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Scarlett packed her last box into the bonnet of her car and slammed it down hoping she wouldn’t change her mind at this last minute. The sun shining down on her reminded her that this period would have been her wedding but things had changed. She remembered going to see Gabe about two days ago in prison after testifying in court when Josh insisted that she should. She didn’t want to but she had to after she had been summoned.

Her mind flashed back to the conversation they had two days ago and how she felt completely responsible and guilty for the whole ordeal. When she sat down opposite him in the orange ward uniform, she tried not to cry. If she hadn’t cheated, he wouldn’t be here behind bars.

“hi.’’ She had greeted first

“hi’’

‘’I’m sorry about this…, about everything.’’

He was quiet.

“how are you faring?’’

‘’you should know. At least your boyfriend should be able to give you feedback on how well I’d be faring when he sent me to a place like this.’’

“Gabe…’’

“I shouldn’t have hit you.’’ he sobered. ‘’and I’m sorry I let my anger take over me. I almost killed you and your baby. That innocent soul who I bet and pray is nothing like you.’’

Scarlett felt slapped in the face by that statement. ‘’I didn’t mean for any of this to happen.’’

“me neither but it has and we have to move on.’’

“I ask you to forgive me Gabe. I did you wrong and I’m sorry. I cheated on you and made you lose your job and so much more.’’

“that still isn’t an excuse for my violent act against you.’’ he paused and looked into her eyes. ‘’I’ve been referred to a psychiatrist and I’ll be checking in tomorrow.’’

She nodded. She knew about this already.

His hands went to his face and he held back the tears. ‘’I can’t believe I let you go so easily. I loved you Scarlett and you know I’d give anything for you but you just ripped my heart out and kept crushing it anytime I saw you with that Josh guy. Tell me what he had that I didn’t.’’

She inhaled deeply and repeated. ‘’I’m sorry.’’

She had left after they escorted him back to the cell and knew nothing was ever going to make her go back to that prison ever again.

In due time, he would be released and she hoped they never crossed paths.

Her colleague Mr. Chase had also apologized when she came over to the school to hand over her resignation letter and pack her things. He had confessed to be responsible for revealing her affair with Josh when he noticed. He apologized it was out of jealousy he snitched to Gabe and she could only thank and forgive him.

At least, that had led to the wake up call.

Rea’s voice disrupted her thoughts and she turned to see her bringing Bernie outside.

“I wish I could convince you not to leave, but I know you have to.’’

She nodded and tried not to cry. Instead she opened the door for her dog and watched him leap inside.

‘’don’t forget to keep calling.’’

“I wont.’’ She forced a smile and pulled Rea closer holding her tightly and kissing her briefly.

“I love you.’’ Scarlett mumbled finally when they released each other.

“I love you too.’’

“I don’t have the heart to tell Sue myself but please tell her for me. I hope Josh can make Gavin understand.’’

“with time, they both will.’’

Scarlett smiled again when her eyes strolled to her friend’s finger. “I’m so happy for you that Ryan finally proposed.’’

Rea’s eyes turned misty. ‘’things will work out for you Scarlett. Just have faith in God. We’re humans and that’s why we make mistakes.’’

“I guess so.’’ She threw on her shades and touched her friend’s cheeks. ‘’Call me for your wedding. Now that’s one thing I don’t wanna miss.’’

“in five months time.’’ Rea grinned like a child and Scarlett knew she had found her second half in Ryan. ‘’I wish you would reconsider being my chief bridesmaid Scarlett….’’

She shook her head. ‘’you and I both know that by the time you’ll be getting married, I’ll be looking like a balloon and my baby blip will be so conspicuous by that time. It’d be awkward of me to stand beside you in Church.’’

“God sees your heart…’’

“but not everyone is like God.’’ She smiled and leaned closer to kiss her cheeks. “I’ll call you when I get home.’’

“greet Mum and Dad.’’

“I will.’’

She leaned closer to Bernie and rubbed his head fondly hoping she wouldn’t miss him as much as she would miss Scarlett.

That would be double torture in a huge house like hers.

She waved at her friend and watched her drive off till she was out of sight hoping she could find sweet solace and be ready to forgive herself after settling down at home.

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Scarlett watched Rea through her side mirror as she drove hoping she wouldn’t fall apart or rather change her mind and reverse. She didn’t realize how much she had missed Rea for those ten years she left Naperville and seeing her again had made her realize the power of friendship.

But she had ruined everything due to her foolishness.

Her mind flashed to Gavin and she wished there was a good explanation to give the boy before leaving. She thought about Josh and how much they’d shared, how she had given him her all and how he’d make her return back to square one.

She was leaving again.

She remembered how he’d pleaded with her to stay and how he would do anything to make her stay but she had remained adamant. Yes, she had to! She had been forgiven and she had to sit up and do as God would want her to.

She couldn’t let his Grace waste upon her life like Paul had said.

She thought of her baby blip and inhaled deeply. Two months were gone now and she still looked normal. In about four to five months more, she would be looking pregnant.

And then she would be a single mum.

“oh God.’’ She prayed as the tears strolled down. ‘’I know I did wrong and I’m sorry. But please tell me where to go from here cos I feel so lost and helpless. I don’t even know where to start and I’d appreciate you taking the wheels of my life right now.’’

Not long after, she felt a certain calmness come over her spirit as she drove and she was grateful for the presence of God that had suddenly filled her being making the fear of everything jump out of the window all at once.

She wasn’t afraid anymore.

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When Scarlett drove right in front of her parent’s house, she prayed once more before getting down and stared at the door wondering if her parents were even home at that time.

She stepped out of the car and tucked her hair behind her ears absent minded moving slowly towards the door.

“Scarlett?’’ she heard her mum’s voice behind her

She turned immediately and saw the older woman carrying two bags of groceries in hand and looking at her awkwardly through her glasses.

“Mum?’’

“come here and help me with these will you?’’ there was a bantering tone in her voice and a smile that was so welcoming she hurriedly lifted the bags off her hands and headed into the house through the back door.

“my God!’’ she sighed exhaustively and shook her head once they stepped into the kitchen and Scarlett started unpacking the cereals, fruits and ingredients her mother had brought home. ‘’if you know the number of places I visited today before going to the store, you would think I was doing more than just horticulture.’’ She laughed and helped herself to a bottle of water from the fridge while Scarlett stood watching her.

‘’how are you?’’

“I’m doing great.’’ She smiled briefly and looked at Scarlett in the eyes. ‘’I should be asking you that same question.’’

‘’I’ll be fine…, I guess.’’

Her mother didn’t take her eyes away from her. ‘’you mind talking about it?’’

‘’I don’t even know where to start from.’’

Alexandra nodded.

“how’s Dad?’’

“he’s doing great I suppose.’’

“How did he take the news?’’

“well, not quite well. You know your father. He’s not very tolerant about that kind of news but we agreed not to say anything till we hear your side of the story.’’

“ there’s nothing much to say…’’Scarlett looked away. ‘’I’m not that innocent myself.’’

Mrs Ruby sighed “I find it hard to believe you would Cheat on Gabe although I know you two haven’t been married yet but it’s just not in my baby to hurt other people’s feelings.’’

“I saw Josh.’’

She saw the shock in her mother’s face but she remained quiet.

“I almost moved in with him since I had some of my things in his place and I spent my weekends there.’’

Alex closed her eyes painfully as her daughter continued. ‘’I had sex with him. not once, not twice.’’ Scarlett allowed her news to sink in before she spilled the final news. ‘’and I’m carrying his baby.’’

Her mother looked pale and raised her hands to her mouth. She removed her glasses and settled weakly on the wicker chair. She wished her daughter will burst out laughing that it was all a joke but the look on her face made her realize it was as real as it could get.

“I’m sorry I disappointed you.’’ her eyes rimmed with tears. ‘’and Dad. I’m sorry that I let all your efforts to make me forget Josh turn useless and I’m sorry about Gabe. I don’t know what his parents would have told you but I’m not innocent either. I just want you to know all this so that I can know if you want me to leave or go someplace else.’’

“you’re not going anywhere baby.’’ Alex stood up immediately to hug her daughter and Scarlett melted into her. This was what she needed right now. This was what she had been afraid to spill when driving.

She had pondered on where to stay if she wasn’t allowed to stay here and prayed God would intervene.

She suddenly saw herself as the Prodigal daughter and she was glad God had a hand in her mother taking her back.

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When Scarlett woke up the next morning, she was hungry and stood up from the bed stretching while looking around.

Her room was still looking like a princess’s castle just the way her parents had adorned it before she went to college and finally moved out and she suddenly missed her childhood.

Not wanting to bask in the past, she pulled on her fluffy slipper and hurried downstairs just to see her Father in the kitchen serving himself a cup of coffee while looking at the morning paper. She hadn’t seen him before going to bed yesterday and now that she saw him, he suddenly looked older to her. the wrinkles on his face and his grey hair that displayed themselves gloriously on his temples and on some other areas of his hair.

Even in Jeans and T shirt, he still looked good and handsome and at that moment, she knew she wanted to have what her parents had. 26years of marriage and they were still together. she was their only child and he was content. All his years, she had never heard her mother complain that he cheated on her, he treated her well and respected her. if she ever heard them quarrel or disagree, it was in the solace of their bedroom and soon they were together, smooching and acting like they couldn’t do without each other.

But she didn’t think she had started well and she hoped she still had the chance to right her wrongs.

Even if she was a single mother, she hoped she would find a man that was godly and just like her father.

“Goodmorning Dad.’’

He turned to look at her and smiled. ‘’hey kiddo.’’

That smile made her come closer and embrace him. ‘’I miss you.’’

‘’I miss you too pumpkin.’’

“I’m sorry.’’

“hey, it’s okay.’’ He kissed her hair and bent to plant another one close to her lips. Same old Dad. He never stopped doing that. It was like a special bond between them and that was like ‘a welcome greeting’ that she could stay.

She knew her mother would have talked to him and inwardly she was grateful.

‘’coffee?’’

She grimaced.

‘’oh, I’m sorry. I almost forgot.’’ He dropped his paper and coffee mug and went over to pour her a glass of milk.

‘’thanks.’’ She gulped down the glass and helped herself to the cookie jar. ‘’I’m pretty hungry.’’ She laughed when her father’s eyebrows shot up at the way she gulped down the whole glass of milk.

“let me make you breakfast then.’’

She settled down and kept munching her cookies. ‘’where’s mum?’’

“early morning personal devotion and jogging.’’

She nodded silently remembering her mother’s habit and knew she would have to develop that habit soon herself.

“that big guy of yours is amazing. He acts like he’s known us years before now.’’

“you mean Bernie?’’

“yep. How long have you had him?’’

“just two years.’’

“you sure know how to pick animals.’’Her father passed her a plate of waffles and poured her another glass of milk.

“thanks.’’

She dug into her waffles and ate to satisfaction before her father settled down before her.

“I wouldn’t be doing my duty as your father if I pretend like everything’s okay when it isn’t.’’ he began looking into her eyes. ‘’but I wont judge you. I know you made a poor decision in life but and you’ve realized your mistakes, but I want to ask you is what next?’’

Scarlett bit her lip. She knew that was why her mother had left earlier than usual, So that they can have a heart to heart chat.

“well, I came back home because I needed to find God. I’ve gone so far away from God like David did and I need to know what he’s saying to me. what he wants me to do and I need to rededicate my life to him afresh.’’

‘’okay.’’

She shrugged. ‘’I guess that’s the major aspect of me coming home.’’

“and Josh?’’

She looked away. ‘’he’s in my past.’’

“he’s the father of your baby. Are you ready to be a single mother?’’

“he proposed but I refused. I did wrong in the first place. Getting married to him would make things worse. I told him he needed to find God.’’

“and if he comes here looking for you?’’

“he wont. I told him not to.’’

“how far gone are you?’’

‘’two months.’’

‘’what about your job?’’

Scarlett grew sad. ‘’God will work something out for me. I blew the first one. I’m thinking of sending out my CV once more but how many schools would want to employ an unwed pregnant woman?’’

“you don’t look it…’’

“well for now I don’t but just wait till my fifth or sixth month and I’ll be looking like an elephant.’’

“well, I talked to Mr. Becker this morning if you could work for him again for the main time and he was more than willing to let you back. He even insisted he would pay you double of what he was paying you before you left. I guess he was scared you left because he couldn’t afford you.’’

Scarlett’s eyes widened. ‘’you did that for me?’’

“just the little I could do.’’

“oh Dad, you don’t know how much this means to me.’’ she knew the baby was responsible for her getting all mushy and she stood up to hug her father. ‘’ I love you so much.’’

‘’I love you too sweetheart.’’ He rubbed her back fondly.

She settled on his leg gently and looked into his eyes. ‘’you know the kind of man I always dreamed getting married to?’’

He smiled. ‘’I think I do.’’

They laughed together and she embraced him again. ‘’it’s someone who’s just like you Daddy. Exactly like you. who loves God and loves his family and receives me like the prodigal daughter that I am.’’ She wept into his neck.

“shhh..its okay sweetie. If Jesus can receive you, who am I to reject you?’’

She released him and wiped her face with her hands. ‘’will you help me get back on track with God? I think I lost my way a long time ago…’’

‘’I’m the best coach you could ever have kiddo!’’ he lifted her on her feet feigning a strict voice ‘’now go upstairs and clean up. Bible study starts now.’’

She giggled and rushed upstairs thanking God once more.

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