Such Stuff as Dreams by Olivia K. Goode

 

 

“Hey, Miss Chandler!” When she heard the small voice, Catherine turned to see Eric propelling himself off the low stone wall surrounding the park. As her cab pulled away, the boy raced across the street, leapt over a mound of dirty slush, and bounced with energy as he arrived at her side. “I have a note from Vincent!”

“You do? I didn’t expect to hear from him so soon. Are they finished already? Maybe there weren’t as many pipes to fix as Vincent thought there would be.”

“Oh, no, there were.” Eric puffed up with that look of a child who has a story to tell and an interested adult audience to listen it to it. “Zach says the men worked for almost 48 hours non-stop. He knows because he was helping them. Vincent made Zach take naps, but Vincent kept working – the whole time. I think he was in a hurry to finish getting the pipes rerouted so that he could spend tonight with you.” Eric’s breath froze mid-air as he drew out the word you while he looked up at her with adulation.

Catherine smiled down at him as he continued to stare at her, a giddy grin cemented to his face. She raised her eyebrows encouragingly, but he didn’t continue, just kept staring. “Eric …?” She held out her hand.

“Yes, Miss Chandler?” He leaned in toward her, put his hand in hers and waited for further communication to fall from his goddess’s lips.

She forced herself to not laugh. Don’t smile. Don’t even think about it, Cathy. “The note?”

“Oh!” Pink fanned across his cheeks as he reached into his vest and withdrew a creamy scrap of paper.

Catherine opened the note and beamed when she read the words.

“So, am I right?” Eric bounced on the balls of his feet. “Are you coming Below?”

“Yes, Eric. I’ll go change and come right down.”

“Bet ya I beat ya to the threshold!” And off he ran across the street and back into the park.

***

She paused outside his doorway. “Vincent?” There being no response, she stepped inside and was ensnared by the sight that greeted her there.

He lay on his bed, feet crossed at the ankles, and she smiled at the sight of his stockinged feet propped on some of the many pillows piled at the end of his bed. She whispered again, “Vincent?” His chest rose and fell with slow, measured pace, but there was no other movement, no acknowledgement of her speaking his name. She stepped closer, saw a muddy set of clothes set atop the basket near his armoire, and stood looking down at him. His face was so relaxed, so carefree, that he looked quite boyish.  

It was such a simple thing to imagine him a short while ago, going to bathe as soon as he sent Eric off with that note, changing into fresh clothes, and convincing himself that he could lie down – just for a moment – until she got here. His lips parted as he exhaled more deeply, then he rolled onto his side, facing his stained glass window. She nearly gave in to the urge to reach out and touch the still-damp roots of his freshly washed hair where they fanned across the pillows behind him.

How long am I going to be able to resist? And she wasn’t thinking only about his hair. How long are we both going to be able to keep denying this, dancing around our feelings for each other?  Someday … one day soon … we’ll have to give in, to act on our love.    

“We have to, I think.” The words came from his bed.

She blanched and covered her mouth instinctively, uncertain for an instant if she’d actually spoken aloud. Of course, she hadn’t – had she? Had he heard her thoughts? After a moment with nothing further from him, she asked, “What, Vincent?”

“I said, we have to fix that pipe, Cullen.” The words were soft and slightly slurred, spoken directly to his bookcase.

She could breathe again. He is asleep!Chan's drawing of Vincent asleep in bed, sleeping on his side. Catherine is smiling, snuggled up behind him, leaning over his shoulder.

She had nursed him through his illness, of course, and had learned during those horrific days and nights in her apartment that he would sometimes talk in his sleep. But she’d never before had the chance to watch him enjoy a deep, calm, restful slumber such as this. The allure was too tempting to resist. She leaned over his shoulder, angling herself to get a better view of his face. “When should we do that, Vincent?”

“Soon, Kanin. Before Winterfest … mmmurbeh snnnrt. Her feet will get wet otherwise.”

Her? She knew, but what harm could there be in playing along just a little more? “Whose feet will get wet?”

“Catherine’s.”  He smiled then, broader and warmer than any she could recall during his waking hours. Even after all the years they’d known each other, he still tended to be guarded with her at times. She could see his eyes moving beneath their lids, darting back and forth across the scene that only he could see. He began to speak again, too softly for her to make sense of his words beyond a few mumbled sounds. “Immbin neh …”

She gently eased herself onto the bed, curling against the curve of his back. “What?”

He sighed and there was nearly inaudible susurration as he rubbed his cheek against the patchwork pillow. She tucked her hair behind her ear and leaned farther over his arm, straining to hear and understand his every syllable. She prompted again, “What was that, Vincent?”

“Stop playing with the lemonade, Mouse,” he scolded loud and clear.

Fountain-like, the laughter bubbled up from deep within her, drenching them both in her delight.

He opened his eyes then, turned his head and looked at her. She half-expected him to bolt away from her, spooned around him on his bed as she was. Yet he only blinked up at her, absorbing the situation.

“I take it this is not part of the dream I was just having?” His voice was husky with sleep.

“No,” Catherine grinned down at him. “This part is real. Which is lucky, since I don’t think you’d want Mouse playing with lemonade on your bed.”

He chortled softly under his breath. “No, that would not end well.” He shifted beneath her so that he was lying on his back once more.

She did reach out and touch his hair then, brushed a few strands of it back from his eyes. “Have you always talked in your sleep, Vincent?”

“Ever since I was a boy. I used to wake Devin up doing it when we were children. To get his revenge on me for waking him, he’d talk back to me, and I would carry on a full-blown conversation – dead asleep the whole while. He loved regaling the others with stories about my dreams at breakfast. I hope I– ” His brow furrowed and Catherine knew he was trying to remember the details of the dream he’d been having. “I hope I didn’t say anything … too embarrassing.”

“No, you just talked about the leaking pipes, and how I’d get my feet wet if they weren’t fixed before Winterfest. I should have left as soon as I realized you were asleep, I know, but by then you were talking, and you were so precious …”

Their gazes locked on one another, their souls speaking through their eyes as only they could.  Their Bond shimmered within them, electricity in the ether. It surrounded them with an almost physical presence, cocooning them in their love.

“Forgive me for eavesdropping on your dream,” Catherine whispered at last.

“There is nothing to forgive,” he answered as he pulled her to lie in the hollow of his shoulder. “You cannot eavesdrop on yourself … and it is you, Catherine, who are my dream.”



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