Second Chances

Part I

Kathy

Chapter 1

Catherine could feel herself floatingÖ as though in a dream. "Where am I?" She tried to figure out where she was but couldnít get a sense of it clearly. This floating sensation should have felt wonderful, but all she felt was a deep and unrelenting sadness.

She wanted to cry bitter tears as she became aware of other emotions Ė despair, loss, loneliness and hopelessness. Oh why was she so miserable? When would this nightmare end? "Wake up!" She just needed to wake up. With a sheer force of will, she tried desperately to awaken herself. She couldnít do it. She had no real sense of her body Ė only a consciousness that seemed vaguely disconcerting. Frantically she tried again to wake herself from this nightmare, but it was no use. Whatever had its hold on her wasnít going to release her any time soon. Maybe if she just relaxed and let the nightmare lessen its hold on her, she would wake up. She focused on slowing her breathing but again, had no sense of her body or the feeling of her lungs filling with air. What a strange feeling.

A sound invaded her consciousness. It was a low strumming sort of sound that was gaining in strength. Perhaps it was an alarm clock. Soon she would be fully awake and released from this torment. The sound changed slightly and became a sort of swooshing sound. In her mindís eye, she had the sensation of a presence approaching. All of the sudden the swooshing sound stopped and she clearly felt a presence now. There was a bright aura, and with that glow came a lessening of the torment that had gripped her so completely just moments before. She took comfort in this sensation and yearned to get closer to this presence and bask in its warmth. With this modicum of relief came another realization Ė something or someone was speaking to her.

"CatherineÖ.CatherineÖ.Catherine - listen to my words."

Catherine tried to focus on the words as she became more alert to this strange presence within her mind.

"Catherine, you must listen to me. There isnít much time. A choice must be made."

Catherine sought the voice more earnestly now. "What choice? Where am I? I donít understand. I have felt such loneliness and despair. Am I dreaming?"

"No child, you are not dreaming. Your spirit is all that remains of your earthly self. You should have passed on into the light but your sorrow has caused you to remain here. You have earned eternal bliss but have chosen to remain shackled by the sorrow of your past life. It is now time that you must choose. It is a choice that is only granted to a few souls over the centuries."

"What choice are you talking about? Am I dead? Did I die? Why canít I remember?"

"You will remember if you choose to return to the earthly realm, but I must warn you that returning is not an easy thing. You will no longer be the person that you were before. That earthly body has ceased to exist, so you must therefore assume anotherís body."

"How can that be? What do you mean? I canít be responsible for someone else dying so that I might take their body."

"There is no need. Many persons are at deathís threshold even as we communicate. It is imperative that you assume a body that is alone in the world Ė unloved and unwanted. Only then does your new life not unduly cause repercussions in the world which you previously inhabited."

"Where am I now? How long have I been here?"

"You left the earthly realm 380 days ago. You have entered the spiritual plane but have been unable to pass on as you should have. It is not our wish that you remain in this agony throughout eternity, so we are offering you a choice. You may remain here in this realm or return to earth to resume an earthly form. As I said before, you will no longer be the person you were. That life is gone. You cannot tell anyone who you were in your previous life or you forfeit your new life. Those that you are bound to so strongly must not be told. You may seek them out and form new relationships, but it must be done as your new self. It is a hard thing to do. I am certain that you were deeply in love prior to your death. Only a love that is pure and profoundly intense causes such a bond to a previous life. I have not been given any information about your prior life Ė only that you must choose."

"If I choose to go back, no one will know me?" A sense of foreboding came over Catherine. "What choice is this? I can go back, but not as whom I was, nor can I tell anyone? I either remain in this agony or become a total stranger who has no home, no life, no friends and no hope?" She heard the entity again strongly.

"As long as there is life, there is hope. You can begin again. That is all that we can offer. There is no other way."

Catherine knew what her choice would be. She didnít want to remain here Ė wherever here was. The thought of the life described to her seemed bleak, but the entity was right Ė if youíre alive, thereís always hope.

"I choose to go back. Who will I be?"

"She is a woman who has known great sorrow. She has willed herself to death to escape her pain. We must act quickly. She is very close to death. Know this - once you cross this plane, your memories will return and you will suffer tremendously from the pain of your past. You may wish that you had not made this choice; but once made, it cannot be unmade. You will not cross this plane again until the death of your new body. At that time, it is our fervent hope that you will be at peace and will be able to cross into your reward unshackled by the sorrow of your earthly life."

 

 

Chapter 2

A dull ache in her head was the first indication Catherine had that she was alive. She sat up quickly Ė too quickly for it caused the dull ache to amplify into a full blown throbbing that took her breath away.

"Calm down. Breathe slowly." Catherine looked around to take in her surroundings. She was lying in an alley. It was hot, and something smelled terrible. Looking around, she saw garbage strewn around her. All of these thoughts had only taken a matter of seconds.

Memories came flooding back, making her completely forget the smell, the alley and her headache. Thoughts of Vincent, her son, Gabriel Ė it was all there. She began to hyperventilate. Dizziness along with a blackness closing in around her peripheral vision was overtaking her.

"Breathe Ė slow breaths." Catherine bent over and tried to calm herself again. The entity had been right. The memories were torturous. Was this real? It was so very strange. Was she really a different person? She looked down at her hands Ė her legs Ė her body. It was all foreign to her. Without being vain, she knew that she had been pretty in her previous life Ė a woman of privilege and education. Who was she now? What did she look like? Had she really been dead for over a year?

First order was to get cleaned up and find a place to stay. It looked as though evening was approaching. She didnít want to stay in this alley once nightfall came. A yearning to see Vincent hit her as she rose to her feet. She could go to the tunnels. No, that wouldnít work. She would be turned away because they didnít know her. She needed a plan. First, get cleaned up.

Catherine settled into the cot at the homeless shelter and tried to get comfortable. She felt much better now that she had been allowed to shower and had been given a change of clothes and something to eat. Tomorrow she would look for a job with one of the helpers. Once she became known to a helper, she could eventually have them petition her case before the counsel and hopefully be allowed to live below.

She wanted to see Vincent. She needed to know whether he had found their son. Catherine began to cry silent tears as she thought about all that she had lost at the hands of that monster, Gabriel. She had no home, no wealth, no relationship with Vincent and no son. Had she made the right choice coming back?

 

 

Chapter 3

Lin took in the sight of the applicant named Caroline Smith and felt a twinge of familiarity. "Do I know you?"

"No, I donít think so. I have one of those faces."

Catherineís face had been a tremendous shock to her when she had first looked in the mirror. The face looking back at her was pretty, but so very different from the way she looked before. Gone was the strong jaw, wide mouth with full lips, green eyes and light brown hair. In its place was a heart shaped face, pouty lips, blue eyes and long dark brown hair. Her body was very different as well. In the shower room at the shelter, she had found a full length mirror to appraise her new body in. She was slender but busty. Catherine had never had much in the way of breasts before. She had reached up to touch the breasts to assess the weight of them. She had let her hands roam over the rest of her body. It was so surreal touching and feeling this body in place of the one she had lived in for over thirty years. She was taller than before as well. Where she was 5í4" before, she must be about 5í7" now.

Who had this body belonged to before and why had a very pretty woman of about 30 been lying at deathís door in an alley without any friends or family to care? The entity had said that she would embody someone who had no one to miss her. How sad.

Shaking herself out of the reverie, she focused her attention on Lin.

"I am eager to start work immediately. I recently moved to New York City and am currently staying at a shelter until I can get enough funds together to find a place to live.

Lin looked at her with sympathy. "How awful for you Ė where did you live before?"

Catherine had thought up a back story while lying in that cot all night tossing and turning. She had decided to be from Kansas, having come to New York, City with a friend in hopes of getting a job. Her friend had chosen to go back to Kansas once their funds were gone and the job didnít materialize, but Catherine had decided to stay. She loved the big city and wanted to try and make it if she could. She just needed a place to live. Things were so very expensive here in New York. It was going to take her a long time to save enough to get a decent place to live. She didnít like the shelter Ė it was kind of scary, but she had nowhere else to go. Catherine could sense Linís thought process. Lin was thinking about the tunnels.

Catherine walked out of Linís restaurant with a job and the firm belief that Lin was going to be her ally in her quest to live below. She would appeal to the womanís soft heart Ė knowing how tender and thoughtful Lin was Ė to reach her goal. With a slight smile on her lips, Catherine walked several blocks to the shelter. She would have to call that place home Ė at least for the near future.

Catherine had desperately wanted to ask Lin about Vincent and her son but knew that she couldnít. How could she possibly explain knowing about Vincent? She would have to be patient. She had been dead for over a year. A lot could change in a yearís time. How was Vincent? Had he been able to find their son? Was he still in love with her? Had he found someone else? She was torturing herself with these questions but couldnít seem to control her frantic thoughts.

 

 

Chapter 4

"Hello Lin. Itís so good to see you. What brings you below? Not that you arenít always welcome" Father hastened to add.

"Thank you, Father. Itís nice to see you as well. I come on behalf of a new employee of ours. She has been working at the restaurant for about two weeks. She moved here from Kansas. She came to New York at the promise of an acquaintance that there was a job waiting for her here. Once she arrived, she found that the job was no longer available. She likes the city and has no reason to return to Kansas. She has no family left back home and would like to stay in New York. She has been staying at a shelter, but you know as well as I do that those places are difficult to stay in for any length of time. It will take her quite a while to save up enough money for an apartment. I would like to help her more, but donít have the funds to offer right now. Henry and I just invested all of our savings in some new kitchen equipment. Anyway, Caroline is a hard worker and is smart. She could sure use a nice place to stay until she gets back on her feet. She would fit in well below. I believe that she must have come from a good family, because she has excellent manners and a demeanor about her that makes her seem classy even though she is homeless at the moment."

Father thought about this womanís plight for a few moments. "You say that she only needs a temporary place to live and is trustworthy?"

"Yes Father, I trust her completely."

Father smiled at Lin. "I would be willing to meet with this woman, Caroline, tomorrow at your restaurant to get a feel for her before approaching the counsel. We have a meeting coming up on Thursday. Does that sound agreeable?"

"Yes Father. Thank you."

Catherine was nervous about meeting Father. She needed to plead her case for a temporary home while pretending to remain ignorant about the tunnels. She felt so deceitful, which wasnít her nature. What choice did she have though? She had been warned not to tell anyone about herself. Who would believe her anyway? Certainly not Father. He was a pragmatist if ever there was one. She wouldnít have believed it herself if it hadnít happened to her. She reproached herself for not believing Kristopher Gentian about being a ghost. She believed him now.

Catherine watched as Father approached the table. She looked up and smiled at the elderly man and reached out her hand to shake his.

"Hello, Caroline. Lin has told me a little about you. She thinks that you would fit in well in our community until you get on your feet. Before we can consider you, Iím afraid that I need to get to know you a little better. There is more at stake here than just your current homeless condition."

Catherine nodded. "I understand. Lin hasnít told me much about this community you are referring to, except to say that it is comfortable and friendly. I am not asking for anything more than a place to sleep thatís safe and pest free. The people at the shelter try their best, but there are some pretty unsavory characters there at times, and I havenít gotten a good nightís sleep since Iíve been there. Also, they have a rodent problem that causes my skin to crawl. I donít mean to sound ungrateful. I appreciate what they provide to the city, but if there were somewhere else I could stay just until I get on my feet Ė somewhere safer and cleaner Ė I would be forever in your debt." Catherine looked at Father beseechingly.

Father smiled and reached out his hand to pat Catherineís. "If you come to stay with us, you would have to promise to keep the place a secret. Its existence depends on the confidentiality of those who live there, and that of those who assist us, such as Lin. Do you agree to keep our community a secret if we allow you to stay?"

Catherine nodded. "Of course, I agree. I donít wish to cause any problems, and I donít know who I would tell anyway. Please, I would love to live in your community."

That very weekend Catherine had a chamber below. She smiled as she walked around the small chamber, touching the knick knacks and the worn but clean quilt upon the bed. She was far from where Vincentís chamber was. No doubt the location of this chamber was to keep new residents from learning of Vincentís existence. She would have to use some subterfuge to find out about Vincent and her son. She had been patient so far. She would have to remain so.

She was introduced to the counsel, sans Vincent. She was pleased to see William, Mary, Pascal and Rebecca again. Her eyes filled with unshed tears when she stood before them. No doubt they took her show of emotion for that of gratitude. How could they know that it was because she felt "home" after her horrible ordeal of being kidnapped and tortured for months on end, not to mention having died and being brought back to life as someone other than herself.

She felt that her best bet was to find Mouse. He was naÔve and honest to a fault. She could get information out of him without his being aware of it. She had gotten many a witness to reveal things they hadnít intended to divulge in her previous life as an assistant DA. The thought brought with it memories of Joe. She missed him terribly. Had he grieved for her? She was sure he had. They had been much closer than boss and employee. They had been friends. He had to have felt guilty for giving her that damn black book that got her kidnapped. She had found out that he was the new DA having taken Morenoís place. She had heard from Lin that Moreno had been murdered. Catherine wouldnít shed any tears over that death. It had been Moreno who had allowed her capture. She still found it had to believe that he had been dirty. Gabriel was dead as well. Catherine had gone to the public library and had read all the headlines from the back issues of the New York Times. Gabrielís empire had fallen. If only she had survived, she would have been able to resume her life. Catherine sighed. There was no use going down that path. Wishing wouldnít make it so.

Catherine went above every day to her job at Linís restaurant and returned each evening to her chamber. She met a few more of the tunnel residents including Mouse. She asked if Mouse might come by her chamber that evening to look at her clock that wasnít keeping time properly. In truth, Catherine had taken the back off the clock and messed with it until she had broken it in order to have a reason for Mouse to come to see her. Once there, Catherine began to talk as Mouse focused on the clock.

"Mouse, youíve lived here a long time, havenít you?"

Mouse nodded.

"You must be a very valuable asset to the leaders of the community. I think Iíve met all the leaders of the community except Vincent."

At Vincentís name, Mouse looked up at Catherine.

"You know about Vincent?"

Catherine swallowed hard. She wasnít lying. She really did know Vincent Ė intimately as a matter fact.

"Iíve heard his name mentioned but havenít had the pleasure of meeting him. I understand that he has a son."

Mouse nodded his head. "Vincent is Mouseís best friend and Vincent lets Mouse watch Jacob sometimes. Heís a good boy and likes Mouse a lot."

Catherine squeezed her eyes shut to keep the tears from falling down her cheeks. Mouse wasnít watching her, thankfully, as he was more interested in taking apart her clock. So Vincent had named their son after Father.

"What does Jacob look like?"

Mouse thought for a moment. "Short- chubby - everyone says he looks like Catherine, but has blond hair and blue eyes like Vincent."

"Is Catherine his mother?"

Mouse squirmed. "Was his mother. Catherine is dead now."

Catherine took a deep calming breath. "Does Jacob have a new mother?"

Mouse looked at Catherine with a puzzled expression. "Not new mother. Everyone helps Vincent. Everyone loves Vincent and Jacob."

Catherine wasnít sure how to proceed. After a momentís time she asked a few more questions. "Was Catherine Vincentís girlfriend?"

Mouse nodded. "She was Vincentís Catherine. Vincent sad when Catherine died. Went away for long time but came back with Jacob. Vincent still sad but better."

Catherine was relieved to hear that Vincent was better. She had worried so much about him. She knew that she would have wanted to die if Vincent had preceded her in death. If not for the baby, she was certain that Vincent would have willed himself to die.

"Does Vincent have a new girlfriend?"

Mouse cocked his head to one side again. "Donít think so. Diana comes to see Vincent but not same as was with Catherine. Different."

Catherine wondered who this Diana might be. "Is Diana a helper?"

Mouse nodded. "Diana help Vincent find Jacob. Good helper. Lives up top. Mouse thinks she works for Police. Not sure. Pretty." Mouse smiled widely and handed the clock to Catherine. "Fixed. Mouse leave now."

 

 

Chapter 5

Catherine had been living below now for a month and still hadnít gotten to see Vincent or her son. Just as she was beginning to think she would never get an opportunity, fate smiled on her. She had gone to the music chamber where she and Vincent had spent so many happy times in the past listening to the concerts in the park. She was sitting there deep in thought one evening when she heard someone approach. Her breath caught in her throat when she realized it was Vincent. He hadnít noticed her presence yet. She drank in his sight greedily. Her heart was pounding and tears sprang up in her eyes. She needed to get herself under control if she wanted to talk with Vincent. Steeling herself against her raging emotions, she remained very quiet until Vincent was almost next to her. She had pushed herself up against the wall and hadnít moved as he approached. Vincent closed his eyes and seemed to be listening to music only he could hear. Catherine spoke softly. "You must be Vincent."

Vincent looked down at her shocked and confused. He turned and put up his hood.

"You donít have to do that. Iím not afraid of you. Please, would you talk with me for a while?"

Vincent warily turned to face Catherine. "You must be Caroline. I heard that you had joined the community but for obvious reasons, I was not part of the welcoming committee."

Catherine laughed softly. "Would you care to sit down beside me so we could get to know each other?"

Vincent, being the gentleman that he was, lowered himself to the floor and turned to face Catherine.

"Caroline, Iím pleased that my appearance does not frighten you but I am a bit surprised. I donít often encounter a person who accepts my appearance so readily."

Catherine smiled and looked into Vincentís lovely blue eyes. "From some of the conversations that I have overheard, it was obvious that your appearance was different. I wasnít sure what to expect but you are far from scary. You are actually quite handsome."

Vincent looked at Caroline thoughtfully. "Thank you." Vincent looked down shyly.

Catherineís heart twisted in her chest. She wanted to reach out to touch Vincentís chin and raise his beautiful eyes up to meet hers again. "Vincent, someone said that you have a son. Would you let me meet him? I love babies and itís been a long time since Iíve gotten to hold one." Catherine looked at Vincent with such longing in her eyes.

"I think that can be arranged. Iíll bring Jacob here to the music chamber tomorrow evening after dinner. You can meet him then." Vincent stood. "I must get back. I will return tomorrow evening. It was nice meeting you Caroline."

Vincent thought about his meeting with Caroline that evening. She had been kept in the guest chambers outside the hub at Fatherís insistence. He had said that she wouldnít be there long and had no need to get acquainted with everyone within the community. She hadnít been invited to the dining hall. Food had been taken to her. Now that Vincent had met Caroline, he would ask Father to lift the restrictions on Caroline. Vincent knew that Father had kept Caroline apart from the community to protect him. He was so wary of strangers. Caroline seemed very kind and had quickly accepted Vincent, showing no hesitation whatsoever. He wanted her to feel a part of the community. He would go talk to Father immediately.

The next evening, Catherine was waiting when Vincent brought Jacob to the music chamber. Catherineís joy at seeing her son was indescribable. She reached out her arms immediately to hold the baby.

Vincent placed his son in Catherineís arms. Jacob readily came into Catherineís loving arms and reached up to pat Catherineís face.

Vincent was somewhat surprised to see how quickly Jacob had taken to Caroline. Jacob was used to being passed around within the community, but hadnít been known to be friendly to strangers. When he went to the park with Brook or Jamie, they said that he always shied away from the young mothers who tried to talk to him. Vincent was more convinced now than before that he had made a good decision in talking Father into letting Caroline eat in the dining hall with the rest of the community. Jacob liked her and Vincent liked her.

"Caroline, it looks like you have a way with children. Jacob seems to have taken an immediate liking to you,"

Catherine beamed at Vincent. "Heís so beautiful. It feels so wonderful to hold him in my arms."

Vincent nodded. "He looks like his mother. She was very beautiful."

Catherine didnít make any comment for fear that she would begin to cry. She just continued to hold Jacob and talk to him as she swayed slightly in a rocking motion.

"Caroline, I would like to invite you to start taking your meals in the dining hall with the community. I could take you there now to show you the way. You could begin to come tomorrow for breakfast if you like."

Catherine nodded. "I would like that very much. I havenít wanted to intrude. Mouse and Jamie have been very kind to bring food to my chamber regularly. I thank you for the invitation."

And so it began.

Catherine went to the dining hall every morning for breakfast. When she got off work at Linís restaurant early enough, she would go to the dining hall for dinner as well. Often she got a chance to talk with Vincent and she made a point to speak to baby Jacob as well. Jacob always held his arms up for Catherine to hold him whenever he saw her.

Father and Mary both commented on Jacobís easy acceptance of Caroline. Jacob even cried a few times when Vincent took him back from Catherineís loving arms.

Catherine was feeling that she should be grateful for these few blessings but she wanted more Ė so very much more. She longed to be back in Vincentís arms again. Vincent was friendly to her but there was a definite sadness and reserve about Vincent that she wished to ease. She knew that he still grieved for her. If only he knew that her spirit had lived on.

 

 

Chapter 6

It was during dinner about a week later that she finally got to meet the mysterious Diana. Catherine was sitting at the table holding Jacob when a tall red haired woman walked in.

Vincent immediately excused himself from Catherine and walked over to speak to the lovely woman.

Catherine watched them carefully.

Diana and Vincent talked like old friends, but he didnít hug her or touch her.

Catherine was relieved. She felt certain that there was no romantic relationship between them.

Father had watched Carolineís reaction to Vincent going to meet Diana. He was certain that Caroline had feelings for his son. He would not say anything negative about Caroline to Vincent. He had learned his lesson with Catherine. He had fought so very hard against Vincent and Catherineís relationship. In the end, it had been a futile effort. Vincent and Catherine had been intimate as evidenced by Jacobís existence and his interference had possibly caused Vincent to lose out on much happiness in his life. Father regretted his actions. Father thought that Diana and Vincent might have a relationship, but Vincent seemed only interested in Diana as a friend, Also, Diana didnít relate well to little Jacob. She tried, but she just wasnít the motherly type. She had been a good friend and had helped Vincent save Jacobís life as well as his own. He would always admire and care deeply for this woman, as would Vincent.

Soon Vincent guided Diana over to the table where little Jacob sat on Catherineís lap.

Diana gave Catherine a smile that didnít quite reach her eyes. She was assessing Catherine to see what type of competition she was for Vincentís affection.

Catherine sensed it immediately. Vincent seemed oblivious to Dianaís love for him. Either that or he chose to ignore it. Catherine was thankful that Vincent seemed unaffected by Dianaís charm and beauty.

"Caroline, I would like you to meet a very good friend of mine, Diana. Diana, this is Caroline."

Caroline held out her hand to shake Dianaís while holding Jacob tightly with her other arm.

Jacob smiled up at Diana but made no effort to leave her lap.

Diana spoke to Jacob but didnít attempt to hold him.

"Caroline, would you mind watching Jacob for a few minutes while I talk with Diana?"

Catherine eagerly agreed and said that she would take Jacob back to her chamber for a while until Vincent came to retrieve him.

At that, Vincent left the dining hall with Diana.

Catherine and Jacob played for a while, but soon Jacob became fussy. Catherine knew that it was getting close to Jacobís bedtime. She was surprised that Vincent hadnít come for Jacob. She worried about what he and Diana might be doing.

Catherine lay down on the bed holding Jacob against her. She intended to get Jacob to sleep and then read. Once she had Jacob sleeping, she was too tired to get up from the bed. She decided that she would just lie there beside Jacob for a while and rest. Soon she was fast asleep.

When Vincent finally came for Jacob, he knew he would have to apologize to Caroline for his tardiness in picking up his son. Time had gotten away from him. Diana seemed to be in no hurry to leave and had talked extensively about the case she was currently working on. Vincent had been interested but had finally had to suggest that it was time for Diana to return above so he might get his son put to bed. Diana had left, but reluctantly. She had asked several questions about Caroline. Vincent didnít understand Dianaís interest in Caroline, but answered her questions as best he could. He didnít really know Caroline that well. He felt her goodness. He knew that she had a warm and loving heart and a gentle spirit. She reminded him of Catherine in many ways. He didnít have to know the details of her life to know that he liked being around her. He should make a point to get to know her better. It wasnít until Diana asked so many questions about her that he realized he knew so very little about her.

Vincent stopped outside Carolineís chamber and called out quietly to her. He thought that Jacob might be asleep and didnít wish to awaken him. After calling a couple of times, he stepped inside a little to see if he could see Caroline. He smiled as he saw Caroline and Jacob curled up on her bed together, asleep. It was obvious that Caroline loved Jacob dearly and that Jacob loved Caroline. He was worried that, when Caroline left the tunnels, Jacob would miss her terribly. Vincent would miss her as well. Vincent liked women. He was friends with many women. He had only ever loved two - Lisa in his youth and Catherine as an adult. The love he had felt for Catherine was as different from the love he had felt for Lisa as the ocean was different from a stream. He knew that there would never be another love in his life like Catherine. He had accepted that from the moment he had met her. He only wished now that he had allowed their love to progress into the intimate loving relationship that she had desired. He had been so scared and so sure that he was doing the right thing by denying them the fulfillment of their love. What a fool he had been. There wasnít a day that went by that he didnít regret his actions. If he had another chance, he would do things much differently.

Why was he thinking these thoughts now? He needed to get Jacob back to his chamber.

Vincent leaned over Caroline and shook her gently. He didnít want to just take Jacob without speaking to Caroline. She might be frightened that Jacob had roamed off somewhere without her being aware.

Caroline began to stir. She tightened her hold on Jacob and opened her eyes. She stared into Vincentís and gave him a sleepy smile.

"Hi. I guess I fell asleep. Did you have a nice visit with Diana?"

Vincent sat down on the bed beside Jacob and scooped the little boy into his arms. "Yes, we had a nice visit. I hadnít seen her for a long time. She is an investigator with the police department. She was telling me about her current case."

Catherine said nothing but reached out to stroke the curls aside that had fallen across Jacobís forehead. She loved him so very much.

"Time got away from me. Iím very sorry to have inconvenienced you."

Catherine shook her head. "Oh Vincent, donít apologize. You know that I love Jacob. You could have just left him with me for the night. I wouldnít have minded."

Vincent lifted the small boy into his arms. "Thank you, Caroline. Iíll see you at breakfast."

Catherine merely nodded shyly as Vincent strode out the chamber entrance.

 

Chapter 7

Three more weeks passed and things hadnít changed much between Vincent and Catherine.

She knew that Father would be expecting her to find an apartment and leave the tunnels soon. In reality, she had saved up almost her entire wages from working at Lin and Henryís restaurant. She had very few expenses since she lived in the tunnels. She had bought a few clothes but they hadnít made much of a dent in her earnings. She was becoming frightened that she would have no choice but to leave soon. What then? Her heart was beginning to tear in two.

Vincent was worrying as well. He had grown very fond of Caroline. He didnít want to see her leave. He knew that Jacob absolutely adored her and would miss her terribly. He asked to see ĎCaroí as he called her, as soon as he woke up every morning and many times throughout the day. What would her leaving do to Jacob? In a sense, Caroline was the closest thing to a mother that Jacob had ever had.

Of course, Mary, Olivia, Brook and Jamie had all fawned over Jacob as well as many of the other tunnel women, but Jacob and Caroline had definitely formed a bond between them.

That word Ė Ďbondí Ė it still hurt so much. Why had he lost his bond with Catherine? If he hadnít gotten sick and lost their bond, she would be alive today, and Jacob would have his Ďrealí mother.

Vincent let bitter tears stream down his cheeks as he remembered those last few moments with Catherine. Fate had been so cruel to them. Vincent shook himself. Jacob couldnít lose another person in his life.

He needed to talk to Caroline. Perhaps she didnít want to leave the tunnels? She seemed content here, and he knew that whatever accommodations she would find would be meager at best on the salary of a waitress. The thought of her living in the city in a dingy apartment in a dangerous part of town frightened him terribly. He would talk with her tonight after she came home from work.

 

 

Chapter 8

The pipes announced that Vincent had a visitor Ė Diana. Vincent went over and splashed some cold water on his face from the basin he kept in his chamber. He didnít want to appear to have been crying when Diana reached him. He knew that his tears upset his tunnel family and friends. He did his best to hide his misery from the others. Vincent dried his face and sat in his chair and picked up a book as he waited for his visitor to arrive.

Within ten minutes, Diana walked into the chamber with a determined look on her face. She sat down opposite Vincent and without any hesitation stated why she had come.

"Vincent, Caroline isnít who she claims to be."

Vincent was caught off guard and immediately jumped up and began to pace. He stopped and sat back down and looked into Dianaís eyes. "What are you telling me? What do you mean?"

Diana opened a bag she was carrying and took out a folder. "When I met Caroline that night in the dining hall, I grabbed a toy of Jacobís that she had been holding and slipped it into my bag. When I had the opportunity, I had her fingerprints run."

Vincent looked angry, but Diana wasnít sure whether the anger was directed at her or at Caroline. She forged on. "I worry about you and little Jacob. Youíve been through so much. I just wanted to find out more about your guest. My investigator senses were tingling and I had to find out why. Now I know."

Vincent was becoming frightened. What had Diana uncovered? "What did you find out?"

Diana opened the folder and began reading from her notes. "First, her name isnít Caroline Smith Ė itís Megan Catherine Foster Reed. She was raised in Connecticut as the only child of parents John Alexander Foster and Portia Catherine Applegate. They were very wealthy. Anyway, Megan was married and had a daughter."

"So she is married and has a child?" Vincent felt sickened.

"She was. She and her husband, Richard Alan Reed and daughter, Samantha Megan Reed, were visiting her parentís home at Christmas three years ago when some armed men came in and slaughtered the entire family before robbing the place."

"But Caroline obviously survived," Vincent added weakly.

"Yes, the robbers sprayed the family with bullets but somehow only grazed ĎMeganísí head. She lost consciousness, thankfully, or she would have never survived. These men were ruthless. They would never have left her alive had they known."

Vincent nodded his head, his eyes wide in horror.

"A silent alarm was tripped so the sheriffís department sent someone to investigate. ĎMeganí was taken to the hospital for treatment but when it became obvious that she was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder; she was moved to a psychiatric hospital. She didnít speak for months. She was finally released at the urgings of the familyís attorney and moved to a house in the small town where she was raised. She had a live-in nurse, cook, gardener and housekeeper."

"And she recovered?" Vincent asked as if in a daze.

"She recovered somewhat, although she was still being treated for depression. She began speaking and gradually started to resume her life. Then one day she just disappeared. According to the housekeeper, on the day of her disappearance, she said she was going into the city to shop."

"But she didnít return." He wondered where Caroline had gone, and why.

"No, she didnít. After she was gone for over twelve hours, the housekeeper called the familyís attorney. He had left instructions that he was to be notified in case of any emergencies involving Megan. He assured the staff that he would look into Meganís disappearance immediately, but he didnít."

"Didnít he notify the appropriate authorities?" Vincent felt a sense of outrage at the callous treatment of this Ďlostí woman.

"After a few days of hearing nothing, the housekeeper contacted the sheriff. That was when they discovered that the attorney had not contacted the police. It seems that he had total control of the familyís substantial wealth and wasnít eager to share it with the sole survivor. He is under investigation for her disappearance as well as the robbery/murder of her family."

"He must be a monster!" Vincent was outraged.

"Yes, and without her medication, there was a very real fear that ĎMeganí would slip back into her severe depression and not be able to function. The authorities did what they could. They put out an APB on her automobile and canvassed the area. They found the car abandoned, but no clues as to where Megan had gone. It seems that she just wandered off from the car and dropped out of sight Ė until now."

"That must have been when she became ĎCarolineí." Vincent was stunned by all that he had learned about this sweet tragic woman.

Diana reached out and took Vincentís hand. "I donít know why she is pretending to be a woman from Kansas. Maybe itís something her mind invented so she could cope with her loss. She has no family left, thatís true, but she is far from destitute as she has led us to believe. She has an ivy-league education and a great deal of money at her disposal. Not only did she inherit her parentís wealth, but the attorney made sure that each of them had huge life insurance policies that paid out at their deaths. ĎMeganí is the beneficiary. Vincent, this woman has suffered tremendously and has been treated abominably. Itís a miracle that she is functioning at all."

Vincentís head reeled. He wasnít sure what he should do. "Maybe she doesnít want that life any more. Maybe she invented this new identity as a coping mechanism, as you said. I donít know whether it would be safe to Ďconfrontí her with what you have discovered. What do you suggest we do?"

"Iím sorry about what happened to her, I really am, and I know that you are too, but Iím going to have to notify the police that she has been found." Diana paused, unsure how to proceed. "I am concerned about you. This must be a terrible shock."

"Yes, it is. Would it be possible for you to wait until Iíve had a chance to talk to her?"

Vincent felt like he should be the one to tell her. He was her closest friend.

"Okay, Iíll wait two days. But promise me that you will proceed with caution. She could be very unstable." Diana was very concerned.

"I will be careful, Diana. I donít believe that Caroline is dangerous in any way. She is a Ďlostí soul looking for comfort. I canít just turn my back on her. Weíve become very close."

Diana did not like Vincentís obvious attachment to this woman. She could not understand why he felt so close to Megan after so short a time. Diana had not been able to form that kind of relationship with him after months of trying. She was jealous of Megan but more importantly, she was afraid that she would hurt Vincent and Jacob.

Vincent was more convinced than ever that Caroline remembered nothing about her previous life. He had dropped a few hints Ė had even mentioned the family memberís names to Caroline to gauge her reaction. There had been none.

 

 

Chapter 9

He came to her chamber two evenings after Diana had revealed all to him. He didnít bring Jacob. He needed to speak to Caroline alone. He knew that Jacob was now the same age as Meganís daughter was when she lost her Ė 18 months. Her child would now be four years old, had she lived. What a terrible thing to lose a child.

Caroline looked up in surprise as Vincent entered her chamber.

"Iím very happy to see that youíve come for a visit. You know that youíre always welcome. Would you like some tea?"

Vincent sat in the lone chair while Catherine fussed over making the tea. She handed Vincent a cup, sat on the bed and looked up at Vincent with a happy smile.

Vincent blinked and looked away. "Caroline, you mean a great deal to me and to Jacob. We care for you and have only your best interest at heart."

Catherine nodded. She didnít like the way this conversation was beginning. Was he going to ask her to leave now? She said nothing.

He swallowed hard and spoke. "Caroline, do you know that youíre not really from Kansas?" Vincent looked up and stared into Catherineís eyes as he waited for a response.

Catherine sighed and nodded her head slightly in the affirmative. "Honestly, I donít know who this body belongs to. I woke up in an alley without any memories of my previous life. Since I didnít know who I was, I became somebody else (that much was certainly true)." Catherine waited while Vincent digested this information.

Vincent merely stared at Caroline more intently. "Your name is Megan Catherine Foster Reed. Diana gave me a folder about your previous life. Youíve suffered terrible losses and were severely traumatized and depressed. I will leave this folder with you and when you feel strong enough, you should read through it. I will be here for you. If you want me to be with you when you read the file, I will."

Catherine felt tears stinging her eyes. "I know that I lied to everybody. Iím terribly sorry for deceiving you. Can you forgive me?"

Vincent got up from the chair and came to sit next to Catherine on the bed. He put his arm around her and she nestled her head against his shoulder.

It felt so good to be in Vincentís arms again. She let out an audible sigh as she snuggled closer into Vincentís embrace.

Vincent squeezed her tighter and leaned down as he spoke softly into her ear. "You have nothing to be sorry for. I only wish that I could take away the pain that is in that folder."

Catherine wanted to review the folder, but didnít want to leave the safe haven of Vincentís arms. She just waited until Vincent released her.

When Vincent opened his arms, Catherine stood and moved to the chair that he had occupied. She opened the folder that he had placed on the small table. She read through the file noting with no small interest that Megan Reed had earned a degree in law. Meganís life had been tragic with the loss of her husband, child and parents.

The entity had been right. Megan was all alone. The familyís attorney certainly hadnít wanted her to survive. That much was for sure. Catherine felt anger rising up in her as she thought of what that attorney had done to this poor woman. She closed the file and looked at Vincent who had remained completely silent while she read through its contents.

"Vincent, I should really go and put this womanís, rather, my life in order. It looks like the family attorney will be charged in connection with the murders and burglary. I want to make sure he has no further access to the familyís assets. Although, they were probably frozen as soon as the investigation was underway; but I must make sure. He should not profit from a crime such as this."

Vincent could see that rather than being immobilized by the information about her past, Caroline was determined to see that justice was done for her family. Vincent admired her strength. She seemed more like Catherine than ever. "When will you leave?"

Catherine stood and paced the chamber for a few minutes. "I guess I should call the sheriffís department and let them know that Iím alive first. Iíll drive up to Connecticut and get all of the affairs set in order before returning."

Vincent looked up surprised at her last statement. "Returning? Youíre going to return?"

Catherine went over and sat back beside Vincent and took his hand. "Vincent, you and Jacob are the closest thing I have to family now. I canít lose you too. I love it here and want to stay if youíll allow it."

Vincent felt a tremendous sense of relief. He didnít understand why this woman meant so much to him. It seemed that he was being unfaithful to Catherine by having any feelings for her at all, but he couldnít seem to help himself. He was falling in love with her.

"What should I call you now?" Vincent struggled to keep his voice calm.

"Call me Caroline. Meganís life is behind me." Catherine wanted so much to ask him to call her Catherine, but she couldnít.

Vincent wanted her to stay, desperately, but felt compelled to try to get her to go. "You have an ivy-league education, wealth and privilege. You should live your life above in the sunshine not in the tunnels."

Catherineís heart broke as she heard those familiar words. She brought Vincentís hand into hers and squeezed. "I have nothing left above. I would like to have a life here below."

 

 

Chapter 10

Catherine quit her job at Linís restaurant and spent the next month getting Meganís life in order. While Catherine obviously couldnít remember this womanís life, she felt compelled to see that justice was done and her assets secured. Once she had contacted the Sheriff, the attorney gave up the others involved with the crime in exchange for a lesser sentence. He was charged with conspiracy to murder as well as embezzlement.

Catherine grieved for the loss of Meganís little family Ė her daughter and husband - and for the loss of Meganís parents, who obviously loved her. It was so very sad. Catherine had lost so much in her life and could easily relate to this womanís tragedy.

The only good that had come from all of this, was that it had seemed to bring Vincent closer to her. It could have been her imagination, but she felt that Vincent was beginning to fall in love with her. She knew that he would fight against it, feeling that he was betraying Catherineís memory somehow. Even though he didnít realize it, he was falling in love with the very woman he was grieving for. It would be so very hard for him to give in to those feelings. She would have to be patient. Perhaps logic and practicality might be the route to take. She would have to think on this.

The day arrived when Catherine returned to the tunnels. She had hired someone to manage Meganís assets and established a trust for the community. Father would object, but with Vincentís help, she was sure that she could get the counsel to agree to the financial help. She could now focus on what was really important to her Ė Vincent and Jacob.

Catherine walked into Fatherís library. When Jacob saw her, he came running into her arms. She wrapped Jacob in a bear hug and placed kisses all over his face. He giggled with delight.

Vincent held himself back and just took in the sight of her. She really was beautiful. Vincentís heart beat faster as he beheld her loveliness and open affection for his child. His heart wrenched as he watched the joy that Jacob brought to this woman. He walked across the room to welcome Caroline home.

She walked into his outstretched arms. She was finally Ďhomeí.

 

 

Chapter 11

Two weeks later, Caroline was sitting in Vincentís chamber as Vincent read and Jacob played. She was enjoying her life below.

"Vincent, do you know that I love Jacob?"

Vincent looked up from the book he had been reading.

"Yes, and he loves you."

Even though everyone here including me, showers him with love, itís not the same as actually having a mother of his very own." Catherine looked over at Jacob and then back at Vincent. "I would like to be his mother, Vincent."

Vincent stared at her as though he couldnít quite grasp what she was saying.

"Vincent, I think we should join." She reached out for Vincentís hand. "I know you have feelings for me, even though you have never expressed them. And I have feelings for you. I think we would be happy together, and I would very much like to spend the rest of my life here with you as your wife and mother to your children."

Vincent felt as though he had run a marathon his heart beat so and his breath was so labored. "I donít know what to say. What youíre proposing is the life that should have been Catherineís. I denied her that life by my stubborn resolve to spare her from . . . me. I can never forgive myself for that. I donít know whether it would be fair to her memory to join with another."

Catherine stood up and placed a light kiss on his brow and then sat down beside him. "Vincent, from everything youíve told me about Catherine, I believe that her greatest desire would be to see you and Jacob happy. I could give you some of the happiness youíve denied yourself. Iím not asking you to declare undying love to me. Youíve read enough literature to know that marriages based on practical matters are often just as successful, if not more so, than those begun in passion."

Vincent knew that this was true. Most marriages of bygone days were based upon practical matters such as securing property or producing heirs. Love had little to do with marriage. He nodded. "That is true."

"Vincent, Jacob needs a mother, and even though you donít need a wife, you might enjoy having one. Why should you or I spend our lives alone, when we could spend them together? Will you consider it?"

Vincent looked at this woman and knew that she spoke the truth. Jacob should have a mother Ė someone that he didnít have to share with the rest of the community as Vincent had done with Mary as a child. And even though he felt he was being disloyal to Catherineís memory, he did long for the warmth and companionship of this woman very much.

"Caroline, if this is your desire, I will join with you."

Catherine was stunned. She thought that she would have to argue and cajole many long days, months and perhaps years before Vincent would agree. She regained her composure and smiled at Vincent with a look of pure love on her face. "Iím so happy to hear that. When can it be arranged?"

 

 

Chapter 12

And so it was without much delay at all that the joining ceremony was scheduled. The day arrived, and Catherine was excited beyond her wildest imaginings that she was finally going to be joined with Vincent. She had bought a lovely dress of cream satin and chiffon that dipped low to reveal just the tops of her breasts. It was fitted along the bodice and the hips and then flared out around the knees into willowy wisps of chiffon down to her ankles. It was sleeveless and showed off her figure to its best advantage. It would not have flattered Catherineís old figure, but having those extra three inches of height and an ample bosom had its advantages.

Vincent looked splendid in black trousers and a cream colored shirt that was open at the collar. Catherine noticed that he didnít wear the ruffled shirt that she had been so accustomed to seeing him in for special occasions. Perhaps it brought back painful memories.

The community seemed to be in a celebratory mood. Rebecca had confided to her that ever since Vincent had lost Catherine, that he had lost all the joy from his life. He now seemed to be living again. She thanked ĎCarolineí for giving them back, at least in part, the old Vincent that they knew and loved.

Father was actually friendlier to her now than he had been in her past life. The thought made Catherine feel angry at first, but then realized that he was dealing with guilt and was trying to make amends to Vincent for his harsh treatment of the woman that he had loved before.

The ceremony was over, and Jacob was staying with Olivia and Kanin for the night.

 

 

Chapter 13

Vincent was very nervous, but knew that by agreeing to join with Caroline, that a physical relationship was implied. He would not deny her this part of marriage, if it was her desire to consummate their union. Vincent was no longer afraid that he might hurt a woman during sex. He hadnít hurt Catherine when they conceived Jacob. Even though he couldnít remember the details of their passion, he could recall enough to know that there was no violence involved. He rejoiced that they had created Jacob but was sorrowful that they had not found their happy life together.

He needed to focus on the present. He would always love Catherine Ė that would never change Ė but for Jacobís sake, he wanted to make this marriage with Caroline work. He needed to let go of some of the past and rejoice that he had found this unique woman who wanted to be a mother to Jacob and wife to him.

"Vincent, could you help me with this zipper?" Catherine had entered the room after having gone to check on Jacob one more time.

She couldnít have been more devoted to his son if she had actually given birth to him. She never talked about the daughter she had lost and Vincent didnít want to bring up painful memories.

He walked over to Caroline and turned her so he could slide down the zipper. He bent to place a small kiss at the base of her neck as a show of the affection he felt for her. They had shared a chaste kiss at the end of the ceremony. Neither of them had felt comfortable sharing their first real kiss with the community.

Once his lips had left her neck, Catherine turned and looked up into his deep blue eyes. She let the dress fall to her feet to reveal her scantily clad body beneath. She stepped out of the dress and walked to where Vincent had moved - about five feet away. She could tell that he was incredibly nervous.

He shyly watched as she closed the gap. She was truly lovely and his body was beginning to respond to her feminine allure. He still felt guilty about Catherine, but truly did desire Caroline. It was as though something deep within her soul called out to him and he could do nothing but respond. He held open his arms and she came into them without hesitation. Vincent leaned down to kiss his bride. What began as a chaste kiss quickly became a frenzy of lips, moist tongues and shared breath as they couldnít seem to get enough of each other. Vincent placed his hands on Catherineís body and allowed them to roam over her back and down to her curved bottom. He placed his hands on her buttocks and pulled her closer to himself as he pressed his erection against her belly. He moaned at the contact. He wanted her. He had felt this desire for Catherine many times but had fought against it to protect her. He would not do that with this woman who was now his wife. He was tired of fighting against his passionate longings and gave himself over to his carnal needs. Soon he was shedding his clothing and removing those few scraps of lingerie that Caroline was wearing. He picked her up and carried her to the bed.

They were on their sides. It seemed that she was as impassioned as he and relished in exploring Vincentís chest and arms before grasping his turgid penis in her hands.

Vincent gasped at this intimate touch.

She began to stroke his length as she rubbed her erect nipples against Vincentís chest.

He had his head thrown back and was panting.

Catherine wanted to enjoy a long loving and knew that he needed to ejaculate so things could slow down. She had experienced physical love many times in the past and knew that this quick release would allow him a measure of control.

Vincent moaned and growled deep within his chest as he allowed himself to pump into her hands. He wanted this release Ė he reached for it Ė he was almost there. When his climax began, he shuddered against Catherineís body. It seemed to go on a long time.

When he was done, Catherine soothed him with her hands and kisses along his chest and throat. Eventually Vincentís breathing slowed, and he opened his eyes. He was somewhat embarrassed that he had allowed her to see him in such a state but quickly dismissed the thought. She had wanted to bring him to climax, or wouldnít have done what she did. Did that mean that she didnít want to have intercourse? Maybe not, perhaps this was the extent of their physical union.

That was far from the case.

His new wife began a new assault on Vincent.

She began to kiss him passionately as she pressed her body against his and rolled him onto his back.

He could feel the residue of his release on his stomach as she moved against him.

She seemed to be enjoying the slick feel of his ejaculate against her skin. It was wildly erotic to him. He could smell his arousal as well as his brideís. He began to harden again. He wanted to be inside her. He placed his hands around her slender body and flipped them over so that he was above her. He kissed her briefly and then began to place wet kisses down her neck and continued down toward her breasts.

Catherine moaned with pleasure. Not only was he kissing her, he was lathing her with his tongue. Finally he reached her right nipple.

He took it deep into his mouth and began to suckle. He stopped sucking only to tease the nipple with his teeth and tongue and began sucking again. He repeated his assault on her left breast.

By this point, Catherine was writhing below Vincent.

He continued down her body and finally reached her belly. He reached between her legs and felt the moisture that had gathered as evidence of her readiness for consummation. He wanted to bring her to orgasm as she had done for him, so began to rub her clitoris with the pad of his thumb.

She was so very aroused that within a couple of minutes, she cried out as she came.

Vincent smiled at having given her this pleasure and resumed his wet kisses as he followed a path back to her lips. He kissed her deeply and then positioned himself to enter her body.

Catherine opened herself widely to receive him and wrapped her legs around his hips to encourage him.

He needed no encouragement. With a smooth and gentle motion, he entered her sheath. It felt glorious. It felt like he was home. He began a slow rocking pace that soon escalated to deep and powerful thrusts as he sought his second release of the evening. Her body felt so good beneath his as they enjoyed this most intimate of dances together. He stopped his movements twice and leaned down to kiss her lips and to whisper of his affection and devotion to his new bride.

Catherine was overcome with the emotions she was feeling as she felt his body moving on hers. When they had made love in the cave, he had not truly been himself. Although it was enjoyable, it was far from this romantic blissful coupling that she was enjoying now with her new husband. After a wonderfully long time, Vincent cried out as he climaxed, as did Catherine. It had been beyond her wildest expectations for their Ďfirstí time.

Vincent rolled over so that he had Catherine lying on top of him. He didnít want to crush her beneath his weight, although he had been doing just that for many long minutes.

"Caroline, that was wonderful. I have little experience in physical love, but I do know that what we shared was beautiful."

Catherine smiled and kissed her new husband. "Yes, it was beautiful and it will only get better as we become more accustomed to each otherís wants and desires. Iím so happy, but very sleepy. Do you mind if we rest for a while?"

Chapter 14

Vincent was very tired as well and was happy to hold his wife in his arms as they fell into blissful slumber. When Vincent began to awaken, the first thing he noticed was that he could feel a flutter along the Ďbondí. He lay there very still and tried to figure out what he was sensing.

Caroline was still lying beside him warm and naked in his arms. Was this coming from her? He sensed that it was. How could this be? This felt exactly like the bond he had experienced with Catherine. He probed along the bond as it gained in strength. Soon he was overwhelmed by the power of the bond pulsing between them. What was happening? This felt like more of a betrayal of Catherineís love than the physical act of love. He had never thought to regain the Ďbondí once he had lost it with Catherine, but to have regained it now with another woman. This revelation ruined the joy that he had shared previously with his new bride. He felt the hot tears sliding down his cheeks as he lay there in misery.

Catherine began to stir. She sensed before she looked at Vincent that something was very wrong. She rose up to look down at his tear stained cheeks. "What is it Vincent? What has you so sad?"

His chin quivered as he spoke the words to her that would end their marriage. "I feel that I have betrayed Catherine. Not in the physical love that we shared, but because I am feeling a bond with you that I have only felt once before in my life. I cannot bear to share this with you. I feel that in order to shut down this bond with you, I will have to distance myself physically from your presence."

Catherine knew that she would have to reveal herself to Vincent now even if it cost her very life. The entity had warned her that if she revealed who she was, it would cause her life to cease, but losing Vincent now would be worse than death.

"Vincent, why do you think that you sense this bond with me?"

Vincent cried out in anguish. "I donít know. I donít know."

Catherine stroked his chest. "Vincent, I have something I need to tell you and itís going to sound incredible, but itís true." Catherine rose up on one elbow so that she could look into Vincentís eyes as she spoke. "The woman that you loved before died in your arms. She was welcomed into the afterlife but was unable to pass into that peace because she wanted to remain with you, with a fierce desperation. After many months, her spirit was released to this earthly realm. Megan Reed died alone in that alley so that her spirit could join with her husband, daughter and parents. Catherineís spirit Ė my spirit - now resides in Meganís body and lives on. I remember everything Vincent. I am Catherine. I am terrified that I will cease to exist now that I have just found our happy life together. I want nothing more than to bear more children for you and be a mother to my son. I want it all." Catherine sobbed as she fell against Vincentís chest.

"Catherine, is it truly you? This seems all so unbelievable but the bond is telling me that itís true. How could this happen?"

Catherine and Vincent sat up and faced each other on the bed.

"I think it has something to do with the bond, Vincent. I think that it was left unfulfilled and the entity has allowed us to fulfill it now."

Just as Catherine was speaking these words, a presence was felt within the bond by both her and Vincent. It was a calming presence that spoke to them without words that everything would be all right now and that they deserved their happy life. No harm would come to Catherine even though she had ultimately revealed herself to Vincent.

"Vincent, did you feel that presence?"

Vincent reached out to touch his precious Catherineís cheek. "Yes, I felt it all. Weíve been given a second chance at love Ė a chance to right all the wrongs that were done to us by the cruel fates that befell our lives before. Out of Meganís tragedy some good has come. What should I call you? Youíre my Catherine but everyone knows you as Caroline."

Catherine nodded. "I like the name Caroline. It was my motherís. I would like to name a daughter Catherine when we have one. Honestly, I think it would be best if we keep this Ďresurrectioní just between the two of us. Itís hard enough for us to believe having the bond, let alone trying to explain it to anybody else."

Vincent leaned in to kiss Catherineís lips. "I agree. Your love has allowed us to have this second chance. I want to savor every moment. Can you forgive me for loving another before I knew that it was you?"

Catherine kissed Vincent back. "Oh, Vincent, I think that somehow, deep within, you must have known all along. My soul was calling out to yours. Our spirits were still bound by our love and just needed our bodies, yours and Meganís, to fulfill their wishes."

Vincent pulled Catherine to him and began to caress her body. "I donít want to waste any more of our honeymoon talking. Iíve waited many long years to have you as my wife."

Catherine stroked his chest as he continued his exploration. "You seem to enjoy this body. I must admit that I miss the one I was born with, but there is one thing that I like about this one that I didnít about my other one."

Vincent raised his head from her body and looked into her eyes. "And what is that my love?"

Catherine giggled. "Iíve got big boobs now." Vincent chuckled and leaned down to enjoy her bountiful breasts.

 

Second Chances

Part II

Kathy

Chapter 1

The honeymoon had ended, but their love affair was far from over. Catherine woke for the second time that night. The first time she had awakened, she had divulged to Vincent that even though she embodied a different body, she was in fact his Catherine. She had not died as the entity had warned at her revelation. In fact, the bond had been restored, and their love for each other had deepened beyond anything that had come before. Their joining the night before had been rejoiced by the entire community, and their rapturous loving afterward had been cause for a very intimate celebration indeed. Catherine, known to everyone but Vincent as Caroline, smiled down at her uniquely handsome husband. She loved him without measure. If it was true that memorable moments can shape the rest of your life, this was such a moment. Catherine knew at that moment that she and Vincent would endure and that death truly had no dominion over them. They had overcome death itself to continue together to fulfill their destiny.

Vincent awakened to find Catherine gazing into his eyes. Eyes filled with such love and desire that it took his breath away. He reached up to pull his beloved down for a kiss that surpassed all those that came before because it was a kiss born of the promise of their future together. He could feel through the bond Catherineís absolute certainty of their happy life. It was a humbling knowledge that Catherineís devotion to him had allowed their love to continue when his lack of courage before her death had caused such heartache. He had learned courage from this woman. She may no longer look like his Catherine, but her soul was the same. And one does not fall in love with the body, but the spirit, heart, mind and soul of another being. They were truly soul mates in every sense of the word. Catherineís very soul had reached through the plane of death to call out to Vincentís.

It was late that morning when Catherine and Vincent emerged from his chamber to retrieve their son. Jacob looked to Catherine and then to Vincent, not quite able to decide who he wished to hold him first. In the end, they reached out together and embraced as a family, placing kisses on Jacobís face that made him giggle with joy. They walked to the dining hall and sat down to enjoy a late breakfast. Jacob had already been fed but enjoyed another muffin. He was growing very fast, promising to be every bit as tall and muscular as his father even though he shared his motherís features rather than his fatherís.

"I think we should have planned a longer honeymoon. If I had known that such pleasures could be found by remaining in oneís chamber, I think a month might not have been sufficient." Vincent whispered in Catherineís ear.

Catherine laughed and reached for Vincentís hand. "We always have the nights together. We will need to move Jacob out of our chamber, but Iím sure that can be arranged easily enough. Shall we see Mary or Olivia about keeping Jacob at night until we can add a separate room to your chamber for Jacob?"

Vincent leaned over to kiss his bride lightly on the lips. "I think thatís a fine idea." Jacob, not to be forgotten demanded that he needed a kiss as well. Catherine and Vincent quickly appeased Jacob with several sloppy kisses.

Father, as well as many others had secretly been somewhat surprised that Vincent had found another love. Everyone knew that it was in Jacobís best interest that he have a mother to raise and nurture him, but for Vincent to actually fall in love with someone other than Catherine Ė unthinkable. There were those who while happy for Vincent, were saddened to think that he and Catherineís love could be replaced. Perhaps it was because Caroline was so much like Catherine that made it easier for Vincent to fall in love with her. She was from a rich family. She was highly educated in the law, no less. She was beautiful, sophisticated and had a warm and generous spirit. If not for her looks, one could easily imagine that she was Catherine.

The extra room was started the next day. Kanin felt that with Vincent and he working together, they could have it completed in about two weeks. Catherine had inquired about a door being added to their chamber entrance in lieu of the curtain. She wasnít quite comfortable with just a curtain separating their amorous actions and possible peering eyes. It was agreed that a door would be added, as well as one between their bedroom and Jacobís. With that decided; Kanin and Vincent set off to work.

 

Chapter 2

Catherine decided that it was time to add some new experiences to their sexual repertoire. Vincent, being the innocent that he was, knew about sex, but only from what he had read, primarily in Fatherís medical manuals. He had been having some wildly erotic dreams and fantasies about their loving, but would never have initiated anything which he thought that Catherine might think too base to perform. While satisfying to say the least, their sexual encounters had remained somewhat tame. Catherine came to their bed that night and proclaimed that Vincent must do her sexual bidding for a week. No matter what she asked of him, he must comply. Vincent had laughed and heartily agreed.

That night Catherine proclaimed. "Strip down, Vincent. I want you completely naked and standing before me."

Vincent had been naked with Catherine, but to stand before her stark naked for her perusal made him both aroused and apprehensive.

Sensing Vincentís unease, Catherine reassured him. "Vincent, I promise you that very soon you wonít even think about your nakedness. You will only be wondering what sensual delight might be awaiting you next." Vincent stood before Catherine naked and fully aroused. Catherine sat on the edge of the bed with only a satin robe covering her body. It was obvious she was aroused as well since her nipples were straining against the fabric of her robe. She loosened the belt of her robe and spread her legs provocatively. "Come here Vincent. I want to touch you. I am going to touch you but you canít touch me until I say. You must stay completely still. Do you understand?"

Vincent moved within inches of Catherineís sitting form. Catherine reached out and rubbed her hands up and down along Vincentís thighs feeling the silky hair and the strong muscles beneath. She moaned with appreciation of his body. "Oh Vincent, you feel so wonderful and your penis looks so very delicious. I think I must have a taste."

Vincentís face revealed his shock at her words but he remained completely still. Catherine continued her stroking of Vincentís thighs while leaning toward Vincent and licking his turgid length up one side and then down the other. She repeated this over and over until Vincent thought he was going to lose his mind with the effort of standing still under this onslaught of sensuality. Just when he thought he couldnít take one more lick, she took the end of his penis into her mouth and began to torment the end with the tip of her tongue. After what was both torture and delight, she took a large portion of Vincentís length into her mouth and began to suck. She removed her hands from Vincentís thighs and placed them on his buttocks for more leverage. The sensation of Catherineís warm mouth enclosing his penis was pure heaven. He wanted to lean his head back but couldnít remove his eyes from the vision of her performing oral sex on him. This had been one of his secret fantasies but never hoped to actually experience it. She stopped sucking and Vincent nearly groaned at the loss of that warm mouth on his hot flesh. She started licking again.

"Vincent, lean down here. I want you to taste yourself on my lips. Youíre fairly dripping with anticipation and I want to share your taste with you."

Vincent leaned down to kiss Catherine but Catherine had further commands. "Donít kiss me, Vincent, I just want you to lick my lips and suck on my tongue until there is no more of your taste left." Vincent began to lick Catherineís lips and found a unique taste that must be his semen. It was salty and musky. It wasnít unpleasant and it aroused him further. He licked and sucked until he could detect no more of his taste. He was struggling to hold back his climax. He was so close but he didnít want this torture to end.

"Now Vincent, I think I must taste you some more. Come to me and place your penis in my mouth without using your hands." Catherine opened her mouth wide and waited as Vincent aimed his turgid flesh into her mouth. She took him into her warm mouth and he waited for her to begin sucking again. After a few torturous seconds, she pulled away from him. "I want you to move your penis in and out of my mouth as you would my vagina. You canít use your hands. Okay, now come back to me."

Vincent placed his thick flesh back into Catherineís waiting mouth but this time he began a pumping motion that felt like nothing he had ever experienced before. Catherineís eyes never left Vincentís face as she watched his expressions as he took in the sight of his flesh pumping into her mouth. Over and over he rocked his hips in an ever increasing pace as he sought his release. When it came he cried out and brought his hands up to hold Catherineís head as he emptied into her mouth. After what had been the most erotic sexual experience of his life, Vincent was surprised that he was still capable of standing.

Catherine was looking at him with a look of smug satisfaction on her face. "I knew that you would enjoy that. I imagine that youíre not too worried about standing there naked anymore. You can sit beside me now and rest.

He sat beside Catherine and felt a sense of lethargy come over him. He had been so very tense that now that he was relaxed, he felt that he might very well collapse into a puddle.

"Why donít we get some sleep now?" Catherine urged him to lie down with her hands.

Vincent could barely keep his eyes open but tried to argue. "But, Catherine, what about you? I want to please you."

Catherine pressed him back on the bed. "Itís okay, Vincent; I enjoyed loving you very much, and have lots more ideas for the future. Donít worry about me. Iíll have plenty of opportunity for fulfillment."

 

Chapter 3

When Catherine woke up the next morning Vincent was smiling down at her. He reached down and grabbed her hand and placed it on his rock hard erection. "Catherine, I know that Jacob will awaken soon, but could we please make love? I have been lying here for a while trying to get this erection to go away, but my thoughts keep straying to our loving last night; and thatís hardly the type of thought that I need to reduce this swelling at my groin."

Catherine gave Vincent a wicked smile. "Letís fulfill another of my fantasies then, shall we? Itís still my week you know and this is my second fantasy of seven." Catherine reached over and removed the covers from their bodies. "Okay, I want you to begin stroking yourself, and no arguments. Itís my fantasy and itís not up for debate."

Catherine knew full well that Vincent would be reluctant to masturbate in front of her but she was very excited to watch him pleasure himself.

Vincent reached down and placed his hand around his penis and began to slowly stroke himself.

"How does that feel, Vincent? Describe it to me."

Vincentís breath caught. "It feels hot, hard and pulsating."

Catherine groaned at his description. "Now place your other hand down on your testicles and tell me how they feel."

Again, Vincent moved his hand as Catherine instructed. "They are heavy and warm and furry." Vincent moved his hand away from his heavy sac, but Catherine wasnít going to let him off so easy. "No, keep one hand on your warm testicles, massaging them while you continue to stroke your penis with the other hand." She wanted to keep him off balance and guessing. It would add to his excitement.

Vincent watched Catherine as she watched him pleasuring himself. He was uncomfortable at first but watching Catherineís growing excitement fueled his own and soon he was frantically stroking himself knowing that he was coming soon. His eyes were closed now as his entire focus was on his climax. He came with tremendous force and his semen appeared on his belly as jets of thick fluid pumped from him. When he was finally spent, he felt Catherineís warm lips and tongue on him. She was cleaning the semen off him with her mouth. He watched in fascination as she licked up every drop from his body.

She leaned over him and placed a hot open mouthed kiss on his lips. "I canít wait until tonight. I think youíll enjoy what Iíve planned."

Vincent merely groaned as he thought about what she might have in store for their evening. He might not survive this week, but what a way to go.

She got dressed, as did Vincent. She looked very proper in her beige slacks and tan sweater.

"Catherine, you look perfectly innocent, but I know that you are a very wanton woman."

She laughed. "Only with you, love, only with you."

Jacob was bathed and dressed by the time Vincent and Catherine arrived at Maryís chamber to retrieve their son. They looked very happy and content as they joined Father and Mary at the table for their morning meal.

"Mary, if you have some other things you need to do this morning, I think I can handle the little ones for a couple of hours on my own. Jacob is the most rambunctious of the bunch so itís no problem at all for me to watch them. I want you to know how very much Vincent and I appreciate you watching him for us until his room is complete."

Mary knew that Caroline had overheard her yesterday complaining to Olivia that she had lots of mending that needed attention. "Why, thank you, dear. I think Iíll take you up on your offer. There is no need to thank me for watching little Jacob. Heís a dear, even if he is a little rambunctious."

Vincent smiled at Mary and squeezed her hand before leaning down to kiss his wife goodbye for the day. He was going to work on Jacobís room today with Kanin. He hoped that he wouldnít get overly tired. He wanted to be ready for whatever Catherine had planned for their private time together that night.

 

Chapter 4

"Vincent, I want you to remove all my clothes but my panties. No kissing or fondling until I say."

Vincent began to undress Catherine. She had worn one of her most revealing bra and panty sets beneath her proper clothing. He had known what she had underneath those clothes, having watched her get dressed that morning. Once her last sock was removed, she lay back leaning on her elbows with just a wisp of cloth covering her crotch.

"Now go over to the armoire and get my black strappy high heels and bring them here."

He didnít know she owned any black strappy high heels, but he was going to look. When he spotted then, he brought them back to her.

"Place them on my feet and fasten the buckles around my ankles."

It took him a while, as his hands were shaking, but he finally accomplished his task. He was still fully clothed and was increasingly more uncomfortable as his straining erection pressed against the confines of his tight jeans.

Catherine got up and walked over to stand beside a chair. "Now unzip your pants and pull out your penis but donít remove any of your clothes."

Vincent unzipped his pants with a sigh, as the pressure was relieved from his hardened flesh.

Satisfied that Vincent was fully aroused, Catherine leaned over as she supported herself with the chair.

Her beautiful bottom was prominently displayed to Vincent and he licked his lips at the sight.

"Now slice off my panties with your claws and thrust your shaft into me. I want you to take me fast and hard."

Vincent was again shocked that this was something that Catherine had fantasized about. It seemed that she had invaded his secret longings and was fulfilling them one by one. He placed one arm around Catherineís waist and pressed her shoulders down even more as he positioned himself behind her. Once she was in position, he reached down and sliced off her panties then guided his penis to her waiting core with his hand. He entered her with one quick thrust and then placed both hands on her hip bones and began to pump. He withdrew almost completely each time and then thrust back into her hard. There was a slapping sound each time their flesh met which fueled him on as he drove into Catherine over and over. She was moaning and pushing her buttocks back against him now at each thrust. Soon he just couldnít hold out any longer and filled her with his milky essence. Vincent leaned over Catherine and held her breasts in his hands as they both caught their breath.

"You can undress now Vincent. I think we could both use some rest. I have more plans for tomorrow night. You must keep up your strength."

,

Chapter 5

After dinner the next evening, Vincent watched as Catherine went over to Olivia and spoke very quietly. Olivia looked over at him and then smiled as she nodded her head.

Catherine walked over to Vincent and leaned over to whisper into his ear. "Olivia is going to watch Jacob for us tonight". She grabbed Vincentís hand and led him from the dining hall as many in the community watched. It wasnít hard to imagine that they were going back to their chamber to be intimate. Rather than going to their chamber, however, Catherine led Vincent to his bathing chamber. She placed lanterns at the entrances to ensure their privacy and then began to disrobe.

"Take off your clothes, please. I have been very dirty, and am in need of a bath; and only you can give me the kind of bath which I desire. I have some special bathing supplies waiting over there for you to gather."

Vincent stripped off his clothes and went over to the bathing supplies she had provided for their special bath, along with a couple of thick towels.

"Wait here for me." Catherine stepped into the warm pool until she submerged up to her neck. Once she was wet all over, she emerged from the pool and lay down along the side in a pose that was far from subtle in its intent. "Come and soap up my body. Every inch of my body requires attention."

Vincent sat on the edge of the pool so that he could dampen his hands before reaching for the bar of soap. This soap had an extremely creamy feel which must have been aloe. It was very rich and felt luxurious on his hands. He was sure that Catherine had selected it because it wouldnít irritate her delicate tissues. He began to smooth it over Catherineís skin beginning at her fingertips and moving up her arms. He continued down the other arm and then started on her torso. Her breasts got lots of extra attention, especially the nipples. He moved down her legs, paying particular attention to each toe. When he reached her feminine folds, he carefully lathered each lovely inch as he felt her natural lubrication mix with the mild soap as he gave her this sensual bath. When he was done with her front, he gently rolled her over. He stared at her curved buttocks and remembered how he had taken her last night. He moaned as that memory hit him with a flush of heat that had him craving her as a starving man craves food. He lathered up his hands and began to rub them over her shoulders and down her back. When he reached her bottom, he smoothed the lather over and over her soft flesh and along the cleft between. He finally moved on down to her legs savoring each inch of her silky skin.

"Now that youíre done soaping my body, you need to soap up as well. Iím going to be stingy with the soap, so you must rub your body against mine in order to share my lather.

Vincent lay his body down on top of Catherineís back and rubbed his body against her slick one. She felt so good as he pressed his erection into the cleft of her bottom. He used a restraint he didnít know he possessed to keep himself from entering her body.

"Okay, now you can rub against my front."

He complied and once again used all of his formidable will power to keep from thrusting into her slick sheath.

"Now pick me up and carry me into the pool. I want to rinse off this soap and have you wash my hair."

He carried her to the pool and rinsed off her body with care. He poured shampoo into his hands and began to lather her long tresses. Once he was done, Catherine ordered him to get his hair wet.

"Come sit on this step so I can reach your hair. I want to feel the silky strands in my hands." Catherine took a long time washing his hair and when she was done, she leaned him back and rinsed all of the soap out. "Move up to the next step please."

Vincent sat up on the next step which left only his legs in the water. Catherine climbed up on Vincent and mounted him without so much as a word. "Iím going to have my way with you Vincent. I love the way you feel inside me. Iím so hot for you. I desire you every moment of the day."

He reached up and began rolling her nipple between his thumb and forefinger. Catherine did the same to him as she began to slide up and down on his erection while moving slightly in a circular motion. When she became tired, she instructed Vincent to assist. He reached out and helped Catherine move up and down on his shaft. It didnít take long before they found their mutual release.

 

Chapter 6

The next evening found them ready to fulfill Catherineís fifth fantasy. Again, she had enlisted Oliviaís help to watch Jacob for the night. The tunnel community was fairly abuzz about Caroline and Vincentís sex life. The guys had started to tease Vincent about his sexual prowess, but he only gave them a smile. After years of celibacy, it was fun to be regarded with envy for having so much hot sex. What a concept. Catherine had many candles burning and a tape player playing a slow song by a male vocalist with a smooth deep voice that Vincent was not familiar with. After they both were completely nude, she reached out her arms and Vincent came into them.

"Dance with me."

They began a slow and sensual dance that both aroused and soothed. Catherine reached up and pulled Vincentís lips to hers and continued to dance as they enjoyed the feel of their skin sliding against each other and the feel of their soft kisses. They danced that way for a long time, but when the music stopped, Catherine led him toward the bed. She lay back and brought Vincent down to her. They continued to kiss and touch as they had while they were dancing.

"Come inside me now Vincent. I need you." He entered her and began slow sensual movements while mimicking his slow thrusts with his tongue. Catherine had desired a romantic evening this night, and she had gotten one. It hadnít been wild, but it had definitely been erotic.

 

Chapter 7

It was her sixth fantasy and Vincent was sorry that their fantasy week was nearing its end. He had desired Catherine for years but had never thought to have his desire fulfilled. And now, to realize that sex was so much more than he could have imagined, was a true blessing. He had been in a constant state of arousal since the day of the wedding. Even when he didnít consciously know that it was Catherine that he would be bedding, he shamefully admitted to himself, the thought of being intimate with a woman had inflamed his senses. He was amazed at how much control he had exercised over himself all those years to sublimate his natural sexual desire. Could that have been the cause of his breakdown? Perhaps in part. This sexual desire was a powerful force Ė to keep it under control must have taken a great deal of mental strain.

"Good evening, lover. I just got your son down for the night, and heís asking for his father to come tuck him in as well."

Vincent walked over to Catherine and gave her a quick kiss. "Iíll be right back. Iím sorry I wasnít available when you took Jacob to Mary. I wanted to finish up smoothing the stone on a small section of Jacobís room that we worked on today. It should be finished by tomorrow."

Vincent strode out of the chamber and Catherine watched as he walked away. She was so happy. Not only were she and Vincent in love, married and raising their son, their sex life had turned out to be nothing short of phenomenal. He was virile, had tremendous stamina and his Ďequipmentí was quite impressive. She was hopeful that this fantasy week would help Vincent lose some of his inhibitions and feel more open about asking for what he wanted between them. He had been much more willing to do the things she had asked of him than she would have previously believed. All in all she thought it had been a roaring success so far.

When Vincent got back, Catherine had changed into a very sheer black gown. She had many candles burning and was playing more of that soft sexy music from last night. It certainly set the mood.

"Come Vincent, get undressed for me. I want to see all of your glorious body."

Thankful that he had stopped off for a very quick bath before returning from tucking in Jacob, he stripped off his clothes.

"There is a small bottle of massage oil on the table. Please bring it to me."

He grabbed the bottle and closed the gap between them in two strides. He pulled her close and kissed her with a force that revealed all of his pent up passion from the day. He needed her badly this evening. He was painfully aroused.

"You may remove my gown if you like."

Vincent wasted no time being rid of the garment, sheer though it might be, it kept him from feeling her soft skin directly with his hands. He reached for her again and pressed her against his straining flesh. Catherine gently pushed Vincent away from her body and lie on the bed.

"Come, sit down by my feet on the mattress for a while where you may see me but canít touch." Vincent groaned but complied.

Catherine took the small bottle of oil and squeezed some into her hands and rubbed them together. She gave him a sultry stare and placed her hands on her breasts. She began a slow sensual massage of her breasts and then moved to her nipples. She teased the nipples to hard peaks between her thumb and forefinger. She was making low moaning sounds and undulating her hips as she continued to fondle her breasts.

Vincent was sure he was going to burst any second if he wasnít allowed to take her. Just when he didnít think he couldnít take any more, she moved from her breasts down to her dark curls. She ran her fingers through the curls several times and then reached down further between her legs. She opened her legs wide so Vincent had an up-close and personal view of her most intimate area. She spread the folds with her fingers as she stroked the engorged tissue. She placed two of her fingers into her vagina and began to moan louder as she raised her hips up and down as she moved her fingers in and out of herself. Vincent was panting loudly now. "Vincent, give me your hand."

Vincent held out his hand and she poured some of the oil onto his palm.

She set the bottle aside and resumed touching herself. She used one hand now to fondle her vagina and one of her fingers on her other hand on her clitoris. She began to stimulate her clitoris as she was continuing the stroking of her fingers in and out of her vagina.

"Vincent, please begin to stroke yourself."

He was so aroused that he began to vigorously stroke his hardened shaft as he continued to watch Catherineís actions with rapt attention. She was writhing and moaning now as she came close to orgasm. Once Vincent had begun to stroke himself, it seemed to ignite her passion further. Soon she cried out as she found her release. Vincent had held back.

Once she cried out, he released his penis and quickly reached down and grasped Catherineís legs and pulled her up so that her bottom was on his thighs. He rose up slightly on his knees and thrust his penis into her moist core. He began to drive into her forcefully. He was so close to climax. Just a few pumps and he cried out as he filled her.

 

Chapter 8

On their last night Vincent found a note waiting for him rather than Catherine. He opened it and read its contents.

Come find me. Untold delights await the person who reads this letter and finds the prize waiting for him. I hope he is handsome, strong and virile Ė whoever he might be.

Vincent chuckled. With the bond back, Catherine knew that he could easily find her. She was making this last night special by making it into a sort of game. He loved her so. She was playful and sexy at the same time. Last night had nearly driven him mad. Watching her pleasuring herself had been so much more erotic than he could have imagined. Sharing that experience with her had stripped away a lot of his deeply held beliefs about sex and what might be appropriate between lovers. He was beginning to realize that when you passionately loved someone, there was really no reason to deny your desires. He knew that he and Catherine would never do anything to harm or embarrass the other. While he might have been somewhat uncomfortable performing some of the things Catherine had asked of him this past week, they had been stimulating and quite liberating. He had almost reached his destination as he continued to ponder this past glorious week.

He arrived at the chamber of the falls and saw that Catherine was sitting on a blanket with wine, strawberries and chocolate laid out as an offering. He quickly came to the blanket and sat down beside her. "Could you open the champagne, love? I believe it should be chilled to perfection." Vincent noted that it was Dom Perignon which he had heard about but had never tried. He knew that she had been up shopping a couple of times this past week. She must have picked up the wine then. Once the cork had been popped and the chilled wine poured into glasses, they took their first sips. "This is marvelous, Catherine. Iíve had champagne for New Yearís celebrations a few times when helpers brought it down, but nothing to compare with this." Catherine took another sip and lowered her glass. "Itís my favorite. Iíll make sure to keep some on hand for the times when we want to have a Ďspecialí picnic." Catherine reached for a juicy strawberry and held it out for Vincent to bite. It was delicious. She continued to feed herself and Vincent strawberries and taking sips of the champagne. When the strawberries were all gone, she moved to the chocolate. "This is Belgium chocolate. It is dark and rich and delicious. She placed a piece of the chocolate between her lips and leaned over toward Vincent clearly offering for him to take it. His lips met hers briefly as he took the sweet. It was indeed delicious. He allowed it to melt on his tongue so he could savor the flavor fully. When the chocolate was all gone, they both sighed. They finished off the bottle of champagne between soft kisses and lay down on the blanket and stared into each otherís eyes. She began to remove Vincentís clothing in a slow unhurried seductive manner while continuing to stare into his eyes. Once he was completely stripped, she asked for him to remove hers. He took his time maintaining eye contact as she had. "Now Vincent, I want you to kiss my lips. I want to feel your tongue and teeth on every part leaving no crevice or depth unexplored." As Vincent began to lean toward her mouth, she shook her head. "Not those lips Vincent." Catherine spread her knees in invitation, and Vincent moaned as he moved his head between her legs. He looked up into Catherineís eyes and then back to her glistening folds. He could smell her arousal. It was wafting in waves off her flesh. He leaned down and tasted some of the moisture with his tongue. It was heavenly. She tasted different than he had on her lips that day. He began to slowly lick each and every crevice as she had instructed. Her thigh muscles were quivering her need was so great. He began to enter her core with his tongue. He pushed into her as far as he could go and stroked in and out. He was holding her folds open with his thumbs. Now he left her vagina and began to suckle on her clitoris. He would suckle and then flick that bundle of nerves with his tongue. She was thrashing and writhing with such force, that Vincent was having some difficulty maintaining his ministrations on her flesh without fear of scratching her with his claws as he tried to hold her still. Just when he thought he was going to have to release her, she screamed out as she reached the peak of her orgasm. Her scream was so primal that it set off Vincentís climax, and he roared loudly as his seed pumped from him.

"Iíve never heard you roar in passion before, Vincent. It was wonderful."

Vincent had been a little embarrassed at first that he had roared, but obviously she enjoyed it. "I couldnít contain it. It came from a very deep and primal need. You were pretty primal yourself."

Catherine nodded. "Iíve never felt so free to express myself as I am with you Ė not only sexually but in every facet of my emotions. I didnít feel that before with you Ė not before my death. I had to hold my feelings so close for fear that I would frighten you away. Did you know that?"

Vincent lowered his head. "Yes, I could sense your restraint and for that I am eternally sorrowful. I hurt you terribly by trying to protect you from myself. That pain was far worse than any wound I might have inadvertently inflected on you during passion. Iím sorry. Can you ever forgive me?"

Catherine tenderly touched Vincentís face. "There is nothing to forgive. Itís who you were at the time and no amount of words on my part could have changed you. It was the experience of our loss that freed our emotions. Iím not sure that we would be the way we are now had we not experienced such sorrow."

Vincent pulled her close. "Perhaps, but it was a hard path we took to arrive at this place."

 

Chapter 9

Jacobís chamber was completed, and he got moved in. Catherine had shopped for Jacob when she went up top and pulled out all of the goodies to display around the room. There were plush toys, new clothes and a small rocking chair just right for Jacob to sit in while he looked through his little books. Catherine had some new furniture delivered to a helperís storeroom, and with Cullen and Mouseís help, they had gotten it brought down and set up in the room. The bed was a sleigh style in dark wood and she had bought blue linens and a comforter in a blue and white stripe that looked very expensive. She had also ordered a larger rocking chair, one for herself to sit in as she held Jacob in the evenings to read him a story. She loved their time together. She knew that Vincent had performed this ritual before she came back, but he had joyously allowed her to assume that loving rite.

His heart burst with love and pride at the sight of his two most cherished gifts in life. Catherineís words came back to haunt him when he thought of Jacob as a gift. She had tried to tell him about Jacob that last day together. He had been so caught up in his own misery, and she had tried so hard to protect his feelings, that she never got to tell him until it was too late. What a fool he had been Ė but no more.

 

Chapter 10

The only unpleasant event of their first month together as a married couple came when Diana came for a visit. Vincent had not thought to invite Diana to the wedding. In truth, Lin and Henry were the only helpers invited. Catherine wanted Lin there because without her help, she would have had a much harder time getting below. Vincent was at first very happy when he heard the announcement of Dianaís arrival. Vincent rose from his seat as she entered his chamber and smiled in welcome.

Diana surveyed the room. Her smile faltered as she noticed the evidence that a woman must be sharing his bed. There were a couple of sexy bras hanging to dry on a drying rack by Vincentís armoire. A pair of heels was lying beside the bed, and there were fresh cut flowers in a vase sitting in the middle of the table. Many of the oddities that had cluttered Vincentís chamber before had been removed. It was also brighter, cleaner and smelled faintly of perfume. Vincent sensed the change in mood immediately.

"Diana, wonít you have a seat? Iíll fix us some tea and we can visit. I have some wonderful news to share." Vincent poured some tea for Diana from a pot kept warm under a cozy. "Caroline and I have joined. She and I are very happy together." He watched her face closely to get a sense of what she was feeling.

"Vincent, how could you! This woman lied to you. She wasnít who she said she was and youíve only known her for a few months. She is mentally unstable and might be a danger to Jacob." Diana began to cry. "Besides, if you wanted a wife, why didnít you ask me?" Diana looked up into Vincentís eyes as tears fell down her cheeks. Vincent reached out and took Dianaís hand in his as he spoke the words that broke her heart.

"Diana, I am in love with Caroline. As much as we might have wished it so, I never felt love for you Ė only friendship. I didnít intend to fall in love. You know that I never thought there would be another after Catherine. Iím sorry that youíve been hurt by my actions, but believe me when I tell you that Caroline is no danger to me or to Jacob. She is kind and loving and good. Weíre going to have a long and happy life together."

Diana rose to leave.

"Diana, please stay for a while. We can visit and you can see Jacob."

Diana shook her head. "Perhaps some other day, Vincent. Just not today. I need to leave."

It saddened Vincent, for he realized as Diana walked from his chamber that he would never see her again. When Vincent shared his visit with Catherine that evening, she patted his back, for she knew how grieved he was to have lost a good friend. Friendships were very important to Vincent, and this woman had been instrumental in helping to find Jacob when he despaired of ever finding his son. He owed Diana a great debt but couldnít give her what she most desired Ė Vincentís romantic love.

 

Chapter 11

When Jacobís second birthday came, it was a time for rejoicing on one hand and a time for reflection on the other. Vincent and Catherine couldnít quite get past the fact that Jacobís birthday and her death were the same day. They took some quiet time alone in the afternoon to shed a few tears and embrace each other fiercely. They made passionate love to celebrate their victory over death, even though it made them late to join their tunnel family who had gathered for Jacobís party. When they arrived Catherineís lips were swollen and Vincentís hair was a little mussed. It was obvious that they had been making love. Jacob had spent the afternoon with his grandpa Jacob and honorary grandma Mary. He was enjoying being the center of attention. William had baked a chocolate cake in his honor, since it was his very favorite flavor. Jacob received a few handmade gifts which he loved, except for the clothes which he opened and then threw aside. Catherine thanked everyone warmly for their thoughtfulness and laughed as she noted Jacobís disinterest in clothing.

"Jacob would run around naked if we let him. He has run out of our chamber more than once without a stitch of clothing on his little body." Everyone laughed, and Father confirmed her story, as Jacob had come running into his chamber on more than one occasion wearing only a smile. The day was a happy one once they got past their initial sorrow of the terrible day.

 

Chapter 12

A few months before Jacobís third birthday, Catherine came up behind Vincent and wrapped her arms around him. He turned in her embrace and leaned down to kiss her lips.

"Your emotions are very strong today. I can feel them across the bond. Tell me. What has stirred you so?"

Catherine guided Vincent over to his chair and asked him to sit down. She sat upon his lap and looked deeply into his eyes. "Vincent, how do you feel about receiving another gift?"

The knowledge of what she was telling him dawned on him and he began to tear up as the joy of this news filled his soul. "Weíre going to have another baby?"

Catherine nodded as tears began to course down her cheeks as well.

"Are you sure, have you seen Father?"

Once again Catherine nodded. "I suspected it, and Father confirmed it a little while ago. I asked him not to say anything until I was able to tell you myself." She smiled then through her tears. "Iím about eight weeks along. I didnít think too much about missing one period, thatís happened before, but when I missed two, I just knew. Iím surprised that you didnít know before me."

Vincent hugged her close. "I havenít felt the bond too clearly lately. I hadnít thought much about it. I think your pregnancy is interfering with the bond. That must have been what happened the first time you were pregnant. Thatís why the bond was disrupted."

Vincent suddenly seemed very frightened. "Promise me that until the baby is born and the bond restored to its full force that you wonít leave the tunnels." The look on his face was filled with such terror that Catherine would never have thought to refuse him.

"I promise. Although, Iím not working for the DA any longer and nobody even knows that Iím Catherine Chandler. But if you feel it is necessary, then I agree."

Vincent let out the breath he didnít realize he was holding. "Do you have any sense of whether it is a boy or a girl? You told me that you knew that Jacob was a boy throughout your first pregnancy."

Catherine nodded. "I feel that this baby is a girl. I hope so. If it is, and you agree, I think that would make our family complete. Iím almost thirty five years old. Complications in pregnancy rise significantly after thirty six. I donít want to push our luck. Things have been too good to test the fates now."

Vincent held her tighter against him. "I guess Iíll be thirty seven soon. These past two years since you came back to me have been the happiest of my life. I would welcome many children but two is plenty for me as well. If itís a girl, weíll stop. Do you still want to name her Catherine?"

Catherine nodded. "Yes, I think that would be a good idea, not only would it make sense to everyone that you were honoring the memory of Jacobís mother, but you keep slipping and calling me Catherine even when weíre not alone. With a daughter named Catherine, the slips would be understandable, especially in your advancing years."

Vincent chuckled. "So you think Iím getting old? How about I prove to you that Iím not so very old after all." And he did Ė twice.

Second Chances

Part III

Kathy

Chapter 1

"I can see that he is ill, Father. What I want to know is why? What is causing the fever and cough? Itís been a week. If it were a simple cold or the flu, he should be getting better. Heís not." Catherine wrung her hands and paced the floor in the chamber she shared with Vincent and their two children. "If anything, heís worse. He has no strength, and his breathing is labored. I canít lose him Ė not again."

Father caught the Ďnot againí at the end of her anguished plea, even though it had been no more than a whisper. He had never quite figured out what to make of Caroline. The one thing he knew without question was her love and devotion to Vincent, Jacob and little Catherine. For what must have been the millionth time, he mused that if it were not for her appearance, he would have sworn that this was Catherine, not Caroline standing before him. Granted her voice was different as well, but truly not that much. The choice of words, the sentence structure and the inflection were all so much like Catherineís. It was uncanny. Shaking himself, he focused on the problem at hand. "Peter is bringing down a new portable x-ray machine today. Weíre going to check out his lungs. They sound like they are filling with fluid. It could be pneumonia. Weíll know once we get the panels."

Catherine moaned. "What then? Can he take the necessary medicines to clear the fluid from his lungs? I know that he doesnít tolerate medicines well."

That was the real question, the one which Father didnít know the answer to. Vincent had always been able to heal before without drug intervention. He had tried a few when Vincent was very small; but he had experienced a very negative reaction to them. Father had been reluctant to try again, not knowing what medicines and at what dosage might be effective or lethal. Vincent was extremely large and strong but his body chemistry was very unique. He didnít catch the normal strains of colds and flu which afflicted the rest of the tunnel population. He had never had measles, chicken pox or mumps even though no inoculation had been given. He hadnít contracted the plague which had killed little Ellie. Father just wasnít prepared for an illness such as this. He was at the limit of his medical expertise.

"Jacob, Caroline, how is he?" Peter had just stepped in and went over to examine Vincent without waiting for a response.

"Heís not better. If anything, I think heís worse."

Peter turned to listen to Caroline as she spoke. "Letís set up the machine. Weíll need several menís help to get Vincent to the hospital chamber. I canít perform the x-ray here. The generator is there and I have to have quite a bit of power to operate the machine." Father summoned four men to come and assist in Vincentís transport. When the men started to pick Vincent up, he awakened. He was confused at first but finally let the men carry him to the chamber. It was a sure sign of Vincentís weakened condition that he didnít try to walk there. Catherine was so very frightened.

"Itís pneumonia, at least I think it is. Itís hard to tell for sure without doing cultures but thatís not possible under the circumstances. Normally I would administer a combination of several drugs and a breathing treatment. One thing is for sure, heís not getting better."

Catherine listened as Peter spoke. A thought had been brewing in the back of her mind for the last two days. She knew that it would be difficult to accomplish and that Father would have a fit, but she thought it the best course of treatment under the circumstances.

"Peter, do you think Vincent would be better away from these damp tunnels?"

Peter nodded. "Thereís no doubt that this damp air is doing him no good. Do you have a suggestion?"

Catherine hesitated for a second and then spoke "The Foster family has a cottage in Maine. It was the one property that I didnít have sold because I thought it so very lovely. It is near the seashore and is very secluded. This time of year the weather would be ideal. There is lots of sunshine and fresh air. I want to take him there."

Father had overheard her suggestion and came bustling into the hospital chamber. "Have you completely lost your mind? Vincent canít leave the tunnels. Itís too dangerous. What if somebody saw him? You canít manage anyway. Heís too heavy and he canít walk right now. Itís impossible."

Catherine let Father rant until he had lost steam. "I know it is risky, but so is leaving him in this condition with no treatment. Iíll rent a limousine and have two of the men drive us up and help to get Vincent into the cottage. Iíll make sure that the back glass is darkly tinted on the limousine. I can have food delivered."

Father looked furious. Peter looked intrigued. "I think it might do him a lot of good Jacob. I think we should let Caroline try." Father merely turned and strode out of the chamber.

In the end, Catherine got her way. A limousine was rented. Vincent was carried out to the car and placed into the back seat, and Kanin and Cullen were enlisted to help get Vincent to the cottage. The drive was started in the dead of night but it was early afternoon before they actually arrived. Catherine had called ahead and had a local cleaning service open the house and air it out. At their suggestion, another service had brought in food and cleaning supplies. Everything was set. Catherine insisted that the men stay and have something to eat before driving back to turn in the car. The children had been left with Father. Although Vincent loved them dearly, Catherine needed all of her strength to deal with Vincentís convalescence. A five year old and sixteen month old baby was quite a handful. The men had helped Catherine set up a bed in the living room on the first floor. There was a bathroom on that floor so they wouldnít need to go upstairs for any reason. The service had done a good job filling the cabinets and refrigerator with food that would be easy and quick to prepare. They must have known about Catherineís cooking ability.

Vincent began to improve almost immediately much to Catherineís relief. After the first day he had been able to sit up for a while and had actually eaten a few bites. The next day he insisted on walking to the bathroom. He was truly embarrassed that Catherine had been relegated to nursemaid by his weakness. He could only seem to stay awake for an hour or so at a time; but his breathing was becoming less labored, and his fever had definitely lessened. Catherine was so pleased that he was improving so rapidly. After a week, he was able to sit out on the porch with her and watch the waves splash along the coast and the seagulls swoop down to catch fish. He was enjoying himself tremendously. By the second week, he was walking along the coastline with Catherine at least once a day. They had even made love the night before, which had been one activity they had both truly missed.

"Thank you for bringing me here Catherine. It must have been difficult to arrange."

They were sitting on the porch watching the sun go down. "Not so difficult, and besides, it was worth it to see you sitting out here in the sunshine. You know I never gave up on the notion of getting you to that cabin in the woods, but this is actually better. I love the ocean."

Vincent sighed. "What happened to your cabin in Connecticut?"

Catherine shrugged. "I only know from a conversation I had with Peter that all of my assets were sold off and put into a trust for Jacob. Peter was the executor of my estate so; with the help of my Dadís law partners, everything was done properly Iím sure. Peter said that he filed a birth certificate for Jacob with the State of New York and has secured him a social security number. We should make sure that the same thing is done for little Catherine. I can set up a trust for her with Meganís money to secure her future much as my money has secured Jacobís."

Vincent had sat quietly while Catherine had spoken of the loss of all of her property and belongings with detachment. He knew from the bond that she wasnít as unaffected as she appeared. "Iím sorry that you lost the cabin, apartment and all of your pretty clothes and furnishings. Perhaps Peter kept a few mementos to be given to Jacob. We should ask him."

Catherine perked at that suggestion. "Thatís an excellent suggestion. He probably did. I would love for little Catherine to have my egg collection." She settled back in her chair and sighed. "Vincent, I would like to find a brownstone in the city for us to live in when we get back. I know we could find one near the park with tunnel access. If I could find such a place, would you agree to live there at least on a part time basis?"

Vincent sat and silently pondered Catherineís question. "I suppose so, as long as we could secure our safety. Wouldnít a home such as that be terribly expensive?"

Catherine nodded. "Yes, probably, but Megan was very rich once the homes were sold and the insurance policies paid out. There were several million dollars placed into CDís and other financial instruments. There was also a fund established for my living expenses that I have barely touched. Itís accumulated to a hefty sum. We could renovate with that sum alone and probably buy quite a lot of furniture. Iím excited to check it out."

Vincent seemed pensive. "Why now? Are you not happy in the tunnels any longer?"

Catherine reached for Vincentís hand. "No Vincent, thatís not it at all. I just think that the dry air might do your lungs good. Iím beginning to wonder if you might have developed an allergy to the mold and fungus thatís so pervasive in the tunnels. You know that more than one tunnel resident has had to leave because of that very thing."

Vincent nodded. "But Iíve never been bothered by it before."

Catherine leaned back in her chair, relaxing a bit. "Adults can develop allergies any time in their life. Itís fairly common. Weíll have to see how you react when we get back. If you have another flare up, weíll know for sure."

Catherine and Vincent stayed a month before Catherine got word to a helper that they were ready to come home. Arrangements had been made for the same limousine service to drop off a car at Lin and Henryís restaurant. Cullen and Kanin would pick it up there and come up to the cottage in two days. She and Vincent had written several times to Father and the children to describe their time at the cottage. Catherine had walked to the post box a mile down the coastline each day to mail their letters and retrieve the ones that were sent back. Jacob had drawn some pictures, and with Maryís help, a letter had been composed. Jacob was very smart and was already able read and write at a level far advanced for his age. He had also inherited Vincentís great strength and they suspected that he might be somewhat empathic as well. He was extremely sensitive to other peopleís moods and had an uncanny ability to sense what they were feeling. He was a unique child. Little Catherine was too young to exhibit much other than being very verbal for her age. She had quite a little vocabulary and spoke very distinctly for a child of sixteen months. She had gotten Meganís coloring. While Jacob had strawberry blond hair and bright blue eyes like his father, little Catherine had dark hair and pale blue eyes. She was very pretty. Catherine had always wanted a little girl who looked like her. She was sad that she would never have a child with light brown hair and green eyes like she had envisioned, but she had so very much to be thankful for.

"You know, Vincent, I was thinking about how fortunate you are that I look the way I do."

Vincent stopped walking and turned to her. They had been walking along the beach, knowing that they only had two more days to savor its splendor before returning Below. "What do you mean?"

Catherine turned to face Vincent. "Look at me. Iím pretty and tall and slender. Iím healthy and have a great figure. I could have gotten a body of someone old, fat, frail, and diseased, not to mention the body of a man."

Vincent shook his head. "I think you were meant to take over Meganís body. Although I must admit that Iím not complaining, since you are very beautiful. I would have loved you no matter what. Itís truly a bonus that you ended up being young, healthy and horny."

Catherine roared with laughter. "Vincent, I have been a very bad influence on you. Five years ago you would never have used the word Ďhornyí. I bet you didnít even know what it meant."

Vincent chuckled. "You forget that I was raised with Devin as a brother and Mitch as a friend. They were older and used very colorful language when Father was out of earshot."

Catherine giggled. "Speaking of Devin, we havenít seen him for a long time. He hasnít been back to the tunnels since little Catherineís naming ceremony. If we get a brownstone in the city, maybe heíll come more to visit. You know that he doesnít like staying in the tunnels for very long. I think he feels them too confining."

Vincent sighed. "Yes, he definitely longs for the wide open spaces. Perhaps we could come back here one day with the children and Devin. I think he would love it here. I know that I do."

When they got back to the city, Catherine enlisted the help of a real estate agent who was a helper to find a home that would suit their unique needs. It took a few weeks, but finally one was found. Vincent had started having problems with his breathing again and Father conceded that it could very well be an allergy to mold and fungus as Catherine had suggested. Tunnel access was made into the basement of the brownstone and one evening six weeks after they returned from Maine, Catherine led Vincent up to the brownstone for a look. They walked together through the rooms and noted the lovely garden in the back.

"Could this really be our home Catherine? I never thought to have a home like this. Your apartment was very nice but I never felt comfortable there. It was so high up and with no easy escape route. I felt vulnerable. It was also extremely feminine. It suited you. It was sophisticated and reeked of privilege. This brownstone seems more like a home. Does that make sense to you?"

Catherine nodded. "Yes, this will be much more suited to a family. Iím glad you like it. I was hoping. Should I make an offer?"

Vincent nodded. "I think itís perfect."

Catherine squeezed Vincent around the waist and pulled him down for a kiss. "What do you think about renovations? The inspector said the plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems are in good shape, having been recently replaced. Even though this home is over a hundred years old, itís in very good condition. I would like to have all of the wallpaper stripped and the walls replastered and painted. I think a nice light yellow color throughout the house would really bring out the wood. The floors need to be refinished as well. The kitchen needs updated appliances, too. Once thatís all done, we can start on the garden. I think a nice stone wall could be built which would ensure our privacy. Weíll add a porch on the back of the house so we can sit outside like we did in Maine. It will be perfect. Iím very excited. Can you tell?" Catherine had been talking non-stop.

Vincent just laughed and hugged her tight. "I think youíre perfect, and I think your ideas are marvelous. I know weíll be very happy here. The kids will love having a yard to play in. I will enjoy being able to watch them play outside."

It took another month to get the renovations complete and furniture delivered. Father had come up a couple of times to see the house. He had been very pleasant about the move once he realized that Vincentís health was at risk. Others could take allergy shots, but not so with Vincent. This was the best solution. A housewarming party had been held that weekend and the tunnel community had been excited about seeing Vincentís new home. Catherine felt a little guilty that they had this outrageously expensive home with its fabulous furnishings and secluded back yard when most in the community had never had much of anything, but she knew that Vincent was worth it and that nobody would begrudge him this happiness. She made it known that their home would be a welcome place for visitors from the tunnel community. The party was a huge success and many brought gifts Ė Rebecca brought candles, William brought some recipes, Cullen brought a chess set that he had carved and Mary brought an afghan that she had made by hand. Many of the children made cards or drawn pictures. Catherine and Vincent welcomed everyone with a warm heart.

"Catherine, I love this bed. Itís so big and the posts and canopy make it seem very Victorian. It looks like something Darcy and Elizabeth might have slept in. Jacob and little Catherine love their rooms. Letting them select their own bedroom furniture and bedspreads was very considerate of you. Dragging a couple of kids through a department store couldnít have been fun."

Catherine nodded. "There were a few moments when I regretted my decision, but the end result was well worth it. Little Catherine was much easier than Jacob. All she cared about was that it was purple. She was disappointed that the furniture couldnít be purple, but the white furniture with the purple spread and curtains made her very happy. Jacob took much longer since he wanted to look at absolutely everything before making a decision, but I think he made good selections. He likes the spread with the super heroes. He reads those comic books more than I would like. I would prefer that he read more of the classics."

Vincent was lying sprawled across the bed looking very comfortable. "When I was a boy, I read adventure storiesÖmuch to Fatherís chagrin. I would do my studies; but once I was done, I was back to the escapades of pirates, smugglers, renegades or detectives. I donít think his interest in super heroes is any different from mine in adventurers."

Catherine went to lie down beside her husband. "You turned out very well my dear. If Jacob becomes a man like his father, it will be a very good thing." She snuggled up to Vincent and placed a kiss on his lips. "I think itís time we christened this bed. What do you say Vincent? We havenít had a fantasy week for a while. It could be your turn. What would your fantasy for our first night in our new bed be?"

Rather than tell Catherine, he showed her.

The End