I Carry Your Heart - Chapter 5

~ Pull of Responsibility




The morning dawned with the dream of soft lips brushing the bare skin of her shoulder, pursuing with gentle curiosity the pulse of her, up to her ear ... of his voice, close, keen with ardor ...

Wake now, Catherine. Soon I must go.


The desire to remain fixed within the dream warred with the sun and the alarm and the pull of responsibility. She opened her eyes, accepted his absence. Noises from the kitchen announced her company. Catherine padded out to her living room where Jamie had set out mugs and butter and jam.

“Morning,” Jamie said. “You need to go shopping. Your cupboards are kind of bare.”

Catherine pushed the hair from her face. “I know! I’ve been a little … distracted.”

“You’re looking a little bony, don’t you think?” Jamie observed. “And bony's not a good look for you.”

“Let me get a shower. I’ll just be a few minutes. Don’t leave, okay?”

“I’m going to rummage your cabinets some more.”

There was a breakfast of fruit and toast and hot tea ready when Catherine emerged, her hair still damp. “Jamie, you sweetheart. This is so nice. I can’t tell you how happy I am that you came to visit. And now breakfast! I wish I didn’t have to go in. I'd rather stay and talk.”

The sun touched the balcony, sending ribbons of light through the parted sheers. Jamie turned a crystal juice glass in her hand, dancing rainbows across the table.

“You have so many pretty things. It’s like a fairy tale up here.”

Catherine reached out, her hand closing over Jamie’s. “Everything will work out. It will.”

___

The teapot empty, the stack of toast devoured, Catherine could wait no longer. “Jamie,” she ventured, hesitation in her voice. “Can you tell me? Vincent ... how is he? It’s been ... a while since I’ve seen him.”

“Well ...” Jamie searched the ceiling for words. “He’s been ... broody. Apart from us. Apart from Father. Physically there, but ... retreated. I found him once at the pools under the falls, swimming hard, over and back. He didn’t see me though. Then he left for some private place a few days ago. He does that sometimes.”

Catherine toyed with her spoon. She should have been with him. She should have held him, read to him, swam with him, combed out his hair. She felt a heat rising to her cheek, a sharp twinge in her chest.

Jamie continued. “Then right before ... before Mouse ... before Father ... Vincent seemed ... I don't know exactly. He’d just come back and I’m sure he was going to you, Catherine. He was way down the Tunnels when Father sent a message on the pipes for him to return, that it was Urgent. And you know Vincent. He came back.”

Easily enough, Catherine could sense Jamie’s gathering energy. She shifted in her chair, her face telegraphing exasperation and then … something else. Wonderment. Possibilities.

“What will you do when Mouse comes back?”

“I’m going to undo … all this.”

“You know Father loves you, loves you both, Jamie. He wants to spare you hurt and disappointment.”

Spare me?" Jamie sputtered. "What kind of life is that? I want some of that, the high, light feelings ... and that means I have to risk the rest. I know, I know. I should be careful and I should be sure. Father thinks I'm still a child. You surely understand the decision is mine to make. I mean, Mouse ... he may pursue me in his own way." She interrupted herself with a bark of laughter. "But he'll wait for me to say yes or no. And knowing Mouse, if I don’t get right on it, he’ll be too embarrassed now to ever make a move on his own. His confidence ... well, he knows what he knows but with girls ... with women ... I think I’ve got my work cut out for me.”

“You’ve come to meaningful conclusions awfully fast,” Catherine said. “All this from a single touch, from one sentence?”

“From one sentence fragment,” Jamie said with a broadening smile.

A sideways glance at the mantle clock made her wince. “I’m going to have to leave soon. I can try to get off early. We could go out, maybe do some shopping."

"I should go back after all. There're some things I need to do."

"Do you know ... do you have any idea how long Vincent and Mouse will be gone?"

"I can ask William how much food they packed. That should give us a guess about how many days. Vincent's appetite ... well, he can go longer than Mouse without eating, but Mouse gets antsy. You want to avoid that."

"Can you send a message when you find out, or, if they’re back, let me know right away?"

"Sure. I can do that. I will. I promise."

Catherine had gathered her things for work and about to leave when Jamie called to her from the kitchen. She hurried into the room, drying her hands on a towel.

“There’s something else I need to talk to you about, Catherine. Two things, really. Serious things. I need to see Peter.”

“Peter? You mean, a doctor? Instead of Father?"

“Yes, Peter instead of Father. Sometimes, we need ... you know ... privacy.”

“Privacy. Oh, right. Of course. I understand.” Catherine blushed, a match for Jamie’s deepening color. “Do you want me to go with you?”

“No, no. No. It’s okay. It’s fine. But do you think I could borrow some of your clothes so I don’t stand out like the proverbial thumb in the waiting room? And could you call him, tell him I’m coming by this morning? He’ll see me whenever I get there.”

“Of course I will. I’ll call first thing. You can borrow anything you like. Don’t worry about getting it back to me.” A silence settled between them, the first issue broached and closed. It was the second that loomed, a sudden chilling shadow. Catherine leaned against the back of the couch, her coat over her arm, watching as Jamie paced a tight circle in the room.

"There is something bothering me. Something has to change Below. About Vincent. About what happened when we were attacked, when that Tong gang ... and Paracelsus ... when those ... outsiders killed Randolph. It’s not right!” Jamie burst out. “It’s not right for Vincent to have the burden of protecting us all alone. It isn’t fair that he has to go out by himself. Someone has to go with him. William’s right when he says we have to fight back. Vincent isn't there for us to use. We can't just assume he'll always make the sacrifice for us while we sit, or hide. I can’t bear it again. It tears him up inside after, while we’re reading a book and having a nice cup of tea. Remember Winslow! I think about it ... what might have happened if I hadn’t followed them down that time. We might have lost Pascal. Vincent too. You.

“I know you took self-defense lessons. That’s what I want to do. I want to learn to fight back when I have to. Not just me. There’re a few of us who can’t wait around anymore. Would you get us a teacher? Your teacher maybe? Someone who won’t ask questions we can’t answer? I know he helped you once, helped you find Vincent. And that’s not all. I want to learn to shoot, shoot true the first time, if that time comes.”

Darkness seemed to creep from the corners of the room, a disorienting swirl of fog that seized at her ankles. Catherine struggled for a response, Vincent's sure rejection ... Father's veto ... emphatic in her imagination. Jamie stood before her loose-limbed, shoulders squared, armed only with courage, with commitment and will. She reached for Jamie's hand, pulled her into an embrace.

"I will," she whispered. "I will."




___________________

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6 comments:

Brandy said...

Ooh, I love that opening sentence. And the sexual tension just sweeps in and leaves one breathless.

I love how directly Jamie confronts things. She reminds me of a friend who's originally from Boston, and who has had a hard time adapting to the "Minnesota Nice" aspect of the Twin Cities. It really means passive-aggressive, and she will so not put up with that bullshit. She and Jamie speak their mind and face things fully. And then rant and rail to friends when they get frustrated. :)

Carole W said...

Thanks Brandy! There are a lot of (too short! yes!!) chapters of 'lead up'. I was hoping to build to the climax, so to speak. I'm glad you liked it.

I wonder if Minnesota Nice is the same as Southern Nice - bet it is. :-)

Sonia Who? said...

Ch. 5

Again that wonderful, tantalizing dream. I can just imagine Catherine having such a dream each morning.

I agree wholeheartedly with Jamie, especially about not letting Vincent take all the responsibility of protecting them.

Another great chapter.

Carole W said...

Thank you, dear Sonia. You're willingness to reread this is making me smile!

AZLadyWolf said...

Okay, I'm slow. I just found your site, and it's like putting a banquet before a starving person!! I'm at work (ha!), and am forcing myself to stop at Chapter 5 to let you know how much I love your story, so I can squeeze in more chapters before I have to return to my job! You really have the characters -- great job!!!!

Carole W said...

AZLW! It's exciting for me to have a new reader and I am so pleased to know you're enjoying the story so far. Thank you!

Carole