Near the grayish hue of water-spattered rocks, a being with piercing blue eyes and great, muscled limbs trailed his fingers through a misty pool. Staring down into it, he seemed to seek answers there to exasperating and unfathomable difficulties.
There was a majestic quality about this individual. Completely vulnerable in all ways at this moment, nude and solitary, he was beautiful beyond envisioning. Man, yet more than that--more than human--Vincent was the ideal specimen of what it meant to be masculine. Whatever genus he was, he was extraordinary to look upon, although that concept would have been immediately negated by this creature who imagined himself some-what…less…than human.
Gazing down into the steam rising to meet his eyes, Vincent flinched as Catherine's sadness twisted through his soul again like an assassin's dagger. This was to be a night of celebration for he and his Beloved, yet at this moment, his thoughts weren't oriented towards any perception of joy. He was focused on Catherine's heart, on the cadence of its beating; a sound only he could feel externally, yet encompassed within him.
Tonight was their fourth anniversary. Four years ago this very night, he'd discovered her in that dank, mist-laden park, torn and bleeding--near death. A terrible, yet wondrous night four years ago, Vincent knew for certain that he'd found the missing piece of his soul: Catherine.
Still lying on his side facing the bathing pool, his eyes warmed with emotion as he contemplated his good fortune from that night until this. He shared his existence with an exceptional, courageous woman, and an amazing son. A life he had thought never to know, nor dared to dream of having as his own, indeed belonged to him.
Yet, mingled with the sweetness of his imaginings was a disturbing unrest, and it was emanating from Catherine. In these last months, he'd sensed a growing despondency in her. Although he was well aware that she made a concerted effort to conceal her thoughts, he could still feel them. Why was she trying to shield her emotions in such a way, knowing how it distressed him when he couldn't read her heart, especially when the pain within it kept her isolated from him? If she couldn't, or wouldn't, share her distress, then how was he supposed to help her to resolve it?
Examining their connection, Vincent gasped aloud, grabbing at the center of his chest as their minds touched. Oh, such sadness! What was causing such turmoil just at the edge of Catherine's heart? Even now, laying here alone by the bathing pool, he felt her turbulent emotions. They were viable--hurting her--hurting him.
Exhaling roughly, confused, again he focused on the pool just below him. He must speak to Catherine of these sensations, of the unrest that seemed to come over her more and more lately. At those moments, an unendurable stillness from within claimed her essence, sealing her off from him, leaving him numb, unnerved.
Sighing, Vincent stirred the water of the bathing pool with the tips of his fingers. Was Catherine angry with him? Had he done something to cause her vexation? Was there a tangible need she wouldn't speak of, or perhaps a physical one that he hadn't met? Vincent's heart lurched against his ribcage.
A physical need? That notion brought back a flash of something sinister, but as he attempted to capture the thought, reaching towards it with his mind, the knowledge danced away from him like the petals of a rose upon a storm-tossed sea. The sea? Frowning, he searched his consciousness. What about the sea? In his minds-eye, he could see an ocean. There were gulls crying overhead, and something else, something familiar, but what? It was hopeless, he simply couldn't remember.
"Oh, blast this quandary!"
Slapping at the water, Vincent sat up. Leaning against a rock, he flung his hair back over his left shoulder and pondered what to do, how to best approach Catherine on what he decided had to be a need she hadn't been candid about in the year they'd been intimate. Dear God, had she been keeping this distress to herself for that long? If there was some specific female requirement that he hadn't met, he must know what it was, then he could try to do whatever was needed to compensate for his lack of knowledge in such matters.
He gulped nervously. How to ask these kinds of questions defeated him. Even after a year, for him, sexuality was still a complicated, as well as a highly personal matter. Making love—sex--was a miracle to be savored, not discussed! How could he broach such intimate subject matter to Catherine? Indeed, did people openly converse on such things at all?
Vincent admitted to himself that her innermost thoughts were really none of his business. Women had the right to have secrets from even those they loved. But for him, with his years of aloneness still gnawing at his soul like salt at an open wound, when Catherine shut him out, it was not to be borne!
In this last year, they had shared so much, so much, yet she was entitled to privacy, as were all people, but… Exhaling roughly, he lowered his head to rest against his bent knees. When Catherine was troubled as she was now, why didn't she come to him and discuss it? Was she afraid of embarrassing him, or wounding him emotionally? As he lifted his head, an attitude of stubbornness shadowed his eyes. Did she think him a child then; one who needed to be protected from hurt feelings?
"Uh!" His mind a whirl of conflicting emotions, he leapt to his feet, disgusted with his lack of sexual enlightenment. Catherine always seemed satisfied with him in every way, but was she? WAS SHE? Or was he a complacent dunce, smugly stumbling along, thinking that all was well, when it truly wasn't?
Imbecilic dolt! Silently chastising himself roundly, Vincent picked up a towel and began to scrub at his damp skin with unnecessary force. The furrow running along the center of his brow deepened as he focused all of his thoughts on his lady again.
She was Above in her…in their…apartment. He could feel her despair. This must stop! If in some way he was at fault, he couldn't rest until he put matters between them to right.
"Go to her, you coward", he admonished himself. "FIND the damnable words!"
Dressing hastily, he stomped out of the bathing chamber. With his jaw firmly set, Vincent's expression was one of grim determination. Regardless of how embarrassing this might be for him, he would speak to Catherine of her most intimate needs. She must tell him exactly what was wrong, and she would tell him tonight!