BETWEEN THE LINES SERIES

 

WAYWARD SON
SIXTEENTH IN THE SERIES BY KATHY DE 

 

A tall dark-haired man knocked lightly on Joe’s office door. He stepped in when a curt acknowledgement came. “Joe Maxwell?”

Joe never looked up from his paperwork. “Yeah.”

“My name is Jeff Radler. I have an appointment with you.”

Joe looked up, then smiled wearily as he stood up to shake his hand. “Hey Jeff, of course, come on in, shut the door.”  Joe picked up a file from his desk and opened it up. “I looked over your credentials earlier, they’re pretty impressive.”

Jeff nodded. “Thank you.”

“So you’re new to New York?”

“Yeah, I uh...stayed here for a while once, but it was a long time ago.”

“Yeah, come on vacation or something?”

Jeff laughed and answered evasively. “Or something...”

Joe nodded. “Are you willing to live here then? Move here permanently?”

“Sure, I’ll need to find a place though; I’m still at the hotel right now.”  

“Yeah, well why don’t you go back and visit some of the old places you stayed before?”

Jeff shook his head ruefully. “I’m sure all the places I remember are long gone.”

“Well, check them out. You never know what’s available.”

Jeff smiled and nodded. “So…I have the job then?”

“Yeah, we’ll give it a go.” Joe stood up and clapped him on the back. “Come on, let me show you around a little bit.”

Jeff followed Joe and was introduced to all of the attorneys on the floor. Joe then took him to Edie’s department.

“Hey, guys? Give me a second will ya? This is Jeff Radler. He’s new to our trial division. He’ll be coming to you from time to time for information.”

Joe turned to Jeff and started to point. “That’s Jack, and Mike, and George is over there next to Sherri, and Tammy, and Edie, and Carl are here.”

Jeff waved to everyone and followed Joe around the other departments. They walked back to Joe’s office and Joe looked at his watch.

“Why don’t you come in tomorrow? I’ll get you set up with one of the investigations and we’ll see what you got.”

Jeff shook Joe’s hand again. “Sounds good and thanks, it was nice to meet you.”

Joe smiled. “See if you’re still saying that after tomorrow. See you bright and early.”

*******************************

Later that day, Catherine and Edie were going over last minute findings on one of the cases.

“Thanks, Edie. This information will save me lots of legwork.”

“You’re welcome. Hey, did you see the new guy? He’s supposed to be starting tomorrow.”

Catherine shook her head. “No, I was gone all morning getting the stuff together for the Ehringer case. Moreno hired a new guy?”

Edie waved her arms excitedly. “Sure did. He’ll be working in the trial division. Joe brought him by to introduce him to all of us. Girl, he is one fine looking human being!”

Catherine giggled. “I bet. Nobody could have you this worked up unless he was gorgeous.”

Sherri and Tammy were nearby and looked over. Sherri smiled. “He is pretty hot, Cathy. Tall, dark, handsome, great body!”

Catherine rolled her eyes after she looked over at Sherri, then at Tammy, who was nodding in agreement.

Edie sniffled and pretended to be offended. “You’ll see. I bet he’ll have you drooling too.”

Catherine laughed, grabbed her paperwork, and walked back to her desk. She wondered what they would think if they saw who she really drooled over.

 

*******************************

 

Jeff came in the next morning as expected and headed to Joe’s office.

Joe handed him a file. “You’ll be working with Cathy Chandler on the Ehringer case. She’ll show you the ropes.”

Jeff shrugged. “She any good?”

Joe smirked. “Buddy, she makes your credentials look like they were printed in some back shop.” Joe was looking down and didn’t see Jeff’s reaction. He looked up again. “But to answer your questions honestly, she’s the best one on the team.”

“Good, I hate to waste my time with the second stringers.” Jeff smiled. He had seen the light come to Joe’s eyes when he mentioned Catherine’s name and wondered briefly if the two were involved.

“Yeah, well you can review the case, then have her brief you later on what’s been happening. Now, what can you tell me about yourself I don’t already know?”

Jeff was sitting on the corner of Joe’s desk telling him an amusing story, but abruptly stopped when Catherine walked into the office.

Catherine stopped after realizing she had come in unannounced. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

Joe waved her in. “Catherine Chandler, Jeff Radler. Jeff’s gonna be joining our...”

Catherine interrupted. “Trial division, so I’ve been told. Welcome to New York.” She laughed when she saw the look on their faces. “Never underestimate the power of the grapevine.”

Jeff quickly faced Catherine. He always prided himself on being a pretty good judge of character and could tell that Catherine was the type that could take a joke. “Joe tells me you’re as good as they come...”

Catherine blushed at the compliment.

“…and that you have an enormous crush on him you’re desperately trying to keep a secret...” Jeff continued.

“Hey, wait a minute I didn’t say that...” Joe panicked that Jeff could have picked up on the fact that he harbored feelings for Catherine. He saw Jeff grin and realized he was kidding.

Catherine grinned and played along. “I finally managed to get it under control.”

Joe looked from one of them to the other then laughed. “I think I’m being framed.”

Jeff became serious. “So uh...Joe tells me we’re going to be working together.”

Joe looked pointedly over at Catherine. “Jeff’s taking over the Ehringer appeal.”

Catherine looked shocked. “Ehringer? Are you familiar with the case?”

Jeff shook his head. “No, not yet.”

Catherine was so upset she skipped the niceties. “Joe what is this? That brief is due on Friday!”

“Which is why I want you to work with him on it....Go over the file, Cathy.” He saw the look on her face, then continued. “Look, the subject’s not open for debate, just do it!”

Catherine was furious and stormed out of the office in disbelief and anger.

Jeff turned to Joe. “Wow, is she always that passionate about her work?”

Joe shrugged. “This is an important case to her.”

“So, will she be okay working with me?”

“Radcliffe? She’ll be fine once she settles down.”

“Radcliffe?” Jeff looked confused, then his face brightened. “No...No don’t tell me that’s where she went to school right?”

Joe nodded and smiled.

Jeff laughed and rubbed his hands together. “Okay, did I tell you I love a challenge? Let me guess how the rest played out…I bet she went to Harvard Law, no wait...wait...she doesn’t seem like the type who would leave here. She’d want to be close to her Mom and Dad. I bet she went to Columbia Law, right?”

Joe looked amused and folded his arms in front of his chest. “Go on.”

Devin knew he was on the right track. “Daddy’s little girl, rich, connected, moves in all the right circles, here to do good for all mankind but will be gone next month.”

“You’re good…except for that last part. Cathy’s been here almost a year. She’s one of the most dedicated investigators you’ll find and because of that, she’s the best. She’s also a good friend.”

Jeff held up his hands to protest. “Hey, no harm meant, really, I respect a woman with beauty and brains.” He looked at Joe, a question in his eyes. “Is she available?”

Joe laughed as he shrugged. “The question all men want to know. I don’t know. She doesn’t talk about it. I think she is, I’ve never see her with anyone. She dated Elliot Burch awhile ago but dumped him.”

“Elliot Burch?”

“Burch is a big time developer here. He’s worth a pretty penny.”

“So, she’s doesn’t care about money? What kind of stuff does she like?”

Joe shrugged. “Hell, I don’t know! Cultured stuff, fine dining, museums, opera, that kind of stuff.”

“Classy...”

Joe clasped his shoulder affectionately. “Give it up man, I’m telling you right now. I don’t think you stand a chance.”

Jeff looked at him amusedly. “So, she told you no?”

Joe blanched under Jeff’s observation. “Never got that far, she’s my friend, nothing more.”

“Uh, well like I said, I like a challenge.”

“Let me know when you try I could use a good laugh.”

Jeff grew serious again. “So this Ehringer case, what’s so special about it?”

Joe shook his head in disgust. “Oh, it’s a real good one, child molester, lots of victims.”

Jeff grimaced. “Oh great.”

Joe nodded. “Cathy had to interview the kids. She has such a good heart. It took a lot out of her.”

“I won’t let you down, Joe.”

Joe held up his hands to protest. “Me? Don’t worry about me. Don’t let her down. I’ve seen her cry; it’ll rip your heart out.”

“I bet.”

Jeff walked out and headed to his desk wondering why he suddenly felt a strong urge to protect Catherine, a woman he not only just met but at this particular moment, couldn’t stand the sight of him.

He wondered briefly how to break through the barrier that had been created between them, shrugged it off, and started to read the transcripts.

 

*********************************

 

Later in the day, Catherine came to his office. She knocked and walked over and set some files on Jeff’s desk.

“I brought the Ehringer transcripts. Sorry if I got a little hot, this one means a lot to me.”

Jeff sympathized. “Joe told me you had to interview all the victims. Sit down tell me about it. I need to know.”

Catherine sat and began to relate the case. “Well, it broke my heart, all those little girls, the youngest was only four. It’s hard to believe that anyone can be that vile until you have to sit with the children and hear them tell their stories. When we put Ehringer away, that was the moment that I knew I belonged here, and if his conviction’s overturned...I don’t know what I’ll do.”

Jeff leaned forward in his seat. “It won’t be. We’ll make sure of it, you and me together. But I can’t do it without your help.”

She nodded. “You got it, anything you need.”

“I’ll take these back to the hotel tonight, look them over. In the meantime, it’d really help if you could just give me a brief summary of the issues involved.”

Catherine began to pace. “The issue is the admissibility of the videotaped testimony. They also claim that the judge erred in his instructions to the jury...”

“And did he?”

“I don’t think so. The defense is just trying to grasp at anything. You know how the judges all work...I’m sure it will get thrown out, but God I want to make damn sure it does!”

“Okay, now what about the videotapes?”

Catherine thought about the contents and her stomach rolled. “We videotaped the children so they wouldn’t have to see Ehringer. We had a court appointed child psychologist and psychiatrist. Of course, the parents were there as well. I conducted the interviews and we let the professionals help bring the evidence out of the kids. Most of them did exceptionally well.”

“Let me guess, the defense wants the children to be interviewed while Ehringer is present in the room...”

Catherine smirked disgustedly. “Yeah, they say Ehringer has a right to face his accusers. I say not when the accuser is a four year old girl!”

“Look, I’ve heard enough! I promise to read through all of this tonight.”

Catherine nodded. She realized Jeff was probably just trying to fit in at his new position and for now she was grateful that he seemed dedicated.

“Stop by my desk before you leave and I’ll give you my contact information. If you have any questions, call me…any time…even if it’s two in the morning…”

Jeff blinked in surprise. “You got it. Thanks.”

 

*************************

 

As promised, Jeff took the transcripts and read through them, remembering Catherine’s words. He knew this case was important and that he couldn’t let anyone down. He soon became distracted by his thoughts and looked out the hotel window at the park below.

He decided to take a walk and grabbed his coat before he headed quickly out the door.

Joe had asked Catherine to drop some notes off at Jeff’s hotel on her way home. As she was exiting the taxi in front of his hotel, she saw Jeff leaving towalk into the park. She called out to him but he obviously couldn’t hear her, so she followed him.

“For someone who’s never been to New York, he walks like he has a purpose to fulfill,” she thought.

She followed him further into the park, keeping a safe distance behind him. She was curious to see what he was up to. She was surprised when he walked to the carousel and then to the drainage tunnel.

Catherine followed him inside and hid against the tunnel wall. She observed him scrape dirt from the wall and then he suddenly just turned and left.

“How strange,” she thought. “He’s acting as if he’s been here before, like he’s remembering.” She ran her hand over the place in the wall he had scraped and discovered Vincent’s name etched into the wall. She turned and looked at the empty space as her mind raced trying to figure out who Jeff was. “How could he know of the tunnels? Who was he? Was he dangerous like Mitch?”

Catherine went home and thought about telling Vincent, but it was late and she decided it could wait until tomorrow.

 

*************************

The next day, Catherine walked into Jeff’s office to deliver the notes she couldn’t give to him the night before. She chuckled in surprise when she saw his desk and office littered with law books. She questioned him about it and he said he was just going through them for possible precedence.

Catherine, however, didn’t like what she saw. Her gut instinct told her that something was seriously wrong here. She looked at him, wondering if he was a legitimate lawyer. She tried to trick him with a question regarding law books but he quickly gave her the correct answer. She nodded and left his office, but she was still suspicious. She decided she needed to meet with Vincent. Maybe he could answer some of her questions.

Via Benny, she quickly sent him an urgent request to meet her at the tunnel entrance at one o’clock.

 

****************************

Vincent was working in the lower tunnels with Kanin and Cullen. They were making progress on yet another chamber and things were going well.

Eric ran in with a message and handed it to Vincent.

Vincent ruffled Eric’s hair. “Hello, Eric. Thank you for the message but it could have waited until I came up for lunch.”

Eric shook his head. “Nope. Father said it was from Catherine and that it was urgent you get it.”

Vincent tore into the envelope. The message merely said, “Vincent, please meet me at 1:00 at the threshold. Love, Catherine.”

Vincent looked at Eric. “Eric, did you happen to notice what time it was?”

Eric nodded. “Sure, it’s 11:30. Can I go now?”

“Yes Eric, thank you again.” Vincent looked at Kanin and Cullen. “It’s unusual for Catherine to send for me in the middle of the day. I need to go see if everything is all right.”

Cullen nodded towards the tunnelway. “Go ahead, Vincent. Mouse is coming after lunch and we’re ahead of schedule anyway.”

Vincent smiled. “Thank you, I’ll come back after I meet with Catherine.”

Kanin smiled and stood up and brushed off Vincent’s hair. Piles of dirt and dust fell towards the floor. “Uh, Vincent? You might want to clean up first.”

Vincent looked down at his shirt in horror. He was absolutely filthy. He couldn’t go and see Catherine like this. He was dirtier now than he had been after the cave-in.

He grinned ruefully as he turned and rushed to clean up before his meeting.

******************************

Catherine paced worriedly as she waited for Vincent to arrive. She went over all her past conversations with Jeff and tried to calm herself, as she realized she may be overreacting. With a sigh, she leaned against the tunnel wall to wait.

Vincent could sense her turmoil and started to run through the tunnels. Dispensing with his usual greeting, he quickly walked up to her. “Tell me.”

Catherine wasn’t offended by his abruptness. She knew how unusual it was that she was here at midday. He was probably busy as well, so she jumped right in. “There’s a new man in our office, a trial attorney named Jeff Radler. Does that mean anything to you?”

Vincent thought for a moment and shook his head.

“Well I think he knows about your world. I followed him across the park and he went to the drainage tunnel, straight to the secret door, and he uncovered a name there, your name. Someone had scratched it on the tunnel wall.”

Memories flooded through Vincent as he remembered the day he put it there. “I’d almost forgotten. I’m the one that wrote that name there, Catherine. I was only a boy. It was the sort of thing that boys do.”

Catherine wondered why he wasn’t more upset by the news that someone knew of his existence and was purposely looking for him. “He was looking for your name, Vincent. He came all the way across the park from the carousel...”

Vincent blinked in surprise and then looked at her curiously. “The carousel?  And this man, what did he look like?”

Catherine shrugged. “He’s in his thirties, I guess, tall, dark hair, dark eyes, and he has three deep scars on his left cheek.” Catherine wondered at the change in Vincent’s demeanor. “Who is he Vincent?”

Vincent felt an excitement growing inside of him. He looked down at Catherine, not ready to tell her the full story yet, in case it wasn’t true. “Not now, not until I’m certain.”

He turned to walk away while Catherine tried to calm herself. If Vincent wasn’t concerned then maybe she had just read the whole situation wrong.

A thought struck her and she called out to him. “Vincent, is Jeff safe to be around? Is he anything like Mitch?”

Vincent turned back around and reached for Catherine’s hands. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you. If it’s the man I am thinking of, you will be perfectly safe.”

“I’m sorry. I had to ask. Jeff’s been given one of our most important cases. I don’t know what I’ll do if he cant’ handle it…”

He squeezed her hands gently and caressed them with his thumbs. “As soon as I know for certain, I’ll come to you.”

Trusting him to keep his word, she smiled up at him and nodded. They both turned and left, returning to their own worlds.

 

**************************

 

Catherine went back to the office. She wasn’t upset. She knew Vincent would tell her what was going on eventually. He had said Jeff wasn’t dangerous, and knowing he would never put her in danger, she had no choice but to believe him. She sighed. She would just have to wait and see what happens.

Late that afternoon, she went to Jeff’s office, but he was just leaving for an appointment. She looked over and noticed some of his notes lying on the floor near the garbage. Curiously, she opened one of the crumbled papers and gasped. His work was less than acceptable and could only be compared to an intern’s.

She ran to Joe’s office and confronted him with her evidence. Joe rolled his eyes and threw out the paper saying it was just a draft. He wasn’t concerned. Catherine, however, was very concerned, “Who is this guy?” she wondered.

 

*****************************

Below, Vincent mindlessly walked back from his meeting with Catherine. He entered his chamber and sat on the edge of his bed, thinking about the things that Catherine had just told him. Memories flooded through his mind.

He moved aimlessly around his chamber to uncover items from his past. Finally, he pulled out an old chest where he kept the most important keepsakes from his childhood.

He sat and looked at a toy carousel and thought about a boy he used to know, a boy who had been raised as his brother. He sat and remembered all of the adventures they had as boys, and he remembered the pain he felt when that boy disappeared.

Catherine’s description fit the person that Devin would have become. Could Catherine’s Jeff actually be Devin? Had his brother finally returned?

Vincent told no one about what Catherine told him. He went back to the lower tunnels to see if he could help.

Kanin turned around and looked at Vincent as he walked in. “Hey, Vincent. Is everything all right with Catherine?”

Vincent nodded. “Yes, she had some information for me, nothing to be concerned about.”

Cullen snorted. “She probably just wanted to see you for some afternoon delights.”

Vincent blushed and Kanin laughed and gently slapped at Cullen.

Mouse looked confused. “What’s an afternoon delight?”

Cullen laughed harder while Kanin took mercy on Mouse. “It’s like a play date for adults.”

His definition didn’t help Mouse, who shook his head, still clearly confused. “Oh...can’t adults play any time they want? Why in the afternoon? Does Catherine like to play in the afternoon, Vincent?”

If possible, Vincent blushed an even deeper shade of red. Cullen had tears streaming down his face from his laughter. Kanin also couldn’t help from laughing at Mouse’s innocent questions.

Seeing Vincent’s embarrassment, Kanin got himself under control. “Hey, Vincent. We’re almost done here, no sense in you getting dirty again.”

Cullen nodded. “Yeah, I’m done for the day, six hours is long enough. My hands are starting to hurt...”

Vincent smiled. “Perhaps we can finish tomorrow.”

Mouse puffed himself up importantly. “Good, we finished. I have an afternoon delight with Jamie...”

Cullen broke down again and Kanin tried to hide his grin. Vincent however was horrified. He did not want Mouse saying this around the tunnels. “Mouse, you should probably not refer to your time with Jamie in that way. It’s not a...nice term to use.”

Mouse blushed, embarrassed that he didn’t know that. “Oh, won’t say again.”

Vincent grabbed his shoulder and led him from the chamber talking to him to relieve his embarrassment.

********************************

Later that night, Vincent decided to wait by the park entrance to see if the man Catherine spoke of would return. He leaned against a wall and waited. Eventually, he heard the steel gate being opened and a scraping noise against the door. He knew someone was trying to enter the tunnels.

Jeff had packed a bag with flashlights, ropes, and a bolt cutter. H walked to the tunnel entrance and cut the chain holding the gate. He bent with his knife, trying to pry open the steel door. As he squatted there, the door slid open and he backed away. There was a man standing there and the light finally revealed his face and the two men stared at one another.

Vincent came out of the tunnel. “Devin?”

The man’s heart skipped a beat at the unfamiliar name. “No one’s called me that for twenty years...Oh God!” He stepped forward and embraced Vincent.

Vincent grabbed his brother and returned the hug and then backed away slowly as he drank in the sight of him. “We thought you were...”

Devin finished his sentence. “Dead? Well, you know what Mark Twain said...reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”  

“We searched for you for weeks, months! Father was afraid you were lost in the maze.”

Devin hadn’t realized that they would think he was hurt or lost. He assumed they would realize he left. He walked around, explaining his disappearance. “I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I just had to get out. Twenty years is a long time. I wasn’t even sure anybody would be...home. I tell you, there have been a few dark nights when I thought I imagined the whole thing, the tunnels, the old man, you…especially you.” Devin looked directly at Vincent. “So what are you doing here anyway, it’s like you knew I was gonna be here?”

“Catherine saw you last night at the carousel and followed you here.”

“Catherine...” Devin searched his mind for someone named Catherine. He mentioned the only one he could think of. “You mean Chandler from the DA’s office?”

Vincent nodded his assent.

Devin smiled. “Small world, so you have a helper in the DA’s office?”

Vincent looked down shyly. “Catherine is…more than a helper...”

Devin stared at his brother in wonder. “Things change, I guess.” Devin sensed how uncomfortable it was making Vincent feel and he changed the subject. “So, the old man, is he...”

“Father is well. Let me take you to him.”

Devin shook his head. “I don’t think that would be such a good idea. The old man and I never got along too well, you know that. After I left, I never set foot in New York again. I think I was scared he’d know if I did, come drag me back down again.”

Vincent shrugged. “Well, you’re here now.”

“So I am. I’ve been having these dreams lately, about the tunnels. Weird, isn’t it? I’ve been to Casablanca, the Himalayas, Paris, all over the world, everywhere south of Oz and north of Shangrila, and I dream about a hole in the ground.”

“That’s not so weird when that hole in the ground is home.”

Vincent stepped forward and grabbed Devin’s shoulder. “Please?”

Twenty years later, he still couldn’t deny Vincent’s requests. He sighed and then nodded. “Let’s go.”

He picked up his bag and followed Vincent through the door. They took their time walking through the tunnels. They wanted to catch up on each other’s lives.

Devin looked over at Vincent, who was a head taller than him. “So little brother, you grew.”

“A little.” Vincent shrugged, smiling easily with Devin, who laughed out loud. “Have you been traveling this whole time, Devin?”

“Yeah, I have. I’ve been to some beautiful places, Vincent.”

“You never settled down in any one place?”

“No, I just moved from place to place. Every six months or so,  I’d get bored and move on. New place, new job, new people, new life.”

“You never married, had children?”

Devin chuckled. “None that I know about...So how about you Vincent, you got something going with Chandler?”

Vincent lowered his head in embarrassment and then nodded slowly. “I...guess I’ve...got something going.”

Devin was pleased at the news that Vincent had found someone. “Good for you little brother, you been together for a while?”

Vincent shrugged; amazed that he was having this conversation with someone. “We met a little over a year ago.”

“Wow, you are committed...so, obviously, you love her?”

Vincent nodded. “She’s my life.”

Devin punched him affectionately in the shoulder. “So I may have a niece or a nephew soon?”

Vincent lowered his face in shock, to even be discussing such a thing! “I...I never even considered...”

Vincent looked up as Devin slammed to a stop. If Devin wasn’t so overcome with fear he might have heard Vincent’s comments and said something about it, but as it was, he stood outside the library paralyzed with fear.

He looked at Vincent and shook his head. “I can’t.”  

Vincent nudged him. “Come on.”

Devin and Vincent walked in as Devin gazed around the room, flooded with memories. Not much had changed except for the volume of books kept here.

Father walked out from behind a bookcase, talking to Vincent, and stopped in his tracks, looking into the adult version of a face he once knew. He recognized Devin and, in shock from seeing him, reacted poorly, berating Devin for not keeping in touch with them.

Father swayed under the weight of the shock he was feeling. Vincent stepped forward, filled with concern for him. Father pushed away his concerns, telling them he was fine.

Devin took mercy on seeing the weakness Father displayed. He realized that the man he always thought of as a pillar of strength was in fact older and more vulnerable. He was worried about Father, but the angry boy in him kept him from displaying any concern.

They each took a deep breath and started over. Devin told Father about his exciting life and how he had been successful at various jobs. He wanted Father’s approval, but Father continued to berate him for his poor choices and irresponsibility. Devin and Father argued while Vincent looked on.

As it was in the past, Vincent tried to act as a buffer between the two people who were his only family members. Father yelled, and Devin felt like a child again. Devin stormed out angrily as Father begged him to come back.

After making sure Father was okay, Vincent went after Devin and caught up with him on the staircase before the Great Hall. He didn’t want Devin to leave again and struggled with a way to unruffled feathers. 

Devin had been shocked at the age progression in Father. Concerned, he asked how he was and was relieved when Vincent nodded indicating Father was all right.

Vincent told Devin he couldn’t understand why the two of them couldn’t get along. Devin figured it was because he was a reminder of his mother. The woman had died Below during childbirth and Father couldn’t save her. Devin thought he was a constant reminder of that failure. He shook his head as he turned and left.

Vincent stood for a minute as he absorbed the news. Then he followed his brother.

Devin became aware Vincent was tailing behind him. “Some things never change.” Vincent caught up in a few more strides. Devin chuckled as he looked over. “Or maybe they do. You could never keep up before.”

Vincent shrugged. “Longer legs. Devin, will you come back?”

He reached for Devin’s arm and pulled him to a stop. Devin shook his head. “I don’t know, Vincent.”

Vincent smiled. “You can stay in my chamber. It’ll be like old times.”

Devin grimaced. “Yes, with Father coming in every ten minutes to holler at me because you’re still awake. I should have told him it was you that kept me awake with your life altering questions.”

“Why didn’t you?”

Devin rolled his eyes. “Because he would have flipped out that you were so worried about stuff and then he would have spent hours talking to you. I only had to put up with you for what...20 minutes until you finally fell asleep. Then I had to listen to you snore.”

Vincent pretended to be offended. “It was you that snored!”

Devin laughed because he knew it was true. “Oh, if it wasn’t that then it was your furry feet in my face.”

“Your face shouldn’t have been in my furry feet’s way.”

Devin walked as Vincent continued to follow. He was shocked that he still remembered the message system when he heard a call to Vincent come over the pipes.

“That’s, Father.”

Vincent nodded, pleased that Devin remembered. “Yes.”

“You’d better go see how he is.”

Vincent sighed. “Will we see you again?”

“I don’t know, maybe. I don’t want to make any promises.” Devin shrugged and reached over, clasping Vincent’s shoulder. He hugged him briefly, then backed up with a smile and walked away.

 

******************************

 

Later that night, Vincent went to see Catherine. He wanted to tell her about Devin. He tapped on her window and waited as she came to meet him.

“Hello, Catherine.”

“Hi, Vincent. I didn’t expect to see you tonight.”

“I wanted to tell you about the man you spoke of…”

“Jeff...Jeff Radler? Did you find out who he is?”

“I don’t know him as Jeff. His real name is Devin. He was raised Below with me. He was my closest friend. We even shared a chamber growing up, until the day he left.”

Catherine was surprised at what he had told her and curious about the past. “Why did he leave the tunnels?”

“Father and Devin never got along. One night they got into a particularly bad argument over an incident Devin and I had at the carousel. Father had thought Devin had put me in extreme danger. He hollered at Devin terribly...Devin said some horrible things back to Father...a few days later he left and never came back...until now.”

“So, he left, changed his name, educated himself, and has now returned. Father must be proud of him.”

Vincent sighed and looked at her and shook his head. He knew what he was about to tell her would not be well received. “Devin has not been educated in the way you think. He has traveled extensively since he left. He’s had many adventures, many lives, and many careers.”

“What do you mean, Vincent? He’s not a lawyer?” 

Vincent hung his head with shame. “He’s been a travel guide, a monk, a professor, a carnival worker, and even a doctor and now...now he’s a lawyer.”

Catherine was silent from the shock of his words, so Vincent continued.
“Father is not proud of him. It has given them even more to argue about. Devin feels Father hates him for not being able to save his mother in childbirth and Father feels Devin is irresponsible. Father will not speak of it, although I can sense how troubled he is, and Devin…with all the places he’s been, all the lives he’s led…he still seems lost.”

“Father’s right you know, your friend is irresponsible. This charade of his may end up putting a monster back out on the street to molest little girls!”

Vincent looked over at her. “Devin would never allow that to happen, I know it.”

“You know the boy he was many years ago. You don’t know the man he’s grown into.”

“I know his heart.”

“I’m sorry, Vincent, but I can’t allow this to go on, there’s too much at stake.”

Vincent turned from her and looked out at the city. “We were going to build a raft together, Huck and Jim on the Mississippi. I had other friends, others who grew up with me in the tunnels, but Devin...Devin was the only who was irresponsible enough to dream dreams that included me. Years after he left I would still hear his voice in the Whispering Gallery, see his face reflected in the mirror pool, and when I would turn, he would be gone. If you expose him, Catherine, he will be gone again.”

Catherine ached for him, but she wouldn’t allow Ehringer to go free. “I’m sorry, Vincent, I have no choice.”

Vincent turned from her as tears gathered and fell from his eyes, and he held onto the balcony wall. Catherine stood for a moment, then walked to his side and touched his arm.

“If there was another way, I would do it, but this case is too important. There was a four year old girl, Vincent…a four year old!” Catherine had tears in her eyes as she pleaded with him. “Please try to understand!”

He turned to her after sensing her distress. He moved to take her in his arms.
“I’m sorry. I understand...I do...but Devin is the only other person in the world who ever treated me like...I was normal...until I met you.”

“Vincent, if your friend would just...”

Vincent interrupted. “Catherine, Devin is so much more than a friend. He is my brother in every sense but by blood. It’s why this hurts so much, but you mustn’t fret over it.”

Catherine was saddened that he was going through so much and grateful that he understood her dilemma. She stayed in his arms and offered her comfort. Finally, she stepped back from him. “Will you be okay?”

He nodded. “Yes, but I should go. It’s late.”

“Vincent, thanks for telling me the story. I know how hard it must have been.”

“Goodnight, Catherine.”

He turned and left, and Catherine was alone to think about the dilemma.

 

************************************

 

Catherine went to work the next day. She had stayed up late into the night and finally came up with a solution that would work for everyone concerned. She went to Jeff’s office, walked in, and shut the door behind her.

“Good morning, Jeff, or should I say Devin?”

Devin shrugged. “Doesn’t matter, I answer to just about anything. Did Vincent tell you?”

Catherine ignored his question. “I’m not gonna have you arrested. I know what that would do to Vincent and Father, but I want you off the Ehringer case and out of this office.”

“I appreciate that. You give me the rest of the day to sort this out and figure out what I’m gonna tell Moreno, be out of your life by night.”

“I can live with that. Tell me on thing...”

Catherine’s look clearly showed she was confused.

Devin chuckled derisively. “I’m charming, intelligent, and hard working, so why? Is that what you want to know? I never figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up.”

“Maybe you never grew up...”

Devin laughed. “Now you sound like Father.”

“Do I? Because I’m asking you to be responsible for your actions?”

“No, because you don’t really know anything about me or my life and you’re judging me.”

“It’s not my place to judge you…”

“And yet…?”

Catherine shook her head to dispel his ideas. “And yet you feel judged…did you ever think that maybe it’s your own conscience judging you? That somewhere deep down inside of you, you know that the life you’re living is wrong?”

“Wrong for who?”

Catherine sighed as she threw her hands up in defeat. “Look, I never meant for this conversation to take the turn it has. All I ask is that you find a way to remove yourself from this office before you let a murdering child molester back out on the streets!”

Devin looked at her. He knew she was being more than fair and he liked the person that he saw she was.

“I can promise you I would’ve never let that happen! I’ll finish the brief by the end of the day. If it’s not good enough, you’ll still have time to fix it.”

Catherine frowned as she sighed and her tone softened. “Fine. I’ll trust you because Vincent trusts you. No matter who you are or what you do, Devin, Vincent loves you.”

Devin looked at her as he grinned. “Yeah, he loves you too.”

She was taken aback that he had picked up on Vincent’s feelings after such a short time together. She looked at him curiously. “How can you tell?”

“He told me...”

“He told you?!”

“Well, not in so many words, but I could tell, mostly in the way he speaks about you. He loves you, Chandler, and I love him. Don’t hurt him, he deserves better than that!”

She smiled at the display of his protective side. “Now who sounds like Father? You don’t need to worry Devin, I would never hurt him.”

She turned and walked out his door, then sent word to Vincent through a messenger telling him that she had a long talk with Devin. She had come up with a solution and everything was going to be fine. Devin had agreed to her terms.

******************************

Vincent sat in his chamber and read the letter from Catherine.

“Hello, Vincent,” Father said as he walked into the chamber a few hours later.

“Hello, Father.”

Father tried to not show his concern but failed. “Have you seen or talked to Devin?”

Vincent sighed deeply. “Devin’s been working in Catherine’s office.”

“As a lawyer?” Father asked incredulously.

Vincent lowered his head and nodded.

“For how long?” Father wondered.

“A few days now.”

“And Catherine told you about this?”

“Catherine came to me and told me that a man had started working at her office. She stopped by his hotel to bring him some paperwork on a case he was to work on. As she pulled up, the man left the hotel and walked into the park. Catherine followed him and discovered him by the secret door in the drainage tunnel.”

“So, she came to warn you about him?”

“She had some concerns…she gave me his description. After she said he had three deep scars on his left cheek, I suspected it was Devin. I didn’t want to mention it until I was sure.”

“And then he came. And when you were certain it was him…”

“I went to see her and explained to her who Devin really was.”

“Well, at least as a lawyer he can’t hurt anybody.”

“They put him on an important case, one that involves the prosecution of a man who has molested children...”

“Dear God, I hope your brother has the sense not to follow through with his charade!”  

“No, now that Catherine knows who he really is, she’s spoken to him already.”

Father looked relieved. “Well that’s something.”

“She will not expose him, but he has agreed to resign.”

Father nodded. “Yes, well I suppose it’s for the best.”

“The best? How can you say that?”

“Not easily I assure you.  Some relationships can only bring us pain no matter how much we wish otherwise. You love Devin as a brother, I know that. I loved him too, and yet he left both of us for over twenty years with out so much as a goodbye.”

Vincent surged to his feet. “And last night you made sure he would leave again.”

Father blanched at Vincent’s anger. “You blame me?”

“I blame both of you. How could you be so hard on him?”

“If I was hard on him as a child it was for his own good. His little escapades endangered not only himself but all the other children, especially you. I know what happened at the carousel and I know why it happened.”

Vincent roared angrily. “You don’t know anything about what happened that night! For as far back as I can remember you were always harder on Devin than anyone else.”

“Vincent, please, I swear to you I’ve always tried to be fair...”

Vincent interrupted him. “No one knows better that I how hard you tried and how well you succeeded. You were a Father not only to me but to anyone who needed one. You were always there for more children than I can name but not for Devin. Why, Father? How could you shut him out when he needed you most?”

Father sat down heavily as he faced the hard truth of what he did. “Oh dear God, have I really?”

Father told Vincent the entire story. How he had lost everything and how he was brought Below by a woman named Grace. He explained how he lived with Grace, how she helped to heal him. How she lost her life in childbirth and how he didn’t want to set Devin apart from the others. How he always meant to tell Devin one day.

Vincent felt a feeling of dread sweep through him as he listened to the story. Finally, he sat down heavily in his chair, contemplating what Father had just told him. “Devin is your son?!” Vincent shook his head in disbelief. “Oh, Father.”

Father nodded, flooded with guilt. “I know.”

“You must tell him.”

Father sighed. “It’s too late. He’s probably gone already...”

“It might not be.”

“He’ll never come back down here. How could I have been so wrong…”

Vincent shot to his feet. “I will be back shortly.”

He ran to his chamber to compose a letter to enlist Catherine’s help.

 

*****************************

 

Catherine came home to find a letter had been slipped underneath her door. She opened the letter and discovered it was from Vincent. She quickly read it and was shocked by its contents.

Catherine,

I need your help. I have to get Father and Devin to meet. Father has something of grave importance that Devin needs to hear. He must hear this news before he leaves town.

Devin is Father’s natural son. Please do everything you can to get him to the carousel in the park. It’s close enough for Father to walk to and its neutral ground for the story to be told.

I know Devin like the back of my hand. There’s a story behind an incident that happened at the carousel. Have Devin talk to you about it, in his anger he’ll drag you to the carousel.

Love V

***********************************

Catherine dropped the letter to the floor and ran for her coat and purse. She quickly left to try to catch Devin in his hotel room.

She made record time getting there and knocked loudly. Devin opened the door.

“May I come in?”

Devin stepped aside and allowed her to enter.

She glanced at his packed bags. “Running away again?”

Devin smiled. “I prefer to think of it as a strategic retreat, one step ahead of the law.”

“No one’s asking you to leave New York.”

“Why the sudden concern? You didn’t seem this morning to be all that worried about my future.”

“Because I know how much you mean to Vincent and how much it would hurt him to lose you again.”

He knew he would hurt Vincent again when he left. It hurt him to have to leave Vincent behind, again. Devin recoiled from that hurt and angrily blew up. “Vincent! Why does it always come down to Vincent and how much I’m going to hurt him?”

“Like at the carousel that night when you almost got him killed?”

“What the hell do you know about the carousel? Why don’t you come with me, maybe it’s time you heard what really happened.”

Devin grabbed her arm and led her to the park and straight to the carousel. Catherine smiled to herself at how well Vincent predicted his brother’s actions.   

Devin picked the locks on the fence and the carousel gate and they stepped onto the carousel. The entire time this was happening, he was relating what had happened that night.

“This all started with me wanting a knife. Father said no, knives weren’t toys, they were dangerous and someone might get hurt. I scrounged for bottles and saved my nickels and bought one anyway. Someone told Father. I thought Vincent had squealed, found out later it was a boy named Mitch, but by then it was too late. Father had already taken away my knife and I tried to take it out on Vincent. We fought, I lost...” He pointed at the scars on his cheek, indicating that they were from Vincent. “Father was angry with me for fighting. One night a few days later, we came here. Me and Vincent and a few others, but it was my idea. I pushed them into it and it worked like a charm but something went wrong. A cop showed up, we ran, except for Vincent, he lagged behind. The cop chased us and I fell, he grabbed me and Vincent roared. The cop released me in surprise and drew his gun and turned towards the noise. I threw a rock that him squarely in the chest. He fell over and Vincent and I got away...”

Catherine nodded. “You saved him!”

“After he saved me!”

Catherine, knowing that Father and Vincent had entered the room and heard most of the story prompted Devin to talk more. “Did Father ever know what happened?”

“Some of it, I left out the worst parts. Still, Father screamed at me about my irresponsibility. He said he thought I had done it on purpose. I screamed back that it was true. I hated Vincent. I can’t even say he was all wrong.” He smiled. “There were times...”

Catherine smiled too, guessing at what it was like to have a pesky younger brother. “But not this time...”

“I felt so bad about blaming Vincent for the knife that I wanted to do something special for him.”

“Why didn’t you ever tell Father the truth?”

“I don’t know, maybe pride or....”

Father interrupted as he walked up. “Maybe because we never learned to talk to each other.”

Devin whirled around angrily. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“Listening, learning...”

Devin was furious. “It’s a little late for that old man!”

Vincent piped in. “It’s only late if you want it to be.”

Devin glanced at Catherine and Vincent. “I think I’ve been set up.” He looked over at Father. “What is this supposed to accomplish?

“Perhaps nothing, perhaps it will make you hate me even more but whatever happens I think you deserve to know the truth, Devin...my son.”

Father choked out his words, fearful that Devin would explode in anger and that their relationship would forever be altered.

Devin looked at him in disbelief, then walked down by his Father. They walked off and headed for the tunnels as Father told Devin everything, his whole life story. He got everything out in the open, and now he and Devin could begin the healing process.

 

*****************************

Catherine and Vincent let them walk off on their own. They stood facing each other with a carousel horse between them. Catherine told Vincent Devin had written the brief on the Ehringer case. Vincent asked how it was and Catherine explained that it wasn’t the best in the world but it was enough to keep Ehringer in prison for a long time.

Catherine asked Vincent if he thought Devin would stay and he told her that Devin was always restless, always longed for adventure, but at least now he had a home to come back to. Vincent came around the front of the carousel horse and extended his hand to Catherine.

“Will you come Below for a while?”

She took his hand and smiled up at him. “I’d love to Vincent.”

They followed far behind Father and Devin, who continued to talk.

Vincent looked at her gratefully. “Thank you for reaching out to Devin.”

She laughed as she waved her hand dismissively. “It was no hardship, Vincent, I…like him. But…”

“But?” he asked as he cocked his head curiously.

“But…I can only imagine that you two must have been quite the pair growing up.”

Vincent chuckled with her. “There are endless stories of our adventures. Father says that’s why he has so much gray hair, but Devin was always a good big brother. He was always watching out for me, protecting me.”

“He’s still watching out for you.” At the question in his eyes, she continued. “He was worried about you…well more about me hurting you. I think I eased his fears.”

He lowered his head in embarrassment, then looked at her shyly. “What did you say?”

She stopped and turned to look at him. She took both of his hands in hers.
“I told him I would never hurt you. That I’m here for as long as you’ll have me.” She touched his chest over his heart as he hung his head, then slowly opened his arms. She walked into them and they embraced. She snuggled against him. “You believe me don’t you?”

He held her tighter. “Yes, I believe you.”

 

************************************

 

Unknown to them, Father and Devin had been observing them.

Devin nodded his head backwards. “So, is this a good thing, what’s happening back there?”

Father glanced back, then rolled his eyes as he sighed. “I have no idea, son. Catherine is a wonderful person, she’s been good for Vincent.”

Devin sensed there was more. “But....”

Father sighed. “But their growing closeness scares me. I just don’t know...”

Devin shrugged nonchalantly. “They’ll be fine. Vincent’s a big boy now, we both are.”

Father nodded wistfully. “I know. I don’t know where the time went. Both my boys are men now.”

Devin reached out and put his arm around Father. “Yeah, but we’ll always need our Dad.”

Father smiled up at Devin, grateful that he was trying to forgive and meet him more than half way. Father and Devin walked into the library and settled themselves in chairs.

Father pointed to the tea set. “Can I pour you some tea?”

Devin wrinkled his nose. “No, after this place, I never really had a taste for tea. I don’t suppose you have any coffee?”

Father nodded with a half smile. “Yes, since Catherine has become involved with the world Below our helpers have miraculously began to send coffee to us.”

“Isn’t that kind of expensive?”

Father sighed and nodded again. “No one will admit to it, but I think Catherine had been padding the pockets of some of our helpers. We get little extravagances every once in a while. Fresh vegetables, an over abundance of fruit in the winter months, extra pumpkins at Halloween...”

Devin laughed. “Carl must be in his glory.”

Father shook his head. “Carl no longer works in the kitchen. It’s run by a man named William, and yes he is in his glory. Let me send for some coffee.”

Father sent word as Catherine and Vincent entered the room. They were hand and hand, but Vincent dropped her hand and took a step away from her as they entered the room. Devin caught the brief look of hurt that crossed Catherine’s face, but she quickly covered it up.

She smiled and sat down across from him. She leaned forward so only he could hear. “Devin, thank you for trying. It means a lot to Father and to Vincent that you’re still here.” She reached up and squeezed his hand. He looked at her, surprised by the sweetness of her gesture.

He nodded. “It might do us all some good to listen for a change.”

Brooke walked in with a tray containing hot water for tea and several cups. Vincent came over with a cup of tea for Catherine. Devin looked at her. “Father ordered some coffee to be delivered if you would like some of that. Thankfully, the helpers have been able to afford to share that luxury with the world Below.”

Catherine blushed and looked down quickly, then up again at Vincent. “I’ll wait for the coffee if you don’t mind.”

“Of course, Catherine.”

Vincent sat his cup down and pulled up a chair near the group. Samantha came in with a tray of coffee and Catherine went to pour cups for herself and Devin.

Vincent waved Samantha over. “Samantha, would you like to meet someone?”

She grinned and walked over to Vincent, adoration for him clearly written in her eyes. “Yes, Vincent.”

Vincent put his arm around her waist. “Samantha, this is my brother, Devin.”

Samantha looked confused but she extended her hand to the handsome man across from them. “Pleased to meet you.”

Devin took her hand and lifted it to his lips. “I’m very pleased to meet you too, Miss.”

Samantha’s eyes grew round and she smiled coyly at the man who was treating her like such a grown-up. Devin released her hand and she held it in her other, clearly treasuring the chaste kiss he had planted there.

Father came up and kissed the top of her head. “Thank you, Samantha. Run along now and get to bed.”

Samantha looked up, hurt she was being dismissed. Devin looked at his father angrily but Vincent caught his eye and shook his head. Devin narrowed his eyes and tried to think about it in a different light.

Father was a busy man and had just gone through an emotionally disturbing experience. Devin knew he was normally considerate of the children’s feelings. He knew that Father hadn’t realized that he had been so abrupt to Samantha.

Samantha was at the door when Devin called out to her. “Miss Samantha?”

Samantha turned around and looked at Devin.

“Samantha, maybe we could visit tomorrow at breakfast.”

Her eyes lit up. “Okay, see you tomorrow.”

She skipped from the room and Catherine smiled at him. “I bet you’re a heartbreaker?”

Devin shrugged. “I’ve been with my share of women. Loved a few, been dumped by a few...” He pointed over at Vincent. “You could dump this one for his more adventurous older brother.”

Vincent lowered his head, wondering who Catherine would choose. In his eyes, Devin lived a fascinating life filled with non stop adventure. He wondered how any woman could turn that down.

Catherine laughed in Devin’s face. “Forget it. I like someone who’s a little more stable with their life.”

Vincent sneaked a peek at Catherine, who reassured him with a smile and a wink. Devin caught the look that passed between and smiled at the love he saw between the two of them. “Dumped again for the cute younger brother. I knew there was a reason I never liked him hanging around.”

Father chuckled. “Ha, you two were inseparable as children. I would still be dark haired and handsome if it wasn’t for the trouble the two of you created.”

Catherine smiled at him. “You’re still handsome.”

Father blushed as he chuckled. Vincent looked down to hide his smile while Devin snorted at Catherine and rolled his eyes. “Teacher’s pet.”

 Father shot Devin a disapproving look, then smiled sweetly at Catherine. “Thank you, dear.”

Catherine nodded. “So, Father, you must have had your hands full with this pair...”

“Oh my, yes, from the time Vincent was old enough to walk Devin consistently led him into some kind of trouble.”

Well, I’m sure Vincent and Devin can tell me all types of stories but I’d like to hear the ones from when they were toddlers. Will you tell me about some of the incidents?”

Vincent looked intrigued. He never heard Father’s side to his and Devin’s adventures. Devin smiled; he too would like to hear some of the stories.

Father leaned back in his chair. “Well, let me see...I guess the first memory I have came way back when Vincent was just a baby. He had finally settled down and was just starting to get in the habit of sleeping at night. One particular night, I had put Vincent and Devin to bed and I thought they were asleep. Mary and I were enjoying tea in the library when all of a sudden Devin walks in the room carrying Vincent. He had his arm around Vincent’s neck and he was dragging him along the floor.”

Catherine gasped and Father shook his head as he held up his hand to stop her. “Oh it gets even better. Mary and I tried to dash to save Vincent but Devin looked up at both Mary and I and said “baby’s crying.” Well, needless to say Vincent was almost blue from lack of oxygen and before either of us could get to them, Devin dropped Vincent to the floor banging Vincent’s head in the process.”

Catherine’s hand flew to her mouth. “He could have killed him.”

Devin rolled his eyes. “His hard head? Not a chance.”

“Actually, when Vincent’s head hit the ground he began to cry which forced air into his lungs faster. His color returned quickly and we thanked God he was all right.”

Vincent shook his head as Catherine paled at the thought of what happened to him as a baby.

Devin grinned. “So, actually, I saved his life.”

Father chuckled. “I suppose in a deluded sort of way you did. So, Catherine that is how I got my first set of gray hairs.”

Devin leaned forward in his seat. “The second set came when Vincent followed me near the Abyss one day. What was he Dad, about four?”

Father smiled at the unfamiliar title. “Yes, son, I believe he was.”

Catherine and Vincent exchanged smiles knowing that Father and Devin were going to be able to work through everything.

Devin continued with his story. “Well, I had just turned six and me and some of the other boys were playing hide and seek. Vincent followed me, but I didn’t know it. I hide in a spot near the Abyss.”

Vincent interrupted and turned to Catherine. “The Abyss is the place where the bridge is, the place where Jason Walker fell.”

Catherine nodded, then paled, not sure if she wanted to here about this place and a three year old Vincent.

Vincent nodded to Devin, who continued. “There’s this cranny in the wall. I was a pretty skinny six year old and I crammed myself into it. Vincent didn’t see me and kept walking. He got himself caught up in the ropes along the sides of the bridge over the Abyss. A couple of us heard him and came running. His foot was caught so badly and he was upside down hanging on the wrong side of the rope. Pascal ran and got Carl who was on sentry duty nearby. Carl had to cut Vincent out and take him to Father. Man did we get into trouble that night.”

Vincent chuckled. “I have no memory of that time, what did Father say?”

Devin shrugged. “He ranted and raved until Mary reminded him she had mentioned to him that you were asleep in your bed and that he was supposed to be the one keeping an eye on you. I got ice cream that night for a treat, didn’t I?”

He looked over at Father who blushed and nodded. “Yes, you did, and I got more gray hairs.”

Father looked over at Catherine. “I don’t know if it’s a blessing or not, but as they got older I heard less and less of their stories, but I had more wounds and injuries to heal.”

Mary had heard Devin was home and rushed in to greet him. Devin hugged her warmly and kissed her cheek. “Mary, it’s so good to see you.”

Mary patted his cheek. “Look at my little Devie, all grown up into such a handsome man.”

Catherine chuckled. “Devie?”

Mary smiled. “Hello, Catherine. Yes, that’s what Vincent called Devin until he was about six.”

Vincent smiled as he brought a chair over for Mary to sit in. “Yes, I stopped when I called him that in front of a girl he liked and he punched me in the nose. Do you remember that Devin?”

“Yeah, I remember it bled for almost a half an hour. I was certain we were going to have to tell Father, but it finally stopped.”

Vincent chuckled. “My shirt was so soaked with blood we washed it in the swimming chamber, then got into trouble for wearing wet clothes.”

Mary laughed. “I always wondered what happened the day you broke your arm, Devin, and Vincent had to get stitches around his wrist.”

Father nodded. “Yes, and how you each acquired a broken leg.”

Devin started to laugh. “I forgot about that. Vincent and I were climbing the walls in the maze...”

Catherine gasped as she wondered if was the same maze that Father and Vincent had been trapped in when the walls caved in. Vincent knew where her mind led her and nodded to her that she was correct.

Devin still talked. “Anyway, we got this bright idea to tie our arms together so in case one of us fell, the other could pull them back up. So, I lead the way and as I was stepping off a rock, Vincent was stepping on it. The rock gave out and Vincent fell. Of course his weight suddenly pulling on my arm snapped a bone and because I couldn’t lift him, Vincent dangled from the rope as it dug into his wrist. We finally just had to let ourselves fall. Vincent landed on his leg and it snapped and I landed next to him and then my leg snapped.”

Father shook his head. “But you were brought to me by stretcher. No one said you were near the maze.”

Devin shrugged. “I used my knife to cut off the rope. Vincent’s wrist was bleeding pretty badly so I wrapped it in a strip I tore off from my shirt. I called for help and some of the older kids dragged us off so we wouldn’t be caught in the maze. Everyone played there even though we weren’t supposed to; no one wanted our play area taken away.”

Father sighed. “That was the quietest six weeks I had in your entire lives. I remember how nice it was that you two were confined because of your casts. Devin had a broken leg and arm and Vincent had a broken leg and thirty stitches around his wrist.”

Vincent looked over at Devin and smiled. “That’s when we read Mark Twain and decided to build our own raft.”

Devin looked around at everyone’s faces. “We built it too, then Father found out we were going to take it down to that fast river below the catacombs.”

Father shook his head. “You certainly would have been killed. That river has a current that would have swept you both away instantly.”

Devin shrugged. “Still, I wish we could have tried it out. I bet it would have floated.”

Vincent looked over at Devin and caught his eye. “It floats, Devin. I still use it. Father’s right, the current is horrendous, but our raft floats.”

Devin smiled at his brother, sorry for the years that had passed since he had last seen him. “You’ll have to show me sometime.”

 

****************************

 

Word spread quickly that Devin was back and those who knew him began to stop by.

Pascal walked into the room and Devin broke out into a huge grin. “Pascal, my God, man, you still haven’t grown into those ears.”

Pascal laughed as he hugged Devin. “Devin, still as ornery as ever.”

Catherine sat in a small section of the chair next to Vincent’s leg so Pascal could take her seat. Vincent scooted over and she smiled at him and sat back a little further.

Father looked over at Pascal. “Vincent and Devin were just telling us about some of their adventures.”

Mary laughed. “Pascal was always right there with them, I’m sure he has a few of his own stories.”

Pascal shook his head and tried to hide a grin. “No, we were good kids. We never got into trouble.”

Father coughed. “Really, care to tell me how you got a cut on your leg that required eighteen stitches?”

Pascal blushed. “Well...”

Vincent chuckled. “That wasn’t entirely Pascal’s fault.” Father raised his eyebrows and Vincent continued. “We snuck out one night very late and went into the park. Devin promised me he would show me the big dipper. We went out and somehow ended up walking into the park. Across the park we saw a group of older kids headed our way.”

Devin shook his head disgustedly. “Yeah, then that idiot Mitch threw a rock at them and they chased us. We couldn’t let them see where we normally entered, so we tried to get through the old gate by the carousel. Pascal was the smallest so we tried to push him through an opening near the top. He was supposed to slide down and open the gate for the rest of us. He scraped his leg against a piece of steel while we pushed him in. He never cried out so we didn’t know it happened.”

Vincent nodded. “Yes, Pascal even opened the gate for us and we managed to get safely inside before the other kids found us.”

Devin clapped Pascal on the back. “Man, you were bleeding. You walked, what, two blocks before you finally got light headed and we had to carry you.”

Father piped in. “You said he slid down some rocks and hit a piece of steel.”

Vincent blushed. “Well, it was the truth in an odd sort of way.”

Winslow walked in and Devin stood once again to greet another old friend. He had just taken a seat when Rebecca raced in. She flew into Devin’s arms and they hugged fiercely.

Catherine blinked in surprise and Vincent leaned forward to whisper in her ear. “If Devin was like my brother, Rebecca was the one who was most like my sister. She was with us on almost all of our adventures.”

Catherine smiled at him and then at Rebecca. She immediately liked Rebecca for her warmth and friendliness.

Devin scooted over in his chair and Rebecca shared his seat much the same way Catherine was sharing Vincent’s.  

She looked at him affectionately. “I can’t believe you’re here, Devin.”

Devin smiled. “Me either.”

She pretended to scold him. “How could you just disappear and not write to us or send word or anything!”

Devin blushed. “I’m sorry, really.” He looked around the room. “I can’t explain it...I was just a kid, and I had to just get away.”

Rebecca punched him in the stomach. “Don’t do it again.”

Devin grunted from the assault. “Auugh! Okay, I promise I won’t.”

Rebecca smiled sweetly. “Good! So, what were we all talking about?”

Mary smiled. “The boys were relating stories about the past.”

Catherine and Rebecca smiled at Mary’s use of the term “boys.”

Rebecca laughed. “The boys have many stories, half of which will curl your toes.”

Devin shook his head. “We were trying to relate the ones that were less curly.”

Catherine wondered about the ones that were even more hair raising than the ones she had already heard.

William chuckled. “I was a little too old to be involved in your games. I guess I was the lucky one because I escaped injury.”

Father turned to Rebecca. “Yes, I seem to remember setting a broken arm for you at one time. You got it ice skating, you said.”

“Is that what I said?” Rebecca blushed. “Well, it was kind of a fib.”

Father nodded and then shook his head as he grinned. “No kidding!”

Mary leaned forward. “So how did it happen?”

Rebecca looked at Vincent who shrugged. “Vincent dropped me.” All eyes turned to him until Rebecca continued. “But it wasn’t his fault. We were delivering our candles and everyone was trying to get back first. Vincent said he was going to hop on the subway car. I wanted to follow him to beat Devin back but I didn’t realize he rode on top of the car!”

Catherine blinked in surprise as Father gasped. “He what?!”

Vincent blanched under his Father’s angry gaze. “I’ve been doing it for years.”

“Vincent, you could be killed!”

“Father, I’m careful.”

Devin interrupted them. “Go o,n Rebecca, I’ve never heard this story.”

“Well, Vincent hopped onto the car and I tried to get up but I couldn’t. He reached down to try to help me up but the train started to move. I could feel myself slipping and Vincent somehow pulled me up. I was never so afraid in my life. Vincent held his hand over my mouth but I screamed for sixteen blocks. The train stopped and before Vincent could show me how to climb down I jumped and of course fell and landed on my arm. Vincent had to give me his scarf to use as a sling so he could walk me home.”

Devin smiled. “That’s why I was always the champion at candle delivery. You guys did stupid stuff.”

Vincent shrugged indifferently. “We did stupid stuff to try to keep up with you.”

The hour was late and Catherine tried to stifle a yawn, but Vincent, always in tune with her feelings, leaned over closer to her. “Shall I walk you home?”

Catherine blushed. “I do have to work late tomorrow.”

Devin leaned forward sheepishy. “Speaking of work, I left notes on the Ehringer case on the top of your desk.”

Catherine nodded and smiled. “I got them, thanks.”

“Did you read them?”

“I read them.”

“Can you use it?”

Catherine laughed as she pretended an anger she didn’t feel. “Yeah, I can. You know, Devin, if you applied yourself you would make a good attorney one day.”

Devin shook is head as he held up his hands. “Too much school....good luck with the case, okay? Stay tough; that guy’s a scum, he needs to stay where he’s at.”

Catherine nodded and stood. “It was nice meeting you, Devin, and I’m really glad we had this chance to visit. ”

“I feel the same way, Chandler.” He cocked his head towards Vincent. “If you ever get tired of this mass of a man, call me.”

Catherine smiled at Vincent and winked. “I won’t.”

“Well, then keep an eye on him for me.”

“That I will do.”

Catherine turned to the rest of the group. “Goodnight, everyone. It was good to see you all again.”

Everyone said their goodnights to Catherine, and Vincent accompanied her on her walk home.

After they left, Devin sat back down. He addressed the room in general. “So how did that all come about?”

Father cleared his throat and began the story. “A little over a year ago, Vincent found Catherine in the park. She had been attacked and left there to die.”

Devin gasped. “My God!”

Mary continued the story. “Vincent knew she wouldn’t survive long enough to get her to a hospital, so he brought her Below.”

“Was she shot or…?”

Mary shook her head. “No, she’d been severely cut with a knife and had deep slashes to her face. Father stitched them and then bandaged her broken ribs.”

Father looked down at the table and sighed. “She’d lost so much blood, I didn’t think what I did would be enough. I was positive she wouldn’t make it.”

“Strong woman…” Devin replied respectfully.

“Yes, she is.” Father smiled.

Rebecca nodded as she continued the story. “She recovered here for almost ten days. Vincent took care of her night and day. He barely let any of us help him.”

“What’d she say when she saw him for the first time?”

Pascal jumped in. “He told me she saw his reflection in the back piece of a headlight, she threw it at him and hit him in the head. He gave her some time to settle down and then led her back to her apartment.”

Father nodded. “Months later he went to see her again. He had developed some kind of empathic connection with her and he couldn’t wait anymore to see her. In time, they developed a friendship.”

Mary smiled as she clasped her hands together. “In time, they fell in love!”

Father grumbled in agreement. “Yes.”

Devin smiled and looked down. He was truly pleased for Vincent. He wouldn’t feel so guilty leaving again. “I’m glad he’s got someone.”

Pascal knew what Devin was thinking and lightly patted his knee. “So are we.”

Winslow nodded. “Their love is an inspiration to us all.”

Rebecca smiled. “Yes.”

“So, are they getting married or…”

Mary chuckled as she reached for Devin’s hand. “As soon as they figure out they’re in love with one another…”

Devin frowned in confusion as Father stood up. “Well, its late children and I would like to get some rest. I’ve had a wonderful time tonight.”

Everyone agreed with him and slowly filtered out. Devin stood up and hugged his Father. “I had a great time tonight too.”

“Devin, I’m glad I finally told you everything. I know I wasn’t the easiest person for you to be around, but I want you to know that I never meant to single you out or hurt you. I’ve always loved you.”

Devin smiled. “I love you too, Dad.”

Mary nodded. “That’s what I’ve always wanted to hear. Devin, would you like me to make up a guest room?”

Devin shook his head. “No, I don’t want to be any trouble. I’ll crash with Vincent.”

Father raised his eyebrows in surprise. “In the same bed?”

Devin shrugged. “We always shared that bed before. Is it the same one?”

Father nodded. “Why yes, but Devin you were fourteen and eleven. You boys are a little bigger now than you were then.”

Devin smiled. “It’ll be fine. I’m heading there now. Maybe I can get to sleep before Vincent’s furry butt climbs into bed.”

Devin kissed Mary and Father on the cheek and then grabbed his duffel bag and headed to his old room.

 

*****************************

Vincent held Catherine’s hand while they walked to her threshold. Catherine held his arm tightly with her other hand and rested her head against his shoulder. She stifled another yawn and caught him looking down at her. “I’m sorry, Vincent. I’m so tired.”

He smiled and put his arm around her and drew her closer to him. “It’s late.”

She snuggled close and continued to walk. “I wish I was six again. My dad would come and put me on his shoulders and carry me home.”

Vincent chuckled. “I would offer to do it but I think you’d bang your head on the ceiling.”

Catherine shook her head. “I just meant that I remember how nice it felt to feel safe and taken care of.” She rubbed his chest gently with her hand. “It’s kind of the way I feel when we sit on my balcony together.”

Vincent blushed. “I know.”

Catherine yawned again. “Oh, I can’t wait to climb into bed and pull the covers up.”

Vincent nodded. “Yes, although I have a strange feeling that I’ll have company in my bed tonight. I bet Devin’s already invaded my chamber.”

“Why doesn’t he stay in one of the guest chambers?”

“He’ll not want to bother Mary to make one up for him. I bet he told them we would share my bed again.”

“You and Devin slept in the same bed growing up?”

“Yes.”

“How nice! I always wished I had a sister to share my bed with when I was growing up.”

Vincent chuckled. “Sometimes it was nice, sometimes it was horrible.”

Catherine looked puzzled. “I can’t see it being horrible.”

“Devin snores.”

“Oh!”

Vincent sighed. “I’ll miss him when he leaves.”

“You’re certain he’ll go?”

“Yes, he could never stay still for very long.”

They came upon her threshold. Vincent went to release her but Catherine pulled him closer and laid her head against his chest.

“I hate having to say goodbye, Vincent.”

He lowered his head and pulled her closer. “So, say goodnight instead.”

They embraced for several minutes. Catherine could feel herself drifting off in the safety of his arms. “One day,” she thought.

Catherine pulled back and reached up to caress his cheek. “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Catherine.”

Vincent watched as she went up the ladder, then turned and headed for his chamber.


*********************************

 

Vincent walked into his chamber and noticed the bump in his bed. He smiled when he realized how well he knew Devin. He went over and changed to his bedclothes, then slipped into his bed. Devin grumbled and scooted over but never woke up. Vincent drifted off to the sounds of Devin’s snoring, wishing it was Catherine next to him instead of Devin.

The next morning, Vincent rolled over and gasped as he heard a howl of pain.

“Damn it, you furry oaf! Get you’re big butt off my leg.”

Vincent rolled back over. “Sorry, Dev. I forgot you were in my bed.”

Devin sat up and rubbed his ankle. “I think it’s broke!”

Vincent hit him with a pillow across the head. Devin toppled back onto the bed. He grabbed his own pillow and swung it at Vincent. Vincent ducked and Devin scrambled to his knees to take another swing at Vincent.

Vincent leapt up and grabbed Devin’s waist and attempted to tackle him and bring him down on the bed.

Devin moved and he and Vincent lost their balance and began to fall off the bed. Devin’s face hit the edge of a table as he came down and a glass jar fell off the table and crashed on Vincent’s temple splitting it open.

Mary was walking by and after hearing the commotion, ran into the room. Devin was sitting on the floor, holding his hand over his nose as blood dripped on his shirt. Vincent was next to him with his hand on his temple and blood seeping through the fingers.

“What happened?”

“Vincent hit me with a pillow!”

Vincent gasped. “Devin fought back.”

Mary pointed angrily. “Both of you, right now to the hospital chamber!”

The two men walked past her and headed to the hospital chamber while she ran to get Father.

Father looked up as she came in. “Good morning, Mary.”

Mary grimaced worriedly. “It was! You’re needed in the hospital chamber. Two of the boys were fighting again.”

Father quickly followed her out. “Which boys was it? I know Kipper and Zack had an argument yesterday. It wasn’t Eric and Thomas again was it?”

Mary whirled around. “No, those boys are fine! It was Devin and Vincent.” She whirled back around and ran towards the hospital chamber.

Father walked in and saw blood covering Vincent’s face and Devin with his head back and blood flowing from his nose.

Father rolled his eyes. “Oh, for Pete’s sake! How...” He held up his hand. “Never mind, I don’t care.” He looked at Vincent first. “Lie back, you’re going to need a few stitches! Mary?”

Mary was already coming at him with a tray of sterilized needles. Father glanced at Devin. “I’m coming…Devin, keep that ice pressed onto your nose!”

“It hurts.”

Father grumbled as he cleaned Vincent’s wound. “Good, maybe it will teach you not to fight with your brother.”

Mary went over and packed Devin’s nose with cotton as Father grabbed the needle and thread. “This is going to hurt, Vincent.”

“I know.”

Father put three stitches in Vincent’s temple. Mary added a band aid with dancing bunnies on it as Devin laughed hysterically.

Father came over and pushed on Devin’s nose.

“Oww!”

Father grunted. “I think it’s broken.”

He straightened it the best he could as Devin howled in pain. Father then applied a strip across his nose to keep it into place. Mary covered the strip with a band aid that had ballerinas on it.

Mary looked at them angrily. “Please go back to your room and take those shirts off and soak them so they’re not stained by the blood.”

Both of the men put their heads down, nodded, and headed back to their chamber.

Father and Mary headed to the dining area. Vincent and Devin came to join them later.

Mary pointed across the room. “Children eat on the other side!”

Vincent stepped back but Devin protested. “Awww, come on!”

Father looked up angrily. “You heard, Mary!”

Devin turned around and grinned. “That’s okay. There’s Samantha, I promised I’d visit with her today.”

Vincent and Devin walked over and sat at the children’s table. The kids loved the attention and Vincent and Devin soon had them laughing with their antics.

Mary grumbled. “So much for that punishment!”

Father smiled conspiratorially. “Just wait.”

Five minutes later, William came from the kitchen. “All the children seated at the middle table are to help me in the kitchen today.”

Vincent and Devin looked at one another, then grimaced. The children pointed at them and laughed. They knew that the middle table would get picked today so nobody sat there. Vincent and Devin were late and that was the only spot left.

They spent three hours washing dishes before heading to the library.

 

*****************************

Father smiled sweetly as they walked in. “Did you boys enjoy your morning?”

Vincent sat down heavily. “No.”

Devin came over. “I could have found a better way to spend three hours than washing dishes. I’m leaving soon; I would have liked to visit with you.”

Father looked at him incredulously. “You’re leaving because you had to wash dishes?”

Devin didn’t want him to think he was leaving on a bad note and quickly shook his head. “No, because I made a promise to someone that I need to keep.”

Vincent smiled at Devin and reached over to clasp his shoulder affectionately. “At least now you know you can always come home.’

Devin nodded. “Yes, and this time I plan to write. I’ll send letters to Stan at the grocery store. He sends stuff down here the most.”

Father sighed. “When will you leave, Devin?”

“I’ve just got to pack up some of my stuff and then make a call to Catherine’s boss telling him I quit. After that...”

Father stood as he looked down sadly. “I’ll miss you, Devin.”

Devin threw his arms around his Father’s shoulders. “I’ll miss you too, Dad.”

Father embraced his son and pulled back with tears in his eyes. “Safe journey, son.”

Vincent stood and embraced Devin as well. “Don’t wait so long, and if you ever need to contact us in an emergency, you know how to find Catherine.”

“Yeah, tell her goodbye for me, will you?”

“Yes.”

“You should think about keeping her, Vincent, she’s a good one!”

Devin walked out and headed to Vincent’s chamber to pack his bag. Mary came in and cried as she hugged him goodbye.

Devin headed back up top and towards the airport.

 

******************************

Joe stomped up to Catherine’s desk. “What the hell did you do to Radler?”

Catherine put on a mask of innocence as she looked up. “What? I didn’t do anything to Dev...um Jeff!”

“Yeah, well he just called Moreno and quit. The man had credentials almost as good as yours and he just up and quits!”

“Maybe he couldn’t stand his boss’s sweet disposition!”

Joe blushed. “Sorry, Radcliffe. I hate losing the good ones.”

Catherine smiled to herself, wondering what Joe would do if he saw Devin’s real credentials.

That night, Catherine was in bed reading over some briefs when Vincent came to the door.

She rushed to greet him.

“Hi, Vincent.” She saw his face and reached up and pushed his hair away. “What happened?”

Vincent groaned. He had forgotten to change the bandage and it still had dancing bunnies on it. Catherine leaned forward and tried to get a better look.

“Vincent, are those bunnies on your band aid?” Vincent nodded as she giggled. “What happened?”

“Devin and I had a scuffle this morning getting out of bed. I got stitches.”

Catherine laughed. “What happened to him?”

“He has a broken nose and a bandage with ballerinas.”

“Father must have been mad. Is that why we have characters on our bandages?”

Vincent shook his head. “No actually, Mary did it.”

“Would you like me to change it to something a little less...cute?”

Vincent nodded and Catherine headed to her medicine chest. She removed a bandage and came back out.

Vincent sat in a chair and Catherine changed his bandage. The new one was skin color and at least didn’t stand out quite as much.

“All done, I wish I had a lollipop to give you. You were a very good boy.”

Stunned by her teasing, Vincent grabbed her by the waist and began tickling her. Catherine fell into his lap and spun around. Her face was mere inches from his when he suddenly stopped and looked at her lips, then back into her eyes.

He quickly stood up. “I...just came to tell you that Devin left today. I think he called your boss to resign.”

Catherine composed herself. “He did, Joe told me about it this morning.”

“I also told Devin if he needed to contact us in an emergency to do so through you.”

“That’s fine, I would be happy to help any way I can.”

Vincent nodded. “I should go. Thank you, Catherine.”

Catherine nodded as Vincent turned to leave.

“Vincent, can I have a hug goodbye?”

Vincent stood still as Catherine approached him and put her arms around him. She settled herself against him and wondered what was making him leave so suddenly.

Vincent briefly returned her hug, then left. Catherine sighed and went back inside.

 

******************************

A few days later, Father and Vincent read about the Ehringer case in the newspaper. His appeal was overturned and Catherine was quoted as saying that she owed it all to the help she received from Jeff Radler.

Vincent leaned forward and pointed it out to Father. “Jeff Radler was the name Devin used when he worked in Catherine’s office.”

Father chuckled. “I wonder what adventure he’s off doing now.”

Vincent smiled. “At least now, we’ll have the opportunity to hear about it.”

Two weeks later, their first letter came from Devin. He told all about his trip to Alaska and how he was running dog sled tours.

 

***************************

 

Vincent went to see Catherine that night.

“Hello, Catherine.”

“Hi, Vincent.”

“I came to tell you that Devin wrote. He’s running dog sled tours in Alaska.”

Catherine laughed loudly. “You’re kidding me! What did Father say about that?”

“He’s just happy he’s heard from Devin.”

Catherine smiled. “I am too, now you never have to worry if he’s safe.”

Vincent nodded. “Congratulations on winning the Ehringer case.”

Catherine smiled. “I couldn’t have done it without Jeff’s notes, I mean…I stayed up all night and rewrote them but essentially it was all of Devin’s work. Joe even gave me tomorrow off.”

Vincent looked at her. “Well, then perhaps you would like to read a book I brought?”

“Vincent, I would love to read the book with you.”

Catherine ran for the blankets and she and Vincent settled down and spent the night reading to one another. Everything was back to normal.

 

 

THE END