Dream Lover

Kathy

"Vincent . . . Vincent . . . you finally came."

He knew that voice Ė would know it anywhere. He turned around and beheld the loveliest vision he had ever seen Ė his Catherine Ė dressed in a soft flowing gown which seemed to float around her as if the wind were gently blowing in circles around her body. She was smiling at him and holding out her arms. He moved quickly into her embrace and felt her warmth.

"How can this be?" Vincent spoke into the softness of her hair.

"I donít know . . . I only know that Iíve been searching for you for what seems like an eternity. Iíve been waiting here for you. Letís walk in the sunshine." She took his hand and led him across a meadow.

Vincent woke with a start. Jacob was crying Ė great hitching sobs as though he had been crying for a long time. He looked over at the 24 hour candle and was amazed to see that he had slept for over six hours. He felt refreshed and serene. Lost in his reverie for a moment, he was jolted back to reality as Jacob let out with an even louder cry. Vincent jumped up and went over to pick up his son. "Itís okay . . . itís okay. Donít cry. Daddy has you. Let me get something for your tummy."

Jacob was now six months old. He and Vincent had settled into a routine and the baby was finally sleeping through the night. Just last week, Vincent had actually begun to sleep Ė truly sleep. Before that, he would doze for an hour or two Ė anxious about Jacob waking - or worse Ė have nightmares and wake up drenched in sweat.

Last night had been wonderful. He knew it was only a dream Ė but to have a pleasant dream of Catherine was ecstasy. He wondered if he might dream of her again tonight. He hoped so.

A message came over the pipes. Diana was coming for a visit. Vincent liked Diana and he enjoyed the time they spent together.

When she reached his chamber, he greeted her warmly. "Diana, it is always a pleasure to have you visit us." Vincent gestured for her to have a seat. He sat down across from her

"Vincent, Iíve come to invite you to my terrace Saturday evening. Iím sure youíre aware that there is to be a meteor shower. Iíll prepare a late supper and weíll take in the night sky in all its glory. What do you say?" Diana looked so hopeful and he really would like to see it. He saw no reason to refuse.

"All right, Iíll come. Jamie and Brooke have been begging me to watch Jacob for quite a while now. Iíll take them up on their offer." Vincent smiled at Diana. He was having a very good day indeed.

That night, just as Vincent had fallen to sleep, he felt Catherineís presence again. He took in his surroundings. He wasnít in the meadow Ė he was on the balcony of her old apartment. He turned and opened the terrace doors. There was Catherine Ė just as beautiful as last night, but this time she had on a deep blue nightgown that clung to her body enticingly.

"Come to me Vincent . . . hold me close. I want to feel your body against mine." Catherine held out her arms in invitation.

Vincent walked into her arms. He held her and breathed her scent in deeply. He suddenly realized that he was wearing a silk robe rather than his normal tunnel attire. He could feel every soft curve of her body as it was pressed against the hard planes of his. He moaned at the contact and bent to press his lips against those of his precious Catherineís. His lips were just about to touch hers. He could feel her warm breath.

Abruptly, Vincent was awakened by Jacobís crying. He groaned at the loss of Catherineís touch. He was at full sexual arousal and could still smell her scent in the air. He kicked off his covers and went to soothe his fussy son.

The next night when he fell to sleep, Catherine was in her bedroom again. "Where did you go, Vincent? I needed you."

"Our son was crying . . . I did not wish to leave you. I had to go. He needed me."

"Our son . . . I have been afraid to ask about our son. You have him then? Heís safe?"

Vincent nodded. "Yes, he is safe and sleeps in my chamber. He is so beautiful, Catherine . . . just like you said."

Catherine walked toward Vincent. "I have yearned so to see our son. I wish to hear everything about him . . . but tonight is just for us. I want to make love with you as we did before. Do you remember how we made love in the cave?"

Vincent shook his head. "I cannot remember. I have tried many times, but the memory stays just out of reach."

Catherine reached Vincent and encircled him with her arms. "No matter . . . weíll make a new memory. She tilted her head up and pulled Vincentís head down gently with her hands. Their lips met in a warm and tempting kiss that made Vincent hungry for more. He opened his lips and deepened the kiss. He had waited so long to kiss his Catherine . . . really kiss her; that he never wanted it to end. Catherine reached between them and loosened the belt on Vincentís robe and pushed it open. She placed her hands on Vincentís furred torso and began to rub him in a slow sensual pattern from his belly up to his chest and then back down again. Soon, she lowered her hands and grabbed Vincentís throbbing erection. He jumped at the intimate touch, but quickly pressed himself into her warm hands moaning as she stroked his length over and over.

"Vincent, I canít wait. I want you in me." Catherine let go of Vincentís phallus and grabbed one of his hands and led him to the bed. "Please take me."

Vincent knew this was just a dream, but he didnít care. It felt so real. He reached down and pulled up Catherineís nightgown and lifted it over her head. Greedily, he took in her naked form. She was exquisite. He leaned over and took one of her nipples into his mouth and sucked strongly. He wanted to slow down, but couldnít. He had denied himself too long. He quickly moved to the other breast and suckled that nipple until it was a hard peak. He reached down and felt the moistness between her thighs. He groaned as he picked Catherine up and placed her on the bed. He positioned himself between her legs and thrust into her. Her legs went around his waist immediately and they began an urgent rocking motion. He knew that he wouldnít last long Ė he was too aroused. Soon, he shuddered as he climaxed. His cries were echoed by Catherineís, as she found her release as well.

He woke up. The sheets were in a tangle and his belly was covered with the evidence of his passionate dream. He hadnít had a Ďwet dreamí since he was a teenager. He was embarrassed at first, but quickly dismissed the thought. He obviously had needed this sexual release. He had enjoyed the frantic coupling with Catherine in his dream immensely. He should feel guilty about using Catherineís memory this way Ė but amazingly, he didnít. It had been so vivid Ė so real.

Catherine came to him in his dreams each night for the next three nights. They had laughed, loved, talked and read to each other. He had told Catherine many stories about Jacob.

That night, as he slipped into sweet slumber anticipating the thrall of being with his Ďdream loverí, he was met by a frightened Catherine.

"Oh Vincent, Iím so glad that youíre here. I have been hearing voices. I donít know where they are coming from and I am afraid. I feel that they are going to ruin what we have found together. Please make them stop."

He was frightened as well. Was it suppressed guilt causing these voices in his dream? "Catherine, what are these voices saying?"

She shuddered. "I donít know. Iíve been trying not to listen. I donít want to know."

Vincent reached out and grabbed Catherine and held her tight. He realized that they werenít in a meadow or her apartment, but in a large sterile green room with harsh lighting.

"Do you know where we are?" Vincent looked around the room searching frantically for some sort of clue as to what this room meant. He was becoming increasingly more anxious.

Catherineís breathing became labored. "There, did you hear that? Somebody is talking."

He listened intently. There was something Ė very indistinct but definitely there. "Yes, I hear something, but I am unable to discern its meaning. Oh Catherine, why is this happening? What does it mean?"

She was crying. "I donít know. I just want it to stop."

Just then, a very loud clear voice was heard by Vincent.

"There has been a change in her EEG. I think you should get the doctor down here to take a look. I havenít seen this much activity since Miss Chandler arrived"

Vincent was stunned. Why would he be dreaming about her having an EEG? "Catherine, Iím going to leave you and come back later." He was hoping that he could break out of this dream and enter a new, better one.

"Noooo. Donít leave me. I donít want to be left here alone. Stay with me." Catherine was pleading.

He felt trapped. He wanted to awaken, but causing her distress Ė even in a dream Ė was more than he could bear.

"I wonít leave you." He soothed her with his voice and held her tightly in his arms.

The next thing he knew, it was morning. That day he felt a great sense of unease. He had not confided in Father that he had been having these Ďvisitsí in his dreams, but felt that he needed to talk to somebody.

"Father, may I speak to you?" Vincent stood in the doorway of Fatherís library and waited to be acknowledged.

Father looked up, noticed Vincentís solemn expression, and closed his book.

"Of course, son. Itís been a while since you sought my counsel. Whatís troubling you?" Father pushed back his chair and gave Vincent his full attention.

Vincent entered Fatherís library and sat in the chair opposite his parent.

"For a few days, I have been having dreams of Catherine." He looked up to check for Fatherís reaction.

Father only nodded slightly.

"They have been extremely pleasant and they have given me a sense of relief and happiness that I have not experienced for many long months." He pushed his hand through his hair.

Father leaned forward. "I can see where dreaming of Catherine would be a pleasant respite for you. I see no harm in this. Why does it distress you so?"

Vincent stood and began to pace. "They have been wonderful. I must confess I have enjoyed my time Ďdreamingí of Catherine . . . even more than my waking time with Jacob. But now, it seems that perhaps the Ďguiltí from enjoying these dreams so much is causing them to turn into a sort of Ďnightmareí and I do not know what to do."

Father looked concerned. "Tell me. What type of Ďnightmareí are you having?"

He continued to pace. "Last night, I dreamt that Catherine was in a hospital or at least some sort of medical facility. Somebody . . . a doctor maybe . . . was talking about her EEG having fluctuations. She was so frightened and would not let me leave. I wanted to awaken to escape the dream, but I could not desert her."

Father put his fingers to his lips and thought for a while. "Vincent, I think that perhaps youíre right. I think that guilt is causing you to envision Catherine in ways that you have no wish to imagine. From Dianaís report, we know that she was given various drugs. No doubt once Gabriel knew that you were the father of her baby, he subjected her to any number of tests. Iím sure youíve thought of that as well. Based on the fact that he tested your blood repeatedly during your captivity and monitored you constantly, I have no doubt that he did that, and much more to Catherine."

Vincent sat back down and placed his head in his hands. "I hate thinking about her being tortured by that lunatic. Youíre probably right. I have tried not to think on these things. It only makes me feel powerless."

Father reached over to place his hand on his sonís. "Youíve been enjoying these dreams so much that you are now punishing yourself. Iím surprised it took you this long. You have never felt that you deserved happiness and that makes me very sad, Vincent. You, above all others, deserve to be happy. Youíve suffered so much pain in your life."

Vincent looked up at Father. "What do you suggest that I do?"

Father shook his head. "Iím not sure. Perhaps you must endure these images until you feel that youíve been punished enough to let them go. Just try and relax and know that whatever pain Catherine is experiencing in these dreams, it is in the past and can no longer hurt her."

Vincent nodded. "Thank you Father. I will try."

That night with some trepidation, Vincent lay on his bed to sleep. He stayed awake a very long time, tormented by thoughts of Catherine being poked and prodded by that doctor. He remembered when Gabriel shot the doctor. He had felt a perverse sense of justice at the time, even though he would not kill the doctor himself. Finally, Vincent fell asleep and once again, found himself standing across from a very distraught Catherine.

"Finally, youíre here. Iíve been waiting. I heard them talking again. They were saying something about being at Crestmore. Do you know what that is?" Catherine began pacing. She had on a hospital gown this time and looked thin and frail. Gone was the happy and smiling Catherine or the sexy and alluring one. She was now in torment and it tore at Vincentís heart to see her this way.

He reached for her and pulled her into his arms and rocked her as he leaned down and whispered into her ear. "I think we should just hold each other. I want to comfort you and take away your pain."

She finally relaxed against him. Just when he thought this nightmare might be over, he heard someone talking nearby.

"Doctor, I think that the patient might be regaining consciousness. Her respiration has increased, her pupils are dilating and there has been significant activity in her EEG in the last few days."

Catherine tensed against him. "Are they talking about me? How can I be there when Iím here talking with you? Please take me away from here."

Vincent held her tighter. "I want to take you away from here. But I do not know how. I am causing you this pain. I have always caused you pain." He felt hot tears slide down his cheeks. He continued to hear people talking in the background, but he blocked them out and focused on holding Catherine close and speaking to her of his love and affection.

In the morning, Vincent lay on his bed while Jacob played with his toys. He felt drained and had no energy to get up from the bed. He had fed Jacob earlier that morning when they had first awakened. It was Saturday and he was supposed to see Diana that evening. He groaned at the thought. Last weekend he had truly looked forward to their evening together. Now, he wasnít sure he would get through the day.

A message came over the pipes. Diana was here again. Vincent wondered why she would come this morning when they were scheduled to see each other that night.

Diana stopped at Fatherís library before continuing on to see Vincent.

"Diana, what a nice surprise, but I am intrigued by your visit. I thought that you and Vincent had plans this evening. No matter . . . sit down and letís have some tea." Father poured tea for himself and Diana.

She accepted the cup of tea and took a sip. "I just finished the report on a particularly grueling case and thought Iíd drop in for a Ďtunnelí fix. I am going to see him tonight, but I thought he might be up for a stroll to the chamber of the falls. That always soothes my soul and helps me shake off thoughts of my cases."

Father shook his head. "I might as well warn you that Vincent is very distressed. Heís been having a hard time these last few days. I donít feel at liberty to discuss his private demons, but he might feel like talking to you. Youíre one of the few people he opens up to."

Diana looked pensive. "Iím sorry to hear that heís upset. He seemed so happy when I visited last time. I think Iíll go see what I can do."

When Vincent heard that Diana was coming on the pipes, he had gotten out of bed and taken Jacob to the nursery and sat waiting for her.

Diana walked into his chamber. "Good morning Vincent, how are you doing?"

She walked around the table and sat across from him as she tried to assess his mood.

"Actually, I am not going to be very good company today Iím afraid." Vincent looked up into Dianaís concerned face briefly and then lowered his eyes to his hands.

She leaned forward. "Why donít you tell me whatís wrong. Iím here for you. If you donít feel up to coming to my place tonight, I understand. Just please talk to me."

Vincent sighed. He sat quietly for so long that Diana thought he wasnít going to speak. Finally he sighed and lifted his head and looked at her through teary eyes.

"I have found a new way to torment myself over Catherineís death. I am dreaming about her . . . but she is sick and frail and in some sort of medical facility. I do not understand these dreams. I do not know why I am seeing her like this . . . and I hear voices."

Diana was beginning to get uncomfortable. "What do you mean, you hear voices? Who is talking?"

"I do not know who it is . . . it does not matter . . . they are not real." Vincent lowered his head back down.

Diana prodded. "Go on Vincent, what were they saying?"

Vincent shrugged. "It sounded like doctors or nurses. They were using medical terminology and Catherine said something about them mentioning Crestmore."

Diana gasped. "Did you say Crestmore?"

Vincent raised his head and looked at Diana intently. "Why? Does that mean something to you? Did Gabriel keep her somewhere called Crestmore during her captivity?"

Diana rose from her chair and began to pace. "Vincent I donít understand what is going on here. I know that you have prophetic dreams . . . I remember how it was when you were searching for Jacob. I guess I should have suspected that this might happen. I donít know where to start. This is going to be so hard." Diana was rambling.

Vincent got up and went over to Diana and grabbed her by the shoulders. "Whatever it is . . . no matter how painful you think it will be for me to hear . . . please just tell me. I need to know. My imagination is much worse than any reality you might reveal."

"Oh Vincent, Iím afraid youíre not going to understand why Iíve done the things Iíve done, and youíre going to hate me." Diana pulled from his grip and sat back down in her chair.

"Please sit down . . . please. This is going to be hard to hear and even harder for me to say." She was wringing her hands.

Vincent was beginning to feel very apprehensive about what Diana was going to say. He sat down across from Diana and waited for her to regain her composure.

She took a deep breath and began to speak. "Iím going to tell you everything that I know. Please just let me continue until Iím finished or Iím never going to get through this. Promise me that you wonít interrupt." She looked up into his eyes beseechingly. "Promise me."

He nodded. "I promise."

"You know that I attended Catherineís autopsy. What you donít know Ö is that she had a very faint pulse." She raised her hand when Vincent gasped to fend off any comment he might make. "It was so faint, that it would have been missed had the autopsy not been performed by the lead coroner. He immediately gave Catherine a shot of adrenaline and had her whisked off to ICU. She was listed as a Jane Doe under heavy security and a promise from me not to reveal her condition to anybody." Diana took a couple of deep breaths and stole a quick glance at Vincentís tortured face before lowering her own and continuing. "The FBI took her to a long term care facility called Ö ĎCrestmoreí."

Vincent groaned but did not speak.

Diana kept her head lowered. "I was sworn to secrecy. I didnít know you then, and by the time I did learn of your existence, Catherineís condition was so dire that nobody thought she would survive. The morphine injection caused multiple organ failures . . . lungs, liver, kidneys. She was literally at deathís door with no prognosis for survival."

Vincent said nothing. He didnít even look at her. He just sat with his head down Ė obviously crying.

"I have checked on her condition a few times. Her organs are functioning now but she has suffered some brain damage and she is in a deep coma. She is a mere shell of her former self. Sheíll never be your Catherine again." Diana was feeling frantic, hoping to make Vincent understand the reasons behind her silence.

"You had grieved for her once. I didnít want to see you grieve for her again." Diana was pleading by this point.

Vincent jumped up and paced the room. "Why did you keep this from me? She is alive Ö alive Ö and I did not know."

Diana rose from her chair. "Vincent, she is gone Ö she is never going to regain consciousness. There is no hope . . ."

He turned on Diana and spoke to her in a tone she had never heard from him before. "As long as there is life Ö there is hope. I want her brought here so that I may take care of her!"

Diana was shocked by his vehemence. "Be reasonable. She has a feeding tube and a catheter. She is being given physical therapy to keep her muscles from atrophying. She is hooked up to all sorts of monitoring machines. She is in a Ďvegetative state.í I know you donít want to face this reality Ö but thatís what it is. It is hopeless."

He glared at her. "Is she still under FBI protection?"

Diana shook her head. "She is still in a government facility Ö but no Ö she isnít officially in protective custody. Once Gabriel was killed and his empire dismantled, they took the agent off her detail. But Vincent Ö they donít just release coma patients."

Vincent was silent as he pondered the enormity of what he had just learned. "What if Peter was to ask that she be released into his care? Do you think that they would do it?"

Diana looked very pale. "I donít know Ö maybe Öbut where would he take her? She needs constant care. You canít care for her here Ö you donít have the facilities."

Vincent grabbed Dianaís hands. "Donít you realize what my dreams mean? They mean that she is trying to awaken from her coma. She is reaching out to me for help. We heard the medical personnel talking about EEG fluctuations and increased respiration. She is waking up!"

Diana was stunned. "Do you think she could be reaching you through the ĎBondí? Is that possible? I thought you had lost the connection with Catherine."

Vincent shook his head. "I did. But what if the bond has found a way to reach across our dreams? However it is happening Ö I believe that I must reach her soon. Would you please go to Crestmore and check on her condition today? I believe that it has improved. Please Diana. I must know."

She nodded. "Of course, Iíll go immediately. Iíll come back with news later today. But Vincent, please donít get your hopes up. She has been in a coma for a long time. Itís unlikely that her prognosis has changed."

Diana arose and walked over to Vincent and hugged him. "Iíll be back Ö I promise. I hope for your sake, that the news is good." She looked at Vincentís tear streaked face and walked out of his chamber.

 

Diana arrived at Crestmore about two hours later. She had called ahead to let them know that she was coming and that she wanted an update on Catherine Chandler. When Catherine had first arrived at Crestmore she was only referred to as ĎJane Doe 28í. That had changed once the FBI had taken her out of protective custody.

Diana walked into the hospital and was greeted by Dr. Monroe. "Hello Detective Bennett Ö itís good to see you. I understand that youíre here to check on Ms. Chandler. I must say your timing is perfect. There has been a lot of activity in the past few days. We believe that she is coming out of her coma. We are very excited. Her vital signs have improved and her EEG is showing increased activity."

Diana walked alongside the doctor and entered Catherineís room. Catherine lay there pale, thin and frail. She looked so very fragile. "She doesnít look better."

The doctor shook his head. "Oh but she is much better. She is extremely weak, but she is definitely improving. Weíre very hopeful."

Diana stepped outside the room, not wishing to linger beside Catherineís frail form. The doctor followed her out. "Dr. Monroe, would it be possible to move Catherine to another facility?"

Dr. Monroe looked outraged. "Why would you want to move her now, just when she is improving? It is out of the question. It is absolutely imperative that she remains here. This is a critical time for Ms. Chandler. We specialize in this type of care. If she is truly regaining consciousness, there is no better place for her to be, than here."

Diana nodded. "I understand. Would it be possible for her family physician, Dr. Alcott, to be brought in on her care and treatment?"

The doctor studied Dianaís face. "I donít suppose that there is any harm in that. I wasnít aware that anybody outside of this facility had been informed of her survival."

"Youíre right, up until now, nobody has been told. Now that she might regain consciousness, I think it is only right that some others be let in on the Ďsecretí. Iíll have to check with the FBI Ö but since sheís no longer in protective custody, I donít think it should be a problem." Diana shook Dr. Monroeís hand. "Iíll call and let you know when Dr. Alcott will be arriving."

Diana knew that Peter couldnít just show up at Crestmore asking to see Catherine. He would have to be given clearance. She would call the agent who had originally been on Catherineís protection detail later today. Even though Catherine was no longer under protection, she was still in a secure facility. Crestmore was on government owned land in Connecticut. It was very secluded and had a guard at the gate. Unless you had an appointment, you were not allowed to enter the grounds. It was like a fortress.

For Vincentís sake, she hoped that Dr. Monroe was right. If Catherine regained consciousness and wasnít too impaired, she and Vincent could be together again. Diana was attracted to Vincent Ė who wouldnít be Ė he exuded raw power and masculinity. Not only that, his voice and sensitivity made him a complete package. Even better Ė he was completely unaware of his attractiveness. She had given up on any romantic notions, once she had finally realized how devoted he was to Catherineís memory. But she loved him as a friend. She truly wanted to see him happy. He deserved it.

Diana eased her car into a lot near a tunnel entrance and got out. Slowly, she walked to the hidden door and pushed on the lever that activated the opening mechanism. She walked toward Vincentís chamber.

He was sitting in Fatherís library, having brought his parent up to speed on all of his news. Father had been speechless at the revelations. He had asked many questions Ė many of which Vincent could not answer. "Who else knew that Catherine was alive? Did Joe know? Why was there a funeral? Who was buried in Catherineís grave?"

Diana walked into Fatherís library. "Father, Vincent, Iíve come bearing good news."

Vincent didnít realize that he had been holding his breath. He jumped up and began to pace. "Tell us."

Diana lowered into the chair that Vincent had vacated. "Well, itís just as you saw in your dreams. Catherine is coming out of her coma. Her vitals have improved and her brain activity has increased. Her doctor, Dr. Monroe, is very hopeful." Diana gave a slight smile as she continued. "I did ask about moving her, but Dr. Monroe was adamant that moving her would be detrimental to her health. I know that you want to bring her here, but I donít think thatís going to be possible. However, I did ask whether Peter might be brought in on her case."

Vincent knelt in front of Diana. "What did he say? Is it possible for Peter to see her?" His eyes were so bright with unshed tears that it tore at Dianaís heart.

"He said that he would allow Peter to come see her. I will contact the FBI later tonight to get him the proper clearance. I assume that you have sent word to him?" Diana continued staring into Vincentís eyes.

Father spoke. "Yes, we sent a messenger up to Peterís office with a note to come below as soon as he is free. I imagine that heíll be here by 6:00 pm. Weíll tell him then."

Vincent grabbed Dianaís hand. "Thank you. I am sorry that I was angry at you earlier. Father and I have discussed your reasons for keeping Catherineís condition from me. And while I do not agree, I do understand."

"Diana, might I ask you a few questions?" Father could no longer suppress his need for answers.

"Of course Father. Iíll answer whatever questions I am able."

"First, does Joe know that Catherine is alive?"

"No, Iím the only one on the force that knows. I was given strict instructions not to reveal her survival to anyone. The Feds were suspicious of the district attorneyís office as well as the police department. Nobody was to know." Diana sat and waited.

"What about the funeral? Who was buried in Catherineís place?" Father wiped at his tearing eyes.

"A Jane Doe. It was all for show to keep up the pretense that Catherine had died. It was done for her protection. Gabriel would have stopped at nothing to make sure that Catherine was dead. He would have gotten to her had he known. There is no doubt of that. He was absolutely ruthless as you well know." Diana patted Vincentís hand.

"Is there still any threat? Is her life in danger?" Father looked over at Vincent knowing that he was wondering the same thing.

"No I donít believe so; otherwise the Feds would not have taken the agent off her detail. Nobody in Gabrielís organization had anything to gain from Catherineís death once the copy of that Ďcode bookí was found in Morenoís safe. There was nothing that Catherine could have revealed that the Feds didnít already know. Once Gabrielís mansion was searched, there was a mountain of evidence they could use against those working for him. Her testimony would not have been useful." Diana explained.

"Good. Thatís very good news indeed. I would hate to think that she might still be in danger." Father looked relieved.

The sentries alerted that Peter was on his way below. In about ten minutes, Peter walked through the entrance and looked at a very anxious Father, Vincent and Diana.

"Whatís going on? I got an urgent message to come below. Is somebody hurt?" Peter walked over to where Father was seated and placed his hand on his shoulder.

"Have a seat Peter. We have some fantastic news to share with you." Father motioned to the empty chair.

Father looked over at Vincent for permission to reveal what he knew. Vincent nodded his assent for Father to continue.

"We have been informed by Diana that Catherine is alive." Father felt that a direct approach was the best route to take.

"What? Thatís impossible. I saw her death certificate. We attended her funeral. I put all of her things into storage and let her condo be rented out." Peter shouted.

Vincent bent over Peter and hugged him as he shared in Peterís emotional outburst. "I know it is difficult to believe, but itís true." He could certainly relate to what Peter was going through.

Peter turned on Diana. "Why wasnít I told? This is outrageous. What if her Will wasnít still in probate court? As her executor, what if I had liquidated all of her assets thinking she was dead?"

Diana looked chagrined. She had not really given any thought to Catherineís assets. She wasnít prepared for this type of confrontation. "Peter I wasnít given permission to tell anyone that she was alive. I only revealed Catherineís survival to Vincent because he was having dreams about her coming out of her coma."

Peter looked over at Father. "Catherine is in a coma? Where is she?"

Vincent rose and sat on the corner of Fatherís desk. "She is at a government facility called Crestmore. She is very ill but her condition has improved in the last few days. As Diana said, I have been having dreams of Catherine. I saw her at this facility and heard the doctors talking about her condition."

Peter was astonished. "This is absolutely incredible Ė unbelievable. I want to see her." He directed his statement at Diana.

"Of course. I will contact the FBI tonight and get you clearance to see her tomorrow if possible. I can drive you up there." Diana hoped that this would appease Peter somewhat.

"Okay, letís go call him now. I donít want to delay this any longer." He turned to address Vincent. "I promise you that I will get a complete diagnosis and prognosis on Catherineís state of health. I will come back and tell you everything as soon as I get back from Crestmore tomorrow."

Vincent hugged Peter. "Thank you Peter, I will anxiously await your return."

Peter strode out of the chamber with a brooding looking Diana lagging behind him. Vincent called out to her as she neared the exit. "Thank you Diana for all of your help. Everything will be all right, youíll see." Vincent gave her a quick smile as she turned to wave goodbye.

 

"Catherine, Catherine where are you? I need to see you." Vincent stood in the center of a large vacant room. He had no sense of her. He turned his head in all directions searching for his love.

"Iím here Vincent. Iím so glad you came. There were people all around me and they were touching me. I donít remember them touching me before. I donít like it. Did you come to take me away?"

"Catherine, I need to tell you something very important. Itís going to be hard for you to hear, but you must Ö you must listen to me very carefully." He reached for Catherine and brought her down with him to the floor to sit.

"You know that you can tell me anything, Vincent. I love you." She leaned her face toward Vincentís and kissed him lightly.

He smiled weakly. "Catherine, you have been very ill. You have been in a coma." He waited for her reaction but none came. "You need to wake up Ö it is time."

Catherine sighed. "I think I knew all along. I just donít know if I can do it. It is as though I am deep underwater and so very far from the surface."

"You must try. It is the only way that we can be together Ö truly together Ö again. I want so much for us to be a family Ö you and me and Jacob. Will you try Ö for me Ö for Jacob?" Vincent stroked her back as he spoke to her.

"Would we really live together? You wouldnít send me away?" Catherine pleaded.

"I will never send you away again. I love you and I want you with me. I want to have a full life with you. I want you to be my companion, my wife Ö my lover." He spoke so softly, it was merely a whisper.

"Oh Vincent, Iíve longed to hear those words. I want you for my companion, my husband and my lover too. I want to hold Jacob in my arms and bear more of your children. I want our happy life." Catherine hugged Vincent fiercely. "Iíll do it. I will try."

*******

Diana and Peter arrived at Crestmore at 9:00 am the following morning. Dr. Monroe was waiting for them in his office.

"Hello, Iím Dr. Carter Monroe and you must be Dr. Alcott. Itís nice to meet you." Dr. Monroe shook Peterís hand.

"Itís good to be here. I must admit that it came as quite a shock when Diana told me that Catherine was alive. Her family and I knew nothing of her survival. Iím anxious to be brought up to speed on her condition." Peter was eager to see Catherine.

The doctor stood and motioned for the door. "Shall we?"

Once they arrived at her room, Peter rushed to her side. "Oh Catherine, my sweet girl, what did they do to you?"

Dr. Monroe stood beside Peter. "Dr. Alcott are you sure that youíre going to be able to deal with this? I didnít realize that you were so emotionally attached to this patient. While I am hopeful that she will recover Ö there are no guarantees. Also, there is a real possibility that she will have some mental and/or physical impairment. The morphine overdose put her body through hell. Frankly, I donít know how she survived it in the first place. It should have killed her."

Peter shook his head. "Thank you for your concern. I am all right.. It is just the shock of seeing her like this. Iím her godfather as well as her physician. Trust me, she is a fighter. While I canít say that I am unaffected by all of this, I can assure you that I am fully capable of dealing with this situation. Itís just Ö I should have been told." He glared at Diana who winced.

"There is one more thing. There is evidence that Ms. Chandler gave birth perhaps hours before coming to this facility. Do you have any idea what became of the child?" Dr. Monroe inquired.

"Yes, I am aware. The childís father has him. He is healthy and is being well taken care of." Peter was uncomfortable with this line of questioning. He looked over at Diana who seemed equally uncomfortable.

Dr. Monroe seemed relieved. "Good, thatís very good. I was dreading the question from her about the baby. I was afraid that the baby had died considering the condition of her body. We performed a d&c due to infection and excessive bleeding."

"What about future pregnancies Ö any permanent damage?" Peter knew that Catherine would probably want more children, if possible.

"Nothing permanent, however, her cycle has not resumed. Iím sure her menses will begin once her body is stronger and her weight is back to normal. Shall we go to my office and discuss her case in more detail?" Dr. Monroe gestured toward the door.

The doctor filled Peter in on Catherineís case while Diana excused herself to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee and to think. Had she really had Vincentís best interest at heart when she failed to let him know about Catherine? Could she have been selfishly hoping that he would never need to know Ė that Catherine would die without anybody ever having to know that she had survived the morphine injection? Was she that selfish Ė that monstrous? No, she truly didnít believe that. She was just being sensitive to his needs. She cared for him, deeply, probably more than she cared to admit.

That evening Peter came to the tunnels. "I spent the day with Cathy." He looked into Vincent and Fatherís hopeful eyes. "I donít want to give you false hope Ö but it looks promising."

Vincent stood and hugged Peter. "Tell me everything. Iíve been reading Fatherís medical journals about coma patients. It seems that it is quite a mystery as to why and when a patient might awaken. If I hadnít been Ďsharingí her dreams, I would not be very hopeful." He stood and began pacing. "I Ďvisitedí with Catherine again last night. She knows she is in a coma and is trying to wake up. She wants to come back to me Ö to live with me Ö join with me. It is our dream."

Peter looked up at the large young man and smiled. "She is very weak and very frail. It took every bit of strength she had to fight off the drug overdose. I believe it would have killed her had she not just given birth to your child, Vincent."

Vincent stopped pacing. "What do you mean?"

"Your body does not metabolize drugs the way an ordinary personís does. I remember a few years back when you were injured in a rock slide . . . we gave you some morphine for the pain. It had little effect on you at the dosage we were administering Ö which was twice what we were giving the other men. Jacob and I were afraid to increase the dosage Ö afraid that it might stop your heart. Remember that Jacob?" Father nodded.

"They probably gave Catherine the lethal injection just after she delivered Jacob. They wouldnít have risked it before, for fear of harming the baby. She would still have had the antibodies in her body from the pregnancy. Jacobís unique physiology protected her from succumbing to the drug. Had anyone else been the father of her baby Ö Iím sure she would have died."

Vincent sat down as he pondered this news. "If anyone else had been the father, they would not have wanted the baby so. I canít believe I just left her at her apartment Ö when she was still alive Ö had I known Ö I was so sure she had died. I left her all alone. I should have brought her below. I thought I was doing the right thing. I should have known." He moaned as he said the words as though they were physically hurting him. "How could I have not known she was still alive?"

"I read the report Vincent. Her pulse was very weak and slow. Only extremely sensitive equipment could pick up a heartbeat that faint. Not only that, you were under extreme distress. It was a very understandable mistake. Vincent, you did the right thing. If you had brought her below, Jacob would not have had the equipment and drugs needed to stabilize her body. Believe me, if you had brought her below, she would be dead now. There is no doubt in my mind." Peter tried to reassure the young man. He was clearly feeling guilty.

Vincent nodded. "But what of her condition now? When she awakens, what type of treatment will she need? Will she be able to come home soon?"

Peter shook his head. "Unfortunately, it is too early to know what, if any, impairment she will be left with from the overdose. At the very least she will need physical therapy, perhaps even speech therapy. She was very lucky indeed that she ended up at Crestmore. It is a top notch medical facility. They have been taking very good care of her. We can be thankful for that."

Vincent tried to smile. "I am grateful for what they have done, but I want her here Ö where I can care for her. I know that it is impossible Ö that I must be patient Ö but it is so very hard to feel so helpless Ö especially now, when I finally have hope that she will return to me."

"I know. But now that I can visit her at any time and am listed as one of her attending physicians, you wonít be in the dark any longer. Dr. Monroe is going to keep me apprised of her condition. You just keep sending her your love and strength through that Ďbondí of yours. Youíre the best medicine she could possibly have right now." Peter reached out to pat Vincent on the hand. "Well, I must go. I have a full day of appointments." He looked at his watch and rose to leave hurriedly. "Iíll let you know when I hear something."

Vincent looked over at Father. "Youíve been very quiet Father. What are your thoughts?"

Father looked at his hands. He had heard what Vincent had said about wanting to join with Catherine. Could Vincent and Catherine join and become a family? Perhaps it was possible after all. He hoped so for Vincentís sake. "Just lost in thought, my son. These last two days have been a whirlwind of revelations and emotional upheaval. It has taken its toll on an old man. If youíll excuse me, Vincent, I think I shall retire to my chamber and read."

"Of course Father, let me help you. Is there anything I can do for you? Would you like some tea?" Vincent helped Father to his feet.

"No, no Iím all right. I just need to rest. Thank you son." He patted Vincentís cheek and turned toward his chamber.

Again that night Vincent Ďmetí with Catherine. "I am here, love. Let me hold you." Vincent breathed in her scent as he held her close to his body. Gone was the hospital gown and in its place was a gown of white satin. They were back in her apartment.

"Vincent, I am nearly ready to wake up. I have been climbing toward the surface and I feel very close. I donít want to leave this place that you and I have created without being with you Ö one more time." Catherine rose up to kiss Vincentís warm lips.

"We will have a whole lifetime of being together once you awaken. It has been glorious to be with you in my dreams Ö but to have you with me Ö in reality Ö to feel your flesh beneath my flesh Ö to build a life with you . . . that is what I long for." Vincent returned her kiss with more passion than he had ever experienced before.

They couldnít seem to get enough of each otherís lips and tongues as they continued to explore their passion. Finally, Catherine pulled away from Vincent for a moment. "Iím afraid that we wonít be together again like this for a very long time. Iím whole in my dreams Ö but outside my dreams, my body is very weak. I doubt that I will be able to come to you perhaps for months. I hate to leave you Ö these dreams have meant more to me than you can imagine."

"I know Ö I feel the same way Ö but Catherine, we will be together soon. I know that it will be hard to be apart Ö but think how wonderful it will be when we are a family. Hold on to that thought Ö as will I."

"Letís not waste this night. Love me Vincent . . . make me yours one more time before I have to leave you."

 

Peter got a call the next day. "Dr. Alcott, this is Dr. Monroe. I am delighted to tell you that Ms. Chandler came out of the coma at 6:32 am. She is coherent and is asking for you. She is resting now but you may see her whenever you are able to get here."

"I have two more appointments that I must keep and then Iíll drive up there. Thank you so much for calling. This means a great deal to me." Peter hung up the phone and let out a whoop for joy. He would finish up at the office, drop by the tunnels and be on his way to Crestmore within two hours.

Peter walked into the tunnels to meet with Vincent and Father. He beamed as he saw the two men waiting for him. "Sheís awake. Iím on my way up there as soon as I leave here."

Vincent reached out and placed a small package in Peterís hand. "Please give this to Catherine. I want her to have something tangible to hold on to while she is recovering."

"So you already knew?" Peter asked in awe?

"Yes Ö I knew. I can Ďfeelí her once again. The bond has returned." Vincent paced. "She is overwhelmed. I know that she will be soothed by your visit Ö I wish I could go to be with her . . . she needs me."

"She knows that you would, if it were possible. I should get going. I donít want to keep her waiting. And Vincent Ö Iím really glad that the bond has returned. Iíve never understood it Ö this mystical connection that you two have Ö but I believe in its strength Ö its power." Peter gave Father and Vincent a warm smile and left.

********

"Father Ö once again you are very quiet. What is troubling you?" Vincent sat across from his parent and studied him.

"I am not troubled Ö I am apprehensive. I see you building your hopes so high on this life with Catherine Ö I just hope that the reality is what you expect. I just donít want to see you hurt. Youíve suffered so much." Father sat with his fingers steepled under his chin.

"Yes, my hopes for the future are great. I want to build a life with Catherine and our son. I know that there will be obstacles. For one thing, she is extremely weak. Her body has been ravaged by drugs and inactivity. I am prepared to wait as long as it takes for her to become well enough to join with me. It may very well be months. But I do know this Ö I know that she wants the same thing Ö a life together Ö she has told me."

********

Peter arrived at Catherineís room and was greeted by a weak smile.

"Hello Peter." Catherineís voice was so faint that he had to strain to hear her.

"Hi there Ö itís so wonderful to see you. We have all missed you so very much." Peter sat in the chair next to her bed.

"How is he and how is my son?"

"Your son is adorable and Vincent is well. He sent this for you." Peter reached into his coat pocket and retrieved the small package that Vincent had wrapped.

Catherine took the package but when she struggled to open it, Peter was quick to offer assistance. "Here, let me Ö Iíll open it and then give it to you. Itís going to be a while before your muscles respond the way you desire."

Peter got the parcel unwrapped. Inside was a letter and Catherineís crystal necklace. Peter felt that he was intruding on something very private, but knew that Catherine was going to need his assistance. "Would you like for me to read the letter to you?"

"Yes please. I have longed to be reunited with him. Did he tell you that we Ďvisitedí in our dreams?" Catherine smiled as she remembered their last Ďdreamí.

"Yes, the bond between you two is amazing. He told me about the dreams and just this afternoon he told me that he could Ďfeelí you again." Peter talked as he unfolded the letter.

"It is wonderful. I can feel him sending me his love and strength. It has been a lifeline to me. I donít think that I would have been able to awaken without his help." Catherine held the crystal in her palm and felt its power flow into her.

Peter scanned the letter and saw the intimate nature of its contents. "This is pretty personal, Catherine. Iím sure that it was not intended to be read by anyone except you."

"Actually, Iím feeling a little stronger now that I have my crystal. Give it to me and Iíll read it later." Catherine took the letter that Peter had refolded and held it to her heart.

Later, after Peter had left, Catherine opened up the letter. She held the paper to her nose and took in the heady scent of Vincent. There was musk, candle smoke and leather. She noted the beautiful flowing script of his handwriting . . .

My dearest Catherine,

Know that I long to be there with you in body as I am in spirit. I can once again feel your heartbeat alongside my own and I take comfort in that. It is my hope that you can sense the bond as well. It is a poor substitute for an embrace ... or a kiss Ö but it will have to do for now.

Last night was a night of passion and of promise. When our bodies joined, it is as though I finally knew the meaning of my existence ... the pull of my life force to yours Ö a longing to become one. I know that you complete me Ö and now I finally believe that I also complete you.

Get well my darling Catherine. Be strong. Hold the crystal and know that I am with you.

With enduring love I am yours,

Vincent

 

 

Catherine closed her eyes and slept with the crystal and the letter still clutched in her hand.

 

"Settle down Vincent. You are going to make yourself sick if you keep this up." Father reproached Vincent but knew that it would do no good. Today was the day that Peter was bringing Catherine home.

It had been three months since Catherine awakened from her coma. In that time, she had been through extensive physical therapy to relearn to walk. She had pushed herself very hard to achieve that goal.

Vincent stopped pacing and sat across from Father. "It has been so long since I have seen her. It seems an eternity."

"Iím sure that it does, son. Jacob seems excited as well."

"Yes, he is anxious to see his mother again."

"You know that I did not agree with your decision to allow Jacob to go above with Peter to see Catherine. It was a risk that I believe you should not have taken. If the doctors at that facility had examined Jacobís blood, it could have been disastrous." Fatherís strenuous objections had been overruled by Vincentís equally strong desire to have Catherine see their son.

Vincent suddenly jumped to his feet. "She is here. Father, please have Mary bring Jacob to the library."

Without a backward glance, Vincent flew to the entrance below Peterís home. He turned the corner and stopped as he saw Catherine walking alongside Peter.

"Catherine." Vincent rushed to her and embraced her. Their lips found each other and they were lost in their sweet reunion until Peter cleared his throat to remind them of his presence.

Vincent lifted her into his arms and turned to Peter. "Thank you Peter for bringing my Catherine to me."

Vincent smiled at Catherine as tears flowed from his eyes. "Shall we go? Everyone is waiting to welcome you home Ö including our son."

Catherine nodded. "Yes. Iím ready. Take me home."

When they reached Fatherís library, he was there holding Jacob. "Welcome home my dear. Everyone is anxious to see you, including this little man."

Vincent lowered Catherine to the floor when they entered the chamber. He went over to retrieve Jacob and brought him over to Catherine.

"I think I should sit down before I hold him. Iím still a little shaky and I donít want to drop him." She sat and reached up her arms for her little boy. There were tears flowing freely down her face as Vincent placed their son into Catherineís waiting arms.

"Hello sweetheart." Catherine could barely speak she was so choked with emotion.

Jacob placed his little hands on Catherineís face and stared into her eyes. He snuggled into her neck as if he were trying to find a familiar fit.

"I love you baby." Catherine looked up at Vincent. "Thank you again, for allowing Peter to bring him to me in the hospital. It meant so much to me."

"You are welcome, my love. It is amazing; I can sense a Ďbondí between you and Jacob. Can you sense it?" Vincent had not known until just now, that Jacob had a Ďbondí with his mother as well.

"I can feel a strong connection to Jacob, but I thought it was because I am his mother."

Catherine kissed Jacobís cheek.

"It is more than that. There is an energy flowing between the three of us." Vincent reached out to wrap his family in a tender embrace.

"Well, I am not surprised that he has Ďempathicí powers. He shares many traits with Vincent. He is remarkably strong and agile and extremely curious. He reminds me so much of Vincent at that age. I dare say that he is going to keep you hopping." Father grinned at Jacob as he snuggled against Catherine.

"I am anxious to be a mother to my son. I just hope I can keep up." Catherineís voice held a hint of worry.

"Youíll do great Cathy. Others can chase after Jacob, but only you can be his Ďmotherí."

Peter reassured Catherine.

"Thank you, Peter. Also, I want to thank you again for being there for me these past three months, and for bringing me home." Catherine smiled at Peter.

"And Father, it is so wonderful to see you again. Thank you for the heartfelt welcome. You canít know how much it means to me."

She turned to Vincent. "Could we take Jacob and go to your chamber? It was a long trip here from Crestmore and I would like to rest and spend some time with you and Jacob." Catherine spoke as she held Jacob close to her breast.

Father was the first to speak. "Of course, you must be exhausted. Please rest. Iíll let everyone know that you will see them tomorrow. Peter and I will have a nice visit and perhaps play a game of chess." Father stood as if to dismiss them.

Vincent reached out to take Jacob from Catherineís arms and to assist her to her feet. She accepted his help gratefully. She really was very tired.

Once they reached Vincentís chamber, Catherine looked around at the familiar room and noted several changes. This room looked like it was set up as a living room rather than a bedroom. There was also an area that must be a play area for Jacob because there were childrenís books on a shelf and toys in a basket along with a small woven rug and a tiny rocking chair. "Youíve made a lot of changes. Where is your bed? I was hoping to lie down for a while."

"I had my chamber expanded to accommodate the three of us. The bed is in a separate room which has a door for privacy. Jacob has a small separate room adjacent to mine. Mary has assured me that he is old enough to have his own room." Vincent shuffled his feet a little. "I hoped Ö that you would want to share my bed?"

Catherine walked over to hug Vincent and her son who was wiggling in Vincentís arms. "There is no where else I would rather be. Youíre stuck with me Ö you know as in Ö Ďfor better or worseí. Weíve certainly had our share of the Ďworseí. Iím ready for the Ďbetterí."

"Oh Catherine, I love you so much. You have made me so happy." He grasped her hand and began to lead her into their bedroom.

"Here it is. What do you think?"

Catherine was pleasantly surprised. The room had an extremely large four poster bed with a beautiful white down comforter. There were vases with white and red roses adorning an antique dressing table and dresser. In one corner there stood a huge, ornate armoire. The room looked and smelled wonderful. "This is breathtaking!" She turned to look at Vincent who seemed very pleased with her reaction.

"Many of your clothes and shoes are in the armoire. Peter brought a lot of your things from storage. Mary and Rebecca set up your dressing table with some toiletries. I hope that you will find everything that you need." Vincent motioned to the bed. "Please lie down and rest. Iíll get one of Jacobís books and weíll relax and read for a while. He loves to be read to."

"That sounds wonderful." Catherine took off her shoes and scooted over to make room for Vincent and Jacob.

Vincent sat Jacob on the bed. He immediately crossed the bed to reach Catherine. She wrapped her arms around him and held him close.

Vincent selected a book and lay down beside Catherine and Jacob and began reading The Jungle Book. He read for about thirty minutes before both Catherine and Jacob were fast asleep. He laid the book aside and studied Catherine. He had not seen her except in his dreams in over a year. She was just as beautiful as ever, but there were lines in her face that had not been there before. She was also much thinner and her skin was extremely pale. She looked tired and fragile. He wanted to wrap her in his arms and never let her go.

Vincent was very tired as well from the emotional day, and soon fell asleep. He was awakened by Jacobís little hands on his face. Vincent chuckled. "Come little one."

Vincent gathered his son and took him to Mary. Catherine was sleeping so peacefully that he did not want to disturb her.

******

"Vincent, how is Catherine? I know that the dear girl must be so happy to be here with you and her precious child." Mary took Jacob from Vincent.

"She is sleeping. She was only able to stay awake for about half an hour after she arrived. By the time she got here this evening, she was exhausted. She will probably sleep through until morning. Would you mind keeping Jacob for us? I donít want her to be disturbed." Vincent wanted to get back to Catherine quickly for fear that she might awaken and wonder where he had gone.

"Of course, my dear. Donít worry about a thing. Iíll take good care of him." Mary gave Jacob a kiss on his cheek and snuggled him close. "You go take care of Catherine. If she needs anything, please come see me."

Vincent went back to his chamber and climbed onto the bed with Catherine. Now that Jacob was not between them, he gathered Catherine into his arms and held her close as she slept. He had not slept much lately either and relished this time with her to just relax and savor the bonds of love surrounding them.

Catherine woke up during the middle of the night. The first thing she realized was that there was a warm wonderful man holding her in his arms. "Ahhh . . ." What a magnificent feeling this was to be held by Vincent. The sound escaped her throat without her even realizing she had made it.

Vincent stirred.

"Hello my darling. Are you feeling rested?" Vincent whispered into her hair and placed a kiss on the top of her head.

"I feel wonderful Ö relaxed and loved. Where is Jacob?"

"I took him to Mary. He was restless and I did not wish for him to awaken you."

"As much as I love Jacob, youíre the only one I want to be with right now." Catherine turned so that she could kiss Vincentís lips.

Vincent returned her kiss with one that held the promise of passion.

Catherine pulled back from him slightly. "As much as I would like to continue kissing you, Iím afraid that it will have to wait until I use the bathroom. Iím not sure I know how to get there from here. Could you take me?" Catherine felt a little embarrassed, but she really needed to go.

Vincent released Catherine and rose to his feet. "Of course, I must apologize for my oversight in not showing you last evening. Come, it is not far. We have our own private facilities. Mouse and Cullen helped me get them ready for your arrival." Vincent held out his hand for her.

"I was too tired to think about anything but sleep earlier." Catherine began to inch her way off the bed. "Ouch Ö that hurts."

"I can sense your pain. What is wrong?" Vincent was alarmed.

"Nothing is wrong except that I am incredibly sore from the physical therapy. My muscles have had quite a workout. I am always stiff when I first get up." Catherine struggled to get off the bed.

"Perhaps a soak in the bathing chamber would help?" Vincent suggested.

"Oh Ö that sounds fabulous. Could I do it now?" Catherine was very excited about a warm soak to relieve her sore muscles.

"Let me show you the Ďfacilitiesí and I will prepare the bathing chamber for you." Vincent took Catherineís hand and led her down the hall toward the bathroom.

Once Catherine had relieved herself, she felt so much better. She walked into the bathing area and noted the soft candlelight and steam rising off the water. It looked so inviting.

"Here are your towels and Rebecca left a basket of bathing supplies earlier for your use. Will you be all right?" Vincent looked around to see if she had everything.

"Arenít you going to join me? It would feel wonderful to have you rub my sore muscles." Catherine sounded hopeful.

Vincent felt his heart accelerate at the mention of sharing Catherineís bath. He had not known how to initiate anything more intimate than a kiss. He was thankful that Catherine had made the first overture.

"Of course I will, if that is what you wish. I must tell you that I am a little apprehensive about you seeing my body. I doubt that I look like you have envisioned me in your dreams." Vincent wanted to prepare Catherine.

"I know exactly what your body looks like. Iíve seen you naked before. You have nothing to worry about. Your body is magnificent." Catherine reassured Vincent.

"Do you mean when we made love in the cavern?"

"It was dark in that cavern and we didnít really remove much of our clothing. No, Iím referring to those three days that you stayed in my apartment when you were ill. I gave you quite a few sponge baths and I had to launder your clothing because it was soaked in sweat. I enjoyed touching you and seeing you a great deal. I tried not to be aroused because you were so ill, but it wasnít easy." Catherine gave him a reassuring smile.

"I am relieved. I was afraid that you would be Ďput offí by my hairy body."

Catherine laughed. "Not at all. In fact, I am the one that should be nervous. Pregnancy and coma arenít exactly the path to a beautiful body. I have lost a lot of my muscle tone and I am terribly thin."

Catherine began removing her clothing, not waiting for Vincent to reply. She knew that he would love her no matter what. He was not superficial in any way.

Vincent saw that Catherine was removing her clothing and began to remove his as well. He was surprised that she would feel self conscious. She was so beautiful to him.

When they had shed all of their clothing, Vincent was awed by her form. Catherine looked stunning standing with the candlelight casting a soft glow on her unclothed body. "You are perfect. May I touch you?"

"Please. It seems I have waited a lifetime to feel your naked body against mine."

As their bodies touched, it felt familiar, yet not. His dreams had not prepared him for the reality of her soft warm flesh. He was trying to suppress his need to press his erection against Catherine, but he lost the battle. It just felt too good to feel his aroused shaft against her belly. "Oh my God Catherine, this is beyond ecstasy."

"You feel fantastic and you smell delicious. I have an idea Ö is there any body oil in that basket?" Catherine was hoping that Vincent would give her a massage.

"I believe that there is. Would you like for me to rub it on your body?" The thought of smoothing the oil all over her body was making his knees weak.

"Oh yes, please. You grab the oil while I put a few of these towels down on the floor." Catherine made fast work of the towels.

Vincent retrieved the oil, poured some into his hands and then began smoothing it on Catherineís back. The feel of her skin beneath his slick palms was amazing. He allowed his hands to roam down onto her buttocks and then down her thighs and calves. She was making the most erotic sounds he could imagine. It was almost more than his stimulated body could take.

"That feels soooo good." She turned over so that he could rub the oil on the front of her body.

Vincent ran his hands over her shoulders and then down over her firm breasts. Her nipples hardened under his roughened palms. After a few moments of examining how her nipples responded to his touch, he leaned over and kissed both peaks. He continued on down her body. After smoothing the oil on her thighs and lower legs, he worked his way back up to the apex at her thighs. He bent over and allowed himself to kiss her swollen vulva. Even in their Ďdreamí loving sessions, he had not touched her so intimately. Her moans were the encouragement he needed to become bolder.

"Yes, oh my, right there Ö please Ö ah." Catherine hadnít felt anything this good in years Ö if ever.

Vincent used his tongue to delve into her moist folds. He stroked her repeatedly as he allowed her sensual feelings to wash over him through the bond. He was amazed at the intensity of response.

Catherineís arousal was so strong that it was almost painful. She could tell that Vincent was holding back his gratification to ensure hers. No more. She wanted to share this with him. When she felt Vincentís tongue on her so intimately, it almost pushed her over the edge. She spoke to him urgently. "Please Vincent Ö come inside me."

Vincent didnít hesitate. His drive for completion was more compelling than any desire he had ever experienced before. He didnít want to push her body into the hard stone floor with his weight. He positioned himself between her thighs, placed her hands around his neck, and rose to his feet with her pressed against his body.

She immediately wrapped her legs around his waist.

With her legs parted wide and her swollen, moist flesh so invitingly near, Vincent thrust into her core with a grunt of primal satisfaction.

Catherine was on fire. His turgid flesh filled her completely. She put her hands on Vincentís shoulders to give herself more leverage. She locked her ankles as she rode him fast and hard. She could not hold back any longer. She began to tingle and her thigh muscles quivered as her climax built. Her heart was thudding loudly in her ears and she was panting. Her vagina began its rhythmic contractions. Her entire body went rigid as she peaked.

Vincent felt her climax begin and intensify. Just as her climax began to crest, his body erupted into Catherineís. His penis pulsed as he exploded into her. Nothing he had ever read or dreamed came close to preparing him for this sensation Ė this intensity.

As Vincent climaxed, Catherine began to experience another orgasm Ö this one stronger than the first. "Oh my God ... Vincent." Catherine screamed at the pinnacle of her release.

Bodies joined, juices flowing down their legs, breaths heaving and hearts pounding Ö the storm had passed. Now came the languorous feelings of love and completion.

"My dearest Catherine, words cannot convey how I feel about you, nor can they describe what we just shared. It was beyond imagination, beyond ecstasy." Vincent held her close and kissed her.

"What we just experienced, Vincent Ö surely you must realize that this passion we share is unique." Catherine kissed Vincent back with a searing kiss.

Vincent could feel his shaft begin to harden inside Catherine. He could also sense her fatigue. He walked them over to the warm bath and took the three steps down into the warm water, cradling Catherine against his body. Once they were submerged up to where they were joined, he lifted her off his aroused flesh and stood her on her feet. He sat on a ledge in the water and pulled her down to sit between his legs. "Lean against me, Catherine, and soak your tired muscles."

"Yes, that sounds marvelous." Catherine leaned against Vincentís chest and savored the feeling of his strong fingers massaging her shoulders. She was so very relaxed and sleepy. She must have fallen asleep, because the when she awakened, she was lying with her backside spooned against Vincent in the soft bed. She could feel his warm breath against her nape. His right arm was lying over her body and his hand was cupping her breast. She wriggled her body closer to Vincentís.

"Youíre awake. Are you feeling rested?" Vincent spoke softly into her ear. He could feel her happiness and well-being through the bond. His happiness was a reflection of hers. Their bond had grown since their coupling. It was as though he could almost read her thoughts.

"Uh huh Ö although I am not ready to get out of this cozy bed. What time do you think it is?í Catherine wanted to see Jacob, but lying here with Vincent felt sooooo good.

"It is still early, about 6:00 am." When Catherine wriggled her warm buttocks against him again, he hardened. He couldnít resist pressing his shaft against the small of her back. He could sense her delight and was amazed at how quickly her feelings had turned from contentment to arousal.

"I love the feel of your skin against my backside Ö it really turns me on." Catherine reached between her legs and found Vincentís penis. She was aching to have him fill her from behind but knew that she would need to guide him. He was too shy and inexperienced. "Let me show you how we can enjoy lying like this even more." Catherine leaned forward slightly, parted her thighs, guided his penis into her vagina and then shimmied herself back onto him. "There, does that feel good to you?"

"Oh yes Ö but is this okay? Can we make love this way?" Vincent was very aroused but wasnít sure whether he should initiate any movement, not being familiar in the ways of sex.

"Of course it is okay. We can make love in lots of positions. This is just one variation. Itís nice. Just follow my lead." Catherine began to move against Vincent, withdrawing from him slightly and then pushing her buttocks back against him more and more forcefully.

It didnít take long for Vincent to get the hang of it. "Oh Catherine, this does indeed feel good." He repositioned them slightly as they rocked in a delightful rhythm. He now had her body partially beneath his. He felt that he could thrust into her better from this angle. "Are you all right?" He was worried that he might crush her.

"Oh yes, I am more than all right. Can you go faster and deeper?"

Vincent sped up his motions and pushed into her more deeply.

"Yes, there, thatís it." Catherine was amazed at what an amazing lover he had become so fast.

It took every ounce of willpower that Vincent had to wait for Catherine to find her release before he gave in to his. He hadnít thought that he could climax with more force than last night Ö but he had been wrong.

"Wow Ö that was amazing. I didnít think it could get any better. Boy was I wrong." Catherine was basking in the afterglow of great sex.

Vincent laughed. "My thoughts, exactly. I am your willing slave. We can try any and all positions you can dream up."

Catherine turned over and placed her hands on his face. "My own personal sex slave. So eager Ö and so well endowed." Catherine moaned seductively and then laughed in delight.

Vincent blushed but was proud that he was able to please Catherine sexually.

"Oh Vincent, this is like a dream."

"Yes, only better." Vincent moved against Catherine as his penis surged to life.

Catherine moaned as her ardent lover rolled her onto her back. "Much, much better."

The End