Iron Behind the Velvet ~ Chapter 54


~ The Heart After Years of Secret Conversing, Speaking Out Loud in the Clear Air 1 



The moment they’d shared on the path had been no more than the exchange of a look, the briefest, briefest touch. Whether by the gleam of lamplight from the house or the flare of his focus, her upturned face was illumined, a sheen of astonishment and faith showing on her skin.

You’re here.

Always.

I’ll explain.

I know enough.

And then her hand was gone from his and on the latch of the archway door, ajar from his own hurried exit, and Eimear was through and Catherine behind her, both of them disappearing below, the sound of their footfalls tempered by solid stone. The locking bar anchored to its brackets, he’d pressed his ear to the planks. No voices, no mutters or shouts, no sense of following menace ... Only the steady vibration of the city – the whine of tires on macadam, the hammer of worn bearings, rods and pins.

And yet ...

 Catherine and Vincent in an embrace
He stepped down from the last chiseled rise into the tight circle of Catherine’s arms. Against his chest her heart thrummed; her breath was warm and fast on his hand that smoothed her hair, on his throat at the parting of his flannel collar. He turned his cheek to her crown, sought out their visitor. Already Eimear edged into the corridor out of the secret cellar. From across the flagstone floor she met his gaze, her wide-eyed expression a plait of distress and exhilaration, an awed curiosity moderating the aftermath of flight that powered the venous pulse in her neck. First meeting, face to face, his second in a single night – no hesitancies, no scrabble for the mask of his hood; in Catherine’s embrace, no retreat from the claim of love.

“I’m Eimear,” she said, too softly for echo.

Catherine shifted to his side; her arm went around his waist beneath his cloak, a certain taut expectancy in her posture. A night of firsts, his and hers. Often enough they’d spoken of this moment, over the last months the dream firming from if to when, though Catherine’s eyes had still clouded at the unspoken, unanswerable who. Beneath the bandshell, behind the waterfall, her head on his shoulder or his pillow, their conversation had been more than academic, yet the full melody of possibility stayed pent-up behind a closed door. Decisions, their consequence, matters of fealty and faith ... No amount of deliberation, of speculation, no push and pull of circumstance could have revealed this juncture; indeed, the very definition of decision implied uncertainty. He felt the march of her heart; she was anything but uncertain. The day would come – he’d vowed it so, to be ready. Beside you, before anyone, he silently reminded her, willing his pledge manifest in the stroke over her shoulder, the cup of her elbow. With a sigh, she eased against him.

“You need no introduction,” he said.

He held out his hand in welcome and Eimear’s grip slipped cool and sure into his, warming in the soft stretch of time. She examined his face, her inspection unconcealed, as thoughtfully frank as Martin’s had been. “You have my oath, Vincent,” she said at last. “This ... You ...”

“Catherine’s trust is my trust. Know that.”

His hand still in hers, Eimear turned her wrist as if to study him forearm to clawtips. He might have shied from her touch; earlier, offering Wren this same strange hand, he’d allowed self-doubt to muddy his perceptions. To Martin, he’d tendered his habitual plea – please don’t be afraid. How defeating the petition, how governing ... and yet how incumbent the duty – how ingrained – to beg pardon, to prepare ...

A modest gyre of air stirred the hair at his temple, on it a whispered lilt. Fake it ‘til you make it. And then ...

Eimear smiled at him, a smile of such incongruent delight for a moment he thought to look over his shoulder, certain she offered her gift to someone else. The glow within the chamber brightened, some sudden surge of fuel through the cotton wick to the lantern’s silk-fabric mantle, though he couldn’t be entirely sure of its cause.

Hours from now he would recount the moment, how in his mind he traveled a winding path upwards ever toward the light, emerging to the clear air and full morning – to sun-spears between craggy hills, a brilliant sweep of valley. To a phenomenon of color – purple heather a carpet beneath his feet; a rush of red stonechats, of yellow willow warblers above. Before him a lacework of drystone fences, a shaggy dun stallion in his stonehenge corral, whirling at his whistled call. To the impossible smell of a salt sea, sweet bracken, bog-cotton. And near, growing nearer, a glad company of voices – Others. The awkward and fearsome blurred away. He pulled Eimear close,Vincent's Vision - a valley in Ireland, heather at his feet, the sun on the mountains in the distance Catherine closer, and between them, between Eimear and himself, and Catherine, between the three of them, rising from the same depths of the same unsayable as with Martin ... acquaintance, belonging, wholeness. A sense of ancient knowing, of infinite beginning. A lost chord struck; that which was once separated, reunited and brought home.2

The pulse of the chamber steadied to one quieted heart, but he broke the tender ring. Each drew an accepting breath; each nodded to the other. “This day ... your day,” he said to Catherine, his hands on her shoulders, “was ... inconstant.” Great joy, its skidding reverse, delight, annoyance, determination, resignation, her cautious hope, her conviction ... Since their parting he’d gathered the ribbons of her feelings; they braided with his own. Her agreement was a half-sad chortle. An understatement, he heard. The fastening between them tightened, singing along its tension a moment thunderously private. The voice of her eyes signaled later.3   “These last hours,” he went on, “I felt a growing peace within you ... until ...”

Vincent, with his hand on Catherine's shoulder
He’d glanced at Eimear, thinking somehow to explain with mere words the connection he shared with Catherine, even to apologize for its exclusiveness, but she’d stood fondly by. Unnecessary, he’d determined then. Now the enchantment faded from Eimear’s face; in its place trepidation, denial, anger mustered, an underlying fierce pact of love arguing for position. A woman on a precipice, he imagined. The cliff, the ocean, the heavy sky before her, the wind at her back. Her will was strong. No giving up. No giving in. But something ... someone ... had driven her there. “Tell me,” he persisted, querying them both. “There’s some danger Above. Martin is surely asleep. Shall I rouse him? Is he in danger?” Days before, he’d explored past mid-way the wall-walk leading to the old sacristy. Rubbled, but passable, he recalled, the doorway now his to open. His knee twitched to lead the leap of the steps. He was but seconds away.

“No,” Catherine was quick to say. “No, Vincent. It’s personal and, I think, over.” In the space that opened between them, unspoken words hovered. For now.

Catherine cast a look Eimear’s way, then to him, a look so careful, he stepped back from it, lodging one shoulder against the stone wall, folding his arms. A murky whirlpool dragged at him, as much a memory as premonition. “I told you ... about Flynn,” she said, “about the children he saved. Since, there’ve been ... occurrences. Harassment, mostly. Hang-ups, suspicious cars driving by, idling in the street, maybe ... maybe ... a punctured tire.”

“These occurrences ... they’re the acts of those involved with the perpetrators, those who would retaliate?” Not avenge. Not redress. The word meant everything.

Catherine shrugged her belief. He looked away, drew a breath.

“But then ... messages, at work and at home. She brought the tapes to my office.”

“The last one ...” Eimear began.

He would want to know, could hardly bear to know, had no choice but to know, would demand to know ...  Beneath his leather pouch and ivory rose, frustration simmered. His own – and Flynn’s, as if he channeled it, as if he saw with Flynn’s eyes – the way without her scorched and exposed, bleaker than bleak. Too much to lose. Because of me, who I am, what I do ... He seized the gift in a potent grip, felt the frictioned bite of the cording on the back of his neck, the pressured roar rising from the dark place within the hollow of his ribs.  Catherine’s eyes widened infinitesimally and he could sense her bonded call, but he shifted his gaze to Eimear, who stood curled around her fragmented sentence, her sight turned inward, the envisioned threat somewhere far from here by now, not directly before her, not–

The stages of the boil. Learn them.” Long ago, he might have shaken away the command, but for the rare glue that fixed the voice in his mind. Dr. Wong. His first lesson in the hidden alcove behind the beaded curtain, where he’d stood cheerless and wary and rigid, his hands clasped behind his back. Though he’d scrubbed and scrubbed, Devin’s blood still crusted – if only in his imagination – beneath his nails. His grumbled “Why?” was somehow more than ignored, as, absorbed and unhurried, his newly-appointed teacher prepared a ceremonial fire. Obliged to approach, the directive barely a quirk of the doctor’s eyebrow, he stared into a stone bowl licked by flame. A younger Dr. WongThe water within slowly lathered, a stewing frenzy just below, now breaking, now consuming the surface. “Shrimp eyes, crab eyes, fish eyes, rope of pearls, raging torrent,” his advisor intoned, glowering at him, one eye narrowed, then dousing the fire with repeated spatters of scented water from his fingertips. “The greatest worth is self-mastery.” 4

Once again, the laddering passion subsided with the naming, the counting. He gentled his words, refuge and understanding willed into his voice. “The last message frightened you,” he finished. “To Catherine. To us.”

And Eimear breathed longly out.

“You’ve not told Flynn,” he acknowledged, “but you will. You must.” This is Catherine. I must protect her.

“Tomorrow morning,” Eimear said. “Catherine’s convinced my promise. ” She crossed her arms, defending, Vincent perceived, a sweet before. “I began to think I’d over-reacted,” she murmured. “I wanted to think so. That whoever ... would grow tired of the game they played. That Flynn would never have to know. ‘Tis too much and ...” She broke off, slowly shaking her head, picking up in a whisper. “Too much.”

Without benefit of conversation, he knew Flynn would disagree. This truth could not be borne alone. Eimear’s pain, though gladly suffered, was not wholly her own. It is his, he silently avowed, standing for Flynn, with him. You are his.

“Rosie’s out of town,” Catherine told him. “Flynn’s on shift. I didn’t want Eimear to be alone tonight.”

Catherine, close-up, telling her story
Why had they not stayed in the apartment, secret and safe above Manhattan?  Why had she not apprised Father of the immediate need and spirited Eimear Below to their private rooms? She relayed much in the cast of her eyes, a quivered smile – concern, longing, a request of patience for her abbreviated story. He curbed his first instinct to question her.

“Once we were here ...”

Catherine pried loose Eimear’s hand, gripped it in both of hers, ‘here’ clearly more than a geographical designation. There are no maps to this place.

“Things were quiet; things were good,” she said. “I started to think that too, that the anger had flared out ... that coming Below was more for introduction than precaution.”

More for me, because I wanted it, he heard. Oh, Catherine. Even if it were true. Don’t be afraid to deserve it.

“Then they threw something at the house,” she told him. “It hit the door, hard, and we ... left.”

Vincent, close-up, listening closely
He dared not ask what was thrown. She might know. When Eimear’s gaze focused away to some vague and distant landmark on the far cellar wall, his heart hammered, a grave mimic of the rough motor sound he’d heard and dismissed. The two of them, shoulder to shoulder in the open doorway, defiant, vulnerable. She does know. Of course she knows. They both know.

As if, in a cluster of daylong-candles burning behind the stained glass of his chamber, one flickered out, another, then one more, the jeweled mosaic of their energies dimmed. Exhaustion settled like a weighty blanket – Catherine’s, Eimear’s, his own an unavoidable admission. He rubbed the drawn tendons, the corrugated muscles of his neck with one hand. Between this surprising-enough secret room and the chambers and community below, the revelations yet to come, the corridors stretched a challenging distance. Miles to go before we sleep.

Their labyrinth was a unifying draw toward a still indistinct but magnetic center. There was no other direction. “Sanctuary is yours, Eimear. Tonight, from this moment on, always. For you ... for yours.”

With relief, perhaps deliverance, a burden set down at least ... or simply the chill ... Eimear shivered. Out of his arms, Catherine wrapped her own around herself. Neither was warmly dressed. He searched the cellar floor, the hewn ledge that ran the length of one wall for topcoats or jackets, spying none. He could spare Eimear his cloak, Catherine his sweater, he supposed, though both bore rank evidence of more than one day of toil.

“We had bags packed and by the door, Vincent, but we–”

Catherine broke off, yet he understood. Enough. Enough of what happened, why you’re here. There’s more, more to this. More to come. “We should go.” He dragged his mantle from his shoulders, gave it an apologetic shake and held it open for Eimear, but she waved aside his offer, eying the stairwell behind him.

“I need to go back,” she said. “I don’t remember if I bolted the front door and, for sure, the porch door’s unlocked; the kitchen lights are on. If Martin doesn’t sleep, he’ll be out wandering, battering the door when he sees, crying around to who-knows-who if he can’t bring me out, to Flynn if he could find him, and I can’t have that. I’ll get our kits. And my house keys ... I left them lying.”

“I’ll go,” he said and either his tone or the frown he could not check forestalled any protest. A lockset, even a deadbolt, would be no deterrent to the determined, but the key turned and in her hand would offer Eimear solace. And if by fate’s decree he and not Flynn encountered the brutes who would dare threaten ...  He swung his cloak; it fanned and draped about him. “Wait here five minutes,” he said. “No more. Then engage this gate.” The lantern positioned to cast an upwardly glow, Catherine behind him on the steps, Eimear at her shoulder, he demonstrated the mechanism’s sequence, locking then unlocking the barrier, passing through, waiting while Catherine, then Eimear duplicated the patterns. “If you must,” he continued, leaving the conditions undefined, “enter the corridor and turn left. At the first junction, take the ten o’clock spoke, then the second right. The walls there will be laddered with pipes. The fifth down in the array leads to a manned sentry post. Tap this alert first: One long, four spaced shorts, one quick triplet. Repeat it once. Then, in the code you know, Catherine, tap for Wren to come. Tell her Level Two, Portal F. Wait for her arrival.” At the mention of Wren's name, Catherine – not Eimear – startled, and, briefly, she frowned, a flicker of dismay in her eyes. He'd ask … later. "Say it back to me, the directions."

“Left, ten o’clock in the junction, second right, fifth pipe.”

“The alert code? Your position?”

“One long, four short, a triplet, repeated once. Level Two, Portal F.”

Before he’d cleared the steps, Catherine was murmuring encouragement to Eimear. “He’s like that,” he heard her say. “Careful. Everything will be fine.” She spoke of him, her voice rounded and warm, breathy with familiarity, with freedom. At last! Her happiness was worth any risk he might take. He eased the door open and in the archway lifted his hood.

The rectory’s windows were unlit; a stillness emanated from within. Surely Martin slept – he would wish Martin sleep well and dream sweetly. But Martin’s concern for Flynn was patent, and, keen as he was, regardless of her veiling efforts, no doubt he’d discerned Eimear’s distress. Likely his last waking thoughts were prayerful appeals for insight or intercession. His slumber fitful with worry, possibly, like Father wrestling with conscience or complications, he walked his own floors late at night, perhaps even now peered out ...

His back to the cool stone, he slipped around the portal’s edge into Eimear’s back yard, standing, he was certain, in Flynn’s very footprints left the night of his reluctant conversation with Martin. Not overheard, Martin had assured him when he’d apologized for eavesdropping, but meant to hear. Any skepticism, any hesitancy he’d knitted together was gently unraveling.

The moon, silvery in the sky little more than an hour ago, was wisped-over now, but yellow lamplight beamed into the garden from the kitchen window. First Lily’s, now Flynn’s undertaking, Martin had told him, the lot was a private place, bordered on one side by the shared stone wall, elsewhere enclosed by a high wooden fence, a fringe of tall trees. A small property made large and inviting with meandering paths of pavers and bricks and pebbles, with sheltering arbor rooms and secreting waddle fences. More mysterious, less ... fettered ... than Martin’s; in the full sun, at full bloom, likely glorious in its abandon. Though hidden from most, this wholeheartedness, this passion was Flynn. Does he see? Does he know his own secret?

He kept to the gray-black perimeter, alert for any disturbance inside the house – a crossing shadow, an unexpected sound. A padlocked gate separated the driveway from the rear sanctuary, and through its slats, he could see two parked cars, Catherine’s the last one in. Traffic on the narrow street was sparse. A taxi rolled slowly past; the hiss of air brakes announced a nearing city bus, but no grumbling engine loitered near. A neighbor’s dog barked conversationally. Faintly, houses down, a telephone briiiinnged. He mounted the porch, careful to take the treads at their edges, close to the stringer. Beneath his weight the wooden steps creaked, though no louder than one breeze-stirred branch might scrape against the other.

Only a half-curtain of tea-stained lace covered the door’s window, and over it he peered into the bright room. On a table still littered with shallow bowls and silverware, a young cat worried some morsel of food with her paw, otherwise unconcerned. Proof enough, he reasoned. The knob turned noiselessly under his hand; the door inched open on well-oiled hinges. On the floor at his feet were two small duffels, Catherine’s suede jacket and a white cabled sweater like Martin’s folded atop them. He reached for the switch on the wall just inside the jamb and turned off the lights. The aroma of supper was still savory in the air. One long stride cleared the entry.

The kitchen was but city-dark. A clock-face gleamed, streetlight seeped in from the front hallway, together offering more illumination than he needed. The kitten stood frozen over its task, puffed-up, its back arched, whiskers wide, eyes fully black. After a moment of solemn staring it blinked slowly at him and ... diminished ... then returned to business – a cooled remnant of melted cheese adhered to the plate’s rim. He pricked it loose, and the kitten pounced and purred.

He swept down the hallway. In the living room the furniture was pushed to the walls, the floor bare. Here Catherine danced. Days after, all was quiet, but if he tried, he could hear music and laughter, the many words of love whispered year after year. At the bottom of the stairs he paused, his hand on the palm-smoothed newel. This was Eimear’s house and Flynn’s, but once it had been Rosie’s, and one night, decades ago, she had trudged these same steps to her room, despondent and disillusioned, his miserable counterpart. The many photographs of her on the stairwell wall drew him in. In wonder, he shook his head. He’d have sworn her face was one he wanted only to forget – more, his own, reflected in her eyes – and given the impossible chance to see her again, he’d have turned, run if he had to, to avoid a rekindling of that searing pain. Now he anticipated their meeting, believed in it. What is all this? He longed for the opportunity to map out the many concurrences, to attempt to deduce the Beginning ... to take Catherine’s hand, bring it to his lips, step forward with her into–

Lights, locks, keys. His allotted time was passing, and no doubt Catherine would go on Below as he’d asked ... eventually. To his mission, he found the deadbolts on the front door turned true. Allowing a moment of consideration, he denied after all the impulse to inspect the tangible threat he knew lay just beyond on the stoop. Evidence, it was, and tomorrow’s business left well enough alone. The brass chain swung free from its track and he caught it in his hand, dismissed it. Flimsy. Near useless. An illusion. So little to stand between the sanctity of home and rude intrusion. If love could but keep harm out.

Keys. None remained in the cylinder or hung from the hook near the door. There was no receiving table – only an odd umbrella stand stood in the foyer, one rivaling the most bizarre find in any storage room Below. A telephone niche was built-in below the stairs, nothing other than a stubby pencil in the trough, an unblinking answering machine on its worn shelf. Foul things. He snatched up the device and when he prised open the empty tape compartment, shards of plastic fell into his hand. A growl rose in his throat ...

Keys, he repeated, returning the apparatus to its ledge, squaring it to place. I’ve left them lying, she’d said. The kitchen, a counter, the windowsill, he supposed. He should have asked their location.

The plastered wall was a gallery of vintage photographs, framed panoramic prints years old – men in army fatigues, in police uniform, in old-fashioned athletic garb, fifty girls on the steps of St. Finbarr’s School, as many bathing beauties on Coney Island – Eimear’s, perhaps Flynn’s relatives. Across the hall in a bowl on a mirrored sideboard, something glinted. A key chain he hoped, forging for it, scooping it up. But, no. A brass ring with two charms appendant: a St. Michael’s medal – the warrior’s patron – and a free-form silver slab, finely-ridged and flat, reminiscent of a standing stone, both sides engraved with patterned hatch marks. Familiar. Meaningful. He rubbed the metalwork between his fingers until it heated. No translation of the characters came to mind, but a sense of necessary emanated from the talisman. Pocketing the set, aimed for the kitchen, his intention snagged – a picture frame face down at the far end of the long buffet. He turned it up with a whisper of apology for what seemed like yet another trespass.

He had to see, to truly see, and switched on the old bronzed lamp. The lily-shaped glass shade shed a rose-colored light on the black and white photograph. A hummingbird – smaller than small, needle-beaked, bright-dark eyed – rested unrestrained in a man’s cupped hand. Dirt caked the caretaker’s nails, the map of fine lines in his palms. Somehow, in the capture of the moment, life beat visibly – in the bird’s near-tangible trilling heartbeat, in the weave of veins of the man’s muscled forearm and wrist. Someone looked on, maybe several someones, the faces in the background a foggy blur. Still, recognition suffused the image. Affirmation. A man capable of much. His tender mercies evident. The cardboard prop was bent, nearly broken through, and the picture would not stand, and why he’d found it face down was a piercing question, a saddening. One he’d not ask Eimear ... but Flynn.

He retraced his steps to the kitchen where his host waited for him it seemed, on the counter now, regal, sitting tall, its front paws together, its tail-tip twitching, ruffling with each pass the pages of an open address book. Wren Rasmussen, he read, unsurprised. Stuart Aisenberg. Beside the binder was a ring of keys.

The kitten touched its nose to his one extended finger. “What’s your name, little one.”

_____


“Don’t worry,” he heard Catherine whisper, apparently just inside the church-wall door. He pushed through to a crowded landing.

“I was gone longer than five minutes,” he chided her. In the glimmer of the low-turned lantern Eimear carried, he could see something flash in Catherine’s eyes. Love, he decided to name it.

He fixed the bar across one more time and followed them down. At the base of the steps, he unstrapped their gathered gear. “Your doors are secure,” he said to Eimear. “I put the dishes in the sink, ran them with water. Your kitten was busy with the leftovers. I didn’t want it to founder.” He handed over the set of keys. “We’ll return you home tomorrow morning early, but if Flynn were to arrive before you, if he thought your supper had been interrupted ...”

“Thank you,” Eimear said softly, and Catherine put an arm around her shoulders. “Mab. She didn’t run out, did she?”

The Fairy Mab, he recalled. To me ‘tis given the wonders of the human world to keep.5 The last he’d seen her – from the garden, just before he slipped into the archway – the kitten rubbed against the window, again and again, as she’d rubbed herself beneath his palm. He shook his head and smiled. “No.”

While Catherine and Eimear readied themselves for the trek Below, he checked the lantern’s fuel. He’d need to refill the tank tomorrow, leave a full canister with it, a few fresh torches as backup, a box of matches in a metal tin. He’d set Mouse the challenge of devising a hidden locking mechanism manipulated from either side of the archway door. No doubt he’d have it working within the week. When next he saw Dominic, he’d add two serious flashlights to the materials list, return and fix a bracket on the wall to hold them. Does the wick need replacing? He twisted the control to its brightest.

Catherine and Vincent looking at each other, smiling
“What a day,” Catherine said, suddenly at his side. She stared up at him. “Are you all right? What happened to your face?”

He touched the risen scrape on his cheek just as she did, trapping her healing hand to his skin. The ease, the freedom to be ... It was all so new, so welcome. He chuckled. “I’ll never know.” When, over Catherine’s head, he met Eimear’s gaze, he found her grinning.

“You look as though you rode with Cú Chulainn,” Eimear offered.

“I’ve heard that before.”

“From whom?” Catherine sputtered, and they laughed, as old friends would.



Click HERE for Chapter 55

________________

1. David Whyte. The Opening of Eyes. Where Many Rivers Meet. Many Rivers Press. 1990.
2. John O'Donohue, paraphrased. Anam Cara. A Book of Celtic Wisdom. 1997. Harper-Collins.
3. e. e. cummings. somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond.
4. Atisha. 11th Century Buddhist teacher.
5. Percy Bysshe Shelley. Queen Mab. A Philosophical Poem. 1813.


22 comments:

Krista said...

Oh, Carole.

You'll know, I'm sure, I've been checking this page throughout the day, on my breaks, waiting for this chapter to arise. And now I've got the goofiest grin on my face. :)

The Druids talked of triads, of wisdom and experience gained in threes, bound together, inextricable. How lovely this is to find one triad--Catherine, Vincent, Eimear--complete at last. And how utterly charming to find Vincent being just a tad bit...nosey. ;)

There's a lot more I can say about this chapter---and probably will LOL---but in every chapter, I find the most wonderful magic. This one was definitely no exception. :)

Beautiful work, again and still,

Krista :)

Carole W said...

You're good for my spirits, Krista. I've been wrestling with Blogger today and I thought it was going to win.

Exactly - there's this intermingling of triads - like a double triskelion. Catherine, Vincent, Eimear, Rosie, Martin and Flynn. And there's the image of the triple spiral labyrinth on the stones at New Grange. It's an inspiring concept. I'll never be able to express it like I feel it, you know?

Vincent … nosey. Hee! Martin is wearing off on him, maybe. :-D

Thank you so much for finding magic. That just means everything.

C

OKGoode said...

Just terrific, Carole! Always worth waiting for - always! What a delicious meeting. I'm so glad you didn't let the blogger win!

Hugs!
Laura

Carole W said...

Laura! You made it worth it for me to go toe to toe with the internet.

I'm amazed anyone can remember what happened chapters before - the whole thing is taking so long - and I'm always astounded when people haven't given up on me.

Thank you so much! It means a lot to me to hear this from you.

Hugs back,
Carole

Anonymous said...

This is the first comment I have left you, but I have been reading for a very long time. I've been nervous about saying hello for some reason. This chapter is so good I have to stop lurking and tell you how much I am enjoying this story. Your chapters make Catherine and Vincent's life seem so real! I have to stop and remember sometimes that Eimear, Rosie and Martin weren't really in the show. Keep up the good work.

A devoted fan,
Annabella

I LOVE your romantic chapters too. I've read them over and over. :)

Carole W said...

Hi Annabella! There's nothing that makes me feel better than to hear these characters fit within your vision of V and C's story, that they seem natural to it. I'm very glad to hear you like the gauzy parts, too, and one is coming up next!

Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. Your kind words make me want to work harder. And please don't be nervous. I'm glad you introduced yourself. Are you new to fandom? There are some great sites out there to explore.

Carole

Brenda K said...

Carole,

I'm realizing that I have a shelf in the back of my mind, accumulating reserved spaces for the back-stories you have alluded to, but not yet written - a testament to the reality of what you've created in your work, I think.

Warming to see Vincent figure out -- understand -- that Catherine would not think first of simply "getting to safety," but first, always, of getting to Vincent -- the certainty that "safety" is only partial if he is not there. We have a window to watch how the fulfillment of their relationship, the completion of their unique connection, is changing him into someone more self-secure, more mature. That agonizing angst of self-doubt is easing, that urge to self-destruction from the hollowness of frustrated wanting -- it's receding like dirtied flood waters.

Keep writing -- we read fast, and wait with barely-leashed patience.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carole!
I seem to be like Annabelle and find myself sending a comment for the first time even if I've been reading for some time. This is such a great story and I look forward to new chapters to come. It's so wonderful to find these sites that continue the C and V story after all these years. Keep up the good work and thank you!
From another devoted fan and friend,
Anna R.

Carole W said...

Brenda, I can't adequately express my gratitude and pleasure at your comments. To hear of 'your shelf' makes me really want to keep writing. I'm so glad to hear you've enjoyed the backstory flashes. I love imagining what went on before and I'm excited to think you'd possibly want to read those stories. Thank you!

And thank you for your assessment of what's happening with Vincent and Catherine. I very much wanted to convey just what you've written. I want them both to realize that full commitment opens doors they never knew existed between them and between them and Others. I like your image of the receding waters. I wish I'd said that!

You're so kind and generous. I'm really happy right now.

Carole

Carole W said...

Anna! I'm so glad to see you here and very pleased to know you've been reading. What a surprise! Thank you for your very kind words.

It really is encouraging to hear from readers. It makes me want to work harder and longer every day, to do my extra-best. Whatever made you and Annabella leave a comment today, I'm truly grateful for it. I hope I can give you a story you'll enjoy until the end.

Talk to you soon,
Carole

Brenda K said...

Carole,

I have always thought in simile and metaphor -- odd, for someone whose professional writing is analytic, precise, and often dry. But I do not copyright my conversations -- written or oral -- so feel free to appropriate for future use whatever imagery has struck your fancy. I think it would give me the same "warm fuzzies" to someday recognize a turn of phrase in someone else's writing as it gives you to know how much we appreciate your writing.

Carole W said...

Thanks, Brenda. Be watching! :-)

C

Anonymous said...

Carole, have finally had a chance to read on my phone on the bus coming home from my daughter's school trip. Wonderful! Will have more to say when I get back to my computer. Regards, Lindariel

Carole W said...

Thanks, Lindariel! Be safe on the roads. I hope the weekend was fun for all. :-)

Carole

Anonymous said...

Carole, there are so MANY wonderful, entrancing, moving passages in this chapter. Here are but a few of my favorites:

"First meeting, face to face, his second in a single night – no hesitancies, no scrabble for the mask of his hood; in Catherine’s embrace, no retreat from the claim of love." -- I ADORE this acknowledgment of Vincent's growing acceptance of his right to be KNOWN and to know and meet others without needing to apologize for who and what he is.

"His hand still in hers, Eimear turned her wrist as if to study him forearm to clawtips. He might have shied from her touch; earlier, offering Wren this same strange hand, he’d allowed self-doubt to muddy his perceptions. To Martin, he’d tendered his habitual plea – please don’t be afraid. How defeating the petition, how governing ... and yet how incumbent the duty – how ingrained – to beg pardon, to prepare ... A modest gyre of air stirred the hair at his temple, on it a whispered lilt. Fake it ‘til you make it. And then ... Eimear smiled at him, a smile of such incongruent delight for a moment he thought to look over his shoulder, certain she offered her gift to someone else." -- ACH, I LOVE this! Vincent is beginning to realize that he does NOT need to apologize and beg people to not be afraid. Even, then, his ingrained self-doubt still causes him to think that Eimear was smiling at someone else, not him. This rings so TRUE to Vincent, and yet allows him wonderful growth.


“Things were quiet; things were good,” she said. “I started to think that too, that the anger had flared out ... that coming Below was more for introduction than precaution.” More for me, because I wanted it, he heard. Oh, Catherine. Even if it were true. Don’t be afraid to deserve it. -- How SPECTACULAR to see that final thought coming from Vincent! It mirrors Catherine's "You deserve EVERYTHING!" from the TV series. BOTH of them have become so practiced at self-denial that they need to learn or re-learn that they do indeed deserve to want things just for themselves.

"A hummingbird – smaller than small, needle-beaked, bright-dark eyed – rested unrestrained in a man’s cupped hand. Dirt caked the caretaker’s nails, the map of fine lines in his palms. Somehow, in the capture of the moment, life beat visibly – in the bird’s near-tangible trilling heartbeat, in the weave of veins of the man’s muscled forearm and wrist. Someone looked on, maybe several someones, the faces in the background a foggy blur. Still, recognition suffused the image. Affirmation. A man capable of much. His tender mercies evident. The cardboard prop was bent, nearly broken through, and the picture would not stand, and why he’d found it face down was a piercing question, a saddening. One he’d not ask Eimear ... but Flynn." -- THIS is BRILLIANT! One small photo capturing the essence of Flynn AND Vincent. Power and tenderness. And Vincent is already thinking of how to help and get through to Flynn. I cannot WAIT for these two "braithre" to meet and recognize each other.

A SPECTACULAR chapter, Carole! If I made note of everything I liked, I'd be quoting the ENTIRE chapter!

MORE, MORE, MORE!

Regards, Lindariel

Carole W said...

Bless your heart, Lindariel! You absolutely know how to brighten my day. I've been staring at the white screen for an hour now, dithering on where to start the next chapter, trying to decide whose point of view would be most effective. I was about ready to just give up and go clean out my closet or something. And then I found your comment, and now, I'm feeling like it can happentoday!

Thank you for liking those parts and seeing what you did in them. Thank you for liking the scene with the hummingbird and Flynn and finding it illustrative of the coming relationship between V and F. I'm anxious for their meeting too! How will that come about and how soon?!?!

For that to happen, I need to get busy, don't I? LOL.

You're good to me and I really am grateful. I bless Ron Koslow's heart, too, for creating this world and these characters, because through them I've found stellar friends. Thank you again.

Carole

RomanticOne said...

I think you would be surprised at the number of "secret fans" out there reading your story. I'm hoping more will come out of hiding to give you the encouragement you so richly deserve.

The best parts for me were the easy acceptance of Vincent by Eimear and the miracle of Catherine finally being able to discuss Vincent with a trusted friend. Eimear's character is one of such love and acceptance, and with a sister like Rosie you just know she would be hard to surprise. Catherine definitely made the right choice in Eimear as friend and confidante. Her easy sharing of her knowledge of Vincent's careful personality was a thing of beauty.

Last, but not least, I was so excited to finally see the three of them together! When Flynn is finally brought within the circle, there's gonna be a lot of whoooping in Texas. :)

This chapter was well worth the wait.

Carole W said...

R-1, you've made my day. I'm so grateful, really, that the long wait while I tweak and dither doesn't drive you stark raving mad - that you'll stick with me. I'm grateful you like these new characters, that you find them believable, that you think they're a match for V and C, who deserve so much.

I'll be glad when Flynn and Vincent have their first face-to-face too! I hope I can do their conversation justice. It's a little scary, but actually, their interaction was what I had in mind already before I ever began Chapter 1. It sure has taken me a long time to get to it!

Knowing someone is reading keeps me working toward the end goal. It's a good feeling, really good. Thank you for being so generous with me.

Carole

SandyX said...

I've been remiss in leaving comments recently but you know, I hope, how much I enjoy everything you write.

Reading over the last few chapters, I feel such happiness for Catherine's having found someone she's connected to and can share the truths of her life with. She's stood alone on her side of the river for far too long. And there's the promise of more - Martin, Flynn, Rosie ... Connections that can truly bridge her world and his. I'm so looking forward to how this will all resolve.

Thank you keeping Vincent and Catherine's world vibrant and beautiful, and for giving them the happiness they deserve.

Big, grateful hugs,
Sandy

Carole W said...

If I have to wake up in the middle of the night, finding such encouragement and support makes it bearable. Thank you, Sandy.

I'm looking forward to how this will resolve too! I keep thinking I'm nearing the end and more things seem to reveal themselves, begging to happen. That's a little scary.

Thank you again. It means a lot to me to know your thoughts and reactions to the story, to know you've enjoyed it.

Hugs back,
Carole

NYC Utopia said...

Couldn't leave without getting reacquainted with this one... not half-bad either, is it?
(and don't we all wish we could meet Vincent so spontaneously, with such grace? Not as the old acquaintance he is to us all by now, but on trust and a hunch? I would trust you, and a handful of others, had you comparable secrets. But Eimear stands a few steps higher -- she is attuned to "the vibes", isn't she.)

C (commuting)

NYC Utopia said...

PS: RomanticOne said it better ;)