But think that we
Are but turned aside to sleep
They who one another keep
Alive. ne'er parted be.
~ John Donne ~
“Is she there, Jacob?” he asked.
Jacob, laughing and cooing, reached toward that spot and his fingers seemed to close around something that was there but unseen.
“I’m here,” he thought he heard and he felt a feather light kiss on his cheek.
Wondrously happy, Vincent greeted everyone he met with a joyous good morning leaving many of his friends staring after him open-mouthed. He placed a smiling, gurgling Jacob into Mary’s welcoming arms. She wondered at the change in Jacob as he had never been a particularly happy child. Jacob always had a searching look in his eyes as if something was missing in his life. This morning that look was gone and, to top it off, Vincent was smiling at her as he had not for months. Bemused, her eyes followed his relaxed, powerful form as he left the chamber.
“Good morning, Father.”
“Ah, Vincent. There you are.” His practiced physician’s eye noted how nimbly Vincent bounded down the small stairs and lightly strolled over to join him at the table. “Have you had breakfast yet?”
“I didn’t take the time. I hurried to talk with you.”
Father handed him a plate filled with muffins and fruit. A full cup of herbal tea sat on the table in front of him. “You are more your usual self this morning,” Father said. “Have you decided to temper your mourning for Catherine at last?”
“Yes, but not for the reasons you think.” He paused as if gathering his courage to tell Father what had happened. “I have something wonderful . . . marvelous and frightening to tell you.” Once again he paused, searching for the right words. “You of all people, know and understand the bond that exists between Catherine and me.”
“Yes,” Father nodded.
“How it was the loss of that bond that kept me from saving her.” He sighed deeply remembering the night he lost his soul. “Since that night I have been lost and alone . . .”
Father leaned over and rested a comforting hand on his arm, “Never alone, Vincent.”
“. . . lost and alone with no light to guide me through the dark,” he continued, toying with his cup, turning it around and around in its saucer.
“Don’t you have a bond with Jacob?”
“Yes, of course, but he is my son, she is my life.” He clasped his hands in front of him as he continued, “Her love and trust taken from me has made my life a thing of pain and aloneness.” He raised his eyes to Father’s. “I have often thought of joining her,” he said, offhandedly.
“No, Vincent" Father gasped. “She would never want that.”
“You don’t know, Father,” he said, quietly but brightening he added, “All that is academic now.” With a strange look in his eyes he asked, “In dreams, do figures feel solid, Father?”
“In dreams, yes.”
“Could the bond exist in dreams, Father?”
“In dreams, yes.”
“Does the bond exist, awake?”
“No, not awake.”
“But it does, Father. Somehow the bond has been restored.”
“You mean that you can feel it even now?” Father asked in amazement.
The most glorious smile swept across Vincent’s face, “Yes, it is as strong as it ever was.”
Father’s eyes flashed with suspicion. “You said you have something to tell me. What you have to tell me, does it concern Catherine?”
Vincent was staring at his hands. He raised calm eyes to Father’s troubled ones. Ignoring the question, he said, “I don’t know where to begin.”
“At the beginning is usually the best,” Father replied, sharply.
Vincent took a deep breath and began, “I had just put Jacob down for the night. I was restless,couldn’t sleep, and I began to pace back and forth. Finally, I threw myself on the bed. Every fiber of my being was aching with the want of her. I needed to feel her in my arms, to see her smile. I was never more alone then I was at that moment. . . . . . . . .”
. . . . . . . . .Burying his face in his hands, he cried, “Catherine.” If he could, he would have wept but there were no more tears left. In his misery, he sat on the edge of his bed rocking back and forth.
“Vincent.” The sweet music of her voice cut through him like a knife and he froze in mid-rock. He sighed, shook his head and continued to rock.
“Vincent, look at me,” Catherine’s voice demanded.
“No,” he moaned. Desperately,
he shook his head. God, how he wanted her to be there, needed her
to be there. But he was afraid, afraid that when he looked she would
“Please, my love, you must look at me,” she begged. “The window is closing. There’s not much time.”
Fearfully, he raised his eyes to lock them with her shining, loving green eyes and stared at her for several seconds. At last, he stammered, “Ca . . . Catherine? Is it really you?”
He gazed at her yearningly, “Oh, I have missed you.” His body leaned toward her, straining to reach her.
Loving him with her eyes, she
said, “And I have missed you.” Suddenly, she asked, “Do you believe
in me, Vincent?”
“Oh, yes,” he breathed, drinking in her beauty.
She took an aching step toward him, “Do you believe in my love?”
“Why do you doubt that?”
“Say yes, Vincent, please,” she begged.
“Yes, I believe in your love.” Why was she asking these questions, she knew that he knew how much she loved him?
“Do you believe I am here now?” Anxiously, she awaited his answer.
“How can I doubt that when I see you before me? Yes, I believe.”
With a glad cry she flew across the room and threw herself into his waiting arms toppling him over onto the bed. She lay on top of him wrapping her arms around him.
“This can’t be,” he said, “I held you as you died. Am I dreaming or have I finally gone mad?”
“Neither. Remember what Narcissa told us.”
“Yes, I remember.” Oh god, how good it felt to hold her in his arms once again.
“That we are each half of a single soul. When you stood in my balcony doors saying that as long as you lived, I lived in you, always, I knew then that whatever happened I could never leave you . . . ever.” Gazing tenderly at him, she softly asked, “Do I feel like a dream?”
“No, I can’t explain it but you feel real.”
“Kiss me. Please.”
Rolling over until he was above her, hesitantly, he lowered his mouth to hers and as he claimed her lips in their first real kiss, their bond burst into life. He could feel her love flowing through him banishing all the dark places in his heart and soul. “Oh, Catherine, I believe, I believe,” he said as he released her mouth to look into her loving green eyes. He crushed her to him in wordless joy. What magic was this that restored his Catherine to him? What did it matter? She was here and in his arms, alive and loving him. He wanted nothing more in life than the feel of her forever in his arms. Tears of joy began to course down his cheeks falling onto her beautiful face.
“Oh, don’t cry, Vincent,” she said as she traced the tracks of his tears and kissed them away.
“These are tears of happiness, Catherine,” he replied, laying his cheek against her hair. “I never thought to see you again.”
Just then Jacob began to fuss. Smiling at Vincent, Catherine went to pick him up. “Oh, how beautiful he is,” she exclaimed. “Hush now, Sweetheart, are we ignoring you? Do you feel left out?” She took one of his little hands and raised it to her lips. He had such a lovely baby smell and she filed this memory away in her heart.
She laid Jacob beside Vincent and took her place opposite him. With Jacob between them they played with their son until he fell asleep. Vincent looked up to catch a smile on her face. “What makes you smile, Catherine?”
“The look on your face.”
“Why? What kind of a look do I have?”
“The look of a father watching over his child. It’s beautiful.” She reached across Jacob to caress his father’s stubbled cheek.
“I never thought to be a father, it is a miracle I never thought to see.” Vincent lovingly touched his son’s hair. “Watching him grow was my only joy in a world without you,” he said grimly.
“Ah, but you will never be without me,” she said lightly. She scooped Jacob into her arms. “It’s time this little boy was in bed and time for you to go to bed, also.” She looked pointedly at Vincent. “I know you have a busy day planned for tomorrow.”
“I don’t want to go to sleep, I don’t want this night to end. I’m afraid if I go to sleep you won’t be here when I wake up. What if this is just a dream?” Shuddering, he said, “I don’t think I could go on if I lost you again.”
She laid their beautiful son in his crib, gently kissed him, and returned to her love. Taking his hands in hers, she looked deeply into his eyes. “Trust me, Vincent, you can never lose me. I will always be here.”
“Forever?” he begged.
“Forever,” she pledged. “If I’m not here when you wake in the morning look to your heart, you’ll find me there and feel our bond, it will be there, too.” She kissed him lightly and commanded, “Now, to bed with you.”
“But there is so much we need to talk about,” he protested.
“We have all the time in the world for our talking, love. Now, you need to rest.”
Vincent obediently crawled under the blankets then held them open for her. “Will you lay down beside me?” In answer she slid in beside him and he enclosed her in his arms. “Sleep, my love, I am here,” she said, stroking his cheek. She closed her eyes and snuggled into his embrace.
Despite the fact that he wanted to stay awake and watch over her all night he finally fell asleep, to sleep without nightmares for the first time since she died. What dreams he did dream were happy ones, about a happy life with her and Jacob . . . . . . . . .
“Vincent,” Father almost roared, “You cannot believe this. It was a dream.”
“No,” Vincent shouted back as he slammed his hand on the table upsetting the teacups. “No dream. She is as real to me now as you are.”
“But, Vincent,” Father pleaded, “this borders on madness. Delusion.”
“If this is delusion then I welcome it . . . gladly. I was slowly dying; my dreams shattered. Now our souls have been reunited and I can live again.”
“This is wrong,” Father blustered. “It will only cause you un. . . .”
“Unhappiness,” Vincent interjected. “You used those words when I found Catherine. Look how wrong you were then.”
“I feared for your welfare. I only want what is best for you.”
“Then leave me to my delusions.” He looked sadly at Father. “I thought you, of all people, would understand.”
“I do understand, I do.”
As he stood up and turned to go Vincent shot back, “No, you do not. . . . . . .I will be in the lower galleries if you need me.”
“Vincent, please, we must talk,” Father pleaded as he stalked away.
“There is nothing more to say,” he heard as Vincent disappeared down the tunnel.
Father sank back into his chair dropping his head into his hands and heaved an unhappy sigh. “I was afraid of this,” he muttered under his breath. “His profound grief has led him to the edge of madness.”
“He’s as sane as you are, Father,” he heard Catherine whisper in his ear.
“Now I’m hearing voices,” he chuckled, ruefully. He dismissed what had just happened but a seed of doubt had been planted in his mind.
On his way to the lower galleries
Vincent decided to see Narcissa. Immersed as she was in her arcane
pursuits, she didn’t hear his quiet entrance until he called, “Narcissa,”
as he entered her
She turned unseeing eyes to him. “Vincent. Enter, child.” She was always glad to have this tormented, unhappy man visit her. Many were the times that she had comforted him. She knew he had an important question to ask her, a question that only she could answer. “Has your Catherine come to you?”
He stopped short to stare at her, “How did you know?”
“I have my ways,” she cackled. “The father, he does not understand?”
“No, he thinks I am going crazy.”
“In time, he will understand. But you have come to ask a question.”
Vincent nodded. “How long can Catherine stay with me?”
Peering at him with her almost sightless, white but all-seeing eyes she asked, “What does she say?”
“That she will stay forever.”
“And you, child, what do you say?” She took his large, furry hands in hers, grounding him.
“I want her to stay forever. Neither Jacob nor I can live without her.” Even though he knew she could not see him clearly he looked at her pleadingly.
Giving his hands a little shake, Narcissa completed the magic, “Then it shall be as you say. Forever.”
He threw back his head in joy and relief, “Thank you, Narcissa. You have given me back my life,” then bent and kissed her on the cheek.
Her unseeing eyes followed him as he left her. “Oh, thank you, child. It has been a long time since I have been kissed.” She touched the spot where he had kissed her. It had all worked out as she had hoped it would. Vincent had his Catherine back in his life.
Catherine turned from putting Jacob down for the night. The look of contentment on Vincent’s face caused her heart to leap with joy. She ran to him and threw herself into his arms. He caught her in his strong arms and fell back on the bed, laughing. “Are you happy, Vincent?” she asked.
“Yes,” he whispered, “now.” He pulled her close into his arms and somberly said, “When you died the light died in my world. Everything became dark and gray. Each day was a year of pain and longing . . . each night a century of hopelessness. I had lost you.”
Hugging him tightly she said, “You never lost me, love. I was locked away in your heart. Held there by your unremitting grief. Only when you finally called to me could I come to you.”
“How could I know?” he sighed.
“You couldn’t, love, but I’m here now. All that is in the past. There are no regrets for either of us.” She snuggled deeper into his embrace.
“There is one regret I must face,” he told her.
She knew, instantly, who he was referring to. “Diana?”
Surprised, he asked, “You know about her?”
“I know everything that happened after that night on the roof.” She raised her eyes to his to let him know that they had no secrets from each other.
“I’m afraid she wants more from me than I can give her.”
“She loves you,” she stated the obvious.
“I know. It is something I never wanted that I will have to deal with when she returns. I don’t want to hurt her, she has been a true friend.”
“You’ll find a gentle way to tell her, to cause as little pain as possible.” Lifting her face to his, she asked, “Kiss me, Vincent?” After a long and ardent kiss she laid back in his arms. “Do you know how much I love you?” Bemused, he looked at her. “Of course you do,” she laughed, “how silly of me. I should have said ‘Do you know why I love you?’”
“You always care more about other people than yourself.” She answered her own question.
“Other people have cared about me. I have had the best of teachers, Father, Mary, Devin, and a host of others. And you, above all you. You saw all of me and loved me. How could I not care about the people around me?”
“You are the one that taught me how to love, Vincent. I never knew love before you. I thought I did but it wasn’t until I met you that I learned what real love was like.” Smiling she hugged him tightly and pulled him back down on the bed with her.
The next night Vincent came striding into his chamber with Jacob in his arms. Waiting for him, Catherine was sitting in his large chair. She held out her arms for Jacob. After giving him to her Vincent stepped back, folded his arms across his chest, and leaned against the entryway watching her play with their son. When she looked up at him, he was gazing at her with a peculiar look on his face. “What?” she asked.
“What are you up to, Catherine?”
“I don’t know what you mean,” she answered, innocently.
“We have had three intruder alerts today and they all describe you.”
“Oh,” she said in a small voice, “that.”
“Yes, that,” he said, sternly.
“I was just finding the extent of my world,” she explained.
He shook his head. “There is more to it than that, Catherine. Tell me.”
Taking a deep breath, she replied, “I am real to you and Jacob.” Then she paused, marshaling her thoughts, “I want to be real to Father and the others. I want to go freely among them and I want to walk the tunnels.”
“I know, I have felt that way, too. A refuge but, also, a prison. We will walk the tunnels tomorrow, together.”
“Thank you. I knew you would understand.” She smiled at him, a radiant smile on her face. “And we’ll go see Mouse, Mary, and Rebecca?” she asked, excitedly.
“Yes, we’ll certainly go see Mouse. He, definitely, believes in you. You scared him.”
“Oh, I didn’t mean to scare anyone,” she replied, contritely. “I love Mouse, all of them.”
He bent down and kissed the top of her head. “I know. We’ll see everyone, Catherine,” he promised.
“Vincent, may I come in?” Father called as he walked into the chamber.
Catherine started to hide in the chifforobe. “Stay, Catherine, it’s time Father accepted your presence,” Vincent said to her.
He turned to the chamber entrance and answered, “Come in, Father.”
Father limped into the chamber. When he started to say something to Vincent, he caught sight of Catherine. “I need you . . . . . .” He gasped, thunderstruck, and his hand went to his heart. “My god, . . . . . Catherine!”
On tenterhooks, she looked back at him wondering what he would do. “Yes, Father.”
“It is you. You’re really here. I can’t believe it. I don’t . . . ? I can’t . . . ? How did . . . ? I’m sorry, but I seem to be babbling,” he said with an effort. “It was you in my chamber the other morning.”
Smiling, she replied, “Yes, it was me.”
“Forgive me, Vincent, for not believing you.” Weakly, he sat on the side of the bed. “I still find it hard to believe.” Turning to Catherine, he asked simply, “How?”
Shrugging her shoulders, she answered, “I don’t know . . . Maybe what Narcissa said is true after all. Apart we are only half of a single soul, together we are whole and complete. I could not bear the thought of being apart from him.” Lovingly, she gazed up at Vincent. “Heaven would be hell without him. So I just stayed.”
She walked over to Father and kissed him lightly on the cheek. He touched his cheek in wonder. “You are flesh and bone,” he said as he felt her face and arms. Again he asked, “How?”
“How? . . . . .I just am. I’m real to Vincent and Jacob. Maybe that makes me real. I really don’t know.”
“Well, what do we do now?” Father asked rising from the bed.
“We introduce Catherine back into our world. Slowly. Mouse, Rebecca, and Cullen have already seen her. They were shocked but not too frightened. Especially, when they realized who it was. We will walk tomorrow through the tunnels and, if what I believe is true, the more people that see her the more real she will become. Those who believe in her endow her with reality,” Vincent answered.
“Well, I . . . uh . . . I don’t know what to say,” Father said. “But to have you back . . . I have no words to tell you how happy it makes me. I completely underestimated the strength of your love. Welcome . . . Welcome back.” He opened his arms to her. She caught her breath and with a happy laugh she turned into his arms hugging him tightly.
“I’ve missed you, Father,” she whispered.
“I’ve missed you, too,” he replied patting her on the back.
Catherine’s return was the talk of the tunnels for a few days then everyone just accepted the situation as it was and went on with their lives. After all, with Vincent and Catherine anything was possible.
“Vincent! What can I do for you?” He finished sending the message he was working on.
Vincent put an ear to one of the pipes listening to the messages going back and forth enjoying the sounds that kept his world functioning. “Would you put a message out that I am to be notified as soon as Diana Bennet comes into the tunnels?”
“Sure. Do you expect her soon?”
“I don’t know when she’ll come.”
The little man looked up at his closest friend and asked, “Vincent, can I ask you something?”
“How, Vincent? How did this happen? How did Catherine come back? Do you understand any of this?”
Vincent shook his head. “No, I don’t but it happened and I am very grateful. To have Catherine back is a miracle I never dreamt of in my widest dreams.” As he left the pipe chamber he said, “Please let me know as soon as Diana comes. Thanks, Pascal.”
Nodding his head Pascal was already tapping on the pipes as soon as Vincent turned to leave.
Mary gathered Catherine in her arms as soon as she stepped into her chamber. “Welcome back, my dear,” she said fervently.
“Thank you, Mary, it is good to be back. I feel as if I am finally home.” Catherine stepped back from Mary’s embrace. “We’ve come to ask you to watch Jacob for us while we visit Olivia and Luke.”
“Give me the little angel,” Mary replied taking Jacob from Vincent. “You two, go on now and enjoy yourselves. Jacob and I will have a fine time.”
“Thank you, Mary.” As they started into the tunnel, a message came over the pipes. Vincent stopped. “Diana is here.”
“Go to her, love. I’ll wait here with Mary. Jacob can entertain us.” As he started to leave, she held him back. “She loves you, Vincent. I know you will be as gentle as possible but she may not accept it. I may have to talk to her myself.” He nodded then strode resolutely away. Turning back to Mary, she said, “Well, Mary, looks like we can spend some time together getting reacquainted . . . ”
Vincent stepped out of the shadows as Diana drew near.
“Vincent,” she exclaimed, happy to see him. “How are you? It’s been so long that I decided to come see you myself.”
“I’m well. You seem well and happy.”
“Yes, I am. I finished an important case and we caught the man.”
“Good.” They walked in silence for a few minutes.
“How is Father? And Jacob?” She asked into the silence.
“Father is well and Jacob is wonderful. Growing like Topsy.” His pride in his son was evident in his voice and his eyes.
“He’s such a happy child,” she enthused. “He’s a joy to be around.”
“He has Catherine’s disposition . . . her iron will.” This was the first time he had ever volunteered any information about Catherine and Diana hoped that this signified that he was moving through his grief to the eventual acceptance of her death. Her hopes were to be dashed in the next few minutes.
Silence descended once again and stretched out until he said, “Diana, I must talk with you. I know a place where we can be alone, private. Come with me.” Her heart pounded in anticipation.
He led her into a side tunnel that opened onto a narrow path which widened as it gently sloped upwards. Then they came upon a scene of exquisite beauty, three waterfalls tumbling into an underground lake of crystal clear water in a cavern lighted by large quantities of luminescent lichens.
“This is beautiful,” Diana exclaimed.
“Yes, this is Catherine’s favorite place.” He looked around the cavern, a slight smile on his face. “We often come here to talk and enjoy the sound of the water, to be alone together.”
Diana wondered at the use of the present tense but pushed it to the back of her mind. She didn’t want to think or hear about Catherine Chandler today, she just wanted to spend a quiet hour with him, alone. They sat on the large stone that passed for a bench and watched the falling waters for a while. She lost herself in the peacefulness of the scene and jumped when Vincent abruptly stood up and faced her.
“Diana, I must ask you a question and then I have something I need to tell you.”
“All right,” she slowly nodded her head.
With great difficulty Vincent asked, “What is it . . . you . . . want from me?”
“To be my friend,” she answered quickly, just a little too quickly.
He turned to look out over the underground lake. Taking a deep breath, he said, “I have felt lately that you want more from me than I am able to give you. I can be your friend but nothing more.”
Diana sat quietly, head bowed, for a minute absorbing what he had just said. She gathered her courage and looking up at him said, “I want you to forget Catherine . . . ”
He swung around to face her. “Forget Catherine? Are you mad? I can never forget her, she is my life,” he broke in, fiercely.
“That’s an unfortunate choice of words, I’m sorry, I want you to come to terms with her death and move on with your life. That’s all I want from you.”
That’s all she wants from me? Can this woman not understand what she is asking of me? What she asks is impossible even if Catherine had not returned. I thought she understood the depth of my love for Catherine. Impatiently, he shook his head. “What I have to tell you makes all that unnecessary.” He sat beside her and took her hands in his.
Puzzled, she asked “What do you mean?”
Earnestly, he began, “I’m going to tell you something unbelievable and miraculous. Something concerning Catherine.” Then he related the story to Diana as he had to Father.
She sat in stunned disbelief as she listened to him relates the events that had supposedly taken place in his chamber. “Surely you don’t believe this really happened,” she said. “It was a dream. Nothing but a dream.”
“So I thought at first but Catherine soon proved it otherwise.”
“Don’t you see what you’re doing? You can’t face her loss so you are creating a dream world where she does exist.” She rose and paced away from him.
“No, she lives in my heart and our bond is as strong as ever.”
“Yes, of course, you feel it.” She turned to him trying to get him to see what he was doing to himself and to Jacob. “You want to and the others will see what you want them to see.”
Frustrated, he rose to stand in front of her. Maybe if she looked into his eyes, she would see the truth of his words. “Catherine was seen by Mouse, Jamie, and Cullen before they knew of her return.”
Diana shook her head. “Vincent, you can’t continue to live in a dream world. You’ll go crazy.”
“At least I will be happy,” he retorted and flung himself away from her.
“Please, Vincent, I love you. Let me help you through this dark time,” she pleaded as she followed him and gripped his arm.
He shook off her hands looking down at her sadly. “You don’t understand, this is not a dark time. . . .”
Gratefully, he heard Catherine’s voice. “Vincent, Father needs you. I’ll stay with Diana until you return.”
Diana could see all the tension drain out of his body. She buried her face in her hands as Vincent left. She staggered back to the bench and collapsed on it. “I’ve lost him,” she whispered through her tears.
“He was never yours to lose,” was the soft reply.
“But I love him.”
“So do I,” said the voice.
She raised her head and looked into the compassionate green eyes of Catherine Chandler. “My god, it is you.”
“Yes.” The compassion in Catherine’s eyes was almost more than Diana could take.
“I don’t know. What does it matter? Diana, he may never love you the way you want him to but you can have something almost as priceless . . . his friendship. A love different in kind but not in degree. He will cherish you, care for you, protect you. There are very few friends life that.”
Catherine put her arm around Diana’s suddenly stiff shoulder. “And I would like to be your friend, as well, we could watch over him, care for him . . . the two of us. Will you let me be your friend?” She laid her hand gently on Diana’s arm. “Will you?”
Diana threw off her arm and jumped to her feet. “No, are you crazy? To ask me to be a friend of the woman that has taken away the only man I will ever love? I can’t, I won’t? You ask too much of me.”
Catherine looked at her sadly. “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
“What other way do you expect me to feel? If you hadn’t come back, he would have turned to me. I could have helped him through his pain,” Diana cried.
Catherine was getting angry. In a stiff voice, she responded, “I’m afraid you misjudged the love that Vincent and I have for each other.” Staring at her, she stated in no uncertain words, “You never had a chance. Not one. Zilch. Nada. Vincent would have never turned to you.”
Each word was like a hammer blow to Diana’s heart and she retaliated. “Oh yeah, maybe you don’t know him as well as you think you do,” Diana flung at her.
In a brittle voice, Catherine asked, “Let me ask you, Diana, do you have a bond with him?”
“No, I don’t need one.” Diana raised her chin in defiance.
“Then how do you know how he was feeling? I have one with him and I know that he loves me and only me.”
Diana collapsed on the bench, dropping her head into her hands. She began to cry great gulping sobs. Between sobs she said, “I love him so much that I want to die if he turns away from me.”
Catherine was instantly at her side taking her into her arms. “Oh, Diana, you don’t know him at all if you think he will turn away from you. He loves you. It’s just not the love you want from him. He will always be your friend if you let him.”
“I don’t know if I can be just a friend to him,” she sobbed.
“Take a little time away from here. Come back when you feel you are strong enough to face him. He will always be here if you need him.” In slow caressing circles, Catherine rubbed Diana’s back and held her head to her shoulder.
Diana raised her head and gazed wonderingly at Catherine and asked, “Aren’t you even a little jealous? I was of you.”
“No, because I know in the deepest part of my heart that Vincent loves me and only me. There could be no other for either of us.” She soothed Diana’s hair back from her face and tucked it into the braid falling down her back.
“I think I need to go home now,” Diana said.
“Do you want Vincent or me to guide you back?”
“No, I can find my own way, I’ve been down the path enough times not to get lost,” she said with a self-deprecating laugh.
“All right, be well, Diana,” Catherine said as she embraced the unhappy woman. “Come back someday, Vincent doesn’t want to lose your friendship.”
Diana turned to look at her, wondering, “What do you want, Catherine?”
“I want whatever makes Vincent happy and if keeping your friendship makes him happy then that’s what I want.”
“You’re an amazing woman, Catherine Chandler. I don’t know if I could do that.”
“You’d be surprised what you can do in the name of love, Diana,” Catherine answered.
“Well, good bye,” Diana said.
“Good bye, for now,” Catherine answered and she watched Diana walk listlessly out of the chamber.
Vincent entered the cavern to find Catherine staring at the falling water. He came up behind her and put his arms around her. “Was it difficult?” he asked.
“Yes,” she answered, “she had visions of you and her living happily ever after.”
“But that is impossible, even if you hadn’t returned I would never have turned to her for love. Your love is the only love I need or want,” he said, pulling her into a tighter embrace.
“I know but some people can mistake your kindness and friendship for something greater.”
He shook his head, “I cannot be any different from what I am.”
Quickly, she turned to him and stroking his cheek she said, “Oh, I don’t want you to be any different from you are, you are my love and I want you to stay just as you are.”
“Do you think Diana will return?” he asked nuzzling the top of her head.
“In time she’ll return but it won’t be soon. She has to realize that she’s worth more than second best. She’s an intelligent woman and she will eventually realize that.” She sighed deeply because she could imagine how she would feel if she ever lost Vincent’s love then smiled to herself because she knew that that would never happen. Arms around each other’s waist they left the chamber and returned to their new life.
The Beginning . . .