Chapter 8


Catherine automatically raised her arm, ready to strike again if necessary, but to her surprise Gaines lay there on the ground unmoving, a slight trickle of blood oozing from his head where he hit the ground and another rather jagged piece of concrete on the ground when he fell.

Catherine was at Vincent's side the next moment. "Vincent, it's okay - I stopped him - I don't need any help." The note of pride in her voice surprised her. A few minutes ago she had felt the sting of knowing that she had let both Isaac and Vincent down. She now allowed herself a small pat on the back for turning the situation around single-handedly, not needing a man to come to her rescue.

Vincent struggled with his dark side, forcing it to release its hold on him. "Catherine," he panted, eyes darting from her to the lifeless form of the man who had been putting them both through hell for the last few days.

The sound of her name being called from upstairs caught the attention of them both. "Vincent! That's Greg and Joe! You have to go! Now!"

In spite of the circumstances, leaving her was the last thing he wanted. He'd come too close to losing her. She gave him a gentle push and he reluctantly obeyed. In the blink of an eye he had disappeared back through the hole in the wall. She made her way over to Gaines just as Greg and Joe and half a dozen others entered the room. The firm grip on her arm made her jump.

"Cathy, thank God." Joe helped her up.


"Are you all right? What happened here?"

Joe was not letting go of his grip on her upper arm. Catherine was actually a bit grateful for it - as her legs weren't feeling all that steady right now. "I woke up in here just as you guys were breaking in. Gaines ran in, grabbed me, pulled me to my feet and tried to run with me - through there," she gestured at the hole in the wall that Vincent had made. "I broke away from him and found that rock and hit him with it.... Is he dead?" The last breathless question was directed less at Joe and more at Greg, who was kneeling over Gaines.

"I think I'm getting a faint pulse," said Greg as he waved to someone outside the door and out of Catherine's line of vision. A moment later Catherine saw the paramedics come in.

Catherine sensed Joe looking at her intently. As if reading her mind, he commented in a very matter of fact way, "If you did kill him, Radcliffe, I don't think there'd be a jury in the world that would convict you."

Catherine could only smile faintly at that.

Gaines was taken to the hospital in one ambulance while Joe rode with Catherine in another. The ride seemed to take forever in the Midtown traffic. Normally Catherine might have been anxious to get to Vincent and console him. She wasn't sure exactly what he may have been thinking back in the building, but it couldn't be anything like the remorse he had felt in the past after coming to her aid. She still couldn't wait to see him again and fill him in on the details, but that could wait a little while.

Several hours later, Catherine was lying on a bed behind a curtain in the emergency room, waiting for the doctor who had treated her to return with her release papers. Only after Joe was satisfied that Catherine only had a mild concussion had he left her to check on Gaines. He put his head around the curtain now.

"What's the latest, Joe?" Catherine sat up slowly.

"Gaines regained consciousness a little while ago. He has a severe concussion and apparently some memory loss. We've been trying to question him but he doesn't seem too coherent. Says he doesn't remember why he was trying to take you through the crumbling wall. Says he doesn't even remember there being a crumbling wall in the building. Also keeps asking if he really heard that sound just before you hit him."

"What sound?" Catherine asked with a little twinge in her heart.

"The last thing he remembers before losing consciousness is hearing a roar of some kind. You didn't hear anything like that, did you?"

"No," Catherine lied. "I guess I hit him a lot harder than I thought."

"Yeah. That's what I figured. That guy Isaac really taught you well."

Just then the doctor came around the curtain with Catherine's release papers. "OK, Miss Chandler, you're all set. Hope you feel better." He tore off her copy and handed it to her.

"Thank you, Doctor."

The doctor nodded to Catherine and Joe and left.

"Why don't you go straight home and get some rest?" said Joe.

"One more thing, Joe, what about Gaines' girls?" Catherine asked.

"Oh, yeah. They are doing as well as can be expected. As soon as we get their paperwork done they will be moved to live with their aunt and grandmother in - uh - New Jersey, I think it was."

"I'd like to do it."

"You don't have to, Cathy. I can get one of the..."

"I want to do it, Joe. I owe it to their mother to help in any way I can. I'd like to spend some time with them." Catherine's mind was racing with ways she could make it up to Tina by making sure her two little girls were well cared for - whether it was a trust fund for college or just being a 'big sister' when they needed one, she would think of something appropriate.

"OK, Kiddo. I'll let you know when they're going to be moved. He helped her down from the bed. "For now, though, why don't you get going home early like I said? Not that it's even that early, but, you know."

Catherine was not going to argue that point with Joe.