Vincent is dead and Catherine must learn to live and bring up their child without him yet despite these things there will be a happy ending for Catherine.
With lyrics from Michael Bolton’s song ‘Whenever I Remember Loving You.’
As soon as Catherine had gone Vincent began to feel bad about not helping her, when she had so obviously sought him out for the purpose and straight after her marriage too. It had been wrong of him to tell her to get Elliot to look for the baby with her, and there might have been all manner of reasons why the tunnel dwellers were not helping her instead. It might even be that Father had not wanted Elliot to know the tunnels in too great a detail and had restrained him from going to the lower levels. That idea Vincent soon dismissed until shortly after he had packed away the provisions left by Dominic, he had an awful quelling feeling that Catherine was at subterranean level and that she was indeed very frightened. The heart beating alongside his was erratic and stressful and without further ado, Vincent slipped on his cloak and headed down at a brisk trot only wishing that he had gone with her when she had asked. Elliot or not, if anything happened to Catherine he would never forgive himself.
At the same time that Vincent made his journey below pulled not by Catherine but by a bond with a baby he did not know to be his, Catherine turned up at his chamber with Winslow in tow. They stood looking around the sparsely furnished chamber not knowing what to do next. Vincent’s cloak was gone and so too his walking boots, and so he must have gone somewhere. “What do you want to do Cathy?” Winslow asked uncertainly.
“We can’t wait, Winslow. He might be gone hours. I will scribble a note for him, hold on, now where’s the most possible place he will see it?” She pondered aloud.
“How about his journal, he’s sure to open that today.”
“Good idea.” Catherine rummaged around the small desk until she found what she was searching for, then opening it at the last entry wrote on a piece of paper to tuck into the place asking Vincent to re-consider helping her as he knew Dominic better than any of them. It was as she was closing the journal that the last entry caught her eye and she gasped as she read; “This time next week Catherine will be married to Elliot.”
“Is that what he believes?” Catherine spoke out loud with disbelief. Winslow walked over to her side, “Is that what who believes?” He asked. Catherine pointed to the entry and at first Winslow backed away telling her, “We shouldn’t be reading what ever he’s written it’s a private journal. Shame on you Catherine!”
“Yes, yes you’re right, but I have to tell you this, Vincent thinks I married Elliot it says so here in black and white. Winslow, if that’s so then it would answer so many questions. If Vincent believed it was me that was marrying Elliot, then I can understand his behaviour of late. I have to tell him the truth, hold on, wait I’ll be with you in a minute.” Winslow was walking back to the exit wanting nothing to do with looking into Vincent’s private things. Catherine picked up the pen again, and at the bottom of her note began writing, “Vincent, forgive me, accidentally saw the beginning of the last entry in your journal. I haven’t married Elliot, Jenny has, my friend Jenny Aronson, who you saw with Elliot at my apartment I haven’t been romantically involved with Elliot for years, please believe me. I love you. Catherine.”
That done she lay down the pen again, and placed it on top of the now closed journal. Hopefully, as soon as Vincent arrived back at the chamber he would see his desk had been disturbed and would find the note inside quickly. Hoping that he would now return to the hub Catherine began to make her way toward Winslow when she suddenly clapped a hand to her chest and cried out causing Winslow to hurry to her side, “What is it, Catherine are you ill?”
“No, but I just had the most awful palpitations its like my heart was going to jump right out of my chest.”
“We’d best get you to Father, you must be under a lot of stress, and it’s a long way down to subterranean level even if we did know where to look. Think you can walk back, or should I carry you?”
“I’ll walk, we’ll take it slow.” Even so, as they kept pace with one another with Winslow slowing down to match Catherine’s she said little, just kept a hand tight to her chest enough to scare him silly, until he didn’t ask again, just presumed she needed carrying and scoped her up into his arms. “No arguing!” He scolded, as she was about to do just that. Catherine thanked him and leaned her head against his shoulder grateful for his support all the way back to the hub.
*** *** ***
Vincent was almost running as he travelled the now familiar tunnels down to where he had first resided with Dominic, thinking as he went that Catherine must have been running to have gotten so far ahead of him and he was amazed that feeling as afraid as she did that she had continued the journey and had not returned. Surely she wasn’t alone? Vincent wondered and cursed the fact that there was no communication system so far down. His only quirk of humour coming from the memory of Mouse suggesting they used homing pigeons for the lower levels. He had laughed at the time, thinking it another of Mouse’s ridiculous ideas but now he wasn’t so sure, and if he ever returned to the hub he would put forth such a suggestion to the council.
It took him all of three hours at a steady pace before he reached the cave where he had gone to die all those months ago. It seemed laughable to him now, no ridiculous that he should ever have been in such a state that he had contemplated allowing the fury he had felt from Paracelsus’ lies to have brought him to that and to think that Parcelsus had told him some truth after all, that he was in fact that man’s son. Vincvent preferred not to think about that, considering himself the son of Jacob Wells was far preferable to the alternative. Never did he wish to be associated to the evil Paracelsus, though he was surprised to find that Dominic did not share that view. Perhaps, Vincent reasoned that his brother was more like their father than he had assumed, and that thought led him to wondering if Catherine had been right to assume that Dominic had snatched her baby. It still didn’t make sense though, why would Dominic want the child of Catherine and Elliot Burch? Vincent stopped walking his mouth dropping open, as he realised that had been the first time he had attributed the name Burch to Catherine as well as Elliot. It had come naturally too, had he so readily accepted Catherine as Elliot’s wife?
Turning into the area of the cave some few minutes later, Vincent saw that nothing had altered, the gaping hole blown between the cave and the chamber beyond still remained, but both were empty. Even so Vincent sensed that Catherine was close by if the thudding of the heart alongside his was anything to go by. Cautiously he stepped through the cave and the chamber beyond and picking his way over scattered rocks walked through the area where he knew Dominic had probably gone, and to his surprise moments later the sound of a baby crying and his brother’s raised voice alerted him to their whereabouts. They saw one another at the same moment, calling out one another’s name, Vincent questioning his brother’s motive for having the child, Dominic delighted at seeing his brother appear. “Vincent! How wonderful! How did you know I was here?” Vincent looked all around, though the bond told him that Catherine was close he could see her nowhere and something cautioned him not to enlighten his brother that she was in the vicinity. No doubt being so close she would well see what was happening and know that he would be helping to bring her baby home.
“Any good with babies Vincent? I can’t shut this little shit up.” Vincent recoiled stunned that Dominic should refer to a child like that and he hurried to take the baby from his arms. Catherine was closer now, he could feel her and turning was surprised when he didn’t see her behind him. “Is someone with you?” Dominic asked peering over his brother’s shoulder.
“No, I came alone. Here give the child to me.” Dominic handed the screaming baby to Vincent thankfully relinquishing his hold over the child. He had been ready to knock it on the head prior to his brother’s arrival the baby had done nothing but cry for the past six hours!
Yet even with his back to Vincent, the moment he felt those two strong hands slip around him the baby instantly quietened, and not only that but deep inside Vincent felt the shift in mood from the mad erratic staccato of moments earlier to a peaceful wave of bliss as the baby relaxed against him. “Hello,” Vincent soothed into the baby’s ear, still not turning him round, “There, there,” he cooed softly, “You’re safe, you’re safe now.”
Dominic was stunned, “You’re a born father Vincent and that’s the first time you’ve held him isn’t it?”
“Yes.” As the baby began to coo softly in Vincent’s arms he shifted him from the crook of one arm turning him with the other and almost dropped the baby in stunned surprise. “Whose baby is this!” He cried with eyes wide. Dominic who had expected that to happen at any moment replied with glee, “Why yours of course.”
“Mine!” A huge lump of spittle lodged in Vincent’s throat and he almost choked on it, finally uttering a strained “mine” with utter disbelief.
“She never told you did she?” Dominic moved around the chamber, “Why do you think she held back something as important as the fact that you had a son, Vincent? Was she so obsessed with that other man?” He played his game for all he was worth. Vincent could find absolutely nothing to say, neither could he take his eyes from the tiny leonine face of the child he held in his arms.
‘His son? His child? Was it possible?” Awestruck he walked to the nearest chair and sat staring down at the tiny china blue eyes so reminiscent of his own, a true reflection of himself in the child in his arms, and knew that no mirror ever lied. But why hadn’t Catherine told him? Was she so ashamed that she had borne such a child into the world? And what of Elliot, what did he think? Surely he had seen the baby? Was that why Catherine visited the tunnels so often, did she keep the child below?
A fierce rush of love swamped Vincent coming from nowhere and he kissed the child’s soft downy head, a head where a soft fuzz of tawny hair was beginning to sprout. His son…his son…tears filled Vincent’s eyes…yet, yet…how could it be…this child would have to have been born within six months to have been his and that was impossible. Looking up he caught his brother staring at him, “Are you certain it is my child?” He had to know, “Or is he yours? You could produce such a child as well as me?”
“Yes I suppose I could, but this is most definitely Catherine’s child, and as beautiful as I find her I regret to say that she and I have never been that close, however I know that the two of you have. I would have told you had you not remembered. That first time in the cave I was alerted by the sounds of…well you know…unmistakable sounds and upon investigating I found to my surprise the two of you…well you know…and I admit to being fascinated enough to watch because my dear brother that was the very first time in all of my life that I had clapped eyes on you.”
Embarrassed Vincent hid behind a curtain of hair, hair that delighted his child as it tumbled over the baby’s face and tickled his cheeks and caused the baby to chuckle softly. Vincent smiled tugging his hair back from the tiny fist that had wound it round and round his hand and bent to kiss the baby’s nose. “I can’t believe it, Dominic.”
“Well its true. Now what are we going to do about it?” Dominic asked.
“What do you mean?” Vincent looked up at his brother.
“I knew Catherine was never going to tell you about your son, and with you away from the hub you played right into her hands. And now she plans to keep the baby above at a house that Elliot Burch is having built with access to the tunnels. But I was one step ahead of her Vincent, I took the baby from her while she was at the wedding and brought him down here, where I hoped that you would reside with me and your son, just as it should be, huh?”
Put that way Vincent could do little but agree, all the same Catherine would know, she was close…or was she? Suddenly Vincent made another startling discovery…the bond that he had assumed to be connected with Catherine…was in actual fact connected to his son! Vincent gasped, ‘now I know you are my son’ he told the baby cuddling him close. Dominic smiled happily, “So what do you think then? Will you and the little one stay here with me? Catherine doesn’t want him, all she wants is the glittering lifestyle of the world she has always known, and besides she will soon have another child to take his place.” Vincent had forgotten about that…and his mind galloped ahead, what if that child too was his? The gestation period bothered him no more, somehow Catherine had borne his son within six months of conception so it was possible the same could be true of the second child unless…wait…what had Narcissa ranted? Catherine would marry her baby’s father. Then that must be it. The second child must be Elliot’s and that was why she had married him and left her first baby in the tunnels. Thank God for Dominic! Vincent smiled at his brother, “I owe you so much.” He told him, “Of course I will stay here with you and my son will stay also. But Catherine is looking for him and no doubt search parties have been assigned to help, we should go somewhere else, somewhere where they won’t find us.”
“I know just the place.” Dominic told him happily. All his plans were coming to a glorious conclusion, his father would be more than proud of him. “Follow me.”
Carefully standing, Vincent tucked his son safely in the crook of one arm and without a doubt in the world or a thought to anyone and least of all to Catherine he followed his brother to wherever he might lead.
*** *** ***
Straightening Father shook his head, the stethoscope dangling from his neck and announced, “Nothing is wrong Catherine. Your heart is as sound as any young person’s should be. Beating a little faster than normal but that is to be expected, but nothing more.” Catherine continued to clutch at her chest her eyes wild with anxiety, “But Father I can feel it pounding. I can hardly hear myself think for the sound in my ears.”
“Let me listen.” Mary rose and taking the stethoscope from Father leaned in to listen to Catherine’s heart. It was just as Father had said, steady, a little fast but nothing out of the ordinary. But as an added precaution Mary also checked Catherine’s pulse at her wrist and found just the same steady heart beat. She shook her head, “Normal Catherine. Just as Father says.”
“But it can’t be! It feels as though my heart is going to jump clean out of my chest!” Catherine wailed then taking the stethoscope from Mary asked, “Can I listen to my own heartbeat?”
“Yes, yes you can. Might sound like it has an echo, but yes most certainly it will show you the normality of your heartbeat.” Father told her. He was concerned and was beginning to wonder if Catherine might have an ear infection that could be causing her to mistake the thudding for her heartbeat.
Listening to her own heart Catherine could hear that it was as Father and Mary had said, but she told them, “This is ridiculous. I can hear my heart quietly beating while inside its hammering ten to the dozen. Are palpitations the same Father can they be detected with a stethoscope too?”
“Yes usually, Catherine perhaps I should look at your ears you might have an infection.” Father reached for the appropriate apparatus inside his small black bag when Catherine suddenly announced, “It’s stopped! Ha, amazing, it’s stopped just like that.” Slowly she took her hand from her chest her eyes twinkling with relief, “That was so weird, whatever was it?”
“Maybe you share a connection with your son.” The words were spoken softly and half hearted from Winslow who had been observing from the other side of the chamber, but even so what he said had everyone stopping whatever they were doing in their tracks and staring at him.
Finally Father spoke, “That might be a possibility. Catherine didn’t you say that little Vincent knew your feelings?”
“Yes but…you don’t seriously think I can feel his too?”
“Well why not? It never developed properly between you and Vincent because he blocked it most of the time, but the baby wouldn’t know how to do that, or even know that it is a gift that few people have. Catherine imagine its possibility, can you still feel it?”
Closing her eyes Catherine dwelt within herself and with a smile lighting her face and her eyes still closed she nodded, “Yes, its there, just faintly above that of my own, but its there.” Her eyes opened wide with incredulity and she laughed, “Oh Father, I have a bond with my son! Now I can find him wherever he is! Father…I can find him…Winslow thank you so much…oh thank you so much!”
*** *** ***
Deep inside the bowels of the earth to a place even Vincent on his wild escapades with Devin had never discovered Dominic took him. It was a journey to the ends of the earth, and miles and miles from the hub. Not only that it was damp and cold and Vincent feared for his son’s safety. “Dominic we can’t live here.” Vincent told his brother as they kept pace one behind the other. Green luminous lichen grew on the wet rock walls, and there were puddles where fissures had overflowed upon the floor.
“Its not so bad where we are going, and it doesn’t have to be forever, just until the search parties give us up as lost. Don’t worry roughing it awhile never hurt anyone.”
“It would hurt my son.” Vincent told him, the baby’s breathing already concerned him it sounded strained and the air was terribly thin like that found at the top of mountains but worse since it was filled with the spores of the lichen they loosened as they passed through the narrow rock tunnels.
“Then what do you suggest?” Dominic turned in the narrow tunnel causing more flaking lichen to fall and dance around them. Vincent covered his son’s face with the shawl, thus protecting his tiny lungs. “There has to be a better way than this. What are we running from? I’m certain once Catherine knows that I know about my son she will not prevent my looking after him, especially since she leaves him at the hub anyway.”
“And what about the house that Elliot is building? Do you think it is her intention not to use those facilities? Your son will be brought up in a house Vincent, he will never know where his roots lay.”
“That is not so bad. Knowing Catherine she will see to it that my son has access to sunshine and as many things that will make his life as near normal as possible and she will bring up both her children as equal.”
“What are you suggesting?” Dominic sounded irritated.
“That we return. Perhaps to the hub, and if we do have to make such a journey again, that we do it after we have prepared a home down here for my son. When he is older and his lungs are more fully developed such a life down here might not be so threatening to his health as it is now.”
“Perhaps you’re right.” Vincent relaxed. He thought that his brother would have put up much more of a fight so intent it seemed was he to live in the bowels of the earth. “Let’s go back.” Turning Vincent now took the lead his son in his arms and Dominic was quiet saying nothing for several hundred yards. Suddenly out of the blue, Vincent felt a sharp prick in the side and top of one thigh and assuming he had brushed too close to the sharp rock wall thought little of it but to say ‘ouch’. A little later a tiredness stole over him that made him stumble and Dominic quick at hand made a grab for the baby, “Careful Vincent, here let me take him, maybe he’s heavier than you think.” Vincent relinquished his hold on his son and brushed a hand across his eyes, “I do feel strange, must be the air…and then reaching out to rub the area where he thought he had hurt himself and he asked his brother in shocked disbelief, “You didn’t…Dominic, you didn’t…” His words were slurred and difficult to say, his tongue feeling thick in a dry mouth.
“Sorry Vincent. But you wouldn’t come with me. I thought that you, the baby and I could live quite happily in our father’s world, but it seems I was wrong. You’ll wake in a few hours don’t worry, but by then your son and I will be long gone. Don’t waste time trying to find us Vincent, where I’m going we will never be found!” Vincent tried to make a grab for his son as Dominic turned to head back the way they had gone, but disorientated and falling at an alarming rate Vincent’s hands met and slithered down the wet lichen clad walls, and though he struggled to stay awake his eyelids closed over drugged blue eyes and he fell as dead to the puddle tunnel floor, the water oozing into his clothing being the last thing that he would feel until Catherine’s hands roused him several hours later.
*** *** ***
“Vincent! Vincent!” Catherine shook the father of her child as hard as she could, with worried glances in Winslow’s direction, “He’s not dead is he? Winslow tell me he isn’t dead!”
Winslow dropped to his knees beside the sleeping man and sought his wrist for a pulse, “No, he’s alive, Vincent!” He shook his friend hard and Catherine yelled in his ear, “VINCENT! WAKE UP!” And shook him violently. Groggily Vincent moaned and Catherine sighed for despite what Winslow had said she had doubted. “What happened Vincent?”
Vincent tried to remember. He ached everywhere and his mouth felt like sandpaper, and his head! Oh his head ached worse than all the headaches he had ever had put together.
“Try to remember!” Catherine wailed, “Did you see Dominic?”
Who was Dominic? Vincent couldn’t remember anything, “Who?”
“Dominic, your brother. Did you see him?” Catherine yelled at the top of her voice. Vincent clapped his hands to his ears and winced and Catherine quietened down sensing his pain. “Sorry, but have you seen him? Did he do this to you?”
“Leave him Cathy. “ Winslow advised, “He’s not come round properly yet. Here old friend have some water.” He placed a flask to Vincent’s lips and watched him drink thirstily the refreshment bringing an instant turn about for Vincent who sat up almost immediately feeling much better.
“Dominic yes, I saw him. He has my son!” Catherine gasped her eyes lighting with jubilation, Vincent knew!
Struggling to stand, Vincent’s eyes opened wide when he realised that Catherine was beside him, “Catherine! Why didn’t you tell me?” The accusation was there immediately, but before she could make an angry retort Winslow pulled her away, “No time for arguments, we have a baby to find. Which way did Dominic go Vincent do you know?”
“Winslow’s right, there’ll be time for explanations later,” Catherine told Vincent, he swayed a little and she caught his arm, “Do you feel capable of coming with us?”
“Yes, yes don’t worry about me, I will be alright as soon as the drug wears off. Besides I can lead you to where my… Our…son is. We share a bond.”
“So do we! That is so do I with our son, Vincent, only it’s a bit erratic and I need you to help me understand how to control it.” Vincent was stunned “You share a bond with the baby?”
“Yes, I have only just recognised it for what it is, but yes certainly otherwise how would I have known to come down this far?”
Vincent nodded accepting it was so, “It is hard to control but you will learn how to direct it so that it does not drive you crazy.” He smiled then remembering another time, a time that seemed years ago now. Catherine smiled too remembering a similar time and because they were on the same wavelength remarked, “Guess I caused you more strife than you needed at times.”
Vincent chuckled, “Guess you did.”
“Do you still have a connection with me?” Catherine asked as they fell in step one a little behind the other as the tunnel allowed.
“I thought I did, but no it never returned. Perhaps its impossible to have with anymore than one person at a time.”
“Oh yes just imagine!” Catherine laughed out loud, “It would drive you insane.”
“One connection already did that.” Vincent responded dryly, and Catherine was silent for a moment before reaching forward and grasping his arm, “Vincent stop.” Winslow detecting they needed privacy walked on ahead a few yards just out of earshot and waited for them there.
“What is it Catherine? We can talk all we like when our son is found.” He reminded her unwilling to discuss too many painful things at that moment. It was nice enough just talking simply as they were, he didn’t want anything complicated to come up, didn’t think he could stand that right now, on top of worrying about his son.
“Perhaps you’re right.” Catherine let go of his arm and with a deep sigh told him, “Alright let’s go.” But she was surprised when Vincent reached for her hand and tucked it back in the crook of his arm where she had rested it moments before. Catherine smiled up at him, the look of thanks in her eyes it was beginning to feel just like old times.
They walked that way in companionship for some time the descent getting more and more complicated with sharp rocks and lack of light. Winslow led the way with his lamp and the light illuminated the two following just enough to show them the path they were on.
“Catherine?” Vincent questioned after perhaps twenty minutes of silence.
“How long did your pregnancy last?”
Catherine smiled, for someone that wanted to talk about things later it was obvious that Vincent did have burning questions after all. “A little longer than six months, twenty nine weeks in fact, or thereabouts, I don’t think I actually made it to the twenty ninth. Mary delivered him.”
“Mary did! But where was Father?”
“In hospital, did you hear about that?”
“Yes.” Vincent fell silent again and Catherine detected bitterness in his eyes.
“He’s old Vincent, and his sight isn’t as good as it once was. The cave was dark, the candle he carried was down to the bottom of the wick and you were in a coma so deep he could not be blamed for assuming you had died. We are all to blame, I washed you for burial and even I believed you had died.”
“You washed me!” Vincent exclaimed.
“Yes, and other things. Did you ever find the lovelock?”
“The lovelock!” The way he said it made Catherine laugh out loud, it sounded like it had given him a great deal of stress.
“I take it that’s a yes?” Catherine’s eyes danced with humour.
“You most certainly can. Catherine that lovelock gave me more sleepless nights and restless days than I can count. Why did you put it there?”
“Why? I would have thought that was obvious, Vincent. I love you.” Catherine stated simply.
Vincent wanted to believe that but found it impossible so he said nothing, instead changing the subject, or rather bringing it back to the one he had first intended. “With a gestation of six months you will deem the next one as taking forever. When is the baby due?” He had noted that she didn’t look too far gone, still as slim as ever.
Catherine stopped dead, “When is my baby due? What do you mean? I’m not pregnant now.”
A huge sigh erupted from Winslow, “Will you two give it up? We’ll never get there if we keep having to stop.” He complained.
“Sorry.” Vincent and Catherine said together and hurried after him.
“No, Vincent wherever did you get that idea?”
“Dominic told me.”
Catherine understood, “Ah he must have overheard Father and I talking.” She spoke softly remembering the day, “I did think I might be pregnant after you and I…well you know…” she whispered to him, “made love a second time, but I wasn’t. Dominic obviously never waited long enough to find out the results before telling you.”
“Then I don’t understand.” Vincent stopped again and ignored the exasperated sounds coming from Winslow. “Why did you marry Elliot if you weren’t expecting a baby?”
Despite the ridiculousness of such a question and because she had already been forewarned of it, Catherine burst into laughter, “My has your brother got a lot to answer for, Vincent! I haven’t married Elliot, I’m a free single unmarried mother of one child.”
Speaking as though from afar Vincent reiterated, “You haven’t married Elliot, but then who did?”
“Jenny. You know my friend Jenny Aronson, the one you saw him with at my apartment one night. I was chief bridesmaid at their wedding yesterday.”
Vincent’s jaw dropped a mile but he said nothing. Catherine with a sweet smile hitched it back into place with one finger and taking a liberty she hoped he would not mind because simply she could not resist she followed her finger with a kiss to his chin. “Have you got that now, Vincent?” She asked happily. He detected the humour in her tone and for the first time in a long time, slipped one arm around her waist, “It seems I have been misled about many things, as you say my brother has a lot to answer for.” He told her unhappily.
“We can’t blame him really, when I think of the life he endured…” Catherine told him gently, “and I don’t think he will harm little Vincent will he?”
At the mention of his son’s name Vincent smiled heartily, “Whose suggestion was that, his name I mean?”
“Father’s. I had intended to call him Jacob. Well that’s not strictly true, I gave him the name Vincent Jacob and had intended to call him whichever of the two was appropriate depending on whether you were dead or alive, but father insisted that whatever was so I should name him after his father, just as he had done with his son…” Catherine gasped, “Oops forget I said that, I promised not to tell.” She blushed hotly, but Vincent smelling a good story told her, “You’ve already said too much, and I shall only nag you till you spill, so it may as well be now.” He chuckled holding her back and despairing Winslow further when he noticed they were stalling again.
“Promise you’ll tell no one and that you will never mention it to Father?” Catherine asked dubiously.
“I promise.” Vincent’s blue eyes were looking at her so appealingly Catherine almost forgot what she was supposed to be telling him.
“Father’s mother wanted to call him Devin but his father disagreed and had him registered as Jacob, but his mother continued to call him Devin anyway, hence the reason Father insisted that Grace called Devin by that name.”
“I never knew that and it would have gone a long way with Devin toward making amends would have made him feel wanted and that his father cared about him. I wonder why Father doesn’t want anyone to know, it doesn’t sound so important.”
“I don’t know, but we shouldn’t mention it. Maybe he has some dark secret under using that name, whatever it’s his business Vincent, promise me you will say nothing to him?” Catherine’s eyes welled with anxiety and Vincent promised he would never mention it.
“Thank you Vincent.” They smiled at one another a long moment knowing that things that had been between them for a long time were slowly being erased, even so Catherine gasped in stunned surprise when Vincent told her, “I love you, Catherine.”
“And I love you!”
“Oh give me strength!” Winslow barked from yards away, “any minute now you two are going to be a condoling and we ain’t ever gonna get this show on the road.” He came back and tapped them both of their heads, “Hello, have you both forgotten what mission we are on?”
“No.” The pair sounded despondent, they hadn’t forgotten as if they could, but making steady progress in the direction they knew their son to be and not being able to travel too much faster because of the terrain they didn’t feel they had been doing anything wrong by talking along the way, and then of course there was the bond they each shared with the baby. It told them he was well and reasonably happy, and perhaps sleeping. Winslow of course did not know this, and the seemingly uncaring way the parents were acting concerned him silly and he was naturally cross that they weren’t rushing at full pelt below to find their son as he thought they ought to be doing.
“We’re coming now.” Catherine told him seriously, “I think we’ve done with establishing the facts, Vincent?” She queried looking up at the love of her life.
“Yes, sorry Winslow, lead the way. When we are close I will tell you and we must discuss a plan to get our son away from Dominic.”
“I could strangle him for you.” Winslow suggested, “Get rid of him like you got rid of his old man.” Winslow refused to believe that Vincent came out of the same mould as Dominic or that he was the son of Paracelsus.
“No.” Vincent replied. Catherine had wondered about that, she had to admit. Father and Mary she knew had both reached the conclusion that with someone like Dominic in their midst the next generation was in for as rough a ride as those that had Paracelsus to contend with. Even so she shared Vincent’s view, whatever his ability and sanity Dominic was still Vincent’s brother.
“Everyone always assumes that the bad guy has to die.” Catherine told Winslow, “But there are other ways. If Dominic can’t be made to dismiss this idea of balancing what his father lost with the aid of our son, then maybe he can be persuaded to live above so that he is no threat to the tunnels and so that living down here doesn’t send him as crazy as his father.”
Vincent agreed and added, “Catherine’s right and I strongly believe that all Dominic needs is family, and he might listen to reason that as long as we promise to allow him visits and accept him for what he is, he will cause us no further harm. I got to know him quite well, and he does have his moments, but like you say Catherine, much of it is due to the way he was forced to live with Paracelsus. No doubt he was told as many lies as I.”
“Its hard to feel sorry for him when he has our son, but I still find that I think that way. Your life was so limited Vincent, yet Dominic seems to have had it even worse. You should have seen him when he was up top with me, he was like a child let loose in a candy store and yesterday at the wedding, several young ladies asked about him. It would take no time at all for him to find a partner believe me.”
Vincent nodded, “Then we must try and make him understand that he has a life beyond kidnapping our son and trying to balance what his father lost, it might be difficult but I think at heart Dominic is a good man.”
“He might need some counselling, but that would be difficult to arrange with someone up top. If there are any helpers that could talk to him it would do him the world of good. Of course, we can’t really say anything until we see how he behaves when we find him. He might have pulled the wool over all our eyes.” Catherine shuddered, she hoped not and she also hoped that Dominic would not harm their son, she was banking on any compassion he did have for that to be so.
“Well seems like we have reached a dead end.” Winslow reached around the rock face in front of him and searching for any tell tale signs of a hidden switch or doorway and finding nothing asked them. “Any clues anyone?”
Vincent looked up, “Yes, there!” Above them a gaping hole in the tunnel revealed the way to go, but it was along way up and their minds boggled at how Dominic had managed to climb into the vertical shaft with a baby in his arms when suddenly Catherine and Vincent realised at the precise same moment that hadn’t been so. “Vincent…I can feel him again. He’s upset.”
“I know Catherine. I can feel him too, and he’s not up there. He’s down here.” Yet looking down gave them nothing but the puddle floor at their feet. “Its impossible!” Vincent stamped into the puddle, “How can our son be beneath us when there is no way to get down there?”
“Another of Dominic’s tricks of illusion?” Catherine suggested.
“Has to be. But how do we work through it this time?”
“Well as we can only go up, then that’s what we should do.” Winslow barked, “Here lassie stand on my shoulders and I’ll hoist you up.” It seemed an easy enough thing to do and Catherine started to comply when Vincent stopped her and with a finger to his lips summoned that they should all be quiet then whispered an alarming fact, “We’ve been too complacent about this, assuming that we can track our son with the aid of the bond, Catherine we forgot about one other very important factor.”
“What’s that, Vincent?” Catherine wasn’t sure that she wanted to know.
“Dominic had me believe that he didn’t possess the gift but I believe he lied. Catherine, Winslow, I think Dominic shares a connection with me and he has been misleading us all along. He knows that we are here, and he knows that I share a connection with our son. Catherine, Winslow, if our son is to be rescued the pair of you must go on alone without me, otherwise Dominic will continue to run rings around us.”
Having started out the journey believing it may all be down to her anyway, Catherine surprised Vincent when she replied, “Then so be it, I am not afraid. If I have to fight the very devil himself I will bring our son back home with me. Wait here Vincent,” she whispered, “Let Dominic assume that he has foxed your way and that you have given up for now, and Winslow and I will find our baby and bring him back to you.”
“Then be careful Catherine. I believe that Dominic has the baby close but they are not together, and Dominic will not be expecting you to be able to find him.”
“I know. Don’t worry my love I will be careful. Winslow, will you lend me your shoulder please?”
Needing no second asking, Winslow knelt down, and Vincent watched as he hoisted Catherine up into the shaft before helping Winslow follow her into the tunnel above. It seemed awfully quiet once they had gone and now in total darkness Vincent had to wait until his eyes adjusted to let him see with night vision the rock that was all around. It felt like the grave but he knew this time that he was most definitely alive, and he thanked God for that, and the fact that he would have a second chance with Catherine. And strangely because he was so totally alone and wanted to try and focus on something else other than the matter at hand feeling so helpless as he was, he remembered something Narcissa had told him, over and over again surprised that he could forget. “Catherine will marry the father of her baby.” And Vincent gasped as he realised now exactly what she had meant, Catherine would become his wife…not Elliot’s…his wife…and his eyes closed tight with relief…because now he knew that no matter what Catherine would be safe, and their child would be returned to him…because never had he known one of Narcissa’s visions not to come true.
*** *** ***
Vincent had been right, Dominic had been able to sense his brother’s whereabouts something he had kept discreetly to himself just in case his plans backfired at some later stage, besides which it was something new to him, only making itself known when he had met his brother for the first time. And now as he walked down to the bottom of the world as he termed it, he was well aware when Vincent had regained consciousness and when he made the decision to follow one of the reasons why he had chosen the particular route with the vertical shaft at its end. Only a rope he had left there had afforded him the opportunity to scale it as leaving the baby at the foot of the shaft he had climbed up dropped down a second rope, swung himself back down on the first and after tying the handles of little Vincent’s safety harness to the rope had re-climbed and hoisted the baby up through the shaft after ward. And then he had pulled both ropes from the shaft making it difficult for anyone to follow him. Once he was satisfied he had made the journey to his designated spot and coming to a similar shaft beyond that of the closed tunnel had done everything again in reverse so that he now continued his journey believing that Vincent would take some time to catch up with him since he would have to scale the vertical shaft without a safety rope and that would be so precarious it would take skill and time.
It was a shame that his brother hadn’t been trusted at the end, Dominic would have liked for Vincent and the baby to remain together, not only because Vincent could quieten the child but because he simply wanted them all to live together as family. But as soon as Vincent had begun to have doubts Dominic had known that it was never going to work, it was just a pity that Vincent had to ask questions…Catherine this, Catherine that…Dominic couldn’t stand any more of that. If only his brother had continued to believe that Catherine had married Elliot and that was that, and her motives and reasons for not telling him about being the baby’s father were better off left with her. But no, Vincent had to have answers, and answers caused problems. Dominic may have acted rashly but in his opinion it was often the best policy. Questions were trouble as far as he was concerned.
The world below, further than any tunnel resident had ever gone, was dark and dismal, no place for a baby but Dominic wasn’t so stupid that he didn’t know that. The pretence of taking the child to live below was just that, a ruse to have the tunnel dwellers keep looking below, when all the time he had taken the baby to live above, in a brownstone similar to that of Catherine’s and actually not so far from where she lived. It was a house where his father had resided and a house where Dominic had spent much of his life. He had even been above, had even eaten hamburgers and had even attended a wedding or two but the one thing he had never been able to get at was his father’s money, since he had no legal documents attaining to his birth and no way of obtaining any. Catherine, bless her had done more for him from a kind gesture than anyone had ever done for him for now he was rich, rich enough not to have to seek work to pay his way, and certainly rich enough to look after a baby, although there would be times when he would have to leave the child alone while he went for supplies. They would be unfortunate times, but necessary, since Dominic did not know yet whom he could trust with the child’s differences. That’s where Vincent would have been worth his weight in gold, but what was done was done, and Dominic did not dwell for long on what might have been.
Thinking of Vincent though, Dominic wondered if his brother might be instilling some kind of calm into his son. Ever since he had left his brother behind the baby had been less fidgety and quieter, and apart from one burst of crying had remained relatively calm though how he had responded to his father’s unconscious state beat Dominic, but he didn’t dwell on the reason he would not know that Catherine was also instilling calm into her child as any concerned parent would if that gift were made available to them. Whatever the ability, Dominic was grateful for it, since he had been at his wits end and had almost given up his plans when the baby had cried non stop for six hours. Brooke had said he’d been fed and changed but Dominic had no way of knowing how long such things lasted even so he was well aware that by now some ten hours later the child should soon be creating for food or at least a diaper change but he was so quiet one would never believe so. “You’re one strange kid I give you that.” Dominic told the baby who had been awake and alert for some time. Dominic marvelled at the child’s leonine looks, and decided it would be wonderful watching the baby grow. He would see in him all he had missed with his brother. “Perhaps I should have waited for the other child to be born and taken you together, you would have had company. Still all is not lost there is nothing to stop me trying to snatch that one too when the time comes. You would like that wouldn’t you little one, having someone to grow up with. Such pleasures were denied me, and believe me I know what it is to be lonely I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”
The baby gurgled happily, this person was not unlike the one he was connected to and little Vincent felt safe with Dominic now that his father so obviously trusted him.
“Well we have reached the end of the road little Vincent.” Dominic paused looking back up at a series of shafts that he knew they would have to climb, or he would have to climb and the baby would either have to be hauled up level by level or when space aloud for it he could be strapped to Dominic’s back. “This is the vault, few people have seen this part of the subterranean world, see…” he held the baby up to view the shafts that were aligned one after the other up and up until the reached just beneath the street where the brownstone was situated. “I once slipped down the ropes all the way from the top in just under thirty minutes.” Dominic told the cooing baby. “Smart huh? It’s taken us ten hours to get down here the hard way. Do you think your father might be tired by now? I can certainly sense his frustration.” Dominic chuckled, “By the time he gets here and finds that he has to climb all the way up again without the aid of ropes he’ll be exhausted just thinking about it. Oh well not to worry, that’s his problem, he had his chance. Now, you just hold tight while I do a bit of climbing and we’ll soon have you up top where you can have something to eat, you must be hungry even though you are showing no signs of it. What a marvellous thing the bond is.”
*** *** ***
Vincent was indeed frustrated, but not from chasing his brother. Still where Catherine and Winslow had left him he paced the small area to keep warm and wondered how much longer they might be. Dominic was taking his child so far away and Vincent wanted to be off and after him but dare not. Everything was down to Catherine now, who with Winslow’s help could provide the perfect element of surprise. Even so it was frustrating waiting the only consolation to that being that Dominic would feel that emotion and derive anything he liked from it but Vincent hoped Catherine would hurry up the darkness had afforded him a great opportunity to know what to do about their relationship and he was eager for Catherine’s return. Because of his stupidity they had wasted too much time already, and Vincent wanted to waste no more. And so as he waited he kept telling himself, ‘this time tomorrow all will be well…this time tomorrow our son will be back with Catherine and I…this time tomorrow…all manner of things about the next day, thus living for that perfect moment got Vincent through the next few lonely hours as he daydreamed all the perfect things he and Catherine would achieve together, with the icing on the cake making true Narcissa’s vision…’Catherine will marry the father of her child.’
*** *** ***
There were seven vertical shafts in all. Looking from the top to the bottom was a little like looking into the abyss except it was narrower and when one dropped a pebble inside after a time one could hear it land. Dominic had been to the bottom many times climbing down from above since he was a boy and repeatedly securing fresh ropes since the mineral content leaking through the shafts would rot rope within a year.
Having safely climbed number one with the baby, Dominic pondered climbing the second shaft. He remembered now that the last time he had replaced the ropes those at the bottom two shafts had not needed to be replaced and so he had used the rope for another much needed purpose. Thus he pulled on the rope now grateful that he had made the first shaft with the baby safely, having forgotten about not replacing the ropes last year and though he could well see that it would be a precarious climb he really had no other choice.
In his hand the base of the rope was dry and brittle, but he did have some rope stored away a hundred yards or so along the level above. “Mm what to do, what to do.” Dominic pondered, looking down at little Vincent who flat on his back gurgled quite happily in the harness that could be strapped to an adult for carrying a child.
“Will you be alright here while I go up and fasten a new rope?” He asked the baby who of course could not reply but appeared to be content enough. “I’ll be as quick as I can, I’ll just move you away in case I do fall.” He lifted the baby and sure that he was safe where he was going to leave him, Dominic looked down and smiled at the child before realising something else, “Oh dear. I shall have to take the lamp or I’ll not see where I’m going up there, that’ll mean you being left in darkness.” Dwelling deep inside of himself, Dominic added, “Your daddy isn’t following, or if he is then he is too far from us yet to take you from me, so…” He looked at the child dubiously, “Its either leave you in the dark for twenty minutes or I make the climb with you strapped to me and we risk the rope snapping under our weight. It might snap anyway, so what should I do for the best?” Dominic spoke to the baby and to himself out loud trying to decide. Finally he knew what he had to do, “Sorry little one, but I have to do it this way.” He looked around hoping to find something that he could light to illuminate the level for the child but finding nothing, he promised little Vincent that he would be as quick as he could, then checking the child was warm and safe for a final time, hooked the lamp onto the knot of rope put there for that purpose and began the climb upward.
It wasn’t easy, it never was needing light to see by, the lamp was always a hindrance having to be slid knot by knot up the rope as Dominic climbed, and with the rope as brittle as it was, it frayed in his hand and large welts began to appear that became so sore Dominic was forced to climb slower than he’d have liked. The usual twenty minutes there and back soon became twenty minutes one way, and Dominic still had to find the stored ropes and attach them, although his descent would be quicker, he could just slide down the shaft. Then it would be a case of attaching the baby’s harness to the new rope, climb up the shaft again and at level two hoist the baby up the shaft to where he was. And maybe it would have been as easy as that, but for two things. One Dominic might have thought he was the only one ever to have explored all the levels, might have assumed that anything he left anywhere would still be there when he returned for it, but he had not thought about that other fellow the one with the mop of blonde hair and a name reminiscent of his person. Mouse.
Looking for Jamie some months earlier Mouse had discovered the adjoining shafts and had used the ropes to descend the shafts down to each level completely searching each tunnel before backtracking and dropping himself down the next shaft to a lower level. Now everyone knew that Mouse was a scavenger, had he of lived on the coast he would surely have been a beach comber and anything that Mouse found he took, simply because it was there for the taking. Sometimes he did not move it far, just put it where he might find it again, and this he had done with Dominic’s large coil of rope. Thus when Dominic walked along counting as his paced to the place where he expected to put his hand on the waterproof bag containing the rope that he needed he found it not to be there. “Must have miscounted,” he told himself bewildered. “Didn’t pass it so must be further along.” Dominic walked ahead ever aware that the longer he spent looking the longer little Vincent was left alone in the dark. Still he told himself as the baby was quiet he must have fallen asleep and as he was too young to crawl or roll even if he could escape the harness he would still be where he left him whenever he did get back down there. Relieved by that thought Dominic walked the stretch of tunnel and finding nothing stopped to rethink things through. “I’m sure I left it at level two.” He told himself, then suddenly thought of something, “But was that level two from the bottom or level two from the top? No, I climbed from the bottom up. This is level two otherwise known to my father and the other tunnel dwellers as level F. The top one is level A or to me level seven since I live down and go up…” he pondered out loud as he thought things through. “No I definitely left the ropes on level two. Oh well I shall have to climb to level four where the store is.” He patted his jeans glad to find that the usual ring of keys he needed to unlock his special store were there inside his pocket safe and sound. “Never travel without them.” He chuckled then thinking of the baby couldn’t decide whether he should go down and check on him or hurry and climb two more shafts get the rope and finish the job as quickly as possible and only the thought of going down and up that brittle rope once more made him decide to start climbing to level three. Thus it was soon an hour since he left the baby that he finally made it to level four and to his small store set inside the tunnel wall and locked by a metal door just big enough to place ropes and candles and matches a first aid box and a few packets of dried food inside. Mouse had not found this store or if he had he had no way of getting to what was inside unless he blew the door off with explosive. “Best take a candle too.” Dominic reasoned as he pulled three bags of rope from the store, “I can leave the baby some light while I fasten the ropes from level to level.” Thus satisfied that the store was locked and secure he packed the items he needed around him and set off for the climb back down to level three, two and ultimately one.
With two ropes coiled on one shoulder and one over the other and his lantern hooked on the knots of rope, Dominic climbed back down to level three without any problem. Usually he would have slid down the shaft using his boots against the rock wall as a brake along the way, but the ropes he carried kept snagging on the rocks on the way down and so he was again forced to take it slow.
At level three, he uncoiled one of the ropes and fastening it in place with the use of metal pins and a hammer and chisel he tossed the length of rope into the shaft and checking it for holding his weight, he began the climb down. Thus reaching level two he did likewise, securing the new rope into place and climbing down intending to throw the final rope down the shaft at level one to ground zero that being the first shaft he had climbed now almost two hours earlier.
Finally he reached level one again and sighing with relief brought the lantern down the shaft and held it to illuminate the tunnel looking to where he had left little Vincent with a huge smile of relief on his face…a smile that quickly vanished as he found the spot empty!
“What the!” Dominic cried, running to the spot and actually bending down to scrape his fingers along the floor, it was cold and Dominic rushed to and fro in the tunnel his eyes darting this way and that searching for the baby. “Its impossible he can’t have gone anywhere!” Dominic panicked and dwelling inside of himself sought his brother’s position. “Vincent still hasn’t found a way through that tunnel.” His brother’s frustration was now worse than before and the connection told Dominic that Vincent was still some distance away and throughout his climbing up and down the shafts Dominic had been aware of that fact keeping his brother’s whereabouts close at hand knowing how vulnerable the child was by himself with Vincent’s ability to sense where he was.
“I’m sure I left him here!” Dominic cried looking down the last shaft to ground zero. On his fingers he added the levels and the shafts he had climbed but through his anxiety and all the climbing he had done he became confused. “I must have got mixed up. Perhaps I haven’t climbed down far enough. Perhaps this is level three.” He reasoned with a sigh of relief and knowing he had already replaced the rope down the second shaft and forgetting that he hadn’t yet replaced it down the first, and confused about which level he was on, Dominic started to climb into the shaft with the intention of sliding down the new rope as quickly as possible, realising his mistake only seconds later when the old brittle rope snapped beneath his weight and sent him plummeting down to the bottom. He broke his fall with boots anchoring into the shaft walls and hands now sore and bleeding from all the climbing he had done, but even so the fall to the bottom rendered him breathless and dishevelled and shaking like a leaf. Still there in the dark he remembered the candle and the matches and immediately struck one alight and pointing in the direction of where he had laid the baby was so elated that he was sure to find him there that he even started to speak, “I’m back, are you okay?” The flickering candle illuminated the spot just three feet from the base of the shaft and Dominic felt nausea rise in his stomach to find the place empty. He gasped, searched frantically all around and found nothing but the sickening reality that there were no more shafts going down from this level. Distinctly he remembered climbing one with the baby, distinctly he remembered not daring to climb the second with the baby in tow and laying him down three feet from the bottom of the shaft in the ceiling above and distinctly knew that on his return the baby had gone! He would have to go back up and find him - he had to be up there somewhere, for with Vincent so obviously detained and with Narcissa dead and no one else in these parts, then the child must have rolled someplace dragging the harness with him. He could be hooked up anywhere, Dominic panicked for he loved the child even though he had no time for babies. Little Vincent represented everything he had ever planned and dreamed about - his whole future. Frantic Dominic reached up for the rope that would take him up to the shaft in the ceiling some three feet above his head and then just as suddenly came the sickening remembrance of the snapping rope, and the realisation that he was stuck at ground zero, and the only way out was to go back, and that would mean encountering Vincent along the way. Dominic froze, that might not have worried him unduly had he of had the baby with him, but without Vincent’s son, and without the knowledge of what had become of him…Dominic panicked…he couldn’t go back just yet. He would have to wait until Vincent gave up or found the way out and Dominic hoped it would not be the latter, for if it was the former then Vincent would make his way to where Dominic was and then what could he tell him? “Sorry Vincent, I’ve lost your son?” Eyes closed Dominic swayed as another wave of nausea hit him. It was a nightmare it had to be, otherwise where on earth was that baby?
*** *** ***
Right at that moment, the baby was snug and secure in his mother’s arms and Catherine bestowing kiss after kiss to her son’s soft cheeks literally couldn’t get enough of him. Winslow at her side couldn’t resist touching the soft downy head either, for how they had found him had been nothing short of a miracle. Coming along knowing he was there somewhere the pair had almost trod on him as holding the lantern waist high their sight had been somewhat at a disadvantage where things at foot were concerned. It was only when Catherine had grabbed Winslow and held him still and announced, “Here’s here!” That the two had looked all about them finally with gazes coming to rest at their feet and finding mere inches from Winslow’s large and hefty boots the baby lying asleep on the tunnel floor wrapped in his harness. And though they had searched all over there had been no sight of Dominic anywhere, and they had concluded eventually that Dominic had gone up, but whether or not his intention was to return for the baby they did not intend to wait around to find out.
Now they walked steadily back retracing their steps, and still some hours away from where they left Vincent Catherine hoped that their son’s cheerful and contented disposition would reveal to Vincent that all was well. And it did, but it in no way told him who his son was contented with and so Vincent continued to fret and worry until the last person he expected to see that day suddenly appeared lantern swinging before him and accompanied by a voice that asked him cheerily, “Child what are you waiting for?
“Narcissa?” Vincent peered through the light that she held before her. Noticing how the light irritated his vision, Narcissa lowered the lamp to the ground, “Yes, tis I. Now answer my question child, why are you here?”
“I’m waiting for Catherine and Winslow, they went on ahead.” Quickly he explained about Dominic’s connection with him, “And so he would know that I am following and would make sudden changes to his route in order to remain that bit ahead of me.” Vincent finished.
“I see, yet you are here when you no longer need to be. Your son is with his mother and is safe and your brother will fret and rant and rave for a while but he will come to realise that such a plan was useless. You have no need to worry about him Vincent, your brother is very resourceful and will find a life to lead that will not hinder yours further. So go, back the way you came, you are cold and unhappy, but you have no need to be. I will wait here for Catherine, unless you think you could climb on my shoulders to reach up into the shaft.” Narcissa chuckled as Vincent’s eyes became wide open and incredulous, “I would break your back!” He exclaimed but Narcissa laughed, “Nonsense I am as strong as an ox!”
“Even so, I would never climb on your back for any reason, Narcissa, neither should you suggest such a thing to anyone else.” Again Narcissa laughed, “Well then perhaps you would care to carry these rocks over to climb upon, would that be acceptable?” Again surprised by what she said, Vincent looked to where Narcissa held up the lamp to illuminate some rocks he had not known were there in all the hours he had paced the tunnel and without further ado he snatched them up one by one positioning them beneath the shaft as he went.
“Thank you Narcissa!” Vincent kissed the old woman’s cheek and hugged her tight and she chuckled as he began his climb, “Just remember Vincent, that seldom are things as bad as they seem.” He knew she meant finding the rocks but knowing Narcissa it would have a double meaning and he was greatly relieved by what she had told him regarding his brother. If Dominic left them alone in the future they would have no need to keep looking over their shoulders and expecting trouble though of course after an incident such as they had endured they would forever after be cautious of everything.
Now that he was on the level where he assumed Catherine and Winslow to be, Vincent almost fell headlong into the shaft that suddenly appeared in the tunnel floor and was about to climb down when he heard voices. That they answered one another told him it wasn’t Dominic and the baby, and that he soon recognised Catherine’s voice and sensing his son with her sent great waves of relief spiralled through Vincent. “Hold on to the rope and I’ll haul you up.” Vincent called down to them.
“Vincent, how did you get out?” Winslow called back cheerily. He was more than happy for a helping hand feeling weary and almost dead on his feet. The journey had been long and perilous and mentally exhausting and he was ready for his bed.
Vincent said nothing just pulled on the rope until first Catherine came up, then dropping the rope down again, next a lesser weight at its end indicated his son and both Catherine and Vincent pulled the rope up carefully with hearts in their mouths, and finally once Vincent had kissed his son and cuddled him for a few minutes he handed the baby to Catherine who stood by as Vincent hauled Winslow back to their level. The two men embraced and Vincent thanked Winslow for all his help. “Don’t thank me, thank Mouse. Had he not of been looking for Jamie he might never have found this place. Come to that thank your brother had he not kidnapped Jamie, Mouse would never have needed to look.”
“So what goes around comes around.” Catherine remarked, “Your brother is to be blamed for everything that has happened, if only he knew how it would backfire on him.” She then went on to relate how they had found the baby and what they had supposed had happened for Dominic to leave him there.
“Thing is,” Winslow reminded them, “Had Catherine of not had a bond with little Vincent, Dominic would never have left the child there, so thank goodness for that at the very least.”
“Doubt our son will think so when he’s growing up. Imagine two parents knowing exactly what he’s up to every step of the way.” Vincent’s eyes twinkled with amusement, Catherine had a point, as his and Devin’s childhood was bad enough with Father seemingly having eyes in the back of his head at their every turn, his poor little son would have a hard time escaping the eyes of his parents and Vincent almost pitied him. Still there were times such as now, when the very gift of the bond was so precious that he thanked God for its existence. Without it their son could have been lost to them forever.
“So what will you do now Vincent?” Catherine asked as they neared the end of their journey some hours later, “Are you coming home?”
Without hesitation Vincent told her, “Yes, I think I have been away for long enough but no doubt I have a lot of bridges to mend. Is Father very angry that I have stayed away so long?”
Literally, honestly, no sooner were the words out of his mouth then did Vincent hear his father reply, “As in the case of the Prodigal no, and had I a fattened calf we would indeed be having a feast tonight.”
“Father!” Vincent exclaimed suddenly seeing the old man leaned upon his cane and waiting for them with a few of the tunnel residents, all of whom were smiling from ear to ear.
“Vincent, is so good to have you back…welcome home Vincent…its good to see you alive and well…” Exclamations like those surrounded Vincent with, he noticed, the emphasis lying on the word ‘alive’. He beamed at his friends and family as they crowded around them, the little ones hopping from foot to foot eager to be noticed and to give Vincent a kiss as Father embraced his son and welcomed him home.
“A fattened calf we might not have,” Catherine announced “But I bet pizza all round wouldn’t go amiss?”
Amid cries of ‘Oooh Yes please Catherine,” and a hefty rumble of hunger that came from Vincent’s stomach Catherine got her answer, and laughing the tunnel dwellers made their merry way back to the hub with arms around one another and full of questions and happy more than anything in the world to see Vincent and Catherine back together again after so long apart.
And little Vincent? He was sound asleep, and as with the story of his father’s arrival to the tunnels would have to listen to the tale of his homecoming year after year feeling incredulous that he had come so close to knowing a different life story at his uncle’s hands. But that particular story wouldn’t be told for yet a while so in the meantime…
Vincent and Catherine had a story of their own to create…
And they did…
*** *** ***
“Catherine, will you marry me?” They’d been sitting upon their favourite ledge arms around each other, their son gurgling happy in his carry cot anchored between Vincent’s thighs and reminiscing on the loving they’d shared during the night just past.
“Marry you?” Catherine looked into the china blue of Vincent’s eyes and saw all her summer skies there, “Oh yes my love I’ll marry you.”
The china eyes filled with adoration and love and Catherine watched as if in slow motion he brought his lips, those glorious textured lips to hers in loves sweet kiss and breathily Catherine sighed, “All my dreams have come true Vincent.”
“As have mine, although it is almost as though we have been here before, except for him…” Vincent nodded toward their son, “He’s so beautiful Catherine, thank you so much. I love you.”
“As I love you. Oh Vincent, its going to be so wonderful to be able to take moonlit walks with you in the park again, and see the stars reflected in the lake. I’ve missed those things so much.”
“And to sit on your balcony, you do still have the apartment?” Vincent asked anxiously.
Relieved Vincent sighed “Then to sit on the balcony and wrap you in my cloak and read poetry to you?”
“Oh Catherine I too have missed those things so much.”
Snuggling against him her head on his shoulder Catherine pictured doing again all the things they had missed, until Vincent surprised her with something new.
“And to wake to find you in my arms, inside my bed every morning for the rest of my life?” Vincent asked quietly.
“Oh yes, Vincent.”
“And so… my dear Catherine... our relationship…it begins…again?” Vincent asked hopefully.
Remembering how it used to be between them and how it was now Catherine moulded her body to his and just before their lips met in a long and passionate kiss she told him mischievously, “Oh yes, my love…and so it begins…again…
…mm only better.”
*** *** ***
The stories found within this website have been written by and for lovers of the American television series Beauty and the Beast and no infringement upon the rights held by Ron Koslow, CBS, Republic Entertainment, Witt-Thomas Productions or any other Copyright holder to Beauty and the Beast is intended.
Furthermore all the stories found on this website belong to Wendy Tunnard de-Veryard, are protected by copyright and none should be copied, added to or subtracted from or altered in any way, without the prior authorisation of the author.