The Gift
by Lori Ely (Brown)

     "Hi Cath. How've you been?  You look great!  That job of 
yours really does agree with you, or maybe it's the boss," she
     "Right Jen.  Things are ok.  You know, the same old same
old.  Let's order lunch and then we'll start talking.  I'm
starved.  I want the biggest salad I can get my hands on.  "How
about you?"    
     "That sounds great. I've been running late all day and
didn't even have time for breakfast."
     While waiting for the waiter, they talked about minor
things; office gossip, who is leaving whom and other things. 
Soon Catherine began to get impatient.   
     "I'm getting really tired of being ignored Jen.  We have
been sitting here for 20 minutes.  If a waiter doesn't come soon
I'm going to do something drastic!  I have never had to wait more
than a few minutes to get a waiter here before."  Trying to flag
down a waiter, they are ignored again.
     "That's it Jen, here goes nothing," she grinned!
     Suddenly a scream pierced the air, "Oh my god! A bug!"
     Jenny and Cathy are soon surrounded by every waiter in the
     "Is there a problem madame?"  The head waiter asked.
     Soft as sugar, Cathy answered, "No waiter, there is no
problem.  We are ready to order now.  I'll have a chef's salad
with ranch dressing on the side.  A large iced tea with sugar and
lemon and a glass of ice water.  What will you have Jen?"   
     Jenny stumbles over her order of the same things as she
tries to keep from laughing.  As soon as the waiter is gone, both
broke into gales of laughter.
     "Cathy, you're terrible.  How on earth did you come up with
that one?  What are we going to say when he brings our food?"  
     "Number one Jen, I have a very good sense of humor, as you
should well know. I just don't get the chance to use it all that
often.  And number two, never, never explain yourself when you
don't absolutely have to."   
     "Now then, tell me everything.  I haven't seen you in so
long.  Who are you seeing?  How is the publishing business?"  
     "Oh no you don't!  You know darned well that I invited you
here for a reason.  I know that something is up with you.  I can
feel it.  You are happier than  you have ever been.  You are
holding out on me, Cath!  It's time for the truth.  You are
finally at peace with yourself.  What happened?"
     Before answering Jenny, Catherine let the waiter serve the
food, totally ignoring the glare that he gave them.
     For a couple of bites she was silent, trying to think just
what to tell Jenny.  Jenny was linked to her almost as much as
Vincent was.  Catherine knew that Jenny could feel these things
through her link.  "How much detail should I go into?" Catherine
thought to herself.   
     "Cathy, It's all right.  Whatever it is, I'll understand."   
     Startled, Catherine looked up.  Jen did it again, she almost
read my thoughts.  "I know that, Jen. It's just that I made a
promise and I don't want to break it."   
     "I'm not asking you to break it. How about if I tell you
what I think it is and than you tell me if I'm right.  It's a
man.  I can feel that you are very much in love but there are a
lot of problems.  There is something wrong with this man.  There
is some reason why the two of you can't be together.  Well, how
close am I?"       
     "You are very close, Jen, but I can't say anymore.  That
would be breaking the promise and I won't do that.  Let's just
finish lunch and talk about something else."  
     "Ok Cathy, I won't push.  But we aren't finished yet.  So,
tell me, how is Joe doing?  Is he still cute as ever?"   
     Now that the talk had turned to other things, Catherine
could relax and enjoy the rest of her visit with Jenny.  All too
soon it was time for them both to get back to work.  Making plans
to call later, the girls go to their separate offices to get on
with their day.

                      * * * * * *

     Back at the D.A.'s office, Catherine couldn't help but think
about how close Jenny had come to the truth.  Jen had always been
right on with those intuitions of hers.  "If only I had
understood them a little better, the problem  with "The Watcher"
might never have happened!"  Would Jenny understand about
Vincent?  Would she be able to see past his face to the beauty
underneath?  So many questions.  So much confusion.  Today of all
days when I have to  be especially clear.  The Alphonso
depositions are today and nothing must mess this  case up."
Startled by a soft cough, Catherine came out of her daze and
looked up to see Joe standing over her.  
     "Hey Radcliffe, weren't you supposed to be somewhere now?"
He gently prodded.  
     "The depositions!  Oh nuts!"  Grabbing the files Catherine
flew out of the office to the interrogation rooms.

                        * * * * * * 

     Walking back to  her desk after the depositions are
finished, Catherine is smiling.  Thinking of Vincent had put a
huge smile on her face.  Thinking of the times that they had
shared, she is filled with a great feeling of love.  Not wanting
to feel it alone, she projects it all down to Vincent.            

                        * * * * * * 

     Sitting alone in her office, Jenny knew that what she told
Cathy today was right.  There was definitely someone very
important in her life.  Someone without whom Cathy wouldn't be
able to live.  Yet something was keeping them apart.  Something
about him.  She couldn't quite get a name to put to him but she
did know some things about him.  First, Cathy loved him.  He was
strong, solid, compassionate, tender, and loving.  Cathy felt all
these things about him very strongly.  She was feeling them about
. . . about.  His eyes, he has the most beautiful blue eyes I've
ever seen.  Now where did that come from? I wish I could make
Cathy understand that it's going to be all right. Somehow they
end up together.  I can feel it, and they will be very happy.
      Twice Jenny almost picks up the phone to call Cathy, but
stops.  When the time is  right, Cathy will explain.  I guess
I'll just have to be patient.                           

                          * * * * * *

     Glancing at the clock, Catherine swore softly.  "Damn, I'm
going to be late again.  I'll never be able to live this one
down.  I have to find a way to stop being late all the time.
Vincent is never late, no matter what.  Oh well, there's no sense
in arguing with myself. That will only make me later.  I'll just
have to hurry."  Heading out the door and toward the elevator,
there is a bounce to Catherine's step that the whole world can
see is  love.  Riding the elevator to the basement and her
entrance to the tunnels, Catherine can't  help but smile when she
thinks  of Vincent. He is everything that she has ever needed. 
He gives his love freely and is always there for her.  Wistfully,
she wishes that he would allow her to give of herself in the same
way.  To be there for him whenever he needed it.  That's the
problem though.  With Vincent thinking that she would be stifled,
there is no way that she would get to give of herself that way. 
Oh, if only he could see that what I want the most is to be with
him always.  To be with him as his wife!      
     Jumping down the final step into the tunnels, Catherine
turns around to see Vincent.  The sight of him is enough to take 
her breath away and it never changes no matter how often she sees
     "I'm here Vincent.  I couldn't wait to get here to see you." 
     "Yes, I know.  I could feel your impatience.  You are late
however," he gently teases. " Come shall we go?"
     "I know I'm late.  I need to find a better system.  Where
are we going tonight?"       
     "I thought that we could just talk in my chamber, if that is
all right with you.  I can feel that you have a lot on your mind
     "That will be fine.  I do need to talk to you."       
     They walk hand in hand silently thorough the tunnels until
they reach Vincent's chamber.  Both pick their favorite spots and
are soon comfortable.  Vincent is curled up on his bed and
Catherine is sprawled in Vincent's chair with her legs hanging
over one arm.
     "Catherine, what is bothering you so tonight?"       
     "I saw Jenny for lunch today.  It was great seeing her. It's
just that I keep forgetting that she is somewhat telepathic.
Especially, it seems,  where I am concerned.  We have always been
friends, and Jenny has always seemed to know all there is to know 
about me though nobody had to tell her a thing.  I had forgotten
about this and today at lunch she asked some pretty unsettling
questions.  She is quite close to knowing about you, Vincent. 
What should I do?"      
     "I could feel your unrest today.  I could also feel that 
you trust Jenny completely.  Do you think that she would
understand?  Would she understand our love and our bond?"
     "I know that she would understand about the bond, she has
dealt with something like that all her life.  Jen can already
feel that I am deeply in love with someone very special.  She
doesn't know why we can't be together, just that we can't.  She
doesn't understand why we can't find a way to be together.   I
know that I can trust her with all of this.  Jenny would never
betray our secret.  I promised you that I would never tell anyone
about you and I never have, but Jenny is so very close to knowing
about you through the link that we share.  I don't want her
jumping to conclusions.  I guess I am asking you if I can tell
Jenny about us."
     "You know that I trust you Catherine.  If you feel that
Jenny can be trusted, than she can.  Maybe it is time for you to
have someone to be able to confide in.  The burden of keeping our
relationship a secret is a terrible one for you.  Being able to
talk to Jenny will help.  Tell her."
     "Thank you Vincent.  I'll call her tomorrow.  I'll just tell
her the basics."
     "Somehow  Catherine, I don't think that will be enough. 
Jenny is going to want to know all about me, just as your father
would have, and for all the same reasons.  She doesn't want you
getting hurt."
     "Vincent, you would never hurt me!"     
     "You know that Catherine, but she doesn't.  Jenny was your
friend while you were involved with Stephen, wasn't she?  She
still couldn't protect you from getting hurt.  She doesn't know
me, and until she does get to know me, she is going to be very
cautious.  Just take it one step at a time and let your heart
guide you."
      Sensing the need for a subject change, Vincent picks up a
book and begins to read softly to Catherine.  As they fall into a
now familiar routine, both can relax and settle in for an
enjoyable night together.                             

                       * * * * * *

     At work the next day, Catherine can barely concentrate and
it's was becoming noticeable.
     ".... Talk to the precinct about .... Earth calling
Radcliffe, come in Radcliffe.  Hey Cathy, anybody home?"  Asked
an amused Joe.
     "What did you say Joe?"
     "Boy, I've heard about being out in left field but you 
weren't even in the ballpark.  Where were you Cathy?"    
     "I'm sorry Joe, I've got something on my mind.  What can
 I do for you?"      
     "Nothing now.  Look you have been working pretty hard on 
the Alphonso case.  Why don't you knock off early and go talk to

     "What makes you think there is a him?  You know that I 
don't see anyone."
     "Well, I know that you don't let us see you going out with
anyone.  I, however, know that look.  If that's not love, than
it's probably  the worst case of office-itis that I have ever
seen.  In either case you don't belong here, so go.  Don't make
me argue with you anymore.  I just might change my mind."
     "Thanks Joe, I really owe you one,"  Catherine replies as
she quickly gathers her things.  She stops just long enough to
give Joe a quick hug as she leaves.  "Don't forget to invite me
to the wedding," Joe sighs as she walks past.  
     "Boy, now wouldn't that be a wedding he would remember?"
thought Catherine to herself as she walked out the door.
                       * * * * * *

     Finally reaching home, after what seemed like an eternity,
the first thing Catherine did was to call Jenny.  Reaching only
her machine Catherine swore aloud, "Damn. Jenny where are you?  I
finally have something to say to you and you aren't home.  Oh
well, I'll try later."      
     Needing to kill some time,  Catherine started puttering
around her apartment.  Somehow just the ordinary routine of 
dusting was very relaxing tonight.  Moving last night's
newspaper, Catherine found a volume poetry by William
Shakespeare.  This was one of Vincent's favorite books.  Leafing
through the pages, she thought back to the first day that she met
Vincent.  Suddenly it's there.  All the joy and the wonder.  All
over again.  How kind Vincent had been to her when she had been
hurt so badly.  How afraid he was that his appearance would
frighten her.  If only he could see how truly beautiful he was.  
     The ringing of the phone brings Catherine back to the 
     "Hi, Jen.  How are you?  Did you get my message?"  
     "No Cath. What message?  I'm still at work and I got the
strongest feeling that I should call.  Are you all right?"
     "Sure Jen, everything's fine.  I just want to talk to you. 
Can you come over tonight?"       
     "Sure I'll come, but you're springing for the pizza this 
time.  What's this all about?  Am I finally going to get to find
out about your mystery man?"
     "I'll explain everything when you get here.  Do you want
mushroom or pepperoni?"   
     "Surprise me.  I'm on my way.  I can't wait to find out what
the big secret is.  See you in about 45 minutes.  Bye."
     After hanging up the phone, Catherine takes a quick look  
in the kitchen.  Finding the cabinets and the fridge bare, she
decides to run out to the store for some groceries.  It promised
to be a very long and interesting night.     
     Catherine and Jenny both reach the lobby of Catherine's
apartment building at the same time.  Catherine is loaded down
with groceries and pizza.  Jenny takes half as they head up to
the apartment.  Jenny is just about to burst with curiosity.    
     Before Jenny can say anything, Catherine said, beating her
to the punch, "Don't say a word Jen. Wait until we get inside.  I
know that you are about to burst but hold it in a little while
     Finally, they are in and all settled down with the pizza 
and a glass of wine each.  Jenny could contain herself no longer. 
"All right Chandler, out with it.  I know that you are in love
and have been hiding it from everyone.  I know that there must be
a very good reason why you aren't with him.  I want to hear
everything. Start!"    
     Laughing, Catherine began, " It all started with my attack. 
Vincent is the one who found me.  He found me and took me to the
most magical and secret place that you could ever imagine.  It is
a world unlike any other world. Hidden in a place the no one
would ever think to look.  Vincent saved my life and took care of
me.  He read to me when I couldn't see because of the bandages on
my face.  He fed me and was there to comfort me.  When I finally
couldn't stand it anymore, I took the bandages off myself.  I had
to find out where we were.  I had to see the face behind the
voice that I had come to call a friend."      
     "Vincent wasn't in the room when I took off the bandages. 
At first I couldn't find anything to use as a mirror so I used my
hands.  What I felt on my face was horrible.  There were stitches
everywhere.  I had to see what it looked like.  There were no
mirrors, but I found a reflector dish from a headlight and used
that.  I was horrified.  I looked like Frankenstein.  And then I
saw his face in the hubcap too.  I was startled, I had thought
that I was alone, and threw the hubcap at him and screamed.  
     Vincent thought that I had been frightened by his looks and
he left.  Honestly Jenny, I wasn't frightened. I was so caught up
in  how bad I looked that he startled me.  I wasn't expecting
anyone else to be there."
     "I didn't know what to do.  I had never meant to hurt him
and yet, that's just what I had done.  I had no idea where I was
or where he had gone.  When I had calmed down he came back.  He
was wearing a long cloak that covered almost all of him.  I
didn't want to hurt him, and I certainly wasn't afraid of him.  I
already knew that he was too gentle a soul ever to harm me in any
way.  He brought me my things and said that it was time for me to
go.  I had to make him understand.  I had to explain that I
wasn't repulsed or frightened by him.  Jenny, you can't believe
how truly beautiful a soul he has."     
     "Anyway, I started talking.  I asked him how this had
happened to him.  He said that he didn't know.  He was born that
way and had survived, just like I would.  He told me that it
doesn't matter what a person looks like on the outside but what
is inside of them that counts.  Coming from Vincent, it was more
that just a cliche.  This is something that he doesn't just
believe, he lives it every day."      
     "Cathy, just what is so different about Vincent.  Why would
he think that you would be afraid of his looks?  Does he have
some kind of birth defect?"
     "In a way, but it's kind of hard to explain without actually
meeting Vincent.  I hope that someday you can meet him.  Tonight
I just wanted to tell you why I am so happy.   I have found the
person who I want to spend the rest of life with.  I have found a
peace that wasn't in my life three  years ago.  I can't believe
that I'm even telling you all this.  I promised Vincent that I
would never tell anyone about him, but after all your questions
yesterday and that uncanny knack of yours.  Well, we both decided
that maybe it was good for someone else to know.  For me to have
someone to talk to.  Most people wouldn't understand though. You
have to promise that you will never tell a soul.  I trust you
Jen,  can you promise that you will keep our secret?"
     "What secret, Cathy?  So far all I know is that you are 
madly in love with this wonderful guy who has some kind of
physical deformity that prevents other people from seeing him. 
You owe this guy a lot and don't want to see him hurt.  That kind
of secret couldn't hurt a fly!"
     Laughing Cathy starts again, " Your right Jen, I'm not 
making much sense."
     "Remember when I mentioned the magical place that Vincent
had taken me to?  Well it's right here in New York.  As a matter
of fact, it's  New York.  There are hundreds  of miles of tunnels
under the subway tunnels.  They stretch on forever it seems.
There is a whole community of people who live there and take care
of each other.  They are wonderful  people led by a wonderful
man.  A man we call Father.  Father was once a doctor in the
world above.  He was cast out by the mass hysteria of the
McCarthy era.  All the people that live in the tunnels have been
cast aside by the world above and this place is a place of safety
and of love.  It is home.  This is where Vincent lives.  He is
Father's son."  
     " Vincent was found as a baby, abandoned outside St.
Vincent's hospital.  He had been abandoned, apparently  because
of his looks."
     "Oh Cathy, how can people do that?  Just because of a birth
     "Jen, This was no ordinary birth defect.  The best way to
describe Vincent is to say that his features are leonine.  He has
the most beautiful deep blue eyes and a head full of golden hair. 
He is very powerfully built and stands about six feet tall.  He
is also empathic.  He is quiet and has the soul of a poet.  We
share a very special bond.  He can feel what I am feeling as I am
feeling it.  He has saved my life that way more times than I care
to remember."   
     "Vincent understands that I needed to tell someone about 
all this.  We both think that because of the link that you and I
share, You will understand about the link between Vincent and
myself.  I know that he approves of me telling you all this
because I can feel it in him."       
     "Do you mean that the two of you are linked telepathically? 
That you can feel everything the other feels at the instant you
feel it?"       
     "Well, It isn't exactly like that.  Vincent feels the
connection much stronger that I do.  He knows when I am happy or
sad.  He can feel my joy and he always knows when I need him. 
I'm not so lucky.  I can only feel his feelings when they are at
an extreme.  I always have this warm glow around my heart that is
Vincent's love.  In a way I'm kind of amazed that he isn't here
already.  He knows that you understand.  I can see it and he can
feel it through me.  I  know that he wants to meet you, I can
feel that from him. Wait, he's here!"   Jenny, please stay here. 
Vincent's waiting on the balcony.  I need to talk to him  first.
I'll be right back."
     "Sure Cath, I'll wait right here.  Hurry up though, I'm
dying of curiosity about Vincent.  For you to love him as much as
you do he must be pretty special."
     Catherine walks out the balcony doors and right into
Vincent's arms.  "I'm so glad that you're here, your timing is
perfect as usual.  I was just telling Jenny about you.  I know
that she wants to meet you.  Is that why you're here?"      
     "Yes, Catherine.  I would love to meet Jenny.  I would like
to be able to share the love that the two of you feel for each
other.  I think that you should prepare her for meeting me.  I
don't want to frighten her."
     "Of course Vincent, but I have already described you in 
graphic detail to her.  I explained what you look like.  I think
that she will be all right, but I will talk to her for a little
while.  I will come for you when we are ready."
     "I'll wait right here."
     Going back into the apartment, Catherine couldn't hide her
     "It's Vincent, Jenny.  He wants to meet you.  I have to
remind you though, Vincent isn't like anyone you have ever seen. 
His looks may frighten you."
     "Cathy, you love him.  That's all I need to know.  Now 
bring him in here before I start asking questions.  Questions 
like, how does he get onto your balcony when you live on the 
18th floor?"  
     "Ok, ok I'm going.  Boy the two of you are sure going to 
get along," Catherine laughs as she walks to the balcony doors."  
Opening the doors slightly, Catherine let Vincent into the living
room.  With his cloak covering him, Jenny couldn't  really see
much except that he was very tall and very well built.  Softly a
voice that was like velvet over steel came from under the cloak. 
     "Hello Jenny.  I am Vincent.  I am pleased to finally meet
you.  Catherine has told me so much about you."
     "Thank you Vincent.  It's nice to finally meet you too.  I
have known for some time that Cathy had someone special in her
life.  Well, are you going to stand in the doorway all night? 
Come over here and lets really get to know each other!"      
     "I don't want to approach too soon.  I want to give you the
chance to feel comfortable with me."      
     "Come on Vincent, Cathy has told me all about you.  I know
that you think yourself different, and that may be so,  but if
Cathy loves you there must be something very right about you. 
Please Vincent, let me see your face?"
     Slowly and with a sigh, Vincent pushes back the hood of  his
cloak.  Jenny gasps  and abruptly sits down.  Staring at 
Vincent, she is amazed.  Vincent didn't look like anything Jenny
had ever dreamed about.  Cathy was right he IS beautiful.    
     Seeing Jenny gasp and sit so suddenly, Vincent is sure that
he had indeed frightened her.  Pulling up his hood he turns to
     "No Vincent, Wait! Jenny calls out, "please don't go. I'm
sorry.  I didn't mean to stare so.  My God, Cathy.  You were
right.  He's magnificent!  I have never seen anyone with  eyes as 
beautiful as yours.  I am not frightened or repulsed or anything
but fascinated.  I can see why Cathy is so hell bent on
protecting you."    
     Turning to Cathy, Jenny says, " Now I understand why the two
of you can't live together in this world.  I'm sorry I wasn't
more sensitive to what you were telling me."   
     "No Jenny," Vincent's soft voice spoke, "There is no way
that you could have understood our relationship.  There are times
when we don't understand it ourselves.  It is not like anything
you have ever seen.  All we ask is that you keep secret what you
have learned her tonight.  Many good people would be hurt if the
secret were ever to come out."
     "Of course, I won't say anything to anyone.  I wouldn't be
believed anyway.  I have a question for the two of you though.  I
can see how much you love each other, so why aren't you together. 
I know you can't be together in this world, but Cathy has told me
about your world.  Why aren't you together in it?"    
     "That's  a lot more complicated that it sounds Jen." 
Catherine replies.  I would gladly go to Vincent's world in a
minute except a couple of things."
     "There would be an awful uproar if I were to just disappear. 
Especially after all that has happened the past three years.  Joe
would just go nuts."  And secondly, Vincent doesn't want me to
give up my world to be in his.  He doesn't want me to become
     "There are ways to get around dropping out of sight.  People
do it every day.  How do you feel about joining Vincent in his 
world, Cath?  Have the two of you ever talked about it before?"   
     "No, we haven't talked about it.  Until my father died 
there was family holding me to the world above.  Now though,
there is only Nancy and you.  I suppose the job too, although I
could live very happily without the stress.  I know how you feel
now and I'm sure that Nancy would feel the same way, but I don't
want to force Vincent into something he doesn't want."  
     "Well, It's your turn Vincent.  What is the real objection
to Cathy's joining you in your world?  What are you afraid of?"  
     Grinning, Vincent turns to Catherine.  "You were right, she
is very perceptive. Catherine, I am afraid that if you spend all
of your time in my world you will grow bored with me.  I am
afraid that we will run out of things to say to each other."
     Gathering him into a hug, Catherine looks up into his deep
blue eyes. "Vincent, every couple has those fears, it's only
natural.  There will be a period of adjustment, just like all
couples, but look at what we already have.  I could never be
bored with you."   
     "What of your job Catherine?  What about all the joy that
you get from helping others?"
     "Vincent, I can do the same thing in the tunnels.  You can't
deny that you are sorely in need of teachers for the children.  I
can do that.  Or a dozen other things that are needed in the
tunnels.  I'm sure that given half a chance, Father would find a
hundred things for me to do."
     Softly Jenny asks, "That's not really it, is it Vincent.  
What is it that is really bothering you?  Tell Cathy, she needs
to know.  I can leave if it will help."     
     "No Jenny, please stay.  The two of you don't seem to 
understand.  Look at me.  Look at these hands.  These hands were
not made for loving.  These hands do not know tenderness. 
Catherine, if we were to be joined would you want these hands
touching you, knowing what they have done?   Would you want to be
intimate with me, knowing that we don't even know if I am human? 
What if I were to harm you?  How do I know that I will be able to
control myself in the heat of passion?"   
     For a moment, Catherine was silent. Gathering her thoughts. 
Then as if filled with a sudden resolve she gathered Vincent's
hands into hers.      
     "I told you once before that these were my hands.  These 
hands know the beauty of a single rose.  These hands know the joy
of a soft caress. These hands know the joy that comes from
creating a piece of artwork. These hands could never harm me
because they love me."  As for not knowing what you are, you are
wrong.  I know that you are the man that I love.  You are the man
that I want to spend the rest of my life with and the man that I
want to be the father to my children.  I love you.  Trust in our
     "Thank you Catherine.  You have given me much to think
about.  There is one thing though, that you have forgotten.  You
are a very wealthy women.  The world is not going to just let you
     The three of them sat silently for awhile, lost in thought
to this new challenge.  Maybe Vincent was right about this one,
there may be no way out.   
     Suddenly Jenny jumps up.  "I've got it!  I have the answer! 
Cathy, you said that there are miles of these tunnels running
under the subways.  I assume that there is some kind of entrance
system from basements in local buildings.  All you have to do is
to find a building with an apartment in the basement and an
entrance to the tunnels.  Then you buy the building and your
problem is solved.  No nosy neighbors either.  It could work,
Cath.  Then you could keep your life above and still have a life
below.  Once you are behind closed doors, nobody has to know if
you are above or below.  Well, what do you think?"
     For a long time the silence was almost too much for Jenny to
bear.  She was beginning to have serious doubts about the wisdom
of her plan, but smiled when she saw a gleam come into
Catherine's eye.  Vincent, on the other hand, still looked
     "Catherine, is there some place that I can go to be alone? 
There are many things that I must consider,"  Vincent asks
     "You stay here Vincent.  Jenny and I will go into the
bedroom.  We can always use the time to catch up on all the
latest gossip.  Call us when you are ready.  The tea is in the
kitchen, help yourself."
     Vincent sat quietly with his hands folded, already lost in
thought as the girls headed for the bedroom.  There was so much
to think about.  All the love that he had for Catherine.  It
started the moment that he saw her crumpled form laying in the
park.  It was as if nothing before that instant mattered.  From
that moment, he truly started to live.  Everything about
Catherine gave him joy.  From the way she smelled, to the way she
laughed, he loved  everything about her.  When she had gone to
California, he had missed her so much.  True, he could still feel
the bond, but it was so far away.  It was such a lonely time.  Is
that what life without her would be like?      
     When her father had died, she had come to him for comfort. 
She came to stay in his world to be near to him.  Having her
there to talk to the first thing in the morning and the last
thing at night had been wondrous.  The simple joy of taking a
meal together was one that he would never forget.  What would
life  be like with her in it every day?  Would he be able to love
her as a husband should love his wife?  Would he be able to do
those things and not hurt her?  It was true that when he had been
in the grip of the drug that Paracelsus had made, Catherine was
the only one who had been able to reach him.  Father hadn't even
been able to do that.  Was a life with Catherine as his wife
really possible?  Dare he even to hope?  Would she really want
     One thing was sure, sitting here thinking, wasn't going to
get the questions answered.  There was only one way to find out
what Catherine would say.
     Slowly getting up, Vincent walks the short distance to the
doors to Catherine's bedroom.  It is the longest walk that he has
ever taken.      
     After a soft knock, the doors are opened. Catherine!   Her
beauty is  almost enough to take his breath away.  Always direct,
Vincent gets right to the point.  "Catherine, do you think that
Jenny's plan can work?"
     "Yes Vincent, I do.  It will take a little research and 
some hard work, but I think it can be done."   
     "Catherine, Is this something that would make you happy?
     "Yes Vincent, it is. Sharing a life with you has been my
secret dream for the past three years.  I never said anything
because we always thought that our dream was impossible."
     For a time Vincent is quiet.  Without a word, he drops to
one knee.
     Catherine and Jenny are both staring at Vincent, but he has
eyes only for Catherine.  Although both recognize the position
that he has taken, neither grasp the significance.      
     Looking up at Catherine, Vincent shyly asks the most 
important question of his life.
     "Catherine, would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?
     Catherine can't think or breath.  This is  the day that she
had waited for all her life.  He has  finally asked her to marry
him.  Not being able to think past the fact that she had just
been proposed to, Catherine just stands still.
     Jenny can't stand this. "Hey dummy," Jenny hits  Catherine's
arm, "You just got asked the question of a lifetime.  Aren't you
going to answer the man?"      
     "What? Oh right!  YES!  YES!  YES!  Yes of course I'll marry
you!  I will marry you any time and place you say.  Catherine
shouted as she ran into Vincent's arms.      
     Lost completely in each others arms, Catherine and Vincent
don't  see the ear to ear grin that is on Jenny's face. 
Realizing that she has been forgotten, Jenny quietly walks out of
the room and heads for the front door.  With a smile she looks 
back toward the room, then leaves.      
     Gathering Catherine into his arms, Vincent walks over to the
bed where he sits with her in his lap.  Catherine nestles into
his chest, lost in the scent of him.  For a time the two just sit
and shared the joy they are feeling.  Softly, Catherine starts to
kiss his neck.  Vincent gasps.  Never has he felt anything so
soft as her lips.  Getting bolder, Catherine begins to move up
towards his face.    
     Years of denying himself had taken their toll on Vincent. 
As badly as he wants to lose himself to Catherine, he is still
     "Catherine, wait, we still don't know what will happen.  We
still don't know how I will react."
     Holding his face in her hands, Catherine replies, "I know
Vincent.  I love you and you love me.  You have asked me to be
your wife and I have consented.  I know all of the things that
you are afraid of.  They won't happen.  Our love will overcome
any problem.  You will not hurt me."
     Bending his face towards her, Catherine kisses Vincent fully
on the lips for the first time.  Vincent has never been kissed
like this before.  Slowly, he begins to respond to the silken
pressure on his lips.  He knows that if he doesn't stop soon
there will be no chance to, however he is completely lost to the
kiss.  The sudden fire of passion begins to envelope them both. 
Becoming bolder, Vincent starts to explore Catherine's body. 
Encouraged by Vincent's reaction, Catherine also begins her own
explorations.   As the explorations continued, clothing that is
not needed is dropped to the floor.  
     Suddenly, Catherine gasps.
     "Vincent, I always knew that you were beautiful,  but I
could never have dreamed just how beautiful."       
     "Catherine, I am only beautiful to you because you love me. 
What a wondrous thing that is to say.  I love you.  I have always
loved you.  It seems as a miracle that we are here and now."
     "Vincent, you talk to much,"  Catherine replies as she 
begins to kiss him again.  In no time at all, they are caught up
in passion and the love that they have been denying for so long
can finally be fulfilled.

                          * * * * * * * *

     All is silent in the bedroom.  The two lovers are asleep in
each others arms for the first time.  It would not be the last. 
Slowly waking, Vincent lay watching Catherine sleep.  How could
this moment have taken so long?  What was he so worried about. 
Catherine had been right.  With love all things were possible.    
Looking down at Catherine, Vincent discovers her watching him. 
With a smile, she reaches up and kisses him very gently on the
     "Well, Vincent, now you have to marry me, if only to make an
honest women out of me."     
     "Catherine, there is nothing that you or anyone else could
do that would prevent me from marrying you."       
     With a happy sigh, Catherine nestles further into Vincent's
arms as he places a feather soft kiss upon her forehead.          
The Beginning?
About the Author

     The author, Lori (Ely) Brown, first found Beauty and the
Beast during a very difficult time for her, she was about to go
through a divorce.  Vincent's strength and courage showed her the
way to get through the problems and come out a happy woman.  Now,
Lori is very happily re-married to her own Vincent and living in
Florida.  Lori's e-mail address is or you may
contact her through snail mail at Lori Brown, 388 Dorchester
Drive, Venice FL 34293.