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Sweetest Sin

By´╝ÜSosie Frost

Chapter One – Honor


“Forgive me, Father…we can’t do this anymore.”

The silence that followed bound me to my forbidden confession.

Was speaking it aloud a sin?

Was it any worse than letting the desire poison my body and my mind?

I whispered the damning truth in the sanctity of the confessional, but I wasn’t sure I deserved absolution.

My fantasies of this man burned me in hellfire. Every minute I stole with him tore me further from grace.

What I was doing here?

And how could I admit these sins?

When I was younger, I hated confession and the tiny wooden room where we revealed the worst parts of us. Now that I was older, I feared it.

The sweet cedar and sandalwood incense teased within the confessional. It smelled of him, and it dizzied me with indecision.

And shame.

I should have confessed for buying the sandalwood-scented candle too. I lit it at night, once. Not for prayer or meditation, but because the secret flame perfumed my room. Like it was him. Like he was there. But those thoughts were dangerous, and I’d snuffed out the flame before the scent twisted from sweet, honeyed sandalwood into sulfur and brimstone.

I’d reveal that transgression. I had no choice. If the Lord acted in mysterious ways, the devil wouldn’t miss a chance to make an example out of a sinner.

But I wasn’t a martyr. I wasn’t even a good Catholic.

I was lost, and I knew why.

Him.

“Father Rafe, I…”

I regretted using his nickname. It didn’t matter if I was more comfortable speaking it. I’d already corrupted the confession. Why desecrate it further with such informality? Especially since my secret would crack the very foundation of St. Cecilia’s church.

I desired a priest, a holy man of God.

And I knew what type of woman that made me.

I started again, and the words tumbled from my lips. Quickly. As if I raced the apocalyptic crash of horses’ hooves to cleanse my soul before it was too late.

“Father Raphael, we have to stop this.”

“You wish to stop your confession?”

His voice had the power to roll through the church’s nave—a rumbling command that ruled with authority over the congregation. Tonight, he whispered in the darkest shadows of the quietest sanctuary so only I could hear. His words smothered me like thick honey, just as sweet or inescapable as he desired.

I shivered at the sound of his voice.

Did he know? Could he tell?

Father Raphael was a man as patient as he was wicked—or maybe he was that good, and I was the one tormented? He wielded silence as a weapon and baited me with the warmth of his words. I never should have recognized the heat which shadowed his whispered questions.

“What must we stop, Honor?”

“Everything.”

“You’ve done nothing wrong.”

I didn’t believe that, but was I supposed to correct a priest? “What we’ve done isn’t…right.”

“There is no sin in a friendship with a priest.”

“Is it a friendship?”

“I hope it is. Do you regret this past month within our parish?”

Yes?

No.

It was hard enough uprooting my life and transferring colleges. I left most of my credits behind to return home and help Mom, but things were so different now. Even the church, the one constant force from my childhood, had changed. St. Cecilia’s was served by a new priest, Father Raphael St. Lucian, and he was nothing like the old, grey, half-deaf Father Falconi who had tended our flock for the past thirty years.

It was once so easy to take comfort in the warmth of the church.

Now, it was far easier to find that comfort with Father Raphael.

I started again, trying to justify the unforgivable to myself. “Father, I respect the Catholic faith.”

This amused him. “As do I.”

“I follow the tenants.”

“And I live my life by them.”

“Then you understand why this has to stop, Father.”

Father Raphael remained silent, unmoving. Almost otherworldly. He was a confident man, without flinching or awkwardness. It was like he mimicked the statues of the saints crafted in solid marble throughout the parish grounds. He didn’t fidget or duck his head unless it was a bow before the crucifix or altar. And he never averted his gaze from anyone. Even through the screen, I shuddered under the weight of his stare.

Maybe I was imagining things. Maybe I read too much into the conversations we had and the times me met within a quiet, empty church.

But could I risk my soul?

“I should go,” I whispered. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Prayer is from the heart, Honor.”

“Not this prayer. I’ve already taken too much of your time—”

“You will stay, and I will hear your confession. Time with you is not wasted.”

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