BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
By Wendy de-Veryard
Deep in thought Vincent walked across the park having left Catherine's apartment earlier than usual. Things were changing between them, at least they were for him.
There had been so many glorious moments spent in her company, innocent moments, when he was grateful just to hold her close, drink in the fragrance of her newly washed hair, and enjoy her being with him for a few snatched hours every night.
They would read, or entertain one another with tales of Above and Below, things that had happened to both of them that day, and as two very good friends, they looked forward to spending time together. For the best part of two years, Vincent had felt at ease with Catherine's friendship. He thought her beautiful but then he had always done so, and she wore the most stunning gowns that only emphasised her figure, but to him she was Catherine, courageous and strong, a fighter for what was right and all that was good and he adored her.
As he walked he began to piece together when things had started to alter for him. In the main it was when Mary and Father had exploded with laughter when they had found out that he had refused to enter Catherine's apartment. He blushed scarlet even now when he remembered the conversation.
"You mean you have never entered her home Vincent?" Mary's shocked expression had bewildered him. "Oh poor Catherine."
"Why, what do you mean?" Vincent had felt flustered.
"You mean to tell me you expect the poor girl to sit out on the balcony with you in all weathers wearing just a robe?"
"Catherine has never felt cold to me." Vincent had replied, to which Father's screech of laughter made him redden further.
"And you would know?" Father raised an eyebrow, "Vincent exactly how close are the two of you?"
Vincent had balked at the question and all it had implied. "Not in that way Father. Catherine is my friend."
"But are you hers?" Mary giggled, and Vincent sent her a warning look.
"Of course I am her friend!" he had replied indignantly.
"You wouldn't be mine, if you expected me to spend every night out on a hard stone floor, even if you did wrap me in the folds of your cloak to keep me warm. Damp still seeps through Vincent. You'll be giving the poor girl arthritis before she is done."
Shame warred with embarrassment in Vincent, he hadn't thought of that. And how did Mary know that he wrapped Catherine in his cloak? Had Catherine said something to her?
If she had then certainly she was feeling much the same as Mary painted. But why did she not say anything to him?
Staring at his parents Vincent could find no words with which to answer them, but they seemed not to notice, "Why don't you accept her invitation Vincent? Her apartment is warm, and you quite willingly allow her to enter your home, your chamber even, what's so frightening about entering her home?"
Vincent stared at Mary for long moments, trying to find an answer. Really there wasn't one, "I don't know." He stammered, "I've never really thought about it."
"There must be something that stops you Vincent. Or you would have gone inside before now." Father asked rubbing his chin thoughtfully.
Vincent shook his head, his tawny mane covering his embarrassment for a moment. Father gave his own views, "Perhaps there is more to your relationship than meets the eye?" he asked softly.
Vincent's head rose, his eyes met Father's and another blush stained his cheeks, "No, you're wrong." He told Father, yet deep inside a tiny voice mocked him, 'No he isn't.'
Vincent dwelt on that voice for some moments, stunned to hear it rise. Did he? Was he afraid of something he had never allowed himself to recognise? Could he ever think more of Catherine than just a friend? More to the point did he already? Had he always?
There was that time when first she had left him at the threshold after her attack. How good it had felt to have her arms around him. How right she felt in his arms. Vincent shuddered.
Father noticed, "I think perhaps I have hit the nail on the head Vincent, but I also think you were unaware of this. Perhaps you would do as well to go to your chamber and analyse your feelings, and if you wish we could talk about this later?"
Vincent was glad of the escape, he nodded, turned without a word and left, leaving Father and Mary to erupt into peels of laughter which only made the situation worse as far as Vincent was concerned.
There in his chamber, Vincent sat in his large winged chair, his head on his hands and he thought - hard.
After some half an hour, his mind was in as much turmoil as when he had begun. He felt trapped all of a sudden.
Mary's information about the way he and Catherine had spent their evenings could only have come from Catherine herself and that meant that he could not ignore it. Obviously he would have to enter her apartment now. He had never considered that Catherine might be cold sat outside on the balcony with him, but then he had held her tightly to his own warmth and had not noticed.
Suddenly Vincent knew! He gasped, that was it! He found it difficult to breathe. Why had he never realised before?
No, it wasn't that he didn't want to enter her apartment, it wasn't that at all. He had always told himself that being in her apartment was too private. Just the two of them alone, it would make him feel uncomfortable, and then there were the lights. Below in the candle-light she couldn't see exactly what he was, but there in the apartment she would see him clearly. That was what he had always told himself. But if he were honest, those reasons were just excuses.
Like a cold slap in the face Vincent's heart hammered with shock, as a juddering started and climbed relentlessly through his limbs. God he loved her! He really loved her, and it was having the reason to hold her close and keep her warm on the balcony that he craved. That close almost intimate contact that made him feel so wonderfully alive and human in her presence.
Suddenly he wanted to run. To flee these thoughts, and cursed Father and Mary for making him face them.
But wait! It wasn't Mary it had been Catherine. Something she had said that had started the conversation.
What was worse?
The fact that Catherine wanted him to come inside her apartment or the fact that Catherine didn't want to spend long hours enfolded in his arms on the balcony anymore?
Swallowing with difficulty, Vincent checked his mental clock. It would be dusk up above. Time soon for him to leave and go to her. And he would go to her, even though he knew what he knew now. Like a bee to nectar he needed her sweetness. It was as simple as that.
But feeling as he did?
Vincent didn't know if he could carry it off.
He drank in air in great gasping breaths as a feeling wielded its way through his limbs, and settled in the region of his groin. Vincent moaned as the gentle throbbing began there.
No! Not this too. This feeling was reserved for other people, a feeling from the past, long buried and almost forgotten, the desire for Lisa. He couldn't, couldn't allow himself to feel it for Catherine, it would spoil everything that they had.
He rose, pacing his chamber his mind racing, his hardness increasing.
How he wanted her!
The thought shamed him. He couldn't go to her like this!
Who was he fooling? He had to go to her like this!
She had to know. Did she know? Did she want this from him?
Vincent sat down again heavily, trying to think. Had Catherine ever given any sign that she loved him that way too?
There was the time of the rock fall when she had told him, 'it wasn't courage Vincent it was love.' For sometime he had dwelt on those words, and how she might have meant them, but she had given nothing away since and certainly nothing for him to worry about.
No, the more he reasoned the more it became apparent, Catherine loved him as a brother and no more.
He needed air!
The shuddering continued, and the throbbing in his loins increased. What was happening to him!
It was as if he had been taken over. He laughed hysterically. This was Catherine he was thinking about! Dear sweet Catherine. His friend, how could he degrade her image like that?
He looked at his hands. He sobbed, how could he even think it? Those hands caressing his Catherine! It was repulsive!
The sobbing increased to a wail, bringing Father hobbling as fast as his legs would carry him, enfolding Vincent in his arms, "Tell me?" he beseeched his son, "Tell me what troubles you so?"
"I love Catherine!" the words erupted from him unwilling. The sobs increased, "Father, I love her. I didn't realise until now just how much. What am I to do?"
Father patted his son's back, bade him sit down, and pulled up a chair opposite, his kindly eyes grave with sorrow.
"I've always been afraid of this." He began, his eyes diverted suddenly to the straining material at Vincent's groin, dear god he meant it then? So the love his son had for this woman went that deep.
"I'm sorry Vincent. Did Mary and I start this?"
Vincent nodded, "Until then I hadn't given it much thought."
Father waited for him to go on.
"The reason I hold her close on the balcony, Father I've always craved those moments. I know why now."
Father drew in a deep breath, "You have to control it Vincent. Perhaps refrain from spending time with Catherine. In time the pain will lessen "
Vincent did not hear the words, clasping each hand to his ears, he cried, "Stop! Father I can't hear this. I tell you I love Catherine. I can't just shut it off."
Father swallowed with difficulty, "It will be difficult Vincent, but it has to be. That kind of relationship is not for you. Sad as that is, it's a fact, and you have to believe it."
Shaking his head, Vincent sobbed, his heart crushed and broken, "I can't. I need her Father."
Exasperated Father stood, "You can and you will Vincent. It has to be this way!" His heart went out to his son, his agony was apparent, and Father knew how that felt. He wouldn't wish it on anyone. "I'm sorry Vincent. I saw it coming. You obviously did not. Catherine is a very beautiful woman but her life is Above you know that. Vincent you have to gain mastery over your emotions for simply, they can never be."
Burying his head in his hands, Vincent's voice was racked with pain as he begged Father, "Leave me now." He choked back further words, but none were necessary, Father patted his shoulder firmly, and exited the chamber, casting looks back in Vincent's direction. His heart ached to see his son like that he wished he could take the pain within himself and spare his son such agony.
Alone again, Vincent's resolve altered. He dried his tears, drew in a shuddering breath and rose to don his cloak, He would go to her, as he knew he would, even feeling as he did, he needed her closeness, the comfort of her arms. He would be strong, for her, he would not put this upon her, it was his problem. His alone and he would fight it and win.
Catherine was as always waiting for him.
The moment she heard the light tapping on her balcony doors, she flew straight to the doors, flinging them open and throwing herself into his ever waiting arms.
"I've missed you" she breathed hugging him tightly, "I expected you earlier."
"I can't stay long." He told her, as the shuddering began again. Her closeness was making his head spin.
"Is there a problem Below?"
It wasn't like Vincent to be crude, but he almost smirked at her question. Yes there was a problem below, but not in the way she meant.
"Vincent?" his hesitance worried her.
"No." he could find no other answer. Neither could he draw away and look into her eyes. He held her against him tightly, craving the contact, and Catherine though a little bemused was more than happy to stay close in his arms, it was a rarity and she loved every moment of it. But there was something wrong she was sure of it. It was unlike him to hold her so tightly and for so long.
"Tell me, what's wrong?"
Composing himself, Vincent drew reluctantly away. His arms ached to hold her again. He could not look at her.
This only made Catherine grow really worried.
"I must go." Vincent could think of no other way out. If he stayed he feared for her, for them, already his passion was creeping up on him, overriding his good sense.
He shuddered, Catherine noticed, "Are you cold? Come inside." Her concern was evident.
Vincent hesitated, here again was the invitation, should he refuse? Perhaps there in the apartment he would feel better. He nodded, "Yes I'd like that."
Catherine's eyes opened wide. Something was definitely wrong with him, He had never agreed before.
Stepping back leading the way, she side stepped through the balcony doors watching him warily, almost afraid that he would take to flight at any moment. But no, he followed, pulling the doors closed after him.
Even that? Catherine was rooted to the spot. He had even closed the doors behind him she had not anticipated this.
Flustered she heard herself asking if he would like some tea but he refused. Instead he felt out of place standing in the centre of her lounge, the overhead light making him almost cringe.
Catherine understood at once, and switched on the lamp, flicking off the main light straight after. "Come sit by the fire." She beckoned, holding out her hand. He took it, mesmerised. The apartment was beautiful and so very 'Catherine'. He felt almost as if the very walls themselves were her arms enfolding him in their warm embrace.
There is her apartment, in her company, he was lost.
Sitting down on the dinky sofa in front of the fire, his size swamped the furniture. Catherine giggled, "Joe always says those sofas are too small, I can see what he means now. Perhaps you would be more comfortable on the floor with the cushions."
Vincent slid without comment to the floor. The fire warmed his feet, and he had to remove his boots lest they burn.
Again Catherine's eyes widened. Vincent here, beside her fire and removing his boots. What on earth had changed him?
Suddenly she raised a hand to her mouth and gasped! Her conversation with Mary just two days hence filled her mind. That was it, it had to be.
"Vincent, if you feel uncomfortable here, please don't stay on my account." She mumbled.
He looked up at her. His eyes caught her breath away. They were filled with something she had only ever dreamed of. Those eyes looking at her that way. Her breathing laboured, that look of love penetrated her soul. She found it impossible to look away.
God she loved him!
Her body with a mind of its own melted under those eyes looking at her with such love. Was it possible?
She felt compelled to say it, to tell him that she loved him, but could not find the words. Spellbound she stood, her breast rising and falling, which did little to help Vincent's desire. He watched her, seeking out the depths of her soul, unwilling at that moment to search through the Bond lest he was mistaken. But the way she returned his gaze brought a heat to his limbs, and it had nothing to do with the warmth from the fire.
"Would you like something to drink?" she heard herself asking again. Chiding herself for being parrot like, she smiled shaking her head with humour, Vincent grinned, showing his teeth, something he rarely did.
Catherine wondered if that was it, perhaps he had been drinking. Perhaps he was intoxicated. Once he had allowed himself to partake of Mouse's bootleg liquor and had become drunk, perhaps he'd succumbed again. Was that it?
It couldn't be intoxication of another sort could it? Catherine's heart raced. Did he love her?
Her mind in overdrive she stammered, "Can I get you anything at all?"
'Only you,' his mind screamed, instead he shook his head, wrenching his gaze away at long last, fumbling for his boots, "I must go Catherine."
Catherine did not argue. She watched as he drew on his boots, and watched as he stood, and reached for her to hug her goodbye, but then thought better of it.
Without a word, he left her stood mesmerised and watching him go and she couldn't for the life of her follow him out.
He closed the doors behind him, and still Catherine remained rooted to the spot, only when he disappeared from her view did she stumble into action. Darting across the room, she flung open the doors, calling after him, "Vincent. Will I see you tomorrow?"
Half over the balcony, Vincent hesitated, undecided. Perhaps Father was right, perhaps he should see less of her. He had acted stupidly tonight. Like some teenager in the first bloom of youth.
"Not tomorrow." He heard himself telling her.
"When then?" she asked breathlessly.
"I don't know. I'll send a message."
Catherine nodded, "Be well Vincent."
"Be well Catherine." The words echoed back, they were not the ones he ached to say. He left her then, his mind reeling with the words he dare not utter, "I love you Catherine, I love you so much."
When he had gone, Catherine hugged herself. There was so much to dwell on. Vincent had acted very strangely this night, and Catherine wondered if Mary might be able to provide any answers. It was obvious that they'd had words.
Catherine giggled as she remembered Vincent's awkwardness around her. It was so unlike him. He was always so composed. Tonight he had acted like a love-struck teenager.
Hugging herself tightly, Catherine wished hard. Could it be possible, could Vincent be falling in love with her?
Catherine hoped so with all of her heart.
Walking through the park, it was still early, and Vincent had to dodge couples loitering there. Waiting in bushes for concealment he had no choice but to be a party to several loving couples draped around one another. One couple drew him especially, their words a searing joy to his heart.
"I love you honey."
"I love you too baby."
The couple kissed long and passionately. Vincent watched them with hunger. A fire starting in his veins into an almost jealous rage.
He wanted what they had. He craved to be loved like that. To hold Catherine in his arms, to know the freedom that such love brings.
The couple moved away, and Vincent sought his exit, his heart aching.
Moving slowly to the tunnel entrance, a sound caught his attention. Someone was in the drainage tunnel.
He stopped outside, hidden by the bushes that grew there, and listened intently. Maybe it was a tunnel dweller coming home late. Perhaps he might recognise their voice.
A sob caught his attention, and he felt anger rise within, as a girl begged for her life, "Please don't hurt me. I'm only fourteen."
"Nice and tight then." Came a rough and seedy voice, followed by a snicker from someone else.
"I won't hurt you baby, at least not in the way you think, but I sure as hell am gonna have you."
Vincent heard the sound of a zipper unfastening, he could hear the girl struggling, the sound of slapping and cursing, "Hold her tight Bill. See this baby, it's all for you."
The girl screamed, and Vincent looked around desperately for a way to help her.
"Pin her against that rock Bill, hold her tight. See how hard I am for you baby."
"Me too, me too." Vincent heard the other guy speak.
"Please no, don't." the girl whimpered.
"Too late baby I've got you here between a rock and a hard place. Huh get it, a hard place. Feel it baby, I'm as hard as this rock for you, now open your legs."
"No!" the scream thundered through the tunnel, and Vincent was thrown into a frenzy. He growled loudly, the sound reverberating within.
"What was that?"
"Sounds like an angry dog Buzz."
"Dammit. Look hold the girl, I'll take a look."
Vincent heard the sound of fumbling again, and then the zipper being pulled up with difficulty. He growled louder and watched as a figure crept outside. Once within arm's length Vincent struck out, feeling the warm trickle of blood stain his fingers, and the yelp of pain from his victim.
"Buzz! Was that you?" Nervously Bill's voice echoed through the opening. "Buzz?"
There was no reply. Vincent picked up the still body with distaste. He wasn't dead, but bleeding profusely from a thin slice out of his throat. He soon would be if he didn't get to hospital soon.
A guttural moan answered Bill, who let go of the girl, his passion gone and stepped gingerly outside.
Vincent was waiting for him, he snarled and the man turned around, catching sight of Vincent's fangs, just as his arm crashed down upon him, sending him reeling. Bill felt his arm break in two, and pain seared through him as he became aware that one half of his arm hang loose, the flesh torn through the material of his jacket. Bill screamed, clutching his arm, and made to run, but Vincent was behind him, bringing him to the ground, his passion and his fury, a blind rage.
All the emotions, all the pent up desire for Catherine giving way in one swipe of his mighty arm. He felt blood soak his fingers, felt the warm rush of it slide across his palm, its coppery scent filling his nostrils and watched without any feeling of remorse at all as the crumpled heap of flesh and sinew quivered its last upon the ground.
He shook. His limbs, every one of them tuned to icy fingers that crept through his veins, and with difficulty he called out to the girl still softly crying within the drainage tunnel.
Composing himself Vincent called to her softly, "You can come out now. Don't be afraid."
He strained his ears to her whispered response, "Those men?"
"My dog has taken care of them. They will hurt you no more. Come you must go, it is late."
Slowly the girl emerged from the tunnel, her eyes darting this way and that, "Where are you?" she whispered.
Vincent would not reply. She was too close, he didn't want her to see him.
Quickly she looked about her and the two bodies on the floor frightened her. "Thank you." She shouted before running. Running as though she would never stop.
Inside the safety of his world, Vincent examined his blood caked hands. He hated this. He hated being what he was, but it saved lives, and it got the muck off of the streets. He felt no remorse for having rid the world of two rapists it was two less people for Catherine to have to worry about.
The amount of rape victims that came to her for help had often astounded him.
But he did feel a kind of guilt at the ferocity of his attack upon them. His passion had been the root cause. Frustrated at wanting Catherine and being denied this had caused his anger to come so hard and so fast. That and the fact that one moment he was hearing tender endearments between lovers that thrilled him, and then those same words directed so callously at a young child about to be raped.
Vincent shuddered as those words haunted him. Even those words he'd heard 'between a rock and a hard place'. It was obvious what the rapist had meant by that, yet he had heard that expression before meaning something else entirely. He found it hard to believe how many expressions could be manipulated to fit a good deed as well as a bad one.
Slowly Vincent made his way home, his heart heavy. He didn't think he had ever felt so alone.
Her eyes ringed dark from a sleepless night, Catherine listened as Joe outlined the day's activities, "I've got to go Cath. I know I promised I would stay in today and help you with the Thompson case, but it's a hard world Cath and I owe Moreno one, and he is calling it in. He's got me Cathy, good and tight between a rock and a hard place, and I can tell you its not a good place to be."
Catherine was grinning.
"Okay what's so darn funny Radcliffe. Haven't you heard a word I've said?"
Catherine nodded, her eyes bright with humour, "Yes Joe, and don't worry I'm sure I will manage."
He looked at her long and hard sometimes Radcliffe had him worried. She had asked him for several days for his help on that case. "Well if you're sure?"
"I'm sure Joe." She was actually pushing him towards the door. "Don't forget your briefcase Joe." She was grinning from ear to ear.
"So what's with the Cheshire cat thing?" he grinned back at her. "Something I said?"
Catherine nodded, not trusting herself to speak.
"Wish I could remember what it was Radcliffe. One moment you look as tired as hell then pow! You are bright and bushy tailed."
"You wouldn't understand Joe, now git! Moreno's waiting."
"I'm going, I'm going." He laughed, Catherine in this mood was a force to be reckoned with.
When he had gone Catherine collapsed into peels of laughter.
It wasn't so much as what he said, but the fact that it touched on how she was feeling. Joe was right, it was a hard world, in fact to be specific a hard place, and right then she would have given anything to be between a rock and a hard place. Because between the two she would find Vincent, and after last night, she very much wanted to find Vincent. A sleepless night spent thinking of little else had told her that.
With a fluttering excitement bubbling in her stomach Catherine opened the file to the Thompson case. It was unlike her but she couldn't face it. "If you can go gallivanting Joe so can I." She spoke aloud.
Grabbing her coat, she left her seat swinging round and round as she made for the exit, her mind intent on where she was going.
She met Mary half way through the tunnels, "Mary Hello, were you going Above?"
"You say that as if I'm not allowed out." Mary scolded gently.
Catherine laughed. "I was coming to see you. Should we go back Above together, maybe go for a coffee or something?"
Mary laughed, "No we can stay here, actually believe it or not, I was coming to see you!"
"Really, but I would have been at work."
"I was going to leave you a message at your apartment. But this is even better, can you spare some time?"
"Is this about Vincent?"
Mary looked at her for long moments, and nodded, "There's something you might not know."
"That you talked him to entering my apartment?" the two walked side by side back towards the main hub and Mary's own chamber.
"Not exactly." Mary bade her enter drawing a long curtain over the entrance to keep out the tunnel's icy chill. "I made mention to his not entering your apartment, but it would seem that having a talk with him made far more transpire for him than we realised."
"Catherine, it's not really for me to tell you. But don't worry Catherine I think that even now Father might be able to dissuade him from what he really feels .for you."
"Catherine, I think Vincent loves you." Mary told her nervously.
Catherine felt her head swimming, her breath caught and held in her throat, "Oh Mary do you really think so?"
Surprised Mary could only stand and stare, "This doesn't upset you?"
"Mary how could it. I love Vincent so much."
"You do?" Mary was clearly surprised. "But I don't think you understand Catherine. When I say Vincent loves you, I mean he 'LOVES' you."
"Better and better." Catherine hugged herself. So that would explain his actions of the previous evening.
Mary stared wide-eyed at Catherine. "I love Vincent with my life Catherine, but I never dreamed, never hoped that someone someday could love him equally as much as he loved them and epecially in that way. I don't know what to say."
"Not equally Mary desperately. I love Vincent how lovers love. I've loved him this way for a long, long time."
Mary's wide-eyed expression grew, "You are remarkable Catherine I give you that, but have you thought this through, I mean you don't need me to highlight the fact that Vincent is well different."
Catherine's eyes had taken on a distant look, and Mary was quick to notice, "It's no fantasy Catherine." She almost snapped, "This is no beauty and the beast fairy story. This is dangerous, for you, for Vincent, it's got to stop."
"Not you too, Mary. I never believed that you would think as does Father."
Mary looked at her gravely, "Catherine you can't continue with this. Why you're very lives are different, it's an impossible situation."
"Why is it? You have made your home here?"
"You'd even consider that?"
"To be with Vincent, I'd consider anything. No not consider, I'd do it willingly. Love knows no boundaries Mary, and I want to be wherever he is. I love him so much." A sob caught in her throat, and Mary could only pat Catherine's shoulder wondering if she had done wrong to bring all this out into the open. What on earth would happen now?
"Is Vincent in his chamber?"
"You surely aren't going to see him?"
"I have to do."
"Catherine you can't. Not like this. You need time to compose yourself."
"But if Vincent loves me "
"No Catherine, don't you see, he doesn't know we have had this conversation, and as I said Father is trying to dissuade him even as we speak."
"Oh but he mustn't. Mary I've waited so long. Please don't stop him now." Catherine stood and headed for the exit, "I must go to him. Can't you see, we need each other so much."
Shaking her head Mary caught her arm, "Let me escort you Above Catherine. Vincent will come to you in his own good time. Believe me its better this way."
"Better for whom?" Catherine snapped, "Certainly not for me or for Vincent. I won't hurt him Mary, as Lisa hurt him. I trust him. This is different. It's for life."
"It isn't. You don't know anything about that time. Vincent hurt Lisa, and he'll hurt you too."
"Never!" Catherine's heart pounded. Vincent would never hurt her. He loved her too much.
Pulling back the heavy curtain to step outside into the tunnel, Catherine was surprised when its weight was taken from the other side, and gasped to see Vincent standing there. His eyes a brilliant fiery blue stunned her.
Mesmerised she stared up at him, his concern evident. "Catherine, I felt your anxiety, what is wrong? What are you doing here?"
She had no answer for him. In fact with her behaviour reminiscent of his own the night before she just continued to gaze upon him loving everything her eyes rested upon. His beautiful mouth, the texture of his skin. His high cheekbones, the furrowed brow, so much she wanted to smooth away his tension, but kept her hands resolutely at her sides. How she loved him! Her heart beat painfully, and Vincent aware of its erratic pace could only wonder at its cause. He took her arm, and guided her from Mary's chamber, leading her towards his own in silence. Catherine went meekly, her heart thudding, his closeness as a burning flame that seared her soul.
Father tried to confront them as they passed, his eyes catching Mary's as she followed behind the couple, her anguish evident.
Vincent swept aside anything Father was about to say, "No!" he growled, making Catherine shudder at the masterful way he direct his attack. Father was stunned to silence. His hands falling to his sides and then one reaching out to Mary as she halted beside him. They watched in silent fear and wonder as Vincent led Catherine to his chamber.
Once inside he let the heavy curtain fall to its place, his mind a whirl. Until now, he had thought of nothing but his anger at Father's meddling that day. Words swam around his head of advice from Father that he was not prepared to accept.
Now he wondered how some of that must have sounded to Catherine, and what she would be thinking. He turned to face her, his heart hammering. Unprepared for the look that filled her eyes for him! He was stunned, but the truth shone through, he could see it, and the connection told no lies, she loved him. Vincent felt the tears well up, and he drew her wordlessly into his embrace. Catherine went willingly, loving the firm solid feel of him.
She had come home. This place, like no other. In the sanctity of his arms, she was cherished and protected and she would rather be nowhere else on earth. A sob escaped her, as she buried her face into his chest, clutching him tighter against her.
Words she had once felt incapable of expression forced their way up and up to erupt in one mighty rush, "I love you so much Vincent." She felt him shudder, draw in a controlled breath, his chest rising beneath her cheek, expelled in an instant and drawn back in again as he fought for control, "No!" she cried, "Let it go Vincent. Tell me you feel the same way."
He buried his face into her neck, inhaling the sweetness that he craved, his body trembling and his eyes moist with tears.
Catherine clung to him, "Please baby." She whimpered, and Vincent was lost.
Oh the words The words directed at him! Never had he hoped for half as much.
He drew back just enough to gaze into her eyes. They stunned him. He had never seen that look directed at him before, ever. Her eyes begged him to love her and he was lost.
Crushing her to him, his voice broke, "Catherine I love you more than life but this ." His voice husky with emotion thrilled her, but he seemed incapable of elaborating on that, though his body continued to shake.
Catherine smoothed his back and shoulders with the palms of her hands, small swirling circles that eased his anxiety. "Shh," she whispered, though did not know why, for he made no sound, but she knew his pain. It dwelt deep inside her too. This agony, this yearning to have him close in the way that lovers were close.
Slowly his breathing eased and he drew back with a sigh, a half smile forming upon his lips, "So " he began searching her eyes for clues, "Where do we go from here?"
Catherine smiled, a smile that lit her eyes, merriment is definitely called for here, she thought, "You really want me to tell you?" she teased.
Something in the way she said it thrilled Vincent, his body responded instantly, and he pulled his cloak more firmly around him, an action that did not go unnoticed by Catherine. She smiled, stepping closer and moulding herself against him, much to Vincent's gasp of surprise.
Thrilling at his obvious arousal Catherine rubbed herself wantonly against him smiling at his sharp intake of breath, glad when his arms tightened around her. "I want you Vincent." Her voice tight and deep with emotion left him spellbound, "I want you as much as you want me." Her hands caressed his arms and shoulders, running around to his back, down to his buttocks, "Please honey I've waited so long."
Lost in the words once again Vincent groaned he sought refuge in her closeness, grounding his desire against her, shamelessly letting her know how desperately he needed this.
"Yes Vincent." The words catapulted from Catherine, "Please now."
"Not here." The words rasped from Vincent. His head spun and his mind in a whirl. He knew only that here anyone could walk in on them at any moment, and besides, there was a place, a place he had only ever dreamed of for their first union together. Stunned by his own omission, Vincent knew then what he had tried so cleverly to disguise, this love, this need of Catherine had been present within him for a long time. In fact if he were honest from the very first time he had identified that they shared a Bond.
He knew now it was their destiny, and they could no more fight against that than they could stop the earth from spinning.
With one hand around her waist he guided her, lifting the heavy curtain, walking with difficulty now as his hardness strained at the material of his jeans.
Silently Catherine walked at his side, her mind an excited mangled whirl of emotions, disbelief warring with hope, fear that he would change his mind, crowded out by her desire and the beautiful knowledge that they had come too far to back down now.
For two long years she had yearned for this, though she had not loved Vincent so desperately in all that time, but it had been that long since she had last made love and the need was great.
He led her past the waterfall in silence, his mind still a whirl. He knew that there would be no going back, but he was a little afraid.
Every step he took seemed more difficult than the last.
His hardness grew in amazing proportions as they came ever closer to the place he had in mind. It was a cave warm and chill free just off from the waterfall itself.
Inside cushions lay scattered, and Catherine was surprised to see that lanterns lit the cave. Vincent motioned to put them out, when Catherine caught his arm, "Leave them." She told him, "I want to see you."
He didn't know if he could then. To have her see him, his differences, Catherine saw his unease and she hastened to reassure him, "Vincent you are beautiful to me. I want to see you. All of you."
His eyes were wary, but he pulled her to him his voice unwilling to come, but his lips moved across her face. Catherine felt his kisses, nervous and fearful and allowed him time by standing still and saying nothing. Her hands though wove their own rhapsody across his chest, lower and lower, until her fingers trailed across the steely length of him and enclosed him in her grip. Vincent pulled back, his eyes startled and his breathing laboured, as a sudden wetness soaked her palm.
Catherine smiled her encouragement, and his shame vanished.
Wordlessly he drew her back against him, his breathing erratic, and Catherine pushed down on his shoulders indicting that they should lie on the cushions swamping the floor. They were dry and warm and Catherine was surprised.
"I came here earlier." Vincent felt compelled to tell her.
"That sure were you?" she teased.
At first Vincent stared at her, the desire to flee great even now, but slowly he gave in and grinned with her. "I'd hoped." He told her.
"Well hope no more." She leaned in on him, the contact of his lips beneath hers almost reducing her to tears. Their eyes met before closing and savouring the feel of their mouths drawn together, as Catherine gently pushed Vincent back against the cushions, and with joy felt his hold tighten around her. His lips moved beneath hers, his kiss sweeter than she had ever imagined. She drowned in that kiss and Vincent floated languidly alongside her, his mouth on hers his only lifeline.
As their kiss deepened their hands sought out the other, stopping only briefly to extract a garment and fling it aside.
Catherine gasped when she felt the satiny smoothness of fur against her bare skin, his trailing claws bringing goosebumps to her flesh. She moaned deep inside, the moan erupting in a sensuous sound that was echoed quickly by his own as her fingers sought his hardness again.
"Catherine." His voice husked, "I want you."
Catherine thrilled to his words, her eyes wet with tears, "then take me my darling." She begged, "for I am yours from the beginning of time."
A sob caught and spilled from Vincent's throat, a soft growl followed as he shifted his position with an instinct born of dreams and positioned himself above her, the sweetness of her calling evident in her eyes.
The feeling was endless. As he sunk himself into her warmth he had never known such rapture, such exquisite bliss, and Catherine's arms clutched at him wildly, her legs holding him fast pinioned to his hips. Vincent thrust himself home, his mind reeling, his love for her increasing, growing with every delicious second. This felt so right. All his fears galloped away, he knew nothing but the perfect bliss of their joining.
"Are you happy my love." He husked into her ear.
"I'm so happy I could burst." Catherine whispered tenderly, "And you my dearest love?"
Vincent smiled unable to resist, "I'm so happy I will burst." He told her as his seed exploded inside her.
Catherine chuckled with glee, holding him tight, "And I'm right where I have always wanted to be Vincent."
"And where is that my Catherine." He rested his head on her shoulder, he felt so weak all of a sudden, but his hardness remained buried deep within her.
"Between a rock and a hard place." Her answer stunned him. He drew back searching her eyes. She was grinning at him.
"I wouldn't have taken you for being crude Catherine." He seemed put out.
Catherine's face fell, "What do you mean?"
"That expression Catherine I hardly think " he was unable to finish, and slowly Catherine started to laugh.
"Oh Vincent really!"
He looked at her and as a somewhat sheepish expression crossed his features, Catherine gave in to her earlier need of smoothing the furrows from his brow, bestowing gentle kisses on his face, "Whatever did you think I meant?" she teased him, making him blush scarlet.
"What did you mean?" he refused to say.
"That I'm exactly where I want to be Vincent. The world above is a hard place, the rocks are below me, and I dear lover am exactly where I want to be, that is in-between with you, in exactly the way I have always dreamed. Why what did you think I meant?"
Vincent grinned, revealing his fangs, something he rarely did, yet so many firsts had happened this day that Catherine hardly noticed.. She teased him some more, "Vincent! And you call me crude Really how could you think I meant that!"
He grinned all the more, "Forgive me Catherine."
"I'll forgive you anything Vincent, but one thing."
His eyes questioned her warily.
Catherine smiled, "Why did you make me wait so long? Didn't you know how badly I wanted this between us?"
Vincent shook his head still a little dazed that they had actually come this far.
"Then perhaps you had better make up for lost time Vincent, and maybe I will forgive you eventually." Laughter bubbled with her words.
"It might take some time my love, and I really don't mind if you never forgive me."
Catherine laughed out loud by his boldness, "Just so long as you keep trying to attain it Vincent that's all that matters from now."
Vincent answered with a deep and passionate kiss, and Catherine felt him harden anew to begin a lazy rocking motion against her.
Moaning with Catherine delighted in arching herself against him, hardly feeling the biting rocks that penetrated the cushions beneath her.
And from somewhere deep in the recesses of her mind she smiled and as she felt him hot and hard within her, her heart sang. And she laughed within as she thought that perhaps Vincent was right to presume too much from what she had said before, for yes she was exactly where she had always wanted to be with him. For a certainty there was no better place that she'd rather be at that moment than right 'between a rock and a hard place' after all!