Iron Behind the Velvet - Chapter 56

~ The Rose-fire of the Compass, Blossoming With Direction1

Why did I have to return to my former home,
Wake up, dress ...2

Mornings. The requirement to rise from their bed, to leave him and go Above was a daily quarrel with gravity.

Stay. Another hour, another minute. I can’t get up. Not yet.

“Gravity should win,” she murmured, fitted to him, her argument whispered into the hollow of his throat.

With feathered touch, he brushed the hair from her face, from there tracing the curve of her ear and on, to the small of her back. Over the path of her, he took notice. Here, he seemed to say, and here. Here you are beautiful. Here you are mine.

“Gravity is the weakest of the four forces,” he started in, but she stopped his science with the fingers of one hand.

“It holds the earth in orbit of the sun. The stars together in our galaxy,” she reasoned on. “Why not me to you?” Under the persuasion of her lips, he conceded without objection. If they had to part, she’d take this last sweet victory.

a waterfall falling between two rippled folds of cavern flowstone
The bathing cascade was concealed within two pleated curtains of flowstone, an intimate accommodation even for lovers. Along an unseen race, its rushing announcement thunderous, a force rained straight down through an opening in the cavern ceiling, drilling over the years – the centuries – a waist-deep basin in the granite floor. Spray rose from the loud-spattered surface, fell again as mist. Beneath their feet, smooth round pebbles vibrated. The shower’s massaging pulse and power hurried their ablutions and soon they returned to their private soaking alcove off the deep-channeled lake, settling to ledges facing each other in the warm waters.

a quiet pool of blue water surrounded by a rocky shore, a cave lake
Leaving out details she’d demand if the hands on the clock of the day weren’t so rudely spinning, he briefed her of Kanin’s findings across the perimeter, hardly bothered, she noted, by whoever MD was, or her – Her! – designs and intentions. Knowledge was power, he reminded her. The incursions were more accidental than planned; the neighboring residents a loose association of mostly benign souls. They would take all cautions. They would monitor; they would survey and track, he said. But the lessened urgency insured they would make no mistakes born of haste. Relieved because he was, nevertheless suspicious of this MD and the modifier ‘mostly’, she withheld any cross-examination. The specter of Mitch dissolved, she’d not conjure another.  

Adjustments to the plan of reinforcement could now be made with purpose instead of conjecture. They’d waste no time considering all possible routes of incursion, on unnecessary fortifications. The discovery of a mysterious stone-wheel security system – one he’d soon show her – meant thirty residents would not be relocated, but could keep their homes in the northwest sector. Already the alterations hastened the estimated date of completion, and, he went on to say, the entrance to Martin’s garden – to Eimear’s – had been preserved.

“You mean, there was–” She broke off, hearing her voice rise in pitch, the dismay welling in it. Under the cover of water, she trapped her hands between her thighs and the stone seat. Preserved, he’d said. It would remain. Breathe, she instructed herself.

“A possibility we might lose it,” he finished for her. “Yes. One approach – a relatively uncomplicated plan – would have walled off most of Woodlawn, save for the new entrance Wren and Stuart need beneath Dom’s brother’s building. I asked for a second consideration ... for personal reasons.”

“You did?” Now surprise tinged her question, and, chagrinned, she offered a silent broadcast of apology that seemed – when his eyes crinkled at the corners, when he chuffed and smiled at her – unnecessary.

“I promised you ready, Catherine. And because I did, I’m learning ... many new things.”

The timbre of his voice was velvet-rough, both dark and light, rounded, mellow, whisperingly resonant, and she thought to glide into his embrace, to ask him to repeat himself. To show her ... But the moment passed, Later again their unspoken pledge. He spread his arms along the granite bench, shifting to sink in the water nearly to his chin. His hair fanned wide, amber on the ripples.

“You saw Sam today,” he said. “Martin told me.”

The marvel of that coincidence was acknowledged with a glance, a raised brow, a flash of disappointment. He’d discovered the connection between Wren and Eimear before she could reveal it herself; he knew of her trip to Maryfields. She’d hoped to stun him with that magical meeting. But ... time ratcheted forward above, below as well. She could almost hear the clang and grind of the two cities’ morning gears. Somewhere close by, Eimear was waking to a weighty day. Wren, after an interrupted evening, prepared for a critical hearing. At the worksite, Vincent’s crew would soon gather, expect his expertise. So much sharing was deferred for now. And what she knew about Mitch, about his utter fall, he had to hear.

“Mitch is no threat,” she told him. “He never will be again.”

He grew still with the telling, so still the water around him smoothed almost to glass. The look on his face ... Disgust, anger, sorrowshe recognized each passing flash, shared his response. But this ... His narrow-lidded focus shifted to something distant and magnetic. His mouth turned terribly down; a muscle in his jaw ticked. Does he feel responsible? A woman has died at Mitch’s hands. A woman who would be alive if he’d ... chosen differently. Between her own injury and another’s murder, how many others were hurt? Was he making now a mental tally of postulated damages, of suffering allowed by his forbearance? He’d be wrong to think so, and yet, she was sure he did. Darkly, she understood his reasoning, was party to it. She’d been unable, herself, to take Mitch off the streets.

Before she could offer anchor, he pushed off for the deeper channel where he disappeared below the surface with a mighty pike and kick. She held her own breath, letting it out in a slow, slow stream as she knew he must, though he surfaced long after she’d had to again and again draw air.

He flared up from the bottom of the pool, his hair black as the deep, the spray she caught, when he whipped his head side to side, cold. Not now, Catherine. He didn’t say the words out loud. A watery expanse between them purposely kept, he was asking for time. For space. Whatever gripped him, he would wrestle in privacy if he could but have it. She opened her arms, as much an invitation as consent, his to choose. He sank away, propelling himself once more to the enveloping depths.

She rose and wrapped herself in her waiting towel, stood at the water’s edge. The nuance wasn’t lost – he’d not asked her to leave him. Solitude she would grant. I’m here, Vincent. Here. 

They'd found two brown, nubby cotton robes in the guest room's armoire and now they hung from iron pegs studded in the alcove beneath the staircase. The smaller one only a little too long for her, she cinched the sash at her waist and returned to the guest chamber for the wide-toothed comb she’d packed, the rosewood angle-scope she’d stowed in her bag. The pipe was soundless, the corridor hushed, but the aroma of coffee wafted through the tunnel. By five, Liz had promised. Time was passing too quickly. She padded back down the steps and he was there.

A towel around his hips, he rubbed his hair with another. His eyes were veiled, both by narrowed lids and the steely-blue color they took on when he was ... retreated. One day, she vowed, she’d describe for him the barometer of his irises – the azure joy, the cornflower serenity, the cobalt seduction ...

“There’s something I want to say, Vincent.”

He lowered his arm, the damp cloth clutched in his fist, the hem brushing the floor at his feet. “Then I will hear it.”

“Mitch had the opportunity to learn something from you,” she began, watching the set of his mouth. “Mercy, grace. He had the opportunity to prove there was something left of him. He knows what decent is; he grew up with it. He knows good and right from wrong. Any vile thing Mitch did ... after ... was not your fault.”

She handed him the second robe; he pulled it on. The towel loosened from his waist, he let it fall it atop hers in the wicker basket at the foot of the stairs. A moment passed and he exhaled through pursed lips a long, controlled stream of air. Whatever hounded his conscience, he’d subdued ... or caged to examine another day. Or, perhaps, he believed her.

Tightening the robe’s fringed belt, he turned her way. “How is Sam?”

“Ashamed. Angry. Heartsick with remorse,” she said. “But he’s cared for; he has friends, work he enjoys. Reasons to wake every morning. He’s healing, as much as a father can when his child has become a stranger.” He nodded, and she drew her hand down his forearm to his wrist, his skin cool and damp from his deep swim. “‘It’s over’. That’s how he put it. He’s ... relieved, I think.”

“If he is, it is a terrible relief,” Vincent said, with such a simple empathy. He reached for the comb protruding from the pocket of her robe. “Sit,” he said.

“It’s strange.” She settled in the chair before him. “If it weren’t for Mitch, my need to know, I’d never have gone to visit Sam today.”

“I cannot thank Mitch for anything.”

Though her head was tipped to his attentions, her eyes closed, she could imagine his glower. “No,” she agreed. “But it’s an amazing coincidence, isn’t it? This morning, Billy delivered a message from Aniela telling me Kanin is back and nothing else, so I’m worrying about him. Is he all right? Could Mitch possibly be involved? And it comes to me – I need to talk to Sam. And then Joe sends me to Queens to interview a witness. To the 105, just a few blocks from Maryfields.” His ministrations slowed. She risked a peek in the small mirror above the dressing table. Wearing his listening-frown, he smoothed a section of her hair through his fingers. Coming back to me, she noted. And he tells me to take a long lunch,” she went on. “So if it weren’t for the threat of Mitch ...” And a dozen stars aligning. “... I’d never have found Martin there. I’d never have discovered old Father Seamus was friends with Sam now ... “ She paused – dramatically, she believed. “Or that he was once friends with Noah’s grandfather.”

“I know.”

Damn it! I can’t believe– But she interrupted herself. Of course I can.

What?” Though she didn’t exactly wail, in the mirror’s reflection, she saw him blink at her tone, one carefully pitched between playful and peeved. Joe she might have called a smarty-pants, a know-it-all – or worse – but Vincent ... her teasing bewildered him, regardless of their bond. More than once while he considered his response, she’d had to take pity on him, take his arm and laugh. “You knew already?” She let a grin just touch her lips and he blinked again.

“We were devising a plan to spare the churchyard entry” he explained. “Noah remembered the place; once, as a boy, he’d gone up with Leo. And since Martin told me Seamus spoke of landmarks below, wonders he could have discovered only with a guide ...” His mouth quirked at one corner when she huffed at him and scowled. “But please, go on with your story.”

“I suppose I can skip the dramatic lead-in I rehearsed,” she grumped. “Get to the part you don’t know.”

“If such a part exists,” he said, tugging at the lock of hair still in his hand.

“Well, Sam knew him as Leo, but Seamus called him Lev. He was a little confused, but it was obvious – to us, anyway – Seamus knew the secret of Below. When he retired, he left a box of treasures behind in the rectory and for some reason Martin brought it on his visit. Sister Norberta called it a hobo’s box; a cigar box layered with wood, all carved and notched. We went through it, Sam and I. There were two silver kiddush cups inside, a tiny chess set Sam recognized. I think Leo must have come up regularly to visit.” She shifted in her chair, rooting for the robe’s slash pocket. “There was this too. Look.” She opened her hand to the angle scope. “Sam told me the story, about Leo’s gifts, about you and the other boys in the maze with these. About Father’s ... ummm ...”

“Snit?” Vincent chuckled and reached over her shoulder for the toy, putting it briefly to his eye. “Leo. Sunday night, sitting with Martin in the ambulatory, I had the strongest memory of him. Out of nowhere, I believed.” His hand closed over the scope. “Leo decorated boxes as gifts. Kanin has Levon’s. Father has one as well, stuffed with postcards from those moved on from the tunnels. Mary’s is latched and locked on her dresser. As children we were instructed never to touch it, but there’s a spot worn on its lid where I believe she must rub it with her thumb every day.” He came around the chair and, facing her, leaned against the dressing table’s edge. “What else did you find?”

“A blue glass cup. Something that looked like a pocket watch, but wasn’t.”

“A pedometer,” Vincent guessed. “Leo carried one everywhere. Father thought it held a significance beyond its purpose. A relic from his life before.” His eyes glimmered with memory. “Was there a note? Any explanation for Seamus having Leo’s things?”

“Sam’s nurse came for him and we had to close up. But later Martin told me about the keys. There’d been five of them in the box, and over the years, he’d removed one lock after the other. From the dormitory rooms in the churchyard, the little closet across the archway. The remaining one, he used to unlock a door from the wall into the rectory. Yesterday.”

“I saw it last night, the entry into a forgotten sacristy.”

“He’d told Martin to guard the doorways and wait. He’s been waiting for you, Vincent.”

He held her gaze. “Not for me alone, Catherine, but for us. All of us.”

“It’s symbolic, you mean?”

“I think so. When you first met Eimear, you told me then ... the connection between you was powerful. And since ...”

“Since and before, Vincent. Rosie and you and the moon.”

He released a breath. “Yes.”

“Leo and Seamus,” she mused. “Seamus and Martin. Seamus and Sam.”

“Stuart and Wren,” he added. “Their finding of each other, their immediacy. Wren’s friendship, her work, with Eimear – the chance of that.”

“Joe taking me along on Flynn’s case ... it was just an inquiry, more ... a finalization. He could have given the job to anyone in the office. Joe didn’t need me; I’m still surprised he was involved.”

 “Are you?”  

A vision materialized in her mind’s eye. The night of the ceilidh. Joe, in the twilight garden with Rosie, handing over perhaps far more than his watch. “Vincent,” she whispered. “When did all this start?” And what’s to come?

“This magic? Martin speaks of soul mates, of soul families seeking to dwell again as one. What seems like coincidence is our inevitable reunion. When we began is not the question. Simply, we began. We began as one energy, were separated, and ... this ... is our deliberate journey home. We require each other. Perhaps we’re ready, finally ready. All of us.”

As if she stood near, Catherine felt Eimear’s steadfastness, her longing, her adamant concern. The dreams I’ve dared to dream.3 “And Flynn?” she ventured.

“All of us and Flynn,” he promised.

“Why now, do you think?” she whispered into the settled quiet. “It’s all happening so fast.”

“Or so very slowly.”

They shared a smile. Too much to take in all at once, the subject would be explored together at the precipice of the falls, on long walks in the park for months to come, on their pillows. “But,” she persisted, “there must have been some trigger, a key moment–” 

“The magnet that fired, drawing us all from our separate worlds at last through a single door? I know the answer, Catherine. The moment that changed everything. Everything. When I found you.”

Back in their room, she unpacked her workday clothes, snapped her black slacks from the tight roll she’d made of them. The crease was still sharp, the cuffs unwrinkled. Her jacquard blouse hadn’t fared as well; it’s stand-up collar did anything but. After who knew how many hours with Eimear in an unairconditioned station house, after any number of interviews, after turning page after grubby page of mug shot photos, it would hardly matter how pressed she began her day. Depending on the time they returned up top, she could, she supposed, ask Eimear for an iron. At any rate, though she’d worn it last week and it might be a little limp, a moss-green blazer was folded on the back seat her car.

Her car parked in Eimear’s driveway. They should hurry. Best to be home when Flynn arrived, rather than have him worry over their whereabouts or, should he see them emerge from the wall, have to explain where they’d slept overnight. Two revelations ...  Not today.

Hurry. She put her arms through the long sleeves, turned her back to his buttoning. How had she ever managed this blouse without his help? His sad expression mirrored hers, she noted as she fussed with the cuffs, the drape of the darts.

It was hard, so hard to leave him. Again and again he’d smoothed the comb through her hair, crown to tip in one long, slow motion. She’d sighed with each stroke, wishing the end of their separation. He’d assured her his return home was moved forward, but even a single night more ...

“Catherine ...”

She looked up, meeting his reflected gaze. Had he sensed her melancholy? Mentally, she chastised herself for burdening him, chastised herself again when she could not master her longing.

“Devin once described what it was like to ride a roller coaster,” he said. “Your yesterday was that.”

Hers was a doleful chuckle. “A ride in the park?”

“Hardly.” He freed her hair from the tall collar. “Anticipation and joy, a plunge into despair. I knew you were coming to me. I felt your need. But you’ve held back, put me first, our world’s concerns. Eimear’s. Something else weighs on your heart, Catherine.”

“How do you always know?”

He led her from the bedchamber to the anteroom, drew a hassock close to the chair she   sank to, but it was as if he scooped her up, rocked her in his arms.

“Tell me.”

a close-up of Vincent, looking intently at Catherine
About Phan, his courage to testify, Vincent knew; about the fire, he did not. Its casualties, the horrific possibilities of who had been killed ... she relayed all – how Joe took the news, how responsible they felt, how frustrated. And then the second blow – Mr. Haas. Beaten first unconscious, now to death. His daughter furious, with every right to be. His little dog left without a companion. The detectives thwarted and depressed. Her suspicions and Joe’s, unprovable. Nothing in their notes overlooked, nothing to reinterpret. In either case, justice unlikely. So very unlikely.

He listened without comment until she was spent of words, both her hands in his, rested on her knees. Now he pulled away to tend the tears on her cheeks, to cradle her face. When he repeated her earlier affirmation, it was without mockery, without irony. “This is ... terrible, Catherine. But it is not your fault. Nor is it Joe’s. I wish ...” He hesitated without looking away. “I would assure him of that if I could. I know him ... through you. He’s a good man.”

“He is.” She found a smile and he sat back. “He’s seeing Rosie. I’ve never seen him so ... taken.” Maybe. One day, perhaps, through Rosie ... The possibilities were distant and vague, but they did have shape; they did have color and density.

“I’m glad.”

And then he said nothing more, was simply ... quiet.

An inevitability. It was clear to her now. In the days, the months past, she might have assumed she’d need a deep breath to begin, a careful vocabulary, but then ... she’d expected to be sadder, more downhearted. She’d been angry – and for too long she’d denied that anger, was angry still. Don’t be too hard on her, Stephen had suggested. Vincent, too, had urged her compassion. Jenny had been simply careless; she’d intended no harm. But she’d known the truth – her history with Stephen, his obsessions, his manipulations. How could Jenny, of all people, be so easily swayed by his insistence, just ... hold the door open for him. I’d be dead, if not for Vincent who had to perceive, while Jenny knew! And since. Since! After a few paragraphs of discussion, the subject was closed. Forgotten, dismissed. It hardly mattered which.


“What happened, Cathy?”

The tenderness caused by Stephen’s blow had forced a simple hairstyle and tylenol with her coffee, but she’d returned to work Monday morning – though with scratches and bruises that wouldn’t be covered up. Joe’s face darkened as she told him almost the whole truth. His fists opened and closed, opened and closed. She sensed he half wanted to grab her up, half wanted to go after Stephen himself.

“If he wasn’t in the hospital already,” he growled, “I’d put him there.” He thunked into his chair, planted his elbows on his desk, laced his fingers. “What are you doing here?”

“What do you mean?”

“Take the day off, Cathy.”


“Look, I don’t think I can concentrate, thinking how close you came ... I sure don’t see how you can.” He plucked up his rubber band, dropped it again.

“I’m fine. I’ll be at my desk if you need me.” She started away, looked back. The mottled red of his face had paled to a color just as concerning. “I’m fine,” she repeated. “Thanks for caring.”

He snorted. “Yeah. You’re welcome.” He waved her away.

She’d not made it to the coffee machine before he called her back. “I’ve got a slice of torta di mandorle in the top drawer of my file cabinet. I’ll share.” He stuck his hands in his pockets, grinned boyishly. “From Veniero’s.”

Cathy talking to Joe at their office. She has obvious bruises on her face
“Tempting,” she replied. “But I’d better not.” The torte was a favorite, and Stephen had known that, remembered. The ride to New Rochelle was scented almond, vanilla and apricot, a box from that very bakery on the back seat. He’d expected Sunday breakfast with her, imagined a lifetime of breakfasts together – or the remainder of hers, however short.

“At least let me take you to lunch.”

“I’m meeting Jenny,” she said, opening the urn’s spigot for her fourth cup of the day. She’d have the jitters for sure. “Rain check?”

She’d suggested the Dumpling House on Lafayette. Ten minutes early, she waited for Jenny under the green and white striped awning, peering now and then between the neon sign – a cup of steaming noodles – and the illustrated menu taped to the window. A bad choice. Always crowded, tables necessarily shared with strangers, they’d be unable to talk. Perhaps she’d subconsciously wanted that excuse.

She could tell Jenny only what she’d reported to the police, the hospital’s psychiatric emergency services, leaving out the most anguishing part of the story.  But even without relaying the consequence to Vincent, there was a sticking point between them. One she feared Jenny couldn’t see. Face your fear, she told herself. They had to talk this through as far as they could. Maybe the breach opening between them could be healed. Maybe she could just ... get over it. What had happened with Stephen was her own fault, her doing. She pushed through the door to the order line for takeout instead, later handing Jenny a carry-bag with their favorite ginger chicken soup inside, a order of scallion pancakes to share.

They’d walked the few blocks to a table in Columbus Park, Jenny shaking her head, repeating “I’m so glad you’re okay” whenever she paused in her story to take a breath. 
If only, she’d inwardly sorrowed. If only Jenny would say, Cathy – Forgive me. I should have refused to help him out. I should have warned you he was looking for you, not just ... alerted you. If I’d kept quiet, none of this might have happened. I promise never–

But Jenny said none of those things. And after all, Jenny had apologized already. “I gave him your home number and I realized about a second after, I probably shouldn’t have.” 

“I’m so glad you’re all right, Cathy,” Jenny said once more. “What’s going to happen to Stephen?”

“I don’t know. They wouldn’t let me see him.”

“Why would you want to?” Jenny asked, her brows knitting. “It’s over.”

It wasn’t over. It might never be. What happened, what Stephen knows, what he might say threatens everything, haunts us, will lay like wedge between Vincent and me. And between us, too, Jenny. This hurt I can’t fully explain without disclosing ... This necessity. This love.

“You got an invitation to Beth’s party, didn’t you?” Jenny went on, prying off the lid of her soup container. “Want to drive out together?”

A cold,cold stone, the great weight of all she couldn’t share settled in her stomach. She would talk of this – her own culpability, her guilt ... her anger – with no one. To be fair, she hid it from Jenny, hid it so well she could hardly fault her for not noticing.

She felt like weeping. Where would they go from here?


A long parting, indeed.4 When she told Jenny that night, I’m not going to be alone, she’d intuitively hurried them to this division. They could not go on like this – she withholding, Jenny recognizing her hesitation. Her reticence becoming more and more a judgement. No friendship could withstand it. Jenny had every right to demand the truth.

And when the moment of interview arrived5

Instinct. The immediate reaction – to protect. It couldn’t be taught. Reason didn’t factor in. It wasn’t a choice. Trust is everything. She didn’t have it.

Funny, she thought now. Admitting her anger, owning it, made her less so. A sweet memory surfaced – her father at her bedside in the hospital, one of the long days and nights after her return above. There will come a time when you believe everything is finished, he’d told her, pressing her palm to his rarely-stubbled cheek. That will be the beginning. They’d come to an end, she and Jenny. A bearable one, necessary, if they were to have any kind of future.

“I saw Jenny today,” she said, and for a moment, he studied the hammered brass nail heads trimming the footstool he occupied. “She’s getting married.”


“To Ned, he’s ... new. I met him just last week, but he seems ... familiar.”

“How so?”

“I can’t put my finger on it. Something in his eyes, his smile maybe. A mannerism.”

“She’s in love?”

“I think so. She’s very ... happy.”

“Is she?”

Vincent looking off to the side, head bowed, looking very pensive
She sighed. His voice was so soft. “Jenny’s known for her ... enthusiasms ... and their casting off. But I’ve never seen her so–” She tucked her hair behind her ear. His true question begged answer. “She insisted we come to her wedding. In Charleston. In August – or September or October. A date of our choosing.”

“And a lie regarding my ... availability ... will no longer do.” He frowned. “What did you say?”

Lie. The word made her wince. The truth of him was exquisite. “I told her I’d come alone, but that didn’t fly. She doesn’t understand, but she knows it’s something about her.”

His frown deepened. She expected him to rise and pace the room, to find a shadowed niche, fold his arms across his chest. And she would have followed, would have allowed no parting. Instead, from his seat at her knees, he braced his hands on the hassock. Waited. Listened.

I can’t tell her, Vincent. If she wouldn’t instinctively protect me, how can I trust her to protect you?”

“You had to choose.”

“It wasn’t a choice.”

“But it is because of me.”

Close-up of Cathy looking up lovingly at VincentI never want to hear that from you again, she sputtered inwardly. As tiresome as evasion and deflection, the constant feint and dodge were in her world above, it was more disheartening to have him imagine their love a burden. Now? After ... all this? A passion blazed; she let it fully show, leaning in close, his knee so in the vise of her grip that he flinched. “Yes.Yes! It is because of you. Because of my life with you. The life I love. A choice is something you make between two equally worthy possibilities. This wasn’t a choice,” she repeated. “It was time.”

Gently, he disengaged her fastened fingers, pressed a kiss to her palm. “You’re relieved. Is it a terrible relief?”

For once he seemed to need to hear her words. “I’m sad, but yes, I’m relieved. And it’s strange, but I feel more hopeful now – about Jenny – than I ever have before. Not any time soon, but eventually she’ll understand how important– That I was willing to walk away. That there was something so big ... I had to close this door, but that doesn’t mean another won’t open someday.”

“You’ve struggled, Catherine. With your love for Jenny. And your doubt.”

“I have.”

“With Eimear, you had none.”

He didn’t question. His trust was a precious thing. “It feels like a dozen doors have opened all at once,” she said. “That anything is possible.”

“For us,” he confirmed.

Click HERE for Chapter 57


1. David Whyte. Millennium. 1992.
2. Li Ching Chao. A Morning Dream.
3. E. Y. Harburg. Over the Rainbow. Lyrics. 1939.
4. Emily Dickinson. 'Twas a long Parting - but the time For Interview had Come.
5. Ibid.


Krista said...

Oh, Carole. I had a feeling you'd be posting today...I'm so happy to find I was right.

There's so much in this chapter I wish I could hug---Vincent needing his solitude, but not insisting Catherine leave him ; the interwining of all the paths and journeys; Catherine's relief, honest and painful, for leaving Jenny behind, recognizing their paths have to be separate...for now.

Every time I read one of your chapters, I gasp a little when it's over---though I know it must. I hope you don't mind, but I'm kind of happy you'll be writing through the summer too. :)

Great job, again and still.


Anonymous said...

Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhh! This is like the most delectable fruit after a long fast! So many moments to love and savor!

THIS: “The magnet that fired, drawing us all from our separate worlds at last through a single door? I know the answer, Catherine. The moment that changed everything. Everything. When I found you.” SUBLIME!

And then the painful talk about Jenny and the BEAUTIFUL way Catherine turned Vincent's self-recrimination around, taking it from "This is because of me," to "This is because of US," and showing him that there was no CHOICE involved. That CHOICE can only happen between two things of equal value, and that even her long, deep friendship with Jenny cannot remotely compare to their love and commitment to one another and to their life together Below. INCANDESCENT!

Ooooh, but I want to be a fly on the wall when Father learns about not just Eimear, but an entire GROUP of new people who will shortly become part of Vincent and Catherine's extended family. The INEVITABILITY of it. I think once Father recovers from the sheer audacity of it, he will find a marvelous new friend in Martin. Won't they have fabulous conversations and debates!?!?! And then add Peter to the mix!!

MORE, MORE, MORE, said the ravenous, greedy child!

Regards, Lindariel

Anonymous said...

I LOVE the whole thing about gravity. I can just see them cuddled up together talking like this.

The comfortability (is that a real word?) between Catherine and Vincent is WONDERFUL. How they go from serious (If he is, it's a terrible relief) to goofing around (If such a part exists). Even Catherine is urbane (A ride in the park?) Their conversations ring so true. I feel like was THERE.

I melted at the part where Vincent is buttoning up Catherine's blouse. I would love to see that happen.

From lurking through all your other stories and so many chapters of this story, I'm a chatty-cathy now. I will stop and say thank you for another great segment of this story. Vincent has learned a lot of lessons, but so has Catherine. I am already looking forward to the next chapter.


Carole W said...

Thank you, Krista! I'm so glad you enjoyed the chapter. You do my heart good. I'm grateful for your encouragement.

Catherine's diverging from Jenny is painful, but she's seen it coming. TS Eliot said “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” I have ideas about Jenny and Catherine's future friendship, but it won't be a slam dunk. Too much is at stake.

LOL, let's hope through the summer is enough. This story needs ending ... eventually!

Thank you so much for reading and sticking with me for so long.


Carole W said...

Hey, Lindariel! I want to be with you when Father hears the news. I'm sure he'll have a ballistic moment or two - but maybe he's learning a few new things too. He can't help but be affected by the same magnet. It's that strong. I just hope when he and Martin meet it's not Star Trek matter/anti-matter! Things could get tense.

Thank you for liking those particular paragraphs. That makes me happy. That makes me feel like writing harder.

I'm about halfway into the next chapter. Things feel a little looser 'in there' so maybe I'll be speeding up some. I'd sure like to.

Thank you so much. It means a lot to me that you're reading.


Carole W said...

Hi, Annabella. Comfortability seems like it should be a word - if it's not already! Thank you for finding that growing ease between C and V. I was hoping it would show through.

I've always wondered how people wear back-buttoned things, and Catherine wore several such outfits. Now if I had Vincent to do me up, I'd be shopping specifically for those things. Wouldn't we all? ;-)

I'm very glad you decided to de-lurk. Thank you so much for your encouragement.


Brenda K said...

Oh Carole,

The barometer of Vincent's eyes - azure joy, cornflower serenity, cobalt seduction -- windows to his soul in monochromatic study. Steel determination? Midnight stormy? Sapphire laughter? Electric intensity?

This is such a story of connections, of circles, of weavings and mirror-moments of changed meaning. Vincent combing out Catherine's wet hair -- Marriage Morning's obverse longing, now a morning ritual of comfortable familiarity. What grows between them is a sense of the worth and value of each to the other, of what both are together. The desperation yielding to assurance, the guilt of perceived selfishness discarded at last as Vincent listens to Catherine's necessary choices to navigate life Above. A calm acceptance of the lie and its need, no obscuring curtain of hair as he hangs his head over the loss of Catherine's imagined possibilities. Finally.

And Jenny -- when Cathy the debutante skimmed the surface of life, Jenny was a friend of depth and loyalty. But the depth of Catherine's life and values now leaves Jenny falling short of Kipling's Thousandth Man standard. A friendship, yes - but not a bond of sisterhood. To feel and need deeply tests our friendships straitly. Few meet that measure - but ah!, when you find one....

Krista said...

Something just occurred to me regarding Catherine and Jenny--- a line from a song called "Closing Time" (I think it's by Green Day but I can't swear to it.) The line goes something like this: "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." Catherine and Jenny may find their way back to the friendship they had before...but as you say, it's not going to be a slam dunk. I'd suspect it will be bloody painful, in fact. But necessary. They truly couldn't go any further. Not now.

I also forgot to tell you how much I loved the back-button blouse scene. Mmmm, that's a visual....:)


Krista :)

Carole W said...

Brenda, how kind you are. I found your comment in the middle of the night when I woke up, unable to go back to sleep, lying there worrying over stuff. One worry is always the writing. Can I do a decent job of this. Have I meandered beyond reason. Can I pull all these threads together? What was I thinking??? Your encouragement made those anxieties feel less threatening.

I'm glad you found those mirror-moments of changed meaning (I wish I'd said that! Love that turn of phrase). I hoped they would shine through. Thank you for remembering the earlier stories and bringing the connections along. Some steps might seem small but they have exponential import. They might not earth-shudder, but still and after, so much is changed.

About Jenny - and Vincent. His continued angst and despairing over Catherine's perceived choices would eventually poison their relationship. He has to believe her. Has to. Is he faking it till he makes it? Or has he turned a true corner? :-) Either way, it's progress.

I love your image of the Thousandth Man! Eimear will be - is - that.

Thank you again and always for your supportive comments. It matters beyond mattering to know you're reading. I'm glad we're getting to know each other.


Carole W said...

Thank you, Krista, for understanding so well the Jenny-problem. Canon tells us Catherine and Jenny had periods of distance. Not estrangement, as this will be, but they obviously waxed and waned. The path back, if one is possible, should be interesting. But in real life, sometimes you have to let people you love go. Even if it's right, it's hard. The muse is noodling the rest of that story, but I've made her keep it to herself mostly for now.

I don't know the Green Day song, but the sentiment is right on.

The back buttoning. :-) I'm glad you liked it.

I found your comment in the night when I woke up anxious too. Thanks for perking my spirits.


RomanticOne said...

Wow, was this particular chapter ever worth the wait! There's just so much to ooh and aah over.

The vision of Vincent doing up Catherine's blouse is just so sweet.

But then there's the heat..."Over the path of her, he took notice. Here, he seemed to say, and here. Here you are beautiful. Here you are mine." Now that's a vision.

I loved the way you tightened the weave of characters as souls requiring each other, finally being drawn together by the magnet of Vincent finding Catherine.

As for the way Catherine's friendship with Jenny ended, I believe some endings have to be dramatic in order to be recognized as necessary. Then we can truly let go and start anew.

I think this is one of your best chapters yet. Can't wait to see more!

OKGoode said...

Finishing reading this, it's as if I've just eaten creme brulee - breaking through the crunchy shell is Jenny and Catherine's estrangement; Vincent combing her hair and buttoning those back buttons is the creamy rich center; and anticipating Cathy finally having someone on her side of the river is that luscious afterglow.

Damn, Carole, but you do know how to cook!

Carole W said...

Oh, R-1! You are good for my spirits! Thank you for your support and encouragement.

And thank you for noticing the small moments of heat. V and C together … they're so special. I want only to give them believable tender moments. I'm so glad you liked these.

One of the things I worry about in the night is the finish of this story. I feel better now with you saying this chapter hadn't fizzled or paled compared to those before. I'm really grateful to hear that.

I'm busy on the next chapter. I've a couple intervening real life things coming up, but I'm feeling pretty good about keeping the story rolling without longer than usual gaps between the chapters. Thanks always for your patience.


Carole W said...

LOL, Laura - now I'm really hungry! I love creme brulee like nobody's business. Can we go out for some?? Please???

You're good to me. Thank you for making me smile and relax a little and for making me want to work even harder at the same time.


Vicky said...

Perhaps he believed her... Yes! Perhaps he did. But I sense is something weighing so heavy... or it may be just me overanalysing stuff!
Ah, the hair brushing...
As you know too well, to me it is as simple as Catherine's statement, one I shall be using from now on as a full but shorthand explanation of my own feelings about Jenny: “I can’t tell her, Vincent. If she wouldn’t instinctively protect me, how can I trust her to protect you?” That's it, that's all; thank you!
I can't wait to continue the journey, Carole, so off I go!