Chapter Twenty Four

The work Sam wanted to accomplish on the property went over and over in his mind preventing him from sleeping. All he was doing was tossing and turning so he slipped out of bed and quietly got dressed. Robin and the girls had returned later than planned from the conference and had stayed up half the night talking so he knew she was exhausted.

He started the coffee and took a shower in the main bathroom so as not to wake her up. He had packed his bag and put it in the truck the night before so he was ready to leave. He was leaning over the island countertop going over his list of the things he needed to take from the barn when he heard someone coming down the stairs. Robin came in the kitchen wearing her purple t-shirt, her eyes squinting at the bright light. “I reached over and you were not there,” she said.

“Yeah, I was tossing and turning so bad I was afraid I was going to wake you.”

She came to him with her arms in front of her and he wrapped his arms around her. “Were you going to say good bye?” she said sleepily.

“Yes, honey, before I left I was going to come in and give you a kiss. I didn’t want to wake you. You had a late night.”

“Yeah, it was fun. Erica and Linda shared their testimony together. It was really good. I talked some more with Heidi about Ben. I wish he would call. ”

“I know honey. I wish he would too but he has to figure things out for himself.” Sam said rocking her back and forth.

“I know, it’s just hard,” She said nuzzling into his neck. “What time are you leaving?” she teased.

“I have time!” he laughed, squeezing her.

“Shhh…” Robin whispered, “Heidi is asleep on the couch in the other room!”

Sam laughed. “That would be awkward!”

Robin swatted his butt saying, “I made you a lunch and some snacks in the refrigerator in the mudroom.”

“Man! How’d I get so lucky getting you?”

“God knew you needed help!” she laughed. “When are you going to be back?”

“Probably Sunday night,” he said.

“Okay, please talk to Cory about Monica. I will be praying for you.”

“Thanks, honey, I will. I love you.”

“I love you too Sam. Please be careful!”

She walked out to the truck and laid her hands on the hood of the truck and on Sam’s shoulder and prayed. “Dear Heavenly Father I ask that you please watch over my husband and our dog and ask that you cover them, the property and this truck with the blood of Jesus. Guide them with your firm hand and give him wisdom, in the name of Jesus. Amen.”

Sam said, “Thanks honey.” As he opened the door, Marty jumped into the front seat. Robin watched Marty sitting next to Sam drive down the driveway. She had an uneasy feeling in her stomach. He watched her in her purple t-shirt and thick black glasses in the rear view mirror disappear as the garage door went down, thanking the Lord for her.

Sam stopped by the gas station on the way over to Cory’s topping off trucks fuel tanks including the seventy five gallon tank behind the cab and filled five additional jerry cans with diesel. He wasn’t sure how much they needed to get the work done, but wanted to take advantage of having the equipment on site and did not want to waste time running back to town to get more fuel.

When he got to Cory’s place, Cory was binding down the equipment on the trailer. Cory asked Sam to grab a pipe next to the shop as a cheater for tightening the chains. As Sam walked by the window, he noticed Monica’s car parked back behind the shop. It was a weird place to park her car and Sam asked Cory if there was something wrong with it.

“Yeah, she blew a head gasket in it, so she needs to either get it fixed or buy a new car. I told her that she and Tyler could stay here until she got on her feet. She is driving my car in the meantime.”

“Oh! Hmmm,” Sam stuttered,. He didn’t know quite what to say. He wasn’t expecting Cory would come right out and blatantly admit Monica was living with him and the way he explained it made perfect sense. She needed help and he was helping her out. Surely they were sleeping in separate rooms and everything was on the up and up.

Cory could tell that Sam was shocked and said, “Yeah, I know it isn’t right but it is actually working out pretty good. I told you before that I didn’t really want to get married anyway. I think she is getting accustomed to it.”

“Yeah, I remember you saying that. I just wonder what people in the church are going to say.” Well so much for that theory, Sam thought.

“You know? Monica told Pastor Mike that she needed to stay here for a while. He told her that she really shouldn’t, but, really, that is all that has been said. Besides, he isn’t going to say anything. He wants my tithe check every two weeks.” Cory said laughing. “What’s he going to do? Kick me out of the church?”

Sam thought to himself, Boy, when Robin hears this she is going to blow a gasket!

Sam was leaning up against the tracks on the excavator and asked, “Cory, you know so much about the bible and end time prophecy and you have told me multiple times how we are in the midst of it; it blows me away that you are willing to live with Monica instead of marrying her? I don’t get it. As much knowledge as you have about God, I would think that you would be afraid of Him coming down on you with this decision.”

“Yes, I know!” Cory said. “Me too! I know better and you would have thought that I would feel guilty about this, but I don’t’. I even know that this is probably a mistake! It is really weird!” he said, finishing up with the last binder. “Monica felt guilty initially, but now she is fine with it too. We are going to go with; God’s grace is sufficient on this!”

“I sure hope it is for your sake! “ Sam felt guilty saying that as soon as the words came out of his mouth. Surely God’s grace is sufficient. After all, how big is your God, Sam? “I know one thing, I will sure feel a lot better when we get a place set up to bug out when it hits the fan! I was up all night thinking about what we needed to have to get ready.” Sam said.

“I think this is a wise move Sam. Looking around at the world right now and the decisions that our leaders are making, I can see where this country is going to fold up soon and it is going to be wise to be self sufficient.” Cory said. “I think we are going to need to get a group of like minded people together and have a plan set up not for if things go south, but for when they do!”

Sam thought about the irony in what Cory had just said, calling out the leaders of the country for dropping their standard, but wasn’t he doing the same thing with Monica?

Chapter Nineteen

“Ben let’s get going, were going to be late for church.” Robin hollered for the third time.

“I don’t feel like going to church today, mom.” He responded back from his bedroom.

Sam had just come in from checking on the new calf. “Where’s Ben, we need to get going?” he asked Robin.

“I don’t know what has gotten into him. He is acting strange. He says he doesn’t feel like going to church. I have asked him three times now.”

Sam went to Ben’s room and knocked on the door. “Hey chop, chop were going to be late. Let’s go!”

“I don’t want to go today.” Ben said stubbornly.

This was unusual for Ben. They never had to ask him twice about going, he was typically waiting on everyone else. “What’s up, son? You always want to go to church.”

“I just don’t feel like it today.” Ben said.

“Well, get going, and we will talk about this later.” Sam said impatiently. “You know how your mom hates to walk in late to church. I am right with her on that too, so let’s get going!”

The last thing Ben wanted to do was talk about this later with his folks. He dreaded going to church and running into Pastor Mike. The last look he gave Ben was enough for him to hide for the next hundred years. He was tired of going to church anyway. There were too many rules and those rules confined his freedom. After tasting that forbidden fruit with Susan he couldn’t get it out of his mind. He thought about her all the time and wanted to have sex with her again and she felt the same way. What was the big deal anyway? It was their bodies; they should be able to do whatever they wanted. It wasn’t like they were hurting anyone else. The more he thought about it the more he felt like he needed to move out and get a place of his own so he could live how he wanted to live. Living under the roof with mom and dad was too confining anymore. The problem was that he wanted to go to school at the University of Idaho in their Agriculture program. If he moved out, he might lose mom and dad’s blessing for assistance. He didn’t want to get a loan. The smart thing to do was to live here at home until fall and then he could have a place of his own in Moscow. Reluctantly he got dressed and hurried out to where they were sitting in the truck. He could tell his mom was annoyed at being late.

Robin told Sam that Erica was going to bring Linda out this afternoon to meet them and she thought it would be nice to have them stay for dinner.

They arrived at church five minutes early. Cory Jacobs was walking in at the same time and stopped to talk to them. Robin asked him how Monica was doing, his face flushed and Robin wondered if it was just an early spring sunburn. “Oh, she is good. She is going to be leading worship this morning actually.”

“Oh good, I would like to visit with her!” Robin exclaimed. Sam told Cory about going back out to the property to find the corner pins with Aaron. He asked Cory about the old road up to the spring and how hard it would be to get equipment up there to develop it. Cory had an older small excavator that he could let Sam use if he wanted to haul it up there.

Ben scoured the building to see if Pastor Mike was anywhere to be seen. He saw him talking to an elderly gentleman on the far side of the church so he headed in the opposite direction to where his family normally sat. Once he got there he opened his bible and stared at the pages.

Sam shook Pastor Mike’s hand on the way to their seats. Pastor Mike acknowledged Robin and asked how Ben was doing. “Good, I think, he’s finished with school now and trying to figure out what the next move was in life.” Pastor Mike followed Sam’s glance over to where Ben was sitting reading his Bible.

Pastor Mike looked at Sam quizzically wondering if maybe Ben had told them about Mike catching Ben and Susan behind the church. Mike chose to hold his tongue and give Ben an opportunity to talk to him personally.

Sam and Robin worked their way over to where Ben was sitting. Sam sat next to Ben where he was still staring at his bible. Sam reached over and took Ben’s bible and turned it around saying “You will understand it much better if you read it the right way up.” and smiled at Ben.

Ben’s face flushed. “Dang, I just can’t catch a break!” he spoke under his breath. It all compelled him to pray, “Please Lord just get me through this service without running into Pastor Mike.”

Monica stepped up to the worship platform to open in prayer. Before she began she caught Robin’s eye. Robin gave her a supportive smile and Monica looked away abruptly, stuttering with her opening prayer. The lights dimmed and worship began. Monica avoided looking over at Robin. She knew that Robin would find her after service and ask how things were going with Cory. She did not know what she was going to say to her so she devised a plan to grab Tyler and quickly go somewhere with him. Monica and Cory had driven separate cars to church to give the impression they were living in separate places.

After service Sam, Robin and Ben were working their way out of the crowded church. Pastor Mike was shaking hands and when they passed he put his hand on Ben’s shoulder smiling said “How are you doing Ben?” Ben’s knees were shaking and he couldn’t think clearly. Everything was a blur. His hands were sweating profusely. He was searching for anyway out of this situation. “How’s Susan?”

“Oh, hi Pastor Mike. Susan is great!” he said in a complete panic. Suddenly he saw Tyler and said “Oh hey, there’s Tyler, I have to go!” and hollered to Tyler.

Robin looked at Sam with an “Okay, that is weird” kind of look and she saw Monica heading in that direction too.

“Hey Monica!” She called out. Monica saw her and knew there was no avoiding the meeting, she reluctantly gave Robin a hug. “How are you doing Robin? That dress looks so good on you!”

“Well thank you Monica! How are you doing?”

Monica spotted her son, Tyler, talking to Ben. Tyler was lavishing the attention that Ben had suddenly given him. “Oh there’s Tyler” she exclaimed! “I need to take him downtown and we are running late! It was so nice seeing you Robin.” She turned abruptly heading in Tyler’s direction. “Hey Tyler are you ready? We need to get going or we’re going to be late.” Robin saw the confusion on Tyler’s face as his mom pulled him away abruptly from the conversation with Ben.

Robin went over and put her hand on Sam’s arm “Something is up with Ben.”

“What?” Sam asked.

“I am not sure but we are going to find out!” Robin said determined.

Ben was already sitting in the truck staring blankly into the parking lot when Sam and Robin got there. Sam looked at Robin acknowledging the strangeness in how Ben was acting.

“Are you alright Ben?” Robin asked.

“Yes, why?”

“I don’t know you seem a little preoccupied.” Robin started “You kind of cut Pastor Mike off when he was talking to you and that seemed out of character for you.”

“I just needed to talk to Tyler about some stuff, that’s all.”

“Oh what is going on with Tyler?” Sam asked.

Ben panicked he hadn’t had time to think of a good answer and blurted out “Well I wanted to ask him how it was going living with Cory now. He said it was weird living there the other day at youth group.”

“What? Monica and Cory are living together?” Robin said shocked. That explained why she acted the way she did after church.

“Does Pastor Mike know about this?”Sam said.

Ben was having an out of body experience. Everything was coming down on top of him. He couldn’t keep all of the stories straight and wished he hadn’t said anything. “No, no one knows about it and I wasn’t supposed to say anything.”

“Well we need to take this to Pastor Mike because this is not right. Monica is leading in worship and Cory is a prominent man in the men’s group. This is not acceptable for any Christian leader in the church!” Robin said determined.

Ben realized how this had completely unraveled. The last thing he wanted to do was to sit down with his parents with Pastor Mike. He blew up and said “I am not going to be a snitch on my best friend! He asked me not to tell anyone.”

“Well honey this needs to be dealt with. Premarital sex is a sin in God’s eyes and when it is in the church then it effects the whole church body.”

“Man, you are so Holier than thou, mom! Everyone has sex now days. You need to get with the program!” Ben screamed.

Sam slammed on the brakes and pulled the truck off the road almost putting it in the ditch scaring everyone in the truck and the cars following him. He turned around to face his son and said “Don’t you ever talk to your mother like that again!”

Robin gently put her hand on Sam’s arm and softly said to Ben. “What is going on Ben?”

Ben had tears running down his face and he was looking out the window into the field. He had one eye cautiously on his dad. Sam had never been aggressive like that with Ben and it was frightening.

With a sigh Ben told his parents what happened after youth group, how Pastor Mike, his wife and their daughter had caught them having sex in the truck in the parking lot of the church.

Robin was shocked and started crying “I cannot believe that you did that Ben. We have tried to raise you to be a good Christian man and model what that is supposed to look like.”

They drove in silence the rest of the way home. Robin stared out the window touching a Kleenex to the corner of her eye.

As they pulled into the driveway Sam told Ben. “You need to understand something son. This is not going to be happening under the roof of our house. You need to talk with Susan and stop this and change the course of the path you’ve turned on.”

Erica and Linda had arrived while Sam and Robin were at church, they were now coming out of the house towards the truck. Everyone looked at them, the truck doors were all open and Ben said, “Yeah right dad, you will not allow me to love my girlfriend but you’re going to let a prostitute live in your house!”

Sam lunged for Ben but Ben ducked and ran to the Willy’s Jeep sitting in the driveway. Robin grabbed Sam’s arm and said “No Sam! Let him go!” Erica turned to Linda in shock who was looking at the ground ashamed.

A rooster crowed from the barn.

Chapter Five

Robin and Erica both slept in after Sam and Ben had left chukar hunting. Sam and Robin didn’t usually attend the later service and hadn’t been to that one in a while. Monica led worship that morning and kept looking over at Robin and Erica. She had always admired Sam and Robin’s marriage. All she ever wanted was a marriage like they had and had hoped that Corey would marry her someday.

She had been married once before to a man who was not a Christian. They met right out of high school and had two boys right away together. He had started drinking excessively after the last one was born and would not touch Monica anymore. She felt that they should try to find a church and had tried to get him to go look for one with her; but he had no desire and whenever she brought it up a fight ensued so she stopped bringing it up.

One night he didn’t come home until late the next morning. She asked where he was and he said that he had drunk too much playing pool. After closing time he had fallen asleep in the car in the parking lot because he was too drunk to drive home and didn’t want to get arrested. She asked him why he didn’t call her that she would have come down and picked him up. He said that he didn’t want to hear the complaining all the way home. That hurt her.

Later that afternoon she took the car to the store to get some groceries for dinner. Loading the groceries in the car her cell phone slipped in between the seat and she couldn’t get it out. She got out of the car to reach from behind the seat and found a bracelet lying on the floor, and it wasn’t hers. Her heart raced. She was blinded by fury on the way home so much that she ran a red light. A car screeched next to her almost hitting her and she swerved down into the ditch to avoid the accident. She knew enough not to stop or she would be stuck so she punched the gas and pulled back up onto the road. Tears were welling up in her eyes but she was too scared to let them go. Her whole body was shaking uncontrollably. The person that had almost hit her turned around and walked up to the window of her car. Monica jumped when they tapped on the window. Looking up Monica saw a mature woman with a concerned look on her face. She knew she was going to get yelled at for running the red light and she slowly rolled the window down ashamed. The lady asked her if she was alright and Monica started crying trying to explain everything that had happened.

The lady introduced herself as Mallory Johnson. She was married to Mike Johnson pastor at Seven Mile Community Church. She was just returning home early from church because she had a migraine which had for some strange reason just disappeared. Maybe it was fear of being in an accident! Mallory asked Monica if she wanted to pray and whether she knew Jesus or not.

Monica said that she had gone to Bible Camp when she was a little girl and had accepted Jesus as her Savior but she hadn’t gone to church since. Mallory prayed with Monica and then writing her phone number down on a piece of paper gave it to Monica with specific instructions to call her if she needed anything.

Praying seemed to calm Monica’s nerves, a little. She drove home to confront her husband more confident.

He was drinking beer watching football when she got home. Monica felt unusually calm when she pulled the bracelet out of her purse and asked him whose it was. He said “How should I know?” but his eyes told a different story. She never said a word just kept looking straight into his lying eyes. It was too much for him and he got up yelling at her accidently knocking over the lamp on the table. “Why are you accusing me of this?” he yelled, storming around the house dramatically.

The two boys heard the yelling and came into the living room with their eyes open wide. Tyler was fumbling a Leggo piece in his hand. With a scared questioned look on his little face he looked up at his mom and said “Mommy, are you okay?” Monica had tears in her eyes and her bottom lip was trembling. “Yes honey.” She lied.

Her husband brushed past the youngest boy knocking him down. He started crying and fury overcame her. The tears left instantly and motherly protection came over her. She jumped up and told him to get out of the house! He turned to Susan looking square in her eye and said “No. I am paying for this house. You get out!”

Without any hesitation she grabbed the two boys and her purse and left. She drove down the road and called the number that Mallory had given her. Mike and Mallory brought them into their home until they were back on their feet. Monica started attending Seven Mile Community Church with them and soon became part of the worship team.

After church Monica approached Robin and Erica. “Do you think that the guys are doing any good?”

Robin replied with “I hope so. I sure will be glad when hunting season is over with! You have such a beautiful voice! I really enjoyed praise this morning. How are you doing Monica?”

“It’s all good.” Monica said but Robin could tell there was more. Monica asked her if she could ask her a question and Robin said “Absolutely!” guiding her over to a bench in the foyer.

She started in telling Robin how much she admired her and Sam’s family and then asked her if she had any advice for what she should do with Cory. She wanted to get married but he just didn’t seem like he wanted to. Robin didn’t know what to tell Monica. She asked her if she could ask her something personal. Monica said that she could, knowing what was coming.

“Are you sleeping together?”

Monica dropped her head nodding, looking at the floor. Robin hugged her. She remembered what it was like to be so alone. She whispered to Monica quietly “You know you need to stop. God will not bless your relationship when you are walking in sin. Sin interrupts your communication with Him.”

Monica just nodded wiping her eyes and said “Thank you Robin.”

Robin told her to call her anytime if she needed to talk.

Pastor Mike came up to the ladies saying to Robin “Where is that husband of yours? Robin’s cheeks flushed and Monica recovering quickly answered “He is hunting with Cory. It’s the last weekend of bird season.” Mike laughed and said “I am glad I am not with them it looks pretty miserable out there!”

 

Later that night Sam and Robin were in bed. Robin had a pillow against her back with her knees up reading her bible. Sam had just lain down and was watching her with her hair up wearing no makeup and her thick black glasses. She knew he was staring at her and she set the book down and turned to him with that “Stop looking at me look!” That made Sam laugh and he pulled her towards him to kiss her. She fell lazily over onto his chest. He stroked her hair and told her about how well Ben did hunting that day. She was laying there listening to his heart beat enjoying the closeness.

“I am worried about Monica”

“Why is that?” Sam asked.

She told Sam about their conversation at church. Sam listened to her stroking her hair. When she was finished, they both laid in silence. Sam broke it with “Cory won’t marry her.” Sharing what they had talked about. “That’s just not right Sam” Robin said sternly. “He needs to tell her then!” she sat up and rolled over on her side away from him, pulling the covers up close to her neck.

He laid there thinking.

She was right.

Sam fell into a deep sleep completely exhausted.