William Neilsen grew up on a farm next to The Abbey of the Falls. When his parents died in a tragic car accident while he was a teenager, the abbot agreed to offer a home to William, in exchange for him taking care of the farm, the produce from which fed the monks. The excess was to be sold in the abbey store and cheese and wine shop. William was happy living at the abbey. However, he never felt a religious calling to become a monk and the abbot never pressured him to do so.
Although he loves working in the fields and with the animals, it becomes too much for William to do alone. William asks the abbot for help and his request is answered when a young man, Samuel Drake, joins the abbey. William is confused both by his feelings for Samuel and Samuel’s open and flirtatious behavior towards him. Samuel isn’t like any postulant William has ever known, but he doesn’t feel comfortable quizzing the young man about the nature of his calling to become a monk.
William’s discomfort and guilt intensify as his relationship with Samuel becomes more emotional and then physical. Although William hasn’t taken a vow of chastity, that is Samuel’s eventual goal. Or is it? Do William and Samuel have a stronger calling?
That morning he’d gone out to the field and checked to make sure the bales he’d done the day before were dry enough to bring to the barn. Finding they were, he brought a load in.
It was a hot day -- hotter yet in the hayloft where he was stacking the bales. On such days, those that worked at outside jobs had permission to remove their woolen robes and work in their tunics. William had taken advantage of the exemption.
However, today he’d gone a step further and also removed his tunic so that he was clad only in his baggy undergarment and heavy work boots, thus revealing his amply muscled torso and sturdy tree trunk legs. His manly physique was glistening with sweat as he hefted the sixty-pound bales into six high stacks in the sweltering heat of the hayloft.
He’d nearly finished when Skip and Joe began barking. Someone was calling from outside the barn.
“William ... William, are you in there?”
“Damn,” William muttered, remembering he’d left his tunic and robes on the barn floor.
“William? Hello!” the voice came again.
“Hang on! I’m coming, I’m coming!”
William grabbed a guide rope, used for hoisting heavy objects into the loft, and swung, Tarzan-style, to the barn floor.
An astonished Brother Terrance and an equally astounded young man gaped at him. The young man stood up slowly from where he’d been kneeling, petting the collies in the huge sunlit doorway.
William stared back at the pair, embarrassed by his dramatic entrance and state of undress. His heart skipping a beat, William realized immediately this handsome, young man must be the new postulant.
“Hello,” William said sheepishly. He pointed vaguely to the loft. “I’ve ... uh ... I’ve been stacking hay, and ... um ... well it’s pretty hot up there.”
Brother Terrance chuckled. “Yes, we can see that.”
He gestured toward William’s sweat covered body. A thick rug of hair was plastered to his chest. It glistened in the sunlight that filtered in from the doorway.
“That was quite an entrance!” Brother Terrance pronounced, still chuckling.
“Forgive me,” William mumbled.
“No problem,” the young man said in a tone that suggested he felt William had no need to apologize in the slightest.
The man was dressed in civilian clothes: Levis, sneakers, and a tight-fitting, blue, sleeveless T-shirt with a college logo. The shirt revealed the man’s well-muscled arms and chest.
While both men were well-built and handsome, the newcomer was the antithesis of William in several ways. He was shorter than William by several inches and was built like a gymnast -- whereas William was tall and could have played linebacker on any pro football team. The young man had longish, wavy, black hair and was clean shaven. As did most of the inhabitants of the abbey, William had a beard. William’s beard was blond and close-cropped. So was his hair. The new postulant had piercing blue eyes. William’s were a warm brown.
Sam took a step forward, smiling with hand outstretched.
“I’m Sam. Sam Drake.”
William took the hand and felt as if a bolt of lightning had struck him.