“Look at him, like some love sick dog. Have you ever seen anything the like?” Devin laughed out loud but rather than join him Father just nodded, “Actually yes, when he had that thing for Lisa.” He replied as they both watched Vincent go out of the chamber and from their sight. “I’m worried about him Devin. I know the signs, he’s falling in love and for Vincent that is never a good thing.”
Devin nodded, he totally agreed, but had to say, “Still Catherine is entirely different. She has known him a long time…” he grimaced, “Although she does basically view him as a very good friend and to be honest I am not the best person to assume anything of Catherine. I have no idea what’s on her mind when it comes to love.”
“Good Lord no. Once maybe but it was never anything serious, I’m not the settling down kind, not yet any road. I think Catherine is though. Maybe you should have a word with her see how she feels about Vincent.”
“Whatever she feels, it is no good. Such a relationship would be a failure from the start, Devin. You can see that surely?” Father told him with a sigh.
“It might not be, but I do see your point. Thing is, dad, how are we going to stop him? He feels deeply for Catherine and then there is the connection he shares with her how do you explain that?”
Father shook his head, “I’m not sure but are we placing too much import on this bond? I mean the fact that he shares it with Catherine ordinarily would imply that his destiny is somehow linked with hers, but is it really? Could it be that Vincent feels this kind of feeling with everyone, only he isn’t always so tuned in to notice it? After all the more one concentrates on any given subject the closer one becomes to it. If you ask me this bond has a lot to answer for.”
“True, dad, but he never had a connection with Lisa did he?” Devin told his father.
“Not that I am aware of. But he did make a hash of the situation by believing there to be more to it than there actually was. And Lisa was one thing, but Catherine Chandler is quite another. Lisa being of the tunnels was someone I could speak to. Catherine is a different kettle of fish entirely.”
“Yes she is. I don’t know dad we just have to watch for the signs and be there for him, and if we get a chance to do so then we must ask Catherine what she intends doing about it. It might be better all round if they put some space between them, though having said that they’ve recently got back together after two years apart and you tell me that nothing changed in that time?”
“It was on a back burner simmering quietly, he never really forgot her, and it was he that made the first move to visit with her a few months ago. It is a problem Devin, and I’m glad that you are here, it makes all the difference having someone that can be confident to both of them and read between the lines to establish what is actually at stake here. Vincent will need you when it all turns sour, and it will. Catherine is too beautiful to accept living down here with Vincent for the rest of her life, and her ideals are different. She will want more, I’m afraid than Vincent can give.”
Devin agreed Vincent had really set his sights too high this time. “I’ll do everything I can, dad.” He told his father. “I plan to stay around for several months, hopefully whatever is blossoming will come out into full flower by then. I promise I’ll be there for Vincent whenever he needs me.”
“Thank you Devin.” A great weight was lifted from Father’s shoulders. A problem shared was a problem halved and for the first time in several weeks he felt relieved that he wasn’t alone in this.
At the mirror pool Vincent reclined with his back leaned against the wall where he could clearly see the shimmering water and toss the odd pebble in idly watching the ripples they made. His mind was totally focused however on Catherine and the bond was fully opened so that he was aware of her every emotion. She appeared happy, bright sensitive to everything around her and from time to time he felt her feelings shift inwards as if searching for something elusive and Vincent wondered if she could feel him prodding her emotions. That would be something new, and something that would need explaining, but he would not offer an explanation unless she asked for it. The Bond was still a very special connection that he enjoyed sharing secretly with her, taking liberties maybe but warming him through and through as he knew of her well-being.
Since her visit three days previous, Vincent had again spent restless nights. The memory of her kiss was burned into his brain and her flippancy toward his arousal continued to make him laugh. He had been on the verge of such embarrassment when he had realised that his erection could be felt by her and hadn’t known what to do in the awkward silence that had surrounded them. What relief he had felt from her flippant reply, what humour it contained. How he had laughed and how even after when they had said their goodbyes at the gateway to the park, they had only just shyly avoided meeting one another’s eyes. Vincent chuckled now, just remembering it, and then he became serious as the memory of her devastating kiss played out again and again in his mind. Oh to have been able to return that kiss! Vincent’s lips twitched with anticipation and he touched them with his fingertips imaging her lips there and kissed his fingers sliding his lips back and forth with eyes closed imagining Catherine was kissing him and he her. Immediately his sleeping manhood was awoken by the feelings of desire thundering through him, and contrite Vincent immediately stopped pretending he was kissing Catherine realising with embarrassment that every time he did he became so hopelessly aroused that his manhood grew to amazing proportions such as he had never known. This is going to be a problem…Vincent mused…how can I separate one from the other? He never realised the nigh impossibility of that. Reaching his twenties with no sexual experience, he had missed teen fantasies and was a hopeless novice in the ways of love and sex. No book he had read had prepared him for the reality of mere kissing becoming an extension to raw need, and Vincent wasn’t certain what to do about it. He maintained his belief that a person should not indulge in sex before marriage, but at no time had he ever envisaged that kissing should be part of the equation too. He had always presumed that one would be able to kiss and not be affected and he wondered if such thing was possible. How did other couples do it? He’d seen Kanin kiss Olivia and when Kanin turned around he did not appear to be aroused. He’s seen some of the teens in the tunnels kissing, but true, had to admit that they did tend to plaster themselves together, embarrassingly so, he remembered when having to pass them by. Was that why they giggled, did they know something he didn’t? Was something growing between them literally that could not be seen by him? If so then would it always be the same, would he always become aroused when he kissed Catherine?
Vincent’s thoughts came to a sudden grinding halt. He’d said when he kissed Catherine, not the other way around. Had he reached that conclusion already? Had he presumed that from now on when they greeted each other he would take the liberty of kissing her? Should he? Vincent sighed, Catherine he knew, was just showing him what it felt like to be kissed, there was nothing more to it. Surely he shouldn’t just presume that she would expect kisses with him from now on. Suddenly depressed Vincent clamped down on the bond nothing had altered. Catherine was no more his girlfriend now than she had ever been, and he had to face facts, Catherine was a girl from above and if he stuck by his principles she would never marry him, so why was he daydreaming that she would? And there was another thing, Devin was back, and hadn’t Catherine agreed that she had been waiting for Devin? So would they now make love as they had intended? Vincent was pretty sure that for all his gentleness, Devin didn’t really care for Catherine the way he did. Devin would use her, he would make love to her and then move on, because that’s what Devin was, untrustworthy, and definitely not the settling down type, he was footloose and fancy free through and through, but as to Catherine? Vincent knew that Catherine wanted normal things, a home, a husband and children, hadn’t she implied such when she had spoken of bringing her children down to the tunnels to meet him?
That thought turned Vincent’s mind onto other things. A faceless man marrying Catherine, making love to Catherine, giving babies to Catherine. Vincent groaned heartbroken, how could he ever get off this Catherine merry go round? Perhaps never to see her again would help, but Vincent was powerless to resist the pull back to her. And why oh why did he have the connection with her, above all other things that simply did not make sense. What was it for if not to be her partner? Was he simply her guardian angel sent to protect her? If that was so, then would protecting her from possible mates be acceptable? And could he do that? Would she allow him to? She had listened to him regarding Tom, but for how long would she continue to listen? And what right did he have, when the real reason behind his doing so were purely selfish ones, knowing that the longer he kept her from anyone else, the more chance there might be that she would want to be with him instead.
Sighing desperately, Vincent was startled when Devin walked up and plonked himself down at his side. “Morning Vinny, nudge up a bit will you, its damp here.”
“We’ve already said good morning today.” Vincent reminded him not moving an inch. It was obvious he did not want company.
“So we have. I’ve just got a note from Cathy.” Devin decided that would get his bro’s attention, and it did! Vincent twirled round all ears, and eyes wide with interest. “For me?”
“No, for me. She wants me to go above to her house. Wants to talk she says, you wouldn’t happen to know what its about would you?” His throat tight Vincent shook his head.
“Sure. May as well. Might be educational.” Vincent’s head snapped back, “What do you mean, educational?” Devin was quick to notice the hostility in his brother’s tone.
“Leave Catherine alone!” Stunned Devin stared at Vincent. My, was that telling him or what?
“Leave her alone? Why?” Devin asked innocently, as he made a show of cleaning under his fingernails.
Vincent wanted to scream, “Cos she’s mine!” But he knew he didn’t have that right, instead though Devin was surprised when Vincent revealed sadly, “Because I love her.” And any flippant reply Devin might have made was lost when he saw the tears in his brother’s eyes, “I’m sorry Vincent.” Devin spoke sincerely.
“For what? Me? Catherine? You?” The sarcasm was plain so too the desperation.
“I’m sorry for the hopelessness of your plight.” And to his surprise Devin saw the threatened tears in his brother’s eyes start to slide down Vincent’s cheeks. “It is hopeless, isn’t it?” Vincent asked choking back a sob, “I love her so much and look at me? Its hopeless, one such as Catherine would never return my love, I will never be anything more to her than a friend, and I’m not ever certain that I can be that, because my feelings are so selfish, I want her to myself and I cannot bear another to have her, Devin, not even you!” After that revelation the sobs came thick and fast and Devin felt compelled to place an arm around his brother’s shaking shoulders. “Thought I saw her kissing you a few days back, Vin?” He prompted, “Surely that shows that she thinks a lot of you?”
“Catherine is very compassionate, she feels for others. It saddened her to know I had never been kissed, but Devin…now she as kissed me I find myself longing for so much more…how can you separate one from the other? How can I not humiliate myself by becoming aroused through a simple kiss?”
“It can be impossible in the beginning, Vincent. When you love someone, any touch can get hopelessly out of hand. Just being near them can make your mind one tracked…I know what I am talking about here.” Devin told him honestly.
“Yes, but I don’t want to talk about it, okay? And before you ask, no it wasn’t Catherine, though I did love her once.” Devin sounded so sad that Vincent felt fresh tears gather behind his eyelids and he was forced to apologise, “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be, I just fell in love with the wrong woman, she was unattainable, that’s all you need to know.” Devin sighed, “Anyway back to you, if you love Catherine like you say you do, separating a simple kiss and a raging need will be nigh impossible brother especially for someone like you who hasn’t had much experience in these things.”
“I’ve not had ANY experience in these things. What I felt for Lisa was infatuation, I never loved her the way I love Catherine, because I never imagined doing the things with Lisa that I am not contemplating with Catherine. In fact these needs are new to me, before Catherine kissed me, I refused to face that such things existed, now I seem incapable of not thinking about them.”
“Oh Bro, you’ve got it bad, haven’t you?” Devin shook his head, “This is a hard one, Vincent, short of telling Catherine and seeing how she deals with it, I cannot advise you, but I do know one thing…”
“Now that I know how you feel, whatever designs she has on my visit, I will certainly back away if it appears that she expects me to make love to her finally after all this time.”
“Ah then you do know. What did she tell you?”
“ I shouldn’t give away a confidence, but I regret that I feel Catherine feels she cannot move on with any other person until she has got you out of her system.”
“Damn! Thing is Vincent, I like Catherine, and before this conversation I might have done whatever she expected of me, because hell, she’s one beautiful chick, but what was she hoping for? Marriage? Like I say Bro another holds my heartstrings though I know I have to get over that ‘cos it is impossible, and I might have been willing to imagine in the arms of some other for what it was worth, but I simply can’t now. Not only would you never forgive me…but if I’m honest I’d just be using Cathy.” Devin sighed wistfully, perhaps he should never have told Vincent he’d heard from Catherine. Perhaps he should have just gone to see her and done everything he had promised to do, and all three of them could have moved on. Well now he couldn’t, and how was he to explain it to Cathy? Devin hated confrontations would sooner float on by with the least bit of hassle if he could, and making love to Catherine he considered on line to that. Now that he knew she was hung up on it as well, didn’t make it any easier…he was beginning to realise what a stud felt like.
“Yes you would.” Vincent agreed, “Not only that but you would be setting her on the path to freedom. Once she has you out of her system as you put it, I do believe Catherine will have nothing holding her back from sleeping with other men that come into her life.” The words were easily said, but Devin detected how they stuck in Vincent’s throat as he spoke them.
“Let’s see, what if I can get her to think about you in that way? Its probable that she hasn’t even looked at you in the light of partner material Vincent. And if she can kiss you…what?”
“I said, husband material, not partner. I told Catherine I could never entertain a sexual relationship with any woman before marriage.”
“Whoa Vincent, you’ve certainly blown it there! What you go and say a damn stupid thing like that for? This one is going to get pretty messy I can see.”
“Well for one thing, I might have managed to persuade the lovely lady that she was missing out by not offering her delectable self to you, that you would be considerate and kind, and loving toward her and would not hurt her, but hell Vincent if I’m to tell her that she has to marry you first…well you get my drift surely? Something as big as that could put anyone off.”
“Possibly, but Tom, Catherine’s ex wanted sex before marriage and Catherine dumped him for it well that among other things.”
“Really!” Devin was surprised, “Well maybe there is hope for you after all. Look leave it with me, Vincent I’ll see what I can do to help.”
“Would you? Only don’t tell her we have had this conversation.” Vincent begged.
“Course not. Think I’m that dumb? Thing is how can I start it…” Devin fell into deep thought until Vincent prompted him, “I thought about kissing Catherine hello when we next met, do you think that would be appropriate?”
“Well she can only slap you…”Devin laughed, “No, forget I said that, was only kidding. Tell you what you could tell her that since she started it you would like to practise she might fall for that.”
“Do you think she would?” Vincent’s eyes lit up then dismayed he added, “But then she will know it’s not true when that other thing occurs.” Looking down at his groin, Devin was left in no way guessing as to what his brother meant.
“You could hold her away from that area. Stand her a little to the side, and hide it beneath your cloak. She doesn’t have to know Vincent and you can assess the situation by the way she responds to your kisses.”
Much brightened Vincent nodded, “Yes you’re right, I could. Devin will you send a note back to Catherine asking her to come to the tunnels instead, and then accidentally on purpose not be here when she arrives?”
“You’re a bit of a dark horse on the quiet aren’t you bro?” Devin laughed, “Sure I’ll do that. Must be mad though when the delectable lassie surely wants my body…still look at it positively at least she will be in the mood for loving Vincent…you never know your luck you could have it made…” Devin grimaced, “Unfortunately I keep forgetting that damn little promise you made, marriage before sex…damn Vincent, do me a favour, think before you leap with another woman will you?”
“There never will be another woman for me but Catherine, this kind of love comes but once in a lifetime and my views will never change. I could never have that kind of relationship with anyone that was not my wife. I’m sorry Devin, but that’s the way it is.”
“What have you got to be sorry for? Wish I could be so damn gallant. When it comes to you and me Vincent, we’re from different moulds and I don’t just mean the obvious, but I’ll tell you something Vincent, given the choice I think a lot of woman would prefer the one you came from when it comes down to it although that wouldn’t stop them from trying to get you to break all of the rules.” Devin chuckled, Catherine Chandler appeared to have become quite the little minx and a hot one at that, his brother might find her a force to be reckoned with if she ever did decide that making love with his brother wasn’t so bad after all.
Vincent chuckled, as did Devin, before adding “I’ll send her that reply now, then when I hear of her arrival I’ll go above okay? Tell you what though, why don’t you take her someplace private somewhere she’s never been to perhaps.” Vincent shook his head, “No I know just the place. Its private true but she has been there, Catherine asked me to take her to a concert beneath the park when there was one on next. Put that in the note, tell her there is one on tonight and I’ll be happy to escort her to it. At least that way she will be expecting to spend time with me while she is here.”
“Okay, I’ll do that. Have a great time on me, then okay?” Devin winked at Vincent as he rose, “And don’t do anything I would do!” He laughed heartily and Vincent smiled as he watched his brother leave the area of the mirror pool. His heart thudded with anticipation, tonight hopefully he would see Catherine again…tonight hopefully he would be kissing Catherine again…rising reluctantly because by those thoughts his body was once again betraying him, Vincent made his way back to his chamber. He was tired and needed to sleep, for the last thing he would want to do was fall asleep in Catherine’s presence, and Devin would never for give him if he did!
With Devin’s reply in her hand Catherine looked around her clean as a whistle apartment and sighed. All that work for nothing she had scrubbed and polished all morning and placed fresh linen on her bed, a bed that had held her attention for the last two days as she had pictured Devin lying there with her. For her mind had been made up, now was her chance, despite how she might have felt about Devin months ago, Vincent had hit the nail on the head when he had made her face the fact that she had been waiting for Devin. That until she had made love with Devin she could make love with no one, well here was her chance, Devin was back and before he went away again as he invariably would, unless she could hold him back, Catherine knew that she was going to have him come what may. Her heart and mind had been geared for this too long, and nothing was going to stop it from happening. So reading his note with mounting disappointment, Catherine was relieved to know that it wasn’t just that he couldn’t make it for a reason he had not elaborated on, but rather that he was asking her to the tunnels and adding that Vincent was free that evening to take her to a concert.
“Of course, he isn’t aware of what you are aware.” Catherine chided herself, “If Devin knew of your intentions for him wild horses wouldn’t have stopped him from being here tonight.” Thus laughing Catherine didn’t seem to mind putting her plans on hold for another day. “It’ll happen Cathy.” She told herself, “Just be patient. All good things come to he that waits, or she in this case.” Catherine laughed then moved from the sitting room to her bedroom wardrobe intent on selecting something suitable to wear for a concert below ground.
When he met her at the entrance to the tunnels beneath the park, Catherine almost took Vincent’s breath away. Donned in a rich velvet gown the colour of a midnight sky, with a white fur wrap around bare shoulders Vincent was speechless and his carefully rehearsed plan vanished from his mind. “Will I do?” Catherine twirled as she watched him stare at her with some amusement, “Or do you think I’ve overdone it?” She asked with concern.
“No, no…you look…” Vincent’s mind searched for a word that would convey exactly how did look and finally settled on one that said it all, “Beautiful. Catherine you look beautiful.” He held out a hand to her as somehow the idea of kissing her hello seemed inappropriate, so was surprised when Catherine standing on tip toe brushed her lips against his and whispered, “Thank you Vincent, you don’t look so bad yourself.” That was an understatement! Catherine could hardly tear her eyes from him, he looked fabulous, fantastic, and strangely mysteriously sexy, though she admitted that last had nothing to do with the emerald slacks he was wearing, tan jerkin and ruffled white shirt beneath. It had to do with his eyes, they were stormy and filled with something Catherine couldn’t quite put her finger on, but definitely sexy came out on top.
“Shall we go?” Vincent took her hand in his, reluctant as she seemed to do so herself in fact she seemed mesmerised and unable to move. Vincent’s heart fluttered, if he didn’t know better he would have thought that he had had an impact upon her, in the way that he had hoped.
“Yes.” Catherine whispered her eyes still gazing into his. Her heart thumped as she noticed his gleaming hair, fluffy in some places and still a little damp in others signifying that he had not long washed it. “Does it take long to dry?” she asked aloud embarrassed that she had, “Your hair, sorry, I couldn’t help noticing that it is still wet in places.”
Vincent chuckled, “It takes a long time. I towel most of the water from it, but with no hairdryers down here, I have to let it dry naturally and that can take a few hours.”
“What about the brazier? Couldn’t you sit by it?” Catherine suggested and to her surprise Vincent laughed out loud, “Tried that a time or two, its awkward and to my detriment I have singed more hair than I care to admit as Father will attest to. He tells me the smell of burning hair is the worst smell in the world.” Catherine laughed, “I can imagine!”
They walked along in silence for a few moments, enjoying the company of the other, both very much aware of their joined hands and their garments rubbing against one another. Vincent, Catherine noticed had worn his cloak, but it was not pulled tight around him and she was drawn to the sight of his long legs striding forth the corduroy not encased by leather throngs as his jeans had been. “Are those trousers new?” Catherine asked thinking aloud.
“No, I just wear them for special occasions.” Vincent told her with a sidelong glance. His eyes were blue and adoring and Catherine shuddered imagining drowning in such pools. “And this would be a special occasion?” Catherine asked hoping her voice did not falter, there was something different about Vincent tonight, more different than normal. He seemed assertive, sure of himself (nothing could have been further from the truth) and bold. “Yes of course, every occasion spent with you, is special Catherine.” That did it! Catherine stopped dead and Vincent’s heart thundered as he caught sight of the cautious look in her eyes and he wished he hadn’t said that.
As easily as he could, Vincent replied, “Yes Catherine? What’s wrong?” He sounded different already. That other answer had been underlined with a huskiness that Catherine had never before known with Vincent. He had almost made a play for her, did he realise? Catherine shook her head, “Nothing. Its okay, come let’s get going, the concert will soon be starting.” Again they fell into step, but they were quiet for the rest of the journey, each tuned to the other watching for signs of something neither could put their finger on, but sure that any little mistake might send the other running.
Finally they arrived, and Vincent helped Catherine down to the scatter cushions he and Devin had arranged there earlier with Vincent noticing that his brother had thoughtfully been back and brought a rug and one of William’s food hampers with even a bottle of wine, and Vincent hid that quickly, before it gave Catherine the wrong impression.
“Later, come on sit down, the concert is about to commence.” Now it was upon him, Vincent regretted the evening. Being there with Catherine, so close, he knew the impossibility of seeing it through, and music was the last thing on his mind, although as the soft melodies washed over him, he found more and more that they enhanced the occasion and made him feel even more amorous toward Catherine than he had before. He wished Devin was there, and with his brother’s knack of untimely visits was sure that he would turn up any moment, almost perturbed when he didn’t.
“Relax Vincent. You’re like a cat on hot bricks.” Catherine told him with a smile of reassurance, “What’s the matter? Are you hot? Why don’t you remove your cloak?”
Remove his cloak! Never! It was his shield just in case anything did happen that he didn’t want Catherine to see. “No I’m not hot.” Vincent replied and though he felt the shift on Catherine’s emotions he did not know that she was thinking, ‘pity because I am, and it’s nothing to do with the temperature down here.’ And surprised that she felt that way, Catherine could only conclude that geared as she had been for a night spent with Devin and seeing how gorgeous Vincent was beside her, she was thinking what the hell…any port in a storm…and then disgusted with herself for thinking such a thing was acutely embarrassed. This Vincent noticed, “What’s wrong, Catherine?” He sounded miserable, unhappy. “Nothing.” She told him as brightly as she could. Did he think she wanted to leave? “Are you enjoying the music?” Vincent asked sure that she was.
“Then what is it? I know something is bothering you, is it me?” He sounded so sincere, so sad that Catherine didn’t know how to answer he was also applying that nasty little act of his again by seemingly knowing exactly how she felt. How did he do that? Catherine chided herself for her thinking, only a few days earlier she had seen such as a gift to be milked, funny how one changes one’s mind as the mood swings.
“No its not you…” Catherine’s words faltered and she grimaced wryly, “Well not exactly…not in the way you presume anyway.” She tried to laugh but it didn’t quite ring true and Vincent decidedly uncomfortable beside her announced, “Perhaps we had best go, this was a bad idea.”
“No, Vincent. You misunderstood me…please sit down. What I meant was…”
Begrudgingly Vincent sat, well knelt and looked at her unsure of what to do but as she hesitated he asked, “What did you mean?”
“Oh God Vincent!” Catherine buried her face into her hands then looked back up at him almost immediately, “Don’t you know how damn good looking you are dressed like that! You’re doing things to my insides that is sending me crazy.” Catherine laughed hoping to keep it light but when Vincent did not laugh just looked at her with disbelief she wondered if she had offended him. “Forgive me, I shouldn’t have said that.” She begged.
“Did you mean it?” Catherine detected the hope in his voice and out of contrast the sadness in his eyes, “What! Do you think I would tell you something that wasn’t so? Vincent, I meant it! You’re gorgeous tonight, look at you, dressed to perfection, your hair like a golden halo, and your eyes…Vincent what is it about your eyes, what are they saying to me?”
Swallowing with difficulty Vincent wanted to tell her so desperately, ‘they’re saying they love you’ but he could no more utter the words than he could ask the sun not to shine, so he did the next best thing, throwing caution to the wind, he leaned forward and took the initative by brushing his lips against hers. He didn’t know what he expected by the simple gesture, possibly a rebuff but certainly not Catherine’s arms as they came up around his neck tugging him down to lay upon her - that was a complete surprise! And the kiss deepened…Catherine opening her mouth to allow him in, her tongue hot and feverish as she sought the depths of his. Eyes closed Catherine glorified in Vincent’s kiss it was delicious and the best she had ever known…
“Oh God, oh God, Vincent, stop please…stop…” He heard her voice from far away, through a fog that surrounded his brain and not until her hands started pushing him back did he finally relinquish his hold upon her, “Catherine?” He sat up bewildered, “I’m so sorry.”
“Sorry? God Vincent, don’t be sorry…you’re driving me crazy. I want you, I want you so much!” Catherine sobbed as her body started trembling uncontrollably, “But I know you don’t want that… you told me so…you wouldn’t do anything like that before marriage. Vincent believe me, I didn’t want to stop but for that.” Her eyes were pained and Vincent did the only thing possible, he enfolded her into his arms, stroking the bare skin of her back in a soothing caress, hoping to ease her thudding heart. Inside he was devastated and glorified all at once, she wanted him…oh God she wanted him…but his ideals…his belief that such a thing was meant only within the boundaries of marriage…had prevented her from expecting what he could not give.
“Catherine?” Vincent edged back, and his eyes when he looked into hers were sincere. Catherine hic-cupped and gazed back at him sorrowfully, “Yes, Vincent?” What he said next stunned her to the core.
“I love you.”
“You love me?” Catherine asked with disbelief.
“Yes, to my shame I do.”
“Oh Vincent, I’m so sorry. I don’t look upon you in that way.” Catherine told him sadly.
“I know.” The words were so softly spoken that Catherine had to strain her ears to hear them above the sound of the music, “yet” he reminded her, “You want me?”
“Yes Vincent I can’t deny that and don’t ask me why because I don’t know the answer. But tonight on the way here, when you met me, you were different, perhaps that’s love speaking, I don’t know, but whatever it was, I noticed more about you in those few moments than I have done in all the years we’ve known one another and I can tell you honestly Vincent, that I don’t see what is plain to see, I see beyond to the man, to the man that you are underneath and I respect that man and find him attractive, but love? Vincent, I’m not in love with you.” Catherine replied as gently as she knew how.
Vincent nodded, but said nothing and Catherine touched his arm and added, “I’d make love with you Vincent, because you are gorgeous and I find you attractive, but if you want more before you could accept that from me…” sadly she shook her head, “Then I’m afraid you’ll be waiting a long time, I couldn’t live here Vincent, not even if I loved you.”
“At least you are honest, Catherine.” Vincent found it impossible to look her in the eye preferring instead to look at the picnic hamper at his side.
“Yes, and I think I should go now.” Catherine told him preparing to get up.
“As you wish.” Vincent didn’t try to stop her, and his sadness was her undoing.
“Its not what I wish. Vincent, you are just what I need, you’re caring, gentle, kind and you love me, you could make love to me Vincent, you could remove the hang up I have that prevents me from having a normal relationship with anyone else. You could erase what Devin placed in my heart. Please?”
Tears in his eyes, Vincent shook his head, “But you do not love me.”
“No, but it is a kind of love, is it not? Being intimate. Vincent I’m offering myself to you, if you don’t accept it, you know what that means for us don’t you?” He did look up then, his gaze locked with hers “no, tell me?” He asked almost wishing not to know.
“Vincent, can you honestly say that after tonight I could actually come here again? You love me Vincent, wouldn’t it be cruel to make you hope that one day I might return your feelings? And suppose I did, and maybe I will, but it doesn’t alter the obvious Vincent, I simply could never live down here, and you cannot live above. We are doomed Vincent, but I would as I say, be willing to make love with you. It’s your choice, but if you refuse me then we have to say goodbye now and forever, it is the only way.”
“How can you say that? How can you offer yourself to me, and then not be committed? Catherine it is a contradiction! Surely with that between us we would be closer than ever before?”
“You’re missing the point Vincent. Making love would take off the heat. Its what we both need, and what better people to share in something like that. I can think of no one I would like to share my first time with more, you are my best friend Vincent, and after we have done it, we can still be friends but put it behind us, since it will no more stand in our way.”
“No Catherine, I can’t accept that. If I make love with you, I will want that for the rest of my life, I would consider you mine. As I told you a while ago the way of the world is not the way I believe in. Going from partner to partner is something I find abhorrent. When I give myself to someone, if ever I get such a chance again it will be for life and as I made plain days ago, it will be within marriage. I can’t Catherine, as much as I would like to, I can’t accept what you offer me.”
“Please. Vincent don’t you see…” Catherine shook her head, “We’re meant for one another… in this way…we’re both still virgins…doesn’t that tell you anything?”
“You make it sound as if we are the last of our kind.” Vincent chuckled unable to help himself and Catherine grinned, “I wish I hadn’t of stopped you now.”
“It wouldn’t have made any difference to how I feel. I wouldn’t have let anything happen, Catherine.”
“You say that now…” Catherine giggled, but Vincent reminded her adamantly, “I wouldn’t, believe me, how I feel is very important to me.”
“So I take it that’s a no then?” Catherine asked him sadly.
Slowly Vincent nodded, his eyes were sad but sincere, “That’s right, Catherine, as much as I’d love to make love to you I have to refuse your offer, I’m sorry.”
Deeply Catherine sighed, ‘if only I could live in tunnels’ she thought unhappily, ‘but I know I couldn’t…even if I loved him’ she told herself, not realising that when someone is truly in love with another just being with that one wherever they might be is all that matters. “I’m sorry too.” Catherine replied hauling herself to her feet, “Guess I’d better be going.”
“Would you mind if I didn’t escort you back? I can send a message for someone else to accompany you?” Vincent asked already tapping out the appropriate message on the pipes. Catherine said nothing just collected her fur wrap and started off toward the tunnels that would lead her home.
Watching her go, Vincent awaited a reply that came from Geoffrey who said he would do the honours and meet Catherine at the cross section, and then Vincent reclined back against the cushions, closed his eyes and let the threatened tears fall and all night he would remain there sobbing believing he would never see Catherine again.
*** *** ***
When Devin heard the outcome he was incensed, “You idiot, you bloody idiot.” He told Vincent, “What you go and do a thing like that for?”
“Its how I feel I do have principles.” Vincent reminded him.
“Principles! Principles, Vincent how many woman do you have falling at your feet? Do you seriously believe that there’ll ever be another as beautiful as Catherine?”
“No, neither do I believe I will ever love another as much as I love Catherine. I know, you don’t have to spell it out, in your own words I’ve blown it. But Devin can’t you see, better is it to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
“Yeah well my point exactly bro! I just hope you can live with the loss that’s all. As for me, I’d rather have lived on my memories than had none at all and you never know, if you had been that good Catherine might have returned for more.” Devin laughed but Vincent remained straight faced he didn’t share his brother’s feelings one bit.
“I still think I did the right thing. Catherine was seeing her virginity as something she simply had to lose no matter who took it from her. I’m sorry but I cannot accept such a way. Whomsoever I give myself to will have to partner me for life, it is the only way I can allow it.”
“Well the way Catherine looks at things is about right up top. Her virginity is standing in the way of so many other things, Vincent not to mention the fact that among her friends she probably appears as some kind of freak to have held on to it for so long.”
Vincent shook his head, “That’s terrible.”
“Just life bro, life in the real world.”
“Have you lost yours?” Vincent asked with interest.
“And then some! Vincent what are you like?” Devin grinned, “You’re certainly out of a mould of your own bro I can vouch for that.”
“As it would seem.” Vincent replied dryly.
“Not in that way! I don’t mean what is obvious, but just your morals. Don’t tell me you actually took to heart all that slushy stuff pops taught us, did you? I know with me it went in one ear and out of the other.”
“Not entirely, that is something good about what you were taught must have stayed inside you or Catherine would never have waited this long for you, or been swayed so strongly by what you said that its prevented her from moving on.” Vincent told his brother, somewhat accusingly.
“And your point is what exactly?” Devin asked, detecting the animosity in his brother’s tone.
Vincent sighed, “Can we leave this subject behind, I am growing weary of it.”
“Not until you tell me what you implied.”
“Its just that, Catherine placed too much trust in you Devin. The things you told her appealed to her, it would appear that people with caring hearts like you and I are very few and far between up top. Catherine has yet to meet anyone that would put her feelings ahead of their own needs.”
“I guess that’s so, and true from what I know of people up top.” Devin sounded bitter and Vincent questioned that with his eyes, but Devin did not elaborate. One day Devin might open up about that relationship that had so obviously hurt him, but Vincent could see it wouldn’t be anytime soon.
“So do you think the old gal will return then?” Devin asked thinking of Catherine.
“She’s younger than you.” Vincent reminded him, “and me, come to that.”
“I know, but all the same do you think she’ll return?” Sadly Vincent shook his head then surprised Devin when he asked, “Would you go to see her for me?”
“Do you think that’s wise? I mean from what I’ve heard of Chandler she’s a man eater.” He meant it humorously but Vincent didn’t like it, “She is not!”
“Aw come on Vincent, unwind a little will you? Really, do you think I should, you know how she feels about me?”
“Yes, but I trust you not to take advantage of that.”
“You might trust me, but I might not trust myself. I tell you now Vincent, if I went there and she asked me to make love to her I would not be so gallant. I’d do it Vincent, really I would, so do you still want me to go?”
Vincent shook his head, “No.”
“What are we gonna do Vincent? She wants you, she wants me, I want her…”
“I want her!”
“Yes but you’re not gonna have her are you? So that takes us back to square one, which is one way or another Catherine is gonna have someone cos she has set her mind on it, might as well be me after all I got this particular ball rolling.”
Vincent sighed deeply, “I don’t want you to.”
“I know that! Dork.”
“Then why would you, knowing I didn’t want you to?”
“Someone’s gotta do it.”
“You speak of it like it’s opening a door.” Vincent snapped.
Devin grinned, “Well in a way it is. Hey reminds me of a picture postcard I saw, you know those ones with the cartoons on.” Vincent didn’t know, but Devin overlooked that and went on, “Saw one with this gravestone and written on it were the words, ‘here lies Agnes Simmons, age 94 years, spinster, returned unopened’ do you get it, returned unopened!” Devin laughed out loud, and despite the way he was feeling Vincent could not prevent his lips from twitching with just a little mirth until he returned back to earth with a bump and a sour-puss face that told Devin he was back in the doldrums again. “Oh do snap out of it Vincent,” Devin begged, “You refused her now get used to it. And we both know that even if you hadn’t of done, all would still be as bad, cos you would consider that would make Catherine yours and she isn’t, she’s just a gal looking for a good time and that’s that!”
“Its more than that. Catherine is different, she just isn’t aware of that fact and peer pressure makes her act the way she does. If she were brought up in the tunnels she would have her values and priorities set right. Catherine is a lost soul, Devin and she’s making a huge mistake one I fear she will regret.”
“Supposing, just supposing, either I or some other guy makes it with Catherine and then one day she decides that she could love you and returns here, would you take her? I mean knowing that she has slept around would you forgive her and take her as your wife?”
Vincent was silent a long time before answering. Devin bit his nails while he waited spitting the tendrils out across the chamber floor, something Vincent found abhorrent, but concentrating as he was missed the action entirely at that moment in time. “Yes I believe I would.” He told Devin at length, “After all we are connected and that surely accounts for something.”
“Ah yes, the bond. Keep forgetting bout that, why didn’t you tell Cathy about it? Might have made all the difference you know.”
“And it might have kept her here with me under false pretences. No if Catherine comes to me, it will be because she loves me, there is no in-between and certainly nothing less will I accept.”
“You missed something. What if one of those people she slept with was me, how would that make you feel?”
“It would be awkward, but if Catherine could cope with it, then I would learn to in time. You though might find it more embarrassing.”
“Don’t bank on it.” Devin laughed then checking his watch told Vincent, “I have to go bro, was due up top half an hour ago. There’s a sale in a clothes shop and they have some pretty cheap jeans on offer, shall I get you a pair?”
“If you can afford to, thank you.” The burning question on Vincent’s lips stayed put, he couldn’t utter it but Devin seemed to know, “Okay, and don’t worry I’ll not be visiting Catherine.” Vincent’s sigh of relief was apparent and Devin shook his head. His brother was a hopeless cause and trapped in a world of his own making, shame that cos he and Catherine would have made a nice couple, for if nothing else everyone could see that they were or had been the best of friends, and so Devin had been led to believe, best friends made the best of lovers, only as he thought of the love he’d lost Devin realised bitterly that it hadn’t been true in his case.
*** *** ***
In the cold light of day Catherine felt nothing but shame and she had lost her best friend to boot. How could she face Vincent after this? Especially after telling him she would never return. Catherine knew that part wasn’t true she had deep affection for Vincent and couldn’t imagine him not in her life. Why had she put so much import on sex? It was vain and it was stupid, and what was the hurry? So what if she was almost nineteen and hadn’t been laid if truth be known her so called friends that chided her on that fact were probably envious. Many of them had been around the clock with partners, some were even pregnant and others…Catherine shuddered, well a few of her college friends were actually HIV positive. So why did she envy them, why did she want to be like them? Maybe Vincent was right, maybe marriage first was the best thing, and at least she would know that someone truly loved her and they could learn together and grow together, it couldn’t be such a bad thing. The only problem was that he lived beneath the city and Catherine knew she couldn’t hack that, but what if they lived in one of those houses with access to the tunnels? That might work. No sooner had she thought it than did other thoughts come hot on its heels…if they could live that way…then…she remembered Vincent’s kisses…never had a kiss stirred her blood so…and never had she wanted someone so much…even Tom had not made her want him, strange how hung up over something Devin had said she wouldn’t do it with Tom, but Vincent like Devin in so many ways…brought up the same no doubt…was different in more ways than one.
Amazing, the turn about, Catherine feeling alive once again threw on the first things she could grab happening to be a pink track suit with bold white stripes and that done, picking up a flashlight and her keys, she tugged on her sneakers and headed for the door.
Crossing the park some ten minutes later, who should Catherine see but Devin…she waved and called his name and he sidestepped from his path to meet her, “Hi Cathy? Going jogging?” She looked happy and her eyes were shining brightly.
“No I’m going to see Vincent.” She told him breathlessly. Surprised Devin’s mouth dropped open, “Thought you were never going to see him again?” He asked.
“He told you?” Catherine sounded hurt, “What else did he tell you?” She asked accusingly.
“Nothing, just that he and you had had a disagreement and you were never going back.”
“Oh, good. Well I am, I’ve had a change of heart. Where are you off to?”
Devin ignored her question, “Cathy, don’t hurt him. Vincent is vulnerable, might not look it but he is, and he loves you.”
“I know. Don’t worry I’ve done a lot of thinking since I left last night and I don’t think that what I have to say will hurt him any. Quite the opposite in fact.”
“I’m all ears.”
Catherine laughed, “Well you’ll have to wait, cos what I’ve got to say is for Vincent’s ears only.”
“Okay then, I’ll see you later. I’ve got me an appointment with a new pair of jeans.” Catherine laughed and asked, “Is Vincent in his chamber?”
“He was, could be anywhere now. Best tap out a message on arrival have him meet you at the drainage tunnel.” Catherine nodded, “Okay will do. See you later Dev.”
Devin watched her hurry pass, he would give his eye teeth to know what all that was about, but looking down at his tatty jeans he knew where he was needed the most. Besides Vincent would fill him in later, he always did.
Catherine took Devin’s advice, tapping out a message for Vincent the moment she tripped the mechanism to open the sliding door and entered Vincent’s world. Usually she would have gone on in, but unsure of her reception thought better of it. Vincent might never want to see her again, and just as she was thinking the likelihood of that, she saw his tall lean shape heading toward her down the tunnel.
“Catherine?” He queried, “I thought never to see you again.”
“Hello Vincent, yeah sorry about that, I made a mistake, can you forgive me?”
Reaching her side he extended a hand, “I would forgive you anything Catherine.” He told her simply, “Alas I’m not sure that it is a good thing for you to be here.”
“Yes it is.” Catherine gazed up at him her eyes tracing the contours of is lips with longing, remembering how his kisses had felt and wanting to know again “I’ve decided something, Vincent.”
“What’s that Catherine?”
“If that’s what it takes, then I accept, I’ll marry you.”
Vincent’s mouth dropped a mile and he physically staggered against the tunnel wall, all manner of expressions chasing across his face. Catherine saw them all and wondered about each in turn, the first one shock, the second anger? The third disgust? And the forth, finally, finally acceptance and love why the myriad of emotions Catherine wondered, what was on his mind? Finally he had to ask, “Why? I’ve not even asked you.”
Catherine grimaced, “I know that Vincent, but you love me and I want you and if you’ll only take me in marriage then so be it, I accept.” If she thought he would like that Catherine was wrong, fury mounted in Vincent’s eyes, “How dare you!” He roared moments later, “Go Catherine, just go and never come back!”
Protesting got her nowhere, Vincent took her arm and fairly threw her from the tunnel, “But Vincent, you don’t understand…maybe I didn’t explain myself…” He gave her no chance to say another word, closing off the metal door from between them with a very large clang then heaving for breath on the other side Vincent slid to his haunches feeling more miserable than he had all day.
*** *** ***
Walking through the park on his way to the office had become one of Elliot’s little pleasures. He was getting a fat butt, wouldn’t want anyone to tell him that, but too much sitting in the office, sitting in the car sitting at home reading, was giving him a backside associated usually with horse riders and obese women, and Elliot didn’t like it one bit. Besides walking through the park on such a sunny morning was good for his morale and it lifted his spirits especially when he spied a pretty girl as he did that day, one with her hair in a pony tail that tossed from side to side as she walked and one who was wearing a stunning pink and white tracksuit. He smiled when they levelled feeling concern when she looked at him blankly and her red rimmed eyes told him that something had upset her, either that or…”Have you got something in your eye?” Elliot asked putting out a hand to halt her in mid stride.
“No.” There was a catch to her voice and now he was close Elliot knew that he had seen her before, “You’re Catherine Chandler aren’t you?”
“Yes, I’m sorry I don’t know who you are.” She told him warily.
“Sure you do! I’m Elliot Burch. We have been introduced, once.” He smiled at her genuinely and Catherine felt her heart flutter she loved his smile it lit up his eyes, “But it was a once that I never forgot. Been meaning to ring you actually, but business…” he shrugged, “Well you know how it is.”
Catherine laughed, “Yes, though my father would tell you that I know nothing of the sort.” Elliot laughed too then checking his watch decided he would make time just for once or he might live to regret it, “How about a coffee, would you join me, I’d really like to get to know you better?”
Catherine thought about it, just a mere second and then nodded “Alright, thank you Elliot, I’d like that, I could do with some company right about now.” Elliot made no mention to that fact, just happy that she had agreed and taking her arm he steered her toward ‘this little bar that he knew that made the most delectable coffee.’ Making Catherine laugh out loud.
Crossing the park they were lost in conversation and Catherine did not notice that returning to the tunnels Devin had stopped to watch them. Under his arm he carried a bag with two pairs of new blue jeans one pair for him and one for his brother. Devin watched them till they were out of sight and he wondered what was going on. He also wondered what kind of game Catherine Chandler was playing…and then thinking of his brother he began to run…if Catherine had seen Vincent and left so soon there could only have been one reason…she had hurt his brother again, despite saying she would not…for what other reason had she left so quickly?
Reaching the drain Devin dipped inside and opened the sliding door ready for anything except finding his brother sobbing his heart out just a few yards beyond, “Vincent!” Devin dropped his bags and ran to his brother’s side, “Whatever’s the matter?”
Vincent shook his head unable to say anything. He felt bereft and Devin picked up his bags, closed the door and started helping his brother to his feet, “Come lets get you home.” He thought Vincent might protest but when he didn’t Devin decided that was a bad sign in itself. Whatever had happened?
“Did you see Catherine?” Devin asked at length and very cautiously.
“Yes.” Vincent’s tone was gruff and unfeeling.
“And?” Devin prompted gently.
“She said she would marry me.”
Devin sucked in a breath and exclaimed, “Hey buts that’s marvellous isn’t it?”
“No!” Vincent flared, “How can it be? I never proposed to her. She assumed that by marrying me I would have relations with her, what kind of woman is she Devin? How could she stoop so low, just for sex?” Vincent shook his head hoping to clear all though of Catherine from it, if only he could do the same with the bond, “She doesn’t even love me.” He added with deep sorrow.
“I met Catherine before she saw you she was crossing the park the same time as I was, she was excited but wouldn’t tell me what about. I asked her not to hurt you, Vincent and she promised she wouldn’t. She even implied that what she had to tell you would make you happy.”
“But she doesn’t love me!” Vincent reminded him, “If she did, I would have been the happiest man alive, Devin. How can she do such a thing, say such a thing purely from need? What is it she wants from me?” Vincent started to cry again. He felt as though Catherine had torn him in two.
“Did you let her explain? Vincent I know you, you often jump to the wrong conclusions.” Devin told him quietly.
“I know, but with Catherine, I know her heart, her emotions, I could see that she was thinking only so far as having sex and was prepared to go to any lengths to get it. Did nothing I say have any impact on her yesterday? She knows that I view marriage as a lifelong commitment, not something that can be over as soon as she has got what she wants from it. Devin what kind of woman have I fallen in love with? Certainly she is not the one I thought I knew.”
“She’s not the one I thought I knew either Vincent. I’ve just seen her up top going to a bar with some geezer that approached her out of the blue.”
“She might have known him.” Vincent replied.
“Even worse. Ever heard of rebound Vincent?”
“Yes. But Catherine wouldn’t act on it that quickly and why should she feel hurt? Rebound is for those that love, not for those with needs.”
“Not so bro, to Catherine love and needs are one and the same. She’s one mixed up young lady is our Catherine, I think I should have visited her after all, might have drummed some sense into her. Or we should let her do a round with Father even, now that would soon sort her out.” Devin laughed.
“I can’t imagine that she would come here and say she would marry me just to get from me what she so desires. We were best of friends Devin and her emotions tell me that hasn’t changed but her actions show otherwise. Best friends never hurt one another or do anything that might cause injury, yet Catherine has hurt me twice in less than twenty-four hours and I’ve done nothing to deserve it.”
“And you’re sure you haven’t misconstrued matters?” Devin asked unsure, for sometimes he knew that Vincent could read things into something that simply was never intended to be.
“I’m certain I haven’t.”
“What exactly did Catherine say to you earlier, can you remember?” Devin asked, hoping he might be able to detect something that Vincent had missed, or knowing Vincent had added something to it that simply was not intended.
“Word for word I can’t remember, I was too shocked to take it in, but basically she said she would marry me if that’s what it took for me to make love to her.”
Devin shook his head, “No, it doesn’t figure Vincent. She wouldn’t do that, you must have misunderstood her. A person doesn’t just agree to marriage and know what that entails just for sex, Catherine would know that she would have to live down here as well.”
“Not unless it was never her intention, she might have married me got what she wanted and sought a divorce.”
“Except legally speaking you would never have been married anyway, because in the eyes of the law you do not exist. You have no birth certificate, identification, nothing to show you are an American citizen. Catherine could leave the marriage any time she chose and not be beholden to it, even though The Master is a qualified minister, Catherine could still find a loophole if that’s what she wanted.”
“Well that only drives my point home more forcefully. Catherine really gave no consideration to the marriage at all, only taking from me what she desired. I feel awful.”
“You should feel honoured.”
Surprised Vincent stared at his brother, “Why?”
“How many beautiful women do you know Vincent that would actually do something like that to get you into bed?”
With a wry grimace Vincent told his brother, “None.”
“Exactly. Look Vincent, can’t you just lower your standards, just this once? You used to believe that something like this would never happen for you, and now all of the sudden the moment it does you conclude that you’re going to have women falling at your feet one after the other. But supposing Catherine is all you are going to get, wouldn’t it be better to take her up on her offer rather than never having the chance, however she intends it?”
Adamantly, Vincent shook his head. He had considered it, spent all night doing just that, but knew at the end of the day that he couldn’t just shove his morals aside like that. He had himself to live with after all, and firmly believed in the saying that you never miss what you’ve never had. He felt very strongly that after any kind of intimate relationship with Catherine he would simply not be able to let it rest there, he would want more, and he would expect more. Different he might be, chances few he might have, but it still didn’t mean that he would be a pushover, he had his own rights after all and other people had to respect them.
“Well then it’s a lost cause Vincent, and open and shut case I’m afraid, and as it appeared that Catherine has already moved on to fresh pastures I think we can both safely say that’s the last we’ll see of her, so I guess all this is just gibberish and by the by. We’re wasting our breath, so lets talk about something else huh, like these new jeans for instance. What do you think?” From the bag Devin took a pair of jeans, held them against him and told his brother, “29 leg these must be mine, the longer ones are yours.” And he threw the bag containing the jeans toward Vincent. However when Vincent did not take a look Devin sighed wearily, “Oh come on Vincent, stop being so broody, its over finito, you have to move on.” Vincent shook his head, “There is the connection.”
“And what is it telling you right at this very moment?”
“Catherine has mixed feelings, one moment sad the next bright and cheerful, she is restless too.”
“Did you want me to go and visit with her after all?”
Vincent shook his head, “No, but I think I should.”
Vincent nodded, “You’re right something about this whole affair doesn’t sit right, and Catherine and I were such good friends, I must have misinterpreted something or not understood. I have to speak with her, sort it out it is the only way.”
“When will you go?”
“Tonight. I’ll get another restless night if I don’t.” Devin nodded, “Okay then bro, but take care okay, and if she upsets you again don’t let it get to you until you arrive home, you might make mistakes to your detriment if you aren’t thinking straight. Shall I wait for you somewhere, walk home with you?”
Vincent shook his head, “No. Don’t worry I will keep to the rooftops, no one will see me, I know how to hide."
Devin nodded, “Okay then Vincent, I hope you get whatever it is you are going there for.” He winked at his brother but Vincent ignored the gesture. The only thing he was going there for was to rebuild his and Catherine’s friendship. A lot had been said and much had been misunderstood so it seemed, and they shouldn’t let it stand between them. He valued Catherine’s friendship and Vincent knew that his life would be a lonely one without it. He just wished things hadn’t gotten complicated, there were too many things now between them that each would recall to mind that might cause problems, still he wouldn’t know until he tried, and Vincent did intend to try as hard as it might be to do so because the kind of love he had for Catherine only came along once in a lifetime.
*** *** ***
When Vincent arrived on Catherine’s balcony he found the apartment in darkness, but his sense of her told him that she was close. Peering through the French windows offered him little since both were covered with long lace voiles in a shade he knew to be soft peach. Besides looking through windows was never something he enjoyed, it was rude as well as the fact he might see something he ought not. Still the sense he had of Catherine didn’t appear to be coming from inside the apartment, but rather way over the park from where he had just come. Vincent frowned thinking she hadn’t had a similar idea had she? She wasn’t visiting him instead? Vincent concentrated on the connection relieved when it appeared that Catherine was coming closer to where he was rather than further away, which told him she wasn’t intending to visit the tunnels, and why should she? After this morning’s fiasco he doubted she would ever attempt to go there again. Vincent felt very sorry for the way he had manhandled her and shouted at her and told her NEVER to come back, he ought not to have done that, especially as he didn’t allow her time to explain herself. But he had been so damn angry with her that she could take marriage vows so lightly just to get what she wanted. When he had had time to ponder it however, Vincent was certain he had misunderstood her, the Catherine he knew would never be so callous about his feelings and talking it over with Devin had made him realise more and more that he must have misunderstood her. So there he was on her balcony, his mind running riot as to how he should approach the matter without putting his foot any further in it.
Wherever Catherine was however, Vincent could tell that she held no qualms as to what had taken place earlier in the tunnels, and of course that gave him cause for concern. How could she be so blasé about it? Didn’t she realise she had just turned his whole world upside down, not to mention their friendship. She wasn’t offering him a cup of tea for goodness sake, yet through the connection Vincent found nothing to substantiate that she had any feelings on the matter whatsoever. In fact, she was happy, carefree light of spirit and Vincent could only speculate as to why.
No sooner did he wonder these things then did laughter from eighteen floors down catch his attention the sound filtering upward on a light breeze as did Catherine’s voice moments later and a name he had never heard her mention before, ‘Elliot’. Looking down over the balcony wall, the streetlights and the light illuminating from the building revealed the silhouettes of two people that he presumed were Catherine and one other. He watched mesmerised as they talked together, laughed often and then recoiled as the larger figure leaned toward the smaller figure and realised that they were so obviously kissing!
Panicking Vincent didn’t know what to do! His first thought was to run, but he’d had enough of running and he didn’t think he could stand another restless night, last night had to have been the worst he had ever endured! Yet to go away and not confront Catherine then he was certain that tonight would be even worse.
Refraining from watching the couple Vincent tore his gaze away looking back at the darkened apartment noticing only the illuminating lights of digital appliances. The television set, red, the stereo deck, orange, the alarm fitted just inside the apartment door winking green, then blue, green then blue. Moving along the terrace Vincent could see her alarm clock its numbers illuminated in red telling him it was after eleven o’clock at night. Vincent was surprised, he had felt that he had arrived just after nine thirty, had it been all that time that Catherine had taken to cross the park with her friend, what had they been doing all that time? The night was warm true, but the park was a dangerous place to be after dark, obviously Catherine either felt very safe with her friend or he was some how protected by someone else. Again no sooner had he thought it than did he realise that the two figures he had noticed a while ago standing outside the park gates had been there for quite some time. He had paid them no heed before, believing them to be people passing the time of night with light conversation or a cigarette but he had also noticed the dark saloon parked just outside of Catherine’s apartment building and eyes glued to it a moment he was sure he could see the silhouette of a chauffer through the tinted windows. So, the fellow that was holding Catherine’s attention was someone ‘big’ enough to warrant protection then? Vincent pondered what he knew of the fellow for a few minutes. There was only one Elliot that he had heard of in this city that might require bodyguards and that was the young upcoming Developer Elliot Burch. He’d read articles about him in Father’s newspapers, sent down from helpers one or two days after they had been printed but he had never really taken much notice of the man’s name till now. What business did Catherine have with him? And had she known him before today? And was it the same man that Devin had seen her with in the park? Was that when they had met? If so, they were awfully close for so short a time. Vincent dared to look back down, though if Catherine’s rapid heartbeat was anything to go by, he had all the information he needed without looking. Sure enough though he found the couple still close, in fact closer than before, for now Catherine was within the circle of the fellow’s arms.
Finally, finally with the chiming of a clock somewhere to the east signalling quarter past the hour the couple reluctantly pulled apart. Vincent watched them kiss one last time, then the fellow saw Catherine to the door of the building, waved and walked toward the saloon. There someone alighted from the driver’s seat and the two men waiting outside the park gates crossed the road to the car, one slipping into the back passenger seat to the right of the fellow and one slipping into the left of the fellow as the chauffer held open the doors. By the time the chauffer had returned to the driver’s seat and the saloon engine purred Vincent heard Catherine’s key in the lock and knew that any moment her apartment would be filled with light. Not only that, in all probability she would hurry to the balcony to watch her friend pull away, and one quick glance to the street told Vincent that her friend expected this too, because the car had not pulled away from the curb.
Therefore, ducking behind a tub filled with leafy plants Vincent held his breath as the terrace was suddenly illuminated with light from the apartment and brightened when Catherine drew back the voiles and opened one of the French doors to step out onto the terrace and wave her friend goodbye.
Holding his breath, Vincent watched mesmerised. Catherine looked stunning! She wore the most exquisite evening gown he had ever seen her wear, in a light shade of blue that shimmered as she walked. Her feet were bare so she had so obviously left her shoes inside the apartment and her silky legs were visible through a slit that went from ankle to thigh revealing more than Vincent assumed was appropriate for a first date. Inside his blood boiled and his heart hammered erratically as he continued to take in Catherine’s attire. Her hair was piled upon her head, and she wore earrings that glittered in the light from the apartment, and there was a small link chain around her neck. She looked older, more sophisticated than her nineteen years and certainly more beautiful than Vincent had ever seen her before.
A soft sigh signalled to Vincent that Elliot must have left, but Catherine continued to gaze after the disappearing tail lights of the saloon and longer still, leaning against the terrace wall as if enchanted. Finally a whisper of wind made her lay her hands against her bare arms and rub them in a gesture that revealed that she was growing chilly out there on the terrace and reluctantly, Vincent could plainly see it was so, Catherine moved away from the wall with the intention to go back inside the apartment. It was at that moment that Vincent whispered her name, “Catherine?”
Catherine froze and turned to the sound of his voice, “Vincent?” She queried before he heard the accusation in her tone, ‘how long have you been there?”
For a moment Vincent caught sight of bright eyes, happy eyes, but as she pondered his presence and the length of time he had stood watching her, they became filled with apprehension and caution perhaps even a little annoyance.
Deciding to play for safe, Vincent told her, “Not long.” He wasn’t one to lie, but he deemed this instant a necessity, the last thing he wanted to do was start an argument with her even before they had begun and ruin what had obviously been for her a very enjoyable evening.
“Oh right. Would you like to come in, it’s growing chilly out here?” Catherine walked back through the opening of the French doors and tugged at the voiles holding them aside for Vincent to enter. “Thank you” he told her as he passed on through, “You’re right it is growing chilly. You should put something warmer on.”
“I intend to, I shall be going to bed soon, I am very tired.”
“Have you had a good evening?” Vincent asked trying not to sound too interested.
“Yes thank you.” Catherine exhaled a long breath, “Vincent about this morning… I need to apologise.”
“Apologise?” That had been the last thing Vincent had expected her to say.
“Yes,” Catherine giggled a little nervously he thought, “I said some very stupid things. Forgive me. I have these bright ideas that seem excellent at the time, but I do have a terrible habit of acting on impulse and I’m afraid I may have led you to believe…well I might have given the opinion that…well the truth is…” Catherine fumbled to tell him, “I don’t really want to marry you.”
Vincent gasped! He hadn’t expected this. He had assumed that Catherine would plead her case and that they would iron out all the little hiccups, but he never expected that she would back out of her proposition. That came as a complete shock!
They stared at one another, Vincent was speechless but Catherine soon found her voice, “If there was nothing particular that you wanted I’d really appreciate it if you left now. I am tired and want to go to bed.” Vincent almost laughed, huh the crux of the matter, hadn’t that been what it had all been about? He wished he was Devin with a sudden witty quip, but he could find nothing to say.
“So?” Catherine cocked her head to one side like an appealing puppy dog trying to soften someone’s heart only it was not that kind of gesture, for Vincent could clearly tell through the connection that she wanted him gone. Finally he replied, sadly so, “I wanted to apologise for my behaviour this morning. I didn’t give you time to explain yourself, but it would appear that things have changed.”
“Yes. Funny huh, how fate interferes had you of not done that, I
would never have met the man of my dreams. So in a way I should thank you for that.” Catherine laughed completely unaware of the fact that she was breaking Vincent’s heart and went on, “Elliot is wonderful. He’s great company, good looking…” the way she said it sounded as if she was floating on air… “ And rich to boot. Daddy will have a field day with this one, you’ll see. He’ll have Elliot and I married off before the years out!”
Taken aback Catherine stared at Vincent, he sounded furious, “What was that for? Aren’t you pleased for me?”
Vincent shook his head. How on earth could someone offer marriage in the morning and then come evening seem to have forgotten or thought so little of the offer that it could be swept away like some filth beneath the carpet?
“Say something Vincent? I thought you wanted what was best for me? Oh!” Covering her mouth with one hand Catherine apologise, “Sorry, am I hurting you? I forgot, you said you loved me didn’t you? You did mean that as a friend didn’t you,” Catherine eyed his suspiciously, “You didn’t mean that you were in love with me did you? You see there’s a difference.”
Vincent took the easy way out. His mind racing he foresaw that if he told her he was in love with her she would want nothing more to do with him believing a clean cut to be for the best, but if he let her believe that he loved her as a best friend, then…
“You’re my best friend Catherine, I love you in that way.” His eyes couldn’t quite meet hers but Catherine didn’t seem to notice as with a sigh of relief she told him, “Oh good, you almost had me worried there. I’m not one for throwing something back in another’s face or for trampling all over their feelings. If you were in love with me Vincent, everything I‘ve just said about Elliot Burch (Vincent gasped) would have likely broken your heart. As it is I’m pleased we’re still friends, can I still visit the tunnels too?”
Not trusting himself to speak, Vincent nodded, “Oh Good.” Catherine told him, then as the clock chimed half past the hour Catherine feigned a yawn, “I really must go to bed Vincent, I’m bushed.”
Vincent took that as his cue to leave, “Sleep well then Catherine visit with me any time that you like.” Catherine giggled, “Might not be anytime soon, you know new boyfriend and all that, but I’ll come whenever I can okay?”
‘Or whenever you need to’ Vincent uttered under his breath knowing how Catherine liked to use him as a sounding board for her problems. Instead he said, “Yes, I will look forward to seeing you, and Catherine…” His eyes must have disclosed his feelings for Catherine laughed out loud and told him, “I know I know, don’t worry, whomsoever comes into my life, I will not forget…your secret is safe with me Vincent…I promise.” Her eyes were bright with amusement.
Shortly after Vincent left by way of the elevator. His heart was breaking in two and he couldn’t have stood another moment seeing Catherine’s happiness at the new man in her life. He felt empty despite the fact that their friendship was still intact. All his dreams and hopes and fantasies came crashing around him. In so short a time Catherine had flippantly tossed his feelings aside even to the point of believing that his love for her hadn’t been significant enough to constitute deep forever love when he felt sure she had known yesterday that had been what he had meant. Reaching the park Vincent sat down beside a lake watching the tiny boats bob beneath a low hung moon. They held no pleasure for him this night as if anything ever would again. Laying his head into his hands Vincent fought back a sob as the dream that he shared with Catherine putted and died like a candle snuffed out before its time. And it was clear that he had lost her, lost Catherine to a man as far removed from him as he would ever be…so had Devin been right? Had his high morals lost him the only woman he would ever love? Well I’ll never know now thought Vincent and his heart broke afresh as the threatened tears finally fell.
*** *** ***
Sometimes you find out what you wanted
Isn’t really what you need
and the dream and all its promise
Was never meant to be
All your hopes and aspirations
Won’t make it like it was
If you believe the pain will never pass
Believe me in time it does
But you’ve got to know when love is over
You’ve got to learn to carry on
And with the world upon your shoulders
You walk away when hope is gone
When your golden road has reached the end
You find the strength to start again
There’s a time for love and a time for letting go.
When you're standing tall tomorrow
Looking back at yesterday
Through the memory of your sorrow
How the dawn was so far away
You'll be far beyond the shadows
Where hearts can learn to shine
And you'll realize the endless night
Was only a moment in time
But you’ve got to know when love is over
You’ve got to learn to carry on
And with the world upon your shoulders
You walk away when hope is gone
When your golden road has reached the end
You find the strength to start again
There’s a time for love and a time for letting go.
The night is long the night is cold
With nothing to believe in
Just hold on, 'cause life goes on
Your new day is waiting, let go and let it begin
You’ve got to know when love is over
You’ve got to learn to carry on
And with the world upon your shoulders
Find the strength when hope is gone
When your golden road has reached the end
You find the strength to start again
There’s a time for love and a time for letting go.
(Michael Bolton - Time For Letting Go)
*** *** ***
When Devin heard the news he was furious and an argument ensued between himself and Vincent that escalated out of bounds until the raised voices brought Father hurrying into Vincent’s chamber to see what was wrong.
“Oy, oy, what’s going on here?” He bellowed as the two brothers faced one another angrily, “Whatever is the matter?” He looked first to Devin causing his fleshly son to cry, “Oh that’s right look at me why don’t you? It always has to stem from me doesn’t it?”
Flustered Father looked at Vincent, “Well?”
“We are having a difference of opinion, that’s all.” Vincent ventured not sure that it would placate his father.
“Well give me credit for observation.” Father snapped, “And your difference of opinion is being announced right through these tunnels. Now what is it? Can I be of help?” He looked from one to the other of them, his eyes seeming to say ‘I’m waiting.’
“It might be an idea, Vincent.” Devin looked at his brother, “Obviously you aren’t prepared to hear anything I have to say on the matter. Maybe dad can help.” Father’s glance rested upon his younger son awaiting his reply surprised when he admitted, “Perhaps you’re right.” Then both turned to their parent Devin bringing up a seat so that the old man could sit, “Here pops take a pew.”
Sitting Father looked to either one of his sons in turn and prompted, “So what’s all this about.”
“In a word…Catherine.” Devin announced before Vincent had a chance to reply.
“Catherine?” Father was surprised.
“Yes.” Vincent sighed, “Father much has happened that you are unaware of. You might be shocked but please do not make judgements until I have told you everything.” Already Father felt his hackles rise. What had that young minx been up to now?
Piece by sordid piece Vincent put together the facts, with Father’s eyes growing wider and wider as he heard how Catherine had behaved and commenting, “She what?” “She didn’t!” “That’s terrible!” From time to time in between.
Finally when the whole sorry story was told Father looked livid, “I’m afraid Devin’s right Vincent, though I wouldn’t put it so brutally, I feel that his term of bitch is sufficient to cover a myriad of behavioural traits that Catherine has displayed. It is obvious that by being a rich man’s daughter she feels able to trample on the feelings of others and because of her name feels she can get away with it, or that because of whom she is and represents she should be allowed to walk all over innocent persons in such a way. But I would never have believed that she could be so callous and unfeeling, neither would I have believed that she would play with your feelings as she has. She has acted wantonly with the both of you, and degraded a beautiful act between two loving consenting persons. What she hoped to gain by putting herself first I do not know, but she surely didn’t have either of your feelings at heart.”
“My words exactly.” Devin announced, “She seemed to think that we’d be only too happy to do her this service. Its like she believes that’s all men think about.”
Despite himself Father chuckled, “That might be true of you, Devin but I hardly think she should have believed the same of Vincent.” What he had expected by the quip Father had not known, but he had not expected his son’s silence. In fact Devin looked decidedly miserable. “What’s the matter? Is there something else?” Father asked looking toward his older son.
Devin shook his head, “Just don’t believe all you hear, that’s all.”
“And what’s that supposed to mean? I was making a general observation that’s all. You have been away from the tunnels have you not? I presumed you would have mixed with female company and that Catherine’s thoughts may have well been justified. I implied nothing by it and certainly did not set out to offend you.”
Devin nodded, but remained silent and Father thought he detected tears in his son’s eyes. Something was definitely amiss there that was for sure and Father made a mental note to take his son aside sometime soon and see if he could help.
“What are we to do about Catherine?” Vincent asked, since only observations had been made but nothing done about the situation.
“What would you like to happen? If you ask me, the sooner you forget about her the better.”
“He can’t dad. There’s that blasted connection. It won’t let him stop knowing everything about her.”
Father sighed, he’d forgotten about that, “And it won’t give you any peace?” Vincent shook his head. “Lord what is it there for!” Father ejaculated, he despaired of it, especially at such a time. “And you say she’s met someone else?”
“Yes, Father. Elliot Burch.” Vincent enlightened him knowing the name would not be lost on him.
“Elliot Burch, the developer?” Vincent nodded.
“Well they are two of a kind, then. Rich, independent, mixing in the same social circles…forget her Vincent, she is with the likes of those she should be with, maybe in time the bond will give you peace if you stand back and revalue the relationship, perhaps it will even settle upon someone worthy of your love and compassionate nature.”
“If only it were that easy.” Vincent faltered.
“I can appreciate where you are coming from on that one bro.” Devin told him softly, “Loving someone that is unattainable or doesn’t want you is not an easy thing to accept. It hurts, god does it hurt.” Wide-eyed Father stared at his son, “You are in love with someone?” Devin nodded, but would not elaborate, and Father suddenly felt infinitely sad for him. He remembered the love he held for Margaret and the sadness behind that relationship, it never entirely went away. Even now his heart was aching for the things he had lost and the time that had been wasted. “I’m so sorry.” Father told Devin truthfully, “There is nothing worse.”
“No.” Vincent agreed, “There isn’t.”
“Oh Lord, what are we like?” Father tried to make light of the situation, “I will never stop loving Margaret, and you two…well you know what it is to have broken hearts…and none of us can stop falling in love…its just one of those things…but it doesn’t always have a happy ending. Devin, can you not do something about your situation?”
“She’s married.” Devin’s face twitched as a hundred and one emotions sailed with the words and Father felt doubly sad asking weakly, “Happily?”
“I’m sorry, son.” Again Devin nodded but said nothing, and his eyes, Father noticed, were bright with unshed tears.
“So I guess I know how you’re feeling Vincent.” Devin told his brother bravely a few moments later, “We can’t all have those that we want, and we do have to learn to get over it, in the words of the song, there’s a time to love and a time for letting go, but its never easy.”
“If it were that would be half of the problem.” Vincent stated flatly, “But with this connection…I feel sometimes that I am going insane. Neither of you can know what it is like, to have the heart of another beating steadily alongside your own, to know when they are happy or sad, exhilarated or frightened. I feel compelled to act in whatever capacity I can for Catherine, and if its fear then I could not ignore her even if I wanted to do and I don’t.”
“No of course not, that goes without saying, Vincent. But until you understand why you have this connection with her, you must try to ignore all the other emotions you receive from her, because if you don’t it will make you ill. All I can advise is that you be there for her in times of need, but what I would really like to advise is that you should stay well away because she does not deserve you.” Father told his son truthfully.
“Father’s right, Vincent. Don’t go out of your way to visit with her. She’s one mixed up chick right now anyway, blows hot and cold so fast its hard to keep pace with her, but if you should know that she is in trouble that’s different, you should try to help, maybe that’s all it is, perhaps she is destined for great things and you are her guardian angel. John was born before Jesus to prepare the way for him so perhaps this is something similar on a lesser scale. You never know, with Chandler’s path crossing Burch’s and with him being a developer perhaps destiny has mapped out something grand for mankind at their hands, and something you do, some part that you play ensures that it happens.”
“You’ve been reading too much science fiction.” Vincent chided his brother, but Devin remained calm certain that he was right.
“Well whatever you have the bond with her for, only time will tell, Vincent. In the meantime, I’m here for both of you, whenever you need to talk.” Father looked directly at Devin when he said it making it plain what he meant there. “So what are you both doing today? I think this subject is well and truly covered don’t you?” Neither replied and Father went on, “Well if either of you feel up to it, there are a few things I could use help with today. I’ll be in my chamber if you decide you have some time to spare.” He got up from the chair and squeezed both their shoulders as he passed them, “Remember any time you need to talk, I’m here.”
“Thank you Father.” Both the boys replied, knowing that each might do that, especially Devin who had carried his burden for long enough…then again there was always his brother…and as soon as Father had gone out of earshot Devin said, “You got a minute Vin?”
“Of course, what’s on your mind?”
“I just need to talk, get something off my chest. The old man is right but I can’t confide in him just yet, I know he’s a doctor but he was my father first and there are still some embarrassing things that I couldn’t bring up, but after all that has happened lately with Catherine, maybe you can listen and not judge.”
Vincent nodded, inclining his head toward his brother his blue eyes soft with compassion and waited for his brother to start talking.
“Her name is Kei-Anne unusual huh? It was derived from her father who is Keith and her mother who is Anne. Vincent, I’ve never been in love like this before and I don’t know what to do about it. It’s tearing me in two. Thinking about her, wanting her. That’s the worst of it, the wanting…and she’s so beautiful… man is she beautiful.” Devin paused and Vincent could see by the faraway look in his eyes that Devin was with his Kei-Anne, wherever that might be. He soon found out.
“She’s in England, Manchester, she works at the airport, a travel rep, she picks up travellers from different countries and able to speak four languages Kei-Anne makes certain that they have all their belongings before leaving the airport, and that things like hire cars or trains are accessible for the next leg of their journey. That’s how we met and I fell in love with her the moment I set eyes on her. And she’s so caring, Vincent, so bright and intelligent, but she’s married and that’s happily married, and though she cares for me, the love between us is one way, my way, and she doesn’t know how deeply I feel for her. What can I do Vincent, I want to make love to her so much, but I wouldn’t want to make her unhappy by making her chose between her husband and me. Pretty sure he’d have her vote anyway she talks about him all the time Stephen this, Stephen that, I cringe every time I have to sit and listen to another one of her great Stephen stories. I hate the guy!”
“You’re suffering from misplaced love the same as I. Drawn to Kei-Anne just as I am drawn to Catherine by a traitorous heart. I do believe that time will be the only essence for both of us Devin, and Father’s advice to stay away from these women…out of sight out of mind so to speak.” Vincent ventured hopefully.
“Yeah and absence makes the heart grow fonder, do you think the same person made that contradiction Vincent, or was it established by one and replied to by another? Its been three months Vincent, three months one week, four days and eleven hours, since I last saw Kei-Anne and not a second of that has gone by when I haven’t seen her face every time I close my eyes, and I haven’t stopped wanting to make love to her. The need is driving me crazy, which was one of the reasons why I didn’t want to go and see Chandler for you. I knew that I would use her feeling as I do, succumb to her charms and in my minds eye imagine it was Kei-Anne. I feel as though I am climbing the wall with my need for Kei-Anne’s feminine body and it is a hunger that will not abate.”
“I don’t know how to advise you, Devin. Being away from her obviously has its rewards, and since she will not leave her husband…well it is hopeless for you to keep wishing. Its not doing you any good dreaming either since it can never be. Much the same as anything I’d hoped for with Catherine can never be we have both got to learn to move through around and beyond it, for our own peace of mind, Devin, and that’s all there is to it.”
“Thank god you didn’t say I could meet someone else. It’s never the same is it? And certainly its not the thing one wants to hear. There’s a certain bliss in having told someone everything about yourself, and that comes over as quite frightening the thought of having to do that all over again with someone new.”
“Yes, I understand you completely. That’s one of the reasons why I fell in love with Catherine, she knows me through and through and I had nothing to explain to her that she did not already know. She accepted me for what I am.”
“Except for the bond. You never told her about that.” Devin reminded him.
“No. It would not be easy to explain and I am afraid that Catherine would think me even more of a freak than I am already” Devin started to protest but Vincent silenced him with a wave of one hand, “Its true, I am a freak, one of nature’s finest, and Catherine might not like to know that I am aware of every emotion that she has or of her whereabouts at any given time. You imagine that, it could be frightening.”
“Or comforting.” Devin reminded him.
“If she loved me, comforting yes, but as that is an impossibility I believe it would terrify her. She already believes it is a gift that I have and has spoken of it as being disconcerting I’m sure that I am right in my assumption.”
“Oh Vincent, life can be a drag sometimes.” Devin sighed, “And advice is hard to accept even though both of us can see the folly of dismissing it. I must say though its good to share some of my heartache with you, I feel almost better already. A problem shared is certainly a problem halved. It can be so much more traumatic when kept to oneself. We suffer in silence like the martyrs we are.” Devin laughed derisively.
“That we do.” Vincent acknowledged painfully, “That we do.”
*** *** ***
A whirlwind romance Catherine was having a ball and Elliot Burch was her Prince Charming. He wined her, dined her and took her everywhere, showing her sights she had never seen before going to places only ever dreamed of. Her father found it difficult to track her down but was immensely happy that his daughter had found herself such an excellent man. Tom was forgotten as though he had never been and Charles began building castles in the air, imagining his daughter married and living happily ever after with one of the city’s most sought after men for it wasn’t difficult to notice the envious looks his daughter received from the unattached women that moved in the same social circles. Elliot Burch was going places and Catherine Chandler was going with him.
They’d dated regularly for four months when Elliot surprised Catherine during one romantic evening with a small velvet box, passing it across the table to her after they had finished the most delectable meal. “What is it?” Catherine’s eyes danced with anticipation.
“Open it.” Elliot told her with an almost shy smile, unusual for him for he was always so confident, “Then you’ll see.”
Gingerly Catherine lifted the lid and gasped! There on a bed of ebony lay the most beautiful cluster of diamonds she had ever seen. Elliot leaned forward and took up one of her hands, “Diamonds are forever. Catherine, honey, I love you. Will you marry me?”
Now she understood why the restaurant had been so empty, now she knew why Elliot had had musicians playing violins as they had eaten, and now she discerned why every vase upon every table had been full of long stemmed red roses. “Oh Elliot!” Catherine breathed dreamily, “Oh yes, yes, I’ll marry you!”
Elliot beamed and standing came around to where she sat then picking up her left hand he took the ring in the other and slid it onto the third finger. Catherine watched mesmerised as the ring slipped over her knuckle and came to rest in its rightful place. The diamonds sparkled a myriad of colours from the overhead lights and beyond she saw Elliot go down on one knee and ask her again.
“Should have done this first off.” He laughed and his eyes were bright with love for her, “So let me do this properly. Catherine Caroline Chandler will you marry me?”
“Oh yes, yes Elliot I will.” Catherine threw her arms around his neck kissing his cheek “I love you so much!”
“As I love you, sweet Catherine.” Drawing her to her feet they stood together and Elliot leaned in to kiss her tenderly and then as if on cue the musicians started to play again, a romantic number and Elliot led Catherine to the dance floor. There with bodies touching they clung to each other, feet moving slowly to the melody, lips on lips seldom breaking a kiss through the duration of the song. Only when it finished did Elliot signal for the check and their coats before leading Catherine to the exit and getting into the saloon that waited outside.
“Your place or mine?” Elliot asked before the chauffer started the engine.
Catherine stared at Elliot, “It’s late you should take me home.” She told him. Elliot laughed, “Honey…you didn’t hear me right. I said your place or mine?”
Again Catherine stared at him, “I know what you said, but like I said its late, I have work tomorrow, and I need to go home to get some sleep.” He’d always taken her home so what was the problem, and though she had often been to his place, never had she been there after midnight.
Elliot chuckled, “Cathy, we’re engaged, we’re going to be married. You don’t have to work anymore so don’t worry about your job. And I want you Cathy, I want you so much.” Now she understood!
Shaking her head she mouthed the refusal, then with tears in her eyes she told him, “No Elliot, just take me home please.”
“Honey, what’s wrong?” Elliot was enquiringly concerned.
“I thought you were different! I thought you loved me…me! Truly loved me!” Catherine’s voice rose and Elliot quickly clicked a switch that sent a soundproof glass panel closing them off from the chauffer and the bodyguard that sat alongside him. “Cathy, honey.” Elliot tried to pacify her, she was crying and he couldn’t understand what was wrong. “I love you, of course I love you. You’re beautiful, and I want you so much. God Cathy, I want you so much.” He added huskily.
“Then you’ll have to wait!” Catherine cried raggedly, how soon her world had turned upside down. It had been the same with Tom, slip a ring on your finger and they assume its bedtime.
“Wait? For what?” Elliot laughed somewhat nervously.
“Till we’re married. Elliot I’m a virgin.”
Elliot’s mouth dropped a mile, and he laughed, “You’re not?” He asked with disbelief.
“But you dated Tom for almost eighteen months!”
“So? We didn’t do anything did someone tell you we did? Did Tom tell you?” Catherine asked accusingly., “Well we didn’t!”.
“I’ve not spoken with Tom, and no, no one told me anything. But Cathy, what difference does it make, we’re going to be married?”
“It makes a difference to me! It proves to me that you love me and respect me enough to wait.” Catherine told him but Elliot argued, “And if I made love to you now and still married you wouldn’t that show that I am sincere?”
“Perhaps. But Elliot, I want to save myself for my wedding night, its what I’ve always wanted.” ‘Deep down’ Catherine reminded herself as she thought swiftly of Devin and Vincent and the mistake she almost made there. But then that had been peer pressure and she hadn’t been happy with it.
“Then we’ll be married tonight!” Elliot announced, “I know just the place.”
“No! I want a proper wedding, with my father to give me away, and all my friends watching. The way you speak its as if getting me into bed is the prime reason for marrying me.”
Elliot laughed, “Well it is one of the most important ones, honey…I love you, you love me, and I’ll not hurt you Cathy, I’ll be gentle, I promise.”
Catherine eyed him strangely, “You’ve been with someone before haven’t you?”
“What’s that to do with it? But if you must know, yes, but not recently, Cathy I swear I’ve not been unfaithful to you. And besides virginity went out with the ark. You my love are one of the remnant and a treasure beyond compare to think I will be your first and your last…” Elliot spoke dreamily.
“I’m sorry Elliot, but I won’t change my mind. Now will you please take me home?”
Elliot sighed, “I’ll be patient with you my love, because I can see your mind is made up tonight, but I won’t let this matter drop honey. A man has to know what sort of wife he’ll be getting…” Catherine froze. Just like Tom…he was becoming just like Tom…Catherine leaned forward to open the door, “Where are you going?” Elliot cried wrenching the door closed again, “Alright, I’ll take you home, if that’s what you want.” Brusquely he tapped on the glass panel and through an intercom issued the orders for Catherine’s address. Then leaning back against his seat he placed his arm around Catherine’s shoulders, “I’m sorry honey…sorry if I offended you…but you see it was such a shock…and I hadn’t imagined that you wouldn’t want to sleep with me tonight.”
“I’m sorry too. Thank you for understanding.” Catherine mumbled beginning to enjoy his closeness once again.
“Was that why you would never let me pet you?” Elliot asked as one hand strayed from her shoulder down toward her right breast. His fingers stretched to the limit he caressed the spot lightly assessing how far she would let him go now that they were engaged.
“In a way. Tom and I…” She began faltered and went on, “Well I used to let Tom take such liberties, but he always wanted more…it became a constant battle refusing him…and then when he asked me to marry him…I found out it was only because he expected an engagement ring gave him certain rights…and the right to take certain liberties…I didn’t want that happening again Elliot.”
“No, of course not.” Elliot husked. His long fingers had reached the area (he supposed) of the aurora now and he imagined the rosy tipped nipple beneath. “But if we were to start petting now that we are engaged, would you agree to that?” He whispered breathlessly.
“Perhaps.” Catherine had realised his intention, and she shifted so that her body was turned slightly outward away from his questing fingers. Frustrated, Elliot withdrew his arm.
“I love you Cathy. We’ll take it slow, okay, build up to the big day. Our wedding night will be night to surpass all wedding nights.” He chuckled softly, leaning over to nibble her earlobe. Catherine shuddered and watched mesmerised as one of his hands came round to her waist seemingly to draw her to him, but as she turned he slipped his hand up to cup her breast and blatantly used his thumb to caress the nipple that he knew to be there. Catherine sucked in a breath as the most delicious feeling warmed her body and she fought the impulse to push his hand away.
They kissed, Elliot much encouraged by the fact that she hadn’t pushed his hand away, and he used his other hand to touch her bare thigh where the slit at the side of her gown made it possible to do so. When again, Catherine allowed that he began to gingerly slide his hand further and further up her leg and his own body become swiftly aroused as he felt the heat of her body calling to him.
“Cathy honey,” he begged and Catherine knowing what was happening made the decision to allow petting and nothing more, besides it had been a long time since she’d been touched that way, and she had enjoyed Tom’s hands on her, she couldn’t deny that fact. Wantonly, Catherine opened her legs just slightly, but Elliot did not miss his chance. The moment her legs fell apart his hand slipped up to touch her between her thighs, his breath coming hard and fast as he kissed her lips. The silk gusset of her panties was wet and warm and Elliot slipped one finger inside, his first touch of her almost taking him over the edge. He shuddered and with his hand on her breast clutched her flesh holding himself back as he drew deep breaths between kisses. “Hold on honey.” He drew back reluctantly and tapping on the glass partition switched on the intercom and announced, “Stop the car somewhere private and go get yourselves a coffee.”
“Will do Mr Burch.”
Elliot drew back in his seat and flicked another control that sent a black panel covering the glass partition and the windows on either side. “Now we won’t be disturbed, honey.” Elliot told her as he heard the engine die and the front doors opening and then keys in the locks. “Now where was I?”
Catherine giggled, opened her legs again and taking his hand surprised him by saying “about here I think.”
“Mm Yes I remember now. Honey, I promise I won’t make love to you, if that’s what you want, but I could entertain you so much easier if I could remove these.” Elliot indicated by tugging at her panties.
“Okay.” Catherine lifted her bottom off the seat and fumbling in the darkened back seat of the saloon, Elliot tugged the slip of silk down her legs, the scent that came with them heightening his desire further.
“Now honey, can you lay full length on the back seat?” He felt her hesitate and was quick to add, “I promise, I wont penetrate you. I just want to taste you.”
Catherine complied twisting her body until she was laid full length on the back seat with her head propped by her purse and Elliot’s now discarded jacket. He removed his tie and positioning himself at the other end of the seat, he pushed her legs up and out so that he might bend down in between.
“Oh God Catherine, this is divine!” They were his last words for a long time as he partook of the delights she offered holding her legs still as she squirmed beneath his tender ministrations delighted when he felt her body building up and up toward orgasm.
He chuckled when she went over the edge, and kissed her petal lips as they quivered beneath his touch, drawing away only long enough to give her respite before using his hands upon her to bring her back and over the edge once again. Hearing her pant his name was a source of delight to Elliot and finally because he had to, or break his promise he moved away from between her thighs and settling himself into the foot well reached out both hands to clasp her breasts. Beneath the silk of her gown two hard nipples protruded and Elliot rubbed his cheek against them before tugging down the bodice of her gown and popping one hardened nipple into the warmth of his mouth. Catherine squirmed crying his name as he lapped at the tiny bud his other hand working its twin between thumb and forefinger and he revelled in the satisfaction that probably not even Tom had loved her so.
“Elliot please, oh please do something…” Catherine cried near frenzy, and snatching his hand from her breast she pushed it back down between her thighs her intention plain.
Elliot chuckled, “And if I were to leave you now?” he whispered laughing out loud when Catherine screamed, “Don’t please don’t, oh God Elliot…just touch me, yes there, oooh yes there.”
Finally, finally Catherine’s body arched into his hand and with her back above the seat she lowered herself down again slowly, depleted and satisfied.
Drawing her back into a sitting position Elliot sat alongside her placing one hand around her shoulders and drawing her head against his chest, “That was wonderful Catherine…”
Catherine heard the unspoken word, “Except?”
He laughed, “Well I too have needs.” He told her softly, “But don’t worry if you can’t do the honours, it’ll go away in its own time.”
“No,” Catherine told him, “Turnabout is fair play. I’m sorry I should have realised.” She reached out a hand touched his leg and slid it upward where the heat of his arousal directed her hand, but to her surprise Elliot stopped her before she could grasp a hold of him. “Honestly honey, it’s alright. It’s late and you have to be up in the morning.”
“But Elliot I want to.” Catherine told him, “And its not like I don’t know what to do.”
“Well if you’re sure?” Elliot leaned back in the seat and with his feet to the floor arched so that he could remove his trousers, “There honey, you’ll find that easier.” He told her taking her hand and laying it on his erection. Catherine’s fingers tightened around the steely shaft and began the slow rhythm tic motion of moving her hand up and down assessing her strokes against Elliot’s breathing, quickening when his breaths came shallow and fast. “Keep going honey,” Elliot panted and with his free hand fumbled in the dark for some paper napkins he knew to be there, “Here,” he thrust some into her lap, “You’ll need these in a moment.”
“No I won’t.” Catherine surprised him and stunned he almost lost his erection when he felt her take him into her mouth keeping pace over her hands, but the shock was momentary and seconds later he was over the edge. “Cathy, Cathy!” He panted as she tormented his withering manhood with the tip of her tongue, “God what are you doing to me!”
Quickly, Catherine drew away, “Only what you did to me.”
“I know, but…but…Christ Cathy, no woman has ever done that to me…not all the way…never…oh Cathy, it was glorious…I love you so much.”
“And I love you. So you’ll promise we’ll wait till we’re married for the culmination of our loving?” She asked him and he could hear the smile in her voice.
“Oh yes, Cathy, with you doing stuff like that to me, I’d wait forever.”
“Likewise.” She told him with a grin, “Now kiss me.”
Their lips touched and Elliot tasted himself on her, it was bitter and repugnant and he wondered how she could ever have done such a thing, but revelled in the fact that she must love him an awful lot to have been able to do it, but then hadn’t he done the same to her and enjoyed it? Maybe she enjoyed it also. Maybe to her it didn’t taste so bad.
“You’re an amazing woman Cathy Chandler. I can’t wait to make love to you.”
“I thought you said…” Catherine laughed.
“I know what I just said, but a guy can dream can’t he? Even forever has to come sometime.”
Straightening their clothing, Catherine laughed and then clinging together they continued to kiss until the chauffer and the bodyguard deemed enough time had passed and returned to the car. Sleepily Elliot gave the orders, “Continue to Miss Chandler’s apartment.”
Moments later they arrived, and Elliot touching his clothing in the darkened car to check he was presentable, caught something with his shoe as he stepped from the car and picking it up realised what it was as he whispered into Catherine’s ear, “You’re panties, madam.”
Catherine laughed, “Keep them.” She could hardly start pulling them on with the bodyguard at the door, “They’ll remind you of tonight.” She added as Elliot stuffed them into his breast pocket so the bodyguard couldn’t see.
“I’ll need no reminders of tonight…ever.” He told Catherine as he took her hand and checking she had everything with her, walked her up to the door of her apartment building.
There, beneath the lights of a thousand stars they kissed and clung to one another tightly finding it hard to draw apart if only for a second, “Thank you Cathy.” Elliot told her gruffly, “I’ll call you.”
“Thank you too, Elliot. Pleasant dreams.” Catherine laughed as Elliot groaned and then with a final kiss she left him hungering after her as she mounted the steps leading into her apartment building. Whatever Catherine Chandler had done to him this night, he didn’t know…but it felt so good that he hoped he would never recover.
*** *** ***
Up and down up and down Vincent paced the carpet of his chamber worn threadbare from the countless times he had walked the same path worried or anxious about some thing or another, and as with his father before him Devin cried, “Enough already! What is it with you tonight, Vincent? You’re making me dizzy.”
“Catherine’s upset.” Vincent told his brother without stopping his pacing.
“Upset, what do you mean upset, and hey why are you listening anyway, didn’t you say you were going to quench that bond of yours with a ton of icy water?”
Vincent grinned yes he had said that, but sometimes Catherine’s emotions came over so strong that he couldn’t ignore them, like tonight something had happened whereby her emotions were riding higher than a kite and Vincent had felt every single one of them and could only speculate as to their meaning. Now though she was overwhelmingly sad and ashamed, yes that’s what it was, Catherine was ashamed.
“I have to go to her.” Vincent announced pulling his cloak from the back of one chair where he had settled it the last time he’d been up top.
“Sit down, Vincent, you don’t need to do anything of the sort. Let Catherine be, or you’ll only end up hurting yourself, you know that.” Devin reasoned but Vincent shook his head adamantly, “I have to go, she needs someone.”
“Then let her call her boyfriend.” Devin stated dryly.
“No, I think he’s part of the problem.”
Devin sighed, “Well if you must, but don’t be gone all night, you know how much Father worries when you’re gone. We all do.”
Vincent nodded and swept from the chamber a second later leaving Devin to despair about having a connection like that and not for the first time.
Up top, Vincent hurried to Catherine’s apartment building, she was crying steadily now, in between fits of self loathing and was back to crying when Vincent finally tapped on her balcony doors some twelve minutes later. He felt when she hesitated, and felt it when she made the decision to open the door, and he felt it when her joy coursed through him at the sight of his face. “Vincent!” She ran to him throwing herself in his arms, “Oh Vincent!”
“Catherine…” To have her there so close was everything to him, he breathed her in, absorbed her deep into his heart, “I’ve missed you so.”
“As I have you, I’m so sorry I haven’t been to visit…” she began lamely but her words were caught on a sob as she realised she hadn’t visited because of Elliot, and the thought of Elliot made tears rush behind her eyes again.
“What is it, what’s wrong?” Vincent held her at arms length scrutinising her face with all seeing vision. Catherine hid beneath a curtain of hair, “Nothing”, she told him, “Its nothing…just something I’ve done…don’t worry…I’ll get over it.”
“Catherine, I know you. It’s more than that. I’d like to help if you’ll let me?” He told her tenderly drawing her back against him.
With her cheek against his chest Catherine sighed, “You’re so good to me Vincent and I treat you appallingly, why do you put up with it?”
Vincent wanted to say it was because he loved her, but he refrained from saying so this time as something compelled him not to remind her of that. Instead he told her, “Because we are friends and friends forgive one another anything.”
“Dear sweet, Vincent.” Catherine reached up and cupped his cheek with the palm of one hand, “I do appreciate you even if I don’t always show that I do.”
“I know Catherine, now come sit down and tell me what’s bothering you so.”
Catherine laughed a little shakily, “You’re gift must have been working overtime tonight. How does it work Vincent, how do you always seem to know when I need someone like you?”
Vincent hesitated, unsure of how to reply or if indeed he should, he decided the latter, “Just tell me what’s bothering you.” He told her, “Everything else is unimportant.” And when Catherine hesitated, Vincent prompted, “You said you had done something? What was it, huh? Surely you can tell me?” He pleaded and was rewarded with a small twitch of mirth on her lips before even that vanished to be replaced once again with one of dismay.
“In a sense of daja vu, Vincent, Elliot asked me to marry him tonight.” Vincent smiled understanding the pun at once. He had been there the night that Tom had asked her to marry him too.
“And I said yes. Oh Vincent, I love him…I love him so much…” Vincent winced and clutching the table leg beneath the cloth where she couldn’t see he fought for control. “Then what’s the problem?” He asked gruffly.
Catherine swallowed with difficulty, “It was after…on the way home…he expected that I should sleep with him because we are engaged, just as Tom expected the same thing…”
Vincent felt his anger rise, his fists clenched and unclenched around the tables legs and he prayed that she hadn’t…
“But I couldn’t Vincent…not until I’m wed, its something I have always dreamed of…waiting till my wedding night…” She looked up then passing him a shy look, remembering what she had done to him. “I’m so sorry Vincent, for what I did…to you…” But something she had said made him sit up and take note, “Was that why…” he began and she nodded, “Yes, that was why I agreed to marry you…not just because they were your values but also because they were mine also, deep down that was…I guess I did have mixed feelings back then…I knew what I truly wanted, but my friends…well they ridiculed me so much about being a virgin…I just wanted to be able to wipe the smile off their faces by telling them that I wasn’t any longer…but deep down Vincent…it wasn’t really what I wanted. Mom waited till her wedding night for Dad, I just wanted to do the same.”
“I didn’t realise, I’m sorry…”
“You didn’t give me the time to explain, Vincent. I would have married you, you know…if I hadn’t of met Elliot, and a part of me will always love you.”
Vincent was stunned she had never spoken of having love for him before that didn’t sound as though it was anything but platonic. Gruffly he brought the matter back to hand, “So why are you so upset?”
Catherine bowed her head, “I’m ashamed Vincent. I did something I’ve never done before and now Elliot will always expect it, and I can’t do it again…it was abhorrent! Tom used to want me to do it…but I wouldn’t…and I’m such a fool Vincent…such a fool.” She wept into her hands her face held against them leaving Vincent with only one option. He rose from his seat and going around to hers pulled her up into his arms gathering her against him caressing her back with long gloved fingers until he felt her calm again.
Catherine felt awful…she couldn’t tell Vincent what she did…and more especially why she had done it…and since she had been home the hundred times or so she had scrubbed her mouth with toothpaste and brush still hadn’t completely removed Elliot’s essence from her mouth neither could she completely remove from her mind that all the while she had been swallowing Elliot’s seed she had been thinking…’there Devin…there Vincent…see what you missed? See what I could have been doing to you?’ Neither could she understand why she had been thinking those things, because neither of them owed her a thing. If anything it had been the other way around, she had treated them both appallingly and made herself cheap and dirty into the bargain.
“What did you do, can you tell me?” Vincent prompted gently as her emotions spiralled recklessly within him.
“I can’t.” Catherine replied, “I’m too ashamed.”
“Did you sleep with him?” Vincent was sure she hadn’t because of the conversation of earlier but he had to ask anyway.
“No, but we…we were intimate.” Vincent sucked in a breath, he had no right to ask, but felt compelled to do so, “How intimate?” Drawing back Catherine gazed into his eyes, reading sincerity there and not plain nosiness to know what she had done he truly wanted to know in order to understand, and to understand in order to help her through her pain.
“We touched each other…” Catherine began a little awkwardly and then turning her gaze from his whispered lowly, “and tasted one another.” Within here, Vincent felt her shame deep and hot pass through him, and knew they had reached the crux of the matter. Here lay her problem for here lay her shame.
Vincent wasn’t a prude and he was well aware through the reading material that had passed his way, usually thanks to a well meaning brother just what Catherine was saying, but he was surprised that she had managed to do it all the same, and then realising by her shame that that was the problem, she had managed it and now she hated herself for it.
“The thing is…Elliot will expect it of me from now on…oh Vincent what am I to do, I never want to do that again!” Vincent held her tightly, never wanting to let her go, he would never have let her do that to him. Had she of attempted to he would have pushed her away. What kind of man was Elliot Burch that he had accepted a lady to do such a thing, and what did it say about Catherine to Elliot, that she could?
“Then you have to tell him Catherine, tell him what you’re telling me, that you find it abhorrent.”
“But I can’t. What if he insists on making love to me instead? What if he makes me do that before we are married?”
Vincent shook his head, “He shouldn’t force you Catherine do you think he would?”
“No…but…Vincent…you don’t understand…” Again Vincent felt her shame but he waited patiently, they had come this far, surely she could continue if he didn’t prompt her further?
Catherine drew in a deep breath, “You should have been a counsellor Vincent, or a doctor you are a great listener.” She told him then added, “You see if I allow Elliot to satisfy me, then its only fair that I should do likewise for him and if I don’t do…’that’ then surely I have to do the other?” Her words came out in a rush and she sighed when she had finished pleased to have got them all out without stalling.
“If he loves you he will not insist upon anything. And if he has to touch you then he is only setting himself up for expectation of something in return. Catherine you have to insist that you have no sexual relations of any kind until after you are married, it is the only thing you can do.” Vincent told her with his heart breaking it wasn’t easy to give her over to another man when he loved her so much.
“You’re right…” Catherine told him but she didn’t sound convinced, and sighed deeply, “If only Elliot was like you, or better still if only you were Elliot.” Vincent recoiled but said nothing unsure what Catherine had implied, but when she continued with, “just think how wonderful that would be Vincent, if you were Elliot…” he stopped her by telling her angrily, “I have no wish to be Elliot Burch!” Except for the fact that he has you, he uttered under his breath.
Surprised Catherine told him, “But Elliot has everything. There’s not a man in this city that wouldn’t want to be Elliot Burch and you more than most would benefit if it could be so.”
Vincent stepped away from her, his eyes steely glints of fire, “Catherine…” He warned with a low growl that she had never heard him utter before and her eyes opened wide at the sound.
“What? What have I said? I’m sorry I didn’t mean to offend you.” Catherine stated simply, then added, “Surely you would wish to look different, to have all that you possess and a normal face to boot, Vincent you would be beautiful and then you would have everything.”
Not realising that she was upsetting him further Catherine was stunned when Vincent marched to the balcony doors wrenched them open and disappeared into the night, “Vincent?” She called after him, “Come back!” But Vincent had gone, humiliated by her words, he was riding the elevator down to street level by the time she searched the terrace, only to find it empty.
*** *** ***
At home in his penthouse Elliot loosened his tie for the second time that evening and drew himself a brandy and swallowed it in one clean gulp. “God I needed that.” He told himself as he drew off his jacket and slinging it over the back of one chair flopped himself down into another before noticing a piece of silk hanging out of the breast pocket.
“Ah Catherine.” He spoke aloud, “hidden depths my love…and then some.” He chuckled then idly picking up the remote control of his television set he flicked it off stand by and ran through the channels till he found something worth watching.
Strangely it was a documentary about sexual matters and a debate was going on about oral sex and how far a person should or should not go with it. There was a panel of people that voted and Elliot was surprised to find that the majority a mixture of both men and women opted that full oral sex given by a woman to a man was disgusting and dirty unless…it happened within marriage or with a long time partner after both had been in full agreement that it was what they wanted.
“You can catch something from unprotected oral sex the same way as you can catch something from unprotected penetration.” A doctor was telling his audience. Elliot thought about that a moment, if Catherine was telling the truth and she was a virgin, he had nothing to worry about, and in all fairness both should have a HIV test before they married just to protect the other. But Catherine, either by her innocence or her stupidity had given him full oral sex without seemingly bothering that she might be catching something from the other women he had been with, though true he had never had unprotected sex, but had often gone down on a woman as he had with Catherine that evening, and so could pass on diseases that way.
The audience were arguing among themselves now, and one voice could be heard above the others, ‘any woman that does that sort of thing is a whore!’ They shouted, “no lady would do it!”
Taken aback, Elliot turned the sound up, and though this person’s views were shouted down the seed of doubt had already been set in Elliot’s mind. It was true no lady would do a thing like that, and especially during a first intimate encounter.
Elliot kept his eyes on the speaker at the back hoping she would be able to talk again, and though he listened to the debate he was jubilant when the woman stood up and shouted, “Think about it! You see a beautiful woman at a party, she is a socialite everyone admires her and her pretty lips are made up to perfection, she speaks polite things, tell me that your opinion of her wouldn’t change when you found out she’d been sucking some guy’s dick!”
Elliot’s mouth dropped open, ‘that woman’s right.’ He spoke aloud, ‘no lady would ever stoop so low’ he chuckled at the pun and went on, ‘she should be above doing such a thing or at least not until she is coaxed into it by a regular partner or her husband.’ With one hand Elliot brushed his chin thoughtfully, ‘maybe Catherine had done that sort of thing before. And if she had, virgin or not she could be carrying something, and if she did, well then he would have caught it this evening when he had oral sex with her.’ It did not cross his mind that he had done the same sort of things with other women that had come and gone from his life, only that Catherine who should have been beyond reproach had done it to him. Quietly Elliot began to fume.
Across the city Catherine switched off the same programme. It had made her feel worse than ever, that and the way Vincent had left had been all she had needed this evening. She had already felt deep shame by her actions and Vincent’s sudden departure and the programme had just about been the last straw. Gathering a cushion to her face, Catherine wished she could smother herself with it as she sobbed her heart out for the person that she had become.
No such programme was on in the tunnels, they didn’t get television down there, but Vincent felt bereft. Telling himself that Catherine spoke without thinking, that she didn’t really mean that he would look better with a normal human face, he paced his threadbare carpet as the rest of the tunnel residents were sleeping. What was he going to do? Truth told him that Catherine was so far removed from him that he could never hope for her to be his, but the bond that he shared with her reminded him otherwise. He cursed the connection not for the first time as her emotions washed over him, her deep, deep pain and like a moth to the flame he was powerless to resist and unsure that he should or could he donned his cloak for the second time that night and headed for Catherine’s apartment.
*** *** ***
To be continued in Chapter Six - click on 'Next' below:
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