Blame It On The Moon
(An alternate beginning for Vincent and Catherine)
By Catherine Scotton
The law firm’s New Year’s Eve party was in full swing and midnight was fast approaching. Cathy Chandler sat in a quiet corner, nursing her drink and talking with her father.
"Cathy," aren’t you stimulated by the work, don’t you find it rewarding?" asked Charles Chandler, concerned that his only child was not happy in her chosen field.
"When I think of corporate law, ‘stimulating’ is not a word that comes to mind." Cathy replied.
"But when you put your mind to it, you’re a fine corporate lawyer."
"No, Dad. I’m the daughter of a fine corporate lawyer."
"You know I just want you to be happy, don’t you darling?"
"I do know that Dad. I’m just feeling a little adrift at present."
"Is everything going all right with Tom?" Charles inquired, probing gently. "You could do a lot worse you know."
"And have," Cathy raised her eyebrows as she remembered some of her less successful romantic entanglements.
The subject of their discussion spied Cathy across the room. Tom Gunther made his way toward her through the throng of revelers at the party.
"Cathy, it’s nearly midnight," said Tom. "I want you with me when the clock strikes."
"Take her away, Tom," ordered Charles Chandler. "She’s all yours."
"You make me feel like a parcel," Cathy replied, only half joking.
5... 4... 3... 2... 1... Happy New Year! Party streamers exploded, glasses were raised and further merriment ensued.
Tom drew Cathy into a kiss, deeper than she was prepared to go. He noticed her reluctance, but ignored it. Once he had a ring on her finger she’d fall into line. Marrying Charles Chandler’s daughter would be a good move—for him.
Cathy pulled away from Tom, unsure of what she was feeling. She was confused by her changing reactions to Tom. Lately she had been feeling repressed by his escalating attempts to control her life. She felt as though she was losing herself.
"Are your evening classes finished already Vincent?" asked Father.
"Yes. Following a spirited discussion of Macbeth, I’ve left the children planning a re-enactment of the witches scene," Vincent replied. "Samantha is extremely excited about the idea and Kipper and Geoffrey don’t see why they shouldn’t be witches too. They’ve gone to visit William to arrange a cauldron."
"So, what are your plans for the rest of the evening?"
"I thought I’d go Above," admitted Vincent reluctantly. He knew Father would not receive this information well. "There is a full moon tonight and it does my soul good to walk in its light."
"Vincent, your forays Above have been increasing of late. You continue to put yourself, and our world, in danger." It was an old argument.
Vincent spread his hands in exasperation, "So I must live forever in the confines of these tunnels? That’s no life at all."
"Believe me, I do understand." Father said.
"Do you? Can you? Everyone who lives in these tunnels, can enter the world Above. You can come and go as you please, blend in, while I must scurry in the shadows and hide myself from view. The full moon is the closest I get to sunlight, reflected, as it is, from that distant rock. I will not give it up."
Vincent knew that when Father remained silent his argument had resonated. Or that, at least, Father knew he was fighting a losing battle.
"Well, I’m glad there is only one full moon per month. Take care, Vincent."
"I will Father. I always do."
Vincent returned to his chamber for his cloak. He gazed around his room. It was home. This chamber held so many treasured possessions, little pieces of the world Above, salvaged over a lifetime. Souvenirs found during adventures with Devin, his childhood friend and surrogate brother, along with Winslow, Pascal and even Mitch—the troubled soul. Devin had left the tunnels many years ago and many Below thought he was dead. But Vincent knew he was alive and in his heart blamed himself for Devin leaving. There was a huge hole in Vincent’s life after Devin left—his confidante, his partner in crime—his brother.
Vincent collected his cloak, left his chamber and headed for the tunnel entrance in the park. He knew he used this threshold too often, but he was anxious to be outside and this was the quickest route.
The steel door slid open and Vincent pushed through the gate. He pulled the lever to close the door and swung the gate shut. A sudden noise made him pause, then an unfamiliar smell, diesel fumes? He was instantly on the alert and in the process of re-opening the gate when four men, dressed in black, advanced on him. High powered rifles and flashlights were aimed at his head. His hands shot up to protect his eyes from the lights, and to hide his face.
"Do not move, or we will shoot." One of the men shouted in a strong French accent. "Bring the truck," he spoke into a walkie talkie on his lapel.
Vincent backed up against the gate, desperate. He realized that right here, right now; there would be no escape for him.
How did these people find him, he was always so careful? Who had betrayed him?
A growl formed, low and full of menace, in his throat. His hands were tensed, ready for any opportunity to attack.
The men closed in, one of them carried a thick chain. Two guns stayed aimed only inches from his head and a third at his chest. He could do nothing, frustration filled him and despair grew with each passing second.
"Put out your arms," the command was snapped at him.
"Get him chained," the leader ordered the man holding the chain.
"Please, don’t do this. I beg of you," Vincent looked at each of the men in turn with helpless eyes, but to no avail.
The man with the chain came forward and wound it around Vincent’s wrists. He placed a padlock through the chain, leaving a length to dangle. He picked up the end and pulled Vincent roughly forward and down the tunnel to the park. He knew that the guns never left his head.
A small black truck was parked at the tunnel entrance and Vincent was forced inside. The loose end of the chain was padlocked around a metal strut on the inside of the truck.
Vincent sank to the floor, trapped and helpless.
I’m sorry Father. First Devin, and now I’m about to disappear too.
Vincent slumped dejectedly and shrank into himself. A tear of frustration coursed down his cheek.
They spoke of payment, Canada and genetic research, but all Vincent heard was betrayal, loss and slow painful death.
Catherine woke late and stretched lazily. She thoroughly enjoyed the fact that for today, and for weeks to come, this would be how her mornings began. After New Year she’d had a heart to heart with her father about the direction of her life and her uncertainty about Tom. He suggested she take some time away from the office and visit their summer house in Connecticut, to clear her head.
What a wonderful, caring man he was. Catherine suspected he had been relying on her to eventually take over his partnership in the firm. But he was her Dad, first and foremost, and she loved him for allowing her to have doubts, and for giving her the time to re-assess her life.
January in Connecticut! Hmmm..., it was not really a wise choice of destination for a woman alone. The house, however, was well stocked and always had a good supply of firewood.
"Just promise me you won’t take that little toy car of yours Cathy," Charles Chandler had chuckled. "Take a Cadillac from the car pool. I’ll be happier with that."
"Yes, Dad, I promise," she’d replied. "And I’ll have the tires and the oil checked before I go."
Catherine stretched again and sighed. Well here I am. Just me and me, in this big ole house.
Throughout the first day she wandered the house and reacquainted herself with childhood memories. Everywhere she turned brought back happiness, brought back pain. It was years since she had been to Connecticut. Her father had been reluctant to come here for a while after her mother’s death and then, for Catherine, invitations from friends took precedence. It became somehow easier to avoid holidays at their summer house than to witness her father’s melancholy.
From the bookshelf she lifted down the complete works of William Shakespeare. She flicked through the yellowed pages and then returned it to its place.
Why is it that classic literature invariably ends up in holiday houses? She mused.
The days passed quietly for Catherine; she had plenty of time and just wanted to enjoy this solitude, to think of nothing and no-one in her safe cocoon, her quiet cave. The time for introspection would come later. She lit candles, burned incense and drank tea. She flipped through old magazines, walked down to the frozen lake, baked cookies and made soup. This was what her soul needed—respite.
As she listened to the radio one evening there was a storm alert, not uncommon in Connecticut in January, but they had billed this one ‘the storm of the century’.
She phoned her father to reassure him that she was fine and had plenty of food and firewood. After the call, Catherine stoked the fire and settled in for the duration. She listened to the wind as the weather grew worse, signaling the arrival of the storm. It howled through the trees and battered the eaves of the old house. Snow began swirling in waves onto the front porch and she thought she’d be lucky if she could open the door by morning. It was comforting to feel snug and warm, wrapped in a blanket by the fire while the storm raged outside.
She dozed, lulled by the wind.
Vincent crouched, wretchedly, in the back of the truck as it made its way further away from New York, his home, his safety. In the light from a small globe on the roof the guards remained vigilant; the barrels of their guns never left him.
He felt they had been traveling for hours; but he was quickly losing track of time. It was freezing in the truck and Vincent could hear a gale blowing outside.
The driver appeared to be pushing the vehicle hard to get through the storm.
The storm, however, had other ideas. A combination of the icy roads and the driver’s recklessness sent the truck into a spin on a bend. It tumbled down an embankment and crashed into a tree, splitting the truck in two.
The impact was so violent that Vincent was thrown from the truck. Still tethered by the chain he was flung against a tree. He felt ribs crack and his shoulder dislocate. He hit his head, and a protruding branch tore at his face, before he landed heavily on his hip.
Vincent fought against the blackness that pulled at the edges of his vision. It called enticingly to him. He worked his hands free of the shackles, as he pushed back the pain. When he looked back at the truck he saw two bodies in the front cabin. The other men, who had been in the back with him, were strewn, very dead upon the landscape.
Vincent chased away the insistent call to succumb to oblivion and moved away from the wreck. He hobbled into the trees, to distance himself from the road. The storm was in full force now, snow whirled around him, blinding him, but as he had no destination it was of little consequence. He fell repeatedly, rising in agony, to push himself further away from the truck.
To what? To where? In his miserable, forlorn state, he expected no help. He was far from home and he knew who he was and how he looked. He knew too, from long and bitter experience, that men feared what they didn’t understand.
Just lie down ... lie down and die ... let go ... stop fighting ... just stop breathing.
His legs buckled once more, pitching him forward into the snow.
No, not like this!
He forced himself to stand yet again and blundered onward, fighting the elements and fighting the pain.
He saw a light through the shroud of snow; a welcoming glow, a flicker of promise. It was not for him though, never again for him. But humanity was close and he was driven to die close to it.
Vincent moved with agonized slowness. He located shelter, merely two walls and a roof attached to the side of the house, to protect fire wood from the elements. He crawled in as far as he could. Logs tumbled. They rolled on top of him until he was half buried by them, causing further pain to his already injured body. He began to shiver uncontrollably as hypothermia set in. He didn’t have the strength left to care.
Better to die here, now, close to another living being. Better to just fall asleep and let go in this frozen forever.
Vincent gave himself up to the pain. He groaned into the gale.
Catherine woke with a start. She’d heard something.
It was probably a raccoon on the porch. She thought groggily.
Slipping on her coat she grabbed a flashlight and let herself out the front door.
Wow, what an amazing storm. A true January Nor’easter, don’t get them like this in New York.
Somehow the wild night, the wind whipping through the trees, suited her mood. She hugged her coat close and walked to the edge of the porch to take in deep breaths of frigid air.
No raccoon out here. Any self-respecting raccoon would be tucked up safe and sound tonight.
Catherine caught a movement over the edge of the porch. There was a ‘mound’ in the woodshed.
A bear? Fear enveloped her.
As her eyes adjusted to the darkness she saw booted feet sticking out. She shone her flashlight into the woodshed and a figure took shape, wearing a dark, patched cloak.
She should go inside, bolt the door and call for the police. But she looked at the state of the weather and soon realized that any help given this night would have to come from her.
Moving closer, she extended the flashlight, for light firstly, but also as a makeshift weapon. Catherine gently touched her sneaker to the boot of the stranger.
"Are you all right?" She inquired. "Are you hurt?"
Leaning further in Catherine placed her hand tentatively on the cloaked hip and gently shook it.
A moan issued from the darkness.
"Hello. I can help you, Sir. But I have to move you inside; you’ll freeze to death out here."
She angled the light into the depth of the woodshed and saw, what? The face wasn’t right, the hand that rose to the face to shield it from the light wasn’t right. Nothing about this whole situation was right, but she was determined to move forward in her mission to get this man inside.
"The light. It hurts my eyes." A deep husky voice said with effort.
She swung the light away, unwilling to add further distress to this man.
Catherine rested the flashlight on the ground and started to lift logs from his body. The physical activity warmed her a little but also made her realize how cold this man must be.
How long had he been exposed to this?
She was losing feeling in her limbs after only five minutes. It was imperative she get him into the house.
"You’ll have to help me. I can’t lift you on my own," said Catherine.
Something must have registered because the man, ever so slowly, raised himself to his hands and knees and backed out of the shelter.
Catherine reached for him. She put his left arm around her shoulder and with a joint effort they struggled upright. The hood of his cloak fell forward over his face. He was breathing heavily now from the exertion, and a moan was forced from his throat.
They commenced the trek to the foot of the stairs.
"There’s just a few steps," she encouraged him.
He swayed against her. She could feel a solid, strong body, shivering beneath her hands. He was leaning heavily on her, he seemed drained of all strength, and they were not up the stairs yet.
"Can you pull yourself up using the railing?" she asked.
He reached out, his cloak covering his hand and commenced to battle the seemingly insurmountable climb to the porch.
On reaching the top he leaned over, gasping raggedly and holding his side.
Oh, what pain he must be in. What could possibly have happened to him?
"We’re nearly there," she encouraged.
Once at the door he placed his trembling hand on the doorframe. Her eyes widened in disbelief when she saw his hand; it was furred and clawed. She was struck with a sudden, unnamable fear.
"Please, if I can just rest here on the porch," he murmured with humility upon sensing her disquiet. "Thank you for your kindness."
Something in his voice, in the way he said those words reverberated deep inside Catherine and she made a decision. She pushed the fear away and found the courage to continue.
"I wouldn’t leave an animal outside tonight." She told him.
He sank lower at that, she had somehow wounded him further. She felt a flush of regret rise in her cheeks. Whatever else he was, he was a man, hurt, freezing and alone, and she was his only hope.
"Come on. Let’s get you inside by the fire."
Hoisting him higher with her shoulder she heaved him over the threshold and kicked the door shut behind her with her foot. He collapsed onto the mat in front of the fire, rolling in pain.
The hood fell back from his face, revealing something—unexpected. She saw a face so unlike any she had seen outside of a picture book. Surprisingly she wasn’t horrified or frightened—his features were almost leonine. His face matched his hands and his hair, mane-like, was golden and long. It was his voice that calmed any fear she may have felt. She could still feel it resonate within her. There was nothing to fear in that voice.
Unsure of how else to help, at this stage, she retrieved a warm quilt and placed it over him.
He sighed and lay still.
Catherine slept on the sofa that night to watch over her charge, to be there if needed. In the morning she brought a bowl of warm water and a cloth and cleaned the blood off his face as best she could. She loosened the tie on his cloak, lifted his head and placed a pillow under it.
The gash on his cheek had stopped bleeding and once cleaned it showed only a ragged scar remaining. As she wiped his face she let her fingers softly touch him. His nose was lightly furred, as were his brows which disappeared under his bangs. She timidly touched his cheek with the back of her hand. He felt warm at least and for that she was grateful.
As she’d predicted the porch had a foot of snow on it by morning. It was still very grey outside. The worst of the storm was over, but a light snow still fell. She picked up the phone but the line was dead; she was not surprised.
"Well, it’s just you and me, mister." She told her silent companion.
He remained unconscious throughout the day. Catherine spent hours just looking at him, his features, his teeth. He fascinated her and the more she looked the less she saw his differences and the more she saw his alikeness. She couldn’t explain it. Catherine longed to see his eyes. When she looked into his eyes, then she would know for certain.
To help pass the time, and to maybe penetrate his mind, Catherine selected Great Expectations from the bookshelf and commenced reading aloud. She hadn’t read this since high school and couldn’t even remember how it ended.
She occasionally grabbed a quick meal and a drink from the kitchen, but felt compelled to stay by his side. She kept the fire stoked as well.
In the evening he became unsettled, thrashed restlessly, moaned in pain.
She heard him say, "Father … Devin … No … Not like this."
Catherine sat by his side then, spoke soothing words of nothingness and held his hand. She stroked its furred back and when he settled again, it was into a deeper, more healing sleep.
During the second night of her vigil, as she sat in the darkened room, Catherine was pleased when the moonlight shone through the window. The clouds were dispersing and the storm was finally over. The moon illuminated the man lying on the floor. The scene felt magical and unreal, and she was sure that in the morning she would open her eyes and it would all have been a dream.
She fell asleep clutching her book for comfort, for its solid reality.
Vincent became aware slowly. He wasn’t dead. If he were dead, he was certain it wouldn’t hurt like this, in theory. He moved his arms experimentally and stifled the groan he felt rise, he touched his ribs, his hip, his head. He’d live, he concluded, but the healing wasn’t done yet. Upon opening his eyes he saw a vision, a woman asleep on the sofa. His savior—his angel. He lay quietly and watched for an eternity the gentle rise and fall of her chest as she slept. Her skin looked so soft, her face—exquisite, and her hair—perfect.
Maybe he had died, because this was heaven.
Eventually, she stirred, the book she held slipped to the floor and the sudden noise brought her awake in an instant.
Their eyes met and held.
"Uhh!" Catherine was startled. Soulful blue eyes engaged hers and she was falling into them.
Misreading her exclamation, Vincent hastily grabbed for his cloak to hide his face.
"I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you," he murmured. "Please, don’t be afraid. I’ll go now."
Aghast she sank down on the floor beside him and pushed the hood away from his face.
"No. Don’t misunderstand me. It’s just that you’re finally awake. And you’re certainly not fit to go anywhere."
They continued to regard each other.
"What’s your name?" she asked eventually, breaking the silence.
"My name," he paused. "Vincent."
"Vincent." She repeated, "I’m Catherine."
"Catherine." The way he said her name sounded like a benediction.
"My appearance," he continued, suddenly self-conscious. "I should leave."
"No, I’ve been watching you for two days Vincent, and I’ve grown used to your appearance. I don’t think I’ll ever be frightened of you again."
He gasped at this admission.
"I have so many questions," Catherine admitted.
"I know," he replied. "May, may I have some water first?"
"Of course, I should have thought." She returned with a glass of water, helping him hold it to his lips. He drank slowly, thankfully, savoring the taste of the first liquid to pass his lips in over two days. He leaned back against the sofa, breathing heavily, when he was finished.
"Catherine," he said, thoroughly embarrassed, "I need … a bathroom."
"Well, let’s get you on your feet and I’ll show you where it is," came her matter of fact reply.
Wobbly, upright, but lightheaded from the change of position, Vincent allowed Catherine to help him to the door of the bathroom.
"Thank you." He lowered his eyes, uncomfortable with the situation. "I’ll manage from here."
When he emerged a while later Catherine was just coming from the kitchen, carrying a tray containing soup and sandwiches.
"Please, sit with me on the sofa," she invited, when Vincent tried to return to the floor. He eased his battered body into the far corner of the old sofa, holding his ribs. He sighed in relief.
"Thank you," he said, as she handed him a mug of soup. A plate of sandwiches rested on a low table she had pulled between them.
Catherine sensed his discomfort.
"Have some food. You’ll feel much better with a full stomach." She picked up a sandwich and turned to look out the window.
Vincent sipped from his mug. "It’s good soup," he complimented, and then reached for a sandwich.
He turned away to take a bite, embarrassed by his teeth. He had not felt this self-conscious in years. Everybody Below knew him and accepted him, through long years of association. How could this woman who knew nothing about him accept him so readily?
To ease his discomfort Catherine started to tell him about herself. About why she was here in Connecticut in January, about her life in New York and about the decisions she was facing in her life. He listened, trying to give his perspective when he could.
Before he knew it all the food was gone and there was warmth suffusing through him. He had just started to relax when –
"Vincent, how did you end up here?" Catherine asked.
He told Catherine about being kidnapped then. Not wishing to dwell on what had happened so recently, he related the events briefly, with no emotion. The devastation to his emotions was still too raw and the unelaborated facts were painful enough. He just wanted to forget.
"Do you know … I don’t want to offend you, but why do you look this way?" She was sorry to ask him this, but wanted desperately to know more about him.
"I don’t know. I have ideas. I was born, and I survived. I was found outside St Vincent’s hospital, which is how I came to be named Vincent. I was brought to the man who became my father."
"Are there more—like you?"
"No." One lonely word. "There is only me."
"Where do you live?"
"I can not tell you where. The safety of too many good people relies on our home being kept a secret."
"Vincent, I’ll keep your secret."
"I know, but it’s not just my secret—I can tell you how we live."
He told her then about the life of the tunnel dwellers. How they supported each other, tried to have as good a life as possible. He told her of Father and how he’d started their community so many years ago and was a doctor and looked after them all. About Mary who was like a mother to everybody, about Winslow and Pascal and the children. His face lit up when the talked of the children. He explained about being their teacher, told of their excitement over the ‘Witches’ play. Then his eyes clouded as he realized the distress everyone Below must be feeling, not knowing what had happened to him.
"Who is Devin?" she asked suddenly, breaking into his contemplation. "You spoke his name during the night."
Devin. How to explain Devin? Vincent thought.
"He was my best friend; he was like a brother to me. We shared a room for over ten years. He was so full of life."
"There was a misunderstanding between us. He thought I’d told Father about his buying a penknife when Father had forbidden it." Vincent paused, looking shyly at Catherine. "I hadn’t told, but we quarreled and I—scratched his face." Vincent lowered his head and curled his hands into fists to hide his claws. His hair fell forward, hiding him from view.
"And?" Catherine persisted.
"Devin was always the one who dreamed impossible dreams for me." Vincent lifted his head and stared into the distance, reliving the past as he continued his tale. "When he discovered the truth he arranged a ride on a carousel. There were several of us and Devin got the carousel working. It was magic. The lights, the music; I’d never known such joy. Suddenly, there was a shout and a mounted policeman demanding we show ourselves and we all ran. I was younger than the others and fell behind. Devin came back to help me and was caught. I threw a rock at the man and he let go of Devin. We managed to get to safety but Father and Devin quarreled, dreadfully. Devin said things I know he didn’t mean, but a few days later he was gone and we haven’t seen him since. It weighs heavily on my heart still. Many think he is dead, but I don’t. Sometimes I sense an echo of him inside me. The things he dreamed of doing, the life he wanted, he had to leave. But he took a part of me with him."
"Oh, Vincent, that’s so sad." Catherine spoke softly.
"It was Devin who first took me to see the moon, that wonderful, luminous orb. It is why I went out that night. There was a full moon and I was weary in spirit and in need of its light. I did, however, get more than I had bargained for."
"Vincent," she decided to change the mood. "How would you like to use the shower? It will help ease your aches and you’ll feel more human."
Instantly realizing she had made another blunder in her choice of words Catherine looked at Vincent for his reaction.
Taking pity on her he answered with a twinkle in his eyes, "Thank you, Catherine, that would be—most welcome."
She showed him how to get the hot water going, and where everything was.
"I’ll bring you a change of clothes. My father keeps plenty upstairs."
"Please, that’s not necessary," he continued to be overwhelmed by her solicitude.
"Well, I think it is. I’ll wash your clothes and they can dry in front of the fire."
She disappeared at that and Vincent started to undress. It was slow work; the pain in his shoulder and ribs was still considerable. He had just eased his shirt over his head when he heard Catherine gasp.
"Oh, the bruises," she cried. "Can you manage?"
Totally bewildered, embarrassed and confused he held his shirt in front of himself, "Yes, I can manage," he assured her, blushing to the roots of his hair.
"I’ll … I’ll just leave the clothes and towels here then." Flustered, Catherine beat a hasty retreat.
Oh, how could she invade his privacy like that? She paced to and fro across the living room. He was beautiful, so beautiful, and all muscle. The fur on his body looked so soft, but the bruises showing through looked terrible, and must be so painful. She suspected he had broken ribs at the very least.
She busied herself tidying up from their meal, and then she went to the woodshed to collect more wood for the fire. Returning she sat on the sofa and then, unable to settle, she jumped up and swept the kitchen floor before she went back and picked up Vincent’s cloak, laying it gently over the back of a chair. She was constantly aware of where he was and what he was doing.
"Stop it Chandler," she castigated herself. "Leave the man some dignity."
In due course Vincent emerged, wearing her father’s jeans, a flannel shirt and an old brown fisherman’s sweater. His hair fell in wet waves about his shoulders.
"I take a while to dry," he confessed.
"Come back to the fire," she invited.
They fell into a companionable routine over the next week. They chatted about their respective lives, gaining insight, counseling each other when they couldn’t find their own answers. She even spoke regarding her doubts about her relationship with Tom. This became too much for Vincent and, forestalling any further discussion, he advised her to ‘follow her heart’.
Catherine made simple meals which Vincent always declared were ‘lovely’. He started to help in the kitchen, tidying up after meals, said he was ‘used to helping, everyone helped at home’.
Catherine continued to wonder where that ‘home’ might be. She listened for hints, but from years of practice, he never let his secret slip.
They read in the evenings, played chess and Vincent proved unbeatable during scrabble games. His vocabulary was formidable, his general knowledge extensive, his insight—inspirational.
Catherine felt so comfortable with him, so … safe.
One evening, at dusk, Catherine donned a warm coat and Vincent his cloak and they strolled down to the lake. It was wonderful to be outside in the fresh air. The snow lay crisp on the ground. They laughed when they disturbed the deer that foraged in the snow and ice at the water’s edge.
As they slowly returned to the house, Catherine slipped her hand into Vincent’s.
He did not let it go.
Something precious was blossoming in this winter landscape and neither of them wanted it to end. It was a moment out of time.
Catherine cleared the dishes away from their evening meal, returning with two mugs of cocoa to sit beside Vincent on the sofa. She was pleased to see he no longer sat in the farthest corner. He seemed relaxed and at home and appeared to be mostly recovered from his injuries.
"Will you read to me, Vincent?" she asked.
"How about a Shakespearean Sonnet?" he offered.
"You read so beautifully, you could read me the phone book and I’d be enthralled."
Totally flustered, he picked up the book, flicked through the pages and began to read:
Sonnet 29 
When in disgrace with Fortune
and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon my self and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least,
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate,
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
He finished reading and looked up a Catherine. Their eyes met and the whole world receded to that one point. The emotion in the room was tangible, almost a living thing. Their souls locked and became one.
Catherine reached out to grasp Vincent’s hand. The contact brought a sharp intake of breath from each of them. She leaned in then and kissed Vincent softly, sweetly on the mouth. She ran her tongue in a circle, top to bottom, exploring his most unique mouth, particularly the cleft of his upper lip which had fascinated her for days.
She was causing such wonderful sensations deep within him. Vincent brought his hand up to gently cup the back of her head, barely touching her. He ran his fingers through the silk of her hair which seemed to float in misty wisps, like a dream that can never be.
Vincent pulled back finally, "Catherine, no." The words were torn from him. "I’m sorry, I cannot do this, it cannot happen."
"But Vincent, I know you feel it too."
"For me, this is—impossible," he dropped his head dejected.
"Vincent." She replied, distraught. "No."
"Look at me, Catherine," his eyes rose to meet hers. Filled with anguish he spread his hands before her. "Really look … at me … at all that I am!"
"Vincent," she answered his naked plea. "To me you are beautiful and I see all of you, inside and out."
"I know what you say is true to you, you have a generous heart." Such wistful longing infused his speech. "But back—in the ‘real’ world, we can never be."
Her heart fell, she had hurt him again.
"I think the time has come to return," he stated regretfully. "Please—Now I have to begin to forget…"
"No... I’ll never forget you, Catherine, but I must forget the dream of being part of you… Find someone Catherine, to be part of…be happy…"
She could see desolation in his every aspect, and knew it was reflected in her own countenance.
Catherine set about closing up the house to leave. When she went to the garage to warm up the car, she sat for a while in its cold interior and gave in to hot tears of grief. Their drive back to New York was completed in agonized silence. So much was left unsaid, thoughts too painful to form the words around and hopes too nebulous to admit.
When Vincent left the car Catherine felt like a part of her was ripped away with him, she was bereft.
8 Months Later
"So, how’s the new girl working out?" District Attorney John Merino asked Joe Maxwell, his assistant DA.
"Real well, boss," Joe replied. "We threw her into leg work and depositions and she has a real flair for it. She’s a people person."
"And it doesn’t hurt having a rich uptown lawyer working for us," stated Merino. "What you got her on now?"
Joe twirled a rubber band between his fingers as he talked, "She’s on the Goldstein case. Meeting witnesses, taking depositions, we’re keepin’ her pretty busy."
Catherine contemplated the last eight months. Since returning from Connecticut she had made big changes in her life. The old ‘Cathy’ was gone. Leaving her father’s law firm was bitter-sweet. She felt she had let him down, but he had assured her that her happiness was most important to him.
To leave the law firm was simple compared to breaking off her relationship with Tom. In the end she had to be blunt, and he retaliated by being nasty, calling her a cold fish and frigid.
If he only knew the passion she felt burning inside!
Going to work at the District Attorney’s Office really fulfilled her, professionally. She was handling more cases; each of a more complex nature and the challenges exhilarated her—exhausted her. Joe worked her relentlessly but she was finding a courage she didn’t know she possessed. She took work home every night, but she never complained. It meant she fell into an exhausted sleep that gave her no time to think about Connecticut, about Vincent. Her dreams were another matter; over those she had no control.
She had left Vincent at a corner of Central Park eight long months ago and he had made no contact with her since. She had told him where she lived, but he’d just bowed his head and thanked her sincerely, again. He had then lifted his hood onto his head and, with one last look of longing; he’d left the car, and left her life.
Sometimes she just wanted to scream with the injustice of it all. She had finally found the love of her life and half the time she felt like he was a dream after all.
But, she was learning to move forward, to be strong. She was beginning to make her own decisions, good decisions about her life. She saw old friends occasionally, but mostly it was work and sleep.
She was to meet a witness in the Goldstein case tonight. Had she not been so tired she would have suggested a different location but he had picked the place, and she really needed his testimony, so she was meeting him on his terms.
Beside the carousel in Central Park at 9.00pm he’d said.
Chandler, you are a fool. She chastised herself as she waited in the dark, deserted park.
She waited patiently, under the light of the full moon. Since Connecticut she always called a full moon ‘Vincent’s Moon’. It reassured and comforted her to think that the same moon shone down on him … her beloved. She could no longer deny it … she loved him—missed him. But she had no way to find him again … ever.
Finally, she saw a man approaching and she pulled herself out of her reverie.
"Ms Chandler?" An arrogant voice questioned.
"Mitch Denton?" She matched his tone exactly.
"So, Miss Assistant DA. We finally meet."
"You have some information for me about Joseph Goldstein?"
"I sure do, and here it is." He moved closer to her, drawing a knife from his pocket.
"Come on. Let’s play a little game." He sneered.
Catherine turned to run as fear exploded through her in cold waves. No, this couldn’t be happening.
He grabbed her by the arms, forcing her back into the bushes. She fell, landing heavily with him on top of her.
"Now, don’t move or I’ll cut you, and believe me, I’ll enjoy it. Here’s a little taste." He dragged his knife down the side of her face leaving a wide, deep cut.
"Little Miss D.A.s who stick their noses in where they don’t belong, get what’s coming to them. A little ‘fun’ beforehand is just a bonus, for me, that is," he chuckled thinking he’d made a joke.
Catherine heard another sound then, a low, menacing growl. A snarl, that made the blood drain from Mitch Denton’s face, as he hurried to stand, as realization dawned for him.
"Well, I see it, but I don’t believe it," he tried to maintain his bravado. "I thought I got rid of you eight months ago."
Vincent moved into view, looking larger than life and so very angry, "I should have known that was you Mitch, to betray your own people."
"You’re not ‘my people’ anymore Vincent," shouted Mitch. You ceased to be that when you turned me away when I needed help, when I needed a place to lay low. I spent years in that stinking prison because of you. You wouldn’t let me hide out in your little rat-world, like you thought you were all better than me. Well, Vincent, what goes around, comes around. I saw to that."
Mitch pulled Catherine up then, holding her around the neck, the knife against her throat.
"See what he is. He’s a freak, go tell New York about that," he shouted into Catherine’s ear.
Catherine realized he was distracted in his anger, and in his attempt to shock her with the sight of Vincent. She brought her heel down, hard, on his instep.
"Bitch!" he screamed turning.
It was enough. Vincent advanced on Mitch grasping him around the neck. Vincent roared a great and terrible roar, hoisted Mitch high and threw his erstwhile friend, like a rag doll, into the bushes. He knew it wouldn’t be the end of Mitch. Even now, with the knowledge of what Mitch had done to him, Vincent could still hear the faint echo in his memory of his childhood friend. While the tunnels could be of ‘use’ to him, Mitch would keep the secret. They would all have to monitor Mitch much more closely from now on.
Catherine went to Vincent, who suddenly looked vulnerable and ashamed by his display of temper. He raised his head, meeting her eyes and the long months of loneliness dissolved for both of them. Without hesitation she went into his arms.
"Oh, Vincent," she cried. "You saved my life."
"I felt your fear, Catherine."
Eventually, and with much effort, they parted.
"I’ve missed you so much," she admitted.
"I know," was his quiet, enigmatic response.
"Come on, we can’t stay here," she said, looking with loving trust into his soulful eyes.
"Catherine. Your face, you’re bleeding," he said in a concerned voice. "Come with me. I must take you to Father."
"But Vincent, your secret—"
"Is safe in your hands."
Vincent reached then for Catherine’s hands. He wanted to hold them, and her heart, forever.
 William Shakespeare, Sonnet 29