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A soul hangs in the balance!
The only one of his kind, Deacon recalls thousands of years existing yet he has no memory of why. He can’t profess to living in seclusion because he greedily pursues pleasure in arms of so many men, he never lacks companionship. All those arms, lips, and asses, none feed his true desire. Deacon yearns for someone to make in his own image by introducing them to a hunger so vile, they will detest him forever.
Father Merck Hallowell stands at a crossroad of conscience and faith. His convictions, no longer satisfying, leave him searching for reasons to persevere. Befriending a handsome but strange parishioner opens a doorway Merck longs to enter and explore. Discovering Deacon’s secret, he realizes not only his life hangs in balance—so does his soul!
EXCERPT - THIRD CHAPTER:
Sensing Merck’s turmoil, understanding it, Deacon didn’t press for their meeting. Two days had passed and each of them Deacon waited in the same pew more than aware he was not coming. Not because he plundered his mind. Deacon hadn’t. He sensed it in his bones.
Ahh, the affect this holy man had on him.
Had it been anyone else, Deacon would have hunted them down, extinguished his desire immediately.
Today, as sun began to set, he felt Merck enter the sacristy and heard water run briefly. Standing, Deacon walked to the confessional and slipped behind the curtain. Shortly, the door beside him opened and closed quietly. He began with, “Father, I have…”
Abruptly cutting Deacon off, he asked, “Must we talk religion tonight?” A sigh signaled Merck’s weariness. “Seven hundred and thirty years?”
“Give or take quite a few hundred. That’s when I last confessed. Right around the time I became aware Catholicism resonated with me for whatever reason.” Silence wore on. “Father?”
“Call me Merck.”
“Does that ease your conscience?”
“No.” Deacon heard clothing rustle. “Why Deacon?”
“It’s… I may have been one of the first. Anno Domini, what year precisely I don’t recall, although, Stephen had been stoned to death and martyred. I opened my eyes in a meadow strewn with red lilies, and…and I…was.”
“What do you see, Merck?” Again, the swish of material. “Are you removing your robe?”
“I’m okay with that.”
Merck grunted. “And if you were not?”
“I’d ask you to put it back on. Merck?”
“Were you concerned for me in the alley?”
“As I would be for anyone.” He paused. “I don’t use this confessional much anymore. Most parishioners are satisfied with face to face.”
“Are you saying you’d prefer we do this somewhere else or that you wish our sessions to be face to face?”
“Somewhere else but I like not seeing you.”
“You must know considering you ransacked my mind.”
“I’ve not taken that liberty since you asked me not to.”
“But you could?”
“At any time, yes.”
Deacon stretched his legs out which left expensively shod feet visible beneath the curtain. “I promised to listen to you.”
“I have nothing to say.”
“Tell me when you began feeling disdain for your religion.”
“You tore that from my mental path.” Fingers laced through the ornate screen separating them. “I don’t know God anymore.” Deacon observed knuckles whiten as they tightened around wood. “I’m not sure I ever did.”
“Yet you went through with the Rite of Ordination?”
“I wanted to make a difference.”
“Not nearly half what I set out to accomplish.”
“Perhaps there is another way.” Deacon recognized confusion once again. Stronger this time and, Jesus, he didn’t want to care. Needing to stem his feelings, he asked, “Why don’t you want to see my face?”
Merck’s fingers unwrapped from the screen. Feet scrapped as he stood, and Deacon heard the door open and close. Not sticking to his vow, he entered Merck’s mind; he shoved past visions of parishioners, words on paper for Sunday’s Mass. He moved to thoughts marauding along his mental path of leaving Deacon alone in the confessional.
More than anything in the world—Merck wanted to walk away and not look back.
When Merck snatched the curtain aside, so riveted on the priest’s unrest and the fact that he might care, Deacon was caught totally off guard. Let this go, damn it. “Why can’t you look at me?” A cacophony of doubt blared in Deacon’s soul. Let. Him. Go!
“Because I want you. I can’t keep you from my mind… Not your reading it but, Lord, all I think about is you.” Merck’s head bowed dejectedly.
Deacon spread his legs, tugged him into the room and used fingers to nudge his chin up. “Look at me.”
Anguish darkened brown eyes to almost black. “Why me? Why?”
“Because.” He reached behind Merck’s neck, pulled his head down, and whispered, “I need you.” And you’re close enough to the edge to have answers or at least search for them.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Lips touched, tentative, sweeter than the first time. Tongues skimmed and glided in each other’s mouth acknowledging they belonged exactly where they were—together. Where did his start and Deacon’s stop? When he felt fingers touch his thigh, feather up, up until coolness seeped into Merck’s groin, he moaned. The echo in the small room should have been enough to stop him but he doubted anything or anyone could perform that feat.
What he thought impossible occurred within seconds at the sound of a nun’s voice. “Father Hallowell?”
“No, no.” He pulled away. “Deacon!”
“Shh. Breathe, Merck, she won’t see me.”
“I’m here. I thought I heard something drop to the floor during the last confession.”
“I didn’t know you used this confessional anymore.”
“Occasionally. It affords privacy some relish. How can I help you?” He turned his head toward her as he continued to pat the cushion pretending to search. Fear of being caught lessened his erection but it was the lie Merck detested more.
“The hospital called. The man you’d been asking about is awake.”
“Thank goodness.” Merck felt something cold pressed into his palm. Straightening, he looked at what Deacon gave him. A silver tie pin shaped like a rose. A rather large intense blue gem filled about an inch in the center. “I found it.” Tiny thorns poked at his hand.
The nun exclaimed, “It looks awfully expensive.”
“I’ll contact whom I believe it belongs to. Meanwhile, I’ll be at St. Pats.”
“Hope all is well, Father.”
“Thank you, sister.”
Merck twisted back to the seat. Gone. He retrieved his cassock and left. Reaching the entryway, he hesitated. “Damn you,” he grated through clenched teeth. “I know you’re here.”
He popped into view. “Perceptive.”
“You’ve got to stop…”
Fingers touched Merck’s lips, held them closed. “You’ve goddamned me once and damned me twice. It may eventually take root if you continue uttering such foulness.”
“You have got to be kidding me considering your filthy mouth?” The door pushed open and Deacon faded to nothingness again.
“Father Hallowell.” She peered around. “I thought I heard you speaking with someone.”
“My self, Mrs. Clark. I’m on my way to St. Pats. Should you require anything, Sister Elaine is inside.”
“Oh, I’ll be fine, Father. I’m lighting a candle for my sister who’s ill. In fact, she’s at St. Pats. If you could stop in I’m sure she’d appreciate it.”
“I’ll make sure to see her.”
Once on the sidewalk, Deacon burst into view. “You are quite the clothes horse.” He wore another high-priced suit with shoes that certainly didn’t look made for walking. Merck smiled envisioning a model not half as good looking wearing the suit down a catwalk. Smile evaporated when he realized money spent on Deacon’s ensemble could probably feed those in his small, rundown shelter for a month. Merck quickened steps toward the hospital hoping his brisk strides were hard to keep up with.
“What will you possibly say to the man who will surely return to being a blight on the neighborhood?”
“Have you always been cynical?”
“In the beginning, I don’t think so. However, those were simpler times. Now, among modern men and women, yes.”
“I can’t imagine what it would be like to live as long as you have.”
“And to think it’s never ending.”
“It’s called being immortal, Father.”
“Merck.” Deacon glanced sideways. “I believe you enjoy hearing your name roll off my tongue as much as I adore saying it.”
God, forgive me, I do. Overwhelmed, Merck slowed his steps. “How does it feel to bite a person?”
“You never bit anyone in the schoolyard?”
“You know what I mean.” What suddenly infuriated him? The cost of a fancy outfit or Deacon’s glibness regarding… Everything? “When your teeth sink into someone’s vein and you suck their life away.” From where Merck stood, Deacon had more than enough money if the tie pin was an indicator. His clothes. Fingernails manicured and hair styled. He halted and pulled the pin from his breast pocket.
“That’s mighty graphic, Merck.” Deacon’s head leaned. “Trivial things you are thinking I own or have access to I can fabricate with a blink of my eyes. I do prefer buying my clothing. It’s good for someone’s economy.” Mouth curved sardonically. “The pin, it’s real and it’s a rare, expensive blue diamond mounted in platinum.”
“Do you take their memories?” Merck had stopped his feet but couldn’t curb his words. “Do you care that you hurt or kill them?”
Eyes flared red. “What do you really want to know?”
“Why it’s easy for you. I want to know why you don’t seem to care about anything or anyone but yourself.”
“Why is my caring important to you? If I did, would it save my soul?”
Fisting the tie pin, Merck used such force placing it in Deacon’s hand, a tiny thorn drew blood. “That piece of jewelry could be a down payment on the building I’ve been after the archdiocese to purchase. I’d have additional room to shelter and feed people.”
“Keep it then. Have you considered buying the building yourself?” Licking his palm, he dealt with the pinprick and Merck winced until Deacon said, “It doesn’t hurt.
“You want to donate to the church; help God’s children?” Maniacal laughter jarred Merck and when he fathomed it was his, he shuddered. Unfortunately, that didn’t curtail his derision of Deacon. “Easy come, easy go when living life or taking lives. Right?”
“Is that what you believe?” Deacon grabbed his arm and pulled him into an abandoned doorway. “You think I live some romanticized version of Count Dracula where I happily skip through life biting people and living off stolen riches?” He shoved Merck against the door. “Yes, I have billions and I earned every penny in one way or another.” He smashed lips against Merck’s, kissed him hard and long while his palm sought out and rubbed over his shaft. Finished, he tightened his grip on Merck’s swelling penis. “Your anger stems from this, Father. You’ve got a hard on and you don’t know what the fuck to do about it.”
“You… You bastard.” He struggled from Deacon’s grasp.
“That wasn’t so hard to say now, was it?” Placing the pin back in Merck’s breast pocket, he patted it. “You’ll earn this.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re not a liar. You’ll keep your word.”
“I refuse to continue this charade in church.”
“Pick any venue. I don’t care.”
“If I don’t?”
“The man you’re going to visit?” Deacon stepped from the hidden doorway and glared at Merck. “He’ll be dead before you reach the motherfucking lobby.” He spun and walked away.
Life is complicated, it’s loud, death arrives silently. – J. Hali Steele (from Twice the Burn)