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3rd Season Round Robin

 

Finders, Keepers

Chapter 1

by Janet Rivenbark


Vincent had to smile a little as he watched his son joyously pounding the remains of his lunch, a piece of banana, turning it into a slimy mess.

Only a few years ago he would have never dreamed that he would have a son, and especially not one as beautiful as this one.

That is because he looks like his mother, he reminded himself.

Jacob did look like Catherine, not only because he hadn’t inherited his father’s visage, but because he had his mother’s eyes, strong jaw and coloring.

Tomorrow would be his son’s first birthday, but it was also the first anniversary of Catherine’s death. Vincent wanted to celebrate the birth of his son, but he also wanted … no, he needed … to observe the anniversary of Catherine’s death. The pain was gone…almost. He could think of Catherine now and not feel as if his heart was being ripped out of his chest. He could look at the photos in Jacob’s chamber and feel joy that his son would know that his mother had loved him, and he could remember the time he’d had with her and rejoice that they’d had it.

He had decided that he would visit Catherine’s grave; he hadn’t been back since Diana had found him there. He would arrange for a babysitter and made a stop at Sophie’s Florist Shop to pick out a perfect red rose.

Vincent came out of his reverie to smile even more broadly at the sight of Jacob industriously rubbing the now almost liquefied banana into his hair. For some reason, he seemed to enjoy wearing his food as much as he enjoyed eating it. Vincent laughed outright as the boy flung a fistful of banana across the table and hit him right in the eye, giggling and crowing “Da da! ‘Nana.”

“He’ll be pitching for the Yankees by the time he’s twenty,” predicted Cullen who had entered the chamber just in time to see the banana find its mark.

“Only if he learns to keep the banana off his hands … and out of his hair, ears and nose,” Vincent observed as he scraped banana out of his eye and off his cheek. “They’ll suspend him for throwing spit balls, but in this case it is more like a slime ball.” He wiped the banana on a cloth and went to his wash basin for a wet washcloth so he could clean up his son’s handiwork.

“Did you need something, Cullen?” he asked as he worked the slime out of Jacob’s hair.

“I’ve been looking for Mouse,” Cullen told him. “I was supposed to meet him in his workshop after lunch and I’ve been waiting there for over an hour, but he still hasn’t shown. I checked with the sentries and no one has seen him. I was wondering if you had.”

“Not since breakfast,” Vincent told him. “He seemed a little preoccupied then. I had to speak to him three times before he heard me.”

“I know Mouse has no concept of time, but he doesn’t usually have a total disregard for it,” said Cullen. “I even sent a message on the pipes and he didn’t answer.”

“Perhaps you should check with Jamie,” Vincent suggested. “She usually knows where to find him when no one else can.”

“Thanks, Vincent. I’ll do that. If you see him, remind him of our meeting and tell him I’m looking for him, will you?”

Vincent nodded as he lifted his now nearly clean son to carry him into the small storage chamber that had been turned into a nursery.

The chamber was furnished with things that Catherine had purchased. Peter had found them in her storage unit in the basement of her building when he gone over to look through things a few days after the funeral. Finding a crib, changing table and an odd assortment of other baby gear had puzzled him at first, until Diana had asked him if he’d known that Catherine was pregnant and had given birth only a short time before her death. He had kept it all to himself until Father told him what Vincent had confided in him about a child.

When they had received word that Vincent was on his way home with his son, Peter had mobilized a small army to move the things Below, where Mary had taken over to turn the storage room off Vincent’s chamber into a nursery. It hadn’t been used for the first few months after Jacob came home, but a few months later, when he’d begun sleeping through the night, Vincent had moved him into it. Peter had also sent along several items that had belonged to Catherine, including photos. Vincent was glad that Jacob would at least know what his mother had looked like and that she had loved him…more than Vincent had ever had growing up.

Once he was sure his son was asleep he returned to his chamber and cleaned up the remains of lunch, smiling as he did it. That chore done, he went in search of Mary to ask if she could suggest one of the older children to stay with Jacob for the night.

He found Mary mending clothes Father’s study.

Vincent looked around as he entered the study. “Father’s not here?” he asked as he sat on the stool near Mary.

“He was in the kitchen arguing some finer point of English cuisine with William,” she told him with a smile. “I expected him back here almost an hour ago.”

“He’s been giving William recipes again?” he asked.

“Yes, he said he had a taste for steak and kidney pie, but William refuses to make it. He says that it is vile.”

Vincent shook his head. It was a never ceasing argument between Father and William. Father missed some of the dishes he’d eaten as a child, but William refused to cook most of them.

“Did you need something from him?” she asked, looking up from the shirt she was mending.

“No, I was looking for you. I want to go Above tonight and was wondering who you might suggest to stay with Jacob.”

“I’d check with Brooke, if you are going to be gone into the wee hours. Samantha is good with the children and Jacob loves her, but she has classes tomorrow.”

“Whoever stays with him can sleep on the cot in the nursery. I just want someone there in case he wakes.”

As he was rising to leave, Vincent heard his name on the pipes. He went over to the one closest to him and tapped out his location. Only a few minutes later Geoffrey literally skidded around a corner and into the chamber. Vincent caught the boy before he pitched headlong down the metal steps.

“Thanks, Vincent,” he puffed out, catching his breath. “This came down through Sebastian.” He handed a note to Vincent.

“He said he got it from Detective Bennett.”

“Thank you, Geoffrey,” said Vincent as he started to unfold the note. “You should try to move with a little less haste. You might have been hurt.”

The boy nodded then ran out, leaving Vincent shaking his head.

He looked down at the note in his hand.

Vincent,
Please meet me on my roof as early as you can tonight. I need to talk to you.
D.B.

“Looks like I’ll be needing that babysitter a little earlier than I anticipated.” He looked across the room at Mary as he was turning to leave. “By the way, have you seen Mouse today?”

“Not since breakfast,” she told him.


~


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