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Monday, May 14, 2012

chapter 7 book 2

Hi friends! Wow! For those who know me, you know the month of May is insane. We went camping with a boat load of mosquitoes on the 5th. My oldest's birthday is the 10th, mine is the 11th, and our anniversary is the 13th (which coincided with Mother's day this year). So my poor husband is reeling from expense shock and proclaimed it to be as bad as Christmas. I do, however, love that I am the recipient of most of the gifts from these holidays! My dear friends took me out on the 12th to celebrate my 40th birthday. It was thoroughly embarrassing, but I enjoyed being with them. Have you ever had to wear those boingy headbands that proclaim to the world your birthday? Onward! Anyhoo, I shall post chapter 7 for ya'll!

7New York
    As she walked back toward her room, she encountered Scott in the courtyard. “I was looking for you, Babe. We’ve got to go. The car is already here to pick us up,” he said. “Oh, ok. My stuff is all ready, I was just mailing a letter,” she replied. They said their good-byes to the staff of HtW and went out to the street. Rachel was surprised to see a black sedan waiting for them. Scott seemed a little nervous about what was ahead of him. “Are you ok?” she asked him. “Yeah, it’s just that it’s been three years since I was home. I’m not super excited about going to work for my dad again, but I know that it’s what I need to do,” he answered. She began to notice that they were not going to the regular Miami airport, but decided not to bug Scott about it. They eventually pulled into the same private airport where Sam had his plane. Scott finally explained to her, “Dad sent his jet to pick us up. He didn’t want me flying home commercial.” “Oh,” she said simply. The small aircraft was even nicer than Sam’s plane and she was in awe. She had wanted to read on the flight to New York, but kept getting distracted by the opulence of the plane. Scott leaned over and said, “You know, we should be enjoying this time alone.” He kissed her and stroked her face. She knew that as soon as they arrived in New York their lives would be turned upside down. “We will get you settled into your apartment first,” he said later. She started to get anxious about meeting Scott’s dad. He sounded like such a formidable character. She decided whatever he was like, it would be better than her family. No sooner had she settled in, they began their decent to the private airport where the Fillman plane was kept. A black suv was waiting for them near the hangar. As they stepped off the plane, Spencer Fillman came out of the car. He was handsome for his age and obviously wore a hand tailored suit that fit him perfectly. “Don’t worry, I’ve told him everything about you,” he told her as they approached him. Airport workers unloaded their luggage and brought them to the back of the suv. He walked up to Rachel first as a gentleman would and extended his hand. “Hello, you must be Rachel!” She was shocked to hear his Australian accent since Scott didn’t have a drop of an accent. “Yes sir, you must be Mr. Fillman,” she said nervously. “Please, call me Spencer. I’m so delighted that my son found you,” he said. “Oh, thank you. We are glad we are going to be with you now,” she said as politely as possible. Finally, Spencer turned to his son and embraced him, “Welcome home, son. Well, shall we?” They loaded into the suv and the driver moved briskly toward the city. “Dahling, I hope you find your apartment to be satisfactory. I’ve done my best to prepare it for you and anticipating what you will need,” he said to Rachel. “I’m sure it will be wonderful,” she said.
    Wonderful didn’t adequately describe Spencer’s apartment. He had ordered it to be completely re-decorated in a country style fitting for Rachel. He had installed a computer with internet and also a laptop for her school work. The refrigerator and pantry were fully stocked. The view from the windows was incredible. She knew this apartment would cost a ton of money if it had been leased to someone else; but he was letting her stay here free. “I...I don’t know how to thank you enough, Mr. Fi……I mean Spencer,” she said. “Ah, but I’m not done. I’m on the board at NYU and I’ve gotten you a scholarship. You start in the fall; if that is what you want to do,” he said. She was shocked and stood there for a moment with her mouth open. “That is amazing! Thank you so much! I don’t know how I can ever repay you, but I hope to be a good wife to your son. Perhaps that will be a good trade?” He smiled and nodded. “Well, you don’t owe me anything. I’m just happy to have Scott and you here. Now, we are going to take his things back to my home and then we will come and get you for dinner at seven.” There was no negotiating with Spencer, so she just nodded. As they were going out the door, she heard him say, “Son, I like her a lot. I see why you have fallen in love.” She was relieved and felt that she could now relax for a moment. She took her things to the bedroom. It had a king size bed with beautiful floral bedding. She wanted to bounce on it, but thought that wouldn’t be a good idea. The closet was the size of her whole room at HtW. She hung up her few belongings and thought that they looked a bit pathetic in that enormous closet. She pulled out one of the dresses that Sam had bought for her, found an iron, and pressed it. She thought that she ought to dress up for Spencer. Since she had no idea where they were going to eat, she could only picture the restaurants that Sam had enjoyed. She picked out a pair of heels to match and then went in the luxurious bathroom. There was a vanity with a cushioned chair where she could do her hair. She had a few items of makeup and did her best to apply them. She twisted her hair up into a neat bun and then put on a necklace. She looked at herself in the full length mirror and thought, “My parents would never recognize me.” She went out to the living area to look out the windows until Scott and Spencer returned. The busyness of the city fascinated her and she thought she could watch people forever. After just a few minutes, however, her door bell rang and the men were back to collect her. She opened the door and Scott’s mouth dropped open. “Wow! You look amazing!” he said. Spencer just smiled and then remembered something, “Oh Dahling, I forgot to give you the keys! Here is your set. This one if for the door downstairs and this one is for this door.” He handed her the keys and she memorized them before sticking them in her purse. “Alrighty, then, let’s be on our way,” he said as he walked at a good clip toward the elevator. Rachel locked her door and then took Scott’s arm. They joined Spencer on the waiting elevator and it tickled her tummy as it descended. The same suv was waiting out on the street and it navigated the busy streets like an elephant in grassland. She was relieved to see that she had guessed correctly at the proper attire for their dinner. They were escorted to “his” table in the elegant, dimly lit Italian restaurant. After they had ordered, Spencer cleared his throat and pulled out his smart phone, “I want to get my calendar set up for the coming year. So, now, have you two set a date for the wedding?” Scott said, “No, not yet. We need to see how her schooling and my job acclimation go.” Spencer smiled, “That’s wise, son. Good way to plan. Rachel will start in just a few weeks. My assistant will take you there tomorrow for enrollment, by the way. She can also take care of shopping for books, supplies, and clothes, and anything else you might need. Don’t even think about objecting; you’re going to be my daughter and I want to give you everything you need.” Their bread and wine arrived at the table and briefly paused their conversation. Rachel had never even tried wine before and was a bit reluctant. Scott whispered, “Just sip a little. You kind of have to get used to it.” She was glad he was taking care of her and she did as he said. After Spencer’s thirst was sated he continued with his speech, “Scott you will start work on Monday. I’ve cleared out the office next to mine and my assistant has lined up some jobs for you to do. Oh, and your brother will be getting out of the army in September. He thinks he can just do free lance photography and journalism when he returns, but I’m sure he will have a rude awakening. Let’s see, we also have a fund raiser dinner in November, but we can talk about that later.” He finished and dug into a piece of bread and the salad that was put in front of him. Rachel stared at her plate feeling like she had been kicked in the chest. “How on earth could he have not told me he has a brother?” she thought. She didn’t want to look at either of the men and show them her shock. After a few moments of silence, Spencer’s phone rang. “Excuse me, I need to get this,” he said as he rose from his chair and went to the front of the restaurant. Rachel looked at Scott and asked him, “Why is it you didn’t tell me you had a brother?” “Gosh, sweetie, it’s a long story. Can I please tell you about it after dinner?” he pled. She nodded and he was glad she agreed because Spencer was back at the table in less than two minutes. They finished eating quickly since there wasn’t much talking going on. Scott asked to be dropped off with Rachel because he wanted to spend some time with her. They went up to her apartment and she took off her uncomfortable shoes. She was trying to make herself busy to avoid feeling like Scott had betrayed her. He finally took her in his arms and led her to the couch. He sighed deeply and then began his story. “My love, I know this will probably sound like I’m being childish, but I want you to hear my whole story before you judge me. My older brother Danny was born competitive. He thinks that I was born just so he could have someone to beat at everything. He took my toys when I was a kid; he competed with my accomplishments and took my girlfriends when I was in high school. I went to a different university just to get away from him and he transferred! He is the popular guy that everybody likes and nobody knows. A year before I left for HtW, I told dad and Danny about it. Dad was impressed that I was going to “save the world.” Danny couldn’t stand it that Dad was pleased with me. He went out a month later and joined the army. Now, I’ve come home and look, he is coming home, too. And, I’d bet my life he is going to try to steal you away from me. It won’t matter that we are engaged. God knows why he has to beat his little brother at everything, but I just wish he would get a new life purpose. I’ve told Dad about it, but he won’t say anything. Equality and all that. Anyway, that’s why I didn’t tell you about him. It’s a rather sore spot for me and I think I would just lose it if he stole you from me.” He searched her face for a moment. She thought for a few minutes and then replied, “Scott, I love you more than anyone I’ve ever loved in my life. This will not come between us, but next time, just tell me about it anyway. I will feel more prepared to face this with you. He sounds exactly like the kind of guy that I don’t like.” Tears of relief rolled down his cheeks and he held her tight for a long time that night.
    The next day she woke up early and got ready to go meet NYU. She had just eaten some toast when the door bell rang. A lovely woman in her forties stood at the door with her hand extended, “Hello, I’m Kathryn. I’m Spencer’s assistant and I will be taking you to NYU today. It’s so nice to meet you. I’ve known Scott since he was young.” “Yeah, it’s nice to meet you, too. I’m sure that I will really appreciate knowing you in this family,” Rachel replied. Kathryn smiled and then hurried Rachel out the door. There was a dark blue sedan with tinted windows waiting for them out front. “Washington Square,” Kathryn said as soon as they were seated. Rachel thought she would go crazy and start dancing when she saw the university. She felt that she was entering a time machine that would take her from the last century, where she had lived her whole life, to the present day. Kathryn was all business at the school and acted as though she had done a good deal of research for her role as Rachel’s guardian through the enrollment process. They were finished in a couple of hours and went to find their driver. They did a little shopping, went for lunch, and then went shopping some more. Rachel really liked Kathryn and could see why Spencer had kept her for so many years. She took Rachel back to her apartment and helped Rachel program her phone number, as well as Scott and Spencer, into her phone. Rachel sat reading over her classes and schedule for a while. She felt like a little girl who had been given the best doll in the world. As the sun started to set, her door bell rang. She dropped her books and schedules and went to answer the door. Scott was there with a big smile. “Hello, Babe, I hear you are a full-fledged college student. I think I need to kiss the new student.” He came through the door and swooped her up in her arms. She let him kiss her for a few minutes, and then drug him to the couch excited to show him her class schedule. He programmed her schedule into his phone and then asked if he could continue his former pursuits. “Well, do we need to talk about our wedding?” she asked. He raked his hand across the back of his neck and sighed, “Sweetie, I think we need to wait until we know what your classes are going to require of you and I haven’t even started back to work with Dad yet. I’m going to need time to settle in there. Let’s just wait until we can see some light at the end of the tunnel. Ok?” She smiled and nodded, but inwardly was beginning to worry that their wedding would be put off indefinitely. He was starting to kiss her again, when his phone rang. “Ugh, it’s Dad,” he said. After a lot of “uhuh” and “ok,” he hung up. “Dad wants us to meet him for dinner at our house,” he explained.
    Finally, Rachel got to ride in a yellow cab. Scott didn’t like to use the family drivers and believed in supporting the New York City icon. Rachel was excited and disappointed when they arrived at Spencer’s home in just a few minutes. He owned a super pricey brownstone and Rachel tried hard not to gawk. Spencer wanted to know all about her classes and schedule and her general thoughts on NYU. Once that was thoroughly discussed, they really had nothing else to talk about. She was bored and hated the way Scott was so uncomfortable around his father. True to herself, she stayed smiley and polite the whole evening. He accompanied her home, but was very grave and silent. “Do you want me to walk you up?” he asked. “Oh, no, that’s alright. You look tired and I’ll be fine,” she answered. He gave her a little kiss and she got out of the car. “Wow, I hope I don’t have to do that often!” she thought.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

long time no see, chapter 6

Well folks, I've been really busy! Summer has already begun, it seems. We went camping this past weekend in a nice State Park here in South Texas. Clouds of thirsty mosquitoes also went camping with us! We are all still scratching numerous bites all over our bodies. Oh well! It's an experience to remember! One great part was checking out the Big Tree in Lamar, TX outside of Rockport. I'll post a picture for your enjoyment!

    Scott made sure that Rachel had a good room at the HtW compound and gave her the twenty-five cent tour of the facilities. She wondered why he was being such a concerned host, but was too tired to ask. The first thing she did in her room was charge her phone so she could call Franklin. That had to wait until the next day; because she slept all evening and all night. She didn’t feel much better in the morning, but decided to drag herself out of bed anyway. She unplugged the phone and dialed Franklin. “Franklin! It’s Rachel, I’m in Miami right now,” she said after he answered. “Oh, are you coming back here?” he asked. “No, no, we are just taking a little break from traveling to recharge our batteries,” she said as she glanced at the power cord. “We got in yesterday and we will be going to Nicaragua in a couple of weeks. What is new with you?” she asked. He told her he was trying to find a way to retire, but at least he got to work from home. He hadn’t seen anyone from her family in months. He wanted to know if she had a boyfriend yet. She thought for a second about mentioning Scott, but decided against it. “Nope,” she said. They chatted for a few more minutes and then hung up.
    She sat on the bed wondering what her family was doing. She was interrupted by a knock on the door. She answered and it was Scott. “Want some breakfast?” he asked. She smiled and nodded. They went to the cafeteria and ate a good old American breakfast. “Mmmmm, that was so good,” she said with her eyes closed and her hand on her tummy. Scott winked at her and led her out of the cafeteria with his hand on her back. “I need to take care of paperwork and I was hoping you could help me,” he said with pleading eyes. “Of course,” she said.  Scott had a small dark office with no windows. He turned on the lights and started to pull wads of receipts out of his backpack. “It’s going to take us a while to sort these,” he said with a sigh. She sat across the desk from him and they got to work. She kept feeling his eyes on her as she worked and nervousness began to take over. She was still too afraid to let feelings dictate her actions. She tried to crush them with thoughts of self deprecation. “A man like him would never in a million years choose a girl like me. I’ve got such a weird past that nobody will put up with me,” she went on and on with these sorts of excuses in her mind. Yet, every time she looked up he smiled at her and his eyes sparkled with emotion. It was an I-like-you-more-than-just-a-friend kind of look.  She just had no idea how to interpret his look; so she focused on the receipts. They finished sorting and went their separate ways for the rest of the day. Rachel was so confused. She felt at war with her own self while trying to sort out her feelings for Scott. She felt ashamed; and at the same time knew she should not be. Love was part of the fabric of being human, but her intensive training had suppressed that part of her humanness. She wondered if he knew the struggle going on inside. She could not think about it anymore. She found a book to read and dove in.
    The days leading up to their departure for Nicaragua flew by. Rachel felt ready to tackle the new assignment. She was excited to be on her way to working again. Sitting around the HtW compound gave her way too much time to be tortured by her thoughts. A woman from the office drove them to the airport. They juggled bags and tickets as they jumped out of her car in the departure drop off area. The Nicaragua team met them at their gate and everyone was accounted for. Rachel found herself breathing a sigh of relief that there were no girls like Lisa on this team. It was a good group and they were all anxious to do their assignment. The long flight went well and they were soon arriving at their destination of Leon, Nicaragua. They were building a school for elementary age children. Rachel was in love. The children were just precious and came to watch them work every day. They were overjoyed at the prospect of having a brand new school…albeit a one room school. They built the structure out of cement blocks in two weeks’ time and then used the rest of their time to paint and decorate. Rachel spent time in the afternoon with the children playing and singing their songs. Scott thought his heart with explode watching her interact with the children. He kept his professional attitude, however, for the rest of the assignment.
    She didn’t want to leave Nicaragua, but she was beginning to feel that way about any new place she visited. Everything was exciting compared to Platzville. Rachel and Scott took their team to the airport and said good bye. Then went to a bus station and rode a bus all the way to San Salvador, El Salvador. She wasn’t sure why they were taking a bus and Scott didn’t explain either. Perhaps it was because they had an extra day before their new team would arrive in El Salvador. It was a very long, bouncy trip in the bus. Rachel was tired, but couldn’t get comfortable. Scott had claimed the window seat, as he always did. He could tell she wasn’t comfortable; so he leaned her forward and put his arm around her. “Rest against my shoulder,” he told her. Her butterflies moved into high gear, but she did what he asked. She was soon at ease enough to rest and drifted off to sleep. She woke after an hour or so, and was amazed his arm was still around her. “Is your arm asleep?” she asked. He winked and said, “No, it’s fine.” She blushed and laid her head down on his shoulder again. It felt so good to be close to him.
    When they arrived in San Salvador, everything was business again. They took a taxi out to the airport and hired a tour bus. Their team was waiting in the lounge for them and Scott commenced to push everyone out the door to the bus. The small bus took them to San Miguel where they were to rebuild some church camp cabins. They stayed in some of the better cabins while they worked on the dilapidated ones. Rachel thought it was nice to work with wood for a change. Most of their other jobs had used cement blocks and mortar. Wood was scarce in El Salvador, but they were doing their best to use recycled wood from other projects. It was a beautiful setting and she loved to just pause and look at the scenery. One day as she was watching the trees and grass move slowly with the breeze, she glanced over to a cabin and saw Scott staring at her. When he saw that he had been caught, he winked at her and got back to work. She knew her face was every shade of red and had to give herself a moment before joining her team. In the two weeks that was allotted for this assignment they completely refurbished four cabins. The owners were so thankful and gave the team a huge feast on their final evening. Rachel hadn’t seen a whole pig roasted before and it fascinated her. She knew these people probably couldn’t afford the pig in the first place, but they had shown their gratitude by sacrifice. She was deeply moved and knew this was not a lesson she would soon forget.
   Scott and Rachel flew back to Miami with the team. He had grabbed her ticket from her at the airport in El Salvador to ensure he could get their boarding passes together. She just laughed and rolled her eyes, but internally was wondering what his deal was. She was beginning to see that he was in love with her, but had no clue how to react. He was very cozy with her on the plane and she was glad that he wasn’t someone else. They bid farewell to their team; since most of them had connecting flights to catch and they would be staying in Miami. They were picked up by a friend from HtW and taken to the compound. Rachel was exhausted and told them, “Um, I’m just going to go to my room and go to bed. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Scott looked a little disappointed, but nodded and smiled.
    That night as she lay in the dark, her mind would not let her go to sleep. She was beginning to feel that she needed to do something with her life other than HtW. “I can’t depend on Franklin for the rest of my life,” she thought. She decided the next day she would start looking for a job. That seemed to put her mind mostly at ease; although, there was a subject she didn’t want to even go near……Scott. The next day he found her in the cafeteria. She started to tell him her thoughts from the night before and the color left his face. “Rachel, Rachel, no, listen to me. You are doing so much good here. You are a huge asset to HtW and we can’t do without you. Look, just stick it out here a while longer until you know for sure what you want to do; or something, maybe, might come up,” he was holding her hand as he finished his speech. She wasn’t sure if he just wanted her to stay for himself, or if she truly was an asset, but she decided to stay. He was relieved and became his normal self again. Later, she was talking to Nancy, the woman from the office who was always their airport shuttle, and told her the dilemmas she was facing. Nancy suggested that she work on her education. “There is a community college three blocks away and they have night classes for people like you to earn their GED. You could work for me here in the office during the day and take the classes at night,” she informed Rachel.  Rachel’s eyes got big as she exclaimed, “That is perfect! Thank you so much!” She skipped around the rest of the day with a happy heart. That evening she saw Scott again and he wondered why she was so happy. She told him Nancy’s idea and how excited she was. “So this means I have to go on the next few assignments without you?” he asked in a pouty voice. “Yes, but you know how much this means to me. I don’t want to be the ignorant country girl anymore. I love learning and this is a perfect opportunity for me,” she explained. He hugged her and wished her luck. She wasn’t sure if he was still pouting because she wouldn’t be with him anymore, but she had to focus on the task before her. Early the next morning Nancy took her to the college and they enrolled her in the GED classes. “Six weeks of classes, I think I can handle that,” she thought as they walked back to HtW. Scott left on his next assignment the next day and she had to admit that she missed him already. She was used to being with him constantly.
    The night of her first class she was pleasantly surprised to see that she was not the oldest person in the class. She now dreaded any situation in which she was the odd man out. Here she would fit in just fine. The whole lesson was so exciting to her that she forgot to take notes. She realized her mistake at the end of the class and quickly found someone who would let her copy their notes. She found she could remember the entire lesson when reading over the borrowed notes, and even more than what this person had written. She hurriedly copied the notes and then walked back to the compound. She felt like she was walking on air. The whole experience was more fun than she ever imagined. She thought probably most people would think she was nuts, but having been deprived of learning half of her life she now welcomed this opportunity. She had classes four times a week; each class was a different subject. She loved history and social studies. These were areas of which she was the most ignorant. In a controlled environment she and her siblings were only taught the history which played along with their doctrines. She studied every spare moment and took her books with her to the office. She would quickly do what Nancy gave her and then work on her homework.
    On a hot day in May, she was at her desk in the office studying some science homework. She had already completed the tasks that Nancy gave her and she was devoting her afternoon to study. Her study was interrupted by the sound of Nancy coming down the hall with a man. It sounded like she was trying to laud him by every means possible. Another office worker leaned over and whispered, “That’s Sam Wells. He gives millions to HtW every year. So we have to keep him happy.” She had never met a rich person before and was quite intrigued. He came into the office and seemed to zone in on Rachel. “Who is this lovely, new woman?” he asked. Nancy skittered over to his side and replied, “This is Rachel. She has gone on lots of assignments with us and now she is taking a break to take some classes.” Rachel was glad she hadn’t told him she was getting her GED; it was so embarrassing at her age.  “Rachel, I wonder if they have given you a tour of Miami, yet?” he asked. She shook her head and said, “Well, I know the airport very well.” She grinned at her own humor. “It’s settled then, Saturday, ten o’clock, I will come pick you up,” he said as he turned to go out the door. “Did I mention he wants a young wife?” her co-worker asked. Rachel rolled her eyes and returned to her studies.
    Saturday morning she had forgotten all about Sam. She was sitting in her favorite spot at HtW. The courtyard was a large area between the dorms and the offices. It had some trees and benches that wrapped them. It was breezy and Rachel loved sitting under the trees to read. He came into the courtyard with Nancy in tow. He was dressed as a typical Miami resident. Rachel was trying not to laugh at his pink shirt and white pants. As he walked quickly her way, she remembered that he was here for her. She looked down at her favorite light blue sun dress and decided not to change just for him. “Rachel, dear, Sam is here to take you out,” Nancy said with a sing-song tone. “Let me just put my books away,” she replied. She wondered if this would be a good time to disappear, but she didn’t want to disappoint Nancy so she stayed. She returned to the courtyard wearing some sandals and carrying her old ragged purse. He took one look at her purse and said, “Hmm, we might need to do some shopping today!” She was embarrassed, but didn’t say anything. He took her by the elbow and escorted her out to his convertible Mercedes. He sped off toward the city, talking constantly. He wanted to make sure she knew how much wealth he had and had fully described it by the time they arrived at his first destination on her tour of Miami. He spent some time teaching her about Miami architecture and then took her to a super fancy lunch. She had no idea how to act or what to eat. It was all so fancy. She finally ordered the only thing on the menu she could understand and a glass of water. After lunch he asked her, “Could you imagine dining like this every day?” She tried her best to smile politely and said, “Actually, no.” He took her shopping at some fancy stores and when she wouldn’t pick anything out, he started picking things out for her. He bought her some clothes and purses and jewelry. “Please, you really don’t need to buy me anything. Don’t feel like you need to, really,” she pled with him. Her attitude seemed to excite him even more. He had never met a woman like her. “I’m doing it because I can. Just be a dear and take all my gifts with a smile,” he replied. She was extremely embarrassed when she returned to HtW with her arms full of bags. She thanked him as cordially as possible without giving him any ideas. He seemed to be oblivious to her reserve and told her, “I’m flying to LA tomorrow, but I will be back in time to take you out again next Saturday.” He kissed her on the cheek and then ran out to his fancy car before she could object. She wished that Scott had been there to rescue her.
    The next week she worked hard on her studies every day and had once again forgotten about Sam when Saturday rolled around. She was wearing shorts and an old t shirt. “Go put something nice that I bought you on and I have a surprise for you!” he exclaimed. She groaned as she walked to her room. She wished that she was better at telling people no, but she didn’t want to offend Nancy or anyone else at HtW. She put on a pink dress that he had bought her and dumped her purse out on the bed. She picked out the necessities and put them in one of her new purses. She pulled her hair back into a pony tail. “He is going to have to be happy with that,” she told her mirror. As he guided her out of the compound she saw a long white limo waiting by the curb. She felt like everyone at HtW was watching her, but no one was saving her from this eccentric person. He saw her old sandals completing her otherwise sophisticated outfit and moaned. He instructed the driver to stop by a certain shop on the way to his surprise. They pulled in front of the shop and Rachel saw a dozen pairs of high heeled shoes in the window. “They probably cost enough to fund a whole assignment,” she thought as he led her into the store. A very zealous salesperson seemed to know Sam and was eager to help him. Only fifteen minutes later, they walked out with five pairs of shoes. Every pair was a style that she had never worn in her life and she teetered as she walked out to the car in a pair that matched her dress. Her ankles began to ache immediately and he assured her that she would get used to them soon. The driver sped down the freeway to a private airport. “I’ll bet you don’t know this airport!” he gloated. They left her packages in the limo and boarded a small jet. The plane carried them to Atlanta, where Sam owned a restaurant. They were treated like kings and Rachel knew this was not the first time he had flown a woman to Atlanta to show off the restaurant. She sighed and picked at her food. She hated this. She would rather eat on a dirt floor than listen to him try to woo her with tales of his wealth. Rachel tried her best to be polite and she could tell that he was getting frustrated with her. The things that worked with most women did not work on Rachel. She was so guarded and mysterious. This made him more determined. Every weekend he took her on ultra luxurious excursions and during the week he sent her flowers. She drew the line at phone calls. She had absolutely no interest in talking to him on the phone while she should be studying or working. Every time he called during the week she made excuses why she could not speak to him. She was realizing that she needed to be extremely blunt with him and tell him to stop seeing her. That was the opposite of her character and she prayed for a good way out. In the meantime, she had to study because her test was that Friday.
    The following Saturday as she was enduring through further description of his ego over lunch, Scott was arriving at HtW. He asked Nancy where Rachel was and she told him the whole saga. She made a point to tell him that she didn’t think Rachel cared for Sam at all, but that she was just being polite. He was enraged by Sam’s selfish agenda and that he was taking advantage of Rachel’s sweetness. Even though he was exhausted from his assignments and travel, he waited outside the compound for Sam’s return. Rachel was shocked to see him leaning against the wall waiting, and even more shocked at the angry expression on his face. “Rachel, good to see you. Can you give me a moment with Sam?” he asked without even looking at her. She gladly hurried inside because she didn’t have to give Sam a salutation. Scott walked over and got in Sam’s face. “Look, I know that you have done a lot for HtW, but that doesn’t give you the right to come in and take what or who you want. Rachel has been through a lot and she doesn’t need you dragging her out every Saturday. She is too sweet to tell you that you don’t have a chance in the world with her. She will sit and smile and be so polite while you get absolutely nowhere in your objective. Do her a favor and stop seeing her. Just leave her alone and let her move on with her life.” He wanted to say more, but knew it would only serve to make him angrier. Sam stood quietly for a moment. He started to argue with Scott, but knew that it was useless. “I suppose that you are right. I’ve tried everything in the book to get her to love me, and she won’t even blink at me. You win. I’ll go find someone easier since that is what I’m used to,” he said with a sigh. With that he got in his car and left.
    Scott ran his fingers through his hair and tried to calm down for a few minutes. When he went back in, he found Rachel sitting under her favorite tree reading. She was a vision of beauty with her hair gently blowing in the breeze. He swallowed hard and then went to sit next to her. “Sorry about all that. Now, tell me how you are and what you’ve been up to,” he said. She put down her book and turned toward him. “Well, let’s see. I’ve endured weeks of torture putting up with that guy and I kept hoping you would show up and rescue me.” He perked up when she said that because it meant she had been thinking of him. She continued, “Oh, and I passed my GED top of my class!” “Wow! That is awesome!” he exclaimed. He was suddenly so overwhelmed with her that he had to do something or risk internal combustion. “Rachel, I need to sort receipts again. Will you come with me to my office and help me?” he asked with hope. He knew she would say yes, because she was Rachel. She nodded and picked up her book. They went to his office and he shut the door behind her. She was a little confused when he did that, but soon knew his reason. He took her book from her and put it on the desk. Then he wrapped his arms around her and whispered, “I missed you so much,” before kissing her. This was her first kiss ever, and it was a doozy. Her head was getting light and her knees were buckling. His kiss reached into her soul and unlocked the feelings that had been long forbidden to surface. She moaned slightly as if the feelings had been released by a physical exertion. He pulled away from her and touched her face. “Are you alright? I just can’t help it. I’m so in love with you. May I please kiss you again?” he asked. She was completely speechless, but gave him a smile that told of her approval. He kissed her for a long time and then said, “I think these receipts can wait until Monday. Let’s go have dinner together.” Rachel kept putting her hand over her heart. She could still feel the moment she had been freed to love Scott. He noticed and asked again if she was ok. “I’m more than ok. For the first time in my life I’m in love and I don’t have to feel guilty about it. I am free to express my feelings of love to you without shame. I am so very happy, Scott.” She had tears in her eyes as she finished speaking.
    They sat down to eat dinner, but neither had much interest in eating. Scott put down his glass and took her hand. “Rachel, I need to tell you something about myself. I hope you will still love me after I tell you.” She couldn’t imagine what he was talking about, but hoped he wasn’t a criminal. “My dad owns several large companies in New York and he has been waiting on me for three years to come back and work with him. I was the rebellious kid who didn’t want to work with his father and decided to do humanitarian work to stick it to him. Anyway, I guess lately I’ve been seeing how selfish I’ve been to ignore him. Mom died ten years ago and so it’s just he and I. I haven’t even seen him since I came to HtW. So, I’ve decided to go back home in a couple of weeks to be with dad.” He finished his revelation and took a drink. She certainly understood needing to leave parents in order to find oneself, but apparently his exodus had been for other reasons. “Well, you are in luck. I still love you,” she said. At the back of her mind, however, she was wondering why they were starting a relationship at the very moment he was telling her he was leaving. The following morning she knocked on his office door. She heard a faint “Come in,” and went inside. Scott was working on his papers. They both looked at each other for a moment trying to decide if the day before had been real. Huge smiles broke out on their faces and they knew at once that it had really happened. He stood up and was holding her and kissing her in seconds. She managed to weakly say, “I, uh, left my book in here yesterday.” He laughed and kissed her again. The next two weeks they spent every minute possible with each other. He had to handle all of the disappointment at HtW over his resignation. Everyone was asking Rachel what she would do now, as if her future was significantly tied to his. “I’m going to get a degree,” she would tell them. She began looking up universities online and trying to figure out what she wanted to study. She thought of all the people groups she had encountered on her travels with HtW and how she was fascinated and excited by each one. She had an epiphany that she loved to study people and so she would study anthropology. She had no idea where or how, but she was going to do it.
    Three days before Scott’s departure, he found her reading under her favorite tree. She was happy to see him, but uncertain about their future. Before she knew what was happening, he was kneeling in front of her. He took both of her hands in his and began his proposal, “Rachel, I think I have loved you for so long; I only regret that I did not tell you sooner. You are the sweetest woman I have ever met in my whole life. I had never met a woman that I would want to spend the rest of my life with, until I met you. I know I’m crazy to ask you to go to New York with me, but I don’t know how else to keep the love of my life with me. So, will you make me happy and, hopefully, make yourself happy and be my wife?” He watched her face with hope. She felt so relieved. She would not have to be alone in Miami wondering why he left her. She smiled and replied, “You know I love going in airplanes with you.” He pulled a box out of his pocket. He opened it to reveal a large diamond ring. It sparkled in the light coming through the trees. He put the ring on her finger and then kissed her. “I’m so happy. I thought I might just have to put you in my suitcase anyway, if you had said no,” he laughed. They discussed their plans and he revealed that he had already bought her plane ticket. “But, where am I going to live? I mean, it wouldn’t be proper for me to live with you before we got married, right? I know it’s a norm these days for couples to live together and all that, but I am just not ready for that. I still think it’s a good idea to wait for, you know, that,” she said with her eyebrows furrowed to express her worry. He smiled and stroked her face, “I know, sweetheart, I won’t make you do anything you aren’t ready to do. My dad owns an apartment building and there is an empty unit. He says you can live there rent free until we get married. You can start working on your degree and I can get acclimated to being an office rat.” She laughed at the mental image of him as a rat. “Ok, I guess that means I have some packing to do!”
    Scott had some errands to take care of, so he left her alone. She rose and went to her room to think. She decided to call Franklin. The phone rang several times before he answered. “Franklin, it’s me, Rachel. How are you?” He seemed to take a moment to reply, “Oh Rachel, I’m a little under the weather, but glad to hear from you.” She told him about everything that happened that day. “I’m moving to New York in less than three days. I really wish you would come see me there. I’ll be studying anthropology, but I don’t know where yet.” They spoke for a while longer and then Rachel had a crazy thought. “Franklin, I would really like to talk to my brother, David, the one who used to drive me to town. I’m wondering if he still visits the hunting shop owner and if he does, maybe I could set up a time to call him there. Do you think you could find out for me?” Franklin was excited to have a mission; he had been so bored since she left. “Of course, girlie, I’ll be happy to. I’ll give you a ring back when I find something out.” They hung up and Rachel liked the thought of having a connection with her family. She prayed that Franklin would find out something good. The next day she was packing up her beloved books when her phone rang. She answered quickly, “Hello, Franklin?” He chuckled, “Yep, Franklin here. I’ve got good news for ya. I went to Smitty’s this morning and asked him about David. I reckon he must have taken over your rabbits; because he comes in to sell some to Smitty every Friday morning at ten a.m. He said you could call him at ten-fifteen and he’d let ya talk to David.” She was so happy! “Oh my goodness, that’s great! Thank you, Franklin, what would I do without you?” He chuckled again and they soon hung up. “I can talk to my brother tomorrow!” she thought with glee. Scott came in to see her glowing and asked what was going on. She told him about her conversation with Franklin and that she would be speaking with David in the morning. “Are you sure you want to do that? Your family is not exactly anxious to talk to you. I don’t want you to be hurt,” he said. “I’ll be fine because I have my wonderful fiancĂ© to comfort me if it doesn’t go well,” she said and then kissed him.
    The following morning she was up with the roosters. She ate early, checked the charge of her battery numerous times, and made sure the signal was good in her room. She paced the floor until ten and then sat staring at her phone until ten fifteen. She slowly dialed the number Franklin had given her. “Smitty’s Hunting Goods,” came the answer on the other end. “Um, yes, this is Rachel. I’m calling for David Muller.” Her voice was shaking from the fear of the unknown. The owner mumbled something and then there was lots of noise as he passed the phone to David. “Hello?” the familiar voice said. Rachel tried to speak calmly, “David, it’s Rachel! I’m so glad I can talk to you!” He was silent for a moment and then said, “Where the tarnation have you been? Dad says you are dead, but I was worried about you. That was my responsibility, ya know, to take care of you. Well, where have you been?” She smiled and told him, “Believe it or not, I’ve traveled around South and Central America building schools and homes and helping people. I speak Spanish now. I’m going to move to New York, though, because I’m engaged. What’s going on with you?” He retorted, “Hold on, missy, you ain’t getting’ off with that short of a story. Well, I guess you can call me next week, right?” She told him that she would call him gladly and so he answered her question. “We’ve been the same as always. Hatin’  people and bein’ alone. I’m just glad I’ve got Smitty here; he is my only friend in this world. Well, I guess now I have you again. I’m takin’ care of your stinkin’ rabbits now; ‘cause I convinced dad that I could make some money with ‘em. Call me next week, Ok?” She assured him she would call him and then they hung up. Scott came through the door as soon as she had put the phone down. He had been listening from outside. “Well?” he asked. “Um, I think it went well. He was glad to know that I wasn’t dead like my father is telling them. He sells my rabbits in town to make some money. I’m just so happy I got to talk to him,” she said. He winked and hugged her, “I’m glad it went well, too, but I was kind of looking forward to comforting you.” She smiled and said, “Sorry about that.”
    The next day was their departure day. They would be boarding a flight to New York that evening. She pulled out a piece of paper and a pen and sat on her bed staring at it for a few minutes. She took a deep breath and started writing.
Dear Dad and Mama,
I sincerely hope you all are doing well and you are prospering. I am writing to make some explanations and tell you what I’ve been doing. You cannot tell the family that I am dead anymore. In fact, I have never been more alive. First, I must tell you about my reasons for leaving. Anna was right when she told us to learn how to love people. All we did was hate and isolate ourselves. I just don’t think it’s good to cut off everybody and make yourself more important than everyone else. You are saying that what you think is right and no one else in the whole world knows what is right. There is no way you can say that. Sure, there are bad things going on in the world, but there are also lots of good things and you are missing out on them. I have been to five different countries in Central and South America. I have helped to build schools, homes, and a church camp. I have learned Spanish and been so touched by these Latin people. I have found that I love to help people. I will go anywhere that people are in need. Through the humanitarian aid agency that I was serving with, I met a wonderful man. He and I are engaged. Don’t worry, we have a pure relationship. We will be moving to New York today. He works with his father and I will be going to school. I love learning about people and the world. There is so much in life that helps us become more well-rounded people.
I miss you both and my siblings. I wish so much that you would welcome differences in your home. You would find happiness instead of anger.
Love, Rachel
She finished her letter and stared at it for awhile. She knew her father would read it; if nothing else but to criticize and dissect her words. She didn’t want David to get in trouble for knowing where she was; so she had decided to tell them. She folded the letter and stuffed it in an envelope. She walked it to the office and asked one of her friends there to mail it for her. The act of her explanation to her parents felt like closure to her. She could now move on to the next chapter of her life without regret.