Dreams of Thee

Chapter 6

“You must be feeling a little better.  You actually stayed awake for few minutes of Wuthering Heightsbefore falling asleep.” Amused laughter filled Vincent’s voice as he spoke. Three more days had passed, and he could see improvements in Catherine’s condition.

Peter had been there earlier and had given permission for Catherine to sit up for a few minutes every couple of hours. She was surrounded by pillows as she waited for Vincent to finish feeding her.  The soup was easier to go down now that she was allowed to sit up.

Even though her condition had improved, Vincent still wouldn’t allow her to be cared for by Mary or the others.   He knew beyond the slightest doubt that he was the only one who could care for Catherine. Within his heart also rested the complete knowledge that only Catherine’s love could heal andmake him whole.

He could still feel the tension in Father each time he came to visit Catherine. He knew that, in time, Father would work through his feelings and find his peace.

***********

Today Catherine had shown much physical improvement. Father had removed the bandage from her head and the one from her shoulder.  If everything was normal tomorrow, he would remove the one from her wrist.

Leaving only the candle beside the chamber entrance burning, Vincent moved about the room extinguishing candles until the only light which filled the chamber was from the great stained glass window.  Catherine had been restless tonight, tossing and turning, crying softly in her sleep.  He rose again, hearing her cries, and it was clear that she was awake.

“Catherine, what is it?  What causes you to weep?”  His breath stirred the hair on her forehead as he pressed his cheek against hers.  The weeping continued for several minutes, and still she could not answer him. “Tell me,” he pleaded, holding her tighter.

She rose up for a moment, and then ducked her head back against his chest. “I’m embarrassed; I can’t tell you.” Her sudden shyness startled him. “There is nothing you can’t tell me, surely you know that.”  He could feel her nodding her head against his chest, but he could also feel the involuntary shudders of her body as he continued to soothe her.

“I...I don’t remember being hurt, only bits…pieces of the last days. I...I,” her breath came in ragged sobs, “don’t know what is real, what is a dream. It’s all so jumbled in my head; the dreams—at least, I think they are dreams-seem like reality. I remember touches, feelings, but I don’t know... don’t know what is real,” she sobbed against his neck.

“That’s normal.  When you are well, those things will come together.  There is more to your tears than not remembering reality clearly. Please try to tell me.” His voice was like velvet, softly settling over her, enveloping her in a cocoon of warmth.  His kiss on her forehead was light, like the caress of a butterfly against silk. “Tell me, and I will help you sort reality from dreams.” Placing a blanket around her, he waited. He stroked her hair, enjoying the warmth of being able to cuddle her. He was aware of how much he missed her active participation in their hugs, the joy which radiated through her each time she hugged him, the warmth he felt with each tender touch of her hand.

Her voice faltered at first, but slowly she began to find a way through her shyness and her fears. “I was getting dressed to come to you, then I remember stars in my head. I hurt, and I couldn’t find you. Then I was drowning in blood.”

“That is reality.  The stars must have been when your head was injured.  You lost a great deal of blood.  What else do you remember?”

“I floated for a long time in pain; and you kept stealing it away, replacing it with love.”

“Yes.”

“I felt so warm, so peaceful.  You were holding me, there was a fire, you were kissing me, your hands were caressing my . . . .” her voice trailed away, her face pressed against his neck.

“Your breasts.  A dream, my dream, shared through our bond.  When I awakened from the dream, I was doing just that.” He watched her face carefully as he spoke.  There was still a part of him that rejected the idea that Catherine could possibly want any physical contact with him.

“I felt so cold, and then I felt a steady warmth spreading through me.”

“That must have been when you tried to die and Pascal gave you blood.  What else do you remember?  What else is troubling you?”

“There were tears; I was crying and then . . . you . . .you kissed me; at least, I think you kissed me. It was so real, so beautiful; I could feel your lips. They were so soft . . . beautiful. I could taste your mouth. Your voice kept coming to me, telling me that you loved me, that you wanted me as much as I wanted you.  Your hands kept touching me.  There was warm water all around us, and then I felt your lips kissing my . . . my hip.”

Tears cascaded down her face when she finished.  “I wake from those dreams feeling so alone, like I do when I am in my apartment when I awake with only a pillow in my arms and not you.  I feel physical pain . . . my body aches because I physically want you.”

He moved her body away from his, held her by her thin shoulders; it was important that he see her face when she heard the truth.  “All of what you said happened.  It wasn’t a dream.  It was real. When I carried you here, after you tried to die . . . I kissed you. I could not keep from kissing you. I didn’t want to stop; I wanted to go on exploring your mouth.I cannot allow anyone to care for you, to tend your body, but me. I have given you a bath, bathed your body each day since you have been ill.”  His voice grew whispery, his eyes never leaving her face as he spoke.  He waited for the rejection he had always expected, the rejection he had grown to fear.

She sat quietly on his lap as the truth of his words slowly washed over her.  She hadn’t dreamed it!  He had actually kissed her.  Her face flamed a pale pink as she thought of his hands bathing her.  Her skin grew warmer as she thought of his lips and the bruise she could still feel on her hip.  Her face glowed with the love.  Her hands suddenly sought his face and, capturing it between her fingers, she held on for dear life.  Her voice rose, then fell, and her green eyes grew quite large. “It wasn’t a dream; you did kiss me. You bathed me. You kissed my . . . .”

“Catherine.” He cut off her words, fear gripping his heart. He didn’t want to hear her rejection, couldn’t bear to hear it.

Her mouth silenced his voice; softly her lips caressed his, claiming him.  Slowly she pulled away, her lips clinging to his.  An eternity seemed to pass before she could bear to pull completely away. “Vincent, Vincent.”  Her voice whispered his name against his mouth as her lips caressed his again. “I love you so much.”

It took only an instant for Vincent to realize she was not repulsed by this new knowledge, that she actually wanted him physically. His arm slid from her shoulder, folding her against his chest. He slowly began to respond to her kiss.

The only thing that mattered at this moment was that Vincent was kissing her.  His heart beat rapidly, joy filling him as he rejoiced in the fact of her heart beating as one with his, her happiness mingling with his own.

Her hands were buried in his hair, her head thrown back as he trailed kisses down her neck, his lips resting against the pounding pulse in her throat. “Vincent, kiss me. Please, kiss me again.”  His lips slowly left the spot they had been caressing and captured her mouth. His lips slowly parted hers, his tongue caressing her lips, her mouth welcoming his as she responded to his kiss.

Their bodies moved closer, each trying to erase the pain of the last day, to hold tightly to what they had just found and what each was frightened would evaporate if they stopped touching.  She dropped her hand, seeking to explore the soft skin of his neck.  Her fingers lightly traced patterns on the never-before-explored skin, causing Vincent’s body to tremble under her touch.

“What are you doing to me?”  The wonder in his voice made her laugh and, feeling with her fingers, she again found his mouth.  Just before her lips silenced him, she breathed against his mouth, “I’m touching you; I’m loving you, Vincent.”

Finally Vincent drew away. His eyes caressed her face, and he was suddenly at peace.  “Even if I never know more than this of love, physical love, between us, Catherine, the knowledge that you love me has made me happy beyond anything I have ever known.”  He drew her head against his chest and rejoiced in holding her.  Slowly the rapid beating of their hearts returned to normal, each content to stay as they were, holding and being held.  Each knew that, in time, the physical consummation of their love would happen; and until such time, the knowledge that they could touch, that kisses were desired, was infinitely comforting.

The candle had long ago sputtered and died, and the chamber was filled with the never-ending glow of the stained glass window.  Gentle kisses were shared, then they would part, reassured they could be accepted again at another time.

“Vincent, there is so much we need to talk about, to share.”

“Not now, Catherine. Later.  Now I only want to hold you, to feel your arms about me, to hold you here on my lap.  I never knew such pleasure was possible just from holding someone.” The awe in his voice was so sincere, she smiled.

His slow, even breathing stirred the tendrils of her hair, his face pressed close to hers.  “My heart is filled with such wonder this night. I thought it only me; I never knew that you truly desired me!  Why?  I feel so completely all of your thoughts, your every emotion, through our bond.” 

“I have always tried to block those feelings from you. I know how frightened you are of any physical contact between us beyond hugging. You have always seen yourself as something less than human, while I see you simply as the man I love. When I first saw you, I was frightened.  Later I was ashamed of having had such a feeling. I had known only tender care from you during the time after my attack.  The person who cared for me and the person whom I struck out at in fright were the same tender soul.

“I thought of you so often during the months after I went Above, the gentle man who cared for me and wanted only to keep me safe. Things you said, once I started to come Below, made me realize how afraid you were of any physical contact.  So I tried to hide my dreams. I was afraid you would leave me if you knew.” Her voice trailed off as she pressed light kisses against his face.

“There were times, Catherine, when I felt a pull, a desire in you for me; but I thought it was only my desire . . . my longing,not yours.”

“We have all the time we need to explore all those feelings, the desire we have both kept hidden.  Just knowing you want me, too, makes me free.  I don’t have to bury my thoughts, to keep you from feeling them through our bond.”

“Catherine, may I kiss you again?”

Her fingers carefully searched his face.  Finding his lower lip, she began to slowly caress it with her fingertips.  Her light, delicate touches were like downy feathers against his lip as her fingers stroked, caressed, and then danced away to give pleasure in another spot.  Suspended in time, she brushed against his lip lightly with her own, then her fingers returned to caress again with light strokes.

“Catherine—please.” His voice was softened gravel.

 

Chapter 7

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