Note to the readers: This is for all the fans who ever felt that Vincent kept Catherine on a pedestal far too much. I hope it will help change your perspective. Just a warning - this is adult mind-candy, pure and simple. Teri

To Worship and Adore
On a Pedestal
By Teri

Vincent and Catherine sat cuddled together on her balcony, staring up at the night sky, enjoying the balmy breezes of a newly-arrived spring. They had been together for hours, reading, talking, catching up on the events both Above and Below. Now they were silent, drinking in the joy that came from simply being together. A breathless chuckle broke his concentration on the constellations above, and Vincent turned to look down at Catherine quizzically, wondering what had precipitated her laughter.

"What is it, Catherine?"

She smiled up at him. "This weekend is our third anniversary."

He smiled in turn, but his statement quickly deepened, a stunned amazement there. "I remember," he said, his voice hoarse and low. He paused for a moment, the smile returning before he continued on, this time in a lighter vein. "And that would be funny because...?" He arched an eyebrow at her teasingly and she burst into the full-throated laughter he so loved to hear. She buried her face against his breast, smothering her laughter before attempting an answer. Looking down, he stroked her silky hair, drawing in her unique scent and waiting patiently for her response. He actions brought to mind another night a year ago, when they had listened to Schubertís Unfinished Symphony beneath the bandshell in the park. It had rained suddenly, the water pouring down upon them, through the grate overhead. The concert-goers Above had scattered in a mad dash for shelter, but not them. Catherine wouldnít even accept his cloak that night, the water wetting her silky blue dress until it clung to her like a second skin. She had laughed like this then, and had pressed her face against him in just such a way. He remembered how exhilarated it had made him feel, the sensations there again, now, this night. Just then she pulled away to meet his gaze, a merry twinkle in her own which made all other thoughts disappear in a rush. He drew in a gasping breath, her beauty almost overwhelming him, the sensation appearing out of nowhere, as it so often did when he was with her, or simply thought of her, the vision in his mind as clear as her face before him now.

"Last month I was thinking about what we might do to celebrate, but now..."

She did an admirable imitation of Father, wagging her eyebrows just as he did with the children during storytime, the meaning of her words clear, and Vincent felt a growing warmth in his face. Just two weeks ago they had finally broken through all his barriers and made love. Allowing that image to the forefront of his thoughts was a mistake and he felt the heat intensify throughout his whole body. He hoped the dim moonlight, along with his unique coloring and facial hair, successfully hid the blush staining his cheeks, but her next words disabused him of that hope.

"Youíre blushing." She smiled up at him, stroking a hand along his hot cheek.

He cupped his palm over hers, pressing it tight to his face, then looked down for a moment, his gaze shuttered from her own while he attempted to regain his lost equilibrium. Finally his eyes rose to meet hers once more, a sigh whispering through him at the light of love in her eyes. It took a few minutes, but he finally found his voice again.

"I thought, Catherine..."

She cocked her head quizzically at him. "Thereís something youíd particularly like to do, Vincent?"

She asked it in all seriousness, but the blush that quickly engulfed her own cheeks told him clearly that her teasing words of a moment before were still in her thoughts. Both of them heard the unspoken addition to her sentence, Ďbesides making love...í

His own blush deepened, but he went on nonetheless, "Yes." His manner was hesitant.

"Tell me."

The phase was one she had picked up from himself and Father, and Vincent smiled now at the serious tone and statement on her face. He could feel it clearly - she was trying very hard not to let her mind wander to those other thoughts which were even now beckoning to them both.

"Yes," he repeated quickly, trying to draw his own thoughts from that seductive pathway.

"I thought you might like to visit the place where I found your crystal."

"The Crystal Caverns?" she asked, excitement suddenly evident throughout her voice and in their bond.

"Yes. If you would prefer not to, thatís all right. Itís a dayís journey, we would have to hike and camp..."

"Yes!" She interrupted him, her hands tightening on the edges of the arm holes of his quilted vest.

"Yes?" he asked, a tentative, hopeful light filling his eyes.

"Yes, yes, yes!" she cried, shaking him to emphasize each reiteration. Oh, Vincent, Iíve always wanted to see more of your world, but this is the spot Iíve wished to see more than any other. To be there with you would be a dream come true."

He sighed with relief. She wanted to go, she actually wanted to see more of his world.  "Catherine, are you sure? Itís different in the lower levels than it is in the hub. There are no people there. Some of the passageways are narrow and uneven, and itís very dark."

"Oh, Vincent, donít you know?" She stared up at him, the silvery light in her eyes filling all the dark corners of his soul. "There is no darkness when Iím with you."

His breath caught at her words. Heat tumbled through the bond, but this time he was unable to draw his gaze from the intensity of her own. Slowly, oh-so-slowly, he leaned down to her. The distance closed as she tilted her head up to him, their lips finally meeting in a soft, trembling kiss.

* * *

Catherine hitched up her pack, settling it more comfortably on her back, and was brought up short by the solid presence in front of her, moving a minute before, but now suddenly still.

"Catherine, are you tired?"

She smiled and reached out a hand to stroke soothingly along his arm.

"No, Iím not tired. It hasnít been that long since we stopped for lunch. Iím good for a few more hours at least."

"That wonít be necessary, weíre almost there now."

He pointed ahead and to the right, the dim outline of the passage hidden in shadows beyond the limits of their lantern.

"Itís no more than a quarter mile now. Do you want to rest or go on?"

"Oh, letís go on! Iím so anxious to see it, Vincent, and weíre so close."

He nodded, acceding to her wishes, then turned and led the way onward.

A quarter mile is nothing on flat, open land, but in dim, narrow and twisting passageways, with a loaded pack on your back, it is considerably harder to maneuver, and it was at least twenty minutes before they paused again. When they did, it was in front of a dark, jagged opening, at a dead-ended tunnel path, and Catherine was sure they had finally arrived. Her thoughts were confirmed a second later when Vincent swung the pack off his back, resting it against the outer wall, then helped to remove hers, setting it beside his own. He kept the lantern with him, though, and led the way in.

It was a short passage, but when they finally stepped into the opening, Catherine gasped with amazement. They stood on a narrow ledge, about ten feet above the floor of a large chamber. Vincent held the lantern high, illuminating a small portion of the space, and the light glinted off thousands - millions! - of colorful shards of crystal, embedded everywhere in the floor, walls, and ceiling. It was like nothing sheíd ever seen before, and she was speechless with the beauty surrounding her. Finally she found her voice.

"Oh, Vincent!"

He was watching her, his eyes shining with a similar light, as if he too were entranced by the beauty here, though she could clearly see that he was not attributing it to their crystalloid surroundings, and blushed in response. He stared at her for a moment longer, then silently handed her the lantern and swung himself down to the floor below. Reaching up, he took the lantern from her hand as she crouched down on the ledge, and set it at his feet, before holding both arms up to her. Without hesitation, her hands meeting his, she slid off the shelf and into his waiting arms. He held her against his body, her feet off the ground, and their eyes locked. Her eyes drifted closed as he kissed her, and behind her eyelids she could have sworn she still saw the glittering light from the crystals. Her eyes stayed shut for a moment longer when he ended the kiss, and when she finally opened them, to meet his own, she released a ragged sigh, the blue there matching the glittering images she had seen a moment since.

"Oh, Vincent." The words were the very same ones sheíd spoken just minutes ago, but now her gaze was pinned entirely upon him, on the sensual lips so very close...



She stared at him in bemusement, then felt her feet touch the floor and their bodies separate. Blinking rapidly, she finally found her bearings, and noted with a sudden suspicion the too-studied look of innocence on his face as he picked up the lantern once more and took her hand to lead her across the chamber. He moved purposely, but she dawdled, staring at the gorgeous array of crystals everywhere, as if they had been strewn haphazardly about them. The light from his lantern finally found the far wall of the chamber, and suddenly she saw another dark opening, hidden in the curved shadows of crystalloid rock. He entered and she followed, but this path was longer than the first entryway, taking several minutes to negotiate. Suddenly Vincent stopped and extinguished the light, allowing the darkness to descend upon them. She stood still, letting her eyes adjust, and felt his hand enclose hers once more. A few minutes passed while they stood unmoving, and she wondered what it was they were actually waiting for.

Surely there was no natural light source down here...

Even as the thought occurred and was dismissed, a pale light gleamed from the passage directly ahead. Her gasp of surprise must have alerted him to her sudden vision, for at that sound he moved forward again, slowly leading the way toward the light. When they stepped through the opening, the view before her left her gasping in shocked surprise. Forever after she would think of that first place as the antechamber to this one, for this chamber, unlike the other, could truly be termed a cavern. It was covered with crystals everywhere, and a dim, barely discernible light filtered down upon the glittering stones so that they sparkled with an unearthly glow, flickering as if in an underwater bed of luminescence. Peering upward, she tried to discern from whence the light came, and found a yawning opening above them. No doubt there was a ceiling up there somewhere, but it was beyond the reach of her vision. She had an eerie sense of being at the bottom of a great chasm, and wondered if she would ever again look down from the bridge over the Whispering Gallery and into the abyss without wondering what life might be staring back up at her, all unknowing. Finally she turned her gaze away from the vaulting space overhead to take in the miraculous details of the chamber surrounding her. It was unimaginably large, with ragged outcroppings of rocks, shelves, and ledges everywhere, most of them covered with crystals of various sizes and shapes. And across the way, unbelievable as it seemed, was a small pool, lights from the myriad glittering stones reflecting off its dim surface.

"Is it as you imagined it, Catherine?" he asked almost shyly.

"Oh, Vincent, itís so much more than I could ever have imagined!"

He smiled, and she knew he was pleased to have this beautiful place to show her, a part of his world that could not be matched by her own. His gaze were suddenly a bit unfocused, and he pulled it away from her face to look about the chamber at last.

"Is it warm?"


It was his turn to be confused now, and she could see that his thoughts had been elsewhere for a moment."

"The water. Is it warm? Iím a little sweaty after that hike, and a bath would be nice."

He blinked rapidly, the hazy look clearing somewhat from his eyes, though images of it still lingered on.

"Itís not warm, but itís not too cold. Itís surprisingly comfortable, considering the depth of this chamber."

Nodding in response, she walked to the edge of the pool, hesitated a moment, then began to strip her clothes off, leaving them on the shallow sloping stone which led into the water. Slowly she entered, cautiously feeling for any drop-offs which might exist. She didnít think there were any, though, since Vincent said nothing, but was instead silent behind her.

The water was indeed comfortable, cooling off the sweat of their long walk this day. She immersed herself completely, then stroked across the smooth surface of the pool and back. When she found her footing again, and pushed the hair from her eyes, she looked up to the ledge expecting to find Vincent there, waiting for her, but he was nowhere in sight. She paused for a moment, then left the water, scanning for him in the large chamber. Maybe he had gone for their packs...

No, there he was now, striding toward her from around a tall outcropping of rocks covered with crystals. His cloak was gone, and she wondered where he could have put it, but she didnít have time to wonder for long. He reached her, and without pause lifted her into his arms and turned back the way heíd come. She never thought to question his actions, instead wrapping one arm about his neck while the other hand rested on his chest, to feel the comforting thud of his heartbeat. A moment later they stood in the center of the chamber, before a tall, flat, rectangular table of rock. It rose from the ground to a height of over three feet, and was smooth on top, and flat on the sides. His cloak was laid overtop of it, and the thought flashed through her that it almost appeared like an alter of sorts, here at the center of this vaulted chamber, with glittering crystals surrounding it everywhere and a dim, hazy light drifting down over it in a shadowy cloud that both illuminated and hid. He stood before it for a moment, his gaze unfocused, and she stared up at him curiously, wondering what he could be thinking of. Then he moved forward and laid her gently down on the smooth surface.

How strange. It wasnít hard, as sheíd expected it to be, but instead felt soft and cushioned. She realized that a moss-like substance must have coated the flat surface thickly over time, here, so close to the water, and in the diffused path of the dim light. She grasped this with one small part of her mind only, for most of it was directed towards Vincent as he backed slowly away from her, his gaze pinned upon her naked, reclining form.

"I discovered this chamber when I was seventeen, Catherine. But now, every time I visit here, every time I see this place, ever since I found you, this is the image I see. You, with the light from above, part crystals and part magic, surrounding and reflecting off your delicate, ivory skin."

She drew in a deep breath, shocked by his words and the look of yearning passion and love on his face. She didnít speak, knowing that this was his moment. They had only been lovers for a couple of weeks, and he was still so tentative around her, so afraid that he might hurt her with his sharp nails, his large hands, his muscled strength. Not that it stopped him from coming to her. She almost smiled at that thought. No, once that barrier had been breached, he was as a man long starved with food set before him; he had to eat. Rarely had an evening gone by since that night just over two weeks ago without one of them coming to the other, often with flimsy excuses that fooled neither. He needed to be with her, just as she needed to be with him.

He stared at her, his eyes slowly drifting down over her body, and she drew in a gasping breath, the eroticism of his actions stunning her. She was completely naked, except for his crystal, as it lay cradled between her breasts. Its glittering light was now one of many, and she felt weightless, as if she were suspended within the magical light surrounding her. The hunger on his face had deepened, and a languorous wave swept through her. She felt decadently wanton as she lay before him, like the siren of the rocks in the sailorís tales. She stretched slowly, reaching her hands overhead and arching her back, feeling every muscle in her body shiver deliciously under his intensely compelling gaze. One leg was stretch out while the other curved upward a bit, her knee turned seductively inward, as if to hide her treasures. Her eyelids lowered till they were almost closed, but she watched his every move, and knew that he knew it, that he could see the blatant and shameless invitation in her eyes.

"Did you see me like this when you came for my crystal?"

It was impossible to miss the tight swallow evident along his throat at those words, and the almost imperceptible nod of his head in response.

"What did you imagine when you saw me here, Vincent?"

He was silent, a hazy, bemused look on his face, and she wriggled just the slightest bit, the barest, writhing movement of her hips visible to him. His mouth fell open in a gasping breath a moment before the husky, breathless words emerged. "I imagined you here, like this, where I could worship you as you deserved, adore you completely." His voice was hoarse and low.

His words took her aback, jolting her out of the languorous haze steeling over her. Her eyes widened and her breath caught a moment before she found her voice. "Worship me?" The teasing motion of her legs stilled as a frown appeared on her face. Slowly she eased to a sitting position and turned to face him, her hand reaching out to cup his jaw. Beneath her fingers she felt a tightening, a tension. "Please, Vincent, I donít want you to worship me. Iím a flesh and blood woman, not a saint, not a statue of cold stone to be admired. Surely you know by now how I feel, how I..."

"Shhh..." he whispered, interrupting her words, a finger placed gently over her lips. He held it there as he reiterated his words. "I imagined you here, where I could worship you, adore you..." a slight pause ensued, and when he spoke again she could actually hear the ache in his voice. "...touch you..." His hand stroked over her lips in a tender caress before sliding away to cup the back of her neck. "...kiss you..." He leaned forward to brush his lips over the now-sensitized fullness of her own, pulling away until their eyes could meet once more before he finished, " you..."

Catherine drew in a gasping breath, stunned by his words, his touch, and the clear look of desire in his eyes. The bond flooded through her, and understanding finally dawned. For over two years she had battled a demon of her own making. All along sheíd sensed this need in him, a need to worship and adore, but she had misinterpreted it completely. Oh, there was no doubt that he had had very real concerns regarding physical intimacy between them, but she had always assumed that there was another component to his hesitancy, one which saw their love in the light of the chivalric tales of knights and lady-loves of his youth, where only a chaste, pure love, untouched by the passions of the flesh, was a true love. She had sometimes cursed the classic education which, combined with his unique and isolated upbringing from the modern world, had doomed them - or so she once thought - to a platonic love devoid of eros. They had finally worked through his fears for her safety, but somehow this new revelation, that he had always desired her in this earthy way, was even more stunning and unexpected to her. Vincentís myriad emotions and needs where she was concerned, contained within the broad concepts of Ďworshipí and Ďadoreí, tumbled through her in a dramatic sweep. A ragged sigh escaped her, the sound full of evocative emotions; dawning awareness, amazement, and a joyful relief. The tension in her disappeared abruptly and she smiled, her lips trembling, benediction and acceptance in her loving gaze. With her eyes locked to his, she slowly leaned back until she reclined upon the table rock once more. Her bent knee again swayed lightly, back and forth, a teasing motion that almost offered a tantalizing glimpse of her hidden secrets, and his gaze was drawn there in fascination.

"I want you to do that, Vincent. I want you to touch me, kiss me, love me." Her eyes softened as she gazed up at him in complete surrender. "I want you to worship and adore me."

His gaze returned to her face at those astonishing words, and he stared at her in shocked disbelief, searching her face as if to confirm that she truly understood all that he had meant in those poignant words.

"Please" she pleaded, a breathless yearning in her voice. Her eyes, stormy as the sea with silvery lights contained within, implored him.

A gasping breath was released in a ragged fall of sound, and she knew he couldnít quite tell if this was real or somehow a part of the fantasy images that he had envisioned on his many trips to this region over the last three years. He stood frozen to the spot, and she wondered if indeed he would be able to do more than look at her, the turbulent overload of his emotions clear to her through their pulsing bond. Finally he broke that stillness and moved forward slowly, like a sleepwalker. When he stood beside her reclining form he let his gaze drift over her again, down to her feet, then back up.

Finally, when she had almost given up on it, he raised his right hand and gently, cautiously, cupped it about her cheek, staring intently, their eyes locked. He leaned down and their lips met in a soft, almost chaste kiss. He pulled back from her, but his hand didnít leave. Instead she felt the light, tentative touch of his fingers as they slid down the curve of her throat. He stroked over the delicate wing of one collarbone then back to the center, where the two met, the pads of his fingers lightly caressing the gentle hollow there. Then, palm flat once more, his hand slid down the warm center of her chest, stopping for a moment overtop of her crystal, pressing it tight between their bare skin. He moved on a minute later, stroking outward to cover her left breast, cupping it tenderly, then back to the right, touching her there as well. His fingers moved upon her, stroking the soft curves first, then teasing at her tender nipples, watching them grow harder beneath his diligent ministrations. She couldnít stop the mewling sigh that came with that erotic touch, stretching beneath his exploring hand. He stilled suddenly, cupping one breast and squeezing gently. His tongue peaked out to lick against the hidden cleft of his upper lip and she drew in a gasping breath, her abdomen pulled tight and taut with anticipation.

He didnít disappoint her. Slowly he lowered his head to her reclining form, the silky strands of his hair teasing across her torso and breasts a moment before his lips touched the puckered tip. He rested there unmoving for a moment, until a shiver coursed down her length and she twisted sinuously beneath him, pressing her nipple to his waiting lips. His hand tightened and he drew her into the wet heat of his mouth, her groaning cry echoing softly above him. At that sound his mouth closed tightly upon her tender flesh, drawing her in strongly, suckling against her as if to slake an endless thirst. A rumbling groan floated upward and vibrated through her own chest and she moaned loudly at the thrilling sensation of his touch.

"Oh, Vincent, Vincent!"

He pulled away abruptly at the sound of her voice and moved back a step, his eyes widening in shock as he took in the lusty sight of her before him, of her tender breast, wet with his kisses. And then, almost as if it were against his will, he moved forward again, back to her side. Slowly he circled the standing rock, his eyes scanning her body from every angle, his hands stroking along her shoulder and arm, the curve of her waist and hip, down her thigh and calf, onward to her foot, then moving upward to repeat those same caresses on her other side, working his way back up. Finally he stopped, this time on the opposite side from where heíd stood before, and his left hand reached out, stroking gently over her breasts once more. Her tight nipples tingled at his fleeting touches, his hand slipping away all too soon. She almost cried out for him to come back, but his hand was tracing downward, over her ribs and abdomen, and she held her voice and her breath, waiting for him to touch her again. And then he paused, his palm resting flat upon her belly, warm and heavy, until finally it moved again, sliding lower until his fingers trailed through silky curls. He stopped there for a moment, his hand covering her completely, as if both protecting and coveting what lay beneath. Finally his fingers pressed at the vee of her thighs, his desires plain. Her bent knee fell outward, responding to his slightest demand, and his hand slid down to cup the wet, creamy heat between her thighs, his thumb stroking along the tender flesh and curls above. She cried out at that intimate touch, stunned by the incredible combination of it and his intense gaze.

At first he was very still, only holding her, but then he began to slowly stroke, using the inner edge of his hand, between the curve of his index finger and thumb, delving between the wet, swollen folds of flesh to nestle against her slick, sensitive inner tissue. She couldnít restrain the soft moan that touch brought, her shoulders and torso twisting slowly, as she arched more fully against his searching hand.

"Yes... Oh, yes..." Her words were a bare whisper, caught in the hazy cloud of light above and about them.

"Catherine..." The sound barely escaped, strangled and low.

She stared up at him, stunned by the look on his face as he watched her, touched her. She had waited so long for this, for him to touch her so unrestrained, for him to admit to his passion, and seeing it now her joy was boundless. The look on his face was so much more than she had ever hoped or thought it could be. That she could be this source of pleasure for him was what she had dreamed of for years, wished for with all her heart. Everything was everything in the freedom of that moment, and she felt decadently wanton, opening her legs wider to his exploring fingers. A gasp was her reward, and her body responded immediately with a new surge of heat. She groaned as convulsions gripped her core, a fresh flow of honey drifting down. She knew he felt that response by the sudden stillness of his hand, followed by the abrupt resumption of his caresses. This time his touch was bolder, as if he had no choice but to obey the imperatives of their bond, to take all she offered, finally, at last, as his due. His eyes met hers and she gasped at the statement in them; shocked surprise and yearning hunger.

"I canít stop touching you, Catherine, I canít stop."

He said it with amazement, as if he had only just realized it himself. She reached out to stroke his right arm, her eyes alight with love and tender bliss. "I donít want you to stop," she said, her voice breathless with longing. "If only I had known..." she murmured.

The motions of his hand stilled and the stunned statement in his eyes made room for a tinge of curiosity and anxiety both. He couldnít resist asking the obvious, though it was apparent that some part of him feared the answer. "Known what?"

Her fingers slid down his right arm until they twined with his own as he stood beside her, his left hand softly rocking against the sensitive flesh between her thighs. "That this is what you meant by worshipping me." She chuckled lowly at his startled response. "I wouldnít have objected to being on a pedestal if Iíd known that this is what you meant," she said, a twinkle in her eye. She was rewarded immediately with a vivid blush, his golden hue flushing a scarlet red.

"Catherine..." he began, but got no further.

"Shhh. Worship me, Vincent." She smiled up at him, easing her thighs open further in a blatant offering that even he, innocent though he still was in so many ways, could not misinterpret. "Adore me."

"Oh, Catherine!" His voice was hoarse and low, a rumble in his chest that almost obscured the words altogether, though she swore she would have heard them had they been thoughts alone, the bond was so strong in her tonight. She didnít have time to think further, for barely had the words been spoken, and while they yet echoed above her, he had taken her mouth with his own, kissing her passionately, with a wild intensity that played havoc with her senses. She moaned into his mouth and squeezed her thighs tight, trapping his hand between them and pressing it hard to her heat-slicked flesh. Just then his fingers brushed over the swollen bundle of nerves at the apex of her tender lips and she cried out, pulling her mouth from his to draw in gasping droughts of air. Her legs fell open once more, muscles both tense and weak. She had neither will nor interest in resistance, all she wanted was more of what he gave her now, but just at then, when moments before he had seemed past all reason, hesitation appeared in his eyes. He was afraid...

"Vincent?" Her fingers tightened on his, a silvery-gray light shining from her eyes to pierce the filtering haze surrounding her. He stared back at her, uncertainty in every taut line of his face. She needed to be what he needed, but she was on the edge and couldnít focus, try as she might. Later he would tell her that the look of passionate need in her own face gave him the courage he sought, and throughout their lives together, that would always be true, each gaining the courage and strength they needed from the other, each ready always to be what their love desired. Now, though, there was room for no self-revelation, only the pain of seeing that confusion and fear in his eyes, and the need to eradicate it all, to replace it with a blissful joy that would bring him pleasure undreamed of. "Love me, Vincent, please." A whimpering sigh escaped breathlessly, her neck arching up toward him as she let her head fall back, gazing up at him through lowered lids, the color showing through that narrowed slit now intensely green. It held him pinned and helpless. "I need you."

The fingers twined with hers tightened for a moment, then released, his hand slipping beneath her back to lift her up from the surface of the rock the few scant inches required until her lips met his own once more. His kiss was overwhelming, full of passion and love and need, and she returned it with a savage fury, desperate to let him know how very right this was. The space between her thighs was suddenly, achingly empty, but her whimper eased in a moment when his hand returned, this time to her breast, where his fingers caressed the slick, sweet honey onto her rigid nipple. It throbbed in response, and she groaned loudly, needing his mouth there. As if he heard that unspoken wish, his lips eased from her own, his tongue licking lightly over their pulsing, swollen planes one last time in passing, as if he found it almost impossible to leave them. But leave them he did, hot, scorching kisses now pressed downward along her throat, to the hollow at its base, and over her chest until at last he reached the rounded swell of her breast. He licked at that pale, satiny smooth flesh, a rumbling growl growing in his chest and throat. A momentary pause, followed by a loud groan and the abrupt and hungry resumption of his mouth told her he had found the spicy sweetness now coating her there. When he had covered every inch of that smooth, surrounding flesh, he moved to the center, taking the taut peak into his mouth with a fierce appetite.

"Oh, Catherine, Catherine, Catherine..." he groaned against her silky flesh, tongue, lips and teeth devouring her in a hungry rush of sensation.

Catherine moaned in response to the compelling note in his voice, pressed her hands, palms flat, to the mossy surface beneath his cloak , keeping them at her sides, though she wanted nothing more than to enclose him in her arms, twine her fingers through his luscious mane and urge him closer to her aching breast. Never enough... she would never have enough of him and this, the hazy thought drifted through her.

His mouth moved away, leaving her breast wet and shivering in the cool air of the chamber. His hand replaced his lips in a moment, though, covering and holding her protectively as he kissed downward, over her ribcage and abdomen, diagonally along the tender curve of her belly and over her hipbone, right beside where he stood. At the hollow of her thigh and hip he nuzzled a long time, luxuriating in that steamy warm place, licking itís curves, tasting the heat of her, moving along that line toward the soft, silky curls at the apex of her thighs. He pressed a soft kiss there, but didnít stay, moving to kiss and lick her trembling thigh. She groaned in protest, but he continued on, only the tender caress of his hand upon her breast signaling that heíd heard her at all. A moment later even it was gone, as he moved down the long line of her leg, caressing it with his mouth and both hands, learning it by touch.

Catherine shivered and gasped, clenching her fists tight as he moved onward, nuzzling over her knee and on down her calf, until he reached her foot, his left hand lifting and cupping it warmly. He teased it with the fingers of his right hand now, too, stroking a sharp nail lightly over her instep, eliciting a gasping cry. She tried to stop it, afraid he would misinterpret that sound as one of pain, but she couldnít, and a moment later she sighed raggedly with relief as his touch continued on, proof that he felt and now understood the true emotions his hands inspired in her. She was lost in the sensations of his touch, and when he bent over to nibble on her toes she cried out, that action totally unexpected. He didnít stop there, though, drawing one into the hot cavern of his mouth to suck and lick it, pulling tightly before he finally released it and moved on to the next. By the time he was through with all five, she was a quivering, melting mass of throbbing flesh, and still he wasnít finished, moving on to repeat those same erotic actions on her other foot. Long before he began to trace her right leg upward, she was reduced to hoarse mewling whimpers and bird-like coos, the sensuality of his caresses overwhelming her entirely.

Her right leg now was treated to the same sweet kisses as the left had been, only this time he slipped his hand beneath her knee, along the inner edge, and lifted it upward, slipping it around the outer curve of his waist, turning outward a bit so that he could caress the sensitive inner flesh. The shudder that quivered through her was extreme, his action leaving her open and vulnerable, even though, for the moment at least, he almost stood with his back to her, nibbling along the lower line of her calf. His hand slid upward along her leg, preceding his mouth, and by the time he reached her knee the fingers of his right hand were stroking lovingly along the upper edge of her thigh, her whole body convulsing with the combined sensations of his hands and mouth. Slowly he wove a tortuous stream up along the sensitive flesh of her inner thigh, kissing, nipping and nibbling the tender flesh there, his nostrils flaring as he drew in her feminine scent so close now, so very close...

Catherine groaned softly, writhing her hips, desperate that he touch her there, at her very core, where she wanted him, needed him so badly... Finally, after an eternity of waiting, his fingers trailed through the silky curls and stroked downward, into the creamy heat below. With a gasping moan she arched her back strongly, pressing herself tight to his exploring fingers, crying out when his teeth closed gently over the tender skin of her upper thigh in response. His fingers stroked her petalled softness wide, caressing the satiny tender lips within, tracing them lightly with the sharp-tipped edge of one finger, then lightly brushing at their center, rubbing around the sensitive knot of nerves at the apex while she shivered and moaned above him. Meanwhile his mouth moved inexorably upward, toward the waiting prize, her leg held immobile by his hands and mouth, wrapped around his waist as he stood between it and the table ledge. When he finally reached the apex of her thighs he pulled back a few inches and simply stopped, gazing down at her in wonder, his fingers stroking her silky petals.

The look on his face made her want to weep, her whole body stretched taut as a bow-string. Slowly he leaned down, and when he finally touched her there, his lips rested softly against her own. Gently, tenderly, he began to nuzzle and lick, a groaning sigh echoing out to vibrate between her thighs. He kissed her with such poignant tenderness, exploring every inch of her slowly, with lips, teeth and tongue. Little by little his tender caresses grew stronger, deeper and bolder, until she writhed beneath him shamelessly, her moaning cries continuous and loud and blending with the growling groans rumbling through his chest and throat. Hungrily he devoured her delicate flesh, tasting her honeyed depths as though he were starved for just that morsel, as if heíd waited for the fulfillment of that craving all his life. The bond swelled with sensuality, taking on an earthy aspect that had been absent before, their previous loving so cautious and controlled. That was gone now entirely, and she knew it would never again be so between them, that this wildly abandoned giving now marked them in a way that would forever change them. The swirling sensations expanded and grew, her cries rising in frequency and pitch until an explosive force rocked her foundation, a keening wail echoing through the vaulted expanse overhead. His mouth urged her on, extending her tumultuous release for some time uncounted. Finally her climax began to taper off, and feeling those sensations recede, his caresses subsided as well, until the moment eased off in perfection. One last, languorous shiver undulated down her length, but she was completely unaware of it, lost in some other place with Vincent and their bond. He, however, still had the full use of his faculties, and watched the last of her bodyís response, gazing up along the now-relaxed length of her body with unadulterated joy and wonder, his fingers stroking the tender, quivering lips between her thighs.

Finally she lay utterly still beneath his caressing hand. Gently he slipped his hands around her back and eased her up against his shaking torso, holding her tight to his chest, fingers stroking lovingly along the slender curve of her spine and the sweet, feminine swell of her hips. He rocked her slowly against him, easing her down from the tumultuous ecstasy of her orgasm, feeling the little, shivery bursts of sensation that still filled her, the bond a perfect reflection of her emotions now, in the aftermath of that fiercely explosive pleasure. Little by little reality congealed about her. He felt it all, holding her close until a tiny sigh eased out against his throat. Slowly he leaned back, still holding her safe and close, but now gazing into the silvery light of her eyes.

"Oh, Vincent, there are no words to tell you how you make me feel," she murmured, still lost in the bliss of her release.

He stared into her eyes with avid hunger, drinking in this final evidence of her pleasure, unbelievably aroused by the knowledge that he had been the source of that joy. His eyes grew wide as her fingers slid slowly down to undo the laces on his vest. She slipped off the ledge, her legs still somewhat shaky, and wrapped one arm around him, leaning against him a little as the other continued its work at the center of his chest.

Vincent stared down at her busy fingers, stunned by what he had set in motion. He gasped as the heavy belt fell away and the buttons of his trousers were quickly undone. Glancing up, she saw disbelief and lust at war in his eyes, and her own twinkled merrily in response. Hooking a hand around his neck she pulled him down until her lips met his, kissing him passionately, telling him clearly that her own strength, depleted though it was from his so-recent attentions, was more than sufficient to undo him now. The fingers of her other hand eased inside the now-loosened trousers to find his pulsing length, stroking and caressing him with a fervid joy. Vincent groaned into her mouth in ecstasy, shaking in her arms.

"Itís my turn now, Vincent," she said, slowly returning from the depths which had consumed her.

"Your turn?" he whispered, held tight by the light of love and languorous passion in her eyes.

Nodding slowly, she glanced down to the table beside them, then back up at him before continuing on, "My turn to worship and adore you," she whispered. "And when Iím finished," she sighed happily, her fingers moving slowly along his throbbing length, exploring every inch of him with a thoroughness that left him gasping, "we can worship and adore each other again, this time together."

Vincent groaned in response, then pulled her closer, taking her mouth with his own, kissing her again, his mastery stunning her anew. "Catherine?" he rumbled, the sound vibrating directly onto her lips from his.

"Yes, my love," she murmured, still nuzzling the silky line of his upper lip, beginning to trace it to its center, to the heavenly, hidden cleft where so much pleasure awaited him.

"Worship me, Catherine," he whispered hoarsely, "Adore me."

And she did.

The End