I Never Want To Hurt You

by ANNE (the insane one)

Summary: This is set a little after the start of Season 3. Assumpta and Peter have admitted their feelings to each other and Peter has approached Father Mac for a discussion, although Fr Mac isn't aware of what the discussion is about. The romance is being kept under wraps for the moment, but an event causes Assumpta to rethink and reassess the major step she is about to take in her life.

"This is crazy," Assumpta murmured, as Peter trailed small kisses down her neck. "You're supposed to be helping me bring a carton up and instead we're making out like a couple of teenagers with a full bar up there!"

Peter returned to her mouth and kissed her gently. "I know, I'm sorry. But it has been a while since we've been alone."

Assumpta sighed. "I know." Reluctantly she pulled herself away. "But if we don't get this upstairs now, people are going to wonder what's going on down here.

They indulged in one last kiss and Peter took the carton from her. Assumpta took another carton and they made their way upstairs.

"There you are," Padraig said. "We were wondering if we were going to have to send out a search party!"

Assumpta threw Peter a look and he smiled slightly.

"I couldn't find the box I wanted," Assumpta lied.

Brendan raised an eyebrow but went back to his paper nevertheless.

Niamh burst in the door and sat down at the bar. "A lager please, Assumpta. A large one."

Assumpta looked at her oddly as she poured the drink. "Trouble on the home front?"

Niamh groaned. "Ambrose is driving me nuts! He's gotten himself a hobby!"

"That's nice," Peter commented. "It's good that he's doing something other than police work."

Niamh nodded. "It might be, if he hadn't chosen such an awful hobby!"

"What's he doing?" Siobhan asked.

"He's building things out of paddle pop sticks! I swear, we are living in a paddle pop stick house. He's built a paddle pop stick house, a paddle pop stick barn, and now he's working on a paddle pop stick grocery. He says when he's finished the town he wants to build a paddle pop stick fun fair!"

The group burst into laughter. Peter noticed Niamh's cranky look and stopped.

"Niamh, have you told Ambrose that you don't like his new hobby?"

Niamh nodded. "Yes. Twice. The first time he looked so hurt I didn't want to mention it again, and the second time he blew up saying that I had always badgered him to get a hobby and now that he's got one I don't like it." She gulped down the rest of her drink. "I best be getting home. For all I know, he could be building baby furniture out of paddle pop sticks." She slid off the chair and went back out the door.

"Wouldn't work," Donal said from his chair.

Padraig glanced at him. "What wouldn't work?"

"Baby furniture out of paddle pop sticks. They wouldn't be able to support the baby."

Liam groaned. "Eejit."


The group began to trickle out of the pub until Brendan and Peter were the only ones left. Brendan got up and glanced at Peter, who was slowly sipping his beer.

"I think I might get off home now," Brendan said, watching Peter carefully.

"Night Brendan," Assumpta replied from the kitchen, where she was cleaning up.

"Night Brendan," Peter nodded.

Brendan was a bit curious, but passed it off. "You coming Father?"

"I'll just finish my pint," Peter replied. "But you go on ahead. I'll see you tomorrow."

Brendan nodded slightly and folding up his paper, left the bar. Assumpta waited for the door to shut and she came out to the bar area and locked the door. She leant up against it for awhile, as the two watched each other.

"Four days," she murmured, walking over to him. "Four days since we've been alone." She sighed as he wrapped his arms around her. "This is driving me crazy. I've never been like this."

Peter kissed the top of her head. "We are in a slightly unusual situation."

Assumpta leaned up and met his lips as she wrapped her arms around his neck. He pulled her closer and encircled her small waist as the kiss deepened.


It was late the next day when Brendan walked into the bar, looking for Assumpta. Siobhan and Padraig were already there, as was Niamh. Ambrose was at home building.

"What can I get you?" Assumpta asked, juggling a plate of sandwiches and a beer.

"Has Peter been in here tonight?"

Assumpta stood still. "No. Why?"

"I really think someone should find him."

Assumpta went pale. "Why? What happened?"

"I needed to talk to Fr Mac about something and I spoke to his secretary who sort of let slip."

Assumpta was worried. What on earth could he be on about? Surely he didn't know?

"Let what slip?" Niamh asked.

Brendan sighed. "It's not really my place to tell."

Padraig folded his arms. "What's the matter? You've practically told us that something's wrong. We're either going to needle you or Peter, and the way you're acting it's probably better to be you."

Brendan sat down at the bar. "Pint, please Assumpta."

Assumpta had never pulled a pint that quick in her life. She handed him the glass and watched him expectantly.

Brendan took a sip. "Fr Mac threw Peter out."

Siobhan raised an eyebrow. "Out of the house?"

Assumpta felt a knot in her stomach. She was afraid of what Brendan was going to say next.

"Out of the clergy."

The room was silent. Assumpta felt sick and sat down.

"Why?" Padraig asked, finally broaching the question that was on everyone's lips.

"He was given the choice to leave voluntarily from Ballyk, or be thrown out. He wouldn't leave Ballyk."

"That's not an answer," Siobhan pressed.

"Someone let the Bishop know that for some time, Peter's been involved in an affair."

"Fr Clifford?" Niamh said, raising an eyebrow. "It seems strange to me."

Brendan shrugged and sipped again. "I should go find him."

"Brendan?" Assumpta stopped him. "Did they say who the woman was?"

Brendan shook his head. "No. They don't know and I don't think Fr Mac cares."

Siobhan got off her seat. "I'll come help you find him, Brendan."

"Thanks all the same, but I think I'll go on my own. He'll probably be a bit upset."

"Try the grotto," Assumpta said, without thinking. "I know he goes there sometimes to think."

Under the circumstances, no one even bothered to wonder how Assumpta knew that. Brendan nodded his thanks and left the pub. And so the gossip began.


Brendan leant his bicycle up against a post and studied the man that sat by the grotto. Peter Clifford looked exhausted, and Brendan wondered how long he'd been there.

"Morning, Peter."

Peter looked up at the intrusion on his solitude and smiled slightly. "Hello, Brendan."

"I was getting worried about you."


Brendan sat down beside him. "I know what happened at Fr Mac's this morning."

"Ah," Peter replied quietly. He looked up. "Who else knows?"

"Siobhan, Padraig, Niamh and Assumpta. But I think it will get around fast even without them knowing."

Peter nodded. "You said Assumpta knows?"

Brendan nodded. "Mhm. She suggested I might find you here."

"Did she," Peter replied, a little hurt that she hadn't come herself.

"Peter, things like this can be fought. What proof could they possibly have that would make Fr Mac do something like this?"

"Photos," Peter replied.

Brendan stopped for a moment. "It's true."

Peter looked up at him. "You believed that Fr Mac would just throw me out because he doesn't like me? Even he isn't that anger driven."

"Do you know who gave him the pictures?"

"It doesn't matter," Peter replied. "They're out now and so am I. I just have to deal with it." He sighed. "And the repercussions."

"No one will think any less of you, Peter. Especially me. You're my friend first. I would have thought that you would have known that."

Peter nodded. "Thankyou, Brendan. But let's be realistic. I was a priest first to most people in this town. I had an obligation and I did something that was wrong."

Brendan narrowed his eyes. "Which is worse Peter? That you did it, or that someone found out?"

Peter looked at the ground. "That's the question I have to live with, Brendan. But I'm not going to wallow in self-pity. I am out of the clergy. I have to make something of my life."

Brendan nodded. "Good man, Peter. I have a room at my place that is just waiting for someone to lodge in it."

Peter smiled. "I appreciate that."

"Friends first," Brendan reminded him.


Niamh watched Assumpta closely as she cleared up after the lunch rush.

"Do you know?"

"Know what?" Assumpta asked, going into the kitchen.

"Who the woman was?"

"How would you expect me to know that?"

"You're good friends with Fr Clifford."

"So's Brendan. Ask him."

Niamh narrowed her eyes. "It bothers you, doesn't it?"

Assumpta came back out again. "What does?"

"The fact that it was another woman and not you."

The situation was so ironic that Assumpta could have laughed if it wasn't for the conflicting emotions in her mind. She sighed.

"You better go back home and make sure Ambrose hasn't instilled a love of paddle pop stick building in Kieran."

Niamh looked at her again, and with a sigh, left the bar.


Brendan watched Peter carefully as they stood outside Fitzgerald's. "You are coming in, aren't you?"

Peter stared at the ground. "Maybe I should give everyone some time to digest this."

Brendan put a hand on his shoulder. "Peter, the longer you leave it, the harder it's going to be."

Peter sighed. "Yeah, I know." Taking a deep breath he walked into the bar behind Brendan.

The bar went from being noisy, to being silent. No one was certain where to look. Peter's heart sank as he saw Assumpta avoiding his eyes.

"Evening Peter," Siobhan said, smiling. "How are you?"

"Not too bad, thanks Siobhan."

Assumpta's eyes slowly looked up at him. "What can I get you?"

"Just a pint, please Assumpta," he replied carefully.

Slowly but surely, the chatter in the bar went back to normal, although Peter still felt as if people were judging him and muttering about him. Siobhan, Brendan and Padraig were discussing some of the new school changes that were coming about. He snuck a glance at Assumpta, who was handing a glass of juice to Eammon. Her eyes briefly met his and turned away. Peter felt sick.


A few hours later, everyone was trickling out. Brendan handed Peter a key to the house. "I'm off home now. See you later?"

Peter nodded. "I'll just finish my drink."

Finally the bar was empty, except for the two lovers. Assumpta was deliberately avoiding contact, as she scurried in and out of the kitchen with empty plates and glasses.

Peter stood up and walked around behind the bar. He walked into the kitchen where she was washing up and placed his hands upon her shoulders. She closed her eyes briefly, enjoying the warmth that radiated through her body.

"No one knows it's you. The photos were very dark. People can only tell it was me and another woman."

She turned around in his arms. "That's not the point, Peter. You were going to leave on your own terms, resign. Now you've been slandered."

He let his hands frame her face. "As long as I can be with you, I don't care how I leave it. Yes, it is hard to leave like I did, but what's done is done. I love you Assumpta Fitzgerald. Nothing is ever going to change that, not even the circumstances of how I leave the clergy." He moved his hands to stroke her cheek and then bent down, engaging her lips in a long, deep kiss.

Almost involuntarily, Assumpta leant in closer, letting out a small moan as her arms encircled his neck. But rational thought prevailed and she pulled away.


Peter's eyes widened. "Pardon?"

"We need to slow things down."

Peter blinked. "Slow down?"

Assumpta sighed. "Peter, last night, things were different."

"I know. Last night I was a priest."

She looked at him. "Do you have any idea the enormity of what has happened? People are not going to look at you the same, things have changed. And I just complicate things."

"Have your feelings changed?"


"Then what's the problem?"

"I just think that maybe we should let people get used to what has happened to you before we flaunt our relationship around."

"Flaunt?" He narrowed his eyes. "If I didn't know you any better, I'd think you were getting cold feet."

Her eyes turned icy. "Well, it's a good thing you know me better then."

"Assumpta, I love you. There's nothing to complicate our relationship anymore."

"How can you say that, Peter? You were just removed from the clergy. You saw it when you walked in here tonight. Everyone looked at you differently."

Peter tried to ignore what was going on and pulling her closer, kissed her passionately.

She wanted to give in, she did. The past few months had been so hard. They had resisted temptation so many times but a month ago, when she was almost electrocuted by some wiring, they had fallen over the edge. He had been so scared and for that matter, so had she. They had needed to be close to one another. Needed to make love. And so for the past month, Peter would come to the bar a priest, and when everyone had left, turn into a lover. The guilt was there, but this.this was different.

"I can't," she said, pulling away. "We need some space."

"I disagree," Peter replied. "We've waited so long to be together, and now that we're given the chance, you're pulling away from me."

"I didn't expect it to be like this, Peter." She folded her arms protectively over her chest. "You told me that you would leave on your own terms, in your own way. That's been changed for you now and I think perhaps you need some time away from me to get used to it."

He narrowed his eyes. "Are you saying that you don't want to be with me anymore?"

She sighed. "No. I'm saying that we need space for a while. Let everyone get used to your different status. Let whatever is happening die down a bit."

Peter scowled. "Fine. I'll go then."

Assumpta watched him leave and slam the door. She slumped into a kitchen chair and began to sob.


Brendan walked along the main street of Ballykissangel, on his way to the pub. It was actually a bit early for him to be visiting, but he didn't want Peter to know he was going there. He had a feeling he knew what was going on, but was certain that he wasn't going to embarrass anyone.

"A bit early for you, isn't it Brendan?" Assumpta asked, glancing at him as she put down the bar stools.

"A little, yeah," he admitted. He sat down on one of the stools. "Can I have an orange juice?"

Assumpta nodded and after pouring it, handed it to him. "Is there some special reason that you're here this early?"

Brendan watched her carefully. "Yes, there is."

She disappeared down to the cellar. "Well, out with it. I'm running a bar here."

Brendan smiled slightly as he saw the empty room. "Yeah. It's about Peter."

There was silence from the cellar and Brendan knew he had hit a nerve.

"What about him?" She slowly came back up, armed with a box.

"It was you, wasn't it?"

Assumpta slowly turned around. "Pardon?"

"The woman that Peter was with. It was you, wasn't it?"

Assumpta folded her arms. "I don't know where you'd get an idea like that."

"Don't lie to me, Assumpta. The rest of the locals may have not noticed it, but I have."

Assumpta stalked back into the bar. Brendan usually wouldn't have followed her, but for some reason, he decided to.

"Did you take the pictures?"

Brendan frowned. "I'm offended that you asked me that."

Assumpta turned to him. "Well someone took them. Someone that Peter and I both probably know and someone decided to use them in a way that would hurt Peter."

"Assumpta, I've known you since you were born. I'm letting Peter stay with me. I would never do something like that."

"So why are you here? Just to confront me over my feelings for Peter?"

Brendan sat down in one of the chairs. "Talk to me."

Assumpta raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me?"

"You're obviously not going to talk to Niamh. Apart from me, who else are you going to talk to about what's upsetting you?"

"Thanks for reminding me of the lack of friends in my life."

"That's not what I meant."

"I don't need counselling, Brendan."

"Who said I was here to counsel?"

"I have to get the bar ready."

Brendan watched her for a moment and then nodded. He stood up and left the bar.


Peter rummaged around in the cupboard at the presbytery. He had to get all his things and take them to Brendan's.

"Mind if I come in?" Fr Mac asked, standing in the doorway.

"Of course not," Peter replied.

Fr Mac watched him clean for a moment. "In case you were wondering, I don't know who took those pictures."

"I wasn't wondering," Peter answered.

"And I won't tell you how I came by them."

Peter looked up at him. "Father, I'm not out to exact my revenge. I just want to get on with my life."

"Will you be staying in Ballykissangel?"

Peter looked him squarely in the eye. "Yes, I will be."

"That's very brave of you."

"It's not bravery. Ballykissangel is my home."

"There are some who might disagree with that."

"Perhaps those some know about the picture taker."

Fr Mac took an envelope out of his jacket. "I don't need these, and frankly, I don't want them."

Peter accepted the envelope. "What are they?"

"The pictures." Fr Mac shook his head. "You could have been a good priest, if you'd only left Ballykissangel."

Peter ignored that comment. "Thankyou for these."

Fr Mac nodded. "Goodbye."

Peter took the photos out of the envelope and flicked through them. He decided that Assumpta needed to see them.


Ambrose did up Kieran's shirt as he watched Niamh pace back and forth in the kitchen.

"What are you worrying about?"

"Those pictures! I'm thinking of all the single young women in Ballykissangel and I can't think of one that would be with a priest!"

Ambrose looked at Kieran. "Assumpta Fitzgerald."

Niamh's eyes widened. "I don't think so, Ambrose. Trust me, Assumpta Fitzgerald wouldn't be caught dead with a priest!"


Peter walked into Fitzgerald's and saw, to his relief, that it was empty. Assumpta was in the kitchen, eating a sandwich and trying to clean up at the same time. He walked through the bar area.

"Peter? What are you doing here?"

"I needed to talk to you."

Assumpta sighed. "Peter."

"Not about that. I wanted to give you these." Peter handed over the envelope.

"What are they?"

"Open it."

Assumpta opened it and her eyes widened. "Oh my God. Where did you get these?"

"Fr Mac."

Assumpta made a strangled noise. "Fr Mac saw these?"

"He doesn't know who the woman is. You can barely see your face there."

"I know who the woman is," Assumpta said darkly. "Dammit Peter, these photos.they.we're making love!"

"I know," Peter replied.

"I knew we should have turned the lights off upstairs. This person obviously knew what they were doing.if the lighting wasn't so bad, no one would have any problem distinguishing these!"

"I know," Peter answered.

"Stop saying that," Assumpta replied.

"What do you want me to say? I can't just pretend it can be changed, because it can't. And yes, it's embarrassing, but let's remember that it's only my face they can see."

"What happens if these get sent to the papers? Word will get out who the woman is. The people of Ballyk aren't stupid, Peter. Brendan already knows it was me."

Peter looked up. "Brendan knows?"

Assumpta frowned. "I didn't tell him. He worked it out for himself. And I'm sure that plenty of other people will too."

"What do you want me to do?"
Assumpta sat down in her chair and rubbed her forehead. She looked tired. "I don't know, Peter."

Peter nodded. "Well, let me know when you do. I'm staying at Brendan's."

He left the pub, shutting the door quietly. Assumpta looked at the photos again. She couldn't believe that everything could change so easily. Last week they were happy. Peter was going to tell Fr Mac that he was going to leave the priesthood and they would go to London to get married. Now not only had Peter been thrown out of the clergy, but their private lives were getting dangerously close to being on display. Putting the envelope in her pocket, she went upstairs to get ready for bed.


Brendan knocked on Peter's door. "Peter? Are you awake?"

"Yes," Peter said, coming to the door. "Is everything alright?"

"I was just going to go fishing and thought you might like to come."

Peter flushed. "I'm not a very good angler."

Brendan smiled. "Well, it's time you got some practice in, isn't it?"


Assumpta looked up as the door opened, dreading whoever it was behind it. Niamh walked in with a large plastic bag. Assumpta's fear was that it contained a paper with photos all over it.

"Do you need a spice rack?" Niamh asked, sitting on a stool.

Assumpta gave her head a mental shake. "What?"

Niamh rummaged in the bag and hauled out a spice rack made from paddle pop sticks. "He's gone mad, Assumpta! He's thinking of starting a side business and getting dad to market them. I think he's also thinking of putting an advertisement in the new paper in town."

Assumpta's ears pricked up. "New paper?"

Niamh nodded. "Dad's running it. He wants a gossip rag. Liam and Donal hunt for the gossip apparently. I'm sure that there's a lot of it in Ballyk, but I doubt anyone's going to give it up."

"It'll be a short-lived paper then I suppose."

"Not likely," Niamh replied. "Dad's determined to be successful in this one. He told Liam and Donal to go to all lengths."


Assumpta was cold. She pulled her jacket tighter around her and knocked on Brendan's door. He, she had discovered, had gone to something with Siobhan.

Peter opened the door and was surprised to see her there. "Assumpta."

"I'm not staying," she said, walking in briskly.

"Can I take your jacket?"

"I'm not staying," she repeated, more to herself. "I just wanted to tell you something that Niamh told me this afternoon."


"Her father has started up a local gossip paper. Liam and Donal have been told to go to all lengths to get gossip for it."

Peter raised an eyebrow. "You think Liam and Donal took those photos of us?"

"Well who else would have?"

"They may be a little daft, but I hardly think they'd be malicious."

"Exactly. They're daft so they probably didn't think of the consequences." She sighed. "Look, I just wanted to tell you what I heard. I've got to get back to the pub. Niamh's taking a sabbatical from Ambroses' hobby."

Her hand was on the doorknob as Peter placed his upon it. Turning her around, he moved her up against the door and began to kiss her. She wanted nothing more than to give in to it, to let him take her into his room and make love. But the photos of them doing just that were burned into her mind. It was almost as if the feelings from that night had been wrenched cruelly away and put on public display. With that thought, she pulled back.

"No, Peter. It's not right."

Peter sighed and looked at her. Her tousled hair, swollen lips and flushed cheeks. "When will it be right, Assumpta? And why was it right earlier, when I was still a priest?"

Assumpta was tempted to slap him, but she restrained herself. Fixing him with a solid glare, she opened the door. "I'm going to try and forget that sentence. Goodnight."

Peter watched her go and almost hit himself. What had he said to her? How awful! Feeling terrible, he wandered down to his bedroom.


That was where Brendan found him when he arrived home. "Peter?" he said, knocking on the door.

"Come in," came the reply.

Brendan walked in and saw Peter sitting on the bed, looking dejected. "What happened?"

"Assumpta came here."

Brendan raised an eyebrow. "Really?"

"She thinks Liam and Donal took the photos."

Brendan would have laughed if the situation had not been so serious. "Where did she get that idea from?"

"Niamh told her that Brian has started a new gossip paper and told Liam and Donal to go to any lengths to get him gossip."

Brendan scratched his chin and sat down. "Do you really think Liam and Donal would do something like that? Set a camera outside Assumpta's bedroom window? They'd have to know she'd kill them. And even if they did, why didn't they tell anyone it was you and Assumpta in there?"

Peter shrugged. "I don't know. All I want is to be with Assumpta.but the minute I'm not a priest anymore, she's started pulling away from me. And I probably said something tonight that I shouldn't have."

Brendan started to worry. "What did you say to her?"

"I asked her why being with her when I was still a priest was more right than being with her now is."

Brendan closed his eyes, imagining just how Assumpta would have taken to that. "Peter."

"I know, I know. I shouldn't have said it, and frankly, I don't know why I did. I'm just so frustrated."

"Peter, no one can expect you to be perfect. And being with Assumpta, well, I can't imagine that's easy."

Peter sent him a look and Brendan nodded.

"But, if it's worth fighting for.start finding out about this whole photo and start putting your life back together. Before you know it, you and Assumpta will be married." He stopped for a moment. "You.will.uh.marry her?"

Peter nodded. "Yes, I will. If she'll still have me."

Brendan chuckled slightly. "I wouldn't worry about that. People say things in the heat of the moment that they don't mean. Let her cool down. Assumpta hasn't had an easy life. And I don't believe I've ever seen her in love before. She has a lot of guards that she puts up.and believe me, it's easier for her to put them up than take them down."

Peter nodded. "Right. Tomorrow, everything changes."


Peter wandered down the street the next day to go to what had been his church. It was quiet at the moment, which wasn't unusual for such a small town. He glanced wistfully at Fitzgerald's, knowing that Assumpta was inside, getting ready to open. However much he wanted to, he wouldn't go in. She had wanted time and space, and even though he disagreed, he wouldn't pressure her.

"Good morning," he smiled at Jessica Cape. He felt a pang as she nodded and quickly hurried past. Fr Mac had been right. Perhaps it would have been better to leave Ballyk. But he wouldn't. It had become its home, and he loved Assumpta too much.


Assumpta was in a foul mood. As far as she was concerned, they might as well post those bloody pictures on the Internet and let the whole world see them. Especially if Brian Quigley and his band of merry morons had seen them. Lunchtime was fast approaching and she was cutting up some sandwiches for the rush. Part of her wanted to go and confront the eedjits, but the rational part reminded her that at the moment, no one knew that she was the woman in the pictures, except Brendan and Peter.


Peter made the sign of the cross and stood up from the pew in St Joseph's. He glanced at the altar, remembering watching Assumpta walk down the aisle at Niamh's wedding. He had hoped that one day, they would marry here, but so many things had changed.

"Ah Fr! I mean, Peter!" Brian Quigley said, rushing in.

Peter winced slightly. "What is it Brian?"

"We need to have a word."


Brendan wandered into the now quiet pub. The lunchtime rush was over early today. He suspected it was because of the bar tender's foul mood.


Her head popped out of the kitchen when she saw him and she groaned slightly. "What do you want, Brendan?"

"That's no way to treat a paying customer, is it?" he asked, winking slightly. "A lemonade please."

She watched him warily for a moment and after giving him the lemonade, disappeared back into the kitchen. Brendan followed her.

"This is a private area, Brendan," Assumpta told him, without even turning around.

"Peter told me what happened last night."

Assumpta froze. "Did he really."

"He's very upset about it, Assumpta."

"That makes two of us."


"Brendan, please. Just leave it. This is between Peter and I."

"You're not doing a very good job of sorting it out, are you?"

"Back off, Brendan," Assumpta said, glaring at him. "This is none of your business."

"You're right, it's not," Brendan agreed. "But I don't like seeing two of my friends so upset over something so trivial."

Assumpta's temper flared. "Trivial! Brendan, in case you haven't noticed, he got thrown out of the priesthood!"

"Yes, Assumpta, I've been following."

"Your jokes aren't funny, Brendan."

"I'm not trying to be funny. I'm trying to make you understand that I know what's going on and that you shouldn't let it keep you and Peter apart."

"Have you seen those photos?"


"Then don't presume to know what's going on. This is between Peter and I and I don't need a lecture from you on how to run my life."

Brendan nodded. "Okay. Let me know if you need anything."

"I won't," Assumpta said, firmly.

"Okay." Brendan left the room. He wished she would just stop being so stubborn.


"You knew?" Peter said angrily.

"I only found out this morning. I swear, when I found out what the eedjits had done, I told Donal to throw them out. He says he did so someone must have grabbed them."

"Why didn't you come to me earlier? Tell me what had happened?"

"I only just got back from Dublin. Give me a break, Peter. I've only just found out."

"Give you a break? Let's remember who the victim is here."

Brian nodded. "I know. I'm sorry." He sighed. "Who else knows it was Assumpta?"

"Brendan. And obviously Liam and Donal if they planted the cameras."

"They didn't plant them to look in her window. They planted them above so they could see the town. Obviously the eedjits didn't secure it enough and it fell down."

"Do not tell Assumpta you know. And you better make sure Liam and Donal don't tell anyone."

"Well give them some credit. They haven't told anyone so far."
Peter nodded. "Thankyou for coming to me with it. I appreciate that."

Brian nodded. "I'm sorry Peter. I really am."


Assumpta scrubbed the bar and groaned as the radio started playing "Runaway" by the Corrs. She switched it off. The last thing she needed to think about was that night with Peter. And that song.in the background that night.was not helpful.

Fr Mac walked in. "Good afternoon Assumpta."

Assumpta began to wonder why she was being tortured. She really couldn't take this.not now with the way things were.

"What do you want?"

"Just a pot of tea will be fine. How are you getting on?"

Assumpta stood stock-still. Her heart was pounding against her chest. She was so afraid that he was going to tell her that he knew. She didn't know why, as she'd never cared for his opinions in the past. "I'm fine."

"Terrible business about Fr Clifford, isn't it? I've had Kathleen on the phone all morning about it."

Assumpta didn't trust herself to say anything, so she busied herself making the tea.

"I just keep wondering to myself.those photos.who on earth was he with?"

Assumpta handed him the tea. "Anything else?"

Fr Mac watched her carefully. "He could have been a very good priest."

"He was."

"How would you know?" Fr Mac asked, placing his money on the bar.

"Because everyone went to see him. He's always been well liked."

Assumpta tried to stop her anger burning up inside her. She knew what Fr Mac wanted and she wasn't going to give it to him. "I have work to do."

"Assumpta." Fr Mac called.


"I think I know who that woman was."

"Congratulations," Assumpta said, heading into the kitchen. "Maybe I should have left the rum out of the tea."

"Very amusing, Assumpta."

"Orange juice please, Assumpta," Siobhan said, coming in and, without knowing it, saving Assumpta. "Hello, Fr."

"Siobhan," Fr Mac nodded.

"Anything else?" Assumpta asked Siobhan.

"No, just the orange juice."


It was Sunday. Peter stared at St Joseph's. This was the first time it had really clicked what had happened. The church was empty. Just one little camera that hadn't been tied properly had changed the way he wanted to leave. And it had hurt Assumpta. He hated himself for that. But this was getting ridiculous. He missed her so much. And she had to know about the photos.


Assumpta yawned as someone knocked on the back door of the pub. Wondering who on earth would be crazy enough to get her up at this time of the morning, she slowly made her way downstairs.

She opened up the door. "Peter?"

"I need to talk to you," he told her. "It's important."

She opened the door a little wider and let him in. Closing the door behind him, Assumpta went and put the kettle on. "What is it then?"

"It's about the photos." He explained to her what he had found out.

Her face paled and she sighed, pouring herself some coffee. She sat down on a chair and sipped her coffee. "Alright, go on."

"Brian Quigley spoke to me."

"That must have been nice for you," Assumpta muttered. "I got Fr Mac."

Peter looked surprised. "Father Mac came to see you?"

"I don't really think that's what you're here to talk about, is it?" she asked him.

"No," Peter replied. "Brian told me that it was Liam and Donal who had the picture. Apparently, Brian had asked them to mount cameras all over the town for his new gossip paper. The one on your roof wasn't secured properly. Brian told them to throw the pictures out and they did."

Assumpta was pale again. "How did Father Mac get the photos?"

Peter sighed. "He doesn't know. Liam and Donal swear that they threw them out and that they nearly had a heart attack when they found out that Fr Mac had them."

"Right," Assumpta said, getting up. "Well, thanks for telling me." She turned her back to him and started clearing away her coffee things.

Peter stood up. "Assumpta."

"What?" she asked, her back still turned to him.

"I've been thinking a lot the past few days. About how this all happened. About how it wasn't supposed to happen like this." He placed his hands on her shoulders. "I hate being apart from you. I love you. I want to be with you."

She turned around, her tear-stained cheeks making his heart break. "Don't you think I want that too? I love you too, you know, and this hasn't been easy for me either. It wasn't easy to shove you out and tell you to come back when you were ready. It hurt. Even more so when I knew you didn't understand why I did it. I just.I didn't want anything to happen between us, particularly that night, until you had come to terms with what happened."

Peter nodded and cupped her face with his hands. "I know. And I'm sorry that I hurt you. But now.I need you. Not just because I love you, but because I need you to lean on."

Assumpta smiled and clasped one of his hands. "I've been waiting for you to say that."

He hugged her tight and then kissed her gently.

"What has happened to Quigley's gossip paper?"

"Well, if we get a copy of it, I say we line the trash bins with it," Peter smiled.

Assumpta nodded. "Sounds good to me." She glanced at the clock. "Well, I don't know about you, but I'm going back to bed." She narrowed her eyes at him. "To sleep." Her face softened again. "But I wouldn't say no to some company."

Peter yawned and nodded. "I haven't been sleeping well lately."

"Me either."

They went into her bedroom and Assumpta watched appreciatively as Peter changed into the nightclothes he always left there. He caught her smiling and she blushed, slipping into bed. He hopped in beside her and held her close to him.

"I love you, Assumpta."

She snuggled closer, her eyes drooping. "I love you too, Peter."