Chapter 8: The Nightmare Begins Again
The next day Catherine hummed to herself as she prepared for breakfast, recalling the events of the previous day. After Devin and she had brought Jacob and Rosie to Peter's house from Central Park, Catherine could hardly be separated from her twins. Jacob had been delighted to see Peter and Charles again, but he spent more time getting to know his mother and sister. Catherine spent the day telling Jacob why she and Rosie left. She answered as many questions as she could, although Jacob's favorite answer was to find out that Vincent was his father.
In exchange Jacob told his mother all about the Tunnels and Vincent. Rosie had been just as excited to learn about the Tunnels as Jacob had been about Connecticut. They talked all through dinner and Catherine's chocolate brownies, until Catherine tucked her children into bed. Of course her children insisted on a story before bed, so Catherine snuggled down with her children and, at their request, told the story of how she and Vincent first met. By the time she was done both Catherine and her children had fallen asleep.
In the morning Catherine awoke to find Jacob and Rosie's combined bodies had trapped her during the night. Now she happily made waffles, bacon, sausage, and eggs while everyone marched into the dining room for a late breakfast. Peter had already left early that morning so, as Devin put it, more for them.
"Dang Chandler," Devin said through a mouthful of waffle. "When did you get this good? I think you might even give old William a run for his money."
"Devin, please, I'm nowhere near as good as William," Catherine told him.
"I'd disagree and I have three witnesses to back me up, right guys," Devin indicated as his three companions all nodded their heads in agreement. Catherine only smiled and ate her breakfast.
"We gonna see Daddy today, Mommy?" Jacob asked as he reached for more bacon.
"Wellm I think that's up to Uncle Devin to decide," Catherine glanced over at him. "Just what exactly are you planning to do?"
Devin finished his last mouthful before answering. "Here's how I see it: everyone believes you're dead so we can't just waltz into Dad's chamber as if you've just come back from Tahiti. The shock of you alone is gonna stir up some questions. And to top it all off, there's explaining to Vinnie that he's a dad. So what I'm thinking is we need to coax the idea before throwing everyone for a lope."
"How do you suppose to do that, Devin?" Charles asked.
"In case anyone forgot, it is the month of January and in a day or two it will be the twelfth. As most of us know, Vincent was found outside St. Vincent's Hospital that very night, so it’s pretty much his birthday. I was thinking… We get a big box, wrap it up, hide you and the twins inside, and make you guys the biggest surprise of his life." Devin grinned at the thought of the surprise Vincent would get when he opened this gift.
"It sure would be the gift of the century. So what do you think?"
The twins liked the idea but Catherine was hesitant. The idea seemed just as bad as walking straight into Vincent's chamber and saying, 'Hello Vincent, sorry I've been away three years; turns out I'm alive and been avoiding you.' But before she could answer there was a knock at the door. Getting up Devin answered the door while Catherine stayed back with Charles and the children.
"Can I help you?" he asked as he opened the door to a young woman with bright red hair, wearing ripped jeans, a black T-shirt.
"If this is the home of Peter Alcott then yes, yes you can," she replied. "I'm looking for a friend of mine. Her name's Margaret, she's about my age, blond hair and brown eyes. She's supposed to be staying here, and I told her I'd drop by for a visit."
"Sorry, no one by that description." Devin didn't know who this women was and was trying to keep his guard up. Although he wouldn't deny that she was very attractive.
"Devin, it's all right," Catherine called from behind him. "She's my friend, Tasha Lockhart, the one whose mother and aunt helped me these past years. Let her in."
Tasha sashayed her way into the door and met Catherine in a fierce hug. "Cathy, it's so good to see you. You wouldn't believe how messed up the diner is without you. Momma has been going crazy with worry."
"Tasha, I've only been gone for two days." Catherine giggled.
"Yeah but no one could replace you," Tasha said before turning back toward Devin. "I take it he's another friend. If it weren't for the black hair and brown eyes, I'd think this stud was my little cub's daddy."
"Sorry Tasha, but you're close. I'd like you to meet Devin, Vincent's older brother."
"Nice to meet you." He shook Tasha's hand. "So, I take it you know all about my little brother?" He gave Catherine a so-much-for-keeping-secrets look.
"Don't worry, Scar Face, Cathy didn't tell me everything." Tasha snickered at Devin's obvious discomfort from the nickname. "But I did manage to get a few things: his name, how Cathy is completely head-over-heels for the guy, and whatever."
Hearing Tasha's voice, Rosie ran from the dining room and made a beeline for her. Tasha arms opened wide. She picked Rosie up and swung her around before giving the girl a big hug.
"Hey, there's my little cub. I was wondering when you'd show up."
"Tasha! Tasha here!" the little girl squealed. "Is Tom wid you? Why you here? Did Auntie Kitty come?"
"Whoa slow your role, Ro," Tasha said as she set Rosie on the ground. "One thing at a time. It's good to see you too. No Thomas and my mom are back home; and I'm here because your momma looked like she needed a friend when she left. So I hopped in the jeep and headed on out."
"All right now that's enough excitement. What do you say we all head back and finish that breakfast before it gets cold?" Catherine led the way and made up a plate for Tasha. Once she sat down Catherine started to make the introductions.
"Well you already met Devin, and this is his friend Charles." Catherine extended her hand toward Charles. He was shy, nervous about meeting anyone new, but received a surprise when Tasha appeared unafraid of him.
Extending her hand to the gentle giant, Tasha smiled. "How do you do."
Charles smiled and shook her hand. It was then that Tasha noticed the little boy Rosie was sitting next to. "Well, I'll be! Cathy, is this him?"
Catherine smiled. "Yes, this is my son, Jacob."
"Oh honey, I can't believe I'm actually seeing him." Tasha walked over to the other side of the table and knelt down by the boy's side. "Hi there Jake, my name's Tasha."
"Hi," the little boy said. "You nice lady who take care of my mommy?"
"Not just your mommy, I looked after your sister too," Tasha stated proudly. "Now I'm here to help in any way I can."
"Well maybe you can help figure out how to reunite Cathy and Vincent," Devin said. "Apparently my idea was no good." He then went into relay his plan to Tasha.
"Not bad, not bad, but I think it might be a bit cliché," Tasha told him. Noting that Devin seemed fluster Tasha was quick to reassure him. "Now don't be like that. It was a great idea, but I have to agree with that look Catherine has on her face. Although, I think using the birthday theme's not a bad way to go."
"How do you like that. The women are gaining up on me, Charles." Devin feigned hurt.
Everyone chuckled and then Rosie got an idea. Turning to Jacob, she saw he in his eyes that had the same idea. The two started giggling.
"Hey, what are you two scheming?" Catherine asked.
"Nothing," they said in unison. The habit had started last night and made everyone laugh.
Johnson watched as Catherine and Devin loaded the twins into Devin's car. He was surprised with the appearance of Tasha and felt the need to report it. He turned to his partner as he started up the car.
"Get Pope on the line," he told his partner. "Looks like they're up to something."
"Think that biker chick has anything to do with it?" the younger man asked.
"Beats me, but if there's any chance this all leads back to the freak, then the boss is gonna reward us big time. Just think about it: not only do we get the kids and the Chandler chick, but if we bag that monster, we may just find ourselves with plane tickets to Fiji."
"Let's not get carried away," his partner said as he dialed the number on the car phone.
Catherine and the twins had arrived back at Peter's house a little before noon. Once again she had forgotten to take of her disguise as she set aside her shopping bags. When Jacob and Rosie insisted that they were starving to death, so while Catherine made lunch Jacob and Rosie decided to play a game. She laughed to herself as she watched Jacob search the house intently for Rosie in a game of hide-and-seek. The two hardly seemed tired after the long day they had had.
They had spent the day shopping at a little craft store Tasha knew of. The twins had a lot of fun making various little crafts and each made something for Vincent's birthday. After the craft store Catherine decided that Jacob needed something to wear since Devin never grabbed the boy's overnight bag. Together Tasha and Catherine found a clothing store with cheap clothes and ended up buying Jacob two outfits. One of them was a matching outfit for Jacob and Rosie to wear: green T-shirts, blue overalls and white shoes.
Afterwards they spent the day at a little park. Devin had his camera and was taking pictures. Then Tasha and Devin decided to do a little shopping of their own, while also going over ideas for Vincent and Catherine's reunion. That left Catherine to call a cab and take the twins home. So while the children played, Catherine was making lunch and thought about what story she would use to get the twins settled down for a nap.
Catherine was just about to call off the game so the kids could eat when Charles entered the kitchen. She smiled as he sat down at the table. "Hello Charles."
"Hello, did you all have a good time?" Charles asked.
"Oh yes, it was wonderful. The children had so much fun at the craft store," Catherine answered. "Jacob and Rosie will probably show you the bracelets they made for each other later. Oh, and then we stopped by the park and Devin used his camera to take pictures."
"Where is Devin?' Charles was looking around as if Devin would show up around the corner or something.
"Devin and Tasha said they had to pick up something. They were also going to discuss plans for tomorrow." She glanced up at the clock. "I think they should be back in an hour or so."
"Catherine… Do you have an idea how you want things to happen between you and Vincent when you see him again?" Charles asked.
Catherine sighed and set down the sandwich she'd just made. "To be honest, I just don't know. I must have played this scene out a thousand times in my head: what I'd say to him or how he'd react. Every time I tried nothing seemed right. I considered writing letters, but I always ending up throwing them away."
"Why did you never send word? Surely a Helper would have been able to get your message to Vincent."
"I wanted to but I was afraid that if I tried to contact anyone, Gabriel would find me. He had footage of my escape that night and I bet he counted on me trying to contact someone. I also figured he had been monitoring my friends for any sign of me." Tears began to flow down her cheeks by this point.
"I could take Gabriel finding me, but if he ever found the Tunnels or Vincent… I couldn't live with myself."
Charles reached across the table and gave Catherine's hand a gentle squeeze. She smiled and returned the friendly gesture.
"Don't worry, Catherine," he told her. "I know Vincent. He will understand."
Catherine was about to protest when Jacob came running into the kitchen and launched himself onto Catherine's legs. He was crying and Catherine worried that something had happen to either him of Rosie.
"Jacob, honey, what's wrong? Where's your sister?" Catherine asked as calmly as she could.
"I playing wif Rosie, and I look outside to find her," he hiccupped, "and I saw scary man."
Catherine's fight or flight senses were taking over. She had to get Charles, the children, and herself out of the house now. Peter had a Tunnel entrance in his basement. Quickly, she ushered Charles and Jacob toward the basement and told them to get Below. then she turned back to look for Rosie.
Before Catherine had a chance to call out her daughter's name, four men burst through the front door and surrounded her. An old saying from her friend and self-defense teacher came to her head, Do whatever it takes to come out alive; use what you got.
One of the men signaled two of the others to grab hold of Catherine's arms, while he directed the other man to search upstairs. Using this distraction, Catherine managed to slip out of their grasp and make it to the kitchen. She made it to the knife holder and grabbed the biggest kitchen knife. Neither of her attackers used their guns, thinking overpowering a petite woman like her would be easy. They were sadly mistaken.
Meanwhile, Charles heard the commotion and hid Jacob near the Tunnel entrance. Then he made his way up the stairs and out the door. He ran to the kitchen in an attempt to aide Catherine when one of the attackers grabbed his gun and fired. Charles fell to the ground as Catherine lunged.
At that moment, Devin was coming around the corner when he heard the gunshot. Seeing a van outside Peter's house, Devin sprinted toward the house and through the front door. As he entered Catherine plunged her knife into the shoulder of one of her attackers. Devin charged as the other man was about to pounce on Catherine, tackling him to the ground. The two rolled into the living room and knocked over a lamp, which Devin bashed over his assailant's head. As he got up another man appeared and fired his gun three times.
"No!" Catherine cried as she watched Devin fall to the floor.
"Shut it you bitch," he yelled as he pressed his gun to the back of her head. Catherine stopped moving and dropped her knife. Then she was brought to the man who seemed to be in charge.
"Well Miss Chandler, we finally meet." He grinned at her surprise. "Yes, we know who you are. Now if you'd be so kind as to tell me where the children are hiding, we'd be happy to let you go."
Catherine remained silent. She knew this man was lying through his teeth.
"Well, suit yourself," he said. "The boss wants you alive anyway for questioning, but he didn't say undamaged. Harrison, McKnight. Take Ms. Chandler out to the car. Rogers, you and I will stay here and look for the brats."
Catherine walked quietly as she was lead to the black van. Normally she would have fought back, but she stayed quiet out of fear for her children. She could only pray that her children had made it to the Tunnels, or at least safely hidden somewhere.
Below, Father and Vincent were enjoying a third game of chess. Vincent was about to deliver a checkmate when his body suddenly froze.
"Vincent? What's the matter?" Father tried to ask. However, Vincent had gathered his cloak and was gone before he heard what Father was saying. Vincent ran as fast as his legs could carry him, following the pull of his Bond with Jacob. The young boy was experiencing an alarming fear and Vincent worried for the child's safety.
Jacob had remained hidden behind the pile of boxes after he watched Charles head back up the stairs. He heard all the noise and cringed at the sounds and tried not to scream when the gun went off. Then he heard a whimpering coming from the opposite side of the room.
Jacob crawled over to the opposite side of the room. Moving around some boxes Jacob found a small door. He opened it and found Rosie hiding inside.
"Rosie, you all right?" Jacob whispered.
"What happening? I heard scary noises," Rosie whimpered.
"There bad guys in da house. Charlie say stay here and he go help Mommy." Hearing another shot Jacob crawled in next to his sister. He pulled the boxes closer and then shut the door. Inside, Rosie clung to him and started crying.
"What gonna happen to us?" she asked.
"I don't know," Jacob told her.
"Mommy scared." Rosie sensed her mother through their Bond. "She want us hiding so bad guys can't get us."
"Rosie we gotta stay quiet, OK?" Jacob was sensing something of Catherine as well, but it wasn't as strong yet.
Rosie nodded her head. They waited a long time before they heard someone enter the basement.
"Hey Johnson, you sure they're down here?" Rogers asked.
"Course I'm sure. You saw her come home with both of them, so they're here somewhere. We searched everywhere else in the house. Now keep your trap shut or I'll carve you a new one."
"What was that?" Rogers asked after hearing a large bang.
"Came from over here." Johnson walked cautiously over to a large, antique cabinet. Then he chuckled to himself. "Ah hell, Rogers, unless this house has rats, I think we just found them."
Rogers let his guard down then and slung his gun over his shoulder. Stepping up to the cabinet he first tried to shake it. To his disappointment the cabinet had been bolted to the wall. Figuring they had the children corned, he laughed maliciously.
"Alright kiddies," he said, "come on out. Old Rogers just wants to take you for a little ride."
He reached to open the door, and, to his surprise, two little children were not inside. Instead there stood a very tall, very angry Vincent.
He had reached Peter's house a few minutes ago. When he heard Rogers and Johnson coming down the stairs, Vincent had kept himself hidden inside the cabinet. Now that he heard the evil intent of these men, Vincent burst through the doors.
Rogers and Johnson had not been expecting this and had no time to draw their guns. Johnson had been closer to the stairs and made a hasty retreat. Meanwhile, Rogers was left to fight off Vincent by himself. He was no match and Vincent easily overpowered the frightened man. He grabbed Rogers by the throat and pinned him against the wall.
Vincent let a low, threatening growl escape his throat. His claws pricked the flesh of Roger's throat causing a small trickle of blood.
"What are you doing here?" Vincent asked menacingly. Rogers only panicked more and Vincent shook him violently. "I asked you what you're doing here."
"Please, please, don't hurt me. I-I was just following orders." In his mind Rogers prayed that Johnson was getting back up. Even though Vincent had him pinned, Rogers tried to grope for the gun on his back. He just barely managed to grab it without being noticed.
"Where is my son?" Vincent demanded.
"I don't know, I don't know!" Rogers panicked.
It was then Vincent's acute hearing detected the sound of an engine starting. He turned his head toward the sound, allowing Rogers the opportunity to strike Vincent on the head with the butt of his gun. The surprise of the blow stunned Vincent enough for Rogers to escape from the vise-like grip.
Just as Rogers was about to run up the stairs, when a small voice caught his attention.
Both Vincent and Rogers saw Jacob emerge from a hidden doorway. Vincent tried to get to Jacob, but without warning, Rogers grabbed the boy. Jacob screamed, and Vincent let out a low snarl.
"Let him go!" Vincent roared at the man.
"One step closer," Rogers threatened as he put the gun to Jacob's head, "and I shoot."
Vincent knew the man was bluffing but he was not about to risk Jacob's life. Jacob was crying now and Vincent felt completely helpless. Slowly Rogers made his way to the front door. Once he was outside he put the gun down and bolted toward the van. Since it was still daylight Vincent could not follow. He could only watch as the van speed away, with Jacob inside.