Book Details

Pastor Salvatore Satori is the tyrannical leader of La Sangre, an insular and isolated community on the Northern California coast. When Peter Freeman, retired running back for the San Francisco 49ers, unexpectedly arrives in La Sangre, the Pastor and his frightened congregation are forced to either face their individual truths, or hide from them by pursuing theft, deceit, adultery, suicide...and murder.


Book Excerpt

CHAPTER 4: Sal walked along the path that wound through the cluster of homes until he arrived at the small cottage on the south end of the bluff. It was the Owens’ summer home, and they weren’t really a part of La Sangre. At Sal’s arrival and mighty efforts twelve years ago to bring the small community together under the La Sangre Christian Church, people had either fallen into the fold, or sold their homes (at a tidy California-equity profit) and moved out. But the Owens had done neither, spending their summers in quiet solitude, appreciating but otherwise ignoring the pleasant Sunday morning church bells. They were gracious and friendly when they visited the La Sangre Grocery and General Stores, but mostly they made their purchases and did their eating out in Santa Rosa. From Labor Day to Father’s Day they went home to Redding and rented out the cottage; there was never a shortage of potential and reliable renters for an oceanside home, even during the winter. Nurse Lillian Walker, in addition to running the General Store, collected the rent and served as the Owens’ rental manager for a decent fee. The Owens’ tenant this time was a Jessie Malana, and her connection with the Owens was vague, even mysterious. They apparently knew her in Redding, and she must have had the proper references as the Owens approved of her, and she had passed Lillian’s credit check. Jessie drove an expensive-looking black sports car, fast and loud, and often could be heard approaching town from the north, if she had gone in to Santa Rosa, or from the south, if she’d gone to San Francisco. Where did she get the money for such a car? Certainly not from the waitressing job she’d talked Sal into giving her at the La Sangre Saloon. She took to the job easily. Had she been a waitress before? If not, what had she done? Sal had pumped both Lillian and Jessie herself for details, but the responses from both women were vague. Lillian honestly knew very little, other than that the Owens were satisfied with Jessie’s monthly rent payments and Lillian’s reports on Jessie as a responsible tenant. But Jessie herself had a knack—indeed a great talent—for deflection. It was subtle and effective. Sal found himself extremely frustrated when he tried to get answers from Jessie, and even when he raised his voice—something he used when all else failed—Sal was unable to get past her shield. So he figured he’d just give it some time and pray about the situation, asking the Lord to help him break her down. From the start, Jessie never missed church, both the Sunday morning and evening services, nor the Ladies’ Tuesday Night Prayer Group, and the Wednesday Night Bible Study. But even the other ladies, again at Sal’s prompting, couldn’t get to really know Jessie, other than to say she was very pretty and she obviously loves the Lord, praying and studying her Bible and asking questions and listening. She even sings in their small choir. What else was necessary to prove she was indeed saved? But Satan is subtle, Sal reminded himself. He wondered if the warning he’d had this morning was about Jessie; but no, it was something else, something coming into La Sangre, not something that was already there. So Sal would just bide his time with Jessie. In the meantime, a Satanic sabotage after twelve years of his being in La Sangre was not only possible, but even likely by this time. Satan could indeed attack and attempt to destroy La Sangre, this spiritual haven that Sal had prayed and fought for to build and maintain. Twelve years of God’s peace couldn’t convince him to drop his caution with anyone. Not with the Owens, not with anyone. And now this girl...this Jessie... She walked out onto the porch just as Sal approached the gate to the Owens’ small yard, as if she had been alerted to his visit, perhaps even knowing what he was thinking. She remained on the porch, standing casually, waiting. She was a nondescript mid- to late-thirties, very fair, with short wispy blonde hair, light skin. Her features were fine and placid, her body small-framed and compact, with her bra-less tank top and too-short shorts revealing small breasts and very nice legs. Like one of those Greek statues, Sal thought. Very feminine, not at all hard and unyielding like women’s bodies today with overly firm breasts, often manufactured, and flat hard stomachs and muscled legs. Sal realized he had been thinking about this, aware of it more and more lately, even in church while he preached. But summer had begun, the Owens were arriving, and she was leaving. That was all that mattered. “Good morning Pastor,” Jessie finally said, her eyes not straying from his strong gaze, a gaze that never frightened her. She always met his challenge. “Jessie,” he nodded in return, once again irritated at his lack of control where she was concerned. If Doyle was at one end of the scale of his control, Jessie was at the other end. She was also at the other end of the scale from Doyle’s lack of intelligence; Jessie had an intelligence as powerful as her sexuality. And she was so damned observant. And now here she was, standing on the porch, observing him and obviously enjoying the advantage of the three-step height she had over Sal. She waited placidly to hear the reason for his visit. Asking him “What can I do for you Pastor?” would make it too easy for him, something she never did. He always had to make the first move, and she could build her defense from there. “I was wondering” Sal began, deciding to dispense with any pleasantries since by this time it no longer mattered, “have you heard from the Owens yet?” She paused a moment, the way he did with Doyle, he realized. “A letter came in yesterday,” she said plainly. “They’ll be here this Monday, as planned.” “Did they say anything else?” “About what?” It was Strike One against him, but her flat tone belied it. Sal closed his eyes briefly in retaliation. “Are there any supplies,” he kept his voice level, “they would like me to order for them, anything special they want done for their arrival?” “I’ve taken care of everything.” “They didn’t say anything in particular?” Jessie thought about delivering another “About what?” but she didn’t. It was too easy and besides, she was certain she’d strike him out, as always. “They did say they’re bringing Mrs. Owen’s aunt with them.” “Her aunt? Where is she from?” “They didn’t say anything about her.” “Will she be staying the whole summer?” “They didn’t say anything about her,” Jessie repeated. Strike Two. “Is she a Christian?” And Sal caught himself too late. Jessie smiled at the mockery of his inquisition. Sal closed his eyes again in an effort to let Jessie think that he was irritated with her, rather than with his own inadequacy around her. He opened his eyes again and she was still looking at him, not defiantly, just quietly and easily. Damn this girl! Jessie strategically waited for Sal to speak. Strike Three coming up. “Never mind,” Sal struggled to keep his voice level. “I’ve asked Martha to help the other women get ready for the Father’s Day picnic. Can you and Jeremiah hold down the Saloon by yourself after lunch?” Jeremiah was the cook. “We won’t have a problem.” “Just send for Martha if it gets particularly busy.” Jessie nodded. “And what about Corey’s graduation cake? Connie and I thought we’d cut it there at the restaurant, when we come over for lunch today.” “I was just going to drive into Santa Rosa to pick it up. I’ll be back in time to join Martha during the lunch rush.” Against his will, Sal glanced down at her skimpy attire, wondering if she was going to drive to the Santa Rosa Bakery dressed like that, a whorey representation of La Sangre. A rush of heat went through him as he pictured her walking into the bakery, her breasts and legs shimmering.... Jessie smiled at his review of her body. Strike Three, you’re out. Pastor Satori. Sal’s unexpected desire for her turned to fury. He pressed his lips together before speaking. “What are you going to do?” “I just told you. I’m going to drive to Santa Rosa.” Strike Four, if there was such a thing, but the inning was over, top of the ninth. The game would be over soon, by Father’s Day. “No!” Sal raised his voice. “I mean what are you going to do when the Owens return? Where will you go?” “South,” she said firmly. Her tone was unmistakable: it’s none of your damned business. Sal automatically glared at Jessie, the first time he’d done so with Jessie. His patented glares were designed to wither and intimidate. It worked for everyone else in La Sangre when necessary for what he deemed discipline. But he knew, too late, it wouldn’t work on Jessie. So he switched to his other defense, one he had used with Jessie many times, his charming Pastor’s smile, a little too wide and showing too many teeth. For the first time since her arrival, Jessie returned his smile with a supercilious one that bordered on laughter. Sal turned on his heel and walked away. Damn her! Damn her to hell! Jessie was the only person in La Sangre around whom Sal felt weak and out of control. And impotent.


About the Author

Gary Kyriazi

After receiving a B.A. in English from UCLA, Gary Kyriazi (keery-ozzy) had several non-fiction publications which placed him in Time Magazine, and on Good Morning America, CBS Morning News, Nightline, Charlie Rose, and Headliners and Legends. Father’s Day is his first published novel. Born in San Francisco and raised in Northern California, Gary lives in Arizona and is working on his next novel.

Also by Gary Kyriazi

Father's Day
Father's Day