The stained glass windows turned the sunlight into rainbows inside the cathedral. Rose stood just inside the closed doors. She was there for sanctuary and her nerves were stretched as tight as they could be. He had chased her across over four states now. It was time to admit he would not stop until she was dead. The priest had told her to wait in the sanctuary for him before he left for the offices. Rose didn’t feel safe – doubted she ever would again – but she had been raised to trust the church. Her mother had always taught her the church would keep her safe. Now she was going to put that to the test.
She walked on into the sunlit room, feeling a calm roll over her. Instead of going all the way to the front pews, she stopped about the middle of the cathedral and sat at the end of one of them. Her mother’s teachings had her making the sign of the cross before sitting and fidgeting once she had. She was the only person in the building. That alone was something she hadn’t felt in more than a year. He had been chasing her across the country from town to town since that day.
As she sat there worrying about him finding her, the door at the side of the building behind the altar opened. The priest came through, making sure the door was shut behind him. “Miss Rose?” He said.
Rose lifted her head, letting her eyes track his progress toward her. “Father,” she said.
He sat next to her. “He will not find you here. That I can promise you. But I need you to tell me why he is after you.” He gently placed a hand on her shoulder. In that slight movement, she found the comfort she was needing.
Folding her hands in her lap, she began to speak. “He was the man my father ordered me to marry the day I turned eighteen.” She sighed, then continued, “at the beginning he was a kind man. Or so I thought. Within the first month of our marriage, he became a monster. A man who could only live a happy life if he had ultimate control over his bride. He cut me off from everyone and everything that mattered to me. He would beat me if I questioned him, and worse, he would threaten my family.” The words fell from her lips as tears fell from her eyes.
The priest tilted his head back and stared at the ornate ceiling for a few breaths. “I understand the idea of an arranged marriage, but only if the match is fair to both sides. If there is abuse or a complete mismatch, it shouldn’t be gone through with.”
Rose smiled. “What do you think I should do?” She asked.
He looked toward the main door. “Stay here. We have enough space that you won’t be a bother.”
The door rattled. Rose shifted where she was sitting. The priest stood and walked to the door. “No one with bad intentions can enter this sanctuary.” He said as he reached the door. He pushed it open. There was no one there. The front stoop was empty, along with the street in front of the cathedral.
He stepped out onto the concrete and the door closed, locking him outside.
Rose stood and moved toward the front of the cathedral. She wanted as far from the door as possible. She spared just enough time to send up a prayer that the priest was safe outside before moving behind the altar. The sun was setting, turning the light from the stained glass windows into darkness. She tucked herself into one of the alcoves at the back of the cathedral.
The door slammed open, shaking the walls of the building. In the opening of the door, stood her worst nightmare. The man who was her husband. His voice echoed as he spoke. “Rose, did you really think you would get away from me?”
She refused to answer him. There was no way she was going to let him know where she was hiding. The sound of his footsteps chilled her. She knew this time he was going to kill her and there was nothing she could do to stop him. His footsteps got closer and louder. He was only a few feet from her now. These were her last moments.