I wasn't always the law--abiding, churchgoing young woman I am today. Not too long ago I did shameful things and then ran far away. Not even my beloved fi anc�, youth minister Greg Whitten, knows the truth about my past. But now my worst nightmare has come true. Someone has pictures of the old me and is sending them to me, to Greg, to the church. And if I want to live happily ever after--if I want to live at all--I'll need my newfound faith and Greg's love more than ever.
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July 07, 2008
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Excerpt from Shadows at the Window by Linda Hall
I was in my boyfriend Greg's office when the e-mail came that would change everything. Greg is the youth pastor at the church I've been attending for seven years. My apartment building is just two doors away, so it's easy for me to pop over. Of course, that's something I do a lot. Any excuse is a good excuse for a visit.
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary that day. I traipsed into the church carrying my backpack, my classical guitar and a cardboard tray containing four coffees, plus a small bag of doughnut holes, which I had to hold in my teeth. There wasn't a whole lot of time for a visit and a chat. I had a guitar student at the music store where I work part-time, plus a music class of my own at the college in the afternoon.
Even though I was visiting Greg, I knew better than to bring coffee for just the two of us. There would probably be at least two more bodies in the church this morning. Brenda, the church secretary, would be there, along with Dave, the senior pastor. Paige, the music director, works part-time so I wasn't sure she'd be there but I was hoping she would. I had written a few of the worship songs that we sang in church and was having difficulty resolving the last verse of a new song--I was eager for her input. For the past seven years, Paige has been my music mentor. She's also been my good friend. She and her husband Henry are those rare people who you could call at three in the morning when bad news comes. Their daughter Sara is taking classical guitar lessons from me. I like her a lot.
I managed to push open the church door with my shoulder without spilling the coffee and found a gaping hole in the floor. The entire place was strung with caution tape. I'd have to walk through the basement, get lost and try to find my way up through narrow hallways back to the office area. The old building was undergoing a massive facelift. It was either that or tear it down. Since it's a heritage building, the church really had no option but to renovate.
This past summer the exterior was fully refurbished, complete with new copper turrets. And now that it was getting cooler, the inside was being torn out and rebuilt.
"I smell coffee," Brenda said, poking her head out of her office and talking to me over the yellow tape and the hole in the floor.
I dropped the doughnuts on top of the coffees and answered her.
"Yeah, but can I get there from here? Can I jump over?"
She shook her head. "I wouldn't even try it. They're taking up the floorboards and we've been warned that it's dangerous. I don't want you falling down two floors. Do you know the way through the basement?"
"Barely," I said. "I always get lost down there." It's full of bugs, too, I wanted to add, but didn't. "You guys need to put up a detour sign," I joked.
"Don't laugh. Dave wants me to do just that. Wait there. I'll come around and get you. Greg's on the phone or he would."
"Thanks." I leaned against the wall, laid my guitar case on the floor, and rested the tray of coffees and the doughnuts on top of it. Paint-splattered workmen chatted among themselves as they hammered and sawed. I heard the far-off sound of drills, saws and other equipment. Dust was everywhere. With both hands I pulled my hair out of my eyes and shoved it behind my ears. It was frizzing more than usual in the wet weather we'd been having. As I waited, I hummed a new praise song we'd sung here a week ago.
It seemed like five minutes before Brenda reappeared and picked up the bag of doughnut holes and the tray of coffees, saying, "How nice." I followed her down the main staircase to the basement, along an uneven cement corridor flanked on either side by tiny, dusty rooms which looked as though they were used for storage. I am seldom down in the bowels of the church--it's not a particularly appetizing place. I brushed cobwebs out of my hair as we made our way through the narrow hallways.
She said, "Soon this'll be torn up, too. They're planning to open up this whole area, tear out every single wall you see and put in bigger classrooms."
"That'll be nice."
"It's great. I didn't think I'd like it, but I'm settling in. It's been more than ten years since I've been in school, but I'm right back in the routine."
"You'll do fine," Brenda said.
We went up a set of skinny, creaky steps--the wood was shiny, worn down by a century of footsteps--and into yet another passage that led into the brightness of the wide church hallway, which housed the offices. I gave Brenda two coffees and some of the doughnut holes, and took the rest to Greg's office.
He was still on the phone, leaning against his bookshelf. I set my offerings on his desk. He smiled when he saw me. His grin widened when he saw the doughnut holes.
I realized that he was standing because the two chairs in his office were entirely covered with books, papers, CDs, DVDs, leaflets and odd bits of things. His entire office was in disarray.