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Saturday came, and Denise managed to spend the
night with Nancy, who was already allowed to date. So
Nancy's mother thought nothing of it when Mark and Jon
came to pick up the girls.
Denise had been sort
'on edge' all week, but she didn't think her family had
noticed. At least, no one acted suspicious. Everything
had worked out fine, Denise thought.
Denise promised to be at Church, and early enough for
Sunday School, in exchange for 'sleep-over' privileges.
Doris and Tom, Denise's dad, had always insisted on
regular attendance. It was usually a drag to Denise, but
it was just one of those things. Nancy's mom didn't go
to Church and never insisted that Nancy go. And she was
a good person! Better than some that went all the time,
Denise reasoned. But, nevertheless, that was just part
of it for her! At she would get to be with Jon! And he
was just so sweet! And so exciting! And so handsome!
The foursome drove in Jon's car to a larger town
nearby. They planned to catch a movie and eat out. It
was going to be such fun! Jon asked mark to drive, to
Denise's surprise and Mark had accepted without
But, in the back seat, Jon insisted
that Denise sit close to him. She wasn't sure just what
she should do. What would Nancy and Mark think, it being
her first date with Jon? But, Jon wouldn't take 'no' for
an answer and she really wanted to be close to him
anyway! He slid his arm around her shoulder and she felt
so warm and dreamy. And he smelled so good! He was
funny, too, Denise discovered, as he kept cracking jokes
and being silly.
The movie was good, but a
little embarrassing. Some of the love scenes were a
little too much! Denise and Nancy excused themselves to
the restroom, once, when it looked like a really crude
scene might be coming. Jon and Mark laughed at them, as
if they knew why they chose to leave at just that
After the movie, Jon insisted they go to
a nice restaurant as he was buying! So he was a big
spender, too! He didn't have a job, Denise realized, but
she supposed he must have a good allowance. His folks
looked like they could afford it!
It had been a
really fun night and Denise was 'dreamy-eyed' on the way
home. She wasn't used to staying up so late at night.
And sitting so close to Jon in the darkness of the car,
his arm around her, Denise gave in to the warmth of the
moment, as she leaned toward him and laid her head on
his chest, relaxing completely as she listened to the
regular, soft beat of his heart. It seemed as if she had
always known him, she discovered, and loved him. As if
they were meant to be together, forever!
Eventually, the car pulled up in front of
Nancy's house. The porch light was on. Mark got out of
the car, went around to the passenger side and assisted
Nancy out. With a glance at the couple in the back seat,
he began to walk with Nancy to the door of her house.
Jon leaned down, kissing Denise softly, then
again, as he held her closer and whispered in her
ear,"Babe, it's been fun. I love being with you. You're
so sweet. I don't want to leave you."
I've had a good time, too." Denise said, sleepily. She
didn't want to leave the warm circle of his arms,
either. But, it was time. She looked around and saw that
Nancy and Mark were already parting at the front door.
Jon kissed her again, then reluctantly began to
climb out of the car and assisting Denise. "When can I
see you again?" Jon asked anxiously. "How about if I
call you in the morning? Well," he laughed softly, "I
guess it's morning already, huh."
"Oh, Nancy and
I will be going to Church this morning. We promised my
mom. But then I'll be going back home. Maybe we can meet
in the backyard after lunch," she suggested hopefully.
"Mom and Dad usually rest on Sunday afternoons, and they
don't worry much about what I'm doing," Denise
"OK, I'll plan on seeing you in the
backyard, then." Jon replied softly, as Mark returned to
the car, passenger side, this time.
hurried to the house as Jon drove off. Looking back, she
longed after Jon. This was absolutely Heaven, she
Nancy and Denise didn't get much
sleep that night. They talked and talked and talked!
Denise thought she had never been so happy! Nancy and
Mark had been 'going steady' for about two months and
everything seemed to be going well for them. And Mark
and Jon seemed to get along so well. Almost instant
friends, Denise reflected.
Denise's relationship with Jon. She was busy planning
all the things they could do together as a foursome.
That way, it didn't get boring, Nancy explained to
Denise. Mark was awfully sweet and usually a lot of fun,
but, sometimes, things got a little dull, she confided.
The only dark cloud hanging over Denise was the
fact that she had to hide her joy from her family and
sneak around to be with Jon. There had to be another
way! And, yet, she couldn't imagine her mom and dad
approving her plans. Mom had already judged Jon on the
basis of rumor and found him lacking! Oh, well, it would
all work out somehow. Things always did.
and Nancy arrived at Church just as Sunday School was
starting. Roger Thompson was the youth teacher. He was a
young guy, good-looking in an off-hand way, Denise
thought, and seemed very knowledgeable. But, he was
strange! He acted as if he really believed what he was
teaching out of the Bible, as if it really happened just
as it was written. Denise knew that the stories in the
Bible were just illustrations of good and bad moral
behavior and attitudes!
At one time, Denise had
believed it literally, but she had been young. And Mom
and Dad had explained to her that it was very good to be
kind and loving and good, but people went to Church in
order to be respected and admired. And it was good for
Dad's business. In the Insurance business, her dad
explained, you have to be respected, admired and
trusted. Participating in Church, community affairs and
school functions built trust. Denise had decided it made
sense and after all, Dad's business was good and he had
many friends. But, they had explained to her, you just
can't take the Bible literally. Only fanatics do that.
They take things way too far, Dad had said.
guess Mr. Thompson is a fanatic, Denise thought. And it
was a real shame, too.
Their lesson was I John,
chapter 2 today. They took turns reading two verses
each, as Mr. Thompson instructed. At Denise's turn, she
|"Love not the world, neither the
things that are in the world. If any man love the
world, the love of the Father is not in him. For
all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh
and the pride of life is not of the Father, but is
It doesn't even make sense, Denise
thought, trying to understand what it could mean. How
could you love the world, anyway? Oh well, why worry
about it, she decided. It didn't really mean anything
anyway. Just like some of the poetry that everybody
seemed to love, but was beyond her understanding.
After all the verses in the chapter had been
read aloud, Mr. Thompson began to teach on those things.
He talked about sin, being separated from God because of
the sin nature, being 'born again', the Lord's returning
and not being ashamed of Him at His coming.
of this seemed to mean anything to Denise. She wanted to
believe, she told herself, but how can you believe
something like that? It sounded like science-fiction to
her. Denise wondered if there really was a God. Could
there really be someone 'up there' who really loved her?
Then why did Mom and Dad believe it?
inside, Denise wanted very much to believe there was a
loving God that knew all about her, loved her anyway and
could help her be good. Then her thoughts drifted back
to Jon. Well, if this stuff was true and if there really
was a God, she guessed He wouldn't understand about her
lying to her parents. Maybe it was better if there
wasn't a God, she concluded.
The Church service
was rather boring to Denise, after the singing was over.
Denise enjoyed the singing, especially the special songs
that were sung solo or by a group. They were more modern
But, the preaching was making
Denise sleepy and she and Nancy had to take turns
pinching each other to stay awake, then they would
almost start giggling, right there in Church! But they
made through the service and they left the Church with
Denise's folks and dropped Nancy off at her house as
Denise eagerly anticipated the afternoon rendezvous with
When they arrived at home, Denise began
setting the table for lunch and assisting her mom in
getting the food on the table. Doris always planned
ahead. She had been taught well by her mother and was
intent on passing it on to her daughter.
lunch, Todd, Denise's younger brother, reluctantly
helped her with the dishes. He wanted to go to a
friend's house on the next block for a game of baseball
with the guys, but Mom had insisted that he help Denise
with the dishes, first!
Doris and Tom retired to
the bedroom to rest, Tom with the newspaper and reading
glasses and Doris with her new novel. Mom loved to read,
Denise reflected. Denise enjoyed reading too, except
when she saw there were more exciting things to do, such
as meet with Jon this afternoon!
When the dishes
were finally done and Todd had gathered his baseball,
cap and glove, he headed out the door. Denise scrubbed
the sink and put up the dishcloth dutifully and, after
glancing out the side door to Jon's back yard, hurried
to her room. She quickly surveyed herself in the mirror
before going out to meet Jon.
It was such a
beautiful spring-like day! The sun was shining bright
and warm, again, and there was hardly any wind blowing.
The grass was already greening up from the recent rains
and the fruit trees in the backyard were covered with
blossoms, sending a sweet fragrance into the air. Denise
had heard her dad say that there probably wouldn't be
much fruit this year, the trees were blooming too early
and would probably be killed by the late frost. But, it
was a beautiful day!
Denise chose a sunny spot
away from the trees, but near the chain-link fence which
separated the two yards and began opening out a webbed
lounge chair and reclining, tuned in her favorite radio
station on the portable stereo. She adjusted the volume
to avoid disturbing her resting parents, and glanced
anxiously to the River's house for a sign of
She could hardly wait for that handsome hunk
to come out! She couldn't believe her luck, getting all
his attention like this! No longer did she regard her
mother's warning about him, if she ever had, now that
she knew he was a really super guy! A girl could just
tell about things like that. The sooner Mom and Dad
realized it, the better. She would have to work on
Jon peeked out his bedroom
window through which he could view the Whitaker's
backyard as well as his own. Yes, there she was. Gosh,
he had lucked out in getting to move next door to her!
He hadn't wanted to move away from his friends in
California, but, here he was, at his family's
insistance. He had moved into a new neighborhood, in a
small town, among relatives he had never known, starting
a new school in the middle of his senior year, and
having to make all new friends. Well, since he had no
choice in the matter, he may as well make the best of
The worst part of it all was having to leave
Carolyn behind. His mom and dad didn't like him seeing
her at all and Jon suspected that probably was the
reason for the drastic move.
Carolyn was a model,
five years older than Jon, but so what? They got along
just great. And she was so much fun and made him feel so
mature, much more than just seventeen. She had told him
he could pass for twenty-one and he had, several times,
with the fake I.D. she had gotten for him. She took him
to parties and clubs in San Diego, near where they lived
and introduced him to her friends. Carolyn was always
coming up with something exciting to do. So what, if he
drank with the others, and got a little crazy? They had
talked about getting a place together when Jon finished
school. Of course, his parents would have a fit about
Jon had promised Carolyn that as soon as he
graduated and was on his own, he'd be back. She was
making good money as a model, but, of course, he'd have
to get a job too. Carolyn suggested that she could
probably get him a job with her company after his
eighteenth birthday, which would be soon after
graduation. This company was strict about your age.
Well, he felt like twenty-five after hanging around with
Carolyn's crowd. He'd learned an awful lot. Pretty
street-smart! he thought proudly.
But, while he
was here,(which wouldn't be long, the way he figured
it!), Denise was an interesting diversion. And he could
tell she was falling for him, hook, line and sinker!
Well, he could enjoy the time he had to be here. He
would just keep Carolyn and his plans to himself until
the time came and if Denise got her feelings hurt, oh,
well! He wasn't going to make any promises to her
anyway. Let her think what she wanted!
sauntered out the back door, smiling. "Hi! Been out here