Dreams of Thee

Chapter 16

 

The solitude closed around Vincent after Father’s departure, leaving him agitated and anxious.  He tried to read but quickly abandoned the book after reading the same page three times. He moved restlessly about and then quickly went to the bedroom.

Satisfied Catherine was sleeping soundly, Vincent stepped into the bathroom, stripped off his clothing, and stepped into the shower.  The steamy hot water beat down upon him as he lathered his body.  His fingers were gentle as he rubbed the soap across the tender areas of his stomach.

Vincent was surprised when he saw his reflection as he dried off, so dark and large was the bruise.  No wonder it was tender, he thought, as he wrapped a towel around his hips and went to get clean clothing.  Unsure of what Catherine would remember upon awakening or how she would react to the sight of him, Vincent quickly dressed.  Looking at her as he dressed, he remembered how soft her body felt against his skin, and he was filled with the desire to hold her and experience the joy of their union.  His own skin grew warm with his memories.

He sat beside Catherine for several hours, aware of her but lost within his thoughts. It was only when his chin thudded against his chest, bringing him sharply awake with a jerk, that he realized how physically tired he was, and he moved to lie beside Catherine.

Vincent awakened with a start, unsure of what had interrupted his slumber.  He drifted for several moments and then he felt movement behind him as Catherine curled against him.  Catherine’s face was pressed against his back and he was aware of her soft, even breathing as it gently stirred the golden down on his broad shoulders through the light shirt he wore. “Catherine,” he whispered into the silent room, but only Catherine’s rhythmic breathing filled the room.

Her arm was draped across Vincent’s waist and he curled his fingers over hers.  Vincent sought Catherine through their bond, and he knew, beyond doubt, she was in a deep sleep.  He closed his eyes again and tried to sleep.

“Vincent? Vincent?”

He rolled over, gathering Catherine in his arms. “I’m here,” he whispered against her forehead.

Catherine drew herself closer, her fingers lightly tracing his face as she snuggled against his shoulder. “My body aches like I have been ill with a virus. I’m terribly thirsty; my mouth feels like cotton.”

“Would you like me to help you to the bathroom?”

“Yes.”

“Call if you need me,” Vincent said as he closed the door. Quietly he went to the kitchen, filled a pitcher with ice cubes and water, and returned to the bedroom.  He moved toward the bed then straightened the covers and sat down to wait.

She seems to know me; she isn’t afraid of me, and she can see, Vincent thought as he waited.  He was completely astounded at the scope of this thought.  He looked up as the door opened and Catherine was silhouetted against the light.  His heart pounded loudly as she clicked off the light and walked toward him.

Catherine stepped into his waiting arms and, though she wasn’t sure of the details, she knew they had experienced a traumatic event together.  “Please, kiss me, then tell me what has happened.  Some things I remember, some details are missing, but I know something serious has happened.  I feel so free, so I don’t know how else to tell you except free. Light, as if a large burden is no longer weighing me down.  I can face anything as long as you love me and we can be together. Please, I want so much to kiss you.”

Vincent’s mouth silenced her. His lips lightly touched hers and she tasted of toothpaste and sweetness as her lips parted.  Vincent pulled her closer as the emotions he had sought to contain throughout this ordeal boiled to the surface. “Catherine,” his voice whispered against her mouth as he covered her face with kisses. “I love you.”

Catherine plunged her hands into the wild tangle of fiery, golden hair, drawing his mouth down to hers as she sought more than the light kisses Vincent pressed upon her.  She captured his sensitive lower lip between her teeth then released it as her tongue darted inside to caress. A soft moan came from deep within her as Vincent’s tongue moved to caress the sensitive flesh of her mouth.  Slowly they drew apart, their eyes locked as they pledged anew their love.

Having settled comfortably together, Vincent kissed Catherine on the forehead and began to speak. “What happened between us was the most devastating experience of my life.  I was helpless; I could not save you, and knowing I wasn’t even truly aware of your suffering is a pain within me which will never cease.” His voice trembled as he spoke.

“I think it would be best if you tell me what you remember. Peter instructed me on many things, and it is important that you must either verbalize your fears or physically release them; that you have already done.”

“Before I tell you what I remember, there is something I must do.”  Catherine rose to her knees, turned to face him, and began to unlace his shirt, pulling until she had it free from his jeans; as she murmured, “Help me,” Vincent drew the shirt over his head.  She stared at him, drinking in the sight of his broad shoulders, the fully developed expanse of chest muscles where she had always felt such warmth when he held her, the muscles that rippled down his arms. Catherine continued to stare and Vincent was beginning to feel the old fears rising.

“Oh, Vincent, you are more beautiful than I dreamed, beyond anything I dared to dream” Her hands splayed across his chest as she reveled in the sight.  “When I was blind, I didn’t think I would ever know the sight of you again; I tried to satisfy myself with the feel of you, but now!  Now, I can see and touch you!

“Vincent, your body is beautiful . . . so beautiful. Would you . . . could . . . .  I want to see all of you. Oh, please, Vincent, I have waited so long. I love you. I don’t want to wait. I want to look at you now. I need to see you. Please, Vincent, let me look at you.” 

Her green eyes begged him to understand her desperate need to view his body.  “You humble me.  How can I deny you?  To be here like this is beyond all I dared to dream, and now, to hear you say you want to . . . .” His voice was choking as a large knot formed in his throat.  His chest rose as he tried to control his rapid breathing.

Catherine leaned forward, kissing away the tears which clung to his lashes. “I love you,” Catherine said as she kissed him, releasing all the love she felt.  She was breathless and shaking as she drew away.  His hands trailed down her arms, wanting to draw her back, to hold her against his body again.

Catherine sat on her heels, her eyes caressing him, and before she could speak, Vincent rolled off the bed, unzipped his jeans and quickly stepped out of them and lay down beside her.  Her eyes found his and she stared into the deep blue sea until Vincent felt she saw his very soul.  Slowly her eyes lowered, and she viewed his upper torso, then they dropped lower.  A faint flush colored her face, her hand rested against her wildly pounding heart, and her eyes sparkled, telling him how pleasing, how delightful, she found this unrestrained view.  She opened her mouth, trying to tell him, but was incapable of speech.

Her eyes traveled over the length of his hard muscled body and then, once aware of the bruise, it became her whole focus.  “Vincent, how did . . . .” and then she stopped, green eyes riveted to deep blue, and slowly tears ran down her face.

“It’s nothing.” He hesitated for a brief moment, then his long, tapered fingers traced the trail of her tears.

Catherine looked down at the bruise and back to her own bandaged left hand.  A tidal wave of emotion played across her mind, and suddenly her hands flew to her face in horror. “Oh, God, no, Vincent. I did that to you . . . it was you.  I . . . I hurt you.”

“Yes.”

“Why?  I love you; why would I hurt you?”

“Try to tell me what you remember, please.”

The tears continued to flow, and slowly Catherine gathered her strength.  Vincent waited patiently, allowing Catherine time to gain control of her whirling emotions. 

She started to talk then, her voice rising and falling as her emotions took control.  Vincent listened, asking a few questions, but listening and allowing Catherine to freely vent all the long-held secrets.  Listening, Vincent knew buried within himself were such secrets, secrets which had remained hidden to fester too long.

The room began to grow light, and still Catherine talked.  And as she cried, the tears began the healing and formed a deeper core of strength, strength to support her through all things, a foundation of tempered steel.

“Catherine, tell me what happened in the van before you were thrown out in the park.”

“Nothing...nothing else happened.” Her voice began to quiver. “I told you—he cut my face with a razor.”

“Is that the complete truth, Catherine?”  His gentle eyes probed while telling her of his love and acceptance of her and whatever she would say.

Catherine tried to avert her eyes, but Vincent’s piercing stare commanded.  Again, she tried to look elsewhere, and again Vincent’s very presence drew her back to his soulful eyes.

“I . . . nothing happened; why do you badger me?”

“Do I badger you?”

“I told you once.  Nothing happened.  He cut me.  He didn’t . . . .” Catherine’s voice stopped abruptly, her fists opening and closing.

“He didn’t what?”

“Vincent, please stop?  Why must you question me? I thought you loved me!”  Her eyes begged him to cease the questions.

Please, dear God, let me do this for her sake, Vincent silently prayed.  “I question you, Catherine, because I love you.”

“No! If you loved me, you would leave me in peace. You wouldn’t force me to remember something so painful, so horrible. I can’t, don’t ask. Just stop! Leave me alone; please don’t do this, Vincent, please.”

“Leave you in peace, Catherine?  If I leave you with this so-called peace, it will destroy you.”

“Then it will destroy me!  I won’t tell you.  I can’t tell you. You would leave me, hate me if you knew the truth!”

“Catherine, does my love mean so little? You have witnessed death at my hands; did you leave me?”

Catherine’s face began to shatter under the coldness of Vincent’s words.  Her hand reached out for the warmth she had always known, but just as quickly, she drew back.

“But, what you did . . . what he did. You . . . protected me, saved me. He hurt me.”

“You are alive, Catherine. There are people dead because of me!  They have family who mourn them. Yes. I protected you, and I would do it again, but that doesn’t change it—they’re DEAD!”

 “B-b-b-ut…you couldn’t, you never . . . .”

“Couldn’t what?  Never what?  Say it, Catherine; tell me, now!”  Vincent’s voice was filled with a quiet, deadly rage, a rage which filled his voice with a calm that was more frightening because he spoke just above a whisper.

“He cut me.”

“I know that!  What else did he do to you?”

“He . . . he cut my face. It hurt.  The blood filled my eyes, I begged him . . . I screamed, but he wouldn’t stop . . . .”  The words held so long inside began tumbling out, falling over each other to escape.  “He kept cutting me.  He wouldn’t stop hitting me.

“He . . . no, please, don’t hurt me, don’t.”

“What did he do?”

“He . . . raped me . . . he . . . raped me!”

Her words hung in deadly silence.  Only the sound of her ragged breathing could be heard, then her hysterical sobs filled the room as tears cascaded down her face.  Catherine’s face was a mask of tortured, anguished pain.

Tenderly, Vincent placed his hands on her shoulders, making contact with her, but keeping her at arm’s length, wanting her to see his face when he told her. He held her, supporting her until the first waves of anguish had subsided.  “Catherine, you were not physically raped.”

Catherine’s head snapped up.

“Catherine, when I took you Below, after Father tended the worst of your wounds, he and Mary examined you.  From what you kept saying, the way you reacted, both Father and Mary thought you had been raped.  But they found no traces of blood or semen.”

“No! That’s not true!  He raped me.”

“Catherine, he didn’t rape your body. He raped your mind!

“Peter told me I must recreate within your mind that night, to make you relive all that happened, all that was done to you.  After I made you relive it, through our bond, I felt all that happened, all that was done to you.  I felt the razor slashing your face. I felt your pain, the horror of what he did.

“You blocked it all out, buried it so deeply within yourself that even I was unable to detect it.

“He threatened to rape you, he told you in minute detail—what he was going to do, but, Catherine, he did not physically rape you.  The raping of your spirit and your mind were just as severe, as traumatic.  He tried to destroy your body with the razor and your mind with his demented mental torture.”

Catherine’s head pounded, her senses reeled.  The very core of all she had lived with and endured had been eroded with his words.  The world spun, shattering the truth, and gave back yet another truth she was unable to accept.

“No, I don’t believe you.” The green eyes were filled with terror and yet there was a tiny faint hope that what she had believed, endured, had not happened.

“Catherine, look at me.” The vivid blue of Vincent’s eyes had turned a deep almost-navy, so intense were his feelings.  “Catherine,” he repeated, “look at me. You accepted me for all that I amBy that very acceptance, you gave me all I had ever dreamed and more.

“The truth has been the foundation on which our relationship has been built.  Do you honestly believe I would lie to you concerning something as important and vital to your well-being?

“Had I but known, I would have spared you all this suffering.  If you had asked, or reacted differently than you did upon awakening, Father, Mary or I would have talked about it.  It was after I found you that I became aware of our bond, our connection, my ability to feel what you felt, what you thought.  But in those brief moments before I became fully aware of you, in those moments, you submerged it so deeply, I had no knowledge.

“Catherine, you are my life. Don’t you know, believe, if I had known you thought this, I would have told you?”

“Vincent.” Her voice was so weak, so soft, Vincent leaned forward to hear. “I’m confused; I don’t know what the truth is.”

“I understand you are confused.  To have lived with this, buried it as deeply as you did, but to never have been consciously aware of any of these events while they ate away at your mind would cause you to be confused.  You have suffered a deep shock; you need time to accept and to heal.

“You have denied what happened from the very moment it happened.  Yet it stayed locked within, a cancer within your mind, eating away at your soul. What he did to you was unspeakable, vile, and heinous.”

“It was . . . it was so real,” Catherine’s whimpered.  “He . . . it was so vivid, it felt so . . . .”  Her voice trailed away and her eyes dropped, her hands twisting strands of her hair and her face full of defeat and despair. “I want to believe you, Vincent, but I don’t know how,” she simply said.

“Anger and denial are part of healing, Catherine.  I am here for you. Whatever it takes, I will help you heal.  We can talk until you can’t talk anymore, until I no longer have ears to listen, but I will be here.  You will never have to face this alone!”

Catherine looked at Vincent, seeing the love revealed so intensely in his eyes, hearing the warmth and sincerity of his voice.  “I don’t know how long it will take. It was agonizingly real. I felt so violated, and so dirty,” she said as the tears coursed down her face.

“Catherine, my life is yours. For however long you need me and want me, I will be here.”

“You can still say that, still care, after I hurt you so badly? I bit you repeatedly, and I called you vile names, scratched you, and I . . . .” She could only point at the deep bruise.  “You should hate me for what I did.”  Catherine’s eyes looked away, frightened and filled with fears.

Vincent released her shoulder, tucked a finger under her jaw and slowly lifted her face until she was again looking into his eyes.  “I love you,” he simply stated, “and there is nothing you could say or do which will destroy my love. As long as I live, and beyond, I will love you.”

Catherine sobbed quietly as she reached for Vincent’s large, fur-covered hand and brought it slowly to her lips.  “I want . . . would you hold me?  I’ll be careful, I won’t lie close to you, I won’t make thathurt anymore,” again she pointed at his bruised stomach, “I promise. I need the warmth of your arms, your body.”

“Hush,” Vincent murmured and drew her down and into his arms.  Catherine tried to lie away from his body, to just be in his arms, but Vincent drew her closer until she rested fully against him.  “Nothing will keep me from holding you, not now, especially not now.”  His voice was like velvet as it caressed Catherine’s battered soul.

Vincent tenderly held her, allowing his total love and acceptance to warm her, replacing the cold brutal ugly experience they had shared.  He held her lightly, unsure if his touch might not cause her further pain in remembering all that had happened.

Catherine cried softly against his chest. At times, the tears threatened to overcome her in their intensity. As her tears increased, Catherine buried her face deeper, and Vincent murmured his love to her.

Silence overtook them, her tears ceasing, and Vincent filled her mind with his unconditional love.  Suddenly, without explanation, fresh tears would fall and Catherine would weep violently again.  She brought her hand up, raised her head and brushed furiously the very damp mat of dark golden curls on his chest.  “I’m getting you all wet,” she sobbed as she tried to dry the area with her hand.  As she rubbed her tiny hand across the broad expanse, fresh tears began falling.

“It’s all right. I’ll dry. You’ve done no harm,” he murmured against her hair.

“I don’t understand what is wrong. Why can’t I stop crying?” she wailed.

“You are in shock.  You need to rest and be quiet.”

“Oh, I want to believe you, but . . . .” Her voice trailed away.

“I know,” he said softly. “It is more than you can accept.  Try to rest. It’s all right; the tears will come and go, so don’t concern yourself.  Just rest and try to sleep if you can.”

 

Chapter 17

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