“Dad, this is Melissa,” Troy said, wrapping his arm around Melissa’s waist and almost presenting her to his dad. “Melissa, this is my father, Jonathon Weller.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Weller.” Melissa stepped forward with her hand extended. Jonathan didn’t take her hand. She wondered if this is how Troy felt meeting her parents.
“What is she doing here?” Jonathon asked, glaring at Troy with wide angry eyes.
“I was just showing Melissa the home I’ve commissioned to be built.”
“If you were showing her your home, why are you outside with your eyes closed, in each other’s arms, kissing?”
Melissa had a difficult time not breaking into laughter. Jonathon had a good point.
“We… uh… got distracted.” Troy cleared his throat and glanced at Melissa, who finally lost her resolve and snickered, covering her laugh with a cough.
“This is why you are discouraged from courting,” Jonathon stated. “You should not be alone with this woman.”
“Dad, our general contractor and about six of his employees are in various rooms of this house. We are most definitely not alone.”
“You shouldn’t even be together,” Jonathon said.
“Why is that?” Troy folded his arms across his chest and took a protective step in front of Melissa, as if standing between her and the rest of the world, even if that meant standing up to his own father.
“She is not of our faith.” Jonathon’s statement was definitive, as if that explained everything.
“She is a Christian who loves the Lord, our God. How is that not of our faith?”
“She has not been baptized,” Troy’s dad said.
“Excuse me, Mr. Weller, but I was baptized when I was eight years old.” Melissa lifted her chin in defense. “By a man holding the Aaronic Priesthood.”
“Your priesthood is not valid in God’s eyes.” Jonathon didn’t back down.
“Why is that?” Melissa asked.
“You are Mormon,” Jonathon said.
“Mormon was a prophet who lived about sixteen hundred years ago,” Melissa said. “I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
“What does that mean?” Troy turned to Melissa with confusion in his eyes. “I thought you were a Mormon.”
“That’s a commonly used misnomer. A nickname if you will. The term actually was originally used in a derogatory way but has come to be more like a badge of honor.” Melissa was surprised Troy didn’t know this about her religion. “We believe in Jesus Christ. We believe that Christ took upon himself our sins and died on the cross and rose on the third day as a resurrected being. Jesus is my Savior just like he is your Savior.”
“Why Mormon?” Troy asked. “If that’s not the name of your church?”
“Because we read the Book of Mormon,” Melissa said. “It’s another testament of Jesus Christ, just like the Bible.”
“There is no other scripture besides the Bible,” Troy said, taking a step back. He bumped into his father, who seemed vindicated. There was almost underlying smirk. Troy looked confused. He stammered. “There is… no other… I need a minute.”
“Troy—” Melissa tried to hurry after him, but Troy’s father held up his hand and stood between her and the door.
“I think he’s made it clear that he needs a minute.” Jonathon folded his arms across his chest.
Book Club Discussion Questions: I had no idea the chapter was going to take this direction. No wonder I was having trouble writing it all evening! Now that this happened, I know exactly how tomorrow’s chapter will look. Now I need to go write it. So, did this surprise you as much as it surprised me?