in shock. "So he did that? I thought their kind were immortal."
Her astonishment was soon replaced with her glorious smile. I could not hear what my wife was saying but reading her perfect lips was very easy. Her eyes opened wider than I had ever seen before she said, "I will always be here for him. We made a sacred vow of til death do us part."
My body tensed as I saw a look of panic cross my love's face. "But Mother, was there no other way?" Dani nodded and I saw nothing but peace and elation as her lips moved. "Thank you Mother. Your gifts are many."
She listened intently for a few moments more before saying, "Yes Mother. I would gladly do that even without your request. I will help him understand the changes."
Dani's body stiffened as a tear of joy form in the corner of her perfectly violet eyes. "Thank you Mother for this glorious gift. I couldn't live without her."
She listened again, her face fell, and for the first time since the goddess arrived I sensed real fear from my wife. "Oh I could never do that Mother. Our relationship is one of equals. I almost lost her because of that, I will do anything you ask but I refuse to force her to do anything against her will. I made her a promise and I have never broken a promise to her. It will be her choice if we return to the island."
She sat silent for a few more moments before she replied. "I understand. I will assist Callista in using her powers for the greater good. At what point may I inform her of what is to come?"
Although I was trying to figure out who Callista was, I couldn't help but to chuckle lightly when Dani's eyes met mine before she said, "She has an idea of what is to come. I know my love well enough that I know she has read my lips while we have been speaking."
After my tiny showing of emotion Zaria released her hold and I quickly stood with my head bowed.
She gently lifted my chin so I would look upon her. Her smile was almost as breathtaking as that of my wife as she spoke to me. "You must not ask Danica what I said to her. You need to face what is to come with a clear mind and learn to accept my gifts without explanation or warning. I know you have developed a sense of what is to follow but as they occur, your love will be here to help you. Do you understand?"
I nodded. "Yes My Goddess. Thank you for sharing your knowledge so that I am not alone."
"Since you saved me and are also bonded with my daughter, I wish for you to call me by my name."
My eyes widened. "Oh no Goddess. I could never show such disrespect."
Her laugh sounded like angels singing and she appeared to have an idea. "You may also call me Mother if you wish." She nodded her head. "Yes, I like that idea. You will call me Mother from this point forward and I shall consider you as much my child as I do Danica."
I smiled brightly. I had few memories of the woman who gave me life since she died before I turned six. "Yes Mother, I would like that very much."
Zaria motioned for Dani to join my side as she smiled. "Cupid's aim was true when he set his sights on the two of you. I have never seen a more perfect match. Lately he has been making too many mistakes for my liking but his match of you both makes me willing to overlook past errors."
Dani hugged me tightly at my waist. "Thank my cousin for us as well Mother."
Zaria leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on my cheek, "There is hope for the future after all. I cannot wait to see what is to come. It will not be easy and I won't always be there for you but first and foremost, trust in each other, and later you may bring in those you deem worthy. If you do that, you will never fail."
Next, she placed a kiss on Dani. "It is appropriate that one who already carries my blood in her veins would also love the one person strong enough to save me from certain death. You chose well and make me proud that you are my child. I am deeply sorry I was not a better mother to you, I will not fail you again."
She gently wiped the tear that started to fall down Dani's cheek. "I must take my leave. Live well young ones. Love will carry you through anything that is to come. I will be watching from afar."
Zaria appeared in a large circular white room.
"That was kind of you." A feminine voice said behind her.
Zaria turned to the beautiful Goddess with gray eyes. "Hello cousin. She has a warrior spirit and heart full of love. She sacrificed herself to save me, what would you have me do? I couldn't turn away the only human I have ever known to defeat a Thetan. I don't understand why your father allows Theos to live. He is jealous of our power."
Athena shook her head. "Please cousin, I am not here to judge. I approve of what you have done but why not make the changes instantaneous in both body and mind? It would be far less traumatic for the human. That is what myself and others have done."
Zaria waved her hand and a hole formed in the floor showing Tyler and Dani in their kitchenette. "I am providing some safeguards that will protect her identity but I must break her before she can truly excel."
She continued to explain. "As you know, the duality of her mind will make her powerful. But by letting them deal with the changes together, their bond will become even stronger. Danica needs to understand the depth of her feelings and suffer the fear of loss while Callista needs to grow from her experiences and learn not to hold everything in. She feels as if she is not worthy of my daughter's affection so she takes on too much by herself."
Athena looked down at the couple. "It is nice to see your child so happy. Isn't there another way?"
Zaria shook her head. "Anything easily received is just as easily discarded. Callista has already suffered greatly in her life but my daughter has not. It pains me to think of causing Callista more pain but even if I told her what would follow, I know she would willingly accept it for the sake of her love. Danica does not yet realize the depth of her feelings. Her pride is too great, today was but a small taste and soon she will revert back to her prior stubbornness."
Athena sighed. "Pride goes before the fall."
Zaria nodded. "We have had our issues in the past but I am proud of how she has chosen to live her life. I knew it would be foolish to force her to live by our rules."
Athena smiled. "You are wise, even if you aren't Greek."
In a rather ungoddess like move, Zaria giggled and stuck out her tongue at her cousin. `
After Zaria departed, I turned to the love of my life and grinned. "Aren't you supposed to guarding some hellhounds or am I mistaken?"
Dani grinned. "Yeah, about that. My mother made that up after my sister Polly grew tired of dealing with all the death and wanted to live a life without fighting. Actually, my family lives on the same island were you and I met. She allowed me to leave because I was supposed to be up with the sun and we both know I'm not exactly a morning person."
"So there was no hellhound?" I asked.
My wife laughed. "There was a hound but he wasn't mean. When we found him, he was the cutest three-headed puppy you could ever hope to meet. Barnabus had allergies so it looked like he was snarling all the time but he really wasn't."
I wanted to laugh with her but the weight of the conversation she had with her mother placed a heavy burden on my shoulders.
"Why do I have the feeling I'm in for a rough few weeks?" I asked, addressing my fears.
Dani smiled and pulled me into her arms. "It won't be that bad baby and don't worry. You have me and I'll take care of you." She directed us toward the kitchen. "Let me fix you something to eat."
I couldn't help but to laugh. "Now I know I'm in trouble if you are offering to cook."
Dani smirked at me. "Oh I'm not cooking. I was planning on making sandwiches."
I playfully shoved her out of the way and dug through the small refrigerator. "I'm up to fixing us something to eat honey."
Dani frowned as she stood next to me. "I really should learn how to cook more than just breakfast."
I turned and leaned on my tiptoes to kiss her. "I don't mind. I actually like to cook. Now that I know who your mother is I need to continue to treat you as royalty."
Dani started to cry and I couldn't understand why until she started to talk. "When Dave called, he told me to prepare for the worst. Nobody thought you could survive such a fall and I thought you were gone. My world collapsed as he told me. It made me realize how much I need you and how I have not been a good wife to you."
Her words confused me since she was everything I could have wished for and more. I hugged her tightly. "Never say that again. You are exactly the right woman for me. I'm the luckiest man on the planet because I have you in my life."
My love shook her head violently and the droplets falling down her gorgeous cheekbones increased. "No I'm not. You bring me breakfast in bed every morning and then work very hard in a dangerous profession before you return home to make dinner and pick up the house. What do I bring to this relationship? Nothing, that's what! I have been so selfish. I never deserved you."
I led us to a chair next to the small table in the middle of the kitchen and sat in her my lap. "Don't think that way baby. I swore on our wedding day that I would do everything in my power to keep you happy. I spend more time sitting around waiting to do my job more than I actually work whereas you are on the go from the time you start until your day ends ten or twelve hours later. We are in this together and I'm not doing anything other than pulling my fair share."
Dani frowned. "I've never pulled my share."
I almost wished I had sat in her lap, as I had to turn her chin so far downward so I could look into her perfect eyes. "Yes you have, by making me happy. I live to see you smile and if doing all these small things makes you happy then I am more than willing. You know me well enough to know that I have my limits and if I don't want to do something I won't."
Dani managed a small chuckle. "Oh I know all about trying to force you to do anything you don't want to do. I'll never make that mistake that again."
I laughed thinking about our first and only major fight. It almost broke us up; actually, it did break us up. It happened a month after we moved in together…
"Awe, come on wear it for me, please." Dani begged while holding a padded bra.
I shook my head. "Absolutely not. I have to wear those enough for work and refuse to wear them at home."
Dani's voice took on a tinge of anger. "If you wear them for work then it shouldn't be a problem to wear it when we go to dinner. Most people assume you are a girl anyway."
Her words stung. I knew I wasn't the most masculine male, my father and brothers made it point to let me know it whenever they had a chance when I was growing up. I didn't need my girlfriend to remind me of it.
I remained resolute. "I said no and I mean it. Look I have already changed my style for you to the point that people don't know what to think anymore but this is crossing the line."
I almost told her of my father making me wear my mother's frilly aprons when he made me cook or her old dresses when he was home as I cleaned the house but I'd never told anyone, it far too embarrassing. I would have never done for work had I not been desperate to prove my skills.
Dani's bottom lip started to stick out. "I thought you said you loved me."
My anger increased another notch. How dare she resort to mind games to get way?
"Oh so this is your idea of love? Allowing you to humiliate me is your idea of love? I'm sorry but I always thought love was about mutual caring and admiration. I always thought you tried to build up the person you love, at least that's what I've been trying to do for you but forgive me for having the wrong idea."
Her anger quickly matched my own. "Don't give me that. I just want to have a little fun."
I walked over to the closet before I quickly dressed and retrieved a suitcase and started tossing my old clothes in it. "This would not be fun to me but apparently you don't care how I feel."
"What are you doing?" Dani shrieked.
I glared at her. "I'm leaving. You can stay a month. That should give you enough time to find a new place."
Dani stared at me in disbelief. "You're really going to leave because I asked you to wear a bra in public? I thought you said we were forever."
I paused from my packing to stare at her. "Do you really think I love you less because I refuse to wear that?"
She nodded. "You told me you loved me and you'd do anything for me."
I sighed as I grabbed another handful of clothes. "I'm not leaving because you asked me to wear a bra. I'm leaving because you tried to use my love for you to force me to do it. I honestly thought we were forever until a few moments ago. Now I realize your version of forever is just so long as I do as you wish and that's not love."
I closed the lid on the suitcase because I continued. "Love has to be mutual and lately it feels very one sided. A relationship has to be give and take but since we have been together it feels like I am doing all the giving and you are doing all the taking."
Dani glared at me thinking it would cause me to submit but I had my fill of her domineering ways. I was getting to the point where I didn't recognize the person looking back at me from the mirror.
"Put everything back right now!" She screamed.
Her dominant stance reminded me somewhat of how my father stood over me when he became angry. My first reaction was to fly into a rage and fight everything that was done to me.
Instead, I rolled my eyes and laughed. "Just go back to girls sweetheart, maybe they will submit to your will."
I walked into the bathroom and grabbed my shaving kit before I started down the hall.
"You'll never find someone better than me. You will be back in the morning." Dani yelled behind me.
"I'd rather be alone than spend it as the person you want me to be. I worked too hard to find myself only to lose it so I can become a plaything you'll soon tire of. One month and I expect my apartment back." I yelled as I walked out the door.
I had just climbed in my vintage cherry red 1971 Dodge Challenger when my phone rang. I answered it expecting Dani was ready for round two. "My answer's still no. I love you but I can't handle it anymore. I was serious when I said one month."
A deep laughter greeted me. "I didn't know you felt that way about me. I'm touched."
I sighed as I realized the person on the other end was a producer I had worked with on a couple of pictures who was quickly becoming more of a friend and mentor. "Hey Aaron, what's up?"
"Hey Ty. I was wondering if you are on the job at the moment?"
"Nope, my schedule is clear for the next six weeks." I had turned down his offer for a job to give Dani and I some time to get to know each other better.
Big mistake on my part.
Aaron made an even bigger mistake in that he showed his desperation in his voice. "Cool, would you be interested in working with me? The fight coordinator we hired just isn't able do everything we've asked and I'm in a real bind. I'd owe you a solid if you could bail me out."
"How soon do you need me?" I asked.
"Yesterday would be good."
"What kind of money are we talking and where is it?"
"Since I'm in a bind I'll pay 4k a day and it's in Hawaii. I might also need you to stand in for the actress since we haven't found a stuntwoman able to move like you do."
I groaned. "Not another bikini fight?"
Aaron chuckled. "Umm yeah."
"I've already turned this job down once. Sorry but 4k a day is not near enough for me to come in and clean up someone else's mess. I don't want to go through that again plus I'll have crazy tan lines for the rest of the summer."
"Fine, I'll pay 8k a day but only because I'm desperate. I'll need you for a month, three weeks to help train the actress and one week of filming."
I let out a long whistle. "Wow Aaron, that's some serious money. Does the actress have any fight experience?"
"I don't think so but she's smart and a quick study."
I thought for a moment. "What color will I have to dye my hair?"
"Tell you what, make it 200K for the job and you have a deal."
I heard him laugh. "You drive a hard bargain Ty but this is a big budget film and everything has to be perfect so it will be worth it. I thought we could do it without you but I was wrong. How soon can you be ready to go?"
"Is now soon enough? I can be at the airport in forty-five minutes."
"Perfect! I'll have a private jet waiting and your contract will be ready as soon as you land."
"Sounds good, see you then."
Ha, I thought. Dani thinks I'll be crawling back in the morning but by then I'll be soaking up the rays in Hawaii.
The day after I arrived, I started working with Megyn Vaughn, an up and coming new actress. She didn't look like the typical actress since she was wearing a weathered light blue tank top and white shorts with simple white sandals for our first meeting. Her long blonde hair was pulled into a high ponytail and a pair of Wayfarer sunglasses was perched on her head.
Megyn was not like most of the stuck up actresses I had become used to working with. She labored extremely hard to improve and was a very fast learner. Her blue eyes were eagerly watching every move and her quick mind made it almost effortless for her to absorb every lesson. This was quickly becoming the easiest money I had ever made.
She turned out to be a true joy to work with and we were quickly becoming good friends. At first, I was worried about her overt friendliness since my heart was still aching for Dani until she confided in me on our third day of working together that she was a lesbian. After that, she quickly became like the sister I always wished I had.
The weeks of training worked two ways. It allowed me to teach her and also allowed me to learn most of her mannerisms so when they filmed my stunts it would look more like she was the one doing them.
We took our first break on the eighth day of training. Megyn made a quick call and as soon as she finished talking, she sat her phone between us on the table and looked at me. "So you're the man who stole Dani's heart?"
I tensed suddenly. "I wouldn't say that. She stole mine but I think for her, I was just a shiny new toy she wanted to play with."
Megyn shook her head. "I don't think so. I met Dani on my very first day on a real movie set when I was filming a movie in Greece and we have been friends ever since. I remember her calling me the morning after your first date and she said she finally met the man she was going to spend the rest of her life with. It surprised me since I didn't think she liked men."
"She doesn't." I said before I realized it.
A look of concern crossed her very attractive face. "What do you mean?"
I had not told anyone about our fight but I knew I could trust Megyn. Since she knew Dani, maybe she could give me some insight. A tear started to form, I missed Dani like crazy but I could not let her walk over me like she did.
My thoughts suddenly poured from my lips without a filter. "She doesn't like men. I can't do it Megyn; she wants me to be a person that I can't be. I might not look like the most masculine man but I'm still a man. Am I wrong to think that the woman I love should be happy with me as I am and not try to make me into someone completely different? I mean she sees what I have to wear on the set most of the time and she thinks I want to dress like that all the time and it's just not me. I tried to tell her but she kept pushing."
Megyn sighed. "She can be kinda hard headed some times."
I laughed lightly. "Sometimes?"
Megyn giggled. "Okay, most of the time; but she's a sweet person and her heart is in the right place. Maybe she thought she was helping you."
I frowned. "The only thing she helped do was push me away. She said some awful things and her attitude didn't show an ounce of concern for my feelings. She acted like I should bow at her feet simply because she deigned me worthy of her attention."
I ran my hands through my hair. "I trust you so I'm going to tell you something I've never told anyone else. I suffered a lot of abuse at the hands of my father and brothers. They always taunted me about my looks and my father forced me to wear things to emphasize his point. I still wear this stuff for work because it's the only way to get a decent job but I can't do it for fun."
The tears I had been holding back started to flow freely. "Because of everything back then, my confidence is shaky at best and every time Dani suggests I change, I feel myself falling backwards toward the person I used to be. I can't let that happen. I won't survive it a second time."
Megyn stared me in the eyes. "I'm sure Dani regrets her actions. Do you love her?"
I nodded. "I think of the smart, caring, beautiful person she is most of the time and I love her with all my heart but then I remember what she said and how she tried to use my love for her to force me to do things and it scares me."
I ran my hand under my nose since it was starting to run. "What good is love if I lose who I am in the process? Why can't she love me for who I am? Am I that bad as a man?"
Megyn was quiet for a moment and seemed surprised when her phone rang. She glanced down before answering. "Hey can you give me a second? Okay hold on."
She looked at me. "I'm so sorry, I'll be right back."
"You know I love you but you have royally screwed up something special." I heard Megyn say right before she walked out the door.
I moped around thinking about my situation while Megyn was outside.
It was bad enough I had to occasionally dress because of my job but how else would someone my size with my lack of education make a decent living?
I had been branded a sissy my entire life back home. It took years of dedicated training in the martial arts to gain the strength to achieve any self-respect and I'd be damned if I would open myself up to all those feelings again.
I mean the other stuntmen were bad at the beginning but I was able to shut them up quickly enough. But after I started dressing in the clothes Dani picked out people had started to talk again.
What Dani asked of me was simply too much.
Megyn startled me from my thoughts when she tapped my shoulder. "Earth to Ty, come in Ty."
I sighed. "Sorry, I was thinking. Is everything okay?"
She nodded. "I hope so, let's get back to work."
At the end of a long day where Megyn wanted to keep going long after we normally would have stopped she looked over at me. "You feel up to grabbing some dinner with me tonight?"
I shook my head. "I appreciate the offer but I'm just going to head back to the hotel."
Megyn pursed her full lips. "Nope, bad idea. You don't need to be sulking all night. You need to go out and have some fun."
I frowned. "I know what you're trying to do and I appreciate it but I wouldn't be any fun to be around. Maybe later okay?"
Megyn shook her head. "What better way to make Dani realize what she's losing than for her to see an up and coming actress on your arm? We can go some place where they are sure to take our picture."
If she was trying to talk me into this, then the idea of rubbing it in Dani's face was the wrong tactic. "The last thing I would ever do is hurt her like that. I thought you were her friend?"
Megyn smiled warmly and appeared to be looking over my shoulder instead of at me. "I am but I think you are perfect for her and knowing Dani, it would force her to realize what she's losing. She's stubborn and sometimes it takes a hard dose of reality to make her see things correctly."
I gave what she said some serious thought but in the end I still couldn't do it. "In the past I would have jumped at your offer but Dani is too special to ever hurt on purpose. A man who would deliberately hurt a woman, especially one as wonderful as her, just to get her back is not worthy of her in the first place."
Megyn nodded. "I wonder if Dani knows how lucky she is?"
"Yes I do." A familiar voice said from across the room.
I spun around to see Dani crying in the back doorway.
I froze in shock, not believing my eyes as she ran across the room to me.
"I'm so sorry." She sobbed in my shoulder after she wrapped me in a tight hug. "I'll never do that again. I love you. Can you ever forgive me?"
I nodded and kissed her passionately. "I love you too and I forgave you the second I saw you."
Megyn walked by and patted our shoulders. "I guess you'll have other plans for dinner so I'll see you tomorrow. What do you say to a late start, maybe after lunch?"
I nodded as Dani looked at her. "How can I ever repay you?"
Megyn smiled. "An invite to your wedding will be thanks enough."
After Megyn walked away Dani turned back to me. "I'm so so sorry Ty. I get carried away sometimes and get bitchy when I don't get my way but I promise to work on it."
I started to interrupt her but she placed a finger over my lips. "Let me say this. I know we have only been together a couple of months but the days since you left have been pure hell and it was a hell of my own doing. I love you just as you are. I love the man you are and would never do anything to change that. I will always be strong willed and I don't know how much of that I can change but I promise I will never, ever, force you do to anything you don't want to do. This is an equal partnership and I think you are perfect just as you are."
As soon as she finished I wrapped my arms tightly around my love. "I love you so much and please don't change only because you think it will make me happy. It will make you resent me eventually and I couldn't stand if that happened."
I laughed. "Well, that fight did lead to a lovely beach wedding."
Dani nodded. "You were so cute on our wedding night with the bikini tan lines."
I poked her ribs. "I knew you loved them but were to afraid to mention it."
Dani laughed. "Oh, in everything that happened I forgot to tell you, I talked to Megyn tonight. Things are still great on her television series. She sounded happy and still in love."
I smiled thinking of the woman who saved our relationship. "She deserves to be as happy as we are."
Dani nodded again. "I think she is. Her wife sounds great."
After a quick meal of stir-fry we moved to bedroom for a wild night of lovemaking.
I gasped for air as I rolled to my side. "Honey, I don't know about you but has it ever been that great?"
My beautiful wife attempted to put her arm over me but it ended up falling harshly across my chest. "That was the best. I love you so much."
I laughed as I pulled her close to my side and moved a few strands away from gorgeous face. "Sleep now sweetheart. I love you too."
She nodded as she buried my head between her luscious breasts. It was my favorite place on earth. Moments later I heard her breathing even out and I knew she was in a blissful somber.
I closed my eyes but as soon as I did the image of Adorious filled the space reserved for dreams.
I heard his words all over again and felt the pain from small boulder that crushed my lower body. I could still taste him from where he forced himself between my lips. My mouth once again tasted of the blood that coated my tongue after I bit his extra large organ.
With trembling limbs, I slowly eased my way out from under Dani's arm and made my way to the couch. Once there I couldn't control the emotions that overtook me.
"Oh my poor baby. Are you okay?" Dani asked moments later.
She sat at my side and allowed me to release my fear. I knew she was worried because she had never seen me like this but nothing I did allowed me stop.
"It's okay, just let it out."
My fear stricken eyes gazed at her as I snaked my arms around her slender waist. "Please don't let go of me."
She lovingly pulled me even closer to her. "Never."
After about twenty minutes I finally calmed down.
"You want to talk about it?" Dani asked.
I shook my head as I wiped my shameful eyes. "It's nothing to worry yourself about."
Dani grasped my hands. "Ty I found you crying in the living room. I'm already worried about it. Please tell me; otherwise my mind will go crazy trying to figure it out."
I turned away as I hung my head in disgrace. "When I closed my eyes I could feel my body being crushed. I saw that man forcing himself on me. I tasted him and then his blood as I bit him. I almost died today."
Dani pulled me into a hug. "From what Mother told me. What you did today was quite remarkable and unheard of. You faced evil head on and emerged triumphant. You should be proud of what you did. I know I am. You're safe now and you are protected. If anyone wants to get to you, they will have to go through my ancestors and me. We are quite formidable you know."
I laughed. "Yes you are. I'm lucky you love me."
She leaned down to kiss me. "I am the lucky one. You ready to go back to bed?"
I nodded and she led me to the bedroom.
After we lay down I released another sigh. "I'm sorry for losing it like that. I don't know why but I'm feeling rather emotional. I only get emotional when it comes to you but tonight everything makes me want to cry."
Dani nodded knowingly. "That's something you will have to adjust to. It's part of Mother's gift. It may not seem like it right now but crying will allow you become more stable. It's not healthy to hold everything in."
A yawn escaped. "Oh yay."
My love laughed. "You'll get used to it. Half the population of the planet has lived with it all their lives."
Sleep overtook me before I had a chance to respond. I'm not usually one to dream, at least I don't think I am, mainly because I only remember the nightmares but this night was different.
My dreams felt so very realistic. They felt more like a memory than an actual dream.
The odd thing about them was the way I was treated by my friends and colleagues. The men were overly attentive and eager to please yet at the same time it felt as if they didn't take what I said seriously. What bothered me most was the lack of respect I received in work related conversations. Suggestions I made that were usually accepted without question were readily dismissed.
My best friend Ryan treated me pretty much the same as always except that in my dream he barely let me out of his sight and became overly protective.
The women who were my friends felt closer and happily shared their secrets with me, telling me which men to trust and which to avoid if at all possible. Other women were nice on the front but I could feel a level of distrust and possible even jealousy.
I awoke the following morning feeling different. Not a good different or a bad different, just different. I grabbed a tee shirt to toss on before I made my way to the bathroom for a shower.
I once inside I shrieked when the water hit my chest. It was like tiny pin pricks over my nipples as water made contact. I looked down to notice they were quite puffy.
Dani burst into the room quickly. "Are you okay?"
I opened the shower door. "Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. The water making contact with my chest kinda hurt and I wasn't expecting it. Does it look different to you?"
My wife stared at me with wonder. "It's not just your chest. I was told what to expect but seeing it actually happening is amazing."
"What do you mean?" I asked with fear lacing every word.
"Finish your shower and I'll show you."
I shook my head and made a dash out of the shower toward our bedroom that held a full-length mirror.
Dani grabbed me as I tried to run past her. "Looking can wait, you need to finish your shower."
I shook my head again. "No, I have to see first."
My loving wife took my hand in hers and led me to our bedroom where she held me from behind for support as I gazed upon the changes that were starting to occur.
I gasped with amazement as I saw someone who closely resembled myself but couldn't possibly be me. The person in the mirror had large puffy nipples resting where my tiny flat ones should have been. I had worked hard to gain my strength without adding bulk but it appeared I had less muscle mass and a smaller waist that made my hips appear wider.
Those changes were nothing compared to the fact that whoever had replaced me in the mirror possessed a much smaller penis. I had always been proud of the fact that it was slightly larger than average and it looked even bigger because of my small statue. Ryan and a few others called me Tripod because of it. But now it was the same size as it was when I was twelve.
I dropped my head into my hands and started to cry again. "I thought Mother said she was giving me gifts, not cursing me."
My loving wife spun me around so we were facing each other. "This will be a gift, you just can't see it yet. She is giving you power. Wait until the change is complete before you pass judgment."
I wrapped my arms around the woman who helped bring my life into focus. "How can you love me when I look more like a prepubescent girl than the man you married?"
Dani kissed my forehead. "These changes are temporary and my love for you is eternal." She placed her hand over heart. "I love what's in here." Next her hand moved to my head. "And in here. Nothing can ever change that. Now go finish your shower, breakfast is almost ready."
After washing myself, my loving wife was waiting in the kitchenette of our small trailer where she had cooked enough for a small army. I saw three large plates, one full of scrambled eggs, another full of bacon, and the third piled high with toast.
I didn't realize how hungry I was until I started to eat. It felt like I had not eaten in a week and in a matter of minutes all three plates were clean, save for a few crumbs.
"That was fantastic, thank you." I said after I drank the last of the rather large glass of milk Dani had served.
"You're welcome. Do you want more?" She asked.
I shook my head. "Thank you but no. I'm amazed I ate as much as I did."
Dani's eyes showed great concern. "Are you sure? I don't mind making more."
I smiled and reached across the small table to take my wife's hand in mind. "I know you don't but I don't think I could eat another bite. I had no idea I could put away so much in one sitting. Thank you for taking care of me."
My loving wife's hand squeezed mine tightly. "I was told you would need extra nourishment."
I nodded as a yawn escaped. "Have I told you how much I love you?"
Dani smiled and slowly started to stand. "Every chance you get and you know I love you too. You look tired. Let's go lie back down."
Normally I would protest, especially given the fact I had not been awake an hour but the idea of more sleep sounded wonderful.
Before we climbed into bed I undressed again. Another wave of sadness swept through me as I looked down at my miserable excuse of a body. This was not a body of a twenty eight year old man.
Once again my dreams were vivid but these were about my past. My mother was exactly the same as I remembered except maybe more beautiful. There was a determination in her eyes I did not remember and a concern that disappeared the second she looked at me.
The main difference was the time we spent together as she played with my hair or reading to me from fairy tale books. My actual memories were full of just her and I. Over half of my dream included activities with my half brothers. I didn't remember doing those things with them included before.
I saw my father, the man who strongly believed in tough love. He was still a powerful man and a mean drunk and still changed for the worst after the death of my mother. Instead of beating and/or humiliating me every chance he got in real life, in my dream he pretty much ignored me unless I did something to upset him.
He still hit me but instead of the closed fist punches I received for acting like a sissy he slapped me around for acting too much like a boy.
The part that sent shivers down my spine was how he would get drunk and after everyone went to bed he would touch me or do worse things saying how much I reminded him of my mother and how sorry he was.
Even stranger for me was that instead of calling me Ty or Tyler Drew he would call me Cali or Callista Dawn.
My half-brothers from Daddy's first marriage, who always were so quick to beat me up when nobody was looking, were overly protective. They called me Caligirl and instead of leaving me to face Dad's wrath alone, they were vigilant to keep me away from him. They enrolled me in martial arts training after school to keep my busy while they worked or insisted on me tagging along with them wherever they went.
In my dream I still met Ryan when we were eight.
Instead of us meeting on the playground, we met at the local recreation center where my brothers dropped me off after school. I still did my training as before and Ryan still played whatever sport was in season.
The details were different in that instead of him stopping three boys from beating me up for being so small and wearing thrift store rejects. I stepped to his side and helped him fight off three boys who accused him of cheating during a game of basketball.
I still taught him how to fight but it was I who pulled him from his shell of insecurity instead of him helping me gain confidence.
I still graduated high school early and moved to California as soon as I could but it was much easier to break into my line of work, as there was a higher demand for women with my skill set.
Nobody took my suggestions as seriously and in my dream, it was Ryan who used his connections to convince others I was capable to handle an entire crew.
I ended up dreaming an altered view of my entire life with the exception of my lovely wife. I still relived those moments almost exactly the way they happened only minor changes except for our wedding. Instead of the minister on a beach in Hawaii announcing us as Tyler and Dani Dawson, a holy woman during a sunrise ceremony on the same beach introduced us as Dani and Callista Zoyra.
I woke up with my wife holding on to me as if I were her only precious treasure. I could tell she had been crying from the puffiness around her closed lids. I didn't want to disturb her slumber but she was too beautiful not to show a small token of affection.
I lovingly stroked her dark silky hair and lightly placed a kiss on her forehead.
I was surprised when my lips arrived a fraction of a second sooner than I expected, causing her to stir. To my relief she only shifted slightly and appeared to be going back to sleep.
She scared me when her eyes suddenly opened wide and she sat straight up beside me.
A voice that wasn't mine asked the question that was on my mind. "Are you okay baby?"
I coughed and rubbed my throat before asking the question again and the same high voice again said what I wanted to say.
Dani started to cry. "Oh thank all that is good. I was so worried."
I hugged her tightly but my own touch foreign to me, as if I was experiencing it for the first time. I probably would have been more concerned about it if not for the fact that my love was sobbing uncontrollably beside me. Now was not the time to be troubled about myself.
"Why were you worried baby?" I asked.
Dani looked at me through tear-stained lashes. "You've been asleep for almost three days. I didn't think you would ever wake up. How do you feel?"
I stared at her in shock. "I don't know how I feel. I haven't fully woken up yet. How could I sleep that long?"
Dani held the covers surrounding us tightly. "The physical changes Mother discussed, they are complete."
My eyes widened with fear. "What do you mean? How bad is it?"
My wife smiled, "They aren't bad at all, in fact I rather like them but it may take some adjustment on your part. Before I let you out of bed to look I want you to know that this changes nothing between us. You are still the person I fell in love with."
A cold chill ran up my spine. "What happened?"
Dani shifted and pulled us from the bed. I don't know why but my feet didn't hit the floor as soon as I expected. I stumbled slightly and had to hold onto my wife for balance because a weight on my chest threw off my balance.
The weight was slightly familiar from the prosthetics that sometimes had to be applied when scenes required less clothing but I had no idea why I would be feeling it at the moment. I looked down to see two well-formed large breasts resting where I used to be flat.
I gaped at her with pleading eyes. "Please tell me this is a joke and that you glued these on while I was asleep."
Her voice was soft but reassuring. "I can't. They are very real and if I'm being honest, they are quite nice. In fact they are perfect." Dani guided me to the mirror. "Look at the new you."
I stared at the reflection in stunned silence for a moment. A very fit and extremely attractive woman was standing in front of my wife. She looked like she might be in her late teens or early twenties with fiery red hair and perfectly rounded breasts that weren't overly large but to me they looked huge.
I gingerly fanned my fingers over a slim waist and washboard stomach that flowed out to wide hips and ample bottom. I gasped when I saw the flat area between her legs with a small well-groomed patch of red.
"I'm… I'm… I'm…" I couldn't get the words out.
"Gorgeous." Dani offered.
I shook my head. "No, I'm a woman."
"Yes you are."
"But how?" I asked.
"This is a gift from Mother. She said it was the only way to save you."
I continued to stare. "Surely there was another way?"
"She told you that you would have to sacrifice some things and gain many others didn't she?"
I nodded slowly. "Yes but I never expected this."
"It's better than the alternative."
I couldn't believe the image in front of me and my mind found the idea of living in this body disturbing.
"I'm not so sure." I said sadly.
Dani spun me around. "You can't think like that. Just be thankful you are alive and we are together. I don't care what you look like, she could have transformed you into an ogre and I would be ecstatic just so long as you are still in my life."
Her voice started to break. "I can't live without you so please try to accept what you have been given as the gift it is and embrace this second chance at life."
Tears started to form in my eyes. "How are we going to explain this?"
Dani smiled confidently. "It's taken care of."
Her assurance confused me. "What do you mean?"
"What is your name?"
"Callista Dawn Zoyra." I replied without hesitation.
I shook my head in confusion. "No wait, I'm Tyler Drew Dawson."
Dani smiled again. "See, it's all taken care of. You only remember your past if you concentrate on it. The only people who know of what happened are you and I."
"That explains my dreams." I said mainly to myself.
My wife nodded. "Yes, she gave you a complete history. She said you will have new memories for everyone you've ever met."
I cocked my head slightly. "I took your name?"
Dani smiled proudly. "Yes, you took my name when we married to rid yourself of your past and start fresh."
I frowned. "One set of terrible memories about him was bad enough, now I have two. Why did she do that?"
Dani hugged me tightly knowing I was talking about my father. "To give you perspective. She said the duality would allow you an empathy that will be useful in helping others."
I slumped back down on the bed and motioned the length of my new body. "Why would I help others? I mean look at what happened the last time I helped someone."
Dani pulled me to my feet. "The person I love is not a quitter and is the most giving person I know. I understand this is a shock and I don't blame you for being upset but we'll get through this."
"I noticed you didn't say the man you love."
My wife sighed as she bent down to rest her forehead on mine. "You will always be the man I fell in love with and married but Mother said you would have died if she didn't do this. This is a small price to pay not to lose you. You are now, and always have been, a survivor. We’ll adapt and move forward for this."
She then grinned before she kissed my new nose. "Besides you know I preferred women til I met you and now you get to experience why."
I laughed as I turned back to mirror to get a second look now that the initial shock had worn off. The features were familiar but softer. My lips were fuller and a nice shade of crimson. My cheekbones were slightly higher and I somehow had a natural blush that accented them perfectly.
My gaze drifter higher and that was when I noticed my eyes. They were like a prism with all the variations of color showing at once. The lashes were thick and full.
I moved closer to the mirror to make sure I was seeing the reflection correctly when Dani said, "They are truly the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen. I didn't think it would be possible to improve upon perfection but she somehow did."
I nodded silently as I continued to stare.
Dani guided me away from the mirror and into the small hallway. "Why don't you hop in the shower while I fix you something to eat."
As soon as I turned on the shower to allow the water to warm up I felt the urge of natures call. In my usual fashion I turned toward the toilet, lifted the seat and released my bladder. I tried to stop the flow when the inside of my thighs became warm to no avail and a large puddle formed on the floor.
Tears started to flow as I grabbed a towel to clean up the mess I made. Why did this have to happen to me? Couldn't Mother have found another way to save me?
I tossed the towel into the laundry hamper before I stepped in the warm shower. My pity party was interrupted by the new sensations I experienced. I was acutely aware of every droplet hitting my skin. First I washed and conditioned my hair. It felt fuller and even longer than before.
As I soaped up my body I realized it became slightly uncomfortable when I applied the same amount of pressure I was used to. When I started on my lower body I accidently touched the unfamiliar area of this new body that I knew intimately on Dani. I released a small gasp as my fingertip brushed the spot I could always count on to get my wife worked into a frenzy.
"Feels good doesn't it?" Dani said, startling me.
"It feels different for sure." I replied.
Dani smiled wickedly. "Just wait baby, you'll love it but for now rinse off because your food is getting cold."
I quickly rinsed and stepped into the towel my wife was holding for me. "Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?" She whispered in my ear.
I shook my head. "I'm not beautiful, especially not while I'm standing next to you."
"Yes you are. You just don't see it yet." She replied. After she helped dry me she handed me an oversized tee she usually wore. "Put this on for now."
I slipped it over my head and laughed to keep from crying. While the shirt almost hit her knees when she wore it, it only needed another inch or two to hit the floor on me.
"Don't tell me I got even shorter?"
Dani nodded. "Only a few inches."
I looked up at my wife and it took more effort than it ever had before. "What the hell? I bet I'm barely five feet tall now."
Dani nodded again as she lifted me into her arms. "Give or take an inch but it's okay for girls to be short. I think it's sexy."
I hugged her tightly. "I like my girls tall."
She laughed as she returned my embrace while carrying me to the kitchen. "You better."
After I finished the last of my third grilled ham and cheese sandwich Dani looked at me optimistically. "You want to go for a walk?"
I shuddered at the thought of stepping foot outside. "Can't I stay holed up in here the rest of my life?"
Dani shook her head. "No, Mother says you have a long meaningful life ahead of you so we might as well get started. Besides, everyone is worried and wants to see you after your accident."
I searched my memories and realized the events of my accident had changed to protect the site I fell into. It seems now the airbag failed and that was what caused my injuries.
I shrugged. "When do we go see Gabe?"
Dani smiled. "Tomorrow morning. Come on, let's get dressed."
I went through my clothes and nothing fit correctly anymore. The shorts were either too tight in hips or too loose in the waist or both at once. I next tried Dani's clothes and while they fit better, they were too large.
"What the hell?" I yelled as a pair of her shorts fell off my new hips. "If you are a size six then how tiny am I if your clothes are this big on me?"
Dani walked over to comfort me. "You're not tiny, you are petite."
I smiled at her attempt to cheer me up. "I guess Mother didn't include a new wardrobe in the deal."
"And deny me the chance to shop?" Dani laughed.
I tried not to laugh at her comment but couldn't help myself. "Good point. She knows you well."
"I'll run down to wardrobe and see if I can scavenge something that will be presentable to go shopping in. You can wear one of my tees but my shorts just won’t work." Dani said as she pulled on lavender colored tank over her khaki shorts. I always loved it when she wore that color because it made her magnificent eyes pop that much more.
I inspected myself again while Dani was gone. The changes were nothing short of amazing. Before this happened, even after Dani or another makeup artist did their magic, I could still tell I was really a man if I looked closely. But now, standing naked in front of a mirror, nobody would be able to tell I wasn't born this way.
My build used to be considered boyish or athletic when I dressed as a woman but there wasn’t anything boyish about my large breasts, tiny waist and wide hips. It would have been nice to be taller. Hell, whom am I kidding? It would have been nicer to remain a guy.
Dani brought me from my thoughts when she walked into the trailer. I walked into the living room to see her dramatically waving a severely outdated, short, bright pink dress with a dynamic neon yellow geometric pattern.
"They didn't have anything your size so I thought this would work until went to the store."
My face went pale with fear as I stared at it. "Come on now, you have to be kidding me? That thing looks like the 80's threw up on it."
She laughed as she pulled me into a hug. "Sorry, it was a bad joke. I figured it would break the tension. I wouldn't let you wear that even if you wanted too."
My body relaxed in her arms. "That wasn't funny."
Dani giggled slightly. "Yes it was." She handed me a pair of trendy cutoff denim shorts and two spaghetti strap tops with built in shelf bras. "These will work for now and you can wear your flip flops, they shouldn't be way too big."
I grabbed the items and was about to walk back to the bedroom when I paused. "What about underwear?"
Dani smiled. "You don't wear underwear anymore."
My eyes widened. "Why not?"
"Because women wear panties."
"Excuse the hell out of me. What about panties then?" I yelled in frustration. I wasn't ready for another reminder that I had lost my manhood and my anger showed as I stormed toward the bedroom, slamming the door once I was inside.
Dani quietly eased her way in the room to find me sitting on the edge of the bed crying again.
She ran her hand over my back in a soothing motion as her voice started to break. "I'm sorry. I was just trying to make us laugh so we wouldn't cry."
I reached out and held onto her until ours tears subsided.
"I didn't mean to lash out at you. I'm sorry." I said as I wiped the remaining moisture from my eyes.
"Don't apologize. I know this must be traumatic for you and here I am trying to make jokes. If you can't lash out at your wife when you're hurting then something is wrong."
I looked down at the impressive diamond rind and solid band on my left hand before I stared up into Dani's eyes and a disturbing thought crossed my mind. "Are you still my wife? Am I still your husband? I mean what are we?"
Dani ran her fingers down the side of my face. "First and foremost, we are forever. I will be your wife til death do us part and I will always consider you my husband but if you search your memories you will realize the holy woman who conducted our ceremony announced us as wife and wife. We are in a domestic partnership back in California, everything we own is in both our names and we each have power of attorney over the other. We are as married as we can possibly be until they change the laws." She paused hesitantly. "Is that okay?"
I smiled brightly and leaned over to kiss my wife. "So long as we are forever everything will be okay."
Since the location of the shoot was so remote, we had to drive back to my small hometown in order to find a place to shop. I wasn't looking forward to going back but I didn't feel the same sense of dread as before.
Dani parked the jeep provided by the studio outside of the town's only mall. I made no movement to get out since I was beyond terrified.
Dani knew my reasons for being reluctant without my ever having to voice them. "Cali this is necessary. I know you're scared but there is nothing to worry about, nobody knows what happened except us. Besides, it's not like wearing these clothes will be a new experience for you."
My eyes widened as I stared at her. "Everything feels like a new experience right now."
She reached across to place her palm on my cheek to calm me. "Just think of it as a prolonged scene where the director isn't happy with the shot.
I nodded. "Or the actress isn't happy because she didn't read the fine print on her contract."
She leaned over to kiss me gently. "Everything will be fine. I'll always be here for you."
I wanted so badly to hold my wife's hand for strength after we were out of the jeep but I remembered how small minded the Tennessee town I grew up in was.
Dani sensed my hesitation and gripped my hand without hesitation. "I dare someone to say something." She said with a wink.
I giggled. "Thank you but you don't know what it's like. I guarantee you someone will."
The words had no more left my mouth before a brand new customized green four-wheel drive Chevy pickup slowed next to us. "Hey little girl, you need a real man to show you a good time?"
I looked into the driver's compartment and in the past I would have been angry at the sight of the two large red headed men wearing tattered baseball caps. Now I felt something completely different as I stared at them.
"If you see any real men let me know." I yelled much to Dani's dismay.
"What are you doing?" Dani whispered to me, her voice filled with panic.
I leaned closer. "Trust me."
The truck screeched to a halt and the men jumped out. One stood six foot three with a stocky build and the other was slightly shorter at six foot one and a leaner build. I rushed to them before the larger of the two grabbed me in a headlock. "What are you doing here? I thought we told you to leave town and never come back?"
Dani stormed over and started beating him on the back. "Leave her alone!"
He released me quickly and threw his hands in front of him in defense as he started laughing.
I rushed to Dani's side. "Calm down honey. These are my brothers."
Dani's hands dropped as she stared at me as if I was crazy. She remembered how much I used to hate them.
I leaned closer so only she could hear. "Search your new memories."
I saw her puzzled expression change into a smile as she recalled in version 2.0 of my life, my brothers were very protective of me and the day Ryan left town for Hollywood they bought me a plane ticket and handed me an envelope filled with three thousand dollars. They told me they loved me and to get as far away from here as I could and never come back.
I hugged the two men who, according to my new memory, basically raised me. "Dani I want you to meet the brothers Dawson. Two of the meanest rednecks you will ever meet."
My oldest brother Jeb, the shorter of the two, offered his hand. "Nice to meet you Ma'am."
Dani nodded hesitantly. "Nice to meet you too."
Thomas, never known to be shy, grabbed Dani and lifted her off the ground in a bear hug. "So you're the one who made a honest woman out of our little Cali? It's great to meet you. You are way prettier than your pictures, and that accent… very sexy."
I watched them all interacting and was amazed at how much love I felt for these two men when not a week ago I overflowed with hate at just the mention of their name.
Jeb draped his large tattooed arm over my shoulder. "What in the hell are you doing here baby sister?"
I wrapped my arm around his waist. "You heard about that movie they are shooting up on the mountain?" He nodded before I continued. "Well, I'm coordinating the stunts for it."
"You coulda called and let someone know you were around. Damn girl it's been too long." Thomas said as he pulled me away from Jeb placed me on his hip as if I were a child.
I leaned over and kissed his scruffy cheek before I recited the story we decided to tell people who asked why I needed a complete wardrobe. "I hadn't planned on coming to town but the airline lost my luggage. Now I have to buy enough clothes to get me by til we go home. How's Trish and that little girl of yours?"
When his expression quickly changed from overjoyed to distraught in an instant, I wondered what happened to his wife and daughter.
Thomas eyes filled with unshed tears. "I don't know. Trish disappeared with her six months ago." He pulled out a picture of an adorable red haired girl. "She looks like you did at that age. Kaley just turned nine two weeks ago and I missed it. I wish I knew what I did or where they were."
I smiled as I looked at the school picture of my niece. She did look a lot like my new memories told me I did at that age but there was no way I could have looked as perfect as she did.
"I was never that cute. You really don't know where they went?"
He frowned and shook his head. "One day Daddy and I went to an auction and when we got back all their stuff was gone. I really miss my family."
I hugged him tightly. "I'm sorry brother."
"How long are you around for?" Jeb asked, obviously trying to change the subject.
I looked over at Dani since I wasn't sure how far behind schedule the shoot was because of my injury.
"Two more weeks, give or take a couple of days." She said in answer to my look.
"We have to get together before you leave I know the old man would love to see ya." Jeb said.
My mood instantly changed from elation to anger in an instant. I knew he was lying. My father wanted nothing to do with me. "That ain't happening." I said.
Jeb nodded. "I understand Cali but he's changed. He's gotten religion and quit drinking. Give him a chance."
I shook my head "Why you gotta lie to me Jeb?"
I struggled to get Thomas to set me down. As soon as he did Dani came to my side.
Jeb tried again. "I know the stuff he did to you was terrible but that was a long time ago. At least give him a chance to apologize."
I looked up at my brothers and couldn't stop the tears that started to fall. "I can't do it. I'm glad ya'll can forgive him but I don't think I can."
"If either of you had to see the aftermath of the nightmares he has caused her you wouldn't be asking her to do this." Dani said in my defense.
"I'm sorry I brought it up Cali." Jeb said sadly.
Thomas glared at his brother and tried to talk so Dani and I couldn't hear. "What the hell man? You know he hasn't changed much."
Jeb shrugged. "I don't know man, maybe it just wishful thinking on my part."
Thomas smiled in my direction. "Forget what Jeb said, we love you baby sis."
I nodded. "I love both of you too."
Eager to end the sudden awkwardness Dani pulled me tighter. "We need to do a lot of shopping before the stores close, Cali doesn't have anything. Maybe we can grab something to eat before we leave town?"
Jeb nodded. "I'd like that. Cali, do you remember where Jiffy Dip is?"
I smiled at the mention of my favorite burger joint growing up. "You mean it's still open?"
"Yep, what do you say we meet there at six?" Thomas said as he looked at his watch. "That will give you a few hours to shop."
Dani grinned. "See you then. It's great to finally meet you both."
They both tipped their hats. "You too Ma'am."
"What's with all the Ma'ams? I'm younger than they are." Dani muttered as they walked away.
I giggled. "Welcome to the south honey. It's a sign of good manners." I paused as what she said sunk in. "And for the record, you are way older than they are."
I watched them climb into their truck before pulling away as my wife playfully shoved me. "You know what I mean."
I smiled as I rested my head on Dani's shoulder. "Wow, that was different."
Dani nodded. "I know. I was scared to death for a second but I should have known as soon as you didn't take on a defensive posture that you knew them."
I laughed. "That was payback for that God awful ugly dress."
Dani joined me laughing before she became serious. "I thought you hated them."
I nodded. "I used to but in this…reality or whatever you want to call it, I feel nothing but love and protectiveness from them. I don't know, used to be, they hated me and were just plain mean but now I sense they are good men and would do anything for me. I have memories of them giving me a lot of money and telling me to get away and never come back. They only want what's best for me now."
My wife nodded. "I felt that from them too." She shrugged her shoulders. "Let's not over analyze it. We have shopping to do."
As we walked into the mall I looked over at Dani. "I trust your judgment so whatever you pick out I'll wear."
Dani's beautiful head leaned back as laughter overtook her. "Oh no no no my sweet. I'm not letting you off that easy. You have to tell me what you like and I will offer helpful suggestions."
I poked my bottom lip out as I crossed my arms over my new breasts and walked through the door she held open for me. "Fine but I'm not happy about it."
I glanced at Dani and the hunger in her eyes made me feel funny in places I wasn't used to having.
"You have no idea what that look does to me." She said as she leaned so I only I could hear.
I laughed before I stuck my bottom lip out again causing Dani to laugh as well. "Nope, doesn't work without the eyes."
"Oh well can't blame me for trying."
Dani laughed again and leaned closer. "Stop walking like a man."
I froze in place and looked around nervously to see if anyone had noticed.
"Nobody is paying attention. Pretend you're on set and everything will be fine."
I nodded. "Thanks. Sorry about that."
Dani smiled and gave me a sideways hugs. "Don't apologize. I know this isn't easy but we'll get through it."
She grabbed my hand and started walking further into the mall. I hesitated when she led me to the entrance of a lingerie shop. I tried to steer us away but she wasn't easily swayed.
"Can't we at least work up to this?" I pleaded.
Dani had the decency to look guilty. "I'm sorry but if you are going to try on other clothes you need the essentials."
"Why do I need these things first?"
Her voice became soft and soothing. "Baby, you need your new girls to be lifted into place so your tops will fit properly."
As much as I hated to agree with her, she had a valid point. I shrugged my shoulders in defeat. "You're right…as usual."
Once inside a girl that I remembered from school named Tori approached us. She was a few inches taller than I was with a thin build of a runner instead of the thick body I remembered.
I was amazed that she had not changed the style of her short brown hair. Her light brown eyes were still her most noticeable feature and her makeup was understated which went well with the black slacks, pink blouse and black blazer she was wearing.
"How can I help you?" She asked as we walked further into the store.
In my male life I remembered Tori as a great friend who I pretended to date so nobody would be suspicious of her preference for women. Searching my female history I knew her as my best friend who was the first to introduce me to the joys of the feminine touch. Both sets of memories felt a pang of regret that we had lost touch.
Dani spoke before I had a chance. "Cali's luggage got lost on our flight from LA and she needs everything."
Tori's head cocked to the side as she studied me. "Cali Dawson?"
I shook my head and showed her my wedding ring. "It's Cali Zoyra now."
Tori hugged me tightly without warning. "It's so good to see you again. You look amazing. I almost want to hate you; you haven't aged a day other than filling out in all the right places."
I laughed lightly. "You're one to talk. You look fantastic. I can actually wrap my arms around you now."
She pulled away before grabbing my hand and leading me toward the bras. "I can't believe you're married. No offense but I never thought men were your forte'."
I laughed and turned toward my love. "Tori I'd like you to meet my wife Dani. Dani you remember me telling you about Tori?"
Dani smirked, as she obviously possessed the new memory of me telling her about my first girlfriend. "Nice to meet you."
Tori stared at Dani and allowed her eyes to linger longer than I liked. "You too."
I coughed lightly to break my friend's eyes away from my wife. "How have you been Tori?"
She brought her attention back to me. "I'm great thanks. Life is good."
I frowned as I took the hand of my best friend from high school. "Now how about you tell me the truth?"
A tiny shiver started at my toes and ran through my body before exiting my fingertips.
Tori started to talk almost as if she were in a trance. "I'm miserable. I still live here, my girlfriend just dumped me and I'm stuck as an assistant manager for a lingerie store."
I surprised myself by wrapping her in a hug. "I'm sorry Chunky Punk. It will be okay; you just have to keep fighting. If she dumped you then she didn't deserve you. I promise you'll find that special someone one day. I did."
Tori laughed and wiped a tear away. "Gee thanks Dynamite Dawson, I haven't been called that in years. I always figured I'd have made my mark on the world by now like you are doing. I follow you on the internet and see all the exciting places you have been and read about all the famous people you know."
"Just because you know someone famous doesn't mean they are a friend. Cali and I are just regular people who happen to have a job that allows us to travel. In many ways we would love to have your stability. At least you get to go home to your own bed every night." Dani said, trying to help Tori feel better.
I nodded in agreement. "Yeah, for the next two weeks Dani and I have to live in a small trailer and I just lost half my clothes."
"I see your point." Tori mumbled. "That's enough of my pity party. What are you a 32DD?"
I glanced at Dani who nodded slightly before I responded. "Yes."
I leaned over to Dani while she picked out a few bras. "These things are double D's?"
She chuckled and licked her lips. "Yes they are. Like I told you this morning, they are perfect."
I bumped into her while giggling. "You're bad but dang am I bigger than you?"
Dani shook her head. "No, we are the same size. I'm a 36C but that means our breasts are actually almost identical." She noticed my confused look. "It's a weird progressive scale men thing when it came to sizing bras please don't ask me to explain."
I wiggled my eyebrows. "If mine are like yours then no wonder you like them. Yours are wonderful."
After we moved over to the panties Dani helped me pick out a variety of styles before she turned to Tori. "Can you show Cali to the dressing room please? We have to shop for clothes and well… she needs a bra on to do that."
I was mortified at her words but Tori nodded knowingly. "I understand; I've been there too. It happened to me in when I went to Colorado a couple of years ago."
Dani discreetly handed me a thong panty. "Put this on too so you don't have any baggy panty lines when we try on clothes later."
I was too embarrassed to reply before my friend led me to the dressing room.
Tori leaned into my ear as we walked to the back. "Wow, I never imagine you'd be with such a take charge woman. You better be glad you two are married cause otherwise I'd totally try to steal her away, she's gorgeous."
I faked as if I was upset. "Gee thanks, so you think I'm not good enough for her?"
Tori totally believed I was offended and tried to calm me. "Don't get me wrong you are too. I mean you are beyond gorgeous and I can totally see why ya'll are together but dayum. You are like wholesome beautiful while your wife is like exotic and unattainable."
I giggled because her words didn't worry me in the least. "Down girl, do I need to go get a bucket?"
Tori giggled too, I was glad to see her mood improving. She waved her hand in front of her face as if she were fanning herself. "You just might. The sight of you two at once is almost more than I can take. I’ll have to put in a panty liner after you two leave so I don’t embarrass myself."
After she led me to the dressing room and walked back to the front, I warily put the bra and matching thong on. This was not a new experience but the feeling against my skin was very new. It was hard to believe how much support the bra offered.
I stared at myself in the mirror marveling at the changes before I put my clothes back on and fully understood what Tori was trying to say. If I had seen me before I met Dani I would have approached myself because unlike my unattainable spouse, I appeared accessible.
To anyone who judged people solely on their appearance, I looked harmless. Very attractive but harmless nonetheless, I worried that it was now true. I had been supposedly given gifts to make me stronger but I couldn't imagine how they could possibly manifest in this dainty package.
The face in the reflection developed a frown as I looked at the mirror again after I was fully clothed. The bra Dani had picked out really put my new cleavage on display for everyone to see.
While it really bothered me that I had to do this and bothered me more that I looked like this but maybe it was better than dying.
As I emerged from the dressing room Tori was finishing up placing my purchases in a large pink striped bag. The bag seemed too big for no more than we had picked out.
My friend walked around the counter to give me another hug. "It's good to see you again Cali. Dani said you were just in town for today but she has my number and email so we can keep in touch."
I nodded. "I promise to use it. Good to see you too."
After we walked out I shoved my shoulder into Dani. "She likes you, you know."
Dani laughed. "She likes you too. She told me if we weren't married she'd try to steal you."
I joined my wife in laughter. "She told me the exact same thing about you."
"So what is the story with Dynamite Dawson?" Dani asked with a grin.
I shrugged. "Apparently I liked to fight and was quite good at it. Everyone called me Dynamite Dawson cause I was unstable and packed quite a punch."
Dani started laughing even harder. "That pretty much summed you up for either life when we met."
I nodded enthusiastically. "Yep, you tamed the beast."
"How are holding up?" Dani asked after our laughter subsided.
I shrugged. "It's not easy but it's not as hard as I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, I wish we didn't have to do this but I suppose it's better than the alternative."
Dani nodded and I noticed her eyes begin to glisten. "It's much better than the alternative."
I wrapped one arm around her waist and looked up at her. "Hey now, none of that cause I'll start too."
Dani looked down and smiled. I knew from the gleam that was quickly replacing the unshed tears that she liked what she saw. I looked down and figured out that she had a clear view down my top.
I blushed and tried to tug my top higher before Dani stopped me. "Don't you dare cover them up. They are beautiful and there is no reason to be ashamed. "
My cheeks turned a brighter shade of red. "You can see them when we get home."
Dani smiled and shook her head. "How often do I dress to please you?"
I laughed. "Never."
Her eyes widened. "That is a lie. I dress for you all the time."
I put my hands on my hips. "When?"
She tugged at her tank top. "I know you love it when I wear purple so I have made it a mainstay of my wardrobe. This is not my favorite color but I wear it for you."
I sighed. "That's different."
My wife stared at me. "How is it different?"
"It’s a color, it’s not like putting my body out there on display for your amusement."
She laughed in my face as she leaned forward. "So you don’t like it when I wear short shorts and low cut tops like this one? Don’t say you don’t because I know you do. Tell me Cali, how is what I am asking you to do different?"
I ran many scenarios through in my mind but none provided a valid argument. I shrugged in defeat. "I don't know, it just is."
Dani shook her again. "No it isn't and you know it."
I leaned into her side. "I know. Just be patient with me."
She smiled as she ran her hand over my back. "Always Baby, always."
At the next store Dani led me to the juniors section to pick out my clothes. I tried to stay in the shadows and let her pick out what she thought would look good on me or nod in agreement as tried to involve me by holding different items up for my approval but she was having none of it.
Her right eye twitched as she grabbed my arm angrily and dragged me to a section that exclusively had senior citizens browsing the racks. She held an ugly floral patterned dress against my body. "Yes, I think this will look good on you."
My horrified expression told her everything I needed to say.
She leaned in heatedly so only I could hear her. "If you don't help me pick out your clothes then this is what you'll be wearing from now on."
I turned from her and sulked back to the juniors department.
"Fine but you don't have to be such a bossy bitch about it. What happened to being patient with me?" I said when she rejoined my side.
Dani sighed and rubbed her hand up and down my back. "I have patience for failures but not for giving up. I'm sorry but the sooner you adapt, the sooner we can start moving forward."
I looked up at her with a frown as I waved my hands the length of my body. "It's only been a few hours. I think I deserve a grace period to come to terms with this."
She nodded and an embarrassed smile crossed her lips. "You're right, I'm sorry. If you help me we can get this over with but if you keep acting like sullen child then it will take the rest of today and part of tomorrow."
I only wanted to get this over with. I hated shopping with every fiber of my being.
"If you had explained it like that from the beginning then we could have avoided this whole fight."
At five thirty the back of the jeep was full of clothes. Dani admitted earlier that we had gone overboard with our spending but she said my enthusiasm combined with the fact that the prices were much lower than what we would have paid in LA made it worth it.
We decided that we would box the majority of our purchases up and have them shipped to our home rather than pay the airline fees for extra baggage.
At six on the dot we pulled into Jiffy Dip, the oldest burger joint in town.
Built in the fifties, it possessed an old-timey charm that has been lost to the past. I smiled as we walked through the old full glass doors onto the black and white tile flooring. I lovingly ran my hand down the chrome and light blue veneer bar. I couldn't help but to hop on one of the blue metallic vinyl covered stools and spin around gleefully. I did not hold a single bad memory when it came to this place.
The sound of Jeb's laughter brought my attention to the center table where he and Thomas were waiting. Both stood to hug Dani and I before we all took our places.
Dani looked for a menu and the three of us laughed as Thomas pointed to the menu board hanging above the open grill behind the counter. "If it ain't up there they ain't got it."
I leaned closer so only she could hear me. "Forget about calories tonight and don't even think about finding a healthy option here. For you I suggest the barbeque plate."
Dani nodded warily as the waitress approached. I was amazed that it was the same woman who used to wait on me when I was little. Her dark skin had started showing the effects of age, her brown hair had not changed with the times and her small waist had grown a few inches but to me she looked just as lovely as ever.
I wondered if she would recognize me.
"Lands sake is that you Caligirl? You ain't changed one bit." The older woman said.
I nodded and jumped from my seat to hug her. This amazing woman was the closest I had to a mother growing up. If I had a bad day she instinctively knew and brought me a chocolate shake to drink while allowing me vent to her about it.
As Ty, she always built up my ego and encouraged me to get good grades through bribes of extra shakes or desserts. As Cali, when I had my first period she was the person who told me what to buy and helped me through it along with her bribes to keep my grades up. She even went the extra mile by paying me to watch her son in the afternoons until she got off from work.
This woman always knew what to say exactly when I needed to hear it. When I was torn about leaving town, she was another who told me to leave and never look back.
Once again I was feeling ashamed I had lost touch with someone so important to me.
"Yes Miss Bessie. It's good to see you."
Suddenly Bessie Metcalf yelled over her shoulder. "Carl come on out here. I got someone you gotta see."
I recognized the name immediately. Carl was Bessie's husband and he had always been super nice to me. In both lives he was the person who first piqued my interest in martial arts. In hindsight I know it was his way of trying to calm the wild child who had potential but too many problems to gain focus.
He walked over and lifted me into his strong dark arms. "Look at what the cat finally dragged in. Good to see you girl."
I laughed and wrapped my arms around his neck. "Good to see you too Mr. Carl."
Carl caught a glimpse of Dani and his dark brown eyes widened considerably. Almost forgetting I existed, he set me down and offered his hand to her. "And who is this lovely lady?"
I giggled at how Dani had wowed him. I remember many a fight between Carl and Bessie over his flirting with the pretty women who stopped in the diner.
Before I had a chance to say anything Jeb winked at me and spoke up. "You better behave Carl. This is Cali's wife Dani. They are visiting from California."
I shot my brother a dirty look as Miss Bessie grinned at us. "It's okay Cali, I always figured you wound your watch that way. It's been obvious since you were little that men didn't butter your biscuits." She leaned close so only I could hear. "If I'd been raised by your father I'd prefer women too."
She turned towards my wife. "It's nice to meet you Dani."
Dani laughed as she stood to greet the older woman. "Nice to meet you too."
"I never imagined the Good Lord could stack pretty that high." Carl exclaimed as he took Dani's hand and gently kissed the back of it.
I laughed watching Dani blush from the attention.
A few more people walked in who required the Metcalf's attention we quickly placed our orders. While waiting for our food, my brothers and I had the chance to catch up.
Jeb didn't have a girlfriend at the moment, which wasn't all that surprising. I only ever remembered him dating one person and I never met her. The only reason I knew he had someone was from overhearing his phone calls late at night. I remembered her name was Renee and Jeb would stay up all hours talking to her.
Poor Thomas was so focused on the grief of his wife and child leaving that all he did was work. He had no idea where they went, how they were or what he had done wrong and it was eating him alive.
Thomas still lived with Daddy since the house was big enough they could stay out of each other's way and still live comfortably while Jeb had a place close enough to be available if needed. Both still worked at the lumber mill my father owned where Thomas ran first shift and Jeb ran the second.
Dani looked at my large greasy bacon double cheeseburger with extra bacon and extra cheese and an overabundance of fries with mild disgust. "I can't believe you're going to eat that. My arteries are hardening just looking at it."
I laughed as I lifted the large burger with both hands. "Just watch me baby. You can't get a burger like this just anywhere." I winked. "Be glad I didn't get extra onions too."
Dani rolled her eyes. "Thank goodness for that."
The time spent after our food was delivered quickly became a contest between my brothers as to who could tell Dani the most embarrassing story of my past while my wife and I ate and shared a chocolate shake.
I won't share the stories told other than to say Thomas won with a story that involved a field trip, white shorts and my first time of the month ever. It amazed me that my memory and embarrassment of the ordeal was so vivid.
"You poor thing." Dani said as she wiped tears of laughter from her eyes.
I was about to respond when a crowd of people walked in. My brothers saw them and immediately became nervous.
"Wow look at the time. I guess you two need to head back before it gets too late." Jeb said.
I knew something was up. "What's going on?"
"We lost track of time and Dad's church must have just let out. We'll take care of the bill, get out of here." Thomas replied.
I nodded and started to stand as Dani did the same.
"It was great to finally meet both of you. If you ever find yourself in California give us a call." Dani said as she quickly gave my brothers a hug.
"Glad to meet you too. Now ya'll need to get going." Jeb said anxiously.
As we walked across the parking lot I froze when I saw a large man in a custom tailored suit getting out of a brand new Cadillac.
"Shit." I muttered to Dani, my voice laced with panic.
"What's wrong, is he here?" She asked as she started to scan the lot.
"Don't look!" I said, hoping my father would not see us.
I quickly turned us toward the jeep as I heard his voice behind us. "Excuse me young ladies."
We kept walking but he followed. "I said excuse me."
"Go on the car, I don't think he knows it's you. I'll take care of it." Dani whispered in my ear.
I nodded as Dani turned. "May I help you?"
"Yes young lady, I wondered if you belonged to a local church?" He asked.
Dani shook her head. "No, I'm just in town visiting some friends. I'm headed home now. Have a nice night."
She turned away as my father grabbed her arm. "Hasn't anyone told you it's impolite to walk away from an elder?"
Dani spun around angrily. "Hasn't anyone told you it's impolite to place your hands on a stranger?"
I eased myself back out of the jeep as they continued arguing.
"I noticed your wedding ring, you should be with your husband in a place of worship on the Sabbath instead of visiting friends. This is God’s day and it should be spent in devotion to him. It's plum shameful for you not to be by your husband’s side. Women these days need to remember their place." My father said haughtily.
I saw my wife's anger peak and knew there was going to be trouble.
Dani laughed at his audacity. "Don't use that tone on me old man. I know your God, I’ve met your God and I know the God you claim to worship would never use a man like you as a messenger. He is kind, loving and all inclusive."
Her right eye started to twitch and I knew there was about to be serious trouble as she leaned closer to him. "I've met your kind before, all high and mighty hiding behind a faith that you don't believe in order to mask the evil in your heart. I can see what passes as your heart old man and it is true evil. If you must know, my wife is in the car waiting on me as we speak." She made sure to emphasize the fact that she had a wife.
"Degenerate harlot." My father screamed as he lifted his hand to strike Dani.
I had never witnessed Dani so angry as I felt a storm suddenly roll in whipping her hair everywhere. If I didn’t act quickly she was going to unleash her powers and I had no idea what would happen if she did that. Before I realized what I was doing I was wrestling him to the ground with his arm behind his back.
"Daddy, I swear to the Goddess above that I will break your fucking arm if you ever raise it toward my wife again."
"Callista Dawn?" My father gasped as he suddenly stopped struggling to break free from my hold.
Quite a crowd started to surround us but I ignored them. Pure contempt laced my voice as I leaned close to his ear. "Oh yes it's me Daddy. You may have Jeb and Thomas fooled into believing you've changed but I know your true colors. You just threatened the woman I love and I can't let that happen."
"What are you doing to Brother Joe?" A woman I recognized as my biggest tormentor and the class slut from high school shrieked.
"Shut up Daphne Ray this is between me and my Daddy." I yelled over to her.
Next thing I knew she held her arms in front of her body with both hands tightly gripping her bible as she starting talking quietly.
I looked up at her. "What the hell are you doing Daphne?"
"Praying for your wicked soul." She replied haughtily.
I laughed. "Save your breath. You seem to forget I know your sins. Save your judgmental ways for the next time you look in the mirror."
Her lips tightened in anger as my father started yelling, "Just go back to that cesspool of transgression you crawled from. I should have known you would turn out like this. You are no better than your mother."
I bent his arm higher behind his back making him wince in pain. "How dare you speak ill of her and what do you care how I turned out? You only cared about me after you got drunk and needed some sick sex from your daughter. You're a twisted, evil man."
Daphne tried to jump on my back but Dani grabbed her quickly by her hair. "You lay a finger on her and you will regret it until your dying day."
The sound of sirens growing louder made my father brave. I'm sure he loved the idea that I would soon be arrested. "I never did any such thing. How dare you make such wild accusations?"
Anger took over and it felt as if I was about to explode. "You know you did it. Tell the truth! Let all these people know how you treated me."
I felt a shiver work its way from my toes and work its way through my body until it escaped my fingertips before my father started crying. "I admit it. I abused you physically and forced myself on you after everyone else went to bed. I made you do horrible things just to satisfy my carnal urges. I was a terrible father because I thought you were not mine. I killed your mother because I thought she was unfaithful but now that you have grown up I can see that you are mine and I was wrong."
I remained on his back, stunned motionless until Dani walked over and pulled me off my father as the police the witnesses called placed cuffs on him.
Soon Thomas and Jeb were at my side hugging me.
"How much of that did you know?" I asked my brothers. I had a feeling they knew about the physical aspect of my childhood but wanted to be sure.
I felt the shiver work through my body again before Jeb said, "Everything." At the same time as Thomas said, "Nothing but I suspected the abuse."
Thomas, Dani and I all turned to Jeb.
"Did you just say everything?" I asked.
He nodded sadly. "I was a kid and I walked in right as Dad pushed her down the stairs. He told me he had done it before to my mother would do the same to me if I told anyone. I knew what he was doing to you too but I couldn't stop it, I was scared. I mean the police believed him when he told them your mother tripped. What could I do? I did stay in that God forsaken house until I could get you out. I took the money we gave you from his strongbox then moved out the same day you did. I'm sorry Cali; I didn't know what to do. I was a kid."
I wanted to be angry with him. I don't know why but I sensed nothing but the truth as he spoke. He did do the best he could to protect me but as he said, he was too young to be able to do anything more and Daddy had warped his mind.
I hugged him tightly. "Thank you for everything." I waved Thomas over to join us. "That goes for you too. I never would have survived without ya'll in my life."
"I don't blame you brother. Remember I lived in that house too and I know how he was." Thomas said to Jeb.
An emotional hour later Dani and I were in the jeep headed home. She was driving since I was an emotional wreck.
"That was interesting." She said as soon as we hit the highway.
I nodded. "I love the way you have with understatements."
She smiled. "Seriously though, I think I've figured out two of your gifts."
I turned towards her. "I think I might have a built in lie detector so what is the other?"
"Why do you say that?" Dani asked.
I shrugged. "I'm not sure but all day I could tell when someone was being truthful or not."
"I did notice you were able to call people on their lies today but I thought it was just because you knew them so well. This is going to suck if I can't lie."
I giggled. "I don't think it works on you since you totally got me this morning with that hideous dress. Besides I don't need a lie detector with you. You can never lie to me when it comes to something serious."
Dani nodded knowingly. "That's true."
"So what is my other power?" I asked eagerly.
Dani sighed. "It's still two. You are now super fast when you want to be. You were on your father and had him to the ground before I realized what you were doing."
I scratched my head. "Yeah, I can see that. It was like I imagined what I wanted to do and next thing I knew I had done it. So what is the other?"
"I could be wrong but I think you can make people tell the truth. I noticed you did it to Tori, your father and your brothers."
I leaned back into my seat. "You know, I think you're right. I felt a little shiver run through my body right before they came clean."
Dani smiled. "Those are pretty cool gifts you know."
"I know, I just need to learn how to use them. I wonder what else I have but don't know about."
"I have no idea but I doubt someone as wise as Mother would give you anything you couldn't handle."
As we pulled into the compound Ryan stepped out of his trailer and waved us down.
"My phone's been ringing off the hook for the last hour. Sounds like you had an interesting day." Ryan said as he leaned into the window on my side of the jeep.
I grinned. "If my day got any crazier, they'd have to add a wing on the asylum to hold all of it."
"All I know is you sure stirred up a hornets’ nest." Ryan said as he smirked at me.
Dani laughed. "It did not take either of you long to fall back into your old accents."
Ryan looked up at her. "I might be all citified now but I was country born and country bred and I'll be that way until I'm country dead."
I offered my closed hand to Ryan for a fist bump. "Dang right, preach on brother."
Ryan's face adopted a confused expression as he paused and stared at me. A moment later he shook his head and rested his hand in the car on top of mine. "All joking aside Cali, how are you holding up? Mom said your father confessed to doing some terrible things."
I nodded as I started crying. "He did. I'm numb right now and don't know how to feel."
He squeezed my shoulder. "Well, I'm here if you need me."
I wiped my eyes. "As always and I appreciate it. Thanks."
"We need to go home and unload so we can get to bed. Feel free to stop by tomorrow." Dani said to Ryan.
He hopped on the hood. "I'll help ya. I know you two had a long day and an extra set of hands won't hurt."
Dani laughed and popped the clutch, trying to scare him but being the world-class stuntman that Ryan is, it did not faze him.
As we unloaded the jeep I couldn't help but notice my friend staring at me with such sadness when he thought I wasn't looking. His mood was starting to effect my own.
After helping with the last of the bags Ryan helped himself to a beer.
I grinned. "Would you like something to drink?"
"A beer would be great." He replied with a wink as he twisted the top off the amber bottle.
I watched Ryan take a seat on the couch and realized that our friendship was still strong. Our place was still as comfortable to him as his own. I loved that I never had to ask if he needed anything, he just helped himself.
We were still as close but it was different type of closeness. Tonight he grabbed some of the extra shopping bags from me so that I didn't overdo it whereas before he would have challenged me to take on more.
Now we had what I could best describe as a sibling dynamic. He was still like a brother to me but I was now a sister to him and as a sister he was more protective.
He used to challenge me at every turn and push me to be better at whatever we were doing. Now he offered gentle words of encouragement and was careful not to upset me.
Before we talked about anything and everything that bothered us. Now, some subjects were off limits. I no longer heard every detail of his latest conquest after a date, instead I would receive a sanitized version of events because he was worried I would not approve.
I felt as if I was adapting to the changes occurring to me rather well but the change in dynamics between me and my best friend was almost unbearable. I tried to maintain a cheerful façade as I joined him the living room.
"What's wrong?" Ryan asked after I took a seat on the arm of the chair Dani was sitting in.
"Nothing, just been a long day." I replied, doing my best sound upbeat.
"I understand, look I need to get going. I have to be onset early in the morning." Ryan said after quickly finishing his beer.
We stood to escort him to the door and after quick hugs for both Dani and I, Ryan disappeared into the darkness toward his trailer.
"I'm really going to miss my best friend." I lamented after I closed the door.
"What do you mean?" Dani asked.
"I don't know how to explain it but things are different between us. I know he will always be a part of our lives but it's not the same as before." I wiped my eyes. "Damn I'm crying again."
Dani pulled me into a hug. "It's okay to cry, especially over something as important as this. At least he's still around."
I sighed. "I'm thankful he is. I don't know if I would have escaped with my sanity in my old life without him."
Dani guided me to the couch and allowed me to have a long cry. After ten minutes I dried my eyes and was amazed that I felt better.
"Feels good to let it out doesn't it?" Dani said lovingly as she stroked my hair.
I nodded. "Thank you for being here."
She smiled. "There is no place else I'd rather be." She stood and grabbed my now smaller hand. "Let's go to bed."
Dani paused inside the bedroom door and reached into the pink-stripped bag before pulling out a very sexy taupe color satin slip with black lace appliqués.
My eyes immediately lit up. "Now we're talking. I can't wait to take that off you."
Dani smiled as she shook her head. "This isn't for me my love."
I backed away. "Oh no, you can't expect me to wear that?"
She nodded as she lifted the tops I was wearing away from my body. "Why not? You certainly have the body for it."
I shook my head as she released the front clasp of my bra. "I…I…I can't."
Dani smiled again as she released the button on my shorts. She slowly worked them down my legs. "Yes you can. I promise to make it worth it."
I sighed because she was weakening my defenses. "Baby, it just feels wrong."
She bent in front of me and placed her fingers in the sides on my panties as she nibbled playfully through the satin fabric covering the new area between my legs. "How do you know? Have you tried wearing it with this body?"
She had me utterly and completely willing to bend to her will. I knew she would never hurt me or humiliate me. I nodded as I stepped out of my panties and held my arms up so she could slip the garment on me.
I gasped at the feeling of the satin on my skin. My body suddenly became covered with goose bumps from the pleasant sensations that engulfed me.
She ever so gently lifted me into her arms and placed a passionate kiss on my needy lips. I wrapped my arms around her neck and gave her total control as she walked the few steps to our bed.
As we lay next to each other in bed Dani reached across and started to massage my right breast through the satin while caressing my nipple with her thumb.
"Oh that feels nice." I said in surprise.
Dani nodded before she slid the fabric away and leaned down to take the same area between her lips.
I squirmed and ran my fingers through her shoulder length blonde hair.
Dani looked up and grinned. "You like that?"
I nodded. "Very much."
Her hand ran down my body. "Just wait my love. I'm going to introduce you to sensations you never knew existed."
Two hours later I was curled up in Dani's arms as she cuddled me. She was true to her word and I was exhausted but in extreme bliss as a result.
In the past I would have rolled over and been ready to sleep but now I craved even more contact with my love. Seeing how I could barely move, I was content to simply be in her arms.
"Is that how it is for you all the time?" I asked in awe.
Dani nodded and she kissed the back of my head. "Mostly yes. You've always taken care of me."
I yawned. "Thank you for taking care of me."
Dani laughed. "It was my pleasure. I plan on taking care of you like this for the rest of our lives."
I giggled before I turned to face her. "That's not what I meant but I'm all for more of this. Not right now though, I can't move my arms yet. I meant thank you for all your help today, I wouldn't have made it without you. I have the feeling I'll still have hard time adjusting but I'll keep trying because I have you by my side."
Dani laughed again as her fingers ran up and down my arm. "I knew what you meant. I'll always be here for you." She placed a long loving kiss on my lips. "I love you."
As she pulled me tight to her chest I looked up. "I love you too. Please be patient with me though. I know I'll probably mess things up while I'm learning."
The next morning I awoke with an urgent need for the restroom. Still half asleep I eased my way from under Dani's arm carefully so not to wake her.
I raised the seat and started to grab a part of my body I no longer had. I sighed as I realized what I had done.
I turned to sit and had to stifle a scream since I forgot to put the seat back down and my butt fell into the rather cool water. I barely managed to jump up and set the seat back down before I finally emptied my bladder.
After a quick shower, I grabbed my new robe and slipped it on as I made my way to the kitchenette to fix breakfast.
Cooking was a new experience in this body. Nothing was the same as before, I had to climb on a chair to reach things on the top shelf now. I had to reach a little further to grab things I thought were within arm’s length.
I never would have imagined how often breasts got in the way. They never seemed to be an issue to Dani but it felt like every other time I moved I was bumping them on something or accidentally hitting them. Even something as simple as carrying the tray with our food was different. I had to hold the tray lower so that my breasts didn't end up in the scrambled eggs.
I brought the tray in the bedroom and sat it on the dresser before leaning down to gently awaken my sleeping angel with a kiss.
"Good morning gorgeous." I said as soon as she opened her eyes.
She slowly stretched her perfect body. "Good morning beautiful."
I smiled and handed her a cup of coffee. "Are you hungry? I have breakfast ready."
Her bottom lip poked out slightly and her brows furrowed. "I wanted to do that for you."
I giggled and leaned forward to kiss her again. "Now I see what you were talking about yesterday. Pouting is kinda hot." She grinned slightly before I continued talking. "Baby, it looks like I am still an early riser and I still enjoy cooking for you. Don't sweat the small stuff since something tells me we are going to have to face some large obstacles as I try to adapt."
Dani nodded in defeat. "You're right. Thank you for breakfast."
"You're welcome and thank you again for last night." I said with a wink added in for good measure.
"What time is my appointment with Gabe?" I asked as Dani enjoyed her breakfast.
She held up a finger as she swallowed and took a sip of OJ.
"Ten, we have plenty of time."
After Dani finished eating I started to gather the plates before she stopped me. "I'll take care of this while you take a shower. You'll find it takes longer to get ready now."
I gave her a quick kiss. "I already showered so now it's your turn while I clean up the kitchen."
After I finished washing the dishes I walked into the bedroom and saw Dani had laid a Kelly green cropped halter-top and denim shorts out on the bed. I picked up the small scrap of cloth masquerading as a top and walked back into the bathroom. "You don't expect me to wear this do you?"
Dani nodded. "It will be easier since he's going to want to check your ribs. Trust me, you don't want to wear another top and have him make you take it off."
I held the poor excuse for clothing in front of me in disgust. "I might as well just wear a sports bra and nothing else for as much coverage as this provides."
Dani raised her thin brows in amusement. "Now that's an idea. I'm sure Gabe would love that. Let's also get your matching yoga shorts to go with it."
She laughed when she saw my panicked expression. "Calm down, I was joking. The outfit I laid out does show a lot of skin but is also tasteful enough that it doesn't give off the wrong impression."
I sighed. "I guess you’re right but I'm going to need your help with the bra. I'm not good with the halter ones with weird straps."
Dani laughed. "I'm always happy to help you there."
I left her to finish getting ready and fifteen minutes later Dani walked in the room with her phone in her hand. As she helped me get dressed her expression became serious. "I have to go back to work today and they want me on location in case the applications come off so I can't go with you but I need to warn you about Gabe."
My expression became puzzled. "What do you mean?"
"He tends to get abit handsy if you let him and forceful if you refuse. I know you've never had to deal with it but it's better to be prepared."
I felt my anger spike. "Has he ever been that way with you? I'll kill him."
Surprised by my sudden outburst Dani stepped back and stared at me. "I actually think you would. Wow, I've never seen this side of you before. Is this new?"
I shook my head. "Not at all, you've just never told me anything like this before. Now answer my question please."
Dani shook her head. "No. I've never been injured bad enough to need to see him and besides I think he was scared of you before but I've heard a lot of the other girls talk about it."
I calmed down a little. "I never would have guessed. He's always been nice to me."
Dani nodded knowingly. "Why would you have guessed? No offense, but you were a guy and guys are generally oblivious to things like that."
"I guess you're right. I have so much to learn."
She leaned down to give me a reassuring kiss. "I have to go but you know where I am and I'll have my phone beside me all day. Call me if you need me and I'll come running."
I paused outside as I arrived at the medical trailer. Unlike the trailer Dani and I lived in, this one was more like an actual building. I laughed to myself when I remembered growing up; a person was considered well to do if they could afford to buy a double wide.
As I stepped through the open door I quickly sensed that Gabe was the only one in the building beside myself.
He smiled as I entered. "Hello Cali, you're looking better. Let's head on back and I'll check you out."
Something about his expression made me leery and instantly I felt uneasy. The way he said 'check you out' bothered me as well.
I didn't know if my concern was genuine or because of what Dani told me as I looked at him across the room. "Where is everyone?"
He smiled. "My nurse is waiting for me on the set; I'm due there as soon as I am done with you."
I nodded. "I can come back later if you're needed elsewhere."
Gabe shook his head and smiled as he walked to my side before forcefully guiding me through the door toward the hall. "No need, this won't take long. Just go on back and get undressed. I'll be back shortly."
An internal alarm I didn't know I had started going off at full blast. "Why do I have to get undressed? You can check my ribs just fine with what I have on." I paused and turned toward the door. "I'll come back later."
Before I had a chance to move away Gabe had me pinned against the wall with his body. Within seconds he ripped open my top and unclasped my front opening bra. I struggled to get away as his hand kneaded my breast.
"You're not going anywhere. I'm going to give you something your so-called wife can't. You don't really expect me to believe you're a lesbian do you? You and Dani are too cute and too feminine. I know you want it." He breathed into my ear.
I panicked as his lips covered mine, my mind flooded with false, but vivid, memories of what my father had done. Thankfully the panic quickly subsided and a rage filled the void.
I bit the tongue he had forced into my mouth as I grabbed the hand that was on my breast, bending his thumb back further than nature ever intended.
I released his tongue and head butted him before I spat out the blood I had caused to form from my bite.
I glared at my attacker, who in my previous life I had considered a friend. "You sorry bastard! I'm going to make you regret ever laying a finger on me."
He swung his free fist at my face that I easily ducked and his hand became lodged in the flimsy wall.
I darted behind him and forced his arm behind his back the same way as I did with my father. He jerked his arm out of the wall, aiming his elbow at my head. "Bitch, I'm going to kill you."
I easily ducked his attempt and kicked the back of his knee, forcing him to the floor. He landed forcefully with me still on his back. I reached into my back pocket and pulled out my phone. "I'm calling the police and you're going to jail."
I didn't know if 911 would work this far out so I called the only number I knew. I recognized the security guard's voice that answered. "Pete this is Cali, I need you to send some security to the medical trailer immediately."
Before I had the chance to hear his reply Gabe rammed the back of his head into my face, which forced my phone to fall to the floor.
"You stupid lesbo. God gave you your looks to entice men, not to waste them with another woman. I am going to ruin you. One word from me and no studio will ever hire you again. You should have played nice like all the others and not caused any trouble. Now, not only will I hurt you but I'm going to have fun with your precious Dani after I have the police put you in jail."
Something within me snapped when he mentioned her. "Don't… you… dare… threaten… my… wife!" I replied as my fury built within. I buried my knee in his kidneys after each word.
Although I knew he was in serious pain he started laughing. "Do you really think anyone will believe you? I'm a respected physician and you are nothing but a dick-teasing dyke. Feel free to tell anyone willing to listen the truth but nobody will believe you."
I was raring back to completely incapacitate him when I was startled by a noise behind me.
"I believe her." A deep voice said from the doorway.
I looked up to see three security guards staring at us. They moved in quickly to help me off Gabe before they cuffed him and called the local police.
One guard made a phone call while the other two grabbed the so-called doctor and led him outside.
The only guard of the three I knew disappeared into a room while still on the phone and returned with a sheet that he placed over my shoulders. He also handed me a wet washcloth explaining that I had a busted lip.
In everything that happened, the fact I was bleeding and practically topless had not registered in me.
"Thanks Pete." I mumbled as I hurriedly clasped my bra and wrapped the sheet around my chest.
He nodded as he ended his call. "You're welcome. How are you holding up Cali?"
I shook my head as my body trembled. "I don't know."
One of the other guards called for him. He looked over at me and smiled. "Hang in there girl, I'll be right back."
I nodded and watched as he disappeared into the other room. I wondered where my gifts were, Mother said she did this to give me power but I had never felt so powerless. If I were still a man this would have never happened and if I weren't flooded by painful memories that had been implanted I would have reacted quicker. The tears started to flow as I realized how weak I had become.
A few minutes later a strong arm drape across my shoulder. "Shh, it's okay. You're safe now. He can't hurt you."
I nodded and wiped my eyes. "Thanks Pete."
He smiled. "You're welcome, don't worry about what he said. This place has security cameras we installed last week after another woman informed us of what he was doing, plus we have your call recorded and heard everything he said. Mind if I ask where you learned to fight like that?"
"I've been a student of the martial arts since I was eight for what good it did. Look at me, I'm a mess."
Pete shook his head. "Don't sell yourself short Cali. I saw the footage, he is almost twice your size and yet you only walked away with a bloodied lip. Judging from the kicks I saw you throw I'd be willing to bet he pisses blood for a week. If you ask me, I'd say you did pretty damned good."
We were interrupted when a tall, lightly overweight man wearing a sheriff's uniform walked in.
He came to my side and lifted me into a hug. "Hey there Caligirl. I wanted to see ya while you were around but not like this. How ya holding up?"
I attempted to smile as I hugged Ryan's father. "As well as can be expected Mr. Crews."
"This area is like a giant bad luck charm for you isn't it? I heard the airline lost all your clothes then your father last night and now this. You deserve better."
I smiled at the man who was like a father to me in many ways since I ate most meals at his house growing up. "It's not that bad, I have a great life now."
He smiled as he released me. "Glad to hear it. I saw the video and heard the call, all I need is to hear your side of what happened."
I told him everything, from beginning to end and after I finished he smiled at me. "I'm proud of you Caligirl. You really put him in his place, glad to know all that training you did paid off. I had always hoped you and my boy would end up together but it wasn't meant to be, I'm just happy you two have remained close."
I nodded. "Thank you. Ryan is like a brother to me."
He gave me another hug. "Go on home, I have your number and if we need anything else I'll give you a call."
I returned his embrace. "Thank you Mr. Crews please say hi to your wife for me."
As I walked back to the trailer I wanted nothing more than to call Dani and ask her to come home to hold me so I would know everything would be okay but I knew she was working.
I always tried my best to shield her from my problems. It was my job to take care of her, not cause her more worry. She had enough to deal with between my change and her first day back to work.
Instead I walked back to our trailer alone. Once inside I poured myself a stiff drink of bourbon. Normally it would take about three glasses to feel the effects but apparently not anymore. Before I even finished the first glass my head was swimming and the gravity of my changes truly hit me. I fell across the couch with uncontrollable sobs as I thought about all that happened and realized how weak I now was…
I had cried more in the last day and half than I had in my entire life.
I now had to live the rest of my life in a body that didn't feel like mine.
A tiny, weak, feminine body that I would be stuck in for the rest of my life.
My best friend and I weren't as close anymore.
I had two sets of memories of horrific abuse caused by my father.
My father killed my mother because of me.
My father had almost attacked Dani for being in a relationship with a woman…me.
I was now and forever a woman, a woman that someone I used to believe was a friend, tried to force himself upon.
I was still curled in a fetal position sobbing at the end of the couch when Dani ran through the front door with a panicked expression. Her eyes locked on me and she rushed to scoop me into her arms holding me tight.
"Oh no Cali. Are you hurt?"
I couldn't respond. I only cried even harder, partly in relief to have her near and partly in embarrassment at her finding me like this.
She ran her hand through my hair. "It will be okay baby. I love you, we'll get through this. I should have gone with you."
I shook my head and finally found my voice. "No, I'm glad you weren't there. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if you had to go through that. If I had my way you wouldn't have found out about it. It's my problem not yours."
Dani's body tensed and she sat me up beside her as her eyes twitched with an anger I had never seen aimed at me. "Why wouldn't you tell me about this? We are together forever as one, which was stated at both marriage ceremonies. If it affects you, it affects me or do you not think I'm strong enough to support you?"
I became defensive given the accusatory tone of her voice. "I know we are together forever but I also vowed to protect you and make you happy. You have enough on you without me crying to you about things I can't control. I always believed you deserved better than me." I waved my hands over my small feminine body. "And now I know it to be true."
Dani stood and sent the glass I had been drinking from flying across the room. "Of all the self-righteous, pretentious bullshit. Do you really believe I'm that shallow? You really think your love for me is greater than what I feel for you?"
I stared at the floor silently, suddenly ashamed of my feelings as she continued to rail on me.
"How can you possibly think that? Have I been that bad of a wife that you do not know the depth of my love?"
I looked up. "No Baby. You are perfect in every way. I…I…I believe it's my job to shield you from as much as possible. I love you too much to let you share in my pain and confusion."
Dani sat back down next to me. "And I love you too much to let you go through this alone. If you hurt, I hurt. If you laugh, I laugh. If you cry, I cry. We are together as one. It's not healthy to hold it in. Talk to me, tell me everything you are feeling."
I nodded and the tears started anew as I shared all my thoughts and fears with the love of my life.
As soon as I finished Dani pulled me close. "Wow, I thought you were adapting pretty well, all things considered. I had no idea you were struggling so much. Let's talk these through and maybe you'll see that you're doing amazing."
"Okay, let's start with the most recent. Pete let me look at the tape and I must say I'm proud of you."
I looked over. "Why? I panicked. I was slow to react."
Dani grinned. "If you did, it didn't show. You were lightning fast. Would you believe me if I told you it was less than a minute from the time he ripped your top until you called security and less than five minutes from the start of the attack until Pete arrived?"
I shook my head. "It felt like longer. Wow."
Dani smiled. "Wow is right. Now about the other things, you know before we married I mainly identified as lesbian so that's not an issue for me at all. So long as I am with you everything else is gravy, as you like to say."
I giggled. "I always liked gravy."
"Your dual memories about your father only make you stronger and more compassionate. I think you'll be able to recognize the signs of abuse no matter the situation and be able to help the victims because you can relate."
I nodded. "That makes sense."
Her voice was gentle as she broached the topic of my best friend. "I know you're upset about Ryan but it's not like he's gone. I bet you will soon discover that in many ways you two are closer now than you ever were."
I sighed. "I hope so. I don't think I could go on without him in our life in some capacity."
Dani turned us so we were face to face. I think she wanted me to fully grasp what she said next.
"Now, about your changes. I think you are gorgeous and perfect in every way. That's not to say that I didn't also think that every time I looked at Ty but if you had to become a woman I couldn't have custom ordered one as beautiful as you."
I shrugged. "If you say so. I don't recognize myself in a mirror."
She smiled lovingly. "I could look at you all day and never tire of the vision before me. Oh how I wish you could see yourself as I see you."
I leaned into her chest. "That's how I feel every morning when I open my eyes and see you."
Dani kissed me tenderly. "I know you aren't used to this body yet but think about your favorite pair of boots."
My expression became puzzled and I pursed my lips. "How do my boots play into this?"
Dani grinned. "When you first got them, they were tight and uncomfortable. You would come home and couldn't wait to take them off but as time went on…you gradually got used to them. Now they are comfortable and most of the time you forget you are wearing them. You reached a point where you couldn't remember what you wore before you bought them."
Her hands tightened around mine. "Eventually you will get used to your new body. Right now it feels odd and uncomfortable but with time and patience, you'll get used to it. Before you know it, you will have a hard time remembering what it was like to live as a man."
I considered what she said for moment before I leaned forward to kiss her passionately. "Thank you. I'm sorry."
Dani smiled sweetly. "Anytime my love. We will get through this together but only if you include me and let me know what's going on. I know the manly thing to do is to try to shield me from the worst of it but the reality of our situation is… and I know you hate to hear this… you aren't a man anymore. Being a woman doesn't make you weak but it does make you need to handle things differently and I have more experience in that area than you."
I grinned and replied as I always have when I knew her mind was set. "Yes dear."
She grabbed my side causing me to squeal and back away quickly.
Dani's eyes lit up. "Oh, you're ticklish now? This will be fun."
It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out her plans as she leaned forward with her fingers extended. I had never been ticklish before but Dani had always been and many times I used it to my advantage. It was time for her to pay me back.
I giggled and started backing away with my love quickly in pursuit.
Dani's chase was interrupted by a knock on the door. She glanced at me and grinned. "Baby, you need to put another blouse on."
I looked down at the damaged crop top. "Shoot, I forgot. I'm not used to being modest yet. Sorry."
Dani smiled. "I don't mind at all. You can walk around naked if you like, I love looking at you but we have company and I'm the only one who gets to see you like that."
I laughed as the knocking became louder. "I'll be right back."
After putting on a green tank top I walked back to the living room and saw Dani talking to a dark haired, overly tanned, middle aged man. I immediately recognized the executive producer Aaron Brachman.
Neither person was smiling and if I were to guess I would say Dani was giving him an update about me.
Aaron was the third generation of his family to produce movies. He had a golden touch when it came to choosing projects to back. His movies were always massive hits that critics hated and audiences loved.
I was lucky in that Aaron recognized my knowledge and skills long before anyone else. He took me under his wing early on and we had built a level of trust between us to the point of not having to lie or say what we thought the other wanted to hear. Over the years Aaron and I had become rather comfortable working together and he always paid me very well for not having to worry that the stunts would be spectacular.
We didn't exactly hang out away from the set since we were so different but we always knew we could count on each other for honest advice or opinions whenever needed. I searched my new memories and discovered we were closer now than before. Aaron was more like a surrogate father.
"Hey Aaron." I said as I hugged him.
He was trembling slightly and his embrace was tighter than I ever remembered receiving from him. "Hi Cali. I just heard about Gabe and had to come check on you. If I had known what kind of man he was I never would have allowed him to step foot on my lot."
I shrugged my shoulders. "I know you wouldn't. I'm okay I guess."
"You guess?" Aaron replied with a nervous laugh. "Cali you have had a rather traumatic week. I'm worried about you."
I smiled and reached for Dani's hand. "I'm not going to lie and say everything is great cause it's not but I don't have to go through this alone."
Aaron grinned. "I'm glad you have each other." His expression became more serious. "I know Gabe is all sorts of a terrible person but he is still an accredited doctor so his orders about you staying off set still stand."
I started to protest but he stopped me. "I don't want to hear it Cali. I'd like to send you home but the fact is we may still need your expertise if a problem arises. I want you to relax, take this time to unwind. You are from here so take the time to reconnect to your past and hopefully, seeing things through adult eyes, it will allow you to finally mend some old wounds."
He made some valid points although he didn't realize how valid. I knew that I needed to go back to the places that haunted my nightmares. I had noticed, after seeing my brothers, my father and basically everyone else, that as soon as I made contact with a person or a place. My older memory became weaker and the new one became what I could best describe as my default. It was the place my mind went first.
I looked into his kind, wise eyes. "Thank you Aaron. I think you're right."
Aaron and Dani exchanged shocked glances. I couldn't help but giggle at the thought that they didn't expect me to give in so easily. "See, I can be reasonable sometimes."
Aaron laughed. "So it seems. I have rented you a car for the duration so you don't have to jar your fillings loose in those jeeps and have arranged for Dani to have extra time off. She'll still have to work but I've slipped in a few days she can get away."
I moved closer to Aaron and wrapped my arms around his neck and placed a small kiss on his cheek. "Thanks for caring. I love you."
He blushed slightly before he smiled. "I love you too. You are easy to care about, plus you're too valuable to let anything happen to you. Your stunts are what makes my movies so great."
I laughed. "I wouldn't say that. I think the stunts are just icing on an already delicious cake."
Aaron laughed loudly. "I like that. I need to go, don't hesitate to call if you need anything cause I won't hesitate to call if we have a problem."
I nodded as he stood. Dani placed her arm around my waist as we escorted him to the door.
She turned to me as we watched him walk away. "He's a good man."
I smiled. "He's like the father I always wanted."
Dani nodded. "I can see why. I have to admit you surprised me by agreeing so easily to his request you take time off."
I went on to explain my thought process that led to my agreement.
Dani nodded again thoughtfully. "That makes sense. Wow a day and half as a woman and you're already starting to get wiser."
I laughed and poked her in the ribs causing her to squeal and jump backwards.
An evil grin crossed her face. "Oh yeah, thanks for reminding me. I had already forgotten that you're now ticklish too."
I giggled before turning toward the hall to get away.
Dani caught me before I reached our bedroom. She lifted me up and tossed me on our bed before her fingers went wild discovering every ticklish part of my new body.
"What do you want to do with the rest of our day?" Dani asked, as we remained cuddled in a postcoital bliss.
"Stay right here." I replied contently.
"As tempting as that idea is, I don't want you to learn to hide."
I frowned. "I'm not hiding. It's just the only time I feel like everything is going to be okay is when I'm in yours arms."
Dani smiled. "As nice as it is to know I'm your safe zone, you have to live. You've stepped out in the world twice and both times would be considered traumatic in and of themselves. If you add in the what you've been through in the past week it would be easy to hide away."
I sighed. "Very easy."
Dani kissed my forehead. "I know, which is why we need to have fun today. Let's take a quick shower and get dressed."
After we stepped out of the shower I put on my bra and panties and waited patiently while Dani dressed. She paused and gave me a puzzled look. "You can get dressed you know."
I smiled. "I was just waiting on you to pick out something."
Dani shook her head. "Nope, that's your job."
I stared at her bewildered. "Me? How am I supposed to know what to wear?"
She grinned at me. "Wearing these type clothes is not a new experience and after seven years together I would think you have learned a thing or two even if it was by accident. We are going to spend the day outside having fun so what would be appropriate?"
I sighed and walked over to the bags of new clothing. I picked out a light blue striped cold shoulder top and white shorts.
Dani nodded with approval as I put my new clothes on. "Now, what type of shoes will go with that?"
I dug in the boxes of shoes and retrieved a pair of white gladiator sandals. "How about these?" I asked.
Dani walked over to give me a kiss. "I'm impressed. Did Mother give you any memories concerning makeup?"
I searched my mind and had no memories of applying my own makeup but I remembered all the times I watched my wife work. "No but I think I might be able to do it with a few pointers."
Dani nodded and led me to the small table we had set up as her vanity. "You need very little eyeliner and mascara. Don't overdo it, we want to enhance your beautiful eyes, not overwhelm them."
I attempted to do as she said. After my third attempt I turned to her in frustration. "You make it look so easy."
Dani laughed as she cleaned my eyes. "I'll do it this time but we need to work on it every day until you have it down."
After she finished, I got dressed and slipped my driver's license along with some cash into one back pocket and my phone into the other before walking toward the door.
Dani stopped me. "Aren't you forgetting something?" She asked amusingly.
I ran through my mental checklist. "Nope, I'm all good."
Dani made a tsk sound. "Not quite baby. You need a purse."
I rolled my eyes. "Do I have to carry one? Can't I just keep anything I need in yours?"
She shook her head. "No, we aren't always going to go everywhere together. You have to get used to carrying one at all times."
I stuck out my bottom lip and crossed my arms over my breasts. "Do I have too?"
Dani laughed and launched herself at me, taking my bottom lip between her teeth. "What have I told you about pouting?"
I grinned. "My memory is foggy right now. Why don't you remind me."
She swatted my butt quickly making me yelp. "I'd love to but I'm getting hungry for more than just you." Her tone became more serious. "I'm not joking about carrying a purse, it's just as important to a woman as a wallet is to a man."
I sighed. "You win."
A few minutes later we walked out of the trailer to see a brand new, bright red Dodge Challenger parked in front. Dani started laughing as soon as she saw it. "Aaron knows you well."
I nodded and laughed. "He sure does. I know this goes without saying but I'm driving."
Dani laughed along with me. "I had no doubt of that as soon as I saw it. I forgot my phone so go ahead and start the car while I get it."
I jumped behind the wheel and was once again reminded how small I had become. With the car adjusted to Aaron I couldn't reach the pedals and could barely see over the steering wheel. I moved the seat as far forward as I could and tilted the wheel down. After both had reached their limits I slammed my head into the center of the steer wheel in frustration. I readjusted everything and stepped out of the car with tears flooding from my eyes.
I threw the keys at Dani. "You have to drive."
Dani was surprised at my sudden mood swing. "Why?"
I shook my head as I opened the passenger's side door and hopped in the car.
She got in the driver's side and stared at me. "Are you going to tell me or not?"
I dropped my head in my hands. "I'm too small. I can't reach the pedals."
I could see her eyes found amusement at the situation as she pulled me into a hug. I was half expecting her to make a joke but she didn't. "I'm sorry Baby. I'll call Aaron and see about getting another car."
"Thank you for not laughing." I said as I wiped away the tears.
Dani's grip on me tightened. "I know I've made a few jokes at your expense and I will probably make more but I do it to break the tension not to hurt you, never to hurt you. You know that don't you?"
I nodded. "Yes I know."
Dani smiled and kissed the top of my head. "Good, I know this is difficult and it breaks my heart as much as it does yours that you can't drive this. It was the first real smile I've seen on your face outside of the bedroom since everything happened."
I listened as Dani called Aaron explaining that they needed a different car. It upset me when Dani had to explain why I couldn't drive it but she told me later that it was because Aaron's feelings were hurt that we didn't like his gesture. She suddenly smiled at whatever he said on the other ended and agreed that whatever it was, was a wonderful idea and she thanked him profusely.
As soon as she ended the call Dani smiled in my direction. "All taken care of. We'll go get something to eat first, and then we can go get another car."
I buckled myself in. "Thanks, did he say what we were going to get?"
Dani's smile grew wider. "Yes."
I waited for her to tell me but she didn't say anything else. "And? … Are you going to tell me?"
She laughed. "No."
Her happiness was becoming infectious. I started laughing as well. "Whatever it is, it must be pretty good."
Dani nodded. "Yes."
I laughed even harder. "Are you going to be speaking in monosyllables the rest of the way?"
Dani winked. "Maybe."
Listening to the throaty motor of the Challenger made me think of my Charger but oddly my memories were not as bright as other memories were. I was starting to figure out that those feelings were reserved to details that were in Ty's life alone.
"Honey, what happened to my Charger?"
Dani glanced at me. "Why is your phone dying?"
I sighed. "No, not that kind of charger. I meant my old car. The one I've had since before we met."
I watched as Dani searched her memory and witnessed her surprised expression when she found it. "I don't know. In my mind you always preferred smaller imports."
I nodded. "Mine too now that I focus on it. Am I right that the car I drove when we first got together was a 1972 VW Karmann Ghia."
Dani agreed. "Yes, it's a silver pearl color and a beautiful car. We still have it"
I smiled as I focused on the car. "Yes it is."
A few minutes later I decided I needed to voice a concern I had. "Baby, you said I've always preferred imports, not muscle cars right?"
Dani nodded. "I think so."
I pursed my lips. "And we both know that as Ty, I wouldn't be caught dead in an import."
Dani nodded again. "Yes, you wouldn't even let me buy a Beetle."
I sighed. "And I now hate the idea of a red car?"
Dani laughed. "You say they are tacky and fade too easily."
I turned to her. "Then how did Aaron know I'd love this car?"
Dani's mouth dropped as she pulled to the side of the road before she turned to me. "How DID he know that?"
I shook my head. "I have no idea. Something is not right."
Dani nodded. "I agree but do you think he knows?"
I shrugged. "I have no idea but even if he doesn't know outright, something in his subconscious must be aware. Do you think we could ask Mother?"
Dani seemed deep in thought. "Knowing Mother like I do, this is a test of some sort. We could ask her but I honestly don't think she would give us a straight answer."
I sighed. "I guess you know her as well or better than anyone. What do we do?"
"I don't know. I think if we show patience, the answer will present itself. One thing Mother always drilled into me was the need to learn patience. I never listened until now." Dani replied as she pulled back onto the road.
After eating a late lunch we followed the directions to car rental agency.
A pleasant looking young man greeted us as we walked in. He wasn't particularly tall, probably five tennish, no older than twenty-one with very short black hair and dark brown eyes. He wasn't ugly by any stretch of the imagination but he wasn't really memorable in the looks department either.
I was trying to understand why I now knew the difference between attractive and unattractive men when he spoke. "Hello ladies, would either of you happen to be Ms. Zoyra?"
Both of us smiled, knowing we were probably about to confuse him.
"Yes we are." Dani said.
His look became puzzled. "Excuse me?"
My wife smiled. "Hello I'm Dani Zoyra." She pointed to me. "And this is Callista Zoyra."
The young man's gaze switched between us a couple of times. "Are you sisters? No offense, but you couldn't be more opposite if you tried."
Dani laughed loudly. "I like you. What's your name?"
He straightened proudly as his eyes drifted the length of my wife's body before he looked up at her. "I'm Jesse and I like you too."
I couldn't help myself when I released a giggle. I found it hilarious that the young man thought he stood a snowballs chance in hell with a woman as beautiful as Dani.
She glanced at me with a look that said 'watch this' as she started toward Jesse. "It's so nice to meet you Jesse. You wouldn't happen to have a car ready for us would you?"
Jesse smiled. "Yes I believe we do. Please allow me to double check in the back. Would you like some coffee or soda while I'm going that way?"
Dani licked her lips. "Water would be nice."
Jesse's eyes widened as he nodded. "I'll be right back with your water."
Watching him walk away I leaned over to Dani. "I didn't realize I had developed the power of invisibility. Why are you letting flirt with you like that with me right here? No wait, why are YOU flirting with HIM?"
Dani smiled and patted my knee. "I'm teaching you about power. Watch and learn baby."
Jesse walked back with a single bottle of water, which he handed to my wife before resuming his seat behind the desk.
I glanced at Dani quietly fuming to myself and she subtly shook her head.
"Thank you Jesse. It was very thoughtful." She said with a wink.
The young man smiled as if he had accomplished a monumental feat. I was getting angrier by the second as he smugly replied, "My pleasure, I always take care of special customers."
Dani reached up and twirled a few strands of her hair around her finger. "You really consider me a special customer?"
He nodded as he leaned back. "Of course I do."
I had a death hold on the arms of the chair I was sitting in to keep from leaping over the desk and strangling the smug young man.
Dani smiled again as she subtly patted my leg to calm me. "Am I special enough to get a GPS unit with my car?"
Jesse smiled while he typed on the keyboard. "Definitely."
She leaned forward to give him an unobstructed view of her cleavage. "What about satellite radio?"
Jesse nodded as he stared at my wife's chest. "I can make that happen."
Dani was pouring it on thick at this point. "I'm so glad I met you today."
Jessie grinned as if Dani was already a sure thing as he placed the paperwork in front of her. "I feel the same way. If you'll just sign here, you can be on your way."
Dani signed her name with a flourish. "Does Cali need to sign as well?"
For the first time since we were introduced Jesse remembered my existence. "Will she be driving as well?"
Dani nodded. "Of course."
"Then she needs to sign."
After I angrily placed my signature on the bottom of the paper Jesse handed Dani the keys. "It's out front, I'll show you."
My anger dissipated momentarily when we walked out to see a charcoal gray Mini Cooper S.
I leaned over to Dani as Jessie punched in some codes activating the GPS and satellite radio. "Aaron knows this side of me just as well."
She nodded. "This was completely his idea."
Jesse walked to Dani's side. "I was wondering, since you'll be around for a couple of weeks if you would like to grab dinner one night."
Dani appeared deep in thought for a second. "That would depend."
Jesse smirked. "Depend on what?"
Dani looked me straight in the eyes while still speaking to Jesse. "On what my wife says. I can't say your chances are very good since you did ignore her the entire time. I believe you hurt her feelings because we were renting this car for her so I think you owe her an apology."
Jesse stared back and forth between us. "You're fucking with me."
Dani shook her head as she held up the water he had given her. "Would you like a drink baby?"
I nodded. "I am a little parched."
Dani took a large mouthful before she placed her lips on mine, transferring the water from her mouth to mine.
I swallowed and smiled. "That's really good water, make sure you remember what brand it is so we can get it again."
Jesse stood dumbfounded and just when I stepped around Dani to protect her since I was expecting him to get mad he started laughing. "I deserved that, I'm sorry." He offered me his hand. "Ms Zoyra please enjoy your vacation."
Before I had a chance to accept his apology and older overweight man with a bad comb over, who appeared to be in his late fifties or early sixties, stormed outside. He pointed his fat finger at Dani and I. "I'll have none of that filth in front of my place of business."
I smiled as I reached for the door of the Mini. "That's good to know since we were just leaving."
He slammed the door. "Not in one of my cars you're not."
Jesse stepped to his side. "Calm down Phil. These aren't your cars."
The fat man glared at his colleague. "Shut up kid. People like you who defend their kind are why the nation is going to hell."
I laughed and the man didn't appreciate my amusement. His chubby finger was inches from my nose as he continued his rant. "You're going to hell for you evil ways. You and that so called woman with you. As tall as she is I bet she's a he-she."
I grabbed his finger and bent it backwards. He let out a yell and his free hand balled into a fist before it swung at my face, which I was able to grab in my hand. I bent his finger further back and he dropped to his knees.
My rage was in full force as I leaned over him. "Watch your bigoted mouth. You can say whatever you want to me but never, ever aim a derogatory comment toward my wife. Dani is one hundred percent woman. Only an ignorant, backwoods, twisted son of a bitch would think otherwise. If you value your health you need to apologize to her NOW!"
He hesitated until I bent his finger back further. I saw panic fill the man's eyes as he glanced at my wife. "I'm sorry Ma'am."
A man in a suit ran outside to our side. Judging by his appearance I knew he was in charge. "What is going on?"
I glared at him. "You need to teach your employees some fucking manners."
"Get this crazy bitch off me." Phil yelled.
I bent his finger again. "Now now, that wasn't very nice. What is it ignorant rednecks say when they do something wrong?"
The bigot screamed in pain again before he looked at me. "I'm sorry ok."
I nodded. "Is there anything else you need to apologize for? Since you think my wife and I are so sinful, I believe you need to confess your sins."
I felt that shiver again before he started crying. "I'm sorry I tried to hit you and all the terrible things I said. I'm sorry for changing paperwork so I got some of Jesse's commissions. I'm sorry for taking cars without the proper paperwork to Knoxville so I could go to bars without anyone knowing. I'm sorry I cheated on my wife with men. I'm sorry I beat my wife when she asked me where I went."
I quickly released his hands. I didn't want to hear anymore.
The man in charge looked down on the crying man in disgust. "Go clean out your desk Phil and then you need to get some serious help." He then turned to Dani and I. "I offer my sincerest apologies. We will refund the cost of your rental to your card; please do not allow this experience to ruin your trip."
I knew Aaron would go ballistic if he heard about this.
I nodded in appreciation. "Thank you but you don't have to do that, the company I work with is providing me with this car as an apology for a similar act and I believe it would upset my boss if he found out this happened."
The man frowned. "I love living in a small town for many reasons but small mindedness is not one of them. Please allow me to do something for you both."
Dani shook her head. "We have everything we need but if you feel the need to act on this then a round of diversity training for your employees wouldn't hurt."
The man nodded. "I planned on doing that as soon as stepped out here and realized what happened." He offered his hand to both of us. "I'll let you get going, it was a pleasure to meet you, and I wish it had been under better circumstances."
Dani and I smiled. "You too."
As we watched the man walk inside Jesse stared at me. "Did you say your name is Callista?"
I nodded. "Yes."
"Are you related to the Dawsons?"
I nodded again. "Most of them."
"Jeb and Thomas?" He asked.
"They are my brothers."
He suddenly pulled me into a hug. "Sorry but I had to do that. I know you don't remember me but my parents run the Jiffy Dip."
I smiled remembering the little boy I used to babysit. "Wow, you've changed. I saw your parents last night."
He laughed. "Oh I know, I heard all about it. Now I see why they were raving about you. You're seriously bad ass."
I started laughing with him. "I don't know about that. I was just mad."
Jesse glanced over at Dani. "Guess I better stay on her good side then huh?"
Dani nodded. "Do you have any idea how close you came to facing her wrath? And imagine, everyone thinks I'm the scary one in our relationship."
Jesse started to blush. "I'm sorry about that. I've always had a thing for tall women and kinda put my blinders on when I saw you."
I giggled. "It's okay Jesse, I have a thing for tall women too so I understand."
He laughed and gave me another hug. "I've taken enough of your time and you two need to hit the road. It was great to see you again Cali. Thanks for taking that bastard down, I always suspected he was doing something but couldn't prove it. Take care."
I smiled. "You too. Tell your parents I said hi."
I sat down in the charcoal gray Mini Cooper S and inhaled the new car scent. I adjusted the seat, pedals and steering and smiled at the perfect fit. I looked over at Dani. "This is more like it."
Dani laughed as she adjusted her seat. "Yes it is."
"You comfortable?" I asked.
Dani nodded. "Very much so. You?"
I smiled. "Oh yes. I hope it drives as well as it fits."
Dani smirked. "There's only one way to find out."
I started the car and took off from the parking lot like a shot from a gun. I let out a squeal of delight as we hit the road.
"I love to see you happy." Dani said as she stared at my wide grin.
I glanced at her while shifting gears and winked. "Me too."
Dani's laugh was glorious and I realized I had not heard it much since I was transformed.
I frowned slightly thinking about the past couple of days. "Will every day be like these last two?"
Dani shook her head. "No baby, we are in a new dynamic so we have to adjust. You've never seen how men react to women they consider attractive. Few are like Gabe, while many are like Jesse. You still have to learn how to react to different situations. Plus our dynamic is different, men would never hit on me in front of you because we made it so obvious we were together but now we can't do that, at least not around here. Both of us will have to learn to rein in our jealousy because of it. Luckily I haven't had to face it yet but as you become comfortable in your new body I'm sure I will."
I scrunched my eyebrows. "Comfortable in my body?"
Dani nodded. "Right now you are giving off a definite masculine 'stay away or I'll hurt you' vibe but as you grow it will go away."
I grinned. "I kinda like giving off that vibe."
Dani shook her head. "No you don't. I think it's part of our problem, the way you carry yourself is inviting trouble whereas if you acted more feminine people would be more apt to ignore us thinking we are just two friends hanging out instead of what we are."
I nodded. "Thank makes sense."
I turned on a road I knew had little traffic and lots of curves. "Hope you don't mind a slight detour but I want to see what this thing can do."
Dani smiled. "Whatever you want to do baby. Today is yours."
I smiled as I punched the gas going around a curve. "Thanks."
Even though it had not been long since we had lunch, I found myself desiring something chocolate. "I want a milkshake. How about you?"
Dani laughed. "The change sure hasn't affected your appetite, if anything it's increased it. You want to go back to Jiffy Dip?"
I nodded. "You read my mind."
After we got the shakes to go I gave Dani a tour around town. First we stopped outside the elementary school I attended, followed by a trip around the square.
We were walking in front of the city's oldest pharmacy when I spotted a mint condition silver 1965 VW Karmann Ghia.
"Look at this." I said to Dani as I stepped over to admire the car.
Dani released a low whistle. "That's nice."
I ran my fingers over the bodylines and a tear of joy formed in my eye. "There is something familiar about this car but I have no idea what it is. I feel an odd connection, I’m so happy to see it."
An elderly lady walking out from the pharmacy drew our attention away from the fine automobile. She was having a minor amount of trouble holding the door open while maintaining her balance with the help of a cane. I rushed to her side and held the door.
She looked over to thank me and her face turned to an ashen shade of white. "Rosy Anne, How can it be you?"
I froze in stunned silence. Not a day went by that I didn't think of the woman who bore that name and not a second went by that I didn't miss her with all my heart.
Roslyn Anne Davenport Dawson was my mother.
The frail woman obviously had known my mother but I did not immediately recognize her. She looked vaguely familiar but almost everyone twenty-eight and over in my small town looked familiar to me.
I smiled as I shook my head. "No Ma'am, I'm her daughter."
I was amazed that saying I was Mama's daughter flowed so easily from my lips.
The lady's hand gingerly touched my cheek as her delicate lips turned into a smile and moisture started to build around her faded blue eyes. "Callista Dawn?"
I nodded warily. She obviously knew who I was and was happy to see me but I still had no clue who she was. "Yes Ma'am. I'm Cali."
Before I knew it the woman dropped her bag and cane to wrap her arms around me. She started to weep. "I never thought I would see you again. It was bad enough losing my daughter but to also lose you too just wasn't fair."
I looked over to Dani in shock. How could I not recognize my own grandmother?
The lady noticed my expression. "You were so young when she passed and it's been so long, no wonder you don't know me. Darling I'm your grandmother Elise Davenport."
My eyes started to tear up again but this time it was from elation. "Hi Grandma, I always wondered about you." She started to explain but I instinctively knew the gist of her story so I stopped her. "No need to explain. I know my father had something to do with it."
She nodded sadly. "I'm sorry Caligirl. What are you doing here? I thought you were in California."
I led her to nearby bench where I introduced her to Dani and tried to fill her in on my life but she appeared to already know most of what I told her.
"Caligirl, I have kept track of you since the day I learned how to use the Internet. I just didn't know the new movie you were working on was close by. If I had I would have come to find you. I'm quite proud of the life you made for yourself." My grandmother said with a smile.
Dani and I laughed before Dani said. "Now I know where your intelligence is from."
Grandma smiled. "Come home with me. I have something your mother made me promise to give you if anything happened to her."
I swallowed hard. Did Mama know what Daddy was going to do?
"Do you want to ride with us?" I asked.
Grandma shook her head. "Nope, I might not walk too good but I can drive just fine." She then pointed to the only car in front of the pharmacy. "My car is over there."
My eyes locked on the car I was admiring earlier.
Dani started laughing. "Like grandmother, like granddaughter. That explains your fascination with them."
Grandma looked to me for an explanation.
"I have a silver pearl 72 Ghia. I've always loved them and didn't know why." I said while laughing.
My grandmother smiled proudly. "You used to love that car. When you were a little girl you would cry until your Mama let you sit behind the wheel. If we wanted to talk without being interrupted we'd just take you to the garage and let you sit in the old girl. I already have it in my will that she goes to you when I pass away."
I smiled as a broken memory became whole. "I remember now. How did I ever forget something like that?"
Grandma frowned. "I'm sure your father had something to do with it."
I nodded as she handed me her keys. "You want to finally drive it?"
My eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas morning. "I'd love to."
I turned to Dani. "You want me to get the Mini and bring it over while you help Grandma to the car?"
She shook her head and held out her hand. "I think I can manage walking to get the car. Give me the keys."
I smiled and almost kissed her before I remembered where we were. Out of everything that had happened thus far, not showing affection to the woman I loved in public was the one thing I knew I would have the hardest time coming to terms with.
"I love you." I whispered.
Dani smiled knowingly; she understood my frustration because she felt it too. "It's okay, I love you too."
I helped my grandmother to her car before I sat in the driver's seat. Memories of riding in the country flooded my mind. I reached across and ran my hand over the passenger's side dashboard as I thought of sitting in my mother's lap while Grandma drove. I hugged myself tightly as I remembered how my mother would hold me securely as I begged my grandmother to go faster. The faster Grandma drove, the happier I was.
"I can't believe I forgot about you." I said as I looked over at my mother's mother.
Grandma's smile was reassuring. "I'm sure you blocked it out as a survival mechanism. I did try to get you away from him but he has powerful friends."
I shook my head as I started the car. "I don't think he does anymore."
As I drove to my grandmother's home I explained what transpired with my father. She was broken hearted to have her fears confirmed but very pleased to hear that he would finally face justice for the evil he had done.
Once in the living room of my grandmother's sizable rustic farmhouse she excused herself for a moment.
After she departed I looked around at the expensive furnishings and couldn't help but notice more than a few portraits of my mother and myself when I was a baby up until I was almost six. What amazed me more were the pictures beyond that, she even had a picture from our wedding.
"I can't believe this. I didn't even remember that she had been a part of my life. How did she get these pictures?"
Dani smiled as she looked at other pictures of me that had us bewildered. "She obviously loves you."
I nodded as my grandmother returned with a medium sized box wrapped with a pale yellow paper.
She set the box in my lap. "Your mother brought this to me the day before she passed and made me promise to give it to you when you found me." She noticed Dani looking at a picture of her and I. "Ryan’s parents keep me informed about you."
Dani laughed. "That explains Ryan’s interest in always having a camera handy."
I returned my focus to the gift my grandmother had sat before me. With trembling fingers I gently removed the aged tape, trying hard not to ruin the wrapping my mother had lovingly placed around the box.
I gasped as I saw most of the jewelry I suddenly remembered my mother wore. These were not costume pieces. My mother had excellent taste.
"In the beginning your father tried to impress your mother with gifts. Nothing was too good for her in his eyes." My grandmother said as I held up the exquisite jewelry.
My eyes widened after I opened a manila envelope that contained information about an investment portfolio set up in my name. I looked to my grandmother for an explanation.
"Your grandfather, God rest his soul, was a very successful businessman. He left your mother a sizable estate. I thought your father had gotten all her money but apparently she hid it away for you."
My tears couldn't stop after I removed a photo album filled with pictures of her and I along with small mementos others might consider silly. I filled with joy as each item unlocked another hidden memory.
Dani wrapped her arm around me for emotional support as I gently touched a portrait of her holding me when I was very young. "I look just like her." I whispered.
My grandmother nodded. "Yes you do, she was a very beautiful woman. Just like you are now."
A small envelope fell from the pages to my lap. My trembling began anew as I saw it was addressed to Caligirl. I looked to Dani who nodded before I opened it and held it out so we could read it together.
May 13, 1990
My Dearest Callista,
My time with you is almost up. I'm sorry I did not get to see you grow up into the beautiful woman I know you are going to be. I'm also sorry for all the milestones in your life that I will miss but know that while I was not there physically, I have always been with you in spirit.
My biggest regret is the way I know your father will treat you; please recognize that I tried to protect you. I don't regret meeting him because he gave me you and you are the greatest gift I could have ever received.
I hope you understand that if I could have prevented everything, I would have. Hopefully the steps I have taken will prevent it from being as bad the second time around.
I have faith that in time you will find my mother and reconnect. In this box is everything that means anything to me, small treasures to help you remember who you are now. I know life is confusing but everything happens for a reason.
Let go of your Tys to your old life and embrace the strong woman you are about to become. Remember I love you no matter what.
I know you will face trials others couldn't imagine. Hopefully the investments have done well so you can focus on more important parts of your life. Trust your instincts and you will go far.
I must end this now because I am watching you play and can see you are about to try another silly jump off the top of the jungle gym. I sometimes worry what your adrenaline seeking will lead to but I know you are a fearless, strong-willed child who I love with all my heart and soul. I have no doubt you will make me proud.
Oh how I will miss seeing it for myself.
I will always love you,
I passed the letter to my grandmother before I buried myself in Dani's arms sobbing uncontrollably. "She knew everything, how could she have known?" I cried.
Dani gently rubbed my back. "I don't know."
My grandmother wiped her eyes as she folded the letter back up and handed it to me. "She was acting funny the entire week before she passed away. Every time I asked her what was wrong she waved me off saying she couldn't tell me, if I pressed it she would say life is too short to argue."
Dani and I spent the rest of the day with my grandmother. I learned so much about my life when my mother was still alive and the bond between Grandma and I was instantaneous.
I promised to come back often before we left to return to California.
As we started driving back to the compound I looked over at a field filled with wildflowers. I began to tear up at the sight of all the Wild Roses and Queen Anne's Lace because they made me think of my mother.
I pulled over to the side of the road. "I need to pick some of these." I said in reply to Dani's questioning gaze. "I'll be right back."
I slipped my sandals off as I walked around picking flowers remembering how in the summer I would always gather them up to place in Mama's flower vase she kept in the kitchen window. I could remember climbing the step stool she kept in the kitchen so I could reach the vase like it was yesterday.
I climbed back into the car five minutes later. "We need to go somewhere."
Dani nodded knowingly. "Are you going to be okay?"
I shook my head sadly. "I don't know."
Dani slipped her hand over mine as I pulled back onto the road.
Ten minutes later I pulled into a small family cemetery. I had only been here once before but I could never forget where it was. I gathered the flowers and secured them with a hair band from my purse. Dani held my free hand as I walked to the final resting place of Roslyn Anne Davenport Dawson.
I pulled the weeds away from her headstone and laid the flowers down. Small tears started to trickle down my cheeks as I whispered. "It was like she knew. She walked me to school the day she died. She told me how much she loved me and to be strong. She wasn't there when I got home. My father stood over me and told me she wasn't worth any tears. I wanted to cry so badly but he wouldn't let me."
Dani said nothing as she ran her fingers through the back of my hair.
"'Boys don't cry' Daddy would say as he hit me, or 'Girls are too emotional' he would scream as he slapped me. Both memories are just as vivid. I pushed the memories of Grandma away cause it was easier to forget than knowing she was so close and I couldn't see her anymore."
"My Mama was a great mother and deserved better than the life she had. She died because of me and I never even cried for her." I slapped myself in the chest. "Hell I never even came back here to see her when I was old enough. My Mama died because of me and I never told you about her."
Dani pulled me to my feet and into her arms. As I rested my head on her shoulder I realized it wasn't Dani. I suddenly found myself staring straight into the stunning blue eyes of a beautiful petite brunette haired woman with my face.
I stared into the eyes of the only other woman I ever loved. "Mama? How can it be you?"
The woman nodded. "Yes Caligirl, it's me. Let's just say it's a gift from your mother in law."
I hugged her tightly. "Oh Mama I'm so sorry."
My mother shook her head. "Shh baby girl, you have nothing to apologize for. I was always in your heart and I know not a day went by that you didn't think of me with love."
I buried my face in her hair and inhaled her heavenly scent. "Not a day Mama."
"I know Caligirl. I'm so proud of you. You overcame so much. I know having two sets of memories is difficult but it gave me twice as much time with you."
I stared at her. "You knew what was going to happen didn't you?"
My mother nodded. "I did when you became Callista but not when you were Tyler. I had to accept my fate so instead of worrying I focused on making sure you had the best life possible. I always made your brothers promise to look after you if anything happened to me."
"Is that why we are close now?"
Mama nodded again. "They aren't bad boys, it's just your father had such a strong influence. When we married the boys were wild and they weren't mine. You came along and were so perfect. I ignored them in favor of you and they resented you because of it. I was wrong to do that because they needed a mother too so I made sure not to make the same mistake twice."
"What do you mean Mama?"
"The second time I was more defiant and always made sure to include them in anything we did. I emphasized to them that we were a family and while I wasn't their mother I loved them as much as I did you. Because they we so involved, they felt protective of you after I was gone. The love you feel from them is very real and unfailing."
I hugged her again. "Thank you."
She smiled. "I know you think your new memories are false but I promise you they are very real. I was there for almost the first six years. You have been given a gift; don't waste it dwelling on who you used to be or wondering why someone remembers pieces of your other life."
Her hands found mine and held them firmly. I was amazed something so small could offer such strength. "Those who deeply cared before and also care now will have flashes of Ty and those who were especially close might even gain their full memories of your prior life but don't worry when it happens because it's a sign of love. The stronger the bond, the more they remember."
"Why is that?" I asked.
She smiled again. "The Goddesses are powerful and can do a lot of things but they can never make the heart truly forget. Feelings are powerful and if you have made an impact on a person's life they can make them forget until they come face to face with you. I wouldn't worry though because Callista is far more sociable and had a greater impact on most people than Ty ever did since he was rather anti social and a loner until a certain special woman came along. For now you need to focus on becoming the woman I know you can be."
I nodded. "I'll try Mama."
She shook her head. "Trying is not good enough. You will thrive Caligirl. It won't be easy and things will appear unbearable but you have something I never had and that is why you will never fail."
"What is that?"
The woman who brought me into the world twice smiled. "Someone who loves you and is willing to share your load. You're not going through this alone." My mother turned to Dani and leaned forward on her bare toes to kiss her cheek. "You have no idea how happy it makes me that you are a part of my child's life. It has been a joy to witness. You have always been everything she needed every time she needed it. Take care of my little girl."
Dani smiled and wiped her eyes. "Always."
My mother turned back to me. "When you think of me, only feel my love. I never want you to feel any guilt over what happened, your father is an evil man who will pay for his crimes eternally starting very soon."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
My mother smiled ruefully. "I have it on good authority that his cold heart will finally give out in the very near future. When it happens you need to be there for your brothers. It will be okay to shed a tear because you have a good heart and no matter what he did, he was your father."
I frowned. "I can't see that happening."
She kissed my cheek. "Don't be so sure. Our time together is up. Please don't come back to this place because I won't be here. All that remains are dust and bones, it's depressing if you think about it. I'm in a much better place, I'm in your heart and your love gives me sustenance."
I giggled. "I'll have you fat before you know it."
Mom laughed. "I'm glad this body never changes otherwise I'd be big as a house. I love you Caligirl, never forget that."
"I love you too Mama." I said as I hugged her one last time.
She placed her hand on my cheek. "I named you well Callista Dawn because you truly are the most beautiful young woman I've ever seen and this is just the beginning of a fabulous new life for you. Enjoy what you have been given."
As she disappeared from my arms I whispered. "I will Mama, I promise."
I felt fantastic as I turned to Dani. "Ready to go? She's right, this place is depressing."
Dani laughed. "Sure, let's go."
I stepped to the passenger's side of the Mini. "Do you mind driving? I'm not sure I can concentrate on the road, my mind is swimming."
Dani smiled. "Of course not."
Once back on the main road I turned to my wife. "I'll never be able to thank Mother enough for allowing Mama to come to me. I had no idea how heavy the guilt weighed on me."
Dani smiled. "My mother is the wisest woman I know. That was an impressive gift and it humbles me she did it for you. I have a newfound level of love and respect for her."
I smiled and reached for her hand. "She did it for us. You said yourself that if it affects me, it affects you."
Dani nodded. "It does."
I leaned back into my seat contentedly. "Baby can we just go back to the trailer now? I want to fix your favorite meal and veg out."
Dani grinned. "How about I cook your favorite meal while you veg out?"
I shook my head. "No for three reasons. First, I like to take care of you and after everything that's happened I need to get back into a routine. Second, I do my best thinking in the kitchen and you have to admit I have lot to think about."
Dani pursed her lips as she nodded. "I'm not sure those are good enough reasons, we can establish a new routine where we take turns but I'll withhold judgment until I hear your third reason."
I giggled as I got as close to the door as possible. "Yeah, um, the third reason."
Dani's eyebrows rose as she grinned. "Yes, what's the third reason."
"You kinda suck at cooking baby." I replied.
I squealed with delight as Dani reached across the small car to tickle me.
Dani had to work the next day so I spent the first half of the day visiting with my grandmother. I loved reconnecting with her but at the same time I was devastated that for most of my life I had forgotten such a wonderful woman existed.
On the way home I stopped by the grocery store to get the ingredients for dinner.
Around four o'clock I set about in the kitchen making Dani's favorite eight-cheese lasagna along with garlic bread. Something about me was off but I didn't know what it was. My mood was crazy, one minute I was happy and singing but the next I wanted to cry.
I had just finished mixing the salad when Dani walked in the door.
"I'm glad to be home." She said as she walked over and wrapped me with her arms.
I smiled and rested my head on her shoulder as I returned her embrace. I looked up and implored her lips to bend down to meet mine.
"I've been waiting all day for that." I said after our kiss as I handed her a glass of wine.
Dani smiled and inhaled deeply. "Me too. Do I smell what I think I smell?"
I nodded. "Yes. You should have enough time to get cleaned up and comfy before it's ready."
She kissed me again. "I don't deserve you."
I adopted a very serious expression. "I know you don't." Her eyebrows rose slightly causing me to laugh and finish my reply. "You deserve better."
The sting from her hand slapping my butt caused me to jump. "Ow! That hurt."
Dani wasn't smiling as she stared down at me. "Never, ever let me hear you say something like that again. You are everything I could ever want or need and more."
I frowned and rubbed my sore bottom. "I was just joking."
She was starting to show signs of the domineering person I really didn't like and thought we had worked away from when she leaned in to kiss me. "We are not a joking matter. Never put yourself down, even in jest. Okay?"
I turned away from her lips as I poked my bottom lip out. "Okay but you didn't have to hit me."
She forcefully reached for my chin to compel me to face her. "I'm sorry. I only meant for it to be a playful tap to get your attention, but I guess the stress from worrying about you all day made it harder than it needed to be."
I turned away to check the oven. "You're forgiven but don't do it again, I didn't like it. Dinner is almost ready, go get cleaned up."
She started toward me again but I shook my head. "Don't. Please do what I ask for a change. Please."
Dani sighed and sulked toward the bathroom as I wiped my eyes.
During dinner Dani never asked about my day. I listened attentively as she filled me in on all the happenings since she had been away to take care of me.
I was closing in on rock bottom emotionally as she laughed a couple of times and talked about how she hated missing certain things that happened. Things she only missed because of me.
I nodded in appropriate places and smiled in others. I laughed when the conversation called for it and offered words of encouragement when needed.
After we finished eating Dani didn't even offer to help me clean up as she explained how exhausted she was and she needed to turn in early because she had to be on set by five in the morning. She did manage a snide comment about how it shouldn't be an issue for me to take care of everything since I wasn't working.
By the time I was ready for bed she was sprawled out, taking up almost the entire bed. She muttered a few incoherent words angrily as I disturbed her when I lay down beside her.
The next few days mainly consisted of me waking early and cooking Dani breakfast, spending an hour practicing makeup after she left for work, then getting dressed before I went to town to spend time with grandma or my brothers until time to come to fix dinner.
I learned quickly that I didn't like the role of the little housewife waiting for Dani to come home every night. I didn't have anything new to tell her and she was usually so tired that my craving of her attention was starting to annoy her.
I was glad when Ryan stopped by one morning to talk before I left for town.
"Are you decent?" He yelled from the door before he walked in.
"That's a matter of opinion." I joked as I emerged from the bedroom wearing a baggy blue ladder-back tank and light blue short shorts.
He laughed as he walked over to give me a hug. "How ya doing Dudette?"
"I'm maintaining. Are you not shooting today?" I asked we sat on the couch.
Ryan shook his head. "Not til tonight. I get to dive over a waterfall and then have a fight scene at the base."
I laughed. "At least it won't be like it was in Brazil. I remember we were afraid to pee anywhere near the water there."
Ryan joined me in laughter. "I know right. I kept telling you that you were going to turn your tripod into a stump."
I turned to him stunned. "What did you just say?"
He shoved my shoulder roughly. "Come on dude, you remember all the hell you gave me. You said by the time we left I would be a human Ken doll"
He suddenly stopped to stare at me. "Why do I have a set of memories of you as my best friend Ty? Am I going crazy?"
I shook my head. "No, you're not any crazier than I am."
He attempted to smile. "That's not exactly a ringing endorsement. You were never a poster child for sanity."
I giggled slightly. "Good point. How open minded are you?"
Ryan leaned forward. "I like to think I can handle anything that gets thrown my way."
I shrugged. "I hope you have a big catcher's mitt bro."
I proceeded to tell him the entire story from beginning to end, as we talked I noticed flickers of memory kicking in. He eventually stopped me to talk about what was happening on the ground before he pulled me from the hole.
"Wow." He said as I finished. "How can I remember if nobody else besides Dani does?"
I frowned. "Probably because you were my only friend for years. I love you bro, you are my family."
He reached across and pulled me into a bear hug. "I love you too… Uh, what do I call you?"
I laughed as I motioned my hands over my body. "I think Cali is more than appropriate."
Ryan shook his head. "Nope. Doesn't work for me. I might get away with calling you Cal, it's close enough that nobody will notice but will always remind me of our past. I don't want to take any chances forgetting."
I smiled. "You can call me Tyborg for all I care just so long as we are friends."
He laughed remembering our childhood nicknames before he pulled me even tighter. "Holy shit Dudette, this is some heavy stuff you're dealing with. How are you handling everything?"
I smiled. "It's difficult. I still have to remember to sit when I go to the bathroom half the time. Having you back the way we've always been will be a huge help. You have no idea how much it was bothering me."
Ryan nodded knowingly. "It explains the feeling of loss I've been feeling the last few days, especially now that it's completely gone now." He then winked at me. "So what's sex like as a woman? Is it better or worse?"
I blushed slightly as I started to laugh. "I should have known that you'd want to know that. I don't know about with men cause that will never happen but with a woman… Let's just say I'm not complaining about it and you better be glad most woman don't know how good it feels cause you'd be jacking off every night."
I sat back and started laughing hard. "No wait, you do that anyway."
Ryan laughed. "You have no idea how emasculating it sounds when you rip on me from that body. I gotta say this and don't take it the wrong way… You are hot. I'm talking hotter than your wife hot."
My body went super nova red from head to toe. "Don't even joke like that. Nobody is hotter than Dani."
Amusement flittered in his eyes as he gazed at me. "Oh don't get me wrong. She is very beautiful but she intimidates a lot of men whereas you could make a blind man hard." He saw the doubt on my face so he continued. "Seriously Cal, You have curves in all the right places, mesmerizing eyes, a smile that could weaken the will of the most coldhearted man and a friendly, approachable personality. You are the entire package my friend."
I shoved his shoulder forcefully. "I don't even see myself as attractive much less all those other things."
He laughed harder as he nodded. "Yes you do. According to my memories you know you're hot and have used it to your advantage a time or two. Plus I know all the guys on this set are disillusioned they will never get a shot at either of you."
I started to shake as I searched my memories for what he was talking about. I began to cry when I found them. "Ry, I can remember doing these things and acting a certain way but it doesn't feel like me. In my mind I'm still Ty, I wish Cali's demeanor would kick in but it hasn't."
His voice quickly became reassuring. "This is all new. Give yourself time to adjust."
I sighed. "You sound like Dani, she says the same thing. I'm trying but I can tell it's starting to get to her that I haven't adapted fully yet."
He smiled knowingly. "Yeah, she's not exactly known for her patience is she? I guess everything comes to you easily when your mother is a goddess."
I giggled and was glad to have my best friend back. Ryan was the only person I could laugh about my wife's faults with. "It does explain her apocalyptic temper doesn't it?"
He nodded as he broke into a full body laugh. "That it does. I have an idea, the next time she looks like she is getting annoyed, you know, when her right eye twitches a little. I want you to try her own moves on her?"
I laughed that he had also noticed my wife's tell but I had no idea what he was talking about. "What moves?"
He looked at me as if I were crazy. "Come on now Cal. Anytime she does something that upsets you she has a way of calming you that works every single time."
I stared at him while I shook my head. "No she doesn't."
He laughed as he stood and lifted me into his arms. "Yes she does. I'll show you. Pretend I'm Dani and you're upset with me."
I nodded warily as I gave him a disapproving glare.
He pulled me to his side and wrapped one arm around my waist as he gently glided the index finger of his free hand down the side of my face. "Come on baby, please don't be upset with me."
My eyes widened in surprise. "Oh my Goddess, she totally does that doesn't she?"
He nodded and smirked as his finger found the edge of my ear where his finger lightly traced to outer edge. "Yes and when she needs to step it up a notch she does this."
I gasped in shock. "I can't believe I never noticed."
He leaned close to my ear. "I'm obviously not going to do it but her closer is when she runs her tongue up your neck and around your ear."
I giggled and placed my head on his shoulder. I was about to respond when I heard a feminine couch come from the area of the front door.
We both looked up to see a very annoyed Dani glaring at us. "Am I interrupting something?"
I had to cover my mouth to hide me smile as Ryan replied. "Actually yes. I was trying to seduce your wife but you ruined it by coming home early." Dani's eye started to twitch and it caused him to laugh. "Not at all, I was just showing Cal how to avoid trouble."
"Is that so?" She said as she walked over to me and pulled me into her arms possessively before kissing me passionately.
I did my best to control my amusement as I looked at her with puppy dog eyes. "We were just talking baby. Please don't be upset."
Her eye twitched a little less as I gently guided my finger along her cheek. "I'm not upset, I've just never seen you two interact like that."
"You know I only have eyes you." I said as I guided her head down so my lips could reach her neck and ears.
She smiled and rested her head on my shoulder with a contented sigh. "I know that. I was being silly."
Ryan could no longer hold his laughter after I gave him a thumbs up from behind Dani's back.
"You know Dani, it could be that you just aren't used to seeing how Cal and I act around either since she changed. We might have always acted like that when we are alone but since all your memories are of me and Ty you were shocked."
She nodded. "You might be right." She spun around as reality set in. "Wait, what?"
"He remembers everything baby, that was why he came over today. I have my best friend back just like he's always been." I said with joyful tears falling from my eyes.
"But how?" She asked.
I shrugged my shoulders. "Mama said something about. The closer I was to the person the more they'd remember. Since I was only ever really close to you and Ry I'd say we don't have much to worry about."
Dani smiled and pulled Ryan into our hug. "I'm glad to have you back like you used to be. You didn't see how bad Cali cried the other night after you left when she thought you two weren't as close."
For the first time in my life I saw a tear in Ryan's eye. "At least Cal knew why she was crying. I cried like a baby for someone I thought never existed."
I hugged him tighter. "I'm sorry but had I no idea if you'd remember and it's not exactly something I could blurt out you know... Hey thanks for helping us bring in all the clothes I bought because I was a man when I went to sleep but woke up as a tiny woman and nothing fit anymore."
Ryan laughed. "Thanks true."
Dani interrupted us. "Hey Ry, do you have time to ride into town to grab a bite to eat with us before you have to be out on location?"
Hey pulled his phone from his pocket to glance at it. "I think so, thanks."
To call it the perfect afternoon would be an understatement. The three of us laughed like we hadn't in years. Something about a shared experience of two lifetimes made us even closer than we were before.
Dani loved it when Ryan pointed out many of Ty's quirks that I was not aware of and Ryan loved hearing Dani's stories of the troubles I was having adjusting to my new body.
I just loved being around the two people who meant more to me than anything.
When I closed my eyes to sleep that night, I was finally becoming content with the life I had now.
The next morning Aaron called early and asked me to sit on a meeting to finalize the details of the movie's largest stunt and possibly inspect the location to ensure everything was up to his standards. I eagerly agreed since I desired anything that resembled my old life.
The meeting was contentious to say the least.
There were four others present besides Aaron and myself.
The first two were Dave, my assistant stunt coordinator and Ivan Taylor, who was the hottest director available. Ivan was always slightly cocky but a decent guy.
The last person present was Dean Reynolds, the head of cinematography. I never had many dealings with Dean so I had no opinion one way or the other.
Stewart Wilson, another executive producer that Aaron had brought in to assist with the financial and logistical burdens was standing by on the video screen. I was glad he was still in LA since, and this has only been true as far as my memory goes, he and I generally did not see eye to eye. This had not always been the case but now I remember Aaron telling me that Stew has a problem with strong, independent women. He would begrudgingly admit I knew what I was doing but he was not happy about it.
Luckily for me Aaron was more successful and had greater experience, because of that Stewart generally agreed with Aaron's recommendations.
I knew all the men respected my knowledge and experience and didn't foresee any problems.
I have never been more wrong in my life.
The way everyone treated me, with the exception of Aaron, you would think I had lost every ounce of intelligence. I couldn't believe it when each took turns attempting to explain how things worked and who was in charge of each area. I suddenly felt the need to remind them a few times that when it came to the stunts I was the most knowledgeable person in the room.
Dave, who I used to trust completely, appeared to be counter arguing every point I made. He was trying so hard to make himself appear smart that he ended up looking rather stupid. He had completely changed the design of what I had planned and made it so over the top that somebody would end up being hurt and possibly killed.
After his voice started to rise in anger I asked him to step outside so we could talk privately.
"What are you doing Dave?" I asked as soon as we were in the hall.
He tried to play innocent. "What do you mean Cali? I only want what's best for the film."
I couldn't hide my irritation. "You know what I mean. Why are you fighting me at every turn? We are on the same team; your ideas are going to get someone hurt."
He rolled his eyes. "Stop being a drama queen. You're just jealous you didn't think of it."
I shook my head. "I can honestly say I'm not jealous in the least but I can't let this happen and I hoped we could resolve the issue without any embarrassment. You have a lot of potential and I don't want you to ruin your reputation with this catastrophe in the making."
He scoffed. "You're just like all women. You want to play it safe and don't understand the technical aspects."
I took every ounce of self-control not to smash my fist in his smart mouth. "You really need to get rid of that extra bass in your voice when you're talking to me. I've forgotten more about the technical side than you'll ever know which is why this stunt is so dangerous and I can't allow someone to get hurt."
His anger spiked as he marched back to the door. "We'll see about this."
I followed him in the room as he announced to the others gathered. "Cali and I have agreed to disagree on how this stunt should be performed so I leave it to you gentlemen to decide which you would prefer."
I spoke and reemphasized my concerns and reservations, going into even more detail than before as to what probably would happen if things proceeded as Dave had planned.
Coordinating such an effort required a much larger team than had been assembled. The area was in the midst of a dry spell so the possibility of starting a massive forest fire was much higher and my final concern was what worried me the most. I pointed out that the placement of people to the explosions were far too dangerous.
After I finished the director looked at me. "I appreciate your concerns Ms Zoyra but I believe you're overreacting. This is just what this film needs for the massive final scene."
I glared at him before I turned to Stewart, Aaron's partner. "Well Stew, what do you think?"
His eyes didn't meet mine as he replied. "I have faith in Dave's plan."
"I agree." Added Dean.
I turned to Aaron, my eyes pleading with him to see things from my point of view. "Aaron we have a level of trust. You know I'd never steer you wrong. This has disaster all over it."
Aaron sighed. "I've been outvoted plus after everything you've been through this week I'm not sure your mind is in the game."
His words cut me like a knife to my heart but I refused to let anyone know how hurt I was. "I respect your decision but I must tender my resignation immediately. I cannot and will not be associated with what will happen tomorrow."
I left the room before anyone said another word.
I barely made it outside before Aaron called after me. "Cali wait."
I turned toward the man who I had previously considered like a father to me. "What do you want?"
Judging by his betrayal I guess he was more like my father than I thought.
"Don't just storm off like that. You can't quit, we have a contract." He said after he reached my side.
I looked up at him. "I have to Aaron. That stunt is a disaster waiting to happen. You'll be lucky if nobody gets killed. We've worked together for years, why have you suddenly lost faith in me?"
He frowned at me. "I haven't lost faith in you, never think that. I'm worried about you though, ever since your accident and everything that has happened since, you've been different and I'm not sure if your mind is in the game."
"My life has been weird lately but the one thing that I know is my job and I'm telling you that if you are going through with Dave's insane plan then I'm done. It's nothing personal but I can't have my name or reputation tarnished by this."
Aaron sighed. "You feel that strongly this is a mistake?"
I nodded vehemently. "I do."
"I'll talk to the others. I have to get them on board to kill the scene."
"They don't have to kill it, just go back to what I designed. We don't have the expertise for what's being planned."
He sighed. "I'll see what I can do."
I placed my hand on his shoulder. "If they refuse please let me out of my contract,"
He nodded. "I will, I give you my word."
I gave him a brief hug. "I'll be waiting for your call."
An hour later my phone rang and I saw it was from Aaron and took a deep breath before I answered. "Well, what's the verdict?"
"I'm sorry but they were adamant."
I sighed. "I was afraid of that."
"Look Cali I don't want you to do this but I understand your reasons. If you'd like I can send out a press release stating that due to your injuries you could not finish the film."
"I guess you can't tell the truth so thanks."
"You're welcome. I hope this doesn't affect us. You are like family to me."
"All families have disagreements from time to time but in the end everything works out. Don't worry. By the way, and I'm not saying this to be mean or vengeful but do not even think about asking me to clean up the mess that's about to be made with Dave in charge."
Aaron laughed sadly. "I wouldn't dare put you in that position. Call me if you need me. I love you."
"I love you too."
The strong male side of my mind hesitated to call Dani but her words of being in this together echoed in my mind forcing my fingers to make the call.
"How'd it go Baby?" She asked as soon as she answered.
All strength I had managed evaporated at the sound of her voice. My tears started falling as I began to speak. "I…I…I…had to quit. Aaron is about to release a statement that my injuries were too severe for me to continue. I figured you needed to know in case the rumor mill came knocking on your door."
"What? Why?" I knew from her voice that my quitting was an outcome she never considered.
"I'll tell you when you get home tonight. You're working and a lot of things happened that I don't want to get into over the phone." I replied, hoping she would see through my words and realize how much I needed her.
She said something to someone near her before she spoke to me again. "I'm really busy right now but I can be on the way now if you really need me."
Her tone wasn't very convincing and I knew she was hoping I wouldn't need her. She was probably worried about how they would react to her leaving again and the last thing I wanted was for her employment to be put in jeopardy because she kept taking off to care for me.
I wouldn't have hesitated to drop everything for her if the situation was reversed but the fact she had to ask if I needed her made it obvious that her job was more important to her than I was.
I am who I am now, like it or not. I needed to learn how to adapt to disappointment without causing Dani to put her life on hold.
"No, it's okay baby." I tried to sound reassuring. "We can talk when you get home tonight, I'm going to go lay down. I'm a big boy, shit I mean girl. Hell, whatever I am, I can take care of myself for a little while."
"If you say so then I need to let you go." She said in a tone that led me to believe she needed to get back to work.
I forced myself to sound cheerful. "I do. This is our life now and I'm going to be fine. Knowing I'll see you in a few hours is enough for now. Go back to work and I'll have dinner ready when you get home. I'm sorry to bother you but I thought you would want to know. I love you."
Dani sighed in relief. "I love you too. I'll be home around seven or so."
She ended our call before I could reply. I wanted so badly to crawl into my self-pity. Instead I forced myself to drive into town and buy some shipping boxes for all the clothes we had bought.
Ryan waved me down as I pulled back into the compound.
"What's this I hear about you quitting?" He asked after I rolled my window down.
I nodded. "Yeah, we agreed to disagree and they agreed to release me from my contract."
"Why? Just because you didn't like that Dave came up with a better stunt?"
I was shocked Ryan would think that. "You should know better than that. It's dangerous and we don't have enough crew to pull it off. Someone's going to get killed."
Ryan reached in the car and tweaked my nose. "You worry too much dudette."
I frowned. "I get paid a lot of money to worry about these things. You need to call out tomorrow. I'd hate to see anything happen to you."
He leaned in the window. "I'll be fine. I'm too pretty for anything to happen to me."
I felt real fear for my friend as I stared him in the eyes. "Please don't do this Ry, I'm begging you. I've got a bad feeling about it."
He sighed as he realized I was serious. "You know I can't do that. If I were to call out it could ruin me."
I shook my head. "Better to be ruined than hurt or worse. Plus if I'm right an injury could ruin you too."
He rested his head on the windowsill of my door. "Don't do this to me Cal. I have to work tomorrow, please don't be mad."
I patted his head. "I'm sorry I put you in this position but I love you too much to take a chance on anything happening to you."
He looked up and his eyes met mine. "I have no choice about it."
I forced a smile I didn't feel. "I can see your mind is set. Break a leg."
Ryan smiled as he reached in to hug me. "Thanks. I love you, you know."
I nodded and returned his embrace. "I love you too."
Once home I realized the need to stay busy so I wouldn't have time to think so I packed up most of the clothes Dani and I had bought before addressing and stacking them near the door.
It was sort of depressing that that stacks weren't that high but it was the best I could do.
I went about making supper, it wasn't fancy but I was not feeling up to going all out tonight.
I had just poured myself a glass of wine when Dani walked in and took it from my hand.
"Thanks." She said as she took a large gulp.
"Bad day?" I asked.
"Yeah, I had to field a lot of questions about why you quit. So are you going to tell me what happened?"
I could tell she was annoyed with me.
I led her to the table. "I'll tell you while we eat."
She rolled her eyes as she saw me bring out the spaghetti. "Oh great, more pasta. I know your meeting didn't last that long."
I stared at her wondering where the hell my wife went. "If you'll look in the living room I did pack all my clothes to be shipped back. What has been with you the last few days?"
She glared at me. "Nothing just had a lot on my mind."
During dinner Dani asked again about what happened. I expected her to be more sympathetic to how differently I had been treated compared to before but her main message was. "Welcome to womanhood." She went on to explain how that men easily discredit most ideas from a woman for no better reason than the fact they came from a woman.
She was quick to let me know I never should have quit and had totally overreacted to the situation.
After I realized our conversation was making me feel worse instead of better so I steered the topic toward her.
She talked excitedly about getting to be close to the set tomorrow.
"You can't go tomorrow." I said anxiously.
She sipped her wine. "Why not?"
"It's dangerous and I don't want to take any chances."
Dani laughed. "Being a little overdramatic aren't you?"
My anger spiked. "Not in the least. I have a bad feeling about it. I won't let you go."
Dani slammed her glass down. "You won't let me? You have got to be kidding me. Look Cali, I know you are upset but I have a job to do."
I stared at her, getting angrier by the second. "No job is worth your life."
She rolled her eyes. "Says the professional stuntwoman. Who do you think you are trying to force me to stay away from my job?"
I knew her mind was made up and nothing I could say or do would change her mind. I slowly got out of my chair and walked to the door. "I don't know anymore, I guess I'm just a nobody. I'll be back later. I need some air."
"Come back in a better mood." Dani yelled at my back as I closed to door.
I walked through the compound and into the woods. Maybe a hundred yards deep in the forest I found a path and followed it until I came across a fallen tree.
Instead of crawling over the damaged piece of nature, I sat on the ground and braced my back against it. I looked to the heavens and screamed. "Where are the power and gifts you promised?"
I buried my head in my hands. "I'm weaker than ever."
My mind swam with the events of the day. I had never been so disrespected in my adult life. The men completely ignored very obvious flaws in Dave's plan. Even worse, they scoffed at me when I pointed them out. They had the nerve to call me too emotional to see the logic.
And Aaron, he barely defended me. It was merely a token effort at best. I bet he didn't even talk to them after I left. It hurt to know he felt this way about me but it's best to find out now and cut my losses while I still had my male emotions to help rationalize things.
What was with Dani tonight? She was borderline mean. Maybe it was my fault, before my transformation our life revolved around her but lately I've been all me, me, me and I wasn’t worth anybody’s focus.
I guess she's had her fill of tending to my needs for a while but I'm not sure I can live like this. She says she loves me more than anything but tonight it felt like she might love me more than anything but herself. I guess I have to decide if I can live that way.
With more questions than answers I slowly made my way back to our trailer. I noticed all the lights were off as I arrived and found Dani sleeping sprawled out in bed. I tried to crawl in without disturbing her but she mumbled a few curse words and pushed me away. I leaned in to kiss her perfect lips in the hopes that she would move enough that I could lie down but she only turned her head and formed a look on her face as if she tasted something bad.
Instead of trying anything else, I quietly gathered a sleep shirt and blanket before making my way to the couch. I realized as I tried to go to sleep that Dani no longer respected me. She was the same as everyone else, myself included, who assumed I was weak and not worthy of respect. More than a few tears fell before I found a fitful slumber filled with nightmares of past abuse.
A little after nine in the morning I awoke to a sore back, a cramping stomach and a note.
We have never gone to bed angry before. Why are you on the couch? Running away from your problems doesn't solve them. I know you are feeling sorry for yourself but this is not easy for me either. I'd like to see how you would react if I put you through what you have put me through lately.
I love you even when you act irrational,
I sighed as I wadded up the note and tossed it across the room. She had no idea what she did to me last night. Any hope I had of becoming happy with my new lot in life was destroyed.
I slowly made my way to the bathroom to take care of the usual morning duties. I had just finished dressing when I heard the explosions from the stunt over a mile away.
I prayed I was wrong about everything but my gut was still telling me I was right. I desperately called Dani's number to make sure she was all right but she didn't answer. I dialed her again as I started toward the door only pausing when I reached the living room to make sure she had not left her phone on the table.
Once outside, I saw way too much smoke over the horizon and panicked. My only thought was getting to the woman I loved.
In a matter of moments after it entered my mind that I needed to find her, I was standing in front of a trailer than had blown on its side. I noticed an odd odor and scanned the area to find the source, which turned out to be a couple of small propane tanks attached to the front.
I knew I needed to act quickly before it blew so I climbed the under carriage like a ladder before I eased my way across what was now the top toward the door. I opened it to see Dani and Gregorio lying underneath a few cabinets and assorted furniture that had fallen on them after the trailer tipped on its side.
I dropped through the opening and hurriedly removed the debris. To my relief she was breathing but outside of that, I had clue as to the extent of her injuries.
I crawled to the large back window and kicked it out rather easily. Next I gathered my wife in my arms and struggled to move her. I quickly realized I could not carry her entire weight so I repositioned myself behind her shoulders and dragged her through the debris to a safe distance.
I returned to Gregorio and repeated the process. As I placed him next to a stirring Dani the trailer exploded. I instinctively dove over her body to provide a shield from the flying debris.
"Are you okay?" I asked after everything stopped falling.
She started to sit up and look around. "I think so, what happened? It looks like a war zone."
For the first time since I arrived I looked around, cars were strewn everywhere and most of the trailers had some type of damage but the one I pulled Dani and her coworker from had been completely destroyed.
I sighed. "Let's not worry about what happened, let's make sure you and Gregorio are okay."
I heard a low moan coming from an overturned car nearby. I looked back at Dani who was already leaning over to check on the small man she worked with. "Go ahead, I'll be alright. See if anyone else needs help."
I ran in the direction of the noise and saw another stuntman lying underneath the wall of the recently destroyed trailer that had flown about fifty feet. I quickly lifted the wall off him before reaching behind his shoulders to drag him to safety next to Dani and Gregorio.
I took off again looking for survivors and paused when I saw the bottom part of two legs sticking out from under an older car that had been flipped on its side. I rushed around the other side to see Ryan's shoulders and head sticking out from the other side. I screamed at top of my lungs at the sight of my best friend with blood trickling from his nose and the corner of his mouth.
"Dani, get an ambulance, a crane or a wrecker or something. Ryan's hurt bad." I yelled.
I leaned next to him. "It'll be okay Ry. Just hold on. I'm going to get help."
"Don't leave me Cal. I'm scared." Ryan said as he looked up at me from the ground.
Dani suddenly appeared. "Help is on the way, I just saw a lot of people running this direction."
I tried to move the car off him but it wouldn't budge. Instead, I sat in the dirt next to the person who had always been there for me. "I'm not going anywhere Ryborg. Stay with me brother."
I don't know why but using his nickname from when we were kids seemed appropriate.
He managed a weak smile. "It's been a long time since you've called me that. You were right I should have listened. Now I'm afraid it's too late."
I ran my fingers through his hair wishing help would hurry up. "It's NOT too late. You have to hold on because I can't lose what little family I have."
He coughed up some blood and I tilted his head to the side so he wouldn't choke. He ended up spraying me with his red life force as he couched again.
I looked up at Dani. "Go see where the help is."
My wife nodded sadly as she turned quickly.
"We had some great times didn't we Cali?" Ryan said as soon as he caught his breath.
I smiled as I remembered all the wonderful memories we shared. "That we did Ry, you were at almost every major milestone in my life."
He tried to laugh. "What do you mean almost? We have always been there for each other. Can you do me a favor?"
I nodded. "Anything, you know you only have to ask."
He winced in pain and struggled to speak. "Tell my parents I love them."
I wiped some of the sweat from his forehead with the tail of my top. "You can tell them yourself."
His stare started to appear vacant. "No, I don't think I can. Reach out to Evie. She can help you deal with your changes. Thank for always being there for me. I think it's time to go. I love ya Ty."
"I love ya too Ry. Stay with me brother." I implored as I saw the light leave my best friend's eyes.
I tried shaking him. "Don't you dare leave me Darryl Ryan Crews!"
I met his lips with mine so I could push air into his lungs, I couldn't do proper CPR due to the fact there was a car on his chest.
I burst into uncontrollable tears when he didn't respond. It seemed like an eternity that I held my best friend's head in my arms as I rocked back and forth.
Dani placed her hand on my shoulder but I shrugged her off while I screamed at her. "I tried to tell you this was going to happen but you were just like everyone else. Nobody believed me and look what happened."
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed an emergency crew approaching with Dave and Aaron following close behind. I wanted to leap off the ground and wrap my hands around Dave's neck. I wanted to choke the life out of him as payment for what happened to my best friend but instead I stood and stared at the both of my former friends without saying a word.
I dropped down and placed one last kiss on Ryan's cheek before I turned to Dani. "Let's get you to an ambulance."
"I'm fine." She tried to argue.
I tightened my grip on her hand making her wince as I jerked her forward with such force that she started to stumble. "This one time you are GOING to do what I ask. Besides, did you let me get away with going straight home the other night?"
Her eyes filled with shock at my outburst and she allowed me to lead her to a waiting ambulance.
No matter how much we argued with the crew, since our marriage was not legally recognized, they would not allow me to accompany her. I assured her I would soon follow in the car. As soon as they took off I started walking back toward the compound.
Dave approached from behind to say something but I never allowed him the chance. I turned abruptly and took on an offensive posture as I wiped Ryan's blood from my lips.
"If you value your miserable life, you might do well not to speak to me right now. I'm only hanging on by a thread and any excuse you give will be like using a pair of sharp scissors to cut it."
I was trembling with an anger I never knew I was capable of as I turned to Aaron. "You better get him away from me or I swear to everything that is holy that I will take his life in trade for my best friend."
Dave immediately recognized that I was serious and took off running in the opposite direction.
Aaron started to speak but I cut him off. "If you had believed in me this could have been avoided."
He was about to reply but I turned and ran back toward the Mini so I could get to Dani.
I saw the Sheriff's SUV barreling up the dirt path and jumped in the middle of the road hoping he would stop so I could prepare him for what he would see.
Mr. Crews stopped beside me and rolled down his window. "Are you okay Cali?"
I shook my head. "I have to tell you something"
He nodded and unlocked the passenger's side so I could join him. "Are you hurt? That's a lot of blood."
My tears started anew. "This isn't mine sir. It's Ryan's. He didn't make it. I tried to save him but he didn't make it."
All color left his face. "Oh dear Lord. Please don't tell me this."
My entire body started to shake. "I wish I didn't have to tell you but I couldn't let you pull in there without knowing. I was with him when he passed. He wanted me to tell you and Mrs. Crews that he loved you."
His trembling hand reached across and clasped mine. "Thank You Cali. I'm glad you were with him. It's comforting to know he wasn't alone in the end."
I tried to be strong but couldn't. I dissolved into nothing more than puddle of hysterics. "I owe him my life in more ways than you know. I don’t where I would be right now without him taking me away from here. This never should have happened. I told them it was a disaster waiting to happen but nobody would listen. I begged him not to work today. I tried everything I could to save him. I swear I did. Now my best friend is dead and my wife is on her way to the hospital all because I was too weak to get them to listen."
Mr. Crews allowed me to vent before he spoke. "I know you two were closer than anybody so I can only imagine how much you're hurting. I need to get to my wife and you need to get to yours. We can talk about this later but I will want to know what you meant by you warned them."
I nodded as I stepped out of the car. "Yes sir, I guess you’re right and I'll be happy to tell you everything. If you need anything please call me and also let me know after you make arrangements."
As soon as I closed the door to his SUV he hurried on to the accident scene. I walked back to the trailer in a daze.
I was becoming numb. A large part of me died with Ryan, he was such an essential part of my life that I didn't know how I could survive without him. Thankfully I had Dani and I never needed her more.
No wait, I didn’t really have her anymore. Ty had Dani and their love was forever. I no longer felt the same type of love from her as before so maybe I didn’t have her after all. My feelings for her were just as strong though and I needed to get to the hospital to check on her.
I was about to hop in the Mini until I saw my reflection in the window and decided I needed to change before I went to the hospital.
Changing took longer than expected because I had a problems fastening my shorts so I opted for a pair of sweat pants and one of Dani's comfortable tee shirts instead
On the way to check on Dani I worried about her health, I mourned my oldest friend and silently fumed over the changes I had to endure. If I were still a man I would have had more strength to remove the car from Ryan. If I had been a man, I could have accompanied my wife to the hospital in the ambulance. Most importantly, if I were still a man, the accident would have never happened because the men would have taken me at my word.
Dani was waiting outside the emergency room when I arrived and jumped in the car before I even came to a complete stop. She leaned across the small interior and wrapped her arms around me. "I'm so sorry Baby. I should have listened to you."
I rubbed her back gently as I put up a wall that blocked my emotions in a safe place far from the surface. "What did the doctors say?"
She sighed as I looked at her. While still beautiful, she looked like she felt horrible with many bruises visible and her gorgeous eyes swollen from crying.
"I'm going to be sore for a few days but otherwise fine."
I frowned thinking I couldn’t comfort her while she had been waiting to be checked out at the emergency room. "I’m sorry I couldn’t go with you in the ambulance."
Her voice suddenly sounded annoyed with me. "Please don’t make this another poor you got turned into a woman scenario. I know full well that if you were still a man it would not have happened and frankly, I don’t care. I don’t think I could take another one of your pity parties right now."
Any feelings or emotions I considered sharing were immediately locked away deep inside my dark place as I patted her hand gently. "Let's go back to the trailer so we can get you cleaned up."
The drive back to the compound mainly consisted of Dani talking about herself and Gregorio, who I found out suffered a broken arm and sprained ankle.
At our temporary home I silently cursed the fact we did not have a bathtub. It was obvious Dani needed a long soak. I did the best I could to help as I slowly undressed and slipped behind her so I could wash her hair since I didn't want her to exert herself anymore than necessary.
She released a soft moan as my fingers massaged her scalp. After I rinsed the shampoo and worked in some conditioner she turned to me. "How are holding up?"
I smiled. "I'm fine Baby, don't worry about me."
She started to argue with me but I cut her off by rinsing her hair. I winced with pain as a cramp so severe I almost double over in pain struck me. I suddenly felt something warm on the insides of my thighs. I looked down and gasped as I noticed blood trickling down my legs.
Dani turned around to see what was wrong and her eyes filled with amusement as she realized what was happening. "Oh no, it didn't even cross my mind you would have these. Relax it's perfectly normal. I go through this every month and it's only natural that we have our periods at the same time."
While inside I was freaking out, the wall my mind constructed allowed me to appear calm and unhurt by her disregard of such a traumatic moment.
I nodded as Dani explained what I needed to do. I followed the instructions she gave me as I inserted the tampon. To say it felt weird and foreign to my male side would be the understatement of the century but to my female side it felt like a necessary evil for the ability to bring life into the world.
Another part of me died while my wife started to get annoyed when I had trouble with something that was apparently so basic that she learned how to do it when she was only twelve. It was an important and yet harrowing new part of my life and all she could do was get angry or laugh.
I continued to act like everything was fine as I led Dani to the bedroom. She made it abundantly clear to me in her note that my change was hard for her accept. Besides, I was seriously starting to doubt if she was worried about me at all.
I wanted to be mad at her but the sight of her unconscious under the pile of rubble in the overturned makeup trailer was a memory that would haunt my nightmares for years to come. She had to be physically hurting more than she was allowing to show.
I quickly heated up a bowl of soup and filled her glass with water before returning to her with one of the pain pills Gabe gave me. "Take this, I know you have to be sore."
She shook her head. "I'm fine. I don't need that, it will make me want to sleep and then I'll be up all night. I don't want you to be alone right now."
I smiled and leaned down to give her a kiss. "I'm fine so long as I am taking care of you. It's what I do best."
Dani smiled. "Yes it is. You take great care of me."
I placed the pill in her hand. "Let me do my job and take this. I saw what all fell on you. Trust me, you'll thank me later."
Dani's voice started to crack after she swallowed the painkiller. "I’m sorry about what I said earlier. You just lost your best friend and are experiencing serious changes, yet you still focus your energies on me. I love you so much."
"I lost my best male friend and it hurts but that's not what is important right now." I placed my hand over her heart above her perfect breast. "You are my best friend. I couldn't continue if I lost you. I love you more than life itself."
Dani pulled me close. "I feel the exact same way."
"I think you'd survive just fine without me." I muttered so soft she couldn't hear me.
She didn’t know it but her damage had been done with precise blows on my already injured psyche. She might think she loved me but it was out of obligation. Nobody could really love someone like me now.
I curled beside her on our bed until I knew she was asleep. I slowly worked my way from her arms and walked out to the chairs we had set up in the small area behind the trailer. In the distance I could see where Ryan had been staying and the weight of his loss hit me hard.
I once again took stock of my life and quickly realized the world would have been better off had Zaria not saved me. Ryan would still be walking around joking, Dani wouldn't be lying in bed injured and countless others would have never been hurt.
Another cramp rocked my body reminding me the flesh I lived in was really not my own.
I hated who I had become. I was much more comfortable as man. I didn't have to deal with people underestimating my intelligence, didn't fret over men I considered friends forcing themselves on me like Gabe did, I didn't ever worry about Aaron questioning my work and most certainly did not have to hide how I felt about my wife in public.
If Dani's attitude the last couple of days was any indication, then she was obviously tiring of dealing with my changes. She deserved better than the life I was forcing her to live.
Seeing her so close to death made me realize that I loved her too much to make her spend the rest of her life with whatever I was now.
I walked back into the house and penned a note that I left by her side. I gently placed a final kiss on her cheek before I grabbed the large bottle of painkillers along with a bottle of whiskey before I walked out of the trailer and into the woods.
Athena looked down at scene unfolding. "This is cruel cousin, even by our standards. I know you said you needed to break her but isn't this going too far?"
Zaria nodded. "I never foresaw this happening. I thought she would adapt better but I also counted on my daughter offering more support. Callista was very proud of her accomplishments as a male, she was very happy with her lot in life. Sadly I didn't take into account how much damage her father had done to her psyche. He somehow convinced her women are very much the weaker sex and once again, my daughter has not done anything to help diminish those feelings. I was also so focused on how she would react to the confirmation of womanhood that I allowed the accident to get out of hand. A death of any kind, much less that of one of her anchors, was not in the plans."
"At least it's not Pompeii." Athena said as she watched Callista sit beside a fallen tree and place over half the bottle of narcotics in her mouth before chasing them down with a square bottle of whiskey. "She is doing this willingly. You can't undo what has been done."
Zaria appeared determined. "I can't but I know someone who can."
"Daughter wake up."
Dani stirred and opened her eyes. The serious expression Zaria wore caused her to sit up. "What's wrong?"
Zaria pointed to the note Callista had left.
Dani opened it quickly.
My dearest Dani,
I realize now I should have never been given a second chance as nothing good has come of it. My best friend is dead and you are injured along with I don't know how many others. My heart sank when I saw you unconscious this morning, it was only made worse knowing that had I not changed, you would have never been in such a situation.
My sole purpose in life is to make your life a happy one and you let me know this morning that my changes are not easy for you. Knowing how close you were to dying today has made me realize you deserve a better life than I can offer.
What has happened is not easy for me either and I can't burden you to be stuck in a life such as this. I swore to honor and protect you, to make every day of your life full of joy. You have not been happy since my change and I feel you only stay with me because you feel like you have no choice.
I love you more than life itself and that is why I am making the choice for you. I have come to understand that the only way to keep my vows to you is to give back the gift I was given and accept what fate had planned before your mother intervened.
If you love me like you say then please grant my last request. Love again without worry about how I would feel. I always have and always will want nothing but your happiness.
I Love You and only You,
Her eyes turned to her mother filled with fear. "What have I done? I've never known her to be a quitter. Can you save her?"
Zaria shook her head. "I can't but you can if you get to her in time. I can take you to her but the rest will be up to you."
Dani stood quickly. "What are we waiting for?"
Zaria sighed sadly. "You must understand that you must give of your life force. You will forever be linked if you wish to save her. Unlike what I did, your gift will be far more personal as you are saving her because of love. The resulting feelings can be intense because not only are you granting her a portion of our powers, she will grant you a portion of her humanity."
Dani nodded as her mother continued. "Also understand that Callista is broken, not beyond repair, but she will require your unfailing love and support if she is to recover. She feels shame over her changes, guilt over the accident, despair over the loss of her closest friend and your recent actions and attitude have left her shattered. She felt she had no other choice."
"Cali already has my unfailing love and support and she knows it." Dani replied adamantly.
Her mother raised a questioning eyebrow. "Does she? She would not be feeling the need to protect you from her pain if she felt that way. Your relationship is not an even split at the moment and Callista is hurting because of it. I blame myself for always giving you everything you desired without having to work for it."
Zaria's tone became firm. "If you are not willing to work as hard in this as your wife always has done, then you need to let her go now because saving her only to have someone to take care of you would be cruel."
Dani didn't even need to think about her answer. "I love her completely. Let's go Mother."
They arrived deep in the forest behind the compound and Dani started to shake as she saw Callista's lifeless body.
She ran to petite red haired beauty and gathered the love of her life in her trembling arms. "Wake up! Don't leave me baby! Please wake up."
Zaria placed her hand on her daughter's shoulder in an attempt to calm her.
Dani looked over to her mother in a panic. "Will she survive?"
Zaria spoke in a stern voice. "It is up to you. You can save her physically but emotionally she will require much love and total devotion. You have hurt her greatly."
Dani stared at her mother. "Why do you keep saying that? Why would I dare hurt the person I love? I have been totally supportive." She said defensively.
Zaria sighed. "Oh Danica, have you? Last night when she expressed her concerns did you take them seriously or did you dismiss them in much the same manner everyone else had? If you will remember, she did offer to stay home the night she saved me because of your concerns but you insisted she go."
"When you knew she was upset at how she had been treated by her colleagues, did you offer compassion or did you make your usual attempts at humor? I’ll have you know she always listens to your concerns and places a priority on them no matter how trivial they appear to her because she feels if they are important enough for you to voice then they are important enough for her to consider."
"When she didn't come to bed did you get up to find out why or did you get upset and leave a letter deflecting the blame onto her? Did it ever cross your selfish mind tried but your actions prevented it and she knew you had a bad day and needed to be up early so she did not want to disturb you?"
Dani's mother's voice rose slightly in anger. "Today her only concern was to take care of you after having her only lifelong friend die in her arms. She made you a meal and insured you were comfortable even after you insulted her as she picked you up from the hospital."
Rain started falling as Zaria’s words flooded over her daughter. "Today Callista experienced what is traumatic for girls the first time it happens. Can you imagine what it would be like after spending twenty-eight years as a male to have that happen? She was scared, embarrassed and confused all at the same time but she buried her feelings to take care of you."
Zaria glared at her youngest daughter. "Tell me daughter, did you offer loving support and encouragement or did you find it funny and then get annoyed that she didn't do everything exactly right the first time? Have you been treating her as the true equal she is or have you been treating her as the young girl she appears to be?"
Dani looked away in shame.
Her mother's anger reached epic proportions. Lightning filled the sky as she gripped Dani's chin and roughly turned her face so their eye's met. "You will look at me while I am speaking to you. From what I have seen you have been treating her with the same disrespect you did shortly after you two met. The difference is that now she doesn't have the self respect to stand up to you and you exploited it for your benefit."
Dani broke down into uncontrollable sobs as she rocked Cali's limp body in her arms. "Oh Mother, what have I done? I would sooner cut off my arm as to hurt her in any way. I have been horrid, how can I fix this?"
Zaria knelt beside her daughter before pulling her into her arms. "Learn from your mistakes. Rebuild the trust you lost and never let her go. She still has great things ahead but only if she realizes her potential. Take the time to show her why you love being a woman because right now she has only seen the bad."
Dani nodded. "I don't deserve her Mother. Thank you for opening my eyes. I owe you everything. I will not let you down again."
"No you don't deserve her but she loves you. Did you know she only sacrificed herself in the cave because she thought I was you? Would you be willing to make such a sacrifice? It is not I that you need not let down again, it is her. I still believe you are capable of great things."
Dani leaned over Callista to offer her the kiss of life but before their lips met Zaria stopped her.
"You do understand the consequences of what you are about do, don't you?"
Dani nodded. "Yes. I will give Callista an equal share in my powers. Which combined with what you have given her, will make her among the most powerful."
"Do you also understand the repercussions for yourself?" Zaria asked.
Once again Dani nodded. "I will become more human in my emotions and the bond Cali and I share will grow infinitely."
Danica’s mother smiled at her youngest daughter. "I believe both of you will see great benefit from this. Once she comes into her own I will call you home so she can be properly trained. She will become our greatest protector."
"I understand Mother." Dani replied.
I woke up to a long finger being shoved down my throat. I turned away and emptied the undigested pills and alcohol all over the plants next to me.
"Talk to me Cali. Are you okay?" Dani asked anxiously.
Although my mind was very cloudy I slowly realized I failed in my task and started sobbing uncontrollably. "Why did you do that? Leave me alone."
Dani said nothing as she shoved her finger in my mouth again causing my gag reflex to kick in.
After another round of expelling my stomach I turned toward my wife. "Stop doing that."
Dani shook me violently. "Have you lost your mind? How could you do this to me?"
I pulled away and my wall went up. "Oh, how stupid of me. I forgot it's all about you."
She pulled me tightly to her chest as her lips met mine. Suddenly I felt a small charge flow through me and my mouth filled with the taste of honey.
"I'm sorry, I'm so very sorry. It's not about me at all." She cried after she ended our kiss.
Inside I was dead. I didn't deserve anyone caring for me and I sure didn't want anyone's, especially Dani's, pity. I tried to escape her grasp but as usual since I changed, I was too weak to get away.
"Please let me go." I begged in an emotionless tone.
Dani's hold only became tighter. "Never."
I stopped fighting her and rolled my eyes but said nothing, mainly because my mind was still too cloudy to think straight.
Sleep was trying it's best to overtake me and she turned my head so I could face her. "Let me take you home and get you cleaned up."
I shook my head as a yawn escaped. I noticed the other half a bottle of pain killers and attempted to reach for them. "I'm not your concern. You have enough to worry about. I'll just lie here til I feel up to walking."
Her eyes filled with pain. "Not my concern? You don't believe that do you?"
I nodded slowly and the weight of my eyelids became more than I could bear as I held the bottle close so that I knew where it was in case I woke up and needed to try again. "I don't blame you. I was barely worth a care before everything and now I'm not worth anything."
"Stay with me Baby!" Dani screamed as she shook Callista.
Zaria stepped to her side. "She will recover but will sleep til the morn."
Dani wiped her eyes as she looked up. "Thank you Mother. We will make you proud."
Zaria leaned down and kissed her daughter. "You already have. I will be in touch. Live well young one."
As soon as her mother disappeared, Dani lifted Callista in her arms and started walking back toward the trailer. She wept as leaned in to give her wife’s unconscious lips a light kiss. "I’m sorry Baby, I’ll never let you down again."
Dani was startled by a jeep barreling across the grass towards her as she emerged from the woods. It stopped just before it reached her and Aaron jumped out before rushing to her side.
"What happened?" The worried man asked as he ran a hand through Callista's hair.
Dani pulled her away from him and kept walking toward the trailer. "Stay away from her, don't act like you care now."
Aaron dropped his hands to his side. "You have no idea how sorry I am that didn't listen to her. I did follow some of her suggestions which managed to prevent the accident from being worse."
Dani rolled her eyes. "It was no accident. To call it an accident would infer it could not been prevented but I'm sure Ryan appreciates your efforts. You should have listened to her. You hired her for a reason."
Aaron sighed. "I know I screwed up. It's a mistake I'll never make again. That is if she'll ever trust me again."
Tears started to fall from Dani's eyes. "I think we all have to regain her trust. If she had not shown up Gregorio and I would be dead."
Aaron gasped as he stared at her. "What do you mean?"
"I don't have time to get into it. I need to get her cleaned up and into bed." Dani said as she started to feel the strain of carrying her wife and trying to unlock her front door at the same time.
"What happened? Do you need me to call an ambulance?"
Dani shook her head. "I got to her in time, thankfully. She needs to sleep this off."
Aaron took Callista from Dani's arms. "Let me carry her, it's the least I can do at the moment."
Aaron followed Dani and laid Callista on their bed. He listened intently as Dani went on to explain how Callista had saved them right before the trailer blew up while she cleaned Cali up with a washrag. He left the room to allow them privacy as Dani changed her wife's clothes.
Dani gasped at the bruises and splinters on Callista’s back. She instinctively knew it was from the debris that Cali had shielded her from.
Dani was still crying as she joined Aaron in the living room. She told him about just realizing Cali was injured and about her being with Ryan as he passed away and her efforts to save him. She explained her wife’s mental state and how that Cali felt betrayed by everyone that refused to take her concerns seriously as well as feeling guilty about not doing enough to prevent the accident and how she attempted to take her own life because of everything.
Aaron wiped his eyes. "I really let her down. She's like a daughter to me and I let her down. I have no idea how to make this right."
Dani buried her knees to her chest. "We all did. Remember I was at the location too. I let her down more than anyone because she trusted me most to listen."
She hit herself in the head feeling the need to torture herself somehow. "Even after she begged me not to go, I still went. I don't know how I am going to get her to forgive me." Her tear stained eyes looked up at the man sitting across from her. "I can't lose her Aaron, I can't survive without her."
Aaron smiled. "Cali loves you Dani, she'd never leave you."
Dani sighed sadly. "But she did try to leave me. Had I not found her she would be gone right now."
He reached over to take her hand so he could reassure her. "She's hurting and she’s not herself at the moment. She hasn't been herself since the air bag malfunctioned under her. She's understandably upset and didn't feel like she had anyone to turn to. We just need to make sure she knows she is not alone."
Aaron paused when he appeared to have an idea. "The movie is delayed while the investigation is ongoing but regardless, you are done with your work here. Focus on that young lady in the other room and call me if you need anything. I know she will want to stay around for Ryan's funeral so I will arrange for you two to move into the same lodge we reserved for the stars tomorrow. I want you to keep the rental car as long as you need."
Dani looked up and smiled. "Thank you. What will happen when the investigation is over? Will Cali or you be in trouble?"
Aaron started to stand. "Legally no. Since we were on a video conference call, Cali's concerns and resignation were recorded and I already have a copy. Even her and Dave's argument in the hall was recorded since they were so loud. I'm also safe because after she left I agreed with her but was outvoted. I did manage to implement a few changes based on her recommendations and that helps my case. The others may be in for a world of hurt though."
He sighed. "Monetarily is a different matter altogether. If you, Gregorio or especially Ryan's family sues they will have no trouble proving negligence. Insurance only covers so much and the rest will come out of my pocket. It's another lesson that I always need to follow my gut instincts."
He noticed Dani wince slightly as she moved her legs to stand. "I almost forgot. How are you physically?"
Dani stood slowly to escort him to the door. "Just a few bump and bruises along with some scratches. It should have been worse but thanks to Cali I'll be fine. You don't have to worry about me."
Aaron offered Dani a hug. "Thank goodness for that. Don't forget to call if you need anything at all."
After closing the door behind her visitor Dani walked back to the bedroom and sat on the side of the bed. She ran her fingers through Cali's long red hair as her love slept peacefully. Cali responded to her touch and curled her little body around where Dani was sitting.
Dani leaned down and placed a kiss on her cheek. "I love you so much and I promise that I will never give you a reason to doubt that again."
Dani crawled into the bed and held Callista tight regretting her actions but also thanking her mother for the chance to make things right. She knew that from this point forward she would do whatever it took to show her wife everyday how much she meant to her.
I awoke the next morning feeling rested. The smell of freshly cooked bacon filled my nostrils. I looked up to see Dani standing over me with a tray of food.
"How are you feeling Baby?" She asked as she sat down beside me and pushed some hair away from my face.
The fullness of my bladder didn't allow me time to reply other than to say. "I gotta pee."
I jumped out of bed and rushed to the bathroom. As I sat down I noticed a small string emerging from my body and the fog in my mind started to clear.
How did I end up in bed? Why is Dani being nice? Did she find me and bring me home? Why am I still alive?
I sighed and finished taking care of everything I needed to do before I returned to our bedroom. Amazingly certain things were far less traumatic to handle than they were they day before.
I smiled meekly. "Thank you for breakfast. How did you find me?"
Dani guided me back into bed before she sat beside me. "You're welcome and Mother told me where you were."
I frowned. "Great, another favor from her. What will this one cost me?"
Dani pulled me into a hug. "Don't be like that. I'm grateful she did. I'm sorry I let you down. Can you ever forgive me?"
I tensed at her touch. I didn't deserve her affection. "There's nothing to forgive. I told you from the beginning I never wanted you to change who you are for me."
Hurt fell across Dani's perfect face. "You really think I'm so selfish that I only care about myself? I will never be able to forgive myself for doing that to you."
I frowned. "I didn't say that. What I mean is, you have your life to live and I've always prided myself in the fact that you didn't have to change who you are to make me happy. I never wanted to take over your life, I only wanted to be a part of it."
Dani appeared confused. "What does that mean?"
I decided to just lay all my cards on the table. What's the worst that could happen? She'd get mad and leave? It would be better for her to leave than to spend the rest of her life with someone like me.
Plus with her gone my next attempt would succeed.
"You are who you are which is a perfect, strong willed, high maintenance woman. I knew I never deserved to be with you so I have worked hard to enhance your life. I could always consider us equals so long as you were happy but since I've changed, you are slowly slipping back into that person I saw when we first met and I can't take it. You see a young woman and have been treating me as such. You know I'm willing to give up some control but I have a hard line and you've crossed it few times lately."
My best efforts to control my emotions failed as a tear started to fall. "I know you want to know why I did what I did so I'll tell you. I feel like I'm failing and bringing you down with me. I might be able to survive in this body if things were still the same between us but it’s not."
I turned away so she didn’t have to see this tiny body cry and appear even weaker. "I can't live with you not being happy and damn sure can't live without you. I hate who I am now and you let me know it troubled you as well. I figured taking me out of the equation was the best solution for both of us."
For the first time Dani truly felt the depth of feelings Cali had for her and it overwhelmed her because she was not worthy of such strong emotions.
Dani wiped her eyes. "I can never apologize enough. I'm sorry for how I disregarded your warnings. I'm sorry for not being more understanding about what you are going through. I'm sorry for how I've been treating you but what I'm most sorry for is not letting you know much you mean to me."
She took my hands in hers and dropped to her knees in front of me. "I love you Callista Dawn Zoyra. I love you more than anything. I can't live without you and I promise to do everything within my power to help you adjust to our new life together. I know I hurt and betrayed you. Please give me a chance to make things right by you. Can you do that?"
I sat stunned by her admission. My wife was not one to admit her mistakes, much less apologize for them. I have learned from our past together that when she reaches this point she will keep her word. I wasn’t sure though because that memory of her was from before I changed.
I wasn’t quite ready to give my trust back only to have her betray me again. That was something she would need to earn. Instead of accepting her apology I said the only truth I knew at the moment.
"I love you."
Dani appeared satisfied with my answer and hugged me again before we decided to take our food back to the kitchen to eat. Afterward, she joined me in the shower where she lovingly washed my hair before she laid out a bright orange tank top and dark blue shorts to wear while I dried off.
I started to protest as she helped me style my hair and do my makeup but she silenced me with a kiss telling me to enjoy the pampering.
I noticed four suitcases and she explained we were moving out. I didn't argue since I had never been fond of the trailer we were staying in and the compound held nothing but bad memories.
Once on the road I asked Dani where we were going but she just smiled and told me it was a secret. I tried to remind her that we didn't keep secrets from each other but she didn't give in. I even tried pouting but all that accomplished was her reaching across to tickle me.
I turned to her as we entered Pigeon Forge. "Are we going here or on to Gatlinburg?"
Dani said nothing until we pulled into an upscale outlet mall. "I want to play miniature golf but unfortunately we need proper clothes for Ryan's service before we do. Is that okay?"
I nodded sadly. "I guess it's necessary."
After we bought ourselves a couple appropriate dresses along with shoes and accessories, we returned to the Mini to place them in the back. I marveled at how attentive Dani had been.
She took the time to explain why I needed certain looks and how certain accessories matched certain dresses.
When I felt uneasy walking in the dressing room she was ready with a reassuring smile and heaped praise upon me even when she didn't like the dresses I tried on.
Dani turned to me after she closed the back hatch. "I noticed a Chinese place in the food court. How about we grab a bite before we go?"
I smiled brightly. "I'd love that."
We walked back in and ordered our food before we took our seats. I smiled across the table as I took a bite of my sesame chicken. "This is good. Thank you for today, I can't wait to play golf."
Dani grinned. "Me too. It's going to be fun, I wish we had gotten an earlier start."
Just over Dani's shoulder I noticed a little red headed girl sitting alone staring at a book. She was too small to be left by herself.
I looked around to see if her parents were somewhere getting food but I didn't see a line at any of the places. I couldn't explain why but a feeling inside me told me to reach out to her.
I looked at my wife as I wiped the corner of my lips with a napkin. "Excuse me for a second."
"Where are you going?" She asked.
I tilted my head in the direction of the girl. "I feel the need to check on that little girl."
Dani glanced behind her and gasped. "I can see why, she looks like she could be our daughter."
I nodded. "I know. I'll be right back."
"You want me to come with you?"
I shook my head. "No, I can't explain it but I think I need to talk to her alone."
I studied the girl as I walked in her direction. She was clean but her clothes didn't quite fit. If I were to guess I'd say she recently had a growth spurt but her parents couldn't afford new clothes yet. I also noticed that she was actually reading the book, not just looking at it. That part surprised me because she was so small I assumed she was too young to read.
I felt ashamed of myself for making an assumption about her that made me upset when others did the same concerning myself. I suddenly saw a lot of myself in that sad little girl.
I walked to her side. "Hi there, is your mother around?"
The little girl didn't even bother to look up from her book. "She'll be right back. I'm not supposed to talk to strangers."
I smiled. "That's right. I just wanted to make sure you're okay. I'm Cali by the way."
The adorable girl pushed a few strands of hair away from her eyes. "I have an aunt named Cali but she lives in California."
"I live in California but I used to live around here."
She finally looked up at me. I gasped slightly and why she looked so much like me became clear. "You wouldn't happen to be Kaley would you?"
She stared in shock. "How did you know that?"
I stooped down beside the beautiful girl. "I think I'm your aunt. My brother is Thomas Dawson. Is that your Daddy?"
Before Kaley had a chance to respond a woman turned the corner. "Leave my daughter alone."
I turned to see who was talking and immediately recognized the light brown haired very underweight short woman in oversized clothes as Kaley's mother. Her and my brother were already engaged before I left town. She had lost entirely too much weight from when I remembered her.
I stood and offered my hand. "Hi Trish."
She stopped short as soon as she recognized me. "Oh my God Cali. You are the last person I ever expected to see. How are you?"
I smiled. "I'm better than some, worse than others. Sorry for scaring you but I saw Kaley sitting by herself and wanted to make sure she was okay. You'd be proud of her, she told me she didn't talk to strangers."
Trish accepted my hand but only to pull me into a hug. "It's great to see you again. Don't think badly of me but I have to work and can't afford a sitter so I have Kaley stay here. The people working around at the counters keep an eye out and I come check on her as much as I can."
I smiled. "I understand. How late do you have to work? Dani and I were about to go play miniature golf. I'd love to have Kaley join us. It would give me a chance to get to know my only niece."
Trish appeared relieved by my offer and leaned closer. "Dani is your wife right?"
I nodded and waved Dani over. "There she is. You don't have a problem with us being together do it?"
Trish smiled. "Of course not. If you could take her it would be a huge burden off my mind." She turned toward her daughter. "Kaley would you like to spend the day with your Aunt Cali?"
Kaley smiled brightly. "I'd love that Mom."
"Get your stuff and put it in your bag. I'll take it with me."
Dani arrived as Kaley started packing her book bag.
Trish offered her hand to Dani. "Nice to finally meet you. I'm Trish."
Kaley walked to her mother's side and handed her the bag.
Trish leaned down to give her daughter a kiss. "Be good. I love you."
Kaley smiled up at her mother. "I love you too. Thanks for letting me do this."
Trish looked at Dani and I. "I don't get off work until eight tonight so if that's too late just bring her back. She'll show you which store I work in"
I shook my head and laughed. "I won't bring her back until I absolutely have to. I'm sure she can tell us where to park outside so we can be waiting there."
I gave Trish my cell number and she gave me the number for where she worked before she hurried back into the mall.
I turned to my niece. "We still need to finish eating are you hungry?"
Kaley nodded shyly.
Dani smiled as she bent down to greet Kaley. "Hi I'm Dani. What would you like? You can have anything you want?"
Kaley smiled. "Even ice cream?"
Dani and I laughed as Dani replied. "Especially ice cream."
After taking Kaley to get a chocolate waffle cone we took our places back at the table. Our food was cold but still edible.
Kaley looked up at me. "Are you really a stuntwoman in movies Aunt Cali?"
I nodded. "Yes and Dani does make up for the people starring in the movies."
The little girl looked over at Dani. "Really? Can you teach me how to put on makeup? Mom says I'm too young but I really need it."
Dani frowned. "Why do you think you need makeup?"
Kaley shrugged her tiny shoulders. "Cause I'm ugly."
I shook my head. "You're not ugly. I think you're beautiful."
Kaley crossed her arms as her adorable bottom lip started to poke out. "No I'm not."
Dani leaned over to my side trying her best not to laugh. "It must be a family trait."
I nodded. "Must be."
Dani smiled. "Kaley did you know you look just like your Aunt Cali did when she was your age?"
Her eyes widened. "Really?" She started to smile. "Does that mean I'll be as pretty as you when I grow up?"
I nodded. "You will be even prettier. I bet you that people will think we are sisters. Next time you see your Daddy ask him to show you some pictures of me when I was your age."
The precious little girl frowned. "I miss my Daddy."
I mentally kicked myself for causing anything other than a smile on her adorable face as I hugged her. "I know you do sweetheart."
Kaley took another lick of her ice cream. "Are you two together like Mommy and Daddy used to be?"
I nodded again. "Yes."
She smiled again as she looked at Dani. "So that makes you my aunt too?"
Dani laughed. "I guess it does. Are you okay with that?"
Kaley nodded wildly. "Uh huh. Wait til I tell my friends at school, they will be so jealous."
Dani frowned slightly. "Kaley, you need to understand that alot of people don't like the idea of two women being together. You might not want to tell everyone about that part."
Kaley appeared confused. "Why? You love each other don't you?"
We both nodded. "Yes, very much."
"You're not hurting anyone are you?" The little girl asked.
We both shook our head. "No, not at all."
She seemed to be deep in thought for a moment. "Then why do they care what you do so long as you're happy and not hurting anybody?"
I laughed and leaned across to hug my niece. "I love you so much."
Kaley smiled. "I love you too Aunt Cali."
Once we were done eating and walking toward the miniature golf course Kaley looked up at me. "Aunt Cali were you as short as me when you were nine?"
I looked down at her and shook my head. "No, I was shorter. It sucks to be treated like you're younger than you are doesn't it."
She nodded. "Yeah it does. Did you get picked on too?"
I stopped and dropped to my knees so we were face to face. "All the time but I figured out a trick to make it stop."
Kaley looked at me with awe. "You did? What is it?"
I leaned close as if I was sharing a big secret. "I didn't let them know it bothered me and I started making my own jokes about how short I was. When I started making fun of myself everyone else stopped."
Kaley pulled away slightly so she could look me in the eyes again. "And it worked?"
I nodded as I smiled. "Yep. I bet you've heard them all by now so it will be easy to make a joke before anyone else. When people see they can't get to you they stop wasting their energy."
Before I realized it Kaley's little arms were around my neck. "Thank you Aunt Cali. I wish I knew you before now."
I kissed her cheek as a small tear fell from my eye. "Me too sweetheart. Me too."
We started walking again and I noticed Kaley had more of a spring in her step. She was almost skipping as Dani leaned into my ear. "You're a natural."
I smiled and wanted so badly to kiss my wife but refrained. "Well, she's naturally lovable. Thank you for bringing me here. I needed this."
The young man that handed out the clubs made an effort to make Kaley feel special. He handed her a pink putter with a flourish in his gestures. "Since we have our very own princess playing tonight you deserve a scepter befitting such royalty."
Kaley giggled as she accepted it. "Thank you sir."
He grinned. "You're welcome your highness. Does your sister need a scepter as well?"
My niece giggled again. "She's not my sister, she my aunt."
He nodded. "My apologies Your Highness. Does your aunt find herself in need of an escort this fine afternoon?"
Kaley appeared confused. "What do you mean?"
The young man smiled hopefully in my direction and something about the look on his face made me giggle.
I dropped next to Kaley. "I think he wants to join us so he can protect us."
The little girl rolled her eyes. "Today is just us girls. You or Aunt Dani can take care of anybody that tries to bother us."
The young man turned to Dani and I before he winked. "I take it both of you playing as well?"
We nodded and he handed us everything we needed and explained the rules of the course.
"He was nice." Kaley said as we walked to the first hole.
I nodded. "I think he likes you too."
Kaley smirked as she attempted her first shot. "I'm a princess, what's not to like?"
Dani and I laughed before Dani said. "You have a point Your Highness."
While Kaley was getting ready to take her shot Dani leaned into my ear. "I don't think she was the royalty he was interested in."
I laughed. "He was just being friendly."
Dani rolled her eyes. "Uh huh, if you say so Your Highness."
While we were on the fourth hole I looked over at Kaley. "Do you like living here?"
She shrugged her little shoulders. "It's okay I guess. I miss Daddy but Mama said we had to get out of town. Granddaddy is scary."
I filled with fear over this little girl that I had totally fallen in love with. "Has he hurt you Kaley? You can tell me if he has."
She shook her head. "No but he always looked at me funny and Mama was afraid he would. She said she thought he had hurt you and she wouldn't let it happen to me." She looked up at me. "Did Granddaddy hurt you like Mama said Aunt Cali?"
I nodded sadly and led her to a bench. "Yes he did but he can't hurt anybody anymore. The police put him in jail so you never have to worry about him okay."
She appeared hopeful. "So we can move home?"
I pulled her into a hug. "I don't know sweetheart. That would be up to your Mom."
She sighed. "I hope so. I really miss Daddy."
"He misses you too. He told me so." I stood and grabbed her hand. "Ready to play again?"
She nodded and ran back to where Dani was waiting. Kaley looked up at her. "What is it like to be so tall?"
Dani smiled and lifted her up to her shoulders. "Like this. Do you like it?"
Kaley laughed. "Uh huh, this is cool."
I couldn't stop laughing as Dani handed Kaley the putter and bent over so our niece could attempt to hit the ball while still sitting on her shoulders.
After her third unsuccessful attempt to hit the ball Kaley wanted down. "I'll stick with being short. That was hard."
Once we finished the game we asked Kaley if there was anyplace she wanted to visit.
She smiled excitedly. "Wonderworks!"
Neither of knew what she was talking about and the smart little girl could tell as she said, "The upside down house."
I laughed. "I wondered what that was."
My only regret about visiting Wonderworks was that we didn't arrive sooner. It was a wild experience walking into the entrance and seeing everything upside down.
Kaley squealed with glee as we entered the inversion tunnel that made you feel as if you were being turned right side up. She loved experiencing hurricane force winds and being shaken by a 6.0 simulated earthquake while sitting at what appeared to a dining room table.
Dani and I laughed so hard as Kaley made funny faces and danced in front of the crazy mirrors.
My niece looked on in amazement as I sat in the chair attached to ropes and pulled myself up as high as it would allow very quickly.
Dani enjoyed it when she used her feet to play the piano keys on the floor and Kaley was so funny when she put herself inside a giant soap bubble.
When we wanted to try the rock-climbing wall poor Kaley barely met the three foot six inch height requirement. At first the young man refused but some after well-done flirting on my part he finally agreed after urging my niece to stand on her tiptoes so he could check her height again.
Dani winked at me and leaned close. "See what I mean about power?"
I took it upon myself to firmly strap my niece into her harness after I was not happy with how the attendant did the job. Kaley tried to climb all the way to the top of the rock-climbing wall. I followed her, gently encouraging her as far as her little arms would allow. She giggled when she lost her grip and the harness caught her before she fell.
When she had her fill I quickly climbed to the top then did a back flip off the top before the harness caught me. I did it two more times before I reached the floor.
The staff was starting to take an interest in the two crazy red haired girls tearing through the place. They allowed me to get away with a few forbidden things after Kaley proudly told them I was a professional stuntwoman.
Dani kept her feet planted firmly on the floor watching and laughing at everything we did.
My favorite by far though was the rope courses. It stood over fifty feet tall and had four stories of ropes. I encountered over fifty different obstacles and activities. I maneuvered the swinging steps easily and glided over the lily pads. I giggled like a schoolgirl on the tremor bridge and basically scared everyone else around me as I attempted what they considered dangerous exercises with ease and finesse.
Kaley was fearless as well. She trusted her harness and attempted everything I did. She laughed hysterically whenever she would fall and the harness caught her.
Dani rolled her eyes amusingly and laughed often as she watched us from below.
At my wife's urging, we begrudgingly left as it neared time for Trish to get off from work. Before we returned to where we were told to meet we stopped by the ice cream shop again and ordered three chocolate shakes.
Kaley looked up at us. "Can we please get Mama one too? She loves them but hasn't been able to get one in a long time."
Dani nodded. "Of course we can Princess."
We received our shakes and started walking in the direction Kaley told us Trish would be parked. Dani leaned close so only I could hear her. "When Kaley's mom comes out I'll take Kaley back inside for some new clothes while you talk to her and tell her about your father. If she needs anything don't wait to ask me, just make sure they are take care of."
I smiled and glanced around to make sure nobody was looking before I sneaked a brief kiss. "I love you so much."
"I saw that." Said a giggling voice from in front of us.
Kaley darted toward her mom as she walked out the back door of the mall. Trish welcomed her with open arms as she lifted her to her side. "Did you have fun?"
Kaley smiled. "Uh huh. I had the best time." The precious little girl looked at me and I handed her the extra milkshake. She handed it to her mother. "We got you this."
Trish smiled brightly and gave her daughter a kiss. "My favorite, thank you. Do you want some?"
Kaley shook her head proudly as I handed her the shake she had been drinking. "Nope, that is all yours. We don't have to share tonight."
It broke my heart to think that something as simple as a chocolate shake all to yourself was a reason to celebrate. When I glanced at Dani and saw her eyes glistening, I knew she was thinking the same thing.
I felt very small in that moment. So what if I was now a woman, I never have had to worry about my next meal. My poor sister-in-law looked as if she had not had a good meal in ages.
I didn't give money a second thought when buying new clothes that fit properly. I saw I needed clothes, I went to the store and probably spent more than poor Trish made in a month to get new clothes.
I was luckier than I ever realized.
Trish sat Kaley down as she reached Dani and I. "Thank you for everything. She obviously had fun. I haven't seen her smile like this in ages."
I smiled. "It was our pleasure. Do you mind if Dani takes Kaley shopping for abit? I need to talk to you. We can consider it a late birthday present if you like." My expression told her it was more than a request.
Trish appeared surprised but agreed.
After Dani and Kaley disappeared in the building I turned to Trish and held her hand. "How are you holding up? Please don't lie to me."
I felt the shiver run through my body before Trish started to cry. "I don't know how we are going to make it. I'm barely getting by but I had to get Kaley away. We were living at your old home place and your father was setting his sights on her. I wasn't about to let him hurt her like he did you. I confronted him about it and he slapped me around threatening me. I wanted to talk to Thomas but your father threatened me and told me he would hurt him as well as Kaley. I didn't know what to do. I had to disappear to save them."
I thought about my actions and of the woman I loved. I tried to leave Dani for selfish reasons. The reason Trish had left Thomas was truly selfless. So what if I couldn't show her the affection I wanted in public, at least we were still by each other's side.
I pulled my sister-in-law into a hug. "I understand completely. I'm not judging you at all but I need to know something. Is the only reason you left because of Daddy?"
She nodded. "Of course it is. I love my husband but I love our daughter more."
"What would you do if I told you they arrested Daddy and he wouldn't bother anybody again?"
I felt relief sweep through her body. "What happened?"
I explained the entire night to her and she started to cry again. "I was right to run away then."
I nodded. "Yes but your husband is hurt and confused. He keeps wondering what he did wrong."
Trish started to cry. "I need to call Thomas and explain."
I handed her my phone. "I'll give you some privacy."
Before I walked away my sister-in-law grabbed my hand. "Thank you Cali."
I smiled. "My pleasure. Now call your husband, he'll be happy to hear from you." I pointed toward one of the mall's entrances. "I'll be over on that bench when you're done."
I watched from a distance as Trish made the call with shaky hands. Many tears were shed as the call continued but I knew from the smile developing on her face that everything would work out.
Forty-five minutes later I noticed Dani and Kaley walking up with three large shopping bags. I directed them toward me so Trish could continue the call.
As soon as Trish saw her daughter she rushed toward her with the phone. "Someone wants to talk to you?"
"Who is it?" Kaley asked.
"Just answer it and see." Trish replied with beautifully relieved smile.
Kaley put the phone up to her little ear. Her eyes filled with tears as she whispered. "Daddy is it really you?"
She started to sob as she continued to talk. "I miss you so much Daddy. When can I see you again?" She listened and smiled brightly before she looked up at Trish. "Mommy, Daddy says he is on the way."
Trish smiled. "I know Baby Girl. He's taking us home."
Kaley listened for a moment more. "Okay Daddy. I'll see you in a few minutes. I love you." She held out the phone to Trish. "He wants to talk to you again Mama."
Trish took the phone and Kaley turned toward me and gave me a big hug. "I get to see my Daddy again!"
I smiled. "I know Princess. I'm so happy for you."
She turned to Dani. "I get to see my Daddy and we're going home!"
Dani scooped Kaley into her arms. "That's great. You deserve to have your family."
Kaley's smile was so bright it warmed my heart and healed some old wounds. "I have my Mama and my Daddy and now I have two really cool aunts."
I heard a familiar rumble and looked up to see a green four wheel drive Chevy truck turning the corner. I tapped Kaley on the shoulder and pointed toward it. "Look over there."
Her little eyes started to water again as her tiny body started to quiver. "He's really here Aunt Cali. My Daddy is really taking us home."
She and Trish both took off running as soon as he pulled into a parking spot. I cried like a baby watching my brother lift his little girl into his arms as he pulled his wife into a hug.
Dani rubbed my back. "Today has been a good day."
I shook my head before I rested it on her shoulder. "No, today has been a great day."
A few minutes later Thomas, Trish and Kaley walked over to where Dani and I were sitting.
Thomas lifted me off the bench into a hug. "Thank you baby sister. You gave me my family back. I'll never be able to repay you."
I smiled. "Take care of that little girl and it will be thanks enough. I warn you though she's probably going to be a handful. She has a lot of her aunt in her."
Thomas laughed. "I can only hope. You didn't turn out too shabby."
Trish leaned in to give me a hug. "Thank you Cali. I don't have the words."
I smiled. "You don't need them. We are family and family takes care of their own."
Thomas hugged me again. "I'm sorry to hear about Ryan. How are you holding up?"
I held my hand up. "Please don't. I'm having a great day and don't have to face that reality until later."
Thomas nodded as he sat me down and lifted Dani into his arms. "I guess I need to start calling you big sister. Thank you for everything."
Dani laughed. "It was all Cali. I was just along for the ride."
Thomas shook his head. "No it wasn't. You've made Cali a better person and if that had been all, it would have been the catalyst leading to today but we both know you did more and are just too modest to admit it."
He kissed her cheek as he sat her down. "Thank you again."
Dani wiped a tear from her eye. "I don't know about that but you're welcome."
Trish hugged Dani. "Thank you. I can't wait to get to know you better."
I bent down to Kaley. "We are about to go. I'm so glad I got to know you today. I love you Princess."
Kaley hugged me with everything she had. "I love you Aunt Cali. Thank you for making Mama call Daddy. When can I see you again?"
I smiled. "Soon but in the meantime you can call me whenever you want to talk. Don't let the bullies get to you."
She smiled. "I won't. I promise."
Kaley then held her arms out to Dani who lifted her off the ground.
"I love you Aunt Dani. Thank you for all the clothes. Will you teach me how to do my makeup when I'm old enough?"
Dani laughed. "Of course Princess. I love you too and when we are in town we can go shopping again. Maybe next time we can talk Aunt Cali into going." She leaned closer to whisper in her ear but spoke loud enough for everyone to hear, "Cali doesn't like to go shopping but hopefully you can talk her into it."
Kaley looked at me. "Aunt Cali will you go shopping with us next time you are in town? Please?"
I laughed. "How can I say no to you? I'd rather go back to Wonderworks but if you insist, of course I'll go."
Kaley gave me big ole puppy dog eyes. "Can't we do both Aunt Cali?"
I laughed knowing I'd be willing to do anything that gorgeous girl asked of me. "Yes, we can do both."
"Yay! I can't wait!" She said as Dani set her down.
My brother and his family decided to stay at Trish's apartment for the night and then load everything up to go home the next day. We promised to get together again before Dani and I left town.
Once back in the Mini headed back to the hotel Dani looked over at me. "Today was quite a day."
I smiled contentedly. "It was a great day, a perfect day, but I have a confession to make."
Dani shot me a questioning look. "What is that?"
"I am totally in irrevocably in love with another girl. Think you can share me?"
Dani giggled. "Yes, for her I think I can."
"I had no idea it was possible to love family like that. I never felt that before."
Dani smiled. "She is pretty special, just like her aunt."
I nodded. "I agree. You are pretty special."
Dani laughed. "I was talking about you."
I joined her in laughter. "I know but let's just say she has two very special aunts."
Dani nodded. "Do you feel better about your changes now?"
I nodded. "Yeah. Compared to what they are going through my problems are nothing. I guess it's a matter of perspective. I have you and that by itself is enough to get me through anything."
I reached for her hand and squeezed it tightly. "I know I've been a basket case. I still have a lot to learn and will hit more rough patches. Next time I have a bad day and am feeling sorry for myself remind me of what we have and that if I had not changed I would have never known that adorable girl."
Dani smiled as she lifted the back of my hand to her lips. "It will be my pleasure."
Dani pulled off the main road and before I realized it we were parked in front of a rustic lodge sitting at the base of the mountain we had been shooting on.
I looked over at her and smiled. "Why have we been staying at that old trailer when this is so close?"
She laughed. "Because the studio has been paying for the trailer and now Aaron is paying for this."
I frowned at the mention of his name. "Oh."
I was about to say more when Dani gently placed her finger over my lips. "Stop it. I know you are upset with him and you have every right to be. He was there when I brought you home and helped me get you in bed. He cares about you Cali. He feels terrible about what happened and you know how he is. This is his way of trying to apologize."
I nodded. "Which is why we are driving this."
Dani smiled. "Exactly. He wants to talk to you but he doesn't know what to say. He panicked when he saw you and actually cried when I told him what you had done and why." She noticed my freaked out expression. "Don't worry, I didn't tell him about that. He wouldn't believe me anyway."
I leaned back in my seat. "Phew, you scared me for a second."
She started laughing. "Come on now, he would have taken me back to the ER to get checked out for head trauma if I had told him my mother is an ancient goddess and turned you into a woman to save your life after you were mortally wounded saving her by killing a member of a proud, supposedly immortal, race of warriors and she gave you yet unknown powers and abilities."
I rolled my eyes playfully and giggled. "He'd want to buy the rights to my story so he could make it a movie."
When we walked up to the long oak counter of the lodge a tall attractive man in his mid to late twenties with dark hair and friendly brown eyes stepped from the back.
Unlike when we rented the car and Dani received all the attention, the man focused his interest on me. "Hello, my name is Eric. How can I help you this evening?"
I smiled as I slid my driver's license across the counter. "Do you have a reservation for Zoyra?"
He studied my ID before entering my information and smiling brightly. "Yes we do Miss Zoyra. Everything has been taken care of. We have you set up in our finest cabin and the kitchen has been fully stocked."
I thought again about how Dani had acted when we rented the Mini and my eyes widened slightly as I renewed my focus on the man behind the counter.
"Thank you Eric, Please call me Callista. Does the cabin happen to come with a complimentary mini bar?"
The man winked as he typed more information. "What a beautiful name for a beautiful woman. It does now that I have taken care of it."
Eric slid the paperwork across the counter for me to sign then placed two keys and an information packet in my hands. He allowed his hand to linger longer than what was considered polite as he stared into my eyes. "Your eyes are extraordinary. What color do you call that?"
I caught a slight scowl forming on Dani's face as her eye started to twitch.
I smiled brightly, glowing from her jealousy as well as his compliment. "We decided to call them hazel since there is no real way to classify them."
"They are stunning. Would you like my help carrying your luggage into your cabin?" He asked hopeful for more time to talk with me.
"I think we can manage, thanks." Dani snarled.
He nodded as he continued to stare. "Forgive me for going on about your eyes but they remind me of the sun reflecting off the water after a rain shower. I could get lost in them."
Dani moved closer to my side, wrapped her arm possessively around me resting her hand in such a way as to display her wedding ring. "I know what you mean. I consider myself lucky to wake up to them every morning."
Catching on to what she was doing, I smirked as I reached up to twist her ring with my left hand. "No Baby, I'm the lucky one."
Eric's cheeks reddened as he caught Dani's jealous gaze. "My apologies. I marked the location of your cabin on the map. If you require any assistance please don't hesitate to call the front desk."
Dani tried to smile sweetly but now I knew why she was a makeup artist instead of an actress because she failed miserably. "Thank you Eric. Have a good night."
I couldn't control my giggling once we stepped back to the Mini. "I can't believe you are jealous. I think that's a first."
Dani blushed uncomfortably as she sat behind the steering wheel. "What do you want me to say? I can't believe you were so friendly with the jerk and I didn't like the way he didn't want to let go of your hand. What a beautiful name for a beautiful woman, gah how lame." I stared with much amusement as she slapped the wheel before she started the car.
I pretended to be offended. "So you are saying I'm not beautiful?"
She rolled her eyes as she slipped the car into reverse. "You know you are the most beautiful creature on Earth but what was with that line about getting lost in your eyes? How desperate could he get?"
My giggles turned into full-blown laughter. "I seem to remember you were very friendly with Jesse and personally, I love it every time you tell me how you get lost in my eyes."
Dani glared at me as we pulled in front of our cabin. "That's different."
I was struggling to catch my breath. This was so much fun; I'd never seen her in a full-blown jealous rage before.
My eyes twinkled in the moonlight as I walked to the back of the car to grab our suitcases. "Really baby? How is it different? Never had to deal with anyone hitting on me before have you? It's not fun is it?"
Dani smiled in defeat as she grabbed the rest of our luggage. "I hate it but I guess I'll have to get used to it."
I giggled again as she struggled with the bags. "We could have had a strapping young man help carry these in you know."
I lost it again and laughed uncontrollably as she looked down at me. "Over my dead body we could have."
I stopped on the steps in front of her and turned to kiss her. "Tell me if this sounds familiar… Baby you have nothing to worry about. You have my heart, others can look but only you can touch and you have touched me deeper than they ever can."
She smiled at me throwing the words she often said back at her and inhaled deeply. "Yes it does. I love you."
My being two steps higher allowed me to be eye level with her. "I love you too. Let's go in so I can show you how much."
We walked into the spacious living room and I was amazed at the lavish furnishings. From the door, I could see the large fully equipped kitchen with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances.
"Nobody does apologies quite like Aaron." Dani said as she sat the suitcases down.
I nodded. "It's amazing."
I walked into the master suite, which had a massive king-sized bed opposite a large bay window to allow us a wonderful view of the mountains. I looked on with delight at the whirlpool tub in the adjacent bathroom.
Dani walked up behind me and wrapped her arms around my neck. "This is nice."
I nodded. "I say we try the tub first."
As I sat in her lap in the large bath, I started to giggle again thinking of her jealousy. It made me feel loved to know she could get so emotional and possessive over someone else desiring me.
"What's so funny?" She asked as she kissed the back of my hair.
I shook my head. "Nothing really, I was thinking about how you reacted to the guy at the desk. It's the first time I've ever seen you like that. I found it kinda hot."
She laughed. "I didn't know I had it in me to act that way. When you were Ty women knew better than to try anything around me."
I turned to lightly splash her. "Baby I got hit on all the time. I never acted on the offers because I had you but it did happen a lot. It used to drive Ryan nuts since he always considered himself God's gift to women."
She seemed shocked. "I bet it really did get to him. I had no idea."
I pretended to be offended. "You don't have to act so surprised. Women wanted to find out why your face lit up every time you looked at me. Plus Ryan's nickname didn't hurt either."
Dani smiled. "I often wondered why you put up with me. You were the hottest guy I ever knew and now you are, without a doubt, the most gorgeous woman I'll ever know."
I yawned again. "You are getting better at lying baby. I almost believe you."
She pulled me close. "It's because I'm telling the truth silly girl. I pity anyone who tries to come between us. I mean what person in their right mind would want to tangle with a woman my size?"
I giggled again as I turned to kiss her beautiful lips. "Me. I've been wanting to tangle with you all day."
Her fingers found my ribs causing me to jump. "Yeah but you’re crazy." She kissed me again. "My crazy."
An hour and half later we were curled together exhausted but very content.
"I'm really starting to like this body. I had no idea it could be so fun without using the main part." I said as I snuggled in closer to her side.
Dani laughed. "I could have told you that, but as a man you were only focused on the important parts. I like your body too baby. You use it well."
She ran her fingers through my hair for a few moments. "When you were doing the rock climbing and the rope course today you did some amazing things. I could be wrong but I think your balance is enhanced."
I looked up at her. "Really? I didn't notice anything."
Dani nodded. "You were far more graceful than I ever saw as when you were Ty. You were better than the best acrobat or tightrope walker. Everyone around me on the floor stopped whatever they were doing just to watch."
I shrugged. "All I know is I had more fun up there than I had in ages. Thank you again for today."
My wife smiled. "I enjoyed it too. We need to start making outings like that a regular part of our life."
I yawned as sleep started to set in. "I'd like that. I love you."
Dani pulled me as close as possible. "I love you too. Are you starting to see that being a woman can be fun?"
I nodded as I snuggled in for the night. "Yes, I can finally see it. I have little doubt that we will have some rough days ahead of us but so long as I have you by side I know I can make it."
Dani smiled as she leaned her head down to kiss me. "We are going to fine because you are stuck with me for longer than you know.
Cali's adventures continue in Saved By A Goddess: Gifts
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