Catherine happened to be watching from the other side of the chamber, and saw
as Jennifer left crying, and so she excused herself from Rebecca, and went after
her broken hearted friend.

Catherine quickly stepped out into the tunnels, and luckily caught a glimpse of
Jennifer, as she rounded the corner.

Catherine was of course concerned Jennifer may get lost, but was even more
concerned she was heading down the tunnel leading to the Crystal Caverns!

And so Catherine ran, and as she did, she called out her friend’s name,
“Jennifer! Jen wait up!”

By the time Catherine had finally caught up with her, they were fairly far from
the main tunnels.

Catherine empathetically said, “Jen, try not to get so upset!”

Jennifer cried as she turned to hug her friend, and said, “I know…I know I am
ridiculous! I never stood a chance, and I knew that…I knew that all along! Still I
let myself imagine Ron saw something in me he would want! Hilarious right?”

Firmly, Catherine said, “No, not hilarious at all! Now listen to me Jen, Ronald
does like you! He is different when he is around you, he is lighthearted, and you
can see it in his eyes he cares about you. The biggest mistake you can make
right now, is to hand Lisa over to him on a silver platter, by over-reacting like
this."

Catherine  then went on as she explained, "All this emotion is going to scare him
off. He is only now starting to think about dating again, and if he sees you this
upset…he may decide this is too much to deal with.”    

Jennifer snuffled, and said, “You are right Cath…you are right! I just like him
so much! I am sure he must know, because I turn beet red when ever I am
around him! Oh I pray I haven’t made a fool out of myself...AGAIN!”

Catherine assured her friend, “Don’t worry, No one saw you leave but me.”

With a sigh of relief, Jennifer then asked, “Can we go back to your chamber so
I can regroup?”

In a nurturing tone, Catherine said, “Yes of course.”

Jennifer half crying and half laughing, said, “I am gonna need your bondo kit, so
I can fix my face.”

With care, Catherine consoled her, and as she wiped away her tears away, she
said, “Yes, let’s go repair your makeup, and then we can go back and rejoin
everyone.”

Just then, Catherine heard a faraway tapping on the pipes, and it seemed to be
getting a little louder. Catherine started to get the creeps remembering Vincent’s
warning about Paracelsus, and felt perhaps maybe…they were not alone!

Not wanting to frighten her friend needlessly, Catherine took Jennifer by the
hand, and challenged, “Race me back, and if you win, I will treat you to lunch
tomorrow after we give our statement at the police station.”

Loving a challenge no matter what her mood was, Jennifer smiled, and said,
“You are on!”

And so by the time they reached the end of the tunnel, they were laughing like
school girls, and as they turned the corner, Catherine gasped as she ran smack
dab into Vincent! And Jennifer let out a scream as she, at the same time ran into
Ronald!

Vincent enfolded Catherine in his arms, and sternly asked, “Catherine, what
were you doing down this way? Father and I told you about the dangers of
wandering too far from the main tunnels!”

Catherine guiltily replied, “I know, and I am sorry, we were just going for a
walk, and wandered too far! But we turned around when we realized.”

Jennifer shyly looked downward, as she apologetically said, “I am so sorry
running into you like that Ronny.”

Ronald firmly said, “No harm done Jennifer, but Vincent is right…you two
should not have come so far this way!”

Jennifer then looked at Catherine, and then to Vincent as she quizzically asked,
“Why is everyone so upset? And what is so dangerous?”

Vincent explained the story of Paracelsus, and said it was possible he could be
hovering about, and everyone in the Tunnel community, should be cautious
right now until the suspicions could be substantiated.

Jennifer sorrowfully said, “OH oh, sorry about that! It was my idea to go that
way!”

Jennifer then wondered how they knew where they were, so she curiously
asked, “How did you know where to find us?”

Vincent heaved a heavy sigh, and said, “I could sense a fear emanating from
Catherine.”

Jennifer turned to Catherine, and in an unbelievable fashion she asked, “Is that
true Cath? Were you afraid?”

Catherine admitted, “Well yeah, when I heard tapping on the pipes, it did kind
of scare me a little…”

Catherine looked up at Vincent, and with wonderment continued, “…and I
guess it was enough for Vincent to sense it.”

He held Catherine tightly to him, and said, “I came as quickly as I could, as I
imagined Paracelsus had you once again in his grasp."

He then looked to Ronald, and with a camaraderie, said, "I didn't realize Ronald
was following me though. Its good to know I had back up.”

Ronald explained, “I saw you bolt, and when I looked around, and didn't see
either of you, I figured it had to have something to do with you two gals! I
wanted to be there in case Vincent needed my help.”

Catherine sweetly said, “I am sorry we alarmed you two.”

Jennifer looked sheepishly guilty, as she knew it was all her fault. And so she
looked at Vincent and Ronald, and agreeably said, “Yes, I am really sorry too!”

And then noted, “It's a relief to know, if we had been nabbed by that “Pair-of-
seltzers Guy” You two would have been right there!”

They all laughed as they got a kick out of Jennifer's interpretation of the "Evil
One's" name.

The four walked back to the home tunnels, and Vincent told them they were all
meeting in the Community chamber. The others were going to be there to watch
the Chess face off between Pascal and Jamie.

Ronald added, “Rebecca suggested it might be fun to make some popcorn over
the little fire stove we have there.”

Catherine excitedly said, “That does sounds fun! We will meet you there then. I
want to show Jen something in my chamber.”

Vincent hesitated a moment as he would rather the girls come directly with them
now, but decided not to pry and said, “Very well Catherine. We will see you
soon.”

Catherine helped Jennifer fix her hair, and re-did her eye makeup. The make-
over was going well, until Jennifer yelped, as Catherine accidentally pulled on a
stubborn tangle!

Catherine flinched and said, “Oops sorry Jen! I am trying to hurry! I’ll be more
careful.”

Irritatedly, Jennifer said, “It is so much work looking gorgeous isn’t it?”

In agreement, Catherine nodded and said, “Oh it sure is Jen!”

When they arrived at the Community chamber, there were some who were
standing around the chess players, and others talking in groups, but Vincent and
Ronald were shooting hoops, with…Lisa standing on the sidelines, watching
them!

Even though Vincent was in the presence of Lisa, this time, he did not
disappoint Catherine. The moment she stepped into the chamber’s threshold,
Vincent looked her way. Catherine’s heart soared and she tipped her head hello,
and as Vincent held her gaze, he in turn nodded back. Now he could relax and
enjoy himself as Catherine was now safely near him.

However, sadly, Jennifer’s heart sank as she saw Lisa looking on. Catherine
rallied her friend’s spirit as she said, “Come on Jen, just be yourself! You can
deal with this. Have some confidence! And you should have confidence! You
look really pretty!”

To which Jennifer replied, “Awe thanks pal.”

As the girls walked up, they heard Lisa flirtatiously say, “Now who DO I cheer
for?”

Jennifer smiled at Lisa, and said, “I know who I am gonna cheer for!”

She then whistled, and said, “Come on Ronny! You can shoot better than that!
Show Vinny what you are made of!”

As Vincent stopped to give Jennifer an “Oh yeah” type of look, Ronald took the
ball from him, and shot a basket! The three girls laughed, and this really got
Vincent fired up!

Jokingly he asked, “Ah alas, no one cheering for me? You are all three on
Ronald’s side?”

Catherine lovingly said, “Oh no not me Vincent! I’m sorry that I laughed! I am
on your side!”

Vincent looked at Catherine and said, “Tis nice knowing I may count on your
support Catherine.”

Jennifer remembering a joke from the movie “Grease” repeated, “Yes Vinny,
Catherine may not be an athlete, but she has always been an “Athletic
Supporter”!”

Ronald shook his head as he laughed, and said, “Jenny…I don’t know about
you!”

To which Jennifer jokingly said, “I am sorry, its a line from one of my favorite
movies. I should be more lady-like!”

Lisa felt a little overshadowed, by the ease in which Catherine and Jennifer were
able to joke around so freely. Something she had never felt unencumbered
enough to do! How she envied that!

Rebecca shot a smile towards Ronald, and then announced, “Popcorn’s ready
to pop, who said they were going to help me?”

Ronald then threw the ball at Vincent, and said, “Oops I did! I promised
Rebecca I would help her.”

He then shouted, "Coming Rebecca!"

As they all sat down at the table, they talked as they watched them make the
popcorn in the big iron pot. Only Jamie and Pascal remained entranced in their
chess game!

Just then, Peter popped in to say goodnight to everyone, and to ask Lisa if she
would be staying the night, or needed to be escorted home. Lisa smiled, and
said, “Thank you Peter, but I am planning on staying the night. I haven’t a class
until noon tomorrow.”

Peter said, “All right then Good night all!”

Catherine whispered to Vincent, “Vincent, we should mention finding those
pictures yesterday to Peter.”

Vincent admonished himself for not thinking of it himself, and said, “You are
right Catherine, I am shamed, I had not thought of it. I haven't even told Father
yet!”

Vincent stood up from his seat, and took Catherine by the hand and together
they approached Peter. Vincent softly said, “Are you in a hurry Peter?”

To which Peter said, “I have a minute or so, what's up?”

Vincent then replied, “It's about the desk, Anna’s old desk that Catherine will be
restoring for me…”

Peter nodded and said, “Yes?”

Informatively, Vincent continued, “Well, Catherine found a key on the
underside of a drawer.”

With interest, Peter tipped his head as he intently listened, as Vincent added, “It
was a key the that unlocked the drawers of the desk, and inside the drawer, we
found a journal of Anna’s.”

To be continued
Chapter Nineteen
The Shore of Dreams!
By
Sharon Holtz
Chapter Eighteen