Saturday came, and Denise managed to
spend the night with Nancy, who was
already allowed to date. So Nancy’s mother
thought nothing of it when Mark and Jon
came to pick up the girls.
Denise had been sort ‘on edge’ all week, but
she didn’t think her family had noticed. At
least, no one acted suspicious. Everything
had worked out fine, Denise thought.
Nancy and Denise promised to be at Church,
and early enough for Sunday School, in
exchange for ‘sleep-over’ privileges. Doris
and Tom, Denise’s dad, had always insisted
on regular attendance. It was usually a drag
to Denise, but it was just one of those
things. Nancy’s mom didn’t go to Church
and never insisted that Nancy go. And she
was a good person! Better than some that
went all the time, Denise reasoned. But,
nevertheless, that was just part of it for her!
At she would get to be with Jon! And he
was just so sweet! And so exciting! And so
The foursome drove in Jon’s car to a larger
town nearby. They planned to catch a movie
and eat out. It was going to be such fun!
Jon asked mark to drive, to Denise’s
surprise and Mark had accepted without
But, in the back seat, Jon insisted that
Denise sit close to him. She wasn’t sure just
what she should do. What would Nancy and
Mark think, it being her first date with Jon?
But, Jon wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer
and she really wanted to be close to him
anyway! He slid his arm around her shoulder
and she felt so warm and dreamy. And he
smelled so good! He was funny, too, Denise
discovered, as he kept cracking jokes and
The movie was good, but a little
embarrassing. Some of the love scenes
were a little too much! Denise and Nancy
excused themselves to the restroom, once,
when it looked like a really crude scene
might be coming. Jon and Mark laughed at
them, as if they knew why they chose to
leave at just that moment.
After the movie, Jon insisted they go to a
nice restaurant as he was buying! So he
was a big spender, too! He didn’t have a job,
Denise realized, but she supposed he must
have a good allowance. His folks looked like
they could afford it!
It had been a really fun night and Denise
was ‘dreamy-eyed’ on the way home. She
wasn’t used to staying up so late at night.
And sitting so close to Jon in the darkness
of the car, his arm around her, Denise gave
in to the warmth of the moment, as she
leaned toward him and laid her head on his
chest, relaxing completely as she listened to
the regular, soft beat of his heart. It seemed
as if she had always known him, she
discovered, and loved him. As if they were
meant to be together, forever!
Eventually, the car pulled up in front of
Nancy’s house. The porch light was on.
Mark got out of the car, went around to the
passenger side and assisted Nancy out.
With a glance at the couple in the back
seat, he began to walk with Nancy to the
door of her house.
Jon leaned down, kissing Denise softly, then
again, as he held her closer and whispered
in her ear,”Babe, it’s been fun. I love being
with you. You’re so sweet. I don’t want to
“I know. I’ve had a good time, too.” Denise
said, sleepily. She didn’t want to leave the
warm circle of his arms, either. But, it was
time. She looked around and saw that Nancy
and Mark were already parting at the front
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Jon kissed her again, then reluctantly began
to climb out of the car and assisting Denise.
“When can I see you again?” Jon asked
anxiously. “How about if I call you in the
morning? Well,” he laughed softly, “I guess
it’s morning already, huh.”
“Oh, Nancy and I will be going to Church this
morning. We promised my mom. But then I’ll
be going back home. Maybe we can meet in
the backyard after lunch,” she suggested
hopefully. “Mom and Dad usually rest on
Sunday afternoons, and they don’t worry
much about what I’m doing,” Denise
“OK, I’ll plan on seeing you in the backyard,
then.” Jon replied softly, as Mark returned
to the car, passenger side, this time.
Denise hurried to the house as Jon drove
off. Looking back, she longed after Jon. This
was absolutely Heaven, she concluded.
Nancy and Denise didn’t get much sleep
that night. They talked and talked and
talked! Denise thought she had never been
so happy! Nancy and Mark had been ‘going
steady’ for about two months and everything
seemed to be going well for them. And Mark
and Jon seemed to get along so well.
Almost instant friends, Denise reflected.
Nancy encouraged Denise’s relationship with
Jon. She was busy planning all the things
they could do together as a foursome. That
way, it didn’t get boring, Nancy explained to
Denise. Mark was awfully sweet and usually
a lot of fun, but, sometimes, things got a
little dull, she confided.
The only dark cloud hanging over Denise
was the fact that she had to hide her joy
from her family and sneak around to be with
Jon. There had to be another way! And, yet,
she couldn’t imagine her mom and dad
approving her plans. Mom had already
judged Jon on the basis of rumor and found
him lacking! Oh, well, it would all work out
somehow. Things always did.
Denise and Nancy arrived at Church just as
Sunday School was starting. Roger
Thompson was the youth teacher. He was a
young guy, good-looking in an off-hand way,
Denise thought, and seemed very
knowledgeable. But, he was strange! He
acted as if he really believed what he was
teaching out of the Bible, as if it really
happened just as it was written. Denise
knew that the stories in the Bible were just
illustrations of good and bad moral behavior
At one time, Denise had believed it literally,
but she had been young. And Mom and Dad
had explained to her that it was very good
to be kind and loving and good, but people
went to Church in order to be respected and
admired. And it was good for Dad’s
business. In the Insurance business, her dad
explained, you have to be respected,
admired and trusted. Participating in Church,
community affairs and school functions built
trust. Denise had decided it made sense
and after all, Dad’s business was good and
he had many friends. But, they had
explained to her, you just can’t take the
Bible literally. Only fanatics do that. They
take things way too far, Dad had said.
I guess Mr. Thompson is a fanatic, Denise
thought. And it was a real shame, too.
Their lesson was I John, chapter 2 today.
They took turns reading two verses each, as
Mr. Thompson instructed. At Denise’s turn,
“Love not the world, neither the things that
are in the world. If any man love the world,
the love of the Father is not in him. For all
that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and
the pride of life is not of the Father, but is
of the world.”
It doesn’t even make sense, Denise thought,
trying to understand what it could mean.
How could you love the world, anyway? Oh
well, why worry about it, she decided. It
didn’t really mean anything anyway. Just
like some of the poetry that everybody
seemed to love, but was beyond her