‘Now, after what I just told you concerning this little tale of the young couple, who can tell me exactly what Jesus says about premarital sex?’ Reverend Martin posed in his light Southern drawl to his congregation seated in front of him, all eyes held upon his lips and their minds dutifully soaking in every word. His sturdy baritone voice reverberated across the wooden interior of the chapel with only the faintest help from his collar microphone. ‘I’ll give y’all a hint, the answer lies somewhere in 1 Thessalonians and don’t be afraid, I’m not asking for a dissertation from anyone this morning.’
The eyes belonging to the young woman on the right side of the aisle in the fifth row from the front broke away from the pastor’s place at the raised podium and scanned the church. The turnout was the usual; just about all of the aged oak pews were occupied with pious members of the community ranging from mostly well-behaved young children stuffed in a mother’s definition of Sunday best to the elderly, faithful adherents to the Lord’s teachings ever since they were themselves the former’s age.
She saw Martin’s gaze panning across the people as he looked for an assistant to answer his question. She easily picked out various prominent figures among them as they both scanned the group. Miss Dougherty from the community outreach center sat near the front in a wide yellow hat adorned with daffodils to match her dress, and across from her on the other side of the aisle a few rows back the local pediatrician Dr. Arnold sat straight in a light charcoal suit cinched by a bright green bolo tie. Other pillars of the town filled out the rest of the room, yet the two’s distinctive outfits focused the woman’s attention. The reverend himself was dressed in a dark suit with black undershirt and only a mote of blue on his tie and a dove on his lapel. The thirty-something man was a focal point of solemnness contrasted with the beige wall behind him with stained-glass windows depicting Christ in various Biblical scenes. His deep voice carried a weight beyond his age and the posture and demeanor with which he preached enraptured his audience.
‘Miss Daisy Graham, perhaps you could enlighten us on this fine morning.’ Martin’s attention fell on the woman and his characteristic smile beamed upon speaking her name as it did upon addressing all members of his flock.
Daisy was a shy woman when called upon. While she was most definitely a willing participant every Sunday morning, she felt apprehensive and nervous upon being selected by the reverend despite having the upmost respect and admiration for him. His questions including this one tended to be softballs, yet she always remained afraid of embarrassing herself in front of him despite her frequent dives into Scripture. Martin’s voice felt to her ears like gentle music, yet as deep, strong and supportive as a bundle of lumber. She wanted to lose herself in it.
‘Reverend, God says that we should abstain from sexual immorality and to control themselves in holiness, unlike the Gentiles in their passion of lust,’ she stood up and answered. The twenty-year-old roughly paraphrased the verse in Thessalonians; not a bad attempt for only once witnessing the verse on the projector twenty or so minutes prior. Her own accented voice did not match the pastor’s in tone, yet complimented with femininity befitting a Southern woman her age.
‘Very good, Daisy.’ Martin applauded with the same grin. ‘God teaches us that sex is a holy thing to be shared by a man and woman united in holy matrimony, and that laying with one another before that time is a sin.’
She returned to her seat as he continued onwards with his sermon, speaking not from the Bible but from his own teachings. Warm with his approval, her pale cheeks flushed and her legs shivered under her dress. Any discussion relating to sex made her hot. She was only twenty; she couldn’t help it.
Daisy stared at the ceiling briefly, watching two circular fans lazily blow around hot air circulating throughout the chapel. She felt a few drops of sweat carry themselves down her lower back and down her tits beneath her sundress as she became acutely aware of the heat from the bodies contained within in addition to her internal temperature.
As Reverend Martin continued to speak, she returned her attention to him. She was able to clearly see his hands clasp the edges of the podium with sincerity and grit as he carried on with his message. His fingers revealed traces of roughness and a hint of a scar; she was told once that he grew up working in a logging yard before he turned to preaching. The long sleeves of his suit coat exposed a few inches of a toned forearm wrapped in dark hair as his hands moved to the top. Martin’s speech devolved from discernable words to a gentle rhythm in her mind as Daisy’s eyes began to trace their way from his fingers up to his arm and back down again.
‘And that, my lovely sheep, is where we will leave off for today. God be with you all and may He bless each and every one of you as you brave the challenges of life.’ After an uncertain amount of time passed, Daisy’s mind returned to the present as Reverend Martin ended his sermon with his signature farewell and closed his Bible.
The congregation slowly began to stand up all according to their individual ability and file out of the church as a pre-recorded Gospel hymn played out over two large speakers mounted in the ceiling over the pews. Her mother and father seated on her right stood up and beckoned for her to follow suit.
Daisy’s eyes followed the minister as he began to put away his speaking aids and turned to a church administrator discussing matters she couldn’t divine. It was only when her father addressed her that she was able to break away.
‘You did well answering this morning, Daisy.’ He spoke with a clipped tone that left no room for nonsense and was straight to the point. ‘You should be proud of yourself for your devotion to the Lord.’
‘He’s right, honey,’ her mother added. ‘You’ve had an answer every time he’s called on you, and I can hear you every night in your room saying your prayers.’
Daisy nodded in affirmation, and while it was true she appreciated how far she had come in the eyes of religion, she couldn’t help but feel a twinge of neglect. Both of them were always quick to praise her in anything relating to religious matters, yet in almost everything else from when she was in school, playing sports or even her current job at the local grocery store, silence was far more common. She had since graduated high school over two years ago
She and her family exited the large double doors into the bright morning sunlight. Daisy brought her hand to her face and shielded her eyes, brushing aside her blonde hair. The air outside was notably cooler than the chapel and she experienced the heat leave her body as the sweat evaporated from her bosom and ass.
Daisy wouldn’t exactly describe herself as overdeveloped, but a consistent regime of running and playing tennis had gifted her with an athletic body and a figure that would catch the eye of any young man around. Although the teachings of the church lay foremost in her mind concerning dating, she smiled contentedly to herself whenever she caught a sidelong glance from one of them.
‘Daisy, may I please see you for a second?’ The familiar voice of the reverend called out to her from within the church and lifted her spirits.
‘Sure thing!’ Her parents kept walking to the parking lot as she half-ran back inside. ‘What do you need, Reverend?’
‘I just wanted to make sure you didn’t have an issue with helping me out with getting set up for the youth group tonight.’ Martin greeted her with his smile once again and she could see his gleaming brown eyes. Daisy experienced the familiar feeling of her cheeks reddening, although this time not from the lacking performance of the church’s ventilation system.
‘Oh, that’s tonight at 7:30, correct?’ She made a final check in her head that it wouldn’t conflict with her grocery store scheduling and was relieved to find that it did not.
‘That would be it Daisy; you are correct.’ He pulled back on his sleeve to check his watch. ‘It shouldn’t last more than an hour or so, maybe a bit longer.’
‘No, I’m perfectly fine for tonight, and my parents are completely fine with it.’ They readily accepted any chance for her to embed herself further within the church and rarely questioned any meeting between her and the reverend.
‘Sounds fantastic, I will see you here then.’ With a wave, he bid her farewell and she joined her parents in the car.
The abrupt sound of the hot water released from the shower head immediately filled the small bathroom, and the steam arrived a short time later.
Daisy started at the top; she poured lavender shampoo and ran her slender hands through her shoulder-length straw-colored hair and angled her face towards the torrent. Her sky blue eyes closed as she felt the calming heat pass over and around her naked body.