Updated: Oct 24
This is the first scene of Inundation that I ever wrote. This is how the people who Camila and Marcos became first occurred to me and I knew from that moment that their relationship would be the heart of this story.
It's a little racy at one point, because that's just how Camila rolls. I hope you enjoy this peek into the book. If you're craving more, you can read the first chapter here.
Camila knelt on the hard wooden plank of the dim confessional and inhaled a deep breath. Confession was always difficult for her, but not for the same reasons as most people. She folded her hands together and willed herself to calm.
When the partition slid open, she crossed herself and said, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been…” She trailed off, trying to calculate how long it had been.
“Six months and a few days,” Marcos provided from the other side of the booth.
She glared through the textured divider at his perfect profile on the other side, the long bridge of his nose and his jaw like a ledge of immovable rock. Her memory helpfully added the fall of his too-long black lashes against his high cheekbones even though she didn’t ask for more detail. Damn him. She hadn’t seen him in months, and now, when her guilt was at its absolute worst, here was the reason for it, made flesh.
Camila huffed as she tore the mantilla from her head and crushed the white lace in one fist. “Isn’t it against the point of hiding behind this screen if you recognize my voice?”
“The barrier is more for you to feel comfortable than for me.”
A flush rose in her cheeks, and she shifted on her knees before catching herself fidgeting. “This is a mistake. I should wait until Father Barnes is taking confession.”
“You’re already here,” Marcos said much too gently.
She waited for him to provide more encouragement, but he did not. If she hadn’t known him for ten years before he went to the seminary, she might have thought his patience was some kind of priestly art, but it was just Marcos, as he’d ever been.
“I’ve lied.” She paused to collect her thoughts. Jesucristo, that was an understatement. “A lot. But always for a good reason.”
“Reasons don’t matter. You know that.”
She clenched her hands around the lace tightly enough to hurt. The unmitigated arrogance of the man. Her biggest lies had always been to protect him. Always. When she’d found out she was pregnant after he had left for the seminary, she had gone to stay with her mother for the duration and lied to everyone just to spare him the pain of that knowledge because she’d known it would tear him apart.
She struck him back where she knew it would hurt the most. She was so very good at that. “I’ve fornicated outside the sanctity of marriage,” she spat, “frequently.”
The bastard didn’t even have the decency to clear his throat. “You should seek to rise above these carnal desires.” His tone was flat and controlled. A rote response.
God, how she hated him sometimes. “You know I can’t.” She poured as much suggestiveness as she could into the words, willing him to remember the two of them engaged in the carnal desires he so disdained now.
He sighed. His pain was much less gratifying than she’d hoped. “Maybe you were right about this being a mistake.”
“I’m sorry.” She blew out a breath. “You can add being a hateful bitch to my list.”
“No hables asi, Camila.”
She smiled faintly because she knew the scolding wasn’t about the language but about how she was speaking about herself. “Perdóname.”
“I’m trying to.” He sounded strained now. “Is there more?”
Another pang of guilt. Great. “I’m sometimes cruel to people who don’t deserve it.”
Marcos chuckled. “So, it’s not just me?”
“No.” Was that another lie? She didn’t even know anymore. “I went too far and kind of beat up Wanda while we were sparring because she wouldn’t shut up about the angels and how great they were.”
This time, he did clear his throat. “It would not be a productive use of your time here to argue about that.”
She really was trying not to fight with him, as best as she was able. He was right though. Talking about the reason they were all stuck here was a waste of time, because it wouldn’t change anything. He believed in the angels and the mission of the Children as only a truly pious man could. To Camila, all of this was just a job—one she was damned good at. “We should probably add blasphemy to the list, just for good measure. But at least I’m really good at the one about false idols.”
“Camila.” Anger sharpened his voice in a way that made goosebumps prickle her skin.
“I am truly sorry for all my sins,” she said in a rush before she fucked everything up even more.
“You are one of God’s chosen warriors. You, more than most, are tested every day. That doesn’t mean that you get a free pass. If anything, your behavior should be a model to others…”
As he went on, she thought about the first time they’d had sex, up against a wall in the aftermath of a battle they shouldn’t have won, both of them drenched in the black blood of demons. She had discovered her power for the first time that day, literally and figuratively.
Marcos had pushed her against the brick so hard she’d bruised, but she’d loved every frantic second of their rough coupling. He apologized afterward, nearly in tears, as he was doing up his pants, shame making his voice small and his face ashen. She’d hated him for the shame, and even more for the apology, though never for the act itself. No one before or since had ever made her feel so alive.
It took every bit of her combat training to control her breathing as her body responded to the memory. The ache between her legs only got worse when she clenched her thighs to stop her knees from shaking.
Marcos assigned her penance—a full rosary and two acts of charity—and asked her to say the Act of Contrition. She spoke the prayer in Spanish, slowly, because she knew he liked hearing it that way. It was the easiest way to say she was sorry, and she was so shameless she would do anything to spend a few more seconds alone with him, even locked in a confessional.
When he made the sign of the cross after the Prayer of Absolution, her heart sank. She wondered how hard he would beat himself later for what she’d made him feel in this booth. He had ever been a traditionalist. This was why she hated confession. Somehow, she always left feeling worse.
“Amen,” she said, sorry for the pain she had caused him and hoping he could hear her sincerity.
A long pause sat between them. Too long. The echo of that single word somehow reached through the years and all they’d done and been to each other. Friends. Partners. Lovers. Everything.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,” Marcos said finally, his voice hoarse.
She bowed her head. Fuck. She would not cry right now. “His mercy endures forever.”
“Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.”
“Thanks be to God.” She crossed herself and rose slowly, even now, at this final, fleeting moment, trying to make their time alone stretch longer.
As she turned to leave, she paused with her fingers tight around the door handle. “Nothing we did ever needed forgiveness, Marcos. None of it.” She didn’t wait to hear his response, if he made one.