Two hours later when Catherine arrived at the home chambers Vincent was waiting for her and had already decided just how far to take the evening. Reminding himself that Catherine was no different to the other members of his community he took up her hand in his and with a picnic basket prepared by William over his other arm, the pair set off toward the falls. He remained somewhat sceptical about Jenny’s insistence that Catherine and he were inextricably linked somehow, but he had accepted its possibilities since his own dreams had attested to a similar fact ever since Catherine had entered his life. Not only that but a few visits to Narcissa the witchy woman of the tunnels as Father fondly called her had also seen a future for him with Catherine.
With her hand in his, Vincent said little, and unable to look down at her afraid for what he might see, they finally reached the falls and climbed up to the ledge where a prior visit had brought several blankets and cushions to lie upon.
“You sit here, Catherine. I expect Jenny will be delayed and someone will escort her when she arrives. Can I pour you some wine?”
“Yes, that would be lovely.” Catherine smiled. All nervousness of this man had been dispelled long ago she was at ease with him and looked around her with awe. “This place never fails to thrill me Vincent, to think that above they believe Niagara to be our closest falls when there is this one right below them, amazing!”
“Our world has some beautiful treasures you have yet to see, Catherine. One day I should like to take you and Jenny to see the crystal cavern. It is quite a walk though, you would both need to take at least two days off from work.”
“Then a weekend would do it!” Catherine exclaimed.
“Ordinarily yes, but I fear that after all that walking the pair of you would want the weekend to recover.” He chuckled and Catherine did too, thus they fell easy with one another as they sat side by side sipping their wine.
“Tell me about your world Vincent? Suddenly I feel that I do not know it as well as I thought.”
“There is so much to tell, it would take all evening, however should I just tell you about the places that I favour?”
Catherine smiled and nodded, “Yes, please do.”
It took quite a while to tell Catherine of all the places Vincent cherished and his reasons for doing so, and soon an hour had passed. Catherine’s eyes were dancing as Vincent brought to life the places she had never seen and the tales of his exploits around them with his brother Devin, whom she had never met. “You’re brother sounds like the sort of match Jenny would be interested in, talking of which…” Catherine glanced back to the area where they had entered to sit by the falls, “I wonder what’s keeping her?” While inside she told herself, ‘way to go, Jen.’
“I’m sure she will come if she is able.” Vincent remarked casually, “More wine, Catherine?”
“Yes, thank you. And I must say these cookies are fabulous, please tell William for me. You know he would have no trouble getting a job in a bakery up top. He’d be snapped up the moment they sampled his cookies. Does he have a secret recipe?”
Vincent chuckled, “He says it’s all to do with the draughts down here. Just the right amount of air to make his pastries rise.”
Catherine laughed, “Is that what it is, well he’s certainly got plenty of those.” And as if to prove her point she shivered.
“A little, but I don’t want to leave here just yet.”
“We don’t have to leave.” Her eyes caught his as he shuffled behind her to extract a blanket from a pile he had left there earlier and their gazes locked for a moment. So close, Catherine was certain he could hear her heart beating rapidly in expectation, and then fleetingly wondered what it was she expected from him. The look in his eyes was filled with a myriad of expressions difficult to grasp, but for a certainty she saw a flash of hope, a flare of desire. The latter sent her blood thundering through her veins at an alarming rate, and he was almost lost when he saw his name tremble off her lips.
“Catherine.” He whispered, his lips inches from hers. His heart pounded, it would take minimum effort to close the gap that separated them but did she want it? Though they had spent an enjoyable evening together, though they had laughed and responded to one another warmly a kiss might just go beyond the boundaries he had set for himself that evening, however as he hesitated Catherine shifted, moving forward to close the inch or two that separated their mouths and brushed her lips with his and Vincent was lost. His arms came around her and he enfolded her close, slanting his mouth to hers capturing her lips in love’s first kiss and felt her compliant and warm in his embrace. His world spun, never had he tasted anything so delectable, he wanted more and thrust his tongue deep into her honeyed depths eager to taste her further. Never had Catherine been so roused so quickly by a mere kiss and she delved into his open mouth with a tongue warm and seeking, thus their mouths danced in a rhapsody of fire until even that was not nearly enough. “Vincent…” Catherine moaned his name into his mouth pulling him closer quickly losing sight of her senses. Where they were they could so easily be seen, here was not the place for what she had in mind, as suddenly she realised Jenny had been right, Vincent was the man for her. A little strange, a little different true, but nothing could prevent the knowledge forming that Jenny had been right, she and Vincent were destined to be together.
“Catherine…we should stop.” He husked against her throat only just managing seconds before to pull his lips from hers.
“I don’t want to stop.” Catherine told him and felt him shudder, “We can’t hold back the tide Vincent, you know this is meant to be.”
“Yes.” He buried his face in her hair inhaling the scent of roses before seeking the delicious honey of her lips again and taking her onto another journey where the world spiralled away.
“Oh God, Vincent…” Her needs were growing and through the bond that they shared he matched her stroke for stroke, never had he felt like this before, never had he been so powerless to resist.
“If you are sure?” He whispered needing to know her answer more than anything.
“Yes, I’m sure.” Suddenly the need for him was almost too colossal to bear and she whimpered with joy when he managed to stand and pull her up with him, lifting her effortless in his arms intent on carrying her to some other secret place he knew of…when…a cheery greeting sounded from below.
“Catherine? Vincent? Are you still here?” Immediately both recognised Jenny’s voice and she would forever after kick herself that she had decided to put in an appearance after all for vanities sake. Vincent let go of Catherine, and she fell crooked at his feet managing to right herself without too much trouble in time to meet Jenny climbing up the steps leading to the ledge. “Hey you don’t have to both stand on my account.” Jenny arrived a little puffed, “Or were you just leaving?”
The glance that passed between the couple worried Jenny, as she looked up at them from where she had sat down on the blanket at their feet, and wondered if she had disturbed something, but in no way thought it had been something like that! “Oh you two haven’t argued have you? Look come and tell Auntie Jenny all about it, maybe I can help iron the problem out.”
Catherine started to sit down next to her friend, but Vincent they noticed remained aloof. By the set look on his face Jenny could not tell what his problem was, but it worried Catherine. He looked furious, or maybe just frustrated. She knew that feeling and was furious with Jenny for turning up when she had. “I think we should go, Jen.”
“Go? But I’ve only just arrived and I’m starving.” She bit into one of William’s delectable cookies, “Mm, I’ve waited all evening for this.” The atmosphere around her was brittle but she failed to notice and that was unusual for Jenny, ordinarily she would have picked up on it straight away. “Say are you two finished here, there’s tons left?”
“Take the basket home with you.” Vincent announced before striding away from the two women causing Jenny’s mouth to drop open in astonishment. He sounded almost hostile and it amazed her to see Catherine get up and run after him calling, “Vincent, wait!”
From her vantage point Jenny could see the couple talking heatedly, but the sound of the falls obliterated their words so she did not know that they discussed what had just taken place between them.
“Jenny’s timing was perfect, Catherine. To think what we almost did!” His blue eyes were pained, “I’m sorry Catherine but I think it’s best if we didn’t see one another again.”
“No, Vincent…please…When I get Jenny to myself I shall give her a piece of my mind…of all the stupid moments to turn up…and she says she can see things in advance…well she didn’t see this one coming…”
“Exactly. And that she didn’t means it was wrong, out of balance, out of time. I was fooled into believing that her visions about the two of us signified that we should be together, but Catherine it would be wrong…we are too different…I am what I am and you are so beautiful…I hate myself for what I contemplated doing with you. Things I have never done with another soul let alone ever considered.”
“I suppose I should be honoured then.” Catherine smiled, but Vincent would not be drawn in, he just stared down at her until he saw the the light of love in her eyes and had to look away. “Oh Vincent, don’t be sorry, what we did, what we started was beautiful. And though I confess my reasons for coming here tonight was not strictly honourable what happened between us when it came was not abhorrent to me. God Vincent you set my soul aflame. I’ve never been kissed like that in my life!”
He almost relented at the sincerity in her eyes, but managed to remain steadfast when he announced, “I’m going back to my chamber now Catherine. I will see you and Jenny back to the main hub and have someone escort you out of the tunnels, but please know this, I do not want to see you again. What we have between us is far too dangerous and I could hurt you badly. I’m sorry, you don’t know how sorry, but it has to be this way.”
She would have argued but Catherine could see it would have been useless. His mind was made up, but then so was hers. What they had started that evening was the beginning of their future, the one that Jenny had seen for them and nothing he said would make her forget about it. She’d give it a few days and then she would visit and she would wear him down but by bit until he accepted that they were meant to be together. For after the evening she had spent with him Catherine knew that she never wanted to be anywhere else but by his side. She was his and he was hers forever.
*** *** ***
Jenny was distraught when she discovered what she had interrupted, “Oh Cathy, I’m so sorry. I can’t believe I did that!” She watched her friend pace the living room for the hundredth time happy to see that at least the ranting had stopped when finally Catherine flopped herself wearily onto one of her sofas.
“I’m only sorry that I didn’t believe you, Jen. Oh God when I think of his lips on mine…honestly Jen, I’ve never been kissed like that in all my life. And want him so…oh Jen, I wanted him so much I want him still, I ache for him. Oh Jen, what am I to do? He refuses to see me again. Come on you who have all the answers speak to me.”
Jenny shook her head, “All I know is that it will come right in the end. I can see it Cathy, you and Vincent and there is a child. I know it could be any child, but that he looks like Vincent makes me conclude that he is your child, the one you created between you. Cathy, I’m sorry for what I did, but maybe that was meant to be too, maybe had he of taken you somewhere he might never have forgiven himself, perhaps you aren’t to have a child out of wedlock, maybe that’s what the problem is. Maybe you both moved a little too fast. Who instigated the first kiss anyway?”
“What’s that got to do with it?” Catherine asked, then seeing the firm set of Jenny’s jaw, announced, “As it happens I did. Mind you I was sure he was contemplating it, but I actually took advantage of the situation. Why don't you think I should have done?”
“Well, in my visions it is always Vincent that makes the decision to further your relationship. Perhaps that he didn’t, means that you changed the course of the future and his emotions. I still think all will end well, but I also think we might have to face some obstacles along the way. Especially since he is aware of the facts and will be expecting something from us. We should play it cool Cathy. Give him a break, let absence make the heart grow fonder and all that. Perhaps with any luck he will miss you.”
“And perhaps it will be out of sight out of mind, have you thought of that?”
“I don’t think you will ever be out of his mind Cathy. Vincent well knows that your future and his are entwined, he just doesn’t want to see it right now. Maybe I should tell him some of the things I told you, you know about the child, maybe then he will believe.”
“And maybe not! Jen, one of the things I did learn about Vincent tonight was that he was glad that there will never be another like him and that he has no desire to pass on his genes and create a child in his image. If he knows what your visions foretell, I think he will do his utmost to defy them.”
“How do you feel about that? Having a child like him I mean?”
“Do you really need to ask? Jenny, I may have been slow accepting what you knew all along, but Vincent is beautiful. I would love a child like him, in fact more than one.”
“Well believe me you don’t have to worry on that score. The future is set, and you will have a child that looks like his father. The thing now is knowing what to do to fill in the gap, or do we simply do nothing? What do you say…should we intervene in the future or stay back and let it happen in its own time?”
“If you had experienced the things I had with Vincent there is no way you would contemplate waiting, however, I think there may be wisdom in that. In fact I think we have instigated a little too much already. The timing is wrong, Jen, I feel it in my bones. Something will happen but in its own time. I think we ought to just get on with our lives as we know it and let things take their natural course. I also think I should do as Vincent says and stay away from him in the meantime. He’s aware of the facts Jen, he’s not stupid and when the time is right it will happen and then nothing will stop us.” Catherine looked directly at Jenny when she said the last causing her friend to blush hotly, “As I said before, Cathy, I can’t apologise enough. I’m real sorry.”
“Don’t be Jen, now wasn’t the time. However at least now I know that when it is, I won’t hesitate to accept it, I love him Jen, I love Vincent. And I will wait forever if I have to and the wait will be worth it, believe me.”
Her words made Jenny feel all soft and gooey inside. She wanted to hug herself. “Okay then we’ll do nothing and let nature take its course, or in this case let destiny take its course, it won’t be easy but we’ll sit it out. Who knows, it’ll be Halloween again in a few months time, maybe that’s when destiny will strike again.”
Catherine nodded, it was possible that Jenny that was right, a year to the day since they’d met? Yes, she liked the sound of that and something told her thats how it would be.
*** *** ***
Still when the invitation arrived on the eve of Halloween, Catherine was surprised. The idea of something happening had remained constantly with her, but she had supposed that she would be out in the park after dark and she and Vincent would bump into one another and something would occur then, even though walking the park after dark on Halloween was not something she relished. So when she arrived home the night before with her Halloween costume tucked under her arm, and scooped the invitation off of the floor where it had been pushed beneath her door, Catherine was surprised to find it was from Vincent. And even more surprised to read the note within, “Now is the time. Catherine please meet me in the park tomorrow at four o’clock pm.”
That early? Catherine was surprised, surely he was wrong. It would still be reasonably light, and people would be about. People dressed for Halloween…and then she understood, of course no one would look twice at him believing him to be in costume too…a ripple of excitement ran through Catherine. She’d be there and she was sure he would appreciate her costume too.
*** *** ***
He was there waiting, not as she supposed in the confines of the storm drain but just outside of it, his amber hair gleaming in the dying autumn sun, taking her breath away. Never had his eyes looked so blue, never had he looked so striking, so beautiful, so handsome. His eyes when they looked down at her held a hint of something intangible, elusive, and his voice when he suddenly decided to pay her dress a compliment thrilled her to the core. “You look simply beautiful, Catherine. Thank you for coming.” His eyes never left hers, except maybe to flutter just the once to her lips, causing a ripple of excitement to race through her veins.
The costume she had chosen came complete with a mask, feathered and stunning, set to look like an owl, but she refrained from pulling it down over her face, keeping it instead upon her forehead. Therefore when he reached out to tug it down and his hand brushed her skin in passing Catherine shuddered and wondered about the small smile that her actions caused to play around his lips. Then with one hand to her back, he suggested that they walk the length and the breadth of the park together.
Catherine was quiet throughout most of that journey, his presence overwhelming her entirely acutely aware of the hand placed upon her back still, comforting, intimate until finally unable to withstand it any longer Catherine turned to face him beneath the shadow of a wall covered with ivy. There she told him sincerely, “I love you Vincent.”
He gasped, the indrawn breath held tight before a slow and painful release, his eyes never leaving hers. “You love me?” Catherine nodded at his whispered response, her eyes luminous her lips quivering, just begging to be kissed. He did not disappoint her, “Oh Catherine…” bringing his lips to hers Catherine thought she might faint when she felt the first touch of his mouth on hers. The world spiralled away from before her, leaving nothing but him and her together.
After a long time they drew reluctantly apart, and Vincent, she could see was trembling. Catherine hugged him close needing to be near again, never wanting to be apart from him again. “Would you like to come up to my apartment?” She asked him timidly.
He hadn’t thought of that, but the idea was sound, “Yes, I’d like that. Thank you.” They turned and walked arm in arm toward the street, not even worrying about the likes of Gabriel, feeling certain that on a night like this, he simply would not spoil what destiny had mapped for them.
They were right, they did not yet know it, but Gabriel had met his own demise several weeks earlier. He would never bother them again. They were safe.
“Come in.” It felt strange bringing Vincent to her home, even stranger to him that he had taken the elevator and stepped into her apartment as though it were an every day occurrence. Still it did not feel right, this was not his home, and he hoped that for a limited time only now it would continue to be hers.
“I have something to ask you.” Vincent told Catherine as she closed the door, and to his delight started lighting candles set in pumpkins all around the room, before switching off the overhead lights that hurt his eyes.
“What is it? Would you like to sit down?”
“Can we go outside onto the balcony?”
“Of course. I’m sure you will enjoy the view. Though I have a feeling it will not be new to you. Father has told me about your rooftop vigils and I should think eighteen floors up will be tame to you.”
Vincent chuckled, reaching her side and the hand she extended into his as they stepped together onto the balcony.
“So what is it you wish to ask me?” In close proximity to him Catherine’s heart thundered in her chest. A need was creeping through her veins and she didn’t think she could stand it for much longer. He was gorgeous and she wanted to let him know it.
“Firstly, your friend Jenny seems to believe that we have a future together.” He told her softly.
“Yes, and we can’t escape it even if we wanted, Jenny is never wrong.” Catherine chuckled letting him see that she was happy with her friend’s vision.
“Narcissa is the same. Father told you of her did he not?” Catherine nodded surprised nonetheless that another had seen the two of them together in such a way. Catherine wondered if Narcissa knew about the child.
“Narcissa seems to think that we will have a child together.” Catherine gasped. “And how do you view that, Vincent…you told me that…”
“That I would not want a child in my image? Yes I know, but we cannot fight destiny, my love. What will be, will be.” Again Catherine gasped and then because she felt compelled to say so told him, “I love you so much, Vincent.”
His eyes softened at her omission and he held her close, whispering in her ear, “I love you too, Catherine.” Before pulling back and searching her eyes hoping to find acceptance there. When he did, he leaned in to take her lips beneath his and the fire cracked and blazed in both their veins until Vincent had to resolutely force himself back from her arms before he was lost to his emotions.
“Catherine…will you marry me.”
“Oh.” Her heart thudded painfully beneath her breast. She had not expected this, but then…”Yes, oh yes! Vincent, I will marry you.” She had not needed time to find an answer it was there spontaneously, and she would love to be his wife.
Smiling down at her, Vincent released the breath he had been holding drawing a chuckle from her, “thought I would refuse you, huh?” She smiled and kissed his lips, “Not a chance my love.” Vincent chuckled.
“I can’t believe this is happening to me Catherine. Are you sure you are so beautiful…and I’m…”
“So beautiful.” Catherine finished for him and at the shake of his head reiterated, “Yes you are. You are beautiful, to me, to others that know you. God Vincent I adore you.”
He chuckled meekly, as if he didn’t believe but was grateful for the praise nonetheless. “I have something for you, from my world. From the crystal cavern, remember I mentioned it to you?”
Catherine nodded and watched mesmerised as from the folds of his cloak he took a box, opened it and produced a ring set with solitaire crystal and taking up the third finger of her left hand slipped it on. “Now we are engaged.” She told him with a smile, Vincent nodded, “Yes my Catherine, now we are engaged. And I’d like very much if you would come below with me now to announce our intention to marry to my family.”
“I’m so happy Vincent, and of course I’ll come below, but there is one thing I must do first, do you mind, but I have to ring Jenny?”
Vincent smiled, “Of course you do.” Understanding at once he let go of his truelove long enough for her to make the call to Jenny’s cell phone.
“Hi Catherine, I thought you were going out this evening? I've just arrived at that resturant I told you about.”
“Have you? Well I did go out and I will do again but right now, Vincent is here.”
“At your apartment! Cathy, have you and he been…well you know?” In her minds eye Catherine imagined Jenny’s blush.
“No, something better.”
“Something better? Better than that! What?”
“I’ll let Vincent tell you.” Passing the receptacle to her truelove, Catherine bid him tell Jenny of their news.
“Yes, Vincent, hi. What’s going on?” Jenny knew something wonderful was happening and she held her breath in anticipation.
“I’ve asked Catherine to marry me and she has agreed.” He withdrew the receiver from his ear as Jenny’s whoop of delight almost deafened him.
“Vincent, you still there?”
Placing it back to his ear, Vincent confirmed, “Yes, should I take it that you approve?” Catherine giggled at the look on his face, it was so smug.
“Approve? Vincent! Its wonderful…oh Vincent, congratulations… whatever changed your mind?”
“Nothing although…” He reached for Catherine’s hand as he continued to speak to Jenny, he wanted Catherine to hear this too, he wanted her to share in the knowledge of what had made him decide finally to believe what Jenny and Narcissa had maintained all along. "...strangely enough, I did not plan to ask Catherine to marry me tonight, but for some reason as I was leaving home, Mouse handed me a crystal that I had brought back for Catherine from the crystal cavern two weeks ago and asked him to polish it as a gift for her. On my way to the park I examined it, surprised to find that he had fashioned it into a ring. That startled me, but knowing that I should allow destiny to carry me along, I let it be. I waited for Catherine in the park. Everywhere was still, despite the fact that people were about, it was as if I’d been enfolded in my own little cocoon where everything was made of magic and then I saw Catherine coming to me from out of the mist across the park, and oh Jenny…she took my breath away…and I realised in that instance…just how much I loved her…” He turned to Catherine then, squeezing her hand and smiling, showing his sincerity and just what she meant to him by the look of love in his eyes.
“And?” Jenny asked excitedly.
“And when she told me that she loved me…well it all fell into place…you could say…that on a night like this…I was bewitched…and I suddenly knew the truth of everything that you and Narcissa had maintained…that Catherine and I were one. Destiny had entwined our futures together so who was I to fight it any longer?”
“And so you asked her to marry you?”
“And she said yes. What without any hesitation?”
Vincent chuckled, “Yes.”
“Oh Vincent…put her on will you, I just have to extend my congratulations.”
Listening to the two women speaking Vincent felt immensely proud of the moment, they spoke at length about bridesmaids, and dresses, and flowers, things he had not even begun to imagine…and set his own thoughts whirling away with possibilities. Father officiating, the Master blessing, Devin as best man, William baking a three tiered cake…their honeymoon…their honeymoon…their honeymoon…. For some reason he could not think past that occasion and was filled with a need and a longing so strong that he was doubtful that he would even make it that far, until finally Catherine, seeming to suspect something via their connection took pity on him and promised Jenny she would be in touch as soon as possible. “I’m going below now Jen, come down whenever you can. In fact help me shift some of my stuff down there will you?”
Jenny agreed and finally the call was ended, leaving Catherine to look up at Vincent with all the love she felt for him apparent in her eyes. “I’m all yours now my love. Are you ready to take me home?”
Sweeping her into his arms Vincent carried her from the apartment into the elevator and back outside to the park where they ran hand in hand across the grass laughing like children until they reached the storm drain where once again Vincent swept Catherine off her feet to kiss her passionately with all the love he felt for her, and then prepared to carry her all the way down to his world when she stopped him, “One moment, baby, there’s something I have to do.”
Setting her down Vincent was bemused as he watched Catherine walk back out into the night hold her face to the stars whisper something, then return to him smiling happily.
“What did you do?” He asked with wonder as they finally set foot inside the tunnels toward her new home at last.
“We thanked Jenny, and we’ll thank Narcissa, but there was just someone we didn’t thank…so I did it for us…” She chuckled and linking his arm with hers told him, “Vincent, I just thanked whomsoever else was responsible for the night I was bewitched.”
Beside her Vincent stopped, turned and taking her lead went back out into the night, and there beneath a sky bursting with stars he whispered to whomsoever was listening…'thank you…thank you…thank you…'