Present Day, Scotland
Balnakeil Bay, Cape Wrath
Sean Sutherland pulled his hood up to cover his head. He looked downwards, and stepped out of the shop into the pelting rain. Twilight crept across the rugged landscape. The village was restless tonight. Tomorrow they would be graced with the company of a minor celebrity. He sighed. His heart was far too heavy. Nothing could save him. He would be doomed for all of eternity. Halting in mid-stride, he turned to stare at the Village Church. Gravestones loomed before him. He pushed the latched gate open and stepped onto the damp ground.
He headed for one gravestone sectioned off from the rest. Reaching inside of his cloak, he pulled out the bouquet of flowers that he had brought for his mother. He heaved out a heavy and sad sigh. Bending down, he caressed his bare hand across the rough surface.
"How are you tonight, my son?" He nearly jumped at the sound of the priest's voice. Whirling about, he plunged his hands inside of his cloak and grimaced.
"I feel lost." It was not an unusual feeling for him. The restless sensations he experienced would only intensify over the next few days.
"Ah, that is unfortunate." The priest's friendly blue eyes glittered at him. "It is too damp out here for my old bones. Why don't come inside with me? Perhaps, I could ease your worries."
"Thank you, Father." Glancing up at the grey stormy clouds that enveloped the landscape he was reminded of the many wild storms that he had weathered. He mustered a slight smile for Father Clancy and followed him into the church. Candles were lit up at the altar, and he moved to the front of the church.
"I was just preparing my sermon for the service on Sunday. But now that you have come, I shall finish in the morning."
"I wouldn't want to keep you from your duties," he said, starting to stand up.
"Sit! You are a member of my flock. I cannot run the risk of having you go astray, now can I?"
Sean grunted. Indeed, that would be a sin. He looked up at the Madonna and child, and felt his heart sink. His mother had been very religious. If she had not fallen so in love with his father, he felt sure that she would have become a Bride of Christ.
"Are you nervous because we are expecting an outsider?"
At Father Clancy's softly spoken question, his thoughts were wrenched back to the present.
"I don't know. I think that I will stay indoors as much as possible." Sean had an aversion to strangers and it was one that the villagers completely understood.
"I have read a few of her books. She's quite talented."
Had Sean been drinking something, he would've choked. "Father, you can't be serious!"
"I'm a priest, Sean. Not a saint." Father Clancy smirked, and then as quickly as it had appeared his grin faded, only to be replaced by his serious visage.
"Tell me what weighs on your mind, Sean."
"I feel the stirring again."