Evening had long since fallen and the rain came down steadily. Vincent stood in silent sadness outside the culvert entrance, staring out at the night without seeing. His cloak repelled most of the water, rain sluiced from the leather that framed his protective hood. His soul wept silently, mingling with the drops of rain. He missed Catherine with his entire being. The ache was constant, all-consuming … moving steadily toward a grinding agony.
It was an effort to do even the most basic activities. Following a conversation with Father, interacting with the children, even finishing a meal was becoming harder and harder to do. A week … only seven days … it shouldn’t feel like a lifetime lived in solitude.
With determined focus, he drew in a deep breath. Yes, it was even getting more difficult to breathe without her. What a hopeless case he was. She wasn’t here, his heart was with her--so he attempted to go through the motions of normal life. No one was fooled … everyone saw that he was a distracted shell and they tread lightly around him--quietly making sure he ate, that he rested.
Only in the quiet of the night, or at brief unexpected moments, he would receive the gift of her whispered presence, the warm sigh of breath touching his mind, her whisper of his name caressing his heart. "Vincent."
Just knowing she was thinking of him, that she was well … her heart beating on a distant shore gave him enough hope … filling his emptiness with her love. It was just enough to get him through the day. A promise, she would be back soon … she loved and missed him as he did her.
"Catherine." He spoke her name reverently, softly aloud.
The sound acted as a mantra, soothing him. His eyes closed and he opened his barren soul … waiting … wanting.
"I’m coming home, Vincent." The air and rain carried her words.
He felt her joy sweep through him, heard her voice in his heart … it swelled and filled him with an overwhelming euphoria! His breath came deeper, easier. His heart stumbled and then tripled its beats. Azure eyes opened and sparkled with life. She was on her way home … to him. With sudden renewed vigor, Vincent’s body straightened to its impressive height then he burst into a fast, silent run back into the tunnels toward Catherine’s building. He would be there waiting for her!
* * *
Catherine danced impatiently in the small confines of her building’s elevator, silently urging it to go faster! A smile had graced her features throughout the last part of her flight, at the airport, and in the taxi. She was almost home. The last week had been immeasurable! Even concentrating on the job at hand in California had only filled part of her mind, the other part was firmly entrenched here … in New York … with Vincent.
With frantic, hurried motions, Catherine unlocked her apartment and tossed her bags and coat as she moved toward the balcony. She knew he was there waiting for her. A whisper of movement on the balcony caught her eye as she fumbled, then flung open the double doors.
They met in a soul-melding embrace. He buried his face into her hair; she burrowed her hands into his mane. "I felt you returning." The words were torn from him as his arms held her weight against him. "I felt dead inside without you and then you were there, in my heart. I felt you with me." He groaned with the remembered pain and aloneness.
Her arms wrapped tightly around his neck; holding him, loving him.
"Hold me tighter." She demanded. Her precious breath warmed his neck. His arms crushed her against him.
"Tighter, Vincent!" She wanted to crawl inside his skin and take up residence in his heart. She felt him straighten, pulling her entire weight onto him. She gave a little hop and wrapped her legs around his hips. It brought the core of her solidly against his pelvis. Pressing her mouth against the spot where his neck and jaw joined, she moved her lips frantically down to nuzzle under his shirt to his muscled shoulder.
Vincent held her and thanked God this woman lived and breathed and loved him!
"I love you, Catherine." He spoke the words, solidly … with strength. "I do. I love you."
Catherine trembled and knew that for all the rest of her days, the sound of Vincent’s beloved voice saying those most cherished words would be the highlight. She raised her head and leaned back enough to see his face but still close enough to feel his words vibrate through her.
"I don’t know why I’ve withheld the words from you." He continued as the suppressed emotions overflowed into speech. "They have been part of my soul since that first night I found you. Saying them aloud doesn’t make my commitment to you any more real … I don’t think I can be bound to you any tighter. Each time I see you, each time I think of you, they are there … I know you can see it when I look at you. You can feel it … you have to---it’s so strong!"
He stroked her back without thought as the words continued to spill forth as if a dam had broken. "…But when you say them to me--Oh Catherine! The treasure of those words … a gift so precious, so overwhelmingly glorious! I’m so sorry…so very sorry for withholding them." His voice descended into choked emotion, his eyes held hers with a stunning blaze of love.
"Shhh." Catherine soothed him with a tender smile and stroked his wild mane. Tears of joy and gratitude fell unchecked down her cheeks. "It’s all right, Vincent."
"No. I should have spoken sooner. When Mitch shot you, I was wild with fear and then again, when I almost lost you in the trunk of that car. I felt you go. I was devastated then given another chance … and still I didn’t tell you." Remorse gave way to determination and he pulled back and again met her eyes with steely intent. "I love you so much … so very deeply. If I ever lost you … without telling you …" Vincent looked into her soul and saw total acceptance and adoration---and an endless supply of love.
Catherine’s smile was full and lit her from within. Vincent was entranced. Her legs tightened around his waist and her arms tightened around his shoulders.
"I love you." Vincent repeated it reverently; his voice finally saying the words that beat at the walls of his heart and filled his soul with all things possible. ‘Impossible things that aren’t, but should be.’
Finally Catherine spoke. "You’re right, the words are important. I have seen and felt your love for me … as you said, but hearing them … Vincent, they fill me, every tiny bit of me, with joy." She stroked his beloved face, held effortlessly in his arms and wrapped around him. There was no place else she’d rather be.
"You are my haven, my home, my heart." Catherine told him what was in her heart without fear now. "You are everything … I love you, Vincent. I’ll never get tired of saying it or hearing those blessed words from you." XXOO