A CABB challenge story ...It all began when something slithered up Catherine's bare leg...
For Pete’s Sake
Catherine awoke to something slowly but steadily moving up her bare leg. For several moments, she thought she had imagined it, and she quickly swirled up into consciousness from the land of nod.*** *** ***
But no, something was there, just wrapped around her ankle, gripping tightly in that place, and something was tickling in spasms about the calf of her leg.
A shudder passed through Catherine that travelled through her torso, down toward her toes in gentle but quick waves, and as the shudder reached her ankle the thing whatever it was released its grip on her.
At that moment Catherine threw back the bedclothes and leapt from the bed, but could see nothing.
She couldn’t have imagined it! It had seemed so real. Catherine examined her leg. Placing her foot onto the bed, she stretched the leg out in front of her, examining every inch in the poor candle-light. Nothing untoward seemed to be there. But as she peered closer, her leg did appear wet in some areas. No not wet exactly but slimy. Slimey! No it couldn’t be. Whatever would have made her leg slimey?
Pondering with her brows drawn tightly together Catherine did not hear anyone approach from behind, and it was only when she heard a short sharp gasp, that she wheeled around to confront Vincent standing in the entrance. In her mind’s eye, and by his discomfort, and the tremble of his hand, Catherine pictured the sight that must have met him as he had come to see what was wrong.
There she would be, skimpy night dress, one leg on the bed, the other on the ground, herself bent right over examining her ankle…Phew…Catherine snorted very unladylike…he must have got an eyeful!
For long moments Vincent seemed incapable of speech, but finally he was able to utter, “Is anything wrong Catherine. I felt your fear.”
“It wasn’t exactly fear Vincent. I thought something was grasped to my leg while I was in bed, and then it felt as if something was creeping up my leg, but I couldn’t find anything…” She had a sudden impish thought and played it for all she was worth, “Just how long have you been there Vincent?”
If Vincent could blush, Catherine would swear that he had just blushed. His pallor definitely went a deeper shade at any rate. “I’ve only just arrived.” He told her indignantly. “You certainly aren’t implying that I…” he choked back words unable to say anymore, surely she didn’t think that he, he would have taken hold of her leg while she slept would she?
Catherine burst into laughter causing Vincent’s lips to twitch with mirth, and the relief on his face was obvious, causing Catherine to laugh harder still. “Well whatever it was, has gone now, but it was the weirdest feeling.”
“Like what?” he asked serious now. He knew how thorough Catherine was she wouldn’t just imagine something, “Could it have been a spider perhaps?”
Catherine shuddered, but shook her head, “No, I would know how that feels, it didn’t tickle exactly, it grasped tight here,” she made to pull up her leg again onto the bed, but stopped herself, knowing that from this new angle it would afford Vincent and even greater view. A smile tugged at her lips, but she fought it back, and bending down to her ankle instead went on, “It was cold, if that’s possible. Silky smooth, and cold…” a shudder swept through her at the memory, and Vincent felt that deep inside himself. “And then I felt something tickle me here.” She touched her calf, “and look it’s slimy in that place.”
Vincent came to her now, pushing her back gently to sit on the bed so that he could place her leg into his lap, and view the area. He didn’t for one moment think she had imagined the incident, but it worried him that something had got into her bed and touched her in that way. And it still worried him just a little that she might believe it had been him.
With his sharp eyes, even in poor light, Vincent could see clearer than Catherine, “Yes, I can see it, does it hurt at all?”
“No. Why do you ask?”
“There are two tiny pinpricks here and here, as if something had a hold of your leg, but hasn’t broken the skin.”
“Where?” Catherine peered closer, and Vincent leaned away to draw back a candle and hold its light over the area.
“There, see it?” He touched the spot.
“Yes. Isn’t it strange, it’s almost like a dual mosquito bite? But that doesn’t account for the grasping feeling.”
Vincent was beginning to get a strange feeling in his stomach he had an idea, but here, in the tunnels? It was impossible.
“You say that the moment you got out of bed whatever it was had gone?”
“Yes. Poof, vanished. Like it never was. You do believe me don’t you Vincent?”
“Yes I believe you, and as soon as you are dressed we will go along and see Father. I’d like him to take a look at your leg Catherine just in case.”
“Just in case Vincent? You have an idea don’t you? Tell me what do you think it was?”
Vincent sighed, “It is only an idea Catherine. But it looks to me like you got out of bed in time to stop yourself being bitten by a snake.”
“A snake!” Catherine stared at him wild eyed, but as she thought of it, it made perfect sense. The gripping feeling, the cold, and the strange sense of the thing against her skin and the tickling that would be its tongue of course, scenting her leg. “Where in the world did a snake come from down here?”
“That’s what I would like to know. Now get dressed and I’ll call back for you.”
“Get dressed! Are you out of your mind? It could be anywhere, anywhere. In my clothes, in my boots…forget it, pass me that robe hung up over there, I’ll put that on, and come as I am.”
“But Catherine, you can’t walk the tunnels in bare feet.”
“Are you going to check my boots then to see that the snake didn’t slither in either one of them?”
Vincent shook his head.
“Me neither. Now come on…” Catherine had put on the warm terry robe he’d passed to her, “Let’s get out of here.”
“I’ll carry you. You can’t walk around here with bare feet.” Before she could protest (as if she would) Vincent had gathered her into his arms, and was walking toward Father’s chamber, yet her closeness did nothing to soften the remembrance of the sight he had seen before his eyes, as he had entered her chamber earlier.
A perfectly round, and exceedingly desirous bottom, completely bare to his gaze!
The memory of that sight just would not go away!
Father was used to Mouse, but today he was growing tired of the youth as he watched him fumble around in the library.
“Mouse, whatever it is you are looking for, just tell me the title, and I can probably lay my hands straight on it.” He told the boy as another pile of books slithered off a shelf into a heap.
“No, its okay.” Mouse replied. “I like looking.”
Father despaired, “I don’t mind you looking Mouse, but be a bit more careful will you, look you are knocking all the books over. What exactly are you looking for anyway?”
“Just looking.” Mouse was like a contortionist, leaning this way and that way, peeping into corners, Father found his behaviour very odd.
Jamie entering the chamber provided a very welcome intrusion, “Arh Jamie, are you looking for Mouse?” Father asked hopefully.
“Yes. Is he here?”
“Up the stairs.” Father beckoned, and whispered as she passed by, “Take him out of here will you. He’s wrecking the place.”
Jamie laughed, then surprised Father by calling, “Mouse…for Pete’s sake come out of there.”
“For Pet…” Father could not believe his ears, “Jamie!” he cried. Not her too, everyone had started using that expression everywhere he went just lately.
“Sorry Father.” Jamie looked apologetic, then climbed the stairs to Mouse’s side. “Come on” she tugged at his arm, then Father distinctly heard her whisper in Mouse’s ear, “For Pete’s sake.” with much emphasis.
Whatever was going on?
Well whatever it was, it had the desired effect, for Mouse’s face lit up, and he followed Jamie willingly. Father didn’t think he had ever seen the lad look so cheerful.
“Bye Father, see you at dinner.” Jamie called as she led Mouse out, leaving Father to only speculate on all he had just seen and heard. But he didn’t get time to dwell on it, as at that moment Vincent arrived carrying Catherine.
*** *** ***
When Mouse and Jamie reached Mouse’s chamber, Peter Alcott was waiting there for them, and greeted Mouse at once.
“Well, it seems you were right young man. I used the device and took the results over to the lab, and it appears that we have the amount of serum that we have been hoping for. How you ever discovered how to make it I do not know.”
Mouse shrugged, “This and that.” He replied. He was happy that one of his inventions had resulted in a method for extracting venom from poisonous snakes, but he was still unhappy that his latest pet had gone walk about. Or should we say slither about.
“So where is my namesake?”
Mouse shrugged again and looked sheepish.
“Oh no…don’t tell me? Mouse I told you to keep him in the tank!” Peter blurted. “How could you let him out?”
“Just wanted to stroke him.”
“Stroke him…Good God Mouse, it could have eaten you. I knew I should never have let you talk me into this Jamie. How are we ever going to explain the disappearance of a five foot python in the tunnels!”
“Father doesn’t know.” Mouse replied, as if that made everything all right.
“I should think not, or we’d hear him screaming from here. Does anyone else know?”
Mouse nodded, “Pascal.”
“Why tell Pascal?”
“Didn’t need to.”
“Mouse?” Peter spoke in a threatening voice.
Mouse grinned, “Pascal saw it.”
Jamie tried to explain, “We decided to use a sort of code. Mostly everyone knows that the snake was down here, except for the three musketeers.” Jamie grinned.
“By that I suppose you mean Father, Vincent and Catherine?” Peter asked, unable to keep a grin from spreading.
Jamie nodded, “Mouse named the snake after you, after we kept calling him Pete’s snake. But in time it got converted to Pete’s sake. I’m afraid Father has been doing his nut listening to everyone conversing and using that expression.”
“I can imagine.” Peter spoke dryly, “but I think now is the time to tell him what has been happening down here. Father’s a doctor and ordinarily he would have been proud that Mouse had aided medical science in producing such a tool. I only brought the python down here, so that Mouse could see how large the device needed to be. You weren’t meant to try it for size Mouse.”
Mouse looked sheepish, “Sorry.”
“Sorry isn’t good enough Mouse, Python’s grow to massive proportions, and eat large objects. I’ve seen a photograph of one consuming a donkey.”
Mouse’s eyes widened, “It could eat Arthur!” he cried, looking around anxiously for his pet, and sighing with relief when he spied him asleep in his box.
“He could eat people! Children even. Mouse this is serious we have to find that snake.”
Mouse nodded, but he did not relish the fact of Father having to know.
*** *** ***
Catherine would not, simply would not return to THAT chamber. Father had confirmed that it would have been a snake-bite, and that she was very lucky that she shuddered when she did. Although ordinarily such a movement should have caused the snake to have tightened its hold. Vincent concluded that being beneath the blankets may have confused it, and caused it to let go.
But for whatever reason it had not bitten Catherine, everyone was more than relieved.
It was possible of course that the snake was long gone from Catherine’s sleeping quarters, but nothing would have her set foot in there, until the snake was found, as Father had told her that the pinpricks signalling the would be bite indicated that it was quite a large snake.
“You can have my chamber Catherine. I’ll sleep in the chair if we haven’t caught it by tonight.”
“No way!” Catherine had told him, “I’m going back to the apartment until that thing is caught. Can you take me Vincent?”
“What like that?” He nodded toward her attire, and Catherine bit her lip, of course all her things were back in THAT chamber.
Vincent grinned, “I’m sure Mary has something you can wear instead.”
But Catherine shuddered, the thought of tunnel clothing, any tunnel clothing right now scared the wits out of her.
She pulled the robe tighter around her, only serving to emphasis her figure, and Vincent found swallowing difficult all of a sudden.
“Then I will have to stay in your chamber Vincent, but I insist that you keep closer than sleeping on a chair.”
“Closer?” Vincent’s voice trembled.
“You can sleep on top of the bed, and I’ll sleep inside it if it makes you feel any better. I just want you close, or I won’t get any sleep at all. The thought of that thing in my bed…” Catherine’s teeth chattered, and Vincent could feel her disgust and her fear.
He nodded, “Then I’ll stay close.” He told her, but Catherine noticed he did not indicate how close.
In fact although he had willingly carried her to his father’s chamber earlier, he was being very cagey toward her all of a sudden. She had snapped him out of several quiet spells all morning, and she asked him now, “What is it Vincent? Something is wrong, I can tell.”
Vincent denied it at once, “Nothing Catherine.” He said that too brightly, telling Catherine at once that he was covering for something, and she frowned.
Vincent averted his gaze. In truth it was hard to look at her, and not remember how part of her looked beneath that emerald green gown.
“I don’t believe it is nothing. You have acted strange all morning. Vincent, please tell me, what’s worrying you so? Its not just the snake is it?” Catherine spoke softly, encouragingly.
Shaking his head, Vincent refused to say, “Catherine if you are all right here in my chamber I must see Father for a moment.”
Catherine nodded, but she didn’t believe for one moment that Vincent needed to see anyone, but she let him go without any further questions.
*** *** ***
Pascal was sending messages, and Vincent only half heard them, but as he rounded the entrance to Father’s chamber and started to greet his parent, Father held up a hand to quieten him, “Listen?” he told his son, and they both stilled to hear Pascal’s message.
“What the…” Father cried, as he heard the message again.
“For Pete’s sake tap tap tap…the snake’s out of the bag tap tap tap.”
“There’s that expression again. Vincent have you any idea what is going on? That’s all I’ve heard all week, for Pete’s sake this, and for Pete’s sake that. Strange expressions, like I'm taking these cookies for Pete's sake, or I'm taking this bread for Pete's sake. Everyone, save you me and Catherine are saying it.”
Vincent shook his head, but he knew what Father meant. He too had heard it said many times this week, especially from the children, who all seemed to have converged on Mouse’s chamber this past week.
Then just as Father was about to question Vincent further, who should walk into the chamber but Peter Alcott followed by what appeared to be an army of tunnel residents armed with long sticks and sacks!
*** *** ***
“A PYTHON!” Father bellowed as Peter highlighted their predicament.
“Its called Pete.” Mouse offered timidly as if that improved the situation.
Father glared at him, “A python, down here…Mouse!” His face coloured bright red, and Peter really was concerned. “Now Jacob, settle down. It’s not as bad as it looks. I made sure the snake had eaten well before I brought it down here. It should only be marginally peckish and won’t attack anyone.”
“Won’t attack anyone!” Vincent bellowed, “He’s already tried to take a bite out of Catherine this morning.”
Everyone stopped whatever they were doing, or thinking, and stared, open mouthed at Vincent, except Mouse.
Delighted the boy let out a whoop of joy, “Catherine has seen Pete? Great, where?”
Suddenly a loud scream coming from Vincent’s chamber split the air.
“There!” roared Vincent, running from the chamber faster than his legs would carry him.
*** *** ***
It was all over in minutes. Galloping behind Vincent came Mouse, Peter, Jamie, and half the tunnel community and the moment they all found Catherine standing on a table trying to swat a very large snake that had for some reason taken a fancy to her legs again Vincent pounced and caught the snake behind the back of its head, (like he had done this before), and had bagged the creature, before anyone could blink.
Catherine was a little shook up, well that was an understatement, she was a lot shook up, but she didn’t seem to mind that Vincent paid her more attention than usual, except that he was still exceedingly quiet from time to time.
“What is it Vincent?” Catherine asked for the umpteenth time, later that day, after Peter had returned the snake to the lab.
“Its nothing Catherine. What would you like me to read next?” He changed the subject. Catherine leaned back against him, “Surprise me. You choose.”
His voice soothed her as he read from a large book of sonnets, but she detected that there was definitely something on his mind, and began to piece back step by step of the day’s events. At last she reached the moment that she had known he must have seen more than he had bargained for that morning.
Catherine nodded slowly, her mouth twitching at the corners, trying to imagine what or rather how much of her he would have seen. “Would you excuse me for a moment Vincent, there is something I must do. Would you wait here please?”
Uncurling herself from his embrace, Catherine smiled at his look of bewilderment as she left him sitting there, “I won’t be long.” And he took it that she needed the bathroom.
And she did, but not for that reason.
As soon as she arrived she flung off her clothes, and used her petticoat as she would her night gown for the best effect, then in front of a long mirror, re-enacted that morning’s actions, peering behind her into the reflection to see what Vincent might have seen.
Catherine gasped, “Oh my!” she cried softly, as she saw her bare bottom reflected in the mirror, “No wonder the poor guy is feeling faint.” Catherine giggled, then laughed harder and harder the more she thought about it.
Suddenly her face coloured up as she heard a sharp intake of breath followed by Vincent’s voice from behind her, “I heard your laughter Catherine, I was curious.” And swung around in time to see him covering his eyes with his hands.
Catherine burst into another bout of laughter this time a trifle nervously, “I’m sorry Vincent. That’s twice in one day. I’m sorry to do that to you. But you see I was curious also. I wanted to know what you had possibly seen the first time.”
“And now you know.” Vincent’s tone was gruff, deep with emotion and desire. Catherine’s eyes widened…’desire’ was it possible? He had never given any indication in the past that he might think of her in that way. Though she had found it very hard not to let him know how much she would welcome such desire from him.
Their eyes met and held and Catherine noticed Vincent was having trouble holding her gaze, but could not for the life of him avert his eyes.
“I’d better get dressed.” Catherine said, more for something to say.
“Yes you’d better.” Vincent turned, leaving her there, but could not walk any further than the other side of the chamber entrance. His heart hammered in his chest. And that renewed sight of Catherine’s bare bottom burned his brain.
How would he ever get that sight out of his mind?
And how would he ever stop wanting to see more of her?
*** *** ***
It was almost a week later, before either saw the other again. After that last incident with the sight of her bottom, Catherine had gone above to her apartment to spare Vincent some anguish, and to reassess their relationship.
She admitted quite openly that if given the opportunity, she would welcome him into her bed, but how to get him to believe that. That was the problem.
However, Vincent had spent a sleepless week, thinking along the same lines. He couldn’t get the memory of the sight out of his mind, and his body burned like a fever to see more of her. Dismayed at his daydreaming, he had plunged himself relentlessly into the coldest subterranean pools, without success. As soon as he had warmed up again, he thought of her, and his body burned again with a hunger that was new to him.
Eventually he could hold back no longer. He knew how Catherine felt, she had told him on many occasions that she loved him. She had asked on many occasions to live in his world, and that she was not afraid of him. It was only he that had always held back. Well now that sight led him to her, and he went willingly as a slave. Like a moth to the flame. His wings had already been singed, and he quite happily went to set the rest of his body aflame.
*** *** ***
Catherine was sitting up in bed reading, when Vincent finally arrived. It was late, and she had deemed that he wasn’t coming again, so she was pleasantly surprised when she heard his tap on her door.
Grabbing her robe, she flung it on, and raced to let him in, drowning in his embrace as he enfolded her with his large arms, “I’ve missed you.” Catherine told him sincerely, “Can you stay awhile?”
Looking over her shoulder, Vincent eyed the rumpled bed with longing, and could only nod, and Catherine followed his gaze, a little surprised.
Things had been changing between them of late, but it had been so subtle and so slow that Catherine thought it may just have been wishful thinking.
“Do you want to talk about this Vincent?” Catherine asked him now, stepping back from his embrace a few steps to put some space between them.
“I don’t know that I can. I should go Catherine.”
“No wait!” Catherine caught his arm, “Please, we have to talk about this.” She summoned some strength and went on relentlessly, “Vincent what you saw…of me…how did it make you feel?”
A long anguished groan left Vincent’s lips, and he threw back his head before speaking gruffly, “You know how it made me feel. Catherine I shouldn’t have come here tonight, the way ahead is too dangerous.”
But Catherine would not let him go, to do so would allow him to run and hide and they might never reach this place in their lives again.
“Vincent, I am happy for you to see me, but I don’t want to cause you pain, yet you are wrong the pain that you feel and the danger that you imagine don’t go hand in hand. There is no danger Vincent, but there will always be pain, if you don’t do something about it.”
“And what would you have me do?” He was looking at her now, and the expression in his eyes bore into hers like blue fire.
Very quietly holding his gaze, Catherine whispered, “Make love to me Vincent.”
Wrenching himself away a sharp growl issued forth from Vincent’s throat, and he snapped “NO!”
“YES!” Catherine grabbed him tighter forcing him to look at her. “I know that you want me Vincent, and you know that is what I want too.”
“NO YOU ARE WRONG!” Vincent struggled to free himself from her grasp, without cutting her with his claws.
“I’m not wrong Vincent, its what you need. Its what we both need. I love you so much Vincent.”
For long moments, ragged breathing was expelled from Vincent, and he could not reply, neither could he look at her.
Catherine waited, knowing he was working things out in his mind, and praying that he would relent and stay the night with her. That this might be the first step toward their relationship working for the better.
“I don’t know.” He whispered, surprising Catherine by that omission.
“You don’t know, I don’t understand, what don’t you know?” Catherine asked thoroughly confused by the statement.
Vincent sighed raggedly, “I don’t know what to do.” He whispered.
Catherine smiled, he was so adorable, what ever did he mean? Was he saying he didn’t know what to do about the situation or…
“Catherine I wouldn’t know how to make love to you.” He told her holding her upper arms tightly.
…or did he mean that? Catherine smiled. Yes he certainly meant that.
“You follow your instinct Vincent.”
“Then I could not love you.” His face turned from her, his tone sad.
Another ragged sigh left him, as defeated he sank to the side of the bed, “Because my instinct is vicious. My instinct is to rip off your clothing and take you relentlessly from behind, like an animal.”
Catherine could not believe he had said all of that, and for long moments she was silent, but she reasoned those words were desperate, and had erupted from him without the will to hold them back.
Her silence worried Vincent further, “You see, you agree. I am an animal.”
“No Vincent.” Catherine walked to his side, and pulled his head against her breast, hearing his sharp intake of breath as he felt his cheek against her curves. “That is a normal male reaction of a man that wants to love desperately. Vincent if that’s the way your instincts lead you then I welcome that way.” ‘Oh, how I welcome that way’. Catherine uttered under her breath.
For long moments Vincent said nothing, and then Catherine felt him tilt his face to look up at her, his eyes were tender, loving, filled with emotion, and she knew he had unlocked the door to his heart’s desire. Without thinking, Catherine bent her head and touched her lips to his, glorifying in the feel of his hands tightening their hold upon her as she increased the pressure of her mouth on his.
Oh the sensation, it was bliss, erotic, more than erotic, Catherine couldn’t get enough of him, and allowed her body to slide to his level so that she could kiss him passionately.
Vincent did not pull away, but with a strangled moan he started to return the kiss, following her lead, and she heard him whisper softly, “Teach me Catherine. Teach me how to love you.” And through her kiss she smiled and whispered, “I’ll teach you my love, willingly.”
*** *** ***
It was later, much later, that Catherine’s knowledge of the man she loved had increased greatly. She now knew that he was an incredible first time lover, and she knew that he growled when he loved her, and he purred when he slept contented in her arms.
And she was soon to learn that he had the most delightful sense of humour.
Laying with her back to him, held tightly in his arms, Catherine felt something move in the small of her back, and wiggled one arm free to see what it was, “Vincent!” she exclaimed on contact, “Not again!”
Vincent smiled, and threw back the covers to exclaim, “For Pete’s sake that Python’s back!” and causing Catherine to leap from the bed screaming. Vincent collapsed into laughter, “Oh Catherine if you could see your face. I was only joking.” He laughed harder and harder slowing to a stop as Catherine continued to stare down at him, “What?” he was prompted to ask at last.
Catherine pointed to the area of his groin, “That.” She told him, trying not to grin. “You were right the snake is back.”
Vincent looked down and blushed furiously just as Catherine had intended he should, and this time she definitely saw his pallor redden. He pulled the covers back over his naked body with a flourish.
“Shame.” Catherine told him. “I was enjoying the view.”
“The only shame is me, I am different from other men.” Vincent’s heart sunk, how could he have ever believed that Catherine would continue to want him?
“And how so! Pete the Python eat your heart out! Vincent you may be different, but wonderfully so, and I am one very lucky lady to have found you.”
Vincent didn’t believe that and he told her so.
“Then I will just have to spend the rest of my life convincing you won’t I? Move over Vincent I’m coming back to bed.”
That she could, or that she would astounded Vincent but just as she had promised Catherine taught him how to love again, and again and again…
And they lived slippery ever after…
Slippery being for the snake theme that is…not the…er oh never mind…
*** *** ***
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