A Life Worth Waiting For

Kathy

Chapter 1

"Itís so good to see you, Peter." Catherine gave him a big hug. "How does it feel to be back in your home?"

"Oh no, itís your home now. Iím just happy that itís Ďstill in the familyí so to speak. When I delivered you 34 years ago, I never imagined that you would be living in my old brownstone some day." Peter looked around. "You havenít changed it much."

"No, itís perfect just the way it is. I love all the rich wood, the stone fireplace, the secluded back yard and best of all . . . the tunnel entrance."

"Speaking of tunnel entrances; how is our favorite tunnel dweller? Are things still the same between you two?" Peter poured himself a scotch and sat in one of the leather chairs in the den.

"Pretty much; he comes to visit me here on Tuesdays and Fridays and I generally spend all day Saturday in the tunnels." Catherine sat down opposite Peter. "Heís been so reserved since his illness. I doubt that things will ever change between us. I wish for so much more . . . a real life with the man I love . . . but if this is all that he can give . . . then it will have to do. I know that I canít live without him in my life."

"And what about our last conversation; are you still determined to go through with it?" Peter was thinking back to the emotional phone call they had had last month. That was one of the reasons he had made this visit.

"Oh yes, I am more determined than ever. Iíve made an appointment for next week."

"Have you told Vincent?"

"No, but I intend to. The timing just hasnít been right."

"Youíve got to tell him . . . this is a big decision. It will affect your relationship a great deal."

"I know . . . and I will." Catherine was anxious to change the subject. "How do you like retirement?"

"Actually, I just offered my services as a Ďtemporaryí doctor. I will be filling in for vacationing doctors at nearby hospitals. Itís a way to keep my hand in medicine without the demands of a practice."

"Thatís great. I figured that all that sunshine and golf would get old after a while." Catherine laughed.

"So what about your career; are you still enjoying teaching at Columbia Law School?

"Oh yes, I am so glad that I made the switch. Do you realize that itís been over a year since I left the DAís office? I donít regret it one bit. For Joeís sake I tried to give the trial division a shot . . . but it wasnít for me. I get paid peanuts compared to the Ďtenuredí professors, but thatís not my motivation; I really love interacting with the students . . . giving them the benefit of my experience and knowledge both as a corporate lawyer and an assistant D A."

"And . . . itís much safer. I canít say that Iím sorry you gave up that dangerous job. Iím sure that Vincent is as well."

"Iím not sure why I did it for so long. Stubbornness I guess . . . my need to prove something to myself after living such a pampered and indulgent lifestyle for so long. It wasnít worth it . . . I have such feelings of guilt for dragging Vincent into danger. How many times did I almost get him captured or killed?" Catherine shuddered. "Not to mention, myself?"

"Well thatís all behind you now. You certainly donít need the money. Youíre a wealthy, beautiful young woman with her whole life ahead of her. I just hope that everything works out the way you want it to . . .

********

That had been last week. Catherine could not delay her conversation with Vincent any longer. He would be here around 8:00. She ate the sandwich she had picked up on her way home, took a quick shower and dressed in a cream sweater and matching slacks. Gone were the slinky nightgowns of days past. She wanted Vincent to be entirely comfortable around her and in her new home.

He would see Catherine this evening. He had looked forward to seeing her all day. In the past, he had tried many times to get Catherine to pursue a romantic relationship with another. She had steadfastly refused. He finally had given up, deciding that she knew her own heart and that he had no right to make the decision for her. He was just thankful to have her in his life. They had settled into a safe meaningful relationship. He knew that they both wanted Ďmoreí but it wasnít worth the risk of losing what they already had.

"Youíre here! Iím so glad." Catherine opened the door wide as she greeted her handsome visitor.

Vincent offered her a quick embrace and a very soft peck on the cheek. This had become their hello and farewell routine or sorts. "Catherine, you look lovely this evening. I have missed you."

"As I have you, Vincent. Please have a seat in the den. Would you care for some wine?"

"Yes, that sounds wonderful. Thank you." Vincent regarded Catherine intently. There was a storm of emotions roiling within Catherine. While the bond had never fully returned, Vincent could sense Ďstrongí emotions such as the ones she was experiencing this evening.

After getting their drinks, Catherine sat in the chair opposite Vincent near the fireplace. "How was your day?

"It was good. We are reading Wuthering Heights in my literature class. The relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff always makes for a fascinating discussion. "

He looked over at Catherine, "How was your day?" He was hoping that she would bring up what was bothering her so.

Catherine had been looking at her hands and seemed to just realize that the conversational ball was already in her court. "Oh, it was fine, really. I brought home a few papers to grade but didnít feel much like tackling that chore this evening. I decided to wait until tomorrow or the next day to review them."

She went on, "Vincent, I have something of a personal nature to discuss with you this evening. Itís something to which I have given a great deal of consideration and would very much like your thoughts on the matter."

Vincent was intrigued. "Of course Catherine, what is it?"

"Vincent, you know that I love children." Catherine sat for a moment to gather her thoughts before continuing.

When Vincent noticed that Catherine seemed to be waiting for some sort of signal to continue, he nodded. "Yes, Catherine, youíre very fond of the children below and they are equally fond of you." He waited, knowing that she had much more to say.

"Vincent, Iím seriously considering raising a child and would like to know what you think?"

Vincent was taken aback somewhat by her statement and it took him a couple of seconds to respond. "I am certain that you would make a wonderful mother; but Catherine, it is a huge responsibility to be a single parent."

"I know that it will be difficult for me since I am alone, but lots of single women have children. I will have to hire someone to care for the child when Iím at work, but I can handle most everything else. The one thing that I want mostly to discuss with you . . . is to ask whether you will help in the parenting of the child. You are a wonderful role model to the children below and I know that many of them think of you as a father or big brother, at the very least. This child would benefit so much from the love and guidance you could provide."

Vincent considered his answer carefully. "I can think of no reason why I would not be able to assist you if you adopt a child; unless, of course, you hire someone outside of the tunnel community as your nanny."

"I can think of no reason why I would not be able to assist you; unless, of course, you hire someone outside of the tunnel community as your nanny."

Catherine gave Vincent a quick smile and then made a statement that shook him to his very foundation.

"Actually Vincent, Iíve been to a couple of doctors recommended to me by Peter for a consultation, and they both agree that I am an excellent candidate for artificial insemination. Iím going to be able to have a child of my own." She looked up at Vincent hopefully and when she saw that he wasnít going to respond, she continued.

"I know that giving birth to a child is somewhat selfish when there are so many children out there that need a good home, but I just canít get the desire to bear my own child out of my heart and mind. You know that Iíve always wanted a child of my own."

Catherine took a deep breath. "Vincent, I just donít want to look back in five years and realize that I waited too long."

Vincent studied his hands for a moment before responding. "You have caught me somewhat off guard. I must say that this . . . is unexpected." Vincent could feel his heart racing but managed to keep his tone calm. "Is it safe?"

"Yes, quite safe. But Iím going to need your help getting through this. It is a very emotional path that Iím undertaking. The fertility drugs will affect my moods not to mention the expectation of success at each attempt and the unavoidable failures. I need to know that youíre really willing to see me through with this to the end."

"Of course; I will support anything you choose to do. Especially something that means so much to you." Vincent felt numb. With a great deal of trepidation, he asked . . . "Who will be the father?"

"I will use an anonymous donor. Donors are prescreened and then the sperm is stored until itís needed." Catherine was bubbling with excitement. "I know that itís a big decision. Iíve given it a lot of thought and you have just been Ďthrown into ití. Just know that this is truly what I want. It will make me so very happy to have a baby of my own."

Vincent took in a deep breath and released it very slowly as he spoke words that cut him deeply. "Then you must do it."

*********

Vincent left that evening feeling like he had been flattened by a steam roller. He felt certain that he had said all of the proper encouraging things to Catherine and even meant them, but he felt raw and unhappy. The thought of Catherine giving birth to a child Ė a child that wasnít his Ė was much more troubling to him than he ever dreamed it would be. Why had he agreed to all of this when it was tearing him apart?

Of course he knew why he had agreed. He had to support her. He had no choice. This was important to her and he would do anything she asked. He would die for her. He almost wished that she would have asked for just that, rather than for him to support her through a pregnancy by another man. Even if that man was anonymous, it was still another man.

However, what choice did she have? She wanted to bear a child of her own. He certainly had never offered to father her children. He had never even given her the offer of a sexual relationship with him. His fears of intimacy stemmed from many deep rooted beliefs - the danger of hurting or even killing her during passion along with the very real fear that a child fathered by him would inherit his features. The other reason, one which he had never shared with Catherine, was because of the horrible dream that he had experienced during his illness where Catherine and his unborn child were kidnapped and she was subsequently killed. He knew now that it was only a dream, but it still made him shudder just thinking about it.

*********

Catherine was extremely happy that Vincent had taken her news so well but, at the same time, was somewhat disappointed that he had accepted it so easily. If she had harbored any small hope that Vincent was still considering any sort of physical relationship with her, his reaction to this news had dashed those hopes aside. She was relieved and hurt at the same time. Oh well, at least he had agreed to be her support through the process and that was exactly what she had wanted, wasnít it? Since Jenny had gotten married and moved out of state and Nancy lived so far away and was busy with her own family, it was only natural that Vincent would be her companion through this ordeal. He was closer to her anyway. They were soul-mates Ė platonic soul-mates Ėbut soul-mates none-the-less.

Today was Thursday and she had an appointment with Dr. Warner, a very prominent fertility doctor in the city. She was anxious to start the process. By this time next year, she would hopefully have a baby in her arms. The thought filled her with a warm loving feeling. With that thought, she entered Dr. Warnerís office.

"Ms. Chandler, I see from your chart that you are going to be using an anonymous donor, is that correct?"

"Yes, doctor, I am not married and the only person I would want to have a child with has a physical deformity that he fears would be passed along to any children that he would father."

"I see," said the doctor. "Well, before we begin this process, we could analyze your partnerís sperm to confirm whether this defect is indeed something that could be passed on. We have very advanced equipment and ensure complete confidentiality."

Catherine thought about it for a couple of minutes before answering. "Iím certain he wonít agree. His fears are just too great."

Dr. Warner didnít press the issue but handed her a specimen cup just in case. Catherine took the cup and placed it in her purse without a word.

"Well, the first step is to track your ovulation for a couple of months so that we will know the optimal time for insemination. Weíll also get you started on the fertility drugs when you feel youíre ready. I think we will be ready to start the insemination sometime after the holidays; perhaps as early as February? Does that sound satisfactory?"

It was already nearing the end of October. "Yes, doctor, that sounds great."

********

"Father, could I speak with you?" Vincent looked over at his parent who was studying a schematic from Mouse on some new showers.

Father took off his glasses and looked up at his son. "Of course, Vincent; I donít think Iíve seen you since you went up to see Catherine on Tuesday evening. You have made yourself scare these past couple of days. Is anything wrong?"

Vincent sat down across from Father and laid his hands on the table. "Father, I want to talk to you about Catherine. This is a very personal matter and I would ask that you not discuss it with anyone."

"Of course, Vincent, I will keep this in strict confidence." Father didnít like the tone of this discussion. He hoped that Vincent wasnít considering becoming intimate with Catherine. They had discussed this before and he still believed that there was just too much inherent risk involved.

"Father, Catherine has decided to have a baby. She is planning to have a procedure done called artificial insemination. Can you explain this procedure to me?"

Father looked stunned but also relieved. "Well, I have certainly read about this procedure. It can be quite successful for some women and perfectly safe. It is basically introducing sperm into a womanís vagina by a means other than sexual intercourse. Semen is collected and frozen and then introduced into the vagina or cervix with a needleless syringe during ovulation."

Vincent sat silently as he digested the information.

Father waited for a response but when there was none, he spoke again. "When you first mentioned that Catherine was going to have this procedure done, I was a little surprised; but considering her age, marital status and affection for children, it makes sense. Do you know who the donor is?"

"She is using an anonymous donor." Vincent offered no further information.

"And you are upset about this? Are you thinking about how this will affect your relationship?" Jacob knew that this was causing Vincent a great deal of pain but did not know what he might say to soften the blow.

Vincent looked down at his hands. "Catherine wants me to support her through this undertaking. I want to be there for Catherine, but a part of me is very uncomfortable with it."

Father studied Vincent for a moment "Talk to me about whatís making you uncomfortable?"

Vincent leaned back in his chair and moaned softly before answering. "I think it makes me uncomfortable that she will be carrying another manís child. I know that I canít father her children, but at the same time I donít want anyone else to. I know that it is selfish of me to feel this way, but I just canít help it. What am I to do?"

Father chose his words carefully. "If this is indeed the course that Catherine has chosen, you must either support her or break from the relationship entirely. I donít think she would be able to forgive you for not supporting her during such a monumental event in her life."

Vincent smiled sadly as he nodded. "Of course, you are correct. I know this in my heart, but it is going to be very hard to do."

********

"The children look so wonderful in their Halloween costumes. Who do you think will win the costume judging contest?" Catherine had her arm folded through Vincentís as they wove their way through the excited children.

"Iím one of the Ďofficialí judges so it would be improper for me to speculate. However, I must say that Samantha has outdone herself this evening.

Catherine laughed. "Yes, that fairy costume is lovely. Iím sure she got a lot of help from Mary. And look at Kipper. That Harry Potter costume is adorable."

"How did the pumpkin carving go? I am sorry that I missed it."

"Once I got the children to stop throwing pumpkin seeds at each other, it went quite well. There was one sticky situation when Amanda began to cry because she dropped her Jack o Lantern. Her tears stopped when I gave her the pumpkin I had carved as a Ďprizeí."

"That was a very thoughtful thing for you to do. You turned what could have been a very sad experience for a little girl into a wondrous memory for her." Vincent hugged her and kissed the top of her head. He loved her so much and was so proud of the way she interacted with the children. She really would make a wonderful mother.

Catherine beamed at Vincentís praise. "Itís almost time for our party Ďaboveí. The caterer came earlier and left all of the goodies for the Ďchocolate barí. I think Iíll slip out and finish getting things ready for our guests. Iíll see you soon."

Catherine could smell the scent of chocolate as she entered her kitchen. Imported chocolates, chocolate liquors, brownies, chocolate covered strawberries and more, covered every available surface of her kitchen, dining room and den. It was a mild October evening, so Catherine had also had some treats set up on a few small tables outside in the garden.

Long ago, Peter had a beautiful covered porch built that was completely secluded from view by any of the neighbors. There were six foot high stone and brick walls around the garden with an additional foot of lattice work around the top. It was a place Ďoutsideí where Vincent felt entirely safe.

Vincent arrived about a half an hour later. He walked into the kitchen and looked over at Catherine who was busy setting out some Halloween napkins. He loved to watch her, especially when she was unaware. It gave him the freedom to admire her beauty. He loved her so much his heart hurt.

His breath caught when he suddenly thought about her impending pregnancy. He had successfully pushed the thought aside all day, but when he had been admiring her slim figure, he suddenly envisioned her body changing as the baby grew inside her. He really hated the thought and just couldnít honestly share in the joy that it brought to Catherine. He once again wished that it could be his baby and not some unknown donor. He knew that there were a lot of normal men who couldnít give their wives children for various reasons, so he wasnít unique in that respect. Had he actually thought of Catherine as his wife? He had. He had secretly wanted Catherine to be his wife for years. It had been his dream. He and Catherine had never really defined their Ďdreamí. But for his part, a life with Catherine as his wife had always been his. It was impossible. How could he have Catherine as his wife and not be her lover? That wasnít a marriage - that was a roommate. He shook off his troubling thoughts and walked over to Catherine.

"What may I do to help?" Vincent looked around at the calorie laden offering and the tastefully decorated room.

Catherine grasped Vincentís hand and smiled. "Everything is ready. All we need now are our guests."

Vincent felt a little thrill at her inclusion of him when she said, Ďour guestsí instead of Ďmy guestsí. She was always so thoughtful of his feelings and he felt like he didnít give back nearly as much to Catherine as she gave to him. He was so very lucky to have her in his life.

At that moment, Mouse and Jamie knocked on the basement door. Catherine rushed over to fling open the door and greet their guests. She hugged them both and offered them a drink. More and more guests began to arrive and pretty soon Catherineís home was filled with laughter and conversation. She walked over to Vincent and leaned against him. "Vincent, I think everyone is having a really good time. Iím so glad that we planned this Ďadult onlyí party."

He had just enjoyed some of the chocolate liquor and a brownie and was licking his fingers. "Yes, it is quite a success. You have truly made them feel welcome in your home and I am very much enjoying the chocolate."

Catherine smiled up at Vincent and wiped a little bit of chocolate off his upper lip with her finger. Vincent felt a tremor throughout his body at that intimate touch, but Catherine hadnít seemed to notice his reaction. She just leaned back against his side and looked over the crowd.

"Vincent, would you like to go back outside with me for a while? Itís such a lovely evening and I hate to waste this good weather. These nice days will be more and more rare now."

Vincent nodded his agreement and took Catherineís hand to lead her outside into the garden. The stars were very visible tonight and he stared up at them and then back at Catherine. Her face was shining with happiness. He could feel her joy through the Bond as it flowed through her with such intensity.

Around midnight, the last of their friends from below had left and she and Vincent were alone. He was leaning against the kitchen counter with his forehead in his left hand. Tenderly Catherine walked up behind Vincent and touched his shoulder.

"Vincent, whatís wrong? Are you ill?"

He turned to look down into her eyes but he couldnít focus very well and felt very dizzy. "I donít really feel ill, but if I didnít know better, I would think that I had drunk too much wine. I only had three glasses over the course of the evening but I just canít think of any other reason for the way I feel."

Catherine thought for a moment. "How many chocolate liquor shots did you have?"

Vincent gave her a look of surprise. "Catherine, I didnít realize those had alcohol in them. They tasted so good I must have drunk a dozen or so of them."

Catherine laughed softly and led Vincent over to a chair in the den. "I think you better sit here for a while before trying to go below. Iíll make some coffee."

After a few minutes, Catherine walked back into the den to tell Vincent that the coffee was brewing. As she passed by Vincent to sit in the chair beside his, he reached up and grabbed her around the waist and sat her into his lap.

"Sit with me for a while. I love that costume that you have on." He pulled her up closely to his chest and placed his mouth on the top of her head.

Catherine gasped as he grabbed her, but put up no resistance. Vincent hadnít mentioned her costume before. She had worn a very form fitting black witchís costume that showed her curves off to their best advantage. She could feel his warm breath on top of her head.

He kept his mouth against her head so long, that she thought he had fallen asleep. She pulled back to look up into his eyes to confirm her suspicion. Rather than being asleep, he looked down into her eyes and then further down to her mouth.

Catherineís heart stopped beating for a second and then started beating furiously as he gave her a sultry gaze.

He started leaning closer and closer to her waiting lips. Finally, he touched her lips with his.

She actually felt that soft kiss all the way down to her toes.

He pulled back just a fraction to look into her eyes. His were hazy with passion. He closed the gap to her lips and kissed her more passionately.

After a few seconds, Catherine opened her mouth slightly and touched his lips with her tongue. He immediately opened his mouth and allowed her access to his. When he twined his moist tongue with hers, she felt like she had gone to heaven.

"Oh Catherine, you taste so good; even better than chocolate." Vincent continued to kiss her. In the back of his mind there was a part of him screaming to stop this dangerous path but he wasnít listening. His mind was fuzzy from the alcohol and it just felt too good to stop. He moaned softly and pulled her even closer.

He shifted slightly in the chair and Catherine immediately felt the reason for the adjustment. He was obviously becoming very aroused. She could feel his throbbing penis against her thigh. She sighed and moved her hand down from its resting place on his shoulder to his chest. She rubbed her hand in circles on his chest while Vincent continued kissing her more and more passionately. "You taste good too."

Vincent moved his hand down along her arm and let it rest on her thigh.

Catherine was certainly enjoying this intimacy very much but wanted more. She was afraid to make any aggressive move for fear that Vincent would come to his senses and leave. Unsure, but becoming more and more aroused, Catherine finally couldnít resist. She moved her hand from Vincentís chest and placed it on his straining erection.

"Oh Catherine, yes, touch me. That feels so . . . good."

Once Catherine touched Vincent so intimately, it was like a spark had been lit. He brought his lips down on hers more forcefully and began to push rhythmically against her hand.

Emboldened by his actions, Catherine unzipped his pants and reached inside to grasp his aroused flesh. She freed his penis and began stroking him with gusto.

He moaned and growled low in his throat as he surged into her hand.

She could tell that he was way beyond rational thought. Catherine stroked harder and faster and after a few minutes he rose up halfway from the chair as his climax consumed him.

"Catherine" . . . he growled her name while his seed pulsed out of him onto his and Catherineís clothes and her hand. Vincent sank back into the chair and began to breathe more calmly while holding her close and rubbing her back.

She couldnít believe this had just happened. While she was trying to sort through her thoughts and prepare herself for the fallout of this miraculous event, she realized that Vincent had stopped rubbing her back and appeared to have fallen asleep.

Catherine suddenly remembered the specimen cup. She eased herself off Vincentís lap and went to retrieve it from her bathroom cabinet. She didnít think about her motivation for keeping his semen. It just seemed very important to her at the moment. She scraped it off her hand and clothes and then walked back to where Vincent sat sleeping and carefully scraped the semen into the cup and sealed it. There was a great deal of it. Unsure as to what she should do with it, she decided to put it into the refrigerator to preserve it. She stood with the refrigerator door open staring at the semen in the cup. This precious fluid was the very essence of Vincent.

Catherine walked from the kitchen and sat in the chair across from Vincent and stared at him. His pants were still unzipped. Catherine had secretly wondered for a very long time whether he was endowed like any other man. Now she had her answer. Not only was he shaped like any other man, his manhood was longer and thicker than any penis she had ever seen before. Arguably, she was no expert, having only had two lovers, but still. Wow.

He looked so relaxed and vulnerable. Sadly, he probably wasnít going to remember what had happened between them. He certainly hadnít been himself. Reluctantly, Catherine rose from her chair and went over to adjust Vincentís clothing. She gingerly placed Vincentís now flaccid penis back into his pants and zipped them. She got a moist washcloth and washed off his clothes so there wouldnít be any residue stains from the dried semen to embarrass him. She sat back and closed her eyes. Uncertain as to what tomorrow would bring in terms of consequences, Catherine decided to just enjoy watching Vincent sleep as she replayed the last half hour in her mind.

What if Vincentís sperm could be used for the insemination procedure? What a wonderful thought. She could have Vincentís child. She would call the doctor first thing Monday morning and discuss the possibility. Could she trust him to run the tests with complete confidentiality? If so, Vincentís sperm could be frozen until her optimal ovulation window. She knew it was wrong to consider using Vincentís sperm without his knowledge or permission, but she would deal with the guilt tomorrow. Tonight she wanted to enjoy this experience and all of its wonderful possibilities.

Chapter 2

Vincent woke first. He groggily looked around the room and over at a sleeping Catherine. She was curled up in the chair across from him by the fire. It was a gas fireplace and was set at a very low level. It was warm and cozy here with the firelight as the only source of illumination. The events after the party were very hazy to Vincent but he felt sure that he remembered kissing Catherine. He also remembered bits and pieces of much more intimate embraces and touches but he wasnít sure what was real, imagined or dreamed. Whatever had happened, Catherine certainly looked at peace. She had stayed here with him in the den. He had obviously fallen asleep in this chair. He moved slightly but his head started pounding and he felt very nauseated. He desperately needed to get up to use the restroom and then make his way below, but was afraid to move for fear that he might vomit. He was feeling panicky.

As Vincent frantically tried to decide what to do, Catherine awoke. Catherine looked over at Vincent. "Vincent, how do you feel this morning? Are you feeling sick?"

Vincent moaned and slightly shook his head in the affirmative.

"Vincent, Iím going to get you a couple of aspirin and a glass of water."

Vincent nodded again but was forced to talk to Catherine even though he was terribly embarrassed. "Catherine, I need to go to the bathroom very badly but Iím afraid that if I move, I might vomit."

Catherine jumped up to go get Vincent a bowl and brought it back to him. She leaned down and put her arm around his shoulders to help support him. "Vincent, try to get up and Iíll help you make it to the bathroom next to the kitchen. If you need to vomit, just use the bowl. Trust me; Iíve been through this scenario many times in the past during my college years. Itís nothing to be ashamed of. I should have warned you about those chocolate shots. They are very potent and can really sneak up on a person."

Vincent was grateful for her assistance even though his cheeks were burning with embarrassment. What else could he do? With her help, he made it to the restroom without incident. After he had relieved himself, and splashed some water on his face and swished out his mouth, he felt a little better. He finally emerged from the restroom and walked toward the kitchen where he heard Catherine moving around.

Catherine had made coffee and offered Vincent a cup, but he shook his head.

"Catherine, I am so sorry that I fell asleep in your home last night. I hope that I didnít do anything that would be considered inappropriate." After taking the aspirin Catherine had offered him earlier, he shyly continued on very quietly. "Catherine, did I kiss you last night? I have a vague recollection of intimacy but Iím not sure whether it is real or imagined. I can only apologize for my actions and beg your forgiveness."

Catherine put her hand out and touched Vincentís cheek softly. "Vincent, there is no need for apologies. We did indeed kiss last evening and it was wonderful. I hope we might repeat it in the future when youíre more aware. You know you are always welcome to spend the night here sleeping in that chair, but you would have been much more comfortable in the guest bedroom. I obviously couldnít move you, so I just let you sleep here in the den. You seemed to be sleeping so soundly and I enjoyed having your company."

Catherine didnít mention the extremely intimate act that they had shared. If he didnít remember, perhaps it was for the best. He had remembered kissing her. That was certainly progress. Perhaps they could build from that point to much greater intimacy. He obviously desired her; otherwise he would not have kissed her so passionately and engaged in such intimate caresses and actions. At that moment, she was very hopeful about their future relationship.

Vincent was relieved that Catherine seemed so comfortable about last night. He wasnít sure how he felt about the whole situation, but he didnít really feel well enough to examine it too closely at this moment.

"Catherine, I need to get back below. I think I can make it now. Once again, I am terribly sorry about last night."

As Vincent was moving toward the basement door, Catherine rushed over to give Vincent a hug.

"Vincent, will I see you Tuesday evening?" She was afraid that he was too embarrassed and too frightened about last night to show his face in her home again anytime soon.

"Yes Catherine, Iíll come Tuesday evening at 8:00 unless I die from this headache first." He smiled a little ruefully as he walked through the door.

********

Catherine barely slept Sunday evening. She kept thinking and worrying about speaking to the doctor. She was full of mixed anticipation and dread at the same time. Was she doing the right thing? She hadnít Ďstolení Vincentís sperm. He had readily given it up as he climaxed with her small hand furiously stroking his throbbing penis. Oh how she wished they could have shared more. His penis had felt like silk over steel as she stroked it. She moaned. Now that she had seen and felt that large organ in her hand, she literally ached to feel it inside her body.

Finally it was time to call the doctorís office. After being on hold for an eternity, she finally spoke to a nurse "Hello, this is Catherine Chandler. I have a sperm specimen that I collected Saturday evening... "

When she got off the phone with the nurse, she was relieved to find that the sperm should still be viable since she had kept it tightly sealed and stored in a cool environment. She was to bring the specimen right away to the office and could see the doctor at 9:30 am. She quickly got ready, grabbed the specimen from the fridge and walked out the door into a waiting taxi.

Dr. Warner welcomed Catherine into his office at 9:45.

Catherine began the conversation. "Dr. Warner, I brought a sample of my partnerís sperm. But before I have it examined, I need to be assured of a couple of things regarding the confidentiality of the results."

Dr. Warner looked over at the young woman who sat anxiously across the desk from him. "Ms. Chandler, I can assure you that we have the highest level of integrity in this office and there has never been any hint of misconduct by anyone on my staff. Your confidentiality is assured."

Catherine stared at him intently. "Doctor, I know that you are a friend and colleague of Peter Alcottís. That is why I chose you as my physician. He delivered me when I was born and was my fatherís best man. I regard him as a surrogate father. I trust his judgment implicitly. However, there is a lot at stake here. My partner is very unique. As I told you previously, he has a physical deformity that is of a most unusual nature. He would be of particular interest in the scientific community due to his uniqueness. I cannot risk having him exposed. Is there any way that you could conduct the test yourself?"

Dr. Warner reached across the desk and placed his hand on Catherineís. "While I canít say that Iím not intrigued by all of this, I can assure you that I will perform the test myself. I can do the necessary lab work later this afternoon and have the results for you in a couple of days. I assume this means that you are now considering using your partnerís sperm for the insemination?"

Catherine relaxed visibly and responded. "Yes, if there is no risk of the physical deformity, nothing would make me happier. I would not mind if the child looked like him, but I know he would be devastated." Catherine shifted slightly in her seat. "I hope there is enough for both the testing as well as the insemination process. Iím not sure whether he will agree to another Ďsampleí. It wasnít easy getting this one."

Dr. Warner chuckled. "I know a lot of prospective fathers have difficulty performing for a specimen cup. As long as you got a fairly good size sample, there shouldnít be any problem. Weíll freeze the remaining sperm for use later."

A much relieved Catherine got up to leave the doctorís office with the promise of a call as soon as possible with the results. Catherine chuckled to herself at Dr. Warnerís comment about the difficulty of men performing for a specimen cup. If he only knew!

**********

Vincent had rested all day Sunday on his bed in his chamber. Once he had finally made it below that morning, he had grabbed a change of clothes and headed for the bathing chamber. He soaked for a long time and then practically crawled to his bed. He would never ever indulge in chocolate shots again! He might swear off alcohol entirely. Father had certainly lectured the tunnel community of the ill effects of alcohol use often enough. So far he had been able to avoid Father. He didnít want to explain why he had stayed out all night nor why he was in such bad shape today. He was a grown man after all and didnít need to be lectured.

That evening Vincent finally felt well enough to seek out Father.

"Father, Iím sorry that I didnít come see you this morning. I was very tired and spent the day resting."

Father looked over at his son who was now in a reclining pose in the chair opposite his. "Vincent, I understand from a few of the others that you quite enjoyed last evening and might have been a little tipsy. While I donít condone such behavior mind you, you seem to have suffered no permanent ill effects. I was somewhat worried by your absence. I assume that you spent the night above in Catherineís home?"

"Yes Father. I fell asleep in a chair in the den and slept there until morning. I must say that Catherine was very gracious and understanding, although I admit that I was very embarrassed." He might as well explain further. "I unwittingly consumed a large quantity of chocolate liquor that I was not accustomed to. That along with some very potent wine left me feeling quite intoxicated. It was a very strange feeling and one I donít plan on repeating in the future."

Father smiled. "Yes, Vincent. I remember from my youth some very Ďintoxicatedí episodes. I just trust that you didnít do anything inappropriate while Ďunder the influenceí."

Vincent smiled to himself. "I know that I kissed Catherine but unfortunately I canít remember it very well. I only have a sensation of warmth and happiness when I try to remember it in more detail."

Father looked concerned. "Well, I suppose all things considered, thatís not too significant unless you plan to continue this questionable behavior in the future."

Vincent looked over at his concerned parent. "Iím not really sure Father. I thought I would feel guilty this morning about kissing Catherine, but I donít. I am embarrassed about the intoxication, but not about the kiss. I will have to think on it."

Father felt a tirade coming on but suppressed his emotional outburst. He knew from past experience that Vincent would not tolerate it. Vincent was well aware of the dangers and his limitations in this regard. It would serve no purpose to remind him.

***********

Late Tuesday afternoon the caterers arrived to retrieve their containers as well as the rented tables in the garden. Catherine told them how pleased she had been with the entire affair and tipped them generously. She spent the rest of the day cleaning. She must admit that her home was in great condition considering the number of people who had attended the party. The tunnel folk were unlike her usual guests. They had picked up after themselves and made sure that nothing was spilled or broken. They were definitely the best behaved group she ever entertained. She had hosted a couple of parties for them since buying the brownstone. That was just another one of the perks of having a home with tunnel access. Of course the biggest perk was giving access to a particular tunnel dweller with beautiful blue eyes and a sultry voice. She shivered just thinking about Vincent arriving soon. She was very much looking forward to their evening together.

Vincent was anxious as well. He tingled with anticipation when he thought of possibly kissing Catherine. He knew that he had enjoyed it because of the sensations that he experienced whenever he thought about Saturday evening. It was overwhelming at times. As he neared Catherineís tunnel entrance, his pants became very snug. He had been battling this problem all day. He was usually able to suppress his desires more successfully. He was thankful for the cloak which would keep his aroused state hidden until he could regain his composure. As he climbed the basement stairs, Catherine was already opening the door to welcome him.

"Vincent, Iím so happy to see you. I have missed you a great deal."

Once Vincent got to the top of the stairs he grabbed Catherine into his arms for an uncharacteristically tight hug. "Catherine, I have missed you as well. I must admit that I have been thinking about kissing you again all day. If you would permit it, I would very much like to kiss you now."

Catherine looked deeply into Vincentís eyes and nodded her head. "Please."

Vincent leaned down and without any hesitation, captured Catherineís lips. This kiss was less passionate than the ones shared Saturday evening, but it was still a toe curling experience.

Catherine leaned into the kiss and probed tentatively with her tongue. She wanted to initiate the type of kiss they had enjoyed Saturday evening.

Vincent did not disappoint her. He quickly escalated the kiss into something that was wildly passionate.

After a while, Catherine could feel Vincent regaining his composure and changing the tone of the kiss to something of a more chaste nature.

Finally he pulled away from Catherine and stepped back somewhat shakily.

"Catherine, I did not intend to kiss you like that. I donít know what came over me. Give me a minute to compose myself." He was breathing hard and kept his head down so that his long golden hair fell over his face.

Catherine knew that she needed to give him some space. She walked over to the kitchen counter to pour them a cup of coffee.

When Vincent finally looked back up at Catherine, she smiled and handed him a cup of coffee.

"Could I please have tea instead? My stomach is still a bit queasy and I believe that herbal tea might be more soothing."

Catherine immediately took the coffee back and fixed Vincent some herbal tea.

"Would you like some cake with your tea?" Catherine offered some lemon pound cake, assuming that he would not be interested in anything chocolate for a while.

"Not right now, thank you. Could we sit outside for a while?" He was feeling very warm and did not wish to remove his cloak at the present time for obvious reasons.

Catherine grabbed her heavy sweater off a hook on the way out the back door. She released Vincentís hand only long enough to put on the sweater. They sat down on the padded bench under the awning to enjoy the night, the tea and each other. Catherine leaned against Vincentís shoulder and he placed his arm around her.

Vincent didnít kiss Catherine again that night unless you counted the chaste little peck on the cheek he gave her as he left. She knew that he had felt out of control and had taken a long time to regain his composure. She also knew why he had left his cloak on. When he had impulsively embraced her in that fierce hug when he first arrived, she had clearly felt his erection. He probably would have died from embarrassment if he thought she had noticed. Although, how could she not? It was definitely a very large bulge in his groin area against her belly. Since he was so much taller than she, their bodies didnít line up to the best advantage. She had so wanted to feel that bulge closer to her feminine core. Thankfully she had suppressed her desire to grind herself against Vincentís thigh. She couldnít believe how aroused she had gotten, and how fast.

Vincent had returned from Catherineís in turmoil. When he had hugged Catherine so boldly when he first arrived, he had a very difficult time not pressing himself into her even harder to ease the pressure of his erection. Once he felt that his control was truly slipping, he had released her. He should not have suggested the kiss, but his desire had trumped his restraint. Oh and what a kiss. Catherineís passion had been just as great as his. He could feel it in her. He would have to be more careful in the future. He hadnít kissed her again that evening for fear that he would not be able to stop at a kiss. They would need to discuss this. He felt that maybe they could continue kissing if they set some parameters and went into it fully aware of the dangers. He just couldnít give up this sensation. Now that he had experienced it, he was addicted.

Catherine got a call from the doctorís office on Wednesday and was asked to meet the doctor at 2:00. She would be done with classes by then and could just make it to his office. She had cancelled classes on Monday because of her appointment and her nervous state. Today she managed to get through her classes without incident although her attention had definitely kept drifting to Vincent. She had to give herself a mental shake more than once to get back on topic. By 2:00 she was so anxious to hear what the doctor said that she forgot to push the desired floor on the elevator pad and rode all the way to the top of the building before realizing what she had done. She was a nervous wreck.

The nurse called Catherineís name and she walked into the office.

Dr. Warner motioned for Catherine to sit and opened her file. "I know you must be anxious for the results. Let me just say that after examining the specimen, I realize why you were so concerned about confidentiality and secrecy. I have never seen such an unusual specimen, to say the least. That said, I will go through the results to the best of my ability. You must understand that I cannot guarantee with one hundred percent accuracy any results of genetic testing. In this case, the results may be significantly less accurate than usual."

Catherine merely nodded, anxious for the doctor to continue.

"First, the sperm motility is excellent. That means that the chance of the sperm reaching its desired destination and penetrating the egg is very high. Also, there was plenty of sperm for me to do the analysis as well as at least two inseminations. As far as any disease, the print out does not show any negative findings. Most importantly, to be best of my knowledge, it appears that all of the unusual traits attributed to your partnerís appearance, are recessive genes. In the case of recessive genes, the other partner must also carry that recessive gene for it to manifest itself. I am fairly confident when I say that a child conceived between the two of you would not inherit any of these deformities. You must understand however, that the unusual genetic makeup of your partner might prevent conception. If conception does occur, it could spontaneously abort if your body rejects it. This can happen with all pregnancies, but it is more likely in this instance. I want you to understand this going into it. I just donít know enough about his differences to give you more accurate information. I donít know if anyone could. I assure you that I will not share this information with anyone. In fact, I will give you these printouts so that you will have them in your possession. I truly hope that this works out for you. You are a brave woman and must love this man very much."

Catherine was ecstatic. It looked like she would be able to have Vincentís child after all. If it were physically possible, that is. She hoped and prayed that they were compatible. It would be devastating to her to miscarry, but to lose Vincentís child would be unbearable.

She needed to get her act together and prepare for Vincentís arrival. She had received a note at the university through a helper that he would like to see her this evening, if possible. She had sent one back stating that she would love to see him.

Evening was quickly approaching. He would be there in a couple of hours. She showered and put on a dark red velvet pant outfit. It was casual and soft but very beautiful. There were no fastenings since the slacks had an elastic waistband and the top just pulled over her head. She had bought it while she was out this afternoon. She wanted to feel comfortable but pretty. It had turned cold today and she wanted a chance to snuggle with Vincent. She hoped that he would kiss her again. Her thoughts kept gravitating back to their shared intimacies. She felt guilty for withholding so much from Vincent, but she knew that she would frighten him away. She would withhold the truth forever if necessary. They had promised never to lie to each other, and her conscience did bother her, but she would just have to live with it. Their precarious sexual intimacy was at stake and it was too important to her to risk.

Once she was ready, she decided to rest for a while before Vincent arrived. She had taught class, gone to the doctor, shopped for a new outfit and stopped at the gourmet shop for some imported cheeses and crackers, all before coming home to prepare for Vincentís visit. She was suddenly very tired. Thinking that she would just rest for a few minutes on the sofa, Catherine quickly fell into a deep sleep.

When Vincent arrived at the top of the stairs, he was somewhat surprised that Catherine wasnít waiting with the door open as she had the day before. Maybe she wasnít as excited to see him as he had hoped. Or maybe that was a good thing. It would be better if Catherine was less enthusiastic in her greeting this evening. Her behavior on Tuesday had fueled his overly amorous hug and subsequent kiss. Yes, this was better. He knocked quietly on the door since he knew that she was either in the kitchen or the nearby den. He waited for a few moments and knocked again. This was very strange. Perhaps something had happened to delay Catherineís arrival home this evening. Maybe she was in one of the bedrooms upstairs for some reason. Torn with indecision, he waited for a while before turning the knob to let himself in. He could see that she had set out some cheeses on the counter along with a bottle of sparkling water. She must be home. He stepped further into the kitchen and closed the door behind him. No Catherine in the kitchen.

He walked into the den and beheld the most beautiful vision imaginable. Catherine was lying on the couch, asleep. She had one arm slung across her brow. Her body was clothed in a soft looking deep red lounging outfit that outlined her breasts, belly, hips and thighs as it rested against her skin. Vincent didnít know what was wrong with him. Why couldnít he control his arousal? He was at full sexual readiness at just the sight of his beautiful Catherine.

He went over and sat in the chair across from the couch and steadied his breathing. When he felt he was in control, he rose and walked over to where Catherine was layinglying. He bent down and stroked her cheek with his hand. What a contrast his furred and clawed hand made against her ivory skin. He dismissed the image and bent down to lightly touch his lips to hers.

She awoke at the touch and looked into his eyes and smiled.

"Vincent, Iím so sorry. I must have dozed off. Iím so glad that you came on in. I would have been terribly disappointed if you had left because I didnít answer the door. Will you promise me to always come on in if Iím not at the door?"

Vincent nodded. He couldnít deny her anything this evening. He loved her more at that moment than he thought was possible. His breath literally was caught in his throat. He started to feel light headed and made himself breathe. "Catherine, are you well? Do you feel up to having a visitor this evening?"

Catherine rose slowly from her reclining position. "Yes Iím well and youíre not just any visitor. Youíre my love and my life Vincent. I always welcome you. You know that."

Vincent smiled and reached out to hug Catherine. He was still on his knees beside the couch. He released her and rose up so he could turn and sit down on the couch beside Catherine. He pulled her back against him as he hugged her with both arms around her body. He leaned down to inhale her scent. He loved the smell of her hair and body. She must have bathed recently. He could smell the shampoo and soaps that she used but below that, was her unique scent. That was what he was really searching for when he pulled her close. He couldnít get enough of her scent. He unclasped his hands at her shoulder and rubbed the soft fabric. It felt wonderful against his roughened palms and finger tips. "Catherine, your outfit is very lovely this evening. I donít remember ever seeing it before."

Catherine reached out to stroke the fabric along her thigh. "I just bought it today. I needed to go downtown, so I took the opportunity to shop for something new. I also picked up some very delicious cheeses and crackers. Would you like some?"

Vincent released Catherine from the embrace and let his right hand rest on top of hers on her thigh. "Not just yet, I would rather sit here with you for a while. Is that all right?"

Catherine could think of nothing at that very moment that she would rather do. Well, that wasnít entirely true, but this was pretty darn terrific.

Vincent and Catherine sat there just staring at the fire for a long time. Their hands had entwined and were now resting on his left thigh. He felt like his skin was actually burning through his trousers at that touch. He was becoming very aroused again and needed to do something to break the spell. "Catherine, I think I would like some of the cheese now if it wouldnít be too much trouble."

Catherine was feeling a bit warm herself although she was not looking for a diversion as Vincent was. "Of course, Iíll get us some cheese and crackers. Would you like some wine or sparkling water?"

Vincent didnít need any stimulants this evening. "Iíll just have some sparkling water please. Iím swearing off wine for a while."

Catherine laughed as she got up from the couch to get their snack. "Iíll try not to Ďintoxicateí you this evening."

Vincent would have normally followed her into the kitchen, but he needed to get his body under control before he could stand up. He reached over for a magazine on the Arts that was lying on the end table. With that magazine over his lap he felt much better. There was an article about the New York Philharmonic that he opened to.

Catherine returned with their plates and glasses. "Here Vincent, the gourmet shop owner said that this was a very good cheese. I added some grapes which I think should complement the taste.

Vincent accepted the plate and took a bite of the cheese. "Um, yes this is delicious. You spoil me Catherine. I donít deserve you."

Catherine chuckled. "Well that may be . . . but youíve got me and nothing will make me ever stop loving you or spoiling you."

Catherine settled beside Vincent and they ate their grapes and cheese while they discussed the article on the philharmonic orchestra. He kept the article over his lap the entire evening just in case. He hadnít had this much trouble with erections since he was a teenager. During his early teen years he had needed to resort to masturbation to relieve his erections. Now that he was an adult, he rarely had to resort to such measures. He had much better control and could usually just focus his mind on something else until his blood cooled. Last night he had succumbed to relieving himself after a particularly erotic dream. He had dreamed that Catherine was stroking his penis while kissing him passionately. It had been so vivid that it felt like a memory rather than a dream. He had awakened extremely aroused and no amount of mental concentration or exposure to the cold tunnel air had cooled his throbbing erection. His climax had been shattering in intensity and had brought him a great sense of relief as well as guilt. He always felt guilty for giving in to his baser needs. His dreams about Catherine used to be sweet and innocent. No more, now they were filled with sexual fantasies, some extremely wanton. The dream last night had actually been pretty tame in content. It wasnít the act so much as the vividness of the dream. He could actually feel the textures of their skin and smell the scents of their arousal. He had to stop thinking about this. He was trying to hide his aroused flesh beneath a magazine. He would need a sofa cushion to hide his arousal if he kept thinking about that dream. Maybe he should leave.

Catherine had other thoughts. She had noticed how Vincent kept that magazine over his lap. She was a sexually experienced woman and wasnít fooled by his attempt to hide his erection. Ever since Saturday evening, she had been aware of his Ďparticularí problem. He must have the memory of their sexual encounter in his subconscious and it was trying to emerge. Maybe she should just tell him what happened. Should she? She didnít think the time was right. Instead, she decided to kiss him and she did just that.

Vincent was aware that Catherine was leaning closer to him. He could feel her breath on his neck.

"I want to kiss you, Vincent." She leaned slightly forward and turned her head so that she was staring directly into his eyes.

Chapter 3

His heart started pounding in his ears. As soon as her lips touched his, he wrapped his arms around her and turned her body into his. He took over and controlled the kiss now. Not only were his hands around her, he reached underneath the back of her velvet top so that he could touch her skin. Her back was so warm and her skin felt amazing. "Your skin is so soft . . . and warm."

He continued kissing her while his hands roamed over her flesh. Not satisfied with the skin on her back, he moved his hands around her torso and up to her breasts. She had on a flimsy bra that was hardly a barrier. He could feel her nipples through the lacy fabric covering. "Catherine? His voice was a soft whisper. Is this all right? Please, may I touch you?"

Catherine reached up between them and released the clasp at the front of her bra. "Yes, touch me . . . keep touching me."

Her words fueled his courage. He continued kissing her and caressing her breasts and nipples while pressing her back against the couch. He stopped kissing her long enough to watch her naked flesh being revealed as he slowly lifted her top. When it was high enough to expose her breasts, he stared at her aroused flesh with awe. Her nipples had hardened to stiff peaks and they were a deep pink color.

"Catherine?"

Oh, God, was he going to stop? Was he too frightened to continue? She swallowed her disappointment.

"Yes?"

She didnít move. She waited for him to decide what he wanted to do.

"Iíve wanted to taste you for so long." He stared into her eyes and then at her breasts. He leaned down and touched one peak with his tongue. One taste of her sweet nipple made him crave more. He wanted to take his time leisurely exploring her breasts as he had dreamed about, but his craving was too strong. He began licking and sucking her nipples in eagerly - ravenously. How had he ever resisted this?

Catherine was shocked at how her simple kiss had started this chain of events. Vincent had taken control immediately and was now doing the most incredible things to her breasts. She could feel his teeth, lips and tongue all over her breasts and nipples. She wanted more but knew that she needed to let Vincent set the pace. He had come so much farther than her expectations. To think that just last week they were still just kissing each otherís cheeks. Vincent was practically devouring her breasts at this point. She was just too warm with that velvet top around her shoulders and arms. She reached down and pulled it over her head so that she could get some cool air on her body.

Once Vincent realized what she was doing, he helped the process by sliding the straps of her bra down her arms and dropping it to the floor.

Vincent had a hand on one of her breasts and his mouth on the other one. His other hand was making its way down her belly to her waistband.

Catherine moaned.

Vincent lifted his head to make sure she was all right. "Tell me . . . tell me if you want me to stop."

"Oh no, please donít stop. I would die if you stopped." Catherineís voice was low and husky with desire.

The need to touch her and taste her made him ache. He had never felt this way before. Once he was assured that she wanted him to continue, he allowed himself to move his hand further down on her abdomen toward the object of his desire.

The sensations he was giving her were beyond amazing. She felt her tissues moistening even more as his hand got closer and closer to the center of her arousal. She opened her thighs so he would have more access. He touched the triangle of pubic hair and allowed his claws to glide through the springy curls.

Vincent could feel her heart pounding . . . hear her labored breathing. He moved his hand down further until he was cupping her intimately.

She arched against his hand and moaned softly to let him know how much she was enjoying his touch. She knew that he didnít realize how much he was tormenting her by taking his time. He was quickly driving her out of her mind.

He was losing control as well. Vincent was so aroused at this point that he felt dizzy. He was panting heavily as he struggled to take in more oxygen to his brain. He had never felt anything as smooth as the skin on Catherineís breasts nor had he experienced anything so tantalizing as the taste of her nipples. He knew that he should have stopped at her breasts, but he thought he would die if he didnít feel her nether lips. He had seen pictures of them many times in Fatherís medical journals, but nothing had prepared him for the feel of her hot flesh against his hand.

When she felt his hand between her thighs, the feel of him touching her made her forget to breathe. While his touch was feather light; her touch became frantic. She clutched his shoulders firmly and writhed beneath his hand, needing more . . . demanding more.

Finally, he touched her clitoris. Her reaction was amazing. He was attuned to her every response as he found out where to touch and exactly how much pressure to exert. He kept his focus entirely on her needs . . . trying to ignore his own anguish for release.

She was panting now more furiously than him, and moaning loudly.

While he was focusing on her, his body had begun an involuntary thrusting motion which he couldnít seem to suppress. His penis was straining against her thigh as his need for release became more and more urgent.

After a few minutes, Catherine arched her body into his hand and cried out his name as her climax overtook her body. "Oh God . . . Vincent . . ."

Vincent was so aroused at this point that when he felt her body convulse, his own body began its release and an intense orgasm overtook him. He had thought that he could control himself, but raw passion had overwhelmed the thin thread of control he had maintained. He breathed in great gulps of air as he tried to calm himself. When he was able to speak again, he merely whispered an oath into her neck, "Catherine . . . my love."

After a long while, both of their hearts slowly regained their normal pace.

Vincent removed his hand from her pants and wrapped his arms around her back and waist. He leaned her against him and settled her into the curve of his shoulder. Her torso was getting chilled so he reached down and grabbed her discarded shirt and placed it over her exposed skin. They settled into a deep rhythmic breathing pattern and were soon asleep.

********

Vincent had once against spent the night. He couldnít believe that he had fallen asleep with Catherineís naked upper torso pressed against his body. When he looked down at her sleeping against him, he saw that one of her breasts had become uncovered during the night. He could see the soft tip rise and fall as she breathed in and out. He raised his hand from where it had been resting at her waist and touched the tip ever so lightly with the end of his finger. The tip immediately hardened and the nipple puckered. He was amazed at how sensitive this tissue was. He could stare at it for hours. However he realized that it must be at least 6:00 in the morning and she would need to get up in an hour or so to get ready for work. He should get below before Father realized he was gone, unless he already had. Oh well, he wouldnít worry about that now. He needed to think about this escalating sexual relationship that he and Catherine were engaging in. They would need to talk about this . . . soon. Vincent leaned down to kiss Catherineís lips to waken her.

It worked. She slowly opened her eyes and smiled up at him. Her smiles were always so sweet and they melted his heart.

"Vincent, youíre here with me in the morning again. Iím so glad." She stretched against him and covered her mouth as she yawned. "I guess I should get up and get ready for work. Do you know what time it is?"

Vincent stroked her cheek with his finger. "Itís about six am. I should go below before Father wakes and finds that Iíve been gone all night Ė again." He smiled at that thought. "I donít care that he knows, I just donít want to listen to him tell me how inconsiderate I am at not notifying him where I would be so he wouldnít worry."

"Before I go, I need to know that youíre all right. I couldnít sense any discomfort from you, but I canít entirely trust the Bond anymore regarding your well being." Vincent looked her over from head to foot. "Are you all right? Did I hurt you in any way?"

Catherine smiled. "Oh Vincent, last night was amazing. I have never experienced anything like the climax that I had while you were just touching me. I love that youíre finally allowing us to become more sexually intimate. This makes me happier than you can imagine."

Catherine leaned up on one arm and looked into Vincentís eyes. "What about you Vincent? You did climax didnít you? It was hard to know what was happening to you because I was so overwhelmed by my own sensations. I think we must have shared our climax with each other to make it so cataclysmic!"

Vincent had to chuckle at her description. "Yes Catherine I did climax and it was amazing. I never knew how totally engrossing a sexual experience could be. It is as though all of my rational thoughts were gone and I could only focus on physical sensation. If I had been able to rationally think, I would have been very afraid for your safety. I canít imagine how I kept from hurting you. I was touching your most intimate flesh with my clawed hands and had my deadly teeth on your tender nipples. I shudder to think what could have happened."

"Vincent, trust me. You did nothing that didnít feel incredible to me. I only want more of your touches from your hands, lips, tongue, teeth, and penis. I know that Iím being very bold, but I think the time is passed for shy behavior between us. Wouldnít you agree?"

Vincent was a little taken aback at her statement and just stared at her for a moment, blushing furiously. "Youíre right Catherine. We need to discuss whatís happening between us. I know that I should refuse to continue these actions, but Iím not going to deny this to myself or to you any longer. I donít have the strength or the desire to suppress my sexuality. Itís as though a dam has broken and I just canít get the water back in. Iím not sure why this happened, but I canít truthfully say that Iím sorry. I do think that we need to be careful and should establish some safe boundaries as to our sexual intimacies, but there is no reason why we canít enjoy an adult physical relationship Ė whatever that might mean for our unique situation."

"Iím so happy to hear you say that. I wish I could stay here all day with you, but I do have a couple of classes to teach. If you are free, you could come back up this evening for dinner. We could have our discussion and perhaps engage in some more adult activities. What do you say?"

Vincent sighed. "I canít come up this evening because I promised Cullen and Kanin that I would help with some repairs that wonít be completed until sometime Friday afternoon. They planned this around my schedule so I would be free to see you Friday evening. Iím so very sorry. I would like nothing more than to spend the evening with you Ďtalkingí." Vincent had to smile as he said that. He knew that talking was not really what he wanted to do with Catherine now, this evening or anytime in the near future. He knew that he and Catherine would have to talk on Friday evening. It was very important to get everything out in the open so they could avoid any problems in the future.

"Okay, I can wait until Friday if I must." Catherine leaned into Vincent for one last kiss before she got up to get ready for work.

Vincent went below and pulled out his journal. He hadnít sensed any movement from Fatherís chamber, thank goodness, so he had some time with his own company to put down his thoughts. About 7:30 he stood up and got ready for the day. He was to meet Cullen and Kanin in the dining hall at 8:00. He was going to be doing hard manual labor. The heavy work would be good to keep his thoughts off Catherine and their discussion. He would have to stay focused to ensure his safety as well as Cullen and Kaninís.

He smiled as he walked over to the two men with his tray. He needed to eat a hearty breakfast because he wouldnít get an opportunity to eat again for several hours. This morning he was very hungry and dug into his food. He wondered if it had something to do with the sexual activity of last night. He smiled at the thought.

Catherine spent the day in a euphoric state. She taught her classes and went shopping again. She wanted to find a special outfit for Friday night. She even thought about wearing a new gown and robe set. Should she? She would look and if something caught her eye, she would get it. Although they had promised each other that they would talk. She shouldnít show up at the door in sexy lingerie for a serious discussion of their future. She could however, buy some very sexy undergarments to reveal to Vincent after the discussion. That would be lots of fun. She was enjoying this so much. The thought of buying sexy bras and panties for him to see was so very erotic.

She headed to Victoriaís Secret on a mission. She found just what she wanted. She bought three matching bra and panty sets. One was peach with ivory lace, one was black satin and one was flesh colored. When she put on the flesh colored one, you could barely tell that she was wearing anything at all. The fabric was so sheer that she could actually see her nipples and pubic hair through it. They were very impractical but that was the idea. She wasnít wearing them for practicality. She was wearing them for enjoyment and seduction. She also bought some hose that came up to her mid thighs. They were supported around the tops by very gentle elastic bands. There was no need for a garter belt. Garter belts were sexy but uncomfortable. She wanted to be comfortable during their discussion. She was surprised at how comfortable the stockings were and how very erotic they made her feel. She bought a pair in black and in a flesh tone. They would do nicely.

She planned to fix a light dinner for them. Even if he had eaten dinner below, she knew that he was always hungry after he worked in the tunnels. She would just pick up something at Dean and Deluca like quiche and salad. She would also buy some champagne. This was a celebration of sorts. They were embarking on a new phase of their lives and she wanted to celebrate.

*******

Friday night finally arrived. Catherine decided on the flesh colored set. It made her feel very seductive and she enjoyed the feeling. She had the stockings on under her silk dress. She had decided to wear a dress rather than slacks this evening. It was a beautiful peach silk dress that lightly skimmed her curves and had a fairly low neckline. The hem came to her mid calves. Her crystal pendant hung between her breasts just above the dťcolletage. She was wearing some strappy high heels. They would look really good when she took off the dress to reveal the enticing lingerie below. She could just imagine Vincentís reaction. She was getting aroused just thinking about it. Settle down girl. You have an entire discussion to get through.

Vincent was having trouble concentrating as well. He wanted to take his time bathing and thinking about what he was going to say to Catherine. What exactly did he want their limitations to be? In truth, he didnít want any limitations. However, in good conscience they really should refrain from intercourse. He really believed that it could be very dangerous. He was 6í3" and she was about 5í2". He had to outweigh Catherine by at least a hundred pounds. Last time he had weighed himself above on a helperís scale, he was about 250. Heíd be surprised if she weighed much over a hundred pounds. She felt as light as a feather in his arms when he lifted her. She was very petite. She was strong and athletic but had a small bone structure. He was built on a very large scale. He had huge bones and muscles. He knew from his reading of medical journals, that the vagina was very flexible, but his penis seemed way too large to fit into her body. He knew that men could seriously hurt women during intercourse. He had stood outside the hospital chamber when Father and Mary had treated a woman he had found above who had been raped. She was torn and bleeding. Father said that she had required many stitches and that her internal damage would take a couple of months to heal. He didnít want to hurt Catherine. He would never rape her of course, but in the heat of passion he could lose control and tear her tender flesh with his steely erection. He felt like he might be sick just thinking about it. He was also afraid that maybe his desires might border on the animalistic. What if he had an urge to bite her and broke the skin? What if he drew blood with his nails? My God this seemed so very dangerous.

There was also the matter of birth control. She obviously wasnít taking birth control pills since she was planning on becoming pregnant. That would leave it up to him. He could wear a condom but where would he get one? There werenít exactly any condom dispensers in the tunnels. He would have to ask Catherine to get them if they decided it was safe enough to try. He knew that she wanted this very badly and so did he, but he also knew the dangers better than she did. She had no idea how strong he really was. He was easily stronger than many men combined. He knew this from the amount of weight he could lift and push. It was very useful in the tunnels for breaking and hauling rock but it wasnít exactly a requirement for lovemaking. He could snap her neck or break any bone in her body without even thinking. In his rational mind he would never do such a thing, but in an aroused state, who knew?

The more he thought about the dangers involved, the more apprehensive he became. Perhaps they should stop this physical intimacy right now. They should really go back to chaste kisses and restrained embraces. It would be very hard to do, but it would be much safer. If he really wanted to protect Catherine, he should stop seeing her altogether. She finally had a safe job; she had a beautiful home and was going to be having a baby. What did she need with him? He knew that she loved him deeply and that he offered her companionship, but he was so wrong for her. He couldnít be seen in public so she always had to attend events alone. He couldnít offer her anything of material value since he couldnít earn a living in the Ďrealí world. He couldnít father her children because of his genetic makeup. He might not even be able to make love to her. Why did she cling to him? It made no sense. She offered him everything and he brought nothing but his love to their relationship.

It was time to get ready to go. He had a half hour to get dressed and get to Catherineís. He hadnít realized how long he had stayed in the bathing chamber. His fingers were all wrinkled and his nails were soft and pliable. He must have been in there for a couple of hours. He had forgotten to eat and was starving. Hopefully Catherine would have something to eat. She usually did on Friday evenings.

*******

At long last Catherine heard Vincent coming up the basement stairs. She opened the door and waited for him to reach the top. He was all clean and his hair was still damp from his bath. He looked wonderful. When he finally reached the top, she flung herself into his arms and hugged him to her tightly. She was staggered by the intensity of her feelings. "Vincent." She barely whispered his name as though it was too reverent to speak aloud.

When Catherine opened up the door and he caught his first sight of her, his heart nearly stopped. She was a vision in soft peach. He knew that she had dressed this way just for him and that thought made his pulse race.

In one fluid movement, Vincent bent down and kissed her, a soft probing kiss. He leaned back and searched her eyes. "This feels so good." The second kiss held the promise of fire and passion but he pulled back and tenderly brushed the hair from her face. "I canít seem to get enough of your lips. Iíve thought of nothing else but being with you."

"Really?" She reached up to touch his face.

He brought his lips to hers and breathed one exquisite word into her mouth. "Always."

Oh, how she had longed to hear such things from him. She wanted to make him crazy with passion but knew that she needed to cool things down a bit so that they could talk.

"Vincent, are you hungry? I have some quiche and salad or we could order a pizza."

Food, yes he needed food. He needed to focus before he let things get out of control. "Actually I forgot to eat, so I am rather hungry. Maybe we could eat the quiche and then order pizza for later?"

Catherine chuckled. "Sure Vincent that sounds great. As long as you eat all but one slice of the pizza Iíll be happy.

Catherine retrieved the quiche from the oven. "Come sit down. The food is hot. Tell me about your day."

"We worked hard but got the project done with time to spare. I had a chance to relax for a couple of hours before coming to meet you."

"And you forgot to eat? You must have gotten preoccupied. Were you thinking about our discussion?"

"Yes, I was lost in thought. There is a lot for us to discuss." A slow uneasy smile graced his lips.

Just then the doorbell rang.

"Be back in a flash. Why donít you clear this stuff off the table?"

She paid the delivery guy and brought the pizza back into the kitchen.

Vincent immediately opened the box and selected a slice. "Umm . . . this is so delicious. Are you sure you only want one piece?"

"Yes, Iím sure. Iím not even hungry . . . itís just too good to resist . . . just like you." Catherine gazed into his eyes as she licked her lips.

He gulped and stared back into Catherineís eyes. "Catherine, if you donít stop looking at me like that, weíll never get through our discussion. Iím using every bit of my self control right now not to grab you and kiss you."

"Alright, Iíll be good. Itís probably best if we have our talk here in the kitchen sitting on these stools. Iím not sure whether I could resist you if we go into the den." Catherine gathered the trash for something to do with her hands.

Vincent polished off the pizza and tossed the box into the trash. He resumed his place on the stool.

Catherine took a calming breath as she sat down at the table. "All right, we might as well get to the heart of the issue. Vincent I know that you are afraid for my safety when it comes to sex. While I am certain that you wonít hurt me, I canít dismiss your fears out of hand. It just wouldnít be fair to you."

"There are a lot of reasons for caution. Iím afraid that Iíll lose control and hurt you. Iím so strong . . . and heavy . . . and big and youíre so small . . . and fragile."

"I know that you are strong but Vincent, lots of big strong men have sex with small women. And Iím not that fragile. You havenít hurt me so far. I think that weíve made a good start toward overcoming your fears. I know that we can do this. I want us to try. I know that you do too."

"Yes, I do . . . very much, but I would like to proceed slowly . . . to limit the risk to you."

"All right, I picked something up on my way home today that I think will help us with our discussion." Catherine stood and retrieved a bag off the counter that appeared to have a book in it.

"First, we are going to have to broach the subject of nudity . . . not just my nudity . . . but yours as well."

Vincent was uncomfortable but said nothing. He had dreaded this moment.

"Iím going to tell you something that is hopefully going to make you feel better." Catherine could feel the warmth in her cheeks as she began to blush.

"When I took care of you those three days at my apartment during your illness, Peter and I undressed you so that I could wash your clothes and bathe you. You were so sick and I tried . . . I really tried not to look at your body, but I wanted to . . . so much. Oh Vincent, your body is so beautiful . . . massively virile and so very desirable. You have no idea how much I wanted you . . . how much I still want you."

"I had no idea. Did you . . . see everything? Vincent asked tentatively.

"Oh no, just your upper body; I know how modest you are. Iím sorry I didnít tell you." Catherine didnít tell him that she had seen another Ďmore privateí part of his body recently.

"Do you really desire my body . . . youíre not put off by all the hair?" Vincent was amazed at her confession.

"Far from it; itís so soft and masculine. It took a lot of self control to push those images out of my head so that I could act normally around you. But now, I canít resist any longer. I need to touch you."

"And I need to touch you. Ever since I touched and tasted your body so intimately Wednesday night, I have thought of little else but holding you in my arms. Youíre like a drug to me. I need you . . . I ache with that need. But Iím also very afraid . . . for you." Vincent took a deep breath as he tried to regain his control.

"I know you are. But Vincent, if we take things slowly and take precautions, I know that we can do this. At the very least, I would like for us to go upstairs and undress each other. Then once you feel comfortable enough, maybe we can try something in this book that you feel looks Ďsafeí." Catherine pulled out the book and opened it to a place she had previously marked.

Vincent looked down at the open book. He gaped at the explicit and graphic photographs. They were of a man and woman in several positions as they performed cunnilingus and fellatio on each other. He stared at the photographs for a long time and then looked up at Catherine.

"You would like for us . . . to do . . . this?" Vincent could barely breathe.

"Unless you donít want to; itís a form of foreplay but it is also a safer alternative to intercourse."

Catherine was beginning to think that this was too much, too fast for him. She should not have shown him those photographs. "Vincent, please talk to me. Tell me what you think."

"I have to admit that I would very much like to try this." He was becoming very aroused . . . not only from the graphic photographs . . . but from visualizing them performing these acts on each other. "I have had fantasies about doing such things. I just had no idea that they were acceptable, or normal. The thought of doing these things with you . . . are you sure Catherine? I donít want you to do this if it will make you uncomfortable . . . if it is too . . . Ďbaseí."

Catherine touched Vincentís hand. "Vincent, nothing we could do together would make me uncomfortable. I love you and want to explore all areas of our sexuality together. If something doesnít feel good to one of us, we wonít do it again, but there is no reason not to try it if we think we might enjoy it. Okay?"

Vincent nodded.

"Do you want to review this section together before we begin?"

"Of course, I want to go into this as well informed as possible. I donít want to disappoint you with my inexperience."

Catherine reached across once again to touch his hand. "Vincent, if the other night is any indication of your inexperience, I might not survive a more experienced Vincent as a lover. Where did you learn to stimulate a woman like that? You certainly zeroed in on the correct part of my body for maximum enjoyment."

Vincent looked down, somewhat embarrassed. "I have done some reading about the female anatomy and knew that the only purpose of the clitoris is for sexual pleasure. It wasnít hard to find since I knew where to feel for it. Iím glad that I was successful in pleasing you."

"You did indeed Ďpleaseí me." Catherine smiled as she remembered the sensations from Wednesday night.

Vincent and Catherine went through the section on oral sex for about fifteen minutes and discussed some positions and techniques they wanted to try on each other.

"Vincent, since weíre going to start with oral sex, why donít we leave the rest of the discussion for another time. We can enjoy this and then when weíre ready for the next step, weíll bring back out the manual. Does that sound okay?"

Even though they had not gotten through his discussion points, he was more than ready to start enjoying this new sexual experience. He had been completely caught off guard by her erotic proposal. Once they had talked about it, he did understand how it would be less dangerous. He would need to be careful with his teeth and nails, but he could definitely use his hands, lips and tongue to please her. His tongue was much smaller than his penis and couldnít cause any external tearing or internal damage. He felt like that this was a good option. He was definitely ready to proceed.

"Yes Catherine I would love to begin if youíre ready. How do you want to go about this? I will do whatever you think is best."

Catherine rose from her chair and reached out for Vincentís hand.

He rose to his feet and closed the space between them.

"I think we should start by going up to the bedroom and removing our clothing. We can light some candles and drink some champagne. That would be a nice relaxing way to explore each otherís bodies. I hope that you plan to spend the night. I donít want to rush our time together."

Chapter 4

Vincent followed Catherine up the stairs to her bedroom. She had a bottle of champagne chilling in a bucket and a couple of glasses sitting beside the bucket on the table. He watched as she went around lighting candles while he looked around the room. He had never been in her bedroom before. It was very large and had a four poster bed that was huge. He thought about how this large bed would seem to swallow up someone as small as Catherine. The spread and drapes were gold. There were two upholstered wingback chairs sitting in the corner beside the table with the champagne. There was an ornate armoire on one wall and a dressing table on the other wall.

"Catherine, this room is very different from the bedroom at your apartment. Itís not what I expected."

Catherine turned toward Vincent as she spoke. "This was the furniture that was in the room when I bought the house. Other than the dressing table which was my motherís, I kept everything as it was in this room. I thought it fit the room better than my more contemporary furniture. I put the furniture from my old apartment in one of the other bedrooms. I find that I enjoy the darker, more masculine furniture. The king size bed is way too big for me alone, but it will be perfect with you to share it. Do you like the room?"

Vincent walked over to where Catherine was standing and pulled her into his embrace. "Yes Catherine I like it very much." He leaned down and kissed her passionately and then released her with a moan of sheer pleasure.

"Would you open the champagne while I finish lighting these candles?"

He carefully removed the cork with his strong thumbs and faced it away from anything breakable. When the cork popped, he quickly poured the liquid into the waiting glasses. He handed one to Catherine and took the other for himself. He raised his glass to Catherine.

"To the love of my life . . . the object of all of my dreams and desires."

Catherine took a sip "To the many possibilities still waiting to be explored on our journey together."

They emptied their glasses and moved toward each other. He desperately needed to kiss her. He was trembling with desire but wanted to savor this moment. He took her into his arms and looked around at the dancing lights from the candles. It was so romantic. It was like something out of a dream. He bent down to kiss her tenderly on the lips. He just brushed his lips against hers and whispered into her mouth. "I love you Catherine with every fiber of my being . . . I love you." He moved his tongue softly around on her lips and then slipped it inside her mouth.

Catherine mimicked the motion but concentrated for a moment on the cleft at the top of his lip. He seemed to enjoy this so she continued for a while longer. Finally, she pushed her tongue into Vincentís waiting mouth so that she could play with his tongue. She liked the feel of his tongue and enjoyed this sexual dance they were doing.

He began to move his tongue rhythmically against hers in an action that simulated intercourse. It was very erotic and she moaned and moved closer to his body. He became bolder and was allowing his tongue to go deeper and deeper after each withdrawal. He was so sensual and was a natural lover. She knew that their sex life would be incredible.

Vincent couldnít get enough of Catherineís lips. He loved the taste and texture of Catherineís lips and tongue. They were so delicious.

Catherine pulled gently from Vincentís arms. "Iíll be back in a few minutes."

He released her reluctantly. "I shall miss you."

She walked into the bathroom still holding his gaze as she closed the door.

He had no idea what she was doing in there and was intrigued. He could use the time to get himself back under control. He didnít want to climax before they had even begun their evening. He had been aroused since he had walked into the door this evening. He honestly didnít know how much longer he could wait for release.

Catherine had wanted to use the restroom, brush her teeth and remove her dress so that Vincent could see her sexy lingerie. She knew that he was extremely aroused so she took a little more time than was really necessary to get ready. She wanted him to cool down so that he wouldnít climax before she had a chance to take him into her mouth. She had dreamed about feeling him release into her mouth ever since last Saturday when he had climaxed by her hand.

When she came back into the room, Vincentís mouth literally fell open when he saw her. He was mesmerized by the sight. At first, he thought she was completely naked except for the pair of high heels on her feet and the crystal around her neck. After a few moments, he realized that she had on a very sheer bra and panties and some hosiery on her legs. It was the sexiest thing he had ever seen.

She began to walk toward him swaying her hips. Her breasts gently bounced with each step.

He reached up as she walked toward him and placed his hands on her breasts. The fabric was so sheer that he could feel her aroused nipples as though she wore nothing at all. He bent to take a nipple into his warm mouth. He suckled gently and she moaned and swayed toward him. He placed his hands on her shoulders as she swayed against him. He moved to the other breast and repeated the action. He raised his head and kissed her lips thoroughly.

She again pulled away from him. "Vincent, I want you to take off your clothes. I want to touch your skin and feel your body against mine. I want to take your penis into my mouth and bring you to orgasm. Please take them off quickly. I canít wait much longer and I donít think you can either."

Vincent stripped off his clothes at record speed. Once he was completely nude, he removed the pouch with the rose in it and placed it on the table near the champagne. He didnít want to risk breaking it. He thought he would be shy about being naked in front of Catherine, but he was too aroused to care. He moved into her waiting arms and couldnít begin to describe the feeling of Catherineís body against his naked flesh. He was about to remove her bra and panties so he could feel her completely nude, but she stilled his hands.

She knelt before Vincent and took his penis into her warm mouth. She grabbed his buttocks with both hands and loved him with her tongue, lips and teeth.

He hadnít thought he could become any more aroused - but he was wrong. He stared transfixed at Catherine kneeling between his legs with his manhood in her mouth. It was beyond his wildest imaginings. His penis was longer and thicker than he had ever seen it. He couldnít hold back any longer. He was flexing his buttocks muscles and slightly thrusting into her mouth. He was greatly suppressing his urge to thrust more forcefully. He wasnít sure whether what he was doing was normal, but he didnít seem to be able to control the impulse.

She had moved her hands from his buttocks and placed one on his testicles and the other around the base of his penis. She couldnít possibly take all of Vincentís length into her mouth, so she took as much as she could and had her hand around the rest. He was moving in and out of her mouth as she sucked strongly on him. She felt his testicles draw up and knew he was about ready to climax. When it happened, it was explosive. The semen came out in bursts in her mouth and against the back of her throat. There was a great deal of it. It tasted wonderful and was thick and creamy in texture. She continued to stroke him and suck until she knew he was completely done.

He had placed his hands on either side of her head to hold her while he thrust into her mouth. He now released her head and put his hands down on her shoulders.

She could feel the tremors throughout his body while his blood flowed from his engorged flesh. She could see that he was starting to breath more normally now. Catherine rose up and wrapped her arms around Vincent.

He wrapped his arms around her and held her against him for a very long time. Finally, he was able to speak.

"Catherine, I had no idea that anything could feel so good. I am at a loss to describe the sensation. If I were never to experience another thing in this life, I would die a happy man right now. Thank you, Catherine." As he spoke he stroked her arms and her back.

After a moments time he suddenly looked Catherine over worriedly. "Catherine did I hurt you? I know that I lost control even though I was trying very hard not to. I was holding your head so tightly and thrusting my penis into your mouth. I was beyond rational thought."

Catherine squeezed Vincent. "No Vincent, you didnít hurt me. I enjoyed it very much. I have wanted to do that for a very long time. It was something that I will never forget. Having you climax in my mouth was very intimate. You have a beautiful penis. I couldnít take all of it into my mouth but as we do this more, I will be able to take more of it. Iím sure youíre aware that your penis is impressively large."

Vincent relaxed a little when he realized she wasnít hurt. "Yes Catherine that is one of my fears. I am afraid that am too large for you. I know that men can hurt women during intercourse. You are so small and I am so Ďbigí. I could easily hurt you very badly."

Catherine made soothing sounds as she held Vincentís more relaxed penis in her hands. "Vincent, you are large. There is no argument there. But you wonít hurt me. There are positions that help to control the depth of penetration during intercourse. Trust me, it will be okay. It just might take a while before I get used to your size. Eventually I believe that I will be able to accommodate all of your impressive manhood. If not, itís no big deal. There are lots of women that have to control the depth of penetration. Itís just a fact of life for some couples. We arenít unique in this situation

"Now, if youíre ready, letís lie on the bed and focus on me for a while. Iím anxious to feel that mouth and tongue of yours on my more intimate parts. What do you say?" The look on her face was pure raw desire.

Vincent picked Catherine up and carried her to the bed. He laid her down gently in the middle of the bed and positioned his body alongside of hers. "Catherine, I am more than ready to focus on you. Would it be all right if I removed this sexy lingerie? I have enjoyed seeing you in it, but would very much like to see your naked body now."

Catherine nodded and started to unfasten the clasp at the front of her bra.

Vincent brushed her hand aside. "Let me do it please. I will enjoy it more and I think you will too."

He was right. The anticipation alone was killing her.

He unfastened the front clasp and slowly removed her bra. He kissed and licked each piece of flesh as it was exposed to his view. He moved down so that he could carefully remove her shoes. He then focused on her stockings. He kissed the inside of her thighs as he moved the stockings down her legs. He continued kissing along her knees and then down her calves to her ankles and then kissed each toe. He took his time with each leg. Finally he moved his hands to each side of her panties. He slowly started to slide the fabric down her hips. He seared a path from her navel down to her pubic hair with his hot mouth and tongue."

She was trying to be patient as he slowly drove her crazy. He was taking his time, lingering over the task. She sucked in her breath.

Vincent could sense her frustration and hurriedly slid her panties down her legs and tossed them on the floor. He stared down at the triangle of hair and marveled at what he was being allowed to do. He never, in his wildest imaginings, believed that he would ever be this intimate with a woman.

He moved his head down slowly between her legs and breathed in her scent. He bent down close enough to just barely touch her heated flesh with the tip of his tongue.

Catherine moaned and writhed at the touch.

He could hold back no longer. He pushed his tongue into her and when she pressed up against his mouth, he withdrew and entered her again. He wanted to explore everything. This was heaven.

He began stroking her with his tongue from her vagina up to her clitoris and then back again, consuming her moisture and scent greedily. He pushed opened her thighs wider and put his arms beneath Catherineís buttocks as he lifted her slightly for better access to his feast.

He rose raised his head up and looked down. Her flesh was engorged and it was glistening with his saliva and her natural lubrication. His own engorged flesh stood out proudly as he leaned over Catherine. He licked his lips to take in more of her essence.

Catherine whimpered. "Donít stop. Donít . . . I need . . . please."

Vincent took a couple of deep breaths. Knowing that he had brought Catherine to this state almost pushed him over the edge. He looked down and saw a drop of liquid drip from the end of his throbbing shaft. But his Catherine was moaning with need so he resumed his ministrations.

He remembered something from the book. He bent back over and slid his tongue over that Ďbudí of tissue and then moved his lips over it and sucked slightly.

"Oh God yes, thatís it, right there." Catherine lifted her hips and pushed against Vincentís lips.

He moved down and drove his tongue into her core forcefully and then moved back to lick and suck her clitoris. He repeated this over and over as Catherineís head thrashed on the pillow and she pumped her hips.

She bucked wildly as she felt her climax begin deep inside her and vibrate out like the ripples from a stone thrown into a pond. It seemed to go on and on until it took her breath away. She could hear herself making loud moaning and gasping sounds. She didnít know whether she had screamed during her orgasm or not. She was so completely consumed by the waves of pleasure moving through her body. The contractions of her vagina continued for a very long time after she climaxed.

When he sensed her climax began, Vincent could hold back no longer. Bursts of fluid pulsed from him as her vagina throbbed against his tongue. He could feel the tremors continuing long after her orgasm.

Vincent was awed and humbled by the intimacy they had shared. These were treasures that he would store in his heart forever.

"Catherine that was so wonderful. Itís amazing how enjoyable it is to give the other person so much pleasure." Vincent moved so that he could hold Catherine in his arms. They were both breathing heavily and covered in sweat. The afterglow of their release was overwhelming to him. He thought that their loving was over. He relaxed against her.

Catherine had different ideas. "Letís see what else we can try." Catherine reached down and began to stroke Vincent. "Hmm . . . youíre a wonderful lover. That was amazing . . . I want it again. Is that okay?" She began kissing him with a hunger she could not deny.

"Donít you need to rest for a while?" Vincent was astounded by their renewed need for each other after having just climaxed.

Catherine kissed Vincentís soft lips. "I donít if you donít and I can definitely feel that you donít need any rest. Your erections are amazing. Youíre more exciting than I could have ever imagined."

"It appears that I am indeed ready, again. I would be embarrassed at this unquenchable need that I feel for you if I didnít also sense it in you. Is this normal?"

"Yes, for two people who love each other and desire each other as much as we do, having suppressed our need for so long, itís only natural to be insatiable. Do you mind?"

"Oh no, I donít mind. Now what is it that you want to try?" Vincent growled softly into her ear as he thanked the heavens for his good fortune.

"Remember the photo of the woman and man loving each other at the same time? Letís try that. When we get done, weíll try the whirlpool and rest for a while. Okay?

Vincent kissed Catherine back on the lips. "I will do whatever you like Catherine. Everything we have done this evening has been pleasurable beyond belief and I trust you implicitly."

"Great." Catherine turned her body so that her mouth was at Vincentís genitals and his mouth was between her legs.

He had to curl slightly to make the adjustment for their difference in heights. He was savoring the view but gasped as he felt Catherineís soft lips on his flesh.

Catherine placed a kiss on the end of his penis and then licked the opening as a drop of semen came seeping out. She was amazed that he was already so aroused. She had never been with another lover that could have three erections within the space of an hour or so. Their sex life was going to be incredible.

Vincent wasted no time. He moved his tongue in and out of her vagina as he applied a steady rhythmic pressure on her clitoris with his thumb. He could sense that her release wouldnít take long. Her movements were frenzied. He felt his climax building quickly as well.

Catherine was trying hard to focus on Vincent as she was climbing toward her orgasm. Focusing on another personís pleasure while seeking your own was harder than it looked.

Vincentís climax started first. As he was pumping his seed into her mouth, she felt her own orgasm begin. It was even stronger than the first one. She clenched her teeth as the climax overtook her and inadvertently bit down on Vincentís penis. She didnít realize what she was doing until he jerked. She immediately relaxed her jaw and licked and kissed his penis in apology.

Vincent pulled himself from her mouth and leaned sat up to examine his manhood. "Catherine, you bit me!" Vincent looked down at the red tooth marks on his penis and laughed.

"Yes, I did. Iím so sorry. I think you might also have some scratch marks on your butt. I guess I was so aroused that I just couldnít help it. Do you forgive me?" Catherine looked contrite as she lay on her back thoroughly spent.

Vincent thought about it for a while. "Catherine, that loss of control is exactly what Iím afraid of for myself. If someone as small and fragile as you can inflict bite marks and scratches, just think what a being such as I could do? I could slice your body open with one swipe of my hand. I could break every bone in your body in a few seconds. It is my greatest fear."

Catherine reached for Vincentís hand. "Vincent, we have been doing some pretty intense things here. You have had your teeth and claws near my most intimate body parts and I donít have one scratch or one bite mark. Iím actually surprised. Many couples get a few marks on them during passionate sex. Couples get friction burns, scratches, bite marks and bruises. You canít worry about a few small scratches or bite marks. Itís perfectly normal. You obviously have much more restraint than I."

Vincent stared at his hands. "But that doesnít mean that it couldnít happen in the future. It would only take one time."

Catherine wasnít sure how to resolve this problem. "Vincent, there are no guarantees. I just know that any risks involved are worth it to me. I know in my heart that you wonít hurt me. Even when you were in my apartment delirious and when I went into that cave, you didnít hurt me. You certainly werenít yourself in those cases." Catherine sat and thought for a couple of minutes.

"Vincent, if you donít see me when I come into a room, how do you know that Iím there now that the Bond doesnít tell you?"

Vincent squirmed a little before he answered. "I know it is you by your unique scent. I can easily identify people I know by scent. It is one of my abilities."

Catherine nodded. "Actually Vincent, all humans can identify each other by scent. That is how infants know and bond with their parents. We just donít think about it. When loved ones hug, they always breathe in each otherís scents deeply. It is just instinctive. Vincent, I would know your scent anywhere. The only difference is that I have to be extremely close to you to sense it. My sense of smell isnít as acute, but itís still a very real part of why I become aroused when we hug. Itís the same for you, isnít it? When we are making love, my scent is even more pronounced because of my arousal. I know that you have noticed."

Vincent nodded.

"I believe that even at your deepest primal level, you would protect me because you know my scent."

Catherineís last statement had really resonated with him. It was true that he knew Catherine by her scent. When he thought back on all the times when he had been at his most primal self, he had recognized Catherine once he caught her scent and heard her voice. She was right, he might accidentally scratch her slightly or make a red mark on her with his teeth, but he would not lose control to the extent that he had feared. He felt a great sense of relief.

"I believe you are correct Catherine, but it will take a while before I feel confident enough to try intercourse. Itís not just the teeth, claws, strength and size that cause my apprehension, although that certainly seems like enough; there is also the problem of birth control. I know that you want to have a child and that you are planning this insemination process. I accept your need to have a child and also know that I cannot be the father. I might very well be sterile, but if Iím not, we are going to need some sort of birth control. You canít take anything because of your desire to become pregnant, so I guess that leaves it up to me. I will need for you to get some condoms before we consider this next step."

Catherine couldnít look into Vincentís eyes at that moment because of her deception.

Vincent could sense some sort of turmoil in her but couldnít identify the source. It was very strong. Perhaps it was just the very emotional topic of her pregnancy that had brought about these strong feelings. He just waited until she spoke.

"Vincent, Iíll get some condoms the next time Iím out. Iíll need to get the extra large ones for you. All the women around me will be jealous."

Vincent laughed. He was enjoying the ease with which they could discuss such a personal matter. He would never have believed that they could laugh about buying condoms. What a difference a week had made in his life.

"Enough talk about intercourse. Weíre not going to have it tonight, so letís go take that bath I promised you earlier. Itís got swirling jets and we can put in a little bubble bath. Iím only sorry that the bath will wash away all of the wonderful bodily fluids that weíve shared. I know they will get sticky and itchy as they dry, but they are still precious to me."

Vincent marveled at Catherineís obvious sentimentality about this night. It was beyond precious to him, but that was because it was his first time and because it was with his Catherine Ė the only woman that he had ever truly loved.

Catherine filled the tub and put a capful of some sort of bath product into the water. It smelled slightly of lilacs. It was very pleasant. She turned on the jets and the water began to foam. She reached out to grab Vincentís hand and led him into the water.

He slowly lowered himself into the water. It was extremely warm and it was slightly uncomfortable on his tender male parts at first. He soon acclimated to the temperature and began to relax and enjoy the swirling water. He sat next to Catherine and reached for her hand under the water.

They both leaned back and let the water soothe them. This was the second time today that he had engaged in a leisurely soak. He felt decadent. Not just because of the baths but because of everything that had happened this evening.

"I brought the champagne but forgot the glasses. I guess weíll have to take turns drinking from the bottle. Do you think you can stand sharing my germs?" Catherine chuckled.

"I donít know; do you think thatís too intimate?" Vincent chuckled as well as they sat naked in the tub after having tasted and licked each otherís bodies.

They took drinks from the bottle between kisses and laughter. It was glorious to spend this time together. They spent a long while in the tub as the jets soothed and relaxed their minds as well as their bodies.

Catherine stretched and spoke in a dreamy haze. "Letís go to bed Vincent. Iím about to fall asleep in this tub. Are you ready?

He was ready for bed. He was very tired. He really should go back below, but he wouldnít. He couldnít leave Catherine now. It was obvious that she wished for him to stay. She had said so earlier this evening. He needed to have a discussion with Father anyway and it might as well start with his reason for not sleeping in his own bed this night.

"Yes, Iím ready." He rose first and assisted Catherine to her feet. He watched in fascination as the water sluiced off her glorious body.

They stepped out of the tub and took turns drying each other. It took longer to dry all of Vincentís significantly larger and hairier body. Once they were finally done, they climbed into the big bed and snuggled closely together.

It was a marvelous sensation to lie in this soft bed with Catherine in his arms. The sex was fantastic but the closeness that they had shared was even more special to him. There was a real sense of intimacy between them that hadnít been there before. He was lying here completely naked with his most cherished love in his arms. He could feel her beating heart against his body and see the rise and fall of her chest as she breathed. It was the happiest moment of his life. With that thought, he began to breathe more deeply and was soon asleep.

Catherine was already asleep. She was so content with Vincentís arms around her in her big bed and so exhausted from their loving, that sleep had soon captured her.

Chapter 5

They slept that way until around dawn. Vincent awakened as cracks of sunlight came in around the dark drapes. When he realized where he was, he just drifted back to sleep. He would normally spend Saturday with Catherine anyway, so there was no urgency to get up to begin his day.

Around 7:00, Catherine stirred. She needed to use the restroom and wanted to brush her teeth. She looked over at the gorgeous hunk of masculinity beside her. The covers were tangled around his hips. His torso was completely bare as were his legs. The sheet was just covering his pelvic region. She gingerly pulled the covers back off him so that she could view his naked form at her leisure. He was absolutely magnificent. He was heavily muscled and had a thin coating of hair over most of his body. It was golden in color. The hair on his chest was thick as was the hair on his forearms, hands and around his penis. Looking at his body, Catherine was beginning to become very aroused. She got up quickly so that she could get in and out of the bathroom before Vincent woke up. She came back into the room and slid back into the bed beside Vincent. She reached down and began to fondle his penis. Even in his sleep, it began to stir. She reached down between his legs and massaged his testicles before she resumed stroking his penis. She bent down and started raining kisses on his shoulders and chest.

He began to awaken. He moaned at the feeling of her doing these marvelous things to his body. He looked down to see Catherine leaning over his body moving her head from his chest down toward his more private parts. Actually, they werenít so private anymore. She had a very intimate knowledge of his genitals. Nobody else had ever touched him as a lover. Oh the things she had done to him and with him. Amazing! And she had left marks on him! He smiled at the thought. He wondered if the bite marks were still there. He hoped so. It was arousing to him to know that she had bitten him. It fulfilled a very basic need in him that he couldnít really identify, but it made him more confident about his sexuality knowing he could make Catherine lose control like that. He came back to the present.

"Catherine, I love what youíre doing but do you think we could resume this after I use the bathroom? My bladder feels like it might burst and I canít really focus on the pleasure while Iím so uncomfortable."

Catherine pulled back and looked up at Vincent. "Okay, go ahead. I already made a trip in there a few minutes ago. We should probably get up and eat something anyway. I could use some coffee. There is a new toothbrush in the drawer and I have a robe in the closet that I bought for you yesterday. Iím anxious to see you in it. Iíll leave it on the bed. Just take your time. Iíll be downstairs."

With that, Vincent and Catherine rose from the bed. He went into the bathroom and she walked down to the kitchen.

She hummed to herself while she got the coffee maker ready and decided what she might fix for breakfast. She knew that pancakes were simple to make and she had a mix in her cupboard. She also knew that Vincent liked them. She searched her cabinets and found the mix and some syrup. She busied herself and soon had some decent pancakes poured out on her griddle. This griddle had been a housewarming gift from Jenny. Jenny had laughed and said that she had gotten two as a wedding present so she was re-gifting her extra one to Catherine. It was something that Catherine would have never bought herself, but it was excellent for this purpose. She flipped the pancakes over just as the box directions had instructed and was very proud of herself. She slid the pancakes onto a plate and set the butter and syrup next to it. She had even warmed the syrup in the microwave. How very domestic of her. She placed a cup of coffee and a glass of orange juice beside the plate.

"Vincent, breakfast is ready." Catherine smiled as she called up to Vincent. She never thought she would be fixing breakfast for Vincent after having spent the night together.

Soon he was walking down the stairs in his new robe. "Thank you, Catherine, for the robe. It was a very nice gesture."

He came over and kissed her warmly on the lips. He was surprised to see that she had prepared pancakes. He didnít think she knew how to cook them or much of anything for that matter. She almost always bought prepared food and brought it home. Although he must admit that he had never been to her home for breakfast.

"My Catherine, this is so very thoughtful of you. You know that I love pancakes. I am surprised that you know how to fix them, however." He gave her a teasing smile.

Catherine smiled back but then gave him a sultry look. "Iím offended Vincent. At this point, you should not be surprised that I have many hidden talents."

He laughed and took a bite of the pancakes. "These are really good."

"Donít get used to it. Thatís about the limit of my culinary skills. Iím much better in the bedroom than I am in the kitchen." Catherine teased between bites.

"I can live with that." Vincent smiled warmly as he relished the domestic scene before him.

Once breakfast was over and the kitchen was cleaned up, Catherine walked out to the front stoop to retrieve the New York Times that she had delivered each morning. She brought it in and she and Vincent took their time reading through the various sections.

Once Vincent had looked at all of the sections which were of interest, he sat the paper down and looked over at Catherine. "I think that maybe I should go below to let Father know that Iím all right. This is the third day this week that I have spent away from the tunnels. Even though I am sure he knows where I am, I donít want to worry him unnecessarily."

Catherine set the paper down as well. "Of course we should go below. Letís get ready and go now. It will only take me about half an hour to dress. We took our bath last night so weíre all clean."

She smiled at him and raised her eyebrows in a suggestive manner as she got up from her chair and walked toward him. "I wish we had time to get a little Ďdirtyí this morning before we go, but maybe we can find a secluded place below to engage in some Ďadultí activities."

Vincent growled softly at her and grabbed her around the waist. He kissed her thoroughly and then patted her gorgeous bottom. He put his fingers at the hem of her short robe and let his hand slide against her thigh up to the firm mound of her right buttock. He moved his hand around from her right butt cheek to the left and then back again. He moved his hand around from her bottom to her belly and then moved it down between her legs. She moved her legs apart slightly as he began to stroke her moist folds. He quickly zeroed in on her clitoris and had her climaxing into his hand within moments. The creamy fluid from her vagina was coating his fingers. At the feel of this liquid, Vincent moaned and brought his fingers up to his mouth. He licked the creamy liquid off each of his fingers as though it were ambrosia.

Catherine felt like her legs were going to give out. She wanted to open Vincentís robe and straddle his thighs and mount him. She ached to have his penis inside her but had promised herself that she would wait until he was ready for that next step of their intimacy. She did straddle him but instead of placing his penis into her waiting core, she took his penis in her hand and began stroking him. She had opened their robes so that her breasts were rubbing against his chest. She kissed him passionately and once again Vincent moved his tongue in and out of her mouth, simulating the sex act. It was very erotic and he was timing the thrusts of his tongue with the thrusts of his penis in her hand. Catherine hoped that it wasnít long before Vincent agreed to intercourse. She hadnít realized how much she needed him inside her. All of this other stuff was enjoyable, but it was still just foreplay for the main event. She focused back on Vincent and soon felt his semen spurt onto her belly and slide down onto her hand and thighs. She made sure all of her fingers were coated with Vincentís creamy essence as she slid her hand up along their bodies. When she reached her mouth, she sucked the liquid off her fingers as Vincent had done previously.

He watched her every move as he leaned in to kiss her and to taste his essence on her lips. He brought his fingers up to his tongue again to compare Catherineís taste to his. "We taste different. I taste more musky and salty."


"Let me try." Catherine licked Vincentís fingers and then licked her own again. "Yes, definitely muskier . . . delicious."

He groaned. "If we donít get dressed soon, weíre never going to make it below today."

They did make it below and he and Catherine walked into Fatherís chamber together. Father looked up at the two of them holding hands and sighed slightly. "Well you two. Wonít you have a seat and some tea?"

As Catherine sat down, Vincent reached out and poured the three of them tea. He sat down beside Catherine and looked over at his father. "Father, Iím sorry I didnít tell you that I would be staying above last night. I just wasnít thinking clearly and it was thoughtless of me. I apologize."

At Vincentís apology, some of Fatherís indignation left him and he actually smiled a little. "Well, I donít need to ask whether you two have become Ďcloserí. I can see it clearly enough for myself. There is a new intimacy about you two that wasnít there before. I can also see that Catherine is unharmed and for that I am thankful. I do hope that you two took necessary precautions and that you exercised some restraint."

Vincent wasnít sure how much he wanted to reveal to Father, especially with Catherine sitting beside him. He looked over at her and she nodded her assent for him to continue. "Father we are exercising caution and restraint. We have an open line of communication between us about the risks and dangers involved. We have not actually engaged in intercourse yet, but we have definitely not ruled that out. We will take precautions Father. You do not need to concern yourself about that. We are both intelligent adults who are engaging in a natural adult relationship. We have been together for over four years. If weíre not ready for this now, I canít imagine when we would be."

Father nodded in agreement. "Catherine, Vincent, I can completely understand that two adults in a loving relationship would want to become sexually active. You two have overcome tremendous obstacles to be together. I guess I knew that this was inevitable." He paused and when Catherine and Vincent remained silent, he continued. "I am curious to know how this plan of Catherineís to have a baby will affect your relationship."

Vincent winced visibly and Father couldnít help but notice. Catherineís hold on Vincentís hand tightened and she looked down at the table.

"Father, I wasnít planning on beginning the insemination process until at least mid January. That gives us at least two months to explore this new aspect of our relationship before I would possibly become pregnant. I am considering waiting to take the fertility drugs until after the holidays. I donít want them to interfere with my body chemistry during this new intimacy."

Father looked at Vincent and then back at Catherine. "I can see that you two have given this a great deal of thought. Iím happy for you both. You have my blessing."

Vincent and Catherine both sighed with relief and Catherine let a little nervous laugh slip from her lips. She hadnít realized how nervous she was about this talk until it was over. Vincent was relieved as well.

"Thank you Father, that means a great deal to Catherine and Ime. If you will excuse us, weíre going to take a walk now."

Father stood as the couple began to leave. "By all means - I hope that I will see you two in the dining chamber for lunch."

"Vincent, how do you honestly feel about my plans for insemination? I want the whole truth, not just what you want me to hear." Vincent was holding her hand as they walked toward the chamber of the falls.

He and Catherine hadnít spoken since leaving Fatherís chamber. They had both been deep in thought.

"Catherine, I wonít lie to you. It does bother me. Knowing that another man can provide something for you that I canít . . . another manís seed inside you . . . growing a life . . . changing your body . . . knowing that itís not mine . . . it hurts. But, I will endure it because I love you and because it is what you wish."

Catherine took a deep breath. "Vincent, it is not what I wish. I want to have a child, yes, but I desire nothing more than for that child to be yours."

Vincent shook his head sadly. "Catherine, we both know that is not possible. Even if I was fertile and you conceived a child of mine, I could not in good conscience subject a child to a life with so many limitations. It would not be fair. Every time the child asked to go with the other children above to play and I had to refuse, it would tear me up. I know that it was very hard on Father when I was always left behind. What about when the child reached adolescence and wanted to date? What about college, a career, a family? All of these things would be out of reach for our child.

"Vincent, you have a loving family, a nice home, a woman who loves you and the possibility of a child. Why do you think it would be different for our child? Our child would have the benefit of two parents instead of one. Not only that, our child would be raised part time in the brownstone above. He or she could play out in the garden in safety. I donít believe that there would be as many limits as you believe. Also, I donít think that our child would need to have any limitations. While I would love to have a child that looked exactly like you, especially a son, I donít believe that our child would inherit your unusual features."

They had reached the falls by now and Vincent gestured for Catherine to have a seat beside the wall. "Youíre right of course; our child would have more freedom than I did. It would be a better life. But why do you think that the child might not look like me? Itís a very real possibility."

"Vincent, I am afraid to tell you how I know this to be. I am fearful that it could destroy our relationship and all of the wonderful strides we have made in the past week. I would die if my actions caused a chasm between us. I am so afraid."

Vincent took Catherineís hand and urged her to look at him. "Tell me. " He was afraid as well but very curious. What could Catherine have done that was so terrible that she was afraid it would destroy their relationship? He waited for a very long time before Catherine started to speak.

"Vincent, last Saturday when you spent the night at my house, I wasnít entirely truthful about what had happened." She looked up at Vincent and then back down. "You remembered kissing me and that was true. You did kiss me but thatís not all that we did. You became very aroused and you ejaculated by my hand. Immediately afterward, you fell asleep so I cleaned you up and zipped up your pants and let you sleep. I know that I should have told you, but I was afraid."

Vincent thought about that for a while. So thatís why his dream had seemed more like a memory. It was a memory. In truth, a week ago he would have been very upset about this revelation, but now it seemed trivial in light of all else that they had done.

"I have dreamed about that night. I thought it was a fantasy. Now that I know it is a memory, I can understand why it seems so real. That intimacy is what must have aroused my desire so strongly. Ever since that night I have been consumed by erotic images and have fought a constant state of arousal. I forgive you Catherine for not telling me. Itís not important."

Catherine took another deep breath. "Thatís not all Vincent. Thereís more. I had brought a specimen cup from the doctorís office in the hopes that you might provide me a sample for testing. This doctor is an old friend and colleague of Peterís and is completely trustworthy."

She paused again. "When I saw all of your semen on our clothes and on my skin, I grabbed the specimen cup and scooped as much of it into the cup as possible. Monday morning I took the sample to the lab for analysis."

Vincent gasped. "Catherine, did the lab technicians see my sample?"

Catherine shook her head. "No Vincent, Dr. Warner agreed to do the test himself. I had explained that you had unusual features and that I didnít want to expose you to anyone but him. I didnít mention anything about the tunnels, just that you were concerned about a child inheriting your appearance."

Vincent waited.

"Dr. Warner ran the tests and his conclusion is that your unusual features will not be passed on to your child. He said that they are recessive genes. I would have to have the same recessive genes, and that is very unlikely. Do you know what recessive genes are?"

Vincent nodded. "I have read some about genetics. I know, for instance, that to have a child with blue eyes, both parents must have the recessive gene to achieve that result. But what if heís wrong and theyíre not recessive? Weíre talking about something a lot more serious than blue eyes. Iím sure that he hasnít seen these results before. How can he be sure?"

Catherine nodded. "Youíre right. He couldnít be one hundred percent certain, but he seemed pretty confident. I guess what I need to know right now is how upset you are with me?"

Vincent was silent for a few minutes as he considered her question. He jumped to his feet and began pacing. "I feel betrayed by your secrecy but not by your actions. The fact that you would go to such lengths to have the testing done and the fact that you want to bear my child is more than enough to make up for your duplicity." Vincent looked into Catherineís eyes. "So I guess I can assume that Iím not sterile after all."

Catherine shook her head. "No, on the contrary the doctor said that your sperm had excellent Ďmotilityí. Youíre very fertile. He did say that even though we are both fertile - our body chemistry might not be compatible. He said that our genetics might be so different that conception might not occur and even if it did, it might spontaneously abort."

Vincent nodded. "Iím not surprised by that assessment. I donít even know whether Iím human."

Catherine grabbed Vincentís arm roughly and shouted at him. "Vincent, I donít want to ever hear you say that again. You are definitely human. The doctor didnít say anything like that. Please donít say that again."

Vincent reached out to stroke her cheek. "Catherine, as much as you want to deny it, we have no idea how I came to be. Doesnít it frighten you to bear a child that has such an unknown genetic background? Maybe I was created in a lab. Maybe Iím the result of some strange coupling that managed to survive. Who knows?"

Catherine started to cry. "Vincent, none of us has any control over our heritage. If I were to use an anonymous donor, I could still have a child with a defect. There is always the risk of having a child that isnít perfect. That doesnít mean that I wouldnít love it. Wouldnít you be able to love a child that wasnít normal, a child with special needs?"

Vincent was shocked at her question and stopped pacing. "Of course I would love any child whether it was Ďperfectí or not."

Catherine could hear the sincerity in his voice. "Well, who is to say that a child born with your features would deserve any less of our love?"

Vincent was humbled by her question. "Youíre right. I am being selfish and short sighted. If you really want to have my child, I will agree."

"Vincent sat back down beside Catherine now and placed his arm around her. He pulled her up against him and breathed into her hair. "Weíre going to need to make some decisions. This is all overwhelming. Youíve been thinking about this for a while. Itís all new to me. Iím going to need some time for it to all sink in." Vincent could feel Catherine nodding her head.

"Vincent, I would like to keep this between the two of us. Until we know that I have conceived our child successfully and that it is going to survive, I donít want anyone else to know. Is that all right with you?"

Vincent thought for a moment. "I will agree to your terms, if you agree to mine Counselor."

Catherine pulled out of Vincentís arms to look up into his face and smiled. "What terms might they be?"

Vincent took her hands in his and looked into her eyes. "Catherine, I would ask that you marry me before the child is born and that we live together as a family."

Catherine threw herself into Vincentís arms and hugged him fiercely. She began to tear up. "Oh Vincent, I love you so much. I would marry you even if we werenít going to try to have a child. It has always been my wish. Please letís get married soon. We donít have to wait until we know whether we will have a child."

Vincent was truly overwhelmed by all of this. A week ago he hadnít ever really kissed Catherine. Now they were talking children, marriage, having sex, living together. He chuckled to himself as he thought about how Ďout of sequenceí his thoughts had been.

"Catherine, I will marry you whenever you want as long as it is before the baby is born. I assume you want to live above? Perhaps we could also spend part of our time below?"

Catherine nodded her agreement. "Yes, it would be easier for me to come and go out of the brownstone during the week to work and you can go below each day to teach your classes and work in the tunnels. Weíll be just like any other couple going off to work each day. We can spend the weekends below. When the baby comes, Iíll stop teaching for a while. I want to spend the first year at least at home with the baby. I could always begin teaching on a limited basis after that. Iíll have to see how I feel."

"Catherine, weíre talking like the pregnancy is a sure thing. What if you canít conceive my child? What then?"

Catherine looked into Vincentís eyes. "Vincent, if we never become pregnant, weíll just adopt or remain childless. I wonít bear another manís baby if Iím married to you. I could never do that. Things have changed dramatically since I considered that option.

Vincent was relieved. He had hoped that she had changed her mind, but couldnít be sure.

Vincent and Catherine walked toward the dining hall. They had decided to tell everyone about their plans to get married. When they got their tray of food, they walked over to Fatherís table. Catherine and Vincent sat down across from Father and Mary.

Mary smiled warmly at the couple. "Vincent, Catherine, Iím so happy to see you. It seems ages since Iíve had the chance to visit with you. Tell me, whatís new in your lives?"

Catherine and Vincent both burst out laughing at that question. So much was new that they didnít even know where to begin.

When Catherine noticed that Father and Mary both seemed offended by their outburst, she quickly spoke. "Oh Mary, itís just that Vincent just asked me to marry him and we were going to announce it this evening at dinner. When you asked what was new, the joy just kind of bubbled up out of us. Iím sorry if we offended you. That was not our intention."

Mary reached across the table to grab both their hands. "Oh my sweet dears, nothing could make me happier. I can certainly understand now why you responded the way you did. That is very good news indeed, isnít it Jacob?" She used his Christian name for emphasis to remind him not to say anything negative. She knew that he had not been very supportive of this dear couple in the past and did not want his crotchety ways to put a damper on their joy.

Father had to stifle his first response, but managed to be pleasant, if not effusive. "Well, this is a surprise, but not completely unexpected I suppose. I wish you two every happiness."

Catherine and Vincent looked at each other but said nothing about Fatherís unexpected acquiescence.

The news traveled fast through the dining hall. Rebecca had been walking past the table when she heard Catherine tell Mary the news. She had quickly whispered what she heard to Pascal and so it went until the entire dining hall was buzzing.

Once Vincent realized what was happening, he stood and asked everyone for quiet. He took Catherine by the hand and gently pulled her to her feet next to him. "I guess that this wonít come as a shock to any of you since the room is fairly vibrating with gossip, but I want to officially announce our engagement to be married."

With that, everyone got to their feet to rush over to offer congratulations to the happy couple.

Vincentís heart was filled to overflowing at the easy acceptance of all of his family about him marrying Catherine. They didnít seem to see it as anything but a joyous event. They didnít see that Catherine and Vincent were so completely mismatched Ė she being a rich beautiful socialite and he being a man of dubious heritage with no earthly possessions.

Vincent was quickly pushed aside by all of the women as they engulfed Catherine in a veritable frenzy of questions and planning. He stood back and watched in amazement at the flurry of activity.

Pascal came over to Vincent and put his arm around him. "Well Vincent, looks like youíve lost your woman for a while. How about you and I sit over here and shoot the breeze? Zach is covering the pipes for me during lunch."

When they reached the table across the room, Vincent and Pascal sat down. "So, when did all this come about?"

"We decided just today."

"Iíve got to say, Iím kind of surprised that this is happening now. I thought you and Catherine were going to get married a couple of years ago when you two seemed inseparable. After your illness, I donít know, it didnít seemed like your feelings for her had changed."

"My feelings for her did not change. If anything, they are stronger. I was just afraid to allow her to get too close."

"Well, Iím just happy that you finally came to your senses. Catherine is the best thing that ever happened to you and you would have been a fool to let her get away."

Vincent merely nodded his head. "Pascal, some recent events just seemed to force the issue. I donít wish to elaborate, but you are correct in assuming that I finally came to my senses. My insecurities and fears just seemed so ridiculous. A lot of my fear was due to a nightmare I had while I was ill. I just couldnít seem to get it out of my head. I finally realized that it was just a dream and that I couldnít let it rule my life."

Pascal patted Vincent on the back. "Well, whatever it took, Iím very happy for you two. You make a great couple and I know that you will be very happy."

Pascal got up to leave, so Vincent just sat there alone watching Catherine with all of the tunnel women. She seemed completely at ease with them. She was laughing and talking very animatedly. His heart filled with love and pride at the sight of his beloved Catherine planning their wedding. He honestly was so happy his heart actually hurt.

Catherine happened to look up and stare across the room into his eyes. She smiled at him with one of her happiest smiles and then turned back to continue her planning.

Pretty soon Father made his way over to Vincent and sat down next to him. "Son, you know that I love Catherine like a daughter. If I were to pick a daughter in law, she would be it. I am truly very happy for you."

Vincent looked at his parent with tears in his eyes. "Father, that means so much to me. I know that you have never approved of my relationship with Catherine." He held up his hand when Father started to interrupt him. "You know that this is the case. However, the fact that you have finally accepted us as a couple means more to me than you could ever know." He hugged his father. "I love you."

By that afternoon, Vincent and Catherine were emotionally wrung out. They barely made it back to his chamber before collapsing. They fell onto the bed and faced each other. They started to giggle and couldnít seem to stop. So much had happened today. It was a release of nervous tension and it felt good to just be silly.

After quite a long while, Catherine snuggled up against Vincent and sighed heavily. "Vincent, I could use a nap. How does that sound to you?"

Vincent nodded and pulled Catherine closer. "That sounds like a fine idea. After dinner tonight maybe we could go back to your home and talk. Iíd like to hear all of these plans you ladies were making this afternoon." He chuckled to himself. "You certainly were in the thick of it for a while. Do I want to know what you have planned?"

Catherine leaned back to look up at him. "It is going to be a small elegant affair with just family and friends. Itís not my fault that you have an entire community of family and friends."

She punched Vincent playfully in the chest and leaned back down against him. "Seriously, I would like to have a very small elegant ceremony. I donít want a big splashy wedding. I did when I was younger, but Iíve changed."

Catherine and Vincent slept for a couple of hours. When they woke up, it was time to go to dinner. They were the center of attention again, but it wasnít quite as bad as it had been at lunch. About 8:00 they were able to make their apologies and went over to tell Father that they were leaving.

"Father, Iím going to stay above tonight. We have a lot of planning to do and I want to stay with Catherine afterward."

Father just nodded. He knew that this would probably be a common occurrence now that they were lovers and were engaged. Once they married, he would probably see very little of Vincent. He felt old and sad.

Sensing Fatherís mood, Vincent touched his parentís shoulder. "Father, Iíll be back down tomorrow afternoon and we can play chess. How does that sound?"

Father smiled at his son. "That sounds wonderful. I look forward to it."

Chapter 6

Once they reached Catherineís home, she and Vincent quickly embraced and began kissing passionately. By unspoken agreement, they had not so much as kissed in front of Vincentís family. It just seemed too new and intimate to share with anyone else.

Vincent picked Catherine up and walked up the stairs to the bedroom. When they went into the room they both stared at the bed.

"We left this room in a mess." Catherine groaned.

"Yes. It is quite in disarray."

Vincent helped Catherine strip the bed and put on clean sheets. Once that was accomplished, Catherine went around the room to pick up discarded clothing and towels. "Now, that looks much better."

"If youíll excuse me for a few minutes, I would like to freshen up a bit." Catherine grabbed a few things from her dresser and headed for the bathroom.

"Would it be all right if I use the shower down the hall?" Vincent inquired.

"Vincent, this is going to be your home too. You donít have to ask whether you can use something. You never did. Whatís mine is yours. Please start getting used to that idea."

Vincent nodded. "It will take me a while to start feeling as though this is Ďourí home and not just Ďyoursí. I will try."

They went to their respective bathrooms to shower and change.

Vincent grabbed the robe Catherine had bought him. He didnít have anything else to wear and didnít want to come from the bathroom completely naked. Although that wasnít entirely a bad thought. He laughed at himself. He enjoyed the shower once he figured out the controls and had washed his body and hair. He was getting aroused thinking about what Catherine was doing in that other bathroom. The outfit she had worn last night had been so sexy. He wondered if all of her lingerie was so provocative.

Vincent walked down the hall to Catherineís bedroom. When he came inside, she was lying on the bed in a black bra and panty set that got his heart racing. Her wet hair was spread out around her head on the pillow and she had an extremely sultry look in her eyes. She only had one candle burning and the lights were on a very low setting.

Without saying a word, he quickly shed his robe and came over to sit on the bed next to Catherine. He leaned down and kissed her passionately. His hand roamed along her body from her thigh up to her throat. He gave her one last kiss and then moved his lips down onto her neck. He covered her throat with open mouthed kisses and then moved to her shoulders. He continued kissing her with those warm wet kisses over all of her exposed skin. He didnít touch or kiss the flesh that was covered by the bra or panties. Once he reached her toes, he gently turned Catherine over and resumed his kissing on the back of her legs and body.

She was tingling all over with anticipation. She didnít know what Vincent was planning to do next but she was enjoying this very much. Once he reached her neck, he lay down on top of her and rubbed his warm body against her back. He felt delicious. She could feel his erection against the split between her buttocks and pushed up against him. He responded by grinding against her bottom. She wanted more . . . much more.

"Vincent, help me get off these clothes." The bra and panties were suddenly too much of a barrier to Vincentís flesh.

Vincent chuckled. "Catherine I donít think that what you have on really qualifies as clothing. They barely cover any of your body, but Iíll be happy to remove them." He turned her over and unfastened the front clasp. Once the bra was removed he spent many happy minutes teasing her nipples to hard peaks. Once that was accomplished, he moved down to the panties. He softly kissed her exposed flesh with those marvelous open mouthed kisses.

When Catherine felt Vincentís hot breath through her flimsy panties as he nuzzled her core, she climaxed powerfully. Ever since she had felt Vincentís penis pressed between her buttocks through her panties, she had been incredibly aroused. She was desperate to feel him inside her and when he had finally placed his warm lips on her swollen flesh, it was as if a fuse had been lit.

Vincent hadnít been prepared for her response. When she had arched her back and cried out his name, he roared as his orgasm overtook him as well. After a few minutes, he came up from between her legs and lay down beside her.

"Wow that was intense. I had planned to love you for a long time this evening, but I just couldnít hold back any longer. Obviously, you couldnít either. There is such passion between us." Vincent placed his hand against her cheek and let his fingers brush her skin lightly.

Catherine sat up and looked over at Vincent. "I have been aroused all day, just thinking about being back here with you this evening. It was that pent up arousal that was released just now. It is really good, what we have between us, isnít it?"

"Yes, itís very good. I would dare say, Ďexplosiveí." Vincent leaned down to kiss her warm lips.

Catherine had a thought. "So Vincent, now that youíve climaxed, you are in better control of yourself, arenít you?"

Vincent thought about it and nodded. "I guess. Well, as much as Iím ever going to be around you, when youíre practically naked. Why?"

"Since we donít need to worry about birth control, how about we try intercourse? I know we planned to wait for a while but there is really no need." Catherine grabbed Vincentís hand and began kissing the tips of his fingers provocatively.

Vincent sat up and positioned himself so that he was sitting across from her. He gently extricated his fingers from her sensual action and reached out to clasp both of her small hands into his large ones. He looked deeply into her eyes.

"Catherine, we were going to discuss positions that would control the depth of penetration and reduce the risk of you being injured. I donít want to deviate from our plan. Itís important to me." Vincent felt that he had to take control as he seemed to be the only one with any reservations.

Catherine nodded. "Youíre right. I promised. Okay, letís get on our robes and go down to the kitchen to look at that sex manual again together. Iíve got some ideas but it will be better if you can see the diagrams."

With that decision made, they got up, grabbed their robes and made their way to the kitchen. Catherine made some herbal tea for them before she went to retrieve the manual. She handed Vincent a cup of tea and opened the book to the section on positions for intercourse.

"There are several positions that reduce penetration that I think would work for us." She opened the book. "Here, this one shows the woman on top. That is by far the safest position for us. It keeps your weight off me and lets me control the depth of penetration as well as the speed. I am basically moving up and down your shaft by using my legs to raise and lower myself."

Vincent looked at the photo. The man had his hands on the womanís breasts. That definitely was a bonus to that position. He would also be able to watch Catherine move on him. He was visualizing her pumping on top of him. He realized that he wasnít paying attention to what Catherine was saying. "Iím sorry, what did you say?"

She caught Vincentís glazed expression and stifled a laugh. "There is another one that would be good for us to try at first. It is the spoon position. We lie on our sides with you beside me spooned up against my body. This reduces penetration and also keeps your weight off me." She found the position in the book and showed Vincent.

Vincent thought that looked good too. His thoughts began to drift up to the bedroom again before Catherine reined him in with her voice.

"This third one is where I get on my hands and knees and you enter me from behind. Once again you would be controlling the pace, but it does keep your weight off me and limits penetration." Catherine flipped through the book and located the photo to show Vincent.

This position was one that Vincent was both aroused and repulsed by. "Catherine, this last position bothers me. I think that it seems too much like what animals do. I think that maybe one of these other two might be better."

Catherine looked over at Vincent. "If youíre not comfortable with this, we can certainly skip it. I think you would enjoy this position in a modified form though. Catherine flipped through the book until she found a photo of a woman kneeling with her shoulders lowered to the bed and her buttocks lifted up slightly by a pillow. The man was leaning over her with one arm around her belly as if he was supporting her back as he entered her.

At least it looked more like they were making love that way. After a little more discussion, he agreed to try the woman on top position. He was still very apprehensive, but he and Catherine very much wanted to have intercourse and this did seem to be the very best choice in terms of control and safety.

Vincent followed Catherine back up to the bedroom. She had suggested the rug in front of the fireplace, but he wanted to be in her bed for their first time. It just seemed right. Now that they were in her bedroom, he was nervous. He wasnít sure how to begin.

Catherine sensed his unease and came up to him and untied the belt of his robe and untied hers as well so that their bare skin would be in full contact. "Just relax Vincent. Weíll just hold each other until youíre ready. Thereís no hurry. Weíre not on any time table. If you donít want to do this, weíll wait."

Vincent stood holding Catherineís warm soft body as he savored the sensation of their flesh touching. It was so sweet to just hold her like this. He leaned down and lifted her chin so that he could kiss her. He barely touched his lips to hers.

At his tentative touch, she opened her mouth to encourage him to deepen the kiss. He turned his head to the side and began to stroke her tongue with his. She twined her tongue with his and moaned deep in her throat.

He reached down and lifted her into his arms and walked over to the bed. He placed her on the bed and lay down beside her. He began caressing her face, neck and shoulders as he continued to kiss her thoroughly.

She reached down between them and began to stroke his penis.

He moved his hand from her shoulder down to her breast. He teased the nipple until it was erect and then moved to the other one. He slid his hand on down and let it slide between her legs. She was already very moist. He was surprised at how quickly she was aroused. He wasnít sure if this was typical, but he didnít think so. He moved his finger deeper into her inner folds, being careful to keep his claws turned away from her. He stroked her over and over with his fingers while his thumb put pressure on her clitoris. She began to writhe and pant heavily. He didnít want her to climax yet, so he stopped stimulating her. He turned himself over onto his back and pulled Catherine on top of him.

She positioned herself so that she could feel his erect penis against her core. She reached down between her legs to gather up some of her moisture. She stroked it onto Vincentís turgid shaft. She did this several times. "Are you ready? Are you okay with this? I want you to be sure."

He thought he would go crazy if she didnít stop rubbing her secretions on him. "Yes, Iím sure, but if you donít stop rubbing me, Iím going to climax before we have intercourse." He ground out the words as he fought for control.

Finally, she moved herself into position. "Oh Vincent, I need you inside me." She had her hand around the base of his phallus and started to push herself down onto him.

He fought his urge to thrust up into her. He was enthralled with the scene unfolding before him and wanted to savor it.

Catherine was sliding down his shaft, inch by torturous inch. It was very erotic to watch himself penetrating her . . . as though she were consuming him.

Once she got about halfway down, she stopped. "Vincent, I want your hands on me." She placed his hands on her breasts. "Rub my nipples."

Once he was stroking her the way she wanted, he continued to watch her progression down his turgid flesh. He watched transfixed until his entire penis was inside her. He was shocked that she had been able to take all of him into her small body.

They stayed still for a moment enjoying the sheer bliss of finally being Ďoneí.

Catherine felt so warm . . . so tight around his swollen flesh. He made an involuntary thrusting motion upward. "Iím sorry Catherine I didnít mean to do that. My . . . need . . . for your body is intoxicating me."

Catherine answered by starting to slide up and down his shaft slowly and rhythmically. Once she established a rhythm, she wanted Vincent to join her. "Vincent it is okay, just thrust upward as I move down. Youíre not going to hurt me. In this position, you donít have much leverage."

Vincent was in heaven. He couldnít believe how good it felt to slide his penis in and out of her slick channel. He had a strong urge to flip her over so that he could take control and drive into her more deeply. He suppressed the urge. He desperately wanted this first time to be as safe and controlled as possible.

Catherine started to move much faster now. She was getting tired. She moved his hands from her breasts and placed them on her hips. "Help me."

He thrust up into her more forcefully while pushing her down with his hands. Watching their frantic movements and her breasts bouncing up and down was an unbelievable sight. He thrust into her again and again and again.

With one final thrust and a roar of triumph, he arched his back and let his seed flow into her for what seemed to be an endless series of pulses. He felt her muscles contract around him.

She threw her head back and cried out his name as her orgasm peaked. When she was climbing down from the pinnacle, she slumped down onto his body. She held him very close and caressed him with her entire body. She even caressed his penis as she squeezed him with her strong vaginal muscles.

He held very still and tried to regain some strength. He was completely spent. He wrapped his arms around Catherineís body. She was as wet with perspiration as he was. He soothed her with his hands as he spoke. "This raw passion . . . this lust I have for you is not sweet or gentle. It scares me a little . . . this physical act of love. It is so intense."

"Thatís what it is to be lovers. It changes a relationship between a man and woman into something that transcends mere love . . . it Ďjoinsí us. It is what bonds a man to a woman, not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally. We belong to each other now . . . more than we ever have before." Catherine spoke as she continued to caress her emotional lover.

"I knew that it would be wonderful between us. It was incredible. Better than I ever imagined." Catherine leaned back down and began to kiss and rub Vincentís chest.

"Yes, incredible." Vincent sighed as he held Catherine close.

"You know, I havenít tasted your nipples. I must rectify this serious oversight immediately." She began to tease and suck his nipples with relish. She went from one to the other while stimulating the opposite one between her thumb and fore finger.

It felt wonderful to Vincent. He didnít know that male nipples were so sensitive. He had craved having her touch his nipples, but hadnít been sure whether it was a natural impulse or not. This was truly amazing. He was still seated inside her. He could feel his erection starting to build.

She could feel it as well. She started to move her pelvis around in a circular motion on him.

He moaned as she kept up this sensuous movement.

Since she was leaning down rather than sitting up, he had more contact with her warm flesh. She was still teasing his nipples. Since she couldnít reach him with her mouth, she used both hands to continue stimulating his nipples. She looked up at his face. His eyes were hazy with passion, and his jaw was clenched tight. She could see the lengths he was taking to maintain control. She didnít want him to be so controlled. She moved against him.

"Catherine . . . if you could just stop moving for a moment . . . and let me regain some control."

"Just let go Vincent." She moved against him again.

"Ah, Catherine . . . the way you make me feel." He fought for control, but soon, he just couldnít help himself. The need became too great. He placed his hands on her buttocks and began to thrust up into her.

She ground against him faster and harder.

He flipped them over and took the dominant role.

He started with shallow thrusts but soon lost any semblance of control. He withdrew almost completely and drove back into her forcefully. Vincent wanted to tell her how much he wanted her, how much she meant to him, but the feelings coursing through him were too powerful to express. He couldnít slow down, he just let go. He grunted and panted as he pounded her flesh.

Catherine would not let him regain control. She wanted this . . . needed this raw passion from him. She wrapped her legs around his waist and rode out the torrent with him.

He wished he could continue forever, but soon he let out a growl as he found his release.

With a couple of more grinds of her hips, Catherine joined him with her own shuddering climax.

It took long minutes for both of them to recover.

Vincent knew that he had to be crushing her, but couldnít let her go completely. He rolled them back over so that she was again on top.

As soon as Vincent could talk, he breathlessly inquired about Catherineís well being.

"Catherine, did I hurt you? I am so sorry that I took over like that. I was driven by a need that seemed completely outside of my rational self. I was afraid that this would happen. This is why I was so afraid. I wanted to allow you to have complete control, but my lust overtook me. I am obviously not to be trusted."

Catherine looked up into Vincentís teary eyes. She had tears streaming from her own now. "Oh Vincent, that was so incredibly wonderful. You didnít hurt me at all. I pushed you to lose control. I wanted you to take me like that. I enjoyed it more than you can imagine."

She reached up to wipe away his tears and pulled him back down on top of her so she could embrace him. "Now that we know itís safe, we can relax and have more fun."

Vincent pulled back and looked down at Catherine. "Catherine, if we have any more fun than weíve already experienced, Iím not sure Iíll survive."

Catherine chuckled at this and gave him a playful slap on his arm. "Well, lover, what do you say to some food? I have worked up quite an appetite and not just for carnal pleasures."

Vincent and Catherine indulged in a late night snack. She talked him into getting dressed so that they could go out and sit on the porch. It was rather chilly. Catherine brought out a large blanket and placed it over them as they snuggled in the porch swing. They swung very slowly as they enjoyed each otherís company and stared up at the stars. Life couldnít be any better for either of them at that moment.

"Catherine, could you have gotten pregnant tonight?"

Catherine shook her head. "According to my ovulation chart, I should be ovulating next week. I think to achieve maximum success; we should have sex every day next week. What do you say? Would that be too much of an imposition on you?"

Vincent chuckled. "I think I could suffer through it. I just canít believe that we might have a child of our own. Itís more than I ever thought possible for my life. The greatest gift has been your love for me. How I ever got such a beautiful, intelligent, wanton woman to fall in love with me is a mystery."

At the wanton description, Catherine just laughed. "You havenít seen wanton yet, mister. You have no idea how many ways I have imagined us making love. Iíve had a few years to ponder these thoughts you know."

Vincent became somewhat pensive. "I know Catherine and I regret having made us wait so long to enjoy this expression of our love. This sexual intimacy has been a dream-come-true. I canít imagine my life now without the freedom to express our love in a physical sense. Now that we have started down this path, Iím afraid that my sexual demands might be a bit voracious."

Catherine leaned over to kiss Vincent thoroughly on the lips. "Vincent, I donít think our sexual appetites are going to be incompatible. I have lots and lots of time to make up for. Iíll let you know if I begin to tire of you."

Vincent just smiled to himself.

*********

Catherine began coming down each evening after work to have dinner with Vincent in the dining hall so that she could talk with Mary and the other women about the wedding plans. That way, Vincent could spend time with Father before he and Catherine left to go above for the night.

Vincent lost many chess matches to Father as his mind drifted to their torrid love making. Father was ecstatic about his victories and boasted about his improved game. Vincent accepted his defeats gladly for he knew the real reason behind the losses.

Vincent and Catherine made love each night. They tried out a few more positions as well as some new locations. They made love in front of the fireplace, in each of the other three bedrooms and had even made love outside on a soft pallet of blankets and comforters. It was a chilly evening, so as soon as their passion was spent, they had returned indoors to warm by the fire and then get into Catherineís snuggly bed.

They still had not made love in Vincentís chamber. Catherine just didnít feel that they had enough privacy there with just a lantern out in the hallway to forestall any of the numerous visitors that frequented Vincentís chamber at all hours of the day and night. He had established no sense of privacy over his 36 years in the tunnels.

Vincent went to Cullen and Kanin about helping him install a door to his chamber. He had fantasized about making love to Catherine in his bed for a long time and wasnít going to give up until that fantasy was fulfilled. He would get that door installed as soon as possible.

Chapter 7

Vincent and Catherine set a date for the wedding. They decided to have an engagement party at Winterfest with the entire tunnel community and helpers and then have an intimate wedding ceremony for their close friends and family the next day at her brownstone. She contacted Peter by phone to fill him in on their news and Vincent had been able to reach Devin by mail. He received a quick response to his letter.

Vincent read it to Catherine one evening. "Little brother, I am thrilled to hear that you are finally going to make an honest woman out of Chandler. It sure has taken you long enough. I will agree to come to this auspicious occasion as long as I can be the best man. I look fabulous all dressed up Ė just kidding. Anyway, Iíll be there a couple of days before Winterfest to help with the preparations. I love you Vincent. Tell Chandler that I look forward to kissing her after the wedding Ė a brotherly kiss. I donít want a matching set of scars on my other cheek! Iíll see you in about a month. Take care. Love, Your Big Brother."

Catherine smiled as Vincent read the part about the kiss. Devin was completely incorrigible. "Vincent, what has Devin been doing with himself now that he no longer has Charles to care for?"

The death of Charles had been a real blow to Devin. He had gotten pneumonia and had succumbed to it about a year ago.

"Iím not sure. He hasnít really said what heís been doing these past months. All I know is that he is in Australia. It has been an adventure, Iím sure. He will no doubt fill us in during his visit. It will be so good to see him. Iíve missed him a great deal. It was such a shock to see him again all those years after his disappearance, but once I knew he was alive I didnít want to lose touch with him again. I donít think heíll ever settle down in New York, City, but if he would come to visit occasionally, it would be enough."

Catherine reached over to stroke his hand. "I know that you love your brother deeply. You are very lucky to have Father, Mary and Devin. I wish my parents were still alive or that I had a sibling to share this joyous occasion with. If I didnít have Peter, I would have no family at all."

Vincent took Catherineís hands into his. "I wish things were different for you. I hope that you will begin to feel that my family is yours as well."

Catherine squeezed his hands. "I do consider them all my family. Truly I do. Itís just that I feel like an orphan at times. It was really hard when I lost my Dad. He had been my only family since my motherís death. If I hadnít had you, I donít think I could have survived. I often wish that I had stayed below after his death. So many bad things happened to us afterward. Perhaps it could have all been avoided if I had just stayed below with you."

Vincent hugged her against him. "You needed to go back above to regain your sense of self and to complete your healing. Yes, you would have been much safer below, but safety isnít always the best route. Obviously the safe route for us would have been to never become lovers, but it was worth the risk. Your courage after your fatherís death and your courage to help me overcome my fears of sexual intimacy are a testament to your strength of character. You are a remarkable woman and I feel very fortunate to know you and to have your love."

The rest of November was filled with love and lots of food. Catherine and Vincent enjoyed Thanksgiving below on Thursday but also celebrated with a feast above on Friday for a few of their tunnel friends, including Father and Mary. With Mary and Vincentís help, Catherine managed to put together a decent meal. She wanted to have it catered, but at Vincentís urging, decided to try to cook it herself.

She and Vincent pored over some cook books and went below to ask William about some of the terms and ingredients. William gave them lots of tips. Catherine burst out into laughter when Vincent donned an apron. He looked so ridiculously adorable with that apron around his waist. She couldnít resist kissing him and things quickly got out of hand. The gelatin salad had to be thrown out since in their passion, they had knocked it to the floor with a large splat. Once they had cleaned up the mess, a Waldorf salad took its place on the menu.

The meal was a huge success. They determined that they would make it a tradition.

The entire month would have been perfect had it not been for one incident.

*******

One evening when Vincent arrived he could tell that Catherine had been crying. He rushed to embrace her. "What is wrong, my darling Catherine?"

"Oh Vincent, itís just that I got my period today. I was so hoping that I might have gotten pregnant. I know it is foolish to think that I would get pregnant the very first month we were intimate, but it was still hard to look down at that blood and not weep."

Vincent held her in his strong arms for a long time before he spoke. "I truly believe that it will happen. I donít know why I believe it. I just do." He tilted her head up and kissed her.

"Iím also cramping and my breasts are sore. Iím afraid that Iím not going to be very good company this evening. You probably would have more fun with Father."

Vincent picked Catherine up and carried her into the den. He went over to get a throw from a basket in the corner and placed it over her reclining form. "Iím going to take care of you. How about some hot tea? Would that make you feel better? Is there something you could take? Perhaps some aspirin might help?"

He was being so kind to her that it made her start crying all over again.

He was at a loss as to what to do now. He just stood there and watched her cry. After what seemed like an eternity, Catherine stopped crying and looked up at Vincent with teary eyes.

"Iím sorry Vincent, Iím being very emotional this evening. Some tea sounds lovely and there is some pound cake sitting out that I bought on my way home from the University. You might as well know right now that when I have my period, I eat sweets voraciously. I have already taken an analgesic for the pain."

Vincent made no response but instead went to the kitchen to prepare the tea and get the cake as she had requested. When he returned, he placed it on the table in front of Catherine.

Catherine sat up to retrieve the cup of tea and the cake. "Thank you. This is very sweet of you."

"Youíre welcome, my love." He kept his tone even although he had just noticed her breasts. They were straining against the thin T-shirt that she wore. She obviously had removed her bra earlier. They seemed swollen and looked even more enticing than usual. He averted his eyes.

"Catherine, perhaps it would help if I massaged your back. I know from listening to the women below talk, that their lower backs hurt during this time. Do you think that would help?"

Catherine finished the last bite of her cake and turned over on her belly. "That sounds wonderful Vincent. Maybe you could get that massage oil from the bedroom that we used the other night. That would feel really good."

Vincent left to go upstairs and retrieve the oil. When he got back, Catherine had stripped off her top and was lying face down with her head on a cushion and her arms curled around her head. She looked so vulnerable lying like that. His heart surged with love and protectiveness. He wanted to take away her pain and give her some comfort.

He bent down and poured a little of the oil into him palms. He began to gently rub the oil into her back. "Catherine, tell me what feels best. Iíll just keep rubbing different areas until you let me know."

Catherine nodded her head. "Okay."

When he reached her waistband, she reached back to tug it lower. She had it tugged down to where he could see the top of her beautiful bottom. He inwardly groaned at the sight. He needed to focus on Catherineís needs this evening. He would just have to suppress his desires until she felt better. When Vincent reached her lower back, Catherine moaned.

"There, rub harder right there."

He leaned so that he could use some of his weight. He didnít want to hurt her. Finally he was exerting just the right amount of pressure to ease her pain. He kept massaging until she asked him to stop.

She turned over and gazed up into Vincentís eyes. "Thank you Vincent, I feel much better. Do you feel like watching a video? I rented a romantic comedy that Iíve wanted to see."

Vincent had been right, Catherineís naked breasts were staring up at him enticingly and they were indeed swollen. His eyes were drawn to them like magnets. She had said that they were painful, so he refrained from reaching out to touch them. He swallowed hard and looked up into her eyes.

"That sounds good. Do you want some popcorn?"

Thankfully, Catherine reached down and tugged her top back on. Once Vincent brought back in the popcorn, they settled in on the couch and watched the movie. It was indeed funny and romantic. Even though they didnít have sex that night, it was a very wonderful evening and had allowed him to share a most intimate experience with her.

********

Winterfest was a week away. Catherine had gone to several boutiques over the past few weeks to look for a dress for the wedding. When the clerks asked what she was looking for, she said that she wanted something romantic for a very special winter party. She was becoming discouraged because she hadnít found anything special enough for the wedding. She was at a small shop that she had almost bypassed because it had started to snow and she was anxious to get home. She was very glad she had stopped. When the clerk came out, she was carrying two dresses and they were both beautiful. One was blue velvet with a low cut neckline and empire waistline. Other than the color, it was very much like the dress in Kristopherís painting of her and Vincent. She tried it on and it fit perfectly. She would wear it for their engagement party at Winterfest. The second dress was ivory with a covering of lace and small pearls. It had a high neckline and covered every inch of her down to her wrists and her feet but was revealing in its own way. It was made of a slightly stretchy fabric that formed to her every curve. It was very feminine and sexy but not provocative. She loved it. With her crystal hanging around her neck and the proper hairstyle and footwear, she would look and feel like a princess.

She had avoided all of the wedding departments at the large department stores as well as the traditional wedding boutiques. She knew that news in her circles traveled fast and didnít want to have her name in the society page speculating about her upcoming nuptials. She had thankfully avoided being in the papers since she had left the DAís office.

The ladies below had suggested that they could make her a dress, but with the holidays coming, she didnít want to burden them with this additional task. They were going to be busy making some new things for Vincent to wear. Besides she really enjoyed going shopping now. She used to shop all the time just for lack of anything else productive to do with her time and money. That was the old Catherine. The new improved Catherine only shopped occasionally and only when she really needed something. She didnít need to fill any voids in her life with shopping excursions. Vincent had filled all of her needs. She desperately wanted a baby but didnít need one to make her life complete. Just having Vincent as her friend, lover and husband was more than enough to fulfill her life.

********

Devin arrived a few days before Winterfest and was full of wild stories of mystery and intrigue. Vincent hugged his brother fiercely when he arrived and guided him into Fatherís chamber. Father was very glad to see Devin and the tension of his previous two visits was not evident this time. Vincent sighed with relief. He didnít want any tension between Devin and Father to dampen the joy of his and Catherineís wedding.

After a while, Devin whispered to Vincent in a conspiratorial tone. "I want to show you something, in private."

"Father, please excuse us." Vincent was intrigued as he never knew what to expect from his brother.

When they were alone in Vincentís chamber, he noticed that Devin was digging into his pocket to retrieve something. It was a small pouch.

"Put out your hand Vincent."

Devin poured something into Vincentís outstretched palm.

Vincent looked down at his palm and then back up at Devin. "Iíve never seen such a beautiful stone. What is it?"

The candlelight caused the gem to sparkle, casting off prisms of light which reflected off the walls of the chamber.

Devin beamed proudly. "Itís a yellow diamond. Iím so glad that you like it. I think it will be perfect for a wedding ring. This is my wedding present to you and Catherine."

Vincent walked over and sat down at his table while he continued to stare at the stone.

"While in Australia this past year, I did a little diamond mining. I was lucky enough to pull that little baby and a few white diamonds from the ground. I have a greedy, but talented, acquaintance of mine down under that is a professional diamond cutter. He examined the stones and then made the decision as to what the best cuts would be. We agreed that he would keep one as payment. He cut the white diamonds first. There was one in particular that was a brilliant round stone. I figured he would take that one. Anyway, he cut this yellow stone into what he called an ĎAsscherí cut. As you can see, it is like an emerald cut but square and with more brilliance. When he got this yellow stone cut and polished, he was salivating to have it. It was obvious from his reaction, that it was the prize of the bunch. I must tell you that things did get a little ugly there for a while, but my charm and a few threats of bodily harm won him over. He even gave me papers on the rock proving its authenticity and worth. He kept that beautiful white one as payment. I intended to sell the stones, but never did. When I got your letter, I was sure glad that I didnít."

Iíve already talked to a helper thatís a jeweler, so all you need to do is pick out the setting. He agreed to take a couple of the small white ones in trade for a store credit. Youíve got quite a large credit at the store now. All you need to do is go and select a setting for that stone. That is unless you already have a diamond ring for Catherine." Devin gave Vincent a friendly little punch on the arm.

Vincent smiled at his brother and looked back down at the stone. "I have a plain gold band that I was intending to give Catherine at the wedding. I probably got it from the same helper youíre referring to. I traded it for the labor of moving some display cases for him. Oh Devin, this is so beautiful. This is very thoughtful and very generous of you. I could have this stone set into a matching engagement ring. I could give her the engagement ring at Winterfest before the party and then give her the matching band at the wedding."

Vincent was so excited he could hardly contain himself. "Letís go tomorrow. We only have a few days. Iíll bring the band so we can make sure that it matches perfectly."

With that decided, the brothers went to the dining hall to grab a bite to eat.

Catherine was below as well but was spending her time with the women. They were working on some decorations for Winterfest and for the wedding. The guest list for the wedding had grown to about 25 people. It was many more than she had intended, but didnít want to exclude anybody who really wanted to attend. As it was, all 25 people were truly close friends.

Even Jenny and Nancy were both going to be at the wedding. Catherine had arranged for them to meet Vincent a couple of weeks ago. Catherine had called them both to tell them about the engagement. Jenny flew in that weekend and Nancy drove down to join them. She and Vincent had discussed meeting her friends. He and Catherine convinced Father that they were old friends of Catherineís and were very trustworthy. Vincent argued that it was not fair to Catherine to exclude her best friends from the wedding. Father finally agreed.

The wedding was going to be held in Catherineís home so the tunnel community would be safe. There was no need to bring them below at this point. Catherine agreed, although she would have liked to have them at the engagement party as well, but didnít press the issue. She didnít want to upset Father too much. Having her friends meet Vincent was one thing, exposing the entire tunnel community was quite another.

When Jenny and Nancy arrived, it was like old home week. They laughed and gossiped about old friends but the conversation quickly turned to the matter at hand Ė the wedding.

"Nancy, Jenny. I first want to tell you both how very happy I am that you are here and that youíre going to be able to attend the wedding. I know that you are surprised that Iím getting married to someone that youíve never met, but when you meet him, I think that will answer all of your questions."

Nancy turned toward Catherine. "Are you marrying Vincent - the man that you told me about when you came up to Westport for the weekend that time?"

Catherine nodded. "Yes, he and I are finally going to have our happy life. It will have some complications, but they are insignificant considering what I am gaining. He is truly the most wonderful man I have ever met and I love him with all my heart."

Catherine turned to Jenny. "Jenny, remember that time after my abduction by that pervert when I told you that I wouldnít be alone?"

Jenny nodded. "Sure, I remember. You practically forced me out of your apartment."

"I wasnít going to be alone, because Vincent was waiting for me on the balcony. He used to come to my balcony to visit because he couldnít just walk through the lobby and go up the elevator."

Jenny and Nancy looked at each other and then at Catherine for clarification.

"Vincent looks different than ordinary men. I find him to be very attractive, but his looks are frightening to some. Curiously, children donít ever seem to be afraid of him. I just want to warn you before you meet him that his looks are unusual. Please try not to be alarmed when you see him. He is sensitive about meeting new people, and I donít want him hurt. Okay?"

Jenny spoke first. "I know that he must be a very special man to have captured your heart. I donít care what he looks like, if he makes you happy." She gave Catherine a hug.

Nancy hugged Catherine as well. "Honey, I could tell when you were talking about him that night at my place, how much you loved and cared for this man. Iím so glad that you worked out your problems and are going to get married. I couldnít be happier for you."

Jenny looked around as if Vincent might be sitting in one of the chairs in the den and just hadnít noticed. "So where is this mystery man? Are we going to get to meet him today?"

Catherine stood up and started to walk toward the staircase. "Heís upstairs in our bedroom. Let me go up and get him. Weíll be back in a few minutes."

Jenny and Nancy sat and quietly speculated about what might be wrong with Vincentís appearance.

When Catherine got to the bedroom, she found Vincent lying on the bed reading a book. She came over to him and reached out for his hand. "Are you ready to meet my friends?"

He smiled up at her. "Of course - they are your oldest and dearest friends. I very much want to meet them."

Catherine kept hold of his hand as she led him down the stairs.

When she and Vincent came into the den, Jenny and Nancy stood and stared, transfixed.

Jenny was, of course, the first to speak. "My God Catherine, heís gorgeous." She had expected something much different from Catherineís description, certainly not this large muscular man with long golden hair who looked like he had stepped out of a fairy tale. She reached out her hand to shake Vincentís, but at the last minute, she hugged him instead. She backed up to take in the sight of him again.

"Catherine, I can certainly see why you are attracted to him, and also why he couldnít just walk across the lobby of your building."

Vincent looked down at Jenny and spoke for the first time.

"Jenny, it is wonderful to meet you."

Jenny wasnít prepared for that sexy voice either and her knees practically buckled when he said her name.

He turned to Nancy and extended his hand to her. "And you Nancy, it is a pleasure to meet you as well."

Nancy finally gathered her wits about her and shook Vincentís hand. "Vincent, when Catherine said that you looked unusual, I must admit that I had envisioned someone very unattractive. But Jenny is right, you are absolutely stunning and your voice is the sexiest thing Iíve ever heard."

Vincent chuckled. "Well, I donít know about that, but I am very glad that youíre not frightened of me. Actually, the first time Catherine saw me, she threw something at me." He smiled and knew that Catherine was going to retaliate for that remark.

"Vincent, you know very well that I only threw something at you because you had startled me, not because of your appearance."

Vincent smiled as he nodded his head. He gestured toward the sofa and chairs and asked the ladies to have a seat so that they could get better acquainted.

"Vincent, there is a genteel manner about you, as though you are from a different time. Where did you grow up? Jenny was intrigued by this gentle, sophisticated man who had captured her friendís heart.

"I was raised by a doctor, the man who became my father. I grew up in a small community outside of regular society. We didnít have television or radio, so there was more time for reading, philosophy and the arts. We had no material possessions, but we were rich in other ways."

"Yes, well, Catherine was lucky to have found you. Iím curious as to how you two met."

"We met four years ago when Catherine was attacked and left to die in the park." Vincent looked over at Catherine. It always pained him to talk about that time.

"Vincent found me, beaten and bleeding. He took me to his father, the doctor, and they patched me up. He saved my life." Catherine stared into Vincentís eyes to offer reassurance that all the violence in their past was just that Ė in the past.

"We share a bond, a special connection, which is unique between us. It was stronger in the past, but I can still sense her emotions when they are especially strong."

"So youíre empathic? Thatís so cool. I guess Cathy has told you that I have Ďvisionsí." Jenny was excited to find out that Vincent had a special gift like she did.

"As a matter of fact, she has." Vincent did not reveal that he, also, had experienced Ďvisionsí.

"So you live here with Catherine now?"

"Yes." Vincent reached out for Catherineís hand.

Although Catherine could tell that Nancy and Jenny were curious about why Vincent looked the way he did, neither one asked.

Vincent finally broached the subject. "I know that you must be curious as to why I look the way I do. I am curious as well. I will probably never know. Someone found me as a newborn baby, abandoned outside St. Vincentís hospital 36 years ago. There were no clues as to where I came from. As far as I know, there are no others like me."

He paused for a couple of moments before continuing. "Although I had the love of my adopted father and many others who I consider to be family, I spent many lonely years thinking that I would never know the love of a woman."

He looked over at Catherine. "Finally I found Catherine. It took me four years to truly accept her love. I just couldnít believe that someone such as she could, or should, love me. She is very stubborn and finally convinced me that she would never leave me and that I deserved her love. I cherish her more than life itself and will do everything within my power to make her happy."

When Vincent finished speaking, Jenny, Nancy and Catherine had tears streaming down their faces.

After the meeting with Jenny and Nancy, he excused himself to go back upstairs so that the ladies could discuss the wedding plans. Catherine had asked both of them to be her bridesmaids. They readily agreed and they spent the rest of Saturday shopping for dresses for the wedding. Catherine had asked them to choose something in a deep blue color to match Vincentís eyes but let them each select their own style of dress.

Sunday afternoon Jenny flew back home and Nancy drove back to Westport. They both promised to be back early the day of the wedding and further promised that they would keep Vincentís appearance a secret.

"If anyone asks, I can truthfully say that he is uniquely handsome and that he is going to make you very happy." Jenny declared and Nancy heartily agreed.

Very late in the next evening, Devin and Vincent made their way to the jewelerís store through a nearby tunnel access. Devin had gone up earlier that day to make sure that the jeweler could meet with them and to verify the store credit.

Mr. Rosenberg was waiting for them in the back room when they arrived. "Hello Vincent, I understand that you are going to give your young lady an engagement ring to match the gold band? Devin says that you already have a stone and that you just need a setting. Is that correct?"

At the jewelerís question, Vincent reached inside his cloak and pulled out the pouch and handed it to the old man. "Yes, if that is possible."

Mr. Rosenberg sat down at his work table, opened the pouch and poured out the contents onto some black velvet. When he saw the stone, he immediately got out his jewelers loupe to examine the gem more carefully.

"Vincent, where did you get this magnificent stone?"

Devin answered. "Actually, I gave it to Vincent as a wedding present. I mined for it where I got those other stones and had the rough stone cut by the same guy. Itís pretty nice, isnít it? I have all the proper paperwork for the gem and an appraisal."

Mr. Rosenberg looked at the diamond again. "Devin, do you have the appraisal with you?"

Devin reached into his jacket and retrieved the papers. "I thought you might want to see the paperwork Ė thatís why I brought it with me. I wouldnít want you to think that this stone was Ďhotí or anything. I know that I havenít exactly got the greatest of reputations in the tunnel community."

He gave Vincent a wry smile as he handed the paperwork to the old man.

The jeweler shook his head. "No, no my son, thatís not it. I just want to see what your cutter thought this stone was worth." He looked over the appraisal and smiled. "I would say the man who cut this diamond was trying to pull a fast one. He was no doubt interested in buying this gem from you."

Devin smiled back. "Yeah, you might say that. Why? Is it worth more than his appraisal?"

Vincent was beginning to get uncomfortable about all of this talk about the stoneís worth. He looked at Devin and then back at the old jeweler.

"I would say that this stone is worth at least five times what the appraisal says. Yellow diamonds with this deep hue and uniformity of color and clarity are very rare. Also, your friend did a very excellent job cutting this diamond. He is very talented."

Vincent was stunned. "Devin I had no idea that it was so valuable. I canít accept this. Itís way too much."

Devin shook his head. "Hey bro, you want to give that classy lady a rock she can be proud of. I found it. I didnít pay for it. I paid the guy who cut it with one of the other diamonds I mined. Iím not out anything. Besides, I had a great time on that little adventure in Australia. Iím just glad that I didnít let that guy talk me out of this yellow diamond. Please let me do this for you."

Vincent knew that Devin was sincere and he really did want to give Catherine the diamond. "Okay, but please donít tell anyone what that stone is worth. It will make me very uncomfortable."

Devin nodded his agreement and turned back to the jeweler. "So, Mr. Rosenberg, letís see if that store credit will get my little brother a setting worthy of this stone."

After looking through several settings, Vincent selected a beautiful simple half-round style yellow gold band. The jeweler thought that this style and color would be best for the stone. He traded the other band that he had gotten earlier for another that matched the half-round style.

Devinís store credit was more than enough so Devin got a nice ring for himself with a black onyx setting. Mr. Rosenberg promised to have the ring done by the morning of Winterfest. With that promise, the brothers left the store in a very good mood.

Chapter 8

It was the morning of Winterfest. Catherine and Vincent got up early, dressed warmly and took their coffee outside to sit on the back porch. It was a mild day and there was a light layer of snow on the ground that was glistening in the early morning sun. They knew that they wouldnít see each other again until the party. They both had things to do today that would keep them apart.

Catherine had appointments to have her legs waxed and a manicure and pedicure but was meeting Devin at Barneys later. She had some new clothes for Vincent on hold at the store and she wanted Devinís help to make the final selections. Catherine had solicited Maryís help in getting Vincentís measurements and shoe size. Since she sewed most of his clothing, she was very familiar with the man.

Devin was helping out Vincent with something this morning but had promised to meet her at Barneys at noon. She also wanted Devinís opinion and help regarding her wedding present to him. She hoped that Vincent was going to enjoy her surprises. If not, she would be terribly disappointed.

Catherine arrived back at her home around 5:00. She felt very happy with the pampering she had indulged in today as well as the gifts for Vincent. Devin had been invaluable at Barneys helping her sort out which clothes would be best for Vincent. After noticing how much Devin admired the handsome leather coat she was buying for Vincent, she bought him an equally handsome brown bomber jacket. He had refused at first but she insisted.

From there they went to the Montblanc store to pick up the fountain pen she had ordered for Vincent as an engagement present. It was the top of the line and she had Vincentís name engraved on the barrel. He had enthusiastically agreed that Vincent would love it.

"These store clerks sure do fall over themselves when you walk in the store. I wonder why that is." Catherine said nothing, just gave Devin a demure smile.

He had always suspected that Catherine was loaded but after an afternoon of shopping with her, it was confirmed. He wondered if Vincent had any idea just how wealthy Catherine was. He doubted it.

Catherine had never spent a lot of time with Devin unless you counted the time they had spent together as adversaries at the district attorneyís office. She was enjoying their time very much and inquired as to his plans after Winterfest.

"Will you be staying in the city for a while?" Catherine wanted Devin to stay for Vincentís sake.

"I doubt that Iíll stay around too long. I love the city but the tunnels close in on me after a while. Iím thinking about taking up photography again. Iíve done it in the past and am pretty good."

Catherine had a thought. "Iíve got my Dadís old photography equipment at his apartment. I would love to have some engagement and wedding photos as long as you can develop your own film?"

At his nod, Catherine continued. "Letís drop by my Dadís apartment now so we can pick it up. Devin, if you want to stay in the city for a while, which I know would make Vincent very happy; you are more than welcome to stay at my Dadís apartment. I just couldnít part with it after Dad died. Itís vacant and fully furnished. It seems like such an extravagance to have it just sit empty. It would please me very much for you to stay there."

Vincent was going to meet Catherine below at 7:00 at the brownstone tunnel entrance. The party was to start at 8:00 but Vincent had requested that she come down early as he had a surprise for her. She was intrigued and let her thoughts wander about his surprise as she got ready.

Catherine took a quick shower to wash off the New York, City grime from her day out in the city before putting on her new blue dress and shoes. She brushed her hair until it was gleaming and then sprayed on Vincentís favorite perfume. At last she put on her crystal necklace and some sapphire and diamond earrings that had been a present from her father long ago. She smiled sadly as she thought about how she wished he could be there tonight. She grabbed a warm shawl and Vincentís pen and headed below.

Vincent met Catherine at the brownstone tunnel entrance. He was dressed in a beautiful soft cream shirt that was slightly open at the neck with a black vest and black slacks. He had on a pair of high black boots that were like the tan ones that she liked so much. He looked very handsome.

Since they had become lovers, Vincentís confidence had gained a much needed boost. He had started wearing fewer layers and was much more comfortable with his appearance.

"Vincent, you are rakishly handsome this evening. I wonít be able to take my eyes off you."

He smiled and touched her face. "Catherine, nobody will give me a second look while youíre on my arm. That is a stunning dress and makes you look like a queen. It reminds me very much of the dress in Kristopherís painting."

Vincent gathered her in his arms and gave her a kiss filled with the promise of more to come.

"Yes, I thought so as well. Other than the color, it is made in the same style and fabric. I knew you would recognize the similarity. Iím glad that you like it." They continued back toward Vincentís chamber hand in hand.

When they got to Vincentís chamber they had to stop because there was a door Ė a real door with a lock. Catherine squealed in delight. "Oh Vincent, this is wonderful. Thank you so much for doing this for us."

Vincent opened the door and led Catherine inside. "I knew that you didnít feel comfortable being intimate in my chamber without a door, so it was very important to me as well. Catherine, I know that we had planned to spend our wedding night in the brownstone, but if you agree, I would like to spend it here in my chamber. I have dreamed of making love to you in this bed for four years and to spend our wedding night doing so would be a fantasy-come-true."

Catherine hugged him tightly. "Of course Vincent, I would love nothing better than to make love to my husband in this bed. This will make our wedding night even more special."

"Come Catherine; please have a seat in this chair. I have something I wish to ask you."

Catherine held her breath in anticipation.

"Catherine, I failed to ask you properly to marry me and I would like to rectify that error right now." Vincent knelt on one knee and pulled out a small velvet box. "My dearest Catherine, would you do me the great honor of becoming my wife?" Vincent opened the box and placed the ring on her finger.

Catherine had tears streaming down her face as she replied. "Oh Vincent, yes, yes a million times yes. You are my love and my life." She finally looked down at her hand and gasped. "Vincent, this is the most beautiful ring I have ever seen in my life. Itís a yellow diamond, isnít it?"

He nodded. "Yes, Devin mined the diamond in Australia and I selected a setting from a helper thatís a jeweler. I knew it would look beautiful on your hand and I wanted to give you something that you would be proud to wear above."

She looked at the ring again. "Oh Vincent, I would be proud to wear any ring you might give me, but this is truly magnificent. Now nobody will be looking at you or me this evening, but at this beautiful ring." She reached for Vincent and pulled him up into a hug. She kissed him passionately.

"I have something for you as well. Not as grand as this ring, but something I think you will enjoy." Catherine reached into her evening bag to get the elegantly wrapped Montblanc pen and handed it to Vincent.

He took great care opening the gift and held it in his hand lovingly, testing the feel of the beautiful pen. "Catherine, this is a magnificent writing instrument. I will cherish it always. Thank you so much." He gathered her to him and kissed her.

Catherine sighed. "I wish we had time to test out that door right now, but I suppose we should head to the Great Hall. Everyone will be waiting for you to lift that heavy beam off the door." She chuckled. "Youíre such a stud, Vincent, and youíre all mine."

Vincent blushed at that but inwardly was very proud that Catherine admired the fact that he was so strong.

Father started the proceedings in the usual manner. It was a lovely tradition and one that Catherine had attended three times now. She always got chills as the candles were all lit and the darkness gave way to the flickering light. Once the opening ceremony was complete, Father gave an additional speech.

"Tonight we not only celebrate Winterfest but also the engagement of two very special people. Vincentís survival as an infant all those years ago gave hope to our community at a very dark time; now, 36 years later we are privileged to share in the joy that Vincent has found in joining with his lovely Catherine. Their love and Bond is truly something of which dreams are made. Catherine, Vincent, congratulations on your upcoming nuptials. I wish you a long and happy life together."

The room burst into applause as Father finished. Vincent reached over to touch his fatherís hand. "Thank you Father, we love you very much."

After Devin had assured a very agitated Father that he would be developing the film himself, Father relaxed and allowed Devin to take photographs during the party. After the food was eaten and the tables pushed back against the walls, it was time for dancing.

Devin stood and asked for everyoneís attention. "Since many of you wonít be attending the wedding tomorrow, I think it would be appropriate for the happy couple to have their wedding dance here in the presence of all of their friends and family."

There were cheers all around. Vincent took Catherineís hand and led her out to the floor. The musicians began playing as Vincent gathered Catherine into his arms. They gracefully waltzed around the room as everyone watched their favorite couple with rapt attention.

As the waltz neared its end, Vincent pulled Catherine into a tight embrace. Everyone in the room got very quiet as they anticipated seeing Vincent kiss Catherine in public for the first time. Vincent placed one hand behind Catherineís head as he leaned down. She reached up to wrap her hands around his neck, tangling her fingers in his golden hair as she tilted her face upward to meet his lips. It seemed that time stood still as their lips finally met in the most romantic kiss that many people in that room had ever witnessed.

When the couple broke apart, there was another loud burst of applause and cheers. A very elated but embarrassed Catherine and Vincent, graciously accepted their outpouring of love.

Finally, it was time for Winterfest to end. Catherine and Vincent walked back to his chamber. They had agreed to spend this night apart as a prelude for their special night together tomorrow. Vincent closed the door and pulled Catherine close and pressed his hard body against her soft one.

"Oh Catherine, I am regretting our decision to spend this night apart. I donít know whether I will get any sleep tonight due to my desire to be near you, to make love to you."

Catherine looked up into her betrothedís eyes. "I know Vincent. I feel that way as well. Come above with me tonight for a while and then later you can come back below. I will be unable to sleep as well unless we make love."

With great anticipation, they made their way to their home above.

When Catherine and Vincent reached the bedroom, their clothing was dispatched in a flurry of activity amongst touches and kisses. Soon they were clutched in a passionate embrace as if it had been months since their last coupling, when in fact, it had only been since the previous evening. They were insatiable in their need for each other this night. The anticipation of their joining ceremony tomorrow fueled their passion to a level unknown to them previously.

Afterward, Vincent held Catherine in his arms reluctant to get up to leave.

"Vincent, please donít leave me tonight. I couldnít bear it. You can get up early in the morning to go below. I need you with me."

With a sigh of delight, Vincent pulled up the comforter and they drifted off to sleep.

Vincent rose early and went below to meet with Father, Devin and Pascal. Father was going to perform the ceremony and Pascal was going to stand up with Vincent along with Devin. They were going to get ready below and then arrive at the brownstone at 2:00.

Vincent needed to be below while the caterers and florists made their deliveries. Vincent and Devin had moved the furniture out of the den day before yesterday to the basement. He and Catherine decided that the den would be the perfect place for the ceremony as it was the largest room and the dining room was opposite it to give it a more open feeling of space. When the den was finally set up with the rented chairs and adorned with fragrant flowers and candles waiting to be lit, the room looked beautiful.

On the dining room table, the caterer had set up a small white wedding cake with red and white roses trailing down the side. They had also brought various tea sandwiches and gourmet cheeses, fruits and vegetables to munch on after the ceremony, which were currently stored in the refrigerator. Since it was the holiday season, the house had been decorated a couple of weekends ago with lots of greenery, a beautiful Christmas tree and tons of twinkling lights. Everything looked magical.

Peter arrived around 10:00 that morning to help Catherine with the deliveries and to help calm her nerves. Peter would be giving Catherine away in her fatherís place. Jenny and Nancy arrived shortly thereafter and fussed over Catherine and admired her beautiful engagement ring in true bridesmaid fashion.

When Jenny and Nancy were dressed in their deep blue dresses, they looked beautiful. They helped Catherine put up her hair and place the tiny white and red rose buds in the loose curls. Her hair had grown down past her shoulders so was much easier to put up into this style than it would have been when it was shorter. It had turned out exactly as Catherine had envisioned it. They helped her on with the dress, being careful not to touch her hair or makeup.

She put on her satin heels and stood back to take in the total effect in the full length mirror. She did indeed look like a bride and tears quickly threatened to leak and ruin her makeup. Nancy and Jenny quickly averted disaster by wiping away the tears with tissues and telling her funny stories to keep her mind off the wedding.

"Iím never going to make it through the ceremony without lots of tears but I would like for Vincent to have a chance to see me before I ruin all your hard work." Catherine hugged Jenny and Nancy.

Catherineís bouquet was a nosegay of red and white roses. Jenny and Nancy were going to carry one white and one red rose tied together with a cream ribbon. The flowers were simple and elegant. The men would be wearing a boutonniere of red and white rose buds.

Mary was in charge of getting the corsages and boutonnieres to everyone including herself. She also said that she and William would make sure the food got out on the table after the ceremony. Catherine had bought Mary a beautiful dress for the wedding in a soft pink color. Mary had made a big fuss, but was very proud of the dress and looked beautiful.

Jamie was in charge of greeting all of the guests and making sure that they were all seated by the time the ceremony was to begin. She had a new dress, compliments of Catherine as well.

Vincent, Devin, Pascal and Father arrived at 2:00 and went into the library and closed the doors behind them for privacy. Peter was already sitting in there when the men joined him. Catherine had made sure that Father, Devin and Pascal all had new suits for the wedding. She left Vincentís attire up to him. He was wearing a ruffled white shirt with a silver brocade vest and black slacks. He was wearing his tall black boots again. He looked very handsome and also very nervous. Devin kept teasing him which wasnít helping matters.

The string quarter from below was going to perform and were beginning to tune their instruments. Once Jamie determined that all of the guests had arrived, she gave the signal for the musicians to begin. Vincent and Catherine had selected certain pieces to be performed; "Claire de Lune" by Debussy for the Prelude, "Air on G String" by Bach for the Processional, for Catherineís entrance she had decided on "Fantasia in G, Gravement" by Bach and then for the Recessional, "Ode to Joy" by Beethoven. They had left the selection of music for the reception up to the discretion of the musicians and also had some taped music to be played for dancing.

Peter left to go upstairs as Jamie gave the signal for the music to begin. Father, Devin, Vincent and Pascal came out of the library and up the aisle to stand at the opening of the den and turned toward the staircase.

Once the processional began, Nancy started walking down the stairs. She looked very beautiful and was beaming with happiness. When she reached the bottom of the stairs, Pascal came up and she took his arm. When they came back to the den entrance, they separated and went to stand in their respective places.

Jenny was next to walk down the stairs. She smiled at Vincent and gave him a wink. Devin walked up and escorted Jenny to her appropriate spot.

Once the piece was completed, Vincent walked over to the bottom of the staircase to wait for Catherine. The guests rose from their seats in honor of the bride at Fatherís instruction. The quarter began "Fantasia in G, Gravement".

Catherine and Peter appeared at the top of the stairs. Vincent looked up at his bride with love and pride bursting in his heart. There were no other people in the room as the two lovers gazed into each otherís eyes. Peter carefully guided Catherine down the stairs and into the waiting hands of her beloved.

Vincent walked Catherine back to the den and Peter took his seat. When everyone saw Catherine, there were whispers of how beautiful she looked. Vincent and Catherine stood facing the guests with Father before them. Devin and Pascal stood proudly beside Vincent on the right and Jenny and Nancy stood beside Catherine on the left. Father began.

"We are gathered here today in the presence of God and assembled guests to witness the joining of this man and this woman in holy matrimony. I believe that Vincent and Catherine have written their own vows and wish to share them at this time.

"Catherine, thank you for never giving up on our dream. Even when I had given up on myself, your steadfast belief in me finally allowed me to accept myself and the love that you had so freely offered me for so long. You are the light to my darkness, the beauty to my ugliness, the joy to my sorrow and the peace to my tortured soul. I will love you and cherish you until my last breath."

"Vincent, thank you for making our dream a reality. When you saved my life that dark night four years ago, you opened my eyes to the possibilities of a better life Ė a life that was richer Ė filled with purpose and meaning. You offered me something I never knew existed - eternal love. Apart we are but lonely shadows of ourselves but together we are complete. The future is bright as we begin our dream Ė our happy life. We will endure Ė together Ė always Ė until the end of time. I promise you my love, fidelity, devotion and care now and forever"

Father smiled at them. "Vincent, I believe you have a ring to present to Catherine?"

Devin handed Vincent the ring.

"Catherine, I present this ring to you as a symbol of my eternal love and fidelity." Vincent placed the gold band on Catherineís finger to join the engagement ring he had given her yesterday.

"Vincent and Catherine have selected a reading by William Shakespeare." Father began reading.

"Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds.

Or bends with the remover to remove.

Oh no, it is an ever-fixed mark,

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering baroque

Whose worthís unknown, although his height be taken

Loveís not timeís fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickleís compass come

Love alters not with brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me províd,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved."

"Catherine, Vincent, insomuch as you two have come before your family and friends and have declared your love and devotion to each other, I honor your request to join you as husband and wife. Vincent, you may now kiss the bride."

Everyone waited as Vincent leaned to kiss Catherine in public for the second time in two days. It was a short but passionate kiss and when it was over he and Catherine continued to stare deeply into one anotherís eyes - lost to everything but each other.

Father finally spoke.

"May I present the happy couple, Mr. and Mrs. Vincent Wells."

The guests rose to their feet as the recessional began. The wedding party went into the dining room to form a receiving line. The tunnel folk used this opportunity to personally congratulate Vincent and Catherine and to meet Nancy and Jenny. Cullen and Kanin folded up the white chairs and placed them in the library to make room for guests to dance. There wasnít room for waltzes, but enough for more modern slow dances. Once the guests had made it through the receiving line, William and Mary brought out the food. The guests helped themselves to the offering of food and drink. Catherine had ordered champagne and fine wine as well as punch.

Father took the opportunity to greet Nancy and Jenny. "Ladies, it is very good to meet you. I understand that you have known Catherine since college." He shook hands with each of them. My name is Jacob Wells. I am Devin and Vincentís father."

Nancy spoke. "I am very happy to meet you. I havenít had a chance to talk with Devin, but Vincent is a wonderful man and has made our friend very happy."

Jenny nodded her agreement. "I have seen Cathy in many unhappy relationships in the past. She had never found true love until Vincent. She is completely devoted to him. Youíll never have to worry about her hurting him."

Father turned to Jenny. "I believe that is true, Jenny. I had my doubts when I first met her. I was married to a rich socialite when I was young and she left me when things went bad. I was afraid Catherine was cut from the same cloth but she has proved me wrong. She has remained faithful to Vincent through some very bad times."

At that moment, Devin made an announcement. "May I have your attention? Vincent and Catherine are going to cut their wedding cake."

Vincent and Catherine placed their hands on the knife and cut a slice and placed it on a plate. Catherine picked up a piece of the cake with a fork and placed it carefully in Vincentís mouth. He had a bit of frosting on his upper lip and she leaned up to lick it off.

He was stirred by her intimacy and had to remind himself, one again, that everyone was watching and that he must behave himself. He reached down with the fork and got a piece to serve to Catherine.

They then shared some champagne. Mary and William came up and cut the rest of the cake and served it to the guests.

Soon the quartet played a slow romantic tune for Catherine and Vincent to dance to. Vincent held Catherine closely and moved to the music. He was enchanted by his new bride and was anxious for this day to end so he could be alone with her. He knew that everyone was enjoying sharing their joy, so he endured for their sakes. He leaned down to whisper in her ear. "Iím counting the moments until we can be alone in my chamber. You look so beautiful in that dress but Iím anxious to see you without it. I want to make love to my wife."

Catherine moaned softly as she nestled closer to his chest. "I know. I feel the same way." Soon the dance was over and everyone clapped as Vincent and Catherine left the dance floor.

Nancy and Jenny came over and said that they were going to head back up to Nancyís soon. It was only about 30 miles outside the city and it shouldnít take them very long at this time of the evening. Jenny was going to stay with Nancy until tomorrow and then take the short plane ride back to Boston. They hugged each other and made promises to see each other again soon.

Peter was going to stay at the brownstone tonight. He offered to be there so the caterers could pick up the chairs and their supplies tomorrow morning. He was going below this evening to play chess with Father and for a visit but would go back up later. Catherine had told him that she and Vincent were going to stay below tonight.

"Catherine, I canít tell you how happy I am that things finally worked out for you and Vincent. I was beginning to think that you were never going to get through to that boy. But youíre a fighter. If you two ever do have the children that you wish for, they will be very stubborn." He chuckled as he hugged Catherine and kissed her on the cheek.

"Peter, that reminds me of something important. Dr. Warner has a specimen of Vincentís sperm at his lab for possible insemination. Obviously, Iím not going to have the procedure now. Do you think you could call him and ask him to destroy the sample? I would just feel better knowing that itís gone. It just seems too risky to leave it sitting in that lab where anybody could gain access to it."

Peter nodded. "Of course Catherine, Iíll give him a call first thing in the morning and explain the circumstances to him. I hope that you and Vincent are able to conceive a child. Youíll make wonderful parents." Catherine hugged him and turned to find her husband.

Devin had been taking photos throughout the afternoon and had a few rolls in his pocket waiting to be developed. He had enjoyed getting back into photography and was enjoying staying at her fatherís apartment. It was by far the nicest place he had ever lived.

He had to stick around for a while because Chandler had made him promise to stay until the coupleís honeymoon was over. Speaking of the honeymoon, he and Catherine were planning to meet with Vincent tomorrow afternoon for a discussion. Catherine had some big plans for their honeymoon. It would be interesting to see how it played out.

Soon the guests had all gone except for Rebecca, Jamie, Mouse, William, Devin, Mary and Father. They picked up the trash and threw a few dishes into the dishwasher once Catherine explained what it was, that is. The rest of the things would be picked up by the caterer tomorrow. Catherine gave the leftover flowers to Rebecca and Jamie to take below. Everyone below would enjoy the fresh flowers. They were a rarity in the tunnels. William gathered up the leftover food, cake, champagne and wine to take below as well. Mouse and Devin had to make several trips to get everything to the tunnel entrance. Mouse tapped a message on the pipes for help carrying it. William was going to set it out for the rest of the community to enjoy. Catherine had ordered plenty for just that reason. Vincent kept one bottle of champagne for him and Catherine to enjoy later Ė in his chamber.

Chapter 9

Vincent and Catherine were finally alone. Vincent took Catherine into his arms and kissed her with all the pent up passion he had suppressed around their guests. "Catherine, there is no limit to the love and desire that I feel for you. It is as though I can finally understand what all of the writers have tried to express for centuries of love, passion, joy and fulfillment. To have a wife, a lover and companion for life, is something that I never thought possible for one such as I. You have truly given me my sense of humanity. I know that I am a man."

Catherine kissed Vincent lightly on the lips. "Vincent, my husband, my lover, my companion for life Ė you are my very soul Ė I love you beyond reason." With one last kiss, Vincent and Catherine made their way below.

When they arrived at Vincentís chamber, He unlocked the door and lifted Catherine into his arms to carry her over the threshold.

She could smell the scent of roses and there were candles lit around the room. It looked very romantic. Catherine rained kisses on Vincentís neck and his ear. She loved to nuzzle his ears. His thick mane of hair covered them completely so they were a secret pleasure for her to enjoy and she took full advantage.

Vincent slowly slid Catherine down his body to allow her to stand in front of him. "Catherine, I have waited for this night since the day I found you Ė even when I dared not hope for such a night Ė I dreamed of it."

Catherine spoke very softly. "Vincent, tell me of your dream of this night. Tell me of your fantasies of me in your chamber."

Vincent was silent for a moment as he gathered his thoughts. He stepped back from Catherine a few inches and spoke very softly. "I imagined many times of waking to find your soft, warm naked body pressed against mine. A few times my need for you was so great that I would retrieve the nightgown that you wore while below, after your attack, from my dresser drawer and drink in your scent while stroking myself to completion. I knew it was wrong but I thought I would go mad with longing."

He turned and walked over to the drawer and pulled out the gown. "This was my proof that you were real Ė that I hadnít imagined you staying in my chamber those ten days Ė it was all I had left of you. It meant everything to me. When I came to your balcony those many months later I thought that if I just saw you again, perhaps the spell you had over me would be broken and my desperate longing for you would be assuaged." Vincent leaned over and breathed in the fragrance of the gown as he remembered.

"When you welcomed me to stay that evening and we began to truly have a relationship, my need for you only grew. I did my best to keep my thoughts of you pure and chaste. It was a constant struggle. I had to be very careful when I was around you. I desperately wanted to come into your apartment at times but only allowed myself when you were hurt or in danger or that time when I was very ill."

Vincent shook his head as if to clear his thoughts. "Catherine, I donít want to think about those lonely nights of desperation Ė not when I have the object of all of my fantasies Ė of my most secret dreams Ė here with me Ė willing to fulfill them all."

Vincent reached out for Catherine. He began to remove the pins and flowers from her hair. Once her hair was free, he brought a few of the strands up so that he could breathe her scent in deeply. He turned Catherine so that her back faced him and he began to slowly unzip her long beautiful dress. When it was unzipped he reached up to gently slide it off her shoulders and down her arms. Once it was free of her arms, it fell to the floor in a soft heap.

She stepped out of it and turned back to face Vincent. She was going to allow him to completely set the pace of their loving. This was her gift to him this night. She had made another trip to buy lingerie several days before the wedding. Vincent had seen all of her others. She had thought about buying a romantic gown to wear on this night but opted to go another route. When the dress fell, it revealed a cream colored short satin slip.

He reached down to the hem and raised it rapidly over her head. He moaned when he saw what was beneath. Catherine had on the sexiest thing he had ever seen. The bra was made of some sort of sheer cream fabric but what made it so erotic was the fact that her nipples were completely exposed. There was a very thin band of lace around the circular opening around them. He looked down at the matching panties. His suspicion was confirmed when he reached down to feel the crotch of the panties and felt only her warm moist flesh rather than fabric. He was so aroused that he could barely breathe. "My God Catherine, you set my blood on fire." He left on her bra, panties, stockings and high heels.

Catherine felt incredibly wanton and filled with the power of her feminine allure as she watched Vincent quickly shed his clothing. Catherine could see that he was so aroused that a little semen was already leaking from the tip. She knew that he would take her soon. She wanted him badly Ė her vagina felt heavy as she ached with her need. She could feel the sensation of her tissues slicken become slick with the lubrication of her desire.

Vincent lifted her by placing his hands below her buttocks. When he got her near his waist, he brought Catherineís sheath down onto his hardened shaft while she wrapped her legs around him. He locked his gaze with hers as he began to thrust into her.

There had been no foreplay Ė neither one had needed it. They had both been desperate in their need for each other. Soon they were crying out with their release. With Catherine still wrapped around Vincent and his penis deeply embedded within her, he moved over to the bed and lowered them onto the mattress.

Sometime during their coupling, Catherine had lost her shoes. No matter, she certainly wasnít doing any walking.

Vincent was still inside Catherine. She could feel his penis begin to harden again.

He leaned down to kiss Catherine deeply. He thrust his tongue into her mouth while fondling her breasts and nipples. He wasnít being rough, but he wasnít being his usual gentle tentative self.

Catherineís excitement grew as she experienced Vincent as a more confident, forceful lover. Since Catherine had climaxed once, she knew that she could easily reach orgasm again. She began to grind her clitoris against Vincentís abdomen.

Vincent could sense her need and brought his hand down to stroke her nub with the pad of his thumb as he continued to thrust his tongue into her mouth.

Between the sensation of fullness from having Vincentís erect penis inside her and the stimulation of her already aroused flesh, Catherine climaxed almost immediately. Her chest heaved as her body pulsed with its release.

Vincent looked down at Catherine. She was flushed and sweating, her nipples were hard and darkened with increased blood flow, her eyes had a glazed look and her breathing was rapid. He had never seen anything as mesmerizing. Knowing her arousal was for him and because of him was very empowering. He pulled himself out of her vagina. He lay down beside her and placed his hand on her engorged flesh. She was very swollen and still very moist. He was at full arousal. "Catherine, do you need to rest?"

Catherine shook her head. "No Vincent, I canít seem to get enough of you tonight. She reached beside him and ran her finger along his manhood. Please, fill me again."

Vincent gently rolled Catherine to her stomach. Vincent had never felt comfortable enough to enter her from behind before. Tonight he felt confident enough in his humanity to perform this act knowing that he didnít want to take Catherine in this position because he was a beast, but because he was a man desiring a woman.

Catherine raised herself up on her knees and put her head down on her folded arms to entice Vincent to enter her. "Oh yes, Vincent, please take me."

Even though her panties were tiny strips of fabric and the crotch was open, Vincent wanted to feel the flesh of her bottom completely naked against his abdomen as he entered her. He reached out his hand and sliced the panties off her with his nails.

She gave a slight gasp at his action.

As soon as he had stripped her bottom bare, he nudged her thighs apart and thrust into her.

Catherine moaned as Vincent penetrated her moist folds. He filled her completely with his steely shaft.

Vincent stared down as he impaled her with his erection. He slowed his movements as he moved his hands over her smooth buttocks and up over her back and shoulders. He bent over her slightly and took her breasts into his hands. He felt the bra and made quick work of it as he sliced it off as well.

Needing even deeper penetration, Catherine rose up on her hands and pushed back against Vincent as he thrust into her. She was pure raw sensation as she trembled with need.

He pumped into her over and over. "I want this to never end." Vincent wanted to last but the need rocketing through him was too intense. His control slipped entirely when Catherine rose up on her hands and knees and pushed back against him. He released her breasts, wrapped his arms around her waist and drove into her like a man possessed.

Catherine didnít need any further stimulation. In this position, Vincent was stimulating Catherine to orgasm with his penis alone. With a shudder, she began to climax.

When Vincent felt her starting her orgasm, he began to pump faster and harder and soon roared as he climaxed.

Catherine was chanting Vincentís name as she felt the waves of pleasure finally recede. She collapsed down onto the bed and Vincent followed, allowing his full weight upon her.

He stayed that way for a couple of minutes before he realized that she was still beneath him. "Oh Catherine, Iím sorry. Iím so heavy."

Catherine sighed. "Oh Vincent, I donít think I have any bones left for you to crush. Theyíve all turned to jelly. Iíve never felt anything so wonderful as our loving tonight."

Vincent lifted himself off Catherine and sat beside her prone body on the bed. "Neither have I, Catherine. It seems that weíve reached new heights of sensual pleasure tonight. I could never have imagined that our experience could get any better, but it did."

Vincent lay on his back. He was breathing heavily. "Are you ready for some sleep? I feel as though Iíve dug an entire chamber by myself." He let out a contented sigh.

She rolled onto her side to face him. "Yes, Iím tired. Do you realize that since my attack four years ago, I have never slept in your bed? This is one of my fantasies.

Catherine reached down and slid the stockings from her legs. I seem to remember having on more clothing than this." She giggled as she threw the stockings on the floor. "This room has clothes strewn all over. It looks like somebody has been having sex in here."

Catherine reached down to the foot of the bed and retrieved a soft looking comforter. She brought it up with her and pulled it over them. She snuggled up against her new husband who was already breathing deeply in slumber. She smiled to herself as a feeling of pure contentment flowed through her. That was the last thought she had until morning.

Catherine woke very early in the morning. She had no idea what time it might be. She only knew that she needed to get up and use the restroom. She eased out from under Vincentís arm and got out of the warm bed. The cold air in the chamber hit her like an arctic blast. She grabbed Vincentís cloak that had been slung over the back of his chair and wrapped it around her body to ward off the cold. It smelled of Vincent and made her feel happy. She stepped lightly to the door, unlocked and opened it. She made her way down the hall to relieve her bladder.

Vincent turned over and felt the warm spot where Catherine had been. He relaxed - she was just down the hall in the bathroom. He rose up with a start. He had sensed where she was! He stilled himself and concentrated on Catherine. Yes, he could definitely locate her. He began to cry as he realized he could sense her beating heart. Oh how he had prayed for the return of this feeling. After two long years, it had finally returned to him. He lay back down on the bed and continued to examine each nuance of Catherineís emotions. She was content, happy and now feeling nervous for some reason.

When Catherine reached Vincentís chamber Ė correction Ė their chamber, she turned the knob and slowly opened the door. She closed it again and locked it. She took off Vincentís cloak and put it back on his chair. She carefully slid back into the bed and snuggled up against Vincent to try to get warm.

"Catherine, why were you so nervous?

Catherine snuggled closer since she knew Vincent was awake. "I was afraid that someone would catch me in the hallway with only your cloak covering my naked body. I was trying to hold it together, but it was too long and it was gaping all over" . . . "hey, how did you know I was nervous?"

Vincent put his arms around her and gently kissed her lips. "I knew because I sensed it through the Bond."

Catherine rose up on one elbow and looked down at Vincent although she couldnít really see him very well in the dim candlelight. "Is it back Ė is the Bond really back Ė the way it was before?"

Vincent turned his head slightly to one side. "Not exactly as it was before Ė but close."

"Why now Vincent, why do you think it has finally returned?"

"I donít know for sure. I do know that last night when we made love, I felt complete. When I became ill and was struggling so with my humanity, it was as though my very soul was fractured. When I came out of that cave, a part of me was missing. Perhaps my soul has finally healed. I am now whole."

They made love that morning and then went back to sleep for a while. When they woke again, Vincent went to the kitchen to talk William out of some breakfast for him and Catherine so that they wouldnít have to go to the dining hall.

William loaded a tray up for Vincent complete with muffins, fruit, cheese and a pot of tea. When he got back to the chamber, Catherine had dressed in some of the clothes she had brought down a couple of weeks ago. She had moved a few of her things down to make it feel more like Ďtheirí chamber and not just ĎVincentís.í

"Yum, that looks good. Iím starving." She reached for one of the muffins and began to eat heartily.

"Yes, I can see that." He smiled. "After breakfast, what do you want to do?"

Catherine had finished her muffin and was reaching for some of the cheese. "Well, I asked Devin to come by later today. Iíve got some plans for our honeymoon that I need his help with. Peter is already up there and he wants to help as well."

Vincent probed Catherineís emotions. "Youíre very anxious and excited about something. If only I could read your thoughts Ė youíd have no secrets from me!"

Catherine laughed. "Itís probably best that you canít, you would be shocked at how depraved my thoughts get when Iím around you!"

Vincent just shook his head and laughed. He was a little nervous about Catherineís plans Ė heíd just have to wait and see what she had up her sleeve.

Vincent had arranged for other people below to take over all of his responsibilities for the next week. Catherine was off work because the university was closed during the holidays. They had looked forward to spending every moment with each other. After Vincent and Catherine had picked up the chamber and made the bed, they went in to see Father for a few minutes before heading up to their other home.

"Good morning. I honestly didnít expect to see you two this morning. But it is a very welcome surprise. Come sit down, have some tea." Father poured three cups of tea and sat back down.

"Catherine, how is my beautiful daughter in law this lovely morning? If the happy look on your face is any indication, I would say that you are very well indeed." He laughed and smiled as he watched Vincent turn beet red.

"Father, I wanted to let you know that the Bond is back Ė much as it was before my illness."

Father sat up straighter in his chair and gave Vincent his full attention. "Thatís wonderful son, I know that it is a comfort to you and a true joy. I couldnít be happier."

He turned to Catherine. "How about you - any change?"

Catherine shook her head. "Not that I can tell, itís still very weak on my side. But I think that Vincentís empathic abilities are what really allow Vincent to tune into the Bond the way he does. I just donít have that ability."

Father nodded. "Perhaps that is true." The three of them had a nice visit and soon Vincent and Catherine made their way toward the brownstone.

"Do you think the caterers have come and gone?" Vincent was apprehensive as they neared the entrance.

Catherine nodded. "They should have. They were supposed to come by early this morning. There are a lot of parties during the holiday season and they were very happy that I agreed to let them pick up their things so early. Iím sure they will be taking them directly to another event."

They reached the top of the stairs. "You know Vincent we never did open that bottle of champagne we took below last night. Where is it?"

They walked into the kitchen before Vincent spoke. "I thought it might be nice to give it to Olivia and Kanin. It was so thoughtful of them to get our chamber ready for us last evening. I wanted to do something for them in return."

Catherine kissed him on the lips. "Your generous heart is one of the many things I love about you."

She gave him a wicked smile. "Can you sense what else I love about you right now?"

"Yes, I believe that I do." Vincent took Catherine into his arms and kissed her much more passionately this time.

Just then Peter walked into the kitchen. "Oh God, Vincent, Catherine, Iím so sorry. I didnít realize that you two had returned."

Vincent and Catherine broke their embrace and assured Peter that it was perfectly okay.

"Have the caterers been here already?"

Peter nodded. "Yes, they got here before 8:00. When Devin arrives, Iím sure that he and Vincent can get the furniture back up here from the basement and you two will have your house back in order."

He turned to Catherine. "I also had a chance to call my doctor friend. Everythingís been taken care of."

Vincent looked between Peter and Catherine. "Whatís going on?"

Catherine spoke. "Vincent, I didnít want to leave your sperm sample at the lab, so Dr. Warner has agreed to destroy it."

Vincent relaxed. "That is good news indeed."

Soon Devin showed up and the men quickly got the house back in shape. They ordered Chinese for lunch and sat around the kitchen table to talk while they ate.

"Well, bro, how does it feel to be a married man?" Devin winked at Catherine and smiled.

"Itís the most wonderful feeling in the world. You should try it."

Devin shook his head. "Itís amazing really. Here you live in a tunnel all your life and manage to find a rich, intelligent, beautiful, sexy wife. Iíve been all over the world and havenít found anyone half as great as Chandler." He turned to Catherine. "You donít happen to have a sister, do you?"

Catherine giggled and shook her head. "Even if I did, I donít know whether Iíd introduce her to a handsome rogue like you. Iím sure you break hearts wherever you go."

They all laughed good-naturedly as they knew that Devin was only kidding. They finished eating and cleared up the kitchen before going into the den to relax and have their discussion.

Catherine began. "Vincent, since your illness, the security of the tunnels has been spread amongst the rest of the community so it wouldnít be such a burden to you. You arenít the sole protector anymore. Wouldnít you agree?"

Vincent gave a slight nod. "That is true. I havenít felt the pressure of the security of the tunnels on me since my illness. I must say that it has been a relief."

Catherine continued. "You know, I never really gave up on the idea of us going to Connecticut to my familyís cabin. Devin and Peter have agreed to help make it as safe as humanly possible so thereís no need to worry on that front . . ." Catherine forged on, reluctant to give Vincent a chance to object.

". . . I would very much like to spend this week Ė our honeymoon - together at the cabin. Itís very secluded. There are only two cabins on that lake. One is mine and the other is Peterís."

Nobody spoke for what seemed an eternity to Catherine.

Vincent got up to pace in his customary fashion when agitated or deep in thought. "What are the plans for me to get to the cabin?"

"The plan is much the same as before. I have rented a van. Devin picked it up and drove it over here this morning. He is going to drive us up to the cabin and make sure everything is secure before he leaves. Heíll come back at the end of the week to pick us up. The local grocer has stocked the cabin with food and I had a cord of wood delivered last week. Everything is ready for us. Iíd like to leave today if possible. Iím already packed and I have a suitcase packed for you as well."

Vincent smiled as he surveyed the faces around the room. "Whatís your involvement in this grand scheme, Peter?"

Peter cleared his throat. "My assignment is to remain here while youíre gone to keep Jacob calm. Iíll play chess with him and keep him occupied so that he wonít fret so while youíre away. Thereís a phone at the cabin and Catherine is going to call here to the brownstone each day to check in. Jacob can come up here and talk with you if he likes."

All eyes were turned to Vincent. "It seems that this has been well thought out. I canít think of any reason to object. If this is your wish for our honeymoon, Catherine, I will agree."

There were shouts of joy all around. Catherine jumped up and ran over to throw herself into Vincentís arms. "This makes me very happy. Please promise me that you wonít back out this time. I couldnít bear the disappointment again."

Vincent kissed Catherine lightly on the lips. "No Catherine, I wonít change my mind. Weíre going to Connecticut. I canít wait."

Devin and Peter went below to soften the blow to Father about the trip while Vincent and Catherine went upstairs to the bedroom to get their luggage. "Catherine, what exactly have you packed for me? I didnít notice any of my things here or below missing."

Catherine opened up the armoire for Vincent to see. "I bought you a bunch of new clothes for the trip. Devin helped me pick them out. I donít really have them packed yet because I wanted to show them to you before they went into the suitcase."

She showed him the long black leather coat as well as the dark blue hooded pea coat. He loved them both. She got out scarves and gloves, slacks, sweaters, jeans, boots, thermal underwear and more. She reached out to retrieve the boots. There was a pair of black and brown leather boots as well as a pair of snow boots.

Vincent looked at all of the clothing piled on the bed. "Catherine, everything is so expensive looking. I have never had clothing such as this before. Thank you. Itís a lot more than I would ever need for one week." He smiled at Catherine.

"Well, I got a little carried away. Letís get your suitcase out and get the things that you do need for the week packed up and loaded into the car. What do you say?"

They soon had only the things that Vincent needed for a week in the country packed up along with his toiletries. Devin and Peter came back up and assured Vincent and Catherine that they had Father as convinced as he was ever going to be that this was not a reckless foolhardy venture.

Once it was dark, Devin loaded the suitcases and Catherine in the van. They were to pick up Vincent at a nearby tunnel entrance.

Finally, Vincent and Catherine were in the back of the van with Devin driving them to the cabin. The windows were darkly tinted in the back but Vincent was able to look out at the city lights as they drove. He had never been in a car before. It was an unusual feeling but soon he was very much enjoying himself. After a while they left behind the lights of the city and were driving along roads where all you could see were trees and the moon.

Devin turned off the highway onto a road as Catherine instructed. About 15 miles up a secluded lane they finally reached their eagerly anticipated destination. Devin parked the car and they all got out and stretched their legs.

Vincent was in awe of the beauty of the scene before him. Moonlight was reflecting off the lake below and causing the snow on the trees to glisten. The cabin was not really a cabin but a magnificent log home that looked like something out of a painting.

"My God Catherine, this is breathtaking. Iím so glad that you planned this trip. I would have never guessed that any place could be this enchanting."

Catherine put her arms around Vincent. "I knew that you would love it. Itís cold out here. Letís get inside where itís warm."

Devin and Vincent grabbed the bags and they made their way inside. Catherine switched on the light so that they could see the interior. It was all natural wood and stone. The main floor was very open with a staircase leading up to a catwalk that spanned the length of the house and overlooked the great room. The fireplace was gray stone and reached all the way up to the ceiling. There were large wooden beams across the width of the room and the furnishings were dark brown leather.

Catherine took Vincent by the hand to lead him on a tour of the house. Devin followed behind. She showed him the kitchen and bathroom on the first floor and then took them out onto the porch that wrapped around the back of the house. The front of the cabin was level with the road but the back was two stories. They had a beautiful view of the forest from this elevation.

She took them back in and up the staircase to the four bedrooms. Each had its own bathroom. The largest bedroom had been her parents and the smallest one had been hers. The other two had been for guests.

As agreed, Devin would stay until morning and then look around the property before leaving.

"Wow Chandler, you certainly didnít rough it when you went to the woods." Devin leaned against the stone fireplace and looked around. "Vincent, how about you and I build a fire to ward off the chill while Chandler rustles us up some snacks and hopefully some beer?"

Catherine laughed. "Yeah, I admit it. Iíve lived a very privileged life. But I donít mind sharing. Now let me go see what the grocer left for us in the pantry."

Soon they were sitting around the crackling fire eating sandwiches and drinking beer. Vincent had never had beer before but liked it. They talked for about an hour before Devin decided to call it a night.

"Iíll leave you two alone and head up to my bedroom." He grabbed his overnight bag and walked up the stairs. "Goodnight Bro. Goodnight Sis."

Catherine was sitting on the couch leaned up against Vincent. He had his mouth touching her hair on the top of her head. He was so very happy and relaxed. He had been more apprehensive than he let on about coming up to the cabin, but he was so glad that they had come.

A short while later they headed upstairs to their bedroom. They were very tired so just held each other that night. It was enough Ė it was perfect to just enjoy the warmth of each otherís warm body as they drifted off to sleep.

The next morning was bright and sunny. Devin got out the camera Catherine had loaned him and was going to take some shots as he walked around the woods checking things out. He was gone about an hour before he walked back through the front door of the cabin.

Vincent and Catherine had coffee and pancakes ready. She was becoming a pancake expert. They all sat down to eat.

"I checked everything out. Youíre right, itís very secluded. Other than birds, a couple of deer and some curious squirrels, I didnít see another living thing out. I got some nice pictures. Iím anxious to get these and the photos from the engagement party and wedding developed."

Catherine cleared the table while Devin and Vincent went into the great room to build another fire. Once she was done in the kitchen, she joined them.

"Devin, that camera equipment is yours. I havenít used it for years and I would like for you to have it, especially if it will keep you in New York for a while."

Vincent looked at Devin hopefully.

"Yeah, I think I will stay around for a while. If youíre sure itís okay to stay in the apartment, I would like to try my hand at some photography. This equipment is really nice. I would argue that itís too much, but knowing how loaded you are, I wonít bother." He chuckled at Vincentís horrified look.

Devin held up his hands. "Relax Bro. Itís okay. Itís no secret that Chandler is seriously wealthy. I know you didnít marry her for the money." He laughed heartily at that statement.

Catherine gave him a stern look. "Devin, you are a fiend."

He laughed again as he picked up the camera case and his overnight bag. "Iíll get out of your hair now. Iíll be back in six days to pick you up. Iíd say to have fun, but I donít think thatís necessary."

Vincent and Catherine walked outside to see Devin off. They stayed outside just enjoying the magnificent view for a while before heading back inside to enjoy each other in a more intimate manner as newlyweds should.

The next six days were glorious. During the day they enjoyed the outdoors taking long walks in the woods and around the lake or sitting out on the deck and relaxing. Vincent got to see many deer and much other wildlife. In the evenings they would read by the fire, talk and make love. They called Peter each day as promised, even talking to Father on two occasions.

Too soon it was the day of Devinís arrival to pick them up. It had been heaven and they were reluctant for it to end.

"Vincent, we could come up here again soon. This area doesnít start getting visitors until April. Even then, this lake is private and the land around it isnít developed. You would be safe here at almost any time of the year. Would you like to come back some time?"

Vincent held Catherine tightly. "Yes, I would love to come back. Perhaps we could bring a few other people with us. I know that many in the tunnels have never experienced anything like this. It would be nice for the children as well."

Catherine nodded enthusiastically. "Oh yes, that would be marvelous. I love you Vincent." Devin arrived soon and they loaded everything up. They waited until evening fell before heading back to the city.

***********

Not long after Catherine and Vincent had gotten back to the city, they were sitting quietly reading the paper one Saturday morning. Vincent could sense Catherineís emotional level rise as she was reading an article.

"What is it Catherine? What has stirred you so?" He felt a chill go through him.

"They finally had the sentencing hearing for those creeps involved in that last case that I worked on while in the District Attorneyís office. Looks like they each got the maximum sentence. Iím glad Ė they deserved it. That was a horrible case."

Vincent studied Catherine. "I donít remember it. What happened?"

Catherine put down the paper and settled before beginning. "Iím not surprised that you donít remember. I worked on it in my apartment while caring for you those three days. I had brought the files home to go through the depositions and testimony to get them ready to turn over to the Feds. I read it to you because you became agitated if you didnít hear my voice or I wasnít touching you."

"Anyway, it was about this rich guy who had kidnapped his old girlfriend. She was pregnant with another manís baby at the time. He kept her captive for months. An investigator in the office, Diana, finally found her but it was too late. The woman had died from a morphine injection."

"He was about to kill the baby too. He was a real nut case. Diana ended up having to shoot and kill him because he wouldnít surrender. The father of the baby was able to get custody. The doctor and a couple of the guyís henchmen got charged with kidnapping and murder as well a bunch of other charges."

Vincent was very quiet. "What was this manís name?"

Catherine took a deep cleansing breath. "It was Gabriel. Iíll never forget because he was the devil himself but had the name of an angel."

Vincent put his head in his hands.

"Whatís wrong Vincent? Itís over, they got the bad guys. Itís sad that the woman died, but the baby lived."

He shook his head. "I must have allowed that case to get deep into my subconscious. While I was ill, I dreamed a horrifying dream where you were pregnant with my child and was kidnapped by a man named Gabriel. You were killed and I ended up having to rescue our baby." Vincent shuddered as he remembered the images. "That dream haunted me for a very long time."

Catherine rose and walked over to Vincent and sat on his lap. "Why didnít you ever tell me? I would have recognized the case immediately and you wouldnít have suffered so. Please donít withhold your dreams from me ever again. We need to share our pain as well as our joy. Promise me."

Vincent nodded. "Youíre right Catherine. I used to keep so much bottled up. Itís no wonder I had a breakdown. Iím lucky to have you."

Over the next few months, Catherine and Vincent settled into a routine. Life was good and they were very happy.

They had made one more trip to the cabin during the winter with Devinís assistance and made plans to take a group of children along with some of the other tunnel adults up in the summer.

Devin was still in the city and had established a small photography business. He was living in her Dadís apartment but he came over to Vincent and Catherineís home quite often to visit.

The photos Devin had taken of them at the engagement party and wedding turned out really well. Catherine put them into some leather albums and brought them out to look at them often. She was so happy to have them. Even Vincent enjoyed looking at the ones of Catherine and everyone else, although he still didnít like to look at the ones of himself. He probably never would.

Chapter 10

One morning six months after they were married, Catherine got up feeling very ill. Vincent was worried about her, but she started feeling better after a couple of hours. This happened every day for a week. Her breasts were also a little sore. She and Vincent suspected she might be pregnant but didnít want to get their hopes up. After a couple of weeks, she had a little spotting but it was very light and it only lasted one day. She panicked and called Peter.

"Peter, I think I might be pregnant. I had a little spotting today but it was really light and it already stopped. How early is too early to find out?"

Peter laughed a little. "Whoa, slow down. Let me catch my breath. "What was the date of the first day of your last period?"

Catherine took a breath. "It was June 2."

"Okay, conception would have occurred around June 15. Since today is June 29th, I would say that anytime this week you could have a blood test run. If you are two weeks pregnant, itís not unusual to spot lightly around this time. Let me know immediately if it starts up again or is any heavier. Jacob can run the blood test for you. Does Vincent know?"

"Yes, he suspects as well. He senses that something is different about my body, but doesnít know what for sure."

"Catherine, do you have a piece of paper? Iím going to give you a few dates to write down because I know from experience that every potentially expectant mother wants to know these things."

Catherine was prepared with pen and paper in hand before she called Peter. "Okay, Iím ready."

Peter continued. "Based on the date of conception, your due date is March 7. You should be able to hear the babyís heartbeat around August 15th. Youíll be able to feel the babyís movements around October 15th. Have you got that?"

"Yes, Iíve got it." Catherine was shaking as she wrote down the dates.

"Okay, now Iím going to give you some instructions. First, start taking a prenatal vitamin immediately. Also, no alcohol and limit your caffeine intake. Drink lots of water, get plenty of rest and continue with whatever light exercise program youíve been doing but no new exercise routines. I want you to eat a very healthy diet. No more skipping breakfast or lunch. Folic acid is important so eat oranges, melons and dark green vegetables. Also, iron is important so I want you to eat whole grains, beans, raisins and nuts. Eat plenty of protein as well. Jacob will help you with all of this, but I want you to start today. The first trimester is critical to your babyís development. The sooner you start doing these things, the healthier you and the baby will be."

Catherine hung up feeling dazed and turned to Vincent. "He thinks weíre pregnant but he wants Father to run a blood test to be sure!"

Vincent grabbed Catherine and swung her around and kissed her soundly. "Letís go see Father."

Father ran the test and she was indeed pregnant. "Congratulations Vincent and Catherine. Youíre going to be parents."

She and Vincent were overjoyed. "Oh Catherine, I know that you are only a Ďlittleí pregnant, but the conception alone is a miracle. I know that I said that I was confident that you would get pregnant, but a very small voice inside me kept saying that we were just too different. Iím so glad to be wrong."

"So am I. Father says that everything looks really good and Peter will be back in town in a month so he can perform a more thorough prenatal examination." She loved Father, but felt more comfortable with Peter.

**********

After Peter did a pelvic exam on Catherine, he placed a device on Catherineís belly. There was a loud swooshing and rapid thumping sound filling the room. "That is your babyís heartbeat. I wasnít sure whether we would be able to hear it yet, but there it is, steady and strong."

They both had tears running down their faces as they heard their precious babyís heart beating.

"You are six weeks along and everything is looking great. Any questions while you have a Ďdoctor in the houseí?"

Vincent squirmed uncomfortably but really wanted to ask Peter a question. "Catherine, would you mind if I spoke to Peter privately?"

"No, I donít mind at all." Catherine knew what this was about. "Why donít you two go on down to the kitchen while I get dressed. You could fix us some herbal tea. That sounds good to me."

When Vincent had Peter alone in the kitchen, he asked his question. "Peter, Catherine has assured me that sex is safe during pregnancy, but I want to hear it from a physician. I donít want to do anything that would endanger the baby."

Peter nodded. "This is a very common question. First, sex is what got her in this condition in the first place." He relaxed a little and chuckled. "As long as Catherine is feeling fine and there is no vaginal bleeding or cramping, it is perfectly safe. It is important to maintain your level of intimacy during pregnancy. It will help keep you Ďcloseí. As Catherineís pregnancy advances, you will have to find positions that will accommodate her growing belly. Typically that means spooning, woman on top or "doggy style." Remember the baby is protected by amniotic fluid, the uterus, the abdominal wall and pelvic bones. The only thing the baby might sense is a rocking motion and all babies like to be rocked." He laughed.

Catherine walked into the kitchen. "Hey you two, did you get everything cleared up?"

Peter smiled at Vincent and then addressed Catherine. "Yes, everything is fine. Catherine, Iíll try to get up monthly for your exam, but Jacob will track your progress if Iím not here. Heíll be monitoring your weight, blood pressure and check for any swelling of your feet and hands. Iíve written the names of some very good books on pregnancy and childbirth that youíll want to pick up for you and Vincent to read. Iíll make sure Iím here to do any sonograms that we schedule. I also plan to stay in New York the last two weeks of your pregnancy just in case you come early. You never know in first pregnancies. They can be unpredictable."

Vincent and Catherine thanked him profusely and gave him big hugs. They were relieved and very happy. They were finally going to have a baby.

******* Catherine bought the books on pregnancy and childbirth that Peter had recommended and Vincent had read them all thoroughly. Theoretical knowledge was one thing, experience was another.

"Kanin, may I ask you a few questions about Oliviaís pregnancy with Luke?" Vincent felt at a loss. He had tried to use the Bond to help understand Catherineís moods, but they shifted so much, it was like following a leaf in the wind.

"Sure, Vincent, what do you want to know . . . or let me guess . . . you want to know how a sweet loving rational woman like Catherine could turn into a completely irrational emotional shrew?" Kanin chuckled as he looked over at his forlorn friend.

"Well, I would not put it like that exactly, but Catherine has been rather difficult at times. I want so much to help her, but I feel out of my element. Do you have any advice that might be of assistance to me?" Vincent looked at Kanin as though he were a prophet.

"Vincent, just keep doing what youíve been doing. She doesnít know what she needs either. Her hormones are playing havoc with her. I remember Olivia saying that she would be hot one minute and then freezing cold the next, jubilant and full of energy and then completely lethargic and weepy. All I can tell you is that it will get better. Soon youíll have your baby here and everything youíve gone through will have been worth it. Just be patient." Kanin patted Vincent on the shoulder and walked away.

As the monthís progressed Vincent became an expert at foot, leg and back massages. He learned to just hold Catherine when she burst into tears for no apparent reason and to hold his tongue when she was feeling irritable. Kanin was right; he just had to be patient.

*********

"Catherine, everything is looking good. Iíll be here until the delivery, which should be about two weeks from now." Peter had just finished examining Catherine and was very pleased with her progress. With Vincentís unusual physiology, he wasnít exactly sure what to expect, but things were perfectly normal . . . so far.

"Oh Peter, two more weeks? I donít think I can make it. If I get any bigger, Iíll burst." Catherine groaned as Peter helped her rise from the examining table. Several months ago, she had one of the spare bedrooms set up with medical equipment. She had all of her examinations at home and was going to have the delivery there as well. She wanted Vincent to be at the birth, and the only way that was going to happen was to have the birth in her home or below.

"I wish I had a dollar for every time Iíve heard a woman say those exact words." Peter put away his stethoscope and turned back toward Catherine. "Honey, youíre doing great. Your weight is right on track and you are in great physical condition. Trust me; youíll bounce back from your pregnancy in no time."

"Okay, but I feel like I should have ĎGoodyearí emblazoned across my big belly." Catherine and Peter both laughed.

********

"Hey bro, sis, where are you?" Devin yelled out as he stood in the foyer after having unlocked the front door using his emergency key. After a couple of moments of indecision, he was about to leave when he heard a floorboard creak above.

"Vincent, is that you?" Devin called up the stairs.

Vincent walked down the stairs rubbing his eyes. "Yes, but be quiet. Catherine is trying to get some sleep. The baby has been very restless at night this past week and she isnít getting much rest. I was taking a nap with her."

"So my little niece or nephew is dealing Mommy a fit. Sounds like the baby might be taking after its Uncle Devin." Devin laughed. He was very excited about becoming an uncle - almost as excited as Father was about becoming a grandfather.

"Heaven forbid; donít even say that in jest. My heart couldnít take it!" Vincent wrapped his brother in a warm embrace. "Iím so glad you decided to set up your photography studio here in New York City and stick around for a while.

"Well, I had a big incentive. Not only is Chandler letting me live at her Dadís place for free, but she recommended me to a bunch of her rich friends. Iíve got more business than I know what to do with right now. Besides, I want to be around for the kid. You know, Vincent, youíre going to make a great Dad. Iím really jealous of all that you have; this great home, a beautiful wife and a kid on the way. Youíre a lucky man. I hope you appreciate what you have."

"Oh I do, Devin, believe me. Two years ago if you had suggested that I would be married and expecting a child, I would have thought it was a cruel joke. My life is a dream-come-true. Now, how about a beer? I have developed quite a taste for it." Vincent threw his arm over Devinís shoulders and led him into the kitchen.

********

Catherine sat in the rocking chair in the nursery and surveyed the room. The walls were a pale yellow and there were fanciful drawings of nursery rhyme characters on the walls which Vincent had painted. He was quite the artist. He had also written out several lines from nursery rhymes in his beautiful flowing hand as a border around the room. It was truly lovely. Catherine sat in the room often and held one of the many stuffed animals in her arms as she rocked.

"I knew I would find you here." Vincent walked across the room and gave Catherine a warm kiss.

"I love this room. It makes me happy to sit here and it seems to calm the Ďlittle oneí when I sit in this chair and rock. Lord knows that Ďheí doesnít like it when I lie down." Catherine absently rubbed her large tummy. "Iím so ready for the baby to be born. Iím already five days late!" Catherine grumbled.

"Peter says it will be very soon. So today you think the baby is a Ďheí?" Vincent got a kick out of the way Catherine would refer to the baby as a Ďheí one day and a Ďsheí the next. They had decided not to find out the sex of the baby.

"Yes, I definitely think itís a boy. What about you, Vincent?" Catherine suspected that Vincent could sense something through the bond but wasnít going to tell her.

"Weíll know soon enough. It doesnít matter to me. I would love to have a son but I would also love to have a daughter, especially if she looked like you." Vincent kissed Catherine again and helped her to her feet. "Why donít you try to get some sleep? You look worn out."

Early the next morning Catherine woke up having some mild back discomfort and a couple of contractions. "Vincent, I think I might be going into labor. Iím definitely having some contractions. I just hope theyíre the real thing this time." Catherine had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for about a week.

"Should I go get Peter?" Vincent was already getting out of bed and looking for his robe.

"No, letís wait a while. If they become harder or more regular, weíll wake him."

After about an hour, Vincent would no longer wait. He knocked on Peterís door. When Peter opened it to find Vincent pacing, he knew the time had come. "Letís go examine that wife of yours."

"Youíre in early labor. I want you to take a warm shower, eat something light like toast and jelly and rest at much as possible. You and Vincent both need to conserve your energy for the harder contractions that will come later."

"You go take your shower while I fix your toast. Iíll leave it on a tray for you. I want to go below and get Father and Mary." Vincent was pacing with nervous energy.

"Okay sweetheart. Come back soon." Catherine kissed Vincent and walked into the bathroom for her shower.

By the time Vincent returned with Father and Mary, Catherineís contractions were less than five minutes apart.

"Good, youíre here. I want you keep Catherine walking. The movement will help her labor progress." After Peter had instructed Vincent, he turned to Father and Mary to discuss Catherineís progress.

Vincent and Catherine walked around the hallways on the second floor for a long while.

Catherine grabbed Vincentís arm in a grip like a vice as a particularly hard contraction hit. "Vincent, I donít think I can walk around any longer. I need to sit down."

Peter examined Catherine again. "Youíre at seven centimeters. Youíre doing great."

"Vincent, you need to apply steady pressure to Catherineís lower back. Sheís in transition." Mary instructed Vincent as she tried to make Catherine as comfortable as possible.

Vincent was miserable as he watched Catherine tremble and cry as she braved yet another strong contraction. "Is everything okay? It seems like it is taking a very long time."

"Itís only been seven hours. The average labor for a first baby is 12 hours. She is doing very well. Iím very happy with her progress." Peter tried to reassure Vincent. He knew that Vincent was sensing Catherineís discomfort through the bond. He certainly didnít envy Vincent that.

Finally after 9 hours of labor, Catherine was at ten centimeters.

"Vincent, get Catherine into position to push." Vincent propped Catherine up against his chest and placed his arms around her so that he could help pull back on her thighs as Mary had instructed him.

"Okay Cathy just let your body tell you when itís time to push. Set your own rhythm. It knows better than we do whatís going on." Peter was positioned at the foot of the bed with Mary and Father standing close by.

Catherine pushed for what seemed like forever, but had actually been about twenty minutes. As the next contraction hit, Catherine pushed with all her might.

Peter saw that the baby was crowning. "Thatís fine. Youíre doing great. Now, with the next contraction, I donít want you to push. Youíre going to feel a stinging sensation."

When the next contraction hit, Catherine cried as she struggled to not push.

"I love you Catherine. Youíre so brave. I know that youíre hurting. It will be over soon." Vincentís voice was thick with emotion as he soothed her with his words.

Catherine calmed as she listened to his voice and felt the love flow from Vincent through the bond.

"Okay now with the next contraction, push just as hard as you possibly can. Just a few more pushes and your baby will be here." Peter got into position for the imminent birth.

Catherine gave three more tremendous pushes and the head was out and the shoulders and rest of the body quickly followed.

"Youíve got a beautiful baby boy. Heís perfect." Peter held up the baby as far as the cord would allow for Vincent and Catherine to see.

He was indeed beautiful. Vincent was so relieved that he began to cry in earnest now. "Oh Catherine, look at our son. He is perfect."

"Okay, letís get this little guy checked out and you can try to nurse him. He wonít take much but he will love the comfort of your warm body and smell. Vincent, if you can move out from behind Cathy and prop some pillows behind her, you can cut the umbilical cord."

Vincent rose from his position and moved over to where Peter, Father and Mary surrounded his newborn baby. He cut the cord and stood looking down at his son with awe. He had reddish gold hair that was wet from the birth and was waving his little fists in the air. He was wiggling and starting to cry. He could feel a tiny bond with this little boy. It wasnít like the bond he shared with Catherine, but it was there. He could sense that the baby was cold and the light was bothering him. He could feel his little heart racing. He had a very strong urge to protect this child.

"Itís okay son. Youíre safe." The baby calmed as Vincent spoke to him. "I love you."

Soon Mary got him cleaned up and wrapped in a little blanket. She handed Vincent his baby.

"Letís go see your Mommy." Vincent carried his son over to where a very impatient Catherine sat waiting to hold her baby.

As he handed her the baby, she unwrapped him so that she could feel his body against her skin. Vincent helped her untie the gown and lower it to reveal her breast to the baby. The next time the baby opened his mouth to cry, Catherine quickly pressed her nipple into his mouth as far as she could. He latched on lightly at first but soon began a sucking motion. "Vincent, heís nursing. I am nursing our son." Tears fell from Catherineís eyes as she nursed Vincentís child for the firs time.

Vincent sat next to Catherine on the bed and laid his hand on the babyís head as he sucked. When he stopped sucking, Vincent helped her switch the baby to the other breast to try again.

Once he latched on, he opened his eyes and looked up at Catherine. She stared into the deep blue eyes of her son and then into the equally blue eyes of her husband. No joy on earth could match hers at that moment.

Father came up behind Vincent and placed his hand on the large manís shoulder. "Vincent, you have a beautiful family. Catherine - thank you for believing in this wonderful possibility. If it werenít for you, I wouldnít have this beautiful grandson. If possible, I would like to hold him when heís done with his first meal."

Catherine smiled as she wrapped their son back up and handed him to Vincent.

Vincent took the baby and held him tightly to his chest for a few moments. "Here, Father, or rather, Grandfather." Vincent beamed as he gently placed his firstborn into Fatherís waiting arms.

************

Vincent and Catherine decided to name the baby Jacob Charles after both of their fathers. Father had nearly burst with pride at the naming ceremony as the entire community cheered with their approval.

"Vincent, Catherine, you have done me a great honor by naming your child after me. He is truly a beautiful child and if I might be so bold as to say so, he is also quite intelligent." Father was examining his namesake as he extolled his virtues.

"And how might you gauge a two week old babyís intelligence, Father?" Vincent asked amused by Fatherís biased assessment of his grandchild.

"One must only gaze into his eyes to see the intelligence. You had the same look when you were a babe. I knew that you would be a great scholar, and so you were." Father spoke with authority.

Just then Jacob let out with a wail.

Catherine rushed to take the baby. "Whether he is destined for greatness or not, it would seem that he is hungry." Catherine sat in the rocker and began to nurse.

"I just want to let you both know how sorry I am that I ever doubted your future. I almost ruined what has turned out to be a wonderful life for both of you. Thank God that you two had more faith in your love than this old fool." Father shook his head as he thought back on all the times when he damned this relationship.

"Youíre forgiven, Father. You werenít the only one who had doubts. My insecurities were the biggest obstacle of all. If it werenít for Catherineís longsuffering, none of this would have come to fruition." Vincent walked over and caressed Catherineís cheek as his child suckled.

"Thank God for that."

"Iíve decided to take the next semester off from the university. Iím enjoying motherhood too much to even consider leaving Jacob during the day." Catherine had never felt as complete as she did now with her baby in her arms.

"Motherhood suits you. I donít believe that I have ever seen you as relaxed and happy as you have been these past few months. If youíre ready, we can head below for dinner."

"Iím so glad that I donít have to cook every evening. You should be glad too. If it werenít for carryout and delivery, I would have starved a long time ago. Cooking has never been one of my strong suits, as you well know."

"You have so many others . . . it is easy to forgive you this one flaw." Vincent dodged as Catherine swung at him with mock indignation.

"Lucky for me that Father insisted that I eat balanced, nutritious meals while pregnant and nursing. You know Vincent, Father put up such a fuss in the beginning, but he seems quite happy now to enjoy the bounty of my gift."

"He does enjoy all of Ďextrasí that are now included in our meals . . . the fresh fruits and vegetables, the excellent cuts of meat as well as the many exquisite desserts Williams is able to prepare now. All thanks to you." Vincent had stood firm against Fatherís objections when Catherine first proposed that she be allowed to Ďdonateí a substantial allowance to a helper to subsidize their food budget. He knew that Catherine would never agree to eat below each day if she wasnít allowed to contribute. Everything had certainly worked out well for all involved. William was ecstatic with all of the fabulous ingredients and the tunnel community was eating better than they ever had before. And Vincent didnít have to eat Catherineís cooking!

"I love spending time below with the other mothers each day. I thought I would be bored, but watching the children grow and develop is so rewarding. I asked Mary if I could start helping in the nursery. I might go back to teaching in the spring, but for now, Iím enjoying spending the days below and the nights above." Catherine looked over and saw the approval on Vincentís face. She knew that he loved her coming below each day so that she and Jacob were close by. He often stopped in for a Ďvisití throughout the day between his classes and repair work.

******

When Jacob was six weeks old, Peter performed Catherineís post birth examination.

"Youíve completely healed from the birth. It is now safe to resume your job above as well as any other physical activities, including sexual intercourse." Do you have any questions for me?"

"My breasts are still so heavy. Sometimes I donít feel as though Jacob is eating as much as I am producing." Catherine looked down at her swollen breasts.

"Babies eat more during growth spurts and then will slack off. I can assure you that he is growing and his weight is right on track so he is getting plenty to eat. I know it can be frustrating for new mothers. You have a couple of options. You can express the milk manually or use a breast pump. Mary can assist you with that better than I. You might also have Vincent help you with this problem. Iíll leave it up to you." Peter smiled as he saw Catherineís face brighten at his suggestion.

That night, Catherine put Jacob into his crib in the nursery rather than in the bassinette beside their bed.

"Vincent, my breasts are still pretty full. I donít want to have to express the milk. Do you think you could help empty them?" Catherine removed her gown and nursing bra and climbed onto the bed.

"Are you sure? I donít want to deprive our baby of his nutrition." Vincent was hardening as he visualized himself suckling Catherineís breasts. He had not touched her breasts in any sexual way since the baby had been born.

"I talked to Peter and Mary and they both said that this was the best way to get rid of the extra milk that Iím producing right now. I need you. Please."

Vincent quickly climbed onto the bed. He bent down and licked the nipple and aureole of her right breast. The nipple puckered and hardened at his touch. "It tastes sweet." He took the nipple into his mouth and began to suck greedily as the sweet nectar flowed into his mouth. When that breast was empty, he quickly moved to the other.

Catherine ran her fingers through Vincentís hair as he feasted at her breasts. Catherine had not felt much in the way of sexual desire up to this point. She had brought Vincent to orgasm several times by her hand in the past few weeks, knowing that he needed the release for his frequent erections. Now, watching and feeling Vincent at her breasts, her arousal was immense.

"Vincent, I want to make love. Peter said itís safe. I want you . . . now." Catherine reached down and tugged on Vincentís shoulders. She guided him up so that she could kiss his lips. She could taste her milk on his lips and tongue.

Vincent quickly removed his robe and pressed his warm body against Catherineís. "Your body feels so good. I have ached to be inside you."

Catherine kissed her husband deeply. "And I ache to be filled. I crave you."

"Oh Catherine, itís been so long. I love you so." He began to run his hands along her soft flesh. He was frantic to touch every inch of her as he kissed her lips, her face and her neck.

Catherine moaned as he touched her skin. She loved the feel of his hands.

He replaced his hands with his mouth. He was searing a hot path down her body. He moved between her thighs and nuzzled her and kissed her swollen folds. When he touched her with his tongue, she began to writhe her need was so great.

"Please Vincent this is torture. I canít wait. Enter me now."

Vincent knew that even though Catherine was Ďreadyí, this first time might be painful. He reached for the tube of lubricant that Peter had given him that morning and applied it to his throbbing penis.

"I know you need this Catherine, as do I, but I want to be gentle this first time." He turned Catherine on her side and entered her gently. He clenched his teeth as he restrained from pushing more forcefully. He wanted to take her with care this night to ensure that she received pleasure without any pain. Once he was completely seated within her, he began a gentle rhythm as he rubbed her back and kissed her deeply.

Catherine moaned with satisfaction as they established a slow sensual rhythm. She caressed Vincent intimately as he filled her vagina. She was a little sore at first, but once he began to move, the tenderness subsided and was replaced by a sweet ache of pure pleasure.

He was amazed that he was able to sustain this slow gentle loving. He had been consumed by his need for release, but this tender coupling was a bliss he wanted to savor. Soon, Vincent began to need more. He restrained his thrusts as much as he could, but soon he was pumping faster and with much more urgency. He could feel his control slipping as his climax built to a fevered pitch. He held back as long as he could. With one last thrust, he emptied into Catherine.

Knowing that she had not reached her orgasm, Vincent reached between them and stimulated her clitoris until she too, found her sweet release.

"Hold me, just keep holding me. I donít want to let go of this feeling." She embraced Vincent tightly and kept him inside her until exhaustion finally overtook her body and she slid onto her back. She was so relaxed and sated that she quickly fell to sleep.

Vincent kissed her lightly and covered her beautiful body with the blanket. He eased her onto his shoulder and joined her in blissful sleep.

Epilogue

Eighteen months after Jacob was born, they were blessed with another new life. Caroline Catherine was just as beautiful as Jacob but had her motherís coloring rather than Vincentís. Caroline immediately had her Daddy wrapped around her little finger and they were inseparable. Jacob was a little jealous of his sister at first, but with a lot of patience and love from his parents, he quickly accepted the screaming little interloper.

Grandpa Father - as Jacob called Father - and Grandpa Peter, along with Mary and Uncle Devin fawned over the children. The rest of the tunnel community was equally enamored with Vincent and Catherineís offspring. There was no loss for babysitters whenever Vincent and Catherine wanted to have some alone time.

Catherine and Vincent decided that their family was complete so she had a tubal ligation performed by Peter. Vincent offered to have a vasectomy, but because of his tremendous healing ability, they werenít sure that it would remain permanent.

Catherine sat back in the large leather chair with her feet up on the matching foot stool. Vincent was upstairs reading a bedtime story to their children. She looked over at the photograph of her and Vincent on the mantle, each holding one of their beautiful children. Devin had taken the photo at Christmas time. They looked like any other family Ė well almost. The man was a little unusual looking but definitely handsome. His look was one of pure happiness and contentment. Catherine sighed. It had been a long hard time coming, but theirs was definitely Ďa life worth waiting forí.

The End