Dreams of Thee

Chapter 18

 

“Vincent, I love you so much.” Catherine’s lips kissed every part of his body within her reach.  They had slept wrapped in each other’s arms for hours, and now Catherine playfully awakened Vincent.

She had caressed and kissed him completely awake, and having sated themselves again in their love, they curled together contentedly. Vincent’s fingers lay curled against Catherine’s legs, finding the warm, moist, sensitive mound of her womanhood quivering beneath his gentle touch.

“I should let you bathe,” Vincent whispered against her neck.

“No, not yet.  I like the scent of you on my skin. I never thought I would know this, and now, I can’t bear to wash it away.” Catherine buried her face against his shoulder, inhaling deeply the scents, the smells which clung to his skin.

Vincent’s heart pounded loudly as his emotions threatened to overwhelm him. “Catherine,” his voice came unevenly as the knot in his throat made speech nearly impossible, “the fact that you love me, I find astonishing.  After all you have suffered, the fact you welcomed and desired my touch is more than I dared to hope.

“I had thought you wouldn’t wish me to touch you because I would remind you of what happened, because I was a part of your suffering.” The lump in his throat grew larger, and Vincent drew in ragged gulps of air and tried to force it down.  He had to say it; she had to know all the truth.

’’Because . . . .” he began again, forcing himself to take small, even breaths, “I did not think you would ever again want to know me, to know my body, because I tormented, tortured you.”

Slowly, Catherine pulled away from him and turned to face him squarely. Catherine leaned forward, lifted his hand, and with infinite gentleness placed her mouth against the center of his palm, slowly kissed his palm, then moved to kiss each of his fingers, rubbing his nails lightly across her lips.  She felt Vincent’s eyes burning, and still she continued.

With great care, as though she handled the most fragile object, she moved his hand to its former resting place and drew the other hand up, ministering to it in a like manner.  She moved up, tenderly capturing his face between her hands.

Her voice was tender and loving. “I am yours. You are a part of me. There is nothing you could ever do to me that would make me stop loving you, needing you, and wanting you . . . nothing that happened here. What you did was done with the greatest of love.  I don’t know if I would have had such courage.  My fear might have been stronger. But you, my love, possessed the courage to force me to remember something buried so deeply, so utterly painful, because your love was greater than your fear.

“I cannot forgive you, Vincent, simply because there is nothing to forgive. You are the gentlest, kindest, loving man God ever created. You have shown me nothing but kindness and love, and there is never a need to apologize for treating another person that way.”

**********

The sun was high overhead when Vincent awakened.  He was content to lie quietly, holding Catherine for quite some time as he thought of the events of the last 24 hours.  Moving with the quiet grace only he possessed, he slipped from the bed, padded to the bathroom, closed the door, and started his shower.

The door opened silently and Catherine slipped inside, brushed her teeth, and then joined Vincent in the shower. “Catherine.” The sound of his voice caused her heart to beat wildly. “You look so beautiful, so radiant.”

“Thank you. Your love makes me feel wonderful and filled with life.” A smile covered her face, her green eyes dancing with happiness as she looked up at Vincent. They stood with their fingers touching, smiling and laughing as the water sprayed over them.

“I love you, Vincent.” Catherine reached up to draw his lips to hers.

Taking the soap from Vincent’s hand, she wordlessly began to soap his body. Her high, delightful laughter could be heard over the roar of the shower, mirroring the deeper rumbling of Vincent own laughter.

“It seems good to actually be working.” She gathered the pile of Vincent’s dirty clothes and headed toward the washing machine. Vincent rose to follow but stopped, shook his head, and looked again as one very shapely leg slid around the door frame, followed by a beckoning finger.  The leg slid up and down the door frame in a slow seductive rhythm as the finger beckoned him.  Vincent held his chest as he silently laughed then quietly walked toward the door, dropped to his knees, and silently waited for the seductive dancing leg to reappear.  He waited until the leg hung there, suspended for a brief second, before quickly capturing Catherine’s toes in his mouth.

Catherine grabbed the door frame, holding on with all her strength at Vincent’s unexpected actions. She sagged against the door frame, feeling like a school girl who had experienced her first kiss.  Her emotions whirled as Vincent sucked on each of her toes, his finger lightly stroking the bottom her foot.

The nerves in her foot tingled and her skin grew warm as Vincent’s fingers slowly moved up her leg, pausing to caress the back of her knee.  Like the wings of a butterfly, his fingers danced and moved up her leg, lingering to savor a favorite expanse of velvety soft skin.

“Vincent,” she called out breathlessly, “you are causing my heart to beat rapidly.  Do you know that?

Vincent lifted his head, and there was a mocking laughter in his voice.  “And what do you think you are doing to me?  You started this, and I merely am accepting the provocative limb with which you have so lovingly tempted me.”

He rose gracefully to his feet, one hand continuing to caress Catherine’s leg, and suddenly he filled the doorway with his presence.

His eyes were smiling as he lowered his mouth to claim her.  He drew away from Catherine’s soft, warm, moist lips and was haunted by the taste of her.  A sigh escaped his lips as he again lifted his mouth, shaking his head slightly. “Will I ever cease wanting you this much?  The longing to be within your body, does it ever stop?”

Catherine smiled at him, her whole face alight with her joy, when she spoke. “I hope it won’t for years and years. I lie beside you afterward, when we are in that wonderful soft cocoon, sliding down the top of the mountain, and I feel such peace and happiness. And then later, I realize I feel the aching need starting again, wanting to love you, to have you fill my body.”

The warmth and the wonder of her words filled Vincent’s heart, pushing away the years of loneliness, the years which had been filled with emptiness until Catherine filled them with laughter, joy, and her belief in him. 

Catherine returned his embrace, hugging him, aware of the emotions within him which lay close to the surface. He can never be told enough how much I love him and want his body, she thought as she reached up to kiss him.

Reluctantly, they drew apart. “This isn’t getting the laundry done.” Vincent smiled down at her as he reached to gather the pile of laundry from the floor where Catherine had dropped it moments earlier.

Catherine smiled warmly. “No, but this surely is more fun.”

**********

“Vincent, would you mind finishing the folding?  Suddenly, I’m so sleepy; I can’t seem to hold my eyes open.”

“Your health is what is important.  Of course, you should sleep if you are tired.”  His voice echoed his concern.

Using one of the freshly folded towels as a pillow, she placed it under her head, stretched out on the floor beside Vincent and was instantly asleep.  He continued to sit Indian-fashion on the floor, surrounded by piles of clothes.  Picking up one of his shirts, he found that even after washing he could still detect Catherine’s scent, and he warmed at remembering the sight of her wearing it.

Rising gracefully to his feet, he gathered up the piles of clothes and swiftly set about putting them away.  Pausing in the doorway, he looked down at Catherine and noticed again how small she looked, how her old bathrobe now looked too big for the tiny body it covered.

Taking a book, Vincent settled himself on the floor near Catherine and began reading.  He read for an hour then put the book down and stretched out on his back, drifting in a peaceful pleasant state until he felt her restless stirring.  Vincent could feel the nightmare beginning within her, and gently sought to awaken Catherine.

There were tears already forming when she opened her eyes and scrambled into the haven of Vincent’s strong arms. “Will it never stop?” Her voice was muffled against his chest. “Will I ever be free?”

“Catherine, be patient. In time sleep will again bring only pleasure. There has been much you have had to accept; allow yourself time to grieve, time to find acceptance and forgiveness before the healing will be complete.  Be gentle with yourself.”

Vincent stroked Catherine’s hair, enjoying the silken texture as it slid between his fingers. “It’s all right to cry. Tears are a part of healing.”

Between the sobs, Catherine tried to explain her feelings, what she was experiencing now. “Vincent, I don’t think I would have survived any of this without you. You are everything to me, everything.

“I am so lucky you found me, so lucky to have you. It’s a miracle you found me that night, and I have never stopped thanking God for this miracle.”

“I’m the lucky one, Catherine.  Every day with you is a miracle, a hazy dream brought to full color, warmth where there was cold, life where there was loneliness; and the greatest miracle of all is that you love me and want me as part of your life.”

“You are my life!”

Vincent continued to hold Catherine, unsure at this point who was providing comfort and who was being comforted. The thread of their bond was full with a mixture of emotions. The miracle of Catherine’s love for him filled him, moved further inside the hidden pain of his long years alone, and slowly but surely, it filled and replaced them with a consuming fire of comfort, friendship.

He stirred, but Catherine held him tighter. “You are fine. Don’t leave.  I like holding you, the feel of your head pressed against my breast is glorious.”

He lifted his head, his eyes deep and dark, and he spoke. “That isn’t the adjective I would use to describe what I feel with my head resting there.” He pointedly looked down to view her breasts, which were fully visible.

“How would you describe it?” Her voice was a throaty laugh, and her eyes twinkled while they mirrored Vincent’s emotions.

“Often life’s simplest questions are the most difficult to answer.  Lying here, the emotions within whirl like the chamber of the winds, with voices echoing around.  Only with Devin, when we were children playing out our adventures, did I dream. Then, when Devin left to come Above, I ceased to dream and accepted what and who I was . . . a man trapped within a body rejected by all of society, a hideous joke of a genetic experiment gone awry, a freak who was saved by a kind heart, but who would have been better left to die.”

Catherine shuddered at his words; tears formed and silently streamed down her face, her arms tightening about him, and softly she murmured, “No! No, you are none of those things!  You are the best in all of us—you are kind, gentle, compassionate and generous. Please, Vincent, don’t ever say or think those things about yourself!”

“I learned to accept who and what I was long ago.  Father made me a scholar, a teacher, but for all his wisdom, he couldn’t change what I am nor could he fill the lonely, empty places within my heart.  For me, Catherine, there were no possibilities.  People needed me, but in the end, I was always alone on the periphery of life. You gave me courage to believe in myself because you believed so completely.”

The pain of Vincent’s voice only served to heighten Catherine’s awareness of how important she was in his life, and the extent of his all-encompassing love, which gave him the strength and courage to have tried to send her away, to offer her a normal life with a man who could be part of her world, not someone who could never be all those things.

“Catherine,” his voice came softly, “it is like the story of a man who presses his face against the candy store window but never could taste the candy. Lying here beside you, feeling your heart beating so strongly against my ear, having you hold me like this, is . . . .”  His voice faltered slightly. “All that I am, you have accepted; you lie in my arms, offering what I never dared to admit I needed or wanted; you hold my head against your breast and, were I to ask, you would gladly accept my mouth with its fangs upon them.

“Like the man who is finally turned loose in the candy store, I want to lick, suckle and taste every morsel, for fear that when I awaken it will simply have been a dream and I will never know such beauty, such oneness of spirit and soul again.”

Catherine firmly lifted his head until Vincent’s face was even with her own. “Vincent, please look at me,” she pleaded.

“I can’t.”

“Please, Vincent.”

Knowing he would not deny her, Catherine patiently held Vincent’s face level, and slowly the hooded eyes rose.  Each time Catherine looked into the depths of his clear eyes, she was astonished, not only by the striking kaleidoscope of shading, but by the open innocence and honesty which was ever present.

Catherine waited, allowing Vincent to realize she was neither offended nor shocked by his statement. Her eyes continued to caress his face, telling him again and again of her love.

“Love isn’t always sweet, gentle, or spiritual. It can be a raging, fiery passion borne of love and, yes, lust. What we have shared for so very long was a spiritual love, and it was, and is, beautiful.

“You denied your right to those needs, those feelings, and even your own sexuality, for years.  If it had not been for the attack, the injuries I received, and my wish to die, would we be here like this now?  Would we still be on the balcony, filled with longing and ever fearful of doing more than just holding each other? Do you regret leaving the balcony?”

“No, Catherine. No.”

“Do you regret our physical union?”

“No. Never.” His voice was filled with anguish.

“Do you like the touch of my mouth, my hands, my body upon yours?”

“Catherine, you know what your touch does to me.”

“Yes, I know.” Catherine’s eyes softened.  “And do you know what the feel of your mouth, your hands, and your body do to me?

“When couples in your world marry, what do they do?  Do they move apart from the community to have a honeymoon, to be alone, to enjoy each other away from the community?”

“Yes.”

“Do you think they enjoy each other’s bodies?  Do you think they make love often?”

“Yes, of course, they do,” he answered softly. 

“Do you think that is wrong? Then why do you judge yourself so harshly? There will never be another in my life but you. Your body is the only one I ever want to know.  You are my life, my reason for living.  I awaken wanting you, waiting to see your face, the look of complete surprise in your eyes when you become aware of my desire for you, my need to feel your hands on me, handling, touching me. Sexuality is such a complex issue. What is sex without permission; what do you call it?”

“Rape.”

“Would you . . . rape me, Vincent?”

“Catherine!” His voice was shocked.

“Would you?”

“No, I love you. I would never harm you!”

“If I told you l wanted our relationship to be as it was before, that you could only hold me but never kiss me or make love to me, what would you do, what would you feel?”

The struggle of Vincent’s emotions easily played across his expressive face. “If that is your wish...”

“No!  What do you feel?”

“I would abide by your wishes. I would never force myself upon you, Catherine. I would feel a loss, but if you would allow me to still be a part of your life, I could . . . .” Vincent’s voice trailed away.

“Vincent, without the actual words, you have just told me you loved me. If all you felt was lust, you would have answered differently. You would have told me you couldn’t return to a celibate life. Lust is wanting only your desires fulfilled. Love includes care and consideration for the desire of others above your own.  After you realized what I thought had happened in the van, you submerged your own desires because you felt I could not possibly be ready to physically love you. 

“You are more man than you can admit or realize. There is no shame in desiring physical love between us, Vincent. This is our honeymoon, our time to be alone, to love and glory in our joining.  There is no shame in rejoicing in that pleasure. Do you find our sexual union pleasurable?

“Catherine, how can you ask me that?  I never dared love you; your touch is . . . is more . . . .”

Catherine’s fingers pressed against his lips, cutting off his words.  “Then remember always, what you feel, I feel. What gives you pleasure is pleasurable also to me.  I lived in a world controlled by my fears, and your love saved me, made me whole again. I wish the same for you; I wish you to awaken secure in my love for you, knowing that nothing and no one will ever replace you. There are no regrets, no doubts within me; I will never leave you. My life and soul are only complete with you.”

Tears streamed down Catherine’s face as Vincent slid his arms around her trembling body, and he drew her close, burying his face within the fragrant warmth of her neck. “Catherine.” His voice was muffled against her neck. “Catherine, my heart, my soul fills with the depth of your love. I . . . .” Great sobs shook Vincent’s body as the depth and reality of Catherine’s encompassing love settled over him, destroying the fears which dwelt within his soul.

Her arms were numb, but even that did not make Catherine stop holding and stroking Vincent’s trembling body. All the years of loneliness and ignoring his own needs washed over him with the fury which would have destroyed another. Never releasing him from her arms, Catherine gently nudged, guiding him with her legs and hips, until Vincent was on his knees.  Then, using what remained of her energy, Catherine managed to pull and prod him to his feet. Emotionally drained, he swayed violently, and Catherine’s knees buckled as she tried to keep him standing.

Catherine wrapped her fingers in his belt and, by sheer force of will, managed to guide Vincent toward the bedroom.  He sank heavily onto the bed, pulling Catherine with him. “Catherine . . . cold, I’m so cold.” His voice came weakly as he rolled into a ball, drawing his legs toward his chest.

Moving quickly from the bed, Catherine grabbed a quilt from the closet and returned to the bed, wrapping the quilt around Vincent’s still shaking body. She slid under the quilt, and instinctively Vincent sought her warmth. Using her hands, Catherine pushed his legs down until she was able to straighten her own legs against his. Her hips pressed against the taut muscles of his stomach as Catherine searched for a pillow to place beneath his head.  His breath came in shattering gasps, until at last he fell into an exhausted sleep.

Only when Catherine was certain Vincent was asleep did she relax her grip upon his body.  She fought to control her own trembling.  She wanted to remain alert in case Vincent should awaken; she wanted to provide him all the comfort and support he had so freely given her.

 

Chapter 19

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