On the Run

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Trust in Me

Isabel soon realized avoiding the man who not only owned your home, but also happened to be your only ride to or from work, was impossible. The next week her resolve to stay away from him wavered more and more.

Everyday they saw each other whether it was just in passing or driving to work, two things remained constant. Mark was always calm, and he always tried to high five Elia.

To Isabel’s surprise the child started thinking it was funny. She giggled everytime Mark extended his hand, a playful grin always playing on his lips. The way she grew more and more confident when she shook her head, warmed Isabel’s heart.

“Hey,” Mark greeted the next Sunday afternoon.

Isabel nodded, opening the door wider allowing him into the dining room. Elia sat up to the table with a box of crayons and a coloring book he had gotten for her birthday.

“Good morning.” Isabel responded with more confidence than she had thought would ever be possible again.

She turned back to the kitchen sink washing the last plate. Then she turned, drying her hands on a towel, and leaned back against the counter.

“So tonight is my last night of freedom, I start work again tomorrow. I’ll drop you guys off on my way though.” Mark started, ignoring how Isabel stiffed at the mention of his work. “I’m having Mel over for a movie night and we wanted to invite you ladies.”

Mark tried not to show his unease. Isabel had been working nonstop all week and her exhaustion was almost palpable. Then there was her still reacting so strongly to his job. What could possibly have her so nervous about law enforcement?

“Please mom?” Elia pleaded quietly.

He felt a wave of pride and sent a silent prayer in thanks that at least Elia was learning to trust him. He held his hand out to the child who giggled and rolled her eyes. Elia shook her head smiling widely.

Isabel watched the interaction with a sense of bewilderment. She tried to fight off the fear that constantly whispered how dangerous this was. How bad it could be if Mark ended up unworthy of Elias’ trust. Isabel doubted the child would ever recover then.

‘Trust in me with all your heart.’ A faint voice echoed in the back of her mind.

It was familiar in a way that comforted her, though she had no idea what it meant

“I guess a movie couldn’t hurt anything.” Isabel relented with a sigh. “What time?”

“She’ll be here at 3. We are going to play board games before having pizza and popcorn with whatever movie you girls pick.” Mark sounded so excited, Isabel had to fight not to laugh at his enthusiasm.

“My Little Pony?!” Elia beamed jumping up and down in her seat.

Mark flinched and Isabel coughed to cover up her laughter. He smirked at her and she quickly looked back at the towel in her hands.

“If that’s what you guys really want.” He chuckled.

Mark smiled, reaching out, running a hand over Elias’ hair.

Isabel was shocked when Elia flinched subconsciously but quickly relaxed again. The child seemed so confident and Isabel’s chest ached. She wished more than anything she could just trust again so easily. She couldn’t though, it just wasn’t that simple.

Even thinking this she couldn’t help returning his almost giddy smile. She couldn’t help the way blood colored her cheeks or butterflies filled her stomach.

“Would you like to come over and help me get everything set up?” Mark asked.

“Sure.” Isabel smiled in return.

Elia jumped up from her chair and spun to face him. She wobbled unsteadily and he laid a hand on her arm steadying her.

She flinched away, but quickly recovered and her voice was calm as she spoke, “Can I bring my new doggy?”

“Of course, we wouldn’t want him here all alone would we.” Mark replied.

“Her.” Elia pointed at him bossily.

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

Elia nodded then dashed out of the room.

“That kid,” He started raising his eyebrows at Izzy, “has quite a little personality.”

She chuckled, “She used to be so bossy it drove me nuts. She is certainly very spirited. Don’t even get me started on the drama.”

“What changed?” Mark asked, somewhat confused.

“She got old enough to be disciplined by her dad.” Isabel shrugged nonchalantly.

Mark, however, saw her jaw tighten and the way she held head up slightly higher. She was playing it down, but the pain was still clear as day in her bright green eyes. She had gained some weight and was starting to gain some curves. Her long chestnut brown hair waved gently over her shoulder. Her fair skin, no longer covered in bruises, shone with an energy and life that hadn’t been there the night they met.

“Mr. Mark.” Elia said, poking his arm.

Mark realized he had once again gotten lost in those emerald pools Isabel called eyes. He shook his head, those were dangerous tools.

“What’s up princess?” He smiled down, pretending nothing had happened.

“Can we go?” Elia asked nervously.

“Of course let’s go.” Mark glanced at Isabel and was surprised to see her looking just as embarrassed as he felt.

As they walked into the kitchen the first thing that caught Isabel’s attention was not on the granite counters or state of the art appliances, it wasn’t even how massive the room was. Instead she caught herself looking at a standard sized book that lay open on the large oak table in the adjoined dining room.

Curiosity drew her closer and she peered down quickly realizing it was a bible. She felt the need to look away but a single sentence on the page popped out at her before she could.

“She who trusts in the Lord will never be disappointed. -Isaiah 49:23”

“Yeah I haven’t cleaned up my morning devotional yet.” Mark commented, making Isabel jump.

“I’m sorry I was just curious.” She said suddenly concerned she had invaded his privacy.

“Never apologize for reading God’s word. I actually have a spare if you want to look into it.” He offered with a kind smile.

“I don’t believe in that stuff anymore. Thank you though.” She shifted her weight uncomfortably.

Part of her marveled at how easily Mark talked about God. Like he was a close friend, someone to embrace and not shy away from.

“Will never be disappointed.”

The words bounced around her head and she felt more confused than ever.

“So you used to?” Mark questioned leaning forward against the chair in front of him.

“I grew up in a church,” She shrugged. “That’s why I got asked to leave the house when I got pregnant.”

Mark winced, “That’s not Christianity that’s religion and masquerading.”

She shrugged again, unsure of what to say. However as he continued to watch her, she suddenly heard herself speaking again.

“I tried to keep up with it after moving in with Andrey. He took my bible, said I spent too much time reading and needed to work more in the real world, I prayed though. He couldn’t take that from me. I prayed that he would learn to care about me, stop hurting me, and eventually that he would just leave.” She brushed a lock of hair behind her ear and Mark noticed a distant look in her eyes as she continued. “Anyway, I learned that if I wanted help, I had to help myself. So I stopped waiting and started planning.”

Mark nodded slowly, “It can be hard when you don’t get the answers we are looking for, but I have to believe that everything happens for a reason. We don’t know or always understand God’s plans, but he knows better than any of us could.”

Isabel felt a long buried rage clawing its way up her throat. “Are you saying it’s a good thing my little girl is afraid of men? That she has been put in the hospital several times, by her father?”

“No!” Mark assured, raising his hands in defense. “I simply intended to assure you that God takes that pain and brokenness you both have suffered, and uses it for good.”

“It still happened though, it shouldn’t have happened.” Isabel snapped harshly.

Mark doubted she even realized she was crying. He was glad he had asked Elia to get the living room set up with the blankets on the couch.

“No it shouldn’t have…” He soothed, “and you have every right to be angry with God. Scream and yell at him if you need to, but don’t give up on him.”

Mark walked to the desk behind Isabel and took out his spare bible. Then he came back standing right in front of her. He gently grabbed her hand, placing the book in it. He waited until she met his gaze to speak again.

“He won’t ever give up on you.” He stated confidently.

Mark gave Isabel’s hand one more gentle squeeze before walking toward the living room.

Isabel slowly let her gaze drop down to the book in her hand.

‘Trust in me.’ The voice echoed in her head again.

She slowly slid the Bible into her bag, telling herself she could figure it all out the next day.

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