“Did you hear Yvonne is coming out?” Rachel poured Curtis a cup of coffee.
“So they reconciled?”
“I think so. Adam wouldn’t give me many details but he looked much happier than when he got here.”
“How could he not?”
“I don’t know why he ever left in the first place. They adore each other.”
“I hope this means they’re moving back to Ohio.” He sipped his coffee. “I’ll have to remember the story of Daniel next time I talk to a friend with relationship issues.”
“I used Daniel another way. It wasn’t about his marriage.”
“Ah. Still, a useful story.” He winked.
She stirred cream in her coffee then spoke without looking up. “I’m going back to my place tonight.”
“Do you think that’s wise?”
“I’ve been here for two weeks. I’m tired of hiding. And now with Yvonne coming back I want the two of them to have as much privacy as possible.”
Curtis spooned a bit of sugar in his coffee as he spoke. “Do you want him to contact you? Going more than a week since he had the rose delivered at work is a good thing.”
“Maybe he isn’t interested?”
“We’re talking about your life, Rachel. There needs to be more than a maybe to put you in harm’s way.”
“Will you at least listen to my plan?” She took her mug in her hands and leaned forward. Curtis nodded his willingness to at least listen. “Thank you.” She sipped her coffee and began.
“I’ll change my security code on my alarm today. After work follow me home. I’ll set it as soon as you leave, I’ll keep my cell by my bedside and I’ll even lock my bedroom door.” She slid him a piece of paper with her new security code written on it and a key to her house at Curtis. His skepticism was palpable. “I’ll be safer at home than I will be here. Mom and dad don’t have an alarm or any of it. He’ll find me.” Her voice cracked and she looked away for a moment.
“Marry me.” Curtis said with urgency.
“What?” She felt as if the wind had been knocked out of her.
“Marry me. I’ll protect you.”
She loosened a bit. He wasn’t serious. She loved the words sounded when he said them though and hoped he might say it a third time. It was too soon to get married but each time he said it it sounded a little better. “Curtis we’ve only been dating for two months.”
“I know and I love you. I want to be with you forever. Marry me.”
She smiled at him. He said it again. “You’re only asking me to marry you so you can be my body guard.”
“And because I love you.”
He smiled. It was hard to tell by his voice if he was serious or not. She knew he was strict about not being alone with a woman over night but getting married so she wouldn’t be alone in her house was ridiculous.“We’ll talk about that in a few months.”He smiled and kissed her. “But we will talk about it.”
“Yes.” Heat surged through Rachel’s body. Immediately her childhood fantasies of being a beautiful bride flooded in. “I need to get to work. Let me grab my things while you finish your coffee.”
“Rachel.” He called behind her. She spun back around to face him. “I’m serious about what I said.”
She softened. “I know.” She went up to her old bedroom on the second floor for her suitcase and work.
When she came back down the steps he helped her take her things out to the car.
“You’re sure about going home tonight?”
“Then I’m staying until dark and I want to see you arm your alarm when I walk out the door.”
She climbed in the car and drove into work with Curtis behind her. He waited in his car until she was in the office and then waved as he pulled away. She picked up her messages from the front desk and walked back to her office.
“Shannon.” She called down the hall while she fiddled with her key. “I need to talk to you when you get a second.”
Shannon stood in the doorway. “What’s up?”
Rachel smiled. “Come in. Close the door.”
Shannon did as she said and Rachel blurted out. “Curtis asked me to marry him.”
Shannon’s jaw dropped down then she grabbed Rachel’s hand. “Let me see the ring.”
Rachel pulled her hand away. “We’re not engaged.” She laughed. “It’s only been eight weeks.”
“You told him no?” She looked even more surprised than when Rachel said he proposed.
“I don’t know if he was entirely serious. We agreed to talk about it in a couple of months.”
“That’s probably wise but you’d better say yes next time or I’ll snag him up.” She laughed.
“No you won’t. He’s not your type.”
“He wasn’t yours either at first. I think he grows on you.” She pointed down at Rachel’s hand. “I need to get back over to my office. Don’t forget about our conference call at eleven.”
“I won’t. Did you upload the presentation to the website?”
“As if it was a ridiculous question.”
“It worked out last time.”
“Uh-huh.” Rachel smiled. Shannon turned and went back to her office.
By four the clock hands started dragging. The office was much more constricting now that she had spent a couple weeks away. Rachel looked at the clock only to find it had been less than five minutes since the last time she checked. Tonight she was going to sleep in her own bed for the first time in three weeks. She had gone to the house every few days with Curtis or her mom to check on things, do a little dusting or to get some clothes but she was anxious to sit in her chaise and read a book without mom or dad interrupting.
But would it be the same? Would she be able to relax or would he come back? Fear pricked at her skin.
At four twenty Curtis called.
“Rachel, I just got a last minute appointment for seven. An investment group found a multi-property deal. I have to crunch some numbers for the appointment. Why don’t I follow you to your parent’s house and then after my appointment I’ll take you to your place.”
“No, don’t do that.”
“I don’t want you going back alone.”
“Who will go with you?”
“I’ll have Shannon follow. Come over as soon as your appointment is done.”
“I don’t like that idea-.”
“Curtis, I’ll be fine. I want to go home.”
He was hesitant, “If you’re sure?”
“Positive. I’ll see you around eight?”
“It’ll be around then. I’ll call if I’m going to be much later.”
“Good, see you then. Love you.”
“Love you too.”
They hung up the phone and Rachel turned to the spreadsheet on her computer screen. She’d put up a good front but…No, everything would be fine. There was no sign he’d left anything behind.
“You still balancing those accounts down?” Shannon sat down across from Rachel.
“No, if I were balancing I’d be done. There are seven cents I still can’t reconcile.”
“Rachel, I’ll give you the seven cents. Your time is worth more than that.”
Shannon never understood the importance of getting these things to balance, which is why Rachel was in charge of the books. As long as the account was pretty close it was good enough for Shannon. Shannon was the people person, go with the flow. Rachel turned from her computer.
“On your way out?”
“Got the appointment at five-thirty across town, remember?”
How could she have forgotten? The conference call, the arrangement for Shannon to hash out the deal and then review for final sign off next week. Rachel had planned the time line.
“Do you need me to go with you and help?”
“No, go home. Have fun with Curtis. I want to see the ring.” Shannon smiled. “Will he be here soon?”
This wasn’t working out. Maybe she should reconsider, do it another day? Everyone would understand her need to be protected. By her mommy and daddy. No. She was going home and she was going to act like an adult.
“I talked to him right before you came in. He’s leaving the office any time.” It wasn’t a total lie. He was leaving the office. “There are enough people here for me to stay with.”
“Okay then. I’ll call you with the results. I’d better get going. Traffic’s going to be bad enough.”
“Talk to you then.” Rachel turned back to her screen. Everything would be fine. She would drive home and go in the house and set the alarm until Curtis got there.
She had completely forgotten to change the punch code. She dug through her purse and found the card.
“What will your security word be?” The woman on the phone had asked when Rachel finally got through.
“Yes, my security word will be God.”
The woman’s voice brightened. “He is your deliverer. Good word.”
Rachel gathered her things and walked out of the office to her car. He’s your deliverer. It gave her goose bumps. That was what Carol Adnaw had said at the retreat. It was still eerie for two women to say the exact same thing.
She started home. Carol’s words echoed in her head like a bad song that plays over and over until you find yourself singing it. She’d said something about him being at her side and he’d make a way where there seemed to be no way.
“Vague enough for anyone to interpret the way they needed.” Rachel was impressed with Carol, and she couldn’t deny that feeling of peace at the retreat, but could anyone really know what God was thinking.
Just the same, it would have been nice if it were true. Life would be much easier if there was really a God out there who said “Don’t worry” or “Here is who you should marry” or any number of other things people attributed to God.
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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