It is summer in Rathcreek, hot as hell, and Reverend Logan Churlick is waiting for shunned parishioner Janey Crownhart Powers to arrive for her counseling session…
The thought of Janey left him vaguely uneasy, but he dismissed the feeling. In that one moment of clarity, that split second when everything crystallized into understanding, he chose to understand nothing but her. It was as if mind and monstrous conscience had sunk far beneath the surface of the amber water of the warped images. There was a time he might have seen things for what they were. But not for a long time now.
He recalled Janey’s smell, an odor deliciously fresh, virtue mingled with the delicate acrid scent of perspiration, so sultry and challenging it made his mouth water. Each time she moved, her fragrance, warm and rich from the curves and hollows of her body, infused him with agony. Sometimes he would massage her — ah, the subtle rising and falling of her breasts when he kneaded her shoulders. Her skin, so cool and firm, her muscles, at first so taut, would give in, finally submitting.
Then there was the smile, radiant, holding nothing back. Chased by the glimmering laugh. The wry hazel eyes, incredibly alive eyes, so unlike Dolores’. He pictured his wife’s faded blues, bleak with fear, empty. She always tried to hang him with those eyes.
In the beginning, he had rescued Dolores, like a knight, and that was enough. In the rescuing, something grew animated in him. But, eventually, the feeling turned into resentment at what he could have had. Her insipid giggle, the docile, imitative, dull conversations. His emptiness was fed by the knowledge that life without Dolores could have been a splendor.
His throat tightened and pulse jumped at the quick rapping at the outside door. He exhaled a low, nervous chuckle at his rubbery knees. The quick tapping again. Logan took a deep breath, breathing in a new world of possibility, a new existence. Now, splendor was before him.
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