Iron Behind the Velvet ~ Chapter 42

~ Being Wakeful for Her Sake 1

Of course we’ll be there! She could say it, regardless of its impossibility. Believably, at the last minute their plans would go awry and she’d attend alone. He’s on call. He’s out of the country. Both statements were true enough.

And knowing Jenny, she’d be in such a dither the change would elicit hardly more than a harried look. Perhaps she’d roll her eyes and groan; maybe she’d stomp her foot, but soon she’d be on to the next detail. Then you can bunk in with Beth, Catherine imagined her saying. Where’s my hotel list. We’ll move someone over to the house ...” 

She could cavil. Of course I’m coming! But I’ll have to ask. I’ll have to check.

Ask whom? Check with whom? Avoiding his name broke her heart.

Or she could tell the truth now – I’ll be there, I will, but only me, Jenny. Only me – and brace for the logical question. Why? 

How should she answer? She might wave her hand dismissively, or shrug and say, Oh, we’ve broken up, but if she could bring herself to that lie, Jenny would never believe her. Catherine was changed, loved, in love and Jenny knew it. She’d admitted as much. Because I’m not going to be ... alone. 2 Pleased in a peculiar way that Jenny seemed surprised, proof she’d covered well, afterward, she realized she’d opened the secret door. At lunch a few weeks later, Jenny walked through.

“So, tell me,” Jenny had said, no lilt of question in her voice. She raised her water glass as if in a toast and tipped her head and Catherine was transported to their college days.

coffees at Cafe Pamplona
Sunday afternoons in Cambridge, they’d meet in Harvard Square and walk to Bow Street, down a flight of stairs to the cave-like Café Pamplona. There, over espresso and flan, they studied each other, nodding, waiting for the story. It was their shorthand, their unspoken code – the shared solemn look, the raised mug, a pregnant pause, then one clink for ‘thumbs up’. Two meant ...

She was almost always the first to laugh.

Tell me. Even then, they were passwords. Triumph or tragedy, sometimes sheepish, those had been easy admissions, safe confidings. But today, this one ... this one wouldn’t come.

“I’m not really ready to talk about it,” Catherine said, fussing with her napkin.

“Not ready?! It’s me, Cathy. Details! I want details!”  Jenny lowered her glass. “Well, tell me his name anyway!”

She couldn’t help it; she grinned at the memory, those same badgering words from her own lips – Details! – about Craig, the artist with the ponytail. A lifetime ago, another life. Instead of answering, she forked a shrimp and took a careful bite.

“After what happened that night ...” Jenny mused, her fingertips drumming the tabletop. “If you were with someone, it must be serious. Wait a minute. Are you back with Elliott Burch?”


“Is it ...” Jenny leaned forward, whispering. “Is it Joe? He’s always had such a crush on you.”

“It’s not Joe and he doesn’t have a crush on me.”

“You’re right. It’s more than that.” 

Something in the phrase – more than that – triggered her defenses. No! Those are our words. Ours! Tears welled desperately close. He was everything. Her denial was their protection, but a lifetime of it ...

She had to change the subject.

“Tell me more about your new project. The one for the Met.”

“Oh, the Cloisters renovation! I’ll have my first meeting with the team the end of next week. It’s huge, Cathy. The book will take months.” Jenny drew a deep breath, her you-won’t-believe-what-I’m-about-to-tell-you breath. “Get this. My boss wants me to ...”

She’d felt guilty, trading on Jenny’s enthusiasms, but it had saved her from scrutiny ... that day. Now, sitting knee to knee with her, Jenny squeezed her hands, a thin cloud of uncertainty veiling her eyes. Though she was still and her chest rose and fell in a steady rhythm, a pulse like a trapped sparrow beat in Jenny’s throat.

No ... in her throat. The flutter prevented her from speaking.

What had Vincent said? Our love, this life ... the separating secret of it. The questions from your friends will mount with time, perhaps causing a rift that cannot be mended with less than the truth.  Now they stood together, Jenny and she, at a diverging path. An answer was required and there were only two – the truth and not. Either would change everything.

It had been easy with Isaac ... to trust. No questions, she’d said – a given, not a plea – and since, he’d never asked for confirmation, for explanation. That same night, in Lucy, Vincent found a tender shepherd. Without petition, Eimear kept secret their meeting – over laundry and recognition – even from Martin.

And Nancy. Nancy had proven true, or Jenny would already know ...

Are you in love? Does he make you happy?3 With Nancy at lunch – in this same restaurant, she realized with a start – and in that long, relieving night, she found the answers, each like a gift discovered in surprise and delight. She’d stopped short of the mystery, necessarily so, but Nancy’s last question – Will we ever get to meet him? – left her, not heartsick, not resigned, but hopeful that one day, she’d bring someone – her someone – Below.

Vincent assured her, promised her, when she was ready, he would stand with her before anyone. But Nancy was too far away and far too busy ... for now. As for Joe ... the blanket of complexities, heavy though it was, hadn’t smothered a flame of possibility, a  flame that seemed brighter just now, as if fanned by a fresh breeze. Perhaps he’d find his way below through a different door, with another guide.

Then ... Jenny. For months, she’d worried the way to tell. Come with me, she’d imagine saying, propelling her to the balcony. I want you to meet someone – the man I love. But in these dreams, he never turned from the railing or spoke Jenny’s name. She managed nothing past the first halting paragraph of revelation. She’d anguished and belabored the question – Why? Why did it seem impossible?

Now the answer came and what surprised her was ... she felt no surprise.

Because somehow, somewhere, deep inside you, you must have known.4


Books of Wonder, NYC
The day began ill-omened – charred toast, a snapped heel ... Marcy O’Neill’s doomed ambivalence – so when she took the call at Joe’s desk, her spirits brightened. She’d not heard from Jenny in weeks, but the silence wasn’t out of character. Jenny was known for her preoccupations. Just the day before, on 18th Street outside Books of Wonder, she’d run into a friend who’d told her, over coffee, about Jenny’s latest beau. "Is this The Crush?" she’d asked. Beth had laughed and said, "It’s way past crush!”

“Oh, it’s great to hear your voice, stranger,” Jenny said. 5

“Jenny? Is that Jenny Aronson? World record-holder for unreturned phone calls?”

“And don’t forget! Unrequited love.”

Stranger. The word chafed a little, but she admonished herself. Don’t be so sensitive. It’s Jenny. “That’s not what I hear. How are ya? What’s up?”

“I’m fine. I’m great actually.” Jenny’s tone was breezy. “I got a phone call about five minutes ago ... from Stephen Bass. He’s in town; he’s trying to reach you and I gave him your home number. And it occurred to me about a second later that I ... probably shouldn’t have. He is soooo insistent.”

Jenny’s laugh, a dismissive puff and hardly conscience-stricken, hovered between ‘I’ and ‘shouldn’t have’. It stunned her ... and would not be willed away.

Jenny knew Stephen. She knew him all too well.

After graduation, both in the City, Jenny and she had maintained a weekly get-together, usually dinner – early, after her last class and Jenny’s work, cheap and whenever possible, out of doors. One evening, she’d held out her glass, tapped Jenny’s once.

What? Who?” Jenny squealed, and Catherine told her about the man in her Civil Procedures class, the man whose study carrel was across from hers in the Diamond Law Library, the man who charmed her from Torts and into the late afternoon sun, who brought her one perfect chocolate truffle one day, a single pink-throated lily the next. Soon, Stephen joined them for dinner. Soon, Jenny helped her rearrange her things so Stephen might move in. But too soon, Jenny noticed Stephen’s heated sulks, felt his icy stare. And then she witnessed one of Stephen’s rages over such a little thing

Jenny’s shoulder was her asylum during those last miserable months of the relationship and afterward, when Stephen would ... not ... quit.


At some point in their circular argument, the fire in his eyes snuffed out. He quieted and stared at the floor, at last slapping his knees once and rising from the chair. She never saw him again – that was true – and in the next weeks, she moved from giddy relief to guilt, to anger – at herself – and embarrassment, back to guilt, again to relief. What she couldn’t understand, she labored to forget. Then one midnight she answered the phone and he was there, whispering, hissing, in her ear. “No one will ever love you the way I do”. She hung up and called Jenny.

When she turned the last lock on her door, Jenny pushed through and pulled her into a hug. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. I ... I’m sorting my sweater drawer.” She ambled to the bedroom, Jenny at her heels. The radio was loud; a plate of fruit and a stack of crackers crowded her bedside table. Her pale quilt was a patchwork of colored wools and nubby silks.

“I thought you’d be upset. Shouldn’t you file a report or something? Let’s go down to the police station. Maybe they could, I don’t know, drive by every hour or so.”

“Right. Like that would happen.” She sank to her mattress, a red cardigan wadded in her lap. “It’s nothing, Jen. I overreacted. He’s just ... I hurt him.”

“You hurt him!? Cathy, I read stories like this–”

“Don’t! Don’t say it. I like my life now. I’m ... peaceful. I don’t want to think about it. It’s over. Over.”

“He’s nuts,” Jenny said, plucking a grape. “Try not to forget that.”

At first she marked the silence in hours, then days, until she realized she no longer jumped when the telephone rang, when there was an unexpected knock at the door. Jenny told her of Stephen’s parents’ deaths and for a blissful moment, she wondered, Who? Whose parents?”


“Cathy?” Jenny probed her dismayed silence. “You don’t have to call him back. You don’t owe him anything.”

Then why, Jenny? Why did you give him my number? My home number? You know him; you know ... almost ... everything. 

“If you want,” Jenny continued, her voice maddeningly light, “we can talk about it over lunch.”


Catherine dragged her gaze from Jenny’s and surveyed the room. Only a single coworker remained at her desk, shoulders rounded by pressing work. She imagined Joe’s office locked and quiet, him on the couch, his arm covering his eyes even in the dark. Outside, traffic droned, a punctuated monotone – away, away ... home! 

If only ...

What did they owe each other, those who call themselves friends, sisters? Lovers? The highest task of a bond between two people, Rilke said, is that each protects the solitude, the privacy of the other.One night, below, at the falls, she confessed a flicker of anger with Jenny, her feeling of betrayal. If she hadn’t ... she began. But in a distanced, stiffened, chilling intonation, Vincent echoed Stephen’s admonishment. Don’t be too hard on her. And though she longed to talk out her feelings, she couldn’t bear the falter of his expression or the leaden thud of his heart at the memory of that long walk, the limp body heavy in his arms, the stickiness on his clothes worn all the way home.

You only did what you had to do.7

I know that ...

The words haunted her yet. He wouldn’t let her blame herself. He bore the burden, the blood of her curiosity, her ego, her guilt.

Stephen would have found me anyway. And what happened afterward was my fault. Mine. But, Jenny, Jenny ... shouldn’t you have protected me? Kept my secrets? How little insistence it took to expose me, to point the way. I can’t ... I can’t trust you, Jenny. Not yet. Not with this. Not with Vincent.

“Say something. Say, what color dress should I buy? Say, you’ve got to be out of your mind. But Cathy, say ... something.”


Over the months, she’d let more casual friends drift away – easy enough, freeing. As if she’d released a clutch of balloons on a clear day, their colors danced for a while against the sky, then capered away on a breeze. Now, when she met an acquaintance from her old life in a shop or on the street, she realized few cared about the depth of her answer, should they think to ask how she was or where’d she’d been. From a few others the distancing dance was slower. Arlene still rang with invitations to dinner. The times she’d accepted, there had been seated either on her right or on her left – once on either side – an interesting single friend from out of town, a colleague, a coworker, a contributor, a volunteer. The last invitation came the week of Winterfest when Arlene offered her the choice – an investment banker or a politician. She’d managed a polite demur, but after hanging up, she’d doubled over, laughing so long it hurt, all the while thinking of Jenny, wishing they were together at some cafe, at a small, round street-side table, a glass of wine at hand, hooting at the joke, repeating the punch line.

She’d straightened and wiped her eyes. Jenny wouldn’t ... couldn’t ... understand. The constant deflection, the husbanding of her words was exhausting. A wave of isolation washed over her. Really, she thought, looking around her apartment, this is all so tiresome.

Later with a snort of laughter, she did replay the call, but Vincent grew quiet. Though he smiled at her story, a measure of joy faded from his eyes and he turned from her, toward the falls, a private struggle evident in his slowed, controlled breaths. She wondered what troubled him – his feelings ... or hers.

He wouldn’t say, instead returned to the book of poems closed on his finger.

Twas a long parting, he read, but the time for interview had come.8


“Cathy ...” Jenny repeated. Her dark eyes glistened.

“What color dress should I buy?” She beamed love and history into the jest, taking both Jenny’s hands between hers. “This is wonderful news! I’m so happy for you!”

“Then you’ll come? You’ll take vacation? I’m going to need so much help. Your help! You have such an elegant touch and I can get so ... frazzled.”

“Of course. I’ll be there with bells on.”

“And ...?” Jenny’s query drawled out, nearly Ned’s three-syllable mimic.

She could buy time with a playful rejoinder, but not enough. Whatever happens, she thought, I’m ready.

“I’ll be there. I’ll room with Beth if you’re sure she’s not bringing someone.”

“But ...”

“He can’t make it, Jen. I know that already.”

“We can shift the date until something works for everybody, Cathy. I told you that.”

“There won’t be a date that works.”

“You like Ned, don’t you?” Jenny asked. “I want you to be a part of our life together. And I want him to know us.”

“I do like him. Very much. I want that too.”

“Do you?” Jenny’s eyes narrowed. “Then let’s get together, the four of us. Soon. Don’t say it!” Jenny protested her inhale. “The next time he’s in town then. I’ll ask him to the wedding myself. Or Ned can ask him, man to man.” Jenny tried a laugh, wincing with the effort. “Listen to that. He. Him. I don’t even know his name.”

She wouldn’t deny him or douse with outright lies the flame of hope she sheltered that perhaps, one day ...  Her only recourse was an inscrutable smile, her lips pressed together with no promise of explanation.

Jenny frowned and withdrew her hands. “Why? Why won’t you tell me what’s going on? Who he is?” She sighed. “I know. I sound like a reporter.”

At the description, Catherine shivered.

“Look,” Jenny said, her voice low. “I could believe it if you said this ... person can’t make the wedding. I could believe it if you told me he was off to Antarctica for a year measuring the ice pack or ... counting penguins. I’d almost believe it if you said he’d been abducted by aliens!” Her shoulders sagged. “I don’t understand. We’ve always ...”

“I know.”

“And I know you! He isn’t married. You wouldn’t do that. And you wouldn’t develop a crush on some low-life you put away. It’s not Joe because you wouldn’t need to hide that; you’d just change divisions. Or ... or quit! What does that leave? A Mafioso?Underage? I don’t believe it. And you haven’t broken up. It’s written all over you. Whatever’s going on, it’s good. So the problem’s not with the guy, it’s with me. There’s some reason you won’t tell me.”

“Jenny, I–  It’s complicated. I hope, one day ...”

“One day! Now’s what matters.” Jenny stood up and backed away.

Catherine leapt after her. “Don’t leave!”

But Jenny whirled and stalked to the elevator, garnering hardly a glance from the lone soul preoccupied at her desk. As if by magic command, the doors opened. Catherine blinked in disbelief when Eimear stepped across the threshold.

Jenny turned for a last look, her lashes spiky with tears. She hesitated only a moment, then without acknowledgment, without goodbye, jabbed at the button and was gone.


“That should do it,” Kanin said. He dropped the handle of his maul through the loop on his tool belt and grabbed the pegged jack and king timbers with both hands, pulling with all his might. “Solid. No movement. Want to set the main header before we quit for the day? It’ll be a breeze with the two pulleys. Smart thinking, Mouse, bringing both.”

“Dominic sent magazines. Saw pictures. Remembered.” Mouse inspected the newly-framed ceiling of the junction, his fingers laced on top of his head. “Pretty. Like a church. Saw pictures of them too.”

“That dragon-beam was a good idea,” Kanin said, eyeing the massive diagonal. “It ought to hold in an earthquake. But the herringbone bracing ... too bad more people won’t see it.” He looked over his shoulder, out into the corridor. “Nice design, Vincent. Form and function. I still don’t know how you got that girder up by yourself.”

The winch cable lay stretched along the floor of the passageway. Vincent walked its length, the steel wire rope slipping through his loose fist as he checked for kinks and faults. After one pass, he made another, slower, his eyes almost closed, feeling for what he might not see. A break would be disastrous. And because he did not trust his focus, he made a third examination.

“Ready to wind it up?” Kanin asked.

 “You two go on to camp. I’ll get the pulleys ready and the winch positioned. First thing tomorrow morning, we’ll hoist this up. We’ll work more safely fed and rested.”

“You sure? Take the cat’s paw to Damien then.” Mouse searched Kanin’s wooden tool box for the clawed pry bar, then pulled a canvas pouch from his pocket and spread it open. “Needs these too,” he said, plunging his hand into a cardboard carton. A cascade of spiral shanked nails poured over his fingers. “Pull old nails out, pound new nails in, pull out, pound in, pull out again. Round and round and round, like a song.” He sprang to his feet and, laughing, dashed away, the sack of heavy nails thumping, clanking against his thigh.

“Mouse,” Kanin said, shaking his head. “I missed him.”

“He is unique.” He was tired, distracted. His arms, his shoulders burned still from the ring of the hammer blows. Solitude. That polar privacy.9 He craved it.

Kanin chuckled. “I’ll stay and help. I don’t want you missing supper again tonight on account of me.”

Vincent closed his eyes, but only for a moment. As Kanin spun the drum, he held the cable taut, playing the rope left to right and left again to lay flat and even across the spool. When Kanin slowed, then stopped the rotation, Vincent looked up in question. A muscle bunched at the hinge of Kanin’s jaw.

“This is harder than I expected.”

 Not the work, but life. “You made it so.”

“Well,” Kanin said. “I didn’t think I deserved easy.” He pinched the bridge of his nose and pushed his glasses up. “You’ve been quiet. Quieter than usual, I mean. Everything okay?”

“Part of me ... is elsewhere.” He stood behind her, shielding, armoring ...

“Yeah. Part of me too.” Kanin sighed, a long, cleansing breath. “You’re right, you know.”

“About what?”

“About yes being harder to bear than no. If Livy gives me this chance, if she’ll choose me ... again, I have to be worth it. I have to show her who I am – no – who I will be. It’d be easier if she told me to take a hike. I already know how to be a loser.”

“You know loss, how it feels to lose, Kanin. There’s a difference.”

“Yeah. I guess there is.” Kanin flexed his arm, flexed his fingers. “Could you have done this by yourself?” he said, after a long silence.

“With effort, yes.”

Kanin began again, the crank in both hands. The ratchet groaned and engaged; the line coiled on inch by inch. “You make it look easy.”

Martin’s words echoed in his memory, already their hundredth repetition. Fake it ‘til you make it. The advice steadied his heart, anchored his feet, had forced him to concentrate on the necessary tasks at hand, to be useful, available. Tamped within him, always, was the variegated swirl, the mood and energy of others. The cacophony uncontrolled was a river of grasping hands and confounding calls and there were times when he couldn’t hear his own voice.

“But it’s not easy for you, is it?” Kanin continued.

“No,” he admitted, another curing truth. “It isn’t.”

What he wanted – all he wanted – was to be with her. To prove himself worthy. Ready.

Devin once told him what it was like – the roller coaster at Coney Island – and today, this long, clattering day, he’d heard the tick-tick-tick of the climb, the flutter of her heart, felt the pang, the light-headedness of her long-held breath, the whoosh and whistle of her surprise, the whipping curve, the slide into grief. Now her sorrow, now solace ... and a surge of blue across their bond – faith, trust.  Exhausted; revived. Determined.

Coming to me. 
Coming to me. 
Coming to me.

Click HERE for Chapter 43


1. William Butler Yeats. Friends from Responsibilities. 1914.
2. Dialogue: The Watcher. Season 2 (Catherine)
3. Dialogue: A Happy Life. Season 1 (Nancy)
4. Dialogue: Down to a Sunless Sea. Season 1 (Vincent)
5. Dialogue: Down to a Sunless Sea. Season 1 (Catherine/Jenny)
6. Rainer Maria Rilke. Letters. To Paula Becker. 1902.
7. Dialogue: Down to a Sunless Sea. Season 1 (Catherine/Vincent)
8. Emily Dickinson. Resurrection. from Poems. #62 - XV
9. Emily Dickinson. There is a Solitude of Space.  1855.


Vicky said...

I agree! I agree! Can you hear me clapping? I felt really sorry for her, but I'm just not sure she can trust Jenny, not yet, for that exact reason (among others). And you got the point across wonderfully! Stil clapping.

Oh look, Eimier is there! Things are coming round. Have I told you lately I totally love this whole story? And you more, dear Carole. Thank you so much!
Big hugs.

Krista said...

Oh, Carole. (Funny how my comments always start out this way, eh? :-) You might take some criticism for your portrayal of Jenny, but once when Cathy needed her to keep a secret, to use her best judgment, she hadn't. How in the world could Cathy trust Jenny with even Vincent's name? Brava!

Oh, and thank goodness for Eimear, and for Kanin finally pulling his head out of his, um, nether regions. *evil grin* It's sooo good to see someone else realize that things are not always easy for Vincent either, regardless of how easy he makes it look.

Once again, awesome, fantastic chapter! :)

Anonymous said...

Morning to you, dear! I'm so behind in email to you. Blast RL. Hasn't kept me from reading and enjoying though.

A necessarily quick note: The scene between Vincent and Catherine, when he's told of Arlene's invitation-you are subtle! Catherine does need a girlfriend. Some things just won't translate to Vincent's or any man's ear.


SandyX said...

Oh, this is soooo good, Carole! Loved this chapter. I always enjoy the parts that are in Catherine's POV. I know the "should she tell Jenny" question has been much debated but after reading this, you've written the best and only solution. Catherine knew ... and now it's done - maybe a little less of a balancing act will be required for C now.

Every chapter Vincent takes another step forward, Yea Vincent! "But it's not easy for you, is it?" "No" Such a simple thing, but I think not often admitted. Kanin is good for him. Now C just needs her confidant ...

The last paragraph, I love the last paragraph. You took a familiar analogy, a roller coaster day, and made it sing. How do you do that? As always, I'm amazed, impressed and inspired.

It's all coming together so beautifully ... [sigh] ... we're coming up on the end, aren't we? I've started re-reading the whole story, a few chapters each night, hoping I'll reach the last chapter around the same time you do. So, don't get there too fast ;-)


Maria said...

Thanks for keeping it going. Love the banter between Catherine and Jenny. Definately untrustworthy. But everyone makes mistakes. Hopefully Catherine can forgive her and at least be able to say his name.
I can't wait to see what's next.

Carole W said...

Vicky! Hugs to you and thank you. We've shared this Jenny concern for forever, haven't we. It felt good, in a sad way, to write it out of my system. From the first time I saw the episode, I figured there had to be a lot of history behind Jenny's saying C didn't owe Stephen anything. And the look on Catherine's face at Jenny's news! It wasn't just because Stephen was back.

In my book, trust is something earned through deeds, not words. Hopefully, Jenny will find a way to regain C's trust. I'm not convinced she understands what she did - disregarding Vincent's involvement - Catherine might have died at Stephen's hand.

Of course, we're not sure what happened after V carried Stephen back to the house. Did C call the police? An ambulance? Did she stay or did they call and disappear. How much would come out, publicly, about Stephen's attack on Catherine. Would Jenny know what happened? Hmmmm, perhaps a story for the HomeWork Group?!

Carole W said...

Krista! you always make me smile. Kanin's head stuck where? LOL. He's had a difficult adjustment. I mean, everybody's watching his every move. I gotta get that family a moving van, pronto. I think it will be hard for Kanin still. He's humiliated and that's a tough thing to overcome. I have this feeling he'll man-up though.

About Vincent and his own need of friends - or certain kinds of friendship. Below, he's one of them, certainly, but for people to ignore his differences is more isolating than acknowledging and accepting them, loving him because of those differences.

That probably doesn't make any sense yet. I do hope to expound. :-)

Those differences, granted a little freedom, might make for some extra-gauzy scenes too.

Thank you so much for reading and for taking the time to comment. It matters.


Carole W said...

Leanne, it's great to hear from you. I admit - I was a little worried, wondering what you've been thinking. I hope Real Life is over-funfilled, not messed up.

You are so right about Catherine's need for a girlfriend. I can't imagine her isolation. Really, she can only talk to Vincent and we all know how he can be, sometimes, about Catherine's life above.

This scene does begin to answer a question I get about I Carry Your Heart (and one I remember you asking). What happened after Winterfest to make V take off like he did for those weeks - why was he in such a funk? It is a story for another day, outside I/V, but clues will appear, setting up for the next story. IF, and it's a big if, I ever finish this one.

Hope to hear from you again soon.

Krista said...

LOL, Carole---I'm coming to like Kanin. It's a good man who tries to make things right, even if it takes him a while, some sulking, and a few false starts. ;-)

And I think you and I have touched on this (perhaps in those Thursday Night discussions? :-P) about how pretending to ignore Vincent's differences, or glossing them over as though he's just so noble that he doesn't have any difficulties, really isn't doing him any favors. I think Kanin's starting to get that...and how interesting that it's Kanin, a bit of an outsider himself, who Gets It.

*ears perking* Extra Gauzy? :-P Bring it on!

Great chapter, again and still,

Krista :)

Carole W said...

Sandy! hugs for your comments! You're so right - C has faced a truth - and it's sad and bad, but no longer the monster under the bed. I'm glad, so glad, this characterization of Jenny was believable. I did bite my nails a bit after posting.

Vincent - taking another step forward - YES! He is, inching toward the light. How far will he go??? That depends on how many more chapters ... and I'm not sure were that close to the end.

It has to feel good for folks to acknowledge V's differences and to love/like him for them, not in spite of them. I think that's still a lesson he needs to master.

Thank you so much for liking the roller coaster paragraph. Catherine's day has been a mess of ups and downs. Poor Vincent and the bond. It can't have been all that fun for him on top of a slight hangover. The last one I rode was at Dollywood and years ago, but I just tried my best to remember what it felt like. There's no way I'd get on one at Coney Island. It's huge!



Carole W said...

Hi Maria! It is so nice to hear from you! Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. I'm truly grateful.

I hope one day Jenny might understand Catherine's issues, really understand. She'll have to earn C's trust. I will say this much: I do have a Ned/Jenny/mysterious familiarity story noodling in my head. I haven't lost all hope for Jenny, but I'm not entirely sure of her potential. Ned may be a possibility, however. :-)

Thank you again. It's great to know you're there.


Carole W said...

Krista, it is so nice to talk shop with you! You're right - glossing over doesn't do him favors. And you've synopsized Kanin's character, challenge and journey just as I'd hoped they'd be seen. Thank you.

I love the word 'sulk'.


New York City Utopia said...

it is now 24 hours since I read this chapter and it still makes sense ;-) All right, you seem to have a solid point there!
All the same, it is a sad moment, but Eimear's timely appearance is a powerful balm with an immediate effect.
Thank you!

Vicky said...

I remember when I first made the comment in thursday watch, about Jenny's actions regarding Steven. Some of my views are a bit "impopular" at times, and since most fans think she's a natural choice for letting in in the secret, I wondered if I wasn't exagerating. And then you said you actually agreed, and I knew I was not so crazy! But rereading the way you bring it to life is wonderfully heartbreaking, you know... It makes sense all over again.
Hugs, Carole!

Carole W said...

Claire, yes, a balm for the spirits and delivered by the universe - a door opened and there is Eimear. I've been wanting a serious chat between these two since I Carry. Finally, two years later, here it comes.

And whew! I'm glad it still makes sense. This doesn't mean it's over, Jenny and Catherine's friendship, but it will go through some sticky times. All fodder for another story, however, as I promise I/V won't go on (and on) forever.

Hugs! C.

Carole W said...

Vicky - we are in each other's heads a lot of the time - and what a nice place to be, from my perspective. You have such insight and intuition.

I've always found Jenny's easy-breezy introduction to the tunnels a bit hard to imagine. But it was that off-hand way she told Catherine about the phone call that turned me off. Catherine should have blown her stack right then and there, even before the you-know-what hit the fan. I'm still mad about it! LOL.

But it is sad. They have so much good history. Hopefully, it won't all be lost, but we'll have to see how Jenny comes through this situation and how she earns C's trust - not an easy thing, since she's pretty much unaware of the consequences of her actions - and how can Cathy explain?

Joyce said...

I finally got an opportunity to check for the next chapter. So imagine my great excitement that the next was right there waiting for me! I really enjoyed this chapter Carole - epsecially the conversation between Catherine and Jenny. Catherine has come to the realization that she cannot share her secret with Jenny and I think that is the right choice. There is no margin for error or the chance of a mispoken comment that could bring the Tunnel World to a very dangerous point. Jenny has shown through her careless disregard of Catherine's privacy by giving her number to Steven Bass that - while I would not call Jenny untrustworthy - I would certainly call her unthinking. You did a great job of explaining why Catherine must make the decision she has.

As always, I can't wait for the next installment!

Ann B. said...

I have read the chapter AGAIN. Have I told you lately that I just love your lyrical writing?? Your words as always are a joy to experience.

I have to tell you though that I most strongly disagree with you on Jenny. There are many reasons but I am sure you have heard them all before so I will not go into it here. Having said that, you handled the situation as you see it with your usual truth and grace. I know this can't be over between them. Neither Catherine nor Jenny would allow that to happen. I will be anxious to see how this all plays out.

I do have to comment on one specific line that was true poetry. "That same night, in Lucy, Vincent found a tender shepherd." Talk about Angels among us! At his true hour of need, Vincent's found him and guided him to a place where he could find safety and Catherine could find him.

And Vincent is finally allowing himself the freedom to truly express what he is thinking! YAAAY! First Martin and now Kanin. Oh how I hope this relaxing into truth continues for him. There is no one who better deserves to receive the understanding and acceptance that he has so readily given to everyone else.

I have a feeling this next chapter is going to be simply amazing! Can't wait! In the meantime I will just keep re-reading this one. LOL

Carole W said...

Hi Joyce! It's so nice to see you again. You're right - Jenny isn't an untrustworthy person, not exactly. I don't think she's a bad person or that she would deliberately hurt Cathy, but the look on Cathy's face when she took the phone call! How much of that dismay was because she felt conflicted about Stephen and how much was because she couldn't believe Jenny hadn't stood up for her. Keeping the secret is the ultimate responsibility - and privilege. Some secrets give us strength.

I'm glad I could make the case believably for you. And I'm so glad to know you're still enjoying the story. Thanks again for mentioning Feathers on the list, too.

Carole W said...

Ann, that is so kind of you to compliment the writing and disagree with the chapter's premise! That humbles me and makes me happy all at the same time. Of course, now I'm panicked about the worthiness of the next chapter! LOL.

No, it's not over between Jenny and Catherine. They'll have some things to work out. Actually, I think Jenny has a point. She knows Cathy is keeping something very important from her. She's mad and hurt. The upcoming Ned/Jenny/??? story will deal with that. For now, Cathy had to make a choice. It doesn't make anyone happy, but she couldn't do otherwise at this point, I don't think. The secret is everything. If something should happen to you, she said. She can't let a slip up, no matter how innocent, endanger Vincent.

Vincent has been so cautious with himself. How must it feel to realize others see him and accept him and at the same time, don't dismiss his differences. He is different and that's a good thing.

Thank you for liking that sentence about Lucy. I thought she was very brave and did what she did out of noble compassion. I was proud of her and hope good things happened for her afterward.

Thanks again, Ann. I'm so glad you're still reading and enjoying the story, that I haven't driven you to distraction with its length and slow posting.


Brandy said...

Dear All,

I have fought my way through the scattered boxes and misplaced furniture of moving to pop in and say hello!

Carole, I don't even have time to read the new chapter, but I did have a moment to go poem digging.

As I have spring fever, here's a poem to reflect that:

Nocturne Of Remembered Spring by Conrad Aiken


Moonlight silvers the tops of trees,
Moonlight whitens the lilac shadowed wall
And through the evening fall,
Clearly, as if through enchanted seas,
Footsteps passing, an infinite distance away,
In another world and another day.
Moonlight turns the purple lilacs blue,
Moonlight leaves the fountain hoar and old,
And the boughs of elms grow green and cold,
Our footsteps echo on gleaming stones,
The leaves are stirred to a jargon of muted tones.
This is the night we have kept, you say:
This is the moonlit night that will never die.
Through the grey streets our memories retain
Let us go back again.

There's a lot more to this poem - but the rest of it wasn't as peaceful as this first stanza.

Carole W said...

Brandy, dig out soon, because we miss you! Of course, I'm hunting up this poem immediately. Thank you, again, always.

Brandy said...

Dear Carole,

I HAVE fought my way free, AND have had a chance to read your lovely chapter.

Jenny's exit and Eimear's entrance made me think of the line, "When the universe closes one door, it opens another."

I'm sure there is more to see of Jenny. And how noisy both Catherine and Vincent's heads are!

On to the next! I'm determined to catch up, finally!

Carole W said...

Brandy, I'm so glad to see you with a free moment - I know you're busy and I'm grateful you'll spend time here. Thanks for reading.

LOL, I guess their heads are a bit noisy. Poor C. So much of her life can't be revealed.

You and I know the same quotations - as do Martin and Eimear, as you'll see in the next chapter, though theirs are two slightly rearranged and combined quotes.

One quote similar to the one you mention is from Alexander Graham Bell:

When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.

And that last part should make its appearance in #45 - from inside Catherine's head, :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Carole,
I've been away a long time, but you and this story have remained with me (I had sent you an email). This chapter's issue with Jenny giving Stephen C's phone # was a big AHA, hand pop to the forehead moment for me. I remember when I saw that episode that it stuck with me that Jenny gave out C's personal info and why would she do it. Again, you have nailed another facet to this story.

I've read and re-read the last several chapters and, of course, I absolutely LOVE them and can't wait for each chapter to come to us.

I also can't wait to check out "Everything" once I finish the posted chapters.

This entie saga has affected me like no other, whether real life or fiction, because C & V are so real to us. Which has resulted in some very blue moods at times, but your writing has been the perfect balm for that. I so appreciate and admire the talent you have.

I know you will finish this story in your time. And it is well worth waiting for every word! Hopefully C & V will be together soon.

Thank you so much. Now back to reading!!!

XO, jitterbug

Carole W said...

Jitterbug! I'm so glad to see you. Thank you for all you've said here. I can't express how your words spur me on. Without support and encouragement, I might have let this story lag along (as if it hasn't, but more laggy even!). That you've been willing to stick with me, that you're so generous with your kind words, means everything.

Oh, I'm glad the Stephen/Jenny issue rang true with you! I'm still a little steamed by it myself - and one day, in another story, I'll explore the aftermath of this chapter. Ned, after all, does look familiar to Catherine and Joe. There's a reason for that. :-) How that works out is still noodling in my head.

I desperately hope V and C will be together soon too. The gauze will hit the fan! It'll be blowing all over the place if the muse continues her whispering. I have the oddest little notes jotted on papers all over the house. LOL.

Thank you, once again, Jitterbug, for reading.

Vicky said...

CAROLE! You...Can...Not...Throw that and leave us like that! Ah, the dreaming... o-o-o-o-ohhh!
In another story... I like the sound of that!
Get busy now. Remember next month tonight we'll be watching an episode together! And laughing and hugging and eating cookies and... weeeee!

Carole W said...

LOL, Vicky. Cookies and episodes together. Wheeee is right!

You should listen to the voice recorder I use in the car. I do have hot little notes drifting around the house and I'd be embarrassed if anyone picked one up to read but if I should ever lose that recorder! Yikes!

How can I be thinking of another story now??? And yet there's our Everything homework to do. I do have to get busy. Where's the chocolate to bribe the muse to stay up late?

Hugs soon,

Vicky said...

Oh that reminds me: Can I ask you a big, huge favor? My wee recorder is broken, and at this point I spend in any extras, so can you take yours to the con? I'd love to capture many memories there! I already forgot to take mine to NJ for my "picture-taking", fortunately Fruitcake took a few videos.

Carole W said...

You mean my little voice recorder? Do you just want to hear my "notes"? LOL!!!

What kind of recorder do you have? Mine is just a little thing, not that great in quality, but I'm glad to take it along.

Anonymous said...

Carole, I am NOT disappointed in the SLIGHTEST by this chapter. In fact, I'm kicking myself just a little for forgetting Jenny's unthinking contribution to the whole Stephen Bass nightmare.

Every time I pop in my BATB DVDs, I always dread, and sometimes skip over, the Stephen Bass episode, because it strikes awfully close to home for me. Stephen is entirely TOO MUCH like my first husband, who terrorized me by phone after I left him until my lawyer managed to put the fear of God into him, and then stalked me for a while at church and at work (we unfortunately worked in the same building) even after that, until he finally lost interest and moved on. I still from time to time get the willies over the idea of him tracking me down.

I must say that if any of my friends or family members were to assist him in locating me, it would take quite a while for me to be able to ever trust that person again, no matter how dear they might be to me. Now I completely understand why you have labeled Jenny as "untrustworthy," and I would have to agree with you, painful as that assessment is. I dearly love the Catherine/Jenny relationship, and to see it damaged is very hard. But you are right. You are absolutely, completely right -- Catherine would protect Vincent above and beyond any other personal relationship. That is the beauty of her love for him and her willingness to endure the necessary sacrifices for his safety and wellbeing. It is also a necessary pain Vincent must learn to accept with grace if they are to have a life together. He cannot keep punishing himself -- and by extension Catherine -- for a reality that is beyond his control or making.

WOW, this reminds me so much of the painful beauty of the Aragorn/Arwen romance in The Lord of the Rings! She gives up her immortality, her familial connections, and her entire race for love of him. That is the beauty of her love, and depth of the sacrifice she is willing to make for that love, and it is a necessary pain that he must come to accept in order for them to have a life together.

Blessedly for C&V -- there is the tantalizing possibility of Eimear and Flynn and Martin and TRUE understanding, of secrets known and kept and treasured and honored, and of a protected place Above where the two worlds might intertwine in the glory of sunlight and comfort of genuine friends.

Oh, well done, WELL DONE! And I feel just a little bit stupid for missing the Jenny/Stephen connection, but I hope you will understand where that avoidance originates and forgive me! I do have hope that the true strength of Jenny and Catherine's friendship will outlast and eventually overcome this setback, but Jenny does need to earn Catherine's trust, and at this point, Catherine is completely justified in withholding that trust.

As always, anxiously awaiting the release of subsequent chapters to this beautiful tale!

Regards, Lindariel

Krista said...

I keep trying to think of something to say that I didn't say before, or that wasn't said better by others...but I'm coming up blank. :)

I know this view of Jenny is unusual--but I find it persuasive. Jenny is a good person, but she's not the right person at this point in her life. Maybe, as Catherine said of Joe in this same chapter, she'll come to the tunnels by some other door :)

Great job, again and still. :)


Carole W said...

Hey, Krista - that's exactly what I was hoping for, that my take on this would seem reasonable, given the episode dialogue and what is evident in it. I know it's not the usual portrayal of Jenny, but I keep thinking on this - Catherine told Nancy some things, but she never told Jenny anything. There had to be a reason.

Now I don't want to slam the door completely and forever, hopelessly shut. You found the wedge - the possibility, like for Joe, for Jenny to come in through another door. I do have ideas for that story, but I'm not entirely sure of the outcome just yet. (That Ned - he seems familiar ... Why is that??)

Thank you for everything - your support and encouragement and friendship.


Carole W said...

Whew! Lindariel!! I'm glad to read your comments. I was concerned you'd throw something at me.

Now I totally agree with you. I love the Cathy/Jenny relationship too and seeing it damaged is very painful. But your example - the possibility of one of your friends thoughtlessly assisting your ex in finding you - really brings it home. Such a breach would be surely inadvertent. They wouldn't have set out to harm you, but the end result could be terrifying. And Catherine can't risk Vincent this way, not again. He's already suffered terribly.

Wow! What you said – It is also a necessary pain Vincent must learn to accept with grace if they are to have a life together. He cannot keep punishing himself -- and by extension Catherine -- for a reality that is beyond his control or making. – is just amazing. What an analysis! And the comparison to Aragorn/Arwen is perfect. You've really drawn a crystal image here of V's struggles. You really must write some BatB fan fic.

I am very much enjoying your LOTR fic A Yule Journey. You do great setting and mood and I love your language. I really feel like I'm somewhere else reading it. I'm repeating myself, but you really must try your hand at a V/C story.

Thank you so much for reading this chapter and considering my different take on a favored character. That it could ring true enough makes me feel really good. You're very kind and generous and I'm grateful beyond words.


RomanticOne said...

There are people that mean well but don't realize the damage they are doing in the process. Jenny always struck me as impulsive. On the surface, that's not a bad thing but it's a character trait that could be bad for Vincent. Catherine has said that Vincent is worth everything. She's made some difficult choices to keep that vow. Giving up an old friend may be another one of those choices. It's not so different from real life when you think about it. Is there anybody who wouldn't do whatever it takes to protect the person who is everything to them? I would...and have. Great chapter.

Carole W said...

I agree with you, R1. Jenny isn't a bad person at all and she'd never purposefully hurt Catherine. Her enthusiasms and light-hearted nature are delightful. But the Stephen episode showed the other side of that. I feel bad for both of them.

The BatB story is a fairy tale, but both Vincent and Catherine struggle with serious issues. Some of their choices affect only themselves, but some have farther-reaching ramifications - or could. Catherine has to stand for Vincent, for them and that's not always easy.

I remember an interview with LH and RP I saw back in the day. She described BatB as a love story with obstacles. The best parts of the story are the overcoming of them, the getting to happily ever after, which sadly, doesn't mean there aren't losses along the way.

Sometimes following ones heart leads over some rocky terrain and the path can be so lonely and you might long for a shortcut, but for C and V, the destination is, as you pointed out, worth everything.

Thank you for reading, R1, and for your friendship and encouragement. I treasure it.