Curiosity Killed The Cat

Vincent strongly believed that desire lay with the dark one until the day came when curiosity killed the cat


Curiosity Killed the Cat

Chapter One

“Blue? No not blue. Green then. No not green. Purple? No, definitely not purple!” Catherine wiped furiously at her eyelids for what seemed the millionth time that evening, as she went from one shade of eye shadow to the next, and still couldn’t decide which one to wear.

An exasperated sigh and a slump of shoulders signified her defeat, and she scrutinised her face in the mirror. That face, that many had called beautiful looked back at her wane, sullen and exceedingly miserable. Catherine saw rather than felt the tears that slithered from her eyes and she brushed them fiercely away.

Staring at her reflection, Catherine was so lost in misery that at first she did not hear the gentle tap tapping at her balcony doors. In fact she heard them not again, or again, and only when the door opened and a husky voice asked, “Catherine, am I disturbing you?” did she actually acknowledge that Vincent was standing there.

‘What a time for him to see me!’ Eyes red rimmed, cheeks blotched, make up smudged, Catherine did not dare look around, although knowing all too well anyway that he could easily see her face in the reflection of the mirror. Hastily she scrubbed the remnants of her labours away before she dared replying. br>
Vincent waited politely, trying very hard not to look at her reflection, trying very hard to act as if everything was right with her world, but deep inside his heart grieved him. And deep in the recesses of his heart something told him that Catherine’s present mood was due to him.

Biting back anything he might have said, Vincent waited until Catherine appeared to have regained her composure enough to turn around and with a forced smile, he noticed, answered, “Vincent, no of course not, come inside. It’s so cold out there tonight.”

Stepping through into the apartment, Vincent closed the doors behind him, wondering if he ever might get used to this simple action. For long enough he had dared not venture into her home. It was all so, Catherine…warm and satiny and soft and it only brought home to him how very different they were.

“How was your day?” They spoke together and both grinned somewhat sheepishly at the other.

“You first.” Catherine invited, not really wishing to burden him with the ins and outs of her day, especially not this day.

“Nothing untoward happened today, a minor act of diplomacy between Zach and Geoffrey but nothing disastrous. Mouse lost Arthur and it was panic stations for a time, but Arthur knew where to go back to when he was hungry.” Vincent chuckled at this, remembering everybody charging around searching for Mouse’s furry friend when all the while the creature was stuffing himself full of apples back in Mouse’s chamber. He did not need to tell Catherine the picture that memory painted, for she had witnessed it before and she knew.

Catherine smiled - probably the first genuine smile she had given all day, as thoughts of her dear friends below sprung to mind.

“And you?” Vincent was eager to prise out of his love the melancholy he had felt within her on an off throughout the day.

“Nothing I couldn’t handle.” She replied very much aware that she couldn’t handle her latest problem because quite simply it involved him.
br> “Would you like anything to drink? Tea, wine, fruit juice?”

Vincent shook his head, “No, nothing thank you.” He looked at her a long while before adding, “Catherine we have never withheld anything from one another before.” He added the last very softly, causing Catherine to hold her breath in order to hear him. How could she ever have hoped that he would not know of her turmoil?

“I know that Vincent.” Walking from her bedroom into the lounge Vincent followed, and each came to bend and sit on a dinky sofa facing one another.

Vincent’s eyes were troubled as he took up her hands in his. “Tell me Catherine, please. Tell me what you are feeling.”

The sorrow in her eyes grieved him and she shook her head, allowing her silken hair to cover her face, in an effort to shield her emotions from him. The pain was relentless, the heartache deep. Her hands were in his, she was so near yet so far and Catherine wanted to scream, hold me - kiss me - either that or snatch up his hands and drag him into her arms. But of course she could do none of those things. So she averted her eyes from him, lest he read of those guilty secrets.

Taking her sorrow deep inside Vincent allowed her hands to slip from his and he made to stand, “I should go Catherine. It is late and you need your rest.” His heart hammered painfully in his chest. He could feel the tension building between them, and he didn’t like it, not one bit. Things were changing between them, though not for the better.

Broken-hearted Vincent was being forced to face the fact that the dream was dying if he did not do something about it.

As he stood beside her, Catherine looked up, her eyes were level with his thighs, and her hands ached to touch him there. Resolutely she forced them to stay put on her lap and she heard herself plead, “Stay. Please, just a little while longer.”

Detecting the slim voice of hope in her tone, Vincent could not for the life of him take another step away, he sat back down, and again took up her hands in his. “What is it Catherine? Please tell me, for I cannot bear the pain you are feeling and not know how to help.”

Again Catherine shook her head, but this time she replied, “I cannot.”

Releasing a deep breath, Vincent sighed, “Is it me?”

Catherine’s head rose, she stared at him, wondering why he had assumed that? She had been so careful, even with the bond, she had been ever mindful not to let him know how deeply she desired him.

For long moments each stared at the other waiting for a reply, each daring not to give it. Finally Vincent, unable to wait spoke again, “If there is someone…” He was unable to finish, the thought alone too painful to contemplate. But Catherine understood, and raced to reassure him, “There is no one…” Only you, she wanted to scream, only ever you! And to her dismay the tears began to fall again.

Unable to bear it a moment longer, Vincent stood, pulling her up with him and enfolded her into his arms, “Tell me, please tell me, I want to help. Has someone hurt you?” He kissed the top of her head, holding her close to him, and Catherine snuggled into the solid feel of him.

“No.” She murmured, causing a frown to appear on Vincent’s brow.

“No?” He repeated.

Catherine desperately tried to explain. No she couldn’t tell him, but yes she was hurting, someone had hurt her, and unintentionally so was hurting her even now, just by being so near to her. But oh, to be close to him, Catherine didn’t ever want to be anywhere else.
Inhaling deeply Catherine took his scent deep into her lungs, loving the smell of candle wax and old books and the intoxicating masculine fragrance that was his and his alone. Never would she smell this anywhere else and be instantly reminded of him. Simply he was the only one with it…he was the only one. And if there was one thing that she needed to complete all this, right at that precise moment, it was to feel his lips on hers. Arh yes, to have him kiss her. Catherine almost swooned at the thought.

For Vincent, sensing all these raging emotions but not understanding the source he was left confused and prompted her “Tell me. Please Catherine.”

Suddenly aware, in those simple words what she was probably doing to him, Catherine stepped reluctantly back a little, “You’re right Vincent, it is late. Will I see you tomorrow?”

The sudden change in her startled him, and the distance between them saddened him. Vincent longed to hold her safe and close in his arms again. He was confused and even more troubled by the abrupt change in her, but he did not pursue it.

“Yes. Will you come below? Or should I come here?” He was pulling up his hood, covering the luscious locks that Catherine had dreamed of running her fingers through so many times.

“I shall be home late, I have a function to attend. Could you come here, say about midnight?” Catherine held her breath, knowing how Vincent would insist at such an hour she needed her sleep not idle chit-chat. But for once he surprised her. “Yes, I’ll be here. I’ll come earlier and wait.”

“Please feel free to come into the apartment, I’ll leave the latch up for you, make yourself at home. If someone does insist on seeing me to my door, I will accidentally on purpose knock against it to alert you and you can hide in the bedroom until they have gone.”

Vincent nodded, somewhat relieved by that. Not so much as the fact that someone might see her home, but by the fact that he should hide in her bedroom. He didn’t know why, but that gave credence to the fact that Catherine wasn’t intending to take anyone else in there.
His spirits lifted, though he was dismayed as to why and dismissed the thought quickly before it had time to grow.

Crossing the room to the balcony, Vincent begged, “I’ll see myself out, you stay there, it is so cold outside tonight. Stay in the warm Catherine.”

Catherine nodded, “I will, thank you Vincent. And thank you for coming here tonight. Be Well.”

“Be Well Catherine.” He did not look back, and Catherine watched as he left her apartment firmly closed the door behind him and disappeared into the night.

*** *** ***

“Glad to hear it Cathy.”

“Joe?” Catherine looked up from her desk, where she had idled for the past hour.

Joe grinned, “Said glad to hear it.”

“Is it riddle day or what?” Catherine managed a grin too.

“Nope. Your problem, glad to hear it’s got a name.” Joe nodded, indicating the pad in front of her upon which she had been doodling.

Horrified Catherine gasped when she realised what was before her eyes and the rest of the world’s if they dared to look, as Joe so obviously had.

“Hey don’t feel so bad.” Joe chuckled, “Welcome to the real world Radcliffe. So you got a life at last.”

“Pardon me?” Catherine stammered, hastily grabbing her pad and stuffing it into the nearest drawer.

Joe burst into laughter, “Hiding the evidence won’t work with me Radcliffe. But it’s nice to know that you weren’t fed up with the work. Know what I’d call it?”

“Call what?”

He spelt it out, “This V-i-n-c-e-n-t problem. Gee I know I was reading upside down, but that is the word you have been writing over and over and sticking all those fancy little love hearts around for the past hour isn’t it?” He grinned at her the sparkle in his eyes devilish.

Catherine had the grace to blush, but said nothing.

“Well that’s what I call, getting it real bad Radcliffe. So how long have you known this guy?”

Catherine could neither find the answer, nor wish to tell him. Suddenly the office seemed awfully stuffy and Catherine needed air and fast.

“You okay Radcliffe, you look decidedly green around the gills all of the sudden? Here, let me open the window.” Racing behind her, Joe shoved the window open as far back as it would go, allowing an icy blast of winter air to wash into the room.

“Jeez Joe, you want to freeze me to death.” Catherine grabbed the handle and yanked the window back to a safer level of eagerness for the winter’s chill.

“Nope, but that sure as hell put some colour back into your cheeks. So what’s the story?”

“There is no story Joe.” Catherine tried not to let the sadness fill her voice, but Joe detected it anyway.

“He’s married?” His voice sounded flat. Suddenly he was imagining how unfair life was. He loved Catherine, and she was dotty over a married guy. Life really sucked.

“No Joe he’s not married, just unavailable.”

Well that was better, wasn’t it? Joe reasoned, at least it made him feel a little better, but… “How so Cathy?”

“I’m sorry Joe, I’ve already said too much, please leave it will you?” The sadness in her tone almost broke his heart. Joe nodded, suddenly lost for words and the desire to tease her any further.

“Well I hope it works out for you Cathy, I really do, and if anytime you need a shoulder…”

“I’ll know where to find you. Thanks for caring Joe.” Catherine managed a weak smile and watched his retreating back for several long moments while chiding herself on her foolishness of doodling Vincent’s name all over her notepad, before slumping back into her well of misery.

*** *** ***

“Father, am I disturbing you?”

“Vincent, no come on in. You are just in time to help me lift this last box onto the table.”

Vincent eyed the table full of boxes with a critical eye, “Have you moved all of these here yourself?”

“They weren’t so heavy. Quite empty in fact, I’ve filled them more since they have been on the table.” Father told his son, without quite looking him in the eye.

“You should have called me, I wasn’t doing anything particularly important. You should not lift these boxes…” Vincent’s voice trailed away.

“At my age. Is that what you were going to say?” Father eyed him accusingly and appeared to look hurt.

“Anyone at any age should not lift heavy boxes. It is always best to extract some of the weight first, is it not?”

“That’s what I told you I did.”

“I know what you told me Father.” Vincent’s voice was gently scolding, slightly humorous.

“I won’t do it again.” Father mumbled, “Now are you going to pick up that last box, or do I have to do it myself again?"”

Vincent laughed heartily, “Gotchya!” Causing Father to frown at his son’s vocabulary.

“Pardon?” Father questioned.

“So let me get this right, if I don’t pick it up, you will?”

Father knew when he’d been had, but edged around it, “ Of course I’d lessen the load somewhat first.”

“Of course.”

“Oh Vincent, are you going to stand there all day making fun of me, or are you going to help?” Father asked exasperated.

Vincent chuckled, and deciding he had probably ruffled his parent more than enough for one day he strode forward and picked up the almost weightless to him, box of books and deposited them upon the table leaving Father to watch in awe. His son’s strength never failed to amaze him. Struggling with all those other boxes had almost killed him but he wouldn’t admit that to anyone.

“Thank you Vincent. Now was there something you wanted to talk to me about?”

Back to the present Vincent frowned, “Yes, if you can spare the time.”

“For you, always. Now sit down. I for one could do with some tea. How about you?”

“You sit, and I’ll get some.” Vincent firmly pressurised Father’s shoulder, easing his parent down into his much-loved chair.

“Thank you Vincent.”

As Vincent worked boiling the water, and adding the herbs to the pot, and pouring the water upon them, he said nothing, but Father saw everything. That stoop to the shoulders told him things. Those eyes, troubled and grieving affected Father badly. Whatever Vincent was about to say, obviously tea would not suffice. Possibly something stronger would be necessary to loosen his son’s tongue. Father waited patiently, knowing when to be silent.

Handing his father a steamy mug of herb tea Vincent took up the seat opposite, sipping on his own. The aroma and the heat infused him like nothing else and already he began to feel better.

Father thought so too, “Arh wonderful. I needed that.” He drew a deep breath, took a few more sips, then passed the mug to the table before asking his son, “So, what was it you wished to see me about.” As gently as he could.

For long moments, Vincent, typically of him, was unable to speak. Father could almost sense the tidal wave of emotions vying for release within his son, but did not prompt him further.

Periodically Father picked up his mug and sipped his tea, replacing it to the table between each sip until at last Vincent started to tell him what was on his mind.

“It’s Catherine!” He blurted. Father was not in the least surprised, but quirked an eyebrow nonetheless.

“Catherine? Is she well?”

“Yes, in so much as healthy…”

“What then?”

“I don’t know, I can’t put my finger on it…but Catherine…is different somehow.”

“How different? Toward you? Toward her work? Can you explain Vincent?”

“I don’t know the answer to any of those questions. She will not tell me what is wrong, but there is something Father. I am not imagining it.”

“I didn’t say you were.” Father rubbed his chin thoughtfully his kindly eyes filling with sympathy.

“I know. But it is something I thought I might have imagined, until last night.”

“Last night?” Dear Lord, but it was like pulling teeth!

“Yes, I have known for some time that Catherine has been changing. I thought it was a difficult case she was working on. I thought it would pass. That if I was there for her encouraging her, she would eventually get through it.”

“But it wasn’t that?”

“No, I don’t think so. Father, I’m so afraid.” Vincent’s voice shook, causing Father to lean forward and take up his son’s large and furry hands within his. Father tenderly stroked the backs of his son’s hands with his thumbs, offering him comfort.

“No. I believe now it was something else.” There was a long silence after that omission and Father did not know what to say. That his son was suffering was apparent and Father’s heart ached for him, but deep inside Father began to feel sick, as all his fears seemed to be coming true.

“Father, I asked you once, and I must ask again, as painful as that answer might be.” Vincent whispered, looking up into his parent’s eyes.

Father waited without replying. His heart in his mouth knowing what was to come.

“Father am I a man?”

A long outdrawn breath rushed through Father’s suddenly parched lips and for long moments he was unable to reply. What could he tell him? What had altered that he might tell him anything more or anything less than he had the last time that Vincent had asked this of him? Silently he shook his head, unable to speak at all.

Seeing his Father’s fight to reply, Vincent’s head bowed, “You don’t have to say it Father, its there in your eyes.”

“I’m sorry Vincent. But why do you ask?”

“You do not know?”

“Yes I know. The question is, do you? Or more importantly are you ready to face the reason behind needing to know the answer to that question?”

Untangling his hands from his parent’s, Vincent stood. Father had been half expecting this action, more surprised that it had taken so long in coming. As Vincent started to pace the room Father’s heart went out to his son.

“If I was a man…I could offer Catherine her heart’s desire…I could be what she would want me to be…”

“And that is?”

Vincent swept around, startling Father as his blue eyes blazed for one fiery moment, and then sunk to the deepest of depths as the enormity of what he was charged back to haunt him. He could not speak, for he had almost given himself away and that shamed him. For one moment, for one startling moment he had almost voiced his most treasured secret, that as a man he could love Catherine the way that she should be loved.

Sinking to his knees, the tears came, hot and scalding. Sobs shaking his great frame and Father hobbled from his seat to kneel at his son’s side holding him fiercely, rocking him to and fro. “I’m sorry Vincent, I’m so sorry.” Father sobbed along with his son, feeling wretched that there was nothing he could say or do that would bring his son the happiness he so deserved.

*** *** ***

Chapter Two

The clock chiming midnight only served to heighten her fears. He said he’d be there, he said he would arrive early and wait, but as the hands of the clock ticked around to 12.01 Catherine grew increasingly disturbed.
Supposing something had happened to him, supposing someone had seen him, hurt him…she searched their connection frantically feeling only slightly relieved to feel nothing from him that worried her further. He was safe, that she knew, but he had not come and he had said he would and that was so unlike him.
She’d checked for messages, checked that he had not been and left, but there was nothing and it was too cold to wait out on the balcony. And though she was tired she knew she would never sleep.

What to do? Go below and check that all was well? Perhaps something critical had happened in his world. Maybe someone was in trouble. Maybe she could help. Her mind set Catherine raced into her bedroom, tearing off her gown, to don jeans, sweatshirt and sneakers and was just about to leave the apartment, when she heard the ever familiar tapping on her balcony doors.
Whirling around and slamming the apartment door shut, Catherine raced across the room, to fling open the balcony doors and fly into his arms. “You’re late. I was worried.” She cried anxiously.

“Are you going out Catherine?” They spoke at the same time and Catherine smiled.

“I was going below. I’d convinced myself you had a problem down there. I thought I might be able to help.”

Vincent ushered her into the warmth of the apartment, suddenly lost for words, yet desperate to reassure her at the same time.

“Catherine can we talk?”

Ominous, Catherine thought, “Yes of course. Come sit down, can I get you a hot drink, chocolate maybe?” She grinned, knowing his love for hot chocolate. “I’ve got some marsh mellows.” She added to tempt him.

“Later, please I need to speak to you.” Now, he added under his breath, before my courage and well-practised speech fails me.

Curious and a little troubled Catherine allowed him to lead her to the sofa, where he sat opposite facing her. Now they were actually sat there in her apartment as he had imagined the words almost failed him. Catherine smiled, “You know you can tell me anything Vincent.” She encouraged.

“Yet you could not tell me anything last night.” His eyes did not accuse, but Catherine knew she had walked right into that one.

“Touché.” She told him meekly.

He grinned briefly, “I do believe dear Catherine that my words might release your inability to tell me of what was bothering you yesterday.”

Catherine tensed thinking, ‘I hope not’ to herself, as panic charged at her from nowhere.

“It’s all right, I understand.” Vincent told her.

“You do?”


“I don’t think so Vincent.” Catherine shook her head. She had tried to be so careful. How could he possibly know how she felt?

“Yes, I think I do know what it is that has been bothering you. You see those same things have bothered me also.” Vincent swallowed with difficulty. Dear Lord he hoped he was right, he was laying his heart bare here and never had he done anything like it before but this wretchedness that had been between them of late could not continue. He could bare it no longer.

“I love you Catherine.” The words had been on the tip of his tongue all day, yet he could not believe he had uttered them now. He stared at her, shamefully, wanting to run and hide. What must she think of him?

There was a look of incredibility dawning upon her face, quickly followed by one of happiness. Her whole face lit up with joy, “Oh Vincent!” Drawing a deep breath, Catherine continued, “And I love you too. So very much.”

At her confession Vincent felt some of Catherine’s incredibility charging through his mind his heart and his limbs and he wanted to roar. He was suddenly so happy, he wanted to race up to the roof and roar as load as he could! ‘Gee that would really show her how human you are’. A little voice inside told him, though for once, he did not seem to mind it.

They gazed at one another, neither quite knowing what to expect next, neither quite knowing what to say. Catherine felt that at any moment she would slither right off the sofa. Her body had become liquid heat. Gazing at him had always had that effect on her but now…oh now…oh how she wanted him!

If only she could tell him so.

At a loss as to what to do, Vincent began to feel uncomfortable. He supposed that most people when telling of their love for one another would kiss. But Vincent balked at that idea. A kiss would lead to other things and he was not ready for any one of them.

He became embarrassed when his breath came out in pants, short and sharp, and he looked around wildly for escape, but Catherine ever knowing, ever understanding managed to find her feet and stood pulling him up after her. “Come its late, I can see you are tired. Shall I see you tomorrow? In the morning perhaps?” A silly grin spread across her face. He was so adorable and he had so obviously, completely lost it.



“Tomorrow? Shall I come below? It’s Saturday remember?”

Vincent nodded, “Yes Saturday.” He grinned, his eyes dancing suddenly with humour. “Yes I’ll meet you at the threshold at ten. Is that too early?”

‘Too late more like it’ Catherine thought. But nodded anyway. Her eyes were dancing with his. She wanted him to stay, wanted him to spend the night, wanted to show him just how much she loved him.

Pulling on his gloves at the doorway Vincent stopped what he was doing and hesitated as the desire to kiss her almost overwhelmed him. But he could not, just could not. Beside he was not experienced enough in those things to feel comfortable with making the first move while even knowing that he should.

“Till tomorrow.” Gentle hands pushed him firmly from behind, and he felt her humour through their connection, and… He gasped! There were other feelings there too…Feelings he had only ever associated with himself before. He must be mistaken she couldn’t feel that way, not for him, surely not for him? Vincent turned to face her, he had to see it in her eyes, but Catherine had seen him tense, had felt his surprise and had fought her emotions back into the tiny corner of her heart where they had been nurtured for the past three and a half years. So when he turned around her eyes told him nothing and he let himself believe that he had imagined it.

“Till tomorrow, sweet Catherine.” He husked, trailing one gloved finger along the line of her cheek and thrilled when Catherine turned her head to bestow a kiss into the palm of his hand. She choked back a sob and the desire to cling to him, her heart beating erratically.

“Go with care Vincent…my love.” She added softly, causing Vincent to hesitate once more. ‘What was he doing? He didn’t want to leave…ever!’ He wanted to stay there and love her as she had never been loved before. With great difficulty Vincent forced himself to put one foot in front of the other. “Ten o’clock.” He forced himself to say knowing that if he got any sleep before then he’d be lucky. Nothing short of a very cold shower would force away the fire in his loins this night.

Then never knowing why or how she could, Catherine suddenly heard herself asking him “Would you like to stay tonight Vincent?”

The question was almost his undoing! Teetering with one leg already over the balcony wall, Vincent turned back to look at her, “Stay?” He croaked. ‘Oh God, yes he wanted to stay. Did she mean it?’ He held his breath for her answer.

Partially disgusted with herself for asking, and horrified that she had, Catherine looked about her wildly, not knowing what else to say. She wanted him and she loved him totally, and he loved her, and right now she wanted to go inside and hug herself tightly because Vincent had said he loved her. That he really loved her and that he seemed as though he might be ready to go forward in their relationship at last.

Catherine chided herself on that thought, ‘seemed’ was not enough, ‘what seemed’ to be what Vincent wanted was not necessarily what he did want, and putting her own emotions onto him was not going to make him want her any more than she hoped. But the poor fellow still hovered on her balcony, like a half frightened baby pigeon wondering whether it should risk its first flight or not.

“I’m sorry Vincent, forget I said that. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Vincent could have wept. Having almost convinced himself of the possibility that the invite was genuine, he now felt completely slapped. Gruffly he responded, “Be well Catherine.” And was gone before she could blink.

Suddenly the desire to hug herself vanished and Catherine felt chilled to the bone. Something was wrong she knew it and thinking back over the last few moments, Catherine did finally hug herself as planned. Vincent hadn’t seriously thought she’d meant her invitation to stay had he? As the possibility brightened in her heart and mind for the first time in her life Catherine saw the sun rise in the sky at midnight.

*** *** ***

The tunnels seemed abnormally long, or perhaps he was just going around in circles, but Vincent, unable to sleep as he had supposed, just had to walk and walk, thinking all the while about the events that had taken place in Catherine’s apartment earlier. He had noticed that the traumatic emotions that had followed Catherine of late had not been so apparent, but rather there had been a shift in her emotions, more intense and deeper but not in the negative way she had drowned in so recently. This evening her emotions had been different although the same if that made any sense. Connected, yes that was the word, part and parcel of one another and suddenly stopping himself short, Vincent faced the fact that the emotions he had felt in Catherine for some time now had a name…desire!

Breathless Vincent had to sit down. Slithering to the sandy tunnel floor as his legs gave way, disbelief warred with hope. Hope that the feelings he had felt from Catherine were the same as he’d had for her. That she desired him as a woman would desire a man. Half of him recoiled at the thought and half of him revelled in it. But what should he do about either?

Vincent’s natural tendency was curiosity. He had always wanted to learn, but there were some things that having believed was not for him Vincent found that idle curiosity did not even come close. If he were to pursue this with Catherine, he would need to be prepared to open his eyes fully to the facts laid bare, amongst other things. His cheeks reddened as he added the last to his mind. The thought of Catherine, naked…of himself naked…with her…Vincent limbs felt like they might never belong to him again, or that he might never be able to stand and leave that particular part of the tunnels ever. He would fossilise there and no one would ever know why he had died smiling. But there was a part of him that seemed to have a mind of its own. Full bloodied and hard, it pained him and Vincent groaned. This feeling was not a new one, ever since he had loved Catherine he had had to fight it, but tonight… never had it agonised him so much.

He shook his great head, his mane of tawny hair flying about his shoulders. He was moving too fast. Only last night, no mere hours ago he had told Catherine that he loved her and very soon he would see her again, and they would what? Say hello?
Hug as usual?
Vincent moaned as the latter thought sprang to mind. They loved one another they should kiss. It would only be natural. But could he kiss her anymore in a few hours time than he could a few hours earlier? He thought not.

Still the thought of those lips, those luscious silky lips…beneath his… willing… yielding… Vincent grew hot with longing… and rose unsteadily on shaky legs. He needed a shower, a cold one and fast…in two hours he would see Catherine again…he mustn’t act like some love struck teenager, must he? Deep inside he could not stop the little voice from asking, well why not? Why ever not?

*** *** ***

Sleep damn you! Catherine punched the pillow into a more favourable position for the hundredth time and shut her eyes tightly, but it was no good. She just could not sleep. ‘If you finally fall asleep at seven Chandler and sleep past ten I’ll kill you.’ She told herself furiously. Still sleep evaded her and Catherine finally gave herself up to Vincent loving her in her daydreams.

This time her dreams took on a new solidity, they were real, possible and Catherine explored areas she had never dared broach before. Keeping as ever a tight restraint on the bond Catherine imagined what it would be like to love Vincent and to have him love her. His differences never came into it, except for the fact that she knew she would be thrilled if he should hold onto her neck with his mouth while they were making love. Or that he might prefer to take her from behind, as instinct prevailed. Catherine shuddered with longing, as the thoughts played out in her mind.

Gloriously happy her lids closed over bright eyes and Catherine slept on and on, never even listening to the shrill blast of the set alarm and not even knowing that one slender arm crept from beneath the covers to snuff out the sound.

*** *** ***

Pacing the threshold, freshly washed, and newly worried, Vincent needed no watch to know the time. It was way after ten and with each passing minute his heart died another death.
‘Where was she?’

He couldn’t go above to her, it was daylight, yet to wait until the evening? Vincent didn’t think he could.

As the minutes ticked away and Vincent strained his ears for any sound from the basement above, he sought along the connection and found that Catherine was sleeping. Sleeping! How could she sleep at a time like this?

Slumping to the floor, well out of sight should someone else open the threshold door and see him there, Vincent dwelt deep inside the bond. Something he had rarely done in the past, not wanting to impose on Catherine’s privacy. But he did so now, ‘Wake up Catherine. Wake up my love. Wake up its late.’ He whispered over and over hoping he would wake her.

*** *** ***

Mmm, Vincent was just about to take her for the fifth time, when Catherine heard him speak to her. What was he talking about? She was awake. She’d been awake all night, making love with him…oooh and how so…
Suddenly Catherine sat bolt upright! She’d been dreaming… What time was it?
Horrified Catherine stared, and stared…no it couldn’t be…it couldn’t be? Not half past eleven…No!

Leaping from the bed, Catherine hastily did her usual half a dozen things at once. Fortunately she’d had much practice before and was soon sipping her cup of wake me up coffee, before heading for the threshold and praying that no one was in the basement at that time of day.

She was out of luck Even before she arrived the blare of a radio signalled activity and moments later she encountered two men stacking crates. “Looking for something miss?” One of them asked her.

Catherine shook her head, “Just heard the radio.” She told them her eyes searching over their shoulder to the threshold door. Beyond it her love waited for her, she could feel his anxiety, his underlying joy that she was there and she desperately, desperately wanted to call out to him.

“Well you’re welcome to stay and listen to it. I got this new tape, wanna listen?” One of the men inserted a tape, and started to play that instead. Catherine listened for a few minutes, then stepped back outside, frantically trying to think of a way to distract the two men so she might get below.

As she stood there thinking, the music sounded through the door as one of the men started singing along. ‘Got it! Perfect!’ Catherine cried, and turning the door handle went back into the room, surprising the two men into near silence as she yelled over the sound of the music “You’re singing the wrong words.” Catherine was well aware that they weren’t.

“Oh? I don’t think so lady, but tell us then, how do you think they should go?”

Manoeuvring herself as near to the threshold door as possible, Catherine frantic to do anything now, started to sing, “Meet me in the park, in daylight not the dark, and I’ll be there, I promise I’ll be there.” The two men burst into laughter, “You’re real funny you know that, but that’s not how it goes, just listen…
But Catherine did not wait to listen. Vincent had understood and was already moving away through the tunnels, Catherine could feel him and she dashed out of the basement leaving behind two very bemused men shaking their heads and thinking ‘strange lady.’

Racing across the road, and through the park, Catherine laughed to herself, the words of that wretched song still pounding in her mind, ‘meet me on the corner as the lights are going down and I’ll be there, I promise I’ll be there.’ She thought it might be by Lydisfarn, but at that moment she didn’t care if it were by the Queen of England. It had worked, she had got the message through to Vincent and any moment now she would be in his arms.

Running as though her life depended upon it, Catherine entered the darkness of the tunnel at full speed, crashing into something solid and warm, that had wonderful arms and a beautiful tantalising scent that enveloped her simultaneously. They fell together blissfully.



“I’m sorry, I’m sorry I was late. I overslept.” She hugged him tightly.

“I know. But you’re here now.”

“Yes. I’m here now.” Catherine clung to him, unable and unwilling to let him go. Something had changed, in those few short hours since they had declared their love for one another, things had changed. They were so at ease with one another and it was incredible.

“I love you Catherine.” Catherine thrilled at the words. Took them deep inside and fed on them. “I love you too Vincent.” She lifted her face to look into his eyes, and was stunned to see the look of longing in their depths. He wanted her! He did want her! Catherine’s heart rejoiced.
Her eyes locked to his, her mind screamed, kiss me, kiss me, kiss me…oh please kiss me…

Gazing down at the invitation in her eyes, Vincent lazily passed his gaze from those brilliant emeralds to the rubies of her lips and he swallowed with difficulty, the offer was unmistakable…she wanted this…she wanted him to kiss her…

What would it be like to feel those lips, their lushness beneath his own? What would it feel like to taste her as he had dreamed of tasting her for so long? Well here, before him was the answer, the very willing answer, and finally, finally curiosity got the better of him.

He lowered his mouth to hers, touching her lips just barely with his, feeling Catherine shift in his arms, and unprepared that she might attempt to meet him half way…he almost laughed…she met him more than half way! Taking the initiative, Catherine followed through on her dreams and threaded her fingers through his hair, applying gentle pressure to the back of his head towards her lips. A mighty groan escaped Vincent as their lips moulded together and the delicious taste of her devoured his senses.

This was no sweet and hesitant first kiss - this was passion personified. Once the fuse was lit the fire roared into life between them and neither one was willing to break the contact.

On and on, deeper and deeper the kiss lengthened with bodies entwined and arms around the other as far as either could reach. Catherine’s legs slightly apart, Vincent’s well and truly welded between them, his body pressed tightly against the contours of hers.

A moan erupted from one of them, or maybe it was both, but it was one moan not two, simultaneously, mutual. Tongues explored avenues and textures unknown, entwined and enacting the action of making love. Catherine became aware that Vincent’s persistent in and out movement of his tongue in her mouth signified his need to make love to her and that alone forced another moan to erupt from her mouth even as his body ground tightly against hers.

Forcing herself up and forward to meet that contact triggered a response in Vincent’s brain, and he broke the kiss, breathless and ashamed, unable to look at her as his body shook with passion and his breath lashed out in deep gasping pants.

“Vincent?” Catherine reached out an arm to touch him she must tread carefully now. They had come so far and would go further still, but she knew how vulnerable he was, and how misguided he could be about their relationship.

Slowly he turned his eyes to hers. They spoke volumes even when his mouth could not. She could read the apology in his eyes, but would not accept it. Shaking her head she begged him, “No Vincent, don’t feel ashamed. I welcome every part of you. Listen to me…” She clung to his arm when he shook his head in denial, “Look at me…” Taking his chin in one hand she forced him to look at her.

All Vincent wanted to do was close his eyes. He could not look at those lips, and not want… Not want… Dear Lord would he ever want anything else again, but the feel of her lips beneath his?

“Vincent I loved your kisses and your body close to mine. Did you feel me trying to escape?”

Vincent shook his head. Still words eluded him. He thought he must be dreaming, even more so at her next words.

“I know your need Vincent. I need that too. Take me somewhere Vincent, somewhere where we can be alone…Please.”

Surprised by her own words, Catherine waited, wondering what he must be thinking. But Catherine understood her own need, knew it had been too long since she had been able to express this side of love. Her body ached for the feel of his surrounding her… within her… a part of her. Breathlessly she waited for him to speak.

He didn’t. Couldn’t. Instead he took her and led her by the hand to a place he had dreamed of taking her if and when this day ever came. Somewhere warm and secret where they would be undisturbed but it was a long way and Vincent found it impossible to wait that long.

Stopping periodically in the tunnel ways, he leaned in for another kiss, thrilling and delighting Catherine to the core. And they were no dainty kisses, but kisses filled with as much fire and enthusiasm as the first, much to the delight of the hidden all-seeing eyes of the sentries that they encountered along the way.

*** *** ***

Word spread like wildfire.

Soon Father was listening avidly to a rather strange message. “What was that Mary?”

“Its not so much what it was, but what was meant Jacob.” Mary replied, reciting the message, “Vincent like a thirsty man at an oasis.’ Whatever does that mean?”

“Listen there’s more.” Father repeated and added, “Vincent like a thirsty man at an oasis, you will know what I mean when you see him.’ Well we will just have to hope that he soon arrives, this I must see.” Father told Mary curiously.

But they would have a long wait.

*** *** ***

Chapter Three

Deep in the catacombs Vincent reached the place, and carried Catherine inside, realising some moments ago, that even knowing the way blindfolded, stopping to kiss Catherine along the way was never going to get them there. And that carrying her in his arms and then kissing her meant he could make the journey and still have his cake and eat it, so to speak.

Catherine of course did not complain. She rather liked this new Vincent and returned his kisses with an ardour that surprised even him.

“We’re here.” He murmured as he settled her down onto the floor of the cave and reluctant to leave her lips, pulled back slowly, only long enough to snatch a burning torch from the tunnel beyond and fix it into a crevice in the cave, so that they might have some light.

In his estimation even that took too long and he was soon back at the oasis slaking his thirst.

Sinking to the floor, Catherine covered his body, moulding herself along the full length of him. She shuddered with delight when her femininity touched the pulsing hardness of him and she continued to kiss his face, his lips, his cheeks, brow and nose, covering all the places she had dreamed of kissing for such a long, long time.

“Am I dreaming?” She asked breathlessly.

“If you are we’re in it together.” Vincent husked, returning each one of her kisses with one of his own.

“Then may it never end.”

“Never.” He growled, leaning forward and capturing her lips as they hovered over his tantalisingly.

After a long while, Catherine’s bright love filled eyes sparkled with her joy and she felt the courage to ask, “So then kissy face what should we do next?”

For a moment Vincent tensed and Catherine could have kicked herself. She should have let nature take its course, should have allowed their passion to get out of control and take them where it would, but deep down inside she knew there was an answer to that. Vincent needed to speak of his need first or he would forever after regret anything that happened.

When he took his time in replying, Catherine knew she would have to speak of her own needs. Taking a deep breath and looking him squarely in the eye, she asked him, “Vincent, please…make love to me.”

Dragging in a lung full of air, Vincent thought he might pass out. No one had ever asked that of him, he never believed that anyone would. But to hear it come from Catherine, the woman he loved more than life, the woman he had dreamed of making love to it seemed for all of his life, well Vincent could not believe he had heard her right.

Yet he knew he would let her down. He couldn’t, just couldn’t, for it would mean she would see him and all that he was, and he could not bare her rejection.

As the minutes ticked by, Catherine saw her dream fading away, and the sorrow swamped her.

Wantonly she begged, dismayed that she could, “Please Vincent…I need you so.” But when he sat up and turned away from her to compose himself, she knew that she had once again lost him to the enemy of his uncertainty.

*** *** ***

Catherine hadn’t seen Vincent in a long time. At least it seemed a long time. In actual fact it was only four days, but it seemed like a lifetime. During those four days Catherine had agonised over their future knowing that they were stuck in limbo, unable to go back - unable to go forward. Unable to with the latter that was until Vincent decided that they could.
And that might never be. Catherine had to accept that. It had taken him three and a half years to actually place his lips against hers, so how many more years may pass before he would attempt to take their relationship further?

Oh but his kisses! They set her soul on fire. Catherine knew she could well feast on that memory for the rest of her life and not grow tired of it. Better still if he continued to allow kissing between them. Surely he was as affected by their kisses as she was?
Surely he wouldn’t expect that to stop?

Catherine knew that she could go below to seek him out but that would force the issue and she knew she mustn’t force the issue.
Vincent had to move ahead on his own terms or he would just sink his feet more firmly into the ground and refuse to budge. Waiting was awful but it was the only thing to do. All Catherine could do was immerse herself into her work and just hope that she could give it her full concentration.

*** *** ***

That his noble son was agitated, Jacob was well aware, but until Vincent thought to ask his counsel Father had left well alone. He knew the signs, knew that Vincent would work through his problems in his own time, but something nagged at the back of Father’s mind, something that whispered that he was to blame for his son’s inability to cope with whatever it was that bothered him this time.

Father had, in many respects, gratefully buried his head in the sand, since he had accepted that Catherine was here to stay. That the pain he had envisaged her bringing his son had never materialised, and he didn’t think now that it ever would. The only thing that bugged him these days was not the pain that Catherine would or might bring, but the pain that he had instilled in his son long ago that festered with every passing day.
A long confessional talk was certainly well overdue.

Approaching his son’s chamber later that day with some trepidation Father moved silently forward, careful not to even let his cane make a sound on the hard stone floor. Nevertheless for all his silence, Vincent detected his father’s approach and was waiting, watching for the old man to enter with a sense of unease.

Their eyes met. Blue on blue. Neither spoke for long moments. Father took in the disarray around and behind his son’s usually tidy chamber, and his heart went out to him. “Vincent?” A sob caught in Father’s throat as he took in his son’s dishevelled appearance. Leaning heavily with one shoulder against the entrance, Father’s arms were outstretched, his cane in one hand barring the exit. But he needn’t have worried for Vincent’s only escape was one to his embrace. Taking three or four large strides Vincent reached his father and was grateful for the arms that enclosed around him. He had come home. Nothing was like the embrace of one that loved and cared for you. Tears ran down Vincent’s cheeks and the relief he had searched so avidly for suddenly overwhelmed him.

“It’s all right. I’m here.” Father whispered tenderly, his arms clasped tightly around his son’s large frame.

Vincent said nothing. Father detected a grief in his son so strong that it rendered him speechless. “Take your time.” Father coaxed gently, “I’m not going anywhere. Just tell me when you can.”

They remained like that for some while and Vincent drew strength from his father. Strength that Jacob would gladly infuse into his son whenever he may need it.
It seemed laughable that this strong young man would ever be in need of the strength of an old man, but no matter a person’s frailty there were different kinds of strengths that could emanate from that one.

The strength that Vincent so desired now was worldly. Something he had no experience of. He needed to know so desperately what life, real life, was all about, and only Father had that knowledge. That is the knowledge to impart of a love cherished and lost.

Father understood how a broken heart felt. How the very thing he had warned Vincent of, might now come to pass.

Words came slowly, mumbled through tears. “I’m sorry Father.”
Vincent’s claws were biting through the cloth of Father’s cloak, but he never complained once.

“For what, my son?” Father replied as tenderly as he could. Now that the tears had subsided his son had started trembling. Father’s heart ached and his throat was tight with sorrow.

Stiffening, preparing to pull back from his father’s embrace, Vincent sighed and relented, allowing his father to hold him tighter still.

“For what Vincent?” Father prompted at his son’s silence.

“You were right.” The words were torn from Vincent.

“Right? About what?”

“C…C…Cather…ine.” The name tumbled from his lips as a tremor shuddered through his frame.

Father thought his heart had stopped. He decidedly felt it skip a beat, and then another and another. He was grateful for the fact that his son’s arms were around him so tightly, otherwise he was sure he would have fallen with the shock. His eyes wide, he found the words at last to voice, “Vincent? You aren’t telling me…?” He couldn’t continue. ‘Not that…Oh please surely…Not that?’

Vincent understood at once, “No.”

The relief with that one word was tremendous. Father relaxed. “What then?” He was prompted to ask. He felt dizzy, weak, and needed to sit. Vincent fortunately recognised that need and untangling himself from his father’s arms, led his parent by the elbow to the nearest chair, and took up another for himself.
There, facing one another Father’s eyes encouraged his son to speak.

“We…I…” Vincent began.

Father could tell this was going to be long and difficult, and painful if he wasn’t mistaken. He had seen Vincent in a lot of ways, but never could he remember such distress as now.

“Is Catherine well?” Father asked, hoping the question would free his son’s inability to converse.

Vincent looked up, his eyes brooding, uncertain, filled with sorrow. Father caught his breath.

“I think so.”

Inwardly Father gasped, ‘Vincent didn’t clearly know how Catherine was?’ This was bad, worse than bad worse than worse. A smile touched Father’s lips, as he thought of Mouse’s vocabulary that he had involuntary just copied. Perhaps that’s what it was, the first sign of madness. The smile twitched and broadened. His eyes sparkled.

Vincent, the recipient of such an action, expelled a long sigh of relief. He smiled too, just a little, his sorrow dissipating for the moment - his tongue loosened at last.

“I haven’t seen her since Saturday. She was well then.” Vincent hesitated, “I have been too afraid to open our connection and see how she is since.”

“I see.” Father replied, though he didn’t really. Why wouldn’t Vincent seek to open the connection he shared with the woman that he loved more than life itself?

“Do you?”

Father shook his head, “No not really. Please explain Vincent.”

Leaving his seat, Vincent began his notorious pacing. Father realised he had been expecting this some minutes ago, and now watched his son moving across the chamber and then back again, knowing that whatever troubled his son would eventually be released in the action of swift movement.

“On Saturday…” He began. Father began to get a trifle agitated - it was as well that he had all the time in the world to listen. No appointments to surrender to at this time of day, nothing but dinner at any rate, and his stomach chided him with a gentle rumbling as a reminder that this time was getting very near.

“Yes?” He prompted when the silence ensued.

“We…that is…I…” Vincent drew in a deep breath and let the word he so desperately sought expel with it, “kissed”.

Jacob ‘s eyes grew wide. He didn’t know what he had expected. ‘Kissed’ covered a lot of emotions. “Kissed?” He repeated, “How do you mean kissed?” He laughed within himself, ‘oh don’t be such a ninny Jacob, you know damn well what he means. You’ve seen them kiss before, platonically so, this then must be something else.’

Vincent on the other hand was staring straight at his parent with disbelief. It had taken all of everything he had to admit to kissing Catherine, so how could his father expect him to explain such a kiss?

“Its all right I understand.” Father came to his rescue “You don’t need to explain Vincent. Forgive me. You just threw me that’s all...” His words trailed away as he found the inability to say more.

“It threw me too.” Was that a smile Father had seen grace Vincent’s lips? Yes it most certainly was, for when Vincent looked up his eyes were sparkling, filled with joy…and…and…with love.

Father laughed outwardly, “You enjoyed it?”

His son’s smile deepened “Oh yes Father, I enjoyed it.”

“Then why the doom and gloom?” Father prompted, sorry that he had when his son’s face fell again.
Father detected that perhaps now was the time to take his head from out of the sand and speak words that were long overdue. “Vincent?”

Something in the tone captured Vincent’s attention. His blue eyes searched those of his parent’s avidly.

Taking a deep breath, Father began, “There is something that I must say to you, something that is long overdue. Firstly I owe you an apology.”

“An apology? To me? Why Father?” Clearly Vincent was puzzled.

“I’ve caused you a grave injustice Vincent. Be it that it was done in kindness and love true, but an injustice nonetheless. Forgive me?”

“For what should I forgive you? Father what are you talking about?” Vincent felt in a kind of void, his own problems once paramount fading into nothingness as he tried to understand what his father was saying.

“I truly believed Vincent…but it was so wrong of me…in so believing I made you more of what you are than I could have…I’m so sorry.” Father reached for his son’s hands as he stood before him, imploring him with agonised eyes to sit down and face him. Vincent dropped back into his seat and watched his father closely.

“When you were brought to me…when Anna first showed you to me…I loved you…you were so strange and beautiful, I both feared for and loved you… And my heart was breaking that your life would be so limited…but living in the tunnels at least you would have a life…while up above…” Father shuddered, “Well who knows?” He left the question suspended - they both knew the answer to that.

Vincent remained silent, his blue eyes coaxing his father to continue. He knew that Father was searching for the right words to continue. Vincent waited, patiently.

“But I don’t know Vincent…whether what I did…how I cared for you…was right…”

Vincent broke in “No son could have had a better parent. Father you know that?”

Grimacing, Father patted his hand, “Please, let me continue Vincent?”


“Oh I know that you never went without…that your needs were always satisfied…but you weren’t only different Vincent…I treated you different too.”

“You were afraid for me.”

“Yes I was. Afraid that if you went above, were seen, you would be snatched away…” His voice faltered as tears formed in his eyes.

“Put in a cage…” Vincent filled in, “Used for an experiment?”

Father nodded, the gathered tears falling. He brushed them away with the back of a gloved hand.

“But don’t you see Vincent? I too put you in a cage.”


“Yes Vincent…I did…I caged you as surely here in these tunnels as you would have been caged above. But who can know that? Who can know that your life wouldn’t have been better above? Who can know that some kind soul would not have taken you in, and given you a life…a chance at the real life? Catherine accepted you, so many others have accepted you…I failed you Vincent…I failed you and robbed you of what you could have been!” The tears broke afresh now. Father sobbed into his hands and tears cascaded down Vincent’s cheeks. “Don’t Father. What’s done is done, nothing can change it.”

From his hands Father raised his eyes, “Oh but it can. Its never too late. I must undo all the damage that I have done, but you have to meet me half way Vincent. You have to want this too.”

“I don’t understand Father. What is it that I should want?”

“To have a normal life. A life that has been denied you…by me…by my own doubts…and my own selfishness…I thought I was protecting you from the world Vincent…while in actual fact I was protecting myself from losing you to the world.”

Vincent said nothing. What was there to say? Except to deny all of this? And somehow Vincent knew that Father would not accept that.

“I have always loved you Vincent. Fiercely so. If I was honest with myself it was jealousy that prevented me from allowing John to have anything to do with you. There were no rights - no one had the rights to do anything more to you or with you than the next person. John founded our world, and he too should have been allowed a say in your future but I refused to give it. I saw you as mine. In truth I needed you. I needed you so much.” Father paused, searching his mind back through the years, before continuing again, “I’d let Devin down. But all that love and all that affection was still pent up within me. Too late I thought, to bestow it upon Devin, but you? Well you were a baby, different yes but so very adorable, and you needed all the love that I so desperately needed to express. And you got it Vincent. You got it in full measure.”

“I know.” Vincent murmured. Remembering the sorrow in his brother’s eyes time and time again, when their father had favoured him over his own biological son, though of course neither of them knew that then.

“Please Father don’t drag yourself over the hot coals, it’s not necessary.”

“It is necessary Vincent, exceedingly so. I have to say this. Your future happiness depends upon it.” Intrigued, Vincent said no more.

“Had I of not treated you any differently, had I of not worried so about you, things would have been contrary to how they are now. When I look back I treated you as an outcast.” Vincent shook his head furiously, but did not interrupt. Father’s eyes were grieved, “I did Vincent. If you had been deformed in some way, by Down’s Syndrome perhaps, or physically handicapped I would have striven in every way possible to make certain that you fitted in, that you were treated with the rest, in the same manner as the rest. But I elevated you Vincent I placed you on a pedestal and made everyone know that you were different. I’m so sorry. I couldn’t see then what I see now.”

“And what is that Father?” Vincent prompted eager to get to the head of Father’s confession.

“Had I of not done those things, had I of not made you out to be some dangerous half being that might rip a person to shreds if you should become impassioned about something, then you wouldn’t be facing this problem now.” Father sighed deeply. They’d reached the crux of the matter at last.

Guarded Vincent replied softly, “And what problem would that be Father?” His father was too perceptive for Vincent’s liking and he was uncomfortable with what might now be disclosed.

“There are things we must speak of Vincent.” Father’s eyes held his son’s gaze. The two stared at one another for some moments, until Father began to speak again, when Vincent looked away.


Vincent wasn’t sure that he knew what was coming, but just hearing his father mention her name caused a trembling to start afresh in Vincent’s body.

“Catherine?” He whispered.

“Yes Catherine. Or more importantly Vincent, your role in her life.”

“My role?”

“Yes, yours. For too long you have allowed yourself the escapism of looking upon this as Catherine’s role in your life, and for that I feel I am very much to blame. No Vincent, let me finish.” Father waved Vincent’s retort aside and as his son was silenced Father went on, “I know you are well aware of the way of things Vincent, that is the way of pro creation,” Vincent sucked in a breath his eyes suddenly wary. “But I do believe that your knowledge is more of the medical side of things rather than the emotional. What I’m trying to say is, that though you know the mechanics of a relationship between two people, when it comes down to it, you know nothing of how it goes at all.”

There was another lapse of silence, while Father allowed his words to sink in. He was relieved when he saw his son’s countenance relax, and knew he had his full attention. He wasn’t about to take flight anymore, as he could well have imagined him doing just moments before.

“No.” Vincent whispered.

“And you’ve never been curious?”

“There was no need. Such things were not for me, could never be for me!” Vincent sighed.

Father did too, “And that is my fault.”

“No Father!”

“It is Vincent. You are too kind. And you can argue the odds with me all day, but please Vincent let me say this, its way overdue, and your future happiness depends upon your hearing me out.”

Vincent’s steady gaze held that of his father’s willing him to continue.

“I know I shouldn’t be, but I am surprised that you were never curious. Not even remotely?”

Vincent shook his head.

“Did you never see other people, other couples pairing off and wonder where they went to, and more importantly why they did?”

“I tried not to notice those things. If I did then my heart would be grieved. Watching others brought another kind of pain, one I thought there was no cure for, no hope as far as I was concerned.”

The sadness in his tone grieved Father. He winced. “Vincent I want to put this right. Its never too late.”

Vincent said nothing.

“I did you a grave wrong when you fell in love with Lisa.” Vincent winced, as the old pain consumed him.

“I thought you said it was infatuation?”

“Did I? I’m sorry. No Vincent what you felt for Lisa was love, but that too was brought out of proportion because I buried my head too deeply in the sand. I hoped that your upbringing would diffuse any such feelings you might have towards the opposite sex. I was shocked and angry when I discovered that it hadn’t. I suppose I was also surprised that you could have any such feelings towards a woman.
There you see I am making you different again. Why couldn’t I accept that anyone, any living being no matter how they may look would have a yearning toward a fulfilment with someone of the opposite sex? Why could I not see that? My treatment of you, misguided though it was, alienated you from life. I made you believe that the person you were had no right to the greatest force in the universe. The force of love. Even though I revelled in the love that you showed to me and to others in our community like the little ones, the children they are warmed by your gift of love, by your great affection for them. How could I be so blind as to think that that same wealth of love could not be given over to a woman? How could I ever have tried to withhold that kind of relationship from you?”

“Because you thought that no woman would ever see me in that light. That no woman in her right mind could ever love me for myself.”

“Yes that is true, but why Vincent? Why? Why could I not see that if we could love you unconditionally, trust you unconditionally, that a woman could not love you also?”

“Because Father a woman’s love would require more of me. You could not envisage any woman, especially one as beautiful as Catherine, wanting to have a relationship with me, and so you strove to protect my heart from breaking by finding that out for myself.”

“Nonetheless Lisa taught you more than I ever did?” Father’s kindly eyes watched his son.

“Yes. I have never known such pain. Or perhaps I should say I had never known such pain. I have felt it since and stronger. I am feeling it now.”

“Because of Catherine?”

“Yes because of Catherine.”

“But don’t you see Vincent, that needn’t be the case. If you could only accept that it is all right to love, that you are privileged to give love to a woman, any woman, then the pain will be eased. It will disappear even.”

“It will take a lot to change the feelings of a lifetime.”

“It may. That depends largely on how much you want to change things. On how much courage you have to see it through. Vincent, I mentioned your role in Catherine’s life. Let me ask you something do you ever have dreams, that is day dreams wherein you are everything to Catherine that you would wish to be?"

With eyes lighting up Vincent replied, “Oh yes Father, all the time.”

Father smiled well that was a step in the right direction maybe this would be easier than he had first surmised.

“But Father we are forgetting one very important factor.”


“Yes. Him.”

“The other?”


“I’m beginning to wonder if he too is a fallacy. I think we have placed too grave an importance on his ability to be a separate entity within you. Actually one that should be called your mean streak. We all have them Vincent. We all have a mean streak, but it is not necessarily a split personality, a separate being that can take us over when things get rough.
It is difficult I know, because outwardly you resemble a creature, but you no more resemble something different than any one of us who have two varying parents of the same calibre.”

“I know what you are driving at Father, but does not a cross between species identify with each as the mood takes it?”

“Perhaps, but does not a Zebdonk eat grass, gallop and breed just like its parents?”

“A Zebdonk Father?” Vincent grinned, for the life of him, he had never heard of that one before.

Father grinned too, “Yes a Zebdonk, half zebra half donkey. Or a donkey with stripes if you like. There is a zoo in England where these animals are breeding. I’ve seen photographs of them.”

“So what are you saying Father?”

“That just because you resemble one or either of your parents, doesn’t necessarily mean you will favour either to the extreme. Obviously there will be times when you will feel closer to one than the other, but we don’t have to be a carbon copy of our parents. Especially one such as you who never knew your maternal family.”

“Nevertheless we are not talking with a view to what might be, we are talking with a view to fact. You have seen me Father, you know what I am capable of, and fallacy or not, even that word is derived from a solid foundation of existence.”

“Yes I know Vincent. The Thalacine did exist, and so did the Dodo, but we can use the word fallacy because sighting of the creature was so rare. The last one was shot in Tasmania around forty years ago, or so people think. Whether or not there are any remaining is a closely guarded secret. Some people get the Tasmanian Thalacine mixed up with the Tasmanian Devil, two very different creatures entirely. Now look what you have done, I have gone off of the subject completely.”

Vincent grinned, “An interesting topic of conversation though don’t you think? It at least appeals to me far more than the previous one.”

Father exasperated, “That may as be, but we won’t solve your future by talking about Tasmanian Thalacines.”

“Definitely not Father, I resemble more of the Tasmanian Devil don’t you think?” Vincent’s eyes sparkled.

“I’m happy to note that you find this conversation humorous Vincent, but let’s see if you are so keen to pursue the original subject.”

“I would like to drop that one Father. We both know that it is little use pretending. I am two separate beings. Other creatures may breed according to their kind, as with the donkey and the zebra, but it would be very rare, for…say…a tiger to breed with a…a…goat for example, not only rare but highly improbable. To make that kind of cross work they would have need of human intervention. And so we come full circle. We come back to me.”

“Yes, yes Vincent. I know what you are driving at. But it doesn’t escape the fact that being something and knowing that you are doesn’t necessarily mean that you have no rights. At least it doesn’t prevent you from having the rights bestowed upon all life, whether you are a crossbreed, or a mutant or the result of an experimental warped mind. You should still have rights, and those rights have been denied you. That is what I am trying to say Vincent. I have denied you those basic rights. On the one hand I have taken you as human and ignored the other side to a greater degree as possible. Yet on the other hand I have contradicted myself while I put more emphasis on the non- human side and made you believe that simple human rights were not meant for one such as you. Do you see what I am trying to say?” Father rubbed a hand over his weary brow.

“Yes Father I do know what you are driving at. I have known all along. The fact is its not going to be easy to stop believing that you were right in everything that you said. I have never, for one moment, thought that you could be wrong. I too have believed wholeheartedly in what you have said. And I know those things were said in love and kindness. You didn’t set out to deliberately prevent me from having the things most people take for granted. Neither you nor I ever thought that someone like Catherine would come along and offer me unconditional love to such a depth as she has. You were only trying to protect me from disappointment and heartache. Especially after Lisa.” Vincent paused remembering the sorrow of that time. “I knew then that such things were not for me. But with Lisa I began to imagine that maybe there was hope after all. After Lisa I told myself I must never be such a fool again.”

“And then came Catherine.” Father’s eyes were misty with tears.

“Yes. And then came Catherine.”

“Which leads us back to square one, Vincent. What if things were possible between you and Catherine? What if there was a future for the two of you?”

“Be it that there were Father, I would be the happiest man alive, but even if it were not for our obvious differences there is still Catherine’s life above to consider. I cannot live above, and I am loath to expect her to give up the sunshine to live down here with me, no matter what she may say to the contrary.”

“Catherine loves you Vincent. You should let the final decision be hers. And she needn’t be contained down here. She could come and go. Others do.”

A deep sigh was expelled from Vincent before he replied. “I don’t know Father. We seem to have reached a stage in our relationship where neither of us can go back or forth. It’s breaking us Father. Neither of us can live without the other, but neither can either of us live with the other. And then of course there are other things. Things where my knowledge is limited.”

Father tried not to smile. He hid his mouth behind one hand, but his eyes sparkled nonetheless, “Oh yes of course. The things that follow kisses.”

Vincent felt heat rising to his face, and was grateful that his complexion hid his blushes. Something he had been grateful for many times in the past. And something he would come to be grateful for again, in the not too distant future.

“I think what you need, my boy is some education.” Father leaned over to pat his son’s folded hands lying upon the table.

Vincent was loath to ask, but did so anyway, “Education Father? What sort of education?”

“The sort that most young boys would have covered in their teens. The thing is where do we start?”

Vincent wasn’t certain he liked the sound of this. A fleeting memory dashed through his mind of tunnel boys grouped together sniggering over a magazine that they seemed thoroughly absorbed in. The sort of magazine that would get you hung if Father were to find out. Father might be shifting his ideals a bit but even Vincent couldn’t imagine that kind of reading material being delivered below from now on.

“Leave it with me Vincent. I’ll think of something.”

“Is there anything I could do in the meantime?” Vincent asked for the hell of it not really expecting a decent answer. He was in for a surprise.

“Actually…” Father paused, “Yes actually I think there is.” Vincent waited while his father worded his answer carefully. “Yes Vincent, what you could do is get yourself interested in what people do. Not just around here, but when you go above. Surely you have encountered lovers in the park on your jaunts above?”

“You want me to become a peeping tom Father? Really!” Again Vincent tried to play down his father’s idea. This was becoming more embarrassing by the second.

“In effect yes. I think it would be good for you. Don’t let yourself be seen of course. But certainly take more notice. See what others do, see how courting is done. For the life of me I can’t see what harm watching others will do. If you are discreet and quiet, there will be no need for anyone to know you are there.”

Vincent couldn’t believe his ears. If he didn’t know better he’d conclude his father had been drinking. Well he would humour him, but never would he do anything like he was suggesting. Never!

“Well my stomach tells me its way passed refreshment time Vincent, so if you would accompany to the kitchen, we can continue this conversation over lunch if you like?”

“I’ll accompany you Father, but let’s keep this topic between ourselves shall we?” The thought of keeping the topic up among a crowded kitchen didn’t appeal to Vincent right now. In fact he doubted that there was ever going to be a time when it would appeal to him at all!

*** *** ***

Chapter Four

Looking out over the park Catherine sighed wistfully. It had been almost the best part of a week since she had last seen Vincent. In that time she had spent many hours in a similar pose from the vantage of her balcony just dreaming and wishing. At night willing him to come to her, during the day dreaming that he had.

This evening would be no different, Catherine could feel that with a certainty through and through but only now did it enter her mind that he may never come again. A rising panic filled her – life without Vincent! Oh no, oh please no!

Being together so long now he was a part of her. More of a part than any other person she had ever known. He was her missing self, the part she had searched for all of her life. He complimented her – he was the heart of her soul – there was no way that she could live without him.

If only he could be made to believe this. That he was fighting against the tide in trying to force her into another avenue, another road on the pathway to life. Vincent was so sure that he had interrupted her destiny and through it had misguided her. No matter what they had come to mean to one another, no matter how good the exchange had been for the both of them, Vincent was convinced that his presence in her life prevented Catherine from achieving the goals that she had been destined for before they had met.

On the other hand to Catherine Vincent held the key to everything for which she had searched. He had unlocked the way to the secret person of the heart. Catherine knew now who she was, what she was doing upon this earth, how her future was mapped out. And it had nothing to do with courtrooms and criminals, or going to the office every day. Since she had come through the fog Catherine had seen her future so clearly that it amazed her that she had been blinded to it for so long. Her future was set before her in stone. Catherine exhaled a puff of humour. Yes certainly her future was set in stone. Set in the stone of the tunnel world, below the city streets, far from the maddening crowd. Close to the sanctuary of people that cared for one another - close to the man that she loved.

A shiver passed through her and Catherine frowned. Like someone had walked over her grave, that was the expression to give the goose bumps covering her skin. If she was so certain that her future lay with Vincent why then did she shudder so?
She shrugged, maybe some of Vincent’s anxiety had rubbed off on her. Maybe in her time of musings he had encountered her feelings and had tried to thwart them. He’d successfully done so many times before, but it did not leave Catherine feeling any different. She loved him, deeply like a lover, deeply as a wife.

That thought shook her. Eyes wide Catherine gasped. She had never associated herself as his mate in that way. Yet now that the thought was focused Catherine could see the truth behind it. She did want to be his wife, did want to spend the rest of her life at his side.
Still it came as a surprise to envisage the fact that her heart yearned to have his babies too. How shocked Vincent would be if he knew that! Catherine laughed out loud. She felt free, joyous and hugged herself tightly. Yes she could quite imagine life with Vincent as her husband and the father of her many children. She could indeed. And with that happy thought in mind Catherine came away from the balcony turning to enter her apartment and closing the doors behind her. Wistfully she sat down at a chair by the table her hands folded in front of her upon the polished wood with a soft smile playing around her mouth. Her eyes were bright with happiness as she realised that nothing Vincent could say or do would thwart the purpose of their two lives. They had come together, they had been lost and were now found and nothing beneath or above heaven could ever destroy what the future held for them.

‘I just have to remember that’, Catherine told herself forcibly. ‘Yes, I just have to remember that.

*** *** ***

One of the worst things about excellent hearing was the fact that one could be a party to things that would generally constitute eavesdropping of the worst kind. It had been one of the binds of his nightly jaunts through the park for as long as Vincent could remember. Being farsighted was bad enough, but catching a glimpse of something was easier for one could so easily advert one’s gaze, but with hearing it wasn’t quite that simple.
It had stood him in good stead true - there had been many people grateful for his excellent hearing, many innocent people whom would have become another statistic in the rape or murder columns. And there had been many people whose final vision had been blurred by snarling fangs and terrifying roars before their life had ebbed away from them. Vincent tried not to think of those ones. He took no joy in the death of the wicked. It was just a necessity, ridding the earth of its scum. But even scum had mothers, even scum was somebody’s child and when one thought about it like that it hurt, it truly hurt.

Excellent hearing was good when someone was in trouble, when a moan or a struggle sent Vincent racing in the direction of the sound to someone’s rescue. It was good then, beneficial, Vincent couldn’t fault it. But it was those other times, those all too often other times when he had had to cover his ears in order not to hear the things being said and the things being done…by people that loved one another.

And it would be so hard so very, very hard to alter the pattern of a lifetime and allow himself to stand and take note of those very things that in the past he had considered encroaching upon the rights of others.

Stealthily he walked now through the shadows, his ears acute to the sounds around him. It was incredibly quiet in the park tonight, yet even so his ears picked out sounds that probably only another of his kind, if there were any, could hear.

A rustle several hundred yards away turned his head. He listened avidly poised and waiting to see what might develop from the sound. He trembled slightly from his intentions, things he was about to do that ran contrary to his belief. The rustle sounded again slightly louder this time and there was the murmur of voices. Hushed undertones of love and affection. Heat fused Vincent’s cheeks, and he was physically aware of lifting one foot and then the other to move toward the sound.

His heart hammering Vincent moved with the shadows and stopped only when he felt his heart could take no more.
How could he do this?
How could he go along with Father’s idea and spy on people like this? It was unlawful.
Still something goaded him on. He knew not what to do to further his relationship with Catherine. He had to keep that fact in sight.
Everything he did from now on everything he saw and heard had to be done with that in mind. There were reasons he had his reasons for spying on people as embarrassed as it made him feel.
He only hoped they would not notice him or become aware of him. He would die of shame if they did.

Standing half turned aside from the couple standing beneath the canopy of a willow Vincent listened. It was difficult to see them through the leafy cascade. He didn’t mind that. One thing at a time, he told himself. His breath was shallow, stunted, he hardly dared to inhale or exhale for fear of being heard.

His ears were tuned to the spot, his body trembled his and skin crawled for what he was subjecting himself to. Only the dream of his future with Catherine kept him rooted to the spot.

‘Darling I’ve missed you so much…I couldn’t get away…”

Kisses then. Vincent heard them and knew the sound for what it was even though he was so new to the act of passionate kissing. His body shook, his mind conjuring up images of Catherine in his arms, her lips warm and silky beneath his. He willed himself not to groan but he could not stop the fire spreading to his loins. Heated and pulsating his body strained, yearned towards leaving his place and going to one of two other places – either sinking himself into the iciest of the subterranean pools, or…or….sinking himself into the warmth that was Catherine.
A shudder ran through his length, up his spine to tingle at the back of his neck, and amid the muffled moans of the couple before him Vincent remembered Catherine’s fingers tangled there at the nape gently caressing his sensitised skin.

How on earth was he going to get through this if just the sound of kissing stirred him so?

“I want you.”

Vincent recoiled at the words. He needed to shut them out. Needed to see rather than hear. Hearing was too much, brought forth too many memories - stirred him in a way that pained him in every corner of his being.

Leaving his place Vincent skirted the area keeping ever vigilant and ever mindful of silence. In very few seconds he had come upon the other side of the couple, here upwind and noticed to his dismay and his rapidly beating heart that here he had a better view of them.

Liquid heat fused his body as his eyes took in what they were doing. Still kissing the woman had her back against the trunk of the tree, her partner leaning heavily against her, his hand working its way up her leg beneath her skirt.

Sight went beyond hearing. Vincent stood transfixed with eyes glued upon the couple, unwilling and unable to leave, to turn aside to move away. His mouth dropped open and he panted softly as the man’s hand reached to the waistband of his partner’s panties and tugged them gently down. A soft sigh escaped the woman as his other hand replaced the first and Vincent watched her open her legs enough to grant him entry. She writhed then pulling her lips away from his mouth and moaning with eyes closed tightly as a look of sheer ecstasy filled her face.

“Is that good baby? Let it all come…give it to me… give it all to me.”

Vincent gulped…he’d seen enough. Enough for now that was. Was that what Catherine had expected him to do after they had kissed? Vincent looked down at his hands. They were gloved but he saw through the fabric knowing of old his claw tipped nails how they could rent and rip out a man’s throat and what they could do to the soft folds of Catherine’s inner flesh.

‘I can’t do it.’ Vincent grunted softly. Tears cascaded down his cheeks and he shook his head ruefully. What had he been thinking of? What had he been doing? He moved well away from the couple leaving them to their love-making. He wanted to see nothing more. Even so what he had already partaken of played over and over in his mind until he thought he would go crazy with it.

*** *** ***

The luminous hands of the clock showed it to be three o’clock in the morning. It was unusual for her to wake so sharply - disorientated but something had disturbed Catherine’s slumber. She rose from the bed and reached into her bedside cabinet for her gun before padding barefoot to the door. With breath held she listened for she knew not what. Whatever sound had awoken her she did not know, could not remember, but something or someone was definitely beyond that door that she did know.
It would be useless asking ‘who is it?’ she’d seen that in the movies. What did it matter who it was when whomsoever it was had no right to be there especially at three in the morning?

Reaching for the doorknob Catherine turned it slowly thankful that it did not squeak as some doors did when she pulled it gently toward her. Holding it ajar with her foot she moulded herself against the adjacent wall and peeked into her lounge. There were all the usual shadows and all the usual rays of light cast by buildings opposite but nothing moved or sounded to indicate that anyone else was there. Nonetheless as ever cautious Catherine moved through the door her arms held outstretched aiming her gun to the right and to the left and to the front in quick succession before walking quietly forward.

She checked everything, the whole apartment but there was nothing. Yet there was, there was. Some sense pricked at her nape telling her that she was not alone. Desperately she sought the Bond ever mindful of Vincent’s privacy and was dismayed and elated at the same moment to know that he was close. Had it been his presence that she had felt? If so why did it arouse such anxiety in her?

For reasons unknown Catherine retained her hold on the gun as she opened the balcony doors and refrained from stepping outside. “Vincent?” She queried softly her heart hammering wildly.

“He is here.” Catherine relaxed at the sound of his voice, elation and joy rushing through her at the same time. Putting the gun on the table Catherine hurried outside to him.

“Don’t Catherine.” His words caused her to hesitate and her eyes grew fearful as her heart hammered painfully.

“D..d..don’t?” She whispered warily.

“It is not the man Vincent that visits you this night.” The gruff words were softly spoken almost inaudible “You would be wise to keep hold of the gun.”

Catherine winced. She could say nothing but ‘why?’ Before finding the ability to say more, “why do you come here? Did Vincent bring you?”

“Yes and no.”

Catherine could see him now. His back was to her, and he leaned heavily upon the balcony wall. In her minds eye she could see his white knuckled pose as he fought his other self whomever he was. Each always fought the other - never in harmony never with single-minded accord.

“What is that supposed to mean?” Catherine did not touch the gun again. It would be unthinkable to believe she could harm the other without harming the man that she loved.

There was silence…yet in the silence Catherine knew the answer for simply there was no answer to that particular question.

“Would you prefer it if I went inside and locked the door?” Catherine asked somewhat timidly. She felt annoyed that her voice had trembled ever so slightly. It would be useless hoping that he had not noticed the tremor.

“Only if you want to do.” Came his husky response.

“No. I don’t want to do. You are as welcome here as Vincent is. Would you like to come inside?”

“NO!” Uttered on a growl Catherine jumped, it was so unexpected. She wished she knew what to do.

“What is it that you want?” She asked quietly.

Oh…the other threw back his head expelling a long desperate sigh…what is it that he wanted? He wanted her…did she not know that? Did she not realise why he had brought the man to her home in the middle of the night? Did the man not realise how affected the other would be after given freedom to see and freedom to hear the actions of others? Did he really believe that he would be so unaffected? Catherine knew not the half of it…but what he wanted? He wanted…her!

Swinging around the other grasped her upper arms in each of his hands not even noticing the space crossed between them. His eyes were gold and feral even in the shadow of his face and caused Catherine to cry out, momentarily aroused to stunned surprise.

Before she could utter another sound his mouth was on hers feasting of her honeyed lips his tongue whipping harder and faster in and out of her mouth. Despite herself Catherine moaned, his claws were biting and harsh and he was not of himself but this was Vincent through and through, this was Vincent masterful and powerful the way she had so often dreamed him to be following through on his needs and desires.

The wall bore all her weight as he imprisoned her against it, and Catherine became aware of the pressure being released on one of her arms the very moment that she felt his hand upon her thigh. She gasped as his intent became plain and a joyful bounty seized her.

His fingers walked the white trail of her thighs higher and higher…and her breathing pitched and escalated simultaneously with every inch he travelled towards her welcoming heat.

Without thought or feeling Catherine moaned as he touched her there, the mere rub of his thumb upon her sensitised flesh beating a rhythm of desire through her veins. He pressed deeper stimulating her into throes of passion taking her higher and higher than she had ever risen before. His kisses trailed along her throat, before tucking away beneath her satin gown to lave liquid fire upon the upper swell of her breasts.
Immobile Catherine could only stand and bare it. Bare it was the only word to describe the unadulterated luscious desire that throbbed through every vein in her body. Every fibre screamed his name and wanted to curl itself around him and never let him go. Yet at the back of her mind a tiny voice spoiled the illusion, ‘this isn’t Vincent…he would be appalled if he knew…he might be too ashamed to ever return.’ Yet all the while another voice argued ‘yes but Vincent wants this…he just can’t release it any other way - leave him be you foolish girl…let him continue… as he has always dreamed…as you have always dreamed…’

Another gasp erupted from Catherine unwillingly then as his fingers reached out while his thumb remained in place to drag down the panties that he had imagined to be there. For a few moments he was at odds, his mind registering the fact that she wore no panties at the same startling moment as realising that his thumb lay directly upon her heated flesh and not through the fibres of under garments. The shock was all that was needed to bring the man back to his senses and he recoiled from Catherine’s arms swinging his cloak around him like some giant condor seeking refuge beneath his wings.

“I’m sorry.” He husked his voice painfully aware of his actions of moments ago. “Forgive me.” And he was gone out of her sight as though he had never been.

Catherine stood rooted to the spot. What appeared to be was not. He may appear to never have been but her singing flesh told another story. Whomsoever he may have been at the time, only the man, her Vincent would apologise. And that told her the best thing of all, he may not have been a willing party to all that had occurred but he had been a literal one and as a literal one he would remember. And when he had remembered and had the time to recollect his actions he would hunger for more. And that to Catherine was the best thing of all. She smiled joyfully ecstatic ‘yes most certainly that would be the best thing of all’.

*** *** ***

Chapter Five

Though he had sunk himself into that cold subterranean pool the moment he reached its side Vincent could still smell her essence on his hands. In fact if he ever removed the scent from his skin he would never erase it from his memory. It was honey and nectar and so very alluring that he wanted more of it desperately.
Yet what was he thinking of?
His face blotched with an embarrassment known only to him by a complexion that hid his pallor from others filled Vincent with shame. Whatever did Catherine think of him now? How ever could he look her in the eye again?

Even as he asked the questions he answered them… She had loved it, accepted it, had gone with the flow even though…even though…he was the other…even though his claws had bit into her skin, even though he had ruthlessly pushed her against the wall and even though he had…. Oh dear God how had he even had the courage to have placed his fingers…there?
He could still feel beneath his finger tips the shuddering of her body as their flesh had made contact…could still hear the moan that had erupted from her lips…just like…just like…that other woman in the park… earlier. And whichever way Vincent looked at it he could not escape the fact that Catherine treated so ruthlessly and that woman treated so tenderly had reacted of the same accord. Like they were one, the feelings and desire expressed to a man’s touch had been the same. Yet he had come to the aid of women being raped, had seen them fight with tooth and nail to be free of their attacker. Even when their assailant had pinned them down even when he had his hands in the same area the women had not moaned in ecstasy then so what was the difference?

Head in hands Vincent bowed face to the water willing the ice cold to surround and cloak him to a numbness where he did not have to think anymore, where he did not have to seek answers anymore. Yet it appeared to have the opposite effect. Even as the cold light of day brought logic with it so too did the freezing temperatures of the underground world. And the logic was thus… No matter how hard and fast, how ruthless, how loving and tender a partner may be - when you loved that one you accepted it, took it for what it was - an expression of desire - of need and you revelled in its power with open hearted submission.

That’s why Catherine had not recoiled at his attentions - be it he or the other she had welcomed him wholeheartedly. And amid the freezing waters Vincent’s body swelled as a fresh heat filled him and he left the pool reborn… Reborn in the knowledge that Catherine would love him no matter who he was or what he was…she would love him unconditionally…and the acceptance of that fact filled him with the shining light of happiness.

*** *** ***

Gazing out over the balcony wall the following day took on a new level of meaning to Catherine. Last night Vincent had come that close to loving her…she motioned with finger and thumb…he had almost successfully allowed himself to surrender to his desires. Desires that had become increasingly apparent over the past couple of weeks at an amazing pace.

‘I have to go to him’ Catherine whispered. She knew full well that she should be at work in half an hour, but also knew she could never give it the full concentration it deserved. ‘I’d only be a mess all day’ she pondered as she dressed with a flourish and left Joe a message of feigned sickness on his answer machine. And at the time when she should have been stepping into her office Catherine was actually half way to Vincent’s chamber hoping against hope that he would not sense her approach and go running.

*** *** ***

He wanted to do, oh how he wanted to do. Sensing her arrival with breathless anticipation Vincent found it only possible to sit behind his desk, grateful at least that solid oak would at least hide his impassioned state from her eyes if he stayed there.

She rounded the final corner as this thought was leaving his mind and he gasped aloud her name, “Catherine.”

“Vincent.” Now that she was there, before him all reason left her mind. They stared at one another swallowing convulsively unknowing what to do or say next. Despite herself a blush crept up Catherine’s throat fusing her cheeks crimson. She turned aside hiding her face beneath a canopy of golden hair.

“You have nothing for which to feel ashamed.” His voice caused her to look back. She detected sorrow therein.

“Vincent.” She stammered. He waited for her to continue. He waited a long time. Words would not come. Finally he had to stand. His notorious capability for pacing called out to him, screamed at him to move. He walked to her ever mindful to keep himself covered with his cloak. He was much aroused. In fact he had been so all night.

Tenderly he pulled her into his arms “I’m sorry Catherine.” He husked into the silken fronds of her hair. It was all he could find to say until he knew how she felt.

“You don’t have to be sorry Vincent. I could have tried to stop you if I hadn’t of been willing.” Vincent held his breath at her words more so as she continued, “Do you know that what you did has a name?” He could visualise her smile…and smiled in response.

“No.” He was silent for a moment and then went on, “Tell me?”

A chuckle erupted from Catherine as if she had been expecting this, she hugged him tighter, “Its called petting… its something two people do when they are verging on the experience of getting to know one another…better.” She added impishly with suppressed laughter and then huskily “…intimately.”

Vincent sucked in a breath. He blabbered, “I did not…that is… I shouldn’t have…I mean I hadn’t intended…” he paused before asking awkwardly, “Oh Catherine help me out here I don’t know what I am trying to say.”

Catherine smiled as a soft chuckle followed his words and pulled back taking his face in her hands. They looked at one another long and hard, eye contact humorous then serious “I love you Vincent. And I was not offended by what you did. In fact…” she laughed gaily, “I loved it.” Then taking the bull by the horns went on, “So when can we do it again?” Her eyes twinkled mischievously and Vincent was thankful for that as he exhaled a long held breath. His Adams apple jumped convulsively before he could answer, Catherine wanted to press her lips there and kiss it. He couldn’t find the words to string together and spoke his mind bit by torturous bit.

“You….would…consider….allowing…that…between…us?” His eyes were wide with wonder - and hope Catherine was pleased to see.

She hugged him closer and noticed for the first time his arousal. She paused before speaking - collecting her thoughts, choosing her words carefully. Smiling wickedly she had a sudden idea, tit for tat so to speak and she reached out to touch his pulsating length through the thick covering of denim as she spoke. Vincent jumped. He heard not her words – felt only the impact of her hand upon him, the relief, the surge of joy – the shame - the need - the yearning - the hunger that filled him at her touch. He tried to move away but this only caused her to hold him tighter. She was gripping him with the tips of her fingers. The eyes that looked into his were filled with laughter love and desire. Vincent was lost and only her voice returned him to the present.

“Enjoy it Vincent you need this now just as I did last night. If we went no further than just petting we could alleviate a whole lot of the frustration that we have for one another. Other people do it Vincent…please.”

Whether to stay or go or to run and hide forever, Vincent was unsure but right at that moment he knew he would die if he could never feel her holding him again as she was holding him right at that moment. She was right it did relieve part of the frustration though he hungered for more. But it had to be enough. Perhaps with this between them they could be together without literally being together - that is as one - and he couldn’t deny the joy he had felt at bringing her relief the night before.

He nodded unable to find his voice in fact he wondered if she had trapped it in her questing fingers. Perhaps he would never speak again. It would be worth it just to have her touching him so.

Leaning forward Catherine kissed him soundly on the lips and he knew a certain disappointment as her hand left his groin to meet the other behind his neck until her next words filled him with liquid fire. “Can you take me somewhere Vincent? Somewhere private where we will not be disturbed?” Her meaning apparent Vincent shuddered. Yes he could take her somewhere but he didn’t think at that moment he could actually walk toward the place.
Yet Catherine understood. Amazingly she understood. “My poor darling I should have realised how difficult that might be right now. Would we have privacy if we stayed here?”

Wordlessly, still believing he may never speak again, Vincent nodded while untangling her regretfully from his body. Catherine watched him move around the chamber, he seemed to be searching for something. He found an unlit lantern and left the chamber with it only to return seconds later and reach behind a cabinet to pull from it a roll of heavy drape.
It was a curtain, obviously seldom used by the amount of dust that he shook from it. Catherine covered her nose and watched as he hung the curtain over his chamber entrance. Now she understood, she had seen this before when tunnel residents had wanted privacy. The unlit lantern placed twenty yards from the entrance was a warning that the chamber occupants did not want to be disturbed.

With suppressed excitement Catherine shivered. She wondered if she should move to his bed or something, but dismissed that idea the moment it formed as being too presumptuous. She might have in mind that petting would take them on to a deeper fulfilment but Vincent wouldn’t necessarily follow through on that thought. She would have to lead him slowly. At this thought she turned to him feeling his eyes upon her. A yard apart they faced one another breathing heavily.

‘This was it then.’ One simultaneous thought. They each stepped forward meeting in the middle with arms reaching around each other to hug their bodies close. Lips met lips and moan followed moan as Vincent pulled Catherine down with him onto his bed.

*** *** ***

Chapter Six

Jamie despaired that Mouse would ever notice her as a young man should notice a woman. She didn’t even know why she thought of him that way. He was childish but so very warm and affectionate - childlike again she presumed. He had a way about him that made you just want to cuddle him. And with that way he was good looking. Whatever - who could know why some people set the pulses racing when other’s did not? Jamie only knew that when she looked at Mouse she dreamed of impossible things simply because those impossible things never occurred to Mouse – ever.

Speaking to Brook about it one afternoon the other girl was sympathetic and tried very hard to seek a way to cheer her friend. “I guess the only way you’re gonna make him notice that women rule the world is to bring him face to face with the fact.” Brook laughed out loud by the expression on Jamie’s face. She was perplexed.

“He’s lived around women long enough to know he couldn’t get by without them…well I guess he could actually but life wouldn’t be quite so comfortable without female intervention.” Jamie pondered, “What was you thinking of if anything different?”

“Well its true like you say he should have noticed the benefits women bring to his life, but on the other hand its also true that he can do without us. William cooks his meals and all Mouse is interested in is being able to find and make things. It’s a difficult if not near impossible task to make him believe that he needs anything other than those things. Save perhaps someone to teach those things to, like a son maybe.” Brook winked in Jamie’s direction causing her to blush and stammer, “He’ll have to notice women first before he can get a son of his own, besides he’ll probably bypass that and teach one of the tunnel children. Come to that he seldom has the time to teach the tunnel children anything. The closest one can get to being with Mouse is when he has completed one of his gizmos and is proudly showing it off. I don’t know Brook, maybe I’m just flogging a dead horse.” Jamie sighed regretfully.

“Perhaps you should slip him one of those girlie magazines among the pile of his ‘How To’ magazines.” Brook laughed heartily, “Oh I made a funny…put it among his ‘How To’ books… how to notice a woman…now that could be interesting…wouldn’t mind being a fly on the wall when he finds that staring at him!”

“Brook!” Jamie exclaimed in stunned surprise then realised her friend had a point, “Do you think its possible?”

“What making him look at one?”

“No putting one there to start with?”

The two girls laughed heartily imagining this, “Where would we get one? I couldn’t go and buy one, I’d be too ashamed!” Jamie cried.

“Me too! I don’t know they aren’t the sort of books that get trashed. Or if they do someone must always pick them up and take them home again. I don’t know of anyone in the tunnels that reads them.”

“And it’s not the sort of thing we could ask of Father is it?” They burst into more laughter at the thought.

“Do you think it would work?” Jamie asked sombre for the moment.

“Giving it to Mouse?”


“I’m not sure. Its possible Mouse has come across them on his travels, he simply wouldn’t be interested unless it’s got something to do with gizmos.” Brook answered sadly, “You’re right it’ll probably be like flogging a dead horse.”

“Oh but there must be something I can do!” Jamie wailed, “Short of dragging him up against a wall and beating hell out of him.”

“Gee he’d really notice you then.” Brook giggled.

“That’s what I mean.” Jamie grinned. “I can’t think of anything else, besides your idea of the magazine has been the first bright idea to come my way in ages. I can’t think of anything better and Mouse does love reading.”

“Perhaps you could write him a love letter?” Brook suggested.

“I thought of that. But I don’t want to lay bare my heart until he knows I actually exist, except for my hands…hold this Jamie, hold that Jamie…I swear he hasn’t noticed that my hands are joined to arms and torso, legs, body a head or even a brain!”

“Not to mention a pretty face.” Brook added.

“Exactly!” Jamie drew a deep breath and let it go with a deep sigh, “I don’t know what to do.”

“Do you love him?”

“I guess so. But what is love if it’s not returned? How can I know for sure when we have never spoken words of endearment let alone kissed?”

“I guess Mouse loves you in his own way. Its probably difficult for him – he may have never been shown love as a child. Perhaps he doesn’t know how to love. You might have to make the first move Jamie.”

Jamie nodded, “I guess so, but that brings me full circle. Where on earth do I start?”

*** *** ***

Catherine hugged herself tightly remembering the last few days as she stood on her terrace one morning overlooking the park. To think that just five short days ago Vincent and she had…well okay so they hadn’t moved ahead as she had hoped, but they had certainly made one very gigantic leap forward in their relationship and that was all that matter. The rest would follow in time…just as long as it wasn’t too much time.

Vincent had told her of Father’s encouragement and Catherine could understand what had been behind Vincent’s sudden change toward her. Even if he had come to her as that ‘other’ in the first instance, on the second and the following occasions he had definitely been himself!

Still Catherine balked at his education - being a peeping tom was one thing, but it could be dangerous. People didn’t take too kindly to that sort of thing. Get to know that someone was observing others and Vincent could well find himself under arrest and the implications of that was a thought too difficult to bare.

Catherine could see the perfect answer of course, but being subtle along with it didn’t quite go. She knew that if Vincent could watch some movies, some romantic movies and even better some ‘hot’ movies he would soon be educated enough to practice with her but how could she coax him into watching such a thing, especially while she sat alongside him?

The only other idea was reading material but did they have such things below? Catherine had never bought a girlie magazine in her life and no matter what she wasn’t about to start now. Besides even if she did, wouldn’t the cover alone make Vincent fling it away the moment he set eyes upon it?

So then if she was to do this, to educate him in this way he had either to watch the movie or read the literature or look at the pictures. But how on earth could she tackle it subtly enough so as not to make it obvious?

It needed a great deal of thinking about and Catherine made herself a cup of coffee, and sat with pen and paper at her table determined to work out a way to accomplish her task with impish enthusiasm.

*** *** ***

Lying back on his bed eyes staring up at the ceiling Vincent let himself dwell on the last few days with Catherine. How could she touch him like that? How had she found it within herself to enjoy his body? It had been a marvel to him and would always be so that she had caressed his body with such ardour and such desire to do more than just touch. He had sensed it within her, this driving need to be one with him and he had wanted to comply oh how so, but he did not know the mechanisms of the way nor did he know if what he presumed to be the correct way would actually be welcomed.

He’d seen animals mating, dogs especially…and deep within Vincent felt that to be the correct way of things but it seemed too animalistic to expect the woman he loved to agree to such a position, besides he wanted to see into her eyes when they finally made love.

Vincent shuddered his heated body hardening instantly at the thought…what on earth was he going to do? Petting had relieved the frustration true but it had also been replaced by a driving - burning need for more, a hunger that would never be satisfied until they made love completely and utterly and even then he doubted that the fire would ever be put out entirely. He jumped from his bed and began his notorious pacing pummelling his heated flesh crudely not quite knowing what he hoped to achieve. He ached for the touch of her hands upon him bringing him relief while knowing all too clearly the futility of such an act, an act that would leave him hungry for more. How could he have ever of supposed that a deeper more intimate relationship with Catherine would bring him relief? It had in fact only worsened the problem.
He felt as though he was in a trap going around and around in ever increasing circles and never knowing the way out. He thought his head might burst trying to know what to do next, which way to move to bring comfort and peace to the desperate driving need of his body.

Just thinking about Catherine now took on new meaning a new realm with which to sink himself. When he thought of her his mind no longer conjured up her face, her laughing smiling eyes but rather her sleek silky thighs leading to the small expanse of hair that drew him like a bee to nectar with its fragrance of desire. Desire for him, only for him! Vincent growled, hurling the nearest item – a book – at the far wall. It did not make him feel any better but it did open his eyes to his plight. This was no good, this was absolutely no good, he had to know more, had to know how, had to know what move he should make next…had to had to had to…
He ran from the chamber flinging his cloak from a chair to around his shoulders in passing and headed above for the park…

*** *** ***

Another evening – and the wisps of an old day fading in the western sky saw Catherine leaning over her balcony watching the ant like figures scurrying home in the streets below.
Vincent was due in an hour’s time, yet never had an hour seemed so long. She wondered what he might be doing at that precise moment and decided that she knew exactly what he would be doing. Pacing his chamber in anxiety for the hour to pass, or at least for a good deal of it until he could use up the rest by journeying toward her. There was a truth between them now that could not be denied. A truth Vincent was finding it harder and harder to ignore.

If he had thought that an intimate relationship with her however lame would stop his feelings of need then he was quickly learning that not to be so. In fact every little spark that flew from the merest of kisses set fire to a forest that could only be extinguished by complete satisfaction or it would soon consume him.

Each night they ventured a little further, but Vincent’s gallantry always stopped him in the nick of time. Catherine found this aspect of their loving both cute and frustrating and ever predictable. She was finding that she couldn’t completely let herself go to his tender ministrations for dread of his stopping suddenly and leaving her on a high.
She longed to let go. To show him how much she needed him completely and utterly all the way.

Last evening they had come closer than ever before, and Vincent had left in quite a hurry. Running away as per usual rather than face the inevitable. He had promised on his arrival that he would come to see her the following evening and Catherine knew he would come as certainly as the sun would rise the following morning. In fact these last few days she had probably seen more of Vincent than his family had…she chuckled…and that was probably truer than they knew.

Sudden images filled her mind. She shuddered unable to find the strength to relinquish the hold of her memories even if she had wanted to do. They stirred her true, fuelled her blood to dizzying heights but still she conjured them up willingly.

Vincent naked. Vincent gloriously, wonderfully naked upon her bed. In her bed, his face a picture of innocence, trust and wonderment to know that she desired him so. His body so new to her, so overwhelmingly beautiful that it made her cry was every bit as she had imagined during the past three years and more. How did he ever imagine that he was ugly? How could he ever believe he was a beast? He was beauty personified, gorgeous, glorious, a hunk from head to toe and she would know. She had lovingly explored every inch with slow and deliberate detail. And how she ached to join his body to hers, how she dreamed of those firm buttocks beneath the palms of her hands dancing to the melody of making love with him.

Didn’t he know that it had to be?

Could they really get so close and not get burned?

The answer to that? No they couldn’t for they had already been burned, over and over and over again.

*** *** ***

Vincent’s impeccable timing was another of his good points and at exactly twenty to seven he was reaching the park entrance when he heard the sound of the door opening and bobbed out of sight. Immediately the sound of voices he recognised brought him out of the shadows and he greeted the two women joyfully.

“Jamie! Brook! Have you had an enjoyable day above?”

The two girls looked at one another impishly before bursting into laughter. “You could say that Vincent.” Jamie replied. P> “It was certainly very productive.” Brook added with a giggle.

Vincent’s brows rose and his lips twitched, “What have you two been up to?” He asked, “Nothing you shouldn’t I hope.”

“Nothing for you to worry about.” Jamie quipped with laughter in her tone.

“And Father?” queried Vincent.

Jamie laughed out loud followed by her friend and confidante “Maybe it would worry Father, but its okay Vincent Father is the least of my worries.”

Quirking one eyebrow, Vincent responded, “Oh?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact…” Jamie kicked around the dust a little wondering how much she should disclose. Though they had obtained what they had set out to find, she was still troubled by her intentions. “Vincent can I ask you something?”

“You know you can ask me anything Jamie.” He replied softly his eyes warm and friendly encouraging her to talk.

“Do you think that Mouse will ever be the sort of man who would settle down one day?”

The question took him by surprise, not only that it was something he had never considered. Mouse was and always would be an overgrown child. All he ever needed was gizmos and materials to make more gizmos. Vincent’s answer when it came was factual. “I don’t think so Jamie. I can never imagine Mouse being responsible about anything let alone serious. Why do you ask?”

Jamie blushed as Brook giggled and Vincent instantly got the picture. “You don’t mean…”

Jamie nodded hardly daring to look at him. Her feet were awfully interesting right now.

Tactfully as he could Vincent responded, “You deserve better than Mouse Jamie. I love Mouse we all do, but I can never visualise Mouse with anyone but that racoon. Arthur is probably the only creature on this earth that might know Mouse better than anyone, and that’s probably the way Mouse likes it. I know the two of you are inseparable, but that’s probably due to the fact that Mouse sees you as someone great for finding things with. You have to face facts Jamie and remember that somewhere out in the big wide world is really the man for you.”

Vincent hated saying that to her but to his relief Jamie nodded and exhaled a huge sigh. “Thank you Vincent. Guess you just told me outright what my heart has been hinting at for too long. I love Mouse true, but I guess its ‘cos I’m growing up and looking for husband material that I can’t see further than Mouse right now.”

“Father should allow you out more. I understand young women like you above are going to night clubs and discos, where they meet young men, but on the other hand where you live, your life down here with us, makes meeting someone from above rather difficult. Your loyalties will be torn and we might lose you to the world.”

“Then what should we do Vincent? The tunnels are hardly the tunnels of love are they? Who is there to meet down here? We only have one celebration a year when the helpers gather with us, its awful having to wait till then only to find that there was no one suitable and have wait upon another year.”

Vincent imagined that was so. “Perhaps you should get out more by offering to bring down the supplies from our helpers. These people have families, some of them I know have some handsome young sons, this might be a way for you to meet someone who will share your secret and keep it knowing how we all depend on that. Both of you,” he looked to Brook, “are growing into beautiful young women, and the son of a helper would be approved by Father. Not that you need his approval but…”

Jamie grinned knowingly, “I know…but it would help.”

“Yes it would help.” Vincent smiled well remembering how Father had first been toward Catherine.

“Well then can you do us a favour Vincent?” Jamie pulled something from out of her jacket and handed it to him, “Can you take these back above and dump them?”

Vincent took what appeared to be glossy magazines, and glanced at the front cover of one of them. It had a photograph of a flashy car and a pretty woman on it. “What are they?” He asked.

“Oh just some reading material we thought Mouse might find interesting. But it would seem he won’t be needing driving lessons after all.” The two girls burst into laughter, “Thanks Vincent. Just dump them somewhere okay?”

Vincent nodded, then remembering the time and his delay he stuffed them inside his cloak and after bidding them good evening he made his way to Catherine’s apartment.

*** *** ***

Chapter Seven

There was a ring at the door, and Vincent was late. For a moment, for one awful heart stopping moment Catherine’s mind went into overdrive connecting the two and she flung the door wide open. To her relief the doorkeeper rather than a tunnel member stood there but it was a few moments before his words registered.

“Pardon?” Catherine repeated, blushing.

He grinned at her, “Sorry to disturb you Miss Chandler but there is a parcel delivery in the lobby only we can’t ascertain who its for. I know it’s a problem but we are asking every person in this building to come down and look at the parcel and tell us if they know whom the sender is. It should only take a moment have you time?”

Catherine nodded, “Just let me take my keys and put on some shoes.” As she pulled on her flats a quick look out to the terrace confirmed that Vincent still hadn’t arrived. Catherine hurried out of her apartment as fast as she could. The sooner she got this done and returned the better. She wouldn’t want to miss him.

*** *** ***

Moments later even as Catherine had closed the door behind her Vincent arrived. The Bond told him that she had vacated the apartment, but also informed him of her anxiety and hope that she would soon be back. He decided to wait inside the apartment, lifting the latch on the door left unlocked for him.

Settling down at the dining table, Vincent felt the bulk of the magazines that Jamie had given to him and of which he had forgotten in his haste to be punctual. He withdrew them now, lying them flat upon the table in front of him, his intention to discard them in Catherine’s rubbish bin later.

All the way over to the apartment his mind had been in turmoil in fact it had never stopped going around and around ever since he had left the evening before. Ever since he and Catherine had embarked upon the journey of intimacy they had grown nearer and nearer to the act of completion and it terrified him. He knew that it was now only a question of time or circumstance that would force him to make love to her. A lump caught in his throat rendering him breathless and the usual stirring in his loins whenever he thought of this subject began again.

He despaired of it. Was the intimacy between them just a stepping stone to the final act, or could it ever be enough? If only he could sever from his mind the animalistic acts that flew there the moment he thought of making love to Catherine.

He knew how humans made love. He’d seen them now. Not wanting to do so but drawn nonetheless, ever since his curiosity had got the better of him and he had allowed himself to watch lovers in the park, or perhaps on the streets. Always the man would lie upon the woman, her legs wide and wrapped around his hips, or with her forced up against a wall, but either way always front ward never backwards like a dog…or a cat…or a lion! Those ways were reserved only for the animals…were thought of only by the animals…were dreamed of only by HIM!

Vincent groaned wishing that Catherine would hurry, yet hoping that she would delay, torn between the two, knowing only that this night something would happen. It had to do, they needed one another so desperately, and he hoped that if Catherine could accept all his other differences then perhaps she could accept that too. The way inert to him to make love, the only way he could visualise as being right…for him.

Unaware, tears ran down his cheeks and fell onto the table below. He wiped them away and in so doing swiped open a few pages of the top magazine. His eyes widened in disbelief and horror at what he saw before him. Quickly he grabbed the magazine turning it back to its cover. How could this be? He had assumed it was a magazine on motor vehicles. Perhaps ones that showed how to repair engines. Perhaps one that taught a person how to drive, baring in mine Jamie's quip, although he had not been able to make sense of that. How would Mouse drive a car? Why would he want to do? More importantly where would he drive it?

Gingerly Vincent reopened the pages turning them slowly revealing the hidden photographs bit by amazing bit. To his avid gaze a bare foot would appear in the corner as he opened it, then a leg, a firm expanse of thigh, higher to a perfectly formed bottom and then! Vincent gasped, and shut the magazine at once only to open it again even faster. It couldn’t be!

There before him a photograph of a woman bent over a chair her bottom bared to a man close behind her, and the unmistakable view of his penis buried deep inside her…from behind!

Turning the pages faster and faster, similar photographs met his eyes. Men and women in bed lying spoon fashion making love, men on top, women on top, men behind, men and women laying head to foot, their heads in the most incredible places. So it wasn’t his bestial side that wanted Catherine so… It wasn’t the cat in him that desired to take her that way… it was the man in him that wanted to posses the woman he loved and by the look on those faces it would be a very welcome way for her too. Elated Vincent pulled the other magazines toward him flicking through the pages faster and faster avidly drinking in the sight before him. His curiosity was roused to such a degree that he was forced to admit that his other self was in no way responsible for his hunger and from that moment on could never be blamed as wanting something abnormal. This way as lewd as it might look - as it might be, was still acceptable, humanly so. So the cat in him could not be held responsible for wanting to love Catherine that way. In effect the cat in him had died. And Vincent felt gloriously, gloriously human for the first time in his entire life. Still…
Vincent shut the magazine abruptly as he heard a key turn in the apartment door. Catherine was returning! Hastily he snatched the magazines up off the table, and rose to his feet. His first intention of stuffing them in Catherine’s rubbish bin was now quite out of the question.
His eyes darted around the room, searching for a place to stuff the evidence, even as Catherine was pushing open the door to gain entry. There was no where he could put them…no where at all, but he had to get rid of them and NOW!

“Vincent? Where are you going?” Catherine couldn’t believe her eyes, Vincent had appeared to whirl away from her apartment and out of the French doors the moment that she stepped into her home. She hurried after him, eager to stop him from leaving.

Outside on the terrace Vincent’s eyes darted this way and that, he dismissed the idea of stuffing the magazines beneath the soil of a plant holder, besides there was no time. Desperate he sought the only way open to him. He tossed the magazines over the wall, sighing with relief to see them flutter to the street below. Usually he would balk at the idea of throwing trash onto the street, but the alternative would have grieved him more.

“Vincent? What’s wrong?” Catherine asked fearfully.

His heart hammering wildly, Vincent drew in a deep breath in an attempt to steady it before he could face Catherine. Slowly he turned, “Catherine…” he spoke as softly as always, but Catherine could tell that his tone was sharper than usual and edged with embarrassment and shame.

“What is it my love? Are you unwell?” The concern in her eyes almost made him weep.

“No it is nothing. Don’t worry.” He looked at her anew. Her beauty had always dazzled him, but tonight he saw beyond even that. “I love you Catherine, and I have missed you so.”

Her smile lit up the green of her eyes, and she went willingly into his offered embrace, “As I have you, and it’s only been twenty four hours.”

“Less. I was here until the dawn my love don’t you remember?” His voice was teasing.

“How could I have forgotten?” Catherine smiled up at him remembering their night of passion that took them well into the early hours, going as far as they dared or at least as near to fulfilment as Vincent could allow.

“Where were you?” Vincent still needed time to steady himself. And those images blazed through his mind. It shamed him that if the circumstances had been different he would have liked to keep those magazines and studied them more fully in the sanctity of his chamber.

“I was beckoned down to the lobby. Someone sent a parcel to this building, but the label had smudged so badly that the name of the recipient was unreadable. They were asking who knew the person that had sent it to see if they could ascertain who it was to.”

“A bit risky wasn’t it? Anyone could say that they knew the sender?”

“I thought so too at first, but when a person finally stepped forward saying they thought it was for them they had to provide ample proof of knowing the sender. Along with that had to provide a contact number to ask the owner whom they had recently sent a parcel to. I’m pleased it wasn’t me or I’d still be down there keeping you waiting.”

For the first time Vincent uncharacteristically wished that had been so.

“So are you coming inside or what?” Catherine teased standing on tip-toe to bestow a sweet kiss to his lips.

“In a moment. There is something I must say to you Catherine.”

Ominous, Catherine thought, noting his expression was deadly serious.

“Can we sit on the chaise?”

Catherine nodded taking his hand and sitting down with him, daring not to speak, knowing that he needed time to collect his thoughts for whatever it was that he needed to say.

“You know that I love you?” Catherine smiled. Yes she knew. She nodded, her eyes dancing with happiness.

“Catherine these past few weeks have been like a voyage of discovery for me. Your love is beyond anything I could ever comprehend. I am indebted to you from the bottom of my heart for the wondrous joy you have shown to me just by accepting me as I am.”

Her eyes bright Catherine waited for him to continue.

“I didn’t come here to say this tonight Catherine, but something assured me of the possibility as I waited for you. Don’t ask me what, but suddenly I knew that we DO have a future together.” He hesitated mere moments, gazing into her emerald green eyes, “I love you Catherine, and I want to spend the rest of my life waking up at your side. Catherine I am asking you to be my wife and telling you that I am ready to love you as a man should love a woman.”

He gazed at her, his heart racing, frightened to the core when she said nothing. Nothing at all.

Deep in her heart Catherine was absorbing his words, cherishing them for eternity, her heart bursting with love and happiness, her womanhood clutching with wild, ecstatic, joyful desire. He wanted her! At last he wanted her, but not just as a lover but as his…wife!

Overjoyed Catherine stood, throwing her arms around his neck and raining kisses all over his face, “Oh Vincent!” was all she could utter, “Oh Vincent…. Oh Vincent…”

Vincent grinned, “I’ll take that as a yes then shall I?” He murmured happily as her lips devoured his.

She pulled away just enough to answer, “A yes? Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes! Oh Vincent I love you so much!”

*** *** ***

“So what shall I get you as a wedding present then Vincent any ideas?” Jamie smirked a few weeks later as the wedding arrangements were well under way.

The cat was out of the bag!

Tunnel gossip was rare with one exception…Vincent and Catherine. From the moment the marriage was announced wild speculation flew among the residents, and Jamie hit the nail completely on the head the first weekend Catherine had come to stay.

“I don’t know what it was.” Catherine had confessed to Jamie during a visit to the spa, “but one moment we were making headway with the final obstacle still to go and the next all of Vincent’s fears and inhibitions simply melted away. It was almost as if the blinkers had been removed from his eyes.”

After some discussion the blinkers were removed also from Jamie’s and Catherine’s eyes when Jamie revealed her plans for Mouse and Vincent’s carting away of the evidence.

“Just what did those magazines contain?” Catherine had wanted to know, turning bright red when Jamie told her, and even redder when she thought of Vincent seeing them. Still they had certainly done the trick and Catherine owed Jamie a very BIG one!

Now as Jamie awaited Vincent’s answer she decided to prompt him, “How about some ‘nice’ magazines Vincent?”

He glowered at her, “You go too far Jamie.” He hissed.

Jamie laughed, “But not it seems as far as you did after reading them huh?”

With one large hand Vincent made to swipe at her but Jamie ducked, “Now, now Vincent, you know you have me to thank for your future and present happiness. And I really would like to know if there is something appropriate that I could buy you for a wedding present. So got any ideas?”

Catherine’s laughter filled the chamber and both turned to see her enter, “I’ve just seen the perfect present for him Jamie as it happens. Come see. Oh no not you Vincent its to be a surprise.”

Eyes wide with interest Jamie stepped to the corner of the chamber where by candlelight Catherine unfolded a piece of paper she had brought down from a book store above, “Its coming out next week. What do you think?”

Jamie started to laugh, harder and harder, leaving a perplexed Vincent staring at them, brows drawn together his heart giving anything to know what it was they were looking at.

“I think its perfect Oh Catherine…” The two women laughed heartily giving the odd look in Vincent’s direction.

He was stood arms folded looking daggers at them and that only caused them to laugh harder still.

“Think we should put him out of his misery?” Catherine whispered to Jamie indicating her idea. She flattened the piece of paper advertising the new book and lay it down on the top of a cabinet, and then accidentally on purpose left it there. “I won’t be long darling…I just need to speak with Mary about something.” It was true enough even though it could have waited, but Catherine and Jamie were both eager to give Vincent some space.

Of course he noticed that they had left the piece of paper behind.

*** *** ***

Outside in the tunnel Jamie and Catherine whispered together, “How long do you think it’ll take him?” Jamie asked.

Catherine chuckled, “If I know Vincent…seconds.”

“Wonder if we’ll ever know if he’s seen it.” Jamie whispered as a loud roar came from Vincent’s chamber.

“Does that answer your question?” Catherine grinned.

“Guess so.” In peals of laughter the two women hugged one another.

“Come lets go order that book.” Jamie suggested tugging Catherine away.

“You kidding? It’s already on order. I couldn’t resist it…” Catherine laughed harder still, “Let’s take a peek shall we?”

Slowly the two women ventured back to Vincent’s chamber grinning like crazy, their eyes dancing with merriment but filling with apprehension when they found Vincent standing and staring down at the piece of paper they’d left behind his face totally expressionless.

Perhaps she had gone too far, Catherine thought, as Jamie clutched at her hand feeling much the same way.

“Vincent?” Catherine enquired nervously.

He looked up suppressing a grin, but Catherine saw the humour in his eyes and sighed with relief. She smiled, walked toward him and placed her arms around his waist. “I love you Vincent.” She told him sincerely.

Still trying to suppress his laughter, still trying to be serious, Vincent asked, “You wouldn’t really shame me further would you by presenting this book as a wedding present and have me explain why to all our guests would you?” Catherine hadn’t thought of that.

She looked up at his giving him one of her most mischievous smiles.

“Catherine?” “No she wouldn’t do that Vincent.” Jamie intervened. The couple looked toward her, and Catherine pursed her lips holding back her laughter knowing what was about to come.

“That’s good.” Vincent relaxed, only to tense again as Jamie went on, “Because I’m buying it for you instead.”

“Oh no you aren’t!” Vincent growled.

“Do that again…”Catherine hugged him close “I love it when you growl.” Jamie giggled and Vincent was well aware he had met his match with these two. Nevertheless he wasn’t going down without a fight.

“You’d better not Jamie!” Pulling from Catherine’s grasp he edged toward the younger woman.

“Or what?” Jamie challenged. Catherine burst into laughter. Ever since she had moved into Vincent’s world she had seen a new side to him and his family. They were always getting into mischief and always winding one another up for the sheer fun of it.

“Or I’ll eat you!” Vincent darted forward.

Jamie burst into laughter. “Gotta catch me first.” And with that she was gone with Vincent close on her heels.

Catherine doubled with laughter. Vincent wouldn’t really eat Jamie, might tickle her to death though, if he could find her that was!

Catherine chuckled, how she loved being there. This was the family she’d never had – this was the family she had always wished for, and soon she would have the husband that she had dreamed of for so long.

Everything was coming right…she and Vincent were perfect lovers, their first time had been all she had ever dreamed and more, and by the end of the week she would be his wife and they would begin their life together.

Catherine was so happy…so very, very happy, the radiant bride to be. And all because of one thing, all because Father had undone all his errors of years passed and allowed Vincent to be free to do as he pleased, to do as any normal man would do. To let his natural curiosity for things come to pass, to allow his son to explore and examine the way set before him without shame or embarrassment or the belief that he was different and had no right to do so.

A piece of paper fluttered to the floor at Catherine’s feet and she picked it up smiling through a well of unshed tears of sheer joy, “I owe my life to you do you know that?” She asked the words thereon, “I owe my future to you for setting my man free to love.” Taking the advertisement to her lips she kissed it, and then lay it down in her lap. Vincent would have no need of the book it was only the title that held meaning for him, for them…. Catherine traced the words lovingly…”Maybe I should buy a copy for Father though.” Her eyes danced with merriment at the thought.

“Yes maybe you should.” A husky, gravely, silken voice laden with love and desire came from the doorway. Catherine felt her body growing weak in response as she raised her eyes to the man she adored more than life itself.

“Then I think I will.” Grinning, she went to him grateful to be enfolded in his arms - the place she loved to be most in all the world.

And as she moved to him the paper fluttered once again to the floor and settled at their feet. Both looked down at it grinning from ear to ear as they read the title of the advertised book once again.

It was perfect…just perfect… and oh so true…and thankfully because of it the man inside had been set free…because for a certainty…

“Curiosity Killed The Cat.”

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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.