Signature

Midnight Rose 1995


The large octagon table was covered with dozens of tunnel maps showing several levels of interconnecting routes in various degrees of detail. The curling edges of the torn and yellowing parchments were held down with an assortment of books and two oil lamps. In the halo of golden light, Father and Vincent conferred over the measurements of a new group of tunnels on the far East side of the underground community. These passageways were being added to the master set of tunnel maps; Father’s ongoing project.

Vincent had carefully measured the dimensions of the six tunnels and determined their placement among the surrounding crossways and levels early that morning during his daily rounds of the perimeter. Now late in the evening, from memory, he drew a diagram and the dimensions of these tunnels on a pad of notepaper for Father to refer to when the patriarch added them to his maps.

Father had never ceased to be amazed at the amount of information his unique, leonine son could recall with precise detail without writing anything down. More astonishing was that Vincent had taken the measurements early that morning, before the children’s literature classes and other duties that had taken his attention. How his son managed to recall all the information without mixing anything up was beyond Father.

As a boy, Vincent had displayed this rare ability to retain vast amounts of information with unerring precision early on. He had learned to read by age four and was soon reading on a high school level with complete comprehension. Vincent could memorize anything, sometimes hearing something only once and recall whole passages and speeches without error. Father had often heard Helpers remark that Vincent had a photographic memory or that his son was a genius.

Writing, for the young lad, was quite a different matter and from this came his son’s habit of not writing anything down unless it was absolutely necessary. It had taken Vincent an agonizingly long time to learn how to write well. His large, awkward-working hands with knotted joints were clumsy and uncooperative when it came to holding a pencil. Articulating the small fine movements of handwriting took hours of hard concentration and near frustration for the boy. Watching Vincent’s free-flowing lyrical script now, no one would have ever realized he had ever had trouble writing a single character. The lion-man’s handwriting was beautiful, full-bodied and rich in its calligraphy line and masterful in its composition.

His golden son stopped in the middle of his dictation to look toward the lower entrance of Father’s library. The patriarch’s eye was drawn across the large, two-story chamber, made small by the shelves, piles, stacks, columns, and pillars of books covering the walls and every flat surface, to the low archway where any moment he knew Vincent’s beloved wife would appear. Catherine soon did, fresh out of work and dressed in a navy skirt and blazer; she carried her stuffed, soft leather briefcase. She crossed the threshold and bound down the three steps, lighting up the underground chamber with her sunshine smile.

"Good evening, Catherine," Father smiled from his seat at the large table beside his burly son.

She all but ignored Vincent for the moment. "Hello, Father," Catherine greeted as she dumped her briefcase beside his nearby desk and came to place a kiss on the patriarch’s weathered cheek.

Catherine then turned to her tawny husband, whose deep-set eyes twinkled with amusement. "How is it …that Father is always greeted first?" Vincent mused, his attempt at feigning jealousy betrayed by the joyous bubbling of the Bond.

"Age before beauty, my love," Catherine breathed, tipping Vincent’s leonine face to meet hers, then placed a lingering kiss on his velvet lips.

Father’s bemused chuckle melted into a shy, warm smile as he watched the intimate greeting between the fairytale couple. Never had the depth of passion between two people ever capture his heart like the special, magical love Vincent and Catherine shared. A simple kiss was an event of subtle passionate sparks. Normally shy about their public displays of affection, Father was honored to be a momentarily forgotten bystander.

"How did the court case go today?" Vincent asked as his lifemate settled herself on the arm of his high-backed carved chair and within the circle of his left arm.

Catherine beamed. "The case against the student was dismissed. A renowned graphologist proved the handwriting in the letter was forged." As she spoke, Catherine spied the pad of paper on the table in front of Vincent; it was filled with the measurements, diagrams, and notes of the tunnels in his elegant calligraphy.

"Graphology is the study of handwriting…I want to show you something…" She took the notebook and flipped to a blank page.

"Vincent, write a couple lines of a poem."

He nodded as he silently took the notebook and released Catherine, who moved to stand beside him. Vincent thought a moment, his ink pen posed in his huge left hand--- a hand covered in red-gold fur and tipped with pointed nails that looked more suitable for clawing and tearing then holding a fountain pen.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate.

He wrote in his scrolling script and then recited back to his intriguing wife.

"My turn," was all Catherine said as a bewildered husband and tunnel patriarch looked on. She wrote the next two lines:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:

-Sonnet 18, Shakespeare

Just then Pascal appeared at the top of the spiral stairs. "Pascal, do you have a minute or two?" Catherine asked the willowy little man who was the master of the Tunnel’s pipe communication system. "I need your help with something."

"As long as it is quick," replied Pascal, coming down the stairs with the two lengths of pipe he used to tap messages slung over one narrow shoulder. "I only came to deliver a private message to Father from a Helper…You know I don’t like to be away from my pipes too long."

"It will only take a minute, I promise," Catherine reassured him.

Pascal handed Father the folded message dictated from the pipes. Father read it then tucked it in his belt, his attention back on the mysterious Catherine.

"Pascal, whose writing is this…Vincent’s or mine?" Catherine asked as she handed the notepad to the Jewish gentleman.

Pascal did not hesitate in answering. "Vincent’s."

Catherine smiled impishly. "The first two lines of the poem are his…the other two are mine."

Three mouths dropped open in astonishment.

Pascal studied the lines in the better light of the oil lamp. "But it looks the same…"

"I know." Catherine breathed.

"Let me see that…" Father said pulling out his reading glasses. The poem was passed. Father studied the handwritings, then lowering his spectacles, handing the pad to Vincent. "Amazing."

"What is more amazing…is the possibility of two handwritings being identical," Catherine stated.

Vincent shook his head in disbelief. The bond he shared with Catherine was taking on a whole new dimension. He was aware of the emotional and mental connection but never considered similarities in personality, where the nuance of handwriting was grounded. He had always thought of Catherine as his counterpart or opposite, her temperament complimenting his own.

"I had never noticed how similar our handwriting is, Catherine," Vincent said.

"Neither did I…We only see the differences because we know it is not ours…to the casual observer it looks the same," Catherine reasoned, "I never considered comparing our writing until Anne pointed it out to me this afternoon."

***

The pleasant days of Indian Summer were making everybody in the DA’s office a bit restless. Everyone’s attention was on everything else but the work at hand---except for the major movers and shakers: Joe, Catherine, and Edward Lynn.

Edward was one of the DA’s prosecuting attorneys and Catherine’s partner in a sensitive case involving a juvenile. The seventeen-year-old boy was accused of writing explicit sex-fantasy love letters to a popular female student and signing the name of the high school principal. The student swore he was set-up; someone had forged his handwriting---a good forger---and to complicate matters the letters had been faxed. The DA trio was convinced the boy was innocent, but was having a hard time proving it. The lawyers of the principal would require hard evidence; a renowned public figure's reputation and job was on the line. The boy was a straight A+ student and his personality and profile did not lend any doubt to the conclusion he would not have been one to do this; he lacked the motive.

Catherine had talked to many of his classmates and collected samples of everyone’s handwriting, both friends and acquaintances. She had a couple of weak leads on students who had a rap sheet with the principal and may have been out to get him, but it was mostly intuition.

The DA brought in Anne Montgomery, an expert graphologist, who analyzed handwriting. She was an acclaimed lecturer and author of the science of graphology and had been practicing for fifteen years. She had worked in the entire spectrum of handwriting analysis, from forgery and fraud to assisting in the screening of employees for corporate hiring. Also, Ms. Montgomery had appeared as an expert witness in Federal and Superior courts.

By chance, a month ago, Catherine had seen an advertisement for one of Anne Montgomery’s lectures and contacted her. Anne made short work of the pages of handwriting despite the difficult task of judging the individual patterns of pressure in upstrokes and downstrokes from a faxed copy. By comparing the subtle differences in the alleged sample and a fresh written copy, Anne determined the two samples were indeed different through pressure, margins, spacing, size, line, slant, zones, connectors and structure. The fax copy had been forged. It had come down to the ways the peaks and valleys of the letters and connections within words were formed. No two people had the same handwriting, no matter how similar. Catherine had never learned so much in a courtroom.

During the court lunch break, Catherine brought Anne back to the DA’s office and left her in the conference room while she had Ms. Montgomery added to the witness callback list. The process was held up with a minor glitch and it took an hour to iron it out.

The first thing Catherine noticed upon her return to the DA’s office was the lack of the normal hustle and bustle, and that quite a few key people were missing---including Rita, her assistant intern, who Catherine had entrusted a two o’clock write-up on Ms. Montgomery’s findings. This was only a mental note, for Catherine’s mind was directed on more immediate concerns---her handwritten report on the other classmates that she had prepared for Edward.

They were gone from her desk. Catherine was alarmed. She thumbed through her armload of files and went through the stacks on her desk. Catherine even checked her desk drawers. It was then that she noticed someone had rummaged through her desk. This upset her, but it became panic when some of the notes from Vincent were missing too.

Her romantic and forever thoughtful husband often sent her notes tucked in the paper wrap of long stem roses old Peter handed her many mornings as she breezed by his flower stand on her walk to work. The folded notes in Vincent’s beautiful calligraphy often were whispers of private thoughts shared; or a part of a poem or quote; or a simple word of encouragement. He always signed them with an elegant C and V intertwined to form a stylized rose with a stem. A couple of these rich, creamy slips of paper had been thrown in her desk drawer in the haste of a morning rush. The absence of handwritten papers and co-workers brought Catherine to only one conclusion---Anne.

***

The handwriting was regimented and expansive within itself, but light and delicate. "Vicki’s overall handwriting shows that she is intelligent, clear-sighted, a good listener, practical, calm, reflective, and a little bit shy." Vicki blushed.

"But that’s alright," Anne assured the young secretary, a tiny, slight girl dressed in a simple cotton dress with lace collar. "You like to sit back and observe those around you."

"She definitely has a lot to watch around this zoo," chirped Michelle, the impulsive errand runner and file room clerk. Her green eyes and red hair sparkled with her enthusiasm.

The lively group of co-workers laughed. "If we were all like Rita, Vicki would have nothing to do but sleep," cracked Edie.

"Very perceptive of you," Kevin grinned. He was a DA investigator and the instigator for this informal handwriting analysis session. "What else was said about Edie?" Standing over Bob and looking over the seated man’s shoulder, Kevin scanned Bob’s thorough notes. "Confident, adaptable, creative, energetic, and …busy, busy, busy."

"At Central Control, you have to be," Edie said. She tossed her head of beaded cornrows. "And... I believe you, Kevin, are in a word: gregarious."

Anne just smiled at this friendly office banter. The DA’s office ran smoothly because of the interplay of various personalities. This was true in any successful office she went to and she found these impromptu sessions to be fun, as well as enlightening to her personal study of human nature.

Kevin was a tall, dark, and handsome fellow in his late twenties; he was outgoing and a natural leader. Someone mentioned he was an investigator, confident and bold. She was sure he exhibited instinct and intuition to know when to move in for the kill or when to back off. His handwriting was also bold; a large print-script set on the page with a heavy-handed pressure.

Rita showed good prospects as a great researcher, thorough, reliable, and logical. Being studious did not mean she was boring, as Edie had alluded to in her joke. Rita’s script was precise, meticulous and easy to read.

Anne liked Edie, who was much like herself---energetic, confident, inquisitive, and imaginative. Her handwriting was eager and flamboyant, a rolling script with oversized loops. However, unlike Anne, Edie could be brash and straight froward, tending to speak her mind.

Bob, the quiet, shy intern, was sitting a couple of chairs down from Anne and writing down her every word in his small, neat, back-slanted, tight script. This showed he had self-confidence, but was plagued by self-doubt and the fear of rejection or criticism. Bob was obviously considered the office nerd. He was most likely a loner, his reactions to situations could be unpredictable and this made him ideal for co-worker ribbing and pranks.

Michelle was the entertainer, often impulsive and spontaneous; much like her writing, with its forward leaning script set quickly on paper. Because of her travels through the different departments, she was the headwaters for office gossip and could influence the mood of the entire DA’s office.

"And now THE BOSS." Kevin reverently spread out Joe Maxwell’s samples for Anne.

Joe was the boss indeed. Anne took a long careful look at the medium pressured; angular script then gave her initial overall findings. "Joe is intelligent, quick, shrewd…"

"Yep, you better believe it, said Kevin. Heads nodded. " That’s Joe."

"Wait until I’m finished, please," Anne smiled, then continued. "Observant, resourceful, highly disciplined, direct, discreet, dignified, and persevering…I bet he works long hours."

" I swear he sleeps here…Joe is here before anyone else and still here when we leave." Rita said and then added with a droll, " He is a slave driver."

"But a good one," said Michelle.

The conference room door opened and heads turned as Catherine entered. She leveled her eyes at bright-eyed Kevin, the obvious culprit, but asked, "Who has been rummaging through my desk?"

"Hum…We needed some handwriting samples, so we can figure you out." Kevin explained this while he hurried to gather Joe’s samples and spread out Miss Chandler’s confiscated ones in front of Anne. There was a post-it note; a page of paragraphs with a signature (slightly crumpled from being in the trashcan), a couple of personal notes, and a final report ready to be typed.

Catherine was not amused and her glaring green eyes told Kevin so. Her gaze fell on the papers Anne was looking over as she approached the far end of the table, where Ms Montgomery sat. Catherine reached for the report and Vincent’s love notes.

"Ah, come on, Cathy, be a sport," Kevin pouted.

"I am," Catherine defended, gesturing with the papers now in her hands. "I need this report now …and these notes are not mine."

Anne made more than a mental note of this. Catherine missed her inquisitive raised eyebrow as the beautiful, young lawyer sat down, already flipping through her report and revising a portion.

Miss Chandler’s handwriting was a rich lyrical script with heavy calligraphy overtones. This showed an appreciation for cultured and literary things and reinforced Ann’s suspicion Catherine was from a high society background. She studied the writing more carefully then the others, because Miss Chandler’s script bespoke of a complicated woman and her signature, a very private one.

"Overall, Cathy is determined, resourceful and disciplined. She is open and friendly, yet requiring personal privacy; she is strong, but gentle and sensitive." Ann concluded for the group of co-workers. There were many layers to this Miss Chandler and Ann was sure the young attorney would not appreciate becoming an open door to her peers. Privacy was Catherine’s protection against the ever-pressing public.

"Tell us something we do not know," challenged Kevin, a little disappointed with the report.

Catherine laughed, looking up. "What did you expect…a smoking gun?"

"Blackmail material would be nice," chirped Edie, giving her friend a wink. "A few skeletons…"

"All right everybody," Joe’s voice boomed from the doorway. "Coffee break is over and canceled…Back to work."

Everyone grumbled. "Wasn’t one of Joe’s attributes being a slave driver?" Edie asked idly, as the staff filed obediently out the door.

Joe frowned at the remark. "What makes you think that?"

"It’s all reveled in your handwriting," grinned Kevin handing Joe his stolen samples as the intern passed him. "Beware…We have you figured out now."

Joe gave Catherine one of his exasperated looks and continued bellowing as he herded his workers back into the office area. Catherine silently thanked him for bringing the handwriting analysis to an abrupt end.

"Poor Joe," Catherine sighed under her breath as she signed the report, then turned to Ms Montgomery. "Court resumes at Two o’clock… With your expert evidence, I don’t think it will take more than an hour to settle."

"That is fine," Anne smiled.

There was an awkward moment of silence between the two women as Catherine felt that Anne was silently analyzing her and dying to ask her a question. Could her handwriting somehow revel something about her connection to Vincent or her secret relationship with him?

"Well," Catherine said giving her stack of files a straightening knock on the conference table and then setting them down again to pick up the remaining handwriting samples. "I will meet you here at One-thirty to walk you back to the courthouse."

Anne rose from her chair and fingered her purse. "Good. That gives me enough time to get some fresh air."

"Charlie, the hot dog vendor at the corner, has the best dogs in Manhattan, if you want a bite to eat." Catherine offered. She turned toward the door, relaxing a little that her inner feeling about Anne was gone, when Ms Montgomery stopped her. "Miss Chandler, do you have a moment?"

Catherine turned back to face the elegant woman in her early fifties, dressed in a slate-gray business suit ensemble with a pink blouse setting off the auburn of her short wavy hair. Catherine hid her anxiety behind her well-practiced smile. "Of coarse. Is it about the litigation?" Even as she spoke the words, she knew what Anne’s question would be about.

"No," Anne said softly, "It is about your handwriting."

"What about it?" Catherine braced herself to deflect any inquiry or defend any accusation. Something in her handwriting had revealed her secrets.

Anne took a deep thoughtful breath. Catherine was a very private person when it came to aspects of her personal life. Handwriting was certainly personal---a communication of the private person to the public. She did not want to appear as a threat to Miss Chandler’s secrets and could almost make out Cathy’s dread behind her confident façade.

Anne began slowly. "When Kevin spread out your writing samples, the first thing I did—or do---is take in an overall impression. I do not read the content, but rather look at how the words are put on the paper. I look to see if the writing seems energetic, cautious, placid, frenzied…then I allow my eye to roam through the spaces and patterns to catch specific formations…"

By Miss Chandler’s puzzled, weary look, Anne knew Cathy did not understanding what she was trying to explain. She might as well get to the point.

"What I am saying is that I did not see any difference between your handwriting on the notes and the report or the writing in the notes you claim were not yours."

Catherine’s mouth dropped open in astonishment. She had not been prepared to hear this. "You’re kidding!"

"No," Anne shook her head. "Believe it or not, the possibility of two handwriting’s being identical is one in 68 trillion." She revealed and then after a moment added, "Would you allow me a closer look at the notes?"

Catherine looked down at the stack of papers and notes, weighing the request. This was Vincent’s handwriting. Would this expose him? What would his script reveal about him? This could draw unwanted attention to her and her secrets if what this woman said was indeed true, that their handwriting was very similar.

"It will be strictly confidential," Anne reassured Catherine. "Professional curiosity…Please?"

Catherine consented. "I suppose it wouldn’t hurt." Maybe if she did not make a big deal about it, Anne’s curiosity would be satisfied and the matter would not be pursued further.

The women sat back down at the end of conference table and the written samples were spread out again. Catherine could only watch and wonder what Anne must see as she carefully compared Vincent’s notes against her handwritten report.

"Have you ever noticed the similarities," Anne asked.

"No…I have never compared them because I knew they were his handwriting."

"Then he is male."

Catherine nodded with a gulp. Oops.

"Is he left handed?"

Ms. Montgomery had Catherine’s complete attention. "You can tell whether someone is left-handed of right-handed just by looking at handwriting?" Catherine inquired.

"No," Anne smiled, "that was a guess."

She showed Catherine the samples, pointing out what she saw. "Look at your handwriting and his…See how they both slant at the same angle to the right. The loops, spaces, and connections between each letter in the words and the spaces in between the words themselves are the same."

Catherine was astounded. "I never noticed…I can see it, now that you have pointed it out…This is unbelievable!"

Anne was just as amazed. "In all my years of being in handwriting analysis, I have never seen such similarities between two people…It is as if his script is the male counterpart to yours with a rich, heavy pressure compared to your medium pressure. The fact that you are right-handed and he left-handed…Are you related? Twins?"

"No," Catherine answered with a shy, sweet smile. She tried to mask her true delight. "We are very close."

"Well, I will not pry any further," Anne said. "I can tell by the larger capital letters in your texts and signatures that you both insist on privacy. I have dug, perhaps, too far."

Catherine nodded shyly, glad that Anne had this insight. "Thank you for understanding."

The two women were silent as they headed for the door, each bursting with hundreds of questions for the other, but respecting the mutual choice of privacy.

"Handwriting really does expose the real you," Catherine said thoughtfully as she escorted Anne to the elevator.

"A person chooses how they put these patterns of symbols on the page. In doing so, they reveal the energy and subconscious reasons why they put them on the page the way they do." Anne tried to explain simply. "In graphology, there are so many factors in determining an analysis that is impossible to give it to you in a nutshell."

"You have certainly wetted my appetite to know more," Catherine said as she pushed the elevator button. "Are you busy tonight? We could meet for dinner."

"I’m sorry…not tonight," Ms. Montgomery apologized, "I have a previous engagement…Perhaps, I can get you a ticket to one of my lectures."

"I’d like that," Catherine smiled.

The elevator doors opened and Anne entered. "I will see you at One-Thirty, Miss Chandler."

***

Vincent and Catherine sat side by side on the single step that separated the bedroom nook from the rest of Vincent’s chamber. The antique trunk, embossed in tooled leather and brass, at the foot of the elegant bed was open; it held Vincent’s keepsakes and his journals. A stack of slim volumes sat on the floor in front of the golden man, piled there as he flipped through each one.

Catherine was looking at the scrapbook she had begun when she first met Vincent. The creamy pages were full of Catherine’s most private thoughts and poems, pressed roses from Vincent and every note, poem, letter, and "meet me here" he had ever written to her. She was paying close attention to each loop, swirl, and flourish of Vincent’s beautiful handwriting and her own script, when she made an observation.

Catherine told him of her discovery. When she had first met Vincent their handwriting was distinctively different, even different then it was now. As the years had past and their bond had deepened, their handwriting became more and more alike. Now it looked nearly the same, though Catherine mused she knew the difference because she was aware that the handwriting was his and not hers.

"Your handwriting changed because of the changes you made in your own life at the time our paths crossed." Vincent offered. "Your personality has undergone a major adjustment and it is reflected in your handwriting."

" The assault was the major event, but your influence gave me the courage to set those changes in motion. It was a difficult time…I do not think I could have done it without your gentle encouragement," Catherine said softly. She smiled at him and leaned affectionately into her husband’s arm. He gave her a warm, sideways glance.

"Yes…It also shows how our bond had intensified and deepened from our first meeting until now." Vincent thumbed through one of his older journals, while holding his place in his most recently filled volume. "By quickly scanning some of my earlier writings, I can pick out some of the definite changes in my own penmanship. They correspond with the major upheavals in my own physiological states."

The incidents did not need to be voiced. Catherine knew of the dark places in Vincent’s soul that had reared up time and again throughout his life driving him to near insanity and death. The last battle with his darker side had almost killed him, but her love had pulled him through the madness. Vincent’s newfound peace and self-acceptance opened the final door that had hindered the bond, preventing it from flourishing.

"Our handwriting has become very similar only recently," Vincent said thoughtfully, "We have truly become two hearts with one soul." He held the two journals open for her, comparing them to Catherine’s handwriting on the final page of her scrapbook open in her lap.

Catherine smiled. "You speak as if you have studied graphology, Vincent."

"Graphology does not have enough merit Below," Vincent said, closing the older volume and adding it to the stack at his feet. "I rarely see anyone’s handwriting except for the children’s and they have not settled into a personal style."

"And…you have a more reliable source for such information," Catherine grinned, as she playfully nudged him again.

Vincent chuckled within the curtain of his golden mane. His wife spoke of his empathic abilities. "Yes."

Vincent’s quick ears picked up Father’s approach to his chamber; someone he did not recognize by footstep or voice accompanied his parent. He gathered up the journals and twisted in his seat to set them back in the trunk. Catherine placed her scrapbook on top.

"Vincent?" Father called from the short hallway that led to his son’s chamber.

"Come in, Father," the burly, golden son invited, while rising to his feet. Catherine closed the lid of the trunk. Vincent unknowingly shielded Catherine from the guest’s view as the two visitors entered.

"Vincent, do you remember the helper, Sarah Anderson? This is her daughter, Annette," Father introduced. He turned to the woman beside him. "Annette, this is my son, Vincent and his friend, Cath…"

"Anne!" Catherine came up behind Vincent and stopped in her tracks when she saw the familiar face.

"Miss Chandler?"

Father looked at the two women in bewilderment. "You two have met?"

Catherine recovered first. "This is Ms. Montgomery, the graphologist I spent most of the day with…This is a surprise."

Anne nodded equally amazed. "I had no idea you were a Helper."

Catherine laughed, " Then my handwriting did not reveal my most guarded secrets."

Father touched Anne’s arm. "Catherine has become more like…family to us."

Anne turned her attention to the towering and intimidating bulk of the quiet Vincent. She smiled. "Vincent..." Anne drank in the exotic leonine features and the warmth of his blue eyes, all framed by a flowing mane of flaming gold. She had met Vincent before. "The years have been good to you."

Vincent smiled shyly at her compliment. "My memory fails to place your face in my past, Anne. However, I did know your mother."

"I doubt you would remember me," Anne replied, "You could not have been more than…perhaps three. I was still in college and had come Below to gather some handwriting samples for my final assignment on graphology. I was sitting across from Father’s desk as he sat writing out his sample when a little boy startled me. Vincent, I turned and found you quietly standing there---not any further then we are now. You smiled and said, ‘Hi, I’m Vincent.’ Then you were gone…you came out of nowhere."

"I was notorious for doing that to people."

"You still do!" Father and Catherine chimed together at the beloved man.

***

The four adults sat down in the burnished glow of the stained-glass window and the subject turned to handwriting and graphology.

"I have never seen anything like this in all my years of analysis," Anne exclaimed taking a long look at the poem Vincent and Catherine had produced earlier. "I have absolutely no explanation…I have seen similar handwriting among family members or twins, but between two total strangers…I am floored."

"The reason is quite simple…in a complicated way," Father offered lamely. He gestured to this son to try and explain the ramifications of the bond.

"What Father means, Anne, is that Catherine and I have a very special relationship that defies a definite explanation," Vincent began carefully. "We share a bond, a connection, that flows deeper than either friendship or love. We are, in a sense, soul mates. The connection exists on a higher plane of consciousness, encompassing our emotions, our minds, our souls, and our spirits."

Vincent paused, lost for words. "We have never sought to explain this bond; we have simply received it and treasured it." His blue eyes sparkled as his gaze drifted to his wife seated beside Anne on the day bed under the arc of stained glass. "Catherine and I are a part of each other…We are as one person yet maintain our separate selves."

Anne looked bewildered and enchanted and Vincent wondered if she understood at all. "I doubt I am making much sense." Vincent apologized.

"Oh, it makes sense," Anne’s eyes fell to the pad of paper she held. "I may not fully understand this bond between you, but it does offer an explanation for why your handwritings are the same."

"Don’t fret, Anne," Father broke in, "I have watched their bond grow and still do not understand it. All I know is that whatever unites them is very real…and beautiful." Father smiled at his leonine son and his wife.

"Anne," Catherine said, "Vincent and I have discovered that when we first met, our individual handwriting was quite different. It has slowly evolved into its present form as changes have occurred in our lives and as we became closer."

"Changes are not unusual," Anne assured, "Just as no two days are the same; our emotional and physical balances go up and down. Personal feelings that are reflected in your writing and then disappear over time will signal a positive or negative influence on how you view yourself and that change in your life."

Anne had to keep herself from blurting out the one question she was dying to ask. "Would you allow me to do a full handwriting analysis on the two of you?"

Vincent looked a question at Catherine. Somewhere within their silent communication they agreed on the answer.

"Yes," Catherine answered for them both. "This should be enlightening."

Father chuckled. "For everyone but the two of you." There were no secrets between the couple; Vincent and Catherine knew each other better than they knew themselves.

Anne grinned. "Ok, I will need each of you to write a letter to each other that is a page and a half long on a piece of blank paper---no lines."

Catherine quickly retrieved sheets of ivory writing paper from the roll-top desk in the corner beside the day bed. Father moved to the bed as Vincent pulled the carved high-backed chairs to the small table in the center of his chamber. He cleared the surface of everything except an oil lamp.

"What do we write the letter about?" Catherine asked as she folded herself into one of the huge chairs. She passed Vincent a pen and a sheet of paper as he sat down across from her.

"It does not really matter…talk nonsense if you wish," Anne said. "I am interested in how the words are put on the page…not the content."

Father and Anne reminisced while Vincent and Catherine wrote, stopping only to chide the mischievous Catherine when she joked with Vincent about switching paper halfway and really mixing Anne up.

***

"Both of you have beautiful handwriting," Anne complimented. She sat in Vincent’s chair at the table; Father seated beside her. Vincent stood behind Anne, while Catherine perched on the arm of Father’s chair. "Free-flowing, breezy, lyrical script…You both have taken calligraphy?" The couple nodded.

"Overall, there is a great amount of energy; a great ability to be open to explore new things; and a deep appreciation for all the people and things that have touched your lives." Anne began as her eyes followed each line of script. Her slender hands gestured over the sheets of paper, barely touching the ivory stock. Here and there she pointed to a word, line, or letter as she explained what Vincent and Catherine’s penmanship revealed. "Vincent has a heavier pressure showing a more aggressive side; while Catherine’s is a lighter, delicate pressure revealing she is more light-hearted and easy-going. Both of you have a rich, full-bodied line that reconfirms what I already know about your deep sensitivity; this includes being sentimental."

Anne went on to explore their public sides; the way the couple dealt with others and how they wanted people to view them. Wide, even margins showed that they treated other people with respect, yet in a reserved way. Both were risk takers, but always acted with caution, considering options first. It was not a surprise to find that this also revealed that they clung to the security of each other, their families, and their homes.

Each line put down was straight, neither dragging up nor down across the page, with comfortable, balanced space between the lines showing discipline, order, and confidence in their lives. Anne pointed out that the couple’s need for visibility and recognition was minimal, that they would rather sit back and observe instead of being the center of attention. They worked toward the good for others, rather then themselves.

Vincent and Catherine reached out to others with true emotion and sympathy. The forward slant of their writing revealed they were friendly and easy to get to know, but remained reserved about the more personal sides of their lives.

Tall lowercase letters had wide loops denoting open-mindedness and active, fertile imaginations. The comfortable expanded look of the shorter letters spoke of public behavior that glowed with inner security and a healthy attitude of self. The couple enjoyed social interaction, yet needed solitude and privacy, which was shown in the simplified single down-stroke of the lower loops of their letters.

The couple had the ability to turn inward for answers and glean from their gut feeling or instinct. Their similar script did have selective returns of loops to the base line showing that they maintained balance in life and the will to achieve. These loops also revealed an undercurrent of restlessness, that they liked variety and change.

"This is the basis of your public side; the person you want others to see," Anne concluded on the first part of her analysis.

"This is how we relate to others and react to our environment," Catherine affirmed sponging up the information.

"Yes," Anne replied, "this is how your public perceives you…I also notice that your capital letters over-score or shelter the smaller text revealing a very private side that you wish to keep safe and hidden."

"You mentioned that before," Catherine remembered.

Anne did not know that Vincent and Catherine were married, nor that they kept the full-extent of their physical relationship a secret from everyone, including Father. It was not out of shame or embarrassment but because they mutually felt it was a very private and sacred matter to be shared between a husband and wife. Their unique union was not without its controversy among a few of those Below and some of the Helpers. Vincent and Catherine would rather have indiscreet conversation limited to whether they did or they did not, instead of how, when, and where.

"Now we will turn our attention to how each of you think as individuals and who you are…the private, inner self," Anne directed. She began by pointing out how Vincent and Catherine connected the letters within their words. Because their script was earmarked with lyrical disconnection, they were open-minded, had good deductive reasoning skills, and keen comprehension. They possessed the ability to weight motives and seek out the deeper, penetrating answers behind those motives within themselves as well as others. Being hard working people, determined and steadfast with their realistic goals, they both had set high standards to live by and were confident and comfortable with themselves.

Being left-handed, Vincent was more inclined to be spontaneous, intuitive, and react with empathy rather than being logical and analytical as the right-handed Catherine. Vincent’s empathic abilities had not been revealed to Anne except within the realm of the Bond he shared with Catherine.

A calligraphy-based style spoke of the couple’s appreciation of cultural, literary, and poetic avenues of thought and study. This, including their deep sensitivity, made them prone candidates for being unbashently romantic in old-fashion ways. The answer to her musing was a shy nod from Vincent and a blushing Catherine.

Anne was taken by surprise to see selective arrow-like t crossbars revealing the occurrence of an occasional blistering outburst.

"Believe me, they occur," Father injected. The beast within his son’s soul even showed itself in his handwriting. Father had often been the recipient of Vincent’s temper, a barely restrained rage of his son’s darker side. He had also witnessed the fierceness his son called upon to protect the ones he loved. Catherine could hold her own in a heated argument, a skill needed in the court system.

Anne continued on to the next part of her analysis that involved the personal pronoun I. Because this letter stood alone, it was a good barometer of self-image. Vincent and Catherine’s self-concept and ego were strong, yet open, relaxed, and comfortable, allowing others to judge them without offering any excuse or explanation for their actions. It also reinforced the aspects of creativity, thoughtfulness, and sensitivity that showed throughout their handwriting.

While most of the I’s were of a cursive hook and loop, there were selective single stroke I showing their independence and tendency to be loners. Anne wondered how this could be in two people who appeared to be inwardly dependent on each other, but remembered that Vincent and Catherine lived apart in the separate worlds of Above and Below. In the daily living of their separate lives they were indeed loners. Catherine, in particular, had struck Anne as a person who did not mind working alone and her insistence of privacy, because of her ties to Vincent and the Tunnels, isolated her further from friends and co-workers. Vincent’s only-one-of-his-kind heritage had its own isolation and loner tendencies.

The hook of the personal I denotes the fatherly influence in a person’s life, while the loop indicates the degree of motherly influence. Anne knew Vincent was raised by Father and his I had a strong parental (fatherly) influence. She was not surprised to find out the Catherine was also raised by her father.

The handwriting analysis concluded with a look at their signatures. The couple signed their names in the middle of the right half of the paper. The placement of the signature and its ¾ inch distance from the text showed close ties to surrounding yet enough separation for individual recognition. Vincent’s signature was more scripted and lyrical than Catherine’s with an elegant calligraphy underscoring showing firm grounding in the confidence he had of his self-image. Both had larger first letters that over-scored the rest stressing their insistence of personal privacy. The lowercase letters in their names were congruent in size and style to the rest of their handwriting showing that the couple exhibited the same personality in public as they did in private. Anne had a feeling that Vincent and Catherine were more reserved around others and less inhabited when alone together; however, she kept this finding to herself.

"Overall, I find that the two of you are determined, resourceful, emotional, intuitive, and friendly. Open, yet private; strong, yet gentle; playful and free spirited, yet disciplined and demanding," Anne concluded with her customary string of adjectives. She sighed happily and then gave a hopeless shake of her head. "I still don’t believe it: two people with the same handwriting…It defies all the odds."

"You are looking upon two very extraordinary people," Father said softly. "Some things are beyond explanation…" He corrected himself with a chuckle, his eyes filled with love for his son and Catherine. "Many things are beyond explanation when it comes to the two of you, my dears."

"Perhaps not all is meant to be explained," Vincent offered his twinkling blue depths on his wife.

Anne agreed with a satisfied nod. "Perhaps you’re right, Vincent---perhaps you are right."

***

"Do you think we will ever understand why our bond is, Vincent," Catherine’s soft voice asked. Her head lay against her husband’s bare shoulder; her breath a warm breeze upon his bronze skin.

The couple lay together in the grand canopy bed waiting for sleep to enfold them. The heavy mulberry fabric was a definite black against the eternal burnished gold glow that illuminated the rest of the chamber.

Vincent drew in a deep breath to speak as Catherine’s tiny hand lazily caressed his broad expanse of chest. "I do not believe it is meant to be understood…If it had an explanation…the magic would be lost," deep velvet tones offered in the sheltering shadows. His encircling arm pressed Catherine closer to his great length. "Our bond is a gift… a miracle…Miracles are circumstances not to be looked into…only embraced…cherished."

Catherine pondered this. "Our bond has so many new facets…constantly evolving…bringing us closer together...one soul."

She abruptly changed her train of thought. "Are we really so alike as our handwriting reveals?" Catherine shifted so that her chin rested on her hand spread upon her husband’s chest, tipping her face toward his as if she could see him in the darkness.

"Father says he sometimes feels he is talking to the same person," the lion-man’s gravel voice rumbled. "He has used the line ‘You sound just like Catherine’ on me…more then once."

Catherine’s lip curled into a smile. " I sometimes find myself using some of your ‘words of wisdom,’ Vincent, even saying them in your low tone and inflection."

She paused as another thought came to mind. "Even though our handwriting shows that we have the same personality, I know that we don’t. I think we compliment each other, like Father said, but I know we are each very different."

"Handwriting analysis is simply a barometer to reveal what traits are there," Vincent said. "We do share the same traits. Some are more pronounced in you or I, but that does not mean that they are not present within us."

"Ah…" Catherine mused, a cock-eyed grin touching the corners of her mouth. "So this is why I appear more…energetic and you are more…shall we say…laid-back and down-to-earth."

"Yes…I suppose." The huge body beneath her rumbled with his chuckle. "I also believe that our bond has allowed us to take on the stronger personality traits of each other and temper it with our own."

"Strengthening our weaknesses too," Catherine added softly.

"Yes."

Catherine giggled. "That would explain your odd trait of being spontaneous…I have not known you to do anything without thinking about it first."

"I am in some things, I am sure," he countered. He shifted to lie on his side rolling his wife to her back and curling a furred arm around her slender waist. He nuzzled his nose against her smooth shoulder.

"But it is not a strong point," Catherine chirped, teasing him. Suddenly, Vincent rose on an elbow and captured his lover’s mouth, sealing her impish words with a masterful, luscious kiss.

Vincent released her and smiled, the unexpected kiss having the desired effect on his beautiful wife; he could turn her mind and body into numbing, blissful jelly with the strength of his barely restrained passion. "I’m learning…You, my love, have taught me the fun of spontaneity."

"Hmm?" Catherine hummed, coming out of her most pleasant daze. "Yes…very spontaneous…I taught you?"

"I have learned many things since I met you," Vincent continued as he lay back down and nuzzled his fuzzy nose into the hollow of her neck and jaw, his voice soft in her ear. " Your arrival in my life has changed me."

"In what way?"

"Studying my older writings, tonight, I discovered that my handwriting has become more open and relaxed as I have shed my dark opinions of myself and fought my own fears to embrace the truth of who and what I am. I have learned to let my own personality show regardless of what others may think." Vincent revealed softly.

"Finding peace within yourself had brought you the most happiness," Catherine whispered. She turned her head and placed a kiss on his bang-swept brow.

"No." The velvet tone of her leonine husband’s voice carried the hint of a smile. He gave Catherine a gentle squeeze. "You, my love, have brought me the greatest happiness and your love has shown me the way."

Vincent turned Catherine to face him, pulling her close. His face was inches from hers and Catherine’s body responded waiting impatiently for the expected kiss that would promise more to come. He rubbed the tip of his nose against hers, a prelude to his kiss.

Vincent stopped short, even his mood changed.

"With the same handwriting...I can help you write out your summaries and dispositions, instead of just looking up laws and dictating information to you." He chuckled. "How is that for spontaneity?"

Catherine laughed. "Do you think we could pull it off?" Her mind ran with the devious idea. Vincent often helped her finish the work she brought home. Many nights of quality time together were spent in this way. With Vincent helping her with the endless task of writing out reports, it would take half the time. She liked this.

"With you helping me, my work would get done quicker and …" Her voice lowered to a husky passion-filled whisper and she tantalized him with tiny hands upon his sensitive skin. "…It would leave more time…" Her words came slower as she kissed the corner of his unique clef mouth. "…For…other things."

"Very intuitive, my love," Vincent breathed upon his lover’s lips, sipping of a kiss. "My own…sensual thoughts…exactly."

*****

Note: handwriting analysis from Handwriting and Personality: How Graphology Reveals What Makes People Tick. By Ann Mahony.