FLASH FICTION FRIDAY
EXCERPT FROM DEFERRED DREAMS
Matt watched the taillights on Leticia's ride home as her grandmother drove from the church parking lot onto the street. He didn't mind waiting, though, even if Leticia was the last child to leave.
He waved at Trisha as she pulled out then he turned to Mary Louise. "I hope we made an impact on that little girl. From the look on her face, I'd say we did, but I worry about what happens when she returns to her home environment."
"At least we made a start." Mary Louise glanced at him then away to the path leading to the chapel, saying something he couldn't hear.
"I'm sorry, what did you say?"
She cleared her throat. "Do you suppose we can talk?"
Part of him said he needed to decline. Did he trust himself alone with her as the light of day waned and the moon appeared? The other half of him wanted to hear what she had to say.
Mary Louise strolled by his side past the oak trees and the walnuts and the garden with the statue of St. Aloysius. Finally, as she neared the little white chapel, she slowed and peered out toward the lake beyond.
The air had cooled a fraction and a whisper of breeze lifted a strand of her silky hair.
Matt, Matt. What are you doing here with her? Even scolding himself didn't make him turn back.
She lifted her eyes to him. "Ever since we prayed that day in April, I've found amazing peace—because of you."
"No, you're wrong. Only the Lord can offer peace. I was His messenger, and you accepted God's grace."
She nodded. "I suppose you're right, but since then, my life has changed. God wants to use me. I'm not so sure how, though. He's placed you and me together to help others." She shrugged. "I don't know, Father Matt."
It was all he could do to keep from pulling her in his arms. He'd prayed for God to take away the attraction, and He hadn't. Matt loved her more as each day passed. Was God leading him on a different journey, one he hadn't imagined?
She turned to face him. "The truth is, that's not all. Please forgive me for what I'm about to say. I can't sleep at night." She wiped a tear from her eye. "I need resolution. I can't go on like this anymore."
Matt frowned and searched her face. If only he could help her. He grasped her hand and lifted it to his chest. "Maybe you'd better tell me."
She raised her lovely eyes to him. "I don't know any other way of saying this. I need to know." She hiccupped. "Do you feel the connection that I do, the yearning to be with you day and night?" She covered her face, shaking her head. "I'm so sorry. I have no intention of flirting or enticing you to do something wrong." She looked up at him with eyes bright with tears. "Please tell me you don't, that my imagination has misled me, and maybe I can move on with my life again."
Matt shut his eyes tight. He'd known this moment would come someday—that they'd speak of the allure that drew them. He hadn't dreamed it would be her telling him how she felt.
His heart pounded so hard he thought he might have an attack. "Dear Lord, Your will be done." He softly breathed the words and opened his eyes to the dreamiest ones he'd ever seen. He could only blurt out what was in his heart. "I've wanted you since the first day I saw you."
Her eyes widened, and she placed her hand to her lips. "Oh."
Shutting out the rest of the world, he stepped closer, slowly at first, and took her into his arms, ignoring the flashing red warning sign in his mind. Don't do this. He clung to her for awhile, shutting out the cool evening breeze and a night bird's chatter.
Would this be the only time he'd be close to her like this? He wanted to explain about his commitment to the priesthood and how he could never be with her, but was that possible?
The delicious aroma of peaches whirled around him. Then he could no longer resist what he knew would happen next. "Please tell me not to do this."
She closed her eyes and shook her head. "I can't."
In slow motion, he leaned nearer to her, his focus on her beautiful face. Closer, he wondered what her lips would feel like on his. Her next breath feathered his mouth and all the restraint he'd practiced for months, dissolved. He captured her lips, running his fingers through her silky hair. So soft. So delicate. The rush of emotion made his chest ache. He could no longer stay away from her than he could not breathe.
When he finally pulled away, he moaned. "I'm completely and thoroughly in love with you. I love your humility in giving your life to Jesus. I love your kindness to the kids. I love your willingness to serve others. I love— "
She laid her index finger on his lips. "I love you, too, Matt. Everything in me says I shouldn't, but I adore you." She gently kissed him then stepped a few inches away.
He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her again, drawing her so close her soft body pressed against his chest.
She inched her hand on his shoulders and explored his neck, sending fire to his belly.
Someone cleared his voice, yanking Matt back to reality, and he pulled away.
His heart plummeted. Surprisingly, he didn't feel guilt about what had happened between them. At least not yet. It just wasn't the right time to encounter Father Nicolas.
"I was out for my evening walk and was surprised to see you here with a woman." He spoke softly yet with authority. "I'm afraid I'll need you to refrain from saying mass tomorrow. Then I'll need to see you Monday morning in the rectory office at nine."
Deep within, it hadn't surprised Matt it would come to this. "Yes, Father."
If Matt's behavior was born of rebellion, he'd soon know. But if God had another plan for his life, he'd discover that, as well. "What you saw was all my doing." He stood between her and Father Nicolas. "Please don't blame Miss Graham."
Father Nicolas cleared his throat and turned back toward the path.
Though in the end, Matt prayed for the Lord to lead, something within said the journey would be more difficult than he could ever imagine.
Mary Louise Graham is a young school teacher who carried a heavy load of guilt. After Father Matt leads her to the One who can forgive her sins, she finds the godly priest means more to her than he should.
The story is inspired by the true story of my great grandfather and great grandmother.
ABOUT JUNE FOSTER
June Foster is an award-winning author who began her writing career in an RV roaming around the USA with her husband, Joe. She brags about visiting a location before it becomes the setting in her next contemporary romance or romantic suspense. June's characters find themselves in precarious circumstances where only God can offer redemption and ultimately freedom. To date, June has seen the publication of 20 novels and 1 devotional. Find June at junefoster.com.
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