Vincent has a great deal of experience when it comes to women. Okay, one woman – one who has return to him, generation after generation, for over a thousand years. In his third appearance in Joshua’s story, we find vampire MacAaron atop Mt. Hood in Oregon, bemoaning a mistake he feels he’s made with Catherine. Vincent appears to give his brother-in-blood some much needed advice.
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Joshua stood on the highest peak of Mt. Hood and gazed at the low clouds below his feet. From this great height, the stars were too numerous to distinguish, filling the sky until the dark velvet dome could hold no more. Thoughts of Catherine filled his head and his heart until he felt they would tear him apart. Soon he wept, softly at first, but then with great sobs that shook him to the core of his being. He sat on the icy ridge and let his tears spill forth, hoping to purge himself of his pain.
He sensed the presence long before Vincent appeared on the ridge beside him. “Leave me,” he begged when he found his voice.
“You require counsel,” he answered in a soft and sympathetic tone. “Let me help.”
He glanced at his friend, who was now seated beside him. “I thought you returned to Haven.”
“I did. I returned only to see how you were doing. Not well, I see.”
“In other words, you’re checking up on me.”
He shrugged marginally. “I can’t dismiss my responsibilities. Still, I should think my support would be more welcome to you than Bastian’s interference.”
He tried to call forth his anger, hoping it would give him the strength to argue, but all that erupted from him was yet another round of sobs. “I’ve made a mistake,” he said when he again found his voice.
He nodded silently. The two sat on the ridge for some time before he confessed, “I gave her my blood.” He took a deep, unnecessary breath. “Her life was at risk. I sustained her.”
“This distresses you?”
“Yes. I fear there were…complications.”
“You knew there would be.”
“No,” he said sadly. “I only suspected.”
“How far has it gone?”
He looked up at the myriad stars, wishing for the oblivion they enjoyed. “An increase in visual acuity, especially, I suspect, at night. Sharpened hearing. Judging by the way she toyed with her clothing the other night, a heightened sense of touch, perhaps changes in taste and smell as well.”
“That isn’t the worst of it.”
“No. If that were all…” He turned his attention to his hands, studying the smooth, pale skin absently. “A sympathetic bond formed between us years ago, one I alone was sensitive to. That bond has strengthened, and she’s becoming more and more aware of it.”
“I see.” After a long, intense silence, he asked, “Are you in love with her?”
It took several tries for Joshua to release his response. “Aye.”
“Does she return the sentiment?”
“I believe she was moving in that direction.”
“I don’t understand the problem. Take her into your confidence.”
“I’m afraid she might not be as open to certain…possibilities as I had hoped.”
“If she resists, you can always take control of her.”
“No. I value her freedom of thought, her ability to choose. I can’t take that from her. You of all people should understand that.” He rose to his feet, slowly and gracefully unfolding himself until he felt he could reach out to the stars and surrender to their embrace. “Her love for me cannot grow on its own. I’ve influenced things far more than I intended. I’ll never know if she gives her heart to me freely. I must…” he choked on another sob. “I intend to release her right after her senior prom.”
“And then what?” Vincent’s voice had a tight, irritated edge to it.
“I don’t know. Go to ground. Move on. Block myself from her perceptions until she no longer feels my pull.”
“I hear your feelings much more loudly than your words. You would choose suicide rather than see this through.” He snorted in irritation. “Antonia did not teach you very well.”
“Just what is that supposed to mean?” he asked, his anger at long last beginning to boil.
“Joshua, do you understand so little of what you are? The girl’s heart was yours long before you gave her your gift. Otherwise, she would not have willingly grasped the bond you so greatly fear.” More calmly, he advised, “Continue on as you have been. Block your mind from her if you feel you must to prevent yourself from unduly influencing her. Guide her carefully, and she’ll accept your secrets. Unless you intentionally interfere with her will, she will do as her heart directs.”
His words poured over Joshua’s heart like a soothing balm. “If you’re certain…”
“Young Catherine belongs to you, my friend. I look forward to the time when you can introduce her to me as your bride.”