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 Twelve

Ben was looking around for Susan. She was supposed to be there fifteen minutes ago and youth group was about to start. Tyler, Monica’s son, was sitting next to him. He was two years younger than Ben and looked up to him with great admiration.

“When did you and your mom move into Cory’s place?” Ben asked.

“About a month ago, it’s been kind of weird. He acts like he wants me there but I feel like I am in the way a lot of the time. I have my own room and everything but it doesn’t feel like home, you know?

“Ya, so you didn’t have to change schools did you?” Ben asked looking over his shoulder again to see Susan walk in the door.

“No, he lives on the school district boundary so that was good. Mom said we are going to live there just until we can get on our feet. Our car broke down and she didn’t have the money to fix it so Cory said we could live at his place until Mom could save enough money to either get it fixed or get a new car.”

“What happened to Monica’s car?” Ben asked.

Ben was savvy when it came to working on cars and enjoyed it a lot. He had rebuilt an old ‘58 Willy’s Jeep for his senior project in shop class. Robin’s brother had sold the Jeep to Sam when they first started dating and it sat in the machine shed next to the barn covered up with a tarp for the last ten years. Sam and Robin had presented a deal to Ben that if he wanted to use the jeep for his senior project they would buy the parts and when it was finished he could either buy the jeep from them at a reduced price or they would match what he had saved for a newer rig provided he maintain a “B” average. Ben had to work much harder than his sister for the grades but had kept his end of the bargain.

Ben had rebuilt the motor, the master cylinder and upgraded the steering assembly, rewired the 6 volt electrical system fixed the dents and gave it a new coat of paint. The instructor was impressed with Ben’s eye for detail and tenacity.

Tyler was telling Ben something about how the Subaru head gasket had gone out, and how it overheated. But Ben was not listening, his eyes were on Susan.

He had known Susan since they were very young when Heidi, Robin and Sam all attended Seven Mile together. When she was in sixth grade Susan and her mom moved to Kuna where Heidi joined a practice with a dentist as their hygienist. She had purchased a small farm in the country where she and Susan taught riding lessons and boarded horses on the side.

Ben and Susan had met at a Fourth of July Christian Concert put on by the local churches and featured popular Christian musician groups. Susan had recognized Ben from a distance while she was working at the food stand through her church in Kuna. Ben was there with Matt, one of his friends from youth group. Matt had spotted Susan and was interested in her. Ben didn’t recognize Susan, she had changed a lot from the skinny sixth grader he once knew. Matt had spent a small fortune on fast food in an attempt to talk to Susan. Unfortunately for Matt there was a lot of competition for Susan but she had made it very obvious of her interest in Ben.

Susan had just recently started coming to Ben’s youth group on Thursday nights. Heidi let her drive the big red Dodge Ram flatbed pickup and whenever Susan made an entrance every guy in the youth group noticed. Her long blonde curly hair bounced when she entered the room; it was like throwing a shiny plug into a pond full of hungry bass after a long winter. Susan loved the attention and it had the tendency of making Ben jealous. She could have any guy in the room and she flaunted it. Ben was more reserved and Susan’s aggressiveness threw him off balance.

The youth leader called the gathering to attention and Susan made her way over to where Ben was sitting with Tyler. After the youth group was over Ben and Susan usually went to the Dairy Queen restaurant with a couple of the others for a shake. Ben and Susan were sitting in a booth when she nudged him. He looked at her and when their eyes met he followed hers to the open purse. There was a condom in a package in her purse. His heart panicked and he looked back at her eyes. Her eyes opened wide and her mouth opened in a dramatic “Oh dear!” and she laughed.

“Where did you get that?” Ben whispered.

“When I was in Bend at Christmas my cousin had several in her drawer so I took one!” Making her dramatic face again.

Ben’s heart was racing. He wanted to remain in control of this situation but felt like he was losing all resemblance of it. He didn’t know how to respond. They had talked about doing “it” but he didn’t know what to do. All of this was going through his head and Susan said. “Let’s go back to the church parking lot.” Susan was acting very aggressive and that was intimidating Ben a little but he wasn’t going to back down.

They had done some serious petting but had never taken it to that level. Robin had explained to Ben when he started dating Susan that having sex was much more than recreation. It was meant to be a covenant with God between one man and one woman. She had explained to him that if he would wait until he was married that the Lord would bless his marriage and his family immensely. She had stressed that it was very important not to give in to any temptation and had requested that the two of them always be in company with some of their peers at all times.

The problem for Ben was that his peers were having sex everywhere and the older he had gotten he figured that his mom had lost touch with reality and didn’t understand that things were much different than when she grew up. You couldn’t turn the television on without seeing sex on every channel or at the very least there would be some woman scantily clad talking about erectile dysfunction. Every one of Ben’s friends had experienced sex and frankly he was embarrassed when they all talked about. It was everywhere he went at school, on the football team, at work and even a lot of the guys at church had experienced sex. He figured that he was the only person on the planet had never had sex. He knew of kids at school who had sex when they were in grade school! Ben tried to talk big but really had no idea what he was talking about. Then when he threw Susan into the equation it got very complicated. She could have any guy she wanted and if he was not willing she wouldn’t have to look far to find someone who was interested in her body. He was intimidated because he really didn’t know what to do. His peers all teased him assuming that he and Susan were having sex often and the way she acted it seemed obvious to everyone. She had told Ben that she had never done “it” before but he wondered if she was being honest.

“Okay” he said nervously. It was 9:00 and it was pretty safe to say that no one would be at the church parking lot at this time of night. It was dark and there was a corner next to the utility shed in the back parking of the parking lot that seemed optimal.

Susan pulled the Dodge pickup around and backed it in facing the back of the church. There was one light on inside the church that someone had forgotten to turn off but there were no other rigs in the parking lot. She turned the radio on to a country music station and looked over at Ben who was nervously looking back at her.

“Are you sure this is what you want to do?” he asked her.

“Don’t you want to?” she replied. He could tell that she was nervous too. “Are you kidding? Of course I do” Sam said “I just don’t want to have God mad at me. I mean isn’t this sin?”

“Well, Jesus already paid for our sin and He knows everything so I am sure He knows that we are going to do this. Right?” Susan justified.

“Yea, I don’t know if that is how it’s supposed to work” Ben said.

“Are you chickening out Ben?” Susan teased kicking her cowboy boots off and moving across the seat closer to him.

“No, I just want to be right.” His hands were shaking and he took off his jacket. She started helping him and he was helping her in a heightened frenzy.  He caught the scent of her sweet perfume and it seemed to draw him in towards her, the heat of her body reeled him in numbing his senses. Turning back was impossible. They were both naked in the front seat and she grabbed the condom wrapper out of her purse and handed it to him. He fumbled with it and she finally took it from him and opened it. He told her that he wasn’t really sure how it worked and between the two of them got it figured out. The windows were completely steamed up adding a sense of seclusion to the heated situation. As he pressed in towards her she held him back nervously saying “I have never done this before Ben.”

“I am not exactly sure what to do either.” His whole body was shaking uncontrollably.

“Yeah me either except what they showed us in health class and watching the stallion with the mares.” Ben made the sound of a horse and they both started laughing breaking the tension of the awkward moment.

Their sexual desire had built up so intensely that it didn’t take long and he was done. The second they were finished conviction poured over both of them. They both started putting their clothes on without saying a word both deep in thought.

Ben was thinking about how it was over now and there was no going back. His mother’s words came back to him “This is a special gift between you, your wife and God. Wait until you are married and you both will be blessed.”

He looked over at her. She had her panties on and was putting her bra on. He smiled at her trying to make the condemnation go away and there was a wrap on the truck window. Susan screamed scrambling for her shirt on the floorboard of the truck and Ben jumped frantically pulling on his pants. His shirt was unbuttoned and un-tucked. It seemed like it took forever to find their clothes and get dressed. Fortunately the windows were fogged and Ben said through the door “Who is it?”

Both of them looked at each other in terror when the answer came back “Pastor Mike. What are you and Susan doing in there Ben?”

“Oh Sh…” Ben mouthed. Susan’s curly hair was all over the place and her lipstick was smeared on one side. She was zipping up her pants and he was trying to get a sock on and it was going on backwards. When she had her pants zipped up she hit the button rolling down the window on Ben’s side. Ben knew it was “time to pay the fiddler” and opened up the truck door and stepped outside in his socks. To his horror he saw not just Pastor Mike but in his car was his wife and their teen age daughter. Disappointment covered Pastor Mike’s face making Ben want to crawl under the truck. All he could do is look down to avoid his eyes. He felt like he had let down everyone he knew and loved.

“So, What’cha two doing?” Mike said knowingly.

Ben looked up at him. Pastor Mike was looking directly into his soul, he was so ashamed he just wanted to crawl off and die.

“I thought you were stronger than this Ben” Pastor Mike said and shaking his head he turned and walked back to his car and drove away.

Ben turned around and looked at Susan. Her hair was going everywhere and she was looking in the mirror attempting to get it to settle down. Her shirt was un-tucked. He looked at himself and realized that his shirt wasn’t buttoned properly, one button off all the way down. “Dog gone it…” he muttered and then saw the used condom lying on the floorboard of the pickup in plain sight.

Busted.

Chapter Eleven

Sam’s phone vibrated on the desk making him jump, “Hey Sam, this is Mike can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Oh, hey Pastor Mike what’s up?” Sam got up and closed the door to his office.

“I was just checking on that parking lot paving and expansion project for the church.” Pastor Mike Johnson replied.

He, Sam and Cory had all met the previous month to come up with an affordable way to pave the existing parking lot and expansion to accommodate for new growth in the church. With growth came complaints, one of which was adequate parking. Folks just didn’t like walking through mud puddles in their Sunday clothes.

“Yup, I met with Cory yesterday to put together the proposal. I have it right here in front of me. I was just about to send it over to you.”

“Awesome Sam, what is the cost for the church?”

“Well, Pastor Mike, you really should see the breakdown of time and materials to really grasp the cost of this.”

“You’re scaring me Sam. Can’t you just tell me over the phone?”

“I sure can Mike” Sam replied “It looks like the total will be $56,800.”

There was silence on the other end of the phone.

“Hello? Mike? Are you there?”

“Yeah Sam, I am here. How are we going to pay for this Sam?”

“Well,” Sam said clearing his voice “I believe that if God is behind this whole expansion project then He will provide for it won’t He? I think you need to announce this to the congregation and tell them we need to raise the extra money. Ask them to commit over and above their tithes as an act of faith.”

“Sam, tithes are down. People are struggling to making ends meet and they definitely do not want to hear that the church needs more money. The tithes we are getting barely pay my salary and the operating costs of the church. We cannot even afford to help the missions this month, not to mention the government is threatening to take away our 501C3 nonprofit status unless I conform to their guidelines.”

“What? What are you talking about Mike?”

“Yea, I got a letter the other day laying out what I can and cannot preach about. They say if I preach about homosexuality and this transgender thing they will remove our not for profit status. If we lose that and people do not get their tax deductions we will no longer get the tithes we need to operate. I have no other choice but to comply.”

Sam couldn’t believe what he was hearing and said. “Well, I say God is bigger than that. Surely the congregation would continue to tithe whether they got a tax deduction or not.”

Pastor Mike responded “I am just not sure that is something I am willing to put to the test Sam. Maybe we can come up with another way to raise some money. One thing is certain we need the parking lot to bring in more people and that will bring in more tithes. It is simple math.“

“Well” Sam said, “I am sure God will work this thing out Mike”

“I hope so Sam, I sure hope so. Thanks for getting me the bid.

Pastor Mike hung up with a big sigh. “Well we are not going to make that kind of money doing a car wash that’s for sure.“ he said out loud.

“Katie the church secretary had been listening in to the conversation.

” Pastor Mike?” she asked from the office just outside.

“Yes Katie?”

“I didn’t mean to listen in on your conversation but your door was open and well I couldn’t help it. I was kind of thinking, maybe we could get someone to come in and put a concert together? Maybe we could sell tickets.”

“Yeah, we could do that” he said his voice trailing off. She knew that he was brushing her off by agreeing with her but what he didn’t know was that she had a connection. Her girlfriend’s sister was getting married in a month and one of the singers of Meadow Song was going to be a groomsman at the wedding. She had dated him back in the day before he had gotten all famous. Travis had contacted her for a date at the wedding but she had turned him down. The group had planned to do a surprise appearance for his bachelor party. Just maybe, she wondered, they could be persuaded to do a small parking lot fund raiser. She looked on the calendar and noticed that it coincided with a women’s conference that was being held at the church the Friday before the wedding. Her wheels started turning.

He had given her his number in the event she changed her mind and well, maybe her mind could be changed!

After the conversation Sam sat at his desk, stunned by Pastor Mikes suggestions. He had to tell Robin about this as he reached for the phone.

“That explains why the sermons have been so watered down lately. Pastor Mike doesn’t want to offend anyone or they will not get the tithes to operate the church!” Robin remarked in furry.

“Heidi was right! Seven Mile is just like all the other churches in the valley, watering down the messages to bring in the people. It all comes down to money just like everything else in the world. That’s what they called it tickling the people’s ears in the bible Sam!”

After Sam hung up Robin stewed over their conversation the rest of the afternoon. Pastors have stopped delivering sermons on the book of Revelation and end time prophecies because they didn’t want their churches labeled as a doom and gloom church. If they mentioned money heaven forbid they were money hungry. Congregations wanted to hear how much God loved and forgave them not about sin and the consequences of sin. They were completely compromising the word just as the bible said would happen in end times.

Robin called Heidi to confirm coffee on Saturday.

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.