Catherine and Vincent live across the street from each other. On the outside their lives appear normal, but in their neighborhood, normal is overrated. This short story follows the pair as their stories unfold and intertwine.
I DO NOT OWN THESE CHARACTERS. THEY BELONG TO THE CW NETWORK. THIS IS A WORK OF FANFICTION BY OMEGABEAST.
A/N: OKAY, SO I STARTED THIS SHORT STORY, BUT LATER DECIDED TO GO IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION. INSTEAD OF SCRAPPING IT, I TRIED TO GIVE IT A DECENT ENDING, SO I COULD POST IT. HOPE YOU LIKE IT.
Catherine walked down the dimly lit hallway to her office at Job Corp. Exhaustion hugged her body, tightening its grip with every passing hour. With every step she took, her feet reminded her of the gnawing pain assaulting them. She knew without glancing at the clock, she only had an hour to write her report and then perform a final walk through of her side of the dorm. Long couldn't even begin to describe her day. All the students were in bed and hopefully for the night. She thanked her lucky stars they hadn't pulled any shenanigans tonight, because she didn't have the energy or brain power to address any more issues or dilemmas.
She quickly wrote her report and performed one last walkthrough. With her job duties completed, she gathered her belongings and began watching the clock, counting every slow moving minute that passed, wishing the clock would just strike midnight already. With only ten more minutes to go, she became antsy. Her relief hadn't arrived and she couldn't leave until they did. A million things ran through her mind, but she refused to let them steer her down that pessimistic road. As if on cue, Ms. Johnson waltzed through the door, all cheery and energetic, wearing a smile too bright for after dark. Catherine breathed a sigh of relief and cracked a half smile. Anything further would require too much effort, too much energy, which she was low in supply on both.
"Hi, Ms. Johnson," she said, hoping their greeting would be short, so she could begin her hour long drive home.
"Hi. Did everything go all right today?" Ms. Johnson asked, while putting her things away and preparing for the long night ahead.
"For the most part, yes. We had a few mishaps, but nothing to worry about."
"Okay, sounds good. Well, drive safely, and I'll see tomorrow."
Vincent sat in a chair, under the mask of darkness, at a spectacular vantage point, just watching and impatiently waiting for his neighbor to arrive home. He despised her working so late and found it impossible to sleep without first knowing if she had made it home safely. He took another drink of water, his eyes never leaving the street. Her late hours were going to send him to an early grave, he was sure of it. A faint glint of light flashed in the street and his heart increased its tempo, beating in his chest like a caged wild animal. His mind said it's her, so he slid closer to the edge of his chair, unaware of how perilously close he was to falling on the floor. Soon lights illuminated the street and her little Mazda swung into her driveway. He stood and exhaled, freeing the breath he had been holding hostage. With his neighbor, Catherine, finally home, he was free to finally go to bed, but he stood riveted to the spot. He admonished himself daily for behaving like a stalker, but he was too invested, to end his nightly duty as a sentry. Besides, if anything ever happened to her, he knew he would never forgive himself.
He watched her open the door and get out of her car. Her walk immediately relayed the message of how tired she truly was. He ran his hand down his face as he silently wished he could run her a bubble bath and later massage her aches and pains away. She looked around cautiously as she approached her front door, her gaze coming to rest on his house. He often wondered if she knew he was watching, protecting her, under the concealment of darkness. Seconds later, lights brought her dark house to life, reassuring him of her safety. Vacating his post, Vincent ambled down the hallway to his bedroom. With only his pajama pants on, he slid under the cool sheets and relaxed in his favorite position, on his back. Obviously, he was a glutton for punishment, because he knew Catherine barely knew he was alive, and yet he felt obligated to ensure she made it home safety every night. And if she was interested in him, his real identity and what he was, would unfortunately have her running away faster than Speedy Gonzales. Fatigued from volunteer guard duty, his eyes took a bow and closed for the night.
Catherine came awake suddenly, startled by the blaring alarm clock. Effectively silencing the infuriating noise, she stretched and yawned, before closing her eyes and relaxing for a moment, eventually drifting off into a daydream. Her thoughts went to the one person who occupied more space in her mind than anything else, Vincent Keller. He was tall, extremely fit, and if there was a term coined to describe how incredibly handsome and sexy he was, she wasn't aware of it. And those eyes. Those rakish blue eyes promised endless passion and his body shouted amen. Too bad he was so reticent. Oh, he would engage in conversation briefly, but he always seemed to be on the edge, in a hurry, as if he didn't have time for small talk.
Remembering she had class, she dragged herself out of bed. At least she had her creative writing class today. It was her favorite class, and surprisingly the one that had her rethinking her long term goals and plans. As far back as she could remember, she wanted to be a social worker, but now the scales were tipping more towards being a writer. With only a semester to go before she graduated, her current major was unchangeable. Besides, did it really matter what her degree was in, as long as she had the skills and passion to write. With her body finally on board with the morning routine, she quickly showered and dressed for class. Afterwards, she locked up and headed to her car, hoping she didn't forget anything. And wouldn't you know, as soon as she reached her vehicle, Vincent jogged by, sending her body into a tailspin. Of course, her body picked that moment to betray her, and exhibit the magnitude of her chaotic emotions. Powerless to prevent her unexpected misfortune, her foot twisted, throwing her body off balance, and sending her and all her belongings on a ill-fated trip to the asphalt driveway. Within seconds a pair of strong hands lifted her up as if she was light as a feather. Vincent's Tiffany blue eyes met hers and she could have sworn she heard somebody say amen.
"Are you okay?" He asked, concern written all over his face.
She wondered why people always asked you, after a fall, if you were all right. No, I'm not all right. I just fell, not to mention, in front of my handsome neighbor. I'll will never be all right again. Especially since he now knows I'm a total klutz.
"I think I twisted my ankle, but if you can help me get in my car, I'll be okay. I have a class I'm about to be late for."
If looks could kill, she'd be on her way to rest in peace, in her sweet eternal home.
"You're in no shape to walk on your ankle. If you aggravate it further, the healing process will be prolonged."
She rolled her eyes. Bossy much. "Fine. Take me inside. My keys are on the ground."
With expert precision, he balanced her in his arms and retrieved the keys and her purse. Once inside, he placed her on the long sofa in the living room.
"Do you have an exam in the class you were going to?"
"No, but we were going to pick a book to write an essay on," she said frustration showing on her face.
"Why don't you email your teacher and explain your situation? I'll help you around the house, and I have a friend who is a doctor. I'm sure I can convince him to make a house call."
"I'm sure you don't need to go to all that trouble for a sprained ankle."
He jerked his head up and met her eyes. Only when he saw the pleading look in those hazel irises, he instantly wished he hadn't. She had an unassuming beauty about her, but he wasn't fooled. A woman like that, with beautiful long red hair, framing a pretty heart shaped face, and hazel eyes mixed with flecks of gold, definitely could breathe fire, that would have the poor souls in hell begging for mercy. No doubt about it, she was a firecracker and he'd better be careful.
"If it's all the same to you, I'd feel better if you were checked out. Humor me, will you?"
He saw her resolve melting, taking his heart along with it. They'd only had brief conversations in the past and he'd rushed through them to prevent her from learning how much he really cared about her. But being so close to her now, maintaining his composure, was taking more strength than he feared he possessed.
"If that's what it takes to get you off my back, then fine, call your friend," she said, clearly not pleased about being treated as such.
Yep, most certainly a firecracker.
"I'll call him now."
Catherine nodded and watched Vincent unzip a pocket on his shorts and take his phone out. Her gaze automatically lowered to his legs. And what a pair of legs they were. He was so perfect, she wondered if he was built instead of the product of reproduction.
"Catherine, did you hear me?"
Suddenly embarrassed, she had been caught staring, she reluctantly looked up. "I'm sorry, what did you say?" She asked, wondering just how long she had been in a trance.
"He'll be here in an hour."
"I'll go grab the rest of your things from outside.
An hour later, Catherine's suspicions were confirmed. Her ankle was indeed sprained. Vincent's, friend, Dr. Forbes, had an excellent bedside manner, so to speak.
"Do you have to venture out anywhere in the next couple of days? If so, you'll need a pair of crutches," Dr. Forbes said, putting her medical utensils back in his medical bag.
"I have to go to work and school. Well, I may be able to email my school assignments, but I do have to be at work."
"I can write you a note, excusing you from work for the next three days. It is imperative you stay off your ankle, to prevent further injury."
Catherine smirked. "The two of you are quite a pair. Since you leave me no alternative, home it is."
Dr. Forbes produced a notepad from his pocket and wrote as he gave her instructions on treating the sprain.
"That's good to hear. I'm leaving an elastic compression wrap for Vincent to wrap around your ankle later. For now, I've asked him to apply an ice pack for ten minutes, every two hours, and keep your foot elevated to speed up the healing process. Vincent can reach me day or night, if any problems should arise."
"Thank you, so much, Dr. Forbes. If you'll leave your office information, I'll come by next week and settle my bill."
"Don't worry about it. It's already taken care of."
"And by whom, may I ask?" She felt her stomach plummet as she waited for the name, the one she knew he would say.
"I owe a Vincent a favor, so I guess you could say he paid it," he said, handing her a note for work.
Vincent saw the storm brewing in her eyes, building to dangerous levels, only seconds away from raining down a ferocious verbal lashing, so he quickly interjected.
"JT, if you're finished, I'll walk you out."
JT had seen the fire in her eyes as well and gladly accepted Vincent's offer.
JT smirked at Vincent when they reached his vehicle. "So, that's the neighbor
who has snagged one of the richest bachelors in the city, albeit unknowingly."
"Shhh, before she hears you. She doesn't know who I am and I want to keep it that way," Vincent said in a low tone.
"Surely you know this won't end well. It never does. If you really care about her, then you have to be honest and tell her who you really are."
"Right and scare her away. She doesn't know how I feel. And to find out I'm a billionaire as well. I might as well give up any chance of ever dating her right now."
Vincent, I get your point, but secrets aren't a good way to start off a relationship. If she cares about you, she'll accept you for you, and not your financial worth."
"I don't know. I just feel like she's the one, but I fear if I'm honest I'll drive her away. I'm at a fork in the road, trying to decide which road to take, when clearly both roads lead to doom."
"She seems like a sensible person. Give her a chance. You might be surprised."
"I'll take your advice under consideration."
"Good luck with whatever you decide. Duty calls."
"Thanks, JT, I owe you now."
"Beers on you next time and we'll call it even."
Vincent walked back inside bracing himself for hurricane Catherine. He chuckled to himself. He was digging himself in a hole. He wondered if it was better to stay in the hole or go inside and face the little spitfire waiting to singe every strand of hair off his head. Always one to face adversity head-on, he opened the front door and prepared to face the eye of the storm.
He wasn't disappointed when he entered the living room. Catherine didn't hesitate to release her fury on him.
"Why didn't you consult with me first, before making a financial decision for me?" She asked, her eyes only seconds away from torching him where he stood.
"Sorry, I figured since I called him, then I should take care of the bill."
"We barely know each other and although, I appreciate everything you've done thus far, I can pay my own bills."
"Can you cook?"
A frown creased her her forehead. "Excuse me."
"Can you cook?"
"I can. Why?"
"I can't and I'm tired of fast food. When your ankle has healed, you can pay me back by cooking me a meal twice a week. Is that okay with you, or am I overstepping my boundaries?" He asked, giving her a cheeky grin.
Catherine gave him a evil look. He was a rogue and she was helpless to resist him. She almost protested until she thought about the hit her bank account would take.
"Are you allergic to anything?" She asked, wondering if she was making a mistake.
"No. I'm not picky either. I'm sure whatever you prepare, I'll like it. Since you can't cook today, fast food it is. I could go for some Japanese food. Do you like Benihana?"
"My God, did you migrate from Beverly Hills or something?"
"Or something," he replied, gauging her reaction. She didn't realize how close she was to the truth.
"Since I can't cook, then I'm at your mercy."
"Great. I'll prepare an ice pack to put on your ankle."
Catherine lay on the sofa attempting to remain calm. After everything had settled down, it finally hit her that Vincent was in her house taking care of her. She glanced surreptitiously at him, as he filled a Ziploc bag with ice. Since, she was practically immobilized for the next couple of days, might as well enjoy the view. And what a view it was. He turned around, and she hastily turned away. He came back in the room, taking a seat at the end of the couch, near her injured ankle. He touched her leg as her applied the ice pack and her world turned upside down. Electricity coursed through her body, sparking a chain reaction from her organs. A party raged inside her as she struggled to keep a straight face on the outside. All of sudden the room temperature was unbearable, breathing was a chore, and Vincent was oblivious to it all. He looked up and their eyes locked for moment. His eyes drew her in, imploring her to take a chance. But then he averted his head, breaking the connection, unaware of the SOS written across her heart. He stood abruptly, avoiding eye contact.
"I need to run home and I'll go get the food while I'm out as well. Do you need to go to the bathroom, before I leave?"
Her bladder shouted yes from the highest mountain. Then it dawned on her, he would have to carry her and that development invited a swarm of butterflies into her stomach. She just dropped her head and muttered, "Yes."
Within seconds, she found herself snuggled against his muscular chest. If home is where the heart is, then her heart had taken off its shoes and relaxed on Vincent's chest.
"Which door?" Vincent asked, heading down the hallway.
"First door on the left."
Vincent knew he had to go home. He needed a break to compose himself, to rein in his overactive heart and mind. His restraint was slipping, being so close to Catherine.
He put her down in the bathroom and walked out. Leaning against the wall, he finally took a breath. Breathing in and out with his eyes closed. What had he gotten himself into? He didn't have a clue. The only truth he was aware of was he had left the "like" zone a month ago. He couldn't bring himself to utter the L-word, but he was somewhere in the vicinity of it and it scared him. But he couldn't walk away now. And he couldn't offer an explanation on why. The sound of water running was the last thing he heard before he drifted into a smoking hot daydream. Warm soap suds cascaded down Catherine's soft, pliable skin. He had an urge to join her as he watched her clean every beautiful nook and cranny with a soapy towel. An eyegasm brightened his eyes, while his body begged for an orgasm.
His head snapped around. Belatedly, he realized, his daydream had left him in an unwanted state. Just great.
"Vincent, did you hear me?"
Yes, he heard her, but he was too embarrassed to move. Frankly, in his state he didn't think moving was remotely possible.
"Vincent, is something …" her voice trailed off when her eyes spotted the problem currently plaguing him.
Her eyes went wide and her mouth formed an o, but she didn't look away. Couldn't look away. Their eyes locked, brimming with a mutual fire so hot, they could have branded cattle. He stepped closer. She stood still. Silence loomed over their heads. Their eyes didn't move. If the sound of their beating hearts were in stereo, a lover's tune would have played as Destiny waved her hand. His hand slid around her waist, gently moving her closer, and his lips descended, commandeering her mouth, kidnapping her tongue, and hypnotizing her body. She had been kissed before, but if this was kissing, her past suitors had made a mockery of a beautiful act. Vincent eased out of the kiss leaving proof that she had been thoroughly kissed. Bee-stung lips and all.
"I won't be clichè and say I'm sorry, because I'm not. I've wanted to kiss you since the first day you moved into the neighborhood."
She gave him a coy smile. "Then we agree, because I wanted to kiss you as well."
"Am I to understand, you like me." He paused. " I mean more than a neighbor. More than a friend."
His poor heart held on for dear life, as if the next beat was contingent on her answer.
"Yes. I like you a lot. I know my confession goes against what is considered proper, but we violated that boundary with one smoking hot kiss two minutes ago."
He smiled and it definitely reached his eyes. "What are we going to do about this mutual attraction?" He asked, raising his brow.
It was a simple act with a heart-stopping effect. Catherine shrugged her shoulders. She knew what she wanted, but she needed to hear his idea first.
"I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but I think we're well past the beginning, but not quite in the middle, so to eliminate confusion, why don't we just start at the end?"
Catherine knew the conductor had waved his baton, because Canon in D Major filled her ears. The world had somersaulted off its axis. But her mind was clear and her decision was made.
He frowned. "You do understand what I'm asking of you, don't you?"
"And you do understand what I'm expecting from you, don't you? She replied with confidence.
"Yes, but there is something I must tell you before we go any further."
Please don't say you have a communicable disease. Please don't say you're married. Please don't say anything that will break my heart.
"Michael Keller is my dad. You know, the actor."
Catherine felt like she had taken a blow to the gut. A celebrity's offspring. A billionaire. A major studio executive's son. Evidently she had transcended to another universe, because nothing about her day was close to normal. And with that thought, she decided to join the party and share her secret as well.
"My mother was shot and killed in front of me. Shortly thereafter, my dad was killed by a hit-and-run driver, and my sister moved out of the country. I'm in the witness protection program, working an hourly job, with a Criminal Justice degree from Princeton, that is practically useless, since I can't use it. And if you breathe a word of what I just told you-"
"Trust me, your secret is safe with me. I'll even tell you my secret, so that we're even. I'm a beast. When I was younger, I had leukemia, and I was given six months to live. My parents took me overseas to be treated by a doctor who was close to a cure. Unfortunately, the cure wasn't close enough, but my father begged him to give me the drug anyway. As a result, I am half-man, half-beast. Although, I am Cancer free."
"Does your condition affect your performance?"
"No. If anything, it enhances it."
"So, why are we still talking?"
"Were not," he said," as he scooped her up.
"Second door on the right."
Hours later, Catherine awoke with her head on Vincent's chest. And what a magnificent chest it was. Artistic perfection. She looked up and met those blue bedroom eyes.
"Are you okay?"
"Was she okay? For the first time in a year, she was great."
"I have a confession to make."
Please don't say you're a serial killer. Not after that performance.
"First let me say, I'm not a stalker. But, I watch for you to come home every night. I can't sleep until I know you've made it home safely. But you knew that already, didn't you."
"This may sound crazy, but I felt you there. I don't know how, but I did."
"Is that why you look at my house every night before going inside?"
"Guilty as charged."
"In your heart, do you feel complete right now, like you finally found that missing piece to your puzzle."
She raised a quizzical brow. "It's like you read my mind."
"I didn't. I know because I feel the same way."
He ran his hand up and down her back. "I guess that means we're meant to be."
"I believe it does. Are you okay, being stuck with me? You know, with all my baggage."
"I wouldn't have it any other way. As long as you can accept mine."
"I already have."
THANKS FOR READING MY SHORT STORY. LEAVE ME A REVIEW AND LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS.