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She was kneeling at the altar. He was kneeling behind her. She could feel the warmth of his breath on her neck, which made her shiver with delight. He took his hand and pushed her hair to one side of her neck and slowly lowered his lips to the back of her neck. With both hands, he eased her robe down over her shoulders, moving his hands down her arms as he did so. As he reached her bare waist he slid his hands under the folds of the fabric. His fingers delicately caressed her soft thighs and slowly, teasingly made their way up to her-

“Miss Starling?” Brecca jumped and looked around her room madly. Then she saw a small, fat Clerk standing at her door. She blushed and ran a hand through her ruffled hair and cleared her throat.

“Yes? May I help you?” she looked up at the Clerk from her seat with a small smile. The Clerk looked at Brecca with distaste.

“Miss Starling. Brother Paxton would see you in the library. Now.” Brecca nodded and rose from her seat.

“Thank you” she said as she hurried past him to the stairs.

High, tuneless voices floated around the darkening corridors while the quite murmur of prayer slid out from under closed doors. Brecca shuffled along the cold stone floors towards the library door. It was shut. Brecca knocked three times before tentatively opening it and stepping inside. She was greeted with the familiar and comforting smell of old, stale books that inhabited the libraries many shelves. While she breathed it in, she looked around for Brother Paxton.

“Ah! Brecca!” Brecca jumped and turned. He appeared behind her, carrying a roll of parchment under his left arm, his right cuff stained by ink. His face was masked by a large smile which did not reach his brown eyes, however, he greeted Brecca warmly. Brecca bowed in response.

“Brother Paxton, Clerk Downy said you wished to see me?”

“Yes, yes I do. Will you continue up to the study? I’ll meet you there shortly.”

Brecca nodded and hurried up stairs. At the top, she chanced a glance down to where Brother Paxton was standing. He was making a note of something on his parchment, holding his quill with delicate and expert fingers. Brecca rested her head on her hand and watched him with a dreamy smile. He was certainly the most desirable man at the Abbey; he was mature, intelligent, handsome, funny- “Brecca?”

The sound of his voice made her start. She looked down to see him staring up at her, a look of uncertainty on his face. “I will meet you in the study, please.” Brecca nodded and blushed furiously. She noticed, with a twinge of satisfaction, that he was blushing too.

The study was a small private room. Students and visitors were not permitted entry to it. For Brecca, this was her first time in the room. While she waited she gazed out of the tall windows that offered views of Northshire. Her youngest student, Brendon, was hitting a tree trunk with a small wooden sword. She smiled to herself. Brendon would indeed make a fine Paladin, one day. Brother Paxton stepped silently into the room and watched Brecca quietly for a few seconds before shutting the door. Brecca turned and smiled.

“Sit, please.” he motioned with his hand to a chair while he seated himself behind the thick wooden desk. Brecca sat obediently and placed her hands nervously in her lap. “Brecca, you’ve been with us in Northshire for, well it must be nearly 11 years now.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Brother Paxton nods and looked at the desk. Then he looked up at Brecca’s expectant face. “Do you like it here?”

Brecca thought for a moment and then nodded. “Yes, Sir.”

“Do you not want to see the rest of the World outside Northshire?”

Brecca fidgeted with her hands and furrowed her brow. “I saw a lot of it when I was younger, Sir. Northshire is my home now. I like it very much.”

Brother Paxton let out a little sigh and looked sadly at Brecca. “But you’re 19 now. Much has changed in 11 years. And you cannot stay here forever.”

Brecca remained silent at this. She looked into her lap and bit back the overwhelming sensation of tears forming in the corners of her eyes.

“Brother Tilling feels that you should see more of the World. He’s arranged for you to travel to a place not far from Northshire to aid a Lady who requires your help. You’ll be leaving in two days, Brecca, and he’s advising you to pack all of your things.” Brother Paxton watched miserably as the tears escaped Brecca’s determination and spilled over onto her pink cheeks. “Brecca, this is not what I want at all. I want you to stay here, with us.” Brother Paxton took a breath, “With me.” He looked anxiously at Brecca who looked up, startled.

“With you, Sir?” Brecca spoke with trembling lips while Brother Paxton nodded.

“With me.” he confirmed. Brecca smiled and sniffed. Brother Paxton moved from his seat to kneel in front of Brecca and clasp his ink stained hands around hers. Brecca felt them tighten and closed her eyes, savoring this forbidden intimacy. Brother Paxton moved his hands from hers to cup her face and lift it to face his. Brecca opened her eyes and for a moment both were locked with each other. Then he leaned in to Brecca, moving his lips gently towards Brecca’s. She sat frozen; half shocked, half afraid. He kissed her, longingly and she returned his kiss with equal passion. He lifted her from her seat and placed her on the desk. Brecca pulled him in and kissed him again, hungrily.

Through a tiny crack in the door, an eye twitched and a mouth smiled.

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