45 comments

Historical Fiction Romance

5:00 a.m. — Lauds or Dawn Prayer

“St. Benedict had too many rules for the clergy,” he said, rolling over in her big wide bed. “Awakening at this ungodly hour was probably the most demonic,” he sighed and burrowed back into the crisp, white sheets, cool in the morning air. The sheets had been sun-dried the day before and still smelled of early spring and youth and possibilities. 

He suddenly arose and threw open the blinds to let the insistent rays of dawn wash over him. 

“Please, it is cold—” she protested, raised an arm to cover her eyes. But he just laughed and pulled her out of bed and up to the window sill to see the light peek over the lush rolling hills and crystalline lake. She covered as much of herself as possible. 

“It is time for Lauds. What the priests call the dawn prayer,” he smiled, holding her hands in the manner of prayer together in his. “This was my least favorite time of prayer at the seminary,” he said, burying his face in her hair. She smelled of rose water. 

“Are you going to pray with me?” she teased. 

“I am. But instead of St. Benedict, I will pray the words of John Donne,” he whispered, then he cleared his throat. He wildly yelled out the window, shaking his fist: “Busy old fool, unruly sun, / Why dost thou thus, / Through windows, and through curtains call on us?”

He startled the few chickens under the window who protested the commotion from above.

“What did John Donne mean by all of that?” she asked, unimpressed with his recitation. 

“What any poet’s aubade means. Lovers having to separate at the dawn,” he whispered again, nuzzling her neck.

“Are you leaving?” she wondered aloud. 

“I am not,” he picked her up and returned to bed.


6:00 a.m. — Prime or Early Morning Prayer

“Are you still asleep?” she asked.

“I am,” he replied, clearly lying. 


9:00 a.m. — Terce or Mid-Morning Prayer

“I brought us some breakfast,” she said cheerfully, placing a wooden tray on the table at the foot of the bed. 

He yawned, stretching his long legs and arching his back. Sleeping late was always such a luxury. Especially in these trying times. 

“There are croissants and jam and . . .” she stopped short when he leaned up and firmly held her wrist. 

“To eat, do I have to leave this bed?” he asked. It was the first time she had seen him so serious.

“You do not,” she replied. “You stay in bed as long as you wish.” She brought the tray from the small table directly to him in bed and crawled up alongside them both. 

He took a croissant, slathered it decadently with jam, and carefully fed it to her like a child. She ate it gleefully and giggled with delight. 

After their fill, she lay her head on his chest. 

“Tell me what a terrible little creature you were as a child,” she demanded.

And he did. He told her story after story. 


12:00 Noon — Sext or Midday Prayer  

“I brought us some wine from the rectory,” she confided, pulling out a bottle and two glasses from behind her back. 

“You brought us wine . . . ?” he asked, an eyebrow raised in admonishment. 

“I stole us some wine from the rectory,” she amended. 

“Is not stealing a mortal sin?” 

“It cannot be worse than stealing the priest,” she said matter-of-fact while deftly pouring a fine claret into two of the rectory’s goblets. 

“True,” he conceded. 

“You do not—you do not suppose this is communion wine,” she gasped, giving him a horrified look.

“It may be,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. 

“Should I take it back?” she asked, wide eyed and momentarily concerned about her immortal soul.

“Let me try something,” he said, putting his hands over the wine. “Deus, qui humanae substantiae dignitatem mirabiliter condidisti, et mirabilius reformasti: da nobis per hujus aquae et vini mysterium, ejus divinitatis esse consortes, qui humanitatis nostrae fieri dignatus est particeps, Jesus Christus Filius tuus Dominus noster: Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus. Per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.”

“That was beautiful,” she said, sipping her wine with renewed enthusiasm. 

He fluidly swigged the entire goblet down, theatrically showing her how quickly it had been emptied. Laughing, she refilled both glasses again and again until the bottle rolled empty across the floor.


3:00 p.m. — None or Mid-Afternoon Prayer

“We should get up,” she suggested.

“We should not,” he replied. 

“But I have not yet bathed,” she pouted, petulant and willful. 

“You stay here. I will be back,” he said. Then sternly looked at her and ordered: “Do. Not. Move.”

Shortly he returned with a basin of hot water and a few fine white cloths, freshly removed from the rectory’s linen cabinet. 


6:00 p.m. — Vespers or Evening Prayer

“Will you leave me,” she said, wrapping her arms around his waist. It was not a question. 

“I will stay as long as I can,” he said truthfully.

She felt him slipping away already.

“Will you tell me another poem?”

“Which poet would you hear?”

“The one you like so much.”

“John Donne?”

“Yes, John Donne.” She really did not care if he quoted St. Benedict, as the night was passing too quickly. She just wanted him to keep talking with her. 

“But we by a love so much refined, / That our selves know not what it is, / Inter-assured of the mind, / Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss,” he recited flawlessly. 

“Please tell me what that means,” she rolled over to him, eyes beseeching his face, his face already looking out the window. Restless.

“It means we have a love which time and distance cannot diminish,” he said, looking at her so forthright that she almost believed him.


7:00 p.m. — Compline or Night Prayer

“The rectory’s larder was overly generous tonight. We will feast,” she said, hoisting another tray onto the bed. This tray was laden with cooked meats and cheeses and olives. She watched with great satisfaction as he tucked in, murmuring his approval for her efforts. 

She loved him.


2:00 a.m. — Matins or Vigil Prayer

She rolled over to find the other side of the big wide bed was cool. The trays and wine bottles and glasses and basin and damp linen had all been stacked with care by the door. 

She saw the sliver of a crescent moon—another solitary traveler—reflecting off the lake. With great reverence, she humbly bowed her head and prayed to St. Christopher for all three of them.


November 18, 2020 01:53

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45 comments

I.B. Dunn
12:05 Nov 18, 2020

Mesmerized. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the story. Self contained. Private. Perfect. It made me want to be him. It made me want to love her. It made me understand that what the world may see as forbidden isn't forbidden at all. This story will stay with me. I won’t think of it always but I suspect I’ll think of it often and each time I do I will think of the author who touched my soul.

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Deidra Lovegren
15:25 Nov 18, 2020

Not my best, but I always appreciate your cheery, insightful comments. He is definitely a "Walkaway Joe," a charmer, a priest, a loveable cad. She is all the Fantines from Les Mis singing "I Dreamed a Dream" and wondering why the Tigers come at night.

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Zilla Babbitt
23:16 Nov 18, 2020

Coincidentally I was recently reading excerpt's of the Monastic Rule. I'd already read this, and while reading that bits of your story clunked into place so I now feel qualified to write a review. I really like the way you divide up the sections. It makes the setting feel authentic, which is always a plus. I liked her seeming naivety (but also the underlying woman-of-the-world tones) compared to his... well, he's a jerk. At least in my opinion. I don't like him. One thing that I am now an authority on after reading the Rule is his jo...

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Deidra Lovegren
23:27 Nov 18, 2020

Why were you reading the Monastic Rule? I have so many questions...

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Zilla Babbitt
23:29 Nov 18, 2020

A friend gave me a couple pages copied from it, excerpts, like little sections detailing different ways of life the monks had then. It was interesting actually.

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Deidra Lovegren
23:30 Nov 18, 2020

I had a very good friend join a cloister in her 20's. She was just tired of the world's nonsense and wanted to spend her days in quiet reflection and in service to others. Quite a beautiful thing.

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Zilla Babbitt
23:32 Nov 18, 2020

I've wanted to do something like that, for a year or so. Get some peace, write a book, work for others. It sounds wonderful.

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Zilla Babbitt
19:18 Nov 23, 2020

I like the new title. I liked the old one too but this works even better. Except there's weirdly a space after "Lost" I think?

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Deidra Lovegren
21:07 Nov 23, 2020

I had a good friend help me with my horrible titles. He’s very good with that type of branding...

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Deidra Lovegren
21:08 Nov 23, 2020

I fixed the space. You’re quite the editor 😇

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Tyler Runde
02:21 Nov 19, 2020

I just have to ask this. Why do you think he's a jerk? Why do you hate him? I finished this story having no strong opinion of him one way or another. After seeing your comment I read through it again, asking myself "Is he a jerk?", and still having no strong opinion one way or another. I didn't feel like he he was using her, at least not intentionally, I don't think he ever acted or spoke with inauthenticity, and I actually believe that he genuinely cares for her, in some small way at the very least. Is he a jerk for living a double life?...

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Deidra Lovegren
12:30 Nov 19, 2020

Tyler, did this story work or not? I’m so confused. ❤️

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Tyler Runde
22:44 Nov 19, 2020

I felt the story worked. I didn't come away from it feeling disappointed or unsatisfied. There are details which are left out of it, such as how the priest justifies his actions to himself, how he and this woman met, etc., but I didn't the story lacking because of it. I was perfectly happy to fill in those details myself, arrive at my own conclusions. And I think that's how it should be. Every reader should come to this story and be able to find their own individual meaning in it. Unless that's not what you intended? Though, even if you d...

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Deidra Lovegren
23:02 Nov 19, 2020

I don't think any author should do all of the thinking for their readers. Shakespeare was the master of leaving everything open to interpretation....Hamlet is either a thoughtful young man or a self-centered jerk. Both views can be supported by textual evidence. Macbeth is a good guy who makes increasingly bad choices or a solider suffering from PTSD. I love both the serving girl from the hamlet and the priest on the run. She knows exactly what is going on. He treats her with affection and -- dare I say it? -- respect. No one is taking adv...

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Deidra Lovegren
23:07 Nov 19, 2020

I see this little dalliance as two young people who know exactly what is going on. Both are attracted to each other. The serving girl is from the village hamlet. The disaffected priest is leaving the monastery, off for bigger adventures. It's a short, precious interlude with two like-minded souls who probably would have had a good life together, but timing is as precarious as karma. Let them have their day together. Life is too short :)

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Zilla Babbitt
16:21 Nov 19, 2020

You are dedicated. I didn't like him because I felt that he was using her. He knew he wasn't allowed to have a secret love, knew he wasn't supposed to steal wine (or let her steal wine). I originally thought she was completely innocent, then I reread it and saw that there are undertones to the innocence. But I agree, it's cool that we both get different meanings while never losing the story's magic.

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Tyler Runde
23:04 Nov 19, 2020

I infused the meaning and reason into his character by using my own past experiences. My grandma really wanted me to become a priest and she would keep bringing up the subject again and again over the years. I never wanted to become a priest, though, because I didn't see myself as being capable of living a life of celibacy, of not taking the Lord's name in vain, of being a "shepherd" for the community, etc., but I did entertain the idea somewhat. I figured if I ever actually became a priest I wouldn't remain one for very long because I'd ...

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Kylie Rudolf
03:34 Nov 23, 2020

First, off, LOVE the title. This story is so classic and it rings true to the old times. Wonderful!

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Deidra Lovegren
05:34 Nov 23, 2020

I am terrible at titles, so I get others to name them for me.

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Kylie Rudolf
05:41 Nov 23, 2020

Who is that?

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Deidra Lovegren
05:49 Nov 23, 2020

A very good writer on Reedsy. Just Google him — he’s glad to help.

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I.B. Dunn
18:27 Nov 23, 2020

Please, no applause, just throw money.

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Deidra Lovegren
21:08 Nov 23, 2020

💰

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Jonathan Blaauw
08:41 Nov 18, 2020

Hey, D! It's been a while. I don't know why, exactly (maybe it's my Catholic upbringing) but I really enjoy it when you do this kind of thing. Probably because you do it so well. The idea of secret love is taken to a new level when it concerns a priest. I love the way you split it up into the different service times because that's exactly how they'd have measured time back then. It also allows you to break the story up into multiple short scenes, and that works really well. I also love how, instead of outright hilarity, the story explores...

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Deidra Lovegren
15:33 Nov 18, 2020

Howzit, Jon! Heita! Aweh! Sawubona! Molo! Hoe gaan dit? (Did I get all the South African greetings?) Missed seeing you this week on the collaborative, but 'tis the season to be overwhelmed. It's 72 in Orlando, 19 in Virginia, 84 in Johannesburg, 52 in Kansas City, and a rainy(!) 50 in Manchester. Looks like you win the swimsuit competition today :) Thanks for dipping into my latest "Why I'm going to hell" story. I sincerely hope God has a sense of humor. As usual, your analysis is PhD level at an Ivy League School and makes me seem ...

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Kaylee Tinsley
15:42 Sep 09, 2021

Hi! Once again, your stories have me mesmerized. Like, seriously, I cannot put into words how excited I get when I get to read one of your new stories. I love it. I'm loving the idea of the Priest coming backing in nine months to meet a kid??...

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Deidra Lovegren
16:08 Sep 09, 2021

I love our medieval bad boy priest. He reminds me of the priest in "Fleabag" ... Phoebe Walker-Bridge's love interest. What a great character.

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Kaylee Tinsley
18:56 Sep 09, 2021

Yes! I haven's seen that, but I've heard tons of good things... I'll have to check it out. I'm hoping to hear more from our favorite bad boy priest??

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Deidra Lovegren
19:05 Sep 09, 2021

He’s a charmer. Selfish, reckless, wanton. Why can’t we quit these handsome heartbreakers? Moths to a flame.

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Kaylee Tinsley
12:23 Sep 10, 2021

Absolutely ;)

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D. Kase
01:51 Dec 11, 2020

This story was very interesting to me because I know next to nothing on Catholicism. So, the timing of day/prayers were completely foreign to my world. I love how you painted a picture for me I did not know could exist. You are truly talented. :)

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Deidra Lovegren
03:09 Dec 11, 2020

I love these two characters 💕

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22:07 Dec 08, 2020

Beautifully written. This is the reason I followed you and liked your stories: because they're all wonderfully written, be they long and lasting or short and sweet. If writing was an archery contest, you'd have hit five bull's eyes with one arrow. (sorry for the weird metaphor!🙂)

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Deidra Lovegren
00:21 Dec 09, 2020

I loved your metaphor ❤️

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Ray Dyer
19:36 Nov 20, 2020

Wow, Deidra, that was fantastic! I loved everything from the structure of breaking it up by prayer times to the two characters and their tryst, the irreverence, and all the fun they were having. To be honest, you had me at John Donne. I was too young to appreciate him in college, I was more of a Swift sort of person, but the years have brought me a fuller appreciation of his work. I love that way he explains things so clearly, in a way that makes it so clear why she would want him to keep talking, even if he was quoting St. Benedict. ...

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Deidra Lovegren
22:17 Nov 20, 2020

Always appreciate your good cheer, Ray. I love me some Swift -- Gulliver's Travels is sorely underrated. He's a snarky Chaucer when it comes to the human condition. But John Donne -- O love of my life! From "The Flea" to "Death Be Not Proud" to "A Valediction: Forbidden Mourning" to "Go and Catch a Falling Star" -- from the bawdy to the sacred -- he's the love of my life.

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Ray Dyer
22:36 Nov 20, 2020

You're making me want to go and grab a book off my shelf! And you're so right about both of them!

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Deidra Lovegren
22:41 Nov 20, 2020

The sexiest John Donne poem of all time (and THAT's saying something): https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/50340/to-his-mistress-going-to-bed

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Ray Dyer
22:52 Nov 20, 2020

Oh my Lord - I had forgotten that he was AC/DC of his time! Master of the single entendre! I know, that's selling him way too short, but re-experiencing that poem after all this time was eye opening. I didn't get half of those statements when I was in my early twenties. Largely because I couldn't believe that a classic poem could actually mean...what it meant... It was an eye-opening era, to be sure!

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Nusa Zam
18:47 Nov 19, 2020

I've never read this kind of love before; it was written beautifully. Very clever with the mini subheadings too! It was like every time you got sucked into the lulling descriptions of their love you were hit with constant mini reminders of the forbiden-ness of it. What's the age gap between them actually? I'm curious. But great read, well done!

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Deidra Lovegren
22:56 Nov 19, 2020

I think both of our lovers are in their early 20's. Kindred souls. :)

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Katina Foster
16:48 Nov 18, 2020

I need to know who this woman is, because in my mind, she's a nun who hasn't taken her vows yet. A novice? I'm aware that you've included context clues that would make this highly unlikely, but I've decided that she's an impossibly clueless novice. Like she joined the order at job fair with only the vaguest idea of the company she'll be working for. That would be a double blow to the catholic orders. I can't help but think that Catholicism would only be improved by allowing its religious leaders to spend a few lazy days like this. Seems pr...

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Deidra Lovegren
18:28 Nov 18, 2020

Hi Katina! She is no Lady Macbeth, that's for sure. I really see her as a hearty young woman in a rural hamlet near a monastery. She may cook or clean for the priests, but she knows enough about animal husbandry and the ways of men to not be a victim. She is a full participant as a woman in a man's world. She knows what's up. She knows this renegade priest is delicious and decadent and their time together will be brief. Instead of mourning it, she savors it. I'm sure there were long interludes of flirting in the monastery, before their glo...

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Katina Foster
22:33 Nov 19, 2020

I love it. Even better than my imagination :)

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Dorian Gray 📖
18:13 Nov 23, 2020

I loved the beauty of it, and I think that it was masterfully crafted, especially the emotion. Reminded me of Les Mis a little. Could you read my stories?

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