God Help This Young Woman

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I'm a little nervous about this Sunday mass. It's been two days since Luke and I's little rendezvous…or mishap? I'm still not sure what to call this "thing." Heck, I don't even know what this "thing" is. Fine…I'm really nervous about going to church and seeing him there, okay? I've never done anything like this in the whole 20 years of my life. I mean, this has happened to someone else before, right? Right?! Oh gosh, I can't believe I really did that! I mean…I didn't initiate the kiss, so that has to count for something right? Oh man, this is bad.

My family and I sit down in church. We're a few minutes early today so the seats are just filling up with people. I see Luke pass by with the other priests as they make their way to the entrance to begin the mass. The choir starts singing and the mass begins. Here we go…

Luke walks to the center of the stage to talk about today's homily. I try not to look at him as he's speaking. I don't even pay attention to what he's saying anymore, just so I won't blow my cover. It's really hard not to look at him. His voice is just so…sexy. Just when I thought I was safe, I look up and see Luke looking my way. We make eye contact.

"…The inside is what's broken. And if you let Him, God comes inside to heal our broken hearts…"

He looks at me and smiles as he ends his speech. I couldn't help but smile at his gesture. I watch him walk back to the priest's chair.

Church is over. I check my phone as soon as I got out the door. There's a text message from Luke. He sent it this morning before the mass started. It says...

"Good morning Emily. I hope to see you in church today. I miss you. Can you meet me after church? I have something important to talk to you about."

Oh no. I wonder what it's about. I ask Hanna to tell mom and dad that I'll catch a ride with one of my "church" friends. She asks if I want her to come. I quickly say no, and then I run off to find Luke.

I finally find him but there's a lot of people surrounding him and talking to him. But as soon as he saw me, he excused himself from them.

He starts walking towards the church. I follow him as he walks inside. He closes the door behind us. There are still a few people in there. Some are from the choir putting away the microphones and the stands. I look back at Luke and he's picking up little papers they give out before the mass that are left on the seats. I quickly do the same. After I've collected a couple of pieces of papers, he comes up to me and takes the papers.

"Thanks." He smiles at me and his hands touch mine. They were so soft. I smile back. Then he puts the papers away on the shelf.

Finally, there's no one else inside the church. And it was just the two of us. We take a seat on the chairs by the confession booth. He takes my hand and our fingers interlock as we hold hands. His fingers were long and slim. I still can't get over the fact that his hands are so soft. But the way he grips my hand makes me feel so secure. He notices me observing how well our hands perfectly fit together. So he brings our clasped hands closer to him and he kisses the back of my hand. Ah... I melt again. Every moment with him just feels so right. But I know that there's still the elephant in the room that needs to be addressed.

"So what did you want to talk about?" I bite my bottom lip, hoping that what he's about to tell me isn't going to hurt that much.

"I really…really like you, Emily. And I want to be in a close relationship with you. But I'm not exactly in the right place to do that… I've been praying a lot and consulting with God in what to do in this situation. I've never felt like this about anyone before. I've been in other relationships before I became a priest. But none of them made me feel like you do." He's smiling at me while looking into my eyes.

"I've never felt like this before either..." The corners of my lips curl at the thought of him and me together.

"I've decided..." his face turn serious, "to retire from my position as a priest." I pause for a bit in shock.

"Wait...you don't have to do that. I know how much you love being so close to God and helping the church. Luke..." I hold both of his hands. "I'm scared too. And I feel guilty that I can't accept the reality that we can't be together. But can't it be just the two of us? For now? I don't want you to ruin something solid in your life, for something that we're both not certain that'll work. We like each other and that's all that matters right now."

"But I want you, and I can't have you if I'm going to continue being a priest." He places his hand on my arm.

"Hey... I'm already yours. And I'm right here..." I slowly caress his face. He looks at me as if I had said exactly what he needed to hear. We move closer into a tight embrace as we wrap our arms around each other. I didn't realize how much I missed him until now.

"Emily-" He says as we separate. "If we do this, we'd have to hide it from everyone. I can't promise to hold your hand when we walk together around town or kiss you hello and goodbye in front of our friends. I don't want people to think wrong of you, okay?"

"It's okay, Luke. Don't worry about me. We'll just have to do everything in secret. I know that it's going to be hard, but as long as I'm with you, I know that everything's going to be fine." I smile at him, and he chuckles a little. Finally, some of the weight on our shoulders has been lifted off. And we finally feel like this "thing" between us is going to be great.

"So…Miss Emily. Where should we start?" He playfully grins at me.

"Well, Mr. Luke. I hear the park down the street is pretty chill." We both laugh.

"Okay, let me just change my clothes. I'll be back." He gets up and starts walking towards the private room in the back of the altar. He looks back and smiles at me as he walks away.

I grab my phone from my purse to text my mom. I tell her I'm hanging out with "Sarah" from church and I'm not sure what time I'll be home. I don't mean to lie to my parents, but from now on, not everyone is going to like all the decisions that I'm going to make. I just have to prove them wrong and stick with it.

Luke calls out my name and I quickly stand up and walk towards him. I giggle a little to myself as I see him in another flannel shirt and jeans. Well I guess the priest attire would be too obvious. We walk outside and started walking down the street. We both check behind us to see if anyone saw us together. We want to be as careful as possible.

I ask him what he did when he woke up this morning. He tells me he woke up and I was the first thing he thought of. That's when he sends me the text message. He asks me the same question. I explain to him how nervous I was to go to church today. He laughs, pats my head, and tells me I'm cute. We both laugh as we look at each other.

We arrive at the park. We look around to check for other people. Then, we look at each other in relief. Thank goodness, no one else is here. Luke points at the swings and says, "Come on!" He grabs my hand and we run towards the playground. I sit down on one of the swings and I hold onto the metal chains as he goes behind and starts pushing me. We giggle as the swing goes higher and faster. We probably look silly still playing at the park at our age. But to us, every moment with each other counts.

We take a break and sat down on the bench. We're still giggly from the swings, but once there was silence, I decide to bring up the question I've been longing to ask.

"Luke, can I ask you something?" I tuck one side of my hair behind my ear.

"Yeah sure." He seems interested.

"I'm just really curious about this." I bite my lip in shyness.

"Go ahead." He looks at me with assurance.

"Umm…why did you become a priest?" He smiles as he faces me. "Sorry I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable." I turn my body towards him.

"No, I'm glad you ask. Well…when I was in high school, I was the captain of the baseball team and of the debate team. I was the cliché of the all high school boys, like in the movies." We giggle.

"And my dream when I was a kid was to become an engineer. Build bridges and tall skyscrapers. But during my senior year, I just felt like something was missing in my life. It was like there was a huge hole in my heart... So then, I started volunteering a lot in the church where I grew up. I used take going to church for granted. But I just felt like I should partake in more church events. In one of the community service that we did, we prepared food like sandwiches, fruits, bottled water, and we handed them out to the homeless people around the city. After that, I just felt like I needed to do more and help more people. I just didn't really know how I could help. I went to church a lot and prayed a lot to God. And then, it hit me… Maybe the reason why I've been so attracted to the church this whole time is because God is calling me to help others in need. Then I thought maybe I could help these people through the words of God. So when I graduated high school, I joined the seminary. Everything just felt so clear at that time, like it was the right path for a lost guy like me."

"Wow. That's a great story, Luke. Thank you." I say as I smile at him.

"I want to know more about you." He says as he laid his hand on top of mine and held it.

"Me? I'm pretty boring. I didn't really stand out in high school. I sort of just kept my face buried in a book." I shrug.

"What about when you were younger?" He asks as he gazes at me.

"I think I wanted to be a doctor. And heal people, I guess. But that's never going to happen."

"Why not?" He looks at me with concern.

"I'm scared of blood…" I say with a sigh. And he laughs at me.

"It's okay. I'm terrified of spiders. We're even." We both laugh.

We spent the whole afternoon talking in the park. We talked about our families, friends, and our goals in life. The better we got to know each other, the more our secret relationship became even more precious. I grab my phone to look at the time.

"Do you have to go? Are your parents looking for you?" He sees me looking at my phone.

"No, it's not that. It's 5:12pm. We've been here the whole day. I'm getting hungry." I laugh a little.

"Oh." He giggles. Then, he gets up from the bench and sticks out his hand to me. "Come on, I know the best burrito in town."

"Alright. Let's go." I grab his hand and we walk back to his car. He opens the door for me and locks in my seat belt. He jogs to his side and gets in. He starts the engine and we drive off.

"Here we are!" Luke says as he points to the taco truck.

"I'm excited!" I say to him with a big-O smile on my face.

Luke orders our food, while I save us seats on the outdoor tables. Finally, food is here. Two super steak burritos and two large drinks gone within minutes.

"That was good!" I say as I wipe my mouth with a napkin.

"I told you. This is my favorite burrito place. Not bad for a first date, huh?" He says jokingly.

"It's perfect!" I nod in agreement.

"We should go here more often. Or maybe sushi? I know you like sushi. What about next week?" He says in such excitement.

"Oh...I forgot to tell you something." I let out a sigh as I remember about my schedule.

"What is it?" He asks me in concern.

"I completely forgot! I can't believe I'm going to say this but I only have 6 weeks left before I have to leave for England."

"What do you mean?" He looks at me with a confused look.

"I got into Cambridge. I'm going there to finish my degree."

"Wow…that's great! How long are you going to be there?" He says with a big smile on his face.

"Two…years..." I see his smile quickly disappear.

"Wow…Wh-" He stutters a bit.

"I'm sorry. I should have told you earlier but I just forgot because I just want to spend the day with you."

"Emily…it's okay. I understand. Spending the whole day with you, I almost forgot that we have other responsibilities too. I just felt like myself with you. I don't know…I just want to be with you every second of the day."

"Me too, Luke." I smile as I hold his hand.

Luke takes me home and we end our night with a hug goodbye. It has been one of the craziest days of my life. I still can't wrap my head around everything that happened. Before I go to sleep, I decide to pray and ask God for his guidance. I just don't know what else to do in a situation like this. Just when I thought things are going to be good between me and Luke, I ruin it. What do I do? I just want to be with him…forever.

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