CATHERINE'S NOTEBOOK

LaRhonda Romero

'There she goes again! What is she writing?', Vincent wondered for the hundredth time that day. The couple was supposed to be enjoying a Saturday afternoon alone in their brownstone home, having left little Jacob in the care of his grandfather. Such an idyllic time was not to be however, because for nearly a month Catherine had been walking around with a little spiral notebook into which she would throughout the day jot down 'interesting thoughts'. Later at night she would transfer the writing into a large red journal. Catherine preferred pen and paper over her computer because she could take a small notebook with her anywhere, and as for the journal, she found she liked sitting up in bed writing.

Catherine's being so engrossed in writing didn't really bother Vincent, he himself spent a lot of time writing and he had the journals to prove it. However, his desire for some attention from his lovely bride, as well as curiosity about what she was writing was causing the normally tolerant Vincent a bit of irritation. There was also the matter of their Bond being muted somewhat. He hadn't said anything about that, he understood Catherine's temperament. When she was extremely busy or engrossed in something, she tended to shut down somewhat and devote all of her mental faculties to her task at hand. Still...Vincent wanted his wife's attention!

'Humph!', he thought glumly, ' Catherine says she wants another baby. At this rate that isn't going to happen'.

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Catherine's ever present notebook was also beginning to get on the nerves of her boss, Joe Maxwell.

"Radcliffe! If you could possibly tear yourself away from your little project there, we've got an office to run!"

"Sorry Joe", Catherine replied sheepishly, "Sometimes a whole paragraph pops into my head and I've got to write it down right then before I lose the thought".

Joe could feel his annoyance with Catherine dissipate; she looked like a little kid who'd been caught in some minor mischief and he felt like an ogre for scolding her.

" Aw, thats okay Radcliffe, just hand me the file on the Almontes case, there are a couple of things I want to fine tune."

Joe felt his displeasure bubble back up into his chest when Catherine's head shot up, her green eyes widened in surprise, and her mouth formed a perfect O.

"Joe, I'm so sorry. Its not ready. I got distracted. I promise I'll have it on your desk in thirty minutes."

"Ya know Radcliffe", voice dripping with sarcasm Joe replied, " I'm all for artistic expression, but do you think you could possibly join the rest of us mere mortals here on earth and pursue your calling a little later?"

" Yes sir. Right away." Catherine knew the difference between the teasing voice of Joe, her friend; and the voice of Joe " Do it now 'cause I'm the Boss " Maxwell

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That same night during dinner, Vincent observed with increasing annoyance the small notebook that Catherine kept scribbling in throughout the meal. He admitted to himself that he was tired of being ignored and had decided that enough was enough. He had spent most of the day preparing a tasty dinner for two, he'd fed, bathed and put little Jacob to bed and now he wanted to spend some quality time with his wife.

"Catherine," He used what he thought was his silkiest, most sensual voice, " Catherine, I've really missed you today, and I've been longing for your return." This statement was delivered with the 'look', that Vincent just knew would make her go weak in the knees and make her heart pound.

" Um humm, yes dear that's nice," was the absent-minded reply. Then, " Just let me finish writing down this last thought and I'll be right with you."

Catherine was so preoccupied with her task, that she never noticed the flash of Vincent's frustration through their shared Bond. With a sigh of resignation Vincent threw his napkin on the table, rose and stalked off to his son's room. Looking down into the angelic face of two year old Jacob made him think anew on the miracle that had made it all possible and he felt his heart swell with love and gratitude. Leaning down, he placed a soft kiss on his sleeping son's cheek and stole quietly away.

After Vincent's abrupt departure from the dinner table, Catherine had taken time to think. As she looked at the remains of dinner; the steak slowly congealing in its own fat, the salad starting to wilt, she felt ashamed at how she had treated Vincent, taking him for granted. Then her thoughts widened as she thought about how she had allowed her new-found passion for writing to interfere with so many aspects of her life; of all the people she'd managed to tick off during the past few weeks - Joe Maxwell, her boss; Edie, her friend and co-worker; her best friend Jenny, who had acidly suggested that Catherine try the "Hemingway Writing Method", namely lock herself away from the rest of humanity and seek inspiration in a bottle of scotch!

Even Father who was enthusiastic about creative pursuits, especially writing, had made the rather pointed remark that, " great writers spend time listening to and conversing with other people."

"Catherine", came a velvet voice from behind her. " We need to talk my love. Now." There was a hint of an imperious growl in Vincent's voice that caused Catherine to know he meant business.

Meekly following her tall husband into their living room, she sat down on the couch with her head bowed and her hands folded demurely in her lap like a schoolgirl awaiting a scolding.

But instead of the expected lecture, Catherine was surprised to feel herself lifted off the couch and onto Vincent's lap. Looking at her with bemused eyes, he gently kissed the side of her jaw and began to speak.

"Catherine my love, you know I will support you in whatever decision you choose to make. I love you. You are my life. But in loving you I am compelled to protect you even if that means protecting you from yourself. Dearest, I fear that you have allowed your passion for writing to become an obsession."

"An obsession? Vincent, I think that's a strong word..." Catherine started to protest, but was silenced by a gentle clawed finger upon her lips.

"Please Catherine, hear me out. That's all I ask." Vincent continued, " The first thing you do upon awakening is write down whatever thoughts or inspirations you've had during the night. Several times at night you've fallen asleep with the pen still gripped in your hand dearest. It doesn't matter that you've ignored me, but you even ignored little Jacob when he tried to show you his drawing. Catherine, this isn't you. I know you're a good mother, and an excellent wife. That is why I used the word obsession. To make you see the full scope of your behavior," He paused for a moment. " Believe me, I do understand what it feels like to put your thoughts and feelings down on paper. It is thrilling to paint a picture with words, like an artist creating an entire world with pen, and ink and color. But, my darling, no true artist shuts out the world or those who love him or her."

As Vincent finished speaking, Catherine could feel only love and concern through their Bond, and suddenly the reality dawned on her that she had been subconsciously muting the Bond! How alone Vincent must have felt, but never once had he complained about it. He had just continued to be supportive and loving. With a gasp, Catherine realized how badly she had treated Vincent, ignoring him and taking him and his love for granted. Vincent, the gentlest and most patient of souls! She winced as she thought about their little boy Jacob, who had tried so hard to show his mother his crayon drawing. Even Mary, who was like a mother to her, had basically been given the brush-off. And Jamie, who was like a sister to Catherine, was tuned-out when she mentioned that Mouse looked "kind'a cute". In fact, just about everyone Above and Below had felt the sting of Catherine's indifference and preoccupation. Yes, perhaps obsession was closer to the truth than she wanted to believe.

"Oh god! I feel like such a heel! Can you ever forgive me darling?" Unshed tears glistened in Catherine's beautiful green eyes.

"There's nothing to forgive. I would never want you to give up something that obviously gives you so much happiness. All I ask is for there to be balance." Vincent's lips claimed hers in a soft kiss.

"Oh Vincent! I love you so much", the tears finally found their way down Catherine's cheeks. "I'm so sorry. How can I make it up to you?"

"Well", came the silky reply, with his captivating small smile, "I'm sure you'll think of...something. For everyone else, I think a heartfelt "I'm sorry" will suffice."

Later, after a loving encounter between husband and wife, Vincent awoke to find Catherine gone. Getting up he padded over to the bedroom door where he could hear her soft laughter and little Jacob's happy chattering and joyful cries.

Smiling to himself, Vincent turned back toward the bed and it was then that he noticed Catherine's journal lying open to the initial page. He didn't mean to do it, but it felt as thought his eyes were drawn to the words... He didn't read long. He hadn't gotten through the first sentence before his eyes misted over he felt a lump rise up in his throat. He read out loud-

~"Once upon a time in the city of New York"~