BEHIIND THE SCENES

SEASON 2

 

  

 

“NOTHING BUT MADNESS”

NINETEENTH IN THE SERIES BY KATHY DE

 

 

 

 

 

“Radcliffe!”

 

“Yeah?” Catherine looked up as Joe walked over to her desk with a file in his hands.

 

“We’ve got another one on our hands ... came in last night.”

 

“That’s the third one!”

 

“Yeah, I can count...” Joe muttered. Catherine sighed as she looked down and opened the file as Joe scowled angrily. “Don’t bother ... it’s another dead hooker with her throat slashed!”

 

“Amber Wharton? She was only fifteen, Joe.”

 

“Yeah...”

 

“Where was she from?”

 

Nebraska ... she ran away because her mother wouldn’t buy her the red bra she wanted.”

 

Catherine closed her eyes and her voice was husky with sadness. “And now she’s dead.”

 

Joe shrugged with dismay. “Try to find a witness, maybe her pimp’s name ... anything.”

 

“I will ...”

 

Joe left and Catherine headed out to the scene where Amber was killed. She questioned people milling about but they either wouldn’t talk to her or they pretended like they didn’t know anything.

 

For the next two days, Catherine spent her days out on the streets questioning anyone who would talk to her. She was getting nowhere fast and she headed back to the office clearly frustrated.

 

Joe took one look at her and shook his head. “Don’t work yourself up over it, Cath...Even the beat cops didn’t get any leads...”

 

Catherine nodded and headed home for the night.

 

 

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

 

 

Hours later, Catherine was sound asleep when she woke to the sound of tapping on her window. She walked out her balcony doors and could tell by his agitated state that Vincent was upset about something. “What’s wrong?”

 

“I’ve just seen something … hideous ...”

 

“What?”

 

“A woman murdered before my eyes!”

 

“My God, Vincent! Where?!”

 

“In the park ...”

 

“Tonight?”

 

“Just now!”

 

“Well, what happened?”

 

“The ones who killed her ... barely more that boys ...” He sighed aloud. “I’ve seen death before, even murder but not like this ... not so cold!”

 

Catherine reached her hand out to comfort him. “Tell me what happened ...”

 

“They rejoiced in it ...” Vincent said as he stood in front of her, clearly distraught over the whole thing. He looked down and could see her thinking about what he said. “They… celebrated the death. I’ve seen this before Catherine, I’ve felt what they felt in that moment … but I can tell you they felt no remorse … they’ve either killed before or will kill again!”

 

Catherine stepped forward and hugged him tightly. After a few minutes, she easily slipped into lawyer mode. “Stay here.” She ran and grabbed a pad of paper and a pen. “Please, come sit down ...” He followed her instructions as she began to question him. “How many boys were there?”

 

“Two.”

 

“And how old do you think they were?”

 

“Old enough to drive ... they were drinking as well but I don’t think they were over twenty one.”

 

“Did you get a good look at them?”

 

“Not their features. The light haired boy had a long trench coat on ... the dark haired boy had on dark slacks, gray maybe ... there was blue in his shirt and his coat was dark leather ... black I think.”

 

“That’s good, Vincent. Do you know what kind of car it was?”

 

“No, but it was red ... convertible ... it had a black stripe down the side.”

 

“Okay, that’s good, now what about the girl?”

 

“Young ... she couldn’t have been more than Brooke’s age.”

 

“So about fifteen or sixteen?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Did you get the feeling they were all friends?”

 

“No!” Vincent sighed. “They were not friends, Catherine. The girl was a ... prostitute.”

 

“Are you sure?” Catherine gasped at the news. “Are you absolutely positive?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Damn it! Then that’s the fourth girl that’s been killed in a few weeks!”

 

“Fourth?!”

 

“Yes, there have been three other bodies found … all prostitutes, all had their throats slashed.”

 

“It has to be them!” Vincent announced.

 

“Maybe …” Catherine frowned and nodded as she got back to asking questions. “So they went to the park to ... um ...” she hesitated briefly.

 

Knowing what she was going to ask, Vincent hid his face as he interrupted her. “Yes.”

 

“Did you hear any part of their conversation, Vincent?”

 

“They asked her if she liked a thrill ... then they asked her something about what was the biggest thrill there was ...”

 

Catherine frowned and shook her head, trying to make sense of it. “Anything else?”

 

Vincent searched his mind and he looked at her pointedly as he realized he may have something useful. “One of them called her Tracy! Her name was Tracy.”

 

“Go on.”

 

“The boy with lighter hair was talking to Tracy when the dark haired one came up behind her and ...”


Vincent couldn’t go on and Catherine prompted him gently. “What?”

 

“Pulled back roughly on her hair to expose her throat, I heard her scream out in pain then I saw a flash of the moonlight glean off the metal of the knife as he slashed it across her neck.”

 

“Oh, God! What did they do next? Did they rape her?”

 

“No, he casually dropped the girl and walked away. I ran towards them but they saw me coming and took off in their car. I knew I was too late but I placed my hand on Tracy’s back anyway and felt her take her last breath.”


“Oh, Vincent!” Catherine came forward and cradled his head to her shoulder. “I’m so sorry you had to see that ...”

 

Vincent accepted her comfort then pulled away. “I wanted to tell you, I thought perhaps it’ll help your office’s investigation of this crime.”

 

Catherine shrugged as she snorted with impatience. “I’ll try my best. It would help if you could come forward but you can’t so I’ll … have to try to find a way to tie in what you told me without tipping my hat as to where I got the information.”

 

“You must find them before they kill again!”

 

“I’ve been trying for three weeks. You’re the first witness I’ve ever had.”

 

“And I can’t speak in your courts!” he retorted angrily as he began to pace.

 

Catherine grabbed his arm to stop him from pacing then took his hands in hers as she squeezed his them comfortingly. “Are you okay? Do you want to stay here for awhile?”

 

He frowned and shook his head. “I should let you get back to sleep.”

 

“You didn’t answer my question…” she said as she moved forward and they hugged.

 

Vincent took the comfort offered and felt his heartbeat return to normal. He patted her back lightly then shifted slightly away to look down into her eyes. “I’m all right, I should go, you need your rest. Goodnight, Catherine.”

 

Catherine leaned forward and gave him a kiss, pausing slightly until he returned the kiss. She smiled as she stepped away. “Goodnight, Vincent.”


Vincent cupped her cheek and caressed his thumb lightly over it then turned and headed over the side of the wall.

 

 

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

 

 

Vincent made it Below without incident and walked into the library.

 

Father looked up at him with a smile. “You’re back.”

 

“Yes.”

 

Father knew something was wrong and he cocked his head curiously. “Tell me!”

 

Vincent sat down with a sigh. “I witnessed a murder tonight.”

 

“Dear, God!”

 

“It was in the park, a young prostitute was killed by some boys.”

 

“Boys?”

 

“Older ... nineteen maybe twenty...”

 

“Was it rape? Did things get out of control?”


Vincent snorted angrily. “It was not rape ... they never intended to have sex with that girl ... they brought her there for the soul purpose of killing her!”


“That makes no sense, Vincent. Perhaps you just came upon them a little later ...”

 

“Father!” Vincent exploded angrily. “I saw the whole scene with my own eyes! I saw them pull up in their car, get out and banter back and forth ... then kill her! The whole thing was over within minutes. They took her there to kill her ... casually and maliciously. They treated it like it was a game!”

 

“Was there …”  Father sighed as he looked down and shook his head sadly “... no chance to save her?”

 

“They slashed her throat and walked away.” Father closed his eyes against the image while Vincent sighed. “I ran to her but ...”


Father looked up and reached forward to pat Vincent’s arm as he interrupted him. “But there was nothing you could have done ... Vincent ... even if you tried to get her Below there would have been nothing I could have done for her ...”

 

“I know.”

 

“It’s late ... why ... um ... don’t you try to read for awhile, try to forget what you saw...”

 

“I will never forget it, Father!”

 

“No, but you need to rest.”

 

“Yes, I ... stopped and told Catherine what I saw ... I had hoped if her office investigated the murder she could use some of the information I gave her to track down these boys.”

 

Father stood and put his arm around his son. “Then you have done your part to see that justice is served. Think about that tonight when you try to sleep ...”

 

Vincent stood and nodded. “Goodnight, Father.”

 

“Goodnight, Vincent.”

 

 

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

 

 

The next morning, Catherine was standing in front of her mirror drying her hair and thinking about the murder that Vincent had witnessed. She mentally compared the cases, and the only link between all of them was that all of the girls had been prostitutes.

 

She thought about when she was trying to find information on Lena and she decided to take a chance and visit Maurice again in hopes that she could buy some information. She finished her hair, got dressed, and grabbed her purse on the way out the door.

 

After stopping at the bank to withdraw money, she walked into the office to overhear Greg Hughes and Joe talking about the recent murder.

 

She almost blew her cover when she acknowledged the murder and Joe asked how she knew about it already. She lied automatically and said she heard it on the radio.


Joe believed her excuse but Catherine asked if she could work on a hunch she had regarding the case.

 

Later that night, she went to see Maurice. She walked cautiously up the same steps to the penthouse and slowly opened the door and walked inside.

 

“Maurice?”

 

“What?” he said as he came out of an adjoining room.

 

“You still in the information business, Maurice?”

 

“For the right price, I’ll be doing whatever kind of business you need.”

 

“A prostitute was killed in the park last night, her name was Tracy. I need to find someone who knew her, anyone.”

 

“I thought the police didn’t know her name …”

 

“Her name was Tracy.”

 

“That’s right.”

 

“You knew her.”

 

“I never had that particular pleasure.”

 

“Can you help me?”

 

“Can you help me??” Catherine flashed her money and Maurice stepped forward. “Then we can help each other.”

 

Catherine started to count out the money. “All right … do you know who she answers to or not?”

 

Maurice shot her a name. “You never answered my question on how you knew the girls name was Tracy.”

 

Catherine shrugged indifferently. “You’re not my only source.”

 

Maurice smiled. “But my information is worth more ...”

 

“Yeah … well … we’ll see about that … I just want to catch these punks before they kill another girl.”

 

Maurice looked at her curiously. “You really care, don’t you?”

 

“Those young girl’s lives are worth more than what these animals have done to them.”

 

As she turned to go, Maurice sighed. “Wait … there’s more …”

 

Catherine’s eyes rose in surprise. “What else have you got?”

 

“BMW ... red convertible ... black stripe down the side ... two spoiled rich kids playing on the streets with their daddy’s money ...”

 

Catherine knew the information was true since it compared to what Vincent had said. “You got names?”

 

“One’s dark haired, Cameron, the other’s blonde, my source think his name is Dale. They’ve got four girls already ... two of them belonged to Vernon, the other two freelanced.”

 

“Where can I find Vernon?”

 

“Chinese establishment on 8th and Elm next to the pharmacy. Tell him I sent you.”

 

Catherine took out an extra $50 and handed it to him. “Thanks.”

 

“It’s always a pleasure doing business with you ...”

 

“I bet ...” Catherine smiled as she turned and walked from the building.

 

 

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

 

 

Meanwhile in the better part of town, Cameron and Dale were planning another night out.

 

Dale shook his head. “No, it’s too soon!”

 

Cameron disagreed as he handed his friend a bottle of rum. “I feeeeellll it! I’m happy again and it’s boiling in my blood! We’ll go to a different area this time.”

 

“Whatever,” Dale said indifferently as he took a huge swig from the bottle.

 

A few short hours later, the two friends picked up a young girl and took her for a joy ride in their car. Cameron drove into a deserted parking garage. Dale held the girl once again while Cameron came up behind her and slashed her throat and then as before, they hopped nonchalantly back in their car and took off.

 

 

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

 

 

The next morning, Joe told Catherine about their fifth victim.

 

“One of her friends identified her this morning. Her name is Rhonda ... she’s from Chicago. That’s all I know, I’ll have Escobar search for more when she gets in.”

 

“Where was this one found, Joe?”

 

“Parking garage ... it was empty.”

 

 “Maybe they have cameras ...”

 

“They weren’t working ... neither was the front ticket booth.”

 

“Great!” Catherine said with a frown as she turned and walked to her desk.

 

That night, she went to see Vernon, who told her everything he knew. He agreed to sign a statement if she could keep him out of the court system.

 

She told Joe she had found a witness to the killing in the park but that he wouldn’t come forward. She had Rita run traces on all the red BMWs in the area. She was surprised to see how many people had them but she scanned down the list and there was only one owned by someone named Cameron. She pushed Joe to get soil samples from the park where Tracy was killed and compare them to the tire tread of the car owned by Cameron Benson.

 

Joe got a search warrant issued and they went with the police to search the home Cameron lived in.

 

Bill and Gayle Benson were having an after dinner drink when the doorbell rang on their front door.

 

“Bill, Maria’s gone for the night,” Gayle said referring to the housekeeper. “You’ll have to answer that.”

 

Bill opened the door to find Joe in front of the line with his ID out. “Mr. Benson. I’m Joe Maxwell with the District Attorney’s office. We have a warrant to search your premises and vehicles for any evidence that may aid us in an investigation we’re conducting.”

 

“What?! Gayle ... get in here! I’m calling my lawyer!”

 

The police did a thorough sweep of the house and found a huge knife in Cameron’s room. They arrested both him and Dale after they found an additional knife belonging to Dale in Cameron’s glove box in the BMW parked in the garage.


At the police station, Catherine called a helper and asked that he get the message ... “They’ve been caught” delivered to Vincent.

 

The helper promised it would be sent immediately, and Mouse delivered it to Vincent a short time later.

 

Bill Benson and his lawyer came down to the police station. As Catherine was hanging up the phone, she looked at the woman with surprise. It was the attorney she just went head to head with in the child abuse trial of Richard Nolan.

 

“Ms. Sheets.”

 

Virginia looked at her arrogantly. “Miss Chandler ... we meet again.”

 

“Yes, are you defending Mr. Benson?”

 

“My office is. I won’t actually be the one defending Cameron.”

 

Catherine shook her head disgustedly. “And you wonder why I wasn’t interested in a job with your firm ... first a child abuser and now a murderer?”

 

Virginia raised her brows in surprise. “The evidence you have is at best circumstantial. My colleague will be able to easily prove that in court. You won’t win this time ...”

 

Bill Benson walked up behind her. “She certainly won’t!”


Joe had remained silent through this exchange but when Benson walked up he knew it was going to become heated. “Let’s go, Cathy.”

 

Catherine ignored him as she looked at Bill. “Mr. Benson, the evidence we have against your son will prove that he was involved with the murder of five young girls ... doesn’t the thought of that sicken you?”

 

Bill looked at her arrogantly. “My son did none of the things he’s being accused of. He and Dale are fine young boys with promising futures.”

 

“Let’s see how much they can accomplish from a jail cell,” Catherine said sarcastically as she turned away.

 

“Not all children grow up to disgrace their families, Miss ... Chandler!”

Catherine turned around and looked at him quizzically as he continued. “I’ve heard about you. You were destined to be a major player in your father’s firm. Charles was a respectable lawyer ... he was much admired in his field of work. What a disappointment it must have been to have his daughter thumb her nose at his job and go into a career anyone from a community college could have done ... a job that was quite obviously beneath her.”

 

He had looked at Joe, sized him up, and then looked disapprovingly back at Catherine. She searched her mind for anything from the past she may have heard about a Bill Benson. “I’ll admit I’m at a disadvantage, Mr. Benson. I hadn’t realized you knew my father. The only time I ever heard him mention the Benson name was when he had to sue the financial firm of Hanson and Jones because of his client’s mismanaged assets. He said that the Benson that was accused of the accounting errors was a pompous jerk who couldn’t handle the funds of a girl scout cookie sale let alone the assets of a major company. But that couldn’t have possibly have been you ...”

 

Everyone knew by Bill’s face that he had in fact been the one Charles referred to. Catherine turned in disgust. “Have a good day.”

 

Joe followed behind her and when they got to the safety of the elevator turned to her with surprise. “Wow, Cathy ... I didn’t know you had it in you!”

 

“Damn it!” she spat as she wiped a tear from her cheek.

 

Joe could tell she was embarrassed by her emotional outburst. “What? You were great!”

 

“I can’t believe he got to me. I can’t believe I lowered myself to his level. Normally I’m able to control my temper but people like him make me sick! They sit on their mighty thrones acting like they’re so much better than everyone else using their wealth and education as weapons against the less fortunate!”

 

Joe frowned thoughtfully. “You’ve had a lot of experience dealing with people like that?”

 

“Joe, it’s no secret that I have money but I was taught at an earlier age to be thankful for it ... to use it for good! These kids are going to pay for this crime if I have to use my own damn money to do it!”

 

Joe nodded as the doors opened. “I hope you’re right.”

 

 

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

 

In court the next day, Catherine was forced to use Vernon as a witness. The defense went after his strength of character and the case was easily dismissed.

 

Back at the office, she railed about the injustice of it until Joe and Moreno blasted her for lack of evidence. Catherine told Moreno her real witness got away but Joe knew her too well and could see she was lying.

 

She stormed back to her desk and was surprised to see Jenny walking up. “Hey, Jen. What are you doing here?”

 

Jenny made a face as she looked at her best friend. “Hi, Cathy…we had a lunch date but I’m guessing from the look on your face that it’s being cancelled.”

 

Joe walked up behind Jenny and put his arm gently on her back. “Hey, Jenny.” He looked at Catherine. “Go to lunch ... relax a little bit ... this can all wait ...”

 

Catherine’s eyes flashed angrily at him as she bent over and grabbed her purse. “Really, Joe? Can it?! These idiots are getting away with murder! They’re so proud of it they’re not even waiting anymore! Are you prepared to deal with another dead hooker tonight?” she spat as she walked towards the elevators.

 

“Where are you going?” Joe asked worriedly.

 

“To find someone that can help me prosecute these guys. I’m sorry Jen, I will not let this turn into another Jonathon Porter case!”

 

Catherine stormed onto the elevator, then gave Jenny an apologetic glance.

 

Jenny nodded understandingly. “Go!”   

 

Joe looked thoroughly confused. “Who the hell is Jonathon Porter?”

 

Jenny frowned as she turned to him. “That was for me ... a sort of explanation.”

 

“Care to share that with me? Right now I think she’s off her rocker ...” The sandwich man walked up and Joe pointed at his tray. “It’s not fancy but I’ll buy you lunch ...”

 

Jenny nodded and smiled. “I’ll go and get us some Cokes from the machine.”

 

Jenny met Joe in his office and the two sat on the couch together as they ate.

 

“So tell me who Jonathon Porter is ...”

 

Jenny sighed. “It was our freshmen year in high school. Tim Kirby asked Cathy to go with him to the prom and she accepted but her father told her she couldn’t go alone if she wanted to go she had to go with another couple. She didn’t want to go with any of Tim’s friends so she told him that I had to go with her. Tim set me up with Jonathon Porter. Jonathon was Tim’s friend and had just been dumped by his girlfriend because he cheated on her.”

 

“Good guy...”

 

Jenny laughed. “Wait ... this get even better. We went to the prom and Cathy and Tim were having a great time until Catherine noticed Jonathon was dancing with his ex girlfriend and I was standing alone by the food table. When I noticed her looking at me, I started to cry and ran into the bathroom.”

 

“Oh, no!”

 

“Cathy left Tim on the dance floor and followed me. I told her Jonathon said he had only come for the sole purpose of seeing his ex. After I was done crying about it, we left the safety of the bathroom. By then, Tim had grabbed Jonathon and they were waiting outside the door for us. I thought Cathy was going to slap Jonathon ... I’ve never seen her so angry. He told her she was being unrealistic if she thought she could take one of her scholarship friends from the wrong side of the tracks, dress them up in discounted dresses from off the rack at a bridal shop and try to pass them off as worthy dates. He told Tim he thought they were friends and that he’d had never been so insulted in his life. He said that next time Tim wanted to go slumming to count him out.”

 

“Oh, God!” Joe said quietly. “I can only imagine what came next ...”

 

“Yep! Cathy exploded! She called him a pompous ass and told him that my father made a respectable paycheck working in the mills. She said his money came from his daddy playing dirty politics and working crooked real estate deals. Jonathon at least had the sense to look embarrassed but Cathy wasn’t done yet. She said that my off the rack discounted dress was actually made for me by one of the top designers in the city and that I would be sending him the bill for reimbursement because he ruined the evening.”

 

Joe leaned forward clearly intrigued. “And did she?”

 

“Oh, yeah! The dress I was wearing was actually Cathy’s from a cotillion dance she attended the month before. Her maid did some minor alterations with some ribbon but Cathy found the original bill and made a copy of it and the bill from her own dress. The next day she took some of her father’s letterhead and typed a clearly itemized bill with an official sounding letter. She told Jonathon that we were suing him for all the expenses incurred from not only myself but her and Tim as well. It came to over $4,000 between the dresses and the limo ... it was really funny until …”

 

Joe laughed heartily. “Let me guess ... her father found out, didn’t he?”

 

“Of course! Jonathon’s father called him and told him what the letter said Charles assured him that his office had not sent the letter but that he was sure they could clear up this misunderstanding. Mr. Porter went on to tell him that he warned his son repeatedly about going out with the wrong type of girl. He said he would waive a suit for defamation of character if these outrageous charges were dropped. Cathy’s dad showed a tremendous amount of restraint and agreed. Needless to say he came home from the office early that night and called me over to their house...”

 

“Uh, oh! Cathy’s dad let her have it, didn’t he?”

 

Jenny laughed aloud. “Are you kidding me?! Cathy had him wrapped around her finger. He sat us down and told us that we shouldn’t have used his company letterhead without his permission. He went on to say that although the letter sounded good to us, when we went to college we would learn how to word things differently to gain better results. He offered to reimburse me for the dress and Cathy had to admit to him that I wasn’t actually out any money because I borrowed one of hers. She said she didn’t see why that should matter. She was sick of the way some of the rich kids treated others at the school. He had hurt my feelings with his cruelty and he should have to pay for that. Her dad gave us the whole speech of what goes around comes around ...”

 

“So Jonathon walked away?”

 

“Jonathon walked away ... and it’s bugged her ever since.”

 

“Whatever happened to him?”

 

“He went slumming again ... got the next girl pregnant. His dad made him marry her, then cut him off from the family money.”

 

“And poor Tim?”

 

“Cathy dated him for the summer, then he went away to Europe for school.”

 

Joe lowered his head, clearly understanding why Catherine was so adamant about catching these boys and making them pay. “I’ll see that she doesn’t mix up the past with the present ...”

 

Jenny stood up and smiled. “Well, at least I got lunch out of it. Thanks, Joe.”

 

“You too, Jenny. Have a good day.”

 

Jenny left and Joe got back to work.

 

 

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

 

 

Later that night, Catherine was going to see Vincent, when he met her half way at the culvert entrance.

 

“I had court today! I lost! The boys walked away.”

 

“How can that be?”

 

“The defense went after the integrity of my witness!” Catherine raised her arms by her side in disgust. “I mean ... let’s face it! My chief witness was a pimp! His prison record was hardly stellar reading material!”

 

“But the tire prints from the scene ...”

 

“Vincent, there are 23 red BMW’s in New York City that fit our description and those tires are all of the racing type ... they fit on other models as well ... it was a long shot ... I knew that but...”

 

“But you had hoped that justice would be served ...”

 

“It’s not just that!” She said as she paced the culvert. “You should have seen the smirks of contempt on their faces! They made a game of killing those girls and they acted like they owned all of this! Just flaunting their privileges ... I’m glad you didn’t see it ... it was disgusting!”

 

“I did see it! In the park ... that night ...”

 

“They knew they were protected by their families ... that they could do anything ... even kill and laugh about it ...”

 

Vincent was disgusted but he could hear the weariness in her voice and turned to her. “You’re tired ... you should try to get some rest.”

 

Catherine sighed; she knew he was trying to get it off her mind. “I can’t just forget it. It happens, you know? You see enough outrages like today, enough dead kids with no names and you start to forget them. I can’t let that happen!”

 

“You never will.”

 

“I’m not so sure ...”

 

“Passion is something that cannot be forgotten ... it’s got a life of its own.”

 

“But it can die, Vincent.”

 

“Once you have it, it lives within you.” He put his hand on her shoulder comfortingly. “But to live by it requires all your strength.”

 

“And someone to remind you.” She looked up at him wearily. “I am tired.”

 

Vincent pulled her forward and hugged her to his chest, then lowered his head by her ear. “Let me walk you home ...”

 

“It’s too far ...” Catherine grumbled childishly.


Vincent smiled into her hair. “The guest chamber is just as far ...”

 

Catherine leaned further against him for support. “Let’s just stay here then ...”

 

“Here?!” Vincent said as he looked around.

 

“I just want to be with you ... I don’t care where it is ... can’t we just ... sit down over there ...”

 

Catherine pointed to a spot and Vincent led her over and sat on the ground then spread his cloak out next to him so she could sit down on top it. He put his arm around her as she cuddled up next to him and laid her head against his chest. He gently ran his hand up and down her back as she closed her eyes and started to relax.

 

“You’re taking this personally, Catherine.”

 

“Maybe …”

 

Vincent knew it was more than that. “You’ve known people like these boys in the past, haven’t you?”

 

“Too many people.” Catherine sighed. “My whole life I’ve been with the ‘elite’ of society. Some of them are wonderful people who have clawed their way up to the top and made a name for themselves. Others are like my parents, children born into wealth but who were nurtured to have a kind and loving spirit.

 

“Like you ...”

 

“Thank you,” Catherine smiled and lifted her head then kissed his chest then sighed. “But there are also those that hold themselves above everyone else. They look down on any one who isn’t like them and they pass those beliefs and ugliness on to their children. Those two boys were raised with money and opportunities beyond belief and all they can do is self destruct. They never do it alone. They always take others down with them. Innocent people like those girls.”

 

“Those girls were not innocent, Catherine. They play a very dangerous game every time they go out at night.”

 

“They’re poor kids fighting for their lives, doing anything they can to survive.”

 

“It’s the only way they know to survive.”

 

“Vincent, I was left an exorbitant amount of money when my father died. It’s just sitting in the bank gaining interest and I want to use it ... I want to help those girls find a way out but I don’t know how...”

 

“Perhaps you could talk to someone who’s been in that situation.”

 

Catherine tilted her head and looked up at him. “Are you thinking about Lena?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Do you think she would talk about it?”

 

“Her time Below has done much to heal her wounds. Little Cathy has done wonders for her and she and Olivia have become inseparable. I think with her new life going so well for her, she’s strong enough to face the demons of her past.”

 

“I’ll have to speak to her then.”

 

Vincent cuddled her close and caressed her hair lovingly. “Yes, but not tonight. Tonight, you need to rest.”

 

With a new purpose to strive for, Catherine felt a wave of peacefulness come over her and her eyes closed heavily. “Tonight, I rest.” Catherine was so comfortable and felt so safe in his arms that she soon felt herself nodding off to sleep. “I love you, Vincent,” she whispered quietly.

 

She was sound asleep as he turned his head and kissed her hair and whispered. “I love you too, Catherine.”

 

He felt himself nodding off but was awakened when he heard a footfall near him. He looked up to see Mouse looking quizzically at him. He held his finger up to his mouth to silence Mouse before he could speak. Mouse saw that all was well with them and nodded his understanding before he left.

 

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


Mouse went to the library to turn his report in to Father.

 

Father looked up as he came in. “Mouse, how do the reports look? No intruders?”

 

“No, checked report from Matthew. Found Vincent and Catherine sleeping.”

 

Father looked up and blinked in surprise. “I’m sorry, Mouse I was reading, did you say sleeping?”

 

“Uh huh...”

 

“Where?”

 

“On floor ... culvert entrance ...”

 

“They were sitting on the floor at the culvert entrance ... sleeping?”

 

“Catherine sleeping ... not wake up ... Vincent ... eyes closed but awake.”

 

Father shook his head at the unusual places the couple found to spend time together. “I’m sure Catherine has to work in the morning. Make sure someone tells Vincent what time it is in a few more hours.”

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


Catherine slowly opened her eyes three hours later. She looked up at Vincent and noticed his eyes closed and she reached up and gently ran a finger down his cheek. Vincent took her hand into his and looked down at her.

 

“I’m sorry, Vincent. I didn’t mean to make you sit here this whole time. You should have awakened me.”

 

He looked down shyly. “I enjoyed spending this time with you ...”

 

“I slept the whole time! We never even got to talk ...”

 

“No, but the turmoil within you was finally at peace and the bond was quiet.”

 

“It’s bad enough I have to go through all if it. I’m sorry you have the burden of feeling it too.”

 

“To feel you inside of me is no burden, Catherine.”

 

Catherine almost said she wished she could feel him inside of her but she realized how scandalous it sounded and stopped herself. “I should get home.”

 

Vincent got to his feet and helped her up. He took her hand and led her home. He stood behind her as she climbed up the ladder. Three rungs up, she turned around and kissed him.

 

“Goodnight.”

 

“Be well, Catherine.”

 

 

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

 

Instead of heading back Below, Vincent walked the dark alleys and streets of the roughest part of town. He found the car the boys were driving and he followed them into a back alley. As Cameron was about to kill yet another prostitute, Vincent stepped out from the shadows to stop them.

 

The girl knew immediately that something was very wrong and ran in the opposite direction.

 

Vincent kept to the shadows as he stepped forward. “I know who you are. I know what you’ve done. I know where you live and I warn you ... this will stop.”

 

Afraid, the boys hopped in their car and took off.

 

 

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

 

 

The next day, Catherine sat down at work and looked at her calendar. She realized she had forgotten about an event she was supposed to attend tonight.

 

“Damn it!” she muttered.

 

“Break a nail, Radcliffe?”

 

Catherine rolled her eyes as she looked up at Joe. “No.”

 

Joe handed her three new files. “Good ... I brought you these just so you wouldn’t get bored.”

 

“Joe, what about the Benson/Mercer case?”

 

“What about it?”

 

“I’d planned on doing some more leg work today...”

 

Joe put his hands on his hips. “No way. If you got new leads, fine, but the case against those kids is over with. You keep pursuing it and both of our butts are on the line ...”

 

“So the option is to let them get away with murder?” she asked angrily.

 

Joe threw his hands up in the air. “Unless your secret witness is finally ready to come forward then you need to drop it! Its slander and defamation of character and you know it! Until you have more solid proof of their involvement, stop harassing these kids!”

 

“Fine!” Catherine frowned. Joe started to walk away and she called out to him. “I’m leaving early today.”

 

Joe asked dispassionately. “Did you forget Moreno wanted to talk with us later?” 

 

“One of the last cases my father was working on settled in court last week. Because of the work he did they were able to win. There’s a celebration party tonight I have to attend. I normally wouldn’t go but it’s a case that my father worked hard for and I feel I need to represent him there.”

 

Joe knew about family commitment and nodded understandingly. “I’ll tell Moreno, he can talk to us tomorrow.”

 

“Thanks, Joe.”

 

Catherine attended the event that night and was surprised when Cameron and Dale approached her at the party. She angrily asked what they were doing there and they arrogantly told her that they belonged there, that these people were their friends and peers.

 

She walked away from them and went to another part of the room where they followed her and pretended to make polite conversation. She stormed away from them and went over see to the host and hostess, where she easily hid her anger.

 

“Art, Rita ...”

 

“Cathy! I am so glad you were able to attend. We couldn’t have had this without your father!” Art motioned out over the room. “I wish he were here to help us celebrate our victory.”

 

Catherine smiled kindly. “Me too, but I think he’s here with is in spirit.”

 

“I think so too,” Rita agreed.


“I’m so sorry but I think I’m going to leave early. I’ve had a pounding headache all day but I wanted to come to represent my father.”


Rita took her hands and squeezed them lightly. “You go home, dear and rest. I’ve heard how hard you work for the office you’re at ... Your father told us you could’ve made your mark in corporate law but you chose to fight for the people instead. So admirable of you, no wonder he was so proud of you.”

 

Catherine had tears in her eyes as she smiled. “That’s wonderful to hear. Please, enjoy the rest of your party.”

 

She turned and started up the escalator and as she looked up she saw Cameron and Dale blocking her exit.

 

Her anger boiled to the surface and she told them things she knew about the night they killed Tracy. She wanted them to realize it was only a matter of time before they were caught.

 

She saw Dale’s face change. He looked scared and worried but Cameron continued to look at her innocently and Catherine turned in disgust and left.

 

 

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

 

Cameron was wound up after they left the party and insisted Dale and he go out to burn off some of their pent up energy. They walked the streets looking for their next victim but every time they turned around Vincent was standing in the shadows watching them.

 

They finally gave up and hopped in the car.

 

“Damn it! Who the hell is that guy?” Dale wondered aloud.

 

“I don’t know ...”

 

“He’s everywhere we go ... he’s following us!”

 

Cameron’s face contorted with anger. “I bet that bitch hired him! She’s going to pay for ruining my fun tonight ...”

 

“Tonight?! The whole summer you mean!”

 

“Maybe I should go to the old man ... you know ... 'Daddy, that mean lady is still harassing me ... please make her stop'...” he sang out innocently.

 

“Go ahead! He’ll do it! Tie her up in court with legal issues!”

 

“Yeah but first, she needs to learn that her superior attitude will not be tolerated!”

 

“What are you going to do?”

 

“Maybe her boss needs to know about her little escapades ... it would help our case if he fired her ...”

 

Dale laughed heartily. “I like the way you think.”

 

Cameron pulled up in front of Dale’s house. “I’ll be here at 8:00 ... we’re heading to her office.”

 

“I’ll be ready!”

 

 

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

 

 

The next day, Catherine walked into her office to find the boys going through her things. She threatened them, she and Cameron started shouting at one another. Joe heard the noise and came out from his office, then ran forward when Cameron started pushing Catherine around.

 

Joe stepped between them and listened as the boys told him she was having them followed. Catherine had a suspicion that Vincent was the one they were speaking about. Joe made the boys leave and then called her into his office.

 

“Did you really cancel the police surveillance?”

 

“I told you I did!”

 

“You’re not using your own money to do this are you?”

 

“Joe, I had no idea those kids were being followed!” She answered truthfully.

 

Joe made a face. “Someone’s got them scared.”

 

Catherine blew out a long breath as she thought quickly. “One of the pimps, maybe ... a boyfriend?”

 

“Your guess is as good as mine.”

 

“I need to go and interview someone ...”

 

“Who?” Joe asked suspiciously.

 

Vernon, maybe he has an answer,” she lied.

 

“You want me to go with?”

 

“To a restaurant in broad daylight? I can handle it, Joe.”

 

“Go ... let me know what you get. I’ll cover for you.”

 

Catherine left the office and headed Below.

 

 

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

 

 

She quickly tapped out a message then paced the floor as she waited for Vincent to come to her.

 

“Catherine?”

 

“I have to ask you something ...”

 

“What is it?”

 

“Cameron and Dale came to my office today.”

 

He was startled as he looked at her. “Why?”

 

“I ran into them at that party last night. I guess they wanted to finish the harassment they started.”

 

Vincent’s eyes turned cold. “Are they following you?”

 

“No, just the opposite. They accused me of hiring a thug to follow them.”

 

Vincent rolled his eyes and walked over to lean against the wall. “A thug? Is that what they call someone who stops them from killing?!”

 

“So it was you?”

 

“Yes...”

 

“Why would you take a chance on getting caught?”

 

“They needed to know they’re being watched.”

 

“You can’t do this!”

 

“They must be stopped!”

 

“Not this way!”

 

Vincent was steadily growing angrier. “Then how?! How?!” he shouted. “Last night I stopped them from killing again!”

 

“They will be caught, Vincent. Trust me! They will be caught!”

 

“Before they kill again?! They were caught and they were set free!”

 

“You can’t endanger yourself because of it! It’s wrong!”

 

Unknown to both of them, Mouse had walked up to see Vincent then slinked back into the shadows when he heard their raised voices.

 

“With my own eyes I saw them kill ... a defenseless woman ... how can I pretend, merely because I cannot walk into your court, that what I saw did not happen?!”

 

Catherine felt like she was fighting a losing battle. “I know it seems unjust ... it is unjust! But you have to let me ... you have to let my world deal with it!”

 

“They come into my world. They come into the back streets and the alleys looking to play in the darkness. I know the darkness ... I am its friend and I know it’s not to be played with. When they come to my world, Catherine, I will be there. When they come looking for the darkness, they will find me!”

 

“No,Vincent! Your world is not the darkness. You only go there when you need to. You don’t belong there!”

 

“Part of me does! The part that protects you and the ones I love threatens to overtake me ... he is the one that lives in that darkness, feeds in that darkness.”

 

“But he kills only for protection ... when the evil threatens those he loves.”

 

“He can kill at anytime ... without thought ... without provocation ... there are times when the fight to control him is almost too much for me to bear.”

 

Catherine walked over and took his hands. “Then that is the part that we must work against. He has no place in our world.”

 

Vincent sighed as he nodded. She moved against him and placed her head on his chest. His arms came around her instantly and they swayed together as they embraced.

 

“I have to get back to work.”

 

Vincent released her slowly. “I know.”

 

“Will I see you tonight?” Vincent hesitated and Catherine looked at him curiously. “Vincent?”

 

“Yes, I’ll ... stop by.”

 

Catherine was hurt that he seemed to think about it. “If you have other plans ...”

 

Vincent shook his head as he felt her disappointment. “No, I could want for nothing more than to spend time with you.”

 

They hugged again and Catherine left to go back to work.

 

 

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

 

Mouse walked into the library and showed his plans to Father.

 

“See ... dig trench ... water runs down over rock ... clean for William to use.”

 

Father looked at the plans. “The rocks will serve as a natural filter ... brilliant Mouse! Where is Vincent? I wanted him to see this! Couldn’t you find him?”

 

“Mouse found. Can’t hide from Mouse.”

 

Father looked at him quizzically. “Well, where is he?”

 

“With Catherine.”

 

“She never visits in the middle of a work day unless it’s bad news ...” Father grumbled.

 

Mouse shook his head. “Not visit ... argue.”

 

Father looked at him in surprise. “They were arguing? Are you sure?”

 

“Yes. Catherine mad ... shout ... Vincent mad ... shout louder.”

 

“I thought I was the only one he shouts at. What were they arguing about?”

 

“Not listen ... leave ... like you said.”


Father smiled as he realized how many times he had told Mouse not to eavesdrop. “You’re 100 percent right Mouse. I always say it’s impolite to listen to other people’s conversations. Leave these plans here and when I see Vincent I’ll show them to him.”

 

Mouse nodded and left the room and ran into Vincent in the tunnel way.

 

“Vincent?”

 

“Yes, Mouse?”

 

“See Father ... look at Mouse’s plans ... dig trench.”

 

“The one for William?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“I’ll  look at them right now,” Vincent tapped his friend’s shoulder and smiled. “I’m sure they’re good, Mouse.”

 

Meanwhile, Father poured over the plans and could see no reason Mouse’s plan wouldn’t work. He was happy that William would have clean water available to him at all times. He wished that Vincent would take a look and offer his opinion so they could start the work immediately.

 

Vincent walked in to find Father with his head down. “Are those Mouse’s plans?”

 

Father looked up. “Yes ... I think they’re actually going to work.”

 

Vincent stood over Father’s shoulder and scanned the plans. They looked good, and he carefully ran his finger over the entire course, then nodded. “I think they’ll work as well.”

 

“Yes ... Mouse saw a few potential problems and made the changes to accommodate them ... he’s getting to be quite good.”

 

“He is ...”

 

Father lowered his head as he noticed his son’s somber mood. “Is everything all right?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Mouse said that he went to look for you earlier. He saw you with Catherine and didn’t want to disturb you ...”

Vincent was surprised at the news. He knew Mouse would have interrupted them, unless he was afraid for some reason, and he frowned as Father quickly disclosed that reason. “He ... um...said you were fighting.”

 

Vincent lowered his head. “We were having … a heated discussion.”

 

Father cocked his head curiously. “I trust everything is resolved now?”


Vincent looked at him guiltily. “I’m working on it.”


“Oh?”

 

Vincent knew Father would be unhappy at the news and sighed as he anticipated the coming argument. “I’ve been following the boys who murdered that girl in the park. I have prevented them from murdering time and time again.”

 

Father frowned. “They’ve seen you?”

 

“No, I ... stand in the shadows but they know I’m there, watching them.”

 

“What does Catherine say about this?”

 

“She wants me to stop. She’s worried I’ll be caught. She’s insisting I let her world deal with the punishment of those boys.”

 

“She’s a smart girl ... I feel the same way!”

 

“What a surprise …” Vincent grumbled wryly. “You and she are both willing to let more girls die to try to get these boys in custody. How many more have to give their lives before they have enough evidence?!” Father turned away and Vincent angrily slammed his hand on the table. “How many, Father?”

 

“Vincent! Let Catherine and her office handle it!”

 

“I cannot!”

 

Vincent sat down heavily and covered his face with his hand. Father knew there was no chance of getting through to him now so he decided to try again later. He cleared his throat. “So ... how soon can we start Mouse’s plan?”


Vincent looked up, grateful for the change in subject. “Next week ...”

 

“I’ll make sure we have the necessary supplies ...”


“Good ... I’m going to speak to Lena. Catherine would like to speak to her about starting a home ... a place where these girls can go to get off the streets.”

 

“She’s a good woman, Vincent.”

 

“Yes, Father I know.”

 

That night, Vincent broke his promise to Catherine. He walked the streets instead and once again showed himself to the boys, effectively stopping them from killing yet another girl.

 

Fed up that their “adventures” were being stifled, they paid a hooker to call Catherine with a bogus tip on Tracy’s murder. The woman asked if they could meet at an abandoned theater at 33rd and 9th.

 

Catherine walked warily in front of the building until she heard the boys call out that they’d seen her. She knew she had been set up and broke into the building. Thinking quickly, she shattered some glass to use as a weapon before she hid inside the theater.

 

The boys searched the building and Dale found her hiding on the floor between the seats. Catherine leapt to her feet but Dale grabbed her. She slashed out with the glass effectively cutting his arm.

 

Dale almost let her go until Cameron shot his gun into the seats just in front of where they were standing.

 

Catherine looked up fearfully as she stared down the barrel of his gun.  

 

Suddenly, Vincent’s roar could be heard echoing through the empty theater as he jumped from the upper balcony. Catherine looked up in horror, afraid that from that height he would break his legs when he landed. Instead, Vincent stealthily landed in front of her. Dale was so surprised he released Catherine which gave Vincent the opportunity to pick him up and toss him through the air. Catherine glanced briefly at the boy after he landed. His head was at such an angle that she knew he must have hit it against a chair on his way down and was now dead.


Vincent turned on Cameron and advanced towards him. He didn’t think the boy would actually shoot him but Cameron pointed his gun fearlessly and shot him in the upper chest. Vincent’s body jerked from the impact of the bullet but he brushed it off and ran towards Cameron. In three strides, he was on top of the boy and with one mighty blow had killed him.  

 

Catherine ran to Vincent’s side and grabbed his bloody hands. “We’ve got to get out of here!”


Vincent looked down at her then turned and quickly walked away. Catherine was in shock as she turned around and looked again at the two boys. Vincent had abruptly left her behind and she jogged after him to catch up.

 

“Vincent ... Vincent?!”

 

He stopped and fell against the wall, holding onto it for support as his mind tried to come to terms with the murders he just committed.

 

Catherine came up behind him and held him tenderly. “Are you all right?”

 

Vincent turned around and she could see his pain. “Nothing but madness! Nothing but blood! When will it stop?”

 

Catherine gasped in despair but knew she needed to stay focused and help him home. She tried to find the entry hole the bullet made. She moved his cloak and his heavy vest to the side and saw the blood stain on his shirt just below his shoulder. “We’ve got to get you to Father!”

 

“Two blocks north ... then down the alley.” Vincent managed to say.

 

“That’s the closest entrance?!”


“This is a rough part of town, Catherine. Most of the tunnels to this area are sealed off.”

 

Catherine nodded and looked out into the streets. They made their way slowly up the two blocks and only had to hide once when an old drunk came out of one of the buildings.

 

Vincent led Catherine to the entry door and she closed it behind them after they were inside. She saw a set of steps and knew it led to a basement, so she guided them down and Vincent hit a hidden lever on the wall, and a fake panel popped open. Once again, Catherine allowed him to go first and she closed the doors behind them.

 

No one visited this area and the tunnels were unusually dark. Vincent took her hand but was strangely quiet as he led them through the tunnels. He was panting by now and sweat was pouring down his face.

 

“Vincent,” Catherine said as she stopped him by grabbing his arm. “Let me see how bad it is ...”


He grabbed her hand and shook his head. “It’s bad ... I ... need to get home.”

 

“Can’t we call for help? Maybe Mouse and Cullen can come ...”

 

“The nearest pipes are in four more blocks ... we’ll call then.”


Vincent knew he was losing blood at a fast rate. He stumbled a few times until he had to lean against a wall.

 

“Is it much further?” Catherine wondered.

 

“Go a block ... then the tunnel splits ... take the one to the left ... about another block further there is a pipe line on the right ...”


Catherine took off jogging into the dark. She kept her hands in front of her as she ran, afraid she would hit a wall but more afraid of leaving Vincent alone for a long period of time. She found the pipe and quickly tapped out a message. Within a minute, someone tapped back and she thought it said help was on its way.

 

She turned around and was relieved to see Vincent coming up behind her.


“I think it said help was coming ...”

 

“Rock?” he gasped.

 

Catherine bent over and handed him the one she used. Vincent tapped frantically and then listened to the answer and tapped another one before he dropped the rock to the ground and leaned against the wall.

 

“I need help ... someone’s on their way ...”

 

“Can you still walk?”

 

“I can try, Catherine.”

 

Catherine went to his side and lifted his arm over her shoulders and tried to support him as they walked. They came to tunnels that had more light and Catherine was now able to see much better.

 

She looked at his shoulder and gasped. Blood covered the whole half of his shirt front.  “We’ve got to get pressure on that! Now!”

 

Vincent was getting light headed and leaned against the wall. He looked at her as she whipped off her coat and dropped it to the ground then flung her blouse over her head. She stood in a camisole cotton t-shirt and was quickly shedding that when he looked away.

 

“Catherine!”

 

She held the shirt between her knees as she quickly put back on her other shirt and coat. She ripped a long strip from the bottom of the shirt then stepped forward with the rest of it wadded in her hands. She undid the top three buttons of his shirt and pushed her shirt under it and held it firmly to the wound before she buttoned his shirt back up and tightened his vest. She was satisfied that the shirt was being held firmly in place. Vincent’s head was back and his eyes were closed as she deftly wrapped her own badly cut hand with the strip she’d ripped off.  She prompted him to start walking again as she held her hand firmly to his chest. She quietly hoped all of this was enough to stop the blood flow.

 

In another two blocks, Cullen, Mouse, Matthew, Patrick, John and Kevin came running up with a stretcher.

 

Vincent tried to protest but Matthew grabbed his arm. “Vincent, if it was one of us you would insist. I’m guessing you’ve lost a lot of blood ... let us get you to Father!”

 

Patrick nodded. “Get on, Vincent.”

 

Vincent’s head fell forward as he gave in. He lay down on the stretcher as the six men each took a handle and started to walk. Catherine walked along next to him and held pressure to the wound. Vincent’s head began to feel fuzzy and in a matter of seconds it fell to the side and he was unconscious.

 

Catherine followed behind them until she was in familiar tunnels, then she sprinted ahead to the hospital chamber to tell Father Vincent’s condition.

 

“Father!”

 

Father came around the curtain dressed for surgery. “Catherine, where is he?”

 

Catherine gasped for breath. “I ran ahead. They’re probably about six blocks away.”

 

“He was shot?”

 

“Yes!”

 

“Where?”

 

“In the chest...just below the shoulder.” Catherine showed him on herself.

 

“A handgun?”

 

“Yes!”

 

“Close range?”

 

“I don’t know ... it was in a movie theater ... twenty five to thirty feet ... I guess.”

 

“And how are you?”

 

Catherine’s eyes filled with tears. “I’m fine ... he’s lost a lot of blood ... I took off my undershirt and shoved it inside his shirt ... I guess I hoped the extra fabric would put pressure on the wound ... I don’t know if it was the right thing to do or ... if I made it worse.”

 

Peter walked in the room. “Jacob! I just walked in the door when I got your message ...” He looked at Catherine crying. “Cathy, what is it?”

 

“Vincent’s been shot!.”

 

“Oh, dear God. Let me get cleaned up, Jacob.”

 

Peter was drying his hands and Mary was helping him get on his gown when the men came in with the stretcher. They placed Vincent gently down on the table and left the room quickly.

 

Mary rushed to help Father cut away Vincent’s shirt as Peter administered anesthesia.

 

“I thought he couldn’t handle anesthesia?” a weak voice asked.

 

All eyes turned to a forgotten Catherine standing alone in the center of the room.

 

Peter nodded to her to come over. “If you promise to be quiet you can come sit up by his head, Cathy.” Catherine complied and sat in a stool near Vincent. Peter smiled at her and nodded to the IV bag. “It’s a general anesthetic. If we have to dig around for a bullet, he’ll need to be sedated further.”

 

Mary put up a curtain between Vincent’s face and his shoulder, secluding Catherine from viewing the surgery. Peter and Father worked frantically to stop the bleeding and it wasn’t long before Catherine heard the metal ting of a bullet hitting the pan. Father stitched up the wound while Peter prepared and administered an antibiotic shot.

 

Mary was bandaging the wound when Vincent started to wake up. Catherine bent over and lovingly caressed his cheek as the others watched.

 

“Vincent? You’re home now and safe.”

 

Catherine’s voice had cracked with emotion and Father came over and put his arm around her. “Vincent ... Peter and I have removed the bullet and stitched the damaged tissue. You’ll need to stay put for awhile but everything should heal nicely.”

 

Vincent’s eyes opened slowly then closed and once again he was out.

 

Peter had reached for Catherine’s hand to hold it when she cried out in pain.

 

“What is it, honey?”

 

Catherine had tears in her eyes as she held out her hand. “I was cut ...”

 

“Dear God!” Father exclaimed as he looked at the blood soaked cloth wrapped around her hand.

 

“Why on earth didn’t you say something, dear!” Mary asked.

 

“How does this compare to a bullet wound?” Catherine exclaimed.

 

Peter led her to the nearby bed and sat her down, then placed her hand across a table. Father and he unwrapped the bandage while Mary prepared a tray of items she thought they would need.

 

“How’d this happen, Cathy?” Peter asked.

 

“I broke a display case and used a piece of glass as a weapon.”

 

Father grimaced as they took a closer look for shards of glass. Together the two men quickly cleaned the cut. She needed several stitches and when the men were done, Mary bandaged it back up with clean bandages.

 

The six men were called again and carefully carried Vincent back to his chamber to rest in his own bed.

 

Catherine accompanied them and watched as Peter and Father fussed, getting Vincent settled in. They left and Catherine and Vincent were alone.

 

For over and hour, Catherine watched him as he slept. She found comfort that he seemed so at peace.

 

Knowing he would be wondering what happened, Catherine decided to go talk to Father.

 

Father looked up worriedly as she came in. “Is he awake? Is everything all right?”

 

“He’s still sleeping.”

 

“Good ... he’s been through an ordeal. He still isn’t completely recovered from being injured on the docks.”

 

Catherine lowered her head in shame. She knew he was referring to the incident a month ago when Vincent had to save her and Elliot from being killed.

 

Father rubbed his hand over his face wearily. “Should I ask what the two of you were doing at an abandoned theater in that part of town?”

 

We ... were not there I was. I got a call from a woman saying she had information on the prostitute that was killed in the park. She set the meeting place.”

 

“And you went to that neighborhood!” Father stated angrily.

 

“What choice did I have?” Catherine’s eyes flashed angrily.

 

“You could have sent someone else … like say … I don’t know… the police!”

 

“Vincent’s been following those boys around for days. They’d already seen him lurking in the shadows! It was only a matter of time before they saw his face!”

 

“Or caught him.” Father lowered his head as he felt his anger dissipate. “You went because you were trying to protect Vincent.”

 

“He’s been so different lately. Harder, more on edge than I’ve ever seen him.”

 

“Like he’s ready to battle any second.”

 

“Yes, the only time I’ve ever felt that in him is when those men came in the tunnels looking for Henry Pai and Lin.”

 

“You wanted to stop Vincent from having to take care of these boys himself.”

 

 “A lot of good it did ... I had no idea they would set me up.”

 

“What happened?”

 

“They cornered me in the theater ... I thought I could fight my way out of it ...”

 

“Hence the glass ...”

 

“Yes, they’ve only ever killed with knives. I had no idea they had a gun.”

 

“So Vincent felt your fear and joined you there.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“And the boys ... I assume are ...” Father grimaced and looked away.


Catherine nodded. “Vincent jumped down from the upper balcony in front of me. He grabbed the boy that was holding me and threw him off to the side. He must’ve hit his head on a chair and broke his neck.”

 

“And the other?”

 

“Vincent started to walk towards him when the kid aimed his gun and shot Vincent. An instant later, Vincent had ....” Catherine couldn’t say the words.

 

“I understand,” Father interrupted her.

 

“It’s my fault but I swear, Father, I never would have done anything like that if I had known there was danger involved. I honestly thought I was going to interview a woman ...”

 

“Won’t the police have questions about their deaths ...”

 

Catherine nodded. “Yes, I should get back so they think I was home all night...” She began to cry. “I don’t want to leave until he wakes up.”

 

“I’ll send word and keep you posted.”

 

“Thank you. Will you tell Vincent when he wakes that I’ll be down tomorrow?”

 

“Of course.”

 

Catherine nodded as she stood. She impulsively leaned over and kissed Father’s cheek. “Thank you.”

 

“For what?”

 

“For understanding why I went there tonight ...”

 

Father smiled and shook his head. “Thank you for trying to protect my son.” He stood and reached for her arm and patted her hand as he led her towards the door. “Come with me, I’ll sit with Vincent for awhile and you can say goodnight to him.”

 

Catherine walked into Vincent’s chamber.

 

“Vincent, Father will be here for awhile but I have to go Above. I’ll be back tomorrow night.” Vincent didn’t move and Catherine frowned as she leaned over and kissed his forehead. Again there was no reaction so she kissed his lips and stayed low as she whispered. “I love you.”

 

Father walked in as Catherine was leaning over. He heard her whispered words and smiled as he saw her kiss his son. He watched as she caressed his cheek one last time then turned from him.

 

“Goodnight, Father. If there is any change will you let me know?”

 

“Of course dear, try and get some sleep.”

 

They hugged briefly before Catherine left.  

 

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

 

 

The next day, Catherine showed up at work and was immediately called into Joe’s office.

 

“Sit down!”

 

She wondered why he was so angry. “What’s up, Joe?”

 

“In the interest of our friendship, you better tell me the truth here, Cathy. Do you know anything about what happened last night?”

 

“Last night?” she asked innocently. “Are we talking baseball, or a concert? I need a little more to go on, Joe…”

 

“Benson and Mercer were found murdered in an old movie house last night.”

 

Catherine had played out this scene in her head a million times last night. “What?!” she asked in disbelief.

 

Joe bought her act. “You didn’t know...”

 

Catherine looked confused. “How could I?”

 

Joe flushed guiltily. “I thought that maybe ... look ... forget it.”

 

“You thought that maybe I … what? Had them killed? God, Joe! Thanks!”

 

“Bensons’ parents were the ones who asked Moreno about you.”

 

“As horrible as it is, those two animals kind of deserved what they had coming to them and quite honestly I don’t care. But I didn’t kill them …”

 

“I wonder who the hell did?”

 

“Did it ever occur to anyone that maybe one of the pimps got mad that these two were slowly picking off their girls?”

 

Joe closed his eyes in disgust, wondering why he hadn’t thought of that. “No, sorry, Moreno’s still going to want to know where you were last night.”

 

“Okay, tell him I was home.”

 

“Alone?”

 

“For awhile, I was cleaning my curio and one of my figurines broke. I cut my hand ...” Catherine showed him the bandage. “I left and went to Peter Alcott’s I’m sure he’ll corroborate that I was with him getting a few stitches.”

 

“You okay?”

 

“Yeah.” She scooted forward in her seat. “How’d they die, Joe.”

 

“Dean had a broken neck ...”

 

“Oh, yeah, I definitely have the strength to do that!” Catherine snorted sarcastically.

 

“The other was slashed with some kind of blade.”

 

Catherine shrugged indifferently, “Sounds like a pimp kill to me...”

 

“Yeah ... I’ll let them know you’re clean ...”

 

“Thanks.”

 

Catherine left work early that day and headed Below.

 

 

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

 

 

Catherine walked through the tunnels and thought about how happy she was it was Friday. She wouldn’t have to do any work until Monday morning.

 

She walked into Vincent’s chamber to find him sitting up in bed.

 

“Hi.”

 

“Catherine.”

 

She sat down next to him on the bed and caressed his cheek. “You look well.”

 

“I’m doing well. Father insists I stay in bed for today or I would have come and met you.”

 

“Father’s right!”

 

Vincent took her hand into his and inspected the bandage. “He also told me you needed stitches.”

 

“Just a few ... it was from the piece of glass I grabbed ...”

 

“The one you cut the boy with ... I saw ...”

 

“You shouldn’t have been there, Vincent.”

 

“They would have killed you!”

 

“They almost killed you!”

 

“My life is of no consequence.”

 

“It is to me!”

 

“I could never go back to a life without you, Catherine.”

 

“And I can’t imagine my life without you!”

 

Vincent blushed as he squeezed her elbow gently. He lowered his head and frowned. “Did they question you about the boys?”

 

“Joe asked me where I was last night. I told him I broke a figurine from my curio case and that he could verify with Peter that my hand required stitches.”

 

“You think fast on your feet.”

 

“I suggested that maybe one of the pimps was fed up with the boys slowly picking off their girls. They’ll investigate and question every pimp they can find but no one will reveal any information. It’ll be forgotten about in a week.”

 

“Not by me,” Vincent whispered.

 

Catherine scooted closer and caressed his cheek with her hand. “You saved my life. They would’ve killed me and then continued to kill others.”

 

“I know.”

 

Catherine kissed him and as was usual waited until he responded to her before she ended it. “Thanks for being there for me.” She laid her head against his good shoulder and lightly touched the opposite one. “Does it hurt much?”

 

“Not really…it’s more like a dull ache…”

 

Catherine leaned back to look into his eyes to see if he was telling her the truth. “And how about in here…” she asked lightly tapping her finger over his heart.

 

Vincent sighed and put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer. “I’m feeling better now that you’re here.”

 

Catherine relished being this close to him and could feel herself relaxing against his chest. They had gone through hell this week and she knew that they could easily slip into a deep sleep if she allowed it. She felt him twinge against her and realized he was uncomfortable.

 

“Maybe I could read to you for awhile ...”

 

“I’d like that.”


Vincent scooted over and made room for her next to him on the bed. She quickly propped pillows up and leaned against them as she settled in and opened the cover of the book and began to read.

 

 

THE END