With the top down on his sporty little Mercedes Cabriolet, Jacob relished the wind in his hair, cooling him from the desert heat as he left the mountainous region into the Harran plain. He was home. Although he’d never seen Paddan Aram other than in photos, his spirit recognized this as where he would find settlement and peace.
“Thank you, God,” he whispered a heartfelt prayer. “Whatever’s waiting for me here—a job, a home, a wife—I trust you to show me the way.”
Google Maps chirped through the GPS system in his car, informing him that in two miles, he needed to turn left onto the Sanliurfa Harran Yolu. Jacob chuckled, wondering if God had inspired the brilliant minds who created his navigational system.
“God inspires everything,” Jacob told the open air of his convertible. He’d been driving too many hours if he was talking to himself. Less than an hour to go and he would arrive at his uncle’s resort.
As luck would have it, when Jacob’s father had begun inquiring around the family to find possible housing, they found that his mother’s cousin, Laban, owned a large hot springs resort in the Harran plain not far from Jacob’s new office. The all-inclusive 400-bed resort also had fifty furnished apartments. With little effort, Jacob had arranged for his housing needs without having to search the internet or shop for kitchen utensils.
He switched on his turn signal even though there were no cars in sight. Habit from growing up in the largest city in southern Israel. This was far from Be’er Sheva and far from everything else.
Except, apparently, on the side of the road, a broken-down car with a beautiful brunette leaning against it. She was without a head covering to protect her from the intolerable heat of the desert. No woman should be out here alone. She could get kidnapped or worse. Jacob slowed his car as he approached the stranded young lady. With the top down on his convertible, they could see and talk to one another without him getting out and scaring her.
She looked to be in her early twenties, dressed fashionably in a lightweight wraparound skirt and platform sandals, with a billowing top that tastefully concealed her shoulders and arms in satiny linen. She stood beside her smoking car, with her arms folded and a scowl. “Let me guess, you think I need help.” Her tone challenged him not to treat her like a damsel in distress, which she so obviously was.
“No, actually, I was going to ask if you can give me directions to the Karaali Kaplıcaları Resort and Hot Springs,” Jacob asked playfully.
“Did my father send you?” She rolled her eyes. “Typical. I thought he had removed that stupid tracking device from my cell phone when I turned twenty-one.”
Jacob wasn’t even sure how to respond to that as she pulled the door handle on the passenger side of his convertible. What the heck was she doing? He didn’t know if he should worry that she was going to rob him or be flattered that a pretty girl was trying to climb in his car.
“Are you going to unlock the door for me, or what?”
“Uh… sure.” He quickly disengaged the lock and tried not to stare as the brunette’s skirt opened to reveal her thigh as she slid into the leather passenger seat. She didn’t even bother covering up for modesty, and Jacob fought the urge to request she do so. Just because he had committed his life to God and was waiting for divine direction before marrying and becoming physically involved with a woman didn’t mean that everyone in the world shared his conservative values.
“What’s your name?” she asked while clicking her seatbelt into place.
“Jacob. What’s yours?” He pulled away from the side of the road and shifted into second gear, loving the pickup in his little sports car.
“Which one do you think I am?” She turned to him with a smirk. “Most people can’t tell us apart.”
“Just take a guess.” She almost bounced in the seat with excitement.
“You want me to guess your name?” Jacob shifted into third and then smoothly into fourth, settling on a comfortable speed, not wanting to push the car in this heat.
“I mean, you have a fifty-fifty chance of getting it right. Right?”
“Right. Wait, what?” Jacob glanced over at the strange but beautiful woman. “What do I have a fifty-fifty chance of getting right?”
“My name, silly.” She pushed his shoulder and laughed.
“Uh…” He gripped the steering wheel with both hands and stared straight ahead. “Can you at least give me a hint?”
“See, I knew you wouldn’t be able to tell us apart. One of these days, someone’s going to figure out how to tell us apart from each other.”
“I am so confused.”
“That’s okay.” She settled into the seat with a smile and faced forward, finally adjusting her skirt so that it fully covered her knees. “You’re not alone.”
“That’s for sure,” he mumbled, wondering if he would ever get the sight of her elegant, long legs out of his thoughts. He tried so hard not to be tempted by women and, for the most part, had never faltered. But he hadn’t dated anyone either.
Jacob was waiting for God to provide him with a wife. Wait a minute… was this woman meant to be his wife? Had God placed a damsel in distress on the side of the road for him to swoop in and rescue? That was unlikely, as romanticized as the notion seemed.
“Wait, how did my father find me so quickly?” She turned to Jacob with a creased brow.
“I have no idea,” Jacob responded with honesty. “I’ve never met the man.”
“You work for him, but you’ve never met him?” She folded her arms across her chest.
“I was just hired a few weeks ago. I’ve never even seen my new office. The interview team met with me over Skype.”
“Interview team?” Now it was her turn to look confused. “My father uses Zoom.”
“Zoom, Skype, same difference.” Jacob shrugged. “Still a miracle technology just like the sustainable irrigation system that allows us to grow crops in this otherwise infertile valley.” Jacob gestured to the glorious fields lining their way as far as the eye could see.
“Who was with my father on the Zoom call?” Her voice was suspicious.
“Come to think of it, the interview team was three women,” Jacob mused. “Now I know for sure I haven’t met your father.”
“What did they look like?” The young lady was now pushed entirely against the passenger side door, a terrified flash in her eyes.
“Uh… one was an older woman with a British accent, one was a younger Chinese woman, maybe about my mom’s age. And the third was an American with short, dark hair.”
“Who are you?” she whispered.
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