Loving Lin

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I leaned against the wall, feeling numb.  I was still reeling from the shock of learning that Lin was engaged.  We broke up when he said that his parents were visiting from Beijing and that they wouldn’t approve of us living together.  I understood that because my parents were the same way, old-fashioned.  They always told me that it wasn’t proper for a man and woman to be living together, especially if one or both of them were Christians.  Lin wasn’t a Christian but I was.  But what got me really upset was the fact that he hadn’t told them that I was black until a week ago.  They strongly opposed our relationship and threatened to stop paying for his university fees.

So, to prevent that from happening and to make peace with his parents, Lin ended our relationship and agreed to marry a girl he had known since childhood.  Devastated, I moved out.  I don’t know what to do.  I still love him and had hoped that we would get back together but that wasn’t likely to happen now.  After investing four years in our relationship, it was over just like that.  I thought he loved me.  He said he did but now I’m not sure about that.  How could he love me and break up with me so that he could marry someone else?

A part of me wished I hadn’t met and fallen in love with him while another part wished he would walk up to me at right now and tell me that it was all a terrible mistake and that he wanted to get back together with me.  Stop kidding yourself, I chided myself.  It’s over.  You should forget about him and move on.  I closed my eyes in despair.  It was no use.  It would take a very, very long time for me to get over Lin.

“Are you all right?”

I opened my eyes to find Carter standing in front of me, staring down at me.  He was in my Black History class.  A nice guy whom I might have gone for if I had never met Lin. Lin…”I’m fine,” I lied.  “Just a little tired, that’s all.”

“So, how do you think you did on the mid-term?”

“I think I did well.  What about you?”

He shrugged.  “I’m not so sure.  Spring break is just around the corner.  Do you have any vacation plans?”

“No.”

“Neither do I.  So, are you just hanging out here until your next class?

“Yes.”

“Would you like to go for a walk?”

I shook my head. “No, thanks.”

“Are you all right?”

I moved away from the wall and picked up my knapsack.  “Yes.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure.”

He studied me closely.  “You look like you’re upset about something.”

“I’m fine,” I insisted.  I wished he would leave me alone to wallow in my misery.  I really didn’t feel like talking to him or anyone for that matter.  I glanced at my watch.  Thankfully, I had one more class and then I could go home.  “Thanks for asking. I’ve got to go now.  I don’t want to be late for my class. See you tomorrow.” I walked away and headed towards to the building, my head down.  I didn’t notice that Lin was coming towards me until he called my name.

Heart racing, I looked up.  He was dressed in a tee shirt and jeans.  Why did I have to run into him now?  Why did he have to look so good?  Why do I want him so much that it hurts? I was going to walk past him when he caught me by the arm, forcing me to stop.  I glared up at him. “Let go of my arm, Lin.”

“Not until you tell me who that guy was.”

“What guy?”

“The one I just saw you talking to.”

“Why do you care?” I demanded as I tried in vain to ignore the feelings that raged inside me because of his nearness.  His fingers felt warm on my arm.  “I’m not your girlfriend anymore.”

His mouth tightened and I could see the jealousy flashing in his eyes.  “Is that why you were talking to him?”

“Leave me alone, Lin.”

“Answer my question, Melanie.”

“I have a class to go to.” I tried to pull my arm away but his grip was too strong.

“You’re driving me crazy,” he muttered tightly.

I’m driving you crazy.”

“Yes!  I can’t stand to see you with another guy.”

“Well, that’s too bad, Lin.  You lost your right to object to me talking to other guys when you ended our relationship.  Now, I have to go or I will be late for my class.”

He released my arm then.  “I need to talk to you.”

“I don’t want to hear anything else you have to say.  Go and be with your fiancée.”  I marched off with my head held high although my heart was breaking.  I blinked back the tears which threatened to fall.

Somehow I managed to get through the class but was out of the room like a shot as soon as it was over.  I almost ran to my car because I was afraid to run into Lin again.  I went straight home and into my bedroom where I lay down for a while with my eyes closed as the tears rolled down my cheeks.  “Lord, please help me to get over Lin.  Please.”

When I went to church on Sunday, I tried to lose myself in worship.   I felt better when I left.  The church wasn’t far from where I lived so I walked home.  It was a pleasant afternoon, very mild.  I had my head down as I walked so I didn’t notice him at first and when I looked up suddenly and saw him standing on the sidewalk outside of my building, I froze.  My heart began to pound.  What on earth was he doing there?  

I continued walking, my steps brisk.  When I reached him, I demanded, “What are you doing here?”  He looked so good in the white tee shirt and jeans with the jacket I bought him for his birthday draped about his broad shoulders.  I wanted to reach up and touch his face.  My hand tightened its grip on the strap of my handbag.

“I need to speak to you, Melanie,” he said urgently.  “It’s very important.”

“All right.  Come up with me but you have ten minutes to say what you have to say.”

“Ten minutes is all I need,” he said.  His gaze traveled over me, making my face feel hot and my body respond.

I preceded him inside the building and up to the flat my parents were paying for until I graduated and found a job.   A few minutes later, we were standing in the living-room, facing each other.  “Tell me why you’re here.”

He cleared his throat.  “Melanie, I know that the last thing you want is to see me and I don’t blame you.  I’ve hurt you and I’m really cut up about it–”

“You have no idea of how much you’ve hurt me, Lin.  You and I talked about marriage and now you’re engaged to someone else.  How do you think that makes me feel?”

“Melanie…”

“Are you marrying her because it’s what your parents want or is it because you love her?”

“No.  I don’t love her.  I love you.”

“If you really loved me, Lin, you would have told your parents about me and stood up to them.  You wouldn’t have let them talk you into marrying someone you don’t love.”

“You’re right.  I let them talk me into doing what they wanted.  They threatened to stop paying my fees and the rent for my apartment if I didn’t break up with you and marry Jun.”

I was beginning to tear up again and the last thing I wanted was to cry in front of him.  “Please, go.  I can’t deal with this–with you.”

He moved closer to me.  “I wanted to tell you that I broke off my engagement to Jun.  I told my parents and they followed through with their threat.  They are no longer paying my fees or my rent but I’m getting student financial support and I’m living on campus.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  He was telling me that his parents had basically disowned him and had left him to fend for himself.  He was no longer living in the beautiful flat we once shared but was living on the university campus.  The thing that really got me was that he had found the courage to stand up to his parents.  My heart melted and I was deeply moved and proud of him.  “Have you eaten?” I asked.

He shook his head.

“Stay and have lunch.”

He nodded and removed his jacket which I took from him.  I left him standing at the window, looking out while I went to get lunch ready.  We had lunch and then we went into the living-room where we talked for hours.  By the time, he left, we had agreed to start seeing each other again.

After we both graduated, we didn’t get married until we found jobs and were able to afford our own place.  My parents attended the wedding but, not surprisingly, his didn’t.  I should mention that after we got married, Lin started coming regularly to my church.

Sources:  Gov UK; Investopedia; University of Exeter

I Married For Love

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I married for love.  My husband was the love of my life.  The only problem was he loved someone else.  When I was in my early twenties, I met two brothers–Jack, an outgoing, lovely man and his brother, Adam, who was very handsome and very charming.  Jack fell in love with me but I fell in love with Adam.  I went out with both of them but there came a time when I had end my relationship with one of them.  Both proposed to me.  I had to decide which one of them I should marry.  Should I marry Jack who loved me or Adam whom I loved?

I decided to marry Adam.  Jack was heartbroken.  He packed up and left Seattle.

In the beginning, Adam and I were happy.  We decided to wait for a year before having children.  That year we traveled and just spent time getting close.  The following year, we had our first child, a boy who was a splitting image of Adam.  I adored him.  The next year, we had twin girls.  We moved to Santa Barbara and bought a beach home.  Life there was very satisfying.  I was happy.  The kids were happy and I assumed that Adam was happy too.

One evening when I was on my way home when I decided that I would drop by Adam’s office to see if he wanted to go out for dinner.  The kids were with their grandparents.  We would pick them up after dinner.  I got on the elevator and walked to Adam’s office.  The door was closed but I could see the light under the door.  Without bothering to knock, I opened the door and walked in.

I can’t tell who was more shocked—Adam for getting caught red-handed or me for seeing my husband naked and in the arms of another woman.  I don’t know how long I stood there but when he moved towards me, I turned and ran out of the office.  I didn’t stop running until I was out of the building and heading down the street.  I frantically flagged down a taxi and scrambled into the back, the tears almost blinding me.  How could he?  And who was she?  Was he going to throw away fifteen years of marriage for a romp in his office?

When I got home, I ran straight up to our room and took out a suitcase.  I started throwing his clothes into it.  I didn’t want him around.  I couldn’t bear to see him.  I wanted him gone and I didn’t care where he went.  He could stay with her or a friend.  Was this the first time?  Were there other times?  What kind of man was I married to?

I hauled the suitcase downstairs and put it in the foyer, beside the front door.  I went into the kitchen and sat down at the table.  I buried my face in my hands and wept.

An hour later, I heard the front door open and close.  The kids went straight upstairs.  A few minutes later, Adam walked into the kitchen.  I didn’t look at him.  I couldn’t.  “I packed your suitcase,” I informed him.  “I don’t want you here right now.”

He sighed.  “Beth, I’m sorry…”

I looked at him then.  “Are you sorry that you hurt me or sorry that you got caught?”

“I’m sorry that I hurt you.”

“Who is she, Adam?  Some woman you picked up at a bar or someone working at the company?”

“She’s someone from my past.”

“You were in a relationship with her?”

“Yes.  We were lovers.”

“Lovers?”

“She was married.”

“Was married?”

“Yes.  She’s divorced now.”

I shook my head in disgust.   “Now that she’s divorced you figured that you would pick up where you left off.”

“It isn’t like that, Beth.  We didn’t plan to restart our relationship, it just happened.”

“These things don’t just happen, Adam.  You wanted to get back with her.  You didn’t think about how this would affect the kids and me.  You’re a selfish man.  I wish I’d never married you.”

His face suffused with color.  “You should have married Jack,” he agreed.  “He loved you.”

“Why did you marry me, Adam?  I know that it wasn’t because you loved me.”

“Beth, I cared about you and I believed that in time, I would grow to love you.”

“But you never did.  Is she the reason?  Are you in love with her?”

He sighed.  “I never stopped loving her.”

My hand covered my mouth as I tried to stifle the sob that rose to my throat.  Pain, jealousy and anger gripped me.  “Please get out,” I muttered tightly.

“Okay, I’ll go.  I’m sorry.”  He turned and walked out of the kitchen.

Minutes later the front door opened and closed.  I sat there at the table for a very long time before I went upstairs to my room and locked myself in.  The next morning, I told the kids that Dad was out of town.  A few weeks later, I filed for a divorce.  Adam and I have joint custody of the kids.  He and his ex- got married.

As I stood on the beach, gazing out at the ocean, I think about Jack.  He’s living in Seville and is happily married to a beautiful Spanish woman.   He friended me on Facebook and sent me photos of him and his family.  I’m truly happy for him.  He’s a good man and he deserves to be with a good woman.  There are moments when I still regret not choosing him.

As for me, I’m not ready for any relationships.  My kids and my career keep me busy.  I haven’t dismissed the idea of remarrying completely.  Who knows, one of these days, I just might get lucky and fall in love with a man who’s in love with me.

The Aftermath

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It’s a Saturday afternoon and I’m sitting in my apartment, feeling awful–really down because Bobby’s mother got very upset with me.  She wanted nothing more to do with me because I had told her that her son who was like a little brother to me wouldn’t go to Heaven because he had committed suicide.  The incident took place yesterday when I visited her.  This was a few days after the funeral.

“I refuse to believe that my 18 year old son who suffered from mental illness isn’t with the Lord Jesus.  What right do you have to tell me that he’s going to Hell?”

“Mrs. Bradshaw, I didn’t say that he was going to Hell.  All I said was that people who take their own lives cannot enter God’s kingdom.”

“Well, if Bobby isn’t in Heaven, that leaves only Hell because I don’t believe in Purgatory.”

“Mrs. Bradshaw, Bobby isn’t in Heaven or Hell.  He’s in the grave like the rest of the dead until they are resurrected.”

“That’s enough, Abiyomi.  I’m not going to listen to any more of your hateful, judgmental diatribe against my son.  Now, get out of my house.  I never want to see you ever again.”  She marched over to the front door and flung it open, her eyes hostile as they met mine.  Pain and fury marred her pale features.

As I scurried past her, I mumbled, “I’m sorry…” and was rewarded with a forceful slam of the door.  I ran to my car, jumped in and sped off, tears streaming down my face.  I drove straight over to my parents’ home and told my mother everything.  She hugged me tightly and said, “Baby, Mrs. Bradshaw can’t accept that her son is lost.  No parent  could accept it.  It’s hard enough to deal with Bobby’s suicide.  She doesn’t want to hear that he wouldn’t go to Heaven because of it.  All you can do right now is to pray for her and others who believe as she does.”

“She hates me.”

“She  doesn’t hate you.  She’s angry and still trying to come to terms with the fact that her son took his life.  She has had a lot to deal with over the years.  You know what it’s like to have a loved one suffering with mental illness.  Your aunt Mavis was bi-polar and taking care of her took a great toll on your grandparents but they managed with God’s help and now she is living a productive life.  I never told you but she tried to kill herself when she was 13 years old but she didn’t because she said that God prevented her.  My parents got a Christian Psychotherapist to help her and a doctor to help with her medication.  It’s too bad we didn’t think of having Bobby talk to her.  Perhaps she might have been able to help him.”

“I wish I had thought of Aunt Mavis.  I could have asked her to help Bobby.”  I began to cry again.

“Hush.  Hush.  Don’t beat yourself up over this.  Bobby’s parents did their best to help him and so did his friends.  Bobby suffered from depression and it’s important to know that when a teen attempts to or commits suicide it isn’t because he or she wants to die, but, it’s an attempt to escape a bad situation and or painful feelings.”

“If Bobby’s reasons for taking his life was to escape his pain why wouldn’t God let him into Heaven?”

“Whatever the reasons, however logical it may seem to the person who commits suicide, it is still wrong.  We can never rationalize the taking of a life.  It’s tragic that Bobby felt that he had nowhere to turn.”

“I wish I had spent more time with him, talked with him, prayed with him, helped him but I was too busy with my own life.”

“Are you sure that his suicide and what happened with his mother are the only reasons why you’re so upset?” my mother asked me.  She was studying me very closely now.  “I have a feeling that there’s something else.”

She knew me so well it was unnerving at times but not now.  “It’s Bobby’s Uncle Marcus,” I admitted.  “I’m worried that he will feel the same way as Mrs. Bradshaw and not want to have anything more to do with me.”

“Do you have feelings for him?”

“Yes, I do and I believe he has feelings for me too but I’m afraid that will change when Mrs. Bradshaw tells him what I said to her.”

“How long have you two been seeing each other?”

I told her.

“How old is he?”

“Fifty.”

“He’s twice your age, Abi.”

“That doesn’t matter, Mom.”

“Is he married?”

“No.  If he were, I wouldn’t be dating him.”

“Was he ever married?”

“No.”

“And he’s not in a relationship?”

“No.”

“I hope not for your sake.  So, what are you going to do if he sides with his sister?”

I sighed heavily.  “I guess I can kiss any future with him goodbye,” I muttered and the tears began to fall afresh.  I brushed them away and got up from the sofa.  “I have to go.”

My mother’s eyebrows rose and she sounded disappointed when she concluded,  “So, you’re not going to stay and have something to eat?”

“No.  I just want to be alone right now and think about things.  Thanks for everything.  I’ll call you over the weekend.  Love you.”  I grabbed my bag and practically ran out of the house.  I couldn’t wait to get home.

I haven’t left my apartment since I came in yesterday.  I’m feeling miserable and I keep playing my conversation with Mrs. Bradshaw over and over in my head and I keep thinking about Marcus.  Bobby and he were close so most likely he too would have a big issue with the things I said.  I have to defend God’s truth no matter what even if that means losing Marcus in the process.  I wanted to believe that as an Adventist he would see suicide the same way I did–that he wouldn’t allow his love for Bobby to blind him to the truth.

327_16839_13The ringing of the doorbell interrupted my thoughts and I got up from the rug and went to answer the door.   It was Marcus.  Heart racing, I opened the door.  He looked serious.  “Hello,” I said.

“Hello.”

“Please come in.”  I stepped aside for him to come in before closing the door.   I preceded him into the living-room.  Neither of us sat down, though.  We both remained standing.   He was watching me.  I couldn’t hardly think straight and I tried not to stare at his muscular arms in the tee shirt which looked really good on him.  I looked away.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

“No,” I admitted.  “I have been having a hard time since yesterday.”

“I know.  Elaine called me last night.”

I looked at him then, my heart sinking.  “So, she told you what happened.”

“Yes.  I heard her side of the story.  And now, I would like to hear yours.”

Taking a deep breath, I told him what happened and ended by saying, “I couldn’t let her believe a lie even if telling her the truth would be painful.”

He took my hands and led me over to the  sofa where we sat down.  We sat so that we were facing each other and he was still holding my hands.  “Sometimes, we need to know when is the appropriate time to share biblical truths especially when it comes to sensitive situations as in the case of Bobby’s death.  A couple of years ago, I attended a student’s funeral.  The priest told his family and the mourners that he wouldn’t get into Heaven because he committed suicide.  Now, even though what he said was true, was it right for him to tell them that?  Wouldn’t it have been kinder and more compassionate to just celebrate how the young man lived instead of focusing on how he died.   I don’t think he should have mentioned anything about the suicide.  It was neither the place nor the time for that.  The family was already reeling from a traumatic loss without him compounding it with his insensitive remarks.  Suffice to say, that priest is no longer handling funerals and the last I heard, there’s a petition to have him fired.  Now, do you get my point, Abi?”

I suddenly felt very ashamed and I nodded.  “Yes.”

“As you know Bobby and I were very close.  There are times when I think that I should have done more to prevent his death.  Elaine blames herself because she believes that Bobby didn’t feel comfortable confiding in her and his father, Phil feels that he really didn’t know his son.  And his sister, Nicole is still in denial.  His death has taken a very heavy toll on us and we are still trying to process it. ”

“I too wish that I had seen the signs and had been more of a friend to him.”  My voice broke and tears sprang to my eyes.  He gently squeezed my hands.

“I honestly believe that Bobby could have been saved if he had had the right professional help.  He didn’t want to die.   He didn’t want to take his life.  He had mental health problems but with the right treatment and care he could still be alive today. I blame his death on the lack of support for people with mental health issues.  Right now, it’s hard to accept that he’s gone and to be told that he wouldn’t go to heaven because of what he did was just too much for her.  The best thing you can do for her right now is to stay away.”

I nodded.  “I will stay clear of her for a long as necessary.  I hope that she will find it in her heart to forgive me.  I didn’t mean to upset her.”

“I know.  And I believe what you believe and that’s why it’s so hard…”  his voice broke.  “It’s so hard to accept that Bobby is lost…”  He got up suddenly and stood with his back to me.

My heart almost burst with love for him and sorrow.  I rose to my feet and went over to him.  I walked around so that I was in front of him and I reached up and put my arms around his neck.  His arms went around my waist and he held me close.  I could feel his heart beating.  We remained like that for a long, long time.  When he drew back to look down at me, both of our faces were wet with tears.

“Since Bobby died, life has been tough but something wonderful has come out of all of this,” he said.  “I met you.”

I smiled.  “Yes.  My life changed the day Bobby introduced us.”

“I never once imagined that I would fall in love with a girl half my age.”

“I’ve always had a thing for older men.”

“Well, this older man wants to spend the rest of his life with you if you will have him.”

Of course, I will,” I cried.

He didn’t answer.  Instead, he kissed me.

Sources:  Healthy Place; The JournalNewshub

Doubt

“Occupy your mind with My love, leaving no room for worry and doubt.”

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Doubt is like a bad penny.  It always keeps turning up.  It seems that no matter how many times we see the hand of God working in our lives, there is always room for doubt.  Even when we have a close relationship with Him, there are times when we still have doubts.  The disciples, who spent so much time with Jesus, still had doubts.  When Jesus told them, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” they thought He was referring to food.

Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he said, “You have so little faith!  Why are you worried about having no food?  Won’t you ever understand?  Don’t you remember the five thousand I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of food that were left over?  Don’t you remember the four thousand I fed with seven loaves, with baskets of food left over?  How could you even think I was talking about food? So again I say, `Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6-13) He was reminding them that each time they needed food, He was able to provide.  Then it dawned on them that He wasn’t speaking about yeast or bread but the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The disciples had seen Him perform miracles before and they had forgotten how He had fed thousands of people with what seemed like very little food.  He had made a little go a long way.  Like the disciples, we too doubt the power of God and He has to remind us.

The disciples doubted the resurrection.  The Bible says, it was early on Sunday morning when Jesus rose from the dead, and the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons.  She went and found the disciples, who were grieving and weeping.  But when she told them that Jesus was alive and she had seen him, they didn’t believe her.  Jesus also appeared to two other people.

At first they didn’t recognize Him because He had changed His appearance but once they realized that it was Him, they rushed back to tell the others but they didn’t believe them.   When Jesus appeared to the eleven, He rebuked them for their unbelief” (Mark 16:9-14).  In the Gospel of Matthew, it says, that when they saw Him, they worshipped Him: but some doubted (Matthew 28:17).

Mary had taken good news to the disciples but they allowed doubts to spoil what should have been a joyful moment.  Sometimes we allow doubts to get the better of us and we miss out.  Doubts could prevent us from seeing God’s blessings.  The religious leaders in Jesus’ time had the Light but their doubts kept them in darkness.  Doubts can hinder us from doing the Lord’s work.  Doubts can rob us of great opportunities.

Jesus does not want us to worry or have doubts.  He wants us to focus instead of Him and what He can do for us.  The next time you start to doubt Him, remember these words, “Only believe, only believe; All things are possible, only believe”.

Never doubt, only trust and believe.  Remember all the times Jesus came through for you.   Fill your mind with His love and promises.  Don’t clutter your mind with doubts.  As Paul advised us, “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).  Searching the scriptures will also help.  Diffuse the doubts with God’s Word.  Whenever you have a task to do and you start to have doubts about it, say to yourself “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Abiyomi Meets Marcus

© Copyright 2012 CorbisCorporationI’m trying really hard to concentrate on my job but it’s tough.  I couldn’t stop thinking about Marcus Kincaid, my friend, Bobby’s very handsome and charming uncle.  He was at the family’s barbecue. I was thrilled to see him.  From the moment we met which was about a year ago, I was smitten with him.  Bobby told me that women are always throwing themselves at him.  He said that his uncle seems quite happy being a bachelor and he didn’t think marriage was in the immediate future.

I wasn’t dating.  The last relationship I had ended two years ago after my boyfriend and I had a heated argument over the Once Saved Always Saved teaching.  He was emphatic that a person could not lose his or her salvation but I told him that when we accept Jesus, our names are written in the Book of Life but since they can be removed, it is possible for those who once accepted to reject.  He insisted that I was wrong and that once a person comes to Jesus they can never lose their salvation.  He told me that I was confused about a lot of things in the Bible and that I needed to get my facts straight.  He became very livid and ended up storming out of my flat.  The next day he called and broke up with me.  The fact that it didn’t take me long to get over him made it clear to me that I wasn’t in love with him.

I decided that I would put dating on hold.  I had my work and church to keep me busy.  I didn’t mind being single.  And then, I met Marcus.  He was was sitting at one of the tables outside with a couple of people when Bobby took me over to meet him.  He was wearing a white tee shirt which hugged his muscular body and a pair of navy blue slacks.   He was wearing sunglasses so I couldn’t see his eyes but I knew he was watching me as Bobby introduced me to the other people at the table first.  There was a slight smile on his face.  When it was turn, he stood up, towering over me and held out his hand.  It swallowed mine and it felt nice and warm.  “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” he said.

I smiled shyly up at him.  “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.  Bobby has told me so much about you.”

“I’ve heard a lot about you too.  Wouldn’t you join us?”

“Sure.  Thank you.”  I sat down in the chair adjacent to his which he resumed.

Bobby didn’t join us.  He went off to help his father with the burgers.  The people who were at the table excused themselves and went off.  Marcus leaned back in his chair and studied me.  I was nervous but tried to appear relaxed.  “How old are you?” he asked, startling me.

“Twenty-five.”

226158_mww“Really?” he sounded surprised.  “I could have sworn that you were Bobby’s age.”

“You’re not the first person to tell me that I look much younger than I am.”

“I’m 50 years old, you know.”

It was my turn to be surprised.  “Really?” I exclaimed.  “You look like you’re in your late thirties.”

He laughed.  “You flatter me,” he remarked.  “I guess I owe it all to keeping fit and eating well.  Tell me, are you dating anyone?”

Again I was taken aback by his question.  “No.  Work and church keep me busy.”

“What kind of work do you do?”

“I’m a Graphic Designer.”

“Sounds very interesting.  Which area do you work in?”

“I do visual branding for companies, such as logos.”

“Do you enjoy what you do?”

“Yes, very much.  What about you?  Bobby told me that you’re a professor of Classics at Stanford.”

“Yes, I love teaching and have always been fascinated by Greek and Roman literature, art, history and culture.  My course deals with how those two ancient civilizations have globally influenced the societies we live in.”

“I love Greek and Italian food,” I said and he smiled.

“There’s a new Greek restaurant called Evvia Estiatorio.  I’ve never been there but I’ve heard that it’s even better than the restaurants in Greece.  If you’re not busy next week Saturday, I’d like to take there for dinner.”

After I recovered from my shock, I managed to say, “That would be nice,” rather breathlessly.

We spent the rest of the afternoon together and when I was leaving, Bobby said to me, “I knew that you two would hit it off.”  I didn’t tell him that his uncle was taking me out for dinner.

And that’s what’s occupying my thoughts now.  Tomorrow’s Saturday and I can’t wait to see Marcus.  Now, I just have to figure out what I’m going to wear so that I will wow him.

Sources:  Youth Employement; Stanford University;

 

Lavinia and Franco

curvy3Lavinia was standing outside of the office building waiting for the courier.  He had an important package for her boss and she wanted it to be given to her directly.  It was a mild afternoon.  As she waited,  Teresa, whom she couldn’t stand walked up with her boss, Franco, one of the company’s directors in tow.  They were returning from one of their lunches.  He was a gorgeous man and Lavinia couldn’t deny that she was attracted to him.  Their eyes met over Teresa’s head.

“Waiting for someone?” he asked.

“Yes, the courier.”

“Aren’t you cold?” Teresa demanded, eyeing her critically.

“No, I’m not,” Lavinia replied shortly.  Why should it matter to her that she wasn’t wearing her coat?

“I hope you don’t have to wait long,” Franco said.  The expression on his face made her mouth go dry.

She smiled.  “I hope not too.”

He held the door open and his gaze lingered on Lavinia before he followed Teresa into the building.

Lavinia couldn’t shake the feeling that he was attracted to her too but what about Teresa?  Just then, the courier came and after signing for the package, she went up to the office.  She went straight to her boss, Mitch’s office and handed him the package.  Then, she went into the kitchenette to fix herself a cup of Herbal tea.  She was just about to return to her desk when Teresa walked in, her expression thunderous.

“I saw the way you were looking at Franco a few minutes ago when were standing outside.”

“I don’t know what you think you saw.”

“Forget it, Lavinia.  You aren’t his type.”

Lavinia’s mouth tightened.  “And I suppose you are.”

Teresa flicked her glossy black hair over her shoulder with a well manicured hand.  “Yes.”

“Why, is it because you look like those half-starved bundles of twigs who call themselves fashion models?”

Teresa’s eyes flashed at her.  “There’s no need to get nasty because Franco prefers his women to be slim instead of being heavyset.

Laconia bristled.  “For your information, I’m curvy NOT heavyset.”

“You’re still not his type so you need to stop throwing yourself at him.”

“Girl, you’re out of your mind.  I have NEVER thrown myself at Franco.”

“Whenever he leaves his office, you’re always there trying to get his attention.”

“I don’t have to try to get any man’s attention.  And for your information, he’s the one who strikes up a conversation every time I see him.  Maybe you should be telling him to stay away from me. Excuse me.  I’ve got work to do.”  She turned and sauntered away before Teresa could say anything.

Lavinia went back to her cubicle and sat down at her desk, fuming.  If she weren’t a God fearing woman, she would have accidentally on purpose spilled her tea on Teresa’s Dolce & Gabbana blouse.  What Franco saw in her, she had no clue.  Granted she was stunning and smart but she was vain and impossible to get along with.  None of the women in the department liked her.

Her phone rang and her heart leapt when she recognized the extension on the display.  Taking a deep breath, she picked up the receiver.  “Yes, Franco.”

“I know that you’re probably busy but can you spare a few minutes?”

“Sure.  I’ll be right there.”

After she hung up, she stood, smoothed her dress and her hair before she headed to his office.  She had the pleasure of walking past Teresa’s desk and straight to Franco’s door which was slightly ajar.  She smiled when she saw the other woman’s miffed expression as she closed the door behind her.

MitiaFranco was sitting behind his desk.  He had removed his jacket.  The white shirt he wore accentuated his swarthy complexion.  When she walked over to him, she saw the way his eyes traveled slowly and deliberately over her and she tried to ignore her body’s response.  She stood in front of his desk, looking down at him.  “You wanted to see me?”

He leaned back in this chair, placed his hand over his chin.  Did he have any idea of how delectable he looked at that moment?  “Have dinner with me tonight.”

After she recovered from her surprise, she replied rather breathlessly, “I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t make it a habit of going out with another woman’s man.”

He frowned.  “What are you talking about?”

“You and Teresa.”

“What about us?”

“Don’t play dumb with me.  I know that you and she are in a relationship.”

“Yes, a business relationship.”

“But I’ve seen the two of you go out for lunch several times.”

“Those were all business lunches with other clients.  There has never been anything personal or romantic between Teresa and me.”

“Maybe you should make that clear to her.”

“I will.  Now, will you have dinner with me?”

“Sure.”

He grinned making her heart flutter.  “Good.  I’ll pick you up at seven.”

She reached for the one of the sticky pads on his desk and she wrote her address and number before tearing the sheet off and handing it to him.  When he reached over took it from her, he deliberately let his fingers touch hers.  Her eyes flew up to his face and what she saw there made her heart skip a beat.  “I–I’d better go,” she stammered.

“What’s the hurry?” he asked as he got up from the desk and walked around to where she stood.

“I-I have letters to type, photocopying, filing and–” She was nervous now.  This was the first time she had ever been alone with him.

He touched her face, making her breath quicken.  “Eres una mujer muy hermosa.”

It was the first time she had heard him speak Spanish and it sounded very sensual.  “What-what did you say?”

He moved closer.  “I said that you’re a very beautiful woman.”

“Thank you.”  She wondered what Teresa say about that.  “I didn’t think I was your type.”

“You’re exactly my type.  You’re beautiful, sexy and highly intelligent.”

“I thought Teresa was more your type.”

“Teresa is a very attractive woman but she doesn’t do anything for me.  You, on the other hand, drive me crazy…” He reached out, caught her by the waist and pulled her against him, making her gasp.  His smoldering eyes raked her upturned face before his mouth found hers.  Her eyes fell shut as his lips moved passionately on hers and her arms wound themselves about his neck.  She couldn’t believe that she was standing there in his office kissing him.

The knock on the door jolted them and they broke apart.  He leaned against the desk, breathing heavily and she frantically straightened her clothes and ran her trembling hand over her hair.  After he managed to compose himself, Franco called out, “Yes?”

The door opened and Teresa walked in.  She stopped half way, her gaze shifting from one to the other.  “The Board meeting is about to start in ten minutes,” she said.

Franco reached for his jacket and pulled it on.  “Thanks, Teresa.  I will head over now.”

Teresa lingered for a few minutes and then she left, leaving the door ajar.  Lavinia turned to face him.  “I really should get back to my desk.”

“I’ll see you later,” he said before he leaned over and kissed her on the side of her neck, making her tremble.  When he drew back to look down at her, his face was flushed.  He walked past her and out of the office.

She leaned against the desk for a few minutes, her mind whirling, trying to catch her breath and then, she left.  As soon as she sat down at her desk, Teresa was standing over her, livid.  “What were you doing in Franco’s office?” she demanded.

Lavinia raised her head and looked her calmly in the face and said, “That’s between Franco and me.  Now if you will excuse me, I have work to do.”

Teresa flounced away.  When Franco returned from the meeting, he called her into his office.  Since that day, there weren’t any more confrontations between Lavinia and her–not if she wanted to keep her job.  And Franco signed her up for the Getting Along in the Workplace course.  After their dinner date that night, Lavinia and he officially began dating.

The Preacher’s Son

63bd04344f09d5e8bd3b06820c0af8c2The first time I saw her, I knew that I was in very serious trouble.  We met at my sister’s wedding.  She’s my brother-in-law Jack’s secretary.  She went with a male co-worker and I went with Rachel, a woman I have been dating for a while.  Both our families have this expectation that we are next in line to get married.  I’m not sure why they think that.  Granted, Rachel is a terrific person, very beautiful and I enjoy her company but there was something missing.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

It wasn’t until I met Leila that I realized what was missing for me in my relationship with Rachel–sexual desire.  I never felt it for her but the moment I laid eyes on Leila, I wanted her.  After we met, I could hardly take my eyes off her and the first opportunity I got, I asked her to have dinner with me even though I was still dating Rachel.  Leila accepted.  I took her to a restaurant which had gotten rave reviews and we had a great time.  I asked her out after that and we started dating.  Things were going well.  I made sure that I never went to her place or she came to mine because I was afraid of what would happen.  It was hard being with her and not want to touch her. When I was with Rachel I thought about her and wondered if she was thinking about me.  For a long while, I was dating both women unbeknown to them.  Not the sort of thing you would expect from a preacher’s son, is it?

At nights when I was alone, I thought about Leila and what it would be like to make love to her.  Then, I recalled the scriptures in the Bible which spoke against pre-marital sex.  What was I going to do?  I wanted Leila but I couldn’t have her because of my religious convictions.  Should I break up with her and marry Rachel?  How could I marry Rachel when I didn’t love her?  I ended up breaking up with her much to our families’ chagrin.  It didn’t matter when I tried to explain to them that she would be better off with a man who would love her in return.  They made me feel like I had committed the unpardonable sin.  I knew that I had done the right and honorable thing.  If only I knew what to do about Leila.

Leila knew that I was a Christian but she didn’t know that my father was a preacher.  I wasn’t sure that I wanted to tell her that.  Would she treat me differently?  I thought of talking to my father about my relationship with her but I knew that he wouldn’t approve.  I can just hear him say, “You need to end your relationship with this woman because you aren’t like her.  She doesn’t believe in the things you do.  The two of you don’t belong together.  It’s like light and darkness which cannot be together.”

Last night when Leila and I were together, she said to me, “I’ve dated Christian men in the past but I never once thought that I would be attracted to one who’s younger and white until I met you.  You’re different.  I think about you constantly and I can’t help wondering what it would be like to sleep with you.”

I stiffened although my body was reacting to the idea of sleeping with her.  “Leila, I don’t think we should be talking about this…”

“I know that you’re a Christian and you don’t want to have sex before you get married, but there isn’t any harm in us kissing, is there?”  Before I could answer, she was kissing me.  Her hands were pressing down on my thighs as she leaned over.  We were in my car, parked outside of her building.  We had been to a Mozart concert.  The windows were rolled up and it was dark where we were so no one could see us.  I lost my head and kissed her back.

For several minutes, we exchanged passionate kisses and I was tempted–really, really tempted to go up to her flat with her but I had to be strong even if it killed me.  I groaned against her lips before I pulled away.  “I’m sorry, I can’t do this.”

She sat back in the seat.  “I’m the one who should be sorry,” she said.  “I shouldn’t have kissed you.”

“Leila, maybe we should stop seeing each other for a while,” I said.

“If that’s what you really want.”

“Leila…”

“Goodbye, Leif.” She got out of the car before I could say anything else and ran up the steps leading to the front entrance of her building.  I watched her go, my heart breaking.

Prodigal

The next several weeks were torture for me.  I thought about her every minute and missed her so very much.  I wanted to call her and tell her that I had made a mistake.  I wanted to drive over to her place and take her in my arms.  I was a wreck.  I couldn’t eat or sleep or think straight.  I went to church but I found no joy in it.  I went through the motions and I felt guilty.  I asked God to forgive me for allowing my feelings for Leila to replace my adoration for Him.

I decided to go away on a mission trip to Peru just to get my mind off my own problems and to focus on helping others and sharing the Gospel with them.  Unfortunately, being miles away in a foreign country and on another continent didn’t dampen my feelings for Leila.  I still wanted her.  I still ached for her.

It was harder at nights when I was alone.  During those times, I wished that she was lying next to me.  One night, I opened my Bible to 1 Corinthians 7 and the words, But if they cannot control their bodies, then they should marry. It is better to marry than to burn with lust” jumped out at me and I asked myself, Why don’t I marry Leila?  It made perfect sense to me.  I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life without her.  But then, at the more I thought about it the more I realized that it would be wrong to marry her just to satisfy my lust.  How could I be so selfish?  No, the best thing for me to do was to move on.

That was easier said than done.  I tried to move on with my life–forget about Leila by busying myself at work and church but nothing worked.  And now, several weeks since my return from Peru,  I’m standing in her flat, hands in pockets, facing her.

“So, how was your trip to Peru?” she asked.

“It was rewarding.”

“I see.”

“I miss you.  I think about you all the time.”

“I miss you too.”

“Leila, during these past several weeks, I have realized something really important.”

“What’s that?”

“I can’t live without you.  I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

“What are you saying, Leif?”

“I’m saying that I want to marry you, Leila.”

“You’re a preacher’s son, Leif.  I wouldn’t be a suitable wife for you.”

I stared at her.  “You know that my father’s a preacher?”

“Yes.”

“How long have you known?”

“Since we met.  Jack told me.”

“And it didn’t bother you?”

“No.  Why should it?”

“I was worried that it might, especially after you told me that church wasn’t for you.”

“I used to go to church you know but after a while I hated going because the single and married women didn’t like me.  The married women thought that I was after their husbands and the single women resented me because most of the single men were interested in me.  The guy I ended up dating dumped me after he became a deacon.  He said that I wouldn’t be suitable as his wife because I wasn’t a virgin.  I was good enough to sleep with but not to marry.  I left the church right after that.  I wasn’t right for him and I wouldn’t be right for you for the same reason.  How would it look a preacher’s son getting hitched to a sinner like me–a wanton woman–a woman of ill repute–a pariah?”

“You’re none of those things.  You’re a very beautiful and desirable woman.  It isn’t your fault that men want you.  And being a preacher’s son didn’t prevent me from going to wild parties and hanging out with the wrong crowd.  I’m not a virgin.  I had several girlfriends but what got me back on the right track was a pregnancy scare.  It turned out that my girlfriend’s period was late.  We were both relieved that she wasn’t pregnant. I cleaned up my act them.  I stopped partying, hanging out with the wrong people and decided that I would wait until I’m married to have sex again.  I became a born again Christian and you can do the same.  Nothing is impossible with God.”

“I still believe in Him even though I don’t go to church anymore.”

“I want you to know that He loves you, Leila.  He never stopped.  All He wants is to have a relationship with you if you will give your heart and your life to Him.  It isn’t too late to do so.”

“You sound like a preacher’s son,” she said, smiling.  Her eyes were moist as they met mine.  “Maybe that’s your calling–to follow in your father’s footsteps.”

“No, my calling is to remind people that God loves them like I’m doing right now.  And I believe that it was He who brought us together.”

“Do you really believe that?”

“Yes!  And I’m so thankful to Him because I love you, Leila.”  It was true.  I realized it last night.  I was in love with her.  I wasn’t marrying her to satisfy my lust.

“I love you too.  I didn’t want to fall in love with you because of our differences but I couldn’t help myself.”

“Sometimes the differences between two people can enrich their relationship because each person brings something to the other.”

“I’m not like you when it comes to spiritual things but I have a lot to offer you.”

“I know you do and that’s why I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”  I reached for her and pulled her into my arms.  “So, how do you feel about marrying a preacher’s son?” I asked.

She put her arms around my neck.  “I feel blessed and humbled,” she said simply.

I smiled and kissed her.  I too felt blessed and thankful because she was the woman I was meant to be with.

Source:  Lang-8