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   Chapter 27 The Lip-pierced Man

SANCTUM By JMFelic Characters: 18016

Updated: 2018-08-28 21:19


After a heavenly encounter inside their suite, a change of scenery was in order to bring them both down to Earth, and the town of Polignano A Mare was the perfect place for it.

The town was located a kilometer away from the hotel, so after checking out, Father Azrael and Aurora headed towards the place using the fast Corvette. Inside the trunk were the clothing that they bought last night in the mini department store and the used clothes they wore yesterday that they intended now to drop in a nearby laundry shop.

Aurora was wearing the flower-printed maxidress and the white scarf wrapped around her neck. Father Azrael was wearing a black collared shirt and denim pants. Any passersby could never guess that they were an odd couple, and no one could even suspect that the man was a priest with the common clothing he wore.

The town of Polignano A Mare being a commune had a decent population with its residents mainly depending on tourism, agriculture and fishing as their main sources of living. Their houses were mainly made of concrete blocks and bricks built on the edge of a craggy ravine. Pockmarked with caves, the small town used to be an important ancient settlement, but now in modern times, it became a bustling tourist haven considering it was next to a major body of water, the Adriatic Sea. Its mountain plains shelter the famous grape vineyard. Dark blue, lime green, black and red grapes can be found here. However, the townsfolk have exhausted the vineyard in order to celebrate the wine festival.

Father Azrael eyed a vacant parking lot next to a bakery building and it was where they parked the car. They continued their way on foot towards the open square along with a handful of tourists holding with them their cameras. By the time they reached in the cobblestone-covered piazza, they were greeted with boisterous laughter in the air and the sound of energetic music produced by lovely Italian singers accompanied with the banjo and flute instruments.

Everyone was in merriment. The place too looked very much like a grand festival with banderitas and flaglets hung in the roofs and all around the town plaza.

Aurora couldn't believe what she saw when they made their way into a spacious area next to a brick well. Exactly thirty burly men were lined up in the center of the square. Lifted by their muscular arms were heavy, fully-loaded baskets with ripe grapes in it. Then, another line of women mostly in their forties came into the center bringing with them two vats each, a meter wide, and placed them in front of the men.

The loud clanging of bells were heard from a few meters away and almost immediately, the women ululated in rhythm. The musicians changed the lively tune to a much faster beat. Then, the women started pulling on chosen tourists, mostly young ladies in their twenties into the corner of the brick well.

Aurora was surprised too when one of the women tugged her arm.

"Venire! Venire!" said the woman with excitement, pulling her with force.

She appeared confused and looked at Father Azrael who was already smiling at her.

"What are they doing?" Aurora asked quickly, standing on a guarded pose.

"Go. You will see. Just let her guide you, " answered Father Azrael.

"But Cirrus?!"

By now, two women came to the first woman's rescue and successfully pulled Aurora out from the crowd. She turned to her back and gave the priest a worried look, but he only smiled some more, amused to see the different cute expressions she was showing.

Father Azrael saw the first woman guiding Aurora to sit in a stool. Then, another woman came near them with a basin full of lukewarm water and a bottle of lavender soap. Although Aurora appeared to be perplexed with what they were doing, she nevertheless allowed them to work around her.

The first woman took Aurora's sandals off and then the second quickly dipped her feet on the basin.

Aurora immediately became aware of its reason. Of course. Father Azrael said last night that maidens like her were encouraged to stomp on the grapes to make wine. Stomping the grapes definitely required a clean feet. It was the traditional way which the town had been doing for over centuries. This was also the very reason why tourists flocked in the place to try the experience and have fun at the same time.

The woman's hands tickled Aurora's feet as she rubbed her soles and toes with the lavender soap. Aurora opened her mouth to gasp with the funny sensation, but then closed it when she saw people already staring at her. Well, all of the chosen ladies were actually being stared at, so it was no big deal. However, for Aurora, one person seemed to focus his attention solely on her, and this person seemed to be snickering pretty damn well.

'That damn demon!' she shouted in her mind. 'He is definitely enjoying the scene!'

She shot him a cold glare to which Father Azrael bent his head in apology.

She made a mental note to berate him later.

She was definitely ticklish in that part of her body. Very much.

Being in a public place meant that she should show proper decorum so there was no other way, but to hold her breath every time the woman vigorously rubbed her feet.

The first woman disappeared for a moment and then returned with a bulky man on her side. Aurora didn't understand what his part was with all of the process, but for Father Azra

up arrived, Collete herself took the liberty of choosing their table. It was near the railing, and Aurora could see the violent waves from below. As scary as it looked, it was still a breathtaking scene to watch.

For a butler of his caliber, Eriol somehow seemed to act casually in front of them. Duke Heilwig was his master, so obviously, his daughter too was his, but why is he sitting right beside her like she had no rank in his eyes? Something seemed odd and Aurora felt that right to the core of her bone.

As they waited for their lunch to be served, Collete seized the opportunity asking Aurora the same questions that his father had asked her. Aurora gave her the same answer, but without the tears of regret. Collete seemed to be engrossed with her stories and Aurora too with hers, and immediately, they synced, laughing and chatting as if they were the only ones in the table.

It seemed that Duke Heilwig was right. They will be the best of friends. Father Azrael commented that in his mind.

He was happy just listening to them talk, keeping a mental note about their conversations, but still keeping his guard up, especially towards the man opposite him.

Eriol seemed distant since they arrived inside the restaurant. But, there was one moment when Father Azrael caught him grinning for no apparent reason on Aurora's way.

"Eriol, are you Collete's guardian too?" Father Azrael asked out-of-the-blue, cutting the women's conversation. They eyed the two men and realized that they had been so rude ignoring them for the last fifteen minutes.

"Yes, you can call it like that, " Eriol answered idly.

"You know Father, Eriol here is absolutely good with martial arts. I think that's why father made him my bodyguard at the same time, " Collete stated.

"Really?" He quirked an eyebrow.

"You are a beautiful young woman, Collete. Uncle was right to give you a bodyguard who could protect you at all times, " Aurora commented, then sipped her glass of water.

"And how about you, big sis? You mentioned Father Azrael here as your guardian. I didn't know that Vatican priests are allowed to do that. I thought they are only limited with either office work or church duties."

'Such a smart girl, ' Father Azrael thought.

Aurora gave him a questioning look. Sensing her mild distress, he decided to answer the question for her.

"Hmmm... your father could enlighten you with that, Collete. You might know the answer tonight at the villa. Didn't your father tell you we were staying in your house for two days?"

"Ah, yes, he did! I am actually excited with the prospect when I was told about it last night, " she answered, instantly forgetting about the first topic.

Aurora sipped her glass of water the second time. She was nervous suddenly. Just looking at Eriol makes her remember the lip-pierced man she saw earlier. She knew she wasn't dreaming. She was well aware that he was as real as the grapes she was stomping, but in just a split-second of unfocus on her part, he was suddenly gone, as if he was like a flash of lightning. Eriol's features were amazingly similar with the man's too. Seeing him this close gave her more assurance of it. It was just, Eriol looked a lot younger than the man. Probably, if the man's age was thirty, Eriol would fit in the twenty-five to twenty-six range.

Wait. A sudden thought crossed her mind. She actually didn't know Cirrus' human birthday and how old he is too.

She glanced at him who was drinking his champagne coolly and made a mental note at the back of her mind to ask him later about it.

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