THE ULTIMATE WINTERFEST SURPRISE
BY KATHY DE
Vincent woke slowly and stared in wonder at Catherine sleeping in his arms. He nuzzled her neck and smiled when she sighed aloud.
“Good morning,” she whispered.
“I’m sorry, Catherine. Did I wake you?” Vincent wondered.
“No…” She snuggled back against him and sighed. “Hold me tighter…”
Vincent scooted up closer to her and put his arms around her. He thought she had fallen back to sleep when his body responded to hers and he felt himself harden. Catherine surprised him when her backside rubbed against his length and he sucked in a breath at the unfamiliar sensation. He started to back up when she reached back and grabbed his hip, stopping him from moving away.
“Don’t move away…” she purred contentedly.
“Mom?!” Devin’s voice sounded from the doorway “Mom? Are you awake?”
Vincent backed away from her and tried to get his body under control while Catherine pushed herself up to a sitting position.
“I am now…” she said tiredly.
“Sorry…we’re heading to breakfast…wanna come?”
Catherine sighed and fell back to her pillow. “We just ate!”
Charles stepped next to his brother. “That was over ten hours ago.”
“What time is it?” Catherine gasped.
“I don’t know…there’s no clocks anywhere down here…Jacob said it’s around 11:00.”
Vincent had controlled his lower body by then and got to his feet. “I’ll show you boys later how to tell time with candles.”
He sat in a chair and slipped socks on his feet while Jacob popped his head into the room. “Are they awake?” he whispered. Seeing everyone was in fact awake, he walked in carrying a huge tray of food. “Lunch is in an hour and William said we already got an extra meal out of him last night. He did let me scarf a snack though.”
After he set the tray down on Vincent’s table, the boys piled on the chairs surrounding it and began to dig into the treats on the trays. Muffins, scones and croissants were quickly slathered with butter and popped into hungry mouths.
Vincent sat down and leaned in to grab the coffee and pour a cup. He turned and handed it to Catherine as she came up behind him.
“Where’s mom gonna sit?” Charles mumbled through a mouth stuffed full with a banana muffin.
Devin and Jacob flushed with embarrassment while Catherine smiled and sipped her coffee. “I’m okay, you boys eat.”
Devin said something unintelligible and Vincent stared at him. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch what you said.”
Charles rolled his eyes as he swallowed. “That’s because his mouth is stuffed so full he can’t chew.”
Jacob laughed aloud as he looked at Vincent. “He said Mom could sit on your lap.”
Vincent leaned back and Catherine sat on his knee with her coffee cup cradled between her hands. He held his arm around her for support and she smiled at him then looked back at the nearly empty tray. “If you’d like I’ll risk personal injury and reach in and grab a muffin for you.”
The boys had the grace to blush and swallow their food.
Charles handed her a blueberry muffin and a croissant. “Here, Mom.”
“Thank you, Charles. May I have the butter please?”
Devin immediately passed her the bowl with butter in it while Jacob grabbed a plate and knife. Jacob grabbed some fruit as well and passed it to Vincent.
Catherine buttered the muffin then put it in front of Vincent while she tore off small bites from her croissant.
“You guys gonna want more?” Devin wondered at his parents.
“Devin!” Charles hissed.
Jacob smiled. “Don’t forget, it’s almost lunchtime and William made barbecue chicken.”
“Okay…I can wait,” Devin sighed.
“Boys…eat up…your mother and I can wait until lunch,” Vincent offered.
Devin’s eyes lit up as he grabbed for another muffin. Charles looked at Jacob for approval and at Jacob’s shrug they both grabbed for the remaining muffins.
Catherine giggled as she looked at Vincent and popped another piece of bread in her mouth. “They’re all yours.”
He looked at his sons then back at her and smiled wondrously. “They are aren’t they?”
She leaned her forehead against his then kissed his cheek. The boys shot up from their seats and started to clean up the remains of their ‘snack.’
“Hey, Dad?” Devin turned to Vincent. “Jacob said you guys had some work that needed to be done around here for some party…was it Winterfest…”
“Yes, unfortunately there’s always something that needs to be done.”
Charles nodded. “Maybe you can show us where we can help and we could work…you know…take on some chores.”
Vincent smiled. “That would be great and welcome but we also need to assess your education level so we can continue your schooling.”
The boys shot looks at Catherine who rushed to explain. “The boys finished college level courses in math and science years ago and they both loved to read so they’re probably close to college levels in English and history.”
“What about the arts?”
“If you mean drawing and stuff Devin and I have been making architectural plans for years.” Charles supplied.
Vincent smiled. “No, I mean art and music appreciation, the reading of classic poetry, Shakespeare’s tragedies, Picasso, Rembrandt, music like Bach and Beethoven…”
Devin groaned and hid the face he made towards Charles. “Rembrandt is toothpaste and Beethoven is a Disney movie…”
Catherine giggled. “That’s close honey, but perhaps some class time with your father will help you get an alternate explanation.”
Jacob laughed. “Don’t worry, Dad makes class interesting, its Grandpa you have to watch out for…”
The twins followed Jacob out the door and through the tunnels.
Catherine looked at Vincent. “Your knee has to be killing you by now.”
She went to get up and he pulled her back with a gentle tug. “No, I like having you this close.”
She turned in her seat and put her arms around his neck. “And I like being this close to you. It felt like heaven lying in your arms last night.”
“For me too.”
“Do you think if we spent the day in here anyone would notice?”
Vincent looked down shyly. “I know there is a whole community waiting to greet you and Jenny’s kids have been going crazy since Joe mentioned you were alive.”
Catherine sighed. “Duty calls.”
“I’ll get dressed then if you promise me one thing…”
“What is it, Catherine?”
She took his hands in hers and lowered her head. “Will you promise me that we’ll work towards being together…truly together?”
Vincent knew she was asking him if he would try to make love to her. She didn’t know that years ago he had blamed himself and that he vowed if he could relive it all over again, he would try to move their relationship forward. He gently lifted her face to look into her eyes. “Catherine, I love you, and I promise you, one day soon…we will be together as you wish.”
He kissed her and Catherine melted into his arms. “I love you, Vincent.”
The entire day was filled with friends and families as the tunnel community celebrated Catherine’s return and the welcoming of Charles and Devin into the community.
Catherine gushed over each of Jenny and Joe’s girls and laughed at young Joey’s antics while Jenny watched humorously as her eldest daughters become tongue tied around Charles and Devin.
Catherine got chilled and Vincent got up to get her a sweater. He was on his way to the laundry chamber when he spotted Joe.
“What’s up with you? Everything okay? You look…worried?”
Joe laughed. “Reliving last night?!”
“Cathy’s first night back…must’ve been a hell of a homecoming!” Joe grinned wickedly.
Vincent gasped. “No!”
Joe frowned as he tilted his head to the side. “Things okay between you and Radcliffe?”
“Yes…that’s not it…”
“Look, Vincent, we’ve been through a lot over the years…I consider you one of my best friends so...just spill it, will ya.”
Vincent shook his head. “Not here…”
Joe followed him to an empty classroom chamber and frowned as he saw Vincent struggle to start the conversation.
Joe shrugged. “You two having a hard time…reconnecting?” At Vincent’s silence, Joe continued. “Look, Cathy just got back and everyone was tired…I wouldn’t expect too much the first night.”
Vincent sighed aloud. “That’s not the problem, Joe.”
“There was no…re-connecting…in fact…I…don’t remember…connecting with her the first time!”
“What?!” Joe realized Vincent was serious and immediately looked contrite; he leaned against a nearby desk. “Sorry…you gotta admit it’s kind of an odd statement for a father of three…”
“I wasn’t exactly present for the last two.”
“Part of you was,” Joe laughed. Seeing Vincent didn’t find the humor in it, Joe apologized. “Sorry…but…I mean…I understand about Charles and Devin but what about Jacob?”
“I was sick when Jacob was conceived…I…don’t remember any of it.”
“Okay…” Joe shrugged with confusion until a thought popped into his head and he gasped as he realized what Vincent was trying not to say. “Are you trying to tell me that you’ve only done it once in your life?” Vincent blushed and looked away and Joe blew out a long breath. “And you don’t remember it…man that sucks!”
“You see my dilemma…”
“Wait, Cathy still spent the night in your chamber last night what’d you do?”
Vincent shrugged. “Nothing…she was exhausted…”
Joe laughed. “So tonight’s the night?!” Seeing Vincent looked physically sick he relented. “Look…um…why don’t you let Cathy take the lead?”
“Is that what you do with Jenny?”
Joe laughed aloud. “We’ve got 6 kids that she runs around all day long. Then she works at a real job at least 4 hours a day…if I don’t initiate it I’ll be taking cold showers every night.”
“Every night?” Vincent gasped.
Joe laughed and shrugged. “Well…in the beginning yeah, 18 years and 6 kids later…it’s mostly on weekends…look…I’m telling you…let Cathy lead the way…she’ll guide you through it and nature will take it’s course.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Vincent grumbled.
Joe grabbed his shoulder and squeezed it gently. “It’s always awkward in the beginning…move this way…don’t move that way…the first time it’ll be quick…if you know what I mean….but…uh…you should…um…recover in a little while then pretty soon you’ll know what she likes and it will just happen automatically…”
Vincent nodded. “Thanks, Joe…I know this was uncomfortable to talk about but…”
Joe laughed. “It’s all right…I know you missed out on the locker room talks from high school…”
“We should get back…”
Vincent popped into the laundry room and grabbed a sweater and the two friends headed back.
“There they are!” exclaimed Jenny to Catherine as they walked into the room. “Where’ve you two been?”
Joe walked up and massaged her shoulders. “Vincent was giving me some bedroom tips on how to blow your mind!”
Jenny rolled her eyes. “You’re a pig, Joe Maxwell.”
Joe bent over and suckled on her neck. “Yeah, but you love it!”
Jenny giggled as she flinched. “Stop, you’re tickling me!” she said as she playfully hit at him.
Catherine snuck a peek at Vincent who hung his head with embarrassment then back at her good friends. She hoped that in a short time she and Vincent would be that at ease with one another.
Vincent sat down next to her and the two couples visited until a short time later, Brittany came in with a crying Joey. “Mom!”
“What happened?” Jenny asked as she got up.
“Maria hit me!” Joe cried out.
“Why did Maria hit you Joey?”
“Cause she’s a stupid girl!”
Brittany rolled her eyes and shook his arm. “You better her tell the truth, Joey!”
Joey looked at his mom with tears in his eyes. “I threw a rock and accidentally hit Amy in the head.”
“Joseph!” Joe said angrily.
“Save it, Dad!” Brittany said as she held up her hand. “Debbie and Kelly took Amy to the hospital chamber. She was bleeding pretty badly and Devin said she’d need stitches.”
Joe sighed and looked at Jenny. “I’ll go.”
He left with Brittany as Jenny sat down with Joey.
“Joey, what am I going to do with you?”
Vincent leaned forward and looked at Joey. “Joey, what made you so angry that you felt the need to strike out at your sister?”
“She was mean to me…she said I was bothering her.”
“What were you doing that she would find bothersome?”
“I don’t know…Devin taught me out to make farts with my arm pits and I was practicing…wanna hear?”
Vincent looked away to hide his smile while Catherine lowered her head to hide hers.
Jenny was not as amused. “No, we do not want to hear!”
Vincent composed himself and looked back. “I remember how good I felt when my brother taught me how to make that noise but for some odd reason girls don’t find it quite as funny as boys do.”
“Girls are dumb.” Joey said as he stuck his lower lip out.
Jenny sighed. “You only feel that way because you have five older sisters. In about 8 more years, you won’t think girls are so dumb. Now…you know you have to apologize.”
“I know…Mommy, she was bleeding all over what if she dies and I don’t get to.”
He started to cry and Jenny pulled him on her lap. “You’re sister is not going to die. She may need a few stitches but she’ll live…which is more that I can say for you when your father gets back.”
“I’m gonna be punished?”
“What do you think?” Jenny asked.
“Yes…can I go see Amy?”
Jenny sighed again and stood up. “Yes, we should all go see her.”
Vincent stood and held out his hand to Catherine. “I’d like to see if we can help. Eric is Above and I’m probably the closest thing to a doctor.”
Catherine followed him and took his hand as they walked behind Jenny. “I’ll bet Charles has it all taken care of by now.” At Vincent’s questioning glance, Catherine continued. “Ares made sure the boys were trained in emergency medical procedures…Charles has given Devin a few hundred stitches over the years.”
They walked in to the hospital chamber to see Maria sitting with Debbie and Kelly. Brittany walked over and sat with them while Joey walked up to Joe.
“Mommy said I’m gonna be punished.”
Joey’s lip stuck out and he walked over to his sisters and waited for their acceptance. Debbie held out her hands and he walked into her arms. She scooped him onto her lap and he put his head back against her.
Jenny paced in front of the closed curtain. “Why aren’t you in there with her? She must be scared…who’s with her….who’s stitching her up…Joe?”
“Charles is.” Joe said as he reached for her.
Jenny looked at Catherine worriedly. “Does he know how?”
Devin peeked around the corner of the curtain. “He’s good Aunt Jenny…don’t worry.”
Devin disappeared and Jenny relaxed when she heard Amy giggling. She put her head against Joe’s shoulder and sighed. “We’re getting too old for this…”
More giggles could be heard then a loud “ouch” followed by more giggles.
Ten minutes later, Devin came out with Amy. “Good as new.”
Jenny gasped at the blood covering her daughter’s clothes. “Oh, Amy…” She hugged her tightly to her chest.
“Mom! I can’t breathe!”
Jenny relaxed and Joe bent over and moved the blood caked bangs from the front of Amy’s face. “You okay, kiddo”
“Yeah, Dad.” She looked around him to her sister. “Hey Brittany! I got ten stitches!”
“Really, Amy…that’s way cool!” Brittany smiled then her face fell as she saw Jenny’s scowl.
Maria rolled her eyes as she tried to out do her sister. “Stitches are nothing…Me and Brittany each had a broken arm!”
“So! Me and Brittany are the only Maxwell’s who’ve had stitches!” Amy countered.
Jenny grumbled. “Let’s keep it that way!”
Charles came around the corner and Joe shook his hand. “Thank you, Charles.”
“Anytime…I kept the stitches small so scarring should be minimal. But her hair will hide them anyway…”
Jenny kissed his cheek then turned to Catherine and Vincent. “We’ll probably head home…it was good to catch up with you… we can do it again at Winterfest.”
“Of course,” Catherine smiled.
Joey had fallen asleep on Debbie, and Joe walked over and stood him up.
Exhausted, Joey stumbled until Joe steadied him by grabbing the back of his shirt. “Hard to believe someone so small can cause so much trouble…” he laughed.
The girls got up and the family walked home together.
Devin turned to Charles. “You hungry now?”
Catherine laughed. “I’m going to have to try to get Uncle Joe to give me my old job back. There’s no way this community can keep feeding you two.”
Jacob walked in and put his arm around her. “Just take your money back, Mom. I don’t need it.”
“My money? What are you talking about, Jacob?”
He looked at Vincent curiously then back down at Catherine. “When you died…well…when we thought you died…Uncle Peter and Uncle Joe made sure that I was declared your heir. I inherited everything you had.”
“I…didn’t know…Catherine gasped.
Jacob nervously backed up a step. “I…didn’t spend hardly any of it…it’s almost all there plus interest, Dad and I…”
Catherine looked over at him and waved her hand dismissively in the air. “Oh, Jacob, I don’t care if you spent any money, it was yours to spend but… what about my apartment?”
“Your apartment?” Jacob wondered.
Catherine smiled and shook her head. “Never mind…it’s silly…I know…”
“What, Mom?” Jacob asked again.
“Did you sell it to Peter? I mean…I’m sure you did…what could you have possibly wanted with…”
Jacob looked at Vincent uncertainly as Vincent rushed to explain. “Catherine, we didn’t sell it…Peter stays in it when he’s in New York.”
She sighed with relief. “He does?!”
“Yes, when he isn’t at his daughter’s in Minnesota.”
Jacob looked at his brothers then back at Catherine. “Did you…I mean…are you planning on moving Above?”
Catherine gasped as she looked from the faces of Vincent and Jacob then the twins and realized what they were all thinking. “Noooo… I…just thought that I’d try to see it again.”
Jacob shrugged. “Peter just left last week; he’ll be at Susan’s at least a month. Aunt Jenny has the keys.”
Catherine smiled. “Well, maybe I’ll see it one day. Let’s get something to eat and then you boys can help your father and Jacob get things ready for Winterfest.
The boys wolfed down their lunch and headed with Jacob to the Great Hall as Vincent and Catherine lingered over their tea.
“For the first time that I can remember, I’m not looking forward to tomorrow.” Vincent admitted.
“Why on earth not?” Catherine wondered.
“I’ll have to share you with others…”
“There’s no place I’d rather be than by your side, Vincent. I promise I won’t let anyone pull me away from you.”
Mary walked in the room and gushed happily. “There you two are! Catherine, Rebecca and Olivia insisted I come get you and include you in decorating the centerpieces, and Vincent, if you would be a dear and carry down the box of candles that Jacob will need to put in the chandeliers…”
Vincent closed his eyes against the intrusion and when he opened them he saw Catherine chuckling.
“Sure Mary, I’d love to come help and Vincent was just getting up to help his sons; so he’d be happy to carry down the candles for you.”
Mary clapped her hands together happily. “Okay, we’re in the candle chamber.”
She left as Vincent shoulders shrugged with amusement. “I’m sorry.”
They both stood and Catherine leaned into him. She looked up expectantly, and Vincent hesitated for only a second before he lowered his mouth to hers. Catherine sighed as she deepened the kiss.
A clatter could be heard in the kitchen and they broke apart slowly.
“Walk me to Rebecca’s…”
Vincent slid his arm around her shoulders as they walked through the tunnels.
In the world Above, Beckett, Ryan and Esposito had flown in to JFK Airport; and after six hours of intense questioning in the Homeland Security Offices with General Phillips and Senator Gillibrand, they headed over to the Maxwell house.
Joey looked up at them as he opened the door then turned around and continued to play his hand held game. “Daaaaadddd….those cop guys are here for you.”
Debbie came in from the kitchen immediately to see their guests standing at the front door. “Geez, Joey! You could’ve invited them inside!” She opened the door and welcomed them. “Sorry…my brother has yet to learn what manners are!”
Kate smiled. “That’s okay.”
Esposito sat next to Joey and looked over his shoulder at the video game. “I can see why, you’re pretty good at this…Hey, Ryan come watch this kid fight these zombies!”
Ryan walked and sat on the other side of Joey who was relishing their attention.
“Is your dad home?” Kate wondered.
“Yeah…he’s in the shower. Make yourselves comfortable…can I get anyone a drink?”
“You got a beer?” Esposito asked.
Ryan nodded. “Me too, if you got them.”
Neither man had looked up as they watched the small screen Joey was playing on.
Kate sighed. “I’ll help you get them,” she offered as she followed Debbie into the kitchen.
Debbie opened the fridge and set out three beers. “That was amazing luck that you found Catherine Chandler on that island!”
Kate laughed. “Yeah, we were shocked to say the least.”
Kelly walked in an overheard the last comment. “You talking about how you found Aunt Cathy?”
Kate nodded. “Yeah, Cathy and the twins. I wish I could have seen Vincent’s reaction when he first saw them!”
Debbie smiled. “He was shocked…it was cool…Aunt Cathy helped him through it though.”
“So did you get the scoop?” Kate wondered.
“No! My mom made me leave…I wanted to sit next to Devin, he is so cute!”
“You have no idea what you’re talking about….Charles is way cuter!” Kelly argued.
Joe walked in the door of the kitchen. “Who’s cuter?”
“Charles.” “Devin.” the girls answered simultaneously.
Joe shook his head in disgust. “They’re identical!! How can one be cuter?”
The girls each rolled their eyes then grabbed the beer bottles along with glasses to go and deliver them to Ryan and Esposito.
Joe handed Kate her beer then grabbed one for himself and led her back to the family room, where Esposito and Ryan were shouting encouragement to Joey who was almost to the next level of his game.
“Why don’t you guys tell me what happened after I left…” Joe asked.
“I’d like to get down Below if I can, Sir.” Kate asked.
“Anxious to see Castle?” Ryan teased.
Kate ignored them as Joe called out to Jenny. “Want to go Below, babe?”
Jenny smiled widely. “Sure!”
“Thanks, Joe.” Kate smiled. “I’d like Castle to hear what he missed out on.”
“They’re not expecting you until tomorrow, you know.”
“Yeah…we gave a record accounting to General Phillips and rushed back here to make Winterfest.” Ryan said as he stood.
“Yeah, I’m just as anxious to have a good long day of fun!” Joe smiled widely as he led the way Below.
In the Great Hall, Vincent walked in to find that most of the things he normally was required to do, his sons had accomplished.
The heavy wooden tables were in place and already being set in preparation for the food trays. Benches and chairs were set out in various places around the room, and the chandeliers were ready to be lit.
“Hey Dad,” Jacob called out as he carried in another bench with Rick’s help. Charles and Devin followed them but with their exceptional strength, they each carried in their own bench.
“I see how you got this done so quickly.”
Rick laughed. “Your boys are like bulls…I love my daughter Alexis but I’m jealous of the brute strength you put out in these boys of yours.”
The boys smiled shyly while Vincent grinned. “They would make me proud if they could only carry feathers! Either way…it was good of you to help, Rick.”
“It keeps my mind off of things…”
“She’ll be coming home soon.”
“Yeah, tomorrow. She texted me…they’ve been tying up a lot of loose ends.”
“Then she’ll get to enjoy Winterfest with you. I’m sure Kevin will be here this year and I hope he thinks to extend an invitation to Javier.”
“Don’t get me wrong, Vincent, I’ve enjoyed my time here, I just want to get back to my world.”
“I’m sure that with Kate’s return all will be well again.”
“You guys gonna help or stand around and yap?” Devin asked.
Vincent put his arm around his son and ruffled his hair affectionately. “Sorry, son.”
Devin grinned wickedly as he hugged Vincent fiercely. Rick could see the playfulness in Devin’s eyes. “Get him, Devin!”
Devin started to wrestle with Vincent who balked with surprise but soon joined in the game. He quickly gained the upper hand as Jacob laughed heartily and jumped in to help his little brother. Vincent fought and was actually holding his own against his two sons when Charles jumped in as well. Vincent was quickly outnumbered.
“Time to school these youngsters of yours, I’m on my way, Vincent.”
Rick said as he quickly joined in to aid Vincent.
Ten minutes later, Catherine and Kate stood on the steps and looked down at the five men wrestling on the floor. They were a tangled mess and it was hard to decipher whose legs belong to whom.
“You’ve got to be kidding me?!” Kate joked. “One of those bodies in there belongs to me?”
Catherine sighed. “Four of them are mine…”
Kate whistled loudly and the wrestling stopped as all eyes turned to her.
“Kate?” Rick gasped aloud.
The boys slowly disentangled themselves then got up to face Catherine.
“We were just…” Jacob started to explain.
“Bonding with Dad!” Devin finished.
Charles looked away with embarrassment at his twin’s lame excuse.
Catherine rolled her eyes and nodded up the steps behind her. “Please see if you can be of any help to William or Cullen.”
The boys took off and Catherine and Kate looked amusedly at Vincent and Rick.
Both men were panting heavily and their hair and clothing were a tousled mess.
Kate started to laugh. “Funny, the boys didn’t look anywhere near as tired as you two!”
“We were outnumbered!” Rick complained.
Kate came and stood in front of him. “Yeah, well maybe you can tell me about it on our way…”
Rick straightened out his shirt and tucked it back in as he followed her sheepishly. “Okay…”
“Meet you in the library,” Kate called over her shoulder.
Catherine raised her brows in surprise at Vincent. “Did you let your boys get the upper hand?”
Vincent cocked his head shyly. “I’d like to say yes but…sometimes youth rivals experience.”
Vincent straightened his clothing then led Catherine to the library where they greeted Javier, Kevin and Joe. Kate and Rick were just settling down and they quickly took their seats as well.
“So…fill me in on what happened after I left.” Joe asked.
Kate took the lead. “There were surprisingly only about 20 armed guards on the island itself. Obviously General Phillips secured both the outer and inner perimeters of the island quickly. We did a quick sweep of the house and it was literally just a living area.”
“His entire organization was based in the bunker that he was killed in. They carried out his body and verified his identity by his dental records.” Esposito added.
“Phillips was more interested in Ares office then he was in anything in the lower levels of the bunker.” “Ryan reported.
“The levels we were kept in…” Charles supplied.
“Yeah…they didn’t bother to go down that far…they got all the information from his main office.” Esposito clarified.
Kate smiled. “Yeah…after Ryan told them that there were only doctor’s offices down there.”
“All of the records on the boys were kept down there!” Catherine said worriedly.
Ryan waved a data stick in the air. “Yeah…now there here.”
“And…the computers they were kept on have been shorted out when Ryan accidentally dropped that bottle of acid on the server.” Esposito laughed.
“And it caught on fire as it shorted out and we sprayed it down with water and the fire extinguishers they had on hand.
“So all of Ares records on the boys and myself have been destroyed?” Vincent asked.
“To the best of our knowledge, yeah.” Ryan nodded.
Catherine sighed. “I don’t know if I’m relieved or not…what if Ares kept records on his business computer as well?”
Devin leaned forward. “Mom…we were never allowed in his real office and any work we did was always on the lower computers.”
“But what about…”
“Catherine,” Vincent reached over and took her hand as he interrupted her. “We can’t live if we constantly worry about something that may not be…”
“He’s right, Mom.” Charles agreed.
Catherine looked at him then at Vincent and realized the truth in what he said and she nodded in agreement. “You’re right.”
“Cathy,” Joe said as he got her attention. “I promise you, I’ll do everything in my power to make sure Vincent and the boys are protected.”
Rick smiled at Catherine. “Cathy, do you think you want to come back Above and reclaim your old life?”
Catherine blinked in surprise. “I…um…haven’t even thought about it! I mean…48 hours ago my life was precarious at best. ”
Vincent dropped her hand and looked away. “You have a chance to go back and live the life you were meant to live.”
“We’ll talk about this later, Vincent.” Catherine said quietly as she reached for his hand again. “I’ll have to let you know, Rick, but thanks for asking…”
“Hey, Dad? Jacob said there’s a place to swim a few levels down. You want to go?”
Vincent was honored that his son wanted to spend time with him but he was torn between wanting to spend time with Catherine and he looked at her worriedly. “I…”
Catherine ruffled Devin’s hair. “Devin, that’s a wonderful idea! Your Dad would love to spend time with you boys.”
“Catherine?” Vincent asked quietly.
Jenny interrupted. “Go! It will give Cathy and me a chance to talk!”
Joe looked over at his friend. “Mind if I tag along?”
“Sure thing, Uncle Joe,” Charles offered.
Vincent, Joe and the three boys left and headed to the swimming chamber while Ryan and Esposito headed off to see Pascal and Beckett and Castle left to walk in the tunnels.
Catherine and Jenny headed to Vincent’s chamber where they sat together on the bed and caught up on everything that had happened to both of them over the years.
An hour and a half later, Jenny looked down at her watch. “Oh my God, I’ve got to get home and start dinner! I’m gonna go get Joe…you think they’d be back by now!”
“I’ll go with you, the boys are probably starving.”
The two friends walked down to the swimming hole and hovered in the tunnel way listening to the laughter echoing off of the walls inside.
“Oh, Jenny…this is music to my ears!”
“Were you worried they wouldn’t get along?”
“No…that’s not it…the boys had such a rough time growing up. I’m just glad they’re finally getting a chance to relax and spend time just being kids.”
Jenny took her hand and squeezed it gently. “Here’s hoping your family has nothing but laughter fillings its days from here on out.”
She and Catherine walked into the chamber and stood waiting for someone to notice they were there.
Jacob threw a wet nerf ball over Vincent’s head and watched as it landed at the feet of his mother.
“Hey Mom!” was called out as each of the boys greeted their mother.
Joe looked up expectantly at Jenny. “Time to go, babe?”
“You got it! Unless you want to deal with your 6 starving kids later on…”
Joe swam to the edge and quickly got out then took the towel she offered. “No way…give me five minutes to get dressed.”
He left as Jacob got out of the water first. Catherine stood by the towels and held one open for him as if he was a child. Jacob smiled as he was lavished with her motherly attention. “Thanks, Mom.”
Catherine had towel dried his hair and laughed as it spiked precariously in the air. “You’re welcome, honey.”
Jacob kissed her cheek. “Maybe after Winterfest we can spend some time alone together and get to know one another better.”
“I’d love that, Jacob!”
Jacob left to change as the twins made their way out of the pond. Catherine smiled at each of them and watched as they took the towels she handed them and dried off.
Earlier, Vincent had hesitated at the side of the pool when everyone had been getting ready to go in. He watched as his twin sons stripped to shorts without a second thought about their appearance. He marveled at their unselfconsciousness then noticed that neither Jacob nor Joe paid any attention to them. With a sigh, he stripped as well and he, his three sons and best friend had a wonderful afternoon together horse playing in the pool.
Now, as he watched Catherine with his sons, he noticed that she too hadn’t reacted to the excessive body hair they had. He realized that his perceptions of his body were not necessarily those of others and he took a deep breath before he got out of the pool.
Catherine swallowed hard as Vincent walked towards her wearing only swimming trunks. She quickly compared him to his sons. While Devin and Charles were very muscular from working out, they still had the body of 16 year old boys, Jacob being older was just starting to fill out but her throat went dry as she looked at Vincent. She licked her lips nervously as she noticed the breadth of his shoulders and his muscular chest.
Vincent stopped in front of her and tried to take the
towel from her but she clutched it closely and he blushed as she looked
“Yeah?” Catherine looked down at her hands and realized she was holding his towel. She opened it and began drying off his chest. She watched it rise and fall as his breathing increased under her ministrations.
She looked up slowly and saw the desire in his eyes. “Vincent?”
Vincent pulled her closer as he leaned down to kiss her. Catherine slipped her arms around his neck as she melted against his chest. They kissed passionately only pulling apart when the boys came into the room.
“Mom, we’re gonna go get something to eat.” Charles offered.
“God! Can’t you two keep your hands to yourself?” Devin teased.
Vincent blushed while Catherine rolled her eyes. “Go! We’ll meet you there in a minute.”
Jacob hit his brother’s arms affectionately. “C’mon…let’s leave these love birds alone.”
Vincent started to walk away when Catherine stopped him lightly with a touch on his arm. She reached out and held her hand lightly over his heart then leaned in and kissed him lightly.
She smiled coyly as she backed away. “I love you, Vincent.”
“I love you as well, Catherine,” Vincent smiled lightly as he captured her lips once more.
They sighed as they broke apart.
“You should get dressed, you’ve got to be getting cold…”
After the touch of her hand against his chest and the few kisses they shared, Vincent felt like his blood was boiling inside of him, and he smiled at her wryly. “No…I…yes…I’ll go get dressed.”
“Okay, I’ll meet you in the dining chamber…I’m sure that’s where the boys are headed.”
“I’ll be there.”
Vincent walked into the dining chamber to see Catherine sitting at a table with a cup of tea. She was surrounded by sons who each had a plate filled with food. The twins were quickly making their way through the items on their plates while Jacob was speaking to Mouse.
Vincent touched Catherine’s shoulder lovingly as he sat down next to her. With an amused look, he watched the twins wolfing down their food before he listened in on the conversation between Jacob and Mouse.
“Not good….not fine….”
“Are you sure you saw the leak, Mouse?”
“Heard drops…flashed light…saw water…”
Instantly alert to the dangers of a water line break, Vincent became alarmed. “Where Mouse?”
Jacob turned to Vincent. “Mouse thinks he found a leak on the level directly above the Great Hall.”
“That’s impossible, Mouse. We rerouted the line running through that chamber years ago. That chamber has been sealed ever since,” Vincent pointed out.
Mouse shrugged worriedly. “I know what I know…and I know!”
“I’ll go check it out then,” Jacob offered.
Thinking it would be a routine check, Vincent nodded. “Thank you, let me know what you find.”
Jacob and Mouse stood and started to walk towards the door. Suddenly, the walls and floor started to shake as a rumble could be heard through the tunnels.
“What the…?” Jacob gasped.
Mouse knew what he had heard as he looked at Jacob. “Told you!”
Jacob and Mouse ran from the room as Vincent looked at Catherine. “Find Father…have him send a message for help then stay with him in the library. I’ll be back when I can…”
Charles and Devin had abandoned their food at the first rumble and stood by their father.
“We’re coming too, Dad.”
“No…I don’t think…”
Devin shot him an angry look. “We’re bigger and stronger than anyone here besides maybe you…this is our home now, and we’re helping!”
Vincent looked at Catherine who nodded her assent. “They are highly trained for emergencies, Vincent. Just keep an eye on them!”
Vincent took off running followed closely by his sons. They ran through the tunnels at an amazing speed and quickly passed several of the men who were heading to help out as well.
Vincent stopped abruptly at one point to listen to the frantic message on the pipes. With a glance at his sons, he ran back in the tunnel way about 50 feet and started down a rarely used connecting tunnel. He hesitated briefly as his eyes adjusted to the darkness. He heard the twins come up behind him and knew they’re eyes had adjusted as well and the three took off at a dead run again. Despite being able to see, Vincent knew the tunnel’s dangers and called out directions as they ran so the boys would be safe navigating through the dark passageway.
They ran into the chamber with the broken pipe and could see a gaping hole in the floor where the weight of the water had caused it to crash down. Unfortunately this chamber’s floor was the ceiling to the Great Hall and Vincent’s first thought was of a cancelled Winterfest.
He looked up and saw the water still flowing from a broken water pipe and he frowned at the difficulty of the repair.
The other tunnel members began to run into the room as well.
Mouse gasped. “Not good…”
“No, Mouse…it isn’t,” Jacob agreed.
“What should we do?” Kanin asked.
The men began to throw out ideas and each one was discussed amongst them and the pros and cons were heavily weighed.
Charles and Devin had been standing quietly off to the side. Their speech was limited to a few words as they bounced ideas off one another.
“Main feed…” “Unknown…” “Possible seal…” “Too much force…” “Diversion…” “Possibly…” “Further assessment…” “Agreed…”
Unknown to anyone else, the boys took off and ran further down the tunnel way. They popped in to various chambers as they followed the pipeline through the walls.
Devin slammed to a stop when he ran into a chamber that was actually a huge ledge that bordered over a large body of water. He and Charles smiled when they realized that they found the place where they could divert the water flow until the line could be repaired.
They took off at a dead run back to chamber by everyone else.
The men were still standing and throwing out ideas. The mood in the room was quickly becoming desperate when the twins ran in.
“Dad! We need grappling hooks and a couple hundred feet of rope…some hack saws…bolt cutters…”
Vincent turned around to face his son. “Devin…”
Charles guessed that Vincent was going to put them off and he rushed to explain. “There’s a chamber about a quarter mile down this tunnel way…the main pipe runs through it…it’s over some type of pond or lake or something…”
“I know the chamber you’re speaking of...”
“If we can divert the water it will give us time to repair this section…”
“Worth try!” Mouse said.
“Show us boys…” Kanin added.
“It’s a wonderful idea, but impossible to execute…” Vincent sighed.
“Why!” Devin wondered.
“There’s no way to safely get to the pipe, Devin…” Vincent clarified.
Charles grabbed his shoulder. “Dad! Devin and I have been scaling rock walls since we were seven…Please let us show you!”
Vincent looked up again at the broken pipe then down at the quickly flooding Great Hall. He frowned as he nodded. “Go!”
The entire crew followed the boys as they ran down the tunnel way. Matthew lit torches and put them in iron brackets as he quickly lit the passageway for everyone.
Vincent stopped at the edge of the ledge in the chamber and quickly assessed the situation. Jacob stood next to him and gasped at the height of the ceiling.
“No way, Dad!” Jacob objected.
“Devin, it does look dangerous!” Vincent sighed.
Devin scowled at him. “It does seem daunting but Charles and I could do this in our sleep!”
Cullen and Jonathon came in with a chest filled with all kinds of hooks and pulleys. Kevin had hundreds of feet of ropes and Steven had tools of all different kinds.
Charles dug through the items and quickly gathered what they thought they could use. Devin had grabbed the ropes and stood tying all kinds of knots into different places on the rope.
Jacob watched in amazement as Devin created harnesses for them to use. “What can we do, Dev?”
“Six men…three men per twin…lift us up until we can get up there…”
Vincent shook his head. “Devin…this is too dangerous…I can’t let you go…tell me what you’re planning to do and I’ll go alone.”
Realizing he was worried about his sons, Devin grinned at Vincent. “No way, Pops! We’ll need more men…” He patted Vincent’s stomach lightly. “Too many nights reading books has packed on a few pounds…besides we’re what…like 40 years younger!”
Kanin laughed aloud. “He’s right, Vincent.”
Vincent grabbed Devin and hugged him tightly. “Be careful, son. No unnecessary chances!”
“Who, me?” Devin asked innocently.
Vincent turned and hugged Charles as well. “You’re the less impulsive one…watch your brother…”
“We’ll be fine, Dad.”
Charles and Devin started to climb up the walls in the chamber. They worked amazingly fast with very little words exchanged. As one of them made a hole in the wall, the other would quickly insert a steel spike for footing and they would move on to the next spot.
Vincent gasped several times when he thought they were putting too much space between their footings but he looked on proudly when they reached a small ledge at ceiling level in less than 20 minutes.
Charles slipped a rope around the water line before he climbed on top of it and straddled it. Devin followed suit and the two scooted their way down the length towards the middle of the pipe. Half way over the pond, both boys drilled holes into the ceiling and inserted pulley in it to hold their weight if the pipe should give.
About 20 feet ahead of them, Devin looked over and noticed another pipe leading out at another angle.
“Dad! There’s a pipe connecting to this one…”
Mouse and Vincent exchanged looks. Mouse shrugged and Vincent took off down the tunnel way followed by Mouse. They ran further down to yet another little used chamber and looked up at the ceiling.
“I think it goes to the pipe that leads to level 12.”
Mouse frowned as his eyes adjusted to the low light. “Could be wrong…”
“Think you’re right though…”
“Pipe looks same…see code on side…same one as level 12…”
Vincent nodded as they ran back to the chamber. “Devin it’s safe!”
Devin looked at his brother. “Redirect?”
Devin scooted ahead on the pipe just past where the two pipes connected. He turned and faced his brother as Charles scooted closer.
The two boys secured their lines into the ceiling again then looked down at the valve that they needed to move to divert the water flow.
Devin banged on the valve with a hammer and frowned as it didn’t budge. “Great.”
Charles got to his knees then up on his feet as he balanced on the pipe. He walked over to where he was straddling the two pipes and took out the long hammer that was dangling from his side.
Devin grinned his approval and quickly put a chisel under the valve to give his brother a larger target to hit.
Charles took several swings and Devin called out excitedly after the last hit. “It’s giving…”
It was several more swings before Charles took a final blow. The valve gave way and Devin could feel inside the pipe that the water flow had been successfully diverted.
He and Charles exchanged high fives but Charles’ footing was too precarious and he slipped from the pipe. Devin watched as the pulley holding his brother came out of the ceiling and he grabbed for him at the last second.
Devin slipped from the pipe as well and the two brothers clung to one line as they dangled dangerously from the ceiling.
The weight of two people was too much for Kanin, Cullen and Matthew to hold up and they started to slip as Vincent roared in anguish and grabbed for the rope as well.
Kevin, Jonathon and Steven realized their rope was holding nothing and ran to help as well.
Vincent knew the six men could handle the ropes as he ran to the side of the cliff and shouted instructions.
“He’s okay, Dad!” Devin called back.
“We have to lower you, boys. Without Charles being secured it would be too dangerous to lift you.”
“Agreed.” Charles called out.
Vincent watched the progress as Jacob called out instructions. “Lower!”
The six men slowly let the ropes go through their hands and the boys lowered about 10 feet. They repeated this process a few more times until Devin called out.
“So…what’s the chances the water’s like 100 degrees?”
Vincent frowned. “It’s a few degrees away from freezing, Devin…”
Charles laughed. “That’s what we thought…”
About 20 feet from the surface, Devin looked at his brother. “Ready?”
Vincent’s heart skipped a beat when Devin let go of the line and the two boys fell into the water. As expected the coldness took their breath away but they quickly swam to the edge and stood on the side of the embankment.
Freezing, they looked about 50 feet up to see Vincent peering over the edge.
“We’re okay!” they sang out together.
Kanin had already secured a pulley onto the tunnel wall and lowered a rope over the side. “Can you kids hold on while we pull you up?”
“Yeah!” they replied simultaneously.
Devin secured himself in the harness first but because the deep cold was taking its toll, the boy’s were starting to show signs of hypothermia and Devin couldn’t hold onto the rope.
Charles shivered uncontrollably but offered encouragement. “C’mon…Dev…”
Devin gasped as he slid down the side of the wall. “Ccccan’t…”
Jacob quickly assessed the situation and grabbed a third rope. “Lower me guys…”
He flew over the edge and in record time was on the ground by his brothers.
“You guys need to get out of those clothes!”
Devin and Charles quickly obeyed and started to peel off the layers. Jacob stripped off his outer shirt and handed it to Devin.
“Jacob!” Vincent’s voice carried down and Jacob looked up to see a tied bundled coming down on yet another rope.
He quickly opened it and found several shirts as well as Vincent’s cloak and a blanket of Kanin’s. He helped his brothers dress then rubbed them quickly trying to get the circulation flowing in their limbs again.
The warmth from the shirts started to have the desired effect on them and Charles and Devin started to move around better. They both began to jump up and down in a further attempt to warm up their lower bodies.
“Can we try again?” Jacob asked.
“Yeah.” Charles said.
“Okay…go Charles.” Jacob ordered.
Vincent helped his 6 friends pull Charles up and it seemed like it only took a few tugs when Charles’ head cleared the side.
Vincent grabbed for him and helped him over then hugged him fiercely. “I’m glad you’re okay!”
“Me too, Dad!”
By the time Vincent turned around, the guys had Devin half way up the side and Vincent pulled him to safety as well. He hugged Devin just as fiercely.
“Thanks, Dad!” Devin smiled.
Kanin grabbed his arm. “We’ve got Jacob…get these guys in the hot pools!”
“Jacob?” Vincent called out.
“Go Dad! I’ll meet you there…”
Vincent nodded then led the twins into the bathing chambers where they promptly jumped into the warm water.
Catherine had been alerted to the problem and came running in to see them.
“Hey Mom,” Devin grinned.
Catherine looked at the boys and sighed with relief. “You’re okay?”
“Yeah…we’re fine!” Charles added.
Vincent came around the corner with towels in his arms and looked guiltily at Catherine. “I didn’t keep them very safe.”
She kissed his cheek as she took the towels from his hand then led them over to the bench where they could sit. “What happened?”
“There was a water main break in the chamber above the Great Hall.” Vincent started to explain.
Devin swam quickly over and interrupted him. “Charles and I used our mountain climbing skills to shimmy up the side of a chamber wall.”
“Then we scaled down on top of the pipe…we were able divert the water…” Charles added proudly.
“Yes…” Vincent agreed.
Catherine looked at the three of them. “And…how did my sons end up swimming in a frigid pond?”
Devin shrugged as he got out of the water. “Down was the only way to go...a few feet from the surface I let go of the line and we swam to the side.”
“Jacob helped us get up the embankment and Dad brought us here,” Charles said as he followed his brother out of the water. “No harm done.”
Both boys had taken a towel and were drying off.
“Why do I have a feeling there was more to it than that?” Catherine asked.
Jacob walked in with his arms filled with clothes. “Here you go guys.”
The twins left to get dressed as Vincent looked at Jacob. “Tell me…”
“There’s a crew working right now but if I had to guess…I’d say no.”
“I was afraid of that.”
“What?” Catherine asked.
Jacob frowned. “A portion of ceiling in the Great Hall collapsed from the weight of the water.”
“We’ll have to cancel Winterfest…” Vincent announced sadly.
“It would be the safest thing to do.” Jacob agreed.
Devin and Charles walked in dressed in tunnel garb.
“What would be the safest thing to do?” Devin wondered.
“To cancel Winterfest,” Catherine explained.
“Why?” Charles asked.
Jacob lightly hit their arms. “C’mon…I’ll show you…you guys saved the tunnels but the damage had already been done.”
The entire family followed Jacob as he led them down through the levels.
Vincent held Catherine’s hand as they walked across the slippery floor in front of the huge wooden doors at the entrance to the Great Hall.
Vincent opened the door wide enough for them to slip in then. As he secured the door, he heard Catherine gasp.
The entire hall floor was covered in about 6 inches of water.
Mouse was sitting on the steps desperately trying to fix a beat up generator.
Kanin, Cullen, Mouse, Jonathon, Kevin and Steven as well as Jaime, Eric, Elizabeth, Samantha and William were diligently trying to clean the hall but they weren’t making a dent in the damage the water had created.
Vincent sighed as he picked up a bench that was upended and floating near the steps. “We have to cancel…”
Cullen nodded in agreement. “I’ve been saying that for awhile now.”
Jaime shot him an angry look. “What difference will it make if we wait another hour or two before we cancel?! We could at least try to get it ready!”
Elizabeth walked over. “I’m willing to try…I can’t remember Winterfest ever having been cancelled or postponed!”
“Let’s try!” Catherine touched his arm as she pleaded with Vincent.
Vincent looked at her uncertainly but was loathe to dampen her spirits. “Catherine, I’m afraid it’ll take a miracle…”
At that very second, the generator roared to life. Everyone turned to look to see Devin and Charles grinning wildly while Mouse looked at them with pure adoration.
“Fixed it!” Mouse exclaimed. “Okay good!”
Charles shook Mouse’s hand. “You would have had it in a minute or two more.”
“It’s a miracle!” Jaime exclaimed.
With renewed hope, Vincent grabbed for the hoses to get them in place to start pumping the water. Charles and Devin observed him for a few seconds then anticipated what he was doing and quickly helped him. Within minutes, the hoses were leading out the door and spraying the water over the side of the windy staircase.
Jacob went to the far side of the hall and grabbed a broom then started pushing the water towards the ends of the hoses. Kanin, Cullen and the other men followed suit and started to help him move the water as well, while everyone else in the room set to work moving the tables and benches to the areas that no longer contained water.
Kate walked in with a basket filled with towels and rags followed by Rick who carried in a huge floor fan.
“Hi,” Kate called out over the noise of the generator.
Catherine looked up and smiled happily. “Hi!”
“They sent us down with this stuff…can we help?” Kate asked.
“You sure can!” Kanin assured. “Rick right?”
“Yeah,” Castle nodded.
“Bring that fan over here, we’ll set it up and start drying off this floor.”
Castle carried it over and the two men set it up in the far corner of the room. Kanin plugged it into a smaller generator and the fan sprang to life. After a few minutes the floor directly in front of the fan started to dry and for the first time everyone’s spirits seemed to lift.
Kate set the basket down on top of one of the tables and Catherine grabbed a towel and started to dry off the benches. Kate helped her as well as Rebecca and Jaime. As they finished drying the pieces, the guys would carry them over and set them down on a dry area of flooring.
A few hours later, Vincent turned off the generator and everyone turned around to look at him in the now quiet room.
Charles smiled as he looked and saw that they had cleaned and rearranged about half the room already. “We’ve made great progress!”
Vincent looked at the weariness on everyone’s faces and sighed as he grabbed Charles’ shoulder. “There’s still much to be done and it’s late…”
“Almost too much,” Cullen moaned.
Devin rolled his eyes as he hit lightly tapped Vincent in the stomach. “Pops! Don’t be such a pessimist!”
Jacob blew out a long breath. “The tunnel way is solid mud and the stone in front of the great doors is soaking wet. The steps are wet as well…the wind is drying them quickly but they might be too slippery to navigate.”
“So throw some carpeting down on them,” Rick shrugged.
Kanin sighed aloud. “If it was only that easy…We don’t exactly have a stockpile of remnants lying around!”
“I’ll go buy some,” Catherine exclaimed happily.
Kate frowned at her new friend. “How Cathy? You don’t exist yet…”
Catherine’s face fell. “Oh my God…I…forgot…I…finally felt like I was back home and I…can’t believe I…forgot.”
Vincent stepped over and pulled her close as it dawned on her again that in her world she was still considered dead.
“I’ll buy it then,” Rick offered.
Kate smiled at him. “Really Castle?”
“Yeah, why not?”
Vincent smiled warmly. “That’s most generous of you, Rick.”
Castle smiled with his boyish grin. “Yeah…but think how much happiness it will bring.”
Kate reached for Catherine’s hand. “Why don’t you come and help us pick up the things will need…after you’re alive again you can pay Castle back if you want.” At Catherine’s look of uncertainty, Kate prodded further. “It’ll give you a chance to see the city again…even if only for a little while.”
Charles called over to her. “Hey Mom, if you go can you pick up some shoes for me and Charles?”
Catherine smiled weakly at Charles’ innocent question. “Honey…didn’t you hear us talking…I have no money…”
Confused, Devin looked over at Jacob. “You said she had a ton of money!”
Jacob frowned at him. “She does, but Dev…she has no identity…no way to claim the money or use it.”
“That’s dumb!” Charles grumbled.
Kate looked at Rick, who read her mind and nodded his approval. “Look…Rick can loan your mom some money and she can pick you guys up some stuff.” She looked over at Catherine. “We should go if we want to get there before the stores close.”
Catherine looked at Vincent.
“You should go.”
“Are you sure?”
She leaned in where only he could hear her. “But what about tonight?”
“Well…it seems my son’s have needs that only you can fulfill...” he said with a glimmer in his eye. “And…you’ll be back early enough…I promise I’ll be here.”
Catherine smiled widely the turned to Rick. “If you’re sure you don’t mind, then yes…I’d love to go.”