A light mist was in the air as Catherine wandered home. She could smell freshly mowed grass and the green of the leaves and plants was vibrant. She knew that soon their colors would be changing. Autumn was approaching quickly. A time for change. She sighed audibly.
Changes in the environment. Changes in her life. She would have to figure out how to merge back into the world Above – a world she’d only been passing through since Vincent had entered her life. The only close relationships she had Above were with Nancy Tucker and Jenny Aronson along with her friendship with Joe. She saw her father only sporadically. She knew that if she had been able to tell him about Vincent they would be much closer. He wanted her to be happy and by all intense purposes from his point of view, she wasn’t.
Now that she and Vincent’s dream was gone, abandoned in favor of logic, maybe she could get that closeness with her father back. He would expect her to have an escort when they went to the opera, theater, or concert. She felt a deep pain as she imagined trying to sit through a piano recital or concert in the park without Vincent by her side. He had loved the music and they had found great joy in listening to it together.
Catherine knew that somehow she would have to be strong in order to get past the anguish inside of her. She had heard the cliché that ‘time heals all wounds’; yet she was uncertain that time could remedy her sorrow. Vincent would always be in her heart and in her mind. The Bond would continue throughout their lives intertwining them even apart. Could she ever be whole without him in her life? Would she ever find her way out of the abyss of aloneness?
Far below the city, deeper than the home tunnels, the man – in a moment of weakness – allowed the unsealing of the Bond. He felt suffering and desolation. He felt her messages of good-bye and roared out his grief. The dream – for that is what it could only have been – was gone. Lost to him forever. There would be no other that he would love as much as he loved Catherine. No other chance for him to lead a life that he’d only imagined.
Vincent decided to remain where he was for a little longer. Catherine was gone and she would not return. If he weren’t back in the home tunnels soon, Father would send Mouse to find him. He didn’t feel up to answering any questions or carrying on a light conversation with Mouse or anyone else.
After eating some of the fruit he had taken, Vincent gathered his things together and started back. It would be late by the time he arrived home. Father would be expecting him to go to the study. As he grew nearer, a knot formed in his stomach. The pain was still too new for him to be up for Father’s inquisition. Yet he knew that he couldn’t put it off forever.
Catherine sat on her balcony and watched as twilight covered the city like a blanket. The last rays of sunlight were shooting pinks, oranges and purples across the sky. She wished that she had someone to share the beauty with. No, not someone. Vincent. The tears hadn’t ceased but now they ran in rivulets down her cheeks. Her emerald eyes were bloodshot from crying. Even though a light chill was in the air, she didn’t move to get a sweater. She didn’t think she’d ever care what she wore again.
The ringing of the phone broke the quiet that she had plunged herself in. It startled her until she realized what it was. She rose and went inside to answer it.
“Cath, I didn’t catch you at a bad time did I?” It was her friend Nancy Tucker.
“Um, no.” Catherine wiped her eyes. “How are you, Nancy?”
“We were wondering if you decided when you are coming up?”
“I don’t know, Nanc.”
“Now, Cathy,” the other woman began. “Don’t tell me your slave driving boss has you tied with a chain to your desk! You have been really working hard. You need to get away for a weekend.”
Catherine realized the timing was perfect. Get away from the city, from memories of nights on the balcony with Vincent. “Nancy, would tomorrow be too soon?”
“That would be perfect!” her friend exclaimed. “Call and tell me what time you get in.”
“I’ll do that.”
After the conversation had ended, Catherine went to the closet and removed her overnight bag. She would only need a few items. She chose a couple of light sweaters and some blue jeans. Her toiletries and cosmetics would go in another case. Then she looked up the number to find out the train schedule.
Twenty minutes later she had decided to take the ten o’clock run the next morning. Cathy called Nancy back and gave her the information. The decision made, she felt a little better. If nothing else, she would be among good friends.
The night called out to her and she returned to the balcony. She had picked up the book of sonnets Vincent had given to her once and opened it to his inscription. As she read it and re-read it, the tears began again. Would she ever stop crying?
“Father,” Vincent said as he entered the study.
“There was no reason for me to stay away.” He removed his cloak and set it on one of the chairs. “Catherine is gone and she will not be back.”
“How do you know this?”
“I felt her go. I felt her good-bye.”
Father wasn’t sure what he should say to his son. “What you are feeling right now, it will pass. You will heal.”
“Perhaps,” Vincent offered. “But I will never be whole.”
“She would have caused you great pain.”
“I’m in great pain now!” Vincent exclaimed. “This is all my doing. If I had not told her it was over. If I only would have believed in our dream – in our love.” He hung his head so that his hair covered his face.
Jacob couldn’t allow Vincent to believe that Catherine wasn’t returning simply because of what he’d said to her. “Son, please sit down.” He waited until his son had sunk into a chair. “Catherine came Below.” The other man raised his head and studied his father. “She wanted to force you to believe in this dream you have.”
“But she’s not here any longer.”
“No,” Jacob continued. “I asked her to consider all of the risks and dangers that pursuing a relationship would cause you.” When there wasn’t any response, he went on. “I reminded her that someday men would discover enough evidence about you that they would hunt you down. Capture you. Cage you. Perhaps kill you.”
Vincent could feel the rage building as he listened to Father’s words. “I know what I am!” he shouted. “Or rather what I am not. Yet Catherine loves me despite my differences. There were times I believed that I wasn’t a monster when I was with her.”
“I speak only the truth, Vincent.” Both men were quiet for a few moments. “In time you will realize that.”
Cathy woke to the telephone. She checked the time – twenty minutes before her alarm was to go off. “Hello?” she answered.
“Did I wake you?”
“Daddy!” she greeted. “How are you?”
“Oh, I’m fine. I called the office yesterday and Joe said you took a few days off. Everything okay with you?”
“I just needed some time,” she replied. “I think the stress was beginning to take a toll.”
“Come to a concert with me and Kay tonight?”
“I wish I could, Daddy.”
“Do you have plans?”
“I’m going to catch the 10 a.m. train to Westport. Visit Nancy Tucker for a couple days.”
“Postpone it until tomorrow. We really would like you to be with us this evening. It’s a benefit raising money for the arts center.”
Cathy was heartsick. She knew that she needed to regain some closeness with her father – but sitting through a concert without Vincent beside of her made her heart ache.
“Are you still there?” he asked.
“Kay has been worried about you since we hardly see you anymore. Do your old man a favor and join us. Please, Cathy?”
How could she turn down such a plea? “Let me call Nancy and make other arrangements.”
“Fine.” He went on to tell her where to meet him that evening before they said their respective good-byes.
As she hung up the phone, she had a feeling of anxiety. A concert in the park – one of the last ones before the season changed. Would Vincent be close by? Listening to the music from their special place under the grating? Would he feel the same sorrow that she would?
“I have to face facts,” she muttered to herself. “If I’m going to live in this world, I need to move forward with my life. And if that means doing things that remind me of him, I need to start doing it.”
She spent the next twenty minutes apologizing to Nancy and getting the schedule for the next day’s trains. She left her bags packed. There wasn’t anything in them she absolutely needed for the day that was before her.
As she finished brewing a pot of coffee, the phone rang again. It was Joe. He tried to sound bullish but she knew he really cared about her well being. After she had assured him that she was doing all right, he did some complaining about how far behind the office was. She laughed and thanked him for calling.
No sooner had she replaced the phone receiver in its cradle when it rang again. “Hello?”
“Cathy, this is Peter.” The doctor greeted. “I wanted to make sure that everything went well for you.” When there was silence from her end, he continued, “Since I found you at home, I take it things didn’t go as planned with Vincent.”
“Peter, you are such a good friend. Both to me and to the community Below. I’ve realized that Vincent was right. We have to go our separate ways. It’s really for the best.”
“Are you sure that’s what you want?” he asked.
No, of course not, her mind screamed. “It’s the way it must be. And I would appreciate it if you didn’t tell Vincent or Father anything of what I do or how I am. All that would do is make it worse.”
“Cathy, I will do what you ask. As your doctor, though, I think I really need to make sure you are okay.”
“I’m fine, Peter. I’m meeting Daddy and Kay for a benefit concert this evening and tomorrow I’m going to Westport to visit my friend, Nancy.”
“All right,” he responded. “But if you need me . . . “
“I’ll call you,” she said. “Thanks for calling.”
Later she knew that she needed to start cleansing herself of any remnants of the dream. Beginning with Vincent’s letters, notes and gifts to her. As she opened the box that held the treasures, she again started crying. She carefully read each word he’d written trying to read between the lines. Looking for what was in his heart as he wrote such prose to her. Catherine knew that the only way to know Vincent’s heart was to open herself up to the Bond. She would be able to feel what he was feeling but in so doing, he would be able to know her heart. That is what stopped her – she couldn’t allow him to know of the deep ache she had. If his grief was anything like hers, she didn’t want him pained any deeper. Yet she had to know that he was well.
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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