Monday, January 28th
After work, Gracie arrived at the condo, went in, took her shoes, her coat and her mittens off, and walked to the kitchen. She made herself a cup of Chai tea and sat on the couch. Sounds of conversation came from Evie’s room, so she figured she must be on the phone, probably with her friend Carlo. Speaking of male friends, she thought about it, and decided that she needed to move on with her life, no matter how bad she missed Peter.
“Well, I found him on ECompatibilities, so maybe I should find someone else there as well.” She took her tea to her room, settled down in her desk chair, and fired up her computer. The sites she visited often were in a login manager program. “Boy, I haven’t used this in a long time.” Her thoughts turned to the days when she had first met Peter, and how they had met and fallen in love. The familiar pain in her heart pricked at her thoughts, and fighting back tears so she wouldn’t give in and cry again, she quickly got on the web page where one found potential matches. The criteria she entered were that the man had to be near her age of twenty seven, live in D.C., be a believer, and be financially self-sufficient. She preferred men of European descent, and entered that as well. All the criteria entered, she clicked on the “Submit” button, and found several matches. Reading through them, she weeded them down to three men. A text was sent to all three of them, but only one seemed genuinely interested in her.
So the texts went back and forth between her and the gentleman named Jay Zeelen, and after they graduated to sending each other emails, they decided to meet each other on a date this coming Friday.
Gracie looked forward to going out with Jay. She was thinking about what to wear, when her office phone interrupted her thoughts.
”Hi Gracie. It’s Shane Logan.”
Gracie’s guard went up right away. “What can I do for you, Shane?”
“Well, I was wondering if we could spend some time together, perhaps over dinner.”
“Hmmm. Let me get back to you on that.”
“You know my number. Call me.”
Later that evening
Gracie walked with trepidation towards Evie’s room. Poking her head in the door, she said, “Say sis, can we talk for a minute?”
Evie looked up. “Sure. What’s on your mind.”
“Well, Shane Logan just asked me out to dinner, and for obvious reasons, I’m not sure I want to. In fact, I don’t want to get sucked into his game of cat and mouse. I’d rather go out with the guy I met on eCompatibilities.”
“Well, why don’t we pray about it,” said Evie. “Just going to dinner couldn’t be all that bad. Maybe you’ll even get a chance to share your faith with him. Of course, I wouldn’t expect him to change just because of you; only the Father can do that.”
“I agree. Let’s pray,” she said.
Evie began. “Father, Gracie is dealing with someone whose scruples are very tainted and very lacking. Be with Gracie as she spends time with this lost soul. Give her wisdom and discernment so that she will see through Shane’s intentions, and let her words be from your Holy Spirit.”
“And Father,” she prayed, ’I put my heart in your hands, and ask you to protect it. Don’t let me be sucked into Shane’s evil intentions. Keep my mind focused on you. Amen.” She sat silently for a few moments, pondering how she was going to do this. Then she heard a quiet voice in her spirit say, Trust Me. “Oh, and by the way, you got some ‘splainin’ to do, Lucy…”
“What do you mean?”
“I walked into the lobby last night after working late at the office, and happened to notice Evie and her friend Carlo doing some serious kissing. Now, what’s up with that?” Her wry grin accused and didn’t let up.
“I…I…” Evie stammered. “Carlo and I like each other, but we’re just good friends.”
“Mmm-hmm. I’ll say you’re good friends. I haven’t seen kissing that passionate in a long time. You love him don’t you?”
Evie turned bright red. “Okay…okay…I think I’m falling in love with him. I can’t help but want to kiss him.”
“I’m happy for you, honey.”
Tuesday, January 29th
The doorbell rang at exactly seven o’clock. “At least he’s punctual; I’ll give him that,” said Gracie. The outfit in the closet hung before her and gained her approval. She turned to the doorway, and yelled, “Evie. Can you get the door? I’m still getting dressed.”
When the door opened, and Evie let him in, she relaxed and went back to finishing getting herself ready. A couple of minutes passed. She walked out into the living room. A casual, preppy look adorned him: tan slacks, maroon loafers and a light gray-blue polo shirt. He also discreetly scanned her from head to toe, mentally undressing her. Gracie squirmed at the obvious ogling she was getting, but let is pass. Evie looked at her, and rolled her eyes. She just smiled back as they engaged in a secret conversation. “Hi Shane. Good to see you.” He gave her six yellow roses. “Oh! Thank you! They’re very pretty.” She couldn’t help but wonder if it was a casual gesture, or did he seriously want to be with her?
“Well, shall we be going?” Shane asked, offering his hand to her.
“We shall.” Shane helped her into her coat. Then she offered her hand to Shane and let him escort her. Then, turning to Evie, she said, “I’ll see you later.”
Evie answered, smiling, “Have a good time you two.”
Shane took her to the District Chophouse on 7th Street. The conversation began with, “So, what kind of lawyer are you? My company retains a lot of them.”
“Well, I practice family law primarily, and setting up the occasional business contract. What exactly does a Creative Director for Communication Media do?”
“That’s just a fancy way of saying I organize all the programming we do for all the shows you might watch on the Discovery Channel.”
Pearly whites flashed at her, and blue eyes beheld her. “You, Gracie Chen, are not only a very lovely young lady, but a talented one as well.”
“Thank you, Shane. I appreciate that.” Shane just smiled.
Their dinner finished, they left to go to Union Station to take in its grandeur, grab an ice cream, and make some more small talk. As they finished off their drinks, she looked at her watch. “It’s 10:15 PM. I’d better get home.”
“Well, it might win Brownie points with your sister Evie if I get you home relatively early. Hey. I’ll tell you what: how about if we meet this Friday at my church’s singles meeting. You can invite your sister and her friend and your friends. What would you say to that?”
“Well, let me think on that, and I’ll let you know.” How far was this going? Did she really want to go to what she knew was a dead church?
Trust me, a still small voice said to her. I am your Shepherd. I will guide you through any difficult situation.
Shane deposited Gracie at the door of the apartment at precisely 10:30 PM, said as gracious a good night to Evie as he could, and left.
“Well, I must admit he got you in at a decent hour,” her sister admitted. “I’ll give him that. I’m glad you enjoyed yourself, but I’m kind of tired, so I think I’ll turn in early tonight.”
“G’nite Evie,” she said, “and thank you for your prayers. They really helped.”
Her sister smiled back, “You’re welcome.”
Wednesday, January 30th
Gracie sat on the couch next to her sister, perplexed. “You know what? He invited us to attend his church’s Singles Meeting. What do you think?”
“Well, I guess it would be a sign of good will. We both know that the church is dead, but I believe the Lord is going after Shane through you. Just tell him ‘yes’.”
“I have an even better idea,” she said. “I think I’ll invite him to our Wednesday night meeting; sort of give him a chance to see how the other half lives. Maybe he’ll see what Believers are really like.”
“Sounds good to me. Let’s pray about it.”
Gracie left the couch, said ‘Good night’ to her sister and walked into her room. She touched the number, which was now stored in her phone and waited until Shane answered.
“Hi, Shane. I was wondering I you’d like to come to our Urban Knights meeting tonight.”
“Gosh, I don’t know Gracie…I don’t know many of your friends, and your family might not think much of me.”
“Oh, c’mon, Shane. Don’t be such a baby. My friends don’t bite, and my family is the same way. What do you say?”
“Can I think about it and get back to you?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Call me soon. It’s at 7:30.”
VD was close by as usual. Her version of the story began in his mind. I can just see all those goody two shoes Christians at that church criticizing the lifestyle I lead, or at least bad-talking it, pointing out that we should practice ‘sexual purity.’ Well, if God made sex to be enjoyed, why be married to enjoy it?
Prayers had been faithfully going up by all members of the Chen family on Gracie’s behalf, so Cydnie showed decided to give VD a visit in the middle of her lies. VD looked up, and gave VD a stern look.
“You had better be gone,” she intoned, “or I will talk to Evie and her parents personally, and encourage them to pray more. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the power of the prayers of faithful saints.”
VD frowned and her eyes flashed. “You blasted angels and the sons-of-men that follow the Light; why don’t you just leave us alone!” She left in a huff.
Cydnie smiled a little too sweetly. “It’s a dirty job, I realize, but someone has to do it. Might as well be me.” Cydnie called out after her.
VD said nothing and walked away faster.
“I just love making them squirm. They deserve to.”
Ruache Ha-Kodesh paid a special visit to Shane. It floated into his room, where he lay on his bed watching TV. Love emanated from it powerfully, and Shane absorbed it. Shane suddenly felt a peace that did not make him afraid of the holy ideals of real saints. He dialed Gracie’s number.
“So are you going to come or not?”
“Sure. Where is your church?”
Gracie filled him in with the details.
“You realize I’m doing this for you.”
The charm never seemed to stop, but she placated him anyway. “Thanks, Shane.”
About an Hour Later
Gracie and Shane met Evie, Tony, Jinx, Anthony, Raji and all the rest of the gang. The topic that night was a continuation in the series on sexual purity. Demetrius Middleton, the Single’s Pastor, lead it, along with his wife, Rochelle. Tonight’s discussion was about God’s timing for your mate, and making sure you remained sexually pure before marriage.
Pastor Demetrius wasted no time getting right to the point. “Sexual purity is God’s standard. Anything else not only defiles the sexual relationship in marriage, but also teaches non-commitment in any relationship. God intended sex for marriage.”
“But Pastor, why should you wait until marriage?” asked Shane.
Gracie waited for Pastor Demetrius’ answer to Shane’s question. At least he asked an honest question. Looking at her sister, she was glad that Evie was listening intently to everything Pastor Demetrius said. She could just feel the next lecture coming on.
“Does anybody want to answer Shane’s question?” Demetrius asked.
“Because God tells us to stay pure until marriage. That way He can bless your sex life,” Jinx said.
“Well, for one thing, without a commitment, you both are using each other,” Evie said.
“I can see that, but what if both of you really love each other?” asked Phil, one of the single men who attended.
“Well, then, you should not be afraid of a commitment,” said Evie.
The discussion went back and forth the entire study.
“Well, gang,” Demetrius said at last, “We need to wrap it up. We can pick up on this next time.”
The study ended. People were still abuzz; lively discussion continued after the study had ended. Gracie looked at Shane, who looked like he’d been hit by a Peterbuilt truck. “What’s wrong Shane? You’re awfully quiet.”
“I...just need to go home and think. That was a very uncomfortable meeting for me. I have issues with some of what was said.”
Before she could say another word, Shane left.
She turned to her little brother. “Tony, what do you think of Shane?”
“I noticed Shane’s reaction,” Tony answered, “and being a member of the testosterone-fueled of the species, I suspect that Shane has ‘indulged’ a few times.” He gesticulated with his left hand to underline his point. “He doesn’t exactly strike me as one who makes a habit of sexual purity. I’d be careful if I were you,” Tony said. “Guys who are real smooth like him tend to get what they want, and get it easily; and what they want is usually the ’nasty’…sex.”
Gracie couldn’t agree more. “I tell you what, little brother. Why don’t you send some time with him; you know: a little ‘man-to-man’ talk. Maybe he’ll open up a little more to you.”
“You know what, sis: you’re right. I need to hang out with the brother sometime. Just me. That way I’ll get an inside view of the case, and I’ll give you a guys-eye view of the situation. Cool?”
“Here, here,” she agreed. “It will be good to get another perspective.”
“Well, I can’t say for sure ’till the brother’s in play. I’ll have to wait until after our convo to let you know what my verdict is.”
Agreeing, she said, “Great, Tony. I’ll wait until then to hear what you have to say.”
To get to fair maiden Gracie, Shane had to climb up the tower at the top of the castle at K Street Condos, and get past the gatekeeper, Evie. Tony’s invitation seemed a bit odd, but he accepted it anyway. I’ll do anything to get closer to Gracie. They may want to cross-examine me every time they get the chance, but she’s worth it. I just need to be patient. ‘Good things come to those who wait.’
Thursday, January 31st
VD just chuckled to herself. “Must be a slow-down in the prayers for these two. I have ways of getting around the saints.”
“You are very wrong, VD.”
VD spun around. There was Cydnie…again. “What is it you want? I’m just observing, now. But I like the way he thinks, and I didn’t even have to put the idea in his head.”
“We’ll see about that. I’m going to put some ideas into his head, and they won’t be like yours.”
“Whatever. I’m sure you angels of light must do whatever you must do, but I have a feeling Poisonous and I will win out in the end.”
Cydnie smiled and said nothing; she simply turned around and walked away.
She bristled. “How is it that she seems so sure that she can alter Shane’s destiny? One thing I hate more than anything else is the absolute smugness of those enemy angels: they always think they will win. Well, we’ll just have to see about that.”
Cydnie had heard Ruach Ha-Kodesh mention that even more prayers had gone up since the Wednesday meeting, so she decided to make an appearance at the Après Café herself. She decided to encourage Tony to ask a few pointed questions about Shane’s past. At the entrance of the Après Café, she found The Lamb standing there. Kneeling on one knee, and bowing her head, she deferred to His Holiness; then arose. “My Lord. It’s good to see you here in person. What brings you here?”
“The same thing that brings you here, Cydnie. We must continually work on Shane’s conscience to make sure the lies that VD and Poisonous tell him are thwarted.”
“I consider it a great honor to work with you tonight, My Lord.”
She followed The Lamb into the Après Café, where both of them positioned themselves next to Shane’s table.
Tony found they guy whose description matched that of what his sisters had told him. He walked to the back of the Après Café and walked up to the table. “Are you Shane Logan?”
Shane’s stood up to greet him and shook his hand. “Hi, you must be Tony...good to see you. Please have a seat. Can I get you anything; a latté, a tea, a pastry?”
“Well, actually, I could use a coffee -- black. Been a long day, and I’m needin’ a kick-start right about now. Thanks.”
“No problem.” Shane got up, walked to the counter, and ordered them both coffees. He brought the coffees back, and set them down. “So, how’s everything with you?”
“Just fine. Look bro: let’s dispense with chit-chat and get down to it.” He leaned in and focused into Shane. “So, straight up: do you date many women?”
Shane was quiet for a moment. “I’m not sure I’ve met the girl I want to marry just yet, so I haven’t been exclusively dating anyone thus far. Your sister is very nice, and I enjoy her company. I am thinking of dating her more to get to know her better.”
Not wanting to dance around the issue, he moved Shane closer to the real intention of his questions, with Cydnie and Ruach Ha-Kodesh guiding. “How long do your relationships last, and when they end, why?”
“Well…” Shane paused. “I’ve been in about three relationships in the past three years. I’m still friends with two of them. In both cases, we liked each other, but realized we had differing opinions on things that mattered, so we agreed to see other people.”
“And what matters is the dirty deed. When they are willing to have sex with you on occasion, it makes it worthwhile for you and these women to stay friends.”
“One I did break up with. She and I didn’t quite see things the same, and it was obvious the longer we went out together. I figured there was no point in continuing a relationship on any level, so I broke it off completely.”
She probably was of those women who wouldn’t put out. “What kinds of things did you disagree about?”
“Mainly about where our relationship was going: with the one I broke up with, it was about getting serious and considering marriage, and I wasn’t ready at that time. With the two I am still friends with, we just mutually figured we weren’t ready to settle down, and we wanted to experience more things that you can only do as a single person.”
’You’re twenty-eight…when do you think you’ll consider doing the domestic thing? You know, droppin’ a rock, finding a crib, and getting some shorties in the mix?”
Shane gave him a blank stare. “I’m sorry?”
“Oh. My bad. When do you think you’ll get married, get a real house, and have children?”
“Oh...probably when I am about thirty; dad did the same. I figure by that time, I will be far enough in my career to be comfortable financially, and I will have sown enough of my wild oats…” Shane stopped short, and looked down at the table.
Tony’s sly smile shot at Shane when he heard those words. The significance of the statement did not escape him. “You know, you just gave up your game right there, bro. It’s been obvious to me that you’re a player. Now, what you do is your biz, but I have a problem with you doing it with my sister.”
“I...I...,” Shane stammered.
“Face it, dawg; I’ve got you dead to rights; now come on, man. You’re doing some serious backpeddling; be a man and admit it.”
“I…meant I will have experienced all those things you can only do when you are single. I didn’t mean I would take advantage of your sister.”
Cydnie was about to jump right out of her angelic skin. She decided that she’d better get in there, and make sure Shane got the point. Besides, she actually enjoyed setting arrogant men in their places, and this little boy was long overdue for a good verbal spanking. “May I, My Lord?”
Cydnie took on her human form, and sat at a table behind Shane, his back to her. She got up, and walked by them both, heading out the door.
“Well, Hi guys. Shane...Tony...good to see you again.” Her presence obviously made him uneasy. “Shane, I couldn’t help overhearing the latter part of your conversation. I sincerely hope your single activities don’t include ‘sowing your wild oats.’” Her bright green eyes bore directly into his. “When women’s hearts are involved, the only thing that grows after such behavior is hurt, sorrow and broken hearts and spirits.”
Target approached, target obtained, target neutralized. She gave him one of her trademark overly sweet smiles. Before Shane could answer, she turned to Tony, “See you around Tony. I hope your time with Shane was meaningful. Take care.”
Cydnie walked out of Après Café, and followed Ruach The Lamb back to New Jerusalem.
Tony thought about the evening’s event as he drove back home. He found it interesting that both he and Cydnie had noticed Shane’s reference to ‘sowing his wild oats.’ “I can’t deny what the Spirit is practically yelling at me: brother is most certainly after the play. And in a big way.”
Friday, February 1st
Evie lay in her bed, lost in her thoughts.
Her frustration mounted. “Father...please help me. She got up, and read the Bible, trying to find some answers there. All she could find was that she should she should wait upon the Lord, because by doing so she would see the goodness of her Father and be truly alive. She exhaled deeply, and put the Bible down. “Wait? Be strong, take courage and wait? I’m losing my mind. Please show me how I can be in your good graces again.”
“Oh please do it soon. I’m getting discouraged.”
Patience, my child: you will see all things soon enough.
She wanted to hear something different, but she was obviously going to have to be patient. There was no way around it. “And Father, I give Gracie to you. Help mend her broken heart, and let her move on with her life. She still loves Peter, and is beating herself up for letting her anger drive him away.
Hearing no further answers, she helplessly lay there until she drifted off to sleep.
Shane wanted to be able to see Gracie away from the Chens and their friends. They were okay, as families go, but they always seemed to judge him unworthy of Gracie’s time and attentions. It always worked out better, in his mind, to get the women he dated alone. He called her to see if she would see him for another date.
“Halbreath, Petrovich. Grace Chen.”
“Hi, Gracie. This is Shane. How’s everything with you?”
“Look, Shane. I have a date tonight, so I’m not available. I may even see my date this weekend as well, so I’m sorry, but I can’t see you this weekend.”
“Oh…okay. No problem. Enjoy your date.” For some reason, he felt let down that he couldn’t see Gracie. It wasn’t so much that her answer was offputting: truth was, he was beginning to like her.
Saturday Evening, February 9th
The new outfit Gracie wore made her feel a little better about things. She admired herself in the mirror, and decided she passed muster. Then, she called up a TNC, and decided to wait in the lobby. Since Evie was going out with Carlo, she shouted towards her bedroom. “Have a good time.”
“We will. Prayers for your date with Jay, sis.”
“Thanks,” she answered, and went to the lobby. The TNC arrived within the five minutes one usually waited, and she got in. The driver confirmed her location, and she arrived about ten minutes later at a well known Brazilian Steak House. A tall, handsome gentleman with a congenial face flagged her down soon after she walked in, and asked, “Are you Gracie Chen?”
She smiled back and said, “Yes. And you must be Jay Zeelen.”
“I am,” he said, smiling. “Let me show you to our table.”
A few minutes later, after they had been served a beverage and ordered their respective meals, they got into the real conversation.
“So what kind of work do you do?’ she asked.
“I’m a Business Systems Analyst with a large consulting firm based out of Tysons Corner. We do the typical government contracting.”
“That sounds interesting. I’m a Family Lawyer for a firm in D.C.”
The night went on with her getting to know him, and vice-versa. At the end, as she prepared to leave, he said, “It’s been nice meeting you, Gracie. I’d love to meet you again; perhaps for lunch sometime.”
“That sounds good,” she answered. “Call me, and we’ll arrange it.” She got up to leave, they gave each other a friendly hug, and she waved goodbye. As she walked out the door, she recognized Peter walking toward her with a date at his side. Startled at first, she finally said, “Hi Peter. It’s good to see you. How’ve you been? And who is your friend, here?”
In a manner that was at once cordial, yet aloof, Peter said, “Hi, Gracie. I’d like to to meet Shelli. We’ve been dating for about a month now.”
Shelli turned to her and said, “Nice to meet you Gracie.”
“Likewise,” she answered back. “Well, I’ve got to get home: need to get some briefs prepared for Monday.” As she walked away the sadness hit her hard. Around the corner, she waited for a TNC, hoping no one would see the tears falling down her cheeks. She fought back the tears, wiped her eyes and her face. “Please, Peter. Quit haunting me. I’ve got to move on.”
As Shelli walked beside Peter into the restaurant, she turned to Peter and said, “She loves you, Peter.”
“Why do you say that?” Peter answered, his voice guarded.
“Because I saw the sadness in her eyes. She may have sounded like she was okay, but she is in pain. She hasn’t gotten over you.”
“I told you why we broke up. I’m sure I don’t want to go back to being the brunt of her anger.”
“Yes you did. But she still loves you, and I strongly suspect that down deep, you still love her. People who love each other can hurt each other badly. But love turned upside down is anger. Indifference is true hatred.”
Peter quietly said, “Can we please go in and enjoy our evening together?”
She said nothing, and walked in behind him.
Carlo and Evie decided to do something different, and see a romantic movie that evening. They decided to see one in which a young woman wrestled with the idea of standing by her sister’s side as her sibling married the man she was secretly in love with. Evie couldn’t help but feel a little guilty as they watched; her mind kept wandering to that kiss with Carlo. She smiled at him the whole night, and held his hand. They kissed as they always did, after settling in a coffee shop.