Chapter 15

Chapter 15

The days Below that followed were tranquil. No emergency or dramatic turn interrupted the quiet peace of the tunnels. Unfortunately, it could not last forever. One day, Catherine received a mysterious message from James asking that she come to Peter's home again. The mystery only deepened when the message specifically asked her not to tell Vincent or Octavian about her visit.

Peter met Catherine at the tunnel entrance and escorted her into his den where James was waiting. 'I'll leave you two to talk." Peter said as he departed. "I have to go see a patient at the hospital, but I'll be back later."

'Hello, Catherine." James greeted her warmly.

"Hello James." She took the hand that he offered her as they sat down.

"I appreciate you meeting me. I'm also glad you did as I asked. I really wanted to talk to you without Octavian or Vincent here." James continued.

"There are still a great many things you and Vincent don't know about." James sighed heavily. "Octavian would have my head if he knew I was talking to you, but Kimberly and I both agree that you two deserve to know everything. We decided it would be better to talk to you and then let you make the decision whether to tell Vincent and when. We felt you were better able to deal with what we have to say." Intrigued and more than a bit concerned, Catherine gave him her undivided attention.

"Catherine, have you ever heard of the Demeter Corporation?" Catherine blinked at the name, recognizing it instantly.

"Of course; it's a huge company. Isn't it into shipping?" She asked curiously.

"Among other things. " James smiled. "You see, Octavian is the Demeter Corporation. Well, more accurately, he owns and controls it."

Catherine couldn't stop her mouth from dropping open in shock. "Octavian can't play chess worth a damn; but when it comes to finances, he's a genius. In fact, he's one of the wealthiest men in the world. That's where I've come in. Ever since we first met, Octavian has been more like my family that my own ever was. Everything I have or have become I owe to him. In return, I've made it my mission to watch out over and protect him and his family; sort of like I suspect you have done for Vincent and his tunnel family, am I right?"

Catherine blushed, but said nothing. "What I'm trying to tell you is that as Octavian's nephew, Vincent is heir to a very large fortune, larger that yours, Catherine. No offense intended. Octavian has made some arrangements concerning that, but I'll let him discuss that with you. What I wanted to talk to you about was your own safety and that of the tunnels. I've made some arrangements of my own, especially in light of some of the things Peter and Father have told me that have happened in the tunnels in the past. My company has an office here in New York staffed by people I can trust. I've given the number to several helpers and made special plans in case of another emergency. If anything does happen, I'll have some of my best people there in minutes. The tunnel community doesn't have to rely on Vincent alone for their security anymore."

Catherine hugged the man that she owed so much to including her rescue. "Thank you, James. I can't tell you how much this means to me. I owe you everything including my life."

"No, thank you and Vincent. You've both finally given me a way to repay Octavian for all he's given and meant to me over the years." James replied. "There's just one more thing, Catherine. So far, the only people who know what has happened to you are myself and my friend in the Justice department and even he doesn't know the whole truth. He only knows that you are connected with my employer, the Demeter Corporation somehow and that we've been keeping you in a safe location. The problem is your friend the new D.A. Joe Maxwell. He's been pushing hard for federal authorities to continue investigating your whereabouts. It could put you in danger. My friend wants to take him into our confidence, but only with your approval. I could set up a meeting here. But the final decision is yours."

Catherine's brow furrowed as she took in what James was telling her. "Can I think about it?"

"Of course. " James smiled.

Just then, Octavian arrived and seemed surprised to see Catherine there. "Hello James. Catherine, what brings you here?" He asked, frowning deeply.

"Don't blame her, old friend. This was my doing. I thought she had a right to know what she was getting herself into, falling in with the likes of you." James shot her a wink as Octavian's frown deepened. 'Seriously, Catherine and I had some things to discuss. She's stronger that either you or Vincent thinks; kind of like another lady I know named Kimberly." He continued. "Here are those papers you wanted, Octavian. The rest is up to you two. Catherine, I'll be waiting to hear your decision."

Catherine smiled gently and kissed him on the cheek as he departed. She then turned her attention to the other man who had made her happiness possible. "Blast it!" Octavian exclaimed. "I didn't want James burdening you with any of this yet! The last thing I've wanted to do was disrupt Vincent's life for my own selfish need to know him!"

Catherine smiled at him as well. "Octavian, James is right. I'm stronger than I look."

Octavian smiled ruefully. "How much did he tell you?"

"Enough."

"You might as well see everything, then." He replied as he sat down. Carefully, he pulled out and examined the papers James had handed him. At last, he heaved a heavy sigh. "Perhaps, it's best that James has talked to you. I can let you and Vincent decide how he wants to proceed with things. Catherine, you know the last thing I've wanted to do is to change or cause any upheaval in Vincent's life. But, I'm also a realist and I know sometimes things can happen beyond our control. That's why I've chosen to make some contingency plans in case Vincent, you, or your tunnel family should ever need anything. I also want to protect you both and your child in every way possible. "He took a deep breath before continuing.

'To that end, I've set up a trust fund here in a bank owned by my corporation. They can provide you any funds you may require, should the need arise. I've made arrangements for both you and Peter to have access." Octavian hesitated and Catherine could see he was struggling with something. She rushed to reassure him, placing her hand on his.

"Octavian, whatever you have to say I'm sure it's going to be all right. Nothing you say could be so terrible that it could ever change the way Vincent and I feel about you."

"I'm not a complete fool, Catherine. I know that there may come a day where you or Vincent need the protection and security that the Demetrios name and money can provide. That's why I had James arrange this." He handed Catherine a packet of papers.

With a practiced lawyer's eye, she quickly examined them. Her eyes widened as she recognized the document. Though she couldn't read all the details, she was able to discern that it was obviously a birth certificate with the name Vincent Demetrios on it. In addition, there were adoption papers in English and Greek granting custody of Vincent Demetrios to Jacob Wells. There was also another certificate Catherine couldn't make out.

"That's proof of Vincent's Greek citizenship, should he ever need it." Octavian explained.

But it was the last document that had her gaping once again in shock. There, in her hand she held a diplomatic passport in the name of Vincent Wells with a special seal in place of the photo.

"I hope Vincent will never need these, Catherine, but if there is some emergency, Vincent can not only claim Greek citizenship, but could travel there legally as well. This might not solve everything that could happen, but at least it will provide him some protection."

'Oh, Octavian, this it wonderful; I don't know what to say. How did you manage all this?" Catherine exclaimed.

"I have a few connections within the Greek government. These items were registered quietly at the highest level, so only a few people have access or even know they exist. Peter was kind enough to provide me with an affidavit attesting to Vincent's birth. The rest was really very simple. I hope to Heaven he never needs any of this, but if he does…" Octavian broke off there.

"I leave it to you to decide if you want to share this with Vincent." Octavian concluded.

"I'm sure he'll appreciate all of this, Octavian. We both will." Catherine said softly as she embraced this generous man so like the one she loved so dearly.

Later, Catherine showed Vincent the sheath of documents Octavian had given her. She had contemplated what to do about them, but knew she couldn't deny her beloved anything. He shook his head in wonder. "Catherine, I never hoped or even dreamed…" He simply couldn't continue he was so overcome. She wrapped her arms around him as he wept at what these few documents represented; a validation of his very existence.

Vincent drew Catherine onto his lap as he say in his favorite chair and they cuddled close enjoying a tender lovers' embrace. "My heart is full, Catherine." He informed her as he brushed his mouth lightly over the crown of her head. "Only one thing more would complete my happiness." He drew back to gaze at her soulfully. "Will you consent to become my wife, Catherine?"

Catherine choked on the tears in her throat. "Nothing would make me happier, Vincent."

Ardently, they kissed.

Though hastily arranged, Catherine and Vincent's joining ceremony was one of the largest anyone in the Tunnels could remember. The day before, a mysteriously anonymous buyer bought every red and white rose available from every flower shop in the Manhattan area. With a little help from Octavian and Peter, William put on a wedding feast that rivaled Winterfest. Even Devin and Charles managed to arrive in time.

His reaction to meeting Octavian was classic Devin.

"Great, just great!" He complained good naturedly. "As is one of you wasn't aggravating enough! Now, not only have you got me outsized, little brother; now I'm out numbered as well!"

All too soon, the festivities ended, and Vincent and Catherine were alone in their chamber. "Happy, Mr. Wells?" Catherine teased form her perch on his lap as they rested, finally catching their collective breath from the whirlwind activities of the day.

"Ecstatic, Mrs. Wells." He replied jovially. Devin had been teasing them both about their new names for days.

Catherine grew serious as she looked her beloved Vincent in the eye. "Vincent, we've been through so much together over these past three years. But I want you to know. I wouldn't change one minute of it. I loved you the first moment I met you and I will love you until my last breath." She vowed.

Vincent gazed back at her with equal tenderness. "Catherine, I feel the same. I was never truly alive until I experienced your love. Now, with you and our child…" His voice trailed off as he gently rested his hand on her small bulge of her abdomen. "My soul is complete. There will never be words enough to tell you how much I love you both."

Catherine's eye developed a decidedly mischievous gleam as she grinned.' Well then, Mr. Wells, perhaps you had better just show me." And he did just that.

Finis