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Dinah’s confidence faltered the following morning when she walked into the palace chapel to find a young man sitting in the front pew.
When the door to the chapel clicked shut the man startled and rose to his feet, turning to face her. “Oh, I didn’t realize anyone would be up this early,” he said. “I’m so sorry. I’ll come back some other time.”
Suddenly his face dawned with recognition, and he stopped short, holding up his hands in surrender. He didn’t come any closer.
“Dinah! I didn’t expect to see you.” Shechem’s voice was deeper than his young teenager’s voice. His jaw was firm. His hair was perfectly styled. His eyes were apologetic.
“I live here,” she said with exaggerated sarcasm. “Did you honestly think that you would be able to stay in my palace for a month and not eventually run into me?”
Ignoring her question, Shechem attempted to escape. “If you will move to the far wall, I will exit the room so that you can have the chapel to yourself. I don’t want to frighten you.”
“I’m not afraid of you.”
“You have no power over me,” she said.
“I’m glad. I never wanted power over you.” He lowered his hands but still didn’t come any closer. “I only wanted to love you. I still love you. I’ll always love you.”
“Well, that’s your misfortune.” She didn’t offer an ounce of sympathy. “You need to get over me and get on with your life.”
“I wish that were possible.”
“It is possible,” she said flippantly. “I’ve gotten over you, and you will never have control over me. And I don’t need to move to the other side of the room because I could take you down with my bare hands. I have more self-defense skills than you could ever hope to have.”
“I don’t doubt that for a second.” He chuckled and took a tentative step closer to her. “I’ve seen some of your speeches. Only as YouTube videos though. I would never be stupid enough to show up at one of your events.”
“That’s very smart of you.”
“Thank you. I like to consider myself an intelligent man.” He took another step forward.
Diana snorted. “Yeah right.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“If you were intelligent, you would have gotten over me by now.”
“How would I go about doing that?” he asked. “You are the love of my life. What happened that day destroyed both of us. I lost my best friend.”
“Cry me a river.”
“I will admit to having cried many tears over the past six years.”
She would never admit to such a thing. She had decided long ago that she was too strong to ever give him another tear. Yet there were many times when she crumbled, usually late at night, and usually when she missed him desperately. He was right that they had been best friends. He had been her first love, her only love to this point in her life.
As she pondered his admitted tears, he cautiously moved with painstaking slowness toward the back of the chapel, where Dinah stood confidently, not willing to show an ounce of vulnerability.
Until Shechem was close enough for Dinah to inhale a whiff of his cologne. She nearly lost her resolve, and her eyes fluttered shut. When she opened them, Shechem had stopped two feet in front of her, with his hands in the pockets of his slacks and a knowing smirk on his face.
On a whim, Dinah smacked him hard across the cheek. Even as he flinched and squeezed his eyes shut, he didn’t remove his hands from his pockets. With vengeance, Dinah whispered, “I’ve wanted to do that for six years.”
“I’ve deserved that for six years,” he whispered back, his voice trembling. “I took your innocence. That was unforgivable.”
“I gave you my innocence. There’s a difference. I am not a victim and I’m tired of everyone treating me like I am. I am a survivor.”
“You are now. But that night… you cried so loud that everyone heard you.”
“It hurt! What was I supposed to do?”
“You did nothing wrong. That’s the point. It was all my fault. And I will never forgive myself for hurting you.”
“Well, I’ve forgiven you,” she said softly, but that didn’t mean she could abide his presence just yet. Dinah rose to her full height and spoke with the authority of a princess. “Go find somewhere else to beg God for mercy and forgiveness. This is my chapel.”
“As you wish, my love.” Shechem quietly left the room and closed the chapel doors behind him, allowing her the solitude she desired.
Dinah sank into the nearest pew, shaking, but proud of herself for standing up to him. With resolve, she muttered to herself, “I am not your love.”
She wished she believed her own declaration.
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