Another short excerpt below, from my book, Three Sisters Exclusive.

With our hands on the door handles, Lxxx and I look at each other. I am sure her brash grin reflects mine, as we each take a deep breath and step out of the car. We peek around the garage to see if Mom is at the kitchen window. The sink is right below it. Anyone standing at the sink has a clear view of the backyard. But the window is empty. Hopefully, it will stay empty while we make our way across the lawn to the back door.

My heart is pumping like a trip-hammer as Lxxx quietly turns the doorknob. We know we can’t get it totally open without making any noise, but we move fast so we’re both completely inside and the door shut, just in case they try to stop us from coming inside. We make it and are standing there grinning like idiots when Mom rushes into the kitchen.

“Oh… girls!” She exclaims, “Dxxx, it’s the girls!”

She falters a bit, but then gives a little “humph” and flings an arm around each of us. Lxxx and I throw both our arms around her and we’re all three immobilized by how good it feels to be so close to each other again. I realize how much I’ve missed the feel of her hair against my cheek, the understanding in her eyes, and her fragrance; a mixture of the garden, her Avon lotion, and detergent.

We’re misty-eyed as we pull back from each other. I look up and see Dad standing in the doorway. His face has more lines than I remember. His smile is slow. He doesn’t say anything, but his eyes are watering too, and he engulfs first me, then Lxxx in his big papa-bear hug.

Mom is the first to speak, “What brings you girls over here tonight?” she asks.

Looking in her face I don’t see the forlorn, sad expression I expect to see. Instead, as I take a closer look, I sense she is suppressing her excitement. It’s as if she’s very happy, but trying not to get carried away with it.

Lxxx starts with, “Well, did you know that Vxxx is working for Sam Pxxxx?”

Both Mom and Dad nod. “He mentioned it to Dad the other day when he saw him at the gas station. But we kind of thought that was why he had called here for you. And then several times we saw you going in and out of his office.”

I am flabbergasted. “You saw me? When? I didn’t see you?”

“Well, usually, it was when I was just driving through the intersection. Dad saw you a couple of times too.” Mom’s voice still has a subdued vigor to it, which I don’t understand. I switch my attention to Dad. I realize he has a twinkle in his eye and his too sober mouth tells me he is suppressing his grin.

“Okay, tell me what’s going on?” I ask.

They exchange looks and are silent for several seconds. Then Dad says, “We need to know why you came over here tonight, because we had a priestly visit this evening and we believe our matters are going to be brought before the assembly tomorrow night at the ministry meeting. We are encouraged that we will be restored into fellowship and be free among the brethren again very soon.”

“Oh that’s great!” I blurt out. Lxxx’s exclamation echoes mine. And there are hugs all around again. My happiness is bubbling up.

Then Mom’s question, “So why are you here?” reminds me of the confused thoughts and angry feelings I’d been struggling with most of the day.

Lxxx says, “Well, we knew nothing about your priestly visit. We came over because Vxxx made a… rather… unsettling discovery at work and we felt we had to talk to you about it.”

“We just had to!” I add. “We didn’t know what else to do. We couldn’t talk to anyone else. Only Sam. I talked about it a bit with him.”

Both Dad and Mom’s eyes widen at that remark.

“It has to do with a case of his,” I hurriedly add. “It involves Will Bxxx.”

I told them what I had read in his file. I told them how angry it made me because Will had not been dealt with by the assembly; especially, because what Dad had done was negligible in comparison. When I mention indecent exposure and stalking, Mom becomes pale and tense. The lines around Dad’s mouth deepen. The silence becomes deafening after my furious, rushed explanation. As it stretches out, I feel they don’t understand about the unfairness of it all.

I can’t keep quiet any longer and it all comes out in a rush, “I don’t know how I can go to meeting again and see them and talk to them knowing what I know. But now, I don’t want them to know I know, because they may not let you back. And I’ve missed you so much. More than I can say.”

“Same here,” Laurie said. “I hate living separate from you and I don’t understand why we have to, especially when it doesn’t seem to be necessary.”

When Mom and Dad look questioningly at her, she adds, “Well, apparently, it wasn’t necessary for Will to live separate from his family. And he was convicted in court too. He even had to do community service and go for counseling.”

“Listen, girls.” Dad speaks slowly. “First of all, Vxxx, what you find out in Mr. Pxxxx’s law office needs to stay in that law office.”

“But-.”

He raises his hand in a hold-on gesture. “I know, I know, this is something you felt desperate about and needed to come to us about. That’s okay. We’re not going to be talking about it with anyone else.”

“But-,” again, I start to say how we need to let someone know because it isn’t fair for Will’s conviction not to be dealt with by the assembly like Dad’s had been.

Dad raises his hand again and shakes his head, “Just hear me out. Please. You know because you’ve been told all your life, the assembly is the “Bride of Christ”. But it is made up of individuals. Remember, persons who are ‘born in sin and shapen in iniquity’. But there is also this; I am responsible for myself. So I accept my discipline because I do not want to be responsible for tainting Christ’s Bride. What Will does or does not do is his responsibility. If he does not answer for it now, he will later on. I just choose to answer for it now.”

“But you didn’t do anything!” I am close to yelling and catch myself. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to shout.”

Lxxx immediately said, “It is deceitful and hypocritical of the Bxxxs not to deal with Will the same as they did with you.”

I watch Dad closely. I cannot believe he is not feeling some anger and frustration too. I do not see a clue he is feeling anything other than remorse and sadness.

“Girls, all I can say is that I have accepted my discipline, which I feel was necessary to clear God’s Assembly. Because I am fully conscious of my sinful state, I cannot point a finger at someone else or in any way judge their actions or decisions. I cannot point a finger at Will, because except for the grace of God, I may have stooped to such behavior. For the same reason, I cannot judge Ron for the way he chooses to deal with an issue. I know very well that everything in the assembly is not as it should be. But I am convinced it is the best place on earth. And it is where I have been put. I will do whatever it takes to remain in the fellowship where I remember Christ’s sacrifice every Lord’s Day with the breaking of bread and fellowship with others who walk in the same light I do.”

Lxxx and I are both silent. There is really nothing more we can say. I was feeling angry and frustrated for his sake. Now I just feel drained and empty.

“I hope you feel the same way,” Dad says pursing his mouth and raising his eyebrows.

Lxxx and I look at each other. Her face has that deadpan expression that means don’t ask me anything. We are both struggling to cope with our confused feelings. I’ve been tossed around in a windstorm and although I’m standing on solid ground now, I’m still wobbly.

Mom says, “You should probably be going. I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing you in a couple of days. And then we can talk more. We love you both so much, but you should probably be going now.”

Together, Lxxx and I turn towards the door. Then we both stop and turn around. She gives Mom a hug and I give Dad a tight squeeze around his middle.

“Everything’s going to be alright,” Mom says. Dad nods.

“I know,” I reply.

Lxxx doesn’t say anything.

We’re quiet as we drive back to Auntie Lxxx’s and silently let ourselves in. I am unable to put my thoughts into words and can think of nothing to say. Lxxx must feel the same, because she isn’t saying anything either. As I’m about to go in my bedroom, I stop and look at her. She pauses in her doorway as well.

“And that is that.” She tilts her head sideways and gives me a crooked smile, before disappearing into her room.

As I crawl into bed again, I realize I really do feel sick. My stomach is churning and if I had eaten any supper it would surely be coming up. I put Auntie Lxxx’s bucket beside my pillow and slowly lie down. It’s going to be a long night.    

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