And So It Begins...

Chapter Sixteen

Nothing untoward happened over the weekend, except that they rarely saw Dominic nor was he missed. Little Vincent gave the tunnel dwellers more than their fair share of joy and Catherine was more than happy to have her little one taken care of, while she got some much needed rest. Being a working mother with an endless trek to make each Friday night from her home to the hub was a little more than Catherine was able to manage and Joe seemed fit to using her in making up for the lost time she wasn’t working.

Still by Sunday evening as she said her goodbyes, and left a message for Dominic to meet her up top the following day to arrange for his meeting with the bank manager and a day spent shopping for clothes, he suddenly appeared and announced quite openly that he had spent the weekend with Vincent. When Father heard this he was a little annoyed, “Why did you not tell me that you were going to see him?” He blurted as Dominic related how Vincent was keeping.

“I wasn’t certain that I was.” Dominic lied. “I ventured to the area where I had last seen him, and there he was. He’s keeping well, and just in case I did find him again I took him some refreshments.”

“Well I’m pleased about that, but if he had nothing he would be forced to return to us. Why doesn’t he? That’s what I can’t understand? Catherine is here his son is here, yet he seems content to stay away, and if none of those reasons weren’t good enough what about me hm? Or Mary or any other of the tunnel occupants, they are his family and they would love to have him back among us. Next time you go Dominic, will you take a letter from me, and make certain that he reads it?”

“I’ll certainly take it, whether or not he will read it remains to be seen. I’m sorry to say that Vincent appears to be quite happy living where he is, and doesn’t appear to want to return. I was even contemplating making my home down there with him so that we could be together.” Dominic looked around the chamber trying to assess what that piece of information did to everyone. There was a mixture of expressions, but in the main he was given the general impression that none of them relished that idea. “Vincent should be here, and you, Dominic you should be here also. This is your home now, among people that are coming to like and respect you.” Even though he said it Father couldn’t quite meet Dominic’s eyes, and neither did he meet Catherine’s. He might say such things, but after what Catherine had told him, he wasn’t entirely sure that he should mean them. Dominic however didn’t seem to notice, just replied ‘thank you’ and went on, “Well tomorrow I have to go up top with Catherine, and this weekend it’s the wedding, so I expect the only chance I will have to see my brother will be Wednesday. I shall stay over for the night and return on Thursday, so anything that you need to write best be done before then.”

“Right.” Father replied. Then turning in his seat directed his next question at Catherine, “And you my dear, if there is anything you would like taken down to him, feel free to have it sent to me by Tuesday night at the latest.” Catherine nodded, but she knew that anything she had to say to Vincent would best be done face to face, for certainly she would not trust Dominic as a mediator.

“I’d best be going now, Father.” Catherine rose from her seat gathering her baby bags around her and her own weekend pack, little Vincent needed far more things than she did over two days and there were several bags to carry. Dominic rose too offering to escort her, but Father noticing how uneasy that offer made Catherine told him, “Thank you Dominic, but young Geoffrey looks forward to escorting Catherine home.” He smiled Catherine’s way and she laughed, “Yes, something about the delicious hot chocolate I make with fresh cream on top and a television programme he has become interested in makes Geoffrey’s journey back with me quite appealing.”

“In that case, Dominic gestured his intention to leave, “I will see you tomorrow, shall I come to your home or would you prefer to meet me somewhere up top?”

“If you can tell me what time you might be arriving into the park I could have a taxi pick you up from there and take you to the bank where I can be waiting outside. I didn’t give a definite time to the bank manager, but shall we say eleven o’clock, would that be enough time for you to get to the park?” Catherine asked. She wasn’t relishing the following day out with Dominic, but the least time she spent alone with him the better, and in a public place she would feel happier meeting him.

“Yes, eleven will be fine. I’ll wait on the corner by the lake. You know near the statue? What name will you give him to ask for?”

“Good question. What name do you wish to be known by?”

Father listening in was just about to suggest Wells, when Dominic stunned him by replying without hesitation, “Oh Pater of course, after all that is my name. Come to that it is Vincent’s rightful name also. You should set about having it changed from the name of Wells.” Father almost died. He could hardly breathe and certainly could find nothing to say at the time, but Catherine stepped in, “That would be true had Vincent not been legally adopted by Father, and given the name of Wells, and with no rightful parents to contest the adoption, Wells it will stay unless Vincent wishes otherwise.”

Father remained silent, Catherine he knew, was bluffing there had never been a legal adoption for Vincent. Believing him to be a foundling had made that unnecessary. Still Dominic did not know that and he believed it hook, line and sinker, even so he replied, “Then I must speak to my brother, have him seek the way to change his name. He is a Pater, and my father would be proud to know that he finally became one, so too any children that are born from Vincent.” Dominic looked directly at Catherine as he said this, and she snapped hotly, “Over my dead body!” The look that Dominic passed her seemed to implicate that would not be a problem, and Catherine shuddered as she noticed those eyes again, the ones so reminiscent of Vincent’s and so like Paracelsus, it was uncanny and exceedingly alarming how they could resemble two people like that, two very different people, even though they were father and son. Catherine decided there and then that Vincent must have taken after Anna, with her mild and gentle spirit and perhaps from time to time the wild and wicked streak of his father dominated Vincent when he would become associated with the dark one, it was the perfect answer to the person that Vincent was. Dominic appeared to have inherited his mother’s gentle nature but Catherine wondered how much of that was just a ploy to gain the trust of innocent people that he could manipulate at will later just the way his father had done countless times.

Father however, came to Catherine’s defence this time, “Actually Catherine has a point Dominic, as long as she and Vincent remain unmarried she can give the child any name that she chooses she doesn’t even have to have his father named on the birth certificate.”

“I expect that by now, you have had his birth registered, and it will show the father’s name?” Dominic asked. Catherine wanted to shout ‘what business is it of yours?’ but instead sensing a trap whichever way she replied opted for the lesser one and the truth, “Actually no, I haven’t. To all intents and purposes I do not have this child. It would pose all kinds of problems if I should let the authorities and my work colleagues and friends know I have a child and they never get to see him. Only Elliot and Jenny are aware of his existence as well as everyone down here. But if I could have him registered I would of named Vincent as his father.”

Strangely Dominic said nothing, his eyes however told Catherine that he was thinking very deeply about things, and that unnerved her further giving her the distinct impression that what she had told him had pleased him, though she could not for the life of her decide why. Finally she sighed deeply, “Anyway, all this is by the by, and I really must be getting home. I will meet you at the bank tomorrow Dominic, dress for the occasion as best you can okay?” With that she walked across to Father and kissed him goodbye, the after he had bestowed a final few kisses to his grandson’s cheeks Father watched her leave the chamber where Geoffrey waited anxiously outside, knowing if they didn’t hurry he would miss the start of his favourite programme. Dominic left also, parting company with Catherine outside in the tunnel and heading in the direction of his chamber. For a few moments more Catherine watched him go and then deciding she would never really fathom him out, she walked along with Geoffrey who carried her bags and together they headed for her home.

*** *** ***

With the final weekend now gone Vincent picked up his journal ready to close a chapter in his life. ‘This time next week Catherine will be married to Elliot’ he wrote and paused trying to imagine what her life would be like then. It wasn’t difficult, for what he knew of Elliot Burch told him that he like Catherine enjoyed the glittering world of social gatherings and Catherine in a myriad of poses wearing all manner of stunning ball gowns flitted to mind. Strangely the thought was appealing, and Vincent remembered the many gowns he had already admired her in, wondering if she still possessed those particular gowns or if Elliot had treated her to a new wardrobe by now, with new jewellery to match. In turn that led him to wonder about the engagement ring Elliot would have bought for her, no crystal from a subterranean world that, likely it would be a diamond’s are forever cluster that signified Elliot’s love for his bride to be. Then putting down his pen Vincent wondered what Catherine’s thoughts were at that moment, and if she thought about him anymore finally deciding that Catherine was probably far too busy to think of much at all except her upcoming marriage to Elliot Burch.

It was strange though, how Catherine had turned to Elliot, had borne him a child and had agreed to marry him, especially when in between Vincent reasoned she had made love with him twice each time declaring undying love for him. Perhaps Dominic had been right, perhaps Catherine’s marriage to Elliot was for the sake of the child only and both would allow infidelity to take place within their marriage with other people as they saw fit. Vincent didn’t hold with such a modern marriage and he never believed that Catherine would either, still mistakes had a way of changing things, and it was possible that their child was the only thing holding the couple together. His thoughts then were directed to his making love to Catherine, and wondering if she might expect that to continue. It was possible that with her social status and marriage to Elliot and with her professed love for him, she might visit the tunnels regularly hoping that they could continue to have an intimate relationship, and strange Vincent did not find that as bad as he thought he might except once he did decide to return to the hub any time that Catherine stayed over would make it harder and harder to let her go back to Elliot at the end of the weekend. And there was another thing, what if, during his absence from the hub something had happened whereby Catherine had promised Elliot she would marry him if he didn’t do such or such a thing, as had happened before with the building of Elliot’s dream tower. He had refused her offer then, but would he a second time? If such things were so, it would throw a completely new light on what Catherine was about to do, but if she was marrying out of some kind of misguided duty to the tunnels, then why hadn’t Dominic enlightened him of it? It was possible his brother didn’t know what root lay at the bottom of Catherine’s marriage to Elliot, but Vincent was certain if the tunnels were in trouble at Elliot’s hand then surely Dominic would have mentioned it?

Vincent might have concluded all manner of things regarding the upcoming wedding of the year of Manhattan’s most eligible bachelor and the only daughter of the late Charles Chandler before the day was out, but just as he was beginning to update his journal further the sound of footsteps were heard in the tunnel beyond his new chamber. Pen poised mid air, Vincent expected at any moment to see his brother striding through the entrance though he did not expect him until mid week, and was therefore stunned when not the tall figure of Dominic appeared but rather a figure stooped low and huddled into a shawl that Vincent instantly recognised as being Narcissa.

She stared when she clapped eyes on him even though her dreams had told her that he would be there, she had hoped on the long journey up that she would be mistaken, and as he rose to greet her, she cried, “Child why are you here?”

“Narcissa, come sit. The way is long you should not have made such a journey. I would have come to you, you only need to send word?”

“By whom?” Narcissa asked derisively, “Do you think your brother would have carried it? A brother that doesn’t even know I am still alive? Do you think anyone from the tunnels would have delivered a message from a ghost, hum?” She laughed and Vincent did too, of course no one but he knew her to be alive. “I’m sorry Narcissa, of course there is no way of you and I contacting one another unless one of us makes the journey, and I fear I have neglected my duties in that way. Forgive me, is there anything that you need?”

“Everything!” Narcissa exclaimed, “I have run out of everything, and since seeing me would cause a great deal of stress, I decided to leave the telling of that particular news to you, young man. I take it you will report to the father for me, that I have escaped the grave?” She chuckled but her face became sombre when she noticed Vincent’s expression. “Is there a problem, child?”

“Yes. Narcissa I haven’t seen Father since before he pronounced me dead and lay me in the grave.”

“You mean you haven’t returned to the hub, still?”

“I have returned, but saw no one but Catherine, that is no one but Catherine saw me. Dominic, of course knows I am here, but that is all. What? Why the look, Narcissa? Is something wrong.” Narcissa’s face seemed disapproving when he had mentioned his brother’s name.

“I don’t trust Dominic.” She told him sincerely, “I know I should not speak ill of your brother, but Vincent, he is different to you. He has more of his father in him, you should be careful that’s all I say.”

Vincent was surprised, Dominic had been nothing but kind to him, except in those first days, but then that was to be expected, since Dominic had no alternative but to fabricate an amazing story in order to have Vincent stay with him and Vincent had long forgiven him for that.

“It is not your brother I came to talk to you about though,” Narcissa sat at the nearest chair, “I wish to talk about you. You should not be here Vincent, you should be above with Catherine.”

Shaking his head, Vincent replied, “No, Narcissa. Catherine is getting married at the weekend to Elliot Burch, so there is no reason for me to return for Catherine’s sake.”

Narcissa was surprised and said so, “My visions have not revealed this to me. I saw Elliot yes, marrying yes, but not Catherine, it is not Catherine that will become his bride, child it is another woman. The one with dark hair.”

“No Narcissa you are mistaken. Dominic has been invited to the wedding even today he and Catherine are shopping for clothes for him to wear on Saturday he is to be one of her guests he told me so.”

Adamantly, Narcissa shook her head, “It is you that is wrong Vincent. Believe me, Catherine is marrying no one, except maybe you.”

“I wish that were so.” Vincent replied sadly, “But wishing will not make it happen. Catherine will marry the father of her child and that is all there is to it.”

“That is what I said.” Narcissa told him. “Catherine will marry the father of her child, why do you try to trip me with riddles, child?”

Exasperated Vincent gazed at the old woman trying to work her out. What had just been said made little sense, and he felt that perhaps she was just so tired from the long journey and possibly from famine that she didn’t know what she was saying. “Here, Narcissa have some of the refreshments Dominic brought for me yesterday. There is ham and cheese, bread, and we can heat up some broth. You must be hungry and then you can rest while I go in search of some more provisions for you. Its possible I can get in and out of William’s store without him noticing. I always could before.”

Narcissa chuckled, “That would be most appreciated, child. Will you carry the supplies back to my chamber too?”

“Of course Narcissa, that goes without saying, I may even stay a few days. If Dominic comes in my absence he will leave the supplies and return again on Sunday when I will be back, or I may stay with you longer.” Vincent had a sudden thought Dominic would be bringing news of the wedding with him when he came on Sunday, and Vincent knew he didn’t want to hear about it, not right now. Perhaps not ever, it was bad enough imagining it happening, let alone knowing that it had.

“As you like child, you are more than welcome.” Narcissa broke a chunk of bread from a loaf and spreading it with butter plonked on top a large slice of sweet cheese. Her smile of satisfaction pleased Vincent. “You stay here and keep warm, eat all you need and I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Narcissa nodded, but said nothing, her concentration taken up on eating. She was starved it had been two days since she had eaten the last stale crust of bread in her chamber one of the reasons why she didn’t want people presuming she was dead any longer. With no way of contacting Vincent, she was literally on her own down there, and though she liked her own company, it was quite another knowing that no one knew that she was there to keep an eye on her and to keep her supplied with stores. Vincent had gone before she had reminded him of that, and so Narcissa wished that he would remember to tell someone that she had survived with a kind of telepathy that she had used in the past, but something told her as of late, so too now, Vincent’s mind was blocking her. He was one troubled spirit and Narcissa could easily see that. Perhaps a week spent in her company would change all of that, or more to the point perhaps a week spent out of Dominic’s company would change all of that.

*** *** ***

Shortly after eleven thirty, the taxi pulled up outside the bank as arranged, and stepping from the back passenger seat, Catherine gasped at the sight of Dominic, again so reminiscent of Vincent that her heart lurched, but though she had expected that it might, to actually see those long tawny locks beneath bright summer sunshine was almost too much for her. Oh how she wished he were Vincent, and to top it all close by was an ice cream stall, and she was forcibly reminded of the dream she had had long ago and of she and Vincent buying ice cream and no one looking twice at him. Oh if only Dominic was Vincent, or if only Vincent looked like his brother, life was the puts sometimes. Why oh why had the most beautiful one been the one to be different and have so many things denied him? Why could it not have been Dominic who looked like a beast? Dominic who resided in darkness would have been at home underground even if forced to do so.

Even so, despite her thoughts Catherine managed a smile and a welcome, as she ushered Dominic through the huge automatic doors of the bank surprising a chuckle from herself at his stunned look of amazement to find the doors opening before him as he stood on the step outside. “Wow,” he told her, “I like that!”

“My world is full of surprises Dominic, I tend to take them for granted. Its only when I see them through the eyes of someone like you, that I appreciate just what we do have up here. Come, the manager’s office is on the first floor, I rang him earlier and he is expecting us.” Catherine deliberately took Dominic to the escalator anticipating his response to that, and he was stunned so much that he found it difficult actually stepping onto the moving staircase, until Catherine grabbed his arm and tugged him to stand on it. He kept looking back and holding on for dear life, and it made Catherine laugh out loud deciding that maybe she might enjoy a day out in his company after all.

The meeting with the bank was straightforward. Dominic hadn’t given it much thought but he was surprised when everything was done after a few well-placed signatures. He was then handed some documents and using Catherine’s address as his own, the manager told him that he would be receiving a chequebook and a personal identification number separately within seven working days. That done, coming down the escalator was even funnier to Catherine than going up had been, and absolutely impossible and there was no way Dominic was riding down on that, until Catherine again tugged him very forcibly and made him do so. She thought he would laugh when he saw how easy it actually was, and so when they got to the bottom and he recovered enough to speak, Catherine was surprised to hear him tell her, “Never do that again!”

“What?” She smiled laughing just a little, “What do you mean?”

“You pulled me onto the thing.” His eyes were mere slits of china fire and Catherine felt a shudder run through her. “You’re joking right?” She asked nervously, and Dominic shook his head. “I told you I didn’t want to use it, and you ignored me!”

“Only because there is nothing to it, Dominic. As you saw, you were perfectly safe. Nothing untoward has happened to you, and I’m sorry but unless you get over the fear of riding the escalator now, the rest of the day will be an absolute waste of time, since all the stores have this mode of transport to upper floors, well there’s the elevator, but I thought you might find them a little claustrophobic to use.” Under her breath Catherine added ‘and to me in your company.’

“In that case, I apologise.” Dominic told her, “I did not realise we would encounter any others. Shall we go? I’m eager to buy some clothes.” And that was well proven when hours later he and Catherine had purchased two suits several shirts and complimentary ties and some new sweatshirts and jeans a pair of which he told her would be for Vincent.

“I’d like to buy so much for Vincent,” Catherine told him, “But Vincent would never allow me to spend my money on him. Perhaps when you get your chequebook and access to your account, you could give him enough money for himself, then you could buy things for him and he wouldn’t feel quite so bad about accepting them.” Dominic was silent for a time, pretending to be concerned with counting the money he had left from his shopping spree from the thousand dollars the bank manager had kindly allowed him to withdraw that morning. Finally he told Catherine, “I’ve spoken to Vincent about that. He did not seem to like the idea of having anything to do with our father’s money. In fact he was quite nasty about it.”

Catherine nodded, yes she could understand that Parcelsus held no love for Vincent, she should have known he would never except anything from his so called father but she said nothing on the subject, knowing not what to say, instead asking if he would like to go somewhere to eat. They hadn’t stopped spending since they had left the bank at midday and Catherine for one was starving and so they embarked upon another delight for Dominic…hamburgers and fries!

“Oh this is delicious!” Dominic took another huge bit from a double cheeseburger and reached for a handful of fries, “How can you sit there and eat that stuff?” He asked looking critically at Catherine’s plate of salad with a baked jacket potato covered in grated cheese. “I like it and besides, if I ate hamburgers, my clothes wouldn’t fit by tomorrow. I don’t have time for keeping fit like I used to do. Once the park was a favourite jaunt of mine for jogging and I rarely have time for the gym these days. Little Vincent is very time consuming.”

“What will you do with him on Saturday? Leave him with Father?”

“Oh yes absolutely actually I will leave him from Friday night, I promised to help Jenny with her preparations Saturday morning at her house. I probably won’t see my son until Sunday morning. Where shall I meet you on Saturday, shall I send a car to the park again?”

“Yes, thank you. The wedding is at twelve is it not?”

“Yes, but you should arrive by eleven thirty at the latest. The church will be packed but you have a seat reserved near the front. Jenny told me to tell you that you are welcome to attend the reception after ward, the food will be delicious, though I have to warn you there will be no hamburgers there.”

Dominic grimaced, “Then perhaps I will not enjoy it.” Catherine thought he was joking but he looked deadly serious and told him, “there will be some wonderful food, Elliot will go out of his way to make certain of that, you will love whatever is on offer.”

“Even so, I may only stay a short while, or I may leave after the wedding. All this is new to me Catherine, and I am sure I will be more than a little overwhelmed.” Catherine nodded, “As you like, but know that you are welcome whatever you decide.”

“Thank you Catherine. Now, what is this I see on the menu, can I have one of those too?”

“You can fit it in?” Catherine laughed, “Well yes if you are still hungry. With the way you wolfed that lot down I’d have had indigestion by now. Hold on.” Catherine raised her hand thus catching the waitresses attention and when she came over to the table, Dominic pointed to the chocolate sundae on the menu and asked for the largest one they had. Then when it was served, Catherine felt sick just watching him eat it, and he still wasn’t done. A round of cherry pancakes fresh and ice cream later Dominic finally lay down his napkin and admitted defeat. “I’m stuffed.” He told a delighted waitress who reminded him of their opening hours and suggested he soon called again. “I might just do that.” He told her grinning then turning to Catherine asked, “Did I imagine it or did she just wink at me?”

Catherine laughed out loud, “You didn’t imagine it, I think you’ve scored a hit with that one Dominic.” And who could blame the woman, Dominic was very good looking and like Vincent in many ways but his looks, exceedingly charming and endearing to those that met him. The waitress was indeed hooked as she passed Dominic her telephone number written on a small card on their way out.

“I might just call her one evening.” Dominic announced as he placed the slim card in his jacket pocket, “Bout time I had a date.”

The rest of the day went easily enough, and Catherine lost her distrust of Dominic. He gave her no more cause for concern and finally when she bundled his parcels into a taxi he had just stepped into they parted on good terms promising to meet on the Saturday if not before and Dominic held out a hand to her over his bags of shopping before closing the back door of the cab. “Thank you Catherine, I have truly enjoyed today.”

“Likewise. Be Well Dominic.”

“Be Well, Catherine.” Then to the driver announced, “Central Park, please. The scenic route.”

Catherine laughed out loud and together they waved at one another as the taxi pulled away. “Well that wasn’t so bad Cathy.” She told herself as she headed toward her brownstone. “Perhaps you have got Dominic all wrong.” And with that thought in mind, Catherine dismissed everything she had surmised about the man from previous occasions and started looking forward to the weekend more than she had since he had told her he would be delighted to come to Elliot and Jenny’s wedding.

*** *** ***

Home at last, back in the tunnels, Dominic reflected on his day. He had enjoyed Catherine’s company far more than he had anticipated and due to the ease with which they had fallen into one another’s company Catherine had told him things he had wanted desperately to know without his even fishing for them. Dominic was happy. This weekend he would have everything that he had ever wanted. In just a few days more his lifetime’s ambition would be realised. Dominic smiled cunningly and believing his father could see everything still, Dominic whispered softly, “Anytime now father, you’ll see. I’ll make you so proud of me and I will not fail where you did so many times. I promise father, before this time next week, I will have brought home the son of your son and I promise you this…never ever will anyone take him away from us.”

*** *** ***

To be continued in chapter seventeen