Your Place Or Mine?
By Barbara Hill
They stood at a junction in the tunnels. Vincent would leave her here to go on alone into the world that demanded far too much of her time. Since their marriage almost two years before Catherine had truly become a woman of both worlds just as Vincent had once told her she was. Most of the time the arrangement worked out all right. There were times, however, when the situation was very hard to accept. Today was one of them.
Catherine could feel his reluctance to let her go. She could also feel the slight twinges of resentment he fought so hard to control. The fact that he rested his shoulder against the opposite side of the stone wall from her and did not touch her attested to the fact that he was upset. Catherine leaned against the wall on her side, stuffed her hands into her pockets and tried desperately to sort her thoughts.
They were supposed to be making a journey to the lower tunnels right this very minute. A journey that was to give them much needed time alone. It was also a chance to discover more of the wonders of this unusual world they shared as well as the wonders they were still joyfully discovering in each other.
Between his work Below and Catherine's work Above, not to mention chores and commitments after work time alone together was a very rare commodity. They'd made their plans over a month ago and Catherine knew Vincent was really looking forward to it with anticipation. She had been too, until a message received from Joe late the night before had spoiled their plans.
There was a major problem with the case she and Joe had spent so much time on over the past several months. A problem that had to be fixed (like yesterday) in order for the case to go to trial on schedule. Catherine would have to come into the office Saturday morning for a meeting.
The unexpected change in plans had left Vincent feeling slightly agitated and more than just a little frustrated. As they walked he'd reasoned that Catherine wouldn't be going if it weren't extremely important. He was the one who had encouraged her, then finally convinced her to keep up with that part of her life after she had moved below.
Her work was important. Catherine had been able to help a lot of people. Her only compromise had been in giving up that part of the job that seem to put her life in peril so often and in informing Joe that she would no longer work late hours or take her work home.
For the most part, the compromise worked, but there were times that it became a sore spot with Vincent. For while her new role in the DA's office kept her safe, it also gave her much more responsibility in the investigative area of her cases, and there were many nights that Vincent lie in bed waiting for Catherine to finish a brief or some other paper work. Even so, Vincent was proud of Catherine and her work, and even more proud that she had chosen him to share her unusual life style with. As a rule he accepted her busy schedule with complacency and made no complaints. Until today.
Catherine glanced at him and smiled inwardly. He leaned against the wall, one hand stuffed in his pocket, staring dejectedly. The slight pout marring his uniquely beautiful features gave him the look of a little boy being denied his heart's desire. At this moment all she wanted to do was drag him off somewhere and kiss him until that disappointed look was gone. Past experience told her, however, that they would never stop with just the kissing and she couldn't miss the meeting. With a deep sigh of regret, Catherine pushed back her desires and tried to make amends.
"Vincent, please. I don't want to go, you know that, but it has to be really important or Joe wouldn't have contacted me on a weekend like this. You know how important this case is, how hard Joe and I have worked on it. Please don't be angry. I have to go."
Vincent heard the disappointment in her voice and immediately chastised himself for giving her even more to worry about. "I know you have to go. I'm not angry, Catherine. I'm just..." His long, drawn out sigh echoed his disappointment at more lost moments with the most important person in his life. "I was really looking forward to this week-end with you."
"I was looking forward to it too, Vincent. I was the one who suggested it, remember?" She listened to his soft, even breathing for a few moments until she felt his anger subside, though not his disappointment. Reaching around the corner of the wall, he took her small hand in his.
"Catherine, I'm really sorry. I have no right to do this... no right to feel this way."
Catherine put a finger to his mouth to silence him. "You have every right to feel this way, Vincent. We had plans for this weekend and they've been interrupted. You have a right to be angry and upset about that. I am."
Vincent smiled softly. "Perhaps, Catherine, but I knew when you moved Below that you would have to divide your time between both worlds. I knew there would be times like this."
"So did I, but that doesn't mean that we have to like it. I certainly don't." Catherine wrapped her arms around his shoulders, one hand gently caressing the back of his neck. "I promise I won't be late. Whatever the problem is, I'll get it taken care of as quickly as possible. I know it will be too late to go through with our plans, but we can still spend some time alone together tonight." She kissed him lightly and smiled mischievously. "Next week-end we'll take that trip together. I promise."
Vincent silenced her in the same way she had silenced him and smiled knowingly. "You should know better than to make such a rash promise, Catherine." With one sharp nail, he very gently traced the outline of the face he found more beautiful than any held ever known. "We will make our journey another time."
Catherine nodded her head slowly in agreement. "You're right, Vincent. Until this case is closed I guess I can't really make you any promises." She touched his cheek gently. "I really am sorry, Vincent."
Taking her hand in his, Vincent placed a kiss in the palm. "No, Catherine. It is I who should apologize. I guess I've been feeling..."
"Yes. I have no excuse for my behavior except to say that I've missed you these past few months since you became involved with this latest case. I just wanted to spend some time alone with you."
His soft voice held a slight trace of guilt at his selfishness and Catherine's heart melted. She reached up to smooth his hair back from his face. "And once more, my world has conspired to keep us apart." Catherine leaned against him. "I'll make it up to you, Vincent. That I can promise you."
Vincent leaned down slowly to cover her mouth with his. Catherine shivered as he gently rubbed his exotic lips against hers before finally claiming them in a passionate kiss. She moaned softly when his large hands caressed her back. Catherine was taken completely by surprise. This was going to be one of those kisses and, if this was the case, she knew she was lost.
Feeling her knees grow weak, Catherine pulled away reluctantly, whispering, "Oh, Vincent. Please? I really do have to go. Joe is waiting."
Vincent grinned with satisfaction and leaned down to kiss her again, only to find himself interrupted once more: this time by a mouse. The large, two legged variety that called the tunnel his home.
"Vincent! Vincent! Come quick! We need you!" Mouse skidded to a stop in front of his two most favorite people in the world. From the frosty look they both gave him, he knew he had interrupted something. Again!
"Oh! Sorry . . .didn't . . . wasn't . . ." Mouse hung his head in embarrassment.
Catherine leaned against Vincent's strong frame, still shaking and weak with desire. Vincent buried his face in the top of her head as Catherine clutched the folds of his vest for support. Mouse continued to stutter and stammer his apologies as he poked at the dirt on the floor of the tunnel with the toe of his boot.
"It's all right, Mouse, it's all right. What is it you need?" Vincent's calm voice finally got through to the excited young man.
"Oh! Problem. Big leak. Need your help. Come quick. Quick!" He turned and scurried away as fast as his namesake.
Her face still buried in the front of his vest, Catherine laughed softly. Pulling back to look up at him, she found Vincent smiling somewhat sheepishly.
"It would seem that your world is not the only thing that conspires to keep up apart, Catherine." The smile spread to include his eyes. "It does seem as though we have our problems, doesn't it?"
Catherine stood on tiptoes to kiss the tip of his nose. No way was she going anywhere near that delectable mouth again. At least not until it could do them both some good.
"That does seem true, but somehow we always seem to manage to find each other and that's all that really matters." She gave him a gentle hug. "I've got an idea about tonight, though. Why don't you come above? We could spend the night and all day tomorrow in the apartment. Just you and me -alone." Catherine wagged her eyebrows at him.
Blue eyes sparkled with passion as Vincent nodded his head slowly.
"Good! Tell Father you won't be home until tomorrow night, but don't you dare tell anyone else where you're going. Tonight and tomorrow is just for us. Another light kiss and she turned to leave.
Vincent watched her walk away, his pulse racing at the thought of the evening that lay ahead. At the ladder leading up, Catherine turned to speak.
"Yes. Catherine. What is it?"
"When you kissed me before, you were... " Catherine hesitated, not sure how to continue. "You were going to..."
"I kiss you every chance I get, Catherine. I enjoy kissing you very much. Why does this particular kiss concern you?" Vincent fought back the rising feeling of self-satisfaction flowing through him. He knew exactly what she was getting at. He'd made the joyful discovery long ago of just how effective his kisses could be on Catherine. It had been a source of complete wonder and pride for him from their very first kiss.
"Because this particular kiss, Vincent, would have...I mean if Mouse hadn't interrupted us, you know darn well I wouldn't be leaving to go Above now. You know what your kissing me like that leads to." She wasn't angry with him, just curious.
"And you are wondering if I would have carried through with it if not for Mouse's untimely arrival. Is that it?"
"Yes. Would you have stopped me from going above that way?"
"No, Catherine. I wouldn't have stopped you that way. Now, you'd better go before Joe comes looking for you."
Catherine blew him a kiss before turning to climb the ladder. Vincent watched as she disappeared from sight, a slight look of doubt clouding his clear, blue eyes. "At least I don't think I would have . . ."
The terrace doors were opened wide in invitation. Darkness seemed to be taking an eternity to arrive. While she waited, Catherine's mind drifted back to countless other nights waiting for Vincent to come to her. She was startled out of her reverie as Vincent's tall frame suddenly filled the open doorway. A soft breeze played with his thick, golden hair. He stood, hands on hips, blue eyes flashing impatiently. Catherine could sense his barely controlled desires as they reached out to engulf her. Vincent stared in awe at the sight that awaited him.
Catherine sat on the bed, wrapped in a soft blue robe. Her left hand clutched the bodice lightly, holding it closed. The neck fell open to reveal just enough creamy white skin to make Vincent want more. Her honey colored hair shimmered with the lights from the candles she'd set about the room and her green eyes smiled seductively as she selfishly accepted the praise his ardent gaze bestowed upon her. He thought her beautiful and Catherine knew it, accepted it...gloried in it.
The room was alight with candles in every corner. Catherine smiled softly as Vincent's eyes fell on the lamp setting on the bedside table. It was lit and would remain lit, Vincent knew, until they decided to call it a night. As much as she loved candles and the atmosphere they lent to their passion filled nights, Catherine was very insistent about leaving the lamp on as well.
It had taken her a lot of loving, amorous nights in this apartment to convince him of her reason and Catherine had relished every moment of it. Quite simply put she loved to look at his body and took every opportunity to do so. Though he would probably never understand why, he'd at least accepted it and given in to her requests for more lights. Besides, the lights also afforded him a better look at her too and this was something he thoroughly enjoyed. He stopped at the foot of the bed and gazed down at his heart's greatest treasure. Catherine sat very quietly as he removed his cape and draped it over a chair.
"How did your day go, Catherine. I trust you and Joe were able to straighten out whatever the problem was."
Catherine shifted slightly, letting the robe fall open just a bit more, allowing Vincent another tiny peek at the pleasures that awaited him.
"Everything's just fine. The case goes to court as scheduled. I really don't want to talk about that, though."
"What would you like to talk about then, Catherine."
Catherine shivered as she saw a confident smile light up his eyes. Tonight was a night for seduction and they both knew it. "I don't want to talk about anything right now." Her eyes flashed with pleasure as Vincent began to undress. "Except for maybe one thing. There is the matter of a kiss I'd like to discuss with you."
Lying back against the pillows, Catherine whispered softly, seductively, "Only you can show, not tell me." She held up her hand. "Come to bed, Vincent."