Wed
May 31 2017 11:01am

Elle Keating Excerpt: Keeping His Commandments

Elle Keating

Keeping His Commandments by Elle Keating

Desire, lust, love…

You’re not supposed to feel those things for a woman, and you’re definitely not allowed to act on them when you’re a Catholic priest.  I had taken vows; vows that I’ve upheld for eight celibate years, and had made a promise to God that I swore I would never break. 

But then I met Eva, my stepmother’s estranged twenty-eight-year-old daughter, and she made me forget who I was. What I was.

I prayed for guidance.

I prayed for the strength not to give into temptation.

My prayers went unanswered…or so I thought.

Get a sneak peek at Elle Keating's Keeping His Commandments (available June 6, 2017) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.

I wasn’t a dreamer. I wasn’t inclined to see where the wind took me. I was practical. I thought logically and methodically. I asked questions and listened and then made decisions. I thought things through. But as I stood in front of the home of one David and Marcia Burke . . . Curran . . . I had to admit that there was no logical reason for me to be here other than curiosity. My Uber driver backed out of the driveway and left me gaping at my mother’s home. It wasn’t massive, but beautifully designed and taken care of . . . loved. White Christmas lights illuminated every bush that lined the sidewalk, and a gigantic wreath adorned with a wine-colored bow hung on the front door.

My stomach twisted into a ball of knots, and I looked over to see if my Uber driver was still in earshot. But he was gone. Why didn’t I bring my own car? Then I could have just jumped in my vehicle and escaped without my mother knowing that I even made this sad attempt. My hands trembled, causing the two bottles of wine to clink within the wine bag I held between my fingers . . . reminding me why I had chosen to Uber and not drive myself. I would need a few drinks if I were going to get through tonight. After what had happened at St. Bede’s Church coupled with my angst at seeing my mother again, I needed something to calm my nerves and to ward off the pressure between my legs. Telling that priest, the priest with the sexy voice who had smelled of sandalwood and soap, that I had been (and still was) a chronic masturbator had made me so aroused that I had been forced to run home and release my frustration before I could finish myself off in his confessional. I still couldn’t believe what I had done. It was a new low. It was shameful. My face grew warm as I pictured myself on my knees, kneeling under his command and touching myself. First over my yoga pants and then beneath. It was then, while my mind was in the gutter, or in that dark, suffocating confessional, that the front door swung open and I was greeted by a man who introduced himself as David.

Luckily it was freezing outside, and the wind whipped at that exact moment, giving me an excuse to why I was shaking a little and why my cheeks were red. David shook my hand and welcomed me into his home. He took my coat and introduced me to his son Nathan, who looked to be around my age. He wore jeans and an Eagles t-shirt and wheeled himself over to me. Since he wasn’t wearing a cast on his leg or a brace of some sort, I imagined that he had a condition that limited his mobility, thus his need for the wheelchair. Nathan shook my hand and smiled. His eyes sparkled as he flashed perfectly straight teeth. A woman, stunning in her own right, walked over to me and told me her name was Liz and that she was Nathan’s wife. I gave Liz a once-over and breathed a sigh of relief. Liz was dressed casually in jeans, sweater, and boots, similar to my attire.

I didn’t know why I was so nervous. Shouldn’t my anger be overriding my anxiety right now? I needed my anger. It had kept me strong all these years and sane. Why had it abandoned me . . . leaving me feeling weak and vulnerable?

Then my mother rounded the corner and stood in the entranceway to what looked like the dining room behind her. I felt my jaw drop slightly and I quickly regrouped and held my head up high. I gazed at her, taking in her appearance, the way she stood unsure of herself, her hands folded at her waist. Her hair was no longer blonde, but a sleek snowy gray bob. Her light blue eyes were not as vibrant or piercing as I remembered, but soft . . . and weathered. I didn’t remember her being shorter than me, as she had always come off as larger than life. But standing there, as she wrung her hands, she looked frail and defeated, no longer the self-righteous woman from my past.

“Evelyn . . . you look beautiful,” my mother said.

Not trashy, not slutty . . . but beautiful. She had never called me beautiful while I was growing up. My dad had told me I looked nice on the day I made my First Holy Communion, but that had been the extent of his compliments. Like my mother, he hadn’t been affectionate and rarely had he shown any interest in being more than the breadwinner of the family. He had also shared my mother’s religious views and her belief that I was the devil’s spawn, yet he was not as vocal as she was about it. He simply had chosen to ignore me most of the time. I couldn’t count how many nights he had come home from work, sat at the dinner table and engaged in conversation with my mother and never once looked at me. He had been a professor at a Catholic university and taught theology, so most of their discussions had been religious in nature or at least ended up that way. When he had died of cancer at the young age of forty-eight, I didn’t cry. Not because I had been numb with grief, but because I didn’t feel anything and I wasn’t going to pretend that I cared for a man who saw me as nothing more than a responsibility, something he was forced to take care of.

“Hi, Mom.” I wasn’t sure what one was supposed to say at a moment like this. I waited for dramatic music to start playing in the background. But no music boomed, and we were left to our own devices. I played it safe and said, “Your home is gorgeous. Thank you for inviting me.”

“My other son, Jamie, should be here any minute. Can I get you a glass of wine, Evelyn?” David asked.

“Yes, that would be great.” I handed David the two bottles of wine I had been holding. “And please call me Eva,” I said, meeting my mother’s eyes. Only my mother called me Evelyn, and that was one person too many.

While David retrieved my much-needed wine, Nathan filled the silence and told me that David was also an attorney. That was good news. I would at least be able to talk shop with my mother’s new husband and not struggle for conversation starters. Nathan’s wife was gracious, and I learned that she and Nathan were both neurosurgeons at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in the city. David returned with my wine, but my mother had disappeared somewhere, which I was thankful for. I was sipping my wine when David mentioned that he had been following my career and my latest feat, the one where I had helped convict ten archdiocesan priests. Those priests, those pedophiles, had been moved around from parish to parish, their crimes against children swept under the rug with every transfer. They were finally going to answer for crimes that had spanned decades.

“Well, this just made Thanksgiving even more interesting,” Nathan said, taking a swig from his beer bottle. David flashed him the look of death.

“Um, why is that?” I asked, intrigued.

“Because my older brother, Jamie, is a Catholic priest,” he said, chuckling. Liz playfully slapped her husband on the back and rolled her eyes.

“Don’t worry, you two will get along fine. In fact, if I hadn’t mentioned it, you probably would never have guessed he was a man of the cloth,” Nathan said with a mischievous glint in his eye.

“Yeah, why is that?” I asked, struggling not to smile. Nathan was charming, and he had an easy going way about him. There was a knock at the front door, and then without anyone answering it a man entered and let himself in. My mother came from out of nowhere and greeted the new arrival with a smile and a warm hug, a hug that didn’t look contrived, the kind that I had never received when I was a child. David excused himself and went to the man who was wearing khakis, a winter coat and carrying a case of Irish beer. The man set the case down and hugged David.

“So, does he give off a priestly vibe or one that screams pedophile on premises?” Nathan asked me. Again, Liz smacked him, this time on the back of his head. Nathan chuckled and then wheeled himself over to his brother.

Jamie Curran did give off a vibe, but it wasn’t a devout one. I watched his fingers slowly unzip his North Face jacket only to find him wearing the same t-shirt as his dad and brother. His muscular forearms and tight ass must have distracted me, because why else would I have missed it?

Khakis. Eagles t-shirt. Priest.

My mother latched onto Jamie’s arm and pulled him over to me. “Jamie, this is my daughter, Evelyn . . . I mean, Eva.”

Jamie looked at me beneath excruciatingly long lashes and extended his hand. “Nice to meet you, Eva. We’re so happy you could come tonight.”

That voice. It couldn’t be . . . it just . . . no.

A rush of heat flooded my core.

Shit.

There was only one way to find out for sure, and I couldn’t go the whole night without speaking. I shook his hand. “Nice to meet you, Father.”

His lips parted and he drew in a quick breath. He released my hand and forced a smile, one that didn’t reach his dark blue eyes.

He knows.

“Please call me Jamie. You’re my stepsister, after all.” 

***
Copyright © 2017 by Elle Keating.
***
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Elle Keating is a New Jersey native where she still resides with her husband and three children. Elle didn't always dream of being a writer. Back when she worked as a Catholic school principal, writing stories that would cause her mother to blush profusely and place her hand over her heart was the furthest thing from her mind.

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