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Chapter 18: Judas Choice

Michael groaned as he awoke and shifted position. Stumbling from the bed, he noticed that Daniel had moved from the floor where he had started. He surmised that the floor must have proved too much for him. Picking up his shirt, he tried to shake out the creases, but to no avail and he was in desperate need for a shower. He knew Cayne wouldn’t mind, but it seemed to be too intimate a request when they had barely known each other a week. Besides he needed a change of clothes and his suitcase was not with him.

Pulling on his shirt, he observed the room. He could see how different Mary and Cayne were, just by the variation in the two bedrooms. While Cayne’s was minimal with very little in a way of stuff, Mary’s was filled with glitter and pinks. Her bed was filled with fluffed up pillows that declared themselves to be sexy. Also a large mirror dominated one corner of the room that was strewn with silk scarves and photos covered the glass leaving not much room to see any reflection.

Mary’s life, it seemed, was full and this was her refuge and home, yet, in contrast, Cayne almost seemed to be merely stopping by. There was a sadness looking around the room now. The girl seemed to be still alive in there, but, now, that was the only place Mary would ever be found. Looking out from fading pictures as a reminder to those who knew her what sort of girl she had been.

As he stepped from the bedroom, he spied Cayne, sat curled up on the sofa, and he could see by the redness of her eyes there were tears. Sighing, he walked past to the kitchen. He needed coffee before he could deal with a crying girl.

‘Where’s Daniel?’ he asked.

‘Dunno, he wasn’t here when I got up,’ she sniffed.

As the kettle boiled, he pulled two cups from the hooks and started to spoon coffee granules into them as he poured the hot water inside. Taking the now steaming cups, he placed one in front of her and she grabbed it with two hands.

‘I’m scared,’ she said.

Michael swallowed a mouthful of coffee allowing the heat to burn his tongue. He prayed that the caffeine would work quickly. He was desperate for a smoke, and there was no way Cayne was going to let him go so easily.

‘Do you trust us?’ She nodded. ‘Well then, there is no need for you to be scared. I swear if it’s the last thing I do, I will keep you safe.’

Cayne placed the untouched coffee onto the table and sitting on the edge of the sofa she looked him in the eye.

‘I trust you, but Daniel...’

Michael understood where this new fear was coming from and felt sympathy for her. It was there in her eyes. She was desperate for someone to save her and it was not him that she wanted. But he needed to steer away from such ideas and affections. There was no way he could allow her to have what was wanted.

‘Cayne, it’s common for someone to develop a form of attachment to a so-called saviour and that’s what Daniel is to you. But you must remember who Daniel is. His commitment is to the Church and God.’

Michael felt his insides turn as he saw hope fill her eyes and he realised he was about to regret his choice of words.

‘But what does that mean now?’ she asked. ‘Your god no longer exists. Your lives are committed to either myself or Joshua.’

Michael took another sip of coffee to hide his reaction to her point. If he had not been here he would never have believed how quickly Cayne was changing right before them. Even through moments of insecurities he saw how self-assured she was becoming. Her aura and inner power was strengthening, no longer the frightened woman he'd first met. Even her speech was becoming more eloquent and he wondered if that was anything to do with the Being inside her.

‘Come on Cayne, you know it is not that simple.’

‘Yes it is,’ Cayne pushed, excitement filling her face as it dawned on her how strong her case was. ‘That man you wear on your cross is no longer a god. I am the one you should be on your knees to.’

Michael’s breath caught. His body stiffened ready for attack, but her eyes remained brown. The temperature in the room normal and that was something to be grateful for, but still he had been caught out before.

‘Jesus was crucified for trying to change people’s ideals. Do you really think times have changed that much that you will have better luck? The reality is that no one will bend a knee to you and call you Messiah.’

‘But they would if it were Joshua?’

Michael got to his feet in frustration. ‘For crying out loud you’re starting to sound like a stuck record, Cayne. What do you want me to say that yes, Joshua is the ideal messiah? Okay I will. The Church I represent will never accept you as our god.’

‘So why have you been here fucking up my life?’ Cayne screamed.

Michael grabbed at her arms before they hit him and using all the strength he had, wrapped her in a bear hug. Her body shuddered violently against his own and he could feel her anger and frustration, but it was her own, nothing to do with any other power. This was the pent-up emotion she had stored in herself and now with the realisation that she was not going to get what she wanted from this had given up. All he could do was whisper into her hair that she was going to alright.

‘Messiah or not, I swear on the blood that pumps through my veins that I will do all it takes to protect you.’

'Why would you do that? I am nothing to you,' Cayne sobbed.

Michael sighed. 'Because, Cayne, sweetheart, for some reason we are all in this together.'

Daniel lay face down upon the cold stone floor, allowing the chill of the old church to savage his body in its own self-punishment. He left Cayne’s earlier that morning while they slept, in desperate need for the comfort of something familiar. The church’s sun-filled windows greeted him with warm open arms like a mother embracing her prodigal son.

Upon the walls there were aged oil paintings depicting the Stations of the Cross, but it was the last one that had caught his attention. There within the cracks of the painted wood, he could see the Mother Mary with his dead saviour in her arms and at her side was the grief stricken Magdalene. He had seen this image a thousand times, but never before did it feel so significant and dread had filled his uneasy stomach. He decided, as he looked at the image, that he hated it. The whole aspect of it angered him. No, not angered, made him furious. It took all he had not to rip if from the wall and destroy it. He had no idea where the anger came from, but his stress levels were high.

Now, spread-eagled, he prayed for answers and for them to come quick. He needed to be released from the pain inside. A pain he did not understand. His need to be with Cayne was so strong that he nearly turned his back from the Church. Maybe Ben was right and he was a danger to Cayne, as well as to himself. He had nothing really to offer her either way. He was not a strong enough priest to help guide her and he definitely was not a strong enough man to take her away from everything and give her whatever she needed.

He tried to think back to his teens. Had there been any girl that had made him feel this way? He could only think of one, who was a mere crush. He had been fourteen and she a year older him. She had taken him by the hand during one lunch hour and led him to a quiet part of the sports field. Her name was Joanna and he clearly remembered that her auburn hair was always tied in red scrunchie that matched her school skirt and blazer.

He idolised her from the moment he saw her. She lived a few doors away and always ran to help carry her books to the bus stop. The older boys would always mock him, especially the clothes he wore. He never dressed like a pauper, but his uniform was crisp and clean, and always worn correctly, unlike others who soon wore their ties halfway down their neck. He was never any good at sports and more comfortable inside the library then sitting out on the sports field playing games. That was his problem, he did not act as other boys did, but that day had been different.

She had sat beside him in the library and showed an interest in the book he was reading. She told him how much she liked him, but was afraid she was not good enough. For him, all his prayers had been answered and when she took him by the hand, he willingly let her lead him to the sports field. There, she let him touch her breasts while they kissed, but had been nothing but an awkward fumble, because he knew no better at fourteen. Her mouth had been the first tasted and that was exactly what she had told the whole school. They mocked him and in response he swore never to let anyone in ever again.

Even at seventeen, on a date with a girl he had met at college. They had gone to the cinema and shared popcorn and for once he felt comfortable. He even held her hand as she flinched at each scary scene. But soon it was time to take her home and when she had not got out of his car, the nervousness returned.

She had placed her mouth on his and he could still remember the taste of strawberry lip-gloss. Her tongue had played with his and slowly he felt her hand move from his knee to his crotch. It was then he froze. He had given apologies and she had responded by getting out of the car and slamming the door. The following days at college he arrived to a barrage of rumours about his sexuality and when Father John had offered him a place in Rome he had taken it. At least there he would not have to worry about sexuality ever again. That was until now. Now those feelings had returned, but with them the fear of not being good enough. He could not do it to himself again. This time would be too much to bear, he just knew it.

Now there was Cayne and it seemed she was crashing through every barrier and brick wall he had spent years building. There was so much comfort for him in his life within the Church and, yes, he knew was merely hiding away, but where was the harm? He served God and served Him well and that was all that was important. Being a virgin at his age wasn't so bad. He would never miss something he never truly had anyway. There was only one thing for him to do and that was the contact the only person who would be able to help him. A person he should have rung days ago. He pushed himself onto his knees and then his feet. Kissing his rosaries, he crossed himself. He had made his mind up. The decision was made.

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