Vincent is dead and Catherine must learn to live and bring up their child without him yet despite these things there will be a happy ending for Catherine.
With lyrics from Michael Bolton’s song ‘Whenever I Remember Loving You.’
And So… It Begins Again
A subtle breeze from an open window brushed across Catherine’s bare arms as she lay flung half in and half out of the covers and in sleep she shivered and reached for a sheet to pull over herself. Her dreams were full and vivid and she lived them as though they were real.
A coppery moon hung low in the sky, wisps of cloud lending it a hat, a moustache a beard. The night was still, eerie, starless as sombre as the sudden turn of events that brought Catherine’s dreams to conclusion. Bathed in sweat she woke, screamed, fought the quilt around her, fumbled for the lamp and sat blinking as light illuminated the room before her.
“Oh God it was a dream.” Her heart thudded. “Just a dream Cathy.” She tried to laugh but the sound was flat, dead and cut short by a memory swift and sure that reminded her that there had been truth in the dream. “Oh no! No, no, no!” She wailed flinging herself against the pillows and sobbing hard. Memories rushed over her whipped and galloped with thudding hooves against her temples. “Oh God, Vincent how am I going to live without you?” Fast and furious her tears followed, gushing torrents that plastered her hair to her cheeks, her forehead and eyes. Absently she brushed strands away so that she might see, look out to where the moon hung lazy and low in the sky, and found herself standing by the balcony door, not even realising she had made the short journey from the bed. Her throat aching, her heart raw Catherine clutched at the doorjamb and willed him to come to her. “Vincent, Vincent.” Her heart cried until fresh words erupted mightily through clenched lips, “No, I can’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it.”
How could something so wonderful have turned so sour? How in one short hour had all of her dreams been realised only to be left with such emptiness such bitterness? Gladly she would have traded those fleeting seconds of pleasure in exchange for a lifetime of platonic love rather than face what she now faced - a lifetime alone with her memories.
“Oh Vincent!” Holding the doorjamb she let her body slip to the floor and there in a crumpled heap she sobbed till she thought her heart would die and knew that would be preferable to what she now faced a future without the man she loved, a hollow senseless future and a life alone.
How long she sat there she did not know. The passage of time was seen only in the parting of that coppery moon to the approach of another luminary bright and warm that licked at her tender skin and reminded her that another new day had begun.
Catherine stirred, eyes closed face to the sun, allowing its warmth to brush over her skin and revitalise a tired mind.
He had never seen the sun, would never see it now. Fresh tears forced their way beneath golden lashes as further thoughts of her truelove chased their way through her mind.
The telephone rang. A shrill sound that forced her hands to clap over her ears in a bid to shut out the sound. Whoever it was could ring back later. Wrapped in sorrow Catherine had nothing to impart that would make any sense to anyone that owned a similar receptacle. For none of her friends knew of Vincent and would never know him now. “Oh God, oh God. You have to stop thinking such things, Cathy.” She told herself loudly over the shrill sound blasting around her. Her hands held fast to her ears and she was left in disbelief when the ringing stopped and she took them slowly away, hesitantly as if she believed that at any moment the telephone would begin ringing again. Only when she was satisfied that the caller would no longer bother her did she replace her hands to her lap. There she stared down at them. Hands so ordinary, no different from the hands of other people she knew, except for one and she remembered suddenly another time when Vincent had stood there on her balcony his heart as broken as hers was now, and she had held his hands and told him sincerely, ‘Vincent…these are my hands.” Her heart reacted violently to that memory as another galloped close behind. Those hands brushing her skin, warm and soft rough yet gentle touching, soothing, caressing, and the poignant yearning to know such again was almost impossible to bear.
Great rending sobs tore at her then leaving her limp with longing, the need to curl up and die never so strong as now, not even when Father had turned to her, shaken his head and with tears welling, he’d stood pitiful and haggard as he’d uttered words she had never thought to hear…I’m sorry Catherine, so sorry…” His tears had fallen then and she had rushed to his side supporting him before he fell and they had clung together and let the threatened tears fall, taking solitude in each other already feeling the loss of other arms, another embrace and aching to feel them again.
Opening her eyes Catherine blinked and turned her head away from the sun, looking into her apartment surprised at the light within and knowing it was later than she thought. Already the back walls of her apartment were cast with a golden hue that signified to her that it was well past noon. Where had the hours gone? She stretched slowly, wincing as kinks unfolded, stood and stamped her feet upon the cold terrace floor to rid her legs of the pins and needles that had started up as the first pang of cramp had made itself known.
Slowly her body returned to her bidding and she was able to walk back into the apartment, going only as far as one of her two sofas, before sitting down again and curling her legs beneath her. There she sat facing the balcony, her mind a blank, staring at the noonday sky as if it wasn’t there. As if she wasn’t there. In her minds eye she wasn’t.
Spiralling from the world above Catherine sank down, down to the subterranean world beneath the city streets, to visit with all the places that she loved. The waterfall and the overhanging ledge where she and Vincent had spent so many happy hours together, the whispering gallery, the Great Hall where they had danced at Winterfest, Father’s chamber, Vincent’s chamber…in her minds eye Catherine visualised every ornament, book and candle in its place and knew nothing would ever change. Those things would settle there till time indefinite, no one would have a heart to touch or remove them from now unto eternity, thus his chamber would become a shrine, to him… to them.
Her mind wandered. There was one other place that would hold her heart forever. A sandy cave deep in the bowels of the earth, warm and sheltered from the wind and damp, the place where she and Vincent had made love the first time…the last time…the only ever time.
Her heart reacted violently to the memory, the most poignant of them all, and one she could never share with anyone, not even Father. It would be her secret, the one she would cherish for the rest of her days held safe, nurtured within a heart that would never love again. For Vincent was dead, gone, lost to her and never again would he visit with her on her balcony, never again would he tilt his head and let his long beautiful hair fall over lagoon blue eyes to drown in, never again would he do any of the wondrous things he was renowned for…never again would he love her…
Fresh tears came then…cascading in torrents down Catherine’s cheeks…she let them fall…there was healing in tears…but not this time…never this time…
*** *** ***
For much of the day Catherine remained the same, moping around her apartment, fidgeting unable to concentrate on much at all. Her mind was constantly filled with images, and everything reminded her of Vincent. They had done so many things together but then not nearly enough. Their time had always been so limited. If she had known it were to have been so short as well she would have let nothing stop her from spending more time with him, and she wondered why she had let things come between them in that way. She hadn’t needed to work, although he’d insisted that she should. However she could have worked part time and spent her free time in the tunnels with him. Why was it that she only now thought of that, when it was too late?
By late evening, her own four walls were driving her slowly insane and feeling very much like her apartment was growing smaller with every passing second, Catherine went outside to stand on the balcony overlooking the city and the park. Her eyes wandered to the area she knew Vincent would, had he of been alive, have been waiting for her. The thought of that empty place broke her heart afresh and she knew it would be a long while before she found the courage to enter the tunnels via that park entrance, come to that even beneath the basement of her apartment building would be difficult. She had grown so used to feeling his arms about her lifting her down from those last few steps of the ladder that she didn’t think she could ever go down that way again. Still, the apartment was awfully claustrophobic and Catherine needed the affection that she knew she would find in the people who lived below, knowing that they too, would be grieving. She had to be with them and so donning appropriate clothing for traipsing the tunnels she left her apartment and headed for the threshold.
Her heart thudded as she removed the packing crates covering the door and descended through the blue white light that took her from her world to his. For a moment on that last rung of the ladder she paused imaging him behind her, awaiting his arms to glide around her waist, anticipating that moment of joyous contact. When it did not come, Catherine drew in a deep steadying breath and braced herself for turning around and finding him absent, even so the actual sight of finding nothing but a brick wall almost had her scurrying back to her apartment until she heard a reassuring voice beckon her back down.
“Catherine, we knew you’d come.” She turned recognising Geoffrey’s voice even though it was thick from crying. “We’ve been taking it in turns knowing that you wouldn’t want to walk the tunnels alone. Father has been expecting you all day. He says you are to stay with us for a while. Is there anything that you need to do upstairs before we go?”
Catherine shook her head unable to speak. She had all she needed below, fresh clothing she could borrow, but she was undecided about staying, not knowing if she could.
Taking her arm, Geoffrey walked with her a short distance in silence. They felt one another’s pain but were powerless to lessen it. It was raw and deep and they needed to feel it. Masking it would be of no help for either of them for each had to come through the grief on their own terms. Soon they reached the first sentry who bidding Catherine welcome with a nod of his head said nothing as the two walked by, but as they passed the second sentry who also nodded in acknowledgment, Geoffrey told Catherine, “It doesn’t seem real does it? Bet you think you are dreaming?”
“It’s more like a nightmare.” She told him. “I don’t want to be here Geoffrey, but I can’t stay away. I need all of you so much. You are the only family that I have, and you are Vincent’s family too.”
“Yet he was more to you than a brother.” Geoffrey stated firmly.
“Yes, I loved him. I still love him, will always love him.” Her final words were caught on a sob and Geoffrey hugged her arm tighter knowing her pain. “I loved him too. We all did. Father is devastated, inconsolable. He needs you Catherine, there are arrangements to be made, and he won’t face any of them without you.”
“I don’t know that I will be of help, Geoffrey. It is more than I can bear to even think about it.”
“Still, it has to be done and we think you would know what Vincent would have wanted.”
“Its not something we ever spoke about.” Catherine told him but Geoffrey reiterated, “Even so, you will know.”
They finally reached the home chambers and found them unusually quiet for that time of day. Geoffrey took Catherine straight to Father’s chamber where a sea of faces met her, red from crying, some looked away as she entered unable to meet her gaze.
“Catherine!” At his first sight of her Father left his chair, hobbled the short distance to where she stood and enfolded her in his arms, “I hoped you would come. I know it is difficult my dear, but there are things that we must do. Arrangements to be made, people to be contacted.”
Unable to speak, Catherine nodded and through a blur of tears allowed him to lead her to a chair positioned at the side of his and she recognised it at once. It was Vincent’s chair. “Oh no, Father I can’t sit here.” She protested looking around for somewhere else.
“I understand Catherine, however I also know that Vincent would have wanted you to. You are very much a part of us now, and very much a part of Vincent. And it would make me feel happier seeing it being used.” Nodding, Catherine did not disappoint him, sitting slowly into the large chair that almost swallowed her up. It had never seemed big enough when Vincent had sat in it, thus the memory only served to highlight another of their many differences, her petite figure to his overlarge one. Even so, there had been things that they had achieved despite that fact…
“Has anyone been down there?” Catherine asked, suddenly feeling the overwhelming desire to go to him, to touch him one final time.
“Mouse keeps vigil. Cullen is making a casket, Mary and Olivia are working with him, I had hoped that you might suggest something we could dress him in, although I appreciate that will be a difficult task and there is one other I would like to ask of you my dear, as painful as I’m sure it will be…”
“What is it Father?”
“Would you wash his hair? I know it is dreadful to ask, but since he perspired so much during that fever, he will need washing and a change of clothes.”
Again Catherine nodded, accepting this was so, still not knowing quite how she would manage it, but understanding that it was an honour to be asked. Vincent would have appreciated it for she knew how he felt about cleanliness.
“Of course. When did you want me to go?”
“If you aren’t too exhausted, tonight would be good. Cullen will have finished the casket in a few hours and the men will carry it down there. We thought it would be fitting to lay him to rest where he fell my dear. It is quiet down there and he will be undisturbed except by those wishing to visit, and then they will find solitude and peace in such a place. We have started placing lanterns all the way down. Vincent chose that place to die Catherine, we feel he should be granted that final wish.”
“Yes, and the lanterns will make it accessible to anyone that wishes to visit his grave in the future. I take it you will be burying the casket, Father?”
“No, my dear. We did think of that at first, but the soil is nowhere near deep enough and so it is not possible, one of the reasons why we generally take the deceased lower down to where there is enough depth to lay someone at rest. However, we thought perhaps the cave where Vincent died could act as a memorial tomb for many more of us to join him in our time. Winslow is working on encasing the caskets in cement and Kanin is having engraved plaques fitted before the cement is set. If there is anything that you wish to place in the casket Catherine please tell Mary or Olivia and they will see that it is done before the lid is closed.”
Catherine nodded. It seemed to be so unreal speaking like this. Clearly Father had come to terms with death many times in his life but it was taking all his willpower to manage to deal with this one. His red-rimmed eyes spoke of his weakness though and she was sure that he only cried when he was certain of being alone.
“Why don’t you come down there with me, Father?” For a moment she thought she detected hope in his eyes, but then he shook his head, “No, Jamie will go with you, or Geoffrey. I can’t Catherine, I can’t see him again, not like that, and if you’d rather not go, I’m sure one of the other ladies will oblige.”
“Its not that Father, I just wondered if you would like to come with me, that’s all.” He looked at her shrewdly knowing she had not missed a thing and told her, “We will spend time, just you and I. I think we will both benefit from the exchange, but not just now Catherine, I’m sure you will understand, I need to be alone.”
“With all due respect, Father…” A voice issued from across the room and they looked up to find Lena there, “I think you should not be alone at a time like this.” Only the fact that her young daughter was present stopped Father from making an angry retort. However, Catherine understood, and standing she ushered all members of the tunnels from his chamber knowing he needed to be alone now.
Outside in the tunnel Catherine asked them, “Have you been with him all day?”
“Yes, we didn’t want to leave him by himself. And someone should be with him now.” Jamie told her trying to pass by and re-enter the chamber.
“No, Jamie. I know that you mean well, but Father needs to be by himself right now. He’s so used to being there for everyone else, he’s forgetting that he needs to grieve also. Let him be till morning, give him his space. Now is there anyone that will come down to where Vincent is with me?” She had no need to tell them why they had overheard her conversation with Father. “I’ll come.” Jamie offered, “Need to see Mouse anyway.”
“Thank you, I’ll just collect some things together and meet you outside of Vincent’s chamber in half an hour.”
Jamie nodded and the small group of people dispersed each to his own chamber, each wrapped in his own grief. Catherine tried to grasp and squeeze the hand of each one of them as they passed. Suddenly she felt like Father, wanting to impart sympathy to others when inside her heart was bleeding, but it felt right to be doing something and Vincent would have wanted her to be strong for the sake of his family, and especially for the children.
“Jamie!” She called as the other woman almost disappeared from sight.
“Tomorrow, after the funeral, bring the children to Vincent’s chamber and we will sing songs and afterward we will send Vincent messages in a fire at the mirror pool.”
Jamie nodded understanding the gesture, she knew that the children would like that many had been afraid of entering Vincent’s chamber that day, Catherine’s idea would set them at ease and being able to send Vincent their messages as they had done when Ellie had died would help them say goodbye. Even so, Jamie wondered how Catherine would say goodbye, and if it were possible that she could. She and Vincent had been so close and it would be terribly hard on Catherine to live without him. Jamie hoped she would be able to offer a merit of comfort when they arrived at the sandy cove where Mouse kept vigil, and praised the older woman’s courage for the task she would perform there. She couldn’t do it and Jamie hoped she would never be asked to do something like that.
An hour later saw the pair making their way in relative silence down to the sandy cove where Vincent had fallen as dead at Catherine’s feet. Nobody but Catherine knew what had happened after that, one of the reasons why it was so hard for her to accept that after something so beautiful happening between them, his heart should give out and he should die. That was what was so tragic about it all, that they had never had the chance to talk about what had happened and that she had never had a chance to look into his eyes when he had made love to her as there were no lanterns that far down. She had envisaged that they would continue to make love and she would see into his eyes on other occasions thus, did not know that the last shuddering breath emitted from him had been a sign of his heart giving out. How long she had lain there rocking him in her arms not knowing his life had left him, Catherine did not know, but she felt a fool now believing him to be alive and weaving her fantasies when all the time they’d been in vain. That’s why Father’s announcement had come as such a shock, she had not known, had not realised that Vincent was no longer in the land of the living.
Silently she and Jamie made the journey, and Jamie delighted at finding Mouse still outside the sandy cave even though his eyelids drooped and his swollen eyes bore witness to his grief. ”Come, Catherine is here. William has sent some food.” Jamie tugged Mouse away from the entrance and to Catherine she said, “We’re only down there if you need us, just call and we’ll come.”
“Thanks Jamie.” Catherine did not look at the girl instead keeping her focus directly on the cave entrance. Drawing in a deep breath she bolstered her courage and stepped within, Mouse’s lantern in one hand, her eyes drawn to the place where she knew Vincent to be. She had not know what to expect, seldom had she seen a dead person, but she was still surprised that Vincent looked for all intents and purposes to be sleeping. Slowly she stepped toward him as if a sudden movement might wake him, and equally slowly she settled the lantern at her feet and dropped to her knees at his side. His eyes were closed Father must have done that, though Catherine had no way of knowing if they had been open before. It had been too dark to see with the candle that Father had held.
“Vincent?” Her voice echoed strangely in the cave. It sounded hollow and odd even to her own ears, Catherine decided not to speak again and taking a deep breath began the task she had gone there for. There would be time enough for tears later. If she started crying now she knew she would never get through it…and soon Cullen and the others would arrive…
Thus she washed his hair, towelling it dry and his face arms and hands, and knowing the futility of trying to lift him to put on fresh garments Catherine only did as much as was possible, finding it strange that he was not yet as stiff as she had supposed, but rather supple as though he really were sleeping, but then not knowing how long rigor mortis would take in a damp subterranean world, Catherine passed it off as acceptable. Finally, she did something that she had longed to do ever since Father had told her she could put something in the casket with him if she so desired. She cut a long strand of her own hair and lifting his began to plait it behind his ear, tying the end with a tiny green bow, a love lock that only she would know to be there.
*** *** ***
That done, her busy hands still at last, Catherine shuffled as close to Vincent as she could, wrapped her arms around him lay her head upon his chest and let the threatened tears fall. This would be the last time she would hold him and she was grateful that when Cullen woke her several hours later she had had that special time alone with Vincent knowing it was to become the first and the last time that they had ever slept together after they had become lovers.
Several hours after that Catherine with Father made her second journey down to where Vincent lay, having returned with Jamie earlier. Behind her came all the tunnel residents, silently moving with one accord, some holding bouquets of flowers others pages of verse. The children were crying unable to hold back as their parents tried to comfort them. This was a day none had expected to see, a tragedy none would ever forget.
Never would there be another like Vincent. He was the first and the last, the alpha and the omega, a special person in so many ways and each held account of him in their own heart for the person that they knew him to be.
“We’re almost there.” Catherine whispered to Father, feeling him clutch her arm more firmly. She hadn’t needed to say anything for the place where Vincent fell would remain imprinted in his mind for the rest of his days. Days he hoped would be few now as living without Vincent was a burden he could not endure.
From the sandy cave just ahead they heard whispers and knew that Cullen, Kanin, Mary and Olivia were making the final touches. Way back at the end of the line of people Winslow and William carried bags of cement and sand, water could be found near the cave.
When Catherine supported Father as they stepped into the cave, her eyes naturally went to the place she had last seen Vincent, only to find it empty and slowly her eyes focused on the domineering presence of a large wooden casket and knew her truelove now lay inside. Nothing had prepared her for this moment and tears slipped down her cheeks unstoppable. All she wanted to do was throw herself over the wooden box and remain there preventing the addition of cement unless they entombed her also.
Behind her several members of the community passed by, some wanted to pay their final respects by placing things into the casket with Vincent, others just wanted to see him laying there. Catherine could not, for the life of her, go any closer. The way she remembered him that afternoon as she had lovingly washed his hair and lay with him afterward was the way she wanted to remember him. Father however, stepped away from her and slowly walked to the casket spending long moments looking inside, adjusting this or that with Vincent’s clothing, making sure he was just perfect. His lips moved but no sound was emitted as he whispered words to his son, tears falling down his cheeks in rivulets that he did not brush away. Catherine’s heart went out to him, but it was Mary that went to his side, holding his arm, lending her comfort. Her eyes were red and her cheeks were puffy, never had she cried so much, not since her own child had died many years before.
“Are you going to see him?” Catherine heard Jamie whisper at her side, “This will be your last chance.”
Catherine knew that, yet she was undecided. “He looks beautiful.” Jamie told her, “Just like he’s sleeping. He doesn’t look…well you know…he doesn’t look that way at all.”
Catherine nodded, and began to step toward the casket. It seemed ominous and beckoned to her to come close. In slow motion Catherine watched her own hands reach out and grasp the side, before taking a deep breath and closing her eyes, opening them again to fasten on the body before her. What she saw took her breath away and she knew at that moment as morbid as it might seem, she would not have missed it for the world. He did look beautiful. His amber hair surrounding his firm leonine features, cascading over his shoulders like a copper river, and she was surprised and pleased to find that the men folk had obviously managed to lift him and change his clothing, for he looked immaculate in crisp white shirt, the ruffled one that he so adored, warm emerald slacks, tan jerkin and the pouch that held her rose lay over his heart. It was that which Catherine picked up, and Father could tell that she was undecided about something. “Would you like to take it back my dear? I know that it was your mother’s.”
“Do you think he would mind?”
“No, I think he would like you to have it back.”
“I can’t leave it empty though. I have to put something in the pouch in its place.”
“What about a strand of your hair?” Mary suggested kindly. “I have some scissors.”
Not mentioning the lovelock, Catherine nodded, “Yes, I’d like that. Thank you Mary, and she deliberately held up a strand from the right side of her head lest Mary noticed a length was missing from the left. Once cut Catherine wound the hair into a ball and extracting the rose from the pouch she replaced it with the hair, and patted it firmly back into place.
“Now he can really take something of you with him.” Mary smiled, “Here put the rose into this bag, you will need something to carry it back so it doesn’t get broken.”
“Thank you Mary. I know it might sound strange that I wanted it back, but I would like to place the crystal that he gave me and the rose someplace together. I couldn’t bear to part with the crystal or I’d have put it with the rose into the pouch, and I couldn’t bear for them to have been apart either.”
“Its alright Catherine, you don’t have to explain. Besides if you didn’t do it now, you never would be able to, not after the cement is set.” Father told her.
“I know, I thought of that.” Catherine told them, still she felt terrible about taking the rose back from Vincent. She would have to find a really special place for the crystal and the rose after this, somewhere they could be together forever.
Finally it was time, the children were growing cold, and truly they had had enough, they were tired and exhausted from endless crying and their parents were eager to take them home. Father stood back and every one watched as Cullen and Kanin nailed down the lid, closing Vincent off from Catherine’s sight forever. At that moment the threatened tears began to fall and she lovingly spread her hand over the sleek wooden lid in a farewell gesture as she whispered, “Goodbye my love, sleep well.”
Father broke then, huge tearing sobs that seemed as though they would rend him in two and Mary clutched his arm holding him up or he would have crumpled to his knees. He’d intended to say some words, but he couldn’t and so shaking his head he handed a slim sheet of paper to Winslow expecting that he would do the honours. However Winslow shook his head unable to utter a word of it, and Catherine took it from him, read it through and tried to speak but nothing would come out…finally she too shook her head and Father waved everyone away, “Another time.” He told them gruffly, “Not today. Vincent will understand.”
Slowly they turned, touched the casket in passing, whispering their heartfelt goodbyes, some of the children kissed the wooden box, others just left behind their teardrops, unable to say a word. Catherine was the last one to leave, even though Winslow and William wanted to get on with the final part of the proceedings.
“Can’t you leave it?” She asked them her heart aching. “Just till tomorrow? I’d like to stay awhile.” Nodding the two men left her with a squeeze to her shoulder as they passed by. “Take all the time you need, lassie.” William told her. “We’ll come back tomorrow.”
When everyone had gone and only Catherine remained, the scene before her seemed so artificial. Her tears were spent now, they would come again, but right at that moment she felt mildly at peace. On the other side of the cave to where the casket stood, Catherine sat down on the sandy floor, remembering the love she had shared with Vincent, trying to remain strong even when she ached to feel his arms around her and slowly as her breathing steadied she started to speak, lowly and mild. “Where are you Vincent? Can you see me? Are you here? You promised my father that you would love me and care for me until your last breath, does that mean its finished now? I think not. I think our love will go beyond death and I think wherever you are now, you will wait for me to join you there. I hope it’s not long to wait my love. How will I ever live without you?” For a moment her voice shook and tears gathered behind her lashes. Catherine forced them resolutely away.
“Tomorrow, my love the children are going to send you messages and we will burn them in the fire at the mirror pool just as we did when Ellie died. Are you with Ellie now Vincent? Give her our love. Sing her my lullaby. If you should meet up with my dad tell him how much I love him please.” The last caught on a sob and Catherine took quite a while to recover enough before she could speak again. “Vincent there’s something I want to read to you.” From her pocket she took a square of paper unfolded it and with a voice quivering with emotion began to read the words aloud.
“When the rain is falling and I’m overcome
With the doubts and demons of a love undone
No voice need tell me that you were the one.
I will remember all my life
A love that set me free
And whatever comes of you and I
I will still believe
That once upon a time a dream came true
Whenever I remember loving you.
Not a single moment not a single kiss
Would I have traded would I have missed
No other (Vincent), could move me like this.
Its not that I don’t feel the pain as deep as pain can be
But I will not be denied the light your love has brought to me
What you have given me will last forever
I refuse to lose the treasure of you inside my heart eternally.
I’ll always feel the love we once knew
As long as I remember loving you.”
Quietly, Catherine refolded the sheet of paper and standing placed it back inside her pocket, then with a last backward glance in the direction of where Vincent lay, she whispered her final goodbye and left him at peace.
*** *** ***
An hour may have passed. Catherine would have reached the main hub and the children would have been tucked into bed when walls that had ears gave way to sound as several rocks that no one had noticed being loose began to move.
“Stupid fools.” A voice filled the sandy cave and two figures walked toward the casket and carefully with tools they had brought for the task started to lever off the lid. “Be careful, don’t damage it. We have to replace it like it was never touched.”
For a while they worked extracting the nails that Cullen and Kanin had knocked in only hours earlier, and together they lifted the heavy lid and one of them stared down at Vincent lying there. “Call himself a doctor?” He muttered. “The stupid, stupid old man. Well his loss is my gain.” Derisive laughter followed. “Here you take his feet, help me lift him out.”
They shuffled together, lifted the body and lay it onto a stretcher that they had brought along for the purpose and then they very cleverly disguised their tracks by replacing and re-nailing the lid as though it had never been tampered with. That done, they carried Vincent’s body through the hole in the wall resealed it and such was their expertise that none would be any the wiser that they had ever come and gone.
*** *** ***
Staying overnight in the tunnels was almost too much for Catherine, but the thought of the long trek back to her apartment and then being there alone with no midnight visit from Vincent to look forward to, was even worse. Thus she flitted in and out of sleep, restless for his presence, lost within and without unable to settle. Somewhere deep inside when she did fitfully doze she expected the touch of a warm hand upon her brow, checking her temperature and when it did not come even in sleep Catherine was not disillusioned that he would. Her deep subconscious knew that he had gone and would never take care of her well being in that way ever again.
Therefore even before first light Catherine was up and dressed, there was nowhere to go but she simply could not rest another moment.
Instead she paced the floor of the guest chamber she had been loaned trying to keep her mind on anything, something that would hold her to sanity and give her the strength to help Father through his grief and any one else that needed it. This day she would take the children to the mirror pool. Jamie had briefed her before bedtime on the names of children that had wanted to come. They needed to say their goodbyes and send their messages in flicking sparks of paper that would spiral above the fire and up through the ceiling above the mirror pool to a place that no one knew, for simply no one did know what was above, just this natural rock chimney with light at the top that could have been for all intents and purposes heaven as far as the children were concerned. But that was scheduled to take place three hours in time, and Catherine felt that if she didn’t soon find respite from her restlessness she would go mad, and so much as Vincent had done on occasions she donned her jacket and left the chamber deciding that traipsing the tunnels was better than being still.
Her footsteps took her nowhere and everywhere, she let her feet guide her and found herself standing beneath the nook where she and Vincent had spent many happy hours looking at the Waterfall. She found herself listening to the whispering voices on the bridge over the abyss and wondered if Vincent’s voice might be among them. There she found the frustration of hearing sobbing children, frightened women and not being able to trace or do anything about them. Such a place could send a person mad she concluded leaving the bridge and heading she knew not where. Finally at a crossroads she became undecided. Whether to stay below or rejoin her world, however some pull was stronger than the desire to go above and Catherine found her feet taking her in the direction of Father’s chamber where on her approach the sound of soft moaning could be heard. Catherine’s heart reacted violently to Father’s grief and not considering that she might be intruding she entered the dimly lit chamber and asked after his welfare.
“I’m here, Catherine.” His troubled voice told her, and she entered, eyes squinting against the unaccustomed dimness, slightly darker than that she had found within the lantern lit tunnels. There were no need for words, stumbling to his side Catherine sat down alongside him on his bed and took his hands in hers. They were cold, but through the light of one solitary candle she could tell that his face was red and swollen from crying and his brow looked hot and feverish. “Father, you’re not well!” Catherine exclaimed, “Why didn’t you call for someone?”
“I’m a doctor.” Father laughed derisively, “I know my own treatment, and everyone is equally indisposed. I’ll survive.”
“But you would rather you didn’t. Have you taken anything?” Catherine asked shrewdly.
“What is there to take? Will Mary Poppins’ medicine make me feel whole again? I fear Catherine that only magic could. I miss him so much. How can I ever live on without him?” Father fought back a sob.
“I know how you feel, but you like me are relied upon by others, we have to be strong for them Father. The little ones…”
“The little ones will recover, they will forget or Vincent will become as a fond memory. Catherine he was my son!”
There was little Catherine could say in response to that. Vincent had been her life but she knew if she allowed it that she could move on, she could not visualise a life without him but time would heal, however the loss of a child must be indeed a tragedy, for one would continually beat oneself up over it and with Father being a doctor and not able to save his son, then that must be doubly tragic.
“I can’t pretend to know how you feel, Father but if its any consolation, my heart is breaking too.”
“I know Catherine, and thank God for you. Thank God that Vincent knew what love was, even though he never experienced it in the fullest sense of the word. Part of him was a man and he loved you dearly.”
Catherine hadn’t meant to say anything, but something in Father’s tone, some sadness that his son had left the world unfulfilled nudged her in the ribs and made her say, “He loved me passionately too.”
For a moment time ticked by as Catherine’s words and obvious meaning sank in and Father turned with incredulous eyes “You mean?” He asked with disbelief.
“Yes.” Tears in her eyes Catherine replied, nodding, “And it was beautiful for the both of us.”
“Oh Catherine! I never knew. He never said…oh Catherine, oh my dear you are one remarkable woman.” Drawing her close Father hugged her against him. In so few all important words Catherine had suddenly been elevated in his eyes to the woman that had truly loved his son, forsaking all others to be with him, in the fullest possible way. “I love you Catherine.”
The heartfelt way he said it had tears gushing from Catherine’s eyes and she felt this was not the time, if ever there’d be one to tell him when that particular wonderful, mind blowing event had actually taken place. It was just enough for him to know that it had. It made Father feel complete, as though he had done his very best that a parent could do, guiding and shaping his youngling in such a way that a beautiful woman could not only find it within herself to fall in love with that child, but to give herself to him too.
“Now I know that you loved my son.” Father told her pulling back from her arms a little to study her face, “I’m sorry, Catherine for all the times that I tried to come between you.”
“You loved him Father, you weren’t to know that I would not harm him, you did what every good parent would do. You looked out for your child’s heart lest it be broken. There was nothing wrong in that.”
“You’re too kind Catherine, but we both know that my reasons were that I was jealous of the attention that he paid you. Having convinced myself that Vincent would be around me for the rest of my days it came as a complete shock to find that some other held his heart. It had been bad enough with Lisa but I was able to expel her from the community, I couldn’t do that with you try as I might, for Vincent would just follow wherever you led. Can you ever forgive me, my dear? I put up obstacles where there should have been none. Without my interference you and Vincent may have achieved so much more together, might even have got married.” A wan smile brightened Father’s eyes when he said this, “Just imagine huh being married to Vincent. Would you have given up your life above to be with him?”
Catherine smiled, “With hindsight I might have considered anything. If I’d known that Vincent’s life would be cut short I would have spent much more time with him. There should be a lesson in there somewhere Father, we should always give of ourselves even when it’s the last thing that we want to do, not that I didn’t want to spend time with Vincent, but that I shouldn’t have let work cloud out the time we could have been together. I didn’t need to work, I could have been here full time.”
“And because we cannot see into the future, that set up would have made you restless. Vincent would never have allowed it either.” Father chuckled remembering some occasions when Catherine had begged to live with Vincent and he had refused bringing up all kinds of reasons why she should not. “Its just that every time Vincent maintained that you would be wasting your life by tying yourself to him he forcefully reminded himself and me of what he was and I had come to accept his reasons. And yet you tell me that you and he became lovers. That is what you meant isn’t it?” Suddenly Father wondered if he might have got hold of the wrong end of the stick.
“Yes, that’s what I meant, Father. But it had only recently happened, so Vincent’s views may eventually have changed but its something we’ll never know.” Both were quiet for a while each left to their own thoughts and daydreams, until something prompted Father to ask, “I know its really none of my business…but…well…did either of you consider…that is…oh I’m sorry Catherine, I shouldn’t be asking.” Seeing him blush Catherine did not pursue it. Whatever he had wanted to know had clearly embarrassed him and she felt it would likely embarrass her too. Therefore she said nothing and he did not bring it up again. Instead they moved to less delicate areas while Catherine made tea and buttered some scones warming them first over the brazier. “Here Father, you have to eat.” She told him handing him one on a plate. He bit into it, relished the warm pastry and swallowed but did not take another bite. “You must eat too.” He had wanted to add, desperately wanted to add, “You are eating for two.” But he did not know that and it grated on his nerves that he dare not ask. Though his son could never be replaced the hope that there might be another to follow in his footsteps made Father feel so much better. And that too annoyed him, but in some small way he understood why he felt as he did, a slim hope was better than none, and another chance of bringing up such a child under his care gave him a reason for continuing to live and with his natural doctoral inclination, making love and having babies went hand in hand, after all Grace had born him a son after just one never to be repeated again moment of passion, so Father knew that it could happen.
“What will you do now?” Father asked as if that question was the most important in the world and in a way it was, he could do little for Vincent now, but he could continue to look after the woman that he loved, he could do that much.
“I haven’t even thought about it. Work will of course help me to keep my mind off of it, and they say time is a great healer, but I don’t know Father, I don’t think I will ever heal from this. There will never come again a man like Vincent. Even if we should find another in his image it wouldn’t be him. You did a grand job in raising him Father. Much of Vincent’s personality was down to you and for that I am grateful.”
“Strange when you think on it, if I hadn’t been a doctor, Vincent might never have carried you down here to heal that first night, have you ever thought of that?” Father asked sipping his tea.
“He would have done something though wouldn’t he? He wouldn’t have left me there to die it wasn’t in him to turn the other cheek. But I see what you mean, had he not brought me here, we might never have met in the literal sense and I would never have fallen in love with him.”
Father beamed, “It does my heart glad to hear you speak like that my dear. I never thought I would ever hear a woman confess to falling in love with Vincent. The two of you were the proverbial beauty and the beast, except that your story hasn’t had a happy ending and has had a rocky path all the way through. You shouldn’t have been denied happiness Catherine, it should never have happened. Vincent should never have died!” It was the first time that Catherine had seen Father so angry over his son’s death and she hurried to place a comforting hand upon his shoulder, squeezing tightly showing her affection.
“Don’t beat yourself up over it Father. You did all that you could do in the circumstances no one will ever say that you could have done more. And Vincent knew, and he went to the cave to die if either of us should be filled with remorse it should be me.”
Father looked at her sceptically over the rim of his mug and then asked, “How do you draw that conclusion?”
Taking a deep breath, Catherine exhaled with a long sigh, “I’ve misled you Father. I wasn’t going to tell you this, but if it stops you blaming yourself then I have to do. Its true that Vincent and I became lovers, but what you don’t know is that it happened only the once and then down in the cave when I went to him, just before he…”
“Just before he died?” Father’s eyes were wide and incredulous, “Oh Catherine, that’s even worse!”
“Even worse than what?” Catherine managed a wan smile.
“Wrong choice of words, my dear. What I mean is that he should die after such a miraculous event in his life…oh…you don’t mean that you are blaming yourself for his death due to it are you? I mean you aren’t assuming that his heart gave out due to that combined with all the other things?”
“Like it was the last straw? Was it?” Catherine’s eyes searched his hoping to find the answers there. “Father I would gladly have traded one fleeting moment of bliss for a lifetime of platonic love if I could have Vincent with me now.”
“Yes I know, but Catherine there is something else isn’t there. You implied such earlier when you spoke of remorse?” Father’s kindly eyes looked into hers, begging for her revelation.
“Vincent was always against such a joining…”
“Yes I know.”
“Yet I pushed him all the time. It was what I wanted more than anything…I wanted to love him, show him what love could really be, but he was always so afraid…terrified that he would hurt me by his massive strength alone…” Catherine sighed and continued slowly, “Had I not of goaded him, had I not have pushed for something he was unprepared to give, I truly believe that he would not have undergone that madness and frustration would not have caused him to act like he did. Father, I am to blame for Vincent’s illness, I know I am!” Catherine wailed and burst into tears.
“No, no Catherine. It was Paracelsus you know that. He goaded Vincent… it was he that started the turn of events that led to Vincent losing his mind.”
“Events that Vincent thought were true because I had demanded more of him than he could give, oh Father don’t you see it? Paracelsus fed on the belief Vincent held that he was animal incapable of love in that way. And our Bond only aided him to know of my needs. That he felt he could not satisfy me caused him to believe that I would leave him and go to someone that could. You didn’t know it, Father but Vincent constantly tried to palm me off onto Elliot Burch, despite how that would have broken his heart.”
“I didn’t know that.” Drawing in a deep breath, Father finally announced, “We’re going nowhere with this Catherine, and it doesn’t change facts. You cannot apportion the blame wholly to yourself I take some of the share and no amount of arguing about it is going to bring Vincent back. I suppose by some merit of lightness we could venture to say that my son died happy?”
Surprised that he could joke about it amazed Catherine, even so his kindly eyes spoke of his mischievousness as well as his sympathy, and Catherine knew he wasn’t being malicious, he hadn’t it in him and he wouldn’t be so as he suffered the same feelings of guilt as she. So she returned his smile with a slight one of her own, and hoped it would suffice to show that she had not be offended by his remark.
“Yes, Father. I think of that we can guarantee. Vincent did die happy and at peace.”
“Yes Father?” Something in his tone belied more than was implicated “Is something bothering you, still?” Catherine grinned just a little.
“I know I shouldn’t ask…it really is none of my business…but if you went to Vincent at the cave and did not plan for such things to happen…and Vincent certainly would not have done…then…” Suddenly, following his train of thought Catherine understood what it had been he had wanted to ask earlier and she gasped.
“Father!” Eyes wide she looked at him incredulously and a hand strayed unwittingly to her abdomen, and Father knew that she had understood. “Could it be possible?” The hope that flared in her heart was seen in her eyes and Father nodded, “I don’t want to speculate, but yes it is possible. How would that make you feel, my dear?”
“Make me feel? Oh Father, are you kidding! Oh to have this…a part of Vincent…oh Father…I would love it!”
Tears gathered and fell from two pairs of eyes and Catherine threw herself into Father’s arms. Her heart pounded, ‘oh let it be so, let it happen, oh please let it be so.’ And Father’s thudded in rhythm, ‘Dear God please let Catherine be pregnant, please let it be so, please let her bear a son…a son with a kittenish face and golden hair…a son of my son…oh let it be so…please, please, please.’
*** *** ***
Later that morning other tunnel members saw a drastic change in Catherine than that of her appearance the day before. She seemed to float on air and led the group of children to the mirror pool with much enthusiasm, so much so that they started to come out of their shells and join in without too much sadness. One by one they read their letters out loud, although for some it was a private affair, popping the sheets of folded paper into the fire and watching the heat take the charred paper up and away and out of their midst as it tugged by a ghostly apparition that would repair the letters and hand them to Vincent wherever he was. Still Catherine could not help shedding some tears, as the occasion brought back another memory and stealing a glance in Eric’s direction she knew that he remembered just as vividly the day when they had sat around the mirror pool doing exactly the same thing, sending notes of love to his sister, Ellie.
Catherine stood, brushed sand from her pants and walked to where Eric sat opposite to where she had been. There she dropped to her knees and with an arm around his shoulders hugged him close. The threatened tears that he had so wanted to shed but had held at bay came then and he whispered brokenly, “Ellie is lucky now. She has Vincent with her.”
“Vincent will never be that far off from any one of us.” Catherine told the group that appealed to her for answers. Some had murmured that Ellie was indeed lucky but that had left them without Vincent. “He taught you many things, and you can make him proud by continuing with those things. When he looks down on you Vincent will be so proud of your achievements. Never think that he cannot see you. Ellie too will be so proud of her brother for learning carpentry from Cullen and using that gift to make nice things for the rest of you and if you ever do feel alone you can come here and feel close to them again. You can always send more messages too, this doesn’t have to be the only time.”
“Will you be staying here?” Geoffrey asked. He’d been wondering about that ever since he had escorted Catherine down two days ago.
“I haven’t decided. But if I do return above I will always consider this my home and visit often. You can also come up to see me at the apartment, try to get father to come up and stay sometime, it will do him good to get out in the sunshine, I think.”
“I don’t think Father will live very long now.” Geoffrey spoke his thoughts out loud causing several children to gasp with horror, and leaving Catherine to pacify them until she was certain that Geoffrey’s remark had been forgotten. Geoffrey never spoke again, but he still believed what he thought would be. Even more so, when leaving the mirror pool a rattling on the pipes signified that something important was happening in the tunnels, though Catherine did not think it was within her place to enquire and continued to escort the children back to their parents. It was only when she found those same parents in a flap that she felt inclined to enquire.
“Narcissa is missing!” Olivia told her hurrying through the tunnels on route to Father’s chamber.
“Missing? Narcissa is always missing.” Catherine stated as she fell into step with Olivia.
“I know, but apparently there are signs of a scuffle. Wherever Narcissa is, she isn’t there by design. Someone has kidnapped her.”
“But that’s ridiculous!” Catherine cried, “Who would want to do that?”
“I don’t know Cathy. No one has attempted to hurt her before, and though she is a little weird she is a dearly loved member of our community and one several of us hold in high regard.”
“Yes Vincent did too.”
“I know.” They rounded the final corner to Father’s chamber and found a group had already congregated there. Father was in their midst, directing search parties with the aid of various maps and the general atmosphere was one of apprehension and fear. Catherine understood at once, without Vincent their defence was down, if someone had kidnapped an old blind lady what more could they do?
When his chamber was empty Father turned to Catherine, “I know you should help with the search Catherine, I know that you want to, but please do not be offended if I do not assign you some territory.” His eyes wandered down to her belly and she understood, even though she did not agree. “If it’s to happen Father, it will happen, nothing we can do will change that.”
“I disagree. Catherine this child is so important to me, and I won’t let the chance of anything happening that might cause you to lose it.”
Catherine laughed, “Father, I don’t need to remind you that it might not even have happened.”
“No, all the same its best not to take unnecessary risks besides there are quite enough people searching for Narcissa already, you could stay here and look after me.”
Chuckling Catherine replied, “Humour you don’t you mean?” Father had the grace to blush but set about boiling a kettle without further ado his intention obvious. “You’ll keep me company today I take it?” He asked her. Defeated, Catherine nodded, besides she didn’t really want to be anywhere else. Vincent’s chamber seemed foreboding and her own one was empty without him, so Father’s chamber with its warmth and his company would be just right.
“I’ve been thinking Catherine. Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t there some tester kits that one can buy at drug stores these days that would establish things for us? Seems silly to wait weeks in hopeful expectation if we can know sooner. At least then we will not be building up our hopes to have them dashed six weeks from now. When is your next menstruation due?”
Catherine almost choked on her tea. Father didn’t beat about the bush did he? Suddenly she wondered whether having Vincent’s child was such a good thing. Father was obviously shifting thoughts to the past. By believing in a child in his son’s image he could almost believe that his son had not died at all. Catherine wondered whether she should ask Peter’s advice. Father obviously had let go too soon and would likely be in for a fall if he weren’t careful.
“I’ll make an appointment to see Peter if that would make you feel any better?” Catherine told him.
Father’s eyes lit up, “Then go today, Catherine promise me that you’ll go today?” She almost heard the words, ‘I must know’ tagged on to what he’d said and it worried her greatly.
Nodding Catherine reached for her jacket recently discarded, “Okay, but I’ll be back tonight. And oh Father by the way, as Vincent’s casket entombing has been delayed due to Narcissa’s disappearance, have Winslow and William refrain from smothering the casket with cement. I’ve had a better idea. While I’m up top I’ll order some marble panels, we’ll use those instead. Nothing but the best for Vincent.”
Though he acknowledged what she said, Father seemed to look right through her, leaving Catherine feeling very uneasy. His eyes seemed to focus on her belly and look only to the future…nothing else seemed important.” “I’ll go see Peter, “ Catherine told him, “I’ll be back as soon as there is anything to tell. Good luck with finding Narcissa.”
Father nodded and his presence alone seemed to usher Catherine from his chamber leaving her troubled all the more. Whether she was carrying Vincent’s child or not remained to be seen. It was what it would do to Father if she wasn’t that worried her the most now for clearly she could see that he had his heart set on it.
*** *** ***
Catherine didn’t return straight away. Taking the piece of paper that Peter had handed her back to her apartment Catherine’s mind was in turmoil. Father had been right about the testing kits. There had been several available on the market that not only could give a positive or a negative result after a missed period, but some could at a price, for they were expensive, tell if a woman had conceived within three days of intercourse. Catherine clutched the evidence to her, a slim pen like object with three pink lines that told her that she most definitely without a whisper of a doubt carried Vincent’s child.
The revelation of that turned Catherine’s world upside down. Why now? When there was no Vincent to share the joyous news and when there was a foreboding feeling that telling his father would create so many problems, many of them that she only speculated upon. Peter had been of like mind when it had come to her explanation of that, but his advice had been heart warming, “ Jacob just wants something to cling to Catherine. Vincent’s death has been such a blow to him. Ordinarily losing a child is bad enough, but Vincent was so extraordinary and it must feel as though a chapter had closed forever on his life. Try not to worry, just know that never will there be a grandfather so doting.”
Catherine smoothed the note and stared at it. With it she could take maternity leave from her job, but what of that? Could she actually present such a note to Joe and then have an acceptable reason as to why he could never see her baby? Even if the child should look normal other problems were posed, not least of all who and where was the father? Catherine didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for her when they knew he had died, neither did she want some gallant male to offer her marriage and a father for her child as if that was what she needed and apart from all those things, what of her? What of her needs? Did she not get a say in it now? Was her fate, sighed, sealed and delivered? Would she have to spend the rest of her life living beneath the city that she adored with out the man that she loved? Catherine wasn’t certain that she could do it, and suddenly she realised something…neither had Father been sure of that! So that was why he had been so excited! Of course, if she could not live below, the upbringing of her child would fall primarily on his shoulders - was that what he wanted? Did Father believe that by having the son of his son close by he could hold onto Vincent forever?
Catherine didn’t really know. She clutched at explanations as they flitted through her mind, and an overwhelming sadness enveloped her. Beneath her heart she carried Vincent’s child…Vincent’s child! She shook her head with disbelief it was wonderful and all so tragic…and then before she could put it off any longer she donned her shoes and jacket again and set off for the tunnels.
*** *** ***
Father was in conference when she arrived back, and with almost indecent haste he dismissed the people bringing reports on no news of Narcissa and ushered her in, then before the last person was even out of sight, he asked her, “Well?”
Wearily sitting, Catherine nodded, “Yes Father. I’m pregnant.” She replied watching his face very closely.
It was a picture. So many emotions chased their way across Father’s face that it was impossible for Catherine to keep up, until finally he leaned back in his chair and with a triumphant smile told her, “and so it begins…again.”
Regretfully Catherine worried about that comment. What had begun again? Did her early misgivings have foundation? Father’s next comment told her the answer to that.
“We will assign you the guest chamber, unless you would rather have Vincent’s, yes I think that would be suitably fitting. Forget the guest chamber and move straight into Vincent’s. When the time comes you will have the baby down here, there is no question of anywhere else. Peter and I will keep a close eye on you, and I think you should hand in your resignation at work straight away. This child is precious Catherine, and we must do everything in our power to keep it safe. After it is born of course what you do is up to you. Should you chose to return above then I will not stand in your way, only the child must remain here. You do see that don’t you? There is no way Vincent’s child can be reared above. Even if he did not resemble his father.”
Catherine had difficulty keeping up and the happiness gushing out of Father was almost too much to bear. “Father stop, stop, you’re moving too fast. Anyone would think that you are happy that…” She had been going to say that Vincent had died, but knew that to be wrong, however Father turned on her understanding the unspoken word, “NEVER!” He cried, “Never assume that I am glad Vincent is dead. On the other hand never assume that I will sit by and have no say whatsoever in the welfare of his child. That’s my grandchild you are carrying Catherine, and I do have a right to any decision regarding it. Vincent would want that, and he would expect me to take care of you…” Suddenly Father paled, “Oh Lord, you wasn’t contemplating a termination were you?”
“No!” Catherine snapped, “How could I? But I do feel as though I am trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea right now, Father. Can’t you see, I am the one carrying this child and whatever your rights, the final say is mine. And I will not come to live here just yet, I can’t, not without Vincent, but I will have the baby here that goes without saying. As to its future that will be up to me also.”
The two regarded one another hotly and both could see it would be a battle of wills. Neither would back down and both wanted what was best for the child, unfortunately living in different worlds would mean that the features of the child would force the trigger into that particular game of Russian Roulette and the problem even if Catherine did foresee the drawbacks, was that neither were prepared to lose.
*** *** ***
To be continued in Chapter Three - click on 'Next' below:
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