Before Vincent opened the panel into Peter’s home, he tapped lightly on it. There was no response. Quietly he opened it and moved into the study. Only a dim lamp burned over the desk. Vincent’s eyes went upward. She was upstairs. Quickly he went. Once on the second floor, he noticed a door only partially closed at the head of the stairs. Carefully peeking in, he saw Susan asleep. He passed by and continued until he got to the closed door.
“Catherine?” he whispered. Nothing. He turned the doorknob and let it swing open. His breath was taken away as he glanced around the room. She had left the desk lamp on and he saw the furnishings and had the same reaction she had. Then he saw her. Curled into a fetal position on the far side of the bed. He heard a sound and stopped. Then he closed the door and moved to the bed. The sound was a little stronger. He saw her body shake. She was crying. He untied the cloak from around his neck and let it fall to the floor. Carefully he eased up on to the bed and put his arms around her. “Ssh,” he soothed her. “It’s all right. I’m here.” Her arms went around him as she snuggled into his warmth. Even in sleep she felt safe and protected.
Vincent closed his eyes at the sensations raining through him. Love, anguish, passion, desire, and the knowledge that he could not have what he wished for most in his life. Her. She could never be his. Not the way she wanted to be. There would never – could never – be any intimacy between them. The Bond was as intimate as they could become. No matter what she wanted. No matter what his dreams told him.
“It will be all right, Catherine,” he whispered to her. She didn’t wake and remained curled next to him for the remainder of the night. At one point, Vincent felt himself slipping into slumber. He held Catherine’s head that was in the crook of his arm and moved his limb from under her. He gently eased himself out of the bed and went to the window. The first streaks of dawn were lighting the sky. Under any other circumstances, he would be gathering his cloak around him to return to the tunnels. He took a look back at the woman he loved still sleeping and knew that he couldn’t leave until she woke. Until they talked. And until he told her that it must end.
He studied the sky. The colors were more beautiful than he’d ever dreamed. Rose, violet, and golden hues all blended together in the cerulean sky. Vincent could only imagine what Catherine’s hair would look like in the dawn. He reached into his memory for the one time they sat at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge after Halloween and together watched the sunrise. He had wished that moment could last forever. He and Catherine in the dawn – happy and together.
Turning back toward the bed, his heart was heavy with regret. The regret he had that he was not like other men. The regret that what he was about to do would cause Catherine immeasurable pain. Pain that would lessen as time wore on. For her – never for him. When she’d entered his life, he knew that if he would ever have what normal men had – she would be the one to share a life with him. Only her. And now the dream must end. A movement from the bed drew his attention.
Her eyes fluttered open.
She was still dreaming – she had to be. Vincent had never entered her apartment – let alone her room. But this wasn’t her room. Disoriented, she looked around. It was Peter’s house. She had arrived yesterday afternoon. Her sleep had been interrupted by painful images. Yet when she blinked, he was still standing close to her. His eyes were filled with worry and something else. She reached through the Bond. For some reason, he had blocked his thoughts from her.
“Vincent? Why are you here?” Before he could respond, she sat upright, the covers falling to her waist. Not caring that the gown was very thin and she was more exposed than she ever had been in his sight, she continued. “I asked Peter not to alert you.”
“He didn’t.” The man tried to avert his eyes from the most desirable sight he’d ever seen. “I felt your sorrow. I had to make sure you were well.”
Catherine realized her half-dressed state and grabbed the blankets around her. “It’s daylight, Vincent. Don’t you need to return Below.”
“We must talk, Catherine.”
As much as she delighted in his presence, she also knew that until she made peace within herself, there wasn’t anything she could possibly say to him. Her eyes filled with tears as she thought about pushing him away.
His voice broke her concentration. “Your heart and mind are warring with each other. I have felt your growing care for me, Catherine. As much as I rejoice in the knowledge that you – with all the beauty you possess – that you feel for me in that way, I also am heartsick.”
“To know that because you love causes you such pain is too much for me to bear. You have a life, a full life, Above with your career and your friends. Someday you will want a home and children. A husband that will offer you the life that you deserve. I do not wish for that time to be so far in the future that you will ever regret our friendship and the secret that you’ve kept. You need to be free to fall in love. Free to live your life.”
“What are you saying?” Alarm bells went off within her and panic engulfed her. She felt her heart racing and knots form in her stomach.
“That this must end. We must go our separate ways. . .“
“No!” She cried. “What gives you the right to end it, Vincent? Don’t you even care what I want?”
“One of us needs to remain logical, Catherine. If we follow our hearts . . .“
“What, Vincent? If we follow our hearts, we might find that we belong together?”
“That can never be. I’ve known that my entire life.”
“Why should you be denied what any other man wants?”
“Because I am not like any other man, Catherine.” He turned away from her in order to finish. “I must go back Below. You must never follow me or inquire about me. Be happy, Catherine.” He kept his back to her as he gathered his cloak and left the room.
Catherine was so stunned that she could hardly breathe. Her eyes were wide in shock and her breathing was rapid. Tears fell from her emerald eyes. An unnatural cry came from her throat and she fell back on the pillows.
“Cathy?” Peter knocked on the door. Slowly he opened it.
She looked at her friend and cried harder. “He was here. He ended it.” She managed to say between sobs. “He told me not to go to him.”
“And what do you want?”
With his question came an understanding that was so clear to her. “I want to be with him. Always. Above – Below – it doesn’t matter. I love him.”
“Have you told him this?”
“Not in so many words.”
“Tell him, Cathy.” Peter went to her and embraced her in comfort. “Tell him exactly what you told me – don’t allow his fears to push you away.”
“Do you think you are the only one with any fears of the future? Vincent has never had such deep emotions running through him. Imagine what he is going through. And Jacob doesn’t make it any easier on him.”
“Father wants me to go away,” she stated. “He never has approved of our relationship.”
“He also has fears, Cathy. He’s frightened that he will lose Vincent. To you, to people who want to harm him, to his own mind.”
“What can I say, Peter? What words will make him understand?”
“Words, thoughts, actions and the Bond you share – those are the tools you have.”
“And if it’s not enough?”
“Have faith in the love that you feel for each other. Do you really think he wants it to end?”
“I don’t know,” she cried. “I don’t know anything anymore. I can’t be sure of . . .“
“You know how you feel,” Peter interrupted her. “Don’t you?” He patted her shoulder and then left the room. Just before he closed the door, he stopped. “Whatever you do, Cathy, there won’t be any questions.”
Alone with her thoughts and tears, Catherine sunk back into the bed pulling the covers over her head. She moved in and out of sleep through out the day. During her waking moments, she struggled for an answer. She wished with all her might that she could do what Peter had suggested but she just didn’t have the strength.
When she woke again the room was bathed in darkness. The lamp, still lit, cast long shadows against the walls. For a moment, Catherine saw Vincent’s silhouette. Her heart leaped with joy. “Vincent!” she called. Once more she was plunged into the abyss of pain as she realized it was only an aberration. And then sleep engulfed her.
All characters are the property of Ron Koslow, Republic Pictures, and CBS. No infringement is implied or intended. Story is purely for entertainment purposes only. "The Bond" copyright 2002 ® Wendy Littrell
"The Bond" copyright 2002 ® Wendy Littrell
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