Iron Behind the Velvet - Chapter 44

~ The Fountains of My Hidden Life 1
                                   are through thy friendship fair


Had she spoken aloud?

She wasn’t sure ... or certain what she meant.

Eimear stood close – deer-still. Catherine’s gaze held hers, then flickered away, back to the stern expanse of tight-jawed steel. No less than the sliding panel beneath the park, the elevator’s doors had closed away a world and beside them, the arrow-up, the signal of return, of possibility, remained dark. A peevish grumble sighed through the cables and subsided.

It was almost too much, this charade, this effort to live above, denying the best part of her, concealing her heart’s best treasure. In the polished metal, a dim and watery reflection danced ... hers, but only a half-truth. A band tightened rib to rib; her heart stuttered. Tears, words, dreams ... everything ... threatened release.

For months she’d walked a fine, long edge, an edge honed by the whetstone of her secret, by the stop she encountered whenever she imagined taking Jenny – anyone – below. But now ... Eimear. And through her, Rosie. Through her, Martin. Flynn. Their every meeting, from first to this, seemed a meditation point along the labyrinth to its center, an energy moving, stirring, pulling them forward into its flow. That Eimear – as if through a gap of tumbled bricks – would appear at this moment, stand with her, moor her ... seemed more than a gift.

Chinese Herbals in jars
She could press for the car and it would rise; the gates would open again. She could shepherd Eimear through ... downstairs ... outside ... past Columbus Park, past Mulberry, to Mott Street, to Dr. Wong’s on Pell. They might barrel into the apothecary stirring the dust of bone and horn and herbs, through secret basement doors that Lin would, without question, hold open for her. Through a wonderland, they might then walk ... home.

She remembered the alarm on Mouse’s face when she chuted into his chamber, on Jamie’s at first sight of her. A friend of Vincent’s, she’d said, and all was changed. He was the key to her admission, her sanction. 

A friend of mine? Might her words grant similar passage?

Catherine ... 

She expected Father’s voice ... There is a process! ... longed for Vincent’s, velvet over his iron trust ... Beside you, before anyone, whenever you are ready ... 


But it was Eimear whispering, Eimear squeezing her hand – hard – and letting go, Eimear who inclined her head ever so slightly in signal.

“Hey!” Joe said, nearly at her elbow. Catherine wheeled on him, the suddenness forcing him back. “Whoa! Careful!” His eyes sparked, then veiled and narrowed. His listening eyes, she’d called them when, after their first courtroom win, over coffee and celebration, he’d taught her nuance and subtlety, the several ways to read a jury. “Hi, Eimear,” he said and a studied beat passed. “What’s up? Everything okay?”

A straining briefcase in one hand, his gym bag slung from a shoulder, Joe was laden with obligation, buoyed by hope. She canted a look at Eimear, in it a willed plea for understanding, and reached for her ready cloak, worn supple by necessity. With a slow, teasing grin, she surveyed his burden. “Mmm-hmm,” she purred, the pesky sister.

A dusky flush rose from his unbuttoned collar and in a masking two-step, he shifted on his feet, shoving the duffle behind him – jingled and pocketed his keys. With the lift of his chin, by the sweep of his thumb low across his throat disguised as a tug on his loosened tie, he telegraphed a warning. “Jenny leave already?” Over his shoulder, he scanned the room.

“She did. She’s getting married!”

His head snapped around. “Married? You’re kidding! You mean today? Now?”

“To Ned of the mirror?” Eimear’s question dovetailed Joe’s.

“No! In August probably and in Charleston.” Catherine laughed and turned to Eimear. “And yes. To that Ned.”

“Ah! Ro will surely love that. She’ll be thrilled to learn her wares ignite such ... fireworks.” Eimear’s smile flashed, as wide and bright as the full moon.

Joe blushed again and rubbed the back of his neck. “Well, that’s, umm, good, right? I guess that explains why she was so anxious to talk to you yesterday.”

Catherine held her breath, but Eimear said nothing about their meeting in the laundromat. Nothing in her expression betrayed the mystery she’d touched, the world she’d glimpsed. The armor Catherine wore softened.

“So where’d they run off to?” Joe continued. “You going somewhere to celebrate?”

No. No celebration. “They had reservations somewhere,” she said and hurried on. “Joe helped Rosie with a project yesterday. At the Cloisters.”

“Did you! And have you heard from her today? I’ve not and I worry for her, driving the old van all the way to Rochester ... and all by herself.” With a simple pause, a sliding step off to one side, Eimear captured Joe’s attentions.

Thank you, she wanted to say – would say – the moment they were alone.

She half-turned and checked her watch, a slow exhale concealed by a fine curtain of hair. In its far corner, her desk was striped with sunlight, the air above it powdery and gold. She longed to push away the clutter, to clear its surface, to rest her head on her arms for just a moment, to say ...

Goodbye, Jenny. 

Too heavy, too hopeless the thought, she drew new breath to temper the words.

For now ... 

Though once, regardless of the uncertain way, she’d offered them with such surety, like candy floss, these dissolved unvoiced on her tongue. On either side of the river, they both were turned away, and nothing less than the truth – about Stephen, about Vincent – would bring them back. Perhaps, downstream, the banks would narrow; perhaps a bridge of stones would arch from the waters. Perhaps not ... but she would live with her decision.

Relief and regret, exhilaration, exhaustion chimed a reverberant chord. Hours must pass before she would somehow find him, hold him, whisper the day to him, tell him ... tell him it was over. Over. As the moon across a night sky, she’d dodged behind the fleece of clouds, had raced shadow to shadow in advance of this confrontation with Jenny, this last moment before the quake and shift. And the anticipation of the sticking point had been far worse than its braving.

I’m sad. Of course I am. But when the time came to choose, there was no choice. I stand for us. Never imagine I weigh my old life heavy against my new. What we have is worth everything.

Oh, Vincent. I am ready. Finally, ready for you, for all that is to come. Some doors will close ... have closed, but this commitment, our full faith in each other, will open new doors – to places and people, experiences we’ve never imagined. We just have to walk through.
light on chamber steps

Across the room, at her slatted window, a brilliance burned. It was only a trick of the sun impatient to descend, eager for elsewhere. At this hour, below in their chambers, the slant of light would inch along the floor, illuminating even the watercourse on the far wall, reflecting in mirrors of mica. Prismed colors would dance back across the stone. One could stand in the middle of their atrium and rainbows, like butterflies, would shimmer skin and hair and clothes. There were no words for the magic. It must be seen. Shared.

Henry was below as Lin’s choice; Wren as Stuart’s. Even Margaret – her welcome paved by Father’s constancy. And Vincent, that fateful night ... Breaking the fundamental rule, he’d carried her below. Trusting her on no evidence, he’d revealed the secret. Eimear’s voice ... Joe’s ... bantered past. As if around a wishing stone, her hand closed on the angle scope secreted in the pocket of her vest. If only ... she began.

Without consulting Father, Vincent had changed the priorities of the crew’s work, had journeyed alone in investigation. He’d kept Kanin’s disappearance, the threat of Mitch, off the pipes. My decisions, he’d said and beneath his agitation, she’d heard a resonant chord of grit and mettle and resolve. Will I find that place? Would her footing firm? With confidence, with willingness to bear any consequence, might she one day stand before the community, spread her hands and say ... My family. My decisions.

Beside you. Before anyone. Whenever you are ready, he’d said. A wave crested within her, smoothing onto roiled sand ...

I thought I understood, Vincent, but there was another layer of meaning, one I had to discover for myself. This ... power ... won’t be granted. Not by Father. Not by you. Not ever. It comes from me. I have to recognize it, trust it. I have to claim it. 

Through the angled blinds, light surged and receded. Overhead, a faulty fluorescent flickered – a candle guttering in a soft-spoken wind. That breath brushed her crown. Warmth blossomed – against her cheek, low on her spine – an arc of energy ribboning between the touches, a fleet, ephemeral embrace. So simple. So simple after all.

“It’s a prestigious program,” Joe was saying as he pressed for the car. “I hope she–”

Catherine broke in. “A teaching position? At RIT? I thought it was just a seminar!” She glanced at Joe. A crease deepened at one corner of his mouth, an unreadable punctuation. “She’s leaving?”

“For only a summer’s session should she get the job,” Eimear said. “Cover for an instructor’s short leave. I argued for taking Andrew along but she wants the shop kept open, though I think she’s worried that if the show’s not well received or her lecture falls flat ...”

“That won’t happen.” As best he could given his baggage, Joe crossed his arms.

“Well ...” Eimear inspected the buckle of her purse strap. “I hate to think of her having no one in the seats cheering her on or packing away all her pieces by herself. Driving back alone Wednesday morning, whether her talk goes well or sour. That van’s been known to refuse to start and even if it runs, it’s six hours of lonely road ...”

“Joe,” Catherine drawled. “Didn’t you say you weren’t feeling well?”

“What’re you talking about? I feel fine.”

“Now don’t go all stoic on us. You look terrible!”

He frowned. “I do?”

“What do you think, Eimear?”

“A bit wobbly about the eyes, yes.” she agreed. “A sad case. Gabh an oíche ‘twould be my advice.”

“Huh?” Joe asked.

“You could grab a commuter flight tomorrow afternoon,” Catherine said, sidling closer to him, her voice low. "You’d be there in a couple hours. Moreno’s in Albany and we’re not going anywhere on our cases. You know that. Some time away might give you a whole new perspective.”

“I don’t know.” Joe studied the scuffed floor, raising his head when the elevator dinged opened. “Wait a minute,” he crowed. “Hold the phone. I know a con when I hear one. I don’t know how you two managed– Hey, you want a day off, Radcliffe, you gotta ask me. But the answer’s no ...” He backed across the threshold and reached for the buttons. “That is, unless you come down with whatever I’ve got.” He waved goodbye, waggling his fingers. The doorway narrowed. She let out all her breath in a long sigh and heard its soft-whistled echo.

The maintenance cart rumbled in from the hallway. A grave and wiry man – a hawk’s nose over a bushy mustache, a braid of white hair half-way down his back – maneuvered his tools down the office aisle. “Hi, Stan,” Catherine said as he passed. He answered with a two-fingered -V-. Beneath the dimmed fixture, he telescoped and spread his ladder, snapping the braces into place. “Let’s go back to my desk, okay?” Her arm laced with Eimear’s, she led a detour around Stan’s rolling workshop, past  Mei-Xing’s desk where she sat, her chin propped in one palm, her pencil resting on a yellow pad dark with notes, her eyes cast down, just fluttering shut.

 “What was that you said?” she asked when they were out of earshot. “The advice you gave Joe?”

“Advice?” Eimear hesitated. “Ah, right,” she said. “‘Twas a suggestion, really. Gabh an oíche.”

“Meaning ...?”

Seize the night, more or less.”

Catherine dragged a chair desk-side and stood behind it, both hands on the cresting rail. “The Irish equivalent to Carpe diem?”

“He might should ... seize them both, I mean. Do you think he will?”

Old-fashioned Candies
“Fly to Rochester?” She imagined Joe already at his gym, imagined his brow furrowed with self-assessment, the muttered dressing-down she knew he sometimes delivered to himself. Months ago, his door left ajar, she’d overheard a staccato list of short-comings, an accompanying thwunk of darts. Outside, prowling the hallway, she guarded the privacy he assumed, itching to burst in, to refute each perceived flaw. When finally she eased inside, a binder of testimony in her arms, though wrinkled wings at the corners of his eyes seemed more evidence of pain than humor, he grinned boyishly at her and dropped two Root Beer Barrels and a small box of Lemonheads in her hand. He shoved shut his candy drawer with his knee, with more force than was necessary and she’d asked no questions. She’d seen him at times oblivious to interest and intimation, so obtuse she considered tearing her own hair. And once, in a fool’s-gold infatuation, she’d almost lost him. After Erica, he’d first vowed No more, modifying that soon enough to No more lawyers, and until Nia, he’d kept his resolution. I met her in the grocery store, he protested. So it doesn’t count. And always, there was the steady undercurrent of his feelings for her, feelings spilled without fan-fare, without drama, but spilled at last.

Another moment I dreaded and avoided that somehow freed us both, she realized, for just that morning he’d asked her, How long do you think it takes? and Do you think it’s possible? But hope and uncertainty seemed too evenly balanced. She shook her head and rounded to her own chair. “I can’t guess. I’ll have to come to work tomorrow to find out.”

Cairn Laith Steps

The air seemed charged yet freshened, and she was reminded of a day in Scotland when, with her father, on the wind-dashed northeasterly coast, they’d descended the Whaligoe Steps. They approached along a grassy avenue, through a kissing gate, past a chambered cairn – its entrance a dark, underground passage – past a row of low cottages, veering finally to a cobbled walk and the topmost stone stair. Three hundred, sixty-five of them, her father announced, folding the guidebook into his pocket. One for each day since her mother’s passing.

Whaligoe Steps
Though she kept her father’s tweed coat in view, she dawdled behind, wary of the fierce wind, of the sea she heard dashing the rocks below ... of counting off the days. Sea birds spiraled overhead, their calls urging her on. When she began the last winding flight, the gusts stilled; the mists fell. And between two high cliffs, the narrow sea creek smoothed to azure glass. The scent of salt and flowers drifted on the soft current; the energy about her stronger in its calm than in its rage. Beyond the scree of puffins and kittiwakes, she heard her mother’s voice. Here, sweetheart. Here begins a new life. 2

“What a day,” Catherine murmured. “What must you be thinking?”

“Days,” Eimear corrected. Settled in her seat, her forearms braced on the desktop, she began a second sentence, but sat back and tapped her fingers against her lips.

The middle-most row of overhead lights winked out. Eimear started and swiveled her chair. A cartoon-sized stopwatch aloft in one hand, his thumb hopping button to button, Stan hustled from the bank of wall switches across the office floor to his cart. He crouched and disappeared, then rose into view pulling on white cotton gloves. Half-way up the ladder, in a fluid reach, he culled a long, milky bulb from its upended crate. Then, perched at the top, the tube held close to his nose, he drew it slowly through his cupped hand before he notched and lodged the pins. He dug in his pocket for the timepiece, pumped his fist and scrambled down. Catherine, leaning out, watched over Eimear’s shoulder, shrugging when she turned back, perplexed, her brows raised.

She smiled I have no idea ... and Eimear smiled Odd enough, eh? ... and the room was bright again.

Eimear folded her hands in her lap. “I’ll not lie to you. I’m so curious as to what’s happened I could eat nails. It’s only that I can’t sort out the first question, Catherine. Believe that.”

She made a small sound in her throat, a half-laugh. “It’s reasonable to expect answers.”

“But not a given that one’s to be received,” Eimear said. “Jenny must have asked the unanswerable.”

Catherine nodded. “Her wedding. The party in Charleston. All our friends from college. She expects me ... she wants me to bring ...”


Too rare above, his name, spoken aloud, spoken by another. She savored its hushed syllables, wanting to repeat them, shout them skyward, to affirm him.

“But you can’t.” Eimear finished, tracing a pattern in the tiny seed stitch of her sweater along her collarbone to the cap of her shoulder, the laced, leather insert of Vincent’s shirt outlined by the memory of her fingers. “He can’t.”

“And I can’t tell her why.” Her gaze willed meaning to her spare words. “She doesn’t know his name. Or how we met.” But I told you. I told Martin. Not everything, but at least ... at least his name.

Eimear turned her wrist – in the smallest gesture of her hand, entreaty.

“Something happened,” Catherine began, “a long time ago. Something Jenny was a part of. I resisted the truth and Vincent was ... wounded ... far more gravely than I was.” She closed her eyes, caught her lip in her teeth. “I’ve told her just enough to hurt her.”

“And what you’re not telling ...”

“Is everything. Everything that matters to me. Who I really am. There was a time ...” she whispered, her palm pressed to the hollow of her throat, “a time when I’d have said my life was impossible. It seemed complicated and full of risks. Now, I’m starting to see how simple it is if I stop ...” Stop what? Denying? Arguing? Greedily, stubbornly insisting?

“And today, you let go. The hour of departure.3

“Yes.” Oh abandoned one ...4; On tears kept to a silent welling, the final words of the poem came to her ... and the depth of Jenny’s pain, her hard surprise.

“You’ll be lonely for her, ” Eimear said and Catherine nodded. “Will you tell him?”

“I will ... but I won’t have to.” Already she felt the brace of his arms.

“Is there no fix, Catherine? No amend she might make?”

“I can’t take the chance. I guard him here. I stand between ...”

Forward in her chair, Eimear turned her ear to the secret. “Between ...”

A moment passed, one so quiet she could hear in it the bluster of forced air through the duct overhead, a hushed mimic of the buffeting wind on those ancient Scottish steps ... in the chamber of the winds below.

“Between my world,” she said, “ ... and his.”

Click HERE for Chapter 45.


1. Ralph Waldo Emerson. Friendship. from Essays: First Series. 1841.
2. Dante Alighieri. La Vita Nuova. 1295.
3. Pablo Neruda. A Song of Despair. from Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair. 1924.
4. Ibid.


Kemara said...

Oh Carole! This was worth the wait! I will confess that my first thought upon finishing was that dumb phrase, "I am woman. Hear me roar." But it's true....this was all about Catherine's moment of truth, when she decides to leave her side of the river and and stand in the middle of the water as a bridge between Above and Below.

Here begins a new life, indeed! Bravo!

Vicky said...

Magic! I was so looking forward to this conversation, and loved every word of it! Please say there's more to it... Her moment of truth indeed,ssigh.
I know one day, soon, they will feel her, and she will feel them as her family, too. And I'm thrilled she's considering taking this leap of faith!
Oh, Carole, this was so worthed the wait! Finally... freedom...
Love you.

SandyX said...

Ahhh, Carole ... you've given us yet another chapter full of wonderful things. I feel pulled toward the center of that labyrinth along with the rest. Everything feels very hopeful, with Catherine's growing certainty in her decisions and the realization that it doesn't have to be so hard.

I do love Joe, and his dialog with C and Eimear here was fun and true. And speaking of fun ... Stan's strange little bulb changing routine ... LOL.

And this passage is just absolutely beautiful, "Sea birds spiraled overhead, their calls urging her on. When she began the last winding flight, the gusts stilled; the mists fell. And between two high cliffs, the narrow sea creek smoothed to azure glass. The scent of salt and flowers drifted on the soft current; the energy about her stronger in its calm than in its rage. Beyond the scree of puffins and kittiwakes, she heard her mother’s voice. Here, sweetheart. Here begins a new life" [sigh]

Thank you for this. I'll gladly wait as long for the next.


RomanticOne said...

Wow! What a decision-packed chapter! Catherine has decided she can't bring herself to trust Jenny but she's beginning to think she can trust Eimear. It's sad about Jenny but Catherine's life has changed so much that someone like Eimear just fits her better now. I never thought Jenny would have really understood, not like Eimear will. Joe makes a hesitant decision about Rose. Should be interesting to follow. Another wonderful chapter. Can't wait for the next one.

Carole W said...

Kemara, bless you for your patience! You'll never know the relief I felt reading your first sentence. I still can't believe it's been so long since the last posted chapter. Where did all that time go? It all passes too quickly. I wasn't cleaning my house - of that I'm positive!

Catherine said once 'some secrets give us strength'. She has more strength than she ever imagined. Vincent too ... as he'll recognize more and more.

Do you know Marianne Williamson? (She wrote Return to Love and several others) This from her:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

That just says V and C to me. [It's a much longer passage with more that speaks to their story, I think] I hope in this chapter Catherine's light gains wattage. I love her character, how she bears up, plows ahead, never gives in.

Thanks so much for reading and your generous comments. You're so kind to encourage me. It matters.


Carole W said...

Vicky! Bless you too for being so forgiving of the wait. I'd expect people to forget the storyline with so much time in between. Thanks for saying the gap is forgivable.

I did hover over every word of this, probably changing all of them two or three times. Scenes of pure conversation are hard for me - and this one- Catherine's - was complicated. She has so much she needs to say, yet she's still at work! It was a challenge to decide what she'd say first, here - what she'll save to say. That you enjoyed this one means everything.

I cherish your first word (all of them actually). You know that.


Carole W said...

Sandy - Hugs to you for your encouragement and kindness. That you've enjoyed the winding-in, that you're forgiving of my slowness and angst ... how lucky am I???

I know in my own life, I've worked myself into a lather pre-worrying situations, to find afterward, I'd spent more emotional effort dreading than dealing. Of course, I tend to say to myself, well if I prepare for the absolute worst, the real thing won't be so bad, so let's keep up the angst. I hope C and V can learn things faster and better than I can.

Who knows about that Stan. Was that flashed -V- for Victory? Peace? or -V- for Vincent? Maybe he'll come back someday and explain himself.

I love Joe - I'm glad you enjoyed his part in this scene. I want to write the Joe/Rosie love story - can we as V/C fans enjoy an alternate character romance? It'll have impact on V/C and their lives.

And you have to know - it's thrilling to find a passage quoted as you have - so encouraging to know you found it pleasing. Truly, you made me feel teary. In a very good way.

Thank you Sandy.

Carole W said...

R1 - bless you too! I'm glad to know I haven't lost you in the wait. Thank you for your thoughtful response and your very kind words.

I'm pleased to hear the Joe/Rosie story is intriguing to you. I think V and C will be pleased with what eventually happens there.

What a relief to read you had reservations about Jenny as well! It's a risk, theoretically writing off a familiar, popular character. Though I'm not giving up on her completely, that lack of protective instinct ...

What's required within a person to make that leap of faith secure? Isaac had it - C told him Vincent's name and didn't even flinch when he most clearly saw him and the entrance to his world. We can only imagine what she told Nancy. Probably not the specifics but --- hmmm, that could be a story in itself. Will Joe have that special heart?

Catherine's life has changed. Often I feel, no, I know, mine has changed - through C and V have come many, many gifts.

And thank you for yours, R1, your gifts. You've given me so much by reading and sharing your thoughts.


Krista said...

Oh, Carole. This is so...just so...right. Freedom, the meeting of the worlds, even in these small points of contact. I'm with Sandy in that labyrinth you've written for us, but I'm in no hurry to get out. ;-)

I found a quote this morning by Aristotle: "What is a friend? A single soul in two bodies." I know Catherine understands that, and the responsibility that comes along with it, and somehow Eimear does as well. Jenny, too casual with Catherine's hurts, isn't there yet.

Great job, Carole. Again and still. :)

Brit said...

Even though Vincent wasn't there-he felt there to me. His strength-C feeling his embrace-his gentle guidance and reassurance...I clearly felt V was there.
C trusting E! Will E in return trust C-unburden herself to C?
OH CAROLE! "Here begins a new life"..truly deep impacting words. I concur. Here-has begun something new..For V and C.."We just have to walk through." and I am excited to see where these new doors lead. =]

NYC Utopia said...

Thank you!!

Carole W said...

Thanks, Krista! For reading and for your thoughtful study. I really appreciate you. And thanks for being willing to meander in the labyrinth a while longer. I'm pretty sure it'll be a while before we wind our way out.

About Jenny, Eimear and readiness. There has to be almost an 'it' factor that determines who can be trusted with the secret - something undefinable that's nevertheless obvious if it's there. LOL, I sound like a judge on American Idol.

Love the Aristotle quote. Even then, people knew there was such a thing as bonded beings. I've been reading about Soul Groups - and thinking - perhaps that's what draws this BatB family together - we've broken off the same originating body. Because you either get it or you don't. I don't think you can be converted or instructed in things Batb.

Again and always, thank you. :-)

Carole W said...

Brit, you sweetheart. Thanks for finding a little bit of Vincent in this chapter. He's with C in spirit for sure, too long now - even though it's less than 24 hours, story wise. I promise some tangible interaction soon. She has much to tell him ... and more fixing to happen that he'll want to know about.

I don't think it'll be quite so long for the next chapter which will answer your question about Eimear and Catherine. I had a scene that could have been part of this chapter about half written but when I knew I wouldn't get it finished even this weekend, I chose a different stopping point. Consequently I'm several hundred words into 46.
Yea! I forget my own story with so many weeks between chapters!

Thank you for reading and commenting. It does keep me enthused and focused to know you've enjoyed the story so far.


Carole W said...

Ah, Claire. You're welcome!


AZLadyWolf said...


I didn't get lost - RL keeps me away, so I have to read alot to catch up. These past few chapters are thrilling, and I find myself holding my breath as everything is starting to connect! Yessssss!
All the thoughts of our Family flow so true, make the readers emotional connection so smooth, easy and unquestioning. So we laugh with them, cry with them, hope and love with them. (And I did cry when Catherine thought "I stand for us." I love the way you bridge episodes!)
Thanks for sharing your gift - Master WordWeaver that you are --

Your writing is a glowing Jewel in my life.....

Three Writers said...

Hear my applause amidst that of all your gracious and grateful readers, dear Friend! What a lovely family you're gathered here. Each word of praise for you is a joy to read ... the whipped cream on the (chocolate :)) sundae that is your chapter! Nancy

Carole W said...

Ah, Laura. You are so kind. How can I thank you? It's very encouraging to hear that a certain part of a scene was moving, and definitely it's good to know the story still has punch after all these chapters. I promise it is winding up, but still, there's a lot of story yet.

I sat this afternoon, kind of plotting out the remaining big moments. I'm not entirely sure how all things will come about - these characters surprise me sometimes - but it's time for some of those connections to be tangibly made. Who'll be first?

Thank you so much for sticking with me all these months. I'll never forget your generous words, your support. Carole

Carole W said...

Nancy, you dear thing. Thank you.

This is a family - I'm realizing it more and more - and a family of more than choice, more of inevitability. There's something about those who get it that can't be explained and there is such a thing as The Bond!

I am positive I'd have considered giving up on this slow story at several points except for the encouragement I've found. The kindness of others works a kind of magic within me. I want to pass it on.

Nancy, you and Vicky were the first to welcome me home more than 2 years ago. How happy that made me - and still does.


Vicky said...

Carole, I had to come back and re-read this, and I swear it was twice as powerful. I want to hug Catherine and let her know there are so many who understand! :-D
"Beside you. Before anyone. Whenever you are ready." Again, this is beautiul, so Vincent.
And the "Ceaze the night" was perfect! I wish I knew how to say it the irish way...
Nice play with the Falls scene in "Remember love" there! Yes, Eimier would know.
So many wonderful, heart-filling bits in this chapter, Carole, thank you! "I guard him here"; for some reason, that just tugged at me, a warm feeling, you know. "I stand between my world and his"; such an obvious fact between them, and yet hearing the words from her makes you realise how powerful a truth it is.
Did I tell you I love this chapter?

Vicky said...

PS: Do you know how to pronounce that, Eimear's way? I would ask you to record it... but we better leave it for a live resson three weeks from now!

Carole W said...

Vicky, you are a dear. Thank you! Yes, I had to use that line from Remember Love, since I think Vincent only dreamed it! LOL.

I'm so pleased you enjoyed this chapter. Thank you for telling me.

I asked the Irish translation folks for a phonetic spelling and I got it PLUS a correction for the phrase. They've decided seize the night is best said as:

Gabh an oíche

the sounding-out would be:

gow unn EE-hyeh [the ch in oíche is actually a sound not found in English}

And someone posted this for me:

You can use this link to get to a site where you can type in Irish words or phrases and hear them pronounced, but note that it seems to work better word by word or in small chunks, and it favors the Ulster dialect


Love and hugs and thank you, thank you for reading.

Sonia Who? said...

I could feel Catherine's deep angst in this chapter, as well as her hope. I also felt Vincent's presence with her, strengthening her, comforting her.

Am I the only one that's sad that Catherine can't trust Jenny? I know Jenny made a stupid mistake, but I think that she truly loves Catherine and deserves another chance to prove herself worthy of her friendship and trust. So is their friendship over? It's sad if that's the case, but Vincent is worth any sacrifices. I hope a close friendship with Eimear can develop soon. And I hope her talk with Eimear that started here continues in the next chapter.

I love Joe and, like Sandy, I too liked his dialogue with Catherine and Eimear. Poor Joe, he feel so inadequate and insecure about what he could offer Rosie. He doesn't see what a good catch he is, such a good man with lots to offer. I would very much enjoy the Joe/Rosie love story, so please write it. I can't wait to read what happens when he meets with Rosie.

I also found the passage from this chapter that Sandy quoted in her comment beautiful as well, it's pure poetry. And the picture is wonderful too.

Hope the day will come soon when Catherine feel like she truly belongs, that she's truly part of the family Below, feel they truly accept her and think of her as one of their own.

Since you mentioned Isaac in one of your comments, I hope you write about him soon, here or in another story. I think he would make a good ally to Vincent and he could teach him and some of the others Below about non-lethal self-defense fighting. I also hope that someday Joe can also know Catherine's secrets and become a friend to Vincent and those Below.

Sorry for not commenting for the last few chapters. I promise to do so when I re-read the story once it's completed. Please don't think that my not commenting on a chapter is because I didn't enjoy it, because that's not it at all. I think this story is wonderful and you're doing a great job writing it. I recommended it to others every chance I get.

I figure there's a lot more story left to tell, so it will be a long novel indeed, but I like long stories as long as they are good ones, and this one is definitely a good one and worth waiting for. I'm looking forward to more conversations between friends, new friendships deepening, secrets revealed, more dreams becoming reality... Want Vincent talking and confiding with Martin again soon, just as I want Catherine talking and confiding with Eimear more. Also look forward to our favorite couple spending some quality time together to enjoy themselves. Will they be able to take a belated and much deserved honeymoon after all of the things that need to happen in this story take place? Anyway, please don't worry so much about how long the story is getting or how long it takes you to write each chapter, just have fun with it and don't worry so much about time table. So please don't worry so much, your fans love you. Thanks for continuing to intrigue and enchant us with your writing.

Many hugs

Carole W said...

Hi Sonia!

I think it's sad about Jenny too, and I don't give up entirely on her. I think the problem Catherine has is that she sees it as more than a mistake, more a character issue. Still, people can grow and change. Perhaps one day, circumstances will arise that reopen this door. We'll see! :-)

About Isaac - it's been a long long time since I posted the first chapters - but Jamie and a few others are already taking lessons from Isaac. One of these days, he'll get a story of his own. I like his character a whole lot.

You're mapping out another two years worth of story-writing, Sonia! Yikes. But I do have the Joe/Rosie story to tell. And why not - a long, gauzy C/V reunion story. That sounds like a whole lot of fun

Thank you so much for saying such nice things about this story. It really means a lot to me that you'd recommend I/V to others. And you're kind and generous not to stomp your foot when I'm so slow.


Ann B. said...

This seemed to be a chapter of drawing together... and drawing apart.

I have only read it a couple of times now. I think this one I will have to read at least twice more before it really comes together for me. You have a way of layering nuance and meaning, so many different threads coming together to form the complex tapestry that is life Above and Below. Your stories are not McDonald's fast food to snatch at a run but a feast, substantial and satisfying to be experienced and savored.

Eimear seems to have become a touchstone of sorts that will allow SOO much magic to happen. For everyone including Vincent. For Catherine as well who so needs someone who instinctively understands as Eimear seems to do.

Sounds like E and C are doing a little matcmaking to share some of that magic with Joe and Rosie. Those two don't stand a chance! Oh, but what a wonderful journey they have coming.

I know it will not, cannot, be the end between Jenny and Catherine. They have experienced too much together. Jenny IS a part of that world and will one day find her way home. She was the one that was there after the watcher, she was the one that made it possible for V and C to receive their portrait and she was the one Catherine tried to contact in the anathema S3 when she found out she was pregnant. No... it is not an end, only a pause, hopefully a short one. But perhaps a needed one so that Catherine can fully accept the she can allow important doors to close and still survive the experience.

Aaack! I promised myself I would inflict my usual drawn out meandering on you but it seems I have failed again! I suppose I am fortunate that you can't reach through the screen and snatch the keyboard from my hands. Hmmmm??

Vicky said...

Hmmm... I have to respectfully but strongly dissagree with Ann about Jenny. Of course I'm sure it won't be the end between these friends, but I hope it is where Vincent is concerned, for the greater good. Yes: Jenny is a part of that world, and one problem I see is that she's too much a part of that world, know what I mean? She's just... too loud.
But regardless, she was there in "The watcher" only because she had that weird dream and insisted, not because Catherine chose to include her. And as far as I know, she had nothing to do with the portrait! That was all Kristofer's doing, and they would have had their painting anyway, gallery or no gallery show.
Her carelessness in "Down to a sunless sea" was not "just a tiny" mistake: it could have been the end of everything. The end of Catherine's life, to begin with; not to mention what it meant for Vincent. Apparently to Jenny it was no big deal, but another "I realised I shouldn't have" wouldn't be enough if she ever got to "accidentally" betray Catherine's trust with such a crucial secret!
Vincent and Catherine, their love, their world... So strong, and yet so vulnerable.
More later! But I had to get this out before I forgot.

Carole W said...

Hi Ann! Thank you so much for keeping on with me in this story. You say such nice things. I can only hope that there is nuance and layer and that all will come together fully by the end.

What? You ask ... will there ever be an end?

I keep looking back through and just don't see a point where I could have broken this story into two. And so, if it goes 60 chapters, I'll keep on until I get to the end. I actually do see it, but it is a ways off yet.

I've been reading some about soul families. There are levels of connection - the twin flame being the highest and a singularity. Soul mates can number many - certainly more than one. And there are members of soul groups - like Eimear, Rosie and Martin seem to be with Catherine and Vincent, - like those of us who 'get' BatB on an inexplicable level. It's a special bond, that's for sure.

About Jenny. I don't think it's over for C and Jenny, but I just don't think Jenny has - yet, anyway - that spark that swears the necessary vow for the secret. < I don't know what you mean about a 3rd season! ;-) > There's a reason C never told Jenny Vincent's name, when she told Nancy and Isaac so easily.

The moment between C and J was inevitable. At this point, Catherine can't have both Vincent and Jenny. Jenny can't understand; Catherine can't explain. Vincent told her their secret was borne at the cost of all her other dreams. And while Catherine loves Jenny, cherishes their history, it's not a necessary follow that Jenny can be told. Once Jenny knows that C has someone in her life, she'd reasonably expect to meet him. When that can't or doesn't yet happen, Jenny has a right to be hurt and angry.

I've had to face the strange loss of a very close (I thought) almost sister-friend. It was never explained and I could only guess at the reasons. I hate it, but life does throw the unhittable curveball sometimes. Dealing with loss and the repercussions of our choices, good and bad, are, as Catherine said, the other sides of joy and success.

I know my assessment of Jenny isn't particularly popular, but I think it illustrates how very much harder this all is for Catherine. Vincent said it once -I'm sure he did, disagreeing with Father - that her burden is far heavier than his. It was for that very reason I had to search for Catherine's soul group. Thank goodness the universe moved and gave her Eimear, I've enjoyed getting to know them.

Now how can I not enjoy your 'meandering' post (it didn't meander, by the way, but flowed seamlessly). I'm truly grateful for your thoughtful response and really glad you've read this far.


Carole W said...

Vicky, you make good points. I think that's it in a nutshell. Jenny didn't show the natural instinct to protect Catherine from Stephen Bass as best she could. Of course, Stephen would have found Cathy anyway, some other way, but if it hadn't come through Jenny, Catherine would have had an entirely different "truth beyond knowledge" about Jenny.

I was struck while watching Orphans the other night - Catherine sat in the hospital all day and into the night all by herself. She didn't call Jenny (on camera anyway) and Jenny wasn't at her father's funeral. (Joe wasn't either. I know it was more a tv budget thing than a story line thing, but it's what we were given.) You'd have thought Cathy would have at least called her!

You know, I have girlfriends whom I love who just DO NOT get why I connect so with V and C's story. I try to explain it, but their eyes glaze with a kind of pity and concern mixed with laughter. I get, right away, that I can't share certain things with them. And because I don't trust them with my whole self, even though we're still friends- there's a barrier. It's a "totally above" kind of friendship, LOL.

Okay, this reply really does meander - loop, crisscross, wad up ... I should stop.

Thanks Vicky, always, for reading and being part of my soul family!


Brit said...


NYC Utopia said...

What Brit said!

Brandy said...

"Her heart's best treasure." WHAT a beautiful line. That feels like love.

I've never heard of the Wailoge (?) steps; thank you for including the lovely picture. The underground holds such interesting mythological importance in British Isles' mythology - traditionally the land of Fairy. I've often thought of how Below is our modern land of Fairy.

Thank goodness for the comment board! I had to reformat my laptop, and very cleverly lost the poetry link I use so often! I managed to find it again, after culling some chapter commentary.

Kemara, your comment about Catherine made me laugh, and Vicky, your moment of truth comment had me searching for poems. I finally had to fall back on Emily Dickenson, dear thing that she is.

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant
By Emily Dickinson

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant --
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind --

I loved the imagery of Catherine's truth "dazzling gradually."

Dang it, I must mail that package for you tomorrow! I too, want to hear about the convention. You're our connection to the wider world of BATB.

Vicky said...

"My/Her heart's best treasure", inspired by "Surprised by joy" (our first Everything project!)

Love that poem, Brandy! It's so... right! I love the comment board too; love it when this happens!

We indeed have too much to tell about the con. You should truly try to come next year! And everyone else who couldn't make it.

Big hugs.

Carole W said...

Brit, thanks for the welcome back. I've yet to settle back into real life, but today i go back to recording and tomorrow, oh joy, I get to go back to the dentist.

I've got my pictures off the camera and into the computer. Now I just have to load everything to our photobucket account. A bunch of us will use the same site so there'll be lots of perspective.

More later! I'm running so late.

Carole W said...

Thanks, Claire. It was incomplete without you though.

Next year, everyone should try to attend in New Orleans. It's really something else.

Carole W said...

Brandy, I wish I could take credit for that line, alas, Wordsworth lays claim to it. Drat.

Love the Dickinson, as always. And as always, I'm glad to see you here. And ooh, a package? Wheee! Your packages are always a delight.

got to run. I'm going to be so late today.
more later,
hugs to all

Brandy said...

Carole, your "author care package" is in the mail and on its way! You should see it later this week. :)

I understand what you are getting at with Jenny and the parallel with the friends who "don't get" your BATB obsession. There are some things you share with some friends, and some you just can't share with another, because, as you said, their eyes glaze over, or they pity you. You find other ways to connect with them, and sometimes, there is a split. It's sad, but valid. I'm sure we haven't heard the last from Jenny, and maybe someday...

Carole W said...

Oh Brandy - the care package did arrive and I am astounded. Somehow I'm going to have to work it into the story. An amulet, with strong powers.

Watch your email for my most sincere thank you.

No - Jenny's story will continue. Perhaps not in I/V but there is the Ned/familiarity story to tell and there she'll be too. The outcome of it depends a lot on her depth of character, so we'll have to see how and if and when.

The greatest thing about the convention was the freedom of it. We didn't talk BatB every minute of course, but we didn't have to monitor our words or mask our feelings. It was truly exhilarating. I'm not good in crowds and sometimes I do think I'm losing my social skills, staying back here on the dead end so much, but now I can't wait to get back together. I didn't meet everyone there, not by a long shot, but I have that to look forward to. You - everyone - really should go to at least one (though you'll find yourselves registering for next year.)

Thanks Brandy. It's always good to hear from you.

Krista said...

Oh, I've missed this...well, I miss all your chapters once they reappear, so I suppose I'm rather... biased But still, this was such a welcome return.

I think what this chapter hammers home is the different levels to friendship--some are the anam cara, the soul friend, others just simply... aren't. Jenny was entrusted with a basic responsibility (Catherine's safety) and when common sense should have told her to hang up on Stephen Bass, she helped give him easier access to Catherine. Not the wisest thing to do...and no, I'm not a Jenny hater. But at this point, she's not ready to be the deeper friend who could be entrusted with Catherine's secrets and the reasons behind her silences. She's not. Eimear is.

Great job again and still :)


NYC Utopia said...

Like Krista, I have missed this chapter, very much so, and here I am, relieved and grateful. More later...

Carole W said...

Oh, Krista - thank you for missing. That makes me smile.

I'm not a Jenny-hater either and this whole episode makes me sad, but this consequence feels right to me, even if I lament it. There aren't any do-overs where knowledge of Vincent is concerned. Catherine has the strength to make this decision. She's sad but sure, and she has hope for later, because ... she just does. Who knows what all can happen in the future?

You're good to me - thank you so much for reading and for the things you've said. You make a difference.


Carole W said...

Oh, Claire. Thank you. My day is brighter because of you!


RomanticOne said...

Catherine is finally beginning to understand what Vincent has always known. Her power comes from herself and no one else. Vincent will support her decisions because he trusts her, not because of a power she perceives must be granted. I find it interesting that Catherine decided she could not trust Jenny, a person she had known for years, but has decided that she can trust Eimear, a woman she's known only a short time. I agree with those decisions and marvel at how much our gut feelings can tell us. Terrific chapter. More please.

Carole W said...

Hi, R1. It's always so nice to hear from you. Thank you for being on this journey with me, Eimear and Catherine!

I'm hoping to illustrate how, when one door closes, another opens. Sometimes we don't hear or see the new door for what it is and sometimes we resist the closing door, refusing to turn from it, trying to shove something in to keep it open still.

And the idea of the soul family intrigues me, the idea that the universe almost resonates when these people come together. I think I know that feeling. I've a few friends who I feel I've known so much longer than I actually have. My husband and I married after a little less than 3 months of seeing each other - he was just so right. On the other hand, I had a close friend for years and years who I found I didn't really know at all.

Yes, our gut feelings are so important. When we follow our hearts, things change.

Thank you so much for reading and offering such kind words about the story. You're so encouraging.


Anonymous said...

Hi Carole! Sorry to be late for the latest chapter, but things have been crazy chez Lindariel -- I'll send you an email.

Jenny has so many wonderful qualities -- she's warm, engaging, funny, and caring -- but she's also chatty and dishy, and she talks without thinking. The Stephen issue will have to be addressed in order for Jenny to begin to understand why Catherine feels she must withhold an important part of her life from their otherwise close friendship. But Catherine's light is all about hope and possibilities, so this isn't "Goodbye forever," but "Goodbye . . . for now." Tremendously sad, but not terminal.

It is interesting how you can just KNOW or SENSE that a new person is trustworthy, as Catherine senses with Eimear. But Eimear has also DEMONSTRATED trustworthiness to Catherine on several occasions, and TELLINGLY, they are occasions in which she very sensitively chose SILENCE or DEFLECTION to turn attention away from Catherine's secret. They are also occasions in which I can all too easily imagine Jenny chattering obliviously away or asking her own pointed questions without realizing or realizing too LATE that Catherine needs her discretion.

What a beautiful chapter! I love your description of Catherine's trip with her father to the Wailoge steps, and the sensation of passing from one world into another, or of walking down and through the year and entering a new one. "Here begins a new life for you." WONDERFUL!

Most importantly, Catherine's realization that the "power/decision" of who to include in her new life emanates from within her. It is NOT something granted by Father, or the Council, or even Vincent. The decision is hers. The power is hers. MARVELOUS!

I'm so SOOOO anxious for more!

Regards, Lindariel

Carole W said...

Hey, Lindariel! First off, thank you for finding in Eimear what I see and want everyone to see. Her demonstration of trustworthiness doesn't depend on length of friendship, but on character. And some people we've just known forever, even if we've just met. I know you've had that experience.

Isn't the Whaligoe Steps a place you want to visit? I'd love to go there. Thank you for what you said about that scene.

Catherine is such a spectacular character. She always had the strength and courage, from the very beginning. She's a special person in a special circumstance.

I don't know what's going to happen with Jenny. Right now, I can't see explaining Stephen without disclosing Vincent. She's in a catch-22 and how it resolves ... well, I do have post-Iron/Velvet stories noodling. :-) One of these days.

Your comments are so thoughtful and I do look forward to them. I hope the rest of the story is pleasurable. It's getting down to the wire.


OKGoode said...

Loving, as always, everything!

You know I'm not so far in the Jenny-can't-be-trusted camp as you and Vicky are, but I still love letting your story take me for that ride. You do it so very well, perfectly thought through and planned, backed up with logic - and the story it creatives is just delicious! You make such a strong argument, you might bring me to your side yet!

Anonymous said...

It's me! Re-reading again. I caught this particular phrase this time and read it over and over and over again . . .

"For months she’d walked a fine, long edge, an edge honed by the whetstone of her secret, by the stop she encountered whenever she imagined taking Jenny – anyone – below."

What a spectacular turn of phrase! -- "an edge honed by the whetstone of her secret."

I think most often of Catherine's dilemma as a sense of pressure, of things welling up within practically to the bursting point. But this imagine of being ground down, whittled-away, honed near to the breaking point is so perfectly apt!

You are a marvel with words! Thank you for sharing them with us so generously!

Regards, Lindariel

Carole W said...

Lindariel, you certainly started my day off in a happy way. Thank you. You're way too generous, but you do encourage me.

That image of walking a line, of a sharp distinction thinning to the breaking point was what I was going for. One last strike of the wedge ... perhaps just a tap ...

Still, I hope this isn't the last of C and Jenny's story
:-), but something will have to change.

Thank you again.

Carole W said...

Laura, somehow I missed responding to your comment from last fall!

Thanks for being willing to believe for the purposes of this story. I don't think Jenny's a lost cause, not 100%, but it's that small % of unease that forces a total caution - necessary for Vincent, probably not necessary in the regular world. For me, that's the distinction. What could be forgiven or understood between C and J under normal circumstances doesn't apply here. And there are times when one has to part ways with old friends. Painful though it is. There's more to this story in my noodling-brain ...

Thanks so much for reading. It matters that you do.