Catherine walked toward the main hub with a mixture of anticipation and curiosity. Vincent had apparently forgotten about their date and by all rights, she should be angry. But knowing Vincent as well as she did, she knew there had to be some reasonable explanation for his lack of consideration. With determination, she hastened her stride.
Her search led her to Father's study. "Hello,
Catherine," he called out.
"Good evening, Father. Have you seen
"No, but I think I know where he is."
When no explanation was forthcoming, Catherine crossed her arms and tapped the toe of her shoe against the floor.
"Oh, I'm sorry. This morning, Vincent found
same newborn kittens that had been abandoned.
He's been working with them all day. A hopeless
cause I'm afraid. So far they've all died except one.
Father scratched his chin and stared thoughtfully at
something just beyond Catherine. "I've never seen
him so obsessed about something before.
"Vincent stood me up for some kittens?"
Father laughed. "I'm sorry my dear, but it
does prove my point. It's not like him at all to forget
a date with you. I think you'll find him in the kitchen
area. He and William concocted some milk to try to
feed the kittens."
When Catherine entered the warm, cozy
chamber known as the kitchen she was rendered
speechless by the sight before her. Vincent sat
crosslegged on the floor amid numerous bottles and
droppers cradling a small fury object tenderly in his
large hand. When he looked up at her, she saw the
tears streaming down his face and her heart ached.
Quietly, she walked over and knelt down
beside him. With one hand, she gently stroked
Vincent's hair and with the other, she touched the
small bundle of fur in his hand. The kitten was dead.
"I'm sorry, Vincent."
"Why, Catherine?" he asked as he stared
down at the lifeless kitten.
"They just weren't strong enough to survive
without their mother. You did all you could."
"I know that. What I don't understand is why
any mother could abandon her baby."
Catherine quickly realized that what was
bothering Vincent went much deeper than abandoned
kittens. "I don't know, Vincent. Usually when a
mother abandons her young, there's a reason. We
don't always understand it, but something terrible
must have happened. It's possible the mother didn't
survive the birth or she could have been killed
defending her young. Don't judge her too harshly.
She meant both the mother cat and Vincent's own
"It's not fair! Their lives had only just begun."
The sight of that small kitten held so lovingly
in Vincent's clawed hands was such a striking
contrast. Hands capable of ripping a man open with
one deadly swipe now gently enfolded the kitten with
great tenderness. The tears continued down his
fearful face giving it a vulnerability she was sure only
a few had ever seen.
"Oh, Vincent. I wish I could make all the hurt
go away. All I can do is remind you of the love you
found here. Just as Father took you in and loved
you, you gave these little orphans the only love they
Vincent placed the tiny body next to the
others and gently covered them with a small towel.
After talking a few moments to regain his composure,
he apologized, "I'm sorry about this evening,
"No apology necessary. Sitting here with you
like this has meant more to me than anything I had
planned." Very carefully, she leaned over and kissed
him on the cheek.
His face, red with embarrassment, turned to
her shyly. "Why?"
"Because it takes the noblest of hearts to cry
for the simplest of lives."
"Every life is precious, Catherine. No matter
how small or how brief."
Again she sensed he was talking about
himself. "Vincent, you were a baby when you were
abandoned. Surely, you don't remember that?"
"I remember the feeling of utter aloneness. I
remember the terror and the cold. It's a feeling I live
with every day of my life.
She could feel it in him as he spoke and
responded instinctively. Putting her arms around him,
she guided his head to gently rest against her
breast. "You're not alone, Vincent. You never will
She wasn't sure how long they sat in silence
and didn't really care. All she knew was that he
needed to be held and comforted by a woman and
she wanted to be that woman.
Much later that night, they stood at the
entrance below her apartment building. Unexpectedly,
Vincent took her hand and kissed it. "Thank you,
"You don't have to thank me, Vincent. I'm
here for you as you are for me, but I don't want to
be your mother! There are other roles in your life I
have in mind for myself. Goodnight, Vincent."
Vincent watched her disappear into the light in
silence, his mind suddenly awash with images of
those OTHER roles.
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