Fortunately for Ben the jeep started right away. The old Willy’s had a starter on the floorboard that sometimes made it challenging to start, especially when in a hurry. He sure wasn’t going to win any speed races with the six cylinder and the low gears, but it got him away from his dad’s fury. He had never seen his dad that upset before and wanted to put some time and distance between each other for a while. This whole episode came about so suddenly throwing him for a loop. He needed some place to stay to gather his thoughts. His only refuge was at Susan’s place where she lived with her mom, Heidi, in Kuna.

Ben called Susan and told her what had happened. She wasn’t overly surprised that Ben’s folks responded like that. They were more conservative than most people.

“Wow Ben. What are you going to do?” she asked.

“I don’t know. I know I am not going back there until things calm down though. I have never seen my dad so mad. I really set him off.” Ben answered.

“I wonder if mom would let you stay in our barn for a while. We could clean out the loft and the old office. There is a bathroom and a shower in there too. That would be so awesome to have you here!”

“But Susan, how is your mom going to respond when she finds out that we got caught having sex behind the church?” he asked.

“Oh she would be furious for having sex and getting caught in the church parking lot, but not because we had sex. She thought we have been having sex for the last six months! When we went to Bend at Christmas, we talked about it. She didn’t believe me when I said we hadn’t done it. She even offered to put me on the pill. Some of that was to regulate my monthly period, but she did say that she didn’t want me having an accident.” Susan explained. “Let me talk to Mom. I bet she will be okay with it, she likes you. Come on over here and by the time you get here I will know something. Just don’t say her anything about getting caught in the church parking lot!” Susan laughed.

It was about an hour drive over to Kuna and Ben needed the time to process everything that had happened earlier that morning. It seemed like his whole life was falling apart. Now his folks were upset with him which would have an adverse effect on school. It was a strange turn of events and he didn’t know what to do. Why was having pre-marital sex such a big deal anyway?

Heidi was working with a three year old sorrel in the round pen when Susan came out to talk to her.

“Mom, can I talk to you?”

The sorrel was trotting around in circles clock-wise, then Heidi gave it a command turning it to gallop in the opposite direction. The horse had worked up a sweat and was getting tired. Heidi dropped her hands to her side and the sorrel stopped, turned and walked towards her. “Good boy” she whispered, clipping the lead rope to the halter she led the horse out of the round pen toward the pasture. “What do you need honey?”

Susan walked along with Heidi to the lush green pasture opening the gate for her. “Well, Ben and his folks got in kind of an argument and Ben left home. He just called me and told me about it. He is coming over here right now and I told him that I would talk to you.”

“Oh that’s too bad. What did they get in an argument about?” Heidi asked.

“Well, Ben told them that we were having sex.”

“Oh! Yeah, I bet that didn’t go over well with Robin!” Heidi exclaimed. “What was he thinking?”

“Obviously he wasn’t. Anyway, I guess they got in a huge argument and Sam got very angry with him. It scared Ben so bad he jumped in the truck and got out of there. He doesn’t have a place to go right now and I was wondering if it would be alright if he stayed in the barn for a few days?

“Hmmm… I am sorry to hear about that. He is such a good boy. I guess we can talk about it when he gets here.”

Heidi liked Ben a lot. He was hard working, smart and had more character than most grown men she knew. She had always hoped that Susan and Ben would stay together and eventually get married. With him heading off to school in Moscow next year would determine where their relationship was going. He was a good looking young man and the college ladies would be all over him. Susan still had one year of high school and Heidi hoped that she would stay focused on Ben while he was gone to Moscow.

Heidi had given birth to Susan when she was seventeen, Susan’s age now, and had raised her on her own. It hadn’t always been easy. There had been a couple of guys that lived with them over the years as Susan was growing up and Susan had gotten very attached to them. When they left, it had been difficult for the little girl. She had always wanted a daddy like everyone else and as she got older Heidi could see that Susan could tend to be a little promiscuous desiring that male companionship most girls got from their dad. It didn’t help that she was well developed and quite attractive. There was never a shortage of suitors until Ben came along. Ben’s calm demeanor had an effect on Susan and having him around made Heidi’s life with her daughter a lot easier. Heidi was surprised that Ben had left home over an argument. They were such a solid and stable family although she did think Robin was a little too strict with her Christianity sometimes.

“C’mon in Ben!” Heidi hollered over the barking dogs. She was pouring glasses of iced sun tea for all of them and offered one to Ben, “How are you doing Ben?”

Ben sat down at the counter next to Susan. “Well it has been some kind of day, that’s for sure!”

“Ya, that’s what Susan was saying. She said you left in kind of a hurry. Did you pack a suitcase?”

Ben laughed and said, “I forgot it under my bed; along with my toothbrush.”

“That’s a strange place to leave your toothbrush.” Smiling at Ben. “I am sorry you’re going though this right now Ben. Those rough discussions are hard on everyone and yet it is part of cutting the apron strings. I am sure your folks are concerned. Have you talked to them?”

“No, Dad is pretty mad at me.” Susan kicked Ben under the counter and Ben looked at Susan. She shot him a look that said, be careful what you say!

“I said some things that I probably shouldn’t have said.” Ben continued.

Heidi was at the sink washing up vegetables for dinner. “We all say things like that once in a while and it usually bites us in the butt. Then you have to go back later to eat crow.” Turning back towards them she said, “after you do that about half of your life, you learn that what you’re thinking is usually best left unsaid!”

Ben laughed, relaxing him. “The problem is that we don’t agree on a whole lot anymore.”

Heidi said, “Yup, every person comes to a point in their life where they have to stand up for what they believe in. But you can’t be standing in someone else’s front yard expecting them to change to how you believe.”

“Yeah, I think that is what dad was kind of saying.” Ben took a big drink of iced tea. “Heidi, I need a place to stay until things cool down a little.”

“Well Ben, you’re more than willing to stay in the barn. There is a shower and a bathroom out there. Susan will get you a towel and washcloths. It probably needs to be cleaned up some. You probably need to let your mom know that you’re okay. It isn’t fair to let her worry no matter how much you don’t agree with her.”

“Okay, thank you.”

Susan and Ben went to the barn to clean up the place for Ben.

Heidi texted Robin, “Ben is here n sleepn in the barn 2night. Wanted u 2 know”.

Robin responded immediately, “Thank u Heidi!”

After dinner Ben went to bed thinking of what Heidi said about calling his mom. He was still upset about her holding him to walking the Christian walk that he really didn’t want to call her, at least not yet anyway. He wanted to make her suffer a little bit. She just didn’t understand his life. It was too difficult to walk according to the standards that she held. Besides, it was easy for her because she already had a family. She didn’t have to go out in the world and deal with people like he did especially heading to college now. College was more liberal than her way of life. She had no idea how hard it was when you’re the only one standing out from the crowd because you did everything right. Ben was tired of getting teased all the time. His mom was out of touch with reality now days.

Truthfully what bothered him the most was he knew  if he went back home, his parents would make him talk to Pastor Mike about Cory and Monica living together. Tyler would think he was a snitch and Cory was a pretty popular guy in the church. He was the “Man of God” everyone wanted to be like. All of the youth group guys thought Monica was really hot too. If he said something about their relationship he could just imagine the crap he would take. The thought of all the guys in youth group coming down on him was too much.

Robin was in bed next to Sam who was sound asleep. She was praying quietly, tears in her eyes, a heaviness in her heart, like a piece of her soul was missing, “Lord please watch over Ben. Keep him in your hands and a firm hand on his path.” as she drifted off to sleep.