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"...Choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Good entertainment will help you to have good thoughts and make righteous choices...Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable."
For The Strength of Youth

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Submitted by Steven ODell on 5 July 2007 - 11:48pm.

Chapter 8

True to his word, Tom was back within the hour and carried a cardboard box filled with several volumes of his journals. He placed these on the table and began to pulled one after another from the box, seeming to know intimately which volumes he wanted from those he did not.

Denise reached out and took Tom's wrist in her hand to stop him. "It's okay, Tom. I believe you and I know Jenna does, too."

"No, this isn't for you. It's for me. All these years I’ve written down what I’ve dreamed and hoped for, never able to share it with anyone. Now I want to read it to the only woman I have ever felt would understand and accept it. I have to do this." He waited for her to turn loose his arm.

"Then I'd better go and leave the two of you alone." Turning to Jenna, she added, "However things go, Ron and I are there for you."

"You still don't trust me?" Tom asked.

"On the contrary, Tom. Jenna told me you found a note on your windshield. It doesn't take a MENSA member to figure out what it was, so all I meant was that we are here for her when she needs us. It wasn’t directed at you, okay? I’m sorry I came across so strong, but I like Jenna—a lot. And to be honest, I’m still rather fresh from some things in my own past that keep me from trusting too easily. Forgive me?"

"Of course, I do."

She offered her hand as a gesture of peace, but Tom surprised her by quickly embracing her instead. "I admire a friend as dedicated as you. Few people care to get so involved these days."

"I had a good teacher. My husband saved my life from a madman not that long ago and I believe we were meant to be together. Just maybe you and Jenna are, too." She smiled reassuringly and excused herself, leaving the two of them alone.

"She's a good friend, Jenna. You may need her before this is over. I don't want to scare you, but we need to be realistic. The best thing you could do right now is to run away and marry me, okay?" His eyebrow rose in such a goofy way that Jenna could not help but laugh out loud.

"You're crazy; you know that, don't you?"

"Absolutely. But I'm crazy about you—that's all that matters to me."

"You're a sweet-talker, too. I may just have to keep you." She stood to kiss him.
"Can't think of a better reason."

The next several hours sped by at an amazing rate. Jenna was literally spellbound as Tom read page after page from journal entries that could refer to no one but her. She took some and read them herself, stunned at the detail and accuracy. His dreams had shown him so many details of her life as she grew. Her head was reeling, but not for one instant could she deny that he had actually dreamed those things. Even the handwriting showed an evolution of maturity as the years went past. These were the genuine article and he could not have known all the things recorded here unless he were telling the truth, no matter how good a researcher or writer he might be.

"How can this be? I mean...how could it happen?" She was nearly speechless in her efforts to make sense of it all.

"I don't know the answer to that myself, Jenna. It started when I was about ten years old. I didn't know it was more than coincidence the first few times. Then the dreams became more frequent and I soon recognized what was happening and began to keep the journals starting about fifteen. You can see that the very first entry was prompted by you."

"But what caused it? And why me, of all people?"

"Again, I don't know, but I wouldn't change it for the world. There were several times that I might have married, but in my mind was always the thought that you were out there waiting for me somewhere. Often I wondered if you were having the same kind of dreams, too, and I couldn't let you down by settling for someone else. I had to wait until I found you."

“Tom, I never had dreams like this, but I also never met anyone I would have considered marrying before now. I don't know how or why, but you have been led to me for some reason—or I've been saved for you...or...I don't know." Her hands went to her head and brushed her hair back, looking dazed.

"You're tired. This has been a lot to drop on you all at once. I should leave you to rest."

"No, I want you to stay. You still have some explaining to do. The party where we met, when you first saw me...." She stopped again, lost for what more to say. Her hands waved helplessly in the air, as though hoping to grasp the answers. Her head wagged gently in her confusion.

"I was driving by the party that day, just on my way to do other things—I don't even recall what it was right now. I saw you drive past and through the gate and I was totally stunned because I recognized you instantly. Your face has been etched into my mind over the years and I would know it as if it were carved in stone. I knew you—the woman I had so often seen as she was growing up. The woman I had waited years to find. I sat in my car for half an hour at the curb and just shook. There was no other choice for me but to find you and I knew I didn't belong in there, so all I could do was to get in and get out again before they called the police on me for my gatecrashing. I had to see you and yet I was completely terrified that you would turn me away."

"Terrified? You never looked it. In fact, you stunned me with your confidence."

Tom began to laugh. "Oh, my! That was anything but confidence. I was nearly panicked. That's why I said so little."

"Well, it was completely charming, regardless of your state of mind. I'm glad you climbed the wall." She smiled and pulled him close, her head against his chest. "No, I'm just glad you followed your instincts."

"And I'm glad you believe me, Jenna. It's a totally crazy story, to be sure."

"Sit down. We have a lot of catching up to do."

"Are you sure you won't just run away with me instead?"

The glint in his eye was that of a mischievous little boy playing a wonderful prank and she couldn't help but adore him all the more for it.

"We'll discuss that later." She leaned forward and kissed him warmly, knowing now without doubt that this man was meant to be hers and hers alone.

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