“Rachel.” Curtis’ sounded genuinely happy when he answered the phone. “Good to hear from you.” There was no hint of the terse words they’d shared the last time they spoke.
“Sorry. I’ve needed some time to sort a few things out.”
“Anything I can help with?”
“No, thank you though.” There was a long silence on the phone. She searched for a thought but nothing seemed to be appropriate, or even interesting. “What have you been up to?” It seemed a safe question.
“I’ve started a new Bible study at the church. It is on the book of Hebrews.”
“Oh.” Not what she was looking for. Reluctantly she continued. “What are you talking about?”
“This last time we were talking about Faith.” His voice trailed off. “The book deals a lot with our faith in God and his faithfulness to us.”
“Oh.” She used the most interested voice she could muster.
“Rachel, I’m sorry about how things ended before.”
“No, I’m not trying to push anything on you. I wish that you’d want the joy and peace God has given me but that is something you have to work out yourself. I can’t force it on you and I shouldn’t have pushed you.”
“Really, don’t worry about it. I was a little touchy on it.”
“I was a bit overeager because I want you to be a part of my life. My relationship with God is a huge part of who I am and I didn’t feel like you could really understand me if you didn’t understand where my faith comes from.”
“You have to understand that my parents drug me to church my whole life. It was fine when I was little but once I was a teenager it got old. They finally left me alone and let me stay home when I was in high school. Then a few years ago they started a new church, the church you go to with them. Then they started bugging me all the time.”
“Sometimes when God gets a hold of us we get really excited, and possibly a bit over enthusiastic in some people’s opinion.”
She softened a bit. He was really listening to her and what she thought instead of jamming a bunch of verses down her throat. “I understand. My parents, especially my mom, really changed when they started at the new church. I think it is great for them. If that is their truth and brings them happiness then they should do that.”
“But it doesn’t bring you happiness.” He sounded disappointed.
“I don’t feel I need a set of rules imposed by man to live a good life.”
“Maybe that is where the two of you aren’t connecting. You think you’re talking about the same thing but you’re really talking about two different things.”
Rachel stood up and walked around the living room, geared up for a discussion that was surely coming. “We’re both talking about church.”
“No, you’re talking about religion and they’re talking about relationship.”
“Fine and speaking of relationships, let’s get back to ours so we don’t get another fight brewing.”
“Okay, I want to see you.”
Rachel smiled. “When?”
“Ideally now, but I’m on my way to a business meeting in about twenty minutes.”
“You have meetings at seven at night?”“You have them whenever you need them to get the business.”
“I guess that’s true. We could meet after work tomorrow.” She wrote it down in her calendar.
“That will be fine.” He paused for a moment before continuing. “You’ve asked a bit about me. Besides working through a few things how are you, Rachel.” When he said her name it caused her voice to catch in her throat, a ridiculous reaction.
“There’s been a lot going on. I want things to calm down so I can breathe again.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
She did want to desperately. “I do want to talk to you a bit but now isn’t a good time. You have your meeting.”
“Are you sure I can’t do something to help before I have to get there?”
“No. We can talk about it tomorrow.”
“I understand.” He paused for a few moments. “I missed you these last few days.”
She’d tried not to think about him but he had lingered in the corner of her thoughts since the last time they were together. He was opening the door. Why did she keep playing this safe game of not telling him how much she needed him in her life?
“Why’s that?” She tried to sound playful. That was the safest route. Keep playing the game.
He laughed a little bit. “Why do you miss people? I wanted to see you and you weren’t around.”
“In that case I guess I missed you too.”
“I’m glad to hear it. For a minute there I thought I’d made a huge faux pas.”
She got a bottle of water from her fridge and sat back out on her chaise. “Why would you think that?”
“I thought maybe I was reading too much in to this relationship.”
Rachel’s mouth was dry. She took a slow sip of water. Every muscle in her body tensed up. “Um,” she began, trying to form the words that were sticking in her throat. “How do you see this relationship?”
Silence on the other end. She scolded herself for sounding judgmental when she said it. Curiosity was the tone she was after but clearly he had heard something very different. How could she continue now that she had stuck her foot in her mouth?“
Right now I guess I’d say we’re seeing each other. Does that sound vague enough?” He laughed.
She exhaled the breath that, until that moment, she didn’t realize she was holding. “You don’t have to be vague. You can be honest.” Her voice sounded a bit more natural. Curiosity overcoming fear.
“How do you see it?”
“No,” she laughed nervously “I asked you first.”
“I hope you’re the one but…” He stopped abruptly. Rachel tensed up again.
“But, that isn’t a decision I can make on my own.”
“We can start investigating together tomorrow at dinner.” Her curiosity now giving way to excitement. What if he was the one?
“I’ll call you tomorrow and let you know when my last appointment is and we can make arrangements then.”
“I’m looking forward to it.”
“I have to make my appointment now.”
Rachel hung up the phone and sat it on the end table. Maybe he was the one. She let out a squeal and grabbed her phone again.
“Shannon.” Rachel said her name almost before Shannon had finished saying Hello.
“Is everything all right?”
“What do you mean why? Today. The rose.”
Rachel had chosen to forget the events of earlier in the day. She was no longer interested in being controlled by fear. For the moment she could smile and be excited and she was going to do it as long as possible. “I’m past that, for the moment. I just had the best conversation with Curtis.”
“With Curtis? I thought you were having dinner with Drew.” There was a clear I-told-you-so quality to her voice.
“I decided that Drew had some qualities I couldn’t deal with.”
“A rather nasty temper.”
Rachel briefly recapped the evening.
“I can’t believe he was like that. If he got so worked up in a public place I don’t want to think about what could have happened in a long term relationship.”
“Those were my thoughts.”
“So you ended it tonight.”
“I don’t think he’ll call back. He left in a huff after I paid the bill.”
“You paid the bill? What a winner.”
“I’m a 21st century lady. I can pay my own way but he is the type…never mind.”
“He just…No, I don’t want to talk about him. I want to talk about Curtis. That’s why I called in the first place.”
“Tell me about it.”
Rachel jumped out of her chair again and paced from the dining room to the living room and back. “I felt a connection with him tonight I’ve never felt before.”
“Like when we talked about church. I didn’t feel like I was going through the inquisition. He didn’t act like he was the be all and end all on wisdom.”
“Why don’t you go to something at church?”
Rachel took a sip of water and planned her words very carefully. “Why would I want to do that?”
“Same reason you do it for your mom. Look like you’re making an effort.”
“What’s wrong with him accepting me for who I am?”
“We’ve already talked about this.”
“Do you go on a date looking like you rolled out of bed?”
“No.” Her voice was flat.
“Then you try to impress him even though you know that is not who you really are.”
“That is absolutely not the same thing.” She sat on her chaise and scooted back in its cushions.
“Fine. All I am saying is if you went to some church event you will look like you’re really trying to understand him and you won’t have to deal with all the church stuff.”
“What, you mean like a picnic.” She could tolerate a social event with some church people. That would not be awful.
“Something like that. Find out if there are any social gatherings you can go to and do that. I think that’s your best plan. You’re bound to have to go to some of these if you get serious anyway so why not start them on your own terms.”
Rachel let the idea roll around in her mind a moment. “The idea isn’t awful.”
“Is that supposed to be a compliment?”
“If you want it to be. I know my mom has some women’s professional seminar going on soon. There’s a woman speaking I read about in Fast Company magazine. You know, Carol Adnaw, I could get a chance to talk to her and score brownie points at the same time.”
“Well there you go.”
They chatted for a few minutes about how Rachel could casually ask about the event without letting her mom think she was going to start coming to church.
“The best way will be to tell her you want to go see the speaker.”
“She’ll ask why you’re not coming with me.” Rachel picked at her fingers as she spoke. She was way overdue for a manicure. “Then what will I tell her?”
“Tell her I don’t want to come. We don’t do everything together.”
“Wish me luck.”
“Thinking good thoughts.” Shannon lifted her voice an octave or two in exaggerated excitement.
Rachel clicked the phone off and snuggled down in her chaise. A day of listening to a top woman executive wouldn’t be bad at all. They’d throw in a few things about Jesus and likely talk about how it’s all because of God that she is where she is today then the real teaching would begin. What women do to impress the men they love.
She didn’t necessarily think that love described her feelings toward him yet. It was more of eager fascination or strong interest. He knew how to make her heart jump in her chest. Many times he also knew how to infuriate her as well. She enjoyed challenge and Curtis represented a real challenge. He was different then other men she’d dated, which was part of his charm. The sting of lost loves ate at her. Life for Rachel marched as a series of regrets, what-ifs and if-onlys.
You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.
Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at http://www.writingcareercoach.com/
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This story is copyright Tiffany Colter. 2007. It may not be copied, distributed, sold or included in any larger work without the expressed written permission of Tiffany Colter.
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