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sin can make a better man

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She's trying not to think about this.

Tries ignoring the oh-too-familiar young man in black, no shock of white at his pale throat this time, just black turtleneck black slacks black loafers, tried and true uniform of the (irregular) new movement that Smitty and Kurt and Joyce (and, God, even Stan) will always be far more comfortable in than she ever will.

(The last time she saw Father Gill was at Christmas mass years ago, pale and subdued behind the Monsignor at the altar. If she hadn't been making so deliberate an effort to not look at him, she might have noticed him trying - and failing - to attempt the same.)

She'd love to focus on something else - a line of copy that needs smoothed just a little more, ideally - but only weakly manages to move as far as that old joke Gerry likes telling on occasion, one he probably heard from Jack Benny or Red Skelton (or, more likely, one of the less creative guys at The Spit 'N Whistle on Eighth). Young priest in elaborate surplice and cassock, swinging his incense pot, is on his way to the service. Gets stopped by female member of the parish. "Darling, I love your dress, but your purse is on fire!" Laughter, applause, repeat.

Of course he recognizes her. Not only that, but moves closer, mouth split in a too wide grin, as if their last conversation didn't end along the lines of, "Sorry, but I think you might be going to Hell."

A handshake is only awkward formality, but when he slides his hand over hers, there's an unpleasant little jump in her stomach, dangerous and appealing all at once, and she's suddenly thinking of when they first met: the way he looked at her, slow and hard and thorough. Curious.

Sizing her up like he was trying to figure out how she worked.

"Peggy," he says softly (she's older, now, she's heard her name spoken in the same tone hellbent on persuasion before, and she wants to laugh).

Let me tell you something: the Catholic church knows how to sell things.