With Catherine in better spirits, Joe had taken her to another restaurant for dinner the evening after she had been reunited with Jacob Wells. He saw how her eyes danced with the hope that soon she would see Vincent again.
“Perhaps you’d care to see the dessert menu?” The waiter held out a small booklet for Joe to take.
“I think I’m pretty full,” he replied.
“I insist.” The man thrust the menu into Joe’s hands. “Our specialty is on page 5.”
Something in the waiter’s eyes made the attorney pause. He turned to page 5 and realized a short note had been placed among the pages.
Same place as this morning. Ten o’clock.
“The special looks very inviting,” Joe told the waiter. “I’ll be sure to give it some thought.”
“Very well, sir.” He moved away from the table after leaving their check.
A little while later, Joe escorted Cathy from the restaurant to a waiting taxi. Just before he got into the vehicle, Joe looked around. No one was out of place. Yet someone had known he was there.
“Okay. What is it?” Joe had entered the tunnel quietly. “Cathy’s pretty restless tonight and couldn’t understand why I had to leave again.” There was no answer. “Are you still playing games with me?”
The voice that spoke was not the same one as earlier. A much older man. “It’s me, Jacob Wells, Mr. Maxwell.”
“What do you want? How many people are down here? And where’s Vincent?”
“None of that matters.” Father took several steps toward the attorney.
Joe also took a step toward the man that had brought a smile to Cathy’s face. “Once when she didn’t know I was there, she was reading a book. She looked out the window and said ‘I understand what you’ve always felt’. Guess she was talking about Vincent.”
“Yes,” Father responded. “You and I will work together to bring Vincent and Catherine back to one another.”
“Your son doesn’t want any part of that. He made that perfectly clear this morning.”
“Sometimes my son can be very stubborn. They both can be that way. I have watched my son grieve. At times it overwhelms him.”
“Cathy’s in so much pain,” Joe told him. “I don’t know what was worse – being kept in hiding and away from the world or being so close to Vincent and not being with him.”
“And her reason for not seeking him out?” Father asked. “Has she told you this?”
“She tried. The night she ran out to the cemetery. I think if I hadn’t gone outside when she’d come back that she would have taken off to find him.”
“And tonight? Do you know for sure that she won’t come Below?”
“I don’t know anything,” Joe answered. “She still seems very fragile right now.”
“Then we must work quickly.” Father took a few steps forward. “Now this is what we must do . . .”
Joe was quiet as he shut the door behind him. Would the plan work? Would Vincent take her back? Take her into his world? The attorney sighed. And what of his Father? He seemed to get the impression that the older man had many reservations about Cathy entering his son’s life again. None that he voiced but lying just below the surface. Something else was there – unspoken. As if there was more than just Vincent to consider. He remembered the older man’s reply when Joe asked if he would ever get to meet Vincent “face to face.”
“That I’m afraid could never be,” had been the answer he received.
“Why?” Joe whispered. “What is the big secret? Is he a fugitive? A wanted man? Someone else who cast away a previous life?” He wondered if Cathy even knew everything there was to know about this man she loved so much. Would he be setting her up for heartbreak all over again? What if the plan worked but Vincent still wouldn’t take her back? What type of set back would she experience? Joe wasn’t sure he could stand to see her in even more pain than she was in now.
“Hello?” His reverie was broken by Cathy’s voice from the doorway. She’d looked freshly bathed. “Are you here or somewhere else?”
“You sound better.” Joe ignored his friend’s question. Yet, she still seemed so alone.
“So where’d you go?”
“Had a friend I needed to see.”
“At this time of night? What is he? A vampire?” She laughed.
Joe raised his eyebrows. “Why would you say that?”
“Oh, come on, Joe!” she chuckled. “Lighten up!”
She woke to the moon shining in through the window. Joe was asleep in the chair beside of her. How long had she slept. And dreamed. She dreamed of the Chamber of the Falls. Felt the mist of the water. Had looked around her and realized she was alone. She thought she’d heard Vincent calling her name. That’s what had awakened her. Trying not to wake Joe, she rose and went to the window. There was no cloaked figure on the other side. Not like there had been many times on her balcony years earlier. No Vincent to soothe away the troubling thoughts. She sighed and pulled her robe tightly around her. She didn’t know how long she remained staring out into the night.
Joe found her still looking out the window when he woke as the sun poured into the room. Dark circles shadowed her green eyes. Dried tears stained her cheeks. He saw her trembling. How long could she stand this agony she was in?
“I’m starving!” He stretched as he stood from the chair. She turned to him and a smile formed. A small one. He could tell it was forced.
“Then you better find a restaurant,” she told him. “I’m horrible in the kitchen.”
“I know a great hole in the wall,” he said. “Just around the corner.”
She searched her thoughts. She didn’t remember anything close by. Maybe it was new. “I’m really not hungry, Joe.”
“You’re coming with me!” He told her. “No excuses!” He walked to the stairs as she stared after him.
“This is an abandoned building, Joe,” Cathy said. “It’s been vacant since before I left.”
“You only think that,” Joe responded as he pushed open the door. It was dark inside with only a few slivers of sunlight filtering through the painted windows. He felt his way over to the door he’d been told would be there.
“Where are we going?” An uneasy feeling took hold of her. “Joe, I don’t like this. Where are we going?”
Joe moved the door out of the way. He could barely make out the opening. “Careful,” he told her as he guided her into the small opening. Before she could respond she knew where she was. Why would Joe have brought her here?
She set her foot down on the tunnel ground as she finished her descent. Joe was still behind her. All was in darkness. What part of the tunnels had they come to? How far away from his chamber?
“Joe, I don’t understand. Where are we?”
“You know where we are, Cathy,” he answered. Then he was guiding her forward. She heard him counting – his steps maybe? Just when she thought it couldn’t get any darker, she saw light ahead. And then a voice. It was Father. She ran to him and embraced him.
She cried with happiness as she held onto him. Then she looked around. He wasn’t there. She’d hoped.
“He doesn’t know, does he?” she asked Father.
“Walk with me, my dear,” he told her. She realized Joe had left. “There are many things we need to talk on.”
“He’s well. He’s beautiful.”
“And his name?”
“After you,” she whispered.
“Where is Vincent, Father?”
“I have sent him to another area while we talk.”
“You don’t want us to be together again, do you?” Cathy stopped walking and turned to him. “The other night wasn’t the truth was it? Not how you really feel. My death must have been a relief for you. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about Vincent taking risks with the safety of those who live down here. How angry were you, when you heard that I was really alive?”
Father sighed audibly. “We’ve always had a tenuous relationship, have we not, my dear? I know what your ‘death’ did to my son. I know how he’s grieved. I can no longer think of any reason why you two should not be together. You are part of each other. Without the other, you are only two halves of one whole.”
His words astounded her and she began to cry. “Then where is he? Why isn’t he here?”
“My son is very stubborn,” Father replied. “Even now, he is torn between the life he wishes to give you – to share with you and your son and the knowledge that within this long time apart, you have grown away from him. That you need the type of life you once gave up for the secret you shared.”
“How can he think that? How can he still believe it would be better?”
“He’s never understood how one as beautiful as you could love someone like him.”
“It doesn’t matter why I love him – only that I love. And he’s not so different from anyone else. He’s beautiful as well. I’ve often wondered how someone as tranquil and gentle as he could love someone like me.”
“You have seen more than I could, I’m ashamed to admit,” Father told her. “I’ve had to deal with the fact that it’s been I all these years who has made such an impression on my son that he would feel so unworthy. Yet, you are correct. He is worthy – of love, of dreams such as anyone else would have, of you.”
“And you are taking me to him?”
“No,” Father stated. “I am taking you to your son. Vincent will not be back until tomorrow.”
Cathy decided not to ask any more questions. She would soon hold her child – the child that she had risked everything to keep safe.
“He knows I’m alive.”
“He’s felt you all around him,” Father answered. “He shares a bond with you. The same as Vincent. Only different.”
“I’m scared, Father.” He felt her tremble.
Then she was entering the chamber that she never thought to see again. Vincent’s. There sitting in the large chair was a golden-haired child. His eyes danced with love as he saw her.
“Mother!” he ran into her arms. “Mother!” Both of them cried tears of joy as they held on to one another. Soon both were talking at once – asking so many questions of the other.
“I never meant to be away from you,” she told him much later after they’d taken their afternoon meal in the chamber.
“Father said that you went away so we both would be safe. They wanted to hurt him, didn’t they?”
“Yes,” Cathy replied. “They wanted to hurt both of you.”
“They took me,” Jacob told her. “Father spent days & weeks looking for me.”
“That long?” This was a possibility she’d never allowed herself to think of. To know that her child had been kept from those who loved him for so long. “Who had you?”
“Father won’t speak his name.” With that sentence Cathy knew it had been Gabriel. Evil incarnate. The man who had kept her away from Vincent during her pregnancy. The man who everyone had thought caused her death. “But he found me. He & the detective lady.”
“Detective lady?” she asked.
“She worked with the police Above,” her son told her.
“And she knows your father?”
“The used to be friends.” Catherine realized he was talking about Diana Bennett. Friends with Vincent?
This news troubled Cathy. Could this be the reason that Vincent wanted them to remain apart? Could he have developed feelings for this woman? After all ten years had passed. How could she even hope that he would remain faithful to her – especially when he thought she was dead?
“And they are . . . close friends?”
“She used to come when I was little,” Jacob answered. Then he snuggled into his mother’s arms again. “But she’s not you and she moved away a long time ago.” The child changed the subject. “Would you read to me?” He handed his mother a book.
“Great Expectations!” she exclaimed. “This was the book . . . “
“That Father read to you when he was taking care of you,” Jacob interrupted.
“You know about that?”
“I love that story, Mother! I ask him to tell it to me always!” Both of them laughed softly. “It starts like this – ‘once upon a time in the city of New York there was a beautiful woman . . . ‘ That’s you, Mother!”
“And you’re not frightened of me?”
“Why should I be? You’re my mother?”
“But I’ve been away from you for so long. Surely you don’t meet many strangers.”
“You could never be a stranger,” he told her as he opened the book expecting her to begin.
Another of Dickens’ story beginnings came back to her – “A Tale of Two Cities.” It began “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” Truer words there couldn’t be. She was living in the best of times with her ten-year-old son sitting next to her in the large chair. And it was the worst of times knowing that Vincent didn’t want her in his life. Too separate and different emotions. Then she began the story before her.
“We’ll take the next chapter another time.” She closed the book and set it on the table. Something was missing from the room. “The painting,” she whispered.
“Father moved it,” Jacob told her. “He found me staring at it and crying one day. So he thought it would be better if I didn’t have to see it all the time.”
She wondered if it was also because he didn’t want to see it all the time as well. “Where did he put it?”
“I don’t know. He took it and left and didn’t return for a day.” Jacob embraced her. “You will stay here won’t you?”
“I . . .I don’t know. I think it would be better . . . for your father . . . if I wasn’t here when he returned.”
“But you want to see him, don’t you?”
“More than anything.”
“He is still sad, Mother,” Jacob whispered to her. She caressed his cheek as he laid his head on her shoulder. “Will you stay with me until I’m asleep?”
“Of course,” she said. It was the first time she was able to help her child prepare for sleep. Her heart filled with love for him. As she watched his eyes close, she wished more than anything that Vincent could be right beside of her. That they would watch their son together. She saw so much of him in Jacob. His jawline, the shape of his eyes, the color of his hair.
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. "Courage and Care" copyright 2002 ® Wendy Littrell
"Courage and Care" copyright 2002 ® Wendy Littrell
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