Five days of work in the lower tunnels had been hard on the men below. Vincent would be tired from the abbreviated hours of sleep, Catherine was sure. The cold of early November had given way to an unexpected warm spell which resulted in rain instead of snow. Three days later the flooding in the lower tunnels had started. But Kipper had delivered the handwritten note from Vincent, and she would see him tonight!
The last five days had seemed like forever and Catherine had missed Vincent terribly.
The time apart was unwelcome after the magic of Halloween and Vincent’s marriage proposal. The occasion of their engagement had warranted an engagement party that required The Great Hall opened for the occasion. It had been filled with those from Above and Below, including Jenny Aronson and Catherine’s father, recently introduced to the tunnels. Two days later, it had started to rain.
Catherine took her usual care when dressing to meet Vincent for a concert. Tonight she wore a soft silk tea-length dress in a pale silvery lavender color. The sleeves were long and ruched to gather elegantly at the top of her hands. The neckline was wide and gathered in a loosely elasticized, off-the-shoulder style and made wearing a bra impractical. It had an outer corset, beautifully embroidered in a shimmery silver thread which molded the dress to her shape. The corset squeezed in, cupping her breasts, hugging her small waist, down to the flair of her hips before it allowed the dress’ material to swirl softly around the top of her cream-colored slouch boots.
She had coaxed her hair into a mass of crimped waves and applied just a hint of makeup to her lips, eyes, and cheekbones. She swirled in front of her full-length mirror and was pleased with the fairytale romantic look she’d achieved. Now if only Vincent was equally pleased. A glance at the clock and she threw her warm evening cloak over her shoulders before quickly heading to the basement.
* * *
Vincent waited patiently for his Catherine, as he was a few minutes early. He was tired but he wasn’t dead and nothing would have kept him from her this evening. The last few days had been harder than any other time he’d been away from Catherine.
He had returned to his chamber a little past noon. Tiredly, he had gathered clean clothing before heading to the bathing chamber. He had fallen asleep briefly while soaking off the dried mud; the missed sleep catching up with him. Pulling himself out, he had dried as quickly as his fur allowed, then headed to the dining chamber for some of William’s hot food.
Father had joined him and they had fallen into a discussion about the structure integrity of the lower tunnels. Barely suppressing a huge yawn, Vincent had excused himself and gone to his chamber for a much needed nap. The last week had been grueling and he had pushed himself, sometimes making do with only three or four hours of sleep a day. His body was crying out for rest but his heart cried out for Catherine.
He would have gone immediately to her after his bath, but they already had plans for the evening. Her note was thoughtful but he knew she missed him as much as he had missed her. He refused to disappoint her or himself.
The three hours of sleep was not enough but it helped revive him for the time being.
The dim light of her basement bled through the opening, teasing him with its promise. Slowly, Vincent stretched his arms up and arched his head and shoulders. A support beam had fallen and landed a glancing blow to his left shoulder. The muscle was still sore and he had noticed a dark bruise there during his bath.
Stilling abruptly, he sensed her presence drawing nearer. Catherine was coming.
Unable to wait any longer, he stepped forward into the light watching the feminine derrière swaying in its decent and the temptation was too great. With strong hands he grasped her around the waist, lifting her down the last few steps. He pulled her back into his body and stepped back a little before allowing her feet to slide down and meet the ground.
Surprise and delight rushed through her and Catherine turned with a joyous laugh. She looked up into his beloved face then threw herself against his chest, hugging him tightly.
His arms closed gently around her and he buried his face in her hair. His heart felt lighter and her laughter brought a smile to his lips.
"I’ve missed you so much." Her voice was muffled against him but he heard easily and gave her a gentle squeeze.
"And I have missed you, my Catherine." Husky tones caressed her and with another fierce hug of her own, she moved back to look up at him. Without thinking, he did what felt natural in that moment of reconnection. Vincent dipped his head and settled his mouth on hers. It was amazing how quickly he had adapted to kissing her. He took her taste into himself, stroking her lips with his tongue, displaying a confidence that was new and welcome. He heard her sigh of happiness, then a low moan of pleasure as he drank from her. Her lips moved in happy acceptance, welcoming him in. After a very long and satisfying moment, they broke the kiss reluctantly. His eyes moved over her features as if starved for the sight of her.
With loving eyes, she took him in. She noticed the small signs of fatigue; the slight slump to his massive shoulders, and the pallor of his burnished features. She sighed, shook her head a little and reached out to take one of his hands in hers. He had new calluses, a few healing blisters … she stoked his palm softly and tried to catch his suddenly downcast gaze.
"You should definitely be resting in your chamber, Vincent. I can feel your weariness, but …" Finally his eyes rose to meet hers as she paused. "…I’m too happy to see you to insist on it. I guess that makes me selfish, but so be it."
Vincent saw the light of concern behind the gently teasing smile. She was so beautiful. He always thought he recalled her beauty until he was once again standing in front of her … then he was stunned all over again. Even in the low light of the tunnel, her eyes sparkled with energy. She had done something different to her hair, and the swirl of her gray velvet cloak gave an old-world elegance to her slender form. The true beauty however, pulsed in the space around them. Her absolute pleasure at being with him and the warm aura she always projected melded perfectly with his fiercely devoted heart.
"Then I, too am selfish … I could not find it in me to deny us this evening." His admission was honest and raw. "I am a bit tired, but your presence fills me." … with so much, he might have added. His head tilted in his customary way of signaling his uncertainty. At times he felt that he revealed too much of his neediness and yet couldn’t always hold back.
Catherine gently cupped his chin and lifted his face loving this man so much. She loved this shy gentle side of him, but was just as anxious to let him know that she gladly received each glimpse of his feelings for her.
"As yours fills me, Vincent." She smiled into his hesitant eyes. "Now, let’s get to the music chamber where we can sit, relax and be filled with music as well."
Vincent smiled, relaxing in her warmth. He nodded once, took her hand and they walked into the tunnel.
* * *
The orchestra was still assembling above them when they arrived in the music chamber below the park. The evening was cool and clear, perfect for the holiday celebration concert. Most concerts for this time of year were scheduled indoors due to the very real threat of bad weather. It was a treat that this one had settled nicely into the few clear days at the end of November.
They took the time before the music began to get comfortable. Catherine was more than satisfied with Vincent’s reaction to her attire when she slid off the cloak.
"You look … stunning, Catherine." His voice was quiet and sincere. It made her blush with pleasure as it always did, just as it caused her to feel fluttery and feminine. It was the way he seemed unable to keep his eyes off of her that had her also feeling warm and a little shaky as she thanked him.
Vincent tried not to be so obvious, but Catherine absolutely stole the breath from his lungs. It was his nature to be observant and his predatory eyes missed nothing … no small detail of the woman beside him went unseen. He suppressed a heartfelt groan when he realized by their gentle sway that her breasts were unbound beneath the silky fabric of her dress.
He went about the small chamber pulling down the rolled, ragged rug and their small collection of pillows from a high concrete lip of the manmade drainage culvert. He shook them gently then arranged them comfortably against the wall and out of the direct light of the grate. She put her cloak beside her, and then settled on the right half of the thick rug leaving his usual spot to the left.
She adjusted a pillow behind her back then motioned Vincent down beside her. His eyes tracked her every move, stroking her from top to bottom. Her smile tilted up at him and his mouth went dry. With an unconsciously graceful move, he pulled his own cloak from his shoulders and in a single smooth swirl, he sat beside her. He put his cloak across their legs then she pulled hers to lay on top of his, resting it a bit higher to ward off the slight chill. Any lingering coolness totally disappeared as she cuddled into his right side.
Smoothly, she filled him in on her own activities during their time apart while drawing him into discussing his own. She listened intently but her mind filled in the parts in between and what he left out; the long hours, the wet conditions, the heavy lifting, the limited rest and availability of hot food. Somehow, she had even eased in a question about the blow to his shoulder, noticing his slight stiffness and unconscious guarding of his left side.
"What did Father say about it?" She asked while gently turning as if to inspect the damage herself.
His head cocked to one side and his hair fell forward to hide his features.
"Its fine, Catherine. Merely a bruised muscle." He insisted lightly.
"Hmm. That means you didn’t show him." She interpreted correctly.
Instead of answering, he shifted to get more comfortable. He wrapped his uninjured arm snuggly around her and pulled his left knee up to rest his left arm against it. The musicians were finishing their warm up and ready to begin. Content, Vincent leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes absorbing the sound and the warmth of Catherine beside him.
* * *
Catherine listened to the concert and looked down at Vincent’s sleeping face. About half way through, he had shifted uncomfortably, favoring his left shoulder as it had stiffened with inactivity. It hadn’t taken much urging on Catherine’s part to have him shift to lie nestled on her lap with a couple of pillows under his head, back and shoulders. There was very little of his weight actually resting on her she pointed out, so he settled in with a sigh, content to let her stroke his hair while she leaned her own head back and enjoyed the music.
A few minutes later, she glanced down to see him fast asleep. Tenderness swept through her. He worked so hard. He put everyone else before him and asked for so little. She smiled slightly and sent up a prayer of thankfulness.
* * *
Still dozing in that perfect place of comfort, rest, and safety, Vincent gently nuzzled into the softness against his cheek and cushioning his head. The sweet smell drew him deeper until he was breathing her exclusively. He nudged at the swell and it gave easily so that he found the firm bud through thin fabric. Without thought, his mouth opened, his breath warmed her, then his lips closed around it suckling … gently at first then more strongly.
Catherine was pulled from a place of lulled peace into one of warm, moist eroticism. Vincent’s heated breath touched the skin above the low cut neckline of her dress, his nuzzling mouth and nose brought her body to full awareness. She bit her lip to hold back the groan as pure sensation swept through her when his lips closed around her straining nipple. After only a few seconds of this, she raised a shaky hand to carefully open and pull the material down so that Vincent would have her breast without barrier. She tightened her arm under his head and drew him in closer.
Even in sleep, Vincent rumbled in contentment as he drew on the beaded tightness of her nipple. His body turned in toward her, seeking more of her warmth.
Catherine’s inner core melted. Her hips shifted gently, restlessly. Vincent’s mouth was the center of her universe at that moment. The upper cleft notched at the top of the bud and flexed and released steadily, the action pulled deeply at her womb. She watched him through eyes lit from within. His face was so beautifully relaxed against her skin; its sleepy countenance slowly giving way to determination. His mouth pulled more insistently … demandingly. She quivered, fully aware of his need and her own need to provide … more.
Vincent was having the most pleasant dream. His mouth drew on the sweetest of things. The most wonderful, potent smell of ambrosia filled his head. His eyelids flickered then opened over hazy blue eyes.
Catherine saw awareness dawn as contentment slowly gave way to surprise then dismay. He gasped, his mouth releasing her nipple with an audible, wet ‘pop.’
"Catherine." He whispered; an apology poised and ready on his lips.
She kept her arm firmly around him and moved her other hand to brush back his hair then cup his jaw.
"Vincent." Her voice was husky and pleading. "Don’t stop. Take your fill." She desperately sent all the feelings of love, heat, and desire she felt through the bond. "I belong to you. My body is yours, let me satisfy you."
Vincent opened their connection fully. Everything she said, everything her body told him was confirmation of her words. The darkened arousal he saw in her eyes, the increased tempo of her breathing and heart rate, and the heavenly scent of her liquid arousal. His heart pounded with the intensity of her desire. His eyes drank in the sight of her beautifully sensual face, traveled down the smooth perfection of her neck and saw the pulse pounding there. He drew back a little and looked at the stunning vision of her bared breasts.
Vincent’s clawed hand against the pale, soft skin looked strangely perfect … he squeezed with gentle strength and heard her breath catch. The rosy red nipple was pulled tight and glistened wetly from his ministrations. Curiously, he blew his breath against it, watched her response as it beaded even more tightly. Catherine moaned quietly then gasped as he once more moved forward and latched onto her.
The jolt of desire that shot through her took him a little by surprise and he felt an answering surge from his own taut body. With full awareness, he closed her nipple into his upper lip, tasted her with his tongue, then enveloped it totally with his mouth. The velvet brush of his lower lip massaged the slick, satin sweetness of her. He was again flooded with the heat that flowed from her and fueled his own.
Within the space of a few moments, her other breast was getting its own attention as his big hand stroked and teased it. His fingers massaged, tweaked, and rolled the one bud while he suckled the other with just enough pressure to keep both of them sweetly on edge. He savored every response she felt and gave to him.
The heat roared through them both. Catherine’s hand stroked through his hair, moved down over his strong shoulder and came to rest atop his hip. She gripped it tightly as she gave up another groan of arousal. Her body again shifted restlessly. She wanted to explore … to stroke and fan the flames of the inferno. She wanted to claim Vincent, to feel his hard arousal and thrill at these first steps into loving madness. She hesitated, not wanting to do anything that might make him stop. Her slender fingers clenched tightly, her hips arched minutely, and she stifled a whimper of need.
Vincent’s hand left her breast and moved to grasp her clenched fist. Reluctantly, he broke suction and pulled back to meet her heated eyes. He lifted her hand to his mouth and kissed the knuckles until her hand eased open.
"Catherine …" Passion made his voice raspy, he licked her palm and felt her shiver. "My body is yours … touch me." Slowly, he moved her hand from his mouth, down his wide chest, past taut stomach. His body was still tilted toward her, resting on his right hip. He lifted his left knee and planted his foot firmly on the ground. He slid her hand into the V of his legs to rest it against his full, pulsing arousal.
When her hand moved in his, first to press and then stroke, he thought he had died and gone to heaven. When she slid her hand and cupped him from below and gave a loving squeeze, his lower body arched instinctively into her touch. It felt so good, so unbelievably right; he growled low in his chest and released her hand, his eyes closed in ecstatic joy. To be touched by Catherine, in love, in passion, it was beyond any dream he could imagine.
He opened his eyes to focus on Catherine. Her pleasure at being allowed to finally touch him, to hear the words spoken just now from his own mouth … her glowing eyes told of her desire and joy. It sang to him through the bond. With a muffled groan, Vincent went back to the temptation of her offered breasts while reveling in her sweetly hot touches on his ravenous body.
The knowledge rippled through her mind … ‘mine’… Catherine could have sobbed aloud her joy and relief. Instead, her hand squeezed him again through the soft material of his trousers. He was firm and thick and he grew steadily longer, harder, and wider as she stroked, cupped and explored.
The opening at his waistband was strained and Catherine fumbled to undo the leather tie, finally freeing him. A tapered arrow of smooth, soft fur provided a nest for his pulsating arousal. His growl of intense pleasure vibrated against her breast and she trembled. Hungrily, her eyes drank in the beauty of his reaction to her even as she curled her hand around him. Her fingers didn’t meet around Vincent’s girth even though she grasped him just below the flared head. Catherine stroked her thumb up and over the tip, spreading the milky drop of liquid that gathered there around the crown.
Shuddering with a groan of surrender, Vincent’s hips arched and he pushed desperately into Catherine’s small but capable hands. He felt the strength in her grip on him, their softness in her gliding stroke, her sureness in bringing him to the edge of paradise. The bond reassured him of her eagerness as she explored his impressive length then moved deeper, finally cupping his heavy double sack. His breathing was harsh as he once again released her breast and groaned her name.
Catherine was torn between watching the response of his body in her hand and the look of stunned excitement and arousal on his face. To think, he had never been touched like this, loved like this—
"Vincent…" She whispered, squeezing his scrotum gently then adding a firmer tug. His breath hissed out and he seemed to be having trouble focusing his eyes on hers. When he managed it, she continued. "I’m glad you’re free to my touch. Please … never decide to wear underwear." She smiled at him in pleased happiness.
With a startled half-laugh, Vincent reached up and cupped her head in the palm of his hand. He lifted himself toward her and tugged her down until his lips took hers in a loving, passionate kiss. He left her without breath, reflexively her hand moved back up his length and she tightened her grip. He pulsated strongly, his hips bucked.
She began a slow, deliberate up and down motion, savoring the feeling of smooth skin moving over a steel core. Her lips lowered to his and she took his desperate sounds into her mouth. Their breathing was fast and erratic as they broke the kiss and she turned her eyes back to the erotic sight of his straining manhood pumping into her palm.
"Look, Vincent." Catherine’s voice quivered as her own body vibrated. "See how beautifully we touch."
Vincent found it hard to breath, but couldn’t find the focus to care. He watched her hand loving him, causing never felt before sensations. Her fingers were strong, then gentle. The rhythm she set was followed urgently by his body. His testes drew up tightly against his body and he saw himself weeping onto her stroking fingertips. Vincent began to tremble, knowing he could not hold back much longer.
"Catherine!" The husky plead in his voice barely registered, he used his hand to turn her face to him, needing her to understand. "I can’t … I’m going to …"
Green eyes glistened with tears of love, her soft smile one of pure temptation.
"I know, Vincent. I want to see you come apart for me … please." She moved his hand from her cheek back to her aching breast. She needed his touch, so very much.
Without further direction from his brain, his hand caressed, played and tugged none-too-gently. She strained toward him, even as her hand moved on him more insistently. She felt his teeth lightly scrape across her nipple and she was unable to suppress her low moan.
"Ah Vincent … I need …" She stopped and bit her lip and her neck arched. Catherine felt him flick his tongue quickly across her nipple and then stopped to pull with a long, slow, strong suck—
She shuddered and broke over the edge, her hand tightened briefly, before beginning to stroke longer, faster and stronger.
She forced her blurred vision to focus through her quivers of release and used the hand buried in Vincent’s wild mane of hair to turn his attention back to matters at hand.
Elated by Catherine’s response that vibrated along the bond as well as through her body, Vincent wasn’t sure how he managed to restrain his own inevitable release. He felt her pull his head against her and directed his eyes back to the magic she created with her hand. The sight of her stroking him, loving him simply was too much on top of the building tide of feelings he was unable to restrain or direct.
They watched together as he exploded in her hand, his roar and climax brought her to her second release. As luck would have it, the concert’s ending crescendo was reached in tandem with his roar camouflaging the sound.
There was a brief silence then thunderous applause. Catherine held him tightly to her, feeling the mighty huffs of air he drew in. She pressed her smiling lips onto his forehead, her joy sending her off on tangents. Like … how appropriate the applause was at just that moment.
Vincent was worthy of applause.
Vincent’s thoughts drifted away for a moment, to a place of utter contentment. He could hear Catherine’s heartbeat beneath his ear; could feel her arms around him and could smell her release as well as his own. She had found release with only his mouth on her breasts and her hand touching him. That amazed him.
He felt gratified, proud. He felt ... awesome!
A couple of moments later, he was feeling a little embarrassed as the moment of clean up and talking was at hand. He was wondering what to say, what to do … Catherine took the initiative.
Gently, with great care he saw her gather a perfect drop from him and lift it to her lips. Unable to speak, his amazed eyes watched her tongue sweep out and then she was savoring his life essence with a dreamy smile. He watched, still without comment as she pulled a soft cotton handkerchief from the cuff of the sleeve from the arm underneath his neck. With care she used it to wipe him dry. Afterwards, she folded it in on itself and returned it to her sleeve. Vincent moved back a little so he could look up at her.
Catherine watched the range of emotions that raced across his face. Embarrassment, pleasure, desire, pride, and awe … each passed fleetingly before her. She could still taste his musky, spicy flavor on her lips, it sent another vibration of longing through her and she let the bond relay it to him.
Her dress had slid up to cover one breast, but the other remained bared to his sight. Vincent felt her quiver of desire. He watched as her breathing became more labored the longer his eyes focused on her naked breast, the nipple now tight and begging for his touch. He reached up once again, hesitated briefly then cupped her breast in his hand. He glanced up quickly, saw her moisten her lips and then watched as her eyes darkened on his. They spoke loudly; those big, beautiful eyes begged him to love her. His thumb raked over the nipple firmly and he saw her eyes drift shut.
"I love your touch." Catherine’s voice was hushed. She tilted a smile at him; a loving, gentle smile. "I love your kiss, your voice, your body, and your taste. I love all that you are and all that you give me."
Vincent tilted his head and looked at her so solemnly. "I think my response to your touch, speaks for itself." He continued to stroke her soft skin as he spoke. "Catherine, I did not know that I could feel the way I do when I’m with you. Someday I will find the words, until then ‘I love you, I want you’ seem so inadequate. I think, although our Music Chamber has been a place of overwhelming joy for us, our wedding night may be more appropriate for where this is leading."
Satisfied with those words, Catherine dropped a pleased kiss on his lips.
Well, we had best set a wedding date soon, Vincent." She suppressed a giggle as suddenly, he very seriously pulled up her neckline and moved to close his pants.
"I think you are correct, Catherine. Things will only get harder, the longer we wait." He was confused at her muffled giggle as she allowed him to help her to her feet and into the warmth of her cloak.
The walk back to her threshold was done slowly hand in hand. He blushed at her explanation of her giggles, there was a quick stop here and there for a slow kiss, and lingering touches. Reluctantly, finally they parted with promises for tomorrow.