Chapter Sixteen: Confession of Another Love
'In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, I baptize thee…'
The Vicar, George Helsing, and the one that Anastasia came to respect the most, were baptizing Mrs. and Mr. Smith's five-month-old baby. Being sixty-five years old, his face never really showed the signs of age. He was always smiling, spreading his arms open to anyone who needed his help. He was, in her opinion, the kindest and the most generous vicar she had ever seen.
Now, he drew a cross on the baby, Ronald's forehead. The look when he looked down at the child showed so much love and affection that anyone would think that the baby was his. Nevertheless, when he handed Ronald back to the young couple, the whole church burst into applause.
A hand reached over her lap to clasp her hand. She looked beside her, and found Louis smiling at her. He squeezed her hand.
She knew Dorothea was watching them from her right side. Anastasia hadn't told her about the kiss with Louis. Well, to be honest, she hadn't discussed the kiss with Louis either. The two of them had just shyly smiled at each other and were extra polite to one another. But she needed to talk to Dorothea. Soon.
She smiled back at Louis, and turned her attention back to the Vicar standing on the podium, trying to concentrate on what he was saying. And then-
"Come on, Anastasia!" Alexander called up to her.
She was standing in front of a tall mirror, and was dressed in a white tunic sort of an Egyptian woman style.
She wanted to get back to the Church, to where John the Vicar was giving out the sermon…
And something was blocking the flash of... memory. It was like the vision turned on and off. The hand on Anastasia squeezed tighter…
"Anastasia, what on earth are you doing up there?" His voice was faint and faraway.
Then there was a figure in a black cloak, his hood up, hiding his face. She turned with a gasp
"Don't be scared, Anastasia. Come with me. You will regret it if you go downstairs to him."
She knew Alexander was waiting for her, and the thought of him waiting for someone who would never come, made her hesitate. The cloaked figure reached out a white gloved hand.
"Ana, you know me. You trusted me, and you still trust me. Please don't go downstairs. If you are not coming with me, at least swear to God you will not go to him."
The voice was familiar. She knew it from somewhere, but she couldn't quite recognize it now. She took a step toward the stranger-
"Ana, NO!" Alexander's voice sounded alarmed, "Don't. Please don't."
She flinched back, and clapped her hands to the side of her head. "Who are you? Who am I?"
The cloaked stranger was in front of her in the blink of an eye, and he caught her in his arms-
Someone was shaking her. She jerked back into reality.
The sermon was still going on, and John looked down at his Bible for reference. No one had noticed anything strange with her, but Dorothea and Louis were shaking her, their eyes wide with worry.
"Wha-what's the matter?"
Louis shifted uncomfortably.
"I asked you whether you would like to go somewhere else and, well…"
Dorothea seemed to think, it would better to tell her the truth. "You zoned out, Ana. It was like something that is invisible to us had got your attention. You just… you just stared in front of you. We shook you for like five minutes."
Louis put his hand on hers.
"Do you wanna go home, Ana? You look so pale. I can get you a doctor if you want."
"I…" Anastasia shook her head. "I am fine."
"Louis, I think you should get her out of here, nevertheless." Dorothea put a hand on her forehead. "I think she is coming down with flu or something. I will explain to John when he asks."
"Come on, Ana. Missing half of a sermon is not a big deal. Let's just go home honey, okay?"
He helped her up, and with John's curious eyes on their backs, they left the Church.
As soon as the sun gleamed down on her face, she realized how cold she was inside the Church. It was because of the vision, the memory. They were bothering her even when she was wide awake, now for God's sake. But the cloaked man… it was like he was helping her to get back to reality. Yet, he felt so familiar… and somehow Ana knew her sanity meant something to the stranger.
"You feeling okay?" Louis asked her, a gentle smile playing at his lips.
"Yes. It was so cold there, in the Church." There was no way she could explain him about the visions she had. It would just scare him. And she really couldn't afford to lose Louis. Not when she discovered that she cared about him.
He brushed her cheek with a thumb, his blue eyes twinkled as his blonde hair shimmered under the sunlight.
"You needn't be afraid of me, dearest Ana."
"I am not." She said quickly.
"I tell you, that you are." He said gently, "or you wouldn't have gone to bed so early recently, you wouldn't have avoided me at breakfast after the kiss, and you certainly wouldn't be standing here having this conversation with me."
"I didn't… I wasn't trying to avoid you, Louis. I really am not." She said quietly, "I didn't want to move too quickly, that's all. I mean, I never knew that I felt that way about you. And… well, I was not sure that you feel the same. And it didn't really matter. I just wanted to-"
"Ssh…" He shook his head and held her face in both hands. "Look at me, Ana. Please look at me."
She raised her eyes towards Louis' hypnotizing blue ones, and was startled at how intense they were.
"You are so wrong, you sweet little fool." He whispered lovingly. "I feel everything for you, everything that a man could feel for a woman. You may not realize it, but I felt that way for you long before you felt the same way for me. I was in love with a woman, who I thought would never respond to me, but now... Don't you understand? I look at you, and I know how it feels to be in love."
"I can give you the simple version, in case you are still not sure: I am…" He appeared to draw a deep breath, and his hold on her face loosened a little, as if he was sure that he will scare her. "I am so in love with you, Anastasia O'Johnson."
She gasped, and stared at him.
"You…you love me?"
"Yes Ana. I have always loved you. Only… you were busy with your attention elsewhere."
Alexander. Did he know about Alexander?
'No,' Ana told herself. Don't let your fantasy of Alexander ruin this. Louis loves you. Don't spoil it. Don't feel guilty about loving someone who is solid, whose feelings for you are solid. Let Alexander go.
She focused back on Louis, who was staring at her with a nervous look in his eyes. "I am sorry. I shouldn't-"
"No. No, I just needed a moment that's all. You don't know how much it is to hear those words from your mouth. The words that I have been wishing you would say for a very long time."
She put her hand on his shoulder and dragged it down his arm to entwine her fingers with his.
"Let's go home."