Destinies In Collision
By Thomas Mc

Authors Note: Paulette catches her lover in bed with his secretary and runs away. She ends up hitting some type of large animal in Central Park and crashing into a tree. Then things really start getting complicated. (As always reviews and comments are welcome.)

PS. Several readers have asked me what it was that Paulette was wearing but I think it is more fun to let them use their own imagination so I'm still not going to say exactly what it was.

Chapter 1 : Crash, Boom, Bang

March 2038

Paulette was singing along to the bouncy tune playing on her radio. Even the heavily overcast sky and threat of thunderstorms couldn't dampen her spirits tonight. It was early evening and she was driving through Central Park on her way to surprise Frank for his birthday. Under her conservative business attire, she wore very sexy and provocative lingerie, guaranteed to get a rise out of any man. It was turquoise (that was Frank's favorite color), very short, low cut, silky, and clung to her curves like it was painted on. Life was good and tonight was going to be fantastic.

All day at work, the silky feel of the lingerie combined with thoughts of her plans for this evening had kept her in a high state of excitement, making it difficult to keep her mind on her work. She and Frank had been going pretty hot and heavy for the last six months and she was sure their relationship would be getting even more serious very soon. She was half expecting a proposal any day now. Who knows, maybe tonight would be that magic night she was hoping for. Glancing off to her right, in the rapidly darkening park, she spotted the Belvedere Castle where they had first met last fall. She came out of the park and turned right onto Central Park West. Her level of excitement and anticipation was rapidly increasing to nearly fever pitch.

Very soon, she saw her destination approaching to the left. Her excitement level jumped even higher at the sight of Frank's apartment building. She entered a parking garage that was a short distance away, wouldn't due to give the surprise away too soon, and almost ran the sort distance to his building. Using the key hidden behind the large permanent hallway planter, she let herself into his apartment. He should be getting home from work in less than fifteen minutes so she had to hurry. Within a few seconds, she was down to her lingerie, a red ribbon around her neck, and a birthday card attached to another red ribbon around her wrist. She checked the time on his mantle clock; he should be home any minute now. She grabbed up her discarded clothes and headed toward the bedroom.

As she reached for the handle of the glass French doors leading to the bedroom, she had a moment of uncertainty and the feeling that something wasn't quite right. Through the sheer curtains that covered the glass doors, she saw movement on the bed and heard a moan. Then she caught a view of the couple's profiles and recognized Frank and his secretary. Her heart turned to lead. She broke out in a cold sweat and she felt like she was about to pass out as she stumbled back away from the unopened door. She bumped into the back of the sofa and stopped. She never noticed when her clothes and purse fell from her hands to land between the sofa and end table. With a soft strangled sob, she turned and fled from the apartment.

~ o ~

The next thing she knew, Paulette was in her car driving through the park with no idea how she got there. She vaguely remembered fumbling with the manual access code buttons above the car door handle but she didn't remember getting from Franks apartment to her car or getting the spare key or leaving the parking garage. Her only clear memory was her last hazy sight of Frank and his secretary seen through those sheer curtains.

Her eyes were so full of tears from her crying that she could barely make out the dark road ahead and her car wandered toward the center of the road. She hadn't even engaged the car's Auto-Trak system. The collision alarm sounded and she swerved to avoid hitting an oncoming car, then hit a curb and swerved back the other way. She felt a thump as the car bounced then caught a glimpse of some large animal moving in front of her then another thump and something bounced off her suddenly broken windshield. There was a second loud crunching bang, accompanying pain then blackness.

~ o ~

Paulette awoke to pain. She was in her car, the front windshield was shattered, and the airbag hung limply from the steering wheel into her lap. It had not all been a bad dream. Her face, hands, chest and left leg hurt terribly and there was a ringing in her ears. Her whole body ached with every movement, making the effort to do anything more difficult.

She groggily reached over to unfasten her seatbelt but it wasn't there. She had not used it. A sharp pain went through her wrist when she opened her door. As she tried to exit the car, a pain shot up her leg and she fell out of the car banging her head into the edge of the door. She grabbed the open door for support, sending another sharp pain through both her wrists. Slowly, painfully she pulled herself to her feet. Her left leg hurt terribly and she was so dizzy.

What in the world had she hit? The front of her car was up against a tree. Was that it? She was sure it had been moving; a large animal or something. A groan off to her left drew her attention. Oh no, it couldn't be! She had hit someone! She stumbled toward the trees where she heard the groan. She could see nothing there. God her leg hurt so. Then she heard movement to her right. She peered into the shadows in that direction. There it was. Something moved on the ground. All she could see was a large vague shape that was sprawled on the ground. Cautiously, fearfully, she approached, each step sending a sharp pain up her left leg.

~ o ~

Agony. His whole body was in pain. He became aware of the feel and smell of cool wet grass against his face. He was lying on the ground. He groaned as he opened his eyes and saw a lot of tree trunks and bushes. He must be in the park but he could not quite remember how he got here or why he was lying on the ground and in pain. He knew that this place should be familiar but he couldn't think of the name of the park. His mind was fuzzy and he was having trouble collecting his thoughts.

Pain. Deep sorrow. Confusion. Fear. The emotions he was feeling were not his own, they belonged to some other. He became aware of another presence. This was bad. He didn't know why it was bad; he just knew that it was. He tried to get up. Pain! This time it was his and he fell back with a groan. Fear. Uncertainty. Guilt. The other presence was approaching. Caution. There was a feather light touch on his shoulder. He groaned again. It seemed to be all he could do. Sympathy. Guilt. The touch on his shoulder became a pressure and the force of it pushed him over onto his back with another groan of pain. Surprise! Shock! Terror! A tiny sound of an indrawn breath combined with a half squawk. "Oh my god!"

He opened his eyes and beheld the other. She was standing five feet away with her back to a tree, her hand to her mouth and her fear reflected in her eyes. Her hair was disheveled; there was a nasty looking gash on the right side of her forehead; and there was blood on her face. She was nearly naked and she was beautiful.

There were more others nearby. Their emotions were crude, unpleasant. Then the frightened woman shifted sideways around the tree and turned to run away. She took two steps then stopped with a sudden sharp rise in her fear as it turned to panic. The others gave off very bad, harsh emotions. He heard a half scream. Slowly, painfully, he struggled to his feet.

~ o ~

Paulette edged around the tree, keeping a wary eye on the terrifying creature she had just found. It was like something out of those horror movies she had always been so fond of. Then she turned to run and found herself facing three very nasty looking thugs. As they approached, making rude and frightening comments, she was suddenly acutely aware of her current state of near undress. She stepped back and was again backed up against a tree.

She was trembling as her panic overwhelmed her and she choked on her own scream. The three thugs stopped advancing and all got very wide-eyed looks of fear on their faces. Then she heard a terrifying roar come from behind her, to the right, and then all three of her intended attackers screamed and ran away. Her heart pounding wildly, Paulette turned to see the terrifying bloody apparition standing less than eight feet from her, its claws raised to strike, a snarl of rage on its lion like face.

She was rooted to the spot. She wanted to run but she was paralyzed in fear and the pain in her leg was getting worse.

The monster's arms dropped to its side and hung there loosely as it swayed for a couple of seconds. Then it dropped to its knees and slowly keeled over onto its side. She stood there staring at it for several seconds before she could bring herself to move. Finally she took a step backwards, then another. She turned and, ignoring the pain in her leg, practically ran the ten feet back to her car. She climbed in, the motor was still running, and started to back away from the tree she had hit.

She turned the wheel and her, out of alignment but still functioning, left headlight swung around and came to rest on the body of the monster. She stopped and stared at the motionless form for almost a minute then she eased the car forward until she was almost up to it. After screwing up her courage, she got out of the car and came around to look more closely. In the pool of light from her headlight, the creature was even more frightening with its lion like features, the fangs barely visible in its half-open mouth, and the long sharp claws on its fur covered hands. She could also see that it was in very bad shape.

She went back to her car and retrieved her first-aid kit from her trunk. The pain in her left leg was becoming almost unbearable as she limped back to the monster. She started to kneel beside the downed monster when her left leg gave out. She cried out from the sharp pain as she collapsed to the ground. Slowly, painfully she shifted herself into a position where she could reach the monster. She was trying to stanch the bleeding on the side of the creature's head when a movement at the corner of her eye caused her to look up. There illuminated by her headlight were two more monsters, standing over her. They both looked just like the one she had hit. With a terrified squawk, she surrendered to oblivion.

~ o ~

Consciousness slowly returned as Paulette became aware of a constant erratic banging noise. She was lying on her back and her body ached. There was something heavy constricting her left leg, which hurt terribly. She caught the faint odor of damp earth and hot candle wax, mixed with antiseptic. The horrifying image of two monsters looking down at her as she sat on the ground next to the injured monster haunted her memory. She opened her eyes and saw a cave like rock ceiling above her. She reached up and felt the bandage around her head. Both of her wrists were wrapped in a flexible bandage and her ribs hurt. She began to look around and realized that she was in what appeared to be some type of underground emergency room.

She pushed herself into a sitting position, the effort causing sharp pain in her wrists and her ribs. The soft warm quilt that had been covering her fell away revealing the provocative lingerie that was all she had been wearing. As she quickly pulled the quilt up around herself, she spotted the injured monster laying on another of the three examination tables in the room. It had also been bandaged up. Her head felt like it was spinning and she was having trouble thinking coherently. She swung her legs off the table and, looking down at the pain and weight in her left leg, realizing that it was in a cast.

A dark haired middle-aged woman dressed in layers of patched clothing, which Paulette had not noticed before, came rushing up to her. "What do you think you're doing, young woman? You're in no shape to be getting out of bed. You just lay right back down there." The woman gently but firmly pushed Paulette back down onto the table. She was too weak and dizzy to resist. "Now you stay right there. Someone will be along shortly to take you to a guest chamber where you can get proper rest and heal." The woman gave her one more admonishing look then turned her attention to the injured monster.

Paulette was feeling drowsy and could feel herself being overcome by sleep when she was startled to see the other two monsters from the park, accompanied by a very beautiful blond haired woman, enter the underground emergency room. With the blond woman looking on anxiously, the two monsters carefully loaded the injured monster onto a litter and carried it out of the room. All three of them had glanced over at her curiously before they left. With a shock, Paulette recognized the blond woman as District Attorney Elizabeth Maxwell. What was going on here? Was she losing her mind? With impossible images swirling through her head, she surrendered to the drowsiness and the world again slipped away.

~ o ~

Paulette felt herself moving, swaying, and, through bleary half opened eyes, she saw one of the monsters above her head. There was another at her feet with its back to her. Her fear welled up as the world faded away again and in the swaying dream, she heard an incredibly sexy male voice. "She's very pretty. Who do you think she is?" She never heard the response.

~ o x o ~

Paulette lay in a bleary half awake state. She was lying in a soft cozy bed and the erratic banging that had haunted her dreams continued unabated. Her memory was a hazy jumble of rock caves, a beautiful district attorney and impossible lion-men. Then she remembered her last view of Frank. She curled up in the bed and began to cry. How could he have done such a thing to her?

After several minutes, she heard that incredible voice from her dreams again. "Miss, are you OK?"

She opened her eyes in surprise, still sniffling and hovering on the edge of another sobbing breakdown.

The voice continued after a moment. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

Managing to get her chaotic emotions barely under control, she looked around and saw that she was still underground. That had not been a dream? She seemed to be in a small bedroom sized cave filled with old repaired furniture. She called out hesitantly. "Who's there?"

"My name is Joseph. I felt you crying and came to see if you needed anything." Replied that voice that seemed to touch something primal deep within her. The voice seemed to emanate from a large old tapestry that hung against one wall.

"Where am I?" She asked continuing to look around at the underground chamber she was in.

"You're in the tunnels deep under the city. It is our home." He replied.

"I don't see you. Where are you?" She asked.

"I'm standing in the tunnel right outside your chamber."

She looked around. "I don't see any door." She remarked a little worried. "Am I a prisoner?"

"There is no door. The tapestry covers the opening to your chamber to give you privacy. You are not a prisoner; you may come and go as you please, though I was told that you should not be out of bed until you have had a chance to heal."

She was feeling a bit isolated and lonely. "Can you come into this room with me?" She asked half hopefully. She wanted very much to see the face that went with that wonderful voice.

"I really shouldn't." The voice responded rather hesitantly.

"Why not?" She asked.

It was a couple of seconds before he responded. "I don't want to frighten you."

The image of the monsters from her dreams flashed through her mind then she shook her head. "Why would I be frightened of you?"

"You were afraid of me the last time you saw me." He replied.

It couldn't be possible. She had to know. "Please . . . come in so I can see you."

Clawed furry fingers appeared at the edge of the tapestry. They curled around the edge and started to pull it back. She was hit by a spurt of fear as she was reminded of a scene from a werewolf movie she had watched two weeks ago. The clawed hand paused then withdrew letting the tapestry fall back. "Wait!" She called out, now afraid that he would leave. "Please don't go away."

"I'm still here." The voice replied.

"Please, I want to see you." She begged as she, painfully, pushed herself to a sitting position ending with a groan. She felt a bit light headed and wondered what that woman in the infirmary might have given her. There was no response from beyond the tapestry. She remembered the name he had given her. "Please, Joseph, come in here where I can see you." After a few seconds, the clawed fingers again appeared at the edge of the tapestry and this time the similarity to the movie made her giggle. "Do you know how much that looks like a scene from an old horror movie?" Again, she giggled at the comparison.

The tapestry pulled aside slowly and the creature from her hallucination stepped out of video nightmares and into the room. Her heart did a kind of flip-flop as, for a couple of seconds, they stared at each other. He really did look like he was half lion and half man, - 'a were-lion?' -, and he was huge, well over six feet.

Then the lion-man dropped his eyes and half turned away from her. "Ah . . . you . . . ah . . ." He suddenly sounded and looked very shy and embarrassed.

Paulette was momentarily stunned by his reaction; it seemed so out of character for such a frightening apparition. Then she looked down and realized that the quilt had slipped down and she was still not quite dressed in the same provocative lingerie. She quickly pulled the quilt up around herself. "I, ah . . . I guess I need to find some clothes . . . or at least a robe to put on." She blushed furiously.

Joseph glanced at her then lowered his eyes and edged over to the set of drawers on the opposite wall from her bed. After a moment's hesitation, he pulled open the top drawer and pulled out a long thick robe. Then he very cautiously approached her and set it on her bed. She realized that he really was afraid of frightening her. For a moment, their eyes met and she saw an intensity there that was almost erotic. She felt a thrill go through her and, in his eyes, she swore she saw a reaction to her emotions just before he looked down and backed away.

She grabbed the robe and wondered momentarily if she should ask him to leave the room while she put it on, then decided that she didn't want to risk him going away. Besides, he had already seen her when he and the other one found her in the park. After a moment's hesitation she threw off the quilt. He glanced up at the sudden movement, getting a, pretty good, view of her before looking away again. She got the robe on then pulled the quilt up over her lap.

"Would you like to sit down so we can talk?" There was a hint of longing for company in her voice and her emotions. "My name is Paulette Gibson." She added.

After a second's hesitation, he took the only chair in the room, which was already sitting close to the bed. They sat there looking at each other for several seconds then when the awkward silence was becoming unbearable he finally spoke. "What do you want to talk about?"

Continued in Part 2

'Beauty and the Beast' and its characters are owned by Witt-Thomas Productions and Republic Pictures. No infringement on copyrights is intended. This story is presented merely for the enjoyment of fans. Original concepts and story elements may be used by other authors as long as appropriate credit is given.

Dreams Collide is sung by Colbie Caillat
= www . youtube watch?v=kzA6J2_Mtb8
Crash, Boom, Bang
is sung by Roxette
= www . youtube watch?v=9ofxdpbGUS4