Pennies by Linda Mooney. Graphic shows a candle sending up a long-stemmed rose made of smoke



Catherine smiled as his fingers gently kneaded her back and shoulders. The large hands expertly worked on the knots in the muscles, melting them like they were pliable bread dough beneath his ministrations. She moaned softly and dropped her head to give him better access to the back of her neck.

"I could spend hundreds of dollars with a professional masseuse, and I still wouldn't feel this good. I don't know how you do it, Vincent, but keep doing it."

She heard him snort softly in response, but his attention remained focused on helping to ease the pain and aches caused by stress. She could feel herself succumbing. From the moment she entered the tunnels, she could sense the day's migraine begin to lessen. Vincent had given one glance at her pale face, and immediately ordered her to sit on the edge of the bed as he rose up from his desk.

"Have you given any further thought as to my suggestion?"

"I admit, another week like the one I've just had, and I'll take you up on it." She gave a satisfied groan as he worked out another knot. "Retirement is looking better and better."

"There are days, Catherine, when I believe you'll never retire. Your last breath will be delivering your summarization to the jury."

She chuckled and started to retort when they heard footsteps approaching the bedroom entrance. The furred hands paused momentarily.

"Uhh, sorry. I'll come back later." It was Marie. She had noticed the entrance had not been covered with a blanket, a signal that the couple inside wanted privacy.

"It's all right," Vincent assured the young woman. "What did you need to tell us?"

"Martha says the first load is ready. The guests have arrived and are waiting in the Great Hall."

"Thank you. I'll be there momentarily."

Catherine saw the teenager nod. Marie also gave her a brief smile and a little wave. "Hi, Catherine."

"Hi, Marie."

The young woman hurried off to relay the message before Catherine could say anything further, so she turned to the person sitting behind her. "First load?"

His pause before replying spoke volumes. She could even feel a shift in the way his hands stroked her back. Sighing, she sat up straight and turned around to face him. The warm hands dropped to his lap.

"Okay. What's up?" she asked with a hint of a smile. "What guests? What have you been working on that I didn't know about?" Giving him a playful scowl, she added, "I know it's not my birthday or our anniversary, or anyone's birthday or anniversary, for that matter."

Cobalt blue eyes stared at her. She could almost see a million things filtering through his mind within the intense gaze. What had started out as light bantering suddenly shifted into a more serious tone. When he finally answered her, she knew he wouldn't lie to her, but it didn't mean he wouldn't hedge on the truth, either.

"I'm helping to take a load of goods to the surface," he said without elaboration. That lack of explanation was also telling. He was hiding something from her.

"Why?"

"Because there is need for strong, able-bodied people to help carry it."

"That's not what I meant, and you know it. What's included in these goods? Why does it have to go topside?"

Vincent shook his head, got to his feet, and walked back over to the desk. Instead of sitting down, however, he leaned against the edge of the furniture. "It's nothing to trouble yourself with, Catherine."

Ah. Vincent-speak for I'd rather you not know.

If she forced the issue, she knew he could become as bull-headed as she was known to become. However, with a little sugar, chances were he'd let down his guard and let her in on the secret.

"Bull hockey. If it affects the tunnels, it affects you. And if it affects you, it affects me." She punctuated her comment with a smile, knowing he would understand how serious she was. "You know that if there's any way I can help..."

Sighing loudly, he shook his mane of wild hair. A partial return smile lifted one corner of his mouth, enough to reveal a long, shiny canine tooth. Walking back over to the bed, he parked himself back on the edge of the mattress. There was pause, then he said, "To be brief, I'm needed to go topside. To be blunt, because you won't accept anything other than the truth, times are extremely difficult for us right now."

His tone of concern went straight to her heart. "What do you mean?" Immediately, she wracked her brain for anything she didn't notice, or dismissed as irrelevant. Vincent saw her pondering, and lifted her chin to regain her attention.

"Catherine, the economy up top is bad. You know this as well as I do. Which means donations from our helpers have dwindled considerably. In some cases, they have totally dried up."

Catherine frowned. His face was etched with worry. "Vincent, are you telling me the tunnels are running low on food?"

He gave a slight nod. "Food, medicine, as well as other essentials we can not reproduce on our own."

"Has this happened before?"

He nodded, the candle light throwing golden gleams off of his long mane. "Father told me it was quite frequent in the early days, back when they were first learning to cope. Fortunately, we haven't had to take such extreme steps for many years."

"Until recently," Catherine finished for him. "So what are you doing?" The answer hit her, and she glanced back at the entrance to the room. "This has to do with you going to the surface, doesn't it?"

"Each of us donated one item we felt would sell. With the monies, we hope to be able to buy enough food and medicine until the donations from our helpers resume."

"By selling what kind of donated items?"

"Anything we felt would be welcome above." He tilted his head. "We've also contacted some past tunnel dwellers, who've agreed to aide us."

Catherine looked around the bedroom, comparing its contents with what she remembered seeing in the past. Vincent answer her before she could ask.

"I donated an old gold pocket watch Mouse gave me one Christmas. It's never worked, but hopefully it has enough gold content to make it worth a few dollars."

"Vincent, if it's money you need—"

"No." He got to his feet and strode toward the doorway. Both the word and his sudden change in demeanor told her the offer was firmly rejected, and no more would be said about it.

"Vincent!"

The man disappeared into the tunnels. Grabbing her coat, Catherine hurried after him.

"Vincent."

"No, Catherine. We cannot take advantage of your offer." His face was stony.

"I'm not offering. I'm donating. There's a difference."

"There is no difference."

"I want to help!"

He stopped abruptly. Catherine nearly tripped following him.

"I suspected you would make such a generous offer, but you have to understand. We don't want to feel obligated to you."

"You won't be."

"The others won't see it that way. If you want to help, fine. We'll happily take whatever you want to place in the pile. But you cannot give us money. What we earn has to be through our own means, with our own hands. That's the way it has been ever since Father took charge down here years ago, and it must remain that way."

More than eleven years had passed since Father's death, and she could still hear the heavy sorrow in Vincent's voice whenever he spoke of the man.

They stood staring at each other, as if daring the other to make the first move. To either back down or relent. After a few silent moments, Vincent reached up to cup her cheek as he gently smiled. "A small capitulation. If it gets to the point where we can no longer sustain ourselves, and we are facing immanent starvation, I promise to accept any aide you wish to give, be it monetary or otherwise. Will that suffice?"

She nodded. His word was trust-worthy. If the situation in the tunnels grew to the point where the people could no longer fend for themselves, he would allow her to help in any way possible.

He kissed her, a soft, loving pressure of the mouth, but with the hint of more once this mission was over. The canines dragged across the soft skin of her lips, sending shivers through her. When he drew back, she tugged on his woolen vest.

"Let me be a part of this. Please. Stop hiding things from me."

Taking her hand, he led her down the tunnel, toward the Great Hall.

The doors were already open when they arrived. Beyond them, Catherine could see people milling about. Although it wasn't Winterfest, a sense of joyous celebration electrified the air. Whenever old and new tunnel folk collected, it was always like an impromptu party.

She greeted everyone with hugs and a few kisses on the cheek as Vincent kept a firm grip on her hand, leading her to the rear of the immense room. There, several tables had been set up. Sitting on the floor in front of them were several cardboard boxes. The tables and boxes were filled with donated goods.

Vincent paused in front of the central table, and turned to face the crowd. Silence descended, until all that could be heard was the distant howling wind in the outer corridors. Catherine stood beside him and scanned the sea of faces for familiar ones.

"Thank you for coming. Thank you for your generous donations." His hand swept over the items behind him. "It is at times like this that we discover who our friends are. Who still considers us family. And, more importantly, who desires to see this community continue as a thriving refuge from the world above. With luck, our attempts will be rewarded, and we will be able to obtain those things which we need without further abstinance."

He stepped away from the tables as several men moved forward to gather up the boxes. One young man, in particular, caught her eye. The once familiar face, now grown and filled out from his days as a tunnel dweller, gave her a wide smile. It was the smile that clenched it.

"Kipper!"

Laughing, they hugged tightly, and Catherine bussed him on the cheek before he let her go. "Oh, my goodness! It's so good to see you! How is Florida treating you? You're still in Florida, right?"

"Actually, I've moved to Washington. I'm Senator Kipper Fullerton now."

The line of men carrying boxes began to make its way out of the Great Hall. Catherine followed along.

"Wow. Senator Fullerton. How time has flown. I almost didn't recognize you."

Kipper grinned again. "You haven't changed a bit."

"That's sweet of you. Despite the fact that I've gained a few extra pounds, and a bit of gray hair, I appreciate it. It's so nice to see so many old faces who've returned to help."

"I've been meaning to come for some time, but pursuing a political career is exhausting work. It never ends." He shifted the box in his arms, but kept walking. "I never realized how much I missed this place until I walked through Central Park."

She started to ask him more about his life up top, when word came down that Vincent was looking for her. "Looks like I'm being hailed. Can we talk later about your political aspirations?"

"Plan on it," he promised.

At the front of the line, Vincent informed her, "We're taking everything to the Mercy Street Pawn Shop. I need you to do something for me."

"Anything."

"Remember those old suitcases of Father's that you saved and put in storage?"

"Want me to donate those to the cause?"

"If you would, yes, please."

"I think that's an excellent idea," she agreed. "It could count as my donation, too."

"We're coming up on the Falstaff Avenue entrance."

"Great! I can grab a cab and meet you later at the shop."

He squeezed her hand lightly, and she remained with him until it was time to part.

* * *

It didn't take her long to remove the old leather suitcases that had belonged to Father from storage. She could see the sense in donating them. They no longer served a purpose. But, more importantly, it was Vincent's way of allowing the memory of the man who had raised him to still be a viable member of the tunnels. By the time the taxi let her off at the corner of Mercy and Radalia, nearly an hour had passed since she'd left the donation caravan.

Through the glass door, she could see no customers inside the pawn shop. Walking around to the back of the building, she tried to find a secondary entrance, when a hissing sound caught her attention. From a ramshackle wooden doorway, Mouse waved at her to catch her attention.

"Here!"

She hurried inside, where the young man grabbed her by the arm.

"Move slow. Stairs bad."

He took the suitcases from her, then showed her how to maneuver down the narrow flight of steps, letting her to keep her balance by placing her hand on his shoulder. Once they reached the basement area, Vincent and the other tunnel members stepped through a partially-concealed hole in the wall. Also with them in the basement was an elderly man she didn't recognize.

"Catherine, I'd like you to meet Mr. Krezoth. He's the owner of the pawn shop above us," Vincent introduced.

She shook hands with the man, who smiled broadly back. He had to be at least eighty. His skin was white and paper thin, and what hair lay in whips across his bald scalp was snowy white. His eyes, though, were still a bright, intense blue. "Mr. Krezoth, it's always a pleasure to meet a Helper," she commented.

"And I've been wanting to meet Vincent's Catherine for quite some time." The man playfully swatted Vincent on the arm. "Took you long enough."

Vincent snorted with a grin. "Where do you want us to put the items we brought?"

"In here will be fine. But I must tell you, these are not good times for pawn shops, either. In this business, there is an ebb and flow. People are either buying, or they're selling. And right now, my clientele are selling. My cash funds are low, Vincent."

The tunnel people brought in the boxes of donated goods, leaving them on the floor near the staircase. Catherine glanced over the contents, until one object caught her eye. Going over to the box, she pulled out an old, ornate mantel clock. Holding it up, she interrupted the two men.

"Vincent, who gave this away? Do you know?"

He looked at the item, then shook his head. "Not offhand, no. Why?"

She sat the clock on the bare cement floor and pawed through a couple of clothing items before pulling out another object. It was a teacup, and once which she immediately recognized. She had seen Father drinking tea out of it many times. Somewhere in the box was the saucer. She held it out for them to see.

"Father's great-grandparents brought this over from England." The pattern of flowers still looked fresh. The cup was in pristine condition, without a chip or mar. The rim was lined in gold.

Catherine paused. Gold. She checked the old clock. It, too, had what appeared to be twenty-four-karat gold swirls painted on its porcelain face.

"I donated an old gold pocket watch Mouse gave me one Christmas. It's never worked, but hopefully it has enough gold content to get a few dollars."

They were donating everything they had containing gold, hoping that it would bring in the money they needed.

But one thing continued to nag her. It wasn't until Mr. Krezoth made an observation that it hit her.

"That clock, and that teacup, I can't sell those, Vincent."

"Why not?"

"Is it because they're old?" Catherine inquired. "It appears that a lot of these things might be antiques. I bet you'd probably get a better market price for them if you took them to an antique dealer." She looked at the owner. "What do you think?"

Mr. Krezoth nodded. "She's right. I can only give you a small percentage of what I think I could sell them for. An antique dealer can give you a better deal."

"Do you know of a reputable dealer?" Catherine asked the men.

"Vollmering. Otto Vollmering," Mr. Krezoth grinned. "He's one of us. He runs a shop called Time Gone By, over on Sixtieth."

"I've never met the man, but I know the place," Vincent acknowledged. "It shouldn't take us long to reach it."

"Excellent. Let me call him first to see if he's open," Mr. Krezoth suggested. "I'll just be a moment." He turned and walked up a second flight of stairs, to disappear into the back of his shop. When the door closed behind him, Catherine replaced the clock and teacup back into the box, and got to her feet.

"I should have realized earlier that most of what you own is better suited for an antique store. Things like that clock, and your timepiece you said you were offering, and Father's teacup and saucer, people pay a lot of money for those kinds of valuables."

She couldn't help but notice Mouse slouching over near the steps leading up to the alley. In fact, he appeared to be dejected.

"What's the matter, Mouse?"

"He's upset that the community wouldn't accept his donation," Vincent explained.

"Oh?" She walked over and gave the young man a one-armed hug. "What was it you wanted to give? Now that we're taking all of this stuff to an antique dealer, maybe what you have to offer is appropriate."

Still frowning, Mouse hunched down between his shoulder blades. "Still not much."

"How can you be sure?" Catherine coaxed him.

Giving her a long look, Mouse pulled a small, dirty leather pouch from his pants pocket and held it out to her. "Mouse has money. Want to help."

"How much? Let's see."

"A few pennies, nothing more," Vincent interceded.

"Every little bit helps," she replied. "Even if it's just a few cents."

She struggled to unknot the drawstring lacings. After a few moments of struggling, Vincent took the bag from her and managed to undo the largest knot with one claw-tipped finger. After which, she could undo the pouch, and poured the contents into her palm.

Four pennies, dark with age, rolled into sight. Four cents. Less than a drop in the bucket the tunnel folk needed to fill, but Catherine knew Mouse had had his feelings hurt when his gift was refused.

"Where did you find these, Mouse?" She could just imagine him picking up pennies from sidewalks, or maybe even wading into a fountain somewhere.

"Old subway tunnels. Lots of stuff there. Good stuff. Neat stuff."

She looked up at Vincent. "What old subway tunnels?"

"Back when the underground rails were being laid, several tunnels were started but later abandoned for some reason or another. Mouse is right. There's a lot of things that were discarded or left behind. Broken machinery, mostly."

"You collected this money from those tunnels?" she asked Mouse.

The young man shrugged. "Saw money. Took it. Didn't steal! Saved for a rainy day."

"We believe you, and you're right, Mouse. Save those pennies for a rainy day." She placed the coins back into the pouch, drew it closed, and started to hand it back. At his downcast expression, she tried to explain, thought better of it, and used a different tactic. "Hold on to these, okay? Once we sell these items, we'll add your pennies to the total. How does that sound?"

The compromise worked. Mouse gave her a happy smile and nodded, taking the pouch from her. But instead of putting in his pocket, he tossed it into one of the boxes.

They were interrupted by the return of Mr. Krezoth. "I spoke to Otto. He's waiting for you. I told him about the antique clock and all, and he sounded excited."

Vincent thanked the old pawn shop owner as the other tunnel people picked up the boxes and left the basement.

There was little talking during the long hike. Everyone carried something, including a small lantern. As the lights swung back and forth in gentle arcs, the sight reminded her of fireflies floating amid the caravan. Vincent appeared to be in charge of the heaviest box, the contents of which were unknown to her. Mouse, of course, led the way, using a hand-drawn map of the area.

When they arrived, they had to exit the tunnels via a drainpipe, emerging into an alleyway behind a row of townhouses. Vincent threw his cowl over his head to hide his face, and several of the men moved in front of him, effectively hiding him in the middle of the group.

The antique shop was at the corner. The tunnel people remained in the back. Catherine, Mouse, and Kipper went around to the front to enter the shop.

A middle-aged man looked up from a case when they came through the door. After a quick scrutiny at Mouse's rag-tag appearance, and the more presentable appearance of the other young man and the older woman, he addressed them. "Ah! There you are. I'm assuming you're the people Vilmer sent over?"

"Mr. Krezoth told us you'd look over what we had to sell," Catherine answered.

Again, his eyes took in her suitcases and the two boxes the others carried. "Vilmer and I swap customers a lot. I've only dealt with you people a couple of times in the past. Is that all of it?"

Kipper answered, "There's more in the back."

Vollmering raised an eyebrow. "In the back?"

"We have several boxes of items," Catherine said.

The antique dealer nodded. Despite his seeming ease, there appeared to be some hesitation in his actions, and she wondered what could be causing it.

"Mr. Vollmering, if I may?" Catherine held up her purse. At the man's nod, she pulled out her identification and handed it over. The man checked it out.

"You're a district attorney?"

"I'm not here in that capacity. I just wanted to assure you these people are here with the best intentions in mind. They're needing money for food and medicine. They're willing to sell some of their personal possession, many of which have sentimental value. Will you look over what they have to offer? We know times are tough, but even a few dollars would be greatly appreciated."

After thinking it over for a few more moments, Vollmering relented. "But I want you to bring it all through the front door."

She smiled. "Agreed."

"I'll go tell the others," Kipper offered, and hurried out the door.

The man pointed to a section near the rear of the store where there was room. "You can put your stuff there."

They set their boxes down where he indicated. When the rest of the group entered the store, Catherine noticed Vincent remained at the rear.

The shop owner locked the door and turned around the Be Back Later sign, then joined where they stood behind their merchandise. Catherine immediately noticed that the man not checking out what they had to offer, but instead was staring at the dozen or so tunnel dwellers. In particular, at Vincent's crouched figure.

"Is there a problem, Mr. Vollmering?"

"No. No problem. But I've heard about one person in your group. A man named Vincent. I've never met him, but I've heard Vilmer speak highly of him, I was hoping that one day..."

Before she could answer, Vincent moved through the small gathering to approach the shop owner. He didn't lower his hood, but he pulled it away from his face enough for Vollmering to get a good look at his unusual features. To the man's credit, the shop owner didn't appear shocked or frightened, but it was evident that, although he may have been told about Vincent's uniqueness, he hadn't expected the leonine features.

"I'm Vincent."
He held out a gloved hand.

Vollmering quickly recovered from the surprise, and shook the proffered hand. "Glad to finally meet you." He took a deep breath, and managed to turn his attention to the items in the boxes. "Anything in particular you want me to examine?" It was Vincent he directed his question to, but it was Marie who dropped to her knees to pull out the clock first.

"We'd like for you to look through all of what we'd brought. For instance, what do you think you could offer us for this?" she asked.

Vollmering took the clock and walked over to the light to examine it. The group remained silent as they watched in nervous anticipation.

He flipped the clock upside-down to examine the underside. Grabbing a magnifying lens off a nearby counter, he closely inspected first the bottom, then the clock's face.

"Has this been repaired, or had any parts replaced?"

Kipper shrugged. "I don't know. I've never had anything done to it. It was given to me a few years ago, but I never used it. I think it still works."

"This one appears to be of English make, but I don't see a maker's mark. Which means it could be a knock-off."

"Knock-off?" Vincent inquired.

"A copy. It's quite common. A lot of authentic antiques are too expensive for most folks, so they wait for a company to make a similar copy. What else do you have to show me?"

A ring was produced, followed a pillow commemorating the 1939 New York World's Fair. Next was a pair of ornate candlesticks, and the gold watch Vincent had donated. Vollmering scrutinized each item, but shook his head every time.

"These are nice, but they carry little value. If the watch worked, perhaps I could offer you fifty dollars for it."

"What about the ring?" Catherine asked.

"The gems in the ring are artificial." He swept his arm over the boxes, as if encompassing them all. "I deal in the past, but the things I sell also have to have a certain value to them. From what I see, I could offer you maybe a hundred dollars for the whole lot."

"Only a hundred?" Kipper voiced everyone's disappointment.

"What about this?" Catherine reached for the teacup to hand to the man, when Mouse suddenly slipped between them and grabbed his pouch from the top of the heap. Once it was back in his possession, he retreated over to a counter and parked himself on the floor. Vollmering gave Catherine a wide-eyed, questioning stare.

"What was that all about?"

"Nothing. Mouse offered to give us a few pennies he'd found." She held out the teacup. "What about this? I think the matching saucer to it is somewhere in the box. I'm sure that's twenty-four-carat gold."

"Did you say pennies?" the antique dealer persisted.

"Found pennies," Mouse replied. "Underground pennies. Save for a rainy day."

The man walked over and held out a hand. "I'm a numismatist, young man. May I see your pennies?"

Mouse gave Catherine a quizzical look. She smiled back. "A numismatist is a person who collects old coins. It's okay, Mouse. Let him see what you have."

With distrust still evident on his face, Mouse handed over the leather pouch. Vollmering poured the four coins into the palm of his hand, moving them around with a fingertip. "Yes, they're old, but they appear to be in almost mint condition." He picked up one to examine more closely. A moment later, the man hurried over to a bookcase, pulled out a volume, and dropped it on a counter. He flipped through the pages at an almost frantic pace, mumbling under his breath. When he reached a specific page, he turned the book around and pointed to the picture of a coin.

"Look! It's just what I thought!"

"What?" Vincent asked as Catherine read the entry. She reached for the pennies, now lying on the counter, and laid the one the man had separated out on the page for comparison. "This one's dated 1943. I thought it would have to be older to be of any value."

"In the case of coins, most often it's not the date that makes it valuable. It's the metal content, or the stamping. Or an error made during manufacturing. That one in particular is a steel penny. There aren't that many that were made," explained Vollmering.

"What does that mean?" Kipper inquired.

"It means, if I'm right, that coin alone could bring in several thousand dollars from a coin collector."

Everyone stared at the dealer, then at Mouse, who appeared confused by the whole thing. Catherine broke the silence. "Did we hear you right? Several thousand dollars?"

"That's for just the one coin. I would say the others could be valuable, too. Let me make a few calls. I need to have an expert come and examine them."

"Coins are good?" Mouse finally asked, bewildered by the sudden interest in his donation. Vincent clapped the young man on the back.

"The coins are better than good," he reassured him.

At this sudden turn of events, Mouse's smile lit up his face. Then a faraway look dropped over his countenance, and a moment later, he started to head out the door when Vincent snagged his vest.

"What's the sudden rush?"

"Need to find more old money," Mouse explained. "Know where to find some!" And he vanished.

It took several seconds for things to sink in. It was Marie who let out a huge sigh of relief. "Oh, my gosh. All for a little penny?"

The shop owner nodded.

"How soon can we expect payment?" Catherine asked.

"Within three days, four at the most," Vollmering told her. "Once the coin is authenticated, which may take a couple of days, more than likely I can have you a check by Friday."

"That's good. I can come by and pick it up," Catherine said. Looking at Vincent, she added, "I can take it by the bank and have it cashed, and bring the money to you Friday evening."

"What about the rest of this?" Kipper inquired.

Vollmering glanced at the boxes. "If you'll allow me, leave them here for me to go through. Anything I find that I think I can sell, I'll give you fair value. Shouldn't take me but a couple of days to make a determination."

Vincent held out a hand, and he and Vollmering shook on it. "We'll be back on Friday with another load, and to pick up the things you can't use. Catherine will take care of the transaction for the coins."

Once all was agreed upon, the tunnel people left to slip back underground and return their home. Vincent and Catherine thanked the man again before heading back, following the main group, but at a slower pace. He carried one of the small lanterns to light their way.

"It was nice to see all the returning tunnel members," she remarked after several minutes of silence. Their footsteps echoed around them, punctuated by the occasional rattle of loose rocks or gravel. Occasionally, their shadows would surround them. A large hand reached for hers, and their fingers entwined. She squeezed it automatically.

"Yes. Almost as good as a celebration."

"A family reunion with a purpose."

He nodded. "True."

"I hope they stay a while. I'd love to find out what everyone who's left has been doing."

"Same here."

In the distance, they could no longer hear the others walking ahead of them. Neither could they see the glow from the lanterns. The silence and darkness she and Vincent moved through was like a gentle cocoon of intimacy surrounding them.

"It was also an unexpected blessing that one of Mouse's coins would answer our prayers."

"True again," Vincent agreed.

"And you know what's funny about that?"

He pondered for a moment. "Discovering that the smallest offering had the greatest value?"

She smiled. "Well, yes. But have you also noticed that, every time Mouse does something for the good of the people, no one takes him seriously? Yet, in the end, it usually proves to be one of the best gifts received."

"In some ancient folklore, people like Mouse were believed to be blessed by the gods. Or possessing a beneficial spirit."

"You're talking about reincarnation."

"Reincarnation or serendipity. By whatever word we choose, it only proves that anything is possible, Catherine."

Leaning over, she placed a kiss against his white shirt sleeve, making sure he felt its heat on his arm through the fabric. "I know," she answered. "I know. Just look at us."

Vincent paused and turned to face her. His loving smile was all she needed to see, if only for that brief moment, before she closed her eyes and accepted his kiss.

 

**********

Linda Mooney's contribution to fandom over the years is difficult to quantify. The list of zines, both edited and authored, is long, the individual stories memorable. Her digest (small-sized) zines chronicle the lives of many characters, past and present. Best Mirrors, for example, offers insight to William before the Tunnels, to Devin after. Linda, along with her editorial partner Lucy Green, created Macwombat Press, which still offers these zines - Classic and Third Season - to fans.

Many of Linda's stories are online, and last year, her delightful zine, Song of Solomon, was featured in WFOL's Finally Online pages. She authored at least seven zines, edited at least seven more, and had stories printed in more than a dozen other hard-copy volumes. Linda zines may be borrowed from the Crystal Rose Lending Library, and to read them all will keep away a long winter's doldrums.

Further, Linda is a well-published author with over thirty novels in print, novels of "sensuous romance with a sci-fi or fantasy flair".

contact the author: ReunionAuthors(at)gmail(dot)com

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