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Authors: Kristy K. James

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BOOK: A Fine Mess
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While Annie and her father were flitting back and forth between the kitchen and patio preparing supper and playing with Annie‘s dog, Jack, he was keeping his mother-in-law company. He was torn between wishing he was anywhere but there .and his misgivings about eventually having to bring the black lab home to live with them. That thought was actually more appealing than talking with Maddie right now.

 
Ian felt trapped in the family room with this woman who, today, was sporting a bright, lemon yellow caftan and
flowing
fuchsia scarf. Apparently she thought nothing of discussing subjects of a personal nature. Things that Annie’s husband should know about, but that he did not.

Like her love of candlelit bubble baths, something she’d adored since childhood. Ian nearly choked when Maddie asked if his bathtub was large enough for two.

Or wondering if she’d yet filched his razor to shave her legs.
Because she always preferred her father’s to any woman’s razor, for reasons only known to Annie. But if she hadn’t, Ian needed to be warned because his next shave could be a little rough.

“So- What was Annie like as a little girl?” he asked, desperate for something else to talk about. Maddie didn’t seem to find anything odd in the request. Instead, she lit up instantly and pointed to some photo albums on a nearby bookshelf.

“You can see for yourself,
The
first two are just baby photos. I think only Paul and I would be interested in those. But the next two are from when she was about four to eight. Would you like to look at them?”

No, he really would not, but didn’t have a lot of choice. Not when he had brought the subject up. Dutifully he retrieved the thick, heavy albums,
then
pulled his chair closer to hers.

“This is Annie’s first solo part in a Christmas program,” Maddie said with a tender smile. He wondered what the part might have been because the picture showed a small girl with her back to the camera, hands covering her ears.

“I don’t get it.”

“I’m not surprised,” she explained, her tone filled with pride. “The only thing Annie had to do that first year was to sing the first verse of ‘Away
In
a Manger.’ She did fine during all the rehearsals, sang loud and clear, but the night of the pageant, she must have gotten a case of stage fright.

“She saw that all the pews were filled and promptly turned around so she couldn’t see them. And when a few people laughed, she covered her ears as you can see.” Ian couldn’t help but smile at the image that brought to mind.

“I suppose she didn’t open her mouth, either.”

“Surprisingly enough, she did. She sang the verse at the top of her lungs, with her back to the congregation,
then
ran off stage. It was her first, and last, performance.”

“Poor kid,” Ian chuckled.

“It makes me wish we’d had video recorders back then.
Or at least one that you didn’t have to be rich to afford.
It was so cute!”

A few dozen pictures later and Maddie
was
talking about what a smart girl Annie had been.

“When she was six or seven we were sitting at the table eating supper when she asked, ‘How come Pastor Caldwell didn‘t tell us what God is?’ Paul and I looked at each other and didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. So I asked her what she meant.

“Apparently the only part of the sermon she’d picked up on that morning was when the pastor said that God was ‘just.’ She wanted to know why he hadn’t finished his sentence.” She laughed at the memory. “Paul was trying to hide the fact that he was laughing, so I had to explain that ‘just’ also meant righteous and fair. You
know,
we still lay in bed at night sometimes and giggle over that.”

Ian was about as bored as he’d ever been but, seeing that Maddie took such pleasure in the memories, played the adoring husband and tried to make all the appropriate responses. He was thankful when, after a few more minutes, she set the albums on the end table.

“Enough of that.
As long as Paul and Annie are taking, I guess I’ll just give you this now.” She reached for something beside her chair. When it appeared she couldn’t lift it, she looked to him for assistance. “Could you, please?”

Ian leaned over and grabbed a gift bag.
An obviously wedding themed gift bag.

“Don’t you want to give this to Annie?” he mumbled uncomfortably.

“No, Ian. I want to give it to you. Go ahead. Open it.”

This was probably going to be the first of many times that this charade was going to be hard to deal with. Still he reached in, parted the tissue paper, and pulled out a beautiful white-Bible. Maddie had given him a bible.

If he’d thought kitchens and cooking were foreign to him, they had nothing on this, He was sure he’d probably seen one a time or two during his lifetime. But it was a sure bet he’d never owned or touched one.

What was one supposed to do with a Bible received as a gift? Especially one that was very beautiful.
White with gold lettering.
Use it as a table decoration. Surely she didn’t intend for him to
read
it?

“It’s a family bible,” Maddie was saying. “Open the cover. See? We wrote your names and the date of your marriage. There are places to put babies' names and birthdays as they arrive.”

“That’s- Nice. It’s really
thoughtful
of you, Maddie. Thank you.” Ian managed what he hoped would pass for a smile.

“Maybe you’ll use it for your devotions together,” she suggested.
Devotions?
Now there was a term he was entirely unfamiliar with, though he wasn’t going to let her know that. He’d have to ask Annie later. When they were alone and he could breathe again.

“What a thoughtful idea,” he repeated, because he couldn’t think of anything else to say.

“Now I probably should warn you that Annie is twenty-seven.”

“I know that.” Relief washed over him when a subject he actually knew something about was raised. Maddie laughed.

“I know you know that. But what I was going to say was
,
she’s used to doing things her own way. Deep in her heart she knows you’re the head of your household and that she should be submissive to her husband, but it may take her awhile to get used to it. Be patient with her, okay?”

“Okay-” Submissive was a word he understood. And Christian wives were supposed to submit to their husbands? Ian smiled and nodded his head slightly. There was an idea he liked.

“There’s a wide line between being submissive and being a doormat,” the wife in question said sweetly, coming up behind him and wrapping her arms around his shoulders. “I’ll be sure to let you know if you cross it.”

“I’m sure you will, Sweetheart.”

“Supper is finally ready,” Annie informed them. “I hope you’re both hungry.”

 

~~~~

 

“So you’re supposed to be submissive to me? Is that what it says in your Bible?” Ian asked as they drove back to the apartment. Annie ground her teeth together wishing her mother had kept quiet about that particular subject.

“That’s what it says.”

“Does that mean only if you’re married to another Christian?” Annie wondered if teeth could actually shatter under great amounts of pressure.

“No.”

“So you have to do everything I say?”

“You know what?” she snapped, turning a resentful glare on him. He glanced over at her and didn’t seem the least bit perturbed by it. “This is a complicated issue. There’s more to it than just wanting a wife to obey you.”

“Really?
Such as?”

“I’m sure you don’t want to get into it right now.”

“Sure I do. Explain it to me.” Annie folded her arms across her chest irritably.

“Fine.
My
Bible also says that you’re supposed to love me like Christ loved the church. That means you’d have to be willing to lay your life down for me.”

“Does putting it on hold for five years count?”

“I don’t
think
so. It also says that you’re supposed to love me like you love yourself. That means you look out for my best interest,
not
yours. So you see
,
it’s not just about having the right to order me around.”

“What else does it say?”

“Ian, why don’t you just check it out for yourself? Mom’s going to be talking about the Bible a lot, because she always talks to everybody about it. She’ll figure out pretty quickly that you’re not a Christian and then she’ll make it her mission to get you saved. Trust
me,
it’ll be a whole lot easier on you to do a little reading. Maybe memorize a scripture or two.”

“You’re kidding, right?” he asked, seemingly aghast at the thought. “I thought I’d only be stuck going to church with you Sunday mornings.”

“I’m sure there
are
a lot of things neither one of us counted on having to deal with when we got married. I guess we’ll just have to deal with them as they come up. This came up so deal with it.”

Even as she said the words Annie knew she shouldn’t have been so waspish about it. A lot of men thought they’d struck gold with the submissive wife thing. And she suspected that, much as Ian seemed taken with the idea, he probably wouldn’t take too much advantage of it. He probably wouldn’t take advantage of it at all.

Then there was the fact that, strange as their marriage was, she was still a Christian wife. And she knew she was failing badly at it right now.

“Look, Ian. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have spoken to you like that.”

“It’s okay.”

“It’s just that there are men who equate submissiveness with slavery. And that’s not what God says. A wife is a helpmate, and she is supposed to be submissive to her husband, regardless of the circumstances.”

“So what does submissive mean, in biblical context?”

Annie sighed mightily and sincerely wished again her mother hadn’t opened this can of worms. Not when it was so hard to explain.

“Let me start by saying this,” she finally said, sighing again. “A husband is supposed to love, cherish, respect and protect his wife. If a husband treats his wife like that, then she’ll know that he has her best interests at heart and trust his decisions.

“Submission doesn’t mean that a wife doesn’t have the right to voice her opinion over important issues. But she knows the husband has the final say and trusts him to do what’s best for them both.”

She sure hoped she’d been able to explain the way God would have wanted her to, and not how
she
wanted it to be.

“What about in our case?” Ian asked, after several long moments.

“I don’t know. Much as I cringe at the thought, I suppose I’ll have to just trust that you won’t abuse your authority.”

Ian pulled the car into its assigned slot in the garage under the apartment building and turned to face her. His expression could only be described as confused.

“So you’re saying you’re prepared to be submissive to me?
Even though I’m not a Christian?”

“I suppose that’s what I’m saying,” she admitted reluctantly.

“Why?”

“One, because God told me I have to. And two- After what you’ve done for my family, Ian, I trust you.”

 

Chapter 5

BOOK: A Fine Mess
6.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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