Star Spangled Night-Mare

Chapters 8, 9 & 10

Catastrophe strikes when Devin organises an adventure for Vincent yet still all his dreams come true.


Chapter 8

Once again, the brightness of the light was blinding and Vincent laying back against the downy earth, got his first view of a noon day sky. It was an intense shade of blue, with fluffy white clouds, and Vincent derived immense pleasure from the sight of it.
Overhead, from time to time, a bird would soar, its outstretched wings gliding upon a trade-wind, in effortless flight.
For how long he had been unconscious he did not know, neither did he know how far the raging wind had taken him. For long moments the spiralling, crazy action of the wind had been suffocating, but not frightening, before it had released him from its mighty grip, to come plunging down to the ground, with such a force that he was sure that he had died. And many hours later, upon opening his eyes, he had, at first believed, that the bright daylight was in actual fact, his accession into heaven.
Now as he turned his thoughts inward, re-living the entire episode in his mind, he realised that nothing would ever compare to such an experience, and that he had lived to tell the tale at all, was indeed a miracle, but he had not entirely survived it unscathed. Though everything appeared okay, it was when he tried to move that a searing pain ran the length of his spine, and although this caused him some anxiety, nothing felt like it were broken.
Suddenly, alongside his own heart, he felt another’s anxiety.
Struggling upright, Vincent winced from the pain in his back, but Catherine was nearby, and she was afraid, for him, and suddenly Vincent remembered his expectations and promises for the night ahead.
A night now passed and lost to them. Sadly, Vincent bowed his head. He’d had such plans for that night, and now, unexpectedly, he and Catherine had spent it apart. And he had planned so much with such detail.
Everything was to have been so perfect.
Devin had told him that there would be a four poster bed, and that the room would be lit with candles, to make him feel at home. There would be bowls of fresh fruit to savour and champaign on ice, and Vincent had visualised the whole scene in fine detail, and though nervous he would have been fuelled by an over-riding passion coupled with curiosity to experience all that Catherine so obviously offered. No more would he turn aside. No more would he call a halt when he felt his body beginning to shame him.
It was what Catherine wanted after all. Hadn’t she made that plain on so many occasions?
And now it was what he wanted too.
To hold her in his arms, to tighten his grip upon her. How he had longed to see the delight in her eyes when she first realised his intention. But wait! Hadn’t he informed her of it, just yesterday? Hadn’t he hinted at what might be?
Vincent shuddered. Oh yes, he had hinted, and Catherine had known. He had felt her response through the Bond, had known of her readiness to comply to his every whim. Vincent moaned softly at the memory, delighted by what might have been, dismayed by moments lost.
Bowing his head, Vincent hid behind his mane of hair, now set aflame by the sun’s brilliance. The soft down of hair upon his forearms exposed and golden by the light of day.
If he could have seen himself, he would have glorified at his appearance. His body a rich golden hue, enhanced by the sunshine, the taut muscles softly rippling beneath his clothing, the rich tawny mane that framed his beautiful leonine features, in all, his appearance reminiscent to that of some mythological god, one with which, if he had produced wings at his side to open and soar through the sky, one would not have been surprised.
His whole being produced an air of grace of movement, and beneath all that gold and light were those stunning azure eyes. Eyes that covered the secrets within, except they were secrets no more.
Now Vincent knew, despite what he had convinced himself of to the contrary, that he did want to love Catherine, and in the way that she had always wanted him to, and for once he allowed himself to feel how badly he wanted her. How badly he wanted to join his flesh with hers.
And he needed to know, oh so much, how that would feel. For suddenly, everything became so crystal clear in his mind, and he recognised everything for what it was. He and Catherine, united by a Bond, a bond that provided the missing link for which he had searched all of his life. Somewhere to belong. Someone to belong to.
Suddenly the sound of a twig cracking underfoot had Vincent’s awareness taking over, as desire ebbed away, until again his body started to respond, hardening in readiness as the Bond announced that it was Catherine’s approach, and Vincent was perturbed at her seeing him like this.
Whatever was he going to do? Though his thoughts of the past few moments had been positive ones, suddenly he was filled with fear. His body had betrayed him without conscious thought, just by her presence alone. It happened so often these days. Almost as if her very presence sparked a response from his body which he really had no control over, a response with which he now associated with that part of his body following the tracks of his heart, way before it had registered within his mind, it told him that Catherine was close by. And she was close now. That he did know
His betraying body was all the proof that he needed, for the tell-tale bulge beneath his jeans throbbed painfully.
Rising to his knees, Vincent winced again, noticing for the first time, that he had indeed sustained some injury after all. Vincent pulled his cloak more tightly about himself, and scanned the area, listening intently to his singing heart. Catherine was so close now, he could feel her heartbeat thudding painfully alongside his own, and turning, he saw her, there she was, at last, and oh! her beauty! Vincent gasped. With the sunlight in her hair, and the daylight turning her skin to ivory, Vincent had never seen such a vision of loveliness. and he was overwhelmed by the joy that flooded her entire being, as she ran the last few yards to where he was, flinging herself into his arms, and sobbing as though she might never stop.
“I’m here. Its all right. Everything is all right. Hush now.” Vincent rocked her, delighting in the scent of her, thrilling at holding her so tightly in his arms.
“Are you all right?” Catherine asked at last, pulling back a little, without releasing her hold on him, to scan his face.
“Yes, just a little bewildered.”
“There was a storm.” Catherine ventured.
“And the horses bolted.”
“And then, the wind...Oh Vincent!”
“There was nothing I could do Catherine. It just sucked me away. At first, I thought I might die.”
“That was my fear too. Oh Vincent, I have been so afraid. What was it like?”
“The tornado?”
“Yes. I couldn’t feel you, when I tried there was nothing but a swirling sensation, every time.”
“It was the most incredible experience of my life. Yes, I was terrified, but there were moments of utter exhilaration, at one point, I found myself upon my back just spinning, round and round, I could see clear up to a star filled sky, I was in a vortex, and I could feel dense matter all around me, it felt heavy, but inside it was light, so light that I could float. Near the centre for split seconds I was suspended in nothingness. I will never forget the experience ever.”
“That you lived to tell it is a miracle in itself.”
“Yes I know. I’ve wondered about that Catherine. I truly believed I survived it because you and I are connected, almost as if, you, were my anchor, keeping me alive.”
Catherine didn’t know what to say for a moment. She knew Vincent, if he truly believed that were so, then nothing she could say would convince him otherwise, besides in many respects she understood what he meant. Alone, they were only half a person, together they were as one. Apart, nothing could happen to either one of them, without it affecting the other the same way. If she lived, he lived, if she died, he died. It was as simple as that.
“Are you hurt Vincent” Catherine asked, as the thought hit her, surely he couldn’t have escaped totally unscathed.
“Yes. Until I reached the centre, my body twisted almost as if it were being wrung out by giant hands, and my back hurts, but I don’t believe anything is broken, just strained. But what about you, where are you injured?” Vincent had felt her wince, as a sharp pain caught her side.
“Its nothing, just bruises I think. Though Devin has badly sprained his ankle.”
Vincent nodded, of course, he’d seen him, “Where is he?”
“Back at the house. He couldn’t have walked this far.”
“Catherine, there’s something else isn’t there? Some other people are here. That man...”
“The man that tried to kill me, I haven’t seen him since the wind took him, have you?”
Vincent shook his head, “I think I may have killed him. I don’t understand, why was he trying to kill you?”
“A case of mistaken identity. His wife is here, with Devin, they are in love. Her name is Katherine with a K, her husband thought I was her, when he heard you call my name, at least that’s what we think happened, anyway.”
“So Devin and his Katherine are safe, together?”
Vincent frowned, “Then who was the guy with the car?”
“That’s Glen, he works for Star Spangles, he attempted to come and warn us about the storm, but it outran him. He’s still here too.”
“So the only one missing is the woman’s husband?”
“Yes, and the horses.”
“The horses, they still haven’t been found?”
“No, but then I haven’t exactly looked for them, I was too anxious about you, oh Vincent, I am so happy that you are alive and well.”
Vincent drew her into the circle of his arms. It felt so good, just to hold her close like this, they drew comfort from one another, until the scent of her assaulted his senses. Once again, he felt the rising of his desire, and gently put her away from him, telling himself, not now, not here, as much as he wanted her.
For several moments they sat alongside one another in silence. It was so tranquil. The day so quiet, so magical. Being there together, beneath the sunshine. It was a dream come true.
“Vincent.” Catherine whispered. Vincent turned his blue eyes towards her, waiting for her to continue, “This place, its like my special place in the mountains, you know the one I wanted you to see with me?” Vincent nodded.
“And look Vincent. Just over there, can you see them?”
Vincent looked to the right of them, where about a hundred yards away a herd of deer grazed. Their soft muzzles buried in the sweet spring grass.
“Yes.” Vincent whispered, awed by the sight of them.
“Aren’t they beautiful?”
“Yes.” Vincent was mesmerised, but not only by the sight of the deer. Catherine’s happiness was washing through him, her joy at having him see everything she had dreamed of for so long, gave him such intense pleasure, and Vincent could not help adding, huskily, “but not as beautiful as you.”
Catherine turned, her gaze resting upon his, her heart hammering, as she drank in the beauty of being there with him.
Of sharing everything with him.
Like this.
Here with Vincent, in the sunshine, and remembering his promise of yesterday. Suddenly everything came back with lightening force, the way his words had made her feel, the need for him, it over-rode everything else, shut out every sound, every sight, everything, but for him.
As her breathing became laboured, Vincent felt it, and he wanted her so badly. His desire grew, knew no boundaries, her luscious inviting lips just inches from his own. For split seconds he fought it, yet he knew that the need of her own body matched the need of his, and with a strangled groan surrendered himself willingly. His breath shuddered through his length, and erupted in one long sigh of resignation, as he closed the gap between them, taking her sweet lips beneath his.
Catherine’s own exquisite sigh fanned his cheeks, and Vincent was encouraged to move his lips against hers. Together they kissed, at first with tender exploration, and then with a growing passion that neither could end.
Within her mind, Catherine saw fireworks explode. Flashing vibrant colours of star-burst. This was no ordinary kiss. Vincent’s delicious mouth devoured her, and Catherine leaned into his kiss, wanting only to drown in him.
Never had a kiss aroused her so. His mouth warm and unusually sensuous thrilled her to the core, and Catherine moaned softly, as she explored his upper cleft with the tip of her tongue, delighted when a gasp of pleasure erupted from his mouth against hers. She felt him shudder with longing, pulling her closer still, moulding his hardness against her.
Through their clothing she became aware of the hard, pulsating, length of him, and moaned softly, thrilled that he was at last letting her know how she had aroused him.
And slowly, with great care not to frighten him, Catherine dared her hands to explore, tugged gently at his clothing, yearning to feel the touch of skin against skin. She felt Vincent hesitate. “Please.” She whimpered, beneath his lips, and he relaxed. There was no going back now.
Catherine offered no resistance when his own large hands copied the movements of her own, searching for her, in fact she guided him, sighing with ecstasy as he placed the palm of his hand over the warmth of her breast. Vincent groaned, his breath coming in short sharp gasps, his mouth drawn to leaving the fullness of her lips, to travel down to the hollow of her throat, to lick and place demanding kisses on the pulse he found beating erratically, there. Until pushing her gently backwards, Vincent carefully laid her upon the soft grass, uncurling her legs from under her, placing his own body alongside in one swift synchronised movement.
Suddenly, Catherine’s hands were everywhere, and momentarily, Vincent hesitated, fearful of her rejection, but as her hands at last found their busy way beneath his layers of clothing and reached her objective, her gasp of delight urged him onwards in his exploration of her own body.
Though the night had long gone, all either of them could see, were glorious, shining stars focused firmly in their minds.
“I love you Vincent.” the words erupted from Catherine, rich with emotion, and Vincent sobbed with happiness, his own words lost to the moment, his own body yearning towards hers, the heat drenched passion filling him to his core.
Against her thigh she felt him, hard and hot, and wanted to release him desperately. To feel the silky length of him throbbing with life in her hands.
“I need you.” Catherine whimpered, as his hungry mouth sought her breast, “I need you now.” Catherine writhed beneath him, “Its been so long, Vincent please.”
“I have waited longer, my Catherine. All of my life in fact.”
“Then wait no longer. Vincent, I need you...” Catherine sobbed, her eyes hooded, “Now...please.”
“Catherine I want nothing more, but I don’t think I back...” He shook his head with pained regret.
Instantly contrite, Catherine struggled to sit up, “Oh Vincent, I’m sorry, I forgot about that. I could massage it for you.”
With a wry grin, Vincent shook his head, his blue eyes blazing with love, humour and desire, “I think I might need a little more than massage my Catherine, however, while my back is out of action, my hands and lips are not.” and just to demonstrate Vincent’s lips sought out her nipple, and sucked her gently there. Instantly, Catherine’s body bucked, as a spasm hit her with full force, and an orgasm ripped through her body, leaving Vincent momentarily stunned, as her body continued to twitch violently. He felt drained as her emotions subsided, taking him down with her.
“What did I do?” he whispered, his eyes dark pools of passion.
“You touched me.” Catherine croaked, highlighting with her hand, “Here, you touched me here.” she placed her fingers upon her nipple.
“I felt it.” Vincent was stunned, one touch was all it had taken, one touch of his hungry mouth to send her spinning.
Catherine looked at him with a bemused expression, her need quenched for the moment, telling him, “Here, let me show you how it feels.” and before he could refuse, Catherine lay him gently down upon the grass, and her busy little fingers were winding their hungry way through the fur of his chest, pulling aside clothing, until she reached her objective, located beneath a bed of tawny hair.
As Catherine flicked her fingertips across his nipple, Vincent squirmed as a flare of desire triggered his brain to send a jolt of electricity down to his groin, and when Catherine’s tongue followed the path her fingers had trod, he could no longer contain himself. A sensuous groan erupted from his mouth, as head thrown back, a mighty roar filled the air, as by the touch of her teasing lips, Catherine brought Vincent too, to orgasm.
“See?” Catherine cocked her head to one side, her eyes bright with love and humour, “That’s what you did to me too.” her gaze resting upon the wet patch quickly spreading across the front of his jeans. “You’d best remove them if you don’t want them to get any wetter.” she nodded, indicating her intent.
Vincent blushed. “Remove them?” He gulped.
“That’s what I said”, Catherine teased lightly, her hands continuing their exploration of his chest. The feel of silken fur against her finger tips was a delight all by itself.
To Vincent the feel of them there was making his head spin, as suddenly from out of nowhere, Catherine was driven by a need so wild that she could no longer contain herself.
The fierceness of her love stunned Vincent. ‘Where had that come from?’ One moment she was lazily teasing him, the next this rush of wild abandonment had seized her. Suddenly, every part of him exposed to her became a path to travel, to explore with her mouth and fingers, and Vincent was somewhat amazed and amused to hear a slight growl escape from Catherine’s throat. He chuckled, as somewhere at the back of his mind he heard himself whisper, ‘what have I unleashed?’
Catherine laughed at his reaction to her vocal expression to love him, “See what you do to me. Oh Vincent, I love you so much. I wish we could continue...” She stopped, looking down at him, as a sudden idea sprang to mind, “ I can make love to you!” her eyes begged him, “Please, you don’t have to do anything, just lie there, it won’t hurt your back, I’ll do all the work, please.”
Vincent couldn’t help himself, but suddenly he burst into nervous laughter, shaking his head from side to side, “holding her at arms length, “No my Catherine, I couldn’t let you do that. When we do this I want to be an active party to it, I have thought about it for far too long to not be involved in it now.” he added softly, a shy smile touching his mouth, and a slight blush infusing his cheeks.
Catherine’s eyes opened wide, and her face broke out into a joyous smile, “You have?” she was really surprised, “You have thought about this, about us, you and me together, making love?”
Vincent nodded, his chest heaving, as a fresh wave of desire flooded his senses, “Yes my Catherine, always I have dreamed, of this...”
“Oh Vincent!” Catherine flung herself down upon him, “ I can’t believe it. I mean I never gave up hoping, but to know that you had dreamed of us this way...” Her breath came in short sharp gasps, “Oh Vincent, what torture you must have put yourself through.”
“It hasn’t been easy.” he affirmed, the smile crinkling the corners of his eyes.
“And you won’t back down, change your mind, please don’t Vincent, I couldn’t bear it.”
“I won’t change my mind, my Catherine, I promise, but while my injured back has forced a halt to my loving you completely, perhaps we could use the time of my healing to organise our marriage.” he said the last in a hushed whisper, half of him wanting to say the words, the other half not knowing if he should.
Catherine stared at him, her green eyes dancing lights of joy, she held her breath, had he really just said that? “Are you asking me to...” her words trailed away, oh if only, she thought to herself, as he was nodding, “Yes, Catherine, if you truly believe you could live Below in my world, and if we are to be lovers...” oh, the way he said it, it made her skin tingle, “then I would be honoured if you would become my wife.”
Catherine flung herself at him once again, hugging him tighter and tighter, making him wince with pain, but in a strange way he found it welcoming, “Oh Vincent, yes, yes, I will, I will, oh thank you for asking me, thank you. I love you so much Vincent. To spend the rest of my life with you, is all I have ever dreamed. We’ll be so happy, Vincent, I just know we will.”
Vincent buried his face into her hair, drinking in the scent of her, he couldn’t believe he had asked, and he couldn’t believe she had accepted, his mind was in a whirl. Catherine was truly going to be his. His heart hammered with joy, “Yes, “ he told her, “I believe we shall. You know Catherine, when we came here, and Devin told me that this weekend, all my nightmares and dreams would be as one, I couldn’t understand, and not for one moment did I know, how could I have known, that either of them, the nightmare and the dream would have been covered so thoroughly. For this weekend has been my worst nightmare, yet in some glorified way, it has resulted in all my dreams coming true. I’m so happy that we came here Catherine, so glad that you arranged all this for me.”
“You knew didn’t you?” Catherine enquired, cocking her head to one side.
“Knew?” Vincent asked innocently.
“What I had planned for you, in bringing you here?”
Vincent grinned, “It was Father that knew.”
“Father!” Catherine exclaimed.
“As I remember it, he said, that he felt you had plans to seduce me.” Vincent laughed as Catherine blushed, not from Vincent knowing, but from Father guessing it. Vincent continued, “And Devin hinted as much. In fact it was Devin who made me face my fears and overcome them.”
“It was Devin’s whole idea to come here. We have a lot to thank him for.” Catherine told him sincerely. “Its just such a shame that everything has gone ghastly wrong as far as the entertainment was concerned.” Catherine felt really sad about that. The star spangled nightmare idea had really become a nightmare she would rather have lived without.
“Oh I wouldn’t say that.” Vincent told her huskily, trailing the tip of his claws up and down her arm, giving her goose-bumps. Catherine shuddered, his eyes were such an intense shade of blue, she felt mesmerised by them, felt herself drowning in them, and only vaguely heard him whisper, as he brought his lips back down to hers, “we can compensate, by making our own entertainment my Catherine,” before she surrendered herself willingly to that conception, and let herself drown in his arms.

*** *** ***

Catherine had never seen the crystal cavern, and so it was a delight to be there at long last, alongside her handsome husband, who had chosen that this special trip to the place from where he had taken her crystal pendant, should become part of their honeymoon package.
Straightening up after her long journey through a perilous crawl-way, Catherine dusted herself down, thrilled when Vincent’s large hands took over from her own, smoothing the dust and grit away from her luscious curves, and making her breathing accelerate to the beat of her heart. Vincent’s eyes, dark pools of desire caught and held her own, and not for the first time that day, did Catherine feel herself melting at the delicious thought that they were at last, as one. Their marriage, not two days since, had been so beautiful, and Catherine had not yet come back down to earth. Still she floated dizzily somewhere up there with the star-burst, and had to keep pinching herself to test that all was real.
When Vincent was satisfied that all the dust and grime was gone from her clothing, still he continued the lazy exploration of her body, sending jolts of hot desire through Catherine’s body. She exhaled deeply, wanting him desperately, her limbs as molten fire, and had it not been for his steely grip steadying her, she would have surely fallen. Her legs seemed incapable of bearing her weight.
Looking up just briefly, Vincent became aware of their surroundings, though Catherine surmised he had known how close they were. He’d made this journey many times before, and that he had chosen this special place to consummate their marriage, came as no surprise to Catherine. It would be perfect. The memories as precious as the gemstones themselves.
Taking her elbow gently, Vincent reluctantly drew his gaze away from Catherine and all that she offered, and with deliberation put one foot in front of the other, with conscious effort, as his own legs became immobile. He had thought of little else on the journey down here, following behind Catherine, drinking in the sight of her, knowing as husband and wife that every thing was acceptable, and yearning for the moment when they would reach the crystal cavern and turn all their dreams into reality.
Yet now that they were so close, Vincent found his legs as lead, taking considerable effort to walk forwards, not through fear anymore, but through some kind of craving that made him want to hold back the moment. Catherine understood, yet her needs were more intense. It had been a long time, and she had waited for Vincent, knowing without a doubt that it would happen between them one day, and prepared to wait rather than satisfy her needs with someone else along the way. She loved Vincent more than life, and that they were now husband and wife, she found almost impossible to comprehend, and suddenly found the irresistible need to sit down and run through the past years leading up to this moment and Catherine held on to Vincent’s arm, “Wait”, she told him, as he made to duck beneath the final outcrop of rock leading to the cavern. Already Catherine could see the brilliant dancing light’s from the facets bouncing off the damp rock just ahead.
“What is it, my Catherine?” Vincent drew back, coming to stand beside her, a few fears chasing through his mind, “Have you doubts?” He wouldn’t have been surprised if she had. He still had grave misgivings about the union, even though she had insisted on more than one occasion that he was her life.
“Never!” Catherine replied, stunning him with the sharpness of her reply, it held emotions with which all doubts in his mind were chased away. “I love you Vincent, I belong to you now, I would never change my mind on anything I have promised you.” Catherine slipped herself into his arms, hugging him, drinking in the scent of him, letting him fill her entire being, oh, how she loved him.
Vincent prompted, “Then what is it?”
“Can we sit here a few moments.” Catherine asked, almost shyly.
Vincent nodded, sliding himself down a rocky wall, and offering her his hand to follow him down to nestle between his long legs. He drew her closer as she sat down, gathering her close against him, burying his face into her hair, filling his lungs with the scent of her.
“I love you Vincent,” Catherine reiterated.
Vincent remained silent, a soft shiver passed over him, he became wary.
“Its nothing Vincent. Don’t be afraid,” Catherine noticed his fears, “I just want to talk. I don’t know why, but somehow it seems awfully important that we seal our past before embarking upon the future. Can we just talk about how we met, through all the days we have shared since, up to the present, that’s all?”
A warm glow rippled through Vincent, “Yes.” he replied, relieved. “I probably have thanked you Vincent, for saving my life that night, but Vincent, there is more to it than that. You not only saved me, but you changed me, brought out from me all the good that was lurking somewhere, but which my world had suffocated long ago. I think perhaps I lost those qualities when my mother died. The happy life that she wished for me would never have come to be Vincent, without the revival of those qualities. I would never have found them but for you, and so happiness would have remained elusive to me, for ever.”
Vincent swallowed hard, tears be-dimming his eyes, yet he remained silent, sensing that though she said they would talk, she would in fact, do all the talking, and he the listening. He felt the need in her to empty herself in this way, an almost cleansing, healing need to rid herself of the toxins of the world above for all time.
“When I left you that day at the threshold, when I asked, Vincent what can I say to you, there was only one thing I wanted to say to you, as silly as it may have sounded at that time. Looking back I would have spared myself a lot of heartache, if only I had listened to my heart at that moment.
Vincent I have never told you this, perhaps because through all the years we were together I never felt it again, till now. Now I recognise the emotion as it was then, because now I can feel it again.”
Catherine was silent for a few moments, awaiting a response, but there was none. She twisted in his lap, so she could see his eyes, just to make sure he hadn’t fallen asleep, as if he could!
Catherine smiled, noticing his eyes, startling blue and penetrating, almost as if he had known the exact content of her words before they were spoken. Catherine was drawn to his lips, and a shudder passed through her. She might be able to contain herself from loving him, but kissing him was one of the joys she had come to know well these past few weeks, and could not stop herself from taking advantage of that now. Placing her lips to his, Catherine was jubilant at the feel of his instant response, a shudder travelling through his limbs, a groan escaping his mouth, his hands, so gentle yet so strong, tightening around her drawing her to him, as if her kiss was the very essence of his life.
“God, I love you Vincent,” Catherine dragged herself away from his arms to search his face, her throat tightening by the love that she felt, “And I want you so much.” she shuddered, her breathing slow and deliberate, her gaze holding his. “Say something?” she teased, a smile crinkling the corners of her mouth.
Vincent drew a deep breath, and Catherine waited, expecting words, thrilling when he expelled the breath in a long ragged sigh, wriggling his body harder against her, and thrilling her with his obvious arousal. Actions, on this occasion, definitely spoke louder than words. Catherine giggled, watching as his eyes smouldered, and he swallowed with difficulty, a smile touching his mouth, yet unable to give voice to words. The effect she had upon him had rendered him speechless.
“I’m sorry my darling.” Catherine hugged him tight, “Is it that bad, we can go on if you like?”
Vincent shook his head, as words finally came, “Finish what you were saying first, my Catherine.” Catherine shivered at his endearment, the way he said it, his deep, husky voice filled with longing, set her soul aflame.
“This”, Catherine encompassed everything with her arms outstretched, “All this, everything, your family, but especially you Vincent, are mine, yet I could have spared myself and you so much, had I of told you at that time, that time at the threshold, the very first time that you took me back, that in here, Vincent,” Catherine gestured to her heart, “I could feel you, as you could feel me.”
Vincent’s eyes widened with surprise, “The Bond manifested itself within you too?” he was incredulous.
Catherine nodded, “I didn’t know then what it was, I felt strange, almost mystical, alongside my own heart there was the racing of another. When I put my arms around you, it accelerated. I knew then how I felt against you, I didn’t understand it, couldn’t grasp a name for it, but when you came to me eight months later, it had gone, and I couldn’t retrieve it until the day you asked me to marry you. Why was that Vincent do you know?”
Vincent looked down, unable to meet her steady gaze, but Catherine would have none of it. Dipping her head, she locked onto his gaze from a lower position, “Vincent?” she queried.
“My fears...” Vincent began, “They blocked the connection your end. When first we met, the Bond was new to the both of us. You could not grasp its significance, especially after the anaesthetic you underwent to heal your face, but me, I understood, and learned to trust in and accept our connection, though I fought it constantly, believing that you should not be tied to me in any way at all, and especially know how I felt about you.”
Catherine nodded, “I thought as much. Since the feeling has returned, I’ve analysed the reasons for its loss, and that is what I came up with. Yet now, it is back, I feel everything Vincent, your doubts, your love, your passion, Vincent...”Catherine hesitated, but Vincent waited patiently for her to continue, though he longed to ask why. “Vincent”, she began again, “When we make love...” Vincent drew in a sharp breath, his body responding instantly, and Catherine hesitated, licking her suddenly dry lips, she had to say this, had to know, “It affects the mind Vincent. Not only the body, but the mind too. Its unbelievable Vincent, you almost feel as though you are flying off to some distant land as high as the stars themselves...” Catherine hesitated again, somewhat embarrassed, it wasn’t her intention to elaborate on her past experiences, rather to help him understand how the joining of their bodies could be mind exploding.
“If via the Bond Vincent, you can feel all my emotions and I can feel yours, would we not damage one another’s minds?”
Vincent had not thought of this aspect before. In all the time he had desired her, he had been most afraid that either his physical size or his other self would injure her, never their connection.
Yet suddenly, as Catherine brought her fears out into the open, so too came the solution, “No!” Catherine exclaimed joyfully, “We wouldn’t, would we?” she turned happy eyes to his, “When I feel you here,” she pointed to her heart, “And when you feel me, one over-rides the other. That is, either I know myself as the strongest and you quietly beside me, or depending on the higher emotion, I feel you stronger than me. So it doesn’t matter, one will drown out the other.” Catherine hugged him happily, but Vincent wasn’t so sure.
He swallowed, the unaccustomed words of this conversation sticking in his throat, “When we....make love...Catherine,” he breathed deeply, his body going between spasms of arousal throughout the conversation, “Perhaps both our minds will be highly stimulated, perhaps it would be as you feared after all.”
Catherine nodded, slowly, “Perhaps, or perhaps we can learn to close off our connection in that way until we have established the act, and learn together how to control its intensity?”
Vincent laughed out loud, “Catherine.” He whispered, tracing his clawed fingertips up and down her naked arm, “Come my love, my bride, it is time, I think, to put this theory to the test.” Vincent scrambled to his feet, pulling her up behind him, “If you are ready?” he gazed down at her, Catherine nodded, not a doubt left in her mind, taking the hand he offered, and squeezing it tightly, “Yes husband, lead the way.” She told him tenderly, picking up the pace as he ducked beneath the final outcrop of tunnel leading into the crystal cavern.

*** *** ***

Kitty looked all around her, seeing everything as if for the first time, “I never believed I would ever return here.” She told the man at her side, who still clutched the suitcases, one in either hand as he had collected them out of the truck.
Kitty reached for one, “Here let me help you darling, I’ll take these inside, and make us a cup of coffee.”
Her husband’s eyes twinkled, “Forget the coffee, Kitty, my thirst is for other things.”
Kitty’s gay, tinkling laughter echoed through the mountains, “Oh Devin, really, is that all you ever think about?”
“As it happens....” he laughed loudly, dropping the cases, to sweep his wife up into his arms, “I love you Kitty Wells,” He cried out loud, “and I shall never tire of making love to you.” He cried equally as loud, so that his voice echoed all around.
Kitty laughed some more, “Well you had better get used to the consequences then hadn’t you?” she teased, waiting for his eyes to take on recognition, which happened slowly, as her words made sense. “Kitty!” he cried, swinging her around, “What already! We’ve only been married three months.”
“It only takes a second Devin. And there have been an awful lot of seconds since we married that we have participated in loving, you know.”
“ I know, I was there, and I loved every second of it.” Devin remarked, “But a child, well I guess it never crossed my mind.” he shook his head with disbelief, “Why didn’t you tell me before?”
“I wanted to wait, wait until we reached home before telling you, somehow it seemed appropriate. Are you happy Devin?”
“Happy! Its marvellous. Oh Kitty, I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. Does any one else know?”
Kitty’s face clouded over, “Yes.” she admitted, “I wanted you to be the first to know, but your father noticed I was being sick in the mornings, it was he that suspected and it was he that confirmed it.”
“My father!” To say Devin was surprised was an understatement.
Kitty nodded, “Don’t be a goldfish Devin,” she laughed as his mouth that had dropped open stayed so, “Aren’t you going to carry me over the threshold?” she teased him, “That’s if you can still lift me.”
“That depends.” he grinned.
“On what?”
“How long are you?”
“Almost to the day of our marriage darling, practically the whole two and a half months.”
“That’s heavy!” he teased, yet without further ado, he swept his wife up into his arms, and kicking open the cabin door carried her straight inside, his words echoing behind him, “Now Mrs. Well’s are you going to let me have my wicked way with you or not?” Followed by a great gwarf of laughter as Kitty replied, “Its already way to late for that, my darling.”

*** *** ***

Back, deep beneath the catacombs, Vincent led his wife through the last few feet of tunnel into the crystal cavern, halting her briefly as she made to step inside, “This is my very special place in my world, my love,” he told her, “but it has always been my dream to make it ours. Here, my Catherine, here, we shall be as one.”
Catherine shuddered, tearing her gaze from the sapphires of his eyes, to the crystals sparkling beyond him. They paled in comparison, yet nonetheless, their dazzling beauty stunned her.
Smoky quartz, rose quartz and amethyst, jade and calcite, interspersed with a trickling of copper and of course the most spectacular of all, as far as either of them were concerned was the clear quartz from where Vincent had taken Catherine’s crystal.
“Its beautiful.” Catherine gasped turning around and around, trying to take in all the dancing facets at once, an intermingling panorama of light and dazzling rainbows. “How?” she asked, touching the crystal from around her neck, “how did you know from where to take it. They are all equally as brilliant. I could not have chosen one above the rest.”
Vincent came to stand behind her, his arms enveloping her, drawing her against him, she could feel his boundless joy via their connection, his quiet conviction that he had chosen the best for a reason. Touching her crystal he explained, “ Clear quartz, otherwise known as the all singing, dancing crystal. Its qualities being good for the brain, good for the soul. It seemed appropriate at the time. You were only just learning to be once again the person that your mother put her faith in, and you needed guidance. This crystal is a very powerful dispeller of negativity in your own energy field. It receives, activates, contains, amplifies and transmits energy. Its a good thought provoker and a friend in meditation, inspiring communication with the higher self. In all, as used as a tool in therapy this crystal was perfect for you, being an excellent channeller of healing.”
Catherine gasped, “And there I was thinking it was just a pretty stone. Vincent! You chose it for all those reasons?”
Vincent grinned, Yes. After Father impressed me with the various qualities of gemstones, and even before Mouse had shaped and polished it, I knew that something must have drawn me to select it out of all these others, for look how it has fulfilled its properties in you.”
Catherine smiled, reaching up on tip-toes to kiss Vincent’s lips, long and slowly, making his heart pound, and bringing back to him the reason for their visit to this magical place. His eyes were such an intense shade of blue that Catherine shuddered with her own longing. “Lapis Lazuli”, she whispered, thinking out loud.
Vincent cocked his head to one side in question.
“Your eyes. The colour of them, that’s what they remind me of. I’ve thought of it before and looked it up in a gemstone book. Yes, your eyes, are like lapis lazuli, for definite.”
“And yours are emeralds.” Vincent whispered, smiling wryly.
Catherine slapped him playfully, “No seriously Vincent, I mean it.”
“So do I, my Catherine.”
Catherine shivered, she loved it when he said that, but refused for the moment to give in to the emotions running riot through her veins. His nearness, his scent, their reason for being there, almost her undoing, she just had to tell him first, “Lapis lazuli,” she repeated, taking a deep breath before continuing, “ the beautiful star flecked blue of the night stone.” she mused, “Appropriate huh? Its good for the nocturnal. It strengthens the thyroids and skeletal system bringing vitality and general relaxation to the mind and body. Its a powerful augmenter of physic abilities and communicator with the higher self. Inspiring greater creative expression and illumination.” Catherine gasped, “Vincent that’s perfect. Everything fits you perfectly. Its said that the eyes are the window to the soul. In you, how so!”
Vincent felt overwhelmed, for long moments unable to reply, until slowly looking into her eyes, he made his own assessment. “If your crystal was the perfect choice for us, and my eyes the perfect choice for me, none other than the colour of your own eyes are perfection for you, my Catherine. Especially in what you have given me. Emerald, the unconditional love stone.”
Catherine nodded, her eyes bright in eager expectation, as Vincent continued, “A stone of great power, produces deep spiritual insight, inspires love, prosperity, kindness, tranquilly, balance, patience and the power to heal, introducing the higher self to the divinity within. Catherine...” Vincent whispered, “With your love and power you healed me, your eyes healed me, in them I am lost, all things forgotten, Catherine I am lost in you.” his voice husky and quivering with an emotion unknown, Vincent allowed the raw longing to encompass them, to sweep over them, drawing her into his arms, taking her lips beneath his, he devoured her, his kiss like no other, all boundaries gone now, and gently lifted and carried her over to a part of the cavern he had previously made ready for them, without his delicious mouth ever leaving her own.

*** *** ***

Chapter Nine

Devin stretched and yawned, rolling over to look into Kitty’s serene features. He loved her so much. He could not believe that they were married, were expecting their first child and his hand strayed to just beneath her heart, knowing his child lay there. Its tender heart beating, its trust placed into the hands of those who had created it. How could anyone abort a child, Devin mused, how could anyone justify the taking of another’s life, especially when that life craved to be born, went through so much stay alive, how could anyone deny another the right to live? Especially one, who, as unborn, had no voice in the matter.
Devin thought of his own life. It hadn’t been a happy one, and for many years he had wished for the oblivion of death, on many occasions wishing he had died with his mother, yet laid beside Kitty with his child growing beneath her heart, everything he had ever suffered paled away, nothing mattered anymore, except what he had now. Listening to his sleeping wife’s steady breathing, Devin was transported back to that night just a few months hence, and the days through which all he had now had been made possible.
They’d gone to the estate, he and Catherine and Vincent, gone there to help his brother overcome his fears against a deeper relationship with the woman he loved. They’d had such plans.
Hiring night mares to ride through the night on, to enjoy the excitement of speed of galloping through the estate beneath the brightness of a full moon, the specially prepared harness twinkling around each of them, an amplitude of glorious star-burst. And up until the moment when things started to go wrong, the idea had been the right one. Vincent had been geared into the right frame of mind, Devin could see that, and he was happy for them, even if their happiness did mar his own, his longing to be with the one that he loved.
And then miraculously, she was there. Kitty had come to him, to him! Leaving her wicked husband and fleeing straight to his arms, yet at those same dizzying moments her husband had also entered the grounds, believing Vincent’s Catherine to be his Katherine, and trying to kill her. Then the twister had swept in, chasing the storm which had ruined their weekend, and had taken Vincent up inside its spiralling whirlwind, and Kitty’s husband too.
Vincent, he knew had virtually escaped unharmed, save for a sprain to his back, which had taken a whole two months of bed-rest to heal, Devin giggled, huh bed-rest! Its a wonder he got any at all, Catherine stayed with him the whole time, refusing to leave his side or his bed, much to Father’s chagrin, and Vincent’s discomfort. Devin smiled to himself, Vincent’s power of resistance was incredible, but then his back injury did have a lot to do with that. No wonder, the poor guy had insisted that they got married as soon as he was better.
Devin chuckled, even so, Vincent still insisted after the wedding that they wait until he had taken Catherine to his special place, employing Devin’s help to take a mattress and blankets down there and all the provisions they would need for a honeymoon week in the crystal cavern.
Devin smiled wondering if they had arrived yet. Wondering if all Vincent’s dreams had yet been realised. Both he and Vincent had parted on the same day. Vincent and Catherine to the crystal cavern, he and Kitty to the mountains. He didn’t think he would ever prise Kitty away. Having entrusted her with Vincent’s secret, back at the estate, Devin wondered why he had ever worried about telling her. She took to Vincent like a duck to water, and Devin knew that she would tell nobody, ever. Too much rested on Vincent’s secret life, Kitty knew that, too many people relied on his brother for protection, Kitty knew that too. She would never betray him, and she had grown to love his beautiful brother, as did everyone that knew him.
Kitty stirred, opening her eyes, she smiled as her stomach rumbled, “I can see now why you are always hungry these days.” Devin laughed, “And you shouldn’t be drinking coffee you know.” as he remembered her offer on their arrival to make them some.
“I know, I guess it’ll have to go, besides, it does make me feel a bit cranky these days. Shall I make you some. How long have you been awake?”
“No to the first, and not long to the second. I was thinking about the weekend at the estate. You’ve never spoken about it Kitty, not really, would you like to do?”
Kitty hesitated, “I’d rather forget, yet in many respects it was the beginnings to my better life.”
Devin nodded, placing his arm around her shoulders, helping her to sit up, “Yes, but James body came as a great shock, I don’t think you ever really accepted that. You were the one to find him after all.”
Kitty stared wide eyed into space for long moments, her thoughts inward, remembering.
Devin let her be, waiting until she came back to him. She needed to face it, the horrors haunted her, as night after night she would awake screaming. Devin knew such nightmares were not good for the baby, Kitty knew it too. Devin was right, she had to face it, put it behind her and get on with her life. With all of their lives.
Slowly, she opened her mind, and allowed herself to go back.
Back to the nightmare.

*** *** ***

That dreadful night back at the estate, after everything had started to go wrong, Devin had grown increasingly concerned by Catherine’s long absence, and had been reluctant to involve Glen, despite Kitty’s assurances that the man could be of help, when looking out across the wind torn estate, he had spotted her coming back towards the house, and hobbled to meet her at the door.
Her eyes told him all he needed to know, as he opened the door, her smile lighting her face, “He’s all right Devin.” She had told him happily, “Vincent ‘s alive.”
“He’s not injured?” Devin had exclaimed, as Kitty listening behind came alongside him.
“Only his back, but then a strain I think. The whirlwind twisted him, obviously it may take some time to correct itself, but he is in good spirits.” she smiled deeply then, adding with emphasis, “Very good spirits.”
Devin cocked an eyebrow, and Catherine laughed some more, “he’s just asked me to marry him.”
“Way to go, Vincent!” Devin exclaimed, and drew Catherine forward into a mighty bear hug, “I’m so happy for you Cath. I take it you accepted?”
“And then some.” she grinned.
“Is Vincent your brother?” Kitty asked, somewhat timidly, she had heard bits over the past few hours, and tried to piece it together, although it appeared some mystery surrounded the man.
Devin nodded, “Well we aren’t blood related, but we grew up as brothers.”
“Aren’t you going to introduce me to him?”
Devin and Catherine cast looks across to one another, Kitty noticed, “What? What is it? What have I said?” she asked each of them in turn, her eyes anxious.
“Vincent is not like other men.” Devin spoke quietly, making Kitty afraid.
“How so?” She whispered.
Catherine shot Devin a startled look, surprised when Devin drew Kitty into his side, and told her, “Catherine, meet the next Mrs. Well’s to be. Race you to the alter, Cathy.”
Catherine smiled nervously, still unsure, “That doesn’t give you the right to tell her.” She whispered, wishing she hadn’t, not in front of Kitty anyway.
“I trust her Cath.”
“What is this?” Kitty laughed somewhat shakily, “Am I to be sworn in or something?”
Devin tried a laugh, it didn’t quite come off, he had always hated having to keep this secret from his friends, yet it was not his to tell. His brother’s life depended on it being kept safe.
“I’ll speak to Vincent.” Catherine told them, “Only he has the right to say whether we can tell Kitty or not.”
“In the normal scenario Cath, Kitty would need sanctuary Below, from James, if we had of been in the city rather than the country, she would have gone Below, and met Vincent anyway.”
“I’ll see what Vincent says.” Catherine reiterated, as Kitty continued to look from one to the other. Below? Sanctuary? Whatever were they talking about?

While Catherine had gone, Kitty bombarded Devin with questions, but he had been unrelenting, keeping his position at the window, awaiting Catherine’s return. Kitty had grown annoyed and restless, “I don’t get it. Maybe I don’t want to know anymore. I’m through with your secrets, and your myths. I’m going to look for the horses.”
She pulled on her jacket, and Devin made to halt her, “Wait Kitty. James might be out there someplace.”
Kitty shrugged, “Better the devil you know.” she told him, wrenching open the door, and leaving him calling after her. Damn foot! he fumed, there was nothing he could do but stand and watch her go.

Once outside Kitty’s courage quickly failed her. James really was a formidable creature, probably whatever problem Devin’s brother had, was no comparison against her husband, she mused wryly, and she carefully picked her way over the guttering thrown to the ground by the twister, crossing over to the huge gaping holes where the day before majestic oaks had stood, the deep, dark holes like some monsters mouth, seeming to laugh at her from aeons ago.
Glen had gone out earlier, once finding that the mares had not been found, he had been angry that no-one had told him, and had volunteered at first light to search for them. Kitty hoped that whomever she met first it was either Catherine, or Glen or even this Vincent, but never James. Never James.

Treading softly through the storm clustered debris, Kitty tried to keep her wits about her, listening intently as she walked, her senses fraught with tension. If this Vincent could survive the twister maybe James had. And James had tried to kill Catherine, purely a case of mistaken identity, but what if he had succeeded? To have that on her conscience, Kitty didn’t think she could have borne it.
Yet in some small way, a tiny voice told her, at least then I’d be free. James would believe he had killed me, I wouldn’t have to worry about him ever again. I’d move away, go to the city, to another country, anywhere, change my identity, James would never have to know, and if by some remote chance he did find out, then by that time she’d have been far away.
So deep in thought was she that Kitty didn’t hear at first a snap of a twig to her left, and it wasn’t until she saw something move out of the corner of one eye, that she froze on the spot, looking up sharply. What was left of the shrubbery, still afforded shadows within, and whatever was in there was in the dark. “Whose there?” Kitty whispered, “James is that you?”
There was no reply.
Undecided, Kitty didn’t know whether to run or stay put, as sweat broke out on her brow, and her limbs started to tremble. Suddenly, her heart stopped as a sharp movement from within the shrubbery, broke through and Kitty sighed with pure relief as a horse’s head appeared, nickering softly.
Closing her eyes, Kitty took a deep breath, and let it out slowly, “Thank Goodness.” she sighed, reaching out for the mare’s bridle, “Hello you. Are you by yourself?”
The mare answered by blowing into Kitty’s hair, rubbing its forehead against her arm. “You’d best come with me. On second thoughts...”
Kitty eyed the saddle with longing, “From up there I’d have a better advantage. Come, let me ride you, its a big place, and you have more legs than me.”
The mare stood patiently while Kitty mounted, adjusting the stirrups with some amusement, “Whoever was riding you before, sure had long legs,” she told the mare, “It couldn’t be Catherine, and I’m sure Devin’s aren’t that long, that only leaves this mysterious Vincent.” Unwittingly Kitty shuddered, and she chided herself for her foolishness, “Behave girl, whatever you’ve heard, whatever the secret, the guy can’t be so unusual, even if he is taller than most.” She clicked her tongue, “Come on girl, let’s stop the fantasising, and see what we can find.”

Riding through the extensive grounds, Kitty found herself more and more troubled by the disarray around her. It would take a fortune to get the place to rights again. And it would be an even longer time before it was ever as secluded again. Most of the trees had gone, and those that weren’t were leaning almost at ninety degrees, a danger to both man and beast.
Of the deer there was nothing to be seen, no doubt in the heat of day they were sheltering beneath whatever shade was left standing, but it was the other two horses that Kitty was concerned with, no matter how she scanned the area, there was no sign of movement, not anywhere.

Keeping the mare to a steady pace, Kitty used the mare’s hearing as a back up. Watching her twitching ears move this way and that, Kitty was glad of the animal’s company. When a sudden whining noise sounded just around the corner, Kitty grew afraid, but the mare’s sharp hearing detected another sound, and she whinnied loudly, and was answered by another.
Jubilant, Kitty urged the mare forwards, expecting to see the other two horses around the corner, which indeed she did, but it was what lay behind them, that caught her gaze. A guttural cry ripped from her throat, and her mare surged forward in fright before Kitty could gather up the reins, and halt the fleeing horse. Still her scream persisted, agitating the mare who danced from hoof to hoof anxious to be off, one scream followed by another, over and over at the sight that met her eyes!

From somewhere to her right, the sound of running feet, the shrubbery parted and Glen came bursting through, “You’ve found them!” He exclaimed at first, seeing the three mares, two of which had stayed near the one ridden by Kitty, even though its rider did seem to have a terrible problem. He shouted “What ever’s the matter?” his next words penetrating her cries where the others had not.
Kitty was white and shaking, looking decidedly green around the gills, and she could only stare out in front of her. Glen followed her gaze with some trepidation, feeling the bile rise up in his own stomach at the sight that met his eyes.

Another pair of running feet! Two pairs in fact, one slowing and stopping, the other continuing, bursting through the shrubbery, “Kitty! Whatever is it?” Catherine ran to her side drawing breath, as she too followed the frightened woman’s shocked expression, glad at least that the screaming had stopped.
“Who is it?” Glen asked. “How many of you were there?”
“Originally just three.” Catherine answered her eyes never leaving the scene before her. It was horrid. Putrid. She wanted to be sick. She was going to be sick. Bolting back to the bushes, she bent over double, wrenching her insides out. Vincent stood at her side, fear written upon his face, he too had seen the dreadful sight.
Wiping her mouth clean with a tissue from her pocket, Catherine straightened up, and Vincent folded her into his arms. She trembled, but Catherine pulled back, searching his eyes, “I have to go back Vincent. Kitty will need someone. Can you make it back to the house alone? Devin will be there. You can hide some place in the house. The police will have to be called.”
Vincent nodded, kissing the top of her head, “Be well Catherine.” He murmured, before disappearing into the thicket.

Kitty had only been vaguely aware of Catherine’s return, as Glen was speaking, “We’ll have to get him down somehow.”
“No,” Catherine told him, “We’ll have to call the police, let them do it. That way they can see for themselves what has happened here.”
“But the guys’ all over the place!” Glen exclaimed, “I hope to God he was dead before he was shredded.” he gasped out loud instantly remorseful, “Sorry Kitty, I wasn’t thinking.”
Kitty’s mouth set into a firm hard line, “Don’t be sorry. He got exactly what he deserved, and I hope he was alive when all this happened to him. In fact I hope those wires shredded him bit by painful bit.”
“God what ever did he do to you?” Glen spoke his thoughts out loud. “Believe me, you don’t want to know.” Kitty whispered back, the tears beginning to fall.
“Come Kitty, I’ll lead you back to the house.” Catherine told her, “Glen, can you manage the other two mares. I’m happy to see they are none the worse for wear.”
Glen nodded, “Aye and give the girl a stiff drink, she needs it.” he told Catherine, gathering up two pairs of reins, “I’ll walk round to the house later and collect the other mare. Leave her tethered outside the house somewhere shady will you?”
Catherine nodded, turning the mare with Kitty astride, leaving the carnage behind.

Later after many a stiff drink all round, and the place had been buzzing with police, Kitty rested her hot brow against the coolness of the window pane, still in a state of shock. The doctor had been and offered a sedative, but Kitty would not agree to one. Star Spangles had long been and gone, offering condolences, and a free night at some other time to be arranged.

And in the weeks that had followed, try as she might, Kitty had not been able to forget. Even the loving care that Devin had introduced her to Below, and meeting his mysterious brother at last, had in no way erased the images from her mind.
Yet Vincent’s tender velvety voice had in time penetrated her reverie, much the same as it had when Catherine had first been taken by him Below, to heal. Though Kitty’s eyes were not bandaged, she was just as blind, for waking or sleeping, the same sight was laid before her, James, her husband, shredded by the wires that had prevented an aircraft landing within the estate had been whipped by the ferocity of the twister, round and round, those noises that to Catherine had sounded like a ricochet, in actual fact were the sound of the wires being pulled away from the house walls, coiling like a spring, within themselves, crushing and cutting, as the twister deposited its quarry amongst them.
It had been impossible to tell if James had been dead or alive, as each wire had cut clean through him, rendering the blood splattered grass with limbs, and parts of limbs, flesh and organs over a very wide area. Those were the sights that met Kitty every night as she slept, and every day as she awoke, always before her eyes, never able to speak of it to anyone, not even to Vincent, yet no-one but Devin could see that she held it all within, to everyone else she appeared to be recovering, had happily married Devin Below, and had been a witness to the other great wedding, the greatest the world Below had ever seen, the marriage of Catherine and Vincent.

*** *** ***

A full hour passed before Devin noticed that Kitty was coming out of it. He’d wiped her tears away as they had fallen, had hugged her tighter when her body had shook at some ghastly remembrance, and whispered soothing words when she had closed her eyes tightly, trying to blot out the sights always before her, until at last he felt her relax, and tears of healing cascaded down her cheeks.
“Thank you Devin.” Kitty, drew a deep breath, “You were right, I did need to face it. I guess what took me so long was the guilt. When I saw him like that I was glad. He couldn’t have died any better. I wished he was alive when it happened. I said as much to Glen at the time. Glen was shocked, I could tell, he knew that James must have done some pretty bad things to make me say such a thing. And he did, and yes, James deserved to die like that, but he didn’t did he?”
“No I don’t believe so. I think he was dead long before the wires cut him.” Devin told her sincerely.
“Yes, I believe so too. I’ve believed so for some time, and it was a constant battle within myself, half of me glad the Vincent had killed him, glad at least that Vincent would have scared the shit out of James when it happened, and the rest of me disappointed that he hadn’t died bit by bit within those wires. I bear the scars within and without from James, it seemed to me some kind of divine retribution that he should be cut to death, the way he had cut me, and that kinda frightened the hell out of me, thinking like that, I was so afraid that I was becoming a monster in his footsteps.”
“It was a normal reaction honey, you see that don’t you?”
Kitty turned tear filled eyes to her husband, “Now...” she nodded, “Yes, I see it now. And I can put it behind me, but there is one thing I must do Devin, or you must do for me, will you?”
“The cabin where James and I lived, dismantle it Devin will you, dismantle it and let the wilderness take it back. I never want to have to pass it and be reminded of it ever. I was a prisoner there.”
“We could move someplace else Kitty. I don’t have to live here.”
“No, this is your home, it holds special memories for you, with Charles I mean. I could never ask or expect that you would leave here for me.”
“Memories of Charles are up here, honey,” Devin patted his forehead, “I don’t need to be here to remember him.”
“Nonetheless, Charles loved it here, you told me, he at least would like to know that you are still here.”
“Okay you win. I’ll start tomorrow. Is there any thing you need from the cabin?”
“No, anything special I took with me that night, I want no reminders from the place. Just dismantle it, and cart the belongings down to the second hand store in the village, someone will no doubt, be glad of them.”
“So begins our future then?” Devin queried, holding his breath, this was the final test.
Kitty drew a deep breath, letting it out in one long ragged sigh, nodding positively, her eyes bright, “Yes, so begins our future Devin, yours, mine and our baby. The past is just that, the past, from this day on, the future is what we make it, and if I have anything to do with that my love, you can be certain of happiness all the way. I owe you so much, and I love you more.”
“I love you too Kitty.” Devin drew her into his arms, holding her tenderly, searching out her lips beneath his, his hands caressing, as Kitty laughed, “Devin Wells, don’t you ever think of anything else,” she giggled playfully.
“No,” Devin whispered huskily, “I told you before, Mrs Wells, I shall never tire of making love to you, ever.”
Kitty giggled harder, loving her husband with her life, whatever the past it was gone, she had a new husband now, a new life to begin, and beneath her heart his child grew.
Kitty was happy, happier than she had ever been in her life, and she hugged him tightly, “and I shall never tire of letting you,” she whispered, nibbling his ear playfully, “Just give me time off for labour.” She laughed at the shocked expression on his face.
“Kitty I wouldn’t expect...” His mouth dropped open.
“I bet!” Kitty laughed teasing him mercilessly, yet he could not see it, making it all the funnier.
“I wouldn’t honest...I wouldn’t Kitty...” Devin couldn’t believe she’s even think it, he loved sex with her yes, but he would never dream of going that far, not when she was giving birth, “Its almost barbaric....whatever do you take me for?” He looked definitely put out.
Kitty burst into laughter, as Devin’s eyes lit up, a smile spreading across his handsome features, “You were joking right...” he sighed with relief, “God Kitty you really had me believing you...” He started to laugh along with her a little shakily, until he thought of something. “I would never expect you to make love at such a time Kitty.....just so long as you get it over and done within a couple of hours.” Kitty gasped, he sounded so serious, she stared at him, wondering if he meant it. His face gave nothing away. Suddenly, unable to hold it no longer, his face broke into a smile, and Kitty began to laugh, “You almost had me there.” she told him, making his eyes light up, “There’s no almost about it...” Devin tugged her back down beneath the covers, loving the sound of her squeal of delight as against her neck Devin uttered a throaty growl, that made her shiver with longing, and fleetingly made her think of Vincent.
Devin had told her about his brother’s fears toward a relationship with Catherine, and Kitty hoped that all was well with her new brother and sister-in-law by now, until all thoughts of her new family flew from her mind as her husband loved her so thoroughly, and she returned that love willingly, kiss by glorious kiss.

*** *** ***

Catherine shivered as Vincent strode towards the corner of the crystal cavern that he and Devin had prepared days earlier. It wasn’t a warm cavern, but just off to the side of the majestic, ever forming crystals, was a little chamber, out of the wind and the damp, but still lit by the dancing facets beyond, in turn, enhanced by the lanterns Vincent had lit there.
Her hands tightly clasped around his neck, Catherine buried her lips into his throat, kissing her way up and down the flesh there, delighted when a growl of longing erupted from Vincent, and he quickened his pace.
Putting her down seconds later, Catherine watched him as with hooded eyes, she saw him fight a need so overpowering that for a second it frightened her, and he looked up sharply, his eyes unfathomable. Never had Catherine seen him like this. Now on the brink of his dreams, there was no going back, and for a fleeting moment Catherine did have doubts.
This man, this gorgeous man that she loved like no other was in fact half beast, and possibly created by a mad scientist, but now this glorious being reminiscent of the king of the jungle now faced her, his eyes deep, dark pools of desire, his fangs glinting white as he gasped for breath, the straining material of his jeans an obvious show of his desire, for her! Catherine gasped, he looked magnificent, yet he waited, standing stock still, without a word, just that rasping, gasping breath, his chest heaving, his eyes locked on hers, waiting, waiting.
Catherine watched him, unwilling to break the spell, yet even so unable to resist reaching out and touching him, her hand going straight to his groin, her caress tender and unbelievably tantalising. Vincent closed his eyes, seeming to rock on the spot, before his eyes snapped open again, and he lunged for her, holding her tightly against him for long dizzying moments, leaving Catherine a little afraid, a little unsure, a little bemused.
He held her there, her arms pinned at her sides, as slowly the darkness in his eyes faded to be replaced by a depth of blue, that told her the beast had lost, and Vincent the man had come through, had won this battle, and in his triumph he kissed her, his lips devouring her soul, deeper, deeper, kisses of fire, grounding his arousal against her, and Catherine moaned as she felt the hard, hot length of him against the pit of her belly. She needed him so much, and pulling her arms free, she clamped them around his body drawing him closer, harder against her.
In an almost indecent haste, Catherine kicked off her shoes, reaching back to unfasten her jeans, and begin to wiggle out of them, as she unfastened Vincent’s jeans next, tugging them down, falling backwards onto the mattress he had brought down there for them, pulling Vincent down with her.
Her hands, hot upon his naked buttocks pressed him closer to her, her legs clamped around his waist, rubbing herself against him, in an almost wanton display of greed to feel him inside her. Vincent still hadn’t spoken, though his eyes, still fiery blue held hers. “Vincent”, Catherine’s voice rich and deep with longing called to him through his reverie, from wherever he had gone, calling him back to her, with her voice and her body, her hands caressing every part of him that was reachable.
His hot and pulsating manhood hovered just outside her body, Catherine could feel the heat fusing with her own, and held her breath. For deliciously long moments he hovered there, wrestling with something deep in the recesses of his mind, something Catherine could not fathom or reach, since he had closed off the bond from her.
Catherine waited, watching the very many expressions chase across his features, and she knew, knew without a doubt that Vincent was fighting against his inner self, fighting the his own needs against the needs of the beast.
At that moment, Catherine stilled to listen, her fingertips halting in their delicious exploration of his body, waiting while Vincent fought the battle, without any outside stimulus from her.

Inside Vincent’s mind, he was indeed fighting. The beast wanted Catherine too, he had dreamed along with the man of this day. Had chided the man for waiting so long, for something which had been freely offered from almost the very first day he had returned to Catherine on her balcony, after eight months of painful separation.
The beast had known then, where their destinies lay, he had tried to reason with the man, tried to guide him by instinct, but the man was full of doubts and fears, and the beast could not get past those feelings.
Now though, in his passion, the beast had gotten his wish, the woman was here, lying before them, her legs wrapped firmly around their waist, waiting, waiting. Oh, but to penetrate that warm softness, the beast shuddered. The man shuddered. The longing intensified, but still Vincent fought against the desires of the beast.
Catherine was, after all, his woman, his wife, it was he, that had married her, it was he, that had anticipated their time together in the crystal cavern. The beast would have not have waited for such sentiments, nor for a marriage, he would have taken what was freely offered without any limits.
Vincent the man, had wanted to do everything correct, marriage before loving, the age old traditional way, and for two whole days Vincent had yearned and waited after their marriage, to love his bride, waiting until they had reached his special place deep beneath the catacombs.
Now they were here, and now Catherine offered him everything, and Vincent was not about to allow the beast to steal all of that from him.
He loved Catherine, he wanted her, she was his for all time, his alone, and the fight went on until the beast relented, and in his triumph Vincent roared. For the moment, at least, he had conquered!
Catherine watched fascinated, longing to touch him. This hardness that throbbed with life at the threshold to her body, almost made her want to weep. She wanted him so much, so badly. Yet she waited, her breath held, until at last, recognition alighted in his eyes, and Catherine sighed with relief as Vincent’s beautiful blue eyes looked down at her with an expression of tenderness, before thrusting himself home, and sinking deeper and deeper into the sheaf of her body. Catherine screamed, she couldn’t help herself, it had been so long, but Vincent stifled her cries with his mouth, his tongue whipping inside to taste her, a kiss like no other, her very being exploding around him. Her nails scored his shoulders, and Vincent found his voice, “Catherine.” he spoke her name with such awe, it broke her heart, “I love you.” he whispered, deeply, the words catching in his throat, as he started to withdraw and fill her again with long, luscious strokes.
“God Vincent, you’re beautiful, keep going that way, my love,” Catherine panted, her body responding to his penetration, her muscles tightening, holding him in, causing a long low moan to escape Vincent, as he felt the pressure from within holding him in her steely grip.
It had never been like this in his dreams, he could never have imagined the wonder of their joining.
He had gone somewhere distant, somewhere above the clouds, he floated, he soared, he exploded, his mind filled with a brilliant array of star-burst, fusing colours, blinding lights, and he collapsed upon her, totally spent. Never had he experienced anything so wondrous in all of his life, and never would he again. For nothing could compare with that very first encounter, not ever. Vincent was delirious with happiness.

Yet within minutes he began to recover, hardening anew, and Catherine smiled, almost as if she had known, and for a moment Vincent felt a rush of embarrassment, until Catherine laughed gaily, “Its all right my love, it will be this way for quite some time, really, don’t worry, just enjoy it.”
“Catherine” Vincent spoke huskily, “There are no words for how you have made me feel, but so soon,? I’m sorry Catherine, I am using you.”
“No!” Catherine clamped her legs hard around his buttocks as he made to withdraw, “Don’t you dare leave me Vincent, I’m nowhere near finished with you yet.”
A smile lit Vincent’s mouth, deepening as he realised how serious she was, glad to comply with her wishes, as he once again rocked back and forth with his delicious strokes inside her body. “Where did you go?” Catherine asked him cautiously, watching his beloved face keenly.
Understanding at once, Vincent answered sincerely, “For a moment my fears were recognised Catherine. I was afraid, for you, for myself. Yet I was spellbound, I could not move either way, and that in turn held the beast at bay.”
“And then I touched you.”
“And then you touched me, yes. I came back then for a moment, and brought him with me. He wants you too, the fight was intense, I did not know which of us would take you first. It was a battle.”
“Who won?” Catherine was almost afraid to ask.
Vincent smiled, “I did, my love. That was why it was so sudden, for a second he relented and I outwitted him, I’m so sorry if I hurt you.”
“No, you didn’t hurt me Vincent, I was just surprised that’s all, its been a long time, and you are quite large you know.” Vincent blushed. “Not that I’m complaining mind.” Catherine added quickly, flexing her inner muscles once again, emphasising her point. Vincent moaned, “How do you do that. Its exquisite.”
“I don’t know how, I just do. Its easy. And you are benefiting from the fact that my muscles have become tighter over the years through going unused.” it was Catherine’s turn to blush.
“Just as well I waited so long then.” Vincent teased her, smiling deeply when Catherine giggled, making her breath catch in her throat as he told her, “I love you so much Catherine, I could never begin to thank you for all that you have given to me. That you can give of yourself, like this, to me, it is beyond comprehension.”
“It is I, who should thank you Vincent.”
“No, Catherine. You could have had so much, you could have had Elliott, or Joe, or someone from Above and together you could have lived the life you were born for, but no, you chose me, and I will never forget that Catherine, I will never take your love for granted, you are everything to me, but if ever you should wish to go back, to be free, then just this, this alone, your willingness to join your body with mine, I could take this as my memory and feed off of it for the rest of my life.”
“That’s wonderful Vincent.” Catherine told him, tears running down her cheeks, “But it won’t be necessary, because I never aim to go back, or to leave you, Vincent you are unique, do you seriously think I could go with another after you? You are my husband Vincent, till death do us part, and maybe not even then. Until infinity Vincent, that’s the way it will be for us, and even that could never be long enough.”
Vincent gathered her close, his eyes tightly closed, ‘oh, how he loved her’. And bit by bit with courage, he began to release his control on their Bond, allowing Catherine to see and feel the way she affected him, making her gasp as the enormity of his feelings washed over her. “Oh Vincent”, she cried, “I’ll never leave you. I promise. I love you equally as this. So much Vincent. So much...”

*** *** ***

Chapter Ten

And Finally...

“It has been said, that the child is the meaning of this life. Today we celebrate not one child but two. These new lives that have been brought into our world, we welcome with love, that they may be able to love. We welcome these children with gifts that they may learn generosity, and we welcome these children with a name, each...” Father paused, looking from one to the other of his two sons, his bright eyes twinkling with pride and joy at this momentous and happy occasion.
“Vincent” Devin nodded in his brother’s direction, “I think you should have the honour first.”
“But your son was born first.” Vincent argued.
Devin shook his head, “Nonetheless, you live here, your child will live here, my son will only come here for holidays.” He grinned. Vincent nodded, taking Catherine’s hand, the sleeping babe in the crook of his other arm, and stepped forward up alongside Father. Then as everybody held their breath, Vincent started to speak, “In all my wildest dreams, I could never have envisaged this day, not for me, to be standing here with my own child in my arms, taking part in a ceremony I have attended a dozen times and more as a guest...” he hesitated, to gaze down at his sleeping son with adoration, “Catherine has given me more than my dreams, this my son, I entrust into the care of our loving community, and his name shall be in honour and respect of the one in whom we trust to oversee this world of ours. Catherine and I, name our son Jacob.”
Throughout his speech a hushed silence descended over the many friends and family who had come to witness this momentous occasion, until upon those words, the guests erupted into joyful applause, beaming faces upon one an all, and as tears fell down Father’s cheeks, he enfolded Catherine, Vincent and their tiny son into his loving embrace.
After many heart stopping moments, Father took a deep breath, stepping aside, and saw his other son wiping away his own tears of joy, and held out his hand to him, “Devin, it is your turn now. What name have you chosen for my other grandson?”
Devin took Kitty’s hand, and approached the stand, waiting while the crowd quietened, before speaking. “I rather suspected Vincent would call his son Jacob, and believe it or not, that name crossed my mind more than once, for my own child. Kitty loved the name too, and it became quite difficult to chose another. In the end we decided to do the next best thing, in keeping with the divinity of the two names, we chose the name Joshua for our son, with Jacob as his second name. Had Vincent of announced some other, Kitty and I were prepared to switch it to Jacob Joshua, that is why I insisted that Vincent spoke first.”
The clapping began again, harder and harder, showing approval, and within seconds, Devin and Kitty, Catherine and Vincent found themselves surrounded by all of their guests, with Father receiving pats on the back of congratulations.
Everyone was so happy, not least the proud parents, and the festivities went on long into the night.

Many hours later, happy and content, Devin and Kitty hugged Vincent and Catherine goodnight, before retiring to their chamber, leaving the pair to wander through the tunnels, secure in the knowledge that their son was being nursed by Father and Mary, who had grown much closer of late, much to everyone’s delight, while Vincent and Catherine went up to the park above for a breath of fresh air.

Beneath the moonlight and arm in arm, they trod silently across the mist clad grass, to their favourite spot, the place where Vincent had found Catherine. “This place ought not be a shrine for me,” Catherine told her husband, looking up into his beautiful leonine face, “it ought to hold untold horrors, but it doesn’t. This is where you found me, my love, turned my life around, brought to me my happy life. Vincent, whatever would have happened to me, had you not been up here that night.” she shivered, “it doesn’t bear thinking about. Look what I would have missed, even if I had of lived. Vincent I owe you so much.”
Stroking her hair, letting it glide between his fingers, Vincent listened to every word with love swelling in his heart, his breath almost stopping in his chest, “Catherine...” he whispered, “That day was one of many for me, nothing out of the ordinary, though the tunnels were stifling me, not heat, no, its wasn’t yet warm enough above for that. I just felt the need to be outside. All that day, I yearned for the night. As I remember Father wanted me to stay home to help with some fitting of more shelves, but I could not stay. I have thought about my finding you so many times, about that day leading up to it, and I don’t know just what it was, but for some reason you drew me, and until those men brought you into the park, I wandered aimlessly around, not knowing why I did, but knowing that I must stay above, until dawn if I had to do. There was a reason, without logic, for my being Above that night, and from the moment I saw you thrown from that van, I knew what it was.”
“You’ve never spoken of this before Vincent, why?” Notably interested, Catherine asked.
“For many reasons, but mainly because like our connection it was one more testimony to the truth, a truth which I denied for so long, a truth which had I of listened, I would have saved both you and I untold heartache and longing, yet the truth I denied to myself most of all, my Catherine, was the truth of how deeply I loved you.
Always, always. Oh, Catherine, we have lost so much time by my constant denials...” he hung his head deeply ashamed, but Catherine would have none of it, “And we have gained so much more. Vincent, we have been together all that time, we loved, here in our hearts, nurturing that love with tenderness, cherishing its existence, strengthening our connection. There must be no regrets Vincent, the way it was, I would never alter for the world. The way it is now, I would never trade for all the riches in the world. In you, my love I have everything...Vincent, believe me, you have given me everything.”
Vincent looked into her eyes, saw the sincerity shining from them, the love there for him, for all that they had together, their son, their child, their future together, as one unto eternity.
“Oh Catherine...” Bending his head, Vincent brushed the softest of kisses across her lips, “I love you so, my heart is bursting with the love I feel for you, you have taken all my dreams and turned them into reality, I can never thank you enough my love, for all that you have given me. No more will I have need of dreams. You have erased even the nightmares.”
His words were filled with such tenderness, that they broke Catherine’s heart, she felt humbled by him, and contented too, taking delight in the knowledge that she, for some reason unknown to either of them had been the one chosen to fulfil all of his hearts desire. Their destinies had been entwined long ago, by some unseen force that neither of them could question. It was there and it had brought them together, for a reason. Whatever that reason was, was yet to be realised, but for now they were content with what they had, and as they walked blissfully arm in arm back towards the safety of their home beneath the city streets, the one thing Vincent and Catherine did know, without a shadow of a doubt, was that together, they had truly found their happy life.

Vincent’s Prayer

Cutting hooves of night mares that gallop through the night,
Star spangled heavens that turn the dark to light,
A perfect dream that lightens the shadows of the soul,
Please chase away my night mares, and make my spirit whole.

*** *** ***



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