The Kid

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Chapter Sixteen

The young lady was easily the most beautiful woman on the train station platform, and Jason was more than willing to admit that he might never have seen a more beautiful woman anywhere.

Although the fact that she was waiting for no other but him...might have colored his observation a little.

They embraced one another as friends might, after a separation...but it was still awkward, still unsure. Jason offered up his thousandth prayer for help in all situations Bostonian, and led the most beautiful woman he had ever seen over to one of the benches.

He saw in her eyes just a bit of the former Raven, the one he had met at first. He saw a bit of old fear. But he trusted God, and smiled at her. “You don’t have to be afraid.”

* * *

She had thought of him so much, especially after the telegram had come, and Raven Germane had prayed more than twice herself that things would work out right.

As they sat she prayed again--not that she would get what she wanted, not that everything would come up roses for Raven...but that God’s will would be done.

Whatever that was.

“So how was Iowa?”

* * *

“Enlightening. I’ll tell you all about the time I had, talking with Dad, everything. But let me share one thing first.” He looked her full in the striking green eyes, vaguely wishing his hands weren’t so rough as they folded around the softness of her own. “No matter what good or bad it brings my way, I have once again turned my life over to the care of Jesus Christ.

“I confessed a lot of things Friday night, and I have to confess to you my sins of anger, and pride, and--” he was blushingly embarrassed but wouldn’t let himself look away, “lust, and plain foolishness. I have treated you in terrible ways, Raven Germane, and I beg you to forgive me.”

* * *

She thanked her Lord and didn’t bother about the pair of tears that squeezed out, not at all minding, either, the warmth of Jason’s strong hands. “I forgive you.”

The man she loved smiled, and let out his breath in a whoosh, apparently having been worried that things might not go so well.

Men could be so silly.

But she did forgive him, and since things had been patched up, maybe...but he didn’t start talking about his current feelings, he didn’t mention those at all. He started talking about his time in Iowa, and amusement parks, and his father.

Raven listened, and made her heart be patient.

* * *

Jason spoke of his trip, of the amazing changes that had been found in his home out west. He told Raven much about the goodness of his father--still amazed himself at how blind he had been. How deceived.

But finally, despite the goodness of the recent past, The Kid had to face up to the decision still unmade, still unsure...despite all of the time spent thinking about it from Massachusetts to Iowa and back again, despite knowing for certain what was right and what was wrong.

Despite the simplicity of it all.

He said it aloud, hoping Raven might have some help for him--or would at least listen to him ramble. “The worst thing about this is how simple it is...or how simple it should be.

“Your dad--” and he saw her flinch at the mention of Bob Germane and resolved not to do it again, “set things out pretty clearly. I can play a bad game...that is, if he’ll still let me play after walking out on the team.” Jason had spent a lot of time wondering about that. What did the Braves think of him, just up and running out? How would they react to have him back? And would the owner of the Braves suffer him to play?

Chances were good that Bob would not only let Jason play, but would shout from the rooftops that he was back in town. How else to get that precious point spread to climb?

But he had lost his original thought. The decision. “I either play a bad game and throw the Series or I play a good game without any cheating.”

“Seems pretty simple.”

He knew he was in love with her, but just then Raven wasn’t helping. “If it were that easy. If it were just right or left, black or white...pick the right door and get the ice cream, wrong door and you’re eating brussel sprouts.

“But it won’t be that easy. The wrong door, doing the wrong thing, gives me everything I’ve ever wanted, Raven.” He looked deep into her eyes again. “Everything. Doing what I know is right--doing the right thing means that all I’ve worked for this year, all I’ve hoped for in the past years, it’s all gone.”

“I wish I could make it easier.”

“That’s the problem. It’s so easy. I just have to resign myself to losing everything and trusting that God will make it right in the end.”

“Pretty much.”

He gave her a wry look. “Anybody ever tell you that your sympathy lacks a little?”

Her look for him was one of long-suffering patience. “I’m working on it.”

“Work harder.”

She narrowed her eyes, and in a sudden spark of playfulness flicked her fingers against his earlobe. “I am, goofball.”

For a moment...for a moment he just let himself drink in the sight of her, the feel of the closeness between them. “There is one way you can make this decision easier.”

* * *

Raven began paying very close attention, praying all the while and trying not to let her heart get too excited. She had known dashed hopes before.

At least there was One who would never, ever leave her behind or stop loving her.

She took comfort from that and waited to hear what Jason had to say.

“It’s my dreams, Raven. I’ve done a great deal of thinking about dreams lately. You know how you’re afraid you’ll turn out like your father?”

Raven didn’t remember sharing that with Jason...he must have picked it up on his own. Such a perceptive lad he could be.

Yet she wouldn’t deny the truth of it. “Yes, Jason.”

He came up with painful truth of his own. “Well, if you’re afraid of becoming Bob Germane, I’m afraid of becoming Bud Tripplehorne.”

* * *

Jason was glad to be able to trust Raven with this discovery...but still, bringing it out into the open was not easy. “I’ve watched the man with his friends, with his family, and more than once--way too many times, in fact, I’ve seen the resemblances.

“He’s still looking for glory, because what he’s gotten wasn’t enough. He ignores or doesn’t notice the wonderful things in life, in his life, while constantly looking to be the best, to be told that he’s a valued and accepted and worthy person.

“And that’s exactly who I am now, and who I’ll be when I’m his age.”

To his surprise she didn’t frown but rather smiled at him, laying a hand on his arm. “That was the old Jason. The one that left here for Iowa three days ago.

“You’ve changed.”

“But have I changed enough? Can I really chase after what’s important? ’Lay aside treasure in heaven,” and all that?”

Her eyes were still cautious, still guarded. “So what’s important?”

Jason took his time to answer, just breathing once or twice--gathering the courage to accept whatever she would say or do. Praying that whatever happened would be okay with his Lord. “Serving God, however and wherever He wants me to...which I know means that tonight I can’t cheat. I can’t throw that game.

“But of all the things I’ll be giving up this evening when I hit my final home run--somehow, Raven, somehow I know the game’s going to come down to a last hit--of all the things I have to give up, the one loss that would be the worst...is you.”

* * *

She didn’t say anything. Let him finish. Make sure she wasn’t hearing things, if she could hear anything over the pounding of her heart.

“The money’s not that important, not that I’ve ever had all I wanted--money’s never been that important to me. There’s a thousand ways I can make enough to get by.

“Baseball...that’s a harder blow, giving up the one thing I’ve always wanted to do and finally got to do.” He didn’t look very happy about it, either. “But God has a good plan for my life--and He’ll give me something else to chase after, something else to desire, if baseball isn’t what He wants for me.”

He looked like he meant it, and thought she wouldn’t have thought it possible her love for him doubled at that moment. “Jason.”

When he looked up she raised her arms, pulling her hands from his, and leaned towards him.

* * *

Then she was in his embrace, as close as ever before, and both were crying. “Raven...this won’t make it easier, not if things don’t turn out like--like I would want.”

He felt her warm breath under his chin. “Just tell me.”

“It’s the last threat your father made. The one where he’ll marry you off to...” how had Bob put it? “The oldest, meanest, most disagreeable man he can come up with.

“I can’t conceive, can’t imagine losing you, Raven.” Would she want to hear it? Too late, the words were already coming out. “I love you with all my heart.”

* * *

She was new at the life of a servant, just a few steps along her Christ-like walk...but Raven had put practice into listening to her Spirit, and could not find any shadow in her conscience.

Praying for wisdom and help with everything including and especially her father, Raven put her hand on his chin, guiding his mouth down to hers.

* * *

A second kiss. As tender and loving and honest a touch as Jason had ever known.

He felt a tear on his cheek...and was unsure who had cried it. When he could breathe again he looked as deeply as he could into her sparkling eyes--and he realized she was letting him look as deeply as he might. As deep as the well that was Raven Germane could go.

Jason hoped fervently that he could believe his ears as they registered the words.

“I love you, Jason Stiller...and if you wish, I’ll follow wherever you go.”

He could think of nothing to say that would acceptably answer such a promise...so he kissed her again. And held her, and wished he had cause enough for God to stop time.

But he hadn’t, and the minutes slipping by were leaving decisions unmade, questions unanswered.

Jason confessed this to the woman he loved. “I still don’t know what to do.”

“The right thing.”

He almost laughed. “Do you plan to always be so open?”

She didn’t open her eyes, her brunette locks cradled against his chest. “Yes.”

“Okay. You can be the brains of the outfit...I’ve already got the looks.”

“I think you deceive yourself, Mr. Stiller.”

He laughed, smoothing that beautiful hair with his fingertips. “So if you’re the smart one and the beautiful one, what do I bring to the party?”

“Mmm, you’re very snuggly.”

* * *

She loved the sound of his laugh. But then his easy hold around her tightened, and he sighed, and she knew the inevitable decision had come up in his thoughts yet again. “You going to be okay?”

He didn’t answer for a long time, long enough that she pulled away to look at him. “Yes.” Then he looked down, almost as if he was embarrassed.

“But I need to talk to Him about it, and make my plans...and I think it’s best if I spend some time alone.” He looked back up. “That’s okay, right?”

Raven pursed her lips, and then smiled, running a gentle finger across his. “Yes.”

She let him enfold her hands with his own again, and then quickly bowed her own head as he did so.

“Father...I give all I have to you. Including this. Help me do what is right in your eyes this evening, and help Raven and I have a right relationship before you.

“Thy will be done, tonight and always, in my life.”

“In our lives.” It sounded corrective, but she wanted to make sure not to be left out...and gave his hands a squeeze to remind him that she loved him.

“In our lives. Amen.”

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