“I’m disappointed in you, son.”
Great, that didn’t take long. They’d barely started eating the meal his mother had so graciously prepared for Troy and his new girlfriend, and already his dad was laying into him.
Troy didn’t know what to say so he shoveled in another forkful of baked chicken. He knew his father would want to have his say in the matter before requesting an answer to his accusations. He forked in another bite of food.
His father’s glare bounced back and forth between him and Melissa. That woke Troy up a bit. He would not openly defy his father except when the matter affected his wife, well, future wife. Troy swallowed before reacting.
“The fault is mine, father.” Troy wiped his face with his napkin and rested it in his lap. He reached over and took Melissa’s hand, hoping to convey his solidarity and commitment to her. “I chose to kiss her inappropriately and was punished for my behavior. While attempting to remove the stain, I spent time in sincere repentance for my actions.”
“Inappropriately?” Melissa raised her eyebrows at him. “That was a very chaste kiss in a public location and I don’t think God’s punishing you because I chose to wear lipstick.”
“Young lady, you have no right to presume to know what God does and does not do,” Troy’s father said. “You are but a harlot tempting our son to stray from the teachings of the church.”
“A harlot?” Melissa stood and glared across the table at Troy’s father.
“Father, that was uncalled for.” Troy stood also, again feeling the need to protect his wife. He tried to wrap his arms around her but Melissa shook him off.
“Troy, I would like you to take me home please.” Melissa didn’t even glance up at him as she dropped her napkin over her plate as if to send a clear message that she didn’t plan to eat another bite. “I know where I’m not welcome.” She turned on her heel and strode from the room, not even glancing at his mom or thanking her for the nice meal, most of which was still on her plate.
Troy had wanted Melissa to have a chance to get to know his mom, but he knew that his mom wouldn’t ever defy her husband and reach out to Melissa. Troy’s only choice was to take Melissa home.
“Thanks a lot, dad.” Troy shook his head at his father in disgust then turned to his mom. “Mother, thank you for the meal. The chicken was delicious.” He didn’t want to make note of how much chicken was still on his plate or how disappointed he was to leave it uneaten. He left to go find his future wife, hoping the repeated confrontations with his father wouldn’t deter her from wanting to marry him.
He found Melissa already sitting in the cab of his pickup truck staring straight ahead with a resolute expression. He climbed into the driver’s seat and started the engine.
“I suppose that’s how you felt when you met my parents, huh?”
“Not even close.” Troy turned to face her. “What my dad said was unacceptable and rude. Your parents were polite in comparison.”
“I’m sorry,” Melissa whispered, her gaze lowered to her lap where her hands were gripping into her skirt.
“What do you have to be sorry about?” Troy reached over and lifted her chin gently, turning her head toward him.
“We don’t belong together, Troy.”
“Oh, yes, we do,” he said adamantly.
“Every time we turn around we’re creating more problems for ourselves and the people we love. Your family is never going to embrace me and my family’s never going to embrace you, and we’ll always argue about which church to take our kids to, and I’ll never be good enough for you.” With that she lifted her hands from her lap and covered her face, sobbing.
“Listen to me,” Troy said, pulling gently on her hands. “You are better than good enough for me. You are perfect for me.”
“I’m not perfect, Troy. Nothing about me is perfect.” She held firm and continued crying.
“You’re perfect for me,” Troy clarified. “You are the woman God made for me.”
“If that were true why would we have been born into such different lives?” She finally pulled her hands from her face and glared at him. “Look at us. You’re a Mennonite. I’m a Mormon. How are we even remotely similar?”
“We both believe in God as the father, and Jesus Christ, his son, and in God, the Holy Spirit. Right?”
“But nothing. We both read the Bible, and pray, and we both believe in faith and sin and repentance and baptism and miracles and healings, and we believe that God created the earth and man and woman and plants and animals, and, and, we both love each other.”
Melissa met his gaze and Troy reached up to wipe the mascara from beneath her eyes. “You love me?”
“Of course, I love you,” Troy said. “Haven’t I made that clear enough yet?”
“I don’t know… maybe.” The vulnerability in her emerald eyes broke his heart.
“Melissa, I love you. I love you. I love you.” He held his hands on either side of her face and pulled her a little closer, hoping she would reciprocate those three magic words.
“Troy, I love you too.” She closed the distance between them and for the second time that day their lips connected in a forbidden kiss, this time right in his parents’ driveway.