Vincent’s Day in the Sunshine

A Beauty and the Beast Fan Fiction

By: Linda White

Author’s Note: This story takes place after the events of my previous story entitled “A Crisis of Confidence” which can be found at Tunnel Tales.

As related in that story, Catherine is now living in the large, multi-story townhouse she inherited when her father passed away, with Vincent a frequent guest. The house has direct access to the tunnel world via a hidden entrance in her basement, making it a safe passage for Vincent. She no longer works for the District Attorney’s office, but, instead, utilizing the large fortune she inherited, has set up several charitable foundations.




Catherine sat on the living room sofa nursing her second cup of coffee. She had a lovely view of Central Park through the big bay window and watched as the brilliantly colored autumn trees swayed in the breeze, leaves flying and swirling as one by one they began to fall.

She loved autumn and its rich, earthy colors. Most of the time, she was careful to keep the drapes drawn because Vincent was often present in the house, but today he was Below helping Father redraw several maps of that world, so she took advantage of the glorious view.

She knew she needed to get dressed and go to the market. Vincent was coming over later for dinner and a movie, and she wanted to pick up something nice to cook. She really loved cooking for him, and he was so appreciative when she did.

Still, she lingered, savoring the rich aroma and flavor of the coffee, so luxurious after the horrible dregs she’d endured at the DA’s office.  It was so nice to have leisure time in the morning instead of rushing through the hustle and bustle of humanity as they all made their way to work. Being your own boss had distinct advantages.

As she sat, she began making a mental grocery list, but her train of thought was suddenly interrupted by the clanking noise of the letterbox downstairs. Mail this early? Usually the mail didn’t come until around three in the afternoon.

Catherine had a sudden lump in her throat.  “Maybe it’s Kipper or one of the other tunnel children with a message from Vincent.  I hope everything is alright,” she muttered to herself. She set her coffee mug down and padded to the thickly carpeted stairway and descended to the front hallway.

Lying on the floor under the mail slot was a large, brightly colored, orange envelope with a pattern of little autumn leaves worked around the edges. She bent and picked it up. The envelope bore her name and address in beautiful, hand written script. There was no stamp. Curious, she opened the envelope and pulled out a folded card of the same bright orange, along with a handbill for the Broadway musical Cats. On the front of the card the words ‘An Invitation’ were hand written in the same beautiful script. Catherine opened the card and read through it. Then she read it again more slowly, her mind suddenly racing with possibilities.

The card read:

Dear Patron of the Arts,

The Children’s Hospital of Manhattan, in partnership with the cast of the hit Broadway musical Cats, requests the honor of your presence at a special Halloween Costume Fundraiser to be held in Central Park on the last Friday of October. The festivities will begin at noon and continue through to midnight with the members of the Cats cast adding to the merriment. There will be food, games, live entertainment, and a fireworks display in the evening. You are encouraged to join in the fun by appearing in costume. Cat costumes are especially welcome.

Attendance is by invitation only. Enclosed you will find a map of the section of the park reserved for the special event. Your purchase of tickets to this event will benefit the Children’s Hospital. Tickets are one hundred dollars per adult and fifty dollars per child under twelve.You may bring up to three guests. If you plan to attend, please fill out the enclosed RSVP form and mail with your remittance no later than October 16th to secure your reservation. We hope to see you there!

Catherine read the invitation again, just to be sure she’d understood it. The fête took place starting at noon.


Her heart was pounding, and she knew the remainder of the day would be an agony of hours before she would see Vincent and have a chance to talk to him about this.

She remembered how he had braved being seen at another Halloween event – a masked ball held in honor of Brigit O’Donnell. Surely this event in Central Park would be similar, the one difference being that Vincent might be able to walk about in daylight … something he had experienced only briefly for a few scarce minutes, but had longed for. Anyone who saw him would simply assume he had dressed for the occasion or was a member of the cast.

But then another thought struck her. Would Vincent’s feelings be hurt at the suggestion he could blend in with the members of the Cats cast or any others appearing in similar costumes? Surely he understood that his visage was very leonine in its aspect. But she also knew he was sensitive about his unusual appearance, and she had no wish to cause him any pain or anxiety. She would have to be very careful in the way she presented her idea. She picked up the glossy handbill for the Broadway show and smiled at the pictured cast members. This would help.




In the world Below, Vincent kept getting oddly mixed feelings that he knew emanated from Catherine through the empathic bond they shared. He sensed a quiet mellowness followed by a deep excitement, then a nagging worry. What kind of a weird day was she having? he wondered. He didn’t sense any danger however.

In fact, danger had almost become a thing of the past. Ever since she’d quit her often dangerous job at the DA’s office in favor of sitting on the board of charitable foundations, there had been very little need for him to tap into what he thought of as the dark side of his persona. Something he was very grateful for. While he would always be alert for any possible danger to her or to his tunnel family in the world Below, the truth was, the dark side, when unleashed, took a tremendous toll on his mental well-being. He was reasonably certain this was one of the reasons Catherine had chosen to leave the DA’s office, though she hadn’t said so directly. She knew better than anyone what those forays into dark bestiality did to him. It was something of an irony that he was the one who had always urged her to be strong in her dedication to right wrongs, even at the cost of his own mental stability, but now she was still helping people and in a manner not so dangerous. Safer for her, and safer for him too. Her wise choice had brought more peace to both their lives, and he knew she had changed the direction of her life in large part for love of him.

Father caught the puzzled look on Vincent’s face and asked, “Catherine?” Father was becoming adept at reading Vincent’s face whenever his leonine son was feeling emotions coming through his bond with Catherine.

“Yes,” replied Vincent. “I keep sensing extreme highs and deep lows of emotion.”

“Well, my eyes are gritty with fatigue looking at these maps, so maybe we can finish this later if you want to get over to Catherine’s place early,” offered Father.

“Thank you, Father. I’m probably not going to be able to concentrate on this task anyway, until I find out what has Catherine in such a flurry of emotion. I’ll go and see if I can find Kipper to take a note to her and ask if I can come early. He loves taking notes to her, because she always gives him treats or money to spend in the Above world. He seems to have taken a liking to something he calls manga. A kind of Japanese comic book that reads from back to front.”

Father chuckled. “Back to front, eh? Quite odd. Well, I hope he shares these treasures with the other children.”

Vincent took his leave from Father to go in search of Kipper. He also wanted to stop off at his own quarters and pack a small bag with a change of clothes. He knew he was getting spoiled using the wonderful grotto shower at Catherine’s townhouse, but he loved it. The first time he had ever showered there, Catherine had loaned him a pair of her dad’s sweats that had still been in the closet so he could change into fresh clothes afterward. He had taken a liking to sweats ever since, prompting Catherine to purchase about ten pairs of them for him. His favorites were the dark blue.

As he went down the passage toward his quarters, he spotted Kipper and corralled him. “Want to take another message to Catherine, Kipper?”

“Sure thing, Vincent,” the boy cried eagerly.

“Wait for a reply on this one. I need to know if it’s ok for me to arrive early.”

Vincent quickly wrote out a note, folded it up, and handed it to Kipper. Kipper all but vanished before Vincent’s eyes. The lad is a treasure, thought Vincent. He continued toward his quarters.




Kipper showed up at Catherine’s in time to see her drive into the alley behind the townhouse. He saw her hit the remote for the garage door and then watched the door slowly rise. Kipper followed the car into the garage.

“Hello, Kipper,” Catherine greeted the boy as she exited the car and opened the trunk. “You have good timing. I just came from the market.”

“Hello, Miss Chandler. I’ve brought another note from Vincent. He wants me to wait for a reply. Here, let me help with that!” He stuffed the note in his pocket and grabbed a couple of the grocery bags. They entered the elevator and rode it up to kitchen level.

“Thanks, Kipper. I would have had to make two trips. For that you should at least have some cookies and milk.”

Kipper smiled. Catherine bought the best cookies in town.

“So, let’s have a look at Vincent’s note,” she said.

“Oh, yeah. Here you go.” Kipper handed Vincent’s note to her, which she read carefully. It never ceased to amaze her that, even with clawed hands, Vincent’s penmanship was exquisite, his words almost lyrical in their expression. He’d probably be surprised to learn that she’d kept every single piece of correspondence he’d ever given her, no matter how trivial the subject matter.

She took a fresh sheet of stationery from the little desk in her kitchen and penned a note back to him saying it was just fine for him to come up early. Kipper was just finishing his third cookie when she folded her note and put it in an envelope. Just for fun, she kissed the back of the envelope leaving a impression with her rose-colored lipstick. “Do you want to go through the utility door in the basement, Kipper? I think it’s a bit quicker that way.”

“Nah, that’s ok. I like walking back the regular way. Don’t worry, I’ll be back in the tunnels in about twenty minutes.”

Catherine handed him a ten-dollar bill and said, “In that case, pick up some donuts for Father on your way back. You can keep the change. There’s no doubt a new issue of manga at the comic book store.”

“Thanks, Miss Chandler. I’ll see you later.” And with that, he took off again.




Half an hour later, Kipper delivered the box of donuts to Father, who smiled in anticipation, and then he handed Catherine’s note to Vincent.

Kipper was watching Vincent covertly to see how he would react to the obvious kiss mark on the envelope and tried not to giggle when he saw Vincent’s face. Even though the light in the tunnels was dim compared to the world Above, Kipper could swear Vincent was blushing.

Vincent saw Kipper’s amused look and put his fingers to his lips in a shhhh signal, though Father was munching on a second donut and completely oblivious to the interplay.

“What’s that you’ve got there, Kipper?” said Vincent, in an effort to keep Father distracted. “More manga?”

“Catherine said I could keep the change from the donuts,” Kipper replied.

“She has a generous heart,” Vincent agreed. “And I’d better get going. She’ll be expecting me.” With that, he arose to take his leave, carefully tucking the note from Catherine into a deep pocket.




A short time later, Vincent came through the basement utility door in Catherine’s townhouse and called out, “Catherine, I’m here.”

She leaned over the stairwell railing from upstairs. “Up here, Vincent. I’m in the living room.”

Vincent was already halfway up the two flights from basement level. He rarely bothered with the elevator. He gathered Catherine into an embrace, kissing her tenderly. He did not miss the fact that she was wearing the same rose-colored lipstick she had sealed her note with. “You taste like raspberries,” he said. “And I’ve been anticipating a real kiss ever since you sent me your not-so-subtle little note. Such a wicked woman to tease me so!”

She laughed. “Forgive my school girl whim,” she said. “Just my way of flirting with you.”

“I like it when you flirt with me,” he said, his eyes twinkling.  “On a serious note, I’ve been sensing a roller coaster ride of emotion from you today. What’s going on?”

“Here, come sit down,” she said. “I’ve just made a fresh pot of coffee. Do you want some? I have so much to tell you.”

“Thank you. Coffee would be great.”

Catherine poured coffee and set out cream and sugar on a small tray within easy reach. “I received a very interesting piece of mail this morning. Hand delivered, no less. Have a look at this.”

Catherine handed Vincent the bright orange envelope along with its contents. She watched carefully as he read through everything. He looked up at her with eyebrows raised.

“It starts in the daytime,” she blurted out. “At noon. I thought perhaps–” She broke off, suddenly not sure the invitation had made the same impact on Vincent as it had on her.

“You thought it would be a good way for me to be able to go about in the daytime, yes?”

“Yes.” She swallowed a large, involuntary gulp.

“And you thought no one would look twice at someone who could pass for a member of the cast.”

“Yes, I admit that was my thought.” She hung her head. She was suddenly fearful that she had made a huge gaffe. She had just wanted to grant one of Vincent’s fondest wishes – a chance to walk through the park in daylight – but now she was worried that she had somehow hurt his feelings.

There was a long moment of silence that seemed to stretch into infinity, and she had no idea what was going through his head.

“What a marvelous idea,” he finally said. “But Catherine … a hundred dollars per person?”

“It’s for the Children’s Hospital, Vincent. Surely a most worthy cause. And it would be worth it to give you the opportunity to walk in the sunshine. Besides, I usually give them a huge donation every year and will do so again, over and above the entrance fee.”

“I admit the prospect of walking in Central Park during the daylight hours has a strong appeal. Looking at the designated section of park on this enclosed map, I can tell that one of our access tunnels is very nearby should there be a need for a hasty retreat.”

“I thought of that too,” she said.

Vincent suddenly laughed out loud.

“What?” she asked. “What is funny?”

“The fact that grown men and women purposely make themselves up as feline characters and parade about publicly, while I must remain hidden with only the prospect of Halloween as a cover for my own appearance.”

“Are you offended in any way by this, Vincent? I’ll tear the invitation up right here and now if so.”

“Not at all,” he said. “I find the irony amusing.”

Catherine breathed a sigh of relief. She would never hurt his feelings purposely.

“Would you be willing to cancel our movie date and come below tonight, Catherine?” he asked.“I think we should talk to Father about this adventure in the park. While the idea of the Cats cast providing cover is a good one, there is always risk to me in the world Above, whether it is day or night. That being said, I think Father will find the circumstances as appealing as we do.”

“Of course I’ll come below. I’ll just pack an overnight bag. I see you brought a change of clothes. Do you want to shower while I get ready? I know you love the grotto shower, and I already took one earlier this morning.”

“I admit I was looking forward to it. I won’t be long!” Vincent kissed her on the forehead and bounded up the stairs. 

Catherine went into the kitchen to put away the things she had planned to use for dinner and clean up. She didn’t want to come home to dirty dishes later. She was just finishing up when Vincent came back into the kitchen, his long, tawny mane still damp. Catherine loved the woodsy nature smell he always exuded whenever he came fresh from the shower, but she decided she better keep it to herself for the time being. It would be too easy to get distracted.

“Would you lock up while I run upstairs and grab my overnight things?”

“Of course,” he replied.

Vincent rode the elevator to the roof, made sure the greenhouse was locked, and then secured the rest of the townhouse. He met with Catherine back in the living room and they rode the elevator down to the basement. They went through the utility door into the passage under Catherine’s house that led directly to a tunnel that would take them to the world Below.



Father was surprised to see Vincent and Catherine return so soon and immediately went into worry mode. “What’s wrong?” came his anxious inquiry.

“Nothing,” Vincent assured him. “We just need to talk to you. Catherine will be staying tonight, so give us fifteen minutes to stash our belongings and we’ll be right back.”

“All right. I’ll be waiting,” replied Father with a curious look on his face.

Catherine and Vincent made their way to Vincent’s chamber. “You’ve had doors installed!” she exclaimed.

“Yes. With the two of us spending more … uh … intimate time together these days, it seemed prudent.” He gave her that shy smile she loved so much. “Cullen and Mouse helped me get them installed. We managed to salvage them from an old church being torn down. They lock too,” he proclaimed. “You can put your clothes in that dresser over there. Do you recognize it? It’s one of your Dad’s pieces that you donated to us! I saved that one so you’d have a place for your things whenever you come below.”

“You are so thoughtful Vincent.” She smiled.

They stowed their things and then went back to meet with Father.

Father looked over the invitation and the materials enclosed with it and heard Catherine’s idea that perhaps, on that one day of year when people paraded around in costumes, it might be safe for Vincent to go out into the sunshine. Catherine knew that Father was pondering the possibilities. In the past, she knew he would have been vehemently opposed. Even now, she knew he was weighing the risks.

“Do you see any special problems, Catherine?” he queried, putting her on the spot.

But Catherine was nothing if not straightforward and honest. “There is one scenario I can think of that might present a problem,” she replied truthfully.

“Oh, and what is that?”

“Well, since this is a charity fundraiser, they will no doubt invite major donors … big money people “

“Ah,” exclaimed Vincent, catching on right away. “You think Elliot Burch might be there.”

“Yes, and if Elliot is in attendance and sees me, he is going to have a conniption fit until he knows who my date is!”

“Is there a way to divert him, hold him at bay?” Father queried.

“There might be, Father. I think there is a strong possibility that Peter will be invited as well.”

“Ah, yes, our own dear friend and helper, Dr. Alcott. Peter sits on the board of many charitable foundations. In fact, on some of your foundations, Catherine. Am I right?”

“Right you are, Father. And Peter knows Vincent, of course. I am certain he could be instrumental in running interference if anyone, even Elliot, became a bit too curious about Vincent. We should probably decide on some sort of cover story, though, just in case.”

“Hmmm, perhaps Vincent might be a doctor from out of town in for a medical conference. He has assisted me many times and has some medical knowledge,” said Father.

“That’s an excellent idea Father,” agreed Catherine. “I doubt if such a thing will even come up, but like the boy scouts, one should always be prepared.”

“Well, Catherine … Vincent … I see you are determined to go, so I will just say, please use extreme caution.”

“Thank you, Father. We will proceed with great care,” declared Vincent. “And now it is getting late, so we’ll say good night.”

“Good night, you two.”

“Good night, Father,” murmured Catherine.

Back in Vincent’s chamber, Catherine indicated her bag and said, “Let me go to the facility and get changed. I’ll be right back.”

He nodded and sat down in a large and well-worn overstuffed chair, thinking to read a chapter or two while he waited. He’d barely finished three pages when Catherine came back into the room.

Vincent drew in a sharp breath.

She was a vision of utter loveliness in her white eyelet nightgown and matching robe, modest, but at the same time incredibly sexy.

“You are beautiful,” he murmured. “Just beautiful, and I am the lucky man you chose to bestow your beauty upon. I am humbled in your presence.” He stood up, and Catherine seemed to float into his embrace. He held her for a long moment and then bent to kiss her tenderly.

He and Catherine had discovered a few months earlier, quite by accident, that his fang teeth and claws were capable of retracting when he engaged in acts of love, something he had never known he was capable of before, although he suspected this would only be true in acts of love with Catherine. Another benefit of their special bond. Once they had discovered this, the two of them had wasted no time in expressing themselves fully to one another.

He went to secure his newly installed doors, and then he lifted her into his strong arms and carried her to his makeshift, yet comfortable, bed with its mismatched pillows and patchwork.

Later, as he lay softly purring, watching Catherine sleep, he decided he would need to think of special gifts to give Cullen and Mouse for helping him install locking doors on his chamber. Privacy had become a matter of utmost importance.

He watched Catherine for a long time. She was as beautiful in slumber as she was when awake. He loved watching the gentle rise and fall of her body as she breathed. Sometimes she would audibly sigh, as though reacting to what he hoped were dreams of him. The best, though, was when she reached for him even while sleeping, and a tiny smile would etch itself upon her soft lips as she curled herself into the curve of his own body. Those moments filled him with a happiness so profound he thought his heart would burst with joy.

At other times when he watched, he couldn’t help but think back to that fateful night when he had first found her in the park, slashed, beaten, and bleeding, tossed from an assailant’s van like yesterday’s garbage and left to die. He’d brought her Below that night to be patched up by Father, and then he’d brought her here to this very chamber and put her in this very bed … his bed. He had watched over her and tenderly cared for her for many days. With her face swathed in bandages, unable to see, he had stayed close, talking to her upon dozens of topics, reading to her, and trying to assure her that she would soon heal.

Eventually she was well enough to return to the world Above. He had guided her through the labyrinthian maze with an absolute conviction of where he was going. Stopping at a junction, he’d said, “This is where you go out.”

“Where are we?” she had asked.

“In the basement of your apartment building.”

“We are?” She had been so surprised.

He remembered he’d hung back for a moment, hearing voices above, but Catherine had leaned into him, hugging him fiercely. And in that moment, he was overwhelmed with a longing so deep he knew his heart had bonded inextricably with hers.





Catherine awoke to find herself alone and wondered where Vincent was. She got up and found her robe and slippers, heading for the facility. Once she took care of nature’s business, she went back to his chamber, but he still wasn’t there. She decided to go in search of him, but no sooner had she decided on that course of action, he came through the door.

“You’ll never guess who’s here Catherine.”

“Who? Who’s here?”

“Dr. Alcott. He’s with Father. They’ve asked if we’d like to have breakfast with them.”

“Sounds wonderful, and I’m famished. Just let me throw on my clothes and run a brush through my hair.”

“I like your hair when it’s disheveled. I like it even better when I’m the one making it disheveled,” he said, kissing the top of her head.

She laughed, but grabbed her brush.

Ten minutes later they were sitting with Father and Dr. Alcott in Father’s study enjoying a sumptuous breakfast provided by William. “What brings you Below this morning, Peter?” asked Catherine.

“Booster shots for some of the children,” he replied.

“Did Father mention the Halloween fundraiser in the park?”

“He did indeed, and to answer your question before you ask it, I did get an invitation.”

“And what is your take on any possible risk to Vincent?”

“As I said to Jacob, I think the risks are low. I think Vincent will be perfectly safe. And I’m happy to keep an eye out during the festivities.”

Catherine hugged Peter. “You are wonderful! Are you going to wear a costume?”

I’m heading to the costume rental place later today. Any suggestions?”

“Hmmm …” Catherine pondered the question.  “What do you think, Vincent? Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?” She giggled.

“Well, with that tall, slender physique, I think maybe Emperor Ming!”

Everybody laughed.

“Speaking of costumes,” said Catherine, “I’d better be thinking about this too. Suggestions, gentlemen?”

Peter spoke up first. “How about Cleopatra?”

Father said, “Joan of Arc perhaps.”

Catherine looked at Vincent expectantly.

“Helen of Troy,“ he said without hesitation. “Her beauty was such that it launched a thousand ships.”

Catherine blushed a deep crimson, but she was pleased nevertheless. “Well, a lot will depend on what is available and in my size. There’s still a little time. Maybe I’ll have one made. No more owl masks for me though. The feathers kept tickling my nose last time around.”

Everyone laughed again.




Catherine pulled into the parking lot of a drab brick building in the heart of the garment district, wondering if she had taken a wrong turn somewhere, but no, there on the side of the building, a small brass plaque proclaimed that this was, indeed, Gabriella’s Custom Costumery. There were only a few cars in the parking lot, but then again, it was still early in the month, and it was a weekday. Bet they’ll be mobbed as Halloween draws closer, thought Catherine. She took a deep breath, filled with anticipation.

She grabbed her purse, opened the car door, and got out. She took another deep breath. After locking the car doors and stashing her keys in her purse she entered the shop.

She was pleasantly surprised.

The inside was nothing like the drab outer building. Rack after rack of beautiful, colorful costumes filled the cavernous space, and many of the more elaborate ones were displayed on mannequins. There were hats, wigs, shoes, and all manner of fantastical accessories. One display of a beautiful Renaissance gown reminded her of Lucrezia Borgia.

Stay focused, she told herself. Lucrezia is not right for this outing! But she loved the costume.

After a few moments, a small woman approached Catherine and inquired if assistance was needed.

“Yes, thank you. I am in hopes you can help me, as I do have something quite specific in mind.”

“I will do my best, dear. What is your name, and what sort of look do you want to achieve?”

“My name is Catherine, and I have in mind a costume that would evoke the very essence of the Egyptian goddess, Bastet.”

“Aw, such a challenge!” spoke the petite woman enthusiastically.  “The cat goddess herself. I am intrigued.”

“The thing is,” said Catherine, “I don’t want a mask. I want to … uh–” She broke off, not sure how to describe to the woman what was in her mind, especially because the goal was to adopt a persona that would be in keeping with the theme of cats, yet one that would hopefully compliment Vincent in a way that would look as though they’d matched each other on purpose. She needn’t have worried. Gabriella was nothing if not intuitive.

“I quite agree, my dear. No mask for you. Your own beauty needs to come through, yet at the same time, portray the goddess in all her feline glory. It is the makeup and hair that will transform you. As for the costume, we have many Egyptian sheaths, sandals, armbands, and accessories that will be the basis of this look. This will not be a problem. You can put yourself in my hands with confidence. I am Gabriella, and this is my shop, you see!”

“It’s wonderful to meet you,” said Catherine warmly. “You come most highly recommended.”

“Thank you,” said the petite woman. “This is, perhaps, for the Children’s Hospital benefit?”

“Yes, it is.”

“We have already received several orders for that affair, but yours, my dear, will eclipse them all. I will see to it personally, for you have intrigued me very much. You are the only one of my patrons so far who has taken the theme of the fundraiser to heart. Your idea to personify Bastet shows you are thoughtful and imaginative.”

I am willing to take credit for thoughtfulness when it comes to trying to please Vincent, Catherine told herself. Aloud she said, “Thank you.”

Catherine spent the next three hours deep in consultation with Gabriella, who showed her many costume pieces, wigs, and accessories. She tried on dozens of Egyptian costumes. They finally agreed on a stunning sheath in a shade of sage green that shimmered in the light and made Catherine’s green eyes stand out. With the added armbands, jeweled pectoral and accessories, she was truly beginning to see Bastet emerge, especially when Gabriella added the little gilded cat ears tucked into her hair.

“The cat ears will look better with the right hair,” said Gabriella with a smile. “Hair and makeup will be key. I have a wonderful makeup artist named Maggie on staff and a talented hairdresser named Adele. Adele will probably want to put in a dark hair color, completely temporary, of course. Would you be willing to come here the morning of the party? We will get you into costume and do your hair and makeup. I will not lie to you. It will be more expensive than a mere rental costume, but the results will be utterly fantastic. As good or better than anything they can do in Hollywood.”

In the end, Catherine didn’t even blink at the fees she had incurred, hefty though they were. She simply made the appointment and smiled all the way to her car.




In the world Below, Vincent was thinking hard about what sort of costume would be right for him. The one glaringly obvious factor to overcome were his clawed hands. It was one thing to appear as himself amidst a crowd of catlike characters. There was something of reassurance in that. But the claws would be impossible to explain or pass off. Those would need to be disguised and the best way to achieve that would be to wear gauntlets. Gauntlets in turn suggested something medieval or cavalier.

And as he pondered on those ideas, it came to him in a flash … straight out of the pages of a storybook.

Puss in Boots!

A very cavalier cat indeed!

And he not only had a pair of the type of boots needed, he had several pairs of leather gauntlets and a velveteen doublet that he was certain would fit the theme quite well.  He just needed the right kind of breeches, a musketeer-type hat with a tall plume, and perhaps a sword and scabbard. Oh, and a cape. He recalled the character of Puss in Boots wearing a cape, at least in the illustrated version of the book he’d first read as a child.

He wondered if Peter might be able to help with those items. He hated to ask Catherine; she did so much for him already. Besides, he wanted to try and keep his idea as a surprise, at least as far as she was concerned.  Perhaps he could clean Peter’s medical facility in the evenings when no one would be present in exchange for the funds needed to purchase or rent the items. The more he thought on this, the more he decided it was a worthy plan. He reached for pen and stationery. He would send a note to Peter via the helper network at once.

The next day, Vincent received a note back from Peter stating that he would be happy to assist with the required items and not to worry about payment. He was sure he could find some means by which the ledger would be clean. Vincent had not known how to account for sizes, but he had sent measurements to Peter using a dressmaker’s tape that he had borrowed from Mary.

Vincent was pleased. Better than pleased, as Mouse would have put it. He hoped Catherine would be pleased too.




At last the day came. Catherine had set her alarm early to allow time to get to Gabriella’s shop and was now ensconced in the makeup chair with her back to the mirror so she couldn’t see, while Maggie and Adele transformed her into a goddess. A very feline-appearing goddess. Meanwhile, Gabriella had the costume ready with all its accessories and would dress Catherine as soon as hair and makeup were done. Catherine hoped the very dark shade and blunt cut of her hair would look right, but as they began to weave the jeweled droplets into the myriad little braids, she began to feel a sense of deep excitement.  Finally, Adele added the golden filigree cat ear headband that tucked into Catherine’s hair, while Maggie was adding the finishing touches to the makeup. They twirled the makeup chair around so Catherine could see the results.

Catherine was stunned!

“This is utterly fantastic,” she said, beaming. “Simply gorgeous! I feel like an otherworldly creature dropped in from the realm of the gods.” She looked and looked at the subtle feline features achieved solely by makeup artistry. “It’s so amazing. I look like myself, yet not. I look like Bastet! You’ve done a superlative job.” She hugged them both.

“Come, my dear. Your costume awaits,” said Gabriella, who had been overseeing every step of the hair and makeup process. Catherine followed her to a dressing room, and, with the assistance of Adele and Maggie, Gabriella put Catherine, with exquisite care, into quite possibly the most beautiful garment she had ever worn. They then added snakelike armbands twining up her bared arms. They added a jeweled pectoral collar and then strapped on the loveliest pair of sandals Catherine had ever seen. She truly looked like a goddess. Many hugs later, she took her leave of the three talented ladies.




Vincent had been sitting in the living room a scant ten minutes when he heard Catherine’s car pull into the garage. Two minutes after that, he heard the elevator. He stood up to greet her. The door of the elevator car whooshed open and Catherine stepped out. She gasped.

“Vincent, you look wonderful!” She stared and stared. “What a truly inspired idea. How did you happen to think of Puss in Boots?”

“Gauntlets!” he replied.

Catherine instantly knew exactly what he meant. “Well, the result is brilliant. There is so much buckle to your swash, I may swoon.”

He smiled. “Thank you, Catherine. High praise indeed from a goddess, and may I say I am in complete awe. Bastet, if I am not mistaken. Your costume is beautiful, and you make it more beautiful still.”

“Do you truly like it?” She began a slow turn so that he could see the front and back.

“Words are inadequate,” he said. He watched enraptured as she turned gracefully around. And as she turned, he knew with sudden conviction why she had chosen the Bastet costume. It was not just to please him; it was for him. She knew they would look more like a couple if they were both in feline garb. Seeing them together in this way, the public would never know that he wore his own feline garb permanently. Catherine’s use of her costume and makeup would indelibly mark them both as ‘costumed’ characters even more strongly than his own identity would have done in and of itself. She could not have chosen a better costume to reinforce this subtle but powerful notion.“You are remarkable,” he said softly.

Catherine caught the underlying message of his remark and leaned forward for a hug. Vincent was only too happy to comply.

They left by the front door, a first for Vincent. It was a fifteen-minute walk to the closest designated entrance, but they were in no hurry. They walked slowly, hand in hand – or as it occurred to Vincent, hand in gauntlet – enjoying the sunshine and the crisp autumn air.

“Catherine, in case I don’t get a chance later, I must thank you for this. Just being with you out in the open like this is more than I ever dreamed possible. The sunshine warms my face, but your thoughtfulness and generosity warms my heart.”

“It was that invitation that got my attention, Vincent. That, and the fact that the members of the Cats cast would be part of the festivities. We couldn’t have asked for better cover than that.”

“Even so, you went to a great deal of trouble and expense to make it a reality. You do so much for me, and I can never repay you.”

“You do repay me Vincent, in every possible way that matters. You give of yourself more fully than any person I have ever known. It is I who must say thank you!”

They came to the park entrance where there was a bit of a queue. This will be the first real test, thought Catherine. They casually sauntered forth and joined the line. There was a young couple in front of them dressed as Robin Hood and Maid Marion. Robin and Marion turned to see who had stepped into the line behind them. They both stared at Catherine for a moment, but then Robin turned his gaze to Vincent. “Whoa! Great costume dude,” he gushed.

“Er, thank you,” said Vincent, somewhat nonplussed. “Much obliged.”

Catherine jumped in. “You both have great costumes too.” Robin and Marion smiled their thanks.

A single man joined the line behind them, and turning to see, Catherine realized it was Peter, who was done up in a Sherlock Holmes costume complete with inverness cape and deerstalker hat. “Peter,” she exclaimed. “You look marvelous.”

“Cathy, is that you? You’ve outdone yourself. You are drop dead gorgeous. And Vincent, you look sensational yourself.”

“Thanks in no small measure to you,” said Vincent.

Catherine realized Peter must have helped Vincent with his costume, but she said nothing. She didn’t want to embarrass either of them.

By this time, they had advanced to the ticket master, who took their tickets and checked them against his list of paid guests. Then he opened the gate and they were inside the section of park reserved solely for the event.




Vincent would later write in his journal of the sheer wonder of that day. How he and Catherine had walked arm in arm in the bright autumn sunshine, shuffling through the fallen leaves. Of how they’d watched little squirrels scurrying about gathering nuts, and of how they’d looked to the sunny skies watching birds flying in a vee formation overhead on their way south for the winter.

He would write of pavilions set up with every kind of party food imaginable, and of how he personally had eaten three hot dogs and drunk cherry soda. Of how he had taken the midway by storm and won three Teddy bears at the various games, with Catherine cheering him on: one at the coin toss game, one at the bowling pin

knock-over, and the third at the clown dunk. He had put the prizes in a special drop box for the Children at the hospital.

He would write of his delight and his nervousness when a man on a unicycle somehow managed to juggle three chain saws, and of how another man on a motorcycle jumped through hoops of fire.

The best though, was when he won a small trophy for archery by hitting bull’s eyes fourteen times in a row. Just when the guy in charge of the game was starting to get suspicious, Catherine stuffed the trophy in her large straw bag and they had wandered off. “I would have hit it fifteen times,” Vincent had avowed, “but that guy behind me sneezed at an inopportune moment.” They had laughed and laughed.

And all through the day, the members of Cats had performed skits, feats of gymnastic derring-do, and sung songs from the show.

Once, during their wanderings, there had been a nervous moment when Catherine spotted Elliott Burch in the distance, and though Burch was looking in their direction, he did not seem to recognize Catherine. “Probably the dark hair and feline makeup,” she had said. They both breathed a sigh of relief and headed in the opposite direction.

Following a shady path to a secluded little copse they came upon a venerable old oak tree with dozens of lovers’ initials carved into its stout trunk. They’d looked at each other, and with a nod from Catherine, Vincent had removed the gauntlet on his left hand. Using his sharp clawed forefinger, he had carved CC and VW with a heart all around into the tree’s bark. He mentally marked the tree’s location, knowing he would visit it every now and then on his nightly sojourns in the park. It would remind him of his love for Catherine and of this wonderful day in the sunshine.

In the late afternoon, they had walked over to a gazebo where a chamber group was playing Brandenburg Concerto No. Six. “I love this piece,” Catherine had proclaimed.

“As do I,” he had said.

When the concerto ended, they had walked over to a coffee cart, ordered cappuccinos, and sat down on a nearby bench. By this time, it was dusk. “Are you tired, Catherine?” he had asked. “I don’t think your lovely sandals are the best sort of walking shoes.” 

“I admit, I am,” she’d said wearily. “Can we just rest here for a while?”

“I’ve a better idea,” he had said. “See that drainage culvert over there? There is no one looking this way at the moment. That culvert goes right into one of our tunnels. If we walk over that way, we can probably slip into it, none the wiser.”

“Are you sure, Vincent? The party does go on until midnight.”

“You have given me the gift of seeing the park during the day, Catherine. I have seen it many times at night. Let us take advantage of this quiet moment to slip away.”

And so they did.




Catherine’s feet really were sore by the time they reached the hub Below and a surprised Father. “What happened?” he queried.

“Nothing,” said Vincent. “Do not concern yourself. Catherine was just tired, and I was feeling a bit worn out myself. It was the most wonderful day though!

Father, who had not seen Catherine’s costume, remarked. “That is a truly lovely costume Catherine. Bastet, right?”

“Yes. Thank you, Father. I’m sure it looked much fresher earlier today though.”

‘Come, sit and have a cup of tea with me,” said Father.

They joined Father, regaling him with the many details of the day in the park.

“Fourteen bull’s eyes in a row you say. Uncanny,” remarked Father. Father knew there were many enhanced abilities peculiar to Vincent, but he was always surprised when a new one became apparent. “And no one questioned or noticed anything amiss about you?” he asked.

“Well, other than the man in charge of the archery range getting a bit suspicious, not a single person,” said Vincent. “Plenty of people noticed Catherine though. She was easily the most beautiful person in the entire park,” he added proudly.

“Oh, I don’t know,” she quipped. “I caught several women looking covertly at you, no doubt wondering who the handsome cavalier was.”

Father chuckled, seeing the disconcertedlook on Vincent’s face. “I am glad for both of you. You have a wonderful memory to share.”

“Thank you, Father. Would you mind if we made our farewells now? I have just about enough energy left to make the trek through the tunnels leading home, where I look forward to a long, hot shower.”

“Not at all,” said the venerable patriarch. “I bid you both good evening.”



Catherine and Vincent stopped at Vincent’s chamber, where Catherine kept a couple pairs of sneakers. She sighed. “At least I can walk the rest of the way in relative comfort.”

Vincent packed some fresh sweats, and they took off through the tunnels leading, eventually, to the basement of Catherine’s townhouse.

“I’m dying for a shower,” she said, once they were in the house. “I’ll bet you are too!”

“Indeed,” he agreed. “Perhaps we should save time and hot water by going together.”

“What a marvelous idea.” She was already taking off jewelry and adornments on the way up the stairs.

Vincent, too, pulled off his leather gauntlets and began undoing the multitude of buttons on his doublet. By the time they reached the master bedroom, most of their clothing had been removed.

“I almost hate to wash off the incredible makeup,” said Catherine. “They did such a fantastic job.”

“They most certainly did,” he agreed. “Do you think the goddess would allow a kiss before she transforms herself back into a mortal?”

“The goddess might even allow more than that,” she murmured seductively.




A couple of hours later, they had come back downstairs and were now in the living room. Vincent had his favorite dark blue sweats on, and Catherine had on a pair of soft pajamas. Vincent was on the sofa, while Catherine sat between his legs on the floor, her back to him, while he gently unbraided a few plaits that she had missed.

“I can’t believe how much of the temporary hair color washed down the drain,” she said. “I’m almost back to my normal hair color.”

Vincent unbraided the last plait and was deftly finger combing her hair to fluff it out so it could dry faster.

Catherine leaned back enjoying his ministrations. For someone with clawed hands, he is amazingly gentle, she thought. After a few moments, she turned her head and looked up at him. “Did you enjoy yourself today, Vincent?”

He pulled her up to sit next to him and put an arm around her. She leaned her head against his strong shoulder. “Catherine, this day with you in the warmth of the sun has been one of the happiest in my life, and I will never forget it as long as I live.”

She snuggled more deeply into his arms, basking in perfect contentment. Vincent felt her happiness and contentment coming through the bond they shared, filling him up with his own happiness, and once again he offered a prayer of thanks to whoever the deities were that put him on that path one dark night when a woman had been savagely attacked and left to die. His beautiful, wonderful Catherine had lived, and she had become the love of his life.

“Thank you,” he whispered again to the nameless deities.

“Hmmm?” said Catherine, already half asleep.

“Nothing, love. Go to sleep.” He cuddled her close.

“I love you Vincent,” she murmured.

“I love you too, Catherine.” He leaned back and knew he would relive the whole wonderful day in his dreams.

He closed his eyes.