This site provides the first few chapters for free so you can decide if you like the story before buying the book. MATURE CONTENT: These sample chapters contain sexual temptations, discussions, and some sexual terms in descriptions of the main character's private thoughts. Later parts of the book (not in these free sample chapters) include sexually-explicit scenes between husband and wife and one scene of moderate violence.

Chapter 2

Susan awoke with a start when her alarm went off. She leaned over, turned it off, and flopped back with a groan.

Delicious tinge of green, she recalled. Her body was still tired, unrefreshed, but she smiled nevertheless. Charles noticed my eyes… it’s amazing enough that he noticed me at all, but he even noticed the very little bit of green in my eyes. Just like the Prince Charming in my dream… Lord, could that be… a real sign from you…? Oh, shoot, Lord, now I kind of feel like Gideon with his fleece. One sign wasn’t enough… he had to ask for a second one. Yeah, but that dream was from before I was a Christian. Still, though, you knew me before I was formed in my mother’s womb, so you could have given me that dream even way back then. But did you? Or was that just a silly fantasy? The fact is, though, that no other man ever noticed before… and last night I was ready to tell him I didn’t ever want to see him again if he hadn’t known that secret…

She sighed. I don’t have to get up this early since I don’t start my shift until eleven again today, so I could get some more sleep… No, this is just temporary! I’ve got to stay ready for early morning job interviews, and a good paying nine-to-five type job again.

Well, I’m awake. It won’t hurt to lay here a little longer and think about Charles some more. Lay here? Lie here? Forget that… what about… oh, yes, “I noticed you’re not wearing a wedding ring.” That’s right, you gorgeous hunk, I’m available… to the right man. Am I, though? Do I want to risk marriage again, with all its headaches?

Susan rolled over and realized her bladder needed attention. “Oh, well,” she said to herself and pulled back the covers. No one else to be concerned about waking up accidently.

She made the familiar trek and snapped the light on, a self-defense mechanism she had acquired the hard way. No one else to leave the toilet seat up…

She recalled the first time she went into the bathroom in the middle of the night, pulled down her panties and sat down on the toilet… and fell in! She shrieked with the shock, and Marty’s only reaction was to get angry that she woke him up!

She unrolled some paper, wadded it up and started to wipe herself. “I don’t even want to take my eyes off you.” Ha! You want to see me naked, too, then! Well… that would be normal, I guess. If we got married. Married?! Yikes… I met the man yesterday morning, for crying out loud. How can I be thinking about marriage? Well, he seems to really be taken with me… but why…? Because of my smile? And he noticed God’s spirit in me? Well that’s a first, too.

She stood up and flushed, and stepped over to the sink to look in the mirror. Too many wrinkles… and I wonder how the way he looks at me now would change after a few years of marriage?

She struck a few poses. I wonder how it would change when he looks at me without clothes on?

Susan hefted her C-cup breasts, still in the night bra. Saggy. But this is loose, that’s why I sleep in it.

She took the bra off, hung it on the doorknob, and looked at her breasts in the mirror again. I’ve always been careful to wear supportive bras… doesn’t look like it helped much. Well, I guess it could have been worse. Yikes! I wonder how much worse it could still get? What do you think, Mr. Parker?

She turned profile and sucked in her stomach, though she only had a little paunch. Will this keep your eyes glued to me?

“On any terms you choose,” she remembered. That’s not what he meant!

“You must have been fighting men off left and right.” What?! Susan covered her breasts instinctively with her hands, then laughed at her reaction. She started to walk back toward the bed, but instead took a step back to see more of her body in the mirror. “…fighting men off left and right…” “…fighting men off…”

How do I really look to other people? “…a beautiful woman…” Am I attractive?

She tried to judge her appearance objectively, but with difficultly. Maybe my gray hair isn’t as bad as I thought. I keep it clean, trimmed, and brushed. It’s only the color that’s off. Maybe it only bothers me because it’s not what I grew up with. I like a gray color on some things, like some cars, like… Charles’ hair! His hair looks great.

She turned her head back and forth. Maybe he could find my hair attractive. “I’ve never felt this way about anyone before.”

Susan’s cheeks grew pinker. “Your smile makes my heart beat faster.” She smiled at the remembrance. “I love being in your presence…”

She turned the light off, picked up her bra, and walked back to her bedside table, folding it as she went. What would it be like to be married to you, Charles? She put it in the top drawer and walked over to her chest of drawers.

Would you ever yell at me like you yelled at Andy? She took out a clean bra and pair of panties. Like Marty always yelled at me?

She walked back to the bathroom, put the toilet lid down, put the clothes on top, and turned on the water for a shower. He waited six hours for me. Six hours. Everything I’ve seen of him so far… well, so far is only part of one day. Still, other than yelling at Andy… to defend me… he’s shown nothing but patience.

She closed the bathroom door to keep the steam in. And he’s considerate. No, he’s exceptionally considerate. That could just be while he’s in dating or seduction-mode… no, he’s not like that. It seemed to be his natural state, at least now that God changed him… no telling what he was like before.

She tested the water. Still too cold. “God changed me, Susan, radically, completely… he changed my heart… he filled me with himself.”

She closed her eyes. “God changed me, Susan.”

Slowly, Susan sank to her knees and bowed at the edge of the tub. “Lord, thank you for changing Charles. Thank you for making him your son. Please change Stephanie. Please draw her to you, and make her your daughter.” And me? God, do you want to change me some more? I don’t know how much I can handle. I… I still hurt… from Marty. How many times did I ask you to change Marty? To make him stop drinking? That was before I was a Christian, but even after that, I thought you might want to bring him back to me someday, as a changed man. Am I supposed to give up on him? Did you bring Charles to me instead of Marty?

“Oh, God, help me… I don’t even know how you can help me… but I know you do. So however I need help, please help me, too.”

She opened her eyes, and put a hand in the water. Perfect.

She stood up, closed the curtain, and reached in to pull the knob to make the water come out of the showerhead. She waited a few seconds to let the hot water flush out the old, cold water between the tub and the showerhead, and stepped into the tub.

She got wet and started shampooing her hair first, as usual, and in her mind she replayed the scene where Charles came to her rescue with Andy. She remembered how she had been tickled when Andy almost stumbled when he turned around so quickly to flee, and now she felt guilty. “God, please help Andy. He’s a lousy manager. I don’t know if he’s not cut out for it, or if he just needs to learn, but whatever it is, he’s in over his head right now. Please help him.”

Susan finished rinsing her hair and lathered up some soap in her washcloth, then began washing from the face down. “…tinge of green…” “Oh, Charles, you know my secret. You know!”

Her washing slowed down unconsciously as she washed her breasts. “I had given up, Lord. I didn’t think anyone would ever know. I didn’t think anyone would ever share that with me.” Then she remembered another part of the daydream she had repeated since childhood. ”The stranger who discovers my secret will own me, body and soul.”

She sucked in her breath. Oh, Charles, do you own me? Can I give myself to you? Has God already given me to you? Or you to me? Is the decision already made? Heavenly Father, is this for real? Was yesterday a divine appointment you brought to pass? Can I even handle being married again? Am I crazy for getting carried away?

She had worked the washcloth down to her pubic area and began washing it thoroughly as usual, without thinking about it. “Dark brown, with a delicious tinge of green around the outside edge.” “… there’s something about your eyes…”

Susan suddenly dropped the cloth as she realized she was massaging herself between her legs. “Oh, God, I’m sorry! Oh, God…”

Ashamed of herself, she hurriedly started rinsing off, skipping her legs entirely. If the stubble causes any itching, that’s just tough.

As quickly as she could, she dried off, blew-dry her hair, and got dressed, trying to put the shower incident behind her.

She went in to eat some cereal for breakfast and realized it was three hours before she had to be at work. At just over a mile, it only took forty-five minutes to walk at the most. Fifteen minutes for breakfast left her with two hours to fill.

Looks like some Bible study and a trip to the grocery store are in order for this morning. A lesson on lust, or debauchery, perhaps?

She shook her head. I repented. Now move on.

She got a paper pad and started jotting down grocery items. A moment later she realized she was planning meals to include Charles, and she put the pencil down with a snap and huffed.

“Okay, so maybe I’ll invite him over for dinner. What’s wrong with that?” The incident in the shower played through her mind. “Okay, God, I said I was sorry. I didn’t even mean to, and I won’t do it again.” She paused. “Is that okay?

Her mind replayed the moment when she had glanced at his crotch to see if might have an obvious erection, which he didn’t, but her memory dwelled on the sight. She jumped up and paced. “Well, that’s… that’s disgusting… that’s…” Disappointing? What?! No way! But still, if he found me as attractive as he said, then why didn’t… Oh, this is terrible. I’ve got to get my mind clean!

Susan pulled her Bible across the table to her usual chair, sat down, opened it up randomly, and tried to focus on the page. I wonder if his cock is bigger than Marty’s?

Argh! She jumped up again. She paced. Seemingly against her will, she started remembering countless sexual interludes with Marty, but Charles’ face, and other imagined parts, frequently replaced Marty’s in her mind.

“Oh, God, what’s wrong with me?! This isn’t like me! This isn’t who I am! It isn’t who I want to be!” Still pacing, she shook her fist in front of her and closed her eyes. “Satan, if this is your work, you can just back off. I love God with all my heart. I belong to him, and him only… God, protect me from Satan’s snares! Protect me, guard my heart! Keep my thoughts pure!” Guard my heart. Heart… in the armor in Ephesians, that’s the breastplate of… righteousness. Okay, how do I put on the breastplate of righteousness?

She sat back down and started reading the first verse her eyes fell on.

I am a wall, and my breasts are like
towers. Thus I have become in his eyes
like someone bringing contentment.

“What…?! That’s… that’s…!” She flipped a thick handful of pages and read:

But if they cannot control themselves,
they should marry, for it is better to marry
than to burn with passion.

“What?!” She flipped her Bible shut and looked up. “I’ve been controlling myself my whole life! All right, most of it. All right, I’ve been trying my best, most of the time. That’s all I’m asking for! Help me control myself. I don’t want to think about sex! That’s what I want help with!”

She folded her arms tightly across her chest, then unfolded them to rip the grocery list off the pad. She got up, picked up her pen, purse, canvas grocery bag and looked up again. “I’m going to the store. You can come if you want to.” And with that, she marched out of the house fuming.

I’m supposed to bring contentment in his eyes? What about my eyes? I like my peace and quiet! I’m supposed to become a pin cushion again for another man? For his “contentment?” “They should marry?” That’s if they can’t control themselves. Well, I can jolly well control myself, even if he can’t.

A Ready-Ride cab drove past her, with its distinctive white and green pattern. “Dark brown with a delicious tinge of green…” Arrgh!

Susan turned a corner and was relieved to see no cabs at all. “Have I at least convinced you I’m not a stalker?” “No!” she shouted to the world. “And no soup for you, Charles Parker!” alluding to one of her favorite Seinfeld episodes.

She focused on her list as she continued her walk, and got to the grocery store. She picked out a small cart and turned right, into the fresh vegetable and fruit section, as usual. She picked up several items and crossed them off her list. She got to the bananas and looked for the right shade of yellow and paused.

Susan’s mind pictured a banana slowly entering her mouth, which changed into Marty poking his tool into her face instead. He put his hands on her head and pumped her head back and forth. Oh, how she hated that! Then Charles was standing naked before her with an erection and she was on her knees before him. He just waited. And waited.

She turned away without bananas and crossed them off her list. What else has lots of potassium? she wondered.

She had no more wild sexual thoughts as she finished her shopping and her anger faded. By the time she checked out and started the walk home, she felt mostly tired. She stopped to sit on a bench with a pretty oak tree creating a canopy overhead.

I don’t mind walking to work since it’s as close to home as it is, but I wish my old station wagon was working so I could at least get groceries in it. And go to Church in it…

She sighed, and her shoulders relaxed. I’ve been acting crazy. Kind of like Charles was last night. No… more like when I first got involved with boys. Or am I even crazier than I was then? Well, I’ve got a lot more sexual experience than when I was in high school and college.

She winced at some the fleeting memories of teenage angst and pre-Christian efforts at love and sex.

She laughed to herself. Well, I haven’t had much experience lately. No sex in… how long? Marty left me… nineteen years ago, and we hadn’t had sex for several months before that, after I found out he was cheating on me. So, twenty years. Twenty years of no sex. I don’t guess I’ve missed it very much. Doesn’t seem like it was ever all that great. Well, maybe a few times.

Susan picked up her bag and purse and started walking again, more slowly than before.

God? If it’s all the same to you, I think I’d rather not get married again.

She walked along for a while not thinking of anything in particular, and then she pictured Charles in the shop. “Any terms you choose.”

Her mind stayed on Charles as she walked. He raised his gaze and their eyes met. His eyes warmed her soul. And she knew he was seeing the tiniest trace of green around the edges of her dark brown eyes. The trace that no one else had ever looked closely enough to notice. And then… he smiled. His smile chased all the gloom and clouds away and filled the room with cheer and freshness. Where did he get such a magic smile? She knew. He had told her. It was her own smile. She could turn him on… with her smile.

She got back to her house and starting putting the groceries away. “Could I stop by your shop tomorrow, Susan?” “Oh, please do, Charles.”

Her smile came creeping back to its normal place. Please do. Charles. Charles Parker. If I smile again for you, will you smile again for me? Will you take my hands in yours again? I could use a good friend. A true friend. Someone to seriously pray with me for Stephanie.

Susan walked to work and got there thirty minutes early. Andy wouldn’t let her clock in early, because she was scheduled for another eight-hour day, and he didn’t want her to leave early or work more than eight hours. He didn’t want her hanging around the dining area either, so she went for walk until she found a bench to sit on.

She started at eleven o’clock and worked through the lunch crowd expecting every person entering to be Charles. The afternoon wore on, and Andy wore on her nerves.

Charles hadn’t said what time he was going to come by, but she expected early rather than late. He was out of work, right? And he was eager to see her again. Wasn’t he?

She dropped a decanter and it splashed scalding hot coffee on her calf. Andy only expressed concern for the dent in the decanter. If there was going to be a cue for a knight in shining smile… but Charles was still not there.

She worked through the going-home crowd, distracted by a variety of notions both reasonable and wild as to why Charles had not yet arrived.

When she finally clocked out at seven PM, she got her share of tips from the day before. That big tip of Charles’ got split four ways. Today’s tips were meager.

Susan walked very slowly out of the store, and then got excited about the idea of seeing a waiting taxi. There wasn’t one.

She waited around on the sidewalk a few minutes, but her feet were already very tired and she still had to walk home. The coffee burn still hurt, and she limped the entire way.

When she got home, she sat down on her front porch steps to rest before facing going into the house alone.

She looked up and down the street. No cabs to bring an apologetic suitor. Which took her back to random ideas of car accidents, heart attacks, and instant Alzheimer’s. But she was just too tired to get worked up over any of them.

You see, God? This is what I was talking about. I can’t take this. Please, just let me keep my house and have some peace and quiet.

And Stephanie! Of course, and Stephanie. If you can do anything for her, please do. I don’t care if she ever loves me again, if you just help her love you. Yeah, I know that doesn’t make sense. I don’t much care. Just… do something good for her, please.

Finished with her prayer for the moment, Susan stood up, got out her keys and unlocked the door. She took one last forlorn look up and down the street before going in and closing the door. She turned the lock and the click seemed much louder than usual.

Walking into the living room, she sat down in the dark. The thought passed her mind that she should eat, but she didn’t have enough enthusiasm for it to bother getting up.

A tear formed in one eye, then the other. She dabbed at them. They were replaced.

It started getting dark outside, and still she sat quietly in the living room. She sighed and finally got up to eat. As she limped toward the combined kitchen and dining room, a car’s lights swept across the front of her house and her living room window, causing her to turn. It had turned into her driveway.

It must be him. Who else could it be? A policeman coming to tell me he’s in the hospital? Or that Stephanie’s dead? Her mind flashed back to the soldiers who came to tell her that her only son Steve was dead, and she felt weak. Killed in Afghanistan… in a lousy training exercise.

She walked to the front door, turning on lights as she went. She opened it and saw Charles getting out of a small sports car of some kind. Well, you’re out of the running for most considerate man of the… whatever.

He was walking slowly. Too slowly. His shoulders were sagging, his head was down. He’s not here just to apologize… something’s wrong. Stephanie? No, he couldn’t have gotten news about Stephanie before me.

He stopped a few feet from the steps and raised his head.

You’ve been crying. Suddenly she felt selfish for all her whining.

“What’s wrong, Charles?”

“I’m sorry. I… I, uh… Can we talk…? I could really use a good friend right now.”

“Yes, of course. Please come in.”

Without thinking, she took him toward her dining room.

“I’m sorry I didn’t come by the store today… oh, how was your day today? Were things any better? Worse?”

She thought about the burning sensation on her leg. “Let’s talk about that later. Right now I think you need to unload whatever’s bothering you.”

She ushered him to a chair while she got two glasses from her cupboard.

“I got a call from my son this morning. My oldest son… I have two sons, William and Robert… no girls. Well, two daughters-in-law.”

Susan poured a glass of apple juice for each of them.

“I know I was a bad father, and they don’t want much to do with me, but… I think William must actually hate me.”

She paused before putting the glasses on the table and sitting across from him. “Why do you think that?”

He sighed heavily and looked away. “I never had much time for them when they were growing up… and it seemed like most of the times I did talk to them I was mad at them and yelled at them. I knew it was bad, but I could never stop myself. Of course, that was before I was a Christian… that’s one of the ways God changed me.”

How many times did our kids hear Marty yelling at me? At least he didn’t always yell at the kids. Charles… are you crying?

He started looking around, and Susan got up and got a box of tissues for him. “Maybe it’s not as bad as you think.” Did Marty ever cry?… I don’t remember him ever crying.

“He’s moving, Susan. And he doesn’t even want me to know where they’re moving to. He doesn’t even want me to know his phone number. He doesn’t want me to spend time with my grandchildren. Can you imagine what a rotten father I was to make my son hate me that much?!” He wiped his eyes and blew his nose.

Susan fetched a wastebasket for him. I guess it is that bad. I sure know something about having a child who hates me. I’m sorry, Charles, but I have no idea what to suggest. She put the basket down and returned to her seat. “What did your son say when he called?”

“That’s when he told me he’s moving, and that he won’t tell me where. And he won’t let Julie tell me… that’s his wife. He knows I’ve been trying to use her to reconcile with him.”

He looked down. “Just three weeks ago, I sold my house, and I moved down here last week in hopes that I could at least spend time with my grandchildren… maybe make up a little for how I loused up with my boys. I rented an apartment, a twelve-month lease, figuring I’d live there while I looked for a house near William.”

“After he called this morning and dropped his bomb, I went over to his office to plead with him. They told me his last day there was over two weeks ago. I asked if he had put in a two-week notice, and they didn’t want tell me, but I talked them into it. He had.”

Susan gasped at the realization.

“I had told him my plans, through Julie. He knew. He let me sell my house, move down here, and sign a lease, just to be near them, and he knew they wouldn’t be here.”

“Wow.” No wonder you’re upset.

He dipped his head more so she couldn’t see his face. “I went out to my car and cried awhile, then went over to their house. There was a moving truck. One of the big ones, that would hold everything, so they could be going anywhere.”

He lifted his head to take a long drink, and his face was covered with tears. “He wouldn’t talk to me, and wouldn’t let me in. Julie came outside to talk to me, just once, to say good-bye. I didn’t even get to say good-bye to the children.”

He put his head on his hands and sobbed.

All the compassion I’ve seen in you. Did it come too late? Is that what happens when we’re not smart enough to become Christians when we’re young? Is it too late for Stephanie to forgive me, too? Or to… to understand… why I divorced Marty?

Susan folded her hands and closed her eyes. “Father, I don’t know what you can do for Charles and William, but I ask you to do something. At least help them to not hurt so much.”

Charles nodded, then blew his nose.

“Thank you,” he said quietly.

Susan smiled, and Charles inhaled deeply, slowly, and as he let it out he gazed at her and some of his pain seemed to fade.

He used another tissue on his eyes. “After I left, I was so upset, I just drove around and cried out to God. I poured my heart out, and I lost track of time. I didn’t realize how late it was until it started getting dark… then I realized how close I was to your house, and I thought, I hoped… it wasn’t too late to see you.”

Should I share how much it hurt not to see you all day? “I’m glad you decided to come by.” I don’t know how much sleep I would have gotten if you hadn’t.

She glanced over at the kitchen clock.

“Oh, what time is it?” Charles asked, and then spotted the clock. “Oh, my, I didn’t realize it was this late.” He started to get up. “I should be getting home. What time do you work tomorrow?”

“I’m supposed to be there at five to help Andy open. But I’m only scheduled for five hours. I’ll get off at ten.”

He threw away his tissue and pulled out a couple of extras. “Oh, I’m sorry. I’ve kept you up too late.”

“It’s okay. I wasn’t ready to go to bed yet, anyway.” Unless it was to cry myself to sleep.

Susan saw him to the door and he apologized a few more times as he left. This time she pulled the curtain back to watch his car leave her house, and she sighed heavily.

She felt too drained to have an appetite, and decided to go on to bed without eating. She walked back through the house dragging her feet, turning off lights, and as soon as the last one was off, she headed toward her bedroom with just the light coming through the front windows from the streetlights. She undressed as she went, tossed her clothes in the hamper, put on her night bra, and fell into the bed.

As she tried to drift off to sleep, the throbbing in her calf became more noticeable. She tried to focus her thoughts about what she could put on it, and somehow that led to remembering that she needed to set the alarm.

She got back up with difficulty, set her alarm clock, and smoothed some aloe vera lotion on her leg.

She flopped onto her bed on top of the covers and didn’t move. Oh, God, please let this night be better than the day.

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