Father was waiting for them at the entrance to the home tunnels. He looked tired and very worried. Vincent and Catherine were walking slowly, staring down at their son, and Vincent had his arm around Catherine's shoulders. The miracle that this child was finally here with them was too much to take in.
Father hurried forward when he saw them coming down the darkened passage, and looked first at each bright face and then down at his grandson.
The babe was sleeping peacefully in Catherine's arms, wrapped tightly in the blanket. Father's eyes brimmed with tears and he said, "He's beautiful."
Catherine and Vincent gazed down at the babe and then up at each other and smiled, "Yes he is," Vincent said to Catherine.
They made their way back to the central hub of the tunnels as quickly as possible. The pipes rang throughout the community, declaring Vincent's return and the rescue of their son. Along the way tunnel dwellers greeted them wishing them well and congratulating them on their success.
When they entered their chamber it had changed slightly. On the bed was a myriad of baby clothes and needs and beside the bed was a small mahogany cradle, covered with white sheets and a colorful handmade quilt. Mary and Olivia were there waiting for them.
The two women instantly drew Catherine away, admiring the baby and showing her all the gifts they had gathered for him. Vincent and Father stood watching for a moment and then decided to leave the women to fuss over the infant alone.
Vincent scooped up clean clothes "I will come to your chamber after I have bathed Father." He was sure Father wanted to know what had occurred to bring about this happy outcome. Vincent then made his way to the Bathing Chamber.
That night the babe didn't sleep in his new cradle he slept between his parents in the warm bed. Vincent and Catherine hardly slept at all, they were too amazed by this precious bundle of humanity sleeping between them that they only dozed, holding hands over the small body.
They both woke when they sensed the babe's hunger and as his cries echoed in the chamber. Vincent calmed him as Catherine pulled on her robe to prepare his formula, which was waiting on the small camping stove in the corner.
The days that followed were filled with joy as Vincent and Catherine settled into being parents.
Diana heard a tap on the window to the roof, two weeks after the raid on Gabriel's Mansion, and she knew it could be only one person. She lifted the curtain and was rewarded when she saw Vincent standing there. She hurried outside to meet him.
"I was hoping you'd come," Diana said in greeting.
"I wanted to see you, to thank you for everything," Vincent said.
Diana shrugged, "It's over now. He's dead, Gabriel is dead." She said it like a mantra, hardly believing it to be true. She had seen the body in the morgue and filled out the report, omitting certain details and adding that it was her that Gabriel had tried to attack, causing her to be forced to shoot him in self defense.
"For so long he was a shadow in our lives," Vincent said softly.
"When I shot him, it seemed the right thing to do. I knew exactly what I was thinking. But when I try remembering, it's almost as if it never really happened."
"Memory can be a forgiving thing," Vincent remarked encouragingly, his own memories of that terrible time were fading, as though it had happened to someone else.
"I don't want to forget," Diana declared fervently.
"Sometimes it's best to forget," Vincent suggested.
"I don't believe that," Diana was adamant.
"You must do what you think is right," Vincent said, Diana must find her own balance.
"How's Catherine and the baby?" Diana asked, changing the subject.
Vincent smiled tolerantly, "Catherine is well and our son is thriving. In part that is why I am here. There is much you do not know about where we live."
"I know about Jacob," Diana said.
"Yes, but there are many others, good people, whose lives depend upon how and where we live," Vincent said.
"I've tried imagining but…" Diana shook her head indicating how that world was hidden from even her.
"It is a more wondrous place than you could imagine, because it is real." Vincent said, with the love of his home in his voice. Diana was silent and Vincent continued, "Ours is a world woven of the most delicate threads. Our only protection against those who would threaten us… is trust."
"Tell me more about this world?" Diana asked.
"No, let me show you," Vincent said lifting a hand for her to accompany him.
Catherine was all fingers and thumbs as she dressed her son, the coming ceremony was all she could think about. The baby must look his best but he only wanted to gurgle happily and grab at her hands and the strings of his clothes. Vincent had gone to bring Diana down and Catherine would be meeting Jenny and Nancy in the park soon.
She wished Joe could be here too but he was too caught up in tying up the loose ends in the Gabriel case. The man might be dead but his connections had far reaching affects, like the roots of a weed they had to be found and cut out.
Catherine had given her statement to Joe last week, detailing everything she knew about Gabriel's connections to organized crime. They had tracked down Pope and the nurse who had turned state's evidence and given them more names and information. They had found the notebook that Joe had been given and which Catherine had in turn given to Elliot Burch. It had been found in Elliot's safety deposit box, the key held by his lawyer.
Catherine knew that they wouldn't catch everyone involved with Gabriel but Joe was determined they would catch as many as possible. Many names appeared in the notebook, when the code had been finally broken, but some couldn't be found or had left the country. The rest were under lock and key or had become witnesses for the prosecution.
Joe had kept his word and dropped all charges against Vincent, since there was no proof that he had been involved in any of the murders. His only connection to Catherine had been his writing in her books and letters. Catherine hoped that one day Joe and Vincent could meet as friends, but for now it was better that they stay apart.
The baby began to cry and Catherine placed him in the beautifully carved crib and began to prepare his formula. He was gaining weight and had become very demanding when his stomach was empty. She and Vincent took turns caring for him and it was a joy they both relished.
It was late afternoon when Catherine left the baby with Brooke she told her she would try not to be too long. She left the culvert and walked up the path to the Carousel, where she had told her friends to meet her. It was late Fall now and the trees in the park were wearing their golden foliage and the ground was covered in an amber carpet. All this, and the setting sun's orange glow made the park a wonderland.
Catherine had sent one of the children to Jenny's office with the note a week ago. Hoping her friend could clear her schedule for this all important ceremony and that Nancy could arrange to come down from Westport. She hadn't seen either of them since before she had been kidnapped and she was a little nervous.
As she made her way to the Carousel, Catherine wondered if her friends would notice how much she had changed. She was slimmer now and her hair was much longer. The coat she was wearing for this meeting was a little bigger on her now than it had been the last time she had worn it. It was the night of the concert when Brian had become lost in the tunnels. It matched the tunnel dress that Mary had made for her, and Vincent hadn't seen it yet. It was cream wool with a crocheted neckline in a lacy pattern. She wasn't going to wear it to this ceremony but Mary had insisted, and there was a sparkle in the older woman's eyes that Catherine found odd.
Then all her thoughts faded into the background when she saw Nancy and Jenny standing together by the Carousel fence, their attention on the closed building. "Jenny? Nancy?" Catherine called.
They both turned to her and the next few minutes were taken up in a joyous trio of wide open arms and clashing bodies, amid cries of joy.
"Oh, Cathy," Jenny said, when the embrace eased slightly, "When Joe brought me your note, I cried and cried."
"Me too," Nancy said, "Although it was Jenny who brought mine, so we cried together."
And they did, even now all three were weeping happy tears, and as the sun set Catherine tried to answer their questions on where she had been and what had happened and all important where was she living?
Catherine told them only what had happened in vague detail. That she had been kidnapped and held captive for six months and when she had escaped she had had to go into hiding for fear of her life. She had asked Joe to say nothing to her friends about her son. Catherine wanted to tell them this news herself.
"Oh, Cathy," the two chorused this time, and there were more tears.
Catherine brought herself to task. It was full dark now and Vincent would be bringing Diana soon and the ceremony would be due to begin, and she had so much to prepare her two best friends for before then.
At last Catherine said, "Well, come on or we'll be late."
"Late? Cathy," Jenny said startled, "Where are you going? We have a table booked, this is a big deal."
"So is what I have to show you," Catherine said, "Come on."
"Okay," Jenny said dubiously, considering where Cathy was taking them. It was toward a wooded area then down a dusty track toward a drainage tunnel, "but Cathy, these are new shoes." She complained.
Nancy laughed and they made jokes about Jenny's large collection of shoes. When they were standing by the culvert both women hesitated. Catherine turned and said, "Come on, live a little. Haven't you ever wanted to find a secret world under the city?"
"Under the dirty city streets, where there're dark holes to fall into and rats …oh Cathy, my dress is new too," Jenny complained.
Nancy was uncomplaining, she had a suspicion that this had something to do with Vincent, the man Cathy had told her about over two years ago, and she could wait.
Finally they were at the Junction door; it had been replaced by Mouse and Kanin only last week. It had taken the two all that time to find a piece of Iron large enough to fit in this space, Catherine remembered it was quite a party that followed the replacement of such an important door to the outside.
Catherine had arranged with Vincent to be there to meet her and to wait until she tapped on the door. "Now," Catherine said, "there is something I have to tell you. You both know I have been seeing someone."
The two nodded.
"Well, I met him at the time of the attack three years ago. He found me, he saved me. From that moment I knew I could never live without him."
Oh, Cathy that's wonderful," Jenny said looking suspiciously around them, "Does he work down here?"
Nancy smiled knowingly as Catherine said, "No, he lives down here."
Jenny's face fell into confusion as Catherine continued. "Vincent has lived down here all his life and when you meet him you will know why. But the most important thing I have to tell you is that when I was kidnapped I had just found out I was carrying Vincent's child. The man who held me kept me alive so he could take the child. When my baby was born they took him from me. Vincent found me and saved my life again, and I have been living down here with him ever since."
Neither of her friends spoke as Catherine told her tale, but the expressions on their faces showed the pain they felt for her. "A few weeks ago we rescued our son from that man and that's why you're here tonight to meet Vincent and our baby and help us celebrate our son's naming. You're the closest thing I have to family, you're my best friends, and I wanted to share my new life with you. Vincent has a family who live here with him, and they have taken me into their lives too. He is not like other men, which is why he lives here, but he is the most wonderful, caring, cultured and honorable man I have ever met." Catherine finished, and was silent waiting to gauge her friend's reaction.
Nancy had heard some of this story before and she knew how much Cathy loved Vincent so she was the first to recover, "You said we'd meet him one day," she said as she embraced Catherine.
"Oh, Cathy," Jenny said with a sniff, also hugging Catherine.
"Vincent and I have a very special bond, we feel what the other feels and I know that he's waiting on the other side of this door right now, waiting to meet you."
"Well open the door?" both friends said in unison.
Catherine tapped her knuckles on the door.
Vincent showed Diana all his favorite places 'The Chamber of the Winds', 'the Chamber of the Falls' and 'the Whispering Gallery' then he led her to Father's study. He introduced her to his family and friends who were gathered there. He sensed that Catherine was waiting at the Junction Door, so he excused himself to meet her and her friends.
As he walked, he sensed Catherine's nervousness as she told her friends what had happened to bring her here. When he had waited for only a few moments the tap came on the iron door. He took a deep breath preparing himself for whatever might come and flipped the switch.
The door slid open to reveal Catherine and two women. They were both slim and well dressed, his eyes glanced at them shyly, but he met Catherine's eyes with a smile and he felt her love flow over him in greeting. She smiled, stepped over the threshold and took his hand. Turning back to her friends she said happily, "This is Vincent, the man I love."
Vincent was struck anew at the miracle of those words but his attention was taken by the two women. There was surprise at the sight of him; he was accustomed to that …he waited, but no fear came, only concern. He found it strange how many ways his appearance had been received. Sometimes fearful, sometimes with disgust and then the strangest of all, instant acceptance; and the latter was what happened now.
The dark haired woman was the first to recover from her surprise. She came forward, her hand outstretched to take his in a firm grip, "Hello, Vincent. I've been looking forward to meeting you," she said, "I'm Nancy."
"Welcome, Nancy," Vincent said softly.
Jenny stepped up to him then, giving him a very penetrating look, which he sensed had nothing to do with how he looked. It was the examination of a caring friend, gauging the worthiness of the man her best friend loved. She nodded, her eyes never leaving his and then she too took his hand and said, "Hello, Vincent, I'm Jenny."
"Welcome Jenny. I am glad to meet you, Catherine has spoken much of you both," Vincent said squeezing her hand gently.
Jenny turned to Catherine and her eyebrow lifted, and she added to Vincent, "Vincent, would you be interested in a new project I am involved in. Its recording audio books, they are mostly for the blind at the moment but it's becoming very lucrative for people who just want to be read to as well as people who like to read and have good voices. What do you think would you like a job?"
With that statement Catherine and Vincent relaxed. Catherine laughed an expression of incredulity on her face. She placed her hand on Jenny's arm, "Jenny you are incorrigible," she said.
"I'm serious, I'm on the look out for good voices and he's got one." Jenny added. They all laughed as Vincent closed the door and led the way, Catherine's hand tightly held in his.
Jenny nudged Vincent as they walked, "Just think about it," and then she changed the subject, "Now where is this beautiful son of yours Cathy?" Jenny asked.
Catherine always eager to show off her son said, "He's in our chamber, come this way." And when they reached the main tunnels Vincent parted from them and Catherine took the two women to meet her son.
Later when everyone was assembled in Father's study, Catherine stood next to Vincent; their son cradled in her arms, next to Catherine stood Jenny and Nancy.
Vincent had nodded with appreciation at Catherine's gown, it was very flattering; the cream wool flowed over her slight figure to touch the top of her boots. Vincent was wearing his white frilled shirt beneath a new brown tunic and their son was dressed in thick cream baby clothes, also made by Mary.
"Well," said Father, silencing the excited talk around the chamber, "We are here to celebrate so many things. Our beloved Catherine has her son and Vincent has his family. Who could believe that such a wonderful outcome could occur?" There was a buzz of agreement to that statement.
"Together we have weathered a storm, a great storm. Which at times I feared might never pass, finally it did pass. After much sorrow and loss, the time of darkness is ended, bringing us to this day, allowing us a time of peace, and rejoicing."
Catherine had tears in her eyes as she said, "Holding my son in my arms I feel as though two lives have been given to me."
Vincent continued, "There are no words to express the gratitude to each of you."
"To all of you," Catherine added.
"Our Family," Vincent finished.
Vincent turned to Catherine then and took the baby from her and handed him to Nancy. Catherine was surprised but not alarmed as Vincent took her hands in his and faced her. He gazed deeply into her bewildered eyes.
His eyes were deep blue and sparkling with pleasure. Catherine was at a loss, she had thought this was to be their son's naming day but it was clear Vincent had something else planned. She searched his emotions but could sense only his deep, abiding love. The smile in his eyes deepened as he felt her probing, the smile becoming more secretive, which made her pause. He was hiding something from her, how strange, she thought.
Vincent began to speak then, his voice deep and echoing his love, his expression changed to one of utter solemnity, no mirth touched him, now he had only an air of purpose.
"Catherine," he breathed, and in that one word was all the love that had always been there when he spoke her name. "Before we name our son there is something I wish to say to you." He hesitated a moment, and Catherine knew that he was still a little uncomfortable with sharing his feelings for her with others. This very private man was sharing his private feelings with his family for the first time. "In every way you are my life. Our hearts beat as one. My life and my every breath are dedicated to you."
He put a hand in the pocket of his vest and drew out two simple gold rings. Three narrow bands of gold wire, had been woven together, much the same as the crystal Catherine wore around her neck, which he had obviously asked Mouse to make. "As our lives have been entwined in one love, one soul and one bond, so all three have been woven into these rings, three into one," he hesitated a moment, becoming more comfortable with this speech.
"Catherine, I have not asked you what any other man would have, were I from the world Above. Long before now I would have spoken these words, were I a different man with a different life, but you lived in another world then and I thought myself unworthy. I sought only that you might, in that other world; find another life, a happy life. But Catherine, you have shown me that I have erred, and at last I believe that where you should be is here with me and the life you should have is also here. I now believe that I can give you that happy life…" he again hesitated the meaning of his manner and his words suddenly reaching Catherine's startled brain. "Catherine, I ask that you accept this ring, in the custom of your world and mine to become forever my wife?"
He waited, Catherine was so touched by his words and their meaning that she could hardly speak, she caught her breath and tried to still her pounding heart, as she said happily, tears glistening in her eyes, "Oh, Vincent, yes..." she said holding out her left hand. Vincent placed the smaller of the rings on Catherine's finger.
With her entire being singing, Catherine took the other ring from Vincent's palm. She lifted his left hand in hers and as she spoke, her eyes gazing deeply into his, glistened with happy tears, "Since the moment I first met you Vincent, I've loved you. You've saved my life in so many ways since that day. You gave me everything, everything. Today I am a part of you in ways I never thought possible. We are connected in ways that astound me. I want to tell all those present that I will be a part of you, loving you, living here with you in this world, until the day I die. We will never be separated again." There was a catch in her voice on the last word and then she slipped the ring on Vincent's finger. With complete abandon she then threw her arms around his neck, and in front of everyone, she kissed him with such passion that many faces turned red.
Father's voice echoed around them, "Before this company and all these witnesses, let it be known that Vincent and Catherine are now man and wife. In the traditions of this world, may they live in happiness always," Father finished
A cheer went up from everyone in the room as the couple kissed again, but the celebrating could not start yet.
Catherine took back their son and Father said, "It has been said, that the child is the meaning of life. The truth of that has never been more apparent to me as it is on this day, when we celebrate this new life begun by Catherine and Vincent, and as we welcome their son into our community. We welcome the child with love that he may be able to love. We welcome the child with gifts that he may learn generosity, and finally we welcome the child with a name."
All eyes turned then to Vincent and Catherine, who were looking down at their son. Then together with their bond singing between them they said in unison, "We name our son Jacob."
All eyes turned to Father, who was grinning ecstatically. "Well," Father said, "in honor of Vincent and Catherine, and of course young Jacob, William has prepared a king's feast in the Great Hall."
And as the gathering broke up to move to the Great Hall, Vincent watched Catherine as she went over to speak to Mary and Mouse who were standing together by the steps, "You knew, didn't you, you knew Vincent was going to do this and you never told me." It was not exactly an accusation for Catherine was smiling brightly.
"Vincent, made Mouse and Mary promise," Mouse said. "Not allowed to break a promise," and as Catherine's joyous laugh echoed in the chamber
Vincent thought. They are but beggars that can count their worth; but my true love is grown to such excess, I cannot sum up sum of half my wealth,
Sensing his thought, Catherine turned to him and smiled with utter joy and her love flowed into his heart.
Later that night after the festivities in the Great Hall were coming to a close, Nancy and Jenny were guided back up to the park by one of the sentries. They had made plans to see Catherine the following week.
Mary came to Vincent and Catherine, "I will be taking young 'Jacob' with me for tonight," she said and she lifted the basket in which the babe slept. "Father and the rest of us have a surprise for you," She added with a twinkle in her eyes. She handed the basket to Brooke and asked her to take the babe to Mary's chamber and wait for her there.
Father came over then, "Well you two it's about time you see what Mouse and Kanin have been preparing for this long awaited night."
The newly wedded couple was then led down a tunnel leading away from the main tunnels. Finally they came to the entrance to a large and beautifully carved chamber. Father placed the torch he was carrying into a sconce in the wall to reveal a chamber decorated with a fairyland of lit candles.
Olivia touched Catherine's shoulder as she was taking in the candlelit chamber, "You did the same for us, it was only right that I return the favor and lighten your wedding chamber," she said.
"Oh, Olivia it's beautiful," Catherine said as she walked into the chamber where all of Vincent and Catherine's things had been moved. Catherine could imagine all the hustle that had gone on behind the scenes to accomplish this miracle and she took in every part of the chamber.
To the right of the entrance was the arched opening to another smaller chamber where Jacob's cradle and everything they would need for caring for him, was placed neatly. To Catherine's left was a beautifully carved double bed, made of a dark wood to match the cradle and covered with an intricately woven lace coverlet, and in its center was a spray of long stemmed red and white roses, their fragrance floating on the warm air sent by the many candles.
"Come and have a look here," Father said and he led the startled couple to the far wall of the chamber where two heavy doors had been hung. Above them was a duplicate of Vincent's fan-shaped window which let in a golden light.
Father opened the doors and both Vincent and Catherine gasped as a balcony was revealed. It was clear that it had been carved by Kanin's expert hands. They stepped onto it, awed by its beauty and looked in all directions. The light from the high vaulted cavern outside echoed with whispers and the faint sound of music. The low wall of the balcony had been masterly decorated with vines and columns and each in turn, touched it to feel its texture, to prove it was real.
Vincent looked up and gasped. "It's the Whispering Gallery," he said with awe.
"Mouse and Kanin found it some months ago and they have been enlarging it and making it habitable for you and Catherine. It was only when you told Mouse to make the rings that we all helped finish it as a wedding gift. The other chamber is for the baby," Father said.
Mouse and Kanin came up behind them then and Mouse said, "Knew Vincent would make Catherine his own one day when baby Jacob came home, and so we worked," Mouse said simply as he lifted his hand, indicating the chamber.
"Vincent told us about your balcony Catherine, and when it had to be sealed away and you couldn't return to it, we thought you needed a new one," Kanin said with a grin.
"Kanin you are a true romantic," Catherine said, giving him a kiss on the cheek in thanks.
"Well, come on let's give Catherine and Vincent some privacy," Father said leading everyone out of the chamber.
Catherine turned to Vincent, "We have our balcony again, Vincent."
"And a chamber of our own, far from the bustle of the main caverns," he said.
"Well only for tonight," Catherine said," Tomorrow we become parents again." And she looked into the small room set aside for the baby.
With an arm around each other Catherine and Vincent walked out on to the balcony. "We will have all our lives to enjoy this balcony, Catherine," Vincent said. "Our son will grow fast, and before we know it he will be living a life of his own, but we will still have this…" he lifted his arm to the panorama surrounding them.
"Listen," Catherine said, "you can hear the music, it's just wonderful." Then her eyes sparkled as she saw her music box with the dancing couple, set on a nearby table. She went to it and wound it up and came back to Vincent. They both knew the words to the old Al Jolson tune and as it played they danced.
Oh how we danced on the night we were wed.
We vowed our true love, though a word wasn't said.
The world was in bloom, there were stars in the skies,
Accept for the few that were there in your eyes.
Dear as I held you close in my arms,
Angels were singing a hymn to your charms.
Two hearts gently beating, murmuring low,
Darling I love you so.
The night seemed to fade into blossoming dawn.
The sun shone anew, but the dance lingered on.
That we, but recall that sweet moment sublime,
We'd find that our love is unaltered by time.*
They stood in silence for a long moment when the tune stopped, listening to the sounds of the city above.
Vincent was so overwhelmed by his good fortune and he knew that this was the moment to say things to Catherine that he had never dared speak before now. They had shared so much, and even now he could feel her heart racing but he had one more gift to give her. "Catherine," he murmured softly.
Catherine's eyes sparkled in the candlelight as she looked up at him, "Yes, Vincent," she answered.
"There is something I wish to say to you. I know you can feel what I feel, but I must speak these words."
Catherine could sense his emotions swirling within him, "What is it, Vincent?"
"There is so much I wish to tell you," he said.
Catherine was reminded of the night he came to her balcony for the first time and he had said those same words, "Just say it, love," she encouraged, touching his cheek.
He lifted his hand to cover hers and he drew it first to his lips and then his chest and held it there. Although he could feel her calm acceptance of anything he might say, and she would feel his love for her, Vincent needed to put what he felt into words.
When he spoke it was in a soft loving tone, "When you were lost to me for all those months and I cried out to you with no answer. I promised myself that when we had the leisure I would no longer hold back anything from you, thus our impromptu wedding," he grinned, "I promised myself I would tell you what was in my heart. No longer keeping you at a distance, now we are one, yet Catherine, still I hear the words that were never spoken between us, echoing in the dark recesses of my mind and I must tell them to you now."
He hesitated, collecting his thoughts. Then he began to speak softly with love in every word, "There was a moment, when the way was still new, and I was afraid to hope. You put your hand on mine – and nothing had ever felt like that to me – like your touch," He pressed her hand to his lips in emphasis, and continued, his eyes seeking hers, "You turned and looked at me, and your eyes were filled with dancing light; and I was bathed in your warmth. I believed in that moment that even for me – all things were possible. In that moment – in your light – I felt what it is to be beautiful." Vincent's voice broke on the last word, "How many lives have been touched by yours? How many lives have been transformed by your courage to give, and to love? How many became beautiful in your light?" He shook his head and looked away from her, "I know we promised to always share the truth – always," then he turned to gaze deeply into her eyes, "But Catherine, there is a truth beyond anything…beyond everything I had ever known…or ever dreamed. It is the truth of all you gave…all you sacrificed for me. The truth of your love humbled me – silenced me. And the truth that I could never share with you until now was the truth of how deeply I love you."
Catherine had no words to follow this declaration and so she simply lifted up on her toes and putting her arms around Vincent's neck and kissed him. This way the love of her life, the man who was one with her, her other self they were joined by one love, one soul and one bond…
She ended the kiss and said, "In this chamber Vincent, when we want to have silence we can close these doors and then it's only the two of us." Catherine said, looking up at him, her eyes aglow with desire.
"Yes," Vincent agreed his voice thick with emotion, "only the two of us…"
Vincent was in the lower tunnels dealing with a cave-in, no one was harmed but the tunnel had to be unblocked. He suddenly felt Catherine's call and the shaft of pain that accompanied it. He had been aware of something strange in their bond all day, now he was sure.
Dropping the heavy rock he was lifting, Vincent told the crew he must leave and he took up his cloak and ran up the passage to where he sensed she would be.
Catherine's mind touched his, "I am fine for the moment Vincent, but I will need you soon." He heard in his mind, the evolving nature of their Bond was always a source of amazement even though they had been able to communicate in this fashion for some months now.
He readjusted his direction and went to the Whispering Gallery chamber to change and clean up. When he entered the room where Catherine lay with Mary soothing her, Vincent felt the now familiar caress of Catherine's love wash over him when she saw him, and he gave her an answering smile.
"You made it in plenty of time, Vincent," Mary said, as Vincent came to sit on the chair beside the bed.
"I know," Vincent said smiling down at Catherine, placing a hand on her swollen abdomen. "But I wish to miss none of this one's appearance into the world."
"Our daughter is anxious to meet her father," Catherine said with glowing eyes.
"I have wondered in recent nights, whether she disliked me intensely, while her kicks kept me awake," Vincent said with a broad smile. Catherine laughed, but it was cut off by another contraction which caught at her breath.
Another time in this room came to Catherine's mind when she sat watching Lena hand her newborn daughter to Vincent. Then she had been more envious than she could admit at the time. Now as Vincent stayed with her through the next hours of her labor, holding her hand or rubbing her back or taking her weight as she paced, Catherine was happier than she had ever been in her life.
Six months ago when they had brought Jacob home, neither of them knew that Catherine was already carrying this new life within her. It wasn't until a few weeks after Jacob's naming ceremony and their impromptu wedding that Catherine began to feel the effects of her pregnancy.
When Father confirmed it, saying that Catherine was further advanced than she should be. They were happier than they could have possibly imagined.
"I think we need to talk about precautions after this child's birth, Vincent or you will both be the cause of a population explosion within the tunnels in no time," Father said.
Catherine had been the one to blush; Vincent had been too shocked to be embarrassed. Besides he had always shared everything with his father, his physician all his life, and although he was a little uncomfortable he had nothing to be ashamed of. Catherine's assurances had made sure of that.
Two hours later Sharlotte Catherine Wells came into the world with a loud bellow and a swift blast of fear, which both her parents felt and instantly comforted her, with voice and hearts. Like Jacob she was going to be a handful once her emotions began to develop. Jacob would projected his emotions to his parents even now, but Catherine and Vincent had learned to dampen their own and even their thoughts in the months since the transfusion, so they were teaching this to Jacob along with other behavior modifications. He was only ten months old but was already walking and talking, a gift from his father, and he had already won the hearts of all the females young and old in the tunnels.
Sharlotte, named for Catherine's favorite poem 'the lady of Shallott', was born with her father's golden hair, Catherine's heart shaped face and her eyes developed into a dark green orbs like her mother's. Of Vincent's unique features, as with Jacob there was no evidence. Further proof of Vincent's inherent humanity, but in what counted such as Vincent's beauty of soul and gentle and noble nature there was an abundance.
Sharlotte was as good a baby as was her brother and as she grew she became one with her parents and brother. Deciding that two children were enough Father's precautions were put into action and these two were all Catherine and Vincent would allow themselves, even though the third generation of the Wells family was utterly spoilt by everyone in the community.
It was late evening and in the small shop in the quiet street of the lower east side, a young woman sat at a desk. Beside her were filing cabinets filled with files of people she had helped with their legal problems. She had worked here now for four years and she resisted all suggestions to move to better premises.
She closed the shutters and left the small shop, carrying her battered briefcase and turned into a nearby alley. A cloaked and shadowed figure met her. They embraced and together they walked further into the alley.
"I promised Jacob that he and Sharlotte can come up to the park tonight. Do you feel up to it?" a deep throaty voice asked.
"As tireless as those two are I wouldn't miss it for the world," the soft woman's voice answered with a laugh, "Don't you have some reading to tape for Jenny?" she asked.
"I will do that when the children are asleep, and you can listen," he said leaning down to touch the top of her head with his lips.
"That sounds heavenly," she murmured leaning against him as they walked.
They were soon swallowed up by the darkness…
* The anniversary song by Al Jolson