Undercover secrets, p.21
Undercover Secrets, page 21
Anna groaned, holding on to her neck as she got out of bed. She was feeling a lot better, but still her muscles were sore — although how much of that was from the crash, and how much from being suspended from the ceiling at the Institute, she wasn’t certain. She shuddered at the memory. At the time, it had all seemed so deliciously depraved. Looking back from the peaceful cocoon of the vicarage, it seemed like the Institute was a den of perversion and madness, a refuge for those who wanted to explore their kinks instead of trying to straighten them out. She was lucky to have escaped before she was drawn any further into Galloway’s sick mind games.
She eased on the bathrobe the priest had given her, and left her room for the first time. Padding across the wooden-floored passageway, she followed the sound of the radio into the living room. How quaint, she thought, as she pushed at the door. It was a timeless scene: the vicar sitting by the fire with a glass of red wine and only a radio programme for company. Anna couldn’t imagine life without television. But then, she couldn’t imagine life without sex, or parties, or the rush of living in a culture-saturated city. Father Lawrence had obviously decided that he needed none of those things for a satisfying life.
‘Anna!’ he said, beaming as he noticed her standing there. ‘You’re looking much better. Come in. Sit by the fire with me.’
Anna joined him. She sat in a perfect fireside chair: deep red, wide-armed, and with a seat big enough for her to curl her legs up. Accepting the glass of wine Father Lawrence handed her, she smiled up at him.
‘You’ve been very kind. I can’t thank you enough. Is there anything I could do for you when I get back to London — make a donation, or something?’
‘That’s really not necessary, Anna. It’s my job to be a Good Samaritan.’
They sat in silence for a while. Father Lawrence stared into the fire and listened to the radio. Anna gazed at him. He was much older than she, but still handsome, especially for a man of the cloth. What a waste, she thought. His lean body was draped casually in the chair, with that eye-catching ease that some men have. His short, dark-brown hair was being overtaken by grey, and he had a strikingly angular face. His eyes were quite stunning, a piercing grey which reminded her of Peter. In fact, he reminded her of Peter in other ways too. His voice was rich, and just as compelling as the doctor’s. She imagined Lawrence’s female parishioners swooning as he spoke down to them from the pulpit. Now that was kinky, she thought — to be taught about sin by man who’d never sinned. She imagined a congregation full of wet-knickered housewives all eager to lead him astray.
She wondered whether he’d taken a furtive look at her body as he and the doctor had undressed her and put her to bed. It would only be natural if he had done, whereas vowing chastity was the most unnatural course a man could take. Priests, she had always suspected, were raving perverts who’d taken to God because they were running away from their sexual urges — and their guilt. Father Lawrence must have desires, like any man. Why deny them? She would certainly like to introduce him to the sins of the flesh.
She looked at his hands, and wondered whether his fingers had ached to touch her while she had been under the safe blanket of sedation. Had he longed to explore the curves of her sleeping body? Had he lain awake, his cock painfully hard, thinking of the pleasure waiting for him in the next room?
Anna gave herself a mental slap across the face. What the hell was wrong with her? Father Lawrence was kind and gentle — the personification of Christian values. He’d probably never had a dirty thought in his life. His fingers had never yearned to be anywhere they shouldn’t. He was serene, and content in his solitude. Not everyone’s a complete sex maniac like you, she told herself.
The radio play finished and Father Lawrence looked up at her and smiled. Anna flinched at the sweet sincerity on his face. If only he knew what she’d just been thinking. If only he knew what an utterly filthy mind she had — he would probably have left her in her mangled car.
He reached over to turn off the radio. ‘So, Anna,’ he said, settling back into his seat. ‘You were on your way to London last night?’
‘And what draws you to that wicked city?’ His eyes twinkled; his tongue was in his cheek.
‘I live there.’
‘Were you up here for a holiday, then?’
‘Not exactly. I was working, at the research centre. It’s about seven miles up the road. Do you know it?’
‘The big white building? I didn’t realise it was a research centre. What were you researching?’
That was a tough one. Anna still wasn’t sure what the real purpose of the Institute was: genetic studies, or sexual experiments. ‘Well, I was only a lab assistant,’ she said. ‘I wasn’t really told a lot about the technical side of things.’
‘You obviously didn’t enjoy your job.’
She thought of the time she’d spent there, of the incredible debauchery she’d willingly tasted. Her eyes glazed. ‘I did, actually. I enjoyed every minute.’
‘Then why were you running away?’
Startled by his tone, she glanced up. ‘What makes you think I was?’
His eyes were full of concern. ‘Anna, the man who came to tow your car away said you must have been driving very fast. You left twenty metres of skidmarks on the road.’
She didn’t want to go into this with him. There was no point. ‘I always drive quickly,’ she explained.
Father Lawrence got up from his seat and walked across the fireplace to Anna. Kneeling in front of her, he gently took her glass. ‘Anna,’ he said softly, taking her hands in his, ‘you don’t have to hide your worries from me. I’m used to people coming to me with their problems.’
Anna suspected that no one had ever come to him with quite such a problem before. She couldn’t imagine a parishioner telling him that yesterday she’d been strung up like an animal and fucked with dildos, and that today they’d been planning to donate her body to medical science. ‘I’m fine,’ she assured him. ‘I missed London, that’s all. I decided to go home.’
‘There’s fear in your eyes,’ he said. ‘Anna, if you’re in trouble, or if you’ve done something wrong, I can help you.’
‘I haven’t done anything wrong. But you could help me with something.’
‘Could I use your phone?’
‘Anything but that, I’m afraid,’ he chuckled. ‘My phone’s out of order at the moment. You’ll remember the gales we had a few nights ago? Well, a tree fell across the line. One of my parishioners called the engineer, but I’m afraid I’m not top priority, out here in the wilds.’
‘Oh,’ she said, keeping her swearing inside. ‘Could you give me a lift to a call box, then?’
‘If there was a public phone box anywhere near, and I had a car, I would gladly do that.’
Anna couldn’t help herself. She didn’t want to look ungrateful, but she sighed with frustration.
‘If you like, I could ask my congregation after Communion tomorrow. I’m sure one of them would take you home and let you use their phone.’
‘That would be wonderful. Thank you.’
‘That’s settled then. You’ll stay here tonight. Anything else I can do?’
‘I don’t think so.’
He smiled knowingly. ‘But I think there is something. Perhaps you’re just too frightened to tell me about it.’ His eyes pierced into hers. He was looking into her soul.
‘I can see you’ve got a troubled mind, Anna. It may help to share your fears with me.’
‘But I’m not afraid,’ she insisted.
He studied her. His attention was as warm as the fire; it felt good on her skin. ‘You know, Anna, we’re all afraid of something. We’re all running away from our demons.’
As he caressed the backs of her wrists with his thumbs, Anna could feel herself melting. It was a strange situation, to be so close to a man who wanted to share her feelings but couldn’t share her body. She longed to know what demons lurked beh
He bowed his head, watching his hands in her lap. His smile faded. ‘I had feelings for a woman once,’ he said. ‘Feelings which frightened me, because I couldn’t control them.’ His eyes narrowed as he searched for the right words. ‘This woman… she made me feel powerless. She seemed to know what I wanted, before I knew it myself. She understood me better than I did. It’s terrifying when someone holds a mirror up and you discover who you really are.’
He met her eyes again, and Anna understood. She gasped — those feelings he was talking about were the same ones she’d been struggling with ever since she’d first met Dr Galloway. ‘I know exactly what you mean,’ she whispered.
‘Yes, I knew you did. I recognise myself in you. You’re about the same age I was, when I decided to escape my feelings and enter the priesthood. I remember what I was going through, then. Let me help, Anna. Unburden yourself.’
She would have liked to. She was dying to tell someone about the things she’d seen and done at the Institute, and how her experiences had confused her. But she daren’t mention anything until Mike,Undercover’s lawyers and the police had been briefed. ‘I… I can’t talk about it. I know you’re only trying to help, but…’
‘You can talk about it to me. You can tell me anything, and it’ll go no further, I promise.’
She was very tempted. It would be welcome therapy to confide in this man, and to hear his softly spoken words of comfort. ‘I couldn’t… The things I’ve done… You’d be shocked.’
‘Anna, the things I’ve heard in that confessional… Believe me, I’m not easily shocked any more.’
Anna was sure he wouldn’t have heard a confession quite like hers.
‘Come on,’ he said, gently tugging at her hands as she wavered. ‘I can sense you have something you want to tell me.’
She hesitated, but only for a moment. She couldn’t pinpoint what it was, exactly — his voice, his eyes, or the wine perhaps, blurring her senses — but something made her give in. She would confess, she decided, following as he led her through the vestry and into the church. She would tell him what was on her mind, and with any luck he might be able to clarify her thoughts. And maybe — although she could hardly bring herself to admit that such a dirty thought could enter her mind in a church — Father Lawrence would find her stories arousing. Somehow, she had the urge to excite this calm, peaceful man.
Shivering as the stone floor radiated coldness up through the soles of her feet, she clutched her bathrobe tighter around her. She looked around the tiny, ancient church as Father Lawrence lit a candle. The only other light was from the moon, pouring through the stainedglass window above the altar and casting a dramatic, cross-shaped shadow on the slabbed floor. In the dimness, the religious icons peered down with faces either racked with agony or blank with piety. No wonder people were afraid of God, she thought. His house was so unwelcoming.
Father Lawrence motioned her over to a small, ornately carved wooden cubicle with two adjacent doors. Opening one, he invited Anna to step inside and passed the candle in to her. She heard him opening and closing the other door as she settled on to the short wooden bench. Separating the two halves of the cubicle was a burgundy velvet curtain.
His voice was velvet too, as he spoke from behind the thick drapes. ‘You’re safe to tell me anything you want in here, Anna. Whatever you say, I’m forbidden from repeating it to anyone. Only God can hear us.’
Anna winced. It wasn’t a non-existent god she was worried about; it was Father Lawrence. ‘I don’t know where to start.’
‘Well, why don’t you tell me what it was you were running away from?’
She thought for a moment. ‘Well, there was a man at the Institute… He frightened me.’
‘Doctor Galloway?’ he asked.
‘Do you know him?’
‘No, but you mentioned him when you came round, this morning. Were you frightened of him, Anna?’ The priest didn’t sound convinced. ‘Or of how you felt when you were with him?’
Christ, he was perceptive. ‘Maybe it was how I felt that worried me.’
‘And how did you feel?’
She took a deep breath, trying to quell the strength of the memories which were making her pussy clench. ‘I felt powerless,’ she whispered. ‘Out of control. When I was with him, I did things…’ She scrunched up her eyes. ‘Things I wouldn’t normally do.’
‘Go on, Anna. Tell me about some of those things.’
Flinching, stuttering and sweating, Anna sketched a picture of Dr Galloway. Omitting the intimate details, she told Father Lawrence of how she’d been asked to do certain things, and how she’d enjoyed them. Gradually, her embarrassment faded and the words began to flow, lubricated by the heady wine she’d drunk before. She admitted that Galloway had made her feel dirty and depraved, and that she’d loved it. The further he’d pushed her, the more she had craved. She had had to stop herself; to get away, before things went too far. Father Lawrence made encouraging comments when she faltered, his voice a soothing antidote to the torrid thoughts she’d stirred up. When she’d finished, she almost felt relieved that someone else knew what she’d been up to, even if he did only know the vague outline. It was therapeutic to bring her feelings out, and to hear herself talk about them — especially since Anna could tell that Father Lawrence understood.
‘So it’s the strength of your desires that scares you,’ he said, summing up, ‘and the way this doctor seems to toy with your emotions.’
‘Exactly,’ she sighed.
‘I remember how that felt when I went through it. You’ve discovered a new side to your personality, Anna. It’s natural to be unnerved by it.’
‘Perhaps. But is it natural to want more? I went to the Institute to work, to do a specific job. But there were times when I forgot all about my job, and all I wanted wasto…’ Give myself to Galloway. She swallowed the words before they reached her tongue.
‘You wanted to give in to your feelings for this man.’
‘Yes,’ she breathed. Astounded, she watched as the vicar’s fingers appeared through a slit in the dividing curtain. They were sitting closer than she’d realised, and he rested his hand on her knee.
‘But you were finding it harder and harder to fight those feelings.’
‘We all find it difficult, Anna. We all have urges we’d like to surrender to.’
Anna looked down. The disembodied hand eased her bathrobe open so it could rest on her bare skin. It was clear where Father Lawrence’s urges lay, and that he couldn’t fight them any longer after what Anna had just told him. Mesmerised, she watched as he gently stroked her lower thigh. This was far more shocking than anything she’d done at the Institute. A bare knee in a confessional, and a priest admitting he had urges — didn’t this qualify for eternal damnation?
‘Father?’ she gasped, as his touch eased an inch beneath the white towelling.
‘Tell me why you left that man. What happened yesterday to make you drive away so quickly?’
She gripped the edge of her seat as his hand slid further upward. ‘I heard him saying that he planned to keep me prisoner in the Institute, in a part of the building where…’ How to phrase it? ‘Where people let their forbidden feelings out.’
‘And you didn’t want to stay in that place?’
‘No, I did want to stay.’
There was a long silence. ‘And yet you ran away?’
‘I didn’t want to. I had to.’ Her hushed voice trembled at the importance of her admission.
‘Tell me about your forbidden feelings.’
She barely hesitated. She was caught up in the thrill of confessing, and aroused by the fact that the priest’s fingers were edging inexorably higher. ‘I was so used to being in control I thought that was what I wanted. But now I know that being out of control is so much better…’ She closed her eyes as the priest’s fingertip reached her inner thigh. The potent image of Gallow
‘And that’s what frightens you — the thought of relinquishing control of your mind and body to someone else.’
She nodded slowly to herself. She knew then that if Frank hadn’t warned her away she would have stayed. And if Galloway had asked her to surrender herself to him for ever, she would have agreed.
‘So why deny yourself what you want? Why leave, just when you discovered all this about yourself?’
‘There were other things going on… I was worried about what would happen to me if I stayed. They were going to use me for —’
She stopped, struck dumb by the sight of a long, thick penis peering blindly through another slit in the curtain.
‘Jesus,’ she gasped. She clapped her hand to her mouth as she realised she’d just blasphemed, then thought that, under the circumstances, taking the Lord’s name in vain was probably not such a big deal. ‘Father? What are you doing?’ she asked, rather pointlessly.
‘Anna, it’s obvious from what you’ve told me that you’re a lost cause. You’re addicted to sexual submission. Now you must submit to the Lord our God. Get down on your knees.’
Anna obeyed his booming voice. If she hadn’t known better, she might have thought it was the supreme being himself bellowing down at her. Father Lawrence, it seemed, had power games of his own to play. She almost laughed as she wondered how many women had repented their sins in the confession box. Quite a few, it seemed: one of his dedicated flock had carefully reinforced the slits in the curtain with neat stitching.
‘Pray with me,’ he said, his voice quivering with zeal.
‘Let’s pray together for your salvation.’
by Zoe Le Verdier have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes