(after The Watcher)

by Barbara Hill

    "You can go home, Jenny."  Catherine’s eyes flashed a shy plea of 'get lost'.  She knew her friend’s concern was sincere and usually it was greatly appreciated, but not tonight.  "I won’t be alone."
    "You won’t be alone?"  Jenny’s dark eyes flashed with curiosity before suddenly filling with understanding.  "Oh! You won’t be alone."
    Catherine nodded slowly, grateful that her friend was finally getting the message.  Vincent would soon be here.  She could feel him close by and she wanted Jenny gone when he arrived.
    "Well, in that case, I guess I’d better leave." Jenny smiled sheepishly and reached for her coat.
    "I’ll call you  tomorrow, Cathy.  Try to get some rest."  The two friends hugged.
    Catherine closed and locked her broken door as best she could.  She turned off the lights, throwing the room into total darkness and started for the terrace to await Vincent.  Her heart pounded in her chest as she looked up to see his massive frame, silhouetted by the moon’s glow, already filling the door.  She ran into his arms, clutching him frantically.
    "Hold me, tight.  Tighter!"  She pressed her body against the full length of his, desperately aching to feel his solid strength against her, surrounding her, protecting her, soothing her.
    "Catherine!  I felt you go.  I felt you go!" The desperation she heard in his voice caused her to shiver uncontrollably.
    "No, I don’t want to talk about it.  Just hold me, Vincent.  Hold me."
    Catherine shivered so violently her teeth chattered, and Vincent was truly concerned for her well being.  He knew the shivering was caused by more than just the cold, watery grave he’d pulled her from; her brush with certain death was also a cause.
    "Catherine, you’re cold.  You should be inside where it’s warm." He moved slightly as though to release her and felt her panic.
    ‘No, don’t let me go.  I don’t want you to ever let me go.  I’m all right.  I just need you to hold me." Her shivering increased even more, although Vincent would have thought this impossible.
    Without a moment’s hesitation, he swept Catherine up in his powerful arms and headed for her bed.  Laying her down carefully, he reached to pull the quilt at the foot of the bed up and over her.  As he moved to straighten up, she sat up quickly, wrapping her arms around his neck in an iron grip.
    "Don’t leave me! Please, Vincent."
    Vincent held her close, easing her back down on the bed and once again tucking the heavy quilt around her.
    "I’m not going anywhere, Catherine.  Just give me a moment."
    Catherine watched, eyes wide with fear, as Vincent removed his boots, then slipped into bed next to her.  He held his arms out and she scurried into his embrace, once more pulling his sturdy frame tight against hers.
    Vincent sighed deeply as her body molded against his.  He could feel her every curve through the fabric of her robe.  His breath caught in his throat as her scent invaded his senses, stirring his body with pleasure, and another feeling he'd long fought - desire.  He knew he shouldn’t be this close to Catherine with her in so vulnerable a state of mind and dressed so scantily, but he couldn’t leave her.  He’d come too close to losing her tonight.  Death had almost claimed her again, and the thought of it left him weak with fear.
    He couldn’t leave her.  He had to know that Catherine was safe, and the only way he could be certain of this was to hold her in his arms.  Her cold, trembling body, held securely against his, was the only proof his mind would accept, and so he would hold her for as long as she needed regardless of how difficult it could prove to be.
    Catherine sighed softly as she finally relaxed and allowed the steady beating of his heart to lull her into a drowsy state of half sleep.  One hand clutched the front of his shirt desperately, while the other twined through his hair, barely grazing the sensitive skin on his neck.
    Her mind sifted quickly through the events of the night, from the moment the watcher had called her to the moment Vincent had pulled her from the murky depths of the river that had almost claimed her for its own.  Her body jerked convulsively as she began reliving the moment she had found herself helplessly submerged in the black inkiness of the cold water.
    "It's all right, Catherine. . You're safe.  You're safe." Strong, powerful hands soothed and caressed her back and shoulders.  Catherine buried her face in the warmth of his neck, -finally giving in to the urge to talk about what had happened.  Her words were disjointed, fuzzy, but Vincent had no problem understanding her terror and anger.  They matched his own.
    "It was so cold.  The water . . . " She trembled violently at the memory "…over my head." Knowing that she needed to talk about it, Vincent held her tighter, whispering soft words of reassurance as he encouraged her to continue.
    "I couldn't breathe, couldn't call for help.  I was so afraid." She took a deep breath, appearing to relax a bit more.  "Then, I saw the light.  It was so warm, so beautiful.  I had to go toward it."
    Vincent tightened his hold as painful memories flooded him.  He'd felt her surrender when she saw the light, felt her leave him.  Catherine didn't seem to notice his distress as her own painful memories continued to surface.
    'I saw my mother and father and suddenly I wasn't afraid anymore.  I just wanted to go home." Her nose burrowed further into his soft, warm flesh and she breathed deeply of his unique scent.
    "Then I heard you call me.  You sounded so scared and so sad . . . so alone.  I knew you needed me. I had to come back to you." Catherine turned slowly on her back, pulling him with her.  She gazed up at him, her eyes calm, knowing what the answer to her next question would be.
    "I died, didn't I, Vincent?"
    Vincent shuddered violently as he remembered the exact moment he had felt her life slipping away from her - from him.
    "I felt you go, Catherine." His arms tightened about her and Catherine felt his hot tears falling on her face.  She pulled his head down and tenderly kissed them away.
    "You brought me back, didn't you?" Vincent nodded silently.  "How, Vincent?  How did you bring me back?"
     Blue eyes stared intently, almost guiltily at her, still brimming with tears and begging for her understanding.
    "You weren't breathing, Catherine.  I had to…"   His powerful arms crushed her to him gently.  "I couldn't let you go."
     Catherine smiled, a tiny, knowing smile.  "You breathed for me." Her finger came up to rest lightly on his full bottom lip.  Somehow she felt cheated knowing that his unique mouth had touched hers without her realizing it.   Her finger traced his split upper lip and Vincent trembled in her embrace.  Her voice was a mere whisper.  "Show me, Vincent.  Show me how you breathed for me."
    Her full lips parted in blatant invitation and Vincent found himself unable to resist her siren's call.  Slowly, gently he covered her warm, sensual mouth with his, just as he had at the river's edge, --and breathed his own life’s breath into her.
    Catherine's body tensed as Vincent's warm breath filled her lungs, and she found herself immediately and completely aroused. Never had she experienced such an instantaneous, passionate response to any man.  She wanted him, needed him, more than she'd ever wanted or needed anyone before.
    His kiss became a burning need for more as Catherine wrapped her arms around his neck and returned the kiss deeply, urgently.   She kissed him again and again, as her hands caressed and petted his strong back and broad shoulders.
    Vincent found himself carried away on the current of their shared emotions.  He could feel Catherine's heightened sexual need through the bond they shared and found himself unable to fight off his own feelings of need and desire.  He kissed her face and neck greedily, eager to know the many tastes and textures of this beautiful woman he'd long ago given his heart to.
    Catherine was vaguely aware that the long hard battle Vincent had fought to keep a tight rein on his passion was about to be lost, but she simply did not have the strength to stop it.  Vincent, too, was vaguely aware of their losing battle, but found he could do nothing to stop the inevitable.
    She needed him tonight -- needed his love.  And he would give her that love, simply because he was incapable of withholding it any longer.  His bond with Catherine was such that he had to give her what she now needed most, as surely as he’d given her his breath of life earlier.
    Catherine moaned softly as Vincent continued to kiss her mouth, her face, her neck.  She squirmed with pleasure as his furry nose burrowed into the hollow between her breasts, creating a wonderfully delicious tickling sensation in every nerve in her body.
    Vincent pulled back slightly in mild shock as he realized what he was doing.  Catherine hugged him closer, whispering softly, "Don't stop, Vincent.  Please don't stop." Her eyes pleaded with him and he could no longer resist the compelling urge to seal the fortune Fate had destined for them from the very beginning of their relationship.
    Vincent captured her mouth in a deep, lingering kiss and Catherine gasped with surprise as his hands began frantically tugging on the belt of her robe.  She sighed with deep pleasure as the fur on his hands brushed against her bare skin when he slowly pushed the robe open to reveal her soft, naked flesh, flushed delicately pink with pleasure.
    Catherine's hands gripped his shoulders, pulling him closer as she deepened their kiss.  Vincent's exotic mouth trailed wetly across her cheek, down to her chin, than to the sensitive skin of her neck and shoulders.  Pulling back slightly, his eyes gazed longingly on the soft mounds of her firm breasts.
    Catherine squirmed with anticipation as his warm breath teased her and Vincent watched in amazement as the tiny tips of her breasts hardened and stood out, as though begging for attention.  His head lowered, and he tenderly took one of the rose colored buds in his mouth.
    Catherine arched her back as a low moan shattered the silence.  Vincent's actions were instinctive as he sucked the hardened tip, nipping it gently with his sharp canines.  His hand covered the other breast, giving it his full attention as well.  Catherine moaned once more and whispered softly, "Yes, Vincent, yes."
    He had crossed the boundaries he’d long ago set for himself, and there was no turning back. Through their bond, Vincent could tell he was giving Catherine great pleasure, and he felt his fears slowly begin to fade as he shared that pleasure with her.  His mouth stopped its sweet attack and began working its way slowly downward, kissing and nipping gently as it traveled to her flat stomach.
    Catherine sighed deeply as Vincent continued his demanding caresses and kisses, and gave herself up completely to his loving touch. Her hands moved to tangle themselves in the thick mass of hair that spilled over her hips.  She briefly wished that Vincent was naked, too, but his mouth and hands were sending her body into such a frenzy of lust she forgot the thought almost immediately and, for the moment, was content to let him have his way with her.  Her body ached with a soaring urgency, desperately seeking the release only he could give her.
    His hot breath seared her skin as his tongue carefully invaded the tiny indentation of her navel.  As his large hands cupped her hips, Catherine was suddenly aware of his intentions and could scarcely believe what was happening.  Her breath caught in her throat as Vincent's mouth moved even lower.
    Vincent hesitated, caught between his still unvanquished fear of a physical relationship with Catherine and the instinctive desire as old as time itself to take what she offered him so willingly. Her heady scent filled his nostrils and for the first time in his life, instinct won over logic.
    She was soft and beautiful and she offered him delights and pleasures he'd always believed were beyond his reach.  He glanced up to look at her, eyes pleading for permission to continue.  Through her haze of passion, Catherine nodded her head slowly in encouragement.
    Vincent's massive hands cupped her buttocks, squeezing gently, and Catherine opened her legs in silent invitation, waiting expectantly.  She watched as his tawny head moved lower between her thighs.  His breath stirred her even further, and she felt her body ready itself.  The musky scent of her arousal excited him and a low, throaty growl escaped him as he moved to possess her.
    Catherine gasped with unrestrained delight as his mouth greedily lapped up her slick moistness.  As a man dying of thirst would drink excessively from a well, his raspy tongue tenderly invaded the most secret part of her.
    Vincent feasted on her, allowing the special connection they shared to show him the way.  Through it he could tell what pleasured her most and knew when she reached the height of her ecstasy.  He continued to stroke and suckle until Catherine arched sharply and screamed his name aloud.  Her hands tightened their grip, pressing herself tightly against his probing tongue as her body convulsed in glorious release.
    And still Vincent did not stop.  He could not get enough of her.  He’d longed to hold her, touch her, pleasure her for so long, he wanted to never stop.  Catherine's body, so long starved for love responded immediately and once more found its ultimate release through Vincent's tender attack.
    Through the invisible thread of their special bond, Vincent felt her climax again and shared it with her; taking it and tucking it away in the place deep within his heart where he kept all his special moments with his Catherine.  With a deep sigh of contentment, Vincent rested his head carefully on her stomach, savoring and sharing the afterglow of their loving that coursed through Catherine's body.
    Catherine tugged on his head, urging him to move up so that she could hold him, cuddle him.  Vincent laid his head on her shoulder and pulled her close.  One hand slid slowly down her thigh to pull her leg up and over his in a wonderfully intimate gesture that brought tears to her eyes.  When her breathing returned to normal, she finally spoke.
    "I love you, Vincent."
     Vincent leaned up to gaze down at her, eyes filled with wonder and awe.  Catherine's eyes shone brightly with unmasked pleasure and passion, and his heart filled with pride knowing that he had finally exorcised some of the demons that had haunted their relationship from the very beginning.
     "I love you, too, Catherine.'
    Catherine pulled his head down, sniffing delicately at his muzzle.  A warm glow of delight filled her eyes as she whispered, "I can smell myself on you." She pulled his head down f or a tiny kiss.  "I can taste myself on you." Her mouth devoured his in a passion filled kiss that left Vincent trembling.
    "How did you learn to please a woman like that, Vincent?" Her voice was light, but held just a hint of suspicion.  She'd been almost certain her Vincent was a virgin, but now she wasn't so sure.
    "Catherine, I may never have…" He smiled sheepishly, shrugging his broad shoulders.  "Father has books.  He sometimes gives them to couples who are planning to wed.  Devin and I used to read them when Father wasn't looking."
    "Books?  You mean sex manuals?" Vincent lowered his eyes shyly, nodding his head.  Catherine's trembling hand reached up to stroke the sharp contours of his cheek, tugging his face up to look at him.  "Vincent, no man ever learned to pleasure a woman like that by reading a book."
    "I had a little help, Catherine."  Her green eyes sparkled with curiosity.  "I could feel what you were feeling through the bond.  I knew I was giving you pleasure." Catherine found herself drowning in the sapphire depths of his eyes, as he leaned down to kiss her softly and whispered, "I felt your pleasure.  I'm glad I was able to please you.  I was afraid I might offend you.  I know so little about these matters." His voice held an apologetic tone.
    Catherine silenced him with another kiss.  "Please believe me, Vincent.  You haven't offended me, and you did pleasure me.  Very much." Her gaze lowered demurely in a way Vincent found most endearing.
    "I've been with other men, Vincent.  You know that." Vincent merely nodded.  His eyes held no reproach or accusation, only acceptance.  "No man has ever loved me like that, Vincent."  Her eyes once more looked deep into his.  "I never really wanted it..."  She kissed him softly.  "Until now.  Thank you."
    Vincent felt a sense of pride fill his soul and fought to control the feeling of possessiveness that gripped him when he realized that he was the first man to ever know Catherine in such an intimate way.  He'd shared something with her that was theirs alone.  The possessiveness flared even stronger as he quickly decided that he would be the only man to ever touch her in such a way, or in any way, from this moment on.
    Catherine sensed his feelings and gloried in them.  She wriggled against him provocatively as he claimed her mouth in another passionate kiss.  The roughness of his clothes against her bare skin reminded her that Vincent had her at a distinct disadvantage.  She was naked while he was fully clothed.  Something she decided to try and remedy very quickly.
    Catherine felt his body tense as she impatiently tugged at his shirt.  "Take this off, Vincent." She buried her face in his hair, nuzzling her way to his ear.  Her breath teased him erotically as she nibbled his earlobe.  "I want to feel you naked against me.  I need to feel your body, Vincent.  Please?  Let me love you."
    Vincent fell silent for several long moments.  Finally, he took a deep breath, gazing at her intently before moving slowly to get out of bed.
    Vincent stared at her, his eyes burning with a fire she'd never seen.  Catherine sensed his hesitation, and felt his surrender at the same time.  He removed his clothing while she watched, deliberately taking his time in order to give her a chance to change her mind should she so desire.
    Without realizing it, Vincent cut off the invisible thread that connected their very souls.  It was a defensive gesture -- he needed to see her reaction before he felt it, though he had not the slightest idea of what he would do if she showed any fear or repulsion.
    Catherine watched him, her eyes shining with tears, trying desperately to keep her emotions in check.  He was finally letting his defenses down, and she knew how difficult this was for him.  She felt the bond close slightly and understood completely his reason for doing it.
    When at last Vincent stood before her in all his naked glory, Catherine found she could no longer control her emotions.  Passion and need overcame reasoning, and her feelings reached out to engulf him.
    She stared at him, mesmerized by his many contradictions: powerfully built, softly furred, his countenance at once intimidating, shy and vulnerable, but never frightening.  Not to her.  Catherine wanted to tell him how incredibly beautiful he was, but knew he would never believe her words.  She decided instead to show him.
    Vincent trembled violently under the onslaught of her passion as he allowed their bond to open fully, once more taking her feelings within himself.  His eyes glowed with unshed tears as he felt her total acceptance of all that he was.  Moving over to make room for him, Catherine held up her hand and whispered softly, "Come to bed, Vincent."
    Vincent moved swiftly to join her.  He lay on his back, breathing heavily, wanting nothing more than to take her in his arms, yet still somewhat reticent about making the first move.  Holding her before, with her naked and himself fully clothed was one thing, but this…his mind was in a turmoil as he tried to decide what to do, what Catherine expected of him.
    Catherine took the situation out of his hands by raising up to lie across him.  The moment her body touched his, Vincent became inflamed with a white hot fire that he willingly, eagerly allowed to consume him.  Her caresses were like food to a starving man, as Vincent felt the soft, intimate touch of a woman's hands for the first time in his life.
    She buried her face in his neck, nibbling gently.  Her warm breath made his pulse quicken and his heart race.  Never, in all his wildest fantasies, had he thought such a feeling as this existed.
    Catherine kissed him.  A deep, lingering, thorough kiss that pushed any further doubts Vincent may have had from his mind.  He wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly as she explored the soft warmth of his unique mouth.  Her tongue teased his own wantonly, then danced lightly across the roof of his mouth before gently caressing the tips of his sharp canines.
    He gripped her arms and moved, slightly, as though to change their positions.  Catherine grasped his hands, entwining her slender fingers with his long, tapered ones.  "No, Vincent."
    Vincent looked at her curiously.  Catherine nuzzled his nose and wiggled against him.  The feel of her naked flesh against his own was a sweet torment -- so sweet, Vincent was certain he would surely die from the sheer pleasure of it.
    "You loved me tonight as no man has ever done, Vincent." She kissed him again.  "I want to do the same for you."
    Her luminous green eyes were dark with passion.  Pulling back slightly, she gazed down the length of his perfectly formed body, reveling in the knowledge that no one, no woman, had ever seen him this way.  No woman had ever touched him like this.
    Catherine's hands moved to pet and stroke his powerful chest and arms.  Vincent, her golden knight, her staunch protector -- her virgin lover.  He was hers! The feeling of possessiveness that overwhelmed her amazed her.
    Vincent, however, was neither overwhelmed nor amazed by her feelings, for he’d felt the same way earlier.  Feeling this same sense of 'ownership' from her, knowing that she desired him, filled his heart with courage - courage to allow their love to finally follow the course nature had intended.
    Vincent squirmed with delicious pleasure as Catherine trailed soft, moist kisses down the length of his neck.  Her tongue lingered for a long moment on the pulse at the hallow of his throat before moving slowly down.  She found a nipple nestled among the thin coating of velvety fur that covered his muscular chest.
    Vincent arched his back sharply as Catherine licked and nipped the tiny bud until it grew rock hard under- her tender attack, and he whimpered softly.  She took mercy on him, but only for the short space of time it took to switch to the other nipple, mercilessly teasing it as well.
    Catherine glanced up at him.  His eyes were closed, his mouth opened slightly, his breathing heavy with passion never felt before.  His head thrashed from side to side as she continued her ruthless invasion, and she thought he was the most beautiful sight she'd ever seen.  She smiled to herself in satisfaction and turned her attention back to the matter at hand -- pleasing her lover.
    Vincent's breath caught in his throat as Catherine's mouth continued its slow, teasing journey down his chest to the flat hardness of his stomach.  His navel came under special scrutiny.  She was rewarded with a low, throaty moan as she blew softly into the indentation before thrusting her tongue in and sucking gently.
    Catherine lowered herself between his legs.  His penis lay flat against his stomach, and for a moment she could do nothing but gaze at it in awe.  She'd almost given up ever getting him in bed.  Yet here he was in all his beauty, his swollen manhood begging for her attention.
    Her fingers stroked the underside of the hardened shaft, trailing slowly against the long, thin blue vein that ran the entire length of it.  The vein pulsed with a life of its own.  Twin succulent globes, covered in a soft coating of pale gold velvet lay placid and vulnerable between his powerful thighs.  Catherine cradled them, squeezing gently; they quivered and grew taut under her tender attack.
    Vincent's moans of pleasure urged her on.  She knew he was crazy with desire and need, but Catherine was determined to prolong his pleasure as long as possible.  She wanted his first time to be something he would never forget.
   Catherine turned her attention to the tip of his penis.  It was darkened to a rosy hue and a clear liquid seeped from the opening.  She heard Vincent's sharp intake of breath as she smoothed the fluid over the sensitive head in a slow, circular motion with her fingertip.
    Vincent felt her hair settle over his bare thighs as Catherine's head moved lower still.  He gripped the edge of the bed, twisting handfuls of sheet, as he waited anxiously for the feel of her there.
    A strong, musky scent invaded her senses.  His name screamed silently in her mind.  Giving in to pure instinct, Catherine took him gently into her mouth.
    Vincent thought he would die of sheer pleasure.  He'd dreamed of her loving him so many times, so many ways, but nothing had prepared him for this.  Catherine's mouth tasting him, teasing him in this most intimate way.  Never had he believed such pleasure existed.
    "Catherine." Her name escaped his lips in a hoarse whisper.
    Vincent arched sharply against her ravaging mouth as Catherine licked and sucked, tasted and devoured him.  Her mouth was hot and wet and unmerciful in its goal to bring him the sweetest pleasure he'd ever known.  Through their bond, she knew she was succeeding.
    Catherine continued her ruthless assault until Vincent felt himself on the verge of losing control.  A deeply buried, primal instinct asserted itself suddenly and he felt a stronger urge to fulfill their relationship for the first time in another way.
    "Catherine, please stop."
    Catherine heard him vaguely through the haze of passion that engulfed her.  Had she hurt him?  She pulled back and with one swift move, Vincent pulled her up to lie on top of him.  He held her in a gentle vise-like grip, desperately trying to get control of his desires.
    "Vincent, did I hurt you?  I'm sorry.  I've never done this before. I…"
    His blue eyes burned into hers as Catherine's words registered in his mind.  She'd been-with other men, but never in this way.  This experience was as new to her as it was to him, and Vincent was filled with a sense of pride.  His arms tightened their hold, and Catherine shivered under his steady gaze.
    His arousal poked insistently at her belly.  Catherine was amazed at his control.  She tried to wiggle free, to complete the task she'd begun earlier, but Vincent held her fast.  Tugging on her chin, his eyes pinned her with a look of wonder.
    "Never, Catherine?" His voice trembled.
    Catherine shook her head.  She placed a small kiss in his palm, whispering softly, "This is so much more …"  Her eyes lowered shyly.  ". . . more intimate than making love the usual way.  There was never anyone I felt this urge with." She kissed his mouth lightly.  "Until now.  Please, Vincent, let me finish loving you.  You haven't…" Her hand grasped his erection.  "I want to give you the same pleasure you gave me."
    Vincent pulled her hand free, slowly rolling her onto her back.  His large body covered hers completely and Catherine trembled violently in expectation.  The combination of rough padding and velvety fur was her downfall as his large hands caressed her silky skin.  She clutched at him frantically, allowing him to take the lead.  His mouth captured hers in a tender kiss filled with promises of things to come.
    "I want to love you, too, Catherine.  Completely.  I have to love you." He took a deep breath, once more trying to steady his emotions.
    "Catherine, I want my first time to be the way it was meant to be.  I want to come inside you.  I need to feel myself in you.  I need to feel my body being possessed completely by yours."
    She slid her hand between them to grasp him, guiding him to her.  Arching her back sharply, she gasped as he filled her completely in one quick thrust.  Catherine wrapped her legs around his hips, encouraging him to fill her even more.  He moved within her, thrusting once, twice.  His release was swift.  The quiet was shattered with his loud roar as his climax came fast and hard.
    Catherine caressed his broad back, her slender fingers combing through the thick covering of fur.  Vincent shuddered violently and collapsed in her arms, whispering her name.  His movements slowed, as he buried his face in her neck.
    Her body tingled with tiny, pin-point threads of pleasure that filtered through their bond, and Catherine was delighted to realize that she could feel the aftermath of his orgasm.
    The tingling increased steadily as she held him close, and she could feel him, still hard, buried deep within her.  Catherine tightened her legs about him whispering, "Don't stop, Vincent."
    Vincent felt her arousal and moved to once more fulfill his beloved's needs.  Slipping his hands beneath her, he cupped her buttocks, thrusting smoothly, deeply within her.  Catherine screamed his name as her body once again shuddered in climax.
Vincent rolled to his side, bringing Catherine with him.  They clung together, bodies spent, savoring the afterglow of contentment and the joy of being, at long last, one in body as well as heart and soul.
    Catherine sighed contentedly and burrowed deeper into his embrace as fatigue overtook her.  Feeling her exhaustion, Vincent encouraged her to sleep.  He cuddled her close as he reached to pull the quilt over them to ward off the chill of the night air.
    "Sleep, Catherine.' Vincent felt her tense slightly as she mumbled something incoherent.  Knowing the source of her distress, he hastened to assure her.  "I'll hold you while you sleep, my love."  He kissed her forehead tenderly.  "'I'll be here when you awaken.  I promise.  Sleep, Catherine."
    His soft voice and promise reassured her, and Catherine floated off on the wings of slumber, safe and content in the arms of her golden knight.