BLOOD BOND

A Beauty and the Beast Fan Fiction

By Linda White

 

Kipper burst into Father’s chamber, nearly out of breath from running. “Father, Father, come quick! Vincent is hurt.”

“What? How? Where is he?”

“In the Chamber of the Falls.Vincent was teaching some of the younger kids to dive. Tad thought it would be funny to sneak up behind him and push him off the diving ledge into the pool below, but Tad’s push made Vincent fall awkwardly, and his body hit a rocky outcrop off to the side. Tad ran off in a panic, but Mouse and Jamie were there and helped Vincent out of the water. He’s bleeding badly, Father. You’ve got to come.”

“Listen to me, Kipper. I’m going now, but I need you to get a message to Catherine. Tell her what has happened. Ask her if she’ll telephone Dr. Alcott to see if he’s available to come Below. I may need some help.”

Kipper, who had run many an errand to Catherine’s house, did not need to be told twice. He took off at top speed.

Meanwhile, Father picked up his cane and his medical bag and hastened his steps as much as his lame leg would allow in the direction of the Chamber of the Falls. He arrived on the scene to find Mouse and Jamie kneeling beside Vincent, apparently trying to staunch the flow of blood with wadded rags they had torn from their own clothing.

So much blood!

Father realized immediately Vincent had lost a great deal of it. His leonine features were ashen, and he was laboring for breath.

Oxygen deprivation! Not enough blood carrying oxygen to the lungs.

“I’m here, Vincent.”

Vincent groaned.

Father dropped his cane and knelt at Vincent’s side. He had to get the bleeding under control or he’d surely lose his adopted son. He worked feverishly, barking orders to Jamie and Mouse, who assisted in whatever way they could.

Father did not know how much time had passed, but presently he realized Catherine was kneeling at his side with a look of utmost concern on her face.

“I’m sorry, Father, but Peter was unavailable.”

Vincent, upon hearing Catherine’s voice, let out a soft groan. She took hold of his clawed hand, pressing it lightly to her cheek. “I’m here, Vincent,” she said, her voice quivering.

*****

Father leaned back, his back aching from bending over so long, but he’d finally gotten the bleeding under control.

“Will he be all right, Father?” Catherine asked anxiously.

“He’s lost a great deal of blood, Catherine. I just don’t know at this point.”

Catherine’s eyes filled with tears.

Father turned to Mouse and Jamie, who also had tears in their eyes. “Jamie, will you go and see if you can find Tad. I’m sure he feels enormously guilty. Please assure him no one is blaming him. It was obviously an accident. Mouse, please go find Kanin and Cullen and ask them to bring a litter down here. We need to get Vincent into the medical chamber.”

Jamie and Mouse took off to fulfill their assigned tasks.

“What can I do, Father?” asked Catherine.

“I believe it’s important for you to stay close, Catherine. The bond you two share may help to keep Vincent from going into shock.”

After what seemed an eternity to Catherine, Pascal and Kanin came into view with the litter. “Cullen was not available,” said Kanin, “but Pascal will help me get Vincent transported to the medical chamber, Father.” They gently eased Vincent onto the litter and then lifted it carefully.

A short time later in the medical chamber, Father checked the sutures again to make sure there was no further bleeding. Vincent seemed to be only semi-conscious.

“I wish there was a way to give him a transfusion,” said Father.

“Why can’t you?” asked Catherine.

“I have the equipment needed thanks to Dr. Alcott and Dr. Sterling’s1 generous donations of supplies. We simply don’t have a donor available. Vincent’s blood is rather unique.”

“Take mine,” she declared adamantly. “I believe my type makes me a universal donor.”

“That’s all well and good, Catherine, but I don’t know what the effect would be on Vincent. As I said, his blood is unique.”

In the end, there was little choice. They were losing him. Father ended up taking two full pints from Catherine. The usual withdrawal for blood donation at a blood bank was a pint, so he hated to take that much lest he endanger her as well, but she insisted. He prayed it would be enough. More than that. He prayed her blood would not make matters worse.

*****

Vincent flatlined!

Father and Catherine panicked. Father was about to give CPR when the monitor jumped back to life after three harrowing seconds.

Catherine, though a bit dizzy and resting on a gurney next to Vincent, was still holding his hand. She felt a squeeze and let out the breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding. “Vincent!” she whispered, turning her head towards his gurney. “Beloved, I’m here with you. I won’t leave you.” She felt the squeeze again.

Vincent opened his startlingly blue eyes.

Catherine nearly fainted with relief.

He drew a deep breath, his lungs and brain responding to the renewed quantity of blood pushing oxygen into his starved cells. He tried to sit up, but Father restrained him. “Stay still, Vincent. You have a lot of stitches. I don’t want you to start hemorrhaging again, or I’ll have to tap someone else’s veins other than Catherine’s. She gave too much as it is and doesn’t have any more to spare.”

“What?” Vincent was stunned. “Catherine, you gave me your blood?”

“Of course, Vincent.”

Vincent closed his eyes and a memory swam into his inner consciousness. He recalled a time he’d gone to visit Catherine on the balcony of her old apartment to find her absorbed, tending a flower pot filled with roses. And then he noticed that she had pricked her finger on a thorn. He had drawn her bleeding finger to his lips, kissing it and licking the crimson droplets. The taste of her blood had made him shudder with longing and they had both shared a moment of profound intimacy. If those tiny droplets of blood that night could provoke such an intimate moment between them, he wondered what two full pints would do.

Of course, there was a difference between tasting a few droplets on his tongue and blood pumped into his veins with a needle, but did it matter? It was, after all, her blood.

Catherine’s blood!

Her blood now mingled with his, coursing through his veins, his heart pumping it throughout his body.

She’d given so much of herself over the years, but this -- this was a different sort of giving.  She’d given her very life essence and he now carried that life force within his own.

A precious gift!

He felt as if his heart would burst from the sheer magnitude of her selfless generosity. She’d given him life itself.

Vincent opened his eyes and gazed at Catherine, trying to convey to her the depth of his gratefulness and love and was gratified that she seemed to comprehend the unspoken words. Their bond was so strong, words were at times superfluous. He desperately wanted to sweep her up into his arms and carry her off to some secluded spot, but knew he had to remain still. He chafed at his inability to move, especially at this moment.

*****

Catherine had barely left Vincent’s side in the two weeks since he’d sustained his grievous injury, but knew she needed to return to the world Above and tend to her charitable foundations. She could no longer afford to neglect her obligations.

Vincent, meanwhile, was recuperating at a remarkable pace, and had been walking through the tunnels a little more each day to rebuild his strength.

“Do you think you’re strong enough to walk the distance to my house today, Vincent? I really need to get some paperwork done but would be happier if you came with me.”

Vincent considered. It was normally about a twenty-minute walk through the tunnels to reach the basement of Catherine’s house. If he walked slowly, he felt he could manage it, although it would take a bit longer if he walked at a slower pace. “Let us ask Father,” he remarked. “If he agrees I am fit enough, I’ll walk back with you.”

“Fair enough,” she agreed.

Vincent knew the only challenge would be the walk itself because even though Catherine lived in a four-story brownstone with a greenhouse2 on the roof, the house had an elevator, so stairs would not cause any additional strain.

The fact was, Vincent loved Catherine’s house -- a property she had inherited when her Dad passed away. He especially loved the grotto-style shower in the master bathroom.

*****

Catherine was finishing up with paperwork but had kept an eye on Vincent the whole time. She could see into the master bedroom from her office across the hall. Vincent had expressed a desire to take a nap after he’d showered and eaten some lunch, so the arrangement had been perfect. She could work and observe him at the same time.

As she finished up, she realized she needed to print some documents to put in the mail but decided she would do that later. She didn’t want to run the noisy printer just now and risk waking him.

Suddenly, his voice was in her head. “It’s allright, Catherine. Run the printer if you need to. I’ll be fine.”

Catherine gasped! Did Vincent just speak to her while he was asleep? No, not speak in the real sense, but with words that came into her mind. His voice, though! She distinctly heard his voice. Not a vague impression or feeling. His voice had spoken in her brain.

She glanced across the hallway. He seemed to be soundly asleep. She shook her head. She must have imagined it. Perhaps she, too, was more tired than she realized and should lie down and take a nap, as well.

But it had seemed so real.

His voice came into her head again. “Don’t worry, beloved. You’re not going crazy.”

Catherine suddenly felt extremely disoriented! Like reality had just gone topsy-turvy because things like this just didn’t happen.

Vincent, sensing Catherine’s confused distress, sat up and opened his eyes. He said aloud, “I didn’t mean to frighten you, Catherine. It’s okay. I promise.”

She ran into the bedroom and flew into his open arms. He held her close, rocking back and forth with her. After a moment or two, she regained her composure. “How did you do that, Vincent? You’ve never told me you were telepathic. You scared the living daylights out of me.”

“I didn’t think I was, Catherine, at least not completely, but ever since you gave your blood to me, I’ve had a growing sense of our bond strengthening. I think if it had been anyone other than you giving me blood, I’d have had a serious adverse reaction, perhaps even died, but because it was your blood, I not only revived, but revived with enhanced mental capabilities. My body recognized and accepted the offering of my true life-mate. As you know, I’ve always been able to sense your feelings… when you’re happy or sad… and I can almost always get a sense of your location. And fear! Fear was always the strongest. In the past, whenever you were in danger your fear came through to me loud and clear, so perhaps I’ve been telepathic all along. I believe this is simply a new level of connection, albeit a very powerful one.”

“You’re saying that your body accepted the transfusion because it was my blood?” Catherine was flabbergasted.

“That’s exactly what I’m saying. Do you remember how we found out3 a couple of years ago, quite by accident, that my fang teeth and claws retract when we make love? I believe this happens because my body recognizes you, Catherine -- recognizes that we are bonded, that we are life-mates,and I don’t believe this would happen for anyone but you. In this same way, my body accepted your blood.”

Life-mates?

She thought about those words. Such simple words, but there was such deep meaning in them.

It was true that she’d been drawn to him from the first. Before she ever saw his face, his voice began resonating within her heart like the strings of a harp as he read to her during that time of convalescence. Of course, she’d been shocked when she first beheld his lion-like countenance, but the shock had receded very quickly, and she’d found herself accepting his otherworldly appearance easily.

And every day, every year that had passed since then, their love had grown. This new level of connection, however, was quite miraculous. It seemed as if he could communicate with her even while sleeping. Astonishing!

Catherine had been with a few lovers before she knew Vincent, and even once thought herself falling in love with Elliot Burch but had quickly realized during that brief interlude that there would never be anyone for her but Vincent. It was as if their very souls were destined to walk the corridors of time together.

And now, seemingly by chance, they were drawn even closer together by a bond of blood.

She nestled into his strong arms. “I love you, Vincent. I’d have given you more than my blood. I’d have given you my life.”

“You did, Catherine. You did!”

He pulled her into an even tighter embrace, so close he feared he might crush her, yet her slender body always seemed to fit perfectly into the curve of his own. He kissed her tenderly, loving the feeling of her soft, pliant lips against his own. He could feel her body quiver in response. Her arms twined around his neck and her fingers buried themselves in his mane. She absentmindedly began twirling the sensitive hairs at the nape of his neck and he shuddered with pleasure.

Suddenly, their tender kiss erupted into an urgent burning flame. Vincent felt as if the newly mingled blood flowing in his veins had become a river of molten lava and that he would explode in an incandescent fountain of sparks at any moment.

“Are you recovered enough for this?” she murmured softly, her luminous green eyes alight with desire.

“I believe I am,” he responded in a voice raw with need.

No other words were needed. Their bodies spoke to each other in all the myriad ways lovers do.

Strangely, at the precise moment of their climax, there was a flash of lightning followed almost instantlyby a huge clap of thunder. They looked at each other in awe. “That’s exactly how it felt,” he sighed.

“Absolutely,” she agreed.

*****

And then the skies opened.

They could hear heavy rain pelting the windows.

“I hope the lightning didn’t damage the stained-glass panels on the greenhouse,” said Catherine anxiously.

“I’ll go up and check,” said Vincent, pulling on his trousers.

“I’ll meet you down in the kitchen,” said Catherine. “I’m going to light some candles in case the power goes out. Looks like we’re in for a pretty intense storm.”

After Vincent inspected the greenhouse on the roof, he rode the elevator down to kitchen level where Catherine, now wearing a pink velour jumpsuit, had her candles lit and a pot of coffee brewing. Vincent walked across the hall and entered the media room. “Let’s see if we can get an update on the weather,” he said, turning on the TV. “It’s raining awfully hard. Last I heard, the storm was supposed to track out to sea.”

They found weather reports being broadcast on almost every channel.

….”original predictions of the tropical storm had it tracking further east out over the Atlantic, however the latest Doppler Radar shows the storm will make landfall directly over Lower Manhattan. Tidal surge is expected in the Hudson as well as the East River and all low-lying areas. Residents are advised to avoid underground transportation venues until further notice as severe flooding may occur.”

Vincent and Catherine looked at each other and said in one breath, “The tunnels!”

“We’ve got to get the children out!” Vincent exclaimed.

Catherine blew her candles out and grabbed her anorak off the hook next to the pantry. Vincent grabbed his own cloak, pulling it over his shoulders as they headed for the elevator. They reached the basement, opened the utility door and entered the passage under Catherine’s house that led to the world Below.

*****

As they made their way toward the main hub, Catherine remarked, “If Father agrees, we can shelter the children and perhaps Mary, too, in my house. I have plenty of room if they bunk up together, and there is plenty of food in the freezer. The kids can play video games or watch movies in the media room, assuming the power doesn’t go out. I can also put others up in hotel rooms if it comes to that.”

“That’s very kind of you, Catherine, although I am not surprised by your gesture. Your generosity toward all of us Below knows no limits.”

Catherine blushed, but was pleased by his praise. Praise from him and so many other small things that passed between them always filled her with a quiet happiness. A quirk of the brow, a subtle smile or nod of the head, a slight gesture. All of them private little pieces of communication between them. Looking down, she realized that somewhere along the way, he’d taken her hand in his and held it lightly.

She smiled.

As they neared Father’s quarters, they saw at once the flurry of activity and heard Father’s voice issuing orders. People were scurrying hither and yon on their way to fulfill those orders.

“Ah, Vincent, Catherine, there you are! I was about to send Kipper with a message asking you to return, but you’ve anticipated me.”

“Catherine has offered to shelter the children in her house, Father. Mary, too. Their safety should come first.”

“Precisely,” intoned the elder patriarch. “I sent Jamie and Mouse in search of them all with orders to bring them and Mary to the Great Hall, but I fear if the storm doesn’t abate soon the Great Hall may flood as well. I have sand bag crews working all the currently flooded areas, so I pray there is no further flooding. And there is another potential problem as well. The subways and other underground venues throughout the city are crawling with utility workers and Con-Edison personnel. One accidental turn by any of them and our world will be exposed.”

“I will patrol the tunnels, Father. I know all the passages better than anyone except perhaps Mouse. I’ll make sure no utility workers, or any other strangers, find their way here.”

Father nodded his assent. “Then, if you’ll go to the Great Hall, Catherine, and lead Mary and the children back to your house, that will lift a great burden from my mind.”

“Of course, Father.” She buttoned her anorak tightly around herself. It was windy on the long stairway that led to the Great Hall.

Vincent pulled Catherine into a tight hug. “Be careful on the stairway, beloved. The steps are very steep.”

“I will,” she replied. She caught the look in his eye that spoke volumes and gave a slight nod. She knew he understood her return glance.

They went in different directions.

*****

Vincent had spent his whole life in the tunnels and knew every square inch by heart. He aimed his steps toward those areas he knew were the most vulnerable to possible discovery.

Meanwhile, Catherine headed for the long stairway that led to the Great Hall, carrying a freshly lit torch to light her way. It was so windy in the stairwell she hoped it wouldn’t blow out. She had an abnormal fear of the dark and would probably panic. But the torch stayed brightly lit.

She came to the massive doors and was glad to note that whoever had accompanied Mary and the children had propped the door open, utilizing the great crossbeam that normally held the doors shut.

She entered the Great Hall and called out, “Mary, it’s Catherine. I’ve come to lead you and the children to my home where you can wait out the storm safe from the threat of flooding.”

“Oh, thank goodness,” cried Mary. “I’ve been so worried the flooding might reach this level.”

“Are all the children accounted for?” asked Catherine.

“All but Tad and Beth,” said Mary. “William escorted us down here and lifted the door beam. Jamie and Mouse went back to run other errands for Father. William said he’d search for Tad and Beth on his way back to the kitchens.”

“Then I’ll take lead if you’ll bring up the rear, Mary. We’ll stop on the way back and retrieve them.”

“They’ll no doubt be in the kitchens with William by this time,” remarked Mary with a rueful smile.

But Tad and Beth were not in the kitchens. William had sent two of his assistants in search of the missing children to no avail.

Tad, the little troublemaker, thought Catherine privately. He’d nearly cost Vincent his life. Where could the little scamp have gotten off to? And poor little Beth. She had undoubtedly simply tagged along. Catherine prayed they hadn’t gone into any of the lower chambers where the flooding was the worst.

Catherine turned to the assembled children hovering close to Mary. “Geoffrey, where’s Geoffrey?”

Geoffrey stepped forward. “Here I am.”

“Listen to me carefully, Geoffrey. As you know, Kipper is running errands for Father. Next to him, however, you have run the most errands to my house and know the way by heart. I want you to lead Mary and the other children the rest of the way from here and take shelter in my house. The utility door in the basement is not locked. You’ll all be safe there. If there is any kind of medical emergency, find my address book in the drawer of the little table in the living room and call Dr. Alcott. Do you understand?”

“But what about you, Miss Chandler?”

“I’m going to search for Tad and Beth. I know most of the tunnels fairly well and even if I were somehow to get lost, Vincent would find me. Father can’t spare anyone else for a hunt such as this right now.”

Geoffrey nodded. “Come on,” he said to the assembled group. “Let’s go.” They all filed out en masse.

Catherine turned to William. “William, if Vincent comes back this way, please inform him of this development. Also, if Tad and Beth come back, restrain the little imps, and tap out a message on the pipes. I’m not the greatest at interpreting messages, but I recognize my name. If I hear my name, I’ll come back.”

William was greatly impressed with Catherine’s take-charge leadership abilities. “I’ll be sending up a tray to Father shortly, Miss Chandler. He never remembers to eat during a crisis. I’ll put a note on his tray and give him the update.”

“Thank you, William. I’ll be off, then.” She took her leave.

*****

Catherine had a hunch about where the missing children might have gone. Vincent had mentioned recently that the tunnel children had been learning about dinosaurs. She knew there was a wonderful collection of dinosaur skeletons at the Natural History Museum. She also knew that one of the tunnels closely paralleled the Orange subway line under the city, with an exit close to Eighty-Sixth Street. Very close to the museum. She decided to start there.

A short time later, as she neared the exit point adjacent to the museum, she heard Vincent’s voice in her head. “Catherine, what are you doing in this area?”

“Oh, Vincent, you startled me.” She still wasn’t used to responding mentally to him. “I’m trying to find Tad and Beth. They turned up missing and I had a hunch they might be heading for the museum to look at the dinosaurs. It’s unlikely anyone will be there during this awful storm. Something clever little Tad will have thought of, too, no doubt.”

“I’m directly below the subway, only one exit north of you, Catherine. I’ve been following the lines making sure none of our hidden entry points has been breached. I just finished and can start back your way and meet you. We can continue to search for the missing children together.”

“That would be great, Vincent. I—oomph...” She didn’t finish the sentence.

Vincent had a sudden sense of panic coming through their bond, but more than that, he had a vivid mental picture of something large and brutish hovering over her. Something that had pushed her down.“Catherine, Catherine,” he shouted mentally. “Who is that? What’s going on?”

Her thoughts were coming in a jumble of chaos, fear mixed with an effort to stay calm. He could almost see through her eyes and the vague vision was a nightmare. His own panic enveloped him.

“Oh God, Vincent,” she responded. “Some huge brute of a man is waving a pipe wrench at me and shouting sexual obscenities. I think he intends to rape me.”

Vincent let out a roar. “I’m coming, Catherine, I’m coming!” He flew into motion. Thankfully the tunnel track he’d been inspecting was on a straight line and he found himself running faster than he ever had before. He didn’t know how he could have missed an intruder who surely must have entered the tunnels at the access point he’d just inspected not half an hour ago, unless the man had entered within minutes after that.

Meanwhile, Catherine was doing her best to elude the brutish man who had appeared seemingly out of nowhere.

“Hallo, sweet thing.” His slurred speech made her skin crawl, and she realized he was undoubtedly very drunk. “You’re gonna give it all to me, aincha, babe?” The brute made a lunge, but Catherine rolled, a maneuver she had learned from her former self-defense instructor, Isaac Stubbs.

The brute grunted in frustration. “Playing hard to get, eh? That’s gonna cost you, sweet thing.”

A large beefy hand grabbed her leg and was about to bring his pipe wrench down in a single blow, but she kicked hard and rolled again, narrowly avoiding having her leg crushed by the heavy implement. It seemed the goal was to incapacitate her, then rape her.

“Nimble little minx, aintcha?” He smiled a toothy grin, and Catherine could smell the reeking odor of his foul alcoholic breath mixed with the stench of stale sweat. She shuddered and braced herself as he brought his pipe wrench above his shoulders for another blow, but just then a furious roar erupted from behind Catherine. Vincent leapt over her prone body, aiming his outstretched claws straight at the would-be rapist’s abdomen, eviscerating him. It was all over within seconds.

*****

Vincent hung his head, breath coming in ragged gasps as he tried to reach calmness. It was never easy to come down from the huge adrenaline rush he always experienced when the bestial side of his nature took over. Catherine knew this very well from many past episodes and put her arms around his neck. She hugged him fiercely and began rubbing his back, knowing her presence always helped to calm him.

“Oh God, Vincent. After I left the DA’s office I never thought this sort of thing would ever happen again. I’m so grateful you were near.”

“As am I, Catherine. As am I,” he whispered hoarsely. “Thankfully our newfound connectedness alerted me to your exact position more precisely than in past instances. “

Just then, a message came over the pipes. Catherine, children located. Return home.

Vincent pulled her into a tight embrace. He was still shaking. “If I had lost you—”

“I know, beloved. I know. I feel the same way.” She nestled into his strong arms.

“Let’s go home.”

*****

A few days later, Catherine and Vincent were sitting calmly in her living room having coffee. The storm had abated and, according to the news, there had not been as much damage as they had originally anticipated.

In the world Below, the clean-up crews had dealt with the worst of the flooding, thanks in large part to Father’s careful direction of where to direct resources. Life was returning to normal.

Vincent and a few of the other tunnel men had built a new, better-concealed entry point where Catherine’s attacker had come through.

They learned through a newspaper article that the body of an ex-con who had escaped from a prison facility in upstate New York was found floating in the Hudson. He’d apparently been mauled. The authorities speculated that a rogue bear had come down from the Adirondacksduring the height of the storm.

So that’s where Vincent dumped him, thought Catherine.

Mary had dealt punishment to Tad and Beth for their careless transgressions. For a solid month it was decreed they would be responsible for scrubbing all the pots and pans in William’s kitchens.  The other children were ecstatic about this because they usually had to take turns executing this loathsome chore.

“Who would have guessed one little boy could cause so much mayhem in just the last several weeks,” remarked Catherine ruefully.

“Indeed. On the other hand, his pushing me into the water in the Chamber of the Falls resulted in the gift of your blood, enabling this much stronger connection. I believe that is what gave me the ability to visualize your exact position and reach you at unbelievable speed the other day.”

“For which I am eternally grateful, my brave avenging angel.”

“You’re welcome, beloved. I will always protect you if I am able.”

“This blood thing, Vincent. Can you read my mind all the time?”

“No. Certain thoughts seem to come over what I would call a Catherine frequency. I seem to be able to zero in on this frequency, but my mind does not invade your private thoughts.”

“Do you think it would work in reverse?”

“Reverse? What do you mean, Catherine?”

“The connection. I mean, would you be willing to give me some of yours?”

Vincent was thunderstruck. “You want me to give you some of my blood?”

“Yes. I’ve been thinking a lot about this and I keep remembering what you said. You said that when you received my blood, your body recognized me because we are life-mates. I want to recognize you in this way, too. If I were given your blood, Vincent, wouldn’t it complete the circle, one to the other? Wouldn’t this frequency you speak of be like a private channel only the two of us share? Wouldn’t I be able to initiate thoughts to you on that channel instead of just receiving thoughts?”

“I -- I don’t know, Catherine. I’ve never considered this before. It might be dangerous for you. My blood is rather unique… as Father likes to say, but there’s something else. Something I didn’t mention before because I have no way to prove my suspicion.” He hung his head.

“Having to do with blood? You can tell me, Vincent. Whatever it is, you can tell me.”

“Mind you, I have no way to prove my suspicion, but my gut tells me it’s the truth. I think when I received your blood, Catherine, it bound me to you in another way. While it gave me stronger connectedness and enhanced abilities, it came with a dark side, too. If you were to die, I would die, too.”

“Don’t be distressed about those feelings, Vincent. I love you so much I feel that way, too.”

“You don’t understand, Catherine. I mean literally. If you die, I would die, too… within moments. Not that I haven’t always felt that way anyway, but I believe this bloodbond makes it a certainty.”

Catherine thought about his words. “If that creep had killed me the other day, then…”

“Yes, I’d now be dead, too, although not before I sent the slimy pervert straight to hell.”

“Oh, Vincent.” She put her arms tightly around him, hugging him fiercely, her mind suddenly grasping the full importance of his revelation. If she took his blood, he feared the same would be true in reverse. If he died, she would, too! Instantly. No wonder he had hesitated to tell her of his suspicion.

She looked into his beautiful, soulful blue eyes. She stroked his saffron mane. She pressed her lips to his in a soft kiss. “I love you, Vincent, and I want this. Don’t you see? If you were to die, I couldn’t live without you, either. I would be a mere shell wasting away, dying of a broken heart. There will never be another for me. Ever. My love for you is so deep, so embedded into my soul, that to lose you would rip me to shreds.”

*****

Some days later, Vincent entered the basement of Catherine’s house and walked up the two flights to kitchen level. Catherine was waiting in the dining room.

“Is everything ready, Vincent?” she asked anxiously.

“Yes.” He carefully pulled out the contents of the satchel he’d been carrying. He laid everything out on the dining room table. There were three vials full of a deep crimson fluid. “I drew my own blood this morning in my chambers,” he informed her. “I think three vials should be plenty. It’s not as if you’re blood-starved as I was. I’ve brought some other things, too, in case you don’t react well.” He shuddered with sudden worry.

“Then let’s get started.” She held out her left arm.

“It’s not too late to change your mind,” he whispered.

“I’m not afraid, beloved. I firmly believe no harm will come to me.”

Vincent kissed her softly, then tied the tourniquet. A good vein popped up. He gently eased the needle with the first vial into Catherine’s vein. She winced slightly at the pinprick of the needle, but then relaxed. He slowly fed his blood into Catherine, feeling a warm rush of protectiveness as he did so. He switched vials as the first one emptied, then proceeded until all three were empty. He put a cotton ball swabbed with alcohol over the injection site and gently eased the needle out, watching closely for any reaction. He put a band-aid over the injection site.

“How do you feel, Catherine? If Father knew I was doing this to you, he’d have a conniption fit!”

“I don’t feel anything yet. OK, maybe a little flushed.”

“You are flushed,” he said, taking note of the high color on her cheeks. “Maybe you should lie down.”

He lifted her easily and carried her to the couch in the living room. “Lie back, Catherine. I’ll bring a cold compress.” He went to the bathroom and found a clean washcloth. He rung it out with cold water and brought it back to her, placing it across her forehead.

“I am starting to feel a bit dizzy, Vincent, but strangely euphoric at the same time. And colors seem sharper suddenly, too. Is that supposed to happen?”

“I’m not sure.” He reached for her hand. The instant they made physical contact, the whole world fell away. There was only Vincent and there was only Catherine. Mind to mind, soul to soul.

*****

Vincent felt as if they were merging, that their hearts were beating as one, and he knew she was feeling this, too. Their bond was manifesting in true physical connectedness and he felt a rapturous joy spreading throughout his entire body. Every beat of his heart was throbbing in his chest and every hair felt like electricity was running through it. The slightest whisper of Catherine’s breath on his skin was sending shivers down his spine. “Are you feeling this, too, beloved?” he thought to her.

“Oh, Vincent. I never knew it could be like this. It’s like a merging, a blending. It’s like a sweet ache. I truly feel a part of you within myself. It’s so beautiful.”

“Yes,” he whispered in her mind, and the whisper was a caress. He pictured in his mind the totality and depth of his love, from that first moment he knew he loved her until now, and sent the thought to her. He nearly staggered when those same feelings came back to him in equal measure. This goddess of a woman loved him as much as he loved her. His heart nearly burst from the sheer joy of it.

They were true life-mates, now forever bound by a blood tie that could not be severed.

Vincent gathered her to himself, his lips on her soft neck, warm and sweet. He clung to her with a kind of desperate exhilaration. He lifted her in his strong arms and carried her up the stairs and into the bedroom. The night was theirs and they had all the time in the world to explore both the physical side of this newly strengthened bond between them and the mental side as well.

“I love you now and forever, dearest Catherine.”

“And, I love you, too, beloved Vincent. Now and forever.”

 

Footnotes:

1. See my previous story, The Plastic Surgeon.

2. See my story, A Crisis of Confidence.

3. From my previous story, A Crisis of Confidence.