End of the Age: Final Deception HTML version

Chapter 8
Going to her closet, Jesse flipped clothes hangers forward until stopping at a
black dress she had once worn to a funeral. The color matches my mood, she thought.
With all the excitement, she had agreed to the cookout, but now she wished she hadn’t.
Gabriel and Rachel would be together. She turned to look longingly at the bed. What
excuse could she give for crawling in and pulling the covers up over her head? She
wouldn’t lie and she couldn’t admit the truth. “Please, God,” she said. “Please help me
get through this without breaking down and crying in front of people.”
Sitting down on the bed, she bent forward, letting her head fall into her hands
before looking up to see the Bible on the nightstand. Turning to the page she had marked
the night before, she read the highlighted words. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake
thee.” She placed the Bible back on the nightstand. “I have to go,” she said aloud. “I’ll
have to face them eventually.” Hadn’t she learned that hoping and wishing never changed
anything? She couldn’t change the circumstances but she could change her attitude. She
would make the best of it.”
Applying lip-gloss and a spray of her favorite perfume, Jesse turned in the
mirror to inspect the free-flowing skirt and light summer top. The colors were bright and
cheerful. Now, all she had to do was smile and act natural. Act natural? Her body tensed
as she imagined seeing Gabriel and Rachel together as a couple for the first time. Act
natural might be better stated as maintain an appearance of composure without bursting
into tears.
Her grandmother was in the living room with Emma and Victoria when Jesse
walked in. “My, everyone looks lovely,” her grandmother said, looking around the circle
of women, “especially you, Jesse. That shade of blue is very pretty with your
Jesse managed a halfhearted smile. “Thanks, Grammy.”
As they crossed the backyard, her grandmother laced her arm through Jesse’s to
whisper, “I believe Gabriel will think you look pretty as well.”
If she and her grandmother had been alone, Jesse might have told her about
Gabriel and Rachel. Instead, she patted her grandmother’s arm. She would know soon
enough. As they neared the pond, Jesse was surprised to see so many people had already
arrived. Adults mingled while children ran and played. Several men stood around Gabriel
as he operated a massive grill at the corner of the clearing. In the distance, teenagers
tossed a football while another group played horseshoes. The atmosphere was warm and
festive. By the time she and her grandmother reached the rows of picnic tables, Jesse had
been introduced to more people than she could possibly remember.