Winterfest was in full swing. Father was pleasantly conversing with Mary and Peter. Pascal had left his beloved pipes for a short time and was enjoying Rebecca’s company, his portable banging equipment in his hands—just in case. Jamie was trying to dissuade Mouse from taking apart her new walkman, a gift from Michael during his most recent visit.
Vincent was standing near the stairs. His loving gaze was on Catherine, who was dancing with Jeffrey, her most fervent admirer. He observed her graceful movements, her body perfectly in tune with the music. She was smiling tenderly and innocently at the boy, but her eyes expressed a deep longing. Vincent knew. ‘She would make such a wonderful mother,’ he whispered. When the dance was over, he walked towards her, determined to steal her back before other children could beg for her attention.
Feeling his eyes on her, Catherine turned just in time to see him stride majestically in her direction, a look of pure adoration in his intense blue eyes. She smiled radiantly and sighed. ‘He always takes my breath away.’ She extended her hands to him, and he took them with extraordinary gentleness.
"You are glowing tonight, Catherine," Vincent whispered.
"It’s because of you, Vincent," she flirted amiably.
He bent his head, letting his mane cover his flushed cheeks. Despite his shyness, he was pleased by her compliment.
He was about to reply when Samantha called for everybody’s attention in the middle of the Great Hall. It was clear that she was extremely excited.
"Father says it’s time for a game," she almost shouted.
At that moment Zach arrived, carrying a carton box. After he placed it on the floor, Samantha explained that the people were supposed to pair together and take an orange from the box.
Giggling, Catherine took Vincent’s hand, dragged him to the middle of the room, and picked up an orange. When every couple had one, Samantha continued her explanation.
"Now you have to face each other and place the orange between your brows. You must do your best to keep it there while dancing to the music. But remember: your bodies cannot touch in any way, or you’ll be eliminated."
"Oh, I love this game," Catherine exclaimed enthusiastically. "You’ll see, Vincent. It’ll be a lot of fun."
Vincent was not entirely sure. He did not know if being that close to her was a good idea, especially in front of some many people. He noticed her wicked look and suddenly became apprehensive. ‘What is she planning?’ Yet he surrendered when he saw Catherine’s pleading eyes. He sighed. He could not deny her anything.
Their difference in height was not doing things any easier. He timidly suggested a rematch, but she adamantly refused.
"You’ll only have to bend your head a little bit, Vincent," she said with apparent nonchalance. And she smiled to him. A very wicked smile!
Vincent shuddered. The hair on the back on his neck stood up, and he suddenly found the temperature in the Great Hall extremely uncomfortable.
Catherine walked up to him and placed her hands on his shoulders, slowly pulling him down towards her. Her eyes were unreadable. He tried to focus on her feelings, but she had suddenly closed their connection.
‘Why?’ he wondered. ‘There is no reason to do that unless…unless….’ Vincent swallowed nervously. Now he knew she was really up to something.
When their faces were close enough, Catherine put the orange between their brows and gave him an enigmatic look.
They were only a few inches away, and Vincent realized he had never looked at her at such a close distance, at least not with her looking back at him with such intensity. ‘Too close,’ he thought alarmed.
The music started, and they began to move slowly. Vincent wanted to keep the orange exactly where it was. His position was delicate enough the way it was, with her unnerving gaze fixed on him.
Unfortunately for him, Catherine was absolutely determined to spice things up a little. She moved so suddenly that Vincent could not counteract her movements in time. The orange slid down his face, and she caught it against his neck, just below his jaw.
The new arrangement pleased Catherine greatly. She casually found her mouth extremely close to Vincent’s skin and took advantage of the lucky coincidence. She gently placed her lips on his neck and moved them slowly and sensually.
It was a barely perceptible touch, but it was enough to make Vincent gasp.
Encouraged by his reaction, Catherine kissed his neck passionately, making him growl. She interrupted her kiss and looked at him. She gasped. She had never seen such burning heat in his eyes.
Suddenly, Vincent took Catherine into his arms, kissed her hungrily, and strode out of the Great Hall with great speed and a new determination. He could think of a couple of exciting ways to play with oranges.