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Sweet Deception

Chapter 2

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.

Nancy and 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 hesitation.

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 moment.

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 know. 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 explained.

"OK, I'll plan on seeing you in the backyard, then." Jon replied softly, as Mark returned to the car, passenger side, this time.

Denise hurried to the house as Jon drove off. Looking back, she longed after Jon. This was absolutely Heaven, she concluded.

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.

Nancy encouraged 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.

Denise 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.

I 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 read:

"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 of the world."

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.

None 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?

But, deep 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 and entertaining!

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 Jon.

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.

After 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 Jon.

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 that!


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 it!

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 that.

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!

Jon sauntered out the back door, smiling. "Hi! Been out here long?"

Rose Petals