Marrying the Mobster - Victoria Vale



“Bless me Padre, for I have sinned. It’s been four weeks since my last confession.”

Through the lattice of the confessional booth, I make out the profile of Father Moya. His shadow perks up when he recognizes my voice.

“Tell me your sins, mi hijo,” he replies in a lightly accented voice. The sanctuary is empty except for us—a priest and a penitent. A saint and a sinner.

“When I leave here, I will spill a man’s blood.”

There’s surprise in Father Moya’s voice when he responds. “You confess to a sin not yet committed?”

“The church is on my way. I needed to get this one off my chest before I go on with the rest of my week.”

“I see,” the father replies. “It isn’t too late to change your mind. Murder is a mortal sin that grieves the heart of God.”

“Ecclesiastes 3,” I recite. “‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heavens. A time to be born, and a time to die. A time to sow and a time to reap. A time to kill…’”

Father Moya lets out a low chuckle. He knows better than anyone that despite the things I’ve done—what I’ve become—I know the words of The Bible from cover to cover. My mother made sure of it from the time I learned to read.

“Tell me,” the priest says, shifting on his bench. “Why do you want to kill this man?”

“I lent him money. He has yet to pay it back, despite my graciously offering several extensions.”

I don’t add that my grace came with a side of intimidation and threats. No one steals from me and gets away with it. Santiago Aguilar has already signed his own death warrant.

“Proverbs 11:4: ‘Wealth is worth nothing in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.’”

Huffing a laugh, I adjust my position on the kneeling bench. “I think we both know I left the path of righteousness a long time ago, Padre. I’ve committed enough of the mortal sins to damn myself for several lifetimes.”

“It is never too late for a man to give his life over to God … to repent and change his ways.”

“You know that isn’t an option for me.”

Confidentiality be damned, Father Moya knows me better than most. His history with the Pérez family is long and intimate. He was a close confidante of my father. My parents’ wedding was held in this very church, with him presiding. The priest also baptized both me and my little sister.

“I understand,” Father Moya says. “But our Lord is a god of mercy. Before becoming an apostle, Paul was known as Saul, and his foul deeds were displeasing to God. If Paul can be forgiven, so can you.”

“That’s all well and good, but I’m still going to kill this man. Letting someone get away with outright theft makes me look weak to both my enemies and allies. My father left his empire in my hands. It’s my duty to care for it.”

“A true leader does what he thinks is right, and those who trust and follow him will understand. Those who don’t never respected him to begin with. Are you contrite about this deed?”

“I’m sorry the man has to die. I don’t particularly enjoy killing, but I won’t ask another man to do something I wouldn’t. Sometimes killing is necessary.”

“Are you resolved never to do it again?”

“You know I can’t promise you that.”

“Your penance is as follows,” Father Moya says. “You will show kindness and mercy to this man before touching your weapon. You must ask yourself whether there is another way to solve your problem without spilling his blood.”

Frustration makes me grit my teeth. Show mercy to Santiago Aguilar? The man’s an oily cheat and a liar. Loaning him money in the first place was a terrible idea—one that makes me look like a fool.

“Fine,” I grumble. I might be a sinner, but I never shun my penance.

Father Moya then recites a prayer of absolution over me, then we both perform the sign of the cross.

I stand up, looping my onyx and silver crucifix around my neck. “Until next time, Padre.”

“Go in peace and with God, mi hijo.”

I stride toward the open double doors and out through the vestibule. Pausing on the top step, I close my eyes and take a deep, cleansing breath. The humid Miami air floods my senses as I consider my penance. By the time I reach the black Rolls-Royce idling at the curb, I’m still not certain I’m up for