Friday Sneak Peek – Destination Wedding

This week’s sneak peek is set in Hawaii! And for just $2.99 on Kindle or FREE on Kindle Unlimited, it’s a lot cheaper than a Hawaiian vacation. (Right?) Check it out!

Destination Wedding

 

ALOHA

~Eve~

Eve Miller woke up with a smile on her face.

Why? Because she was in Hawaii. Because she was in love. Because in three days, she would be married to Adam Pearson, the most brilliant, godliest man she’d ever met.

As she laid in bed and thought about this, she could hardly keep from squealing out loud.

Mrs. Adam Pearson. Eve Pearson. Mrs. Evie Pearson. Reverend and Mrs. Adam Pearson. Adam and Eve.

That last one always got a laugh or two, just like it had back on the day she’d met him.

It had been another Preview Weekend at the seminary, and while she’d had three midterms to study for in Hebrew, Greek, and Systematic Theology (seriously, what had she been thinking when she’d signed up for those classes in the same semester?), she’d put on her student recruiter smile and pinned on her name badge. Studying was important, but so was having enough money to pay for tuition. The pay she’d get for the hours she spent answering questions for prospective students would put her pay from her weekly job as a coordinator on the campus’s conference center into overtime hours.

A worker is worthy of his wages, and Eve Miller, with her seminary girl smile, was worth that overtime.

It had been a typical Preview Weekend. The other recruiters split the students into groups for the campus tour, for the trip to each department to talk through degree requirements, and to the library to discuss the partnership they shared with other seminaries across the world so that you could, theoretically, study the actual Dead Sea Scrolls when they made their pilgrimage through the States. (You couldn’t really study them. You could look at them from where they sat behind a temperature-controlled glass case, but you couldn’t actually break out your lexicon, let your fingers trail over the parchment, and study them. Eve never clarified this for the interested students.)

From there it had been back over to the conference center where one of the theology professors was on hand to deliver a lecture on the doctrine of election, using a passage from Ephesians as his text. There had been a problem with the sound system at the very beginning, and Eve, since she was a regular employee of the conference center, had gone on stage inconspicuously to adjust some things.

She felt strange up there, as if someone was watching her. When she dared to glance behind her, she caught him staring at her.

Him. One of the prospective students, dressed down in jeans, a sweatshirt emblazoned with the name of the local college, and disheveled hair, as if he’d just woken up that morning and stumbled onto the seminary campus.

He’d been staring at her.

And he had been obvious about it. He continued to stare at her as she looked at him, then as she turned back to the sound system.

Weirdo.

As she’d finally finished up making the adjustments to the system, the professor thanked her very simply. She nodded, and as she moved to leave the stage, she’d shot another glance over at the prospective student.

Still staring.

Weirdo. Hot weirdo, actually, as she’d gotten a better look at him and certainly liked what she saw.

But still. There’d he’d been, sitting there, staring at her.

She stood there for a second longer than necessary, staring right back at him, then had left the stage, blushing.

One of the other recruiters had raised his eyebrows at her as she joined them all at the back of the room, confused by her odd behavior. Eve was usually focused all the time, always on task, and never flustered or bothered.

Oh, well, she assured herself. The weirdo from the front row would go off to his group after the lecture, she’d go off with hers, and they’d never cross paths again.

Except, of course, they did.

The student center was only so big, after all, and there hadn’t been enough seats to accommodate everyone for lunch. Eve had anticipated this and had gotten her lunch, made her way outside to the porch, and had sat down, expecting that at least a few other students would do the same when they couldn’t find seats. She would be able to chat with them, still on the clock and all, and eat her lunch at the same time.

Sure enough, someone slid down next to her. She pasted that winning seminary girl smile on her face, ready to discuss degree plans, work study jobs, and student housing and had been rendered all but speechless when she turned and faced him.

Him. The hot weirdo from the Ephesians lecture.

“Hey,” he said, grinning at her. “Okay if I sit here?”

“Um…sure,” she managed, forcing the smile to remain on her face.

What had it been? She’d dated plenty of men before. Men right there at the seminary, godly men, all pursuing ministry careers, all of them just exactly right for her…

And boring. Wow, they’d all been boring. She’d resolved that being single would be far better than being married to a man who could bore her to oblivion, a man who she couldn’t feel attracted to no matter how hard she prayed it to be so.

But this man…

There was attraction, most definitely, as illogical as it was since she didn’t know him from Adam and all. And there was interest, already, even though he hadn’t spoken more than six words to her.

He was already the most interesting man she’d ever met.

Before she’d been able to open her mouth to begin any one of her various spiels on the finer points of this fine theological institution they found themselves at, his eyes were back on her.

“Adam,” he said, holding out his hand to her.

His name was Adam.

Well, of course it was.

“Eve,” she answered, grimacing just slightly, shaking his hand.

Then, he’d smiled. Oh, he liked that a lot. Adam and Eve. Ha, ha, ha.

“Great name,” he managed, going back to his lunch, still grinning.

She took a breath, determined not to look like an idiot who could only stare at him and not do her job as a recruiter and all.

“So, Adam,” she said, wiping her mouth with her napkin, “what do you think about the seminary so far?”

A safe question. A question she asked nearly every student she met at these things.

The responses ranged from overly enthusiastic to determined, students who had made up their minds about what was next, all but ready to go ahead and sign the check for that first semester of tuition.

“Eh,” Adam said, shrugging his shoulders as he bit into his sandwich.

Not typical. Not at all.

“Eh?” she asked, feeling just a little insulted by this. “What does that mean?”

“It means,” he said, chewing quickly and swallowing, so as to smile at her more broadly, “that I’m not sure this seminary is half as reformed as I am.”

He was one of those, then. He should have appreciated that election sermon, maybe even more than he likely appreciated the book of Ephesians itself. The seminary didn’t swing to absolutes either way, leaving Scripture open for a wide range of conservative interpretations, figuring (and rightly so) that if two thousand years of theologians couldn’t agree to a Biblical answer on the doctrine, then how could they?

“I know what you’re thinking,” Adam said, glancing over at her.

Not likely.

“Tolerance, open-mindedness, being amendable to interpretations – that’s admirable and all in our truly wicked society, huh?”

Well… yeah. But…

“Just difficult,” she began, using her happy recruiter voice, “to claim that we have a definitive answer on what Scripture really says when we’re fallible humans, right?”

He nodded at this. “Except not.”

What?

He grinned at her. “You a theology student, Eve?”

“Getting my MDiv,” she said.

“With the Biblical languages?” he asked.

“Of course,” she said, just a little insulted that he’d ask her to clarify this. Who did he think she was? A girl here only for her Mrs. degree?

As if.

He grinned at her harsher tone. She’d have to dial it down a little.

“I mean, while I’m here and all, I might as well take advantage of all the course offerings that I can, right?” she said.

“Well said.”

“Thank you.”

“So, you have to be reformed if you study Scripture as it was originally written,” he said, nodding as though it was already decided.

And he was right. She was. Her theology was so conservative that she wouldn’t voice half of it out loud in some of her classes, appreciating hearing the other side of thought, not wanting to label herself as “one of those.”

“Five pointer, right?” Adam said, already knowing the answer.

“Yes,” she said. “But I’m not in anyone’s face about it. I’m not a know-it-all.”

Like you, she nearly added.

“That’s a good thing,” he said. “None of us should be know-it-alls about anything. Even though we’re the elect. Even though we have the whole of Scripture as our defense. Even though we know that God has enabled us to know Him as He really is.”

He smiled at her again.

“Maybe you are too reformed for this seminary,” she noted, going back to her lunch.

He laughed quietly at this, and she glanced over at him, smiling herself at the way his whole face lightened.

Handsome. Smart. And unassuming about it, based on the way he was dressed, on the way he’d quietly listened to the Ephesians sermon, even as others had asked questions intended more as statements to show how smart they thought they were.

Maybe the smartest people were those who didn’t have to let everyone else know it.

“Maybe,” he conceded, “but I love the thoughts that are coming from here. I’ve been reading up on the convention press the past two years, studying what’s coming out of all that’s being taught here. And I’ve gotta tell you, this place, reformed or not, is producing brilliant thinkers.”

At this, she had felt her heart kick up a beat, even more so than it had when she’d first seen him at the lecture.

Because that convention press was one that she wrote articles for on a regular basis. It was very likely that she was one of the “brilliant thinkers” he hadn’t yet named.

“I read this one piece a few weeks ago,” he said, “on Biblical inerrancy. And the writer, he made all these connections back to the book of Genesis, the serpent, and his words. Broke out the Hebrew, about how the serpent had asked Eve if God had really said what He did, compared it to the heresies of today, even in the church, when people approach the infallible word of God and say, did God really say that?” He shook his head. “Never thought about it like that until I read that guy’s article.”

That “guy” was sitting right there with him, hearing every wonderful word.

“Wow,” she managed.

“Have you read that one?” he asked her, putting down his sandwich and reaching into the backpack he carried. “I’ve got it in here if you haven’t.”

“Pretty sure I have,” Eve answered, preparing to tell him that it was her article, after all.

But he already had the magazine out, opened up to the page where the article was plastered between news on the expansion of a sister seminary and a letter to the editor regarding the ordinance of baptism and its place in the modern church.

“Here it is,” Adam said, scooting over closer to her so that she could see it as well, causing her heart to race just a little more. “And it –”

Suddenly, he was quiet. He looked at the page then back at her.

“What’s your last name, Eve?” he asked.

The answer was already there in her smile and right there on the article. “Miller,” she said.

“Wait,” he’d said, incredulous. “You’re Eve Miller, from the convention press?”

She’d written a few articles for them. Okay, so more than a few.

“Yeah,” she answered him, more than a little flattered by the appreciation in his eyes.

“Wow,” he said, smiling at her. “Doctrinally sound and beautiful.”

Okay, she was even more than a little flattered.

They continued talking about that article, about some of her others, about the papers Adam was writing for his theology classes in college, about the future of the church, about ministry, about the glory of God…

Eve found herself wondering at what she’d ever found offensive about him because it was suddenly all good. So very, very good.

He’d skipped out on the rest of the Preview Weekend activities for the day. She’d clocked out early and taken off her recruiter name badge.

So unlike her, actually, but he… oh, he sure did seem to like her.

And the feeling was most definitely mutual.

As they’d walked the campus that afternoon, they’d discovered more commonalities. They’d both grown up in Texas. They attended the same large church. They agreed on nearly every doctrine they had covered in those hours they spent together.

Then, there had been dinner at a restaurant not too far from campus. Her studying forgotten, Adam’s plans to explore the seminary disregarded, minutes and hours spent laughing together and connecting in a way that neither of them had ever connected with anyone else.

Totally crazy. Completely nuts. Eve had known it even as they’d spent the rest of the evening together, sitting in the parlor of the girls’ dorm, talking about everything, even as the sun went down, even as it began to come up again.

“Oh, wow,” she’d said, seeing the hues in the sky turn back to an early morning pink and orange canvas. “I’ve kept you out…really late.”

He’d grinned at this. “Did you, or did I keep you out?”

Who even knew? The sparks were clearly flying both directions. It was difficult to tell where the attraction began and who it was directed towards, as Adam and Eve fell quite easily into this mutual adoration.

Completely nuts.

“What are you doing today?” he asked.

She looked at her watch, trying to be logical about this. “I’ve got church in a few hours. So do you, Adam.”

He’d just watched her. “Can I take you to breakfast?”

She was never going to get rid of him, was she?

Praise God. She was never going to get rid of him.

“This is crazy,” she said.

“I know,” he laughed. “I’m okay with crazy.”

“Maybe lunch instead?” she said, thinking that she had to get cleaned up, at least, had to get out of this recruiter outfit and all.

Besides, they had a whole lifetime after this to spend together.

Crazy.

“That works, too,” he said, picking up his backpack and slinging it gently over one shoulder.

She’d walked him out to his car, still talking, their hands brushing up against one another, even as he turned to her before opening his door.

He’d reached out and touched her face with his fingertips, and she’d felt her eyes flutter just a little.

“This is… not normal for me,” he said, smiling.

“Touring a seminary, staying up all night with one of the recruiters, and…”

Touching her, like this.

“No,” he whispered. “Just you, Eve.”

“And just you,” she whispered back. “I don’t do this with all the prospective students.”

What a thing to say. What a thing to imagine. Eve Miller, offering incentives to all the boys considering seminary studies.

Theological training, her foot.

But he’d heard her just right and had smiled even more.

“Seminary enrollment would multiply exponentially if you did.”

Oh, his words. His touch. His lips, so close as he leaned down.

“Me and you,” he’d said against her lips. “Just me and you.”

“Just like that,” she said. “Only us.”

“Like we’re the only two people on Earth. Adam and Eve, you know.”

If she’d heard it anywhere else, she’d have laughed and laughed at the cheesiness and never given another thought to the man who’d said it.

But it was Adam. Praise God, it was Adam, and as she thought about the world becoming so much simpler because it was just the two of them… well, that sounded more than fine with her.

“Yeah,” she’d whispered, even as he’d kissed her.

And he’d loved her. More and more from that day forward, through the six months they spent nearly inseparable, to the trips they took to meet one another’s parents, to the proposal, to his plans to start seminary in the fall, to the day when it all fell apart with her own parents.

Divorced. Thirty years of marriage, gone.

It had been Adam who got her through it. It had been his calm assurance that God was still good that had helped her through her grief. It had been his sworn commitment to her that had convinced her that marriage was still worth it.

It had been his enthusiastic agreement when she’d told him she just wanted to marry him now, right now, that had gotten her through it.

They’d put away their plans for a big church wedding and had decided on a destination wedding instead. Just their immediate families. Less drama with her parents, no people looking at her with sympathy because her family was falling apart, and Adam, just Adam and Eve, together in paradise.

Yes, this was why Eve woke up smiling.

That and the number on her phone.

She put it to her ear, took a breath, and managed just this. “Hey…”

“Hey, baby,” he breathed, and literally everything in her tensed in anticipation, waiting for the next words he would speak.

How could he do that? How did he have the power to do that?

Eve didn’t know, but she waited for those words, lived for them, like they were oxygen.

“Good morning,” she said, stretching in her bed, imagining him just a few doors down. “Sleep well?”

“Not really,” he said. “I was up at four. The time difference is killing me.”

She’d known to expect this and stayed up late the night before, long after Adam had left her, exhausted. She’d made it her goal to adjust to the time change quickly so that she’d be ready and alert during all the wedding festivities.

“I’m sorry,” she murmured, sitting up and putting her feet to the floor. “Just been hanging out since then?”

“Yeah,” he answered, a yawn in his voice. “My parents got here about an hour ago, though, so I’ve been busy since then. Getting all their luggage in, starting all the projects my mother has for the rehearsal dinner…”

Eve thought briefly of her mother-in-law, Charity. Well, her mother-in-law to be. They’d gone over what they were both envisioning for the meal, and she’d been good to go with their suggestions. Eve wanted simple, and Charity was fine with that… to an extent. She’d embellished the simplicity in a few areas, making the whole event more ostentatious than Eve originally wanted. At this rate, the rehearsal dinner would be fancier than the wedding reception.

When they’d made the plans, though, she’d been too consumed with Adam to get too hung up on any of the details.

Until, of course, Charity had looked at the two of them as they’d sat at her kitchen table barely hearing anyone else and had said, “Glory, I can’t wait until the two of you have a real fight and finally come back down to Earth.”

Eve had been so insulted on so many different levels that she’d nearly laid into the woman. But it had been Adam’s “doesn’t know what she’s talking about, baby” that had calmed her right back down, distracted her again…

She and Adam had… well, they actually had never had a fight. God’s blessing and favor, obviously. What a ridiculous thought anyway to anticipate disagreements in the future, to say that it would bring them back “down to Earth” and all, as though having a personality conflict in a covenant marriage was normal.

Eve didn’t want normal. Normal was what her parents had, and they were done.

She and Adam were going to do better. She was going to do better.

What did Charity know anyway?

“Don’t let her wear you completely out, Adam,” she said, standing from the bed and going towards the bathroom to turn on the shower.

“Oh, I won’t,” he said. “The same goes for you and your parents. Emotionally.”

Her mother was already in Hawaii, just down the hall in her own room. Her father would be showing up that morning on an early flight, likely with his new girlfriend.

Yes. Her dad had a girlfriend.

She closed her eyes, not wanting to think about it.

“I know,” she said, going back over to her luggage to find something to wear for the busy day they had ahead. Just as she was pulling out a sundress, her eyes passed over the second suitcase, sitting open on the floor, waiting for her.

Inside were Adam’s clothes. She ran her hand along them, neatly folded and put away in the suitcase he’d packed back on the mainland. He had his own luggage back in his room for the days ahead, but he’d brought this bag to her room the first night they’d arrived in Hawaii.

The honeymoon bag. He’d left her half empty.

“We’ll only need one bag,” he’d said. “Since we’ll be staying together.”

Oh, the thrill of that. She couldn’t wait. Now, it was only a matter of days.

She was smiling as she looked at it when Adam spoke again, prompting her to turn from this treasure, Adam’s shirts, his cargo pants, his boxers.

Oh, the thrill.

“I love you so much,” he said. “We’re going to get through these next three days. No matter what our parents do.”

She took a breath, believing him and putting all of her hope in him.

He yawned very loudly on the other end of the line.

“Baby, I think I’m gonna need a nap,” he said.

And this? Was just a little irritating, as she thought of all that they had to do today, of all that she had to face in a couple of hours when her dad was going to show up with his floozy. If Adam had just stayed up late last night, like she had, like she’d told him to, he would be better prepared for all that was up ahead.

“Hey,” Adam said, interrupting her thoughts.

“Yeah?” she asked.

“Come to the balcony,” he said, and she could hear the grin in his voice.

So, she made her way over there, the sundress clutched in her hand, her phone to her ear, and a smile on her lips, the earlier irritation all but forgotten now.

And there he was, on the beach, just outside the balcony. Close enough that she could see his lips move as he talked.

“There you are,” he said, grinning up at her.

“Hey, you,” she said, smiling down at him.

“Just wanted to see you,” he said.

She leaned over the railing, concluding that everything would be okay now.

“I love you,” she whispered, and she watched him mouth the same.

 

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