He felt he might, he took deep calming breaths, holding Catherine reasonably firmly but not overbearingly so. She could escape if she wanted. He did not know it was the last thing crossing her mind. Believing only that she was afraid of what might happen between them, he held her loosely while whispering in her ear, “It’s alright my love, you’re safe, you’re safe now.” While hoping that it sounded as though he meant it. For as the red mist gathered and he felt the warmth of her breasts as he enfolded his arms protectively about her, he doubted even the truth of his own words.
He wanted her, he really wanted her…oh how he wanted her…
And as four voices beckoned for him to have his way with the woman Vincent tried to shut out the sound of their voices and with eyes closed he fought against the desire of the dark one taking control…and then amid the audience and the cheers from above… to his and Catherine's shame…he hopelessly lost.
*** *** ***
From one corner of the cell Catherine whimpered. She would remember it all her life. She never whimpered, but this sound uttered from her throat was pitiful, a plaintive cry as if borne from a kitten.
Above her four faces filled with concern gazed down at her. Hearts thudded frantically as the reality of what they had caused set in around them. She had been so beautiful and they had exploited her, thrown her into a cell with a beast and had enjoyed every single moment of the ‘rape’, yet now, now all was quiet they felt bad.
Terrible if truth be told, terrible for what they had done and for the consequences of their combined felony.
No one spoke, yet eyes were downcast toward the woman before sweeping across to the other corner, where he, the beast, the creature, sat upon his haunches almost as if he might pounce on her again at any moment.
They couldn’t see his eyes, but a deathly silence prevailed, one that permeated the whole area, and filled the onlookers with dread.
“We’ve got to get her out of there.” One of them said. It was thoughts spoken aloud. The speaker was unaware that he had started to talk until he heard his own voice in his ears.
Even so he was answered, “Yes, and we can dart him now that they aren’t near each other. Come on lets get it done before he attacks her again.”
Three faces withdrew from the opening above. Sam stayed watching every move the beast made. He felt sick, they should never have done that, should never have put such a beautiful woman in with such a creature. It was uncanny that they appeared to know one another, but even if they did, it had not been permissible for the two to appear half naked around each other. In all probability, they had never seen one another in such a state of undress in all their lives. In actual fact, it was probable that the beast and the woman were associates, in the term of friends, and that the idea of sex had never risen between them, until now. Sam grew frightened. They didn’t know who the woman was, and they weren’t sure what to do with her to save their own necks.
As he thought, he heard the doors below open and close, the sound of a barrel crack and the incision of the dart. A short sound followed like that of a breath of air and the beast dropped to the straw moments later falling flat on his face.
The whimpering started afresh, as the three men opened the cell and went inside with the intention of bringing the woman out. Thus, they were unprepared for her attack.
“How dare you!” Catherine leapt to her feet, stumbled a moment righted herself and launched her hands nails first at the eyes of one of the three men. He winced, twisting away, hands covering his face and replaced by another of the men who made a grab at her flailing hands before she could make her second strike.
“Hold still you wildcat, or we’ll leave you here with that beast.”
“He’s no beast! It’s you who wear that label.” She spat viciously, catching one full in the face. He wiped it clean with the back of his hand, snarling his agitation and raised a hand to hit her.
Just then a thunderous roar split his eardrums even as he heard Sam’s shout from above, ‘Look out he’s awake!’ and he turned to the sound only in time to see a mighty arm, fur coated, claws like talons crashing down upon him, before he felt the gush of warm blood soaking his chest and shoulders. Clutching his throat, the man tried desperately to hold in his life force, feeling it ebb away even as he did so.
A second thwack, and then a third had the other two men reeling, and then Vincent stumbled over their bodies laid strewn across the floor to reach Catherine standing just beyond.
“Come.” He beckoned her, holding out a hand, his eyes pained and distraught.
Catherine needed no second bidding, she took the offered hand and together they made their escape without a backward glance.
*** *** ***
They ran without word through the endless corridors, searching only for some covering, neither willing to look sidelong at the other, each aware of their own nakedness each remembering what had taken place between them.
Passing a door that had the words ‘utility’ on it, Catherine paused and was pulled along by Vincent before he too slowed and backtracked to stand alongside her. He looked at her face curiously, wondering what she was thinking.
“We might find something in here.” She told him, “Even if its only bin liners.” She attempted a smile that didn’t quite come off and when the expression on Vincent’s face remained aloof, her smile disappeared.
Opening the door, they stepped within and switched on the light. A quick perusal of the room showed only mops, buckets, a sink and as Catherine had surmised, bin liners. She picked one up, spread it open and tore three openings where she slipped her head and arms. Glancing down at her creation, she could not resist a chuckle, “Might not make next year’s fashion, but it’ll certainly keep my modesty intact.” Vincent said nothing just followed her idea picking up a bag for himself and copying her design he covered himself with it.
It was amazing how much better that slip of black plastic made him feel, even though the thought galloped through his mind that it was very much like ‘shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted’. Even so, he knew that with covering, any sort of covering they could at least get out of the building and head toward the nearest entrance to his underground home without causing so much of a stir had they been seen naked.
Once there was another matter. Vincent didn’t like to think on that. Things were never going to be the same between he and Catherine. In fact had it not been for overseeing her escape, he would gladly have stayed in that cell until he rotted away. He despised himself and wanted not to feel or think ever again. He wanted only to die.
Twice it had happened. Twice. How could he pretend that the dark one was to blame? Maybe the first time, when he had been a ferocious beast, maybe that one time the dark one could be blamed. But this second time, he had been in control at the outset, he had known, yet he had allowed lust and the memory of that first time with Catherine to feed his mind, until in so doing he brought the dark one to the fore. And it would always be this way. He, the man, knew not how to love. That act was reserved for the beast alone and he simply took what was offered despite the consequences.
Still, he found it equally compelling to ponder Catherine’s response to the dark one’s ferocious attack. True she could do little under the circumstances, yet even so that first time Father had been close at hand, and she could have called for help.
Surely Catherine did not enjoy such slaking of his flesh? Surely that wasn’t making love? The books he had read had not prepared him for such an assault. He had dreamed that love would grow and each would surrender one to the other with slow deliberation, giving and receiving the love that they felt for one another – a celebration of joy. Not the teeth clenching, neck biting, grotesque shuffle of roaming hands…not the lust induced passion with which he released around her…not the way he had taken her…again and again and again…with not a thought to anything but his own pleasure? Vincent wanted to be sick. How could he do that to Catherine? How could he have allowed that to happen? The once could have been forgiven, that one time in the catacombs when he had not been in control, but how could he justify his actions in that cell? What could he possible tell himself that would correct the wrong he had administered? Why he was no better than the men that had put her in with him.
Suddenly a flash of memory brought their cheers and applause racing through his mind and in that moment he felt the same thrill as he had done then. He stopped dead, causing Catherine to look at him with concern asking, “Vincent what is it?” as she looked about her expecting to see someone at any moment to her left or to her right. There was no one and she gazed back at him anxiously. He was agitated that was for sure, and he looked as though he might take flight any second.
“Vincent!” Catherine hissed sharply, tugging on his arm, “What’s wrong?”
At least she had drawn his attention. He turned to her, his eyes boring into hers and in that moment, Catherine did not know him. He was gone, unreachable, yet she knew that the dark one hadn’t returned.
“Later, Vincent.” Catherine tugged him onward, “We’ll talk later. Now’s not the time.”
Still he held back, his gaze now somewhere distant unable to look at her and she felt his shame, it broke her heart. “You weren’t yourself, please Vincent I understand, please don’t blame yourself.”
Yet, he did blame himself. Catherine, somehow had found him, had come to rescue him take him home and he had abused her, used her for his own selfish needs. Her appearance had been like that of a dream come true or a temptress come to taunt him when his desire for her ran at its deepest. She would not know that hours before her arrival he had sat pondering that time in the catacombs. She would not know that while he remembered he also thought that she had shut the horrific experience away, deep inside where it could never be recovered because she had loathed every single moment of the revolting act.
Even so, whether she remembered or not, she had come for him, rescued him and he repaid her in this way!
Had he been able to kill himself he would have done so then, but Catherine was still at risk, walking the park late at night in nothing but a bin liner, anything might happen to her. If nothing else Vincent knew that he owed it to Catherine to get her to safety, before he punished himself for what he had done to her.
Pleasure swept through Catherine at that one word, and she gladly allowed Vincent to pull on her hand, heading for what she knew to be the entrance into his world. She didn’t even stop to consider that it still might be sealed, Vincent she knew would let nothing stop him from entering anywhere if he chose to do.
She hurried at his side a brisk trot dodging the lights keeping as much as possible to the shadows, until they finally reached their goal. Not until then did either exhale a breath of relief, and as she anticipated the cracking of stone, Catherine uttered a cry of surprise to find when Vincent touched the mechanism that had denied her entry the door slid open with the resonate rasping sound that she accustomed it with.
No sooner had they entered did the pipes herald their arrival, clanging as sentries unable to believe their eyes tapped out any coherent message with fumbling fingers eager to touch metal.
Catherine could sense the excitement in every step she took, and her heart raced for the welcome they would receive. It stunned her therefore, when Vincent directed her not to the main hub where his anxious family awaited their arrival but rather to the entrance beneath her apartment building.
The wall thereto had been reopened and Catherine stunned from that as much as arriving at the spot turned to Vincent, “Surely we can go to your chamber? I have some of my things there to change into. Your family are anxious to have you back. Vincent, don’t put me first, I don’t mind wearing mismatched items.” She grinned up at him hoping to see him smile, “they’re better than nothing at any rate.” She teased.
He did not smile neither did any amount of amusement touch the blue of his eyes. An icy hand suddenly clutched at Catherine’s heart. Something was wrong, something was dreadfully wrong. And she knew what it was.
“Don’t let it eat at you my love.” Her fingers reached out to touch his cheek but he flinched away, indicating instead with one outstretched arm toward the ladder that would take her into the basement of her apartment building.
“Go!” He growled the word, making Catherine cringe like she was the one that had done wrong, not that he had, not in her eyes, but she felt it in him, it was as if he couldn’t stand to set eyes upon her.
“Vincent, I love you. What happened changes nothing. You have to see that, you have to know that what we did I wanted too.”
“Not like that! Catherine don’t you see it changes everything. Nothing can ever be the same for us again.”
“No you’re wrong. We have so much we can get through this. Vincent, please let me come back with you?”
He shook his head and raising his arm once more pointed to the stairs, “Go Catherine. Go live the life you were born for. Forget me.”
“I can never forget you! Never! You don’t know what you ask of me. Vincent I love you, all of you.”
“Then you are a fool! Now go! And don’t come back, I never want to see you again!”
“You don’t mean that. You are distraught, and angry, and ashamed for what happened. Vincent, it doesn’t matter, I forgive you and don’t you see even then you did not hurt me as you have always maintained.” She was clutching at his arms by now, holding on for dear life. He shook himself free.
“Go Catherine! Get out of my life! What I am is what I am, I will never be the man that you see within me. Don’t you understand? What happened back there proves only what I knew all along I am a beast slaking my bestial thirst on your flesh. Its unholy Catherine, and unforgivable!” the last came out on a sob and Catherine knew it was tearing him apart to send her away yet she didn’t know what to say only tried to cuddle close hoping that actions would speak louder than any words. She loved him, no matter what had happened, she loved him now and she always would. He was her life.
“Go Catherine.” The words were spoken softer now, less threatening as if all fight had drained out of him, Catherine could tell it was taking every ounce of strength to send her away from him. “Go and don’t come back…never come back.”
Suddenly an angry retort echoed his words, “You heard what my son said, now get out of our lives…”
He fell to his knees then, the exertion and the endless days and nights caged taking their toll upon him.
“Winslow, Cullen help him, come Vincent we have a stretcher, climb aboard we can’t lift you.” Meek as a lamb Vincent obeyed, and as Catherine stepped up behind her intention to follow them, Father reeled on her. “Are you stupid! Do you not understand plain English? Vincent wants nothing more to do with you! Now get out of our lives. We never want to see or hear from you again. Got that?”
“Father…” Vincent began his words slurred. He sounded oh so tired. But Father did not listen to him, instead he literally stamped back to where Catherine was standing hesitant, unsure, weary, bereft and raised his cane above her head…”Now go!”
Sobbing Catherine went, climbing the steps as swiftly as she could, her body quaking with tears… and leaving her heart behind.
“And don’t try coming back…” Father shouted as he followed the men carrying the stretcher. “Within the hour this entrance will be well and truly sealed...and make no mistake…this time it will be forever!”
And the last thing that Vincent heard before the men carried him out of earshot was the sound of Catherine whimpering again…rendering the return of a nightmare that he knew would have no end.
*** *** ***
Concern for his most favourite patient made Peter visit the tunnels five weeks later. Catherine had been through thick and thin over the years, but the state he had just left her in frightened him. And though she would not be specific, he knew that her problem was Vincent orientated.
Pascal on his beloved pipes announced the arrival of the tunnel’s long time friend and Peter was stopped several times before reaching his objective, that being the main hub around where tunnel life revolved. However, when he finally arrived he was surprised to find not only Father but Vincent too awaiting him and with looks upon their faces that could only be described as ones of caution.
“Father! Vincent! Are you well?” Peter offered the customary greeting, and saw the cautious look shift to one of expectation.
“Yes, as well as can be expected.” Father replied for the two of them, “So what brings you to us Peter? Is this an informal visit?”
For some unknown reason Peter felt his hackles rise. Thirty years and more he had visited these tunnels, and never had he been treated as though he were the enemy.
“Not exactly.” Peter replied truthfully.
“As we thought then.” Father sounded gruff annoyed. “Peter, you may be unaware but there is one person’s name that we do not allow down here anymore. So if you have come to plead her case you can forget it.”
“There are no buts. Now if you would like to join us for tea you are more than welcome, but we will not tolerate the mention of that young lady!”
Peter could hardly believe his ears! Catherine had maintained there was such hostility toward her, but he did not believe it until now. How could he take tea with these people and pretend he agreed with them? He could not. He shook his head, “Forget it!” there were no other words he could utter without issuing a stream of obscenities from here to Kingdom Come. He was furious. He turned and without saying another word he left and he didn’t care what they thought of him!
Only Vincent stared after him, Father having already shrugged his shoulders muttered something unrepeatable and headed back for his chamber.
Vincent felt sad. Another chapter had just closed in his book of life, and deep down inside Vincent was aware that it was beginning to hurt.
*** *** ***
Catherine hadn’t told Peter everything. Not only had she left out some very big details regarding herself and Vincent, but she had also refrained from bothering him with the thing that hung over her and kept her constantly worried.
It had all began a couple of days after she had rescued Vincent from the zoo. Jenny had rang, and Catherine found much of the conversation lost to her now that she tried to recollect it because of the nature of the call, but it went something like this;
“Is that you, Jen?” Catherine could remember laughing despite the way she had felt before her friend rang. She hoped that Jenny would not notice the way she was really feeling.
“Yes its me.” There had been a pause, Catherine distinctly remembered that, she also remembered laughing some more and saying, “What lost for words, Jen? I never thought I’d see the day.”
“Its not that.” Jenny had continued, “It’s just well you asked me to relate anything I heard regarding the Alpha and the Omega, you remember?”
“Yes, but it doesn’t matter now Jen, I don’t need anymore information on that, but tell me what you have unearthed anyway.”
“Well I haven’t anything not really. And it concerns me that you don’t want anything else on the subject. Is there something you want to tell me Cathy?”
“Tell you? I’m sorry Jen, I’m not with you on this one. What’s on your mind?”
“I take it you have seen the news headlines today?”
Catherine confessed she hadn’t. Television was the last thing on her mind, as was reading newspapers. In fact for the past three days she had done little else but cry, get mad, and cry again as she thought of the things Vincent and Father had said to her.
“Well…I don’t like to have to be the bearer of bad news honey, but your face is splashed all over the bulletins.”
“My…my…face? But why?”
“That’s what I’d like to know. But its certainly you Cathy, I’m surprised that boss of yours hasn’t been hammering your door down by now. Good job its weekend or he might have lynched you at the office.”
Fear stole over Catherine at her words. Her mind racing she could just remember asking Jenny to explain when just that happened, there was a loud hammering on her apartment door.
“I heard that. Cathy, if there is anything I can do let me know okay? Anything, you know you don’t even have to ask, okay? I’m here for you come what may.”
“Thanks Jen.” Catherine hung up, she hadn’t meant to do, and as she crossed the room to the door, she wondered why she had. She wasn’t a bit surprised to find Joe standing on the other side of it, but she was exceedingly surprised to find that he wasn’t alone.
“I’m sorry kiddo.” Joe kept apologising as Catherine was read her rights and handcuffed. She said nothing her head in a spin, and Joe just stood there looking awkward as Catherine was led from her apartment unable to say a thing.
Obviously, whatever had happened was all some ghastly mistake. She’d been nowhere, done nothing, but even as Catherine thought it, she reminded herself of three days ago when she had noticed those cameras as she walked along the corridors of the Central Park Zoo and it all began to make sense.
Thinking back on it now Catherine couldn’t believe how she had behaved. She had remained so quiet, not insisting her innocence at all. Even Joe had deemed her guilty, besides there wasn’t much one could do when there was evidence of her breaking and entering that part of the building at that time of day.
Since then however, she had fumed and ranted and raved at the injustice of it all, that she, being the rescuer of her beloved Vincent, was branded a criminal for stealing away the zoo’s prime attraction on the eve of its presentation to the entire geographical world. She couldn’t even tell Joe about it not without giving Vincent away, and she couldn’t even tell Jenny about it. Jenny her best friend who despite the absurdity of her friend stealing the creature could not quite dispute the fact that Catherine had been there at that time when that creature had gone missing, and that she could not give a reasonable explanation as to why that was so. Everything pointed to one conclusion. Catherine Chandler was guilty and although now out on bail was still awaiting sentence, and if convicted of the crime could face a term of up to five years in prison. So how could she tell Peter those things? Yet, how could she hope to keep them from him? Catherine did not know, she had not a clue as to how she might get out of this one, and with the sanctity of the tunnels snatched away from her, there was nowhere to go while she awaited the dreaded day set for her trial.
*** *** ***
When Peter did find out about it he couldn’t believe what he was reading and wished that Catherine had told him herself.
Straight away he cancelled all his appointments and went round to her apartment hoping it was all some ghastly mix up unprepared to be told that it wasn’t and Peter could only stand and stare mouth agape as the words that Catherine was relating to him sank in.
Finally he cleared his throat a few times and began to question her, “But why Cathy? I mean why are they doing this to you?”
With a wry grimace Catherine replied, “In a word, ‘Vincent’. They don’t know him like you or I do, Peter. As far as the zoo and the rest of the world is concerned I just stole their main exhibit from under their noses. No one has thought to question what I did with him.” Catherine laughed derisively, “I mean think of it logically where would one put someone like Vincent without knowledge of the tunnels and expect to get away with it?” Her words caught on a sob. Catherine was mad and she didn’t want Peter’s pity or sorrow, or anything else that remotely felt like he was sorry for her.
“I can’t see how you can get out of this one, Cathy. Without Vincent, there is no way, and we both know the impossibility of that even if he would hear you out. What is it with you two anyway? Father was pretty hostile when I visited, wouldn’t even allow me to mention your name. I didn’t stay I can tell you, I was furious with him.”
“Was Vincent there?”
“Yes, and he said not a thing. That’s unlike him Cathy and you know it, so what happened between the two of you?”
Catherine exhaled a deep breath, maybe it might be better if Peter knew the basics of this problem, maybe an outside view would help her find the answer she sought.
“Alright Peter, I’ll tell you but promise you’ll keep it to yourself.”
Cocking his head to one side, Catherine knew exactly what he was thinking and she smiled, “Don’t tell me, keeping a confidence is what you’re best at?”
Peter chuckled, “Well…”
“Okay then its this. Remember that time in the cave, when Vincent was undergoing that terrible fever, when everyone thought he would die?”
“Yes and you brought him back and was rendered the heroine, that’s what I can’t understand Cathy, why are they doing this to you after that, and especially since you returned him to them a second time…I mean…oops sorry, go on.” He looked apologetic for swinging the conversation off into another direction.
“Yes, well I can’t understand it either. But back to that time in the cave…” Catherine hesitated. It was one thing telling your doctor your innermost secrets but it was quite another thing telling the man her father had considered his best friend all her life.
“If I know you Cathy, and Vincent, and the way he was before to the way he came out of that cave, I’d say something remarkable happened between the two of you, and you were one hellava brave lass to have even contemplated it while Vincent was in that condition.” Peter smiled at her understanding her embarrassment to tell all.
“Has Father said anything to you?”
Peter smiled and shook his head, then explained, “Well not exactly. But I got the picture that you and Vincent became exceedingly close that day in the cave. Do you get my drift?”
Catherine blushed, but his words gave her the way out she needed, “Well yes, and we got awfully close the same way that time at the zoo, only this time we had an audience.”
“Yes there were four men watching, no not watching goading, they were goading Vincent…er…the dark one…to..er…”
Peter stared wide eyed, “Are you telling me that Vincent raped you?”
“No, no…well not really. It wasn’t Vincent, that is it was, but it was his alter ego, you know the one that…well you know.” She finished lamely.
“Catherine! You could be pregnant!”
Despite herself Catherine smiled, “Trust a doctor to think of that. But don’t worry Peter that’s not the issue here, besides Vincent’s sterile.”
“Sterile? How on earth do you know that? I have never run such a test on him.”
“I overheard the conversation between the men that had captured him. They referred to him as The Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end, basically because they had never heard or seen of anyone like Vincent before, and as they knew he was sterile it was unlikely that there would ever be another like him either.”
“Well Father would be very interested to hear that piece of information young lady. He held grave misgivings about an intimate relationship between you and Vincent for that very reason. And Vincent too, does he know?”
“Now that I don’t know. I shouldn’t think so, unless they discussed it around him. They were unaware that he could speak or that he could understand what they were saying. They regarded him as an animal, Peter.”
“Yes, so I have been led to understand. I don’t know if any of the helpers are sending newspapers down there, but I wouldn’t have thought so. Its possible that if they are they are omitting anything to do with you under Father’s command. But I doubt that he is aware of how you are making the headlines these days.”
“Oh don’t Peter. I hate thinking about it. If I do I wonder how they can read all about it and Vincent still not come to see me, or send word. I wouldn’t have taken Vincent for being callous Peter, but what else should I presume?”
“I don’t think that’s a possibility Catherine, and that’s one of the reasons I don’t think they know anything about it. Want me to tell them?”
“Do you think they’ll let you?” Catherine laughed bitterly.
“I’ll make them hear me. You can’t carry this by yourself Cathy. From what you tell me and from what I’ve read you are going to go down for this.”
“I know, and there isn’t a single thing I can say to dispute it. I was caught on camera entering the building and I was seen leaving it with Vincent in tow. It’s a cut and dried case I’m afraid, Peter. You will visit me in prison won’t you?” she tried to make a joke of it, but it didn’t come off and Peter wrapped his arms around her as she cried into his shoulder.
“I don’t know how I’m gonna do it Cathy, but know this, come what may, I will do everything in my power to prevent you from going to jail. Will you be alright by yourself for a while, there is somewhere I must go?”
Catherine hiccupped and turned watery eyes to Peter, she nodded, her eyes questioning though she said nothing.
“Yes honey, I’m going below. I’m going to face the lion in his den. And I don’t mean Vincent or his alter ego!”
Catherine knew exactly whom he meant.
To be continued in part three.