And So It Begins...
Though the way back was long and arduous it was the only option, and Father carried on the stretcher they had assumed for Vincent’s body protested weakly that they should not obey Peter, that his bearers should take him back to his chamber, that he would get well there. He didn’t need hospitals, and forbid them to take him above. Yet with quiet determination Winslow and William holding each end of the stretcher refused to listen to Father’s petitions, knowing Peter to be right. That attack had scared the hell out of them and a hospital with all its modern apparatus was what he needed right now. It was just unfortunate that they were two miles from the surface and that the terrain was uphill and dodgy.
“Please.” Father pleaded weakly as they neared the final run. “Take me home.”
“No can do, Father. Besides you said yourself how modern apparatus might have spared Vincent, so quit denying that it can help you. Do you want to end up in a casket too?”
“It would be preferable to knowing that I buried my son alive!” Father moaned then winced as a second pain rammed into his chest leaving him panting. Peter was at his side checking his heartbeat, making certain that the final leg of the journey could be completed safely. “We must hurry,” he beckoned to the bearers carrying the stretcher, they knew what he meant and their footsteps did not falter. Peter kept a close eye on Father as the two men carried him through the last labyrinth of tunnels and finally up into the park above where Peter ran for the nearest telephone kiosk. Father had said nothing, his rolling eyes scaring the two bearers witless. They were losing him, it was happening, it couldn’t be happening.
It seemed to take an age before they heard the reassuring blare of the ambulance siren entering the park and moments later saw the vehicle rounding the final bend before screeching to a halt near by. Two paramedics jumped out and with Peter close on their heels they bent down, examined Jacob Wells, and with expertise soon had him up inside their ambulance, where one stayed along with Peter inside and the other jumped into the drivers seat and having left the engine running turned the vehicle around and headed for the exit with the sirens blazing and lights flashing. Winslow and William looked on dazed, their hearts had gone with the man that they loved with their life and they remained still for long after the ambulance had disappeared from sight. Finally Winslow touched William’s arm, “We’d best be getting back, the others will have arrived at the hub by now, everyone will be frantic for news.” William nodded, found no words with which to reply and after folding up the stretcher followed Winslow’s retreating back into the storm drain and into tunnels that would take them home.
*** *** ***
He couldn’t be certain, but Elliot had the queerest feeling that someone was watching him.
He’d had a good day, overseen a few demanding projects and eaten lunch with a colleague, spent an hour choosing the perfect ring for Jenny, and returned to his office. It was while he walked from one part of his building to another that he felt eyes boring into his back, and malicious eyes at that.
Believing in Jenny’s dreams was one thing, reality another. He might well live happily ever after, but it didn’t alter the fact that he could get shot up along the way. Jenny had never said whether their life together showed him in a wheelchair or not. A bullet aimed just so could render him paralysed. Elliot broke out in a cold sweat and he dodged he knew not what, just eyes that were not even there, unless people could see through walls.
The feeling persisted long into the afternoon, and he made a shaky telephone call to Jenny surprised when she did not seem to suspect anything wrong. In fact she sounded on a high and he was surprised to know that Catherine had long since left back to the home of her partner’s family. That Jenny had seen nothing untoward in any one of her visions did nothing to lessen the feeling of unease that Elliot felt, and as he left the building at the close of office hours, he became certain to a point of paranoia that someone was following him.
However, nothing untoward happened and he arrived at the apartment intact, knowing that would not be the end of it. Obviously whomsoever kept their eyes upon him, simply wanted to know where he had been hiding, and once discovered they would return. Well now Jenny was at risk and Elliot would have none of that, and so the moment she answered the door to his soft and persistent tapping, and saw the fear in his eyes, Jenny was donning her jacket and shoes and heading him out of the door.
“Can’t stay here. They know don’t they?” Elliot didn’t have to ask how she knew, just accepted it was so.
“There’s nowhere I can go, Jen. And I will not have you hurt through this. Go home, wait till I call you, I’ll be okay, remember, you’ve seen us living happily ever after.” He tried to laugh but it came out flat and defeated.
“You never actually told me why they want you, Elliot.” Jenny said steering him into the elevator, not certain if they should take the stairs or not.
“The least you know the better, honey. It suffices to say I saw something not meant for my eyes. They’re afraid I will talk, and I might have done, but for you. Now I’d gladly stay quiet.”
“I know a place where we can go, no one will find us there.” Jenny had watched Catherine walk out across the park attempting a brave quick trot from time to time as her condition allowed, and after a satisfied look all round had seen Catherine duck inside a storm drain and not come out. It came as no surprise to Jenny that was one of the ways down to Vincent’s world, knowing how he had taken Catherine home to heal the night she was attacked and left for dead in the park.
“Can’t tell you yet. And when you know, you must never tell, promise?” Jenny sounded nervous. She was about to invite herself into Vincent’s world, and wasn’t certain of a warm reception. Neither did she relish the ticking off that Catherine would receive when it became known that she had revealed the whereabouts of the Vincent’s home, but it was the only safe place that she knew, after all if it had kept Vincent from prying eyes for the past thirty odd years it had to be safe.
“Wherever we go, they are still going to be there when we come out of hiding. It won’t go away Jen.” Elliot stated facts.
“If Catherine can help us, it will. She’ll know what to do she’s handled situations like these before, Elliot, either her or Joe Maxwell. I take it you can’t go to the police?”
“No.” Elliot didn’t elaborate but gave Jenny the distinct feeling that he had either tried that and come unstuck or he just didn’t trust the city’s law enforcement for one reason or another, or maybe they didn’t trust him. No matter, her Elliot, the one she knew, was not the one that they thought they knew, and Jenny decided that she would protect him with her very life if the need arose. How could she live without him now? Impossible. Besides her dreams showed her that she wouldn’t have to, though jenny also knew that dreams only came true if certain things were followed through to the letter, much the same as earlier when she was unable to tell Catherine what H N and D stood for. The out workings of destiny were a little strange sometimes, but one simply had to go with the flow.
As luck would have it, someone else was making their way across the park as Jenny and Elliot moved disjointedly for all the world like two lovers out for a stroll, yet aware of their surroundings very much so, and Jenny recognised the man as being Catherine’s doctor.
“Peter!” Jenny cried and waved frantically, but he did not seem to hear her, hurrying forward to a telephone kiosk, making a call and hurrying out again. Still some way off Jenny called again, but still Peter seemed oblivious to her cries.
“That’s, Peter.” Jenny dragged Elliot along, “Cathy’s doctor, he’ll tell me what I need to know, I’m sure of it.” Mystified Elliot let Jenny drag him forward stopping only when they both found themselves at the edge of a lake, and Peter on the other side. “Must have taken the wrong path.” Jenny announced looking around her wildly, “We can’t lose him Elliot, keep your eyes on him while we backtrack.”
That was easier said than done, until an ambulance burst into the park blaring its siren and they saw Peter flagging it down, no wonder he hadn’t heard Jenny’s shout, he had been too preoccupied. Suddenly Jenny had a terrible thought, “The baby! Oh Cathy!” And started running ahead of Elliot, who stalled for one moment and then ran after her. He had no idea what this crazy woman was doing, only that whatever it was, she was trying to keep him safe, and the whole world too if her actions were anything to go by.
Running headlong through the trees, Jenny and Elliot made their way to the bridge that took them across the lake and then they ran along its bank to the place obscured by shrubs where the ambulance had gone. “Damn!” Jenny cried as she saw the ambulance driving away at speed, “We’re too late!” Frantically she looked around for the doctor, knowing when she did not see him that he must have gone with his patient, who she assumed to be Catherine. Then she noticed by the drain entrance two men who appeared to be watching the disappearing ambulance too. Nothing different about that, many people would stop and stare and wonder, but these two men were dressed strangely, patchwork clothing and they carried a stretcher. Putting two and two together and making five, Jenny grasped Elliot’s hand and running hell for leather closed the gap between them and the storm drain, desperate when she saw the two men bob inside and disappear from view. “Wait!” She cried distraught when the wind whipped her voice behind her, “Wait” she cried at the top of her lungs.
Neither William nor Winslow heard her, and dismayed Jenny watched them enter the drain and disappear from view. “Damn, damn, damn!” Stopping dead, Elliot collided into Jenny’s back, he appeared mystified and a little worried at her strange actions.
“I’m sorry Elliot, but those men would have taken us to where Catherine is living, and where she is living is a safe place, no one would have discovered you there.”
“I think I know this place.” Elliot was full of surprises.
“Catherine took me there once. In tunnels beneath the city.” He whispered into her ear adding, “she asked me to forget what I’d seen but I never have. I know of another way down, but we’ll need transport.” Suddenly he had it, “Cathy left me her car, so we could take that. Seem to be going for a drive, if anyone is watching us, all they’ll see is a pair of lovers entering a warehouse, and from there who knows? I’m sure you could play the part of seductress to perfection, my love.” Elliot slapped Jenny’s bottom affectionately.
“Do you think they’re watching us now?”
“Its probable that they’ve stopped watching me since I left the office. I just don’t know who they are, and it’s only thanks to the park being full of people that they haven’t attempted anything yet. That’s why I’m a little scared about going into the parking lot for Cathy’s car, and don’t go saying you’ll fetch it. You are at risk as much as me now.”
Jenny sighed deeply and whispered, “I’m going into the storm drain Elliot, someone might hear us if we shout loudly enough. I saw Cathy go that way this afternoon, and those two men haven’t come out, so it has to be one of the ways down to the tunnels. Maybe we can find the way in ourselves.”
“Maybe.” Elliot agreed, however he wasn’t hopeful. People that didn’t want to be found always covered their tracks, it was likely that any doorway to the tunnels was secretly obscured, still Jenny was right, they’d find nothing out by staying put and reluctantly he took up step alongside her wrapped his arm around her waist and acting like a pair of lovers wanting to be alone, they headed straight toward the storm drain.
*** *** ***
“I take sole responsibility for this man,” Peter told the doctor as Father was taken in unconscious at the hospital, “He was staying with me, when it happened, that is we were walking through the park when he suddenly clutched at his chest and fell over.” Peter was so happy that he’d had the foresight to take Father from the stretcher and lay him down on the grass before the ambulance had arrived, and that the paramedics had not seemed to notice William and Winslow standing by with the stretcher behind them. All the way from Vincent’s cave his head had been racing with ideas of how to convince hospital personnel of Jacob’s identity. “He’s from England,” Peter, explained “And has no history of a heart condition.”
“Thank you Dr Alcott, likely you know the procedure, you may wait in the visitor’s room for news or since you have a clinic here go along there to wait. If its any consolation I think you’ve nothing to worry about, his blood pressure was fine, but we’ll keep him in a few days just to be certain. Does he have medical insurance?”
“No, but that’s not a problem.” Peter knew if he hadn’t the funds to cover Jacob’s treatment, then Catherine would help out and Peter didn’t even have to ask her for he knew she would insist.
“Right then, well I’ll inform you as soon as we know anything. Where will you be, at the clinic or…”
“Yes at the clinic, may as well keep myself occupied.” The two clasped hands shook them and separated each to his own path. Peter knew it might be hours before he had anything to report to those below. It was unfortunate but it was the way of things, still they had enough to occupy their time, for if Vincent really was alive, then where had he been all this time? And more importantly why had he not returned home?
*** *** ***
Sure enough there was no way in, or no way that seemed apparent. Elliot tried kicking at the huge metal door, Jenny hammered until her wrists were sore and yelled until her throat was hoarse since yelling had to be done discreetly, they didn’t want to announce a problem to anyone that might be listening from the park.
“We’re vulnerable here, Jenny, we should get out while we can. Anyone seeing us enter, will assume we are necking or making out and could be on their way to get us by now. We’ve been here too long.” Jenny was inclined to agree still, “Just one more go, Elliot please? What if someone is on their way to let us in?”
Elliot about to protest was stunned when as jenny lifted her hand to bang again, the door started to shift, sliding back to one side as if on rollers, and beyond the large burly fellow that stood in front of them light illuminated the tunnel beyond. “Who are you?” William asked. Jenny could not see his face but assumed it to be one of the two she had seen enter the drain some fifteen minutes or so earlier.
“Please I have to speak with Catherine.” Jenny blurted.
“Catherine? As in Chandler? Just a moment.” To their horror he closed the door on them even though Jenny and Elliot risked losing their fingers as they tried to prevent it from sliding back.
On tender hooks, fearing their predicament, Elliot and Jenny plastered themselves to one wall, as deep in the shadows as possible, and wished that whomsoever had been behind the door would hurry and open it again.
Finally it did, “Let us in, please!” Jenny wailed, William made an instant decision one he was certain he would pay for later when the other council members caught up with him, still these people were clearly terrified of something. He stood aside, let them in and swiftly closed the door behind them. “Someone is after you?”
“Yes, yes.” Jenny cried and to her dismay William replied, “Then you cannot come in this way. If they saw you come in they will expect to see you come out. If they find the drain empty they will become suspicious and…”
“There’s no need to spell it out…” Jenny told him all of a rush, “I know it risks exposing your world, but what else can we do?”
“Just a minute.” William turned walked to a long think pipe that scaled one wall, and to Jenny and Elliot’s astonishment started tapping a tune upon it.
“Hey this is no time for making music mate…” Elliot began and stopped as an answering tapping came back from afar. He stood mouth open stunned as did Jenny.
“I’ll mediate, “William told them, “Catherine is on the other end. She wants to know your names.”
“Its Jenny and Elliot, tell her.” And the couple watched in amazement as William bent down and began tapping again. Very soon, the answer was returned. “She says, you must return to the apartment building. Go to the basement someone will meet you there.”
“To the basement? But it leads nowhere? Does it?” Elliot asked mystified.
“No questions please. You have to go out of here, act normal and hope that whomsoever is watching will still be watching. Its possible that they don’t want to do anything in public, though naturally the storm drain would be ideal. Hurry now, do as Catherine says before someone investigates and finds you gone.” Through a peephole William looked outside into the drain, “All’s clear, now be gone!” He slid open the door and ushered the couple through its large opening, “Remember act normal, and let them think you have gone up to the apartment.” He hissed, then before closing the door behind them and as an after thought added, “Be well.”
*** *** ***
“I thought you said she had woken?” Vincent peered at Jamie she hadn’t seemed to have moved since he’d left her. He straightened looked at Dominic sceptically and pushing past marched out into the tunnel beyond. There, finding no stool with which to stand on, he returned, “Where’s the stool? You did that on purpose didn’t you? Why did you deny my the chance to see my family?” Dominic had been afraid of this, he had nothing to say, but, “Vincent come sit down, you are distraught.”
“I don’t want to sit down. I do want some answers!” Glaring at his brother, Vincent’s chest rose and fell angrily. Brows drawn tightly together he asked, “Why did you not want me to hear what they were saying? That’s it isn’t it? Looking is one thing, hearing another. What are you hiding Dominic?”
“Nothing.” Thinking furiously, he added, “The old man was just about to realise that he had…he had…” Dominic faltered. Whatever he said now would reveal the truth to his brother, and he couldn’t let that happen, he wouldn’t lose him now. “Just a minute, there’s something I must do.”
Vincent watched him go, breezing past only to return a second later and in the space of time it took to blink Vincent realised all too late that Dominic was jabbing a needle into his arm. “What the? No!” Vincent wrenched his arm away, flung the syringe to smash against a far wall and as his head spun the last thing he saw before passing out was his brother’s lecherous face staring down at him.
*** *** ***
“Mr Burch? Mr Elliot Burch?” Jenny and Elliot froze, arms around each other they’d been headed for Catherine’s apartment building when someone had stepped out from behind a bush to the side of them and in the disappearing daylight the watchman inside the building could not see what was happening.
“Who’s asking?” Elliot turned, faced the man, didn’t recognise him, but knew by the signs presented that the fellow had a gun in his jacket pocket.
“That don’t matter. Leave the lady and come with me.” Elliot saw the fingers holding the gun twitch inside the pocket.
“And if I don’t?” Elliot squeezed Jenny’s waist that bit tighter, for no reason was he leaving her alone without him.
“Then she gets it first Mr Burch.” Another voice sounded to Jenny’s left and to her horror the point of a gun lodged in her side. Strangely Jenny had watched all those gangster movies and had always said, yeah that will never happen to me, but when it did she realised how easy it had happened, how unforeseen such an occurrence had been even though they’d expected something similar all the way back across the park. Even so, on all her re-enactments of the movies she had seen Jenny had supposed she would in such a situation attempt a very foolish or very brave stunt that would hopefully pay off, and she used it now. “I don’t think so, Mister! What in broad daylight, you’ll never get away with it.” She almost laughed at the faces of the two gunmen and at Elliot’s he was frightened to death. “Come Elliot.” She dragged at his waist, “Let’s go upstairs.”
“Take one more step and you’re dead!” One of the gunmen hollered nervously.
“So shoot me in the back.” Jenny called over her shoulder without turning round, “But we aren’t going anywhere.”
The swing doors had never been so far away, as everything happened in slow motion, the space from danger to safety unbearable long, but all too soon they were entering the building and leaving the two gunmen standing staring after their retreating backs. Jenny dragged Elliot toward the elevator, “Quick”, she bundled him inside thanking the gods that it had been waiting empty at ground level, then pressing one button for basement and as it descended another for level 18 and both leapt out as soon as the doors opened and watched the elevator speed off again up to the eighteen floor. “Let’s hope it doesn’t stop on route.” Jenny told Elliot, “But goes straight past ground level at least.”
“Been meaning to ask about that, why if Catherine lives on the eighteenth floor is her apartment 21E?”
Jenny laughed, “That’s easy, Elliot. There’s basement, ground floor, Nought floor then one to eighteen. Stands to reason her apartment will be number 21.”
Jenny looked around the empty basement impatiently, “Come on Cathy you promised someone would meet us.” No sooner had she spoken than they heard the shifting of boxes against concrete and turning were both stunned to see the packing crates against one wall being pushed toward them. The couple hurried forward and helped pull the crates away as a young lad appeared from behind them. “You, Jenny and Elliot?” He asked hopefully.
“Yes!” The couple replied together.
“Follow me, but hurry. Elliot can you come down last and pull the packing crates back against the doorway? They are hard to shift back this way.” The boy explained. He descended the ladder helped Jenny through the hole in the wall and watched while Elliot brought the crates forward and closed the door behind them. “Phew we’re safe.” Jenny sighed at last.
“Not yet, we need to get out of here. Follow me.” The couple followed the young boy and were surprised when he waited for them to pass by and then bent to pick up some bricks, “Help me replace these.” He told them indicating the hole in the wall where they had ducked through. With three willing pairs of hands the job took no time at all, and the boy announced happily, “Now we are safe. I’m Geoffrey by the way, Catherine sent me. I’m to lead you below to where she is. You will see lots of strange things and I must ask that you promise to tell no one of what you will see, and after today this entrance will be bricked up with cement, solid for good.”
“We promise Geoffrey.” Jenny told the boy, “Thank you so much for coming for us. You don’t know how close we came to being history.” Geoffrey nodded and led the way, Elliot however caught Jenny’s arm, “Talking of which, that was a very stupid thing you did back there, Jenny. We could be dead now.”
“But we aren’t and we would have been had we not tried anything.” She told him truthfully.
Elliot couldn’t argue with that, and tucking his arm through Jenny’s he walked along with her following the young boy Geoffrey to God knows where without another word.
*** *** ***
“I don’t know, I don’t know.” Catherine clutched her aching temples, “I want to help truly I do, but I have to find Vincent first. You’ll be safe here Jen, just let me find him first okay, then I’ll see about helping Elliot.”
Jenny tried to understand but Elliot’s welfare meant so much to her, “He can’t run his business from down here Cathy, as grateful as we are to be here, and neither can I come to that, people will be looking for me.”
“Don’t you think I don’t know that?” Catherine wailed. These last few days had taken their toll on her and she was so stressed. Father in hospital, convincing the community that Vincent was alive, the arrival of her friends, their predicament, hers, knowing where to start looking for Vincent, wondering if Jamie was with him wondering who had placed Narcissa in a casket next to Vincent’s empty one…it was all becoming too much for Catherine and it was beginning to show. “Here sit down, Cathy. You look all in.”
“I don’t want to sit down, I’m pregnant not incapacitated!” She flared. “First things first, find Vincent that’s at the top of my list, Lord Jen, he’s been gone six months now, and if he’s alive and so obviously been here to write me a message then there must be some other reason preventing his return to me. I have to find him, Jen, have to make him understand that I love him so much and that despite what he believes, Elliot means nothing to me in that way!”
“I understand your concerns Cathy, but can’t you at least inform Joe, of Elliot’s predicament. You trust Joe, I’m sure he’d help.”
“I’m certain he would, but that kind of journey will take a whole day. A whole day wasted when I could be searching for Vincent. I’m sorry Jen, I have to do this first, please try to understand.”
“I am understanding, Cathy. I also know things, you know I do, Vincent will return in his own time, and nothing you can do will rush things. He has problems of his own to work through but he’ll be back I can assure you.”
Catherine remained sceptical, “You’re just saying that so I will help Elliot first.”
“No, Cathy! You know I would never use deception, you know me better than that.”
“I thought I did, but alls fair in love and war and all that, and you can’t deny that your loyalties lay with Elliot now.”
“True, but not at any cost to our friendship. That remains the most important thing. Cathy? Are you alright?” Anything else Jenny had been about to say about Elliot’s problem was forgotten as her friend physically paled before her eyes and she saw Catherine clutch at her back and leaning toward a desk hold to it tight for support.
“Pain.” Catherine panted as tears squeezed beneath her eyelashes, “Call Mary.”
Jenny didn’t hesitate, running from the chamber down the now familiar tunnels to where she knew she would find Mary. Rushing in on her Jenny blurted, “Catherine’s in pain, wants you to come.” Mary dropped her sewing and grabbing a medical bag in passing followed Jenny from the chamber.
“Catherine!” Mary exclaimed reaching the younger woman’s side, “How bad is it?”
Shaking her head Catherine pointed down to the floor, and Mary gasped, “Her water’s have broken, quick Jenny, help me with her to the bed, strip the sheets, lay that plastic sheet on the mattress, yes that’s right.” Jenny did it all one handed as she helped Mary support Catherine with her other arm. “Now help me lie her down.” Mary hadn’t needed to ask, Jenny was prepared and protecting Catherine’s head from the bed end she lowered her friend to the mattress. “Anything I can do?” Jenny asked breathlessly.
“Call Olivia, she’ll help, unless you’ve delivered babies before?” Jenny shook her head and raced out of the chamber looking for anyone that might direct her to Olivia or send the woman a message. She and Elliot may have been below for almost a week but the coded pipe corresponding was still a little beyond her. Bumping into a Negro man Jenny blurted out her request amazed at the speed he moved for one so large and listened as he tapped out a message for Olivia and it seemed only seconds before the woman appeared running down the tunnel toward her. “How is she?” Olivia cried as she ran on past. Jenny took up pace with her, “Water’s broken.” She panted and Olivia cried, “Not good, not good!” Fear gripped jenny as she remembered reading something about that. When there had been no contractions before hand the breaking of the waters cushioning the baby at birth could have a detrimental effect on the child and ensure a painful labour for the mother. “Oh God, Cathy we shouldn’t have been arguing, not at a time like this!” Jenny swore silently and hurried back into the chamber peering over the heads of the two women for a glimpse of her friend and was horrified to discover Mary positioned between Catherine’s legs and shouting, “Its too soon Cathy, too soon, The baby is crowning and you haven’t dilated enough.” Mary panicked too late for a caesarean even if they had the experience to deliver in such a way. With Father in hospital and Peter above, there was no one to advise them, but Mary knew one thing, that if Catherine bore down now, she would rip herself and haemorrhage and the baby’s life could well be in danger. “Honey, hold on, don’t push. Can you relax? Good girl.” Mary tried to appear calm, “Take deep soothing breaths, that’s it Catherine, good girl. Jenny? I’m glad you’re here, come and hold Catherine’s hand and keep the sweat from her eyes.” Jenny needed no second asking, she was at Catherine’s side at once, rinsing a flannel in cool water and placing it upon Catherine’s brow, talking soothingly to her, trying to get her friend to do everything Mary asked, even though the contractions were coming thick and fast.
“Everything is…” Catherine panted through clenched teeth, “telling me…to push…Mary.”
“Don’t! Cathy, not yet hold on.” For the thousandth time Mary wished Father was there. She’d delivered babies with him a dozen times and more over the years but this child was extra precious and the helplessness that Mary felt at that moment was even more poignant that at any other time.
Finally…Mary slipped her fingers inside Catherine’s vagina, something she would only do in an emergency, and though Catherine flinched she held her breath wondering what Mary was trying to do. “Work with me honey, I can feel the baby’s face, I’ll try to cup his head as you bear down. It’s the nearest thing to forceps that I have. Pity you never had that scan that Peter spoke of or we might have known how close to delivery you were. Right are you ready, with the next contraction, here it comes, now push!”
Jenny bore down with her, it was difficult not to and Elliot chose that moment to enter the chamber, “Oops sorry.” He made to leave, and Mary called him back. “Wait young man another pair of hands will not go amiss.”
Elliot froze and then on automation walked toward the bed, it was obvious what was going on, even if he hadn’t of seen the commotion outside in the tunnel. It was packed with people. He’d just been looking for Jenny.
“Can’t see how I can help.”
“Believe me you can, just don’t keep Catherine waiting.” Mary replied flustered.
Elliot chuckled and looking down at Catherine told her, “Never thought I’d see the day Cathy, you laying on a bed legs wide open and waiting for me.” It was all that was needed, Catherine started to giggle and as Jenny joined her, she laughed harder and harder. Mary grinned, Elliot’s quip had eased the tension and Catherine’s uterus gave bit by wonderful bit, the elasticity allowing the baby’s head to pass through while cupped by Mary’s expert hand. “Almost done, Cathy. One last push and it’ll be over. Elliot help her sit up will you, Olivia hold that leg back, Jenny keep moping that brow, right now with the next contraction and on the count of three… Cathy, PUSH!”
For a split second there was silence then a mewling cry filled the air bringing forth tears to every pair of eyes in the chamber. “It’s a boy, Cathy!” Mary announced gathering the leonine child in both hands and holding him out to his mother, “A little boy just like his father.” Mary gasped suddenly remembering Elliot and Jenny and horrified that she could have forgotten just like that – of course there had been a great possibility that the child would look like his father, but she just hadn’t stopped to think, not when the time came, but by the looks upon Elliot and Jenny’s faces she needn’t have worried.
“He’s beautiful Cathy.” Jenny announced touching the baby’s tawny head.
“He’s incredible!” Elliot announced, “And you say he’s like his father? No wonder the poor guy had to live down here.”
“Promise you’ll tell no one.” Mary nudged Elliot’s arm, “Promise.” He noticed her eyes were filled with fear, Elliot erased it with a few well spoken words, “Who’d believe me?” He asked then, “I promise. Not hell or high water would have me divulge this secret, I’ll never tell a soul.”
Mary sighed released his arm and hugged him tightly, “Thank you, you don’t know how food it is to hear you say that.” Jenny felt strangely elevated, Mary had not asked the same of her, and that the older woman so obviously trusted her to keep silent felt good.
“What are you going to name him Cathy? Any ideas?”
Catherine shook her head. “I was going to name him after his father, but since Vincent lives there is no need.” Mary looked up startled, she’d known this news but was unable to accept it, “What about Jacob, do you think Father would approve?”
“Approve! Oh my dear, he’d love it!” Mary cried, “And it’ll help smooth the way of his not being here to deliver the child, for believe me he’s going to be as mad as hell that he missed it.”
Everyone laughed and as they gently chatted among themselves, Olivia and Mary delivered and disposed of the afterbirth, tidied Catherine and allowed in the visitors. Discreetly Elliot and Jenny made their way out of the chamber overwhelmed by what they had experienced and headed for the guest chamber. “Loved you’re quip.” Jenny laughed out loud, “Made all the difference. Cathy was like a prop, so tense wouldn’t give any which way, Mary was so worried till you came along.”
“I almost freaked when she told me to stay and help, it was the first thing that came into my head. Hope I do better when we have a baby.”
“Mm just imagine, Elliot Burch the businessman, relentless and ruthless to Elliot Burch, father and daddy to his children.”
“Children now, is it? Think I have it in me to father thousands?”
“Well maybe not thousands, still that depends on how many wives you have.” Jenny laughed. Elliot laughed too, and as they’d reached the guest chamber that had been assigned to Jenny he whispered, “Say what do you think that we play around a little while everyone else is otherwise occupied with the baby?” Jenny laughed, “I can think of nothing I’d like more.” She reached out a hand and tugged him into the chamber and neither noticed that yards from where they’d stood a sombre figure loomed cloaked from top of head to feet in ebony and furious at overhearing the last part of their conversation.
Incensed, Vincent panted to stop himself from roaring, for having just run all the way from the lower levels to escape his brother, he’d arrived only to find Elliot Burch in the tunnels, speaking ill of his newly acquired parenthood and still playing around with Jenny Aronson it seemed, right beneath Catherine’s nose!
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To be continued in Chapter Eleven