I stepped inside and paused a moment in the gloom to examine the row of votives in red and green glass holders. Although I wasn't Catholic, the intimacy of the close room and flickering lights calmed me. I removed my hat, shoved it in the pocket of my jacket, and headed into the nave.
I saw no one I knew, not even Father Cash, and for a moment I wondered if I was at the wrong funeral. I had forgotten to look for a program on my way in, but there was a sign with a photograph and flowers by the closed coffin at the front of the church, so I made my way forward, as self-conscious as though this were my own funeral and I was sneaking in, hoping to go unnoticed.
The enlarged photo of Sella showed a pretty girl of about nine or ten, wearing a pink dress and beaming at the camera. Father Cash must not have had a more recent picture, and Sella probably hadn't brought any photos with her in her flight from home. I gazed into the brown eyes of the honey-skinned little girl and wondered how such a cheerful-looking child became in just a few short years the sullen, nearly catatonic teenager who could barely stir herself from Father Cash's sofa.
"Life is full of strange turns."
I looked around and was met by the same arresting blue gaze I had seen on the dock when they brought Sella's body to shore. "You read my thoughts."
The fisherman shrugged his heavy shoulders in their boxy jacket. "It's the obvious conclusion in a situation like this." He stuck out his hand. "Cade Dermott. Sorry I didn't properly introduce myself the first time."
"I think we were both a little preoccupied." I shook his hand. "Judith McGillum. I'm Father Cash's neighbor."
Cade nodded. "I wondered what the relationship was."
I wasn't sure how to answer this, and just then the music started. I glanced around for any clues that there were special seating arrangements.
"I think we can sit anywhere," Cade said.
Of course. With no friends or family of the deceased, other than Father Cash, why not let people sit where they wanted? Lacking any better ideas, I followed Cade to a pew a few rows from the front, empty except for a couple of thin gray women at the far end, who looked to be recipients of Father Cash's charitable efforts. We took our seats, and Cade removed a spindled program from his pocket. I glanced over his shoulder and saw that it would be a fairly simple ceremony. As simple as the Catholics could make it, that is, what with the full Mass and all.
I was searching my memory, trying to remember a few of the responses to the Mass from the couple of times I had been to a Catholic service back home, when a movement at the front of the church caught my eye. Father Cash, solemn in a black suit but not daring to wear his renegade priest's collar, had emerged from a room behind the altar and was taking his seat on the front pew. I wondered if he had seen me, then let the thought pass. No doubt he was worrying about his sister and wishing he had the authority to perform today's ceremony himself. I was the farthest thing from his mind, and that was for the best.
Beside me, Cade leaned in and whispered in my ear. "That's the uncle, right?"
"I've seen him around my neighborhood. Nice guy. Brings food to people who are old and can't get out."
I nodded again, but although my gaze was fixed firmly on Father Cash, it was Cade that I was thinking of. He was warm and solid, his muscles tight underneath the cheap suit. I had been with so many men for money since arriving in Cold Haven that I had thought myself immune to them, but there was something about Cade's presence that calmed and comforted me, as if I were one of those flickering votives in the vestibule; a weak light with only a little warmth, but still real, still alive. Had the moment continued even a second longer, I might've slipped my hand into his like a child thirsting for comfort and connection. Instead, Father Cash turned his head and locked eyes with mine. I sucked in my breath, grabbed the nearest hymnal, and cast my eyes on the first page I opened it to.
How great are the works of the Lord.