THE ULTIMATE WINTERFEST SURPRISE
BY KATHY DE
Catherine, Kate and Rick quickly made their way Above. Rick rented a pick up truck, and their first stop was the carpeting store, where they brought three large remnants. One that would fill the space in front of the doors of the great hall and amazingly enough they found a long runner that would go down the length of the windy staircase. They also picked up a few smaller runners that would be used in various parts around the hall.
The workers had the truck loaded in no time and the three friends climbed back in the front seat.
“Where to next, ladies?” Rick asked.
“Castle, why don’t we head to the mall? Cathy should be able to get everything she needs there.”
Catherine moaned. “Ugh…not a mall…not yet. Is there a sporting goods store nearby?”
“Yeah…there’s one about a mile from here.” Rick nodded.
“Well…let’s go, Castle!” Kate encouraged.
Kate led the way as Catherine grabbed for a cart then headed through the aisles of the store after her.
Catherine stopped in front of a display of hiking boots and scanned the boxes for the shoe sizes she needed.
Kate looked around curiously for Rick and noticed him walking towards her with a swim mask, snorkel and flippers on his feet.
“Did you guys see this? This stuff is awesome!”
Catherine laughed at him while Kate looked around with embarrassment. “Castle? How do you know who’s mouth has been on that?”
Rick rolled his eyes. “I took the snorkel out of the package…”
“You’ll have to buy it now!”
“Of course I am…I just said this stuff was great!”
An older gentleman was standing an aisle over and leaned back to see the couple bantering. He recognized Rick and quickly grabbed his cell phone. He sent a quick text out before he turned and started to walk towards Rick.
“Excuse me…you’re Richard Castle aren’t you?”
Rick loved his fans and smiled widely at the kind old man. “Yes…I am…and this is Nikki Heat.”
Kate rolled her eyes and smiled weakly at the man. “Hello, sir.”
“Wow! How can I be this lucky to meet you both? My wife is your biggest fan!” the man gushed.
Having been through this many times, Kate started to slip away unnoticed to go help Catherine.
Catherine had picked out identical boots for the twins, then splurged and picked up a pair for both Vincent and Jacob. She had made her way over to the athletic shoes and was debating between two styles.
Rick listened patiently while the man rambled on about his wife then politely autographed the Nike box holding the gold shoes the man planned to buy.
Catherine had grabbed two pairs of shoes for the twins, and she and Kate were making their way towards Rick when the older man turned around.
“Oh my God! It can’t be!”
Catherine hesitated while the man stared at her. Kate moved protectively closer to her as Rick moved to the man’s side.
“You’re Catherine Chandler!”
Catherine backed up a step while Kate steadied her and looked at the man curiously. “What did you say?”
“This woman’s name is Catherine Chandler.”
“Why would you think that’s her name?” Rick asked.
The man looked up at Castle. “My name is Dean Marshall, I was an investigative reporter for the New York Times for almost 20 years. At the end of my career, they booted me down to society news…you could say I was one of the first paparazzi…I took hundreds of pictures of Miss Chandler back in the late 80’s right up until her tragic death…which I can see now…was staged. Miss Chandler…I have no right to ask but I would love a chance to interview you.”
He looked curiously at Catherine for some type of explanation. Catherine faltered under his gaze and Kate came to her rescue.
“Miss Chandler has only recently been discovered during an official investigation conducted by the US government.”
Rick nodded. “It’s true…tomorrow she’s going to give her statement in court.”
Kate frowned at his lie and prompted Catherine towards the cashier. “Well, it was nice meeting you but we’ve got to…um…meet with…an attorney,” she lied easily.
Rick paid for the boots and shoes and the three quickly headed out the door. As they walked out, flashes started going off all around them as numerous reporters descended on them.
Rick threw his arm around Catherine and drew her close while Kate walked ahead and angrily called out to the reporters.
“Back away…now! You are obstructing an official police investigation…”
Rick helped Catherine into the driver’s side door of the truck and waited until she scooted into the middle seat. He slipped in next to her and waited until Kate hopped in the other side.
“Go Castle!” she said as she pulled on her seat belt.
Catherine hid her face as they truck pulled away.
“Now what?!” Rick wondered aloud.
Kate looked sadly over at Catherine. “I just announced to a group of reporters that you were coming forward…”
Rick had been glancing in the rearview mirror. “Yeah…and they’re following us.”
“Great!” Kate moaned as she looked out the door mirror.
“Where do I go, Beckett?”
Kate shook her head as she thought quickly. “Joe’s house…let’s take her to Joe’s.”
“No!” Not wanting to flood his household and upset their kids with all this commotion, Catherine said quickly. “Take me to the police station…” she sighed aloud knowing that whether she was ready or not the world was about to learn of her existence. “Let’s get this over with.”
Kate called Joe to let him know what they were doing then called the precinct to let the Captain in on the doings.
When they arrived, Rick dropped them off at the front door and Kate rushed Catherine inside.
After she was questioned she was fingerprinted then a dentist came to take impressions for dental verification.
It was late in the night and Catherine dozed briefly on a couch in the Captain’s office waiting for all the concerned parties to show up.
Joe was there soon enough and stayed by her side the entire time as she sat for hours giving testimony to various officials including General Phillips and Senator Gillibrand.
It was early morning when they finally broke up and Kate brought in the paperwork for her to sign. “Well…its official you’ll be Catherine Chandler again by the end of the day.”
Catherine smiled tiredly. “I used to think that would matter to me…now, I just want to go Below and enjoy Winterfest.”
Kate smiled at her. “If you’d like we can get ready at my place…I could loan you something to wear.”
Catherine looked down at her clothing and smiled. “I’d like that, thank you.”
“Castle will pick us up and take us to Joe’s then we can all head Below.”
“He left hours ago to get the carpeting Below as well as the shoes for the boys, and he wanted to tell Vincent what was going on...”
Catherine thought of what was supposed to be a magical night with Vincent and smiled ruefully. “Life still seems to be conspiring against us…”
The two new friends rushed to Kate’s where they each took showers and got ready.
Catherine gasped when Kate brought out a hunter green satin gown for her to wear. She slipped it on and frowned worriedly at the deep cleavage. She wondered if it was appropriate for someone her age and if the twins or Jacob would be embarrassed by her. Nestled between her breasts sat the crystal necklace Vincent had given her on their first anniversary. He had kept it all these years and returned it to her the morning after they reunited.
Kate came out dressed in a deep brown sweater dress and smiled at Catherine. “You look great!”
Catherine frowned as she tugged lightly at the sides. “I don’t know…what if I have a wardrobe malfunction?”
Kate laughed and reached inside her purse and brought out double faced tape. “Here…it’s what all the non publicity seeking people wear these days under the latest fashions.”
Catherine strategically placed a few strips on various points along the dress. She stood in front of the mirror and moved about and smiled when she saw the dress now stayed put. “Kate, this stuff is great!”
Kate looked over her shoulder and nodded with approval. “I knew it would work.” She noticed Catherine’s necklace and reached for it to look at it closer. “It’s beautiful…”
“Thank you, Vincent gave it to me on our first anniversary.”
“And you still have it after all these years?!”
“Vincent had it all this time he kept it after I died…” She giggled as she caught Kate’s eye. “…which to anyone else would sound like I need to be committed.”
The doorbell rang as Kate grinned and grabbed her coat. “Come on…you’ve spent enough time away from the man you love…let’s get to him, and maybe we can show up fashionably late for the festivities.”
Rick came in and paid the appropriate compliments to the two women then escorted them to his car. Traffic was light as he quickly made his way through the streets to Joe’s house.
Joe saw them pull up and held the door for them as they ran inside.
“Damn, Radcliffe! You look great!” He looked over at Kate with the same smile. “You clean up pretty nice too, Beckett!”
Kate rolled her eyes. “Thanks, sir.”
Jenny called out from the stair way. “Are you cheating on me, Joe Maxwell?”
Joe looked up to see his wife making her way down the stairs. He smiled and walked over to the base of the steps. “You know I’ve only got eyes for you baby.”
Jenny shook her head humorlessly as he kissed her cheek. “Good cover.” She walked over to Catherine and hugged her. “Now you look like the Cathy I used to know! You look beautiful…”
Catherine laughed and straightened a ruffle on Jenny’s dress. “So do you! This is a wonderful color for you.”
Rick rubbed his hands together. “I’m starving…we should get Below.”
Jenny held Catherine’s hand and the two chatted while they made their way Below. Joe followed closely behind them and enjoyed the happiness they were feeling at reconnecting after all these years.
Half way to the Great Hall, Vincent met them in the tunnel way. “I came to escort you to the festivities.”
“Did we miss the ceremony?” Catherine asked anxiously as she put her arm through his.
“I sent Debbie and the kids here awhile ago to tell Vincent we were on our way.” Jenny explained.
Vincent couldn’t take his eyes off Catherine as he nodded. “Under the circumstances the community has decided to wait for you…” He looked up towards Kate and Rick. “And our new friends.”
“Let’s hurry then, I don’t want to keep everyone waiting,” Catherine said as she prompted them to walk faster.
Vincent led them to the staircase behind the Great Hall where the twins and Jacob waited. Joe and Jenny led Kate and Rick down the steps and the room darkened.
“You look great, Mom.” Jacob whispered.
“Yeah, Mom…who knew you were so hot!” Charles laughed.
“Don’t you think she looks hot, Dad?” Devin asked devilishly
Vincent leaned in amusedly and took her hand. “Yes, Devin…your mother is…hot.”
Catherine reached up and gave him a kiss. “You look pretty good yourself.”
Vincent lowered his head shyly then looked out over the community below. Catherine swayed against him and the boys gathered behind them to listen to the ceremony.
Oohs and ahhs were heard as the chandeliers were raised and the hall came to life.
Father raised his hand in the air to silence everyone to make his announcement. “Many years ago, my son saved the life of a very special young woman. Despite many trials and tribulations they fell in love. Tragedy struck and that young woman was taken from us too soon but in return we got my grandson, Jacob.”
Jacob had slipped away and was now standing next to his grandfather. “I’ve lived my entire life wanting to know who my mother was…I spent many nights dreaming of meeting her. Now…Uncle Joe and Aunt Jenny along with our newest friends Kate and Rick have brought us a very special surprise this year…”
“I thought I was going to surprise everyone but an announcement about it? That’s too much!”
All eyes turned as Devin as he came in through the main door.
Jacob grinned widely. “Hey Uncle Devin!”
“Hey kid! Hiya pops!”
Father hugged him warmly and grabbed his arm. “Son, it is wonderful to see you…please believe that…but the surprise…”
Father looked up and nodded then motioned with his arm to the steps. All eyes followed his gaze and several people gasped as they saw Vincent begin to walk down the steps with Catherine holding tightly to his arm. Following closely behind them were the very nervous twins.
Gasps could be heard and people began to cheer.
Devin’s mouth hung open in shock as he walked to the bottom of the steps. He tapped Vincent on the arm affectionately and turned immediately to Catherine.
He grabbed her and spun her around as he hugged her warmly. “My God, I can’t believe you’re alive!”
Catherine smiled at him. “Well…I am.”
Devin glanced at the twins. “And you’ve been busy…”
Vincent squeezed his shoulder. “Devin, Catherine gave me two more sons. Meet Charles.”
Devin shook hands with Charles.
“Nice to meet you…Uncle Devin.” Charles said.
Devin grinned and pulled the boy into a hug. “Nice to meet you too, Charles.”
He looked to Vincent to introduce the other twin. “Devin…meet…Devin.”
Devin looked at Catherine for confirmation and she nodded. He looked proudly back at his namesake. “Nice to me you, Devin.”
“You too, Uncle Devin.”
The two hugged and Devin clasped them both on the shoulder. “You two look exactly like your Dad did.”
Devin smiled devilishly. “Really…most people say we look like our Mom.”
Devin looked at him in confusion until he saw the twinkle in his nephew’s eye. “Oh, no…you’re a handful aren’t you?”
Devin grabbed his nephew and roughly hugged him again.
For over the next three hours, Vincent and Catherine answered questions and then introduced their sons to everyone. Finally, the room began to settle and they got a chance to get something to eat and drink.
The tempo of the music slowed and Catherine watched as Joe and Jenny and Rick and Kate made their way to the dance floor. She saw Rebecca and Matthew on the floor already as well as Kanin and Olivia.
“Can we dance, Vincent?”
Vincent smiled and led her out onto the dance floor. The lights dimmed and they became lost in each others eyes. Two songs later, the tempo increased and the other couples left the floor but Vincent and Catherine were oblivious to everything going on around them.
Devin and Charles stood next to them with Debbie and Kelly.
“Mom?!” Charles asked.
Catherine’s head was nestled under Vincent’s chin as she rested against his chest. “Hmmm?”
Devin was exasperated. “Mom! You’re embarrassing us!”
Vincent looked up to see the teenagers of the community lining up to do one of their popular dances. “Catherine…” he whispered.
Catherine pulled away and sighed. “All right…”
Vincent led her off the dance floor and headed to get them something to drink. Catherine was surprised to see how many people had already left.
She wandered over by Kate and Rick and Joe and Jenny.
“So many people have already left…” she said with surprise.
Joe looked over at the huge group of teenagers on the dance floor. “No…it’s just the next generation of helpers taking over.”
Kate stifled a yawn. “This had been a wonderful party but I’m exhausted. Rick and I are heading home.”
Joe nodded. “Me too…last night was the longest night ever.”
Jenny looked over and motioned for her eldest daughters. They came over and looked at her curiously. “Dad and I are heading home. Your brother and sisters are in the dorms and you two need to be in the dorms no later than midnight.”
Debbie rolled her eyes and looked away while Kelly pinched her hard to shut her up. “Okay, mom!”
“We’ll be down in the morning to help clean up.” Joe announced.
Joe and Jenny led Kate and Rick back to their house so they could get Rick’s car and continue home.
Devin walked over and smiled at Vincent. “You two can head out too. I’ll chaperone these guys.”
Vincent nodded. “Thank you, Devin.”
Catherine came over and hugged him. “Maybe tomorrow we can tell you the whole story.”
“I’d love to hear it, Cath.”
“See you in the morning, Dev,” Vincent said as he guided Catherine out.
A short time later, he guided Catherine into his chamber then turned and lowered the blanket over his chamber door.
He stood looking at her uncertainly and Catherine reached out her hand to him.
“It was a wonderful Winterfest.”
Catherine eyes were filled with desire as she looked up at him. “Vincent?”
He leaned down and kissed her and Catherine slipped her arms around his neck. Vincent boldly deepened the kiss, and Catherine moaned in surprise.
She backed up slowly and looked at him. “Make love to me, Vincent.”
He reached forward and slipped his thumbs under the straps of her gown then gently tugged them down her arms until Catherine yelped.
He backed up in surprise and looked at his hands. “I’m sorry!”
“What?” Catherine asked distractedly as she reached inside to remove the double faced tape that was holding the dress to her breasts.
Vincent cocked his head as he watched her and realized what had happened. Relived he hadn’t hurt he, he placed his hands on the straps and continued to slip them off her shoulders.
Catherine watched his eyes darken as the dress slipped to the floor to puddle at her feet. She reached up and started to unbutton his shirt then stepped forward and as each button came undone kissed his chest.
Vincent was panting heavily by the time she slipped his shirt off. Lovingly, he lifted her and placed her gently on the bed. Catherine gasped as he kicked off his shoes and dropped his pants to the floor then hopped into bed next to her.
Surprised at his boldness, she touched him gently. “I love that you’re so comfortable with this…”
“We’ve waited a lifetime, Catherine.”
He pulled her close and kissed her passionately.
Hands lovingly touched one another and the caresses became passionate and they finally shared their love.
Afterwards, Catherine snuggled against him felt herself drifting to sleep.
“I wonder if every Winterfest will be this good?”
“Now that you’re back in our lives I think that every day will be this good.”