Every week in Friday Free Web Fiction I post a first draft scene from my work in progress (WIP), or a short story, or an excerpt from one of my books. Today’s offering is from my Prunella Smith WIP, Past Worlds, The Lock Smith’s Secret.
Singing floats in through the window. I look towards it. Sunlight streams through the small portal placed high on the stone wall of my room. It falls in a golden pool on the floor beside where I kneel. The song comes again, and the rich, male voice sends vibrations through me—both body and soul. I take a deep breath, fix my eyes on my Lord on his cross on the wall and return to my prayer.
The song stops and metal hits dirt. He must be digging, I think, and an image of him working in the garden comes to mind. I slap myself, and curse wordlessly. Did they hire a handsome gardener just to test us? Why couldn’t they have found someone old and ugly, like the sisters who don’t seem to notice his existence? Surely it is not only I that feel his presence. Perhaps the other sisters hide their temptation better than I.
‘Better than I?’ I’m mortified that perhaps I do not hide it well.
I return to my prayer, and he returns to his singing. His voice distracts me. Perhaps I should ask Reverend Mother to request him not to sing. No sooner has the thought formed than I realise how ridiculous it is. Not only would I be exposing my weakness, but also he’s singing hymns. What could possibly be wrong with that? And his voice is beautiful. So beautiful.
I stand and tuck my rosary into my pocket. It’s nearly the end of the session anyway, and I’m only eighteen. God would not deny me a little peek. I lift my stool, being careful not to make a sound, and place it beneath the window. A quick guilty glance at the window in my door confirms that no one watches me through it. Only my conscience watches. And my God. But he is kind and loving—and wrathful, a small voice reminds me. I’m only eighteen I remind that voice, and this is nothing more than a natural curiosity.
I grasp the sides of my habit, hitch it up and step up onto the stool where I teeter for a moment before finding my balance. My fingers find the window sill and I stand on tip toes to raise my head high enough to see. Him. My breath hitches in my throat. It’s warm today and he wears no shirt. His muscled torso glistens in the sunshine. My heart takes off in a sprint, and my hand flies to my chest. I turn and press my back against the cool stone wall, waiting for the palpitations to subside. I should step down. I tell myself to step down, but I don’t. I know I’ll have one more peek. I want to look at his face again.
The bell rings, signalling the end of prayers. My heart jumps, fearful of discovery. I turn quickly back to the window and discover him pulling on his shirt in deference to the women who may see him now that the bell calls them to duties other than prayer. A sadness enters me, a sadness that compounds my guilt. I should be pleased that he’s removed that temptation.
Doors open and footsteps sound in the corridor. I feast my eyes on his Grecian nose, his dark hair flopping across his forehead, his strong chin and soft eyes intent on his work, then I jump lightly to the floor, return my stool to its spot in front of my desk and quickly say my final prayers.
How can this be wrong when Jesus wears his face in my dreams?
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