Bella woke earlier than normal the next morning, excited to find out more about that church and the two men who lived in it. But before she could get out of bed, a loud crash of thunder shook her room.
“Where did that come from?” she asked, startled. Had she been sleeping through this storm? Is that what woke her so early?
She usually loved thunderstorms, but this one only brought disappointment with it. How was she supposed to walk to the church now? A little rain wouldn’t hurt, but lightning? No way could she walk outside with lightning flashing around her. She’d be walking in puddles holding her own personal lightning rod! Maybe this storm wouldn’t last long and she could still go later today. She picked up her cell phone from the small table by her bed and touched the weather icon. As she waited for the web page to come up, she imagined what it might be like to go to the church on a rainy day. They wouldn’t be able to go into the back yard so there would be no sitting on the pier soaking in the beauty. They’d have to stay inside. She frowned. Having to maintain a conversation in an ordinary environment might be awkward. Would they just sit and look at each other? She found carrying a conversation hard, even with all her questions, and Jude hadn’t been exactly the chatterbox the last time she was there. If Pastor Toby was there, it might be OK, though. He seemed comfortable with carrying any conversation.
She looked down at her phone. The weather forecast said the thunderstorm should be gone by mid-day but rain would hang around until the following day. Great. She wouldn’t be able to enjoy the garden or lake, and she’d have to chance an awkward afternoon. Or she could put off the visit for another week.
Shaking her head, she got up to get dressed. She HAD to go today. She didn’t think she could make it through the following week if she didn’t. Her mind was so full of questions that she could barely think of anything else. And her heart was tugging for her to return as soon as possible. It was almost like she could feel their love for her filling her and drawing her to them. She would get ready now, and leave as soon as the storm was gone.
While waiting for the storm to move on, she kept herself busy doing the chores she tended to put off for when she had more time. Well, she had time now so she swept and mopped the floor, washed the baseboards in the bathroom and hallway, dusted – this time moving objects instead of just dusting around them, sorted and put away a couple piles of clean laundry, and cleaned the microwave. By then, it was lunch time so she ate lunch while checking on the updated weather map. All the yellow and red of intense activity was gone. There was still a blanket of green covering her area, but that was just rain. Without lightning, rain was safe enough. It was time to go!
She got her large umbrella and headed for the church. The rain was not hard, and there was no wind, so the walk was actually pleasant. The best part was the empty sidewalk. No one else was crazy enough to be out walking in the rain. Or dodging the splashes made by passing cars, she thought, as she jumped just out of reach of another splash.
When she got to the church, she shook out her umbrella and stood it just inside the door to drain. Then she walked across the foyer straight to Pastor Toby’s living room door. The door opened just as she was about to knock on it.
“Bella!” Jude said, his face breaking into a smile so big it lit up his whole face. “I’m so glad you came! Come on in!”
He held the door open as she came in. She looked around tentatively, not sure where to go.
“Have a seat,” Jude said. “I’ll go get dad.”
Bella looked around and chose the big green comfy armchair that was near the door. That way, if things got too awkward, or she felt the need to escape, she’d be right there by the door. She still didn’t know how much she could trust this man or his father.
While she waited, she looked around the room. The wall behind her held several paintings of a garden and a lake. To her left was a reading nook with several bookshelves filled with an amazing assortment of books, including one extremely large book that almost filled a shelf all by itself, and an armchair with a small table and lamp. The wall on her right had an incredible fire place and several chairs facing it. Across the room, next to the door that led to the rest of the house, was a desk with a computer. And in the center of the room was a large couch and matching love seat with a coffee table between them. Everything in the room spoke of comfort and there was such a feeling of peace that she found herself relaxing.
After a few minutes, Jude returned.
“Dad will be right here. He’s finishing something in the kitchen. Do you want anything? Something to eat or drink?”
“No thanks, I just had lunch.” Then she added as she realized she was thirsty, “but some water would be nice.”
“Water coming right up!” Jude left again, turning left in the hall, towards the kitchen. Bella sighed. At this rate, she wouldn’t have to worry about who carried the conversation. She almost got up to follow him into the kitchen but a sound stopped her. Singing. Someone was singing and it wasn’t coming from the kitchen. It was coming from the other side of the hallway, where she imagined the bedrooms would be. And it didn’t sound like either Pastor Toby or Jude. Was someone else here?