What’s happened to Catherine?
For watch out Vincent, look out Joe if Catherine grabs you, she'll not let go!
There's Always Tomorrow
Filled with the sound of carefree chatter, and the occasional burst of loud laughter the large conference come function room was full of the general hustle and bustle of people mingling together, enjoying one another’s company. Waitresses in short black dresses trimmed with white lace and carrying trays filled with long stem glasses of champagne drifted in and out of the people standing in small groups around the room, and allowed anyone that wished to take a glass of the pink liquid in passing.*** *** ***
“Penny for them Radcliffe.” Catherine was brought back to earth by Joe’s gentle teasing, his warm brown eyes filled with mischief. He laughed, “I know there’s better things in life than the mayor’s annual dinner/dance, but you could at least look interested.”
Catherine’s face brightened, “It is a bit dismal this year. There are so many new faces. Why I don’t think I know half the people that are here this year Joe.”
“Are you telling me that you actually miss Muffin Man!”
Catherine laughed, “Actually no. He’s one I don’t mind not being here. I wonder where he is?” They shared a bout of laughter, each remembering the previous year’s embarrassment and that of the year before when Muffin Man as Joe had affectionately labelled him had made a beeline for Catherine and had stuck to her like glue all evening.
“Perhaps he couldn’t get through the door this year.” Joe laughed remembering the size of the man, and how he had doubled in weight since the previous year.
Catherine burst into laughter at the picture that represented and a waitress passing by smiled at her.
“Enjoying yourselves?” she queried.
Joe and Catherine nodded, and as an afterthought Catherine caught her arm before she disappeared into the crowd once more, “You were here last year weren’t you?” The woman nodded and waited for Catherine to go on. “Do you know why that biggish chap isn’t here this year?”
Joe almost choked on his drink at Catherine’s description. Biggish was an understatement.
The waitress frowned and for a moment two pairs of bright eyes betrayed the same thought, that the woman had failed to notice Muffin Man.
“You obviously haven’t heard.” She told them both, “Did you know Mr. Bowman well?”
Joe and Catherine exchanged glances, gently shaking their heads as the merriment drained from their faces.
“I’m sorry to tell you that Mr. Bowman died not long after last years gathering actually. It was a tragic accident, I’m surprised you didn’t read about it?” she watched their faces for signs of recognition, and receiving none went on, “I’m sorry you had to hear about it like this. We’ve all had a year to get over his death, I can see it is a shock to you.”
“What happened to him?” Catherine asked. She felt like a heel.
The waitress smiled weakly “It appears he just had too much to drink the last time he was here. It was on his way home from this very function that he…” She hesitated, looking all around her, then whispered, "actually there is some speculation on his death, it wasn't what it appeared... you know how it is?"
When neither Catherine or Joe spoke the waitress shook her head “Well they say he’d had too much to drink, but Mr. Bowman was an eater not a drinker. Personally I reckon someone slipped him something. Anyway, on his way home he went under a tube train. The mornings papers said he’d slipped, but I’ve read since that he was molesting some young woman and she pushed him away, then he slipped and went under the train. Who’d have believed it? He liked the ladies I know, but I can’t actually believe that he would do anything like that. I guess we’ll never know the truth.” She finished and offered them both a refill of champagne, which they declined, before she moved away and out of sight.
“Makes you feel a right heel doesn’t it?” Joe was the first to find his voice. Catherine nodded, “Just what I was thinking. And there we were laughing about him.” Catherine mumbled.
For long moments neither spoke, each with his own thoughts, until they were distracted by a fellow who knew Joe well, but a fellow Catherine had never seen before.
“So who’s a lucky guy Joe?” the fellow slapped a hand upon Joe’s shoulder forcing Joe to look around, “Oh Hi Danny. Long time no see. What do you mean by lucky?”
Danny raised his eyes to the roof, “You having me on Joe. Just look at you. You’re the envy of the party. I mean little Miss Chandler here being your date.” He turned his attention to Catherine who was smiling enigmatically and raised her hand to his lips his eyes never leaving her own, “If I may say so Miss Chandler, you are the most beautiful woman in this room, and Joe is the envy of every living male here tonight.”
Joe blushed, soon followed by Catherine, but quick thinking prevented each of them from enlightening Danny to the actual situation between them. Better to let the sleaze believe she was with someone than have to fend him off all evening as had been the case with Muffin…she caught herself just in time, rather poor Mr. Bowman.
Putting her arm through Joe’s she thanked Danny, and steered Joe towards the dance floor, “If you will excuse us, Joe and I were just going to dance.”
“We were?” for a minute Joe looked flustered and immensely pleased at the same time, but all became apparent as Catherine led him through the throng of people.
“How about you being my knight in shining armour for the evening Joe and I’ll play the dutiful date for the honour. What do you say? Is it a deal?”
Joe’s eyes twinkled, “You bet Radcliffe.”
They made it to the dance floor, and Joe was acutely aware of the envious glances he was receiving from the other men stood around the room and loving every moment of it, especially when he held Catherine that bit closer.
Catherine too seemed to be enjoying herself tremendously. Joe whispered in her ear, “You wouldn’t be flirting with me would you Radcliffe?”
“Why Joe whatever do you mean?” she chuckled.
The music was slow and smoochy and Joe loved every moment of it. It was a rare opportunity and one he would cherish and dream about for months to come.
Watching them dance a small close knit group of men talked among themselves. “Wouldn’t you just love to wipe the silly grin off of Maxwell’s face?” One of them asked the others.
They all agreed readily.
“I’ve heard he has fancied Cathy Chandler for years, but she won’t have a bar of him. Well either we’ve heard wrong or this is just for show. Either way I don’t think its very considerate of him hogging her to himself like this.”
“I’ve heard she is a cold fish. Elliot Burch tagged along with her for a while and she treated him appallingly. He wasn’t good enough for her. Can you imagine that! Elliot Burch I’m saying. The richest guy in the state, not to mention his looks.”
“Hey is there something you aren’t telling us Rob?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean are we or aren’t we safe in your company?”
“I ain’t no poofta if that’s what you mean!”
The group of men laughed.
“What do you say we warm up little Miss Cold Fish guys? Now wouldn’t Maxwell thank us for that?”
Wide eyed several of the group nodded, “You got it with you?”
“Sure. I thought I’d bring a little powder for some fun. I won’t use as much as I did on Bowman so don’t worry. Get me a couple of fresh glasses of champass will you, and I’ll hand them out to them when the dancing is finished.”
His friends complying with his wishes, the fellow soon had the powder from a small bottle mixed into one glass of champagne. So subtle was it that it didn’t even cloud the liquid. “Its tasteless. She’ll never tell the difference, and it takes effect in about thirty minutes.”
They watched and waited, seizing their chance when the music finally ended and Joe and Catherine made their way through the crowds to the edge of the dance floor.
Joe looked to where his name had been called, “Hi there Glen. Haven’t seen you in a while. How’s things.”
“Good, good. I was waiting for you. Look I’ve even got a drink ready for you and the lady.” He handed the respective glasses to Catherine first and then Joe, smiling leisurely when he heard Catherine thank him, and saw her begin drinking straight away; showing a little concern with the speed with which she swallowed it.
Catherine grinned at him somewhat impishly, “I’m thirsty.” She felt fit to explain, “and it’s so hot in here.”
Rob nudged Glen’s elbow, “Isn’t that kinda dangerous?” He whispered. He knew the drink was supposed to be sipped so that the drug went into the system bit by bit.
Glen nodded. The nod answered both Rob’s question unheard by Joe and Catherine, and also Catherine’s own statement. “It’s very kind of you to have a drink waiting, and I’d love to stay and chat, but Joe and I were just saying that we ought to be leaving. We have a heavy day lined up at the office tomorrow.”
Glen’s face fell, “Oh surely not. I haven’t seen Joe in some time. I was hoping to catch up on things.”
“Joe can stay.” Catherine told Glen with a smile, “We were going to have to get a taxi anyway. I don’t mind going home alone.” She turned to Joe, “If you’d like to stay and talk to your friends Joe, really I don’t mind.”
Joe was shaking his head, “No Cathy. I’ll see you home. I’d worry about you if I didn’t. I’m afraid we’ll have to catch up some other time Glen. Call me huh?”
Rob was pulling at Glen’s sleeve, “Stall them.” He whispered hoarsely. Wide eyed the other men in the group nodded. If Catherine Chandler left now, they’d never get to see her under the influence. But before Glen could think of anything suitable, Joe was escorting Catherine towards the door. He turned to his mates, “Guess we shall just have to hear about it instead.” He laughed, “And boy will we hear about it. Why it might even make the papers.” They sniggered.
“I can just see the headlines now…’Chandler Girl in Sex Scandal.’ Yep that’ll sure go down nicely with my morning coffee.” He laughed wickedly quickly followed by his so-called friends, but couldn’t resist one last jibe at Joe, by calling out, “Hey Maxwell make sure you take the lady home tonight or you may miss your chance.” Before turning back to his friends to tell them, “Well I still have a little powder left, so all is not lost, we can still have some fun. Help me find my next victim.” They laughed, and not one of them cast another glance towards the exit where Joe was trying to work out what Glen had meant as he escorted Catherine from the room.
Waiting for the elevator, Joe was still relatively quiet. “You tired Joe?”
“Me? Tired? No. I was just wondering what on earth Glen meant back there. Seems a strange comment to make that’s all.”
They fell into silence as they watched the lights on the elevator panel signifying that the car was about ten floors down and coming up slowly.
Just then the door of the conference room burst open, and Joe recognised one of the men that was with Glen’s group of friends. He hesitated when he saw them standing there, then seeming to summon his courage he hurriedly told them, “Mr. Maxwell, don’t leave the lady alone tonight.” Before rushing back the way he had come.
Beyond the doors, Rob leaned back against them with relief, well at least he had issued a warning, that made him feel better. After what had happened to Bowman, he didn’t want to read all about Miss. Chandler in the morning’s papers reaching a similar fate. His conscience eased he slipped through the crowd before Joe had a chance to come and ask him what he had meant.
It was in the elevator, that Catherine first felt a little strange. It was nothing she could put her finger on, but suddenly she felt herself grow warm from the inside out. Like a hot flush creeping slowly along her bones to tingle every nerve ending.
Joe was speaking to her, but she hardly heard him.
“You all right Cathy?” She heard that, but when she raised her eyes to his, his smile of concern suddenly became the most sensuous smile she had ever seen. And those eyes!
Rich dark brown, puppy dog eyes. They pleaded with her, begged for her to touch him.
Reaching out a hand Catherine did just that, and heard Joe gasp and recoil in shock.
“What the…! Cathy!”
He looked down. Catherine still hadn’t released him. Otherwise he would have thought he had dreamt that she had. Her hand was still there held fast to his groin, and not only that was caressing him there too.
Shakily Joe tried to laugh it off, “Hey Radcliffe you’re a dark horse. It’s not that I’m not interested, but hey couldn’t you have prepared me a little first? “ He leaned in on her, touching her lips with his own.
Catherine froze then, freeing him from her grasp, and he stepped back to see the sudden confusion on her face. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
Narrowing her eyes Catherine stammered an apology, releasing him from her grasp at once, and stared down at her hand as if it were not her own.
Joe grinned at her sheepishly, “You must have had too much champass Cathy, or maybe that last glass you downed went straight to your head. But hey, I’m not complaining.”
The elevator car reached ground floor, and they stepped out side by side.
Catherine still hadn’t said a word, she couldn’t believe she had done that. And to Joe of all people! It was almost as if someone else stood inside her shoes, someone else moved inside her body, and what was worse she was having a real fight not to repeat the action!
Joe hailed a taxi, and Catherine got inside with relief.
For a moment she felt okay, but as Joe leaned in to take up his seat, Catherine seemed to see herself stand back as an onlooker and watch herself lean forward and kiss him, right there on the mouth.
Looking through his rear view mirror, the taxi driver laughed, “Hey lady wait till you get him home will you. Release his mouth so he can tell me where to take the two of you.” Flustered Catherine drew away, stammering another row of apologies. “I’m sorry Joe I don’t know what came over me.” Joe hadn’t yet found his voice. Staring wide eyed at her, he was only vaguely aware of the driver tapping his knuckles against the dash board, and asking, “So would someone care to tell me where to?”
“Fifth Avenue.” Catherine uttered automatically still staring wide eyed at Joe. He still hadn’t spoken, but was rubbing his mouth with his fingers, as if to ask ‘did that really happen?’
As they rode along, Catherine stared out of her window. Her hands were jammed solid between her thighs and she found it a real effort to keep them there. Her mind could make no sense of it, but her body led her as a slave wanting nothing more than to rip off her clothing and make love with Joe on the back seat of the taxi.
Appalled Catherine physically shook. ‘What was the matter with her?’
Finally Joe found his voice, “Will it be safe to see you home Radcliffe? I mean don’t get me wrong, but if I’m reading this right you are more than a little intoxicated and come morning all of this will seem pretty embarrassing. It would be wrong of me to take advantage of the situation right?” adding to himself, ‘as much as I’d love to do.’
Catherine nodded, not trusting herself to speak. If Joe knew the fight she was having he’d be really worried. As calmly as she could, she asked, “Just help me up to my apartment will you Joe? I don’t think my own legs will get me there.”
They had arrived in Fifth Avenue, and Joe directed the taxi driver along to Catherine’s apartment building, alighting from the vehicle after it had pulled in at the curb. Joe paid the driver, then reaching inside helped Catherine out.
The moment he pulled her hands free, they were clinging around his neck.
“Hey you got a real octopus there mate. Half your luck.” The taxi driver chuckled.
Grabbing her bag as he pulled her free of the car, Joe escorted Catherine towards her building, trying in vain to uncurl her arms from his neck. He laughed somewhat shakily, trying to make a joke of things, “Hey Radcliffe remind me never to give you pink champagne.”
The cold night air for moments seemed to loosen Catherine’s senses, and once again she stood back appalled by her actions. “Joe I’m so sorry.”
Stumbling through the doors of her apartment building, the night watchman tipped his hat and grinned like a Cheshire cat. It was a most unusual sight to see Miss. Chandler a little worse for the drink.
The elevator car was waiting at ground floor, thankfully, thought Joe, and he bundled Catherine inside, pressing the button for the eighteen floor.
Nothing untoward happened there, though Joe kept Catherine at arm’s length, and watched her warily.
Inside the apartment was quite another matter.
The moment they were through the doors, Catherine fairly attacked him. Crushing him back against one wall, she openly caressed his most private regions, groping his backside with one hand, and trying to free him of his trousers with the other.
Stunned Joe wriggled out of her grasp, shouting at her loudly, “CATHY!”
It worked, though not for long, she was soon advancing on him again.
And Joe knew instantly that something was very wrong. This wasn’t the first time he had been alone with her, and she had never behaved like a sex maniac before.
Joe was more than a little confused. Drink didn’t turn people into raving lunatics. Well okay so it helped one say goodbye to inhibitions, but this! Never like this.
“Look Radcliffe, I’m gonna call your doctor. Is his number in here?” He indicated a pop up directory next to her phone, but did not wait for her reply. Very quickly he had found and dialled Peter’s number, happy to hear him answer it personally. “Dr. Alcott. Joe Maxwell here. Look could you come over to Cathy Chandler’s apartment straight away. She isn’t acting herself.”
Peter promised he would come at once, and Joe relaxed. If nothing else at least there would be two against one he thought, as he watched Catherine advancing on him again.
By the time Peter had arrived, Joe was exhausted. Several rounds of the dining table with Catherine crawling underneath a time or two to grab his legs, and several rounds of her dinky sofas had left him feeling rather tired.
It wasn’t just that. Even though he had managed at some stage to switch on the kettle before Catherine had him trapped in the kitchen, and had made her some strong coffee, before she had cornered him again, Joe noticed that something bad was happening to Catherine. It couldn’t be mere drink. If only he didn’t have to think survival, he might have had time to think of reasons instead.
He didn’t think he had ever been so glad to hear a knock at the door in his life when Peter finally arrived.
Opening the door, he bade the other man entry, gasping as he did so as Catherine pinched his bottom from behind.
“Cathy whatever is wrong, I came as quick as I could?” Peter stepped into the room, noticing with concern that Joe had made a grab for her wrists and was holding her at arm's length.
“Peter how nice.” Catherine twizzled out of Joe’s grasp and sidled up to Peter, draping her arms around his neck and drew him into a very passionate and unexpected kiss.
Open-mouthed Peter pushed her away, staring at her with disbelief, and turning at once to Joe, “Whatever has happened to her?” He demanded.
“You tell me doc. I brought her home from the dinner dance like this. Look at me, she’d fairly ripped the shirt off my back.”
Peter could see that Joe was decidedly dishevelled.
“This isn’t like Catherine.”
“You’re damn right its not. What’s got into her doc?”
“Has she been drinking?”
“Pink champagne. But then no more than me, and I’m okay.” Peter glared at Joe. Joe could almost hear him thinking that no two people are alike.
“Can you hold her still while I take some blood from her. I’ll run some tests. The champagne must have reacted badly with her.” Peter shook his head, “but I can’t understand that. She’s drunk it lots of times with no ill effects. You sure no one slipped her a Micky Finn?”
“I was with her all the time. And we weren’t there long. It was one of those events where we just had to show our faces.”
All the time they were speaking to each other, both were wrestling with Catherine’s arms trying to fasten around them in one way or another. And as Peter rolled up her sleeve and leaned forward to take her blood, Catherine leaned forward and trailed a line of kisses around his throat.
Almost dropping the needle, Peter felt like slapping her, but instead he stifled a chuckle, ‘God she was going to be one embarrassed woman come the morning when she sobered up.’
Joe held her firmly from behind, feeling quite contrite when Catherine wiggled her bottom back against him and making him gasp with surprise and a little pleasure. He was sure going to have one heap of teasing on her that was for sure after this. Maybe even a little blackmail… Joe grinned and watched as Peter prepared her arm for the needle, “It’s just a little prick Cathy.” He warned her. Catherine giggled, rubbing herself harder against Joe, “Not from where I’m standing Peter.” She told him innocently, then burst into laughter at Joe’s sudden gasp.
Peter’s lips twitched with mirth, and even Joe could not contain the laughter, “Cathy you really are something else you know that?” He chuckled.
When Peter was satisfied he’d taken enough blood, and while Joe contained Catherine’s body in a bear hug much to her immense delight it seemed, Joe had to admit he was thoroughly enjoying the moment too but Catherine obviously wasn’t herself, and really he was feeling more and more concerned.
“I have to take this to the lab Joe, can you stay with her until I get back?”
“More to the point doc, do you think I should. Hell I know she isn’t herself, but I’m only human after all. I wouldn’t want to take advantage of the situation, but some might say well why not. You know how it is?”
Reluctantly Peter had to admit that he did.
“Can’t you give her a sedative or something doc?”
“No too dangerous. Drinking and drugs, you know how it is Joe. Besides until I know what caused this I wouldn’t know how much to administer. The best thing we can do is leave her by herself, or perhaps you can sit outside her apartment until I return, just to make sure that she doesn’t go out on a man hunt in this condition. Other people might not be so gallant as you and I toward her.”
Joe nodded, “Sure I can do that. You hear that Cathy? I won’t stay, but I’ll be outside until Peter returns. Now why don’t you go to bed?”
Both men could not prevent a chuckle when a look of delight crossed Catherine’s face and she teased, “Isn’t that what I’ve been saying all evening?”
“Alone Cathy!” Joe told her somewhat sternly, his eyes lighting up underlying his authority. Catherine groaned, “Well if you insist, but I’m nowhere near sleepy right now.”
“How about clobbering her over the head doc?” Joe grinned, “Would that be safe?”
Peter laughed, and walked with Joe to the door, “Cathy, I’ll be back as soon as I can. Don’t do anything stupid okay? And be a good girl, leave Joe alone. I don’t want to have to come back here to treat a heart attack victim.”
In spite of herself Catherine laughed.
When the two of them had gone, leaving her alone Catherine marched around her apartment feeling frustration building in every bone, every sinew every muscle. God she wanted it. It had been so long and her body craved the touch of a man.
The balcony taunted her, and she went out upon it looking down at the city below her, watching as Peter exited from the building and drove away in his car.
Joe was, she knew, sat outside her apartment so that ruled that out. She was for all intents and purposes trapped. But wait! There was another way.
There was Vincent’s way. A warm glow flowed through Catherine at the thought of Vincent. Then from somewhere far in the recesses of her mind Catherine dismissed thoughts of him immediately. Something told her it would be wrong for him to see her like this. Then another thought rose and drowned out the first. She smiled to herself, why not? Hadn’t she waited long enough for him to make the first move?
Perhaps now when she had an excuse she could bring it all about. Catherine shook her head fighting against the reason to leave him out of it and the very good reason to include him. Half of her told her he would be shocked and it could ruin everything, the other half told her it was the perfect opportunity to realise her dreams. Over and above that sense of all that reasoning, the drug continued to fight against her good sense and lead her onward.
Dubiously Catherine eyed the ledge above her balcony, then the ground below her.
It was a long drop, but if Vincent’s large frame could do it…
At the thought of Vincent again Catherine shuddered. The drug was taking her over again. It seemed to come and go in spasms. One moment she could think clearly and knew the sense of things, the next moment she was like someone possessed. In fact for a time or two she had to remind herself who Vincent was. In her sane moments she laughed at how ridiculous her mind was behaving this night. And then she remembered how much she wanted Vincent, had always wanted him, and her body seemed to glide across the terrace oozing desire.
Well with Joe guarding her escape route and feeling as she did, there was only one way open to her. Heart in mouth, Catherine began her climb for freedom.
Peter wasted no time. Believing that Catherine was the worse for drink Peter felt that the lab could wait. There was someone he had to warn and fast.
They collided in a tunnel.
“Peter! Where are you going in such a hurry?”
“Vincent, thank goodness.”
“What’s the matter?” he had been experiencing some very strange feelings from Catherine all evening, but he wasn’t aware that she was in any danger.
“Its Cathy” Peter panted catching his breath now he had stopped running.
“What’s wrong with her, she isn’t in any trouble. I would know if she was?” For a moment Vincent doubted the Bond. Had it let him down?
“If you go to her you will be the one in trouble Vincent. I had to warn you. Come let us go back to Father’s chamber, and I’ll tell the both of you there.”
Neither Father nor Vincent could believe it.
“Never!” Father wiped away a tear of mirth, “Cathy intoxicated? And how so! Peter you are having us on aren’t you?”
Vincent however sat very still and very quiet. He didn’t like the things he was hearing.
“Its true I tell you. Why she almost molested Joe Maxwell.” He stole a look at Vincent. Peter’s countenance showed his apology.
“Vincent if you go to her…” Peter spoke gravely, “Honestly Vincent she isn’t in control of herself. Look let’s speak rationally here. I don’t know what has happened to her, maybe she drank some champagne and had taken some pills before hand, maybe the mix wasn’t quite right, but I do know, I have never seen anyone drunk or sober act in such a wanton way in all of my life. Why she even kissed me!”
“You!” Father choked, “You should be flattered.”
Peter smiled coyly, “Well now you mention it…” he laughed, “but it doesn’t escape the fact that something is wrong. Catherine is going to hate herself when she sobers up. Talking of which if I don’t soon get the sample to the lab she’ll be back to her old self before we know how to treat her.”
Father looked toward Vincent, his son still hadn’t spoken, “Vincent, what’s the matter?”
“I can feel her Father.” Vincent told the two men simply, “Her feelings are crying out to me.”
“You aren’t going to her?”
“If what Peter says is true how can I? ”
“It’s possible you could cope with her. Your size and strength, but Vincent...” Peter paused unsure of how to word his next statement, “Would you be able to cope with something like that?” Peter looked away somewhat embarrassed as Vincent’s blue eyes scrutinised him. “I mean…well…its not like you have ever indulged…” Peter blushed, how he hated speaking the facts of life to anyone, and no less a grown man with no experience in such things.
“I think we get the picture.” Father spoke gravely, “And Vincent, Peter’s right.” He sent Vincent a knowing look. Only he knew what a fight Vincent had to keep his desire of Catherine to himself.
Reluctantly Vincent nodded. It had to be reluctantly because Catherine’s feelings were driving straight through him.
Deep down inside he could feel her desire and his body started to tremble reacting in like manner and Vincent had to fold his legs one over the other lest Father were to see the aroused state he was in. Vincent wished for his cloak to conceal himself, yet to stand up to fetch it from his chamber would show both of the men the very reason for his needing it.
He was also very concerned for Catherine. That she had made a pass at Joe Maxwell and then at Peter of all people, someone she considered as close as a father, well that told him how serious this was. He could forgive her those things, obviously it was not mere over drinking that was to blame, and because of that his concern increased.
“She will be safe?” he asked Peter as the doctor prepared to leave.
“Providing she stays put, I don’t see why not. She needs to sleep it off. Joe is outside her apartment door preventing her from coming down here, and that’s why you must curb all instincts to go to her Vincent. Believe me as she is she is a danger to you in more ways than one.” Peter didn’t like to imagine how Vincent could slip from the balcony trying to escape Catherine in that mood, nor the chance of Joe hearing the scuffle and coming to investigate.
Vincent nodded, but somehow he couldn’t get it out of his head that Catherine was a lot closer than either man realised, in fact the Bond convinced him of this.
“If you attempt to go to her, I shall be forced to restrain you.” Father attempted a chuckle, but Vincent knew the underlying anxiety, and knew also that his father wasn’t incapable of such things.
“I won’t go above, I promise.” Vincent told Father as Peter said his goodbyes. Yet Vincent felt somewhat strange. He had just told Father a half truth. He wouldn’t go above, that was true, but the reason for that was that he didn’t need to do, for already the Bond was telling him that Catherine was already inside the tunnels. How she had got past Joe he had no idea, but at that precise moment he didn’t care. Catherine needed him, her body cried out to him, and powerless to resist, Vincent went to her willingly.
Outside the apartment Joe reflected on the change in Catherine. He had to keep pinching himself, that, one, it had actually happened, two, he had refused her advances – huh he must be a fool, and three what on earth had caused it to happen in the first place?
While he sat there, he pieced the evening together. Two things kept coming to mind. The one thing that Rob had said and the one thing that Glen had said, and even a third thing, the death of Muffin Man.
Being an attorney Joe began to wonder if Catherine’s behaviour was anything like Muffin Man’s had been, and if so had the two of them both been the subject of some practical joke. If so, then both Glen and Rob’s remarks would make some sense.
The more he thought about it the more it became obvious, someone had spiked Catherine’s glass, but when? How?
Going through the evening in his mind, he remembered the waitress passing through the groups of people with the tray of champagne. It could be that the spiked drink wasn’t meant for Catherine. It could be that someone was trying a Russian roulette kind of prank and had spiked a drink with no one in particular in mind. Joe felt his blood boil at that thought. There had been pregnant women among the group for God’s sake. But it didn’t add up. If that was the case then why the warning to him about Cathy? No, the more he thought about it, the simpler it became, Catherine had been the intended victim. But why?
That’s what he couldn’t understand, for what possible reason would anyone want to do that to someone as beautiful and gentle as Catherine?
Well at least he had a partial truth, proving it might be difficult, but certainly Rob had been guilty enough to issue a warning. Joe nodded. As soon as Peter relieved him for the night he would start there, with Joe. He’d lay it on thick. He’d make the truth come out, and if there was a connection to Muffin Man, those guys were looking at a manslaughter charge.
Happier now, though still concerned for Catherine, he was at least relieved to hear that the apartment had gone quiet. No doubt Catherine had fallen asleep as Peter had said she would. Joe relaxed, huddling himself into his coat and prepared to get his own rest, reserving a little of his mind for remembering how wonderful it had felt to have Catherine’s hand’s and body pressed close against him, and knowing how he would tease her mercilessly about it from now on.
Yep it looked like he was going to be able to call in a lot more favours from now on. Closing his eyes Joe chuckled and a big grin spread across his face.
*** *** ***
Catherine Chandler man hunter. The thought lingered in Catherine’s mind enough to make a silly grin spread across her face. And she felt like a hunter right now. The tunnels long and glowing amber in the lamplight seemed to give off a soft essence that was rather appealing.
The ever-present tapping of people sending messages to one another only signified the beat of drums in her befuddled mind, and Catherine searched avidly for a victim.
Rounding a corner she spied someone. From the distance she was away it could be a woman, but as Catherine approached the victim hesitated for some reason and a deep voice welcomed her. “Catherine, hello. You’re coming Below late tonight aren’t you?”
Catherine licked her lips, advancing on the flesh and sinew in front of her. She saw neither face nor limbs, her eyes were feasted on one region and one region only, and the desire to mate was utmost in her mind.
Reaching her victim, Catherine draped one arm around his neck, the other delivered the hand that caressed him intimately.
William gasped, the stuffing knocked right out of him,, and gasping somewhat hysterically he frantically tried to unwrap himself from Catherine’s grip. Finally he found something that might be called a voice. “Cathy” he squeaked “What are you doing?”
Pascal appeared. His day on the pipes was over and he had reluctantly left his station to return to his lonely chamber. But his weary eyes took on a new brightness to see William and ‘is that Catherine?’ in an intimate clinch in the middle of the tunnel ways.
“Pascal!” William’s voice sounded strange. Pascal couldn’t be sure if William was glad to see him or not. And did Vincent know about this? Cathy and William? Never?
As he moved closer he could see that William was attempting to unravel Catherine’s arm’s and hands from the most amazing of places, but as fast as William took one of her hands away she replaced it with the other. And there was more those hands were not alone, her lips were kissing their way along William’s throat, making little sucking sounds around his neck, and Catherine moaned sensuously.
Stunned Pascal could only stand and stare.
“Help me.” William croaked at last, “I think she’s drunk.” He laughed somewhat shakily, unravelling himself once again. This time as he freed the arm from around his neck, he held it out to Pascal who held it firmly, while William turned around out of Catherine’s embrace, but as he did so, he only succeeded in winding her around Pascal. The smaller man was soon engulfed by her as her arms and legs ran themselves deliciously up and down his own legs, hips and thighs. Pascal found himself in much the same bemused state as William had moments earlier and needed William’s help to pull her off.
“Hold her if you can.” William boomed with laughter in his voice, he was never going to let her live this down, “I’ll call for help.”
“Who are you going to call? Vincent?”
“God no. Can you imagine Vincent coping with her like this?”
“At least he’d welcome her attentions.”
“Do you really think so?” William grinned.
“Well she is his responsibility after all. But whoever you call hurry up about it, or I shall be damaged for life, she’s got quite a grip.” Pascal attempted a laugh but it came out high pitched only emphasising his predicament, and William roared with laughter.
Finding a firm round stone he tapped out a message for anyone in the vicinity to help with a problem, and then left it to the gods that it wasn’t Vincent who answered the call.
He needn’t have bothered.
Vincent ever on the trail of the connection they shared was heading straight for them just as Father took heed of the message and noticed that his son was missing.
Besides that the sentries had already informed him that Catherine was in the tunnels, and putting two and two together, Father grabbed his little black bag and hobbled as fast as he could it the appropriate direction, arriving just after Vincent.
Pascal didn’t know whether to be relieved or not when he felt Catherine being lifted physically from off his body when he saw that it was Vincent who lifted her.
Settling her down a few feet away from the two dazed men, Vincent glared at her. “Catherine!” he scolded firmly, hoping he would get through to her, then as she continued to breathe rapidly and stare at him, he spoke sharper, “Catherine!”
Her breast heaving Catherine stared open mouthed at him. Her name upon his lips had done nothing to lessen the desire. In fact the complete opposite. Masterful she considered it, masterful and exceedingly sexy. She took a few steps towards him. God he was a hunk.
Standing stock-still Vincent watched as Catherine walked right around him licking her lips, as if he was a tasty morsel that she was preparing to satisfy herself upon.
William and Pascal watched with seeming glee, their eyes bright as Vincent became Catherine’s next intended victim, just as Father rounded the bend and stopped dead by the sight that confronted him.
He had believed Peter, of course he had, but nothing had prepared him for the way Catherine behaved. She reminded him of a tiger, a tiger stalking its prey. Walking round and round, her eyes never leaving her intended victim, her body quivered with suppressed excitement.
And Vincent standing there, wary, knowing that any moment she would strike, but at a loss as to know what to do about it.
“Cathy” Father called to her, hoping to break her trance. “Cathy” he spoke louder. Vincent looked back at his father, “She doesn’t appear to hear us Father.” He told the older man, and Catherine chose that unguarded moment to spring forward.
“Look out Vincent!” William and Pascal cried together having already been victims of that sudden movement themselves. But too late, Vincent found himself caught in a steely vice as her fingers wound themselves around his manhood.
Vincent gasped as the feel of her hand there became both a pleasure and a shock the latter especially in front of so many people.
William could not help himself, he laughed out loud, and Pascal grinned sheepishly, even Father’s lips twitched, and Catherine wasn’t about to let go either.
No matter how quickly Vincent took one of her hands and unravelled the fingers, then did she replace it with her other hand, edging her body closer to wantonly rub herself against him.
“Father please!” Vincent begged. And Father took pity on his son, dropping his black bag to help Vincent hold Catherine off of him, until Vincent was able to clasp her hands tightly in one of his and swing her up into his arms.
Thankful that he had at least prevented her hands any freedom, he then found himself totally unprepared for her mouth.
“Watch out Vincent!” William called, “She bites as well.” As too late Catherine fastened her lips to the flesh around Vincent’s throat and sucked hard.
Despite everything Vincent shuddered with a longing he did not want to fathom at that moment.
From somewhere deep inside of him something was roused awake at lightening speed. His limbs began to shake, and his body felt hot and feverish.
“Bring her to the hospital chamber Vincent.” Father beckoned. William burst into laughter, “She hardly seems sick to me Father. Intoxicated maybe. Just take her somewhere where she can sleep it off.”
For Vincent, Catherine in his arms proved to be harder than he had imagined. With her hands imprisoned, her lips made short work of his neck beneath his hair, and the things she was whispering into his ear was making him very flustered indeed!
“William’s right Vincent. Bring her to the guest chamber instead.” Father told him.
“I prefer your first choice Father.” Vincent inched his neck away from those teasing lips, “At least there are arm restraints in the hospital chamber.” For the life of him he couldn’t understand why he found that so funny, but he began to laugh at the mere thought of it. “Catherine…” he told her, “You are going to hate yourself when you sober up.”
The four of them with Catherine held fast against Vincent, made their way to the guest chamber after all, with William and Pascal joking along the way.
“I’d love to know what she’s been drinking. There are one or two women I’d like to give some to.” William chuckled at the thought.
Despite himself Father chuckled, “It makes me go all of a flutter just to think of it.”
“What has she been drinking does anyone know?” Pascal thought to ask.
“Peter said it was pink champagne, but he wonders if she might have taken some medication prior to drinking that has resulted in this.” Father told them, “Talking of which could one of you send Peter a message at the hospital lab. He’s under the impression Catherine is at her apartment with Joe Maxwell outside guarding the door. How she got out I’ll never know.”
For the first time Catherine seemed to hear them. “Took Vincent’s way.” She giggled and hiccuped.
Vincent stopped dead, staring down at her wide-eyed. “My way?”
Catherine nodded before beginning again another exploration of his delicious throat.
“What does she mean?” Father asked incredulous. “Cathy dear you didn’t go over the balcony and climb up to the roof did you? Please tell me you didn’t risk that?”
Again Catherine giggled but did not reply.
“Let’s hurry Father.” Vincent told him, “I’ll shall have no skin left if we don’t.”
The four of them walked on faster now and speechless soon arrived at the guest chamber where Vincent dumped Catherine quite unceremoniously down upon the large bed there, before raising a hand to rub his neck and throat, which was feeling somewhat sore.
The moment she was down, Catherine was up again. “Stay with me Vincent.” She begged, “Don’t leave me alone.”
“Me thinks this is a dangerous situation Vincent.” Tongue in cheek, William slapped him on the back, “But hey you might not get another offer like it.” He laughed, but as Vincent glared at him his laughter died away, “Oh God I’m sorry Vincent…I didn’t mean that how it sounded. Me and my big mouth.”
“Well if you two men would excuse us, I think Vincent and I can manage from now on.” Father dismissed them ever the doctor, but as Catherine leapt from the bed and lunged at Vincent once again, Father cried to their retreating backs, “On second thoughts…halt!”
Father helped Vincent untangle Catherine from around him. ““I don’t know what to say or do. This is no usual drunkenness that I do know. I’ve never seen anything like it. I shudder to think of her chances if she were not down here with us.”
Vincent felt in a kind of limbo. Father was right. Up above anyone would take advantage of Catherine in this condition. The thought was quite frightening, and having the bond to connect them Vincent knew that the surge of emotions coming from Catherine were powerfully strong.
“Father you remember when Catherine was investigating the voodoo case and had been drugged?” Father nodded, “This feels something like that. Catherine is disorientated. She really has no idea what she is doing, and come morning I don’t think she will remember a thing.”
“Good job too if you ask me.” Pascal told them seriously, “It would really embarrass her.”
“Nonetheless she needs help, but short of restraining her I’m at a loss as to know what to do.” Vincent spoke gravely. It pained him to see Catherine like this. It also had an effect on him that he was not prepared to mention.
“I think it might be best to try to get her to sleep. I can’t give her a sedative because Peter said we shouldn't until he has seen the lab results. But I cannot think of anything else.” Father looked at Catherine anxiously. She was sat pouting in the centre of the bed with Vincent holding her hands at arm’s length, “Do you think you can get her to lie down Vincent?”
Catherine smiled, “He’s only to ask.” She told them happily.
Vincent’s lips twitched despite himself and casting a sidelong glance at Father found the older man quietly suppressing laughter, though his shoulders shook. “Catherine whatever are we to do with you?”
Catherine raised mischievous eyes to his, but never replied. The look said it all.
“Is there anything we can do then Father?” William asked. “Only it’ll soon be supper time.”
“No no, William, you go off back to the kitchen, I’m sure Vincent and I can manage. What’s one little waif of a girl anyway?”
“When that waif of a girl is filled with dynamite I’d say you have an explosive situation on your hands.” William joked and laughed loudly.
“You had to remind us didn’t you?” Father laughed, but nonetheless assured the two men that he and Vincent would manage.
When Pascal and William had gone and Vincent remained holding Catherine at arm’s length, Father took stock of the situation.
“This is stupid. Let her go Vincent. This is Catherine, what can she do to harm us?”
“I’m fully aware this is Catherine and of how it looks Father but whatever Catherine has taken is a greater force to be reckoned with. Catherine is not herself right now.”
“I can see that Vincent. If she was then there is something you haven’t been telling me.”
Vincent smiled just a little as did Father quite a lot.
“Nonetheless let her go Vincent. It’s degrading.”
“It’s called survival Father. Who do you think is most at risk here?”
“Will someone ask what I want.” Catherine spoke all of a sudden. Both men turned to her.
“Vincent you are hurting my wrists.”
Immediately Vincent let go of her hands, and Catherine pulled them back to rub at her wrists vigorously. “Would someone care to tell me what’s going on?” Catherine complained.
Looking from one to the other of them Father spoke first, “Cathy?” He queried. It appeared that Catherine was coming out of the spell she’d been under.
Catherine looked around her, “What am I doing here?” She asked innocently.
“Don’t you know?” Father asked glancing at Vincent. Why wasn’t his son asking any questions?
The answer was simple, but Father did not know that. The Bond was telling Vincent that this was another of Catherine’s drug induced tricks. To get them at ease with her before she struck again. Vincent was therefore wary, watching her closely.
Father took a step closer to the bed, “Cathy how are you feeling dear?”
Like a viper Catherine’s hand shot out, and her cry of “Like this.” Was lost as Vincent roared and grabbed Father out of her reach just in time. His face thunderous Vincent glared down at her.
“I know you can’t help this Catherine. And when you come out of it you are going to hate yourself, but I cannot stand by and do nothing. There’s only one thing we can do.” Catherine turned appealing eyes to Vincent as he held her hands firmly in his own once more, and turning aside whispered into Father’s ear, “I’m going to tire her out Father.”
Father raised his eyes with interest, “And how pray do you intend to do that?” His lips twitched with mirth.
Keeping a watchful eye on Catherine, Vincent steered his father to a quiet corner of the chamber before whispering, “If she will follow me, I shall walk down to the lower levels. If I have to run to keep out of her hands I will do, but providing she continues to follow me, then I think I can sufficiently tire her until all she wants to do is sleep.”
Father nodded, “Good idea, but keep to the levels that have pipes running through them so that I can reach you when Peter gets here.”
“If I can. I think it is best that we don’t encounter any of the other members of our community. We have already seen that she is not partial to any one person.”
Father nodded. “I’ll go and make sure the tunnel is empty and beat a hasty retreat. Count to twenty will you and if I’m not back by then, I think you should have a head start.”
Gravely Vincent nodded, he only hoped the idea would work.
*** *** ***
Anxiously Peter lowered the receiver. He was unhappy that Catherine had escaped the apartment, and fearful for Joe.
How had she slipped past him? And if she hadn’t then how had he fared? He didn’t have time to ponder this though as a green light signified that the results of the blood test were ready.
Going in through the lab door Peter prepared himself for the news.
*** *** ***
“Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty!” Vincent looked at Catherine. Her eyes were wide and he still held her hands firmly, but she no longer fought against him, nor trailed kisses along his fingers and hands as she had been doing as he’d held her there earlier.
He smiled at her, “Are you going to be a good girl Catherine.” His words sounded deliciously inviting, and she nodded vigorously. “Then race you to the waterfall.” He cried letting go of her hands and running from the chamber.
For split seconds Catherine watched him go and listened to his footsteps receding down the tunnel, then with a whoop of delight she shot from the bed and flew after him. The chase was on!
True to his word Father had cleared the tunnels by any means at his disposal without giving too much away, and they encountered no one as they sped along. Filled with adrenaline Catherine ran faster than she had ever deemed possible, and kept Vincent firmly in her sight. He was a good twenty yards ahead of her and never looked back once. He didn’t need to do, Catherine’s giggles kept him well informed that she was following close behind.
Running faster Vincent could tell when Catherine began to tire but he was also aware that the feelings within her had not dissipated one iota. In fact they seemed to have increased. Perhaps the chase had become more of a game and had excited her. Well he couldn’t run forever, but he would run for as long as it took to tire her completely.
Rounding the final bend before the falls, Vincent tripped. He was struck dumb he never slipped! Why of all the times did he have to slip now?
Winded he scrambled to his feet, sensing rather than seeing that Catherine was only yards from him. As her laughter bounced off the walls it was obvious that she were loving every moment of it, and as Vincent managed to make off in front once again, he realised quite happily that he was too.
Suddenly he was filled with a predicament. Just ahead he knew but had forgotten earlier that there was a narrow ledge that they had to cross at a steady pace to be safe. Previous times he had taken Catherine’s hand and led her across because of the danger of falling. Now faced with a danger of a different sort, Vincent started to laugh much the same as Father had earlier.
Sanity forced him to realise that this was Catherine, not some demented sex mad monster eager to have her wicked way with him, but Catherine his own beloved, and there was no way he would put her life at risk just because he couldn’t handle the situation now.
Vincent slowed to a walk and stopped altogether, surprised that upon turning Catherine too had slowed to a walk and lagged some way behind. Their connection told him she was near exhaustion, but also that she desired him as much as before. But there was something else. Something he couldn’t quite put his finger on, and the next thing happened so suddenly that Vincent’s speculation flew from his mind.
Catherine was undressing!
There just yards away she was stripping off her clothes, right in front of him!
Vincent turned away his heart hammering, his predicament real. If she continued to strip then he had to go back to her and make her dress and if she came any further he would have to help her over the ledge naked. Whichever way he didn’t think he could cope with either.
“Catherine!” He shouted, “Put your clothes back on.”
“I’m hot.” She called back.
Vincent relaxed a little. Better she stripped off her clothing for being hot than for some other reason.
He almost believed her, but then through the connection came a little tingling laughter just as he had felt when Father had thought Catherine had recovered back at the chamber. She was playing again!
“Catherine get dressed!” Vincent growled.
Catherine giggled, “Make me.” And continued to take off her clothing.
Vincent didn’t know where to look. He knew where he should look, but his hammering heart and his own desire kept his eyes reverting back to Catherine now in her underwear. Slowly she peeled them off too.
Naked she stood hands on hips smiling at him in a way that set his blood on fire.
He had never seen her like this. Well not since the day he and Father had patched her up after her attack, but that was different, and he hadn’t been in love with her then.
He found he was not able to utter another word, and in fact took two steps back in her direction.
Catherine raised her arms to him, “Come darling.” She begged softly, “Make love with me.”
Vincent drew in a deep breath, it whistled between his teeth as he sucked it in, and his body trembled from the toes up.
Shaking himself Vincent convinced himself that this was wrong, Catherine didn’t mean it, he shouldn’t be giving in, and slowly sound reasoning won through. He marched straight up to her, trying not to notice the happiness that seared her face, and stooping to collect her discarded clothing from her feet, he pulled her sweater over her head before she had had a chance to realise what he was doing.
“Get dressed Catherine!” he told her sternly.
“No!” she struggled against him, whipping the sweater off as fast as he pinned it down upon her.
“Catherine this is not the way!”
“I love you. I want you. It is the way.” Catherine felt herself picked up and deposited onto the ground quite roughly, a surprised and happy response tearing from her soul. But Vincent picked up her jeans, and lifting one leg prepared to ram it into the trouser leg in an attempt to dress her.
Catherine smiled at him somewhat impishly, and amazingly allowed him to pull the material up, but as he reached for her other leg Catherine dropped her knees apart giving him more of a sight than he bargained for, and a rush of desire sped through him like a lightening bolt.
Catherine chuckled and toed the jeans off from her other leg and reached for him with her hands at the same time.
Vincent seethed, his head reeled, his limbs became as jelly and he realised too late that he was really out of his depth here.
Staring at Catherine’s naked body in front of him he felt desire flood his being. It would be so easy to take what she offered, so easy, but logic told him it was wrong. Any other time Catherine would never behave this way and would never speak such things to him as she had whispered into his ear on the way to the guest chamber.
He only wished she did feel that way toward him.
Under other circumstances, this would have been a dream come true. But it would never be, and that was the tragedy of it. Catherine would never seriously contemplate such a union with him, why she hadn’t even been able to bring herself to kiss him and there had been many opportunities for her to have done so.
There were the inconsequential times of course when she had done, but they didn’t count. They were kisses between friends, and even that time when she had wished Elliot’s kiss to have been from him instead, Vincent had hoped that she might at that moment have made that plain by kissing him there and then. But she hadn’t and he couldn’t, he just couldn’t instigate something that he had no right to not until she had at least given some indication of wanting him to that was..
“Catherine you don’t know what it is you are doing. Get dressed please.” The harshness had gone and something in his eyes troubled her more now than before when he had scolded her to dress.
Besides that a tiredness was stealing over her bones, and she was beginning to sink down into it.
Even her words sounded slurred to her own ears as she told him, “I love you darling.” Her eyes drooped and Vincent was surprised when she suddenly flopped to one side, and if it hadn’t of been for the steady beat of her heart alongside his, he might have panicked that she had died, so sudden was her collapse.
At last he was able to dress her of a fashion, knowing she would be cold if he did not, and he lay his cloak over her, before settling her head into his lap, and leaning against the hard stone wall gently stroking her hair.
“Sleep my love.” He told her gently, “Sleep and be well.”
*** *** ***
Joe couldn’t believe his ears. He knew that Cathy couldn’t possibly have slipped past him. Even though he had been asleep, in her state she would surely have pounced on him the moment she had seen him there.
Peter unlocked the door to her apartment, “Well I guess if she didn’t go by you, then there is only one other way.”
Joe followed him in, “I didn’t know there was a fire escape.”
“There isn’t.” The two men had reached the balcony through the open doors, signalling Catherine’s means of escape. Peter looked up at the ledge. Joe looked up and then down, “You aren’t suggesting…” The colour drained from his face.
“I’m afraid so Joe. It’s the only way. Up to that ledge and on to the roof, down the elevator and away.”
“But she might have fallen. How could she have been so reckless? What did she think she could do? Fly?”
“Actually that statement is probably truer than you think. Look step back inside, I’ll run you through the lab results.”
Incredulous Joe listened. It was a fairly new drug, actually a concoction of several different types. “Basically it does two things Joe.” Peter looked at him gravely; “It turns someone into a raving sex pot and also makes them believe they are indestructible.”
“That’s interesting.” Joe rubbed his jaw thoughtfully.
“Yes while you have been gone, I’ve been doing some thinking. Peter did you ever read about a guy called Bowman. You might not have done, it was about a year ago.”
“Got anymore details, I can’t say I know the name?”
“Apparently he went under a train on the subway. He was a big fellow, I can imagine that would take quite a bit of cleaning up.”
Peter nodded, “I might have heard something, it seems a little familiar now come to think of it. Why do you ask?”
“Last year Bowman attended the same function as Cathy and I did last night, and it seems he was subjected to the same practical joke as Cathy when his drink was spiked with the same drug. A waitress told me that he had either been pushed or had fallen under the train, but the reason he may have been pushed was that he was said to be molesting a young woman on the platform. I knew that guy Peter, not personally, but he’d attended that function for years. He always made a beeline for Cathy, but last year she got real fed up by his persistence. He kept trying to touch her, sometimes intimately. It was one of the reasons why we left early. It was embarrassing. Well to cut a long story short, I reckon I know who spiked both Bowman’s drink and Cathy’s and with your help I plan to put those guys away for a very long time.”
“I’d say you’d have Cathy’s help too Joe.”
“No doubt, but I don’t think Cathy will want to be involved in this. In fact after tonight I wouldn’t mind betting that Cathy never wants reminding of this ever again. I’m only glad she made it to the home of some friends. I don’t want to think what might have happened to her if not. Will you be going over there next?”
“Yes, I have to take the lab results and see how she is. And you look as if you could do with some sleep, can I drop you anywhere?”
Joe looked around the apartment, “Do you think Cathy would mind if I slept here? I’m due in at the office in a couple of hours, and I feel in need of all the sleep I can get. It’s been a harrowing experience.”
“But not an unwelcome one.” Peter chuckled.
Joe laughed, “You’re right there doc, I’ll probably be kicking myself when this sinks in for not taking the chance when it was offered.”
“You’re a good man Joe and there’s always tomorrow.” Peter picked up his bag and stepped from the apartment, laughing when Joe replied, “Not for me doc. As far as Cathy’s affection for me in that way is concerned, tomorrow never comes.”
*** *** ***
For the rest of the night Vincent held Catherine close.
His mind tried to erase thoughts of a naked Catherine in front of him and of the scent of her when her legs had flopped open as he had tried to pull on her jeans. It took determined effort to push those thoughts away, but being Vincent he managed, just.
What perturbed him more were the words she had whispered to him.
Catherine had never referred to him before as darling, baby, sweetheart and honey.
Many times up in the park he had unwittingly overheard snatches of conversation between lovers as he had stood hidden from view, and had yearned for someone to say such words to him. When Catherine had come into his life there had been many times when he had ached to hear her say them and direct them at him. It was a secret he bore with regret that it would for him, never happen.
There had been times when he had held Catherine close and his body had been so thrilled by her softness that his own had hardened in response to the feel of her in his arms. And there had been times when they had gazed into one another’s eyes for long moments, and he had hoped furiously that she would lean in on him just so he would know that his kiss would not be unwelcome.
To have taken Catherine as she had appeared tonight would have been wrong but the tears fell silently down Vincent’s cheeks as he came to know that nothing like that would ever happen again. Once Catherine came round even if she didn’t remember she would have to be told, and Vincent felt that the knowledge and the shame would mean the end of their relationship. How could she ever look him in the eye again knowing how she had behaved?
For other people there might have been a chance, for other people there was always tomorrow, but for him…Vincent shook his head sadly, no, his relationship with Catherine would never be what he had so often dreamed it to be.
And that thought brought about the greatest grief.
Some hours later Vincent heard the sound of Father tapping a message to say that Peter was back.
Carefully laying Catherine’s head down onto the sandy floor, Vincent stood and tapped back a message to say they were safe and Catherine was sleeping. Then he settled back down beside her again. He would not disturb her by the risk of waking her to carry her back, he would let her sleep off whatever had made her this way.
He was surprised though to find that Peter was soon escorted by Mouse down to the waterfall.
“I had to see for myself how she was.” Peter told him as he stooped down to where Vincent cradled Catherine against him. “Did it take long to get her to sleep?”
“She was exhausted from running.” Vincent whispered, “but still she behaved indecently. Then suddenly she fell asleep. Just keeled over it was so sudden for a moment I grew afraid.”
“I can imagine.” Peter dropped her eyelid, “As I thought, she’s unconscious. I think it would be safe for you to carry her back Vincent. She might sleep the best part of a day now and it would be better to keep her warm.”
“What did you find out at the lab?”
Peter looked at Vincent gravely, “She’s been drugged Vincent.”
“Yes. Some fool spiked her drink with a dangerous drug that could so easily have killed her. Not outright of course but may have led her to do something stupid that would have led to her death. Talking of which do you know she escaped her apartment by the entry and exit that you use?”
Vincent gasped, “Via the roof!”
Peter nodded, “Yes via the roof. You see how serious that is don’t you? The risk was so great, she could have fallen to her death. The only two possible causes for her taking such a risk would have to be either she was so wound up sexually that she didn’t care or the drug made her believe that she would come to no harm even if she did fall. I guess it reacts differently to different people, acting to fit their circumstances.”
“What do you mean, and how does it apply to Catherine?”
Peter looked uncomfortable. He shuffled, but Vincent’s piercing blue eyes demanded an answer, “It has something to do with me doesn’t it, that’s why you are reluctant to speak?”
Peter nodded, “I believe that since Cathy met you she has not had any sexual relationship. It’s a long time Vincent to go without something you’ve been used to. She and Tom were together quite a while. And she does love you. In the normal scenario you two should have been lovers long ago, and then…” His voice trailed away. Vincent was looking furious. Peter quickly attempted to make amends. “Its your business of course, but if Cathy hadn’t of been so sexually high I don’t believe she would have behaved this way, but then…” He hurried now eager to pacify Vincent’s rising fury plainly evident before his eyes. “If she hadn’t of reacted in that way it could have been worse, she might have concluded she could fly from that balcony. The drug may have led her to believe she was indestructible Vincent. So her being sexually frustrated does have its good points in that respect after all.”
Vincent swallowed with difficulty, “You think that I…” Vincent couldn’t get it out. “Peter as much as I love Catherine how could she ever contemplate such union with me!”
“You underestimate yourself Vincent, at least you do in Catherine’s eyes. She doesn’t see your differences Vincent, she sees only the man that she loves.”
“I can’t believe that!”
“Then you are a fool.” Peter spoke firmly and softly rising to his feet. Looking back down at Vincent’s face, knowing how hard the younger man was finding acceptance of his words. “You forget I know you Vincent. I was there when you were first brought here, and I know Cathy. I delivered her for God’s sake, I know you both well. I also know how different the two of you are physically speaking, but never have I seen such a love between two people as the two of you share. Vincent you are made for each other, you’ve got to see that. Cathy’s waited so long for you to realise that fact, and even if it took a drug to show you how much she needs you then maybe it was a good thing if only you heed everything you have been shown this night.”
The two men stared at one another, before Vincent’s gaze settled on Catherine. Was it possible? Could there be a future for them as Peter suggested?
With hope in his heart Vincent gathered himself for standing shuffling Catherine into an easy position for carrying her, and fell into step alongside Peter. Neither spoke anymore, but Vincent’s mind was full of questions.
When Catherine awoke he would talk to her, or if not that then he would try to assimilate the situation. Try to fathom if Peter’s assessment of their relationship was a valid one, and in the meantime try not to hope too much that it was.
*** *** ***
Her head felt like nothing on earth when Catherine finally strained to open her eyes many hours later. And her mouth!
If sawdust had been placed inside it, it would have made more sense. It felt woody and dry and when she tried to move her lips they seemed stuck to one another.
Her eyelids were glued down, and only a gentle rubbing could release them of sleep before she could open them gingerly, one at a time.
Disorientated, Catherine knew where she was, but couldn’t understand what she was doing there. Somehow it didn’t feel right.
She’d stayed over before of course, but those times were few and far between and usually after some distressing moment in her life, like an illness or the death of her father. Catherine knew how uncomfortable it made Vincent to have her close. And what was more she was in his bed!
Struggling to sit up, Catherine recognised the sight of Vincent’s chamber and could not take it in, and then she realised that not only was she in Vincent’s chamber and in his bed, and she was wearing her clothes on in bed, but even then…! Frantically Catherine cupped herself, and gasped as she found that she was indeed bra less beneath her sweater, and by the feel of things panty-less beneath her jeans. What on earth had been going on?
Her head throbbed as she tried to remember, in fact she could not think past the day before. She had gone to the office as usual. There was a mountain of work as usual, and oh…she frowned, there was some kind of function that she’d attended with Joe, and she had not been going to see Vincent that night, so why was she here?
Footsteps sounded in the tunnel outside, and Catherine was relieved to see Mary pop her head around the entrance. “Cathy how are you feeling dear? No don’t answer that, if you are anything like me words will not come before some form of lubrication in the mornings. Here I’ve brought you some hot water for your coffee.”
Catherine nodded her thanks smiling weakly, her mind full of eager questions, but unable to voice them until she had sipped several drops of much needed coffee. “Thank you Mary.” Catherine had watched the other woman over the rim of her cup. Mary’s face showed concern, but she gave nothing away.
“Do you feel better now?” Mary asked as Catherine formed a deeper smile.
“Yes, thank you Mary. It was just what I needed. Mary?”
“This might sound strange to you, but what am I doing here?”
“Vincent brought you in dear. Don’t you remember anything?”
Catherine shook her head slowly, “Nothing at all.”
“Nothing?” There was something in her tone that startled Catherine.
“What do you know, tell me Mary please? Why can I not remember anything past yesterday evening?”
“It’s not for me to tell you Cathy. Father will be along in a few minutes once I tell him you are awake, maybe he will enlighten you.”
“Maybe? Why do you say maybe?”
Mary patted her hand saying nothing. Father had filled her in early this morning, it was still so hard to believe, but when William and then Pascal had confirmed it Mary had had to believe.
“Where’s Vincent?” Catherine asked.
“Below. He left early with Mouse to work on some foundations that are seeping water. He may be gone a day or two.”
Catherine wasn’t sure but she got the distinct impression that Vincent was avoiding her.
“Mary please…something is wrong, please tell me.”
“I can’t Cathy. Now let me fetch Father and he will fill you in.”
*** *** ***
“I did what?” Catherine buried her head inside her hands, “Oh my god, I don’t want to hear this.” Father patted her shoulder for comfort, “I’m sorry Cathy but it’s quite true. I was there. I saw it all.”
“This is terrible, a nightmare, Father tell me it isn’t true?” Her luminous green eyes begged him to say it was false. She couldn’t have, she wouldn’t have. Catherine placed her hands out in front of her, surely not, she wouldn’t have done those things with those hands surely not.
“I’m afraid you left your mark not only with hands my dear. You should see poor William’s throat, not to mention Vincent’s.”
William was bad enough, Catherine gasped when Father said it, but Vincent too! “Oh no not Vincent!” Catherine groaned, “Whatever must he think of me? Father tell me please, you have to tell me, what exactly did I do to Vincent?”
Catherine felt sick inside. This couldn’t be happening.
Father’s merry eyes twinkled, “I think you have changed my poor son for life Catherine, and if he acts a little unusual around you from now on you’ll certainly know why.” He chuckled.
“Is that why I have no underclothes on?” Catherine stared wide eyed, shocked when Father’s look was returned the same, “I don’t know anything about that my dear.” Father whispered. “Vincent took you below, well took isn’t quite the word, you actually chased him down to the waterfall.” He hesitated, as Catherine groaned and buried her face back into her hands, before continuing, “ he had the idea that if he could tire you out you would be less of a danger to him and anyone else that came along. How you came to be without any underclothes my dear is something that Vincent has not told me.”
“If only I could remember.”
“Believe me Cathy just be glad that you can’t.”
“Was I that bad?”
“You had my heart quite a flutter I can tell you.” He smiled down at her.
Catherine gasped, “Not you too? I didn’t?”
“Not quite. It was only thanks to Vincent anticipating the moment that saved me from your grasp.” He chuckled again, “I don’t know whether I should be grateful to him or not.”
Despite herself Catherine laughed. Father smiled, “That’s better. It’s not all doom and gloom my girl, though a few people will no doubt give you a few shifty glances for a while and no doubt you will be teased mercilessly, but if you can’t remember then that’s half the battle.”
“But supposing I do? Father will you do something for me?” her eyes pleaded with him. He nodded.
“Can you have Vincent return. I must speak with him. Please Father?”
“I’m not sure that would be wise Cathy. Vincent was relieved to know that you were not of your own mind, and that you had been drugged, but he was very reluctant to say anymore about it, and I found his behaviour most strange just before he left this morning with Mouse. In fact I was surprised given the circumstances that he went at all. Now from what you have told me, I can begin to see why.”
“You don’t think…?” Her voice trailed away.
“I don’t know what to think. Vincent was adamant not to take advantage of you in that condition, but Cathy he’s only human after all?”
“No Father you’re wrong. Not about the human bit.” She hurried to assure him, Vincent was the most human person she knew, “I mean that Vincent wouldn’t, he just wouldn’t take advantage like that. I know him.”
“But do you know the dark one? Cathy I saw you, you literally groped him and held on for dear life. Vincent had to physically restrain you from touching him further, and it was a strain on him to do so, even I could see that. Whatever happened at the waterfall I don’t know, but if you’re behaviour was anything similar to the way it was here, then anything could have happened, and it would certainly show light upon Vincent’s recent behaviour.”
“No.” Catherine was shaking her head, “No he wouldn’t have, he wouldn’t have.” Tears slipped unheeded down her cheeks.
Father patted her shoulder, “My dear I hope you’re right.”
*** *** ***
To be continued in Chapter Four - click on 'Next' below:
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