Luc seeks atonement for the rebellion that banished him from his home. Now, he lives as a priest in a small town and strives to show how much he has changed. A chance meeting with Rose throws his resolve into question.
Haunted by the guilt of her parents’ death, Rose has vowed to never let anyone close lest she hurt them. But when she meets Luc, the armor she built around her heart starts to crack. Can Rose learn to open herself up again?
When Luc’s past catches up to him, Rose is the one caught in the cross-fire. Luc has to decide if he’s willing to face his mistakes in order to save Rose. Doing so means he won’t be able to hide who he is anymore.
Will Rose be able to reconcile the man she knows with the devil he used to be? Or are the mistakes of the past too damning?
Mistakes of the Past is a new adult urban fantasy book about letting go of past mistakes and learning to love again.
**Please note: Your credit card statement will say Hi-Five MI Designs as that is my Square account that allows me to offer signed paperbacks to you.**
The world was cold. From the moment Luc set foot on it, he was chilled to the bone. Not surprising. After so many years in fire and darkness, he had become accustomed to the extreme temperature. He wondered how long it would take for him to acclimate. Or if he would at all. Had heat left its mark on him the same way his past had?
Luc huddled on the brown couch, with his arms wrapped around himself, and his knees pulled up to his chest. A shudder rocked him. His toes tingled with numbness. He blew on his fingers to warm them.
The elderly man sitting in the recliner next to Luc pushed to his feet. He wore black pants and a button-up shirt with a white collar. He clutched his cane and hobbled out of the living room, returning a few minutes later with a green blanket from one of the bedrooms.
“You look like you need this.” He held out the blanket.
Luc wrapped the thick fabric around himself, but it did little to warm him. He offered his thanks anyway. “I appreciate you looking out for me, Father Albert.” “Any time, my boy.”
A grin quirked Luc’s lips. It amused him when Father Albert called him “boy”. Despite looking no older than twenty-five, Luc hadn’t been young for a long time. He didn’t mind, though. Being called that instilled him with hope. He could make amends if he thought of a vast future before him.
Father Albert straightened the best his crooked back would allow and returned to his chair. He sank into it with a wheezing sigh.
The cheer faded from Luc. Father Albert shouldn’t inconvenience himself for Luc’s sake. At seventy-nine, the priest’s joints were twisted by arthritis. He took a host of medication, and it didn’t take much for his energy to be sapped. Luc wished to ease the effects of aging for the man. After the kindness Father Albert had shown him, Luc owed him so much.
It took a special person to give Luc a second chance. He wasn’t always sure he deserved one.
The TV played a crime drama. Father Albert nodded off during a commercial break. Luc rose and draped his blanket over the slumbering man, then he turned the TV off. Goose bumps spread across his exposed skin. Shivering, he headed to his bedroom. It was sparsely furnished with only a bed and dresser, and the off-white walls were bare. Black pants and shirts hung neatly in the closet. A mirror was attached to the closet door.
Luc examined his reflection. He swiped his ebony hair aside and ran his fingers over his forehead. The tawny brown skin was smooth. He let out a sigh, but the worry remained in his hazel eyes. He closed them and listened to the steady beat of his heart.
You’re okay. You’re okay. His lips moved as he repeated the words in rhythm with his pulse. The affirmation untwisted his muscles and lifted the weight from his chest.
Stripping out of his clothing, he dropped the habit in the laundry basket. The white collar caught on his fingertips. He held it up. The fabric was stiff, curved to fit his neck.
Was this the right way? He had no idea.
If only Dad would tell––
Luc shut down the thought before it could finish. If he had learned anything over the years, it was to focus on what he could control. Remember the mistakes he made––how could he forget his biggest?––but don’t wallow in the past. The path to redemption did not lie in pity.
Luc pulled on a pair of blue fleece pants with yellow stars and a snug fitting white T-shirt. Blankets were piled thick on his bed, and he burrowed under them. The goose bumps faded. He felt…a little warmer.
Sleep eluded him, though, as his mind churned. He forced himself to think of things other than his worries and how cold he was. There was laundry to do in the morning. The church windows needed to be cleaned. The floor vacuumed.
Eventually, his eyes fluttered shut, and he drifted away.
The scent of coffee woke Luc. He inhaled deeply, and the aroma made his mouth water. Dreams faded into oblivion as he rose. He padded down the hallway, following the smell to the kitchen. The coffee machine sat gurgling on the counter next to the microwave. The time indicated it was seven-thirty.
Luc tapped his fingers on the countertop as the coffee brewed. “Whoever said patience is a virtue never had to wait for coffee.”
Father Albert, already dressed, sat at the table, nursing a cup of decaf. Fifteen years ago, his doctor had recommended he give up caffeine. Luc wasn’t sure how Father Albert managed. Until Luc got his morning jolt, he felt dead on his feet.
Finally, the coffee was ready. Luc stirred in a teaspoon of sugar. The steam heated his skin as he sipped the scalding drink. He sighed, not only at the taste but the warmth traveling down his throat and pooling in his stomach.
Father Albert was watching when Luc looked up. His sapphire eyes sparkled with curiosity. More unanswered questions? Luc thought the old man would have asked them all by now. He supposed he shouldn’t complain. Questions were preferred over condemnation.
Luc took another drink. “Will Matty be by today to finally mow the lawn?”
Father Albert blinked, as if coming out of a trance. “Oh? Yes, yes. His father said he’d drive Matthew over around nine.”
Luc nodded. Matthew Ward was a teenager Father Albert hired to cut the grass. Only, the boy liked to collect payment from Father Albert first and then take off without doing the work. Three weeks after he was hired, Luc caught him, literally, by the collar as Matthew tried to sneak away with the lawn mower left running under an open window by Father Albert’s office. Luc had to give it to the kid; he was clever. Now, Matthew’s dad drove him over with the push mower in the bed of his truck, and Luc watched the teenager to ensure not a blade was missed. He was paid once the task was complete.
“Great, I have time for a shower then.”
“Yes, yes.” Father Albert’s gaze turned distant again.
Luc hesitated in the kitchen doorway, watching the old man. Should he be concerned? Did Father Albert need to make an appointment to see his doctor? This wasn’t the first time Luc had found the priest zoned out. He worried for him.
Who would take over the church when Father Albert passed? And would the new priest accept Luc?
His stomach twisted into knots. It was selfish to focus on something so petty. Father Albert’s health was more important, but Luc couldn’t help but be afraid of a potential stranger. Experience had taught him the fear was valid.
Pushing the uneasiness to the back of his mind, Luc headed for the bathroom. He cranked the hot water, and steam filled the small space. After undressing, he jumped under the spray. It prickled against his skin like thousands of needles. His head fell back.
The air was heavy and humid when he stepped out. Condensation fogged the mirror. When he wiped it away, it instantly clouded up again.
His attention was drawn to his chest, and he traced the jagged circle of scarred skin with his finger. There was a time the inverted pentagram had given him pride; it was a sign of who he was and what he had done. Now, he kept it hidden. Even Father Albert hadn’t seen it.
No wonder he still had questions for Luc.
Luc took his time drying off and shaving carefully. He slipped on his clothing. Cold slammed into him like a battering ram when he opened the door. He hissed as it bit into his flesh. It was tempting to lock himself in the heated bathroom. Steeling himself against the onslaught, he strode to his bedroom.
The day was full of mundane chores. Matthew did his job, but more than once, Luc had to get the youth back on track. He took many breaks, playing on his phone. Father Albert tended to his duties, too. Julie Miller and Andrew Gates stopped by to discuss their upcoming wedding, and Father Albert attended a meeting with the parish council about an upcoming rummage sale and charity the proceeds would be donated to. Luc stayed on the sidelines, listening quietly.
By official records, he was a vicar for the parish. He was to aid Father Albert in any way required. The priest had fought hard to get Luc the position in the small town of Thornwood. Luc was a stranger, and that made the residents wary. They warmed up to him slowly and eventually accepted him into the fold, but Luc still caught occasional whispers about him and his past when he went on an evening stroll.
If they knew the truth, they’d run him out of town.
After the meetings, Father Albert excused himself to his study. Luc tidied up the kitchen where the gathering was held. The clock chimed three as he finished. He slipped on his coat, grabbed his bike from the garage, and headed to the library.
There, he leaned the bike against the brick walls. A lock wasn’t needed, as the security the small town offered was nice. He had lived in sprawling cities, and while there was enough to do to fill several lifetimes, danger lurked like a storm cloud. He had disappointed several muggers looking for cash he didn’t have and stared down many gun barrels.
Silence greeted him when he walked inside the library. The wooden floor gleamed with a new coat of wax, and the smell of fresh paint hung in the air. Luc admired the mural on the ceiling depicting people from all walks of life enjoying books.
The librarian, Mrs. Mallory, sat behind a huge desk in the middle of the room. Silver streaked her chestnut curls, and crow’s feet brought out the green in her eyes. She jumped when Luc cleared his throat. Red colored her cheeks. “Oh, Father Luc, you scared me.”
“Sorry.” He nodded at the book in her hand. “Good book?”
She showed him the cover. A girl stared mournfully into the night, with her hair billowing dramatically. It was a young adult novel and probably chock-full of vampires or werewolves. Being a small town, meant Thornwood was behind on literary fads. While the cities were obsessing over post-apocalypse novels, the residents of Thornwood were just discovering the paranormal.
“I can’t put it down, even though I should.” Mrs. Mallory motioned to stacks of books piled around her.
Luc leaned on the counter. “But you gotta know what happens next.”
“Exactly.” Mrs. Mallory ducked her head. “My husband thinks it’s silly I’m reading books for kids.”
“Nah. Any reading is good.”
Mrs. Mallory sat back with a bright smile. “My thoughts exactly. Do you need help finding a book?”
“Actually, I was hoping to use the computer.”
Disappointment dimmed Mrs. Mallory’s face. She scribbled the password on a slip of paper and handed it to him. “Remember, one hour is the limit.”
“I wouldn’t dream of breaking your rules,” Luc assured her.
The library had two old computers tucked away in the far corner by the bathrooms. Both hummed loudly, though the screens were black. Luc sat at one and woke it up. Thankfully, the library had high-speed Internet. He checked the church’s email and wrote down anything of importance. Father Albert had tried to learn the digital age, but it never took root in his mind. Or his fingers. The old man was accustomed to punching the keys on a typewriter. A computer keyboard was too sensitive for the abuse. After cleaning out the spam, Luc logged onto the church’s Facebook page. He updated the information on Julie and Andrew’s wedding, and he posted the previous week’s bulletin.
With the church’s online business done, Luc browsed a couple news websites. His finger itched to play a game, but his time was running out. He was signed off the church’s accounts, cleared the history, and left the library. Back at the rectory, he prepared dinner for himself and Father Albert. Neither man talked as they ate. Luc enjoyed the quiet between them. Life in Thornwood was slow and mundane. It had taken Luc time to adjust to the routine, but once he had he cherished every second. This was life in all its glory. He was blessed to be allowed to experience it.
READER REVIEWS C.D. Gallant-Kingrated it 5 stars. I've been told that Patricia Josephine is a better writer than I am, and I find it hard to disagree. Even writing in a genre that I don't usually follow, she draws me in with interesting, well fleshed-out characters with fascinating backstories and realistic relationships. The conversations between the characters are so natural, the emotions they feel so complete, that it's easy to get hooked in long before the supernatural and weird stuff starts happening. Honestly I would have been quite content if it had turned out to be a regular romance story without the magic altogether, that’s how invested I was in the characters. I was far more concerned with how the will-they-won't-they couple would end up than with the mythological world-building, so I say well done. I thoroughly enjoyed this.