Bonus Post: Meet Another Writing Friend

Yes, this is another Bonus Post. As you know, I ordinarily only write one post a day five days a week, Monday through Friday. However, once in a while, when I deem it necessary, I add a bonus post and write a second post on one of the days.

Today I want you to meet another one of my writing friends. I like to help my friends boost their blogs and gain more recognition from the worldwide blogosphere. My friend Melinda is a talented writer who writes a lot of Sci-Fi, as well as some other things. She has been posting on a blog for a couple of years here. This summer, she’s doing a cool new blog where she posts a story a week about a vampire in Baltimore, Maryland, and she said she’d never write a vampire story. You can read these fascinating stories here. She also created a Facebook page for her main character in the vampire stories, Niles Gule, which I think is really cool because she even has a photo which is really bizarre because he looks a lot like a guy I know. ¬† ūüėõ

Now, I will warn you, none of her writing is Christian and you will encounter some language you may find offensive and, of course, in the Niles Gule stories, some blood and guts. But Melinda weaves some good tales, creates fascinating worlds and characters that grab your attention and make you like them and care about them pretty much from the moment you meet them.

Out of the Pit (Short Story — Day 12)

Bruce returned to Lexie’s apartment around ten that night.

“Bruce, what happened?”

“We got him, Lexie. ¬†He’s in jail for now.”

“For now?”

“Until the arraignment where the judge will set the bail, and then Bigler may or may not get out on bail until the trial. ¬†It depends on whether or not he is determined a flight risk or whether or not he can afford bail. ¬†I’m sure after trial he’ll be going away for a long time with the evidence we have against him.”

Bruce didn’t want to tell Lexie about Candy. ¬†He was sure she’d feel responsible. ¬†“Can we talk about more pleasant things than my job now?”

Lexie smiled and Brad and Patty took that as their cue to leave.  Brad thanked Bruce for protecting Lexie and making the bust, and he and Patty both hugged Lexie and promised to talk to her early next week.

Bruce and Lexie sat on the sofa.  Bruce put his arm around Lexie and she snuggled into his side.

“I could get used to this,” said Bruce.

“What do you mean?”

“Coming home from a long day at work to the woman I love instead of to an empty apartment.”

“Oh, I don’t know. ¬†I like coming home to peace and quiet and just Bo, who loves me without saying a word.”

“What?” ¬†Bruce turned and saw the impish grin on Lexie’s face and then she began to giggle.

“You little tease.” ¬†Bruce said, and then he was kissing her.

“What are we going to do this weekend?”

Lexie looked up at him questioningly.

“Since we wrapped up this case, I have the weekend off.”

“Can we go to the beach tomorrow and ride bike on the boardwalk, lay in the sun and swim in the waves? ¬†And then walk hand-in-hand on the beach as we watch the sunset and wind it all up with a seafood dinner?”

“Sounds like a plan.”

——————————————————————————————————————-

Everything went as expected with the Kurt Bigler case, and when the trial ended, he was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison.

Bruce and Lexie spent every possible minute together.  Then one Friday evening Bruce took Lexie to a beautiful, romantic ocean front restaurant for dinner.  After dinner, they walked hand-in-hand on the beach.  As the sun began to set, Bruce took a tiny box from his pocket and handed it to Lexie.

When she opened the box and saw the beautiful diamond with a brilliant yellow beryl gem shining on the diamond like the sun, her eyes filled with tears.  Bruce got down on one knee before her.

“Lexie, I am deeply in love with you and have been for a long time. ¬†You are the sunshine of my life, and if you will do me the honor of becoming my wife, I will love you, take care of you and protect you for as long as I live. ¬†Lexie, will you marry me?”

Lexie smiled as tears streamed down her face, and she said, “Nothing would make me happier.”

Bruce place the ring on Lexie’s finger and let out a whoop of happiness. ¬†He picked Lexie up and spun her around, and then, he kissed her.

Out of the Pit (Short Story — Day 11)

Bruce, Officer Watts, Officer Burke and one other officer arrived at apartment C without blaring sirens. ¬†Bruce didn’t want Kurt Bigler to have a chance to run. ¬†Bruce sent Officer Watts and the other officer around the back of the apartment building, while he and Officer Burke went to the front door. ¬†Bruce rang the doorbell and pounded on the door with his fist while yelling, “Police, open up!”

After a few minutes with no response, Bruce nodded to Officer Burke, who tried the doorknob and found it locked, so he gave the door a good kick at the latch area, and the door burst open.  They proceeded up the stairs, one behind the other, one against the left wall and one against the right, guns drawn.

When they reached the top of the stairs, they found themselves in the living room.  They could see the kitchen and the hallway.  No one was in sight, but they heard whimpering coming from one of the rooms off of the hall.

Bruce made a couple of motions with his hand.  Officer Burke nodded and led the way into the hall.  They passed the first door on the right.  It was empty.  The whimpering was coming from the first door on the left.  Officer Burke opened the door quietly.  He moved to the right so that Bruce could enter, and Officer Burke held his gun on Kurt Bigler, whose back was to them.

“Kurt Bigler, you are under arrest.”

Kurt turned around, a shocked expression on his face and his pants hanging open.  It was obvious that they had caught him in the act of raping this young lady.  Officer Burke moved toward Kurt Bigler, ordered him to close his pants and then get down on the floor with his hands behind his head.

Bruce spotted a blanket on a chair near the doorway and grabbed it.  He opened the blanket and tossed it over the young lady, whose blouse was torn and there were the beginning discolorations of bruises forming on her breasts.  There was dried blood at the right corner of her mouth.

Bruce spoke softly and gently, “Miss, I’m Detective Bruce Rivers. ¬†I’m with the local police department.”

The young lady began to cry and talk at the same time. ¬†“He grabbed me outside the college library and forced me into his car. ¬†He brought me here and he was . . . was forcing himself on me when you came in. ¬†He hurt me.”

“I’m so sorry, but he won’t hurt you anymore. ¬†What’s your name?”

“Candy Jamison.”

Just then, the only female officer on the force, Officer Tina Johnson, came into the room.

“Well, Candy Jamison, I’d like you to meet Officer Tina Johnson. ¬†She’ll ride with you to the hospital and stay with you during the exam. ¬†She’ll also ask you for details about what happened. ¬†I know it will be hard to talk about, but we need you to try because we want to be sure this guy goes to jail for a long time, so he can’t hurt anyone else.”

“Okay. ¬†Thank you for saving me. ¬†I thought he was going to kill me.”

“You’re welcome, Candy.” ¬†Bruce squeezed her hand gently as he helped her down from the table Kurt Bigler had forced her upon. ¬†Officer Johnson put her arm across Candy’s neck and shoulders and led her out to the waiting ambulance.

“Officer Burke already took Bigler to the station.” ¬†Officer Watts informed Bruce. ¬†“Take a look at what I found in a desk drawer in the living room.”

Bruce looked as Officer Watts held up a large plastic bag that held a spiral bound notebook. ¬†“What is it?”

“It’s Kevin’s journal. ¬†There’s a little information about the relationships he had with the six girls he killed, but there’s a lot about him and Lexie. ¬†That’s how Bigler knew so much.”

“How did Kurt Bigler get his hands on that?”

“I figure he must have found it hidden somewhere in this apartment.”

“Looks like we’ve got enough for a good prosecuting attorney to use to get a conviction on this guy. ¬†Let’s wrap it up.”

Out of the Pit (Short Story — Day 10)

Friday evening Lexie was feeling a bit apprehensive. ¬†She almost wished she would have agreed to Bruce’s plan because she just wanted this to be over. ¬†She was eagerly anticipating moving forward with her life with the possibility of having someone to love and to love her, after eight lonely years. ¬†She was glad that Bruce, Office Watts, Brad and Patty were all there, and she insisted on making dinner without any help from Patty. ¬†It helped to keep busy doing something.

When they sat down to chicken and shrimp fettuccine alfredo with a salad and fresh homemade garlic bread, everyone was impressed with Lexie’s cooking abilities, and though they were all a bit tense, they ate with hearty appetites. ¬†Then Lexie presented the grand finale. ¬†Dessert was tiramisu that Lexie had made.

As they were devouring their dessert, the telephone rang. ¬†Officer Watts took his place at the tracing machine, Bruce gave Lexie’s hand an encouraging squeeze, and Bo let out a whimper as he followed Lexie to the kitchen.

“Hello?” ¬†Lexie answered the phone.

“I thought we had a dinner date,” replied the raspy whisper.

“Yes, well, I changed my mind. ¬†I know you’re not Kevin. ¬†Kevin’s dead. ¬†So why don’t you talk in your normal voice and tell me your real name?”

Brad stood with his mouth agape, and Bruce was grinning.

There were several minutes of silence on the other end of the phone, then the raspy whisper spoke again, “You sound very sure of yourself, and you sound different this evening than the last few times I’ve spoken with you.”

“That’s because I have decided not to allow someone like you to intimidate and frighten me anymore. ¬†So why don’t you cut the crap and come clean? ¬†Who are you really, and what do you want?”

“I want you spending weekends with me, Kitten . . .”

“Don’t call me Kitten, Kurt.”

“What did you just call me?” ¬†Suddenly the raspy whisper was gone.

“Kurt. ¬†That is your name, isn’t it? ¬†Kurt Bigler?”

Click.  The line went dead.

Lexie turned toward Bruce, a look of triumph quickly turning to a look of concern. ¬†“I didn’t ruin your chances of arresting him, did I?”

“I’m sure we’ll still find a way.” ¬†Bruce gave her a hug and a quick kiss on the lips.

“What did I miss here?” ¬†Brad asked.

“Got him!”

“What?” ¬†Bruce turned to Officer Watts.

“Because of Lexie’s shock factor during the conversation, he hesitated several minutes, and he ended up on the line just long enough for the trace to go through. ¬†The call came from the library at Grater College.”

They all shared high fives. ¬†Then Lexie said, “Brad, Patty, why don’t we sit in the living room and I’ll tell you about last night?”

They all moved to the living room and Lexie explained to Brad and Patty how she had finished reading the Book of John and how she had spoken with Bruce last night about Christ, and how she had shared about her past.  She told them how she had prayed and was now saved.

Bruce’s cell phone rang before Lexie was finished. ¬†He moved to the kitchen to take the call.

“Detective Rivers, this is Officer Burke. ¬†I just received a call, here at the station, from a young lady named Sabrina Duncan. ¬†She said she needed to talk to you immediately. ¬†She said it was urgent. ¬†I promised I’d have you call her right back. ¬†She sounded frantic.”

“Thanks, Officer Burke, I’ll get right on it.”

Bruce ended the call with Officer Burke and immediately dialed Sabrina Duncan’s apartment. ¬†Sabrina answered on the first ring. ¬†“Detective Rivers, you’ve got to get over here with some cops right away. ¬†The wacko in apartment C drug some girl out of his car and into his apartment about twenty minutes ago. ¬†She was struggling and trying to put up a fight, but she’s not much of a match for him. ¬†I heard her scream and heard some loud thuds coming from the apartment, but it’s been quiet for the past five minutes. ¬†Please hurry!”

“I’m on my way.”

Everyone was looking at Bruce in silence.

“Watts, let’s go. ¬†We’ll be back later for the tracing equipment. ¬†No time for explanations.”

After a few moments of stunned silence, Lexie said, “Well, that will take some getting used to.”

Brad and Patty looked at her quizzically.

“Let me finish my story. ¬†I believe the strength I had during that phone call came from the Lord. ¬†I’m sure he’s the one who took my fear away.”

“Lexie, I am so happy that you answered the Lord’s call. ¬†It’s wonderful to catch a glimpse of the old Lexie again. ¬†I’m looking forward to seeing more of her.”

“Thanks, Brad. ¬†It’s such a relief to not have to carry the burden of my past sins on my shoulders anymore. ¬†I also want you to know that I’m going to give Bruce a chance.”

“A chance for what?” Bruce asked, and Patty smiled knowingly.

“A chance at building a relationship with me. ¬†He’s caring, tender and protective. ¬†I am comfortable with him. ¬†I can talk to him, and I feel safe with him. ¬†He can make me laugh too.”

Brad hugged his little sister. ¬†“Welcome back to life, Sis.” ¬†Lexie smiled and hugged him back. ¬†Then she hugged Patty too.

Out of the Pit (Short Story — Day 9)

When they got back to Lexie’s apartment, Lexie made them each a cup of hot chocolate and they sat in the living room. ¬†For a while they sat in a comfortable silence, each lost in their own thoughts.

Bruce finally broke the silence, “Lexie, I hope when this is all over you won’t shut me out again. ¬†I know that eight years ago things were different and you needed help when it all ended, but . . .”

“Bruce, you’re right, things were different and I was too young, and yes, I needed medication and counseling for quite some time. ¬†I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since we talked on Tuesday evening. ¬†I also finished reading the Book of John. ¬†I believe Jesus is real and I want to learn to talk to him. ¬†I want to ask for his forgiveness, and I would like you to help me seek his forgiveness. ¬†Besides, there are things you need to know before you decide that you want to pursue a serious relationship with me.”

“Do you want me to help you seek forgiveness from the Lord now?”

“No, I need to tell you everything first, while I think I’ve gathered enough courage to do so. ¬†My sins are the worst kind because they were sins against others and against myself. ¬†They are all sexual sins, and the first one is the most horrifying. ¬†I was fifteen years old and my mother died in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. ¬†Dad, Brad and I all took it hard. ¬†We had always been a close family. ¬†The night after the funeral, Brad had gone out with some friends, dealing with his grief by trying to forget it.

I was in the dining room looking through old family photo albums. ¬†I heard my dad sobbing heart wrenching sobs so I went to try to comfort him. ¬†He was in his bed. ¬†I stroked his hair and spoke softly to him, telling him it would be all right, and he fell asleep. ¬†I sat in the chair by his bed, and I must have dozed off, and I was jolted awake by Dad calling mom’s name. ¬†I reached out and touched his arm and told him that mom was gone. ¬†He was so distraught and filled with grief. ¬†I’m sure he wasn’t in his right mind and he thought I was my mother. ¬†I look very much like her. ¬†He called me by my mom’s name and he held me for a long time, but then he started kissing me, and, at first, I tried to stop him and I kept calling him ‘Daddy’ and telling him it was me, Lexie. ¬†I was scared and I was hurting and grieving for my mom. ¬†I was in need of comfort too, and I didn’t have the strength to stop him.

I got up and went to my own room after he fell asleep, but hadn’t stopped to grab my jeans, and in the morning he asked me why my jeans were in his room. ¬†I was afraid to answer him, but he came to the realization of what had happened without my having to say anything, and he was horrified. ¬†He told me to take a hot shower and scrub myself as hard as I could. ¬†He kept apologizing and saying what an awful thing he had done, and he kept telling me it wasn’t my fault. ¬†Then he took a hot shower, dressed and left the house.

He returned a while later. ¬†He had purchased a deadbolt lock, and he installed it on my bedroom door. ¬†He gave me both of the keys that came with it and made me promise that from then on I would lock myself in my bedroom every night. ¬†Then my dad started drinking heavily. ¬†He became an alcoholic, and he died five years ago. ¬†Brad never knew what happened that night. ¬†He thought Dad drank because he couldn’t get over the loss of mom, and I’m sure that also had something to do with it. ¬†I don’t want Brad to ever know about this.

After that night, I realized how deeply my Dad loved my mom, and I felt disgusted with myself because what happened should have been repulsive to me, but instead I thought it was beautiful, because in Dad’s mind he had been loving his wife, and I wanted a love that amazing for myself.

That’s when I started sleeping with any guy who got romantic with me. ¬†Most of them didn’t last long after they had their way with me. ¬†Then I met Kevin. ¬†He was a college man, no more of those stupid high school boys for me, and he was extremely handsome, and he talked to me. ¬†He wanted to know what I was interested in, what I liked to do. ¬†He held my hand, wouldn’t even kiss me good night on our first date. ¬†We went on bike rides, he took me hiking in the woods. ¬†We went for walks on the beach, roller skating, and he took me sailing on his boat. ¬†That was the first time we slept together — in the sailboat’s cabin while rocking on the water. ¬†I was so sure he was THE One.

I spent every weekend with him for six months before I had to sneak a peek in the only room in the apartment that always had its door closed.

Imagine my horror as I saw six dead young women dressed in fancy gowns sitting at a fancy dinner table where there was one chair, at the head of the table, that remained empty. ¬†And suddenly he was right behind me and he whispered in my ear, ‘You shouldn’t have opened that door, Kitten.’

I turned toward him and he was smiling down at me. ¬†He said, ‘You’re the special one, Kitten, lucky number seven. ¬†I’ve been enjoying you so much more than the first six. ¬†I was beginning to wonder if I’d have to change my plans, but now that you know, I won’t have to. ¬†You will get to be the queen of my ladies and take your place of honor at the head of the table.’

I was terrified and the door to the apartment was behind him, so I turned and ran for the bedroom because there was a fire escape outside the one window. ¬†Kevin grabbed me as I opened the window. ¬†I screamed, ‘someone help me! ¬†He’s going to kill me.’ He threw me to the floor and in a menacing voice told me not to scream anymore. ¬†I scrambled to my feet and ran for the apartment door, but he caught up with me before I got there. ¬†He tied me to a chair and gagged me. ¬†He told me he’d be back, said he needed to get my gown and jewelry and then he’d be back.

He left the apartment and I managed to maneuver the chair I was tied to, over to a wall and I kept rocking the chair so that the back of it kept hitting the wall. ¬†It accomplished my goal, as the neighbor was annoyed and called the police, but Kevin got back before the police arrived. ¬†He found me against the wall and said, ‘You’ve been a naughty girl, Kitten. ¬†I will have to punish you.’ ¬†He pulled my hair and yanked my head back against the wall, pulled the gag from my mouth and kissed me hard and rough. ¬†He was rough with a few other body parts, but nothing that would show visible bruises in the stupid gown.

Finally, you arrived with a couple of police officers. ¬†We heard you speak through the bullhorn, commanding Kevin to come out with his hands up, and Kevin grew more agitated. ¬†He untied me and twisted one arm behind my back. ¬†He led me to the kitchen and grabbed a large butcher knife. ¬†He held it to my throat and pushed me out the door in front of him. ¬†You know the rest.”

“Yes, he tried to tell us it was a domestic disturbance and that we didn’t belong there, that he would work things out with you alone. ¬†I told him to drop the knife, but instead, he put the point of the knife right against your throat. ¬†Then, you stomped on his foot, loosening his hold on you just long enough for you to get away from him and I shot him.”

“He died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, and I was in shock. ¬†When I came out of the shock, I had a breakdown.” ¬†Lexie had gotten up and was looking out the window.

Bruce walked over and wrapped his arms around her waist from behind. ¬†He whispered in her ear, “Lexie, you were a victim, with your father and with Kevin.”

Her voice was hoarse when she responded, “I chose to have sex with many guys and the last one was a serial killer. ¬†How did I not know?”

“Lexie, it’s typical that the people closest to serial killers don’t know what monsters they are. ¬†The people closest to them are always shocked the most when the truth comes out.”

Lexie turned and looked into Bruce’s eyes. ¬†“Now you know the horrors of my past. ¬†Do you still think I can be forgiven?”

“I’m certain Christ has forgiven worse things.”

Tears were streaming down Lexie’s cheeks as they got down on their knees at the sofa and Lexie confessed her sins to the Lord and asked him to forgive her and to help her forgive herself. ¬†She asked for strength and guidance for her life.

When her prayer was finished, they stood up, and again, Lexie looked into Bruce’s eyes. ¬†“What about you? ¬†You still think you want to have a relationship with someone like me?”

Bruce leaned close to her face, so close she thought he was simply going to kiss her, but he whispered, “Absolutely”, and then he kissed her softly and tenderly.

“You were right, you know,” said Lexie.

“About what?”

“I feel light as a feather. ¬†God has surely lifted my burden.” ¬†Lexie smiled and the smile reached her eyes for the first time in eight years.

Out of the Pit (Short Story — Day 8)

All day Wednesday, Lexie’s thoughts swung back and forth between the hope of forgiveness and thoughts of Bruce. ¬†She found herself eagerly anticipating the next time she’d see Bruce, and her mind kept replaying his sweet kisses. ¬†Yet she was afraid to dream of a future with him. ¬†Could she really find forgiveness and move forward, leaving her past behind her?

She didn’t see Bruce Wednesday evening though. ¬†Wednesday evening was quiet. ¬†It was just her, Bo and Officer Watts, and the phone never rang.

Thursday was very similar to Wednesday, except that Thursday evening Lexie went over to Brad and Patty’s for dinner. ¬†They had just sat down to dinner when the doorbell rang. ¬†Brad went to the door and returned with Bruce. ¬†It was obvious that Bruce was forcing pleasantries because he didn’t want to disturb dinner. ¬†Patty quickly set a place for him across from Lexie.

Dinner conversation consisted of superficial small talk, and as soon as the dishes were cleared, Brad looked at Bruce and said, “What’s the problem?”

“We struck out with the phone records. ¬†The calls to Lexie’s apartment weren’t made from Kurt Bigler’s apartment, so either he used a cell phone or he made the calls from another location.”

“So what now?”

“I have an idea, but you’re not going to like it.”

Brad’s gaze met Bruce’s as he waited for Bruce to continue.

“Tomorrow’s Friday. ¬†He invited Lexie to come to his apartment. ¬†I was thinking that we put a wire on her and she goes. ¬†We’ll hear everything and bust through the door at the first sign of trouble.”

“Are you crazy? ¬†Send Lexie back into the same apartment that Kevin lived in to meet some other psycho? ¬†No way! ¬†I won’t allow it! ¬†That would cause her to relive the whole thing again, if not in every action, certainly, in her mind.”

“It would be a sure way of making an arrest that will stick.”

Brad had stood from the table upon hearing Bruce’s suggestion. ¬†Now he began to pace back and forth. ¬†He ran his hands through his hair. ¬†No one spoke for several minutes and the air in the room was thick with tension.

Finally Brad spoke, “So this guy’s expecting her tomorrow night. ¬†What if she doesn’t show? ¬†He’ll probably call again, right?”

“Brad, he could call a million times and it wouldn’t lead to an arrest. ¬†Not as long as he’s using a cell phone or calling from somewhere other than his apartment. ¬†He’s smart. ¬†He doesn’t stay on the line long enough for our tracer to pinpoint his location.”

“Yeah, but what if Lexie could get him to agree to meet her somewhere public? ¬†She could still wear a wire and ask him questions that would get information that could lead to an arrest.”

Lexie’s fear-filled expression had been glued to Bruce, but now she turned it to Brad.

“Lexie, don’t worry. ¬†I would never let anything happen to you. ¬†Just hear me out. ¬†I know you met Kevin at some college party, but didn’t the two of you go to a restaurant once or twice before you started going to his place?”

Lexie thought for a minute. ¬†“Oh, yes. ¬†We used to like to go to Finnigan’s. ¬†It was like a real Irish Pub and the food was really good.”

“Do you know if Finnigan’s is still in business?”

“It is,” Bruce said, “Some of the police officers like to go there on Friday nights.”

“So Lexie sets up to meet him at Finnigans the next time he calls, and Patty and I will be there at a table nearby where I can keep an eye on Lexie, and you and your officers can be outside listening and either come in or arrest him on the way out.”

“Okay. ¬†We’ll try your plan first, Brad.”

“Thank you.”

Bruce followed Lexie to her apartment.  Bo greeted them at the door, and Lexie grabbed his leash and they went for a walk.

“Are you okay with Brad’s plan?”

“It’s better than yours. ¬†Did you really expect me to go into that apartment?”

“It was the only idea I could come up with. ¬†I just want to get this guy.”

“Do you think this guy is a serial killer or just a wannabe?”

“I don’t think he’s a serial killer. ¬†We don’t have any missing women with connections in their cases right now. ¬†I think this guy studied Kevin and admires him. ¬†I think he just started where Kevin left off — with you. ¬†I don’t believe he’s made a kill yet, and maybe he doesn’t have the stomach for it, but if he does, you’re his first target, and I have no intention of giving him that opportunity.”

Out of the Pit (Short Story — Day 7)

Tuesday evening Brad and Patty went to Lexie’s and Patty and Lexie prepared dinner for the three of them and for Bruce and Officer Watts as well. ¬†During dinner, Bruce filled them in about the last two days of the investigation. ¬†He also informed them that earlier that day he had obtained a warrant for the phone records of Kurt Bigler, as he was the one that was renting Kevin’s old apartment. ¬†Bruce explained that if he could find the calls to Lexie’s apartment on Kurt Bigler’s phone bill, he would have enough evidence to arrest him for harassment and stalking.

Lexie couldn’t believe how quickly and easily this case seemed to be going. ¬†It had been so much worse with Kevin, but then, she had been involved with Kevin before anyone even knew he was a serial killer. ¬†She was relieved that this would soon be over.

After dinner, they went to the living room. ¬†Brad and Patty sat on the love seat and Lexie and Bruce sat on the sofa with Bo at their feet. ¬†Officer Watts sat on the recliner. ¬†Halfway through “With Six You Get Egg Roll”, Officer Watts was snoring gently and Bruce slipped his arm around Lexie’s shoulders. ¬†He felt her grow tense for a few seconds, but then she slowly relaxed.

Lexie considered telling Bruce to remove his arm from around her, but it felt warm, comforting and safe, feelings she hadn’t felt for weeks. ¬†By the end of the movie she had snuggled closer to Bruce and had fallen asleep. ¬†Brad and Patty got up to leave, being as quiet as possible so as not to awaken Lexie. ¬†Brad gently woke Officer Watts and the three of them left Bruce and Lexie sitting on the sofa.

Bruce watched Lexie sleep for a few minutes, then reached out and tenderly brushed some auburn curls from her cheek.  He gently kissed her forehead and she stirred and opened her eyes.  She looked around and realized that they were alone.

“I guess I must have drifted off,” she said. ¬†“Why didn’t anyone wake me?”

“We figured you needed your sleep. ¬†We all know you haven’t been sleeping well lately, and you seemed to be sleeping so peacefully, we didn’t want to disturb you.”

Lexie smiled up at him, and Bruce couldn’t resist. ¬†He leaned down and placed a short, tender kiss gently on her lips. ¬†He waited a few seconds, and when she didn’t pull away or protest, he kissed her again, longer, slower and tenderly.

The first kiss had caught her off guard, but when Bruce place his lips on hers a second time and lingered longer, she pulled away. ¬†It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy his kisses. ¬†She did, a little too much, but she couldn’t do this.

“Lexie, why won’t you allow yourself to love or be loved?”

“Bruce, I am so unclean and unworthy of the love of a good man.”

“Whatever your past sins are, Lexie, you don’t have to carry them around for the rest of your life.”

“Brad tries to tell me the same thing, and so did that Pastor David. ¬†I’ve been reading the Book of John in the Bible, and I sure wish that Jesus were here today so he could touch me and cleanse me and forgive me.”

“He is here, Lexie. ¬†Not like he was in the Bible when he walked among men, but he is still here and he still cleanses, and he forgave you when he died on the cross and rose again.”

“How can I talk to him? ¬†I can’t see him.”

“That’s what faith is — believing in something you cannot see. ¬†You believe the wind is real, don’t you? ¬†Yet, you cannot see it. ¬†You can see its effects as leaves rustle or a piece of paper blows down the street, and you can feel it blow your curls about but you can’t really see the wind. ¬†It’s like that with Jesus, too. ¬†When you have the faith to believe in him, you will be able to feel his presence. ¬†You can see him in all of nature’s beauty. ¬†you can talk to him just like you talk to me or Brad. ¬†In the beginning, it helps to close your eyes while you talk to him. ¬†It helps you to be able to focus and not to feel embarrassed or self-conscious.”

“I’m going to have to give it some more thought, but not tonight. ¬†I’m tired. ¬†Do you need anything before I turn in?”

“No, thank you. ¬†I’ll be here on the couch if you need me.”

“Okay then, come on, Bo. ¬†Good night, Bruce.”

“Good night, Lexie.”

Bruce spent the next hour in prayer, asking God to bring Lexie to the saving knowledge of the Lord, asking God to help him wrap this case up soon, and asking God to allow him to have Lexie as his wife.  Then he finally went to sleep.