Vivaldi Revisited
(from Conzine 2004)

Chick-pea Ragaini

Vincent spotted Catherine at the end of the tunnel. Her head thrown back and her eyes closed, she was apparently lost in the music. He stared at her and sighed. He anxiously checked his clothes for an instant and then started down the tunnel he had come from, as if contemplating leaving before she could see him. Suddenly, he stopped and turned around, perspiration evident on his face. Uncertain, he moved back slowly toward the tunnel where she was standing. He paused a few feet from her and whispered, "Catherine."

She looked toward him in surprise--she had not heard him coming. She smiled radiantly at him. "I wanted you to hear this.  The whole evening is Vivaldi. So far, it's wonderful. Come." Holding her hands out to him, she urged, "Sit with me."

Vincent took her hands in both of his and helped her down to the tunnel floor, sitting beside her. After a while, she turned and looked at him, noticing for the first time his pained expression.

"Are you all right?" she asked gently.

His barely audible yes did not convince her. His eyes were constantly moving, looking at everything and nothing. She decided not to pressure him. He would tell her when he was ready.

"This part is like flying," Catherine sighed, very excited about the music.

"Flying?" he repeated.

Looking up, she added, "Yeah. Two birds...soaring...swooping...." She was waving her hands to imitate birds moving through the air. "Soaring...swooping...soaring...." Noticing again his distressed state, she asked in a concerned voice, "What?  What is it?"

Instead of replying, Vincent put his head down into his hands in a gesture of despair and frustration, mumbling, "No!...No!"

Her worry increasing tenfold, Catherine begged, "Talk to me, Vincent!"

Suddenly pulling away from her, he rose quickly and started a frantic pacing in front of her - a few paces, then a turn, a few paces, then a turn. He was losing the little control he had been able to maintain so far. Throwing his head back, he roared his frustration and stalked away from her.

Astonished, Catherine shouted his name at his retreating back. She stared at him as he moved deeper into the tunnels, away from her.

After a moment of stunned surprise, she realized something was very wrong. She had to act quickly, or Vincent would have retreated into himself. She was not going to allow him to shut her out. Not this time.

Catherine remembered the way he looked in the music chamber: his face was wet with perspiration, his eyes frantic and desperate. Even his movements appeared to lack their usual fluidity and grace. Perhaps she should talk to Father. No, it would make no sense to worry him before she had found out what disturbed Vincent.

She started running down the tunnels. Vincent had disappeared, but she trusted the bond: she knew it would unerringly guide her to him. Confident and determined, she traced Vincentís path, and after a few minutes, she spotted him at the end of a dimly lit tunnel.

"Vincent!" she shouted breathlessly.

He didnít answer and increased his pace without turning.

His behavior was unlike him. Catherine raced after him to prevent him from distancing her any further. Finally, she caught up with him, grasped his arms, and turned him around to face her. He didnít look at her and kept his head bent, his mane covering his features. She could hear his frantic breathing.

"Vincent, whatís wrong?" she asked in a barely controlled tone. "Please, you must tell me. I want to help you."

When no answer came, she shook him. "Vincent! Look at me!" She was trying to keep her worry from showing in her voice but was not sure she was succeeding.

After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, he raised his head slowly and looked at her. His stare was intense, penetrating, his pupils so dilated that no trace of blue remained.

Catherine gasped. Never before had his eyes revealed such naked desire. She was shocked. Something must have happened, something serious.

"Catherine, you must go. Leave me now, please," Vincent said in a strained and low voice. "Youíre not safe . . . with me!" A groan accompanied the last two words.

Catherine narrowed her eyes when she understood the danger Vincent was referring to. He was terrified at the idea of losing control and releasing the beast inside him. He feared his dark side would act on his instincts and take her. There. Then. Without love or tenderness.

He suddenly turned and started walking away again, but she lunged after him and roughly pinned him against the wall.

"No, Vincent. You wonít walk away from me. Not this time," she said in a demanding voice, her face pressed tightly against his back.

Taken completely by surprise, he growled and turned his head, a feral glow in his eyes. He was panting heavily, his nostrils opening and closing maddeningly, his mouth offering a glimpse of white and lethal fangs.

Catherine was fascinated. She knew she was staring at Vincentís dark side. His hair and his skin looked darker than usual, and his eyes were a bottomless black. Even his scent was different: it was primal, wild, enticing. He was glaring at her, but he was not moving at all, as if eagerly waiting for her next move.

"Youíre playing with fire, Catherine," he hissed, his upper lip lifting menacingly.

She smiled. He was trying to frighten her. ĎIt wonít work, Vincent,í she thought. Then with unexpected speed, she took his head into her hands, pulled it down, and savagely kissed his mouth.

Vincent growled against her lips and immediately deepened the kiss. His arms tightened around her in a deadly grip, his body pushing against her trembling form. He forced her mouth widely open and explored it at length, his tongue plundering without mercy, his fangs clashing with her teeth. Suddenly, he broke the kiss and pulled away to look into her eyes, his face only inches away from hers, his breath warm on her skin.

She whimpered and opened her eyes. They were stormy and unfocused, her breathing deeply labored.

"Is this what you want, Catherine?" he asked, his voice low and raspy. "You want the beast to take you . . . roughly. . .in a tunnel?" he added with a leer, a hand sliding down her back, caressing her intimately and possessively. "You have seen what I can do. You should be afraid."

His sultry voice heightened her heart beat and burned her blood. "You canít hurt me," Catherine croaked in a broken whisper. "I know you. You love me. . . and you want me as much as I want you," she added, her dilated pupils pinned on his lips. Her hands were stroking his features obsessively and finally tangled into his mane.

"Iím not like him," he added, his hand still roving her back. "Iím not gentle. Are you sure you want this. . . me?" Suddenly, his hand was on her breast, squeezing it with brashness.

Catherineís pulse quickened uncontrollably, and she emitted a mewling cry. She could not control her response. Oh God, was she doing the right thing in letting herself and Vincent be carried away? Would he regret their actions? Would he blame his dark side and forever deny their passion for each other? No! This was right. Even if this first encounter was going to be a bit wilder and rougher than she had expected, it was the only way to help him understand. He was her Vincent, now. . . and always. "Yes, take me. Here. Now. I want you. . . all of you. . . the dark and the light. . . . Youíre mine, Vincent," she moaned against his lips. "I canít wait anymore. Please, donít make me wait."

He cocked his head and gave her a devilish smile. Then he took her lips in a devastating kiss. Catherine growled passionately and locked her hand behind his neck, her body shamelessly grinding against his, challenging him.

Her wild emotions flooded his heart and soul. He could not resist her plea, the sirenís song of her body. The woman he had always wanted was in his arms, begging him to take her. . . the way he wanted to. . . with passion. ĎSheĎs right. I will never hurt her. I could never hurt her. . . . All of me loves her.í His mouth became insistent, urgently tasting hers, while his hand continued to torment her breast with sensual touches, fueling her passion even more.

Catherine responded eagerly, moaning her satisfaction into his mouth. She moved her tongue slowly along his lips and then languidly sank it into his supple cleft.

Dark Vincent gasped in disbelief. She was not afraid of him, at all. She wanted him with the same untamed hunger with which he wanted her. He broke the kiss and threw back his head, roaring with unrestrained laughter. The other, the man, was wrong. The incredible creature in his arms did not love him in spite of his primal side: she loved him because of it. And she had a wild side of her own. She was truly his soul mate. She was his savior.

The beastís thoughts were suddenly interrupted when Catherineís mouth attacked his neck with renewed determination. She slid her lips along his skin, torturously, creating agonizing sensations for him. Then she stopped and retraced her path with her tongue, lavishing him with painstaking care.

Growling, he gripped her arms and lifted her body against the wall of the tunnel. He sank his head between her breasts and started kissing her there, his insistent mouth slowly sliding down the low neck of her dress.

Excited by his boldness, Catherine raised one leg, then the other, until she had locked them around his waist, needing to feel the length of him pressed close to hers. The sensations were overwhelming. When their bodies came in intimate contact, she arched against him, and they exploded together, their ecstatic release captured in their twin roars.

After a while, gasping for air, their minds still spinning, they opened their eyes and gazed at each other with wonder. She placed her head on his chest and slowly lowered her legs, leaning heavily against him, no strength left in her. He wrapped his arms tightly around her warm body without any hesitation and sighed in contentment.

There was no longer any need to keep up the charade, to pretend Vincentís dark side was a separate entity. True, he was the most primal and passionate side of the man, but still a part of him. And now this incredible woman had forever vanquished his doubts and his uncertainties. Vincent sighed and let the two sides of him join completely. The feeling was extraordinary. For the first time in his life, he felt at peace with himself and with the world.

Lifting her chin, he looked intensely into Catherineís eyes for a long moment. Then he delicately rubbed the palm of his hand against the smooth skin of her face and tenderly smiled at her.

She sobbed in relief, tears rolling down her cheeks. "Are you all right, Vincent?" she whispered in a quivering voice.

"Yes, my love," he replied huskily. "Shhhh, itís OK. Itís OK." He felt intoxicated, his body still enveloped in heady sensations.

Catherine was crying in earnest. Now that their wild passion was finally spent, she felt weak, vulnerable. Vincent lifted her into his arms and held her close to his heart, his face buried in her neck, his tongue intimately lapping at the skin above her artery. Her pulse quickened, and she sighed in ecstasy.

"Come, my dear," he whispered in a voice filled with lustful undertones. "We need rest."

She responded by running her tongue along the edge of his earlobe, her breath burning his skin. Vincentís legs buckled.

"Please, Catherine," his groan rumbled forth. "Wait until we are in our chamber."

"Iíll wait for you forever, my love," she murmured, her sultry voice sending shivers through his body.

Her utter happiness flooded his heart. His pace quickened while his mind played the sensual images of what would happen as soon as they reached their chamber.

The End