Eight years after Vincent and Catherine have gone their separate ways, Vincent meets a child with whom he shares a bond.
A sudden storm resulting in a break of sunshine filtering through the clouds, had Catherine startled. It was so beautiful. She had not seen anything quite like it for a long time, especially beneath such a setting.*** *** ***
The ocean beckoned to her from off the great sandy beaches of California, and Catherine drawn to the ocean spray and the dark sombre clouds overhead walked towards the seas edge thinking how much Chad would like to have been there.
She’d missed him, these past eight weeks, but the case was wrapping up nicely, and it appeared that she would be home a month earlier than expected.
His letters, witty and informative had helped her through, and the fact that most of the pages were filled with Vincent this, and Vincent that made her smile. It was this latest letter that had altered everything.
Extracting it from the envelope Catherine had read it during her lunch break from the court, and the first thing she had noticed on scanning its contents, was the absence of that delightful name. There was no Vincent.
Not until the very last when Vincent himself had signed his name.
Reading it through Catherine began to see why Chad had refrained from using the name. Now his letters had altered, and Catherine smiled with quiet resignation, happy for the bond that the two of them had found.
Mouse got into trouble again today, he didn’t mean to do, he just overheard grandfather say that they needed some foam rubber down here. Grandfather wanted to create a play for Winterfest and needed some props. Apparently Mouse thought he would help. You know Mouse though mom, he didn’t know how much Grandfather needed, and because there was plenty of the stuff he took it all Below. You should have seen it mom! Dad and I were coming back from a trip and literally bounced in the dark as we met a solid wall of foam. We were running you see, having a race. It was unexpected and it made dad growl, ‘cos he didn’t know what it was in the dark, and Mouse had extinguished all the lamps in case of fire with all that foam about. Grandfather was furious, and it took five people to pull all that foam rubber from out of the tunnel. Dad and Grandfather are laughing about it now, especially the bit about me and dad bouncing off of the foam and as it turns out most of the foam rubber makes very good bedding that can be rolled up when not in use. And Father has got his prop for Winterfest, so everything ends well. When are you coming home mom? I miss you and dad misses you too.
Hurry home, Love from Chad.
Be well, Vincent.”
So that was the way of things now was it? Grandfather and dad.
Catherine felt her heart constrict, happy families perhaps? If only, she sighed wistfully, if only it could be that simple.
A curtain of rain gently fell as Catherine walked the beach deep in thought, and as the sun continued to peek through the ever-present black clouds, a rainbow arced across the sky and Catherine stopped to look at it.
It was beautiful and she smiled remembering Chad’s words of the rainbow, how he would love to be able to slide down its length to reach the pot of gold.
There was another metaphor to be had there too.
Life was very much like climbing rainbows. Just as it was very much like chasing rainbows. The difference was that with the latter one had to realise that the probability were impossible, but with the former it involved taking a risk with something that was already available and hoping that it would turn out well.
If Chad had accepted Vincent as his father, and Vincent was happy to allow Chad to refer to him as such, then she was half way there.
Still it would do no harm to help out, and in her mind she began to put together a letter she would reply to Chad with later, when her day was done.
She decided she would tell him about her walk along the beach, about the rainbow, and her memory of his thoughts about that song about climbing them. If Chad showed the letter to Vincent, Catherine felt certain that would open up a conversation which Vincent, being Vincent, would think about more deeply later when alone.
Catherine could visualise his thoughts, and she hoped that he would draw the right conclusion.
Back at the courtroom some time later, Catherine settled into her seat in a much lighter frame of mind. The walk along the shore had done her good, the fresh air, the beauty of the rainbow, and for the first time in many weeks her heart soared on wings of doves.
Peacefulness washed over her, and she listened avidly to the remainder of the case as it was being wound up. As soon as the defendant was jailed, she could go home, get on with her life and hopefully change it drastically too. She wanted nothing more than to live Below, with Vincent, and hoped that he would allow her to do so.
Chad received the letter two days later, taking it to his room to read it by candlelight. He could picture the scene; his mother had painted it so well. He could almost taste the salt spray on his lips, the feel of the sea breeze in his hair.
Vincent found him quietly going over the letter for the third time some time later when he brought him some tea.
“It’s a letter from mom.” Chad told Vincent happily, “Would you like to read it?”
“Is it to the both of us?”
“No only to me, but you are welcome to read it. I think you would like to do. Mom is writing about the beach, it’s really nice, go on read it.”
Vincent took the letter from his son, holding it up to the light so as to read the words upon it.
The paper smelt delicately of roses, with Catherine’s own scent running through its pages, and Vincent felt tears prick at his eyes.
The letter painted a picture in his mind. He could almost see himself walking along that beach with her, much as Chad had earlier, feeling the sea air and the rain upon his skin.
“Your mother writes a wonderful letter Chad.” Vincent handed it back when he’d finished it.
“You keep it dad, you can read it to grandfather.”
Vincent nodded, folding the letter and slipping inside a pocket.
“So what would you like to do today?” he asked his son.
“Cullen would like me to help make a stool. And then William said he’d show me how to bake a cake. He thinks I’ve never baked one before.”
“But you have?” Vincent grinned.
“In a way. Mom was teaching me.”
“Say no more.”
Chad burst into laughter, “You’ve obviously fallen victim to mom’s cooking before.”
The two of them laughed loudly, “Good job you lived to tell the tale.” Chad told him between bouts of laughter.
“Good job you did.” Vincent added somewhat seriously.
“Mom’s a great cook – not.” Chad laughed even harder.
“We can’t all be good at everything.” Vincent’s lips twitched, as he tried not to laugh anymore at Catherine’s expense.
Chad quietened, “I miss her.” He said suddenly.
“So do I.”
Hugging one another, their laughter died and turned to tears.
As Catherine had hoped Vincent did indeed dwell on the contents of that letter, but missing the point about rainbows entirely.
He sensed her sadness even though she was able to walk through the beauty of nature’s wonders. And he gave consideration to that.
If only he could get it out of his system that she really would never hold it against him to shut herself away from her world to live in his. If only he could believe that she really would be able to accept his kind of life.
That Chad spent every moment he could Below only served to enhance the fact that it was possible. Chad preferred life Below to life Above, and had asked if he might leave his school and partake of lessons Below if his mother approved upon her return.
Vincent couldn’t find the answers to his questions, but he came to one conclusion. He still loved Catherine, and he loved his son, if nothing else, that more than any thing gave him the answers he sought.
Chad needed a family, a mother and a father living together. It might not be easy, it might not be possible, but Vincent knew that at least for his son he had to try.
Joe Maxwell paced his office restlessly. He’d just received the most awful telephone call. He was having difficulty coping with its implications, accepting that his best investigator would have to be put onto the witness protection programme and that he would never see her again.
Catherine knew nothing of this yet. It had been left to him to tell her. How would she take it?
They had worked tirelessly for years to rid the streets of life’s criminals, and this was her reward. Vanish and live or die and vanish.
How would she feel to know that the past nine weeks had fed her nothing but her face to those would be killers? Seeing her in court every day giving her evidence they knew everything about her. Knew her address, where she was staying, where she lived, knew she had the apartment, knew she had a child. That telephone call had threatened more than just his best investigator. Joe felt a rise of nausea wash through him. He had no idea where Chad was staying, only with friends was all he knew. Could the killers reach her child before they reached Catherine?
With shaky fingers Joe dialled the number of the other person he knew that might know, grateful when it was answered, “Peter Alcott.”
“Peter! Hi this is Joe Maxwell, Look I have some bad news and very little time to go into details. The case Catherine Chandler was working on, well it blew up in our faces. The guy walked free, and he’s out for revenge. He’s threatened Cathy’s life and that of her son. I need to make certain the kid is safe.”
Peter gasped, his head spinning. “Don’t worry about the child Joe, he’s as safe as houses where he is, it’s Cathy I’m worried about, does she know yet?”
“I’m about to call her next. But Peter you don’t understand, Cathy can never return, they’ll be waiting for her, somehow we have to bring the child to her, and the witness protection programme will make a new life and a new identity for the two of them someplace else. I need your help Peter. I need to make arrangements for Cathy and the child to get together. Will you help me?”
“No. I have a better idea. Leave this with me Joe. Ring Cathy, tell her I’m on to it; tell her not to worry, every thing will work out for the best. Tell her that all her dreams are about to come true.”
The guy wasn’t making any sense, nonetheless Joe didn’t have any time for riddles, “I’ll tell her Peter. Gotta go. I’ll be in touch. Bye.”
The worst of it was awaiting Catherine’s arrival.
It had been three days since Joe’s telephone call to Peter, and Peter’s subsequent dash to the tunnels to give Vincent the bad news.
Or was it good news?
That suddenly Catherine’s future had been made up for her, that she had no choice but to go into hiding permanently now, and the best place for her would be Below with her son without a doubt.
But what of Catherine?
Peter had waited for Joe to ring again, but in three days he’d heard nothing.
Below Vincent and Father waited nervously, telling Chad every thing for his own safety. He could not go Above it was too dangerous.
“I can’t understand it Vincent>” Father had told his son for the umpteenth time, “We have heard nothing. Where are they?”
“Catherine is safe Father that I do know, but as to her whereabouts? I’m afraid that my sense of her is not as strong as it once was. Chad’s emotions over ride all that I once felt for Catherine now. It appears that it is an impossibility to be able to feel the emotions of more than one person at any one time. The connection is not infallible anymore Father.”
“You know what they say, no news is good news.” Mary intervened, sitting with them this particular evening, “And Catherine is good at handling herself.”
“Once there would have been no need of that. Once I could have gone to her, I would have known her exact whereabouts, and could have helped her. How do you think it makes me feel knowing that now when she needs help the most I am unable to be there for her?” Vincent hung his head, his heart hurt.
Wordlessly Chad manoeuvred himself so that he was sitting at Vincent’s feet, grateful when Vincent reached down to pull his son onto his lap. Chad snuggled into his father’s warmth in a bid to feel warm again. All this talk about the danger his mother was in had made him feel cold right down to his bones.
Together they drew comfort from one another. There was nothing they could do, not until the heard something new.
As the three days became five, Vincent’s relentless pacing increased.
Chad grew afraid; he had never seen Vincent like this.
Other people had told him that his father was prone to fits of rage where his other side ruled, and Chad was at a loss as to how to handle it. His heart ached to see Vincent’s distress, and he hoped and prayed that his mother was well.
Finally, at last, Peter got word. “We’re back Peter.” Joe spoke breathlessly down the telephone, “No time to explain. As soon as I can I’ll contact you.” With that he’d gone, leaving Peter to carry another distressing message Below.
Returning from the tunnels Peter had an idea, he telephoned Chad’s school, at first with the intention of asking if they could remind Chad to come to his surgery after school for his check up explaining that Chad had forgotten the last time. None of it was true; he was just testing the water so to speak. His call paid off, “Dr. Alcott, thank you for ringing. Perhaps you can help us. Chad’s uncle has been here enquiring as to his whereabouts. We explained that his mother had taken him with her to California, but his uncle insisted that Chad had been staying with him but had run away. He wanted to know a list of Chad’s friends and their addresses to be able to seek out his nephew. We have been reluctant to part with this information, and haven’t told him anything. We were suspicious as Miss. Chandler has never mentioned a brother or a brother in law, do you know if there is one?”
Peter explained that there was no such uncle, and if the man should call again, that they should keep him talking while someone else notified the police, in fact, Peter informed her, best to notify the police about the situation beforehand so that they would hurry when she called them.
Peter was concerned that the unknown ‘uncle’ had persistently been to the school every day for the past week.
This made the problem very much real. Peter’s heart hammered as the consequences hit home. Catherine’s life was really in danger. If these men had intent to harm an innocent child, if only to flush out the child’s mother, then they were indeed dangerous men.
Peter wasted no time, in delivering this information Below as soon as possible, trusting no one with it but himself.
While he was out Joe telephoned.
He could not call again.
“I don’t know what to do Cathy. There is no place to hide here in New York. They will find you, let me arrange something. We can re-unite you with your son as soon as possible.” Joe paced the room wringing the life out of a rubber band.
“Joe, its okay, just get me to the park, or anyone of these addresses. Trust me, I know of a place. I’ll be safe there.”
Joe checked out the list of addresses, knowing them to be dead ends.
“Have you lost control of your mind Cathy? These lead nowhere.”
“I have contacts too Joe. Trust me. I’ll be safe.”
Joe shook his head; “You could walk into a booby trap. Believe me Cathy, these men know what they are doing. They know your every footstep; they’ve kept a silent vigil upon you for far longer than we know. They anticipated this. There is nowhere you can hide in this city.”
“Then I wish you’d tell me where. I may need it someday.”
“If it ever comes to it, just ask Peter to contact me, I’ll get you in there too.”
Joe stared at Catherine for a long time.
“There’s a place I could hide you temporary. If I can will your friends be able to rescue you from there?”
“They would rescue me from anywhere Joe.”
Joe looked at her hard; “You’ll need to send them a message. It’ll have to be in some sort of code, something only you and they know, but will also lead them to where you’ll be.”
Catherine nodded, “Tell me what you have in mind.”
Vincent fairly tore the note out of Father’s hand when he delivered it, “This came for you Vincent. It’s travelled well; whoever delivered it wanted the trail to go cold. I just hope that these men really can’t find Catherine when she does eventually come Below.”
Vincent stared at his father gravely. He knew Father had a great deal of people’s welfare at heart, but at this moment it seemed to him that Father felt that Catherine was just the bait that might lead to their demise.
Unfolding the note, the message was brief, but it was Catherine’s handwriting, and her scent lingered there.
“What does it say dad?” Chad, wide-eyed waited holding his breath.
“Taken from the end of the rainbow to another place. Remember the lyrics.” Dismayed Vincent looked up, “What does it mean?”
Chad smiled. Just like his mother to think of something spectacular.
For long moments Father, Vincent and Chad looked from one to the other, “What does she mean?” Father asked rubbing his whiskered chin thoughtfully.
“That’s the easy part.” Chad told them happily, “It’s what she is referring to that isn’t.”
Vincent rose an eyebrow, “Tell me what you know?”
“There is treasure at the end of the rainbow, I thought everyone knew that?”
“Yes.” Vincent replied. Treasure that was it, but how did it tie in? And what lyrics?
“Would you like me to bring some of the others down here Vincent, maybe our friends can shed some light on this?” Father asked gently.
Vincent nodded, “It may help. Yes please call them Father, everyone loves Catherine.”
Later, when many of the tunnel dwellers had assembled, Vincent read them the message, explaining the treasure bit, but admitting to not seeing how it pieced together.
The answer came swiftly.
“I know what she means.” Cullen told everyone, “It’s got to be that.”
All eyes turned to him, “Well don’t keep it to yourself my boy,” Father told him swiftly, “Tell us.”
“You remember the treasure that Mouse and I found?” Everyone nodded, how could they forget? It had almost wrecked everything that they had Below, when greed had risen its ugly head. None more than Mouse and Cullen had been affected by that.
“We were going to throw it into the abyss, but Vincent intervened…”
his voice trailed away, as Vincent gasped and started forward, grabbing his cloak in passing. “Dad where are you going?” Chad called after him.
“Stay here” Vincent called back “I know where your mother is.”
Catherine paced the tiny room endlessly. The wait was grievous to her sanity and she wondered if anyone had been able to decipher her message.
They would in time, she was certain of that, but time was something that she didn’t have, and the longer she stayed with these dear women the more likelihood that they would get dragged into it with her and lives would be taken too.
Joe had left her. Going back the long way, right across New York dropping her note off on the way. Perhaps they hadn’t received it yet; perhaps she still had a long time to wait.
It had been the only thing she could think of. When Joe had told her that he could hide her at the convent, Catherine’s only knowledge of a link was the treasure chest that Cullen and Mouse had found, and that she and Vincent had left outside the convent to be found by the nuns. She almost wished that she could tell them while she was there, but that would mean answering some very tricky questions, and someone might call the police and the less attention she drew to herself the better right now.
Catherine stopped her pacing. The one thing she had hardly considered these past few days was her future.
Now if all went well, if she survived this, her future would be Below, for all time. How would Vincent feel about that?
Suddenly to have a son he never knew he had bestowed upon him and now the mother of his son too?
She still loved him, would always love him, and Catherine was certain that Vincent loved her too, but what would life be like living in a world where the man she loved more than life would not enter into a deeper relationship with her, ever?
Catherine didn’t think she could bear that. Especially while putting up the pretence for the sake of their son.
She could only hope and pray that everything would now work out for them for the better, now that her living Below permanently was being forced upon him.
Reaching the convent within the hour, Vincent made his way steadily through the streets. It hadn’t been dark long, and there were still many people about. Catherine’s message had run through his mind continuously since he had left the home chambers, “Taken from the end of the rainbow to another place. Remember the lyrics.” It was that last part that he couldn’t decipher. If Catherine were at the convent and he was positive that she was, for that had been where they had taken the treasure chest, why add more onto the message about the lyrics?
If only his perception of her was still as it was, he would have no need of such messages. The Bond would have led him to her no matter where he was. Now reaching the convent he knew he could not just enter through the doorway, and he knew no other way in. That had to be why Catherine had mentioned the lyrics, but to what song?
Frustrated Vincent could only stand and stare at the convent knowing he was so near yet so far, and admitting defeat he returned back to his home in the hope that someone had made sense of all the message in the time he had been away.
Sitting with his mother’s note in his hands Chad read it over again for the thousandth time, hoping that Vincent had been right.
Everyone had left the chamber now, and returned to their own quarters and Father was aimlessly pottering about his own trying to take his mind off of things, aware only slightly that Chad was humming softly to himself as he remained behind in Vincent’s large chair.
“Will he be long?” Chad asked almost to himself, stroking his mother’s handwriting with his fingers.
Father hobbled over to Chad’s side.
“He will find her Chad. He has never failed yet. Try not to worry.”
“I’m trying Grandfather.”
Father resumed his pottering, and Chad continued humming.
Then something in its tone caught Father’s attention, “That tune Chad, do you know where it is from?”
“Tune?” Chad looked up startled.
“You’ve been humming something since everyone left.”
“Have I? How does it go?”
Father smiled, he wasn’t about to make a fool out of himself in singing, but clearly Chad hadn’t noticed that he was humming the tune. “Something like this.” Father started, having to clear his throat when a loud pitched wail first came out.
“Sorry, don’t know that one.” Chad grinned.
Father glared at him, “Let me find my voice first.” He cleared his throat with a cough, and started again, Chad listened and smiling as he recognised the tune, he hummed along with him.
“That’s it!” Father cried “What is it called do you know?”
“It’s a song mom used to sing to me when I was little.”
“Do you know the words?”
“Yes, do you recognise the tune?”
“I think so. Can you sing it to me, something keeps telling me there is a message within that song.” He gasped, remembering the note, “Chad, your mother…could she possibly have meant lyrics to that song?”
“Of course!” Chad’s eyes were bright, “Of course why didn’t I think of that, the rainbow of course! Of course!”
“Tell me” Father grasped Chad’s hands, “Sing it to me.” Hope shone from his eyes.
Chad started to sing, stopping only when he came to the vital part, his eyes lighting up, “I might be climbing on rainbows.” He paused, his eyes bright, “That’s it isn’t Grandfather? The message? It’s something to do with climbing on rainbows?”
Father frowned, “It’s an illustration Chad it’s not possible, you can’t climb a rainbow.”
“No but you can climb.” At the sound of the voice Father swung around, “Vincent! You’re back! Is Catherine with you?”
“Not yet, I hadn’t received all of the message, but I have now. Thank you Chad. Wait here, I’m bringing your mother home.” With a fluffy of dark cloak Vincent had swept out of the chamber and had gone again.
“I remember the song Chad.” Father told him, “It’s one I particularly liked when I heard it once on Mouse’s radio. It held special meaning for me at the time.”
“It’s special to mom too, it used to make her think of dad and make her cry.”
“Yes” Father nodded, “I can understand that, the words are very poignant to the relationship that your mother shared with your father. Let’s hope the song makes her cry no more.” Father hugged the child hard and they drew comfort from one another. All they could do now was sit and wait.
Climbing of course!
He still didn’t understand how they had deciphered the message but that didn’t matter now. Vincent was jubilant. Of course, there was no way in to the convent from the ground without being seen, but to climb to the belfry, now there would be the way.
Stealthily Vincent made his way through the grounds. The lighting was sparse. If the nuns spent the treasure money on anything it wasn’t electricity, but at that moment Vincent was glad of that as no one saw him as he began his climb up the tower.
Catherine had stopped her pacing. For some reason she held her breath. There was a sound of scraping, just outside. Bracing herself Catherine peeked through the window arch, open to the elements, and looked Below. A cloaked figure made its way steadily upward.
“Vincent”, Catherine whispered closing her eyes, as the relief washed over her in warm waves. He’d come for her. Everything would be all right now. She was safe at last!
Or so it seemed.
*** *** ***
“There’s something wrong.” Chad walked the length of Father’s chamber and back again in an age old way that Father knew so well from the boy’s father.*** *** ***
Father stopped what he was doing; peeking at the boy over the rim of his spectacles as fear knotted his stomach.
It was true Vincent had been gone an awful long time, considering the time it had taken to go there and come back in the first instance.
“Perhaps the rescue was harder than your father realised.” He spoke consolingly to the child, hoping to waylay some of those fears within Chad.
Chad shook his head, “No, I feel it here.” He pointed to the region of his heart; “Something is the matter. There’s a problem. Father can you take me to this place where mom is? I want to go there.”
Father shook his head, “No Chad, I’m not one hundred percent sure that I know where Vincent has gone, I’ve only my suspicions, and besides if I or anyone else were to take you, you would only be in the way. As it is your father has his hands full with worrying about your mother, let alone being afraid for you too. At least being here he knows that you are safe.”
“But I feel so helpless.” Chad wailed, “I want to do something.”
“I understand Chad really I do. There has been many times when I have had to wait here while Vincent went off on some errand or mission of mercy, and I could only wait and pray for his safe return.” Father sat down as memories of some of those times filtered through his mind.
Chad sighed, flopping his body into the nearest chair, and sprawled his legs out in front of him. “When mom comes Below everything will be all right then won’t it? Dad won’t have to go Above anymore, and mom will be safe here.”
“Yes she’ll be safe Chad. But will she be happy? Your mother is used to life Above. I worry that she will miss all those things that she is used to.”
“I don’t miss them, I could live down here forever, and it still wouldn’t be long enough.”
Father smiled, “You’re young. Being Below for one so young is like an adventure, I’m not certain your mother will see it as such, especially knowing that she cannot go Above even if she wished to do. It puts a whole new perspective on things Chad. I’m afraid your mother might view the necessity of being here as a prison sentence.”
“But she’ll have dad with her.”
“Yes there’s that, but it mightn’t be enough.” Father hoped it would be, but he had his doubts. Catherine needed more from life than all that could be offered her Below. And he knew
Vincent harboured grave misgivings of having Catherine come to live Below, for there were still things that Vincent was unprepared to face.
Chad was quiet, thinking about things. His mother had to like it there. For him there was no other place he’d rather be, and his father was the most wonderful person he knew.
When he had found out that Vincent was his father it was a dream come true. His hero, his father, someone loved and respected by so many. Vincent was his best friend, and it troubled him that his mother might not be happy living Below. He couldn’t live without either of them, and he could not bare the thought of being shared.
Thinking hard he made a promise to himself, no matter what it took he would make sure that his mother stayed. His mom and his dad were meant for one another, everyone told him that, and he knew it to be true, and he’d make certain his mother stayed Below if it was the last thing he did.
“Is this the place?”
“Sure, the boss said that Maxwell left her here late this afternoon. ”
“We can’t just storm in there. It’s a convent for God’s sake.”
“Very apt. Don’t worry, she can’t stay there. Our little Miss. Chandler is no innocent virgin. It would be sacrilege to have her stay there. Someone will be coming for her, and then we’ve got her.”
They waited. The vehicle they drove in dark and sleek, hidden easily within the shadows, offering a good view of the tower from their vantage point.
“What makes you so sure she’s up there?” one of the men asked the other as he held binoculars to his eyes.
“It’s the obvious place. Chandler wouldn’t put the nuns at risk, and besides it’s as I said, she is no innocent virgin, they’ll not want her anywhere else.”
“So someone has to climb up, and together they have to climb down?”
The guy with the binoculars nodded, “Yes and it looks like we won’t have much longer to wait, take a look through these.” He passed the binoculars over with one hand, while he reached forward with the other to a gun that lay on the dashboard.
From a briefcase on his lap he then took a silencer, and screwed it to the end of the barrel, before checking it was suitably loaded.
“Are you gonna stay here?” he asked.
“You want me to keep the engine running? Can you get a clean shot from here?”
“Yes and no. Keep the engine running, but cruise along to the gates. I’ll kill them both and we can be gone before they hit the ground.”
The other guy nodded, and started the engine, “Get going then, I want to get home early tonight.”
The moment Vincent had slid over the wall, Catherine was there, wrapping her arms around him, glorifying in his strength and his warmth.
“Catherine are you well?” his voice was husky with emotion as he held her tightly against him.
“Well but tired Vincent. I’m so glad to see you. I was so afraid that you wouldn’t understand my message, and I trusted no one. Joe and I were followed all the way back from California.”
“You went by road?”
“We had to do. Those guys that aim to kill me would have stopped at nothing. If I’d boarded a plane they could have planted a bomb on it. It wouldn’t have matter to them that three hundred odd people would have been killed with me. I couldn’t risk it Vincent. These people are dangerous, are you sure you were not followed?”
“There is nothing to connect me to you, but no, no one followed me, believe me I would have known if they had.”
“He’s well.” Vincent’s eyes brightened, “He’s a fine boy Catherine.”
“Yes he is.”
“He worked out the last part of your message. Cullen worked out the first part.”
Catherine’s eyes were bright, “Just as I hoped then. I couldn’t think of anything else.”
“Are you ready to leave?”
“Yes I have no luggage. And I’d kill for a hot bath. Joe and I have been sleeping rough since we left California.”
“This man Catherine the one that wants to kill you, what did he do?”
“He’s behind practically every bad thing that goes on in this city Vincent. He’s evil. I was the only witness that actually knew where he resides, and what he looks like. I took a risk giving evidence, I knew that, but we were so sure that we’d got him. He could still rule the world from a prison cell but we were hoping for the death sentence. Instead he walked free. Consequently I have a price on my head.”
Vincent shuddered, “You can never walk free again?”
“No. At least not as I am. I never realised till now the horrors of witness protection. To have everything you have ever known cut away. If I couldn’t have gone Below, I would have had to move to another town in another city changed my identity, the way that I looked, the way that I moved. I would have had to adopt a new life style, and still never feel safe. For the rest of my life I would have been on the move. Even if by some remote chance that I could have managed all that, how do you think it would have affected Chad? You know Vincent, I thank God for you.”
They embraced again, each clearly knowing that things would have been far different for both of them if he didn’t exist. Chad wouldn’t be there for one thing. Neither was sure that they could have stood that.
Now Chad was there, now that they had known him, it seemed that there never was a time when the child had not existed. Both loved him fiercely.
“Come Catherine, let’s go home.” Vincent turned her towards the open window, the way he had entered, but stopped her short of reaching it.
“What is it Vincent?”
“By some remote chance that I was followed, we’d be open targets climbing down from this tower. Is there another way out?”
“No. The door was locked from the other side. It was a ploy to keep me safe, and no one will hear us shouting from up here.”
“I could break down the door.”
“It would cause too much disturbance. We have to go out the way you came in.”
“Then we’ll test the water first. Help me to roll up this mattress.”
Pulling the mattress off from the iron springs, Vincent ripped the blanket upon it into long thin tatters with his sharp claws and tied the mattress securely so that it resembled a body from a distance. Next he wrapped a blanket around the mattress, to make it look more like a cloaked figure.
“How do we manoeuvre this so that it looks like someone crawling over the ledge?” Vincent asked when the job was done.
“I have an idea.” Catherine told him, taking another strip of blanket and fastening it to the dummy half way up from the ground, “If you hold onto the rope from the top, I can pull from here, and see, it bends the mattress. From behind, it should look like someone moving their legs and bending them to find suitable footholds. And if we move the candles so that the light doesn’t highlight the dummy too much this might work. At any rate it’s the best we can do, and it mightn’t be necessary.”
“Let’s hope it isn’t.”
Carefully they lifted the mattress and rolled it equally as carefully over the ledge. Below was a fifty-foot drop, and even if they had been going down themselves, Vincent would have needed to lower Catherine in much the same way. The trick was manoeuvring the dummy so that it looked real, and as Vincent pushed the mattress over the ledge, Catherine tugged on her strip of blanket, that she had tied into lengths to make it to the bottom with the dummy, and caused the dummy to bend in half. Much the same as a person would who was searching for places to put hands and feet.
The dummy was almost half way down when a loud thud sounded, and the vibration ran the length of the rope, quickly followed by another.
“Someone is shooting at it Vincent, make it quiver.” Catherine cried in a hoarse whisper.
It was hard to do, but together they jerked the plaited rope so that the dummy resembled a person in pain, and as a further thud hit the mattress Vincent groaned loudly hoping the sound would appear to come from the area of the dummy.
At once Vincent tugged at the rope, pretending to pull it back up as Catherine shouted his name, making everything seem as real as possible, hoping that the gunman was fooled.
“Good job that wasn’t really you.” Catherine whispered wide-eyed. “Do you think we fooled them?”
There’s only one way top find out. Let the mattress go Catherine. Let it drop to the floor. Then scream my name again.”
Catherine let go of her end of the rope. From the back it appeared that the body was straightening, before Vincent let it fall completely, as Catherine’s anguished cries came from Above, “Vincent Noooo!” before ducking back out of sight as a ricochet bounced off the wall to one side of them.
“They know there are two of us Vincent. They won’t let up until they are certain that they have shot us both.” Catherine searched the tiny room, “We need something else, something to make it look like I am coming down to you.”
“Doing that. You’d want you’re head examining if it were real.” Vincent told her.
“I’m a woman in love Vincent, I’d want to get to where you were as fast as possible despite the risks, or I wouldn’t care, for I couldn’t live without you.”
For a few heart-stopping moments, their eyes met, “I love you Catherine.” Vincent told her huskily, “Don’t worry we’ll get through this. I won’t let anything happen to you.”
It would have been wonderful to have stayed and savour the moment, but both felt the urge to move. This was neither the time nor the place.
“There’s the pillow Vincent. It has two cases, one inside and one out. If we split the ticking and fill the two cases it might pass for a smaller person, like me, going down another rope to reach you. There isn’t anything else.”
“There’s another blanket. We could cover the pillow, make it look like another cloaked figure.” Vincent spoke quickly; well aware that time was running out. The supposed body had fallen several minutes ago.
Without further thought or question they pounced on the idea, carrying it out, until both were reasonably satisfied that it might work, and then as before, but with more speed they lowered the second dummy over the ledge towards the ground. Sure enough the same thud hit the dummy, and as before both Vincent and Catherine jerked on the ropes and Catherine let out a cry of pain. As another thud hit the dummy, she screamed, but this time they had tied it with a slip knot and when Vincent let the rope go, only the dummy fell leaving the main rope behind and landed on top of the first dummy in a crumpled heap.
“Now what do we do?” Catherine whispered.
“Now we wait.” Vincent told her standing back from the window with a clear view to the ground, “Someone will have to check that they have shot you.”
Not many minutes after Vincent’s words proved true, as the running of footsteps on gravel signified someone’s approach. Above the sound of their footsteps, Vincent teetered on the window ledge waiting to pounce. From behind him Catherine held her gun steadily in her hand because they were unaware of how many killers there were.
As the killer approached the two dummies cautiously, he drew his gun and suddenly the entire grounds were a blaze of lights.
Quickly Vincent stepped off of the ledge and back into the darkness, pulling Catherine with him to stand either side of the window to look out.
“Drop the weapon.” A voice over a loudspeaker was heard, “We have you surrounded.” And the killer made to run. Instantly a shot rang out, and he fell to the ground lifeless.
“We can escape if we are quick Catherine.” Vincent told her edging her away from that window towards another at the other side of the tower, “While all this is going on, we can get away.”
Catherine nodded, her mind racing overtime. If they didn’t get away, the police would come for her, obviously Joe had sent them possibly he was with them.
Looking out of the other window Vincent could see a slim ledge running right around the tower. About ten feet from one corner of that ledge was a lower building possibly an outhouse. Vincent knew he could leap it, he’d done similar things before, but he didn’t know about Catherine.
“There’s never a drainpipe when you need one, is there Romeo?” Catherine said light-heartedly.
“Yes there is” Vincent told her the delight in his voice apparent, “Do you think you can slide down it?”
“With your help I can do anything.”
“Quickly knot the last of those blanket strips together, I’ll take your weight until you reach the pipe.” He told her gathering the strips up as he spoke.
They worked quickly, soon having enough length to satisfy Vincent. Already beneath the other window the sound of voices rose. “Miss Chandler are you up there?”
Vincent shook his head, touching a finger to his lips, Catherine nodded understanding at once, and tied one end of the rope around her waist, and allowed Vincent to pick her up and begin to lower her to the start of the drainpipe just beneath the ledge. Once he was satisfied that she was reasonably safe, he lowered himself down to the ledge, and sure-footed he scaled its length until he reached the corner. From there he sprang forward, touching down upon the outhouse roof deftly almost soundlessly, and dropped himself to the ground, just in time to help Catherine down the last few feet from the drainpipe.
For a few seconds they caught their breath, before making off low across the grass well away from the commotion, and never stopped running until they knew they were safe.
*** *** ***
Joe Maxwell touched the pile of rags gingerly. He’d been told it was nothing but a mattress and a couple of old blankets, but he had to see for himself.
Ever since he had left Catherine up in that tower alone, he had fretted and worried until he was able to get some men together and watch the place. And that had taken time to organise. Joe dubiously believed that any one would come to rescue Cathy or make any sense of her message. Rainbows indeed! The whole thing was absurd. There was more chance of someone climbing the damn things.
Now Joe couldn’t believe that Cathy had escaped in all the commotion.
And not until he was satisfied that what lay before him was just an old mattress and a pillow made to look like two people, did he exhale a sigh of relief that Cathy had obviously got away. And not only that but he had to acknowledge the fact that someone had been there to help her and had taken her somewhere safe.
Where to he had no idea but the relief that he felt made him almost weak at the knees. If that had really been Cathy shot in the back he knew he would have wanted to die. He loved her.
*** *** ***
“I have never been so glad to see this place, and that’s saying something,” Catherine told Vincent as they entered the tunnels at last. They were still a long way from home, but the long dusty tunnels represented a safe haven to her like no place on earth.
”What will happen now?” Vincent asked her.
“With a bit of luck Joe will let everyone believe that was us out there that got killed. With a bit of luck Gabriel will believe it when he hears of it.”
“Gabriel?” Vincent asked.
“Yeah unusual name huh for a guy that controls the world from a goldfish bowl don’t you think?”
“An unusual expression too if I may say so.”
“Compared to the world New York is but a goldfish bowl, yet that man can pull strings from here that make people on the other side of the world jump. Believe me Vincent he is one dangerous guy.” Catherine shuddered, and Vincent drew her against him.
They hugged one another close for long moments replaying in their mind all they had undergone during the past couple of hours, before continuing on the journey home.
*** *** ***
The welcome home committee was all Catherine had dreamed it would be when she used to visualise bringing Chad Below in the days before Vincent knew he had a son.
Sometimes she would imagine the joy that would welcome her if she ever plucked up the courage to take Chad there. Only the hollow coldness of Vincent’s eyes that day she had left him for the last time at the threshold prevented her from returning.
Now those that were there to welcome her home brought a flood of fresh tears to her eyes, in the quiet poignancy of the moment.
Yet for all their love and affection Catherine wanted nothing more but to spend quiet moments someplace with her son, she had missed him so much.
When at last she got her wish, Vincent led them both to the warmth of his chamber, gathering his clothing together, and bidding them both stay in his bed for the night. “I’ll take the guest chamber Catherine.” He told her, “ until we have worked out a permanent place for you and Chad to stay.”
Catherine nodded, “But you don’t have to leave just yet do you. Please stay and sit with us awhile.”
Vincent lingered, though the sight of Chad upon Catherine’s lap in his own large chair brought a rush of possessiveness that he was afraid to dwell on.
“I have things to do first,” he took the cowardly way out, “Try to get some rest while I’m gone.”
Before Catherine could comment Vincent had gone.
“Dad’s been so worried about you mom” Chad snuggled up closer. He could hardly believe his mother was back with him at last, “So have I and Grandfather. Everyday we spent sat around Grandfather’s chamber waiting to hear something about you. I’m really pleased you got away from that man, I thought I might never see you again. Will you live here now?”
Catherine sighed, letting the breath come out slowly, “I want to do Chad, but I don’t know if I can. It’s all so difficult, there are things that you do not know, or could not understand, some of them reasons why your father and I parted in the first place.”
Briefly those words winged their way back to the time many years before when over dinner Nancy had said something similar. “Does he make you happy Cathy? When all is said and done, nothing else really matters.” Catherine brushed away a fallen tear, her heart aching, “Chad, will you stay here on your own for a while, I need to speak with Vincent.”
Chad’s face brightened, “Yes that’s okay, I’ll be all right, I’m really tired anyway.”
Tucking him into Vincent’s large bed before she left, Catherine kissed his cheek, “There will be a lot of changes Chad if we stay here, you may never see the sunshine or the rain again.”
Sleepily Chad wound his arms around his mother’s neck returning her kiss, “It doesn’t matter mom, even the waterfall has rainbows. It’s beautiful down there, have you seen it?”
Catherine nodded as a lump rose to her throat, oh yes, she’d seen the beauty of the waterfall, had spent the last eight years thinking of that occasion at its side, “Yes Chad I’ve seen it, it is beautiful.” She kissed him again, staying at his side until his lashes closed over those sweet blue eyes, and not before she was convinced that he was sleeping did she move quietly away.
*** *** ***
Searching for Vincent led Catherine straight to that place. Unable to find him at any of his usual haunts Catherine finally located him beside the giant falls.
“I’m surprised you can bear to come here.” She told him as she approached, “It was the last place I expected to find you.”
Surprisingly Vincent exhaled a breath of humour, “It was a long time ago Catherine, much has happened here since.”
“Hopefully nothing like that though.” She gently teased coming to sit alongside him.
For long moments Vincent said nothing, just toyed with the leather pouch hanging around his neck, Catherine’s eyes were diverted to it, “You still have it then?” she asked. At Vincent’s puzzlement, she indicated with a nod, “The rose. The one I gave you. I take it, it is still inside that pouch?”
Again a breath of humour escaped Vincent, “Yes, though I’ll admit to your stitching not lasting so long. This is a new pouch made by Mary. I’m afraid my constant stroking rubbed the old one away.”
“Vincent I’m so sorry.” A sob caught as Catherine spoke the words, making Vincent look up sharply, to draw his arm around her shoulders hugging her close.
“I don’t know what life is going to be like for you living here Below Catherine. I wish I could make it so that you have everything that you need, but even after all this time, even after all the thinking I have done, I still don’t know if I can be what you want me to be. Is it so important to you?”
“It’s not that Vincent. I guess it’s what we are used to. For me, loving someone deeply highlights the need to express that love. I spent eight years away from you Vincent, but the need and the desire never faded in all that time. It’s as intense now as it ever was, and my mind fed constantly on the short time we did share in that way. I don’t think I could stand to be around you and not want to share that again. You really never hurt me you know.”
Gazing into her eyes, Vincent dared her to defy that, and Catherine shifted her glance away, “All right you did, but it wasn’t what you thought, I’d been hurt like that before and lived to tell the tale. Vincent it would only have got better, believe me.”
“I want to believe you Catherine. So many times since you told me about Chad’s birth, I have wanted to believe, but still it changes nothing. To tie you to me in that way would be wrong. When you had a life above I could not deny you that right. Things are somewhat different now, but it doesn’t make the fact any easier to live with.”
“You don’t think I’ll hack it do you? You think that I will feel trapped here? And you’re right Vincent I will.”
Startled Vincent met her steady gaze; “I will Vincent if you offer me nothing more than you offer me now. However if we were to make a life together, if you could believe that would be possible, then I doubt very much that I would crave life above ever again for everything I need would be right here with you.”
Exhaling a deep and ragged breath Vincent drew her tighter against him but could find no words with which to answer. He wanted to be what she wanted him to be, he just didn’t know if he could risk it.
“Don’t worry about it right now Vincent. We are both tired. Chad is asleep in your bed, I think I’ll join him, we can talk about this another time huh?”
Vincent nodded, gathering himself to stand and helping her up. Silently they walked arms entwined, hearts heavy back towards the main hub.
Somewhere in the night a nightmare enclosed Chad in its steely vice. He thrashed from side to side, screaming for his mother, and she was awake instantly. At the same moment Vincent bounded through the doorway looking dishevelled and fearful. “What is it Chad?” he cried, before it registered that Catherine was there.
“He’s having a bad dream.” Catherine whispered, rocking her son until his tears subsided, “Shh, its okay, you’re safe, it was only a dream.”
Chad’s eyes searched the chamber frantically, “Don’t let them get me mom.” He cried, “Where’s dad?”
“I’m here.” The softly spoken voice came from the entranceway, coming closer to kneel at his side “it’s all right Chad it was just a dream. No body is going to hurt you I promise.”
“Stay with me.” Chad’s lower lip trembled, “Please.” His eyes filled with sorrow.
“You’re mother is here now, and I’m not far away. Only in the guest chamber.”
“No!” Chad cried, “Please dad, stay here with me, there’s room for us all.”
“You stay Vincent,” Catherine beckoned pulling back the blankets, “I’ll go to the guest chamber.”
“No!” Chad clung to her tightly, “Don’t go. Please, both of you stay. Let me sleep in the middle of you, please.” He searched the faces of one to the other.
Catching one each other’s eyes, Catherine issued a silent invitation to Vincent, before reaching over Chad to draw back the blankets on that side, indicating that she expected Vincent to climb in beside their son. With a sigh of resignation Vincent slid onto the bed, drawing the covers back over him, and snuggling down beside his son, drawing the child against him.
Catherine blew out the candle by the bedside, knowing Vincent would prefer the darkness, before snuggling down on the other side of her son, and closing her eyes.
Deep in her heart she visualised Vincent lying so close, and listened to his uneven breathing, knowing what this did to him to share a bed with her even though their son lay between them.
“Goodnight Vincent, Goodnight Chad.” She murmured sleepily as she felt herself drifting away and for the first time in a long time she felt completely happy.
As Vincent lay there, holding his son close, he fought the need to go, while fighting Chad’s need to stay. So often these past few days, since Catherine had been known to be in danger, he had slept alongside his son, offering comfort, and Chad could see no reason why this should not continue.
Yet being so near to Catherine brought about other needs of his own, and for a long time Vincent lay awake fighting against the desire of the body that in Catherine’s presence shamed him.
Chad smiled in the darkness. It had worked! He bit his lower lip to stop himself from laughing out loud, and stilled his racing heart to prevent his father from knowing. Now all he had to do was insist that they spent every night sleeping together, until he was certain that it was time to make his next move!
*** *** ***
For the first few days, everything was new. Vincent continued to insist that Catherine and Chad needed a chamber of their own, and searched the tunnels with Catherine for just the place. In his absence Chad employed Father’s help in his little plan.
“Do you think mom and dad should be living together?” he asked innocently one day as Father was planning his next move at the chessboard.
Father looked up startled, “Well yes, actually I do. Everyone can see that they should be together, except for your father. I’m afraid he can be rather stubborn at times.”
“And then some!” Chad laughed out loud, his thoughts sobering to quiet reason as he asked, “Grandfather?”
“I have an idea. Will you help me?”
“With your next move?” Father thought Chad referred to the game in front of them.
Chad laughed, “You could call it that.” Making Father raise his eyes to see the humour sparkling from Chad’s face, “What trickery have you planned now young man?” he asked him well aware of Chad’s aptitude for fun, especially when Mouse had anything to do with it.
“You know mom and dad are sleeping with me at night?”
Father nodded his eyes bright, as a sudden idea formulated in his mind.
“Tonight grandfather I shall keep awake until they are both asleep and then I shall get out of the bed and leave them alone together. Can I come into your bed with you?”
Father burst into laughter, “Why you little rascal.” He cried, “You’ve played this game all along haven’t you?”
Chad looked away sheepishly, “It’s all I could think of.” He mumbled.
“And it’s working?” Father looked bemused.
“It looks like it, they haven’t suspected anything yet.” His eyes were bright with mischief. “I want them to be together Grandfather.”
“Yes Chad we all do. All right I’ll go along with your plan. Only if they should ask, I wasn’t aware that you had crept in beside me, is it a deal?”
“Only if you keep them enthralled with the possibilities of sleepwalking.” Chad laughed.
“It’s a deal.” They shook hands, each smiling gleefully. The night couldn’t arrive soon enough for either of them.
*** *** ***
“I don’t think I have ever been here before Vincent. You surely don’t find me that great a burden do you, that I need to be so far away from you?” Catherine teased, wiping the damp from her face. The stalactites and stalagmites were awe inspiring and the mists that rolled through the chamber warm and clammy, totally unsuitable for living quarters.
Despite her words Vincent chuckled, “No Catherine, I haven’t brought you here to look for somewhere to live. You are right I have never brought you here before, and as it is close to where we wandered, I thought you might like to see it.”
“Where does the warmth come from?”
“No one really knows. It can be quite an eerie place to explore alone, and there has been no real reason to come here. Occasionally I walk this way though, there is something appealing about the feel of the calcium deposits,” he told her adding beneath his breath ‘and the taste.’
But Catherine knew, looking at him she saw more than the man, something about his demeanour told her this. He was clearly disturbed about his other needs in her presence. She could not begin to understand the complexity of his make up but she wanted to ease his guilt.
Reaching out a hand, Catherine stroked the chalky substance, bringing the particles upon her fingertips to her nose to smell its scent. With deliberate intention she touched her fingers with the tip of her tongue ready to fight off the desire to cringe if the need may be, but surprisingly found the taste not to be so unsavoury. “It tastes salty.” She told him, “and there are traces of something else. Like water before it is purified, but not mineral water.”
Vincent nodded, reaching out his own hand to slide off gratings of deposit with his claws. From finger to mouth he passed the chalky substance, crunching the deposits while closing his eyes to the relief as his need was satisfied.
Catherine watched him carefully, an idea forming in her mind. “You know Vincent one of the things I will miss by living below, is the ability to indulge myself in French fries covered in treacle sauce whenever I want to do.”
Vincent’s eyes widened, “You eat French fries covered in treacle sauce!” He pulled a face, “that’s disgusting.”
“I know it sounds it. But how does my stomach know that they went down together? What difference would it make if I were to eat the fries first followed by the sauce? As far as my stomach is concerned it’s all the same when it’s mingled, so why not?”
“But on the tongue? Oh Catherine how could you?”
“I like it. At times I crave it.” She laughed, “It’s nothing to the things I craved when I was expecting Chad."
”Tell me? ”Vincent's eyes lit up.
Catherine laughed, “Would you believe pickled onions with hazelnut spread?”
Bright eyed, Catherine nodded “Between two pieces of bread. And chocolate mmm,” she closed her eyes, licking her lower lip with the tip of her tongue in remembrance, “chocolate, hot and runny with lashings of sticky marshmallow and fresh cream.”
“Now that I could live with.” Vincent laughed. “Is there a meaning behind all that you’re telling me?”
Catherine leaned towards him taking up his hands in her own, “Vincent we all need different things, sometimes for our own perverse cravings other times for our health. Don’t feel ashamed if you should need to come here for yours.”
He hung his head, “You noticed?”
“That you need the salt and the calcium? Yes Vincent and it’s okay really it is, don’t cows and horses need salt licks?”
“They are animals Catherine.”
“Yes I know, but people know they need those things to be healthy. And people know what other people need to be healthy, just look at the drug stores with all the vitamin supplements that are on sale. Perhaps if it would make you feel less guilty such things could be brought down here for you.”
Warmth spread through Vincent at her words. He knew she was trying to make him feel easier about his own make-up. Father was the only other person who had ever understood this need of his.
“I love you Catherine.”
“I love you Vincent. Please don’t be ashamed by your need to partake of salt and calcium, it doesn’t mean you are more animal than human, and that’s what you were worrying about wasn’t it?”
Vincent nodded, “I am driven by instinct to partake of these things. Sometimes the need is so great and at times it has been embarrassing. Now William keeps his salt store tightly locked.”
“But it hasn’t lessened your need has it? And by it you are driven to come here to gain what your body craves. Don’t worry Vincent, things will change now I am here, no one, not even you, least of all you, should be driven to such lengths to obtain what they need. Peter can bring down the required vitamins for you. Would that make you feel better?”
Vincent nodded, drawing Catherine to him and kissing the top of her head, “Thank you for understanding Catherine.” He told her, turning her away from the misty chamber to walk back towards home, “I was so afraid that you would be repelled when you saw”… He paused and chuckled before continuing, “how the other half lived.”
Catherine too laughed at that, hugging him close, her arm firmly around his waist, but did not comment.
They walked for some time in silent companionship, happy with this new closeness that they shared, when suddenly Vincent asked her, “It was just a trick wasn’t it? A trick to help me see that you have cravings for things too. You wouldn’t really eat fries with treacle sauce?”
With a steady gaze Catherine searched his eyes, saying nothing.
“Catherine? You wouldn’t?” He looked decidedly green around the gills.
Catherine refused to reply, her lips twitching and her eyes bright with laughter.
“Oh Catherine how could you?”
She burst into laughter at the look on his face.
“Like I said Vincent it’s all the same when it’s gone down.”
“Yes but treacle sauce!” he cried, before surprising her with, “Now I could understand it if it were raspberry….” He teased before swinging her up into his arms and delighting in the look on her face as he burst into laughter.
*** *** ***
As the city Above quietened and its inhabitants slept, the last of the subway trains trundled into the station where it would wait until the early morning commuters required it again.
As all became still an eerie silence settled upon the subway tunnels as the last of the echoes died away into the distance through rock and stone, deep beneath the city’s streets to the subterranean world.
Chad listened, his breath held knowing that the last train signified the time to be well after two in the morning. He and his parents had been in bed for the best part of three hours, and he could tell that both slept soundly alongside him.
Carefully, as he had planned for this, he wiggled his way upwards, carefully extracting his father’s grip from around him as he had on a previous night so that in his sleep Vincent was not concerned, and placed his father’s hand upon his mother instead. With a grin, Chad carefully scrambled, hands and knees across the pillow behind his mother’s head, and slipped down from the bed to fumble in the darkness for strategically placed slippers that he’d positioned earlier, before quickly making his way happily with fingers crossed towards Father’s chamber.
In sleep Vincent drew what he thought to be Chad towards him, and willingly Catherine went, snuggling against him, her arms wrapping around his waist in a protective manner. Believing it to be Chad, she kissed him aiming for the top of his head. Her eyelids fluttered as her lips met skin, but she did not waken, and she did not realise it was not her son.
Vincent on the other hand stiffened as the kiss touched his throat, his body awakening to the touch.
Catherine’s scent filled his nostrils, and not yet fully awake, he pulled her closer to him his hands gently caressing her limbs.
In sleep Catherine’s dreams altered, as the gentle stroking heightened her reflexes and she moaned softly, stirring Vincent to wakefulness.
For several moments his fingers continued to move across her body, and bit by bit his senses revealed to him the length of the person alongside him. His feet touched other feet; his head lay near another head. His hands slowed as realisation dawned. This was no child that lay beside him!
Yet Catherine’s easy breathing convinced him that she slumbered on and Vincent relaxed just enough to be able to enjoy the sensation of holding her close in the warmth of the bed, although his hands ceased their tender probing.
He slept again, relaxed and happy, Catherine safe in his arms.
Some hours later Catherine woke. Night or day it was always dark in the chamber unless the candles were lit. The luminous hands of her watch showed it to be almost five in the morning, and she reached out her other arm to cuddle Chad closer to her.
A bolt of surprise settled around her heart as she realised that she lay not next to Chad but against Vincent, his even breathing telling her he was sound asleep.
Catherine smiled, ‘what a rare opportunity, but where was Chad?’ Rolling over reluctantly, Catherine alighted from the bed, picking up matches from the bedside and striking one to light a candle. As the soft amber glow pushed back the darkness, it revealed that Chad was nowhere in the chamber. Concerned Catherine pushed her feet into her slippers, put down the candle to slip on her gown, afterwards picking it up again to go in search of him.
With some concern she tiptoed through the tunnels, peeping into the various chambers along the way, holding the candle high to illuminate her path. Her heart beat rapidly as each chamber revealed Chad’s absence, and she was just about to go back to Vincent’s chamber to awaken him when she heard her name being softly called.
“Catherine is that you?” Father’s voice echoed in the still of the night.
“Yes, I’m looking for Chad. He’s not in bed, have you seen him?”
“Yes, he’s with me.” Catherine entered Father’s bed chamber, the candle’s glow picking out the tawny head of her son laid upon his pillow, she smiled, “What is he doing there? Hold this, Father, I’ll carry him back to Vincent’s chamber.” She held out the candle as she walked towards Father’s bed to lift her son, when she stilled as Father caught her arm, “No Catherine leave him. I really don’t mind. Besides he is keeping me warm.”
“Well if you’re sure?”
“I am. You get back to bed, it will soon be time for breakfast.”
Catherine nodded, and kissing Father goodnight she left his chamber heading back the way she had come, her heart beating faster at the sudden chance that presented itself. Being able to sleep alone beside Vincent in the warmth of his bed.
Despite her warm robe and slippers, Catherine felt chilly as she slid into the big bed, and instinctively she sought out Vincent’s closeness. Fully awake now, she wondered what he might do if she was to explore his body, and pretend that she was sleeping should her actions wake him.
Smiling at the delicious chance this presented, her hands reached forward and traced a line from his thigh upwards, edging around his groin and travelling on up to his chest.
He wore thermal sleep pants and vest, but the material was quite old and worn and very revealing. Through the thinness of the material Catherine could feel his nipples and traced her finger around them gently. Vincent’s reaction was immediate!
A hand clamped upon her wrist holding her captive even as a sound rose from way down in his chest to erupt from his mouth in a sensuous moan, followed by his voice, husky and strained, “Catherine what are you doing?”
“Be still Vincent.” She knew it was useless feigning sleep now.
Her other hand still free continued the slow exploration along the path her first hand had travelled, this time lingering in the region of his groin for long dizzying moments.
Even Vincent’s warning, “Catherine!” did not still her actions, as pressing closer to him, she kissed his face, trailing kisses across his cheek, down the bridge of his nose and down to the cleft on his top lip.
His grip tightened on the wrist he held captive, but he did not move away from her. Instead he stilled, as if waiting, anticipating her next move, totally unprepared when it came.
Her tongue hot and sweet delved into the cleft of his upper lip and Vincent’s whole body reacted with a spasm that started from his toes and flew straight to his brain.
Before he’d time to recover, her hot and probing tongue sought him out again, sucking at his upper lip in a sensuous way that made his head spin.
Her intent was plain, as her free hand gently caressed the now hot and throbbing length of his arousal, and an irresistible moan broke from her lips. At that sound Vincent was lost, his body burned for her touch. A shudder swept through him as he released her imprisoned hand anticipating the fire its release would bring as she brought it back to its place, caressing his chest through the thin material. His nipples hardened, his breath accelerated and his mouth sought hers hungrily.
The kiss brought back with it a wealth of memories that galloped through their minds, and instantly they were both transported back to that day by the waterfall. For a brief moment Vincent froze as he remembered, but Catherine’s hands were seeking out the places of his body, that no one had ever touched save Father, and then not since he were a child.
Vincent moaned as his muscles flexed beneath the warm caress of Catherine’s hands.
He ached to touch her, and sensing this Catherine took one of his hands and placed it over her breast. A soft moan escaped Vincent as he felt her nipple straining against his touch, and as his fingers probed there her nipple hardened into a firm peak. Vincent gasped, as fire coursed through his veins and Catherine snuggled tighter against him, wanting to feel the pulsating hardness of him close against the pit of her belly.
As their bodies made contact Vincent froze. “Catherine no!” he cried, “We must stop.”
“Vincent no, we must continue.” Catherine teased him, her tongue once again darting into his cleft. For long dizzying moments Vincent was lost. His mind was dazed as Catherine’s hands, lips and tongue searched out all the most erogenous zones, deep down knowing this would thrill him.
Her breath quickened, her passion heightened, and as his hands caressed her curves Catherine thought she would die of longing. The pain of her need intensified and she wanted him so much.
“Vincent love me please.” She begged.
Her words deep and rich with emotion broke through the silence that encircled them, and in that moment Vincent wavered, his hands slowing until they stilled and dropped away from her reluctantly. “I can’t Catherine” he told her the sorrow in his tone evident, “I want to do, but I can’t.”
Evidence of this became apparent as his erection softened. ‘The fear was real then’, the thought drifted through Catherine’s mind, what else would render him to that state?
Sorrow combined with determination filled Catherine’s resolve and she whispered, “It’s all right Vincent, don’t worry. Look I’ll turn over. Only hold me close Vincent please.”
He seemed happy with that. Her back presented no problems, even though her bottom was pressed intimately close to his groin. He savoured the feel of their bodies pressing close together, and his hands came up and around her holding her close. He felt more in control and eased himself lower so that he could reign soft kisses along her shoulders. Catherine shuddered. His attentions were doing little for her desire. She simply ached to roll back the other way and let her hands continue their search. Yet she remained resolutely still allowing him to caress her naked arms and thighs, while holding back a moan of pleasure in case his fear returned.
When his fingers accidentally touched the straining peak of her breast, Catherine wiggled closer against him, delighting in the sudden surge she felt from him against her lower back.
For split moments, dizzying passion engulfed her, and Catherine knew in that instant that they would never go forward until she did something drastic to help him change his mind about such a union.
His arousal hot and hard throbbed against her, and in an instance Catherine captured it with one hand between her own legs, holding the steely length tightly and before Vincent knew her intent, she had guided him to her threshold, and had pushed herself down upon his silky length. Vincent’s roar thundered through the chamber mingled with Catherine’s cry of pleasure, and her inner muscles clamped hard against him making withdrawal impossible.
For long moments each revelled in the intense pleasure of their joining, until Vincent’s instincts gave way to the rhythmic motion of making love. Then with slow and deliberate movements he pulled away and thrust back as her muscles released and held him tightly within.
This feeling surpassed all his dreams. Vincent floated someplace distant and beautiful and as glorious star burst filled his mind his body erupted with fire hot seed and Catherine writhed against him.
Hot and sticky, his mind still somewhere on that distant plain, Vincent’s body slowly came back down to earth. Catherine lay snug against him, and he was surprised to find that he was still deeply embedded within her. Almost at once as his mind revealed this to him he hardened anew and began a lazy rocking motion within her and Catherine moaned sensuously pushing back against him delighting in the feel of him hot and hard inside her.
Before the morning arrived they continued making love in this way, over and over again, until satiated and blissfully content, they lay locked in each other’s arms, their faces rosy and flushed with the blossom of love.
*** *** ***
By late morning the pair were still fast asleep, and Chad was getting more than anxious about that.
“Shall I go and see them now?” he asked Father for the umpteenth time after he had been shifting things around absentmindedly.
Father observed Chad over the rim of his spectacles, “Now I don’t think they would appreciate that do you. Don’t worry Chad they’ll turn up when they are ready. In fact if your plan worked we might not seen them for some time.” Father chuckled, and Chad pinned him with a firm glare.
“I’ll go and see them shall I?” Father asked him.
“Oh yes, would you?” Chad’s face lit up, “I just want to make sure they are well. Mom is never up late.”
Drawing a deep breath, Father left his chamber, he didn’t really want to do this. He felt it was spying, but that was because he knew the possibility of the way things could be.
Shrugging his shoulders, he decided to feign ignorance, after all neither Vincent nor Catherine were aware that he knew of the pair of them being in bed alone together. He groaned, chiding himself on how ridiculous that sounded, of course they would know. Any one in their right mind would know that with the child out of the room, of course it left the pair of them alone together.
Slowing as he reached the entrance to Vincent’s chamber, Father held his breath, ‘Perhaps if I just listened at the doorway’ he told himself, perhaps that would be enough.
For long moments he did just that, hardly daring to breath, but no sounds came from within the chamber and reluctantly he convinced himself that it would do no harm to peek.
Stepping forward, holding onto the wall for support so that his stick made no sound, he edged nearer until he could just see into the chamber.
The candles had burnt low, and the light was dim, but Father could just make out the two sleeping forms upon the bed.
They lay close, arms wrapped around one another, and as some of the blankets had been thrown back, Father could see that they were both partially naked. Father sighed with relief Then that was the way of things was it? Everything should be all right now. Catherine would stay, she and Vincent would have their happy life together, and Father was startled by the sudden thought, that there might even be more children for the pair of them. Moving away from the chamber, Father made his way back to his own. He couldn’t tell Chad of everything he had seen of course, but he could tell him some of the good news, and Father couldn’t wait to see Chad’s face when he told him.
Chad’s reaction far exceeded Father’s expectations. The child fairly threw himself at him the moment he stepped back into his chamber, Father stilled him with a hand raised, his face a wreath of smiles.
Expectantly Chad waited his eyes bright with hope.
“It would seem young man that your plan has worked.” Father began. Chad leapt into the air, his arm raised, “Yeees!” he squealed with delight, “Yes! Oh Yes!” and began dancing around the room. “I knew it would work. Do you think mom will stay here now grandfather?”
Father’s blue eyes twinkled merrily, “I think it’s more than a possibility Chad, all your mother ever wanted was a normal relationship with your father, but we mustn’t say anything to them all right? When they do finally wake up we mustn’t let on that we know.” Well not straight away anyway, he thought to himself. Knowing at some stage he would tease them mercilessly about it.
Chad agreed, “Oh” he cried hugging himself tightly, “This is just great!”
*** *** ***
It was well into the afternoon before Vincent finally awoke. For long moments he lay quite still as his mind played tricks on him.
Or were they tricks?
Did he really imagine that he and Catherine had finally made love together, did he dream that, or was it real? It seemed real, in fact the last time only minutes ago.
Slowly he opened his eyes, and the first thing that he noticed was his dishevelled state, his partial nakedness and the blankets in a crumpled heap.
Startled, he sat up with disbelief.
It was no dream, and besides as he rolled over he could feel that Catherine lay alongside him fast asleep, tranquil and content.
For long moments Vincent stared down at her. She was unharmed, that much he could tell, and as his memories of the night returned with a vengeance Vincent could hardly believe that could be so.
He groaned as he remembered ‘Oh how could he have done that! He’d used her.’ Tears gathered and fell ‘whatever would she think of him!’
As she sensed his distress Catherine stirred, her eyelids fluttering before opening to set upon him with some concern. “Vincent what is it?” she asked anxiously.
“Look at us Catherine!” He whispered hoarsely.
Catherine reached out her hands, (for her eyesight in the dark was not as good as Vincent’s) and as she found the mound of blankets in the centre of the bed, her eyes lit up as she remembered. “Oh Vincent, it is rather a mess isn’t it, but what do you expect, we were rather active if you remember?”
“Remember! Catherine I remember every moment, but it was too much. Catherine I used you!”
“Too much?” Catherine sidled closer against him, “Oh no Vincent not too much. More like not enough.” Her fingertips caressed his chest, sending little shudders through him. “God Vincent you were an amazing lover, how about reminding me of that?” She teased, laughing at his sudden gasp of surprise.
.“Catherine you can’t mean that?” He tried to pull away. Her nearness was making his head spin.
“Oh but I do.” Her lips followed the pathway her fingers had trod, delighting when the shuddering increased, knowing now how the passion was gripping him once again.
“No buts Vincent.”
“But Catherine we did it more than twice already.”
“Not twice Vincent.”
“Three times then.”
Vincent’s eyes opened wide, “Four?”
Catherine shook her head, quietly laughing as she continued to kiss and caress him, “Not four Vincent.”
Stunned Vincent dared to ask, “Five?”
Catherine shook her head, a smile playing around her mouth.
“Six?” Vincent groaned ‘oh no he couldn’t have?’ Not six. It would have been impossible.
Catherine laughed out loud, telling him, “You know Vincent I have a friend who only gets to see her partner once every six weeks. They spend the entire weekend in bed, and do you know how many times they do it?”
Vincent shook his head, not knowing whether he wanted to hear this or not.
“Twenty-five times Vincent. Twenty-five times!”
He repeated with disbelief, “twenty-five times!”
“Uh huh, it seems they can’t get enough of each other, after six weeks apart. And Vincent…” her voice trailed away, the corners of her lips twitching, her eyes bright with humour.
“We have been apart for eight years!”
“That’s an awful lot of time we’ve to make up for don’t you think? So this weekend we have another eighteen to go before we have exceeded my friend, at the very least”
Vincent gasped, he could well count, “Seven times! We did it seven times?”
Catherine nodded, “So whose counting?” she grinned, “Are you tired Vincent?”
His blue eyes blazed, “Are you?”
“Me! Never. What time is it anyway?”
The candles had burnt away, the chamber completely dark. “At a guess I’d say it was coming up to tea time.”
“Tea time! You mean we have been in bed almost all day!” Catherine exclaimed.
“That’s why I’m no longer tired, my Catherine.” He no longer shuddered, instead fire coursed through his veins.
“Oh but you will be.” Catherine teased him.
“But not for some time my Catherine.”
Catherine squirmed with delight. Vincent unleashed was unstoppable.
“Perhaps we had best put in an appearance. People will be worried.”
Vincent chuckled, “Now who’s the frightened one?”
“Frightened? Me?” I’m not frightened Vincent.”
“Then you should be.” He teased.
Catherine shuddered as his long claws trailed delicious rows up and down her bare thigh.
“Then I surrender.” She told him tenderly, snuggling down beneath the blankets at his side.
Vincent pulled them up over the two of them, wrapping his arms around her, “So Catherine, are you ready for number eight?” he teased nuzzling her throat.
Catherine giggled, “You’d better believe it Vincent.”
*** *** ***
Sitting beside the mirror pool Chad looked into the water as the sunset reflected from Above. He loved it there, and it was one of his father’s most favourite places, his own window to the world.
Chad felt so happy. Happier than he had ever been in all of his life.
Living below the city streets in his secret world with so many wonderful people, and best of all both his mother and his father, Chad felt truly blessed.
And now his mother would be happy too.
Chad hugged himself with glee.
As the sunset blazed red and gold, Chad could just make out the first few stars appearing in the mirror pool’s reflection, and he remembered the many times he had wished upon a star. Now all those wishes had come true, he would have his happy life, and he would never be bullied again.
He sighed with pleasure, looking up with a ready smile upon his lips as a sound disturbed him. His eyes lit up, “Mom, dad you’re up.”
They sat each to one side of him, taking one of his hands inside their own. His mother looked intensely happy. And his father’s face seemed different somehow. More relaxed.
Chad gazed from one to the other waiting for someone to speak.
“I believe we have you to thank for the happiness we share just now?” Catherine spoke at last.
Chad looked down at the water, a little embarrassed, “It was all I could think of.” Chad mumbled softly without looking up.
“Well I’m very pleased that you thought of it.” Vincent told him gently ruffling his hair.
Chad smoothed it down, (old habits die hard,) he grinned at his father.
“And we’ve some news for you.” Catherine told him, smiling as Chad gasped and held his breath.
“Your mother is going to live Below with us from now on.” Vincent told him, reaching across Chad for Catherine’s other hand.
“Oh I know I was rather limited in where I could go before, Chad. But it did cross my mind to risk living Above if I couldn’t be certain of being happy down here.”
“But now you will be happy?” Chad asked hopefully.
“Oh yes Chad, now I have everything that I ever hoped for.”
“And we have you to thank for that.” Vincent told him.
The mirror pool was dark now, reflecting a night sky ablaze with stars.
“Remember how you used to wish upon a star Chad?” Catherine asked.
Chad nodded, “I was just thinking about that before you turned up. “ he told her.
“Are there any wishes that you would like to make now.” Catherine asked gently, her eyes shining with love for him and the man at her side. Vincent squeezed her hand.
“Yes.” Chad told her, his eyes shining. “Yes, there is just one more thing.”
“Won’t you tell us? Perhaps it is something that we all might wish for.”
“If I could have one last wish it would be that you guys get married and that we all live happily ever after” he looked from one to the other of his parents hopefully.
Vincent smiled, “I think I could manage that.” His gaze shifted to Catherine, “Will you marry me, Catherine?”
Catherine gasped with delight, “Oh Vincent! Yes I will.”
For several seconds Chad watched mesmerised as his parents kissed, his heart pounding with happiness, and the stars in the mirror pool twinkled back at him, as a comet blazed across the sky its tail an infusion of colours.
Seeing the comet Chad remembered that once upon a time he had believed that he could only ever find treasure if he climbed one side of a rainbow and slid down its other side. Now he knew that that wasn’t so. Neither did happiness stem from wishing on a star.
No he reasoned that wasn’t it at all. Love was the key to happiness, and as he looked up into the two smiling faces above him, he knew that the two of them shared that in abundance, and what was more they shared it with him too.
Chad was so happy that he couldn’t contain himself, dancing with delight, Catherine and Vincent’s kiss was ended abruptly by the sound of Chad’s cry, “Yeees!” he shouted, arms raised, “Yeees “ he literally jumped up and down for joy, “Yeees, Oh Yes! Oh Yes!”
And with happiness shining out of their eyes, his parents drew their son into a firm embrace, knowing without a doubt that the happy life for the three of them together had begun at last.
*** *** ***
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.