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Salvation in Death by J.D. Robb Read Online (FREE)

Salvation in Death Read Online

Read Salvation in Death (In Death, #27) by J.D. Robb full novel online free here.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. —MATTHEW 7:15

The faith that looks through death. —WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

 

1

AT THE MASS OF THE DEAD, THE PRIEST PLACED the wafer of unleavened bread and the cheap red wine on the linen corporal draping the altar. Both paten and chalice were silver. They had been gifts from the man inside the flower-blanketed coffin resting at the foot of the two worn steps that separated priest from congregation.

The dead had lived a hundred and sixteen years. Every day of those years he’d lived as a faithful Catholic. His wife had predeceased him by a mere ten months, and every day of those ten months he’d grieved for her.

Now his children, grandchildren, great- and great-great-grandchildren filled the pews of the old church in Spanish Harlem. Many lived in the parish, and many more returned to it to mourn, and to pay their respects. Both his surviving brothers attended the rite, as did cousins, nieces, nephews, friends, and neighbors, en „so the living packed those pews, the aisles, the vestibule to honor the dead with the ancient rite.

Hector Ortiz had been a good man, who’d led a good life. He’d died peacefully in his bed, surrounded by photographs of his family and the many images of Jesus, Mary, and his favorite saint, Lawrence. St. Lawrence had been grilled to death for his faith and in the way of irony became the patron saint of restaurateurs.

Hector Ortiz would be missed; he would be mourned. But the long, good life and easy death lent a flavor of peace and acceptance to the Requiem Mass—and those who wept shed the tears more for themselves than for the departed. Their faith assured them, the priest thought, of Hector Ortiz’s salvation. And as the priest performed the ritual, so familiar, he scanned the faces of the mourners. They looked to him to lead them in this final tribute.

Flowers and incense and the smoking wax of candles mixed and merged their scents in the air. A mystical fragrance. The smell of power and presence.

The priest solemnly bowed his head over the symbols of flesh and blood before washing his hands.

He’d known Hector, and in fact had heard his confession—his last, as it came to be—only a week before. So, Father Flores mused as the congregation rose, the penance had been the last Hector had been given.

Flores spoke to the congregation, and they to him, the familiar words of the Eucharistic Prayer, and through to the Sanctus.

“Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.”

The words and those following were sung, as Hector had loved the music of the Mass. Those mixed voices rose up, tangling in the magically scented air. The congregation knelt—a baby’s fretful wail, a dry cough, rustles, whispers—for the Consecration.

The priest waited for them to quiet, for the silence. For the moment.