Summary: At Father's urging, Catherine attempts to deceive Vincent
to keep him below and away from
an exhiled enemy from the past who has returned to New York.
The taste of rain that lingers
A shell of time encased,
Love touches with its fingers
Feelings like smoke, never to be erased.
Power to fall for grand,
This king shies his space.
Warmth felt as we stand.
A poor man's race.
Catherine looked up from the legal pad she was reading from. "What
do you think?"
Vincent's face was unreadable. He tilted his head, his eyes distant,
considering her poem.
She was watching him, anxious for his opinion.
"It's has beautiful rhythm," he sighed. "But....what exactly does
She leaned over and whacked his arm playfully with the pad. He
laughed in return.
"It's my first ever," she informed him. "I wrote it when I was
sixteen for a creative writing class I
had in school. My teacher adored it and found all this symbolism
in it that even I wasn't aware of. I got
an A on it too." Catherine feigned annoyance. "I thought you
"I do," he replied with a sly smile. "It is beautiful. After all,
it came from you, Catherine. It couldn't
be anything else."
His fond gaze made her blush. She examined her prized poem once
more, then went to put the
pad back in her briefcase.
"May I?" Vincent asked, extending his hand towards it. Pleased,
she tore off the page the poem
had been copied on and handed it over to him.
He took it and placed it inside the cover of a book lying on the
table across from his bed. Then
he sat back, tucking a leg under him, and looked at Catherine
with unconcealed love.
"Thank you," he said quietly. "I hope it is not your final effort."
She shrugged. "I never thought of myself as a poet before. I guess
it all depends on inspiration."
He smiled warmly. "I wasn't expecting to see you again so soon."
He gestured at her briefcase.
"You must have come right from your office."
"Well," Catherine explained, "To be honest, I was coming to see
Father. He said it was urgent in
his note and--"
"He sent for you?" Surprise filled Vincent's voice. "Why?"
She shook her head. "I thought you knew. I don't. The note just
said to see him as soon as
possible. So I came right away. Some of the children were playing
near the entrance. I asked them to
bring me here." She paused and looked around. "He must not have
expected me so soon or he'd be
here, I'm sure. Where did you say he went?"
"He's helping with supplies. I'm sure he'll be here soon." Vincent
stared at her. "Strange. Why
didn't he mention any of this to me?"
Catherine easily read the look of concern clouding his features
suddenly. Reaching over, she
squeezed his large hand. "I'm sure it's nothing. Try not to assume
the worse. It probably slipped his
Vincent knew better. He sighed heavily, then sat forward suddenly,
looking past Catherine. She
turned to see Father entering the room.
"Ah Catherine," he greeted. "The children told me you had arrived.
I hope I didn't keep you
waiting too long."
Catherine shook her head. She glanced back at Vincent. "I had
Father made his way towards her, taking his time. "Would you please
excuse us, Vincent? I need
to speak with Catherine. Alone."
A mixture of confusion and worry flooded Vincent's mind. He rose
slowly. His body language
showed he did not like being purposefully kept ignorant in matters
involving the people he loved, but
respectfully, he obeyed his father. Silently, he backed away
from them then threw his cloak over his
shoulders and strode out.
Catherine gave Father an incredulous look. "What is this all about?
Why don't you want Vincent
Gesturing for her to keep her voice down, Father waited until
he was satisfied Vincent was well
out of hearing range before he said anything. His statement hardened
as he faced Catherine again.
"I need your help. You are the only one I know whom I can turn
to in this matter. I don't want
Vincent to know why I sent for you." He withdrew a crumpled letter
from an unseen pocket and held it
out towards her. She took it from him and read through it quickly.
"What is this?"
"Perhaps, I should start from the beginning." He sighed heavily
and settled down on the edge of
Vincent's bed. "Legree is a former member of our community. He
grew up here. He was a child of a
friend of mine who has since passed away." He paused and took
a troubled breath. "I exiled him a long
time ago. He was always trouble. A criminal in the world above.
As it was, he only left because he
feared Vincent. But he kept sneaking back down. He would rig
traps. Endanger lives. He caught me off
guard one time. Thank God Vincent came along when he did. I think
Legree would have killed me. He
was that angry. But he got above before Vincent could get to
him. That was the last we ever heard
from him. Or so we thought. Now, after all this time, I get this."
Catherine looked steadily at Father. "This doesn't sound like
the same person."
"I know," Father agreed. "That's what frightens me. He could be
up to his old tricks again. Trying
to catch us off guard."
"This letter is full of 'I love you', 'I'm so sorry', 'I miss
you and I want to come home.' Sounds
pretty repentant to me," Catherine stated. "Have you spoken with
She sighed. "Why was he exiled exactly?"
Father exhaled miserably. Painful memories began to reflect on
his face. "He was always a
disturbed child. He would do vicious, heartless things.....to
Vincent mostly. I didn't even realize at first."
Catherine reached over and touched his hand reassuringly. "He
was older than Vincent. Bigger. Well,
Vincent was just a child practically. Because he is...the way
he is, Legree delighted in torturing him,
physically and mentally. But as Vincent grew, he became the stronger
of the two and was able to fend
Legree's abuse off after a time."
"Vincent never told you this boy was hurting him?" Catherine asked.
Her eyes were watering at
the thought of someone being deliberately cruel to her gentle
"No. The only reason I discovered it at all was because Legree
suddenly came to me one day
and accused Vincent of almost killing him. When I confronted
Vincent, he wouldn't say anything. He
neither admitted nor denied it. That is what was so startling.
But Vincent's friends came forward. They
told me Vincent had only hurt Legree in self defense. They told
me what had been going on between
those two for a long time. I think Vincent was beginning to hate
him." He shook his head regretfully.
"All those years. I just didn't see it. In the end, I had to
decide. It was either Legree....or Vincent."
Catherine put a cool hand to her forehead to soothe her flushed
skin. "I don't care it this person
teaches Sunday School now, I don't want him anywhere near Vincent."
"Neither do I," Father said with the utmost certainty. "Even if
he has changed, maybe I could
forgive him for lashing out at me the way he did, but not for
what he put Vincent through. And Vincent
lost what little compassion he had left for him when Legree tried
to harm me. I fear, if my son ever did
see Legree again, he would end up killing him."
Catherine took a steadying breath. "Well what is it that you want
me to do?"
Father leaned forward. "We have to keep Vincent underground. He
cannot be allowed above
until we find Legree. I believe this may all be a trap of some
sort. To draw Vincent out. Legree will be
watching the tunnel accessways I'm sure. If he spies Vincent
above....Well, above he would have the
upper hand." He gazed at Catherine unfalteringly. "You can help
by finding this man for me. Do what
you can to make him leave again...or find something on him to
put him away for good. I know he has a
police record. With the access to personal information you have
it will be easier for you than any of us.
Anything would help."
"But what about Vincent? What are you going to tell him?" Her
heart was hurting.
"I'm not going to tell him anything at this point. Right now,
my main concern is to keep him safe in
the tunnels. We've changed them since Legree left the last time.
So most likely, Legree won't be able to
venture down. But Vincent has to stay here. It's imperative."
He sighed heavily. "This is probably the
hardest thing I'll ever ask you to do, but you must tell him
you don't want to see him for awhile. Tell him
you need time to think."
"Well, I'll tell him I'm going away on business," Catherine offered.
"You can't just tell him you are going away because I know he'll
sense you. Make up something.
Tell him you want to see another man. I don't care. But tell
him to stay away."
Catherine paled. "I can't do that to him!"
"You must!" Father insisted. "Just until we know what Legree really
wants. Vincent must not
know anything about this. He'll seek him out, I'm sure." He rose
stiffly, settling his weight on his cane.
"When Vincent gets back, he can guide you home. Please, tell
him then." He turned away. "I'll see if I
can find him."
Catherine followed him out of Vincent's chamber. "Even if I do
tell him to leave me alone for
awhile, there's no guarantee he'll stay below."
Father continued walking, searching. "We can keep him busy. We
can distract him easily if he
isn't going above to see you. You must think of something convincing
to say to him. This cannot wait,
Catherine." They walked slowly together through the tunnels in
a tense silence. Turning a sharp corner,
they spied Vincent heading towards them from the opposite corridor.
They met each other in the
middle of the passage.
"Father," Vincent greeted formally.
The older man merely nodded. "Catherine is waiting for you to
take her back up." He gave her
one last look of urgency before turning to make his way back
to the library.
As soon as Catherine drew near him, Vincent turned, heading back
down the tunnel he had just
emerged from. Reluctantly, Catherine followed. Her mind raced,
struggling to come up with something
to tell him. It was Vincent who finally broke the uneasy silence
"I won't ask you to reveal to me what Father has entrusted to
you, but I sense a fearful sadness
within you that was not there before you two spoke." He glanced
back at her and waited for her to
catch up to him. "Is there anything I can do to take it away?"
Catherine was finding it hard to look into his eyes. She took
a deep breath. "Vincent, I wasn't
being truthful with you before. I was the one who arranged this
meeting with Father." She stopped, her
throat tightening uncomfortably. "I needed his advice, you see.
Because I have something to tell
you.....and it may hurt you." She blinked her eyes against the
Feeling tenderness for her, Vincent cupped her chin with his hand,
tilting her eyes up to his. He
spoke softly. "Tell me."
Summoning every ounce of her strength, she began, "I'm confused
now. I'm not sure what I want
anymore." Vincent watched her, listening intently. She continued,
struggling. "All I do know is that I
want to be sure and I'm going to need some time alone to think
things through. I would rather....you
not...come to me for the time being."
Vincent's statement remained seemingly unchanged. "This is what
you say, but it is not what you
"It is," she told him firmly, trying her best to add conviction
to her words. "I've met someone.
We've been seeing a lot of each other lately. I really like him."
Inhaling slowly, Vincent looked away from her. "Don't do this,"
Catherine stifled a sob. "Please...just take me back up."
Catherine closed the door to her apartment. She leaned against
it and bowed her head. Tears
began streaming down her face uncontrollably. Vincent had escorted
her to the threshold and then
wordlessly, turned and walked away. She thought she had never
felt so alone and she hoped in a small
way, he didn't believe her explanation.
"What was that name again?" Eadie asked Catherine, peering closer
at her computer moniter.
"Anthony Legree," Catherine repeated.
"Actor?" She looked at her friend curiously. "You've heard of
Eadie nodded, punching in his name. "Yeah. Stage actor. Really
came up in the last few years or
so." Words covered the computer screen. "There. See, got his
first starring role in 'Pepper Man.'"
Eadie smiled. "I saw that. He was great."
Catherine continued to stare at the screen. "Present address?"
Eadie pointed it out, and Catherine scribbled it on her notepad.
"Any current run ins with the law? These are all old."
Eadie scrolled through the information slowly. "What is this?
What are you looking for?"
"Anything I can use," Catherine answered coolly.
"Here. There was a preliminary hearing. That's all," Eadie said
after scanning the paragraph she'd
just found. "The evidence was inconclusive. That was about three
years ago. He's cleaned up his act
since then. No pun intended."
Catherine didn't look up from her pad and continued writing. "What
was the hearing for?"
Eadie sat back and frowned. "Rape."
Catherine sighed heavily. "I need everything you can get me about
that case. Victim, evidence,
dates. Police reports. Everything."
Shaking her head, Eadie began printing the file. "You planning
on doing a little blackmailing on the
side or something?"
"Or something," Catherine said, rubbing her arms. She suddenly
Father looked up occasionally, watching Vincent pace restlessly
about the chamber. He sighed
finally and closed his book resoundingly. "Please don't be angry
with me," he implored his son.
Vincent stopped pacing long enough to give his father a disquieting
glance, then continued to walk
the floor of the chamber.
Father took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. "You can't go
on like this. You're making this
harder on yourself than it has to be," he scolded.
Vincent whirled around so fast it startled Father. "What did you
say to her? Why did you send
for her?" he snapped.
"Why are you acting this way?!" Father retorted, trying to be
vague. "If she told you she needs
time to think, you must simply grant her that courtesy."
Vincent ran a hand through his bangs in frustration. "Because
I know she was lying."
Father thought desparately to come up with something to calm his
irate son. "When she is ready
to talk to you about it, she will. In the meantime, you have
to let her have her privacy, Vincent."
Pacing again, Vincent turned away from his father. "Tell me you
had nothing to do with her
decision," he demanded. "I know you disapprove...of us."
Father's heart twisted. "I don't disapprove. I just don't want
to see you get hurt. I didn't know
how you two would ever make a love work, but you have. I can
see that now. The love you share with
her enables both of you to transcend boundaries. It's inspiring.
Vincent lowered his head and sighed. "So it was her decision then?"
"Her decisions are her own. She alone, chooses what she feels
is best," Father replied. He knew
his son was hurt and confused, but he wasn't sure what to do
to help him without disclosing what he
and Catherine knew. "Vincent," he began, rising from his chair
and walking to him. He took his son's
head in his hands and tried to smile reassuringly. "She loves
you. She'll come back to you."
"Radcliffe?" Joe called. "You plan on going home tonight?"
Catherine looked up distracted. "Oh, bye Joe. I'll see you in
the morning." She turned over the
paper she was reading.
Joe walked over to her desk and gestured at the file folders laying
about. "What is all this? We
just wrapped up the Albany case." He read over her shoulder.
"Cathy, in case you haven't noticed, that
case you're reading about has been wrapped up too. Charges were
dropped three years ago. What
Massaging her burning eyes, Catherine faced the deputy D.A. "Just
some personal investigating."
"Anthony Legree?" Joe continued to read over her shoulder. "A
She nodded. "There was no real evidence against him, or at least
not enough." She sighed. "The
victim's testimony is off."
"What are you looking for?"
She shrugged. "I'm not sure."
Joe smiled. "Go home, get some rest. There are plenty of recent
criminals left to prosecute,
Cathy. You don't have to look through old files for something
to do." He patted her on the back.
Catherine watched him leave. She stuffed the papers back into
the file folders laying on her desk
and slipped the folders into her briefcase.
She was tired, but going home just didn't sound appealing lately.
Maybe she'd drop by Eadie's
for a late night cappuccino.
On her way to her car she pondered what she had just read. She
thought of the letter this man
had written to Father. She thought about what he was accused
of doing to a twenty year old girl. And
then she recalled what Eadie had told her. He was an actor. A
good one apparently. Catherine was
starting to believe Father's suspicions. More than likely, the
letter was a trap. She knew before she
went to bed she wanted to reread the entire file.
The next morning came all too soon. Catherine's alarm clock buzzed
for attention. She groaned,
covering her head with the pillow and hitting the snooze button.
She rolled over, and lay motionless,
struggling to wake up, but instead allowed her mind to wander
back to her dream.
Her hand slid over the pillow and was caught and pressed into
warm and supple lips...He
moaned seductively and stretched and was taking her in his arms,
drawing her to him...Looking at her
with such love and passion...She reached out to brush aside the
tawny hair from his sky blue eyes and
then there was this annoying buzzing. It grew louder and louder,
pulling her away from him.
Catherine's eyes popped open. She grabbed her alarm clock and
hurled it across the room.
Vincent woke suddenly. Her thoughts filling his mind. They had
come so quickly and
unexpectantly, he barely had enough time to grasp them before
they were gone. He leaned his head
back into his pillow and sighed. Is this what you wanted time
alone to think about, Catherine? he smiled
knowingly to himself.
Eadie folded the newspaper in thirds, isolating the one article
she wanted Catherine to read and
tossed it on Cathy's desk.
Cathy looked up. "What is this?"
"Something I ran across in the paper today. I figured you might
find it interesting."
Her curiosity aroused, she put aside her writing to read the print.
"Cast party tonight at Remy Theater. The cast and production company
of this year's
off-broadway hit 'Toasts to All', is playing host to a party
open to the public to give critics and
theater-goers a chance to meet the cast. The party is scheduled
to begin at eight at 1412 29th Avenue
in the theater basement. Among those scheduled to attend are
producers Ginny and Russel Dent,
director Mark Foreman, and actor Anthony Legree."
Eadie smiled. "Would you like some company?"
Catherine looked up. "Anthony Legree. He'll be there. I could
just walk right up to him." Her
mind started racing.
That night, she left work early. She couldn't concentrate anyway.
Her thoughts shifted from
Vincent, to Legree, to the party, to the rape case, and back
to Vincent. By the time she got home, her
head was aching.
She took a hot shower and some aspirin. It occurred to her that
she didn't feel like going to a
party and being sociable tonight. What she wanted to do was spend
the night on her balcony, her hair
loose, doing nothing in particular. Nothing but listening to
the sound of Vincent's voice as he read
sonnets to her.
Checking over her dress quickly, and giving her lips another coat
of gloss, she almost started to
cry. She missed Vincent so much. She wondered what he might be
thinking right now. Quickly, she
grabbed her purse and opened the door.
Mouse frowned and shrugged. "Why me?"
"Because," Vincent explained, pacing restlessly, "He won't let
me out of his sight. I haven't been
above in nearly a week."
"Father will suspect."
"No. He's used to you coming to him with your ideas. I've seen
you spend hours with him. If you
go to him tonight, it won't be anything unusual."
Mouse shook his head. "He'll know. Know you talked to me."
"He doesn't know I'm here. I finally managed to slip past him
when he got distracted with the
children. But I need more time. That's where you come in."
Mouse grinned. "Vincent sneaking?!" He always liked sneaking.
Suddenly he frowned, turning
away from his friend. "Father will say 'same as lying.' Get us
both in trouble."
Vincent sighed and tried another approach. "Mouse. I have to go
above to see Catherine. She
won't talk to me and I know something is wrong. Please, help
"Hmmm," Mouse considered. "Talking good. Don't like the silence."
He smiled and patted
Vincent on the back. "Okay. Mouse will help."
Catherine felt uncomfortable. She floated around the room, sipping
from her drink, trying to listen
in on each introduction. Finally, she found an empty sofa and
sat with a heavy sigh. The idea of coming
here had sounded perfect. Their meeting would be so inconspicuous.
She'd talk to him, try to get to
know him. Then all those stinging questions would be answered.
Her headache was back with a
vengeance. She leaned against the arm of the sofa, placing her
chin in her hand.
"It's my personal duty, self-assigned naturally, to make sure
all our guests are having a good
time," a voice from above informed Catherine solemnly. She looked
up and saw a dazzingly white
smile, shining green eyes, tousled blonde hair, and a square
masculine jaw. She tried to smile in return,
but was too caught up in just looking. The man moved, seating
himself beside her and continued. "I've
been watching you since you arrived. You make it look like I'm
not doing my job."
Catherine found her voice. "Oh. I'm just waiting for someone to
"Ah," the man said. "The star. Everyone waits for the star."
"I was trying not to look as out of place as I feel," Catherine
said. "I'm not sure what I'm doing
The man laughed easily. "You're brightening a rather dull party.
Don't get me wrong, I'm doing
my job. Look at them. They're all having a great time. All but
me." He suddenly smiled at her. "Until
now. Misery loves company you know. And here I am with you."
He studied her expectantly. "You
were supposed to laugh. That was a line from the play. My scene
with Kevin Vicks."
"Oh," Catherine flushed, embarrassed. "I am sorry. Like I said,
I don't know what I'm doing
here. I haven't even seen the play."
"Well, there goes my groupie theory," the man replied. He gazed
at Catherine with a puzzled
look. "You said you were waiting for someone? Who? Maybe I could
Catherine sighed. "I'd like to meet Anthony Legree."
The man's handsome face brightened with an amused smile. "You
want to meet that conceited,
up-staging, embarrassment to the acting profession?" He laughed,
covering his eyes. "I thought you
wanted to meet the star."
Catherine stared back at him, confused. "I do. I thought you said
Legree was the star?"
"I said no such thing," he answered, shaking his head. His thick
hair swayed with the movement.
"Legree is not the star. Heaven forbid. Kevin Vicks is the star."
"But I read in the paper..."
"Precisely why Kevin Vicks won't be here. The media is always
mentioning me and not him."
Catherine laughed lightly. "I told you I don't know why I'm here.
I'm going home. It's been a long
day." She got up. "It's really been nice talking to you though.
If it wasn't for you, I don't think I would
have smiled all night."
He rose. "Don't I even get to know why you wanted to meet me so
Catherine's smile cracked. "Meet you?"
He threw his head back and laughed. "I don't think I've ever bombed
out with a beautiful woman
as badly as I have tonight. Don't I even get a name?"
"....Catherine Chandler," she said, thoroughly confused. "I'm
afraid I don't understand."
"Mmm, that's obvious," he grinned. "Catherine, I'm Tony Legree.
I guess you missed my subtle
introduction a ways back. I was toying with you. Trying to find
out why you were here. You didn't see
the play and you apparently didn't even know what I looked like.
I'm sorry." He took her hand.
Catherine lost all the color in her face. She jerked her hand
free and backed up. "You're
He nodded slowly. "I'm really sorry. I should have just told you.
I was trying to cheer you up."
He stepped towards her but she backed up more.
"I have to go," she said quickly turning. Her breath felt trapped
in her lungs and she wanted to get
out into the air where she could breathe again.
Legree caught her shoulder. "Wait, Cathy, please. Don't be upset.
What can I do to make it up
"Look, it's not your fault," Catherine fumbled. "I just need to
Capitulating, Legree released her, watching her push her way through
the people to the door and
disappear. He stood staring at the door as a woman walked up
to him, clucking her tongue.
"Lose something?" she cooed.
He nodded, staring blankly. "Cinderella just realized her limo
was turning into a pumpkin, I
guess." He looked around the room and frowned. "I'm taking off.
Cover for me will you?"
"Vincent, thank God! Where have you been?" Father sighed. "I turn
my back for a moment and
Vincent glared at his father. Without answering, he dropped into
"I was hoping you would help me with these new shelves. You know
I was counting on you,"
Father went on, gesturing at a stack of lumber and a pile of
"I went for a walk," Vincent confessed.
Father's brow raised. "Above?"
"No, not above! How dare I go above lately?! How dare I even consider
such a thing!" Vincent
Father pointed an accusing finger at his irate son. "You are becoming
intolerable lately." He
sighed heavily and ran his hand through his hair in frustration.
"Marcus told me you snarled at him
earlier. You had no right. He was only doing what I told him
"He was spying on me!"
"He was merely keeping an eye on you. And since when does something
like that, provoke that
kind of reaction from you? Jamie told me you all but ignored
her yesterday when she was trying to talk
to you. And when Pascal tried to get you to move those new pipes,
you got angry with him."
"I feel like a prisoner!" Vincent retorted. "I feel everyone's
eyes on me constantly." He rose
suddenly and strode to his room, abruptly ending their argument.
Father took a deep breath, and started after him.
He cleared his throat, pausing at the entrance to the chamber.
Vincent was seated on the edge of
his bed, his eyes fixed on the floor. He didn't bother to look
"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I'm sorry for everything. I'm worried...about
Catherine." He looked
into his father's eyes at last. "I know this all has something
to do with what you spoke to her about." He
took a ragged, emotion-laden breath. "It's as if you are purposefully
trying to keep me from her. I didn't
think she was being honest with me when she told me she didn't
want to see me. Has she asked you to
do this? To make sure I stay away? I don't understand why you
and Catherine would do something like
this to me."
Father walked over to Vincent and sat beside him. Vincent lowered
his head to the older man's
shoulder dejectedly. Father put his arm around him and kissed
his hair affectionately.
"Just know that we love you. We all love you so very much."
Catherine was furious with herself. All her professionalism abandoned
her when she needed it
most. The party was a perfect place to talk. But he had caught
her so off guard, he wasn't anything like
she had been expecting. He was supposed to be ugly and mean and
sadistic. Instead, he was
handsome, friendly, warm, and charming. She knew she had screwed
up her one big chance. She
couldn't approach him incognito now.
She had to think of another way to get close to him without looking
suspicious. But how?
"Catherine is very upset right now," Vincent told Father suddenly,
looking up at him, begging to
be set free to go to her.
"If you see her now, it will only make her angrier," Father informed.
Vincent shook his head. "I know she has been very unhappy since
I last saw her. She thinks of
me often. I can feel her heart calling out to me."
Father persisted. "Stay away, Vincent. When she is ready, she
will come to you."
"Are you so certain?"
Father nodded. "She just needs time to herself now."
He stood up slowly, stiffly, and gazed sympathetically at his
son. "Listen, Mouse wants to see me
tonight. He wants to go over some plans for that new hydraulic
lift he's been working on. Promise me, if
I give you some space and leave you alone, you won't do anything...rash."
Vincent calmly met his father's gaze. "How do you define rash?"
"Vincent! I'm warning you---"
Mouse hurried into the chamber. "Father! Ready? Come now! You'll
like, I know! Be
surprised!" He and Vincent exchanged knowing looks.
Father sighed heavily in resignation.
Anthony Legree was still a good distance from Catherine, but he
had her in his sight. He had
been following her since she left the theater, hoping to talk
with her some more but she had gotten too
far ahead of him so he decided to hang back and see where she
ended up. Strangely enough, she
headed for the park with a determined stride. She walked right
up to a large drainage tunnel and
stopped just inside. Legree knew this place from his childhood
and he stared at Catherine
dumbfounded. She acted as if she also knew there was more to
that drainage tunnel than rainwater.
She appeared to be struggling with the decision to venture in
any farther. Finally she turned on her heel
and hurried out.
"Well, well," Legree said under his breath. "How interesting."
He stayed by the tunnel access,
wondering, watching; letting Catherine get away, but too immersed
in his thoughts to really care. What
could she possibly have to do with the tunnels? he pondered.
As if in answer to his question, a figure
immerged. Tall, cloaked, stately. Legree could feel his skin
crawl and chills run down his spine.
"Vincent..." he hissed. He watched wide-eyed as his arch enemy
turned and headed in the same
direction Catherine had just gone. "I'll be damned," he muttered.
Catherine tightened the belt to her robe and poured a cup of tea.
She turned on the television to
catch the news and sat on her couch, drawing her legs under her.
She picked up a yellow legal pad
laying on the coffee table and uncapping a pen, began to write.
After awhile, she paused, reading it back to herself. Sighing,
she tossed the pad down on the
couch cushions. She felt too sad to write poetry now. And she
didn't want her poem to be sad. Just
then, she heard a tell tale thump coming from her balcony. She
jumped up, eager to open the doors,
when the phone rang. Without thinking, she snatched it up.
"Yes? I mean, hello?"
"Cathy? It's me Tony!"
Catherine inhaled sharply. He had called her. She'd been given
another chance. She knew she
couldn't mess this up.
"I'm glad you called," she assured.
"I got your number from the phone book. I hope you don't mind.
You mean that? You are glad I
"Yes," she smiled, trying to sound pleased. "I'm sorry I ran out
on you like that. I was feeling a
little overwhelmed is all."
"No, listen. Don't apologize. I called to apologize to you, not
the other way around. I figured
since my first apology didn't have much pull, I'd try a more
sublte, sincere approach. Would you have
dinner with me?"
Catherine bit her lip. "Dinner? Yes, I'd like that."
"I'm not much of a dancer."
"How 'bout a walk, then? Do you walk?"
Catherine laughed. "Yes. And maybe walking with you will improve
"Such undeserved flattery."
"Oh come on. You're very handsome and you know it."
"Tell me that's why you ran out on me. Even if it wasn't."
"I got flustered."
"Well, that's okay," he conceded. "I'll pick you up at seven tomorrow?
How's that sound?"
"Wonderful? Here's my address." Catherine relayed the necessary
information then hung up the
receiver. He was sweet, she thought. She was having a hard time
connecting him to the man Father
spoke of. Suddenly, she remembered the balcony. She ran to the
doors and threw them open but it
was empty. "Must have been the wind," she muttered. Maybe that
was a good thing. She sure didn't
want Vincent to hear the phone conversation she had just had.
Gratefully, she turned off the television
and headed for bed.
Back in his chamber, Vincent tore off his cloak and flung it over
a chair. He paced hotly around
the room, growling to himself, his mind full of indignation and
confusion. Was it true after all? Was she
really seeing another man? Her words and actions told him she
was. Her emotions and thoughts told
him something different.
Her phone conversation replayed mercilessly in his mind. She had
sounded so pleased to be
talking to this man. She had said he was handsome. He had flustered
her. It would improve her image
to be seen with someone like him. In her heart, Vincent had felt
her excitement grow as she talked to
this man. He knew she was relieved in a way that he had called
her. This entire perplexing scenario was
making Vincent's head spin.
Needing to release his escalating torrential emotions, Vincent
seized the edge of the table and
toppled it over, sending its contents flying. He moved on to
the next piece of hapless furnishing and then
stopped suddenly. On the floor, the book in which he had carefully
tucked Catherine's poem lay open
on its spine. The bright yellow paper had fallen from its protective
cover and was laying just beside the
corner of the overturned table. Vincent dropped to his knees
heavily and reached for it. He lifted it
slowly, settling back on his heels and hugged it to his chest.
The truth evaded him and with it, any understanding. There was
nothing left to do now but wait
for Catherine. Vincent tried to console himself by thinking she
would want to talk to him soon. He
knew she still thought of him and even missed him. He would just
have to give her the time she needed,
he decided. He also came to the conclusion there must be a good
reason behind all this. But what?
Work was slightly more tolerable today, Catherine thought to herself.
She had slept better the
night before and the idea of finally wrapping this whole Legree
situation up and being able to see
Vincent again, made her anxious.
"Cathy Chandler is the lady in the green sweater," she overheard
Joe say. She looked up to see a
colorful basket of flowers coming her way, via a delivery person.
He placed the basket on her desk
and handed her a tiny card.
"Thank you," she said accepting it. She slit the envelope open
with her thumbnail and pulled the
card out. "To brighten your day. Looking forward to tonight.
Tony." She frowned, suddenly unnerved.
They hadn't even been out together and here he was sending her
flowers. He genuinely seemed like a
nice guy. Maybe he had changed. Maybe his letter to Father was
sincere. After all, it had been three
years since his last run in with the law.
Perhaps if she talked openly to him. Explained everything, including
the apprehension Father felt.
Maybe he would decide it would be better not to try to return
to the tunnels. Maybe he would even
leave New York. It was the only thing left for her to do.
Catherine sighed softly. Whether or not this entire plan succeeded
depended on her being able to
find out all she could about Anthony Legree. Going out on a date
with him would make that easy.
After work, Catherine went into the basement of her building and
banged on the pipes for a guide
down. She figured one of the children would come and get her.
But it was Vincent who heard her
message and he came to meet her. She was surprised, but not unhappy.
"Vincent," she greeted and smiled, stepping toward him to give
him a hug. He made no move to
reciprocate. He said nothing and looked at her with an unwavering
gaze. He seemed to be waiting and
expectant. Catherine sighed heavily. "I need to talk to Father,"
she went on. "Please take me to him."
Vincent's eyes narrowed. His stare became oppressive. Suddenly
he turned and without a word,
started back up the tunnel. Catherine skipped after him. He seemed
to be purposefully maintaining a
distance between her and himself, lengthening his stride until
Catherine had to run every few steps just
to keep him in sight. Finally, out of breath and patience, she
stopped and yelled his name. She almost
expected him to keep walking, but he paused and glanced back
"Wait...please," she panted. She looked unhappily up at him. "Can
we at least talk to each
Slowly, Vincent turned and walked over to where she stood. "Only
if you agree to tell me the
truth," he replied quietly.
Catherine's shoulders drooped. She ran her hand across her forehead,
pushing aside her bangs
and took a deep breath. "How long have you known I was lying?"
"From the beginning," he told her, sounding insulted that she
would not have realized this.
Catherine felt somewhat relieved. "Is that because you sensed
it, or am I just a bad liar?" She
offered him a thin smile.
"Both," Vincent answered, his mood lightening. "Your heart did
not stand behind what you said."
He shifted, positioning himself directly in front of her. "I'm
worried about you, Catherine. I have felt
your unhappiness. Your apprehension." He took a deep breath.
"But when I went to see you last
"So it was you! I knew I heard something!" Catherine frowned suddenly.
"You left without seeing
"I overheard you talking," he began tentatively. "What you said...confused
"On the phone?" Catherine shook her head. Enough was enough. She
took hold of his hands and
squeezed them tightly. "Vincent, look at me. Feel the truth in
what I'm saying now. I'm not seeing
anyone else. I never was. I've been helping Father. He doesn't
want you to know why just yet. If you
did, things could become dangerous and he fears for your life."
"My life?" Vincent replied, startled. "If what you are doing is
possibly dangerous for me, it must
also be dangerous for you. How could he ask you to place yourself
"No, it's not like that," she tried to reassure him. "Please,
don't be angry with him. There is no
danger in this for me. That's why he asked me to help him." Catherine
realized she had disclosed too
much and at this point Vincent was not going to settle for anything
less than the whole truth. "I know
you must have been miserable these past few weeks, but we were
trying to protect you."
"All this was to protect me? From what?" he demanded. Then suddenly,
quietly: "From who?"
Catherine decided there was no sense in trying to keep anything
from him any longer. She sighed
and licked her lips. "Father received a letter from someone he
exiled a long time ago. This person has
asked to be allowed to return to the tunnels. He claims to be
a new man. The letter was so sincere
sounding, begging forgiveness for all the wrongs he had done
to the community before, but Father is
wary. He thinks it might be a trap to get to you. He asked me
if I could find out more about this person.
See if he really is reformed or if he has ulterior motives."
Vincent's mind raced. For a moment he was lost in concentration.
Then slowly his whole
countenance changed. His eyes ignited with anger and his lip
curled menacingly over his teeth in a silent
snarl. "Legree," he growled, then suddenly turned away from Catherine,
struggling with himself.
"We've been trying to keep you below, because if it is a trap,
he could be lying in wait,"
Catherine reluctantly continued. "I'm beginning to think he has
changed however. He doesn't seem
anything like the person Father described to me. He seems very
Vincent whipped around to face her. "You must not have anything
to do with this man!"
"I'm just going to talk with him," Catherine tried to placate
him. "I already met him. He was
charming and friendly and maybe, all he wants is just to come
home again. After all, he grew up here."
Vincent was shaking his head. "I know him! You don't," he seethed.
"He thrives on domination,
fear, and pain. He humiliates and insults and terrorizes. It's
how he is. A person such as this cannot
change. His heart is blackened beyond change."
Catherine reached up and layed her hand soothingly on Vincent's
chest. "I know what he did to
you. But I don't want you to worry about me. Trust me when I
tell you, he won't harm me. I must talk
to him. It's the only way."
"I don't want him near you!" Vincent persisted.
Catherine shook her head and put her hands on her hips defiantly.
"I promised Father I would
Vincent suddenly grabbed her hand, hauling her after him as he
all but ran through the tunnels.
Catherine soon found herself being dragged into the main chamber
very much out of breath. Father
stood up, sensing something was amiss. Vincent released Catherine
and turned on Father.
"You should have told me Legree was back!"
Father shot a fast exasperated look at Catherine and threw his
glasses angrily on the table.
"What, and risk your life? I knew you would react this way. It
proves my case in point. I feared what
you might be driven to do." His voice became quiet. "I know you
almost killed him once."
"This isn't about me," Vincent countered. "It's about Catherine!
How could you ask her to do
something like this, knowing Legree the way you do?"
"She is not at risk. She never was."
"She is! His wickedness knows no bounds!"
"Then credit her courage," Father continued. "Her willingness
to aid us when we needed her."
"She didn't realize what she was getting into," Vincent growled.
"You did! And you still asked
her. That is unacceptable."
"I would never knowingly put Catherine in jeopardy!" Father yelled
"Stop it!" Catherine's raised voice broke in suddenly. "You're
both talking about me like I'm not
even here." Having gained their silence and their attention,
she went on. "Please credit me with enough
intelligence to make my own decisions. I know what I'm doing.
And I wanted to help."
Vincent walked slowly over to her. His voice soft, his eyes imploring.
"You are everything to me.
You are my life. If I were to let you go to Legree, it would
be the same as placing my very existence in
his hands. I know he'll harm you."
Catherine sighed. "Why would he want to harm me?"
Vincent could feel his heart melting as he gazed at her. "Because
I love you." He turned, lowering
his eyes in resignation, and stalked out of the room, leaving
Catherine staring quizzically after him. She
looked over at Father.
His face was pale and he looked somewhat fearful, understanding
Vincent's lividity. "My god,
Catherine, he's right," he whispered. "I hadn't thought about
"I don't understand," she told him in a small voice.
Father took a deep breath. "Whatever you do, don't let him know
about your relationship with
Vincent. If he is in any way, the same person I exiled, I'm afraid
I have put you in danger."
Catherine could hardly believe her ears. "He hates Vincent that
Father nodded. "Yes. That much," he said gravely.
"I've made a date with him tonight. I thought it would give me
the chance to really talk to him,"
she informed. "I have to tell you, so far, he's been incredibly
sweet and likeable."
Father went to her and placed a hand gently on her shoulder. "Be
"I will." She tried to smile. "I need to get going." She gestured
in the general direction Vincent had
gone. "Take care of him for me. Until I get back."
Father smiled and nodded.
The evening was clear and warm. It would have been a nice night
to spend on the balcony,
Catherine thought, as she closed the french doors behind her
and went to answer the soft knock on her
"Hi there," Catherine breathed nervously as she opened the door
and saw Anthony Legree.
"Hello. Wow, you look great," Legree responded and smiled warmly.
Catherine caught herself staring at him, taking in his tall lean
build and handsome features. He
reminded her of one of the dashing movie stars back in Hollywood's
gilded age, like Tyrone Power or
Stewart Granger. She thought with a face like that, it was no
wonder he was a performer.
"I could say the same for you," she said at last.
He helped her with her jacket, and then guided her out the door.
They went to an Italian
restaurant that specialized in vegetable pasta and seafood. Catherine
discovered Legree was a
vegetarian and didn't drink alcohol ever. Throughout the meal,
he was the perfect gentleman. He kept
the conversation light, telling stories of onstage mishaps, auditions,
and the basic life of an actor in New
York. Catherine listened intently and laughed in spite of herself
at his wit and charm. She thought if this
were an actual date under normal circumstances, she might have
really enjoyed it, but she had one
singular purpose in mind and that was to get him to talk about
why he wanted to go back to the tunnels.
Not once, however, in the course of their dinner, did he say
anything that would indicate he was in the
least bit vengeful or bitter about his past and Catherine's confidence
in him grew steadily throughout the
Back at her apartment, she busied herself making coffee.
"I've been rambling on all evening," Legree said suddenly. "I
haven't given you a chance to say
Catherine shrugged and handed him a cup. "Well, I'm more interested
in you and what you have
to say," she began truthfully. "Besides, I've never met an actor
He glanced at her sideways. "That's an old line if I ever heard
one." He became serious. "I get the
feeling, you're just not being yourself. Do I make you uncomfortable?"
She sighed. Yes, she thought. I'm very uncomfortable. But said,
"I'm just a little tense tonight. I've
had a rough day."
"Well tell me," he continued. "Why were you looking for me? At
"Oh, I heard about you, from a friend. I decided I wanted to get
to know you." She took a quick
sip of coffee, not liking the direction this conversation was
"Uh huh. Is this a mutual friend by chance? Someone who knows
me already?" She didn't
answer, but smiled slightly. He went on. "You realize, I know
nothing about you. You are quite a
mysterious lady." He set his cup down on the coffee table and
leaned back against her sofa cushions,
studying her. Suddenly his face darkened. "Does this have anything
to do with the fact you work for the
Catherine felt a chill run down her spine. "By the way, how did
you find out I worked there?" she
"Your service gave me your work number. It was the District Attorney's
She nodded. It was a reasonable explanation. He hadn't been spying
on her or obsessively
following her. She told herself to calm down and reminded herself,
innocent until proven guilty.
"Does this have anything to do with Amelia Moore?" he asked sharply.
"Excuse me?" Catherine feigned ignorance.
Legree sighed heavily. "This girl I was dating went a little overboard
when I called off the
relationship. She brought charges against me. It was three years
ago in Queens." He shook his head
regretfully. "You know all about it though don't you? Please,
Cathy, don't tell me you went out with me
just to question me."
"I didn't," she assured him, forcing herself to touch his hand.
"I'm not going to question you about
that," she confessed and smiled. "Now look who's uncomfortable."
He rewarded her with an easy smile, his congenial air returning.
"I'm sorry to go off and get heavy
like that. That...incident haunts me to this day. Even though
the charges were dropped, nobody seems
to forget it. Nobody seems to want to believe the truth. I've
been in trouble a time or two. Mostly
because I was a stupid kid. But I've grown up, I've changed and
I know what is really important.
Family, and friends, and home." He sighed heavily, clutching
her offered hand in a tight squeeze. "One
of these days, I'm going to go home. It's where I belong. People
there don't hold your past against you.
They accept you for who you are. It'll give me a chance to start
Catherine immediately knew he was speaking of the tunnels at last.
She sat forward. "Why don't
you then? It sounds like a wonderful place. Is it your career,
as an actor?"
He shook his head, looking at her wistfully. "I have no career.
It's just a job. A simple one for
me. I act because I don't know how to do anything else. I have
no real skills. And besides, in case you
haven't noticed, I'm not too shabby looking. The offers come
"If it's not that, what's stopping you from going home?"
"A lot of things, I guess. Some of the people there. One in particular."
Catherine's pulse began to race. "Maybe you could talk to that
person. Maybe things have
"Oh, I'll talk to him. In time." He took his arm and placed it
casually over her shoulders, inviting
her closer to him.
"Why did you leave in the first place if you loved it there so
Legree frowned. "I was forced to go." He smiled suddenly. "Don't
look so worried, fair
Catherine. I'll get back there. Maybe someday,I'll take you there."
He leaned over her and kissed her
softly on the cheek. "You'll get the feeling you've been there
before. It'll be like deja vu. Won't it?"
Catherine suddenly detected a shift in his tone and mannerisms.
She tried to inch away from him
but he encircled her with his arms.
"Why don't we stop playing twenty questions and concentrate on
right now." His hand pushed
back the collar of her blouse. He began nibbling her neck seductively.
Catherine tried to remain calm and gently pushed him away. "Could
you excuse me a moment. I
think it's getting warm in here and I'd like to open the balcony
He sighed and released her readily, somewhat unexpectantly, then
smiled. "Sure. Anything to
make you more comfortable, Cathy." He leaned back on the sofa
and watched her disappear into the
Catherine stood in the middle of the room, trying to calm down.
She couldn't help thinking about
what Vincent had told her and her anxiety was beginning to show.
What really made her nervous was
that Legree seemed to be implying that she was aware the tunnels
were the 'home' he pined for. He
also implied he knew Catherine was somehow connected to the community
below. But he had yet to
mention Vincent and that was her one consolation.
She looked shakily towards her living room, knowing she needed
to return to him. She forgot all
about opening the balcony doors.
"Feel better?" Legree asked as soon as she appeared from the bedroom.
Catherine nodded. She remained standing.
"What's the matter, Cathy? Did I say something wrong?" He rose
slowly and walked over to her.
She tried not to back away from him.
"No, why would you think that?" She shrugged and tried to sound
"Ever since I started talking about going home, you've kinda been
on edge." He placed his hands
on her shoulders, his eyes drifting downward like a feather in
"Why do you think your home would be familiar to me?" she wanted
He moved a little closer to her. "Just a hunch." He suddenly crushed
her to him and kissed her.
Catherine managed to manuever her arms up and gently push him
"I think we better say goodnight," she told him.
He released her again without hesitation. "I don't understand.
I thought this was what you
wanted," he said, sounding a little dazed.
Catherine took a deep breath. She didn't understand either. She
didn't know why she was feeling
the way she was, because he really had done nothing out of the
ordinary. Certainly not anything to be
setting off all the alarms ringing in her ears. "I'm sorry. We
must have gotten our signals crossed. You
are moving just a little too quickly for me."
Legree stood looking at her. "You're a real mystery. Everything
about you and this whole
evening. Why did you agree to go out with me, Cathy? I thought
it was because you were interested. If
not in a relationship, than maybe a one night stand? I wouldn't
mind. Not with a beautiful woman like
yourself." He reached up and touched her cheek with his hand.
"You are so very beautiful and I love
beauty. I love to surround myself with it. I strive to possess
it. It's just a thing with me. I can't stand
ugliness. Ugly people...or things. Ever since I was a kid. I
just hated anything ugly."
Catherine knew he was referring to Vincent and her heart clenched
painfully inside her. "What
makes a person beautiful usually comes from within," she told
him quietly. "What makes someone ugly
comes from within as well."
He smiled disarmingly. "Nah, I'm talking about skin deep beauty.
What's on the surface. Usually I
find beautiful looking people are just as beautiful on the inside
too. And the ugly ones, well, I just don't
bother getting to know them."
Catherine was finally getting a dose of his reputed cruelty. She
was beginning to see the person
Father and Vincent knew all those years ago.
"Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder," she went on. "What is
true beauty? You judge a person
by contrived arbitrary standards."
He laughed. "Hold on. Don't go getting so defensive. I said you
were one of the beautiful ones
that I want to get to know better." He looked at her quizzically.
"Why do you defend ugliness? I can't
understand why anyone would do something like that." He took
a deep breath. "I used to know
this...boy. He was the most hideous thing I had ever seen. He
lived close to me. What I could never
understand was that everyone loved him. Everyone went out of
their way to defend him. I just depised
him. Looking at him always made my skin crawl." He seemed to
be studying Catherine closely for
some sign of reaction. Her face was like a stone statue but his
saw the the excessive moisture pooling in
her large green eyes. "His name was Vincent," he announced and
was rewarded when Catherine
flinched painfully and turned away from him.
"I think you should leave," she managed to say. It seemed to her,
Legree was undergoing a
metamorphosis, changing from the handsome and charming gentleman
to the cruel, heartless criminal of
the past. Catherine found herself wondering how she had ever
found him attractive and sweet.
"Wow," he gasped. "I must have hit a nerve. You act as if I insulted
your best friend! How could
that be? Do you know a Vincent, Catherine? Is he as ugly as the
guy I knew?"
Catherine knew he was being facetious now. "You need to leave,
Instead, he came up behind her and put his arms around her as
if to console her. "I'm sorry,
Cathy. It's just that I get crazy even thinking about him. If
it weren't for him, I'd still be home. He tried
to kill me once. But instead of getting rid of him, they got
rid of me. They all love him and he's nothing
but an animal really. Some hybrid freak of nature." He leaned
his head over her shoulder and whispered
in her ear, "But you know that, don't you? You know Vincent and
Father and the secret world below
this city and that's why you so desparately wanted to meet me
Catherine's eyes grew wide in astonishment. How could he have
possibly known all this? How
could he have connected her to the tunnels? She took a shaky
breath and nodded, resigned. At least
she could lay her cards on the table now. She didn't have to
pretend to be the sociable date anymore.
"Father wanted me to ask you why you want to come back," she began.
Legree smiled triumphantly. "It's my home. Mine. I would have
never left if it weren't for that
animal that lurks around down there."
Catherine fought to keep her voice level. "Father is worried about
you. He doesn't think things
would work out if you came back. You should just leave them alone."
Legree tightened his hold on Catherine. "Because of Vincent right?"
he hissed. "You know, I have
just as much right to live there as that creature. I was born
there. I was happy. Do you realize what it
was like for me to be forced to go? To know if I didn't, I would
be torn into shreds while they all stood
around and watched."
"You can't go back there," Catherine persisted and tried to wiggle
free of his arms.
"I had it all figured out," he continued. "A way to dispose of
Father and his pet in an accident.
Cave ins are unfortunately common down there. With them out of
the way, I'd be free to live my life in
peace and everlasting beauty."
Catherine finally managed to pull away from him. She turned to
look at him with undiguised
revulsion. "I didn't want to have to resort to this but, I found
evidence enough to reopen the Amelia
Moore case and I promise you, it will go to trial and you will
go to prison. I know why your victim
changed her testimony. Maybe...you ought to think about leaving
New York entirely." Catherine hoped
her lying this time was convincing.
Legree laughed humorlessly. "You little bitch," he seethed. He
turned and lifted his jacket from
her chair. "I'm leaving, don't worry your pretty little head
about this matter anymore. I can see now,
nothing has changed down there. I would still be second in line
to that...that mutant." He started walking
for the door. "So what's the story with you and dear Vincent?"
Catherine tried to keep her voice as steady and toneless as possible.
"He's a friend."
"A friend?" Legree smiled slyly. "Have you ever seen him? Or does
he just talk to you hidden in
the shadows or behind a wall like the phantom of the opera? You
know, I once told him, that no
sighted woman with any sense would let him within fifty feet
of her. I told him women would find him
even more repulsive than I did and the best he could ever hope
for by way of companionship was
maybe some greasy alley cat in heat."
Catherine's tears spilled from her eyes.
"Of course he'd just be your friend," Legree pressed on. "What
else could he be to you?"
Catherine bowed her head, determined not to let him see how upset
"Hey Catherine, when you decide you want a real man, give me a
With that, Catherine could contain herself no longer and leapt
toward him in a fit of rage.
"Vincent is real, and beautiful, and I would make love to him
a hundred times before I would
even consider someone like you! You are soulless and unconscionable
and so very ugly to me! Get out
of here now! Get out of my sight!"
Legree merely smiled slowly. "Sounds like quite the, ah, friendship..."
He stepped towards her.
"Could it be, that monstrosity found himself someone to love?
You must love him. How else could you
be so blind?" He laughed coldly. "I actually suspected as much.
How nice of you to confirm it for me."
With lightening speed he grabbed Catherine in a vice-like grip.
"Hey, I just thought of the most splendid
idea. A sweet final revenge on my part. Something that would
tear open that oversized heart of his until
he bleeds to death in agony." He suddenly started dragging her
to the bedroom. Catherine was almost
too stunned to react. She struggled but he was ten times stronger
than he looked and she couldn't seem
to get enough leverage to throw him off her.
"What...are you going to do?" she gasped, panic filtering through
"Sometimes," Legree explained calmly. "The most effective way
to hurt someone is to hurt the
one they love."
Vincent suddenly sat forward. Father was still talking to him,
but he didn't hear him anymore.
"Vincent? What is it?"
Pain. Fear. Desparation. A flood of frightening emotions surged
into his mind and gripped him
with astounding clarity.
"Catherine," he managed to convey. "Something is wrong." He was
already up and on his way
out when Father yelled his name again. Sensing a panic in his
father equal to the one he was sensing in
Catherine, he turned, confused.
"Hurry. Legree is with her tonight," Father confessed.
Vincent spun around and charged out of the chamber.
Legree managed to throw Catherine on the bed and back-handed her
across the face. She rolled
away from him, but he pinned her down with his body. He hit her
again and she drove her elbow
forcefully into his chest, knocking him back momentarily. He
swayed backwards in pain, swearing
furiously, and Catherine stretched towards her bedside table,
pulling open a drawer, uncovering her
Legree suddenly saw what she was after and grabbed at her wrist
just before she was able to
reach the gun. He planted his knee into her elbow and yanked
her arm viciously back. There was a
loud crack and sudden, overwhelming pain. Catherine screamed,
then felt faint. Legree seized the gun,
aiming it at Catherine's temple. He turned her over and sat on
"Don't scream anymore, Cathy," he said quietly. "It makes it sound
as if you're not enjoying this."
He leaned down and kissed her tear stained cheek softly. Catherine
tried to turn her face away.
She was dizzy with pain and fear, but lucid enough to try to
plead with him.
"If you do this...Vincent will kill you. He knows...what I feel.
Leave now...while there's still time."
"Oh I have lots of time. He won't be able to find me."
"You don't understand," Catherine continued hurriedly. She began
trembling as Legree
unbuttoned her blouse. "He's coming here. Right now. He knows.
He feels...whatever I feel."
"Interesting." Legree smiled, placating her, but not really believing
her, his hand reaching down to
stroke her exposed skin. "Do you think he'll enjoy this then?
I certainly don't want him deriving any
pleasure from our act of love. Maybe I should just kill you.
I know he wouldn't like that."
Catherine screamed, doubling her efforts to fend him off. He struck
her again and placed the tip
of the gun barrel at the base of her throat.
"This is the last warning, Cathy. No more screams." He cocked
Shattered glass fragments suddenly showered the bedroom from the
imploded balcony doors and
the sound of a blood curdling roar pierced the deepest recesses
of the night. Vincent lunged at Legree.
Shocked, Legree was momentarily paralyzed beyond reaction. Catherine
seized her opportunity
and pushed him off of her with enough force to knock him off
the bed. He thumped loudly to the floor.
The gun went off and time itself seemed to come to a halt. Legree
backed up against the wall and
struggled to his feet.
"Back off!" he seethed and turned his only salvation on Vincent.
Vincent froze but snarled
Catherine clutched at her arm, feeling like she was going to pass
out again. Vincent spared her a
fast look of concern. She tried to reassure him through their
bond, repeating over and over that she was
"Well, if it isn't Vincent," Legree spoke again, his voice cracking.
"She said something about you
stopping by, but I really didn't believe her."
"Legree," Vincent growled, his fangs flashing unspoken threats.
"Is there no limit to your evil?"
Legree smiled and took better aim with the gun in his hand. "That's
kinda like the pot calling the
kettle black, don't you think? You're as much a criminal as I
am. But at least I'll be a civilized killer. Just
a single gunshot between the eyes and down you go. I won't rip
you open and watch you bleed. I really
don't enjoy that kind of carnage the way you do. Besides, if
I killed you, I'd be a hero, not a murderer.
I'd be ridding the world of a monster that should have never
been allowed to reach his first birthday."
He paused and gestured at Catherine. "The headlines will all
say that I saved a beautiful lady from the
clutches of a beast."
Surprisingly Vincent seemed unphased by his cruelty. He merely
shook his head. "I hardly find
your words or threats disturbing anymore," he rumbled deeply.
"I only find you pathetic."
Legree's smile slipped. He lowered the pistol slowly and Vincent
took a step forward. But then,
Legree raised the gun at Catherine. "No, shooting you wouldn't
be enough for me. But if I shot her---"
"No!" Vincent hissed, stricken.
Catherine looked from Legree to Vincent. She took a deep breath
as Legree took aim.
"Bye Catherine. It could have been beautiful but it's all over
now and I'm tired of this game,"
Legree said calmly. "Vincent can kill me afterwards. I'll be
gone. But at least I'll die knowing he'll be left
with nothing." Legree cocked the pistol.
Catherine suddenly winced, and with a cry of pain, collapsed heavily
to the bed, fainting. The
distraction gave Vincent all the time he needed to act and he
lunged forward, striking out with honed
speed and accuracy and raking his claws down Legree's chest.
The pistol dropped on the bed and fully
coherent, Catherine grabbed it and fired. Legree slumped forward
without a sound.
Vincent froze, stunned. He stood over his enemy's lifeless form,
breathing deeply, his eyes
flashing wildly. Catherine began to cry. She dropped the gun
and fell back on the bed, covering her
face with her one good arm. Vincent turned to her and scooped
her up carefully in his arms, cradling
her against him.
"Catherine. Catherine. Catherine," Vincent breathed, stroking
her head as she sobbed into his
chest. In the distance the sound of sirens could be heard. Then
somebody was pounding on her front
door. Startled, she pulled back and wiped impatiently at her
"Someone must have called the police," she whispered. The sirens
were getting louder.
Vincent was alarmed but was too concerned for her to flee. "You're
hurt..." He gently began
stroking her bruised face with his fingertips.
Catherine nodded. "He broke my arm." The pounding on the door
became frantic. Muffled
voices were heard from beyond. "You have to get out of here!"
Vincent was trembling. "I can't leave you like this. Let me take
you with me."
"No!" she protested. "Someone has to answer for this. The police
are coming! You need to leave
now or they'll see you!"
Vincent tore himself from her, tears streaming down his face.
He disappeared through the
shattered remains of her balcony doors just as her front door
finally gave way.
Joe Maxwell came flying into the room. "My god! Cathy are you
"Joe?" She struggled to slide off the bed. "How did you know?"
He was looking around, taking in the destruction that once passed
for her bedroom. "I heard
your address being given over the police scanner," he said numbly.
"Gunshots fired." He suddenly spied
the body lying on her floor on the other side of the bed. He
took a deep steadying breath. Police came
flooding into the apartment. "Get forensics down here," Joe said
to no one in particular. He took
Catherine's hand and helped her up. "Christ, what happened to
"I'm a little dizzy," Catherine said somewhat dry mouthed. She
couldn't think. Her only concern
was whether or not Vincent had gotten away safely. "I need to
get out of here."
Joe took off his jacket and put it around her shoulders. He guided
her slowly into the living room.
"Come on, I'll take you to the hospital. We'll get your statement
Catherine eased herself carefully down the ladder and walked out
of the shaft of white light and
turned into the dimly lit tunnel entrance. It was nearly morning
and she was so tired and drained, she
thought her eyes were playing tricks on her. She paused her descent
and tried to make out the form half
hidden in the shadows just ahead of her. Someone was sitting
on the ground, their back to the craggy
tunnel wall. She stepped closer and smiled.
Her beloved slept there, his head resting on his folded arms which
encircled his knees. His long
gold hair spilling down, veiling his face. Bending down, Catherine
began stroking his head softly. He
stirred and sat up suddenly.
"Catherine!" He was on his feet in seconds and gathering her into
his arms. "Are you all right? I
waited here. It took all the strength I had not to go back up."
She covered his face with kisses, hugging him tightly, feeling
overwhelmed. "I love you! I love you
He rocked her slowly, soothingly. "Please...tell me you're all
right. I feel so many different things
within you. I can't make sense of it."
"I just need some time. Time to heal. Time to be with you. I need
your love around me right now.
I need you to hold me and never let me go."
Vincent sighed deeply. "Come." He took her hand in his and began
leading her down. He looked
sadly at her arm, tightly bound, and folded across her chest
in a sling. Her face was bruised and cut in
places and his heart twisted painfully inside him just looking
"I'm all right," she assured, sensing the distraught nature of
his gaze. "Everything is all right, really.
I had perfectly good explanations for what happened and although
I'll be subjected to an investigation, I
was assured it would come down to self defense. A date gone wrong."
Vincent sighed again and shook his head. "I wanted to be with
you. I knew how frightened you
"You were with me," she told him and tried to smile. "Feeling
you with me, gave me the courage I
needed." She looked deeply into his eyes, still so troubled and
"None of that mattered to me. I only needed to know you were safe."
Vincent raised her hand to his lips and kissed it. "I would have
stayed with you if that's what you
wanted. I would have faced them if you needed me too."
"I know," Catherine said. She squeezed his hand and smiled.
It was quiet in the tunnels now. Vincent wrapped a blanket around
Catherine's shoulders for her
since her arm was still in the sling. He settled into the chair
beside his desk and faced her on the bed.
"With all this extra time you have lately, I don't suppose you've
been writing anything?" he hinted.
Catherine had been given sick leave to recuperate, being next
to useless with her arm in a cast.
She had chosen to spend most of it below, letting Vincent pamper
and wait on her, knowing it made
him feel helpful. She smiled at him affectionately.
"As a matter of fact," she began. "I did start on another poem.
I have the first stanza down, but
now...." She gestured at her broken arm.
"Of course," he noted duly. "But I can always write the rest down
She laughed. "You want me to dictate to you? I couldn't, it's
too private." He raised his brow
with intrigue, which made her laugh harder. "No, I mean it's
about you. I can't have you writing it as I
try to compose it in my head. You're only supposed to see the
tenth and final draft."
He smiled easily and picked up a pen and a sheet of stationery
from the desk. "Ignore me. Just let
your words and feelings flow. Take your time to construct it
in your mind first. Then tell me."
It was clear to Catherine, he wasn't about to let this drop. She
took a deep breath and began to
relay the verse she had already written. As she began relaying
the words to him, he looked up from the
paper with a startled statement.
"....That's beautiful," he breathed and quickly wrote it down.
His heart began pounding madly
Catherine was enjoying his reaction. Her awkwardness dissolved
and she told him a second and
Finally, he looked up at her, his eyes misting with emotion and
love. "Is it finished?"
Catherine smiled. "No. It'll never be finished. It'll go on and
on." Then she had an idea. "We can
write it together. Everytime either one of us feels inspired
to do so. It's your turn now. You write a
He blinked up at her and sighed, then bent over the page with
the utmost concentration, scrawling
the fourth stanza on the paper after a few minutes. Then he handed
it to her. She began to read and he
closed his eyes, absorbing every word into his heart.
To have your soul within reach of mine
Bending back the grass of time.
Fields of passion with our love flower,
Having you near filling every hour.
His locks personify my sun.
An earthbound spirit allowed to run,
Flowing life into my veins.
Entrusting hands control my gains.
Whispered winds, my love's upswept
To look at him, my heart protects.
Mirrored morning in his eyes,
Breathing love to me, he sighs.
Her belief in me, she wonders
Who is the man, the beast, is under,
Feeling her love with mine entwined,
Slipping through worlds, our hearts combine.
Catherine took a deep breath and focused on Vincent. He looked
up at her, his sky blue eyes
shining, clearly reflecting the love he felt for her.
"Have I ever told you," Catherine began softly, "How beautiful
I think you are?"
Vincent took her small hand in his and simply smiled