“20 for 20”
Dancing in the Rain
by Linda Barth
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass.
It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.
~ Vivian Greene
Vincent lowered himself carefully to Catherine’s balcony, feeling his booted feet slip slightly as he moved across the damp tiles. He knew Catherine wouldn’t be expecting him for at least another hour. But the night had darkened early with an unexpected storm, and he couldn’t wait another moment to be with her.
Before he could raise a hand to rap against the rain-spattered glass panels, the French doors swung open, and Catherine’s gasp of surprise transformed to a joyful “Vincent!” She tossed her armload of pillows back onto the living room floor and herself into Vincent’s arms. Yet before any snuggling closer could begin, she tilted her head and frowned at the night sky.
Vincent chuckled softly. “I think it is.”
They grinned at each other, recalling similar words spoken on another rainy night. But then their smiles faded.
“We won’t be able to read together on your balcony,” Vincent began. “Perhaps some other night…”
“No!” She shook her head, the tiny droplets already glistening in the honey strands refuting her protest. “It’s only a gentle rain, nothing like that deluge during the concert last month. It won’t spoil our plans!”
His look of dismay transformed instantly to one of recollected pleasure. “I will never forget that other rainstorm…And while it did change our plans that night, I will never believe it spoiled them.”
Catherine smiled up at him in delight. “Neither will I!”
Still wrapped in each other’s arms, they turned to look out over the rain-streaked city, where the lights of the park far below glistened like tiny stars. “Maybe if we just stay here, close to the doorway,” Catherine suggested. Hope sparkled in her eyes as she took a step backward, bringing Vincent with her. “Just under the overhang. It might be dry enough.”
While uncertain her suggestion would be effective, Vincent knew it was next to impossible to refuse her, especially when he shared her hope. “Maybe, just for a little while.” He pulled her closer into his arms, turning to shield her from the growing storm.
She nestled her face against his chest, not caring one tiny bit about the cool moisture coating her cheek and beginning to seep into her clothing. “What did you bring to read tonight?” she murmured. “Something from Father’s library?”
“No. It’s a book Sebastien gave me one Winterfest. I’ve kept it in my chamber and cherished it as part of my own collection for many years.” He reluctantly moved one arm just far enough to reach into a pocket sewn in the lining of his cloak. “A collection of poetry by Dylan Thomas.”
A gust of wind swept across the balcony, scattering raindrops everywhere. “Vincent, don’t! That book is too special. We can read from it some other time when we can keep it safe.”
Nodding, he wrapped both arms around her once again and leaned his head gently against her damp hair. “I remember another night when I stood out here, listening to you read The Elephant’s Child to a lonely little boy, keeping him safe with your care and comfort.”
“Tony! I wonder what’s become of him.” Her smile faded. “I wish you could have come inside and joined us that night. I hate to think of you out here alone in the darkness.”
He shook his head. “I wasn’t alone, Catherine. I could hear the warmth in your voice. I could picture your smile. Your light was within me…as it always is…”
She stood on tiptoes and pressed a quick kiss to his rain-dampened cheek, surprising and stirring them both. “As it always will be, just as yours is within me.”
They clung to one another, savoring each heartbeat, each breath, each precious moment they shared. Their broken plans for the evening no longer meant anything to either of them. Well aware there is no life without limits, they knew this was nothing more than another small setback they would overcome before moving on again with courage, with hope, with love.
A sudden crack of thunder and a flashing stab of lightning shattered the night
Vincent pivoted her toward and nearly through the open doors. “Catherine, you must go inside, and I must leave!”
“No! Please stay, Vincent. Maybe that was the end of the storm. Maybe –”
Together they peered up at the night sky, only to see sheets of silvery rain plummet toward them, drenching them in seconds.
Momentarily stunned, they stared at one another, then, with gasps of laughter, they stumbled into the apartment together.
Several very wet towels later, Catherine, wrapped in a plush fleece robe, and Vincent, clad in one of soft, thick flannel, allegedly an old garment of her father’s that had somehow appeared in her closet, minus hastily removed tags and magically in Vincent’s exact size, found themselves standing somewhat uneasily in the center of the living room.
A gust of wind flung waves of rain against the rattling balcony doors, giving the couple a very good reason to come to the best possible decision.
“You’ll have to stay for a while longer,” Catherine began, a small smile curving her lips. “At least until your clothes are dry and the storm has let up.”
Vincent ducked his head, but not quickly enough to hide an identical smile. “Yes…”
“Why don’t you light a fire while I make some tea?” Catherine shivered as she lit several candles scattered around the room and turned off the lamps. “We need to find a way to get warm.”
He looked up, tilting his head at her words, wondering if she had more than hot tea and hearth fire in mind…hoping that perhaps she had.
Minutes later, on couch pillows spread on the floor in front of the fireplace, they cuddled under a handcrafted quilt. When Catherine shivered again, Vincent pulled the quilt tighter, tucking the swath of worn fabric squares around her shoulders. “I could ask Mary if she would make you a new quilt. This one has seen better days.”
“Absolutely not! I love this quilt because you gave it to me when I admired it on your bed. Nothing you can say would convince me to let it go.” She smiled up at him. “And maybe there are even better days in its future.”
Vincent felt a rush of heat suffuse his body, one that had nothing at all to do with steaming cups of tea or flames in a fireplace. He smiled back at her. “Maybe there are.”
Slowly, the heat of the fire and the sleep-inducing warmth of the herbal tea made their eyes drift shut. Still, they savored the sensation of being wrapped in each other’s arms, content and cozy and comfortable.
Maybe for just a few minutes, he told himself. Maybe forever, she whispered through the bond.
Yet after only a few moments, Catherine leaned up on one elbow, reveling in the gift the storm had given them, even as a twinge of guilt prickled at her contentment. “Vincent?”
“Mmm-hmm.” He opened drowsy eyes to see her looking down at him.
“This isn’t what we’d planned, and I know it wasn’t easy for you, but you need to know how happy I am that you found the courage to come into my home tonight. It means…it means so much to me.”
She burrowed back into his embrace and felt his breath rustle the silky strands of her hair.
“It wasn’t courage, Catherine, it was love…” He felt the wash of joy his words evoked. “And it was something more.”
She leaned back in his embrace and sparkled a smile up at him. “Something more?”
He nodded but remained silent as another small smile quirked his lips.
She tilted her head at him. “I won’t give up, you know, until you tell me. What else made you come inside tonight?”
His smile became a grin, the candle and firelight glinting against his unique teeth. “The rain.”
Catherine’s burst of laughter warmed him like the summer sun he so often dreamed of. So, this was what it was like, this was what it could be…
She rolled her eyes. “All those times I’ve tried to tempt you to come inside, and this is what it took? A rainstorm! If I’d only known!”
Vincent shook his head. The still slightly damp ends of his bronze hair swirled against her skin, sending the most delicious shivers through her. “Know this, Catherine.” The banked heat of his voice warmed her far more than the crackling fire before them. “Everything you do, everything you’ve ever done, has been a…temptation…”
He lowered his head, just brushing his lips against hers. The softest of sensations, the smallest step forward, a promise, a prelude. Breath held for a heartbeat, released in smoldering sighs. It was everything. It would never be enough.
And as the rain shimmered outside and the fire simmered within, they happily yielded to temptation.
Challenge elements used:
1. Principal characters: Vincent, Catherine
- Minor characters: Tony, Sebastien, Mary
- Places Above: Catherine’s balcony, Catherine’s living room
- Places Below: Father’s library, Vincent’s chamber
- Events: Concert in the park, Winterfest
- Quotations: “It wasn’t courage, it was love.” “There is no life without limits.”
- BatB symbols/talismans: candles, books of poetry
- Episode titles: A Gentle Rain, Temptation
- Items found in Vincent’s chamber: Collection of his favorite books, quilt from his bed
- Books from the episodes: The Elephant’s Child, a book of poetry by Dylan Thomas