A Battle Lost but Also Won
It had been a wonderful day. Catherine had gotten a rare afternoon off and she and Jenny were able to enjoy a pleasant lunch and spent the rest of the day window shopping and just spending time together. It was now early evening and the two friends were sitting comfortably in the gentle light of a few small table lamps and chatting in Catherine’s apartment. Bright artificial light was too harsh for Vincent’s sensitive eyes and Catherine had come to prefer this softer more diffuse illumination.
Jenny had been introduced to Vincent some months before and they had quickly formed a solid friendship. When they had met for the first time Vincent had braced himself for the usual reactions of shock and fear. The only shock had been on his part. Jenny had screamed but only due to her excitement at finally meeting the man that had stolen her best friend’s heart. The three of them had talked together in Catherine’s apartment for hours that night. During that first meeting Vincent had turned to Jenny in puzzlement and asked about her initial reaction to him.
"I am sure that Catherine warned you about my appearance, but I still expected you to be afraid or horrified when you first saw me. I detected neither of these emotions, for which I am very grateful. But how is this possible?"
Jenny gave him a long assessing look before she answered. "The night that psychopath kidnapped Cath and tried to drown her, I wanted to stay at her apartment but she wouldn’t let me. She said she would not be alone. That is all she said, but the way she said it was enough. After that I started to have dreams about the two of you. Most of my dreams are pretty symbolic and I thought that these were just more of the same. I thought your physical appearance in the dreams was meant to convey that you were strong and noble and would take care of her. It was a relief to find out just how accurate they were."
Then Jenny’s tone lightened "As it turned out, they were more accurate than I could have ever imagined. Not that I mind her finding someone so strong and noble, but did you have to be drop dead gorgeous too? You can trust Cathy to find the most amazing man in New York and then keep him a secret from the rest of us poor souls." This was followed up with a dramatic sigh and a strong shake of her head. "You know if you were to change your mind I am a really good cook"
Between the look of stunned amazement on Vincent’s face and the look of avid speculation on Jenny’s, Catherine was overcome with laughter. Soon both she and Jenny had fallen back against the couch together in companiable hilarity. It was some minutes before they were able to get themselves under control. By that time Vincent had regained his usual equanimity.
Cocking his head one side, Vincent seemed to consider that last statement before responding dryly "Just how good a cook are you?"
This sent both women into gales of laughter and Vincent soon followed with his unique soft chuckle. From the time of that first meeting it became a running joke for Jenny to periodically leave various baked goods for Vincent. He always accepted these with gratitude not only for the gifts themselves, but for what they implied. It was very clear to him that Catherine and Jenny were very close. Jenny’s acceptance of him and of their relationship meant a great deal to them both.
Vincent was thinking about the extent of that relationship as he approached her balcony. He knew that Catherine and Jenny had spent the afternoon together and he had experienced her feelings of happiness and relaxation through the bond as the afternoon had progressed. He also felt a sudden surge of warmth that sang to his heart of her desire for him. That brought a tingling to his blood and a tightening of his muscles that seemed to center on his groin. He shook his head in mock dismay at the direction his thoughts were taking but quickened his steps. Would this visceral wanting of her ever change? He thought not, and could not bring himself to be ashamed of that wanting. Vincent had finally accepted the fact that the fulfillment of their desire was right between them. Finally understood that it was the only way either could be completely whole. Overcome his seemingly insurmountable personal barriers and consummated their relationship as fate and their bond had always meant them to. Oh God, how he loved her!
When he arrived Vincent could hear the sounds of an animated discussion taking place between the two women. The French doors were open and he came just within the threshold and leaned back against the doorframe. His presence had not been noticed and Vincent was loath to interrupt the conversation. He was also intensely curious as to what could have caused the rush of heat he had felt.
"C’mon Cath, I know you have got to have some good candidates for our personal Men of Manhattan calendar. Joe isn’t half bad looking and what about that guy that works at Gino’s Deli? Hmm?"
Shaking her head in amusement, Catherine responded "Jen, if you are so convinced that we need a pinup calendar why don’t you contribute some names of your own? You know there is only one man I look at and we could hardly put together a calendar that included his picture."
"Oh, I don’t know about that. We could do an entire calendar of his perfect self. I can just see Mr. March. Vincent coming back from fixing a pipe leak, with a muddy wrench in one hand and his wet clothes all plastered to that amazing physique…" Jenny’s eyes had closed as she imagined that incredible sight.
Catherine had been imagining that sight too and Vincent’s physical response to her musings caused him to draw his cloak a little tighter around himself. It was past time he made his presence known.
He levered himself up from the door frame and two sets of eyes widened and fastened themselves on him. He turned his attention to Jenny and said in feigned seriousness "While I do get a bit muddy on those occasions, I seldom get very wet. If what you are describing should actually occur I will be sure to inform you posthaste"
Jenny stared for a second before she was able to stammer out "You do that Vincent" Turning to Catherine she quickly took her leave with a promise to get together later on in the week and was out the door.
Catherine was surprised but pleased by his reaction. She knew that Vincent had heard part of their conversation. Until recently it would have engendered acute embarrassment or might have caused him to leave altogether. This time he had not only stayed but had had actually joined the discussion and even seemed amused by it!
Catherine looked at the closed door and then looked back at Vincent. Tried to suppress her smile and failed. "I think you just rendered Jenny speechless"
"Is that even possible? If so, this is a momentous occasion and I will have to make note of it on my calendar" He was more successful in suppressing his smile than she had been, but the sparkle in his eyes completely betrayed him.
Vincent pulled Catherine into his arms and bent his golden head to hers "But first..." Their lips met in a slow gentle kiss that warmed them both and reaffirmed their love for each other. Catherine was dressed in a suede skirt the color of sunset that reached midway down her calves. The matching short sleeved suede shirt was belted softly at her slender waist. It felt wonderful under his palms and he could not keep his hands from traveling sensuously up and down her body over the fabric.
"Hmmm, hold that thought. I will go make us some tea" whispered Catherine as she broke the kiss and headed towards the kitchen. ‘Damn, how does he do that? A simple kiss and I am ready to have him take me right there on the living room floor!’ Trying to calm her rapid breathing, Catherine gave herself a mental shake as she began working on the tea preparations.
Vincent had moved to lean once more on the frame of the French doors and thought of what he had interrupted a few minutes past. He could not deny what Catherine had felt during her conversation with Jenny and was intrigued by it. Vincent was not unfamiliar with such calendars. What Father’s library had lacked in this area Devin’s had certainly made up for. While it was true that Catherine now knew his body intimately, he had never purposely drawn attention to it in such a way. He allowed himself a wry internal smile as he shifted slightly in an attempt to ease a growing discomfort in what Catherine insisted was a favorite part of that body. The sight of her had driven him mad with great frequency and, he had to admit, with very satisfactory results of late. Perhaps it was time to turn the tables just a little…
Catherine finished brewing the tea and had started to assemble a tray when she heard a sudden thump from the area of the French doors. She looked out from the kitchen in surprise to see one of Vincent’s boots lying on its side on the landing. He often removed his boots and socks while in her apartment. He said to prevent tracking in dirt, but she knew it was also because he enjoyed the tactile feel of her warm carpet under his bare feet. It was impractical to go without shoes Below due to both the temperature and the rough stone of the tunnels. She was glad that she was able to provide him the opportunity for this simple pleasure. He had always placed them quietly just inside the door though, had never dropped them haphazardly. Turning back to finish assembling the tray, Catherine was startled to hear another thump as the second stout boot went to join its fellow on the floor.
Picking up the tea tray, she moved to the living room to place it on the coffee table but was brought up short by the look that he gave her from his place beside the wall. Once assured of her full attention, he slowly removed his cloak and turned toward her before draping it casually over one arm. He held himself still just slightly longer than necessary before negligently tossing it to rest on a nearby chair. Catherine was struck anew at how his physical presence seemed to expand once free of the concealing folds of his cloak. She felt desire for him move through her languidly like smoke, filling her completely.
Vincent took a step towards her. The intensity of his gaze never faltered as his hands went to one of the ties of his vest. He had felt Catherine’s reaction to what had just transpired and this had the effect of increasing his own need. A quiet growl had started low in his throat which seemed to vibrate in the air between them. He unfastened the tie. Paused. Took a step. Loosened the second tie. Waited. Took another step towards her. He stopped his advance and paused again as he loosened the last tie. Planting his feet firmly, Vincent shrugged the vest from his broad shoulders and once again held himself still for long moments before letting it fall behind him to drop at his feet. Vincent’s growls had been steadily growing in intensity and volume as he advanced. The languid smoke in Catherine’s body had rapidly transformed into raging fire. It ran through her veins and centered in her womb seeming to make it pulse with each beat of her heart. Her eyes closed as she forced another breath into starved lungs.
They flew open again as he took another step forward. She was able to focus in time to see him cross his arms in front of his chest. He quickly brought them down in order to grasp the bottom edge of the multiple layers of clothing remaining on his upper body. That clothing was rapidly drawn over his head to be held at his side in one large hand as he briefly paused again before tossing them dismissively away. Bare to the waist, the soft hair on Vincent’s arms, chest and torso caused him to be limned in shimmering sparks of copper and gold. Each taut muscle was clearly defined as a result of his unique nature and the hard physical labor required of him in the tunnels.
He had been unprepared for the extent of Catherine’s feelings of desire, no, lust, and his own reaction to those emotions. Their passion seemed to arc between them like electricity. Vincent held his arms high, flexing and stretching upwards and he threw his head back trying to maintain his wavering self control. Catherine felt her mouth grow dry. The restless tossing of Vincent’s head caused his wild mane of hair to take on the appearance of a halo of flickering flame in the soft light. His rigid arms spoke of immense power barely contained. Catherine felt the strain in her own arms and only then realized she was still tightly gripping the tea tray. Her knuckles were white and her arms ached with effort. She barely managed to relinquish it to the table without it falling from her shaking hands.
Sensing her movement, Vincent dropped his arms and once more looked into her eyes, demanding her attention. That look held both command and possession. Such a look would have been abhorrent from any other man. It was something she had longed for from Vincent. She wanted to be truly and completely his. Have him know it. Claim it as his due. She had offered him that gift long ago and at last he had accepted it.
His breathing was rapid and harsh and the sounds he was making would have terrified anyone but Catherine. She found them arousing almost beyond bearing and was unaware of the rough sounds emerging from her own throat.
Only a short distance separated them now. Once more Vincent took a step. He abruptly took Catherine’s hand in his and pulled it forward to slowly caress his swollen manhood through the soft fabric of his pants, once, twice, three times before releasing it again. That highly erotic action was totally overwhelming and Catherine found that her unsteady legs would no longer fully support her. He then finally, finally, removed that barrier, completely exposing himself to her sight. Fully clothed his presence was formidable, naked and aroused he was the very embodiment of male virility. She heard his siren’s song and would have fallen had Vincent not neatly pulled her towards him. He again covered her lips with his own. This kiss was no gentle reaffirmation but rough demand. She returned it with a demand just as powerful. His kiss said ‘I will take you and make you mine!’ Hers replied ‘Take me… if you can!’
Once more Vincent’s hands were traveling her body over her clothing. This time he pulled her skirt up on either side until it was raised to her hips. This allowed him to access the top of her silky panties. He toyed with the waistband for a few seconds before slipping his two index fingers beneath it. Turning his sharp claws outward he neatly slit her panties at both sides and that unwanted encumbrance loosened but did not fall, held up by the pressure of their bodies. Vincent slipped a hand under the smooth fabric and moved across her pelvis to brush across the springy curls guarding her femininity. Responding to this action, Catherine pressed her body even more tightly to his. He did not stop but pushed strong fingers onward to draw across her cleft, parting it and stroking firmly. Stimulating her until those fingers were wet and the intoxicating scent of her desire rose to envelop them both. Only then did he give a slight tug and that silky wisp slipped down her legs and was gone. Having accomplished his purpose, Vincent let her skirt fall once more to swirl gracefully around her calves.
Catherine released her breath in a sudden gasp and was able to force out a ragged plea. "Vincent, please…. "
She wanted the feel of him against her and moved to pull her skirt off. Vincent was not yet ready for that to happen. Locking his eyes with hers, he took a wrist in either hand and just held them until she was still once more. Bending to seize her lips in a searing kiss, his hands moved sensuously up her arms until his fingers grasped the straps of her bra on either side. Once again his sharp claws easily sliced through the fabric. Catherine had not been idle. She had used his momentary distraction to grasp him by his softly furred buttocks and pull him firmly to her in that spot that she so desperately needed him to be. This time it was Vincent’s turn to gasp as he loosed part of that iron control and ground his rigid erection against her with a growl. His head dropped and his lips sought that sensitive spot between neck and shoulder which he laved with his rough tongue. Catherine arched her chest forward at that exquisite sensation, causing her shirt to gap open at the space between her breasts. Vincent slipped a finger into that gap and neatly slit her bra at the center. His hands were once again moving even as his lips and tongue made love to Catherine’s throat and shoulder. This time one hand slid under her shirt and belt so that he could access the back of her bra and finally pull it free. Vincent dropped it to the floor to lie beside the ruined underwear. As if waiting for this opportunity, the other hand began exploring a breast through her shirt. He held that breast securely, kneading it with a warm palm and using his thumb to flick at her nipple until the sensitive tip hardened and rose to rub against the soft fabric. It felt absolutely wonderful. Catherine released another shuddering gasp as she provocatively twisted her pelvis against Vincent’s throbbing erection in response.
His voice was guttural and slurred with passion "Catherine, I must…"
With one powerful motion he pulled the front of her skirt up, lifted her to his waist and buried himself completely in her heat. As always, Vincent took a moment to savor the feeling as Catherine tightened her internal muscles to clasp him within her. As if attempting to merge her flesh with his.
A small sound of frustration left her lips as she tried to move against him but couldn’t manage it in that position. Her arms rested along his broad shoulders and her legs were wrapped around his taut waist.
"Now Vincent… hard… please…" She moaned into his neck.
‘Oh, God…she truly wants this….I want this…this is not wrong…this cannot be wrong…I must…Oh, God…’
Vincent pulled her close. He set a rapid rhythm, plunging hard and deep. Catherine had time to wonder what had finally broken through the last of Vincent’s personal barriers to allow such a lack of his usual constraint and iron control. It brought her a visceral feeling of excitement and satisfaction. And then she lost the ability to think and gave herself over completely to sensation. Vincent would keep her safe, he always kept her safe. Soon both were on the edge of release. One more powerful thrust and Vincent went over with a silent roar that reverberated and crashed through the bond. The feeling as he pulsed strongly deep within her brought Catherine to her own blinding orgasm. She bit him hard at the base of his neck and shoulder to keep from crying out. That incited a few more shuddering thrusts which milked the last drops of Vincent’s passion from him before the world faded.
As he slowly came back to himself, Vincent realized that he was still standing in the middle of the room with Catherine clinging to him. Her legs had relaxed their hold somewhat and he found he could breathe a little more easily. He was not sure how much of that difficulty had been due to his arousal and how much had been due to the death grip she had applied to his waist and chest. In any case, it hardly mattered now. What did matter was that he put her down safely before both of them collapsed into an untidy heap on the floor. With only that thought in mind he settled her more comfortably in his arms and began to walk to her bedroom.
Satisfied but not completely sated, Catherine was using her vaginal muscles to knead Vincent’s manhood, enjoying the friction caused by the motion he made as he walked. With this stimulation on his sensitized flesh he found himself stirring once more.
"Catherine, you must stop what you are doing or we may not make it to your bed. I do not wish to drop you" He attempted a light tone but his voice was rough with want for her.
"I guess I had better hold on more tightly then" she answered languidly as she clamped down hard with her inner muscles. She was rewarded with a choked groan and had to burrow her face into his chest to hide a wicked grin.
Vincent lowered his forehead to rest on the top of her head. "You should be ashamed of yourself Catherine. You are taking unfair advantage of my vulnerable state"
"Love, attorneys have difficulty with the concept of an unfair advantage. But since you don’t like what I’m doing…" She abruptly relaxed that intimate grip to be greeted with yet another low moan. This one held a note of disappointment and she grinned again.
By this time they had reached the safety of her bedroom and Vincent slowly withdrew himself from her body. He found the contrast between her moist heat and the cool air on his now full erection to be an amazing sensation and wanted to prolong it as much as possible. A light touch to her legs and Catherine unwound them from his waist to stand near the edge of the bed as Vincent drew the comforter down. He picked her up once again to lay her gently among the pillows and softly scented sheets.
Stepping back to look at her for a moment, Vincent was once again struck by how small and delicate she appeared and knew how deceiving that appearance could be. She could be a fierce warrior, giving no quarter when fighting for something she believed in. He knew she had fought many battles on his behalf --- in guarding the secrecy of his world, against those Above who would do him harm, against Father’s rigid restrictions, even against himself and his stubborn disbelief that he was worthy of the love of a woman in all its richness. That last battle was finally over and Vincent felt his throat tighten with emotion. She deserved everything, everything. He would see that she received all that was in his power to give her for as long as she would have him.
He lay down beside her and took her tenderly in his arms. "I love you, my Catherine" he whispered softly.
She felt the sting of tears beneath her eyelids. Catherine had waited so long to hear him say that small word my. "And I love you, my Vincent. More than you will ever know"
This loving was as soft as the other had been primal. It was a slow, sweet coming together. Light touches as Vincent slowly undressed her, taking his time as he made love to her, worshipping her body. Gentle caresses as Catherine worshipped his. Fulfillment, when it came, was the perfect melding of body and soul.
Later, Catherine lay on her side contentedly resting her head in the hollow of his shoulder. She was idly running her fingers through the soft fur on his chest as he lay on his back holding her close.
"Vincent, I need to know something"
"Hmm?" was the articulate reply as his hand began to stroke her arm.
"What caused you to act the way you did earlier?"
The stroking stopped abruptly and he became very still. He had sensed no pain or fear from her, but caught up as he was in his own emotions how could he know for sure what her true feelings had been?
Feeling his stillness, Catherine raised her head and hastened on in an earnest tone. "I loved what you did tonight Vincent. I have longed for you to release yourself fully. Give yourself permission to feel instead of analyze. Allow yourself the freedom to fully express this wonderful love and passion that we have between us. You did that tonight and it was beyond anything I had ever hoped to experience. A dream I had for us that you have made a reality"
Vincent released the breath he had not realized he was holding and resumed the stroking motion on her arm.
Reassured that he understood what she was trying to say, Catherine lowered her head once more. She began toying with one of his nipples before resuming in a sultry voice "So you see it’s important to me to know what I did to cause this behavior of yours so that I can ensure that it happens again in the future"
Vincent clasped that wayward hand lightly in his own and brought it to his lips to place a gentle kiss on her fingers. He returned their clasped hands to his chest and considered his words before answering. "It wasn’t you Catherine"
Her head popped up again and Vincent used his free hand to apply gentle pressure to her hair until she once again rested on his shoulder and he could continue stroking her arm. She felt a gentle ripple of amusement through the bond as he resumed speaking.
"It wasn’t you Catherine, at least not entirely. When I arrived on your balcony you and Jenny were deep in conversation and I did not want to interrupt you. I found the topic of your discussion intriguing. There was no misunderstanding the content of that conversation and Jenny’s reaction to it as well as your own. As you may be aware, the sight of your body often has a certain… affect… on me which I sometimes find hard to control. I wanted to see if I could produce the same affect in you while maintaining my own composure" At this point the sense of rueful amusement became much more pronounced. "It was a sound plan in theory, but much more difficult to execute than I had hoped. I should have known before ever beginning such an endeavor that it would have been impossible to carry out successfully" He was pleased to feel Catherine’s smile as she pressed a loving kiss to his throat.
Vincent paused to gather his thoughts and his tone become serious. "There is an aspect to what occurred earlier that disturbs me greatly Catherine. As I approached you a change came over me. With each step my emotions became more powerful. I found the prospect of my pending nudity while you were still fully clothed to be incredibly arousing. I wanted to possess you completely. Control you and bend you to my will. If you had refused me at that moment it would not have mattered. I do not think I would have been able to stop. I could have injured you and that is something I would never have been able to live with"
Catherine’s earnest voice was just as serious. "Vincent, by now you should know that I would never refuse you. I wanted those same things, needed those same things. I know that this will be difficult for you to understand, but sometimes what you are describing is exactly what a woman craves if they love that man as much as I love you. You did not hurt me Vincent. I know that could never happen. The love you feel for me would never allow it. Our bond would never allow it"
Her voice became apologetic as she touched the spot on Vincent’s neck that she had bitten earlier. "You however did not escape unscathed. I don’t think I broke the skin, but there is going to be a spectacular bruise here. I’m sorry for hurting you" She gently ran her fingers over the spot once more before placing a soft kiss there. That touch produced a tingle that went all the way down to his toes.
"You did not hurt me Catherine. In fact at the time your actions definitely added…spice…to the experience"
"You liked it?"
The way Vincent said yes always gave her chills. A sudden impish thought occurred to her and she acted on that impulse before her more mature self could assert itself. With a sudden movement she leaned over Vincent and nipped him sharply on the other side of his neck before flopping onto her back.
"Catherine! What was that for?"
"Because you said you liked it"
"Yes, I did say that but…"
Catherine could no longer contain the merriment that had been fighting for release. It was only then that Vincent realized she was teasing him and he pulled her close as his soft laughter joined hers. He knew their life together would surely have its share of joys and sorrows. As he drew his fingers across the slight tenderness where Catherine had just nipped him he also knew that it would never be dull. Oh how he was looking forward to it!