“Is she a believer?”
“I’m trying. Faith has been a little shaky the last year. I want to believe, I need to believe. I need—something more. I’m not explaining very well.”
“On the contrary, you’re explaining extremely well. For me it was the calling to Holy Orders. I was married myself, had a couple kids. One day, I woke up and knew it wasn’t for me. It wasn’t what I was meant to do. I left and never went back. Cowardly of me, I know. I owed her an explanation, but I didn’t have the strength. By the time I did, it was really too late.”
“So, you’ll do this?”
“Yes, Mr. Scott. I’ll do this. Have Ms. Geraci at the hotel near the docks, the one her family owns, and I’ll be there at five o’clock. My evening service is at eight, but we’ll be done well before then.”
“Thank you, Father!” He shook the older man’s hands with both of his. “Thank you. Can I give you something for your time?”
“There’s one thing I need from you, son.”
“Don’t be too quick to promise. I’ll tell you after I’m done.”
Kyle thought it was a little strange, but he wasn’t going to argue. Grinning, wanting to dance and sing, he gathered up his family and took them sightseeing. Vera called the ship and gave Thad West the good news. He promised to have Emily at the hotel before four.
Riding an adrenaline high, Kyle couldn’t remember anything he saw in Cozumel. He was itching to get back to the ship to see Emily, but wasn’t about to break his promise to his children.
At 4:30, the company rep dropped Kyle at the hotel while Carmelita took the children back to the ship. He waited impatiently for the priest to arrive. When he did, Kyle took him up to her penthouse suite. The living room overlooked the ocean. He could see the ship in the harbor.
Emily was sitting in a recliner gazing out across the water. She had her prayer book and rosary with her. Soft music played quietly in the background. Kyle recognized it as Handel’s Messiah. He pulled a chair up next to her, taking her hand.
“You did this for me?”
“With Thad’s help, yes.”
“Why? You hardly know me.”
He kissed her tenderly, taking her fingers to his lips. “Isn’t it obvious?” His eyes held hers a long time.
There was a soft tap at the door. Thad West answered, greeting the men quietly. Kyle rose, smiling as he made the introductions.
“Forgive me for not getting up,” Emily said softly. “Thaddeus insisted that I remain in my chair.”
“Not a problem,” Father Michael said with a grin. “Pablo, I need the lady’s hands and feet uncovered. Mr. Scott, if you’d assist?”
“Sure.” He and the man he’d met at the mission helped Emily remove her shoes.
“There is a short service, a few scriptures read. Are you Catholic?” he asked Emily.
“Yes. Born and raised in the Church.”
“Excellent. Then I need not explain about the importance of the Host?”
“No. Father, may I have a moment for Confession?”
“Certainly, my dear. I anticipated the need. Pablo.” His assistant brought his purple stole, placing it around his shoulders. “Gentlemen, if you will.” He invited them to leave in no uncertain terms.
The three of them stepped into the study, closing the door behind them. Thaddeus offered them each a drink. None of them took alcohol, opting for Coca-Cola instead. Kyle was on edge. Something about Father Michael was familiar. He couldn’t place it, but there was a distinct vibe when the other man was around. Part of that, he knew, was power. This priest was decidedly a conduit for God’s healing. He had met a few people in his life who had spiritual gifts, and this man was stronger than any of them. Kyle knew that Father Michael could help Emily. But there was something else, an underlying, nebulous tingle he couldn’t identify.
They came back in after Emily’s confession and gathered around as Fr. Michael assigned each of them a scripture to read. The service itself was short, followed by Communion. Dr. West wasn’t Catholic, but Kyle and Emily were. Fr. Michael blessed the Host, placing it on their tongues. Afterwards, he began the Anointing of the Sick. It was a special sacrament that Kyle had never seen performed before.
© Dellani Oakes