Identity Series Book 2: I Am Sarah

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Chapter 29

“No, Sarah!”

“Please? For me?”

Erik turned a withering glare on me. “Don’t you dare do that,” he growled. “I said no, and I meant it.”

“Do what?”

“Try to make me feel guilty about this. I have to listen to those damn bells, but I do not have to subject myself to an hour or more of listening to someone preach about a God I can’t believe in!”

“Erik…”

“Just go, Sarah. I’ll be here when you get back.” He sighed and walked to the front door and held it open for me.

I was already in a bad mood since I’d had maybe four hours of sleep the night before. I frowned and finished pulling on my glove, irritated that he wouldn’t talk about this. I had asked him to come to Mass with me again, sure that this time, since we were talking again, he would agree, but I was horribly wrong.

“I’m not going,” was all he’d said after I’d brought it up over breakfast.

“Why not?”

“Because if there is a God, he’s a vindictive, spiteful, uncaring bastard.”

I had been shocked, and my mouth had fallen open. “You shouldn’t say things like that.”

“Why not? If he’s really up there, controlling what happens down here, that means he took everything from me! My childhood, my mother, Doctor Clark! He let MacCarthy hurt you!” He’d taken a deep breath and closed his eyes. When he spoke again, his words had been soft, but forced. “I’d rather believe he doesn’t exist than believe that he’s so evil.”

I had tried to convince him, but the conversation had gone downhill from there and ended with me walking out the front door by myself. The church was only about thirty yards down the road from our cottage, but it still comforted me when I looked back and saw Erik watching me. The church, quaintly named Star of the Sea, was built with some sort of gray stone, and it was lovely. I got there just as the doors were closing, and I quickly dipped my fingers in the basin of holy water, genuflected and made the sign of the cross, and slipped into a back pew. I hadn’t been to Mass since before our honeymoon, and I relaxed as the familiar ceremony began.

An hour later, after introducing myself to Father Herlihy and shaking the hands of practically the entire congregation, I found myself in the back of the nave surrounded by five ladies, ranging in age from about twenty to old enough to be my great-grandmother. They all asked questions about who I was, where I was from, how long I was in Ireland, and, the one I dreaded the most, where my husband was. I answered them all, glossing over the last the best I could, and finally extricated myself from the group after promising to visit all of them for afternoon tea in the next two weeks.

When I turned toward the doors, I was surprised to see a young man leaning against the frame, watching us with a smirk on his face. He also had a black eye and a fat lip. When he saw that we were finished, he stood up straight and waited as I walked toward him.

“May I help you?” I asked warily.

“Not as such,” he said, his smirk changing into a bright smile. “I was just wondering if you might be Mrs. Desmond.”

“I am,” I answered, flicking my eyes to the door.

Just then, the ladies who had been talking to me passed me by, and he shifted aside with a small bow.

“Ladies,” he said, and the youngest giggled.

“Who are you?”

His eyebrows rose at my sharp tone, and then he smiled. “Ah, yes, I suppose I should introduce myself. My name is Shane Wallace, and I had the privilege of meeting your husband last night.” He fingered his lip, and I remembered Erik’s story of his time at the gym. I tried to hold back my own grin as I gestured to his face.

“Erik did that?”

“He did, but don’t blame him. I should have kept my hands up.”

“Yes, you should have,” I said as I walked past him out the door.

“Of course, it didn’t help that he was so cheesed off. He almost knocked Jack’s block off, too, and he’s the best fighter I’ve ever known.” He followed me down the steps of the church. “May I walk you home?”

I smiled at him. “Thank you. I’d like that.”

“So, where are you staying?”

I pointed down the road where I could already see Erik waiting by the door of the cottage.

Shane laughed. “Not much of a walk, then.”

“No, I guess not.”

We got to the front door, and Erik’s lips twitched.

“Shane,” he said, holding out his hand. “Good to see you again.”

Shane shook it with a grin. “My ma thanks you for improving my looks.”

Erik chuckled. “Tell her it was my pleasure. Would you like to come in?”

“No, thanks,” Shane said. “Ma wants me to visit my granda this afternoon, so I’d better get home and get ready.” He bowed to me. “Mrs. Desmond, it was very nice to meet you.”

“You too, Mr. Wallace.”

“Please, call me Shane. After all, your husband and I are old friends.” He grinned.

“Then you must call me Sarah,” I said, returning his grin.

“My pleasure.” He walked off with a wave, and I turned to Erik who had a strange look on his face as he watched him leave.

“Erik, what’s the matter?”

He didn’t say anything for a moment, and then he smiled down at me and put his arm around my shoulder. “Nothing. How was Mass?”

I looked up at him in surprise. “Do you really want to know, or are you just being polite?”

He sighed as he led me inside and shut the door. “Sarah, just because I don’t want to attend Mass does not mean I’m belittling your beliefs. Believe it or not, my mother tried to tell me about God and his love for us, but I couldn’t believe it as a child, either. She did, though, and I never understood how she could. I do understand why you do. I can see why you think he saved you from your mother, and I can understand why you might be grateful to him for that, but I just can’t. I can’t reconcile what we went through with a God who supposedly loves us.”

“Will nothing change your mind?” I caressed his face.

He scoffed. “Sure. I could believe in God and miracles and everything else if my mother stood in front of me again. Until then, nothing you or anyone else says will convince me that he’s real.”

I frowned and turned away, but before I got far, Erik pulled me to him and held me close. “I am grateful for you, Sarah,” he whispered.

“Grateful to whom, Erik?”

He just shrugged.

“God, perhaps?” I asked.

“No. Fate, destiny, the stars, maybe. Whatever brought you to me, I give it thanks.”

I hugged him. “It’s a start,” I said softly.

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