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Classic Round Robin

Chapter 7

by Amber

 

 

Vincent was stunned into silence. After she was nearly killed by the stalker who had obsessively watched her every move, Catherine had told him of Jenny’s dreams. He had regretted that Catherine hadn’t taken Jenny’s dreams into more careful consideration, and vowed never to take them for granted again. He would speak with Jenny himself if it meant keeping Catherine safe.

 

In this recent dream, Jenny had begun dating a man who seemed to push her closer to Catherine’s secret. She knew that Catherine had a much more private life than she did before her attack, and was respectful of that. She was still sure to make Catherine aware of her loving support, should she ever need anyone to talk to. As always, Jenny was thanked and reassured by her friend, and that was that. What Jenny found particularly odd in her dream, was Catherine’s journey inside a drainage tunnel. Catherine had seemed a little intrigued and enigmatic when listening as she related that part of the tale. What also concerned Jenny was Catherine’s reaction to her questioning. When Catherine heard the scenario, in reality, she seemed wounded by the reaction Jenny dreamed she would have. Did she always seem so tense and guarded? Catherine apologized in case she had ever given that impression. Jenny was quick to reassure her, and relieved that this dream hadn’t seemed to disturb Catherine in the way that she had feared. The real concern was John.

 

Jenny had met John last week in her office. She was scheduled to meet him again earlier in the week, but he had canceled the appointment. It was truly disturbing to her when she found out that he had been arrested for murder in Catherine’s building. After her dream, Jenny had a strong suspicion that this man had intended to use her to try and get to Catherine. She didn’t know much about Catherine’s private life or what the man might want, and she didn’t pry. Voicing her concern was all she did.

 

That’s when Vincent had met her at Henry and Lin’s entrance. After Jenny’s dream, Catherine had felt uneasy about the park entrance, and wasn’t about to try her basement again so soon. It was all too frightening. Vincent had no idea who John MacRonald might be, or why he would want to threaten Catherine or the tunnels. He was glad he was behind bars, but something had to be done. They couldn’t just walk away from it.

 

“Catherine, you must be careful. Promise me.”

 

She held him tight. “Always. I promise I’ll always come back to you.”

 

“I’ll make sure there is a careful watch around the park entrance and in your basement.”

 

Catherine nodded with a melancholic look. “When will it stop, Vincent? Why must something so pure and good and true as what we share be threatened by so many?”

 

“Because it threatens so many. It threatens their cynical hopelessness. It proves them wrong. Anything innocent and beautiful, threatens to illuminate the shadows they dwell in.”

 

Catherine gazed up at him with love shining through her eyes. “It only makes it burn brighter and stronger.”

 

A tender, loving smile graced his face. “Yes.” Wrapping his arm around her, they walked for a long while to relieve some of their worries.

 

***

 

Devin, Rebecca, Olivia, and Pascal all filed into Father’s chamber. Together, they decided they would plead Catherine’s case. From what Devin, Rebecca, and Olivia had found out, they all thought Nancy would be a wonderful person to introduce to their world. When Father saw the parade marching in, he was instantly intrigued.

 

“What’s all this about? Has something happened?”

 

“No, but we’re hoping something will,” said Rebecca.

 

“Oh? What might that be?” he asked, increasingly amused.

 

“Well, we were all in Vincent’s chamber the other night telling stories about when we were children.” Olivia began.

 

“Catherine dropped by and was able to listen in.” Pascal added.

 

Rebecca quickly chimed in. “She was saying how wonderful it must have been to grow up that way, and Olivia suggested she should bring a friend to tell us stories about her childhood.”

 

“I didn’t think before I suggested it, and she looked so sad. I didn’t mean to upset her.” Olivia explained.

 

“After all that Chandler has done for the community and for Vincent, we thought it would be nice to give her a little gift back. It might help a lot if she was able to share all this with a close friend, someone she trusted.” Devin continued.

 

Pascal spoke up again. “We knew there were rules we had to follow. From what we’ve been able to find out, Catherine’s friend, Nancy, seems to be very trustworthy. We knew we would need your approval before we could invite her Below.”

 

“It would be a wonderful surprise for both Catherine and Vincent!” Rebecca exclaimed with enthusiasm.

 

Her enthusiasm fueled Olivia’s. “We love Catherine, and she knows we’re here for her, but it would be so much better if she had someone in her world that she was close with to share all this. It’s an overwhelming secret!”

 

“A very significant part of her life is here,” Devin said as he gave Father a very deep, meaningful look.

 

“Nancy lives all the way in Connecticut. She couldn’t be that much of a threat to us. It would be much easier for her to keep our secret.” Rebecca suggested.

 

Father sat in his chair, bewildered by what had been presented to him. Part of him was boiling with reprimands while another part of him knew they had a valid argument. How could he be surprised? Vincent and Catherine were well loved members of the community, and Catherine was their inspiration, as well as a lawyer. Of course they would be convincing. As he looked around the circle of faces, he saw the small children he had watched grow and blossom over the years. A wonderful sense of pride washed over him as he smiled.

 

“Still plotting and scheming I see. You all will be making all of the decisions for our community without me someday. I trust your judgment.”

 

The all looked at each other as their jaws dropped. A second later they were all crowding around him in a group hug. Father laughed and swatted them away.

 

“Off you go now. You have a very special surprise to deliver.”

 

The group left the chamber and moved into action. Rebecca and Devin were going to drive up to Westport and explain everything to Nancy. Hopefully, they could bring her back with them. Olivia and Pascal set out to arrange another evening of storytelling with Vincent and Catherine.

 

***

 

The next day, Vincent felt Catherine nearing the tunnels. He could feel her anxiousness through the bond as he went to meet her. Catherine fell into his arms as soon as he came into view.

 

“I’m so glad to see you!”

 

“What is it, Catherine? Did you find out anything?”

 

“I went to see John today. He told me everything. It turns out that he escaped from the same hospital that Stephen was in. Steven sent him after me. He even told John to go through Jenny to avoid suspicion. John had been watching me. I don’t know how, but he noticed me going to the basement a lot. He decided to snoop around, and that’s when Mr. Hastings found him looking in one of his boxes. When he spoke up, he startled John, so John shot him. He confessed to the police that I had an awful secret that he was trying to find out. The police took him back to the hospital and placed both John and Stephen under high security.”

 

Vincent held her close as she took a deep breath to calm herself. “It’s all right now. You’re safe. I’m here.”

 

Catherine looked up at him with gratitude and love. “I know. I don’t know what I would do without you.” She sank back into his embrace. “I love you.”

 

Vincent froze for a split second before he smiled pressing a gentle kiss to her hair. He had felt her love for him through the bond, but to hear her say the words was even more amazing to him. He loved this woman more than life itself. In that moment, he knew he would do absolutely anything for her, even if it meant walking down 5th Avenue in broad daylight. “I love you, too.”

 

A smile spread across her face and she held him tighter. She knew she had to be the luckiest woman in the world. After a while she pulled back to look at him.

 

“Do you mind if I stay here with you? I don’t want to leave. I have no other plans and I love being here with you.”

 

“Catherine, you know you never have to ask to spend time here. You especially don’t have to ask to spend time with me. I love having you here. We all do.”

 

“You don’t know how much that means to me. I can’t wait for tomorrow night. I love learning about your life.”

 

“I hope we’ll be hearing some stories about you. I love learning about you, too.”

 

Catherine laughed. “It might be a good thing that I don’t have Jenny or Nancy here. They could get me into some real trouble!”

 

Vincent gave her a sympathetic smile. He wished so much for a way to merge their worlds together. He hated what their secret cost her.

 

Catherine sensed his shift in emotions and decided to try and focus on something else.

 

“Where is Devin?”

 

“He and Rebecca went Above. I’m not sure what they were up to.”

 

“They seem pretty close, don’t you think?” she said with a wink.

 

Vincent laughed. “They were very close when we were younger. When Devin left, Rebecca was heartbroken.”

“She seems happy to have him back. I hope he stays for a while. Do you think he will?”

 

“I don’t think he’ll stay for very long. Perhaps...” he trailed off.

 

“You’re afraid the longer he stays, the more attached Rebecca might get to him, only to be hurt again when he leaves.”

 

Vincent nodded sadly. “He doesn’t mean to hurt her. It’s just who he is.”

 

“I wouldn’t worry, Vincent. If they do get closer, I’ve seen more complicated relationships work out.”

 

Vincent gazed at her encouraging smile and knew exactly what she was talking about. Their relationship seemed extremely complicated, yet the truth of their love was so simple. He gave her a sweet smile in return. “You’re right, Catherine. I’m sorry I seem to be so hopeless at times.”

 

Catherine pressed a finger to his lips. “Shh. That wasn’t meant to be an invitation for apologies. You have nothing to be sorry for.”

 

Before he could say anything else, Catherine placed a sweet, loving kiss to his lips. Vincent looked at her, a little surprised and spellbound. She only smiled and took his hand to lead him on a walk with her.

 

***

 

Rebecca looked out the window curiously as she took everything in. Devin looked over at her and smiled. “Have you ever been out of the city?”

 

“No.”

 

Devin looked at her a little surprised. “Seriously? Oh, Becky, there are so many places I’d love to show you. The city and the tunnels are nice, but there’s so much out there to see!”

 

“I wish I could have seen it with you.” she said in a quiet voice.

 

Devin’s wondrous smile faded. “You and Vincent were the hardest for me to leave. I missed you.”

 

A few silent tears started to fall down her cheeks. “We had no idea what had happened to you. I thought …”

 

Devin reached over to take her hand. “I’m sorry. Rebecca, I am so sorry. I shouldn’t have left the way I did.”

 

She gently took her hand away. “How are you going to leave us this time?”

 

Devin winced a bit and pulled back. They were silent until they pulled up into Nancy’s driveway. Devin took her arm to stop her from leaving the car. “I’m sorry I hurt you. I know I’ve been inconsiderate in the past. I …”

 

“You’re being inconsiderate now. Why couldn’t you just leave it alone? Why did you have to make me fall for you when I know I’m going to lose you again?”

 

Devin framed her face and pressed a loving kiss to her lips. He rested his forehead to hers. His voice was quiet and strained. “We’ll find a way…if it’s what you want. Right now we have to do this for Vincent and Catherine. Then, I promise I’ll find a way to make it up to you.”

 

Rebecca gazed at him, a bit apprehensive as she put a hand to his cheek. “Don’t make me any promises, Dev.” Quickly, she opened her door. “Come on. Let’s go meet Nancy.”

 

Devin took a moment to compose himself and met her at the front door. When they knocked, a woman greeted them with a warm smile and a small girl on her hip.

 

“Can I help you?” she asked.

 

Rebecca smiled brightly, just knowing they had made the right choice. “Hi! I’m Rebecca and this is Devin. We’re friends of Catherine.”

 

Nancy looked at them surprised. “Catherine? Catherine Chandler?”

 

Devin nodded. “Yes. We’re hoping you might be able to help us with a surprise for her. Do you have the time?”

 

Nancy motioned for them to come in. “Sure. Anything for Cathy. Come on in.”
 

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