Summary: Takes place between the scene where Catherine first
wakes and the scene where she
touches Vincent's hand.
Clink. Clink. Clink.
"None in all the world to love me, none to count the stars that
Then the moon came out above me...
And I saw that it was young.
I wished upon the moon
For something I never knew...
Clink. Clink. Clink. Clink.
I wished on the moon for you..."*
Catherine stirred. There it was again. Or had it ever stopped?
That tapping. And now, there was
music too. An old Billie Holiday tune, faint and scratchy sounding,
like the vinyl records her father used
to play before Catherine bought him a compact disc player two
She sighed, listening. There was someone in the room with her.
She wondered if it was the
doctor or his son. What did he say his name was? Vincent? She
could feel his presence and hear him
moving about quietly. He was humming softly, pleasantly.
"Vincent?" she called weakly.
In a moment's passing, he was beside her, leaning over her. She
knew this despite the fact that
she could not see him. She reached out and tried to touch him,
but couldn't and wondered fleetingly if
he was avoiding her hand. She dropped it with a heavy sigh.
"Ah, you're awake," he stated. "How do you feel? Can I get you
Catherine tried to moisten her lips with her tongue. She felt
feverish and weak. Her face ached
and she felt the tug of numerous stitches whenever she moved
her jaw. She shivered involuntarily partly
due to the chills she had and partly at the thought of what lay
beneath her bandages. Memories of her
assault surfaced and her trembling intensified.
"Are you cold, Catherine?" He didn't wait for an answer and began
pulling up the blankets,
straightening them and tucking them in around her.
"A little," she managed. Her eyes stung with unshed tears and
she frowned deeply. Her whole
body was stiff. She tried to shift to a more comfortable position
but that only caused her more pain.
Then she felt the light pressure of his hand on her chest, holding
"Lie still," he told her softly, but in a voice that insisted
She sighed, her lower lip trembling. She hadn't yet been able
to reconcile the fact that she was in
a stranger's home instead of a hospital; or the fact she was
forced to rely on this stranger for her every
"My mouth is dry," she began somewhat bitterly. "Can you get me
something to drink?" She
inwardly cursed her bandaged eyes and broken body. She hated
feeling so dependant and helpless,
even though Vincent had demonstrated repeatedly his will to care
for her with undaunted eagerness.
His kindness seemed limitless and Catherine felt a little ashamed
she was not feeling more grateful to
him. She was still too wary. Too frightened to feel anything
but the need to run and hide.
"I brought you some rose hips tea," he told her. "It will help."
Nothing will help, she thought despondently, but then wondered
if he had just told her it was
laced with something, some medication or sedative, that would
ease her pain.
"That'll be fine," she said flatly.
He moved away from her to fetch the tea and Catherine's heart
began pounding fitfully inside her.
The anxiety she was feeling suddenly escalated. It was hard for
her to surrender her trust in the way her
present situation required, but she also felt a desparate longing
to be able to trust somebody. Currently,
Vincent was her only option. It would have been easier for her
if she understood him. He seemed
honest and caring enough.....but he was also mysterious and dark
in a way Catherine couldn't pin
down. His presence was comforting, but also disquieting.
"Don't be troubled......Please," he said in a low, tentative voice.
"There's no need for you to be
afraid anymore. No one will hurt you here. I promise." The tone
of his deep voice grew in conviction
with his assurances.
Catherine relaxed some. She wanted to believe him. He made it
sound as if no one would dare
harm her as long as he was near. He would protect her and care
for her to all ends if need be. She
began wondering about her mysterious benefactor. She tried to
imagine what sort of face would
appropriately match that heavenly voice of his; it had the rare
quality of being smooth and raspy at the
same time. Whenever he spoke, it was always with authority and
assertion, but he never seemed to
speak much above a whisper. None of the images she had of him
seemed quite right.
The song that had been playing ended and for a moment, Catherine
could only hear that metallic
tapping. Then another song began, just as old and full of static
as the last one.
Clink. Clink. Clink.
"When I fall in love...
It will be forever...Or I'll never fall...in love..."**
Clink. Clink. Clink. Clink.
"Where's that music coming from?" Catherine asked just out of
"A jukebox," came a swift reply. "I thought it would give you
something to listen to." Then he
added hopefully: "Do you like it?"
"It's nice," she answered apathetically.
He sighed and Catherine tried to be a little more appreciative.
"I like it. I do. I'm just feeling pretty miserable right now."
He said nothing, but Catherine heard him pull a chair over to
the side of the bed. It creaked under
his weight as he sat down and she thought that he must be large
in stature. Tall and strong, but not
heavy. He moved about too quietly.
Suddenly, she felt his hand slip between her shoulders and the
pillows, urging her to lean forward.
"Easy," he breathed, as his hand supported her slight weight,
his long fingers splayed across the
span of her back. He placed another pillow behind her then, propping
her up in a sloping, sitting
He withdrew his hand and she settled back into the pillows with
a heavy sigh. She could hear him
pouring the tea and the familiar rattle of a china cup and saucer.
She raised her hands expectantly,
letting him know she would not require his assistance to drink
He sighed again, and Catherine wondered if it was in exasperation
or amusement at her subtle
declaration for some independance. Adhering to her wishes, he
placed the cup in her hands with a
gentle warning. "Be careful. It's hot."
"I like it that way," she said lightly and wrapped her fingers
securely around the delicate cup and
took a small sip. It was sweet and had an immediate soothing
effect on her nerves. She could feel the
warmth of it spread through her, enveloping her in a welcome
Vincent remained silent, watching her from his chair. The music
from the jukebox filled in the
silence, but Catherine was disappointed that he didn't talk to
her more. He was very quiet, almost to
the point of being shy. Perhaps he was, she thought. She was
just as much a stranger to him as he was
to her. She turned her head and offered him a small smile, the
best she could manage without pulling at
"You make good tea," she said hoping to encourage a bit of conversation.
"Thank you," he said, sounding pleased, his voice nothing more
than an expelled breath.
Catherine continued sipping her tea and waited, but he didn't
"Say something," she urged. "Anything."
She wondered if he was being humorous. If he was, it was the first
glimpse of humor she had
gotten out of him. It was hard to tell though, since she couldn't
see his face.
"Talk to me, I mean. Just until I fall asleep again. Tell me about
yourself," she began, trying a
different approach. "Tell me where we are."
"No," he answered gently. Then he added hesitantly, "I can't."
Catherine sighed. "But why? I don't understand. It frightens me."
He took a deep measured breath. "....I know."
Catherine's hands started shaking and she thought she better give
him the cup of tea before she
dropped it. He took it and got up from the chair.
"Why can't you tell me?" she muttered. She was feeling weak and
suddenly very drowsy. Maybe
there was something in the tea, she thought.
"Ssssh, don't worry," Vincent soothed. "Rest now."
His voice was more calming than anything that could have been
in the tea and Catherine settled
back into the pillows.
She listened to the song playing now and recognized it as one
of her father's favorites.
"This is a pretty song," she murmured. "You must like oldies."
"Oldies?" He sounded as if he had never heard of the term before.
"Yea. Old songs. From the 50's and 60's."
"Oh," he said. "I didn't realize. I suppose everything in that
jukebox is old. My personal
preference for music however, lies in compositions much older
than these. Brahms, Beethoven,
Catherine smiled slowly. "Classical? Really? That's what I listen
to." She was pleased he was
finally talking to her, even if it was just about music, but
also disappointed that she did not have the
energy to keep the conversation going now.
"I like its complexity," he explained, sounding happy himself
to have found something he could
talk to her about. "It's emotion. It can be powerful. It can
"Yes," Catherine sighed. "Beautiful. So beautiful."
Vincent took a deep breath. "Like love."
"Love," she echoed. He must be romantic, she thought before dozing
"I'm here, Catherine."
She turned her head in the direction of his voice. He must be
across the room from the sound of
it. She became vaguely aware that the bandages around her head
had been changed. They felt fresher,
drier. It must have been done while she slept.
"How long have I been sleeping?"
He was walking towards her now. "Quite awhile. But that's good.
Your body's healing."
"Oh," she sighed and shifted slightly. "I feel like I've been
strapped to a board for a week."
"You are badly bruised," he stated tonelessly.
Catherine swallowed hard. She had a sour taste in her mouth. All
this because of mistaken
identity. Someone had screwed up, and now she was left to pay
As if sensing her darkening mood, Vincent came and sat on the
edge of the bed.
"I know you're scared," he began. "You're confused. And angry.
It's only...normal...to feel such
things, after what happened to you."
Catherine couldn't remember ever feeling more terrified in all
her life as when the door to that van
slammed shut. She took a deep breath.
"I suppose I should be grateful. It could have been worse, right?
Is that what you were going to
He sighed heavily. "What you went through, was bad enough. The
helplessness you felt, will leave
you more scarred than your wounds. But within you is the ability
to heal those scars. Don't let those
feelings of helplessness drown you. Push yourself back to the
surface. It will be hard at first, but you
can do it."
Catherine turned her face away from him. He was right. She couldn't
let her fear keep her from
living her life day to day. She also knew she didn't want to
ever feel that helpless, should she ever be in
that kind of situation again.
"What makes you so wise?" she asked him in a barely audible voice.
She was surprised that he
actually had heard her and responded.
"Not so wise, as truthful," he told her. "It's much more difficult
to put bad experiences and
negative feelings behind you. They eclipse everything that's
good and positive in your life so effectively,
it seems as though they aren't even there anymore. But they are.
You only need to look beyond the
darkness to see the light."He began quoting or reading a poem
to her. She couldn't tell which.
I bade good morrow,
And thought to leave her away behind;
But cheerly, cheerly,
She loves me dearly;
She is so constant to me, and so kind:
I would deceive her,
And so leave her,
But ah! she is so constant and so kind." ***
Catherine listened and smiled to herself, wondering again at the
sort of man Vincent was. She
liked him, she decided, and thought when this incident was finally
behind her, if it ever could be truly
behind her, she would like to be his friend. He was so different
from every other man she had ever
known and she needed someone like him in her life. Someone stable
whom she could rely on and draw
strength from. Especially now.
"Vincent," she began, reaching out and touching his arm. "You're
very kind." She smiled at him,
but he rose slowly, sliding out from under her hand. Catherine
pulled the blankets up under her chin to
give her suddenly empty hand something to do. "Where are you
"You need to eat something," he was saying, his voice sounding
like his back was to her. "Do you
think you could manage some broth?"
"I am hungry," Catherine admitted. The last time she had eaten
had been at the party and that was
just an hors d'oeuvre. That might have been days ago. Hot broth
sounded good and would help warm
her up, she thought. Maybe it was because of her fever but there
was an ever present chill in the air and
she couldn't seem to get warm, despite the heavy quilts she had
covering her. The air seemed too damp
for the room to have central heating.
Catherine wondered if there was a fireplace somewhere. She could
just make out the sound of a
crackling fire, just beyond the foot of the bed. Then there was
the faint smell of smoke and burning oil
from a lit oil lamp.
She heard Vincent approaching and tried to sit up some. He helped
her, arranging the pillows
behind her to support her back.
"Better?" he inquired. Catherine nodded. She could smell the broth
even before he handed the
cup to her. It smelled delicious and she took a long, savoring
drink and licked her lips.
"How do you like it?" Vincent asked. He seated himself in the
chair alongside the bed.
"It's wonderful," Catherine told him. It certainly tasted better
than any of the canned broth she
was used to. "Did you make it?"
"No," he admitted. "I can't take credit for that. But I'll pass
your compliments on to the one who
did." He didn't elaborate on whom that might be. Catherine guessed
it must be the doctor since he was
apparently the only one around besides Vincent. She wondered
if it had medicine in it like the tea.
Almost as if on cue, Catherine heard the rattle of a plastic pill
bottle as the correct amount of pills
were shook out and then the snap of the lid being replaced.
"Your medication," Vincent explained. "Hold out your hand."
Catherine did and felt him drop two pills into her palm. She swallowed
them dutifully with a gulp
of broth. "What were those pills for?"
"They are an antiboitic," he replied. "To prevent infection."
Catherine smiled weakly. "You know, that was funny, I was just
thinking about medication and
wondering if there was any in this broth like there was in the
tea earlier. It was like you read my mind."
"There wasn't any medication in the tea," he informed her, ignoring
her comment on mind reading.
Catherine frowned. "But I got so sleepy--just after drinking it."
"You're injured and you have a fever. It's only natural for your
body to crave sleep."
"I feel like I've slept for a week already."
"You have. More or less," Vincent said softly. "But everyday you
get better. You just need time,
Catherine. When your fever breaks, you'll feel even stronger.
For now, you need to rest."
"Doctor's orders?" she questioned and finished off the last of
the broth in the mug. She held up
the empty cup, but Vincent didn't take it and she wondered if
he had left suddenly and listened for
"Yes," he answered after awhile. He was still in the room, but
away from the bed. He was
whispering faintly to someone, but Catherine couldn't understand
what they were talking about.
"Vincent?" Catherine said and held up the mug once more.
"Forgive me," he said and Catherine was promptly relieved of the
mug. "Would you like more?"
"No, I'm fine," she told him and snuggled deeply under the blankets.
"Who were you talking to?"
"My father. He wanted to know how you were doing."
"Why doesn't he talk to me?"
Vincent sighed. "He's very busy with other things and he trusts
me to look after you and take care
of you. If I need him, he's close by."
"Oh," she said quietly. She passed her hands over the cotton gown
she wore, grateful for its soft
thickness. She wondered just who's gown it was considering there
were no women here. Maybe, at
one time, there had been.
"Are you married, Vincent?"
He didn't answer at first, then simply said, "No."
"Were you married?"
Again, "No." Then: "Why do you ask?"
"The nightgown I'm wearing. I was wondering about it."
"Ah. It...belongs to a friend of mine," he explained. There was
a long period of silence before
either one spoke again.
"How is it, that someone like you hasn't been down the aisle yet?"
Catherine gently teased,
hoping to flatter him.
"How is it that someone like you hasn't?" he retorted, evading
her question. His tone was
unreadable, but Catherine knew he didn't sound flattered.
Catherine paused and took a deep breath. "I started to. But things
just didn't work out."
Vincent seemed to be considering her admission. "Didn't you love
"I thought I did," she said and swallowed uncomfortably. She added
bitterly, "Now I guess I
missed my chance."
"Why do you say that?"
Catherine could feel the sting of tears in her eyes suddenly.
"I have an idea of what happened to
me. You saw what they did. You shouldn't even have to ask that."
Catherine knew Tom Gunther
wasn't the sort of man to be seen with anyone he considered less
than perfect. She already knew that
relationship was over now, but the thought of that did not bother
her as much as it should have. She
knew things were strained between them even before all this.
Now she was certain he would send her
flowers and get well wishes, and move on to the next debutante
in line for his attention. "No, I don't
stand a chance now." Her voice cracked and she turned her face
away from Vincent.
He sighed heavily and sat down beside the bed. "Do you think yourself
somehow unworthy of
being loved because of the way you now appear in the eyes of
others?" Catherine didn't answer. "Has
the marring of such fair features also marred the fair person
beneath them?" He waited, then answered
for her. "No. I know it hasn't and you know it in your heart.
Any man worthy of such a heart as yours,
would easily see the beauty within it."
"Right," Catherine said at last. "Beauty is only skin deep."
"You haven't lost your true beauty, Catherine. They didn't take
that from you. But if you persist in
believing they have, then they have succeeded in taking your
spirit. Which is a much greater loss."
"Oh Vincent," Catherine whimpered. "How could you possibly understand?"
He leaned forward and placed his hand on her shoulder in a careful,
but firm grasp. "I don't read
minds Catherine, but I can read hearts and I understand much
more, than you realize." He rose
suddenly, brushing by the side of the bed and Catherine knew
he had left the room.
What was that supposed to mean, Catherine thought angrily and
shifted positions in the bed. She
didn't want to talk anymore anyway even though she knew he was
only being honest. But he didn't
know her; he didn't know who Cathy Chandler really was. Cathy,
the wealthy social butterfly, would
be wallowing in self pity right about now. But Catherine felt
ashamed of doing so. She didn't want
Vincent to think she was shallow and superficial. She knew she
never wanted to be seen that way again
She woke with a start, perspiration soaking throught the heavy
cotton gown she wore. The fear
felt in her tormenting dreams lingered as her mind struggled
to break through the thick murky haze of
deep sleep. For a moment she forgot where she was until she heard
the faint sound of tapping on metal
that seemed to be the musical accompaniment of her time spent
in this room.
She turned her head, straining to hear anything else. She wondered
how long she had been
sleeping. Her body felt so heavy and stiff, she thought perhaps
she had been in the same position the
"Vincent?" She waited. "Vincent, are you there?" There was no
answer and she realized she was
alone. Was he still angry with her? Wasn't he coming back? She
tried to sit up. Where was he?
"Vincent, please," she called again weakly.
She began to panic. Why would he just go off and leave her like
this? There was no way she
could take care of herself yet. He knew that. A terrifying thought
suddenly occured to her. What if
those men who attacked her had found out about this place? Maybe
they had discovered she was still
alive and came back to finish the job. What if something had
happened to Vincent? Maybe they
already killed him. They could be here, waiting, plotting. She
had to get out of here. Before she could
stop herself, a scream tore from her with such intensity her
whole body shook with raw emotion.
"Catherine!" Vincent's voice pierced through her screams. He swept
into the room and was at the
side of the bed in an instant.
Catherine felt a surge of relief upon hearing him, but burst into
tears, releasing a torrent of
emotions she could no longer keep inside her. It was painful
to cry, but she couldn't seem to stop for
pain's sake. She felt the bed move under Vincent's weight as
he sat on the edge beside her. She clawed
at the bandages covering her face, despising her forced blindness
and wanting to be rid of them. It was
with some surprise she felt Vincent's gloved hands encircle hers,
lowering them slowly to her lap.
"No Catherine...don't cry. Please don't cry," he soothed. "What
has frightened you so?" He
began to stroke the length of her arm in an effort to calm her
with his touch.
"I had a bad dream," Catherine struggled to explain. She fought
hard to keep from crying. The
pain was becoming unbearable. "Then when I woke up and I was
alone..." She shivered, unable to
voice her worse fear.
"I know, I'm sorry," he apologized with profound regret. "I was
out and my father was called
away. Neither one of us thought you would wake again so soon.
If he would have known, he would
have come to you in my absence."
"Wake so soon? I feel like I've been asleep for days."
"Only hours," he corrected. "But you slept deeply and your fever
has broke. That's a very good
Catherine took a deep pain wracked breath, releasing one last
ragged sob, then sniffed loudly.
She reached out for him, hoping to find his hand again and hold
on to it for an added measure of
comfort. When she found it, she was pleased that this time, he
did not pull away, but took her hand in a
secure grasp, lacing his long fingers through hers. Catherine
adjusted her grip; her fingers crushing the
ply of velvet. He is wearing velvet gloves, she thought. How
strange. But how wonderful to be holding
his hand finally. To connect with him in this small physical
way was both comforting and distracting for
her. Her fears had quickly faded because of the mere touch of
"Catherine," he began, his voice a whispered breath. He was leaning
over her, his face seemed
very close to her ear. "Do you trust me?"
Without having to take a moment to think about it, she nodded.
"Do you believe me?" he went on.
Again, she nodded.
Satisfied, he sat back. "No one will harm you here. There is no
cause to fear. You are safe."
Catherine swallowed hard. His ever tender voice was nonetheless
fierce with conviction. She
"I believe you."
Now he sighed, slowly, deeply. "Good." He gently pulled his hand
from her grasp and Catherine
reluctantly released him. He stood up.
"Are you leaving again?"
"No. I'll be right here with you, I promise."
Catherine could hear the rustle of his clothes, the muffled thud
of something heavy being placed
on a wooden table, and then the sound of liquid being poured
into a glass.
"Is she all right?" came an unexpected second voice that Catherine
recognized as the doctor,
Vincent's father. She hadn't realized he had come into the room.
"Yes," Vincent answered. "Her fever has broke."
"Here. Give her two now and two more in four hours."
"Thank you, Father."
Catherine knew she would soon be getting more medicine and within
seconds, Vincent was back
at her bedside, lifting her hand and placing a small glass into
"Take these," he instructed. Catherine obediently held out her
hand for the pills and swallowed
them with the water he had given her. Then he took the glass
and set it on the table.
She listened expectantly and was surprised to hear him yawn deeply.
He sat down in the chair by
the bed, turning it slightly for some reason, and sighed wearily.
He must be exhausted playing nursemaid
to me day and night, she thought. She waited for him to talk
to her and when he didn't, she wondered if
perhaps he had resigned himself to sleeping in the chair next
to her so she wouldn't be afraid.
Finally she told him, "I'm feeling better now. You don't have
to stay here if you don't want to."
He shifted, perhaps to face her. "Would you rather I go?"
"No," Catherine was quick to say. "But I don't want you to have
to just sit there..."
"I wasn't. I was reading."
"But I don't want you to be uncomfortable."
He laughed lightly. "I'm not. I'm very comfortable here. This
is my room."
Catherine hadn't even considered that. "This is your room? Your
bed?" She couldn't help feeling
like she was suddenly imposing on his hospitality and became
"Yes," he answered simply.
"Well, where are you sleeping then?"
He took a deep breath. "Catherine...there's no need for you to
worry about me."
Catherine shifted. "Why did you bring me here? Why didn't you
take me to the hospital when you
"It was easier for me to bring you here, to my father," he answered
truthfully. "I knew he could
"Easier?" Catherine didn't understand. Certainly it would have
been easier to just call an
ambulance and be done with it. Why would anyone go to such lengths
to take care of her personally?
Even if there was a doctor in the family. Of course, she said
to herself. They did know who she was
after all. She was constantly in the social pages of the paper.
Her father's firm was well known. They
had helped her because they expected something monetary in return.
A reward or compensation. Well,
it was the least she and her father could do. But the idea that
this was Vincent's motive for kindness just
didn't sit well with her.
She sighed heavily. "I want you to know, I am very grateful for
all you...and your father have
done for me. I can assure you, you will be...compensated for
There was a long moment of silence and everything was so still
in the room, Catherine wondered
if perhaps Vincent had gotten up and left. Finally he spoke and
she was startled to find he was still right
"There's no need for you to feel obligated," he rumbled. His voice
deeper and quieter. "I watch
you getting stronger everyday and know you are healing under
my care. That is compensation enough."
He paused, then continued softly. "You would have died, had I
not found you when I did. I have been
able to give you back what others have sought to destroy. I was
able to help. There is nothing material
that you or anyone could offer me that could compare with how
knowing that makes me feel."
Catherine was warmed and touched by his words. "Surely, there
is something I can do for you?"
She truly wanted to give him something now.
"Your conversation, your companionship, these past few days,"
he began somewhat falteringly.
"Your trust in me has meant more to me than you could know."
Catherine swallowed uncomfortably. His silky voice betrayed an
abiding loneliness and she
couldn't help but feel a little compassionate for him.
"Rest now," he said suddenly, effectively turning the conversation
in another direction. "Would
you like me to read to you?"
Catherine sighed and nodded slowly. "That would be nice."
There was a brief pause, then he rose, walked a short distance,
and came back to the bedside
chair and sat down again.
"What would you like me to read to you? You have three titles
to choose from. There's a rather
ponderous textbook on social psychology, a compilation of poetry
of Byron, Keats, and Shelley. And
Catherine smiled slightly. "Whatever you are reading."
"This is what I'm reading, presently," he explained.
"At the same time?" Catherine was intrigued.
"Yes, well, I teach...literature. I read a great deal."
"I could start something else, if you don't find any of those
books appealing," he offered.
"It's been a long time since I read Great Expectations. I wouldn't
mind hearing that."
"A good choice," he said with a smile and settled back comfortably
in his chair.
As he began to read, Catherine could feel herself being carried
away with the sound of his
exquisite voice. He read so beautifully and fluently, it was
as though each paragraph had been
memorized long ago and the words on the page only served as written
cues. A deep peace settled over
her that she had not felt in a long time. She knew as she drifted
off to sleep her dreams would be of a
different kind from now on.
This time, when Catherine woke, she was immediately aware of Vincent
standing next to the bed.
"You need to walk," he announced. "I'll help you."
Catherine smiled to herself. He certainly wasn't the type to beat
around the bush. She nodded
and struggled to raise herself up on her elbows.
"Where are we going?" she inquired, still a little groggy.
"Just around the room. Nothing too strenuous at first."
Catherine felt his gloved hand slip into hers, his other hand
moving behind her shoulders, urging
her to sit up.
"Careful..." he advised.
Catherine tightened her grip on his hand and forced aching and
protesting muscles to move. He
shifted positions, moving to her right side. He took her hand
and placed it around his waist on his lower
"Take hold of my belt," he went on. "Pull yourself up with it.
I'll steady you."
Catherine's heart began beating wildly inside her and she knew
it wasn't just from the exhertion.
She carefully worked her fingers around the thick belt and tried
not to think too much about where her
hand was. He put his left hand between her shoulder blades and
grasped her free hand with his right.
"Whenever you are ready."
Catherine pulled herself up as he advised, using him as leverage.
She pulled so hard she was
afraid she might topple him over, but he remained solidly rooted
to the spot where he stood. All her
weight against him did not seem to effect him at all.
"Good," he told her and straightened to his full height.
Catherine felt momentarily dizzy and still quite weak, but determined
to walk now that she was
"All right. I'm ready," she said, trying not to rely on him too
much. She took a bold step forward
and sunk towards the floor. Her legs did not support her. Vincent's
secure hold on her was the only
thing that kept her from falling completely. She fought to get
her legs back under her and paused,
waiting until they stopped shaking before stepping out again.
"You can lean on me," he offered. "I can support you. I won't
let you fall."
Hesitantly, Catherine wrapped her arm around his slender waist,
shifting her weight into his side.
She had been right all along, she mused. He was tall and strong.
Just like she had imagined. His body
felt like a wall of muscle against her own and the heat emanating
from him made her want to draw into
him even closer.
"Just take your time," Vincent said, putting Catherine's mind
back on the task at hand.
"Okay," she said, resolved. "I can do this."
"I know you can," he responded. He squeezed her hand gently. She
Slowly, Catherine shuffled forward, her steps growing more sure
as they progressed around the
"Easy," Vincent said slowly, drawing the word out from deep inside
It felt good to be walking, Catherine thought. Once she was balanced,
she loosened her hold on
his waist and tried to rely on him only to guide her.
"Wait," he said and stopped her abruptly. Catherine thought perhaps
they had reached the bed
again, but she felt him move sideways into her a little and then
heard something on the floor sliding away
from her. He must have moved it with his leg, because he still
held onto her with his hands.
"What was that?" she asked for curiosity's sake. They started
walking once more.
"A steamer trunk," he informed casually. "The corner was out too
far. You might have bumped
into it on your present course, so I moved it."
"You moved a steamer trunk with your foot?" Catherine said incredulously.
It didn't sound to her
as though he had particularly exherted himself.
He laughed gently. Catherine could feel it more than hear it.
It made her smile.
It was strangely comforting to be close to him like this. To lean
on him and feel his strong arms
securely around her, supporting her every step. She wondered
why she felt that way. Why she wasn't
more leary of him. There was still so much about him she did
not know, that he would not tell her. So
much more to learn, she thought, even though little by little,
he was opening up to her. Confiding in her
as she confided in him. She would just have to wait to see how
this story ended, because no matter
how hard she tried she couldn't imagine an ending. All she knew
was because of her time spent here
with him, her life was never going to be the same again.
She took a deep breath and stopped walking. She felt tired, but
pleased with her progress in
more ways than one.
"Are we still in the same room?"
"Mmm hmm," he responded as if roused from some deep thought process.
"We're half way
around it." He paused, then said, "We can rest here, if you feel
the need to."
She turned her head. "I am tired. I'm still feeling a little shaky."
"It's understandable. Don't be disheartened though. You're getting
stronger. I can feel it." He
sighed softly. "Before you realize, you'll be ready to go back
"Home," she echoed tonelessly. She was surprised she hadn't given
more thought to 'home' since
she had been here. She wondered if her father even noticed she
hadn't been around lately. They rarely
ever saw much of each other despite working in the same firm.
She thought about Tom. He'd probably
assumed she was off sulking somewhere. She would most likely
be in for a stern lecture about
responsibility from both of them. She sighed heavily.
"What troubles you so?" Vincent asked quietly, not wanting to
Catherine swallowed hard. "My life. Or rather my lack of life.
There's no point to anything I do.
Or who I am. It's completely meaningless. And motivated by all
the wrong reasons."
Vincent took a long measured breath. "What are you going to do
"I'm going to change it. I want to be more like you. I want to
do things because they are the right
thing to do. Not because this corporation has more money to hire
out than that one. I want to help
people out of compassion, not duty. Be strong for them. Encourage
them to better themselves." She
paused and inhaled sharply. "When I think of all the time and
money that was invested into making
Catherine Chandler who she was, I want to be sick. If you really
knew who I was before, you would
have probably left me right where you found me. You would have
just stepped over me and thought,
'No great loss there.' "
Vincent released her suddenly. "Catherine," he seemed to growl
her name. "How could you think
"A lot of people would think them as well, Vincent. It's true.
That's the type of person I am.
Weak, superficial, and pointless."
"That's not the Catherine I've come to know," he gently admonished.
"Look into your heart. Find
the woman you really are. The woman you can be. You have the
conviction. You have the courage.
Just follow your heart. It will lead you to where you are."
Catherine's bottom lip trembled. Tears stung her eyes. She drew
in a ragged breath and began to
cry. She stepped forward and wrapped both arms around Vincent,
burying her face against his chest.
Slowly, tentatively, he folded his arms around her and began
rocking her gently, murmuring soothing
words in her ear.
"Oh Vincent...I don't know what I would have done these past few
days without you," she
sniffed. "You've been more than a friend. Thank you. Thank you
She rubbed her hands over his back and felt him tremble slightly.
He stepped back from her and
took her small hand in his.
"Come. It's not much further. You need to rest."
They finished their walk in silence and Catherine was grateful
when they reached the bed. She felt
drained. Vincent pulled the blankets over her and carefully seated
himself beside her.
"Are you hungry?" he asked after awhile. "I could bring you some
soup. Then, afterwards, I
could read to you again, if you would like."
Catherine nodded. She felt his hand rest lightly on her arm.
"Good. I'll be right back." He rose from the bed.
Catherine moistened her lips. "I've never known anyone like you.
I've never had anybody believe
in me the way you do."
He didn't reply. He simply stood motionless at the side of the
bed for a minute or two, then
turned and walked quietly out of the room.
*Lyrics from "I Wished On the Moon" written by Parker, Rainger
**Lyrics from "When I Fall In Love" written by Young, Heymen
***Excerpt from "Endymion Book IV" written by John Keats