Quiet footfalls traced a path up the steps from the downstairs sitting room, along the abbreviated hallway, and into the Vicar's bedroom. The nearer to the bed they got, the more softly they fell.
Slowly becoming aware of the intruder, he struggled to gather the remnants of his composure. He felt movement on his bed. The vicar sat up violently, tears still wetting his face. He fumbled for the candle on the small table next to the bed. And although only seconds had passed, the vicar felt the dread of one expecting to meet death before the next breath. His hand quaked and he knocked the candle on the floor.
Fingers lightly brushed his arm. He heard himself shout, "No. Not yet.” He held his breath, now afraid exhaling would be the signal, and waited for the end.
The hand on his arm patted him too softly for it to belong to Blutleer. Willington still held his breath. Slowly, he started to black out.
Mary timidly called, "Peter?”
The vicar sucked air noisily. “My God, Mary, you frightened me beyond words.”
“I'm sorry if I did. I felt so alone and heard you moving about. I thought maybe we could talk, or something ...”
The vicar kicked off the blanket and swung his legs over the side of the bed as he moved to get the candle from the floor. Before he finished he felt a tug on his nightshirt.
“Do we need candlelight?” Mary whispered. “Isn't the moon's light enough, Peter?”
The vicar turned to her, reached out, and touched her warmth. Mary had worn a light cotton nightgown. He watched her rise from the bed, walk to the window and he gasped as she opened the curtain. The moonlight silhouetted her, penetrated the gown, and illuminated a shadow within its embrace. As she walked to him, the gown both hid and revealed her youthful figure.
“Please, Mary. You don't understand what you're doing.” His words sounded feeble, and he knew it.
Mary did not immediately respond. She continued to walk to him and stopped when she stood very close, knees touching his knees. Her hands found the edge of her nightdress and very slowly began lifting.
“No,” The vicar said, weakly and too late. His eyes took control and coaxed the rest of him to follow their lead. He felt his heart rate increase. His breathing became shallow. No longer resisting, his hands reached for her as the nightgown cleared her shoulders. His fingers moved and traced the lines of her collarbones then down gently etching her sensitive flesh.
“I want to lay with you.” Mary's words slid out to caress him. She lifted the cotton sheath over her head and reached to drop it on the mattress. The night air shimmered on her flesh with a gentleness that matched Willington's touch.
His stare followed her hand as she let the gown fall on the bed and lifted both slender arms overhead. His eyes, fully accustomed to the darkness, examined all the details her movement brought to his attention, the swell of her round breasts, her hips, and the flatness of her stomach and the vee tuft of red hair between her thighs. His hands slid down from her breasts to her hips. Her skin was warm responsive silk.
He groaned as a light caught his eyes.
The gold medallion he had hung on the doorknob sparkled with illumination that seemed to spring from within the Willington coat of arms. He stared, transfixed, as the illumination concentrated into a thin beam, shot across the room, and bounced off the crucifix he had hung above the bed. The thin ray lit only the head of his Savior. Looking over his shoulder, the vicar ignored Mary.
The Messiah cried red tears.
“Oh, good Lord. No.” The vicar pushed Mary from him, his hands on her breasts. “I can't do this now. God help me, I can't.” He looked at her and back at the cross. The light had expanded and he saw the droplets run down the tiny body. They dripped from the crossed feet onto the headboard, and then splashed against his pillow.