Meant for Each Other
Her pain was a palpable sensation rushing through her body in endless waves. Gradually, she became aware of a light pressure on her forehead, the wet washcloth bringing her some needed relief. She felt the tentative, tender caress on her hair and recognized the touch immediately. His unique scent tantalized her nostrils while his breath heated her skin. When the pressure and the caress stopped a few instants later, she felt strangely bereft, as if adrift in a sea of loneliness. She needed his nurturing presence, his strength. She needed his love. Quickly, she lifted her head from the pillow and reached out to him with her voice, a vocal extension of her thoughts and feelings.
"Vincent … don’t go … I need you close," she uttered, desperately wanting him to stay and not knowing how to convince him.
Kneeling beside the bed, he bent over her and whispered huskily, "I’ll watch over you. Don’t worry. Sleep now."
Reassured, she laid her head back on her pillow and closed her eyes, sighing.
Vincent rose and moved backward, leaning against the wall near the French doors, his eyes never leaving her face. He inhaled deeply, realizing that he was inside Catherine’s bedroom. The thought overwhelmed him. Her intoxicating scent lingered in the air, conveying a titillating sense of intimacy he was not ready to acknowledge. Alarmed by the heady sensations mounting in him, he decided to leave despite his promise to Catherine, but his body refused to obey. ‘A few more minutes,’ he thought.
She was finally sleeping peacefully, so he relaxed and started to look around. When his eyes focused on her nightstand, he recognized Brigit O’Donnell’s book 300 Days. He remembered his conversation with the courageous Irish writer, who had told him that the stubborn heart never listens to the sensible mind. He knew about stubbornness. How many times had he tried to persuade himself to let Catherine go and live in the world Above? He had lost count. He wanted her to have a happy life, a husband, children …. Yet his unselfish intentions clashed with his heart’s desperate need for her loving and constant presence in his life. He knew there would come a time when he would have to say goodbye to her, but … ‘not yet,’ he told himself. ‘Not yet!’
Catherine sighed and turned on her side, facing him, and his heart skipped a beat at the sensually innocent expression on her face. Vincent felt an uncontrollable pull to hold her gently in his arms. But he could no longer fool himself. He knew that what he felt for her encompassed much more than that. Although his mind refused to acknowledge it, the simple and terrible truth was that he was passionately in love with her. He also knew that while her affection for him was deep and sincere, she was not in love with him. She could not be. But that did not matter. He considered himself lucky to have her friendship and her trust.
Catherine moaned and moved her head restlessly on her pillow. Instantly, he was sitting on the bed, bending over her and whispering softly. It did not help, and her agitation grew. Eager to offer comfort and reassurance, Vincent delicately placed his hand on her shoulder and massaged it.
Catherine’s reaction caught him totally unprepared. Her hand covered his and stroked it gently. Overwhelmed by the unexpected and electrifying contact, he tried to withdraw, but she grasped his hand tightly.
Vincent was totally enthralled. He knew he had to stop this but could not find the strength in himself to do it. It was as if his heart had a will of its own, and his heart was telling him to stay and do whatever she needed him to do.
While he was struggling to regain control, Catherine slowly guided his hand to her cheek. Her silken smoothness burned his skin, and he gasped in shock. Never before had he experienced such powerful physical sensations. He was shyly basking in those delicious sensations when she opened her eyes and gazed at him intensely. He realized that she had been awake the whole time, purposely creating and savoring the pleasure of their first intimate contact. Stunned, Vincent’s first instinct was to retreat. He could not stay. He had to leave—now! He needed to analyze this new development dispassionately and reflect upon the way it would affect their lives.
But it was not to be. Catherine kept moving his hand until it finally covered her mouth. When her lips touched its palm with an almost imperceptible caress, blinding sensations engulfed his body. His heart was pounding madly, and his blood was rushing through his veins with a deafening rumble.
Catherine’s eyes were fixed on his and commanded his complete attention. Her fragrance filled his nostrils with its heady spice, impairing his ability to think coherently.
Yet his absorption did not prevent him from noticing the intriguing length of her eyelashes and the constantly changing color of her irises.
When the innocent touch of her lips became an insistent and sensual nipping, he instinctively closed his eyes. The result was devastating: shutting off one sense only sharpened the others. He felt deliciously and deliriously branded where her warm, wet lips kissed his palm. His breath was coming fast, and a gentle growl started deep in his chest.
Afraid that his Dark side would take control and hurt her, Vincent opened his eyes to regain control, but he lost himself in the bottomless green of hers. He could not move. He could not think. He could only feel.
Utterly mesmerized, he observed Catherine remove his hand from her mouth and slowly reduce the space between them until she was a few inches from his face. She looked at him deeply; then her gaze focused yearningly on his mouth. He gasped, involuntarily parting his lips to draw in more oxygen. Catherine smiled mischievously and closed the remaining distance between them.
He felt her lips latch on his, a brief but scorching touch of heaven. He could not believe this was happening. He could not believe he was letting it happen. Where had his iron control gone? He had to stop this madness! They were playing with fire! His mind was screaming at him to stop, but his body stubbornly refused to comply. He wanted more. He needed more.
Catherine kissed him again, instinctively knowing his most secret desire. This time, though, her lips moved tantalizingly back and forth upon his, stroking, torturing, burning supple skin that had never before experienced a lover’s touch. When the sensual caress ended, Vincent stared at her breathlessly, his eyes silently begging her to continue her sweet torture. But after bestowing a delicate kiss upon his downy nose, she leaned away, smiling with satisfaction but not attempting any further contact.
Vincent blinked, confused by that sudden loss of physical contact. Why had she pulled away? Was she repulsed? Shyly, he probed their bond to discover what she was feeling and almost drowned in an ocean of burning desire and unending love. While he was savoring those feelings, it dawned upon him that she was waiting for him. His eyes filled with tears, and his heart melted: she loved him so deeply that she placed his happiness and comfort before hers.
Only one path was possible for a love like theirs. Shyly following his heart, he raised his hand and sank it into her silken hair. Then with infinite tenderness, he ran his fingertips along the scar before her left ear, causing her to tremble. Emboldened by her response, he slowly leaned over until his lips brushed against the scar. The sweet and wild taste of her short-circuited his mind and flooded his body and his heart. He stayed there for a while, tasting her skin with light, languorous touches of his tongue.
Catherine groaned, unbearably stimulated by Vincent’s instinctive sensuality. She felt his hand cup and knead the back of her head while his mouth continued to work its magic. She relaxed, surrendering herself completely to the moment.
Overjoyed at her reaction, Vincent left her scar to cover her eyelids with passionate kisses; then he bestowed his adoration upon her brow and her nose with unhurried movements. When he reached her right cheekbone, she moaned with sudden pain, her swollen, bruised skin still sensitive because of the recent attack. Wanting only to replace her suffering with pleasure, he moved to her left cheek, where he worshipped her with breathtaking gentleness.
He stopped for a few seconds, their brows touching and their breaths mingling hotly. Slowly and hesitantly, Vincent placed his lips upon Catherine’s, causing both of them to sigh with ecstasy. When he moved his mouth back and forth along hers, he was rewarded with her loud groan. His tongue timidly explored her lower lip, taking her taste into his mouth over and over again. He was drowning in those devastating sensations, his body completely in tune with hers.
Catherine’s tongue delicately stroked Vincent’s upper lip, eliciting a satisfied growl from him, but when she delved into the cleft, sweetly licking his inner flesh, his growl exploded into a powerful roar. Shocked and ashamed, he immediately drew away from her, his face hidden by his long hair.
Understanding his feelings, she raised his chin and gently took his face into her hands. But he would not look at her. She whispered his name three times before he could muster enough courage to look into her eyes. She was smiling, her face alive with love for him.
"Don’t be afraid to follow your heart, Vincent," she murmured.
"I frightened you, Catherine," he replied apologetically, his heart heavy with guilt.
"You didn’t frighten me. You surprised me," she added sotto voce.
"You are not scared?" he whispered, a ray of hope timidly finding its path to his heart.
"How could I be scared when you just showed me your love in all its breathtaking beauty?" she told him sincerely.
Vincent looked at her intensely; then his surprise gradually turned into unending joy when the feelings in their bond confirmed her words. He smiled tenderly.
Catherine’s heart melted. Unable to restrain herself, she embraced his powerful frame and hugged him tightly.
He returned her embrace, sinking his face into her neck. "I love you," he whispered huskily, his voice vibrating hotly against her skin.
Overwhelmed, Catherine hugged him even tighter, weaving her hands into his thick mane. "I love you, too," she uttered ecstatically, over and over again.
They held each other for a long time; then reluctantly, he drew away.
"You are tired, Catherine. And your face hurts," he said in a grave tone. "You need to take care of those bruises before …."
"Shhh," she interrupted him, tenderly placing her finger on his mouth. "I will, Vincent. I will. Don’t worry," she said. Smiling, she sensually moved her finger along his cleft, and he gasped, mesmerized. "But first," she added in a husky voice, "I want your promise that you won’t leave."
Unable to tear his eyes from her, he nodded in awe. She kissed him lightly on his mouth and left the bed, moving toward the bathroom. Before she closed the door behind her, she turned and whispered, "It won’t take long."
Vincent stared at the door for some time, his mind a jumble of ecstatic thoughts and feelings. Suddenly, his happiness was replaced by doubts and fears; he stood and moved quickly towards the balcony doors, determined to leave. In that exact moment, the bathroom door opened. He turned around against his own will and was transfixed: Catherine was standing there, wearing a translucent nightgown that enhanced the perfection of her body. He was completely paralyzed.
Catherine moved toward him with sensual grace and did not stop until she was a few inches from him, her head slightly lifted, her eyes shining. He could feel her warm breath upon his face, and the last of his defenses melted under the onslaught of her love and passion. He tenderly took her into his arms and bestowed a chaste kiss upon her brow. She wrapped her arms around his neck and closed her eyes, sighing with happiness.
Vincent enclosed her in a tight embrace, pulling her supple body against his hard one and savoring the physical and emotional sensations that full-length touch created in both of them. Their bond was becoming a living entity, letting them share every imperceptible nuance of their feelings.
He wondered whether he was doing the right thing. Amused, he shook his head. He knew that he was following his heart, and his heart led him to Catherine. That was all that mattered.
Together, they moved toward the bed and sat down. After looking at each other longingly, they embraced and kissed tenderly. And as they did, their love blossomed and carried them away into an overwhelming ocean of unending passion and all-encompassing love.