Love comes to a priest unexpectedly. How does he deal with the ramifications?
| Father Patrick released the door knob. The door clicked shut as his blue eyes met Callie’s.
“Thank you for visiting my mother.”
“You’re welcome.” Pausing, he searched her expression. “Would you like to take a walk?”
With a slight smile, he offered an arm. She looped her slender arm through his as they strolled out onto the premises. As they approached a walled garden, Callie produced a metallic key. Brow knit, she fitted it into the lock. It ground as she twisted it. Creaking, the door swung open.
The door clanged, shuddering. For a moment, silence shrouded the pair as they stood amid the garden. Crimson roses bloomed while vines crawled over the stone walls. A bird took wing, soaring up over the wall. Water gurgled in a nearby fountain, glinting in the sunlight. Beneath a spreading tree, a stone bench sat.
Father Patrick led Callie over to the seat. Leaves rustled around them as they settled onto it. “Oh, Callie.” Cupping Callie’s cheek with his smooth palm, he whispered, “If only there was a way…”
She covered his hand with hers. “But…”
“Shh.” With tenderness, he brushed his lips against hers.
Briefly, she drew back. “We shouldn’t… You’re a priest!”
“I know.” A muscle jerked in his cheek. His fist balled, white-knuckled. “I can’t stop myself.” A sigh escaped him as his fist eased. He brushed a lock of auburn hair behind her ear. “I love you.”
Her emerald eyes softened. “You have my heart, Patrick.”
A smile played on his lips as he worked his fingers into her hair. Leaning near, he touched his lips to hers. She melted against him as he gathered her closer. The kiss lingered as passion intensified. Time ebbed as the sea while he drank her in.
Three Months Later
“We need to talk.”
Arching an eyebrow, Father Patrick eyed Callie. “What’s going on?”
She bit her lip. “I – I’m pregnant.”
“What?” His eyes widened, mouth agape. Turning, he faced the window. “This isn’t supposed to happen!”
Callie placed a hand on his arm. “Patrick…”
He whirled around. “Don’t call me that! I’m Father Patrick!”
Tears welled, slipping down her cheeks. “You said you loved me.”
“I know.” His shoulders slumped. “I can’t have a child, I’m a priest!”
“You should have thought about that when you slept with me!” Spinning on her heals, she bolted out of the office.
Knuckles white, Father Patrick grasped the whip. With all his strength, he lashed it across his back. Skin tore as pain radiated. Gritting his teeth, he slashed his back again. Each lash ripped his flesh. Back throbbing, blood seeped, he shut his eyes. One final time, he hit himself with the rod. Pain licked like fiery flames as blood and sweat mingled. With a groan, he opened his eyes.
The whip slid from his fingers and he sank to his knees. His tortured eyes searched the ceiling. “God, forgive me!” Arms spread wide, palms up. “Please…” Eyes pooling with unshed tears, he shuddered.
Moonlight filtered in through his window, bathing him in ethereal hue. “What have I done?”
Six Months Later
The baby blinked, fist closing around his mother’s finger. Callie gasped. “Oh, Gabriel…”
Her eyes came up. “Patrick?”
Standing in the doorway, the priest leaned against the doorframe. Arms folded as if to ward off a chill, he wondered, “May I – may I come in?”
She nodded almost imperceptibly.
With caution, Father Patrick approached the bed. Easing down beside her, he covered her hand with his. “I’m sorry for how I acted when you told me about our son.”
Swallowing, he nodded.
“Do you mean it?”
She wove her fingers between his. “I forgive you, Patrick.”
A smile tugged at his lips as his eyes glowed. “Good. I’m glad.” His eyes turned toward the baby. “What’s his name?”
“That’s a strong name.” Pausing, he searched her eyes once more. “Callie?”
“I’ve decided to leave the priesthood.”
“What?” Her eyes widened. “You have?”
“Yes. I choose you, and our son.”
A soft laugh emitted from within her. “Oh, Patrick…” Her fingers squeezed his. “Would you like to hold your son?”
“Oh, yes!” With arms outstretched, he grinned as she placed their child into his waiting arms.
Word Count: 713