It was a bright sunny Sunday morning when she arrived at the church. Mass had just finished and Father O’Reilly was talking to the parishioners as they filed out of the church. He looked very distinguished and stately in the green robe.
She would always be grateful to him because it was on account of his kindness that she was here in Cape Town, at this parish. In exchange for his charity, she was to be the house-keeper at the clergy house where he lived.
She stood there and waited until they were alone before she approached him, nervous carrying all that she had in a worn suitcase. He turned towards her and smiled. He was the youngest priest she had ever met and the most attractive. She quickly chided herself for that thought.
“Hello, Father O’Reilly.”
“Hello, Zendaya. It’s good to see you. You must be tired after the bus ride from Johannesburg. Allow me to take your suitcase.”
She gave it to him, thankful to be relieved of it. “I’m not tired,” she told him. “I slept most of the way and then for the rest of the time, I read the book you lent to Father Botha which he gave me to return to you.”
“Yes. I didn’t know that they wore kilts in Ireland.”
“Although kilts are usually associated with Scotland, they are also a part of the Irish culture. Both countries see the kilt as a symbol of pride and a celebration of their Celtic heritage.”
“Are there any differences?”
“There are some differences, yes but the major one is the tartan. The Scots wear tartans which represent Scottish clans. Each Scottish family has their own tartan which is distinguished by their surname. The Irish tartans represent the districts and counties of Ireland. So, if you are from Cork, you would wear a kilt made with the Cork County Tartan.”
“Do you mind if I kept the book? I’d like to continue reading it.”
“Keep it by all means. I have other books you might be interested in reading as well.”
He took her first to her room where he left the suitcase and then he took her to the parish to meet the Sisters and then to the rectory where he lived. As he showed her around, he explained to her what her duties were. Afterwards, he took her back to her room to settle in and left her to return to the office where he spent a few hours before making his rounds visiting the shut-ins.
Life at the parish was peaceful. She soon settled in and got into a routine. The nuns were very friendly and helpful. Father O’Reilly was busy most of the time but some times he would have his dinner in the kitchen with her. They talked about religious matters and the books she was reading in her spare time. Most Sundays, he was away from the parish after Mass and didn’t return until late afternoon or early evening. Parishioners invited him to have lunch or dinner with them.
She liked being at the parish and rectory. When she wasn’t cooking or cleaning or doing her other chores, she would find a quiet place in the garden and read a book or the Bible or she would go for walks. It was paradise compared to where she had come from. No more struggling to survive or looking for handouts or worrying about her future. She was in a much better place now–for the time being.
It began subtly at first but she began to notice that Father O’Reilly’s behavior towards her had changed. At first it seemed like he was distant and not as easy-going as before and there were times when she felt that he was avoiding her. His behavior puzzled her and she tried to figure out what was the cause. As far as she knew she was doing a great job taking care of the rectory and him. She and the nuns got along well. So, for the life of her, she couldn’t understand why Father O’Reilly was acting the way he was toward her.
Many times she wondered if she should ask him about it. On one occasion she went to his office to see him but when she stood outside of the closed door about to knock, her resolve left her and she went away.
One night when she was standing at the window looking out, there was a knock on the door. She went to answer it and was surprised to see Father O’Reilly standing there. “Father, is something the matter?” she asked.
“May I come in?” he asked.
It felt strange having him in her room but she nodded, stepping aside for him to go in. After she closed the door, she turned to face him. He was staring at her with a tense expression on his face. Perhaps now he would tell her what she had done to cause him to change towards her. Heart pounding, she waited for him to say something.
“I’ve tried to fight it, but it’s no use.”
“Fight what?” she asked, confused.
“Many times I wanted to come here but I dared not to but tonight, I couldn’t stay away.”
“Father…” His expression had changed and what she saw on his face made her tremble. It couldn’t be…she thought, but it was. She had seen it enough times on Anesu’s face to recognize it. But the desire which was on Father O’Reilly’s face and in his eyes was raw and palpable and it stirred something deep inside her which was new to her. It was so intense that it took her breath away. She leaned against the door as if she needed the support because her legs were trembling.
He moved closer to her and his eyes were dark and stormy as they met her wide ones. “Now I know what it means to burn with desire,” he muttered thickly.
She swallowed hard, her breath quickening. Was she dreaming or something? “Father…” she protested weakly.
“Call me Cian.”
She watched, transfixed as he leaned over. He was going to kiss her. The realization shocked her yet, she didn’t move or turn her head away. She watched as his lips got closer and closer and then they were on hers. Her body felt like it had just received an electric bolt. Heat spread through it, settling in the pit of her stomach and between her legs. Now she too knew now what it was like to burn with desire. She could feel its heat coursing through every part of her body. Her hands which were hanging at her sides wound themselves around his neck as she responded to his hungry kisses.
This was madness, she thought but she seemed powerless to stop what was happening. Desire held her firmly in its iron grip and would not let her go until it was satisfied. She felt him lift her off the floor and automatically, she wrapped her legs about him as they continued to kiss wildly, unreservedly as passion consumed them.
Still kissing, he swung around so that he was facing the bed and she the door. He carried her over to the bed and set her down beside it. Breaking off the kiss, his breath harsh and unsteady and his face flushed, he quickly disrobed. When he was standing there buck naked, he stripped her. Then, he pulled her roughly against him and his mouth sought hers. She moaned when she felt his arousal pressing into her stomach and her knees gave way.
He pushed her down onto the bed and as she lay there panting, he covered her body with urgent, hungry kisses. At length, he raised himself so that he could gaze down at her, his chest heaving. “Do you want me inside you?” he asked in between raspy breaths.
“Yes,” she gasped. It was only thing she wanted at that moment.
“Open your legs.”
She opened them as wide as she could and he moved between them. His hands grasped them, his fingers digging into the flesh and she cried out when he entered her, her fingers gripping his bulging arms as he began to move his hips slowly at first and then faster.
It had begun to rain. It fell in torrents and it beat heavily and relentlessly against the window as if it wanted to break in. Thunder clapped after the sky was ablaze with the lightning. There was a storm without and a storm within. Zendaya closed her eyes and gave herself completely to the man who had awakened passions she had no idea existed inside her. How could something which was wrong, sinful, feel so good?
She tried not to think about Anesu or about God. She would have plenty of time to do that afterwards when she was alone in her room. She didn’t want to feel guilty or sorry for what she was doing. All she wanted was to enjoy it–enjoy him. She wrapped her legs around him and clung to him as the lovemaking became more intense…
The loud clap of thunder jolted her awake and she sat up, heart racing. Then, she realized that it she had fallen asleep on the exercise mat and it was raining outside. October was Dublin’s rainiest month. She had no idea how long she had been asleep. The last thing she remembered was coming in here to do some stretches.
Just then, Cian walked in. “You’re awake.”
“How long was I sleeping for?”
“About two hours.”
“That long. Wow. The thunder woke me up. Did it wake the baby?”
“Yes, it did but I managed to calm him down and get him to go back to sleep.”
She stifled a yawn. “He’ll be up again soon for his feeding.”
“Yes. When I came in here you were fast asleep.”
Motioning to him to join her on the mat, she said, “I was dreaming about the first time you came to my room at the parish.”
He sat down beside her. “That seems like such a long time ago. I was a selfish brute then, wasn’t I? I wanted you so much, I didn’t even consider your feelings and I couldn’t blame you for hating me.”
“I never hated you but I hated myself for what I was doing to Anesu. I was engaged to him and sleeping with you. I can’t imagine what a shock it must have been when he found out that you and I got married.”
“How did he find out? Did you get in touch with him?”
“No. I doubt that he would ever want to hear from me again. When I last spoke to Father Botha he mentioned that he told Anesu last year July when he visited him and his uncle in Cape St. Francis.”
“I was jealous of him but now I feel sorry for him. I know how he feels. I felt the same way when you left the parish and I thought that I would never see or hear from you again.”
“I never meant to hurt Anesu nor cause you any pain. I couldn’t marry him because of you and I couldn’t stay with you because of the church.”
“Well, thank God that there isn’t anything or anyone standing between us now.”
She smiled. “Yes. And you’re right our time at the parish seems like such a long time ago. Our lives are here in Dublin.”
“Yes. When I left Ireland to be a parish priest in Cape Town, I never imagined that I would meet and fall in love with a young woman half my age but God works in mysterious ways.”
“Yes. He does.” She held his face between her hands and kissed him. Never in her wildest dreams did she ever imagine that she would fall in love with a priest and marry him once he left the priesthood.