Chapters 1 to 4
Oblivion 1 - New Beginnings
My first story in fan fiction. Written after watching the episode 'Though Lover's Be Lost' I put my all into this story. The result became a trilogy of some four hundred pages. Devin & Catherine go searching for and finding Vincent's roots and discover a family he never knew existed.
I have had so many letters of appreciation for this story, with the general opinion being 'WOW’. I hope that you too will enjoy it as much as those people did.
A gentle breeze drifted through the open balcony windows bringing with it the muffled sounds of the city street eighteen floors below, gave life to the dancing curtains and came to settle upon Catherine as she lay fast asleep in her bed. The faint scent of roses that rested on the breeze brought about the tranquillity to her dreams and she smiled happily until the elevated sound of children’s laughter in the park, altered her dream to one of her son.
Now a frown crossed her features as the dream became nightmarish, as was usual these days, and Catherine could see herself in the park pushing Jacob along in his buggy, his blue eyes dancing with delight and his chubby little arms reaching out for her to lift him up. He was so beautiful to her with his special little face framed by a golden mane of hair, so like his father’s that her heart swelled with love for him.
In a corner of Central Park some doves flew in to flutter beneath the cool water of a fountain. The sun sparkled upon their wet feathers, and Catherine lifted Jacob up to view them. Suddenly she heard a gasp beside her, and turning she saw another woman eyeing her critically. Catherine felt a cold hand clutch her heart as she waited for that which she knew would come. The woman’s face contorted with anger and Catherine listened in expectation of the explosion of words to follow, “Get away from here you freak!” she spat at Catherine, “And take that monster with you.”
Gathering up her own baby she ran across the park, shouting back at Catherine, “You need locking up. I’m going to fetch the police.”
With dismay, Catherine saw the woman running towards a mounted policeman and point towards her, and then watched in horror as he urged his horse forward and cantered towards her. Catherine wanted to run but her feet were rooted to the spot. The entrance to the tunnel was so close, yet as she mobilised her feet and started to run towards it, as often happens in nightmares, the place of safety eluded her.
Catherine was terrified. Her heart pounded in her chest as she heard the hoof beats coming ever closer behind her. Suddenly! a roar erupted to one side of her, and the policeman reined in his horse, pulling the mighty animal’s head up so sharply, that it whinnied with distress. Feeling the hot breath from the horse on the back of her neck, Catherine turned around and followed the gaze of its rider to where Vincent broke from some bushes, and came running towards her.
From then on everything seemed to happen in slow motion. The policeman glanced down at Jacob, and then back across at Vincent, and seeing the resemblance, he summed up the future of mankind, knowing at once that he could not allow such things the right to life. Taking his gun he aimed it at Vincent and fired. Vincent fell.
Catherine screamed. Then the gun was aimed at Jacob. As Catherine saw the trigger pulled back, she lunged across her baby to protect him, and felt the bullet pass straight through her...
Catherine awoke in a sweat, and lay on her back staring up at the ceiling for a long time. She felt drained, devoid of thought or feeling. Her heart was heavy and she was clearly very much disturbed, for this had not been her only dream along those lines.
Ever since the birth of her baby, she’d had such dreams. She knew that she suffered from Post Natal Depression, but had under-estimated the effects that it had on her emotional state. She needed help and possibly medication but foolishly she believed that the feeling would pass, as soon as she accepted her situation and didn’t keep wishing for a normal life. A life in which her baby didn’t have to be kept a secret from her friends. Although only in her dreams did Jacob bear any resemblance to Vincent, yet she and Vincent could not be sure that he would not grow to be like his father, with the same fearsome fangs and body hair, how would she ever explain that to her friends?
So Jacob’s world was Below. Down where the warm sunshine would never penetrate, and where he would never feel its warmth upon his skin. Never see the doves, or be able to run freely through the green carpet of grass and smell the scent of the flowers as it rose upwards from around his feet. Catherine just wanted to cry for all the things that her son would never be able to do in the world Above, things, she felt that he had a right to.
And only now, since the birth of her son, had she become aware of the enormity of Vincent’s life, and all that he’d had to miss out on. For in Jacob Catherine wanted so much to show him all the things she had delighted in as a child, to be able to re-live it all through his eyes, yet could not.
It hurt her deeply that she could not do these simple things with him, and night after night her dreams tortured her.
Raising herself from the bed, she made her way to the kitchen. There were rings around her eyes from lack of sleep, and wearily she flicked on the coffee jug and returned to her bedroom to dress. The balcony enticed her, and she walked over to it to look out across the park. From where she stood, she could just make out the tunnel entrance through the canopy of trees, and in her mind’s eye she visualised Jacob and Vincent sleeping soundly far beneath the city streets, oblivious to the turmoil in her heart.
The sound of the coffee jug whistling startled her, and she visibly jumped before going across to the kitchen to pour herself a mug full. Sipping the hot liquid, she hardly tasted it. Instead the salty taste of tears reached her lips, and putting the mug down onto the kitchen work surface, she brushed the tears from her face. Simply, there was no joy in living any longer. Jacob was safe in his world, where he was loved and cared for by Vincent, Father and so many of the other wonderful people living Below. He would always be safe there. She had no need to worry about him.
Catherine knew she had two options. To leave behind the world she knew and go to live in theirs, or to separate herself entirely from all of them, and learn to live without them, someplace else, far away from New York.
Having something definite in mind cheered Catherine a little. Her emotions were common place with post-natal depression, yet she did not realise this. Certainly this was no time for making major alterations in life, yet the thought of making a new life for herself seemed such a positive step in the right direction. Her heart had never grieved her so much since she had known Vincent. Her love for him had become too much to bear. She knew that she would be heading for a nervous breakdown if she didn’t make a definite decision soon.
She longed for peace, and the ability to start life afresh.
Thinking about Jacob, she was torn. She wanted to see his sweet little face one more time, to gather him to her and feel his chubby little arms around her neck and his sloppy kisses on her face. How she adored those moments with him, yet she knew that if she should go to him now, she would not be able to go ahead with her plan. Yesterday would have to have been the last time, and today she had to put space between herself and Jacob before she changed her mind.
Scanning her address book she looked for friends who lived far away. Someone with whom she could stay until she had made a new life for herself. Most of her friends lived in various states of America, and she dismissed these instantly. She had to go where it would be impossible for Vincent to reach her. The cut had to be clean, and it had to be permanent. He must never know where to find her.
Trailing one finger down the long list of friends, and flipping over page after page, her eyes suddenly alighted on the very place, and her heart lurched. Yes, of course, London, it was perfect.
Her friend Joanna lived in London. They had met when her father had taken her there on business with him, when she was just sixteen, and she hadn’t seen Joanna since she had met Vincent. Reaching for the telephone, Catherine dialled the number, and was glad when the call was quickly answered.
“Hi Joanna. Its Catherine Chandler here. Did I wake you?”
A sleepy voice confirmed, “Cathy?”
“Yes, how are you?”
“Cathy!” the woman’s voice exclaimed, “Is it really you, that’s great. Where are you?”
Catherine smiled, it was great to hear Joanna’s voice. She should have thought of her first, Joanna had the ability to make her feel so alive, and suddenly Catherine realised how much she needed someone like that.
“I’m in New York”, Catherine told her, “but I’m planning a trip to London. I was wondering, do you have room for me, that is, until I find a place of my own?”
“Room for you! Cathy how could you ask! I always have room for you. That’s so wonderful, and you speak as though you are coming here permanently, I can’t believe it, its going to be great. There is so much to do here. Make sure you bring your loveliest dresses, for we shall be out every night. Oh Cathy, we are going to have a ball, you’ll see. So when are you arriving. On the next plane I hope?”
Catherine was taken in totally by her infectious joy, and could not help laughing, “If that’s what you want, yes I think I can make that.”
“That’s great Cathy. Just ring me when you land at Heathrow, and I will come and collect you. I still can’t believe it, its going to be fantastic having you here.”
“And I’m sorry that I woke you Joanna.”
“Hey don’t mention it, I’m pleased you did, the day would not have had enough hours in it to plan all we are going to do, if you hadn’t.”
Catherine laughed, “Well see you tomorrow, if not sooner. Bye Joanna, and thank you.”
“Bye Cathy, safe journey.”
Catherine replaced the receiver, feeling somewhat dizzy, happy and physically drained all at once. Joanna was a whirlwind. Just what she needed a radical change. There was no going back now. All that remained was to book her flight, pack her bags, and write a letter to Vincent. Catherine groaned, that was going to be the hardest thing to do of all, and the saddest letter she would ever have to write. She only hoped he would understand.
As the distance widened between herself and Vincent, Catherine reflected on her life. The flight was over eight hours long giving her time to go over her decision to leave, and she was un-decided on and off throughout. She felt she had made the right choice in leaving, but her letter to Vincent dismayed her at the way it had turned out. Unable to allow herself the freedom of emotion, lest she changed her mind, the only sentiment Catherine had permitted herself to use was as she had signed it, ‘Love You Always, Catherine’.
And she did love Vincent. To the very core of her being, and that she would never again meet another man with whom she could fall so completely and utterly in love with again in all her life. Some people were never lucky enough to find such a love ever. Yet here she was turning her back on it.
It was terrible to think she may never see him again, that part hurt deeply, but the strength of her feelings were such, that she firmly believed he would be better off without her. Having her in his life, only brought him pain, for she reminded him of all the things he could not have, and though she had given to him love he had only ever dreamed of, she didn’t think that it was enough. Wretchedly her heart had grieved her, every time she saw the look of longing in his eyes, for the places she had been to, the sights she had seen, though she had felt compelled to tell him of these things, and then bitterly regretted it when she had. Their relationship made him long for the things they would never share together. Better to end it now, and let him find the life he once had before he knew her, At least he had their son to cling to and she had given him someone of his own to love.
In many ways Catherine wished that they had never met. Her life had been full of promise before. She was set to marry and have an ordinary, fairly problem free life, with ordinary children eventually. It would have been great to continue with her life the way it once was. Joanna had been to stay with her several times, and they’d had such fun, and Catherine looked forwarded eagerly to where they had left off, convincing herself that it would be great to get back into the swing of things, to be normal again. And to try to forget the last four years.
As the aeroplane took her closer to London, Catherine felt a great sense of release. She had no urgent desire to return to America. If things didn’t work out for her in London, she would go someplace else. Europe perhaps. Settling back in her seat she idly flicked through a magazine, unable to read the short love stories, and casually looking at articles, until one caught her eye, and she read avidly. It was one about how to make ice-cream and it took her back years. Back to the time of her childhood, when her mother had given her a chance to make some. What fun they’d had. Catherine brushed a tear away at the memory, and very briefly she visualised herself helping Jacob trying his hand at this. The thought was a happy one, until she remembered she would never see him again, and it took a controlled effort to close the magazine and dismiss all thoughts of Jacob from her mind. If she was going to get through this, she simply had to stop thinking about him, already he was pulling on her heartstrings. Replacing the magazine in its rack on the back of the seat in front of her, Catherine closed her eyes, turning her attention to other things. She smiled she would need some sleep. If Joanna was anything to go by, there would be a wild night ahead of her, and she would need all the sleep she could get.
*** *** ***
The gentle rhythm on the pipes was always a pleasure to young Jacob. He was lulled to sleep by them, and the constant tapping of people sending messages to one another told him that he was never alone, though neither of his parents were ever far away.
His mother the one with the sweetness about her, would come and cradle him in her arms and sing to him, while his father would sit him in the crook of one arm, and while holding a book in his hand, he would sit and read to him. Jacob’s life was a happy one.
Yet this particular day, Jacob was restless. He shared a special Bond with both his parents, and he felt as though his mother had left him, and he was inconsolable.
Vincent cradled their son in his arms trying to soothe him. Catherine would arrive soon and weave her own particular brand of magic that would comfort the child. She always called in on her way to work, though the journey was a long one, and it meant she had to get up so much earlier, then she would call again after work and spend her evenings Below with her family. It was very tiring for her this way, and Vincent had begged her to live permanently in his world for her own sake, but she had maintained that she needed her career under the pretence of needing the salary. Vincent knew this was not the real reason, she was already a wealthy woman, but she would say, “And how long do you think that would last if we were to live on it, and not have the means to top it up.” And though he had told her that Below they would have everything they needed for all of their lives, thanks to their many helpers, still she found reasons not to live there. Sadly Vincent knew that Catherine was in great turmoil with not knowing what to do for the best. Jacob’s arrival had brought forth an untimely issue, when Catherine was doing well in her job at the D.A.’s office, and was reluctant to give it all up, yet knowing that really her place was with her son. Vincent hoped that in time she would find that the transition wouldn’t be so hard to deal with, and though he felt her place was with Jacob, he would never try to force the issue, she had to make that decision for herself. It would do no good if he were to suggest it to her again. Yet what a turn of events! Before Jacob was on the way, Catherine had begged for Vincent to let her live in his world, and he had refused saying that, Above, she lived for them both, for their dream. She carried their light, and she was helping so many people. Really he just could not fathom the way her heart had changed. When he felt that she would be inclined to stay with their child, and was at last agreeing to having her live Below, it seemed that she no longer wanted to do. It grieved him greatly, and he could only hope that her change of heart was temporary. She had changed such a lot just lately, almost as if she lived in another world other than the one Above and the one Below. Vincent couldn’t understand it, but Father had told him not to worry, many women feel that way after having a baby, but they get their life straightened out before long. He did not know that in truth Catherine simply did not want him to know of the nightmares she was having lest it hurt him deeply and would insist that he was the cause of them.
Vincent only knew what he could see and found it hard not to interfere with the way her emotions led her and not show her that she would find contentment in his world. There were so many people that needed help, and with her experience in helping others, she would be an asset in his world. But there was one other reason, perhaps the most important reason why he wanted her to give up her life Above, and that was with the disappearance of their Bond. He was no longer able to sense when she needed him, and with the dangers that often presented themselves within her career, he feared for her, and worried about her whenever she were late like today, he would pace up and down in anguish.
As Jacob’s distress became more and more apparent, Vincent grew agitated. The Bond that he and Catherine had once shared had manifested itself in their son, and he knew that Jacob could feel Catherine’s emotions, as well as he could his own.
Jacob was inconsolable by the time Father came hobbling down the steps, carrying a letter in his hand, “Vincent, this just came for you, its from Catherine.”
Taking the letter, Vincent handed Jacob into Father’s ever waiting arms, “I’ll take your son to Mary shall I, perhaps she can comfort him, while you read the letter. I expect Catherine is going to be late.”
But Vincent didn’t reply. Instead he sat fingering the envelope for some time. There was something about the way Catherine had scrawled his name that un-nerved him and he did not want to open it.
Slowly slipping one clawed finger beneath the seal he gradually slit it open to extract the piece of carefully folded paper from within. His first glance at the words made his eyes sting with tears as they tore at his heart.
‘My Dearest Vincent,
I am going away. I need to find myself again.
Try not to worry about me Vincent. In fact try to forget me.
I don’t expect to return. You and Jacob are better off without me.
My presence in your lives can only add to the pain that you
feel at not being able to share my world, and I do not feel capable
of sharing yours. My life complicates your own, and I feel it would
be better if I lived thousands of miles away from you, so that
the break is clean. I wish you a happy life Vincent, but it has to be without me.
Be Well and keep Jacob safe for me.
Love you always,
Vincent crumpled into a chair, staring at the letter. He could not believe that she had written those words. It was unreal, so unlike her. They had always talked over their problems and her own problems, she had never decided by herself what was best for him, for them both.
When Father came back, Vincent silently handed him the letter, unable to voice the words. Reading it without comment, Father could only read between the lines, as he studied Vincent’s face. He grew fearful for his son’s emotions, knowing what he was capable of, and he became increasingly worried when he realised he could not fathom what torture lay behind those eyes. It concerned him that Vincent made no move to dispel the pain that he felt, almost as if he were expecting it. Yet how? The previous evening Catherine had given no sign that she was uneasy about anything. A little weary perhaps, but that was usual, she made the long trek twice a day, except at weekends, when she would spend the whole time Below, with her son and Vincent, when she would have the whole two days to recuperate in preparation for the week ahead.
Father shook his head, how could he not have noticed something? Anything to have given him an inkling of her real feelings, perhaps they could have spoken about it, and avoided her departure.
At that thought he suddenly felt his own eyes filling with tears. He would really miss her, she had become like a daughter to him, and he had hoped that eventually she would come to live Below with them, and take up her rightful place in their lives.
Oh, he’d had doubts in the very beginning when first she had started to visit Vincent many months after her recovery after the attack. He had told Vincent time and again, that nothing good would come of the relationship, that she would only bring Vincent heartache. Trying to make his son face facts. Catherine was a beautiful and wealthy woman, and could have her pick of the influential men in the world Above. And that what they shared was no more than friendship, and could never be anything else, yet he could never alter Vincent’s view of the relationship or help him to deny the feelings that he had for her. And as these feelings for Catherine had intensified, Father had seen a dangerous situation between them unfolding.
Only Mary could see any good coming from the union, and he smiled now as he recollected her words, spoken so long ago, “Jacob, why do you fear for Vincent so? Do you not see the metamorphosis taking place here? From this relationship can only develop something beautiful for Catherine as well as Vincent, but mainly for Vincent. See how he has changed. Jacob do not let your eyes deny you the pleasure of seeing your son so in love and at peace within his soul. For the first time in his life, he has someone other than those of us here Below, that loves him despite his appearance. He needs this relationship Jacob. And he deserves it also.”
She had been so right of course. As she usually was on so many things. And from that day on, he had ceased to worry about Vincent and Catherine’s developing friendship, until he had received the crashing news that Catherine was expecting Vincent’s child! He had not been prepared for that and it was a shock to know that their relationship had developed so radically.
From that day on he had found he had never doubted Catherine again, that she had willingly given herself to his son, this son so different from any other, had secured her a permanent place within his affections, assuming that she would be a part of their lives forever.
So now as he re-read the letter, he shook his head again, trying to read between the lines to fathom her thoughts, her emotions, to know why she had felt compelled to get up and go so suddenly, without any warning. It just did not make sense.
Vincent remained seated, but he had burrowed his head into his folded arms upon the table, and Father could see that he was silently crying. Putting his hand upon Vincent’s shoulder, he patted him there, saying, “Vincent I am here when you need me,” then quietly he left the chamber to go in search of Mary.
For a long time, Vincent remained like that. He had not wanted Father to see his grief, and he did not know what to do. It was daytime, and he had hours to wait before he could go Above to Catherine’s apartment and see for himself that she had truly left him. Left him! Those words sounded so false to his ears. How often he had heard others say that their partner had left them. The enormity of it only now hit him. He felt as though a part of him had died, yet he would carry that deceased part around with him until the remainder of his body followed it.
How could she do it? It was so unlike her, and so totally, totally unexpected. The grief it caused him was absolute. He had never experienced pain like it, not even when Devin had left, believing that he had betrayed him.
He knew that Catherine had her own life, a life that excluded him, yet they had both accepted that. He could not believe that she would walk out of his life and leave behind their son without any warning, without real explanation. For with everything she had written, Vincent realised they were hollow reasons, lacking foundation. She had only highlighted the symptoms and not the cause.
Perhaps even she did not know why it was. Holding on to some Willo the Wisp emotion that she felt to be right.
Vincent longed for her so much. If only she had come to him, talked over her doubts with him, they could have found a solution together. And the remaining fact, the one that cut the deepest, was the fact that she had felt compelled to put so much space between them, so that he would not be able to trace her if she stayed in America. That is what hurt him the most, that she had felt the need to be so far away from him, and never expected to return.
Getting up from his chair, he paced the room deep in thought. He ran through everything in his mind that had taken place the previous evening, searching for clues but found none that made any sense. She had been tired, and had been having some bad dreams, though she appeared reluctant to tell him of their content, and he had guessed she had withheld this information so as not to hurt or worry him. She had, he admitted, kept a lot of things to herself of late. Since the hold on their Bond had relinquished she did not want him to be unduly worried about her movements Above, and only after a dangerous case was solved would she relent and tell him of the possible danger she could have been in until the criminal was behind bars. Last evening had been no exception. She had just completed a wearisome case, and had remained for longer than usual in the security of his arms, before leaving him with a kiss and heading for home, giving no indication of the events to follow. Now pulling his cloak around his shoulders he set off to walk the tunnels, so that he could think and think again. He would think until he could find some logical reason behind her sudden departure, until nightfall when he would go to her apartment and see for himself that she had really left him.
The tunnels had never seemed so dismal. For nearly four years he had walked them in a state of euphoria, thinking of Catherine. The tunnels had been a passageway to their re-union, bright with candlelight, in many ways romantic, especially when they had walked along them arm in arm. Now the eerie dankness almost frightened him, threatened to engulf him as their length became never ending. The light at the end of the tunnel was gone for him now, gone forever? Perhaps. He did not know. She said she would never return, but how could she not come back, to Jacob at least if not for him? He knew how she loved their child, he could not believe that she would never return to Jacob.
Reaching the whispering gallery he sat and listened. Was Catherine already thousands of miles away, or did one of the voices belong to her. He listened intently, but could not distinguish any familiarity among them. Wandering from place to place he finally found himself beside the mirror pool and was astounded to find Father already sitting there.
Approaching quietly, Father was startled when Vincent placed a hand upon his shoulder and sat down alongside him, stretching his long legs out to hang over the water’s edge.
They sat together in silence, until Father, unable to bear it no longer said, “Vincent I wish I knew what to say to you.”
Vincent didn’t quite know how to answer, or even if he wanted to do, so he said nothing. Instead he picked up a pebble and skimmed it across the water. Father counted silently as the pebble bounced five times upon the surface before sinking. He smiled and couldn’t help but say, “Well done Vincent, Devin would be proud of you.”
Vincent smiled, “ I have never accomplished anything quite so grand Father, usually they plop after the second bounce.”
“See if you can do it again Vincent.”
Vincent picked up another pebble and skimmed it across the surface of the pool. It bounced once, twice and then sank. The two of them burst out laughing.
Looking sideways at Vincent, as the laughter subsided, Father placed a hand on his arm, “Vincent, please let us talk about this.”
“About skimming stones Father?” Vincent teased lightly.
“I can’t believe it Vincent, she gave no indication....”
“Father please, I know that you mean well, but I do not want to speak about it.” Vincent interrupted.
“I think that you should. It isn’t something to bottle up, you know how your dark side will deal with it if you do.”
Vincent nodded, unable to speak.
“Do you mind if I talk about it then. I feel the need to do so?”
Vincent looked at his father, really looked. For the first time, he noticed the red puffiness around his eyes and knew that he had been crying.
“If that is what you wish.” he answered him.
“I do. I simply cannot believe that she would leave like this. A long time ago I expected it, but not now, especially not since having the baby, how could she leave him. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Vincent looked straight ahead, fiddling with another pebble between his fingers. Father could feel his tension and quickly he went on, “I’m sure she will come back Vincent, I’m sure she will. She must have been under some terrible stress that she kept well hidden, and when she recovers Vincent, she’ll be back. She has to do. You’ll see.”
“Her words sounded so final Father.” Vincent said at last, and Father did not miss how the words tore at Vincent’s heart when he spoke them, almost as if he had resigned himself to believing them.
“No, Vincent, I believe that she felt compelled to write them that way. Think about it Vincent, had she allowed herself any sentimentality, she would not have been able to carry out her plans. And whatever stress she was under that forced her to think so irrationally, will, once subsided compel her to return full of apology, and we can only be there to forgive her for hurting us so.”
“Do you really think so Father?” A faint glimmer of hope shone in Vincent’s blue eyes, which Father was relieved to see.
“Yes,” he replied with as much conviction as he could muster, Vincent must not know that he too had doubts, “I do.”
Vincent sighed, “Then I hope that you are right, though how I will get through the time until she does come to her senses I do not know.” he threw another pebble and watched again as it sank after the second bounce.
Father chuckled, “We will use the time to practice this art of skimming pebbles, do you know I used to be quite good at it.” Father chuckled, picking up a pebble and flicking it out across the water. He was jubilant when it bounced right across to the other side.
“Father, that was excellent! I bet you can’t do it again.”
“Bet I can. I taught Devin you know.” He said with a twinkle in his eye.
“Well now you can teach me.”
Momentarily the loss felt at Catherine’s sudden departure had subsided and Father felt happy with Vincent’s light-hearted mood, and wished only to lengthen it. However, he knew Vincent too well and if he did not keep an eye on his son, disastrous consequences could flare up. Even if the silliness of skimming pebbles temporarily healed his pain then Father was prepared to sit by the mirror pool skimming pebbles with Vincent until the day Catherine returned if he had to do. Just so long as doing so spared his son the pain of dwelling on Catherine’s absence.
Realising this, Vincent was grateful for Father’s kindness and the two of them spent the whole afternoon in this activity, until at last too stiff with cramp to play anymore the pair of them made their way back to the home chambers and shared a cup of herb tea together.
Yet Father could not prevent the cloak of darkness that eventually covered the world Above. Or shrug off the uneasiness that its arrival brought in the knowledge that as soon as it was completely dark, Vincent would go Above, to torture himself all over again on the balcony outside Catherine’s apartment.
Standing within the security of the storm drain entrance, Vincent watched as the night sky darkened sufficiently for him to feel safe enough to leave and make his way across the park towards the apartment block where Catherine lived. Already from ground level he could see that the apartment was in darkness, but that in itself wasn’t unusual because Catherine often worked late. With hope in his heart he scaled the building, to pull himself over the balcony wall of the eighteenth floor, and gaze through the glass of the French doors into the apartment within, as he had done hundreds of times before, while he waited for her. This night though, he did not hear the welcome sound of her key in the lock, nor the apartment flood with light or feel his heart leap as Catherine ran across the room to fling open the doors and run straight into his waiting arms.
Pacing up and down, he waited hopefully, telling himself many things, sure that at any moment she would come home and they would share the bliss of being in one another’s embrace once again.
Yet as the minutes ticked away into hours, and Vincent watched as the first streaks of dawn stretched out its fingers across the night sky to pull back the cloak of darkness, Vincent was forced to face facts and realise that Catherine really had left him. And despite what Father had assured him of her return, he could not visualise it. For once she had not confided in him. Their Bond was broken and he had no knowledge of her feelings anymore. For the first time since he had known her he felt alone, more alone than he had ever felt in his whole life and the agony that brought forced him to his knees to sob until his heart broke.
*** *** ***
The skidding of tyres on the wet tarmac woke Catherine. She had not even heard the Captain announce that they were preparing to land. Her sleep had for once been deep and dreamless, and Catherine felt she had made the right decision to leave America when she realised this. A corner of her heart still tugged, but she willed herself to dismiss the feeling, she had to try to get on with her life, without the influence of Vincent and Jacob. She had to forget all about them, her sanity depended upon it.
Gathering her hand luggage she followed the other passengers off of the aeroplane towards the arrivals lounge. It was the brink of dawn and she wondered if Joanna would be awake yet.
Finding a telephone kiosk she dialled the number and waited. It rang for ages before a sleepy ‘hello’ came at the other end. “Joanna”, Catherine enquired. Instantly Joanna was wide awake. “Cathy! Are you here already. That’s terrific. Which terminal? Okay, I’ll be there in about an hour.”
Catherine replaced the receiver with a big smile on her face, and then collected the rest of her luggage as it went round on the conveyor belt, while she waited for her friend.
With her bags beside her, she then sat down opposite the doors, and found herself idly watching as families moved to and fro around the airport, and try as she might to keep back the thoughts against it, her mind kept returning to Jacob. What was he doing right now? She looked at her watch, it would be late evening over there, and he should be sleeping. Her arms ached to hold him, and she found her eyes wandering wistfully back to the departure lounge. Should she go back?
She hadn’t realised that her feet had found minds of their own until she heard someone speak to her from behind the ticket desk, “Yes Madam, what will it be. Which destination?” and found herself fumbling in her bag for her credit cards. She had bought a one way ticket from New York. The desk clerk looked at her impatiently, there was a long queue behind her, “Perhaps if you would just tell me where you wish to go, I could be making out the ticket while you search for your purse madam.” he told her.
Catherine stared blankly at him, “You do wish to take a flight do you Madam?”
“Come on hurry up, I’ve a connection to make.” someone cried from behind, and she found them pushing past her to get to the desk.
An angry retort froze on her lips, as she heard someone shouting her name, “Cathy! Cathy!” turning she saw Joanna running towards her, “What are you doing? You aren’t leaving already are you?” Joanna took her arm, and led her away from the desk, “This your luggage, hey what’s the matter?” Looking into Catherine’s face, Joanna was dismayed to see tears gathering in her friends eyes and threatening to overflow. “Cathy what’s wrong,” she asked as she took her arm, “Come on Cathy let’s go home, and you can tell me all about it.”
‘Home’, thought Catherine, ‘Home. Where was home?’
Guided by Joanna, she allowed herself to be led through the airport and out into the sunshine to the taxi rank, her voice cracking as she made a light hearted attempt at some conversation, “ A taxi Joanna, but where is that fabulous car you are always raving about?”
Joanna laughed out loud, “Cathy it is fabulous, and I promise I will take you out in it later, but after all the drinking I did last night, I thought it best that I left it at home. I wouldn’t want to have killed you before you’d had a chance to live you know.”
The taxi took them to some converted luxury apartments off of Kensington High Street. It had a wonderful view of Hyde Park and Joanna thought this would cheer Catherine up. “From Central Park to Hyde Park, now you can feel at home while you stay with me.”
Catherine looked wistfully at the park. It wasn’t her park. And she doubted very much that below it would be another world. His world. Huh!, she chided herself, ‘there I go, thinking about him again, I shall have to stop it, or I’ll go mad’, already her head ached with a dull thud.
“We’ll have some light breakfast shall we Cath, and then go out for a run, blow the cobwebs off so to speak. After that you can get your head down for a few hours, I’m sure you must be exhausted.”
Catherine smiled, ‘always the same Joanna. Fitness and health, that was Joanna.’ Still perhaps she was right a good run would do her good, and might help her to clear her thinking.
Joanna’s home was beautiful, Catherine noticed as they bundled inside with all the luggage, “Hi puss-puss, want your breakfast huh?” Joanna bent to pick up her cat, “Cathy, meet Jasper he lives here too.”
Cathy stroked the ginger fur of the cat, and really looked at him. His face reminded her of Vincent. She shook herself, did everything have to remind her of him?
Muesli?” Joanna handed her a bowl full and walked across to the table to put her own down upon it, as well as a jug of fresh orange juice.
“Coffee?” she asked Catherine, “Do you still take it black without sugar?”
“Mmm please.”, Catherine replied walking across to stand on the terrace overlooking Hyde Park. The sun was well up now, and people were out jogging through the park. London was waking up. It was a week day and soon the streets would be throbbing with life.
Commuters would be pouring into London from every quarter to work or to tour within the hour. Catherine allowed her mind to drift back to the time when she and Joanna had first met in the city. She had been sixteen at the time and had gone to London with her father who was there on business. He had many things to attend to, so Catherine had been left to her own devices, and had found much joy in wandering around the Olde London. Cobbled streets, the Tower of London, the Embankment alongside the Thames. These were the places where Catherine had found the love of her life, old bookstores, yet as she had wandered down tiny alleyways she had quickly become lost and had stopped to ask another young girl the way back to the nearest subway station.
As if reading her thoughts, Joanna came to stand alongside her on the terrace, telling her, “Yes I remember that day too. Just think what we would have missed out on if you hadn’t of been lost and stopped to ask me the way.”
“You were lost too!” Catherine exclaimed laughing at her.
“Now that’s more like it Cathy. I have really missed your laughter. I must do everything within my power to hear you laugh more often.”
Catherine walked across to the table and sat down. She spooned at the muesli deep in thought, and spooned it over and over without eating any. Joanna saw the sadness in her friend’s eyes, and frowned. “What is it Cathy, come on you can tell me?” Catherine shook her head, where could she begin? She and Joanna used to share everything, now she didn’t know what to say to her.
“Is it a man?” asked Joanna.
Catherine wrinkled the side of her mouth, “Sort of”, she replied.
“What kind of answer is that Cathy. Either it is or it isn’t.”
“No Joanna, its not. Really it is a sort of. I can’t tell you, I would be breaking a promise.”
“So it is a man?”
Catherine shook her head, “Sort of”, she replied lamely. To her Vincent was more than a man, but how would Joanna view him?
“Wow Cathy, you’ve lost me. Come on Cathy, you know you can tell me. You haven’t just flown thousands of miles to keep me in the dark, and you know I am a good listener, and we’ve always helped each other in the past.”
Catherine nodded, “Yes Joanna I know that, but this time its different, and really I don’t know where to begin.”
“Just start at the beginning.”
“Its not that easy.”
Joanna was not to be put off. Going across to the table, she sat down opposite her friend, “Do you love him this sort of a man?”
Catherine smiled, unknowingly Joanna had put it well. “Yes”, she replied simply.
“Then what is the problem. Oh, is he married? That’s it isn’t it, he’s married and he won’t leave his wife?”
“No Joanna, he isn’t married, he never has been. I just can’t see him anymore that’s all.”
“Why not, is he in jail?”
Catherine thought about that, yes he was in a kind of prison. A prison from life. Never having the right to be free as she was, her presence in his life, only emphasised how much of a prisoner he was in his own world.
“That’s a very enigmatic look Cathy. Is that it then? He’s in jail right. And with you being a lawyer, you can’t see him anymore.”
“Wrong, Joanna”. A prisoner he might be but a criminal he wasn’t.
“Mmm.” said Joanna thoughtfully, “This is going to be a hard one to crack, rather like pulling teeth, but you will tell me eventually, I’ve never lost a case yet.”
“I wouldn’t count on it.” Catherine mumbled, and though she smiled, Joanna was given the distinct impression that Catherine really did intend keeping her problem to herself, and that saddened her.
Eating their breakfast in silence, (though Catherine pushed most of her own around the dish, until it soaked up all the milk and formed a hard lump), Joanna glanced at her friend from time to time, without speaking, startled when Catherine jumped up and said; “Well how about that run then Joanna?” Her voice was filled with so much enthusiasm that it left Joanne quite stunned.
For a moment she didn’t know what to say, but as a slow smile spread upon Catherine’s face, Joanna found herself able to respond; “That’s my line,” she told her, rising to her feet to take the dishes across to the dishwasher, “Come on then, unpack your trainers and follow me.”
The park was full of people by the time they had finished their run and returned to the apartment, and Catherine felt really tired, “I can’t understand it Joanna, I slept really soundly on the plane.”
“Jet-lag Cathy. Where you live you would be sleeping through the night right now. Or would you? Perhaps you would be sharing some intimacy with Mr. Mystery, huh?”
“No Joanna, he doesn’t sleep over.”
“What! Cathy! What kind of relationship is this? You love him, he loves you, ah huh, we haven’t exactly covered that have we? I take it he does return your feelings?”
Catherine smiled, that beautiful smile. If smiles were words Joanna would have known everything.
“He must be pretty special Cathy?”
“He is”, she replied dreamily, “Look Joanna, I know you mean well, but really I don’t want to talk about him, I came over here to forget.”
“Okay, okay, I’ll give you some space, but just answer me one tinsy wincy question, please.” Joanna ventured pretending to be hurt.
“Does he love you?”
“More than life.” Catherine replied, ashamed to find tears welled in her eyes as she told her.
Joanna shook her head. She could not understand for what possible reason Catherine wanted to forget him. She knew how Catherine had fantasised about having a beautiful relationship. To love and be loved that was Catherine’s philosophy. Yet now she had it in her grasp she had walked away from it. It just did not make sense. There had to be more to it than met the eye.
“Are you happy now?” Catherine laughed as she watched the many varied expressions chase their way across Joanna’s face.
“No, but I will be. You will tell me, you know how good I am at extracting the truth” playfully she shone a flashlight in Catherine’s eyes, “I have wayz of making you talk.”
Catherine burst out laughing, “Not this time Joanna, not this time.”
*** *** ***
“Doesn’t anyone know where she has gone?” Peter Alcott, Catherine’s GP, paced up and down Father’s chamber frantically.
“No, she sent word to Vincent saying she had to go, and that she isn’t intending on coming back. Vincent is distraught.” Father looked at Peter sadly.
“That I can imagine and no doubt it will take a heavy toll on him, but it is Catherine that I am more concerned with right now. She has post natal depression, did you know that?”
Father shook his head, “No, and she gave no indication of it.”
“It’s a strange illness Jacob, one moment full of life, the next feeling dejected and weepy. It’s certainly not the right time to start making major changes in life. She could do anything.”
Father was horrified, “She wouldn’t hurt herself though would she Peter?”
“She could do anything. Cathy is like an unexploded bomb right now. The slightest thing could set it off. She needs medication, but she refused to take any, above all she needs to be around people that love her, and especially with her baby.”
“When did she come to see you Peter?”
“A little over a week ago. When I saw her she was on a real downer, she frightened me then. I prescribed the medication telling her she had a brain imbalance caused by the depression, and she laughed at me. It was good to get that response from her, but I was still worried, she needed that medication, and she refused to even pick it up. She simply took the depression too lightly, telling me everything would be all right when the weekend came and she could spend two whole days Below with Vincent and Jacob. I made her promise to come to see me as of yesterday. I grew fearful when she did not come. You know even last week, I could tell there was something on her mind. I’ve been trying to ring her, but all I get is that damn answer machine, and her boss doesn’t know anymore than we do, she didn’t even let him know she was going away.”
“Now that is unlike her. Its almost as if she did everything on the spur of the moment Peter.”
“She probably did. My guess is, she was feeling pretty miserable, and then suddenly got a bright spark flash through her head, and she clung to it like a lifeline. Did you know she was having nightmares?
“No, she never said. Were they bad?”
“Pretty much. And often the same, she wouldn’t go into any depth about them, just said that they were about Vincent and Jacob.”
Father grimaced, “I can imagine the content, and repeatedly these nightmares would have left their mark.”
“Yes. Look she has got to be somewhere Jacob, though it is a big world, perhaps she has gone to stay with friends.”
“If she has then it won’t be around here. Her letter spoke of her going thousands of miles away, she could be anywhere. Would she have had time to arrange something with a friend?”
Peter nodded, “Cathy is such a nice person, any long lost friend would have been delighted to have her stay at the drop of a hat. But I have a list at home of most of her acquaintances, I’ll go through and call every darn one of them if I have to do, believe me Jacob, I will find her, if its the last thing I do.”
“Is there anything we can do here?”
“Yes, just in case she changed her mind, have the helpers search around America for her, however long it takes.”
After Peter had left, Father sat thinking about his words. Post-Natal depression covered a lot of ground. He could visualise now the little things in Catherine’s behaviour. She had said nothing. Maybe she did not know herself, but on recollection he could remember a time or two when he had caught her sat staring off into space, and was so deep in thought she had not heard his approach and had visibly jumped when he had spoken to her. Nonetheless these actions did not automatically make one suffer from Post-Natal depression. Father decided he would check through his medical journals on the subject and see if he could find any real clues by her behaviour, and go over his findings with Vincent later.
*** *** ***
London was, in many respects more interesting than New York, though just as busy, and Catherine and Joanna were re-living every moment of that first meeting together. Just like sixteen year olds again, they visited all the same shops and tourist attractions. Catherine was especially fond of the Planetarium in Baker Street. Lying back in her seat and gazing up at the domed screen, she let herself imagine she was travelling in a spaceship through the universe, seeing myriad’s of stars and stopping to visit planets that were millions of light years away.
The Eagles Nest Nebula where towering columns of star burst flew out for thousands of miles was spectacular. And Catherine found it awesome that her own Milky Way Galaxy was so vast that if one could travel at the speed of light it would still take one hundred thousand years to cross it from side to side! And the solar system that housed the earth, moon and stars was positioned within the Milky Way, so that one could not only look out at other infinite galaxies, but could also look into our own. Out there in space there were thought to be as many as one hundred billion galaxies, like clusters of grapes on a vine, each holding vast numbers of stars and planets within its own universe. Catherine found herself repeatedly thinking about how much Vincent would have loved being at the Planetarium to see it all.
Next door there was Madam Tussauds, and she and Joanna had a great time taking photographs of themselves alongside all the waxworks of famous people. They were so lifelike. From there they got into Joanna’s fabulous red jaguar and drove along the blue and gold railings surrounding Buckingham Palace. There they parked the car and got out to make fun of the Scots Guards in their red and black uniforms, while they were forced to stand with feet astride for hours outside the palace doors without so much as moving an eye-ball.
Catherine and Joanna found themselves compelled to wave at them with the intention of making them wave back. They were impressed by their ability to ignore them. Giggling like schoolgirls they then walked into St. James’ Park to walk alongside the river and feed the ducks and swans, and Catherine quickly became surrounded by flocks of pigeons, much to Joanna’s delight, as she clicked merrily away with the camera.
Suddenly Catherine pointed to a sign, “Hey look Joanna. Regents Park Zoo. We have simply got to go there. Do you remember that camel?” Catherine bent over double with laughter at the memory.
“Oh yes, the one that tried to kiss you with his fat lips...how could I have forgotten?”
“No not that one. I mean the one that you slipped off of, and ended up beneath its belly with it hissing at you.”
“Trust you to remember that. I felt such a fool, and then that keeper said he betted that I had the hump, and you laughed so much you almost peed yourself.”
Catherine’s sides ached with laughter, and then they laughed even harder as men in pinstriped suits gave her a wide berth as they passed by through the park. The sight of this woman covered in pigeons laughing her head off was too much for the demure London male at five o’clock on a Friday afternoon. America seemed far away, almost on another planet, and Catherine was happy that she had chosen to stay with Joanna, she had not had so much fun in ages.
“Well Cathy, if you are ready, we had best be getting back, and leave Regents Park for another day. Jasper will be wanting his dinner, and if you and I are to be out all night we will need to get some rest.”
“Out all night?”
“But of course Cathy. This is London, you can’t stay at home, its insane. Now I know this brilliant night club, and I can’t wait to take you there you will simply love it.”
And Joanna had been right. Catherine couldn’t remember a time when she had danced so much or so fast. The music exhilarated her, liberated her from the thoughts that had held her down and gave her a carefree feeling of contentment. Joanna was still on the dance floor oblivious to the open admiration of onlookers as her lithe body gyrated to the beat, when Catherine felt she had to go and sit down for a rest. The last time she had witnessed Joanna dancing like this, was when Joanna had stayed with her in America and Joe had taken them both out. Joe! Catherine was appalled, as she realised she hadn’t even asked him for time off before leaving America. He would be so worried. Checking her watch, she decided to call him, he might still be at his apartment, and if she hurried she could catch him before he left for work. Turning round to seek out a telephone, she bumped into a man standing alongside her that she hadn’t noticed earlier.
“Leaving already? Not on my account I hope.” he asked her mischievously, taking hold of her arm to steady her, as she swayed slightly.
Catherine looked up at him ready to apologise, yet instantly she disliked him. There was something about him that immediately made the hairs on the back of her neck, stiffen. It was his eyes they seemed to pierce right into her soul. Cool grey expressionless eyes, that made her feel as though he had just stripped her naked both physically and mentally and knew every thought in her head. Catherine didn’t like the feeling he gave her at all.
“So...” he drawled, “You are one of Joanna’s friends, have you known one another long. I have never seen you here with her before?”
Catherine tried to get past him, “Excuse me but I have to find a telephone, it’s urgent.”
“American too, now I am intrigued. Did you meet Joanna when she went there on holiday a few years back?”
Catherine tried unsuccessfully to withdraw her arm from his grasp, without being un-polite, but he held on firmly until she decided that if she answered him he might let her go. “No, I’ve known Joanna for many years, and I am staying with her for a while.”
Slowly, digesting the information he nodded, but he still held her captive.
“Perhaps you would allow me to show you the sights while you are here, and let me get to know you better. What’s your name?”
Catherine felt herself grow hot. She wondered if she should use one of Isaac’s tackles on him to free herself.
“No thank you.” she told him through gritted teeth, “Now if you would just let go of my arm, I really must make that call.”
“What and have you disappear into the night. No, I’m sorry but I won’t, well not until you have at least told me your name, you aren’t very polite are you?”
Catherine shook her head, “Look I just want to be left alone, can’t you take a hint?”
“Generally not. And I also ignore pointed remarks. You are a very attractive lady, and I would like to get to know you better. And if you aren’t going to tell me your name, I will just have to insist that you show me your pass card.”
“Your pass card. Joanna is a member here, but her guests have to have pass-cards with their names on them. If you don’t have one, I’m afraid I shall have to escort you outside.”
Catherine felt herself redden, she could not tell if it were from embarrassment or anger, all she knew was that she had to get Joanna’s attention and quickly. Signalling to her friend frantically, she was annoyed when Joanna just waved back but didn’t venture over. The man noticed her frustration and was amused by it.
“Joanna may have the pass card, but even if I had it, I can see no reason why I should show it to you. Its none of your business who I am.”
“Then let me introduce myself, seeing as you won’t. Perhaps then you will be encouraged to speak to me. My name is Larry Jameson and I own this and several other night-clubs around London and Paris. Usually beautiful women are queuing up for my attention. I find it a refreshing change that you are not.”
“If there were a queue for you here tonight, you would find me at the far end of it. Has no-body ever told you how opinionated you are. You do not interest me at all.” Usually Catherine would not have been so callous, but her loathing for the man increased with every passing second.
“Then I shall find you a real challenge, and you will come to learn that I do not give up that easily.”
The temptation to hit him was great as Catherine saw to her relief that Joanna had left the dance floor and was threading her way through the crowds towards them.
“Hi Larry, how are you? So you’ve met my pal Catherine, she’s from America. Its Cathy I stayed with when I went over there. Has she told you?”
“Catherine... Now there’s a beautiful name, see how well it slips off the tongue, Cath..er,,ine, so easy to say.”
Joanna did not miss the vibrations that passed between Larry and Catherine, yet mistaking it for something else, she whispered to Catherine, “He is gorgeous isn’t he, and he is really rich. He owns this place and numerous others. If he asks you out Cathy, say yes. You won’t regret it.”
But Catherine was still recoiling from the way he had uttered her name, to pay much attention to her friend. Tears had pricked her eyes when he had said it, and the sudden longing for Vincent’s arms around her was too much to bear. She felt she was going to cry.
Mistaking the look on her face for surprise, Larry who had overheard Joanna’s little speech, was triumphant, thinking he had won this beautiful woman round after all, until he heard her next words when he frowned. “Joanna do you mind if we leave now, I have to ring Joe.”
Larry’s heart sank, “Joe? Your boyfriend?”
Joanna laughed, “No her boss.”
Larry looked relieved, “Then you don’t have a boyfriend?”
“She does actually, but she won’t talk about him Larry, she is being very secretive about him, perhaps you can get her to open up. I’ve tried and its nigh impossible.” she laughed.
“If she will accept my invitation for dinner tomorrow night, I’d like nothing better, but I’m afraid she hasn’t given me an answer yet. I must say she intrigues me.”
Catherine had enough. “Pardon me you two, but I am still here you know.”
Larry and Joanna laughed loudly, “How could we have forgotten?” Larry drawled, “But if you won’t tell me about yourself, then I must get my information elsewhere. You can hardly blame me.”
The man really was too much. Even Joanna had annoyed her. To have these two people speaking over her as if she wasn’t there, and what’s more to be talking about her, she was furious. Shaking her arm free from his grasp, she leaned across the table and withdrew her jacket from the back of a chair, retorting, “I’ll make my own way back to your apartment Joanna, do you have a key that I can let myself in with?”
“There’s no need to be like that Cath. We were only have fun.”
“Yes at my expense. Do you have that key or not?” Catherine held her hand out, waiting.
“Hey don’t be so touchy, this is very unlike you Catherine. You used to be such fun.” then turning to Larry as she fumbled for the key, she told him, “You must excuse her Larry, I expect its jet-lag talking, she only flew in today.”
“There is no need to apologise for me Joanna. Yes I am tired, but not in the way you think. I’m tired of people not minding their own business and not taking no for an answer. I think I would do well to find myself alternative accommodation, I can see it may be the only way I will get some peace.”
“Well if you’re going to be like that, here take the damn key, pack your things and go. See if I care.” Joanna threw the key at Catherine and flounced off.
“You’ve lost a good friend there.” Larry told her.
“Yes, thanks to you, and so has she.” Catherine replied sadly, as she walked away.
Arriving back at the apartment, Catherine was welcomed by Jasper’s purrs and warm body sliding between her legs as she walked through the darkness towards the terrace. Standing outside moments later she looked out across the park. Everything had gone wrong, and she had never felt so wretched. She and Joanna were such good friends. Was it really her fault?
Joanna had changed though, and Catherine had noticed that she did drink rather a lot, perhaps it had been the drink talking. Once they had been so close, and she didn’t really think Joanna intended her to pack her bags and go, but she wondered whether she should anyway. Being with well meaning friends was perhaps not such a good idea after all. She really had to be by herself, to think things through in her own time.
Her leaving America suddenly seemed to have been the wrong thing to have done. The longing for Vincent was growing unbearable, and Catherine felt very weary all of the sudden.
Going back inside she went to the bathroom and run herself a hot shower, before going to bed for what was left of the night, but could not sleep while the events of the past few hours circled her mind. It seemed hours later when she heard Joanna’s key in the lock and push the door of her room open, flooding it with a shaft of light from the lounge, to see if she were awake, “Cathy?”
“Cathy I’m so sorry. Can you forgive me, I promised to be here for you, and then I treated you so badly. I’ve managed to put Larry off for tomorrow, but he is so insistent, and he plans to call you on the phone anyway, but really Cathy once you get to know him, he can be quite the gentleman.”
Catherine let out a deep sigh, “I’m not interested in dating anyone Joanna. You don’t seem to understand, I know you mean well but I need space not complications. And I am not very good company right now, my mind is too mixed up. There is so much I have to think about, and no-one can help me to do this, whatever I decide has to come from me, and me alone. If you knew how it is you would understand.”
“Then try me Cathy.”
“No Joanna, this is something I simply have to work out for myself.”
“I’ve never seen you look so miserable Cathy, whatever it is surely love can find a way to sort it. You said that you love one another, you should be with him discussing your problem, not thousands of miles away with me.”
Catherine nodded, sitting up in bed, and let the silent tears fall, “I know that Joanna, but he is so kind hearted, so reasonable, so strong he would let me go if he thought I wanted that, and really I don’t know what it is I do want, except for things to be different.”
Joanna sat down on the side of Catherine’s bed and took up her hands in her own, she could feel as well as see the turmoil within her friend, see the anguish in her eyes and her heart went out to her.
“Did you mean it when you said you would be finding someplace else to stay?”
“At the time yes, and then when I was on the way home, I calmed down and was against it, but now, I don’t know Joanna, I think my mood swings could be a bit too much for our friendship to take, and I don’t want to do or say anything that could harm it. So I think it would be best if I did leave.”
Joanna nodded sadly, Cathy was probably right, yet she hated to think of her all alone somewhere when she obviously could do with a shoulder to cry on.
“Cathy are you ill?”
“Why do you say that?”
“I don’t know the thought just crossed my mind. I have a colleague who came under similar stress when she found a lump in her breast. She told me it was as if life had caved in on her, and she struggled to get out of herself. She slipped from one emotion to another in a matter of seconds.”
“Much like me I suppose.”
“Yes, so, are you ill?”
“No, well not like that.”
“Then like what?”
Catherine shrugged, “Well to be honest I don’t think it is anything, but Peter, you remember Peter my GP,” Joanna nodded, “he seems to think I have post...I mean some kind of depression.”
Joanna drew her brows together, it was unlike Catherine to say the wrong thing, “Post what Cathy? What were you going to say?”
Catherine took a deep breath, “He believes I have Post-Natal depression.”
“You’ve had a baby!”
“Where is it?”
“He’s with his father. Look Joanna, leave it there will you, I’ve already said too much, please, please don’t ask me another question.”
“But Cathy you need to talk to someone about this, its obvious that you do.” Yet Catherine’s look of determination told her that she would not. At least Post-Natal depression answered all her questions. Cathy would not know which way she was going right now, and anything she said, might not necessarily be for real, because what would seem right one moment would seem wrong the next.
All Joanna could do was be there for her whenever she needed to talk, and not pressurise her to say more than she needed to say, Catherine had to work it out for herself.
“I wish you had told me this from the beginning Cath, I wouldn’t have been so heartless. Please don’t go, stay here until you have worked things out, you know you are welcome, and I promise not to force you to speak about anything.”
Catherine smiled, “Famous last words. I’ll think about it. But really finding myself some space seems a good idea right now. I feel the need to be alone, I’d be a pretty poor guest to have around the place in this frame of mind anyway.”
“Well think it over then, I have to get to bed now, I’m so tired, can I get you anything?”
“No, I’ll try to get some sleep too, see you tomorrow.”
“Yeah, see you tomorrow.” Catherine didn’t know how good those words were to Joanna, who had come home expecting to find her friend had already gone, and as she went to her own bed she thought about Catherine’s baby. Whatever Catherine’s problem was it must go deep for her to have been able to leave her own child, though she had heard that this emotion was commonplace with post natal depression.
Nonetheless, she was concerned that it had hit someone like Catherine, who had always seemed so sure of herself and what she wanted in life. And that worried her a lot.
Catherine for her part, had begun to regret telling Joanna about any of it. She felt she had betrayed Vincent. Yet hadn’t she betrayed him the moment she stepped onto that aeroplane taking her far away from him? Her throat tightened with unshed tears. What was it Joanna had said? ‘Really she should have been with Vincent talking over these problems.’ Catherine knew that now, yet she was still uncertain about her return, having at least made the break then time and distance would afford her the chance to put things into perspective and reach a final conclusion about their relationship and future. Quickly making up her mind, she knew she had to leave, she would go before Joanna was up, slip quietly away and find herself somewhere else to stay until she got her thoughts under control.
The sound of the telephone ringing finally woke Joanna.
“Hey Cathy, get that will you, you’re nearest.”
There was no reply, probably Catherine was still sleeping, Joanna thought, pulling herself out of bed to answer the telephone.
“Joanna is that you?”
“Yes, who is this?” The voice sounded familiar and very American.
“Its Peter here, Peter Alcott, you know Catherine Chandler’s GP. Now I don’t want to worry you but....”
“Its okay, Peter I know you aren’t ringing to say Cathy has had an accident or something.”
“You do, how?”
“Because she is asleep in the next room at my place.”
She heard Peter sigh, “Thank God.”
“Nothing now. I’m so pleased that I have found her, we have been searching for the past week, and I have tried to contact everyone I know of to help.”
“I don’t understand doc, didn’t Cathy tell anyone she was coming over here?”
“No, she never told a soul. Well she left a letter with someone she cares about, but didn’t say where she was going, only that she was leaving.”
“That would be her mystery man right?”
“Oh forget it. So now you know she is here, should I wake her and put her on?”
“No, please no. Look Joanna I would be very grateful if you didn’t let her know I have rang you. I’ll tie up some loose ends here and catch the next available flight over. I need to speak with her face to face.”
“Is everything all right then, with her family I mean?”
“Her family?” How much did Joanna know, Peter wondered, he couldn’t imagine Catherine telling anyone about Vincent.
“Her baby. She let it slip she has Post-Natal depression.”
“She did, what she actually acknowledges the fact?”
“Well now that I can’t confirm. She said that you believe that’s what she has, but I wouldn’t go as far as believing that she feels she’s got it.”
“How have you found her Joanna?”
“Terribly confused. Very touchy, we had a blue last evening, I thought I’d come home and find she had packed her bags and left.”
“Joanna, whatever you do, you mustn’t let her leave. She needs all the friends she can get right now. Promise me, you will look after her, be there for her, but don’t pressure her into talking if she doesn’t want to do.”
“I’m afraid I’ve already tried that, Peter. It was one of the reasons we fell out, but I think she is okay about that now, at least she has forgiven me. Look doc, when you arrive get a cab straight over to my place, and I’ll try to make sure we are in. Will you be setting off today?”
“Hopefully yes, I’ll do my very best to be with you in about twelve hours.”
“Okay doc, see you later.”
They hung up and a loud meow from Jasper made Joanna go and get him some food. The apartment seemed awfully quiet somehow. Joanna decided not to look in on Catherine, obviously she needed to sleep and not be disturbed, and wondered what Cathy would say if she knew Peter was coming all the way over from America just to see that she was all right. “Well Jasper, here you are, and don’t forget to use the cat-flap if you need the loo, don’t leave any nasty little surprises for Aunt Cathy, huh? Right then, I’ll see you later, I’m going back to bed.”
*** *** ***
Peter sent a message to Vincent and Father immediately via a helper who took it Below at once.
“Vincent!” Father exclaimed, as he opened the note and hobbled down the steps towards Vincent’s own chamber, “A message has just arrived from Peter, he has located Catherine.”
“He’s found her?” Vincent flopped wearily back into a chair with relief, “Where?”
“Well not exactly found her, but he knows where she is, and is leaving today to go to her. She is staying with a friend named Joanna, in London, England.”
Vincent let out a sigh. He was grateful to know where Catherine was, and to know she was safe, but it disturbed him that she was in fact far away, and grieved him to know that she had done as she had said, to put thousands of miles between them. He wondered if Peter could persuade her to return. And his heart felt heavy with not knowing the answer to that question.
*** *** ***
To be continued in Chapter Five - click on 'Next' below:
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