Inspired by Carol thompson - UK
When Carol Thompson wrote to me she pointed out that there is a plaque in Central Park New York commemorating John Lennon, one of the four members of the sixties pop group The Beatles. Carol thought it would be a nice idea to write a story bringing together John Lennon, the theme Strawberry Fields Forever (the title of one of the Beatles' songs) and Beauty and the Beast. The following story shows what became of that wonderful idea.
Strawberry Fields Forever
As Catherine stayed over one weekend she was awoken by the excited chatter of a very large group of children on their way to the kitchen, and though she couldn’t hear exactly what was being said, she did hear her name mentioned.
Intrigued she donned her robe and slippers and made her way into the tunnel outside, just as the last strands of children filed past, “Hey Eric?” she called to his disappearing back, and watched as he stopped dead and swung around to the sound of her voice.
“Catherine!” his cry of delight was genuine and he turned to come back to her side followed by several of the other children who had heard him cry her name. “I didn’t know you were here.” His bright eyes shone through his spectacles, he was clearly happy to see her.
“I came last night, quite late, no one saw me arrive but Vincent. So what’s going on? I heard my name mentioned.”
A group of eager faces surrounded her, “Yes.” Several voices chimed at once, “We wanted your help.”
“My help? How?” Catherine wondered what Vincent would say when she related all this to him later.
The children started chattering all at once.
“It’s a secret.” That dashed her hopes.
“You mustn’t tell anyone, not even Vincent.” That would be hard.
“And least of all Father.”
“And especially not William.” This was followed by groans all round.
“Okay, okay”, Catherine laughed, “So tell me what is this secret and how can I help?”
With children all around her Catherine found herself surged back towards the guest chamber, and once there amid many whispers she was told of their plan.
“Oh Boy.” Catherine spoke to herself when she was all-alone once again “this is going to be a hard secret to keep.” Still she’d do her best after all it did sound like a wonderful idea.
*** *** ***
“Now you’re absolutely sure about this Mouse?” Jamie was hoping to get the facts straight before she proceeded with the list.
Mouse nodded. “Seen it. Know its true. Everything is free. Whole lot. And no beetles.”
Jamie frowned but went on, “We will need baskets, and boxes, anything we can lay our hands on, but it must have a solid bottom, we don’t want any leaks from squashed fruit.”
Mouse was nodding, his enthusiasm apparent. He’d brought this idea Below, and he knew where there were tons of boxes. Without waiting for Jamie to say another word, he had gone, disappearing in silence just like his namesake.
Jamie run through her checklist, everything seemed right, still she felt troubled, it was unusual to say the least that strawberries should be given away in great quantities like that. Still it wasn’t only from Mouse, Eric and some of the other boys had seen the notice too. So it must be right.
Happy with her measurements, Jamie took the list to Catherine, who she had been told was staying in the guest chamber but when she arrived Catherine was nowhere to be seen.
“She must be with Vincent.” Jamie decided and went to look.
Sure enough Catherine was lounging against Vincent on the settee in his chamber reading poetry to one another.
They looked up when she arrived.
“Jamie?” Vincent queried, “Were you looking for me?”
Jamie hesitated, “No. Can I speak to Catherine?”
“Of course come in.”
Tilting his head to look once at Jamie and then towards Catherine Vincent was extremely intrigued but nodded, “I’ll be with Father.” He told the two of them before leaving them alone.
“Now you’ve done it” Catherine laughed, “It was hard enough keeping anything from him before, but now!” she laughed harder, “Now he will be like a dog with a bone.”
Jamie laughed, “Sorry but the children want this stuff like yesterday. The fruit will be here tomorrow, and we are planning the surprise for tomorrow teatime. Can you get it all today?”
Catherine took the list from Jamie and whistled, “this is some order, do you have enough money?”
“Yes we have pooled all our resources, we should have enough to cover it. If not perhaps you can get a little less of something, but the measurements want to be fairly accurate.” Jamie frowned, if there was too little flour, there would be too much fat, and Catherine thankfully realised this, “Don’t worry, if there isn’t enough cash I’ll pay the difference.”
Jamie beamed, “Oh thank you Cathy. Can you get it today?”
Catherine saw her precious weekend with Vincent slipping away, but she couldn’t let everyone down, so she nodded, “Yes will this afternoon do?”
“That will be great, I’ll tell the troops.” With that she was gone leaving Catherine feeling very much as if she were caught in a whirlwind.
When Vincent returned, he did enquire what was going on, but Catherine true to her word kept her promise, “I’m sorry Vincent but I am sworn to secrecy.”
His blue eyes twinkled, “Its nothing illegal?”
“And Father will not have a heart attack?”
“Not unless he eats too many.” It was the only clue she was prepared to give.
“So, it’s one of those secrets. Does William know?”
Catherine smiled but refused to say. Vincent could deduce whatever he wanted from that.
He did. “So he doesn’t. This could be interesting. When’s the great deed to take place?”
“Now Vincent I promised not to give away trade secrets and you mister,” Catherine prodded him firmly in the chest, “Are very clever at getting things out of me.”
“With the subtle approach?”
“You said it.” She laughed. “Vincent I have to go Above for the afternoon, I should only be a few hours, but would you not meet me when I return?”
“Not meet you?”
“I’ve got a date with the children.”
“If this is what I think it is, you’ll have a date with death if William finds out.” Vincent chuckled, and Catherine shot him a devilish grin. “Don’t worry Vincent I think they aim to tell him and employ his help as soon as they have got everything organised.”
Vincent nodded, “When are you going?”
Catherine checked her watch, “Well I could go now and have the whole afternoon with you, or I could wait until later and not see you until almost evening. Which do you prefer?”
“If I might be offered a preference Catherine, I would prefer that you run this secret by me, and let me decide whether you should go at all. Some of these scams the children get into can be disastrous.”
“So says the expert. Just like the ones you and Devin got into I suppose?”
Vincent smiled knowingly remembering many of those such scams. “Touché.”
“So what’s it to be, now or later?”
“On what?” Catherine could tell he was in a playful mood.
“On whether we would enjoy ourselves more now or later.” He smiled at her mischievously.
Since their relationship had taken a turn for the better just lately, Catherine thought she liked the sound of that, and Vincent proved it. His eyes looked into hers, and he trailed one long clawed finger gently down one bare arm outside her sleeveless top. Catherine shuddered and her eyes never left his.
“Vincent?” The question hung suspended.
The Bond thrummed between them drawing them close “I think later my love.” Vincent spoke huskily. Catherine was about to think the opposite. In fact going shopping was the last thing on her mind right now with the way he was looking at her.
What Vincent appeared to be offering her was something she had ‘shopped for’ for the past three years and sooner receive it now rather than later was the option in her book.
Vincent was smiling at her, with a look in his eyes that she had only ever caught glimpses of on occasion. Her mind spun away and her body seemed to melt until her legs were incapable of supporting her.
“Later my love.” Vincent husked a second time aware of the way he was making her feel. He was getting rather breathless too. He could not believe that this beautiful woman wanted him in that way. He needed room to breathe, to catch his breath and to think away the vestiges of his final fears.
“Why later?” Catherine had to know.
Vincent’s answer when it came could only be described as unbelievable, Catherine would never have believed he would utter such a thing, “Because later, my love, slips into the night, when all is quiet in my world, and when we can be undisturbed here in this chamber.”
Was Vincent asking her to spend the night with him? Right now it seemed that way. Catherine shivered with anticipation and longing.
“I won’t be long, just a couple of hours. I’ll be right back, I promise.”
“I’ll be here.” He whispered, and Catherine found it almost impossible to tear herself away. She nodded and stepped from his chamber her heart racing, and right at that moment would have given anything to have torn that damn shopping list to shreds!
*** *** ***
“Flour, eggs, margarine, sugar, cream, is that it?” the storekeeper at the deli counter asked Catherine as she checked off the list.
“Seems to be. You measured it all out right?”
“Certainly. This lot would feed an army. What are you making scones?”
“That’s the general idea, but it’s not for me. A bunch of kids are going to surprise their elders.”
The storekeeper laughed, “I’d say it’ll be a bigger surprise than they expect. Who’s tidying up the kitchen?”
“Just what I’d like to know.” Catherine laughed and picked up the two huge bags of groceries, “Well I’ll let you know how it went when I see you next week. Thank you Bye.”
“If you survive.” The storekeeper laughed holding the door open for her.
Catherine decided to take the park entrance it was closer, besides something was going on there and she was intrigued to know what.
Balancing a large brown paper sack against her chest with each folded arm Catherine walked through the sunny park observing everything that was being erected. It appeared to be a large marquee with lots of banners and the word concert caught her eye.
But much of the activity was taking place well away from her entrance to the tunnel world although Catherine did meet one man walking a dog to whom she directed a question.
“What’s going on over there?” she asked smiling gaily.
“It’s a commemoration to John Lennon.”
“One of the Beatles?”
“Yeah sure. He died around here someplace, there’s a plaque I believe?”
“Yes it’s over there.” Catherine turned and nodded in the direction, as her hands were full, “But that was in the month of December, we are a long way from there.”
“I know. It was December 8th 1980 when he was shot dead, but this event couldn’t be held on the right date to coincide with the strawberries, so its being held now.”
“Yes, I’m surprised you haven’t read the signs, but then...” He laughed, “I should think it would be hard seeing anything through those two sacks, it’s a wonder you managed to see to cross the road safely.”
“So for one who is in ignorance could you please explain?”
“Certainly. Well someone had the idea that a gimmick like this would go down well with Beatle fans everywhere and draw other people besides. Tomorrow there will be a delivery of strawberries arriving enough to feed a multitude of people destined to turn up. Hence to go along with the theme Strawberry Fields Forever. And the strawberries will be served with scones and cream while everyone listens to Beatle songs over those speakers up there, and generally mingle and have a great time. It’s free admission so a large crowd is expected."
Catherine had an ominous feeling, she had to ask one more question, “Are the strawberries and scones free too.”
The man laughed, “Lord no. Someone has to pay for all of this. You surely didn’t expect them to be free did you?”
“No not me, but someone told me something earlier today that had me wondering that’s all.”
“Well whoever it was, you must inform otherwise before they come without any money, or they will go hungry all day.”
Catherine nodded. Suddenly the bags in her arms felt very heavy indeed and very much like a huge waste too.
What on earth would they do with all these ingredients now?
*** *** ***
Back in the tunnels Catherine listened to the wild excitement of the children with much trepidation, and Vincent found her still with them much later when he came to look for her.
“Vincent, I’m sorry.” She had almost forgotten about returning to him, and that was nigh impossible in the circumstances, so that shows how worried she was about the children’s disappointment if she should tell them.
“Something is wrong?” Vincent could feel it in her. Her heart was troubled. Now his was too.
“Did I frighten you Catherine?”
“You, frighten me?” They were stood in the tunnel away from the kitchen listening to the excited chatter of the children within.
“You know earlier?”
“Earlier?” Catherine’s mind was still on those damn strawberries.
“I’m sorry.” Vincent apologised.
“For rushing you, only I thought...”
That brought Catherine back to earth, and she gave him her full attention. “Oh Vincent forgive me, I’m not avoiding you, and neither are you rushing me, what you want, I want, you know that...” Her voice trailed away as snippets of childish chatter caught her attention back to the kitchen.
Vincent took her arm and steered her away, well away, out of earshot, “Tell me?” He asked when they were quite alone.
“The children. Vincent they are assuming that the signs Above advertising Strawberry Fields Forever is to be a grand give away tomorrow of the fruit and not a concert in commemoration of John Lennon. They have organised a strawberry tea for tomorrow night as a surprise for everyone, and I have just been out and bought all the ingredients. Vincent how can I tell them that there will be no free strawberries after all? The concert is free but the strawberries and scones up Above are one dollar each. There are signs everywhere, but someone has misread them.”
Vincent could see the predicament clearly. “Catherine you will have to tell them.”
“Oh but they will be so disappointed.”
“They can still make the scones. We can have them with butter and honey.”
“But there are cartons and cartons of cream, what will we do with all of that?” Catherine’s eyes lit up, she had thought of something, but she wasn’t about to tell Vincent. He seemed to know however. “Devin once told me of a great gimmick...” He left the rest unfinished, “something he tried once with a lady friend of his.”
Catherine’s eyes widened, but she said nothing at all. Vincent, coming out with a suggestion like that? Never!
“Vincent, I’d like to help.”
It was Vincent’s turn to raise his brows, he hadn’t realised her train of thought had altered.
“You would?” He didn’t know whether to allow himself the delight of picturing this or not.
Catherine looked at him for long moments, not understanding quite then. “Yes, you do understand don’t you?”
Vincent was quiet for a few moments. He had a sudden notion that they weren’t speaking about the same thing.
“I’d like to think I understand Catherine, but something tells me that we are talking at cross purposes here.”
“I’m referring to helping the children resolve this problem. What did you mean?”
“Never mind.” Vincent actually blushed.
Catherine’s eyes widened as she thought back to what had just been said, “Vincent! Really!” She would never have believed it if she hadn’t of heard it with her own ears. So much had changed between them of late. They had kissed and caressed and fondled but as yet had not made love, but to hear Vincent talk of such things…well…that was surprising! Devin and his worldly ideas had a lot to answer for.
Vincent blushed even more, and stammered, “I think helping the children would be a very honourable thing Catherine.” She could tell he needed to escape her and now, and she could have made it difficult in a devilish way, but refrained from doing so, she hadn’t the time, it was growing late, and soon it would be too late to arrange anything.
“I’ll be back tonight I promise.” She stood on tiptoe and brushed her lips with his.
“Should I meet you?”
“Yes. I’ll be at the threshold by nine.”
“I’ll be waiting.”
*** *** ***
Catherine ran all the way back to the park. Fortunately there were still people about organising the following day’s event and as luck would have it the grocers were there checking the final arrangements.
Catherine waited until it was polite then interrupted, “Can I have a word?”
The woman turned, “Yes of course.”
“Can I order some strawberries too?”
“For this event?”
“No. For something I have organised. My supplier let me down.” It was all she could think of to say at the time.
“Well yes, how many punnets would you like, there’s a pound in each.”
“Is fifty enough?”
“That’s fine, yes I can bring you fifty punnets, I can deliver them to your home if you prefer?”
Catherine was just about to say no bring them here, when she realised how that might sound, she changed her mind, “Yes that would be wonderful. Thank you, and promptly gave her address.
“You’ll not let me down? It must be tomorrow?”
“I will bring them first thing in the morning. Will you be in?”
“Is seven too early, only I have a busy day tomorrow?” The woman nodded indicating the marquee.
Of course she could be in but seven would be a trifle early, still what else could she do? Besides it would take most of the morning transporting fifty punnets Below anyway so the earlier they arrived the better.
“Yes I’ll be there.”
“Its cash on delivery, but I’ll need a fifty percent non refundable deposit now.”
Catherine nodded, she thought as much. Once fruit was picked it went off quickly. A cancelled order would be a big loss.
She paid the money, and gave her address and that done she made her way back to her apartment feeling exceedingly depressed.
What would Vincent think when he found out she wouldn’t be spending the night with him after all?
Catherine sighed, if only just for once everything didn’t try to keep them apart.
*** *** ***
Vincent was disappointed but he tried not to show it.
Last night when Catherine had lain in her bed in the guest chamber and he had spent the night in his, he had known the pain of separation. With Catherine just mere yards away desiring him, he had lain awake most of the night feeling particularly the same and had vowed no more. From then on, starting with the next night he had decided that he and Catherine would share his bed and from there they would let the natural expression of their love for each other unfold.
He was nervous but it was nothing in comparison to the desperate longing he felt for her now.
So when Catherine sent word for him not to meet her at nine o’clock as arranged, and that she would not be back until the following day, Vincent could have cried.
Having built himself up in expectation the feeling of falling flat hit him hard and he began to wonder if Catherine had suspected the pace and was attempting to slow it down. Perhaps she had had second thoughts?
He tried to tell himself that it was one of those things. There had been dozens of them for goodness sakes in the last three years, but more so since they had grown closer. Everything it seemed was intent on keeping them apart.
Well Vincent wouldn’t have it!
If Catherine couldn’t come to him, he would go to her, but he would not, could not, spend another night without her.
*** *** ***
Standing looking out across the mist-shrouded park Catherine felt the tears slip down her cheeks. She could feel Vincent’s sorrow and that hurt her too. But so wrapped up in his misery was she that she did not notice his change of attitude or his resolve to be with her. And so as the cloak of darkness covered the last of the evening sky Catherine was surprised to hear a soft rustle in the corner of her balcony. She turned, “Vincent!” Her face registered genuine pleasure and for that he was thankful. It washed his doubts clean away.*** *** ***
They were in each other’s arms in less than a heartbeat, their lips fastened in a sweet kiss. “I had to come.” Vincent husked against her mouth “I needed you so.”
Catherine pulled back just enough to see into his eyes. What she read there caught her breath away. His need was deeper than she had ever known it. When he said he needed her this time it was in no way related to those other times when he had needed her. This need bordered on passion.
“Oh Vincent!” Catherine’s arms went around him, holding him close, “Are you certain?”
“I’ve never been more certain of anything in my whole life.” He told her softly. “Catherine can I stay?”
“Oh Vincent as if you had to ask? Oh my darling of course you can stay.”
Through the Bond Catherine could feel his shyness, his nervousness but atop it all was the overriding need of desire. He wanted her. Their relationship of late had brought them to this, to the brink of their union.
“I had dreamed of it being Below.” He whispered a little sadly.
“I know.” She massaged his upper arms and shoulders, easing away his disappointment.
“Making you mine in my world seemed so right.” He went on almost as if she hadn’t spoken.
“But at least here no one will disturb us.” Catherine ventured gently.
Vincent agreed, “Yes.”
He looked into her eyes, “There are no buts, as long as I am with you, the place is unimportant.”
“Oh but Vincent it is. If that has been your dream then we must do all in our power to make it come true for you.”
Vincent shook his head, “No Catherine I don’t want to wait any longer and I cannot spend another night without you.” He startled her by his firm resolve.
“You won’t have to do baby.” Vincent thrilled by the endearments she directed at him. Since they had become more loving she had said such things more and more. Sometimes he wondered why he had fought against their deepening relationship for so long, for mere words from her made him feel so good inside. He had missed so much.
“Come inside.” Catherine was coaxing him through the doors leading into her bedroom and he followed as meekly as a lamb.
Once she had closed the door behind them Catherine held him close, “Vincent” she whispered close to his ear, “We can make this moment last. We have all night to get to know one another fully, and tomorrow night we can take it the final step in your world, in your chamber or another place of your choosing. We are adept at holding back my love, I’m sure we could manage for a final twenty-four hours.”
Vincent smiled into her hair, “That’s as maybe. I don’t know, perhaps I will be incapable of holding back.”
“Then don’t. You set the pace my love and I will follow, only tell me now if our first union Below is truly important to you and I will help you to wait.”
“Its not important Catherine, it was but a dream.”
“Then it is important my love. All dreams should be met and held true. If we don’t uphold the dream then regret is a bitter blow that will feed your mind. Vincent I know. Believe me I know what I am talking about.”
Pulling back a little so that he could see into her eyes Vincent asked, “Tell me?”
“Vincent there have been others in my life, but you are my one true love. My regret is that I cannot come to you as new as you come to me. My heart hurts that this can not be so.”
Vincent understood her pain and drew her close against him. Nothing he could say would ease that kind of hurt but Catherine was comforted by his compassion and soon the regret passed away as he trailed soft kisses across her face.
Their lips met in understanding and deepened in love, and very soon all else was forgotten as they molded together until it was difficult to tell where one ended and the other began.
For some time they stood by the balcony doors kissing and caressing, until Catherine felt herself gathered up against him, and carried to her bed where he lay her gently upon it.
Vincent followed her down laying at her side and continuing his kisses hot against her lips, his fingers hungry in their exploration, kneading her softness with his large hands.
Catherine moaned as he touched places that had longed for his touch for so long, and the fleeting thought that maybe stopping would be harder than she had supposed flew through her mind. If he was trusting in her to hold them back, he might be disappointed. But that one thought did stop her, for his disappointment would be real if she didn’t slow the pace now. After all regret or not, she did have more experience in making love and knew the ropes so to speak. Right now though she had never known anything to compare with the way Vincent was making her feel.
No one had touched her with such reverence as he touched her or with such love, and the regrets that she had had melted away as if they had never been.
No one had affected her the way Vincent was affecting her and she felt deep in her heart that his first time would be hers too.
She taught him things that night, true, things he could never have imagined, but together they travelled those roads on a voyage of discovery, bringing one another to such heights without the bonus of union. For that they both resolutely held back. It was difficult but maintainable because each knew the import of their first time being in his world. The culmination of a dream in the magical world Below.
Finally as they lay satiated side by side a deep happiness washed over them. For Vincent it came with the knowledge that he could hold back, that the dark one had not been set free by his passion and that Catherine had taken delight in his body. He smiled, oh how she had taken delight in his body!
But tomorrow night, tomorrow night all his dreams would come true. This time tomorrow Catherine would truly be his.
A knock at the door woke Catherine and she bolted upright, searching for Vincent. A note on her pillow caught her eye and a sigh of relief escaped her. She hadn’t heard him leave with the dawn, but the note signified that he had and she was grateful that he had awoken in time.
The knocking persisted and Catherine checked her watch. Seven a.m. Who was calling at that hour!
It was then that she remembered the previous day’s events and the previous night’s events too! A warm rush of emotion swept through her. In a daze she fumbled for her robe and her slippers and just made the door in time to see the disappearing back of a delivery boy stepping into the elevator.
“Wait!” She cried running out after him. He caught the closing door with his boot “Strawberries?” He enquired with a cheeky grin.
“Yes, yes they’re for me. That is for a party, please bring them to my apartment and I will give you the rest of the payment.”
The boy followed her in, looking swiftly around him, and waited while Catherine found her purse. While she counted out the dollars he lay the tray of strawberries onto the dining room table and told her, “These mustn’t be refrigerated or they will spoil. Keep them cool and dry and eat them within twenty four hours.”
“Oh we will.” Catherine assured him, “thank you so much. Here’s ten dollars for you too.”
“Thank you.” He left her then and she closed the door firmly behind him.
Looking at the beautiful strawberries some moments later Catherine was tempted to try some. They looked delicious, and she made up a bowl full with her cereal to have for breakfast. That done she got dressed with the intent of going down to the basement to tap out a message, when suddenly she had the despairing thought that apart from Vincent no one knew that she was doing this. She hadn’t told anyone yesterday for she was too worried about the children’s disappointment.
Worry seared her soul, what if the children were already going Above for the fruit> What if they were caught taking some?
Her heart racing Catherine dashed to the basement and was absolutely flabbergasted to feel as she descended the steps strong arms reaching around her.
“Vincent!” She gasped with pleasure.
“I couldn’t sleep. I was wandering the tunnels when I felt such a range of emotions flooding your senses that I had to come to see why?”
“You couldn’t sleep! Vincent I slept like a log. Baby what’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong.” He told her, and searching the Bond she could see that was true. But there was a feeling there, it was high and taut. Catherine raised her eyes to his as dawning became apparent. Vincent was excited. His excitement was like a tight bow and the fiery passion in his eyes thrilled her to the core.
“Tonight Catherine.” He whispered softly.
If you can hold back long enough the thought winged its way through her mind.
Vincent gazed at her almost as if he was reading her mind and she knew that were possible, but his gaze shifted and he drew on something else, “You are anxious about something?”
“Yes but not about us. Vincent I want you never doubt that. Tonight will be the first of many nights, and after this night you will never wake alone ever again I promise you.” Her tone was resolute, determined.
“Then you will no longer need your apartment.” His voice whispered - the hope in his tone apparent.
“Then I will no longer need my apartment. Vincent my love, in spirit we are as one, and when we become as one physically do you seriously think that I will ever be able to leave you again?” Her adoring eyes gazed up at him full of love.
Joy surged through Vincent’s heart and his face lit up, his breathing became ragged with happiness, “I never thought, I never believed, I never even dared to hope, that you might live down here with me. Catherine is this true?”
She hugged him tightly against her “I love you Vincent. I want to be with you, I am incomplete without you and after tonight I will never leave you again.”
“But your job?”
He stared at her. “But Catherine you can’t not for...”
She cut him short, “Not for you? Is that what you were going to say? Listen Vincent everything is for you. Have you not listened to a word that I have said? Vincent I am incomplete without you. From this night on we will be together for always. It’s forever my love. Believe it.” Her eyes shining Catherine clasped his hands in hers tightly. Such beautiful hands - her hands.
Vincent could not get his breath. Oh to believe! That this beautiful woman would not only give herself to him but would give up everything for him too? It was too much - he could not ask it of her. But then he hadn’t. At no time had he told her how he had felt about anything, except maybe for telling her of his dream for their first time together.
Catherine reached up on tiptoe and kissed his lips “I love you, you are my life. Will you let me spend the rest of my life with you?”
“Oh yes!” There was no hesitation anymore. Through the Bond he could tell that she meant every word, and what was more her firm resolve told him it hadn’t been something she had thought of lightly. She had taken considerable time over this decision and he could tell she had no doubts. Not a single one. It amazed him.
“Oh Catherine, my love.” He whispered against her hair, “How I love you.”
For long moments they shared the bliss of clinging to one another. After so many years denying themselves this simple act it was a joy to be able to show each other the depth of their love.
Catherine found that she simply could not get close enough to him. She didn’t believe she ever could even when they did finally make love. Only if it were possible to step inside his skin and become a part of him, only then would she ever feel as close as she wanted to feel to him.
“So” Vincent reluctantly drew away, but held her still within the circle of his arms, “The Strawberries?”
“Oh yes the strawberries.” Catherine reiterated “I’d almost forgotten them. Yes they have arrived, and I need a dozen or so little helpers to transport them to the kitchen unless you can carry them all. But Vincent?”
“I forgot to tell the children yesterday. I didn’t want to be the one to disappoint them so I refrained from telling them anything until I had organised the fruit delivery, and after that with coming back here I forgot.”
“And then I arrived.”
Catherine smiled, “Yes and then you arrived, and then I forgot everything after that.”
“Oh I wouldn’t say that my love.” She detected the teasing tone again and looked up into his eyes. They were bright with mischief.
“You wouldn’t why?”
“There were certainly one or two things that you remembered my love. Things I would never have thought of in all my wildest dreams.” He laughed as he remembered, until his laughter subsided and the memory brought back his passion. He looked at her with eyes flooding with desire and Catherine shuddered with a longing that rivalled his own.
“When you said you wanted our first time to be Below Vincent.” She teased, “How far Below did you actually mean?”
He caught her meaning, her eyes were looking wistfully at the ground, and he laughed, “Certainly not here my love. We can wait.”
“Speak for yourself.”
Vincent laughed harder, heartily now, “Catherine what I am going to do with you?”
Catherine raised one eyebrow, and Vincent’s laughter grew louder.
“Tonight my love.” He finally told her, “If only for the sake of a few dozen children. You know - strawberries?”
“What? Oh yes strawberries to go with the cream you mean?” Catherine teased.
It was Vincent’s turn to raise his eyebrows.
*** *** ***
Down in the kitchen a dozen or so dejected faces looked to the floor and an air of disappointment hung all around.
Someone was sobbing quietly in one corner, and someone else was accusing another of getting the facts wrong.
“How could you get it so wrong? Can’t you read?”
“You can’t do, or you would have known.” The first snapped.
“It’s not Eric’s fault.” Jamie told the pair. “If anyone is to blame initially its Mouse, but we are all equally to blame. None of us thought to check the facts.”
Mouse was subdued in a corner but his head snapped back when the blame was first apportioned to him. He held a poster in his hand. If the situation wasn’t so darn disappointing Jamie might have found the words written upon it funny.
“What are we going to do with all this stuff?” Samantha indicated to all the scones previously made and set out upon the table.
“We can still eat the scones Sam, but it’s the cream that worries me, what will we do with all that? Catherine bought cartons and cartons of it. What do we say to her?”
“We could spread it with jam?” Eric suggested.
Jamie turned up the corner of her mouth pondering the idea, “Yes, I guess we could.” She spoke slowly, “It wouldn’t be the same of course, but it would save ruining the plan.”
“Do we have enough?”
“Jam? That I don’t know. Perhaps we should ask William. Now he knows what we are doing and how it has gone wrong I’m sure he would help think of something if there isn't enough jam.”
“Yes or we could use honey, or lemon curd, maybe even peanut butter.” Lauren suggested thoroughly caught up with the idea.
Jamie grimaced, peanut butter and cream filled scones, yuck.
“Look let’s do something at least. We could cut the scones in half and work something out as we go along. Does anyone know where William is?”
Several children shook their heads, “Oh well,” Jamie assured them "never mind. He’ll turn up eventually. Now lets get working shall we? There is so much to do, and though it would appear we will have hours to do it in, don’t forget we have to clean up afterwards, and all before tea time too.”
Everyone groaned, still that was hours away yet, and that chore could be shelved for the time being. Wild excitement filled the kitchen as the earlier disappointment flew away, and very soon the area became a hive of activity with Jamie actually finding her humour for the poster still held tightly in Mouse’s hands.
“I can see how you misread it Mouse. It was an easy mistake.”
Mouse looked up; he too was beginning to thaw. He had felt so dreadful. “It was?”
“Yes just hold it up again will you?”
Mouse did as asked, and giggling Jamie read the words aloud.
“Strawberry Fields Forever”
Sunday July 10th
10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Twelve hours of music, strawberries, scones and cream
Sorry no Beatles appearing.”
“That’s what you meant about the beetles.” Jamie laughed “Mouse when you first told me I wondered. I thought perhaps it was advertising organically grown fruit.” Mouse grinned at her. He couldn’t bring himself to tell her that he had thought that people would be disappointed to find their strawberries without any beetles. For the thought of that alone made him feel sick!
“Well nothing is lost Mouse, don’t worry. Jam will work just as well. Strawberries would have been nice, but don’t let that give you any ideas to go Above and take some, even if there are tons.”
“Won’t.” Mouse assured her, besides there were too many people about in the park already. He knew because he had already thought of that!
The scones were being sliced and the cream had been whisked and left in the cooler to await the final hour before teatime, as a few minutes before ten o’clock Catherine stepped into the kitchen followed by Vincent with a large covered tray in his hands. “Surprise!” Catherine told the children who stopped what they were doing on sight of Vincent.
“You told him!” Jamie snapped.
“I’m sorry.” Catherine replied.
“Cathy why? You’ve ruined the surprise now?”
“I had to do, I needed Vincent's help.”
“You didn’t have to tell him.” Jamie looked at her scornfully. “Why did you need his help? Thanks a lot Catherine - you’ve ruined everything now!”
Jamie threw down the knife she had been holding. It clattered onto the table startling all the other children, and Catherine felt tears prick her eyes before she ran from the room.
Vincent stared after her “Jamie how could you?”
“Well she ruined the surprise. You weren’t supposed to know!”
“In actual fact she saved the day. Here take these, I must go after her.” Vincent handed a very large tray to Jamie, and took off before she could uncover it to see what it contained.
She gasped when she did so and her heart sank. Strawberries! There were tons of them - fresh and appetising.
Jamie had never felt so terrible.
*** *** ***
There was only one thing Jamie could do but she couldn’t leave the younger children unsupervised while she went in search of Catherine to apologise, but she knew that whatever happened she had to make it up to her before the day was out.
As the children set about filling the plates for their tea time surprise and as everyone filed into the kitchen later for their tea, Jamie set aside the largest portion of scones for Vincent and Catherine.
The strawberry tea was a huge success and only thanks to Catherine’s quick thinking, but no one it seemed had seen her all day. Or Vincent for that matter.
“I must have really hurt her.” Jamie wailed to Mary as she sobbed on the older woman’s shoulder, “Oh Mary what can I do?”
“If I were you I would take a cloth covered tray filled with scones to Vincent’s chamber. I’ve a notion that they are holed up in there.”
Jamie’s eyes lit up, “Oh Mary thank you.” And she raced off to collect the plate set aside for her two favourite people, lay the plates upon a tray and covered it with a tea towel before setting off in the direction of Vincent’s chamber.
All was quiet as she approached, and Jamie was disappointed to notice two things as she reached the entrance. Two most unusual things.
“Oh I must really have upset her, if she so obviously doesn’t want to be disturbed.” Jamie mused as she noticed the unlit lantern positioned twenty yards from the chamber to signify required privacy and also the huge curtain that covered the entrance. Another sign she knew that privacy was required within.
“Oh Catherine I’m sorry.” Jamie whispered resolutely ignoring the signs for privacy and shouldering on.
She pushed away the door covering with her back to it as she brought the tray in so that the curtain would not sweep the plates off of the tray, and then stopped dead by the sight that met her eyes.
Vincent and Catherine naked upon his bed, and doing things that she had never seen anyone do in her life, but least of all expected to see done between these two!
Jamie gasped, Vincent roared, Catherine screamed, the tray clattered to the floor, and Jamie vanished like an apparition.
Leaving the bed Vincent padded to the contents of the tray spread over the floor. Miraculously the plates hadn’t broken but the scones had. He took them back to the bed and to Catherine.
“Oh dear, is that our cream tea?” Catherine exclaimed pursing her lips together to keep from laughing.
“It would appear so.” Vincent spoke dryly.
Catherine picked up a crumpled scone. It plopped from her hand and landed in all directions.
“Can anyone play?” Vincent laughed, copying her as he remembered some of the things Devin had enlightened him with.
Catherine laughed out loud, there were strawberries, cream and scone all over her and Vincent had some tantalising portions stuck to his chest hair that she eyed greedily and without thinking leaned in on him to gobble them up.
“Oh I see.” Vincent exclaimed. “Trying to pinch my share are we? Then can I have yours?” His eyes lit up.
“Be my guest.” Catherine looked down at herself, and her eyes widened with desire as the thought of Vincent’s mouth retrieving all the little fragments of scone, cream and strawberries came to mind.
Laughter rang out and around the chamber as they took delight in this new game until the game turned into something much more serious and interesting, and near silence befell the chamber once again as their heightened passions grew.
So engrossed in one another, for a long time neither felt anything but the other, and Vincent was gaining confidence all the while when suddenly Catherine burst into laughter. Vincent stopped in mid stroke, and looking down at her his face registered genuine surprise, hurt and confusion.
“Catherine.” He whispered, “In all my dreams of our joining, I have imagined many things, but not once did I believe that you would laugh at me.”
At his words Catherine’s laughter died, “Oh my love, please believe me I am not laughing at you. What you are doing is perfect, please don’t stop.”
But Vincent continued to look at her sensing that she wasn’t telling him everything, and besides she was squirming beneath him. “Give?” He asked her his voice still troubled.
He did not expect another burst of laughter and was quite taken aback. “Oh Vincent, I’m sorry.” Catherine tried to keep a straight face but she couldn’t it was impossible. She laughed again.
“Whatever is it Catherine? Please tell me?”
“Its not you, don’t worry Vincent, its not that believe me.”
“Then what is it?”
“There’s a strawberry caught in my navel.” Catherine burst into gales of laughter, expecting Vincent to do the same but his next words took her breath clean away.
“I know. I was saving it for later.” He told her seriously as his eyes gazed into hers and the passion ignited in them both once again.
Sombre Catherine said nothing. She drowned in the lagoon of his eyes.
“Now my Catherine can I love you? I have waited for this moment all of my life. This is my dream and nothing but nothing will stop me now.”
And finally, nothing did.
The stories found within this website have been written by and for lovers of the American television series Beauty and the Beast and no infringement upon the rights held by Ron Koslow, CBS, Republic Entertainment, Witt-Thomas Productions or any other Copyright holder to Beauty and the Beast is intended.
Furthermore all the stories found on this website belong to Wendy Tunnard de-Veryard, are protected by copyright and none should be copied, added to or subtracted from or altered in any way, without the prior authorisation of the author.