LATER. . .
by Karen Morgia

The days always seemed to dray by when she was away from him.  They shuffled along, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute, second-by-interminable second.  Soon, however, they would be together again.

As soon as she had returned from work yesterday, there had been a timid knock at her front door.  She looked through the peephole before opening the portal only to see a familiar, unruly shock of red hair down low in front of her apartment door.

Catherine smiled; she always welcomed the rare occasions when one of the Tunnel children ventured Above to bring her some message from her Beloved.

She opened the door and invited her young visitor in.  'Hello, Geoffrey.  What brings you out in this weather?' she inquired.

'Hi, Catherine!'  The freckle-faced young lad carefully opened the front of his warm, but often-patched tunnel coat and held out a tri-colored taper for Catherine's inspection.  'This is for you,' he explained.

Catherine took the offered candle and smiled, knowing what it represented.

'Vincent would have brought it himself, but he asked me instead.'  The young boy beamed proudly with the remembrance of his great friend trusting him with such an important task.  'He would have come himself, but he only just got back from working in one of the lower caverns.'  Geoffrey smiled a little remembering how worried Vincent had been at not having given Catherine her Winterfest candle yet, and he didn't want to appear on her balcony as dirty and disheveled as he was now.  It would take a while to get clean, dry, and changed; and Catherine needed her candle.

 'He told me to tell you that he will meet you 'at the threshold below' at eight o'clock tomorrow night.'  Her small friend suddenly looked worried, his brow furrowing.  'You can come, can't you?'

Catherine smiled and affectionately ruffled his hair.  'Of course, I can come.  I wouldn't miss it for anything.'

'Good!  Then it's okay,' Geoffrey grinned.  'I'd better go.  I've got to get back.  Samantha decided we'd race to see who could deliver all their candles and get back to Father's chamber first and yours was my last candle.  Bye, Catherine'see you tomorrow night.  It's going to be a great party.'  Geoffrey waved as he sped toward the exit stairway.

Catherine shook her head as she closed her door.  Running down sixteen flights of stairs'she was really going to have to introduce that young man to the elevator.


Now at the appointed hour, Catherine waited patiently for her Beloved's arrival.  It was unlike him to be late; but then, she had been early-anxious to once again be held in his arms.


Her name spoken from the with such soft, whispery timbre made her heartbeat quicken and her blood run hot.

'Vincent,' she answered.

She was quickly enveloped within his safe, loving embrace.  Raising her head from where it lay against his chest, she placed a kiss against the pulsepoint of his throat and smiled as she felt it quicken.

His arms tightened their hold around her as his lips found hers in a kiss of such passion as to take her breath away.

'Oh!  You keep doing that,' she whispered breathlessly, opening her eyes, 'and we'll never get to the Great Hall.'

He smiled impishly.  'I know!'

Lacing his fingers through Catherine's and drawing her hand to his lips, he kissed it softly.  'I love you, Catherine.'

She turned their connected hands and kissed his hand, in turn.  'I love you with all my heart,' she declared as she brushed her cheek against their joined hands.

'Come, my Lady!' he whispered.  'We have a celebration to attend.'

'Must we?' she asked, lovingly stroking her free hand along his bristly cheek, wanting desperately to be alone with him.

'Yes, Catherine, we must,' he declared sadly as he withdrew her hand from his cheek and kissed the palm, 'but I promise we shall continue this discussion later'after the celebration.'

She smiled at his meaning and sighed.  'Very well, my Lord'lead on'but, I'm going to hold you to that.'

'Good!  Shall we go, Catherine?'  He drew her close against himself for one more loving embrace before turning to lead her through the entrance which led to his safe place Below and the one safe haven for their love.

Originally written in November 1992; submitted/accepted for Flame and Shadows #11, 'Encounters', published by Gloria Handley.