sequel to The Only Gift

IRON BEHIND THE VELVET

 

 

chapter 54 ~ The Heart after Years of Secret Conversing, Speaking Outloud in the Clear Air

This strength is a quiet one.
This strength is and always has been.

 

The moment they’d shared on the path had been no more than the exchange of a look, the briefest, briefest touch. Whether by the gleam of lamplight from the house or the flare of his focus, her upturned face was illumined, a sheen of astonishment and faith showing on her skin.

You’re here. Her silent address …

            Always. His wordless confirmation …

I’ll explain.

            I know enough.

And then her hand was gone from his and on the latch of the archway door yet ajar from his own hurried exit, and Eimear was through and Catherine behind her, both of them disappearing below, the sound of their footfalls tempered by solid stone, their rush and hush, to his senses, though, as forceful, as loud as any gust through the Cave of the Winds. The locking bar anchored to its brackets, he’d pressed his ear to the planks. No voices, no mutters or shouts, no sense of close-following menace … Only the steady vibration of the city – the whine of tires on macadam, the hammer of worn bearings, rods and pins.

And yet … something shadowed …

He stepped down from the last chiseled rise into the tight circle of Catherine’s arms. Against his chest her heart thrummed; her breath was warm and fast on his hand that smoothed her hair, on his throat at the parting of his flannel collar. He turned his cheek to her crown, sought out their visitor. Already Eimear edged out into the corridor from the rectory’s secret cellar. From across the flagstone floor she met his gaze, her wide-eyed expression a plait of distress and exhilaration, an awed curiosity moderating the aftermath of flight that powered the venous pulse in her neck.

First meeting, face to face, his second in a single night. A second with no hesitancies, no scrabble for the mask of his hood. In Catherine’s embrace … no retreat from the claim of love.

“I’m Eimear,” she said, too softly for echo.

Catherine shifted to his side; her arm went around his waist beneath his cloak, a certain taut expectancy in her posture. A night of firsts, his and hers. Often enough they’d spoken of this moment, this encountering, over the last months the dream firming from if to when, though Catherine’s eyes had still clouded at the unspoken, unanswerable who. Beneath the bandshell, behind the waterfall, her head on his shoulder or his pillow, their conversation had been more than academic, yet the full melody of possibility stayed pent-up behind a closed door. Decisions, their consequence, matters of fealty and faith … Indeed, the very definition of decision implied uncertainty. No amount of deliberation, of speculation, no push and pull of circumstance could have foretold this juncture, this … now.

He felt the march of her heart; she was anything but uncertain.

The day would come – he’d vowed it so, vowed to be ready. Beside you, before anyone, he silently affirmed, willing his pledge manifest in the stroke over her shoulder, the cup of her elbow. With a sigh, she eased against him.

 

“You need no introduction,” he said.

He held out his hand in welcome and Eimear’s grip slipped cool and sure into his, warming in the soft stretch of time. She examined his face, her inspection unconcealed, as thoughtfully frank as had Martin’s been. “You have my oath, Vincent,” she said at last. “This … You …”

“Catherine’s trust is my trust. Know that.”

His hand still in hers, Eimear turned her wrist as if to study him, forearm to clawtips. He might have shied from her touch; earlier, offering Wren this same strange hand, he’d allowed self-doubt to muddy his perceptions. To Martin, he’d tendered his habitual plea – please don’t be afraid. How defeating the petition, how governing ... and yet how incumbent the duty – how ingrained – to beg pardon, to prepare …

A modest gyre of air stirred the hair at his temple, on it a whispered lilt. Fake it ‘til you make it

He offered no apology, no assurances.

And then … 

Eimear smiled at him, a smile of such incongruent delight for a moment he thought to look over his shoulder, certain she offered her gift to someone else. The glow within the chamber brightened, surely some sudden surge of fuel through the cotton wick to the lantern’s silk-fabric mantle … though he wouldn’t swear it so.

Hours from now he would recount the experience, how in his mind – in the space between two seconds in time – he traveled a winding path upwards ever toward the light, emerging to the clear air and full morning – to sun-spears between craggy hills, a brilliant sweep of valley. To a phenomenon of color – purple heather a carpet beneath his feet; a rush of red stonechats, of yellow willow warblers above. Before him a lacework of drystone fences, a shaggy dun stallion in his stonehenge corral, whirling at his whistled call. To the impossible smell of a salt sea, sweet bracken, bog-cotton. And near, growing nearer, a glad company of voices – Others.

Elsewhere blurred away. He pulled Eimear close, Catherine closer, and between them, between Eimear and himself, himself and Catherine, between the three of them, rising from the same depths of the same unsayable as with Martin … a new truth beyond knowledge. Affinity, belonging, wholeness. A sense of ancient knowing, of infinite beginning. A lost chord struck … and that which was once separated was reunited and brought home.

The ricocheting pulse of the chamber steadied to one quieted heart, and at last he broke the tender ring. Each drew an accepting breath; each nodded to the other.

“This day … your day,” he said to Catherine, his hands on her shoulders, “was … inconstant.”

Great joy, its skidding reverse, delight, annoyance, determination, resignation, her cautious hope, her conviction … Since their parting he’d gathered the ribbons of her feelings; they braided with his own. Her agreement was a half-sad chortle. An understatement, he heard. The fastening between them tightened, singing along its tension a moment thunderously private. The voice of her eyes signaled later.  

“These last hours,” he went on, “I felt a growing peace within you … until …”  

He glanced at Eimear, thinking somehow to explain with mere words the connection he shared with Catherine, even to apologize for its exclusiveness, but she stood fondly by. Unnecessary, he determined. But the moment drifted and now the enchantment was fading from Eimear’s face; in its place trepidation, denial, anger mustered, an underlying fierce pact of love arguing for position. A woman on a precipice, he imagined. The cliff, the ocean, the heavy sky before her, the wind hard at her back. But her will was strong. No giving up. No giving in. Yet something … someone … had driven her there.

“Tell me,” he persisted, querying them both. “There’s some danger Above. Martin is surely asleep. Shall I rouse him? Is he in danger?” Days before, he’d explored past mid-way the wall-walk leading to the old sacristy. Rubbled, but passable, he recalled, the doorway at its end his to open. His knee twitched to lead the leap of the steps. He was but seconds away.

“No,” Catherine was quick to say. “No, Vincent. Martin’s not– It’s personal and, I think, over.” In the space that opened between them, unspoken words hovered. For now.

Catherine cast a look Eimear’s way, then to him, a look so careful, he stepped back from it, lodging one shoulder against the stone wall, folding his arms. A murky whirlpool dragged at him, as much a memory as premonition.

“I told you … about Flynn,” she said, “about the children he saved. Since, there’ve been … occurrences. Harassment, mostly. Hang-ups, suspicious cars driving by Eimear’s house, idling in the street, maybe … maybe … a punctured tire.”

“These occurrences … they’re the acts of those involved with the perpetrators, those who would retaliate?” Not avenge. Not redress. The word meant everything. 

Catherine shrugged her belief. He looked away, drew a breath.

 

“But then … messages, at her work and at home. She brought the tapes to my office.”

“The last one …” Eimear began.

He would want to know, could hardly bear to know, had no choice but to know, would demand to know …  Beneath his leather pouch and ivory rose, frustration simmered. His own – and Flynn’s as if he channeled it, as if he saw with Flynn’s eyes – the way without her scorched and exposed, bleaker than bleak. Too much to lose. Because of me, who I am, what I do … He seized Catherine’s gift in a potent grip, felt the frictioned bite of the cording on the back of his neck, the pressured roar rising from the dark place within the hollow of his ribs.  Catherine’s eyes widened and he could sense her bonded call, but he shifted his gaze to Eimear, who stood curled around her fragmented sentence, wishing the envisioned threat somewhere far from here by now, seeing not, directly before her, this Dark Other, booted-up and agitating …

The stages of the boil. Learn them.

Long ago, he might have shaken away the command but for the rare glue that fixed the voice in his mind. Dr. Wong. His first lesson in the hidden alcove behind the beaded curtain, where he’d stood cheerless and wary and rigid, commanded there by Father, his hands clasped behind his back. Though he’d scrubbed and scrubbed, Devin’s blood still crusted – if only in his imagination – beneath his nails. His grumbled “Why” was somehow more than ignored, as, absorbed and unhurried, his newly-appointed teacher prepared a ceremonial fire. Obliged to approach, the directive barely a quirk of the doctor’s eyebrow, he stared into a stone bowl licked by flame. The water within slowly lathered, a stewing frenzy just below, now breaking, now consuming the surface. “Shrimp eyes, crab eyes, fish eyes, rope of pearls, raging torrent,” his advisor intoned, glowering at him, one eye narrowed, then dousing the fire with repeated spatters of scented water from his fingertips. “The greatest worth is self-mastery.”

Once again, his laddering passion subsided with the naming, the counting. He gentled his words, refuge and understanding willed into his voice. “The last message frightened you,” he finished for her. “Frightened you to Catherine. To us.”

And Eimear breathed longly out.

“You’ve not told Flynn,” he discerned, sensing its burden. “But you will. You must.” This is Catherine. I must protect her. Flynn would feel the same.

“Tomorrow morning, I will,” Eimear said. “Catherine’s convinced my promise. ” She crossed her arms, defending, Vincent perceived, a sweet before. “I began to think I’d over-reacted,” she murmured. “I wanted to think so. That whoever … would grow tired of the game they played. That Flynn would never have to know. ‘Tis too much on him now and …” She broke off, slowly shaking her head, picking up in a whisper. “Too much.”

Without benefit of conversation, he knew Flynn would disagree. This truth could not be borne alone. Eimear’s trial, though gladly suffered, was not wholly her own. It is his, he silently affirmed, standing for Flynn, with him. Your pain is his pain.

 

“Rosie’s out of town,” Catherine told him. “Flynn’s on shift. I didn’t want Eimear to be alone tonight.”

Why had they not stayed in the apartment, secret and safe above Manhattan?  Why had she not apprised Father of the immediate need and spirited Eimear Below to their private rooms? She relayed much in the cast of her eyes, a quivered smile – concern, longing, a request of patience for her abbreviated story. He curbed his first instinct to question her.

“Once we were here … in Woodlawn …things were quiet; things were good,” Catherine said. “I started to think that too, that the anger had flared out … and coming Below was … more for introduction than precaution.”

More for me, because I wanted it, he heard. Oh, Catherine. Even if it were true. Don’t be afraid to deserve it.

“Then they threw something at the house,” she told him. “It hit the door, hard, and we … left.”

He dared not ask what was thrown. She might know.

Eimear’s gaze focused away to some vague and distant landmark on the far cellar wall, and following it, his heart hammered, a grave mimic of the rough motor sound he’d heard and dismissed. He saw the two of them, shoulder to shoulder in the open doorway, defiant, vulnerable.

She does know. Of course she knows. They both know.

As if, in a cluster of daylong-candles burning behind the stained glass of his chamber, one flickered out, another, then one more, the jeweled mosaic of their energies dimmed. Exhaustion settled like a weighty blanket – Catherine’s, Eimear’s, his own an unavoidable admission. He rubbed the drawn tendons, the corrugated muscles of his neck with one hand. Between this surprising-enough secret room and the chambers and community below, the revelations yet to come, the corridors stretched a challenging distance. Miles to go before we sleep.

But sleep we must. Their labyrinth was a unifying draw toward a still indistinct but magnetic center. There was no other direction.

“Sanctuary is yours, Eimear. Tonight, from this moment on, always. For you … for yours.”

With relief, perhaps deliverance, a burden set down at least … or simply the chill … Eimear shivered. Out of his arms, Catherine wrapped her own around herself. Neither was warmly dressed. He could spare Eimear his cloak, Catherine his sweater, he supposed, though both bore rank evidence of more than one day of toil.

“We had bags packed and by the door, Vincent, but we–”

Catherine broke off, yet he understood. Enough. Enough of what happened, why you’re here. There’s more, more to this. More to come. “We should go.” He dragged his mantle from his shoulders, gave it an apologetic shake and held it open for Eimear, but she waved aside his offer, eying the stairwell behind him.

“I need to go back,” she said. “I don’t remember if I bolted the front door and, for sure, the back porch door’s unlocked; the kitchen lights are on. If Martin doesn’t sleep, he’ll be out wandering, battering the door when he sees, crying around to who-knows-who if he can’t bring me out, to Flynn if he could find him, and I can’t have that. I’ll get our kits. And my house keys … I left them lying.”

“I’ll go,” he said, and either his tone or the frown he could not check forestalled any protest. A lockset, even a deadbolt, would be no deterrent to the determined, but the key turned and in her hand would offer Eimear solace. And if by fate’s decree he and not Flynn encountered the brutes who would dare threaten …  He swung his cloak; it fanned and draped about him. “Wait here five minutes,” he said. “No more. Then engage this gate.” The lantern positioned to cast an upwardly glow, Catherine behind him on the steps, Eimear at her shoulder, he demonstrated the mechanism’s sequence, locking then unlocking the barrier, passing through, waiting while Catherine, then Eimear duplicated the patterns. “If you must,” he continued, leaving the conditions undefined, “enter the corridor and turn left. At the first junction, take the ten o’clock spoke, then the second right. The walls there will be laddered with pipes. The fifth down in the array leads to a manned sentry post. Tap this alert first: One long, four spaced shorts, one quick triplet. Repeat it once. Then, in the code you know, Catherine, tap for Wren to come. Tell her Level Two, Portal F. Wait there for her arrival.” At the mention of Wren’s name, Catherine – not Eimear – startled, and, briefly, she frowned, a flicker of dismay in her eyes. He’d ask … later. “Say it back to me, the directions.”

“Left, ten o’clock in the junction, second right, fifth pipe.”

“The alert code? Your position?”

“One long, four short, a triplet, repeated once. Then message Level Two, Portal F.”

Before he’d cleared the steps, Catherine was murmuring encouragement to Eimear. “He’s like that,” he heard her say. “Always careful. Everything will be fine.” She spoke of him, her voice rounded and warm, breathy with familiarity, with freedom. At last! Her happiness was worth any risk he might take. He eased the door open and in the archway lifted his hood.

The rectory’s windows were unlit; a stillness emanated from within. Surely Martin slept – he would wish Martin sleep well and dream sweetly. But Martin’s concern for Flynn was patent, and, keen as he was, regardless of her veiling efforts, no doubt he’d discerned Eimear’s distress. Likely his last waking thoughts were prayerful appeals for insight or intercession. His slumber fitful with worry, possibly, like Father wrestling with conscience or complications, he walked his own floors late at night, perhaps even now peered out …

His back to the cool stone, he slipped around the portal’s edge into Eimear’s back yard, standing, he was certain, in Flynn’s very footprints left the night of his reluctant conversation with Martin. Not overheard, Martin had assured him when he’d apologized for eavesdropping, but meant to hear. Any skepticism, any hesitancy he’d knitted together was gently unraveling.

The moon, silvery in the sky little more than an hour ago, was wisped-over now, but yellow lamplight beamed into the garden from the kitchen window. First Lily’s, now Flynn’s undertaking, Martin had told him, the lot was a private place, bordered on one side by the shared stone wall, elsewhere enclosed by a high wooden fence, a fringe of tall trees. A small property made large and inviting with meandering paths of pavers and bricks and pebbles, with sheltering arbor rooms and secreting waddle fences. More mysterious, less … fettered … than Martin’s; in the full sun, at full bloom, likely glorious in its abandon. Though hidden from most, this wholeheartedness, this passion to nurture, to tend was Flynn. Does he see? Does he know his own secret?

He kept to the gray-black perimeter, alert for any disturbance inside the house – a crossing shadow, an unexpected sound. A padlocked gate separated the driveway from the rear sanctuary, and through its slats, he could see two parked cars, Catherine’s the last one in. Traffic on the narrow street was sparse. A taxi rolled slowly past; the hiss of air brakes announced a nearing city bus, but no grumbling engine loitered near. A neighbor’s dog barked conversationally. Faintly, houses down, a telephone briiiinnged. He mounted the porch, careful to take the treads at their edges, close to the stringer. Beneath his weight the wooden steps still creaked, though no louder than one breeze-stirred branch might scrape against another.

Only a half-curtain of tea-stained lace covered the door’s window, and over it, at an angle, he could see a corner of the bright room. On a table still littered with shallow bowls and silverware, a young cat worried some morsel of food with her paw, otherwise unconcerned. Proof enough, he reasoned, of aloneness. The knob turned noiselessly under his hand; the door inched open on well-oiled hinges. On the floor at his feet were two small duffels, Catherine’s suede jacket and a white cabled sweater like Martin’s folded atop them. He reached for the switch on the wall just inside the jamb and turned off the lights. The aroma of supper was still savory in the air. One long stride cleared the entry.

The kitchen was but city-dark. A clock-face gleamed, a tiny red bulb glowed at the base of the coffeemaker, streetlight seeped in from the front hallway, together offering more illumination than he needed. The kitten stood frozen over its task, puffed-up, its back arched, whiskers wide, eyes fully black. After a moment of solemn staring it blinked slowly at him and … diminished … then returned to business – a cooled remnant of melted cheese adhered to the plate’s rim. He pricked it loose, and the kitten pounced and purred.

He swept down the hallway. In the living room the furniture was pushed to the walls, the floor bare. Here Catherine danced. Days after, all was was quiet, but if he tried, he could hear music and laughter, the many words of love whispered year after year. At the bottom of the stairs he paused, his hand on the palm-smoothed newel. This was Eimear’s house and Flynn’s, but once it had been Rosie’s, and one night, decades ago, she had trudged these same steps to her room, despondent and disillusioned, his miserable counterpart. The many photographs of her on the stairwell wall drew him in. In wonder, he shook his head. He’d have sworn her face was one he wanted only to forget – more, his own, reflected in her eyes – and given the impossible chance to see her again, he’d have turned, run if he had to, to avoid a rekindling of that searing pain. Now … he anticipated their meeting, believed in it. What is all this? He longed for the opportunity to map out the many concurrences, to attempt to deduce the Beginning … to take Catherine’s hand, bring it to his lips, step forward with her into–

 

Lights, locks, keys. His allotted time was passing, and no doubt Catherine would go on Below as he’d asked … eventually. To his mission, he found the deadbolts on the front door already turned true. Allowing a moment of consideration, he denied the impulse to inspect the tangible threat he knew lay just beyond on the stoop. Evidence it was, and tomorrow’s business left well enough alone. The brass chain swung free from its track and he caught it in his hand, dismissed it. Flimsy. Near useless. An illusion. So little to stand between the sanctity of home and rude intrusion. If love could but keep harm out.

Keys. None remained in the cylinder or hung from the hook near the door. There was no receiving table – only an odd umbrella stand stood in the foyer, one rivaling the most bizarre find in any storage room Below. A telephone niche was built-in below the stairs, nothing other than a stubby pencil in the trough, an unblinking answering machine on its worn shelf. Foul things. Ruiners. He snatched up the device and when he prised open the empty tape compartment, shards of plastic fell into his hand. A growl rose in his throat …

Keys, he repeated, returning the apparatus to its ledge, squaring it to place. I’ve left them lying, she’d said. The kitchen, a counter, the windowsill, he supposed. He should have asked their location. 

The plastered wall was a gallery of vintage photographs, framed panoramic prints years old – men in army fatigues, in police uniform, in old-fashioned athletic garb, fifty girls on the steps of St. Finbarr’s School, as many bathing beauties on Coney Island – Eimear’s, perhaps Flynn’s relatives. Across the hall in a bowl on a mirrored sideboard, something glinted. A key chain he hoped, forging for it, scooping it up. But, no. A brass ring with two charms appendant: a St. Michael’s medal – the warrior’s patron – and a free-form silver slab, finely-ridged and flat, reminiscent of a standing stone, both sides engraved with patterned hatch marks. Familiar. Meaningful. He rubbed the metalwork between his fingers until it heated. No translation of the characters came to mind, but a sense of necessary emanated from the talisman. Pocketing the set, aimed for the kitchen, his intention snagged – a picture frame face down at the far end of the long buffet. He turned it up with a whisper of apology for what seemed like yet another trespass.

He had to see, to truly see, and switched on the old bronzed lamp. The lily-shaped glass shade shed a rose-colored light on the black and white photograph. A hummingbird – smaller than small, needle-beaked, bright-dark eyed – rested unrestrained in a man’s cupped hand. Dirt caked the caretaker’s nails, the map of fine lines in his palms. Somehow, in the capture of the moment, life beat visibly – in the bird’s near-tangible trilling heartbeat, in the weave of veins of the man’s muscled forearm and wrist. Someone looked on, maybe several someones, the faces in the background a foggy blur. Still, recognition suffused the image. Affirmation. A man capable of much. His tender mercies. The cardboard prop was bent, nearly broken through, and the picture would not stand, and why he’d found it face down was a piercing question, a saddening. One he’d not ask Eimear … but Flynn.

He retraced his steps to the kitchen where his host waited for him it seemed, on the counter now, regal, sitting tall, its front paws together, its tail-tip twitching, ruffling with each pass the pages of an open address book. Wren Rasmussen, he read, unsurprised. Stuart Aisenberg. Beside the binder was a ring of keys. 

The kitten touched its nose to his one extended finger. “What’s your name, little one.”

_____

 

“Don’t worry,” he heard Catherine whisper, apparently just inside the church-wall door. He pushed through to a crowded landing.

“I was gone longer than five minutes,” he chided her. In the glimmer of the low-turned lantern Eimear carried, he could see something flash in Catherine’s eyes. Love, he decided to name it.

He fixed the bar across one more time and followed them down. At the base of the steps, he unstrapped their gathered gear. “Your doors are secure,” he said to Eimear. “I put the dishes in the sink, ran them with water. Your kitten was busy with the leftovers. I didn’t want it to founder.” He handed over the set of keys. “We’ll return you home tomorrow morning early, but if Flynn were to arrive before you, if he found you missing, if he thought your supper had been interrupted …”

“Thank you,” Eimear said softly, and Catherine put an arm around her shoulders. “Mab didn’t run outside, did she?”

The Fairy Mab, he recalled. To me ‘tis given the wonders of the human world to keep. The last he’d seen her – from the garden, just before he slipped into the archway – the kitten rubbed against the window, again and again, as she’d rubbed herself beneath his palm. He shook his head and smiled. “No.”

While Catherine and Eimear readied themselves for the trek Below, he checked the lantern’s fuel. He’d need to refill the tank tomorrow, leave a full canister with it, a few fresh torches as backup, a box of matches in a metal tin. He’d set Mouse the challenge of devising a hidden locking mechanism manipulated from either side of the archway door. No doubt he’d have it working within the week. When next he saw Dominic, he’d add two serious flashlights to the materials list, return and fix a bracket on the wall to hold them. Does the wick need replacing? He twisted the control to its brightest.

“What a day,” Catherine said, suddenly at his side. She stared up at him. “Are you all right? What happened to your face?”

He touched the risen scrape on his cheek just as she did, trapping her healing hand to his skin. The ease, the freedom to be … It was all so new, so welcome. He chuckled. “A nothingness, not to worry.” Over Catherine’s head, he met Eimear’s gaze and found her grinning.

“You look as though you once rode with Cú Chulainn,” Eimear declared.

“I’ve heard that before.”

“From who?” Catherine sputtered, and they laughed, as old friends would.

 

_________________

Chapter title: David Whyte. The Opening of Eyes.

Opening quotation: Tyler Knott Gregson. From Miracle in the Mundane. 2019. TarcherPerigee.

  1. John O’Donohue, paraphrased. Anam Cara. A Book of Celtic Wisdom. 1997. Harper-Collins.
  2. e e cummings. somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
  3. Atisha. 11th century Buddhist teacher.
  4. Percy Bysshe Shelley. Queen Mab. A Philosophical Poem. 1813.

 

6 Comments

  1. I tentatively went to the site to see if another chapter had appeared…And how happy my heart was. I was looking forward to what the meeting between Vincent and Eimear would be like and it came out so wonderfully and naturally. I like that he doesn’t apologize for his appearance, enough of these requests ” don’t be afraid “. A beautiful moment when they stand so close to each other, souls found after years. Vincent’s immediate reaction to the threat, that organization, caution. Wonderful moment of understanding Flynn’s pain, the grim vision if something bad had happened to Eimear life would have been unbearable as it was without Catherine and the decision to go Below, just as I thought Catherine was wrong to fear bringing her friend to the Tunnels. I like everything here,the details every so important, the journey through the house the photos of Rosie and Flynn’s family, the wonderful cat…Vincent’s sensible behavior in the kitchen not to worry Flynn unnecessarily. I’m looking forward to these next meetings as it unfolds. This is such a beautiful story with each chapter my delight increases..thank you for an exciting start to the New Year! 😄Hugs!

    Reply
    • Oh, Paula, you noticed Vincent’s empathy with Flynn in this chapter – “almost as if they were one!” I’m thrilled you liked that! Thrilled you found the details of Vincent’s entry into Eimear’s home meaningful – they were so meant to be – and that you noticed this too makes me feel like dancing! You are so good for my writer’s soul!

      Your kindness means so much, and I’m so glad to know you visit here. I feel like I leave a lot of my heart here on these web pages, and I’m comfortable with that in your presence.

      Always,
      Carole

      Reply
  2. AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!! THIS, AT LAST!!!

    “Elsewhere blurred away. He pulled Eimear close, Catherine closer, and between them, between Eimear and himself, himself and Catherine, between the three of them, rising from the same depths of the same unsayable as with Martin … a new truth beyond knowledge. Affinity, belonging, wholeness. A sense of ancient knowing, of infinite beginning. A lost chord struck … and that which was once separated was reunited and brought home.”

    What once was, will BE again. The inevitable rightness of this friendship that had perhaps once existed in a past life, the fellow-feeling that has been drawing them inexorably together. First Martin, now Eimear. And the knowledge that more introductions/reunions are yet to come — Flynn, Rosie. The completion of the circle.

    So many moments to love in this chapter, but what stands out for me every time are Vincent’s little interactions with little Mab. How adorable! She KNOWS him to be a friend and not a threat from the very beginning. How right!

    And Vincent’s knack for understatement: “This day … your day … was .. Inconstant.” Goodness! So MUCH has happened during this eventful day!

    And now, Eimear is Below, welcomed without question and offered sanctuary “to you … to yours.” Catherine has fully stepped into her citizenship Below. “Catherine’s trust is my trust.”

    Such a WONDERFUL chapter, and yet, as always, I am so greedy for MORE!

    HUGS,

    Karen/Lindariel

    Reply
    • Lindariel, you have made my day! What you’ve mentioned is a major milestone in this story, and I’m so pleased it resonated with you! Thank you – again – for reading (again) with such generosity of spirit. Your encouragement means everything!

      Hugs,
      C

      Reply
  3. Once again, I’ll repeat what I’ve said so many times before, and will say again so many times to come. This is another beautifully crafted chapter from an amazing writer!

    The chapters are always well worth waiting for. Sometimes when they’re posted, I save them for a few days before reading because it’s a pleasure to know something so special will be available when I need and can enjoy it most.

    As always, I can see and hear and feel everything in the chapter so vividly; it’s truly like being immersed in another world via the precisely chosen words and phrases. It’s never a surprise when that happens, for I’ve come to expect nothing less, but it’s always a marvel just the same.

    As always — again — it’s very difficult to choose only a few factors to cite. One of my favorites this time is the immediate kinship between Vincent and Eimear, enabled and enhanced by Catherine as its bridge, and the tantalizing hints of awareness Vincent has of time and place and home that whispers of things he has yet to realize, or perhaps to remember. I can’t wait to see how that plays out.

    And I’m so glad Mab is all right. If possible, I never read stories where an animal (especially a cat) is an actual character because I always worry about them, so to know she is well is a huge relief!

    Carole, I know — all too well — that much work is being done now for the rapidly upcoming WFOL, so please don’t add to the stress by worrying that we’re all waiting for the next I/V chapter. We know it will appear when it’s possible for it to do so, and we’ll be happy to discover it whenever that happens.

    Reply
    • You’re so good to me, Linda. Truly, your kind words lift me over so many “boulders in my path” – I’m re-energized to write, to keep after this. What a difference you make!

      Thank you for finding this other world a believable one. That matters; that makes me glad. Thank you for recognizing Vincent’s intermingled memories and dreams of the future. And never fear, little Mab will be okay through the rest of this story. I don’t want to read and won’t write animal danger or loss either! This might be considered a spoiler but one that’s worth giving away. 🙂

      Always,
      C

      Reply

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