April 26
4:20 p.m.

No one tells you about these things, except other church admins and secretaries. Your average church member has no clue.

So I’m busy wrapping up work, when Sally calls. When I think weird things are happening to me, I think about Sally. I’ve found someone who understands my life.

Everyone’s gone for the day and she’s debating whether to lock the office door or not, when in walks Mr. Cowboy—boots, Stetson, the works.

“Hi Doll!” he drawls, he strolls in as she’s halfway down the hallway on her way to bolt the door.

“May I help you?” she asks, quickly retreating to her office. I’m not sure if this was the smartest move, but I guess she felt a lot more secure in her office.

“You sure look like you could!”

“Oh?” She’s trying not to look afraid or do anything to upset him. Something about the man makes her stomach turn.

“I used to be a member of this church some years ago. Remember me?”

She doesn’t have a clue.

“Could I take a message for you?” She picks up her pen and notepad.

“I guess you must be alone here?” He smiles as he moves towards her.

Suddenly, she realizes that the man is blocking her exit on the left, and her filing cabinets are preventing her from escaping.

He is now really close to her. With all her might she pushes him away and pushes the panic button under her desk. The incessant wail of the alarm button sends the man running.

Sally phones the pastor and tells him. The pastor doesn’t remember any man like that.

So she calls to warn me.

“Sally, do you want me to come and pick you up? Or anything?”

“No. I’m okay…a little shaken. Our deacon is coming over right now. Thanks. Just thought you should know since you’re the next church over. My pastor thinks the man is a con and will most likely…”

“No worries. Our church doesn’t get…”

In walks Mr. Stetson, cool as a cucumber.

I’m trying not to look startled or scared.

“Hi, I’ll just finish this phone call and be with you.”

“Natalie, are you okay?”

“Just going over the details you gave me right now…for the bulletin…you know, just want to make sure I got the right information from you…”

Sally, please understand what I’m trying to say.

“Oh God, he’s there…I’m going to hang up and call 911.”

Thank you, Lord.

“Hi. May I help you?”

“Sorry to bother you, ma’am. I used to belong to this church…are the pastors in? I don’t see any cars in the parking lot so I’m afraid that everyone’s gone. I must have missed them. ”

“One of them is here,” I say, confidently. “Would you like to see him?”

“Doesn’t sound like anyone’s here right now.” He’s staring down at me. Too close. You’re getting too close.

He’s by my desk, reaching across, grabbing my wrist, pulling me forward. “All I want is just…”

“What the hell…?” thunders a voice.

Tav!

“No harm done.” The man smiles mockingly at Tav.

Tav takes a step toward him, and then says in a voice I have never heard before, “Get out.”

The man leaves the room, tipping his hat at Tav as he walks past him.

“Are you okay?” Tav draws me into his arms and gives me a hug.

“Thanks.”

He’s still staring at me as I walk back to my desk. I can’t say a word. All I can think about is what would have happened if he hadn’t come back. I always assumed only nice church people would be coming into my office.

“Should I call Kate or Gwen?”

“No…I’m fine.” I even manage a smile. “I’m sorry, Sally had just called to warn me. He’d been at her office.”

“Don’t apologize. We need to think about a better security system for the church. Are you sure there’s nothing I can do?”

“I’ll be fine.”

“I’ll stay until you have to leave.”

“Thanks.”

“I think office staff should sign up for some self-defense classes.” My feeble attempts at a joke.

“Not a bad idea. Not a bad idea, at all. I’ll mention it to Mark.”

They say that something good comes out of evil. I’m not thinking about how much at home I felt in Tav’s arms. Okay, I’m trying not to think about it.

As it turns out, I enjoy having Tav in the office on Mondays. After today, I see him much more as my friend than my boss. Thanks to this creepy cowboy, Tav and I have bonded.

______

11:15 p.m.

I told Mitch and Gwen what happened. Gwen wants me to quit and marry a rich man who’ll take care of me. I laugh and tell her that doesn’t guarantee me any safety. The rich man might be a killer—like Sleeping with the Enemy. Ever since I saw that movie, I haven’t quite trusted my judgment on men.

Anyway, now that I’m thinking back on the day, I realize I’m trembling. My suppressed fear is rearing its ugly head. I can feel his hand on my wrist, pulling me. Trying to focus on God’s rescue in sending Tav. Have to ask Tav why he had come back to the office.

Never knew how dangerous a church can be, especially for the office staff. Nobody seems to think that horrible things can happen in churches.

But wonderful things happen too. Yes, I’m back to not trying not to think about Tav.