Classic Round Robin ~ Chapter 8

by  Amber

 

Janette going into labor was just the diversion Catherine was praying for. The excitement distracted everyone. Catherine and Charles had barely been able to finish their lunch. When they had said goodbye, Charles had let her know of his disappointment over never having gotten an answer from her. Catherine apologized in the way she had when she was a girl anytime she had wanted to get away with something. The need to get back to the office was the perfect excuse to delay the conversation a little longer, and Charles accepted it. Between the pleading look in his little girl's eyes and the pride he felt in her dedication for her work, he would have forgiven her anything in that moment. When they parted ways, Charles immediately called to arrange a meeting with Helena. It was his best excuse to have Catherine to himself and try to get the answers he'd been searching for.

*****

Catherine found herself lounging in the warmth of Vincent's arms. It had been surprisingly easy to persuade him to come inside and spend the evening on her couch by the fire. She attributed this to their newfound closeness. There was an overwhelming sense of hope and possibility that seemed to envelope them any time they were near or connecting with each other through their bond. It was . . . exquisite. That had been the word to come to both their minds when trying to describe this new turn their journey had taken. While their time together had been so peaceful and loving, Catherine could also feel from him an underlying sense of sadness and discontent. She lifted her head to look at him and saw those feeling reflected in his eyes as his distant gaze lost its way into the crackling fire.

"Vincent? What is it? What's wrong?"

He sighed, his eyes dropping his gaze.

"Please tell me," she pleaded, knowing he would shake his head and try to dismiss his own feelings in an effort to spare her. But this time he knew better. He knew she felt everything. He knew they had passed the point of hiding from one another. While this new closeness between them was something to rejoice for, he was also terrified by it. Running and hiding had been a habit he'd had all his life, born out of necessity. It was how he'd survived all these years. Now, to be so exposed to someone, he felt his center of gravity shaken. In Catherine, all of who he was or ever hoped to be, all of his largest dreams and fears were reflected back at him. Being exposed to Catherine wasn't what he was afraid of. It was facing himself that he had never had the courage for. In his youth, he had nearly killed himself to avoid it.

He sighed heavily before he spoke, never looking at her. "Catherine, do remember what we were discussing that night in the park before the attack?"

Catherine's mind brought back the events of that night with ease and sadness. Her heart dropped as she remembered Vincent's confession about wishing that a magic strong enough to transform him existed. She had chastised herself for bringing it up. Now, she found herself filled with regret once again.

"I remember," she said softly. "The trees . . . the magic . . . .”

"Yes," he nodded. His voice trailed off for a moment and there was a heavy silence between them as he gathered his thoughts. "Being here with you like this reminds me of all those dreams I had. Being in this room reminds me of that magic I wished so desperately for. After I found you, I found myself wishing that your love and our bond might be the magic I had hoped for that could transform me into the . . . man I wanted to be."

The tone in his voice as the word man was pushed from his lips broke her heart. With tears in her eyes, she gently placed her hand on his cheek to turn his face towards her. "Vincent, don't you see? How could you ever wish to be just a man when you are so much more than that. What you are and what we have is the most real and magical thing I've ever known or dreamed of. I don't want anyone else. Yes, there are things I wish for us, for you. But I could never wish for another life. I could never wish for anything else. Even with our limitations, we are so much more than I could have hoped for, Vincent. And we don't know what the limits are. We're still finding our way. There's so much out there for us. I know it. This . . . ." her voice trailed off just before she pressed her lips to his in the most agonizingly sweet way, "is proof enough. We're just beginning, Vincent. Let me show you how much I love you. Let my love be a way to show you how precious and wonderful you are."

His eyes filled with tears as she kissed him once more. For the rest of the night, they held each other tight, exploring kisses and a new found tenderness. Catherine willed all of her love and reassurance to him. There had to be a way to make him see how truly wonderful he was. She would find a way to prove it.

*****

Since she hadn't been able to meet them for lunch as she'd planned, Kay joined Charles and Catherine for their meeting with Helena. Catherine was grateful for Kay's presence that evening. She'd kept Charles in check throughout dinner, much to his dismay. Catherine had been grateful for Kay's presence in her father's life for many other reasons as well. It set her heart at ease knowing her father wasn't alone and had someone who loved him looking after him, especially since she had left the firm and was no longer living at home. The distance that had grown between them since she went to work for the D.A.'s office had worried her. Yet, every time she saw him with Kay, her fears subsided, and she felt happy knowing he'd found someone to love. He had needed that. Throughout her life, she had seen the loneliness the absence of her mother had brought him. As she grew older and more aware of just how much the love of a partner could bring, her hopes and concerns for her father grew. She pondered this throughout the concert. As she thought of this, she began to realize that her concerns for her father weren't so very different from the one's he'd been expressing so insistently for her.

If I just had a way to ease his mind . . . if only I could tell him, he'd know. He'd understand and he'd be at ease knowing I had it all.

The news of his heart condition concerned her as well. With the business to run and his health in jeopardy, he didn't need to be worrying about her. Catherine's guilt slowly began to grow again and eat away at her. She felt like all she did was cause him worry and stress. Hadn't he had enough in his life? He deserved some peace and contentment. Why wasn't there an easier way for all of the people she loved to come together and enjoy their loves and happiness? It shouldn't be this hard, should it? The feeling of her father's hand squeezing hers brought her back into the moment. He had seen the turmoil in her emotions playing out across her face. She smiled at him and patted his hand in reassurance.

Good one, Chandler.

At the same time, she had felt Vincent's concern coming to her in their bond. A soft smile played across her face and a two way flow of reassuring love ran freely between them. In that moment, Catherine's heart jumped as she focused on the stage. Those were Vincent's gloves! A man that had just joined Helena on stage for a duet was wearing Vincent's gloves! Seeing those precious gloves worn by another man made her slightly angry. At the same time, seeing a part of Vincent there, Above, before her very eyes was exhilarating to her. It made her feel as if he were close and far away at the same time. Her heart began to yearn for him. Catherine was determined to get them back as soon as the concert was done. Those were Vincent's favorite gloves, her Vincent. They belonged to him, and he belonged to her. They belonged to each other.

*****

The energy backstage was tangible, and all the bustling made Catherine's heart even more anxious. When Charles knocked on Helena's door, she opened it with a smile. He was rewarded with a kiss on each cheek and an enthusiastic embrace.

"Charles! It's so good to see you!"

He blushed a little. "It's wonderful to see you! Helena, I'd like you to meet my daughter, Catherine."

Catherine was also given a kiss on each cheek. "Your performance was incredible,” she said. “I enjoyed it very much."

Helena smiled gratefully. "Thank you, my dear."

"You're very talented. You have a beautiful voice."

Helena hid her face as if she were blushing. "You're too kind."

Charles pulled Kay closer. "You remember Kay don't you?"

Helena embraced her with a new surge of energy. "Of course! How lovely to see you again!"

Catherine tried the best way she could think of to direct the conversation toward the gloves. "The man you sang the duet with was quite talented as well. You sang beautifully together."

"Oh yes! Gerard. He's a dear friend."

"Your outfits were wonderful as well. I couldn't help but notice the gloves he was wearing for that last song," Catherine continued.

"Oh aren't they lovely? I loaned them to him for the concert. I thought they were just perfect."

"May I ask where you got them? A dear friend of mine had a pair that looked just like them that were lost. I'd love to find a replacement for them."

Helena ushered them in to sit down as she brushed her hair. "You'll never believe this, but I traded one of my cloaks for them with a homeless woman who came up to me in the park the other night."

Catherine tried to act surprised. "Really? That's so funny. It was in the park that he . . . my friend lost them. I don't suppose you'd consider selling them?"

"I wouldn't dream of it," Helena exclaimed as she rose from her chair to take something from her bag. She pulled out the gloves and placed them into Catherine's hands. "I insist you get them back to where they belong. They're too precious. Besides, they've had their turn out here with me."

Catherine smiled gratefully and held them with a tenderness that no one could miss. "Thank you, Helena. That's very kind of you."

Charles had a rather difficult time keeping up friendly chit chat with Helena for the short while that they stayed with her. Catherine knew there was no avoiding him after this, and that she would have to think up some answers fast. She held the gloves tight as they walked out to the car and prayed they would give her the courage and strength she needed to face him. Once they were in the car, Charles studied her for a moment.

"It was you in the park that night wasn't it, Catherine?"

She took a deep breath.

 

 

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