47

A LIFE LESS ORDINARY

Southofoz

Author's Note - The Journal entries which Vincent wrote in some episodes have been included below - no copyright infringement intended.

PART TWO

'I have not raised the canopies that sheltered revelling kings.

But I have fled from crimson eyes and black unearthly wings.

I have not knelt outside the door to kiss a pallid queen.

But I have seen a ghostly shore that no man else has seen.'

In Vincent's chamber his granddaughter sat by his bedside. He had had a peaceful night and was still sleeping. His fever was still evident by the beads of perspiration on his forehead, and Cate offered to sit with him. She had brought the next in the sequence of journals with her. It was a well-worn red, hard covered, book which looked often read and greatly cherished. When he awoke, he turned to her; and he did not need to speak. His eyes spoke his thoughts. She opened the first page and began to be drawn into her grandfather's world of many years ago and to share his feelings and experiences.

***

I love my family and friends, and without them I could not survive. I would do anything to keep them safe, but at times their fear for MY safety is a weight that I would gladly do without. 'A simple dream, born of love,' I told Father this evening. The dream of being with Catherine in a place she loved as a child. Is it so much to ask? And she wanted it so desperately. How could I refuse her? Must my responsibilities to my family and this world force me to disappoint the one person who asks for so little? Must I choose between hurting the one person that I love above all others and disappointing the many who have loved me and nurtured me all my life?

Catherine's sorrow and crushing disappointment was a gnawing ache within me when I had to refuse her simple request. Was it her pain that caused me to have the dream, or was it real – that terrible world where I didn't exist? It was a frightening place, and I was so lost. I was greatly relieved when I opened my eyes to find Catherine placing a soft kiss on my brow. The relief was so sweet, to have her in my arms again after what had seemed an eternity without her, in a world filled with darkness and hatred; and I never wanted to let her go. 'Remember Love,' she said, echoing the dream spirit, which I thought was strange; and I vowed as I held her that the day would come when we would see her lake.

***

"Did you ever go to that Lake Grandfather?"

"Many times …"

Cate noticed a secret smile on his face and wondered…

***

I have found many things in the East River, but never a young man. Dimitri is so determined to find his Anna, and his love for her is so strong that I must help him in any way I can. I am sure that Catherine will help also.

I fear Dimitri is very sick, but he is determined to go to Anna. Catherine is looking for her now, and I am sure she will find her.

That Dimitri would die was beyond my comprehension and a terrible blow. Father fears it will grow worse now that others are sick as well. I feel responsible, but what else could I have done? Father is so very concerned.

There has been so much sorrow in these past days that my heart is sore. To have to tell Eric of Ellie's passing was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Ellie, dear sweet Ellie. She was so very young and had had such a hard life before coming to us. All Dimitri had wanted was to go to his Anna, and instead he found death and brought pain to others. This was very far from his intention. What had he had to endure before coming here only to die? The heart is such an unfathomable organ. It leads us to feats of courage we dare not contemplate. Father still mourns Dimitri's loss, and Ellie … sweet Ellie. Father feels so distressed by her loss, and Eric is missing her terribly.

***

"It was my fault." Vincent said suddenly.

"No Grandfather. You saved Dimitri, and he would have died alone."

"Perhaps,"

Catherine knew that nothing else she could say would change his mind and began to read on.

***

After the sadness of Ellie's death and the pain it caused her, I took Catherine to the Music Chamber tonight for the first time, to lighten her heart. It is one of my favorite places and is filled with such peace, and our time together was wonderful. Yet when she returned Above and I was left alone with the night and all that it holds for me, I was melancholy. I saw the loneliness in the people on the streets…the lost ones that even our world cannot help, and then I saw Rollie. He is no longer the boy he once was, filled with innocence and promise; but I knew it was him. Eli and Catherine warned me that he may not wish to be found, but I could not leave him thinking that we didn't care. But they were right, and I fear he is truly lost to us. Catherine has given me hope.

***

"Father would tell me about master Rollie and his piano lessons." Cate said with a smile.

"Yes. Catherine knew that in time Rollie would come home, and he became a wonderful teacher."

"Is his piano still there?"

"The last time I was in that part of the tunnels it was still there, and there were some who polished and tuned it. I have not been there for some time."

Cate made up her mind to go to that long lost chamber and find Rollie's piano.

***

I find these times when there is someone new in our tunnels very lonely, although I would never tell this to those I love..,for I choose to hide from new arrivals, as I have done many times before. But I am not needed for new tunnels, or for the coming Winterfest Celebration; so I must entertain myself and keep out of sight of Lena. From what Father says she has suffered more than her share; and I have no wish to cause her more, especially in her condition…so I must wait.

Today has been a day of firsts. That Lena saw me and accepted me was both surprising and touching. And that she should want me by her side when her child was born also touched me deeply. I was overwhelmed with emotions I have never experienced before. There is something in Lena that I find comforting, and her openness and acceptance is endearing.

To hold a newborn baby in my arms…there were no words that I could find to express the beauty and promise of a new life. I knew that Catherine was dreaming, as was I. But alas, for me I fear that dream will never be.

Lena...I know I've hurt her. She came to me with an open heart and a will to love, and I had to refuse her. I feel conflicted where Lena is concerned, but she must understand there can be nothing but friendship between us. I fear it is already too late.

I could do nothing to spare Lena the pain of rejection, and I feel responsible for her leaving. I have kept this attraction from Catherine…I know not why. Perhaps to spare her, but now I am not sure. Was it because – for that moment, that instant in time, 'I felt what it was like to be someone else's possibility'? For me this is a realm I have visited only once before…until Catherine, and I am in unfamiliar territory. I cannot deny that I felt a kinship to Lena in ways I do not understand, and I wondered what my life might have been if I had not found Catherine. I think it is time I speak with Catherine.

Catherine understood perfectly. I should have known. But my own feelings of guilt had overcome reason. I should never have kept what had happened between Lena and me from her. Without a word concerning my omission, Catherine went in search of Lena, into a part of the city I would rather she did not go; but in this, Catherine is the only one who has any chance of finding a lost and confused young woman. I felt her apprehension and then her hope and now sadness. I can feel Catherine approaching the tunnels, and Lena is with her. She will want to see her child, so I will meet them.

Catherine was greatly touched that Lena named her child after her. What a great compliment to pay to someone, and Catherine deserved it more than anyone I have ever known.

Delivering the Winterfest candle to Catherine was one of the most pleasurable tasks I have performed this year. That everyone had voted for Catherine to be included in the list of Helpers was for me a true acknowledgement of her place in my life and our community. Catherine was also deeply touched by their invitation.

Father's reminiscences of the first Winterfest was unexpected, and it felt somewhat sad. That a man such as Paracelsus had once been such a part of our world is hard to believe; but his shadow will not mar our celebration, even if his memory still haunts Father.

Many Winterfests have come and gone, but this Winterfest will live in my memory forever, not with sadness because of what Paracelsus tried to do, but because it was Catherine's first. The events of the evening were almost shattered by Paracelsus' evil; but Catherine discovered his disguise, and the threat was averted. Father has convinced Narcissa to stay in the hospital chamber a few more days. In the end it was the best Winterfest of them all for me. To have Catherine in my arms in the empty hall as we danced to music that only we could hear was a moment I will dream of for the rest of my life.

Michael has been such an asset to our community; and when I think of the heart-sore and unhappy boy he was seven years ago, I am again thankful for our world and what it can do for some lives. He has grown into such a thoughtful and kind young man. Catherine will help him adjust to life Above, I am sure. I will miss him, but he must go forth into the world to become the man I know he can be. Catherine is so generous to take him in and to help him adjust to his new life. I am sure she will help him in ways no other person could.

Michael's tender heart caused him to see his love for Catherine as wrong, and l was too selfish to spare him the pain of his guilt. His feelings for Catherine were true and out of his control, and I forced my own guilt and jealousy upon him. What I felt was wrong, but Catherine made me see the truth; and I saw much from her point of view. My own shame and guilt was blinding me to the truth which Catherine deals with daily. Catherine's words were true, 'We don't know what the limits are.' and 'There is no life without limits.' But the more time passes, the more I am faced with what it means for Catherine to be with me.

Michael is now in the world Above, and his life there has just begun.

As we stood on Catherine's balcony tonight, watching the city, there was a wall between us. I suddenly realized what was happening and that we were both blaming ourselves for something over which we had no control. What had happened between us had been in some ways the first time we had faced jealousy, and again it was not of Catherine's doing. When I realized this, I drew her close; and I felt her sorrow and confusion melt. I knew then that a new chapter had begun in our lives.

Laura deserves to find happiness, but at what cost? She is in love, and that is a thing to rejoice; but she is in a dangerous place and with a dangerous group of people. How can we help her?

It's late, yet I cannot sleep. I'm thinking of Laura. It's cold up there tonight. I can feel it…the chill down through the layers of pipe and earth that insulate us – protect us. What's happening to her? Can there be anything so painful as watching the child you love falter in the world – refuse your help.

At what point do you draw quietly away from their lives? At what point do you say, 'I am no longer responsible.' We taught Laura to depend on herself, to think her own thoughts. Do we now tell her to disregard those lessons, to doubt herself – to change? She is a woman now, no longer a child. What is happening to her up there?

After the capture of those whom Laura had considered family, she has made her own choice, as she always has; and that choice has come with a price. But to love, one must be open to all that love brings…the good and the bad. Laura has learned a sad lesson, but she is stronger for it; and I am proud of her regardless.

***

"I saw Laura's granddaughter a few days ago. She is studying for the police force like her grandfather," Cate stated with a smile.

"That is good to hear. It was a sad day when Laura's husband was killed in the line of duty. I am surprised she did not dissuade her granddaughter as she did her son."

"She tried, but Ellie was too stubborn," Cate said with a smile for Ellie, who was one of her closest friends.

"I can well imagine." Vincent said with an answering smile.

***

Catherine astounds me at every turn. That she can remember what it was like to be a child reminded me of that part of her that I cherish so. She is filled with the innocent quality that has given her the ability to understand Bryan. He is a likeable young man, and I think he will keep our secret.

It is a sad thing when a child feels forced to run from parents

who love him yet appear to be fighting over him, or even seem to see him as a burden. Bryan felt that our world was the only place where he was understood, but the truth is that it is he who does not understand his parents. Their lost love for one another does not mean that their love for him has diminished. Bryan just needed to be reminded of that fact.

Devin's sense of right is so passionate and his methods so unorthodox that I sometimes wonder how he can stand it. To have him return to us is a pleasure, but to return with this wounded tormented soul must have taken great courage. But then, to leave him where he was would have been criminal. We are strangers to Charles. No matter how compassionate we are, he will only be more frightened without Devin. His injuries revealed to me how badly he had been treated, but what does Devin expect to achieve?

Charles has had such a sad life. When I first saw him, I felt an instant affinity with him. Our lives are similar, yet he has been treated so cruelly; and I could not help but think, "There but for the grace of God go I." I wish there were something that could be done for him.

I shouldn't have been angry with Father for his failure to understand what life is like for Charles. But I couldn't help being reminded of times in my own life when my appearance, and its affect on others, had caused me pain. There is no life in a cage, and to Charles I felt as a Brother.

Devin is truly committed to Charles; and I am sure that he will provide him as normal a life as is possible in that place in the mountains, a place where he can feel the sun on his face and live a quiet life.

It was wonderful to be able to help Kanin surprise Olivia for their anniversary. Again I saw Catherine dreaming and felt her heart soften as she held little Luke, and I too allowed myself to dream.

Sometimes in life there are moments that define who we are, and circumstances occur that we cannot control but lead us to find something we may have lost…a freedom of the soul or a betterment of ourselves, without which we never would become the person we need to become. This, I believe, is what Kanin is facing. It is hard to believe that Kanin should have such a terrible secret locked inside him…that of killing a child through such a terrible mistake. Catherine is so very concerned. She is torn by her duty to both the law and our world, but it appears she has been chosen to bring resolution to this terrible situation. I wish there were an easier way, but I wonder how this will be resolved without pain to Kanin or to those he loves.

Kanin is in such pain, and that pain is flowing down to those he loves...as well as an innocent mother who is tortured by the loss of her child. Catherine must try to bring this into the realm of the law, which is blind and deaf to the feelings of others. Kanin has condemned himself to a life of guilt, and now he must face it all again. But he has a gift for this mother that he alone can give.

Catherine was deeply hurt that some of our tunnel members turned against her, but all is set to rights now. Kanin has helped his own case, and Catherine will be there for him in any way she can.

As I read to her tonight from Wordsworth's 'Imitation of Immortality,' I could feel Catherine's relief; and she was like a child – sleepy but still wanting to be read to, endearing and totally disarming. When she finally fell asleep, I carried her to her bed and glimpsed the child she must have once been, although I have seen glimpses in the past. She murmured my name, and I kissed her forehead as she slipped deeper into sleep. These moments are treasures I will keep to take out and polish in the future.

We will grieve not, rather find

Strength in what remains behind;

In the primal sympathy

Which having been must ever be;

In the soothing thoughts that spring

From human suffering;

***

"It must have been so hard for grandmother to have to be the one who sent Kanin to jail."

"Yes. We were all overjoyed when he returned to Olivia and Luke. A Helper found them an apartment until his time of parole was over and they could return Below," Vincent said, remembering that time for the first time in many years.

***

Catherine how can I help you through this grief? At this moment when you need someone to be by your side, how I wish THAT someone could be me. To hold you on your balcony and speak to your father were such little things. The hardest part of all is yet to come…the Funeral, and I am in torment that you must face it alone.

Our world sleeps, and she is near…strange and wonderful, and sad. This – feeling, rising in me like a tide, to have all I dreamed of so close, and yet to know that …

All I know is that she is here and that I must live for her – surround her easily, guide her out of suffering. While she is here, I must live moment by moment – for her.

To hear Catherine speak the words I have not dared to hope has given me a gift I never thought would be mine. To stay Below…I am not foolish enough to believe or to hope for forever. I know Catherine. I know what she is thinking and feeling; but I also know that at this time in her life she needs to know she is not alone, and that she has a place to come to.

Catherine – to be able to hold her in my arms as she wept and then feel her comforted by my presence until she slept – those are moments I will cherish always. Oh how easy it was to stay while she lay against me, to take her sorrows into myself. Feeling the tickle of her sweet breath as it stirred the still air about me. She was so beautiful, so trusting and so very endearing that I allowed myself to dream.

But all dreams must end, and I knew I must leave her.

Catherine's courage has astounded me yet again, but we are something that has never been. Her kiss…I will never forget. It is I who am the one without the courage, for I know it is what Catherine wants and needs; but Catherine does not know the burden of guilt I carry. For me there is no escaping who and what I am, even if Catherine can see past it – I cannot.

***

"Lisa?" Cate asked, knowing her grandfather would not mind her mentioning the woman responsible for so much of his pain as a young man.

"Lisa," he agreed. "There was so much I did not understand about myself – and Catherine…then."

***

Our world sleeps. These deep tunnels and chambers and caverns...even the pipes are still with sleep. Yet it is in these quiet moments that I truly feel the balance of this place and remember the delicate miracle that it is.

At times, even to me, our world seems half imagined. As if suspended – kept in place only by the weight of the world Above. I know how fortunate we are, all of us, to have each other, and what my life would be without them. Sometimes in these hours I hear 'Whitman's Song' echo gently. 'I cannot define my satisfaction – yet, it is so. I cannot define my life – yet, it is so. Is there any gift greater than this joy? Can the soul offer a prayer more perfect than this tender silence?'

To have this world threatened by the outsiders was a terrible thing, but what I did was more than I am prepared to accept. I have recovered enough to be able to write, and all I can think of are Catherine's last words to me. How can she love – this thing – which I become in times of trouble? That 'Other' part of me that feeds in those times is becoming harder to control, and I could not bear to have Catherine near me. How she can love this? And as long as I could still hear its insane roars within my mind, she was safer away from me.

That night, she truly walked alone, and deep within me I felt the cold and terrible truth of all that kept us apart. Fate had left me adrift with no wind to carry me to the safe shores of her love.

I can feel Catherine's despair. The fires of hell that burned within me where that 'Other' part of me feeds has cooled, and its blood lust has gone. But I cannot return to Catherine nor have her look at me. I need solitude. The lower caverns and the nameless river are waiting.

I could still sense Catherine's sadness, even under tons of earth and stone. It was not enough to give me the peace I sought. Then today as I returned, I felt Catherine's concern for me and her joy at some new discovery. The 'coldness' I felt at that moment confused me.

I tried to ignore Catherine's closeness as she waited in the park; but, as is often the case of late where Catherine is concerned, I am weakening. I need her as much as I do these walls around me and the air that I breathe. It was as though I had never been away from her. She enfolded me to her – as its fragrance does a rose. I am nothing without her. That we were disturbed did not matter, our bond is strong; and as Tennyson wrote 'like to some branch of stars we see, hung in golden Galaxy' we will be forevermore…together.

To have so much passion for life, to be able to break through the walls of death itself is something I cannot fathom. But the portrait that now stands in my chamber is clear proof of some unknown element of life that eludes many mere mortals. Narcissa's words were apt. Yet Kristopher was not bound by chains he forged in life. Perhaps for him it was some other element – love of his craft, or even passion for his art and the need to paint. Nevertheless, this portrait is a gift that for me proclaims the love between Catherine and me; and it, unlike our dream, is solid and tangible. I can touch it and will be blessed by the sight of Catherine's face in my chamber for the rest of my life, no matter what our future holds.

***

Cate looked up to where the portrait still hung on the wall, appearing as though it had just been painted…the colors vibrant, and the two faces staring out at the world around them, defiant and uncaring of the world's censure or disapproval.

***

Lisa…that name brings forth fractured memories of a boy's first love, amid feelings of joy and pain – and guilt. Why did she not come? Why send a message and then not come? Did she decide not to come because she was afraid – of me? I had to find out. To go to Catherine for help was unfair to her, but deep within me my own insecurities made it impossible to resist seeking Catherine out. I know that Lisa needed my help, or needed to speak with me. Catherine was so understanding. I felt her curiosity and concern for me, but I cannot tell her about Lisa and – what happened. Not yet.

I knew she would come to the Iron Gate this evening. I don't know how. It was not as it is with Catherine, but I knew Lisa was in trouble and on her way to the tunnels. In one moment all my childhood dreams were replaced by reality, and I saw Lisa for the first time as she truly is. How could I have been so blind? As I watched her preening before the children and other members of the community, I tried to put my memory of the Lisa I knew then and the Lisa of today together; and they were a very ill fit. As I walked her to a guest chamber, all she talked about was our childhood; and I realized that I had greatly erred in my estimation of her. Father may have done the right thing after all, yet I feel I have a responsibility to Lisa as someone I once cared for deeply. She deserves my help and support and I will give it.

Oh Catherine, how can I explain to you what happened, why I am so reluctant to become closer to you? How difficult it is to voice my reasons. How, these hands – that find it so easy to kill – were never meant for love. We have never kept anything from each other, but this is something that I have barely even thought of, least of all put into words. You have shown me at every turn that you accept me, and that you are willing to step into the unknown with me; but Catherine. I am not willing to risk what we have now for something that may destroy everything.

Lisa and the pain she caused is gone, and I feel as though I have been remade in the image that Catherine holds in her heart. At last I was able to glimpse what she sees. Yet 'I look through a glass darkly'; and from now on, whenever I see myself in the mirror pool, I will try and remember that to Catherine I am beautiful.

I look out on the city of night, and tonight I am one with it. I see the pathways and crossroads, the rush of possibilities, and I feel every point of light that is a life – each with its wonders and terrors. I see how in a single night the world can be transformed. How in one terrifying and wondrous moment – my world was transformed. On a night as dark and glittering as this, two years ago…I found Catherine.

Catherine how can I leave you with this? That the anniversary of our first meeting could be so marred by a stranger's intrusion, and that this man was watching you is terrifying. You are alone once more, facing danger; and I am left to feel your fear and do nothing.

I felt her go! I felt her go. I knew for that eternity what my life would be like without Catherine…a nightmare that I hope in time will fade. As I breathed for her, I called with all that was within me for her to come back to me. I followed her into that darkness and brought her back. But as Catherine affirmed tonight, whatever comes now, we will endure. I was loath to leave her; but she assured me that she would be well, and I could see that she needed rest. I can barely wait to see her again tomorrow.

Three thousand miles, such a long way from this city. I am so fearful, but she has assured me it will not be dangerous. I fear for her nonetheless and will miss her all the same.

As I read Catherine's letter, it was as though I were truly there with her, walking upon a distant shore. The clean aroma of the ocean in the shell and its surrounding sand made me feel as though a part of me is disconnected and with Catherine where she is. Be well, Catherine, come back soon.

I could not sleep after the strange dream. Not knowing what happened to Catherine has kept me awake. I know she is safe, although I am sure she was in terrible danger; and now all I feel from her is peace, and immense satisfaction.

I felt Catherine coming back with such power that I was out of the home tunnels before I knew it. Our Bond is stronger than either of us thought. Catherine heard my call. I can hardly believe what this means. But whatever it must mean, it only proves to me that whether we are aware of it or not, this Bond between us can break through any barrier.

***

To have such a bond with a loved one was something that Cate had always dreamed of. Her father had a similar bond with Vincent.

There was a bond that they all shared, a connection so unusual that it defied examination; and each would sense where the others were in the tunnels or the city. But a bond of the depth that Vincent had with Catherine…that was unique.

***

Tonight I felt Catherine's profound sadness and despair, and it overwhelmed me. When she told me why, I was filled with a sense of sorrow for such a young life cut short. How can a Father beat his child to death? I cannot comprehend such an act. Catherine has been chosen to try this case, and I know she is both pleased and apprehensive. There were no words of comfort I could give her but to tell her that the solution of such an epidemic lies within us.

I hear a child crying for help in the night, and I am tormented by my helplessness. He is in my dreams and with me during the day. He is calling out for justice; and with him are all the abused children everywhere, asking for help. I don't know if it is my own feelings of helplessness or Catherine's as she readies herself for the Trial of the father of this child.

This child stands in silent judgment of us all. Oh, Catherine, what a burden you bear. How I wish I could help you in this, but all I can do is stand back and watch.

At last Catherine is at peace, and one man will be stopped from harming another child; but what of all those other children still to be born or who are in such situations now? How can they be helped? Catherine was right. We cannot help all the children in the world, only those that cross our path; and we will keep fighting.

Tonight as I watched Catherine planting roses, I was mesmerized by her determination; and later when I saw her cut finger … I don't know what came over me when I kissed it– and the look she gave me was so full of a different determination, a need that made me both glad and disappointed by the interruption. I feel a pull toward Catherine at times, as though a part of her is calling to me, and part of me wants to respond; but then the fear strikes me, and I must retreat.

Elliot Burch…again he comes into Catherine's life with danger and lies, yet I owe him my life and could do nothing else but help him. My hand pains me as I write this but I must put these feelings down, for it is nothing compared to the ache in my heart. Catherine is in need of something from me that– when I forget who I am – I am so willing to give. But then I remember what she has allowed me to forget, and I must retreat.

Catherine was right that Elliot Burch is full of contradictions, just like this world. At one moment seeking to destroy, and in the next, revealing vulnerability and the capacity to change.

I too have wished … Together or apart we are part of this world and each other. Just as two different roses can bloom together on the same bush, so can we love and be togetherfrom two worlds and entwined by our love.

***

Cate closed the journal, knowing how true those last words were. Her grandparents had endured much to be together, and their amazing Bond had overcome everything they faced. Together they were a force to be reckoned with.

Vincent fell asleep again, and Cate placed the delicate box aside and sat by his bed as he slept. When he awoke she tried to convince him to let her return the box to his chest, but he would not have it.

"Now," Vincent said as he threw the covers back. "I wish to go for a walk will you accompany me?"

"Grandfather…I don't…"

"Catherine, I mean to leave this chamber for a time. Now you may accompany me, or you may stay here. The choice is yours." And he began to dress in warm clothes and put his boots on in swift order, as though she might try to stop him.

Well aware that she would not be able to stop him if she tried. Cate sighed gustily and began to help him. When he had his cloak over his still ample frame, she put her arm through his; and they began to walk slowly through the tunnels.

They strolled through the passageways and chambers that they had known all their lives, and along the way Vincent began to tell Cate stories of her father's childhood as well as his own with Devin. Amid this he spoke of moments that he and Catherine had spent here together.

They passed a few startled yet thrilled tunnel members who greeted them and remarked at how pleased they were to see Vincent up and about; but Vincent simply smiled, greeted them and moved on. When they finally returned to his chamber, there was a pot a tea and a bowl of warming stew for them both. For the first time in two days Vincent ate and drank, and Cate was encouraged.

Her father and the tunnel physician came to see Vincent. Cate spoke to her father before he left the chamber. "Father, will he be all right?"

"He is over one hundred years old, Cate. He has had these illnesses before and has recovered. No one can know, since Father is so unique." Then he smiled ironically. "He could live forever."

Cate smiled in agreement. "We can only hope."

"What you are doing, Cate, is all he needs. You know your Grandfather has always enjoyed your company, so stay as long as he wants you to. You are his favorite…you know that, so enjoy this time."

As his chosen nurse, Cate was left with Vincent. She encouraged him to undress and get back into bed for the night; and when he was comfortable, she kissed him on his forehead. "Good night, Grandfather. Dream dreams of your beloved Catherine and be well. I love you. I will see you in the morning."

She was tired, but she didn't want to leave him; so with the last journal held tightly against her chest, Cate closed her eyes and slept

Her dreams were of Catherine and Vincent in those rosy days of love where so many things were possible and their love bloomed full of blissful beauty.