Chapter Twenty-Five ~
Jackson pulled up in front of an old peach-colored building that had 'County Courthouse' written in faded black letters across the front. There were two doors inside. One read 'courtroom,' and the other 'everything else' in the same faded black lettering above the door. He snickered, and so did Amy.
He opened the door to 'everything else' and ushered Amy inside by an elbow. He walked up to the tall, scarred wooden counter and cleared his throat at the pretty, blonde-haired woman sitting behind it reading a romance novel.
"I need a marriage license." He said.
The blonde's head popped-up and she smiled happily. "Are you two getting married?"
"We are if we can get a marriage license."
"Okay, hold on and let me get Myrtle. She does that sort of thing." She gave Jackson a flirty smile.
Amy glared at her and gave a low-throated growl. Jackson laughed, bowed his head closer to hers and whispered in her ear, "Easy Tigress, I'm all yours." He squeezed her hand before dropping it to her side.
"Okay, we'll wait." He pulled Amy toward an equally old and scarred wooden bench that ran the length of the back wall. They sat down and busied themselves reading the names carved into the seat.
'Myrtle' turned out to be a woman of unknown age with bright purple hair and bright neon pink horn-rimmed glasses. She was short and chunky, and obviously full of life and laughter. "Are you the couple who wants a marriage license?"
"We certainly are." Jackson said.
Both women stared at Jackson dreamily, and Amy felt a little of the green-eyed monster rising to the forefront. She swallowed to dispel the feeling, but wasn't successful. Her voice sounded rude, even to her own ears when she asked, "How long is it going to take?"
"About five minutes miss." The purple-haired woman said shortly, and with a hint of steel in her voice.
"That's fine, isn't it?" Jackson asked as he pulled her to a standing position and propelled her back to the tall counter that was even with her chest. He looked down at her with tenderness, the love apparent in his eyes.
“Where are you guys from?” The purple-haired lady asked.
She was fishing, and Amy's radar went off. Maybe she was paranoid, but she wasn’t taking any chances. "Yes, but we're thinking of moving here, aren't we Jackie?" She batted her lashes at Jackson.
"Yes we are pumpkin nose." He tweaked her nose for emphasis.
"Okay," Purple-haired Myrtle said, "Here's the license. Just fill in the blanks and I'll stamp it when you're done."
Jackson looked at Amy. "When's your birthday, I don't even know."
"I was born January tenth, nineteen eighty-three. When were you born?"
"My birthday's July twenty-sixth nineteen seventy-nine. I feel so old compared to you, brownie-cakes." He gave a teasing smile.
"If you brownie-cakes me one more time you're going to be eating bread and water for supper." She whispered with a sweet, loving smile in his direction.
"There's my tigress." He said as his hand feathered down her back lightly.
She shivered and whispered again, "Stop it now, I mean it."
"Here you go Myrtle, it’s all filled-out." He shoved it across the counter into her waiting hands.
"Okay, let me see here." She ran long, black-painted fingernails down the application. "It looks to be in order. Let me see your IDs, please."
Jackson handed over his and Amy's IDs and waited while she perused them. She wrote the license numbers in the appropriate spaces and stamped the application after signing it. She gave it back and said, "Congratulations, and I hope you have a long, happy life together."
"Thank you, we do too." Jackson grabbed the license and they left.
"Wow, that lady had some purple hair." Jackson said as soon as they cleared the building.
"I know right. I couldn't even tell how old she was. I feel sorry for her, though. It's sad to see an older lady try to act like a teenager."
"You totally amaze me, all the time."
"Why? What do you mean?"
"Most people would make fun of that old lady, not feel sorry for her. That's one of the reason's I fell in love with you." He opened her door and helped her into the car.
"I don't see anything to make fun of her for, it's just sad. She probably lacks love in her life and tries to compensate by acting like she's young again." She pulled her seatbelt across her chest.
"That may be true. I didn't even think of that. I was too busy making fun of her."
"A few years ago I would've made fun of her too, but circumstances changed all that. I met God. Without Him, I couldn't feel compassion, either. I would be just like you."
"I want to have your attitude. How do I go about that?"
He looked serious, and Amy didn't want to discount it. "First-off, you have to pray and ask God to call on you. You have to ask Him to give you the ability to accept Him. Once you've accepted Him, you have to live for Him. You have to glorify Him in all things. The only way you can do that is through His saving power. Through His saving power you grow in love and obedience to Him. There's nothing for you to do. God has to call on you and give you the desire to seek Him. It's all Him, and none of you."
"Wow, that's really deep."
Amy felt an imaginary iron fist hit her in the stomach. She couldn't marry Jackson. The realization hit her like a ton of bricks, but her resolve was sure. "Jackson, I can't marry you." She whispered.
"What do you mean you can't marry me? We just got a license, for Pete's sakes!"
"Jackson, I am so sorry. I'm going to be completely honest here and tell you I was so happy you asked me to marry you at first I didn't even think about God, and what He wants. But after what I just said, I realize how true it is. I have been changed. I'm no longer the Amy I used to be. I can't marry you because I can't be unequally yoked. You aren't saved and I can't marry you." The last words ripped from her chest on a sob.
"You're not serious. Amy, I want to know your God, I really do. Just give me a chance to come to know Him, okay? Don't tell me no before you even know what's going to happen." He heard the note of hysteria in his own voice. No one had ever caused him to feel this amount of pain. He couldn't lose her. Especially after he’d admitted to her and pretty much everyone they knew he loved her and wanted to marry her.
"Think of the kids, Amy. They need a Mom, and you're perfect for them. You can't tell me you don't love them. Everyone knows you do."
Jackson put the key in the ignition and started the car. He sat staring into space for a couple more seconds before he pulled out onto the road and headed back to the cabin. The whole trip was made in silence. Amy sat like a statue with tears pouring from her beautiful eyes and running down her face.
Jackson was despondent. He didn't need this right now. He needed to be on his toes and at complete attention. The lives of his children and the woman he loved depended on it. He felt anger that she would pull this right now, but even more, he respected her. He'd never met anyone with such morals. He really did want to know the God that caused that kind of devotion.
They pulled up in front of the house and Jackson turned the car off. "Don't say no yet, Amy. Give me time to know this God of yours. Let me get this madman off the streets and out of our lives. I love you and I will not lose you." He got out of the car and stormed off behind the house.
Amy was left to go in the house and give the guys the bad news. They were just as upset as she was.
When she told them what had transpired, Jude and Scott were angry with her. Otis said, "Good girl, God loves it when you glorify Him."
Amy was so upset she ran into Otis' arms and sobbed inconsolably. Angie and Benji heard the commotion, and as was becoming their habit, they came running to see what was going on in their world this time.
Amy pulled them to her and sobbed harder. Angie pushed her head up as much as she could with her tiny hands and said, "It'll be okay Mamie. God loves you." The little girl smiled at her with a secret little smile, and Amy laughed.
Not to be outdone, Benji said, "Yeah Mamie, God loves us."
Tenderness washed over her at the love the little ones were showing, and she hugged them tightly to her. "Thanks guys. I know He loves me, and I love you."
Jude looked at her in irritation, "Amy, Jackson loves you. How can you not marry him?"
She stood up and looked him square in the eyes. "The Bible tells us we aren't to be unequally yoked, and no matter how much I love him, I won’t go against God."
"I guess you're right."
"I think I understand, that doesn't mean I have to like it. I was looking forward to being an uncle." Scott was sullen. What he said lightened the mood, and they all laughed.
Jackson came in and said to Jude, "It's set up. We're leaving within the hour." He looked at Amy. "Let's go do one more round of target practice for good measure. Uncle Scott can watch the kids." He grinned and said, "No worries mate, I’m very confident you will be their uncle before it's over with." He walked out the door, leaving Amy to follow.
Amy was sad and a little angry she couldn't marry the man she loved. She sent up a prayer asking God to call on Jackson that he might be saved. Not only did she want him saved, she really wanted to marry him. She added a confession of self-interest and asked God to make her grow the way He desired, and that His will be done, not hers. She was definitely a work in progress and she moved uncomfortably at the knowledge.
They went behind the barn where they had before and she took the gun, checked it, and then aimed and squeezed the trigger. The bullet hit in the center of the bull's eye. She walked back to him, handed him the gun, smiled cheekily and said, "Do I pass muster?"
He laughed and replied, "Yes you do." He took the gun and slid it back in its holster. "I love you Amy, no matter that you've hurt me." He turned and walked away.
As Amy walked back to the house, a sob escaped her tightly clamped lips. Jackson was ahead of her, his back ram-rod straight. "I love you too, Jackson." She whispered.