When Vincent Met Jenny
Jenny's cab pulled up to the curb of Catherine's building just as the sun was dropping below the horizon. She got out, struggling all the while with her bulky parcel. She was here ostensibly to return the dress she'd borrowed, but in truth she was anxious to talk to Catherine.
Just as she started to enter the building, the doorman recognized her. "Evening, Ms. Arronson. If you're here to see Ms. Chandler, you missed her. She just left; said something about taking a walk in the park. If you hurry, you might be able to catch her."
Jenny started to follow, but suddenly remembered her burden. Luckily, the doorman offered to hold it for her until she returned. Thanking him, Jenny turned and hurried after Catherine.
Jenny was understandably concerned for her friend. Less than three weeks before, Catherine had shown up at Jenny's apartment announcing she was making major changes in her life. She had left her job as an assistant district attorney and was transferring to a part time position as a researcher in the law library of the Appeals division. She also said that she had purchased a brownstone owned by an old friend with the intention of renovating it and moving in. But what truly shocked Jenny was when Catherine revealed that she had been secretly involved for almost three years with a man by the name of Vincent.
Catherine apologized to her friend for not telling her everything before but swore she had good reasons. She only confessed now because she was almost bursting with emotions and had to talk to someone. She could think of no one better than her long time best friend.
Catherine revealed that it was Vincent who had saved her that horrible April night she was disfigured. He'd also saved her numerous times since. Mysteriously, Catherine was deliberately vague about Vincent's appearance, only allowing that his features were amazingly unique. She did, however, remark cryptically that some found them so different that it made them afraid. That was why he never came out in public and why their relationship was so secret.
Yet, it didn't seem to affect the way Catherine felt about him. Catherine spent the next few hours telling her best friend how wonderful and special Vincent was. It was clear to Jenny that Catherine was genuinely in love and she rejoiced for her. It sounded to Jenny as if Catherine had, at long last, found the true love she deserved.
Yet, according to Catherine, there were obstacles, not the least of which was Vincent himself. He had, it seemed, a ridiculous notion that she should find someone who could share her public, outgoing life. It was a long standing argument that had finally led to a standstill in their relationship. Catherine had tried to be patient, biding her time and hoping Vincent would change his mind. But at last, even her considerable patience had been exhausted and she had decided to take matters into her own hands. She felt that by removing all the reasons for Vincent's objections, she could persuade him that they were meant to be together.
Since their conversation, Catherine had been busy. Her new job didn't start for a month, so she'd immediately begun renovating the brownstone. By knocking through a few walls, Catherine was rapidly able to make the ground floor habitable and it had direct basement access. Jenny marveled at her ability to get the work done so quickly, but Catherine had only laughed and remarked how wonderful it was to put her money to good use for the man she loved. In two short weeks, everything had been done and Catherine had announced she was finally ready to present her arguments to her beloved. She'd kept her changes a secret until then, hoping that presenting them all at once might help sway him. When Jenny had borrowed the dress, Catherine asked Jenny to wish her luck. Jenny hadn't heard from her since.
It wasn't long before Jenny saw her friend. But when she called to her, Catherine didn't respond. Jenny guessed she was too far away to hearso she continued following until Catherine disappeared down a hill behind a group of trees. As Jenny drew closer, she could hear voices and recognized one as Catherine. From her vantage point, Jenny had a good view of the pair. They must have been intent on their conversation, because neither noticed her hidden in the trees nearby. When the other speaker turned in profile, Jenny gaped shamelessly in shock. The man had to be Catherine's Vincent.
"Please Vincent! Just hear me out! We can be together! I know it. I've been making arrangements. Give me a chance to explain!" Catherine pleaded in a voice Jenny had never heard her use before.
"No, Catherine, it can't be. It was a wonderful dream, but now it must end. You must be free to follow your heart." The cloaked figure choked.
"Vincent, you are my heart and my soul. Without you, I have nothing. Without you, I am nothing. Can't you see that? We deserve to be together!" Catherine sobbed. "Please don't do this to me! This decision involves up both. Don't shut me out. You aren't being fair!"
"No. This is nothing to discuss. Goodbye, Catherine." He ground out in a faint growl as he disappeared into the nearby culvert.
"Wait!" Catherine called after him, but he was gone. She broke down then, sobbing in earnest. Quickly, she turned and ran in the general direction of her building. Jenny looked on from her hiding place, stunned immobile by all she'd just witnessed. Under other circumstances, she would have run after her friend, but her mind was busy processing all the information she'd just received. Suddenly, so much of Catherine's mysterious behavior in the past three years made sense. Jenny remained in place for a few minutes as the pieces of the puzzle finally came together. She was still there when the cloaked figure reemerged. He was too lost in his own musings to notice her.
Now, most people in a similar situation would have run, but Jenny was not most people. To complicate things, she had a temper that could erupt like a volcano. Jenny was slow to anger. But once she was, her temper overtook her. Right now, she was ready to blow. Without a second thought, she charged out of her hiding place and confronted the man who had made her best friend so unhappy.
"YOU ARROGANT JACKASS! How dare you treat Cathy like that!" She shrieked.
Startled, Vincent jumped and was about to run when her next words froze him in place. "Don't you dare turn your back on ME, Vincent! Maybe Cathy puts up with that crap, but this is me you're dealing with, mister! You're going to stay right there and listen whether you like it or not! Don't you dare move an inch!" She snarled.
It might have been the shock of hearing this stranger speak his name, but Vincent found himself doing as she demanded.
"How can you treat Cathy so callously? Do you realize how much you just hurt her? Nobody has ever made her cry like that; not that psycho Stephen Bass, that jerk, Tom Gunther or that pretty boy Elliot Burch; none of whom I liked by the way! She loves you, for heaven sakes? Don't you know how special she is?" Jenny argued vehemently.
"Of course I do!" Vincent countered adamantly. Strangely, he didn't question his need to defend himself to this woman. "Why do you think I'm so desperate to set her free? It was the hardest thing I've ever done. But Catherine is special and beautiful. She deserves someone as beautiful as she is, not a creature like me." He added, tears streaming down his own face now.
"Well, Catherine thinks you are special and beautiful as well. But if you mean one of those pretty boys Cathy used to go out with, you're wrong. Those kind of guys are a dime a dozen and they've never even made her look twice. Any idiot can slap on a monkey suit and look good for a photo in the society column. It takes someone special to share a lifetime and Cathy wants to share hers with you!" Jenny announced.
"How can I? Look at me!" Vincent whispered brokenly, shaking his head.
Seeing she needed something else to make her point, Jenny changed tactics. "Vincent, you say Catherine is beautiful, but she didn't always look like she does now. Reaching into her pocket, Jenny pulled out her wallet and drew out a photo. It was a bit faded, but the subjects were easy to make out.
In it was a youthful Jenny, her hair flying wildly about her in an untamed halo. Next to her stood another young girl, her face veritably covered up by the orthodontic headgear that she sported. But there was no mistaking the gentle green eyes peeking out beneath all the metal. It was Catherine. Now, it was Vincent's turn to gape in shock.
"You didn't think she was born with that perfect smile, did you? She spent a year and a half in that metal getup." Jenny joked. 'This was our senior year of high school. I was just the poor plumber's kid from Queens who managed to get a scholarship, but Cathy didn't care. She treated me like any of her other friends. The reason I'm showing you this is because I think you can see that Cathy isn't just beautiful on the outside, but on the inside as well. Those other jerks couldn't. To them, Cathy was a beautiful trophy to make them look good. Her bank account was just an extra bonus. But Catherine says you see the real her. That's what she needs. Someone who loves her, not just her looks or her bank account! Looks fade, bank accounts can dry up but love is something that can last forever if it's with the right person!"
Vincent had drawn much closer to view the picture and he now stood face to face with the woman he had deduced was Catherine's best friend, Jenny Arronson. He should have felt awkward, but he didn't. Maybe it was the blunt way Jenny spoke or just the fact that he was finally hearing the words that he needed to from another person, but it touched Vincent deeply. Jenny's words penetrated his heart and shook him to the foundations of his being. At once, a small flame of hope lit in his breast.
"Do you think it's possible?" Vincent whispered, almost afraid to give voice to his hope.
"Vincent, if there's one thing I've learned after tonight; it's that nothing is impossible."
Jenny smiled in reply.
Jenny and Vincent agreed that they needed to go after Catherine as soon as possible. He walked Jenny to the edge of the park.
"This is as far as I can take you." Vincent informed her.
Jenny frowned. 'Why? We can just walk in…Oh, whoops. Sorry I forgot."
Vincent literally grinned. Suddenly, he didn't feel quite so different after all.
"Say, how do you get up to Catherine's place?"
Vincent shrugged. "I climb."
"Eighteen floors?" Jenny exclaimed in astonishment. Vincent nodded in response.
"It's a wonder poor Cathy hasn't had a heart attack worrying for you! Please, Vincent, be careful! It wouldn't do for Cathy to lose you now. Besides, you're the first boyfriend of hers I've actually liked! Are there anymore at home like you?" Jenny teased.
"Not exactly." Vincent quipped mysteriously as they parted.
To Jenny's dismay, the doorman informed her Catherine had not returned. But Jenny went to the apartment just to be sure. After she knocked several times, the door opened but it was Vincent on the other side. He was visibly distraught.
"Jenny, she's gone! Her bedroom is empty, her clothes are gone and there are boxes everywhere! She's left me!" Vincent choked.
Jenny looked around in astonishment. "Wow, Cathy moves quick! It's ok, Vincent. I think I know where she might be."
Catherine was startled by a furious pounding on her front door. Rousing herself, she went to answer it. "Jenny?"
"Bout time you answered. Hurry, you need unlock the back door. Vincent will be here any minute!" Jenny urged.
Catherine stared at her, openmouthed. "Vincent?"
"Yep, I followed you into the park. Let's just say he and I had a nice conversation." Jenny winked. Taking in Catherine's red rimmed eyes, Jenny changed her mind. "You better go freshen up while I open the door."
It wasn't long before Vincent arrived and Jenny let him in. Vincent entered the brownstone and slowly turned around, taking in all he saw. He turned back to Catherine as she came out of the bathroom nearby.
"You did all of this…for me?" He whispered reverently.
"I told you,Vincent, what we have is worth everything!" She responded earnestly. Vincent crossed the room and seized her, passionately covering her mouth with his. Neither of them noticed when Jenny quietly slipped out the front door.
Much later, Catherine was curled up on the new large, leather sofa tucked firmly to Vincent's side. 'I can't believe you finally met Jenny."
Vincent smiled against the crown of her head as he rested his lips there. "She yelled at me."
Catherine groaned. "Jenny has always had a temper."
"But she's a good friend. She definitely cares about you." Vincent observed.
"She must like you too. Jenny would have never brought you here if she didn't. To be honest, I think that's a first." Catherine smiled, wrinkling her nose. Catherine noticed that Vincent was staring intently at her mouth. "What?"
Vincent smiled impishly. "I was just thinking about lovely your smile is and how glad I am that it's no longer hidden behind a plethora of metal."
Catherine frowned. "Tell me she didn't show you that picture from high school. I'm going to kill her!"
"I have a better idea. Let's introduce her to Devin." Vincent offered with a wicked smile. "She's perfect for him."
Catherine grinned as she pulled Vincent's head back down to her own. "Poor Devin. He won't know what hit him!"