Once In A Lifetime - Part 2

Chapters 11 & 12

Once in a lifetime, you find the one you really love
From now and forever, one love that never ends
Once in a lifetime, when every star that lights the sky
Will shine with one reason,
leading your heart to the one love you find
Just once in a lifetime
(Michael Bolton)

The story continues...


Chapter 11

As Devin was speaking to his father, Melanie was in her bed sit pondering what she should wear that day. Naturally whatever it was had to be suitable for her job and she also wanted to look a million dollars for Devin. She pulled all her clothing from the tiny wardrobe lay it on the bed and began selecting two pieces that would go together, in style and colour and eventually decided on none of them, but rather to wear her usual navy suit of skirt and jacket with a crisp white blouse beneath. Checking herself in the mirror Melanie couldn’t help thinking that she looked what she was, hard and as soon as she thought it, the tears gathered and started to fall. All her life she had wanted to appear inflexible, as though nothing thrown her way would touch her or would see her break, but that recent experience with the suave Elliot Burch had changed all of that. Melanie supposed some might have past it off as one of life’s little experiences, or a hindrance best out of the way, but Mel couldn’t accept that, it had taken a great deal of self respect and willpower over the years to go just so far with the boys she had dated, that only ever one time in bed with Devin and interrupted by Catherine something that she knew would have changed everything. Had Catherine not have arrived, Mel knew without a doubt that with Devin, everything she had ever believed in would have changed. She loved him, although that love had developed over the years. At the time of going to bed with him, she had been attracted to his irresistible charm and good looks. It was only later when absence made the heart grow fonder did she admit how much she loved him.

Turning from the mirror, Mel sighed, maybe today was a mistake, maybe being close to him would turn sour, perhaps it would be best to keep her distance and let the love she felt for him die a natural death. Prolonging the agony couldn’t help her, and she had already spent too many years thinking, dreaming about him, wanting a life with him, wondering where he was. Even so, though she argued the facts, she knew she would go. She hungered for the sight of him, deciding to absorb every little detail for the time when she would see him no more. Briefly she wondered if he’d let her take a photograph and went to the drawer where she kept her camera, but the moment she clapped eyes on the little silver box, she shut the drawer again, deciding she would be too embarrassed to ask.

Her clock struck eight, and startled Mel jumped. She was late, she had to catch two trains and a bus to make it to her office in time for nine, and she grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl, made sure she had everything she would need for the day and walked toward the door. It stuck as she pulled at it, just as it always did, and the dingy room she was leaving seemed to mock her threatening that she was imprisoned in its gloom for the rest of the day. With a hefty kick, Mel landed the door a blow where it always stuck at the bottom, and then heaved it from the top. It opened top first bending inwards, creaking under the pressure and suddenly gave with an almighty whoosh that sent her stumbling back a few feet. ‘One day,’ Mel spoke aloud ‘I’ll have an apartment like Cathy’s.’ She grimaced, fought back more tears and slammed her bed sit door shut behind her. ‘Who was she kidding? She was a kid from the wrong side of life and she would never have what the Cathy’s of the world had not if she lived a million years, or not unless she married someone like Elliot Burch perhaps.’ Mel recoiled, could she stoop so low? Just for riches? Were they everything? Would money bring her happiness? For a while she had thought they would, now she wasn’t so sure. Devin’s face and laughing eyes swam before her and Mel knew she would only be happy if she had someone like him to call her own…no, she would only be happy if she had him to call her own. She checked her watch, four hours to go and she would see him again, it would likely go slowly because she wanted it so bad, even so butterflies flitted in her stomach and she hurried to begin her otherwise gloomy day, knowing it would soon be broken by a ray of sunshine that was Devin’s smile.

*** *** ***

Catherine stirred her eyes heavy, her limbs heavier still, everywhere ached and she rolled to one side and was instantly awake. Beneath her small pebbles pressed against her skin and she looked about her wondering where the blanket had gone. Surprised she noticed that at some point in the night she had rolled right off them and away from Vincent’s side, why she had done that beat her, perhaps she had felt too hot. The moment she sat up Vincent rolled over and lay looking at her, his blue eyes appearing dull and sad and instantly Catherine was concerned, “Vincent? What’s the matter?” He said nothing, just tilted his head so that she could not look into his eyes. Catherine shuffled over to where he lay and placed a hand to his brow, “Aren’t you feeling well?” She asked concerned. He removed her hand from his brow and placed it in her lap, still he said nothing. Hysteria rose inside Catherine, and she sought through the connection she shared with him but found nothing but a solid wall between them. “Vincent? What’s wrong?” She shook him suddenly afraid. Overnight he had changed from the considerate loving man she would remember all her life to this solid wall of nothingness and she didn’t understand why. Suddenly she had an idea but it was a colossal one, and she didn’t entirely believe it could be so, but there was nothing else that would account for his behaviour. “Vincent, do you regret what we did last night?”

She had his attention now, and slowly he shook his head and stunned her when he said, “No, but I fear that you do.”

“Me!” Catherine cried and then laughed loudly, “Me? Never! Vincent I love you and I loved how you treated me, how could I ever regret something like that?” She laughed some more only quietening when she saw he was deadly serious. “Oh come on Vincent, you have to believe me.”

“You’re body tells me otherwise.” He told her flatly.

Confused Catherine asked, “My body? What do you mean?” A flash of remembrance swept through her, the pain and the discomfort of his body filling hers, “Oh!” She gasped, “It was impulsive Vincent, it hurt, I just had to get away.”

Bewildered Vincent stared at her, “What hurt?”

Catherine blushed, “You know, when you…well you know.” She cried her voice a little high with embarrassment as sex was not something she was good at discussing at least not with him this soon.

“I don’t mean last night.” Vincent surprised her, “I mean during the night. Your body couldn’t stand being close to mine.”

Dawning became swiftly apparent, and Catherine understood, “Believe me my love, no one was more surprised than me to know I had chosen to spend the night on a bed of pebbles rather than on a cosy blanket wrapped in your arms. Would you prefer to spend a night on a bed of nails rather than spend it with me?”

“You mean it wasn’t intentional?” Catherine detected the hope in his question and her eyes brightened and she threw herself down upon him, “Intentional? I’ll show you what’s intentional, mister!” And she launched an attack on him with hands and mouth until with a loud chuckle he begged for mercy and Catherine relented sitting back on her heels looking down at him, “I love you.” She told him simply, “And if I rolled away from you in the night it was probably because I was hot. I’m not used to sleeping beside anyone you know, but I’m getting to like it pretty quickly.”

Vincent smiled and his eyes danced with merriment as all doubt left them, “Thank you Catherine. Its just that to wake and find you half way across the cave, I thought you were telling me that you didn’t want me close to you. It hurt me that’s all.”

“Oh Vincent, I never want to hurt you, not ever. I love you far too much for that. When you hurt I hurt, never forget that.” She leaned down to kiss him murmuring, “Now where was I?”

Their kiss was deep and full of promise but Vincent slowly and gently pulled away, “We have to make the final leg of the journey today Catherine, or our supplies will run out before we return. I only brought enough for a week, and we should allow for accidents and delays. The cavern is three days there and three days back from the hub, so allowing seven might not have been enough, but too much weight would have hindered our progress.”

“How much further is it?” Catherine asked looking around for her discarded clothing. Vincent watched her lazily, her rose tipped breasts almost his undoing. He had to tear his gaze away or they wouldn’t be going anywhere that day.

“I don’t know in distance exactly, but it usually takes me, from here the best part of a day. We will be tired when we arrive but the splendour of the crystals will refresh us. There is something healing and vibrant about them that makes one feel truly alive.” He paused, reached out and touched her drew her attention away from dressing and back to him, “Catherine…at the crystal cavern…”

“Yes Vincent?” She prompted when he hesitated. She noticed his eyes were blazing with light and desire and her heart thudded painfully.

“At the crystal cavern, tonight…Catherine I will make love to you there.”

Catherine shivered with longing and wonderment. Last night he had been so considerate of her feelings, going only as far as he deemed appropriate for her comfort, how could he be so certain that tonight would be any different? Through the connection he heard her thoughts and replied, “The cavern is beautiful Catherine, your mind will not be so focused on what we are doing. I promise you, my love tonight you will give yourself freely and without discomfort, I will never hurt you, Catherine.”

Unable to speak, Catherine nodded, accepting and trusting that what he said would be so. Her nervousness left her as she packed, and through solid rock miles above her Catherine felt the tingle of sunlight on her skin, a radiant glow that surrounded her and left her at peace with the world. Tonight they would become one…her and Vincent…tonight they would become one.

*** *** ***

Devin hadn’t been sure what to wear, but finally decided on his new blue jeans and a white tee shirt. He looked good he decided as he twirled before his chamber mirror, the one that Catherine had purchased for Vincent, but Vincent had not been able to see himself the way she had seen him, and had insisted that Devin take it to his chamber instead. He knew how Devin liked to preen himself, and Catherine understood and didn’t mind that he had given her gift away for when Vincent visited with Devin, he had no choice but to see the reflection of himself within it. So Catherine got her wish, for had it stayed in Vincent’s chamber he would likely have covered it with a cloth and would never have been able to see himself reflected within it.

Devin met Father on his way out, “Going above now? You look smart.” Father told him.

“Yes, I’m going to meet Melanie. I shouldn’t be long, we are meeting in her lunch hour.”

“Oh right.” There was little else to say and so they bid one another farewell and Devin went on his way.

It was a fair walk from the hub to the entrance in the park, and Devin had much time to reflect on his meeting with Mel. What he had told his father that morning had been metaphorically speaking, but one day he would want to bring a girl home. He thought about leaving the tunnels and taking her wherever he had found to live, but it wouldn’t be the same. Devin was never any good with secrets one of the reasons why he had few friends. Too many awkward questions about his background made them suspicious and he longed deep down to introduce his friends to his family and vice versa, but knew that he never could. So what of his future then? Would he have to keep the secret of his home and family from the one he chose as his wife. Would he have to do the same with his children? What kind of marriage would it be with secrets like that? His wife would be suspicious and he would have nothing to tell her. Devin couldn’t see a marriage lasting that long with a secret like that to hold on to. But he also respected the fact that he couldn’t just date someone and whisk her down to meet his family, and hope that she wouldn’t think him a weirdo or that she would keep his family secret. It was a difficult one, for when or at what stage did he reveal his background, how fair was it to presume that after someone had fallen in love with him should he suddenly tell them, ‘hey I have to tell you about my brother?’ Devin didn’t know, and he wasn’t sure that he wanted to know it was all one big headache to him.

He emerged into the sunlit park as cautiously as he knew how, and made his way across to Billy’s bar, extracting from his pocket as he went a small bottle of after shave lotion that he dabbed on hoping to erase the smell of the tunnels. It wasn’t a smell he had ever really noticed until Catherine had mentioned how she loved the scent of Vincent, of old books, and candle wax and a musky rock smell. Since he had heard that he had always sought to disguise those scents with some kind of lotion, using it sparingly, since it was an expense he could otherwise do without. In fact that reminded him, he needed work. Money might not be a problem below, but time was and Devin found that time weighed heavily on him down in the tunnels, and Father’s constant cataloguing of books was becoming a chore. Neither was Devin a teacher, though he had on occasions taught the children about the visits he had made to Europe and England, enthralling them with the tales of his travels. But it wasn’t enough for him, didn’t tax his active brain, and Devin knew that he would need to seek employment or go quietly mad. Where though that was the thing, where could he work? He had no qualifications to speak of, another bind of growing up tunnel style, and he hadn’t much experience. In Europe he had worked in bars even once on a fairground travelling round Britain. He supposed he might find work at the docks, he’d heard that Mitch Denton, a lad he’d grown up with in the tunnels had a work force there so maybe Mitch would give him a job. Deeply absorbed in his thinking, Devin reached Billy’s without really noticing and pushed open the double swing doors from the left just as someone pushed them open from the right and in the middle they bumped into one another. “Sorry.” They apologised without looking. It was only when they both stopped beyond the doors to seek a table that each noticed it was the other that they had gone there to meet. “Well,” drawled Devin, “Fancy bumping into you here.” Mel smiled, “Just what I was thinking. If nothing else at least we can’t argue over who was here first.” She smiled and Devin caught his breath, it was the first time he’d seen her so genuinely happy and it caught him off guard.

“So what’ll it be burger and fries and banana shake?” Devin asked as they threaded their way first to the bar to order.

“Make it a ham salad for me, and a strawberry shake.” Mel told him then looked for a table. She wanted one near the window but they were all full, and she finally settled for a table for two tucked away in one corner. “I’ll get a table.” She told Devin leaving his side. Devin remained at the bar.

“One ham salad and one burger and fries with one strawberry shake and one banana shake, please mate.” Devin ordered their meal and decided to wait at the bar until it was ready. From there he could lean back against the bar his elbows propped upon it and watch Mel whose back was to him. He wondered about her, not for the first time, about her life, her past, even her future. Then he looked at her, really looked and marvelled at the way her red hair caught the sunlight that lent it copper streaks that glistened a myriad of other colours along its strands. From the back she looked appealing, with curves in all the right places, and then as if she sensed his eyes upon her, she turned in her seat and smiled straight at him. Devin smiled back and embarrassed turned back to face the bar denying to himself that her smile had just made his heart turn somersaults and that she had done something to other parts of him that was unprintable. Not since he’d last set eyes upon Kei-Anne had he felt such a rush of emotions such as those had been, and they left Devin feeling very disconcerted indeed.

Before he had fully recovered, the waiter served their meal upon a tray, the shakes fastened into hard cardboard holders his burger and fries wrapped in foil and brown paper with the words Billy’s printed in blue on the outside and Mel’s salad prettily presented on a white and blue china plate. Carefully Devin carried it to their table settling down her salad in front of her then her shake and cutlery wrapped in a napkin before he set his own down at his place. Mel waited until he was ready before she started eating, so that they might eat together. Both were hungry and for a few minutes satisfied that craving before beginning to talk. Mel sipped her shake as Devin asked her, “Have you had a good morning?”

Mel nodded, “As good as it gets. I’m not qualified yet, I have to go to college two days a week for the next two years and everything is so…” she sought for a word and ended with, “frustrating at times.”

Devin grinned, “You need commending that you can actually add up at all, I never found maths the best subject in the world.”

“I didn’t either, but it was a challenge, and I love challenges and I aim to see this one through to completion. Besides there’s good money in accountancy, and I want to be someone for once in my life, and have somewhere decent to live. Where I am now, even the cockroaches have moved out.”

Devin laughed at that, and wondered why they had never had cockroaches, or rats come to that. It had never crossed his mind till that moment, and though he had seen a mouse a time or two in his growing up years, as far as he knew the tunnels had never had a rat problem. “Penny for them?” Mel teased by his silence.

“What, oh, sorry I was just thinking about something.”

“Of course you were.” Mel teased him further with a smile.

Strangely both fell silent again. There was companionship in their silence and they finished their food and shakes, patting their mouths clean with a napkin and using lemon scented wipes to clean their hands. “So,” Mel began, “Shall we take a walk through the park again. I have about twenty minutes to spare.”

“I’d like that.” They scraped back their seats with the smallest of sounds each aware how rude much noise would seem, and left the bar together, Mel just ahead of Devin, but as she reached the big swing doors he leaned past her and opened one for her. Mel was touched by his thoughtfulness, so many other boys would likely have walked through ahead and let it go in her face. So it was another different thing that she noticed and liked about Devin. He made a girl feel good just by being with her.

Outside of the bar, Mel was even more surprised when Devin linked his arm with hers and together they walked out across the park in the general direction of her office so that she wouldn’t have so far to go when her time was up. “Thanks Devin.” Mel remarked after they had walked along in silence awhile, “For this lunchtime, its been nice spending time in your company.”

“Just as well, I’m not known for my literacy.” He told her with a grin.

“There’s a certain pleasure and companionship in silence.” Mel told him. “I have no complaints. So how are you today anyway? Still feeling down?”

Devin heard the concern in her voice and was touched by it, “No.” he told her truthfully and was about to continue when he turned her and bid her sit down on the grass beneath the shade of a large Acer tree where its variegated leaves spread out over them like a canopy beneath the sun.

“I have you to thank actually, Mel.” Devin told her as he sat alongside her on the grass. “I thought my problems were insurmountable until I heard about yours, it kinda put the right perspective on my self pity and I felt better when I went back home yesterday.”

Mel grinned, “I feel that I should apologise but if it helped you then it would be silly to do so. But my problems aren’t all that bad Devin, and what was bad is in the past now.”

“Good.” Devin paused again thinking all this time keeping really was too much. Having only a certain amount of time left it impossible to talk, as he wanted to talk with her, “Mel can I see you tonight?” He asked without thinking the idea through but the more he thought about it, the better it seemed. With hours unlimited ahead of them they could cover much ground, get to know one another in ways they never had before. But to his surprise Mel faltered, “I don’t know Dev. Its not that I don’t want to, it’s just…” Mel couldn’t find the words she needed to explain without bringing it all up again.

“Tell me?” Devin prompted. “It’s just what?”

Mel sighed, “I like you too much Dev and being with you is sheer bliss, but to keep seeing you…I mean where’s it going? I don’t want my heart broken any more than it already is. What if you should take up and leave again any day, I don’t think I could bear it.” She tried to stay calm but there was a catch to her last words and Devin’s heart fluttered. She was right, and because he knew how it felt to love someone and not have that love returned he knew how mere friendship could never be enough, but what more could he offer her?

“I don’t aim to go anywhere else, Mel.” He told her honestly, “In fact I was only thinking earlier that I need to find myself a job. I intend staying in Manhattan, and just take vacations like normal people do.” He grinned, but Mel did not join him, she felt embarrassed, felt she had said too much, put him on the spot, forced him into a corner he didn’t want to reside in. But she was wrong, “I like you Mel. I wouldn’t have said that the day before yesterday, but now, I’ve seen a side of you I didn’t know existed and I like that side of you and the reason why I’d like to meet you tonight and any other night is to have the time to get to know you even more. I can’t promise you anything, but I do want to be with you.” Mel’s face softened by his omission and she nodded, “Alright Dev, I’ll meet you tonight. Where? Billy’s?” Devin nodded, “That’ll be great, say seven o’clock, or is that too early?”

“Seven’s fine. Wait for me if I’m late though okay? Wild horses wouldn’t stop me from turning up, I’ll be there, but I may not be on time, punctuality is not my forte’ despite the fact that we came through that door at the same time today.” They laughed together and Mel noticed the time, “I have to go, see you tonight then. Thanks Devin.”

Devin helped her to her feet, watched her walk out across the park and waved when she turned to wave at him. He watched her until she went out of sight and then he turned and headed toward the docks hoping to find Mitch Denton there.

*** *** ***

Approximately eighty stories beneath the path that Devin trod, Vincent and Catherine were negotiating the final leg of their journey. They had been travelling without rest for the best part of five hours when Vincent suggested they should stop. “I’m fine.” Catherine told him, “Can’t we keep going?” Vincent shook his head. “You need to eat and drink Catherine, you may feel fine now, but believe me you will give out soon without refreshment and to do so inside one of the crawl ways is no fun at all. We’ve all been there, done that in our haste to arrive sooner, we’ve all run the gauntlet in as short a time as possible and lived to regret it. The air is so thin in those crawl ways and its so hot inside them. The need for water almost sends a person crazy and it’s difficult to reach a flask in such a small space. Packs are pulled behind us and it’s enough just to keep one’s arms ahead of oneself. This would not be a good time to tell me that you are claustrophobic Catherine.” Vincent grinned at her.

Catherine laughed, “Not that I am aware of, and alright you’ve convinced me we’ll rest here but no more than an hour okay? I am so excited about reaching the crystal cavern.” Suddenly Catherine blushed hotly and she hastened to add, “And not for the reason you mentioned earlier.” Vincent laughed then sobered “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. I didn’t really give you any option to disagree, I just assumed that when we reach the crystal cavern your mind would be so occupied by the sights around you that you will not worry so much about what is happening between us. Maybe I’m wrong though, maybe I presumed too much.”

“We’ll take it as it comes Vincent. I’m trying not to think about it.” Catherine told him .

That concerned Vincent, “You say that like you care neither way. Have you changed your mind?”

“Not exactly. It just hurt that’s all, and I still feel sore and the worst is yet to come.”

“Some might argue that the best is yet to come.” Vincent told her softly as disappointment raced through him.

“Then they would be people who probably used their hands more, or used a tampon or something. I tried using one once and even that left me crying, maybe I’m abnormal.”

“I don’t believe its anything like that. I think nerves got the better of you and tightened all your muscles. With other things to occupy your mind I am betting that things will be different tonight. However, if I deem that is not so, I will not force myself upon you, I have promised not to hurt you and I won’t.” Vincent reminded her gently.

Catherine grinned, “I don’t know Vincent, maybe it’s a bit like a plaster, the faster one removes it the less it hurts. The initial pain is tremendous and one screams but its gone in an instance, so maybe this is the same sort of thing.”

“What are you telling me, that I should penetrate you quickly and not consider your feelings?” Vincent shook his head, “No Catherine, that’s not my way, I would never forgive myself if I did that to you. We are embarking on a once in a lifetime experience, and it should be as good for you as it will be for me.”

“That’s a thought, what about you, what was it like for you?”

Vincent ducked his head unable to meet her eyes, “Good.” He mumbled.

“So is ice cream.” Catherine laughed. “Surely you can do better than that Vincent.”

Suddenly and to her surprise his arm reached for her and he tugged her into his lap, “Alright then I admit it. It was beautiful…oh Catherine…when I entered the heat of your body…” Vincent’s nostrils flared as the memory drifted over him, arousal was swift, his manhood surging beneath her and passion engulfing him swiftly like flames. He hugged her tightly seeking with his lips the back of her neck, brushing soft kisses tantalisingly across her sensitised skin. Catherine shivered, “Who needs crystals my love? I want you now.”

Vincent groaned, “Then we will never make it to the cavern and believe me Catherine it will be worth the wait.” Catherine shook her head, “You’re forgetting something Vincent. I’ve heard about these things. One of my friend’s boyfriends had decided upon the perfect setting for him and her to make love and when it came to it, though she was more than willing, he just couldn’t get an erection. It was a complete wash out. So much anticipation had left him lifeless. And the moral of this story is…since we are both willing and able now…let’s get on with it.”

“Catherine you’re incorrigible but as you insist who am I to refuse? I promise though the first sign of pain and I’ll withdraw and don’t go suppressing it for my sake.” Vincent cautioned her. Catherine promised she wouldn’t and then to Vincent’s utter surprise she stood up and peeled off her clothing right in front of him, until she was standing above him with the vie to her thighs level with his face. Vincent groaned and reached for her, but to his dismay she stepped away from him, “You’re turn.” She told him, “Come on I want to see what I’m getting.” Vincent gasped and reluctantly got to his feet, “Surely you don’t mean…” He gestured to his clothing. With laughter in her eyes Catherine nodded, “Sure do. I want to see you standing there gloriously naked Vincent, just like me.”

Swallowing with difficulty Vincent hesitated and Catherine felt his unease, she stepped toward him, “Vincent, my love, you have nothing to be ashamed of. I have already imagined what you will look like, and now its time that you showed me if I was right.”

“Probably not.” He told her, “My nakedness would have to have been your worst nightmare.”

“Then may it be only nightmares that I have for the rest of my life Vincent, because from what I have seen so far you are as near to how I’ve dreamed as possible. Now come on, off with these.” And to his surprise she unbuckled his large ornate belt and reached for the button and zipper to his jeans.

“I’ll do it.” Vincent covered her hand and gently removed it then without looking at her he pulled off his jerkin, sweaters thermal vest and finally his trousers and long johns and stood head bowed naked in front of her unable to meet her gaze. Yet the bond was open and singing between them and Vincent dared to look up and what he saw in Catherine’s eyes took his breath away. Hunger, rich and raw gazed back at him, a primal yearning so strong that he knew without a doubt that she was his mate, and in an instance they melded together, lips on lips hands caressing places only ever dreamed of. Vincent was everything her dream come true and more besides and Catherine glorified in the feel of his luscious body beneath her hands and mouth. “God you’re beautiful.” Catherine whispered as she nibbled tantalising kisses over his body, “Make love with me Vincent.”

“Yes.” They dropped to their knees oblivious to the sandy pebbled floor beneath them, their blankets still rolled as they had been left, and Vincent moved around her, his roughened tongue seeking out all the places that he knew would thrill her, as her hands touched him, glided over his skin and fur and heated silken length and she shivered in anticipation and need for what was to come. “I love you.” She whispered, “Take me oh take me please.”

Fleetingly images of making love in the crystal cavern for their first time fled Vincent’s mind, what did it matter the beauty of the spot, together they made their own beauteous music and nowhere else was more beautiful than the two of them together. Nudging her legs apart with his own Vincent settled down upon her, his mouth against hers his gaze resting on her eyes. They spoke to him and through the bond he felt her readiness to receive him, and he slipped into her effortlessly, keeping his lips on hers and judging through her expression as to her level of discomfort. Strange though, Catherine felt him hot and hard within her, but the pain that she had felt the night before evaporated as the head of his erection touched her maidenhead and begged for entry. She gave to him, opened her gates of heaven and he moved within, holding his breath as he felt himself taken inside her body by muscles that cleaved to him and held him in their loving embrace. Deeper and deeper he went within her, the maidenhead stretching beyond its limits until it gave suddenly and Catherine winced and gasped and tears gathered and fell down her cheeks, but she did not cry out and when he might have withdrawn she clamped her legs around his hips and prevented his escape. Tears misted Vincent’s eyes and he kissed her own away, the salty taste of them tantalising the tip of his rugged tongue. His body was poised now waiting just on the edge of that final thrust when he would deeply embed himself and the moment he saw her nod he lunged forward filling her completely. Now Catherine screamed, but the pain was over and done with in an instance and she cried tears of happiness as she felt him deep within her. “Oh Vincent, I love you so much.” She kissed his face as it swam before her through a blur of unshed tears. He lay still upon her assessing the situation letting her body tell him of its needs, and slowly she rose her hips up to nudge his just slightly, enough to tell him that he could move then with his knees Vincent withdrew from her body just a little and came back again meeting her half way as she rose up to meet him and the first sensations swept through Vincent’s body as a tightness and a tingling sensation began in his testicles, and a building of power so strong that it surprised even him when seconds later it erupted and filled her to capacity. Now Vincent roared, the sound threatening to split her eardrums had she not covered her ears with her hands, even so she laughed happily and knew the satisfaction of nurturing her true love’s seed deep within her womb. “I love you.” Vincent spoke when he could find his voice again, “I love you so much.” He fell against her sweat upon his brow, his body hot and sticky against hers. Catherine loved the heavy weight of him upon her, the feel of his sleeping manhood relinquishing its place within her body. She tried to stop his escape with muscles so tight that he felt them and groaned, and within seconds the shrinking manhood was seeking her hot depths again having never left her body at all. Now they made love, each rising and sinking in fluid motion, hot breath and kisses, hands caressing, bodies meeting, whispered words of love, until finally, finally once again each felt the gathering and the bittersweet joy of two bodies playing in harmony, sweet music of the soul, and that once in a lifetime joining and the culmination of their dream. Together they rode the crest of a wave, together they flew into infinity as stars burst around them and they knew the joy of being as one, for the first time in all their lives until finally replete and satiated, Vincent slipped from her body and gathered her close in his arms, and they slept a full two hours before awakening and continuing their journey toward the crystal cavern feeling closer than they had ever been in all their lives.

*** *** ***

As night fell, Devin made his way back up to the park freshly showered and changed, still in his blue jeans but now wearing a red tee shirt that he had purchased that afternoon after receiving an advancement from Mitch with the promise of work Devin would start on the morrow.

Surprisingly Mel was already there, having decided not to work overtime as she had been scheduled to do, and arriving early afforded her the chance to find a seat by the window where she could watch for Devin’s arrival. And what a pleasure that had been, seeing him walk through the park, though strangely he had seemed to appear just like that. One moment her eyes had been glued to the area she knew him to emerge from and the next he was there, but she hadn’t seen from where he’d materialised. It didn’t matter though, as just the sight of him heading her way was enough to fuel all of Mel’s desires and again she wondered if she was doing the right thing, whether she was setting herself up for more heartache and she decided to play a little game for her own benefit. If he arrived and seemed to be looking out for her then she would deem that he really wanted to see her, but if he arrived and believing she might be late walked straight up to the bar to order a drink, she would assume that he didn’t really care. Mel’s heart thudded as Devin entered the bar and for a moment she thought she might be disappointed, but his quick glance toward the bar itself had been to check the clock situated on the wall behind it, and then he glanced around the room quickly searching for her. When his eyes settled on her she waved at him and her happiness swelled as his face lit up with one of the loveliest smiles she had seen him give her.

“You’re early.” He told her as he threaded his way to her table.

“Yes, I decided you were worth missing overtime for.” Mel replied with a grin.

“Talking of which,” he told her, “I got myself a job this afternoon. I start tomorrow down at the docks.” Mel knew she should be pleased for him, but she suddenly felt as though someone had thrown ice over her. His working would put an end to their lunchtime meetings for sure but Devin seemed to know her thoughts, “So if its alright with you, we’ll meet after work rather than at lunchtime from now on.”

A smile lit Mel’s face, “I’d like that.” She told him sincerely, pleased when Devin told her, “So would I.” Then seeing that her table was empty asked, “Would you like a drink, or should we go someplace else?”

“A drink would be nice and then go someplace else.” Mel told him, “Juice will do with lots of ice, pineapple, orange apple anything, surprise me.” Devin grinned and made his way back to the bar returning shortly after with a long tall glass frothing at the top with pineapple juice and a lager in his other hand, nice and cold just the way he liked it. They sat together at the table sipping their drinks chatting about their day until finally downing the last mouthful they pushed back their chairs and headed for the door. Once again Devin linked his arm through Mel’s something she was enjoying tremendously and they walked that way through the park, heading out toward the lake where the moon reflected on the water. From there they talked about everything and anything, laughing and enjoying themselves tremendously until they reached that point where expectation kicked in and they became acutely aware of each other. Now when Devin touched her, Mel trembled with anticipation and Devin hoping he was reading the right signs of his own feelings turned her into his arms and very tenderly brushed his lips across hers. Deliriously, Mel sighed the very epitome of his kiss almost enough and she would never have presumed to expect more than that one fleeting kiss, but Devin it seemed decided otherwise. The taste of her mouth had been sensuous and Devin enjoyed the scent of her skin and the feel of her body close against his, and a fluttering began in his stomach, muscles tying themselves into knots and a sensation Devin had never before experienced fled through him. “There’s something I have to tell you, Mel.” Devin told her feeling it was important. Mel groaned, her heart raced and she waited with tears in her eyes for him to tell her that he had someone else, that he was engaged to Kei- Anne, that he’s heard from Kei-Anne, that he couldn’t love her the way that she wanted him to love her, but what he actually had to say was even more surprising. “You aren’t the only virgin, honey. I’ve come close a few times to losing it, but I’ve never actually done so.” He was embarrassed at telling her and buried his face in her neck where he inhaled her scent and decided he liked whatever perfume it was that she wore.

“And you’re telling me this for why exactly?” He heard the laughter in her voice and stepped back to face her, grinning from ear to ear. “I just thought you should know that’s all.” He told her with a chuckle, “Just in case you’re expecting me to make the first move. Honey, I’m not sure I would know how, nor am I certain that I should, but don’t take that the wrong way, Mel. I don’t know if it’s the moon, or the stars or something else that has enchanted me, but suddenly I don’t ever want to be anywhere if its not with you.” He hesitated, wondering if it was too soon, wondering if he was mistaken, but his feelings were akin to those he had felt for Kei-Anne only intensified because he knew without a doubt that they would be returned with Mel, and he ventured to tell her anyway, “Mel, I think I’m falling in love with you.”

Mel gasped, her eyes alive with delight, “Oh Devin! Really?” Devin nodded and pulled her closer to him, she felt so right in his arms, but his revelation concerned him. Where did he go from here? What about his family, his home? What would Mel think of them? Would she still want him when she knew his secret? When she met his brother? Apprehension raced through Devin, never had he been so unsure about anything in his life. Never had he wanted to know something more in his life. “Mel, there’s something else I have to tell you, honey. This might come as a shock.” Mel’s heart thudded painfully, her doubts returned and increased, now he would tell her, now she would know that he wasn’t free to love her after all and her happiness so new died as tears raced to her eyes and fell down her cheeks hopelessly.

“Its nothing bad.” Devin reassured her, “Oh Mel, don’t worry so.” He hugged her hard his arms encircling her hoping to ease her pain, “I wouldn’t hurt you, please believe that, but there are things that you don’t know about me, things that haven’t been mine to tell till now. But I must know first, have to ask you first, can you keep secrets?”

Her lips wavered and she gazed at him wondering what horrors he was about to impart, and was unable to tell him yes or no, instead she asked, “What do you mean, secrets? What are you an axe murderer or something?” Devin laughed and relief flooded through Mel, “Then if it isn’t that, what else could be so bad? You’re not married are you?” she answered her own question, “No you wouldn’t be unless you haven’t yet consummated the marriage, if what you tell me is true.”

“It is, and no I’m not married, nor am I an axe murderer or wanted by the police. I just have a secret that’s all, a secret that a lot of people depend upon my keeping to myself. Mel, where I come from, its not far from here, but it’s a secret place and people live there that have nowhere else to go, or they have been abused or let down by someone. It’s like a commune where we are all one big family, but there is more to it than that. My father, he kind of runs this place, people look up to him and he is a doctor. Back in 1954 he adopted a child that was left abandoned in the snow one January night and he brought that child up as his own and as my brother, his name is Vincent, and it is he that Catherine is to marry. The thing is Mel, Vincent more than most depends on everyone keeping our home a secret, because Vincent looks different and cannot live among people that would not stop to know him, would judge him by the way he looks and be afraid.”

Mel listened taking it all in, and eventually asked, “Where is this place? Can I go there?”

“That depends on you, I have to know that you will keep the secret and can only trust that you will when you have been there.”

“Can we go there now?”

“No. I have to put in a request before the council, the invitation for you to go there is not mine to extend too many lives are at risk should I of misjudged you.” He put it as gently as he knew how, knowing she might take offence at any moment, when she did not he marvelled further at the changes in her, there was a vast difference from the girl she was to the woman she was becoming.

“If this place is as grand as you say, if so many people need to be there, then who would I be to expose them, what joy would I attain for revealing their whereabouts to the powers that be? Many is the time I have wished to escape to some secret world Devin, and you’re telling me such a place exists? Where? Can you at least tell me where?” Devin shook his head, “No honey I can’t, I’m sorry, but know this its not far from here. Look I’ll speak with my father tonight and have the council make a decision. When Catherine and Vincent return I’m sure she will also speak in your favour.” Mel laughed derisively, “You reckon? I think not. Cathy ought to come see me first let me repair a few bridges, I have a feeling she doesn’t entirely trust me, and she doesn’t see me as you do, and when she knows what I did with Elliot…” Mel’s voice trailed away and Devin went on, “That will remain our business, no one but you and I need know about that, and unless Elliot blabs which I can’t see him doing that’s the way it will stay, between us, okay?” Mel nodded, “Okay,” then she asked a burning question, “Devin, forgive me if I’m wrong, but I get the general impression there’s more to my seeing your home than meets the eye, there’s something you’re not telling me, what is it?”

Devin sighed, he’d hoped she wouldn’t notice and he could not evade the subject any longer, “Mel, if our relationship is to deepen I have to know how you feel about my home and my family first. I couldn’t bear to fall so completely in love with you and have my heart broken when you tell me that you cannot abide my background, my family or my brother, it’s a safety net if you like, one I need to see with my own eyes before I can move this relationship forward.” Mel understood that, but there were things that he too needed to know. “Maybe when you have heard about my past you won’t want to be involved with me.” She told him quietly, Devin shook his head, “Nothing you can tell me would do that all my life I’ve met people from all walks of life with all kinds of problems, and they have become family to me. Besides doesn’t love see through rose tinted glasses and smooth away all the flaws and the thorns?”

“I hope so. All the same, while I can let me tell you. Basically, my father abused me he never raped me or anything like that but he sexually abused me, touching me, and taking photographs for his so called ‘good’ friends. I ran away from home as soon as I knew that my mother did not believe what I told her about dad and I’ve never seen them since neither do I wish to see them ever again.” Sobs caught in Mel’s throat but she forced them resolutely away she had cried all her tears for a family lost years ago and she would cry no more.

“How old were you?” Devin held her close.


“You were eight and you ran away? Where did you go, what did you do?”

“I was eventually picked up by the authorities. My parents never issued a missing person report and I never told the authorities where I came from. A nice family took me in sent me to school, looked after me, but I never felt like I belonged with them and the moment I could I left them also and have never been back. I’ve never truly belonged anywhere Dev, so maybe wherever it is that you come from will be the place I’ve searched for all my life.” Devin nodded, “You can be sure that it will be.” Then he made a decision that he hoped he would not regret, “Come, I’ll take you there now.”

“But the council? Your father? Won’t they be angry with you for not consulting them first?”

“Probably, but then what’s new, and I trust you Mel, and good friends and love are a long time overdue for you, you’ll love my home and the people in it and Mary, whom we all think of us mother will love you. She will see you as a new chick to spread her wings over and believe me you’ll thrive under her care and attention, everyone does.”

“Even so, you have work to begin in the morning and I have too, so you do this the correct way Devin okay, and then I’ll come.” Devin hesitated, he so wanted to take her below that instant but could well see the truth of her words. “Alright then, we’ll wait, but I’ll try to make them let you come soon without telling them of your past, that secret is safe with me Mel, I promise.”

On tiptoes Mel leaned forward and kissed him, “as yours will be with me, Devin. I promise.” It had been all Devin had wanted to hear and he gathered her to him, returning her kiss with one that spoke of promise and things to come. Mel slid her arms around him, suddenly all her dreams were coming true and she whispered to him in the darkness beneath the light of the moon, “I love you Devin, I love you so much.” Devin closed his eyes and revelled in the delight of being loved and perhaps for the first time in his life he was happy, truly happy.

*** *** ***

Chapter Twelve

They reached the crystal cavern at last and Vincent standing behind Catherine placed his hands over her eyes and guided her forward telling her where to put her feet and what to avoid. She giggled and he felt an excited tension mount within her and finally removed his hands and walking round to face her he told her she could open her eyes.

Catherine hadn’t really known what to expect. She’d seen raw gemstones in the past, unpolished straight from the earth and they had been gloomy and rugged, and she had supposed that the cavern would be filled with stones like that, and they would need lanterns in the dismal chamber. How wrong she was!

The chamber gave off a natural light and the gems left her spellbound. Everywhere she looked a radiance prevailed, and shafts of light bounced from one giant cluster of crystal to another with huge colourful arcs between. Catherine moved out to the centre noticing that there the floor was flat like glass and not rugged as the perimeter had been. There the arcs bent inward and came to rest upon her bouncing off again and ricocheting across the chamber in a continuous movement of light that was impossible to comprehend. What made it move, why did the beams of light tremor when the solid rock from where it came was so still?

“You think you’re not moving don’t you?” Vincent answered her inner question. “Took me a long time to work out what makes the shafts flicker. Its your breath and the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe that causes the movement.”

“It’s amazing!” Catherine exclaimed twirling around and watching the shafts of light move with her, it was as if threads of light held her in place and though the crystals were a myriad of colours the shafts of light were all the same, a clear beam fringed by soft aqua - sheer opulence.

In the centre of the chamber something akin to an alter stood, and Catherine moved toward it, “This is lovely Vincent, surely its not natural, hasn’t someone formed it, its so smooth.” She ran her hand along it, impressed by its quality. It was as smooth and cool as silk.

“If they did it’s no one I knew. It’s been like that as long as I’ve been coming here, and no one in the tunnels owns up to forming it that way. We have used it as a table many times bringing the children here, once someone spread a cloth over it, but it hid its beauty so much that we pulled it off again and placed the plates and food upon it as it stands.”

“Just imagine what something like this would cost up top, people would die for a table made of solid crystal see how the colours dance.”

“Let me show you something else.” From his pack Vincent took a candle, lit it and tipping it so that the wax ran upon the crystal alter, he then pushed the base of the candle against the hot wax until it was fastened and could stand upright by itself. Catherine gasped, as suddenly every crystal in the chamber reflected the candle’s solitary flame a thousand fold. Everywhere she looked she could see flames that moved this way and that in fluid dance.” Oh Vincent,” she breathed, “Its beautiful.”

“Yes, it is.” He breathed deeply adding to himself that she was too, and with all those lights bouncing off her she looked like an angel. Catherine turned at his silence and their eyes locked and she moved toward him bringing her lips to his when she reached him. “I love you, thank you for bringing me here. I see now why you assumed I would be otherwise occupied when we arrived here. I don’t know where to look first. I know what I’d love to do though.” Catherine giggled and Vincent inclined his head birdlike, the way that she so loved, and asked “Tell me.”

“I’d like to strip and stand and see the light cover me like a second skin.” Vincent chuckled, “I did that the first time I came here alone. The floor feels so good on bare feet and there is something so magical about standing naked amid all this natural stone. It filled me Catherine, the magic, it filled me, I understand exactly what you mean, so please feel free, remove your clothing.”

Catherine smiled at him deeply and began to lift her sweater up her body and over her head. Next followed her tee shirt, bra and trousers, finally her panties and shoes and socks. Vincent watched her desire spilling over with every item she removed and as soon as he saw her dancing naked beneath the dazzling crystal light he took off his clothing and joined her in the dance.

They laughed, holding on to one another and twirling around and around until they fell dizzy against the flat crystal table, where Vincent removed the candle and lifted her up to sit upon it, but she leaned back and lay flat with her legs dangling over one end. Flames of desire leapt through Vincent, and his heart pounded in his chest as he gazed at her lying there in offering. This had been his dream this had been the way he had imagined he would make love with her. Catherine lying full length upon the crystal alter and he at one end, her legs balancing upon his hips while he penetrated her deeply. From beneath hooded eyes Catherine watched him and through their connection she sensed his desire and yearned for him to come to her. He did not disappoint her, pulling her slightly forward so that her bottom was just suspended on the edge, he hooked her legs around his hips and entered her swiftly. Catherine gasped, but felt no pain, and he leaned forward steadying himself with one hand upon the alter and taking one rosy nipple into the heat of his mouth as he used his free hand to caress her other tightened bud.

Catherine could do nothing, so she surrendered, allowing him to follow through on his dreams, have him hold her steady as he thrust into her time and time again and her head thrashed from side to side as she whimpered with every inward stroke. Finally she heard the growl she had so recently come to expect start deep within his chest, rising up and up in tune with his orgasm until both erupted mightily, one within and one without, the sound of his pleasure filling the chamber and her ears a deafening sound, but one that made her feel infinitely happy knowing that she had brought him so much satisfaction and pleasure.

As he recovered he stayed within the warmth of her body but helped her sit up and then to Catherine’s surprise he pulled her off of the alter and with her arms clasping his shoulders and her legs fastened securely around his hips he held her close and carried her around the chamber still deeply embedded within her. Catherine giggled, couldn’t help herself and Vincent chuckled too. “Now we really are as one.” He told her and she thought she would forever hold on to the picture of being thus in the centre of the crystal cavern with lights bouncing off them, face to face and making love and walking around the chamber like it was the most natural way to do so in the world.

With his hands Vincent lifted her up and down upon his erection while Catherine gazed into his eyes, they were dizzy with passion and desire and an overwhelming satisfaction at being joined with her. “Catherine this is…” He tried to tell her how it felt to him but couldn’t and shook his head confessing to her “There are no words to describe what I am feeling when I am inside you.”

“I know, Vincent, I know. I too cannot describe the pleasure you bring me, there are no names for the feelings that I have when you are deep inside me as you are now.”
Vincent growled burying his face into her neck and Catherine could tell from the rising growl that echoed through his chest as well as the trembling of his body that he was close to orgasm again, even if he hadn’t begun to rapidly raise her up and down upon his erection. Sweat broke out on his brow and she wiped the plastered hair from off it, blowing gently trying to cool him, fanning his face with her breath. Finally she felt his seed erupt deep inside her womb, the heat and the creaminess filling her completely, and only then did he wither and slip from her womanhood, replete at last for the moment.

Catherine slid down his body and stood within the circle of his arms. His body trembled and he looked around for somewhere to sit before his legs gave way, legs that had turned to jelly in the aftermath of their lovemaking. Finding nowhere suitable he just sat down on the crystal floor taking her down with him and they lay with her half over him for a long time as each regained their breath.

Catherine kissed him, small tantalising kisses all over his chest until she popped one nipple into her mouth and felt him suck in a deep breath. Pleased that she had caused that reaction in him, she took his other pap between her finger and thumb and rolled it and for her effort received a loud gasp from him. His body beneath her hand started to tremble, and encouraged Catherine moved over him licking, kissing and nipping him from chest to thigh and back again, hovering just a little around the area of his genitals wondering if she dared do with him as she had with Elliot, but even as she thought it he brought down a hand and covered himself and told her “Catherine, no.”

“But you did it to me.” She argued.

“It was different.”

“How so? It’s the same area.”

“I know but you have other memories I did not.” Catherine nodded, understanding his point of view and she moved up his body until their faces were inches apart, and then kissing his face she lay her head in the crook between his neck and collarbone and closed her eyes.

They lay still a long time, pleasantly dozing until cramp and the cold filtered through and reminded them that they should dress and light a fire. They were also hungry and Vincent had soon made them some pasta in tomato sauce and basil and some hot tea. Catherine told him she had never tasted anything so wonderful and he smiled, “It’s always like that. Camping out food always tastes better somehow. I think its just because each time camp fire food is eaten its because the person is so hungry after all that weary travelling that he’d eat anything presented and call it terrific.”

Catherine laughed, “And it wasn’t just the travelling was it, in our case.”

Smiling Vincent told her, “No Catherine it wasn’t,” as he gazed into her eyes.

After they had eaten Vincent spread the blankets and prepared their bed for the night but before they settled down he leaned back against their packs and from his fished out a small tin box that she instantly recognised. “That’s the one daddy gave me isn’t it?”

Vincent nodded, “Yes. I wanted to read its contents here. Do you know what they say?”

Catherine shook her head, “No, and daddy only read it the once, and then when his grandmother gave it to him, not since. I don’t know what it says. Will you read it to me or to yourself?”

“Both, I’ll read it out loud, since this concerns the both of us.” Vincent sighed and then began extracting the folded square of paper from the box, unfolding it and smoothing it against one raised knee, and by the light of a lantern positioned for that very purpose he began to read the story of his past, present and future.

I, Daniel Stephen Richardson, on this day of June 30th 1773 surrender the history of my clan to whomsoever needs to know and that on March 5th of yesteryear, I did along with my wife abandon my son to the fates of nature with a view to bringing about his death, and though we had a change of heart and sought him thoroughly he was not to be found. May God forgive us if he fell into the wrong hands may God bless him and help him thrive if he did not.

I come from a background different to most, my wife the same, and though we show no likeness of the chosen ones that it was said must come from within my loins we do not forget who we are, or that we are receptacles, ambassadors of such life to be. One day, I have been assured the world will be ready to accept what we initially could not, and it is for this reason that I write this now, sure that at some stage in the future a leonine one will wish to know.

And what is there to know? I have not the answers only the research that I have obtained through my labours that myself and my wife come from a long line of receptacles whom by miracle or chance, have given birth to a leonine to whom we were entrusted to keep safe from the burdens of those who would wish to slaughter such a one. It is said that ignorance is bliss, and I have wished many times to have the ignorance of knowledge withheld to not to know, not to face that which will be, and yet I chose even through knowing to ignore what was, and abandoned my son to the elements, something which I am now deeply ashamed, but can only say in my defence that I panicked and thought no further than what people would say when they discovered what Anna and I had produced. How deeply ashamed that makes me now.

In the year that has passed Anna has given birth to a daughter, purely human and so like Anna that my heart constricts every time that I gaze upon her yet my heart breaks for the son that I lost and for the truth that we will never be given the gift of a leonine again in our lifetime. Through us the link has been broken, and only if my son has survived will it continue to flow but we have our doubts that we will ever come to know of this.

I can only pray that at some stage in life somehow someway this that I have written falls into the hands of a leonine, and that by some form of miracle the leonine clan continues to flourish until the day when the world is ready to accept them in their midst. My grandfather informed me that the leonine would be a race that would not react to mankind’s ills neither would they benefit from mankind’s medicine, but as the chosen ones would continue through the generations from grandparent to grandchild, just once in a lifetime until they take over the world.

To whomsoever reads this, know your place in the world is meant to be, you are not a freak of nature, you are not a mutation, neither are you a product of some warped scientists imagination, you are a chosen one a leonine and you are as precious as the trees and the stars .

Therefore whatever comes, whatever happens, live your life as life is intended and pass on the knowledge of your existence to your first leonine grandchild, and give them my love as you also have it, and the love of the clan before me.

Whomsoever you are, remember whether you can see your place in the world or not, the universe is unfolding just as it should, and you have a right to be here.

Above all, be happy.

Sincerely yours,

Daniel (& Anna).

Taking a deep breath Vincent exhaled slowly and lay the letter down in his lap. There were other papers within the box and glancing through these he found the research that Daniel had done and written down his labours. He learned the story as told to him three days earlier by Catherine’s father, and he learned that rather than be a freak of nature as he had so often presumed, his place in time was meant to be and he was someone’s grandchild abandoned just as Daniel and Anna had abandoned their son, and found remarkable as it was by a woman named Anna that kept him as her own. Strange that almost divine intervention as if that which was lost by one woman named Anna had been found by another named Anna as though it were meant to be that way. Catherine thought so too, when after reading Daniel’s letter they discussed its contents.

“He was a sad man despite his reassurances that he found happiness in his daughter,” Catherine reasoned. Vincent thought so too “He never truly forgave himself for abandoning his son yet knowing that in some small way brings me joy, because it makes me wonder if whomsoever abandoned me regretted doing so. I wonder if my parents are still alive, I wonder if they would come forward if we ran something in the newspaper, something only they would recognise?”

“Would you want to do that? It would bring all kinds of problems because of where you live? And what if no one replied, how would that make you feel, Vincent?”

Vincent understood, “Unwanted. Yes Catherine you’re right, best to leave things as they are, at least now I know my roots and know I have a place in the world, and that I was not the only one, neither will I be the last, and more importantly someday people like me will walk the world unnoticed, accepted in society, and probably become the future race to walk the earth beneath the sunshine.”

“And the onus is on us to start the ball rolling, I like that idea Vincent.” Catherine told him snuggling close. Vincent placed one arm around her shoulders and kissed her cheek, “Yes I like that idea too, my Catherine.” Catherine shuddered as she always did when he used that endearment and she wrapped her arms around him holding him tight, “I love you, Vincent.” She told him sincerely.

With his free hand Vincent replaced the papers back to their little tin box and sliding on the lid he lay it at his side before using his free hand to slide through her silken hair just the way he knew she liked it. Catherine murmured sleepily and he slid her down beneath the covers and held her close against him. There they slept till morning, amid the brilliance of the crystals and the truth of their existence exquisitely happy and without a care in the world.

*** *** ***

After breakfast and many questions and answers the council that were present returned their vote and Father announced to his son, “As long as your girl meets our requirements she will be allowed to come here. Have her go along to Sing Keep’s store and William, Mary and I will meet with her there. If we decide she is trustworthy she may be invited down here. But I don’t have to tell you Devin that you must be sure that this girl is important to you, and know that you are not be singled out, all residents of the tunnels know that friendships with those not of our world must also undergo such a strict regime we simply cannot have people coming and going down here as the whim takes us, and I do not need to explain to you why that is. Life below is not like life above and friendships that come and go like ships in the night cannot be part of life down here, only long term friendships and such things as engagements and marriage are acceptable here with those from up top, and of course as you well know, people in need of our help, or sanctuary from something or someone above that is not breaking the law.”

There was much Devin could have retorted with, but he refrained from so doing. His father was right and he couldn’t argue, neither did he want to cause antagonism with his father. Mel’s arrival to the tunnels was important to him and he now had to tell his father how so.

“You know that recently I returned from England very miserable, that was because someone I felt deeply for did not return my affection and then I met Mel again, and do you know what dad, she confessed that she has loved me since we met three years ago can you imagine that? Loving someone when you can’t even see them.”

Father spoke quietly, tears filled his eyes as he thought of his love for Margaret, “Yes, Devin I can imagine that. What I can’t imagine is that you feel anything for Mel so soon after loving someone else. Are you certain that you aren’t on the rebound?”

“I’ve thought of that, and yes that could be so. But dad,” Devin sighed heavily, “Mel loves me, and what I have come to know about her these last few days I’ve seen a side of her that appeals to me, not only that I find myself falling more in love with her every time I think about the time we have spent together and I’m certain with a little attention I could love her the way that she loves me. And I want that dad, truly I do, I don’t want to be hurt again, I want to find someone to be a part of, just as Vincent has found Catherine to be a part of. Surely that’s not so wrong to want that, is it?”

“No Devin, but just be sure that you do love this girl truly before you do anything you may regret.”

“That’s one of the reasons I want to bring her here to meet you, it’s a catch 22 situation dad. Suppose I fall for her completely and then she hears of my past and can’t hack it, what then am I to do? Surely it would be best to know before I fall too deeply. One broken heart once in a lifetime is more than enough dad, you can’t argue with that can you?”

Father shook his head, “No Devin I can’t argue with that. Alright then when we meet her we will give her the benefit of the doubt whatever her views since it is so important to you, but not until she promises to withhold our secret from anyone else not even if she comes across someone she deems in need of sanctuary among us. She must abide by our rules Devin and she must understand how important they are to us. So let me see…” Father flicked open his diary, “Will the day after tomorrow suit her around noon?”

“I need to ask, she has to attend college two days a week, and I don’t know which days. I’m seeing her again this lunchtime I’ll see what she says then and inform you this afternoon. If she can’t make it at noon, can you do it after five or perhaps tomorrow evening?” Devin wasn’t certain that would be a good idea, he knew Mel and Cathy had their own bridges to build, some of which Cathy had no knowledge of as yet but he refrained from saying so. One step at a time, he told himself, one step at a time. First get Mel accepted by the council and then take it from there. So he agreed and told his father it was a good idea and then he bid his parent farewell and made his way to his chamber to prepare for his meeting with Mel, once again at Billy’s bar.

*** *** ***

It was well after noon when Vincent and Catherine finally woke, although in truth Vincent’s internal clock had woken him hours earlier but he had fitfully dozed happy just to be beside Catherine and hold her in his arms. Finally she roused, first flinging back the blankets then stretching and opening her eyes blinking rapidly at the splendour of her surroundings before her gaze came to rest on the man at her side. “Morning Vincent, did you sleep well?”

“He smiled, and kissed the tip of her nose, “Good afternoon Catherine and yes I did thank you.” Catherine gasped, “Its afternoon? Why didn’t you wake me!”

Vincent chuckled, “Because you need your sleep and because we have a long uphill journey ahead of us from today. And because fully refreshed you are likely to be able to choose the stone for your ring, had you forgotten that’s one of the reasons we came here for?” He grinned at her mischievously.

“No I hadn’t forgotten but I admit to other things taking precedent, and one thing more than the rest.” She giggled, “But since that is behind us now, I am ready to chose my ring.”

“Behind us is it?” Vincent began to tickle her “I’ll show you behind us!” Catherine squirmed and laughed and became tangled in the blankets as she play fought him off her, until finally the memory of their naked bodies the day before washed over them and they quickly pulled off their clothes until they were naked and making love once again.

“I’ll never tire of this.” Vincent told her, “And how I managed without it till now beats me.” Catherine chuckled throatily and held him tight with her arms around his neck and her legs around his hips as he drove into her, kissing his adorable face each time he leaned close enough for her to do so. Suddenly Vincent stopped, smiled and rolled off her, then before she had time to protest he rolled her onto her side and entered her from behind, spoon fashion, “Almost forgot.” He told her as he nibbled her ear, “I said I was going to show you what’s not behind us.”

Catherine loved this, with him behind, he was able to use his hands at the front of her, one rubbing her clitoris another teasing her breasts, and as both were pushed together by her position he was able to span his fingers to touch each nipple at the same time with the same hand. Convulsing against him Catherine reached for and grabbed hold of the first thing she could find which happened to be his cloak and held on for dear life as her orgasm mounted, her first ever. Her toes curled and her head spun, and grinding her teeth she wished she had something to bite on as the feelings raced through her and gushing fluid covered Vincent before he too with an almighty roar erupted deep inside her. They panted together slowly coming back to earth and fell promptly asleep for another half hour, or until Catherine waking and smiling mischievously stole out from his embrace and turning him onto his back teased his manhood until it hardened, and then sure he was still sleeping, (though he was not) she straddled his body slipped his erection inside her and as his eyes flew open in amazement she began to ride him as one would a horse. Vincent growled capturing her in mid stride and holding her arms at her sides helped her rise and fall upon him as his hips met hers from the ground. They paced one another up and down, up and down until they both felt the rising of their orgasm, and together it raced over them wave after delicious wave until Catherine fell forward onto his chest satiated and spent. Now they slept again, longer, about an hour until finally they woke again and kissed and cuddled, and reluctantly replaced their clothing, before packing their things for the journey home. But first…they had to choose a stone for Catherine’s engagement ring and this they did so lovingly, finding the one that reflected the blue of Vincent’s eyes and the loving grey green of Catherine’s and every memory that they had made within the crystal cavern, a crystal with fire in its centre signifying the flame of eternal love that they shared. It was perfect - they were perfect and they were happy and they left their underground love nest with a promise to return as soon as they were married.

*** *** ***

Nervous was not the word for it, Mel fairly quaked in her boots as she awaited the arrival of Jacob Wells of whom she knew so little but from what she did know quelled within her the fear of God. He was respected by so many, he ruled the world he had created, he had adopted a strange looking child and he was Devin’s father. She wasn’t alone and it was just as well for had Devin not been with her she may have left as nerves got the better of her. Why should she be vetted anyway? What sort of person did they thing she was? Devin though reassured her it was none of those things, his home had much riding on it and her assurance that she wouldn’t tell a living soul was so important to his family. Sneakily Mel wondered if she was entering into the world of the mafia so secretive were they about everything and it was only her first sight of Devin’s father that sent that thought scurrying from her mind never to return. Jacob Wells was to Mel, a father figure she could become attached to. He was everything she deemed a father should be, kind, sympathetic, caring and with a twinkle of mischief in his eyes that told her he had humour like his son. Mel decided she would like him immediately and the lady he had brought with him and the man that they introduced as chief cook and bottle washer she also warmed to. Strangely that feeling did not go unmatched, Mary took Mel beneath her wing almost as soon as the introductions were made and William decided the fledgling was far too undernourished for his liking and decided first chance he got he would fatten her up. So it was a happy group that having spoken to Mel at length and liked what they had found made their way back to the tunnels with Melanie in tow until Devin had another idea. “Hold on everyone, we’ll be with you shortly, there’s just something I want Mel to see.” Taking her elbow, he steered Melanie through some tunnels and she was soon hopelessly at his mercy not knowing where she had come or where she was going, and so speechless by what she was seeing that she could do nothing but trust that wherever he was taking her would not be to her detriment.

“Don’t worry.” Devin told her as her silence continued, “I want to show you how Catherine first came into this world.”

Now Mel laughed, “Dah, I think I can work that one out for myself, Dev.” And she began to sing, “My bonny lies over the ocean, my bonny lies over the sea, my daddy lies over my mommy and that’s how they got little me.”

Devin laughed out loud, “I don’t mean in that way, I mean how she arrived down here. Remember that time in Peter’s basement?” Mel groaned, ‘oh not again Dev, why do you have to keep reminding me?’ she laughed and he went on, “Because honey, this is how it happened. Look up there.” He pointed to the ceiling of a small cave they had entered and she could see nothing except instead of rock above one corner was covered in muslin and beneath it large cushions were scattered. “See it?” Devin asked, “That’s me booby trap. The other side of it is in the floor of the tunnel at the back of Peter’s basement and Catherine literally fell through landing right in front of me and Vincent and that’s how we met.”

Mel’s mouth dropped open, “Honest?” Devin nodded. “If you were up there now, you could drop in on me, in fact had you gone as far as Cathy that day you would have dropped in on us too.”

“I wish I had, might have saved myself from myself.” Melanie told him regrettably and he placed an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close, “Not to worry Mel, alls well that ends well, and you’re here now and can make up for lost time. Come on, there’s loads of people I want you to meet, and loads of places I want to show you. Ever seen a waterfall underground? Or a cavern alight with crystals so brilliant you need sunglasses? Or a mirror pool beneath the ground that reflects the stars from some unknown source at night? This place is magical Melanie, and its all yours.” Caught by his enthusiasm and love of his home Mel’s face lit up, “It sounds divine Dev, really there’s all that? I like the sound of the crystals can we see them first?”

“They’re deep, and Vincent and Catherine are down there right now, but we’ll go I promise, maybe for our honeymoon…” Devin gasped and stared at her wildly, he hadn’t meant to say that!

“I beg your pardon?” Mel laughed a little nervously and an awkward silence befell them.

Devin didn’t know what to say but his mind was racing, until he thought ‘oh what the hell’ and asked her, “Mel will you marry me?”

“You’re serious?” Mel wasn’t certain but her heart hammered at a frightening speed and Devin nodded, “In truth I hadn’t meant to say that, but now that I think about it it doesn’t feel so wrong, in fact since I’m falling in love with you, and now that you know about my home and family, and since you love me…well…what do you think…could we make it work?”

“That will largely depend on you Dev. I must say I’m surprised. Ahem, no make that gob smacked but nothing would please me more. To be your wife? Oh Devin it’s all I have ever wanted! Would it frighten you too much if I said yes?”

Devin laughed, “No honey, it wouldn’t. The more I think about it the better it seems. We could have a long engagement just to be sure, but I think, sweetheart, you are definitely growing on me.”

“Then I accept, yes Devin I would be honoured to marry you.” Together they smiled, their smile lighting up their faces and they hugged and kissed and sealed the pact and Devin guided her from his hidey hole back out into the tunnels his head in a whirl. He was going to get married…he laughed out loud…him married…and the more he thought about it the more the idea appealed to him and he took hold of Mel and swung her around until both were dizzy and laughing he took her hand and guided her to the mirror pool where they would spend a romantic evening beneath the stars beneath the city that never sleeps.

*** *** ***

To be continued in Chapter Thirteen - click on 'Next' below:



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