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Grace Master

Grace Master



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Published by Gaslight Hotel

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Published by: Gaslight Hotel on Jul 22, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Title: GraceAuthor: StephRating: R Character: Dr. Anthony GirardeauDisclaimer:The following story has been written with no intention of claiming ownershipor solicitation, nor does the author claim the movie character(s) as his/her own. Themovie character(s) have been borrowed solely out of a love of the particular movie and isnot intended for any other purpose but amusement and entertainment.^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Part One
"But mamma, what if Santa comes while we're here? You said if I wasn't in bed....""Santa will know that you are in church."The little girl voicing her concern dug her patent leather shoe into the snow, refusing tomove forward until her fears were appeased. "But mama-"Dr. Anthony Girardeau turned his head slightly to the right, glancing at the woman besidehim to see if she had caught the exchange. Her smile revealed that she had.
"I'd better get you back early too..." Anthony said in a whisper. "You won't get any presents if you aren't asleep."Stephanie Bailey spread her lips into a grin."I don't think that Santa is bringing meanything this year." she answered, "I haven't been a very good girl..."Better than you think. The doctor thought to himself, trying to ignore the nervousness thatchurned in his stomach and concentrate on negotiating his way through the throng of  parishioners moving toward the church.He swallowed hard, as he thought about the present waiting for Stephanie beneath histree at the Clinic, wondering if he would have the courage to give it to her tonight. It's toosoon...He worried. Biting his lip, he slipped his hand into hers. The easy familiarity withwhich her fingers blended with his own reminded him again of how magical the past four weeks have been. Or maybe its not..."The building is really incredible...I didn't get a good look when we were in town to seethe lights. "The sound of the woman's voice brought Anthony's attention back from his thoughts."What?""The church...the decorations." Stephanie gestured toward the paper luminaries that linedthe sidewalk to the front steps, and the boughs of evergreen and holly that adorned thechurchyard wall. "It's like a Christmas Card with the snow."Anthony nodded his head absently, drawing Stephanie closer as they reached the line toenter the building. He crossed in front of her, purposefully placing the woman betweenhimself and the priests who were greeting the congregation inside the door. Maybe theycould slip past...He was a minute too late."Good evening Anthony." The Doctor froze almost guiltily as the pastor's voice reachedhis ears. The tone was warm and even, but the doctor could not prevent the grimace thatformed automatically on his lips. Was the minister trying to be ironic? Insinuatingsomething? It's all in your head. Anthony soothed himself, but to no avail. In spite of thecalm, unquestioning manner with which he had always been treated, the doctor could notescape the feeling that, behind their cool eyes, the priests here were judging him. Theyhad to know about Girardeau's former vocation. They would have read it the file whenthe doctor transferred into the parish. What must they think of me? Anthony chastisedhimself for allowing the question. Why do I even care?"And this is Miss...?" The assistant priest, asked brightly. Once again, Anthony stiffened.I didn't concern them if he chose to bring a date.
"Bailey." Stephanie supplied, seemingly oblivious to her escort's sudden tension. Shesmiled at the man, noting that he was even younger than Anthony."Merry Christmas,Father." She said sweetly, then, noting that their pause was creating a traffic jam, tuggedon Anthony's hand to lead him inside. She paused beside him at the baptismal as he madethe sign of the cross, and then turned to peer into the main hall of the church. "Where dowe sit?" She asked as her eyes roamed the crowded room."Wherever we can find a seat.""Are we supposed to do anything before we sit down?"Anthony frowned, not understanding the question."Cross ourselves or...kneel?" The woman looked around purposefully, trying to findsomeone's behavior to copy. Anthony knew that Stephanie's mother had taken her tochurch every Sunday for the first eighteen years of her life but she had been raisedPentecostal. From the expression on her face, he could see that she felt completely out of her depth."You don't have to." He said quietly, steering her to a seat along the left wall. "- and I promise that nothing happens if you don't get it right...." She was worried aboutembarrassing him. He placed a light peck on her cheek to let her know that heappreciated her efforts. "Besides, I'd bet that actual Catholics are in the minority tonight."The statement drew a look of relief."Thank you for bringing me with you." Stephanie whispered as they slid into a pew."Thank you for agreeing to come." Anthony squeezed her hand tenderly, swallowing therest of his words. Because I couldn't do this alone... Not tonight.Anthony toyed with his tie, wishing there was some way to hold back the flood of memories that had threatened to overwhelm him since they had stepped inside thesanctuary. I wonder who is standing in my place at Holy Family tonight... ? This churchwas so like the one in costal Maine at Christmas: the same red tapered candles in everywindow, the same scent of cinnamon in the air... I wonder if Mrs. Eaton had another babythis year....Charlotte is nearly two now, would she remember me? Only last year it wasAnthony standing in a doorway, greeting parishioners.A year? It had to be more. It was another world. Another life-A life that he was trying to forget."...For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Himshould not perish but have eternal life...This is the gospel of the Lord."

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