Layne was waiting for Olivia inside the lobby of his office building. He had called her last night after Sable left his flat. “Are you free tomorrow evening?” he asked.
“Remember you said to call you if I needed a friend?”
“Yes and I meant it.”
“Can you meet me tomorrow evening at around six?”
“Sure. Where would you like us to meet?”
“Although I would like to be more, I will be your friend for now–at least until I’m convinced that you’ve gotten over her. I will not be your rebound.”
“Fair enough,” he replied although to be quite honest, he couldn’t imagine himself being in another relationship for a very long time. And he just couldn’t see himself having a romantic one with Olivia.
He saw her car drive up now and he turned and headed for the revolving doors. He got in and they drove off. “Where would you like us to go and talk?” she asked.
“There’s this café about a twenty minute drive from here. We can go there.”
“So, what’s on your mind?” Olivia asked him. She was having an iced Matcha Latte while he was having the Chai Latte.
“I ended my affair with Sable.”
Olivia’s eyebrows arched. “Did you really?”
“Yes. I told her that we couldn’t continue sneaking around. I told her that I hated what we were doing to my father.”
“How did she take it?”
“Very hard. She asked if another woman was my reason for ending our relationship.”
“And what did you tell her?”
“I told her that it wasn’t. How could there be when I’m in love with her?”
“Did she believe you?”
“I believe so. I told her that my father was my reason for ending our affair. I didn’t want to hurt him. And her reasoning was that he couldn’t be hurt if he didn’t suspect anything.”
“Did she want to wait until he suspected that there was something going on between you two?”
“That’s what I asked her and her argument was that we had been lovers for over three and a half years and so far he hasn’t suspected anything. All we had to do was continue to be careful.”
“Were you tempted to continue the affair?”
“In the past, I would have been but I’ve had enough. I don’t want to continue doing something I know is wrong. I was sinning against God and my father.”
“It must have been tough for you.”
“Yes, it was but I had to break free and I did.”
“Now that you’re free, what are you going to do?”
“Nothing. I’m just going to focus on me.”
“That’s a good idea. That’s what a friend of mine did when she and her boyfriend broke up. She’s doing the things that she enjoys and she seems happy. Last year she was a wreck.”
“Maybe I’ll read a stack of books I have sitting on my desk at home or go for a trip. Maybe I should take a month long vacation and go on a mission trip.”
“A mission trip sounds good but is that what you really want to do or is this you running away from your step-mother? You can’t run away from your feelings no matter how far you go.”
“I’m not running away from her or from my feelings. I know that it will take a long time for me to get over her but one day I will, with God’s help. The more I think about it, the more a mission trip sounds good to me.”
“I thought you were going to just focus on yourself.”
“They said that in helping others you help yourself. And what better way to help others than through mission work?”
“If you were to on a mission where would you go?”
“Somewhere in Africa. I’ve always wanted to go there.”
“What about your father?”
“I’m sure he’ll encourage me to go.”
“And your step-mother?”
“I don’t suppose she would be thrilled about it but it doesn’t matter. What I do with my life from now on is no longer any of her business.”
“Well, I hope going to Africa works out for you.”
“I hope so too.”
“I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll be gone for just a month.”
“Well, let me know which part of Africa you’ll be going to and when and I’ll treat you to a sort send off dinner.”
“I will,” he promised. “Olivia, thanks for being a friend and for not judging me even though what I’ve done to my father is reprehensible.”
“Doesn’t the Bible teach that we shouldn’t judge people?”
“Yes, it does.”
“Granted what you did was wrong but you ended up doing the right thing and that’s what matters.”
Layne sighed. “I finally had the guts to do what I should have done a long time ago.”
Olivia reached over and covered his hand with hers. “Don’t beat yourself up about it,” she said. “Just put the past behind you and focus on the present.”
“I’ll focus on my trip to Africa but first, I think I’ll have something to eat. What about you?”
“Sure.” She picked up a menu and looked at it. “I think I’ll have the Homemade Fish Finger sandwich.”
“And I’ll have the Hot Salt Beef sandwich.”
As they ate, they talked more about his plans to go on a mission trip to Africa. The following day, he went online to find information on mission trips and came across Experience Mission in the United States. He filled out the IMMERSION Interest Form online and waited to be contacted by email.
A few weeks later, he learned that he was going on a 1-month mission trip to South Africa. He had to fly to Michigan before going to South Africa because each IMMERSION trip began with a time of training, team building and personal reflection near Grand Rapids. The training would take several days. He couldn’t wait. He booked off more than a month’s vacation leave and prepared for his trip. Money wasn’t a problem for him at all.
He called Olivia and told her that he was going to Michigan and then South Africa. She was thrilled for him although she was going to miss him terribly. She offered to drive him to the airport but he told her that his father had already offered. He had told him father about the news after he had been contacted by Experience Mission.
Although surprised, his father was very supportive. “I hope Sable and I will get to see you before you leave,” he said.
“I’m sorry, Dad but I’ll be too busy. I’ll be in touch.” He didn’t relish the idea of seeing Sable and was glad for the excuse not to. A month in South Africa would be welcome change and escape.