Taking his hand before he could change his mind, Catherine walked backward,
and playfully pulled him inside the threshold.

Happily, Catherine asked, "Let me take your cloak."

Vincent thinking he shouldn't stay long, offered, "Since it is the eve of a work
day, I won't stay long. You need your sleep."

Catherine sincerely replied, "Don't you know I would gladly give up a bit of
sleep to spend time with you."

Slowly untying his cloak, he then looked at Catherine with this sweet insecure
look that warmed her heart, and offered, "Allow me to build the fire..."

And so after Vincent put the last wooden log on the fire, he stepped back to
thoughtfully gaze at the flames.

As Catherine fluffed up the pillows for them to lean on, she reached up for
Vincent to join her.

As he looked at her sitting there welcoming him, it humbled him as she looked
so lovely!

Yes, he knew her thoughts, and how she longed for something more, but he
couldn't get over his past. This platonic relationship they shared seemed to be all
he could ever give her. As he reached for her hand, he sat down beside her.
Resting his elbow on his bended knee, he thoughtfully contemplated asking
Catherine a question, a question which was difficult for him to ask.

Looking down at her looking so happy, he decided to put his heavy thoughts
aside for the moment, and instead stretched out an arm to welcome his dear
Catherine to nestle into.

And as she looked up at him waiting for him to respond, she was troubled when
he did not. And so she gently touched his face, prompting him to look back, and
then asked, "What is wrong, what is on your mind?"

Vincent averted his eyes as he gathered his thoughts, before finally saying,
"Catherine...I...this is arduous for me to ask..."

Catherine softly replied, "There are no secrets between us, there is nothing I
can't talk to you about, don't you feel like that with me?"

To which Vincent without question replied, "Well yes normally, I do feel that
way, however what I would...may I..."

Catherine searched Vincent's face for just a hint of what he was eluding to, and
when he paused, she then prompted him by saying,  "Yes?"

Because he could always think better on his feet, Vincent stood up, and as he
paced, he continued, "Catherine...may I have the honor of escorting you to a
celebration on Wednesday night? It is to be in the Great Hall."

Catherine wondered why that was such a hard question for Vincent to ask her.
He had invited her several times below to other functions in the tunnels, and
celebrations before.

And so as she contemplated this fact, she still happily answered, "I would love
that. Let's see that will be, Oh my, that will be on Valentine's Day! Is it a
Valentine's Day Celebration Vincent? Is that what the invitation from Mary was
for?"

Vincent quietly answered, "Yes Catherine. The invitation says it is to be "A
Sweet Hearts Dance".

Catherine still could not figure out why Vincent was asking her in such a down
hearted manner. And so she asked, "Do you want me to go with you?"

Vincent sighed as he looked upward, and answered, "Yes! Nothing would please
me more, however, I am not sure I have the right to call you...as such..."

To clarify, Catherine asked, "You mean the right to call me your sweet heart?"

With a subtle nod, Vincent replied, "Yes..."

Vincent's reply caused Catherine to think back over the past year, and the
relationship that had developed between them. A deep meaningful relationship
which began and had grown since the night he rescued her in the park.

As she pondered the closeness they have worked so hard for, she knew it was
genuine, mutual, and strong.

And truth be told, she did understand Vincent's reservations about calling her his
Sweet Heart, and a part of her knew what Vincent said was correct. They still
have so many barriers, so many more to break down. They have yet to share a
kiss, or to tell one another I love you. But she did feel as though he was her
boyfriend, a term that seemed out of place with a man such as Vincent perhaps,
but none the less, she was in love with him, and she had nothing but romantic
fantasies about him.

So softly she then told him, "It would make me feel so wonderful if you would
think of me that way."

Vincent lowered his eyes and lamented, "How can I make you understand?"

Turning away from Catherine, Vincent began pacing in an effort to sort out his
thoughts. How can he tell her what this "Term of Endearment" means to him?
The term "Sweet Heart" involved so much more than just an embrace, or a bit
of hand holding. It referred to two people who were affectionately in love...
Yes, Vincent couldn't shake these feelings he was letting Catherine down, being
in a relationship laden with limitations...

With a voice full of emotion, he then said, "You deserve so much, so much
more than I can give you. You deserve a life free of restrictions and limits!"

With tears in her eyes, Catherine replied, "Everyone's life has limits...but there
is no life for me without you!"

With a tearful voice, he replied, "I wish I could tell you how I feel about you, of
what I want for us..."

Catherine wanted to hear so badly these things Vincent could not seem to say to
her. She needed him, and she wanted to know he felt that way for her too. And
so with tearful emotion, Catherine said, "Just tell me."

Looking down at Catherine, with his eyes full of question, he explained, "From
all I have read, Valentine's Day is a day for...a day for people who are in love, a
day for exchanging passionate cards, and a day for fantasizing about a romantic
evening together. A day full of promises, Catherine, I do want to fulfill these
notions for you, there is so much I want to give to you! And words, there are
words I long to say to you. But I can't! I feel as if I have no right to tell you
how much...how much I love you."

Hearing the words she had waited for so long to hear, she looked up at this
beautiful man, and with a sigh filled with tears, Catherine whispered, "You do
have the right Vincent...you deserve everything in this life, and hearing you say
you love me, makes me so happy, I love you too."

Feeling the joy of Catherine's words, along with the joy of expressing his own,
he relayed to her, "Sometimes I can almost imagine we are just like any other
man and woman..."

Catherine lovingly said, "The feelings you have for me are the same as what
other men have for the women they love. They are the same as I have for you,
but they are not to be feared. These feelings you describe are also known as
passion. All people who are in love feel this way."

Shyly looking down, she continued, "Vincent there are other ways to be close,
and they are  just as intimate, beautiful, and powerful. It's what we have...the
union of our hearts and souls. This kind of relationship between two people
qualifies them as lovers too..."

Holding Catherine tenderly in his arms he replied, "I do feel as if we are a part
of one another. Perhaps one day there will be more...perhaps one day, our time
will come..."

Looking directly and confidently back at Vincent, she assuredly said, "Perhaps it
will..."

Catherine then took Vincent's hand and brought it to her cheek, and told him,
"You are everything to me. I have thought of you as my Sweet Heart for a very
long time now. Was that wrong of me Vincent?"

Thoughtfully he answered, "Wrong? How could anything as sweet as that be
wrong?"

With a hopeful smile, Catherine then asked, "So we will be going to the Sweet
Hearts dance?"

In reply, he said, "Indeed."

As he held Catherine in his embrace, he then told her, "I am undecided what I
should give you as a Valentine's gift."

Catherine softly replied, "Just promise me it will be something from your heart,
and I will do the same."

Vincent nodded and said, "Very well Catherine, I will be giving this some great
thought as the day draws near."

Vincent then told Catherine, "Until Wednesday Catherine..."

Catherine nodded and answered, "Yes Wednesday Vincent."

Vincent then descended from her balcony.

To be continued
Chapter Three
Sweet Passage!
By Sharon Holtz
Chapter Two