NOTE FROM JULIE: If you haven't read the chapter where Jacob meets Maryam, I strongly suggest you read that first. When you're done reading this chapter, there is another link to the chapter immediately following this one. Warning: completely inappropriate (but hilarious) topic of conversation!
“Little brother,” Liam spoke from the doorway of Jacob’s stateroom. “I bought you a gift when we went ashore.”
Jacob looked up from his iPad where he’d been typing a blog post. He was determined to follow the example of his older brother, Nicholas, and keep a record of their travels. His infatuation with the captain’s lovely daughter was a welcome distraction from the monotony of travelling the open sea, but Maryam worked long hours and could only fit in a few stolen moments here and there.
Plus, after her mother had caught Maryam flirting with Jacob, she kept her daughter working on the opposite end of the yacht, so those stolen moments were few and far between. Jacob needed a distraction from his distraction. Maryam knew where to find him.
“What is your gift?” Jacob was always leery of Liam. He was usually up to some mischief and straddled the line between right and wrong, often leaning more on the side of wrong.
Liam tossed a box onto Jacob’s lap that resembled a nondescript box of medical supplies, perhaps latex gloves or gauze.
When Jacob read the packaging, he gasped and tossed the box onto the bed beside him with disgust as if just its presence on his lap would taint him.
“I figured a box of fifty would be sufficient for our trip across the ocean.” Liam laughed at Jacob’s reaction.
“What makes you think I would need even one condom, much less a box of fifty?” Jacob croaked out. “Take them back. I will never use them. Ever.”
“You’d be surprised how quickly never turns into right now,” Liam said. He walked over to Jacob’s bed and picked up the offensive little box. He turned to the bedside table, opened the drawer, and tucked the box inside. “Trust me, you don’t want to be compelled to get married.”
“I will not need them until I get married,” Jacob said through clenched teeth. “At which time I will no longer need them because I will be married. I don’t see the logic in even keeping them.”
“There is nothing logical about what your body experiences when in the arms of a beautiful woman.” Liam patted Jacob on the shoulder as he passed him on the way out the door. “Keep one with you and use it when the time comes. And believe me, the time will come sooner than later. I’ve seen the way you look at each other when you don’t think anyone's watching.”
“That’s absurd,” Jacob called after him.
“Keep one with you,” Liam called back.
Jacob hesitated a moment, then, curious, he walked over and sat on the edge of his bed. Against his better judgement, he opened the drawer and stared down at the box.
“I just wanna see what one looks like,” Jacob whispered to himself. Almost as an afterthought, he stood and hurried over to the door, closing and locking it.
With trepidation he walked cautiously back over and sat on his bed again. He hesitated then reached for the box and slid his finger along the edge to break the seal. The box popped open as if by its own free will revealing dozens of little grey packages hooked together in rows. He pulled one row of five from the box. Ten rows of five. He shoved the row back in the box and tried to close the lid. Now that they’d been released from confinement, they wouldn’t fit back in the box.
He pulled a row out again and detached one little grey package. The visible ring slipped around inside as if lubricated. He wrinkled his nose.
Jacob just wanted to see what it looked like inside. Sure, his father had told him years ago about the changes his body would go through during puberty, but the topic of protection was barely mentioned in passing. The message had been clear: wait until marriage. Period. End of story.
So why did two of his brothers wind up getting girls pregnant prior to marriage? Maybe there should have been less insistence and more education? Maybe Liam was right. Maybe Jacob should learn more and not be so afraid of a natural part of being a man and a woman. He was a man now, after all. Nineteen years old was a man.
Jacob ripped open the package and pulled out the slimy ring. He didn’t understand how this thing could protect him from anything. He tried to unroll it, but it slid through his fingers. Everything about the little ring was offensive and gross. Without further consideration, he tossed the condom in the garbage can beside his bed along with the empty wrapper, closed the box as best he could and shut the drawer to his bedside table. He shuddered as he rose from his bed and hurried over to the bathroom to wash his hands.
“I am never using one of those disgusting things,” he vowed to himself as he scrubbed his hands with soap and water. The words Liam had said echoed in her mind. You’d be surprised how quickly never turns into right now.