Father's suspicious mind lead him to do some underhanded things
Standing at the entrance to his son’s chamber, Jacob Wells rubbed a hand over his bristled jaw for the fourth time that week and sighed.
Again…so it had happened again.
A deep breath expelled from Jacob’s lips as he turned and found himself slap bang against Mary who had been right behind him until then.
“What are you doing?” She asked him accusingly, looking past him into the chamber, analysing the situation.
“Vincent’s not been home again.” He told her as if that explained everything.
“He often stays out, Jacob you know that?”
“Yes, and I know he always goes straight to bed. Even if its for a few short hours. Oh I know sometimes he might sit up and make an entry in his journal, but generally…” Jacob’s voice trailed away as he looked thoughtfully back toward his son’s large bed.
“Generally he sleeps in his own bed.” Mary searched Jacob’s eyes, a little annoyed when he confirmed her suspicious with a slow nod. “And what of it, Jacob? Vincent is a grown man and long overdue for a physical relationship. Really it’s none of your business and I’m surprised that you’re letting it be.”
“So, I’m an over concerned parent…I know its none of my business, Mary…I’m just worried that’s all. Vincent’s physical nature in sexual matters might be long overdue but seeing things from a physician’s viewpoint there are things that I hope he has not overlooked.”
“Children you mean?”
“Yes, children!” Jacob almost snapped. Why was it that no body seemed to worry if Vincent produced someone like him or not? Was he the only one that could foresee the problems resulting from such intimacy?
“I’m certain Vincent has given the thought much consideration, but if you are that concerned perhaps you should ask him.” Mary didn’t think for one moment that he would.
He surprised her, “Yes, perhaps I’ll do that. He and Catherine must be made to know that they must not take such risks.”
“If they are having such a relationship.” Mary reasoned. “Maybe you are jumping the gun. There could be any plausible reason as to why Vincent’s bed has not been slept in these past four nights.”
Jacob rounded on her, “Arh so you’ve noticed too have you? It wasn’t just me then?”
Blushing Mary could only nod, she had walked right into that one but really it was all speculation. There could be any number of reasons as to why Vincent’s bed hadn’t needed straightening these last few days. It wasn’t unlike Vincent to make his own bed after all. Although she had to admit that when coming to change the bed linen she had noticed the absence of Vincent’s long hair on his pillow and mattress she had been dubious but she wasn’t about to relate that to Jacob. He’d had his suspicions riled enough without the addition of that.
“I’ll have to speak to him when he comes in, that’s if he ever comes in. I hardly see my son these days. Where he goes during the day I have no idea. That’s if he comes home at all. Ever since he broke his fingers and I allowed him time off work to recuperate, he seems to have taken advantage of the long rest I insisted that he take.”
“Well it sounds as though you will get your chance sooner than anticipated. Listen?” Mary cocked her head to one side as did Jacob hearing the ever- welcome message on the pipes that Vincent had returned home. Unfortunately he was being accompanied by Catherine.
“Maybe I can speak to the both of them.” Jacob looked toward Mary, half expecting reassurance on that score. She failed him, shaking her head and saying, “I don’t fancy your chances. Not to mention the fact that it could be embarrassing. Supposing your wrong?”
“Supposing I’m right!”
“Yes, but they are grown people Jacob, when they need advice they’ll ask for it. If they are not having such a relationship, imagine the embarrassment you will cause them, not to mention yourself. Imagine how hard it would be for them to approach you with any other matter in the future if you make a hash of this situation.”
“Then what can I do, answer me that? I need to know, need to find out if they are sleeping together. Look at the facts, do they not speak for themselves?” Jacob nodded toward his son’s bed, “It’s un-slept in. How can a man of Vincent’s calibre go without sleep for days on end even if he was cat napping in his chair? Listen to them, even from this distance I can hear their laughter. Does that sound to you like someone deprived of sleep?”
Mary could not answer him. The facts did speak for themselves, but they could still be wrong. If anyone knew anything she did, and Mary well knew how sad Catherine had been only last weekend that Vincent still insisted that such physical intimacies were not for them even after all these years together. Still that was last weekend, and in-between Vincent’s bed had remained un-slept in for half a week.
Taking Jacob by the arm, Mary guided him away from Vincent’s chamber lest the couple saw them there on their arrival and only just in time too. Arriving back at Father’s chamber by a hair’s breadth before Vincent and Catherine entered arm in arm.
“Hello Father, Mary.” Catherine made her way down the steps as Vincent bade her enter ahead of him. “Are you well?”
“Yes.” Mary answered for the two of them, well aware that Jacob was near boiling point directly behind her.
“Did you sleep well?” Catherine peered around Mary, directing her question at Father, who retorted as though a red rag had been held before a bull.
“Did you!” He snapped.
Cautiously, Catherine turned concerned eyes to Vincent. They had been warned on their way in that Father had spent half the night wandering the tunnels, but would give no one reason for his doing so.
“Yes.” Vincent stepped forward his intention to place a comforting arm around his father’s shoulders as he went on, “Catherine and I slept very well thank you, Father. However, it would appear that you did not. What troubles you so? I hear that you were up half the night wandering the tunnels. That is so unlike you.”
Father backed away, refusing the comfort Vincent offered, his eyes hostile, “How did you hear? Who told you?”
“Pascal sent word to Catherine’s apartment…”
”And that’s why you’re here? You spend days away unconcerned for my welfare then once you hear that I am in turmoil you come galloping to see what’s wrong! I could have died, would you have cared! I could have been calling out for you, I could have fallen anything, needed you, and where would I have found you…huh…tell me that? Where would I have found you…for a certainty not in your chamber…not in your bed!”
Vincent’s anger rose and fell at the obvious insinuations coming from his parent and in a voice whispered with tempered emotion Vincent replied, “What is it you are trying to say, Father? For a certainty you give the distinct impression that your welfare is not the issue here…rather…” Vincent’s eyes glinted malice as he went on, “What is it you actually want to know?”
“Know? Know? You ask me that…when the truth is right before my very eyes!” Jacob fumed shaking off Mary’s arm as she desperately tried to still him.
“What truth?” Vincent’s tone was flat now, guarded. His eyes mere slits as he waited for his father’s response. Whatever his father believed, he was wrong, and Vincent was furious that his father could even think it of him. Hadn’t they discussed this a thousand times and decided that such things were not for him? But now in front of Catherine - how could Father even attempt to bring it up.
“You’re bed hasn’t been slept in for half a week!” Jacob flared expecting that something in his son’s eyes would give away the truth even if his mouth denied it.
He was disappointed. All he found in those twin blue orbs was fury, dismay, disgust and Jacob looked away, unable to see for himself the distress in his son’s expressive eyes. All those conversations they had shared, all those private talks had been for nothing. Father had brought out into the open a topic that Vincent had never been able to discuss with Catherine, and now she had heard it from his father’s own mouth.
“I can explain that…” Catherine stepped forward, one hand tenderly placed upon Vincent’s arm, understanding as only she could the tension and the embarrassment mounting by Father’s suspicious mind…”It’s not what it seems…”
“I bet its not!” Father sneered “In fact I bet you’ve got just what you’ve always wanted, you little….
“Father!” A roar sounded throughout the chamber even as Vincent positioned himself between his parent and the woman that he loved, “I will not have you attack Catherine like that. Apologise!”
“I will not!”
“Then we have no place here until you do, come Catherine.”
Striding from the chamber, Vincent turned to find his ladylove hesitating unsure as what to do. She wanted to explain to Father, get him to see that it was not the way it looked - that there was a perfectly plausible explanation… However, she couldn’t deny that Father was half right, Vincent had been sleeping in her bed…the thing was, most unfortunately, she had never been in it at the time.
“Catherine?” From the entranceway Vincent called her.
Shrugging and mumbling an apology to Father that fell on deaf ears, Catherine turned and made her way hastily to Vincent’s side. Together they left the chamber and the couple within gazing after them.
“I see you handled that in your usual style.” Mary snapped, “Well done Jacob!”
Scooping up the dirty linen she had been collecting Mary headed for the way out also. She found it impossible to say another word, she was so furious with the patriarch of the tunnels. He had put his foot in it big time as far as she was concerned. If Vincent and Catherine ever forgave him, it would be a miracle.
Alone again, Father surveyed his own chamber, the stripped bed, the neatly folded sheets that Mary would spread upon the bed later and he realised one very important fact. She had known! Mary had known, though she hadn’t said, she too harboured the same suspicions, or else if not, why had she not taken the sheets from Vincent’s bed? Hastily, Father made his way to his son’s quarters, listening intently for any sounds within before he ventured inside.
No, Mary had not stripped Vincent’s bed. Then she too had noticed that it had not been slept in. Somewhat happier that he had an ally if only a silent one, Father had an idea. Well if it was proof she needed to back him then proof she would get. He searched the room, knowing he needed something Vincent would miss.
Spying his latest journal Father picked it up and placed it between the sheets of Vincent’s bed. He smiled smugly to himself, ‘now then Mary, we’ll see whose imagining things. If Vincent is sleeping in his own bed he will discover his journal there. If he can’t find his journal we will know without a shadow of a doubt that he is sleeping elsewhere…and it won’t take a genius to know where.’ Satisfied with his own deviousness, Father returned to his chamber. The next time he saw his son he would know whether it was right to challenge him on the subject of physical intimacies with Catherine or not. Next time he would have the upper hand.
Smug Father poured himself a cup of herbal tea and with a chuckle imagined how Vincent would get out of that one.
*** *** ***
Mary met them in the dining room - both appeared glum. Catherine especially looked sad, while traces of anger remained in the appearance of Vincent’s features. His eyes angry, his jaw firm and set. His shoulders rigid against the back of the bench. The way both held their own company, neither touching the other as were their custom. For even in public Vincent and Catherine would at least hold hands. Mary felt decidedly sad that they sat so close yet so far apart. She slid herself onto the bench next to Vincent.
“Try not to let him get to you, Vincent. He’s got this physician’s bee in his bonnet and he wont let it go. He just cares about you, you know that?”
“Physician my foot! He’s a nosy old bastard…”
Eyes wide, mouths agape, both Mary and Catherine stared at Vincent incredulously. Never had they heard Vincent speak such language!
“He worries about us.” Catherine told her love with a whispered sigh, “He assumes that we…”
“I know what he assumes!” Vincent turned to her his eyes flashing, “And he should know that will never happen!”
Catherine cowered, lowering her lids and turning her face from his. Only Mary seemed to notice and placed one hand over Catherine’s as she rested them on the table. A gentle squeeze reminded the younger woman that she had a confidante in Mary except on this occasion she wished it had been Vincent. Tears scorched her eyes, more and more as Vincent holding a tight reign upon the Bond, seemed not to notice her burgeoning emotions.
The dining room became awfully stuffy, the world below awfully claustrophobic and with a wan smile at Mary, Catherine stood and said, “Will you take me home, Vincent?”
Yet Vincent did not seem to hear her so lost was he in his own feelings of the encounter with Father. Catherine sighed heavily turning to Mary, “When he comes back to earth Mary, tell him to come and up to see me will you?” With that she left Vincent brooding and went toward the tunnels that would lead her back to the location beneath her apartment building. It was hard to imagine that just a short hour ago, they had arrived in such high spirits, with such good news to impart. Now none of it seemed important. In fact much of it seemed lost to her now. Sometimes she wondered if it were all worth it. The secret life she was forced to lead, the love that she felt for Vincent so obviously going nowhere. All the contact she had lost with her friends all the opportunities she had missed for promotion in her job…for what? For a dream that might never come true?
Remembering the last few days…well it seemed to Catherine that they too had been a dream…a fantasy of what might be…now snatched from beneath her feet as impossible.
All that planning gone to waste all that hoping amounting to nothing and not for what Father had implied, but for what Vincent had insisted. The absolute conviction in his tone that such things between them would never come to pass. That’s what hurt the most. Catherine had to face the fact that she was indeed wasting away her life, hoping for things that just would never happen. She’d been a fool to ever believe that they might. Yet these last few days…she could remember them so clearly…tears formed and ran unchecked down her cheeks as she brought to mind all that had taken place right here in her apartment…
It had all began when…
‘ Vincent, I have something to ask you. What do the tunnel folk do for Valentine’s Day? I mean has there ever been a Valentine’s Dance below?”
They had been sitting quietly inside his chamber when Catherine, her mind very much on the coming event in two weeks time had turned her attention to the Valentine’s Dance Joe had, tongue in cheek, asked her to only that morning. Of course she had declined. That special day was reserved for the love of her life, but it had got her thinking…if only she could take Vincent to a Valentine’s Day dance.
“Apart from Winterfest, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Naming Celebrations and Weddings, it is very unusual for us to celebrate anything else below. Certainly not Valentine’s Day. That occasion is generally a private affair for the couples involved. Why do you ask?”
“I can remember being unattached and hoping to find my beau at a Valentine’s Dance. Its not always for couples Vincent, such an occasion also brings people together.”
“Does there have to be an addition?”
“I feel my Catherine, that you are about to impart one.” Vincent grinned feeling through their bond that Catherine was growing more and more excited by the second about something on her mind.
“Well yes, there is as it happens.” She shot him a look that said ‘Mr. Know it all’ before continuing, “What if we held a secret Valentine’s Dance for the tunnel folk. What do you think?”
“Might be hard to pull off. While each of us maintain the biggest secret just by living here, something being organised like that might not go unnoticed.”
“It would if we organise it above.” Catherine’s enthusiasm was infectious.
“What do you have in mind?”
“A fancy dress Valentine’s Dance. Think of it Vincent!” Catherine’s eyes were bright with joy, “If everyone dressed up, it would be easy not just for you to attend, but for any one person to approach another. Perhaps someone that they have had affection for, for some time, but been too afraid to do anything about it. Behind a mask or a disguise people can be anything that they want to be. Can ask anything that they want to ask. It would be wonderful if we could arrange something like that, and there are so many new families below now, families that would benefit from such a joyous occasion…do you think we could arrange it between us?”
“Between us, as in you and I?”
“Well yes, but we couldn’t hold it at the home chambers. It would have to be held away from there, lest someone discovers what we are doing.”
“The idea is a sound one, Catherine, yet several of the newcomers to our family are already struggling to be understood. They might find themselves out on a limb at such a gathering.”
“The Spanish families you mean?”
“Yes. Many of us are frustrated that we cannot converse with these people. It seems such a shame. Of all the language classes that have been taught below, Spanish has never been one of them. It wouldn’t be fair to expect these people to be denied the chance to mingle with us, just because we have no interpreter available.”
“Mmm, I see your point. But I think I have the answer to that also.” She laughed gaily making Vincent’s eyes crease at the corners as he grinned at her in expectation of what she would next say.
“You told me that you are capable of picking up languages unusually quicker than most people?”
“Yes, usually, but two weeks Catherine. I would have to be at it night and day.”
“Well you certainly have no excuses for time. With your fingers strapped and Father insisting that you rest to mend them, it could be possible.”
“Yes, it could, providing you realise that I will have my nose in a book for the best part of the next two weeks, and then that will leave you to organise the entire event by yourself.”
“Hmm!” Catherine exhaled a deep breath of exasperation that ruffled her fringe. “Still,” she jumped up excitedly, “there is a way!”
“There is?” Vincent, bright eyed and caught up totally with the whole affair waited eagerly for her to continue.
“You can live with me!” Her eyebrows shot up enticingly, suggestively before she quickly explained. “I’ve seen them down at the library, ‘learn Spanish, Italian, French, German, you name it they’ve got it, in eight days. I don’t suppose it’s the full language, but the basics to get one by on vacation to such countries. At least with such knowledge we wouldn’t be completely in the dark, and then everyone can be invited!”
She paused allowing the information to sink in before continuing, “The lessons are made up of audio and video tapes as well as guide books. If you were up at the apartment you could listen to them day and night thus lessening the time it takes to master the language by half. And you could stay at the apartment too, I’m sure I could get used to that pretty quickly again she arched an eyebrow suggestively giggling when Vincent had the grace to blush. “And as I am out in the day you could sleep in my bed and when I get home we could work on the organisation of the event together and during the night while I sleep you could work on the Spanish lessons. What do you say? Do you think we could pull it off?”
Her excitement was such that Vincent didn’t dare refuse her. Being in such close proximity with his Catherine might pose problems, but if they alternated the sleeping arrangements what could possibly happen? Neither would be in a state of undress at any given time around the other. It could work, more importantly it was to the good of the community, so they had to make it work.
“Alright Catherine, we’ll do it. When should we start?”
“Is now too soon. That is, we could hunt for the location to hold the dance and work from there. I can get those recordings from the library this afternoon, and you could stay above from tonight.”
Enthusiastically, Vincent nodded. Now caught up in the excitement of the affair, he was looking forward to it immensely. And surely he could bare four days, four undivided days living up above in Catherine’s apartment, after all she wouldn’t be there all of the time. He was certain he could cope.’
*** *** ***
And cope he had, even with Catherine’s personal belongings around him. Even when he used the bathroom and found her drying washing draped over a line across the bath. Even when he found his claws renting his palm as he clenched the fingers of his uninjured hand at the sight of her silky panties and skimpy bra tops hanging there reminding him of the glimpses he had seen of them beneath a sheer silk robe, or the rising images of his imagination of visualising his Catherine wearing such garments. Or the day when he had passed by her bedside cabinet and had seen the entry in her diary left upturned and unopened at yesterday’s page. How he had tried to ignore the words jumping out at him, but how he had looked anyway and seen and read the words of longing thereon a longing toward him and toward a life together, toward an intimate physical life together. Yes he had endured all of those things because he was there not for himself, not for Catherine, but for the good of the tunnel community and because he had promised Catherine that he would help her arrange everything during the time of his stay above.
Well now as he made his way toward his chamber, despite Mary’s message from Catherine to meet her above, Vincent knew that he couldn’t go back there tonight. Not now, not with Father’s suspicious hanging over them. It would be all too embarrassing. Besides, he knew how Catherine felt, knew that for which she yearned and he also knew that those things were impossible for them. So if she held any hopes that this coming event would bring them closer together in that way, then she would be disappointed. Vincent even contemplated not attending rather than have to spell it out for her yet again. Such things for him could never be. And that was simply the way of it, as sad as it made him feel. He could offer Catherine nothing but his unending platonic love and no more.
*** *** ***
He wasn’t coming. Standing arms folded Catherine searched avidly for any sign of movement that would herald to her that Vincent was approaching her apartment building from across the park. Though the trees rustled and though the odd figure was sighted, Catherine knew that none of it had anything to do with Vincent. Simply the Bond told her that he wasn’t coming, that Father had a lot to answer for, but also that Vincent too should share the blame.
Such joy they had spent these past four days, such homeliness, such good company. In that time Vincent had mastered a varied degree in Spanish, he could certainly hold a conversation stilted though it might be, and he knew enough of the basics to teach the children a little of it before the day of the Valentine’s Dance arrived.
It was hard to imagine that some misguided notion of an old man had altered all of that. Even harder to imagine that Vincent could believe him. Hard to accept that there was a very real possibility that her dreams of a future with the man hat she loved had shattered into a million fragments. Hard to accept that the dream had just died.
If only he had come. If only he had come to say it didn’t matter. That someday things might happen, that someday he might be able to believe it when she told him ‘you could never hurt me, Vincent.’ When she had begged him to love her.
She could believe in perhap’s, could believe in maybe’s. But she could not and would not accept the inevitable fact that Vincent so believed in the present stream of time. That such things were impossible, would always be impossible because of who he was.
Walking back into her apartment, Catherine caught sight of the telephone and for some reason she thought of Joe. He still hadn’t given up on asking her to his Valentines Dance. Briefly Catherine contemplated picking up the receiver calling him and accepting his offer. But only briefly. She hadn’t fought hard enough for what she believed in. Grim determination filled her heart as she decided instead to go below. If she didn’t tell Vincent exactly what she had in mind how was he ever supposed to know? Oh asking him to love her might edge around the situation but it was explicit enough, and Catherine was certain that Vincent did desire her. He had to be made to see that though different he was still acceptable to her, she would deny him nothing. She loved him totally, and knew that he could never hurt her, even if he should ever give in to the passionate side of him that she knew had always existed. Whether he was too blind, ignorant or stubborn to acknowledge its existence remained to be seen, but she had to at least try to unearth it for both their sakes.
And sod Father, if he tried to get in her way, well she would be ready for him. Nothing or no one would lose her her man without a fight. Thus determined, Catherine reached for her jacket and keys and left her apartment lighter of step and mood than she had been mere moments before.
*** *** ***
Mary, have you moved my journal?” Vincent peered around the chamber for the hundredth time that evening and prayed that she knew where he could lay his hands on it.
“No, Vincent, sorry. Where did you leave it?”
“On my desk. Has anyone been inside my chamber today do you know?”
“Only Father. He came looking for you, but we were both here together. I never saw him touch it.”
“Thank you Mary, I’ll ask him anyway.” Amazed Mary watched the young man go, a firm set to his shoulders that warranted no nonsense, she hoped Jacob was equally as prepared. This could bring about pistols at dawn if neither were careful.
Hurrying behind him, Mary eavesdropped outside Jacob’s chamber, something she would never ordinarily do, but had on occasions when she sensed possible disaster within.
“Father, have you seen my journal?” Vincent plunged into his request without his usual primarily greeting.
Stopping what he was doing, which was stacking the boiler, Father straightened and scrutinised his son with a sceptical expression in his eyes, but answered his son with a question of his own. “Are you staying out tonight as well, Vincent?”
Taken aback for a few moments Vincent was speechless, then exploded, “And what if I am?” To which Father replied, “And what if I’ve seen your journal?”
Vincent relented. His journal was important to him. It wouldn’t do for it to fall into the wrong hands. So many of his private thoughts and feelings had been written there so much about Catherine, his love of her and for her. His needs, desires, his passion. His shame and his humiliation that one such as he could have such dreams of a union with one as beautiful as Catherine. He had to find that journal and fast…and if Father knew where it was?
“I had intended to stay home tonight.” Vincent replied holding tight his temper.
“Then I’m sure you will find your journal.” Father replied, bending again to the stove, thus dismissing his son.
Vincent remained where he was for a long time. It was no answer, yet he was certain it was. He knew from Father’s body language that the old man had given him a clue, but Vincent could not fathom it. Perhaps he meant that by staying home, he would have the time to search for his journal. Unsure, yet unable to question his parent further, Vincent turned and left his father’s chamber, heading back toward his own.
He’s only been gone mere minutes yet on turning the final bend to enter his chamber Vincent was stunned to find Catherine there waiting for him. He sensed her nervousness, yet was dismayed that he had not sensed her arrival. Was he so wrapped up in his own affairs that he had ignored their connection. He could clearly see that she was agitated. “Catherine, what’s wrong? Has something frightened you?”
“Yes.” Catherine hadn’t intended to blurt it out like that, but she was sick of opportunities lost for the sake of keeping the peace. “You have.”
Taken aback, Vincent stumbled grasping hold of the nearest object at hand that happened to be the heavy drape covering his chamber entrance. It fell, dust and all, showing the few times he had used it, blocking off his quarters from a would be audience outside.
“I’ve frightened you!” Hoarsely Vincent asked the question dismayed when Catherine nodded. “How, Catherine, please explain, how have I hurt you?”
“Vincent, there is something I must say to you. Must explain to you.” Approaching him slowly Catherine’s eyes never left his. She knew she had worried him greatly it was visible by the rapid rise and fall of his chest, the increased panting of his breathing. Still she had come too far to back down now. Peace or no peace she had something to tell him, and God damn it she would tell him now.
“What?” Vincent spoke nervously. A thousand and one thoughts raced for supremacy in his mind, galloping on thunderous hooves obliterating the one in its wake for something worse, something more sinister than the first. How had he frightened her? He had done nothing that he cold think of, and certainly not what he always maintained would frighten her away.
“You have frightened me Vincent, but refusing to love me.”
“I…” Obviously at a loss to her meaning Vincent could only stutter and stare as she continued, “Today, when Father presented his little outburst I came to know just how you view our relationship.” Stepping closer Catherine reached out a hand and gingerly laying it above the erratic beating of his great and mighty heart went on, “I love you. Vincent, I have a dream that one day you will love me too.”
“I do love you, Catherine.”
“I know, but it would seem not in the way that I need you to love me.” Her emerald eyes were near to tears as she searched the twin blue pools of his. “In the past when I have asked you to love me Vincent, and you have adamantly refused, I have been left unsure as to whether you actually knew what I was asking of you. Can you tell me now?”
A great sigh left Vincent’s lips even as he drew her closer to him, pressed her cheek to his chest, kissed the top of her head, “Yes. I know you tried to make it easier for me Catherine, by wording it such, but I have always known that you were referring to our making love together.” He drew back from her, studied her face held in the palms of his hands, and spoke earnestly, “Nothing would please me more than to share this with you, know that Catherine, but it is impossible. We are too different. What I am is not a mask or a disguise that hides a prince from your view. Be that it was, I would be the happiest man alive to accept what you offer. But Catherine, it cannot be. Sad as it is, I cannot offer you that kind of love and…” He swallowed with difficulty, “if you find that you cannot live without this in your life then it is best that you leave me, find someone else to love…for I cannot be what you want me to be.” He choked on the last few words, his emotion coming thick and fast as he pulled her back into his arms as if this would be the last time he would ever hold her close.
Catherine remained silent. She knew it were possible. And Father, try as he might to instil the belief that it was not into his son, also knew that it was possible. Why else did he believe that it had already happened? In fact what was Father so afraid of? The fact that his son might make love to a woman or the fact that the woman might leave him and break his heart after the event?
“Father believes it is a possibility.” Catherine whispered, she thought to herself, surprised when Vincent pulled her away from him once more searching her eyes. “When did he say this?”
For second Catherine was at a loss to understand the question, then realising she replied, “Isn’t this afternoon proof of that?”
“Just an old man’s wild speculation, Catherine. Besides which being a physician he thinks differently. Not only that he knows as well as I, that making love to you is not an option, it’s an impossibility.”
Rubbing her brow, Catherine fought a raging headache in the bid to disguise it from Vincent, but right at that moment the bond was open wide between them. He had to know she was accepting his words. It would be too embarrassing to confront them again.
“Come, lie down. I’ll have Mary bring you a tablet for the pain, its probably just stress and tension, an anti-inflammatory should do the trick.”
About to refuse Catherine relented and allowed Vincent to lift her swiftly and surely into his arms carry her to his bed and lie her down upon it, “Ouch.” Catherine rolled from the spot he had laid her, “Vincent when did you take to placing bricks in your bed?”
“Bricks?” Clearly confused Vincent reached over to glide his hand over the bed, and sure enough there was a lump inside. A brick shaped lump. Placing his hand beneath the covers, he grasped the object and extracted from the bed (and to his amazement) his journal of all things!
Drawing his brows together, Father’s earlier words rose to remind him and to enlighten him that his father had set the booby trap for one reason only. And Vincent was furious!
“Wait here, Catherine.” Striding from his chamber, Vincent made his way to Father’s his journal tucked firmly under one arm, and rounding the chamber entered without greeting, launching straight into his verbal attack causing Father to practically kill himself as he cracked his head upon the flap of the bureau he had been sorting books beneath.
“What do you call this!!!” Vincent flared pulling the journal from beneath his arm to hold it under his father’s nose.
It took all of his will power not to blush as Father replied, “Oh good, you found it, where might I ask was it?”
“You know damn well where it was! Because you put it there. Still I expect you have no idea how to make apple turnover beds, so you resort to making me go out of my mind to prove a point instead. Father how could you!”
“Apple turnovers? Vincent, have you taken leave of your senses? Why would I resort to placing apple turnovers or any pastries inside your bed?” Father almost smiled at the suggestion that he would do such a thing.
“For your information, Father…” Vincent sniped, “An apple turnover bed is a art of folding sheets in such a way that the weary one slips only so far into the bed before ripping the sheets with his feet. It’s a booby trap usually carried out by children or fools…and since you have long left childhood one can be forgiven for labelling you with the other, Father.”
“How dare you! You can take that back, I am neither a child nor a fool, and besides I did not use an apple turnover as you can see…” his voice trailed away as he realised he had just admitted to his crime. Vincent glared at him, “Why, Father? Just tell me why?
“You wouldn’t tell me the truth. You expect me to believe that you can spend four nights above and not be sleeping with Catherine? I want only what’s good for you, Vincent. I want only to be notified of such things, not because I am nosy but rather because if you are making love with Catherine, you will need some suitable contraception, and you might not have thought of that. Well have you?”
“I thought as much…well then maybe you’ll allow me to…”
“I’ve not thought of it, Father, because Catherine and I do not have such a relationship. What might appear to be suspicious circumstances could so easily be something else, and is in fact something else. How many times have you admonished to me that such a relationship with Catherine would be wrong and impossible?”
“Yes, well…I have to admit those conversations have arisen, but Vincent you have to remember we spoke of them a long time ago. As I remember within the first two years of Catherine entering your life. During such times that I was unwilling to accept her in your life…”
“What are you saying, Father, that your opinions have altered?”
For a few moments silence ensued, but finally Father nodded, “Yes, Vincent. I think I am saying that. I know now that Catherine would never hurt you, and I think that it is impossible that you would injure her. You once asked me if you were a man, I replied that part of you was. At that time, I had not experienced the companionship the love and affection displayed by you and to you with Catherine, and now I firmly believe that such things are possible for you, and if you were to ask me again whether I thought you were a man, I would reply with a definite yes. Yes, Vincent you are a man, a little different maybe, but then we are all different in some ways, some not as noticeable, some not as apparent, but we all have our differences, and we all have to accept our limitations. The limit for you would be the impossibility of fathering a child, but never the impossibility of making love with a beautiful woman that so obviously hungers for your love among other things.” A chuckle escaped Jacob unbidden, and even Vincent had the grace to smile.
Silence befell them as each watched the other. Vincent letting Father’s words sink in, Father hopeful that his son would take that little speech to heart. Finally Vincent told him, “It still didn’t give you the right to be so devious as to put this into my bed. Why had Catherine not have found it I might still be searching for it.”
Father’s eyebrows raised with interest, “Catherine found it?”
“Yes, and before you go thinking something you ought not, I lay her down onto my bed as she has a headache…oh! I’m supposed to be fetching her a tablet to relieve it.” Suddenly Vincent looked guilty, that during the past few minutes he had forgotten all about his love lying upon his bed waiting for his return. No doubt her headache had grown in leaps and bounds by now. He felt terrible.
“Here.” Father, told him reaching into his medical bag for the pain killers in question, “tell her to take two of these with water.” Vincent fairly snatched then out of Father’s palm and raced back to his chamber, rounding the final bend in haste only to find his Catherine sound asleep not on top of his bed as he had left her, but snug and cosy inside it.
He looked at her with longing, looked at her lying there with new eyes. He had a lot to think about and a lot to write about, and taking his journal he made his way to his desk to do just that. Even so, a grim determination filled his heart to repay Father for his cunning, for the booby trap that backfired but still brought about the results he intended by being able to discuss things with his son. Nevertheless, Vincent had spent a wretched afternoon searching for his journal and he intended to pay Father back for that by hook or by crook. One way or another Father would be taught a lesson he would never forget for not touching the personal belongings of other people no matter the reason for doing so.
*** *** ***
A week passed. A very productive week as far as Vincent and Catherine were concerned as they made the final arrangements for their surprise party and even had out of town caterers deliver the food to Central Park where they supposed the event would be held in a marquee, in order to give William the day off from cooking so that he might be able to join in the fun too. Knowing that there were plenty of disguises below left over from various stage productions by the tunnel dwellers, Vincent and Catherine had no qualms about springing the party on the community the evening before Valentine’s Day arrived and they were overwhelmed by the happiness such a surprise brought to everyone. Already, in the few short hours that they had handed out the invitations the tunnels were a hive of activity with only one person left in the dark just as Vincent had instructed. Namely, Father.
In fact oblivious of the activity around him, Father prepared for another night in his chair, waiting up until he heard the news that his son was safely home. Mary scoffed at his over possessiveness toward a grown man, Vincent had explained on many an occasion that if he wasn’t with Catherine and he wasn’t at home then he was simply with a helper, and that if something awful had happened to him, nothing Father could do sitting in his chair would prevent it, and Catherine would soon know of it and inform everyone and the search would begin. The amount of times, Vincent had tried to get his parent to take advantage of the bond he shared with Catherine and go to bed rather than wait up for him, Vincent had lost count of. But these last few weeks he had grown even worse. Though of course Father always maintained, that he never waited up, that of course he went to bed, that of course he had relinquished his hold upon a grown son, that of course he did not worry unduly when that son stayed out all night. Vincent never believed him though. He knew that Father just quickly climbed into bed the moment the pipes announced Vincent’s return home, for with his keen sense of smell Vincent always detected the recently snuffed out candles in Father’s chamber indicating his father’s prompt climb into bed just moments before. Sometimes he almost laughed out loud at Father’s snores, knowing them to be fake. Well enough was enough, Vincent would kill two birds with one stone this night, this eve of Valentine’s Day, for he would set his own booby trap, and his dear father would fall right on in to it. Vincent could hardly wait. Retribution was so sweet!
*** *** ***
Father put down his book that he had been reading for the best part of the night and early hours of the morning and glanced at his clock. It was almost eleven and okay so it was Sunday and many times the community would sleep in on a Sunday, but usually by now he had seen someone. Or at least heard something. He listened intently, rubbing his ears sure they were blocked with wax, because he could hear nothing. Even the pipes were silent. Was he dreaming?
Looking over to his bed, he knew he was not. His bed had not been slept in, not last night nor the night before. In fact only twice in one week had he actually lay himself down upon it and promptly fallen fast asleep. His heart had been troubled this past few days, Vincent on the rare occasions he had come home from above had raked him over the hot coals about waiting up for him, about the necessity of such an act, about how he needed his rest, how he needed to lie down to rest his body and his hip and how a chair was just not good enough for a thoroughly good sleep. But Father had denied Vincent time and time again, insisting that he did go to bed, just a long time after every one else, that he didn’t wait up for Vincent’s return, that he no longer worried so incessantly about his son’s safety that he knew Catherine would tell him the moment anything was wrong. He told Vincent all those things, but both knew that none of it was true. The latter maybe, Father held some regard for knowing Catherine would tell him if anything were wrong, but not the rest. It would be a long time before he admitted to any of that, besides it was a parent’s prerogative to worry was it not?
Still Father knew as did Vincent, that prerogative or not, it did not give him the right to tell lies. How could he expect the children to be truthful if he did not set the example? Just as importantly how could he expect Vincent to confide in him if he tried to hide the truth from his son? And for what? For the discomfort of someone knowing that he cared that little too much? That was it really wasn’t it? Father, the aloof one, the patriarch of the tunnels, leader of all their domain, it would do his reputation no good at all if the community found him out to be a soft touch. That he was a person still worrying over a grown man who was trying to live his own life. Father hoped to keep that part of his person very much a secret though a tiny part of him acknowledged yet refused to accept that everyone probably knew of it anyway.
Twelve o’clock came and went, and Father’s stomach began to rumble. Mary had left him a tray of breakfast sometime around eight o’clock, and that was the last time he had known anyone had entered his chamber, though he had been dozing at the time.
It was strange that no one had tapped out a message by now, and Father pinched himself sure that he must be dreaming. The pinch hurt, brought a welt to his skin that was impossible to ignore, and so reaching for his cane, Father rose from his chair and walked slowly out of his chamber with the intention of going to the dining room for something to eat.
That too was strange. As he neared the kitchen, no welcome scents wafted to meet him. No idle chatter presented itself to his ears. He knew that the dining room was empty even before he peered around the entrance. No lunch. No diners and no William…and that was the strangest thing of all. William seldom left the kitchen!
Following the tunnels Father peeped one by one into the chambers as he passed by, his curiosity and his fear increasing as he found each one empty. There had been a grand exodus and he had not known of it. Had he slept through it? Had he been so tired that he had not heard the warning? Was he even now in danger? Had someone entered the tunnels, someone dangerous? He dismissed this the moment the thought presented itself, Vincent would not allow that to happen…but wait! If Vincent had been above? Fear coursed through Father like a cheater gaining ground on a sure footed gazelle. Sweat broke out on his brow and undecided he did not know whether to tap on the pipes in the hope of alerting someone to his peril or refraining from doing so in case of alerting the wrong people to his plight.
Where was everyone! They wouldn’t have left him. They couldn’t, surely not. Mary at least, she would have come for him. Woken him. His heart beat erratically sounding in his ears like some mighty steam engine roaring along its track.
If everyone had gone above, maybe he should too. Maybe Catherine would know! His heart leapt at the possibility, and quickly he hobbled to his chamber to don his above clothes, hoping that no one would come up behind him and cosh him on the head while his back was turned toward the wardrobe where he kept his outdoor clothing. His forties style suit and hat. His memories of the world above, of his life with Margaret, of all the things he had once held dear.
Suddenly everything became too much for him. The sight of his past, the present and the future, his weary limbs protesting for night after night spent cramped in a chair. His bed looked awfully enticing, and the uncanny silence unknown to the tunnel world wrapped itself around him. Just a moment then, for just a few minutes he would lie down, take stock of the situation, think things through rationally. No one would enter the tunnels and threaten it, for with or without Vincent, they had sentries that would alert him, everyone to that fact. Mouse alone had his own security system, one that worked so no one would make everyone leave, and even if they did, they would not leave him behind. Someone would think of him surely? Surely someone would.
It hurt to think that each would consider another would inform Father, that none would check that he was with them when they assembled above, that Vincent, or Catherine, or Mouse or Mary would not ask where he was. It hurt that a possibility like that could occur, and with tears trickling down his cheeks Father reached beneath his pillow for the handkerchief he expected to be there. It was laced with eucalyptus and he needed it often to clear his stuffy nose. Few people knew that he was allergic to some kinds of dust and down here they had an abundance. Instead what he withdrew was a slim white card, with gold lettering edged in blue, the words of which swam before his eyes as he tried to read them. He found the handkerchief and wiping away his tears, he transferred his spectacles from off the bedside table onto the bridge of his nose and began to read the words thereon;
You are cordially invited…
To Vincent & Catherine’s Valentine Dance
Quickly getting to his feet, Father checked his calendar. Today was the 14th. So that’s where they were! But what a place to stow his invite! He might never have found it there…reality dawned slowly…as he realised ordinarily he would have found it there…had he of slept in his bed as he had insisted that he did.
To be held on Level J
On Sunday 14th February
At 9 am to 9 pm
A twelve hour bash of fancy dress fun.
Please come, Father.
Vincent of course would have known this. He had called his bluff and he had won. Graciously Father replaced his forties style suit and then took it back out again. The invite said it was a fancy dress party, well he may as well use this as anything else, and it would be good to have an excuse to wear it again. And he found he was rather looking forward to turning up in it, to turning up at all, even though he was well aware of the look Vincent would give him…yes he could see it now…Gotchya…oh well what the heck…
*** *** ***
“May I have this dance, Juliana?” Vincent bowed before the pretty girl speaking to her in fluent Spanish. Father was impressed, nudging Catherine as they gazed at the couple now heading arm in arm toward the dance floor.
”Where ever did Vincent learn to speak Spanish, do you know Catherine?”
“Yes Father, in my apartment over the last two weeks. He actually learned the basics in four nights using the video and audio cassette in the living room while I slept.”
Father caught her meaning and blushed beat red, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”
“And you didn’t want to know from what I hear of it.” Catherine retorted even though she squeezed his arm affectionately. “Although I have to admit I have you to thank for your suspicious mind.”
“You do?” Father’s merry eyes twinkled.
“Yes, but my lips are sealed. However all will be revealed within the hour.”
“Within the hour?” Father checked his fob watch. It was eight o’clock in the evening, another hour and the Valentine Dance would be over, not that he would complain, after spending the past eight hours on his feet dancing for the most of it, his bed beckoned to him more than it had in his life. Still he was happy, and even having to face his son and admit that he hadn’t been going to sleep in his bed had been worth it to partake of all of this. The food had been delicious, even William said so as he broke apart each morsel trying to establish the ingredients with the hope of producing such fare in his own kitchen starting tomorrow.
And so many people had paired off as the event had progressed. Behind their disguises it was difficult to tell who was who, and maybe he would have a fit if he knew, but he didn’t seem to mind, that was the funny thing, but then perhaps that was because so many women had danced with him and he had even received kisses from one or two. He even suspected that someone had laced the punch as well, but what did it matter? Everyone was having such a good time.
As the evening wound down and Vincent finally stopped dancing with everyone in the room but Catherine, Father was aware of a sudden hush befalling the joyful gatherers…almost as if they waited in expectation of something marvellous…something only hinted at…
“Catherine…” Vincent stood before his lady-love, his eyes a soft blue, filled with love…filled with longing…”Will you be my Valentine?”
Silence befell the chamber, each waiting breathlessly for Catherine’s reply, gasping when it came, “Valentine’s Day is almost over my love…however, our future is not…Vincent, will you marry me?”
A pin could be heard to drop, the silence so thick, so still as everyone in the chamber waited heart in mouth, hoping against hope that Vincent’s reply would bring this wonderful day to an amazing overwhelming fabulous conclusion…
“Yes, my Catherine, I would be honoured to marry you.”
There was not a single dry eye among all of their dear friends man woman or child, not even a Mouse…
And it was Father who finally spoke, being the first to congratulate his son, and the woman that he loved, and knowing without a doubt that he would no longer need worry about Vincent. He had learned his lesson. Vincent would be from now on, safe…did he say safe? He chuckled at his wit but he knew the truth of it still… yes now his son would be safe…safe in Catherine’s loving hands.
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.