The Birthday Wish

Elaine Lozano

The candles sparkled on Catherine's birthday cake. The white-tipped flames pooling into a smooth golden glow over the children and friends in in Father's library.

"Are we gong to sing now Mary?" Eric's voice rose over the excited murmurs of the other children, impatient for something to begin. Taking the cue, William's booming voice climbed over the chatter as he began the familiar chorus.."Happy Birthday to You...."

Immediately, conversation stopped as everyone hurried to join in the familiar song. Catherine smiled over the faces reflected in the dim candlelight. How wonderful, how special they made her feel--I wish..she began...Wish! Her eyes widened slightly--Oh my, I've got to make a wish.

And, there across the table, a child in his lap, surrounded by those he loved, sat Vincent. Sensing her confusion, he tipped his head to one side in that innocent, yet oh so sexy gesture of curiosity as if to ask--what is wrong?

Without hesitation, she caught his movement and immediately a slow smile moved across her face and twinkled in her eyes. He caught the change in her and immediately the tempo of his heart increased 2 beats, while the air inside the room became heavy, to his mind, and harder to breathe. She was staring at his lips! They felt the heat of her eyes and before he could think--his tongue wet his bottom lip, causing Catherine's eyes to shine a deeper green in excitement, as Vincent fought the urge to stand straight out of his chair. Only the sleepy child in his arms prevented that motion.

Catherine immediately dipped her head to hide her mischievous smile. Drawing her arms across her waist, she permitted herself a slight hug to hide the warm sensation in her stomach. Perhaps tonight, at the threshold....

The threshold....the words repeated in his mind over and over in quick succession. The unfolding of her heart's desire to him left no doubt as to her wish at their meeting place. Vincent eased back into his chair. Courage and care, how often he used those words to caution Catherine as to their differences. And now, those words seemed destined to put him on the path of discovery. After all, this was her night….

"Time to make your wish, dear." Mary prompted, sliding the cake closer. Leaning forward, Catherine focused her attention on the amber candlelight reflected in Vincent's eyes and formed a perfect "O" on her lips, as she softly blew out each small circle of light. The wisps of smoke, lifting from each one, held in the increasing dimness of the room, but never caused her eyes to waver with the man opposite her, who discovered he needed to meet the strength of her heart's desire today with the courage of his own as the last spark flickered out, and the party-goers burst into applause.

Later that evening-----

Now they stood steps away from the circle of cool blue light, which would take Catherine back to her world. Hands clasped together, facing each other, the wish of both their hears before them. A quick movement, a wavering breath and one of them would make the decision for the other. But neither broke the dead weight of silence, so Catherine pulled herself away to leave.

The tiny voice of hope whispered to Catherine's heart as she moved away--wait!--wait!--but, she pushed it into silence and turned to begin her ascent up the ladder. With one hand on a cold bar, she looked up into the white halo above, but could not see through it. Why was it so sterile, this entrance to her world? Because she knew what she was leaving behind. All the warmth, all her life was here underground. A lone tear moved down her cheek , as the ladder in front of her blurred out of focus. Don’t cry Chandler, she mocked herself. Don’t be a baby because you didn’t get what you wanted for your birthday.

Suddenly, from behind her, his smoky voice came out of the blackness----"Please… Catherine…" She turned towards that sound and there Vincent stood, at the edge of the darkness, the haze of light from above dulling the gold of his hair. But his eyes--they centered on her with all of his longing, and the small voice she had quieted inside her soared with joy!

Then, she was in his arms, the fur of his fingers, drying the wetness on her cheeks, as he stroked her face in wonder. She held the breath inside her body, afraid to let it out, afraid any movement from her would turn him away. As his fingers skimmed past her lips, Catherine nipped them gently. Instantly, Vincent’s fingers stilled, then with his sapphire eyes locked on hers, drew his hand back to her mouth, stroking the fullness of her lips, till she parted her mouth and enclosed them in a soft, moist kiss.

Catherine’s face was flushed, she felt so warm--kiss me!---kiss me now!--the thought chanted over in her mind--couldn’t he hear her!

Vincent heard. His large hands enclosed her face, pulling her head up against his chin. "Do you know what you want? " His words forced themselves into her consciousness. "Do you know there’s no turning back once this is done!" His eyes almost black in their intent, he unconsciously tried to intimidate her to pull back. But Catherine was his match, and she turned their standoff to her advantage in one motion--rising on her toes and pressing her mouth to his. She gave Vincent no time to think--just to feel, softly curving her mouth to caress him.

Thought fled his mind, his earlier fearfulness gone, replaced with a wonder he had never felt before. No pulling back, only Catherine-as she filled his mind-her feelings suffusing with his--her pleasure at touching him, her desire reaching to him. Catherine further pressed her advantage and let herself drift towards him till their bodies touched, and she brought her arms around his waist to bring him closer against her.

With a sharp snarl--Vincent snapped his head up-surprised by their contact. But Catherine kept her eyes closed--her lips parting into a smile of satisfaction. ‘Thank you Vincent," she whispered, as she started pull away. Her lips still warm from their contact, her mind storing every detail to be pulled from memory to replay later.

Ashamed by his behavior, Vincent’s hands smoothed down Catherine’s arms and caught her elbows, drawing her back. Where was his courage? This woman gave him everything--clinging to every scrap of affection he miserly allotted her when he chose--not when she needed it. She had the courage to move towards love--he couldn’t let her take it alone.

"Catherine", his voice rumbled--smooth and deep--’Catherine", coaxing her eyes to leisurely open. The rawness of emotion he saw there, almost caused his courage to fail him. But her mouth was so tempting, and her body so soft in his arms-he was drawn into the spell she wove. Vincent needed no further persuasion as he tightened his hold, and captured her mouth--giving Catherine her birthday wish--not the brief kiss she had taken, but the one he was giving her--his love, his trust, his hope to give to her as a man does to a woman.

Catherine welcomed his gift, pulling back his layers of restraint, as she would tissues of paper to uncover the treasure within. His gentleness and caring touched her in places no one else had. For a brief moment--she felt her feet were off the ground, as she floated in the warm cocoon he created with slow, lingering kisses, every inch of her lips stroked by his own.

"Happy Birthday Catherine", Vincent whispered, rubbing his nose across hers, the bristles tickling, causing her to smile in delight. She rubbed back, her green eyes alight with mischief---

"Now what can I ask for Christmas?"--she dared him~~~~~~~~