By the time the Bradley girls made it home it was almost three o’clock. Sierra had about an hour to get herself together before going to Pastor Allen’s house to meet Grayson. Josh called as she got her clothes out to say that Andrea was going to be fine. The doctor came in and explained that the magnesium had helped. Her uterus was relaxed, but to be on the safe side they are going to keep her on the IV for a couple of days. Andrea was going to have to take it easy for the remainder of the pregnancy. If she had any more spells like this one she would end up on bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy.
‘We should send some flowers now that we know she is okay,’ Sierra told her mom. ‘I am going to go by there tomorrow after the job interview, I will pick some up,’ she decided.
‘That will be great, get a little bear or something to go with it,’ Judith said in agreement.
‘Now go get ready, you don’t want to be late,’ she said as she pushed Sierra lightly toward the back room.
Sierra fixed her hair, this time a little different than Sunday. She decided to pull the sides back with a barrette - just to change things up a bit. She touched up on her make-up, but decided to wash it off and start all over again. It still looked pretty good from the trip to the hospital that morning, but she wanted to feel fresh... so, she started over.
‘Now – that’s better,’ she thought as she finished off the job with a touch of caramel-pecan colored lipstick. With that, she put on the new outfit she bought in New Orleans with Rachael and Trish, and was ready to go. ‘So, I guess I will go on over there,’ she told Judith as she noticed the clock. ‘It’s about a quarter till four, if I leave now I will get there just a few minutes early, maybe that will be a good thing. I don’t want to be too early, that would make me seem anxious, and I don’t want to get there late – that would just be a bad way to start things out,’ she proposed.
Judith could hardly contain her own excitement, ‘Yes, now is as good a time as any, you go on over there, and be careful! I will see you at church. Have a great time!’ She said as she gave Sierra a reassuring embrace.
Sierra was unusually calm as she made her way to Pastor Will and Mrs. Sabrina’s house. The meeting in New Orleans had helped with the awkwardness a little bit. At least they had something more than the weather to talk about this time. Trisha had made sure of that! She was still bubbling inside with the notion of seeing Grayson again, especially now that she knew so much more about him, and truthfully adored every bit.
Sabrina met her at the door as she approached the house. ‘Come on in, I was just about to set the table,’ she said with a hospitable gesture. As Sierra made her way to the dining room to help with plates, she looked around the house for Grayson. He wasn’t in the living room, and he wasn’t in the kitchen. Sierra wondered from which direction he would make his entrance.
‘Will and Grayson ran down to the store to get some ice and drinks. I had tea made, but Will wanted to get some other drinks just in case you didn’t like tea.’ Sabrina interjected as if she knew Sierra was wondering where they were. She was kind-of glad to have a few minutes to acclimate herself to the surroundings before the initial ‘hello’. She wondered if she should give him a hug when he walked in or just say hi, or what would be the best thing to do since they were at the Pastor’s house. She felt sure that her every move was going to be scrutinized as it was clear the Allen’s were playing the match-making game.
‘Where are the kids?’ Sierra asked when she noticed the house to be quieter than she expected. ‘They went to the movie with Jarred,’ she said. Jarred was their oldest son, he was almost eighteen and about to graduate from high school. Thomas and Richard were younger, probably ten and twelve. Sierra laughed as she considered the fact that the Allen’s prearranged for their children to be away for this ‘casual’ dinner before church. ‘What can I do to help,’ she said. She wanted something to keep her mind occupied so that she would not watch the door every second for Grayson’s arrival.
‘Well, I waited until the last minute to put the bread in the oven. If you want to grab that garlic bread out of the freezer I will turn the oven on,’ Sabrina directed. About the time she opened the freezer to look for the bread, she heard a car door slam. ’Oh my goodness, he is here, I wonder what he is wearing this time, she thought. Grayson and Will walked through the door with several bags of groceries in their hands. ‘I thought you just went to get ice and drinks,’ Sabrina chided. ‘That’s what happens when you send men to the store,’ she said as she gave Sierra a reassuring glance. ‘We are putting the bread in the oven now. The Lasagna is done, so give us about ten minutes and we will be ready to eat.’ she announced.
Grayson looked over at Sierra, winked his eye and said in a flirty voice, ‘Sounds like a plan to me!’ Sierra just smiled as she watched Grayson pull himself up onto the countertop in the kitchen as if he wanted to watch her get the bread ready. He was wearing a grey, Tennessee sweat suit with a hoodie. He looked so good that she could hardly concentrate.
‘Soooo, how was your day,’ Sierra said to Grayson as she tried to act natural. ‘Well it wasn’t half as good as yesterday,’ His remark made Sierra blush as she noticed Will and Sabrina’s awareness of the chemistry between them. ‘Yes, I agree. Yesterday was fun.’ she quickly remarked in an effort to fend off their ogles.
As she walked past him on her way to place the bread in the oven, Grayson reached out and pinched her side, ‘You look cute,’ he bravely remarked. Sierra bashfully replied, ‘Thank you, you do too!’ She thought about what she said and wondered if it sounded too trite.
‘What did you do today?’ he queried. Sierra explained to him that her sister-in-law Andrea was expecting and had some complications that morning that landed her in the hospital for a few days. ‘They are pretty sure they got it under control, I am going to go by there tomorrow after my job interview,’ she explained. ‘What job interview,’ Grayson replied.
‘Oh, I went to a temporary job office at the beginning of the week. There’s a big bank in downtown Baton Rouge that has a job opening in the vault. The lady called me today and wants to meet me tomorrow about the position. I think it will be good. She said that it would start out temporary; then become more permanent if I do a good job. So we will see.’ She expounded.
‘I think that will be good, I will be praying for you to find favor with her in the morning, I am sure you will do fine,’ his encouraging words gripped Sierra’s heart. She started to feel a touch of that breathlessness that had come over her almost every other time she was in the room with Grayson. ‘Um, you are too sweet,’ she coyly replied as she looked down at the floor trying to regain her composure. ‘Let’s go ahead and get some ice in the glasses,’ Sabrina instructed. ‘Who wants tea?’ Will, Grayson, and Sierra responded in unison, ‘I do.’ With that, Sabrina looked over at Will with a cynical glance and said, ‘Boy I sure am glad you went to the store and bought all of those drinks!’ ‘You’re right honey, I guess we didn’t need all of those,’ he said.
Will whispered to Grayson and Sierra, ‘Sometimes it is best just to agree. Trust me on this one.’ ‘Go on in the dining room and have a seat,’ Sabrina said as she pulled the bread out of the oven. ‘I will be in as soon as I get this cut up. Sierra if you want to grab a couple of these tea glasses that would be great.’
‘Here, let me help you with those,’ Grayson said as he reached over and grabbed the other two glasses from the counter-top. As he reached around Sierra for the glasses, she felt the warmth of his body as he stood behind her almost touching her back, and his breath on her neck as he moved in to get his hands on the glasses. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and waited for him to step back before she moved a muscle. A she felt her nerves tingle. ‘This guy is driving me crazy and he doesn’t even know it,’ she thought to herself as she picked up on the scent of his cologne again. Sierra did not think Grayson intended to arouse her senses with his attempt to help with the glasses, but wondered if he was aware that he had done just that.
Sabrina finished cutting the bread and they all found their places around the table. ‘Let’s pray,’ Pastor Will said in an effort to get the ball rolling. ‘Lord, we come before you today and thank you for the blessings you bestow on our lives. Thank you for this food. Thank you for giving Grayson a safe trip up from New Orleans. Thank you for friends and fellowship. Amen. Let’s eat!’
Dinner was like a game of twenty questions. Will and Sabrina were apparently trying to counteract any awkwardness they thought Grayson and Sierra may have been feeling by keeping a steady flow of conversation going throughout the meal. They asked questions of Sierra like, how do you feel about being home from the Air Force, and where did you go to church in Colorado. They asked Grayson when he planned on going back to Tennessee for a visit, and how school was going. Random questions to keep them talking was actually the Allen’s way of helping Grayson and Sierra get to know each other a little bit better, but they didn’t realize that.
‘Thank you for the dinner, Sabrina. It was very good,’ Grayson said as he pushed his plate to the side as if he could not eat another bite. ‘You are so welcome,’ Sabrina came back, ‘I am just so glad you and Sierra could be here with us. Church starts in about thirty minutes, so I am going to get in here and clean this kitchen real quick before we have to head over there,’ she said as she began grabbing dished. ‘Here, let me help you with that,’ Sierra said as she too began cleaning off the table. ’Okay then, let’s just throw these dishes in the dishwasher. The oven is still warm, let’s just cover this bread and lasagna and keep them there until after church. Will and Grayson may want to eat some more after they get back. ‘Will do,’ Sierra said.
‘If it’s alright, I am going to have to get on over to the church and get a few things ready for tonight,’ Grayson said. Sierra was positively aware of his polite mannerisms. He always seemed so gentlemanlike and sensitive. ‘Sierra, if you want to come in and help me with the youth again tonight – you are more than welcome,’ he extended an invitation as he walked to the door. ‘Well, as long as you aren’t going to wet me down with a water hose I may just be there,’ she laughed.
When Grayson was out the door, Sabrina spouted off as if she could not hold her thoughts for one more second. ’Isn’t he just the cutest thing? As soon as I heard you were coming home I just knew that you two would hit it off. You know he came in from New Orleans today about two hours earlier than usual. He usually pulls in at the last minute before his youth meeting starts. I think he skipped his afternoon visit to the gym to be here with you. He was so excited. He told us all about your visit in New Orleans yesterday at the River Walk.
‘Really,’ Sierra said with a surprised look. ‘What exactly did he tell you?’ she asked. He told us that you looked really cute in your little LSU cap and jeans. He said that he found you with no problem as you were listening to one of the street people play a saxophone by the fountain. He told us about how your friends raked him through the coals with questions, but he was a little disappointed that he didn’t learn more about you while he was there. Don’t tell him I said so, but I think he hopes to spend a little bit more time with you tonight after church so that he can get to know you better. We told him that you guys are welcome to come back over here after church and sit in the living room. We will not bother you. Actually I think that is why Will bought all of the drinks, and popcorn, and cookies. He is as nervous about this whole ordeal as Grayson is.
‘So, you think Grayson is nervous,’ Sierra responded. ‘Are you kidding me, he is floating around here like he is on cloud nine. You have definitely sparked an interest in him young lady – don’t doubt that for a second.’ Sabrina said as she wiped off one last counter-top.
‘That should just about do it, let me get in here and grab my shoes and we can head on over to the church. You can just leave your car parked in our driveway and we will walk across the field to the church. That will give you an excuse to come back over here when it’s over,’ Sabrina winked.
Receiving that information caused Sierra to feel confident and anxious at the same time.
’Ok, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. I feel so strange with this ‘get to know you’ stuff, but it is so evident to me that God is in it that I know it is right. ‘I have never been in a situation where Grayson and I were alone in a room together. There has always been an extenuating circumstance, or other activity going on at the same time. The thought of just me and him with no ice-breakers makes me feel butterflies in my stomach,’ Sierra admitted to Sabrina.
‘Well, that’s one reason Will and I thought our place would be perfect. You won’t actually be alone. We can all sit in there for a while and chat, eat popcorn or whatever. Then Will and I will go in the other room and watch TV so you guys can talk for a while. We will help you break the ice some, don’t worry.’ Sabrina was so encouraging and insightful.
‘Thank you so much for everything – you will never know how much I appreciate it. By the way, the dinner was great,’ Sierra concluded as she broke away from Sabrina to head down the hall to the youth room. ‘No problem what-so-ever,’ Sabrina replied and walked away. As Sierra opened the door to the youth room, three boys were standing in the middle of the room aiming a water hose straight at her. As soon as she saw them, she turned around and ran down the hall in the other direction. When she did, she ran directly into Grayson who was blocking the exit and laughing.
‘So, is this what you had to get over here and set up?’ she asked. ‘Please, don’t get me wet, she begged. I am not in the mood to be soaked,’ she pleaded. Grayson reached over and placed his hands on her shoulders. Looking her in the eyes he said, ‘Do I look like someone who would do something like that?’ ‘I don’t guess,’ she said nervously. ‘Okay guys, put it up. She doesn’t want to be sprayed with the water hose today,’ he taunted as he turned her back around toward the youth room. ‘We couldn’t turn the hose on inside of the church anyway. I just couldn’t resist teasing you since you said you would come as long as we didn’t pull out a water hose,’ he kidded.
Sierra enjoyed the youth meeting, this time finding her seat on one of the couches as Grayson brought a lesson on purity. It was interesting to her how he came up with such an analogy from the story of Joseph, but he sure did. The kids were in awe of the application to their own lives that he presented, and so was Sierra. He talked to them about how Joseph was a good looking, successful guy who had everything going for him, but he was faced with a choice. At the risk of even death he resisted the advances of Potiphar’s wife. As a result he was falsely accused and thrown in to prison.
Grayson brought out the point to the kids that even though Joseph was punished unnecessarily, he was pure before God and that was all that mattered. He explained to them that no matter what temptations come their way, no matter what rumors are spread, what is important is that they are pure before the Lord. Using the Scripture reference from Mark 4:22; Grayson explained to the youth that whatever is done in secret will be brought out into the light eventually. He made it clear that even the things that are done uprightly in times when no one is looking will be a reward to them in the future. He explained to them that no one would have been there to see Joseph if he had given in to Potiphar’s wife. She wouldn’t have tried to ruin him, and he would have gone on as the King’s right-hand man gaining riches and popularity along the way. But Joseph knew that no matter what everyone else could see, God was watching.
Sierra knew that Grayson’s message was directed toward the teenagers and the peer pressures they face, but she heard the Lord speak deeply into her spirit while he presented the truths of integrity from God’s word. She wanted to be that type of person. She wanted to be pure before God.