Just Another Day

  by Rusty

 

 Warm and comfy, wrapped lovingly in each others arms, Vincent and Catherine had descended from a night of tender loving into peaceful slumber. It was Saturday, therefore no specific duties or work assignments were looming. It was a temporary, but always welcome reprieve.

Dawn was just creeping upon the new day. Catherine’s alarm buzzed, breaking the quiet serenity of blissful sleep. She rolled over and hit the snooze button, then rolled back to Vincent’s warm self and snuggled even deeper into his chest.

His Catherine, as long as he had known her, never was a fan of early rising. Was it a mistake? Was there something she needed to do? he contemplated for a few minutes. 

“Catherine,” he whispered, nuzzling and kissing her ear, “do you need to be up at this ungodly hour, or did you somehow forget it was Saturday?”  

“Nooo…I made a promise. I’m sorry I woke you so early, Sweetie,” she said reaching up to softly kiss his fuzzy nose. She rose slowly and headed into the bathroom. 

He sat on the side of their bed, waiting, until she emerged half dressed and mumbling to herself. She looked across at her husband’s inquiring face and smiled. 

“I promised your daughter I would take her to breakfast and a day of shopping with Aunt Jenny. And according to good, sweet, Aunt Jenny, tis the season! We need to be up and out at the crack of dawn to get the real bargains!” 

Vincent just chuckled softly and shook his shaggy head. 

This was their daughter’s Saturday off from volunteering at the homeless shelter. Vincent and Catherine had been very careful, not to raise their children in the opulence Catherine’s money could easily afford them. All their children knew it was better to help and give to those who needed it. 

Their four children all volunteered at a shelter or a hospital to help the less fortunate. Jacob, Charles, Joey and Jenny didn’t do it because it was expected of them. They did it because they wanted to help those who couldn’t always help themselves. It was simply the right thing to do. 

“Well, Vincent, my love, I guess you and the boys are on your own today. I’m sure we’ll be out all day and will be exhausted when we get home. You know a day of shopping with Aunt Jenny is always an adventure,” she said, kissing his cheek as she headed for her closet. 

He reached out, caught her around the waist, and pulled her down onto his lap. He proceeded to softly kiss her, his lips teasing hers seductively. 

“Vincent, you stop that this minute! You know I’d rather be here with you…in our warm bed. But I did promise your daughter this experience.” 

He laughed softly and buried his face in her hair, inhaling her scent to remember until she returned. He then regretfully released her with a sigh. 

“All right, if you must Catherine, but I will miss you. Now go have a good time with the two Jennies. By the way, I do believe our Jenny is pacing outside the bedroom door.” 

Catherine opened the door, and a whirl of strawberry blonde hair flew by her and straight into her father’s arms, knocking him back onto the bed, laughing. 

“Morning, Daddy! We’re going to breakfast and shopping all day with Aunt Jenny. Isn’t it great?” Her enthusiasm vibrated all around her. 

“Yes, it’s great Princess. Have a good time, and try not to tire you mother and Aunt Jenny out too much,” he said smiling and kissing the top of her head. 

Catherine rolled her eyes, chuckled and finished dressing. She felt the joy in their Bond rising in him as Jenny gave him the priceless gift of daughterly love. 

“Catherine, I’m sure the boys and I will find things to do. I did promise them a night in the park, and their favorite game,” he said, laughing deep down in his chest. 

“But Vincent, with the snow, can’t they track you?” Catherine questioned with a smile, and a wink of her eye. 

“Perhaps there are a few things I haven’t taught them yet, if for nothing else but self preservation,” he stated with a sly grin on that beautiful exotic face. “In case, Catherine, you hadn’t noticed, our sons are no longer little boys. They have become wise, wary, big and strong.”  

****

 

The ladies were gone and the boys slept late, a rarity for them. It was their Saturday off also from volunteering. Jacob was away at Harvard Medical School. They all missed him greatly, but were truly happy for him. He was following in his grandfather’s footsteps and fulfilling his own dreams of being a doctor. Soon, if all went well, he would be home on break. It was an unusually quiet Saturday morning in the brownstone, and Vincent decided to take full advantage of it. A good book, a steaming mug of herbal tea, and the crackling embers in the fireplace did the trick. 

“Perfect,” he whispered to himself.                                                  

 

 ****

 

Around noon, Charles and Joey were finally up. They showered, ate a big breakfast, then each played a game of chess with their father. They all  spent the remainder of the day visiting Below. 

Vincent checked their Bond; Catherine was having fun with the “Jennies.” Good for them, he thought. Catherine is right, we live like any other family, with only a few restrictions, and most of those don’t count for much. 

Joey came into Father’s library and found his father beating his father at chess…again. 

“Dad, is it time for our game yet?” Joey asked with teenage enthusiasm. 

“Yes, I believe it is Joseph.” Vincent tried not to smile at Father who was staring at the chess board intently. 

“Joey my boy, didn’t you beat your father at this game this morning? Are you going to show me how you did it, or make your poor old grandfather suffer still another trouncing?” 

“I wished I’d beaten him this morning, Grandfather. Guess I wasn’t awake enough. Then again, maybe you were just too good of a teacher,” Joey added, feeling a little sorry for his grandfather. 

“Father, Joseph doesn’t want a chess match, he wants to go up into the park, and hunt.”  

“Hunt? Hunt for what?” Father asked looking perplexed. 

“Me.” 

“You? Why in the world would he want to hunt you?” he asked quizzically. 

“It’s their favorite game of hide and seek, or to them, it’s Find Dad. Actually it’s a good way to get exercise and sharpen their skills at being aware and observant. When Devin and I played, it was Find Vincent. You just didn’t know about it then, Father.” 

“Did Devin always find you?” Father asked with a small grin. 

“About half the time and the other half I caught him while he was looking for me. We were just boys, and it was the sort of thing boys did.” 

Father smiled and shook his head, “Boys will be boys, I guess.” 

Checkmate ended the game, and they started off for the sliding door at the park entrance. Vincent instructed them to give him a five minute start before opening the door. The boys nodded and smiled devilishly, which didn’t go unnoticed by their ever-observant father. 

Vincent proceeded out. He closed the sliding door and left the tunnel entrance, leaving footprints in the dusting of new snow on the grass. He walked up to the tree line, and then carefully retraced his steps backward until he was at the tunnel entrance again. He silently went down a side tunnel a little way until he heard the door slide open, and his sons start out to track him.  

Hmmm…I believe that was only three minutes, Vincent thought, grinning to himself. 

The boys reached the tree line and lost his tracks. Charles stopped and remembered, backtracking. He turned. “Come on Joey.” And they headed back to the tunnel entrance. In the mean time, Vincent had come out of the side tunnel, swung himself up on top of the drainage pipe, and lay flat until the boys had re-entered the tunnel. He knew they would check the side tunnels next. That gave him just enough time to retrace his steps up to the tree line and then out into the park. From there he could go all different directions. He could find areas that the snow hadn’t covered, and places where there were numerous tracks from many different feet. 

Vincent found a small stand of trees where he could see a large area in the park and watch his sons try to find him. It was cold; he was glad he put on that extra sweater. Even with his cloak, just standing around and not moving, let him feel the chill a little more. Not as young as I used to be, he considered to himself. Well, at least the boys would stay warm, since he could see them searching and tracking him. They were looking at the correct signs, trying to discern which direction he had taken. He knew they were getting closer, and they were enjoying the challenge. Their bond was full of excitement and energy. Fortunately, there were no others in this area of the park now, that’s why Vincent had chosen this spot. He knew Charles was considering that also. 

When it seemed they were getting a little too close, he lobbed a snowball into some bushes far to his right. The boys alertly heard the noise. Joey turned and started to toward the bushes; Charles stopped him. 

“Wait Joey, that’s a diversion Dad’s using to send us in the wrong direction.” 

Ah…you remembered, Charles, Vincent thought. His son recalled that trick from the last time they played this game. 

After about twenty minutes, Vincent decided it was time to go back. He started low and slow through the trees. He was sure he’d get away when a snowball hit him square in the back. It caused him to slip on the snow covered slope. He started to  slide down the embankment, only to be pounced on by his two, no longer small, sons. They all rolled down the slope and laughed, trying to bury each other in the snow. Finally, they lay there trying to catch their breath. He felt their pride at the fact they had caught him; and his own pride in his sons’ capability. 

“Hey guys, lets make snow angels. We aren’t too old for that are we, Dad?” Joey said, getting up and looking for an undisturbed spot in the snow. 

“You’re never too old for snow angels Joseph,” Vincent said, smiling at his youngest son. 

They each found spots of their own to create their angels. As they headed for home, Vincent looked back and noticed the boy’s angels were almost as big as his. His chest swelled with fatherly pride. 

While the boys took showers, Vincent made hot chocolate. He even found some oatmeal cookies from the day before. He wondered how they hadn’t been found and eaten yet. Cookies have a short life span in our home, he thought, laughing to himself.  

The boys came into the study for their treat of hot chocolate and cookies, while their father went to take a shower.

“You will save me some, I hope,” he said to his sons, trying to look forlorn. 

“Better hurry, Dad, we won’t make any promises,” Joey said with his mouth full of cookie. 

The shower felt wonderful. He just stood there letting it sooth him from the chill of the hunt and snow battle. He returned to the study to find both boys asleep in front of the fireplace. Each with a big pillow and wrapped in a soft tunnel quilt. Their hot chocolate was gone, but they did leave him a few cookies. Now, they must have been tired, he thought. He’d leave his sons there for the night, no sense in disturbing them. 

“Sleep well, my beautiful sons.” He closed his eyes and thought, my sons… her precious gifts to me. 

He closed the door to the study and proceeded to take the mugs and dishes down to the kitchen.

 

**** 

A little while later, Catherine and Jennifer quietly opened the front door and put their packages near the foot of the stairs. They noticed a light on in the kitchen, and advanced closer to investigate. Catherine was sure it was one of their sons raiding the fridge, not an uncommon event in their home.  Instead, they saw Vincent standing in front of the refrigerator, hands on his hips, staring into the appliance quizzically. He didn’t seem to notice they were home. 

“Vincent, are you looking for something in particular, or simply cooling the kitchen?” Catherine said with a grin and a wink at their daughter. 

He turned with a half smile on his face and threw his hands up in the air in dismay. 

“Catherine, I have observed all of our children do this many times, and have no explanation for it. I have asked each of them on occasion what they are searching for. They always say nothing; I don’t understand this phenomenon,” he said, looking totally mystified. 

His wife and daughter just laughed at his sincere confession. He smiled at Catherine as she kissed him and gave him a loving squeeze. 

“Oh Daddy, we had a great time. Mom and Aunt Jenny got tired, so we had to call it a day.” She came into the kitchen to give him a big hug and kiss, then headed for her room, leaving him feeling all warm inside. 

“Catherine, the boys are asleep in front of the fireplace, and I didn’t have the heart to wake them,” Vincent said, taking her arm and turning off the kitchen lights. 

As they headed upstairs, he saw all the packages and smiled.

“May I assume you left some of the bargains for others?” he asked as he carried the bags upstairs for her.  

“Yes, we did. It was fun, and buying for those Below and Above is always a fun challenge.” They walked up the stairs together and she hoped he wouldn’t drop anything. 

“Vincent, I’m so tired, that all I need is you holding me in your arms to have all I’ll ever need or want. Our daughter is unbelievable, she never gets tired, and moves fast, even in those crowds. But we had a great time with Aunt Jenny; it will be a wonderful memory for her. We may even make it an annual event,” Catherine said as she undressed and went into the shower. 

She crawled into bed and snuggled next him before asking, “Did the boys, Find Dad?” She had felt it though their Bond, the exhilaration of the hunt, but mostly the joy of being with his sons. 

“Yes, they did. Charles is getting better every time. He doesn’t make the same mistake twice, and he throws a mean snowball” he said rubbing his shoulder. 

“Want me to kiss it and make it better?” Catherine wickedly asked. 

“Hmmm, I know you ladies had a good time and enjoyed the thrill in the hunt for bargains.”  

He pulled her closer to inhale her fresh-from-the-shower scent; it gave him so much joy and comfort. 

“Catherine, you have made our world as normal as any. You are remarkable in so many ways, I don’t think I will ever not be surprised by what you can do. I am truly the luckiest man in the world.” 

“No, Vincent, we are the luckiest people in the world, both our worlds,” she whispered. 

With that, he kissed her tenderly on her eyes, her cheeks, her nose, and finally, her lips. They were content to hold each other with gratitude for the peace flowing through their Bond. It was just another day of their lives to add to the memories they would bring again and treasure.

 

The End