Dreams of Thee

Chapter 12

 

Together they had washed and dried the dishes and tidied up the kitchen.  Vincent found some music on the radio, and they settled before the fire.  “Would you like me to read to you?”

“Perhaps later. Right now, I would prefer to cuddle in your arms and have you hold me.”

Vincent stretched his long legs toward the fire as Catherine turned around to snuggle against his chest.  His arms wrapped around her, and a small sigh escaped his lips. Having her in his arms was something which even now brought him the greatest of joy, and a peaceful contentment filled his heart.  The music rose and ebbed over them, taking them to magical places within their minds.

Suddenly the room was filled with the sounds of squealing tires and gun shots as the music was interrupted for a live, on-the-spot crime report.  They had been so lost within each other and the music that they both jerked at the interruption.  The report went on for several minutes, detailing the events happening in the darkened streets.  As suddenly as it had started, the report finished and the music once again filled the room.

Vincent felt Catherine trembling, curling into a ball, her fingers digging into his chest as some unseen force gripped her body.  “Catherine, what is it?  What has frightened you?”

He looked down at her, gently pulling her face away from his chest.  Her eyes were filled with terror.  Her mouth was open, and though there was no sound, Vincent knew she was screaming.  Through their bond, he tried to reach her, but her terror was so great he was unable to penetrate beyond a terrible blackness and consuming pain.  The pain was intense, so deep he felt it course through his own body, consuming him with heat and intensity as it burned ever brighter.  The silent scream continued for several moments, then Catherine’s eyes rolled back as she fainted.

Vincent gathered her into his arms, carried her into the bedroom and laid her gently on the bed.  He got a cool wash cloth from the bathroom and applied it to the inside of her wrists.  After several anxious moments, her eyelids fluttered.

“Vincent, Vincent, don’t let them hurt me, please don’t let them . . . .” Her voice rose higher.

“Catherine, I’m here.  You’re safe, no one is going to hurt you. You’re safe, I promise you.”  His voice was filled with love.

Her arms slid around him as he cooed soothing sounds to her, gathering her onto his lap; and she curled into a ball, her legs drawn up against her chest.  Slowly, Catherine’s sobs ceased and the shuddering stopped.  He held and rocked her, stroking her hair, continuing to soothe her with his voice and the light touch of his hands.

Vincent could feel her turmoil.  He sensed the fear which gripped her and her struggle to gain control, to push down the terror which was destroying her from the inside.

“Catherine, please, try to tell me of this terror you feel. I can feel the fear inside, consuming you.”

Each time she attempted to speak, the sobbing would renew itself with a stronger intensity.  He shifted slightly in an attempt to make her more comfortable, but this caused a new, stronger wave of shaking and moaning.  “It’s all right, Catherine. You’re safe in my arms. I won’t let go; I only sought to make you more comfortable.”

This brought about a short nod of her head but she kept her face buried in his chest.  Her arms were wrapped so tightly around him, he was amazed at her strength.  As she sobbed, Vincent searched his mind for what had been said just prior to her state of turmoil.  He could find nothing in their conversation which could have caused such intense pain.

The turmoil had started within moments of the live radio broadcast and, with careful attention to detail, Vincent sought to replay the words, the sounds they had heard in those brief moments.  While his mind tried to find the specific thing which had upset her, he continued stroking her trembling body.  Whatever it was, it had no connection with him, for there was no fear of him within Catherine.

A flash of feeling passed through Catherine, so fleeting, so faint, it was almost lost within all the burning love he possessed for her; he captured those feelings, encircling them with his consuming love, and filled the space within her terrified mind with his love. Vincent was seized by a rage which he fought to control against this unseen force which terrorized his love.

“I won’t let go.  I’m only going to make you more comfortable.  Don’t be afraid; I promise I won’t let go.” Vincent rose with Catherine still wrapped tightly in his arms, one arm supporting her back and waist and the other holding her tightly drawn-up legs.  Turning, he gently lowered her body and himself to the bed, never releasing his constant grip. Finally, he was able to ease her from the fetal position she was in, and as soon as her legs stretched out, he covered her body with his own.

Catherine’s grip around Vincent’s body did not loosen, and she continued to keep her face buried.  A momentary fear crossed his mind, but he dismissed it immediately as he allowed his full weight to press against her.

“Catherine, try to feel our bond and our love. My body is covering you. Nothing will harm you.  Believe, please, believe, I will allow no harm to come to you.”

Steadily Vincent repeated his words.  He felt the fear start to diminish.  Vincent constantly stroked her hair with his free hand, doing all within his power to release her from the pain.

Vincent eased his weight slightly, fearing ashe always did that he would injure her if he allowed his full weight to remain on top of her for too long.  As he moved, he felt Catherine’s arms pulling against him.

Vincent felt the increased strengthening of the bond and he knew Catherine was fighting to free herself, to return to him.  He knew this terror was a large part of the problems Peter had mentioned.  He knew the next hours would be critical to whether Catherine regained her eyesight, and he silently prayed that he was capable of finding the key to unlock her terror.

“Vincent.” Catherine’s voice was weak. “I’m sorry I spoiled our evening together.”  Her voice was tired, strained like a small, lost child, and totally unlike Catherine’s normal tone.

“How could holding you spoil our evening?” Vincent strove to make his voice light, to not allow his deep concerns to frighten her.  He gently drew Catherine’s face upward, tracing the shape of it with one long finger, and then he kissed her very softly.  A tear fell on Catherine’s face as Vincent lifted his lips from hers.  “I love you more than I ever knew it was possible to love.  All that I am or ever hope to be is because of you and your love.”

“I’m so very tired.  My head is pounding. I feel so sweaty, soiled...dirty....” Her voice was a bare whisper, yet the venom behind the words found their way directly to Vincent’s heart.

“Would you like me to give you a bath, and then I could massage away your headache?”

Catherine’s voice was flat, almost lifeless. “I don’t wish to be any trouble to you.”

“Bathing you, caring for you, is no trouble.  It is my pleasure to take care of you.”  Vincent eased his body from hers, rose and started toward the bathroom. “Vincent . . . don’t leave me!”  Her voice was a high, hysterical wail that pierced his heart like a dagger. Instantly he was at her side.  “Catherine, forgive me,” Vincent murmured against her ear as he gathered her into his arms.  “I didn’t mean to frighten you. I won’t leave you, not even for a moment.” Her thin body shook as he held her. Lifting her, he strode toward the bathroom.

Without releasing her, he filled the tub and gently lowered her into the warm soothing water.  His long arm reached for a towel.  Spreading it out on the floor, he rolled it into a pillow, placed it behind Catherine’s head, and eased her back until she was almost floating in the water. Vincent’s one hand rested gently under her back, and the other lightly massaged Catherine’s temples, seeking to capture the pain which caused her pounding headache.

Periodically Vincent added warmer water, and slowly he could feel that warmth penetrate Catherine’s coldness.  He eased her slowly upward and began lathering a cloth.  The person Vincent bathed was not his Catherine.  This person sat with her head down, shoulders rolled forward.  Vincent drained the tub, then refilled it again with warm water and rinsed all traces of soap from her.  He lifted Catherine from the tub, rubbed her body briskly with a large towel until she was dried then carried her back to bed.  Vincent laid her carefully on her stomach and with gentle hands he began to massage her tense body. He could feel her slipping in and out of fear, struggling to surmount her terror.  He turned her over, tenderly massaging the tight muscles in Catherine’s normally strong calves. Vincent worked patiently until the muscle relaxed under the insistent but gentle, loving pressure.

At his request, Catherine raised her head and he slipped behind her, curving his body so her head rested on his lap. His long graceful fingers gently massaged the pounding pulse at her temples, stroking and easing the pressure.  The whole time Vincent ministered to her body, he spoke in low gentle words, soothing her with whispered words of love.

Vincent continued to stroke her temples long after he sensed she was sleeping. Cradling her head with one hand, he slipped down beside her in the bed to briefly stretch his own taut muscles before gathering her close.  Instinctively, Catherine moved toward him, seeking his protection.

Sleep eluded Vincent.  Instead, he held his beloved close to his powerful body as his mind explored the avenues he might use to help her return fully to him.  Catherine whimpered in her restless sleep, and he soothed away the fears.  Vincent freed himself from his own thoughts, opening completely the bond between them, seeking to capture the source of her pain and torment.

The consuming, sharp pain tore through Vincent’s mind, causing shock waves to ripple through his body.  His hand involuntarily flew to his face as the searing, acute pain rained down.  The extreme intensity of it repeated again and again as Vincent fought for control.  Fine beads of sweat were clearly visible along his upper lip as another wave of excruciating pain racked his body; searing pain tore into him as he forced their bond to open wider.  He was inside Catherine’s mind now, and all of her pain, rage, anguish and terror filled Vincent as he fought to surmount the pain and surround it with his love.  Catherine’s screams filled his mind as her body jerked violently, shuddered, and then was stilled.  The fiery pain was gone, replaced by a black oblivion.

Moments slipped away before Vincent was free of the agony he had experienced with Catherine.  His body was bathed in sweat from the heat of the struggle, his muscles still taut from the very real emotional battle he had endured.  Slowly, his head began to clear and his awareness of his own body and mind fully returned.

He was alarmed by Catherine’s ashy color, her shallow and erratic breathing.  He eased his arm from beneath her still body, rose and made his way to the living room.  Picking up the phone, he quickly pushed the numbers to Peter’s private, unlisted phone.  After two short rings, Peter’s sleepy voice answered. 

“Peter, this is Vincent.  Please come to Catherine’s apartment immediately.  She needs you.”

“What has happened?”

“Peter, just come.  I can’t explain on the phone, but please come as quickly as possible.”

Peter started to ask Vincent specifically what happened, but he realized the line had gone dead.  Dressing quickly, Peter grabbed his medical bag and keys and headed out the door.  Traffic would not be a problem this late, and he knew he could be at Catherine’s door within thirty minutes.

During the last two years, each time the secret combination to the underground garage had changed, Catherine had given a new card to Peter, allowing him access to the building and enabling him to avoid the doorman and lobby security. He drove into the garage, and he again was grateful for Catherine’s forethought in providing him this means to reach her without unnecessary questions.

Moments later, Peter was lightly knocking on the door to Catherine’s apartment.  Vincent answered almost immediately, causing Peter to wonder if he had been standing beside the door.  Together they crossed toward the bedroom, talking in hushed tones.  Peter quietly began to examine Catherine, his eyes missing nothing, as he assessed the source of Vincent’s panic-filled summons.

Vincent sat opposite Peter as he examined Catherine.  Finally Peter motioned for Vincent to follow him into the living room.  Peter sat on the sofa, indicating with a nod of his head for Vincent to do likewise.

“Now, tell me everything that happened, leaving out nothing, no matter how small or personally embarrassing this may be for you.”

Vincent found his voice growing stronger as he told Peter all that had happened.  Peter interrupted him only occasionally to ask pointed questions.  Peter was aware of Vincent’s embarrassment at having to relate such intimate details and he tried to make the telling as painless as possible.

Vincent found it difficult to look directly at Peter after he had finished, but he forced his dark, intense blue eyes upward and was reassured by the caring he witnessed in Peter’s dark eyes.  A large lump rose in Vincent’s throat, one which made speech difficult and caused his breathing to be erratic.

Peter reached out, acutely aware of Vincent’s emotional state, and grasped the larger, fur-covered hand in his own, hoping to reassure Vincent.  “Medically, Vincent, I couldn’t fault your actions or words to Cathy.  You did all the right things, accomplishing them far better than the best trained therapist. Cathy is suffering from a deep post-traumatic shock, something she has kept buried since the night you found her in the park.  This has festered within her mind, along with the deep frustrations she has felt because of the lack of physical love between you, and the very secret of your existence and your world.”

Vincent’s head jerked up at Peter’s words. “Then I am a part of Catherine’s pain, her anguish!”  His voice broke, and the tears cascaded down Vincent’s face as he fully realized the extent of Catherine’s problems.  His massive shoulders shook as fresh pain washed over Vincent, echoing to the depths of his soul.

“No, Vincent, you must not think that.  The complexities of Cathy’s pain are many, and seeking to blame yourself for her anguish is foolish on your part.”

Vincent wanted with all his heart to believe Peter, but the years of self-doubt were long and his happiness with Catherine short-lived.  As Peter watched, he clearly saw the longing on Vincent’s face, the doubt, fears and overwhelming need to believe he was not completely responsible for Catherine’s pain.

“The problem is Cathy’s, and we must deal with it – not make it our own, but help her to survive and surmount it. Somehow we must find a way to allow her the freedom to either physically release or verbalize this rage, this anger which is consuming her.  Keeping it locked inside her, or only allowing you to experience it through your bond, will not free her. I want you to listen very carefully and do as I suggest.  Will you do this for Cathy?”

The first false light of dawn streaked the sky before Peter finished outlining his plan.  There was fear in Vincent’s eyes as he reluctantly agreed.  Peter and Vincent returned to the bedroom together, and Peter again checked Catherine’s respiration, more to satisfy Vincent than for medical reasons.  Peter knew Catherine would sleep for hours in her exhausted state.  He knew he was dealing with two patients here, both of whom he loved and who were special beyond words to him.

 

Chapter 13

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