And So It Begins Again

Chapters 15, 16 & 17

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.


Chapter Fifteen

Ten days passed and Father growing more and more peeved that Vincent had not thought to visit with him on his return to the hub was reminded by Catherine that he had less to worry about than she did. Sitting around the brazier hot mugs of cocoa in their hands, Catherine finally revealed to the tunnel patriarch just what her problem was. “I would never have taken Vincent to be the kind of man to cut and run, Father. But that is simply what he did. We made love and he ran, literally, ran, without any explanation as to why he should. Can you imagine how that made me feel?”

Father almost dropped his mug of cocoa into his lap, he stared at Catherine, “You mean he came here and…he what…he made love with you and left again? Catherine that’s awful!” All manner of expressions chased across Father’s face, the last one caused Catherine to chuckle even though she felt upset, he looked as though he were dealing with a spoilt child that knew no manners and his words confirmed it, “My dear, I’m so sorry. I will have more than enough to say to him when I do clap eyes on him, I can hardly believe what you are telling me.”

“Well its true, and of course that gives rise to yet another question, did it happen again?”

Father’s eyebrows rose in question, and Catherine enlightened him just as dawning became apparent in his eyes, “Yes Father, I could be pregnant again. Can you believe it huh? Here I am supposedly a career woman with one baby already possibly another on the way and a lover that disappears into thin air totally missing all the action in-between and without even a question as to my state of health or even that of his son.”

“Well with all due respect Catherine, he might not know about the baby.”

“He does, he knows full well about the baby, he made reference to him several times, but not once did he enquire as to his son’s welfare.”

“Perhaps you should not have presumed he would, perhaps you should have reminded him of his obligations and told him about his son.”

Catherine sighed, whose side was Father on anyway? From where she was standing it looked very much like Vincent got his vote. Men, typical, pulled together even when one of them was making a serious mistake and the other knew it even so she replied, “Women are strange creatures Father.” Catherine was annoyed to see him nod at that and could have hit him for agreeing, but went on quietly fuming instead, “We never tell our men folk anything that might tie them to us until we are satisfied that they want us for who we are, and not for what we have given them. Or in this case, I would never tell Vincent about his son until I am certain that he wouldn’t use a child to tie himself to me, when he would rather not be with me at all. What woman wants that? She would just be used, however, the fact remains the same I feel used even so.”

“What do you propose doing about it?” Father surprised her by asking.

“Do? What can I do? I know what I’d like to do. I’d like to tramp down there and drag him back screaming and kicking by his hair, that’s what I would like to do, just who does he think he is treating me like that!” Catherine rose from her chair hands on table, glaring down at Father, her hair falling forward her eyes flashing fire. Father decided he wouldn’t want to be in his son’s shoes when she caught up with him that was for sure.

“Well that’s out of the question, or at least until you get the results of the test. If it proves negative you can do all the tramping to the lower levels that you want, only I suggest that you do not go alone. I’m sure Dominic would accompany you, or maybe Mouse would go.”

Noticing Catherine frown at the mention of Dominic’s name, Father grew curious, “What’s the matter, don’t tell me you are at odds with Vincent’s brother too now?”

“No, not really it was something Vincent said that’s all. And Vincent was usually right about things in the past, he might just have something there too, at any rate, I think Mouse would be the better one of the two to escort me down there, as if I need anyone at all. Jamie would be as good a companion as any, after all what’s down there that’s so frightening anyway? With Paracelsus gone, there is no danger of the human element anymore, and Vincent though he needs clowning, is not a danger to me or anyone.”

“I would have been inclined to disagree, but since you tamed the very beast himself, I cannot use that argument, Catherine. Just get the test done and take it from there, and if it does prove negative would you take some advice?”

Catherine was one step ahead of him, “Use some contraception? Just what I was thinking, at this rate I’m going to feel like the old lady that lived in a shoe.”

“Having so many children that she didn’t know what to do, hum, well yes my dear, you could have a point there.” Catherine noticed Father’s eyes were twinkling with mischief and she told him seriously, “Its nothing to laugh at. I know you are happy we have little Vincent, and would probably be over the moon if I kept producing more like him, but what about me? Elliot’s working on a closer brownstone as we speak, but really Father trying to live two different lives is very time consuming, not to mention exhausting, and with no man around to boot either, I get lonely too you know?”

“Yes, forgive me I’m sure you must.” Sighing deeply, Father went on, “Its so unlike Vincent though, is it not? Why he left again is simply a mystery. Whatever he thought of heaven knows, but we must find him and get to the bottom of it the sooner the better. He can’t be living too well by himself, and he has obviously got a hold of the wrong end of the stick somewhere. Look, leave it with me, Mouse know these tunnels better than anyone, I’ll have him see if he can find Vincent. Lord he might even know where he is already.”

Nodding Catherine agreed, “Thank you Father. Right then I’ll be going now. I’ll be back before the weekend if I have any news, and likewise you’ll get a message to me if you hear anything?”

Father agreed, and they parted company with a kiss to one another’s cheek. It was all they seemed to be doing these days, giving one another goodbye kisses, but until Catherine had someone to stop below for, she simply needed to live above.

Stepping out of Father’s chamber Catherine ran into Dominic, he had the same disconcerting way of appearing out of the blue just as his brother had, but Catherine got the distinct impression that he had been eavesdropping on her conversation with Father. It made her feel uneasy. He made her feel uneasy, ever since Vincent had surmised that his brother was in love with her, something she had failed to mention to Father.

“Catherine. Hello. Are you well?” Dominic issued the customary greeting for tunnel dwellers.

“Yes thank you, but you will have to excuse me, Dominic I am going back above and have already stayed longer than I intended.”

Dominic sidestepped to let her pass but she stopped dead when he commented, “I must say you look positively radiant at the moment, blossoming in actual fact.”

Catherine regarded him coolly, what did he know? It was the sort of comment to make of someone expecting a baby. However she replied “thank you.” And endeavoured to walk on by. Dominic caught her arm, “Do you think Vincent will be back soon?”

“I don’t know. Dominic like I told you three days ago, I have no idea when Vincent will be back.” She sounded exasperated yet he grinned at her, either ignoring the fact that she was in a hurry or stalling her for reasons of his own. “I’ve been wondering about the wedding you asked me to attend with you, what should I wear? I do not have any social clothes neither do I have the money to buy any. It’s been a constant worry to me knowing how best to compliment you at the wedding of your friends.” A shiver ran through Catherine. It wasn’t what he said, which was question enough, it was the way he said it and the way he looked at her, his gaze running up and down her body from head to toe and back again, as if he was undressing her with his eyes. A little flustered and intent on escaping as quickly as possible, Catherine blurted, ”Don’t worry, Dominic, I’m sure I can buy you a suit, shirt and tie for the occasion. Only not today, today I must dash, I’m already late.” For a moment Catherine thought he would delay her some more, but he stood to one side and allowed her to go. He said not a word, neither thank you, goodbye or be well. And even as Catherine threaded her way through the tunnel she could feel his eyes boring into her back and it made her walk even faster until she felt she had escaped his sight.

Stepping into Father’s chamber Dominic made it to the recently vacated chair by Catherine and struck up conversation with the old man. “Saw Catherine outside, such a nice lady, Catherine.”

Father agreed, “Yes she is. Everyone here loves her, and she them and my son is a blind fool if he cannot see what is before his own eyes.”

“That being?” Dominic asked quirking an eyebrow.

“That Catherine loves him! Vincent needs to come back and sort his life out. If he takes any longer about deciding what it is he actually wants I fear that Catherine and his children will leave here for good, and who can blame her for that? Sorry, did you say something?”

“I was surprised that’s all, you mentioned children and not child, is there something I don’t know?” Dominic smiled knowingly.

“I shouldn’t say anything, it’s not concrete yet. But Catherine may be with child again.”

“Is she really?” Father gazed at Dominic long and hard, it was the way he said that, almost drawled and the faraway look in his eyes caused Father to wonder what he was thinking. At any rate, whatever it was Father instantly regretted having confided in Dominic about the possibility of another baby.

“Well, I must be going.” Dominic rose, “Things to do, you know how it is?” Father nodded and bid the younger man ‘be well’ as he exited the chamber. It was only after he had gone that Father realised that Dominic hadn’t exactly gone there for any reason. In fact it was almost as if he had sought him out to have something verified without literally asking. It rankled Father to know what was on Dominic’s mind, he’d seemed very distracted for the last few days, in fact ever since Vincent had visited and he couldn’t put his finger on it, but it appeared that Dominic was planning something, and something that might prove detrimental to someone, but whom? That was the ultimate question who did Dominic have in mind?

Outside in the tunnel, Dominic smiled smugly to himself. Just a little while then and he would have his retribution. His brother’s foolhardiness was making it all too easy and Dominic could hardly believe in his good fortune. Of course falling in love had complicated matters a little but he would get around that eventually and see it as an added bonus, especially if he could prove to Catherine just how nice he could be, and just how much more he could surpass everything that his brother was renowned for. He knew that Catherine was impressed by his near normal features, and how much he resembled his brother in other ways, so with a bit of luck and a great deal of cunning he shouldn’t find it too difficult to win her over to his side and steal her right from under his stupid brother’s nose. For Vincent was stupid, Dominic decided and gullible to believe any little hint and especially if that hint had the initials EB. For as long as Dominic could continue to drop those subtle little hints he knew Vincent would likely stay away from the hub. Dominic chuckled, and placing fresh bread, meat, cookies, cheese and a flask of tea into his pack, Dominic swung it over one shoulder. It had been three days since he had last taken refreshments to his brother. Whistling a tune Dominic strode from the chamber, encountering no one as he made the journey to the lower levels and ultimately to his goal, the cave where his brother had been living for the last ten days.

*** *** ***

He’d read the book before and it held no joy for him. Vincent lay it down at his side and with his head thrust back against the wall of the cave he closed his eyes and tried to shut out the memories that kept forming before him whether awake or asleep. Yet, no matter how hard he tried he could not stop hearing the thudding of his heart or the singing of that other that thudded gently next to it. It had been that disconcerting heartbeat that had sent him back to the hub some ten days earlier yet even so he had to remind himself that seeing Catherine when he had, had been a great surprise because the connection he had with her told him that she was in a completely different direction to the one that he had found her in. And that conversation! The one he had overheard between his brother and Catherine had left him reeling. Of course, Dominic had explained it since, had even laughed at his suggestion that he was falling in love with Catherine, and had made him see quite forcefully that the only one Catherine was interested in was the man she was going to marry, Dominic had not needed to say who that would be, it was obvious. The man’s name had come up often during the course of that conversation and had been the main reason that he had acted so irrationally, and snatched Catherine away intent on holding her somewhere until she forgot all about Elliot Burch for ever.

Even so…Vincent scratched at his head in a gesture of confusion, there were so many contradictions. Catherine had told him that she loved him, and what she had done…Oh! Vincent tingled at the memory of the things she had done to him and became shamefully aroused at the thought. How could a woman, who was about to marry another love a different man in such a way, and a man more different than any could get, at that?

It didn’t add up even with Dominic’s suggestion that Catherine was probably just one of those woman who found it exciting to have more than one man interested in her, and if Elliot Burch so obviously thought little of infidelity, perhaps Catherine did too. Perhaps that was the way of their relationship. Maybe it was a marriage of convenience, where money led, and with little love between them each sought out other relationships as they wished. But it wasn’t the Catherine he had known, nor the one that had been willing to sacrifice everything to marry Elliot Burch in order to save the tunnels and ultimately his life. Vincent couldn’t make head or tail of it, neither was he happy with any suggestion that Dominic had made and if Dominic hadn’t adamantly denied any feelings for Catherine, Vincent might have surmised that his brother was just another fly in the ointment with his own particular brand of knife to wield. But he had been adamant and he had been the only one that Vincent had been able to rely on these last ten days, when having followed his brother in his trail of destruction to the lower levels, (where Vincent had beat himself relentlessly against the tunnel walls never even feeling the pain) then Vincent knew that he might just have well of starved to death, since he had not the inclination or the enthusiasm to go and seek his own nourishment wanting little more than to wither away with the misery that engulfed him. Catherine professed to love him, yet she had born a child to another man, and even as they made love a second time she had contemplated marriage to that same man.

“I am a fool!” Vincent cried out loud, and his words were met by an answering one of similar tone that was not an echo, “You said it, dear brother.” Dominic paused, it was one of those moments when one said something witty and instantly regretted doing so. One of those times when it would go down like a lead balloon, yet at the same time all manner of questions would arise from it. “Why do you say that?” Vincent wanted to know at once, “I thought you agreed it is best that I remain here? Are you now disputing that fact?”

Dominic sought his mind furiously for a possible reason for the remark without letting his brother know that he did indeed term him a fool, a stupid blind fool. “I meant that you are a fool not to have heard my approach. I could have been anyone, Vincent!”

His exclamation had the required effect, “I have no one to fear. Outsiders rarely come down this far.”

“Even so you did not hear my approach, I could have been anyone and it may have proved detrimental to you.” Dominic swung his pack from his shoulder and started depositing his wares onto the sandy floor.

“And what if anyone did come? My life is over, I may as well welcome any intruder that would wish to harm me.” Vincent told his brother bitterly.

“Don’t say that. While there is hope there is life.”

“You got that wrong, it should be while there is life there is hope.”

“Whatever. Now look, I can’t stay long, so how have you been? I’ve bought you some supplies and another blanket since you said you were cold last time, and there’s some hot tea in the flask, though of course it won’t stay hot till I can come again. Oh and there are a couple of new books and I brought one of your half finished journals and a few pens.”

“Thank you Dominic, you are very kind.”

“What are brothers for? You’re welcome. Now did you want me to fill you in on what’s been happening back at the hub?” Dominic hoped to rub some more salt in already open wounds.

Cautiously Vincent nodded, he greatly feared and craved news of the hub and his family. He had chosen to reside a long way from Narcissa, for strangely she had told him not to reveal to anyone that she had survived her death and so he had seen no one but his brother for the last ten days.

“Well, Catherine has just left.” Dominic went straight for the jugular, paused for effect and satisfied to see his brother’s eyes roll, he went on, “She was in a hurry to get back above. Did I tell you that she has asked me to be a guest at the wedding?”

Vincent froze. “No.”

“Didn’t I? Must have slipped my mind with all the other things, anyway, she says she will buy me some clothes so that I do not feel out of place, a suit a shirt and tie she said. I can hardly wait, I have never worn anything but tunnel togs. Oh and by the way, she and Father were discussing the possibility of her coming down here to find you and being accompanied by either myself or Mouse however, those particular plans are on hold until Catherine has had the tests done.”

“Tests?” Vincent regarded his brother with bewilderment.

“Yes, that’s what they said. I must admit I was eavesdropping, Vincent, so I didn’t catch what they were talking about specifically, but when I had a conversation with Father after Catherine had left he mentioned Catherine and children in the plural so one can only assume…”

“Catherine’s pregnant?” Eyes wide-open Vincent spoke the words slowly and with great disbelief.

“Apparently.” Dominic spoke innocently and started piling up the things he had brought as if what he had said was inconsequential, by the by and hadn’t just turned his brother’s world upside down, which he knew exactly he had and loved the fact of it almost to the point of jumping for joy. Restraining himself he straightened from his labours and asked, “How long does one have to be gone before a test can reveal anything like that do you know?” Vincent did know. He’d assisted Father with pregnant women for years yet not being familiar with new technology and testing kits that could be used the morning after conception he told his brother, “At least a month, two to be sure.” His mind was in overdrive…Catherine was pregnant again…with Elliot’s child again…and they had made love while she carried another man’s child? Vincent felt sick. Nausea grabbed his throat and he scrambled to his feet got up and ran to the nearest corner of convenience out of his brother’s sight. While he was gone, Dominic beamed, totally satisfied with his little game, he congratulated himself on how easy it had been. Vincent believed that Catherine was carrying Elliot’s child again, and with that thought firmly established Vincent would likely give her a wide berth and that would so help the rest of his plan.

“Vincent?” Dominic enquired at length, “You alright? Was it something you ate? Did you eat all of that fat ham quickly last time like I suggested?” Vincent said nothing, just continued to retch out of sight.

“I have to go now, Vincent. If you are sure you are all right? I’ll try to come back in another three days, okay?”

Silence met Dominic’s ears but he knew his brother had heard him, and so swinging the empty pack back onto his shoulder Dominic called out be well, and went along his way. He refrained from laughing until he knew he was well out of earshot and then he positively let rip. He laughed and laughed all the way back to the hub, and Mary encountering him on his way back reported to Father that Dominic had so settled into his new home if his cheery disposition was anything to go by. Father readily agreed, however if he had truly known what Dominic’s devious thoughts were about he would surely have had another heart attack.

*** *** ***

There was no reason for Catherine to return before the weekend, she wasn’t pregnant and though she was happy about that she wasn’t certain of Father’s response to her news, whether he would consider it good or bad. So it was with some trepidation that she entered the tunnels at the start of the weekend with little Vincent tucked into a baby harness that she had strapped to her chest. It beat carrying him on one hip as he was growing quiet heavy and she could look into his dear little kitten face as she walked along with him. “Hello you,” she kissed his flat cherub nose and laughed when he squirmed as her hair tickled his face. A small fist found its way from beneath the folds of the shawl wrapped around him and he waved it in front of her face. “I love you sweetheart, do you know that?” Catherine kissed his brow inhaling the glorious baby scent that she had grown to love above anything else. Little Vincent smiled his own unique brand of a smile for his mother and Catherine’s heart was overwhelmed with love for him. How perfect he was, how like his father his sweet leonine face and china blue eyes. Sadness washed over Catherine swift and sudden and tears brimmed in her eyes. Everything was all so tragic and she had no way of knowing what the future held for her and Vincent. It pained her to even think about what he must have been thinking to up and leave her so soon after making love to her and telling her how much he loved her. It was something Catherine just could not get her head around and it was all such a mystery.

Reaching the hub at last, Catherine frowned when the first person she encountered was Dominic. He leaned up one tunnel wall as if he had been expecting someone to come around that final bend at any moment, and Catherine felt a flutter of apprehension run through her when she knew he had to have been waiting for her, since the sentries would have announced her arrival into the tunnels. “Hello Dominic,” Catherine greeted him as merrily as she could. His face lit up at her cheery greeting and he fell into step alongside her, though that part of the tunnels was hardly wide enough for one. He seemed to like that though, their hips rubbing as they walked, and Catherine felt certain that he deliberately leaned toward her more than he ought. Still trying to keep to the light approach Catherine asked him, “How have you been?”

“Good.” Dominic replied without elaborating further.

“Is everyone well?” Catherine had the distinct impression that Dominic’s mind was anywhere but his present position, even though he appeared glad of her arrival.

“As well as can be expected.” Dominic replied again in that flat expressionless tone that had the hairs at the back of Catherine’s neck tingling as they began to rise.

Catherine walked a little faster without trying to appear that she intended to do so, and they had almost reached Father’s chamber when Dominic told her softly, “Catherine, I think I know where Vincent is.” Astounded, Catherine stopped walking and stared at Dominic, their faces in the small tunnel close but not quite touching. Again Catherine was stunned by the blue of his eyes, so like those of his brother’s and the mannerism he had of inclining his head and allowing his hair to fall forward in such an appealing way that her heart turned somersaults.

“Do you?” Catherine could hardly breathe. Dominic nodded, then to Catherine’s amazement took hold of her arm and steered her away from the entrance to Father’s chamber and out of earshot from any within explained, “I haven’t told anyone else. Its just a suspicion, I didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up in case I am wrong.”

“Have you seen him?” Catherine asked stupidly telling herself such since had he seen Vincent he would be sure of his facts.

For a moment Catherine was left with the impression that Dominic was in two minds as to what to say, until finally he told her, “Yes, and spoken with him.”

“You have! How is he? Did he tell you why he ran out on me?” Catherine asked excitedly.

“He’s as well as to be expected, I’ve left him the odd pack of refreshments. He isn’t far would you like me to take you to him?” Alarm bells sounded in Catherine’s head and little Vincent face puckered up as he began to cry. Mouth open wide Catherine suddenly made the startling discovery that her son had a connection with her. He had known of her mistrust and had acted upon it.

“What’s the matter with him?” Dominic asked, “Can’t you shut him up!” Surprised Catherine backed away, and Dominic may have reached out to hold her still, but at that moment the baby’s cries brought Father to his entrance and looking out caught sight of the two of them standing a few yards further down the tunnel. “Catherine!” Father cried overjoyed to see her, “When the sentries announced your arrival and you didn’t show I assumed that half the community had waylaid you on the way in. So how is my little grandson today?” A rush of relief flew through Catherine and leaving Dominic’s side she made her way quickly toward the patriarch of the tunnels, genuinely pleased to see him. “Father, how are you? Well I hope. Yes I was waylaid, by Dominic actually, and we were just talking before I came to see you next.” With Dominic close by Catherine was not about to tell Father what had really been on her mind. There was just too much of Paracelsus in that particular son she decided, and she was happy that Father had unwittingly rescued her from him when he had.

Still walking into the chamber afforded her no escape as Dominic followed her in and without being asked took up the seat that Vincent had once used and would usually be offered to Catherine. Father did not seem to notice as his attention was taken up with his grandson, but the action was not lost on Catherine and little Vincent still living off the vibes coming from his mother looked at Father warily his lips beginning to quiver indicating he would soon cry. “There, there, little one.” Father soothed, “You remember me don’t you? I’m the grouchy old one that loves you to bits.” Catherine smiled, and stole a glance in Dominic’s direction. What she saw gave her rise for concern, that look upon his face…it was Paracelsus all over again. Paracelsus looking straight at Father with the babe in his arms, a look that said ‘jealousy’ and it frightened Catherine to death. Something was awfully amiss, she knew it, but without actually making a scene and confronting Dominic head on, she could hardly accuse him of anything when as far as Father was concerned Dominic just sat in Vincent’s old chair and enjoyed the scene of a grandfather enjoying his baby grandson’s company.

Catherine had an idea, “Dominic was just telling me that he knows where Vincent is.” Dominic’s head swung round and he glared at her as Father remarked, “You do? But that’s marvellous, why didn’t you tell me? How long have you known? Have you seen him?” Recovering quickly yet sending a look Catherine’s way that was anything but friendly, Dominic replied, “I said I think I know where he is, I’m not certain.”

“But you’ve spoken with him, you said so.” Catherine told him sweetly. Whatever game Dominic was playing he wasn’t going to play it with her, that was for sure.

“Have you?” Father asked jubilant, “When?”


“Yesterday? And you never told me!” Father replied indignantly.

“There hasn’t been time.” Dominic replied shifting his large frame around in the chair so that he might look straight at Catherine and dare her to say another thing. His eyes seemed to say, I told you in confidence how dare you tell him? Catherine just looked smug and laughed to herself. She had little intention of keeping secrets in the tunnels especially ones this important.

“Last night when we played chess you could have told me then.” Father replied accusingly. “We even chatted about Vincent, I told you how I missed him, how I fretted for his well being, and you did not even whisper that you knew he was well. That is I take it he is well?”

“Yes, and I’m sorry but I promised him I would tell no one of his whereabouts. It is his decision to stay away, you have to understand that.”

Catherine launched another attack, “Even so, ten minutes ago you were willing to take me to him.”

“You are different. Vincent would want to see you.” Dominic shifted again, this time uncomfortably. He’d heard about Catherine Chandler’s line of questioning, she was quick and sharp and on the ball.

“Even so, if he would wish to see me, why is he hiding away from me at all? It doesn’t make sense. Tell you what, why don’t you go down and tell him to come up and see me. I shall be here all weekend.”

“Good idea!” Father exclaimed, “Better still take Mouse with you, Vincent I am sure will be delighted to see his old friend, and it will do Mouse the world of good. That boy hasn’t smiled since Jamie returned.”

“No!” Catherine exclaimed. She could not explain her refusal for Mouse to accompany Dominic, only that Father’s suggestion had brought a big smile to Dominic’s face, and something told her that it would be dangerous for Mouse to go with him.

Father looked at her strangely as did Dominic, but the difference in their gazes was one of puzzlement and the other of downright annoyance. “I don’t mind taking Mouse with me, if he’ll come.” Dominic told Father then to Catherine directed the question, “Why would you be against such a thing, Catherine?”

Flustered, Catherine wished Dominic would go and leave her and Father to chat at peace, but she felt that was highly unlikely. Dominic had a reason for whatever game he was playing and part of his plans was to keep between herself and Father as much as he could, that was for certain. “Mouse doesn’t know you very well, and he is a loner, its possible he knows where Vincent is already.” They all knew the impossibility of that. Mouse was useless at keeping secrets unless they concerned something he had done, and he would be too excited to keep the news of Vincent’s whereabouts to himself. It was a weak argument and Dominic knew it but it was enough to convince him that Catherine was suspicious of his motives for agreeing to take the young man Mouse down to see Vincent. “It doesn’t matter. In all fairness I should seek Vincent out first, ask his opinion on visitors.” Dominic got out of that one easily enough and Father agreed to Catherine’s satisfaction. She knew that she would have time to warn Mouse and any of the others, to give Dominic a wide berth and to go nowhere with him no matter how sweetly he invited. And that reminded Catherine of something else, “By the way Dominic, my friends are getting married next weekend. If you can make time in the week we should find your attire for the occasion, unless you would rather go by yourself.” Catherine crossed her fingers and prayed, but Dominic shook his head, “I have no idea where to look and as I said before no money to call my own.”

“I’ve been looking into that.” Catherine surprised him as she fished into her purse, “You’ll be delighted to know that your father left you very wealthy. I have here details of the safety deposit box where he kept his gold bars and I took the liberty of having his funds released to you just as soon as you can go above and stake your claim. You will need some identification of course, and as I knew that would be a little difficult I took a leaf out of Devin’s book and arranged a few documents that will be ready for collection on Monday.” Catherine winked at Father, who exclaimed, “Catherine, you didn’t!” Catherine chuckled, “Well its not as if he isn’t Paracelsus’s son is it, he just needed documentation to claim what is rightfully his.”

“And Vincent’s.” Dominic reminded her as if he needed to, then added “Whose Devin?”

“To answer you first question,” Catherine told him, “Vincent is unlikely to ever be able to go above and stake his claim on Paracelsus’s treasure, though if you wish you can bring half to him here, and as to your second question…Father?” Catherine appealed to the older man.

“Devin is my other son. My natural son, he lives above and visits rarely.”

“Oh.” Dominic was a little peeved that no one had felt fit to tell him of this brother’s existence before. “How old is he?”

“Four years your senior. He and Vincent are very close.” Father told Dominic sincerely, his eyes misting over as he remembered some of the boys' escapades from the past. He would never have said it then but now he found he could, those were truly the days. Days that would not come again, unless…his eyes lit up…”Catherine have you any news for me?” The question was completely lost on Dominic and Catherine reluctant to answer shook her head hoping that Father would not elaborate. He didn’t, “Oh.” Was all he said and the sadness that etched across his face was unmistakable.

“Something I should know about?” Dominic asked rudely.

For once Father detected the other man’s nosiness and both he and Catherine snapped together, “No!”

Quietly Dominic fumed. How dare they keep things from him? Whatever the news had been that Father had expected he had been in great anticipation of it and had been obviously very sad when none was forthcoming. It infuriated Dominic not to know what it was.

“Well dear I expect you are eager to rest and Mary I am sure will be delighted to see this little one, so if you do not mind I will go visit with her now. I believe the guest chamber is ready for your stay, will I see you at dinner, or shall I have William bring a tray to you?”

“Actually Father” Catherine stood with him, “I’d like to visit Mary myself. I’ll come with you.” Then making it plain that he was dismissed Catherine turned to Dominic and as sweetly as she could muster told him, “We’ll see you at dinner will we Dominic?”

With a curt nod, Dominic rose and strode out of the chamber, causing Father to look after him with a bemused look on his face, “My!” He exclaimed, “Lord knows what’s got into that one, he was alright until you arrived. You haven’t had words have you?”

Catherine didn’t like to say neither was she certain that Dominic had really left, so she did the only thing open to her. Pushing Father back into his chair she took a sheet of paper and began writing in front of him a note that said, “Say nothing as I write this. Just read. Father, I’m concerned about Dominic and afraid. Try not to trust him as much as you do, there is something not quite right but I cannot explain what it is. Just believe me when I say that he worries me.”

Reading the note Father looked up at Catherine and found that she was deadly serious, her eyes spoke of her concern and her face was pinched with worry. Father picked up the pen, and hastily wrote, “Alright my dear, I have no reason to disbelieve you and though he's acted a little odd at times I have seen nothing to make me mistrust him…yet.” He looked up at Catherine and saw her nod, then she took the sheet of paper and screwing it into a ball threw it into the rubbish bin just to one side of Father’s desk then together they rose, Catherine helping the old man to his feet and helping him from the other exit of his chamber, the one that would take them via Vincent’s chamber toward Mary’s.

A few minutes after they had gone, Dominic re-entered the chamber picked up the note from the bin, read it and screwing it back up again, tossed it into the bin with such ferocity that it knocked the plastic bin right over onto its side. Then and only then did he stride from the chamber and exit the tunnel completely. He was headed where only he knew and with a mind filled with animosity and deviousness.

*** *** ***

Chapter Sixteen

Nothing untoward happened over the weekend, except that they rarely saw Dominic nor was he missed. Little Vincent gave the tunnel dwellers more than their fair share of joy and Catherine was more than happy to have her little one taken care of, while she got some much needed rest. Being a working mother with an endless trek to make each Friday night from her home to the hub was a little more than Catherine was able to manage and Joe seemed fit to using her in making up for the lost time she wasn’t working.

Still by Sunday evening as she said her goodbyes, and left a message for Dominic to meet her up top the following day to arrange for his meeting with the bank manager and a day spent shopping for clothes, he suddenly appeared and announced quite openly that he had spent the weekend with Vincent. When Father heard this he was a little annoyed, “Why did you not tell me that you were going to see him?” He blurted as Dominic related how Vincent was keeping.

“I wasn’t certain that I was.” Dominic lied. “I ventured to the area where I had last seen him, and there he was. He’s keeping well, and just in case I did find him again I took him some refreshments.”

“Well I’m pleased about that, but if he had nothing he would be forced to return to us. Why doesn’t he? That’s what I can’t understand? Catherine is here his son is here, yet he seems content to stay away, and if none of those reasons weren’t good enough what about me hm? Or Mary or any other of the tunnel occupants, they are his family and they would love to have him back among us. Next time you go Dominic, will you take a letter from me, and make certain that he reads it?”

“I’ll certainly take it, whether or not he will read it remains to be seen. I’m sorry to say that Vincent appears to be quite happy living where he is, and doesn’t appear to want to return. I was even contemplating making my home down there with him so that we could be together.” Dominic looked around the chamber trying to assess what that piece of information did to everyone. There was a mixture of expressions, but in the main he was given the general impression that none of them relished that idea. “Vincent should be here, and you, Dominic you should be here also. This is your home now, among people that are coming to like and respect you.” Even though he said it Father couldn’t quite meet Dominic’s eyes, and neither did he meet Catherine’s. He might say such things, but after what Catherine had told him, he wasn’t entirely sure that he should mean them. Dominic however didn’t seem to notice, just replied ‘thank you’ and went on, “Well tomorrow I have to go up top with Catherine, and this weekend it’s the wedding, so I expect the only chance I will have to see my brother will be Wednesday. I shall stay over for the night and return on Thursday, so anything that you need to write best be done before then.”

“Right.” Father replied. Then turning in his seat directed his next question at Catherine, “And you my dear, if there is anything you would like taken down to him, feel free to have it sent to me by Tuesday night at the latest.” Catherine nodded, but she knew that anything she had to say to Vincent would best be done face to face, for certainly she would not trust Dominic as a mediator.

“I’d best be going now, Father.” Catherine rose from her seat gathering her baby bags around her and her own weekend pack, little Vincent needed far more things than she did over two days and there were several bags to carry. Dominic rose too offering to escort her, but Father noticing how uneasy that offer made Catherine told him, “Thank you Dominic, but young Geoffrey looks forward to escorting Catherine home.” He smiled Catherine’s way and she laughed, “Yes, something about the delicious hot chocolate I make with fresh cream on top and a television programme he has become interested in makes Geoffrey’s journey back with me quite appealing.”

“In that case, Dominic gestured his intention to leave, “I will see you tomorrow, shall I come to your home or would you prefer to meet me somewhere up top?”

“If you can tell me what time you might be arriving into the park I could have a taxi pick you up from there and take you to the bank where I can be waiting outside. I didn’t give a definite time to the bank manager, but shall we say eleven o’clock, would that be enough time for you to get to the park?” Catherine asked. She wasn’t relishing the following day out with Dominic, but the least time she spent alone with him the better, and in a public place she would feel happier meeting him.

“Yes, eleven will be fine. I’ll wait on the corner by the lake. You know near the statue? What name will you give him to ask for?”

“Good question. What name do you wish to be known by?”

Father listening in was just about to suggest Wells, when Dominic stunned him by replying without hesitation, “Oh Pater of course, after all that is my name. Come to that it is Vincent’s rightful name also. You should set about having it changed from the name of Wells.” Father almost died. He could hardly breathe and certainly could find nothing to say at the time, but Catherine stepped in, “That would be true had Vincent not been legally adopted by Father, and given the name of Wells, and with no rightful parents to contest the adoption, Wells it will stay unless Vincent wishes otherwise.”

Father remained silent, Catherine he knew, was bluffing there had never been a legal adoption for Vincent. Believing him to be a foundling had made that unnecessary. Still Dominic did not know that and he believed it hook, line and sinker, even so he replied, “Then I must speak to my brother, have him seek the way to change his name. He is a Pater, and my father would be proud to know that he finally became one, so too any children that are born from Vincent.” Dominic looked directly at Catherine as he said this, and she snapped hotly, “Over my dead body!” The look that Dominic passed her seemed to implicate that would not be a problem, and Catherine shuddered as she noticed those eyes again, the ones so reminiscent of Vincent’s and so like Paracelsus, it was uncanny and exceedingly alarming how they could resemble two people like that, two very different people, even though they were father and son. Catherine decided there and then that Vincent must have taken after Anna, with her mild and gentle spirit and perhaps from time to time the wild and wicked streak of his father dominated Vincent when he would become associated with the dark one, it was the perfect answer to the person that Vincent was. Dominic appeared to have inherited his mother’s gentle nature but Catherine wondered how much of that was just a ploy to gain the trust of innocent people that he could manipulate at will later just the way his father had done countless times.

Father however, came to Catherine’s defence this time, “Actually Catherine has a point Dominic, as long as she and Vincent remain unmarried she can give the child any name that she chooses she doesn’t even have to have his father named on the birth certificate.”

“I expect that by now, you have had his birth registered, and it will show the father’s name?” Dominic asked. Catherine wanted to shout ‘what business is it of yours?’ but instead sensing a trap whichever way she replied opted for the lesser one and the truth, “Actually no, I haven’t. To all intents and purposes I do not have this child. It would pose all kinds of problems if I should let the authorities and my work colleagues and friends know I have a child and they never get to see him. Only Elliot and Jenny are aware of his existence as well as everyone down here. But if I could have him registered I would of named Vincent as his father.”

Strangely Dominic said nothing, his eyes however told Catherine that he was thinking very deeply about things, and that unnerved her further giving her the distinct impression that what she had told him had pleased him, though she could not for the life of her decide why. Finally she sighed deeply, “Anyway, all this is by the by, and I really must be getting home. I will meet you at the bank tomorrow Dominic, dress for the occasion as best you can okay?” With that she walked across to Father and kissed him goodbye, the after he had bestowed a final few kisses to his grandson’s cheeks Father watched her leave the chamber where Geoffrey waited anxiously outside, knowing if they didn’t hurry he would miss the start of his favourite programme. Dominic left also, parting company with Catherine outside in the tunnel and heading in the direction of his chamber. For a few moments more Catherine watched him go and then deciding she would never really fathom him out, she walked along with Geoffrey who carried her bags and together they headed for her home.

*** *** ***

With the final weekend now gone Vincent picked up his journal ready to close a chapter in his life. ‘This time next week Catherine will be married to Elliot’ he wrote and paused trying to imagine what her life would be like then. It wasn’t difficult, for what he knew of Elliot Burch told him that he like Catherine enjoyed the glittering world of social gatherings and Catherine in a myriad of poses wearing all manner of stunning ball gowns flitted to mind. Strangely the thought was appealing, and Vincent remembered the many gowns he had already admired her in, wondering if she still possessed those particular gowns or if Elliot had treated her to a new wardrobe by now, with new jewellery to match. In turn that led him to wonder about the engagement ring Elliot would have bought for her, no crystal from a subterranean world that, likely it would be a diamond’s are forever cluster that signified Elliot’s love for his bride to be. Then putting down his pen Vincent wondered what Catherine’s thoughts were at that moment, and if she thought about him anymore finally deciding that Catherine was probably far too busy to think of much at all except her upcoming marriage to Elliot Burch.

It was strange though, how Catherine had turned to Elliot, had borne him a child and had agreed to marry him, especially when in between Vincent reasoned she had made love with him twice each time declaring undying love for him. Perhaps Dominic had been right, perhaps Catherine’s marriage to Elliot was for the sake of the child only and both would allow infidelity to take place within their marriage with other people as they saw fit. Vincent didn’t hold with such a modern marriage and he never believed that Catherine would either, still mistakes had a way of changing things, and it was possible that their child was the only thing holding the couple together. His thoughts then were directed to his making love to Catherine, and wondering if she might expect that to continue. It was possible that with her social status and marriage to Elliot and with her professed love for him, she might visit the tunnels regularly hoping that they could continue to have an intimate relationship, and strange Vincent did not find that as bad as he thought he might except once he did decide to return to the hub any time that Catherine stayed over would make it harder and harder to let her go back to Elliot at the end of the weekend. And there was another thing, what if, during his absence from the hub something had happened whereby Catherine had promised Elliot she would marry him if he didn’t do such or such a thing, as had happened before with the building of Elliot’s dream tower. He had refused her offer then, but would he a second time? If such things were so, it would throw a completely new light on what Catherine was about to do, but if she was marrying out of some kind of misguided duty to the tunnels, then why hadn’t Dominic enlightened him of it? It was possible his brother didn’t know what root lay at the bottom of Catherine’s marriage to Elliot, but Vincent was certain if the tunnels were in trouble at Elliot’s hand then surely Dominic would have mentioned it?

Vincent might have concluded all manner of things regarding the upcoming wedding of the year of Manhattan’s most eligible bachelor and the only daughter of the late Charles Chandler before the day was out, but just as he was beginning to update his journal further the sound of footsteps were heard in the tunnel beyond his new chamber. Pen poised mid air, Vincent expected at any moment to see his brother striding through the entrance though he did not expect him until mid week, and was therefore stunned when not the tall figure of Dominic appeared but rather a figure stooped low and huddled into a shawl that Vincent instantly recognised as being Narcissa.

She stared when she clapped eyes on him even though her dreams had told her that he would be there, she had hoped on the long journey up that she would be mistaken, and as he rose to greet her, she cried, “Child why are you here?”

“Narcissa, come sit. The way is long you should not have made such a journey. I would have come to you, you only need to send word?”

“By whom?” Narcissa asked derisively, “Do you think your brother would have carried it? A brother that doesn’t even know I am still alive? Do you think anyone from the tunnels would have delivered a message from a ghost, hum?” She laughed and Vincent did too, of course no one but he knew her to be alive. “I’m sorry Narcissa, of course there is no way of you and I contacting one another unless one of us makes the journey, and I fear I have neglected my duties in that way. Forgive me, is there anything that you need?”

“Everything!” Narcissa exclaimed, “I have run out of everything, and since seeing me would cause a great deal of stress, I decided to leave the telling of that particular news to you, young man. I take it you will report to the father for me, that I have escaped the grave?” She chuckled but her face became sombre when she noticed Vincent’s expression. “Is there a problem, child?”

“Yes. Narcissa I haven’t seen Father since before he pronounced me dead and lay me in the grave.”

“You mean you haven’t returned to the hub, still?”

“I have returned, but saw no one but Catherine, that is no one but Catherine saw me. Dominic, of course knows I am here, but that is all. What? Why the look, Narcissa? Is something wrong.” Narcissa’s face seemed disapproving when he had mentioned his brother’s name.

“I don’t trust Dominic.” She told him sincerely, “I know I should not speak ill of your brother, but Vincent, he is different to you. He has more of his father in him, you should be careful that’s all I say.”

Vincent was surprised, Dominic had been nothing but kind to him, except in those first days, but then that was to be expected, since Dominic had no alternative but to fabricate an amazing story in order to have Vincent stay with him and Vincent had long forgiven him for that.

“It is not your brother I came to talk to you about though,” Narcissa sat at the nearest chair, “I wish to talk about you. You should not be here Vincent, you should be above with Catherine.”

Shaking his head, Vincent replied, “No, Narcissa. Catherine is getting married at the weekend to Elliot Burch, so there is no reason for me to return for Catherine’s sake.”

Narcissa was surprised and said so, “My visions have not revealed this to me. I saw Elliot yes, marrying yes, but not Catherine, it is not Catherine that will become his bride, child it is another woman. The one with dark hair.”

“No Narcissa you are mistaken. Dominic has been invited to the wedding even today he and Catherine are shopping for clothes for him to wear on Saturday he is to be one of her guests he told me so.”

Adamantly, Narcissa shook her head, “It is you that is wrong Vincent. Believe me, Catherine is marrying no one, except maybe you.”

“I wish that were so.” Vincent replied sadly, “But wishing will not make it happen. Catherine will marry the father of her child and that is all there is to it.”

“That is what I said.” Narcissa told him. “Catherine will marry the father of her child, why do you try to trip me with riddles, child?”

Exasperated Vincent gazed at the old woman trying to work her out. What had just been said made little sense, and he felt that perhaps she was just so tired from the long journey and possibly from famine that she didn’t know what she was saying. “Here, Narcissa have some of the refreshments Dominic brought for me yesterday. There is ham and cheese, bread, and we can heat up some broth. You must be hungry and then you can rest while I go in search of some more provisions for you. Its possible I can get in and out of William’s store without him noticing. I always could before.”

Narcissa chuckled, “That would be most appreciated, child. Will you carry the supplies back to my chamber too?”

“Of course Narcissa, that goes without saying, I may even stay a few days. If Dominic comes in my absence he will leave the supplies and return again on Sunday when I will be back, or I may stay with you longer.” Vincent had a sudden thought Dominic would be bringing news of the wedding with him when he came on Sunday, and Vincent knew he didn’t want to hear about it, not right now. Perhaps not ever, it was bad enough imagining it happening, let alone knowing that it had.

“As you like child, you are more than welcome.” Narcissa broke a chunk of bread from a loaf and spreading it with butter plonked on top a large slice of sweet cheese. Her smile of satisfaction pleased Vincent. “You stay here and keep warm, eat all you need and I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Narcissa nodded, but said nothing, her concentration taken up on eating. She was starved it had been two days since she had eaten the last stale crust of bread in her chamber one of the reasons why she didn’t want people presuming she was dead any longer. With no way of contacting Vincent, she was literally on her own down there, and though she liked her own company, it was quite another knowing that no one knew that she was there to keep an eye on her and to keep her supplied with stores. Vincent had gone before she had reminded him of that, and so Narcissa wished that he would remember to tell someone that she had survived with a kind of telepathy that she had used in the past, but something told her as of late, so too now, Vincent’s mind was blocking her. He was one troubled spirit and Narcissa could easily see that. Perhaps a week spent in her company would change all of that, or more to the point perhaps a week spent out of Dominic’s company would change all of that.

*** *** ***

Shortly after eleven thirty, the taxi pulled up outside the bank as arranged, and stepping from the back passenger seat, Catherine gasped at the sight of Dominic, again so reminiscent of Vincent that her heart lurched, but though she had expected that it might, to actually see those long tawny locks beneath bright summer sunshine was almost too much for her. Oh how she wished he were Vincent, and to top it all close by was an ice cream stall, and she was forcibly reminded of the dream she had had long ago and of she and Vincent buying ice cream and no one looking twice at him. Oh if only Dominic was Vincent, or if only Vincent looked like his brother, life was the puts sometimes. Why oh why had the most beautiful one been the one to be different and have so many things denied him? Why could it not have been Dominic who looked like a beast? Dominic who resided in darkness would have been at home underground even if forced to do so.

Even so, despite her thoughts Catherine managed a smile and a welcome, as she ushered Dominic through the huge automatic doors of the bank surprising a chuckle from herself at his stunned look of amazement to find the doors opening before him as he stood on the step outside. “Wow,” he told her, “I like that!”

“My world is full of surprises Dominic, I tend to take them for granted. Its only when I see them through the eyes of someone like you, that I appreciate just what we do have up here. Come, the manager’s office is on the first floor, I rang him earlier and he is expecting us.” Catherine deliberately took Dominic to the escalator anticipating his response to that, and he was stunned so much that he found it difficult actually stepping onto the moving staircase, until Catherine grabbed his arm and tugged him to stand on it. He kept looking back and holding on for dear life, and it made Catherine laugh out loud deciding that maybe she might enjoy a day out in his company after all.

The meeting with the bank was straightforward. Dominic hadn’t given it much thought but he was surprised when everything was done after a few well-placed signatures. He was then handed some documents and using Catherine’s address as his own, the manager told him that he would be receiving a chequebook and a personal identification number separately within seven working days. That done, coming down the escalator was even funnier to Catherine than going up had been, and absolutely impossible and there was no way Dominic was riding down on that, until Catherine again tugged him very forcibly and made him do so. She thought he would laugh when he saw how easy it actually was, and so when they got to the bottom and he recovered enough to speak, Catherine was surprised to hear him tell her, “Never do that again!”

“What?” She smiled laughing just a little, “What do you mean?”

“You pulled me onto the thing.” His eyes were mere slits of china fire and Catherine felt a shudder run through her. “You’re joking right?” She asked nervously, and Dominic shook his head. “I told you I didn’t want to use it, and you ignored me!”

“Only because there is nothing to it, Dominic. As you saw, you were perfectly safe. Nothing untoward has happened to you, and I’m sorry but unless you get over the fear of riding the escalator now, the rest of the day will be an absolute waste of time, since all the stores have this mode of transport to upper floors, well there’s the elevator, but I thought you might find them a little claustrophobic to use.” Under her breath Catherine added ‘and to me in your company.’

“In that case, I apologise.” Dominic told her, “I did not realise we would encounter any others. Shall we go? I’m eager to buy some clothes.” And that was well proven when hours later he and Catherine had purchased two suits several shirts and complimentary ties and some new sweatshirts and jeans a pair of which he told her would be for Vincent.

“I’d like to buy so much for Vincent,” Catherine told him, “But Vincent would never allow me to spend my money on him. Perhaps when you get your chequebook and access to your account, you could give him enough money for himself, then you could buy things for him and he wouldn’t feel quite so bad about accepting them.” Dominic was silent for a time, pretending to be concerned with counting the money he had left from his shopping spree from the thousand dollars the bank manager had kindly allowed him to withdraw that morning. Finally he told Catherine, “I’ve spoken to Vincent about that. He did not seem to like the idea of having anything to do with our father’s money. In fact he was quite nasty about it.”

Catherine nodded, yes she could understand that Parcelsus held no love for Vincent, she should have known he would never except anything from his so called father but she said nothing on the subject, knowing not what to say, instead asking if he would like to go somewhere to eat. They hadn’t stopped spending since they had left the bank at midday and Catherine for one was starving and so they embarked upon another delight for Dominic…hamburgers and fries!

“Oh this is delicious!” Dominic took another huge bit from a double cheeseburger and reached for a handful of fries, “How can you sit there and eat that stuff?” He asked looking critically at Catherine’s plate of salad with a baked jacket potato covered in grated cheese. “I like it and besides, if I ate hamburgers, my clothes wouldn’t fit by tomorrow. I don’t have time for keeping fit like I used to do. Once the park was a favourite jaunt of mine for jogging and I rarely have time for the gym these days. Little Vincent is very time consuming.”

“What will you do with him on Saturday? Leave him with Father?”

“Oh yes absolutely actually I will leave him from Friday night, I promised to help Jenny with her preparations Saturday morning at her house. I probably won’t see my son until Sunday morning. Where shall I meet you on Saturday, shall I send a car to the park again?”

“Yes, thank you. The wedding is at twelve is it not?”

“Yes, but you should arrive by eleven thirty at the latest. The church will be packed but you have a seat reserved near the front. Jenny told me to tell you that you are welcome to attend the reception after ward, the food will be delicious, though I have to warn you there will be no hamburgers there.”

Dominic grimaced, “Then perhaps I will not enjoy it.” Catherine thought he was joking but he looked deadly serious and told him, “there will be some wonderful food, Elliot will go out of his way to make certain of that, you will love whatever is on offer.”

“Even so, I may only stay a short while, or I may leave after the wedding. All this is new to me Catherine, and I am sure I will be more than a little overwhelmed.” Catherine nodded, “As you like, but know that you are welcome whatever you decide.”

“Thank you Catherine. Now, what is this I see on the menu, can I have one of those too?”

“You can fit it in?” Catherine laughed, “Well yes if you are still hungry. With the way you wolfed that lot down I’d have had indigestion by now. Hold on.” Catherine raised her hand thus catching the waitresses attention and when she came over to the table, Dominic pointed to the chocolate sundae on the menu and asked for the largest one they had. Then when it was served, Catherine felt sick just watching him eat it, and he still wasn’t done. A round of cherry pancakes fresh and ice cream later Dominic finally lay down his napkin and admitted defeat. “I’m stuffed.” He told a delighted waitress who reminded him of their opening hours and suggested he soon called again. “I might just do that.” He told her grinning then turning to Catherine asked, “Did I imagine it or did she just wink at me?”

Catherine laughed out loud, “You didn’t imagine it, I think you’ve scored a hit with that one Dominic.” And who could blame the woman, Dominic was very good looking and like Vincent in many ways but his looks, exceedingly charming and endearing to those that met him. The waitress was indeed hooked as she passed Dominic her telephone number written on a small card on their way out.

“I might just call her one evening.” Dominic announced as he placed the slim card in his jacket pocket, “Bout time I had a date.”

The rest of the day went easily enough, and Catherine lost her distrust of Dominic. He gave her no more cause for concern and finally when she bundled his parcels into a taxi he had just stepped into they parted on good terms promising to meet on the Saturday if not before and Dominic held out a hand to her over his bags of shopping before closing the back door of the cab. “Thank you Catherine, I have truly enjoyed today.”

“Likewise. Be Well Dominic.”

“Be Well, Catherine.” Then to the driver announced, “Central Park, please. The scenic route.”

Catherine laughed out loud and together they waved at one another as the taxi pulled away. “Well that wasn’t so bad Cathy.” She told herself as she headed toward her brownstone. “Perhaps you have got Dominic all wrong.” And with that thought in mind, Catherine dismissed everything she had surmised about the man from previous occasions and started looking forward to the weekend more than she had since he had told her he would be delighted to come to Elliot and Jenny’s wedding.

*** *** ***

Home at last, back in the tunnels, Dominic reflected on his day. He had enjoyed Catherine’s company far more than he had anticipated and due to the ease with which they had fallen into one another’s company Catherine had told him things he had wanted desperately to know without his even fishing for them. Dominic was happy. This weekend he would have everything that he had ever wanted. In just a few days more his lifetime’s ambition would be realised. Dominic smiled cunningly and believing his father could see everything still, Dominic whispered softly, “Anytime now father, you’ll see. I’ll make you so proud of me and I will not fail where you did so many times. I promise father, before this time next week, I will have brought home the son of your son and I promise you this…never ever will anyone take him away from us.”

*** *** ***

Chapter Seventeen

Reminiscing on how easy it had been to snatch items of food from Williams’ store Vincent helped Narcissa to carry her wares down to her chamber later that day. It had always been easy to fool William, but it came as a surprise to find that William had ceased locking the store since he, Vincent assumed, had not been around to raid it. Vincent chuckled well after today William would indeed be turning that lock with the key again, especially as Vincent had thought fit to pin a note saying ‘thank you William’ on the inside of the door in his own familiar flowing handwriting, and of course signed with a V. That had been one of the reasons he had taken so much this time, and he and Narcissa’s arms were loaded and they had to keep stopping to rest.

Narcissa chuckled as she lay her bags down, “I think William will be raising the roof tonight, child.” Thinking along the same lines, Vincent laughed out loud, “Well I’m only taking what I would have been entitled to had I of been there. You too Narcissa, they have saved food that would have been intended for the both of us of late, they shouldn’t need to complain.”

“But they will not see it that way.” Narcissa laughed with him, then asked the burning question, “Did you tell the father that I am alive and well?”

“No Narcissa, I encountered no one and it did not seem right to leave a note about something so important as that. I have a bit more thinking to do, Narcissa after which I shall probably return, and then I will tell them about you.”

“Well child you are welcome to stay with me as long as you like, but I fear the winds of change might take you back sooner than anticipated. Your path has three directions now Vincent and I hope that you take the correct one, but I fear that you will take the one that will not bring you happiness."

“And of the other two?” Vincent asked as he picked up the food bags once again intent on making the last part of the journey while he deemed Narcissa fresh enough to take it, for she would soon be in need of refreshment again.

“One will bring you a merit of happiness the other will bring you more happiness than you have ever known but it will also mean great changes on your part and an acceptance of the only way things can be.”

“The only happiness for me now Narcissa is to be with Catherine, alas that will never happen now.”

“Catherine will marry the father of her child, Vincent. Then you will be happy.” Unable to brush away his tears Vincent let them fall but he said nothing. Narcissa kept making reference to that and it pained him, did she not know it? Only this time what she had added on confused him. How could he be happy if Catherine was married to Elliot?

Dismissing it as another of Narcissa’s riddles, he started up a conversation about other people that they knew and very soon he had steered Narcissa away from that particular topic, and finally they reached her chamber just before what would have been nightfall up top. It had been a long time since Vincent had been above, not since he last went to Catherine’s apartment. He would never go there again, since he knew that she had moved into a brownstone, another regret of his, and another closure of a chapter in their lives. She knew how much he loved being on that balcony with her over looking the lights of the city. It had been their special place and now it was lost to them forever, like so many of the things they had shared. Narcissa sensed his sadness but said nothing, just busied herself putting away her wares and intent on making a brew of fresh tea.

“You may sleep on that cot over there, child. There are some more blankets in the drawer underneath if you are cold. I will teach you many things while you are here.”

Vincent smiled, he thought as much, Narcissa had spent years teaching him her magic and helping him understand her riddles, even so when she reminded him of the recent one, he felt saddened to the point of nausea, why could she not let it drop? Why was it so important that she keep mentioning it?

“You should return on the weekend child, Catherine must marry the father of her child and she will need you.”

“No Narcissa, Catherine will not be needing me, any weekend and certainly not this one, she has more other important plans for this weekend.”

“The wedding, yes? Catherine will attend the wedding child, and then she will need you.”

So it was as he had surmised then? Catherine was to marry Elliot Burch in a marriage of convenience and then she would return to the tunnels to pick up her relationship with him. Vincent didn’t know how he felt about that, it was possible that Catherine having the best of both worlds could find it acceptable, but Vincent wasn’t certain that he could, even so, as he remembered the love making that they had shared his skin began to tingle and he found it difficult not to become aroused. Catherine had unleashed the beast in him, and not the one that he had always believed would be unleashed. This one wanted to love her for eternity come what may, even perhaps if she was married to another man. But why oh why, did that other man have to be that man? For Vincent knew he would never be able to accept that out of all the men there was on the earth Catherine had married the one with the name that grated on his nerves the most, a king in her world, Elliot Burch.

*** *** ***

On his way to visit with his brother two days later Dominic’s mind was in a whirl. Less then four days later he proposed to be leaving the tunnels for ever and making his home back in the subterranean world he had known all his life, the thing was how could he possibly instigate it so that he took with him not only the baby but the baby’s father also? That would be a little harder to arrange, and without bait perhaps impossible. One of the reasons he had hoped that the fellow Mouse would visit his brother with him so that on their return he could capture the fellow, and either by using his earlier deception or by using some other ensure that the boy Mouse stayed below with him and in time would become a captive with which to lure Vincent back to his world. Of course he could use the baby, but until he had that child exactly where he wanted, he did not want Vincent aware of the fact that the baby was his. Neither could he take the child and return for Vincent because that would mean leaving the child by itself. So pondering what he was to do, Dominic was distressed to find Vincent missing from the chamber on his arrival, and after waiting an hour for him and not have him return Dominic left the provisions he had taken with him and returned back to the hub with the letter that Father had asked him to leave with Vincent. His intention had been never to give it to his brother anyway, that would have complicate already complicated matters. In none of his planning did Dominic consider Catherine, believing that she was expecting another of Vincent’s children, he had already decided that she like his father would have to sacrifice one of her children in order to balance what was lost from the beginning. Just as Jesus had to balance what Adam had lost for all mankind, so too the kidnapping of one of her children would balance out the wrong done by a past generation.

Walking back to the hub Dominic went over his plans for the weekend. He would attend the wedding, then while Catherine went to the reception he would return to the tunnels, tell whomsoever looked after the baby that Catherine had asked him to take the child up to her brownstone and instead take the child down to his subterranean world where he had grown up and where the child, reminiscent of his brother by his leonine face would also grow up. He would work on bringing Vincent back another time, for now nothing must cloud his thinking of the first half of his plan. So close now, Dominic could hardly contain his joy, just four more days…four more days and a lifetime’s expectation would be realised he could hardly wait.

*** *** ***

Saturday proved bright and clear with wall to wall sunshine bringing an extra sparkle to Catherine’s friend Jenny, who could not contain the joy that she felt. “Oh Cathy, to think I have you to thank for all of this! If you hadn’t of known Elliot, or if you hadn’t of allowed him to stay at your apartment we might never of met, well not in such an uncomplicated way at any rate. He and I rubbed shoulders a time or two in the past but we never stopped to talk, he was just there, or I was just there and that was that. But being able to get to know him like that first night in your apartment…well that was something else. I can tell you, Cathy, I have never fallen in love so fast in my life and when he kissed me…oh all my dreams came true. I saw the identity of the man of my dreams for the first time ever. And that reminds me…how are you and Vincent doing?”

“There is no me and Vincent. Nothing has changed from the last time I spoke to you. He remains hiding away from the hub with some misguiding notion no doubt that even after making love to me he still cannot accept me in his life.” Bitterness touched Catherine’s reply, leaving Jenny sad, but only for a moment. “That’s so strange, honey, I still have happy ever after dreams of you two.”

“Well they’re a long time coming true Jen. I really don’t know what to do about him anymore. If it were simply a case of going down to find him and drag him back screaming I’d do it, but I fear it goes far deeper than that. Vincent has to work through whatever hang up he has now, and nothing I do will hurry along smoothing it out, until he’s done it. I know Vincent of old, there is no hurrying him, Jen.”

“What about Dominic, can’t he do something?” Jenny asked as she finished dressing. Elliot had arranged for her to have a makeover and she was donning old clothes that could be taken off by stepping out of them, nothing that had to be pulled over her head and ruin her hair that was being done after her makeup was applied. She’d opted to have it piled on her head with little ringlets cascading down to her nape and held in place with a diamond-studded tiara.

“I’m not entirely certain I trust Dominic with anything let alone something as important as this. He’s a strange fellow Jenny, although on Monday I saw a side to him that made a mockery of all the doubts I’ve had about him. He was absolute fun to be with and I’m quite looking forward to seeing him at your wedding doesn’t that sound contradictory?” Catherine asked as she lovingly touched the silk of Jenny’s gown hanging behind the door and covered by a soft plastic gown bag. “You are going to look like a fairy in this Jen, its gorgeous.”

“No not contradictory, just uncertain of what to believe regarding him. Its usually the same when getting to know new people, we all have to be on our best behaviour, lest we say something out of place or something that might offend.”

“Same is true of the other party though, and while Dominic has been on his best behaviour, there has also been a time or two when he has left me feeling decidedly awkward, but like I said that was before he ventured above and let me see the real man that he probably is. I liked what I saw Jen, maybe your dreams were of him and not Vincent?”

Though Catherine joked about it, Jenny was serious, “No, Cathy. Until I knew for certain I might have agreed, but I always see you with a man with a leonine face, I know its Vincent, and you are happy Cathy, very, very happy. It’ll come good you’ll see, just have faith my friend.”

“I’ll try, now come along lets go and get you made up for your big day there’s only four hours to go, Jen.” The two girls hugged one another, four more hours and Jenny would become Mrs Jennifer Burch. Jenny couldn’t wait.

*** *** ***

The taxi arrived as promised and Dominic with butterflies in his stomach for everything but the coming wedding sat in the back and the driver took him to the designated church. It was as well they arrived early for already the street around about the church was full of cars, and a huge crowd of reporters were talking to anyone that would speak to them about anything revolving around Elliot Burch. “I’ve met him.” Dominic said as he was encountered by a pair of journalists waiting outside the church, “he’s a great guy.” Immediately they jumped on him, asking all manner of questions that Dominic took delight in answering to the best of his ability without revealing where he had met Elliot. He was happy to be important if only for a few moments. Soon Elliot Burch would steal the day, and that pretty much happened as a limousine bringing the bridegroom turned into the street two blocks down.

“He’s here.” The joyous cry sent reporters dashing along the street, cameras flashing as they vied for the best photograph and the earliest reports to run off the press that day. The limousine pulled up outside the church its tinted windows revealing nothing of the occupant inside and waited several moments before the chauffer alighted from the driver’s side walked round to the back and opened the door, where Elliot stepped immaculate as ever a huge smile on his face. “One question at a time, please ladies and gentlemen.” Elliot told the eager reporters, he blinked heavily as the cameras took his photograph and wondered why there was need for flashes on such a brilliant summers day. Checking his watching Elliot added, “I can give you three minutes.”

“Mr Burch, Mr Burch…” Reporters crowded around him, with questions like, “Where did you meet your bride to be…is it true…where will the honeymoon be…” Elliot answered them all to the best of his ability, leaving the honeymoon destination un-revealed, even Jenny was unaware of that particular surprise. Unable to actually agree on a honeymoon destination, Elliot had decided to let his bride have her day, and while Jenny was expecting them to spend two weeks at Elliot’s luxury apartment, he and Catherine were well aware that he would be taking her to London and then Paris straight after the reception. Catherine had already packed Jenny’s passport and the clothing that she deemed she would need. It would be a complete surprise.

Not many minutes after Elliot called a halt to the questions and ducked into the majestic interior of the church now bedecked with roses of red and white and pink, did the car bringing Jenny and Catherine and all the little bridesmaids turn the corner. The reporters saddened at Elliot’s dismissal were soon running down the street again, eager to catch a glimpse of the bride, and running alongside the car risked squashed feet in a bid to be the first to photograph her as she stepped from the vehicle.

“You sure you want to go out there, Jen?” Catherine laughed as faces peered in on them. Faces that through the tinted glass squinted trying to see through.

“I’d run the gauntlet to get to Elliot.” Jenny laughed.

“My have you got it bad or what?” Catherine chuckled.

The car drew level with the curb and as with Elliot’s car the chauffer waited a few steadying minutes for everyone to get their breath before he open his door and got out. Even so reporters leered in and grabbed their chance to take a photograph of anything that was inside, not actually seeing anything but sparkles and lace.

“Madam?” The chauffer enquired as he opened the door nearest to Catherine. She tucked her pale cerise gown around her legs and standing near the door reached in to help out first the bridesmaids in gowns reminiscent of her own and then taking the bouquet of deep pink and white roses she finally held out a hand for Jenny with her dazzling gown of crisp white and powder puff pink lace that enhanced the colour of the roses in her bouquet. Handing the same to her as she brushed the creases from her gown, police who had suddenly appeared held back the reporters but it did not stop the snapping of cameras or the questions that surrounded them. “Give us a minute Miss Aronson…” They begged, “Just a minute of your time.”

“A minute of my time is a minute left unmarried.” Jenny told them laughing, “Elliot and I will talk to you after we are wed.”

Everyone laughed and many wrote down her quip in their notepads. It wasn’t difficult so see how much in a hurry this bride was to marry the richest man in Manhattan and who could blame her. But suddenly, some of the reporters noticed Catherine properly, “Miss Chandler isn’t it? Didn’t you once date Elliot Burch? How well do you know Miss Aronson?”

“Later, later.” Catherine called over her shoulder as she followed Jenny down the path leading to the church where Jenny’s father having arrived in another limousine awaited his beautiful daughter. “You look gorgeous, just like your mother.” He whispered as he kissed her cheek. “Couldn’t stop her crying, she’s been at it all morning, looks like a panda with black smudges round her eyes. Told her not to wear mascara.” Any butterflies Jenny had vanished as she laughed and imagined her mother’s black rimmed eyes and then stepping in time with her father the two entered the church to the strands of an organ playing ‘here comes the bride’ with eyes front and looking nowhere but straight ahead. Her heart in her mouth Jenny gasped when she saw Elliot awaiting her he looked ravishing! She smiled at the thought, that’s what she would be doing with him tonight, ravishing him and every day of their lives hereafter.

Following her friend down the isle Catherine caught Dominic’s eye as she passed him three rows from the front, he winked at her and a similar though sped through Catherine’s mind, wow, what a few fine clothes could do for a man. Dominic looked wonderful, and had tied back his hair with a tiny black velvet bow. He looked amazing, and so very, very handsome something that was obviously being noticed by a great deal of ladies who couldn’t it seemed, take their eyes off of him. ‘Huh’ thought Catherine smugly, ‘if you think he’s gorgeous you should see his brother’ and she felt exceedingly satisfied that they would never know the man of her dreams. Vincent was hers, the father of her child, and nothing would ever change that and it was at that moment that Catherine decided that no matter what she believed, no matter what she had told everyone that she would leave it to Vincent, the moment the wedding was over and she got back to the tunnels she would seek Vincent out, and she would bring him back to the hub kicking a screaming if she had to, but she would bring him back, that was for certain. And with that thought in mind Catherine cheered up immensely and thoroughly enjoyed the wedding of her best friend taking to heart the vows as if they were her own.

*** *** ***

“Have you seen Dominic?” Catherine asked while the photographs were being taken back outside the church after Elliot and Jenny had become Mr and Mrs. Jenny turned to her friend, “I saw him leave a few moments ago. I couldn’t call out to him but he seemed intent on going anyway because he waved down a cab.”

Catherine frowned, “I thought he was coming to the reception. He’ll not know where it is if he doesn’t soon return.”

“I shouldn’t worry about him, Cathy, maybe he found it all a little overwhelming, unless he was meeting someone, there were an awful lot of women with their eyes on him and I did see him talking to a couple of them as they left the church.” Catherine nodded and accepted that possibility. Besides Dominic had said that he might not go to the reception, and with that thought in mind Catherine ceased worrying about him, and kept involved in her friend’s wedding. It would be another twenty-four hours before Catherine worried about Dominic again.

*** *** ***

“Hi Dominic, thought you were at the wedding?” Brooke asked as Dominic strode into the tunnels some half hour after Catherine noticed him missing from the church grounds.

“I was, and it was wonderful, so wonderful in fact that Catherine has had the bright idea of having a few discreet photographs taken of little Vincent while she has the chance. It’s a beautiful day up there Brook, and she has asked me to collect the babe and take him to the back of the church where she, Elliot and Jenny will be waiting. Can you wrap him in that shawl, I have a taxi waiting, don’t worry we have thought of everything, and no one will see him.”

“Should I come too?” Brooke asked fetching the shawl. She had no reason to mistrust Dominic and what he said sounded plausible but she wasn’t sure about letting the baby out of her sight.

Dominic hesitated, the girl might make a good hostage, but he changed his mind realising that she would likely create when she discovered that they weren’t going to the church after all. “You aren’t dressed for a wedding Brooke, sorry, and I haven’t time to wait. Elliot and Jenny are eager to get to their reception.”

“Oh yes of course, well here you are then. Tell Catherine he’s just had his bottle and a change and is about ready for a nap. You might have trouble keeping him awake for photographs.”

“Maybe, but there’s a lot going on up there, his inquisitive nature just might keep him from sleeping.”

Brooke laughed, “That’s so. Never known a baby that wanted to know about everything this early. Let’s hope he still wants to learn when his schooling starts.” With the shawl wrapped around little Vincent so that his face was well hidden, Dominic carried the babe through the tunnels and then through Catherine’s brownstone and outside into the sunshine to the waiting taxi while Brooke who had followed him that far waved goodbye from the door.

Giving the driver directions the car moved away from the curb. Brooke watched it till it was out of sight. It was only later that she realised that it had gone in a different direction to that of the church.

*** *** ***

Vincent was having a miserable Saturday. ‘Catherine will be married by now’ he reminded himself for the hundredth time that day. Each time made him feel worse than the last, yet whenever he mentioned any of his misery to Narcissa the silly woman would tell him, ‘Catherine will marry the baby’s father.’ Saying it so often that in the end Vincent covered his ears, as it was beginning to sound like chanting.

By Sunday, Vincent had had enough, “I’m sorry Narcissa but I have to go back today.” He told her as kindly as he could. He could hardly state that she was driving him insane.

“Will you go to see the father, child?”

“It is a possibility. Now that Catherine has gone I think I can manage to be back at the hub.”

“But Catherine will return and she will marry her baby’s father.”

Vincent gritted his teeth, he felt like shaking the old woman, she was sounding like an old record and just as stuck in a rut unable to say anything but some silly riddle. ”I’m going now Narcissa, thank you for your hospitality.” He bent to kiss her cheek, and she caught his arm, “Come see me soon, bring your bride.” Now Vincent knew she was nuts and he hurried away as soon as he could pick up his bag. “Be Well Narcissa.” He called as cheerfully as he could muster. Narcissa called back, Be Well, child. Don’t forget tell the father that I am alive.”

“I’ll tell him, don’t worry Bye, Narcissa.”

The uneventful journey back to the chamber where Dominic had been supplying him with food and clothing left Vincent’s mind in turmoil. Narcissa had spent the best part of the week telling him that Catherine would marry the baby’s father like some parrot, and telling him nothing he didn’t already know but at the same time knowing Narcissa there was a hidden meaning. But what could be hidden in such a phrase? It was stupid. His mind thus filled with questions Vincent didn’t notice on his approach to his chamber that anything was amiss, and it was only when he entered his new home did he come to a grinding halt and gasp, “Catherine!”

“Vincent!” Catherine flew into his arms, “Oh Vincent, where have you been. Mouse found this chamber days ago, followed Dominic apparently, he’s been waiting for you ever since.”

Not thinking clearly Vincent replied, “I’ve been staying with Narcissa, she needed supplies and I carried them down there for her.” Catherine stared at him, “Have you gone mad? Narcissa is dead.”

“No she is alive.” Then as dawning became apparent Vincent asked, “Catherine what are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be with Elliot?”

“Jenny would clown me if I were.” She giggled despite the seriousness of her visit and then asked him, Narcissa is alive? But Father buried her.”

“As I he did me.”

“Point taken.” Her sudden smile vanished, “Vincent I need your help. Dominic has taken the baby.”

“Your baby?” He asked bewildered, “Why would he do that?”

“Because, because…oh Vincent…don’t you know?” Catherine exasperated.

“Know? What is there to know? Catherine, you shouldn’t even be here. If Dominic has taken the baby somewhere he will bring him back, surely. Why do you worry so?” Vincent lay his pack down and crossing to the brazier riddled the ashes and started to bank it with thin strips of firewood and paper before striking a match to start it going.
Catherine watched him saying nothing, it was so good to see him and all she wanted to do was hug him to her kiss him all over and…her eyes strayed to where some blankets lay over a small slim cot obviously where he had been sleeping…and suddenly wishing they could sleep there together…but her baby had been kidnapped and Vincent was the only one that could help.

“I worry so because your brother has a tile loose Vincent, he takes after his father and for some reason he has snatched our son and doesn’t intend bringing him back.”

Vincent listened but he missed a few vital points, and one in particular. “I can’t believe Dominic would do something like that, Catherine. I’ve got to know him pretty well and anything I decided about him in the beginning is long gone. I trust him now.”

“Are you listening to me!” Catherine flared. “Vincent, Dominic has kidnapped our baby. He doesn’t intend bringing him back! Living a life of a recluse has softened your brain!” Catherine turned on her heel, “Well if you won’t help me find him, I’ll find someone who will!”

“Catherine!” Crossing the chamber Vincent caught her arm, “I didn’t say I wouldn’t help you, but where is the baby’s father in all of this, why isn’t he here?”

Catherine realised Vincent hadn’t heard a word she had said, that the emphasis on our son and our baby had completely been missed. “He’s here.” Catherine told him and started to walk away again.

Vincent sighed, “In that case let him help you look for the child.”

Despondent Catherine despaired of ever getting through to him, he really had gone soft in the head, “That’s all I was hoping for.” She told him and disappeared up the tunnel and out of sight. Vincent watched her go. He felt sad, and puzzled, Catherine was beginning to speak in riddles the same way that Narcissa had. He only wished he could decipher them.

*** *** ***

Father was frantic, Brooke was in trouble but really she hadn’t been to know and no one had enlightened her about Dominic’s strange behaviour and she hadn’t distrusted anything he had said. Really he had been very believable.

“Must have planned it for months.” Father ranted, “God if I get my hands on him.” “Found him talked to him left him behind. No help there Mary.” Catherine plonked herself into the nearest chair wearily.

“Why what did he say?” Father asked amazed.

“Little constructive.” Catherine replied, all the way home she had grown angrier and angrier about Vincent’s response to her bid for help. He had been almost callous and more like Dominic than Vincent.

“Father, Father!” Jamie dashed into the chamber, and all eyes turned to her in hopeful expectation.

“What is it Jamie? Has the baby been found?” Catherine held her breath while wanting to shake the news out of the other woman at the same time. Jamie’s reply almost killed her, “No, not that. Dominic wrote journals like Vincent and he left the last entry behind, maybe he meant to I don’t know, but you’d better read it Father!” Jamie handed the small notepad to the tunnel’s patriarch and as Catherine rushed to his side to read it with him Father read aloud, “Tomorrow I will have my retribution. I will take back to the home of my father the one with the leonine face, just as it should have been it will be so and the balance will be corrected. Be proud of me father, be proud, for I will succeed where you have failed. Vincent will return to his rightful home…forever!” Father paled, “Oh my good God…he’s Paracelsus all over again…we let a madman into our midst and we didn’t even see it.” He turned sorrow filled eyes to Catherine, “I’m so sorry my dear, but Dominic is wrong, we will get your son back, I promise and if it’s the last thing I do.”

“Its not your fault Father, he sucked us all in.” Catherine told him squeezing his shoulder, “But I think it’s going to take a whole lot of cunning to get my baby back, we don’t even know where to start looking. He might not even be in the tunnels, and who can I ask above? Elliot and Jenny are on their way to London and little Vincent doesn’t even exist in the eyes of the authorities and oh…Dominic knew that…he knew that Father and he cunningly used that information to gain his advantage!”

“We’ll still find him I know we will, and at least if Dominic is like Parcelsus we will be able to ascertain certain similarities in their pattern of movement. For what its worth I think we should start searching the lower levels…”

“Yes but Paracelsus was so cunning, and Dominic is the same, look how he fooled Vincent with that life after death thing…thank God Jamie wasn’t sucked in!”

“Yes Father Mary is right, he is devious. We may need a miracle to find where he has taken the baby but don’t worry Catherine, we’ll do everything in our power to find him. If only Narcissa were here she would know.” Catherine’s face brightened at Jamie’s statement.

“She is! She’s still alive! Vincent has been staying with her.” Father paled once more, “Narcissa is alive…then I buried a living soul again?”

No one said anything, which didn’t make Father feel any better, “I should retire from medicine.” Father murmured. “Before I kill someone.”

“You’re a good doctor, you just need better glasses and equipment.” Mary reasoned.

“That’s true,” was the general opinion as mostly everyone said the same thing. Then Catherine asked Jamie, “Should we go, that is you and I, go to see Narcissa?”

“No Catherine, you should go and see Vincent again, take Winslow with you, he’ll knock some sense into him, and Mouse and I will go to see Narcissa. Father you can rally round some search parties can’t you?” Jamie gave her orders.

Father nodded, well at least he was good at something and he watched feeling a little bit better as Jamie and Catherine left his chamber leaving only faithful Mary behind. They were silent for a while, until Father had tapped out the requirements on the pipes, and then that done leaned back in his chair awaiting the first of the groups to assemble in his chamber. As they waited Mary mused softly, “Paracelsus huh? Who would have thought he would rise out of the dust? Its terrible, I thought we’d seen the last of him, Father?”

“We have, its his son that we have to worry about now Mary, like his father he might be, but like his mother also, we can only hope enough of Anna rubbed off on him to give him the compassion to know that this is wrong.”

“And if it doesn’t?” Mary asked almost afraid to know.

Rubbing a hand across his weary brow, Father took no time in answering, “I fear that these tunnels will have an enemy below again just as they had in the past and so…”

Mary understood at once, “It begins again?”

“Yes, my dear…and so it begins again.”

*** *** ***

To be continued in Chapter Eighteen - click on 'Next' below:



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