Iron Behind the Velvet ~ Chapter 52

~ The Center of All My Labors and My Loves 1


Like a storm-tide, the whoosh of blood surged ... a crashing wallop in his ears, then ... a fizzing retreat. A mirage of sunlight on a glassy sea made him blink. When breath returned, laughter pulsed with it. Catherine.

Standing by, Damien offered out torches like oversized ice-cream cones. His expression was comical enough - his brow furrowed in confusion, unable to suppress a widening grin, but then his stomach growled – loudly – and they both chuckled.

“You should have had seconds,” Vincent admonished, though he recalled he’d raked the cookpot for his own serving, and for some reason, they laughed harder at that.

“Go someplace? Where?” Mouse spoke up behind them. A scroll of paper and a flat carpenter’s pencil in one hand, an apple clamped under one arm, two coils of rope draped over the other – Vincent wasn’t sure if he were undecided or overburdened. His step bounced, as always, and he gestured for one of the torches Damien held, but there was a quick wrinkle at his eyes, almost a wince with the movement.

“I thought we could–” Damien began and laughed again at nothing. Mouse giggled in comaraderie, though he glanced obliquely at Vincent and raised one brow. Damien scrubbed his cheek on his lifted shoulder. “Sorry. I’m a little punchy. I figured you’d want to go hunt up those last two –”

Before Mouse might himself, Vincent took first one torch, then the other, holding the wound-cotton, pitch-soaked ends pointed down. There could be no misinterpretation. Their situation, once fraught with urgency and a shadowy menace, was now relieved. Caution and diligence still a necessity, the tension had ratcheted down, yet into the emptying place, the disregarded aches and pains, the abeyanced fatigue unfurled. The imperative had forced them to ignore hunger, bruises, scrapes and sprains, the lack of sleep and dreams. They would each – to the last person – do what was necessary, even more than that. And they had.


Stuart, hunched over the workbench, should instead prepare a cup of – what had Wren asked for? Ginger? Mint? Yes – peppermint tea, serve it to his wife in bed. Noah, on first-level sentry duty, should spend an evening with his family. Mouse should take a running leap off the Mirador into the Lake he’d not yet seen, follow Jamie down The Chute. All this was true.

Yet an equal truth was this ...

“No, Damien. I don’t want to.”

“But ...” Damien started.

“There’s no need to go tonight. Tomorrow will be soon enough.” Catherine would relish the astonishment on Mouse’s face, the fact that Damien opened and closed his mouth without uttering a word. He fully intended to tell her about it. The unlit torches deposited in the storage crate at the passageway, he turned and smiled at his tag-along companions. “The sense of crisis is lowered. We’ve been offered great gifts. Knowledge. Time. Respite. We should enjoy it.”

“Party?” Mouse asked and Vincent wished he could fulfill the unexpressed expectation, the necessity of cake.

“South of here, two levels down, is a lake we enjoyed as boys. There’s a chute – a slide – into it and a high jumping-off point of flowstone. A current of warmth in the center.” Vincent put a hand on Mouse’s shoulder. “I’d planned to message the second crew to convene tomorrow, to effect the change of plans. Some ... might be able to come tonight. Take the third-level passage. Damien says the trunk-line is repaired. Use it to call the western camp, then take the short-cut Cullen and Jamie rediscovered. You’ll meet her halfway, no doubt.” Grinning, Mouse leapt for the corridor, only to return seconds later, dashing to the row of stored equipment, letting the ropes slide from his arm to the cavern floor, without a word, running out again. Vincent beckoned Damien to the map table, where he pointed out The Slice, the narrow entrance passage he should take into Wall Street, the route past The Knees, through The Needle’s Eye, the proper turn at Arrow Rock. “Where is Aniela tonight?” he asked.

“I ... I don’t know, Vincent.”

The sudden color in his face belied that statement ... or disclosed his fears. Was she in Dix’s basement, working, thinking of him? Was she out with friends Above. “Go to her,” Vincent said. “Perhaps she’d like to come Below again tonight.”

“Really?”

“Really. But first, recall the inner-tier sentries from their duties. Either assign workers or take volunteers to relieve the perimeter stations after two hours.”

“Well ... which?”

Vincent could fairly see the calculations carried out in Damien’s mind and suddenly, he was reminded of Devin in his role as oldest boy, contemplating the ifs and thens, what was fair. More than likely, Damien would take a shift himself. “Whatever you think best. And Damien ...” If I’ve learned anything, he wanted to tell the young man, it’s that you should say out loud what you want. It does Aniela no service to withhold your thoughts, your feelings. Confide your dreams. Don’t make her guess. Don’t waste the time you have. Don’t disregard the gifts. “Take some money from our reserve. Make sure Aniela has had her supper, since ours is over. I’ll see you ... in the morning.”

“You’re not going?”

“I’ve had a swim. I’ll be Above with friends ... in Woodlawn.” For a while, he thought, later a tantalizing mystery. “Mouse knows the place, should you need me. On my way, I’ll tell Noah he can go home for the evening when his relief arrives.” Damien seemed rooted before him. Off you go, he very nearly directed and in Father’s tone. “Try to not,” he said instead.

“Not? Not what?” Damien asked, reminding him now of Mouse.

“Not need me.” The words themselves were freeing, as much a surprise to himself as to Damien. Another milestone he would describe for her ... as soon as she was in his arms. He eyed the corridor that would route him Above.

“Okay, good. Great. This is ... great.” 

He waited until Damien settled the schedule in his mind and headed for a squad seated by the fire. Vincent looked on, approving. The three conscripted had drawn the easiest duty that day, walking the uppermost levels, checking the secreted electrical connections, the camouflaged panel boxes, the access to quick disconnects should their appropriations be discovered. After a moment’s conversation, Damien met his gaze and nodded. Done.

Word spread quickly. Laughter rang out once more. Through the south-bound passageway, an exodus all but thundered, hardly anyone, he noticed, carrying towels. No matter. Someone would remember and return for a duffel stuffed full. Ira and Philip led the contingent and their chambers were not far out of the way; they’d likely have a supply. Vincent put his hand on Stuart’s shoulder.

Without a falter of rhythm, still working his jack-knife’s blade against the taut leather strop, Stuart looked up. “What’s going on?” he asked.

“I’ve suggested a night off,” Vincent said. “A night at the lake.”

“A little R & R ...” Stuart tested the honed edge on his thumb, snapped the knife shut and arched his back. “Sounds good. I could use a swim myself, work out some of the kinks.”

“You could make a second trip home. Stay there this time.”

Ah, she sent me off. Wren’s got a big case tomorrow. She likes alone-time the night before, to practice. You know. To work it through.”

He did know. At times, Catherine’s focus could laser rock. “Then, tomorrow night. After.”

Stuart offered a one-sided grin. “Yeah. That might be safer.” He folded the strop and banded it, returned it to its place in the partitioned box of sharpening tools. “All your people good enough swimmers? We can do lifeguard duty.”

“They’re your people, too, Stuart.”

“I know that.” Stuart stood and made a fist. They bumped knuckles twice, forearms once. “I’ve missed you, buddy.”

Vincent tipped his head. “I’ve missed you too. This place ...” He spread his hands. “I don’t know what happened. Why I let time and distance–”

“Hey, the tunnel runs both ways. No more your doing than mine. And it’s a long way on foot.” Stuart studied him, hard. “You’re not still riding– You promised to teach Noah and me to do that, remember?”

“I remember being afraid of both your mothers.”

Stuart chuckled. “How do you get that, umm, exercise past Catherine, anyhow?”

In a strobing stream, the last occasions he’d had to ride the subway cars flashed by, not in the exhilarating rush of freedom or youthful defiance but stinging, like running through briars, necessity fueled by fear. “I’ve had ... have ... no choice.”

“True.” Stuart laced his fingers, stretched out his arms. His joints cracked, a sound that once made his mother and both his sisters cringe. “Bummer.”

Vincent laughed. Two decades before, he’d returned home from his summer visit with that word new in his vocabulary and when he’d offered it to Father – in response to what he no longer recalled – Father had drawn back in distaste. At his side, Pascal had snickered, and they were both specially assigned Melville’s Clarel, then Moby Dick, while that fall the rest of their class read The House of Mirth, Heart of Darkness, Sister Carrie. I’ll show you ... bummer, he imagined Father thinking.

Many nights over the years, he’d lain awake in his bed or prowled the deepest passages, the blackest alleys, lamenting his differences, the limitations so terribly boxing. Reducing them to a single, silly term ... 

He clasped Stuart’s shoulder; Stuart his. Why not? Until exigencies required otherwise, why not try?

***

Eimear staggered backwards a step. “Wren?” she asked, a croaking whisper. “Wren Rasmussen?”

Um-hmm. She lives Below now. Her husband was born there. It’s his home – Stuart’s. It always has been. A smaller community, part of Vincent’s world, beneath Van Cortlandt Park.”

“But ...” Eimear shook her head. With fingers widespread, she raked into her hair, clamping her palms to her temples. Too much, her actions seemed to say, or worse – this cannot be. Catherine could only wait until Eimear went on. “I met him once, Catherine. He’s ... tan! From the sun! How?” And then she laughed. She dropped to a seat on the stairs, dropped her forehead to her arms folded on her knees, shoulders heaving with cackled glee.

Catherine’s inward relief bubbled out – it was done. Told. Accepted. What was yet to come, anticipated, embraced. She joined Eimear on the step, in her mirth, at the end leaning weak against the palings of the banister. Except that she expected to later curl into Vincent’s embrace, she might have closed her eyes, fallen to a sound sleep.

Whoo.” Eimear wiped her cheeks. “I’m losing it,” she admitted. “What a day, yeah?”

“No kidding,” Catherine agreed.

“I’m all of sudden exhausted,” Eimear continued, giving Catherine’s knee a pat. “Though more’s the truth, I’m hungry. Really, truly hungry.”



“Three minutes in the microwave while the oven heats up,” Eimear had instructed, “with a drizzle of cream over it first and a toothpick stuck in. A damp paper towel tented over. Any more wrecks the cheese and toughens the noodles, but, cold as it is, the stove alone would take too long. Longer than I think I can bear at this point. There’s foil for the final warming in the bottom drawer next to ...” Failing to finish her thought, she’d cast a befuddled look around her foyer, then clear-eyed again, met Catherine’s gaze. “”Tis rude, I know, to ask a guest to fend for herself, but can you see to that? I’ll run upstairs and change my clothes.” Already she was pulling off a shoe.

Jeans and layers, a heavy sweater, she’d suggested, nodding when Eimear questioned sweats for sleeping. Dull footsteps overhead crossed back and forth; water ran in the bathroom, a drawer creaked open. But now, the floor above was quiet. She’d been a while at readying.

Catherine dragged the oven rack forward, peeled back the aluminum foil covering the small, square dish of lasagna. The winey tomato sauce simmered and the aroma of melting mozzarella, the memory of its deliciousness two nights before, tempted her to dig into the layered pasta standing up at the stove, but she resisted reaching for a serving spoon, instead recovering their dinner and closing the door, dialing the temperature an unnecessary ten degrees higher. Grateful, she hovered close, as if the heat might evaporate the cold water threatening to dash her high spirits.

She’d not thought this through. The entrance was locked – locked from within. Vincent was levels below, most likely fully involved in tasks that took precedent to her concerns. She wasn’t unsure of Eimear, of the rightness of her introduction Below, of the solace and safety a night in the tunnels would provide her, but it was rash, even self-centered, she chastised herself, to imagine she could simply wish him here. Eimear’s question – How? – rang in her ears.

A slow air, lullaby-like, sang from the archway. Would he come to her with Martin still in his chair? Was he there now, within the churchyard wall, his hand on the latch? Was it time to throw open the door to every possibility, caution tossed aside, to reveal all? Was it her decision to make? Didn’t he have a say? And really, Catherine pummeled herself, where would Eimear sleep? Could she, on the cold stone floor amid two dozen strangers? Never mind the implausible, the astonishing, would she see past the primitive to the magical? It was so important that she did. The larger question loomed from the shadows. Is this for her, or for me? She twisted the cotton dishtowel in her hands. Could it not be both?

In her fog of worry, Catherine hadn’t heard the creak of her step, but now, a small backpack slung on her shoulder, Eimear crossed the room, lifted the heavy cabled sweater from its hook, deposited both by the back porch door where her own bag waited. “What is it, Catherine?” she asked, retracing her steps on the black and white floor. Eimear tugged the towel from her, threading it through the handle of the stove. “You seem a million miles away and sorry for the journey. Is it ... is it Jenny you’re thinking of?”

“Jenny?” She felt her brow wrinkle. The breech with Jenny hadn’t crossed her mind; not since the moment she’d listened to the tapes from Eimear’s answering machine, not since she’d sped Eimear to her apartment and from it, to the threshold below. It would. It would cross her mind. Not this hour, not this day, but soon she’d withdraw the sadness from the niche she’d prepared in her heart, where it lay now, sodden and cried-out. She imagined cradling the loss in her palms, holding it up, angling it this way and that as if to lure a resuscitating ray of light, repeating, repeating – Anything is possible. But long ago, she’d wept over the inevitability. I know what Brian was looking for when he followed me down, she’d admitted. The same thing I was looking for, for so many years. A family.” Something had been missing, something she didn’t have the courage to name, until now. All along. Before ... before Vincent, even thenshe’d known. “No ... it’s not Jenny.”

“We don’t have to do this,” Eimear finally murmured, turning to the sink where she picked at an curl of carrot, dull orange and dried to the porcelain. “If you’ve changed up your mind, thought better of this ... of me, I understand. It’s not an everyday thing, is it, to usher strangers below. And there’re ... rules ... you said, rules this – I – break.” For a long moment, she stared into the basin. “I appreciate your company, Catherine. Know that, and I’m glad for it tonight particularly and for what you’ve promised to see through for me tomorrow, but I’ll be all right here. You should go on, go Below. Without me.” She spun the faucet open full force, splashing water on the stubborn shred.

“No! No, Eimear. It’s not you and I’m not leaving you alone tonight.” Catherine hustled to her side and shut off the spigot. Standing next to Eimear, looking up at her, for the briefest moment, she saw Vincent at his most balky – the lips pressed to an ardent frown, the jutted jaw, the averted eye. Still, it wasn’t lost on her, Eimear’s easy taking-up of the language. Below, she’d said. No hesitation, no doubt. As if she’d always believed ... always known. Catherine blew out a long breath. Her lifted, open hands she gathered to fists. “Vincent and I ... Our connection ... I told you ... about the times I’ve ... needed ... him and he knew it, before I did sometimes, but I’ve never actually just ... called him and the entrance ... it’s locked from the inside.”

Eimear dried her hands on a paper towel, wiped the tiles at the sink’s rim, behind the hot and cold handles, the sprayer, the high arcing, chrome spout. In the mirror of it, she still frowned. “You’re fearing you don’t have a key?”

Catherine nodded, hearing, even as she did, through a shimmery distance of space and time, his soft, reminding chuckle – the uncountable balcony-nights, his ready hand at her basement’s ladder, the sliding-open scree of metal before she ever knocked at the secret door. I’m a part of you, Catherine.

Martin’s music sheared off to silence, a silence that rocked between them, whitened waves lulling to tranquil ripples. Eimear’s smile returned. Outside, glass chimes pendent from the porch eaves pealed and celebrated, and another, bell-deep, round and sonorous, tolled as if to mark the moment. From one drawer Eimear gathered two forks, from a second two gently-faded napkins. Coral-pink apple blossoms, Catherine saw, a linen likeness of the fresh fairy wand plucked from the garden’s trees days before. Passport, she recalled, to the palaces of the otherworld, to Tír-na-nog.

“But you are the key,” Eimear said.

***

Coming to me. Half the day the knowledge had kept him fixed on the tasks required of him. Through this, he’d encouraged himself. Through this and then ...

Unsure why she was near, sure only that she was – Come to me, he heard now. They’d have but a short time together. Where might he begin to recount his hours since he’d sent her away, Above. Kanin, Mitch. Martin. Apple tart. The Green Spot. Wren and Eimear.

And Martin’s benediction, his plea, his promise. Bráithre. Brotherhood. Flynn.

Adrenaline powered his leaving, choice a heady feeling. Try not to need me. Had he ever once said those words aloud? Had he even pretended them permissible? He raced the passageway at first giddy with discovery, but mounting the stone circle, halfway up, his lungs strained in the long pull of air; his boots grew heavy. His toe caught the lip of the worn limestone steps more than once. Catherine had made this trek herself, she and Aniela. How had he not felt the sure burn in her calves, her hammering heart, the hitch in her breath?

On the final twisting turn of the spiral, at the crest of it leaning against the jagged wall, he paged back through his wakeful hours. They began ... when? Yesterday? The day before? In camp, with Catherine tucked close, what she’d assumed was sleep was only a meditation and last night’s rest – rather, this morning’s – no more than a nap. A kip, Martin would deem it, but without it, this pinnacled day, blunted by what could be called nothing other than a hangover, he’d have been no better than a dead-man, the wooden support pole that stood the place of a live laborer. I need little sleep, he’d assured Catherine. You need some, she’d countered. The effects of the lake’s mineral waters were dissipated. He had no choice but to agree.

Come to me.

He pushed off the wall. Through a junction, around a turn, an eddy of dust and sand stirring forth from his boots ... Her appeal was a sweet wind, a freshening that corrected the course of gravity inside him, defied the drag at his bones. But exhaustion unsealed him. He was too open ... too sensitive to the swirling efflux of energies and the curtain – the curtain he must hold closed – gapped; shades flitted into his path, their whispers dry and whiskery.

Grief, regret, loneliness.

His thinking darkened; a cast-net of melancholy settled over him. Once the heartache might have slammed him. His young shoulders had often caved, the out of nowhere weight making it hard to breathe, to see. But he’d learned ... to examine, to discern, to differentiate himself. He summoned Light, both illumination and shield. Breathed deeply in ... strongly out. Hurried on.

Not mine.

Strange. Apart so from the commonwealth, from his homeland, from the familiar course, of late so absorbed by imperative and hard labor, he’d been less suffused by the force of unwept tears, by disappointment or temper. His passage through these tunnels had been singular. He’d met no one; the pipes were silent with fully half the community away from their homes, at work with the crews. Damien followed not long behind him on his way to Aniela, but as yet the crowd of his hopefulness was no more than a nudge between his shoulder blades, and Noah, still two corridors ahead, unaware of his impending liberation, was a quiet calm. At a junction, the promise of a sentry-reprieve tapped out, Vincent waited for Noah’s acknowledging clink and ting, which sounded and subsided and sent him on and upward.

Sooty wisps of sorrow. Phantoms of distress.

Whose?

Kanin’s?


Had Kanin begun his trek home light of heart, whistling toward what would be no less than a reckoning. Always a father, not necessarily a husband. Did the realization sweep him, bog his step? Within the hour of his leaving the worksite he would have been at a crossroads – the choice at it not entirely his, but Olivia’s. Whatever she asked, he must be ready to do.

Reluctance, regret, apology.

Across this distance, across this time? Not Kanin’s.

Not Catherine’s. Hers was a joyful call.

Whose, then? Whose?

He was sure only of the utter pull, an indefatigable magnet. He emerged into the upper level. The passage to the churchyard stairs just out of sight, he loped for it, slipping the gap without breaking stride. There in the cul-de-sac was the bedroll he’d left behind that morning, the lantern still burning low, a miracle of oil. In the stone wall, at his pressured grip, the secreted latch pivoted free; the doorway slid smoothly open. Fluted notes – fine and mellow, a subtle tracery – charmed him forward. The glossy scent of the beckoning night garden, a vision of flowers, white as the moon. He took the steps two at a time, his focus on the steel bars halfway up ... already his hands worked their password.

Toilworn. Weary.

Enough. Enough now. Leatsa go deo.

A scramble up the last of the stairs and into the wall passage. Mossed stones under his palms. A scree of rubble beneath his feet – the broken lock, the coiled chain. His ear to the plank door; his hand on the rusted latch. Martin’s music slowed and softened - faded - falling off mid-phrase, a stoppage of breath.

A muffled clattering ...

Something racketed on the archway stones, rolled and stilled.

Martin!


Click HERE for Chapter 53.
__________

1. Rainer Maria Rilke. Blank Joy.
2. Dialogue. Season 2. Labyrinths.
3. Gaelic. Translation: I am yours forever.






16 comments:

Krista said...

Carole

Oh, damn

"Try not to need me."

Um, wow. This is...amazing. So many gems here: Vincent, claiming the right not to be available, the right to a time and space of his own. Stuart and Vincent together. Father's reaction to "bummer." :D (Though--Melville!?!? Poor kids.)

And finally, Catherine and Eimear on one side of the door, and Vincent on the other. I should be mad at your cliffhangers...but it's such a sweet pain. ;)

Wonderful job. :)

-Krista

Carole W said...

Ah, Krista - Thank you for saying you found gems. I think you're being kind, but nevertheless, it does my heart good to hear this. You know I'll just work harder now.

LOL, my writer-intrusion moment, dissing Melville so. I never got over my college-required reading (probably 5 or 6 times at least) of Billy Budd. I'm still grouchy about it, all these years later.

I'd like Vincent to remember that once, when he had no responsibilities, real, implied, present or future, he was just a happy kid, doing boy things with friends who didn't seem to expect him to one day lead them. There's some more of that thought coming in the next chapter, and eventually, in conversation with Catherine, surely they'll talk about that, what that means. I might not get it all the way explored in this story - it'll never end if I do - but one of these days … :-)

You're good to me and I'm grateful.
C

NYC Utopia said...

Oh no, Martin!

(Vincent is doing such a good job... so is Eimear... but THIS has got to be the worst cliffhanger in many thousands of years of storytelling)

Carole W said...

Uh oh! Claire! I'm not sure what to say - Thanks? I'm sorry! Send fast-writing vibes. I need them, bad.

Should I offer hugs or duck? :-)
C

NYC Utopia said...

Both, I suppose... I'm torn!
Be careful, for we have made those dreams ours ;-)

Brenda K said...

Carole,
A lovely chapter -- damn, I read much too fast -- even re-reading the last couple of chapters to revive the context.

Don't beat yourself up about Melville - I never made it through Melville, Fenimore Cooper (tried 3 times!) or Joseph Conrad -- despite being an English minor in college. We just can't love all of it.

Martin -- well, I just cannot see the church going vacant, my friend -- not now, when the secret doors are so crucial, when the garden is still bare of Rosie's statue -- when Flynn still needs the gentle hand of a father and counselor to validate the magic that will lead him through the misty moors.

It is, of course, your cliffhanger -- but oh no! I feel the dismay building -- Gandalf meets Balrog -- too soon! not ready!

Please take very good care of yourself, Carole -- stay well -- we all need your chapters, your stories.

My comment-posting verification word this time is suffer -- how apt.

Carole W said...

Brenda - you got the 'suffer' verification? That's just too odd! It's like a mean-spirited fortune cookie!

I know what you mean about Martin and what needs to happen yet. I can't say more. Oh, I want to, but I can't. If I can just get the Muse-on … and write (and be satisfied) faster. Argh.

Melville - I just can't say 'ugh' enough. I know others really enjoy him, but I do not! And so imagine my dismay, when I began my grad assistantship, assigned to The Melville Scholar at my school. Why couldn't it have been the Emerson or the Twain scholar, or better yet, my Shakespeare professor, Norman Sanders, on whom I had a serious crush.

It's been years, and nobody can require me to read Melville now, but I still feel a little shivery-scared somebody will figure out how. LOL.

Thank you for reading and for leaving comments. They really do help me focus. You're very kind, Brenda, and very generous.
C

Brenda K said...

My father would tell you The Melville Scholar assignment was an exercise in mental discipline - it's easy to work on what we love, Sisyphus-difficult to do what we have no taste for. He'd tell you it's character-building (one of his favorite expressions). It's what he bolstered me with all through 11th grade, when my teacher smothered the class in her William Faulkner adoration --Faulkner is surely not such an unalloyed pleasure for everyone.

I sent you an email a few nights ago, and posted another comment at the end of Chap. 39 (was re-reading -- again). Now I know what you've been busy with -- and I heartily approve your priorities.

Carole W said...

I'm sorry, Brenda! I'd missed publishing your earlier comment. I just did that now. Thanks for the links there! And I do have your last email, and will get back to you tonight.

Your dad! He sounds much like mine. I remember the little grin he'd have, delivering such admonishments too. I'd flounce and grrrrr and he'd grin wider. I guess I have to admit, he - as yours - was right, at least in theory. Melville, still ugh.

Brenda K said...

Could be worse than Melville -- at his behest, I'm currently wending my way through a volume of John Maynard Keynes -- I asked a question, and the book was the answer.

Anonymous said...

Carole! What have you done to Martin?!?!?!?!!!!! Ach! I hope he's OK! Such a dear, dear man, and an imp, and still with so much to do and so many people looking to him for help, advice, solace, comfort . . . . PLEASE tell me he just had a little asthma attack and forgot to bring his inhaler outside, or something like that!

Oh, goodness, they're all climbing steadily up their respective sides of the mountain, they're so CLOSE to the top, any moment they'll look over the summit and find new friendship, brother/sisterhood, fellowship, safe harbor, understanding, solace -- EVERYTHING!

MORE PLEASE!!!!

Regards, Lindariel

NYC Utopia said...

I hope Martin's apparent predicament will serve its purpose --nudge Vincent forward & out-- but will have no lasting negative consequences.
(I'm still a little puzzled with those emotions Vincent is picking up. Are you setting up a smoke screen? Is a third party involved?)

Carole W said...

Claire - what can I say (without giving away the story)? :-) Your questions are good ones, and they're answered next chapter, I promise. I'll reread what I've written with your concerns in mind and make sure. Thanks for saying out loud what you're thinking.

Hugs,
C

NYC Utopia said...

\o/ That is answer enough! Next chapter, not 2 or 3 chapters away :-)

RomanticOne said...

Your description of Catherine's feelings regarding Jenny really touched me. I had a very close and long-time friend betray me in a really bad way not long ago. Guess that is why that particular moment stood out for me. As for the rest, aaarrrggghhh!!! I refuse to let go of the cliff! I'll just enjoy WFOL and go back to the cliff when it's over. I'm really gonna hate it when this story ends. :)

Carole W said...

The cliff has these deep indents, gouged out just for holding on. Thanks, R-1, for refusing to let go. I know I try your patience. And you know I may never get this story to an end point! It's scary. But you make me feel like it's okay that it's, well, still going on and on.

I know too well how you feel about the surprises friends can sometimes deliver. Writing the Jenny breech tore a lot from me. The hurt can equal the bewilderment. I'm really sorry to hear you went through a bad time.

R-1, you're always so kind to me and so encouraging. When this is all done, you'll know you had a part in it - your support does keep me going.

Carole