Magic Mirrors

(Part III - Chapters 11 through 15)




Chapter 11


Later, Vincent returned to his chamber with Catherine and Octavian. Octavian realized it was high time he gave the couple some answers to the questions he knew they had. After all three were seated comfortably, Octavian started the conversation.


“So, Vincent, did you have a talk with Catherine yet?”


Vincent looked at his uncle rather sheepishly. “I’m afraid not. Catherine and I ... We were... That is...” Vincent struggled to answer.


“We got a little distracted this morning.” Catherine finished for him.


Octavian grinned knowingly. “I understand. Kimberly and I still get distracted from time to time. Did you show her the photos? ”


“Photos?” Catherine asked.


Vincent eagerly produced the two snapshots Octavian had given him the night before. “This one is my parents.” Vincent softly informed her. Their names were Nikos and Natalya.”


“They’re wonderful, Vincent.” Catherine replied. The other photo quickly brought a grin to her face. “Now I wonder who this young man in his mother’s arms could be.”


Octavian grinned back. “I can’t imagine. That’s my father, Cadmus and my mother, Sylvia.”


“I can see where Vincent gets his blue eyes. He favors your mother.” Catherine teased.


“Doesn’t he, though?” Octavian teased back. Across the room, Vincent blushed scarlet.


“He favors your father and brother, too.” She continued more seriously. That brought Vincent’s head up in surprise.


Catherine...” he began in protest.


“I’m serious! Look at those shoulders and that profile! You look just like both of them, Vincent.”


“That’s the famous Demetrios jaw line, Catherine. All of the Demetrios men have always had strong chins. It’s a family trait.” Octavian put in proudly, stroking his own chin.


“Do you really think I look like them?” Vincent asked shyly, vainly trying to hide his exuberance.


“Oh, yes, my love.” She reassured him as she caressed his cheek. “Anyone can see it.”


Vincent couldn’t resist sweeping Catherine into his arms for an ardent kiss. Her reassurance meant more to him than all the photos in the world.


“Mhhmm.” Octavian cleared his throat. “Should I come back later?”


Catherine quickly broke the kiss and it was she who blushed this time. “No, it’s fine. We need to talk.”


“Yes,” Octavian agreed.


“Octavian,” Vincent interrupted. “Tell Catherine what you told me about our Bond.”


“It isn’t really gone, Catherine. It’s just muted because of your pregnancy.”


“Muted?’ She asked quizzically.


“Yes. The same thing happened during all three of Kimberly’s pregnancies and it’s been recorded several times in our family history,” Octavian informed them.


“Three pregnancies? But I thought you had four daughters.” Vincent interrupted again.


“I do. My two middle girls are twins. The oldest is Antonia; she’s an engineering student in Athens. The twins are Daphne and Delphinia, Delphi for short. They both just started at the University of the Aegean a few months ago. My youngest, Lydia was a bit of a surprise, but as pleasant one.”


“How old is she?” Catherine asked.


“Twelve going on twenty, or so she thinks,” he replied with a smile.


“They all sound wonderful.” Vincent commented.


“You may not feel so kindly about your cousins after you’ve met them, Vincent. All my girls can be trying at times,” Octavian said mildly.



“My cousins,” Vincent said softly, his voice filled with wonder. “I can’t wait.”


“I would like to hear more about the Bond and how it works, if you don’t mind.” Catherine spoke up.


“Of course. Well, that’s how we knew Kimberly was pregnant. The first two times, our ‘Bond’ as you call it, slowly faded over about a week. It didn’t come back until Kimberly was in her second trimester.”


“But, ours just shut down abruptly after that night in the cave,” Catherine protested.


Octavian nodded knowingly. “It happened like that for us when Kimberly was carrying Lydia. One day, I woke up to Kimberly pounding me on the head with a pillow. I asked her what was wrong. She looked me right in the eyes and said, ‘Guess!’ It was then I suddenly realized our connection was closed off. Three weeks later, the doctor confirmed it.”


“But why does this happen?” Catherine wondered aloud.


“I have a theory on that myself. It’s only speculation, of course, since there is no scientific way to prove it. I think the bond being muted is a way to protect the baby. The connection between the Demetrios men with this condition and our chosen mate is quite intense to say the least. I think shutting down the mate connection allows time for the mother to develop her own bond with her baby unhindered. Scientists know from research how important a connection is between mother and child. It only stands to reason that any other connection might interfere,” Octavian stated emphatically.


“That’s true,” Vincent agreed. “The first trimester is also a critical time in the baby’s neural development. Perhaps closing down the bond protects them somehow in that respect.”


“Exactly!” Octavian smiled in reply. “But I promise you, it will return, Catherine. You’ll feel it soon.’


“Thank you, Octavian,” she replied a bit misty eyed. “You’ve set my mind at ease.” Unfortunately, she was unable to hold back a huge yawn as fatigue quickly overcame her.


Octavian chuckled at Vincent’s anxious look and put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “Calm down, Vincent. Catherine and the baby just need a nap. Kimberly once fell asleep at the table eating breakfast when she was carrying the twins.”


Sheepishly, Vincent smiled and scooped Catherine up. Within moments, she was comfortably tucked back into Vincent’s bed.


“You see to your mate and child, nephew. I’m going back to the guest chamber. Come find me when you’re done and we’ll talk more,” Octavian finished as he headed out into the tunnel.







Chapter 12


It was over an hour before Vincent finally made his way to the guest chamber. Catherine had fallen into a deep sleep almost immediately; but Vincent hadn’t been able to bring himself to leave her right away. He had been overcome as the enormity of the changes that had been wrought in his life recently finally hit home.


Catherine had returned to him safely, and he was now going to be a father. More importantly, the mystery of his origins had been largely solved and he discovered he had another family, one with a long, rich history. All in all, it had been an eventful twenty four hours.


As he neared the chamber, he paused at the sound of voices. It seemed James had returned.


“My friend in the Justice Department is as disappointed as we are. He was really looking forward to putting Moreno away for life.” James was saying.


“How did he do it?” Octavian asked.


“Shot himself, in his office no less. A janitor found him this morning. Word of Gabriel’s death leaked out and the Justice Department has wasted no time rounding up most of his associates. Moreno realized he was next,” James replied sourly.


“Damn!” Octavian cursed. “I was looking forward to knowing he was rotting in jail!”


“It gets worse! He left behind a suicide note. In it, he confessed to everything. It turns out he was the one who tipped Gabriel off about Patrick Hanlon meeting Joe Maxwell. He had the phones in his own office bugged. He also confessed to betraying Catherine and turning her over to Gabriel. Octavian, Moreno was having her followed. He knew she was pregnant when he turned her over,” James finished quietly.


Outside in the hallway, Vincent gasped for air as a white hot anger blossomed in his chest. The idea of anyone, let alone a man Catherine trusted, betraying her and their child filled Vincent with a rage so strong, he literally saw red. Not since his madness had his emotions been so out of control, and they almost overwhelmed him. He must have made a noise because Octavian quickly appeared in the doorway.


“Vincent!” he exclaimed in concern.


Vainly, Vincent fought to maintain his control and hide his condition from his uncle. Finally, in desperation, he began running through the tunnels at top speed, hoping to somehow outrun the darkness threatening to overtake him. At last, he came to a little used part of the tunnels and leaned against the wall, fighting the chaos that swelled up in him. Someone touched his shoulder and he whirled to find his uncle standing next to him.


“Let it out, Vincent! You can’t hold this in! Do you want to go mad again? For Heaven’s sake, nephew, release your anger!”  Octavian urged.


Unable to hold back any longer, Vincent began to howl, roaring his anger at Catherine’s betrayal as he pounded his fists on the unyielding stone walls. Always before at times like this, Vincent had fought valiantly to keep his control, schooled by years of cautious warnings from Father.


 But, now he vented his pain and anger fully, even picking up several large boulders and hurtling them against the walls repeatedly until they shattered. He screamed out his anger until he was hoarse and his arms had no more strength. Exhausted, his rage spent at last, he fell to his knees and began to weep. Octavian knelt next to him and put a comforting arm around his shoulders.


“I’m sorry, Octavian! I’m so sorry,” Vincent gasped through his tears.


“What in God’s name for?” Octavian shot back.


“I lost myself! It isn’t the first time,” he replied weakly.


“Nonsense!” Octavian scoffed. “We all lose control sometimes; I understand!”


“No!” Vincent protested as he stood up, his eyes still a little wild. “You don’t! I’ve done things; things I can never forget; things that will make you ashamed of me!”


“You mean killed, Vincent?” Octavian asked quietly.


“Tell him about the monastery,” an equally soft voice called from the doorway. It was James. He had finally caught up to them.


Octavian heaved a sigh. “James, you don’t have to do this.”


“Yes, I do, Octavian. Do you know how we two met, Vincent? No? Well, let me tell you. It was in Bhutan. I was doing security work for a medical missionary group. Back then, it wasn’t the peaceful country it is today; especially in the northern region near China where the monastery is. Back then, it was plagued by bandits. That’s why the others and I were hired for protection.” James sat down on one of the few remaining stones and settled in. “Boy, was I a piece of work!” He shook his head in disgust. “Fresh out of the Foreign Legion…I thought I owned the world! What an idiot I was!”


“The French Foreign Legion?” Vincent exclaimed in astonishment, his grief momentarily forgotten as he got caught up in the narrative. He sat down as well.


“That’s the one!” he agreed. Octavian grinned and joined them.


“You’re probably wondering what I was doing there in Bhutan, right?” Octavian broke in. Vincent nodded in reply.


“The head of the medical missionaries was a doctor and an old friend of my father. He suggested the trip. I don’t think I’ve told you, Vincent, but my parents died tragically as well only three years before your father. They were killed in a plane crash coming back from Athens. After I lost Nikos too, I’m afraid I went a little mad myself. Suddenly, I was utterly alone without any family at all. I simply couldn’t stand to stay on Katos. Everywhere I turned, I was reminded of all that I had lost. That’s why I went to Bhutan. My friend bandaged me up like a mummy and concocted the story of a horribly scarred accident victim who needed a quiet place to recover. Thankfully, no one asked many questions. The monastery is completely cut off part of the time during the winter months, so my friend thought it would be a good place to recover myself safely undisturbed. The village is small and not very populated and the monks are a contemplative order. They observe silence for the most part and keep to themselves.”


“Unfortunately, the snow came early that year. The medical team barely got out before the trail became impassable.” James continued the narrative. “I volunteered to stay behind with the equipment. I didn’t realize I’d be trapped there for weeks.”


Octavian couldn’t hold back a snicker. “This idiot actually thought he could ride a yak down a three foot wide mountain pass filled with snow in the middle of the night.”


“It was a good thing your uncle saw me leave. I hadn’t gotten thirty yards down the trail before a mini-avalanche hit the yak and almost sent me over the cliff with it. If Octavian hadn’t followed me, I would have died. Luckily for me, he did. ”


“I left so quickly, I forgot my bandages. It was quite a shock for both of us.” Octavian added humorously.


“Your uncle kept me sane during those two months, Vincent. I would have gone mad if it hadn’t been for him. I was like a wild tiger in a cage. As it was, I still nearly managed to get myself and everyone else in the monastery killed,” James said.


“You’re being too hard on yourself, old friend,” Octavian protested.


But, James shook his head and continued. “It’s something I’ve had to learn to live with, and we both know it. The monastery had few rules, but those that they did have were supposed to be obeyed by everyone. One of the most important was that after sundown, the main gate stayed closed. No one went in or out. Simple, right? Well, one night I volunteered to relieve the monk who had guard duty on the gate. He wasn’t gone ten minutes before someone knocked and asked to come in. I looked out and saw what I thought was a young woman. She said she was lost and needed shelter. Fool that I was, I opened that gate. Instantly, twelve armed men came rushing in. I’d left my gun back in my room. They were mostly armed with swords and knives, but there were too many. They had me down before I knew what hit me. Out of nowhere came this enraged roar. Suddenly, your uncle was there like an avenging angel. He saved my life, Vincent. Unfortunately, he had to kill almost a dozen men with his bare hands to do it!”


“What James is trying to say, Vincent, is that both of us have had to kill in the past to protect those that we care about. We’re no different than you,” Octavian said gently.


“I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have regrets, Vincent. But, torturing yourself with guilt and self loathing will only destroy you,” James informed him. “You have to find a way to make peace with yourself. It’s not easy, but it’s the only way.”


Vincent heaved a heavy sigh and knew both men were right. It would do no good to go on the way he had in the past. Besides, he had Catherine and their unborn child to consider. Impulsively, he embraced both men in thanks for the priceless wisdom they had given him.







Chapter 13


The next few days passed blissfully for the tunnel community. Octavian fit into their little group with seamless ease. He and Father even formed a strong friendship almost immediately. Before long, Octavian’s defeat at chess over a pot of tea became a daily occurrence for the two older men. Vincent and Catherine grew closer as well as Catherine slowly began to heal from her ordeal with her beloved’s help.


But, the peace was interrupted one day when an urgent message arrived from James, asking Octavian and Vincent to come to Dr. Alcott’s home immediately. Concerned for her new friends, Catherine insisted on accompanying them. The trio traveled from the tunnels into Peter’s basement, only to find it empty and dark. Cautiously, Vincent and Octavian began to make their way up the stairs while Catherine waited safely at the tunnel entrance.


“I’m telling you he’s down here!”


Suddenly, the door on the landing above them burst open and a small form hurtled itself towards them down the stairs and slammed right into Vincent. Automatically, Vincent reached out to steady the person in front of him. From the dim light of the doorway, he could just make out features of a young girl with almost platinum blonde hair and cobalt blue eyes. He instantly froze as she lifted her gaze to look directly at him. “AHHHH!”


Vincent winced at her earsplitting shriek and braced himself for the inevitable reaction to come. But what she did next caught him completely off guard. Instead of reacting with fear, the young girl impetuously threw herself at Vincent and grabbed his neck in a hold worthy of a pro wrestler while shrieking, “He found you!” at the top of her lungs.


Lydia.” Octavian exclaimed behind him in exasperation. “Let go of your cousin this instant! You’ll strangle poor Vincent before he even gets to meet you!”


Lydia quickly released Vincent and promptly plastered herself onto Octavian. “Daddy!”


James appeared at the top of the stairs and turned on the light. “Blast it, Lydia! I told you to wait for me! Sorry, Octavian. I tried to stop her.”


Lydia released her father and rolled her eyes dramatically. “Uncle James, I told you he was down here.”


Just then she noticed Catherine, who had moved to the bottom of the stairs. Lydia would have hugged her impulsively too, but Octavian put a restraining hand on his daughter’s shoulder. “Gently, Lydia. Catherine’s expecting.” Carefully, the girl embraced her as well.


The sounds of other voices soon reached them.


“Are you sure she went down there?”


“I think so. Lydia can track Dad like a bloodhound.”


“What in Heaven’s name is Dad doing in a basement?”


“You know your father, dear. If there’s something down there of interest, he’ll find it.”


Vincent, Octavian and James quickly vacated the stairs to make room for the new arrivals. The first person through the door was a very tall, but statuesque brunette who reminded Vincent of the ancient tales he’d read about Amazons.  She was only a few inches shorter than Vincent himself.  Following her were two other women, both brunettes as well, though they were more Catherine’s height. Their faces were mirror images of each other, but the similarity ended there. One was quite well dressed in highly fashionable clothing while the other sported a distinctly grunge look of a heavy metal t-shirt and ripped jeans. All three smiled brightly as soon as they saw the group below.


“I told you I’d find him,” Lydia informed them proudly.


“See, I told you she’s part bloodhound,” the grungy one quipped.


“I still want to know why we’re all in a basement,” her well dressed twin shot back.


“Excuse me, girls. But I’d like to see your father,” a soft voice spoke up from behind them. The group parted and an amazingly petite woman with fiery red hair and amber eyes stepped forward toward Octavian. Immediately, he swept her up into an embrace as he lowered his mouth to hers for an ardent kiss.


“Mom, Dad! Not in front of everybody! This is sooo embarrassing!” Lydia protested in typical teenager fashion.


The taller woman took the initiative and came down the stairs with her hand extended. “I think it’s safe to assume that you’re our missing cousin that Dad’s been looking for. I’m Antonia. Glad to meet you.”


“Vincent,” Vincent replied, still a little stunned and tongue tied by the events of the past few minutes. Still, he shook her hand politely.


‘This is Delphi.” She continued as the well dressed twin stepped up.


“I’m Delphina. I’m very pleased to make your acquaintance, Vincent.” She offered, putting emphasis on her full name. Though her manner was a bit formal, her gaze was warm


The last girl sauntered up slowly. “You can call her Delphi. We all do. She’s just being stuffy.” That earned her a dirty look from her officious twin. “I’m Daphne. Don’t mind me. I’m the comic relief in this bunch.” Vincent couldn’t hold back a grin.


“Octavian, darling, you really should put me down now. We’re not alone, you know,” Kimberly said gently.


“Tell them to go away!” Octavian growled in reply as he gently nuzzled her cheek. Catherine couldn’t hold back her laughter any longer. Octavian released his wife with a reluctant sigh. “Kimberly, I’d like you to meet our nephew, Vincent.”


The tiny woman smiled up at Vincent and gave him a gentle hug. “Welcome to our family, Vincent. We’ve all been looking forward to meeting you.”


Just then, Peter appeared at the top of the stairs and looked around quizzically. “What did I miss?” They all began laughing together.







Chapter 14


Vincent returned to his chamber and paused in the doorway for a moment to drink in one of the most glorious sights he had ever seen. Catherine was in his bed, snuggled down under the blankets. Her honeyed hair glowed in the soft light from Vincent’s stained glass window as her head rested on the pillow. Though her eyes were closed, Vincent sensed she wasn’t asleep.


The gentle smile of happiness on her face reminded him of the precious gift they now both shared nestled safely within her. He had to blink away tears of gratitude as the joy he felt swelled in his chest. Contentedly, he heaved a great sigh. Catherine’s eyes flew open at the sound, and her smile widened in welcome.  Automatically, he went to sit beside her.


“Did Kimberly get settled in all right?” She asked.


“Yes. She was quite pleased with the guest chamber.” Vincent replied.


“I’m glad Father agreed to let Lydia room with Samantha. They really have hit it off together. Kimberly told me this evening that there are no other children on Katos Lydia’s age; they are all much older or younger. I think she was pleased Lydia has found a friend about her own age.” Catherine said.


Vincent chuckled. “I think Lydia was pleased as well. Did you see the way she hugged Father?”


Catherine joined in. “Did you see the look on his face when she hugged him?”


Vincent grinned as he rubbed his neck. “Well, I can say from experience that she can be a bit… enthusiastic.”


“That’s an understatement.” Catherine replied. “But I don’t think the look on Father’s face could hold a candle to Pascal’s expression when Daphne started played Chopsticks on the pipes in the pipe chamber during their tour of the tunnels.  I thought he would pass out.”


Vincent laughed outright this time and Catherine reveled in the sound. “True, but she did make up for it after dinner with her impromptu concert. I must confess though, she hardly looks the part of a classical violinist.”


“Antonia certainly seemed to be in her element with Cullen. They were so engrossed on talking about the way the tunnels were made; I think they forgot everyone else was there. If Antonia wasn’t engaged to James’ son, I’d have thought Cullen met his match.” Catherine teased.


Vincent smiled in reply, but couldn’t hold back a small frown. “I confess though, Delphi has me puzzled. I think she enjoyed herself, but she wasn’t as outgoing as her sisters.”


“Don’t worry.” Catherine reassured him. “Kimberly told me that’s just her personality. She takes a little more time to get to know people. You should have heard her mother describe how Delphi behaved at Peter’s office. I laughed so hard my sides hurt. Kimberly told me that she knew something was going on with Octavian. She could feel it. James tried to tell her Octavian was travelling and couldn’t be reached.  But, she didn’t believe him. That’s when she called the hotel and found out about them summoning Peter to Octavian’s suite.”


Catherine paused to sit up and resettle herself before she continued. “She planned on coming to New York alone, but Lydia overheard her on the phone and called her sisters. Kimberly said the girls intercepted her at the airport and refused to stay behind in Greece. They all went straight from the airport to Peter’s office. Kimberly wanted to make an appointment to talk to him, but Delphi charged right in and threatened to break Peter’s kneecaps if he didn’t tell them where Octavian was! Fortunately, he called James. It’s just a shame that she, Daphne and Antonia had to leave so quickly. But, Octavian says they are right in the middle of the term so they have to go back to Greece. They’re all something, aren’t they?”


Vincent took Catherine’s hand into his own and gazed down at her lovingly. “Do you feel all right, Catherine?”


She laughed lightly. “I think I should be asking you that question, Vincent. I’m not the one who met the rest of his family for the first time today.” She then said a phrase so familiar to them both, it had him smiling again. “Tell me.”


Vincent paused as if gathering his thoughts for a moment. The, he moved closer and took her into his arms. “Do you remember that night in the music chamber when I told you that there were no words to describe how I felt that night?”


“Yes. “ She replied softly as she returned his loving gaze. “But you found one. Blessed.” 


“I thought that night was the happiest in my life, and it was up until then. But it cannot compare with the joy I’ve experienced since the night you were returned to me. Every second, every single breath I’ve drawn since then has been a magical gift I could have never conceived of. Now I have you, our child, Octavian and his family; my life and my soul are complete.” Vincent finished tenderly as he kissed her.


Their passion flared but was quickly interrupted by a soft tapping on the pipes. Vincent sighed in regret as he rested his forehead against hers. “It’s Father. He wants to see me. I’ll tell him to wait until tomorrow.”


But, Catherine intervened. “No. It’s all right. You know you two need to talk. Don’t you think you’ve both put it off long enough?”


Vincent didn’t even try pretend ignorance. Since Octavian’s arrival and Catherine’s return, he and Father had avoided the inevitable discussion both knew was destined to happen. Catherine was pregnant and he himself was going to be a father soon. In addition, his uncle was living proof that all of Father’s previous fears and cautions were groundless. Both Vincent and Father’s perceptions of the world as they knew it had been altered forever.


“I’ll return soon, love.” Vincent murmured as he dropped a gentle kiss onto Catherine’s forehead. She nodded in response and snuggled back down. Vincent smiled again.


As he went to Father’s chamber, Vincent marveled once again at how easily Catherine slipped into life Below. Since her return, they had settled into a comfortable routine. Each morning they would awaken, wrapped firmly in each other’s arms. Vincent would go to the dining hall to fetch them both breakfast while Catherine dressed. While Catherine prepared the tea, Vincent would get dressed himself, and they soon enjoyed a quiet meal together before starting their day.


Though Vincent still had duties within the community, he temporarily withdrew from the heavier tasks that might take him too far from the main tunnels for too long. Catherine, by necessity, remained close to the chamber, spending her time reading or visiting with the various tunnel folk and Octavian. Though much stronger, Catherine and their child needed more time to completely recover from their captivity.


The lovers would reunite in the dining hall for lunch and dinner before retiring. Each night they would gently come together, renewing their love in a tender burst of passion. Catherine still tired easily and often drifted off long before Vincent, wrapped securely in the safe haven of his warm embrace.


Once he was certain she was sleeping, Vincent would occupy himself reading, writing quietly in his journal, or merely staring at the beautiful woman asleep in his bed as he silently thanked every power of heaven for gifting her to him. Not once had Catherine mentioned returning Above.


Vincent entered Father’s chamber to find him sitting at his desk. As he saw Vincent enter, the older man slowly rose and hugged his beloved son. “Vincent, I’m glad you came. I hope I didn’t disturb you. How is Catherine?”


“Resting. But you didn’t disturb us, Father. I’ve been meaning to talk to you for several days now,” Vincent replied gently.


Father hesitated before he spoke. “Yes, I’ve been meaning to talk to you as well.” He would have continued, but Vincent held up his hand and broke in.


“Father, we both know the past few days have changed our lives forever. Catherine has returned to me, and soon I will be a father myself. Moreover, Octavian has come into my life and answered questions that have haunted me since the day of my birth. But, all these changes have only made me realize how fortunate I was to have a father as loving and giving as you.” Vincent’s eyes grew luminous with unshed tears as he regarded his parent. “No son could have asked for a better, more honorable man to be his father. No matter what happens or what changes come, I will always love you for that. If I am half the parent to my child that you have been to me, I will consider myself truly blessed.”


Father’s own eyes began to water at Vincent’s heartfelt declaration, and he reached for his handkerchief to wipe them. Quickly, he embraced his son again, and his voice was hoarse with emotion as he spoke. “No father could have asked for a more loving son. Talking with Octavian has made me realize how wrong I was to try to keep you and Catherine apart. Can you ever forgive an old man for letting his own mistakes cloud his judgment?”


Vincent returned his hug strongly. “There’s nothing to forgive. I want you to be the first to know. I’m going to ask Catherine to become my wife, Father.”


To his delight, Father chuckled. “Good. I’ve always thought of her as a daughter. This place certainly could use a woman’s touch.” He indicated the room with its scattered books and contents. ‘Maybe she can help bring some order to all this.”


Vincent chuckled as well. ‘I don’t think even Catherine can manage that, Father.”







Chapter 15


The days Below that followed were tranquil. No emergency or dramatic turn interrupted the quiet peace of the tunnels. Unfortunately, it could not last forever. One day, Catherine received another mysterious message from James asking that she come to Peter’s home again. The mystery only deepened when the message specifically asked her not to tell Vincent or Octavian about her visit.


Peter met Catherine at the tunnel entrance and escorted her into his den where James was waiting. ‘I’ll leave you two to talk,” Peter said as he departed. “I have to go see a patient at the hospital, but I’ll be back later.”


“Hello, Catherine,” James greeted her warmly.


“Hello James.”  She took the hand that he offered her as they sat down.


“I appreciate you meeting me. I’m also glad you did as I asked. I really wanted to talk to you without Octavian or Vincent here,” James continued.


“There are still a great many things you and Vincent don’t know about,” James sighed heavily. “Octavian would have my head if he knew I was talking to you, but Kimberly and I agree that you both deserve to know everything. We decided it would be better to talk to you and then let you make the decision whether to tell Vincent and when. We felt you were better able to deal with what I have to tell you.” Intrigued and more than a bit concerned, Catherine gave him her undivided attention.


“Catherine, have you ever heard of the Demeter Corporation?” Catherine blinked at the name, recognizing it instantly.


“Of course; it’s a huge company. Isn’t it into shipping?” She asked curiously.


“Among other things, “James smiled. “You see, Octavian is the Demeter Corporation. Well, more accurately, he owns and controls it.” Catherine couldn’t stop her mouth from dropping open in shock.


“Octavian can’t play chess worth a damn; but when it comes to finances, he’s a genius. In fact, he’s one of the wealthiest men in the world. That’s where I’ve come in. Ever since we first met, Octavian has been more like my family that my own ever was. Everything I have or have become I owe to him.  In return, I’ve made it my mission to watch out for and protect him and his family; sort of like I suspect you have done for Vincent and his tunnel family. Am I right?”


Catherine blushed, but said nothing. “What I’m trying to tell you is that as Octavian’s nephew, Vincent is heir to a very large fortune, larger that yours Catherine. No offense intended. Octavian has made some arrangements concerning that, but I’ll let him discuss that with you. What I wanted to talk to you about was your own safety and that of the tunnels. I’ve made some arrangements of my own, especially in light of some of the things Peter and Father have told me. My company has an office here in New York staffed by people I can trust. I’ve given the number to several helpers and made special plans in case of another emergency. If anything does happen, I’ll have some of my best people there in minutes. The tunnel community doesn’t have to rely on Vincent alone for their security anymore.”


Catherine hugged the man that she owed so much to including her rescue. “Thank you, James. I can’t tell you how much this means to me. I owe you everything including my life.”


“No. Thank you and Vincent. You’ve both finally given me a way to repay Octavian for all he’s given and meant to me over the years,” James replied. “There’s just one more thing, Catherine. So far, the only people who know what has happened to you are me and my friend in the Justice department, and even he doesn’t know the whole truth. He only knows that you are connected with my employer, the Demeter Corporation somehow and that we’ve been keeping you in a safe location. The problem is your friend, the new D.A., Joe Maxwell. He’s been pushing hard for federal authorities to continue investigating your whereabouts. It could put you in danger. My friend wants to take him into our confidence, but only with your approval. I could set up a meeting here. But the final decision is yours.”


Catherine’s brow furrowed as she took in what James was telling her. “Can I think about it?”


“Of course,” James smiled.


Just then, Octavian arrived and seemed surprised to see Catherine there. “Hello James. Catherine, what brings you here?” he asked, frowning deeply.


“Don’t blame her, old friend. This was my doing. I thought she had a right to know what she was getting herself into, falling in with you.”  James shot her a wink as Octavian’s frown deepened. “Seriously, Catherine and I had some things to discuss. She’s stronger that either you or Vincent thinks; kind of like another lady I know named Kimberly,” he continued. “Here are those papers you wanted, Octavian. The rest is up to you.  Catherine, I’ll be waiting to hear your decision.”


Catherine smiled gently and kissed him on the cheek as he departed. She then turned her attention to the other man who had made her happiness possible.


“Blast it!” Octavian exclaimed. “I didn’t want James burdening you with any of this yet! The last thing I’ve wanted to do was disrupt Vincent’s life for my own selfish need to know him!”


Catherine smiled at him as well. “Octavian, James is right. I’m stronger than I look.”


Octavian smiled ruefully. “How much did he tell you?”




“Well, you might as well see everything, then,” he replied as he sat down. Carefully, he pulled out and examined the papers James had handed him. He paused for a minute as he examined them. At last, he heaved a heavy sigh. “Perhaps, it’s best that James has talked to you. I can let you and Vincent decide how he wants to proceed with things. Catherine, you know the last thing I’ve wanted to do is to change or cause any upheaval in Vincent’s life; but, I’m also a realist, and I know sometimes things can happen beyond our control. That’s why I’ve chosen to make some contingency plans in case Vincent, you, or your tunnel family should ever need anything. I also want to protect you both, and your child, in every way possible.” He took a deep breath before continuing.


“To that end, I’ve set up a trust fund here, in a bank owned by my corporation. They can provide you any funds you may require, should the need arise. I’ve made arrangements for both you and Peter to have access.”  Octavian hesitated, and Catherine could see he was struggling with something.  She rushed to reassure him, placing her hand on his.


“Octavian, whatever you have to say, I’m sure it’s going to be all right. Nothing you say could be so terrible that it could ever change the way Vincent and I feel about you.”


“I’m not a complete fool, Catherine. I know that there may come a day where you or Vincent need the protection and security that the Demetrios name and money can provide. That’s why I had James arrange this.” He handed Catherine a packet of papers.


With a practiced lawyer’s eye, she quickly examined them. Her eyes widened as she recognized the document. Though she couldn’t read all the details, she was able to discern that it was obviously a birth certificate with the name Vincent Demetrios on it. In addition, there were adoption papers in English and Greek granting custody of Vincent Demetrios to Jacob Wells. There was also another certificate Catherine couldn’t make out.


“That’s proof of Vincent’s Greek citizenship, should he ever need it.” Octavian explained.


 But it was the last document that had her gaping once again in shock. There, in her hand she held a diplomatic passport in the name of Vincent Wells with a special seal in place of the photo.    


“I hope Vincent will never need these, Catherine. But if there is some emergency, Vincent can not only claim Greek citizenship, but could travel there legally as well. This might not solve everything that could happen, but at least it will provide him some protection.”


‘Oh, Octavian, this it wonderful; I don’t know what to say. How did you manage all this?” Catherine exclaimed.


“I have a few connections within the Greek government. These items were registered quietly at the highest level, so only a few people have access or even know they exist.  Peter was kind enough to provide me with an affidavit attesting to Vincent’s birth. The rest was really very simple. I hope to Heaven he never needs any of this, but if he does…” Octavian broke off there.


“I leave it to you to decide if you want to share this with Vincent,” Octavian concluded.


“I’m sure he’ll appreciate all of this, Octavian. We both will.” Catherine said softly as she embraced this generous man so like the one she loved so dearly.


Later, Catherine showed Vincent the sheaf of documents Octavian had given her. She contemplated what to do about them, but knew she couldn’t deny her beloved anything. He shook his head in wonder. “Catherine, I never hoped or even dreamed…” He simply couldn’t continue, he was so overcome. She wrapped her arms around him as he wept at what these few documents represented; a validation of his very existence.


Vincent drew Catherine onto his lap as he sat in his favorite chair; and they cuddled close, enjoying a tender lovers’ embrace. “My heart is full, Catherine,” he informed her as he brushed his mouth lightly over the crown of her head. “Only one thing more would complete my happiness.” He drew back to gaze at her soulfully. “Will you consent to become my wife, Catherine?”


Catherine choked on the tears in her throat. “Nothing would make me happier, Vincent.”

Ardently, they kissed.


Though hastily arranged, Catherine and Vincent’s joining ceremony was one of the largest anyone in the Tunnels could remember. The day before, a mysteriously anonymous buyer bought every red and white rose available from every flower shop in the Manhattan area. With a little help from Octavian and Peter, William put on a wedding feast that rivaled Winterfest. Even Devin and Charles managed to arrive in time. His reaction to meeting Octavian was classic Devin behavior.


“Great, just great!” he complained good naturedly. “As if one of you wasn’t aggravating enough! Now, not only have you got me outsized, little brother; now I’m out numbered as well!”


All too soon, the festivities ended, and Vincent and Catherine were alone in their chamber. “Happy, Mr. Wells?” Catherine teased form her perch on his lap as they rested, finally catching their collective breath from the whirlwind activities of the day.


“Ecstatic, Mrs. Wells,” he replied jovially. Devin had been teasing them both about their new names for days. 


Catherine grew serious as she looked her beloved Vincent in the eye. “Vincent, we’ve been through so much together over these past three years. But I want you to know. I wouldn’t change one minute of it. I loved you the first moment I met you, and I will love you until my last breath,” she vowed.


Vincent gazed back at her with equal tenderness. “Catherine, I feel the same. I was never truly alive until I experienced your love. Now, with you and our child…” His voice trailed off as he gently rested his hand on the small bulge of her abdomen.  “My soul is complete. There will never be words enough to tell you how much I love you.”


Catherine’s eye developed a decidedly mischievous gleam as she grinned. “Well then, Mr. Wells, perhaps you’d better just show me.”  And he did just that.