Dark Mercy (Preternaturals #0)

Chapter 3

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“Those was good words, Father. They really touched me right here,” the drunk said, pointing to the center of his chest.

Hadrian forced a smile and shook the old man’s hand, allowing the unpleasant smell to destroy his memory of Angeline’s perfume and the arousal that had come with it. He greeted and made small talk with each person who had come to Mass, and one by one, they filed out, slowly wearing away at the buffer between him and sexual immorality.

He looked up to find Angeline still rooted to the same spot. She could have been standing there staring at him for fifteen minutes, but he didn’t think so. He would have felt her eyes on him. The heat from her gaze would have turned his head again in her direction, even while he was trying so hard to ignore her.

The door shut with a loud thud, the same loud thud that had greeted them each week as she’d lingered to be alone with him in the empty sanctuary.

“Father Hadrian.”

Her voice was soft, lyrical. She hadn’t been misnamed, though her dark hair and beguiling nature suggested quite the opposite kind of creature.

“A-Angeline. I haven’t seen you here in awhile.” Could he not get that schoolboy stutter out of his voice?

“I was fighting temptation,” she replied coyly.

Hadrian cleared his throat. “And did you succeed?”

“No.”

She glided closer—or floated. The length of her dress made it impossible to tell which. She stopped mere inches in front of him. He should have taken a step back, should have excused himself, but her strange eyes locked with his. They drew him in, hypnotizing him.

If he were another type of man, he would have proclaimed she was a witch putting him under a spell, but it was just as much his responsibility as hers for not moving away. It was his fault for not finding a replacement for midnight Mass. His mind became fuzzy.

What was I just thinking about?

Her eyes pulled him in, making the rest of the room swirl around him in a slow blur. If he’d looked down to find them both floating and spinning in the air, he wouldn’t have been surprised. He was dizzy from the delicious scent emanating from her.

Her voice was a siren’s song when she spoke again. “Forgive me, Father, for I’m about to sin.”

Angeline’s mouth tasted like hot cinnamon candy as her lips descended on his. Her lip gloss left his mouth tingling. She might burn him alive with a single kiss. She chuckled as she continued her exploration of his mouth, as if he’d stated his thought aloud and she found it amusing.

Somewhere deep inside him was the place that was screaming that this must not happen, but it sounded like it was shouting from far away down a long, dark hallway, disappearing into a tinny echo. Quickly overtaking that voice was one penetrating thought that refused to release him.

I want her. I want her. I want her. I want her. The thought happened in rhythm to the beat of his heart.

Her lips left his mouth and made a burning trail over his cheek and up to the lobe of his ear. “Father Hadrian.” It was a breathy pant that held all the promise of a new universe unfolding.

He couldn’t remember what she said after that or even if she said something after that. The pounding of his own blood rushing through his ears—and other blood racing south in response to her nearness—had drowned out his ability to think or hear anything else but the lilting magic of her voice calling his name.

“Father Hadrian… ”

Her tone had gone from that of an angel to a writhing serpent as she rubbed her sinewy body against him. This was wrong. The thinking part of him clawed to get out. Something was all wrong about this, beyond the breaking of a vow. But he couldn’t form a coherent thought.

I want her. I want her. I want her.

“And you shall have me. Forever,” she said.

Had he spoken out loud? He wasn’t sure.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me right now,” he said, as her fingers slid under the Roman collar.

It startled him. His collar. Where were his vestments? There were more layers of clothing, or there had been a few moments ago. He glanced down to find the vestments somehow on the floor of the sanctuary. He started to pull away.

“No, Father. Eyes right here on mine. Stay with me.”

His gaze shifted back to her eyes and his will merged with her again. He didn’t realize his shirt was off until the air from the chilly room hit his bare chest.

“Oh, what a surprise. You must work out. Don’t be shy, Father Hadrian. It’s a crime you never get to be inside a woman with this body.”

She swayed in time to a music likely occurring only inside her head. Something earthy and sensuous, no doubt. The dress ended in a heap on the floor, and he learned he was right about the corset. Delicate black lace panties barely covered her most intimate area. His gaze panned down to see black leather boots that ended just at her thighs.

Angeline crooked a finger, her gaze heating. “Come with me, Father.”

She was still addressing him by his formal title, but they both knew it was just a dirty game she was playing. Why couldn’t he resist her? Like an obedient puppy, tail wagging, he followed her to the front of the church. She braced herself with one hand against the altar, leaning away from him, giving him a lovely view as she removed first one boot, then the other.

Then she was standing in front of him. Her skin, usually cold, seemed to burn him as her hand caressed his cheek. “Help me out of this, will you?”

She turned away from him and he was faced with the back of the corset all laced up. His hands shook as he fumbled with the ribbons. I want her. I want her. I want her.

The corset was tossed on top of the boots, and she turned to face him. Her eyes never left his as she hooked her fingers underneath the fabric of the panties, pressing them down over her hips and gracefully stepping out of them when they hit the floor.

Even without a command to direct him, his hand closed over her breast and he found himself stroking the hardened nipple. Hadrian came back to himself, pulling his hand away as if he’d been scalded.

She laughed. It was a laugh that seemed to fill up the entire church, that seemed to taint it somehow and make it unfit for its intended purpose.

“Someone will come in,” he said. It was unlikely at one in the morning, even in this city. But the fear still pressed on him. It was bad enough that God should see this, but he’d lose his post if anyone else found out. His mind had already moved beyond the idea that he could bring himself to stop her. He couldn’t find enough motivation even with the threat of getting caught.

“It would be the last thing they ever did,” came her cryptic response.

Her hand felt cool in his as she led him up onto the platform beside the altar. Moments later, the goblet of wine rang out like a gong as it clattered to the ground along with the tray that had held the bread. The tray made a reverberating sound as it tried to settle out flat like a coin that had fallen on its edge. It was the greatest sacrilege, the body and blood of Christ being carelessly tossed aside, but he couldn’t focus on that right now. There wasn’t room in his brain because of the one repeating thought that crowded everything else out.

I want her. I want her. I want her.

His own voice chanting in his mind wouldn’t let up for even a second to clear the path for any other, more sane thoughts. Her hand was down his pants now, stroking his bare flesh, causing him to harden impossibly further. Moments later, she divested him of the rest of his clothing. He was her toy. His body and mind were both fully committed as she pressed him back against the altar and mounted him.

She felt like silk. It had been so long since he’d been inside a woman. He’d forgotten the exquisite warmth, muscles tightening around him to take his pleasure deeper. Mystical experiences aside, how could he have stopped doing this?

You could have been doing this for years instead of denying yourself. What good has any of that denial done? How many people have you really helped? How many have better lives than they had because of you? How many keep turning back to their evil while you are left to deny, deny, deny that you’re human and have needs and… Holy Virgin Mary.

For a moment, he wasn’t sure if the voice in his head was his own or hers. Until the last thought. That had been decidedly his. He’d forgotten the power of orgasm, its own sacred ritual. Perhaps that voice was right. He shouldn’t have denied himself. How many priests really did?

Angeline arched her back and rode him a few more seconds before collapsing on his chest in a fit of giggles, her conquest finally accomplished.

Hadrian looked around, becoming aware of his surroundings again. He’d had plenty of rationalizations, but now, in the quiet aftermath, the guilt weighed on his conscience. Not only had he broken his vows, but he’d done it in the most lewd way imaginable. If they didn’t strip him of his post and duties, he would do it himself. He couldn’t stand behind this altar again and pretend he was a good man.

“Get off me.” He didn’t even recognize his voice. It was cold, hard, everything he’d fought not to be in spite of a fucked-up world that never seemed to get any better or brighter. But right now, he just wanted to kill the woman draped over him. He wouldn’t feel an ounce of remorse for it. He wanted to kill her, because if he could, maybe he could also kill the sin he’d just committed, erase it while he erased her.


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