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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 9 July 2007 - 12:56am.

Chapter 7

The evening was splendid and more than made up for the drudgery of the day. Before the movie, Ron stopped to get a corsage for his new bride-a single red rose in fern leaves and surrounded by Baby’s Breath.

“Ron, isn’t this a bit over the top for a movie?”

“I want you to be the most loved woman there. You will be anyway, but now you’ll feel like it, as well.” His eyes spoke total adoration as he took her arm in his.

“Thank you. You really are the sweetest man ever.”

As she stroked his cheek, he took her hand and pressed it to his lips softly. “We’d better go if we want to get good seats. He enfolded her in his arm, escorting her to the car and holding the door for her. This would be a special night by any means he could employ.

The movie was nothing outstanding, but the two lovers were just pleased to have some quiet time together and without any undue stresses to burden them for the evening. They knew the next few days would again be mundane-acquiring the goods to make them both comfortable in Denise’s apartment-now their apartment. How quickly things change. Denise had never expected to be sharing the place with anyone, let alone a new husband, when she had rented it so recently. Yet, here she was-married and happily making room in her life, her closet and her bed for the man of her dreams. The presence of a man would bring inevitable changes to her life and dwelling that she welcomed openly. Her surroundings would reflect his influence soon enough. She smiled as she nearly floated about the rooms, anxiously engaged in organizing and grooming the place to make room for him. This was her dream come true. At least it should have been.

A few days later, Denise came home from work to find a message on the answering machine. Ron was out doing some incidental shopping and she had no way of knowing if he had heard the message yet, but she knew that if he had, he would not be happy.

The gist of the message was that the insurance company had some concerns regarding circumstances surrounding the fire that had destroyed his home and would he please contact them as soon as possible. It was more feeling than anything, but Denise suspected that this was to be more bad news. It would be verified sooner than she cared to know. When Ron arrived home and heard the message, she could read the anguish in his expression. She held her peace until he got off the phone.

Hesitating for a few seconds to gather his thoughts and words, she could see that he was also attempting to cast off his anger before speaking. “Lovely. Just lovely. They didn’t say it in so many words, but I believe they suspect me of burning down the house for the insurance money.”

Denise nearly went white as a sheet as the blood drained from her face. She took a seat quickly for fear she would fall if her knees were to buckle. Was it possible that Ron would end up in jail no matter what was to happen? Was it just his fate? She shook her head and kept saying, “No…no…no….” Her face was buried in her hands and she appeared close to total withdrawal again. Would this sequence of events never end? This was a living hell and it appeared no end was in sight.

Ron sat down heavily beside her and put his arms around her. “Denise, I’m sorry. It may have been better if you’d never met me.”

She whirled about with the force of the words. He had just struck her verbally. There was no carefulness or gentle consideration in her response. “Listen, you! The only one I wish I’d never met is Ted. He was bad luck from day one and he is bad luck after he is dead. You got that?” Her stare was intense enough to burn holes.

“Yes, of course I understand,” he answered demurely. His hurt and surprise could not be hidden.

Denise softened considerably at the look of shock that registered on his face. “You sure know how to break up a crab-in, Ronald Jameson.” Her head was soon buried in his shoulder and he held her close as she sobbed quietly.

“Am I ever glad to hear that.” He still had a bit of the whipped puppy look, but was recovering quickly. “I’m sorry, Denise. You’ve been absolutely wonderful through all of this. I don’t know how you do it. You’re so much stronger than you know.”

“Strong? If only you knew. There are so many times I want to break something or hit someone. If screaming would help, that would be my hobby by now. You have no idea how weak I feel. It’s like fighting a ghost. I can’t confront him-he’s dead! And if it isn’t him, it’s something else. I can’t give up either, or he wins…they win…whatever-I lose if I quit. If all of this succeeds in breaking us up, then Ted wins, even in death.”

“Oh, Denise, this is so weird. If I had been told six weeks ago that I would be battling a dead man, I would have said the bearer of that message needed professional help. Now, I’m awfully close to needing it myself. I have to laugh to keep from crying.”

All they could do was hold one another and hope for a comfort that never came.

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