Read the first chapter of Sweet Blasphemy now!
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Enjoy a sneak peek at the first chapter now!
Copyright 2021 Sara Cate
“As this will be your first Christmas Eve service, be sure to make yourself as useful to the priest as you can.”
“Yes, Sister Abigail,” I say resolutely.
“Fix your hair,” she snaps, sounding exasperated. I can feel my blonde waves falling out of my veil, so with a huff, I tuck them back and tighten the white fabric fastened at the nape of my neck.
“You will be at the service of Father Roman until you return. Understand?”
My fingers freeze, and I bite back my smile. “Yes, Sister Abigail.” Only a few more moments until I’m back in his presence, back at the church that has been my home for the past five years. Every moment that I’m not around Father Roman feels wrong, and now I have two whole days with him and instead of having to wait until mass is over to be near him, I will be on the altar with him, where I belong.
My heart beats wildly in my chest. I’m so excited I can barely stand it.
“Father Roman will give me a full report when you return.”
I nod, finding it hard to hide my emotions, and it’s obvious she can tell. With a delicate eye roll, she glares at me. “If he hadn’t requested you himself, you’d be my last choice. So consider this your test, Sister Cora. We need to know you’re serious about this.”
I am serious about this. I always have been, although I find the protocol of it all to be overly taxing and annoying. The clothes, the structure, the rules. It’s all too much, but everyone keeps telling me it’s all there to bring me closer to God.
The only person that ever brought me closer to Him was Father Roman.
And now I get to see him for the first time in six months. Being gone for my training is the longest Father Roman and I have been apart, and I’ve missed our time together so much it hurts.
Our car pulls up to the back of the church, and I follow Sister Abigail through the door as if I’m a guest. She knows I’ve seen every inch of this church, but she probably doesn’t realize that I've spent more time here than my own home in the past five years. Father Roman practically raised me more than my own parents.
The moment we pass the doorway into the church, the familiar scent sends me into an instant state of blissful nostalgia. Stopping at the entrance, I take a long, deep breath.
Then, I hear his voice. He’s in the middle of his homily, and I’m left breathless, lost in the familiar sound of his words, deep and velvety as he skims through the scripture. It’s ethereal.
“Come now, Sister Cora,” barks Sister Abigail, “because of you, we’re late and they are already in service, so be silent as you enter. Stay silently in the wings.”
I feel as if I’m floating toward the altar, and I take my place in the aisle at the side, my heart hammering in my chest as I stare up at him. His Christmas Eve vestments drape his arms, the rich white satin makes him look like an angel in front of the stained-glass.
He’s just as handsome as he always was, if not more so with the subtle way he’s aged, gentle creases forming around his eyes and lips, since I first met him. Father Roman is tall with rich brown hair and bright blue eyes. He has the sort of smile that makes my insides turn to mush and the nicest hands I’ve ever seen on a man. I didn’t even know hands could be something I’d find attractive.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t wildly attracted to Father Roman. Who wouldn’t be? I’m pretty sure half of these women in the pews are here to gaze at him without guilt for two hours a week. He’s only thirty-five, and when he looks at you, it’s like you’re the only person on earth. He speaks with sincerity, meaning every word that he says.
In my late teens, I was around other boys, men who spoke to me like they wanted something from me, and I knew what they wanted. It made me feel as if I could never trust a man as long as I lived, except for him.
I mean, naturally it’s a crush without a future. Father Roman is devoted to God, but so am I. In a way, we share that now.
Before turning the page of the scripture, his eyes dance upward and he hesitates a moment as his gaze falls on my face, a small smile tipping his lips. It’s subtle but it’s there. He’s happy to see me.
He requested me.
That truth still lives in my heart like a wonderful little shred of light to keep me warm. In some small way, Father Roman wants me, which shouldn’t surprise me. After all these years of being around him, we built a relationship, one that was fostered by the instant connection we formed on the day we met. I could be reaching, but these are the little lies my mind tells me to make me hope.
After the service concludes, Father Roman makes his way over. His eyes are locked on mine, as he greets us both. We keep up professional appearances in the presence of Sister Abigail, when I know—at least for me, I’m dying to throw my arms around him. But that wouldn’t be appropriate at all.
“Sister Abigail,” he says with a curt smile, “thank you for offering Sister Cora to help with our services this year.”
“Of course,” she replies. “And a member of your congregation too. I hope she serves you well.”
I feel giddy at the sight of him.
Sister Abigail spends the next five minutes kissing his ass and complimenting him on literally everything. And finally, after he walks her back to the car, she leaves.
I’m waiting at the back of the church for him when I hear his footsteps return; he finds me gazing at the stained-glass windows that I haven’t seen in months.
“I don’t know if I’ll get used to you in that habit,” he mutters from the doorway. Turning, I find him back in his plain black attire, arms crossed as he leans against the doorframe. My cheeks start to warm as a smile stretches across my face.
“I’ve missed it here so much.”
“You were missed,” he replies. His voice is careful and his words slow as if he’s afraid of what they mean. Did he miss me? Or did the church miss me?
I want to know he thought about me while I was gone, as if he didn't have anything better to do while managing an entire church by himself.
I can’t take it one more second, so I cross the room and throw my arms around his neck. It’s still inappropriate to do, and I’m terrified that he will scold me for it, but I sincerely think that it’s just us. Not a priest and a nun. Just Roman and Cora, the same people we used to be.
He stiffens for a moment before finally pressing one hand to my back to squeeze me just a little bit closer. I’d say we’re toeing the line, but there was never a line with Father Roman to begin with, because there was never any idea that we would or could cross it. He’s my mentor, my friend, and in some ways, my guardian. Even though I’m twenty now, he was there to protect and care for me during the most vulnerable years of my life. When I was most at risk of making life-altering decisions, Father Roman kept me on the right path.
So, no. There is nothing between us that threatens to be...inappropriate.
And yet...I can’t help but notice the hard surface of his chest against my breasts. And the delicious scent of his cologne. And how our stomachs are basically touching, which means our...other parts are nearly touching, and that thought alone should disturb me—but it doesn’t.
It excites me.
There’s an uncomfortable mixture of shame and disgust brewing in my belly at the thought. It’s wrong of me to feel this way, and I know that. Wrong to even think about it, but my mind goes there anyway. The sin perseveres against my strong will, and it’s unfair.
Should I tell him? I could confess, and I know he would give me the guidance I need. He always has. There wasn’t a problem I encountered since I met him that he hasn’t helped me through. But this...these feelings for him would be strange to confess.
When we finally pull apart, I have to hide my face because I’m afraid he’ll see the remorse burning through the flush of my cheeks.
He clears his throat, averting his eyes as he backs away. “Come on. We have a lot of work to do.”
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