An expansion to Once upon a time in the City of New York.
[A/N: This little piece was inspired by a song I stumbled across recently that
seems as if it could have been written just for Catherine and Vincent. Special
thanks to Vicky, Carole, and Linn for their enthusiasm and support, and for
liking the song as much as I did. And a big hug to Vicky, for actually
recording the song.]
'Cause I know my heart's worth saving
And I know that he'll be waiting
So I'll hold on and I'll stay strong
Till then ...
"I know him by heart"
-Jon Vezner, Paul Williams
Catherine and Jenny sat at a window booth. The remains of their lunches
had been cleared away and they lingered over coffee. The sound of rattling
dishes echoed in the kitchen where the door fanned open and shut as waitresses
hurried about with loaded trays.
"Do you love him?" Jenny asked.
"Tom ... "
Catherine laughed ... "oh, of course."
"No. I mean, of course you meant Tom ... not someone else,"
Catherine replied, looking briefly at the steady stream of people passing by the
"Someone else?" Jenny laughed. "So you don't. Could you, though?"
"I don't know ..."
"You don't know if you could love him?"
"No ... I don't know ... who else."
Jenny met her friend's eyes, the playful smile gone from her face, an eyebrow
Catherine glanced at her watch, "Damn ... the time ... I have an appointment
"So, he's not the one?"
"My dad loves him," Catherine replied, flashing a smile as she gathered up her
coat and purse.
"We'll talk again soon, Jen ... I've really gotta run."
Catherine examined her reflection in the mirror. She was well prepared for
the evening ... black cocktail dress, make-up just right. Good girl ...
She took a final look and pulled one last stroke of the brush through her hair
before she slumped back into the chair.
Do you love him?
She closed her eyes and drifted away to a place she kept secret and apart.
A place that existed but for her belief in it, and her belief in him.
An enchanted place free from fear, where essential truths were whispered and
gentle hands pushed her along the path toward him. A place where fantastic
things were treasured. A place where he lived. Who he
was, she didn't yet know ... but she knew he was, just as she knew her
own heartbeat. Ethereal. Inexpressible. Yet tangible.
He was. In her heart, he was real.
The doorbell rang.
"Are you ready?"
Piano music and fragments of conversations filled the air. There was the
faint ringing of ice against crystal as guests mingled about the room, cocktails
Catherine listened as Eve recounted the story of her broken relationship.
"He told me to just pretend like he was dead ..."
Her heart broke for her friend. Her voice held such bitterness and
resignation. Did Eve also hold someone close, hidden away in a secret
place ... a safe place? Maybe someone she had given up waiting for?
Catherine wanted to ask, but didn't. Couldn't.
She looked across the room and watched her date as he spoke with the
Commissioners, pointing out some detail of the building intricately carved in
cold, transparent ice.
"You could do a lot worse than Tom Gunther," her father had said.
"And have ..." she'd replied. She had done worse. Much
worse. But not much better.
When did 'could do worse' become an acceptable standard, she wondered as she
walked away from her father's office.
"I need to talk to you ... "
A sense of discomfort rose within her as Tom placed his hand on the small of her
back and guided her to a private corner. There, she was scolded for
inattention to his needs ... for showing compassion to an old friend deemed less
"You stick with me ..." he said.
She pulled away and scanned the room, hoping ... for something ... someone.
It was suddenly all too heartbreaking - to hold a possibility so close, yet
always just out of reach.
"Maybe I expect too much ..."
Or too little.
"I think I'll call it a night ..."
She rushed toward the door, wanting to be somewhere else ... with someone
I need you.
Annoyed and frustrated with the events of the evening and with herself, she
barely noticed the man who approached her and offered to help hail a cab.
Waiting ... she was so tired of waiting.
"Hey Carol ...."
No. Not this. Not now.
Her head slammed against hard steel.
The violating grip on her wrists ...
The sickly swish of a blade sliding open ...
She closed her eyes. Where are you?
Cold, damp grass.
gentle hands pushing, coaxing ... this way ...
find him ...
She opened her eyes to darkness ... alone, and felt herself slipping away
Then ... a tender touch. His touch. Powerful arms gathered
her close, offering refuge ... offering hope ... offering love.
She knew this place ...
With what strength she still