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Chapter 6

By Nefereu

But just as the officers turned in the direction of the warehouse, the “motorcycle officer” Catherine had left with appeared in the doorway.

“It’s okay; I’ve got it,” he called loudly to the other policemen as he waved them away.

“Any trouble?” one asked loudly.

“Nah; just some kids making mischief. They ran when they saw me pull up. This place is empty. I’m just waiting around for the owner to show up and verify nothing’s missing. That’s probably him now,” he called back, gesturing to the taxi just pulling up.

Suddenly, as the pair drew closer to the warehouse, the radio in their patrol car roared to life, summoning them away. “That’s us,” one of the officers replied as they both headed back to their vehicle. “We’ll be in the area on patrol for a while longer. If you need any help, call it in and we’ll swing back by.”

“Will do,” Kristopher yelled back as the other officers drove away. After they were out of sight, he began motioning frantically to the cab; beckoning Cullen and Kipper inside. The two rapidly got out of the cab and hurried inside, expecting to encounter the mysterious man. Remarkably, he had vanished into thin air.

“Catherine?” Cullen called out.

“Over here!” came the reply. The pair quickly made their way to her across the empty warehouse. She was kneeling next to an obviously injured Vincent. He looked terrible.

“He’s been shot, and I think he’s in shock! We have to get him Below!” she cried, unable to suppress a sob.

“That may not be so easy,” Cullen replied. “There isn’t a tunnel entrance anywhere nearby.”

“Is too!” a childish voice over his shoulder contradicted.

“Mouse!” Kipper gasped in astonishment.

“Told you I could find them!” Mouse asserted peevishly.

Cullen grabbed his shoulders. “Mouse, we have to get Vincent Below! How did you get here?”

Mouse looked guilty and seemed reluctant to talk.  “Mouse, please!” Catherine begged anxiously through her tears.

“Through the old railroad tunnels,” Mouse blurted out.

Cullen’s face betrayed his concern. “Those tunnels are dangerous, Mouse. They have been abandoned for years! That’s why they’re supposed to be off limits.”

“We’ll have to risk it!” Catherine interrupted assertively. “Can you show us the way?” She quickly bent down to Vincent and whispered softly in his ear. “Hang on, Beloved! We’ll have you home soon. Please don’t leave me. I can’t bear to live without you!”

It took the combined strength of Catherine, Cullen and Mouse to get Vincent up and moving. By a miracle, Vincent managed to summon some vestige of consciousness and helped them get him to his feet. They made their way as rapidly as they dared through the old warehouse, down into the basement and out into the old railroad tunnels. But it was no easy task. Several times they were forced to stop so Catherine could check and adjust Vincent’s bandages to stop the bleeding. It was readily evident why these particular tunnels were off limits.  The timbers holding them up were falling apart, and the walls looked ready to cave in several places. Catherine shuddered at the thought of the four of them becoming trapped; only her resolve to save Vincent kept her going.

After what seemed hours, the group finally emerged into the wonderfully familiar tunnels of the community Below. Kipper’s tap on a nearby pipe brought a small army of people to help. Several sentries arrived with a stretcher and soon had Vincent in the infirmary, where Father was waiting for them.

The minutes dragged on and felt like an eternity as Catherine stood silently by while Father examined and treated his injured son. At last he paused and turned to the almost distraught Catherine. Gently, he guided her away, out of the earshot of the others.

“How is he, Father?” she inquired softly.

When he spoke, his voice was calm, but his visage betrayed the gravity of Vincent’s condition.

"The wound is deep, but it didn’t hit any major organs. The problem is he’s in shock and has lost a great deal of blood; too much I fear! Vincent is strong but even he may not survive such a massive blood loss. What he needs is a transfusion, but we know that’s impossible! There is simply no one else with his blood type. All we can do is keep him on fluids, hope his body can survive the blood loss and pray.”

“I’m going to stay with him,” Catherine asserted. Wordlessly, Father nodded his consent and turned to clear the rest of the crowd from the hospital chamber, leaving her alone with Vincent.

Quietly, Catherine made her way back to Vincent’s side and knelt next to the hospital bed. He was virtually naked, only a few covers preserving his modesty. His shirt had been cut off, revealing his heavily furred chest, now wrapped tightly in bandages. An I.V. hung next to the bed, pouring life sustaining fluids into the veins of his muscular left arm. Gingerly, she took his right hand into her own, holding it gently but firmly.

“You are not leaving me; do you hear me? I will not be left alone to try to go on without you!” she whispered fiercely. “You are going to live and get better, and we are going to be together, and that’s that!  Enough already!  I love you; you’re mine! I don’t care if I have to spend the next fifty years Below to pound it into that thick skull of yours. I will make you see that we belong together. Oh, Vincent, please come back to me.” She wept, finally giving into her tears.

Amazingly, Vincent had heard every word Catherine had said. Though he couldn’t respond, her passionate words had reached him even in the dark oblivion of his unconscious state. He longed to reassure her, but he simply couldn’t summon the strength. All he could do was try to concentrate on sending the power of his love silently to her through their bond.

All through the next few hours, Catherine’s words rang in Vincent’s head. Though he had barely dared to hope, she now seemed determined to convince him that they belonged together. Throughout the rest of the night, she continued to pour out her heart, finally telling him all the things she had always held back. It comforted her to say the words she had always been forced to hold in.

“I love you and only you, Vincent. There could never be anyone else for me! No one else could make me happy. That’s why it’s high time you stopped all this ‘find another man’ nonsense! We are also definitely working on intimacy. I’m not saying we have to get serious right away, but I do think it’s time I got a proper goodnight kiss at the very least.”

Catherine’s litany of love was the sweetest sound Vincent had every heard. Her words were the most powerful healing balm to Vincent’s battered body and aching soul. Inch by inch, he dragged himself back from the darkness toward the light of Catherine’s love and the promise of a life together.

Catherine kept up her lonely monologue until she was hoarse and her body ached with fatigue. At last, she fell asleep, kneeling next to the bed, her head resting on its edge.

In the early morning hours, she was startled awake by a gentle brush against her cheek.

She opened her eyes and sat up to a truly wondrous site. Vincent was awake and he was smiling. Though feeble, his smile made Catherine happier than anything she could ever remember.

“Vincent!” she murmured, unable to hold back her tears as they streamed unchecked down her face.

“Hello, Catherine,” Vincent replied weakly.

Gratefully, she clasped his hand between her own, pressed it to her cheek and began to weep uncontrollably.


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