Iron Behind the Velvet ~ Chapter 55

~ Amid a Place of Stone, Be Secret and Exult 1

***Adult Content***

Holiday Suite, a tunnel room with a wooden door
Hidden from view, she waited for the shuffle of his boots or the signaling flicker of torch light, some alert he swept the long corridor toward their chamber. At first, her hands behind her back, she leaned against the stone, her eyes closed in anticipation, but now she paced the small foyer, every second circuit peeking around the wall. How long has it been–

When she knew his approach, she scurried over the threshold into the guest room Liz and Wren had prepared. By the time he rounded the entry, Liz and Noah’s boys – up too late, determined to be part of the welcoming committee – no longer clinging to him, she was innocently working the glossy wooden door back and forth, open and closed, open and closed. The heartpine framing notched into solid stone, it swung easily over the smooth floor.

“If you ask me,” she said, “this is quite an invention.”

Catherine greeting Vincent, rather breathlessly
He stepped through and backed her to the wall, his lips parting, his chest a bellows, his warm sweet breath rushing the hair across her brow, at her cheek. At last. Alone. His eyes were a rough cobalt sea flashing with spilling silver. One hand was braced on the stone above her and the other ...

Once, in nearly this same posture, he’d whispered his imaginings – touch he longed for, kisses he dared not take. She remembered the tenderness of his mouth turned down with raw ache, the charged distance between them, the emptiness of never. Now …  Beneath her sweater, his hand ... his lips closing on the lobe of her ear, drawing it in. His tongue-tip flickered, teased and fondled its captive, teased and promised. His knee pressed between her legs ... pressed and rose. With his foot, he kicked the door shut behind them. The latch settled home with a decisive click.

All she’d planned to tell him, all she wanted to ask, swirled to indistinct colors, any single thought formless, irretrievable. His lips followed the line of her jaw an infinitesimal distance from her skin, one she begged him close with the tilt of her head, the offer of her throat. One to the other electricity arced, the heated current thrilling her to vapor – a vapor he breathed in. He buried his nose in the lustful place behind her ear, caught her up when her knees gave way. She felt his stiffening against her, the silent quake that traveled up from some deep place to speed his heart. All want, nothing but want. Cloak, clothes – she needed done with them, if she could but get her hands between their pressed bodies, if she could but work the thwarting buttons and laces.

Slowly he released her to firm ground. He cradled her face, the pads of both thumbs stroking her lips. “Catherine,” he managed, before his mouth met hers, his first kiss – always – fragilely intense, trembly with memory. She took his tongue, gave him hers.

Holiday bedchamber, big bed with red covers, candles in niches
The bed was wide, its covers a crazy quilt of rich reds – wools and velvets, ribbed and waled and embroidered. Her legs wrapped around his waist, her fingers tunneled in his hair, with one hand he reached for the spread, flinging it to the foot. One knee on the eider mattress, he laid her down, leaving her there, stepping back, caressing her from too far away with a lingering look. Her hunger burned like a stoked furnace; from deeper than deep, the flame of her leapt out to twine, to dance with his. I see it, she was sure she heard. And then his cloak went flying, his flannel shirt sailing after. He turned in hurried study of the room, dropping to a broad velvet chair to unlace his boots. On her knees, she stripped off her sweater, but he was there to peel off her slub-silk tee, to slip the ribbon straps of her bra from her shoulders, down her arms, to bare her breasts swelling the eyelet trim. With deft hands, hands he’d once believed destined never for love, he released the front closure; the encumbrance fell away to the sheets. His palms turned up before her, supplicant, for a moment he closed his eyes, the irises nearly blue-black when he opened them again, when he cupped her fullness, when he lightly, torturously, exquisitely, drew his nails across her skin. Her nipples, so achingly peaked, so tightly beaded, would be satisfied only with their gentle capture between his teeth, with the hot wetness of his mouth, with his tongue pressing her tangible need to the precious soft cleft of his lip. Wordless, he reached behind his head for the collars of the layered thermals he wore. Behind him banks of candles glowed in roughhewn niches, in wrought-iron stands. Illumined in their amber nimbus, he was golden, gilded, glorious.

The sight of him – his body was still new country, hers to wander. As if blown with fanciful wind, his hair flew wild about his shoulders. The slabs of his chest flared out; his belly was a sheet of laddered muscle beneath feathery whorls of honey, copper and tawny wheat. His fly was open at the waist, the top button stripped from its fastening by the haste of his undressing, a thatched bronze line darkening ... disappearing. She reached for him, dragging him closer by his belt loops, and fell to the buttons. After wresting the last, the deepest one stubborn within the placket, she parted the soft-worn fabric of his cords with both hands, sweeping the hollows and ridges of his steeled haunches. His freed erection glistened with promise. Her lips pressed to his abdomen, his shaft found harbor between her breasts, and when she turned her cheek to the flat plane of his stomach, when she nestled to the softness there ... as she always did, she counted her breath-taking blessings.

He stepped from his loosened trousers, and with no more than a look, urged her to lie back. His frown of anticipation she recognized; his frown of assessment, of struggled self-possession, she understood, but this ... a secret artist at work, his countenance transfigured. He frowned with brilliant intent. Advanced. With his thumb and two fingers he fondled the button of her jeans. The feel of his furred knuckle at her navel, the press of his other hand just above her knee ... she burned with need, with now, would gladly sacrifice her remaining clothing if he would but dispense with it, rip the seams, shred it all away. Already, she was bare to him, soul and spirit. His. Silk and denim together, he tugged the fabrics down. Her craving for him scented the air.      

There was no waiting. Like an incoming tide, he washed over her, a parched shore thirsty for him. On his knees and hands, he valleyed the mattress with his weight. Soft, so soft, wisps of silk and light, his hair swept her skin calves to thighs, over the jut of her hip bones, each rib then one by one. She smoothed the knotted tension in his arms, and along his downy back trailed the groove of his spine over chiseled muscle to the tops of his thighs. Take me. Give yourself. His gaze was riveted to hers as he answered her, entered her, his long guttural sigh cut short as she surged up against him, as she gripped him, rolled him to his back. Settling to him, taking him fully, slowly, with a groan of raw bliss she rocked her hips. His brow furrowed in dark concentration. Beneath her his body quivered, so sweet a friction, so delicious the rippling waves ...

“Catherine, don’t move ...” He gasped and pulled her down, held her fast, the wrap of his arms forestalling even her imagined movement. But his deep-drawn breath stuttered out, his chest then heaving hard and fast. She rose and fell with it, rose and fell ... “Catherine!” he repeated. “Please! Don’t ... don’t–”

Every muscle drew bowstring-taut, his back arched, and she knew his unfurling. A spun-gold luminosity fluoresced his skin; a hoarse bellow tore like a white-hot arrow from his loins to his throat, forcing his mouth wide. His sound ... Candles sputtered with the gale. Some fettered wildness let free, the surprise of his ecstasy ... awakened her ... opened every door in her heart and she saw the world he saw, knew the same sun. Later she would tell him she heard birdsong, drew summer’s honeyed breath.2

When, spent and raspy, he sank to the bedding, she slipped to his side. There were no words. His mystery would not be unraveled with thought; part of him would always be secret. Nothing mattered but the joy she could bring him, the pleasure he allowed himself to take from her ... and if he held back the full infinity of his soul, he was pleasured ... as proclaimed by his pounding heart. But he was frowning again, and it was other than a frown she cherished.

“What’s wrong? Tell me.

He laced his fingers with hers. “I ... You didn’t ...”

She nuzzled closer, her head on his shoulder. Covered with the cloth of happiness, there is no other prize.3 “If you think that, Vincent, you’re wrong.” Languidly, she drew  her leg over his, wedging her knee between his bristled thighs, the prickle like little match-strikes to the kindling of her bonfire, sparks mixed with stars. “Besides ...” she added, “you remember, don’t you? The last thing you said to me?” She tried to retrieve her hand – to show him, had he forgotten – but it was caught firmly to his chest.

His breathing had evened. The vivid heat he generated had lessened, she realized. When she looked up at him, she saw his mouth now just curved ... his half-smile of sleep. She crawled to the foot of the bed, dragged the layers of covers up from the floor. Cinnamon and amber – his hair waved damp and tangled across the pillows. She brought one matted lock to her nose, scenting something crystalline, like the waters in the pool beneath the falls, yet more ... brilliant, more silvery ... and congratulated herself for packing his wide-toothed comb. “Rest well,” she murmured, tucking him in, tucking her body to his. For now.


Next to him, his repose ... his stillness, his tranquility ... deepened her own slumber, restored her. Only a few hours sleep and she was renewed.

Luckily, she acknowledged, opening her eyes, not for the first time adding, Magically.

Will I ever not be surprised to see you standing there, she’d once wondered.4 Waking in his arms was more than that, more than a surprise. Waking in his arms was every dream fulfilled. Spooned to her, he was her velvet complement. His arm was around her, the blankets clutched in his hand drawn up to her breast, his breath warm on the nape of her neck. His legs stretched long behind hers. A slow-eddying current held them; as if entwined upon a float of rushes, they drifted a gentle river. Loathe to leave him, roundly, she nestled to the cup of his thighs.

Nevertheless ...

Catherine, undressed, looking back over her bare shoulder
She shifted and he released his grip on the covers, rolled to his back. His breathing shallowed, but after a prolonged and rumbly snort, lengthened out, deepened. Her feet on the floor, she watched him. Still asleep. And soundly, deservedly so.

She’d left him last agitated by the deciphering of Kanin’s cryptic message – had it been one. The journey he’d made to Kanin’s hypothesized aid was undoubtedly long, likely strenuous, surely solitary. Regardless of her parting admonition, she was sure he’d traveled alone and unfed, the apparition of Mitch his foul companion there and back. A midnight supper, Martin had told her, its precipitating event still unexplained. Conversation till dawn, a nip of The Green Spot. A grueling workday compounded with obvious injuries, and, she suspected, a headache. Kanin’s findings, whatever they were, their impact on this borderland community. And Eimear. His acceptance of her unwavering, still she brought change to their lives. All she’d not yet told him – about Phan and Mr. Haas, about Mitch and Sam ... about Jenny – he knew it all, if only by color and weight.

The world on his shoulders, Martin had observed.

Two worlds, she amended.

The stain of bruises marred his hip and ribcage. What happened? Too much could. She bit her lip, longing to soothe him. First chance, she’d ask Dr. Wong for the liniment of myrrh and ginseng and camphor Vincent admitted he sometimes used – though no more, he’d asserted, unwilling to subject her to the odor. As if anything could drive me away. Gently, gently she brushed back the hair clinging to the wound on his cheek, touched her fingers to it. It was reddened still and ridged, but cool. Healing.

Contusions and scrapes aside, she delighted in the rare pleasure of studying him. He’d raised one arm behind his head, flatted one hand on his abdomen. One leg drawn up, the rumpled sheets just draped his loins. She couldn’t remember a time when she’d left the bed he didn’t wake as she did so, when he didn’t sigh with what seemed relief when she returned to his embrace. Once …

He’d been ravenous for her, waiting with a fierce passion that was all give, his hands, his mouth ... everywhere, adoring, delighting …

Afterward, dazed, limp and liquid, she asked him,  “What ... was that?”

“Never leave me,” he whispered, his forehead bowed to hers.

She couldn’t help herself; she laughed ... softly. “That ... was a bribe?” 

He settled his lips to the pulse of her throat, and through a fog, she recognized the irreverence of her words, wished them back. A moment passed and then ... she felt a chuff of breath against her skin. “Call it ... insurance,” he answered, before beginning again a fervent worship of her neck and shoulder, the inside of her wrist, the palm of her hand ...

She shook away the memory and drew the quilt to his waist. He snuffled and turned his head on the pillow. The bathing chamber for these rooms was across the corridor and down a curving staircase. Really, she had no choice.

Bare-skinned, she’d expect to shiver, but there was no chill in the air. Its  hearth-source as yet undiscovered, a mysterious chimney ducted a stream of heat into the room, and Liz had demonstrated the operation of the vent’s louvered slats. “It comes in puffs,” she’d explained, “and it’s not exactly hot, but it takes the edge off. There’s a brazier if you need it.” Here Liz grinned and winked and continued on. “Which you probably won’t. This is our honeymoon chamber, ya know. Or a getaway, depending. Whatever, you don’t wanna be so bundled up all the time. The pool, it’s toasty in pockets, cool in others. You gotta share it with the other holidayers, but nobody else is down here since Wren’s put your friend up at her place.”

Though half the candles had sputtered out, the overnight pillars still burned with a steady glow. She could see well enough to find her clothes; even so, she didn’t want to dress. This was business, after all. She’d soon be back. There was tunnel-wear in the dresser, a stitched gown, a long nightshirt, tucked-together pairs of knitted woolen socks. But the drawer creaked, she remembered from her earlier exploration, and his cloak was handy, flung half-across the standing mirror. She pulled it from the glass, clutched it close. Something heavy weighted the breast pocket.

a cavern passageway with white spires and flowstone
So these are hoodoos? She wove a maze of white spires to the staircase down. The passage walls were shining ivory and ecru – flowstone, Vincent had told Eimear, when they passed through a domed room hung with curtains of it. So different from home, these northern tunnels. Still the corridor was lit with flaring torches, and the familiar pipes ran the length of the wall. As a result of Kanin’s expedition across the perimeter, the all-quiet had been lifted, though Liz had assured her only an emergency message would be transmitted to their rooms. “We’re not really far away, just a few turns, but it’s tradition – you won’t have any visitors. We’ll have tea with Eimear, get her situated for the night, answer the rest of her questions.” Liz had laughed. “I thought we’d have to resuscitate Wren when you guys came around the corner, but she’s sure glad to have a friend up top. I was in her chamber, listening while she practiced her ... whattaya call ‘em, arguments ... for court when Vincent’s announcement came in. I wasn’t much help anyway, and the boys wouldn’t stay down, but now, Eimear, from her office even. Some coincidence, huh?”

She’d nodded and her vision had blurred. “Thank you,” she said, “for ... accepting all this. It’s breaking procedure, I know, and you have so much on your mind already, the incursions, the reconstruction, Noah away from home, Stuart, so many others ...”

Ehhh, don’t worry, Catherine. Trust is everything. You, of all people ...” Liz reached for her hand. “We live a little different here. No less secret, for sure, but ...” She’d tipped her head, presumably south. “Look, we’ve got things under control. I know how it is over there, but I promise we won’t be needing Vincent to change a light bulb just because he’s here. Go to bed. Have some fun. Sounds like your tomorrow’s gonna be a bear.”

Eimear between them, they’d begun the journey Below, and two levels down, Vincent tapped out the message of their approach in a code she didn’t understand. At first, Eimear had been quiet, her eyes wide, her gaze roaming, returning with a stunned wonder as often to Catherine as to Vincent who briefed the history of the community as they walked. The living chambers were indeed deep, the corridors not as well-traveled as those at home, and once he’d had to shuck his cloak to grapple with a rusted hatch wheel. Eimear folded her arms and leaned against the stone in a truly native way to watch. When he disappeared first down the ladder – to test the rungs, he said, to help them make the necessary leap from the last crosspiece to the corridor floor – Eimear offered her a wide grin and a thumbs-up, and Catherine knew then, they traveled – together – an entirely new territory.

As they descended, Vincent recounted stories of his and Noah’s and Stuart’s youth, described landmarks he promised to show them both. Hidden chambers, promontories, gorges. A black-water lake, a gymnasium, a needle passage illustrated with mysterious runes. Distracting Eimear from worry, at the same time drawing her ever in. At a rope catwalk over a seemingly bottomless fissure, Eimear balked and looked back over her shoulder searching, mapping the way they’d come, but he’d taken her hand, remarking on her courage. Eimear safely across, necessarily he’d returned for her, nodding patiently while she explained her dislike of splintery planks knotted together with frayed rope, regardless of the twisted steel cable he pointed out to her more than once, the anchor bolts and turnbuckles, the metal netting between the rungs.

“Wren is close,” Vincent had said, his hand on the resonate pipe.

“Where are we?” Eimear asked.

“Beneath Van Cortlandt Park, under Croton Woods.”

“We are?” And Catherine heard the awe in Eimear’s voice, and, when Wren appeared with Liz and her sons, and Julia on her way to relieve the stationed sentry, and Étienne and Mercy and Seth alongside in welcome, the fall of silence, the full charge of privilege and responsibility.

A minute passed while Wren stood staring. Catherine’s belief she might surprise Vincent with the connection between Eimear and Wren had been short-lived; she’d harrumphed when he told her of his conversation with Wren and his independent piecing together part of this puzzle. But his announcing message had left out a certain specific, leaving Wren the surprised one.

She asked him why, and he shrugged and squeezed her hand. “Showing is better than telling.”

One by one, the welcoming party drifted away to their own rooms or occupations. The last she’d seen, Wren’s arm was hooked with Eimear’s as they disappeared through a junction. They’d be good for one another. Wren’s sponsorship cemented Eimear’s footing Below, and her coming court case – Edward’s future and welfare – would focus Eimear’s thoughts elsewhere, away from what loomed before her – telling Flynn, naming, making real all she’d endeavored to deny, confronting the consequence of Flynn’s certain fury and shame, loving him through it.

Liz’s boys wanted to give them a tour, but one beginning and ending in their own chamber. “You gotta see our turtle!” one of the twins had cried, tugging at Vincent’s hand. “Read us a story. Two stories!” the other demanded. Ephraim? Tobin? They were identical in feature and insistence. Vincent promised to do both and would put the boys to bed with but one story to their vocal dismay, though he did acquiesce to their clamor to grab-hold and swing from his outstretched arms. After one dropped to the ground, then the second, she saw him grip his shoulder, rotate his bent arm, shake his head when they begged for another ride. “They miss their father,” Liz observed. “Their ya-yas are building up. I’m seriously thinking of sending them to their grandpa’s for a couple years.”

With Vincent off with her sons, Liz had shown her their readied suite – a sitting room, a stocked keeping room, the bedchamber. A single peony bloom stood in a glass test tube on the dresser even though the message heralding their arrival had gone out only half an hour before. Someone had thought to share. “There’s coffee in the dining hall by five in the morning,” Liz told her, straight-faced. “I hear it’s important.” Already she had a reputation. Belonging blazed within her, turning her fully from the lonesome edge of her life.

a cavern with a stone sink with water pooled in it

The bathing chamber was a dressing room at the foot of slab steps inlaid with blue-black and sparkly pebbles – a chiseled table, a gold-leafed mirror, an armless chair with a crewel-embroidered seat. A partition of calcite like a frozen waterfall hid a stone sink and the facilities; a key-hole passage opened to a torch-lit cavern lake. The plunge-pool beckoned her to wade in, wisps of steam rising from the still surface. But first ...

a key-hole portal to an underground lake
Wrapped in a towel, the tips of her hair just damp, she plucked Vincent’s cloak from the back of the chair. An older one, she reminded herself. And ripped, she noticed. She spread it on the dressing table, inspected it. The damage was not its first; other rough mends had been made. She reached for the lantern’s control. The tan leather lapel was blotched dark brown, rusty-red in the brighter light. And then she did shiver, the sudden cold like bony fingers on her arm. She lifted the garment, swung it open. Something fell from the pocket, pinging, metal on stone, a folded square of paper fluttering after.

Vincent, close-up, looking amorous
“I remember,” he said. She spun from her business at the dresser. She’d been gone perhaps a quarter of an hour, and he’d been asleep when she returned – on his side, his back to the doorway, his respiration sweetly rich and slow. She’d not yet removed his cloak, was still holding it gathered shut. “What I last said to you,” he whispered on, propped on one elbow. “What I do and what I dream, include thee, Catherine.”5

He rose from the bed, crossed the room in two long strides, most definitely awake. The vestige of shuddery coldness dissipated. She dropped the medal and the silver talisman, the crease-worn paper to a catch-bowl on the bureau top, letting her grip on the satin edging soften, exposing her shoulders, the mounds of her breasts. His gaze moved to her cleavage, his voice a rising-falling, low-rumbling growl. As if the first time. Always, always, always as if our first time. Oh, Vincent.

“You’re wrong ... again,” she murmured. “The last thing you said ... ” She allowed the fabric to dip lower. His brow knit searchingly. When memory dawned, he pulled back one woolen wing where, beneath, her hand smoothed over the flat of her belly. He drew in a sharp breath. She smiled. “Your hands are my hands ... remember?”

The cloak puddled on the floor. Before the mirror, he turned her, pulled her close. His cheek pressed to her crown, his embrace was gently possessive, an arm across her collarbone, a fingertip grazing her taut nipple. “The painting,” she began. With one splendid difference. She watched his hands travel the contour of her flanks, rise to the undersides of her breasts. He caressed her, kneaded her, caught up her pearls. She reached for him, grasped his hips. His fingers threaded through hers, he propelled their linked hands across the fine divide of their bodies, over her ribs to the dip of her navel and down to her springing curls, to her petals.

“Show me,” he urged her, his hoarse whisper just audible over her glad, glad gasp.

Click HERE for Chapter 56


1. William Butler Yeats. To a Friend Whose Work Has Come To Nothing.
2. William Shakespeare. Sonnet LXV.
3. Mary Oliver. The Rapture.
4. From the last scene of Arabesque. Season 2.
5. Elizabeth Barret Browning. Untitled Poem. Sonnets from the Portuguese. Quoted in Vincent's note to Catherine in Chapter 49 - Erelong, Erelong.


Krista said...

Oh, Carole. Damn

*fans self* :D

My laptop's fan came on (I only knew because it became quite warm underneath.) Gosh, I wonder why? :)

This is...magical. All of it. What I love about your V and C is the love between them that creates and recreates itself, every day, whether they're together or apart. A moebius strip, if you will, with no beginning and no end.

I didn't get to read "Marriage Morning" when it was first posted--I began reading your stories sometime afterwards. But when I read that, and now this chapter, I will think, " This is how you write."

Great job, again and still.

Now pardon me as I go take a very cold shower...

-Krista :)

Carole W said...

:-D and hugs for that. You know you've made my day, saying what you said. These are delicate moments. I always want to do right by C and V. I love them together, and I want them to be really happy.

Thank you, always, for the encouragement you give me. In those times when I wonder … well, you know what I wonder … you make a difference.

Another hug,

Anonymous said...

Wow O Wow! Did I say WOW? I was really happy to see the notice that this was going to be a romantic chapter, but Wow! :)

What I really like besides the intimacy is the way you write this. It's part of the story instead of just thrown in there for the entertainment value. Catherine and Vincent just shine through.

I don't seem to be able to put into words what I am thinking about this chapter. I don't think I breathed hardly when I was reading it the first time. The second time I was a little weepy. They love each other so much! But what is that in Vincent's pocket?

Your new friend and fan,

Carole W said...

Annabella! It's nice to see you again. Thank you for reading and for your enthusiasm. It does my heart good and your kind words make me want to work harder. Chapters like these are fun to write, but I never know exactly how they'll be received. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

The Thing in Vincent's Pocket! LOL. That will be explored more fully next chapter. Better not say more now though. As things heat up here toward the end, I promise I'll be pulling up all those loose threads - I'd better!

Thanks again.

RomanticOne said...

Oh wow! This was definitely worth the wait! You do such wonderful visuals - "his body was still new country, hers to wander". Now that's a visual! And Browning's poetry. There's just too much I want to comment upon. You make their love so sweet, yet intense. I had forgotten about the "secret" in Vincent's pocket of his cloak. Now my curiosity is stoked again, not to mention my imagination after reading this chapter. :)

Brenda K said...

Oh, Carole,

It is so easy to write a sex scene -- and so difficult to write a love scene, as you do. It's the difference between a velvet paint-by-numbers, and a Da Vinci. I'm always stunned, always moved, and always left yearning for magic in my own life.

The replay of the "pinned against the wall" moment from ICYH -- a memory remade from despair into joy now; the pose from Kristopher's painting, played out as a signature flourish, increasingly more intimate in their ownership of it; the refashioning of a Lisa-painful consoling assurance into a private promise between them -- these are all exquisite touches in building your story of their lives together. Together, they paint over painful red wounds with the soothing azure of their adoration. It resonates deeply.

Carole W said...

Hi R-1! The Wait seemed like a year-long one, didn't it? Maybe longer. I shake my head - 12 months or more of writing time, and only a smidge longer than 24 hours story wise. Your patience and support - I have no words either! I'm really glad you enjoyed their reunion.

Thank you for your kinds words about the visuals. Thank you for finding the visuals intense but not too much. Thank you for being so generous with me and telling me, because with chapters such as these, I do feel some anxiety, wondering what you think.

The Pocket Secret will be - eventually - fully explained. I have a list of substories that must be resolved and I'm wondering now if I can possibly do that in my estimated 12 more chapters. It seems unlikely, doesn't it? Will you murdalize me if it goes on longer? LOL. You might should.

Thank you so much,

Carole W said...

Brenda - Bless you. Your comments made me happy and teary-eyed at the same time. Thank you for finding the three moments - the echo of I Carry and the painting and most of all the moment in Arabesque when Vincent turns up his hands, palms up before Catherine, sure he can never offer her love. I hoped that visual from her balcony and the contrast of then and now would be findable in this scene. You made my day by telling me. Thank you.

I can't express how relieved, grateful and purely happy I am, finding your message here. It is hard to write physical expressions of love scenes. And while V and C have exquisite lust for each other, newly allowed, they do love. I hope to never diminish that.

However ... a light-hearted, very fluffy story idea came to me while I was pondering the word choices in this chapter. I hope I can make it funny and intensely them at the same time.

Once again, you've created a lovely visual with your words - painful red wounds, azure adoration. Thank you for that too.


Brenda K said...

You played the Arabesque memories out twice in this chapter -- once as Catherine's waking thought, and once as her touchstone reminder to Vincent of his last words to her before this night -- both, a reshaping from reassurance into affirmation -- the evolution of a relationship from the hopeful dance of "maybe" into the solidity of "always." It's beautiful to watch.

Carole W said...

:-) Hugs for that, Brenda.

You're right - the variation on 'these are my hands,' his palms turned up before Catherine, and Catherine's thoughts about him thinking his hands might never give love and a memory-moment of proof to the contrary.

Today's a catch-up day for me on other projects, which is handy, because after posting I always go through a kind of anxious shock. You've really boosted my spirits. I can't wait till tomorrow to start again.


Anonymous said...

Oh, Carole . . .

I was sick over the weekend, so I didn't get to read this until Monday morning. Whew! It is a chilly day today, and I was all hunkered down under a blanket here at my desk with the computer, but I sure don't need a blanket any more! Yowza!

This is so very, very lovely. I'm so pleased with the way you bring Vincent's unique intensity and senses into these beautiful love scenes, as well as Catherine's unerring, thrilling welcome for his differences. They are "something that has never been and should be" and now finally IS, and it is GLORIOUS!

Too many writers get to this point, and then dismiss Vincent's differences as being ultimately superficial -- they are NOT, and I can't imagine why anyone would want them to be superficial. The whole point of Vincent's journey is to accept and love himself for the entirety of who and what he is -- the light and the dark, the poetic and the feral, the Man and the Other -- and to realize himself as one Being made whole through Catherine's love. The implication, from all the way back in ICYH, is "Cleave to me. Marry me. COMPLETE ME."

In this chapter, they are moving together towards completeness.


Best regards, Lindariel

Carole W said...

Lindariel! I'm sorry to hear you're not feeling well. I hope you're on a fast mend. Let me know how you're doing.

I totally agree - Vincent's differences shouldn't be dismissed. As Catherine said once, whatever he is, he's the best part - of what it means to be human, of herself. He's her completion; she is his. Imagine the changes wrought when twin flames reunite. It has to be glorious indeed.

The challenge, telling a V/C story, is always to keep him himself. In my mind, Catherine 'kiss' doesn't change him back to the prince of the fairy tale BatB, but encourages his special self simply to keep kissing. :-)

You phrased Vincent's duality so well. Thank you for that.

And thank you for remembering ICYH.

Feel better!

OKGoode said...

Wow! WOW!! And WOWZAH!!!

Carole, no one writes like you, regardless of subject, but certainly nobody writes gauze as well as you!

I'll never look at the portrait now without thinking of that final scene!

And I thank you for that!

Brenda K said...

Oh yes, Lindariel! That's exactly it! Catherine's love is the fulcrum upon which Vincent's dual nature can achieve balance.

Carole W said...

OKG - you're too good to me, but thank you, and I love you for it. I'll treasure your comment always.

I'm thinking we need Kat to draw that alter-portrait. Maybe if we all ask her ... :-)


Anonymous said...

Hi Carole!

First, I'm much better, thanks!

Second, I've FINALLY had a chance to read this chapter over for a second time. THIS ---

"He stepped through and backed her to the wall, his lips parting, his chest a bellows, his warm sweet breath rushing the hair across her brow, at her cheek. At last. Alone. His eyes were a rough cobalt sea flashing with spilling silver. One hand was braced on the stone above her and the other ...

Once, in nearly this same posture, he’d whispered his imaginings – touch he longed for, kisses he dared not take. She remembered the tenderness of his mouth turned down with raw ache, the charged distance between them, the emptiness of never. Now … Beneath her sweater, his hand ... his lips closing on the lobe of her ear, drawing it in. His tongue-tip flickered, teased and fondled its captive, teased and promised. His knee pressed between her legs ... pressed and rose. With his foot, he kicked the door shut behind them. The latch settled home with a decisive click."

This, This, THIS is just made of YUMMMMMMMMMMM! I love the way you hearken back to that incredibly charged moment in ICYH with Vincent looming over Catherine, close but not touching, lamenting everything he wished could be between them but could not. Contrasting that painful time with this joyous, unhesitant CLAIMING is SOOOOOOOOOoooooooo . . . GRATIFYING!!!!!


Regards, Lindariel

Anonymous said...

P.S. I also LOVED the bribe/insurance moment! That is SOOOOOOO Vincent! Sigh . . . Lindariel

Carole W said...

Yea! Lindariel! I'm glad you're feeling better now. I get tired of feeling punk about 3 seconds in, don't you?

And thank you! There's not much that brightens my day more than to hear someone would read a chapter a second time. That means a lot to me - it's so encouraging.

That is a lovely description - his joyous claiming. And it's what I hoped to show happening.

I'm just so glad the scene in ICYH is apparent here. I did have someone tell me early on that people don't like reading connected stories, but I don't seem to be able to do it differently. Thank you - and you too, Brenda - for remembering it.

Thank you, too, for the PS. I hope Vincent can relax and enjoy himself (in different ways) as he grows in love with Catherine and comes to believe it's gonna be good, better than good!

When the scene came to me, I wondered if he could handle C's easy humor, if he could move from the serious-serious into joy and abandon. I was happy to find out that after a moment he could. :-D

I have a couple separate story ideas noodling for that - If only I had that sleeping/chore-performing clone!

Again, thank you for reading,

Brit said...

Whoo! I agree with Lindariel and since she reposted that first scene, well I'm in total agreement!
Vincent coming in, taking charge, only kissing her after he said her name... Second time reading it for me, for I had the chance to read it the morning you posted it but didn't have a chance to say anything, or think. I was... Well if I say humming and dreaming and amazed and very happy for Vincent and Catherine, then you should be pleased! ^_^ if my husband hadn't been busy, I'm sure I would have had to explain why I was so pleased.

Connecting stories aren't bad to read when they are done so well! :) I think what makes them harder to read is if the reader doesn't know who the other characters are or the other stories that connect the current story.
If that made sense...

I enjoyed this as much if not more the second time Carole.


Carole W said...

Thank you, Brit! For reading twice! and for finding it dream-worthy. These scenes ... well, you never know how they'll go over. I hoped the visuals and sensuals would be in character for V and C, and if you read and hummed after, then Yea!

My poor brain - it only seems to go in one direction. I do have some story ideas that will fit in between I Carry and I/V and one noodling that will explain what happened before I Carry, though it will fit later in the sequence of stories, more of a flashback kind of thing. A bunch that will come after with Eimear/Flynn/Rosie/Joe front and center. I'm so glad to know you're not turned away by these connected stories.

Thank you again for reading and letting me know your response to the chapters. It means so much to me. Your kindness keeps me going.


Vicky said...

Oh, Carole...Oooh, yum! I...I had to read it twice, and revisit some parts a third time still... wow! This is that fantastic moment in I Carry, only brought to full circle so to speak! That moment is stuck in my head like a favorite scene of an episode, and to see this now is so, so satisfying!
I know I said I'd wait for the novel to be done...but I had missed IV so much, I couldn't help coming back, so here I am.
Seriously, Carole, what a gift you have, and how well you know Vincent and Catherine. Ah, that exquisite imagery again!

Carole W said...

Vicky, you are always a day-changer for me. Thank you so very much, for more than I can ever put into words.

Finding your comment this morning meant I had to reread this chapter, and now I'm even more anxious for V and C to come back together (When I posted the newest chapter -68- they were above and below, taking care of business, but that's fixing to change.) I want, more than anything, to be true to these two. I'm relieved and pleased you find them in character.

And I'm really happy you wanted to come back to read, regardless of the story's unfinished-ness yet. I can only advise you to read very, very slowly. Hopefully I can stay reasonably ahead of you.