"Now abide faith, hope, love, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.
(I Corinthians 13:13, I Corinthians 14:1)
You think you have this love thing figured out? Think again.
You think you know what it's all about? Think again.
You think it's about roses and taking her to dinner? Think again.
You think if you treat her nice, it makes you a winner. Think again.
You think it's just hand holding and sweet talk? Think again.
You think it's smooching, and going for a walk? Think again.
You think it's a big wedding, with lots of invitations and cake? Think again.
You think it's perfect with a honeymoon at a luxury island escape. Think again.
Think of a love so big, it can't fit in your heart,
but spills out all messy-like, off the chart.
Think of a love that runs so deep, you can drown,
chest deep, over your heart, over your crown.
Think of a love that's so full, it hurts real bad,
An ache even when happy, or whether you're sad.
Think of thinking of someone all the time
Whether you fret or think stuff sublime.
Think about dirty dishes and birthing a baby,
And keeping up with the bills, barely, maybe.
Think of how love doesn't take a day off.
love's not for weaklings, believe me, don't scoff.
So you think you have this love thing figured out? Think again.
You think you know what's it's all about? Think again.
It's kissing, and hugging and sticking around,
It's undying faithfulness in which blessings abound.
It's more than giving compliments and going on a date.
It's a choice to commit that makes it great.
It's everything including all of the above
It's not just a part, but giving all of your love.
From then on Emma could never miss him. It was like "Where's Waldo" with a straw cowboy hat in a sea of college guys in baseball caps. He especially stood out when she walked into her new semester class, Intro to Marriage and Family Therapy. His straw hat stood out like a sore thumb. There was something else she couldn't miss, his girlfriend walking him to class and kissing him on the cheek for all to see every single day.
Men! What right did he have to look at her the way he did while on the mower that day since he already had a girlfriend? Emma scorched him with a look after that whenever his eyes sought her out. Now if he glanced at her, it was only a quick stolen sideways glimpse at best.
Emma went to the big church just off campus, mainly because that's where her friends attended. A guy from her Intro to Marriage and Family Therapy class had begun hanging around her, introducing her to his buddies. He was a friendly type, nothing more. However before one service, Joel encouraged her to come sit with him and his friends. Before she knew it, she was sitting sandwiched between Joel and straw hat guy, minus the hat while in church, of course. His girlfriend leaned over him and gave her best plastic smile.
"Hi, my name is Lorna. This is my daddy's church. And this is my boyfriend Jed," she said while holding his arm in a death grip. "Isn't Joel the sweetest thing to invite you to sit in our pew. It's a good thing there is room today because it's usually far too crowded to squeeze in another soul."
"Thanks." There wasn't anything else to be said for such veiled rudeness. It was crowded enough, that was for sure, so crowded that her arm kept brushing straw hat cowboy's. It was enough to make her swallow hard. She had no idea why she had to blink tears out of her eyes as she sat stiffly between Jed and Joel. She never heard a word the pastor said that morning, but had to admit she'd enjoyed singing next to the young men. Their voices could rival any heard on the radio. But then during the pastoral prayer, he let his arm rest against hers in a most disconcerting manner. She opened her eyes to find him looking at her. He grinned while she glared before closing her eyes in prayer again. She could only pray, "Lord, help me!"
Emma tried never to look at him if she could help it. That worked until the teacher started routinely breaking the class up into discussion groups alphabetically. Of course, they were next to each other at their table. Eventually Emma relaxed, and their group laughed together as much as they discussed marriage and family topics. This straw hat guy Jed was really funny even about serious subjects. But he had a sly side that unsettled her.
That's when he started passing her notes. He would bump her knee then sneak her one under the table, put on a poker face and say, "What do you think? Does this describe what love ought to be, you know the kind we are to understand if we are ever going to qualify to do marriage counseling?" After that, all he said when he passed her another one was, "What about this one?"
At first she would crumple them in her fist, but she could not ignore them. She had to read them. Then she found she had to look up into his eyes. He always held a question beneath his arched brow and dark gaze.
"Have you noticed that most of the married couples on campus are ministerial students? I wonder why that is?" Emma threw it out there one afternoon as they were supposed to address the optimal age for dating, courtship, and how that affected marriage.
A heated conversation ensued. Finally, Jed said, "I'm a ministerial student, and I'm not married. Did I miss something? Is it a requirement for the major or something?"
"You're as good as engaged, Jed, so you still qualify," Joel, one of his friends said.
"I'm not engaged," he slunk down in his chair.
"As good as, I said. How long have you and Lorna been going together anyway? Didn't you start dating while you two were in kindergarten?"
"We were in high school, and we're not engaged," he groused.
Emma was sorry she had begun the subject and tried to quickly change it, but Jed's friend would not let up.
"No, really, you must be the poster boy for the longest on record for going with a girl without putting a ring on her finger. Isn't that a sign that maybe you're not that into her?"
Jed straightened up and glowered at his friend. "It's none of your business, Joel, so drop it."
It got painfully quiet for a minute.
"So you're a ministerial student?" Emma tried again to redirect the conversation. "Is that why you are taking this course?"
He looked at her as if she was challenging him then seemed to calm down. "I guess. It's just something I'm interested in. I wish someone could have counseled my parents before their divorce. Sometimes I think I'd rather do the counseling than preaching, and all that administrative and committee stuff. At least then I could set the hours and not be at everyone's beck and call."
"Why don't you go for your MFT? Becoming a pastor is a calling. I don't think many would choose that vocation just for the fun of it, that's for sure. In a certain sense, everyone is your boss. It's not an autocratic or even a democratic system. I mean, because of privacy laws, a parishioner can say whatever they want about you, throw dirt on you, but you can never defend yourself by revealing their dirt." Emma's brother-in-law was a pastor having a rough time of it with slander right now, and it rankled her. Her sister had confided that he was considering leaving the ministry.
"When did you know you were going to be a pastor?" someone else asked casually.
"I guess I kind of grew into it since my youth pastor, my pastor, and my girlfriend always assumed I would be one since I've been a ministry leader in our church since high school.
That's not a calling!" Emma's mouth had dropped open, and she couldn't seem to shut it now. "That's expectation. It will only set you up for disappointment and dissatisfaction."
Jed leaned forward on his elbows and searched her face to see if she was ridiculing him. "Yeah, you're probably right. I think that's why I'm exploring a MFT instead of going on to seminary, but I haven't admitted it to myself before now." He sighed. "It will let a lot of people down if I change career goals."
"Better now than later, Jed," his friend said. "But I wouldn't want to be around when you tell your girlfriend. She has her heart set on being a little pastor's wife."
The teacher had been walking around the room listening in to the discussions and now stopped at their table. "This is good. This is the kind of life-changing discussion guidance that is vital. Good work, team. Keep going."
Jed didn't appear to be enjoying sitting in the hot seat very much though. "I appreciate all your concern," he said sarcastically, "but can we move on to something or someone else now?"
Emma decided to let others carry the discussion forward and sat back and tried to listen, but all she could think of was Jed's misery as he had talked. When class was over, she put her hand on his arm before he could get up.
"I'm sorry if it seemed as if I was attacking you. It wasn't my intention." He had a way of searching her face that brought a warmth up from a tightness in her chest.
"There you are! I've been waiting while two are sitting here all cozy talking." His girlfriend had chosen to walk in at that minute and was putting on a pretty pout.
Jed, glanced up then looked back at Emma. "No offense taken. I think you said what I needed to hear. Thanks."
His girlfriend bristled. "What could she ever have said that you needed to hear, Jed? That's ridiculous!" She glared at Emma. Emma realized her hand was still on Jed's arm and let go.
"I'll tell you later, Lorna," he said with a grimace.
"I think not. I demand to know what business she has saying anything to you. You have to tell me right now."
He looked so aggrieved that it caused Emma's heart to hurt. "Okay then, I realized I'm not called to be a pastor, if you really want to know. I'm not suited to be a pastor. I don't want to be a pastor. I'm considering going into counseling instead."
"What!" The woman practically screamed. "Of course you're going to be a pastor. Everyone knows that." Then she pointed a finger at Emma, "How dare she say otherwise. She's nothing to you. What you do is none of her business."
"Everyone seems to know what I'm supposed to do, but me. I'm finally realizing I'd better listen to God before y'all," Jed said through gritted teeth as he stood to leave. Emma was standing also, hesitating, not wanting to walk by the angry woman. They were the only ones left in the classroom.
"You're going to let that hussy tell you what to think? Think again!" The girlfriend was practically frothing at the mouth.
"That's enough, Lorna!" Jed was trying his best to control his anger, but before he could blink, his girlfriend slapped Emma hard on the cheek. Really hard. The sound of flesh hitting flesh was sickening.
He grabbed his girlfriend's arm. "You have to leave, NOW!" He led her out the door before turning to Emma. "I can't tell you how sorry I am about that."
Several who had gathered outside the door poked their heads in after hearing the commotion. It was the slap heard 'round the department.
"Wow, she left her handprint on your face. You'd better get ice on that." Jed's friend Joel had come back in. "Are you okay? That was so uncalled for." One of the girls in their discussion group ran off to find an ice pack. He frowned and went on, "Frankly, Lorna is jealous because she can feel Jed pulling away and evidently took it out on you. I guess I shouldn't have heckled him today about her, but I hope this opens his eyes now. She's had him under her thumb for too long."
Emma's eyes were still smarting. She blinked hard not wanting to give into tears and could still feel the tingles where she'd been slapped.
"You could file assault charges against her," the teacher said who had rushed back into the classroom after hearing of the hullabaloo and examined Emma's face.
"No, it's over. I don't want to drag it out. Thanks for your concern though." Even her jaw hurt to talk.
"Well, I'll have to report it. I can't let it go unaddressed," the professor said. "She'll have to at least be put on probation after this."
Jed's friend appointed himself as her escort as she walked towards the parking lot. Emma could only think about leaving the campus and retreating to her apartment. "I'm okay. You don't need to walk with me any further."
But he kept her talking a few minutes more before they parted ways.
Emma made the rest of the way to her car, head down with her hair falling over her cheeks hoping no one else could see the mark on her face from the slap. When she got to her car, she finally looked up and saw him waiting. He picked his hat up off his head and ran his other hand through his hair.
"That was a giant wake-up call for me, but sorry it was at your expense. My girlfriend and I are done, stick-a-fork-in-it done. I just broke up with her. I've been thinking on it long and hard and praying for God to make it clear and today made it a no-brainer. I'd already made my decision but was just trying to figure out how to do it with the least drama, then today happened. He stepped up and stroked his finger down her cheek. "Sheesh, she hit you hard. That's going to leave a bruise. Are you going to report her? I'd back you up, you know."
"Thanks, but I won't. I don't know what the prof. will do though." She also wouldn't tell him how good his gentle touch on her face made her feel.
He lifted her chin so he could gaze into her eyes. I began thinking about breaking up with her when I saw you that first time. There was something about you that sure caught my attention. Honestly, I'd never looked at someone else before, and got busted by that bush."
Emma laughed remembering. "Yeah, well, when I found out you had a girlfriend, I wasn't impressed and was thinking you got what you deserved running into the hedge like that. It was your come-up-ins. And then your poetry started..."
His look became tender. "I am so sorry Lorna did that to you. I've seen her anger before, but not anything like that. It made my decision easy, that's for sure, even though I'd been dancing around it for awhile."
"I bet she'd be plenty mad at you now, especially if she sees you talking to me here."
"I don't care if she does see me, as long as she leaves you alone from now on. I realized that day I first saw you that maybe I wasn't all that into my girlfriend after all, just like my friend said today. He's been after me to end it for awhile now. It's just that my ex-girlfriend and I have a long history, and I had to be sure. Our high school crush walked out the door a long time ago, but I was too thick to realize it. You can't imagine how relieved I am, not just about her, but about admitting God hasn't called me into pastoral ministry. It was like God was saying, 'Think again.'"
"Wow, that's two huge steps." Emma's heart had been beating hard since the slap, but even more so now with the way he was looking at her.
"I'd like to take one more giant step," he said as he took an obviously nervous deep breath. "I'd like to ask if I can see you, you know, get to know you better, Emma. You don't know how hard it has been to sit by you in class and not look at you or so much as brush up against you or touch you."
She wanted so badly to say that she'd like that too, but found herself saying, "Maybe it's too soon. You might need a little time to be single first, you know, to hang out with your friends, do guy stuff." She was giving him a way out.
"What if I don't want more time. What if I only want to see you." His eyes were soaking her up. "How about if we at least go grab something to eat?"
"That's what I was hoping." He was grinning at her in a big heart-stopping manner.
But her heart sank. "I can't. I'm meeting someone else right now." Emma was kicking herself for telling Joel that she'd meet at the Burger Shack."
Jed turned around and was raking his hand through his hair again. "I didn't think," he turned back to her again, "I mean I've never seen you with someone else. I should have realized..."
Emma wanted to blurt out that she was just going out with his buddy, but bit her tongue knowing that wouldn't sit well. She didn't want to come between two friends. She'd just caused him enough problems as it was. But it had been over a year since she had gone out on a date, and longer since she'd lost her heart. Now when she really wanted to go out with him, she couldn't. She kicked herself for agreeing to meeting Joel. She was sure he was just being nice after what had happened in class, that he hadn't meant for it to mean more than that. At least she hoped not.
"Well, I'll guess I'll see you around then." Jed just tipped his hat to her and walked away.
Jed walked away as devastated as he'd ever been since he was a kid. He was sure Emma had felt that certain something between them like he had. He hadn't tried to attract a girl since a junior high eighth grade dance. Lorna actually chased him in high school and had not let go, that is until he pried her claws off him today for the last time.
The next day he was taking his frustrations out on the job as he was doing the campus lawn care. After dumping the grass catcher's fullness into the dumpster, Jed had climbed up on top of his mower's seat and stepped into the huge bin of grass clippings and pruned branches to stomp it down as he was supposed to do, like he had done so many times before. But giving vent to his feelings, he did it a little too vigorously, until the next thing he knew it had tipped over landing him sprawled out in a mess of cut grass and twigs. He heard a giggle, and looked over to see Emma with her hand over her mouth trying her best not to laugh at him, but failing.
"Guess I'll see you a little later in class then," he called as she was walking away." At least she looked back over her shoulder and gave him a timid smile.
Back in their Intro to Marriage and Family Therapy Class, the small group discussion had been about how culture influences the dating expectations. Emma brought up a book she'd read called, "What Our Mother's Didn't Tell Us."
She didn't even glance at the note he gave her today, didn't even crush it, but left it lying on her lap untouched.
Then there was the cost of a wedding. Neither he nor his parents could ever afford the wedding Lorna would want. If her family had to pay for it all, he'd never hear the end of it. It was just one more reason he had been dragging his feet.
Then he looked at Emma as the class was over, and she was reading his note. He watched as the blush rose from the heat on her neck up to making her cheeks as rosy as a sunburn. She looked up at him with lips parted, lips he wanted to kiss in the worst way.
Lorna's main attraction had been the way things had fallen into a comfortable rut. Everyone seemed to make decisions for him. They had even arranged scholarships for him that had helped him to be able to afford to go to college. But this was no way to have a relationship. He saw it now for the unhealthy thing it was. It sickened him to see how weak he'd become under their strong personalities, especially as Lorna kept pushing him into a mold that made him feel trapped.
The look in her eyes after Lorna slapped her, the shock and hurt was seared into his brain. It was all he could do not to shove Lorna away. No wonder Emma needed distance from him. He'd shown himself to have a wandering eye when he had looked at her that day. And those poems! He was an idiot. But there had been an instant connection, a connection he should not have had when he already had a girlfriend, a girlfriend he had never truly desired. He had not known what desire was until he saw Emma.
It was just a whisper, but it made him smile from his toes to the pit of his stomach, squeezing his heart until it burned clear up to his face lighting his smile on fire. Until she kept talking...
"Well, actually, I need to tell you that I was sort of in love before."
"How can you be sort of be in love?"
"It was the summer after I graduated from high school. He was an older guy in my church and was obviously looking for a wife. He kept telling me he loved me, and I think maybe I was beginning to be, I don't know, perhaps, but I couldn't say it. Then it was over. He was killed instantly in a car crash, and I never had told him that I loved him. It made me feel so badly I decided then and there, if I ever fell in love, that I would not hesitate. I would say it. Time doesn't wait."
He held her hand up to his lips knowing he'd better not get carried away kissing her lest he scare her away. It was enough to know that she'd felt it too."
"Thanks for seeing me tonight. For talking to me. Telling me this stuff. Does this mean you're not seeing someone else then like I feared?"
"There's no one else." She hesitated but felt she wanted him to hear it from her before Joel told him and went on to say, "I had agreed to meet with your friend Joel yesterday. It wasn't a date or anything. He just was concerned..."
A jolt as fierce as lightning struck him with a hot stab of jealousy. Jed found himself crushing his hat in his hands scowling until he found her hand on his arm. Just her touch was enough to tame him back into civility.
"It was nothing like that, Jed. Believe me. I'm sorry if I led you to think there was someone else. I just didn't know what to say. He mostly talked about you and how he thought we belonged together, and then when you called..."
But then she was grinning. "Oh, and there was this one more love interest." He jerked his head up and tried to brace himself. She went on with a cute little smile on her face. "His name was J.C. and was as cute as all get out. He used to pick me to play on his empty lot baseball team. I had a bad crush on him and vowed I'd marry him someday..."
"Wait, where did you live:
"Oh, about twenty miles South of here in that little wide spot in the road with a gas station, diner, and a Piggly Wiggly. It was just called Junction 52."
Jed threw back his head and laughed and laughed until he was gasping. He could barely talk he laughed so hard. "Did I used to call you, Short Stuff?"
"Wait..." If Emma's eyes grew any bigger, she'd need toothpicks. Then she socked him in the arm. "It is you! I can't believe it. There was something familiar about you, but I'd never guess in a million years that you were my J.C."
Jed put his arm around her waist and pulled her closer until their shoulders were touching. He let the air held up in his chest whoosh out with relief. "Good. It's nice to know I won't have to beat up my best friend or somebody else named J.C. My dad's name was Jed too, so I was called J.C. to keep us straight. After he left, I went back to being called Jed." I guess we have known each other for a long time, huh," he said teasingly lightly bumping her shoulder. "So you thought I was cute, back then? I was your love interest? How about that." Her hand fit snugly in his, as their fingers became entwined together.
"Very cute and nice too. And you still are, but don't get a big head. You had no idea either? I still can't believe it's you. You used to always wear a Giants baseball cap. I remember your little brother too."
"Your sister was too prissy to play, and your brother was too little."
He decided to voice what was in his heart and mind. "So how does this work then, when you find yourself in love and don't want to be separated? How long do you have to wait to get married? I don't think it's easy to feel such a wild passion, to try to keep it corralled for very long before it breaks loose."
"Are you speaking hypothetically, like we do in a class discussion?"
"Think again." He let loose half a laugh from the tightness in his chest. "I think you know exactly what I mean. I know I'm not supposed to be saying these things yet, thinking these things, or feeling like this. I just want to be truthful with you."
He'd sucked all the breath out of her. She found herself white-knuckled squeezing the life out of his hand. Finally Emma managed to respond. "I think a couple like that needs at least a little time to think things through, the expectations, and to make plans on how to make it work. A relationship takes at least a little time I'm told to work all the kinks out."
"Expectations? Like what? How much time?"
"Well, to figure how they can they afford to live, eat, who's going to work, how to get insurance, and to figure how or if they can both finish school or even go on to a master's degree, like a MFT. Who'll be the first to say they're sorry after a fight, whether to play country music or listen to contemporary Christian music on the radio, whether to be a Giants fan or some other team..."
"Of course you're a Giants fan."
She grinned and nodded, then blushed, "Then there's always the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy that could make the best plans in the world all fly out the window."
"Is there a chance it could work though? Can desire grow practical legs? Is marriage possible?
"You hardly know me, Jed, other than the opinions I spout off in class and what I just told you. After we moved away across the state when I was nine, my dad's construction business really took off. You might say I grew up in an affluent happy Christian home, was homeschooled and raised by a stay-at-home mother. My father has been so blessed in his business that he set up a generous college fund for me. Actually, he bought this condo as an investment which doubles as my housing while at college. By the time I graduate, it will be ready for my brother to move in. They give me enough to budget carefully to live on. I don't want to give you the impression that I'm anything other than what I am. So you see, I'm a well kept woman," she joked.
"But you aren't flashy. You drive a modest car and live in a nice, but not a rich neighborhood. You don't dress fancy, I mean you always look great, it's not that. But you don't look or act, I don't know, spoiled, I guess. You're not worldly."
"My folks have raised us to know the hardships they grew up with and struggled with when they married very young. My dad has worked hard in construction. He gives all the glory to God for how his business has grown. We had to work as kids for any extras. The last thing they wanted to do was raise spoiled kids who thought money grew on trees or was ready to fly out of daddy's wallet."
"I had a tough upbringing since my mom was our sole supporter for most of my childhood. About the time I was in high school, she met a great guy in church, remarried, and our fortunes changed somewhat. My stepdad isn't rich, but he works hard. I can't complain, though I know what it is to go without."
"That's one thing I especially like about you, Jed, is that you appreciate what you have without seeming to covet more. You are a very real, upfront person without pretension."
"Well, there is something I do want desperately. So, is there any chance that we could get married soon, if I were to ask you?"
Emma gasped. "Jed Carson. You are impossible! You better think again. This is our first conversation since we became, I don't know, a couple. Aren't you rushing it..." But she was cut off.
He answered her with another kiss, one that left her head spinning even faster than the pounding of her heart. She suddenly realized that it wasn't something she'd ever want to live without, never, ever. Kissing him had just become as necessary as breathing. And then again, it was something that one thing could too easily lead to another. It wasn't something that could be put on the back burner to simmer. The heat threatened to boil over.
When he quit kissing her, he sat holding her for a long time. It felt just right. Except he said as he was rubbing his thumb over her hand, "I don't think it's a good thing to be sitting outside your apartment. It's too tempting. I just wanted you to know tonight where I stand. I want to be your man, Emma."
"You had me after that man versus bush incident on the mower," she smiled up at him, "even though the bush won. And then when that green bin chewed you up and spit you out with the grass cuttings, how could I resist?"
"Yep." He chuckled, "that's a sure fire way to catch a girl's attention. He traced his finger over her cheek again and gave a sigh of relief. "You don't know how happy you are making me, so happy that, I'd better leave before I do something stupid. Just think about it, Emma. We can talk more tomorrow, but I won't sleep much just thinking about you."
Instead, he called her as soon as he got back to his dorm and talked to her on the phone until the wee hours of the morning, getting to know her, figuring out how much it really cost for a couple to live on love. By the time he hung up, Jed already knew more about her than anyone else in the universe, and she, him.
At class the next day, he slipped her another poem, then held her hand under the table. She read it and gazed into his eyes. He made her feel so giddy it was ridiculous. She'd get her feet back on the ground soon enough, but for now she just enjoyed the dizzy flight of falling in love.
Afterwards he walked her to her car. "Want to grab something to eat? I can't afford a fancy restaurant, but I think I can swing a burger."
She smiled. "Tell me where to go and I'll follow."
He grinned, "I like the sound of that."
But before they could leave, a burst of cold air blew in with the storm called Lorna.
"Well, aren't you the perfect pair of lovebirds. I just thought you ought to know, Jed, that Daddy said he's not recommending renewing your scholarship the church has been paying you. He said you've broken the agreement he had with you that you would come work with him at the church when you graduated. He's seeing a lawyer about making you pay them back for all the money wasted on you now that you don't plan to be a pastor anymore. He's going back over the board minutes with a fine-toothed comb to find where it was spelled out what the scholarship was intended for."
"He knows good and well that there was nothing like that in writing."
"At the very least it's called expectations, a gentleman's agreement. But that's probably not something you'd understand. I'm glad that I finally saw the light. Too bad about her, unless she's trailer park trash just like you. I always had hoped for better things from you, Jed. You're a such great disappointment."
This time it was Jed squeezing her hand hard. As the cruel barbs were being thrown at him, Emma found herself standing shoulder to shoulder with him shaking with a barely contained fury.
Suddenly Emma swung him around and said, "Yes, I'll marry you, Jed Carson," and pulled him down into a bold kiss right there in front of a sputtering Lorna who growled like a wounded animal and stomped off.
"Truly, Emma? That wasn't just for show?"
"No, Jed. I just realized what you're made of. Gold. Pure Gold."
"How long do we have to wait then?"
Emma felt her face heat with a sudden shyness. "I don't know. I just realized I for sure wanted to marry you, I just haven't figured out the what, when, where, or how of it yet."
"Do you want a big wedding? If so, I guess we could wait till June. If not, maybe we could sneak away next week at Spring break. My stepfather has a cabin up in the mountains that isn't too far to drive to. We could get a license this afternoon, get married at the courthouse this coming Friday, go to the cabin and later have whatever kind of small ceremony you wanted after we get back and break the news to our families."
He wasn't kidding. He was dead serious. After all, she'd practically proposed to him right there in front of his ex-girlfriend. It wasn't very romantic of her, certainly not nice, but was as passionate a thing to do as she'd ever done in her life. She just had to wipe that nasty smirk off Lorna's face somehow. Emma realized she wanted to stand by this man's side no matter what.
"This weekend sounds good." She heard herself say it, but could hardly believe the words that had just come out of her mouth. It made her feel giddy, letting go of expectations and yielding completely to romance.
The joyous yell that Jed gave could be heard across the campus she was sure as he then hugged her and spun her around. "Well, God bless my soul, the lady said, 'Yes!'"
Emma didn't know if she was light headed from spinning around or at the idea that she'd just said yes to a quick wedding.
"I won't be able to afford a fancy ring or luxurious honeymoon, Emma, but we'll be too drunk on love, I hope, for it to matter much."
"The big wedding or diamonds don't impress me, Jed. It's a big heart that I'm after. A heart after God's own heart and after mine. That's all I care about."
"I think we'll set our Intro to Marriage and Family Therapy Class on its ear," he said laughing. "I know we'll have challenges, and hardship, and I don't know exactly how it will all work out, but I've felt God's goodness all through this thing we have between us, Emma. I was going to give you this in class tomorrow, but I'd like you to read it now." He pulled it out of his pocket.
She would have said more, but was cut off with his kisses promising much, much more than she could ever express.
A few days later, their courthouse "I do's" said it all. And it was the best Spring Break ever!