As Vincent expelled an exasperated breath, he turned to answer Mouse, saying,
“No Mouse, we haven’t seen Arthur. What makes you search for him here? He
never wonders this far!”

To which Mouse irritatingly explained, “I Know! But when I passed everyone,
they told me they saw Arthur near the Falls! And since you and Catherine were
still here, they said you would be happy to help me look…but you don’t look so
happy to me.”

Vincent gathered himself, as he was beginning to see perhaps, Mouse was sent
there as a lark!

Trying to lighten up a bit, so as not to hurt Mouse’s feelings, Vincent clarified,
“If I understand you correctly Mouse, they specifically sent you here to look for
Arthur?"

Mouse nodded, and said, “Yes, and then…Vincent, they started laughing! Do
you think they played a trick on me?”

Vincent heaved a resigned breath and said, “No not on you Mouse.”

Vincent then looked at Catherine, after putting it all together, and saw she was
hiding her grin under her hand, and he turned back to Mouse and said, “Earlier,
as I recollect, when I called on Catherine, I saw Arthur near the new chambers.
So if you would like, we can help you search there.”

Mouse feeling a little perturbed said, “That’s all right, I can look myself! Boy
they sure fooled me!”

As Mouse left the Falls, Catherine looked up at Vincent, and sweetly asked,
“Can we stay a little longer?”

In a throaty hushed tone, Vincent said, “Yes, a while longer.”

So now, alone at last, Vincent gathered Catherine in his embrace to witness the
beauty of this secluded spot in this underworld paradise, which was shielded
from the rest of the world, and was no longer a place for them to only dream
about...

But after a long while, though neither one wanted to leave, the time came, that
they had to return to civilization. And so walking slowly, hand in hand, they
headed back to the main tunnels.

As they walked, Catherine thought back on something Vincent had said Friday
night. It was a beautiful poetic line, and it stuck with her, and caused her to
inquire, “I meant to ask you about the poem you quoted from the other night. It
sounded so familiar; it was Poe I think. But it had the line “a dream within a
dream”, it was so lovely…do you know the rest?”

Huskily, Vincent answered, “Yes Catherine…it was from Poe’s “A Dream
Within A Dream”.

A Dream within a Dream
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow  
You are not wrong,
who deem
That my days have been a dream;  
Yet if Hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,  
In a vision,
or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?  
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.  
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,  
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand   
How few!
yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,  
While I weep--while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp  
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save  
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?
The Shore of Dreams!
By
Sharon Holtz
Chapter Two
And after Vincent's recitation, Catherine in wonderment said, “What a beautiful
poem...”

To which in agreement, Vincent said, “Yes the words of this poem touch me
deeply Catherine. It is how I feel when I must leave you.”

Catherine thoughtfully said, “I feel like that too, as I did the night I went out of
town with Jenny, I wanted to hold you, yet, I had to let go. I knew we had to be
apart from each other, for us both to find hope, and faith in our love again.”

Vincent held Catherine tightly to him, and sighed, “I caused you to question
those things of the heart Catherine, how I regret those days.”

Tenderly, Catherine turned Vincent’s face toward her, as she said, “If you
hadn’t questioned your past, then we wouldn’t be here now…I don’t regret
those days Vincent, I am thankful for them.”

In wonderment, Vincent said, “You are always able to look brightly on even the
dimmest of occasions. However, I DO regret them, if only because they brought
you so such sadness. My hearts decree now...is to make you happy, and if it is
in my power, I will find a way to do so.”

Lovingly, she said, “You already have Vincent.”

Tenderly, he embraced her one last time, and as he left her at her threshold, he
turned around, for one more glimpse of his beautiful Catherine, and found her
still watching him...as he walked away.

The next morning, Catherine walked to Vincent’s chamber before he left for his
workout. As she stood outside his threshold, she asked, “Vincent are you
awake?”

To which he answered, “Yes Catherine...come in.”

Still lying in his bed, he couldn't help himself by adding, “I sensed your
nearness.”

Catherine laughed as she walked in, saying, “I should know better then to try
and be spontaneous with you Vincent Wells…I was hoping to surprise you.”

Astoundidly, Vincent replied, “Ahhh, you do surprise me Catherine….by the
beauty in your heart…come to me Catherine.”

Obediently, Catherine smiled widely as she walked over to his bed, and  as she
sat on the edge to snuggle to him, she asked, “What were you thinking Vincent?”

As he placed his hand on Catherine’s back, to hold her tenderly close, he softly
said, “I was just thinking on last night, and our time together.”

Catherine raised a brow and said, “Ah perhaps as Poe would suggest, last night
was only a dream within a dream?”

Smiling down at his Catherine for reciting Poe, he said, “Perhaps…”

Then with the smile in his eyes fading, Vincent confided, “At times in my life,
when I have been the most happiest, I had to wonder if those moments were
real? By some happenstance, was this dream just so vivid, that it only seemed
real?”

Catherine rose up to look at Vincent and lovingly said, “I was only teasing you
Vincent, our time together is real. Not a dream.”           

Out of wonderment, she worriedly said, “You're so serious some times.”

Knowing she was right with her assessment, Vincent explained, “It is only
because so much of my life, has been fulfilled in my dreams. I never hoped to
experience such pleasures as you have gifted me Catherine.”

Caringly, Catherine promised, “Vincent, put your trust in us. This is our life
now. And I am so happy.”  

He kissed Catherine's hair, and openly said, “Ahh...I do feel the joy in your
heart and it mirrors mine…it is immense.”

Sweetly, Catherine relayed, “Yes, I would say that sums it up perfectly!”

Just then, Ronald came to Vincent’s chamber, and as he stood at his threshold,
he yelled, “Vincent are you descent Man? It’s time for our workout!”

To which Vincent said, “Yes of course Ronald, come in.”

As he swooshed the curtain aside, Ronald cheerfully said, “Catherine, good
morning. You are up and about early.”

With a smile, Catherine said, “I just wanted to say good morning to Vincent on
my way to the kitchen. William asked if I could help peel potatoes this morning
for the hash browns, and I am due to report in a few minutes! So I better go. I
would hate to be late for my first official duty, and get on William's wrong side."

Knowingly, Ronald smiled as he warned, “Ah yes the wrath of William! None
of us wish to face that!”  

He then ran his hand over the old desk of Anna’s, Vincent temporarily
positioned in the darkened corner of his chamber. And after admiring it for a
moment, he asked, “So are you going to refinish this old desk Vincent?”

Thoughtfully, he answered, “I thought I would, as soon as I can devout my time
to it. We still have work in the expansion area to complete, then after that, I will
begin.”

Vincent remembering he had never shown Catherine the old roll top desk said,
“This is the desk I was telling you about, the desk that was in your
chamber…Anna’s desk.”

Impressively, Catherine gushed, “Oh, it is beautiful! Oh my what a
treasure.”             

In agreement, Vincent said, “Yes it is, I am most anxious to utilize it.”

Willingly, Catherine suggested, “I would love to refinish it for you Vincent! Dad
and I did all the furniture in my apartment. They had been pieces my Grandma
owned, and were very old. Oh please...let me do this for you.”

With out any more convincing, Vincent complied, saying, “Yes of course.
Perhaps we can take it back to the restoration chamber, where the fumes would
not affect you Catherine. When would you like to begin?”

Eagerly, she answered, “Next weekend, by then I should have most of the loose
ends tied up in my apartment, so Jenny can move in.”

Turning to his buddy, Vincent asked, “Will you assist me Ronald?”

Agreeing to the task, Ronald smiled and said, “Yes Vincent…no problem! I
believe we can incorporate this task as part of our workout! That is one heavy
desk!”

Catherine said her good-byes, and said she would see them at breakfast. As
Vincent and Ronald carried the desk, it gave the two men time to talk.

Vincent told his friend, “I couldn’t help but notice the chemistry between you
and Lisa yesterday."

Ronald smiled as he felt as if, he had been found out. Taking a deep breath he
admitted, “Yes, and I believe the feeling seems to be mutual. She consented to
my escorting her back home today after breakfast.”

Sadly he looked downward, as he said, “You know Vincent, I never thought I
would ever be interested in anyone like this again, not ever again in my lifetime.
I never thought I …” Ronald’s voice choked up as he halted in mid sentence,
unable to continue.

Vincent stopped walking and set his end of the desk down. He walked over to
Ronald, took his side of the desk from his hands, and set his end down as well.

He then put his hand on his friends convulsing shoulder and said, “You have
nothing to feel guilty about…you are alive, it is a gift…not meant to be wasted.
Sometimes unexpected gifts do fall at our feet, when we are not looking or even
asking. Gifts we
didn’t know we wanted or needed, then suddenly there they are, and one day
we wonder how we lived without it.”

With a heavy laden breath, Ronald nodded, and said, “You are a good kind  
man Vincent…you say what is in your heart, and those words are healing to a
very confused wounded man.”

Contentedly, Vincent smiled, as he hugged his friend, and said, “Catherine has
taught me to grant my heart a voice, it does not always come easy for me
though, Ronald. I suppose it is becoming more so with the people I am close to.”

Then with a brotherly pat on the back, the two stood tall as they looked back at
one another.

In wonderment, Ronald said, “Vincent, I have seen how Catherine has changed
your life…I’m not sure I am ready for such a change.”

With discernment, Vincent acknowledged, “We all move at our own pace, ten
years may not be long enough for you…for another man 10 hours is a life time!”

Resolutely, Ronald surmised, “I suppose it depends on how great the love.”

Vincent nodded, and lightened the mood by jokingly saying, “Or how tyrannical
the woman!”

To be continued
Chapter Three