July 3
8:18 a.m.

Mark’s car is already in the parking lot. I hate to think of Don and Darlene using it. Apparently, Don is an early worker, and…

Darlene is busy at my computer.

Did I mention—At. My. Computer? I like to think that I’m the type of person who gives someone the benefit of the doubt, but someone here has used up all her benefits…

“Good morning, Natalie. I’m almost done. I just needed to use your computer before you got here. Hope you don’t mind.”

“Oh, that’s fine.” What else am I supposed to say? She’s my temporary boss’s wife. “I’ll just go find Pete. I need to let him know…”

“Don’t worry, I checked the messages and he has all the information he needs.”

How did she get my computer and voicemail passwords? They’re locked up in my desk.

Oh French words…a whole string of those French words are bouncing around in my brain. I think my mom would be very concerned to know how many words. But Darlene has gotten into my desk. The…okay, keep cool, mustn’t say anything. Keep cool. She must have found the key in Mark’s office…in his filing cabinet. That took some searching. Don and she must be going through Mark’s files pretty thoroughly.

I’m trying to think if there’s anything that’s on my computer that she shouldn’t know about… I never post things about the men in my life…okay, that’s the only thing that’s occupying my mind right now. I don’t want Tav to find out about Frankie, and if Frankie knew about Tav, I’d never hear the end of it. Anyway, Darlene couldn’t have got into my Twitter or Facebook because those passwords are personal…

“Thanks.”

I’m not sure what I should do about the situation. Mark’s files have some pretty sensitive information in them about our church members. Maybe I should tell Allan.

“Glad to help.” Darlene is completely undisturbed and unconcerned that she has helped herself to the passwords, my special pen, and the paper clips that she needs to finish up whatever she was doing.

I’m between anger and shock. How could anyone be bold enough to just help themselves to Mark’s and my things?

Can’t do anything. She’s my temp boss’ wife.

Just have to wait for her to finish.

Maybe I’ll find Pete and have a cup of tea.

______

9:15 a.m.

Forty-five minutes behind schedule, the day has hardly begun, and I’m already exhausted. I open Spotify—anything to change my mood.

“I see a bad moon rising…” Creedence Clearwater seemed to be the prophets of the day. “I see trouble on the way…” I join in.

“Are you singing in the church office?” Darlene is smiling at me.

Is this woman some kind of demon ninja?

“Yes…”

“Oh…” She smiles, and is gone. Amen.

“Natalie!” That’s two—count one, two—two seconds later, and Don is storming into my office with Darlene one-step behind him.

“Yes Don?”

“It’s Pastor Don to you!” I thought he was okay with Don…being in California and all that. Ha haaaa

“I have to prayerfully ask you not to listen to any secular music in the church office.”

“But Mark…”

“I don’t care what Mark permitted. I’m the pastor here now. You have to stop. There are many godly praise choruses you should be listening to, especially since your soul is being drawn by the devil to his music.”

My soul is being drawn by the devil? If my dad heard you say that…

“We’ve heard a lot about you since we’ve been here.” He’s staring at me and I’m wondering what he could have heard. I mean if he had been listening to Faith, he could have heard a lot. “You’ve caused a lot of weaker brothers in church to fall. I won’t stand for it.”

“I have no idea what you’re even talking about.” I mean I can only be nice this long, and after that, que sera sera.

“If he had been the pastor when the situation occurred, you wouldn’t be sitting here now. You’re taking advantage of the generosity of this church.” Yes, we’re hearing from Darlene. But what are they talking about?

“Darlene had a check in her spirit when she first met you. We’re going to have to pray about a lot of things going on at this church. I’m going to have to take this matter up with the elders.”

“I have no idea what you’re both talking about.”

“You don’t have to pretend, in fact. In fact, that’s not becoming, but, in fact, expected from you.” Thank you, Darlene, for bringing so much joy into my life.

“Faith told us. You are an embarrassment to Pastor Tav. We can’t have you, what’s the word you young ones use, yes, hitting…yes, hitting on him. Things are going to change. Mark my words.”

This is definitely a nightmare. These people can’t be real.

I’m watching him as he waddles out of my office like those bulky tumbleweed bushes that blow across Interstate 5 on the Grapevine and nearly destroy you.

Darlene is wagging her finger at me. “Bad. Very bad. I’m going to pray for you.”

“You do that. I’ve got work to do.”

This is going to be a hideous summer.

___________

11:50 p.m.

I’m thinking about my bad day. So tonight’s song has to be Creedence.