Follow Your Heart

(Beyond "A Happy Life")

By Midnight Rose, 1991


Vincent flew through the many levels of tunnels of his subterranean home, his long black cloak billowing behind him. He climbed upward, ever closer. Running to her. Catherine was coming back…to him.

They had parted in such pain. Catherine’s deep loneliness and emotional heartache brought to the surface by the anniversary of her mother’s death and the bitter truth of their unrequited love. Vincent had pushed her away, choosing to end their impossible relationship and spare Catherine further suffering. He had done it for her sake no matter what the personal cost to him; this decision had nearly broken his own heart.

But now, as he franticly ran toward the Central Park tunnel exit, he was overwhelmed by Catherine’s overflowing love and joy projected towards him through the bond he shared with her. Her sorrow, pain, and confusion had all been miraculously washed away. Knowing she was returning to him was like a welcome summer rain upon the parched ground of his soul.

Vincent made himself halt at the mouth of drainage pipe, resisting the urge to race over the open ground to reach her. Wait. Catherine was close. He could feel her…see her!

***

Catherine’s heart was pounding as she raced across the open meadow. Was it from the running or the anticipation of seeing Vincent again? Her knees threatened to collapse beneath her but she kept running. I’m coming! Her heart sang.

Follow your heart. Nancy had said. How many times had Vincent said the same words, challenged her with them? Why did it take the prospect of no longer having him in her life, of losing his friendship and love---yes, it was love---before her foolish mind listened to what her heart already understood? The only way she could truly be happy was to follow her heart. Nothing else mattered, she wanted to be with him and endure whatever pain they must suffer; he was worth sacrificing everything else in her life, everything.

Vincent was close. Catherine could feel him…see him. His arms were outstretched, ready to receive her and never let go.

*

His arms closed around her tiny body, pulling her close. How good it felt to have his strong arms around her, to hear and feel the pound of his heart, and the warmth of his breath in her hair.

"Forgive me for doubting," Catherine begged, looking up into his eyes. She choked back the tears. "What we share is worth everything."

Vincent felt as if his heart would burst with joy. "Everything?" He whispered. He held Catherine at arm length to search her glittering emeralds. His mind could barely comprehend what his heart was telling him was true. She would love him forever and they would endure the pain together, gladly. The solid truth of her love was confirmed in Catherine’s fierce hug, her arms thrown around his towering neck. Vincent pressed her to himself, a deep sigh stirring Catherine’s silky hair. How wonderful to have his soul mate in his arms again, to feel the press of her small body, her heart next to his.

The couple pulled back a fraction to look deep into each other’s eyes. Eyes that held a love so strong and deep that no words could ever describe its depth. Their love was pure and true. At that moment, their bond, once separate to each other, sought a union that would bind them together as one for eternity.

***

The predawn chill sent an involuntary shiver through Catherine and she was suddenly exhausted from her ordeal, her restless sleep, her drive back, her breathless run, and her exuberance. Keeping Catherine within the warm circle of his arm, Vincent turned her toward the tunnels, back to the only world they could share.

"Come." He said simply, "There is a special place I wish to share with you."

The leonine man led his ladylove deep into the bowels of his subterranean kingdom. The couple did not meet another soul during their silent journey. The tapping on pipes that snaked down the walls and across the ceilings of various corridors was the only sound to remind them of other hidden life Below.

They walked hand in hand where the width of the tunnels allowed and in narrow spots and standing water, Vincent lifted Catherine into his powerful arms and carried her, her weight as nothing.

At last the claustrophobic atmosphere of the endless tunnel passageways gave way to an underground canyon, its vastness almost lost in the gloom. The fresh smell and welcome sound of rushing water met Catherine’s senses. Vincent had once described this special place. A vast cavern cut out of the foundations of the earth by the carving power of an underground river. From a scaling height, water cascaded from three points and plunged far below the rocky shelf where they stood, the waterfall disappearing into a billow of mist.

Light from an unknown source cast the vast space into an eternal twilight blue haze. Scattered dots of golden torchlight lined the cliffs and marked black doorways, narrow paths and crude bridges.

"The Chamber of the Falls," Catherine breathed in awe of the grandeur. " I could have never imagined a place such as this." A swirling cold breeze stirred the silky ends of her hair as Catherine drew in a long satisfied breath of fresh, clean air. The same breeze made her shiver and Vincent wrapped her in his voluminous cloak.

"Nor I," Vincent agreed, taking in the natural beauty surrounding him. With a secret smile he added, "At dawn this place becomes…magical."

Vincent led Catherine up the rocky hillside to a particular flat rock upon which they sat and awaited the dawn. Catherine snuggled against him, within the warmth of Vincent’s cloak and the circle of his arm. She lay her head against his broad shoulder.

As they waited, Catherine quietly spoke of her dream, of her midnight talk with Nancy, and her resolve: Follow your heart. Vincent listened silently as he held her, cherishing her and this moment. How clearly Catherine’s every emotion now spoke to him. It was as if the doors of her heart had been thrown open, freed by her resolution. Vincent found this new empathic clarity to be intoxicating, distracting, but as sweet as honey.

Vincent could sense the dawn even though far from the sunlight and when the time came he whispered to Catherine. "Behold the waterfall."

Suddenly from a point in the ceiling, a pinpoint of brilliant light pierced the eternal gloom. It grew imperceptibly into a heavenly shaft of sunlight. The water sparkled in the glowing ray, the mist becoming an arc of rainbow colors. Every wet surface glistened as if the rocks were spread with diamonds and the sunlight was reflected off the millions of facets; it filled every corner of the twilight cavern with light. The smoky blue and gray of the chamber was transformed into a world of amber and warm browns, the layers of rock looking like ribbons of chocolate. The magic was complete.

"Oh, Vincent…" Catherine gasped as she viewed the breathtaking majesty before her. "…It’s beautiful."

"Yes," Vincent breathed. He hugged his beloved Catherine even closer.

Like an ellipse of the sun, as soon as the magic begun, it began to end and the cavern was soon returned to its former twilight state. The return of the semi-darkness was not depressing because the magic would come again to herald the beginning of another day. For Catherine, this was the beginning of a new day, a new chapter in her life. A life of commitment to the man she truly loved---no matter what obstacles might try to keep them apart.

All too soon it was time to leave; Vincent pulled Catherine to her feet and assisted her down the steep rocky ground. He led the way, supporting her descent with an offered hand. His beloved Catherine looked so small and vulnerable wrapped in his bulky black cloak, but Vincent knew that there was a strong, courageous woman wrapped in the same mantle. Catherine had come so far in the search for herself since the fateful night their lives had crossed. To have witnessed her personal growth was like watching a rose open; she was becoming the person she was meant to be. His Catherine was so beautiful, so enduring… And he, was so much in love with her…

Suddenly, Catherine was hurtled toward Vincent standing one rock below her. She had lost her footing, tripped on the hem of his long heavy mantle. His powerful arms captured her around the waist as in an instinctive, defensive move, her up-raised arms slammed into his broad chest. Vincent held her fast. For the briefest moment their lips brushed as their faces nearly collided. Both were stunned. If it was because of the sudden mishap, or the brushed collision, or a little of both, they did not know---nor ever would.

Eyes of emerald and sapphire locked as Catherine slowly slid down Vincent’s solid length. Their minds and bodies were frozen by the tingling shards of sensations shooting through them as if they had been struck by lightening.

Vincent did not release her from his embrace as was his habit, but held her firmly against himself. She did not resist. When she did manage a rational thought, Catherine found herself staring into two intense stormy blue eyes, a cloudy dark hue she had never before seen in them. In the same moment, without warning, Vincent lowered his unique mouth to hers and placed a gentle kiss upon her petal-soft lips.

His kiss was tentative, but infinitely tender. A moment, an hour, forever, passed during the sudden and brief encounter. Vincent pulled back as if in a daze and for an instant, in his sapphire eyes, Catherine glimpsed into the depths of his noble soul. She saw the deepest part of himself which Vincent kept locked within the dark depths of his soul, all his love, turmoil, longing, passion, and fears.

Modesty got the best of Vincent when he realized what he had done. He had emerged as if from under an enchanting spell, he did not know what had come over him. Was it the dizziness from the new clarity of the bond? Was it the sweetness of a touch he had never known and that his deepest longing had overcome his reason? Her beauty, her eyes, her lips, the press of her body…Vincent was ashamed and embarrassed. He did not look away, but his uneasy gaze was flecked with questions and uncertainty.

Vincent stepped back awkwardly, releasing his hold on her and dropped his arms. "I am sorry," he stammered. "I…did not…mean to…"

Catherine caught Vincent by his quilted vest and she stepped with him as he attempted to back away. She silenced him with her fingertips against the feline curve of his unique mouth. "Shh…"

Catherine looked deep into Vincent’s troubled eyes and washed away all his shame with a warm smile that only love could give. "Follow your heart," she whispered.

Silent relief washed across the fine leonine features and a slight nod acknowledged her words. Vincent’s blue eyes twinkled. No other words were spoken, nor did they ever speak about the brief encounter. Both let it stand as the merging of their souls, a magical moment to cherish the rest of their lives.

In silence, Vincent took Catherine’s slender hand in his clawed one and slowly they walked back through the tunnels as the world around them awakened to a new day.

*****