By Dawn Yzaguirre
When they reached Vincent’s chamber he carried Catherine inside and put her on her feet. “I’ll be right back.” He whispered in her ear.
Catherine smiled. “I’ll be waiting.” Vincent moved away from her and hurried out of the chamber carrying a lantern.
Once he was gone Catherine looked over at the bed. She smiled as she unzipped her dress and let it fall to the chamber floor. After removing the remainder of her clothing she walked over and slid under the cool sheets to wait for her love.
A moment later Vincent reentered the chamber. Catherine looked up at him and smiled. “I thought I would get more comfortable.”
Vincent walked to the bed. He reached out and ran his hand over her cheek. “You are so beautiful.”
Catherine turned her head and kissed his palm. “So are you.” She patted the area of the bed beside her. “Join me?” Vincent moved back and started to remove his clothing. Catherine turned slightly and watched him. She noticed that he was looking directly into her eyes. She knew that he was searching for any sign of repulsion. “Don’t be afraid my love.” She whispered.
Vincent finished removing his clothing then slid into the bed beside her. He reached out and pulled her down beside him. “I love being here with you.” Catherine leaned down and kissed him. “So do I.” Soon they were lost in their passion for one another. The boundaries that once existed between them were quickly demolished.
Early the next morning Catherine opened her eyes and turned moaning softly. “Good morning, my love.” Came a beautiful deep voice beside her.
Her eyes snapped open and she smiled. “I thought last night was a wonderful dream.”
Vincent pulled her close. “No, it happened.”
Catherine sighed and snuggled into his arms. “I was afraid that it wouldn’t.”
Vincent kissed her forehead. “I knew it would when we were both ready.”
After a moment of silence Vincent released her and sat up. Catherine propped herself up on her elbow and watched as he stood and moved across the chamber to his bureau. “What are you looking for?”
He turned a moment and looked at her again. “I have something for you.” Catherine continued to watch as he searched through the bureau littering the floor around his feet with clothes and other personal items.
She couldn’t hold back the giggle that escaped her throat. “Father, would be very upset if he saw the mess you’re making.”
Vincent looked at her once again over his shoulder. “Well, then I suppose it’s a good thing that he isn’t here right now.”
Catherine giggled once again and lay back down on the bed. She hadn’t felt this wonderful or even this free since coming home again. She loved being with Vincent and their son, but the distance that existed between her and Vincent, until last night, had worried her. She’d been truly afraid that they’d never get past it.
A moment later she heard a triumphant grunt. Sitting up once again she watched as Vincent came back and climbed back in bed beside her. She turned slightly and smiled at him. “So what do you have for me?”
Vincent chuckled. “Don’t be impatient.” He handed her the small black velvet box.
Catherine’s hand shook as she took it from him. She looked at it for a moment then looked up at Vincent again. “What’s this?”
Vincent took the box from her again and opened it. Catherine’s eyes widened as he pulled out the most beautiful diamond and ruby ring that she had ever seen.
Vincent put the box down in his lap and turned to her. “This ring belonged to Margaret.”
Catherine smiled tenderly. “It’s beautiful.”
Vincent reached out and caught her left hand in his. “Father has good taste when it comes to engagement rings don’t you think?”
Catherine’s eyes misted over as Vincent slipped the ring on her third finger. She looked up at him again expectantly. “Vincent, why are you giving me the ring?”
He lifted her hand and tenderly kissed it. “Catherine, this should have happened 13 years ago but outside forces prevented it from happening back then.”
Catherine looked down a moment. When she had calmed herself again she looked up into Vincent’s eyes again. “Don’t dwell on the past.”
He grinned as their eyes met again. “Catherine, will you do me the great honor of agreeing to be my wife?”
Catherine swallowed the lump in her throat and looked down at the ring on her finger.
Vincent’s heart sunk thinking that he had made a mistake. “Am I rushing things?”
He was surprised when she laughed and threw herself into his arms. “Rushing things?”
She moved back and looked into his eyes. “There’s no way you could be rushing things after 13 years.”
Vincent let out the breath he had been holding. “So, will you marry me?”
Catherine gasped realizing that she hadn’t answered him. “Oh Vincent! Yes my love, yes I’ll marry you!”
Vincent pulled her to him again and whispered in her ear. “Thank you for making my dreams come true.” With that they came together in the sweetest kiss that they had ever shared.
Later that morning at breakfast they joined Jacob, Mary and Father. “So Mom did you and Dad like the concert?”
Catherine looked at her son and smiled. “Yes, honey it was wonderful.”
Vincent squeezed her hand and agreed. “Yes last night was wonderful.” His words were not lost on either Mary or Father, who smiled at one another.
Catherine leaned over and whispered in Vincent’s ear. “When should we tell Jacob?”
Vincent looked over at their son, who was in a conversation with his Grandfather. “We can tell him after breakfast.”
Catherine moved back. “So what do you have planned for today, honey?”
Jacob looked at her once again. “Thomas and I are going exploring after our classes this afternoon.”
Vincent chuckled. “Just like your Uncle Devin and I used to do.”
Father shook his head. “I remember those times all too well.”
Jacob smiled. “Do I cause you and Mom the same type of worry?”
Vincent thought a moment. “Yes, at times you do.”
Catherine touched Jacob’s hand. “Before you go to your classes your father and I need to talk to you.”
Jacob rose and picked up his plate. “Okay, I’ll go get my books and meet you in a few minutes.”
Vincent and Catherine also rose. Vincent looked at the boy again. “Meet us in my chamber.”
Jacob acquiesced and moved away from them.
Just before Catherine and Vincent walked away from the table Father spoke, “Is there something that you and Catherine would like to tell us?”
Vincent looked back at him and shook his head. “Not right now we need to talk to Jacob first.”
Father chuckled. “Oh all right, but don’t keep us waiting if it’s good news.”
Vincent and Catherine looked at one another with secretive smiles on their faces then walked away from the table.
A few minutes later, Vincent and Catherine entered his chamber a little while later and were surprised to find Jacob already waiting. “You must’ve run.”
Jacob looked up from his book. “I thought it might be important.”
Catherine and Vincent heard the apprehension in his voice. “Honey, come sit on the bed with us.”
Jacob closed the book and put it on his father’s writing table then he rose and moved to the bed. “Jacob, your mother and I made some very important decisions last night that we think you need to know.”
Jacob looked down and shook his head. “We aren’t going to be a family are we?”
Catherine looked back at Vincent with a horrified look on her face. Moving closer she gathered him in her arms. “Jacob, baby just listen to us for a minute.”
Jacob pulled back and wiped the tears from his face. “You don’t have to explain.”
He looked at Catherine again. “You aren’t leaving us again are you?”
Catherine took his face in her hands and looked into his eyes. “No! Jacob, I would never ever leave you or your Dad.” He closed his eyes as he felt more tears welling up.
Vincent moved off the bed and knelt in front of his and Catherine’s beloved son. “Jacob, we are going to be a family.”
Catherine released his face and took his hands in hers. “Baby, last night your Dad and I talked about everything that had been left unsaid between us.”
Jacob shook his head. “I don’t understand.”
Vincent looked at Catherine, who smiled and nodded for him to explain. “Jacob, your mother and I are going to be married.”
For a moment none of them said anything. Jacob stared at them for what seemed like an eternity before a wide smile broke out on his face. “You’re getting married?”
Catherine laughed and pulled him to her again. “Yes, honey we’re getting married.”
Vincent leaned forward and pulled both of them into his arms. “I would never have let your mother leave us.”
Jacob lifted his head from Vincent’s shoulder. “I got so scared.”
Vincent kissed his forehead. “I know son, and we’re very sorry for that.”
At that moment a message came over the pipes signaling that Jacob’s class was about to start. Vincent released him and Catherine and stood. “You better get going or Mary will be upset with you.”
Jacob rose and collected his books. “How am I supposed to concentrate now?”
Catherine rose and put her arms around Vincent. “Give it your best shot.”
Jacob shook his head. “I’ll try.”
Just as he was about to leave the chamber, Vincent spoke once again. “Don’t tell anyone.”
Jacob looked back at them. “Why not?”
Catherine answered. “We’re announcing it tonight at the community meeting.”
Jacob sighed. “Okay it’s going to be hard but I won’t say anything.” He turned and ran from the chamber.
Catherine tightened her arms around Vincent’s waist once they were alone. “It broke my heart when he asked me if I were leaving you again.”
Vincent put his arms around her and held her as tight as he could. “I know, it did the same for me.”
At that moment a message came over the pipes for Vincent. He cocked his head and listened. “My literature class is on the way.”
Catherine sighed and released him. “I’m going to the falls.”
Vincent looked at her as she moved away from him. “Are you all right?”
She turned and smiled at him then shrugged her shoulders. “Yes love I’m fine. I just don’t have anything to do.”
Vincent could hear the sadness in her voice. “How about you stay and help me with my class?”
Catherine moved back to his side. “Really?”
Vincent pulled her to him again. “Yes, really. I don’t want to be too far away from you anyway.”
Catherine wrapped her arms around his neck. “And I can’t be too far away from you.”
She leaned up on her tiptoes and was just about to kiss him when little Cathy burst into the chamber. “Aunt Cathy!”
Catherine chuckled softly then released Vincent and turned to the girl. “Hi Sweetie.”
The blonde haired girl giggled. “You and Vincent were going to kiss?”
Catherine blushed as Vincent took the child into his arms. “Yes, I was going to kiss Aunt Catherine.” But instead he kissed little Cathy on the cheek.
Catherine stuck out her lip in a pout. “Hey, what about me?”
Vincent looked at the child in his arms. “What do you think?”
The little girl looked at Catherine again. “You better kiss her or she might start to cry.”
Vincent shook his head. “Oh no, I don’t want that to happen.” With that he leaned over and kissed Catherine lovingly on the lips.
As they parted the other children came into the chamber. Catherine immediately noticed that the class had some of the preteen kids along with the younger children. She looked at Vincent. “Would it be easier if I took the younger children and taught them for you?”
Vincent thought a moment. “I think that’s a wonderful idea in fact I’ll talk to Father after the class is over and see if we can make it a permanent arrangement.”
Catherine beamed. “Oh, I would love that.”
Vincent looked at little Cathy. “Would you like to have Aunt Catherine as your teacher?” The little girl nodded vigorously. Vincent chuckled and handed the girl over to Catherine once again. “Well, it looks as if the decision has been made.” He turned and looked at the other children. “Okay I want all the younger children to go with Catherine she’s going to teach you your lesson.” They all rose and headed for the tunnel entrance.
Vincent grabbed the lesson sheet and the books from his table. “Here’s what I am teaching them, you can make your own once you officially take over.”
Catherine looked at the page in her hand. “Okay I’ll meet you here after the class is over.”
She leaned up and kissed his cheek and whispered in his ear. “Thank you for this I love you.” Vincent gave her one of his rare small smiles as he watched her lead the children from the chamber.
Once they were gone he turned his attention to the older children sitting around his bed.
An hour later they entered Father’s chamber and found him there with Mary. The older couple looked up. Father poured them both some tea as they sat down then spoke. “I heard that Catherine taught the younger children today.”
Vincent took a sip of his tea and put the cup down again. “Yes, she saw how large the group was and offered.”
Catherine took Vincent’s hand and squeezed it lovingly. “I really enjoyed myself.”
Father thought a moment then smiled. “How would you like to teach them from now on?”
Vincent chuckled. “That’s what we were coming to talk to you about.”
Mary sat down beside Catherine once again. “I for one think it’s a wonderful idea Catherine is a natural.”
Vincent looked at the older woman. “Yes she is.”
They spent the next while working out the details for the teaching change. Catherine looked at the list of her new students. “Will it be all right with the parents?”
Vincent squeezed her hand. “Catherine, they won’t mind at all they all know you.”
She looked at him again. “Some know me from before, but most just met me after I came back.”
Father shook his head. “Catherine, Vincent’s right they won’t mind at all we’ll vote on it tonight at the meeting.”
Vincent rose and extended his hand to Catherine. “We have an announcement that we want to make tonight also.”
Mary and Father looked at each other. Father chuckled. “Do we get to hear it now?”
Catherine shook her head. “Sorry, but we want to tell everyone tonight.”
Mary looked at her. “Even Jacob?”
Vincent shook his head. “No, he knows already we talked to him after breakfast.”
Father chuckled and rubbed his hands together.
Catherine noticed and pointed at him. “And don’t you even think of trying to get him to say anything during his chess lesson.”
Father looked up at her with an innocent look on his face. “Why Catherine dear, would I do such a thing?”
Catherine giggled and moved over to embrace him. “Yes, you would.”
Vincent and Mary watched the exchange happily both marveling at how close Father and Catherine had become since the first year that she and Vincent had known each other.
Catherine released Father and moved back to Vincent’s side. “We’ll see you both later.”
Father looked at Vincent. “Go ahead and have some fun I’ll work on getting everything ready for Catherine to begin her class tomorrow.” Vincent and Catherine said a final goodbye to Father and Mary and left the chamber.
Once they were out in the tunnel a few feet away from the chamber entrance Vincent stopped walking. Catherine looked up at him and was about to ask if something was wrong when he turned and suddenly swung her up into his arms. Catherine gasped and giggled at his actions. “Vincent, what are you doing?”
He chuckled and kissed her lips for a moment. “Since Jacob is exploring with Thomas and the others and he has a chess lesson with Father after they return I’m stealing you away.”
Catherine sighed and laid her head against his shoulder. “And where exactly are you stealing me away too?”
Vincent thought a moment. “How about we go to our secret chamber beyond the waterfall?”
Catherine raised her head from his shoulder for a moment. “Oh yes Vincent, I haven’t been there in so long.”
Vincent kissed her forehead as she laid her head back on his shoulder. “Neither have I.”
Catherine lifted her head once again. “When was the last time you were there?”
Vincent sighed and shook his head. “Not since the last time you and I went together.”
Reaching up Catherine caressed his cheek. “Why not?”
Vincent closed his eyes for a moment. “I couldn’t it’s our place and it became too painful to even think about going there without you.”
Catherine laid her head on his shoulder again and wrapped her arms tighter around his neck as she quietly cried. “We’ve lost so much time together.”
Vincent knew that they needed somewhere to be alone so that no one asked what was wrong. He looked around for a moment until he saw one of the empty guest chambers. He kissed Catherine on the head and lifted her higher in his arms. “We’ll be alone in a moment, my angel.” With that he walked the short distance to the guest Chamber. Entering the dark room he put Catherine gently down on the bed. She sat up and quietly watched as Vincent moved to the nearby dressing table and lit a single candle.
Once that was done Vincent looked up and caught Catherine’s eye again. He silently moved back to the bed. Catherine held out her arms just as Jacob would do when he was a small child and had woken from a bad dream. “Vincent, please hold me.” He swiftly reached up and released the tie on his cloak letting it fall unnoticed to the chamber floor. Sitting down on the bed he reached out and pulled Catherine onto his lap wrapping his arms tightly around her. “Shh my Rose, everything is all right I’m here and I’ve got you.”
Catherine instinctively tightened her arms around his neck. Vincent closed his eyes tightly as he felt her small body shaking violently. “No one’s going to ever harm us again Catherine that I promise.”
Lifting her head Catherine looked into Vincent’s misty eyes. “I love you so much.”
Vincent tightened his arms around her even more. “And I love you more than life.” With that Catherine laid her head once again against Vincent’s shoulder and wept.
At that moment, Mary was walking by the chamber. She instinctively stopped when she heard the sound of someone crying. Looking toward the dimly lit chamber she moved closer. Stepping into the entrance of the chamber she saw Vincent sitting on the bed holding a distraught Catherine protectively in his arms whispering words of love as he rocked her. Mary’s heart broke for this wonderful couple that she loved as if they were her own children. Moving quietly to the bed she slowly reached out and laid a comforting hand on Vincent’s shoulder. “Are the two of you all right?”
Vincent looked up at her. “Yes, Mary we just need time alone right now.”
The older woman immediately understood and smiled. “ Well in that case I will leave you alone just take care of one another.” With that she turned and hurried out of the chamber.
After a few minutes Catherine sat up and wiped the tears from her face. “I don’t understand why that happened.”
Vincent squeezed her gently. “I think you do.”
Catherine looked down and sighed. “Will the anger or the hurt ever pass?”
Vincent sighed and shook his head. “Probably not completely but it will get easier to deal with in time.”
Catherine rose from his lap and started to pace in front of him. “I know Gabriel is dead and can’t hurt us anymore but I can’t help but still feel scared of him.”
Vincent rose and pulled her into his arms again. “I know that feeling Catherine.”
She lifted her head from his chest. “You?”
He chuckled. “Yes, even I was afraid of him.”
Catherine shook her head. “I never thought I would hear you say that you were afraid of anyone.”
Vincent moved back to the bed and once again sat down. He opened his arms to Catherine and she sat back down on his lap. “I’ve never been afraid of someone as much as I was Gabriel.” His arms tightened even more around her as he thought about the feelings that he had gone through. “He took you away and I couldn’t find you because I didn’t have the bond.”
Catherine leaned back as she began to cry again. “Don’t ever let me go.”
Vincent pulled her against his chest and tightened his arms around her. “Never my love.”
To be continued: