By Wendy C. De-Veryard
Vincent staggered across the park, unseeing, the pain of his desire, the longing for fulfilment too colossal to bear, he was blinded by the frustration of having denied himself yet again the right to love her. His footsteps heavy Vincent lurched forwards to grasp hold of the door lever at the tunnel entrance. Stumbling over the threshold, he slumped against the wall, and slithered down to the sandy floor. There his body, with a mind numb and bereft of thinking, cried out in anguish. It was always the same these days; the love they had shared had turned sour. Bitter from the constant warring going on between them like some poisonous, lethal gas emitted by their desire for one another and his constant denials to assuage that need.
It could never be!
What she wanted of him was impossible.
Hadn't Father told him? Hadn't Father convinced him that a physical relationship between himself and any woman would be impossible? But he didn' t need Father to convince him of the fact. The very depth of the knowledge of his own make-up convinced him that when lost to the passion the beast inside him could kill. Did kill. Hadn't his rages proved that? And he could not risk it, not even for her, not even when her eyes begged him to love her. Not even when her body cried out to his for fulfilment, could he give in to his desires and love her as her body screamed out to be loved.
And he did want to love her. He wanted it more than anything. But the fear, the terror that held him captive, enslaved him. Bound him to ignore the pleadings of her eyes. Drove him away from her every time and Vincent did not know for how much longer either of them could stand the strain. Trembling now, his body relaxed from his perilous flight across the park, and with bittersweet torment he allowed himself to open the Bond he shared with her, needing to know her feelings. But he was unprepared for the barrage of emotions that flooded his senses from her to him, as her own desires mounted the fine tip of an arrow, flying to embed straight into his heart. Vincent moaned, shaking his great and mighty head, to clear his mind of the mists that threatened to suck him down into oblivion, as he forced himself to stand and stagger his way forwards, along the familiar tunnels that would lead him home.
What could he do?
Was there no way out? Would it be forever like this, now? He could not bear to lose her, yet he could not be what she needed him to be. Where was the way forward? Where was the open door that would take them over and beyond this stage in their life that brought such searing pain to them both? There had to be a way, and he had to find it for both their sakes.
Reaching the safety of his chamber, he was pleased to find Father had not waited up for him, he needed the solitude right now to set about unravelling his own thoughts, without his father adding to his reasoning. He knew that Father cared deeply for him, but he did not need any reminders, not this night, of the impossibility of his and Catherine's relationship. Crashing down upon the bed, he ran fingers over his weary brow, furrowed deep with pain, and tried to grasp hold of the image of his evening with her, which like so many these past few months had ended in despair. After three long and beautiful years together, something had stimulated within each of them the desire for more. When the delicious embraces had no longer been enough. When the aura of her presence and her scent had assaulted his senses, bringing forth the shame of his desire, he had forced himself to stand back, and keep his arms down at his sides whenever he had arrived on her balcony. The pain in her eyes was evident at no longer being enfolded in his arms in a welcome greeting, yet he could not trust himself now to touch her.
Her very presence vibrated its needs across the gap between the two of them as it was. He did not need the powerful stimulant of closeness with her to know how his body shamed him.
Just being there with her was enough.
He lost count of the number of times he had been grateful for his cloak to shield his tormented body from her all seeing eyes. And he knew that as long as it was this way, their hungry desire for one another was slowly killing them both.
Yet he did not need to be within her physical presence to know how her hunger stalked him. Through their connection he could feel her constantly, she the hunter, he the hunted. Unintentionally her body craved his to such a degree, that even she was unaware of how the Bond vibrated with her longing, making it virtually impossible for him to close down upon it. Night and day his body was buffeted by her desires, he could get no peace from it, nor did he want to do. In some agonising delightful way he glorified in it. This beautiful woman that desired him so, was a miracle beyond comprehension.
The evening had started out like any other. Drawn like a magnet, he had gone to her willingly. She had been polite, too polite, as the need for physical union, now so strong forced away every other thought from both their minds. And they had stood there, facing one another, unable to touch lest they be burned, unable to speak freely, lest they say something they would regret. Each holding under tight restraint the need to love and be loved. And then she had dropped the bombshell! "I saw Elliot today."
Vincent's head had jerked back, his eyes searching her face for clues. So small a remark. So full of depth and meaning. His eyes had been mere slits, hiding the emotion those few words had stirred within his soul. The whirlpool had spun him round and round, and made him stagger, so that he had to grasp the balcony wall behind him for support. Catherine seemed not to notice though as she went on, "He asked if I might have dinner with him, tomorrow evening." What was she trying to do to him!
Unable to contain himself no longer he had been forced to reply barely audibly, "And what did you tell him?"
Catherine paced the room, something she had picked up from Vincent himself. This caged, trapped beast that paced like a lion between bars, more often of late than ever before.
Vincent knew the answer from her body language even before she uttered the words, "I agreed." Her eyes were unable to meet his. Vincent felt the fury rising up like a tidal wave. Through him and over him, and he brought his fist hard down onto the small table that stood upon the balcony, smashing it clean in two. "Why Catherine!" He seethed, making her flinch and cower away from him. Bringing him shame, bringing him remorse for his actions, as she whispered, "I don't know why, I just heard myself agreeing that I would."
His body shook, no longer from anger, but with an emotion that drove him blindly away from her, over the wall and out of sight without a backward glance.
Now back in the safety of familiar surroundings, Vincent regretted his earlier behaviour, his inability to control himself. What must Catherine think of him?
Collecting his thoughts together, he had to know, had to know what had driven her to accept another man's invitation, not just to dinner. Didn't Elliot love her too? Dinner alone would not satisfy Elliot. Vincent knew it, Elliott knew it, and what was more Catherine knew it too. He could not allow her to see Elliot, and if he waited to stop her it would be too late. Pulling on his boots, and flinging his cloak back around his shoulders he ran from his warm chamber, along the chilly tunnels, and plunged himself back out into the cold night air that assaulted his throat and lungs with icy fingers, but still he drove himself onwards. Riding the elevator eighteen floors to her balcony, Vincent tapped upon the door, watching her startled expression, as she uncurled herself from within her pain to open the door and allow him entry. "Vincent!", the small voice shook, "I thought you'd be home by now."
"Yet you came back?" she licked her dry lips.
His eyes bore into her own. "Catherine,....I..." what could he say? What right did he have to say anything? Hadn't he insisted that she should find someone else to love? What right had he to take it back now that she had listened to him and done as he'd asked at last?
"Yes, Vincent, you what?"
"I should never have come."
He turned to leave her then, but she raced after him, caught his sleeve, held him back, "Vincent.... you are here now. Please Vincent, stay." her words, agonised, tore at his soul.
"No....." he broke down then, his body slumping down to the floor, "Catherine please," he begged. For what was he asking, he did not know? Only that he needed her. Needed to be with her. For once though not sexually. He just needed the comfort of her. The way it used to be between them.
"I'm here Vincent." Catherine told him, her eyes limpid pools of love, bending down to enfold him in her embrace. The scent of her enflamed him, yet just to have her close after so long of keeping a distance was bliss, and he lost himself within her. Allowing the beauty of her love to envelop him.
It was healing to the searing pain that had threatened to suffocate him. "Catherine", he beseeched her, "Please, please don't do this thing." For a moment, Catherine did not understand. To Vincent, the conversation they had started earlier was still underway, so it took Catherine a moment or two to know what he meant, and in that time, he took her silence for one of taking time to make a decision, and it broke his heart. The pain she read in his eyes, touched her soul, and the intensity to love him, to wash away his fears, his doubts, his needs was so strong, that she found herself drawn to kiss him.
Bringing her face within inches of his own, he watched her through hungry eyes, and hope flared. Hope along with the fear of what a simple kiss would ignite. He could not allow it, too afraid was he of where it would lead them, and he struggled to free himself of her embrace.
"Vincent No! No more," she cried, as her hand caught hold of his chin, forcing him to look at her, and she brought her lips down upon his, savage, demanding, passionate ...and oh so wonderful! Vincent's head swam with delight, with love and more. Yes, with anticipation. As her kiss deepened, he wound his arms around her, clutching her head with his hand returning her kiss, as wave after wave of desire washed over him, and his entire body weakened to an extent that he had never believed possible. And then the shrill of the telephone cut through the moment, and they suddenly drew apart.
Unable to reach it in time, the answer machine picked up the call, and Elliot's voice filled the room. "Hi Cathy, its Elliot. Just wanted to tell you how happy you have made me this day, in accepting my invitation for tomorrow evening, I hope you can still make it. I'll pick you up at seven. Bye."
Catherine and Vincent stared at one another, eyes locked and expressionless, it was a strain just to breath. "I love you Vincent." Catherine whispered, "Please, stay with me tonight." Her eyes told him of her need, her words expressed it, but still he couldn't, not even after the kiss that had held so much promise, he could not be what she needed him to be. "No!" again he denied her, "I cannot. I should never have come." Regretfully, his heart breaking, Vincent knew that this was the end. The end of their dream. It had to be.
There was no getting past this stage in their lives. No other mellow side to reach because while the desire stood between them it would only continue to grow until it destroyed them.
"I love you Catherine, but what you ask is more than I can give. And you deserve better." he told her shaking his head. "You need someone like Elliot."
"What are you saying?" Catherine held onto his arm, as he struggled to stand, and the mere touch of her hand burned through the fabric of his sleeve.
"It has to end Catherine, before it is too late for either of us." He told her his voice trembling.
"No! Vincent!" the anguish in her voice seared his soul. He had to remain strong for both their sakes. "Go to Elliot, Catherine. He can give you the life that you were born for, the....." but he was unable to finish, the words stuck in his throat. He wanted to tell her that Elliot could give what her body craved, but the words along with the thought of it would not take shape. For he did not want to see them form within his mind, his Catherine with another man? In that way, never!
Tears stung at his eyes, and he pulled away from her, unable to bear the sight of her own tears coursing down her cheeks. Unable to bear a moment longer with her, as she clung to him, and he had to prise her fingers away, watching her flinch with the pain his claws brought to her skin. Still she reached for him, imploring him, "Vincent don't do this, I cannot live without you. I'll do anything, anything but not that, Vincent please, let me live in your world, I need to be with you."
Tears filling his eyes, Vincent tried to shut out her words, "Catherine don' t make it any harder than it already is. I love you, but we cannot go on like this, and in time the pain will lessen, and you will see it was for the best. I must go, be happy Catherine, and know this, that I will always, always love you."
He dragged himself, then, away from her, climbing over the balcony as she held on tightly to his cloak, "I cannot live without you Vincent, I'd rather be dead."
He stopped then, her words cutting straight through him, "Don't say that! You have everything to live for. You must live, for us, for our dream, if you should die, I would die too." He shook his head sadly.
"Then don't go Vincent, never leave me. You don't know what it is you ask of me. I am nothing without you, and am as good as dead the moment you go."
"Catherine, I must. The beast within me, you do not understand him, as I understand him, he desires you Catherine. It is he that desires you and compels me to love you. I fear for you Catherine if I stay. I cannot control the beast, and unrestrained passion would only set him free."
"And what of the man Vincent, does he not desire me also? What of me? Where is the beast that drives me? If your passion can be matched against mine, then where is the beast in me?" she spoke softly, and for a moment Vincent relented. But then reason took over in his mind. And he knew having made the declaration of what was best for them both he had to leave. And believing he was right, coupled with the fact that Catherine had already agreed to see Elliot, (which must give rise to something surely - even if she could not yet see it,) he knew that their dream was over. He had to sever their relationship, for now unto eternity. It was for the best.
And he left her then, without another word. Over the wall, and down to the ground, out into the night, hearing through the Bond, the wails of her anguish. And her grief tore him apart.
Elliot was early, the sound of the doorbell ringing at ten minutes to seven had Catherine frozen to the spot. Outside it was dark, and she had hoped that Vincent would come, hoped he would come back to persuade her not to see Elliot, but to return with him to his world, never to return to her own. And she would have gone with him willingly, turning her back on everything she had ever known, to be with him, forever. All day she had tried to contact Elliot, but he was unobtainable. And had not returned the messages she had left with his secretary. Did he know she wanted to change her mind, but refused to accept this? The very fact that the ever punctual Elliot was ten minutes early showed in itself he was restless about something, and when she finally opened the door, the anxiety in his eyes spoke of that fact. "You aren't ready," it was a statement more than a question.
"No." she told him, unable to know what else to say.
"You've changed your mind." she caught the sorrow of those words.
"Yes. I'm sorry Elliot, I should never have agreed. It was wrong of me."
Disregarding her apology, he told her, "I can alter the time of the reservation, make it for eight thirty instead. You still have time to get ready. Please Cathy, change your mind. I've thought of nothing else all day."
Blackmail tactics. "Neither have I Elliot, but for another reason, I tried calling you all day to tell you I would not be coming out to dinner with you, not tonight or any night. I'm sorry Elliot. I know how you feel about me, it would be wrong to raise your hopes on something that could never be." She smiled then, the last few words haunting in its reminder, and Elliot caught her smile.
Endearing her to him, "Cathy please, just this once. Just one evening, just for old times sake, if nothing else." Catherine drew in a deep breath. What was she doing? Whether or not Elliot had received her messages and ignored them, she could not be sure, but had he not, where were her manners? He had booked the restaurant, anticipated an evening in her company, and what harm could it do to accept? Just this once? Opening the door wider, she beckoned him inside, "Give me twenty minutes. I need to get changed." she told him, showing him to a seat, "But know this Elliot, its only for this evening, don't go getting any other ideas. This isn't the beginning of where we left off before."
A smile that lit up his eyes, and would once have set her pulses racing, told of his pleasure at her change of heart. He took the seat she offered, telling her, "Thank you Cathy, you won't regret this I promise," while in his heart of hearts he hoped to use this evening to persuade her to see him again and again. He loved her so much.
Beneath the city streets, within his chamber Vincent paced from wall to wall. Picking up on her thoughts through the Bond, he was torn between blind jealousy and sorrow, as he sifted through her emotions. Worry, sadness and then a lightness of spirit. Not so much hope, but something that brought her out of the despair she had sunk into, and checking the clock on the shelf, he did not need to see the time, but looking nonetheless he knew it was seven o'clock, and knew that Elliot would have arrived. So Catherine hadn't put Elliot off at all, and that to Vincent, could mean only one thing! Had he of felt that she was alone this evening, had he of been sure that she had contacted Elliot and broken their date, he might have gone to her, he might have? He shook his head, he would have, for the pull on the magnetism that bound them together was too strong to be denied. Now he didn't know what to think. The fact that she had taken him at his word, and had still met Elliot, less than twenty- four hours after pledging her undying love, brought a fresh wave of pain too colossal to bear. Flinging on his cloak Vincent ran then through the familiar tunnels of his world, seeking solace in the only place he knew of where he might attain peace. Down beside the waterfall.
Elliot was good company. The perfect gentleman and had a great sense of humour. And it had seemed such a long time since Catherine had found anything to laugh about. The joy it brought thrilled her. So when Elliot asked if he might see her again, Catherine took only moments to hesitate, and answer, what harm would it do? Hadn't Vincent made it plain, that between them it was over? And besides could she really stand the pain of lonely nights on her own? Not only that, but the despair that their relationship had left her with of late was ruining her life. Her very existence was in danger because of it, and Elliot loved her, he would not hurt her, so perhaps he was the tonic that she so desperately needed. Thus talking herself into it, she found herself agreeing, and then instantly regretting that she had.
Elliot was thrilled, bending his head as he brought his lips to her own, outside the door of her apartment, Vincent felt when Elliot's lips met Catherine's and pain seared his soul. And though Catherine did not respond to the kiss, he felt something stir within her, a feather light response which fuelled her desire and tugged at the pit of her stomach. Groaning, Vincent stood, wishing to fling himself into the abyss, and had he been sat beside that part of the underground world he may have done. Instead, he moved away from the waterfall, and continued on his descent deep into the bowels of the earth, seeking now, the only person who may be able to rescue him, from himself. Narcissa.
"Come in child," her voice welcomed him as he reached her chamber a few hours later, "What took you so long?"
"Nothing ever escapes you does it Narcissa?" his words spoken without emotion saddened her.
"Your soul cries out to me Vincent. For months you have sought answers. Why did you torment yourself so? The answer lies before you, you don't need me to tell you what it is."
Passing a hand across his troubled brow, Vincent could only disagree, "Be it that the answer were before me Narcissa I would not have this pain."
"But it is child. Why do you deny yourself her love. Has the Father implanted in you a fear so strong to believe the lies of men, against the truth of your heart. Vincent let me ask you, do you love this woman?"
"More than life." he groaned.
"Then believe me child, love never fails. It is a perfect bond of union. And you do not need to fear that love Vincent, for there is no hatred in love."
"It is not hatred I fear."
"Is it not?"
"No. Narcissa what are you driving at?"
"Then who is the hatred for?"
Vincent thought her words through, and he knew the answer, "I hate him, my other self, the beast inside."
His eyes opened wide, and he laughed mercilessly, "Narcissa, even you do not need me to answer that question for you!"
"Then answer it for yourself Vincent."
Analysing her words, Vincent dwelt deep inside himself searching for the key to unlock the answer, as slowly he began to comprehend, maybe her presence had something to do with it, but he suddenly understood what she was opening his eyes to, himself!
"I am the beast. And I am the man, yet I also feel as if I am someone separate." he whispered.
"And you hate yourself?"
"No, no I don't hate myself. Yet I hate what it is I desire."
"Other people's lies again. Vincent, everybody is made up of two people. Whomever our parents were, we feel like one or either or both of these people. Sometimes there is a tendency to lean towards one more than the other. Often it is an inward fight that we have, almost as if a third person, ourselves, is striving to break free from bondage to those that created us. And this holds us back, and can be a traumatic experience. But always, always it is the truth of our own minds that we must follow, only heeding the wisdom of those that created us. On either side of you Vincent you have the beast and the man, but it is only a mere shell of what you are. Of what you are inside, of what you could become, with her." Vincent shook his head trying to maintain some semblance of reality within his mind.
"You do not believe me?"
"I want to do."
"But still you need to be convinced. You come here looking for a sign, or a vision, when the answer stares you in the face."
"If only I could see it."
"You will see it Vincent, if you have the courage to take what is freely offered."
"How can I, Catherine is seeing someone else now. It is too late for me."
"That depends on you. You wanted visions Vincent, I'll give you visions. Not of what you could be with her, but of what she could be with him. You wanted her to have a 'normal' life Vincent, millions of people have normal lives it doesn't always make them happy. Take this powder Vincent, allow it to show you the life you have set her on with this other man, and if afterwards you still believe a life with you would be worse than that, then come and see me again, otherwise."
"Live the vision Vincent, and then you will know." Vincent took the snippet of paper from her in which contained the powder, "Mix it with a little water and drink it, only be alone when you use it Vincent, don't let Father worry about the effects it will put you under." "Will it make me dangerous?"
"No, but it would be wiser to be by yourself. You must let the drug take its course, and nothing must disturb you while you are under its effects. If you wish you can remain near here with me."
"Yes I would appreciate that. Some medication has a violent reaction against me. It's best that someone is near."
"As you like Vincent, but I can assure you, you will suffer no ill effects."
"And this drug will make me see things? Would it do no less for someone else?"
"What you are saying Vincent is, will the drug bring forth images and pictures the same for you as any man who uses it? The answer is no, it is not the drug that gives you visions, it only helps to free the mind of the chains the heart has placed around it. The drug frees logic Vincent, to what your mind knows to be right, but what your heart refuses to believe. And it allows you to chose which one you wish to follow."
"I have always been led to believe that I should follow my heart Narcissa. Have I been mislead?""
" Yes and no child, but along with that saying you should also know this one, and weigh one against the other when making your choice, 'The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate. And who can know it?' (Jeremiah 17 v 9).
"Narcissa you are confusing me."
"Then it is time to take the powder Vincent, and let your heart see what your head knows to be right, and in so doing you will find the key to the answers you seek. Come now Vincent, for your future is racing ahead without you."
While Vincent waited for the drug to take effect he made himself comfortable, gathering some rugs that Narcissa had offered him and a large cushion, he settled himself down inside a large tunnel just outside of her chamber, and waited. He knew all the tunnels well, but never had he seen this one from this vantage point. It was long like the rest, the rocks grey and bland, just like all the others that were void of Elizabeth's magic fingers, yet it was the ceiling that startled him. It was almost violet in colour, and he wondered what deposits were overhead, perhaps within a cavern above. While he thought about this, a movement caught his eye, from far off down the tunnel itself, and turning his attention to it, his heart leapt to see Catherine walking towards him. Starting to rise to welcome her, he hesitated, someone was with her, someone he knew only from the newspapers, and he found himself pulling up the hood of his cloak to shield his face quickly. Why had Catherine brought Elliot Burch Below? What was she thinking of, bringing that man into his world?
They seemed to take a long time to approach him, though their footsteps brought them his way, it seemed as if they walked without walking, and never got any closer. Vincent wondered about that, and rubbed his eyes, convinced he was imagining it, but no, when he looked again, they were still there, only closer. Now he could see the expressions on their faces, and something else. Following closely behind them there was a child, a small boy, with Catherine's eyes, but Elliot's looks. Vincent felt his heart constrict, and placed a hand upon his chest, while his laboured breathing caught in his throat, and threatened to choke him.
There was also something held in Elliot's arms, and Vincent saw it was another child. Smaller than the first, a child with long blonde hair, and Catherine's face, a little girl.
And then something else came into focus, Catherine, his Catherine carried a child beneath her heart. Elliot's child. The bulge of her stomach signifying in a way the other two children never could, that she continued to sleep with this man.
Vincent tried to blot out the vision, closing his eyes to it, hoping it would go away, but each time he looked there they were, only closer still. Closing his eyes tightly, to shut away the sight of them, he began to hear them. Take away one sense and the other four are intensified, and Vincent wanted to shut his ears also, as he listened in to their conversation.
"You're going away again Elliot?" there was despair in Catherine's voice.
"Yes, I'm sorry Cathy, but I am needed in Costa Rico. I shouldn't be gone more than a couple of months."
"A couple of months, but Elliot the baby is due in less than three weeks." Vincent opened his eyes, shocked at what he was hearing. How could this man leave her when she needed him so?
"I'm sorry Cathy, but you knew when you married me that I was a busy man. I thought you'd accepted that."
"But Elliot you promised, you said you would be here when this child was born. I don't think I can do it alone anymore. Please Elliot come back sooner."
"Cathy," Elliot looked down at her, humouring her, "Of course you will get through it, you always have, and its not like you can put it on hold is it?" he laughed then, at her.
"And then what Elliot? How old will this child be before I see you again.?"
"Cathy what's more important huh? My being a few weeks late into the child's life, or having the lifestyle you have grown accustomed to? Surely you can see why I have to be away so much? I have to keep making money Cathy."
Catherine sighed, "But we already have so much, more than we will ever need, and I see so little of you."
"There will come a time Cathy, when I will spend all my spare time with you I promise, but for now, there is every need that I keep my businesses flourishing. I need to stay on top Cathy, there are sharks out there, who will undermine me given the slightest opportunity. So don't despair honey, our time will come."
"When we are old and grey Elliot, and our children have left home?"
"No, long before that", he was laughing at her again. Catherine wiped a weary hand across her brow, causing Elliot to stop and look down at her, "What is it now?" he sounded irritable.
"Yes there is, something else is on your mind. Give."
Catherine shook her head, as tears gathered and fell, "Elliot, things are not as I expected, that's all."
"Then what did you expect Cathy. You have all the money you'll ever need, you have a home, children, a husband that loves you. Okay so I am not around as often as I would like to be, but I do love you Cathy. But it's not that is it, you will never be satisfied with me, because you never really loved me, not the way you loved him, this man you never speak of. The one I am not even privileged to know his name."
"Vincent." she whispered, as tears ran down her cheeks, and the name caught in her throat.
"Vincent. Huh, at last! And it took nothing to get it out of you. What! Have you accepted at last that he is out of reach. I thought you would never let go of his image." Elliot looked ecstatic, overjoyed. "Perhaps there is hope for you and I now Cathy, now you have laid the ghost. Perhaps now you could come to love me in his place."
"I will never love you, the way I love him."
"Loved, Cathy, you should be speaking in the past tense now. You loved this man, now you can love me, even if it is not with the depth that you loved him."
"No Elliot, I said love, as in the presence tense. I shall always love Vincent. But sadly he did not want me."
Elliot seemed surprised, "You have never spoken of this before."
"No, I couldn't, I don't even know if I can now. I'm sorry Elliot, it may have been you that I married, but my heart has remained with him. But then you knew this and accepted it from the very first."
"What is it about this guy Cathy. I have given you everything. You want for nothing, and all I ask in return is your love, yet never have I felt that you have given it to me."
"I care for you Elliot."
"But do you love me?"
"Not in the way you would wish it. I'm sorry Elliot, I promised I would make you a good wife, I would give you children, and be by your side as your empire grew, but I told you from the outset, you should not expect me to love you, for I left my heart with someone else."
"I would sure like to see this guy. This, this Vincent, he must be something special, if he can hold your heart still after all these years."
"Have you seen him since we were married." "No."
"Then how do you know he is still in the area, in the States even." "Believe me Elliot I know he is still here."
"Has he married another?"
"No, he loves only me. He would never marry anyone but me."
"But you said he didn't want you."
"Yes that is correct, but not because he didn't love me."
"Then why Cathy?" Elliot ran his fingers through his hair wearily, " Why could you not be together?"
"Because he, unlike you, had nothing to offer materially, all he had to offer me was his love."
"And that wasn't good enough for you?"
"No, Elliot, it was, it was," Catherine beseeched him to understand, " I only ever wanted him to love me. To have his love and nothing else, was more than I could ever have hoped for. Dreams can be built from love Elliot, whereas empires can crumble without it." "And if I were to set you free would you go to him now?"
"No. He is in my past."
"How can that be Cathy? How can you love him so intensely and not bear to be with him, even now?"
"Because Elliot now I have the children. I love them, and they love you and it would be wrong to expect them to live without either of us, or to expect them to live with Vincent and I, even to ask Vincent to bring up your children. So I am trapped Elliot, trapped in a snare of my own making."
"How do you account for that Cathy?"
"That night you asked me out to dinner, do you remember?" His eyes softened, "How could I forget?"
"Had I not of agreed, I would never have lost Vincent. We had reached a stage in our relationship, when each of us wanted more, but for reasons I am not prepared to go into, it was impossible that we could, and it was tearing us apart. I'm sorry Elliot, but you stepped into the picture again, just at the wrong moment, and it was all the excuse Vincent needed to call a halt to our relationship."
"He let you go! To me?" Catherine nodded, not trusting herself to speak, as Elliot continued, "And you let him?"
"What else could I do? I needed him, but he wasn't there, and ashamed as I am to say it...."
"And you became pregnant and agreed to marry me."
"Oh Cathy, you should have told me."
"Told you what Elliot. I kept nothing from you. You knew all you needed to know."
"No I didn't Cathy. I knew you loved someone else, but I had no idea he loved you so intensely. How do you think that makes me feel, to know somewhere someone's heart is broken because of me? Because I stepped in the moment when you could have least done with me. You may have resolved your differences, had I of not complicated things between the two of you."
"You have been a good husband Elliot."
"Yes, but an absent one. I promise to give you more time Cathy." Hope flared in Catherine's heart, "You'll be there for the birth?" And died again when he answered, "No, I can't start giving you more time just yet. Maybe next year, or the year after, but I promise Cathy just as soon as I can."
"Yes, just as soon as you can." Listlessly, she echoed his words from habit, knowing from experience, that Elliot was a breaker of promises. Not intentionally so, he just found he could never meet the promises he had made, and would forever put them off for another day. Catherine sighed, "One day Elliot, when the children are grown, and no longer need me to be with you, then maybe I will seek Vincent out. Definitely not before then." she sighed.
Elliot put down the child he was holding, dragging his fingers through his hair, "So he gets you at your beginning, and at your ending, and I wear you out with all these children in the meantime." He attempted a laugh, but it didn't quite come off, "Cathy that's tragic."
She burst into tears then, attempting a watery smile, "That's the story of my life Elliot."
"Cathy, it breaks my heart to see you this way. Look I love you Cathy, love you enough to let you go, let's be honest here. I have given you everything, and you are too kind when you tell me I have been a good husband. In that I provided for you yes, but in ten years of marriage, I think I have spent less than half that time with you...."
"A quarter." Catherine smiled.
"A quarter! Is that all it is?" he was stunned, "And you have kept account? Oh Cathy."
He drew her into his arms, kissing the top of her head, but when he searched for her lips, she turned her head away. The sadness in her eyes apparent. "You must go to him Cathy. I know what you said, I heard you, but it is unthinkable that I am away so much, and he is near, but you have never seen him?"
Catherine shook her head.
"Cathy I am the last one to condone infidelity, but..."
"No! Elliot! No, don't you see? No you couldn't possibly see," she shook her head, "What Vincent and I had, what we continue to have, is all or nothing Elliot. I will always be a part of Vincent as he will always be a part of me. Yet together or apart we suffered just the same. But that was of our own making." she whispered the last.
"And I drove the wedge that made it permanent. Its okay Cathy, you don't have to tell me so, it is written in your eyes. Without me, you two may have made it, perhaps we shall never know, if you are so determined not to see him in my absence?"
"Then why are we having this conversation Cathy. What has it all been about?" he asked her sadly, wishing he could erase the sadness from her eyes.
Catherine shook her head, "I just needed to talk about it."
"Cathy, are you happy with me?" His words stunned her. And she took a long time before answering, what could she tell him? Hadn't she hurt him enough, yet he had been so good about it, he must love her the way Vincent had done. Both of them loved her enough to set her free to seek what each thought was best for her, but happy, no she had never been happy, not with Elliot, not the way her heart had soared with happiness whenever she was with Vincent. Elliot was waiting for an answer, though in truth her silence had already given it.
"No Elliot, the day Vincent walked," she laughed, "No not walked, swept, the day Vincent swept himself out of my life he took with him my heart, my love and any chance I may of had of happiness. I can find happiness Elliot in our children, I can be happy, I can laugh, I can find joy, I can smile, but am I happy, no. Deep down, no I am not, there is a void where deep seated happiness once poured out of me, yet not since the day Vincent went out of my life."
"Like a light Cathy?"
"Yes, like a light. A light that went out inside of me, never to shine again."
Vincent continued to watch their images as they walked past him and further away down the tunnel, until he could not longer hear them. Though still their mouths moved and he strained his ears to listen he could no longer hear them. Just as before when their words were lost to him, he could not hear them now. Yet in truth hadn't he heard enough? Shaking his head, he watched as the couple and their family disappeared from view, and he got up, knowing the effects of the drug had worn off, and he had seen all he was meant to see. His heart felt heavy. He had witnessed something very tragic in Catherine's life, and hadn't that been the way she had described it herself. As tragic?
Would that really be the way things would turn out? They were after all only his own thoughts being set free, it didn't mean that things would turn out like that did it? Things could be better for her couldn't they?
Yet who was he trying to fool?
Despite how the vision had unfolded perhaps Elliot would love her better, perhaps he would spend more time with her, but it did not alter the fact that Catherine did not love Elliot.
That forever she would love only him.
Vincent moaned softly, 'What had he done?' Perhaps they would find the way forwards a difficult one, but unless they tried, they would never know, and he didn't think he could ever live with himself with just the memories of happier times with her, to comfort him through all the lonely years without her.
Pulling himself up onto his feet, he straightened, gathered the rugs and the cushion and returned them to Narcissa's chamber. She was no-where in sight, but Vincent guessed if he called to her, if he needed her she would come, appear as if she had never been missing. He could feel her eyes on him, and could only smile and quietly say 'thank you Naricissa.' as he left the warmth of her chamber to made the long trek back towards his own.
Catherine paced her apartment well into the night. She had half expected Vincent to be waiting for her when Elliot had brought her home, and was disappointed when she found he had not come. Did she really expect him to/ What was she doing playing one against the other? And then the rest of the night as she had tried to settle, strange dreams wielded their way in and out of her head, almost as if they belonged to someone else. Yet they were about herself and Elliot, and by the morning, Catherine had to drag herself out of her bed, to get ready for work. Leaving her apartment building she flagged down a taxi, which drew up at her side, but the driver told her, he was on his way to a call, and could only take her half way to her destination. Catherine declined, deciding instead to wait for the next one, yet as she waited, her eyes kept drifting towards the park, and soon she found her feet following them, taking her with minds of their own down into Vincent's world. Reaching the entrance to the drainage tunnel, she hesitated. Would he be there waiting for her, or would he refuse to see her? Walking about in the dust, swirls of it drifted over her feet, camouflaging her boots to the colour below their soles.
Making the decision of her life, Catherine walked steadily within, out of the sunlight, into the gloomy tunnel, and gasped to find him there, waiting for her.
"Vincent!", her voice broke with emotion. "You came."
"Yet, you doubted it?"
"Yes." She hesitated, nothing had changed. Desire assaulted her senses just for the sight of him. She longed for him to hold her, and he answered that need. Holding open his arms she flung herself into them, feeling them enclose around her holding her tight, as if he would never let her go.
"I love you Catherine." he told her. "Please forgive me."
Searching his eyes, Catherine hung back to look into his face, "There is nothing to forgive," she told him, "or if there is, it is I who should be seeking your forgiveness Vincent."
"Then we are both to blame. I forced you into a situation you would never ordinarily have contemplated."
"Going out with Elliot?"
"Vincent, let me live in your world, with you, in whatever category you chose, only let me be a part of your life Vincent, I need you. I need you." Catherine buried her face into his chest, soaking up the delicious scent of him. Of leather, candle wax and the musky scent she associated with the only man that she loved.
"Yes." he told her, after what seemed an age, and startled Catherine looked up to search his eyes, unable to believe he had agreed at last! "Vincent?" she enquired of him, hardly daring to breathe. "I love you Catherine. I don't know what the future holds for us, but already we have a firm enough foundation with which to build from. And your coming to live with me in my world, will not answer all our questions, or unravel all our problems, but we will be together, and so at least the suffering of us being apart will be one pain less to deal with."
"But Vincent, having me close, that close, do you know what you are agreeing to, have I made myself plain?"
"Yes Catherine. You want me to be your lover. I don't know if I am ready for that.... Yet. So I will make a bargain with you. If you can wait long enough through an engagement, and then...."
"Vincent!" Catherine was stunned!
Vincent smiled down at her, "Yes, my Catherine, I am asking you to marry me."
"Oh Vincent, of course I'll marry you. Did you ever doubt it?"
Vincent looked down at her, his heart bursting with love and pride, "No." he told her honestly, " I never believed you would refuse me, but I always believed I didn't have the right to ask."
"Can we go home now Vincent?"
"Wasn't you on your way to work?"
"Once perhaps, but no more. That life isn't mine anymore." she shook her head, "I want to be with you, there is so much we have to discuss."
"Yes, and believe me they will be very complex matters, the worst of all, having to confess our intentions to Father." Catherine laughed then, allowing him to guide her over the threshold. Then down the long tunnels that led to the home chambers, her arm never leaving his body as she hugged him tightly to her, making walking difficult, but she'd have it no other way for the glory of having him close. Walking along, they talked, "It won't be easy Catherine, living with me. You may see things you were unprepared for."
"Like what?" she smiled up at him.
"Like the times when the rages possess me, and no-one attempts to come near for fear of their life."
"And you think you will have these rages once I am in your midst."
"I had them before you came into my life Catherine, and have had them more since."
"What causes them?"
"Frustration, inability to cope with what I am. Anything can set it off, sometimes even a lack of some mineral I might need."
"Are these rages dangerous... to you?"
"To me, no. Oh I might smash a few things and cut myself, but generally, it is other people who are in danger, if around me."
"But you would never hurt me."
Vincent looked down at her, seeing the sincerity in her eyes. "Its true Vincent, you would never hurt me."
Her conviction astounded him, he could not find the words with which to reply.
"Vincent, I know you, and these rages that you've had, they may be a thing of the past, but even if they are not, you can show me what triggers them off, how to look for the signs. Let me be your guide Vincent. Allow me to be there for you, to stay with you, to see you safely through them. Please Vincent, I don't want to be shut out when you are suffering so much."
He hugged her to him, kissing the top of her head, "You don't know what you are asking Catherine. These rages aren't like the ones with which I use to save your life. No nothing like that. I cannot control them and I lose myself in them. The beast reigns, and the man is powerless to stop him. You do not know what danger you would be in if you were to be there with me. So I cannot allow you do so."
"Don't back out on me now Vincent, for better or worse you know that. I'll be there for you Vincent whether you want me to or not. For I know Vincent, I know more than any other that the beast inside loves me too. If he did not, he would not have come to my rescue on all those occasions when my life has been in danger. Who do you think saves my life Vincent, the man or the beast?"
Vincent stared down at her astounded, she was right! The man he was would never behave so viciously, even if he did have the ability and the weapons at his disposal. Maybe an evil man would, but he, Vincent the man, loved people, he could never kill the way he'd killed if it were not for the beast inside.
"You know I am right don't you Vincent? And I believe that once you accept what I offer to you, the very things that used to trigger your rages will dissipate. You know Vincent, believe it or not, sexual frustration makes a person better, stronger, less in control true, but look how it is for an athlete, or a footballer. When working towards a race or a game, their manager will not allow them to have sex during that time, because to do so, would weaken and lessen their chances of winning. They are strengthened by frustration. And I more than most know the truth behind that theory." She added impishly.
Vincent laughed then, heartily, "Is that why you win so many cases. Perhaps I should not be taking from the world above such a good lawyer, neither take away her ability to perform her best."
"Now that I could live with." They laughed together and she continued, "Besides, I renounced my life above and all that goes with it, Vincent."
"Yes, but if there were another way, one in which you could continue with your career. I think it is an option we should work on. It might be possible."
"I don't know if I want it to be possible. I may be good at my job Vincent, but it isn't something I need. I only did it to prove something to myself, to my father, and to everyone that knew me, and I succeeded. But now there is no glory in keeping on with the pretence, I would much rather be a lady of leisure."
"Then I'm afraid you are going to the wrong place. Below there is no such leisure, well not unless you are a glutton for playing chess." he laughed long and loudly.
"Oh Vincent, its going to be great, and look even your proposal has freed the tension that has been between us of late."
"Yes I had noticed. I wanted to remark on it earlier but was afraid of upsetting the apple cart."
Catherine laughed, "Oh I shouldn't worry anymore Vincent. The desire is still there, but since you have taken away never and replaced it with maybe, I can put up with the wait, knowing that the eventuality will be worth it." Her eyes laughed and danced with joy, and Vincent gathered her close. It had been a long time since they had shared such a closeness, and it warmed him. "But Vincent?"
"Yes." he was almost afraid of what she was going to ask him. "Can we kiss?"
Vincent sucked in a breath, the remembrance of their first and last kiss still set his pulses racing, "I don't know Catherine." he replied honestly.
"That's okay, don't worry Vincent, I won't pressure you. Still, I think you did enjoy it." her mischief, made him smile.
And he replied, "Yes Catherine I did enjoy it, and I am eager to repeat it. Unfortunately it brought forth other emotions which I am not yet up to discussing, or even facing, but I promise you Catherine I will give it all a great deal of thought. Not that I have never done so before I might add."
"Look lets get off this subject shall we, its beginning to cause a strain, and we were getting along so well. Lets not spoil it, what comes will come naturally, even if we have been married for years and still no sign." Vincent stopped dead, turning her to look at him, "You'd marry me in spite of still having to wait?" he could hardly believe he had heard correctly. "But of course. Though how on earth you will resist me when I have the right to share your bed, I do not know, indeed your self control would have to be stronger than steel." she laughed up at his expression, "Vincent, I'm teasing you, seriously, I'll wait, and I'll marry you, and I'll wait some more, and I will not insist on sharing your bed until first you invite me into it. Is that fair or what?"
He laughed then, and hugged her close, "I love you Catherine, and I promise you may have to wait a long time, but it won't be forever. How could I possibly deny myself the right to love you? It's just these fears, a lifetime of fears Catherine, I have to break them down. Be patient my love, and things will come out right you'll see. Trust me."
"Oh I do Vincent, and I promise, I will help you overcome all your fears."
Continued in part 2