Harper hopped in her little Honda, and Blaise followed her back to the house in his truck. He waited till she had successfully opened her door, then with a wave he was gone. The smile she left him with faded as she closed the door and leaned back against it. She took a long, deep breath. The laughter had been good; but now that it was done, the embarrassment descended—not just the embarrassment in front of the other diners, but in front of Blaise. Did he know what she was fighting in her heart? Did he sense the surprise in her voice, or did he just hear it as a factual misunderstanding—that he was not indeed celibate? She wasn’t sure . . . and that was going to drive her nuts!
She peeled herself from the door and walked into the kitchen, grabbed a mug and a teabag from the cupboard, and set the kettle to boil. She sat down at her breakfast table; then one by one, she retraced the moments—from her first meeting in the bookstore to tonight’s dinner. She had felt safe to get close because in her mind he was unavailable, and that made her feel less vulnerable. She could just enjoy a growing relationship with another man with no romantic strings attached.
But what now?
She had to admit finally that her feelings for Blaise had grown far beyond a platonic friendship. She grilled herself whether she had led him in a particular direction. She didn’t think so, given the fog she had been living in. Had he been interested in her at all—as a woman? She didn’t think so because his passions seemed to be totally in planting a faith community. But the fears rushed in. If she gave in to the attraction, she would feel that in some way she was betraying her love for Graham. But she had been depressed and lonely for so long that the companionship of a man, whom she had deemed safe, had fed a deep place in her that she assumed had withered. The long winter of her soul had sapped all life and vitality from her, including not only her trust in people, but also her trust in God. And Blaise’s godly and animated presence in her life had changed all that—not all at once, but bit by bit. She didn’t really know how much he had changed her life until tonight.
And yet . . .
The kettle whistled a long time. Harper went over to the stove and turned it off without pouring her tea. She returned to the table and just stared out the window. Clutch, who typically at this time of night was dead to the world, painfully and slowly raised himself up to come over and nudge her arm. The screaming kettle had probably wakened him. She buried her face in his coat and gave him a long hug and pat down. “It’s just you and me, boy,” she whispered into his ear. Tears ran down her cheeks and into his rough. “Together forever . . . okay, that’s stupid. Sounds like a greeting card. But we are together, and that will be enough.”
In that moment, she knew what to do. She knew that the rich friendship with Blaise was worth sacrificing for. If she wanted more than that and it was not mutual, she would risk losing a friend. From what she could tell, Blaise’s first love was Christ, and she would be foolish to think his heart had a place for a human romance, especially with a melancholy person like her. She did feel their friendship was special, but it was probably not that much different than the passionate love he had for all God’s people.
She sat up abruptly, wiped the tears away with the back of her hands, and announced to the four walls in the room: “I commit myself to singleness. I commit myself to trusting God again. I will not be ruled by need. I will guard my heart . . . and guard this valuable friendship that has come into my life. That’s it. Done!”
And with that, she marched to the bedroom to get ready for bed.