"My body aches to breathe your breath...

And I would be the one to hold you down

Kiss you so hard I'd take your breath away&

Into this night I wander, it's morning that I dread.

Another day of knowing of the path I fear to tread.

Oh into the sea of waking dreams I follow without pride.

Nothing stands between us here, and I won't be denied."

Sarah McLachlan: 'Possession'

From the album: 'Fumbling towards Ecstasy'

 

CHAPTER SIXTEEN


Three days. It had been three days since they had& how to describe it? Fought? Played? Only three days since he had instinctively loosed that iron grip on his strength with her - and she had been unharmed! The fact still shook him to the core. Always he had to be so careful with others, especially her. Could it be true? Lost in thought, Vincent paced the limits of his chamber.

Last night, unable to bear unsubstantiated speculation further, he had spoken to Father. Peter would have discussed Catherine's case with him, since Father was the primary and only physician Below. He had desperately needed some answers.

* * * * *

Father sighed and slouched back in his chair. By all rights he should rejoice. Before Catherine had come Below, the odds of winning a chess match with his son were ridiculously high. Now he was well on his way to his second win of the week. He would have been elated if it weren't so obvious that Vincent's mind was elsewhere. "Vincent? Vincent?"

Startled out of his chaotic thoughts, Vincent refocused on the chessboard before him. It must be his move again. Surveying his choices, Vincent realized that Father had him neatly boxed in, mate in three moves. Sighing, he reached forward and tipped his king in defeat. "Congratulations, Father, well-played."

"Stuff and nonsense! By rights I should never have won this match." Rising, Father moved his chair to sit closer to his son, and rested his hand on the broad shoulder. "You're worried about Catherine, aren't you?"

Vincent's head jerked away at Father's words, and unconsciously his claws dug into the wooden arms of his chair, adding another series of punctures to the much-abused piece of furniture. "Worried? Yes& and no." Abruptly he rose from his chair and walked to the sideboard to idly examine a book.

Father settled back to wait patiently. Not many people knew Vincent as well as he. When he needed to talk about something personal, he could not be hurried. Vincent would gather his thoughts, and weigh every word before beginning.

"Two days ago, when you followed Catherine and me to my chamber. I& we, were& it was a moment of&" Vincent loosed an explosive sigh. This was not going to be easy. "We had been indulging in what you have called horseplay. In the past, in my youth, when playing with other children in a like manner, I had to be so careful. I was always conscious of my greater strength, my claws. I always had to be aware and hold back. But, after you left I realized that with Catherine I had not held back. At all. It terrified me! And yet, she was unharmed! Tell me, how this can be?"

Father nodded slowly. It made sense. "You must still take great care. But what you have said doesn't surprise me."

"Why?" Vincent sank back down into his chair and leaned forward intently.

"When Peter discussed with me the changes Catherine has experienced, we made several informed guesses based on external evidence. Neither of you has ever undergone any sort of advanced medical testing. But as physicians we can both make several assumptions with a strong degree of certainty. We think that, in both of you, your bones, your musculature, is denser than an average person's. Much denser. That is why it is so hard to inject you with a needle, and why you can withstand much more physical damage. Knives don't cut as deep; bullets do less damage. Although keep in mind you are certainly not invincible, as past events have shown." Father cringed inwardly. The memories of the many times he had patched up his son after he had been forced into protecting Catherine, or their world, were not pleasant. "I think Catherine's changes have made her the equal of you, now. Perhaps your& responses have always been instinctively geared to someone like yourself. Someone with Catherine's present capacity to withstand them."

Silence fell, as Father watched his son contemplate the implications of that possibility.

* * * * *

Vincent turned over Father's remembered words. Reluctantly, he recalled the incident in the catacombs, when he had been so sure his claws would not harm her. Was it only three weeks ago? He had hurt her then& but, would the same attentions harm her now?

Ceasing his pacing, Vincent settled down into his well-worn chair and pulled his journal towards him.

What to believe? My mind is in turmoil. That part of me that is instinct assures all is well, that my attentions cannot harm Catherine. It urges me to go to her and take what I want. What she wants as well. Even Father's words seem to confirm this is truth. The temptation& I can barely pass her in the tunnels without reaching for her, giving no thought to consequences or even location. Her scent, it continues to change, each day becoming richer and sweeter. I feel it tear my walls of resolve.

And yet& how does one shake the fears of a lifetime? What if they are not unfounded? What if that wonderful moment here in this chamber was some sort of fluke? Or am I just scrambling for excuses, in fear that all that I am will not be sufficient? Can anything exist which will make the losses Catherine has suffered, due to her changes, easier to bear? The profound alteration is not my fault, but yet is, for if I did not exist Catherine might still be human.

Last night was& difficult. She was there, at story hour. The children love her even more now. Eric especially is drawn to her. As am I. I must remember how strange this must seem to her, and how she struggles to reconcile what her life has become. For her, I wish she were unchanged, able to live her life Above, to enjoy all that world can offer. And yet, I cannot deny her new and unique beauty. Is this so wrong? Her scent, the wilder aspect I sense through our bond, draws me, more powerfully than ever. Would she welcome this knowledge?

All I know is that I grow weary of questions, and of struggle.

Vincent set his pen down and replaced his journal in its customary drawer. For a moment his eyes strayed to the new addition to his chamber. Yesterday's project. A piece of a discarded theater curtain had been strung across the entrance; the heavy and faded red fabric now providing a thick, opaque barrier. Was it too obvious? Was it hoping for too much? That someday, someday soon, the privacy it provided might be wanted?

Resolutely, Vincent rose and departed for the dining hall. Evening meal had been announced over the pipes more than an hour ago. It was time to stop hiding.

* * * * *

The dining hall crowd was beginning to thin as Catherine lifted the last of the heavy kettles and carried it to the serving station. A tingle of pride rose within her at the feat. It usually took William and another strong person to lift the huge iron pots when full. She had to suppress a grin as an image of her in blue tights and a red cape popped to mind. 'Faster than a speeding Vincent, more powerful than a locomotive, able to lift huge kettles with a single arm'. Well& OK that was a bit of an exaggeration. She definitely needed to use both arms. Still, it was a funny thought.

"Thank you, Catherine. Why don't you go and eat now? There won't be many more coming, it's getting late." William's gruff voice held warmth that had been absent when she had begun this work shift in the kitchen. At first she had sensed his nervousness around her, but the last few days of working together had done much to ameliorate his fears. She had to hand it to Father, this had been his idea, and it seemed he certainly knew how to handle William. She and William had each gained a new respect for the other. The sheer logistics of feeding a large crowd with limited means had amazed her, as did the amount of planning necessary. Tonight's dinner would be recycled, with some minor additions, into tomorrow's lunch soup. Waste was not an option Below.

Catherine filled a bowl with the delicious beef stew. Several slices of fresh buttered bread and a glass of milk were added to her tray. She had to wince at the large portion she had ladled out for herself. Her appetite had never returned to its former diminutive state. It seemed her new body needed more fuel that it had in the past. 'Oh well', she thought as she surreptitiously tweaked another slice of bread onto her tray.

Turning to the long trestle tables, she spied Jamie and Mouse. The two had come in late, probably delayed by some new scheme. Most people assumed that Mouse was the only culprit behind the quest for better gizmos. It would surprise many to know that quite often it was Jamie and her search for better security procedures that had instigated several of Mouse's projects. Over the last few months, and especially since she had proven so effective with her crossbow during the incident which had cost Winslow's life, Jamie had become more involved in helping Vincent plan and oversee tunnel security. During Vincent's illness, she had all but taken over for him. It would be fair to say that, despite her youth, she was effectively Vincent's second in command. Catherine would put money on the fact that Jamie would be elected to the council within the next couple of years. Responding to Jamie's wave and Mouse's delighted grin; she joined them at their table.

* * * * *

Vincent stopped just inside the dining hall entrance. He had known through the bond that she was here. But he did not need that connection to announce her presence, even in a room this size. Nothing could have prepared him for it. Like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck, he stood frozen, thoughts of anything but her stripped from his mind.

This must stop! Vincent struggled to think coherently, only to be swamped under iron longing. The world narrowed, until it held only her. Like velvet chains, her scent wrapped itself around him, and pulled. Sweetly. Softly. Irresistibly. Vincent strove to deny that pull, like a drowning man still struggling for the surface even as he sinks. Strove to resist, until she raised her head and met his eyes.

Oh, but he was beautiful! His glorious mane spilled across his shoulders, softly gathering and reflecting the warm lantern light with a hazy golden glow. Strength seemed to radiate through him, an imposing presence that could not be denied. Under winged brows, intense blue eyes met hers with an almost electric shock of connection. Feelings sped through the bond, which vibrated under their intensity. Feelings of longing, of admiration, of inescapable and limitless desire.

'He likes the way I look. He wants me.' Catherine thought dizzily. As she liked the way he looked, almost from the very beginning. As she wanted him. Under the onslaught of these simple truths, uncertainties disappeared.

Resistance crumbled.

Panther-like, Vincent strode across the dining hall to Catherine, without once losing eye contact. As he drew closer her scent swirled about him, growing sweeter still as she sensed his intent. One hand reached out unhesitatingly to rest on her shoulder, and without conscious realization his claws extended, digging into her collarbones. Through the bond he could feel her helpless response.

Oh, delicious! Catherine was held immobile by the resolve she felt through the bond, and could see reflected in his hot stare. He desired her, and he would have her. Mouth dry, Catherine licked her lower lip, as curls of excitement rolled through her lower abdomen.

Vincent felt as if he were poleaxed, almost forgetting to breathe. The delicate pink of her tongue running over that moist, soft lower lip, a minute flash of ivory fang. The imagined sensation of those teeth softly biting his shoulder and that tongue soothing the spot flashed through his mind, and he felt his body tighten and shudder with savage joy. Blue eyes turned hazy as his lifted his left hand to slide it into her thick mane.

Vibration. As his hands slid up her neck, he could feel as well as hear the soft, purring rumble shivering through her body. Beckoning. Instinctively, Vincent responded with a low answering growl of his own. Claiming&

"What's wrong?" There was fear in Jamie's voice. Vincent stood to the side of Catherine, and was growling at her like an animal. What was this? Was Vincent getting sick again, going to hurt Catherine again?

Ignoring her question, Vincent and Catherine continued to stare at each other, and before Jamie's horrified eyes Vincent began to wrinkle his lips back, dropping his jaw to fully expose long white fangs.

She was his. He knew it. She knew it. He was hers. He could feel her desire to have him, to leave her scent, her mark on his body. Instinct demanded he take her, take her now! Complete the connection&

"Vincent!" Automatically Jamie reached forward to grab Vincent's arm, shaking him. "Vincent, no!"

Dimly, Vincent felt the touch of another break through his sensual haze. Another, trying to interfere, to deny them yet again. Who would dare? Vincent's menacing snarl of warning swept through the chamber and through the bond, echoed by Catherine's corresponding fury. Whiplike, both spun to face the interloper. The fear in Jamie's eyes shook him, abruptly breaking through his anger.

Female. The challenge was female! Catherine felt a searing flash fire of rage crack through her. He was hers! An intense prickling sensation swept down her back, as every hair on her mane stood on end. Adrenaline screamed through nerves as she leapt to her feet and readied herself to fight for the right to this male. He was hers! Unconsciously, a harsh roar ripped from her chest as she raised her extended claws to strike down the challenger and shred her to ribbons!

Strong arms came around her as Vincent hauled her away, back against him. "No, Catherine. All is well. It's only Jamie, she meant no harm. Softly, now." The reassuring words and Vincent's solid strength projected soothing calm, and through the bond he funneled that same feeling against her howling, instinctive response. Catherine felt the red haze that gripped her dissolve, leaving her shaking violently. Before her, Jamie had collapsed bonelessly to her chair, white faced and wide-eyed. Mouse stood beside her, looking terrified.

"What&? I'm sorry. I& didn't realize. Jamie, I'm so sorry." Trembling, Catherine leaned into Vincent. Turning her head to bury it in his chest, she caught William's gaze. He looked away quickly in an unsuccessful attempt to conceal his own fear.

"Get me out of here, Vincent? Please?"

* * * * *

"I might have killed her! It was as if a part of me felt she would try to steal you away from me, and I wanted to kill her!"

Catherine strode the perimeter of Vincent's chamber, gesturing wildly in agitation, brushing the occasional tear from her eyes. How could this have happened? She must be more animal that she had thought. How could she turn on a friend? Passing by the entrance, she brushed the faded velvet curtain, making it sway. She had barely noticed it when she had arrived, sunken in horror at what she had almost done.

Finally coming to a stop beside the book-laden table, she allowed her gaze to settle on Vincent. At her mumbled request he had swept her from the chamber, leading her directly here, the place Below where she felt most at home. Once inside, he had pulled the curtain closed and retreated to lean against the upper level ladder.

"These responses are new to you. You did not expect this."

"How on earth could I ever have expected that! How could I even think of attacking my friends? First Peter, and now Jamie!" A measure of calm was beginning to surface in her voice as she began to move again, albeit a more relaxed contemplative stride rather than the frantic driven pace she had used previously. "I was under no hallucinogenic drug. I am not ill; at least I don't think so. That was pure vicious jealousy. How can I live with that?"

"The same way I've lived with it. You learn to anticipate it. You accept that it exists, and control it."

Catherine stopped abruptly. "Is this how you felt? With Michael? And, oh God, with Elliot?"

Vincent dropped his head, allowing his mane to sweep forward and hide his features. Yes, he had felt that way. He had wanted to tear them apart for daring to touch her. That had been his struggle. The struggle Catherine could not have truly understood, until now.

"I'm sorry. I didn't understand. I didn't really know how&"

"It is in the past, Catherine. Done. I had no claim on you; it was not my place to interfere. You had a right to a full life, to the things I could never give you. I understood this. As you must understand now that this is part of who, of what, we are. Many times our reactions may be stronger or different than others expect. Our struggle is to control these reactions, so that we can live with our friends and family in harmony. Self acceptance is one thing, but always we must tread that fine line we've discussed previously."

As he spoke, Catherine had begun moving again. As she passed nearby, her enticing scent slid to him, through him. Feeling almost dizzy from it, Vincent closed his eyes. 'No. She needs counsel, now.' Giving himself a mental shake, he forced his focus back to her turmoil.

"I didn't do that very well tonight, did I? Just when William started to relax around me, something like this has to happen. And what will I say to Jamie? To Mouse?"

"You have apologized. Perhaps you could reiterate that tomorrow, when all involved have calmed. Otherwise, there's nothing to be done. It happened. Give William and the others time. Eventually this will smooth over." As Catherine began to relax further, Vincent felt the inexorable resurgence of the feelings he had pushed aside in the dining chamber. Heated eyes followed her continuing progress around his chamber with purely masculine appreciation.

Expelling a heavy sigh, Catherine felt the last of the tension leave her, as she slowed to a halt in front of Vincent. He was right. What was done was done. "How did you get so wise?"

He couldn't help it, he had to laugh. Him? Wise? Hardly.

With a reluctant smile, Catherine looked up and felt a vise snap closed around her chest. Breathing halted. Vincent's blue eyes shone dark with barely suppressed passion, and Catherine's knees trembled under the weight of his regard. His intense gaze wandered hotly across her face. Through the bond she could feel the swell and rise of desire. His? Hers? She closed her eyes as ribbons of sensation cascaded through her body, a delicate shower of needles, sweetly piercing.

His work-roughened hand rose, one finger extended to touch and stroke up the fur on her nose. Wonderingly he slid it lightly across one winged brow, and moved it down to slip through her honey brown mane. It pushed her hair back, exposing the scar that still remained on her cheek.

"Catherine?"

Slumberous gray-green eyes slowly opened and focused on the beloved golden face looming above her.

"Tell me now if I assume too much. Tell me now, while I can still—"

Delicate clawed hands rose to slide behind his neck, spearing through the thick mass of mane. Rising on her toes, Catherine gave her answer. Softly, her muzzle brushed against his, the masculine fur like velvet under her sensitive skin. Her lower lip slipped moistly across his, following the progress of her tongue, as she licked upwards under the pads of his upper lip to glide across the underside of his cleft. Softly, she repeated the motion; a strange, dragging kiss unconsciously designed to accommodate their unique facial structures. .

Vincent felt his breath stutter and stop at the incredible electric sensation. Emotions battered him. Her desire for his touch, here and now. The knowledge he had always craved yet feared. And he was so tired of resisting her, so tired of denying himself, denying the reality and rightness of this. Automatically he stiffened as she swayed forward to press against him, and his head sagged back. The feel of her!

"Vincent, please?" Her trembling voice softly breathed his name, and helpless, Vincent looked back down at the delicate woman who rested against his body. The wet glisten of their kisses on her lips almost brought him to his knees. Did he dare? But her hands were tugging him downward, the scent of her desire wrapping around his senses. Everything he was cried out for this, and met an echo of desperate longing from her.

He was lost.

Catherine felt the hand buried in her hair slide further inward to cup the back of her head firmly. An electric jolt snapped through her as his other hand brushed her hip, moving upwards to her waist, pulling her closer and harder against him. His scent surrounded her, leather, candle smoke, earth, and that indefinable heady musk that was Vincent's alone. Her eyes drifted shut as his head lowered slowly, too slowly, to her, his breath whispering against her lips. At the last minute, Vincent tipped her head to the side. Catherine's ragged moan broke the stillness as he copied her sliding moist kiss, the softness of the hair on his chin stroking across her cheek.

Oh, he had dreamed of this for so long! To feel her kiss, the softness of her lips under his, the feel of her warm body against him. Long drugging kisses which seemed to last forever yet were never enough, seeking tongues finding and entwining, tasting each other. The slick ivory glide of fang against flesh. Ignoring her whimper of protest, Vincent moved his mouth in a moist caress across her cheek to lick the revealed scar, her taste salty sweet on his tongue. Gusting pants of breath echoed as he gently nuzzled her ear. Catherine gasped and her claws in his mane flexed in response to his gentle nip on her earlobe, soothed immediately with a sucking kiss. He sensed faint vibration against his lips only moments before hearing the low trill of her enticing purr, speaking wordlessly of her pleasure, confirming the anticipation flowing through the bond.

He shuddered against her, a deep answering rumble shaking his chest in reaction to her feminine plea. That intoxicating facet of her scent, still new yet instinctively recognized, spiraled to engulf him, that note which spoke of her willingness, of her body's readiness and longing for his. Unconsciously, his hand moved on her back, stroking downwards to cup and lift her more fully against him.

Catherine became aware of the hard ridge of Vincent's primal male response pressing into her belly. Shards of sensation rained through her abdomen, and Catherine arched her back, only wanting to be closer, to feel his flesh against hers. An exquisite ache flowered and began to build in that clutching part of her that readied itself for him, wet and hot. A burst of impatience at the layers of clothes between them made her growl softly. It melted into a shivering sigh as Vincent's mouth glided down her neck.

Against his lips, Vincent could feel the thrum of Catherine's blood pulsing heavily, close to the skin, underlining her purr of rapture. This woman was his. Her scent confirmed it. The bond verified it. All that remained was his final claim of her. Catherine's desire swirled across the bond to him, through him, as instinctively she dropped her head to the side to fully expose her soft throat. Completely at the mercy of spiraling pleasure, Vincent snapped his fangs against her neck with a menacing growl and bore down firmly.

Catherine felt herself go limp as her entire being focused on those four points of delicious pressure, the hot flash of breath against her sensitive skin, the dominant snarl which spoke of his claim. The wild part of her melted instantly in response to the viselike grip of his sharp teeth on her neck. Her soft purr of pleasure stuttered and deepened to a guttural moan of liquid submission.

Vincent reveled in the sound. Slackening his jaw, his tongue slid out to softly bathe the four small red marks on Catherine's neck, eliciting another of those moaning trills of delight. The grip of her claws in his mane slackened as she trailed them down through the thick mass to his shoulders. Their contact ended as her progress fetched up against his heavy vest. Growling again with impatience, she mindlessly tugged at the offending garment. She wanted it off. All of it. As did he.

Vincent's hands crept back up to Catherine's waist and slipped under her heavy wool sweater to slide against soft cotton. Realizing his intent, Catherine lifted her arms and pulled the sweater over her head. The cool air of the chamber made her nipples stiffen even more, and Vincent was struck dumb by the sight.

How many times had he forced his eyes away from this? When she had come to her balcony on a cool evening, clad in the luxurious silk or satin she favored, had she realized what the sight of her curves did to him? The intense desire to touch, to cradle that exquisite softness in his hand, to bend his head and take those enticing points into his mouth, to taste& Even now, he felt a lingering hesitation. Until Catherine took his trembling hand in hers, and raised it to enfold a delicate mound.

So soft! So warm and pliant under his callused palm. Carefully, oh so carefully he smoothed his hand around her, barely hearing her sensual rumble of encouragement. A clawed thumb leisurely smoothed over a hardened peak repeatedly, each touch causing a catch in Catherine's breath. Consumed with the desire to see as well as touch, almost roughly he tugged the T-shirt from the waistband of her jeans and sent it on the same path as the sweater had taken. The light cradle of soft blue lace bra did practically nothing to hide her enticing curves. Her hands trembling, Catherine reached up and undid the catch between, revealing the breasts that tipped upwards as if begging for his touch, his kiss. The dark rose of her nipples drew him like a magnet.

Catherine jerked helplessly at the touch of his hand on her bare flesh. Soft fur stroked her skin as Vincent ran the back of his hands against the underside of her breasts, lifting them. The rough palms of his hands engulfed the exquisite mounds, wrenching an explosive gasp from him as he discovered their delicate firmness. Powerless to resist, he lowered his face to brush the soft velvet of his cheek across their sensitive surfaces. Her hands fell to his shoulders, taking a tight grip as she waited breathlessly, dying for the enveloping warmth of his mouth. A pleading whimper slipped out as the cleft of his lip slid across her nipple.

Heat. Wet moistness. Catherine felt a shaft of pleasure so intense it was almost painful arrow down from her left breast to sink thorough her groin. To feel his mouth on her, at last! Vincent drew her left nipple into his mouth, circling it carefully with his rough tongue. Sensation shivered in rippling currents through her as he slid his mouth from her left breast to her right. The hard scrape of a canine slipped across her sensitized flesh. She let out a sobbing cry as her knees buckled and she sagged limply into Vincent's iron embrace.

Vincent felt her collapse and caught her close. She was a feast to the senses. Sight, sound, taste, she filled his soul with light. She loved the feel of his hands, his mouth! Through the bond he could feel her intense pleasure, as well as her frantic desire to feel his bare flesh under her hands. How could he deny her? With a low growl, he swept her into his arms and strode swiftly to set her on the side of his bed.

She was consumed with the need to touch him. Feverishly, her hands worked at the ties on his vest, tearing several in her impatience. As he worked on the layers of shirts her hands swept to the heavy leather belt he wore. The unusual fastening of his belt confounded her attempts at removal, and a sharp snarl of frustration burst free. Finally she managed to release the catch and the belt fell with a heavy thud to the floor. Vincent's hands beat her to the fastenings of his heavy denim jeans. He swiftly undid the four buttons, and pushed down to remove both jeans and underwear.

An unexpected reflexive flash of fear gripped him. What was he doing? How could he expose his differences to a woman, to any woman? Especially Catherine! She had never seen anyone like him, how could she? Paralyzed with anxiety, he could not lift his eyes from the floor at his feet; apprehension clamped closed the bond.

Another pair of light blue denim jeans landed on the floor beneath his feet. Seconds later Catherine's blue lace bra fell atop it, followed by a matching strip of delicate lace trimmed satin. Her softly furred hand gently stroked into the line of mane arrowing past his navel. Sharp claws creased furrows through his dense haircoat, sliding upwards. Those hands continued their way through the light fur on his abdomen to reach his chest. Here the long hair was just enough to easily grasp, and with a light tug she pulled him towards her. Lifting his stunned and shy eyes to gaze into her sultry sea-green depths, he felt a leap of relief. Her light, rippling growl of appreciation settled over him, and banished to the winds those last lingering shreds of self-doubt that had plagued him all his life.

He was so beautiful! No artist could ever completely capture the magnificent virility and aura of primal male that was as natural as breathing to her Vincent. The long golden hair that wrapped around her fingers was all rough silk, sexy and untamed. Gently she tugged again, drawing him down to the bed beside her.

Her hands had a life of their own, travelling over strong shoulders to bury themselves again into that irresistible rough blanket of fur that covered his chest. Small male nipples were hidden beneath, but her burrowing fingers sought them out to lightly tease. Vincent's eyes drifted shut in surrender, as for the first time he felt the softness of a woman's touch, Catherine's touch. His stomach muscles clenched visibly, as she leaned forward to gently bite the dark flesh of his nipple. Planting a light kiss of unrepentant apology, she continued her glorious exploration. Stroking hands retraced their path back through the thick fur on his chest and continued downwards to where his fur darkened and spread to embrace his manhood.

Catherine felt a rush of heat at the sight, and another trilling growl of appreciation vibrated forth. Nestled amidst the red copper curls, his penis reared rock hard and strong. Like Vincent himself, it stood larger than most, above average but not beyond the scope of what was considered normal. Made much the same as that of any other man she had known except for the color, the same dark copper of his nipples, a color that was duplicated in the two rich looking globes that hung beneath. Carefully, she slid a finger along the base, trailing it lightly to the tip, making him draw a deep hissing breath. The rough glide became smooth and slick as her finger encountered a drop of moisture at the tip. Softly, she used its slippery wetness to trace circles around the flared head.

He was going mad. Surely she realized he couldn't endure this? It was torture! He could not resist looking down to watch her stroking him so intimately. It was a dream. Such could not be happening, not to him! But the bond confirmed her sensual enjoyment at touching him, touching him there! The shivering rumble from his chest broadcast the intense pleasure he felt at her exploration of his most intimate place. Briefly he closed his eyes, stunned at the intensity of their entwining pleasure. A warm and moist gust of air swirled over his groin, and his eyes flashed wide open in shock. Not possible! She would not! A wrenching moan of disbelief was wrung from him as Catherine delicately ran her tongue along his length to swirl around and engulf him.

A low roar shuddered forth as his hands clenched upon the bedclothes, several sharp claws puncturing the quilt. Understanding his predicament, Catherine eased her way back up the length of his panting body, pausing for several light nips. The roar had resolved into a rough rumble, echoing her own.

The scent of her, if such were possible, intensified further. It cried to him of her desire, of her longing. Beckoning, it pleaded for him to ease her pain. Rolling to his side, his large hand smoothed across her belly, which quivered uncontrollably at his touch. Progressing in gradual increments to the source of that drugging scent, one carefully bent finger furrowed through the nest of dark hair at the juncture of her thighs to slip into the wetness that waited below. Catherine flinched helplessly as his light touch burned through her.

Enough. Both crumpled beneath the surging, driving need for completion. Restraint shattered, as Vincent moved over his Catherine, his mate. Her welcoming body opened beneath him, her calves stroking desperate encouragement against the back of his thighs. Blue eyes darkened to midnight met stormy green in mutual assent. Both moaned uncontrollably at the touch of his manhood against her readiness. Catherine angled her hips to facilitate his length as with an uncompromising thrust he slid deeply inside. Now, and forever his, as he was hers.

It was not slow, this first loving. Not tender. Each had waited too long, too many lonely nights and years, for this moment. It was passionate. It was desperate. It was relentless. Pleasure for one was pleasure for both as the bond looped sensation from one to the other, from the tiniest shiver to depthless raging hunger for more, stronger, deeper!

Perhaps it began with Vincent, perhaps not. A thick moaning growl built slowly and ripped from his chest as together they experienced pleasure so intense it bordered on pain. In a roaring crescendo of completion, it seemed as if his very essence surged into Catherine's welcoming heat. The cataclysm struck and raged through both equally, mercilessly, shaking them in a hurricane of anguished release, and cast them out together, spent, onto an unfamiliar shore.


Continued in Chapter 17