Star Spangled Night Mare
(The Original BatB Edition)

Star Spangled Night Mare
The Beauty and the Beast Version

An unusual adventure turns to disaster yet even so these night mares make Vincent & Catherine's dreams come true.

This story was discovered online by American actor James Devin who wrote seeking permission to turn it into a feature length film. Thus with the help of a few batb friends the story was modified to extract all aspects of batb and turn it into a similar story involving another family, namely a grandfather and his two grown grandsons. The book of the film was published by Publish America entitled Star Dappled Night-Mare.
This is the original unedited edition written for fans of beauty and the beast.


Star Spangled Night Mare

Chapter One

Shrouded in an early morning mist, Central Park was quiet and magical. The time of day when everything seemed unreal, as the sun was beginning to bathe everything in a golden glow. Cool and fresh, the dew filled air clung to everything, dripping like crystals from the boughs of the trees, and brushing the grass with refined silver.

Vincent trod silently through the early morning mist, his cloak pulled tightly around him, his heart in tatters. Another night had passed all too quickly with Catherine and his arms felt desolate without her, as he walked home alone.
The sadness which so often prevailed when he was forced to leave with the dawn, had now become a tragedy, and Vincent was at a loss as to know what to do to ease that pain.

Seeing less of her, had seemed a reasonable idea at first, but he found he simply could not bear the seclusion he had brought upon himself to be without her. He needed Catherine just as surely as he needed air. She brought a brightness to his world, a brightness that lightened every dark corner of his very existence, and he had no desire to seek that which he had left behind, in the dark days before he had known her.

His footsteps, soundless, as he walked towards home, his mind deep in thought, he did not sense that someone walked level with him through the mist, until a muffled voice sounded beside him, “Vincent is that you?”
Instantly, Vincent recognised the voice, and happiness surged through him as he swung around to face its owner. “Devin!” He cried, his misery gone, and replaced by a sudden flare of joy, as he reached out long arms, to draw his brother into an affectionate embrace. “What are you doing up and about so early?”
“Waiting for you actually. I came Below last night, and got up early, thinking it would be nice to walk home with you.”
“It was a very thoughtful gesture.”
“Maybe, but you seemed so deep in thought. I’m sorry if I disturbed you Vin.”
“Don’t apologise, I am happy to see you, and besides I appreciate the distraction.” Vincent told him sincerely, as walking onwards, towards the drainage culvert, the entrance to his world, Vincent took up step alongside Devin, feeling his brother’s curiosity, but determined to look straight ahead.
“Have you been with Cathy?” Devin asked softly.
“Yes.” The blue of Vincent’s eyes misted over once, as the softly spoken affirmation was wrenched out from him.
Within that one word, Devin recognised caution, and judged his next question accordingly, “How’s it going with you two?” feeling not a bit surprised, when his brother delivered a single syllable answer once again. “Well.” was all he said not offering any other explanation. Devin decided it was best to ignore this line of questioning, obviously something was not right, but he would leave it for now, and instead smiled wistfully, changing tactics, “Its funny isn’t it. When you think of things Vincent. I mean. Here I am, free to come and go as I please, see the world, have a ball, and yet I have searched endlessly for that certain someone to make life have meaning. Whereas you, never able to do any of those things, stay here, and meet the most beautiful woman in the world, and to top it all have her fall in love with you. Man, that is so annoying, for me I mean.” He laughed, bringing Vincent out of his reverie, and joining him in laughter, until his predicament forced sadness upon him once again, a sadness which Devin was again quick to notice, and he could no longer pretend to ignore it, “What is it Vincent. Is something wrong?”
Vincent sighed deeply before replying, “For you, such a love would have a natural progression, there would be no shame for you in such a love, but for me…” Vincent paused, splaying out his hands either side of him in a helpless gesture, “there can be no such progression. What I share with Catherine has to be no more than friendship.” He finished sadly.
Devin stopped, waited for Vincent to do likewise and turn back to face him, before he asked, “Why?” Truly he was stunned, “I mean why only friendship? Vincent the woman is crazy for you. I saw that the last time I was here. Her eyes follow you with hunger, do you mean to tell me that you haven’t ravaged her yet?”
Vincent smiled wryly, Devin’s choice of words making it so, and expelled a long low sigh, “If I was not as I am, I should want for nothing more.”
“Oh Vincent, quit putting yourself down. ‘If I was not as I am’, really! The woman loves you because of what you are. Vincent she is holding everything out to you on a plate, can’t you see that?”
Slowly Vincent nodded, “Yes, I am not so blind that I do not know how Catherine feels.” Suddenly his voice rose and broke as he confessed, “How I feel!”
“So, you do want her?” Devin asked, waiting while Vincent struggled to reply, his face shielded by his beautiful mane of hair, dampened slightly by the early morning mist, and concealing the anguish in his eyes, until Vincent finally whispered, “To my shame yes.”
“Oh Vincent,” Devin shook his head, “We have got to do something about this. If not, its gonna crack you up.” They walked onwards again, as Vincent sighed raggedly, and told his brother, “I fear I have already entered that roadway,” and Devin noticed even through the morning mist, how sullen Vincent’s eyes had become, and knew the truth of his brother’s words. Immediately he took hold of him, hugging him fiercely, “Look don’t let it eat you up Vincent, I’m here for a couple of days, we’ll talk about this, huh, really talk, try to iron out some of the fears that hold you back from making that final commitment. Believe me, Vincent you have every right to love as much as the next man, and its offered to you by a beautiful woman who could have any man. Half your luck.”
“Exactly!” Swinging around to face his brother once again, this time Devin saw the fire and unshed tears in Vincent’s eyes, as he went on desperately, “Catherine could have any man, and it shows poor insight that she should want me above all those other real men.”
“Is Cathy prone to making poor judgements then?”
Vincent stared at his brother wide eyed, before replying, “Never! In her line of work such a mistake could prove fatal.” feeling cornered when Devin continued, “Then why do you believe she has made such a mistake when it comes to you?” Vincent sighed, Devin was very clever with words, but he did not know a thing about the complexity of his and Catherine’s relationship and Vincent replied softly, “Because Catherine is in love with the fantasy of our relationship.”
“And you’re not?”
“No. Yes. I don’t know.” Vincent shook his head, as if it would free his mind of the uncertainty, “ Devin why were you always so good at snaring me?”
Devin laughed, “Just trying to get you to see sense Vincent. This relationship that you and Cathy share, it might seem like a fantasy because of what you are, but really Vincent, the pain is oh so real, and you are suffering are you not?”
Vincent bowed his head, pulling his hood up tighter to conceal his eyes, “Yes.” he whispered. As Devin whispered back, “Because you want to make love to her and daren’t?”
A groan escaped Vincent before he could stop it. He had not dared to utter those words even to himself, but now they were there, borne on the wind, in front of his eyes, and he could no longer hide from them, “Yes.” He rasped, and shuddered with longing knowing that only with Devin could he be so honest.
Taking hold of his arm, Devin led his brother through the last few steps of the park, and down into the dimness of the drainage culvert, stopping only when they reached the big sliding door. “I’m going to help you Vincent, if its the last thing I do, I am going to help you and Catherine reach and climb over this stage in your lives, you don’t need to suffer like this.”
As a last ditch attempt to refuse, Vincent sought the only means available, “Father would not approve.”
“To hell with Father! When ever have I done as the old man wishes when it comes to you, huh? Vincent, listen to me.” Devin shook Vincent hard for emphasis. “Catherine wants you to love her, even I know that. The poor girl fairly vibrates with longing when she is around you,” Devin laughed, “Well perhaps not so much vibrate, but I have seen it Vincent, and I know the signs and believe me, those signs tell me how badly she wants you.”
Vincent shuddered, his arousal flaring into life, as such erotic thoughts filled his mind, an action Devin was quick to notice. “You’re not so different from the next man Vincent, and don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise. Catherine loves you, she’s got the hot’s for you, and too many cold showers can’t be that good for the body. Not when the alternative is dependant on the mere fact of getting things sorted in your own mind. You have got to stop this thinking that you will hurt her. You could never hurt her you love her too much. And love is the most powerful emotion in the universe Vincent, far more powerful than the strength of the beast, and it would not allow you to hurt her. So you must stop looking upon yourself as different to a degree that Catherine has shown poor judgement for once in her life, because believe me, Vincent she hasn’t, Cathy has seen past the differences, and if she can do that, then so can you. Think about it, yes there are differences, but Cathy loves you nonetheless. And to one who knows you well, she is getting the most wonderful man in the world. You’re unique Vincent, so don’t deny her the right to love you, as she desires to love you.”
Vincent exhaled a sigh with a touch of humour, “Father would be proud of you,” he smiled, his blue eyes lighting up, “Perhaps not so much for the content, but certainly that was the biggest speech you have ever given, and not a word out of place.”
Devin joined in his brother’s smile, stepping over the threshold from the park to their secret world, and waited as Vincent closed the grid door, and pressed the mechanism to slide the inner door home.
“Let me ask you one thing Vincent, just so I am completely sure.”
Pulling down his hood, Vincent inclined his head, his blue eyes filled with anticipation as he awaited Devin’s question, and nodded just once.
“I know we have glossed over it, but I want to ask you outright, Do you envisage a life with Catherine, as any man would, with the woman of his dreams?”
“Yes, but a dream is all it is.” Vincent replied wistfully.
“That’s all any of us have to start with Vincent.” Devin made to step forwards towards the home chambers, when Vincent caught his arm, and turned him back, “Aren’t you going to elaborate on that?”
“No need, you answered the question Vincent, ‘only in your dreams’, well now, its time to build from those dreams Vincent. Reality is staring you in the face, you only have to reach out and take hold of it Vincent, and all your dreams will come true. The only problem, will be in making you accept that.”
Vincent laughed out loud, he doubted very much that a few well chosen words would alter the way he felt about his relationship with Catherine, but Devin’s visit was still a welcome one nonetheless, and one he would greatly enjoy. Not since they were boys had they had such enlightening conversations, and Vincent looked forward to it immensely. If nothing else could be resolved, it would at least afford him with a chance to talk to someone about his feelings and desires for Catherine, and that in itself could be all the healing that he needed.

Reaching the soft amber glow of the home chambers some time later, Devin watched as Vincent made his way to his chamber, choosing instead to seek breakfast rather than accompany him there, “You get some rest Vincent, we’ll talk later huh? Pleasant dreams.”
Vincent smiled, not missing the emphasis on the last two words, and turned instead, not for his chamber, but another place he had intended to visit before he had met Devin in the park.

*** *** ***

With bitter sweet feelings, Vincent made his way to the Waterfall, knowing as he did so, that even though Catherine was now sleeping peacefully, her dreams were fitful, starting her awake, and it did nothing to lessen his pain to know that he was to blame for that.
The previous evening had been a perfect one, which after four days of determined separation, Vincent had gone to her, drawn as a hummingbird to nectar. And the moment he had tapped upon the balcony doors, Catherine had dropped everything and had raced to fling open the doors to fly into his arms, whimpering with joy as he crushed her to him, and burying her face into his chest and filling her lungs with the scent of him. “I’ve missed you.” She told him breathily, her eyes telling of her sorrow, and Vincent had berated himself on being apart from her for so long, knowing he had caused her unnecessary pain, and all because he could not give her what she needed from him the most.
“I’ve missed you too.” He had told her sincerely, holding her tighter, and feeling her body mould to his, closing his eyes tightly, fighting against the need to love her. Feeling her sorrow as she asked, “Why do we do it Vincent?” He had looked down into her pain filled eyes, not needing to question her further, and could only groan at the desire held there for him.
“Catherine.” His voice was filled with all the longing he held for her, as the love in her eyes had overwhelmed him.
“Please Vincent.” Catherine whispered, “I need you.” Her lips trembled as she spoke, and Vincent could feel the need in her through the bond. Every fibre of her being screamed out for his touch. And Vincent could not help his own body from trembling in response. The four days away had solved nothing.
Four days of unbearable agony, in the belief that the space would do them good, had done nothing but fuel the ever present fire that now raged between them. Devin was right in that respect, something had to be done, or it would send him quite mad, send them both mad.
And every day that he left her unfulfilled with the dawn, he drove another knife deeper into her heart, just as surely as if he were killing her. He felt this pain, he knew how being together was tearing them apart, yet he was loath to be without her.
Remembering now, Vincent moaned softly from deep within his chest, the sound rumbling through his frame, until it erupted in a mighty roar, resounding against the hard rock in an echo that was sucked away by the rush of water cascading from the falls. And Vincent grasped hold of the cavern wall tightly, his eyes clouded over in his anguish, not knowing the way out, and fearful of the way forward, yet knowing without a doubt that something had to change. For a certainty, they would go quite mad if they continued the way that they were.

*** *** ***

“Where’s Vincent?” Father frowned, when he saw his dark haired son walk into the kitchen, led by the spicy aroma of herbal tea on the boil, and the succulent juices of hot cinnamon muffins coated in honey butter. Father had distinctly heard the pipes announcing both his sons’ arrival not many minutes since, as they had entered the main hub of the underground world.
“He’ll be along later. Don’t worry Dad, nothing will keep Vincent away from hot muffins, if I know him.” he attempted a laugh which didn’t quite sound sincere, causing Father to frown once again, “How can I not worry. I spend the whole night fearful of Vincent’s time above, and though the pipes tell me that he is home, I can never truly relax until I see him safe and well alongside me.” Father paused, wrestling with some hidden thought, and finally deciding as he asked, “Devin, has Vincent said anything to you this morning, you seem a trifle out of sorts since you went to meet him?” For not only had Devin’s words portrayed this feeling, but his actions had also. For usually within minutes of heaping his plate full of honeyed muffins, Devin would have wolfed every one down and be returning for more, but this morning however, Devin took his time, biting into each muffin and chewing absentmindedly, almost as if his mind were elsewhere.
“You are very astute old man,” Devin played for time, ‘what, if anything should he tell him?’
“It comes with age. You’ll see. “Father’s attempt at light-heartedness brought the smile to Devin’s face he had intended, along with the response.
Devin laughed softly, “I must remember that. As to your other question, I think it best you speak with Vincent about it.”
Stroking his chin thoughtfully with one hand, Father pushed his own muffin free plate aside, picking at the crumbs with a relish hard to ignore.
“Shall I fetch you another?” Devin asked, and without awaiting an answer got up, to collect another honey coated muffin for his father, and three more for himself, even though the three already on his plate were partially untouched. Father raised his eyes, as Devin delivered his bundle to the two plates before them, a smile touching the corners of his son’s mouth in response, “I’m a growing boy dad, and its ages since I’ve eaten anything so delicious. One can get very bored with the basics of wild berries and hazelnuts you know.”
“You could always come back to living below.” Father told him softly, a twinkle in his eye.
“And leave the mountains! No way.” Devin grinned. His home in the Appalachian mountains might be a burden at times, but he could never trade its raw beauty for the dismal underground world of his childhood years. Never had he felt freer than he did in the mountains.
“So back to Vincent.” Father spoke softly once again, fearful of being overheard as the kitchen began to fill with other muffin scent drawn, tunnel dwellers. Devin chuckled as he watched them. Almost hypnotic in their actions, some still in their night wear, coming in through the tunnel entrance, pick up a plate, and filling it with William’s delicious fare, which seemed never ending in its supply. William must derive immense pleasure from feeding others, Devin thought lazily, as the mountain of muffins never seemed to diminish, despite the many hands that reached for them, filling plates, and finally hungry mouths, as each person found a place to sit.
“To Vincent.” Devin echoed, his eyes fixed firmly upon his own one remaining muffin. Father frowned, when had his son consumed the other five? He had not noticed at all.
“Excuse me.” Devin played for time, what could he say anyway, really this problem was not his to disclose? He pushed back his chair once again, and rose to walk across to where the tea steamed merrily upon the stove, “I need to get some tea, to wash this lot down.”
“Bring me one too will you Devin. Much as I adore William’s finest cooking, I have to admit being a glutton to this fare, and the embarrassment of having it stick around my dentures.”
Devin was half way across to the stand from where he could pour the tea, when his father’s words sank in. He was amazed, and returning with two brimming cups of herbal tea, told his father, “I didn’t know you wore false teeth.”
“Keep your voice down Devin, don’t tell everyone. Besides, I haven’t many. Most are my own, there was just that time in the rock fall, almost a year ago, when I broke a few, and had to have them capped, and the dentist insisted that a few others were in a bad way and would need removing. You know how I have always insisted that the children should eat their greens and not too many sweets, how could I let them know, that I, who eat very little in the way of sweets and much in the way of fresh vegetables and fruit, had rotten teeth. Huh, how could I explain that, and still insist that they eat their greens?” Father’s eyes rose heavenwards, causing a chuckle to burst forth from his son, “Then it must have been your addiction for muffins, coated in honey butter Father that caused this tooth decay, perhaps you should caution the children about those too.” Devin grinned wickedly.
“Have a heart Devin. An old man like me needs something sweet from time to time.”
Devin laughed out loud, causing heads to turn and smile in his direction, before resuming their own conversations, “Then perhaps you are looking in the wrong place.” Devin could not resist jollying his Father on this one, he had waited too long to find a way to bring it up.
“Meaning?” Father was quick to notice Devin’s meaning went beyond honeyed muffins.
“I mean, perhaps the sweetness you seek, is rather in the form of a person and not a food. Another kind of delicacy Father, one which you are in close association with but very often neglect.”
Father frowned, his thoughts racing, his mind yelling, ‘don’t you dare say it Devin, don’t you dare.’ And he refused to be baited, using the conversation to swiftly bring it back to the subject in hand, “If you mean Vincent, then yes you are right, I am in close association to him, but you are wrong in that I neglect him, I simply do no such thing.”
A hot flush crept up Father’s throat, infusing his cheeks. ‘How did he do?’ Had he successfully swept aside Devin’s real meaning, and allowed his son to believe he had thought he’d meant Vincent all along, when he knew full well, that Devin had been aiming at Mary? Something he didn’t want to have to think about right now, though many people had been hinting things along those lines just lately. For a second, Father allowed himself to wonder, perhaps they could see more than he could, between Mary and himself, perhaps he should give the matter more consideration, however he wasn’t about to let anyone know that he would, least of all Devin, not right now anyway.
Devin sighed, foiled again. “You know who I meant dad. Even though you changed tactics remarkably well. Bad teeth or not sweetness or not, you know what I was aiming at. Or rather who, and you should at least reconsider your feelings in that direction, but since you have so swiftly brought our conversation back to Vincent, then know this, I too can be equally as non-committal, and re-enforce my comments of earlier. Anything to do with my brother, his whereabouts or his business is strictly that, his business, and as I said before, anything you wish to know on that score you should ask Vincent himself. You’ll get nothing from me. If nothing else Father, the one thing you do know with shining clarity above all else, is that when it comes to Vincent, my lips are sealed. However, the one thing I will say is that if you want Vincent’s happiness, then you must review your feelings towards Catherine. In so doing, Father, you will perhaps find that Vincent is more willing to confide in you about his feelings, rather than turning to me.”
Father gasped, as the sting of his son’s words slapped him. His mouth dropping open in stunned astonishment and a flare of anger rose quickly to his defence, when he stopped himself short. Was he really like that? Had he unintentionally blocked himself off from Vincent’s ability to confide in him, by his obvious disapproval of his and Catherine’s blossoming relationship?
Father stared at his son, unable to answer, waving aside Devin’s ready apology, until at last he found his voice, “No Devin, perhaps you are right, and about the other thing too. Perhaps Mary’s sweetness is what I need most in my life.” He watched as a lazy smile lit his son’s features, “Perhaps if I listened more to my heart and not to my head, I would also be more inclined to accept that love is available to everyone, even to someone like Vincent, in fact especially to someone like Vincent. Perhaps you are right. I shall indeed, give all you have said much consideration. Thank you for bringing an old man to his senses.”
Devin smiled, pushing the last piece of honeyed muffin into his mouth, unable to speak, and looked at his watch as he swallowed the last morsel, “Vincent will miss breakfast if he doesn’t hurry. Perhaps I should take him some on a tray.”
Father nodded, “Yes, do that, and tell him...tell him... No, wait, forget that, I’ll tell him myself...”
Devin rose, brushed a kiss across his father’s brow, before filling a tray with breakfast fare for his brother, and headed for the exit. His last sight of his father as he left the kitchen, one of thoughtful reasoning, and Devin could only wonder at the conversation that might take place when next his father and Vincent met to play chess together. Knowing full well that it was over the chess board that very often many a sincere discussion unfolded.

*** *** ***

Leaving the falls, Vincent continued his relentless pacing, until his feet led him towards the Chamber of the Winds, while the previous evenings’ events continued to unravel in his mind, Vincent remembered everything with sorrow. His holding of Catherine at arms length, ignoring the pleading in her eyes, he had asked, “Tell me about your day?” Then listening politely when she had told him, and trying to avert his eyes from the rise and fall of her breast, the softly rounded contours of her body, every luscious curve emphasised by the beautiful, lilac, silken gown that she had worn.
Vincent groaned now from the memory, his desire rising and overtaking him like a flash flood, the throbbing in his lions unbearable.
Why couldn’t everything be as simple as it had before?
When had everything changed?
Vincent shook his head, he knew not the answer.
One day it had seemed, everything had happened in the space of a heartbeat.
They had been enjoying one another’s company beneath the bandstand. Happy and contented, listening to the gentle harmony overhead, when he had glanced at her and seeing her eyes gently closed, drinking in the music, letting it fill her soul, a soft smile curving her lips, he had suddenly, overwhelmingly, wanted to kiss her!
And the thought would not be dismissed from his mind!
Though he pushed it away before it took root, it came back to haunt him later, when alone in his chamber, and his dreams had been filled with the desire to know what it would feel like to have her lips beneath his.
Would she welcome him?
Or would she turn from him in disgust?
And somehow, every time that they were together after that, he would catch her looking at him wistfully, and though she would look away, a soft smile playing upon her lips when his eyes met hers, he could feel something developing within her for him, like a bud bursting into flower by the touch of the sun.
And then came the day of the rock fall when he and Father had been trapped.
Faced with the possibility that she might lose him, Catherine then realised just how much she loved him, and had felt compelled to tell him so.
How good those words had made him feel, how wondrous to know that this beautiful woman could have such feelings for him!
Even though they had been quite capable of continuing with their life much the same, he could not deny that he loved her too. Nor could he deny that since the rock fall, things had started to intensify between them, though he chose for a time to ignore those feelings.
And perhaps he could have continued this way if it had not of been for the night when Catherine had helped Elliott Burch escape the men who were intent on taking his life.
Vincent nodded, yes, that’s when it began, at least for him, the day when his Catherine and Elliott Burch had been running for their lives from the men who had murdered Elliott’s father, and wanted to kill Elliott.
That was the night when he had felt Elliott kiss her, and had felt Catherine respond to that kiss.
And for the first time in all of his life, the emotion that was rottenness to the bones, had flared in his heart, and came up threatening to choke him.
The emotion of jealousy, and how he hated himself for that.
Then later in his chamber, Catherine’s words had done nothing to lessen the pain, when she had told him that she had wished it had of been him that had kissed her, instead of Elliott.
Even so, it did not escape the fact that it had been Elliott who had dared to plant his lips upon hers, Elliott, who had such a right to do so, because he was fully a man.

Reaching the Chamber Of The Winds at last, Vincent squatted and buried his face into his hands, memories of that night and as Catherine’s words once again filled his mind, Vincent made his silent response;

“You wished it were me...
Those words brought me such joy and such pain
. The pain of knowing I must not dwell upon them too long,
lest they take me in their hands.
And will not let me go.
But oh, the joy of knowing you would love me as I am,
If only I could let you.
Oh Catherine, if only I could let you!
Just to hold you close - closer than a heartbeat,
To smell the softness of your hair -
Is a wonderment I thought I would never know -
And this must be enough.
Ours can never be a life without limits,
Nor a love without limits,
Such a love can only live within my imaging,
Yet (that night) for a moment, I let myself dream,
Because of the words you spoke,
Because of a remark you made,
I remembered, all too clearly, how only hours before -
Without thought - I had kissed your hand.
were your lips so far away

Deep inside himself, Vincent moaned, closing his eyes to the sorrow of what could never be. Must never be!
Dreams were all that could be his, for if he allowed Devin to misguide him to believe he could have more than his dreams, he might, in turn, lose everything.
Although he well knew that the intensive feelings he and Catherine shared had also to be confronted, but not in that way, never that way!
So surely Devin was wrong? Unique he may be, and he was different, but he was too different, and could never cross over the boundary that separated him from Catherine’s world, could never be the man that Catherine desired him to be. So why was it that no-body could see that?
Other than Father of course.
Dear kind Father, ever his strength and his stronghold. When desire for Catherine was breaking him down, there was Father. At least in Father, he knew someone cared how he felt in all this. At least Father was someone who would help him to remain strong in his belief that such things could never be! Father at least knew the folly of such a relationship. Such things, Father had told him repeatedly, were not for him.
If anything, it were Catherine who had to be made to realise that what they shared was just a dream, for he had already accepted this fate. Hadn’t Father spent his life making him accept that?
No, it were Catherine, who had to accept that such a deepening relationship between the two of them was fantasy. Could never be anything more, and only when Catherine had accepted the truth of that, could they recapture the innocence that they had shared between them as before.

Somewhat relieved, Vincent stood up to return to his chamber, feeling much better and knowing strongly that if Devin helped anyone it would have to be Catherine.
For Vincent did not know if he could speak to her himself without giving in to the pull of her eyes.
And thus, destroying all that they had.

*** *** ***

Chapter Two

When Devin finally located Vincent much later back in his chamber, the muffins were quite cold, but Vincent did not seem to mind, eating them with the relish of a starving man. Until replete and satisfied, he turned towards his brother and almost at once a rapid conversation began between them. Vincent highlighted what he thought was the best thing all round to ease the problem, to have Catherine know that a deepening relationship between the two of them was out of the question.
“I think you’re wrong Vincent”, Devin told his brother, “Is there no way that I can change your mind?”
Vincent shook his head, his blue eyes misting over, “I know what you think, what you wish to say, but you of all people understand the makeup of me, of the beast. Passion and rages are as one, the power unleashed within each could destroy Catherine, could you honestly say that this would not occur?”
“You’re thinking of what happened with Lisa aren’t you?”
“How can I not?”
“You have to let it go Vin, that was a long time ago. At a time when you were incapable of control, a time when you were only just discovering things about yourself.”
“A time when even you experienced such loss of control. Devin! You of all people should know what I am capable of, what these hands are capable of!” Vincent held out his treacherous hands in front of the two of them, emphasising the pointed ends. The claws rigid and fierce.
“Yet you use those very same hands to extract splinters from the children, or to caress the brow of the afflicted ones when they are suffering. I have seen the gentleness too Vincent, along with the power. Along with the rages, you are quite capable of both, and I believe that even if passion should engulf you, this would not result in evil, no, far less than that.” Devin turned his thoughts inwards, to a recent event with himself, “Love inspires warmth, caring, tenderness. Believe me Vincent you could never harm Catherine, not even in the heights of passion.”
Vincent looked at his brother deeply, “Out there in the park you made mention that you had never found that certain someone to share your life with, yet just now, when you spoke, your words belied the message previously conveyed. Do you speak from experience Devin. Is there someone in your life?”
Devin nodded slowly, turning his gaze away, looking instead to the floor, towards the very pretty patchwork rug laid out upon it. It was new, one he had not seen on an earlier visit. He smiled ruefully, no doubt Vincent got through quite a lot of rugs with his relentless pacing. “What is her name?” Vincent whispered, sensing his brother’s reluctance to talk about her.
Devin exhaled a short sharp burst of humour, “Funnily enough her name is Katherine, but with a K, her friends call her Kat, but to me she is Kitty.” Devin laughed, “Have you ever realised Vincent, how Catherine has a cat in her name too. I mean her name could have been Susan or Jennifer or Tracy, but no, its Cat...herine, doesn’t that in itself tell you anything? Like having part of you in her name shows that you should be together.”
Vincent laughed out loud, “Cat. Herring. That’s the fishiest tale I have ever heard.”
Devin laughed too. “Touché’.” Only Devin could touch upon Vincent’s make up and get away with it.
Serious again, both for a time fell silent, until Devin spoke his thoughts out loud, “She’s gorgeous, I’ve never met anyone I feel so in tune with.”
Vincent looked up, Devin’s words breaking him from his own reverie. “Kitty?” He questioned, watching as Devin nodded, his brown eyes taking on a distant look.
“She’s married.” Devin whispered.
Vincent found there was nothing he could say. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing he could say, he knew would ease his brother’s grief. It appeared that Devin’s Katherine was just as out of reach as his own Catherine was to him. The pain of that knowledge brought about a further anguish for Vincent, and he sighed raggedly, ‘Why was the pathway of love such an uneven one?’
“She isn’t happy though.” Devin went on, bit by bit, unravelling his thoughts openly, “except when she is with me.”
“You spend time together?” Vincent was amazed, he had assumed that the woman’s marriage would have been sufficient reason for Devin to keep away.
“I love her.” Devin stated flatly, “and she loves me.”
“But she is married.” Vincent stated, obviously shocked.
“And unhappy.” Devin mused softly.
“It doesn’t make it right Devin. She isn’t free to love you.”
“Not yet, but she will be Vincent. She’s filing for divorce. When she’s free, I will marry her.” Devin spoke earnestly, from the heart.
“Does her husband know?”
“About me?”
Devin nodded, “No. Not that we are aware of.”
“Have they any children?” Vincent had seen enough of what divorce did to children, from those abandoned and abused that lived below, so he was relieved when Devin answered, “No, there are no children. Kitty would have loved to have a child, but James, that’s her husband, is anti-children. Pity he wasn’t anti-women also.” Again that callous laughter erupted from Devin, and Vincent felt compelled to put his arm around his brother’s shoulders hugging him close.
“What a pair we are.” He told him softly, making Devin smile, just a little, “Must be a Catherine thing.” Devin remarked casually, attempted light-heartedness, which didn’t quite reach his eyes, stunning Vincent, when suddenly, he shook himself free of his brother’s embrace and stood up, “But we mustn’t let it get us down Vincent. Its just a moment in time, things will work out you’ll see, for the both of us. It can Vincent, if you let it, you can have your Catherine too.”
Vincent shook his head, “For you maybe, and I sincerely hope you and your Katherine do find the happiness you seek, alas for me, things are quite different.”
“No they’re not Vincent, you are just placing obstacles where there need be none. Look, life blocks us in its own ways, you don’t need to add to them. Let it go Vincent, trust me, love is the greatest emotion in the universe, it towers over evil, and nothing can break it when it is at its firmest, you couldn’t hurt Catherine, you just couldn’t.”
Vincent shook his head, again reaffirming his belief, “I could. Devin you know me, you have seem me grow, you know my strengths and my weaknesses, and you of all people could make Catherine accept that a normal life between us must never be. Please Devin, despite all that you say to the contrary, please listen to me. There is no-one else that Catherine can talk about this, no-one that would understand, but maybe for you. Please Devin, will you speak with her, convince her that a deeper relationship between the two of us could never be, for I do not trust myself to speak with her of it?”
A deep sigh of despair, escaped Devin’s lips, “I still say you are wrong Vincent, I don’t want to do that. Besides, even should I try, she might show me the door or something.”
Vincent nodded, his eyes crinkling at the corners with humour, “Yes she might.”
Devin smiled, “Oh what the hell. It wouldn’t be the first time a beautiful woman has kicked me out of her apartment.” He smiled then, in remembrance, before continuing, “Okay, I’ll go and see her for you, though let it not be for me to say I told you so when I come home with a flea in my ear.”
“That you tried is good enough for me.” Vincent told him.
Devin sighed deeply, resigning himself to the inevitable, “You want me to go now?”
“Now’s as good a time as any.” Vincent remarked lazily, his heart hammering against the strength of his words, watching as Devin rose from the chair to pick up his jacket, and walk towards the exit. “I hope you never live to regret this Vincent.” Devin’s parting words echoed behind him, drowning out Vincent’s ragged sigh, for already he was regretting it.

*** *** ***

It was one thing agreeing to carry out the deed however, but quite another to do so, and by the time Devin had crossed the park, and stepped into the road to cross over to Catherine’s apartment building, he’d had a change of heart, because he knew without a doubt, that whatever Vincent believed to the contrary, the only way open to Vincent and Catherine now, was forward and not back.
No, Devin reasoned, Catherine and Vincent’s best option was for someone to give them both a gentle push in the right direction, and he was just that someone to do it. Besides, he’d had an ulterior motive for visiting his brother this weekend, a gift he wanted to extend to both Vincent and Catherine, and in light of the way things were, Devin mused that his idea couldn’t have come at a better time.
Later, as the door of number eighteen slowly opened to his persistent knocking, Devin’s smile of greeting left his face when he saw Catherine standing there. She had always looked so immaculate, so healthy, so vibrant with life, yet today, she looked none of those things. Too many sleepless nights had robbed her eyes of their lustre, and had been replaced by a dull distress that now filled those once beautiful grey/green depths, lighting up only for the moment of seeing him standing there. “Devin!” she exclaimed happily, before frowning and adding, “Does Vincent know you are here?”
“Yes, I’ve just come from him actually. Can I come in?”
“Yes of course”, Catherine replied, holding open the door wider, while he stepped inside, looking all around the spacious room, with the sunlight streaming in through the windows, it looked inviting and bright, “Nice place you have here.” he told her.
“Thank you, yes I like it.” Catherine’s mind was a whirl of confusion. Why had Devin come here? He’d never visited before, not even when he was carrying out his fraudulent position in the D.A’s office.
As Catherine grasped hold of her chaotic thoughts, she became aware that Devin had spoken, and she blushed, “I’m sorry what did you say?” Though she thought she had heard right, but needed to make sure.
“I said, you like living here but not as much as you would like to be living Below instead, right?” Catherine’s mouth dropped open. Quickly regaining her composure, to ask him, “Why are you here Devin, what can I do for you?” She chose to ignore his previous words. They were like a thorn in her side.
“Its not what you can do for me, its what I can do for you. Sit down Cathy this might take some time.”
Catherine sat without question, her mind in a whirl.
“Vincent asked me to come to see you. He’s given me quite a lecture this morning I can tell you, about how if he wasn’t as he is, he would be everything you want him to be, but because of what he is, this is impossible.” He mimicked the soft tones of his brother’s voice, causing Catherine’s mouth to quirk at the corners, before laughing openly. Oh how well she knew those words.
Devin warmed to her laughter, “I do declare Catherine, that you see this, just as I do.”
“And I suppose you are going to tell me what that is?” she smiled, her eyes lighting up with mischief. She hadn’t felt quite so light-headed in a long time.
“Yes, as utter nonsense. Actually my brother thinks I am here to help you see the error of your ways for desiring him as you do.”
A soft blush crept up her throat to infuse her cheeks, though she laughed out loud when she pictured this conversation taking place between Vincent and Devin, “And I take it you don’t wish to do that Devin?” She asked him.
“No way! So how about you and I working towards the problem rather than away from it. I take it that you do want this relationship to become deep and meaningful?”
Catherine blushed hotly, but could not stop her lips from twitching with mirth, as bright eyed now, she nodded, not trusting herself to speak.
“Good, that’s what I hoped you’d say. Now do I take it I have your rapt attention, on seeking a way to teach my stubborn brother the delights of loving?”
“Oh yes.” Catherine replied, a twinkle lighting her eyes, “What do you have planned?”
“Well as it happens, my visit to Manhattan was not without a reason. I had assumed that by now, you and Vincent would have grown closer. And might be in need of a get away, and some time to yourselves, without my overbearing Father breathing down your necks.” He laughed, before continuing, “Well, I was reading a newspaper recently....” he paused, taking time to withdraw a badly creased newspaper cutting from his pocket, “and I came across this. I thought it would be perfect for the two of you. I shouldn’t mind having a go at it myself one day. You can keep this copy, I have another at home for myself. Go on read it.”
Handing the cutting across to Catherine, she took and unfolded it, drawing her brows together as she began to read aloud, “Star Spangled Nightmares? Whatever is that?”
“Keep reading, you’ll see.” Devin told her, grinning.
Looking back to the advertisement, Catherine read aloud;

‘Star Spangled Night-Mares’
You tell us the location and we provided the perfect entertainment.
Want to know more?
Then read on.
Just choose one of the following dates, which correspond with a moonlit night,
and ring us to book as many Nightmares as you wish.
Price per Nightmare $200 per night
plus $500 refundable deposit on the safe return of
each Night-Mare.
For complete details please read small print below.

Catherine read the words, right through the small print, and bit by bit her eyes lit up, and as her smile deepened, Devin knew that he had chosen well.
“What do you think Cathy?” Devin asked eagerly.
Catherine looked up at him, laughter crinkling the corners of her eyes, as she told him, “I think its wonderful. I’ve never heard of it before, is it something new?”
“Yes. It was started by a mate of mine actually, quite by accident after a joke I told him went sour,” Devin laughed loudly at the memory, before continuing, “and the idea was borne. Its been a huge success Cathy. All you need to do is choose one of the given dates, and find your own location, and as it happens I know the perfect place, then you give these people a ring, and book a night mare or two, or three, or as many as you need. Believe me Cathy, Vincent will love this.”
“I will love it! It’s a great idea, but how will we convince Father and the others that Vincent should go?”
“I’ve been thinking of about that. The place I have in mind is very secure, it can be hired for weekend retreats, and is so isolated, even a map wouldn’t get you there, you have to know it, and I do. And this is what I propose we do. We take Father there first. Let him see the place, on some pretence or another at first, not letting him in on the plan until he has been there. And then tell him that during the time Vincent and you are there, I will patrol the boundaries and ensure that no-one gains access, not that I think they would anyway, but as far as Father is concerned, all the avenues must be explored. Once that is done we are halfway there. Father convinces the council, and the next part is getting Vincent to agree, which with your wiles should not be too difficult. I think right now, you would only have to whistle and Vincent would appear like a little lap dog, because despite what he tells himself, he wants you as much as you want him Cathy, believe me.”
A hot glow rushed through Catherine and she blushed, “There’s only one thing that bothers me, Devin. How does having a nightmare ensure that Vincent’s mind will be changed on that score?”
“What! A clever little lawyer like yourself hasn’t worked that one out? Come now Cathy, think about this. An isolated house, just the two of you, miles from Below, where he can’t run to. Champagne provided by yours truly stood on ice, that is the champagne will be stood on ice, not me.” Catherine burst out laughing picturing this, as Devin went on with a smile quirking the corners of his mouth. “Exotic fruits just yearning to be bitten a huge four poster bed just begging to be slept in. Soft lights, soft music, you know the score Cathy. A beautiful gown to change into. You don’t need me to tell you the rest, I trust you can imagine that all by yourself?”
Catherine nodded, chucking a cushion at him, squealing with laughter, as she pictured the scene unfolding before her eyes, oh yes, she could manage the rest by herself well enough, she just hoped that Vincent would play along.
Almost reading her thoughts Devin told her, “Don’t worry Cathy, Vincent can do no less than fulfil your dreams in such a setting, he may be strong but he’s not superhuman, even Vincent could not fail to be unleashed under such conditions.”
Suddenly Catherine frowned, “That’s just it, are we wrong to set him up like this Devin. If he doesn’t really want to do?”
“You’ve got that wrong Cathy, I’ve spoken to him, he does want to do, but being what he is, is holding him back. And the more I think about it, hiring a nightmare will do him the world of good. Then for once he can do what everyone else is doing, take part in a new gimmick, and thoroughly enjoy himself. One tip though, you had better book a nightmare now, because there is quite a waiting list. They have only so many nightmares as yet you see.” He hesitated, watching her face, and finally asking, “Come on Cath what do you say?”
A smile that deepened the more she thought of it, lit Catherine’s face, “I say we do it.” She told Devin.
“Good, but there’s only one drawback...”
Catherine shot him an enigmatic smile, before asking, “And what is that?”
Devin grinned sheepishly, endearing him to her at once, “You’re paying.”

When Devin had left her, Catherine thought over his words, while looking up at the clock to check the time.
Star Spangles’ opened at ten am, and it was almost that now, so Catherine picked up the newspaper cutting in one hand, and the telephone in the other, and dialled, waiting some time, before her call was answered, until finally there was a soft click and a young woman’s voice welcomed, “Good Morning, Star Spangles, can I help you?”
“Good morning, my name is Catherine Chandler, I should like to hire a couple of night mares please.”
“Do you have a date in mind? We are quite booked up for the coming weeks.”
“Not really, how far ahead are you booked?”
“Right through March so far, the earliest we can do it would be April 11th.”
Catherine gasped, it would be perfect, the day before she had known Vincent three years, it was too good an offer to miss, and they could use the event as their anniversary celebration.
“April 11th would be wonderful. Do I need to send a deposit?”
“Yes. But before I take your bank details, I need some others, can you give me your full name and address, spelling any difficult words please.”
Catherine did so, then listened as the receptionist asked her, “Now how many night mares would you be requiring?”
“Two. No, wait, make that three”, Devin, she was sure would appreciate having one himself. He had told her just before he left that she and Vincent wouldn’t need to worry about being chaperoned by him either, as he would sleep in the cabin out in the grounds. It seemed such a terrible thing to expect of him, especially as it had been his idea, so that hiring him a nightmare too, was the least that she could do.
“So that’s three nightmares for April 11th. Will there be someone available to take delivery of the nightmares sometime around six pm?”
“No, a friend.”
“Can you give me his/her name?”
“Yes. His name is Devin Wells.”
“Devin Wells!”
Catherine remembered something, “But of course you know each other. I’d forgotten.”
“Devin is a good friend of my husband’s, if it wasn’t for Devin this idea would never have come to pass. It was just a joke to start with, do you know Devin well?”
“Enough to know his jokes, please go on.” Catherine laughed.
The receptionist joined her loudly, “Then you don’t need me to tell you that the idea was borne quite by accident within one of those jokes. But once we all gave consideration to the idea, we wondered why no-one had ever thought of it before. It’s so simple, so obvious, and it has been very popular. Tell me is one of the night mares for Devin?”
“As it happens yes.”
“Then his can be on the house, we have been trying to get him to make the time to have a go ever since we started up, but he never seems to be in one place for long enough, for any of us to track him down.”
Catherine laughed, “At least long enough to give you this idea.”
“Yes, that’s true. Maybe, you will encourage him to come to the office, the day following the use of the Nightmares, we would love a chance to see him, and meet you of course. Are you and he a couple?”
For a moment Catherine wondered what she could possibly say, these people may not know anything of Devin’s background, and answered, “No, Devin’s a friend of my partner.”
“Oh I see, I’m sorry. Well before my nosy nose gets me into trouble I’d best continue with the registration. So all you need to do now, is, give me the address of the location you plan to use, and then post the directions and a deposit of $100 on to us, and then everything is set.”
“What about paying the remainder?”
“Payment is on delivery. I take it the price is featured in the advertisement that you heard about us from?”
“Yes, shown to me by Devin actually. I just times the amount by two, is that correct?”
“Yes. That’s right. I do hope that you all have a very happy Nightmare, and don’t forget what I said about getting Devin to come over, it’ll be great to see him again.”
“I’ll do my best. Thank you so much, goodbye.”
“Goodbye Miss. Chandler. Have a nice day.”

Hanging up the receiver, Catherine hugged herself with glee!
This was going to be so wonderful.
Her mind refused to let her believe that the council would prevent Vincent’s departure this time.
With Devin making certain that everything was safe for his brother, then the three of them would have the time of their lives.
Night-mares indeed? Who would have thought? It was such a simple idea. Catherine was amazed that no one had ever thought of it before.

At first when she had started to read the ad, she had been worried. Whatever was Devin thinking of? Believing it to be something akin to a murder/mystery weekend. The last thing that Vincent would want to be involved in. In fact the very idea was abhorrent, making Vincent remember all too bitterly, the people he’d had to kill to protect the ones he loved. Something he was never proud of, and wanted no reminders.
But this new idea!
Catherine could hardly contain herself.
Devin would be out in the cabin in the grounds, and after their adventure with the nightmares, she and Vincent would have that huge mansion to themselves.
A beautiful bedroom, with a four poster bed. Catherine felt a ripple of desire rush through her, it would be perfect, and so romantic.
Yes this was certainly one of Devin’s better ideas, that was for sure!

*** *** ***

Back in his chamber, Vincent was pacing in anticipation awaiting his brother’s return, and almost pounced upon Devin as he stepped through the entranceway, “Did you see her?” He asked before Devin even had time to speak.
All the way home, Devin’s mind had raced, wondering what best to tell Vincent. Certainly not the truth, not yet anyway, if ever he did. Now he was still no nearer an answer.
Gradually, Devin looked up to meet Vincent’s penetrating blue gaze with his own, and he nodded in affirmation, thinking to himself, ‘well that much is true anyway.’
“And?” Vincent questioned, almost afraid to know the answer. He had closed down on the Bond, and had no way of knowing how Catherine had felt about the matter.
“She was okay about it. You don’t have to worry anymore Vincent.”
Drawing his brows together, Vincent searched Devin’s face with disbelief, “Okay about it? That doesn’t sound like Catherine. She put up no resistance at all?”
Devin shook his head. Lying to Father was one thing, but to Vincent it was quite another. He found he could not meet Vincent’s eyes, and taking an interest in his feet, he told his brother. “It was almost as if she expected it. Though I think she was a little put out that I had brought the message.”
“Yes.” Vincent whispered, accepting his brother’s words at last, with a measure of sadness. A strained silence followed while Devin waited for him to continue, yet Vincent found there was nothing more he could say.
“So what happens next?” Devin asked, “Will you two see one another again?”
Sighing, Vincent turned, lest his brother saw the tears filling his eyes, as he whispered brokenly, “That will be up to Catherine.”
“You’ve not exactly made it easy for her you know. No doubt she will be wondering whose to make the first move. In fact she’s probably wondering if it’s worth pursuing at all.”
Vincent spun around, his eyes asking a silent, pleading question, “You think our relationship is over?”
“What do you think?” Devin didn’t like the way this conversation was leading. He was at a loss as to how far to take it, for none of this had transpired at Catherine’s apartment at all, and he hated having to lie to his brother.
A ragged sigh ripped itself from Vincent, as he flopped his large frame into his armchair and leaning his head back closed his eyes, as he replied, “I thought that sending you would make everything right. I truly believed that Catherine could be made to see how futile her desire for me is, and that by talking to someone who knows me well, she could be made to realise that a future between the two of us would be impossible. I had no wish to sever our relationship, you did make her realise that didn’t you?” Vincent groaned, “I could never live without Catherine.”
Devin dropped his body onto the bed, suddenly feeling the need to sit down also, while watching Vincent avidly.
If there was one thing he did know, it was the signs of distress that Vincent was now displaying could lead to a mental breakdown, and instantly Devin knew he had to own up, for he could not allow his brother to suffer like this.
“I’m sorry Vincent. It’s a wonder you didn’t see through me. I always was a lousy liar when it came to telling lies to you.” He paused, watching as Vincent struggled to make sense of his words.
“’ve lied to me? How so?” Vincent whispered, his heart racing with expectation, for he knew not what.
“I lied to you, from the moment I left here. I had no intention of taking your message to Catherine. None at all. I couldn’t do that. I thought it over all the way there, but before I had exited the tunnels, I knew I was going to do everything in my power to bring you two together, not drive you apart. Whatever is between the two of you is a delicate matter that has to be confronted between the two of you, with no mediator.” He paused again, and heard Vincent ask, “So you didn’t go to see her?” Vincent didn’t know if he were relieved or not. Only that suddenly the dream he had visualised crumbling before his very eyes, was miraculously being built up again. Catherine did not know after all! His relief was tremendous. But Devin’s next words changed all that!
“No, Vincent, I did go to see her. I even bordered a little on the reason for going, but I am afraid, that we didn’t speak about deadening the desire Cathy feels for you....” Devin smiled impishly, “quite the opposite in fact.”
Vincent gasped. This was far worse!
His eyes wide, he left his seat and strode over to where Devin was sitting upon the side of Vincent’s large bed, and taking his hands to place behind Devin’s shoulders, he lifted his brother until they were eye to eye. “Then what exactly did you discuss?” He seethed, his heart pounding almost afraid to know.
Devin laughed shakily, trying to ease the situation, “Will you quit fighting this Vincent? I told you I would help to get the two of you together. You remember yesterday, when you came home from a night with Cathy, I told you then, I would help, before all of this cracks you both up. Well I went in there, to her apartment, unsure about what to tell her from you, and when I saw her, I could see how badly all this has affected her, and I just could not tell her those things. Instead, I drew on my earlier conviction and together we spoke of ways in which it might be possible to bring the two of you together, into a future together, rather than help in driving this wedge between you both.”
Setting his brother down, Vincent returned to his chair, his eyes blazing, and Devin watched in silence, fearful of what to expect next, as slowly Vincent calmed and his eyes were suddenly filled with relief, compassion and then amazingly, hope.
“You really believe that I could have a future with Catherine?” Vincent whispered, with obvious disbelief.
Wordlessly Devin nodded.
Vincent went on, “And Catherine? She really believes this also?”
A smile that lit his eyes, spread out across Devin’s face, “Oh yes, Vincent. You don’t have to worry on that score. My assumptions were quite correct, Catherine loves the very hairs of your head, and she has absolutely no qualms with the prospect of spending her life with you. And it was just as I speculated, she has thought over very carefully what it is that she wants from you.”
Without words, Vincent raised an eyebrow, in question, hearing Devin laugh softly, “You, Vincent, she wants you, in every sense of the word,” he laughed loudly then, as Vincent’s face took on a stance of pure disbelief.
“Oh Vincent!” Devin chortled, “For goodness sake, make love to the woman. It’s what she wants Vincent. Believe me.”
“She told you that!” Vincent was astounded to put it mildly.
“She didn’t have to do. It was written all over her face. And you know, if I have anything to do with it, I will make damn certain that the woman gets what she wants, from you that is. Come on Vincent, look at this sensibly. You have known one another for almost three years, you are compatible and you love one another. Catherine is a clever woman, she knows perfection when she sees it, and you dear brother are perfection personified, Catherine is a beautiful woman, and she wants you Vincent. And boy, does she want you!” Devin added, while thinking to himself, that Vincent never knew the half of it. Devin’s words were making Vincent’s head spin and his heart hammer painfully. Finally he found his voice and his reason, and he spoke hoarsely, “So what did the pair of you come up with?”
Devin laughed, wondering how much of the ‘plot’ he should uncover. “You probably wouldn’t believe me even if I told you, so let’s just say, that between us we are planning something quite outrageous for you, something that you will enjoy tremendously.” Devin laughed as the look on his brother’s face turned to one of utter bewilderment.
“Believe me Vincent, what Cathy and I have planned will surpass all your wildest dreams.”
Vincent laughed shakily, not knowing whether to be excited or anxious, a bit of both maybe. “Only my nightmares are wild Devin, my dreams of Catherine are something quite different.”
“Well for once, you will be able to combine nightmares and dreams Vincent, and you will find that there is pleasure in both.” Devin laughed ecstatically at his own little joke, leaving Vincent looking totally perplexed. The look, in itself, made Devin laugh harder, “Oh Vincent, take it from me brother, you are on the threshold of the real life. Don’t look so worried Vincent. I’ll even promise to be there myself just to see that all goes according to plan.”
Wide eyed, Vincent stared at his brother, ‘Devin there too? Whatever had the two of them planned for him?’ He didn’t think he dared to ask!

*** *** ***

Over the next three days, Devin spent as often as possible with Catherine, making preparations for the trip away.
The next part was getting Father to the location and Catherine wasn’t sure how best to do it. She hated having to lie and it became quite a strain on her nerves in trying to decide what was best to do.
She and Devin went from one idea to the other before they were satisfied with one that might work. Sitting in her apartment one evening before sundown, Devin told her, “Okay, so you don’t like to lie, that doesn’t apply to me, I am a wizard at it. Had to be while living Below, Father could see straight through a liar and when I had to cover for Vincent so many times, I became a dab hand at it, I can tell you.”
Catherine laughed, “Your intentions were always good then.”
“What are you saying, that they aren’t now? Cathy really!”
She laughed, “Well, this time it will be going against everything Father has convinced Vincent of, and your father is not going to be one happy person when he knows how we have deceived him.”
Devin grimaced, “And boy, how we’ll deceived him. Come now, Cathy, this is Vincent’s interests we have at heart, and your own too of course, and Father likes Vincent to be happy does he not?”
“Well put like that, how can I argue? So what do you have planned?” Catherine grinned at him happily as she sat with her knees drawn up, hugging a cushion to herself upon one of her dinky sofa’s.
“You could tell him that you want to take him out for the day, perhaps to some place that a friend of yours is thinking of buying and has asked for your opinion of. You could tell him that you didn’t want to go alone and would value his views.”
“Its a bit weak Devin. You know how your father doesn’t like to leave the tunnels. He’s hardly likely to fall for that. Especially as it would be so out of character for me to even ask it of him. And what does Father know about houses having spent thirty years in the tunnels?”
“Yes I know its a pretty dumb story, but I am certain you could make it sound convincing, and if you had Peter on standby to cover the tunnels that day, Father would have nothing to fret over on that score.” He told her hopefully but Catherine was shaking her head.
“What? What’s wrong?” Devin asked.
“This lie, of yours, it might have come from you, but it appears that it was thought up by me. I can’t say that Devin. There must be another way?”
“Not that I can think of, my brain is all frazzled out when it comes to thinking. Its already done enough getting this idea off the ground to start with.”
“Hey, I’m not ungrateful, its just that I couldn’t lie successfully. Father would know, and what’s more to the point, and something neither of us have thought of...” Devin clamped a hand to his brow, “Oh Lord, I’d forgotten about that... You mean your connection to Vincent don’t you? He would know you were fibbing?”
Catherine smiled, “Yes, he would, so the only thing I can do is tell it how it is, leaving out the reason for hiring the place for the time being.”
“And how would you do that?”
“Perhaps I could convince him, that I was thinking of taking a weekend away, but didn’t want Vincent worrying about me, and if your Father viewed the place with me, he could at least lay Vincent’s mind at rest about the place.” She shook her head and with her teeth tugged at her lip, “No that won’t do either. Its just another lie in a round about way. Look Devin loath as I am to do this, I think our best policy is to come clean. I think your father is well aware how things between Vincent and I are developing and it might be best to tell him what we’ve planned, with the exception of the night mares that is. If we told him about that, the doctor in him would rise to the surface, thinking about taking unnecessary risks and possible injuries.”
Devin was shaking his head, “I don’t fancy your chances Cathy.” He told her seriously.
“Neither do I. But Devin, its the only idea I am happy with. I will just have to hope that I am as good at gentle persuasion as I think that I am.”
“Well if your actions in the courtroom are anything to go by, I would say you’ve got it in the bag. Nonetheless, I wish you good luck Cathy, ‘cos you are gonna need it with Father.” Devin told her with a wry grin. And they both knew that was an understatement!

*** *** ***

A few days later, after Devin had returned to his home in the mountains, Vincent became aware of Catherine making her way Below. He stilled to listen to his inward feelings, and in his mind’s eye could see her making her way towards Father’s chamber, her own emotions a mixture of anxiety mingled with excitement. Straightening from his labours, Vincent drew his brows together. Catherine had made no mention of coming Below at this hour when last he had seen her home two nights previously. But then it seemed to him that since his brother had started plotting something with Catherine, much of their conversation had been stilted and strained with Catherine giving nothing away, though she couldn’t hide the fact that she was very happy to see him.
As Vincent continued to listen to his inner heart, he was surprised when he felt Catherine closing down on the Bond.
For a moment he was puzzled as to why she should do this, until he realised, and smiling to himself, continued with his work, knowing that, whatever she and Devin were planning, now needed authorisation from Father, and he, Vincent, was not to know of it.
Working in the lower levels excavating some new chambers, Vincent decided to continue hammering at the walls but to work towards winding up the day’s activities, so that he could get to see Catherine, before she left again. It would be an unexpected pleasure to see her before their arranged date for the following evening and he looked forward to it.
However, less than half an hour lapsed after this decision, when the work had to be called to a halt sooner than expected, as Jamie flew down the tunnels towards the work party her face anxious and fretful.
“Vincent!” She shouted above the din of the hammering of steel against solid rock. Vincent straightened as Jamie approached and Pascal looking over his shoulder, wondered what on earth was happening.
“Its Catherine...” Jamie shouted, panting for breath, “And Father...” She paused, to take a deep breath, “They’re fighting.”
“Fighting!” Pascal shouted in astonishment, Jamie shook her head vigorously, “Well arguing then and you should hear them, shouting abuse at one another, we can’t believe it. Vincent you must come and break it up at once.”
Vincent needed no telling, as hammer thrown to the ground, he was already half a dozen strides ahead of her, ‘Catherine and Father fighting?’ He could not believe it!

By the time Vincent arrived at the home chambers, a deathly silence had fallen over Father’s domain. Several people huddled in the tunnel just outside the entrance to Father’s chamber, as if expecting another outburst and were afraid to look inside. As Vincent passed by, several patted him on the back, wishing him luck for they knew not what.
Inside, the first thing that Vincent saw was Catherine sat in one large armchair, almost swamped by its size, her breast heaving and Father standing with his back to her, his arms outstretched upon the table for support.
Before either became aware of Vincent’s presence, Father swung around to begin shouting again, “And another thing, I suppose Devin has something to do with this? He mentioned something when he was here.”
Catherine’s eyes narrowed, “And what if he has? It’s a sound idea, borne of love. Whatever you may think, Devin does love Vincent, and he wants him to be happy too.”
Father spun around, “And you think that I don’t! Catherine, if there was a way, any way at all to do these things, don’t you think I would have done it for Vincent by now? Don’t you know what it is to watch a child grow, and be denied even the sunshine? If you have no knowledge of this, then Devin at least should have known better! If Vincent should be seen, what would become of our world then, eh? Have you thought of that?”
Catherine jumped to her feet, facing Father with eyes full of challenge, she seethed, “That’s it isn’t it? That’s the real reason? Its got nothing to do with Vincent’s well-being at all. Your overall concern is the safety of your world...”
“That’s not it at all! I’ve always cared for Vincent!” Father cut through her outburst, his eyes blazing, though both were left stunned when a mighty roar erupted over both their voices, “ENOUGH!” and turned to see the object of this fury striding towards them his blue eyes ablaze with anger.
“What is this!” Vincent demanded, looking first at Catherine and then at Father, “You can be heard through all the tunnels.”
Catherine opened her mouth to speak, and then shut it again. Father glowered at her, his accusation obvious for he was so angry that Vincent had caught them arguing about him, and with a voice filled with sarcasm, he told his son. “It would appear that Catherine and Devin have decided you need to get out more,” while shooting Catherine a malicious glare.
Catherine’s green eyes clashed with Father’s blue ones defiantly, as she replied with equal sarcasm, “And it would appear that your father disagrees with this. As usual.”
“Would either of you care to elaborate on that?” Vincent asked softly, looking from one to the other of them and back again.
Catherine shook her head, replying, “Its something Father and I need to discuss Vincent, and your acting as mediator is not going to alter things. Even though you are the subject for our discussion.”
“Discussion!” Father flared, swinging around to face Catherine, “You call this a discussion? Swanning in here, telling me what you plan to do, and hoping I’ll just fall in with it...”
“It wasn’t that way at all. And you know it!” Catherine fumed.
“Look sit down the pair of you,” Vincent asked softly, “I’m certainly not going anywhere and you can tell me just what is going on.”
Exasperated, Catherine flopped wearily back into her recently vacated chair, watching Father as he hobbled to his own, and suddenly she felt very foolish.
Devin had told her it could go disastrously wrong if she told the truth, but even she had been unprepared for the hostility that had flared up so easily, when it came to saying what she believed was best for Vincent. Loving him as she did, knowing him to be more of a man and not less, she only wanted him to have what every man could have, not to be constantly reminded of being different, and not have to be shut away because her world might cause him harm.
Father on the other hand, wanted those same things for his son, but his love went deeper, richer, knowing there was so many things out of Vincent’s reach simply because he was different. And though Father had come to accept the way of things between his son and Catherine it didn’t make it any easier to live with.
Through the now open Bond, Vincent listened to Catherine’s inner turmoil and waited patiently while she came to terms with things, knowing that she was forming a decision in her mind. He smiled approvingly when she stood up and crossed the chamber to stand in front of Father, before dropping to her knees, and placing her hands into his own clasped tightly upon his lap.
“Forgive me Father, I do apologise. I guess we both want what’s best for Vincent. It’s just that we see it from different angles.”
Seeing the sincerity in her tear filled eyes, Father took his hands away from hers and lay one on each of her shoulders, and holding her gaze with his he told her, “We are rather possessive in our love of Vincent aren’t we? Perhaps we should discuss this rationally like decent human beings.”
Catherine nodded, the tears slipping away now, “Yes. I’d like that Father.”
Vincent stood up and walking across to the pair, he bent to enfold them both in his all- embracing arms. “Whatever it is you have to discuss about me, can I trust it will now be done with diplomacy, and I can return to the lower levels to continue the work, and know that world war three will not break out in my absence?” He smiled then, his blue eyes twinkling with love for the two of them though still showing some obvious concern.
Father nodded, “Yes Vincent. I’m certain we can talk this through now, thank you. We both want the best for you, and it would appear that Catherine and Devin have a plan up their sleeve which is to be a surprise for you.”
“I know Father, Devin hinted at this when he was here. I also know that whether I participate in this surprise or not, depends largely upon yourself and the council. And whatever they think of it, though Devin has told me none of the plan, I will only agree to it, if I am convinced that everybody in our world is happy about the event taking place.” He gave Catherine a long searching look as he said the last few words and she nodded, well aware how Vincent would put the feelings of the overall community ahead of his own
“Is this true Catherine?” Father asked, his blue eyes searching hers. “Did you and Devin decide that everything depended upon the council’s agreement on this matter?”
Catherine nodded, not trusting herself to speak. For she would be sorely disappointed if they ruled against her.
“Then I apologise my dear, I had concluded that you just intended to waltz in here, and whisk Vincent away without regard for the feelings of others. It would appear I have underestimated your intention.”
Looking from one to the other of them, Vincent felt a flow of relief wash over him, feeling happier to know that the pair would be able to discuss things rationally now, and turned and told them both softly, “You will know where I will be if you should need me.” Before brushing a kiss across both their foreheads, and striding away taking the onlookers with him. “Everything should be all right now.” He told them as he walked forward, his arms outstretched at his sides, sweeping them all back along the tunnel away from Father’s chamber, and sighed before adding, “Though if you hear anything to the contrary, don’t hesitate to come for me. I’ll be working where Jamie found me before.”

“Should we start again Cathy?” Father asked straightening up, and approaching the kettle where it boiled upon a stove, “Would you like some tea my dear?”
Catherine smiled, “Tea, would be lovely, and a slice of humble pie would go nicely with it too, please Father.”
Father turned and smiled, “Its true,” he told her, “We do both want what’s best for Vincent. And I can see how much it means to you, to Devin, to all of us, for my son to participate in things most men take for granted, perhaps we can establish some mutual ground, eh? And then we can begin to work on this plan of yours.”
Hope flared at these words and Catherine’s eyes were bright as she responded, “You think it might be possible?”
Father sighed deeply, “I know you wouldn’t run the risk of exposing Vincent, I realise what he means to you. And Devin, though he has instigated events which have gone disastrously wrong for Vincent in the past, he too, means well. The least I can do is listen to your plans, before I make a judgement. So I too, need a slice of that humble pie, Catherine.”
Her eyes lighting up, Catherine smiled, and for the first time in many days her heart filled with hope. Perhaps, just perhaps, if she worded it well, everything would go according to plan and then all her dreams and Vincent’s would surely come true.

*** *** ***

To be continued in Chapter Three - click on 'Next' below:



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