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A Mosaic Story - Classic



Welcome to the Online Mosaic Story - Classic

Please note: This is the Classic Mosaic and your entries should reflect that. It's the place for those for whom B&B was a two season show. No 3S entries, please.


Listed Below is the story so far. If you would like to contribute to it, click the Add to Story button below. If no one else is currently updating the story you will be brought to an input screen where you can add up to 255 characters. You will have 20 minutes to make your addition, after that the system will allow someone else to take your place at the writing desk and, if you have not submitted it, your input will be discarded. You can contribute to the story as many times as you like, however you will be prevented from making consecutive entries within an 8 hour period. At least one person has to contribute or 8 hour elapse before you can contribute again.

This story was created by participants of Winterfest, piece by piece to create the collective whole. Thanks to eveyone who contributed in the creation of such a wonderful story.

                                                                                                         

Catherine sat staring out her window with morning coffee cup in hand. It was becoming increasing difficult to hide her involvement Below from those Above. She debated over attendance to the latest fundraiser; the invite laying blank before her. Then she realized it was for the Women's Transition House. She couldn't think of a better charity. Luckily the Benefit was on a Thursday evening and it wouldn't cut into her weekend time with Vincent. Maybe she could even get Joe to lighten the work load that week which might get her out of the office early on Friday as well. Feeling better about her commitments to both worlds, she checked YES to attending & prepared to mail it after getting dressed. Vincent opened his journal, as he uncapped his fountain pen he felt the warmth of satisfaction wash over Catherine.
Vincent's script flowed.. "The wonder that has become my life still amazes me on a daily basis. I have my family Below,and Catherine has shown me the stars Above as well. I am truly blessed." Vincent's entry was interrupted when Mouse raced in panting. "Intruder! Bell rang. Net caught!"
Vincent looked up from his journal. "It's not, perhaps, Arthur playing in the tunnels?"
"In my chamber. Eating," the young man responded, shaking his head vigorously. "Main passage. Go quick!"
Vincent rose to leave. "Have you seen the intruder Mouse?"

Mouse fumbled with his fingers a bit. "Seen? No." His young head snapped up, "But fixed gizmo good. Sure this time."

Vincent nodded in acceptance of his friend's appraisal. The risk was too great not to check.
As he was moving toward the source of the alarm, Vincent called out to sentries along the way. "Mouse has received an alarm in the North Tunnel, near the Chasm."
Jamie nodded. "Got my crossbow. Let's check it out."
Harper tagged along, a new sentry.

The group moved swiftly along the corridors. As they neared the location where the alarm originated, Vincent motioned for the others to hang back. Vincent's voice echoed back with annoyance, "Mouse!"

Mouse ducked his head. Vincent didn't sound happy. He indicated with one arm the culprit caught in Mouse's trap. A very large, rather unhappy cat.

Mouse's face lit up. "A friend for Arthur!"

Vincent smiled despite his irritation. "Before you add a food bowl, better speak to Father about it." Mouse's face fell while Jamie attempted to cover a laugh. Vincent untangled the cat from the netting, & noticed a collar with a pet tag. "Seems our visitor already has a home." Vincent examined the semi familiar address. It was in Catherine's building. "I believe I know how to return this scamp to her rightful home."
The cat purred contentedly in the crook of Vincent's arm, and they all trooped back to their hastily dropped chores.

Catherine was just about to go Below when a note slipped under her
door.

Catherine Please meet me in my chamber at your earliest convenience. There is someone who needs help returning home. Vincent.

She shook her head in puzzlement, but grabbed a jacket & headed Below. Child giggles could be heard as she approached.
"She l-o-v-e-s Vincent!" chirped a young voice.
"He loves her back," responded another.
Puzzled, Catherine called for permission to enter Vincent's chamber. Laughter erupted as he asked her in.
The mystery was solved as she saw Vincent stroking a fat cat. The group of children parted as Catherine walked over & sat beside Vincent.

"Where did she come from?" Catherine asked as she scratched under the feline's chin.

"She was caught in one of Mouse's nets." Vincent explained and nodded towards the tag.


Oh, I know Mrs. Swanson! Would you like me to return her inquisitive cat to her? Thankfully she can't tell her where's she's been!"
"If you would," Vincent said. "We've enjoyed her, but Father doesn't want pets Below, and this is a tempting visitor." The cat meowed as in agreement & snuggled against Vincent's hand. "Come I'll walk you back." Vincent rose from the bed, & offered his free hand to Catherine while cradling the cat in the other. A collective "ahhh!" came from the children as they left.
As they meandered slowly towards her threshold, Catherine told Vincent about the Women's Transition House benefit she would be attending. He nodded in interest, mentioning that one of the Helpers - a young woman named Mindy - was a volunteer there.

"I wish you could go with me." Catherine casually sighed half aware that she had said her thoughts aloud. Vincent slowed his pace;a heavy weight on his heart. She continued on without noticing the impact of her words,"However,I may get off early Friday" Catherine suddenly realized what she'd said. "Oh! Vincent, how thoughtless of me. I'm so sorry."
He smiled. "You see me as who I am...not what I am. I should take that as a compliment."
"I suppose, but still...I'm sorry."
He hugged her; all was well.
The cat yowled in compliant at being squished which broke the tension and brought smiles to both faces. Vincent gently handed off the visitor and bid Catherine good night as she started up the stairs.


When Catherine got to Mrs. Swanson's apartment, she was concerned. The door was ajar. She knocked and called out for the elderly woman. When she got no response, she entered the living room, a mirror image of her own.
On the floor was a body.
But it was not Mrs. Swanson. It was a man in his early 20's with a broken vase scattered beside the body. Catherine closed the door and set the cat down. She slowly approached the body to feel for a pulse. He was unconscious, but not dead. The cat snarled at the body. Catherine wondered if the person had mistreated Mrs SWANSON! Cats could Be great character judges. Catherine spotted a phone on the counter and dialed 911. She relayed the address, and the information of Mrs. Swanson's disappearance in addition to the condition of the man on the floor. Suddenly someone grabbed at Catherine's arm.
Vincent's head came up sharply as he sensed the abrupt surge of Catherine's fear. It was day Above; there was nothing he could do. Unless....
He raced towards her threshold, determined to be close by should he have a chance to go to her.
"Who are you lady?" he snarled. Catherine had the phone receiver in her other hand & slammed the top into the man's forehead sending him back. Once her arm was free Catherine bolted for the door. A firm kick back,& a twist of the knob gained her freedom. She ran without realizing she could slow. When her lungs burned she slowed and looked over her shoulder. No one was chasing her. Gathering her wits she approached two NYPD on the corner, "I'm Catherine Chandler with the DA" she flashed her badge. "I need assistance with an early twenties assailant."

The police officers looked at each other than glanced around. "We don't see anyone miss." The responders to the 911 call began arriving with sirens blaring.
Catherine shouted the apartment number to them. As they swarmed into the building, she slipped off to the basement, careful to remain unseen, and opened the concealed door to her threshold. Vincent, she knew, was anxious to know she was OK. "Think they'll miss me?" Catherine nuzzled into Vincent's broad chest, his arms around her told her he had missed her in those strife-filled moments.
"Are you all right?" he asked despite holding her close.

"I'm OK. He didn't hurt me, but I have no idea where Mrs. Swanson has disappeared to." Catherine reported a little shaken. She welcomed spending time Below before returning to her apartment. But she knew she had to return Above immediately to assist the police in their investigation. "I'll see you soon," she promised as she scrambled back up the ladder.

She entered the Swanson apartment while the police were waiting for the Medical Examiner.
"Hold on.." the officer held up his hand to stop Cathy.

"I'm Catherine Chandler. I'm the one who called 911." she quickly explained.

"What did you find when you entered the apartment Ms. Chandler?" he asked notepad ready.

"I was returning her cat." "That man, he was alive when I arrived. The cat didn't care for him, then I was grabbed and I ran."
"Someone was lying in wait?"
She nodded.
"Know this guy?'
Catherine gazed at the face of the dead man.
"No. And I don't know where Mrs. Swanson is. She's elderly and rarely leaves her apartment, so I'm very worried."
"OK, thanks. We'll take it from here.
" Catherine handed the police her card in case they needed to follow up. Mrs. Swanson's cat rubbed up against Catherine's leg.

"What are we going to do with you?" Catherine cooed picking up the cat. "Guess I'll have to watch over you for now." She raided Mrs. Swanson's store of cat food and took it and the litter box into her own apartment, letting the police know she'd be watching the cat. Before leaving, though, she glanced at the pile of recent mail on the desk. Bills and late notices. When no one saw her she slid the stack of mail into the bag and headed home.
Catherine loosed the cat to start on her dinner as Catherine spread the mail out on the table. Most of the envelopes were companies seeking payments, but one stood out with a handwritten address. Catherine debated the ethics of opening the letter. It could be the key to where the woman suddenly went. She carefully slid her finger under the flap.
"Dear Mom,
It's horrid when one's life intrudes on loved ones. You need to worry. I am safe, but you may not be"
The letter went to describe her fears.....
After Catherine read the missive from Mrs. Swanson's daughter Emma, she quickly turned off the stove, grabbed her keys and jacket, and headed Below, not stopping until she reached Vincent's chamber.
"There's trouble coming," she said, nearly breathless.
"Mitch's crew forced her son in law to mule some drugs. He lost them, the crew thinks Mrs. Swanson hid them. But she's disappeared." The air seemed to stop moving. "Her daughter Emma doesn't disclose where she is at, but reports it is a safe place for temporary shelter until she can get her life back. From the description I fear the young man found dead in Mrs. Swanson's apartment was Emma's soon to be ex husband."

"Does that mean Mitch's crew will suspect us hiding her?"
"There is no way of knowing how much Mitch disclosed of the tunnels, but if they know and think the drugs could be here.... then they may try to send someone below now that the son in law is dead." Catherine thought back to the apartment. "If Mitch finds out I live a few apartments away from Mrs. Swanson...."
Vincent considered the dilemma. "Can you trace any of Mitch's men?"
"I could tell the police about the letter and who Mitch is. They might know who his men are." She nodded and left. "OK, Radcliffe, this is what you have? How do you get in the middle of these things?" Joe shook his head and yelled at her retreating form, "You'll be bored if you ever quit here"
Cathy stopped, turned and grinned, "Bet me, just bet me" Cathy turned to continue to her desk then thought of something else, "Don't forget Joe I'm off early tomorrow night for the charity benefit." He just waved her own with the folder he had in hand. Catherine sat down at her desk when a call came from NYPD.
"Ms. Chandler?"
"Yes."
You reported the crime in your building today?"
"I did, yes."
"We need you down at the station. An undercover car is being sent for you."
Catherine frowned, suspicious. Why not a black-and-white?
"I...can get there on my own." What was it about Under Cover cars? They screamed it and she didn't trust a soul these days,
"For your own security I must insist you allow us to send a car. This is a matter of utmost urgency, & I expect you to cooperate Ms. Chandler." *click* Catherine had a bad feeling about this. Her gaze went to Joe's office. *knock* "You got a minute Joe?"

"For you kiddo, sure, what?"
"Need to run this by you... an elderly woman in my building recently went missing. I was returning her cat,but instead found an unconscious man who later turned up dead. Now the NYPD is insisting I accept an undercover car to go downtown." she explained. She knew someone led the cat below as a warning. She could say nothing about the tunnels to Joe . He could tell there was more.
"What reason they giving for the undercover car?" Joe's brows furrowed.
"They didn't. It just feels..wrong." she frowned.
"Uh huh. Cathy, what are you not telling me." his piercing gaze held hers.
"There was a letter.." "Yeah?"
The missing woman and dead man may be mixed up with a criminal known to me."
Joe frowned. "Why send an undercover car? Seems like a normal investigation to me. C'mon, I'll drive you."
Denton watched as Catherine drove by in Joe's car. "Damn!" Catherine sat nervously as Joe continued the conversation. "Just who is this criminal you know that you think is linked to the investigation?"

She considered hiding the truth, but she may need Joe in the loop at least Above. "Remember Mitch Denton?"



"Yeah, the one who gave you the bullet hole?" It was coming back to Joe now an d it flat out angered him."Then this has just earned a new level of importance, Cathy!" Joe drove is a circuitous route as Cathy watched for a tail. The blue sedan had shadowed them turn for turn. Joe began driving more erratically in an attempt to lose them. They must have noticed as now the sedan became more aggressive with slamming into the back of Joe's car. Finally Joe sped into an a alley. With some tricky maneuvering he wedged between 2 dumpsters dowsing the lights. Catherine jumped out and dragged 3 bags of trash to drop on the top of the car. She jumped back in and they reclined just in time for the sedan to fly by confounding the sedan. "That was a close call Chandler. What are these people after anyway?" Joe pressed.
"Drugs As best I can tell from the letter. About a quarter of a million is missing. Maybe they think I know where it is."


,000 street value is missing "You gotta be kidding me!"
"It's a long story, but...one person is already missing and one is dead...and one of Mitch's crew saw me."
"The call was a ruse to get you outside so they could grab you, too."
"It looks like it."
"Let's get you to the FBI."
Images of being placed into the witness protection program and never seeing Vincent again flashed through Catherine's mind. "No." He blinked in disbelief.
"No? Cathy! These are heavy hitters, you don't mess with them. Why don't you want the FBI called?" 'Long story, Joe, I can't be away from my family." She shook her head.
"Radcliffe, you're essentially an orphan - what AREN'T you telling me?"
"I've got people to protect, Joe"
"You're talking family like MAFIA?, like what?"
"Joe. Just folks I love."
"And you think this Family can keep you safe from big league drug dealers?" Joe stared at her in disbelief.

"I can't leave." It wasn't a 'Yes'.

Joe sighed. He recognized the losing battle."OK Cath, what do you want to do?"

"Take me to Central Park." "Whatever happens, you don't know where I am." She stood near the Delacorte Theatre and waved him off. After she was satisfied with the night's silence she heard him, "Catherine, you give me endless fright", she ran into his arms and they disappeared.
Later Vincent was helping Catherine into the guest chamber. "I'm worried for Joe. If I had known Mitch would come after me like that I would never have involved Joe."

Vincent was more silent than normal. "I almost killed Mitch that night he shot you."
Catherine nodded as she slid out of her shoes, "For every regret you have over each death defending me ---"
"I should have taken him out that night." Vincent's voice was dry and quiet at realizing that he had the power to have saved lives with Mitch gone. "And now...he may bring death and destruction to those Below."
Catherine considered this. "If he has Mrs. Swanson, he'll realize soon enough that I'm not involved in this drug situation. Just because I'm a neighbor...."
"The coincidence may be enough." Vincent paused. "And the opportunity for revenge towards me if he knows of us .."

Catherine wrapped her arms around him."You are not to blame for anything he has done. Nor are you solely responsible for keeping him from hurting anyone else-including me. "I understand, Catherine, however my world could suffer once more because of Mitch."
"Then we need to alert Father and the rest of the sentries."
The all silent and false walls went up. They met at Father's desk to discuss their options. Where was Mitch?

Joe couldn't get the afternoon events with Cathy off his mind as he sat alone in his office. 'She's a smart lady. She knows the dangers yet something was more important to her than her own safety.' Joe packed up to head home. A shadow followed him out. Benny was more than a bike messenger, he knew how to shadow like a sleuth. Throughout Joe's travels Benny watched the crowd and Joe. Once Joe entered his apt Benny sat back to observe, then sent his notes via the sax player .

Catherine was relieved to get the note indicating Joe was safely home.Perhaps Vincent wasn't the only one who felt responsible for those he cared about.Yet, sleep did not come easily without the familiar sound of pipe tapping. Vincent lingered close. She let herself relax in the shelter of his arms and finally drifted off into slumber.
At some point during the night, she was startled awake by Vincent's finger against her lips, warning her to be silent. "An intruder," he whispered, grabbing his cloak. In the tunnel's darkness Vincent moved stealthily. Hearing 2 distinct voices whispering he moved to a path above them to watch their progress.
The two punks wandered down a secluded path and dug in a crevice, pulled a package and left the way they came. After following them to ensure they left the tunnels, Vincent made a note to seal off the entrance they'd used and returned to the package.
Drugs.
A gang was using the tunnels for their drug business. This was worse than worse, as Mouse would say. Vincent scanned the area where the punks had withdrawn the package and noticed the crevice went deeper than it appeared. There was something more further back. He extended his arm as far as it could reach and pulled out a bulging gym bag. Without looking in the bag Vincent carried it back to Father's. The stone walls would stymie the punks and the authorities could have the bag. Work began that hour.
"If I were a betting person, I'd lay even money that these are the drugs Mrs. Swanson's son-in-law 'lost.'" Catherine mouth set in a grim line. "Whether he hid them here or someone else did, I need to get them to the police."
"Mitch might try to stop you ." Vincent kept his eyes downcast. He couldn't ask Catherine not to pursue this yet he didn't want her in danger.

"He won't stop until it's found. Once in police hands he won't have anything to search for.I'll go to Joe's apt;its safer than the office" Under cover of darkness she carried the concealed bag to Joe's. "Radcliffe! It's good to see you alive!" Joe hurried her inside safely. They talked while Vincent hovered on the rooftop. Once Below they felt certain satisfaction sealed with a hug and kiss. "Oh no! I forgot to give Joe my key to pick up the cat! I'll be right back." She dashed back up the rungs & arrived at Joe's in time to see Mitch with two thugs. Catherine ducked aside before they saw her.She had to warn Joe! They kicked the door in.
Cathy pelted up the fire escape and broke a window, Joe leapt at the noise, she hushed him and pulled him down the stairs. "They're coming for you, breaking in the front door."
"Jeesh, Cathy, I owe you 1!" Joe pulled his car keys from his pocket.
"Forget it.They know your car."She glanced around & pulled Joe into a side alley. Tense minutes later they heard a car squeal away.Cautiously they returned to the broken window to see a ransacked empty apt & a missing gym bag. Joe fumed waving his hands. "It's a good think you took the papers out of the bag, they got their dope back but you still have the written evidence!" Cathy's adrenaline ran high.
"I'll call NYPD and get this filed." Joe huffed,"Looks like I'm heading for the sofa in my office"
"No you're not. Here." Catherine dropped the key into his hand.
"What's this?" He stared at her in confusion.
"It comes with short dinky couches, & a cat to feed." She smiled."I'm staying with friends tonight. They have the drugs & won't be watching now. She walked him to her apt. and saw he was settled.
Vincent held her close,"I felt your excitement, and things are quiet for now?"
"Yes, just hold me, let me know I'm safe." Catherine melted at his smile. After a brief, happy interlude, she reluctantly broke their embrace. "I need to go back up tomorrow. Mrs. Swanson is still missing, and Joe will need me to back up the things in his report."
"That's tomorrow," Vincent murmured. "Tonight...." "Tonight, Catherine, stay with me"

Catherine nodded, taking his invitation to heart. "There's no place I'd rather be than by your side." She blushed, "And in your bed."
Vincent blushed in turn. " 'As you wish.' "
He placed an unlit lantern outside his chamber doorway and turned to her.

Joe poured out cat food as he heard *thud*. The cat had knocked off a picture frame & book from the desk. "Great!" he grumbled & picked up the now half open frame of child's invite. Writing caught his eyes. "Meet me Below? Vincent?" Book of sonnets? "Before we settle in, did you want to bathe?" He handed her a basket of night clothes and toiletries.
"Oh, love you've thought of everything,what a sweet thought!" Vincent watched her head toward the bathing chamber and wondered if she wanted his company.
Joe began to check other frames, finding other notes from this mysterious Vincent talking about this place called Below. his fine lawyer's mind began to make connections using information he'd known and these new clues. So much more made sense about Catherine's avid sense of privacy. Joe limited himself to the items laid out in plain sight despite his rising curiosity. Joe felt a twinge of sorrow as he thought Catherine trusted him. Maybe there was more to it he sighed. Catherine shared her relaxation through the Bond. She was 'home' or so she felt. While she dried off she thought of being in Vincent's arms. How would it be to sleep all night there? Could she sleep? Would her thoughts disturb him? She hoped not..... He seemed to accept her request to stay in his chamber rather quickly. She could only hope that didn't mean he would find a gracious way to back out later when the moment became too real to deny. Sitting on the bed she combed out her wet hair awaiting him. Her heart filled with late night Tunnel sounds, then he was there, in slippers and bed clothes. "May I brush your hair dry?" he nodded with a confident smile and sat with his broad back to her."I love your hair, Vincent!" she heard his sudden deep breath. "Did I pull too hard?" she innocently asked.

"No" his voice was a little too high & choked. Clearing his throat he tried again in a deeper voice, "No Catherine." She gathered his hair in her hands. That exposed neck was tempting, but she knew he'd bolt. When his hair was gleaming in the candlelight he drew a deep breath and inquired, "Would ... you ... like ... your ... hair brushed?" She felt a deep warmth within, "Yes, I would, Vincent", she handed him the brush and turned her back to him, smiling. Catherine closed her eyes savoring his touch. When he paused a moment to lay his hand on her shouldler she gently pressed her lips to his hand. Feeling his warm breath on her neck she swooned to lean closer to him. It was incredulous that she was just one layer of linen away from his muscled chest. "How can I brush your hair, you're so close?" he dropped the brush and held her shoulders to him. Right now, just feeling you close and knowing that I am safe and in your arms is all I need. Falling into each others arms felt heavenly. The cool linen sheets crinkled to hold them yet they were in the cocoon of ther love, oblivious to the world. Spooned in the golden glow their hands played lightly over eager flesh. Breathlessly Vincent worshipped her with his hands, his lips, as she did him. What had seemed impossible such a short time ago now was inevitable. They made love so sweetly, so intensely, safe within the harbor of each other's love. Their Bond glowed between them, deeper now.
Come morning, Catherine returned above. Stopping at her apartment she smelled fresh coffee. Joe seemed nervous as he handed her a cup.
"Cat knocked this off." he handed her the crooked frame."Cathy..Who's Vincent?" he tried casual but it came out tense. Someone very important to me that I don't plan on discussing with you. Remember my personal life is exactly that, personal. Softening her tone at Joe's abashed expression,"Sorry, that came out a little harsher than it was meant to.It's just not something I can talk about."She set the frame aside.
"I worry about you sometimes." he admitted.
"Joe, I assure you he's no threat" "You don't talk about him and the room is full of his secrets!"
"This is my home, Joe, they aren't secrets to me."
"I want to know you're safe, that he's not some rat"
"Joe, I can assure you he's no rat! He has a good heart like yours"
They met in a hug.

Below Vincent sat at his writing desk trying to put his emotions into words. For so long he had feared becoming intimate with Catherine yet last night it came so naturally."Where do we go now?" he penned, "We still live in two worlds as it must be,yet.. Catherine let Joe out and sat in thought. Did she NEED to work? No, she NEEDED Vincent. The apt could be kept as a 'getaway', his chamber was a crossroads. Would that change? Could he make room for her in his chanber as he had in his heart? The more she thought about it the more she liked the idea of living below, but her heart sank at completely turning her back on her work above. Both were important and she knew she could make it work to be in both worlds. Home with Vincent & work above. Father greeted Vincent over breakfast. "I just got word Peter is thinking of downsizing." Vincent frowned, then Father continued, "Do you think Catherine might favor a move?" Vincent nodded, "It would make it safer to visit!" His eyes brightened!
Catherine & Joe poured over the papers liberated from the bag the previous night searching for clues to follow up on to locate Mrs. Swanson. There still had been no word. The hours flew by, & soon it was time to prepare for the fundraiser that night.
Catherine entered a stately brownstone for the charity event she heard voices of all the lives in this 100+yr old home. While she circulated there was a closed door. She heard words of cries of concern, they sounded like Mrs Swanson.

Catherine slipped into a hallway off the main foyer. There came another voice, "Tell us where she is old lady." Mrs. Swanson's daughter had been in the right place at the right time too often & knew more about the drug operation than was healthy.
Knowing she didn't want to involve Vincent she excused herself to use a corner phone.'Joe they have her' she gave the address aland hurried below.
'I felt your fear.' Vincent held her tightly then they strolled to his chamber.
"Joe was able to get the police there quickly. Mrs. Swanson is in the hospital, but she'll be OK. Most importantly, the kidnappers have been caught. We were surprised to find the home's owner involved in the drug trade - he was hosting the charity event. Vincent shook his head, “There are rules for hiding in plain sight. The first rule, or at least the one is “Don’t be stupid.”
"His stupidity broke this wide open! It's vital we're alive and safe" They returned to his chamber to celebrate their love.

The next morning at the DA's office a woman in her 20's stopped in front of Catherine's desk. "Catherine Chandler?" Catherine looked up & nodded. "I'm Emma-Mrs. Swanson's daughter. I wanted to thank you for helping save her."

"How is she doing?"


"She wouldn't have made it without you, Ms. Chandler!" the hand shake turned into a tearful hug. Catherine patted the young woman's back. Wiping tears away Emma invited Catherine to lunch to a little out of the way cafe where conversations weren't overheard. As they looked over the menus, Emma pulled out an envelope & handed it to Catherine. Before Catherine fully accepted the envelope she queried, "Emma, what's this?"

"A note my mother wanted me to deliver to you - ONLY you. She said it was important you know." Emma shrugged.

Catherine broke the seal, and withdrew the note.

"Dear Ms. Chandler --
Thank you for my safe return to my daughter. In repayment I need to alert you that Denton has a secret entrance to the world Below. My cat was sent along that way to allow the path to be found & sealed. If it is not, I fear the evil that monster may do.
Catherine folded the note into her bra and grimly thanked Emma. When the meal was over she headed directly Below. Shaking, she handed the note to Vincent and collapsed in his arms, "Please tell me these were the paths blocked" Vincent read the note.
V incent nodded,"I believe this is the same tunnel entrance the men used. It has been sealed. If Mouse's intruder alarm had not been triggered we may not have discovered the breach in time."

An impish smile spread across her face,"Perhaps a reward then."
Vincent shared her smile, still new at initiating their loving. They had free time and he knew where he wanted to be, in her arms leaving each other breathless.
"Love, the lantern is already outside the door." They made prompt steps back to his chamber.

Catherine turned over and sighed deeply. "This just gets better and better!"
Vincent smiled. "Better than best!"
She snuggled into his arms. "Mrs. Swanson is a Helper? I never knew."
"Not for many years. We respect when people leave us. She knew Mitch.
" By the way love I'm not complaining but when I mentioned a reward ... I was actually talking about for mouse not us." Catherine grinned. Vincent laughed. "What do you have in mind?"
"Well, since his trap proved so effective...perhaps the materials to create more traps?"
"They will catch us more often than intruders," he reminded her.
"Not if we're...very careful!"
"I'll suggest it."

Father paled at the suggestion. "Catherine.. while your offer is..generous. I'm not sure how well thought out it would be to give Mouse free reign on getting materials from Above.Remember the plastic explosives?"

"That saved our lives." Vincent added.
"Yes, Mouse tends to to that." Father mused, his eyeglasses half way down the bridge of his nose. "All right Catherine.. make your offer to Mouse, but for all our sakes please keep an eye on his choices." She nodded & smiled up at Vincent over the small victory.

Mouse was a bit confused at first. "Vincent's Catherine find, take?"

"No buy it." So with a list she carefully scrutinized Catherine did some shopping. "So that's all ya need Ma'am?" The burly male cashier smiled as he rang up what she had put in a couple carts. "Whatcha need all the rope for?"

"Let's just say I am friends with people who like a certain lifestyle..."

He blushed,changed the subject. Sharing the laugh with Kanin he gathered up her purchases and they headed to her car.

"If we even told them, they wouldn't believe it!"

Catherine agreed, "I think Father will be pleased with the projects"

"Mary I'm sure will be interested as well." Kanin nodded to Catherine. Mouse took the supplies at the tunnel entrance and scurried off to get started.


Catherine entered Father's study. "Mouse should be busy for quite a while with his new projects."
Father rose to embrace her. "I've been informed I should not worry, Mouse cannot possibly cause trouble with the items you acquired for him."
"We'll see!" She laughed as Vincent came up beside her.
Father returned to his book. Catherine whispered to Vincent "You told him Mouse couldn't cause trouble?"

"In my defense I had to calm the frantic look on Father's face when he saw the list." Vincent chuckled.

"Vincent, if you would read to me, I really relax after all today's activities"
His Bond sand with her need to be close to him, hungry for her beside him, he agreed and they left for his chamber.
"Read? that's a clever way to get me alone!"
She smirked. "I DO like how you read! But...yes, I want some alone time with you. Just to...breathe."
Vincent opened his arms and she flew into them, hugging him hard. He bent his head, nuzzling her cheek, then kissed her warmly.
"Get a room!" Cullen said as he passed. Vincent cut his eyes back with a sly grin."Catherine, I felt a strong urge within our Bond, dare I say, I share that emotion."
"Vincent, I love when you share. What did you have in mind?"
"Romance, loving, feeling, exchanging kisses."
"Share on, love!"

Mouse stepped back to admire his work. All that was left to do was to put it in place. For that he needed Vincent's help. A request for Vincent's help went out on the pipes.

When Vincent didn't reply, Mouse headed for his Chamber. Mouse being Mouse barreled in without notice to the lantern at the entrance.

"Vincent!" Mouse announced "Project done -" Mouse came to an abrupt halt. The couple stifled their amusement at the sudden intrusion.

Vincent's acute hearing caught an odd sound, rolling over he hide Catherine behind within quilts and pillows.
"Wow, Vincent, Must be hot, without a shirt!"
Hidden behind her love's chest she stifled a giggle as Vincent drew her closer
'sleep now?'
'Yes!'
"Project-" Mouse began like a broken record.

"Can wait till LATER, Mouse." Vincent firmly interjected.

Mouse knew not to question that tone."OK. Later.Won't forget?"

"I will not forget." Vincent confirmed through clenched teeth.Mouse sulked, but left.
Laughter followed him out of the chamber.
"How many unlit lanterns do you think it will take for him to notice them?" Catherine mused, still smiling.
"When he's focused on a goal, nothing else penetrates his concentration. Unluckily for us."
"Come here."

The next day at the office Catherine couldn't wipe the grin off her face. "You look like the cat who swallowed the canary, Ratcliff." Joe teased.

"No canary involved." her grin widened. He simply shook his head then continued to his office.

Below, Vincent dug through scrap wood in Cullen wood shop.
"I got the wood for the project at the site already!"
"Different project, Cullen." He kept digging until he had what he needed."I'll be busy elsewhere for about 4 hours" his voice was definite.
"OK, Vin" Vincent hauled the planks to his chamber where he framed and built a double door. In his chest he found a door knocker, perfect for his needs.
Satisfied he headed to join the other work crew.
Cullen eyed his stature,'everything ok?'
'It's now' he grinned. Joe watched Cathy clear her desk, "Whatever you did, do it again. I like happy staff!" She shook her head and made tracks to her apt. changed her shoes and headed Below.
Strong hands encircled her waist as she descended the ladder."Good Evening, Love"
"What has you smiling, Vincent?"
"Just wait. You will smile too, I promise."
They approached Vincent's chamber and Catherine's puzzlement melted into a grin, and then into a laugh. A sturdy wooden door was bolted into place where the open doorway was. Once they were together on the other side of that door.Vincent did everything in his power to test its 'soundproofing' and none of the Tunnel folk heard a thing. They did wonder where Vincent and Catherine were,but Father understood and Kanin & Livy knew.

Vincent and Catherine didn't have all the answers about what the rest of their lives would bring, where they would make their home or whom they would share their secret with. All they knew was that with love, all things were possible. Years and years later:
"g'night Dad, Mom!" (many times)
"g'night Jake"
"g'night Carolyn"
"g'night Petey"
"g'night Jen"
"g'night Joey"
Vincent gusts, "GOODNIGHT CHILDREN" and Catherine swoons, "Goodnight, lover"