A New York Zoo is under threat of closure until a new and exciting exhibit is discovered
I’d like to give my sincere thanks to the following people and establishments who enabled me to write this story to the best of my ability since I had only minimal knowledge in American law.
The New York Criminal Jury Instructions – Second Edition
Bricker & Eckler LLP – Attorneys at Law
A reporters guide to legal and court terminology
Members of the Beauty and the Beast fan site Tunnel Dreams
Leaping Barriers in the Wild - (creating hybrids may be the only way to save some species) - A report by Mark Derr The New York Times - Thursday July 11th 2002.
Annie McGuire - my dear American friend who has helped me to iron out the hiccups within the terminology of American Law.
And thanks to all of you who have emailed offering suggestions for this story when it looked as though Vincent might stand trial for murder. I had never heard of Justifiable Homicide, and Vincent and I are truly indebted to the person that suggested its application.
The term Halcyon Days was derived from the need to create a zoo of peaceful disposition where its name alone would generate a feeling of well being for the animals in its care. And in this online edition of Alpha/Omega the name Halcyon Days Zoo replaces the name Central Park Zoo with effect from Part Six.
Other words meaning the same as halcyon are – untroubled – calm – peaceful – quiet – still and heavenly.
Any names of characters or places found in this story that bear any resemblance to any other person or persons or to a place is purely coincidental and no offence or liability is intended.
Foremost, the term The Alpha and the Omega is the title given to Jehovah God by God himself and no blasphemy is intended in its use here upon Vincent. Rather the meaning behind the name Alpha and the Omega is used to signify that the fictional Vincent as well as the true Jehovah God are the first and the last the beginning and the end, and there will never be any other. But we should never lose sight of the fact that to all things we should give thanks to Jehovah God, for without him we would have nothing. In fact, without him we would simply not exist. (The Alpha and the Omega - Revelation 22 v 13.)
*** *** ***
The Alpha And The Omega
Stepping down into Father’s chamber Catherine brought with her the scents from above and filled with a sense of well being did not at first notice the sombre expression in the old man’s eyes as he regarded her contemptuously.
“Hello Father. Have you had a good day?” Catherine began with her welcome continuing before he had the time to reply with the words, “You remember that I promised the children I would take them someday to Central Park Zoo, well it appears that particular excursion will have to be sooner rather than later. Have you heard the news?”
Looking straight at the patriarch of the tunnels, Catherine began to realise that things were not as well as she had presumed and her first thought flew in only one direction, “It’s Vincent isn’t it? He’s had a relapse? Oh why didn’t anyone send for me, how is he Father?”
His reply chilled her to the bone, “I’d rather hoped that you could tell me that, young lady.” Now for the first time Catherine detected the hostility in his tone and drawing her brows together asked, “I’m sorry Father, I don’t understand, please explain.”
“Explain! Explain?” Getting to his feet Father hobbled round to Catherine’s side of his table, “You take my son from me, and expect me to explain?”
Confused Catherine stared blankly at Father. “I never took Vincent from you.” She stated at last a high rise to her tone, “I don’t know what you mean.”
“He isn’t here Catherine. But then you know that. He’s been with you hasn’t he?” for the first time Father felt a merit of fear run through him. He had been so sure that Vincent was with Catherine these past three nights when he had not come home, so sure.
“Not here?” Catherine was shaking her head trying to make sense of it, then looking up at Father asked, “Then where…” her voice trailing away as she realised that Vincent wasn’t below and Father so obviously had assumed he had been above with her.
“When was the last time you saw him!” She cried anxiety now taking its grip upon her.
“Three nights ago. When he walked you home, he never returned. I just assumed…” His words trailed away, “You mean you haven’t seen him since then either?”
Catherine was shaking her head even before Father had finished speaking. “I’ve been away on business. Only returned a few hours ago, I wasn’t due home till the weekend and thought I’d surprise him. Oh Father, where is he?”
“I haven’t a clue. I know it is highly irregular that he would not contact me, but I assumed that you and he were in your apartment, and well you know after what happened in the cave, that you and he were…well you know…and neither of you thought past that to consider how worried I have been.”
“You know about that!” Catherine was surprised. She hadn’t told anyone that she and Vincent had made love, and was surprised that Vincent had.
“Assumed. Though now you have just confirmed it. I only know what I heard, the cave echoed my dear, as soon as I recognised the sounds I bade Mouse and Winslow away, but I felt positive I knew what the two of you were doing.”
“Father!” Catherine exclaimed more than a little embarrassed.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t continue to listen, you must believe that. I knew how Vincent felt about it, I knew his fears against such a thing happening between the two of you, and I had to know, purely from a medical point of view that he wasn’t hurting you, that you were a willing participant. As soon as I was sure I too moved away out of earshot. You must believe that Catherine.”
“I do. Father it was the most beautiful experience of my life, but since then I think Vincent has forgotten it. He’s never made mention to it, and we have certainly never repeated the act since, much to my sorrow.” Her tears were genuine as they slid down her cheeks, Father could well see that and he marvelled that one so beautiful could give herself to one so… well so… different. He thought his son beautiful too, but then he was biased, it was a parent’s prerogative.
“Still it doesn’t alter the fact that we have a problem on our hands. If Vincent isn’t with you and he isn’t with us, then…oh Catherine where is he?” For the first time the enormity of the situation rose and fell on Father’s shoulders and he slumped into the nearest chair.
“Father I don’t know, but I aim to find out. Please apologise to the children Father, I met some of them on my way in, and I’ll go above to make some subtle enquiries while you do whatever it is you need to do here.”
“Why should I apologise to the children?” Father was mystified at that request.
“Central Park Zoo is closing down, I promised I would take groups of the children there before it was no more. Some have never been. Naturally that needs to be put on hold but I’m certain they will understand in the circumstances.”
“Oh they will, nothing is more important to the children than Vincent. All right my dear you go above and make certain enquiries, I don’t need to tell you the subtle the better, and I’ll work on the search parties here, if we hear anything you’ll be the first to know.”
“Likewise.” Catherine hugged the elderly man tightly and added, “Don’t worry, Father, we’ll find him, he can’t have gone far, and no one knows these tunnels better than Vincent. I’m sure everything will be alright.”
However, though they both wanted to believe that, both also knew that Vincent rarely went missing without leaving some kind of word as to his future whereabouts. That he had made no mention at all worried them both greatly.
Vincent was missing…and thoughts of that alone brought forth all kinds of horrors.
Where on earth - or beneath it - was he?
*** *** ***
Mouse stared blankly ahead. It was no use, he had been here a thousand times already over the past week and knew that Vincent had not been there within that time. Still he looked still he listened as if just by imagining that his friend was there, he would be.
Mouse had never known life without Vincent. At first when Father had grumbled that Vincent was spending time above with Catherine Mouse had not understood why Father had appeared so agitated about that. Mary had enlightened him, made him see that Catherine and Vincent needed to spend time together since his illness as it was to help Vincent recuperate. Mouse did not witness the wink that Mary gave to Jamie as she told him this. Now though Mouse cursed the fact that for three days he had been in a false sense of security whereas he could have spent that time searching for his friend. Any trail now would certainly have gone cold.
These last few days since the search parties had been out and returned miserable had been the worst of Mouse’s life in the tunnels. No one smiled anymore. There were a lot of whispers and a lot of ranting usually by Father, and it stressed Mouse to know that a lot of those outbursts had been directed at Catherine. Catherine who had spent the last four days doing everything possible within her power to make subtle enquiries as to Vincent’s whereabouts to her colleagues in the world above.
All of it was fruitless, Vincent it seemed, had simply vanished.
Dragging his feet on his way to the dining area, going only because his stomach told him he ought Mouse encountered several other tunnel dwellers making their way steadily in the same direction. Each to his own, no one spoke, all looked thoroughly miserable. Only William’s voice could be heard upon their arrival as with grunts they responded to his greeting.
“You lot sound like a herd if swine, you know that?” He tried to make light of the situation, knowing its seriousness and in no way disagreed with their feelings, but William was aware that despondency bred laziness. It was a fact that if they all felt down hearted they would wallow like pigs in muck in their misery and do little about the situation, now that they thought they had looked everywhere, tried everything.
“Now who wants stew?” He bellowed, grateful at least when a few signalled that they did. He served them, bringing a large ladle Mouse’s way, “You want some boy?” He asked him, grateful when Mouse leaned back to reveal his empty bowl in front of him.
Its bad then, William found himself thinking, worse than bad if Mouse has lost his tongue and a large ball of fear gathered somewhere in William’s gut and began twisting itself round and round as the sudden thought that Vincent might never return seized him.
Next brought by the aroma of lamb stew Father hobbled in supported by a bleary eyed Mary. William could tell she had been crying and possibly not sleeping. Vincent’s disappearance affected them all, even the children pushed food around their plates this day, with appetites lost to them.
“We’ve got to do something.” William found himself blurting to no one in particular, “A guy can’t just vanish like that. And not Vincent. Paracelsus is gone, so it can’t be anything to do with him. Did Catherine and Vincent have an argument at all?”
Father looked up, he’d thought of that possibility and dismissed it, now he wasn’t so sure. “I don’t know but I think Catherine would have said. However, he could have been upset about the fact that she would be out of town for three days. The thing is he just didn’t return that night, while she was still in her apartment. Why go anywhere while she is still in town? It doesn’t make any sense.”
“Then there is only one conclusion.” William drew in a deep breath and exhaled it swiftly, “He’s been kidnapped.”
“NO!” Everyone spoke at once, their eyes wide with fear and horror as the implications of that possibility rose before them.
“Well why else hasn’t he returned? He’d know by now that Catherine was back. Had he gone to the lower levels he would have returned when she did. If he was injured he would have crawled to a pipe to make contact by now, and if he couldn’t he would know to make his way to somewhere where he would be discovered by a search party. I don’t think he is below though. I think he’s above. Narcissa might be able to throw some light on this, anyone thought of asking her?”
“Narcissa!” Father fumed, “What would she know, that crazy old woman.”
“Vincent believes in her, and at a time like this when every straw is clutched we should too.”
“If Vincent had been discovered we would have heard something by now, the papers would be full of it.” Father retorted.
“Not necessarily. Depends who discovered him.” William began before father cut in with, “It doesn’t. Do you think Vincent would allow himself to be kidnapped and not go down fighting? I think not.” Cynical laughter erupted from Father.
“Might be someone used a dart, its happened before. I think we ought to be looking for clues above, maybe even search the newspaper. There might be things printed therein that would mean little to anyone but us. That’s if the news of his discovery is subtle that is.
Personally, I think it would make a front page spread. Catherine could get hold of all the newspapers and we could scan them with a fine tooth comb.” The more William said the more he convinced himself that he was speaking wisely.
“I’m not convinced that I want Catherine to have anything more to do with it.” Father shocked everyone with his sudden outburst. “If it wasn’t for Catherine he sneered, my son would be with us now. If it wasn’t for Catherine my son wouldn’t have just undergone the most terrifying experience of his life, we almost lost him you know…”
“And Catherine brought him back to us.” William reminded him, “If it wasn’t for Catherine Vincent could be dead now, and you’re forgetting something Paraselsus played a very big part in that latest event. You can’t blame Catherine for that.”
“If Vincent could hear you speaking about Catherine like that Father he would be furious. Catherine has been nothing but good for him. You’re just jealous ‘cos he likes to spend more time with her than he used to do with you.” Jamie flared joining in the debate.
Father glared at her hotly, his temper visibly rising before he snapped, “How dare you!” But could say nothing further. Deep down inside he was asking himself if she might be right. Did he really resent Catherine for that? No matter whether he did or not, it didn’t alter the fact that but for Catherine things would have been so very different below. Vincent wouldn’t have undergone so many near misses with his life for one thing, as if that wasn’t enough.
To antagonise him further, at that moment the person herself walked into the dining room, and with one look around the sea of troubled faces feared the worse, “What is it? Have you heard something?” Catherine looked from one to the other, wondering why no one had informed her.
“Nothing has happened!” Father snapped. He glared at the woman, as if seeing her for the very first time, and hackles rising he was ready to slay the dragon. “If it wasn’t for you…” He seethed shaking off Mary’s restraining arm, “My son would be here now!” He stood holding the table for support and glared at Catherine.
“My if looks could kill.” William whispered under his breath, desperately sorry for Catherine and furious with the patriarch of the tunnels instantly. “Its not Catherine’s fault.” He blurted, “Catherine would never do anything to harm Vincent, Father you know that!”
“DO I!” Swinging his gaze from one to the other, Father’s eyes blazed, “The way I see it is everything was hunky dorey before SHE came into our lives.” He pointed at Catherine, “I told Vincent it would all end in heartache, but would he listen? No of course not. Fool that he was. I brought him down here to keep him safe not have him exposing himself time and time again to save the life of this ungrateful wretch.”
Catherine sobbed unable to believe the outburst directed at her, and from Father of all people, Father whom she had become to love as a daughter. After the week she’d had it was the final straw. With tears blinding her vision she ran from the dining room unable to speak to anyone or dispute Father’s words. Deep down inside she wondered if he was justified in his thinking, maybe she had been the cause of Vincent’s exposure, maybe because of her he had been above when he ought not to have been. Maybe because of her he had been discovered and was being held captive. If that were so he would be miserable, suicidal, Catherine remembered the last time when Hughes had locked him in an iron cage at the laboratory. The experience would have killed Vincent had she not of come along when she did. And in the possibility that someone held him even now would his love and trust of her be enough to see him through until she could find him again? And would Father ever truly accept her in his son’s life even if she did? More importantly should she really be in Vincent’s life if the risk to him was so great in the knowing of her? Maybe Father had a point. Perhaps he didn’t say it too well, but that was grief and fury talking, nevertheless he was probably right. Being in Vincent’s life she risked him every second of every day, the way things were. Things would either have to change or she would have to get out of his life. Either way she had some serious thinking to do, and right now, not knowing where Vincent was Catherine couldn’t even begin that thought process. It was too painful, but not as painful as Vincent being missing. Right now that took priority over all else. Time enough for other things when he was back home again. But Catherine knew she would never relish that time, it was something that she just didn’t want to think about, and deep down inside was more than grateful that she could put it off until the day when Vincent was found.
*** *** ***
A week went into ten days. Nothing. No news, no discoveries. With the all clear still applicable to the pipes, the tunnel world was deathly quiet, and people rarely spoke. It wasn’t unusual for people to wander off as they suddenly had a notion that Vincent might be in that place or this place, well aware that those places had been checked already, but hoping something, some clue had been overlooked.
Mouse bless him and Jamie had volunteered for the long trip down to the catacombs to visit with Narcissa and hadn’t as yet returned. Those that believed in her ways waiting with bated breath. She would tell them for sure or at least give some sign to give them hope.
Devin had arrived, drafted in from the mountains where he lived to help with the search, going to places only he and Vincent knew existed, and finding nothing.
Catherine remained above. Taking extended leave from her job unable to concentrate, she set her mind to meditating on the connection she and Vincent had shared before his illness had snatched it away. It had never been so strong her end, but now more than ever she needed to establish some way to get through to him. The Bond was a miracle and only she possessed it with him, surely she could find traces of it, traces of some feeling that would indicate his whereabouts however slight.
Her apartment was strewn with newspapers and she had scanned every article with great deliberation, first glossing over the headings then backtracking and reading every column seeking anything that might make her wonder, might lend a clue. There was nothing. In fact, most of the local newspapers were filled with the same thing, the losses incurred at Central Park Zoo and how its closure would affect the community. It was sad true, the zoo was a marvellous place to visit, but Catherine had to admit it was the same old thing, have something under your nose and you take it for granted, rarely visiting and lending it your support. She could count the number of times she had visited the zoo in all her lifetime on the fingers of one hand and had lost count of the number of times she had promised herself that she would visit again.
Flicking on the television set, Catherine listened to the news, it too was filled with reports on the zoo, how the animals were looking for new homes, how the big cats and large mammals were having to be darted and drugged in order for transportation to other zoos. She had listened to the same old thing for days. It was immaterial and had little to do with her current problem. If she wasn’t so wrapped up in that she might have gone to the zoo and offered a donation that would have eased her conscience a little for the visits she had neglected to take.
A lot of people felt the same, donations were being handed in at an amazing rate but it was not enough to save the zoo, although…
Something made Catherine cast her eyes to the screen more avidly than she had over the past few days as something caught her attention. ‘What was that?’ she asked herself listening carefully, ‘I’ve only ever heard that expression used in the Bible.’
Inclining her ear, Catherine listened, but nothing more was said. She switched channels and checked tele-text only to find that there was no mention of the phrase she had heard. ‘I will have to listen tonight’ she told herself checking the clock. The next news bulletin was in four hours. Catherine shrugged, ‘then again what does it matter? Its hardly got anything to do with Vincent has it?’
Minutes later she had forgotten all about it. And it would mean nothing more to her until another three days had lapsed.
*** *** ***
Missing Vincent was as alien to Catherine as it was to those that had known him longer. The tunnels were just cold without his presence, people miserable, short tempered. Father hadn’t yet forgiven Catherine believing her to be at fault. If she had not of come into their lives Vincent would still be with them and if it hadn’t been for Catherine there were a good many risks that Vincent would not have undertaken. Nothing Mary said to the contrary about the happiness Catherine had brought Vincent in the years they had known one another made one iota of difference. Father’s heart and mind was set against the woman who had stolen his son’s heart and he had forbidden visits from her into their world beneath the city streets.
The children of course were upset by this decision, they loved Catherine, as did most of the tunnel folk and they all believed Father’s views to be unreasonable yet unmoveable. It was their belief that all would resolve itself when Vincent returned but as the second week drew to a close and there was still no news or sign of him the possibility of that fact stretched further and further away.
Catherine however refused to obey Father’s rules. She missed Vincent dreadfully and she wasn’t about to forsake those that knew of and loved him as she did. They all had each other who did she have? Who could she turn to and talk to and discuss the loss of the love of her life? Up above there was no one. Not Joe, nor Nancy, nor Jenny or Elliot. No one but Peter, oh at least there was Peter, but he was such a busy man that Catherine did not like to go to him on a whim, purely for a shoulder to cry on. Below there were women for that, women that would understand, sympathise lend an ear when she wanted to unburden her heart. Of course Peter would be there for her, he would hold her hand discuss the possibilities of Vincent’s whereabouts, but Catherine wasn’t entirely sure that he approved of the relationship that she shared with Vincent, much the same as Father didn’t, and possibly for similar reasons. Their differences seemed to worry everyone and no one more than Vincent himself, but Catherine didn’t see those differences when she was with Vincent. To her, he was the man she loved and if he had to be different, it was only because he was more than that of the usual man not less. And due to that fact, Catherine knew that she had every right to be a part of his family, no matter what his father might deem to be correct and proper in the circumstances. Whatever he thought was only due to worry and stress and he ought not shut her out for that for they both were of the same mind when it came to it.
So first day off she had Catherine went below with one sole intention in mind. To take the children to the zoo as arranged before the place closed down. Surely, Father wouldn’t begrudge that kind of help? It would be good for the children to go out have some fun, though she wasn’t entirely sure that seeing the lions wouldn’t remind them of Vincent again, but they could always avoid that part of the zoo. There would be ways, she was sure, to give the children and enjoyable day without reminding them of their loss.
Entering the tunnels though was quite another matter. Catherine chose the entrance via her apartment building and found it bricked up. That was a shock! Who would have carried out Father’s instructions? Surely, he was her only foe when it came to people below?
Apparently not for Catherine could not imagine anyone carrying out that instruction to prevent her entering the tunnels. Undeterred Catherine decided to use the longer route through the park. It was early morning yet still there were several people about, joggers mainly. Catherine loathed to use the park entrance during the day too many prying eyes. And it was not unlike people to have binoculars trained from their apartments onto sights within the park either as she and Vincent well knew. Using the park entrance posed some risk that she would rather not have taken. Not for her of course, there was no risk associated with her own well being but rather that of the tunnel folk she would do nothing to jeopardise their secret home.
Pretending to be a jogger Catherine made a big pretence of searching for a place to squat to relieve herself around about the shrubbery. It wasn’t something she had ever done herself but had seen others use this way in an emergency. The public conveniences were stationed all over the park, but it was a jogger’s nightmare that one might get the call of nature between posts. Catherine hoped that anyone overseeing her exercising through the park might assume that she was searching for some such place and not think twice about her entering the storm drain as the place to go. Dangerous true, getting caught literally with one’s pants down in such an area was asking for all the trouble one could get, but Catherine was devoting her attention to the people watching with binoculars rather than those actually in the park with her. Those she could see well enough, and did not enter the storm drain until she was certain that none of them would see her do so.
Believing therefore to have covered every eventuality Catherine entered the storm drain with some caution, her breath held while she listened intently for sounds from within until finally convinced all was well she stepped into the dim interior.
How many times had she been here? Countless over the past three years that was for sure. Usually Vincent would be waiting for her and leaving the area would be no more precarious than entering with his guidance and love to surround her. This day Catherine shivered as she reached up for the mechanism that opened the huge sliding door and found it jammed in place. It was deliberate any fool could see that, another ploy of Father’s to keep her out.
Tears gathered and fell from Catherine’s eyes. These people were her family did he hate her so much that she was denied visiting rights? Were they aware of what he was doing? Were the children? That hurt her the most, wondering what the children would think. Surely, at a time like this when they all missed Vincent so much they should not be denied her visits? Catherine knew how much they loved her too. They would feel deserted by the both of them. Catherine’s heart ached wanting to go below so much and being unable to do so. What would be the use of going to the other entrances that she knew of? If they weren’t blocked the sentries that had willingly carried out Father’s instructions to keep her away would surely prevent her from coming in no matter what entrance she used.
There was no other thing for it she would have to consult Peter. Maybe if no one else could do anything he at least could contact Father and help him see reason. And what if she had news of Vincent? Would she have to trust it by way of hand messenger? More to the point what if they had news of Vincent, would Father permit her to know of it?
Anxious and frustrated Catherine only just remembered in the nick of time to pause before walking back out into the sunlight and it was well she did for a group of people had congregated outside. She waited, her mind a mass of jumbled thoughts, not listening to anything but her own anger and irritation until one word caught her attention. One that she had heard recently and wondered about then had forgotten it entirely.
“Alpha and Omega then?”
Her attention caught Catherine strained her ears to listen over the sudden pounding of her heart. What was it with that phrase?
“Certainly, for sure he’s the first and the last. I think its very fitting.”
“And you say he was found, where? Here?”
“Yes that exact same spot as you’re standing. Couldn’t believe my eyes I can tell you. Never seen anything like it in my entire life. But man, is he magnificent or what?”
“He’s certainly that. But the first and the last, how can we be sure?”
“Well we can’t not entirely. Unless he tells us and that’s unlikely. But I’d bet on it that he is some mutation and the fact that he’s sterile gives us the likelihood that he’s the beginning and the end of his line. I think we can’t go wrong on this one. It couldn’t have come at a better time, just what we need to keep afloat I say.”
“Yes, I think so too. So are we all agreed? We’ll name him Alpha and advertise him as ‘The Alpha and the Omega?’”
Catherine heard a round of muffled affirmations before the group walked away from the storm drain. Her head was reeling her heard hammering…a thought had set a seed in her mind that was beginning to flourish and grow at an amazing rate…and she didn’t want it to do. She hoped and prayed that what she had just heard wasn’t what it sounded like, but in the circumstances and with what had been said there was a very real possibility. And that was that this Alpha and Omega that they had spoken of, being the first and the last, the beginning of his kind and the end, was in all likelihood none other than Vincent himself!
*** *** ***
Below in the tunnels an argument was taking place as Father asked for another entrance to be sealed and Mouse wondered how Catherine might get down if her usual ways were blocked.
Of course Father couldn’t admit that she was one of the reasons he was having the ways blocked, or there would be uproar and it was doubtful that anyone would obey such a request. So, he had to maintain that as no one knew for certain why Vincent had gone missing, it had to be assumed that someone had found access into the tunnels and kidnapped him there. This caused a great deal of arguments since the sentries felt the finger pointed at them in that they had been asleep at their posts to allow any stranger to walk in and kidnap Vincent in the first place. That caused some suspicion that no one would attempt to confront Vincent unless he had been otherwise unable to defend himself. That gave rise to the thought that he might have been drugged or knocked unconscious, in which case a scuffle would have ensued enough to cause a disturbance that should have alerted the sentries. All in all, the whole thing became a Catch 22 scenario that didn’t seem to have a way out.
Father however knew the whole truth, that is, the reason why he wanted the tunnels sealed. He wanted to keep Catherine out. He didn’t for one moment believe that anyone had been into the tunnels and kidnapped Vincent, but neither did he seriously consider that Vincent was above. He remembered distinctly that the night his son had gone missing, he had only walked Catherine back home and sentries had reported that Vincent had never left the tunnels. What none of them knew was that on his way back Vincent had stopped by at the music chamber beneath the park, and hearing a commotion above had lifted the cover alighted into the park and gone to see what was happening, helped sort out the problem, and then had returned home via the park entrance. Or at least that had been his intention. He had not known that he was being watched all the while or that someone had been watching out for him for several months and were prepared for capture.
So, with the belief that Vincent was somewhere below Father had no qualms about sealing the tunnels. Those below knew of other exits, ways that Catherine had not been shown and he felt justified in keeping her out of their lives believing that she brought his son nothing but pain and trouble.
The problem that he didn’t foresee was the chance that Catherine might be the one to find a lead on his son’s whereabouts, and in ‘protecting his son’s interests’ Father might prevent her from being able to make contact to give him such news.
Therefore, he went about his everyday life worrying and fretting about his son when above Catherine was making positive progress to Vincent’s whereabouts.
That day when she had overheard the conversation outside of the drainage culvert Catherine had wasted no time in seeking out the possibility that they referred to Vincent. Naturally she couldn’t be sure where they came from, or what specifically they talked about, but she had heard enough to presume, and being a lawyer her first instincts were usually right.
Unable to follow the people in question, Catherine set about making enquiries as to the phrase Alpha and Omega and very soon she began to get rewards actually from jenny who in the publishing business had been contacted recently about a proposed book on that very subject.
“That is interesting Jen,” Catherine told her friend as the two discussed the forthcoming presentation of the book over lunch one day, “And you’re sure that the zoo have some connection?”
“Well not in so many words. The synopsis of the book didn’t exactly highlight its source, but reading between the lines I felt it was some kind of creature environment that was behind its production.” She smiled, “Actually I can’t acclaim to having such insight if you must know, I heard the expression on one of the afternoon news bulletins when they were speaking about the closure of the zoo and I put two and two together.”
“If the zoo is closing I can’t imagine why there is such a hoo ha over this. Its almost like they are using it as their trump card.” Catherine commented thoughtfully.
“Oh I believe they are. And between you me and the gatepost, I believe that the zoo never was closing. Shifting some animals maybe but by the pretence of closure they would generate interest enough to captivate the hearts of the public who would issue donations like there was no tomorrow. Personally, I think the zoo will rise up out of the dust with a brand spanking new attraction, and probably one that nobody has ever seen before but unless they have revived the Dodo or have captured a Yeti I doubt that I will hot foot it over there. The book should be interesting though, and certainly with the name Alpha and Omega, if it is applicable to the zoo, then it’s a dead cert that they have something there that is the only one of its kind. Could be a hoax though, a Doctor Dolittle idea. You know a camel with two heads or something like that. I wouldn’t put it passed them.” Jenny laughed knowing deep down that the zoo would be mad to generate such interest only to fob off the public with such a ruse.
“Well I promised the children I would take them to the zoo so if it stays open then we will certainly go.” Catherine told her friend absentmindedly.
“Whose children? Nancy’s?”
“What? Oh!” Flustered Catherine quickly made amends, “Oh no, some children of friends of mine.” Then realising jenny was included in her own circle of friends hastily added, “That is colleagues, work colleagues.”
“Oh.” Jenny smiled envisaging Catherine with a hoard of children, “And will uncle Joe be accompanying you on this trip too?”
“Quit matchmaking Jen.” Catherine laughed relieved that Jenny had seemed to accept her lie. It was awful expecting it of her, but Catherine had no choice. None of her friends knew about Vincent or the tunnels, least of all the tunnel children that loved Catherine to bits.
“Well, look at the time! Doesn’t it fly when you are having fun. Look Cath, sorry to leave you with the check but I have to dash, here this should cover my share.” Jenny pulled several dollars from her purse and placed them onto the table.
“Thanks Jen, but really there was no need.”
“There’s every need. Friends share everything. I’ve gotta go Cath sorry,” and she bent to place a kiss on Catherine’s cheek, “Take care and ring me okay?”
“Yes, sure oh and Jen?” Her friend turned and waited for Catherine’s request, “Yes?”
“If you hear anymore about the Alpha and Omega let me know will you?”
“Yeah Cath sure. See you.”
When her friend had left Catherine remained thoughtful. The things Jenny had told her worried her greatly. And though it was true that the zoo might not be involved, Catherine felt that she had no other choice but to go along there and see for herself. Maybe she could glean something, anything. After all no body would be expecting her to be their to make enquiries about their new attraction, because so few people would be aware of it. So maybe, if she played her cards right she could find out as much information as she needed and then she would take it from there.
*** *** ***
Do you speak?” The creature was prodded with a long thin cane through the bars of his cage, and the fellow answered his own question, “Guess not.”
“I’ve not heard him utter anything coherent, he just lies there. I have a terrible feeling he’s fretting, won’t even eat. I think he’s gonna die either that or he’s gonna look so poorly by the time of the big opening that they’ll shut us down anyway.”
“How do you think he got like that? I mean half human half cat. Do you suppose it’s a mutant like Fred assumes? I reckon it’s more like some laboratory thing, an experiment that went wrong.”
“I don’t know what to think. Fred’s been watching him for months, says he has seen him rip a man to shreds, but he is selective goes only for the scum of the city, helps the innocent get away. If he has a heart like that I’d say he is more human than cat. In a way I admire him.”
“Well you’ve always been a soft touch. Anyway, I have to get off now, I’ll relieve you in the morning okay?”
“Okay Sam, and don’t be late.” Barry grinned, for it was well known that Sam was always late.
When Sam had gone, Barry was left to guard the creature that he had wondered about constantly over the past three weeks. He had told Sam that he admired the creature and that was so and in its own way the creature was beautiful. “I believe you can talk.” Barry whispered “I believe you know everything that is going on, that you are intellectual and selective. Why else would you help the innocent and slay the wicked? An animal doesn’t do that, not a wild animal.” He paused looking for signs of acknowledgment, when none came he went on, “I also believe you are clever. Possibly because you trust no one, but I’d like you to know you can trust me. I’d like to be your friend.”
Blue eyes stared back at the man, assessing the truth of his words, and finally the creature whispered, “Friends do not keep other friends locked up.”
Triumphant Barry smiled, “I knew it! You can talk. Tell me are you the only one of your kind?”
“As far as I know.”
“Do you have a name?”
“What is it?”
The creature remained silent and after a moment or two Barry went on, “They are going to call you Alpha. You know Alpha and Omega - first and the last. Do you mind if I call you Alpha?”
“Then what should I call you. My name is Barry.”
“My name is not important. Can you get me out of here?”
Barry shook his head, “’Fraid not. More than my job is worth.”
“I could find you work, better paid if you would free me.”
Barry laughed derisively, “You! I think not!”
The creature regarded him coolly and Barry wondered about what he had said, did he really have such authority that he could find him a better job?
“I have a friend.” The creature told him, “A woman, can you at least tell her where I am?”
“I’m sorry mate, it’s not possible. If I lose my job my family will suffer.”
“If I do not return home so will mine.”
“I thought you said you were the only one.” Barry was puzzled.
“I am, but I still have a family that love and care for me. My father will be worried sick. Can you at least let them know that I am alive?”
“Soon everyone will know that you are alive. I wouldn’t worry about that.”
“What do you mean?”
“The zoo are making you their new attraction. Two days from now buddy you are going on show.”
Barry grimaced, “Sorry mate,” he drew a deep breath and exhaled it in a rush, “The zoo was going under and you came along just in the nick of time to revive it. There has been extensive advertising on you, it is hoped people will flock by the thousand to get a look at you. There’s only one thing…”
“I don’t think I should tell you.”
“Well they plan to exhibit you as you are now…naked.”
“NO!” Shame filled the creature’s heart, he would rather die than go on show in any guise but naked?
“Sorry mate, but that’s the way of it. Your cage backs onto an outer wall, all they need to is lift the panel and everyone can see you as you are now.”
“Please…you must help me. You say you wish to be my friend.” The creature asked frantically, “then be my friend. You must get me some covering of some sort. Where is my cloak?”
“Your cloak? The items you were found wearing? I don’t know. Maybe even on show too. I have to tell you though, it would be better if you let no one else know you can speak as you are wanted for a hell of a lot of murders in this city, even though most of it was scum. Hey don’t look at me like that, I won’t tell a soul.”
“Please get me some covering, I can’t be seen like this.”
The sound of the fear and shame in his tone made Barry relent a little, he tried to imagine what it would be in the same situation and how he would feel, he had an idea.
“I’m off duty till the day of the opening, I won’t be able to get back before then for any reason. I showered and put on clean clothing before I came here tonight, the only thing I can offer you are the boxer shorts that I’m wearing beneath my jeans. Would they do?”
“Yes, thank you.”
“You will have to remain naked until just before the opening or they will get them away from you. If you hide them somewhere, under the straw perhaps, you can don them just before the panel is removed before the eyes of the public. Okay?”
“Just a minute then I’ll go to the gents and remove them. Won’t be long.”
The creature sighed with relief. He and the fellow named Barry were different builds but boxer shorts were often baggy and hopefully they would fit. And if they didn’t he would make them do, perhaps even turn them into some sort of loin cloth for he couldn’t, just couldn’t stand there naked for the whole world to see. He would rather be dead.
Walking through the endless corridors, Catherine paused at each junction, assessing which way to go next. She had never been to this part of the zoo and everywhere was so quiet that she was surprised that no one had heard her footsteps as it was. She’d chosen trainers yet even so on the polished flooring they sometimes squeaked as she walked.
Her heart in her mouth, her eyes taking note of any shadows ahead and around her, Catherine walked on, noting the various doors with names printed upon them and dismissing them as irrelevant. What she was actually looking for was something like laboratory or private do not enter. She found neither.
Beginning to believe she must be in the wrong wing Catherine was just about to backtrack when someone shouted, “Hey, what are you doing in here!”
Surprised at not having seen the approach of anyone, Catherine stood stock still waiting for them to approach her. When they did not and she heard voices she flattened herself against a wall behind a large leafy potted plant and listened intently.
“I said what are you doing in here?”
“Nothing.” The reply sounded nervous, guilty even.
“I don’t believe you. Now get out of here before I call security. This wing is off limits.”
Catherine’s heart raced, she would be in the right wing after all.
“Can I ask you a question first?”
“I’m a reporter, heard you had something marvellous here, some new attraction, I can pay you for anything you can give me?” The voice asked hopefully. Catherine could still not see either of them. It annoyed her to not know where they were, knowing that she too might be discovered at any moment. Besides that the voices were distorted and she found that confusing.
“Sorry no can do. More than my job is worth. ‘Side’s all will be revealed tomorrow. Be here early, and you can get the first pictures back to your newspaper before anyone else. That’s all I can help you with.”
“As soon as the doors open. Now out you go. I’ve work to do.”
The sound of a closing door and receding footsteps drew Catherine’s attention upward, and in so doing she noticed the speaker up on the wall. She signed with relief, knowing that wherever those two had been it had not been on her floor, but that in turn signalled to her that she must be silent for anything she might do would filter through the system and highlight her whereabouts to whomsoever may be listening. Probably in central control.
It also highlighted to her the fact that she was probably on the wrong floor and knew she would have to search for a stairwell.
That was easier said than done. Searching - no problems, accessing – quite another matter. The big heavy doors required some negotiating, that is if she didn’t want to be heard. If all sound were transferred to central control then any noise no matter how slight would be drawn back there via the speakers. And there was something else, why have built in speakers and no camera? There was the real possibility that every move she made was being transmitted back to central control with the aid of cameras and monitors even as she thought of it. The only hope she had was the fact that had she of been seen by then someone would surely have come running after her? There was nothing else for it, she would continue on her way, as quietly and deftly as possible until she was confronted and then she would use the plan she had in mind. And hopefully, unlike the reporter’s idea, she’d get away with it.
*** *** ***
As she had assumed Catherine’s every move was being monitored and the only reason she had gotten so far was because for the last half hour the only personnel on site had been pre-occupied with the following day’s grand event.
Now though as members of staff resumed their duties Catherine’s movements came with someone’s undivided attention as they watched her move steadily up the stairs from the first to second floor.
The control room being on the third floor was protected by large metal doors, security alarms and two burly guards both of which were now put on alert as Catherine began to search the corridor of the second floor.
Back in the control room, and with the assumption of safety the zoo directors watched Catherine with mild interest while they put together the final plans for the following day’s event. Their disinterest of the intruder mainly brought about by her being just another reporter looking for a scoop.
However, one man’s interest in her was beyond the level of his colleagues, and almost without thinking he blurted, “Strange that. This one’s not carrying any Dictaphone.” His words alerted the attention of the other three men in the room, and idly they looked toward the monitor, that now showed Catherine making her way steadily to an area that said, ‘strictly zoo personnel only” in big bold black letters.
“Maybe she’s wired to an outside circuit. Best get her out of there.”
“Good job tomorrow’s the big day, I’m really pissed off throwing these people out. Wish I could make one a spectacle that the other’s would never forget. Make them think twice about breaking in here ever again.”
“Yeah like throw one to the lions?” there was derisive laughter. “’Cept we ain’t got any lions now.”
More laughter followed. “Hey I have an idea. This way we could kill two birds with one stone, not literally of course, but look this bird wants a story and him, downstairs, Alpha, well he seems tame enough to me, and he’s part human, might be an idea to serve him with his last rites before he faces the world tomorrow. What do you say we sling her in with him?”
They laughed, but when he did not, one stated flatly, “You’re serious?”
“Damn right I am. And why not. ‘Sides might be good to find out what he is capable of. I mean we could just lead her you know to him like, let her think she got herself shut in accidental like, and if he does appear dangerous we can dart him before he hurts her. Believe me, I’d really like to know what he’d do with a woman.”
“Well since he has been around women all his life I shouldn’t think much. But hey what if she were half dressed or something, now that might get him going.”
“No we couldn’t do that. That would mean getting actively involved in kidnap and we would be put away for that.”
“Yes but think about this logically. This woman has broken in here. We can’t see any Dictaphone. We assume she is wired, and we assume she has sent information back to wherever she has come from already. Where she is headed if she isn’t soon intercepted, she’s gonna leak the biggest story in history, so we have our rights too. I mean there is absolutely no reason why we cannot go down there, bring her up here, strip her…” He laughed. ”Sorry wishful thinking, I mean frisk her and ask her to remove a few items. Then when she is only half dressed take her near to where he is, accidentally on purpose let her go, and make sure she heads his way. Then she gets shut in with him and pronto, you have it.”
“Sam, you’ve been reading too many tall stories.” One man laughed out loud, but another silenced him, “Wait a minute, Sam’s got a good idea there. Bit rough around the edges but its sound and might work. But let’s face it, we aren’t doing it for her benefit or his are we?” No one spoke and he continued, “Well I’m not at any rate, I just would like to see him give her the best shag she is ever gonna get. Struth, have you seen the size of his ding dong!”
Now they laughed. They laughed until their sides ached and all reluctantly agreed that was their sole intention in getting this plan off of the ground. “Let’s do it!” They cried in unison, and one picked up the cell phone designed to vibrate to signal a call coming through to contact one of the guards that had almost caught up with Catherine.
*** *** ***
Returning from the catacombs, Mouse and Jamie’s news did not in any way amuse Father, rather angered him further. Ever since this little fiasco had started his anger had grown in leaps and bounds and what they had to relate from the witchy woman did nothing to lessen his temper.
“Narcissa says Catherine is with Vincent.” Jamie bounded down the flight of steps leading into Father’s chamber the moment they arrived back.
“Stupid old woman!” Father snapped, “What kind of news is that! Everyone knows that is not true. Catherine has been here herself…alone…” His words slowed to a halt and in his present frame of mind Father began to wonder whether the things that Catherine had told him were in fact lies. What if Narcissa was right? What if Catherine was with Vincent? What if she had been lying all along rather than face him with the truth? And what if in sealing up the tunnels to the outside world he had in effect shut Vincent out too?
Then logic set in. He didn’t seriously believe Narcissa did he? Still the seed of doubt had been set and he wasn’t quite sure what to believe anymore.
“If Vincent is with Catherine, shouldn’t we open up the old entrances?” Mary asked almost echoing his thoughts of moments earlier. Father shook his head, “They aren’t together, of that I am certain.”
“But Father, Narcissa had been so sure. She saw it in a vision. Catherine went looking for Vincent and she found him. She also came looking for us but couldn’t get down here. What if Narcissa is right?” Jamie argued.
“What if? What if? You speak as though you have doubts in the old woman’s witchy capabilities. Either you believe or you don’t which is it to be, hmm?” Jamie was stunned by the sarcasm in Father’s tone. All of this was so unlike him.
“I believe her. And if you were there, if you heard it for yourself you would believe her too. I think Catherine is with Vincent. You know what? I think she’s found him all by herself and without the bond too, and do you know why? Cos she loves him, he is her life, and while you stay down here putting forth arguments against her you do nothing constructive about finding Vincent. You just put him further and further away from you, and you can’t see it. Narcissa was right!” Jamie’s eyes flashed her anger, and Father heard every word but only the last he took in.
“What do you mean Narcissa was right!” He flared angrily, “What has that wicked old witch been saying against me now!”
“Father!” Mary butted in. She was aware that Father had never truly believed in Narcissa’s form of magic, but never had she seen him so vindictive against the woman.
In that one word, Father relented, “On Narcissa’s behalf I apologise. That was very cruel of me. I know the old woman believes in her visions. I should not judge. Forgive me Jamie. Even so I should like to know what you meant about Narcissa being right.”
“I don’t think now is the time.” Maybe never, Jamie thought to herself. She had already said too much. Narcissa had told her that Father was jealous of the attention that Vincent gave Catherine, as much as he believed that Catherine would hurt his son in the long run, and that nothing good would come of their relationship, but deep down inside these were things that he hoped for, in order to have Vincent back to himself again. But Narcissa also informed Jamie that Father would never agree to these things, because he had not recognised them in himself. He knew only that he loved his son to distraction, and wanted what he thought was best for him no matter what.
“Look,” Jamie broached a fresh avenue, “Let’s assume Narcissa did see Catherine with Vincent in a vision, there was more. She saw them both behind bars. She couldn’t tell where those bars were, but she saw the desolation in their eyes, could feel the despair and fear emanating from them both. Father wherever they are, they are trapped and something bad is going to happen, though Narcissa could not tell us what. I think it largely depends on many deciding factors, any of which might force an issue that was unforeseen. Narcissa said as much, though not in the exact same words.”
Father nodded. He had to believe. There was he decided nothing else for it. Catherine had been unable to send word, or been too peeved in not being allowed below to do so. Whatever, she had been able to locate Vincent and had gone there, to wherever he was, alone, and now she too was a prisoner. It was too late for what if’s, that would take him down too many endless roads. The only thing he could do now was to unseal the entrances, so that Catherine and Vincent could come home if they escaped.
Nevertheless, his mind screamed over and over what if you hadn’t of had the tunnels sealed to prevent Catherine’s entrance, what then? Fortunately, he did have the answer even though he didn’t like facing it – if the tunnels had remained unsealed then Catherine may have come below and together they would have thought of some plan to bring Vincent home. And for the first time in days Father began to suffer from some of the guilt he had recently bestowed upon Catherine and he didn’t like the taste of it one bit.
*** *** ***
With an undignified thump Catherine landed bottom first onto something scrunchy and yet at the same time soft. Yet it was her pride that was hurt more than her body. Pride that had surfaced the moment that the guard had gained the upper hand against her protests, disbelieving her attempt that she was pursuing additional information for the zoological book about the Alpha and the Omega before it went for publishing. This was almost believed, except for the fact that the book had already been okayed for publishing and the first copies had rolled off the press earlier that day.
With that farce behind her, Catherine stumbled for a good enough reason to be in the building and before she could think of anything feasible she had been dragged kicking and screaming up the stairs to the third floor, where quite a reception had awaited her.
Now as mad as hell and growing madder by the second, Catherine squinted against the black darkness and wondered where on earth it was that they had thrown her. She sniffed the air suddenly realising that there was a scent somewhere to her left that seemed familiar to her and she held her breath sensing that she wasn’t alone.
“He…Hello?” she queried softly then instantly regretted doing so as a low warning growl issued somewhere from the centre of wherever she had been thrown. Panic rose and grasped her by the throat rendering her incapable of further speech, not that she wanted to say another thing. Already she had said more than enough and vulnerable as she was, half clothed Catherine began to shiver as much from the sudden blast of cold air rushing in from above as the fear that turned her blood to ice.
Sudden laughter chilled her further as she realised that the draught of cold air was due to a panel being opened high above her, and this became even more obvious when a dim light appeared followed by the silhouette of four heads looking in on her.
“Alpha!” One of the voices cried. “See we bring you a gift.” There was derisive laughter, then the words, “Go on give her one. She’s all yours!”
Her heart thudded loudly in her ears as Catherine began to understand the situation she was in. Half of her hoped that this Alpha was as presumed, her Vincent, while half of her hoped against hope that it wasn’t. Yet even so, if it wasn’t surely her predicament was even worse? Usually that would have been so, but for Vincent to see her like this, why she was almost naked, in fact half of her was naked, for she had worn no bra that day as the four men had discovered much to their delight.
What they had put her through was little more than sexual assault, she had seen the hunger in their eyes, had known that given the chance one or all of them would have raped her. Catherine shuddered and she wished Vincent was there. Right now to wallow deep in his arms seemed awfully appealing no matter her position and at least then they would be together.
“Maybe they need a bit more light. Perhaps he doesn’t see as well in the dark as we’ve been led to believe.” Words dropped in on her from above and almost instantly another light blazed forth.
Catherine was almost afraid to look. Her eyes seemed riveted to the straw beneath her until a sudden gasp had her looking up into the blue eyes of her truelove.
“Did you hear that? He spoke. I’m sure he spoke! What did he say?”
Vincent spoke no more. Instead, he stepped forward and gathered Catherine to him, bending over her to shield her state from prying eyes. Tears gathered in his and fell at a steady stream as he whispered into her ear. “My love, what have they done to you?”
“Yeah…” Came voices from above as the men egged him on, “Fast mover ain’t he? Got hold of her already. Yeah…go on Alpha…shag ‘er!” the excitement in their tone sickened Vincent and pulling away from Catherine he roared loudly making them back away a little even though it were impossible that he could reach them.
Back at Catherine’s side, Vincent revelled in her arms around him, something the men above did not miss and found quite amazing to say the least. And it was becoming more and more obvious that she wasn’t even in the slightest bit afraid of the creature.
“She knows him!”
“That’s what I was thinking. Hey Alpha, you know this woman. How in the hell does he know her?” The fellow asked no one in particular.
“I dunno, but I do know we got to get her outta there. If he knows her then that’s double trouble. So whose volunteering?”
“To go in there you mean? No way! Just get the darts, we’ll fell him with one of those, then just maybe I’ll go fetch her out.”
Listening Vincent and Catherine crouched together huddled close. They knew the wisdom of silence. They also knew the source of their strength that two were better than one. And no one, no one was going to dart Vincent if Catherine had anything to do with it.
“Sam, you watch them while we go find the keys to the gun locker. See if they talk to each other. Let us know what they say.”
Sam nodded, his eyes wide with apprehension. It had begun to dawn on him, the seriousness of their situation. And he wondered if anyone had given thought as to what they should do with the woman now.
With only one onlooker to contend with, Vincent concentrated upon Catherine’s well being, “Did they hurt you? His eyes travelled over her slowly deliberately missing the area of nakedness that drew his gaze the most.
“No, just embarrassed me. Vincent what about you?” She gasped as for the first time Catherine noticed that Vincent was totally naked.
He noticed it too, in that instant, and more than that, he was aroused. Shamefully he pushed her away from him turned from her and sought the boxer shorts that Barry had given him the day before. He was reserving them for the morning, but now he needed them even more. Donning them made him still feel naked but less so, and now at least he and Catherine were equal, both in the same state of undress. Not quite so bad, and not quite so good either. Not when he remembered what had taken place between them in the catacombs, something Catherine had seemed, thankfully, to have forgotten.
Vincent had never forgiven himself for that day, believing that Catherine had made no mention to it, for either one of two reasons, one that she was acutely embarrassed or two that she had shut it out of her mind having found it abhorrent to her. Either way Vincent found himself in a dilemma wanting only to share that beautiful experience with her again and again and knowing that it would never be so.
He remembered her breasts. As he saw them now in the half light, just like the time in the cave. And the way her breathing laboured caused the rise and fall of her breasts to tempt and torment him even further. Despite himself, despite where they were, despite the fact that they had an audience, Vincent could not prevent himself from wanting her, from hardening further with the desire that was building in his blood.
He was on fire for her. With the memories and the need and the half naked sight of her right before him. Red mist formed before his eyes and as Vincent recognised the warning signs of the dark one – it terrified him. Catherine was meant to feel safe in his arms yet if she did but know it she was anything but.
She didn’t appear frightened though. Her eyes watching him seemed to know, to understand. They seemed to speak to him, ‘what is it Vincent, you know you can tell me anything.’ Except he couldn’t, he could never tell her of the weeks of loneliness, of the dreams and memories he had had while lying in his cell awaiting his fate. Awaiting the day when all the world would see him, awaiting the day when he would die of shame.
A door opened and a shaft of light penetrated the cell moments before the whole area was lit up ablaze with lights.
“He’s too close to her, make sure you get only him.” One voice sounded, one they recognised from earlier. In an instant Vincent swept Catherine into his arms, no one would separate them.
Understanding at once, Catherine pushed Vincent back into a corner, her eyes flashing her fury at the three men that surrounded the cell though only one held a dart gun.
“Struth, she’s protecting him. I can’t get a clear shot for fear of getting her.”
“So get her. What’s wrong with that?”
“Because dear man, that would constitute kidnap, she’s bound to tell someone what we did to her.”
“And who would believe her? She hasn’t any witnesses to back her, and he’s unlikely to help her is he? He doesn’t even speak, and even if he did who’d believe him? Can you seriously see him standing up ion court?” There was laughter as they pictured this, and despite herself Catherine pictured it too and found it amusing. Still it was only a flash of humour, soon gone as she challenged the men with eyes of fiery ice.
“I don’t know what to do. I can’t get to him for her, see how she covers him, she knows him she’s got to do, no other animal rights person would go to such lengths when they do not know the creature. He might kill her at any moment.”
“I beg to differ.” Came a voice from above.
“Sam, hi mate, almost forgotten you were there, what do you mean?”
“I don’t think killing her is on his menu…if you saw what I saw you’d know what I mean…and when I say menu I don’t mean that metaphorically. He’s hungry for her, I can see that from here, he’s hard and hot and if you ask me he’s a wanting her for his mate. You know what I think? You should put down the gun and come back up here, for believe me we have ringside seats for what we hoped to see happen between them earlier.”
“You think so?” Hope sounded in the voice of the man holding the dart gun.
Catherine shuddered. Backing tighter against Vincent she found the words spoken above her to be true even though his desire was waning, Catherine knew that what had been seen before had been so, Vincent had desired her, did desire her still, but this place this situation was against all rational thought. This was not the place, despite their hunger for one another. Despite the state of undress that they found themselves in.
Catherine began to cry. Gentle tears turning to wracking sobs that left Vincent bereft. He believed that what she had been forced to listen to had frightened her. She was at his mercy to do as he chose just as she had been in the cave.
The red mist gathered around him more tightly and that in itself would bring forth a terrifying ordeal one way or another. With the dark one back there was no telling what might be their fate or even if Vincent could maintain the upper hand.
He felt he might, he took deep calming breaths, holding Catherine reasonably firmly but not overbearingly so. She could escape if she wanted. He did not know it was the last thing crossing her mind. Believing only that she was afraid of what might happen between them, he held her loosely while whispering in her ear, “It’s alright my love, you’re safe, you’re safe now.” While hoping that it sounded as though he meant it. For as the red mist gathered and he felt the warmth of her breasts as he enfolded his arms protectively about her, he doubted even the truth of his own words.
He wanted her, he really wanted her…oh how he wanted her…
And as four voices beckoned for him to have his way with the woman Vincent tried to shut out the sound of their voices and with eyes closed he fought against the desire of the dark one taking control…and then amid the audience and the cheers from above… to his and Catherine's shame…he hopelessly lost.
*** *** ***
From one corner of the cell Catherine whimpered. She would remember it all her life. She never whimpered, but this sound uttered from her throat was pitiful, a plaintive cry as if borne from a kitten.
Above her four faces filled with concern gazed down at her. Hearts thudded frantically as the reality of what they had caused set in around them. She had been so beautiful and they had exploited her, thrown her into a cell with a beast and had enjoyed every single moment of the ‘rape’, yet now, now all was quiet they felt bad.
Terrible if truth be told, terrible for what they had done and for the consequences of their combined felony.
No one spoke, yet eyes were downcast toward the woman before sweeping across to the other corner, where he, the beast, the creature, sat upon his haunches almost as if he might pounce on her again at any moment.
They couldn’t see his eyes, but a deathly silence prevailed, one that permeated the whole area, and filled the onlookers with dread.
“We’ve got to get her out of there.” One of them said. It was thoughts spoken aloud. The speaker was unaware that he had started to talk until he heard his own voice in his ears.
Even so he was answered, “Yes, and we can dart him now that they aren’t near each other. Come on lets get it done before he attacks her again.”
Three faces withdrew from the opening above. Sam stayed watching every move the beast made. He felt sick, they should never have done that, should never have put such a beautiful woman in with such a creature. It was uncanny that they appeared to know one another, but even if they did, it had not been permissible for the two to appear half naked around each other. In all probability, they had never seen one another in such a state of undress in all their lives. In actual fact, it was probable that the beast and the woman were associates, in the term of friends, and that the idea of sex had never risen between them, until now. Sam grew frightened. They didn’t know who the woman was, and they weren’t sure what to do with her to save their own necks.
As he thought, he heard the doors below open and close, the sound of a barrel crack and the incision of the dart. A short sound followed like that of a breath of air and the beast dropped to the straw moments later falling flat on his face.
The whimpering started afresh, as the three men opened the cell and went inside with the intention of bringing the woman out. Thus, they were unprepared for her attack.
“How dare you!” Catherine leapt to her feet, stumbled a moment righted herself and launched her hands nails first at the eyes of one of the three men. He winced, twisting away, hands covering his face and replaced by another of the men who made a grab at her flailing hands before she could make her second strike.
“Hold still you wildcat, or we’ll leave you here with that beast.”
“He’s no beast! It’s you who wear that label.” She spat viciously, catching one full in the face. He wiped it clean with the back of his hand, snarling his agitation and raised a hand to hit her.
Just then a thunderous roar split his eardrums even as he heard Sam’s shout from above, ‘Look out he’s awake!’ and he turned to the sound only in time to see a mighty arm, fur coated, claws like talons crashing down upon him, before he felt the gush of warm blood soaking his chest and shoulders. Clutching his throat, the man tried desperately to hold in his life force, feeling it ebb away even as he did so.
A second thwack, and then a third had the other two men reeling, and then Vincent stumbled over their bodies laid strewn across the floor to reach Catherine standing just beyond.
“Come.” He beckoned her, holding out a hand, his eyes pained and distraught.
Catherine needed no second bidding, she took the offered hand and together they made their escape without a backward glance.
*** *** ***
They ran without word through the endless corridors, searching only for some covering, neither willing to look sidelong at the other, each aware of their own nakedness each remembering what had taken place between them.
Passing a door that had the words ‘utility’ on it, Catherine paused and was pulled along by Vincent before he too slowed and backtracked to stand alongside her. He looked at her face curiously, wondering what she was thinking.
“We might find something in here.” She told him, “Even if its only bin liners.” She attempted a smile that didn’t quite come off and when the expression on Vincent’s face remained aloof, her smile disappeared.
Opening the door, they stepped within and switched on the light. A quick perusal of the room showed only mops, buckets, a sink and as Catherine had surmised, bin liners. She picked one up, spread it open and tore three openings where she slipped her head and arms. Glancing down at her creation, she could not resist a chuckle, “Might not make next year’s fashion, but it’ll certainly keep my modesty intact.” Vincent said nothing just followed her idea picking up a bag for himself and copying her design he covered himself with it.
It was amazing how much better that slip of black plastic made him feel, even though the thought galloped through his mind that it was very much like ‘shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted’. Even so, he knew that with covering, any sort of covering they could at least get out of the building and head toward the nearest entrance to his underground home without causing so much of a stir had they been seen naked.
Once there was another matter. Vincent didn’t like to think on that. Things were never going to be the same between he and Catherine. In fact had it not been for overseeing her escape, he would gladly have stayed in that cell until he rotted away. He despised himself and wanted not to feel or think ever again. He wanted only to die.
Twice it had happened. Twice. How could he pretend that the dark one was to blame? Maybe the first time, when he had been a ferocious beast, maybe that one time the dark one could be blamed. But this second time, he had been in control at the outset, he had known, yet he had allowed lust and the memory of that first time with Catherine to feed his mind, until in so doing he brought the dark one to the fore. And it would always be this way. He, the man, knew not how to love. That act was reserved for the beast alone and he simply took what was offered despite the consequences.
Still, he found it equally compelling to ponder Catherine’s response to the dark one’s ferocious attack. True she could do little under the circumstances, yet even so that first time Father had been close at hand, and she could have called for help.
Surely Catherine did not enjoy such slaking of his flesh? Surely that wasn’t making love? The books he had read had not prepared him for such an assault. He had dreamed that love would grow and each would surrender one to the other with slow deliberation, giving and receiving the love that they felt for one another – a celebration of joy. Not the teeth clenching, neck biting, grotesque shuffle of roaming hands…not the lust induced passion with which he released around her…not the way he had taken her…again and again and again…with not a thought to anything but his own pleasure? Vincent wanted to be sick. How could he do that to Catherine? How could he have allowed that to happen? The once could have been forgiven, that one time in the catacombs when he had not been in control, but how could he justify his actions in that cell? What could he possible tell himself that would correct the wrong he had administered? Why he was no better than the men that had put her in with him.
Suddenly a flash of memory brought their cheers and applause racing through his mind and in that moment he felt the same thrill as he had done then. He stopped dead, causing Catherine to look at him with concern asking, “Vincent what is it?” as she looked about her expecting to see someone at any moment to her left or to her right. There was no one and she gazed back at him anxiously. He was agitated that was for sure, and he looked as though he might take flight any second.
“Vincent!” Catherine hissed sharply, tugging on his arm, “What’s wrong?”
At least she had drawn his attention. He turned to her, his eyes boring into hers and in that moment, Catherine did not know him. He was gone, unreachable, yet she knew that the dark one hadn’t returned.
“Later, Vincent.” Catherine tugged him onward, “We’ll talk later. Now’s not the time.”
Still he held back, his gaze now somewhere distant unable to look at her and she felt his shame, it broke her heart. “You weren’t yourself, please Vincent I understand, please don’t blame yourself.”
Yet, he did blame himself. Catherine, somehow had found him, had come to rescue him take him home and he had abused her, used her for his own selfish needs. Her appearance had been like that of a dream come true or a temptress come to taunt him when his desire for her ran at its deepest. She would not know that hours before her arrival he had sat pondering that time in the catacombs. She would not know that while he remembered he also thought that she had shut the horrific experience away, deep inside where it could never be recovered because she had loathed every single moment of the revolting act.
Even so, whether she remembered or not, she had come for him, rescued him and he repaid her in this way!
Had he been able to kill himself he would have done so then, but Catherine was still at risk, walking the park late at night in nothing but a bin liner, anything might happen to her. If nothing else Vincent knew that he owed it to Catherine to get her to safety, before he punished himself for what he had done to her.
Pleasure swept through Catherine at that one word, and she gladly allowed Vincent to pull on her hand, heading for what she knew to be the entrance into his world. She didn’t even stop to consider that it still might be sealed, Vincent she knew would let nothing stop him from entering anywhere if he chose to do.
She hurried at his side a brisk trot dodging the lights keeping as much as possible to the shadows, until they finally reached their goal. Not until then did either exhale a breath of relief, and as she anticipated the cracking of stone, Catherine uttered a cry of surprise to find when Vincent touched the mechanism that had denied her entry the door slid open with the resonate rasping sound that she accustomed it with.
No sooner had they entered did the pipes herald their arrival, clanging as sentries unable to believe their eyes tapped out any coherent message with fumbling fingers eager to touch metal.
Catherine could sense the excitement in every step she took, and her heart raced for the welcome they would receive. It stunned her therefore, when Vincent directed her not to the main hub where his anxious family awaited their arrival but rather to the entrance beneath her apartment building.
The wall thereto had been reopened and Catherine stunned from that as much as arriving at the spot turned to Vincent, “Surely we can go to your chamber? I have some of my things there to change into. Your family are anxious to have you back. Vincent, don’t put me first, I don’t mind wearing mismatched items.” She grinned up at him hoping to see him smile, “they’re better than nothing at any rate.” She teased.
He did not smile neither did any amount of amusement touch the blue of his eyes. An icy hand suddenly clutched at Catherine’s heart. Something was wrong, something was dreadfully wrong. And she knew what it was.
“Don’t let it eat at you my love.” Her fingers reached out to touch his cheek but he flinched away, indicating instead with one outstretched arm toward the ladder that would take her into the basement of her apartment building.
“Go!” He growled the word, making Catherine cringe like she was the one that had done wrong, not that he had, not in her eyes, but she felt it in him, it was as if he couldn’t stand to set eyes upon her.
“Vincent, I love you. What happened changes nothing. You have to see that, you have to know that what we did I wanted too.”
“Not like that! Catherine don’t you see it changes everything. Nothing can ever be the same for us again.”
“No you’re wrong. We have so much we can get through this. Vincent, please let me come back with you?”
He shook his head and raising his arm once more pointed to the stairs, “Go Catherine. Go live the life you were born for. Forget me.”
“I can never forget you! Never! You don’t know what you ask of me. Vincent I love you, all of you.”
“Then you are a fool! Now go! And don’t come back, I never want to see you again!”
“You don’t mean that. You are distraught, and angry, and ashamed for what happened. Vincent, it doesn’t matter, I forgive you and don’t you see even then you did not hurt me as you have always maintained.” She was clutching at his arms by now, holding on for dear life. He shook himself free.
“Go Catherine! Get out of my life! What I am is what I am, I will never be the man that you see within me. Don’t you understand? What happened back there proves only what I knew all along I am a beast slaking my bestial thirst on your flesh. Its unholy Catherine, and unforgivable!” the last came out on a sob and Catherine knew it was tearing him apart to send her away yet she didn’t know what to say only tried to cuddle close hoping that actions would speak louder than any words. She loved him, no matter what had happened, she loved him now and she always would. He was her life.
“Go Catherine.” The words were spoken softer now, less threatening as if all fight had drained out of him, Catherine could tell it was taking every ounce of strength to send her away from him. “Go and don’t come back…never come back.”
Suddenly an angry retort echoed his words, “You heard what my son said, now get out of our lives…”
He fell to his knees then, the exertion and the endless days and nights caged taking their toll upon him.
“Winslow, Cullen help him, come Vincent we have a stretcher, climb aboard we can’t lift you.” Meek as a lamb Vincent obeyed, and as Catherine stepped up behind her intention to follow them, Father reeled on her. “Are you stupid! Do you not understand plain English? Vincent wants nothing more to do with you! Now get out of our lives. We never want to see or hear from you again. Got that?”
“Father…” Vincent began his words slurred. He sounded oh so tired. But Father did not listen to him, instead he literally stamped back to where Catherine was standing hesitant, unsure, weary, bereft and raised his cane above her head…”Now go!”
Sobbing Catherine went, climbing the steps as swiftly as she could, her body quaking with tears… and leaving her heart behind.
“And don’t try coming back…” Father shouted as he followed the men carrying the stretcher. “Within the hour this entrance will be well and truly sealed...and make no mistake…this time it will be forever!”
And the last thing that Vincent heard before the men carried him out of earshot was the sound of Catherine whimpering again…rendering the return of a nightmare that he knew would have no end.
*** *** ***
Concern for his most favourite patient made Peter visit the tunnels five weeks later. Catherine had been through thick and thin over the years, but the state he had just left her in frightened him. And though she would not be specific, he knew that her problem was Vincent orientated.
Pascal on his beloved pipes announced the arrival of the tunnel’s long time friend and Peter was stopped several times before reaching his objective, that being the main hub around where tunnel life revolved. However, when he finally arrived he was surprised to find not only Father but Vincent too awaiting him and with looks upon their faces that could only be described as ones of caution.
“Father! Vincent! Are you well?” Peter offered the customary greeting, and saw the cautious look shift to one of expectation.
“Yes, as well as can be expected.” Father replied for the two of them, “So what brings you to us Peter? Is this an informal visit?”
For some unknown reason Peter felt his hackles rise. Thirty years and more he had visited these tunnels, and never had he been treated as though he were the enemy.
“Not exactly.” Peter replied truthfully.
“As we thought then.” Father sounded gruff annoyed. “Peter, you may be unaware but there is one person’s name that we do not allow down here anymore. So if you have come to plead her case you can forget it.”
“There are no buts. Now if you would like to join us for tea you are more than welcome, but we will not tolerate the mention of that young lady!”
Peter could hardly believe his ears! Catherine had maintained there was such hostility toward her, but he did not believe it until now. How could he take tea with these people and pretend he agreed with them? He could not. He shook his head, “Forget it!” there were no other words he could utter without issuing a stream of obscenities from here to Kingdom Come. He was furious. He turned and without saying another word he left and he didn’t care what they thought of him!
Only Vincent stared after him, Father having already shrugged his shoulders muttered something unrepeatable and headed back for his chamber.
Vincent felt sad. Another chapter had just closed in his book of life, and deep down inside Vincent was aware that it was beginning to hurt.
*** *** ***
Catherine hadn’t told Peter everything. Not only had she left out some very big details regarding herself and Vincent, but she had also refrained from bothering him with the thing that hung over her and kept her constantly worried.
It had all began a couple of days after she had rescued Vincent from the zoo. Jenny had rang, and Catherine found much of the conversation lost to her now that she tried to recollect it because of the nature of the call, but it went something like this;
“Is that you, Jen?” Catherine could remember laughing despite the way she had felt before her friend rang. She hoped that Jenny would not notice the way she was really feeling.
“Yes its me.” There had been a pause, Catherine distinctly remembered that, she also remembered laughing some more and saying, “What lost for words, Jen? I never thought I’d see the day.”
“Its not that.” Jenny had continued, “It’s just well you asked me to relate anything I heard regarding the Alpha and the Omega, you remember?”
“Yes, but it doesn’t matter now Jen, I don’t need anymore information on that, but tell me what you have unearthed anyway.”
“Well I haven’t anything not really. And it concerns me that you don’t want anything else on the subject. Is there something you want to tell me Cathy?”
“Tell you? I’m sorry Jen, I’m not with you on this one. What’s on your mind?”
“I take it you have seen the news headlines today?”
Catherine confessed she hadn’t. Television was the last thing on her mind, as was reading newspapers. In fact for the past three days she had done little else but cry, get mad, and cry again as she thought of the things Vincent and Father had said to her.
“Well…I don’t like to have to be the bearer of bad news honey, but your face is splashed all over the bulletins.”
“My…my…face? But why?”
“That’s what I’d like to know. But its certainly you Cathy, I’m surprised that boss of yours hasn’t been hammering your door down by now. Good job its weekend or he might have lynched you at the office.”
Fear stole over Catherine at her words. Her mind racing she could just remember asking Jenny to explain when just that happened, there was a loud hammering on her apartment door.
“I heard that. Cathy, if there is anything I can do let me know okay? Anything, you know you don’t even have to ask, okay? I’m here for you come what may.”
“Thanks Jen.” Catherine hung up, she hadn’t meant to do, and as she crossed the room to the door, she wondered why she had. She wasn’t a bit surprised to find Joe standing on the other side of it, but she was exceedingly surprised to find that he wasn’t alone.
“I’m sorry kiddo.” Joe kept apologising as Catherine was read her rights and handcuffed. She said nothing her head in a spin, and Joe just stood there looking awkward as Catherine was led from her apartment unable to say a thing.
Obviously, whatever had happened was all some ghastly mistake. She’d been nowhere, done nothing, but even as Catherine thought it, she reminded herself of three days ago when she had noticed those cameras as she walked along the corridors of the Central Park Zoo and it all began to make sense.
Thinking back on it now Catherine couldn’t believe how she had behaved. She had remained so quiet, not insisting her innocence at all. Even Joe had deemed her guilty, besides there wasn’t much one could do when there was evidence of her breaking and entering that part of the building at that time of day.
Since then however, she had fumed and ranted and raved at the injustice of it all, that she, being the rescuer of her beloved Vincent, was branded a criminal for stealing away the zoo’s prime attraction on the eve of its presentation to the entire geographical world. She couldn’t even tell Joe about it not without giving Vincent away, and she couldn’t even tell Jenny about it. Jenny her best friend who despite the absurdity of her friend stealing the creature could not quite dispute the fact that Catherine had been there at that time when that creature had gone missing, and that she could not give a reasonable explanation as to why that was so. Everything pointed to one conclusion. Catherine Chandler was guilty and although now out on bail was still awaiting sentence, and if convicted of the crime could face a term of up to five years in prison. So how could she tell Peter those things? Yet, how could she hope to keep them from him? Catherine did not know, she had not a clue as to how she might get out of this one, and with the sanctity of the tunnels snatched away from her, there was nowhere to go while she awaited the dreaded day set for her trial.
*** *** ***
When Peter did find out about it he couldn’t believe what he was reading and wished that Catherine had told him herself.
Straight away he cancelled all his appointments and went round to her apartment hoping it was all some ghastly mix up unprepared to be told that it wasn’t and Peter could only stand and stare mouth agape as the words that Catherine was relating to him sank in.
Finally he cleared his throat a few times and began to question her, “But why Cathy? I mean why are they doing this to you?”
With a wry grimace Catherine replied, “In a word, ‘Vincent’. They don’t know him like you or I do, Peter. As far as the zoo and the rest of the world is concerned I just stole their main exhibit from under their noses. No one has thought to question what I did with him.” Catherine laughed derisively, “I mean think of it logically where would one put someone like Vincent without knowledge of the tunnels and expect to get away with it?” Her words caught on a sob. Catherine was mad and she didn’t want Peter’s pity or sorrow, or anything else that remotely felt like he was sorry for her.
“I can’t see how you can get out of this one, Cathy. Without Vincent, there is no way, and we both know the impossibility of that even if he would hear you out. What is it with you two anyway? Father was pretty hostile when I visited, wouldn’t even allow me to mention your name. I didn’t stay I can tell you, I was furious with him.”
“Was Vincent there?”
“Yes, and he said not a thing. That’s unlike him Cathy and you know it, so what happened between the two of you?”
Catherine exhaled a deep breath, maybe it might be better if Peter knew the basics of this problem, maybe an outside view would help her find the answer she sought.
“Alright Peter, I’ll tell you but promise you’ll keep it to yourself.”
Cocking his head to one side, Catherine knew exactly what he was thinking and she smiled, “Don’t tell me, keeping a confidence is what you’re best at?”
Peter chuckled, “Well…”
“Okay then its this. Remember that time in the cave, when Vincent was undergoing that terrible fever, when everyone thought he would die?”
“Yes and you brought him back and was rendered the heroine, that’s what I can’t understand Cathy, why are they doing this to you after that, and especially since you returned him to them a second time…I mean…oops sorry, go on.” He looked apologetic for swinging the conversation off into another direction.
“Yes, well I can’t understand it either. But back to that time in the cave…” Catherine hesitated. It was one thing telling your doctor your innermost secrets but it was quite another thing telling the man her father had considered his best friend all her life.
“If I know you Cathy, and Vincent, and the way he was before to the way he came out of that cave, I’d say something remarkable happened between the two of you, and you were one hellava brave lass to have even contemplated it while Vincent was in that condition.” Peter smiled at her understanding her embarrassment to tell all.
“Has Father said anything to you?”
Peter smiled and shook his head, then explained, “Well not exactly. But I got the picture that you and Vincent became exceedingly close that day in the cave. Do you get my drift?”
Catherine blushed, but his words gave her the way out she needed, “Well yes, and we got awfully close the same way that time at the zoo, only this time we had an audience.”
“Yes there were four men watching, no not watching goading, they were goading Vincent…er…the dark one…to..er…”
Peter stared wide eyed, “Are you telling me that Vincent raped you?”
“No, no…well not really. It wasn’t Vincent, that is it was, but it was his alter ego, you know the one that…well you know.” She finished lamely.
“Catherine! You could be pregnant!”
Despite herself Catherine smiled, “Trust a doctor to think of that. But don’t worry Peter that’s not the issue here, besides Vincent’s sterile.”
“Sterile? How on earth do you know that? I have never run such a test on him.”
“I overheard the conversation between the men that had captured him. They referred to him as The Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end, basically because they had never heard or seen of anyone like Vincent before, and as they knew he was sterile it was unlikely that there would ever be another like him either.”
“Well Father would be very interested to hear that piece of information young lady. He held grave misgivings about an intimate relationship between you and Vincent for that very reason. And Vincent too, does he know?”
“Now that I don’t know. I shouldn’t think so, unless they discussed it around him. They were unaware that he could speak or that he could understand what they were saying. They regarded him as an animal, Peter.”
“Yes, so I have been led to understand. I don’t know if any of the helpers are sending newspapers down there, but I wouldn’t have thought so. Its possible that if they are they are omitting anything to do with you under Father’s command. But I doubt that he is aware of how you are making the headlines these days.”
“Oh don’t Peter. I hate thinking about it. If I do I wonder how they can read all about it and Vincent still not come to see me, or send word. I wouldn’t have taken Vincent for being callous Peter, but what else should I presume?”
“I don’t think that’s a possibility Catherine, and that’s one of the reasons I don’t think they know anything about it. Want me to tell them?”
“Do you think they’ll let you?” Catherine laughed bitterly.
“I’ll make them hear me. You can’t carry this by yourself Cathy. From what you tell me and from what I’ve read you are going to go down for this.”
“I know, and there isn’t a single thing I can say to dispute it. I was caught on camera entering the building and I was seen leaving it with Vincent in tow. It’s a cut and dried case I’m afraid, Peter. You will visit me in prison won’t you?” she tried to make a joke of it, but it didn’t come off and Peter wrapped his arms around her as she cried into his shoulder.
“I don’t know how I’m gonna do it Cathy, but know this, come what may, I will do everything in my power to prevent you from going to jail. Will you be alright by yourself for a while, there is somewhere I must go?”
Catherine hiccupped and turned watery eyes to Peter, she nodded, her eyes questioning though she said nothing.
“Yes honey, I’m going below. I’m going to face the lion in his den. And I don’t mean Vincent or his alter ego!”
Catherine knew exactly whom he meant.
Peter had just left and Vincent was still reeling with shock and Peter’s last words ringing in his ears. Even Father stood stock still as white as a sheet.
When he had come Peter made no mention of Catherine whatsoever, even so both Vincent and Father could tell by his agitation that he had something he wanted to say about her right on the tip of his tongue. However, they kept the conversation light and steered well away from anything to do with the world above and a certain district attorney.
About to leave, standing upon the threshold to Father’s chamber Peter had stopped and turned back to face the two men and had stated quite matter of factly, “oh by the way, there’s a helper that is about to stand trial for grand theft. Its more than possible they will be jailed.”
That had Father and Vincent’s rapt attention.
Adjusting his spectacles nervously Father enquired, “Oh who?”
Peter almost smiled as he delivered his grand finale, “Catherine.” Was all he said before disappearing down the tunnel at a brisk walk.
He was half way between Father’s chamber and Mary’s when he suddenly heard footsteps running behind him, he calculated that they were Vincent’s. He was right. A furred hand seized his shoulder as he walked on expecting something like that at any moment. He turned, “Who’s that? Oh Vincent? Did I forget something?” He asked innocently and highly amused.
He didn’t know what he expected but he knew it wasn’t tears. They cascaded down Vincent’s cheeks in rivulets and the younger man was trembling.
“Tell me?” Vincent asked in his usual way, except the words were spoken shakily and there was fear in his eyes.
“Just like I say Vincent. There’s a great possibility that Catherine will be going to prison. I’m surprised that you care.”
“OF COURSE I CARE! I LOVE CATHERINE!” Vincent seethed through clenched teeth, knowing full well what was to come.
“Then you have a funny way of showing it. I would have thought after everything that has happened between you, you would have been closer to one another not further apart.”
“How do you know about that?”
“Dah…” Peter’s mouth dropped open with sarcasm, “I would have thought that was obvious Vincent. Catherine told me of course. Who else knows?”
“I’m sorry I should have guessed. Is she alright?”
“I assume you mean relating to that particular incident?”
“Yes she’s alright. I don’t think she sees it as paramount right now. Other things are more important, like going to jail for freeing you from that hell hole, and not having an alibi or a leg to stand on to get her out of the mess, since she has to keep you a secret! I tell you Vincent, the way you and Father have behaved toward her, I would have great trouble sticking to such loyalties if it were me, and I don’t mean maybe!” Peter was fuming.
“I need to see her.” Vincent whispered.
Peter grimaced, “Impossible I’m afraid, you can’t go above. They are searching for you. Catherine’s apartment is being watched, that is Catherine is being watched night and day. All visitors are quizzed. I could only go in as her doctor and I had to show my identity for that. You’d never get out of the park, they’ll recapture you quick smart, and Catherine would still go to jail. I can’t see a way out of it Vincent, I really cant.”
“I can. Catherine must come here.”
“And what? Remain in hiding all her life. Isn’t that what you have been dead set against since the beginning? And now your neck is at stake you allow it?”
“Is that the way you see it, Peter?”
“How else can I see it? You make love to the girl and show her the door, not wanting anymore to do with her until something like this comes along that makes you bend the rules. Well I tell you Vincent, if I were Catherine I’d tell you to go to hell at such a suggestion coming right now, I really would.”
Vincent lowered his head, he felt ashamed. He was also deeply embarrassed by Peter’s words that he had made love to Catherine. He hadn’t viewed it that way. In fact he had tried to shut it out of his mind. It had been abhorrent, he had been abhorrent. How could Catherine possible want anything more to do with him after that?
“Could she be pregnant?” He had to know.
“Then she was right.” Peter spoke as if to himself.
“Sorry Vincent. Catherine found out that you are sterile. Pregnancy would be an impossibility.”
Signing deeply, Peter could see how relieved Vincent was by this piece of news, yet even so he appeared sad tortured.
“Catherine deserves to have children. I know how much that means to her. If she and I were together she would have to forsake that particular dream among others.”
“Right now Vincent, I think being with you anywhere is the last thing on Catherine’s mind. You’ve hurt her badly, you and Father together, and it will take a great deal of encouragement on your part to even have her consider having anything more to do with you. In any other circumstances and knowing your earlier misgivings I might say perhaps that is for the best, only now I can’t think that way. This problem has to be sorted out with you involved. I don’t know how you are going to do it Vincent, but you have to help. Otherwise Catherine is going to go to prison, and I don’t need to tell you what that feels like.”
“No…you don’t. Peter, do you think you could bring her down to the basement of her building? Perhaps if I could talk to her…”
After a long pause Peter nodded, “Alright I’ll suggest it to her. But I tell you now, if you upset her anymore than you already have you’ll have me to answer to!”
Both knew that out of the two Vincent was in all likelihood to be the more aggressive still Vincent didn’t dwell on that right now. Since the death of Charles Chandler, Peter had adopted the father role in Catherine’s life and Vincent felt very much like he was being confronted by that parent. He didn’t dare remark that any fight between them would probably end with him being the victor. And Peter didn’t expect him to. Quite frankly, the way Peter felt at that moment rendered him superhuman. He would protect the girl he had come to accept as his daughter come what may, and no matter who challenged him.
In that, he was probably more courageous than Vincent at that moment, but only at that very moment.
Vincent’s love for Catherine ran deep, and he was better designed to protect those he loved. All the same, he promised Peter that he would say nothing to hurt her, and then in silence and each to his own thoughts the two fell into step and walked toward the tunnel entrance that was situated beneath Catherine’s apartment building.
*** *** ***
Catherine wouldn’t come down. Peter thought he should have been prepared for this but found he wasn’t, he stared at her as she adamantly refused to meet Vincent at the threshold of their worlds.
“I feel I should know honey, but I’m afraid I don’t. I thought you wanted to see him?”
Catherine shrugged, “I can’t see that meeting him will resolve anything, Peter. This is a Catch 22 situation. I’ve thought it through over and over. Look, Vincent can’t reveal himself to anyone, but unless he does I can’t be acquitted. And even if he did reveal himself and who he is, a man not a beast, then he will be arrested for murder not only for those three goons that goaded him to love me in that cell, but for all the murders he has committed over the years. I know, I know they were scum, but they were still somebody’s child, and that somebody will want to see justice done. Vincent will go to the chair, Peter and you know it. Really I cannot see a way out of this one.” Catherine finished miserably.
“I can. There is only one thing you can do, if you were willing?”
“Go to live below? I’ve thought of that. Turn my back on the world, never able to return again. Once that would have been oh so appealing, but to force the issue now with Vincent and Father so hostile against me, I don’t even want to contemplate it.”
“Then you’ll go to jail, are you prepared for that also?”
“How can I be? I sent a lot of people to jail Peter, I’d die in there. There is no two ways about it, I’d be jumped on the moment they took me through the doors. I just don’t know what to do. Even Joe is against me.”
“Surely not! Not Joe?” Peter couldn’t believe his ears. “You are his best investigator.”
“Turned criminal. Peter you saw the lead up to the opening of the zoo’s new exhibit, the whole world held it’s breath. And Vincent would have been everything they had expected and more, truly magnificent, a possible link between early man and modern man. The world would have gone wild over his discovery. Imagine what that would have done to Vincent, they had him naked in there Peter, did you know that? Assumed he was an animal. Caged and fed raw meat. He couldn’t even tell them he was more human than beast for fear of opening up too many questions, and the fact of course of the people he had previously slain, usually in saving my life.”
“And this time you saved his, and you are in trouble. You have nowhere to run and hide. Cathy it’s so unfair. You must come down and tell this to Vincent, you must.”
“It would solve nothing. I’m not going to live below Peter, and that’s final. Not under these circumstances. To have Vincent allow this now, when he has been so adamant in the past, you can understand how that would make me feel?”
“Yes and that’s an understatement. And what am I supposed to do down there? Make pillow cases? I’d go mad inside a week. If I went down there is would have to be as Vincent’s partner, his wife, I’d need to go knowing there was a life for me down there alongside the man that I love. I can hardly see Father allowing that can you? Even if Vincent were agreeable.”
She was pacing the floor by now, Peter watching her with wry amusement. He assumed she had picked that up from Vincent. It appeared to be the only way either of them could reason out their problems by concentrating while on the move.
“Still two heads are better than one, especially when they are both of similar accord. Please Cathy, come down to the threshold.” As she began to protest Peter hurried on, “You know if you don’t go to Vincent, he will come to you.” And he looked toward the balcony so she had no doubts of what he meant.
Naturally, Catherine could not argue with that. Vincent would come to the balcony, and that would prove dangerous to him. Her apartment was being watched, though she doubted they had rigged cameras on the very balcony itself. They would not expect that, but she could be wrong of course. No risk was worth taking when it came to Vincent. Too many of the wrong kind of people had seen him already.
“You know Vincent can never venture above again too don’t you?” Catherine asked Peter. “They’ll be watching for him. They know he frequents the park. He’s going to be as much a prisoner down there as I would be.”
“All the better that you do it together then.” Peter remarked softly.
“You’re not going to give up on this are you?” Despite herself Catherine gave a wry smile.
“I can’t see any other way Cathy. And its not as if you don’t love each other.”
“Well half of that’s true. I do love Vincent.”
“And Vincent loves you. He told me earlier, and it was his insistence that we came by way of your apartment building.”
Catherine chuckled, “Yes, how did you explain that one to the guard?”
Peter smiled, remembering. “It was tricky. Having just called earlier, I wasn’t expected to return so soon, and certainly not via the basement. Vincent thought of lowering me through the trapdoor into the elevator car, but…” Peter grimaced, “I’ve put on a few more pounds than expected. I couldn’t get through it.” He whispered the last making Catherine burst into laughter as she pictured this.
“It’s not funny Cathy, I thought I was doing pretty well. Trousers I’ve had for years still fit.”
“That’s generally the pattern Peter. Oh come on you know. Men put on weight around their gut, but often their hips and waist stay the same.”
“That’s with a beer belly. And you know I prefer shorts.”
“Well shorts can do it too. You know that, there are more calories in shorts than there are in beer. You should stick to wine.”
“Even that can add the pounds, anyway we are going off the subject. Vincent couldn’t lower me down, so he returned to the threshold, and I got into the car via the doors, and intended to come straight up.”
Catherine’s lips twitched as she awaited the outcome.
“Okay, okay quit looking at me like that.” He told her thinking at least it was good to see her eyes dancing again as she anticipated the rest of the story with some delight.
“Someone pressed the button from the first floor and the car stopped and the doors opened. The guard nearly did a double take when he saw me inside, told me he thought I had left hours ago. I had to bluff my way out of it. Told him he must have been mistaken, but he asked me to step out while he checked the ledger. Sure enough, I’d signed out three hours ago. I had to spin him a yard that I’d forgotten my stethoscope and had gone back for it and didn’t think to sign myself in again. He told me he hadn’t seen me return. I told him I’d entered with a group of people, and he told me there hadn’t been any groups come in. My mind was in overdrive Cathy, I can tell you. Was I getting hot beneath the collar or what?” Catherine giggled.
“Anyway, I then said in my best professional voice, that the facts spoke for themselves. Was I likely to have spent the last three hours riding the elevator, or as I had no other appointments for the day had I been with you? I explained we are friends as well as doctor/patient. Well that got him. He had no answer for that, so shrugged and said he must have missed my return, and said I could go. The thing was I didn’t want to go. I had to go out of the double doors, stop pretend I had thought of something and return again, telling him I’d left my stethoscope again! Fortunately, he found that very funny, and let me come back up. Phew, what I do for you!”
Catherine laughed. “Well after you took all those risks, I suppose I am left with no choice, I shall have to go down and see Vincent. Thing is Peter, how can I be sure that the car will go straight down to the basement from here and not open at ground floor. What possible reason could I give for needing to go into the basement, and if I was checked on and found missing how would that look?”
“I know its tricky, but we won’t know anything unless we try. Surely sod’s law can’t be against us twice in a row? Besides you aren’t a prisoner here, you can go out. Why don’t you take a box with you. You could have it in mind to say you were collecting something stored in the basement if you had to do, oh come on Cathy, you’ve got a good brain you’ll think of something on the spur of the moment, if I can do it, I know you can!”
“Alright, alright, I’ll just get my keys. Though how you will explain why you have come up from the basement again beats me.”
“That’s easy I won’t go down with you.”
“No I have a better idea. I’ll take the stairs, I could do with the exercise, I’ve been cooped up in here for days. You use the elevator and distract the guard, I’ll take the stairs. Hopefully we will get round the problem that way.”
“Just be sure to come home via the basement then and not through the double doors. I think that poor guard will assume he’s had too many late nights if he sees you waltz in through them later as well!”
They both laughed out loud. And Catherine, despite the shadow that hung over her right now, found that she had not felt so light-hearted in days and told Peter so.
“Well I am a good doctor.” He chuckled, and then felt extremely happy when Catherine put her arms round him hugged him tightly and bestowed a kiss to his cheek, “You’re more than that Peter, you are like a father to me. Thank you.”
“You are like a daughter to me too, always have been. So make the right decisions Cathy,” he drew in a deep breath, “You are precious to me and I don’t want to see you go to jail for this.” He shook his head, “There has to be another way, something we have overlooked. I’ll keep dwelling on it. What if you introduced Vincent to Joe?”
“I’ve been considering that. It won’t alter anything, but it might help restore Joe’s faith in me. I’ll let you know before I do anything, besides I might need you as a mediator. Joe isn’t exactly dotty over coming to visit me right now and neither will he answer my calls. I’ve hurt him Peter, disillusioned him. I think you may have to go see him for me, plead my case and arrange a visit to my apartment with him. It’s best that Vincent meet him here, even though that means Vincent risking coming above. The risk of Joe going below could prove to be even greater.”
“Yes I understand. Well…” Peter drew in a deep breath and let it go asking, “If you are ready, I think its time you started work on your future. And Cathy, try to make it count. I know its not going to be easy, but with love anything is possible. And Vincent does love you. Father too if he would only let go of that stubborn streak and face it.”
“In his position I can understand the way he feels. Vincent is his son, and as far as Father can see I’ve brought his son nothing but pain, sorrow and heartache. You’re right Peter its not going to be easy, but I will make it count. Come on then let’s go. I’ll take that box with me, my last pair of new shoes was in it, I was going to save it for bits and pieces.”
Before leaving the apartment Peter had one last piece of advice to impart, “Take care Cathy, and remember I’ll give you a head start and if need be meet you down there. I’ll head straight for the ground floor. Try to walk quietly down the steps and remember that stairwell echoes, I’ll try to make as much noise as I can so he doesn’t hear anything coming from the stairs. And remember those fire doors squeak!”
Catherine laughed and hugged him and replied, “I’ll be careful. Now is there still a guard outside of here?”
“Yes, oh he won’t insist on accompanying you will he?” Peter’s face grew fearful.
Catherine shot him a mischievous look, “Not if you keep him talking.” She grinned while picking up her keys and after donning her jacket, she tucked the box beneath one arm, “Come on then let’s get the dirty deed done then.” She quipped making him laugh, and then together they walked from the apartment into the corridor outside and seeing no guard on duty (must have gone to the bathroom - what luck!) they went their separate ways, he to the elevator and she to the stairwell, both with hearts hammering and hoping that all would go according to plan.
*** *** ***
Waiting below, Vincent, aware of the time that had lapsed since Peter had gone back to Catherine’s apartment found his mind in overdrive.
It was becoming increasingly obvious that Catherine wasn’t coming, but he would wait until Peter returned at least. That’s if Peter did return. It was probable that Peter had no excuses left for needing to go straight down to basement level. Vincent had heard the conversation between Peter and the guard earlier, and he thought that any more excuses would only increase suspicion and make future visits from Peter all the harder to accomplish. Then Vincent became angered that Catherine was being watched like this, and all because of him.
Neither could he get his head around the fact that he and Catherine had made love. Not just once but four times all told, three of those times being at the zoo. Vincent could not forgive himself for those times. True he had not been himself and true he had been goaded by the three men but he could not escape the fact that blaming it on his alter ego was wrong. It had been his body, his lustful desire that had taken Catherine over and over and over again, yet he was aware that Catherine had done nothing to stop him. Surely if she had been against it, she would have done something to stop him, have said something, but she didn’t, well nothing that told him she didn’t want it to happen. She hadn’t struggled against him, hadn’t fought him off of her. Had just allowed him to…to…Vincent’s mind abhorred the words make love…he had raped her, there was no two ways about it, he had raped her and before an audience too! How that disgusted him! He would NEVER forgive himself so how could he expect that Catherine would?
Even so, his dreams and his nightmares had been haunted by how it had felt to sink his hard fevered body into Catherine’s slick and welcome heat. Never could he ever forget that! He shuddered just at the memory - he felt the rising desire just at the thought.
And then his mind reminded him of Catherine’s response to his body moving within her and how she had hugged him closer, placed her legs around his hips, urged him on. Eyes closed tightly, Vincent groaned recognising the return of heat spreading even now through his loins, knowing how much he needed her again like that yet knowing that it would be an impossibility. It was unlikely that Catherine would let him near her ever again. And he couldn’t blame it on his alter ego. That dark side of himself that he had always insisted was a separate entity was no more than the side of him that had different ideals. He was one being not two, and he had to start taking the blame for his own actions, no matter how much that grieved him.
As he was thinking these things, he began to turn back toward his world beneath the city streets, inclined to believe that Catherine wanted nothing more to do with him, and could he blame her? He had treated her abhorrently, when as he began to walk away he heard the familiar sound of boxes being shoved to one side and the opening of the threshold doors. He turned not quite knowing who to expect, his heart hammering as he peered into the blue white light, almost fainting with relief and trepidation as he heard Catherine whisper, “Vincent, are you still there?”
He thought he would not find his voice, but he managed to utter, “I’m here.” Amazed that he could even speak, and stepping forward, he helped her down from the ladder with the same familiar ease that he was used to. That done he found Catherine still in his arms as he brought her feet to rest on the floor. Though her back was toward him he could feel the trembling within her, the excited heat thrilling her of being back in his arms and he could only marvel at it.
She turned still within his embrace, and surprised him by standing on tiptoe and brushing her lips across his as she spoke breathily, “Oh Vincent, I’ve missed you so,” and then tucked her head into his neck, kissing him there. Vincent froze, his heart seeming to stop as disbelief warred with hope. She appeared to have forgiven him, but how could she do that when he could not forgive himself? He blurted the first thing that came to mind, “Catherine, I raped you!”
“No Vincent!” Catherine took a step backward but firmly held his arms in place around her to gaze up into his eyes, “Is that what you truly believe?”
He nodded, unable to speak. He was drowning in the green depths of her eyes. Eyes that had haunted him these past few weeks, eyes that had mocked him, taunted him and now eyes that were appealing to him to believe what she believed.
“I am so ashamed of what I did to you.” He told her sincerely, “How is it that you can you not feel the same way?”
“I love you Vincent. And besides you were stressed, you needed comfort, its immaterial that those men instigated the event. I’m angry that they watched, but nothing can take from me the way that you made me feel. I wanted you so and I blotted them out most of the time, it was only after that I felt incensed, but that was because of them cheering and applauding, it was not directed at you in any way. Vincent you must believe me. I love you so much and what you did I loved also.”
Vincent buried his face in her neck inhaling her scent long missed. “Catherine, it must never happen again.”
“Why not? I can’t become pregnant if that’s what’s bothering you.”
“I know Peter explained. But that was only part of the problem.” He couldn’t explain what the rest was, but Catherine thought she knew.
“I want to be with you, Vincent. You can’t deny that we should be together or that our lives and hearts are entwined, and you have crossed the boundary you were most afraid of, and even under those conditions you still never hurt me.”
“I raped you!”
“NO! Rape is considered such when the other party shouts no! Did you hear me say that Vincent? Well did you?”
Vincent shook his head.
“That’s because I wanted it to happen as much as you did, I needed you Vincent, I needed that from you. That other time in the cave…you do remember that don’t you?” Vincent nodded his eyes drawn to hers unable to look away. “Well after that time I found my dreams full of it. My daydreams and my night dreams, I wanted you so much Vincent, I thought I would go mad with the wanting but I thought you hadn’t remembered a thing. It was so frustrating!”
Vincent smiled, “I had remembered. How could I forget something like that? You saved my life and gave me life and I thought you had forgotten. I thought you had wanted to forget. You gave no indication of remembering the event and I didn’t know how to or if I should remind you of it.”
“Oh Vincent!” Catherine hugged him close inhaling his scent deep within her. “I want you so much. I want you now, please Vincent take me somewhere and make love to me again.”
“I’ve never made love to you Catherine. Each time was a desperate release. I took you to satisfy my own selfish needs, I never once considered you. I’m not sure I would know how.”
Impishly Catherine grinned, “I could teach you. Its easy, you’ll soon get the hang of it.”
Drawing a deep breath Vincent steadied his racing heart and tried to ignore the sirens call from below. He was growing hard for her and he wanted her desperately. “Catherine you have to be sure. I had made up my mind that this could never happen between us again and that you would not wish it to happen again. I don’t think I can make this a one off. If you teach me to love you, if you teach me to make love with you, I won’t be able to let it stop there. I would go crazy with the want of you. It frightens me to embark upon this and then have to stop. I don’t think I could bear that.” He entreated sincerely with a desperate shake of his head.
Reaching up to touch his cheek, Catherine stared into the deep blue of his eyes, “What do I have to say or do to make you believe that I love you? Love doesn’t just stop abruptly like that, not in full flow. Loving you comes with condition that you return that love in full measure, and that means making love to me Vincent. Not just once but for the rest of our lives. How can I live without you? There is so much to show you, to teach you and it can’t be accomplished in a few hours Vincent, it will take forever.”
“Forever…we spoke of forever once. I thought the possibility lost to me. Catherine, are you sure?”
Catherine detected the hope in his question, and she knew she would not let him down, “I’m sure my love. But Vincent, there are reasons that I must come to live below, will you promise me that the necessity of them, does not leave you feeling guilty, or make you consider that you have forced this on me? You know that there is no other way left open to me. I have to live here or go to jail?”
“Both of which are prison, Catherine. You know neither of us could ever go above again?”
“Would we want to do? Living separate lives meant it was a necessity. Now staying below is a necessity. I know one thing Vincent, if I don’t live here with you then we will be forced apart one way or another. Whether or not I do go to jail they will still be on the lookout for you. You are trapped here Vincent, forever more. So wouldn’t you rather be trapped here with me?”
He nodded, “I love you Catherine. And I’m so sorry for the things I said when you were last here, can you ever forgive me?”
“I’ve long forgiven you Vincent. You were under so much stress, and the events between us frightened you.”
“No not frightened, Catherine. They shamed me. I felt you could not bear to look upon me after what I had done to you.”
“Have you no special memories of those occasions Vincent?”
Drawing himself to his full height, he took Catherine with him as he continued to hold her, “I tried not to think about it, but found my vision filled with the memories. Night and day, I saw the events roll by over and over again. I could only feel shame and remorse for what I had done to you, but also shamefully my body ached to join with yours again. I’ve not been very amicable to live with I can tell you, Father has described me as a bear with a sore head!” Vincent chuckled then sobered as he thought of their other problem, “And that reminds me!”
“Yes, I was wondering when we would stumble upon that particular problem, what are we to do about Father?” Catherine sounded genuinely worried.
“Father is concerned for me, as only a father can be for his son. Once he sees that you make me happy, that you are down here for good and that I won’t be risking my neck to save you above anymore he will come around. However before I can explain that, I understand that the initial outburst from him could bring the very tunnels down, but have no fear dear Catherine, I will not let you stand his wrath alone.”
“But we don’t have to go straight to the main hub do we? I mean isn’t there someplace cosy and private we could go before then?” Catherine lifted her eyebrows suggestively.
His heart racing, Vincent drew her tightly against him and even through the thick material of his jeans, Catherine distinctly felt the object of his desire. She shuddered with longing holding him tighter and tighter against her, grounding her pelvis to his, making him accept in no uncertain terms that she wanted him, and she wanted him now!
“Yes, I know a place. Come I’ll carry you.” And before she could protest, he had swung her up into his arms. He grinned wryly at her, “You think I could actually make it there with you plastering yourself against me like that?” He delighted in the chuckle that erupted from Catherine and drowned in the green of her eyes. Eyes filled with desire for him, with need and longing and excited anticipation. It was hard to believe it, but Catherine was here in his arms, and they were making their way to somewhere private and cosy where they would not be disturbed. And that he was going to make love to her in ways he had only ever dreamed about, before the days when his actions had robbed him of such beautiful dreams and wiped the possibility of them happening from his mind forever.
Well now it was more than just a mere possibility, he and Catherine would soon be one in every sense of the word, and bending his head he brushed a kiss against her silken lips and groaning he picked up the pace toward the place he had firmly in mind to make her his forever.*** *** ***
Something neither Catherine nor Peter had envisaged during their planning to get Catherine below, was the chance of someone else coming to visit her that day and who should Peter bump into as he the left Catherine’s apartment building? None other than Joe himself.
At first Peter didn’t recognise him and Joe had gone by before Peter realised. When he did he hurried back, and the guard almost did a double take. The doctor returning yet again, what had he forgotten this time?
“Joe? It is Joe isn’t it?” Peter called as Joe signed in.
Joe turned, he thought he recognised the fellow and replied, “Who’s asking?”
“I am.” Peter felt foolish.
Joe did too, “I mean who are you?”
“My name is Peter Alcott, Dr Alcott, Catherine’s general practitioner.”
“Oh right. Pleased to meet you at last, Catherine has told me a lot about you. Been to see her have you? So what do you think of this sorry state of affairs?”
Peter eyed the guard suspiciously, he was aware the fellow was trained to eavesdrop and write down anything that revolved around Catherine Chandler.
“Is there anywhere we can go to talk privately?”
At that the guard stepped forth, “I’m sorry Sir, but that wouldn’t be permissible. Anything regarding Miss Chandler has to be said around me.”
“Oh no it does not!” Peter told him. “As her GP anything regarding my patient is confidential.”
“I beg to differ Sir, but since you are about to impart information to Mr Maxwell here, then I have as much right to listen.”
Peter looked at Joe appealingly he hoped Joe would help him out of this one. He didn’t. “I agree. Anything you have to say regarding Cathy shouldn’t be in secret. If you can tell me, you can tell Corporal Sanders here.”
“No I flatly refuse.” Peter told the two men turning to leave, he had hoped to take Joe to one side and glean from him just how friendly he was toward Catherine still. Peter detected hostility, still he could not let Joe go up to the apartment and find her gone. That would constitute breaking her bail and she would be arrested on her return.
“Oh, you might want to know that Catherine has gone to visit one of the other tenants in this building so you’ll not find her in right now.” He made to exit, when Corporal Sanders called him back, “What do you mean visiting another tenant, I know nothing of this.”
“Why should you? Catherine doesn’t have to let you know every move she makes.”
“No but Corporal Fletcher does. He’s supposed to let me know if she leaves her apartment.”
“Corporal Fletcher?” Peter didn’t like the sound of this. He wondered how long Cathy would be with Vincent and was she likely to have returned to her apartment by then.
“He’s outside her apartment, surely you noticed him?” Sanders asked sarcastically.
“When we left the apartment together, there was no one outside. I came down in the elevator, and Catherine went via the stairs, I assume her friend only lives a few floors down.”
“And you didn’t ask I suppose?” Joe sneered, “Christ doctor, she could have gone anywhere. She might even have that beast holed up in here someplace.” He directed his next question to the guard, “Have all the apartments been checked?”
Sanders shook his head, “ I don’t know Mr Maxwell, I wouldn’t have thought so. Besides lets face it you don’t keep an animal like that penned up in an apartment building and have no one know of it do you?” He laughed as if the thought had been highly amusing.
“I don’t know what you are worrying about. After all is there any other way out of this building except through these doors?” Peter asked.
“Yes there’s the fire escape, but we have that guarded too.”
“Then where’s your problem? My patient needed a break, is visiting a friend, she’s still here for heavens sake, surely you can’t deny her a little pleasure. She’ll lose any rights to them soon enough!”
Joe nodded, “You’re right.” He drew in a deep breath and exhaled it in a rush, “Well as she’s out visiting I might just return later. I have places to go, people to see you know how it is doc?”
Peter said he did, and to prevent the guard becoming suspicious, as he and Joe left the building, Peter deliberately went in a different direction. However, he back tracked on the other side of the street, keeping Joe in his sights and followed him, intent on having that one to one chat.
*** *** ***
Joe, used to being tracked and having that uncanny sixth sense was two blocks away when he turned to face his pursuer. He should not have been surprised to find it was Peter, but he was.
"Are you following me, or just happening to be going my way?" He asked as Peter drew level with him.
"Following. I have to speak with you."
Exasperated, Joe sighed, "Fire away then." He checked his watch, and noticing Peter commented, "This is far more important than any other appointment you have to keep. This concerns Catherine."
"Thought as much. But I am busy, you'll have to be quick."
"When did you get to be so callous? Catherine always maintained that you were a good man."
"Probably when my best investigator turned crim. Something like that tends to kick you in the gut." Joe retorted bitterly.
"Catherine is no criminal. She stole nothing that didn't already belong to her."
"Pardon me? What do you mean?"
"I mean that the person she rescued from that hell hole was being kept there against his wishes and Catherine found out where he was and rescued him. They have known one another for several years."
"Are you kidding me? Have you seen him? I've seen a video of him, and I can tell you Cathy would never..."
"Yes. I've known him since he was a day old." Joe froze at that, his mouth dropping open with surprise. "Since he was a day old?" He repeated at length. "Then where does he reside? In the city?"
"Yes. And Catherine knows where. If it wasn't for him Catherine would be dead now. He's saved her life countless times, and he keeps the scum that prey on innocent people off of the streets. You should be thankful to him, he makes your job a darn sight easier."
"But he's an animal, a wild beast."
"No he isn't. He's a man with a deformity and an ability to use it to the best advantage. But someone captured him stuck him in a cage, took away his dignity and was about to put him on show for the world to see, and naked too I might add. Imagine if that were you Mr Maxwell, imagine if that had happened to you."
Joe was imagining. He didn't like the pictures that were coming through, still he didn't like the pictures he held in his head from the footage he had seen of the creature either. And this fellow called him a man! What was more Peter expected him to believe that Catherine was the beast's friend! Impossible!"
"I'd like you to meet him." Peter was saying much to Joe's surprise.
"Meet him! Have you taken leave of your senses? You forget I've seen what he did to those men. He tore them from limb to limb. God he even raped Catherine! Thats what I can't get my head around. He raped her and still she was filmed leading him out of there wearing bin liners no less. Okay what those chaps did to her was terrible and had they of lived they would have been tried for it, but he never gave us that chance. He just murdered them each and every one. Well save one that was looking down from the spectators stand above."
"Do you seriously think that the footage would have been availavble had they of lived? Surely they would have wiped it."
Joe hadn't thought of that. He hadn't needed to think along those lines. He had thought it a cut and dried case.
"Ok you have my full attention Dr Alcott. You want me to meet him you say. Well I don't know about that, but I sure as hell want to save Cathy's hide and if I can help with that in any way..."
Relieved Peter shook Joe's hand, "Thank you, Joe, you don't know what that means to me. You know Cathy, she wouldn't do anything underhand, and she really is distressed that you believed that she would."
"Okay, okay I was a heel, but I thought I was justified, just tell me what you want me to do."
"I have to speak to Catherine first. I'll call you okay? As soon as possible?"
Joe nodded, "Just make it quick, the trial is next week, it might last weeks, or a just a day. the cards are stacked very deeply against her you know?"
Peter grimaced, "I know. Don't worry Joe, I will get back to you sooner than you think. I'll go back to see Cathy now." Joe nodded and went on his way as Peter turned back for Catherine's apartment building. Joe couldn't believe all he had just heard. But it would make a lot of sense and he'd never quite believed Catherine could turn criminal anyway, still knowing that she wasn't made him feel happier than he had in weeks. However, he still wasn't certain he'd like to meet her friend face to face.
*** *** ***
“Mmmmm” Vincent stretched languidly, he had never felt so good in his life, so relaxed, or so utterly, utterly spent.
“I’ll second that.” Catherine murmured beside him, unable to move, although a huge grin appeared on her face, “Boy how did I get so lucky?”
“Lucky?” Shifting onto one elbow, Vincent regarded her with amusement.
“You! Vincent, you are amazing you know that! And a very quick learner I might add.” She chuckled as she remembered everything they had done over the last few hours.
“Well you’re a good teacher, although I have to say that there were things you showed me that I never knew existed.” He told her incredulously.
“Some of those things I’ve only ever read about. Never tried before on anyone.”
“Really? But you seemed so sure of yourself. I would never have guessed.”
“Well believe me Vincent, I’ve never wanted to do some of them before, you should feel privileged.” She added with a chuckle.
“Oh I do, I do.” His arm drew her close to him and he whispered in her ear, “I also feel like exploring those privileges again.”
Out loud Catherine laughed, “Oh Vincent, what have I unleashed?”
For a moment Vincent regarded her with some amusement, before his features became serious “ I love you Catherine and what you have given to me, here this afternoon I have loved also. But Catherine, I cannot believe that you would share those things with me and I feel humbled that you have and…” he searched for the words that he wanted before shaking his head and saying, “Is it normal to want to share those things with you again so soon?”
Catherine laughed, “Oh yes my love, believe me it is. I have been celibate for so long, I can’t seem to get enough of you either, but it is growing chilly here Vincent, is there someplace warmer?”
Catherine sat bolt upright, staring him in the eyes, “Your chamber! Vincent we can’t take this up there! Can we?”
“I don’t see why not. Catherine you are mine now and the sooner people see and accept that the better. Oh, I know facing Father bothers you, but Catherine he has bothered me all my life and I’m still here to tell the tale. Everything will work out right you’ll see. Father loves you really, he just can’t see the wood for the trees right now.”
“I don’t know Vincent. Besides, I ought to be getting back to the apartment. If I’m found missing they will consider I’ve jumped bail and I would be arrested for that.”
“All the more reason for you to stay here with me. They might have noticed you missing by now. You may walk straight into the situation and be taken into custody. I can’t let you go back Catherine, I can’t.”
“That’s one of the reasons I came down here today. We have to talk about this Vincent. The problem’s not going to go away, and I cannot see a way out of it for us. One way or another I face a jail sentence and you can never go above again for fear of recapture. We can’t live our lives like that.”
“Why not? With you here with me, neither of us would need to go above. Catherine think of it, we can have our dream, you can stay here with me forever now.”
“My being here, our dream was not dependant on our making love Vincent. That was never the issue. Our dream was dependant on my turning my back on the world above and you accepting that for what it was. Now its been forced upon us, and I’m so afraid it will come between us eventually.”
Vincent was thoughtful. Catherine had a point about that, but for him making love had also been an issue. His belief that passion and desire for love or to kill were one and the same, that he could hurt her that the dark side of himself would not know the difference when put to the test had haunted him for years. With that danger gone he felt that anything else was the least of his worries. Anything else he could cope with, but maybe Catherine…maybe she had her own doubts? Maybe having the issue to live below forced upon her had come before she was ready. Vincent knew he had to face the possibility that Catherine was not truly ready to carry out that part of their dream. And when he thought about it, could he blame her? The situation had been thrust upon her without warning. She was leaving behind friends and colleagues and a bad name for herself - how could he ever allow that? Yes, as much as he disputed it, Catherine was probably right - to start life below under those conditions might in all fairness force them apart eventually. He had to let her go as much as the thought grieved him. She had to come to him on her own terms and not look back. Only then would they both be sure that they could make it last forever.
“I understand.” Vincent spoke at length. “I’m sorry I should not have presumed that you would live here with me just because we have loved.”
“Vincent! Have you not heard a word I have said?” Catherine exasperated at him sometimes. Why did he always turn their problems inward? Why did he always have to assume they lay with him?
“I heard everything you said. You are not yet ready to leave the world above and live here with me, despite…despite what we have just shared.”
“I didn’t say that!”
“You didn’t need to. Your heart and your eyes speak what your lips do not. I have read between the lines Catherine, you forget I know you. Even without the Bond I know you better than you know yourself sometimes.”
“You might think that you do, but you are wrong on this one. I have always been ready to live here with you. It was you that thought I ought to follow through on life above first, achieve all I could achieve before I gave it all up to be with you, here forever. And I think deep down inside, despite all we have shared to the contrary, a part of you still believes that.”
Vincent was shaking his head, “I love you Catherine, it should be enough to hear me say that. It was not something I ever dared utter before lest doing so compelled you to think I was tying you to me, expecting more of you than you were prepared to give.”
“I want to give you everything. You deserve everything.” Catherine stared into his eyes willing him to believe her, but he looked away not prepared to see the honesty in her eyes. Believing that it was only momentary and she wasn’t seeing the whole picture for what it was.
“We are both too close to the situation right now. We will discuss it when both of us are calmer. Too much has happened between us this day and we aren’t thinking rationally.”
Catherine knew that wasn’t strictly true, but she also knew not to push Vincent when he’d got a bee in his bonnet about something. He could be so stubborn at times, and completely miss the point.
“Can we still go to your chamber?”
Vincent shook his head, “Best not. It’s a long walk from here and you have already been away from home longer than intended I’m sure. Perhaps its best that you go back now.”
Catherine felt as though the sunshine had just gone out of her world and they were back to square one, but he was right in effect, she should be getting back. In fact she would have to think up some pretty decent excuse for her absence had it been noticed by now. “I’d like to stay.” She told him sincerely and he nodded, “I’d like you to stay, but we both know there are things we must confront first. Can you come below tomorrow? I’ll meet you at the threshold.”
“I’ll try. But Vincent, promise me, if for any reason I don’t come, please don’t come to me. They’ll capture you again and that’s one of the things I wanted to tell you. If you remain as they think, an animal, well they consider you dangerous and have people disputing the right to your life. And if you maintain that you are human you will be tried for murder, not just for the zoo personnel but for all the people you have slain over the years. You’ll go to the chair Vincent, there’s no two ways about it. Either way you lose, you lose the right to live.”
Her last words caught on a sob. Vincent had been a prisoner before, but at least he could walk out at night, now even that had been denied him. No more, would they sit cuddled on her balcony reading way into the night and it was hard to accept that that was in the past. Vincent felt her sorrow but he had not the words to comfort her. Her words had frightened him, made him aware of what he faced if he risked going above to her and suddenly the situation they found themselves in became awfully real to him. And if she should not come to him, what then? Must he assume that it was over? Might he ever know what she had decided, he had to ask.
“No matter what, whatever you decide Catherine, promise me one thing, that you won’t keep me waiting in expectation. That you’ll tell me, whatever it is so I am not left wondering.”
Already he was thinking the worst. Catherine did not know what to say to have him know what he meant to her, that she loved him and nothing would stop her returning to him, nothing!
“Vincent what do I have to say to make you believe that you and I are forever, my love. You think I am saying that I’m not ready to live here with you. I’m not saying that. I’m saying that are we ready for the issue to be forced upon us. Can we accept it? More importantly can you? Please see it for what it is. I have to know that you accept that my being here, even though fate has forced an issue for it to be so, brings me the greatest happiness. I love you, so much Vincent and I want to be where you are.” Catherine felt like she was running in circles chasing him, unable to keep up. He was way ahead of her every time, seeing things that did not exist, putting words into her mouth that she had not uttered.
He did not reply. Catherine could see he was not able to find an answer to her question. She had an idea.
“Vincent, above when two people have loved as we have loved, it is usually customary for one to ask for the other’s hand in marriage.” He looked up then and she had his undivided attention as she went on. “Ask me to marry you, Vincent. See that what we have together is forever. See and believe, my love.”
He looked at her as if she had just asked him to bring the moon down out of the sky. To say he was incredulous at such a suggestion was putting it mildly.
“Catherine you do not know what you ask for.” He shook his head, “We can’t be married! It would be unlawful.”
“We are two people in love, two consenting adults. We have bridged the impossible with our relationship - marriage would be the icing on the cake. Ask me Vincent.” She said hopefully.
Adamantly he refused, and rising to his feet he pulled her up with him, “Come I will see you back to the threshold.” He told her and the pang of regret in his tone brought tears to her eyes.
“Just ask me.”
He said nothing, just took her hand, but she could tell that she had ruffled his otherwise calm exterior, for his hand shook just slightly.
They walked in silent anticipation, each hoping the other would speak first but neither did, and all too soon they were at the threshold. Vincent stopped short of the area before the blue white light expecting Catherine to make her way up the ladder when she turned to face him with the words “I wouldn’t refuse you, you know.” Catherine whispered tenderly. “If you asked.”
“Then why don’t you ask?”
“For that very reason. Because you would not refuse me.” With that, he turned and was gone before she had time to speak again.
Catherine stared at the empty spot for some time undecided as to whether to go after him or not. In the end she decided against it, Vincent needed the time to meditate on her proposition and nothing she could say would speed his proposal along. But he would propose of that she was certain.
Catherine hugged herself. She imagined Vincent her husband, Vincent her partner for life…but for now she was more than happy in dwelling upon some other glorious daydreams - Vincent her lover – knowing that at least with that one she didn’t have to imagine anymore.
Two weeks went by. In that time Catherine did not see Vincent and he could not come to her. Life was difficult, with the cards stacked against her and the date of her trial looming ever closer Catherine felt like a leper as all her usual acquaintances kept a wide berth.
Peter had told her he had spoken with Joe, and that he promised to have a meeting with him, but somehow that meeting never seemed to materialise. Either Joe was busy or Peter was busy, and somehow whenever Peter called at the office whether in person or by telephone, Joe was mysteriously unavailable.
Journalists were the worst. Perhaps Catherine could have been able to pretend all was well apart from the guard at her door, and the one that followed discreetly behind everywhere that she went, but the reporters hounded her relentlessly until Catherine became a prisoner in her own home in order to avoid them, having groceries delivered and mail brought up.
She’d read every book in the place, twice, scanned every newspaper, sick to death of the same old same old, her face on the front page alongside the only footage released by the zoo of a wild and ferocious cat man. Very soon the caption beauty and the beast danced before her very eyes and Catherine wondered why it had taken them so long to think of it, but from then on the title screamed at her from every headline and each time she switched on the television set and saw the news.
However, surprisingly enough permeating through the horrific tales of slashed and gutted victims came a few trickles of heroism. It started slow at first, then as the papers started to print the letters of those who owed their lives to the cat man and more and more questions were asked, the paper was soon swamped with them, and Catherine found them very enlightening, as did, wonders of wonders, Joe himself.
In fact, Catherine shouldn’t have been surprised but undoubtedly was when two days before her trial Joe knocked at her apartment door, announcing his arrival before Catherine could open the door.
“Cathy, its me Joe. Can I come in?” He sounded unsure and Catherine hesitated. Half of her feared what he might say the other half just longed to see him again. The latter won. Opening the door, she bid him enter with the best smile she could manage, and Joe’s first impression was that she had lost weight and looked exhausted.
He tried to smile but found it impossible, instead he asked of her well being and received a noncommittal answer for his effort. They were very much at odds with one another and each watched the other warily wondering who would be first to speak.
Finally Catherine extended her hand showing Joe to a seat and he took it gratefully, managing a smile that had seemed lost to him earlier and then speech followed, “So tell me kiddo what is he to you?”
Whatever he expected it wasn’t, “I love him Joe.” He was stunned, his jaw dropping open and forcing a smile from Catherine when it looked like it might never close again.
“Love him?” he uttered at last disbelief apparent. “Cathy have you seen the papers?”
“I don’t need to see them, but yes as it happens I’ve read them all.”
“And what? It’s all true. Every last bit of it. The killings and the heroism. He does what he has to do, but let me tell you Joe, all of it, all of it, is in self- defence or in protection of an innocent one. He doesn’t kill for the fun of it. In fact he hates having to do so.
Joe was silent digesting her words, then surprised her by asking, “I’d like to meet him.”
It was Catherine’s turn to stand speechless, mouth wide open in surprise.
“I mean it Cathy. If you can love a guy like that, if all these people whom he has saved from a fate worse than death can crop up and tell their stories then maybe, just maybe we can get the city to accept him, and it would make your position a whole lot easier. I mean you wouldn’t need to go to trial for catnapping, or should I say kidnapping, for in actuality it was the zoo personnel who had kidnapped a human being and held him against his will that’s if he is a human being?”
Catherine heard the question in his tone and she shook her head surprising him, “Then what is he?” he heard himself whisper almost afraid to know.
“Don’t get me wrong Joe. Vincent is…”She paused realising she had given his name to Joe but he seemed not to notice just waited for her to continue. She went on, “Vincent doesn’t know his origin. He was abandoned at birth, but he knows he isn’t completely human. However, having said that I believe he is the best of what a human should be. That he looks different, that he has a built in defence system that is used when taunted is no different than any one of us using a weapon when confronted by evil or harm. But what I see in Vincent is the better side of humanity, Vincent has a conscience and it grieves him to an extent that it makes him ill to know he has had to defend either himself, or me or other innocent people because had he not they would surely have died at the hands of another.”
Joe nodded, “And what? Does he go looking for trouble? That is does he go out and about searching for innocent people faced with danger? Does he make that his forte?”
“No, Vincent rarely walks the city. In fact…” Catherine pulled at her lower lip with the tip of her teeth as she analysed her next words. She knew that she may have to lie even to Joe and hoped that he would not see through it.
“Yes, in fact what?” Joe was waiting.
Steadying her voice to sound as normal as possible for Catherine hated lying, she told him, “In fact, Vincent doesn’t actually reside in the city.”
“You don’t expect me to believe that!” Joe snapped, and Catherine blushed hotly knowing she must convince him this was so if Vincent was to remain safe and if the tunnels were to remain a secret.
“It’s true! I don’t actually know where Vincent resides, but I do know that someone drives him into the city from time to time and he visits me when he can and a few others who have been good to him.”
Joe relented, he had no reason not to believe her she had never lied to him before, but he had just assumed… well it didn’t matter and the truth made a lot of sense because the killings were few and far between never dependable and always selective.
“Do you know who brings him in?”
Catherine shook her head. “I’ve never asked. It felt like taking liberties. And though I love him, I know that any future for us is impossible. Obviously wherever he lives is in secret and I don’t know if that’s the kind of life for me.”
“Not that you’d contemplate it if it were, Cathy!” Joe was clearly stunned.
“Yes I’d contemplate it, have contemplated it, but I do know our differences Joe, I’m not that blind. However, I am a better person when I am with Vincent. He brings out the best in people, and children adore him.”
Joe sighed, and knew he was beaten, “So can you arrange for me to meet him or not?”
“It would be difficult. I haven’t seen him for a few weeks and I believe that he is unable to come into the city for fear of being re-captured. However, I might be able to get word to him.”
“So you do know where he lives?”
“No. Only that from hand to hand a message can pass until it reaches him. Despite the way some feel about him, Joe there are an awful lot of people who risk their own lives to protect him.”
“As I’ve read. There’s one thing, how do you explain his being there just when you need him. I mean each dangerous assignment you’ve had he has come along and saved you in the nick of time, to what do you attribute such a coincidence?”
“Cell phone.” It was the first thing that came into her head. “And he doesn’t always arrive in the nick of time. What about the time before I started at the office, and had my face slashed?”
“You knew him then?”
“Of course.” Catherine lied hoping her cheeks would not redden further. “Why?”
“I just assumed…I dunno…just thought that might have been when the two of you met…that he might have been the one to save you and nurse you back to health.”
“Where?” Catherine laughed out loud. “You as well as everyone else knows that those ten days are lost to me.” Previously this had been the only lie she had spoken everything else was secrets that she would disclose to no one not even if her life were on the line.
Joe shook his head, “You got me there Radcliffe. But the way I see it is, if someone drives him into the city then that same someone could quite as easily drive out any victim that needed assistance, care for and return them when they were healed. I’d say this pair are quite a team, and its possible that whomsoever watches out for your friend has known him a long time, either that or they have been rescued by him at some stage. Whatever, that’s not for me to worry about. The journalists though will leave no stone unturned but I’m not about to reveal to them anything you have told me here today. My concern is when I can meet him and if you can arrange it and where?”
“I’ll see what I can do. Though Joe what is your objective?”
“I thought that was obvious, Cathy to save your hide initially and to save his eventually. Come what may Cathy, that guy has killed people self defence maybe, for the sake of an innocent maybe, but he has still killed and by the law he must be tried for those crimes. I don’t have to tell you this. And its no use saying it will all blow over. It won’t. Love might make you willing to stand trial, receive a fine go to jail, but over and above all of that, the questions will not go away. And the next time he kills for you or for some other you will be arrested and tried for perverting the course of justice by withholding evidence as to what he is, where he is and why you protect a killer. I don’t want to see that happen to you Cathy, and if I might be permitted to think his mind, then I doubt that he’d want to see it happen to you either.”
Joe had a point, even so the thought of Vincent meeting Joe terrified Catherine, let alone the thought of bringing Vincent to justice to answer for his crimes. But deep down inside Catherine knew the law and knew Joe to be right. She could defend her truelove all she liked but she couldn’t argue with the fact that had it been anyone else they would have to take their punishment like all the rest. It was the law and they couldn’t defy it.
A lump in her throat Catherine nodded, “I’ll see what I can do. Will you be prepared to trust me?”
Joe nodded then he smiled that boyish smile she knew and loved so well. “I suppose wherever you set up the meeting will be somewhere dark and mysterious, probably dangerous under any other circumstances, but for some reason I feel no fear. Probably because who could defeat him? Assuming he wouldn’t come after me, I can feel safe right? He would protect me if a dangerous situation arose?”
“You can count on it Joe. And Vincent has impeccable hearing, he would know long before you and I if there were other people in our vicinity. Don’t worry Joe, with Vincent as your protector, you would be safe.”
Joe nodded. “I don’t have to remind you Cathy. Your trial is in two days. I need to see Vincent as soon as possible, and you have to make him understand he might have to come forward at your trial to act as your witness.”
This was worse. Catherine paled before Joe’s eyes, and he hurried to re-assure her, “It’s a possibility that’s all, the last straw, and he would be there as your witness not on trial himself. That would come later.”
“But you and I both know that he would not be able to leave the courtroom. He’d be arrested the moment he stepped inside.”
“No, he’d be arrested the moment he tried to leave. I know Cathy, it’s a risk but the sooner it happens the better, and it might not be all bad. You never know, miracles do happen, and he’d have two good lawyers for his defence.” Joe winked at her and she thought if that’s supposed to make me feel better then you can forget it. And she replied, “I don’t know Joe. There has to be another way.”
His sympathetic look belied that possibility, but Catherine knew she would not give up looking for another way out.
“Think about it Cathy and get word to him, I’ll be awaiting your call. I’ll see myself out.” It was as well he did for Catherine found her feet frozen to the spot as the dilemma facing her was great and seemingly without end unless Vincent came out of the shadows and revealed himself to the world. Yet Vincent standing trial for murder had only one possibility, he’d go to the chair and Catherine knew that she would rather go to jail for life before she would see that happen.
There had to be another way.
*** *** ***
To be continued in Chapter Six - click on 'Next' below
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