BLESSED – BOOK ONE
A mixed-blood Catholic seminarian struggles to discern his true calling: the priesthood or his ex-lover, a proud but damaged Ojibway man.
It’s been ten years since Emery Matawapit sinned, having succumbed to temptation for the one thing in his life that felt right, another man. In six months he’ll make a life-changing decision that will bar him from sexual relationships for the rest of his life.
Darryl Keejik has a decade-long chip on his shoulder, and he holds Emery’s father, the church deacon, responsible for what he’s suffered: the loss of his family and a chance at true love with Emery. No longer a powerless kid, Darryl has influence within the community—maybe more than the deacon, and he intends on using his new-found power to destroy Deacon Matawapit and the church.
Hoping to save the church, Emery races home. But stopping Darryl is harder than expected when their sizzling chemistry threatens to consume Emery. Now he is faced with the toughest decision of his life: please his devout parents and fulfill his call to the priesthood, or remain true to his heart and marry the man created for him.
The hot breaths coming from Darryl’s mouth fanned Emery’s face. It was like old times, their closeness and laughter. A warm glow fluttered through his limbs. This used to be the moment when he’d draw Darryl in his arms and hold him close. The warm glow faded.
“What’s wrong?” Darryl’s question caressed Emery’s earlobe.
“What do you mean?”
“One second you’re smiling and now you’re upset.”
Honesty might cause some tension, but Emery wouldn’t lie. “I was thinking about when we’d do this in the past. I’d always hold you.”
“You want to hold me?” Darryl’s eyes brightened.
“Yes. I can’t, though.”
“Why not? The seminary doesn’t allow you to hug others?”
“Because holding you… it would…” Emery rubbed his palms against his pants. “It’s different. It could lead to other… things.”
“Other things such as”—Darryl traced his thumb along Emery’s cheekbone—”kissing?”
Why say such a tempting word capable of coaxing Emery to remove his clothes? Such nerve. He was a flesh-and-blood man, not a saint. “I guess so.” He turned his head.
“Look at me,” Darryl commanded in his firmest voice.
No. Emery continued to glare at the bathroom door. Even though God had called him to discern, Darryl wouldn’t stop dangling the carrot in front of Emery’s face.
When Darryl’s short, strong fingers turned Emery’s head anyway, hot coals stirred in his stomach. Being forced to stare at someone reeked of disrespect.
“Whoa. I haven’t seen you look this way in a long time.” The words left Darryl’s mouth as a groan.
“Excuse me?” The moan did nothing for Emery. His blood bubbled from anger, not desire.
“The way you look.” Darryl licked his lips. “The last time you were this pissed was when we fought.”
Their fight. They’d walked away from each other, never to speak again until now. Lord, why are you doing this to me?
They were too close. Darryl’s breaths through his nostrils, the salty scent of his skin, and the softness of his mouth licked at Emery beneath his pants and shirt, places where he hadn’t been touched since he was a teenager. An ache surfaced.
He laced his fingers through Darryl’s. Rough skin. Ragged cuticles. Nails broken to the quick. This was the hand of a hard-working Ojibway man who pushed paper in an office but spent as much time outdoors.
As kids, the outdoors had been their playground, whether the forest or lake. Hunting together. Fishing together. Trapping together. Hiking together. Canoeing together. Swimming together. Camping together. Spread out on their sleeping bags, they’d spent many nights watching the Northern Lights dance across the sky.
“You’ve been looking this way a lot. It’s killing me.” Darryl’s words pressed hot against Emery’s cheek.
“Do I look like you kicked my dog again?”
He stroked Darryl’s fingers. “I wonder if this is what God wants. I know He asked me to come home so we could reconcile our differences and be friends again.”
The words sat on the tip of Emery’s tongue. He might instigate a fight, but Darryl had asked for the truth. “I think God sees our truce as a start for the church and the Traditionalists Society to begin reconciling.”
“Maybe.” Darryl’s lips nuzzled Emery’s cheek.