XX - Bold and Brave

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A/N Warning - Smut early on in the chapter. 

JOHN

Lamb of God Church
Holland Valley
One Year Ago...

"Thank you for coming..."

"Have a blessed day..."

"We will see you again soon..."

"Let me know if I can be of any assistance..."

The greetings and bids farewell were the same. Every time, no matter if it was at his own gala's (he rather liked calling them that for the sake of sounding prestigious), or after Joseph's sermons on the main island, or in the north at his brother's rallies, or in the east at his sister's conservatory in the gardens... the words he left with the people of Eden's Gate were the exact same. They'd praise him, with a smile or embrace, or leave humming the hymn that he rather high-key enjoyed, even when it was sung out of tune.

All this joy, the passion in his leadership; the Baptist leading as the co-shepherd to his brother's flock, was held in high regard with Joseph... and that made him swell with his own pride. Not so much that he would have to fall victim to his own Confession—as Joseph always did well to keep him in line. Not only was Joseph constantly reminding him to keep his vices to a minimum, but the Latin ink etched onto his hand was a reminder to keep it all in check.

As the visitor count diminished, he was sure to meet them all and see them out the door, just before closing them behind the last attendee. Turning the lock, John braced himself against the doors and let out a deep sigh to have gotten through his last sermon.

But it was then, he heard a soft, feminine voice, humming Oh, the Bliss behind him, and it somewhat startled him.

His breath caught in his throat, and with a hand on his chest, John turned around with a surprised look as he faced her. "Oh... I'm... sorry, I thought everyone had left."

When she turned, it left him as breathless as he was when he'd heard her sing. Waves of gorgeous, flaxen hair flowed down her back, gentle waves bouncing slightly when she faced him. A wide smile spread across her youthful features. John was instantly entranced by her face. The way the rays of light streamed in through the high-set windows of stained glass cast a heavenly glow behind her.

The woman's face scrunched as she smiled. Not taking away from her fair beauty, only enhancing it. She held up a handful of hymnals and copies of the Book of Joseph for him to see. "That's quite alright, sir... I was just trying to help,"

The sound of her speaking voice gave him a slight chill, and he felt a small grin tug at his features. Even the full beard he had couldn't hide the rush of redness in his cheeks. He gulped, watching closely as she continued to help clean up the mess left behind by the congregation.

After a moment, John cleared his throat as he made sure the door had been shut behind him, and finally strolled down the aisle to meet her.

"I hope that's no trouble," She added.

His voice cracked slightly as he responded, "N-no, no trouble at all. That's quite alright, my dear. But you're free to leave if you'd like, I can take it from here."

When he reached for the book, his hand brushed hers, and the sensation that he felt at his fingertips was nothing short of captivating. His keen ears didn't miss the slight gasp when she felt his light touch over the back of her palm. It had startled her so much that she lost her grip on the stack of books, fumbling them onto the floor.

"Oh! I'm so sorry!" She exclaimed in a bit of panic.

The two of them nearly knocked heads as they both bent down to retrieve the fallen books, and when they looked up at each other, there was an awkward moment of stunned silence before they erupted in a fit of laughter.

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