“No one’s making me join anything,” Luke said. “It’s just a welcoming place and it’s nice to have something like that in a town like this.”
He had admitted to restlessness, had sworn that he loved her completely and this new urge to search out a greater purpose had nothing to do with her.
“You think I don’t know how it is?” Destiny waved the T-shirt like a banner. “They draw you in with the handshakes and hugs and everyone’s got those clear eyes and gentle smiles. And they ask how was your week and what is Jesus doing in your life and how can I walk alongside you and then they feed you muffins and coffee and potluck suppers and never let you go.”
Luke held up his hands. “Slow down there, girl. How is it a bad thing when people want to share each other’s thorns and roses?”
Destiny threw his clarifying shampoo like a missile. The bottle splat on the driveway. White and creamy, the shampoo ran like spilled milk but no crying, she thought. No crying over spilled milk and no spilling tears into the water running under the bridge.
“Babe,” Luke said. “Please.” He picked at his beard, a nervous gesture she could soothe with a touch. He needed to trim it now that his pirate gig was done. “I’m not trying to be like anyone, not trying to do anything except . . . be better at things. I want to be better for you, Dez. So let me in. Please.”
No. If she unlocked that gate, he would take her in his arms and she would be as lost as he was. Destiny could not allow that. She had to hold onto the anger so she could seal her resolve.
“They told you,” she said, swallowing tears. “They told you it’s sinful to fornicate outside of marriage. And you–the most wonderful of fornicators–took the bait.”
“No one told me that.”
“Jesus told you that. That’s what you said. No sex.” Destiny grabbed his favorite pair of boots, flung them at him. Though he was big as a bear, Luke was nimble as a cat and ducked with ease.
“He–or I guess it’s the Holy Spirit talking–said if I loved you, I’d honor your spirit instead of using your body.”
“Love means withholding love?”
“Love means placing your needs above my own.” His voice echoed off the hillside. Getting loud now. Good. She was finally getting through.
“So cliché, Luke. What’s next? You had me at hello?” “I want to do right by you.”
“What if I tell you I need you?” Destiny’s voice caught in her throat on the truth of it. She needed to feel the pulse in his neck and smell the tang on his skin from his lemon soap. To feel his chest rise as he breathed. She knew every breath he took. The deep sighs when he was tired, the measured panting of a heavy workout, the steady, deep breathing when he held her close.
His size and strength had never scared her. Controlled chaos, his stunt-buddies called him. Perfectly choreographed until it was time to do the impossible. Destiny dug her fingernails into the railing. “Just go.”
Excerpted from To Know You by Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel. Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved. Published by Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.