Catherine awakens from an anaesthetic to find herself the mother of twin girls and married to a man she doesn't even know. So what has happened to Vincent and the tunnels? Were they just a dream?
“Have you found anything yet?” Joe was anxious. Both he and Diana had every right to be there, but that wasn’t the problem, he had left his office unattended for too long, and had appointments to keep. Still this too was important. Cathy Chandler had meant the world to him, and if she was still alive…
Joe didn’t know what to think. It had taken him years to get anywhere near accepting her sudden death and the needless way of it. Some guy holding her for months just so he could take her child. It didn’t make any sense, or so he had thought at the time. He’d met Cathy Chandler’s lover since then, and now he understood the kidnappers’ intentions.
“Have you spoken to Vincent about this?” Joe asked when he realised that Diana hadn’t replied to his earlier question. Neither did she reply to that one either.
Joe spoke louder, “Diana!”
“What, what is it Joe? You found something?”
“No, I was talking to you but you ignored me, I asked if you had found anything and does Vincent know?”
“No to both questions. But I think I might have something. Come take a look.”
Joe swivelled around in his seat and stood up, walking across to the second isle where Diana had been working.
“This.” Her finger pointed to a paragraph upon a report merely marked with a set of figures.
“The date fits Joe. See the date of Cathy’s funeral.
“How did you unearth that? There are millions of files down here?”
Diana tapped her nose, and smiled broadly.
“I know they say you are good Diana, but you must have had something to go on surely?”
Diana shuffled a sheaf of papers towards him. The wording on the outside of the folder was clearly marked extras. Joe knew it was the only file of its type, and everything was in date format.
Diana leaned over the folder with him, “See the contents Joe,” she ran her finger down the list, “This is the date that Cathy was discovered in her apartment.” Diana flicked through a few pages to locate the place she wanted, then holding onto the page flipped back to the contents, “And this is the date of her funeral.” She flipped forward again, until she was holding a couple of sheets of paper that contained the information she sought.
“Here Joe, it’s all in here. You read it, tell me if you come up with the same idea as me.”
The report showed him various codes and dates. There were no names or places, but there were lists of items needed for whatever case the information referred to. Joe was surprised to find that a huge amount of latex had been purchased and delivered but did not state where it was to be delivered.
In detail the latex was listed with a view to weight, colour, thickness, and Joe was pleased to note that the report referred to areas where the latex was to be used. There was a certain percentage for the face, another percentage for the hands, another for the torso, the legs, the arms and the feet. Nothing had been missed and even if such things weren’t uncommon in changing another person’s identity, this seemed to be the only one during the dates of Catherine Chandler’s supposed death until the date of her funeral. Joe checked through other sheets of dates. There were other percentages of latex needed on other dates and some had several amounts for a definite date, but the dates that were important to him, bore just the one. Only one dead body had needed disguising during that period of time. Joe gasped, “I see what you mean Diana. Even if it wasn’t used to hide Cathy, I can’t let this go until I have found out who else it was used on.”
“Neither can I Joe. But I think the results are pretty much conclusive, besides, take a look at this.” Diana handed another folder to him, “Read page fourteen.”
Joe reached for the folder careful not to dislodge any unattached papers. His eyes found the page number at the bottom, and then glanced to the top of the page to start reading. What he read startled him, and he was dismayed to feel his body start to shake.
Body transported. Female.
Body for burial. Female.
There was nothing more. Nothing more was needed. To Diana and Joe’s trained eyes the minimal amount of information told them all that they needed to know.
*** *** ***
Joe hadn’t been below the city streets since the last time he was there, which was shortly after he’d helped Diana return Catherine Chandler’s baby to his father, and Joe had hoped never to have to step foot there again.
The place had given him the creeps, and this Vincent well…Joe had no words with which he found comfortable in thinking about the fellow.
Diana was different again.
“You’ve not been since either? I would have thought you might have kept tabs on the little fella.” Joe told her as they edged through the tunnels at the foot of the Central Park entrance.
“It’s not the little fella that concerned me. It’s the big fella that I had the problem with Joe.”
“You too! He had that affect on me as well.” Joe shuddered in just remembering.
Diana shuddered too but for an entirely different reason. “I don’t think so Joe, that is I think the affect was different.”
Joe looked at her long and hard as realisation dawned. “No kidding? You too? I always wondered what Cathy saw in him, but you too?”
Diana nodded, “He’s so mythological Joe. I spent months dreaming about his face after the last time that I saw him. And those eyes! And that voice. Just his features alone tore my heart to shreds. I had to keep away in case there came a day when I couldn’t. Know what I mean Joe?”
“Can’t say I do Diana.”
“You think of it Joe. No doubt Cathy had never intended to fall in love with the guy. You heard all the reports from Father. How the pair of them had fought their differences for so long, the heartache caused by his living in the world Below and hers above. Cathy had a career, and a damn good one, and so do I for that matter. But I’m afraid I’m not made of such tough stuff as Cathy obviously. I was able to walk away before I got in too deep.”
“So how’s it gonna affect you seeing him again?”
“It won’t, not now. Believing I might have had a chance was something else, but with Catherine back on the scene, well, it doesn’t matter anymore. I just feel kinda proud that I am able to bring him this news.”
“Yeah I know what you mean there, still knowing she’s alive and finding her are two different things Diana, you said so yourself, and Seattle is a big place, even if she is still there.”
“She’ll be there Joe. Witness protection doesn’t just dump people somewhere and never keep tabs on them again. If she had moved on the report would have said so. Now come on, are you going to tap out a message or shall I?”
“You’d better do it I can’t even remember how.”
“Neither can I, but I do remember Vincent telling us that any indiscriminate message would bring someone running so that’s good enough for me.”
*** *** ***
Vincent was talking to Father when Diana and Joe were led down to Father’s chamber by Jamie, and both stopped what they were saying upon sight of the two.
“Diana!” Father cried overjoyed, “You got my message then? I was beginning to wonder.”
And then as Joe came in from behind her, he asked, “What’s this, why have you brought Mr. Maxwell?”
Vincent watched the pair suspiciously. There was an air of excitement about them, something he felt apprehension for.
“I got your message Father. I’m sorry I should have answered straight away, but I went to see Joe first, and between us we have unearthed some information that you will find exciting.” Her eyes then rested upon Vincent, and for long moments she was unable to tear her gaze away.
He was taller than she’d remembered.
His eyes were bluer, and his voice when he spoke was softer, sexier. She found herself melting all over again just for the sight of him. She’d been right to keep away.
“Here take a look at this.” Diana took the final steps down into the chamber, pulling a folded sheet of paper from her jacket pocket and handing it to Father. He read it but could not understand it.
“Confused huh? That’s good. To an untrained eye that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Tell me what would you make of it if you didn’t know?” Vincent came to stand beside his father, looking over the older man’s shoulder and tried, as did his parent, to make head or tail of the few words on the sheet. Diana noticed that Vincent was trembling.
“Application latex. Sounds like something from a James Bond movie.” Father laughed. He frowned, “Body female. That sounds just as it probably is. That the body was female and it was buried. Clinic Niagara I take it that’s Niagara Falls?” He looked up and Diana nodded, before Father read on, “Destination Seattle. I’m sorry my dear but the whole thing has lost me.”
“So if you saw that what conclusion would you draw?” Diana asked him, with a sidelong glance at Vincent.
Father read it through again, “Depends what I was looking for I suppose. At first it just looks like somebody’s notes. Then it looks like a report for a deceased person, from the mortuary perhaps?”
“That’s the way it’s supposed to look. They make reports like that for a reason.”
“Who dear?” Father was clearly confused and Vincent couldn’t get it out of his head that the reason for such a report should mean more to him than it did.
“The Witness Protection Agency. To an untrained eye that is exactly the way they would hope it would read, then no one would become suspicious. But there are discrepancies Father. You’re a doctor see if you can spot them?”
Father looked back to the paper again, reading it through once more, but this time reading it as one would a medical report. “Why would they need latex for a dead person?” he asked and frowned, “And why would they take a corpse to a clinic? Could be research perhaps.” He spoke as if to himself, “Did the deceased come from Seattle and was returned there?”
“Backtrack Father, think about this. Why go to such lengths as to make out such a report if the person was dead anyway?” Vincent mused.
“Well done both of you” Diana was delighted, “Why indeed. I expect you are wondering why I showed it to you. Well I think you should both sit down. This will come as quite a shock.”
Both of them felt behind them for their seats, their eyes never leaving Diana’s. Joe hovered in the background.
“First the latex and the body.” Diana began, “At first it appears to be one body, but why apply latex if the body is to be buried? Because obviously the real victim wasn’t dead, but another put in its place at the mortuary and the latex used to build up that body to resemble the one in the photograph. What photograph I hear you say? Well everybody that comes under the witness protection scheme has their whole identity changed, and many times for the purpose of transportation has had latex applied until they arrive at the designated place. Or at other times a witness might have his or her death acted out, and with the use of another body, usually someone with no history, relatives or anything like that, then that body is built up to look like the one that is being relocated.
It’s all to imply that the witness is really dead while the protection scheme relocates them, and no one becomes suspicious. To all intents and purposes that person’s friends and family believe they have died, thus no one ever comes looking for them, there is no missing person’s report and the villains whoever they are, are none the wiser and are not looking for the witness. I can see I have lost you.” Diana looked from Vincent to Father in turn, “You do know I’m talking about Cathy don’t you?” Vincent drew in a sharp breath that whistled between his teeth, and the colour drained from Father’s face, but each said nothing. Diana went on, “Gabriel was never caught, and Catherine was presumed dead.” Vincent found that the word presumed filled his heart with sudden hope.
“Well,” went on Diana, “Obviously in this case Catherine was in a coma. She wasn’t dead, despite how it may have seemed to Vincent. She was alive, and the FBI had found this out. Sophisticated apparatus would have enabled them to know. But because of the coma and because of Gabriel, and because Catherine was the only witness that they knew about who could tell them what Gabriel looked like, she had to be protected. I knew of course but then I was covering for you and was not able to come forward. Personally that leads me to believe that Gabriel died, otherwise surely I would be dead by now.
Anyway the FBI took a body from off of the streets; they applied latex and made the body to look like Catherine with the use of the photograph taken of her. Then they did the same thing to Catherine, disguising her enough to get her out of the country and to a clinic near Niagara Falls. From there she would be monitored until they saw fit to relocate her in…” she paused, but Father was ahead of her now, “Seattle!” he gasped, “You’re telling us that Cathy is in Seattle aren’t you?”
Diana nodded, “She’s in Seattle and she’s alive.”
“Jeez” Joe exclaimed with a similar whistle to the sound Vincent had made earlier as air dragged between his teeth, “Then why hasn’t she been in touch?”
“My guess is the coma robbed her of her memory, or perhaps she is still in the coma.” Diana replied, her words faltering as Vincent shook his head. “She’s not in a coma.” He whispered, he could hardly breathe, but he managed to say quietly, “Jacob, my son can feel her. The Bond that I shared with Catherine has gone… but Jacob shares another with her…. Jacob insists that she is alive.”
“Then we must swap notes Vincent. Seattle is a big place, and it will take a lot of manpower to find her. Manpower I might add that we simply do not have. If the witness protection council do get to hear about this they’ll simply move her. If we are going to find her we have to do it between us. Father whatever became of the money that Catherine left to you in her will?”
“I’ve used a little for medication and some things we needed.” Father’s face reddened, to think he’d used Catherine’s money and she hadn’t of been dead, made him feel terrible. Diana noticed, “You weren’t to know, don’t worry about using it, besides we need to use it now.”
“Whatever for?” Father asked aghast.
“The only people that knew Cathy by sight and those we can bring in on it, live down here in your world. We will need some money for their airfares to fly them all to Seattle. It’s the only thing I can think of Father to cut the search in the least possible time. If you can rally around everyone that knew her who would be willing to help please do so, and I will see about getting all the documentation they will need to fly, as well as their tickets.”
Father nodded, Diana was right, there simply wasn’t anyone else they could ask, not even Catherine’s friends from Above, because they had no way of telling who would be listening in up there.
But Father’s first concern was Vincent. His son had listened to everything almost as if they were discussing some relocation of a pipe network, and not reacting at all to the fact that the woman he loved and believed to be dead for the past four years was in fact alive. And Father found that his son’s placid reaction to that worried him no end.
*** *** ***
Father’s concern was evident in the lines of his face, though he had said little since Diana and Joe had been down to their world and dropped their bombshell.
He wanted to do oh how he wanted to shout from the very rooftops that Catherine was alive. He wanted to go above and take hold of people by the hand and tell them so because the news that Diana had brought that day had made him so happy. And it was in the face of his happiness that he could not understand his own son’s reluctance to show any emotion at all.
He knew his son’s reservations, of course he did, and he accepted that Vincent might not allow himself to believe and then find out it was untrue. But surely in the face of young Jacob’s convictions, which everyone seemed inclined to overlook, surely in view of that Vincent had to believe?
For days after Diana and Joe’s visit they edged around the subject, careful not to bring it up, until the day that Father felt he’d had enough of walking on eggshells, if they didn’t tackle it soon he would scream.
“Oh for goodness sake Vincent.” He snapped one day as the pair sat side by side quietly reading, “At least show some enthusiasm about this!”
Vincent raised his eyes, his blue eyes searching but he did not speak.
Father exasperated with him, feeling inclined to mention the subject at hand, “About Catherine…” he mumbled, “I take it you do remember her?”
Vincent’s face stormed red at once, the blue eyes splinters of fiery ice, “Of course I remember her!” he snapped, rising to his feet and flinging the book into the furthest corner of the chamber, “But Father what would you have me say?”
Father’s eyes twinkled, not quite the response he’d hoped for true, but it was a start at least, “That you want her back would be one thing?” Father queried, paused for flight in case need be. Vincent’s sudden change of temper was a force to be reckoned with, and Father was used to making a swift exit when the need arose.
But his son slumped back into his chair, his eyes hollow, and his voice when it came filled with pain, “Of course I want her back.” Tears rolled down his cheeks, and Father at once felt remorseful.
“I’m sorry Vincent, but you seemed so reticent. I’d begun to think, hell no, I didn’t once think you didn’t want her back, but I had begun to wonder if you were frightened of having her back again.”
Vincent speared his father with twin blue eyes, “I am frightened Father.”
“Why, what troubles you so, can you tell me?” Father was concerned now, truly concerned. He knew how deeply his son loved Catherine, how deep the grief had been at her death. How at that time his son would have given his own life to have turned back the hands of time and spared her own.
“When Catherine died…” Vincent hesitated, shaking his great head with disbelief, “When I believed she had died, I wanted nothing more than to have her back…”
“But now?” Father prompted gently.
“But now things are different. Catherine has moved on. Jacob saw her in a hospital with a baby. We believed it was a memory, but it now seems that it was not. Father don’t you see, Catherine has moved on now, she has another life, another family…to love.”
Father could see only too well the way his son’s mind was leading him, “But she loved you first Vincent, and Jacob is her firstborn. She may not have any recollection of that, but if she were told…” Vincent did not allow him to finish, “No Father.” He did not raise his voice. It was firm, assured and he placed a firm hand upon his father’s arm, “She mustn’t be made to remember. If Catherine were to remember me, and return to me that would be different, but the way things are should be left as they are. I rejoice that Catherine has found her happy life, it was what I had always hoped for her. Nothing has changed Father. Jacob may be my son, but I have never remembered being intimate with Catherine, I doubt now that I ever will.”
“Don’t you be so sure Vincent. You pushed any chance of regaining that memory away because you believed Catherine to be dead. I know you, it would have been too painful to remember under those circumstances.”
“And it would still be too painful to remember, for what purpose would it serve? Father don’t you see, Catherine has another life now, and if she is happy in that other life, we should not take it from her, it would be wrong.”
“I see your point Vincent, really I do, and I understand, but I can’t help thinking you are wrong. There had never been such a love as the two of you shared. It warmed all of us down here, I can’t for one moment believe that if Catherine had remembered then she would turn her back on it, and if she hasn’t remembered then she would only thank us for reminding her. She can’t be happy Vincent not without you, not as happy as she was with you, it would be impossible.”
Vincent smiled, just enough to please his father, but Father knew that he was a long way from convincing his son of things. He had a sudden idea.
“If Jacob tells us, if he should even hint as much that Catherine is not happy, would you pursue it then?”
Vincent shook his head, “Unless Catherine remembers and returns of her own free will, I cannot consent to anyone from our world going to Seattle to look for her. It would be wrong Father, if nothing else, she has another child now, someone else who relies on her love and affection.”
Father shook his head, he did understand of course he did, but it all seemed so unfair.
To find Catherine was still alive and still have her snatched away from them again was the cruellest thing of all.
“I wish there was some other way. Perhaps to remind her and let her choose, but I expect that would be worse for you?”
“Vincent nodded, just the once, “Yes.” His voice was almost inaudible.
Father felt suddenly old and tired, and he still didn’t agree with his son, even though he tried to understand. He had missed Catherine, and with her death had closed a chapter in a book that had been the biggest most best fairy story anyone had ever been told, or had seen unfold before their very eyes. All fairy tales have a happy ending, why could not this one.
No, no matter what Vincent said, he was wrong Father was sure of it, and if push came to shove, he knew which side he would be standing on that was for sure. With Joe and Diana, and whatever they would decide to do about this miraculous turn of events.
*** *** ***
Ever since Joe and Diana had brought the earth shattering news Vincent had been plagued by doubts. He could understand Father’s point of view, but could no one understand his? All the time he and Catherine had been together Vincent had tried so desperately hard to make her see reason and forget about him, and go live her life, in the way she had been born for. Having Jacob had changed his life, but believing Catherine to be dead, he and their son had grown together, had managed with their loss, and had survived together. Not a day went by that he didn’t yearn for Catherine’s touch, or her sweet mischievous voice telling him something, or wish that she had never died and left him alone. But then to suddenly find out that she hadn’t died and that she had made a new life for herself somewhere, then it would be wrong, very wrong to take her away from that now. Why couldn’t anybody else see that?
Jacob had seen her in a hospital bed with a child, didn’t that tell anyone anything?
Catherine had a new life now.
A child, a newborn child that needed her. No one could expect her to turn her back on such a child to return to the tunnels to Jacob, and him.
Catherine had the sunshine now, a child with whom she could walk in the sunshine. Not that Jacob bore any resemblance to the beast yet, but it was doubtful that he would not inherit fangs and fur upon his body. Vincent knew that Catherine would never have taken such a risk with their child, only to have to explain where he had gone to her friends in later years.
No. It didn’t matter how one looked at it, and though he missed her, Catherine was better off remaining oblivious to the past, and he, Vincent had to rejoice that she had found her happy life.
*** *** ***
Joe was as different again.
When he and Diana came a few days later to finalise the arrangements and Father told them of Vincent’s belief, Joe was anything but gentlemanly about it.
In fact quite a heated argument developed over it between himself and Vincent.
Joe paced the room in one direction, and Vincent in the other, leaving Father holding his hand over his mouth lest either one saw that he was grinning from ear to ear.
Diana he could see was also having a hard time trying to suppress her humour.
“Just give me one good reason why you don’t want her back Vincent?” Joe had stopped dead and his brown puppy dog eyes glared at Vincent, whose own blue ones glared right back.
“Catherine has a new life now it would be wrong.”
“Says who? You? Catherine had a life and a damn good one, she was great at her job, and she’s a New Yorker, her home is here. She should be here.”
“Those reasons aren’t good enough.” Vincent spoke, his voice soft bordering on pain, distress.
“Then how about the fact that she has a life here too, if not for you, then for your son.” Joe put in, his temper flaring. He could not understand why Vincent was being so stubborn.
“Jacob and I are fine. But Catherine has a new child now. It would be wrong…”
“Jacob has seen her, he knows, and believe me Mr. Maxwell the Bond is a force to be reckoned with, I believe me son when he tells me he can see his mother with a new born baby in her arms.”
“I believe you, for some reason, though that is beyond me, but what if your son is reading this wrong. What if Cathy was visiting someone else and holding their baby?”
Vincent held his breath. He really hadn’t thought of that. But he realised with a jolt it still made no difference.
“It doesn’t matter. Catherine has moved on, she has another life now. I can’t expect that she would want to come back and forsake her new life for one down here with me.”
Perhaps you’re right there pal, perhaps she wouldn’t, but to come back and have the life she led before at the D.A’s, she might find that appealing.”
“And she might be doing better things now.”
“I don’t care what you say Vincent. I’m bringing her back.” Joe’s face was like thunder, “I love Cathy even if you don’t.”
Father gasped looking from his son to Joe, thinking, ‘careful Joe’ wondering if he should intervene when Vincent beat him to it.
“I love her!” Vincent gritted his teeth together, the words forced between and coming out like a hiss. His eyes flashed blue sparks and Joe was reminded of an electric current, dangerous. “I love her more than life!” Vincent picked up his pace, walking to and fro faster and faster. Father wondered if his already threadbare carpet could stand the punishment.
“But I cannot, cannot allow you to bring her back.”
“Yeah, you and whose army?” Joe sneered. “As I see it you don’t want her and I do. With you out of the equation who knows maybe she will fall in love with me this time.”
Vincent raced forward his arm raised, and Joe ducked as the arms came crashing down, missing him by centimetres.
“VINCENT!” Father cried, jumping to his feet.
“That’s your answer to everything isn’t it?” Joe flared rising to his feet, a little unsteadily. “Don’t agree with someone then you strike them. Well let me tell you if Cathy does come back with me, then its best you do keep away from her, for I know for a fact there will be a whole lot less bodies torn to shreds around this city if you do.”
The two men glared at one another their eyes challenging. Vincent was the first to slump into a chair, a hand drawn over his eyes. “Those men deserved to die.” He whispered, but Joe could see the fingers covering his eyes gleamed wet with tears, “But I take no joy from killing them.” His voice broke. “These hands.” He held them before him turning them over, and over, “Are filled with blood. You can not know what it is to relieve that kind of nightmare. But I tell you now, if Catherine should come back to this city and I know she is in danger I will come, and I will slay her tormentors, again and again. I could not stand by and do nothing. I love her so much.” His voice pained everyone in the chamber, tore at their souls and Joe found himself apologising. “I’m sorry Vincent but I’m bringing her home come what may. I could never live with myself if I didn’t at least try.”
“Promise me something.” Vincent spoke softly, his eyes withdrawn and sad, speaking volumes.
“Maybe.” Joe answered uncommitted.
“If you find that she is happy. If she is married with a family to consider and she is happy, promise me that you won’t make her remember that you will leave her where she is. How can we justify taking her from one family that needs her to another that needs her just as much. One of us have to make the sacrifice, and we have already lived believing her to be dead. At least knowing she is alive lessens the pain, and knowing she is happy will lessen it further.”
“I can’t. Call me selfish Vincent but I can’t. Okay some of it, but I still owe it to her to tell her. If she is happy fine, if she wants to stay then fine, but if I find her, I’m going to tell her she had another life, and all about it. I owe her that much.”
Vincent nodded, his eyes filled with anguish, “All right.” He agreed, “But promise me, you won’t tell her about me.”
Father gasped. For a split second he had begun to hope, now that hope was crushed again.
Joe gaped at him, “Not to tell her about you?”
“No. If she remembers by herself then fine, but otherwise don’t force it. Believe me its better this way.”
“For you, you mean?” Joe felt dreadful.
“No for Catherine. Better that we never met, better that she has the life she was born for, better that I do not complicate things for her.” Inside he spoke the final words, ‘better that we had not loved.’ But only father heard the silent words, knowing his son as well as he did, and his heart ached for he knew that for all his son’s bravado Vincent would never be the same again.
“All right I promise.” Joe was saying, before turning to Diana, and dismissing Vincent altogether, “Are you ready to go?”
Diana nodded, her heart going out to Vincent, her eyes never leaving his slumped figure sprawled out in his chair.
She longed so much to comfort him, but she knew that she was not who he needed. He needed Catherine, and she vowed there and then that she not being under the promise Joe had made to Vincent, would if given the chance, tell Catherine everything about her past.
*** *** ***
He’d promised himself he would never go there again, but he had to do. He simply had to do.
As Mozart’s unfinished symphony caressed the night overhead, Vincent found that his memories heightened, and fresh tears flowed freely as he imagined days to come again with Catherine in his arms.
How severely he had berated himself over her death, how long he had mourned not knowing that the woman he had believed had died in his arms had in fact only slipped into a coma. He should have listened to Narcissa. The wise old woman had insisted that Catherine lived and Vincent had mocked her telling her that Catherine had been buried. He knew he would have to visit Narcissa to make amends, and he hoped that she would forgive him. She probably already knew that he would be in touch.
Diana’s revelation had shocked him. For hours, days even after she and Joe had left them; he had been unable to grasp the meaning of their visit or the things he had heard. Not until he heard Father’s approach to the council for volunteers to go to Seattle did he begin to allow himself to believe.
He should never have doubted of course, if his son’s joy was anything to go by. For since Jacob had told them that he could see and feel his mother, the boy had been on cloud nine.
It didn’t seem real though, as much as Vincent wanted to believe, his mind would not allow him past the moment when he had spoken to Catherine for the last time, even those words held their own poignancy now, “And death shall have no dominion.”
If Catherine were alive, then those words would take on new meaning for him. That even in the face of tragedy, death would have no hold on the living. And Vincent remembered too his Catherine’s last words to him, “Though lovers be lost.” And his reply, “Love shall not.” At no other time than now did those words hold more meaning.
And for the first time since he had been told the news Vincent began to believe in the possibility that Catherine was alive and his heart began to sing.
*** *** ***
rmed with photographs, Diana and Joe started their first day’s search through Seattle. It was for once sunny, Joe was surprised, he’d heard that much rain fell on the city and that the sun was an illusion.
“Its not true Joe, it just seems that way. No doubt the locals would tell you differently. Its just visitors like us, that tend to find more wet weather when we come than those that live here all the time.” Diana laughed at his surprise as he tucked his folded umbrella into his raincoat.
“Well I’m taking this with me just in case, after all maybe they have April showers here.”
“In June!” Diana burst into laughter.
Joe grinned, “So the seasons are out of order. It happens everywhere, and hey I don’t like getting wet, besides…” he shot her a cheeky faced grin, “If it gets too sunny, I’ll put it up as a sunshade.”
Diana laughed, “Just so long as you let me share it with you, come rain or shine.”
“It’s a deal.” Joe told her.
Their banter continued for a few more moments until they stilled and remembered the reason for being there, They weren’t the every day run of the mill tourist, but were there for a very serious, and important assignment.
“We should start with the hospitals. I know you don’t lay too much on Jacob’s visions Joe, but it is the only lead we have. If Cathy was on the maternity wing, it would be good to start there.”
Reluctantly Joe nodded he didn’t like to admit that a child could ‘see’ things as Jacob portended to do.
“There’s several hospitals Diana, what do you say we split up and tackle half each. Meet back here at the hotel around tea time?”
Diana nodded, “Sounds good to me Joe, but hey if we find her what do we do?”
“Nothing. Except to find out all we can. Use your badge, your authority. She wouldn’t know you of course, but there would be no harm in me going to visit if she is at one of the hospitals on my list, just to see what she will do. You never know she may have remembered everything. She may not want to return with us. Perhaps Vincent is right, perhaps Catherine realises that being with him would place too many restrictions upon her, perhaps she has thought it all through.”
“Perhaps, though I can’t see it Joe. Not feeling for Vincent as I do, and I hardly know him. Cathy would never be able to forget someone like that, not knowing how sad he would be for it. She couldn’t do that to him, she couldn’t.”
“Oh and you’d know of course?”
“Of course, women’s intuition and all that. It would send her insane to try even to forget him. It would be impossible. Where would you find another like Vincent?”
“I wouldn’t like to guess. Do you think he’s the only one there is?”
“Well if he’s not, I hope I get to the other one before anyone else does Joe.”
“Say you’ve really got it bad Bennett. I don’t mind saying I will have no worries about you keeping Vincent a secret from Cathy. Bet you’d do that anyway just so the running is clear for you.”
Diana nodded, but would not meet his eyes. Funny that, as much as she felt for Vincent, she loved him enough to make him happy, but not with herself. Diana knew enough that Vincent could only ever be truly happy with Catherine Chandler, and though she’d have to make a sacrifice, she’d do it happily, and she would take Catherine back to him, come what may.
“Well then let’s hit the road Joe. I’ll head East and North you head South and West. See you back here around teatime. Let’s go.”
They smiled at one another, and turning away each hailed a taxi to take them to their furthest destinations. Clinics, hospitals, private nursing homes all very firmly written onto a list and tucked in their hand. The search was on.
‘Wherever you are Catherine Chandler, I’m gonna find you.’ Unknowingly both echoed the same thought as their taxi took them in opposite directions.
Joe never expected to get results on the first day. He’d allowed himself a week working flat out on it at the very least. Miracles didn’t happen to him. Though he checked himself, perhaps they did. Cathy was alive wasn’t she? So that was a miracle wasn’t it?
He alighted from his taxi and stepped out into the sunshine with a wry grin. “Looks like this will be a sun shade after all.” He paid the driver, and asked him to wait, but the driver said he’d have no trouble getting another cab on a day like today. The sun brought out the people, and that in turn brought out more cabs, there would be plenty.
So Joe alighted the steps into the hospital two at a time, intent on speaking to everyone that he met before he had enquired of the way to maternity.
As he turned the huge swing doors one way, a woman stepped into them from the other side. She looked friendly and at ease and he gestured to her through the glass, that he wanted her. For a moment they each went around and around trying to catch up with one another, until quite breathless Joe stopped revolving his door and waited for her to come back to him.
“You want me?” the woman asked, her face wreathed in smiles. Joe warmed to that smile. She really was an attractive lady. He wondered how he should answer, he wasn’t into chat up lines to strangers he met in the street.
“I’m looking for someone.” He told her at last, “A friend. I think she might be in maternity.”
The woman laughed, “That’s some question. There aren’t many reasons to need maternity. Are you a father, grandfather to be or what?"
Neither yet.” His eyes twinkled, “It’s just a friend.”
“Well maternity is on the fifth floor.”
“I’ve just been there, so yes I’m sure.”
“You didn’t by any chance see this lady up there did you?” Joe took a photograph of Catherine from a envelope from inside his pocket and handed it to the woman, who started to say something and stopped dead.
“This is your friend?” The woman enquired, her voice showing concern. She looked at Joe, searching his face, for clues wondering if she had ever seen him before. She was certain that she would have remembered if she had.
“Yes. Why?” Joe queried. The woman had gone very quiet all of the sudden.
“How do you know her?”
Joe looked up sharply. “She’s there isn’t she?” his delight was unmistakable.
“She’s my friend too. Look I don’t know who you are, or why you are here, but I think we should introduce ourselves. I’m Felicity Kendrick.”
A rush of relief ran through him. “Joe Maxwell. I’m from New York.”
“New York?” Felicity’s interest was evident.
“Has Cathy said anything about New York?”
“Yeah your, er our friend.”
“Her name’s Cathy?” Felicity’s surprise was evident in her tone.
Joe began to wonder if they were speaking about the same woman. “This is your friend isn’t it? Take a closer look?” he held the photograph before her again. He began to feel disappointment.
“Forget the picture Mr Maxwell, let me describe her to you. My friend is named Christina, but she looks the spitting image of the woman in this photograph, and she has one distinguishing mark, a scar about here, below her ear.”
Joe gasped, “It is Cathy! Please take me to see her.” He rose his eyes darting around looking for an elevator.
“Sit down Mr. Maxwell, Chris isn’t going anywhere. She’ll still be here when you and I have spoken. Look let’s swap notes shall we. Would you like to go for a coffee?”
Joe shook his head, “Someplace less crowded. My hotel room perhaps.”
Felicity’s eyes widened, “Whoa fast mover, we have only just met.”
Joe grinned, an endearing lopsided grin that Felicity warmed to at once, “Okay I can see you mean me no harm, and call me stupid, most people do, but I’m gonna trust you with my life. Besides anyone that carries a photo around with them of my best friend must be trustworthy I guess. Come, I’ll take you to my home.”
“Oh but I can’t, I mean I have to see Cathy first.”
“As I said Mr Maxwell,” Felicity took his arm and led him reluctantly back out into the sunshine, “Chris isn’t going anywhere, oh and don’t look now, but here comes her husband…”
Joe’s head had never swung around so fast, it reminded Felicity of a puppet, “I said don’t look now.” She laughed, then as they drew level with Jeff Downing as he mounted the steps, she called a greeting, “Hi Jeff.”
He stopped, looked at her, and took a couple of steps in her direction, before he changed his mind and carried onwards without a word.
“That her husband you say?” Joe looked on after the fellow, not liking him much at all.
“Afraid so Mr Maxwell. Look on second thoughts let’s stay around huh? Jeff causes trouble, he upsets Chris, and I wouldn’t mind betting he has something nasty to say to her that will upset her all over again. Let’s stick around huh, we can go back up when he’s left?”
Joe was more than happy with that suggestion, “Meanwhile you can fill me in on some facts.” He told her.
“Don’t you mean you fill me in. Look Mr Maxwell, I don’t know who you are, or what you are to Chris, but whatever you know don’t tell Jeff huh? He’s a mean one believe me, and the least he knows the better.”
Joe nodded, he felt immensely sad, and could not for the life of him understand why Catherine had ever married the guy to start with if he was as bad as this Felicity Kendrick made out.
Over a cup of coffee straight from the dispenser inside the hospital, Joe and Felicity stationed themselves outside the hospital doors, where they could see Jeff when he came out again and told one another all they knew of Catherine/Christina. Except Joe left out the bit about Vincent and the tunnel world. When he had finished, Felicity told him, “It all makes perfect sense now. You know she had forgotten about all that don’t you? Sometimes there were things though.” And she proceeded to tell him of the interest Christina had shown to the travel brochure about New York, and a few things she had said since.
“Tell me does the word kipper mean anything to you? Chris has bugged me with that for days.”
Joe shook his head. “I haven’t a clue, sorry. Maybe it was something she fancied when she was pregnant.”
Felicity smiled broadly, “One thing, just tell me one thing, you never mentioned it, but was Chris ever married before?”
Joe was guarded, throughout his explanations of Cathy’s life in the D.A. world he had omitted any of her private life. “Why do you ask?”
“The consultant mentioned that he had proof that Chris had had a child in the past, about four years ago, but Chris has no knowledge of this, do you know anything?” Secretly Felicity thought it would be a pretty weird working partnership if he didn’t.
Joe decided to give a little away, “Yes she had a child, just before she had ‘died’” he raised his hands and made the sign of inverted commas with his finger-tips either side of his head. “Did the consultant tell her this?”
“Yes, and its been driving her nuts, I can tell you.”
“Look Felicity, I haven’t been entirely honest with you, I do know more, a lot more about Catherine, but I have been asked not to say. This is something her partner wants her to remember for herself, for reasons known unto himself, and I made him a promise.”
Felicity nodded, she didn’t quite see the sense in that, but it was possibly more complex than she knew, and by the firm set of Joe’s jaw he wasn’t about to disclose another thing, even if she got down on her knees and kissed his feet. That thought brought about a wry grin to her lips, and she paused now, having nothing more and everything more to say, but knowing he would tell her nothing.
“So do we wait or what?” Joe was saying looking back towards the hospital doors, “Is there another exit?”
“Actually yes, but I can see Jeff’s car in the car park, so I know he’s still up there. But he is being an awfully long time, even for Jeff, come on we’ll go up anyway, perhaps we can clear him out. Chris has probably had just about enough of him by now I would say.”
They rose with one accord, and discarded their empty Styrofoam cups into a royal blue wastepaper bin provided, then walked side by side back towards the hospital doors. “So,” began Felicity, “Are you the chief or what?”
Joe’s face creased into a grin “Sure thing feathers an all.” He told her, his brown eyes twinkling, and Felicity couldn’t help but say, “Big Chief Running Ball. That is you keep ‘em running and on the ball. I bet its fun working for you.”
“Catherine could tell you that and then some.” He laughed until his laughter subsided to nothing and he added, “If she ever remembers.” They’d reached the hospital and entered, and were making their way to the elevator, when the car arrived at ground level and Jeff alighted from it. He stopped when he saw Felicity, his pleasure obvious in light of his earlier mood. “Won the lottery Jeff?” Felicity couldn’t help joke, but Jeff was not put out, “Better.” He waved some papers under her nose, “She signed the divorce papers.” He was so happy that Joe who had only just met the guy wanted to wipe the grin off his face, for doing that to Cathy at a time like this.
“What about the babies?” Felicity had a foreboding feeling she couldn’t quite place. Jeff looked too smug.
“I’ve got them too. Rosa had a change of heart, said she would look after them for me.”
“Jeff you can’t do that, that’s malicious, Chris will have no one left.”
But before Jeff could speak, Joe for reason known unto himself blurted “You haven’t any claim on them mate, you see Christina as you know her was never your wife. Her real name is Catherine and she was part of a witness protection scheme after losing her memory. And Catherine was already married. So mate that makes her a bigamist, and that means you were not legally married, plus, plus I might add that means that you will have a definite fight on your hands if you want a claim on her children.”
“And who the hell are you!” Jeff snapped and glared at Joe looking like he might blow a gasket at any moment. And as quick as a flash as if he had planned the whole thing Joe retorted, “My name is Vincent Wells and I’m her husband.”
For long moments the three stared at one another with disbelief. Joe sent sidelong glances to Felicity begging her silently, ‘don’t blow my cover, don’t blow my cover’, while Jeff quietly fumed. “You have documentation to prove this no doubt?”
“Of course, but not with me, its back at home.” Joe deliberately refrained from saying where home was. “So we were never married?” Jeff whispered and continued to shake his head with disbelief staring down at the papers he held in his hands, “And I never needed these…” he paused before shoving them into the nearest wastepaper bin.
“Gee I’m sorry mate. But what about the house our belongings half of everything. What about my daughters? I’ll fight you for them make no mistake.”
“As to her belongings I’ll drop by sometime and pick up her personal effects, but as to the babies well Catherine has more right to them than you, so I guess we’ll see you in court. Though just for the record you ought to know that both Catherine and I are qualified lawyers, so be warned.” They glared in silence at one another for long moments and then Joe added, “You can keep the furniture Catherine won’t need anything.”
Without a word about his daughters Jeff surprised Joe when he replied, “Why not? I mean there is so much stuff, surely you’ll want half of everything?” Jeff felt as if he were dreaming all of this and Felicity felt almost sorry for him, almost, he was acting like a man that had suddenly lost everything but had gained it all at the same time.
“My wife is a very wealthy woman Sir, she will have no need of anything she has accumulated here. It will be enough that I return her to our home in New York with the babies.”
Jeff nodded silently he still couldn’t believe half of what he was hearing. It was all so incredible, all such a relief.
He walked to one side of the couple, turning to look back from moment to moment, and Joe watched with some humour as Jeff walked out through the big swing doors into…hey when had it started raining!
Joe grinned, well would you believe it! He actually started to laugh. “Now doesn’t that just tell you something?”
Felicity caught his humour, “Do you mind telling me what all that was about?”
“Later. Would you just look at that. It’s raining, it’s actually raining. Is that an omen or what?” Jeff’s mood would be as black as the rain clouds no doubt. Felicity couldn’t keep up, so she just laughed at him, and waited until he let her in on everything that had just happened.
They waited for the elevator again, and before they stepped inside as it arrived Joe snatched up the signed divorce papers from out of the wastepaper bin, ‘Cathy will be needed these.’
Felicity couldn’t contain her curiosity any longer, “So who are you really? Are you Chris’s husband?”
Joe shook his head, “I wish.” He told her sadly, then his face lit up, “Hell no, I’m who I said I was, her boss Joe Maxwell.”
“Then who’s this Vincent Wells?”
“You mean her husband?”
“No I mean her partner, the father of her child.”
“Then who is her husband?”
“No one.” Joe smiled at her cheekily, “Cathy isn’t really married. Well only to that Jeff fellow.”
“Then why the farce, I don’t understand?”
Joe tapped Felicity’s forehead with the sheaf of papers, “You need the mind of a lawyer to work that one out. Let’s just say knowledge taught me to be inspirational and impulsive. I might not always be right, but I generally save the day.”
“Save the day?” Felicity wasn’t with him. Joe signed with exasperation. “Did I or did I not with my little farce back there save the fate of the babies?”
“Oooh.” Now she understood. Felicity clasped a hand to her mouth, “Very clever Joe.” Her eyes were bright. “That’s great, really great, well done.”
They reached a door, and Felicity knocked before turning the handle. For a moment Joe froze at the sound of a familiar and long missed voice of greeting, “Come in.” He swallowed hard before taking a deep breath and flouncing into the room, shouted, “Hi ya, Radcliffe, remember me!”
*** *** ***
New York, home. Home New York. Catherine couldn’t quite grasp the meaning of it all as she alighted from the aeroplane that had brought her, her daughters, Joe Maxwell, her friend Felicity and another investigator Diana Bennett back from Seattle.*** *** ***
That she had remembered some of her distant past did nothing to alleviate the nervousness she felt as she stepped into the taxi that Joe hailed for the six of them, as they stepped from the airport an hour later.
That morning when Joe had barged into her room shouting those words, Catherine had been instantly transported back to a time she could see oh so clearly. And for once she could grasp hold of the pictures searing through her mind with such tremendous force that she could hardly believe he was standing there in front of her at all.
“Joe!” Her obvious delight rocked him.
“You know me?” His eyes were beacons of blazing joy.
Catherine nodded, “How did I ever forget?” Even as she spoke the memories were crowding into her mind.
Her time in the office, the cases she had worked on, the field work she had done, the dangerous assignments, “Oh Joe I’ve missed you, and until now I never knew how much.”
“When did you remember honey?” Felicity came to stand by the bed.
“When Joe called me Radcliffe.”
“Not before?” Both Felicity and Joe cried together.
Catherine shook her head, “Not until then. Amazing isn’t it? The moment you called me Radcliffe everything rushed to my mind, Oh Joe, come here and let me hug you.”
They embraced and held one another for long moments, as the memories continued to fuse Catherine’s mind.
From then on Joe filled her in on everything that had happened. It was difficult leaving bits out, the bits about Vincent and the tunnel world, but Catherine made no mention of it either, which concerned Joe no end. She seemed to be remembering so much and so swiftly, but that part of her life remained elusive to her, she never even mentioned it once.
“Can you take me back Joe, oh!” Her voice grew distraught, and she looked at her two daughters as tears filled her eyes, “Jeff wants them Fliss, he wants the babies.”
“I know, but don’t worry Chris, your clever boss here has already sorted that out, the babies will go with you.”
“Is that so, how did you manage that Joe?”
“I have my ways, but it won’t be without price Cathy, I should think that once the man gets over his initial shock and thinks about it in detail, he’ll be after the girls again. How soon can you get out of here?”
“The consultant said I could leave today, but I didn’t know what to do. Fliss had left and hadn’t arrived home, because the desk has been trying to contact her, and then Jeff came and dropped his bombshell. And I was thinking about how to smuggle the babies away before he came back later to collect them. He’s only gone to get Rosa to help him, he could be back at any moment.”
“Oh I think he will take longer than you think, I left his mind in a bit of a whirl, what I told him will take some getting used to, but still there’s no time like the present. Can you get ready now Cathy, you can come back to my hotel with me, and we can fly back to New York on the first flight out of here.”
“Can I come too?” Felicity asked, “It wouldn’t take me long to pack.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way Fliss, but do me one favour huh?”
“Call me Cathy from now on?”
Felicity smiled, “I’d like nothing better, after all Fliss and Chris did have an awful ring to it didn’t it?” The two women laughed, and after hugging one another tightly, they proceeded to pack Catherine’s belongings, and prepare for her flight home.
Now as they stepped out into the New York sunshine Joe felt good, so good inside, “You’ll have to go to a hotel for a few days Cathy, your own apartment was sold. I’ll see if I can find you something in the meantime, I guess you’ll be wanting to find your own home eventually.”
Catherine nodded, but knew that she would never be able to afford one until her other house was sold.
Felicity had never been to New York, and Joe promised he would show her around as soon as he cleaned up some paper work. Reluctantly he left Catherine and Felicity at the hotel and made his way back to his office. At least that’s what he told them, he detoured first, there was someone waiting for news and he knew they would be eager to learn all he had discovered. Diana accompanied him in silence, both their minds racing with so many things, and neither looked forward to what they had to say.
Entering the tunnel world was cool and damp after the heat from the sunshine, and Joe shivered. “Gets you like that doesn’t it?” Diana commented, “And it’s not just the change in temperature is it?”
Joe shook his head, “She never even mentioned him Diana. What am I supposed to say?”
Almost before the words were out of his mouth, the huge sliding door of the entrance to the tunnel world slid back to reveal Vincent, Jacob and Jamie standing there. Vincent’s eyes registered surprise when he saw them there, “Joe, Diana, when did you two get back?”
“How did you know we were here?”
“I didn’t. Jacob wanted to come Above. Jamie was bringing him up to the park.”
Diana and Joe exchanged glances, they had been told of the child’s connection with his mother with some disbelief, but now they weren’t so sure.
“Hello young man.” Diana addressed the child, “Drawn by the thought of sunshine were we?”
Jacob shook his head, “Is she with you?”
“Who?” Diana noted Vincent’s gasp of surprise.
“My mother. Did you bring her back to us?”
“Jacob?” Vincent enquired for he knew not what.
Jacob turned luminous eyes to his father, “I felt her daddy, the feeling was stronger than ever, I can feel her now.” His lips trembled and his eyes filled with tears. Jamie clutched at Vincent’s sleeve for support not realising she held her breath. Something about Diana and Joe’s faces made her heart sear with hope.
The blue of Vincent’s eyes seemed to penetrate straight into Diana’s soul and she could deny him nothing. “Yes.” She heard herself say, “Yes we found Catherine, or rather Joe did, and we have brought her back to New York, but Vincent…” Diana’s voice shook with sadness, “Jacob…” she smiled a watery smile at the child unable to go on.
“She doesn’t remember us does she?” Vincent asked at last.
Diana shook her head sadly, but it was Joe that spoke, “No I’m sorry Vincent, she remembered so much, but this place and you wasn’t a part of that. I’m so sorry and I can’t understand it, but she never mentioned or hinted at you once.”
“She will do dad, she will do, she has to!” Jacob cried, burying his face against his father’s long cloak, “She has to, she has to.” His tears were hard and fast, and Joe thought it best to leave them awhile, “I’ll call to see you this evening, we have things we must do first. I promise, we’ll return and we’ll fill you in, tell you everything you need to know. I’m sorry Vincent, I’m so sorry.” Joe took the big guy’s furry hand and shook it in his own. Never had Joe felt so terrible. He was sorry too, really sorry, despite the things he had told Vincent before he’d left for Seattle, he knew that Catherine belonged only to Vincent, and though he had brought her back, and though he was happy to have her back, he felt somehow that he had failed. Because Catherine Chandler still remained every bit as lost to the ones that had needed her the most as she had ever been.
*** *** ***
After Joe and Diana had left that evening, Father, Vincent and a few of the other tunnel folk remained seated around the chamber in silence. Their hearts felt heavy deepened by the fact that Vincent still insisted that they should leave well alone.
“I don’t understand Vincent.” Pascal was first to voice an opinion and break the silence, “You said that if she were happy we should leave her be, but surely even you can’t deny that this isn’t the case. A woman, just regaining her memory, with two babies to bring up, alone…” He got no further as Vincent interrupted “She’s not alone, she has this friend, this, this, Felicity…” But Father cut him short, “And how long do you think she will stay Vincent? Her home is in Seattle she couldn’t stay indefinitely. Look at it logically for goodness sake. Cathy has no one, no job no home, no money or have you forgotten that? She might be back but can she use her old name? No. Shall I tell you why? Do I have to do? You heard what Joe said.”
All eyes turned to Vincent, yes they had all heard what Joe had said. No one knew how dangerous New York was for Catherine, even now. So far no one, it would seem knew of her return, but if she returned to the D.A’s office, if she took back the name of Catherine Chandler, someone would know, and who knew where Gabriel was? Would Gabriel stop to think about Catherine’s loss of memory, would he even believe in it?
“She’ll be safe with us Vincent. You know it would make sense. We have to let Joe tell her, we have to let her down here with us, we have no choice.”
Vincent swung on them, “No!” He stormed, “Catherine has a life now. Two children to care for, she will pick up the pieces, she will make a new life for herself. Aren’t you forgetting what Diana said?” He searched their faces one by one, “Diana saw Gabriel, she knows him by sight, he knows that, yet has he had her terminated? No. And why not? Because he obviously can’t, and why not? Because he’s dead and none of you, none of you saw the injuries these hands inflicted upon him, he would have died from those injuries, why he was almost dead when I left him. He’s dead I tell you, and Catherine will be safe. Joe will see that she is cared for somehow, in some way, but I cannot allow you to remind her of me. Catherine must be allowed to live the life she were born for. She must!”
Silence filled the chamber once again. As sad as all this was perhaps Vincent did have a point. It was hard to do as he asked but to bring Catherine back to a world beneath the city streets, when she had no need of it did seem wrong. But they had all witnessed that love, that unbelievable love that had lived between Vincent and Catherine, and not one of them felt anything but sadness to know that they would never live in hope of its fulfilment again. Vincent had let the dream die, and they could see that despite his courage how badly that affected him too.
Slowly one by one, the tunnel dwellers made their exit, laying a firm hand on Vincent’s shoulder in passing, without a word, until Mouse passed by, “She’ll remember Vincent. Cathy will. Has to. Has to.” And those words being an echo of his own son’s earlier made the threatened tears fall down Vincent’s cheeks faster and faster as if they might never stop.
*** *** ***
Life was terrific, it couldn’t have been better, and Felicity knew without a doubt that she would install an agent to sell her house in Seattle and move to New York, not just to be with her dear friend Cathy, but because she and Joe were becoming an item now.
Cathy teased her about it mercilessly, “You see I told you Mr Right was only around the corner.”
“Bloody big corner Chri...sorry I mean Cath... hey don’t blame me, old habits die hard.” Felicity referred to the name change, as Catherine laughed heartily. “Okay, okay so four thousand kilometres was a big corner, but you turned it didn’t you, and look what was waiting when you did.”
Felicity grinned from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat, “You did it you know. You gave me that darn newspaper to read while the doc took your temperature that morning.”
“What are you gabbling on about now?” Catherine laughed. Sometimes it was hard to keep up with her friend’s train of thought.
“That morning, when the consultant came around to see if you were well enough to go home, remember, I couldn't wait for the results, but while I waited until he finished his tests you handed me that paper to read.”
“Yeah so?” Catherine folded her arms, her eyes bright with humour.
“I noticed my star sign. Usually its something I would never read, but I got curious that’s all, and that’s what clinched it.”
“Clinched it?” Catherine laughed harder now, whatever was Fliss on about?
“It told me that Mr Right was coming in the guise of a good looking guy who was going to have me in a spin, and I’d never look back.”
Catherine remained silent waiting.
“Well you know?” Felicity went on, “Joe came through them revolving doors and we went around and around trying to meet up with one another to speak, and if that’s not putting me in a spin I’d like to know what was!”
Catherine burst into laughter, “Well there’s no arguing with that Fliss. Pity you didn’t read mine while you were at it.” Her voice softened and became sadder somehow causing Felicity to look up sharply, “Don’t you remember anything else Cathy?”
Felicity shook her head.
“Do you know something?” Catherine stared at her friend, “You do! Come on give, what do you know?”
“I can’t tell you Cathy, I’m sorry. I promised.”
“Promised who? Joe? What does he know that he won’t tell me?”
Felicity looked down at her feet, wishing the ground to open and swallow her.
“You’ll have to ask Joe, I’m sorry Cathy.”
Catherine looked at her friend for long moments, “Don’t worry I aim to, and now!” She snatched up the telephone, and dialled the number Joe had left her for his office. He answered it almost at once.
“What’s wrong? Has something happened?”
“You bet your life on it something has happened, when were you going to tell me that you are withholding information?”
“Information Joe, about me, my life, that is my past life?” Catherine snapped impatiently.
“Fliss told you?” He sounded indignant.
“No, she won’t tell me anything. It was something she said in passing that made me suspicious, but you have confirmed it, so tell me Joe, now!”
“I can’t Cathy I’m sorry, the information isn’t mine to give. I promised.”
“What is all this promising. Fliss promised you, you promised someone else, Tell me god dammit!”
“Sorry Cathy, you won’t hear it from me. Now can you put Fliss on?”
“No!” Catherine slammed down the receiver advancing on her friend. “Tell me, tell me what you know. Please?”
It was that last word, that last word please that was Fliss’s undoing. Making a silent plea for Joe not to be angry with her Fliss told Catherine what she knew. “It isn’t much. Joe didn’t say much.” She faltered at first.
“But you know more than me, and this is my life, my past, not yours. Why should you know it and not me, what business is it of yours?”
Put like that, it did seem unfair. Felicity sat down upon one of the hotel’s plush armchairs, noticing for the first time a loose thread in the gold braiding, and picked at it absentmindedly as she spoke. “When Joe and I first met I asked him about the consultant’s belief that you’d had a child before…” She paused.
“And?” Catherine’s face was like thunder, she demanded every ounce of flesh. Felicity trembled under the gaze of those stormy grey green eyes.
“And Joe confirmed it, he told me you had had a child, just before you were presumed dead.”
“So where is that child now, did he tell you?”
“I never asked, and no he didn’t say. He only went on to tell me that your partner didn’t want you to be reminded of him.”
“Why ever not?” Alarm bells sounded in the back of Catherine’s mind sending shivers along her spine.
“I don’t know Cathy.”
“And is that all you know?” Felicity was about to tell her friend everything including all she had heard Joe tell Jeff, but as Cathy presumed Felicity to know only from that minimal exchange with Joe, Felicity decided to remain quiet about that, putting on a good enough act for Catherine not to be suspicious.
But Catherine’s next question almost made Felicity wince.
“And that was it, Joe never told you any names, nothing?”
Felicity found she couldn’t meet Catherine’s eyes. “No.” She told her friend firmly.
Felicity looked up meeting Catherine’s eyes. “Is that all of it? Are you certain there’s nothing more, no names, nothing?”
This time Felicity couldn’t deny her friend, “There is a bit more.” She whispered, and heard Catherine sigh raggedly.
“Go on, tell me.”
“I can’t Cathy, please don’t ask me. I love you, and I don’t know why Joe forbade me to tell you, or why your partner forbade Joe to tell you, but if Joe knows I have told you this he won’t trust me anymore. And Cathy...” Her lips trembled, “ I think I am falling in love with the guy, so please don’t ask me any more questions. I don’t want to lose him because of this.”
Catherine understood albeit reluctantly, it was wrong to put her friend on the spot like this. “All right, I’ll leave it for now, but thank you for telling me about the child. Where there’s a will there’s a way so to speak.”
“How do you mean?” Felicity eyes were cautious.
“My name was Catherine Chandler right?”
“I died right?”
“Well…” Felicity began.
“Well in theory anyway.” Catherine went on, her eyes growing brighter and brighter as fresh ideas loomed.
“Maybe my tombstone will tell me something, and then even if it should not, then maybe the registrar of births, deaths and marriages will tell me everything else.”
“But you need dates Cathy, or they will take years to go through.”
“But I have a date.”
Felicity looked up intrigued.
“The baby was born as I died, and my tombstone will give the date I died, so I’ll start there. And hopefully my child’s birth certificate will show me its father’s name, and then perhaps I will remember. Surely I will remember something as important as that?”
Catherine looked so wildly ecstatic that Felicity hated to disillusion her, “Maybe not Cathy. You didn’t remember Jeff did you?”
Catherine’s mouth dropped open wide, her eyes lost their lustre. No, she hadn’t thought of that, and the very idea was terrible. A wave of nausea washed over her then a firm resolve; “I’m still going to try Fliss. As it is so much is kept from me, something must jog my memory, and at least I will be doing all I can to remember.” She walked to the window, overlooking the Hudson River, “I’m going to remember Fliss, I’m going to remember everything. Everything.” And Catherine had the weirdest feeling that even that word alone meant something very important to her, if only she could remember what.
*** *** ***
If believing Catherine to be out of reach due to death was bad enough, then knowing Catherine was out of reach due to memory loss was quite another. Vincent didn’t ever think that having his wish come true of Catherine being alive would ever have brought him such pain.
Yet he told himself repeatedly it was the right thing to do.
The fact that they had known one another once, and had loved, something he had no recollection of, had nothing to do with the here and now.Because Catherine had advanced.
At some stage she had been married to someone else, even if Joe did insist that the match was not a happy one, in fact, so much so, that Catherine couldn’t even remember it. But the fact remained that she had two daughters by this unknown man, and that in itself tormented Vincent. To think that some other man had been intimate with her, that she had forgotten him, and allowed some other man to touch her, marry her, have his babies, almost tore Vincent apart.
And Jacob was inconsolable.
He begged and begged his father to change his mind, he wanted so much to see his mother, but Vincent was unrelenting time and again.
“Ple-a-se.” Jacob wailed over and over with his little body shaking with sobs, and Vincent felt torn in two.
“No Jacob.” He would firmly say, “Your mother is lost to us.”
“But if she were told, if she saw me...” Jacob’s bottom lip had trembled and his eyes had filled with tears on more than one occasion when they’d had this conversation, and Vincent found it so terribly hard to refuse, that it was making him lose his grip on his sanity.
Father worried about him incessantly, he’d seen Vincent put himself through a similar stage in the past, and this was all so unnecessary. He tried to intervene, but Vincent would have none of it, “Father Please! I have made up my mind. Catherine has forgotten me, and its best that she has, she can get on with her life now, she doesn’t need me.”
“You’re wrong Vincent.” Father would say shaking his head, “So very wrong.” But Vincent was adamant, and he would not be swayed by anyone.
*** *** ***
Being in a graveyard was more of a revelation than Catherine had presumed. Not having a clue as to where to look, she had given herself plenty of time, while pushing her two daughters around in their pram. And it was such a lovely day, that despite the sadness of being there, Catherine soon found herself absorbed in reading the very many verses set out upon the tombstones.
She had been there quite some time when the first double grave she came across startled her. The names Charles and Caroline Chandler jumped out at her. Those were the names of the people Joe had said were her parents.
For long moments Catherine stared down at the graves. Her heart hurt very much. She could only remember her mother yet they had both been her parents. Why was it that she could remember Joe of all people, but not the father who had caused her birth? It was soul destroying, and Catherine didn’t think she would be able to go on. It was only the thought that maybe her own tombstone lay around about somewhere near to her parents that kept her moving on.
And she was right. Yet Catherine had been unprepared for the endless stream of tears that fell, when her eyes beheld the plaque that bore her own name, and also the mound of long stem red roses that someone had placed frequently by the look of it, upon the surface of the earth. That hurt too. Who loved her so much to do this so often? Was it the man who refused to come forward now, the man who had fathered her child?
Almost on cue with her grief a cloud passed over the sun, and Catherine grew chilly as a cool wind sprung up.
The evening before when she had been speaking with Joe about coming here, and he had been against it at first, but she had reasoned that somewhere lay the key to her remembering everything, or perhaps it lay with someone. It had been almost a month, and she had remembered no more than Joe. Even her working days at the D.A.’s office were hazy as if some of the pieces to the puzzle were missing.
Joe had run her through some names, and Catherine thought about that now.
“Do you remember Isaac, he taught you self defence?” Joe had asked her.
Catherine had shaken her head, she couldn’t even remember taking any classes, “Why did I do that?” She’d asked him, “Did I have to learn for the sake of my job?”
Joe had shaken his head, “You don’t remember why?” Catherine had assured him that she didn’t.
“Do you know how you came to get that scar beneath your ear?” Joe asked somewhat nervously, it had never been a subject he’d like to bring up.
Catherine touched the scar, even now remembering the evening before when she had done the same, she had always wondered how she had got it. Joe had seemed shocked when she told him she didn’t know, and she had been annoyed when he’d refused to tell her.
There was so much he wouldn’t say, and she found herself wanting to scream at him sometimes. Why the big secret anyway?
“How about your GP, do you remember him?” Catherine could still see the look of surprise on Joe’s face when she told him that she didn’t. “You don’t remember Peter Alcott?” Even the name didn’t ring any bells. “Good God Cathy, he brought you into the world, and took care of you all your life, even stepping into your father’s shoes when he died. Peter was like a father to you.” But Catherine couldn’t remember him or her father. Her mother though, now this was weird, her mother’s face swam before her, somewhat hazily but there none the less, and confirmed by a photograph that Joe had unearthed of her mother, but Catherine had no recollection of her father.
Joe thought he’d hit the jackpot when he drew on another name, she’d surely know this one, “How about Elliott Burch?”
Catherine could remember the annoyance on his face when she had mouthed the name and had shaken her head.
“Oh come on Cathy. Why me? Why did you remember me and no one else in your life? I suppose I should be flattered but somehow I’m not. All right then how about some of your friends, does Jenny Aronson mean anything to you?”
Catherine gasped as a dear face floated before her, her eyes lit up, before filling with tears, “Yes.” She had whispered hoarsely, “Jenny and Nancy I remember them, they’re friends of mine aren’t they?”
Joe had looked so happy, like he’d hit the jackpot, and had promised to contact them that very night and have them come over to the apartment she’d rented the following evening to see her.
Catherine found she could hardly wait. She checked her watch, only another five hours to go before they were due to arrive. Perhaps they could fill in some of the missing pieces. If she had been able to remember their telephone numbers, she would have called them in advance. For she had a funny feeling that Joe would get to them first and tell them not to mention certain things. But why, why? Why was it that things were being kept from her, and by whom?
As the sun came out again from behind the cloud, Catherine scribbled down the information that she needed to complete her task. Then leaving her grave behind, which caused a momentary shiver to pass through her at how weird that was, she made her way to The City Hall, and to any information that she could find there. Thank goodness she’d had the foresight to refrain from telling Joe about that, she wouldn’t have put it past him to sabotage the whole event, and have important pages removed or something so that she drew a blank again.
Births, deaths and marriages were located on the ground floor, in an office just off to one side of City Hall. Catherine was happy to note that the door was open and that she hadn’t come on one of the very many days, she could see by the sign when the office was closed. She told the clerk why she was there, but found that things were a lot harder than she supposed.
“I’m sorry madam, but these are confidential documents, unless you can tell me anything at all I cannot even begin to look anything up for you.”
Catherine was stumped, the child’s mother she might be, but without a name for the child, she had nothing to present. She tried telling the clerk that she had amnesia and only had so many facts, but he was adamant, no details no additional information it was as simple as that. And she couldn’t even give her old name, because for all intents and purposes she was dead, and Joe had told her better that she kept half of her married name to avoid interest in those that had known her. So all the ID she had on her bore the name of Catherine Downing and that was no help at all.
Depressed and frustrated Catherine returned to the apartment. So now it was down to Nancy and Jenny, in the hope that they would provide something to turn the key in her mind. It was all so annoying but it was all she had left open to her now.
The evening was wonderful though. The moment Jenny and Nancy followed by Paul and their two children walked through the door, Catherine burst into tears. She remembered them all, and everything they had shared swamped her mind all at once, like someone scrolling back the events on her entire life save for the missing parts. Joe didn’t show, and neither did Felicity, for which Catherine was grateful, but that didn’t mean that Joe hadn’t already spoken to her friends. Yet Catherine knew that they wouldn’t withhold anything from her, she was certain of it.
It was so good to see them again. The tears flowed all night and Jenny had to keep touching Catherine just to make sure that she was really there, “I can’t believe it Cathy, this is great. How many other people get a loved one returned to them who they believe to have died? Oh Cathy I’ve missed you so much.”
“Jenny there is something I need to ask you, and you too Nancy.” She drew her other friend into the conversation as they sat munching slices of raw carrot around the table. Paul was watching some television with the children, and the two babies were sound asleep.
Fire away Cathy, we’ll help in any way we can.” Jenny told her.
“Parts of my life are missing. That is I don’t yet remember everything. Joe is withholding something important from me, and for some reason I feel I shouldn’t bombard you two with too many questions, but tell me do either of you know if I was attached to someone before I disappeared?”
“Attached as in love?” Jenny asked intrigued.
Jenny shook her head, but Nancy smiled, “There was someone.” She told her two friends.
“Someone special?” Catherine could hardly dare to breathe.
“Special enough to leave my place at three in the morning and drive all the way back here in my car. You and he were undergoing some problems Cathy, but you sorted them out at my place and came rushing back here to tell him.”
“Do you know his name?”
Nancy shook her head, “I knew it once Cathy, but it was a long time ago, I’m sorry I can’t remember now. Why what is it?”
“I don’t know Nance, it’s just that somehow not knowing about that part if my life is tearing me apart. It seems to me that the missing part holds the key to remembering the rest. I’m sure Joe knows but he won’t tell me anything.”
“Its one of those ghastly occasions when you just want to turn back the hands of time isn’t it, and know that its impossible?” Jenny told her friend.
“I don’t know Jen,” Nancy began, “Having Cathy back sure feels like that’s what has happened. After all she never died at all, and I for one feel as if I’ve been transported back in time to five years ago. And I know for a certainty that I am going to blot out all the hours of grieving for her from my mind, like they never happened. Cathy it’s so good to see you again. It’s like a prayer that was answered.”
“And there’s been some, I can vouch for that.” Paul had caught the tail end of his wife’s statement, “And I’ll second that too. Its great to have you back Cathy.”
“I wish I could say the same, but I never knew. I forgot you all, I’m sorry. All that time you grieved for me, I was living another life in Seattle, I didn’t even know I’d lost my memory, I didn’t know so many things that I am learning now.”
“Then how can you be so sure that there was someone special in your life, what makes you so certain that knowing the answer will help you remember everything else? Perhaps there is nothing else, perhaps you have remembered everything” Jenny suggested.
But Catherine shook her head. They hadn’t mentioned anything about her having a child, so she hadn’t pursued it, so she couldn’t tell them how she knew there was more, and it was becoming increasingly obvious that very few did know of the child, and why was that?
The more she thought about it, the more frustrating it became, and long into the evening after her friends had left promising to call again soon, Catherine sat well into the night racking her brains for anything that might help her to unlock the mystery in her mind.
*** *** ***
Peter and Joe’s combined visit was a surprise. And they were the last people Vincent had expected to see one Saturday afternoon, about eleven weeks after Catherine’s return to New York. And not only that by the look on their faces, this was no social call either.
“Vincent, I’m pleased to see you are here.” Peter came down the steps extending his hand.
“Why shouldn’t I be?” Vincent smiled.
“You may have taken the children off on an underground expedition, Joe was just saying it would be just our luck to have come all this way and have found you’d done that.” Vincent cast Joe a sidelong glance and found the other man grinning also.
“So what can I do for you, obviously you want something from me?” Vincent felt his defences rising, if this had something to do with Catherine, they could forget it. It had been a long three months, and he had barely survived, but now it was just becoming easier, though Jacob still fretted about it often.
“Ordinarily I would have let sleeping dogs lie Vincent, just like you suggested, but I’m sorry to have to say that things aren’t going quite to plan.” Peter tested the atmosphere, watching for any signs that might show him they were on dangerous ground here.
“Where’s Father?” Peter looked all around him, only just realising that the older man’s presence was absent.
“He’ll be along shortly, no doubt he heard your arrival announced. He went to the kitchen for some biscuits.” Vincent told them matter of factly with no expression to his tone.
He’s wary, Peter thought, I must tread carefully.
“You know why we’re here?”
“Not exactly, no doubt it’s coming though?”
Peter smirked, one corner of his mouth lifting, “Yes. It’s Catherine.”
Vincent shuffled in his seat, “You know my views Peter, I cannot help you.”
“You may have to back down on your views Vincent.” Vincent remained silent, his eyes ever watchful.
“Catherine’s memory remains elusive to her. Even after all this time. There are things she has remembered, but a great part of her life is lost, I brought Joe along to let you hear his theory.”
Peter looked to Joe, and Joe started speaking quietly ever mindful of Vincent’s temper, as was Peter.
“Its like there is a missing link. Everything that has something to do with you, she has forgotten. She knows me, and Jenny and her friend Nancy from Westport, but she doesn’t know anyone that knows you. Neither can she remember the attack that led to the night you found her. She knows she has a scar, but not how she got it.” Joe paused watching for any sign, any sign at all that would show that Vincent understood where they were heading.
“Joe believes as do I Vincent, that you are that key. If you could just see her...” Vincent made to move and Peter hurried on, “we believe that she will remember everything, once she remembers you.”
Vincent had stood and had started pacing the floor, just as Father entered the chamber, he had overheard the last few sentences, and was clearly concerned.
“Vincent you must see her.” Father told his son. “If Catherine is to get well you owe it to her.”
“And then what? Has no one thought past this so-called key? What if she should remember? Do you think she will thank you for that? Catherine has a life, with me she has no such life.”
“No Vincent you are placing too much import on her coming back to you.” All heads swung around to look at Joe. Who suddenly looked sheepish. He grinned, “I mean once she knows everything, she might decide that she is better off living the life she was born for.” Joe chose his words very carefully. He didn’t want to tread on any toes here, least of all any large furry ones.
But Vincent was nodding, accepting this, and Joe grew hopeful. “Perhaps you could just speak to her. Your voice Vincent that might be all it takes. Just to let her hear you speak, perhaps you could meet her somewhere, talk to her.”
“I could not do that. It might help Catherine, but it would not help me. I couldn’t do that, it would be too painful to see her and not to touch her. I couldn’t do that.” His voice filled with emotion and cracked at the last. Father hurried to place his arm around his son’s shoulders.
Joe had a sudden idea.
“I’ve got a tape recorder in my pocket, never travel without one, you could speak into that, and I’ll let her listen to it. How about that Vincent?”
Vincent wasn’t at all happy about that but how could he not help Catherine? He loved her despite his feelings, and it was such a little thing. He needn’t tell her anything, he need only to recite some prose. Something to jog her memory, the rest then would be up to her.
He nodded, and everyone exhaled a breath. Vincent smiled at them. By the look of some of their faces they had held their breath for some moments while he decided.
“I’ll quote something that was especially important to the two of us.” He told them, “Here show me how it works, and I will use it in my chamber.”
Joe showed Vincent where to press. There were only four buttons after all. Stop, start, record and pause, and Vincent left the three men while he went to make his recording.
In his absence the three chatted about Catherine quietly together, though both Peter and Joe found Father to be an avid listener as if he couldn’t get enough of the topic of conversation.
“You miss her don’t you Jacob?” Peter asked as he leaned forward to pat Father’s arm.
“Is it so obvious?” The older man had tears in his eyes. “It all seems so unfair. She should be here, with Vincent and their child. She has a life here, I cannot begin to imagine what will happen if she decides against this.”
“She might well do Jacob, you have to be prepared for that. She knows that her partner doesn’t want to make contact. When she remembers she may conclude as does Vincent that they are better off apart.” Peter told him as gently as he could.
“Surely not. Surely she’ll want to see her own son?”
“Maybe, but she has her daughters now. In the face of it, she may decide to give all her love to them and forget the child that she never knew.”
“What are the two girls like, do they look anything like Catherine?” Father asked, hoping for a positive answer.
Joe nodded, “Peter hasn’t seen them. Catherine wouldn’t go to him. She chose another GP, as soon as she knew she had known him and couldn’t remember. But yes, the girls are like Catherine, they don’t resemble Jeff at all, thank goodness.”
“What did she call them?”
“Ruth and Naomi.”
“Oh that’s lovely and Biblical too.”
There was silence for a few moments. Then Father asked, “Do you think that she will come back to us?” He looked hopefully at Peter for the reply.
“Who can say? Would Vincent allow her back?” They had no time to dwell on that as a rustle in the doorway announced Vincent’s return. He’d overheard Peter’s question, “If she remembers, then she knows where to find me.” He spoke softly, and only Father knew the pain he was feeling at answering this way. The thought that Catherine might now remember everything and then not return was more traumatic than insisting that she not be told about him to start with.
“It’s done.” Vincent handed Joe the tape “I’ve quoted a passage from Jane Ayre. It holds meaning for Catherine and I.”
Joe shook his hand as he took the tape from him there was nothing more he could say. Vincent looked as if he might burst into tears at any moment anyway. “We’ll see she gets it tonight.” Peter spoke in Joe’s place, rising to leave.
Vincent nodded, “I hope it helps.” He told them gruffly, before turning away and heading back to his chamber.
“This will have affected him badly.” Father watched his son’s retreating back. “But Lord I hope it brings her back to us.”
Peter and Joe agreed at once, “We hope so too.”
Joe trusted the tape with no one. It was late but he took the tape straight around to the apartment. Felicity had moved out now, and had rented an apartment two floors down, but Joe was happy to find her with Catherine when he called.
“You looking for me lover?” Felicity asked when she opened the door to him.
Joe grinned, “Of course. Can I come in?”
“What do you say Cathy, can we let this loveable hunk in?”
Joe heard Catherine’s laughter, but didn’t wait for a reply, “I’ve got something for her.” He told Felicity, “Something that might help with her memory.”
Catherine was in the kitchen making up two bottles of formula. She had breast fed the babies for as long as possible, but their hungry appetites were more than she could supply, and she’d had to switch to formula a couple of weeks earlier. Though that had its own drawbacks until her GP had told her to mix some colic relief in with the milk. Since then Catherine could have kissed the man now that she was getting some real sleep since she had started using it.
“You look radiant.” Joe came across to Catherine as she exited the kitchen, “Motherhood agrees with you.”
“Thank you Joe. Hey did I hear you say you have something for me?”
“Sure do.” Joe extracted the tape recorder from his pocket. It was the last thing Catherine had expected to see. “Sorry Joe I’ve already got one of those.” She told him smiling impishly.
“Good then you’ll have something to play this on.” He told her extracting the tape from inside of the recorder and handing it to her.
“What’s this?” Catherine held the tiny tape in the palm of her hand.
“Something to jog your memory. Hey don’t play it now, wait until we’ve gone. We’ll be downstairs.”
Joe took Felicity’s arm, but she protested, “Hey I wasn’t ready for leaving.”
“You are now. Come, leave Cathy to listen in peace.”
Felicity smiled at her friend, “What am I to do with him?”
“I’m sure you’ll think of something.” Catherine laughed walking to the door with them.
“You’ll call if you remember anything?” Felicity was concerned and immensely intrigued.
“I’ll call I promise. Now scoot.” Catherine laughed, “You are so transparent you know that?”
“Well I want to know as much as you do.” Catherine laughed harder as she heard Felicity complaining while she closed the door behind them.
Heading for the bedroom she turned the tape over and over in her hand. What could possibly be on it that could jog her memory? Catherine smiled impishly maybe it wouldn’t help at all, maybe Joe had just recorded one of his bath time songs for her to listen to instead.
Checking on the babies and happy to find them sleeping peacefully, Catherine settled herself onto the sofa and put the tape into the recorder. It had already been rewound, so she switched it on and waited for she knew not what.
At first there was nothing, just unusual background sounds that were vaguely familiar, and then the sound of someone drawing a deep breath, the rustle of pages, the sound of scratching (as Vincent drew one clawed finger down the lines of the page), and then...
Catherine gasped. All it had taken was one word. One spoken word and already the fog penetrating her mind began to lift clean away, and with each word that followed the memories returned almost as if someone had lifted a veil on her life. Every memory returned in full force. Her open mouth breathed one word, “Vincent.” Her eyes dancing lights of joy, her heart hammering hard against her ribs, the tears gathering and falling faster than she could ever brush them away, “Oh my God Vincent.” Her words were choked with emotion, “How could I have ever forgotten you?”
*** *** ***
In two minds Vincent was undecided. He had deliberately not discussed Catherine with his son, knowing how Jacob felt about the whole issue, but he was eager to know how Catherine had accepted the tape with his reading of Jane Ayre upon it.
Surely she could not fail to be moved by it, surely something would jog her memory? He could well remember how she had loved listening to him read and how the sound of his voice would thrill and soothe her in the same instance.
Now despite his earlier misgivings and his earlier belief that he should stay away from Catherine, he literally ached to know if she had remembered anything, anything at all, that might bring him hope.
He wanted so much to have her back in his arms. If things were different, if he was different he would want nothing more than a life with her and to have her back with him, with Jacob, to build a life together, here beneath the city streets. He would grow to love her daughters because they were a part of her, and Father had told him that Joe had said they looked nothing like the man who had fathered them. So there would be no reminders in the children of the life Catherine had been forced to live when he had believed her to be dead.
But somehow he concluded that this was a dream that would never be. Too much time had passed and Catherine had now had a measure of the life she’d been born for and would not want to turn her back on that.
His voice might provide the key to unlock all her memories but any chance of her coming down to the tunnels to seek him out was very remote. She had moved on, had another life to live now, a life without shadows, and though Vincent felt that he should rejoice, he found that he could not. He loved her and he would always love her, and life without her was no life at all.
The desire to seek out his son was too great however, Vincent had to know something, anything, and he found his son within his chamber, in a small hollowed out alcove that Jacob had been given for a room to call his own.
“Daddy.” Jacob’s delight at seeing his father at this time of day appealed to Jacob greatly. Usually Vincent worked all through the day, and they wouldn’t see one another until well into the evening.
“Are you reading Jacob, did I disturb you?” Vincent noticed the books scattered at his son’s feet, where he lay sprawled tummy side down upon the rug upon the chamber floor.
“Its all right daddy, I wasn’t really reading.” He looked at his father sheepishly, “I was thinking about mummy.”
Vincent felt a ripple of apprehension slither through his body. He was loath to ask, but asked anyway, “Do you know what she is doing right now?”
Wide-eyed with disbelief Jacob wound his body around to a sitting position. His father actually asking questions about his mother, now that was a first? Over the past few weeks, Vincent had prevented any discussion on the subject.
“She’s happy. I can feel how happy she is. She’s been happy all day, but now she is even happier.” Jacob’s eyes shone, and Vincent identified with that kind of happiness, it radiated from his son.
“Can you see what she is doing?” Vincent whispered with half of him not wanting to know at all.
“She’s looking at something across the city. I can see the city lights in her mind.”
Vincent knew that Catherine had moved into an apartment overlooking the Hudson River, but he did not know exactly where. He had wanted it that way. Without the Bond, he had no way of going to her even if he should be tempted to do so.
The picture Jacob’s words represented could mean anything though, it did not necessarily mean that Catherine had listened to the tape and was remembering him. Her happiness could be for any number of reasons. Vincent found that speaking to his son had not given him any hope at all, just confused him even more.
“Will she be coming back daddy?” Jacob could not keep the tremor out of his voice and Vincent knelt down and held his son against him, “I don’t know Jacob.” He whispered, and then he uttered words that surprised even him as he rocked his son gently in his arms, “but I hope so Jacob. I really hope so.”
*** *** ***
Staring out across the city lights, Catherine was grateful that she wasn’t back in her old apartment overlooking the park. Had she of been, she didn’t think she would have been able to prevent herself from running straight down to the basement and off to the secret world beneath the park.
Since her mind had flooded with memories, the burning desire to see Vincent was out of control. Yet she felt so wretched inside. How out of all the people she had known in the world, how had she allowed herself to forget Vincent? How had she believed that Vincent and his world had only existed in a dream that she’d had a dream that had reoccurred often. Maybe that was why. It was no dream. But had their relationship been so painful that she’d gladly believed that it had of been only a dream?
And as she analysed her own feelings she remembered things that Felicity had told her about the man who had been her partner not wanting her to know about him. Why was that?
What possible reason did Vincent have for not wanting to see her again?
It had been a long time true. And he had believed her to be dead, true. But even then knowing she was alive people had sought her out with great joy in their hearts, delighted to see her alive and well with their own eyes. So why hadn’t Vincent been the same?
Had he moved on?
Had he met someone else?
Was he married? Was that it? Did he have his own family now?
And what of their son? Did he even know that she was alive after all?
So many questions but over and above them all, Catherine couldn’t get it out of her head that there were no answers to any of them. Because the real reason, the one and only reason why Vincent would not see her was because he believed that in so doing they would not pick up from where they had left off.
Catherine knew Vincent and she knew what he would be feeling right now. She knew that he would insist that having made the break, it would be better for them both to remain apart, living separate lives, the lives each of them were born for.
But he was wrong.
The past five years may stand between them, but every part of Catherine ached to hold him again. She had to close her eyes tightly, and will her hands and feet to remain rooted to the spot, or else she would disgrace herself and run to him, and never let him go.
The night air became chilly, and reluctantly Catherine stepped away from the city lights, to go back inside her apartment. Her eyes caught the cassette again, and she tormented herself by flicking on the switch and allowing his melodious voice to fill the room once again;
‘Because I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you –
Especially when you are near to me as now.
It is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs,
Tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string
Situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame.
And if that boisterous channel and two hundred miles or so of land
came between us I am afraid,
That cord of communication will be snapped
And then I’ve a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly.
As for you – you’d forget me.’
Catherine well knew the part of Jane Ayre and the passage that had come from. It was when Edward Rochester had been telling Jane of her move to Ireland, when he had led her to believe that he loved someone else when all the while it were she that he loved.
Catherine could well remember Vincent reading it to her. It had been at the time when she had contemplated taking the job at Rhode Island, and would be severing their relationship by being so far away.
Of course she could visit, but they both knew that given time the visits would tail away and Vincent was sure that she would forget him.
Rewinding the tape again, Catherine again let herself be absorbed in his words. Why had he chosen that passage now to read to her? Was there a hidden message?
Was she to make more of it than there was?
Was it to remind her of the things they had discussed at that time?
She knew Vincent saw her as the light that carried their dream. Through her life she gave light to his. And he had never tried to prevent her from going to Providence. It was her promotion, and he knew she deserved it. He would do nothing, say nothing to stand in her way, for something she had worked for so avidly. And he had always believed that she’d had so much to offer others. She would do good for so many people in her new assignment.
But Catherine had known that his words were merely a sacrifice on his part and the reading of that particular passage of Jane Ayre on that day had been very poignant to her, had held many hidden messages to the way he really felt about her going so far away.
They had a Bond true, and she had seen how strong that Bond had been on many occasions. Even when hundreds of miles had separated them, he had still saved her life due to it. But on the occasion of her going to Providence, Vincent had been sure that in time the Bond would be broken, and that would have caused him great distress, while she, with everything new going on around her, would come to forget all about him.
She had denied it then of course, she could never forget him. But now things were different. How had it made him feel to know that she had remembered Joe and not him?
How did it make him feel to know that she could remember no part of her life that had any connection to him?
Now that she had remembered, even her dear father’s face swam before her. How clearly she could see him that day in the hospital when Vincent had promised to care for her until his last breath. She could even see Peter now, and Isaac. Everybody with whom she had a link to Vincent, all came rushing to mind.
She could see it all so clearly now. That’s why she had been unable to see Elliot, but had been able to see Joe and Nancy and Jenny. All those who had no connection to Vincent she had remembered well enough. So what then was her heart telling her?
Was her life with Vincent so painful that she had to forget?
The answer to that had to be yes.
Just as Edward Rochester knew Jane would forget him, not because she didn’t care for him, but because he knew that she did. And the memories would be too painful, and forgetting would be easier.
Catherine understood that now.
Yes she had forgotten him because it would be too painful to remember.
But what about Vincent, was her forgetting him what he really wanted?
If she were to put everything on the content of the passage he had quoted, then did his heart really bleed when the connection had been broken?
Of course it had, she chided herself.
Of course he would have been heartbroken when she had died, but that’s not what he was referring to now. She knew that. Vincent didn’t do or say anything without meaning, and this passage meant something she was certain of it.
Her heart beat rapidly, and she had to know. As hope rose to her throat, her eyes took on a new brightness. Despite all his beliefs and all his convictions, he loved her still, would always love her, she knew that but she had to make it known that he was wrong in believing that she had forgotten him because she had simply moved on.
In fact it were the complete opposite for now that he had helped her remember and had given her hope, she wanted to see him again, so very much.
Her first thought was to rush over there. Her second calmed her.
They’d been given another chance. If they were to advance this time, things had to be different. It wasn’t a case anymore of being grateful that he had saved her life. She didn’t owe him her life anymore. Not that she ever thought she had, it was just the way Vincent had seen things.
He had come to rely on her and could not send her away, even though he desired for her to have the life she’d been born for. Even though he denied that he was a man and that she had the no right to love him as he was.
This time things had to be done differently if they were to work with no doubts on his part.
At that moment in time Catherine didn’t have a clue how to work it to her advantage, but she would, and she knew that the planning would be sweet, but the result sweeter still.
*** *** ***
Catherine couldn’t remember the last time she had been to the concert on ground level, but it was a pleasure to be sat in the audience listing to the music float over her though she had to keep reminding herself, the pleasure probably came from the thought that Vincent was possibly sat below her listening to the same chords of harmony from Above.
It gave her immense satisfaction to know he was so close, but saddened her that he would not know she was there. Peter had told her that the Bond had never returned to him.
On her way home later in the taxi and then back in her apartment Catherine continued to dwell on the problem, she had to come up with something. Going to concerts and being so near yet so far was not nearly good enough in her estimation.
She had given her idea much thought, and had come up with nothing concrete as yet. Simply Vincent didn’t and never had moved in the same circles as she did. Meeting him under normal circumstances was not an option.
Neither could she take a stroll through the park at midnight. It was far too dangerous a place.
If she did then likely he would come to her rescue again, and they would be back to square one.
She thought about all the people that they knew, how there might be a possibility to cross his path, but she found that many of the sick he once cared for had either died or had moved away.
She couldn’t call on Father or any of the tunnel dwellers, for without knowing Vincent first she would never have known of any of them.
Even if she caught Mouse Above, on one of his taking expeditions, she knew well enough that Mouse would never have taken her Below to show her where he lived in the beginning.
She couldn’t even wander down to the basement of her old building, and explore the tunnels, because to do so, would be an out and out way of meeting Vincent, so obvious to be untrue.
No she had to find a way that they could meet, that was probable and possible and the only thing she could come up with was something to do with the one night of the year that Vincent could walk the streets without fear. But that was as yet many weeks away, and she didn’t think she could wait that long.
Racking her brains, Catherine found her attempts at finding a way out were going around and around in her head.
It was no use employing Joe in this despite his many attempts to get her to go and see Vincent since she had remembered, and Felicity never, since Felicity knew nothing of Vincent now, even if she might in the future. And Joe would see no sense in playacting, and besides he might let something slip to Vincent. At least she could be thankful for small mercies that Joe and Vincent knew one another these days.
So there had to be another way out of this.
There just had to be a way, but what?
*** *** ***
The answer came quite by chance.
Joe and Felicity were regular visitors now, coming almost every evening to see Catherine and the babies, on many occasions trying to insist that they baby sat while she went out with Jenny to get herself back into the social whirlpool. Always Catherine would laugh away their intentions, telling them she was more than happy as she was, besides what man in his right mind would take on two teething babies into the bargain?
One evening when her two friends came to see her though, it was obvious that for once her lifestyle was the furthest from their minds. Arms about each other they mooned into her apartment oblivious to any greeting she bade them, not even seeming to hear when she offered them a drink.
“Hey, hey what is this? She laughed at the pair of them, “Anyone would conclude that you two lovebirds had only just met.”
Joe managed a grin in her direction, but could not speak before first giving Felicity’s lips a long and passionate kiss. Then he began, “We came to tell you the good news Cathy.” He paused and started kissing Felicity again.
Catherine smiled at the pair humorously “What news?” It was on the tip of her tongue to accuse Joe of making Felicity pregnant when she remembered Felicity had once told her that she could never have a child due to having blocked fallopian tubes.
Joe took his time in answering. Catherine noted with humour that Felicity’s face seemed to demand all of his attention.
“Joe!” Catherine exclaimed, “Would you mind doing that someplace else, or at least tell me the news?” she laughed at him, happy to see him so in love. She’d remembered that for a long time she had despaired that he would never stop hoping for something to develop between the two of them, knowing the impossibility of that since her heart would always belong to Vincent.
Felicity drew away from Joe, her eyes misted with love, “Joe has asked me to marry him.” She oozed, “And I’ve agreed.” They resumed their kissing, and Catherine shook her head at the pair of them.
“That’s great.” She told them, “So when’s the wedding?”
That seemed to trigger a response, as for a few moments they drew apart and came to sit either side of her, as if they knew her being between them would help them keep their hands off one another.
Suddenly though they seemed so serious sitting there, that Catherine was prompted to ask them what was wrong, “What, what is it?” She looked from one to the other of them.
Joe shuffled uncomfortably, and Catherine distinctly saw Felicity mouth something to him, but did not catch it. “Tell me? You want some help with something don’t you? Is it money?”
They felt terrible, “Yes.” Joe nodded, keeping his eyes lowered, unable to meet Catherine’s penetrating gaze.
“And you’d like me to help?”
Again Joe spoke softly, Catherine had to strain her ears to hear him, “Yes.” He told her quietly, he was clearly embarrassed and not happy about this one bit.
“Well since my finances have been returned to me, I’ve plenty, how much do you want?”
“Don’t you want to know why we want to borrow it?” Felicity asked.
“I assume for the wedding.” Catherine told them simply. “Let me see you want a grand affair, and can’t afford it on D.A wages?” Joe smiled somewhat impishly, then grew serious again, refusing to meet her eyes. “Tell me Joe? You’re worrying me?” Catherine shook him, “Look at me.”
But Felicity spoke, “It’s not for the wedding Cathy. That will be a simple affair. Probably in the registry office, we can’t afford much.”
“But that’s insane!” Catherine turned to each of them, “You’ve got to have a good wedding, the best, I can afford it, and you too have been so good to me, it would be a pleasure.”
Felicity was looking at Joe again, and Joe was mouthing things to her that Catherine was unable to decipher, “Now cut that out, you got anything to say, then let me hear it. What’s bothering the two of you? Hello” she waved at each of their faces, “Cathy to Mars, now come on give!”
Joe shuffled in his seat, and Felicity started to do all the talking again, “Remember I told you I couldn’t have any babies?”
Catherine nodded. They had her full attention.
“Well it seems that a simple but expensive operation would ensure that I could. This would mean so much to us Cathy. But to use all our resources in this way would mean little left over to set up home, and I’m not getting any younger, in fact the consultant says it must be done within the next few months, for him even to consider it.”
“So you want me to loan you the money to get a baby?” Felicity nodded.
“No.” Catherine hated to see their faces fall, and she quickly added, “It wouldn’t be a loan, it would be a gift.” She pulled back so that she could hug both her friends at once and then turning to Joe she told him. “And you, you aren’t getting away with taking my dearest friend to the registry office either so you can forget that one too Joe!” She grinned at him, and Catherine jumped up going at once to her notepad and pen lying upon the dining room table.
She flicked over the very many pages of careful planning she had been working on to get Vincent into her life, knowing full well that she might not have need of them now, for a bigger plan was developing, one that would help them all.
“I’m going to give the two of you the biggest wedding known to New York, and I don’t want any arguments, because it is going to help me out too, and I am going to pay for any treatment that you need to get that baby too okay?”
Joe and Felicity started to protest feeling more and more uncomfortable by the second.
“Now quit that before I change my mind.” She scolded them gently, “Look just let me do this, and do it my way, believe me I’ve needed this reason ever since I remembered everything,” she shot Joe a wink, “and nothing is going to stop me now.”
Joe and Felicity found themselves hugging Catherine tightly thanking her over and over, “Hey.” She laughed, “Don’t thank me, I’m doing this for purely selfish reasons you know that?” But deep down inside Joe and Catherine knew that even though she hoped to regain Vincent from all of this Catherine would have still have done it regardless and that to Joe meant so much.
Catherine Chandler Downing truly was the most wonderful woman in the world.
*** *** ***
Announcements were made in the paper, and posters were erected in prominent places, but just to be sure Catherine used the only connection she knew she had to ensure that Vincent knew of the coming event.
Peter Alcott was and always had been a friend to them both, even though in the pre-Vincent days, Catherine had not known of this.
Still she told herself had it of been in those days, or even now she would likely be telling Peter of her plans to hold a huge wedding for Joe and Felicity and would have run him through all the details to her hearts content.
Peter though was somewhat mystified. “I don’t understand this Cathy. I mean it’s great that you remember me now, and it’s great that you remember your relationship with Vincent too, but what I can’t understand is, why can’t you just swan on down there and take up from where you left off?”
“It’s not as simple as that Peter. Vincent always believed that had we met by some other means that is if it were more of the meeting of two unattached people at a simple social event then it would have been more acceptable. We would both have gone into it with our eyes open, and there would have been no need for me to have felt indebted to him so greatly that I owed him my life enough to sacrifice it for him. Don’t you see, as silly as it is, at least this way, we get to do it right? This way we get to meet and decide if we wish to take it further, just like any other normal couple would.”
Peter laughed, “Children! What can you do with them? I ask you? I do understand Catherine, but all this make believe isn’t it a trifle late? You have given him a child already for goodness sake!”
But Catherine was adamant, “And if I want part of that child’s life and Vincent’s life this must be the way Peter. Otherwise we will go straight back to square one, I feel it in my bones.”
Peter nodded, “Maybe you’re right. You know Vincent never did remember that time you and he became lovers.”
Catherine looked away, guiltily, but Peter noticed, “What is it? There’s something you know isn’t there? Jacob is Vincent’s child isn’t he?”
Catherine nodded, “Oh yes of course. No it’s not that Peter. But you see that day down in the catacombs, the day Jacob was conceived we didn’t actually join our bodies together. That is we didn’t actually make love.” Catherine looked shyly away, hiding behind a curtain of her hair.
“Don’t leave it there Cathy you have my full attention now.” Peter flicked a switch on his desk, “Hold my calls Tracy will you.” He told his receptionist, “I might be some time with Mrs Downing yet.”
“There’s no need to change your plans for me.” Catherine gathered up her things to leave, but Peter held out a hand and caught her arm, “Sit.” Was all he said but his eyes spoke volumes.
Catherine could not meet his gaze.
“Well, I’m waiting young lady. And don’t give me any stuff about violins and crashing waves either. This is a member of the medical profession you are speaking to here you know.” He told her gently, with some amusement in his tone.
Catherine warmed to that, she smiled, “ No one was more surprised than me when I found out I was pregnant Peter. You see all we did was pet.” She told him softly, “Heavily.” She went on, a smile creasing the corners of her mouth.
“Excessively so.” Peter retorted. “So humour me young lady. How does the seed of one find its way to the body of another through petting, even if heavily?”
Catherine blushed, “I, I, touched Vincent, and, and he touched me. I guess some of what he had expelled…” She glanced shyly up at Peter and watched his mouth twitch with mirth, before she continued, “was on his hand when he touched me…here.” She added on a whisper indicting the region with one hand.
Peter burst into laughter, “No wonder poor Vincent has never been able to remember any of it. Its been doing his head in really it has. Oh Cathy!”
Catherine was suddenly horrified, “Don’t enlighten him Peter please!” Her eyes wide she begged her GP and long time friend, “If he can go on believing its possible between us, he’s more likely to let it happen again.”
Peter looked at her long and hard, “Cathy you know anything told to me in confidence does not escape these four walls. You know me better than that don’t you?”
Catherine sighed with relief, “Thank you Peter.”
“Only I think perhaps it would be courteous of you to tell Vincent yourself, preferably before you and he make love, it would only be fair Cathy, you know that?”
Catherine nodded, “But only if it comes up.”
Peter shook his head sternly, and Catherine asked, “You think I should tell him regardless?”
Peter didn’t say another thing, just kept on looking straight at her, digging into her conscience, until finally he heard her say, if somewhat reluctantly, “Oh all right you win, I’ll be honest with him. Now are you going to pass on my message or not?” She referred to the reason for her going to see him in the first place. And Peter replied, “Of course I was going to do anyway.”
Catherine glared at him for long moments, “You mean I revealed all that for nothing?”
Peter nodded, grinning at her wickedly, “Yes and very enlightening it was too.”
*** *** ***
It was easy letting it slip on his next visit down to the tunnels. Besides he later found that the underground world fairly buzzed with the knowledge anyway, but it was great seeing Vincent’s face when he told them and Peter decided to go along with Catherine’s little escapade to the letter.
“I had a visit from a friend of mine a few days ago.” He started to say over a cup of sweet herb tea.
Vincent was sat in his usual place in Father’s chamber, his son playing at his feet, and Father drinking his own cup of tea alongside the warmth of the stove.
“Oh, who was that, anyone we know?” Father asked him with interest.
Peter had the grace to blush. This was going to sound so stupid, he just hoped that they realised what he was on with.
“No I don’t think so. She’s the daughter of a deceased friend of mine, I delivered her actually.”
Vincent’s head snapped back, his blue eyes seemed to bore straight through Peter, and Peter couldn’t help but wink at him.
“What did you talk about?” Vincent asked somewhat mystified. He had the queerest notion that Peter was referring to Catherine.
“Seems she’s organising a wedding for a colleague of hers, here in the park actually. It might cause some problems for you. Perhaps you should tighten the security to the entrances that day. Although, she tells me that everyone is welcome to attend whether they are invited or not.”
“A bit strange isn’t it?” Father hadn’t yet seen through Peter’s little game. “She might get all sorts turning up, I’m sure her colleague will love that.”
“Oh apparently not, she had all ready thought about holding such an event in the park, something to do with a fancy dress party.” Peter again paused to look Vincent’s way, grateful if not a little disconcerted to find his friend’s penetrating blue eyes staring straight through him. “She just invited her colleague to use the occasion to hold his wedding reception there at the same time. Its going to be a large affair by all accounts, but everyone has to come in disguise.”
“That will be nice, maybe some of the children from down here could go?” Father spoke again beginning to like the sound of it all.
“I’m sure she would like that, she helps out at charity functions and donates her time and finances to the homeless and those in need often, I’m sure it would give her great pleasure to see street children coming to enjoy themselves.”
“What about pick pockets? Has she thought of that? There’s bound to be some, not from here of course, but the marquee will be filled with street children no doubt?”
“I guess she will work something out, but I will mention it to her just in case. Will you be going Vincent?”
Father’s mouth dropped open, “Oh I hardly think…” He began. But Peter interrupted him, “Well why not? Everyone will be in costume, it would be no different from Vincent going out at Halloween, and I’m sure Jacob would love it.”
Hearing his name mentioned Jacob looked up, he had already grown excited at the coming event, but the possibility of his going hadn’t even entered his head. Peter almost chuckled when he saw the look of irritation that Vincent shot him, but pretended he didn’t notice. “Well.” He stood up to leave, “You’ll be made very welcome if you do decide to go believe me, and nothing is likely to happen to Vincent. As I say everyone will be in costume, he’s hardly likely to be noticed as different, is he?”
Father could find no answer, but he still didn’t like it, but then anything to do with Vincent going Above he didn’t like ever. And in daylight hours too, that could present even more of a risk. As if Peter knew he such thoughts however he left with a closing remark, “Of course the reception party will start in the afternoon, but it will go on well into the evening, well after dark, so Vincent’s leaving the tunnels will be totally under cover as always. And I’ll be there, he’ll be perfectly safe. Perhaps you would like to go too Father?”
Something in Peter’s voice made Father look at his friend long and hard, “Pardon me but I get the distinct impression I am missing something here Peter. By any chance will Cathy be there?”
Peter looked at his friend long and hard, “Cathy who?” It was the hardest and funniest thing he had ever had to do, but in the normal scenario, in the time element Catherine was trying to recreate, Father would not know Catherine, or know that Peter knew of her either.
Father looked at Peter totally perplexed. “It must be catching.” He spoke aloud although to himself, rubbing his bristled jaw thoughtfully.
“What’s catching?” Peter turned to his friend with the picture of innocence.
“Memories.” Father told him, “First Cathy and now you. Be off with you Peter, I don’t quite know what’s going on here, but something tells me I don’t want to know either. Come and see us again eh, when you are more in control of yourself?”
Peter burst into laughter and noted with humour as he ducked out of the chamber that the sound of Vincent’s laughter followed him out. Well, thought Peter, at least someone understands all that had just taken place, and being that Vincent was the one he’d aimed for Peter felt very happy. Yes very satisfied indeed.
*** *** ***
With her plans complete Catherine looked forward immensely to the night of Joe and Felicity’s wedding reception. For her it couldn’t come soon enough, even though it were impossible to organise in a few short weeks. Besides that neither Joe or Felicity wanted a rushed wedding, and for their sake Catherine found her plans somewhat backfiring as she was forced to wait until they were ready.
At last though the day dawned bright and clear and Catherine was in a flat spin anticipating the evening to come.
Peter had told her he’d delivered the message, and from what he had told her since, Catherine knew that Vincent intended to be there, despite Father’s misgivings.
“You know Father.” Peter had told her on more than one occasion, “Anything to do with Vincent and he is sure his son will get himself into trouble.”
“He’ll be perfectly safe in my hands Peter.” Catherine had replied on the last occasion this topic had come up but Peter had just quirked his eyebrows causing Catherine to laugh out loud, and then even more so by adding, “You know by rights when I talk about Father or Vincent, you should say, Father who? Vincent who? If we are to play the part to the letter my dear, then you do not know these friend’s of mine just yet.”
Catherine agreed, but it was so hard to play the part at all, when all she wanted was to step into Vincent’s arms, feel them close around her and never have him let her go again.
And if Catherine was growing excited it was nothing in comparison to those that lived Below!
For weeks they had spoken about little else and though no one had realised yet that it was Catherine that was arranging things, they did know that the wedding was for Joe Maxwell and his fiancee and that both were friends of Catherine. So Vincent found it equally as hard to play the game that Catherine had set as well.
And consequently her name was very seldom far from anyone’s lips.
“Do you think Catherine will be there Vincent?” The children asked him on more than one occasion. None of it lost to Jacob, “Yes will she?” He asked his father, his eyes bright with hope, “Do you think she will be there daddy?”
Vincent could not answer them, he knew not how. To say yes would complicate things and to say no would be to lie.
Father was also a mischief in his own right.
“I can see the reason Peter was adamant you went to that party now Vincent. He has a notion it will get you and Cathy back together hasn’t he? Good old Peter. Well you must go, you can’t disappoint him Vincent, and perhaps Cathy expects you to be there too.”
“Oh Catherine expects me to be there all right.” Vincent had spoken to himself. “And who am I to disappoint her?”
Secretly he was looking forward to it as much as everyone else, in fact more, for he would get to see Catherine again, but funnily enough he felt a little apprehensive at doing so. What was Catherine playing at? Supposing her little game backfired on them both, supposing she looked at him, and felt like throwing something at him just as she had that first time she had seen his face and it had frightened her?
Nonetheless he dressed in his finest attire of white ruffled shirt, green corduroy pants and brown leather jerkin, and put Jacob in his new clothing that Mary had made for the occasion. Navy corduroy trousers and a woollen sweater of pale blue and white stripes. Jacob held open the sides of his mouth with his fingers and poked out his tongue as if he were vomiting when Vincent showed his son his reflection in the mirror, and could not help but laugh. “Don’t you like those clothes Jacob?”
Jacob looked at his father as if he was mad or something, “They’re horrible. I look like a cissy. Can’t I wear my favourite tea-shirt?”
“And pain poor Mary’s heart, she has worked hard on making that sweater for you? You should thank her, in fact come on there’s still time before we leave to do just that.”
Vincent led his protesting son from the chamber seeking out Mary in hers, surprised to find her also preparing to go Above.
“Mary you look wonderful!” Vincent exclaimed when he saw her in a stunning gown of royal blue silk.
Mary turned to him the pleasure on her face made her look so beautiful too. “Why thank you Vincent, and may I say you look stunning yourself.” She cast her eyes over him, and walked over to reshuffle an item or two so that it sat right. “There now you will knock ‘em dead Vincent believe me.” Jacob watched the pair of them wishing he could wrench off his clothing, waiting for the moment Mary would tell him he looked cute or something, and trying to think of a suitable response that would not hurt her feelings, when he suddenly heard her say, “Oh my Jacob.”
Jacob met her steady gaze, but found her face was not as he’d expected, “Oh this will never do.” She told him and promptly began to pull the sweater off over his head, “You look too babyish Jacob, I’m sure you will want to look much more grown up than that. Now haven’t I seen you wear a lovely red tee-shirt recently?”
Jacob’s face lit up, “Yes.” He gushed with delight.
“Well now don’t just stand there, hurry and put it on, we’ll wait right here for you.”
Jacob was gone in a flash, leaving Vincent laughing after him, “How did you know?” He asked Mary when Jacob was out of sight.
“Know what dear? Just zip this up for me will you?” She told him innocently and held her hair away so that Vincent could slide the zip of her dress up to her neck.
“How did you know that Jacob hated the sweater?”
Mary smiled, “I didn’t. But there was something in the way he hung back that gave me a clue. If he had disagreed with me, had he of wanted to keep it on, don’t you think he would have said so child? I bet he wanted to wear that old red tee-shirt all along?”
Vincent laughed with her, “How well you know children Mary.”
Mary patted his hand, “And how well I know you.” She looked him square in the eye.
“What do you mean Mary?” Vincent felt uncomfortable and very hot all of the sudden.
“Like you are usually one for gallivanting Above to such functions. Oh I know there have been a few but this won’t be the first fancy dress event ever held in the park. Do you remember the year of the costume dress ice skating, when everyone had to go as something to do with fables? You would have won hands down, but could we get you even to show your face, could we ever! So what’s changed Vincent? Why is this one so different? Do you believe also that Cathy will be there?”
Vincent blushed, “You’ve been listening to Father.” He told her softly.
“No Vincent, I’ve been watching you.” She looked at him knowingly. Very few things missed Mary.
A sound in the doorway startled them and they turned to see Jacob stood there quite puffed but very happy in his stunning red tee shirt and denim jeans!
“Jacob you weren’t supposed to change your trousers too!” Mary scolded while gently winking at Vincent.
“But I like these clothes.” Jacob cried, anyway it’s way too late to change them now, everyone is leaving.”
Vincent chuckled, Whatever Catherine would think when she took her first sight of their son he wouldn’t like to say, but suddenly Vincent couldn’t get Above fast enough to find out.
*** *** ***
For the sake of those others Below that knew her, Catherine had donned a mask so that they wouldn’t spoil things before Vincent arrived. But even so, when Catherine felt a firm hand upon her shoulder and the softly spoken question, “Are you attempting to turn back the hands of time, my love?” Her whole body shook so badly to know that even with the disguise he had recognised her.
Even after all this time, he had known her and Catherine’s heart thudded painfully against her ribs and she had to steel herself to turn around slowly but even then her first sight of him took her breath clean away.
Catherine stared up into those laughing blue eyes, intense now as they dwelt upon her face. Her eyes were even more luminous through the mask she wore and Catherine swayed on the spot as if she might faint at any moment.
Would this have been how it should have been all those years ago?
Would she really have been struck dumb by those eyes, by that face?
Would she really have wanted nothing more than to touch his cheek, to run her fingers across the bridge of his nose and trace the wide expanse between his eyebrows?
Catherine could not believe that she wouldn’t have wanted to do those things, because the desire to do so now made her have to wedge her hands securely within the fold of her arms to prevent herself from reaching out to touch him.
And she forced herself, literally forced herself to answer his question as if she had never seen him before.
“Excuse me?” She heard herself utter, but the question seemed lost on him.
He looked at her blankly, as if he could not for the life of him understand why she had uttered the words. He had even forgotten the question.
Oh God she was so beautiful.
He wanted nothing more than to hold her in his arms and never let her go.
He wanted nothing more than to utter her name, and kiss her lips, those luscious lips that even now dampened their dryness with the tip of her tongue and sent whirls of desire raging through his loins.
Oh if only, if only.
Joe saw them standing together, and his eyes lit up. Vincent and Catherine! They’d met again at last, he started to hurry towards them, until suddenly he found himself being swung away from his course by Peter holding on to his arm. “Oh no you don’t Joe Maxwell. This is make-believe remember? In the normal scenario only I know the two of them, and only I should be introducing them, and soon too if the way they are looking at one another is anything to go by. You wait here Joe.”
Peter strode towards the couple still staring at one another, each finding difficulty just to breathe.
“Vincent!” He cried taking his young friend’s arm. “Allow me to introduce you to the hostess of this event.” He turned to Catherine taking her hand, “Vincent I would like you to meet my dear friend Catherine Chandler Downing.”
Catherine nudged him hard in the ribs then and whispered something in his ear. “Pardon, did I say something wrong?” He asked her.
“It’s not Downing” Catherine hissed.
“Not Down…but Cathy dear that’s your name.” He was totally mystified.
“It is now!” Catherine’s voice rose between clenched teeth, “But it wasn’t then!”
“Oh dear, silly me.” Peter tried to laugh it off, “Guess I goofed huh?” Then he took Catherine and Vincent’s hands and placed one upon the other, “Tell you what then how about if the two of you forget the sloppy stuff and come back to reality?” He stepped aside and turned away but at hearing a sudden burst of laughter from behind he could not resist a peep back at the two of them.
He was delighted at what he saw, Catherine and Vincent foreheads together, hands clasped tight and riding out the storm of hilarity as if they might never stop.
“Welcome home Cathy.” Peter whispered as he left the pair of them together and noticed that all eyes had turned their way, and faces were smiling, “Welcome home.”
*** *** ***
There was everything and nothing to say.
As the two held on to one another and the laughter subsided, neither Vincent or Catherine could bear to look away from the other. There was so much to talk about, but it would take too long and fill another book, and yet there was also nothing to say. Just being together again said it all. There were no words that could express how good that felt.
Watching them, many pairs of delighted eyes around the room swam with tears in equally delighted faces, and even those people who had been guests of the bride and groom could tell that something very special was happening between these two.
“Say isn’t that Cathy Chandler? I thought she was dead.” One voice piped up above the hushed whispers now filling the marquee.
“I believe it is, difficult to tell with the mask though, but hey who’s the hunk with her? I wonder what he looks like under that disguise, boy just look at those muscles?” A woman’s voice replied with undisguised passion in her tone.
But Catherine and Vincent heard none of the voices around them.
Eyes only for each other Vincent was tapped on the leg twice before Jacob was able to get his father’s attention.
“Daddy?” He queried and Catherine gasped.
“Jacob.” Vincent drew one long arm from around Catherine’s waist to place it around his son, and hugged him hard.
“Hello Jacob.” Catherine took off her mask, and smiled down at the child, with more love than she had deemed possible.
Jacob felt her. His face lit up, he needed no introductions, but heard his father say, “Jacob shares a Bond…”
“Really?” Catherine interrupted before Vincent could finish, “With you?”
“No. With you.” He replied looking from Jacob to Catherine in turn, wondering what each might do now.
Jacob had felt the pull towards this woman earlier, and he had hoped that his mother might be there tonight, but when his heart had led him to her he could scarcely believe it. And now here she was looking down at him with such love in her eyes.
“Mother?” He queried softly.
Catherine nodded, as tears welled in her eyes, and she bent down to scoop him up into her arms, “Yes.” She told him nuzzling her face into the warmth of his neck, “Oh God Jacob.” She told him, “I’ve missed you so much.” And she realised it was true, although until that moment she hadn’t known of it.
Jacob didn’t want to let her go. He clung to her, his little body shaking with tears and emotion, and Catherine allowed her tears to flow, unable to stop them now they were in full swing.
A voice sounded at their sides, “Look do you three want to get out of here for a while? Why don’t you go into the tunnels and come back when you are more composed.” Catherine looked up from her son’s neck and saw Father standing there, and more tears gathered and fell as she drew him into her embrace too. “Father, how good it is to see you again.”
“Come.” He urged her away, his eyes misted by tears and took Vincent’s arm beneath his hand, “Everyone is watching, There will be time for talking later.” But already he could see it was way too late for that. Those that hadn’t realised before what was happening had realised now, and Catherine suddenly found herself surrounded by dozens of tunnel children who were overwhelmed to see her again.
Father put out his arms and swept them all aside, “Come on everyone Cathy isn’t going anywhere again, you will have plenty of time to speak to her after the party. Come now, you are here to enjoy yourselves are you not?” He ushered the unwilling group away, and Catherine whispered her thanks to him. Right now, all she wanted was be with Vincent and her son.
Ushering the children away, Peter stepped forth and helped Father keep any other well-wishers from gathering, happy when he saw Vincent place his arm around Catherine’s waist again and lead her towards an exit.
But Joe was suddenly there too, “Hey Radcliffe, I think you’re forgetting something.”
Catherine hesitated at the sound of his voice and looked back to see him coming towards her with a Moses basket on each arm. She smiled, and tried to take the baskets from him, which was difficult with Jacob in her arms, so Joe placed one upon Catherine’s free arm, and the other upon Vincent’s, “Sorry to do this to you pal,” He told Vincent with a wink. “But I ain’t doing no baby sitting on my wedding night.”
And then suddenly Mary was there, and Father was back, “Catherine let me take the babies, and Jacob stay with Grandfather and me huh? You know how much you have looked forward to this party. And besides, guess what I’ve just spied?”
Jacob clung to his mother but could not help being inquisitive to Mary’s prompting. “Green jelly!” Mary told him, and Catherine laughed down at her son, “You like green jelly too?”
Wide-eyed Jacob nodded.
“Me too!” Catherine told him, “let’s go get some shall we?”
Jacob needed no second telling, he was wiggling out of his mother’s arms and racing across to the buffet like greased lightening. He left Catherine gasping, and with a quick squeeze of Vincent’s fingers and a promise to be back as soon as possible she raced after her son, and arrived as Jacob was spooning two helpings into two bowls. He held one out to her with a spoon, and thanking him Catherine couldn’t help showing him the best way to eat jelly.
“Forget the spoon Jacob. Watch this.” She placed her lips to the jelly and sucked hard and with a whoosh the jelly swept into her mouth and she had it swallowed as quick as a flash.
Jacob burst into laughter, “That’s real neat mom!” He cried copying her at once, and peals of laughter broke out that embarrassed Catherine, as she suddenly realised they still had a very large audience around them.
“Way to go Radcliffe. You got any more party tricks like that one?” She heard Joe shout.
Catherine winked at Jacob. “I’ll see you later shall I?” She whispered to him, then turning called out “Sure thing Joe,” as she made her way back towards Vincent, and taking him by the hand she led him towards the exit calling to Joe with laughter in her voice, “See I can disappear too.”
Catherine entirely missed Joe’s final retort that made everyone laugh “You sure can Radcliffe, you sure can.”
*** *** ***
Oh it was so good to be back.
Catherine didn’t think it was ever possible to miss a place so much.
Walking arm in arm with Vincent seemed unreal, almost as if they had stepped back in time and nothing had altered between them. But there was an underlying difference now.
They moved ahead in silence just content to be together, afraid to speak lest they break the spell, until at last they reached the main hub and Vincent ushered Catherine into his chamber. Catherine gasped, “Tell me I’m not dreaming.” They were her first words since they had left the marquee.
Vincent stood behind her, his arms aching to draw her against him, and as she turned they came face to face, “Oh God Vincent, I love you so much.”
Her words broke the dam and emotion spilled over for both of them, Vincent’s arms came up and around her drawing her close, and Catherine wrapped her arms around him shuddering with longing, and then she heard the one word that could set her soul afire, “Catherine.” Her name borne by his voice sent shudders through her.
Catherine closed her eyes, gathering him closer still, “Hold me! Just hold me and never let me go.”
“Never.” He husked, and then she knew that nothing was the same, for everything was so different, so awesome, so tender, as Vincent’s mouth sought hers, and his kiss filled her entire being, until her mind span away into heaven itself.
They moulded together two beings as one, so that it was difficult to tell where one ended and the other began. “I love you Catherine, and I’ve missed you so very much.” Vincent sobbed into her neck, trailing hot kisses there, and she held him tighter, tighter revelling in the heat from his mouth, wanting nothing more than to lose herself in him.
“Stay with me, stay with me tonight, please.” He begged.
“Yes oh yes Vincent. I love you.” Her voice whimpered, “I want you so much.”
He drew her away from him, just enough to search her eyes, “Catherine?” She could see the question in his, and leaned in on him capturing his lips beneath her own, leaving him no room for doubts. When she had said she wanted him, she had meant it in every way.
They clung together and for the first time Vincent allowed her to feel how much he desired her, how desperately he wanted her, and she did not protest when he lifted her slim form and walked with her to his bed.
All this seemed so unreal. She was dreaming surely?
As she felt his hands glide over her body, she could have sobbed with happiness. The years rolled away, and yet they did not. Nothing was the same, everything was gloriously, gloriously different and Catherine delighted in the freedom Vincent gave her to explore every inch of him. Never in all her wildest imaginings had it ever been like this, never had she dreamed that they could ever love like this.
Words were lost to them as they tasted only each other, as they explored hidden treasures and delighted in their find.
And then finally, finally they were literally as one. And the earth span away into oblivion, passing through nebulas of untold millions of brilliant star burst, and gathering momentum to fly past the moon, past the sun, through heaven itself and on into infinity almost as if they rode the wings of angels.
Later, much later as Catherine stirred in Vincent’s arms, he gathered her to him, unable to let her go even in sleep.
She was his now, his to keep, and somehow, somehow the tragedy of the past flew away and Vincent sighed the breath of cherubs, happy and complete and with the heart of a man, totally, deliriously in love.
He woke and kissed Catherine’s forehead, watching her closely as she came awake in his arms and smiled at her as their eyes met, “Thank you Catherine.” He told her with sincerity.
“For what?” she smiled back at him.
“For this, for loving me now and the first time.” He told her kissing the tip of her nose. “I had expected to remember that first time, but I have not. I’m sorry Catherine I do believe that experience is lost to me.”
A red blotch stained Catherine’s cheeks, before she could halt its progress, and Vincent noticed at once, “What is it my love? You needn’t be embarrassed. Your courage set my fears aside, and look what you gave me. I don’t know how I would have survived these years without you, if it hadn’t of been for our son.”
But his words only served to make Catherine feel even more embarrassed, and guiltily she remembered her discussion with Peter.
“There’s no wonder you can’t remember a first time Vincent…” She began nervously, “At least not one that happened long ago…” She paused and looked at him sheepishly, “You see my love…
*** *** ***
Father led the group of happy but tired partygoers back down to the tunnel world beneath the city streets, and after settling them all into their respective chambers, he tucked a sleeping Jacob into one side of his own bed.
The child had been asleep for hours, after showing all his friends how to suck jelly to perfection. And Father didn’t know whether to be happy or annoyed that Catherine had rubbed out in seconds all their years of hard work of teaching the boy good manners at the dinner table. He had to chuckle though, certainly she knew of a great way to break the ice. The children had spoke of little else all evening and Jacob had been in his element at hearing what a great mom they thought he had.
Finishing his hot chocolate, Father pushed his feet into his slippers and set off to do his nightly rounds. Everyone was sleeping soundly, and he had presumed he would find Catherine in the guest chamber being that neither she nor Vincent had returned to the party all evening. But the guest chamber was empty, and at two in the morning Father grew concerned as to where she might be.
Mary had fed her babies, had fallen in love with them, and had taken them off to her own chamber for the night, but where was Catherine should they need her?
Hobbling down the tunnel past his own chamber Father headed for Vincent’s, totally unprepared for what he should find there.
Two bodies, naked and entwined lay as one upon Vincent’s large bed, and Father felt a pink tinge of embarrassment infuse his cheeks. Yet he could not help but look at them.
This was the sight he had wished for so many times over the past five years.
So many times he had wandered in here after Vincent had cried the day away, to find his son curled tightly around the night robe that Catherine had left down here for her stays Below at weekends. Or he would find his son wrapped around the body of his own child, holding one another close, with trails of tears visible upon their cheeks, a white china rose held against Vincent’s lips and a sparkling crystal pendant clutched firmly in his son’s tiny hand.
So many times such a sight had brought him heartache. Such intense pain that he never wanted his son to know again.
This then was the sight that he had dreamed of seeing for so long, and had thought never to see.
Vincent and his Catherine, together as lovers, just the way it should always have been.
And Father released the purest of sighs. Yes this was the way it should have been and this was the way it was.
His dream had come true, the hands of time had surely been turned back for Vincent and his Catherine.
They were truly together and Father knew with the sweetest conviction that nothing would ever separate the two lovers again.
Vincent and Catherine’s happier life had begun at last.
*** *** ***
The stories found within this website have been written by and for lovers of the American television series Beauty and the Beast and no infringement upon the rights held by Ron Koslow, CBS, Republic Entertainment, Witt-Thomas Productions or any other Copyright holder to Beauty and the Beast is intended.
Furthermore all the stories found on this website belong to Wendy Tunnard de-Veryard, are protected by copyright and none should be copied, added to or subtracted from or altered in any way, without the prior authorisation of the author.