Castle Of Sand

Chapters 5 to 8

As the grains of love fell into place,
And the sands of time stood still,
Castles in the air were built
And dreams were dreamed until...


Chapter Five

Daniel had been great company, and Catherine had really enjoyed their time together at the art exhibition, even to the extent that it had taken her mind away fro m that other time she had attended one, and had met Elliott for the first time. She had been a trifle worried on that score, expecting perhaps to find him there, relieved when he didn’t show, though his name was mentioned more than once. It would have been difficult not to have heard it mentioned, never before or since had anyone held an art exhibition and given all the paintings away for free.
Nothing had ever compared to it. But Catherine had drawn a deep breath, gone from painting to painting, had shaken hands with people she hadn’t seen in a long time, and introduced Daniel as her date. Even feeling a little thrilled when some of her associates had stopped and told her whjat a good looking young man she had found herself, and were there anymore like him, did he have a brother for them, and such things like these.
“Did I make a good impression”, Daniel asked as they exited, and Catherine grabbed his arm, lest he hailed another cab as before, “I think so.” she told him, “its not late, did you want to go somewhere else?”
“I could still fancy that pizza.” he told her grinning.
Catherine’s mouth gaped open, “After all you’ve put away, you must have worms.”
“I’m a growing boy.” he told her, adding to himself, ‘and how so’, she was gorgeous, and he wanted her. The last place he wanted to go was to a pizza parlour, but he was eager to stall the evening, needing time to direct her into his plan, the plan that had formulated during the evening, his plan of seduction.
Catherine laughed. “Actually its quite some time since I had a pizza, so I guess I could squeeze a slice in. How about you.”
“Mmm, pepperoni, salami, peppers, onions, yep you bet, come on I’ll race you there. Its ages since I have taken a beautiful woman to my favourite pizza place.”
Laughing as Catherine hailed a cab this time, she told him, “I’m not surprised, after eating pizza’s with all those toppings, I’m surprised your breath doesn’t knock them out.”
Daniel grinned, “Then I’ll make a pack with you, no good night kisses after eating pizza, okay.”
Catherine laughed, and shook her head, “No deal Dan.”
Daniel’s eyes lit up, but before he could comment Catherine added, “That is, no kisses at all, no matter what you’ve been eating. This is just a meal Daniel between friends, so don’t go getting the wrong impression.”
“Aw, and just when I had started to hope as well. Never mind, come on then Cathy, I’m starving.”

The pizza’s were delicious. Catherine didn’t think she had ever eaten better, but then the fact that Daniel’s company added to her enjoyment really helped.
He was so funny. His stream of jokes were endless, and he could mimic so many different people, Catherine hadn’t laughed so much in ages.
Leaving the pizza parlour they had decided to walk to her apartment building, it wasn’t far, and Daniel didn’t like to see her paying for cabs, yet after insisting to pay for the pizzas he only had enough cash left for his own fare home.
“Have you anything planned for tomorrow Cath?” Daniel asked while waiting to cross the busy road to her apartment building. Earlier they had had quite an intense conversation, and Daniel was concerned. He so wanted to see her smiling again.
Catherine shook her head, “No, nothing. I was going to look over some folders, and plough through them.”
“Cathy that’s insane, you can’t spend your weekend working, you should be doing things, enjoying yourself.”
Catherine grimaced, “Working takes my mind off of things.”
“That’s as maybe, but so could doing something grand, like swimming, or horse riding, or visiting the zoo, or something. Say why don’t you spend tomorrow with me?”
Catherine smiled, “And what grand plans do you have for tomorrow that might interest me?”
“Actually I was going to spend the day painting the house, but with your help we could both do something better than watching paint dry.”
Catherine found herself laughing out loud, and hesitated before replying, giving herself a mental talking to during her silence, she really liked Daniel, and perhaps now was a good time to move ahead. The sooner she had convinced Vincent that the world above and all its trimmings wasn’t for her, the sooner she’d like it. Catherine nodded, finally replying, “All right, I’d like that. Do you have any idea what we will do. I want to be appropriately dressed.” she looked down at herself, and Daniel laughed, remembering, as did she, the stares her golden evening gown had brought forth in the pizza parlour. “Definitely out of place.” Catherine grinned.
“Definitely”, Daniel agreed, “But worth it. You see them guys in there, they were as envious as hell. Of me, I mean, being there with you. You are stunning Cath, you certainly know how to dress. You made me feel proud to be with you, both there and at the art thingy. But as to your question, tomorrow...jeans and a sweatshirt should do, we could romp around some dusty places, or have a picnic or something, or visit the zoo. I dunno, you choose. Shall I pick you up around ten?”
“Ten’s fine, are you sure, you want me to think up something to do for the day?”
“Yes think of somewhere you haven’t been in a while, only not the Bahamas or the Caribbean, I don’t think my budget could stretch to that.”
Catherine found herself laughing again, and she told him, “I’ll think of something suitable Daniel don’t worry, though not the zoo.”
“Don’t you like the zoo?”
“Let’s just say I don’t like to see animals behind bars, and besides I only went there recently.” and Catherine remembered how badly the caged lions had affected her.
“Okay then choose something fabulous, and I will too, and we will surprise one another.”
Catherine nodded, “thanks Daniel.”
“The pleasure is all mine, its going to be great. Roll on tomorrow.”
“Its almost that now.”
“Then perhaps I could stay, save going home and coming out again.” Daniel grinned sheepishly, his heart hammering, his fingers crossed. “And ruin a beautiful friendship, no way.” Catherine laughed. They had reached the apartment building, and Daniel looked so hurt, Catherine felt terrible, “Not tonight Daniel, its too soon. You know how it is, huh?”
“But maybe some other time?” his eyes lit up, he was hopeful, her words gave him that.
Catherine had no answers, “I don’t know, hey this is heavy, how did we arrive here.” She drew in a controlled breath, “See you tomorrow Daniel, ten o’clock, and don’t be late.” she attempted to change the subject. Daniel looked at her hard, Catherine saw it coming, he was intending to kiss her, and after last night with Joe, she knew she wasn’t ready for that. Turning, she hurried up the steps, towards the glass swing doors, “Night Daniel.” she called over her shoulder, “See you tomorrow.”
Daniel stood watching her go, letting her go, there was still time, tomorrow was another day. He checked his watch, and tomorrow was here. If he didn’t get home to sleep he’d oversleep and miss their date. Stepping out into the road, he hailed a taxi, and Catherine waiting by the elevator, smiled when she heard a sudden screech of brakes, saying out loud, “you’re right mister taxi driver, the guy is bonkers.” before she entered the elevator, laughing softly.

*** *** ***

It had been a long time since Vincent had ventured Above. And now as he walked around the park, he found that various sights only intensified his longing for Catherine. Memories of the two of them together made him shudder with a longing so intense, his fists balled and his temper rose towards the man that she was out with at that moment.
They’d been gone several hours, where was she? Perhaps he should wait up upon her balcony?
After the previous evening, and the sights that had awaited him there, he could not do that. Could not go there, until he was certain that Catherine came home alone. Yet for all its painful memories, the fresh air of the park, assaulted his senses, and cleared his mind, helping to put things into perspective.
True, it had been a harrowing month.
Living without Catherine, dwelling on Father’s words, coming to terms with his own beliefs, while all the time wondering if he had been right in his thinking.
The emphatic connection he shared with Catherine continued to throb with life, even though both of them had continued to close down on it firmly, and Vincent knew that he was connected to Catherine, just as much now as ever he was. Even without the open Bond, he could feel her. Her desire for him steady and strong, emitting a powerful aura and enough for him to realise that what Father had said was true, the connection he and Catherine shared could not be severed, no matter how many barriers he put up between them.
Even his feet had minds of their own, and in not many minutes he found himself staring up at Catherine’s apartment, not knowing how he had got there. His heart yearned to make his way there, despite his earlier misgivings.
Undecided, he hesitated, when suddenly, he felt her close. His heart raced, she was returning!
He heard the sound of her laughter too, ringing out not far from where he stood, and backing away into the shadows, he watched, hungry eyed, for just a mere sight of her.

Catherine was standing upon the pavement opposite her apartment building with the man he had seen her with earlier, and she was laughing at his outrageous mimicry of people that they worked with, and telling him so. “You’ve missed your vocation Dan you should have been an actor, or a comic.”
Daniel stopped in his tracks, staring open mouthed down at her,“ “Do you think so. No stop laughing a minute Cath. Do you really think so. I mean its something I once thought about doing.”
Catherine stopped to turn and face him, “Are you serious?”
“Yes. When I was a kid, I was always top in drama at school, and could even make the teachers laugh, and that’s really saying something.”
“It certainly is.” Catherine laughed out loud.
They walked up to the park gates, ever closer to where Vincent stood watching from the shadows, until he found he could hear what they were saying.
Daniel went on, “I have thought about it a great deal. At the time when I left school it wasn’t practical to spend time at drama school, because my parents relied on a wage coming in. But somehow, I always felt I was not following my true profession. Somehow its like, I’ve missed the mark, do you know what I mean Cath?”
“I can’t say that I do. There’s never been anything I was really that keen on.”
Daniel was surprised, “Really, yet you are so good at your job.”
Vincent was surprised too. “I though law was the be all and end all for you.” Daniel finished. “That’s as maybe, perhaps I inherited the flair from my father, but it’s not something I really wanted to do.”
“You surprise me. Did you never have ambitions?”
“Not really. I guess I had it made, I partied, saw a lot of the world, met a lot of interesting people, I guess I was happy, in a materialistic kind of way, but I guess I was just aiming for the thing every woman aims for, marriage, children, a home. I can see that surprises you. But do you know Daniel, anything I ever dreamed about seems so long ago now, and I’ve changed a lot since then. You see, I didn’t ever need to work. There was always daddy’s money to keep me in the lap of luxury, I only worked to ease the boredom and to please my father. And then something happened to me, that altered my way of thinking. Someone taught me a better way, high-lighted a nicer side of me that I never knew existed and I joined the D.A.’s office and found joy in helping others less fortunate than myself. I enjoy the work Dan, I really do, but somehow I feel their is something lacking and those earlier dreams I once had have returned to me tenfold.”
“You want marriage, kids and a home?”
“You seem surprised. Doesn’t everyone, eventually?”
“Eventually maybe, but you are so young.”
“Yet almost too old for first babies. I’m in my thirties Dan, that puts me in the higher risk bracket. Even with all my money and the most sophisticated apparatus to ensure a safe delivery, it wouldn’t automatically follow that I wouldn’t give birth to a child with problems.”
“Surely it would never come to that though. Prior tests would reveal whether or not the child was handicapped.”
“Yes, it would, but life begins at conception Daniel, all children are precious, an inheritance from God. No matter what a child would look like, it doesn’t give us the right to murder. You think about it. How can it be that to abort a life brings no sentence, but to give life to a child, a deformed child and then to commit murder would ensure a sentence. What’s the difference. Does breathing fresh air make a child human? No, its a life before birth, just as much as it is after. To take that life would be murder. No Dan, no matter what my child may look like, once it is conceived, it deserves to the right to life.”
“I’m impressed. So whose to be the lucky guy.... have you anyone in mind? Or are you still searching?”
“That’s a tricky question Daniel. And one I can’t answer. I’m sorry. Can we talk about something else?”
“In a moment. I’m intrigued. Tell me, this other guy...” He saw Catherine wince, and wondered if he should go on.
“Joe told you?” Catherine was incredulous.
“Not in so many words. It suffices to say he cautioned me, said you were vunerable right now, he gave me no details.”
Catherine nodded, and Daniel took courage and continued, “Do you think you have a happy future with him?”
Catherine fought for words, could find none to explain the circumstances, even if she had of been able, deciding on side-stepping the question instead, “Happiness is something I have searched for all my life. Yet it evades me.”
“It’s elusive?”
“In a way, yes.”
“So you never found what you were searching for. Maybe you weren’t looking in the right direction.”
“I didn’t say I’d never found it.”
“Didn’t you?”
Tears welled in Catherine’s eyes, and she hurriedly brushed them away, “Look Dan, let’s get off this subject shall we, let’s go back to talking about your acting career.”
Concerned, Daniel stepped around to face her, taking her in his arms, and kissing the top of her head he told her, “Not so fast honey. I didn’t mean to upset you Cathy.”
His tenderness made Catherine want to cry. And his arms around her made her yearn for Vincent.
Daniel’s probing had opened wounds that were still very tender and fresh, and the threatened tears, began to slide down her cheeks. Embarrassed, Catherine tried to turn around, brushing the tears away, but Daniel held onto her firmly sensing her distress.
“Let me walk you up to your apartment Cath.” He told her edging her towards the road. Vincent watched them go, his heart heavy, he had overheard all of their conversation. Many things surprised him, not least Catherine’s admission to carrying a child, a different child. Daniel had conceded she had meant a deformed child, physically, mentally maybe handicapped. Only Vincent knew different, only Vincent knew where her thoughts had lain on the matter.
It worried him.
That Catherine had thought passed his differences was one thing, that she had contemplated such a union with him was another, but that she had dreamed of carrying his child and accepting it come what may, was another thing entirely.
Keeping his eyes fixed firmly on the pair as they chatted for longer outside her apartment building, Vincent was relieved to see Catherine go up to her apartment alone. And then to see Daniel hailing a cab in the most outrageous way, forcing a ripple of humour from Vincent if nothing else, as the cab came to a screeching halt, and the driver shout, “You again! Do you have a death wish or something?” before pulling away, leaving Catherine behind. And as the lights of her apartment streamed out through the windows, Vincent made his way, not towards her balcony as originally planned, but back towards his home beneath the city streets.

*** *** ***

The following day dawned bright and sunny, and Catherine was ready and waiting when Daniel arrived prompt ten to collect her, she answered the door to his knock with a smile, “On time, I’m impressed. Say is that a picnic hamper I spy?”
“Sure is. Look I know its pay day tomorrow, but I have bills to pay. And I don’t want you bringing your purse out today. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and we could have fun over the road.”
“Over the road?”
“In the park. Do you play ball?”
“That depends.” Catherine grinned.
“On what?”
“Do I have to bark and wag my tail as well?”
Daniel laughed out loud, “You’re outrageous Cathy, and so early on a Sunday morning too. was it something you ate?”
“No its someone I’m spending time with, some dope whose wonderful sense of humour seems to be rubbing off on me. Do you mind the competition?”
“Hey, you can rub off me anytime. So are you ready, can we go?”
“Yes, I’ll just get my scarf. It looks a little breezy this morning.”

Making their way to a sunny spot near the bandstand, once inside the park, Daniel spread first a plastic sheet upon the grass, before laying down the blankets. The grass was still slightly damp, but the breeze Catherine had noticed coupled with the warm autumn sunshine was quickly drying it out. Nonetheless, underneath the blankets it would remain damp, the plastic would halt it seeping through to their clothing.
“Do you come here often?” Daniel asked, for Catherine seemed a little bothered about something. He gasped, suddenly remembering the implications of his remark. “Oh I’m so sorry Cathy, I forgot, me and my big mouth, look I’ll fit my foot into it.” He bent his leg around and Catherine gasped when he almost did just that, until finding her voice at last she told him, “Its okay Daniel. The horrors of that experience were over long ago. Anyway I don’t associate the park as the fear with that anymore. If anything, the fear really grabs me, whenever I am in the area where I was abducted from.”
“Nonetheless, something troubles you.”
“Yes, but I am regaining my composure.” Catherine tried to laugh.
Daniel wasn’t convinced, but was happy nonetheless. It was good to see her smiling again, yet he knew that deep within something was upsetting her. And he wished he could erase all her pain.
“Thanks for spending time with me today Cath, last night was fun wasn’t it? Would you come out with me again?” Daniel held his breath.
“I don’t know Dan. It might not be a good idea.” Catherine sighed, how much longer could she go on pretending.
She’d almost broke down with wishing it was Vincent’s arms around her rather than Daniel’s last night. And the ache for Vincent was becoming unbearable, especially now, knowing his home was just beneath where she sat, it made her feel terrible. The ever present tears threatened to fall, and as the corners of her mouth twitched she fought for control, not wanting Daniel to see her distress, in case he felt the need to hold her tight again in trying to comfort her.
She was quiet though. that much Daniel did notice. For once he let her be. Busying himself with the plates and the food, he unwrapped it, hoping he had brought food to her liking.
While he wondered about his relationship with her, hoping something would develop between them, Catherine’s thoughts were on a relationship of another kind.
Her thoughts running riot, she pulled at her lower lip with her teeth, as she contemplated everything, for the thousandth time.
Why had Vincent done this to her?
Couldn’t he see what he was doing, surely he knew?
Even with the Bond closed, Catherine could feel his presence, knew he would be fighting against the need to be together, every bit as she was. Catherine didn’t think she could carry on for much longer in this way.
This pretence of getting on with her life, involving others who cared for her, abusing their trust would soon be the death of her.
Daniel sensed that Catherine was fighting some inner turmoil, and let her find her place, until he finally prompted, “What is it Cathy. Can I help?”
Catherine smiled half-heartedly, “I’m sorry Dan to be such a wet blanket.” Daniel laughed out loud, the pun in the circumstances too much for him, and told her so, “Wet blanket, huh that’s good Cathy, under the circumstances. I’m sorry, you were saying?” he stifled his laughter behind his hands, but Catherine was delighted to notice his eyes twinkling merrily above them. Already he’d made her feel so much better.
It was painful being in the park, true, but she didn’t have to let that fact spoil Daniel’s day. Catherine gave herself a mental shake, today she would concentrate on anything else but this problem with Vincent. Today she’d enjoy herself, and make sure Daniel did too. “This the ball, we’re to play with?” She picked it up out of the basket, gathering herself to stand, and threw it high into the air, before catching it and throwing it out across the park, “Fetch Fido”, she cried. Watching with glee as Daniel jumped to his feet and sprinted after it, his words making her laugh hard, “You bet baby, we are gonna have a ball today.”
Much later, as the pair returned for the remainder of the food they had partaken of often throughout the day, they flopped wearily onto the blankets, watching the sun setting on the horizon with disbelief that they had spent the entire day out in the park. And the conversation started to wind down to serious stuff again. Daniel was wary, not knowing if he should spoil such a wonderful day with prying questions, but though Catherine had been exclusively his all day, and he couldn’t fault her, he knew that deep down something still niggled at her. Reluctantly, cautiously, he brought back the conversation they had attempted the evening before.
“Cathy, last night,” Catherine stiffened, “You implied that the happiness you seek, though elusive to you, had been found, I’m curious Cathy. What did you mean?”
“Its complicated Dan. Unless you know the circumstances, you couldn’t even begin to understand.”
“So try me?”
Catherine shook her head, suddenly feeling very weary. And not just from playing ball and laughing all day.
For how could she tell him, that yes, she had found happiness? But it was unavailable to her? Catherine sighed, suddenly defeated, “Take me home Dan.”
“Up to your apartment?” Daniel’s heart hammered, then sank as she replied, “No, just to the building, I can make my own way up.”
“I’m sorry. I can be such an idiot sometimes, I should have let it be. But you looked so melancholy. Something makes you sad Cath. I see it in your eyes. In your wistful moments. I know I can bring you out of it, make you laugh, make you happy, but its like wilo the wisp, it fades the moment other thoughts crash in on you, and they crash in on you often don’t they?”
Without awaiting her answer, Daniel prompted, “I like you Cathy. I love being with you. Look we’ve had fun today, and I know you have secrets locked away that hurt, but Cathy everyone needs to live a little. Can’t we just enjoy ourselves, have some fun, have a laugh. You can’t deny I haven’t made you laugh, and beside you are a captive audience.”
Catherine found herself grinning along with him. She did have to admit, when he wasn’t being serious, he did make her forget things, did bring a fleeting joy into her dull existence, perhaps he was right, perhaps she did need someone like him, if only for a little while.
Catherine nodded, “All right Dan, but just as long as you know, this is not a relationship. I still intend to see Joe, and other people too.”
It wasn’t what Daniel had hoped for, but it was better than nothing, “All right Cathy, your on, but just let me have first refusal huh, like what are you doing tomorrow?”

*** *** ***

Unbeknown to either of them, and least of all to Catherine, Vincent heard them leave the park. Seated as he were in his place beneath the bandstand, most of their conversation had been lost to him, though he could have listened to their words, he found that he listened far more intently to Catherine’s heart. Having her so close feeling her so tormented, while her heart screamed out to him, pained him deeply.
Even last evening while in another man’s arms he knew that it was his arms that she craved around her instead.
It was his body that she yearned to hold close.
And last night it grieved him to hear her call the man Daniel. Knowing he was the man she had felt attracted to from the office. Also to hear her tell Daniel that she was seeing Joe, and other people. What other people? Even today she had seen Daniel again, had even promised to extend that to yet another day with him.
Vincent felt he should be happy for her, but her misery cut through all that. A lead weight had embedded itself within his heart as well as her own, and though she was going through the motions of living the life she was born for, her heart simply wasn’t in it.
The few words he had heard her say last evening had also stunned him. Many times in the past Catherine had reasoned that she had no ambitions, had only become a lawyer to prove something to herself. To prove that she could be independent of her father’s wealth, and be a person in her own right, not forever under the shadow of the name of Chandler.
When she had told him these things, he had believed she was just trying to win him around, make him believe that she was forsaking all those things, just to be with him. At the loss of all else the need to keep their dream alive paramount in her mind, and Vincent had always believed he could not allow her to do this. She was good at her job, she helped others, it never for one moment, crossed his mind that it was all a farce, a stepping stone on the way to grander things.
And what had been her admonition to Daniel, not in so many words, but said nonetheless, that she no longer searched for the happiness she once sought because she had already found it, but it had remained elusive to her? Daniel didn’t understand, but he did.
Vincent didn’t need to be a genius to know that she referred to him and their dream.
Yet was it only a dream?
Vincent shook his great head, trying to clear his mind.
What if the dream had already transgressed into reality and he hadn’t realised?
What if Catherine had known this, and that’s what she had tried to make him see?
Perhaps then, Catherine could see the light, whereas he being so close to it, could not, and he in his belief he had pushed her away.
Vincent groaned, what had he done?
Had Father of been right?
Had Catherine?
Was the love that the two of them shared first love, and everything else that might come after for Catherine, only secondary?
Would Catherine ever truly find her happy life, if it wasn’t with him?
Though she walked beside another man, laughed with him, Vincent could sense the deep sadness that engulfed her, and he wanted desperately to ease her pain, knowing deep down that only he could.
Groaning, Vincent made his way back towards another place he needed to be, his heart hurting.
He had much thinking to do and there was a place he knew Below, where in peace and solitude he could unravel his thoughts and emotions, and find answers for his troubled heart.
Yet as he approached the place in mind, he stopped dead. Perhaps he had already done enough thinking, perhaps he needed to talk, and the only person he knew anything could be achieved with, would be Catherine herself. For hadn’t she told him to go and see her?
True she had meant at such a time when the pain no longer cut him. Nonetheless, he needed to see her even though it would hurt to do so, and finally making up his mind at last, he turned and made his way slowly towards her apartment via the park entrance.

*** *** ***

For long moments after Daniel had left her at the door of her apartment building, Catherine stood in the lobby just watching him go, wondering about him a lot. He really was a nice fellow, and he so obviously knew that she was needing time to sort out her life, but was it so wrong to keep him hoping for something to develop between them, when that might never be?
Things were beginning to get on top of her. Playing the game, the farce. It was all too much, and she was involving people that were only going to get hurt. And if their pain was as intense as her own, she had no right to string them along so.
Biting her lip, with indecision, Catherine thought about life Below. She had missed Father and the others, they were family to her, and she felt lost without them, but to see Vincent?
Could she?
More to the point would he allow it?
Doubtful, Catherine stepped back outside, wondering whether or not she should attempt visiting after last time, when Vincent had made it plain she was no longer welcome in his world. As standing upon the pavement wondering what to do, a sleek black car drove by, pulled up, reversed back, and drew alongside the curb to where she stood. The window wound down, and a familiar voice hailed her, “Cathy.”
“Cathy, what are you doing stood there, were you just going in, or just coming out?”
Dismissing his question entirely, Catherine could only ask, “How have you been Elliot?”
Elliot laughed softly, “You know me Cath, I’m lost without you.”
Coyly, Catherine laughed, And Elliot thrilled at the sound. “And you never answered my question.”
“I’m not certain of the answer, I was undecided as to what to do.”
“Then come with me, I was at a loose end too, perhaps we could go for a drink, have a chat, its been a long time Cathy.”
Quickly Catherine thought about her lonely apartment, and about her life. And Elliot was after all, the last link in the chain, a relationship she needed to see through, before Vincent would ever stop saying she had missed a happy life with Elliot. And so she found herself nodding, “All right Elliot, but can you give me a few minutes to change. I’ve been out in these clothes all day, I feel grubby.”
“You look a million dollars to me Cath, but if its important to you. Go put on something wonderful and we’ll go somewhere grand.”
Catherine laughed at him, suddenly her tension eased.
In fact for a moment, everything was falling into place, and speeding up. She’d dated Joe, been out with Daniel, and here within minutes was embarking on the final leg of the journey, going out with Elliot again.
Her heart raced, if she could just get past this episode in her life, she would be free. Free to be able to go to Vincent and say, ‘hey look I tried, I did it your way, but those men mean nothing to me, its you I want to be with Vincent, its you I need to be with.’ And then Vincent would have no grounds to push her away ever again, and have to know that they were destined to be together.
With that wondrous thought in mind, Catherine’s heart was uplifted, and she called out happily, “Give me ten minutes Elliot, and thank you.”

*** *** ***

Having neared the park gates, just as he had the evening before, and with his fury rising like bile, Vincent took in the scene. Elliot Burch of all people!
Whatever was Catherine playing at?
Only moments before she had been dating Daniel, and now, she was going off out with Elliot Burch?
Vincent heard alarm bells ringing in his head.
He knew how deeply in love Elliot was with Catherine.
In fact if he were honest with himself, he knew that both Joe and Daniel loved her equally as much. But Elliot Burch gave him more cause for concern, because he knew deep down inside that Elliot was the one man out of the three, that Catherine had ever felt anything substantial for, and was more in league with, and that really worried him.
Yet hadn’t he always insisted that she would have been better off with Elliot Burch?
Hadn’t he believed that this was where her destiny lay, with a man who could give her everything she had been born for?
Vincent watched as the lights went on in Catherine’s apartment. Watched the lights go on from room to room, and for the first time in over a month, he allowed himself to search through their connection. Then wished he hadn’t as a staggering surge of joy flooded through him.
Stunned, he felt the tears gather and fall from his eyes, unable to believe that Catherine would feel such happiness at going out with Elliot Burch.
And as Vincent could only stand and stare, rooted to the spot, the lights went out in the apartment again, and within seconds, or so it seemed, Catherine was stepping through the doors. The next second getting into the car, to slide herself next to Elliot Burch on the back seat, while his chauffeur closed the door, got into the drivers seat and drew the big car away from the curb. Leaving Vincent only to continue to stare with a heart torn from his chest, as Catherine sailed away into the night in the company of Elliot Burch!

*** *** ***

Mindless of how he found his way back through the park, Vincent staggered back towards his home, his eyes blinded by his grief, and made his way Below, back to his secret world beneath the city streets.
He should have felt so happy.
Should have been ecstatic, that Catherine had at last, sought her happy life with someone else.
Yet the misery that engulfed him by her happiness that flowed through the still open Bond, told him otherwise. He had lost her.
And with that feeling came another stronger one, a feeling that came too late for him and one he could no longer deny even to himself.
Of how much he really loved her.
And he now knew that it went deeper than even he had believed. Even deeper than he had admitted to Father just mere days ago.
And if he was really honest with himself, he needed her too, in the way a man needed the woman he loved.
Recoiling, Vincent stumbled forwards. He had just likened himself to a man, with a man’s needs. A man’s hunger and thirst for intimacy with the woman he loves.
Suddenly everything came crashing in on him. And he stumbled to the floor, head held in hands groaning.
He had been so wrong.
Father and Catherine had been right.
He could love Catherine the way she craved to be loved by him. She knew no fear of his other self, she trusted him, not to harm her. She had been the only one to appease the dark one, and even he loved her too.
With tears coursing down his cheeks, and great racking sobs tearing through his body, Vincent finally reached the entrance to the tunnel world.
He had fought the battle believing himself to be right, believing he had won, now he knew different, the battle was not his to fight, it had all been for nothing, and he had lost.
Lost the only thing he knew to be important to his survival, the only chance he would ever have of love.
For their love had been as fragile as a castle of sand which just as surely as a great wave would ravage the shore, he had swept it away with one sweep of his mighty arm. And the grains of love he had held so dearly, had slipped like sand through his fingers, perhaps to be lost forever, despite that which Father had convinced him to the contrary.
For Catherine would now find a new life for herself, a life with Elliot, and Vincent didn’t think he would ever be able to bear the pain of that knowledge, and he only had himself to blame!

*** *** ***

Chapter Six

When Catherine finally arrived home in the early hours, she was footsore but delirious with happiness. After a full day running about in the park with Daniel, and then dancing all evening with Elliot, she felt very much like she could sleep for a week, if it hadn’t of been the high that she had found herself on.
Never really having got over Elliot, and never really giving him the chance to explain his side of things, (because she had unwittingly begun to find herself falling in love with Vincent), Catherine had now taken the time to listen to Elliot, realising that having so many people working for him, he could only trust them to do his work correctly. And much the same as someone pretending to attempt the files upon their desk, while all the time using the opportunity to steal clients from the business for themselves, Catherine could well see that Elliot was not to be blamed for the unscrupulous way those he hired dealt with the work he assigned them.
Once she had realised this, the old attraction flared between them again. She had always been attracted to Elliot from the very first she had clapped eyes upon him at the art exhibition he had held. She admired him, and he had been there for her on occasions without price. If there was anyone she could envisage spending her life with other than Vincent, it would have to be Elliot.
And Vincent had been convinced that this was truly where her destiny lay.
Back inside her apartment, Catherine wondered about that.
If, really, there was no future with Vincent, and if, really, her destiny did lie above, perhaps she was just kidding herself. Perhaps Vincent was right. He was perhaps too different. That they were connected by a bond, that neither of them quite understood the reason for, was imaterial, perhaps love had blossomed from it, by their great friendship, and being unattached as it were, she had blown it all out of proportion. After all, being with Vincent would mean giving up the things of the world above, something she was never really convinced she could do, not long term, not really.
It was hard to believe really that she could ever flit so quickly from one line of thought to another. One moment desperately in love with Vincent, wanting only to spend her life with him, the next contemplating doing everything he had suggested, and living without him with someone else.
Switching on the light to her apartment, and kicking off her shoes, Catherine heard the crackle of paper beneath her feet, and bent to pick up the folded note.
The handwriting at once had her cautioned, and she opened it carefully. She was right, it was from Father.
Had this been the reason why Mary had come two days before? Was she bringing a similar message, perhaps the same one.
Catherine scanned the contents thoughtfully, trying to read between the lines.

‘Dearest Catherine,
Vincent informs me of the way things are, yet I hope that this seperation does not extend to the rest of us here Below. We miss you Catherine. If you could bring it upon yourself to visit, please do so, you will be made very welcome. May I suggest supper tomorrow evening? If not, could you please suggest a more suitable time. Perhaps Peter could accompany you here. I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours truly, Father.’

Why now?
Catherine’s mind raced. Hours ago, this note would have been a welcome invitation, one she had hoped for, for some time, a reason to visit, a chance to see Vincent, but why now? Now when she had begun to establish in her own mind her future course.
Father’s note made no mention of Vincent being there, but it was his home, why shouldn’t he be there?
Catherine wasn’t certain that she could stand it, the wound was still open, and it would only hinder its recovery. Quickly, before she altered her mind, she scribbled a hasty reply;

‘Dear Father, thank you for your invitation. It was never my intention to sever our friendship I too, have missed you, but Father, I won’t be accepting this invitation. Please try to understand. For almost a month I have agonised over Vincent’s decision to separate, and have hoped that he would come to me, beg me to return to him, but he hasn’t. My need for him has been great, but I no longer feel that need. I am learning to adapt to life outside the tunnels Father, its been hard, but I am succeeding. It would be wrong for me to come back just now, especially now, maybe when it no longer hurts so much would be a better time for us all. You will always be Father to me, but I have to move on, in fact in more ways than one. Peter tells me his neighbour is selling up and moving. I have contemplated buying the house next door to Peter. Too many things here at my apartment remind me of Vincent, making it all the harder to move ahead. I haven’t decided yet, but no doubt should I move, then Peter will keep you informed of this.
I’m sorry Father, please try to understand, its not you that I wish to avoid, simply, seeing Vincent now, being near to where he is, in his home, would bring back too many painful memories, and I don’t want to put myself through that. Vincent doesn’t want me in his life, and now that I have come to accept that I would find it too painful to see him so soon.
I shall always love Vincent, Father, I shall always wonder at what life might have been with him, and when he forced me to leave it broke my heart. Now I am only just beginning to see the wisdom of his actions. Nonetheless, I do know that Vincent’s courage in setting me free could be his undoing. Look after him Father, keep him safe, encourage him to find someone he can accept in your world, to spend his life with, he needs that, despite all he might say to the contrary. Vincent has much love to give, I’m only sorry it wasn’t made available to me. Be well, Catherine.’

Catherine read through her words. they were almost as mixed up as she was.
She felt much like she had just run the longest marathon of her life, and lost. Nonetheless, her future was opening before her like a flower, looking promising, full of colour, smelling sweet. Slipping the note inside her purse to drop off somewhere on her way to the office the following day, Catherine headed for her bedroom. Her happier frame of mind earlier had slipped away, all she felt now was tiredness, and as soon as she had slipped her weary body beneath the cool satiny sheets, and her head touched the pillow, she fell fast asleep.

*** *** ***

As the weeks literally sped by, Catherine found her feet hardly ever touched the floor. If she wasn’t seeing Joe, she was out with Daniel, or off somewhere marvellous with Elliot, and life was thrilling, if a little exhausting.
So when Daniel suggested that they spent the evening at the concert, Catherine sighed with relief. The thought of taking time out, to unwind, to relax and listen to music was just what she needed.
A respite from the vigour she had expended of late. And the concert had been wonderful, just sitting there, letting the music wash over her, Catherine allowed all the strain to ease away from her, and could almost believe she was sat with Vincent beneath the park, rather than at Daniel’s side, if she closed her eyes, and imagined hard enough.
And Daniel, watching the smile quirk her soft lips, sighed, how he wished she would let him kiss her.
Despite his earlier intentions he had grown to love her, and had joined the long line of admirers who also wore their heart on their sleeve where Catherine Chandler was concerned.
It also thrilled him to know that with him, she seemed to be different somehow, could unwind, and let him have an inkling into her past.
Little things that she said made him realise that somewhere within she had been hurt terribly, and was still healing.
Daniel had been patient, but the desire to love her was growing ever stronger, and he wanted to be the one to make her feel alive again, to erase the feelings that haunted her, never to have her reminded of them again. Besides that his temporary position at the office was running out, he’d soon be moving on, and could lose his chance.
Watching her joy, as Catherine listened to the music, Daniel could not stop himself from leaning forwards, and planting the softest of kisses upon her lips. Oh, the sensation, the sweetness, it sent his senses soaring, as Catherine’s eyes flew open, and she struggled to free herself, “Daniel!”, she cried, standing up, embarrassed by the people who hushed her. Catherine leapt out of her seat, and grabbed her coat and bag, her eyes wide with alarm.
Daniel recoiled, “I’m sorry Cathy, I couldn’t help myself. “ he followed her away from the audience, into the shadows of the park, as Catherine walked faster and faster away, brushing the tears from her eyes.
“Cath I’m sorry.” Daniel called after her, “Believe me, I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“Then what did you intend!” Catherine lashed out at him, her body shaking.
“I’m sorry Cathy, you must believe that. You looked so melancholy. I just wanted to kiss you.”
“You had no right!”
“But Cathy, I love you. I can’t help the way I feel, and the need to kiss you was just so overwhelming... I suppose I’ve lost everything now.” his voice so filled with sorrow touched her heart.
“I’m sorry too Daniel. I suppose I’m to blame, I let you believe that things might be going somewhere, but Daniel, surely you realised, I don’t just date you, surely that tells you something?”
“It only tells me that you can’t make up your mind. But Cath we have such fun together, you believed in me, and thanks to you, when Stella returns, and my temporary position ends, I have somewhere to go since securing a place at the Theatrical School Of Arts. I only have you to thank for that and with you at my side, I know I could make it Cathy”.
“You don’t need me Daniel, you can make it all on your own.”
“No Cathy, I want you to share it with me, Cathy I love you, please.”
Catherine backed away. His sorrow cut through her like a two-edged sword and knowing she had been the one to plunge it there, filled her with grief.
Suddenly before she knew what she was doing she was running away from him, out across the park, trying to distance herself as quickly as possible. To find a place to hide, and regain her senses.
To ease her guilt. Her guilt at knowing she was also running from herself, from feelings he had ignited by that one soft kiss.
Daniel chased after her, and as Catherine rounded a bend, and before she got back into his sight again, she dived against the branches of a large bush, watching as Daniel ran straight by, calling her name.
For long moments, Catherine just stood there, regaining her breathing, calming her racing heart, when suddenly she realised she was not alone. The hairs on the back of her neck stiffened, as she sensed a presence somewhere close to her.
Sweat broke out on her brow, and all that Isaac had taught her flooded to mind.
“You can kill a man with the heel of a shoe Cathy.” she could hear Isaac’s words in her head. Thinking about that, Catherine knew at this stage that would be useless, to suddenly lift a leg to remove a shoe, and be on one foot, when her attacker grabbed her, would be nothing short of folly.
Instead as the presence moved ever closer, and Catherine felt him behind her, she stepped back quickly, grabbed an arm, and tossed the person over her shoulder, before running forwards without looking back.
“Isaac taught you well.” The softly spoken words filled her heart to bursting, as Catherine turned, and cried, “Vincent! Is that you?”
Stepping back, Catherine could just make out Vincent’s form getting up off the ground, his cloak dishevelled until he straightened it, and he couldn’t help but laugh at her.
“You’re lucky I didn’t have a gun on me.” Catherine laughed, walking right up to him, “Why did you creep up on me like that?”
“I wasn’t sure what to do, and you almost ran into me anyway. I was hoping I could get past you, without you noticing.” he laughed.
“Oh Vincent,” Catherine took another step, and feeling her body meet his, could not help herself from sliding her arms around his waist, “Just hold me Vincent, please.”
Vincent could not have stopped himself from complying even if he had wished it, and as his arms stole around her body, his mind reeled, the familiar scent of her enflamed him.
How good it was to have her back where she belonged.
Standing there in the shadows they fortified one another, wrapped in one another, loving every moment of contact.
Vincent closed his eyes, he must be imagining this, surely when he opened them again, Catherine would be gone, yet when he did and found her there still in his arms, and he could have wept with relief.
“How have you been Vincent?” he heard her words tremble on a whisper.
There was so much Vincent wanted to say, but Catherine was continuing, “I’m trying Vincent. Its not been easy, but I’m getting there. You said I had courage, and I’ve needed every ounce of it, but I’ve missed you so much.”
“I too have missed you.....Catherine....” he wanted to tell her he’d been wrong. That he needed to speak to her, but they both stilled to listen as her name penetrated the darkness, borne from Daniel’s lips, and Vincent drew away from her, back into the shadows.
Out of breath Daniel saw a silhouette in the halo of the park lamp, and sighed with relief, “Cathy is that you, were you there all along? You gave me such a fright. I’m so sorry Cathy, I never meant to frighten you away.”
Catherine sighed deeply, aware that Vincent was only inches away, feeling through the now opened Bond, a sense of unfathomable anxiety that she could not put her finger on. For a moment she feared for Daniel, surely Vincent wouldn’t hurt him? Surely he would know that Daniel meant her no harm?
Then why did she feel such anger coming from him?
“Come on Cath I’ll walk you home.”
“Its okay Daniel, I’ll be okay. I met some friends, I’ll go back with them.”
“Then where are they?”
“They’ll be back in a moment, you go on home, I’ll see you at work tomorrow.”
Daniel was shaking his head, “Sorry Cath, I don’t believe you, and its insane that you should stay out in the park at this time of night, come on you will be safe with me and I won’t try anything again I promise.”
Catherine attempted a laugh which didn’t quite come off, “Daniel its okay really, I often walk through the park by myself, I’ll be fine.”
“That’s the silliest thing I have ever heard you say Cathy. Come on I’ll take you up to your apartment.”
Catherine desperately wanted him to go, to leave her alone with Vincent, but there was little else she could do. Seeing it from his standpoint, it did seem rather stupid to insist she would be all right by herself.
“Just see me to the building then Daniel, its late and we both have work tomorrow.”
“Don’t you ever think about anything else Cath. There’s more to life than work you know.”
“Try telling Joe that.” Catherine attempted a laugh.
“Okay.” Daniel laughed with her, grateful that the moment had got back on an even footing, and suddenly broke into song as he strode ahead tugging her along behind him. “Hi ho, hi ho, its off to work we go, with a bucket and spade and a hand-grenade, hi ho, hi ho, hi ho.” Catherine burst into laughter, grateful when behind her as she ran along at Daniel’s side, she heard Vincent laughing too.

*** *** ***

“You look better Vincent, did the walk do you good?” Father was quick to notice the smile his son wore as he slipped the cloak from around his shoulders and lay it upon a chair.
“I saw Catherine Father.”
Father’s eyes lit up, “You did how is she?”
Vincent chuckled, “Fighting fit, she threw me to the ground.” And Father couldn’t help retorting, “That pleased to see you was she?” his eyes twinkling with mischief.
Vincent laughed out loud, “She literally ran straight up to where I was keeping out of sight in the bushes, I think she believed I was someone that might attack her.”
Father frowned, “Vincent what were you thinking of, it could have been anyone, don’t you know to keep out of the way of people?”
“It wasn’t like that Father. I was keeping to the shadows. There was a concert in the park tonight, and when I heard the sound of someone running towards me, I dived for cover behind a bush. Unfortunately Catherine dived behind the same bush.”
Father drew his brows together, “Who was she running from Vincent?”
For a moment Vincent was unable to reply, finally telling Father, “She was out with a man, I don’t think he meant to harm her, but I don’t know why she was running from him.”
“And did this man see you too?”
“No, Father, rest assured, once Catherine knew it was me, we stepped back out of sight, and when he returned Catherine stepped back into the light so that he could find her.”
“So tell me Vincent, the reason for your change of mood, for a certainty you seem a lot happier than before you went out. And if Catherine was out with another man, I wouldn’t have thought you to be happy about that?”
Vincent smiled, a smile that lit the blue of his eyes, “That’s just it Father. We embraced, and stood together like that for several minutes, without speaking. It was wonderful. There was healing in that embrace. More like old friends drawing comfort from one another.”
Father nodded, he could understand that, “And did you see her home.”
Vincent’s tone changed, “No.” as he lowered himself down into a chair opposite his father. “Is that bitterness I detect Vincent?”
“Catherine’s date took her home.”
“But you would have liked to have done right?”
Vincent could not reply. His mind was in turmoil, and it didn’t help to hear Father saying, “The bitter and the sweet huh Vincent. So Catherine crossed your path yet again. Doesn’t that tell you anything?”
“It tells me nothing, it was pure coincidence, and you’d do well not to keep telling me otherwise.” there was something harsh about Vincent’s tone, and Father was wary, wishing he hadn’t of marred his son’s joy with probing questions.
“I’m sorry Vincent.”
Remorseful, Vincent got to his feet, and stepped across to his father’s side, laying a reassuring hand upon the older man’s shoulder, “No, Father forgive me, it is I who should apologise. Ever since Catherine and I separated, I have been troubled one way or another with my feelings towards her. One moment I believe I was justified in sending her away, the next I am telling myself what a fool I have been. Sometimes Father I just don’t know which way to look at things. For a time I began to believe that Catherine and I should be together, as you know, but that was before Elliot Burch came back into her life.”
“Elliot Burch? How long has she been seeing him?” Father was dismayed at this bit of news. “A few weeks. She sees Joe and this other man, Daniel also, but if any of them trouble me more it is Elliot.”
“Because he is influential, wealthy and mixes in the same social circles, as Catherine once did?” Father asked as tactfully as he dared.
“Yes, and because...” Vincent bowed his head low, “because... Catherine once found herself falling in love with him.”
“But that was a long time ago Vincent. And Catherine has fallen in love with you since.”
Vincent lifted intense blue eyes up to Father’s, “And I was too stupid to see it.”
“Vincent no, you always knew how much Cathy loved you.”
“Did I?. Did I really Father? I am beginning to doubt even the truth of our dream.”
“Why Vincent?”
“Because now I know it was no dream. Father, what Catherine and I shared was a fact, although I did not know it then, and I pushed her away. And now that I know it, it is too late for me. How could I expect her to return, when she is at last following the path I set her upon?”
“Yet did she show any sign of wanting to pursue it when you saw her this evening Vincent?” Father rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
“She told me she was trying, that it hadn’t been easy, but with the courage I’d insisted she had, she was getting through it. Though she misses me.” Vincent sighed, as tears gathered and fell swiftly, and a long low moan erupted from his soul, “I miss her too Father, and even if she was to come back to me, I still haven’t lost the fears that forced her away.”
“And you won’t Vincent, not until you confront them together. Did you want my advice Vincent for what its worth?”
“If it would help Father”, Vincent raised hopeful eyes to his parent.
“Go and see Catherine. You said that there was healing in your embrace. Maybe Catherine needs you as much as you need her, perhaps all is not lost.”
Vincent shook his head, “I cannot, it would only put us back, and we have come so far. Its not been easy on either of us, but at least Catherine has been trying to find the happy life she was born for. And maybe it does lie with Elliot Burch..”
Father remained silent, until Vincent prompted, “Father?”
“And maybe it lies with you Vincent.” he told his son softly. “Remember the reply she sent to my invitation? Her very last words were that you had not given to her the love you were so capable of.”
“They weren’t her exact words Father.”
“Well near enough, the meaning was the same. It told us enough that she had hoped once that the two of you could have had a life together.”
Vincent exhaled a deep sigh, “If only I could believe that. Apart from tonight’s chance meeting, Catherine has made no attempt to contact me, or been Below to see anyone. Doesn’t that speak for itself?”
“Perhaps, but didn’t you tell me that she tried this once before and you sent her away?”
“Yes, but that was the day after we went our separate ways Father.”
“Nonetheless, it must have hurt enough for Catherine not to attempt repeating it. And knowing Cathy as I think I do, I still believe that she will return to you. In fact I believe that she is only dating these men to please you, so that you have nothing to force her away with in the future.”
Vincent shook his head, “Be it were true, but Elliot Burch Father, why him of all people, she knows how he feels about her,” his tone lowered to continue, “ and how she once felt about him. Surely she knows the danger that is involved here?”
“Perhaps Catherine sees Elliot as the key in all of this. After all, he is the one that is powerful enough in his own right, and the one you always believed Catherine should be with.” Father continued to rub his chin thoughtfully, “I wouldn’t put too finer a point on it Vincent, but if I were you, I would join the flock so to speak.”
Vincent raised his head, “Join the flock Father?”
Father nodded, “Let Catherine know that you want to be in the running also, along with all her other followers, assuming that you do of course, and that you haven’t just stepped out of the picture entirely. That you do intend to be considered along with the rest.”
Vincent could only stare at his father aghast, until finding the words to answer he told him, “There is no contest Father. I do not stand a chance against the rest, look what they can give to Catherine. What have I to offer?”
“Only yourself Vincent, and if I know Catherine, that would be enough. More than enough. Except, perhaps if you offered her a life Below with you, then I think that would be considered the icing on the cake Vincent.” Father held Vincent’s gaze, his sapphire eyes serious, “Truly Vincent, if you want any say in this, you have to let her know how you feel. As far as Catherine is concerned, since she has lost you, she has got to now find second best, and that might be with Elliot Burch. You have to consider that, but also know that what the two may share, could never be as perfect as what the two of you could have had. Remember your connection Vincent, if nothing else let that be your guide. Your destinies were linked Vincent whether you can accept that now or not.”
“And I severed it Father.” Vincent moaned softly.
“Yet all is not lost Vincent, there is still time. And there is no time like the present.”
Vincent was shaking his head, “To go and see her you mean?”
Vincent shook his head, “No, I don’t think I could bear to do. He might be there with her.”
“Then send her a message, let her know that you still care.”
Vincent nodded, a message yes, he could do that. Of course it was the perfect solution. His eyes lit up, “Thank you Father, as always you haven’t failed me. I’ll go put pen to paper straight away.”
“And have someone take it up to the apartment the moment its done Vincent, so that not another day passes, before Catherine knows you are still thinking about her.”
“I don’t think there will ever come a day when I’m not.” Vincent rose from his seat, and bent to brush a feather-light kiss upon his father’s head, before walking towards his own chamber, he’d never before considered himself as part of the equation, even if he had given the impression in the beginning that this was so.
And for the first time in many months Vincent felt lighter of spirit.

*** *** ***

When Catherine let herself into her apartment, she felt drained. Seeing Vincent, feeling the need to stay with him, being forced to leave him behind, was all too much for her.
And how good it had felt to be enfolded into his arms.
Surely he could not have been unaffected. It felt so right to be there.
Tears fell swiftly, as she contemplated a future without him.
At least now she was pursuing the avenues open to her, and she had enjoyed the last few weeks, in a wild and abandoned sort of way. Almost like burying one’s head in the sand, while having a ball. By putting the heartache firmly to the back of her mind, she had enjoyed the hours of each day as full as possible, so what little few were left to be alone, were filled with much needed sleep, instead of restless dreams, and helpless yearning.
Tonight though, would be different, it was still quite early in comparison to the hours she had been frequenting, and having seen Vincent, her heart was in turmoil.
The longing to see him again was great, and she hoped that he might come to her, but as the evening ticked away, she hoped in vain, and eventually as she got herself ready for bed, Catherine could not help but stand outside on her balcony watching the city below, praying with all her heart that he might still come to her.

*** *** ***

On the way to his chamber, the force of Catherine’s need hit Vincent, and he surged forwards, grateful of the tunnel wall for support, and stood looking dazed for some moments, confused at such emotions coming through their connection. Especially as earlier she had given him no indication of such need. Perhaps he should have visited her after all.
For long moments he was undecided. In the frame of mind she were in, a dangerous situation could develop between them, especially with the dark one ever present whenever he had felt such an attraction from Catherine in the past. Always the dark one waited and pounced upon any such situation, but that had been at times when they had been together and the desire had risen, at that time, he could make his excuses and leave. But to go there, deliberately when her emotions called to him with such desperation, well, Vincent knew the folly of that. Shaking his head, he made his way to his chamber, to sit into his chair, and dwell upon their connection. Vibrant with life and emotions that stirred him against his will, he fought the pull of her to him. It was almost magnetic. A time or two he even rose to his feet and it took considerable effort to force himself to be seated again.
His eyes were haunted, the pain he bore evident in the lines around his face, and what was worse was his obvious arousal, it shamed him more than anything, and he grew wrathful that Catherine was submitting him to this so openly. It was so unlike her, especially in the view of the fact that she had so obviously been having a relationship with the other men now in her life. Why did she then have this driving need for him as well, it just didn’t make sense.
Eventually, unable to bear it alone any more, Vincent went in search of Father. Catherine’s feelings had increased, and Father at least could help to hold him back from going to her. He found Father already in bed, and aplogised for diturbing him. Usually he would have waited until morning, but this couldn’t wait, and that alone had Father wide-awake within seconds.
“Vincent what is it?”
“I need your help Father. Catherine is calling to me via our Bond.”
“ Then why don’t you go to her?”
“She isn’t in danger, she is calling me for another reason.”
Father struggled to sit up, and Vincent went behind him, fluffing up his pillows, “Thank you Vincent” his concern evident, he went on, “How so? In which way is she calling to you. Do you know?”
“Yes Father I do, and I won’t go to her. I won’t. But the way her body calls to mine, is frustrating, her need is great, and I cannot give to her what she needs.”
Immediately Father began to understand, shaking his head, “It doesn’t make sense. Oh I could understand this if she had not been seeing anyone, but she has for goodness sakes, we both know that. There was that unfortunate incident that Mary encountered with Joe Maxwell, and she has been seeing that other fellow....”
“Daniel”, Vincent whispered.
“Yes, Daniel, and Elliot Burch....I haven’t liked to believe all my ears have been told about her Vincent, it doesn’t ring true, not Catherine. Oh I know the sex thing was the obvious reason for your separation, but Catherine going with anyone in such a short space of time, and still want you, it just doesn’t make sense.”
Vincent hung his head, “That is the conclusion I drew. Nonetheless Father, the pull is great. I need your help to stop me from going Above to her. I fear I am too weak to resist alone.” “Vincent you can’t mean it, you were always so against such an event with Catherine.”
“I don’t mean to give in Father, I don’t intend that, but this pull she has over my body this night, I find it hard to ignore. And I would never go there with the intention of satisfying that need, but Father don’t you see, I want to go, I feel… compelled to go, but I know it would be disastrous to do so. I need you Father to stop me, to give me something other to do, to keep me here.”
“Its a little late Vincent, what would you suggest?”
“I can see you are tired, chess would be out of the question, perhaps we could just talk.”
Father nodded, “About this problem or something else?”
“Something else, yes definitely something else.” Vincent replied sadly. Father nodded, that was the way of things then, despite his wishes Vincent’s heart cried out for release. Father drew in a deep breath, and prepared himself to listen, as Vincent started to speak about Catherine, all over again.

*** *** ***

Chapter Seven

Her skin hot and feverish, Catherine waited by her balcony wall, looking without seeing at the city lights below, her mind willing Vincent to come to her. Deep inside she knew that what she was doing wasn’t right, but her needs were powerful and desperate. For three years and more she had denied herself the right to love. Though she and Vincent loved in spirit, it simply was not enough anymore. She so desperately needed to show him how much she loved him, that she would give him anything, anything at all to prove it to him, and they needed that. Despite his fears, they needed to move through and beyond them. The time had come for that.
Standing alone, waiting, Catherine dwelt deep inside the Bond, calling softly. For the first time, embarrassed by her probing, but nonetheless insistent on her goal, her words rippled through their connection, softly coaxing. “Vincent, come to me. I need you. We can be anything to one another if you will only believe. Come to me my darling, let me love you as you yearn to be loved. I will offer you every thing. I need you now Vincent, do not delay. Come to me, please my love.”
The words went round and round in her heart, speeding via her heart and through their connection, knowing at the back of her mind the distress it would cause him, but convinced that he would not be able to ignore her pleadings.
When an hour of desperate yearning had passed and he still hadn’t come, or answered her need through their Bond, Catherine became angry and hurt. He had deliberately ignored her, yet earlier he had been so pleased to see her, so reluctant to leave her, she could not understand it.
Suddenly she remembered Father’s invitation. She looked at her watch, it was the early hours of the morning, Father would be asleep in bed. Catherine smiled with acknowledgement, Vincent too might be asleep in bed. Would she have the nerve to crawl in beside him?
A delightful mischievous smile formed and Catherine hurried inside to begin dressing. She would go Below and if she should chicken out, she could always use the guest chamber, and confront Vincent in the morning.
Again she stopped herself short a couple of times, and tried to tell herself how wrong all of this was, but the need, the over-riding need chased all doubts away. They needed this, this is what it was all about, and she had waited too long for him to make the first move. He would never do that, he had not the experience. No, she reasoned, seduction in its purest form was definitely the answer.
Happy with herself, Catherine made her way down to the basement, her intent obvious. She was going in for the kill.

*** *** ***

Vincent was in mid-sentence, when he stopped to listen, “Catherine is coming Below!” He exclaimed, the fear and distress apparent on his face. Father struggled from the bed, reaching for his clothing, “Where is she do you know?”
“Yes. Father I must go to her.”
“Vincent No, haven’t I just spent half the night stopping you from doing just that, not that I minded, but wouldn’t it have been a waste. You must stay here, wait for her here, when she comes, we shall speak with her together. I still cannot understand it Vincent, it is so out of character for Catherine. Why she is acting like a bitch on heat, its preposterous, unbelievable, she can’t be in control of her mind right now, it has to be something physiological Vincent, it must be, Catherine would never act so out of character.”
Vincent hung his head, “I fear I am the cause of that. Maybe if I hadn’t of stopped seeing her, if I hadn’t of insisted she should live without me, this would never have happened. But as you say it doesn’t make sense. My heart aches that she has so easily and so quickly too gone with other men, for the things I was unprepared to give, but I cannot comprehend why she feels in such distress, such need for me, when that need has so obviously been appeased.”
“Neither can I. But then perhaps it hasn’t Vincent. Perhaps she has remained chaste.”
“Father I saw them with my own eyes. Joe Maxwell and Catherine... kissing, and then Mary saw....”
“I know all that,” Father took up from where Vincent was unable to finish, “but maybe nothing happened.”
“Then what of the kiss. Are you saying I imagined it? I saw them Father with my own eyes.” Vincent shook his head, “I saw them. It broke my heart.” Vincent looked up sharply, his senses told him that Catherine had arrived, an instance before the Bond confirmed it and her words rang out. “Who did you see Vincent?” She stepped down into the chamber, coming towards him, her eyes bright with love, and yes, Vincent flinched and stepped back, with desire and longing too. He grew afraid, she had not seemed to have noticed Father and her intent was plain. Coming towards him, he saw her hands reach for him, just as Father coughed, and halted her. Catherine stopped, turned, seemed stunned to see him there, but she had known, hadn’t she? When she had entered, who else had Vincent been speaking to?
“Hello Father,” Catherine composed herself and smiled, “Are you well?”
“As well as I can be at 3 o’clock in the morning. What are you doing up at this hour?”
“I couldn’t sleep. I needed to see Vincent.”
“What’s so important that it couldn’t wait until morning. Catherine are you all right?” Concerned, Father hobbled over to her, as Vincent lifted a chair and placed it behind her. Catherine had placed a hand to her head, and she swayed slightly, gently moaning. “Whatever is it Catherine? Are you ill?” Father felt for her pulse. It was rapid. Her body feverish and clammy.
Authority and years of medical experience took over, at once Father was doctor, “Carry Catherine to the hospital chamber will you Vincent, something is certainly amiss here.”
Lifting her was easy and a pleasure, but Vincent was unprepared for the assault. the moment he lifted Catherine into his arms as her lips sought out the exposed flesh along his throat, trailing kisses that made him catch his breath. “Catherine.” He growled a warning, but she would not heed it, instead her hands caressed his shoulders and his chest, making him hurry, eager to put down this troublesome burden, eager to put space between them.
Gasping for air, he settled her down on the hospital bed, her eyes held his, and Vincent felt his throat constrict. Her eyes were filled with longing, with desire, with need. It was so unlike her!
Now at close quarters, the Bond vibrated with her need. Only father’s pass me this Vincent, pass me that, kept him there. He longed to run. Run away from those compelling green eyes, from the emotions that held him captured.
Hours, it seemed passed, when in effect it was only twenty minutes or so, and Father could find nothing wrong. But her temperature was high, her pulse still raced, and turning to find Vincent ever watchful of her, almost to the point of fear and expectation, Father dismissed his son, sending him off on an errand that wouldn’t appear so obvious.
When he had left, Father took Catherine’s wrist, examining her again. The pulse had lessened considerably, but not so the tears. They came now swiftly, as Catherine shook her head, and begged forgiveness, “Father, what is wrong with me? I cannot control this need. It drives me, I feel so ashamed. What ever must you both think of me?”
“Would you like to talk my dear, start at the beginning? Perhaps this is what you need. We have all missed you Catherine, and I mean all, but this is so unlike you Catherine, you are usually so in control, I cannot understand it at all.”
“Neither can I really. Its like I’ve been taken over, Father. Can you understand that? Its almost as if my need for Vincent has become so totally out of control that he is all I can see ahead to find peace again.” Her voice trembled as she went on, “Father, I love Vincent so much, these weeks away have been hell, a living hell.” She sobbed now, her tears falling thick and fast.
Father patted her shoulder, “But Catherine, you always seemed to be enjoying yourself, you’ve been seen, with Elliott Burch, a man from your office, and your boss, Joe Maxwell. We all thought that you would be er... would well you know with either one of them, and that this need you speak of should not be a problem.”
Catherine’s tears stopped abruptly, “What on earth gave you that idea! Father have you not heard a word I’ve said. I love Vincent. There is nobody, nobody, Father that I want if I can’t have Vincent. Do you seriously expect me to jump into bed with the first man who shows an interest in me, just for sexual gratification!” Her voice rose, and Father blushed, stammering, “Well, er...”
“You did didn’t you!” Catherine’s eyes opened wide, “Oh Father, how could you!”
“The facts spoke for themselves, Catherine.” Catherine turned her head sharply at the softly spoken words, to see Vincent returning, his eyes on her intently, “You were seen.”
“By whom!” Her rage apparent, Vincent hesitated, as via the connection, the denials hit him.
“By myself, by Mary.” He went on sadly.
Catherine lowered her gaze, fighting for control, until with some composed dignity went on, “I’m not guilty of the things you are implying. If you saw anything then you were mistaken. Vincent, I swear, I would never willingly betray your trust.”
Vincent shook his head, wanting to believe, but he hadn’t dreamed Joe Maxwell kissing her, neither could it be disputed that Mary had gone to the apartment at seven in the morning and found a half dressed Joe Maxwell there, at that hour.
“You don’t believe me do you?” Catherine’s voice crumpled.
“I want to do.” Vincent told her, “but with my own eyes I witnessed you kissing Joe Maxwell.”
“With your own eyes. Where? When?” Catherine was clearly confused.
Father decided to intervene, “Vincent went to see you at your apartment one night. He felt that you needed him, but found Joe Maxwell there, saw the two of you kissing.”
Catherine remembered, and turning her eyes challenged Vincent’s, “You saw one of us kissing, Joe. If you had stayed long enough, you would have known the truth of that. Joe kissed me, I was not a willing party to that, and though I responded for mere seconds, it left Joe extremely hurt. For it was your name that I uttered not his. The only thing that Joe’s kiss did for me, was to make me wish it were you, Vincent, you. I love you, I’ve never stopped loving you, I never will stop loving you. No matter what, not time, not death, not unforseen occurance, nothing can stop me from loving you. Believe me Vincent. You are everything to me.”
Catherine stared at Vincent, willing him to believe with her eyes, if her words should fail. Vincent looked stunned. He was stunned, her words thrilled yet frightened him, but he was still unsure. almost taking the words right out of his head, Father went on, almost as if she hadn’t spoken, “And then there’s the little matter of Mary finding Joe in little more than a towel when she called on you the following morning. Even you cannot deny that he must have stayed the night?” He asked her accusingly.
“I don’t deny it. Joe did stay. He would have continued to stay, but for that kiss. He flooded his apartment by leaving the bath taps running, I said he could stay with me, he took the invitation the wrong way, he kissed me, I spoke Vincent’s name, Joe was upset, he left the next morning, end of story. I’ve dated him since, but he knows how things are, he understands we are nothing more than friends. Can never be anything more than friends.”
A ton weight slipped from Vincent’s shoulders, he found his breath again, steady, even, and exhaled a breath long and slow, with relief. But Father went on relentlessly, “And then there was this other fellow, whatshisname...”, “Daniel” Both Catherine and Vincent uttered together, causing a shy smile from both of them, for each of them, and Father went on, “Yes, Daniel, and Elliot Burch. Cathy! Why Elliot Burch, of all the people!”
Suddenly something snapped inside Catherine. “What is this, the third degree! What the hell has it to do with you! Vincent set me free, told me to find a new life for myself. That is what I thought I was doing. Trying to do!” the tears slipped down her cheeks again, “but I can’t” She sobbed harder now, “I can’t.”
Standing still, Vincent ached to go to her, to put his arms around her. It distressed him to see her like this. Her pain transmitted itself to him, yet, what could he do? To go to her now, would put them back again. That she was trying was plain, that she found it difficult was also plain, but after almost four months apart, and not seeing each other until the previous evening, each had begun, if ever so slightly to accept their fate, and lead their separate lives. Though each loved the other was not in dispute here, they would always love one another, desperately, but they had to live apart, there was simply no other way. But Catherine disagreed, as always, her eyes pleaded with his, her words begged it of him, “Vincent please, let me back into your life, I need you so much. I can’t get through life without you.”
“You can Catherine. I know you, you are strong, a fighter, you have courage, and so much to give, you can do this Catherine. You must forget about me. You must.” the words almost broke his heart, but he had to insist this was right, it was the only way.
“But I don’t want to do. Vincent, I love you, only you, and we can make it work Vincent, I know we can. Please Vincent, I’m begging you. I can’t live without you!”

Vincent shook his head, his tears running freely as did her own, even Father knuckled away some moisture that had threatened to overflow in his own eyes. His throat felt tight, he was unable to speak another word, and watched these two, as one would a play unfolding. He could see Vincent’s point of view, he could see Catherine’s, he could even see a future for the two of them, but Vincent had to believe in it too, before that would be possible.
“Remember the castle of sand Vincent.” Father was aghast to hear himself speak out loud, he hadn’t meant to do, didn’t even know how he could, his throat felt so tight with unshed tears, yet Vincent was turning to him, listening, acknowledging the words. “I remember Father, but that was long ago, we have both moved on now. It no longer applies.”
“Does it not Vincent?” Father found his voice, amazed that he had. “Nothing has altered, everything is just as it was before Vincent. You know that, deep down you know nothing is resolved.”
Catherine was looking from one to the other of them, ‘castle of sand? Whatever were they speaking about?’ It confused her, but there was something else, whatever it meant, it was something good, something positive she was certain of it. Had she suddenly found herself an ally in Father? Was he siding with her? It didn’t seem possible!
Suddenly Father yawned. It was contagious, Catherine followed, stifling it with one hand, apologies quickly following, “I’m sorry Father, you’re tired you should get some rest.”
“You too my dear. Things always look brighter in the morning. Perhaps we should leave any discussions till then.” He yawned again, making Vincent feel selfish for keeping him up so late.
“I’ll show you to the guest chamber Catherine,” Vincent told her, startled when she refused.
“No, take me to the threshold will you. I’m going away for a couple of days on business, my flight leaves at nine.” How had she forgotten that earlier?
Vincent looked from Catherine to Father unsure, and Catherine laughed easing the situation considerably, “I won’t bite you.” She told him, making him grin, “You’ll be in safe hands. Well maybe.” She put her hands behind her, “See no hands. Father do you have any handcuffs, just in case I get tempted though?”
Father laughed, he couldn’t help himself, his laughter eased the tension that had filled the hospital chamber since first they had all three entered it, “I’m going to tie your hands with trust my dear. You seem better in mind and spirit than when you first arrived, I trust that you will not now seduce my son in the tunnel ways.”
Vincent blushed, “Father!” but Father was giggling mercilessly, and Catherine could not stop herself from joining in with him.

*** *** ***

Faced suddenly with the fact of Catherine going away, Vincent didn’t know what to say as he walked alongside her through the tunnels towards the threshold. He didn’t know if he’d be able to find his voice even if she hadn’t of been going away of course but that alone made him feel regrettably sad. In all the months of their separation, he had been glad of one thing that she was close. That he could at any given opportunity visit her, see her, check that she was okay, although the one attempt he had made of that still burned within his brain, the night Joe had kissed her. But Catherine had explained all that, and as they walked along in silence, Vincent knew he at least owned her an apology. “I’m sorry Catherine, for jumping to conclusions, over you and Joe.”
“I’m sorry too Vincent, that you had to be hurt by that. But what I don’t get Vincent, is why you were snooping on me anyway? You set me free to find a life for myself and then I have to hear that not only don’t you want me Vincent, but you don’t want anyone else to have me either. Vincent, what am I supposed to do?”
Vincent drew in a long shuddering breath, before trusting himself to speak, “It’s true, I can not bear to see you with anyone else, I admit that, but its the only way forward, for you, for us. You have to follow your heart Catherine, you have to live the life you were born for.”
“If I followed my heart Vincent, I would never leave you, not even now. I would go back with you into your world and never want to leave it ever again. That would be to follow my heart. Does that shock you?”
Vincent shook his head, hiding the longing in his eyes with his long frame of hair, “No” He whispered, “I know how you think you need me.”
“Its more than that Vincent. And I think you and best leave me now to complete the journey alone, or I will be breaking Father’s trust in me.”
Vincent looked up sharply to see the desire filling Catherine’s eyes again. “I want you Vincent, no-one else will do, so unless you want me to become an old maid, alone on the shelf, you had better do something about it. For I promise you, I’m not giving up on this. You fear for me for something you don’t even know would exist, you deny yourself the right to love, when it is not for you to make that decision. If I offer my love to you, you should take it Vincent, for I know what I am doing, but do you?”
Vincent shook his head, though not with denial, “For you to say those things, to me, it is incomprehensible...”
“You’d better believe it Vincent, for its true. There is no one for me but you. Oh I might be attracted to others, but mere attraction is no foundation for a solid relationship, and ours is as solid as it comes. You love me, yet you deny it, and I love you, and as long as it takes, at whatever cost, you are going to believe it eventually, and you aren’t going to get away with it so easily from now on. I’m going to hound you Vincent Wells, with my heart, my presence and with our connection. I’m going to hound you until you give in, because you are all I need, and you know, deep down you know that I am what you need.”
They stared at one another for long moments breathing rapidly, until Catherine turned on her heel and strode away from him. As she turned the final corner to the threshold, she could still feel his eyes upon her back, and in some small way glorified in the feeling it gave her, knowing without a doubt that at last, he was giving consideration to her words. And she had meant every one of them.

*** *** ***

Later, while some of the night still remained, and Catherine had decided to sleep on the plane, rather than risk over sleeping now at this hour, she was not surprised when a light feathery breeze rippled in one corner of her balcony, signalling that Vincent had arrived
Catherine turned her head, her hungry eyes eager to feast upon the sight of him and shuddered at the way he stood there just looking at her. His eyes were hidden from her by the fold of his hood but she could feel the aura that surrounded his very presence. He had been drawn to her as a bee to nectar, and his own senses throbbed vibrant with desire for her. Every nerve ending tingled, in hungry expectation.
“I shouldn’t have come.” He whispered. Holding her gaze.
”But you have. Are you going to leave again?”
“No.” Vincent swallowed with difficulty, “Catherine, what you said...I cannot believe that you would say those things to me, neither can I believe that you could want me, like that, in that way. Really...” He drew in a deep ragged breath, “Is your need that bad?”
“What are you asking? Is my need so bad that I’d have even you!” Vincent was rocked to the core at her words, the need to flee imminent, but her next words halted his headlong flight. “Or do you mean is my need to make love with you guided by the love I feel for you? Vincent surely you know the answer, have I not begged enough? I want you Vincent Wells, all of you, you want to know how much?” Stepping towards him, Vincent stepped back, the hard stone wall behind him with the street eighteen floors below and Catherine in front. For split seconds Vincent did not know which offered him the most danger, but when Catherine’s hand reached out and touched him, simply there was no alternative, he wanted her, just as surely as she wanted him. Right or wrong, good or bad, his need was as great as her own.
For long moments they stared at one another, neither speaking, and Catherine saw a picture flash through her mind of her earlier plan of seduction, and smiled softly. That would never work now. Though she had touched him, he had to make the next move. He was here. He’d come to her, and breathlessly, she found her voice, “kiss me”, she pleaded softly.
“Yes.” that one word melted her, the sound of his voice, Catherine closed her eyes, feeling herself sway, and in those seconds of darkness he stepped towards her enclosing her in his arms. Catherine clung to him, drinking in the scent of him, moulding her heated body to his.
“Hold me” Her voice rich with desire begged him, “Hold me, tighter. Vincent, tighter.”
Vincent complied with her wishes, or were they his own? Simply, he never wanted to ever let her go again. Catherine trembled, turning her face to his, drawing her hands free to clasp behind his head forcing his face down towards hers. For split seconds, Vincent froze, but then he relented, he wanted this too, he also wanted her offering desperately, hadn’t that been why he had willing gone when her body had called to him?
Their lips met, in a blaze of fire. Vincent was stunned, his mind reeling, his arousal flaring into throbbing life. Catherine glorified in his response, drawing closer to him, moaning as she felt his hardness against the pit of her belly. God, she wanted him, she clung to him, her lips beneath his hungrily searching out all the places she had longed to know for so long. When her tongue flicked into the cleft of his upper lip, Vincent was lost. His head swam with a burning desire, he was out of control and before he realised what he was doing, he had lifted her to carry her to her bedroom, his heart thudding in his ears, his lips never leaving hers.
Catherine whimpered when he lowered her down to the satin sheets, following behind in one swift movement to lay with her there, his hands roaming over her curves, aware, just, that she had loosened his clothing. Her fingers wending their way through the many layers that he wore to reach their goal. As Catherine’s fingers made contact with his hot and silky hardness Vincent shuddered, her hands were bliss upon him. Never had he felt anything so glorious in all of his life.
“Make love to me, please Vincent” Catherine begged, “I need you so much.”
In a daze, Vincent shed his clothing, never knowing how Catherine had discarded her own so quickly, knowing only that within seconds she lay naked before him, his eyes focused on her offering, his hands touching every where.
He had no experience, and whether it was from instinct or Catherine’s encouragement he did not stop to ask, but suddenly he was filled with the most exquisite emotion, the feeling of his body sinking into hers.
Only Catherine’s screams triggered his response, believing he’d hurt her, he froze, pulling away, his senses returning. “Catherine, what have I done?”
“You didn’t hurt me, that wasn’t pain crying out Vincent, well maybe a little, its been a long time for me, over three years, and you aren’t exactly average you know, please come back... “ She tried to make light of it knowing his fears, “Vincent?”
Vincent was shaking his head, what had he done? He had been blinded by passion. How had he got here? He looked around him, startled almost to see where he was, pained at finding Catherine naked before him, “I shouldn’t have come here. This is not right!”
Gathering his clothing, he hastily dressed, leaving Catherine a little bemused, “Isn’t it kinda late for that Vincent. You were almost there, in fact...”
He swung on her, his blue eyes blazing, “What?”
“Well it happens Vincent,” She tried to laugh it off, he’d assumed he had stopped before going too far, but Catherine knew from experience, that his passion, his need had erupted inside of her within short seconds of entry, but Vincent was shaking his head in denial, disbelief and shame.
“Catherine! It stands! It still stands, we cannot be what you want us to be, I love you, but I could hurt you. Forget about me Catherine, you must! You must!” And within seconds he had left her, gone out into the night, to only he knew where, but Catherine did not feel alone, never would she feel alone again, he would return, she was sure of it, he had made love to her, and he would return. Hugging herself tightly, Catherine exhaled a sigh of pure pleasure, happy in the knowledge that they had just taken a giant leap forward, and things could only get better from now on.

*** *** ***

Returning at last from the business that had taken her out of town, Catherine was happy to step back through the door of her apartment. She’d been gone weeks. The case had been a tricky one, the witnesses scared of talking. She’d needed all her attention to coax them to come forward to attend the trial, in order for a very dangerous man to be locked away for the next twenty-five years.
Had it not of been for all of that Catherine would have gone mad. She ached, literally ached to return home, to see Vincent. Now she was home, she quickly donned her jeans and sweatshirt, and hastily left her apartment. Nothing, especially no telephone messages would delay her going to him, she desperately, desperately needed to see him.

*** *** ***

Deep beneath the city Vincent felt her coming to him, and froze. For the last seven weeks he had berated himself for his weakness, had hated himself for giving in to the pull of her body for his.
He could now feel her surge of happiness and it scared him. He could not meet her! Instead as before, he went in search of Father.
“What is it Vincent?” Father’s concern was once again evident, as it was that night seven weeks ago, when Vincent had sought him out then.
“Catherine is on her way down.” Vincent told him.
Father rubbed his cgin thoughtfully. “And you don’t wish to see her?”
“No, Father, I said No.”
“Very well then Vincent, why don’t you go someplace, and let me speak with her then. I have missed Catherine even if you haven’t.”
Vincent scrowled at him, “How can you say that! You know I have missed her?”
“I know nothing of the sort. Seven weeks ago, huh you seem surprised, did you not know that I have been keeping account of the weeks? No obviously not, well Vincent seven weeks ago, when Catherine was last here, you went above after she left. You went to her that much you told me, its what you left unsaid that makes me concerned. In light of how you reacted to her coming here at that time, I am only left to wonder at whatever must have transpired between you two. So maybe Catherine can fill me in.”
Vincent challenged him with his angry blue eyes, “Leave it Father, what happened between Catherine and I, is our business.”
“Then I trust you will handle it alone, and not involve me. You know how I feel about it Vincent, yet you will neither listen nor consider my words. Catherine loves you, she is prepared to live here with you, and you won’t get a chance like this again.”
“Who says I won’t” Vincent flared.
“Well will you?”
“Who can say?”
“Would you want it, would it be any different with someone else?”
“No. I love only Catherine. There could never be another for me that I would love, as I love Catherine.” Vincent hung his head shamefully.
“Vincent....” Father hugged his son, “Stop, and think about this, what you are losing, what you are pushing away. Elliot Burch is waiting in the sidelines, have you not read the newspapers. The reports say he is grieved by the length of time Catherine Chandler is away, but when she returns they will be seen together again in the public eye. Do you really want to force Catherine to be a part of Elliot’s world?”
Vincent brushed tears away that threatened to fall, “You know I do not. But how can it be any different.”
“I told you before Vincent, I’ll tell you again. Remember the castle of sand. Its fragile, it’s made up of the purest refined grains, so soft, so pliable. It can be shaped into anything that you want to shape it Vincent, and so too can it be swept away by the elements if you do not protect it. Realise what you stand to lose here Vincent. The grains of love will expire with the sands of time, if you do nothing to stop it. And you can stop it Vincent, to your lasting happiness, you can put a halt to its progress, believe me.”
Vincent stared at Father, understanding every word, yet defiant in his conviction, “I have not the right to stop it.” He gasped, “neither do I dare.” He told Father sadly before he swept out of the chamber away to the lower levels, as he heard Catherine approaching from the other way.

Listening to his son’s receding footsteps and Catherine’s approach from the other direction Father waited, a smile ready on his lips, as Catherine swept into the chamber, “Was that Vincent, beating a hasty retreat Father?” She asked knowing full well it had been.
Father smiled, “Welcome home Catherine, are you well?”
They embraced, hugging one another tight, “Its good to be home Father. The case was a harrowing one, and I have earned my reward, two whole weeks off, can I spend them here?”
Father’s face grew grave, “I would like for nothing more, but I don’t know if it would be wise. Whatever happened between the two of you?”
“Vincent didn’t tell you?”
“No. He was adamant that you had no future, and that night you were last here, well I thought we had ironed out a lot of misunderstandings, and I hoped that we would be seeing more of you again. And then the next thing I hear is Vincent leaving a few hours after you went home, and returning like a bear with a sore head. He’s been in the strangest mood ever since then. Won’t you fill me in?”
Catherine shook her head, “I can’t, it’s not something we can talk about. It’s between Vincent and I, and I cannot talk to him if he refuses to see me. I would still like to stay though, can I?”
“I don’t think it would be wise. You know Vincent he takes time to come round.”
“He’s had seven weeks!”
“I know, but that’s without you, having you close, here, well he would have trouble with that. Whatever the problem he has to bear it and come to terms with it. Catherine I have to ask you...”
Catherine smiled mischievously, “What do you have to ask me?”
Father hesitated before continuing, wondering whether he ought, “That night. That last night you were here, I placed my trust in you not to seduce my son. Did you break that trust?”
“Not in so many words.”
“How many words?”
Catherine swallowed, really Vincent should be discussing this with his father it wasn’t her place. “Vincent arrived at my balcony. It wasn’t one-sided Father. He wanted me as I wanted him....”
Catherine licked her lips, scanning the chamber anxiously, searching for a sign of anyone overhearing, but they were quite alone, “and we began to make love.” She finished quietly.
Father drew in a long controlled breath, exhaling it slowly, tears filling his eyes, “You were unharmed?”
“Yes, but Vincent didn’t believe so.”
“Why was that my dear?”
“Father, you’re a doctor, you’d understand. It had been a long time for me, years,” She smiled becomingly, “I was a little rusty, it hurt, I screamed, Vincent got the wrong impression. Need I say more?”
Father chuckled, “No Catherine, I think I get the picture. And that explains everything. Thank you, I know it was difficult to tell me, thank you for your confidence.” He looked away thoughtful, he understood it all now. Vincent’s behaviour and his reluctance to talk.
“Yes Catherine.” His concern was evident, there was something in the way she had spoken his name.
“There’s something else, something Vincent isn’t aware of, maybe hasn’t even thought of, or maybe he has, I don’t know. I only know that it shocked me when I found out.”
Warning bells sounded in Father’s head, “What is it Catherine?”
Catherine took a deep, controlled breath, before speaking slowly, “Father, I’m carrying Vincent’s child.”
For long moments the room swam around him, and Father had to steady himself by flopping down into the nearest chair. He stared at Catherine with disbelief as if she had just told him the sky had fallen in. Shaking his head, he told her, “Tell me it isn’t true?”
With difficulty Catherine swallowed, “It is, its been confirmed, while I was away. I’m sorry Father.”
“What will you do?”
“You aren’t considering having it!”
“Father what do you take me for! When I said I loved Vincent, did you not believe me? I thought you did. My love for Vincent’s extends to every part of him, even his seed. This is his child. How can I not love Vincent’s child!”
His voice steadying, his heart regaining its steady pace, Father regretted his outburst, “I’m sorry Catherine, forgive me, it was just a shock that’s all. Did you want me to tell Vincent?”
Catherine shook his head, “No, I don’t want Vincent to know.”
“Not to...?” Father stared at her aghast.
“Please. I don’t want him to feel pressurised into anything he isn’t ready for. It wouldn’t be right. He has to accept me in his life before he can accept this. Please Father, you won’t tell him?”
“I feel as though I have just been burdened with the biggest secret in the world and told not to tell a soul. Catherine it is burning out of me. How can I not tell him, he is my son.”
“And this is your grandson, please Father, you know it makes sense.”
“That’s what I said,” Catherine smiled tenderly at him.
“You know already?”
“It’s called technology Father. Medical advancement, Besides I would have known anyway.”
“How much more do you know?” Father’s face was grave.
“If you are asking the impossible Father, at this stage, I know little more than what I have told you. I’m pregnant, it’s a boy and it’s Vincent’s. As to your unasked question, as to what he will look like, I can’t answer, but it doesn’t matter, not to me, in fact to have a child like his father....” Catherine smiled warmly, her eyes glinting with tears, “that would be the finest thing of all.”
“You are one remarkable lady Catherine Chandler. I will be here for you, you know that, any time, any way, don’t hesitate to ask.”
Catherine rose to hug him hard. “That you will deliver your grandson is all I need to know Father” She told him.
Father knuckled away tears of joy, telling her, “As if you had to ask..”

*** *** ***

Deep beneath the catacombs Vincent paced. Up and down, up and down. Catherine was still in his world, he could feel her, yet he couldn’t feel her. The change was remarkable, though he knew that she was still Below awaiting his return, her heartbeat was muffled, it echoed somehow, why he did not know, but beyond the beat of her heart was another lesser one. A echo he concluded to be of her own.
Since that night in her apartment Vincent had done nothing but think, he was tired of thinking, His head ached with it. His heart felt ragged and desolate. He had hurt Catherine, as he had known he would hurt her, and yet the feel of her body had been so exquisite and Vincent could not believe that he had entered her so easily, had even reached that stage so blindly.
After leaving her at the threshold, her body had remained calling for his, and without Father’s restraint, Vincent had gone where she had lead, willingly, blindly, driven by a need that had matched her own. He had no regrets that he had loved her, only that he had hurt her, yet still his conviction remained that she would be better off with someone from her own world, even with someone like Elliot Burch! And though that thought pained him, Vincent sincerely believed it should be that way.

*** *** ***

Chapter Eight

Elliott was as happy to see Catherine as Vincent was not. Seven weeks away from her, had not lessened his devotion any. Had in fact increased it. He virtually gushed over her. Even before her bags were unpacked he was calling her, inviting her to join him to this function, and that function, telling her he had missed her, and had planned so much for her return.
A little disconcerted at his attention Catherine shrugged it off nonetheless. Only she knew that in a few months from now, whether Vincent was willing or not, she would move from her apartment to the house next door to Peter with its easy access to the tunnel community. Which was something she had realised from the moment Peter had mentioned the sale of the house, that it would be the perfect opportunity for Vincent and herself.
With access via the basement to the tunnels, they could have their ‘life’. Both of them could be happy. She could continue working, and he could mind the baby. Catherine smiled at that thought. At first when she had planned this, the baby had not been a part of her dreams, now it seemed that it had never been anything else. Simply she could hardly think passed the time when the child did not exist. Already a fierce possessiveness surrounded her, a mother’s link to her unborn, unlike no other emotion, a cherished bond that existed between the two alone. Every day, Catherine grew to know her son, her happiness knew no bounds.
So she agreed to seeing Elliot, and she agreed to seeing Joe, just as before, just as Vincent had insisted upon. Daniel had gone now, left while she was away, leaving her his regards with Joe, hoping they would meet again sometime, wishing her well. Catherine silently thanked him for his humour at a time when she had needed it most, it had been his unfailing wit that had kept her sane, at the most despairing time in her life. And still she should despair, still there was no Vincent, but Catherine could not despair, for she had his child growing within her, and nothing could rob her of the joy that brought.

As the weeks turned into months, Catherine continued to make her preparations, knowing that although Vincent still stayed away, whether she was Above or Below, she simply could not linger any more from moving out of her apartment, and employed Peter’s help to undertake this.
Saying goodbye to her apartment was one of the hardest things she had had to do. There were so many memories there for her, not least the night, the only night she had shared making love with Vincent, be it ever so short, it stood out in her mind as the beginning of her future. She would not have traded it for the world, even though the event had lost Vincent to her. She would have him back, she knew that, and she could wait. The wait would be worth it in the end.
However, she could not leave without first letting him know. That was only courteous, no less protective. If he should come to her balcony when someone else lived there, it would be dangerous for him, and so for the first time in many months, Catherine wrote him a letter.

Dearest Vincent,
I have to let you know that I am moving. Not far.
I have bought the house next door to Peter, and shall be living there as from Saturday.
You are more than welcome to visit. In fact, it will be less of a risk for you to do so. There is access via the basement of the house to the tunnels.
This is not something I have undertaken lightly, the contract has taken many months.
Six to be exact to complete and exchange.
I know you will miss our window to the world, but the new house has a garden with a high wall, and no overlooking neighbours. It would be perfect for catching the sunshine, ad you are more than welcome to try it out. I hope I shall be seeing you soon,
yours forever, Catherine.

When Vincent read the note, his mind was filled with doubts and questions. Why had she moved? Why had she planned this so many months ago, long before their first separation? Obviously she’d had him in mind. It was easier to the tunnels, no risk for him, the sunshine, yes the sunshine, it was all done for him, that much was obvious, but why now. Why continue with it, now that things between them had changed?
Vincent read the papers, avidly, they told him that the wealthy daughter of the late Charles Chandler was a regular date for the equally wealthy Elliott Burch. Some had even speculated on a wedding announcement soon between the pair. And he was happy for her, wasn’t he? He’d always known that Elliot and Catherine were meant for one another, this was where her destiny lay, this was where her happy life existed. Yet deep down Vincent could not let it rest. Though the papers told him one thing, her note told him the opposite. Though the photographs in the papers showed him Catherine, laughing alongside Elliot Burch, her arm slipped through his, her plans to move house told him something else. None of it made any sense to him. Catherine appeared to be moving on, appeared to have done all he had expected of her, but she still could not let go. Still the fight was on, for him, for her, for the both of them. He almost hoped there would be a wedding announcement soon, then perhaps he could begin to forget, begin to acknowledge that Catherine really was no longer his, and they could both start to forget and get on with their lives.
Yet try as he might to instil this belief into Father, the one whom was once was so against a relationship between himself and Catherine, he could not make the older man see that Catherine and himself did have no future. Everything he explained, Father listened to, but when he had finished Father would adamantly disagree. There seemed to be no way out of the vicious circle, and Vincent could not see the way ahead.
Then one evening every thing came full circle.

Vincent had been reading the papers as usually. It was a kind of bitter sweet torture that he put him through every day, hungry for news of Catherine, eager to know of her plans, when suddenly the news jumped out at him.


The city today awaits the announcement of New York’s most eligible bachelor and his partner, the daughter of the late Charles Chandler, following speculations that Miss Chandler is pregnant. Confronted with the issue, Miss. Chandler denies the pregnancy, but do not the below pictures speak for themselves.

Vincent looked down his heart in his mouth, to two photographs of Catherine. He saw one taken just a few months ago, showing her form, slim and beautiful in a stunning evening gown, Elliot Burch at her side, to another more recent photograph, showing Catherine from a side view, the unmistakable bump, signifying the truth.
Vincent couldn’t find his breath. He’d lost it some way between the words and the photographs, and he gasped, clutching at his heart, as the room span around and around. Catherine pregnant! With Elliot Burch’s child. No!

The tunnels were buzzing with the news, and Father found himself in a predicament. Sending a message to Catherine at once, he hoped that she would soon advise him on how he should act. In the meantime there was Vincent to deal with.
As the subject of his concern wandered in to dinner finally, a hushed silence settled over the tunnel people who had lingered to see if Vincent might make an appearance. Now that he had, they wished they had got away earlier. He was obviously distressed, but it was more than that. They had seen him many times like a coiled spring about to snap, and this was one of those such times. Only hunger had drawn him there, yet when the food was positioned in front of him by a more than jovial William trying to ease the situation, Vincent just stared down at his plate refusing to eat.
What little chatter had begun following William, soon died again, as Vincent scraped back his chair, and made a hasty retreat.
Father looked from one to the other of them, their startled faces hiding nothing. They were fearful for their friend and protector. These last few months hadn’t been easy on him, and those that were especially close to Vincent had carried the loss of Catherine in his life with him.
Nonetheless nothing could have prepared them for this, they had always hoped that Catherine and Vincent would get back together, now their future couldn’t have looked more bleak.
Father looked at them, from face to face, he desperately wanted to tell them, but could not. Vincent was the one who needed to know first and he could only do that with Catherine’s permission, or could he? Did he have to sit by and watch his son suffer when the ability to cheer him lay in his hands. Scraping back his chair also, his meal unfinished, Father hobbled after Vincent as fast as his legs would carry him.

Leaving the dining room, Vincent had no idea where he was heading. He just had to escape. He needed air, fresh air, and tugging on his cloak, he left his chamber, heading for Above. His first thought was to go to Catherine’s apartment his second halted him. Catherine no longer lived there. She had said she was living next door to Peter now, but would he find her there. Wouldn’t she more likely be with Burch? Vincent could not even bring himself to utter the man’s Christian name.
Reaching the park at last, Vincent stood gulping in a lung-full of much needed air. His home had stifled him this evening. The sadness and the sorrow displayed by his friends more than he could bear.
He only had himself to blame. He had set Catherine up on this road, and now he had lost her. Lost her to the one man he despised above all else, yet not for the man he was, but for the woman he had taken.
Vincent had never felt so alone.
His heart tried to rejoice, that Catherine now had everything she had ever dreamed, she would marry, and be a mother, and she had her career, above all she had life above, the sunshine, all the things that below she would have been deprived of. Yet somewhere deep in the recesses of his mind, a voice whispered, yes, but is she happy?

Walking through the shadows of the night, Vincent let his feet take him, wherever they might lead. Now he knew why Catherine’s heart echoed. He was picking up on the child’s heartbeat. That in itself unnerved him. To think he could feel Catherine alongside his own heart was something he had always cherished, but to be reminded daily by the beat of the baby’s heart that she carried another man’s child was more than Vincent could bear.

The tears silently falling, Vincent walked the deserted streets, the areas he knew to be less populated, the areas he found solitude in, but could find no peace. Lost and alone, he stumbled blindly through the near deserted streets and his tears, until he began to notice where his feet had taken him. Stopping and looking up at Elliot Burch’s office building, Vincent felt a sudden rising panic that filled him to the core, and made him gasp for breath. Reaching out to steady himself, he slunk back into the shadows, as doors from vehicles he had only now noticed, started opening and closing, and voices rung out, as the big double doors leading into the building slid aside. Cameras started clicking, flashes flared, and Vincent edged back deeper into the shadows, his heart in his mouth.
“Mr. Burch, Mr. Burch, do you have a statement for us, regarding your relationship with Catherine Chandler?” “Are you going to marry?” “When is the baby due?” “Are you hoping for a son to carry on the Burch dream?” Elliot looked decidedly uncomfortable, he waved their questions aside, knowing he must say something, if only to get them off his back. They had hounded him all day. “I’m afraid you’ve got the wrong guy.” He told them, “Catherine Chandler and I are just good friends nothing more.”
“Are you saying you’re not the baby’s father Sir?”
“What do you think?” Elliot asked.
“You’ve been seen together so often.”
“As I said Catherine and I are just good friends. Why don’t you speak to the lady herself.”
“She’s here?”
Elliot nodded, “Inside.”
“Will she make a statement?”
“If she will, you’ll know more than I do.” Elliot signalled to his men to bring his car up front, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment.”
“Are you going without Miss. Chandler Sir?”
“Contrary to popular opinion we aren’t joined at the hip.”
“Not tonight no” Someone quipped. “Been there done that though, eh Mr. Burch.” The reporter winked, and then blinked as one of Elliot’s body guards gave him a black eye. The flashes flared again, this was news, more exciting than before and it gave the reporters something more to work with.
The doors behind them were opening again however, and Elliot leaned back, extending his arm, as Catherine came through them, looking nervous and irritable, “Why don’t you all mind you’re own damn business!” She cried at them as the cameras started flashing again, “My life is not up for debate!”
“Touchy, touchy, Miss Chandler, are we to assume that your condition has made you irritable, or is it that you and Mr. Burch had hoped to keep the news to yourselves a while longer?”
Catherine glared at the bunch of reporters, eager to tell them to go to hell, only what would that accomplish. Elliot was clearly disturbed though, and this was doing little for his image, Catherine was well aware of that. Though it would heap speculation on her, she nonetheless, set him free. “Mr. Burch is not the father of my child.” She told them, as Elliot took her aside to whisper, ”I told them that Cathy they didn’t believe me, perhaps you should have said nothing. I could have handled them, now they will hound you relentlessly. There will not be a moments peace, and there will be nowhere you can go where they will not follow.”
“Don’t worry about me Elliot, I do know of somewhere.”
“Well I wish you’d tell me your secret Cathy, I often need an escape like that.”
The reporters were crowding in again, shoving for the best picture of Elliot whispering into Catherine’s ear, “You make a handsome couple, are you certain the baby isn’t yours Mr. Burch?”
“Positive. Miss Chandler and I are just good friends.”
Immediately as his words gained impact, the reporters dismissed Elliot, bearing down now upon Catherine, as Elliot’s body-guards ushered her to a waiting limousine, parked behind Elliot’s own. “So who’s the lucky guy?” “Does he know yet?” “Is it Joe Maxwell?” Catherine hurried to the car, slipping into the passenger seat, cradling her unborn baby with her hands held to her stomach in a protective manner that was not lost to the reporters. Thrilled at getting some of the best shots for their editors, each competed with the other, and Elliot watched with sadness.
All day he had bombarded Catherine with those very same questions. Who was the father? Knowing for a fact it wasn’t him. She’d never let him near her. And he felt pretty sure it wasn’t either Joe, or that Daniel fellow she had once been seeing. He’d heard a rumour of course, well not so much a rumour. Something Joe Maxwell had delighted in telling him, months ago, okay the guy was a little worse for drink at the time, but Elliot couldn’t help thinking that Joe had told him just for the spite of it. “Cathy is using you Burch, just as she used me, and Dan. There’s this guy see, someone she is in love with, he doesn’t want her, and she is trying to make him jealous by dating us. You’ll see Burch, you are just another pawn in her game of love.” Elliot hadn’t believed Maxwell then. He believed him now.

All Vincent became aware of as he listened in the shadows was the delight at hearing it wasn’t Elliot’s child. Its parentage still bothered him but he felt so much better that it wasn’t Elliot Burch. The relief flooded through him, until suddenly a thought rose its ugly head. What if the father had been someone in Florida, where Catherine had spent seven weeks on a case. What if, Catherine was never seeing the child’s father again, what if she didn’t know where to find him?
As all Catherine’s happy life crumbled around him, Vincent didn’t know which was worse. The thought of Catherine raising a child alone with all the problems that would bring her, or the thought of Catherine married to Elliot Burch..
Vincent groaned, either way, he’d lost her. For even if they were to re-unite now, the child would be a constant reminder to the mistake he had made in forcing her away. Vincent’s body literally shook, watching as Catherine and Elliot were each driven away in opposite directions, and the reporters got into their vehicles and followed behind the limousine that was carrying Catherine, in the hope of seeing it take her to the home of the child’s father.

Returning to the tunnels in the early hours, Vincent felt both mentally and physically tired. He had also aged ten years in the time he had been away, having undertaken, he felt, the most harrowing experience of his life.
Passing Father’s chamber, he was surprised to see a light flickered there, and entered cautiously, “Father are you well?”
Immediately Jacob Wells, looked up, he’d been dozing, trying to stay awake, waiting up for his son’s return.
“Arh Vincent, there you are.”
“Were you waiting up for me Father?”
“Yes Vincent sit down will you. I have something I must tell you. Have you been Above?”
“Yes Father. Father?”
“Yes Vincent?”
“I saw Elliot and Catherine together, there were reporters everywhere. Don’t worry they didn’t know I was there, I’d have given them a better story though, perhaps taken the heat off of Catherine.” He tried to make light of the situation, tried to smile, but it was forced, his sadness shone through.
“And?” Father questioned.
“I overheard Elliot tell the reporters that the child isn’t his, and then later Catherine confirmed this. I don’t know whether to feel relieved or not. If the child isn’t Elliot’s then Catherine may be left to bring up a child alone, in time her resources will burn out, she will be left to juggle motherhood with a career. We’ve seen it a hundred times Father, someone always loses out.”
“Are you suggesting anything Vincent?”
Vincent’s blue eyes blazed with something, fear, guilt, anger, Father wasn’t sure. “I’m suggesting nothing. Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps the child’s father does know, perhaps Catherine and he plan a life together.”
“That’s a lot of perhaps Vincent.”
Vincent was quiet. Yes it was, but until he knew otherwise it was all he could surmise.
“Yes Father?”
“Should Catherine find herself alone in this, and need someone, how would you feel about her being down here and bringing the child down here?”
“I don’t know. It would be a constant reminder. I don’t know if I could bear that.”
“A constant reminder, of what?”
“Of the fact that I forced this upon her. Be that the child were mine, I would want nothing more than to have Catherine live down here with us, but another man’s child?” Vincent shook his head, “Father I don’t know if I could bear it.”
Something in the way he said it, made Vincent look up instantly, Father was preparing himself to say something important, he was sure.
“Wasn’t there something you had waited up to tell me Father.” Vincent hoped he could direct his father’s musings away from whatever he was about to suggest, not knowing if he wanted to hear it, whatever it was.
“Yes, that’s what I was leading up to. There is something you should know. Forgive me Vincent. I was told in confidence, and asked to keep the secret. I didn’t like withholding it from you, but I’d made a promise.”
Nervously Vincent waited, “Has this something to do with the father of Catherine’s child, do you know who it is?”
Vincent drew in a startled breath, his hand held to his heart. He didn’t want to hear this. An unknown man was easier to bear than a name. A name that would go around and around in his head until it sent him mad.
Yet he continued to stare at Father. Immobile, waiting, wanting only to run, but his legs seemed unable to function for their purpose.
“Yes Vincent I do know. I don’t even know if I should be telling you now. You see I made Catherine a promise.”
“Catherine told you!”
“How long have you known?”
“Ever since Catherine returned from Florida.”
“Yes I know.”
“How could you keep such a secret. From me!”
“I didn’t want to do. As I said I promised.”
“Doctor confidentiality doesn’t come into this Father. We are talking about the woman I love. I had a right to know.”
“Yes you did.”
Vincent’s mouth dropped open. “You’re agreeing with me?”
“Vincent... The child is yours.” Vincent thought he had misheard. He shuddered, his breath coming hard and fast. Terrified for him Father left his bed to hug his son tightly, trying to stop the shaking., as Vincent’s blue eyes looked up at him his eyes full of questions, and something else. Father smiled, yes it was there. Love, definitely love, pride, disbelief, a whole lot of disbelief.
“Its true Vincent. Apparently the night you went to her, you made love to her.”
“Only for a moment, when I thought I was hurting her I stopped.”
“A moment is all it takes Vincent.”
“Yes but....”
“There are no buts Vincent. Catherine is expecting your child. Now what I want to know is, what you are going to do about it?”
Vincent gasped! “I must go to her, at once.”
“It’s almost dawn Vincent, even at her new home that would be most unwise.”
“I cannot wait another day. Father I must see her!”
As he hugged his son tightly, Father became aware of another presence at the chamber entrance, and looking up he was startled, surprised, happy and extremely thankful to see Catherine standing there.
“I got your message Father. I came as quickly as I could. I take it you’ve told him?”
Sharply Vincent looked up, his eyes a blaze of tears, as Catherine came down the steps towards him.
Father coughed, “Its lovely to see you my dear, and may I say that you look radiant?”
“Thank you Father, all compliments regarding my size are gratefully received.” Catherine laughed, watching Vincent’’s movements avidly. He hadn’t moved. He just stared at her, almost as if he were trying to place where he had seen her before. Catherine smiled at him warmly, holding out her hand, “can we go to your chamber Vincent, I think we need to talk?”
Taking her hand without question Vincent rose, following meekly. ‘Just like a lamb,’ Father chuckled, watching him go. ‘Just like a lamb.’ He settled himself back down for the night, feeling so much better and having a good feeling about things. Everything will be well now, he told himself, they’ll patch things up, there will be a happy ever after for them. He smiled happily, and you Jacob Wells, he heard his heart echo, will be a grandfather!

Inside his chamber, Vincent and Catherine faced one another, she smiling encouragingly, as Vincent placed a hand over the bump that signified his child’s growth, “Mine?” He asked her.
Catherine nodded, her eyes never leaving his face, a face filled with wonder and delight. “Your son,” Catherine informed him happily.
“My son,” Vincent echoed, his eyes looking up to gaze into hers, “Oh Catherine.” He drew her into his arms, “I love you so much.”
“Well you had better do. I haven’t just handed in my notice and moved house for nothing you know. And I expect you to make an honest woman of me. You know how the gossip columns will behave if I don’t get a ring on this finger.”
Vincent gasped, “You saw me? Tonight when the reporters were there, you saw me?”
“No, not saw you. I felt you. Isn’t that strange. For the first time Vincent, I actually felt your presence. It must be having a part of you inside me that made the connection when you were near. I can feel it now. Your son identifies his daddy is close.”
Vincent gasped. Oh the words! Words he never dreamed to hear. Ever!
“Catherine, I don’t know what to say? I never dreamed, nor less hoped that I would ever have a child of my own.”
“Then let me tell you what to say shall I?” Catherine laughed, she felt so happy almost as if she were on something. Her feelings were that exhilarating.
Vincent nodded.
“Repeat after me.” Catherine told him, “I Vincent Wells.”
“I Vincent Wells....” Vincent repeated, wondering what she was going to say next.
“Take thee, Catherine Chandler.” Catherine went on.
Vincent hesitated.
“Go on its easy.” Catherine encouraged him.
“I know what you are driving at.” Vincent smiled, and Catherine’s heart somersaulted. It had been a long time since he had smiled at her like that.
“Catherine, will you marry me?”
Oooh, Catherine felt her knees give way, “Oh yes!” She flung her arms around his neck, “Oh Vincent, yes, yes I will, I will!” She smiled up at him, her joy overflowing, his face just inches from hers, “Vincent?”
“Yes, my Catherine.”
“Now will you kiss me?”
Yes, my Catherine.

*** *** ***

…the happy life for which they’d reached,
Became a dream no more,
And the sands of time did bind their love
Like castles on the shore.

*** *** ***



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.