Rachel had just set down her briefcase and keys on the table right inside the door when the phone rang. She banged her ankle on a kitchen chair as she raced to get the phone before the voice mail picked up. Cursing as she picked up the phone, she managed to mumble, "Hello" between wanting to do something evil to the chair and rubbing her injured ankle bone.
"I hope I didn't catch you at a bad time," apologized Jamie's voice from the other end of the connection.
"No, it's all right. I just had a little altercation with the kitchen chair and it won. Is everything okay? Brandon's not.."
"No, good doctor, relax. Brandon is fine, well as good as can be expected I guess. He's in the other room entertaining our guests. You know him, any excuse to show off his accomplishments." They both laughed at that.
"So if Brandon's okay, what can I do for you, Jamie?"
"I was wondering if you could help me with something else. Duncan has just found out he has to go back to Seacouver for some kind of emergency, but Darius is staying here with us. Would you be a dear and take him out shopping. He needs a new wardrobe and we just don't have the time or energy to go. You're so good at that kind of thing anyway."
"I didn't think priests had a need for a huge wardrobe, Jamie. What kind of things does he need?"
"Oh just some casual stuff, maybe a nice formal suit for that charity dinner this weekend. You know, the basics. Thanks, you're such a doll. Can I get you take him tomorrow, maybe for lunch as well? He needs the company right now." Before Rachel could get the chance to ask why, Jamie rang off in his usual effervescent way. She stood there standing with the cordless phone in her hand, dumbfounded.
Rachel rang the door chime, then stood back away from the door of the elegant townhouse in one of the nicer districts on the outskirts of metro Atlanta. She wanted a house like this, but with the massive loans she had to pay off, despite her scholarships, she knew she wouldn't live in one in the near future. She would just have to settle for living vicariously through Jamie and Brandon, then return home to her moderately sized one bedroom flat.
The heavy oaken door swung open and on the other side was Darius, dressed in cream colored loose sweater and blue jeans. From behind her dark sunglasses which shielded her eyes from his perceptive gaze, Rachel surveyed the handsome man that stood in the doorway. His short cropped dark hair only accented the cragginess of his angular features. His startling aqua eyes gazed down upon her. While she could see the holy man in his demeanor, his build and his eyes, those windows to the soul, spoke of a very different line of work. His attractive physique was still very apparent, even beneath the not-so-form-fitting clothes he wore. Attractive?? Rachel, get a hold of yourself. He's a priest, for God's sakes. Even though she wasn't Catholic, she hadn't even been raised Christian for that matter, somewhere in the recesses of her mind was the nagging sensation that lusting after a priest could not be a good thing in any religion.
"Rachel," Darius' warm voice melted around her name. His accent reminded her so much of her grandmother's, the way he pronounced her name, except her grandmother never gave her butterflies like this. "Won't you come in? I will be but just a minute." He closed the door behind her and she stepped into the living room, where Brandon and Jamie were seated, arguing over the newest change in plans concerning the charity gala.
"Hey guys, knock it off. Doctor's orders," Rachel ordered good-naturedly. Darius watched her friendly response to his two friends from the entryway of the living room. The dark glasses she wore had concealed much. He felt a little gauche in their sophisticated company, he fervently hoped that he wouldn't embarrass himself with his lack of social graces in front of her. Brandon had told him that Rachel had worked so hard and hardly ever got away from her career. Brandon asked Darius to do him a huge favor and take her out to lunch, get her away from her all-consuming job at the hospital for a while. They could even go shopping for a new wardrobe for him. Darius had been reticent at first, but Jamie had jumped in and soon both men had broken down every objection Darius constructed. So here he was, going out with someone other than his fellow men of the cloth in more than 1500 years.
"Are you ready to go, Father Darius?" Rachel turned around and was a little disconcerted to find him staring at her. Darius blushed slightly, making his two friends smile conspiratorially. He nodded and Rachel said her good-byes.
They both walked out to her red Blazer sitting on the street in front of the townhouse. Darius climbed in the passenger seat and fasten his safety belt. Rachel started the vehicle and soft music with a distinctive Middle Eastern quality emanated from the stereo. As they drove into Atlanta, Darius broke the silence. "It's Darius, Ms. Schein."
"My name. You can call me Darius. There's no need to be so formal."
Rachel gave him a slight smile. "That goes for me too. You can call me Rachel, just like you did this morning. So, where would you like to go for clothes?"
"To tell you the truth, I'm a little rusty at shopping." No kidding, the last time you needed something other than a robe or other church garb was before the Book of Kells was written.
"Why don't we grab some lunch first, then shop 'til we drop?"
"Such strange phrases Americans have."
"You have no idea, Darius."
Rachel drove them to one of her favorite restaurants, the Magnolia Bistro. While it had a hokey name, it made up for it's dubious title with excellent food and a wonderful atmosphere. The two sat down and the server came over to the table with the wine list. Darius politely asked if he might choose the wine. Rachel wasn't much of a drinker, but he seemed to know what he was doing, so she acquiesced. The server came back with their wine and left with their entree orders. Rachel had to admit, this stuff was good as she sipped the dark red drink.
She could tell he was uncomfortable in this kind of environment, but she wasn't sure if it was because of her or if he just didn't like the social scene. She looked up and their eyes locked. Then she knew. He's like Jamie, one of those Immortals. But he's older, a lot older. I'd bet my life on it. Rachel kept her discovery to herself. If he wanted her to know, then he would probably mention it.
"Jamie says you are a doctor, Rachel. You don't look old enough to be as accomplished as he describes."
"I would take that as a compliment, Darius." Yeah, and you definitely don't look your age. "But Jamie exaggerates sometimes. I'm only a resident. I still have a long way to go, even just to pay off all of those wonderful loans that got me through med school."
"What do you do as a doctor?"
"Do you mean what's my specialty? I work with infectious diseases. That's why I was put in contact with Brandon. He's one of my best patients. He teaches me something new everyday, and I'm not just talking about medical cases. I could go on all day with my research, but that would be way too boring for you. I am curious about your chosen field, however. How does one become interested in the clergy?" You had better quit staring or you're going to start drooling. Oh my GOD, I've got a priest fetish. Those psychologists always say you lust after what you can't have.
Darius' aquamarine eyes settled on her delicate features. Her dark, intelligent eyes met his gaze. He could not keep the truth from this creature one moment longer, even if that risked her walking out on him in the middle of the restaurant. "Rachel, the Church has long been a friend of mine, a place where I felt like I could accomplish some good in the world. However, recently we have parted ways due to irreconcilible differences. I am no longer a brother in the Holy Catholic Church."
Should she go YIPPEE right here in the middle of lunch? Somehow she didn't think it would be all that appropriate, so her heart did it instead. The distress in his eyes that came with his admission however, was nothing to be cheered at. Guilt washed over her as her selfish response registered in her brain. This was why Brandon and Jamie had been so insistant that she take him out and keep him company.
"Was it because of Brandon and Jamie? They told me about what you did for them."
"Why it happened is of no consequence." Darius smiled and changed the topic with ease. "So, what sort of wardrobe to I require to exist in the American culture?"
"Oh, I've got some great ideas." Rachel responded as she took a bite of the delicious salad before her. She had a day planned for him.
"Why, Darius, maybe I made a mistake all those years ago, letting you go like that?" teased Jamie. Darius gave him a scathing look, and returned his attention back to the teal silk tie he was attempting to knot. "Who's the lucky lady?"
"Don't start, Jamie." Darius got ready to run his hand through his short hair, then stopped short when he realized that it would probably mess up what little he had. The dark charcoal grey suit fitted his tall form like a glove, the white shirt gleamed to perfection against his darker skin, the tie the only splash of color but drew attention to his eyes very nicely. "Do I look acceptable?"
"Acceptable for ravishing, my dear." Brandon drawled from the doorway. Darius shook his head. He doubted if he would ever become totally enured of their blatant sexual comments. He straightened his sleeves, pulled down the jacket, and stood there for approval.
"Tell us, Darius, who is she?" Jamie inquired.
"It's nothing special, Rachel asked me to go to a dinner hosted by the hospital. I told her I would be her, what is it you Americans say....her escort."
Jamie began to retort but the expression on Darius' face warned him off. The doorbell rang and Jamie went to answer it, while Darius spent a last minute to double-check everything. He was so sure that he would shame her in front of her collegues with his backward mannerisms and lack of social graces. He drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to control the rapid beating of his heart. He walked into the living room and was struck speechless at the vision there.
Rachel was dressed in a floor-length crimson silk dress that hugged every curve like a superior race car. Her raven tresses had been expertly piled atop her head with a few loose tendrils escaping to frame her face. A Renaissance master could not have done her justice this evening. He felt his heartbeat, his whole body quicken at the sight of her. She gave him a radiant smile. This was going to be a LONG evening.....