Father FigureJane Harvey-Berrick
Praise For Father Figure
“This is one steaming hot story!”
“Great story! Very hot!”
“That is SO wrong! I’m going to hell just for reading this…LOL”
Copyright © 2020 by Jane Harvey-Berrick & Alana Albertson
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Editing by Krista Webster
Cover photograph by Eric Battershell Photography
Cover Model: Ryan Harmon
Cover design by Regina Wamba / Mae I Design
First published in the United States of America, 2020
Bolero Books LLC
11956 Bernardo Plaza Dr. #510
San Diego, CA 92128
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Jane Harvey-Berrick and Alana Albertson asserted their rights under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This book is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the authors’ imaginations, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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Jane & Alana
To all the priests I’ve loved before.
My beloved is mine and I am his
Song of Solomon 2:16
Forgive me father for I have sinned.
Father Gabriel found me on the street selling my body to the highest bidder. He thinks he saved me, but he’s wrong. I will never be redeemed. But then again, neither will he.
Father Gabriel is a tortured man. Eighteen years ago, this former Navy SEAL made a mistake that caused the death of his best friend and Teammate. A man who was my father.
Father Gabriel is fighting for redemption every single day of his life, trying to atone for his sins—saving a life for taking one.
He never knew that his friend left a daughter behind. Now I will make him pay for the life he stole from me. He owes me and I will collect: his body, his soul, his tortured love.
I will break him. Ruin his life like he ruined mine.
I choose darkness over light. I choose to do wrong, because it feels so right. And I’m going to do it again.
A heart-breaking tale of love, loss and redemption from two best-selling authors, teaming up for the first time for this epic, ugly cry, standalone forbidden romance.
Gabe . . . Then
It was the last night of our world.
Luke and I stormed into the bar as if we owned it. We were motherfucking SEALs, and the night before a SEAL deployment in Coronado, California, the locals rolled out all the stops. Free food and drinks in every restaurant and bar. Free pussy, too.
Luke and I acted tougher than sin, but in reality, both of us were scared shitless about our first deployment, although we would never admit it. We were new SEAL pups, recently awarded shiny tridents, but our egos were fully inflated.
We were raised on internet porn and superhero movies. We were badasses with attitude. We couldn’t wait to go overseas and kill some terrorists.
But we had one night left in America.
“Hey, Charlie, give me some whiskey.”
The bartender poured the shots and slid them over to Luke and me. We downed them in unison without a thought. We were as close as two men could possibly be—he was my swim buddy at BUD/S, which meant there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do for him.
I would kill for him, I would give my own life to save his.
And he would do the same for me.
My attention turned to the front door of the smoky bar. Two sexy women strolled inside, clearly SEAL hunting. Every woman in San Diego knew exactly what happened at the Pickled Frog: Team Guys and Frog Hogs only.
I turned to study Luke. “Red or Blondie?” His green eyes were fixated on the women.
I wanted Red—her hair looked almost electric in the dim lighting, and I’d always had a thing for redheads, but it was his turn to choose first.
He eye-fucked them slowly. “I’d say both. Maybe we can tag team.”
I shook my head. “You’re a fucking pig, man. And I don’t want to share. Shall we flip?”
“Nope. I’m in the mood to get burned. I’ll take Red.”
And with that, we walked over to the women. I was the shyer of the two of us. I asked the blonde if I could buy her a drink, but Luke wasted no time.
He grabbed Red by the wrist and pulled her out of the bar. She didn’t resist at all, happily trotting after him to the dark alley outside. I didn’t intend to be far behind.
I barely remember anything about that night. I was smashed beyond belief and had my own fun with Blondie. I do remember that we stumbled out of the Pickled Frog and into another bar and another, goofing off along the way. Luke and Red crashed a wedding on the beach and found one of those passport photo booths. They took some lame couples pics, and I bombed the last one, laughing my ass off. Blondie was pissed that
she didn’t make it into the picture. Whatever. I couldn’t even remember her name.
But I remembered one thing.
Her deep dark eyes were the shade of the whiskey we drank, and her hair was the color of a cardinal. The color of sin.
A shade I never saw again.
Until I met Mariana.
Every day for the past twenty years of my life, I’ve awoken before dawn.
But twenty years ago, I had bounded out of bed for a different reason than I did these days.
Back then, I was full of hope, pride, youthful invincibility.
Basically, I was stupid.
I thought I could change the world. As the youngest Navy SEAL on my Team, I had the world at my feet. I planned to serve a long career in the Teams, defending our freedom overseas. And partying our asses off when we were back on American soil.
But one night could change everything.
And it did.
I frowned, pushing that night out of my head. Not here, not now.
I had atoned for my sins.
Twenty years ago, I’d been Petty Officer First Class Gabriel Thorne, full of confidence and sure of my place in the world. And then ten years of ops had changed me, tempered me, and hardened me, but they’d also shredded my soul, piece by piece, until I felt like I’d been flayed alive. When I looked in the mirror, all I’d seen were the empty eyes of an institutionalized killer. Not the kind of man who deserved to be saved, but nevertheless, God had saved me when I’d needed him most. In exchange, I’d answered his call and reinvented myself, reborn, you might say. Few friends, no family, no significant other, I’d swapped my SEAL uniform for a clerical collar, and I’d been ordained in the Catholic Church. I was God’s servant, leading my congregation for the past seven years in St. Peter’s, Mission Valley, San Diego.
I was Father Gabriel.
They all knew what I used to be—it was literally written on my body, inked into my skin: the missions, the friends I’d lost, all recorded for everyone to see. Or anyone who cared to look.
And now I started my day the same as all the others with Morning Mass.
I glanced at the empty whiskey glass next to my bed, then rolled out and hit the shower.
I was relentless in policing any illicit thoughts. At thirty-nine, I had not indulged in the sins of the flesh for over ten years. That didn’t mean that I could forget how it felt like to be deep inside a woman, the scent of her hair on my skin, the taste of her inside and out.
But even remembering those sensations was a sin. Keeping my mind as pure as my body was a daily trial: some days I won, many other days I lost. But I would devote the rest of my life to the Lord.
I worked hard for my community, sharing my Faith with saints and sinners alike. But it didn’t matter, no matter how many prayers I said or how many lives I saved, I could never undo my worst crime—I could never bring back Luke. With that burden weighing on my soul, I worked longer hours than any priest, walked the streets that even cops were afraid to patrol on foot. I spoke to the homeless that hid from ordinary folk, administered to the lost and lonely, the drugged and drunk, and laughed in the face of gangbangers who tried to warn me off their turf.
I was the Warrior Priest, and the SEAL still lived inside me, descended from St. Michael—just give me a flaming sword and I’d drive back the night and the Devil himself.
Ah, the sin of Pride. Well, I never said I was perfect.
I quickly finished my shower and got dressed. Time to open up the chapel and begin my prayers.
My church in San Diego was exquisite: ornate Spanish-style architecture, breath-taking stained glass, and intricate statues. I was blessed to be able to serve here. The soaring ceiling filled me with awe, my spiritual senses were heightened and made me feel nearer to God. It was the closest I came to finding peace. But even so, everything in San Diego was tainted with memories of my time as a layman.
I’d been given a choice by the bishop on whether or not I wanted to serve in the city. But ultimately, this was the only home I’d ever known. There was a vague, translucent memory of parents who’d died in a car wreck before I was five—I was the miracle child who survived. Even then God had a plan for me. But with no other family, I was passed around different foster homes and group homes. I needed another family, and I found that in serving my country.
But with that life in my grimy past, I embraced the challenge of administering to those in need around the streets where I’d smoked my first weed and fucked my first woman. I was branded with my sins, the memories unquiet, but after all, I was once a Navy SEAL, and we didn’t run from challenges. We ran toward them.
As I walked to church, I felt the familiar pull, a calling. Normally, I would begin by prostrating before Jesus in the Blessed Sacraments. But one look at the statue of Mary Help the Christians, and I stopped in my tracks.
I no longer ignored my gut. Ever since that night . . . if only I had listened to it, Luke would still be here.
I knelt before Mary and prayed. But for once, I selfishly prayed for more than just serving with Jesus. I prayed to the Virgin for freedom, not from the church, not from my mind, but from the tortuous weight of my guilt. The burden grew heavier each day that I lived, each day where Luke’s body turned to dust in the San Diego soil.
Our Lady answered my prayers as a phrase from Romans came to mind: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
I was a bad man, but I wasn’t alone. And maybe one day, I would rejoin Luke up in Heaven and he would forgive me.
Before I ever met Father Gabriel Thorne, I knew that he would die. I knew it the same way that I knew the sun would rise in the morning or the moon would draw the tides over the Earth. And I knew it because the knife I had was sharp and strong. It comforted me on the darkest nights.
“Soon,” I’d say to myself. “Revenge is coming, the day of reckoning is nearly here,” and I’d smile.
But then I saw him for the first time. I saw his wide, gray eyes, fringed by thick, dark lashes; I saw the smooth tanned skin, the stubble ruthlessly shaved, leaving only a dark shadow on his chin and cheeks. I took in the full length of him, over six feet of lean, hard body; and I smiled when I saw the black shirt and white collar at his throat.
No, I wasn’t going to kill Father Gabriel right away, that was far too easy—I had a much better plan. I was going to make him regret every day of his life, every mistake that he’d ever made. I’d make him forget his vows and force him to sin, sin, sin, until every day of his miserable life was a torment to him.
And I’d enjoy it.
Because the bastard had murdered my father.
Watched as hot blood cooled, pooling around a dying man.
Watched and did nothing.
Left me with nothing.
So Father Gabriel deserved to die—but not until I had my fun with him first. The fun a cat has with a mouse, playing and playing and playing, before the final killing stroke.
I stared at my reflection, the image distorted by a crack running through the mirror.
I was like that mirror: cracked, imperfect, a fissure running all the way through me. But I wasn’t fragile, I was hard, toughened by life. I read once that a samurai sword was re-made a thousand times—heated and hammered, heated and hammered, until it was unbreakable in battle.
My waist-length mess of dark red curls fell across my face, making me look weak and innocent, but I was neither of those things.
I was a weapon.
At first, I’d fought simply to stay alive, but when I was thirteen, my mom, in a rare moment of sobriety, had given me a new reason to survive; she showed me a picture of my dad.
She’d told me thousands of lies over the years: I’ll stop tomorrow; this is my last drink; just one more hit; I’ll bu
y food tonight; I love you, baby girl; you’re gonna like my new boyfriend; your real father was a Navy SEAL. None of it was ever true, but then one day, that one sober day when she didn’t have the money to score drugs or the looks to score on her back before the shakes started again, she showed me a photograph of a smiling girl and a boy with a trident tattoo at the top of his arm.
My mom had been beautiful before liquor and drugs finished what grief had started. In the ruins of her face, I traced the lines on the photograph—plump cheeks, bright white teeth, and the biggest smile. My red hair and figure came from my mom, but it was a shock to see that my nose, lips, and forehead had come from him. And I had his eyes—emerald-green eyes. I looked like a softer, feminine version of my father.
She stroked the images of a couple in love, a cheap strip of four pictures from a photo booth. In the last image, a gorgeous guy had stuck his head through the curtains, photobombing the picture. And his eyes were laughing.