Chapter 9


Only two days? Gosh! How could I forget? she thought. Catherine felt guilty and anxious, guilty because her curiosity about her friends' mystery had made her forget what was truly important: Vincent’s gift! And anxious because there was little time before Winterfest and she had nothing.

But Catherine Chandler was a fighter and she was going to begin her search for it, that same moment. It had to be something really special, as special as the man who was to have it, the man who had filled her life with a kind of happiness she had never imagined. Something really special, but… what? The ring of the telephone brought her back to earth.

"Radcliffe?" It was, of course, Joe’s voice.

"Yes, Joe?"

"I'm sorry, but I need you here tomorrow at 7 o’clock, and come ready to work all weekend."

"What?!! You're kidding! Forget it!"

"I would really prefer that this was a joke but the truth is Internal Affairs has made a big mess here. It turned out to be a false alarm, but they came and mixed up all the archives and now we have to organize them again and make sure everything is here."


"Cathy, I don’t have to tell you how important this information is, and you don’t expect me to do it alone, do you?"

Catherine felt her eyes fill with tears. Things couldn’t be worse: she didn’t have a gift for Vincent, it was only two days before Winterfest, and she had to spend said days working with Joe organizing files! How could she manage it?

"Radcliffe, I'm waiting…"

"I'll be there at 7!" she snapped.

"Well… thank you!" he said sarcastically.

"Don’t say anything more or you can consider tomorrow the first day of my two weeks notice!" she said sharply without any humor in her voice, and hung up.

It was always the same. That was the worst problem of their separate lives, a life that didn’t consider their need for time together. Others' needs sometimes made their own needs secondary and sometimes that was unbearable!

A knock on the door exasperated her further. Now what?! She opened the door, "Jenny!", and began apologizing. "Oh no! You must have been waiting for hours! I completely forgot our dinner appointment! Oh, Jenny! I'm sorry!" Catherine suddenly began to cry in Jenny’s arms. She felt half guilty and half worried.

"Ok, hon, it's not the end of the world. I appreciate your concern, but don't you think you're going a little overboard? What's really bothering you?"

"Oh, Jen! Everything's going wrong lately!" In some minutes Catherine told Jenny her troubles without betraying her "mysterious knight", as Jenny once called Vincent.

"Well, if I understand, you have little time to be together, you have that important day coming up and you don’t have time to look for a gift for him because you have to waste your time organizing files for Joe, is that right?"

"I couldn’t summarize it better."

"First things first, what is your first need? Apart from sex, of course," she quipped.

"A life together."

"But does he want it too, Cath? Are you sure? Sometimes all this mystery makes me wonder if he doesn’t want to give up anything in his life for you."

"He wants it as much as I do, Jenny… but it's so complicated."

"Then Cath, the best gift could be simpler than you think."

"What are you talking about?"

"Unless you could hurt someone with your decision, and you've told me that your "mysterious knight" isn’t married, the best gift might be to take the first step in simplifying the complicated."

"But how?"

"Maybe trusting more in those who love you."

"I don’t understand…"

"Are you sure?"

She began to think about that... trusting more in those who love me? She trusted Jenny and to a certain degree Joe, but what about Vincent… and the people in the tunnels? She understood the fear - she had experienced it herself when she went down to the tunnels with Vincent for the first time after the accident. She had felt the cold gaze of Father, and the distant respect of the others, but day by day her love for Vincent won them over, and their own love for Vincent made them open their hearts to her, and now she had to accept that she considered the tunnels and their people as her home too. Her love for Vincent and their love for him… sure! One of the principal barriers for Vincent and her were his feelings that he wasn't an acceptable partner for Catherine. If he could see that other important people in her life could accept him, as Peter did… Of course the world Above could never be a choice for him but this could make it all easier for them! It was a great risk - she didn’t know what Vincent’s reaction to this would be, but after all this time together, somebody, as Jenny suggested, had to move toward love.

"Earth to Cathy, Earth to Cathy! Cath, do you hear me?"

"Jenny, you're a genius! Just a sec, I have to call Joe."


"Yes, Joe!" she said, running to the phone.

"I don't get it. Why Joe?"

"I have to tell you something, if you can accept just what I can tell you and not ask for more. I need you to write two 'Promise letters'."

"'Promise Letters'?"

"Yes. Two 'Promise Letters' to my 'mystery man'."

"Great! Now I understand even less!"

"I have to show him that our close worlds could be closer than how he sees them."

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