Iron Behind the Velvet ~ Chapter 38

~ O, Sweet Fancy! Let Her Loose 1

Make a wish ...

Central Park, petal-strewn walkway
She took up her fork, though her hand shook and the tines chattered against the ironstone china. Once she might have longed for him to sit with her at this table, might have railed against the fates that kept them from sharing a simple slice of pie in a diner. She might have pined for the freedom to wander streets together hand-in-hand at noon, to stroll the park’s pathways, to shuffle through petals rained to the ground. It would have proved a barren asking, her answer a ringing never.

There is no life without limits ...

She’d proclaimed that, believed it. Now, as if a stone were tossed into a still lake, ever-expanding circles rippled from their deep center, crest and trough, cause and effect.

We don’t know what the limits are ...

On the tabletop, Martin tapped out a syncopated message, a slow heartbeat’s rhythm and he began a soft-hummed melody, his expression so open, so patient ... Tears welled again. He clucked his encouragement, walking two fingers across the cherry-red formica to her bone-white plate, thumping its rim with one.

Come, she heard. Wish now.

It would be enough, more than enough, if he might push open the door with the certainty of welcome, her world finally theirs. She could see it – as if it were already memory – a dinner out of doors amidst the blooming roses, safe behind the high walls and in the company of friends. She heard his laughter, his free and sounding peal; his voice, deep and musical ... saw the play of sun on his hair.

Take it, Catriona. The bite, the wish bite.

She did ... and it was melting and sweet and warm. Like his kiss. Light bloomed behind her eyelids as she swallowed. Her wish was for him.


“I’m just over to Queens Hospital now. Will you ride with me? A taxi’s more quickly found there than here, and I’ll confess to wanting more of your company, if only for the few minutes ride.”

“I should call Joe, let him know I’m on my way.” She picked up the angle scope, offering it back, but he shook his head and hid his hands under the table.

“No, ‘tis yours. Take it to him, to Vincent. Perhaps it’s a key of sorts. Tell him I’ve a box of mysteries in need of explanation, that I’m guessing he’ll have the stories. And that there’s a finger or two of the Green Spot left yet and in need of sharing.”

“What is that – the Green Spot? You mentioned it before,” she said, tucking the toy into her purse.

“Ah, only the finest Irish whiskey, bettered by the necessity to smuggle it into this country. A perk of wearing the black coat and the white collar when I travel, it is, that I’m not much inspected through customs.”

“Whiskey!” A hollow knock sounded in her memory. A headache!  This morning I had– I felt–  She chuffed in surprise.

Roederer Cristal Champagne
A single beer, a glass of red wine – these were his self-imposed limits and even on the most festive of occasions he’d rarely finish this. Only once had he succumbed to more and then to champagne, a wedding gift from Iris and Phillip, a Roederer Cristal. She’d poured and its color matched his hair, burnished gold in the flute. On the sofa in their atrium, in the stream of light into their chambers below, they’d murmured love-words against skin, tasted the lush-peach and white-flower on the other’s lips and tongue. A second glass ... a third. His hand closed over her breast with a thrilling insistence and a dark need rumbled from his throat, a sultry, greedy language. But suddenly he set her from his lap and went striding for the bathing chamber. She followed, past a trail of cast-off clothing, finding him beneath the fall of water, his head thrown back. I’m sorry, Catherine. I shouldn’t drink. I cannot allow–  But she launched into his arms, her mouth on his to stop his apology, guiding wary hands again to her breasts, glorying in the drag of wet silk, at the tug and rip of straps ...

The front door opened with a swoosh. A crash and a shout thundered from the kitchen. A diner. In Queens, she recalled. With a priest. She flushed. Even the tips of her ears were pink, she knew. But Martin’s eyes twinkled; his lips quirked at the corners. He pushed a glass of water closer to her hand.  Beaded on the outside, fresh with ice ... when had Nessa filled it?

“Not his drink of choice, is it? He did mention I was a bad influence.”

If I no longer deny that part of me ... if I can give that darkness some freedom ... it will lose 
power ... 

“On the contrary, Martin, I think he must feel very comfortable with you.” A wave of anticipation broke over her and she took a grateful sip. Another. Things will be different. She was desperate for home, for him.

“So you’ll tell him, will you, how much I enjoyed his company?”

“You might see him before I do,” she admitted.

Hmmm. He did say he was working far from home. But you can visit him, no? You were still in Woodlawn, you said, yesterday – Eimear, the laundromat and all.”

Her stomach knotted. Her habit, her promise, was to protect, always. To conceal. Comfortable, yes, he must have been, and yet he’d not– The red cross-hatched design of the tabletop blurred. She layered her cup and saucer on her plate, gathered the silverware, folded her hands in her lap.

“There are things I can’t reveal until I speak with him, Martin. It’s not that I ... even though ...”

“Shame on me for prying. I can’t help but be curious, and though I plied your Vincent with whiskey and you with pie, I’ll not badger you further. Just know that ... that I’ve spent a lifetime believing, that to me, the unexplained is glorious.” He patted her hand.  “Forgive me?”

Their conversation could go no farther. Not today. Not here. She knew that. “There are so many coincidences, Martin, but  I–”

Ach.” He winced, a look cast upward. “We must find another word. Let’s say this instead. It’s been a journey up all sides of the mountain, and just now, we’re in each other’s sight. When we all reach the pinnacle ...” He paused and tipped his head. “All of us, Catriona.”

And suddenly she felt so light.

A pale green check was secured under the coffee urn. He inched it out and, peering at it over the rims of his glasses, opened his wallet.

“Let me get that,” Catherine protested. “You didn’t even order!”

“No way,” he returned, grinning, she was sure, at her dropped jaw, at her undisguised surprise – as fond as if she’d heard Father declare something Groovy. “Run along,” he said, shooing her out of the booth. “Make your call. I’ll meet you outside.


“You never know where he will take you – around this bend, beneath that bridge – but if you are his quiet companion ...” Father’s was the mesmerizing tone that for years held his pupils stock-still in their seats, that froze their pencils poised above their notebooks. Over his spectacles, he scrutinized his students. “And I emphasize the word quiet. This is to be a silent excursion, a communion. What did Thoreau say?

Each town should have a park!” Geoffrey shouted.

Or rather a primitive forest!” Eric leapt from the bottom rung of the circular stair, triumphant fist in the air.

“And how large should it be?” Father closed his book on a marker and leaned forward. “Samantha? We’ve not heard from you.”

Five hundred to a thousand acres, Father, where a stick should never be cut for fuel, a common possession forever,but you know they can’t do it. They won’t - can’t - be quiet.” She folded her arms and slumped deeper into the corner of her armchair, offering a sniff of disdain. Geoffrey and Eric stared at each other for a moment, their lips pinched together between forefingers and thumbs, then burst into rowdy laughter.

Harummmph.” Father coaxed his glasses from his nose,  “Well, then,” he said, tapping the folded earpieces on the edge of his desk. “I must appoint a chaperone ... someone who will ...”

Nooooooo,” Kipper protested, his boy’s voice cracking. Eric elbowed him from one side, Geoffrey from the other. Samantha rolled her eyes.

“Yes. A chaperone,” Mary called from the doorway, a dozen hand-stitched collecting bags in her arms. “Brooke has an appointment in the city this afternoon. She can walk up with you ... watch you ... for a while. And Zach has a free afternoon. I just passed him going for a swim. I’m sure you can catch him if you’ll hurry.” Like racehorses quivering at the gate, as one, the students shifted an anxious gaze from Mary to Father. At his nod, the boys broke from their seats, jockeying for the lead on the short flight of steps.

“I wish you’d take us up, Father,” Samantha said, gripping the railing, reluctant to follow. “They’ll be Thoreau-ing rocks in the lagoon. Or their shoes.”

Or each other, Father thought. A discreet cough disguised the curve of a smile. “But you, my dear ... you understand, don’t you? The meaning of Thoreau-ing? You’ll find a treasure ... several, I’ve no doubt. And tomorrow, you’ll share your traipse through the woods with me. And it will be as if I’m there myself, borne along on your words. Now, off you go. And Samantha ...”

In the doorway, she was haloed by the light from the corridor and Father felt a tightening in his chest, the scratch of tears. Such a serious turn she’s taken of late. “Be careful. Home before dark.”

Her edict – No nonsense, now! – a fading echo in the corridor, Mary lingered in the passage, her arms crossed.

“Well staged, Mary,” Father said, beckoning her with his outstretched hand. “A swim you said! In the words of the young these days ... he wishes! Zach was grateful to be relieved of kitchen duty, I imagine. What did you promise William in exchange for his liberty.” He ushered her to his big chair.

“I simply asked,” Mary said. “William is mellowing, I think.”

“Ah, yes. So I’ve noticed.” His brows raised in inquiry, he gestured to the tea tray.

Mary answered with a half-smile, settling her shawl about her shoulders. “Samantha’s grown so. All of them have. Kipper’s voice ... breaking already.”

“I know, I know. Where have the years flown, Mary? You seem unchanged, while I ...”

“You went Above not long ago, Jacob. That night ... to welcome Billy home. If you wanted ...”

“To see the sun again? My last foray in daylight ended–”

“With Margaret’s return to you.”

He hunched his shoulder, scrubbing his cheek against the fabric of his robe. “Yes,” he said, as he measured leaves into the warmed china teapot. Steam from the kettle curled in the air, fanned away by his long sigh.

“You sound like Vincent, you know. So much conveyed in that single word.” She reached for the book on his desk, opening it to the marked page. “Will you miss these classes when he returns? The literature study was once yours and yours alone. And you were quite good at it. I remember the suppertime discussions, the fire you kindled in your students.” She unfolded the place-holder. “Are these your notes?”

Father eased into a chair pushed knee-to-knee with Mary’s. “No, they’re Vincent’s ... how he planned perhaps to illustrate Thoreau.”

Mary handed the paper over and Father tipped the words to the pool of light beneath the candelabra.

Dark WoodsWhen I would recreate myself, I seek the darkest woods, the thickest and most interminable, the most dismal swamp. I enter a swamp as a sacred place – a sanctum sanctorum. There is the strength, the marrow of (my) Nature.3

The words hovered in the air, then spiraled away. “He added a word, I think,” Father said. The parchment quivered in his hand. “My nature.”

“Is that all?” Mary asked, stilling the movement with her touch.

“No,” he stammered. “There’s more ... copied out under her name. Catherine.” He paused ... drew breath.

Sunlit stream bank, Autumn
One day the sun shall shine more brightly than ever he has done, shall perchance shine into our minds and hearts, and light up our whole lives with a great awakening light, as warm and serene and golden as on a bankside in autumn ..." 4

Father squinted, blinked, the brilliance nearly pain. “How I wanted him to know that golden bankside, the heat on his face and shoulders. If only ...”

Her fingers closed on his wrist, cool and sure. “Nothing is impossible, Jacob. We’ve learned that. All of us. And I don’t doubt that one fine day Catherine will take him there, in body, as she has already in spirit.” She fell silent, her ear turned as if toward some faint chime.

He nodded ... and waited. “Well?”

“Well, what?” she asked, a flickered glance his way.

“Do I live another day?” He captured her hand as she withdrew it, his thumb buffing the knobbed ridge of her knuckles. “My pulse, like a soft drum, beats my approach, tells thee I come.5

And slow howe’er my marches be, I shall at last sit down by thee.6 She pulled from his grasp and patted his arm. “You are sound, Father Jacob. But ... no standing on your head.” 7

“You’ll have no argument from me.” Father chuckled. “Oh, but there was a time. There was, indeed.”

Mary rose and readied the tea. The porcelain cups tinged as she set them out. “You’re low on sugar cubes. I’ll bring some straightaway.” She lifted a crockery lid, let it clatter back into place. “There were cookies here yesterday,” she mumbled.

“I heard that,” Father said. “And it wasn’t I who ate them. Not to the last. I gave them to my students ... for good behavior.”

“A bribe or a reward? Jacob, you’ll ruin their appetites for a proper meal.”

“Nonsense. They’re peckish after an hour of study. And they’ll run it off.”

“I suppose.” The scent of cinnamon and plums and licorice wafted from the spout, the tea rising deep magenta in the cup as Mary poured. “I was rather fancying a shortbread, but at least you didn’t feed them to Arthur. Where is he, by the way? Not in your drawer this time.”

“He’s asleep, um, in my wardrobe. In a tangle of scarf and sweater from Mouse’s room. He’s lonesome for him,” Father said, fiddling with a carved wooden box on his desk. A drawer slid out and he extracted two golden, stippled fingers of pastry, held them in his open palm. At her purr of delight, he beamed. “You’re in good spirits, Mary.”

She made a singing sound low in her throat and took the proffered cookie.

“How was your date?”

“It’s ... ummm ... tomorrow.”

“Where will you go?”

“Sebastian intends to ... surprise me.”


“You can too, you know.”

“Can what? Go along? I don’t imagine–”

“No!” She blushed and tidied a strand of hair. “I mean, you can still be surprised. It’s not too late, even for us, Jacob, if we’ll just ... permit ourselves.”

Father shrugged and sipped his tea. I wish. The valley of years was behind him; he scuffled through fallen leaves, and yet ... He sipped again, parting the branches before the unexplored path. And yet ... 

“You’ll tell me all about your ... outing ... day after tomorrow?”

“That’s not likely, Jacob,” she said, her teacup halfway to her lips.

“So,” he said, grinning surrender around a bite of shortbread. “Brooke is going up top today? An appointment? With whom?”

“Peter’s arranged for her to shadow a nurse-friend of his at the clinic where he volunteers some evenings. St. Ann’s. The midwifery program.”

“St. Ann’s? That’s in the Bronx! She’ll not be home till midnight!”

“Jacob, you sound like Brooke’s ... father! She’ll be fine. Peter will get her safely there and see her safely home. He’s arranged an afternoon for her at his side later this week. At Queens Hospital. He volunteers there as well, you know.”

“So she’s serious about this plan of study. She’ll be leaving us, Mary. First Laura, then Michael. Now Brooke. Given the grousing I hear from Dominic, I determine Aniela and Damien are quite serious. I suppose he’ll be next.” He rose and shuffled to his long table. From an urn he pulled a tube of maps, untied the jute string and spread the pages flat.

“Aniela’s a lovely girl,” Mary said, chasing a crumb of shortbread at the corner of her mouth. “But I don’t have the impression that Damien intends to leave. What ever are you looking for?”

“I know that hospital. I once–” He bent to the maps, shuffling one to the top of the stack. “Yes. There’s an entrance nearby and according to the plans I have, a work crew should be stationed there. Perhaps she could carry messages.”

“You mean, she might bring us information. I know it’s quiet. Too quiet. But we’d have heard if there were serious problems. We must trust, Jacob, that others can and will. ”  Mary hooked her arm with his, urging him back to his chair. “Let Brooke have this time without expectation or added task. Heavens knows I volunteered her to watch the boys in the park beforehand, though she seemed amiable enough. She’s anxious we won’t take her seriously.”

“Well, not a year ago, she was determined to become a baker. And the year before that, a weaver.”

“I think you’re mistaken. She was barely twelve when Sarah taught her to warp the looms. And thirteen the summer William apprenticed her. ”

“That long ago?” Father sat down hard in his seat, both hands on the cane between his knees. “I worry that she’ll set her heart for Michael to find he’s moved far from the tunnels. Catherine says–”

“He tested out of more than a year’s worth of classes. He’s taking heavy loads. He’s already considering graduate programs,” Mary said, finishing his sentence. “In Pennsylvania. Virginia. North Carolina. Chicago.”

“Chicago?” Father shuddered. “The cold! But indeed the world awaits him. He has so much to offer.”

“He does and you should be proud, but all our children do, Jacob. They will travel in a wide circle and some of them ... some of them ... will return to the tunnels. We must encourage Brooke. After all, our professions ... we ... will need replacements.” She brushed his cheek with the back of her fingers.

Acknowledgement was a stone between his teeth. Wordless, his jaw worked at the grit, but acceptance flooded in, clear water washing a dry creek bed. He caught her hand in his, pressed a kiss to her fingertips ... managed a small smile, an incline of his head that passed for a nod. “Yes.”

A second cup of tea poured, Mary broke the silence grown companionable and familiar. “We need to talk about Olivia.”


“Althea’s distress. Do you think it’s truly colic?”

“She nurses and takes some solid food; she’s gaining appropriately. Her heart is strong and her lungs ...” Father rubbed at his ears. “She’s second in endurance for crying only to Vincent as a baby. I don’t want add to Olivia’s burden, but as I believed then, I do now. Althea’s is a cry of loss. She ... illustrates ... what her mother feels.”

“Endurance.” Mary worried her bottom lip. “I’m wondering how much more Olivia can bear.”

“Postpartum? Certainly I’ve considered that, though it’s onset coincided more with–”

“Kanin’s return.”

“Yes. In the weeks following Althea’s birth, in comparison, Olivia was ... serene.” Taking up his teaspoon, he tapped a few prayerful words on the rim of his cup. “This separation is most inopportune.”

“Speaking of entrances in the Bronx ...” Mary said.

“Were we?”

“Dix and Brenda’s shop. They’re renovating the upper floors, you know.”

“I seem to remember Brenda saying it’s a very slow project for them.”

“But they have an apartment, an empty apartment. A simple room but a private one. It might be good for them. A change of scenery.”

“I’m afraid I don’t follow.”

“Oh, dear. You’re surely more of a romantic than that!”

Father wrinkled his brow at a sudden skid onto ice, a loss of footing. He shook his head. “Of what ... or of whom are we ... speaking?”

“Of Olivia, Jacob! And Kanin!” Mary leaned forward, her fingers wrapping the arms of her chair, her words a whispery siss at his ear. “Privacy! It was ... useful ... for Vincent and Catherine. Remember?” Her hand fluttered to her throat, pale in contrast to her rose-feathered blush. “They’re so exposed – everybody tiptoeing around them. You see, I have an idea ...”


Nessa squeezed her shoulders; Gus offered a silent wave. She stepped from the restaurant and knew a moment of worry, that the time with Martin might be suddenly awkward. But he filled the minutes with chatter and story, and it was ... easy ... as if they’d known each other years instead of hours.

“Do you know the story of the Tuatha dé Danann, Catriona. Of the aos sí?” He waited barely a heartbeat for her answer. “In the old days, the Men of Dea came to Ireland on flying ships, descending from a dense, cloaking cloud. And finding it the most beautiful land in all the world and never wanting to leave, they burned their winged boats behind them. The smoke is the great gray mist that hovers over home today.
Fairy Mound, misty Irish day

“They were a magical people but not invincible, and when they were defeated by the Milesians, they retreated to an underground other-world – Eire. Grand defenders of justice they were, among the mortals, among whom they loved to ... walk, appearing between dusk and dawn when the walls between the worlds were thinnest. Great heroes were born of the aos si and humans – Cúchulainn and Meave. The Church grudgingly calls them fallen angels, but we know they’re fairy folk. Not your little flower fairy, now, nor your woodland sprite. The aos sí were a beautiful people, strong and tall, with flowing red-gold hair and noble faces.

“Like Rosie’s statue. The Gregorii ...”

“Well, sort of,” Martin said.

They were stopped at a traffic light and through its cycle of arrows, he was turned to her, silent, watchful. She struggled to keep her expression curious but neutral, her eyes on the road, her lip ... unbitten. Red flashed to green, and they rolled through the intersection.

illustration, Riders of the Sidhe
“In Lisdoonvarna,” he went on, “in a ruined chapel, there’s a tapestry hung – riders of the Sidhe outfitted with banner and lance, disappearing beneath the earth into the fairy mounds. When St. Patrick arrived, the old ones were denied and the barriers between Eire and the world above grew more difficult to traverse. Many aos sí  were caught above and destroyed. Yet some escaped to the new land, to America, blending with the great wave of immigrants – Oghma, the god of strength and eloquence; Lugh, the god of light and skill; Dian Cecht, the god of healing; Brigid, goddess of fire and poetry. Though they are few, they walk among us, their progeny does, even today.”

“Why ... why are you telling me this?” she stammered. Once she’d asked how. Once she might have sought an answer. Considered one, even this one. Now, there was only Vincent. Only him.

He kept his attention to the road. “‘Tis just a story, Catriona. One I thought you might enjoy.”

“Do you believe in fairies? In the aos sí?”

“Of course not.” A wide smile creased his face. “But you must be quiet. Hush with such questions. They’ll hear you.”

Her moment of resistance passed. Laughing, she leaned her head against the cool window. Traffic was heavier; the sign for Queens Hospital just ahead. I don’t want to go back to work.

“In my youth,” Martin said, “I was sure of so many things. My sight was narrow and I adored the words no and it cannot be. These days – my last, I know – I’m stirred by the widening path, enticed by the overlook into the broad valley, yes and why not my favorite words.”

“Your last? What do you mean?”

“There’s no denying I’m an old man. I’ll retire one day, perhaps soon. I’m not knowing the number of years left for me, but I do intend to embrace them.”

“Retire? I guess I never thought ... What does that mean, exactly? Will you live at ...”

“At Maryfields?” Martin’s sigh was deep. “‘Tis not my plan, but you know how awry those sometimes go. If I’m granted my wish, I’ll buy the home I have now.”

“Buy the church?”

“The little places like mine, losing parishioners to the larger, flashier ones ... The Church is selling off much of that sort of property, a piece or two now and then. The small sanctuaries, the wee schools – they can make nice homes with a bit of work. And I do have a dream ...”

“Tell me,” she prompted, shifting in her seat.

“A school of my own, for music and song and dance. Perhaps rebuilding a bit to let a few rooms to old musicians in exchange for their teaching. We can be a penniless lot. The work’d give purpose to their day.”

“Would it be expensive?”

“Quite. But my brothers each left me small legacies. ‘Tis the way it’s done for clergy in our families and I’ve made a few investments. There’s the hope of a grant, says Eimear. Plus I’m angling for an insider’s discount. Due, I think I am.”

Catherine was silent as Martin showed his pass to the attendant and advanced through the gate. “But what if ...” she began.

“What if I can’t buy this one? I’d look out for another, I suppose. There’d be nothing else for me in Woodlawn, but perhaps near Rosie ... There was mention once of a small school expected to close and not a block from her, though the area there’s a bit more dear. I’ll hang on as long as I can, to the last of this parish’s existence, and hope for the best in the afterward.” His shoulders rose and fell as he glided into a space and braked to a stop. “I can’t imagine moving away.”

“Your dream ... it sounds wonderful. Perfect for you. You’d be with Eimear still. You’d have your garden.”

“And,” he said, meeting her gaze, “I’d have my doorways.”


Martin was right about the ease of hailing a cab. He’d taken her elbow lightly in his grip, steering her past two cars waiting at the curb to a third.

“Bald tires,” he’d whispered. “The both of them.”

She gave her destination and settled into the seat, watching as Martin disappeared, the stream of visitors closing around him.

“Hey! You want I should take the Expressway or Metropolitan Ave?”

“Whichever's the longest,” she said, meeting the driver’s surprised glance in the rear-view mirror. She gave him her brightest smile.

“Got a paper here,” the cabbie said, reaching back with it in his hand. “Want it?”

a sunlit, walled yard
“Sure.” She riffled through the sections, dismissing the Opinion and Business pages, having already read the News and Health and Arts. The unread fold of classifieds and real estate made up the bulk of the offering. Oh, well, she thought, sliding the newspaper to the vinyl beside her.

A small school, a tiny church ... a walled garden.

Frozen for no more than a second, she pulled the section free and, with a squeak of prayer, bent to the listings.

Click HERE for Chapter 39

The painting, "Riders of the Sidhe", is by John Duncan, a Scottish artist, completed in 1912. Click his name to see a few other paintings.

1. John Keats. Fancy. 1820.
2. Henry David Thoreau. Journals. 15 October, 1859.
3. Henry David Thoreau. Walking.
4. Ibid.
5. Henry King, Bishop of Chichester. (1592 - 1669) Exequy on his Wife.
6. Lewis Carroll. Father William. 1903.


Krista said...

Oh, Carole, how lovely this is. You've done an excellent job weaving all the stories together (and oh, that flashback! ::fans self:: :-) Poor Vincent and his wonder though, if he's such a teetotaler. ;-)

I love the "Thoreau-ing," (giggle) and how much depth you've given to minor characters...I love your Mary, and her plans for Kanin and Olivia. One smart lady is your Mary.

And the Irish do know how to make my ears perk up. :-)

Once again--I keep saying this but it's still true. This is a fantastic chapter. Great job :-)

SandyX said...

Oh Carole, I don't know where to start. From the first few beautiful paragraphs, I knew this chapter was going to be special ... the wish ... C's vision of a garden dinner [sigh].

I enjoyed the scene with Father and the children. It's nice to see him being a little less ... gruff. And his interaction with Mary. And Vincent's notes ... the sunshine ... [sigh, again].

Oh, and I do love Martin! I want to know this man. And his school and home for retired musicians - complete with tunnel entrance - sounds heavenly.

Thank you for that steamy gauzy scene - even if it caused C a little blush. This was late night reading for me, but C's remembrance of a champagne influenced Vincent had me wide awake!

And Brooke and Peter ... and Martin at Queens Hospital ... the plot thickens!

You continue to amaze me.

Big appreciative hugs,

Vicky said...

I'm impressed all over do you come up with such an exquisit chapter in the middle of playing many other projects? :-D You're the best, Carole!

"She did ... and it was melting and sweet and warm ... like his kiss  ... long, soft. Light bloomed behind her eyelids as she swallowed. Her wish was for
him." Beautiful...

Oh, mamma mia...Don't you know it's already way too warm where I live? *happy sigh*

Count Krista's and Sandy's words as my own too, ok? The whole thing is just magic!

Thank you, Carole. And big tight hugs in honor of Vincent's birthday!

Joyce said...

Wow Carole - you have done it again. I am at my office and just finished reading this. When Catherine starting thinking back to Vincent's "over-imbibing" and started flashing back I got so warm I had to get up and walk down the hall. Shame on you!

And when Martin said he uses words like "yes" and "why not" - what a world of possibility those words bring to mind.

Keep it coming girl!

RomanticOne said...

Mouse may "know what he knows" but so does Martin - the tall, strong aos si with long golden hair and noble faces. I think Catherine may be surprised at how few will be surprised when they finally look upon Vincent. Also from me, happy birthday to Vincent. From such small beginnings do great miracles grow.

Carole W said...

Thank you, Krista! Sometimes I think I need more pairs of knitting needles and I hope I don't drop any stitches. I so pleased you liked it.

If you needed a good fanning, then I did my job.

I had a wonderful college professor who sent us out Thoreau-ing. (See, Dr. Hayden, I was listening!)

Ahh, Vincent might learn to loosen up yet. It will be a lovely thing and let's all watch, what d'ya say.

Thanks always for your encouragement and support and for reading.
~ Carole

Carole W said...

Wow, Sandy, Thanks! That first little part - the wishes - those 350 words took me three entire days to write. I am so glad you liked that scene. I labored over it, typing and discarding words. What a relief for it to work!

Those Thoreau quotes just seemed to fit perfectly. I'm so glad you liked them.

Martin - I love him too, and I know I've told you about Charlie, my friend on whom he's patterned. There are things that are made up, of course. He didn't have a Lily in his life (that's a story from another priest friend) but the love of music is his and it's his way of speaking and Martin reflects much of his world view. I'm not sure what he'd think about starring in fan fic though! LOL.

Here's a link to a story about him:
Newspaper Article

good, you needed a fan too? I'm so anxious to get those two back together - I hope I'm inspired to write a screen-melter!

You caught it - yes, Peter and Martin at the same hospital! When and how and why will THAT become important information? ;-)

Thank you so much for your comments - I'm humbled and pleased.

~ Carole

Carole W said...

Vicky, it IS Vincent's birthday. I'd lost track of the days.

Thank you for reading and writing; thank you for liking the story. Thanks for feeling the heat! Thank you for using the word 'exquisite' - that is a stunning thought, but I will try my hardest to live up to it.

I've enjoyed writing from Catherine's POV - I feel like there are layers and layers to her that we haven't seen. I want to know her better.

Those other projects ... whooo! I'd better get busy on the homework one (hint hint)


Carole W said...

Oh, Joyce! You guys are making my day. I'm glad the flashback gave you a warm-flash! I'm hoping to increase the temperature when they are finally in the same room together again. Cross your fingers the muse has had a glass or two of champagne herself - loosens up and lets fly!

Thanks so much for reading and sharing your kind thoughts. It's so encouraging for me and helps me stay on track and inspired.


Carole W said...

R-1, I've had that same thought - that the surprise level won't be as high as some might think. Better not say much more! :-)

Thanks so much for reading - it helps my spirits to read your comments and to know you're out there.


Carole W said...

Some have been asking about Martin's inspiration.

Here's some information about the real Martin - an old and dear friend.

Newspaper Article

Here's a photograph

Here's a radio interview

Here's a radio interview with his brother Jack - there are two long parts

the only YouTube I can find

Vicky said...

Oh, isn't he charming? I told you months ago when it seemed impossible but, I do want to meet him! ;-) (He has Martin's voice, you know...the one I hear in my head as I read.) If he has music in his soul like that, I bet he would feel honored to be "starring in fanfic"... LOL! It's about dreams, you know.

Oh and, I'd love to try the concertina one day, just to check if I can draw a tune or two...

Look where IV is taking us...Thanks for such a journey, Carole!

Sonia Who? said...

Another wonderful chapter. Another pretty square added to the quilt. Another shinny pearl added to the string. When completed it'll be a true work of art.

What more can I add to what's already been said. I ditto everyone's comments. The wish and the steamy flashback are indeed exquisite. I love it whenever Catherine is thinking of Vincent (or visa versa) or remembering one of their amorous moments together.
Thank you for those wonderful moments that show how much they love and long for one another. Hope there be many more steamy saucy moments/encounters between V&C.

I like how, even though Catherine knows her life with Vincent has limits, she also knows that they don't know what those limits are, or how limiting they really are. And she's willing to explore and stretch those limits.

I agree with you Carole, that seeing Vincent loosen up would be a lovely thing to see, and I look forward to it.

I could feel the affection and closeness between Father and Mary. I still think they would have made a good loving couple, but can't wait to see them enjoying being in love with someone that make them feel appreciated and enrich their lives. They're not too old for love.

Looking forward to Martin meeting Peter and finding out how it will lead him closer to the unveiling of the mystery which Martin is eager to discover and be a part of.

Martin is such a great character. It's interesting to see and learn about the person that inspired his character. I always envision Martin as a short (about Catherine's height), stocky but trim man with a head of white hair and trimmed beard, rosy cheeks, kind dancing eyes lined with laugh lines, and a strong but gentle, heavily Irish accented voice, rich with warmth and the joy of someone who enjoys living and sharing with people. It's hard now for me to imagine him looking and sounding like Charlie. Charlie seems like a charming man and wonderful role model though.

I love how you express Catherine's point of view. You do her justice and make her even more lovely and likable, making us want to know her better too.

There's so much more I wish I could say, but I'm bad with words. Just know that I have enjoyed reading this story very much so far and eagerly anticipate reading the rest of it.

Carole W said...

Sonia, How nice of you. Your comments were a very welcome sight today - I do thank you. On the contrary, you are very good with words. :-)

Thanks particularly for highlighting the parts that worked for you. I'm glad you enjoyed the flashback - if they cannot be together (just yet) at least they have their memories. The build-up hopefully will have a pay off!

About their limits - I'm glad you read it like you did, because that's exactly what I hoped to convey - that they do have limits - of course they do - but what they are can't be known. They'll have to test and test a bit at a time, Vincent too. That will be fun to watch.

About Charlie (and Martin)- you've nailed his personality. He does love living and sharing with others. That video has him with the most serious expression but when I knew him first (28 years ago) he was always laughing. Asthma has taken his voice - and he can't sing anymore and the flute is hard for him now - but in the old days, his voice was strong and clear. He won the All-Ireland traditional singing competition even!

Martin's nature - the way he relates to others and to the world, his unfailing good humor - is very much Charlie. I did make up some stuff of course and Martin is much younger than Charlie is now (Charlie is way into his 70's but still going, and just retired from his duties).

Martin is his own man - so envision him as you did - I see him differently than I see Charlie too. Actually, more like you described but without the beard! Ah, you picked up on the possible Martin - Peter connection! I need to get busy before you guess the rest of the story. LOL.

Thank you for thinking I've done Catherine justice. I do love her. As for Father ... I have plans for him in the future.

I hope you are drawing, Sonia.


Brandy said...

Hooray! More chapters in this increasingly epic story you're telling.

Carole, your patience on this piece continues to astound me. Martin grows in my affection - I iwsh he was a local here in St. Paul, the city designed by drunken Irish, and someone I could have a drink with in the evening.

Vincent's imbibing is amusing, but probably good for him. He limits himself too much; I'm glad he has Catherine to encourage him.

Thanks for the gauzy scene teaser! Don't be afraid of that lengthy gauzy scene we're all hoping for - your tastes are whetting our appetite!

Where did you find that lovely picture of the Sidhe? I didn't see it in the credits.

I wanted to find a poem about champagne for you, but I found one that had an Irish flavor.

Eating and Drinking - Kalil Gibran
Then an old man, a keeper of an inn, said, "Speak to us of Eating and Drinking."

And he said:

Would that you could live on the fragrance of the earth, and like an air plant be sustained by the light.

But since you must kill to eat, and rob the young of its mother's milk to quench your thirst, let it then be an act of worship,

And let your board stand an altar on which the pure and the innocent of forest and plain are sacrificed for that which is purer and still more innocent in many.

When you kill a beast say to him in your heart,
"By the same power that slays you, I to am slain; and I too shall be consumed. For the law that delivered you into my hand shall deliver me into a mightier hand.

Your blood and my blood is naught but the sap that feeds the tree of heaven."

And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart,
"Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons."

And in the autumn, when you gather the grapes of your vineyard for the winepress, say in you heart,

"I too am a vineyard, and my fruit shall be gathered for the winepress,
And like new wine I shall be kept in eternal vessels."

And in winter, when you draw the wine, let there be in your heart a song for each cup;
And let there be in the song a remembrance for the autumn days, and for the vineyard, and for the winepress.

Carole W said...

Brandy, You're right, I forgot to credit the artist. Riders of the Sidhe is a painting by John Duncan. I'll get that into the footnotes.

More response to your comment right after supper! But in the meantime, Thanks for YOUR patience! Diana Gabaldon's Outlander books are 800+ pages - I don't think I'm going to make that word count, but then I didn't think I'd be working on this for a year and a half ... and still not be finished!

More later,

Sonia Who? said...

Hi Carole. Thanks for saying I'm good with words. It takes me a long time to think of something to say and to write my thoughts down in the way I wish to convey them. It's difficult for me and I usually feel very inadequate in my ability to express myself with words.

About Charlie. The way he was as a younger man does sound more like how I see Martin. How old is Martin? I could hear on the radio recording how Charlie's asthma has affected his voice. It's sad he can't sing anymore. Are there any recordings of him singing when he was younger and his voice was still strong and clear? I'm glad he's still going strong at 70.

I wish I was drawing, but again I found myself distracted reading a very long story, this time 'Where The Rainbow Ends', thinking I still have time before the WFOL deadline, and then I started feeling sick and am now fighting a cold or possibly strep throat. All I want to do is eat and sleep. I found out today that I already missed the deadline, I thought it was for the middle of this month, but it's on January 10, so don't know if I'll still be able to submit the drawing. But at least I was able to submit one, my first one of V ever, months ago. I still have time to make the SD conzine deadline, so will try to submit a drawing for that.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend.
Big hug,

New York City Utopia said...

Despite my earlier words (email) I had to read it before bedtime after all- and my eagerness kept me awake long enough.
Oh, we're so close, and actually... getting somewhere! While I was reading I forgot myself and my wishes - it was theirs I was feeling, I assure you.

Carole W said...

Brandy, I love the apple imagery in that poem. As always, you intrigue me into wandering the internet, searching out poem after poem. Thank you.

I'm not afraid of the gauzy scene - I'm terribly anxious to get there in fact - all sorts of ideas are floating around in my brain. And I agree, V has drawn his limit-line a bit close. A little loosening, seeing that all does not come crashing to an end ... and he may indeed imbibe again. Who can resist the Green Spot? And Guinness is good for you!

I'd turned off my RSS for a while - there was a reason - but time will tell it. It's back on now. ;-)


Carole W said...

Sonia, I see Martin as pretty much Father's age - mid-sixties. Charlie is closing in on 80.

Charlie has only one album made with his brother Jack years ago and I don't remember there's any singing on it. I had the LP and so can't play it any more. Not sure if it's on cd or downloadable. It's very traditional music and not nearly as well recorded as he actually sounds in person. He won 7 All-Ireland championships, singing - the unaccompanied traditional kind of singing - whistle, concertina and I think flute too.

I'm sorry to hear you're sick. I caught some terrible kind of cold before Christmas, had laryngitis for nearly two weeks and, still now, I talk funny. Take care if you have strep throat. That can be dangerous untreated, I know.

But do work on that drawing. The conzine deadline isn't until Feb. 1.


Carole W said...

Claire, I'm so glad to hear from you. Glad too the chapter kept your interest when you were sleepy. Glad their wishes were that strong.

Getting somewhere! Yes, finally, and hasn't it been a circuitous journey. I keep thinking up new stories that branch off this one and I am trying so hard to keep them OUT so I can get to the finish. There's much to come, but I still think I'll come in under the word count of an Outlander book.

I'm still thinking to publish this in a hardcopy just for the experience of doing it. They'll be given away, should anyone want one.

Thanks, always, for reading, Claire.

Carole W said...

Vicky! I missed your last comment. You'd love Charlie - and he'd love you. Nothing is impossible.

I think you'd enjoy the concertina. It's not easy to play, but such a happy little box. I can only make it groan miserably.

Vincent will get a turn at it, though I can't think whether his nails would make it harder or easier to play. Krista says his instrument is the bodhrán and I can see that.

Thanks always for reading and for sticking with me.

Brit said...

Very beautiful and oh so lovely! I wish I had more words in my vocab right now! its 3:30 am and i had to read this! and I am so glad I did! Magnificent Carole! lots of sighing over here , haha. truly Wonderful!

Carole W said...

Brit, thank you so much! It's nice to see your comments and to know you're reading. I'm glad it was sigh-worthy.

3:30 AM?! Yikes. I hope you're not awake in the night like that often. I am, quite a bit, and I don't wish it on anyone.

I appreciate your being here!


Brit said...

More often than I like Carole, but I have plenty of reading material to help :) Good luck with the next chapter, we don't mind waiting, its always worth the wait. Michelle has wonderful stuff worth waiting on too. You both (and some of the other fellow authors) are great inspiration to me! Thanks for keeping the dream alive

Carole W said...

Yes, indeed, about Michelle. #40 is breaking loose and after tomorrow (Wednesday) I should have some solid days of computer time. This RL thing - it can get in the way of my fantasy life! LOL.

Thanks for your patience, Brit - and everyone's. It's good to know there's someone pulling for me.


Anonymous said...

Hi Carole,
I've gone back through and re-read the last several chapters. #39 2 or 3 times. It is so magical - the conversation in the diner with Martin gave me chills. I love Martin! All these people traveling towards the inevitable meeting, which will be absolutely delicious and so completely breathtaking.

Carole, you have the lightest touch with words that leave me speechless and so deeply touched that I struggle to find words.

I've always said that I would love to have your work in hard-copy. It would be a great treasure and I will be at or near the front of the line!

Thank you for all your amazing stories, and the deep happiness they bring to me and all of us here.


P.S. How are you doing with the Outlander series?! Long isn't it.

Carole W said...

Jitterbug, you are so kind! I had wondered what you thought and was growing a bit worried! Thank you for saying this - believe me, you will have a hard copy if I am ever done.

If you saw me typing and deleting, typing and deleting as I am doing today, you'd take back that sentence about a light touch! But I hope, when this chapter is done, you'll still feel the same.

It's a Vincent POV - and some stuff is going on in his head. Always a challenge, it is, to write strong-male internals.

I'm savoring the Outlanders! I'm 3/4 finished with Dragonfly in Amber, #2 in the series. I don't want them to be over fast so I'm reading one, then breaking to read short stories or other novels, then taking up another. I am enjoying the show! Thanks again for recommending them to me.

Back to work!

Brit said...

Carole, Ive heard somewhere that patience is a virtue. Im learning its also hard to have patience sometimes, I remind myslef if I can have patience with you this, I can try for patience with anything else.
Your stories are worth the wait! I cant wait to read Vincent's POV. Im doing a Angel and Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) fanfic and i know how hard it is-especially when u want to get the character just right. I have horrible errors but I keep writing even if its for my own relief haha.
Good luck in RL. Its such a pain ;) when it gets in the way. Thus we wait patiently :D

Anonymous said...

Dearest Carole -- Lovely, lovely, lovely as always. So glad to see the threads beginning to coalesce and weave together, making their patterns more and more clear on the loom. Methinks Catherine is anticipating investing in some real estate for Martin's benefit . . .

More, please, as soon as you're able!

Regards, Lindariel

Carole W said...

Hi Lindariel! Thank you for saying the threads are forming a pattern, something I hope for! It's been - even up to now - a long journey, slower and more round-about that I ever envisioned, but as Vincent said, there are miles of tunnels beneath the surface. Eventually, I promise, we'll reach the center.

Catherine might well help Martin out! :-) She could be considering something easier to access, however - the 18th floor balcony, Vincent having to climb and all being a problem over time. Her thoughts will be revealed!

I do so appreciate your comments. It really does help to know you're reading and I'm very grateful you've enjoyed the story so far.


Krista said...'s back :) I was trying to think of say something I didn't say last year, but I can't think of anything to add. Except that it's glorious and it makes me smile in joy and wonder all over again.

Great job, again and still :)


Carole W said...

Thank you, Krista. I'm glad the chapter holds up when you read it again so many months later. I'm very grateful still for your first comments and cherish today's. You're really good to me. Hugs.


Ophelia said...

Oh, I have pictures in my head, Carole. Pictures of what will be. Of a secret garden, and friends . . .

You leave us poised so delicately between hope and suspense. Such gifts you give. I close my eyes and am lost.

When I figure out how to say thank you, I will.

Carole W said...

You made me cry, Ophelia. How do I say thank you? I hope to create a world and bring characters to life. Oh, how I hope for that and your words are so encouraging, so cherished. I'll keep on until it's finished.


Brit said...

Martin.... a helper? Hmm rereading this again was wonderful.
Her wish,
her blush, Martin's "knowing" and wisdom of just what to say...

Hope you're time in NOLA is wonderful! perhaps next year I will meet you in Dallas :D

"Keep moving forward"