ON REFLECTION

By Gwen Lord

"Get me Manning," Elliot's voice was strained as he spoke to his detective on the intercom. "I don't care where he is, just get him," he snarled. Then, as he loosened his tie and top button, he made his way to the office windows. It commanded an excellent view, being on the fortieth floor with all New York stretched ahead. Skyscrapers dotted the scene like a science fiction movie. Seven of the largest buildings were the handiwork of Elliot Burch.

The nearest one however, still had scaffolding around it. This construction was Elliot's pride and joy - and the reason for his black mood of despair. Ever since the plans were first passed to build this masterpiece of architecture, Elliot had left no stone unturned, to stay on schedule; it had not been an easy ride. Now, when the end was in sight, a small technicality could lose him the accolade due to him, not to mention the huge bonus promised him, for completion within the agreed date.

Manning knocked and entered in his normal cool, unruffled manner.

"I came as soon as I could. What's wrong, Mr Burch? What's happened?"

Sit down, Manning," he breathed heavily. "This has to be the worst day of my life," pacing the floor Elliot continued. "We may not finish 'High Towers' on schedule after all ... Damn it! I sweated blood over this." Turning to Manning he continued. "There's been a dispute between the men working on the overhanging ledge that houses the glass summit. Feelings ran high between the foreman and the workers, now all progress has stopped. I can't afford a hold up at this point." Throwing his arms in the air in desperation he returned to his swivel chair. 'You know I've got everything invested in this project; everything. You have to get me out of this, Manning. Do your job, I'll double your retainer, you have my word."

As Manning rose to go, Elliot flicked the switch on the intercom.

"Get me Moreno, I must see him today. Get me an appointment."

Elliot moved across the room to join Manning at the door, putting a restraining hand on his friend's arm, he stressed:

"This needs careful handling. If Mr DA had done his job when the contracts were drawn up, this dispute would not have arisen. Damn it Manning, you have to get me out of this, fast." Perspiration lined his brow.

Elliot opened the door for Manning, revealing Nanci in the next office.

"Mr Moreno will see you in half an hour, Mr Burch."

He nodded. "Manning, get Simmons to bring the car round. I'll join you in five minutes."

With a courteous nod he left the office to the echo of Elliot's door shutting behind him.

*

The DA's office was the same busy hub of activity he'd remembered it to be. Fondly he reflected on the day, a while ago, when he had arrived with a full meal, fit for a king; lobster, champagne, flowers, a fleet of waiters accompanying him. Cathy couldn't join him for lunch so he decided lunch could come to Cathy. Their entrance had silenced the entire office, a sea of heads turned to watch. Catherine was terribly embarrassed, sending him and the meal away. But she did agree to dinner the following evening.

Now, once again in the same office a voice deep inside him asked: *Where's Cathy, where is she?* Looking around as he strode across the floor, he spied Cathy at her desk.

Cutting through the maze of desks and filing cabinets, he approached her.

"Hi, Elliot," Cathy's voice was light and happy.

*God she's Iovely,* was his first reaction.

"What brings you here, it's been ages, are you well?"

"I'm fine, Cathy," his voice was gravely. "I have to see Moreno on ... nothing to worry your pretty head over," he smiled, his eyes revealing the pleasure he felt at seeing her. Then leaning close to her, he put his hand over hers possessively. "Cathy ... have dinner with me, for old times sake ... please. I'll take you anywhere you want to go: local take away, New York, Paris," then lowering his voice to a velvety whisper, "Can't you say yes just this once?"

"Sorry, Elliot, but I really do have a date for tonight. It's a special night at the Concert Hall. They are playing Chopin, we have special seats. But it was a lovely thought ... no hard feelings?"

Raising both hands, he accepted defeat ... for now.

"Okay, okay you win, but I'll never give up on you, Cathy." Then flashing her one of his special smiles, which always turned her legs to jelly, he turned and quickly joined Manning.

Together they entered Moreno's office.

Cathy put down her pen, then sitting back in her chair, she smiled to herself. Elliot never changed, always the hard business man, with a heart of pure gold. His effect on her never wavered,. He was tall, incredibly good looking, wealthy beyond reckoning. What girl wouldn't be flattered with his attention? She liked to flirt with him; enjoyed his company, he even shared her bed one night. If she wasn't head over heels in love with Vincent, she'd have a tough time saying no to him. Cathy knew he still desired her, wanted her, living in hope that one day she would change her mind and marry him. Was it really two years ago, since he asked her to marry him on her balcony? After a night of soul searching, she had decided to accept his proposal. Not because she loved him, but because she saw it as the only logical thing to do, in order to help her Below family out of their plight, when danger from Elliot's new building threatened the tunnels and chambers.

They had given her so much. She owed them her life. Now when their lives were threatened, at last she saw a way to repay them; this was a debt she owed them.

She agreed to marry him, if he ceased construction on the tower, but Elliot simply couldn't do this, so Cathy didn't marry him. The building did get stopped through a small technical detail. Elliot lost the building but didn't lose the desire to make her his own one day. Anything he couldn't have, offered him a challenge

"Penny for them, Radcliffe," Joe's voice brought her back. "I need these typed up and finished by 5pm."

Looking at her watch, she said, "Is it really 4.15pm? Joe, is Elliot still with Moreno?"

"Yes, he sure is; sounds pretty heated in there," he spoke as he fingered through the files he was carrying.

"Joe, is there anything I can take in? I need to get into Moreno's office while EB is still in, she said, her eyes glowing with curiosity.

Sure, this file needs Moreno's signature. Be my guest.

"Thanks Joe, I owe you."

"You bet you do, kiddo, but how come I have the feeling I'm being manipulated?" his voice broke into a cheeky grin.

Taking the file from Joe's hands, she hurried to Moreno's door, knocked, then opening the door, went inside.

"Joe said he needs your signature on these papers," her words seemed to echo in the room, as all talk abruptly ended as she entered. The air hung with unsaid words and hopeless answers. Moreno took out his pen and scratched his name on the three letters, then handed them back to her.

"Perhaps you'll give us the benefit of your opinion on a matter we are finding hard to agree on, Cathy."

"I'll try. What's the problem?" she tried to sound calm.

Moreno filled her in with the state of play in this stalemate situation; also how it needed to be resolved immediately.

After some thought, Cathy confronted them all, her eyes seeking out Elliot, who gave her a smile of encouragement.

"If you sack this man the men will walk out ... if you don't sack him, they'll still walk out. Why don't you create a new role for him, within the workforce; put a few men under him, then he won't lose face, everyone will accept this, and you will have everyone back on the job right away.

"Cathy, you're wonderful," Elliot said, as he got up and walked towards her, hands outstretched.

Popping a feather light kiss on her flushed cheek, he whispered in her ear, "Thanks Cathy, I owe you.

"You owe me nothing. That's what friends are for," she whispered back.

As she made to open Moreno's door, Elliot spoke.

"Cathy, wait. When the building's finished in a couple of weeks time, I'll be throwing the usual bash. A large party on the top floor, the Mayor of New York will name the building, everyone's to wear fancy dress ... Will you please say you'll come Cathy ... bring ... er .. what's-his-name."

"Vincent," Cathy helped him.

"Yeah, Vincent," Elliot answered as though the word would choke him.

The little boy hurt look was on his face, as he braced himself ready for another rejection.

"Sounds like fun, Elliot, I'll keep my diary free. Call me," she smiled reassuringly.

His face lit up with his boyish grin, unable to take in the bottom line: She said YES!!

*

Cathy almost ran the last few steps to her door, a warm feeling enveloped her. Vincent would be waiting, with a meal ready and those wonderful arms to hold her and love her.

She didn't need to put her key in the lock, it pushed open at her touch; she felt excited, like a child. It had been two whole days since she'd felt his arms around her, felt his breath on her face, felt his kisses

Cathy lived below at the weekends, but during the week stayed at the apartment. Vincent came above to be with her two nights during the week, so as always their time together was still measured and precious.

Using her bottom to click the door shut, she turned into Vincent's waiting arms, feeling them tighten with desire. He kissed her hair, she snuggled deeper and with a sigh she murmured lovingly, "Oh, I needed that, I needed you, my day's been quite mad. Interesting, but mad." With a final squeeze, she released herself from his arms, then made for the kitchen. "Something smells good, what is it?"

"Mary made lamb casserole today for everyone. She made a special one for us. I put it in the microwave when I heard you at the door. It should be ready any minute."

"French bread too, oh I love big chunks of that, with butter on. I know I shouldn't, but once in a while it's nice to go mad," she giggled. "But after tonight, I must go on a diet and start my jogging again."

"Catherine, why do you plan to do this, you're perfect to me as you are," a puzzled look crossed his gorgeous features.

PING went the microwave. Vincent put out the meal while Cathy sat down at the table and buttered some bread for them both.

"Guess who came into the office today?" her voice, was happy and gay.

"Is this a game, Catherine?" he smiled as he handed her the plate.

"This looks gorgeous. Be sure to tell Mary, thank you. Is it Mary's night or Cullen's to look after Jacob?"

"Neither Catherine, I've brought him with me tonight, I felt you needed to be near him."

Catherine got up at once, and headed straight for their bedroom. There in his cot, lay their son, fast asleep, as always, on top of the bedding holding his toy lion, which had been Catherine's as a child.

Slipping his arms around her waist from behind, Vincent murmured in her ear. "He's looking more and more like you, every day."

"What! With that thatch of golden hair, he's more like you, to me." She half turned in his arms and popped a kiss on his rough cheek.

Together they returned to the kitchen to finish their meal.

A knock a few moments later at their door, took them both by surprise.

"Damn it, who can that be?" Catherine demanded, as she got up to answer it in a huff.

'Hi, Radcliffe, I was just passing, thought I'd call ... to let you know Moreno was impressed with how you handled Elliot Burch today. Got us out of what could have been a pretty nasty situation."

"Why thanks, Joe," Cathy cooed.

It was painfully obvious he wasn't going to be invited in to sit on that 'dinky little couch'! so, taking his leave, he handed Cathy the book back she'd lent him weeks ago, on another fruitless visit to her flat, on the pretense of spending some time with her, away from the DA's office.

"He must be one special guy, see you tomorrow ... or will I?"

Cathy grinned. "Bye, Joe."

*

"So, you saw Elliot Burch today, that explains the feelings I couldn't understand," Vincent greeted her return.

"I started to tell you when I came in, remember? Somehow we kept getting side-tracked," she smiled.

Catherine sensed Vincent's feelings; he didn't exactly dislike Elliot, he really admired him, but if the truth was known, he was extremely jealous of him. Elliot was a man of the world a survivor, had pulled himself up from his roots. A self-made millionaire, with power to do great things. He could offer Cathy the world, she could live like a Queen, the world was his oyster now; the only thing he wanted, he so far hadn't got was Cathy. He said he would never give up hope, so, as long as he continued to hope, then he was Vincent's rival ... One day, his charm could tempt her to him.

A shiver shook his mighty frame as the impact of his thoughts invaded his very soul.

"What's wrong, Vincent, are you all right?" she asked, concerned.

Shaking his head, he lied, "It's nothing, really, don't worry."

After a romantic shower they shared, exploring and enjoying each other to the full, they dressed for bed, wearing matching Chinese dressing gowns. As Catherine joined Vincent on the couch, they snuggled up together to watch an old movie on TV. It was one of Vincent's favourites, a comedy. Catherine loved to hear his deep chuckles and see his white fangs exposed as he laughed.

Reaching up, she kissed him. Vincent soon forgot the movie as he took the lead in the art he had become an expert at, that of making love to his darling wife.

Catherine enjoyed watching Vincent's passion rise, it matched her own perfectly, his lips covered hers as he claimed her need. Another knock at the door broke their mood.

"Damn it, it's like Grand Central Station here. Who can it be at this late hour?" Climbing out of his embrace, Catherine advanced to the door, annoyed at the interruption. Vincent slipped into the bedroom, disappearing into the shadows.

Opening the door, Catherine saw Elliot.

"Hi, what's wrong, it's really late. Don't you ever sleep, Elliot?"

"Cathy, I've got to see you.

"Can't it wait until tomorrow?"

"No Cathy, this can't wait. Can I at least come in, please," he gave her a look she hadn't seen before; it worried her.

Then without another word, he pushed past her, at speed into the room.

He paced the floor for a few moments, near to where Vincent was hiding, them turning, he advanced to Cathy.

"Seeing you today, brought it all back. You have this effect on me; I feel like an out of control teenager. I never feel like this, ever, except ... over you, Cathy. I feel we could ... no, I feel we have a future together, if only you'll give it a try, Cathy. I love you ... no, it's more than that, I adore you."

Then taking her off guard; took her in his arms and kissed her hard and long, taking her breath away.

'Elliot, please, you know the answer, there is already someone in my life, someone I love, very much ... I'm sorry, truly I am, do try to forgive me."

Putting her hand on his arm, she tried to lead him back to the door, but her touch was electric to him, sending shocks through his entire body. He wasn't going to accept her refusal. He put his arm around her neck, pulling her back to his waiting lips.

"Elliot, please, NO." The one thought in Cathy's mind ... she hoped Vincent's anger and jealousy wouldn't produce a growl or roar. How would she explain that to Elliot??

"I've blown it again, haven't I? Damn it, why can't you say yes to me, just once?" a smile curled his sensuous lips. "Do we still have a date, you will bring ... Vincent?"

"We have a date, in two weeks."

"Goodnight, Cathy. He's one hell of a lucky guy," then as quickly as he entered, he was gone, leaving Catherine flushed and worried.

"So, you have a date ... come, tell me," Vincent held out his hand.

"I've been trying to explain since I first came home. It's not what you think, you know better than that."

Vincent smiled and nodded. "I know, but I'm intrigued. Where exactly are we going, in two weeks?"

*

"Cathy, do you have Steve Payne's address? Moreno thought you'd have it still on file from last year," Joe asked, as he approached her overflowing desk.

Getting up and going over to the shoulder high filing cabinet, she quickly flicked through and found it.

Joe's eyes followed her, as she made her way back to her desk, making her feel more than a little uncomfortable.

Handing him the file she smiled hesitantly. "Something wrong, Joe?" her eyes leveled with his.

"Nope, just double checking something. What you working on?" He moved round the desk until he was behind her, looking over her shoulder at the documents laid out. "Hmmm."

Her perfume filled his senses, as he knew it would; her hair gleamed in the sunlight and he longed to run his hand through it. The same old feelings rose up inside him, feelings he was all too aware of, whenever he was close to her.

"Thanks, Radcliffe," he tried to sound casual and normal as he turned and headed for his office.

Cathy didn't notice time flying by as she got to grips with the fascinating case she was on.

"Cathy? Cathy" a voice penetrated her thoughts and looking up she saw Lena with the buggy.

"Hi, Lena."

Getting up she quickly made her way around the desk to the double buggy. Then, crouching down, slipped her finger into the chubby hand of the smaller of the two children. The fingers tightened their grip, Cathy leaned forward, placing a kiss on his mass of golden hair, then whispered in his ear, "Hi, Tiger." Such a lovely smile came across Jacob's face as she sneaked a cuddle. Then she gave little Cath a hug too, before standing up to face Lena.

"Vincent and I are so grateful to you, for helping us with Jacob when you go above. He needs the fresh air and sun."

"Little Cath looks after him like a mum." The two mothers shared the moment with their children, lost in deep adoration.

"What's this then, someone opening a crèche around here," Joe smiled as he approached. "Aren't you going to introduce me, Radcliffe?"

For a moment, Cathy was taken by surprise, then quickly collected herself. "Lena, this is Joe, my boss and number one tormentor ... Joe, this is Lena, a very special friend." The two shook hands, then Joe crouched down, to come face to face with the two happy children.

"And who are you then?"

Lena shot Cathy a glance Joe didn't see. Lena took the lead. "This is little Cath, she's two, then this little man is Jacob, he's nearly one."

Joe felt at ease with children. He came from a big family where children outnumbered adults. He hoped one day to have a home, a wife and children. Well, he'd found the girl, but too late, she was already hooked on some guy, so he'd kicked around a few romances, but no one could hold a candle to her, she was his hearts desire. Working with her was his one consolation, so for now, it had to be enough, but he lived in hope, that one day he'd get lucky and it would all change. But until that happened he took every chance he could to be near her and around her.

In the back of his dreams, he could hear the two of them talking and laughing, bringing him back to reality.

"You have a great family there."

"Thank you. Nice meeting you, Joe. See you later, Cathy, don't forget, Mary said not to forget the orange card, three large sheets."

"I'll remember, I promise," Cathy assured her.

"Wave good bye to Aunt Cathy," Lena whispered, then with out more ado, was quickly gone.

"Somehow I never figured you to be an Aunt, Radcliffe. You learn something new every day," his face broke into his school-boy grin. "Do you think we could do a little work around here ... Aunt," he teased.

Picking up a pen, Cathy threw it after him as he ran for the shelter of his office.

Left alone now, Cathy sat back in her chair, swiveling from side to side, as she took in the happenings of the last half hour. Letting out a deep sigh, she was glad Joe had accepted the children were Lena's. What a turn up for the books; if Joe had only known Lena wasn't married and that Jacob was her own child; hers and Vincent's!

*

The pregnancy had taken her by surprise, she'd felt under the weather and run down, so had popped in to see Dr Peter Alcott for some vitamins and a chat. He ran a few tests while she waited, then with a beaming smile, he took both her small hands in his.

"Congratulations Cathy, you're pregnant."

"I really shouldn't be surprised," she mooned to herself. "It's a miracle it hadn't happened sooner, on reflection."

Their love making was always very intense, after all, Vincent was no ordinary man making love to the woman he adored. No! Vincent's capabilities in that realm were quite fantastic. Sometimes their marathon love making would go on repeatedly for hours, all night, leaving them finally, totally exhausted and blissfully happy.

The news of the baby had quickly traveled along all the tunnels; great excitement was in the air. Vincent was seen during those days with a permanent grin on his face. At last, he felt a complete man; he radiated happiness.

Joe never ever knew or suspected Cathy was pregnant. She had been very lucky, in so much as she hadn't put much weight on in the early months. Also, fashion had been on her side, loose styles were 'in'. Being able to afford the latest styles, she quickly set the craze and soon the whole office were wearing similar styles ... her secret was safe. So her little 'bump' remained unnoticed by all.

Joe couldn't understand why Cathy refused to take any leave, surely she wanted a break? Life in the DA's office was life in the fast lane at rush hour. Until one night, when Cathy was about six months; everyone had left, it was so quiet, Cathy went over to Joe's office and tapped on the door.

"Hi Cathy, come on in.

"Thanks, Joe. I need to talk to you.

Putting down his pen and sitting back in his chair, he observed her through quizzical eyes. "Tell me, you're making me nervous.

"Joe, I need to take some leave."

A huge grin spread across his face. "At last, all work and no play Radcliffe, makes -"

"Yeah yeah, it's just that I've been saving it up, now I want to take what's owing me and a bit extra ... I really want four months leave," she'd finally said it, after practicing that speech all day.

"I can't believe I'm hearing this ... four months ... it's a joke, right?"

"No joke. I'm going to use some of the money my Dad left me, and go on a world tour," she smiled.

"You sure know how to shock a guy. Are you quite sure about this, a woman on her own, wealthy, unattached? May be you should take a friend ... Jenny? Me even. I've never been out of New York," he grinned.

Cathy's farewell office bash went with a bang, everyone gave her cards and gifts. As she finally left the office, there were cries of good luck ringing in her ears.

In the weeks that followed, as her waistline expanded and her happiness increased, Vincent was magnificent, spoiling her unmercifully; their happiness radiated out to everyone else, a feeling of hope enveloped all their lives in the tunnel world.

Father kept a keen medical eye on her, watching out for any abnormality in this special pregnancy. Between him and Peter, she was very well taken care of.

Then one night in April, a blinding pain woke them up, followed by another in quick succession, then another. Vincent ran for Father and Mary, expressing the urgency of speed.

Father, Vincent and Mary surrounded the bed she lay on, in the chamber.

"I'm afraid my dear Catherine, this child can't wait to be born, there's no time to get you to the hospital chamber.

"Mary, hot water, quickly."

Vincent put a pillow under Catherine's head and got her a glass of water.

"Ahhh! Oh! Ahh!" Cathy hung on to Vincent's hand, digging her nails into his skin. Perspiration covered her face. As the moment of birth was now so near, Father summoned Vincent to assist him.

"I need you here Vincent, please."

When Vincent stood at Father's side, he could see the baby's head.

"Push Cathy, push now," Mary urged her. "And again."

"Come Vincent, take the child's body as it comes into this world."

There wasn't time for Vincent to argue with Father as the shoulders and body appeared. Cathy, we have a son," he proudly announced, wonder on his face.

Mary wrapped the child in a blanket, then placed it in her arms. Cathy held the tiny mite to her, Vincent's arms held her near, tears ran down all their faces. Tears of pride, of joy, of hope, of love.

"Vincent, he's beautiful," Cathy whispered.

"I'm very happy for you both," Father said, his voice betraying his emotions. "I'm also so

proud."

"Come, hold your Grandson." Vincent gently lifted his son, placing him in Father's waiting

arms.

"Father," Catherine spoke. "Vincent and I are agreed we want to call him Jacob, after you.

"Thank you, both of you, dear, dear children."

"Catherine," Vincent whispered. "He was born on April 12, our anniversary; there can be no greater gift, ever.

*

The night of the masqued party drew near. Mary's chamber was a hive of activity as she, Samantha and Catherine worked on the fancy dress outfit. Catherine was to go as a candle, quite a clever idea, since candles now formed such an important part of her life.

The dress was to be a white tube-dress to the floor, but the headdress was to be a flame, made of orange cardboard, then silver shoes to represent the holder.

Vincent of course, would go as himself, dressed in his best attire, his character to be that of 'Prince Charming', his clothes were now all ready, awaiting the evening, now only one night away.

Cathy continued to jog. in the tunnels to get her weight just right for her tube dress. Vincent came with her. She jogged as he strode out beside her, then when she'd had enough they would collapse to the floor, sitting on Vincent's black cloak.

Sometimes the eerie quiet of the tunnels combined with their desire for each other became unbearable; that's when their passion took over, and these tunnels became tunnels of love. These walls could tell a few stories ... but they kept silent, observing a very special love, of a Beast and his Beauty. Only the tappings on the pipes invaded their most intimate moments.

*

It was decided that Cathy should arrive first, then Vincent soon after. The lift to the top floor shuddered to a halt, the door slipped back, suddenly revealing music, noise, laughter. Wow, this certainly was some bash!

"Cathy, you came," Elliot Burch approached, his manner as always, total perfection.

"Hi Elliot, your outfit's fun, suits you, being a pirate," she giggled.

"Hey, a candle, how very appropriate, you're the light of my life ... dance with me, Cathy, I want to show you off. You look delightful." Then putting his hand under her arm, guided her to the dance area.

Elliot's arms slipped around her so naturally; he held her close, not wanting to miss a single opportunity of being this close to her. The music was so dreamy and slow, Elliot bent his head down, planting a kiss on her neck and holding her even tighter. Then he looked directly into her eyes, his long curling lashes framed his smoldering blue eyes. Cathy tried to pull away a little, as the extent of Elliot's feelings were now becoming very obvious as he insisted on holding her so close.

As the music ended, Catherine felt Vincent's arrival. She turned, and there silhouetted in the doorway was her 'Prince Charming'. God, he was gorgeous, he looked magnificent in his attire: Flowing black cloak, lined in white fur, white shirt with a cascade of lace at the neck and cuffs; white tight fitting britches, knee high boots in black, and a brilliant red cumrnerbund. His hair fell about his shoulders in golden glory.

Cathy held Elliot's clammy hand as she led him to meet Vincent.

"Elliot, I'd like you to meet Vincent. Vincent, this is Elliot, we go back a long way," she grinned.

"At last Elliot, we meet."

"You know of me?" Elliot was taken aback.

"Oh yes ... I know of you."

"Well, how about that." Elliot was stunned. "Can I get you a drink?"

"Thank you no, but I would be honoured Catherine, if you'd dance with me. Will you excuse us, Elliot."

At last, they were dancing together, to the music, not like before after Winterfest, when they danced to the music in their hearts, this was now, and it felt so good.

Vincent let out a deep sigh as he looked at her, then a smile crossed his face.

"Why are you smiling, Vincent?"

"I've never danced with a candle before!" Both clung to each other as they shared this happy moment.

"I love you so much," she whispered.

"And I you."

Elliot continued to dominate Catherine's attention, even though she only had eyes for Vincent. He rained attention on her, until finally Vincent could stand it no longer.

"We will have to tell him, Catherine, we really will."

"I know,let's tell him together."

So it was decided. Vincent and Catherine moved between the guests to join Elliot at the bar.

"What can I get you, a beer, Vincent?"

"Two glasses of sweet white wine would be most kind, Elliot," he smiled. Catherine nodded her approval.

"Elliot, we have something to tell you," she felt flustered. Vincent put a comforting arm around her shoulders, which didn't go unnoticed by Elliot. "Vincent and I aren't just friends. It's over three years since our paths first crossed. Since then, there's only been Vincent in my life. I tried to tell you Elliot, I didn't want to offer false hopes, or hurt you. I know how deeply you care. When I said there was no 'us', I meant it, you see ... Vincent and I are married, there is a child - a son - he's so beautiful. We both owe you so much Elliot, that we gave him your name as his second name. He's called Jacob Elliot Wells."

Elliot put down his glass, ran his hand through his hair, a stunned look on his face, then he quickly picked up the pieces of his shattered dream. He smiled - it was a front - to hide his weeping heart. Putting his hand inside Vincent's, he shook it warmly.

"Congratulations! I never suspected anything like this. For once, I'm lost for words." Then bending down, he kissed Catherine on the cheek and whispered in her ear "Now I'll never hear you say yes." He smiled.

Elliot was later seen in deep conversation with the Mayor.

Suddenly, a drum roll attracted everyone's attention and Elliot handed the Mayor the microphone.

"Thank you everyone, for coming along this evening, I appreciate it. This building as you know, has been Elliot Burch's most ambitious project to date. It is to be known as 'High Towers' and all but the first floor are to be luxury apartments. The first floor will be for conferences and will have facilities of the highest standard. This floor will be known as the 'Jacob Wells Suite'." Everyone clapped then the music restarted. Elliot shook the Mayor's hand, then drifted over to Vincent and Catherine at the bar.

"Elliot, oh Elliot, what can we say ... "Catherine put her hand on his arm. Looking down he could see quite plainly the unusual gold ring Catherine wore on her wedding finger.

Placing his hand over hers, he smiled. "I'm honoured you gave him my name, no one's ever done anything so kind to me before. On my way up the ladder of success, friends fell by the wayside. You wake up one morning and realise you're alone. Then suddenly, you do this wonderful thing ... there's no words ... When am I going to meet this little fellow then?" Elliot demanded with a smile.

"Catherine will get in touch with you Elliot, we will plan a day soon. Now, we must leave, it's nearly dawn, our son will be waking and needing us." Then they slipped from the building into the early morning light. "Catherine, how will you explain to Elliot, me ... and the way I am and ..."

"He's no different from you, Vincent," she said, her voice full of conviction.

"Catherine ... how can you say that?" his velvet voice asked.

"He's a man, just like you Vincent, only you're a little more hairy, a little more cuddly, much better looking, and very sexy," she grinned.

"Oh Catherine, Catherine, I do love you so much!