October 5
8:45 a.m.

This was the first Monday since I had begun work that I actually enjoyed getting up early, and was even early at church. A fact that didn’t escape Pete.

“You shouldn’t give an old man such frights!”

“Life is grand!”

And it was.

At least it was until Tav showed up at church.

“Hi!” I’m watching him as he comes up to my desk. Why does this man always look so amazing?

“You’re bright and early today…and very bubbly.”

“Yes, I—”

“Must be the company you had staying with you over the weekend that has made you so happy.”

“Company?”

“Your fiancé. Faith gave me the good news.”

“My fiancé…staying with me?”

“Natalie, you don’t have to be so coy,” Tav said, very quietly. “What you do on the weekend is your business. I’m not judging you.”

“Judging me? Judging me?” Faith must have spoken to him at church on Sunday.

“Look, all I’m saying is that I would have appreciated you telling me…us that you’re engaged. I wish you both all happiness.”

Why would Faith…

“No, seriously. I’m not. If I were, I’d let you all know…”

“Seriously…seriously, Natalie, I’m just giving you a bad time.” And Tav’s laughing, enjoying the fact that he had made me uncomfortable.

“You are such a…”

“Sweetheart?”

“No. So Faith must have told you about meeting me.”

“She was very informative. She wanted to share a prayer concern as she has your best interests at heart. I entered wholeheartedly into the prayer…claiming Ephesians’ armor to surround you and protect your honor. To protect you from your lustful and wanton ways.”

The idea of Tav and Faith praying together brought a huge smile to my face. “I would have loved to hear it.”

“My dear girl, Faith was very passionate about asking God to forgive you for your weekend of sin. I’m very disappointed in you,” Tav said, pretending to be highly offended at my wayward behavior.

“I didn’t spend the weekend with anyone. I just had dinner with a friend….” He didn’t need to know any more than that.

“Faith doesn’t seem to like you very much, does she?” Tav asked.

“But she does like you very much.”

“Can’t fault a woman for such good taste, can you?” He’s leaning on my desk, just too close for comfort—and something in his eyes is making my pulse race. I’m thinking about that time…

“Oh, I was going to swoon, but then…yawn…I decided to carry on living my life.”

I got up quickly from my chair and escaped from his presence before he had time to respond.

And he’s laughing. “Natalie Taylor, we’ll take up this conversation again.”

__________

October 6
10:45 a.m.

“Natalie, it’s so good to see you back in the office.”

“Thanks Walt! Loved the flowers you brought to my sister’s. That was so thoughtful of you.”

Walt’s standing in my office shifting his weight from one foot to another, “Natalie, I think about you all the time. I want to make your life as comfortable as I can.”

“Walt, you are always helping me out. I really appreciate it.”

“I heard Faith talking to Pastor Tav. She said that she saw you with some man.”

Boom! Just like that Walt moves into this new topic.

“Oh that.” Does everybody in the world know that I went out with Frankie? Thank you, Faith.

“Was that a special friend of yours?”

“No. Just someone from home. He heard I was sick and came to cheer me up.”

“I heard that you are going to marry him.”

“Are you joking? I’d never marry him.”

“Oh good. Not that it’s my business, but I want you to be with someone who really understands you and cares for you.”

“Thanks Walt.” I just wish Walt would leave. I’m feeling seriously uncomfortable…and I don’t know why.

“Bye Natalie. Call me if you need any help.”

“Yes, I will.”

“What was that all about?” Kate’s in my office. She must have overheard my conversation with Walt.

“Walt. I guess he overheard Faith telling Tav that I was getting married.”

“Yes, I heard about it in church. Faith made it the prayer concern of the day.”

“Why?”

“Because she’s afraid…”

“Afraid? Afraid of what?”

“Oh nothing.” Kate’s doing the “oh nothing” thing again and it’s driving me crazy.

“Kate…”

“Miss Impatience, everything will be clear in time. I hope you’re not falling for Walt.”

“You’re joking?!”

“Yes, I am. But he seems pretty keen on you.”

“Gwen said the same thing.”

“Then listen to your big sisters and keep his ardor for you in mind.”

“He doesn’t feel that way. I’d know.”

“You, missy, know nothing.”

____________

October 7
10:00 a.m.

“Any questions?” Mark asks, after finishing his devo for the staff meeting.

I have no clue what he had talked about. I’m busy trying not to concentrate on Tav. Hope no one noticed.

“No questions. Okay, Natalie, let’s begin with you. What are you hiding that you can’t wait to tell us?” Mark looks directly at me.

“Hiding? Me?” Panic has sent my pulse racing. I can’t tell him that I’m just trying not to focus on Tav.

“What prayer requests did you find on your desk or voice mail?” Mark asks.

“Oh, that.”

“What did you think I meant?” Mark’s curious. “You look guilty.”

“She probably thought you’d found out about her secret boyfriends,” Brad adds, eyes still glued to his cell.

“Secret boyfriends?”

“Yes, secret dinners. Out-of-the-way rendezvous,” Tav adds. “All very mysterious.”

“Brad and Tav are kidding,” Kate came to my defense. “All her boyfriends are no secret.”

Nice one, Kate. Next time, I’ll just defend myself.

“I don’t have boyfriends. I have friends who are boys…men.”

“That’s what they all say.” Brad wasn’t about to let it go.

“I’m choosing to ignore Brad and hoping his cell will devour him and he’ll disappear in some Warlock’s dungeon.”

“Brad, I’d watch my back.” Mark enjoys the bantering.

“He’d better!” I threaten. “So…let me see…here there are…we did receive some prayerful suggestions in the Offering Plate.”

Everyone groaned.

“Why aren’t we singing ‘In the Garden’ anymore?”

“We ran out of bulletins again on Sunday.”

“The pastor should visit Thelma. She’s going to stop her tithe if he doesn’t visit her.”
I read off a few more notes.

“Natalie, please put an announcement in the bulletin saying that if the notes aren’t signed, we won’t be considering them.” Tav’s tired of hearing the same complaints.

“Good idea, Tav,” Mark’s all in agreement. “If people have to sign them, we’ll definitely get fewer complaints and suggestions.”

“Boy, that will be such a loss to Brad. He won’t be able to put in his notes about the youth director needing more time off.”

I’m laughing as Brad throws a cushion at me.

“Children, behave.” Kate’s smiling at us.

Yes, life goes on as normally and as boringly possible, with moments of fun, at church.

And I’ve been at the church for…has it really been nearly nine months?

I’m loving it. Who would have thought it?

_____

Photo by Jen Gallardo via Flickr