Midnight Rose

The first gray of dawn touched the night sky; an almost imperceptible hue noticed by only the most light-sensitive eye. Dawn was upon him and soon the time to depart. The colorless light cast every surface in a hundred different shades of ash. The silver glow brought a hint of sadness to his heart yet filled him with peace. The city lay before him; for once it did not beckon. He was happily detached from all of his lifeófor the moment.

Never before had he felt so content. Vincent could not remember the last time he had slept peacefully, without fears and worries disturbing his slumber. He had come to her for help in facing the last of his dark fears. Her love and wisdom had freed his soul and spirit.

He had been given the gift of her heartbeat, music to his fragile soul. He had been given the warmth of her skin to heal his deepest wounds. They had lain side by side, sharing her bed. Passion had not raged as he had feared. It was not what had been sought or needed this night. He had needed her closeness, her touch, and her skin. It was a first bold step toward fulfilling the depth of his love for her. Physical intimacy would come in time. What they had shared this night had been right; it had been enough.

Vincentís foolish heart bid him to ignore the emerging light. It beckoned him to stay and remain in this small space suspended between her world and his, a world of their own. He did not want to leave. There was more he wanted to learn and explore. Tranquility dwelled here. He belonged here. There was the knowledge of her closeness, the remembered warm press of her body, the airy perfume of sleepy warm musk, and the emulation of her love that became a physical presence when he touched her skin. He wished these moments to last forever.

Ah---just one minute more.

Catherine stirred and found him missing.

Morning. She could sense it in the darkness of the tiny bedroom. A note of sadness hung in the still air, but her heart was at peace. She rolled over and found him standing in the open doorway to the balcony; an immense shadow beyond the gently sighing sheers, a shoulder against the door jam. A soul suspended between dusk and dawn, a heart torn.

Vincent was fully dressed except for his cloak that still lay across the side chair where Catherine had folded it the night before.

Catherine rose and padded up the three steps and through the airy curtains. She slipped behind him, her hands reaching under the hem of his loose dark shirt to encircle his barrel torso with her slender arms. Vincentís chest expanded; he drew a long inward breath as her delicate fingers spread across his washboard stomach. She molded herself against his strong straight back, soaking up his essence.

He had come to her ready to examine the fears that still barred the way to her love. Quietly, slowly, tenderly they had brought each one into the light and honest tears had washed them away. Understanding and freedom took its place in his fragile soul. Exhausted, but finally whole, she had pulled him close and laid his head against her heart. The tender touches they began to share healed the wounds. Secure in each otherís arms and hearts they had fallen asleep.

I love you. The gossamer thread of the bond whispered with her love, Catherine reaffirming this with the squeeze of a hug.

The tall leonine man turned, bringing the petite woman he loved around to face him. His strong arms enclosed her pressing her to himself. He placed a kiss on her hair-swept brow, her sleep-laden eyelids, her warm cheek, and her petal soft lips. He sipped of gentle kisses.

Vincent said nothing. The bond was his soft voice sending his love to wash over Catherine and surround her. She melted against his solid frame, the rhythm of his heartbeat thumping in her ear. She half-dozed content in arms that cherished her.

They became part of the morning stillness.

It was time.

Vincent gently touched Catherine and without a word led her back to the bed. He tucked her in, sat beside her, and silently kept watch as she drifted back to sleep. Her countenance was lovely and peaceful. Her slender form beneath the light sheet and silk gown a symphony of beautiful curves and skin pale and as smooth as fine porcelain. He tenderly brushed back her tousled tresses from her face and placed a final parting kiss upon her warm cheek.

I love you. A heartsound only his beloved could hear.

Stepping back, Vincent grabbed his ebony and patchwork mantle and settled it upon his broad shoulders. With one last lingering look upon his sleeping beauty, he disappeared into the last veil of night.