"To Fall in Love Again"-Part 4
by Sandy Kay Slawson
Tina scooted into the booth across from Chad at Luigi’s Italian restaurant. She accepted the menu from the hostess and promptly hid behind it. What had she been thinking? What if she ruined their working relationship and had to find a new job? What if-
“May I take your drink order miss?” Their waitress waited for Tina’s answer with pinched lips.
“Diet Coke,” answered Tina.
“We don’t have Coke. We have Pepsi.”
“Diet Pepsi then.”
“And you, sir?”
Did her ears deceive her or did the waitress’s voice do a 180 degree turn from bored and annoyed to flirty and sultry? She peeked over the menu. Yes, the woman’s lashes fluttered, and instead of pinched lips, they spread into a wide smile. No way. She had longed for a chance with Chad for too long to let some tackless temptress try to divert his attention. No stinkin’ way. Please, Lord. Don’t let me blow this.
“I’ll have the same,” said Chad.
“Alright. Be right back with your drinks,” said the waitress before she sashayed away.
“I haven’t eaten here before. Do you have a favorite?” asked Tina.
“Oh, I get the same thing every time. You should choose whatever you like,” said Chad.
Tina lifted her menu again, but her nervous jitters wouldn’t allow her to focus on the words. Before she knew it, the waitress came back with their drinks. Tina laid the menu on the table and watched the woman with an eagle eye.
“Are you ready to order, sir?”
“Ladies first.” Chad motioned toward Tina with a grin.
Argh! She still didn’t know what she wanted. Tina glanced at the nearest table and spotted something that looked edible. “I’ll have the fettuccine Alfredo with shrimp.”
“Dressing?” asked the waitress.
“Dressing?” asked Tina confused.
“Your entree comes with a side salad, miss.”
“Oh, um, blue cheese.”
“And for you, sir?”
“Eggplant parmesan and blue cheese,” said Chad.
The waitress took their menus and left. Silence reigned for several minuted before Chad broke through her revery.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
Tina met his searching expression and unclenched her fists which rested on the table. “I admit I’m a bit nervous.”
“Why? It’s not like we’re strangers,” he said.
“We kind of are,” said Tina. He frowned at her cryptic statement. How could she explain all that had happened to her in the last week? How could she explain all that proceeded it? Did she even need to?
“I get it. Sort of. A work place relationship isn’t exactly conducive to getting to know someone on a personal level.”
“But I asked you out, because I want to get to know you better,” he said.
Tina’s toes curled at the smoldering look in his gaze. Oh. My. Goodness. Before she could respond, the waitress came bearing a tray filled with their orders. Thankful for the opportunity to clear her head, she set to arranging their plates, salad plates and bread stick basket.
When the waitress left, Chad asked, “Mind if I pray?”
Tina’s fingers rested in his palm as he prayed for the food. Silently he thanked the Lord for the shot with Tina. As he dug into his entree he second guessed his decision to put his cards on the table so fast. He wished he could decipher her startled expression. After nearly a year of waiting for this date, he didn’t want to mess it up, but he didn’t want to start from square one either. He liked her. A lot. He suspected the electrical currents ran both ways. The attraction didn’t stop at the physical, though. He loved her smile, her work ethic, her friendliness, her…everything, except what he knew of her previous choices in men.
“You’ve been different this week…more relaxed…happier,” said Chad.
Tina laid her fork on the table and took a sip of soda. “I have been happier. Some things happened in my personal life that needed to happen. I-I-you’re a believer…a Christian. Right?”
“I am.” Chad leaned in. Would she confide in him at last?
“I grew up in a ‘Christian’ home and called myself a Christian at one point, but a personal loss made my feeble faith disappear and in its place came anger and broken relationships. Well, I stopped running from the Lord and ran to Him. He saved me. Forgave me. And helped me begin reparations which I hope will completely heal my relationship with my mom one day. I’ve talked to her more in the last week than I have in the last eight years. Sorry, that was pretty heavy for a first date,” said Tina with an embarrassed giggle.
He liked her giggle. He loved that she’d opened up to him.
“I’m humbled you trusted me with your good news. If we want to build a friendship, or more, let’s keep it honest and real. You don’t have to be anybody but yourself with me. I’ve never felt the need to pretend with you, and I don’t want you to think you have to pretend either.”
The light of her smile assured him she’d been pleased with his comment. He reached for her hand again. When she placed her delicate fingers against his skin, he had no doubt he’d already lost his heart.
“Will you come to church with me Sunday?” he asked. Did she already have a church?
“I’d like that.”
Tina couldn’t believe she’d been holding Chad’s hand. She couldn’t believe after all the times she’d surreptitiously watched him and dreamed of finding a man like him that she and he were connecting. Really connecting. How many times had she wanted to cast off the pretense and be herself? Maybe it had taken finding joy in the Lord Jesus to truly figure out who she was and what she wanted from life. Like a relationship based on mutual love and respect. She had to discover her true self before she could truly give someone a chance to love her. And now she had. Gratefulness and thankfulness had flowed over her time and again throughout the last week every time she thought of the freedom she’d been given. Freedom from the chains of anger, grief, un-forgiveness and sin which had bound her for so many years. Freedom. Sweet freedom. Thank you, Jesus.
Tina hoped a relationship with Chad would grow and develop into forever. Time would tell. She refused to dwell on the what ifs any more. God would lead her. Chad is worth the risk. I’m worth the risk. The only thing she knew at this moment…Christ Jesus had made her free. He had made her free to fall in love again.
Tina is ready and willing for God's will to happen in her life. That is where we all need to be. Easier said than done I know, because we have our goals, dreams and plans. But, if God is not in it, if He is not the author of it, it will come to nothing. It will not be blessed. So many times I forged ahead thinking I was doing His will, but I had never really asked Him what His will was. Needless to say, those plans did not work out and many times only caused problems. As much as Tina and perhaps all of us want to see her make a life with Chad, if God isn't in it, it will only cause heartache in the long run. Of course, Tina and Chad's story is fiction, but your story isn't. Seek the Lord while He may be found. In the end it will work out better for all involved. -Sandy
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