Daddy, I Have Someone
“Daddy.” Catherine stepped forward with a slightly anxious smile, Vincent’s towering strength beside her.
Charles Chandler pulled his attention from Peter and turned to his glowing daughter, unsurprised to see the figure beside her.
“Daddy, I have someone I want you to meet.” She sent a loving, supportive glance up at Vincent and then looked back to her father. “Daddy, this is Vincent … Vincent Wells.”
Charles looked at Vincent with a steady regard, not hostile, but definitely intent.
“Vincent,” Catherine’s voice as she said that name, held a wealth of information for her father. Not that he really needed it, after watching the two of them together. “This is my father, Charles Chandler.”
Clear blue eyes turned to Charles and he tilted his head in a respectful courtly nod. “I am very pleased to meet you, Mr. Chandler.”
Charles was a little startled by the pure beauty of the voice directed toward him. He was also impressed by the open, straight look he received. He held out his hand for his customary handshake.
“I would have to say, it’s about time we met. Please, call me Charles.”
One could tell a lot from a man’s handshake. Vincent wore soft, fringed leather gloves. Only an astute man like Charles Chandler would’ve noticed the very slight hesitation on Vincent’s part before his hand was clasped firmly with a controlled strength. Two decisive pumps as they took a moment to connect before releasing it.
“Yes, I agree. I wish we could have met sooner, Charles.”
Peter released a relieved sigh and then spoke. “Catherine, I hate to impose but could I borrow you for a few minutes?” He stepped around Charles and cupped her elbow, smiling charmingly. “I need to fulfill a promise…one of my guests asked to meet you.”
Confused, but willing to follow Peter’s lead, she glanced between Vincent and her father. “Well, if you two don’t mind?”
“Of course, dear.” Charles waved distractedly, already forming questions in his mind.
“Vincent?” She didn’t want to leave him facing who knew what her dad might throw at him. He met her concerned look with a small smile of amusement.
“We’ll be fine, Catherine. You will return to find me safe here with your father.”
“Very well.” She turned to Peter with a small smile. “Lead on handsome host.” They walked away and down the steps, leaving the two men watching from the balustraded landing.
“So, Vincent. You saved my daughter’s life.” Charles began with his most important statement. “More than once, I believe. I’ve never had the chance to thank you.”
Vincent drew his eyes from Catherine’s graceful retreat and briefly held Charles’ gaze and gave a small nod. “As she has saved mine.”
He squared his shoulders and clasped his hands behind his back, giving Charles his attention while keeping an instinctive awareness of Catherine’s whereabouts.
“I’m sure you have questions … I’ll answer all that I am able.”
“Yes.” Charles smiled. “I have a few. My daughter has always been strong-willed but, I’ve noticed since she met you-- a totally fearless strength … a solid focus on who and what she wants out of life.”
It wasn’t a question, but Vincent responded. “Yes, a core of inner resilience … I sensed it the first time we met. She fought valiantly against unfair odds. She is the most courageous person I have ever known … But, the strength was already there inside her. She just tapped into with more determination after.”
Charles decided time was short and cut to the chase. “Catherine has decided that you are what she needs and wants.” He saw the flash of surprise in Vincent’s eyes before they again sought Catherine on the dance floor with the singer from earlier. “No, she hasn’t discussed you with me. I know my daughter, Vincent. I see the way you look at each other.”
Vincent turned his regard back to Charles and cocked his head slightly to the right, then nodded. “Yes. I have, in the past … fought this connection between us. I hoped for her future to be filled with a happiness … for a king that could give her everything her heart desires.” He glanced down briefly then back up at Catherine’s father. “I did not feel that I was enough … that she deserves so much more …”
Charles realized that this man was being brutally honest with him; that he held nothing back when he discussed his feelings about Catherine. It was a little disconcerting. He was used to having to dig and finesse true answers from people. He saw what Catherine had sensed from the start: this man was totally divested of guile, did not answer with lies but with truths.
“You said ‘in the past.’ Have you changed your mind, Vincent?”
Vincent allowed a small smile then shook his head. “No sir, I still feel somewhat unworthy--but I have finally accepted Catherine’s truth.” He hesitated, not knowing how much Catherine wished him to reveal to her father.
Charles smiled and took a sip from his champagne. “And Catherine’s truth is—?”
“You can’t win when fighting against Catherine Chandler.” Amusement laced Vincent’s voice as he neatly side-stepped the question.
Charles laughed out loud and reached out to pat Vincent heartily on the shoulder. They turned their attention to the subject herself, now talking to Peter and an older gentleman leaning on a cane.
“Do you know the man talking with her and Peter?” Charles asked, seeing the less than frivolous conversation going on between them. The unknown man had already cast a couple of anxious glances their way.
“Yes.” Vincent stood proudly. “That is my father, Dr. Jacob Wells.”
“Hmm.” Charles nodded again and hid a smile. “Can’t say you look a lot like him.”
Vincent darted him a startled glance and a short rumble of laughter erupted before he could catch it. He saw the same mischievous spark in Catherine when she said something unexpectedly witty.
“No, I guess not.” Vincent allowed. “He’s my adoptive father.” They watched as Catherine looked up and smiled that beautiful smile of hers when she caught their shared amusement. Her eyes sparkled with happiness to see the two of them getting along.
Vincent and Charles sighed together at the sight of her joy.
“So, tell me Vincent …” They continued to watch side by side as Catherine joined Peter in a waltz on the dance floor.
“What do you see when you look at my daughter?”
Without pause or plan, Vincent answered with reverent awe.
“I see the reason my heart beats and the next breath moves into my body.” Vincent allowed his soul to answer Catherine’s father as she had answered a question from his own father. He kept his eyes on Catherine, but was aware that Charles’ eyes were on him.
“She is very beautiful.” Charles’ voice was full with the emotions revealed in Vincent’s answer.
“Oh yes.” Vincent nodded in agreement, watching her graceful movements and hearing her honest, full laugh even with the noise around him. “She walks in beauty … a beauty that glows from within. Her heart is so overwhelmingly generous, she gives and loves with all that she is. She brings such warmth and joy to everyone she touches.”
Slightly amazed that he felt so easy in talking to this man, he then realized they had much in common. They both loved and were loved by Catherine. It was a strange, but welcome bond.
Vincent turned and met the shrewd, but kind understanding in Charles’ eyes.
“It will never cease to amaze and overwhelm me that Catherine has chosen to love me.” Vincent spoke the words out loud to the one man he felt must understand the grandiosity of that feeling. “I didn’t feel that I could give her what she wants…what she needs. But I have finally accept the truth.”
“What does my daughter really need?” Charles watched, mesmerized as Vincent’s blue eyes sparkled with unshed tears.
“She needs to be real. To love and be loved for exactly who she is … as only I can. I know her heart. She already has mine, and I will put her happiness and life above my own until my last breath.”
Charles looked at the man standing before him and realized it was a done deal. There was no room for hesitation on his part, even had he found reason for it … which he didn’t. Catherine was a smart, strong, woman.
“I know you can protect her. There is no doubt that you love her. And I have seen the happiness and the pain Cathy’s felt in becoming “real.” So, I take it this is not a fleeting relationship?” He all but asked outright what Vincent’s intentions were toward his daughter.
Vincent straightened to his full height and lifted his chin. Calmly, he faced Charles before saying the words he had never dared dream of saying in this lifetime.
“No, Mr. Chandler. I love Catherine with all that I am and all that I will be. I have asked her to be my wife and she has agreed. We ask only …”
A cool hand slipped through the crook of his elbow and Catherine’s voice joined his.
“We ask only … that you give us your blessing.” They finished together.
Charles hadn’t attended this party expecting so much excitement, but he was nothing if not adaptable and Catherine’s resilience came from both parents. He looked from one to the other.
“Well, this is a little unexpected…” He drew his big moment out. “I mean, you know Cathy ... you just introduced us.”
Catherine felt Vincent’s calm stillness and she sent a flicker of exasperated amusement along the bond. “Daddy…” She drawled the single word out.
“I mean, really Catherine.” Charles arched an imperious brow. “It’s a costume ball … I couldn’t even recognize my son-in-law to be if I passed him on the street tomorrow.”
“I somehow don’t think that would be a problem, sir.” Vincent’s low voice held a thread of rueful amusement. It drew a small smile from Catherine and Charles’ full attention.
“About that Daddy…” Catherine was at a loss. They hadn’t really planned out this evening’s events. Vincent’s proposal had been welcome but unplanned. Even though they had planned on introducing Vincent, full revelation would’ve been done safely at the next meeting.
“Hmm.” Charles regarded Vincent with a probing eye. He already had a strong supposition with the facts of secrecy and his own sharp powers of observation. Even a professional make-up job could be detected as close as he stood to Vincent. Vincent’s comment only made the unimaginable even more of a possibility.
“Well, it would be downright rude of me to ask you to remove any costume at a Halloween party …” He saw a subtle look of anxiety enter Vincent’s eyes before they dropped to conceal it. He found he didn’t like the idea of Vincent’s discomfort and rushed on to dispel it. “But, I would like to shake his hand without the barrier of leather.”
Vincent felt Catherine’s unease and suppressed his own. The old Vincent would never consider such an extremely dangerous revelation. Pushing down his fear, he again raised serious eyes to Charles. He saw the silent request for his trust. If this was going to work, both he and Catherine’s father had to step forward in trust.
Vincent made up his mind and quickly sent Catherine a reassuring look before he slowly removed the glove from his right hand and hesitantly held it out to Charles.
Charles watched the exposure of furred hand and clawed fingers with a surreal gaze. His wild imagination was right on target, and vaguely felt glad he really wasn’t getting senile. He was more convinced than ever that instead of an outstanding mask, he was looking at the real Vincent.
Catherine’s green eyes misted as she watched her father reach out and accept Vincent’s handshake. Charles didn’t immediately release it this time, however. With solemn eyes, he turned Vincent’s hand over in his and studied each line and crevice.
Vincent stood still as stone. He watched in silent fascination, as Catherine’s father saw and accepted all that he was.
“Now, there is a strong, capable hand that will never be mistaken for any other than Catherine’s husband‘s.” Charles released him and smiled up at Vincent. “You both have my blessing for a long and happy life. It’s all her mother and I ever wanted for her.”
Humbled at the belief in him by this man and Catherine, Vincent answered quietly, “Thank you, sir.”
Catherine wrapped her arms around him and whispered. “Thank you, Daddy. I love you.”
“And I love you, pumpkin.” Charles kissed her cheek and returned her hug. “Now, I think I’d like to meet your father, Vincent. He probably needs a strong drink about now. I know I do.”
Vincent allowed himself a full smile at Catherine as they moved through the crowd. Catherine returned it in full measure, proudly walking with her arm linked lightly in his. He bent his head a bit to speak quietly in her ear. “Your father is a very disconcerting man. He surprised me more than once tonight.”
“Hmm.” She mimicked her father’s favorite non-word. “Yes … I hope you know I intend to surprise you more than once tonight, myself.” Her eyes twinkled wickedly up at him. She flirted shamelessly. Flirting was something she had rarely done with Vincent, never sure how it would be received by the very forthright man.
Vincent’s body thrummed at her words, his mind shot off in wild directions as possibilities began to open to him.
“Oh, yes.” His voice rumbled deliciously. “Please, Catherine … feel free to surprise me. It is my fondest wish, to be surprised by you for the rest of our lives.”
Catherine’s body leapt in response to the sound of him inviting her in. Her movements became more sensuous, her eyes turned a bit darker as her pupils dilated and she felt a warm flush spread throughout her.
Suddenly, she wondered if the rest of their lives would be long enough to express the infinite love they would share.
“Not just this lifetime, Vincent.” She promised. “But the next … and the next …”
Vincent’s soul soared at the promise in her words, and he couldn’t help himself. He stopped abruptly and pulled her into his arms … forgetting everyone else. He drew her closer and let the bond take wings. Heart bonded to heart, sending and receiving the sparkling electrical current of joy, love, and happiness the moment held.
“I see eternity in your eyes, Catherine.” He willingly plunged into the open abyss of their lives. “I’ll always love you.”
Catherine sniffed delicately, feeling a tear escape as she viewed the depths of her love and passion Vincent held for her.
“We’ll try to fit everything in … I love you, my Beauty.”
Catherine for once was at a loss for words, so she simply responded with her heart. She stood on tip-toe, wrapped her arms up and around his neck and kissed him. Kissed him with tenderness, with thanks, with love and then with joyous passion.