It’s the Romance Blogfest! The official post should immediately follow this one.
For the Romance Blogfest, I knew exactly what scene I wanted to share: the original opening scene from the manuscript I’m now calling Saints and Spies. This is now my fifth published novel, Saints & Spies!
This is kind of a deleted scene: I decided it would be better from the heroine’s POV. Now it’s the third scene of the manuscript. You can see how it’s changed in the excerpt from the award-winning first chapter (it’s now the third scene).
Please note this is basically an unedited rough draft! And I’m resisting the urge to polish it. *tic*tic*tic*
Zach took a deep breath of the musty air of the small church. It was nothing like the chapels he was used to, of course, but he had act like this was his new home.
“Father?” A woman’s voice came from behind him. Dublin accent. Zach closed his eyes for a moment, briefly reveling in the once-familiar sound, before realizing she was addressing him.
“Yes, my child?” He turned around and found the most beautiful Irish woman he’d ever seen—and that was saying a lot, considering he’d lived in Ireland for two years.
As if they knew exactly how to tempt him.
“You’re Father O’Leary?” She raised her eyebrows in surprise, and her expression showed off her deep blue eyes.
“Oh, but you’re so . . . young.”
Zach smiled sheepishly. “Some of us heed the call earlier than others.” He tried to keep his expression unchanged as he scrambled to remember how long seminary was supposed to last.
Four years after college. So at twenty-eight, he was not only a menace to society but also old enough to be a Catholic priest. Of course, he’d only spent two weeks in seminary. Unless you counted four years of early morning seminary in high school.
Somehow, he didn’t think that would count for this parishioner. “And what was your name?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, how silly of me. I’m Molly.”
“Pleased to meet you, Molly.” Zach offered her a hand and she shook it. This would probably be easier than the mission. After all, as a priest, he could still hug members of the opposite sex.
Then again, that might not be any easier. And he’d been home from the mission for seven years. This mission might well be completely different.
“Now, Molly, is there something I can help you with?”
Molly laughed and Zach couldn’t help but smile in return. “I believe I should be askin’ you that—I’m the parish secretary.”
“Oh, good—I guess this is all a little new to me still.” Understatement of the year, at least.
That was probably enough of the commentary on how weird it was to be a Mormon—and an FBI agent—posing as a Catholic priest. If all he could do was think about how funny this really was, he was never going to take this mission seriously.
“Well, what would you like to see first?”
Zach glanced at the suitcase at his feet. “I suppose the rectory would be a good place to start—there is a rectory, right?”
“There is.” She smiled again, but her smile quickly faded as if she were suddenly self-conscious. Zach realized he was returning her smile with perhaps a bit too much charm. He wasn’t supposed to be flirting with her, no matter how pretty she was. He was a Catholic priest now.
And he wasn’t Zach Saint, either. He was Father Tim O’Leary. For now.
“Have you spoken with Father Fitzgerald yet?” Molly asked as she led Zach to the rectory.
“No, I’d only just gotten here when you found me.”
“We’ll introduce you.”
Molly opened the front door to the rectory—unlocked, naturally—and admitted Zach. The living area wasn’t much, but it was better than any apartment he’d had on the mission.
“Be sure to let me know what you’ll be wantin’ for your meals.”
Zach turned back to Molly, one eyebrow raised. “Oh, are you the cook, too?” He belatedly turned down the level of flirtatiousness in his smile.
“Well, in a manner of speakin’.”
“Is that really in your job description?”
Molly shrugged. “Father Patrick says—said,” she corrected herself, glancing down a moment as if to memorialize the slain priest, “that it was more important that he and Father Fitzgerald tend to their ministries than spend their time cookin’ and cleanin’.”
“You clean the rectory, too?”
She smiled shyly and looked away.
“Molly, you won’t—you don’t need to do that for us. For me, anyway.”
She nodded and changed the subject. “Father Fitzgerald’s mobile phone number is by the phone.” She pointed to the kitchen wall where the telephone hung. “And the desk number. Just call me if you’ll be needin’ anythin’.”
“That I will.” Zach glanced back at her, but she was already gone.
Focus. It wasn’t like he’d never had to work with a pretty girl on a mission.
Granted, he’d never had to work with a pretty Irish girl.
Read the rest of the Romance Blogfest entries!