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Some more of God's beauty
Lily and Nanny pulled up to the pastor’s house about an hour later. Cars lined the driveway and both sides of the street. Either most of the congregation had already accepted him as their pastor, or a lot of people were curious. Lily believed it was the latter reason. In her experience people were too distrusting to accept someone so quickly. “Wow, I didn’t think this many people would be here.” Her gaze moved from one end of the property to the other.
“They’re all curious, sugar. I suppose a lot of the single women came because he’s single, and good-looking.”
“Would you stop already?” Lily hoped her friend wasn’t about to embarrass her over the new pastor.
“So tell me about this dream you had.”
“Really, you want me to tell you about it right now? I mentioned it when I first came to this morning.”
“I’m sorry, sugar. I had other things on my mind.”
“Yeah, like Aaron Bates.” Lily smiled wide, showing her pretty white teeth.
“Yep, I’m not ashamed to admit it.” She pulled the keys out of the ignition of her seventies model station wagon and dropped them down into her huge bag.
“He is kind of cute, Nan. You could do a lot worse.”
“That’s true. What’s worse than being alone?” She opened her door and rushed toward the brick rambler whose porch was graced with several planters full of flowers.
“It looks like a woman’s touch, doesn’t it?” Lily caught up to Nanny and linked her arm with her friend’s.
“It does. I wonder who…”
From under the shadow of a huge pine tree, a voice spoke; “My grandma came over early this morning and ‘girlied’ the place up a bit.” Percy walked out of the shadows and smiled at them. He looked so much like his dad Lily’s heart tripped when she first saw him, but slowed when she realized it wasn’t him. Wow, her mind was going crazy.
“Hi Percy, what are you doing out here all alone?” Lily felt a strange closeness to the young man, and she smiled warmly.
“I don’t think the people came to see me. It’s mostly a bunch of women who’ve come to scope out the new prospect in town.”
Nanny threw her head back and laughed. “You got that right, sugar. I tried to get Lily here interested, but she refused to comply.”
Percy gave her a long look. “That’s too bad. I think she’d make my father a good wife.”
The statement caused Lily’s mouth to drop open and gasp like a fish out of water. She tried to talk, but no words came. What could you say to something like that?
Nanny knew exactly what to say. “Yes she would. Lily’s the nicest girl in this town. I’ve been trying to get her married off ever since I’ve known her.”
“How long has that been?” He asked curiously with another long, unfathomable look at Lily.
Even though she couldn’t read the look, Lily didn’t feel weird or threatened. It was like he was trying to look deep into her soul and see her for who she really was. “We’ve known each other for about ten years.”
“That’s a long time.” There was so much in that statement. There was envy and sorrow, but more than that, she heard hope hiding behind the tone in his young voice.
“It is a long time. Nanny’s my best friend in the whole world. I wouldn’t trade her for anything.” Lily squeezed Nanny’s arm to emphasize her point.
“I’d trade Lily for a spool of baby-fine thread…” Nanny teased. A smile lit up her round face and Percy smiled.
“I like you guys. You’re nice.”
“I love innocence, son. Don’t change who you are.” Nanny grabbed his arm and squeezed it lightly as they passed. “Are you coming?”
“I’ll be up in a bit. I’m getting to know the territory.”
“It’s a beautiful night to do that. If you need a guide for exploring, let me know. I’m free most evenings.” Nanny reached into that unending space she called a bag and miraculously pulled out a business card on the first try and handed it to Percy.
As they walked up to the door Lily said, “I love you Nan.”
“I love you too, sugar. You’re my reason for living right now. Hopefully I can add Aaron Bates to that list soon.” She chuckled deeply and rang the doorbell.
Lily wasn’t ready for the man who answered. There was no suit and tie to hide the realness Wyatt Adams represented. He wore a baby blue t-shirt that brought out the color in his eyes and a pair of tan khaki pants. Not too casual, not too fancy. She hated to admit she liked it.
“Lily, are you going to answer the man?” Nanny asked, inspecting one long blue-painted fingernail.
“I’m sorry, did you say something?” Her head felt heavy and she was having trouble bringing her eyes to his face. Maybe she should’ve taken the time to go to the emergency room.
“I asked if I could take your jacket.” Wyatt gave her a long look that instantly reminded her of Percy.
“Yes, of course.” She came in the door and quickly flipped her jacket off and into his waiting hands.
“Make yourself at home. There’s food in the kitchen but most of the people are out on the back patio. Oh, you might want your jacket for that…”
“No thank you. I’ll stay inside, I think. This is a lovely home Pastor Adams.”
“It is. I was lucky to get it. I sold my house in Salt Lake to a member of my last congregation so I was able to pay for this one outright. I’m hoping to use what’s left from the sale to start a charity here for underprivileged kids.”
“That’s an awesome endeavor, Pastor Adams.” Nanny said as she crowded into the kitchen where they’d ended up while they talked. “Are you gonna carry our jackets around all night?” She gestured to the two jackets in his arms and he grimaced.
“Sorry, I forgot I was carrying them. I got carried away with my plans to start a charity. I’ll be back. Feel free to grab a drink. Supper is being served informally so go ahead and get that, too.” He left the kitchen for a long, dark hallway.
“He’s nice, sugar. How many men are good-looking, and nice?”
“He’s a pastor, Nanny. I’m sure he has much better choices for a wife.”
“What choices?” Wyatt asked as he returned to the kitchen.
Lily blushed, causing her cheeks to glow warmly. She couldn’t lie to him…”Um, we were talking about you Pastor Adams. I’m sorry if you’re offended.”
“I’ll only be offended if you don’t tell me what you were talking about.”
Nanny threw her head back and guffawed loudly. Several people standing close by joined in while Lily stood there, her face blazing even hotter than before.
“You have to tell him, sugar. You don’t want him to be offended, do you?”
Lily threw her best friend a dirty look that could kill from a mile away and turned to the pastor. “Nanny was suggesting you would be a good catch because you’re good-looking and nice, too. I said you probably had much better women to choose from than me.”
Wyatt Adams stood there with a surprised look on his face before finally saying, “Oh.”
“Now you know why I was a little reluctant to share.” Lily couldn’t help it; she smiled smugly at the man. Pastor or not, he’d help embarrass her. It was justice that he’d ended up sharing in a little of that with her.
Percy came in at that moment and asked, “Do you want to go shoot a few hoops, Lily? We have a small court out back.”
Lily loved basketball and even if she hadn’t, she would’ve jumped at the opportunity to get out of that house. “Yes, I love basketball. Could I get my jacket?” She looked over at Wyatt apologetically because she’d told him she wouldn’t need it.
Wyatt left and returned a minute later with her pink and gray sweat jacket. She didn’t wear fancy clothes very often. The dress from this morning was an exception.
“Nanny, aren’t you going to go?” Percy asked.
“Nah sugar, I better stay in here and help with the food.
Lily wasn’t the least bit fooled by her friend’s reluctance to go outside. Aaron Bates had just arrived with his two teenage daughters, Marissa and Carissa. They were identical twins and the only way most people could tell them apart was the different colored hair ribbons they wore. Marissa wore pink, and Carissa wore purple.
“Okay, but if you get bored, you know where I’ll be.”
The game turned out to be the big event of the night. Shortly after arriving at the half-court, several of the men decided to make teams and play a game. Percy, Lily and three teenagers, including Marissa and Carissa were on a team against five men. They men had believed they would have an easy win, but Lily was good, and it turned out Percy was, too. The twins were on their high school basketball team and the other shy teenager was pretty good at stealing, leading in the game with seven.
The sidelines were filled with people who’d left the house due to all the noise. Once they saw the excitement, they stayed. Lily had the ball and a man from the other team kept trying to steal it from her, but she wasn’t having any of it. “Sorry George. Usually I play nice, but this is basketball!” She feinted to the left, went right and around the stunned six-foot-eight player. There were loud shouts from all those around, and Lily couldn’t help smiling.
“Go Lily, go Lily!” Nanny shouted. She clapped her hands, and others followed suit.
When Lily looked up, Wyatt Adams was watching her. She was at the three-point line and she heard someone yell, “You can’t do it!”
She stopped, aimed, and shot the ball. It whooshed into the basket, smooth as silk.
The people erupted in screams and hollers until Wyatt put a megaphone to his mouth and said, “We have to be quiet, I have neighbors.”
Almost instantly, the crowd quieted. There were various apologies, and Pastor Adams accepted them all. “I’m sorry to ruin everyone’s fun, but you know how it is.”
“My neighbors would’ve already called the cops.” Lily said just behind his back.
Wyatt jumped a bit and turned toward her voice. “I didn’t know you were back there. Good game. You’re pretty good at basketball.”
“Thanks, I haven’t played since college.”
“What did you study?”
“I studied to be a lawyer, believe it, or not.”
“I wouldn’t have guessed that one.” Wyatt said in surprise.
“Most people don’t.” She followed him as he headed back to the house.
“I would’ve thought you were a teacher, or an artist.”
“I don’t know whether to take that as a compliment, or an insult.” Lily smiled uncomfortably. The people had quickly dispersed and they were alone outside.
“I meant it as a compliment, but I guess if you don’t like the arts, it would’ve been an insult. My mother is an artist. She’s painted every mountain range in Utah she’s ever seen.”
“That’s awesome. You’ll have to show me some time.” As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she regretted them. Did he think she was asking him for a date? That hadn’t been her intention. She gave an exaggerated sigh of relief when they reached the door.
“I didn’t realize you were so uncomfortable in my company.” He smiled, but even in the dark she could see it hadn’t reached his eyes. She’d hurt his feelings somehow.
“Thanks for the nice evening. It’s cool to have a basketball court in your yard.”
“Feel free to use it anytime you want. It’ll always be open to members of the church.”
“I guess that leaves me out then.” She was surprised at the disappointment she felt. She’d really enjoyed playing basketball again.
Wyatt stopped just before he opened the back door. “What do you mean?”
“I’m not a member of the church. I’ve gone my entire life, but never became a member.”
“We’ll have to rectify that then.” He gave her a reassuring smile and opened the back door and stepped aside for her to enter.
“Not anytime soon, we won’t.” She said under her breath as she preceded him into the kitchen. It was warm and smelled of apples and cinnamon. Nostalgia for the old days rained down on her when her mother used to bake cakes and pies for dessert. Now they were lucky to get a supper out of her once a month or so. Lily did most of the cooking, and she loved it, she just missed the good ole days.
“I heard what you said. We’ll discuss it over coffee at the ‘Cook for me Café’ tomorrow, say noon?”
Lily shook her head. “Are you asking me out?”
“I don’t think coffee is a date, but I’d like to get to know you.”
“Really?” Her heart quickened and she smiled, trying not to let him see her panic. Her gray eyes automatically scanned the room for her friend. She spotted her close to the living room, standing next to Aaron Bates.
“Will you be there?”
“Yes.” Her eyes slid away from his quickly, suddenly embarrassed.
“I’ll see you then.” He walked back into the kitchen and left her standing there alone. Nanny looked up and caught her eye then. When she saw the ‘I’m freaking out’ look on Lily’s face she excused herself and made her way over.
“You okay, sugar? You look like you saw a ghost.”
“I’m okay. The pastor wants to have coffee tomorrow. Do you think it’s okay for a pastor to date? I’ve never given it much thought, myself.”
“I don’t know, sugar. I think as long as he doesn’t do anything bad, it should be okay.”
“I think I’m gonna go then.” She looked Nanny in the eye then. “What should I wear?”
“If it’s just coffee, then it isn’t some fancy dive so jeans and a t-shirt should do. You’ll feel more like yourself in them, anyway.”
“I guess that’s true. If you’re ready, let’s go.” Lily didn’t wait for her friend, but raced out the front door.
“I have to get my coat, sugar, hold on.” Nanny wheezed with the quick movement and Lily burst out the door in a huff. What was wrong with her? She couldn’t answer her own question, but adrenalin moved her. She couldn’t see anything at first, the light from inside had blinded her for a moment once she hit total darkness. Her feet continued to move down the steps at a fast clip. She tripped, rolled down the steps and landed in a heap at the bottom.
When Lily woke-up, her skin prickled, as if someone were staring at her. She shook her head to clear the cobwebs, opened her eyes, and gasped in awe. The most beautiful blue eyes she’d ever seen were staring down at her in worry.
“Sheriff Adams, what are you doing here?”
“Are you okay, Ms. Tompkins?” Sheriff Wyatt Adams asked as he helped her up with one rough, gloved hand.
The snow and ice must’ve been the culprit that caused her to wake up in the middle of winter at the bottom of her steps. “I think so. Did I fall?”
“I assume you did. I was driving by on patrol and noticed you lying there. I stopped to see if you were okay.”
She brushed off her gray and yellow ski jacket and looked up to the sky. Snow was falling, and it was beautiful.
“I love the snow.”
“I know you do, that’s why you ski.”
“If you’re okay, I’m gonna go.”
She nodded, and he left her standing there, alone. In fact, she’d never felt so alone…