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While this book is Christian in theme, it contains strong sexual content and language.

Sex. Faith Quinn didn’t have much experience in that department, at least not until she met Lucas. But then again, a lot of things changed when he stepped into the picture. They fell in love the moment their eyes met and as wonderful as it felt, it also set in motion a chain of events that would ultimately change the quality of their lives forever. Honesty, trust and stress-free living become nearly impossible to find as this couple willingly steps outside God’s design for sex and marriage. This leaves them asking the question: what would things have been like had they followed the wise design of their loving Father from the beginning?

30 Below is a very edgy Christian Fiction novel about why God’s design for sex to be only practiced within marriage is a wise design. Follow Faith and Lucas for 100 days from the time they meet and watch as they struggle with their attraction and what to do with it. This story has two completely different scenarios showing the contrast and ramifications of their decisions.

It is the first in a series called “Degrees of Discernment” which follows Faith and Lucas through other life issues that cause their moral temperature to rise and fall.

Wendy Stenzel Oleston

e   x   c   e   r  p   t



30 Below

Degrees of Discernment

Book 1


© September 2014 by Wendy Stenzel Oleston





It was a frigid Friday night. Thirty below was not a normal temperature in this portion of Wisconsin by any means, but it was the current reality. Faith stood in line at the local pizza shop waiting to buy her dinner. She was shivering even though wrapped up in her heaviest winter coat and standing inside.

Her heart was strangely heavy. Feeling little to nothing was normal and had been for years. A recent medication change for her severe mental disorder made her realize the old prescriptions were blocking her emotions. Now, with the new medicine seeping into her system and the old leaving, she felt as though she were waking up for the first time in forever.

After ordering, there would be a ten-minute wait, but that was fine with her. There was nowhere to be, and no one to see. The television was the only thing waiting for her at home.

After checking her phone for notifications and finding nothing new, she looked down at the floor. The tiles were white… or at least they once were. Now gray at best, with lots of dirt crammed in the crevices, she imagined what the floor might have looked like when it was new.  How many customers had walked across it since then? As a weekly patron, she helped turn what was once brand new into this filthy mess before her.

Her pizza was ready; they called her name so she approached the counter and reached into her purse… only to find her wallet missing. In a split second, she remembered taking it out earlier to make an online purchase. It was still sitting on the desk, doing her absolutely no good at all.

She oozed embarrassment. “I don’t have my wallet.”

Groans filled the room from the people in line behind her. After a deep breath she spoke, “I’m sorry; I guess I have to come back.”

A male voice came from behind her. “I’ll get that for you, ma’am.”

She turned and there he was, stepping up to the counter next to her. Ready to part with a ten-dollar bill, he pulled his wallet out of his back pocket as he smiled at her for the first time.

Faith had to stop this transfer of money. “No, I can’t let you do that, really… it’s okay. I’ll just come back later.”

“It’s not a big deal.” He was very attractive, tall with hazel eyes, brown hair, and a gentle smile that took her breath away. Struck speechless, she could only watch as he paid the cashier. No one had ever done anything like that for her before.

Faith wanted to flee but instead she thought, Oh my goodness, a stranger just bought my dinner. Could I be more mortified?

The man stepped away from the counter and Faith followed. “Thank you so much, you didn’t have to do that.”

He held the pizza box out. “Really, it’s not a big deal. I’ve been there and I remember what it felt like, so, no worries.”

She took the box slowly, unsure if she should. “Thank you, I don’t know what else to say.”

“You’re welcome; you don’t need to say anything else. Just pay it forward.”

She nodded. “I will.”

He opened the door to the blistering cold. He was hard to walk away from, but the cold air from outside was pouring in as he held the door. After a small pause, she left.

And she wondered if anyone even noticed she was there. Looking back at him through the window, she saw trouble brewing. Apparently, he stepped out of line to help her and the other people weren’t allowing him back in his spot.

Feeling responsible, Faith stopped in her tracks and stood watching. These angry feelings were new and she found herself marching right back towards the pizza shop. She pushed the door open and shouted, “Are you guys kidding me?”

Everyone stopped and looked at her.

“He stepped out of line to be nice and help a stranger, cut the guy a break and let him back in line!” She frowned at them.

One of the women didn’t like Faith’s tone and began yelling.

The Good Samaritan stepped between them as the room became loud with shouting. Faith’s heart began to race. This is exactly why I don’t like being in public; people in general suck!

He turned around and put his hands on her shoulders. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”

Faith shook her head. “No, you didn’t get your pizza, even though you paid for one.”

“I don’t need one, really. It’s not worth it.”

She was mesmerized for a moment, and then looked away.

“Come on.” He opened the door to the blistering cold again and led her out. Once outside, the wind whipped her face, reminding her of the bitterness. “Thank you for coming back. That was really nice.”

“Being nice doesn’t really pay, does it?”

“Sure it does.” He paused and looked down at her. “I got the pleasure of meeting you.”

A small smile found her lips. “Well, we haven’t officially met yet.”

“True. We should fix that.”

“We should.”

“I’m Lucas,” he said, extending his gloved hand to her.

She took it. “Hi, Lucas, I’m Faith. It‘s nice to meet you… officially.”

They shook as another burst of wind hit them, blowing already fallen snow towards them. She squinted tightly and shivered as she turned away from the gust.

He shielded her with his body. “This is going to sound a little crazy, but would you be at all interested in sharing your pizza? That is, if you don’t already have plans.”

Surprised by his suggestion, she spoke without thinking, “No, no… I don’t. It was just going to be me and the History Channel tonight.”

Another blast of wind hit them and that was enough for Lucas. “Come on, we better get out of this before we freeze.”

Something about him made her feel safe, so she easily went along, enjoying how he made the decision.

Once in his Chevy Trailblazer, they looked at each other, both still seeing their breath. “Let me get us warmed up.” The engine was already warm, so the heat worked as soon as he started the truck.

He took the pizza box from her and placed it on the console between them.

She looked at him. “Thank you so much for being so nice to me. I feel incredibly stupid.”

“No, don’t. It was my pleasure. Thank you for coming back.”

Embarrassed at the memory of how she walked back in yelling at strangers, her eyes closed and she hid her face behind her hands. “Oh my, I can’t believe I did that.” Peering through her fingers she continued, “I’m sorry; I hope I didn’t embarrass you. I certainly embarrassed myself. I’m not usually like that; I don’t know what got into me.”

“No, it was fine. It was nice… sweet even. Thank you.”

Her hands dropped to her lap. “You probably think I’m a mess.”

“No, not at all.”

After taking her gloves and hat off, Faith ran her fingers through her long, straight brown hair, trying to tame it from the static in the air. Their eyes connected and she was mesmerized. “You have really nice eyes.”

“Thank you. You have a beautiful smile.”

Her eyes rolled, embarrassed. “Thank you.” He probably feels like he has to say something nice to me.

An awkward silence filled the truck; enough to make them both laugh at the same time.

He pointed to the drugstore in the strip mall. “Let me go get us something to drink and then we can eat right here. Is that okay with you?”

“I’d offer to buy but…” she shrugged with an uncomfortable laugh.

“No, it’s my pleasure. I’ll be right back.” He went on his mission. What a trusting guy, letting a stranger hang out in his vehicle with the keys like that. She looked around, hoping to find some clues about him, but everything was clean. No trash or papers, not like her car at all.

He quickly returned with two sodas. “So, what does Faith do for a living?” he asked, offering her a slice.

She took one as she answered. “Faith is a work-at-home digital designer.”

“Nice. Working in your pajamas sounds great!” He took a piece for himself. “Are you your own boss, or do you answer to the man?”

“I answer to me. What about you? What does Lucas do?”

“Lucas isn’t as lucky as Faith… he has to put real clothes on, head to the office each day, and do what he is told.” He softened his tone. “I work for a software company writing code for phone applications. It’s not too terribly exciting, but it pays the bills and I don’t mind it.”

Faith’s eyes drank him in. His slightly curly hair was short, but long enough to style, which he took the time to do. His skin tone was tan, probably naturally, considering it was the dead of winter. That smile was his winning feature, but what really struck her was a sexy dimple that only made an appearance with a certain expression. An extremely likable, gentle nature surrounded him.  A smooth, soft tone, mixed with confident, controlled mannerisms, showed he was complex. She stared as he spoke.

Noticing her stare, he paused as a smile, with a sexy dimple, came to his face, as though he knew she thought he was attractive.

She averted her eyes, embarrassed that she was caught, but he didn’t seem to mind her careful attention.

“Tell me about yourself, Faith.”

She wasn’t sure where to start. “I’m a hometown girl, lived here in Fitchville all my life. My parents live only seven minutes from me and I am an only child. I went to art school in Georgia, which I loved because it got me away from the extreme weather. However, as much as I hate the winter, something about it draws me in. I feel like there is a strange connection everyone in the cold Midwest has with each other. We all know what it’s like to survive in the snow and ice and that bonds the region together somehow. It’s comforting in a strange way. That probably sounds weird, but that is how I feel.”

“No, I totally get that.”

“What about you? What’s your story?”

“I grew up in Chicago, only moved here a few years ago, because of my job. I like Fitchville, but it’s a bit inclusive. I have a younger sister and my parents divorced when I was fairly young. My father passed away a few years ago, but to be honest, I didn’t know him well. My childhood was riddled with trips back and forth and parental manipulations. I tell you, having lived through that, I would never do that to my children… if I ever have any. When I get married, it’s gonna be for the long haul. Whatever it takes to stay together, that’s what I will do. End of story.”

What? A man who knows what commitment means. No way! “So I’m going out on a limb to say you want a family when you grow up.”

“When I grow up? That’s funny! I think I might already be there. I got my first grey hair at twenty-two and I’m pretty sure it had my mother’s name all over it.”

“I’m well aware of the effects a mother can have on hair roots.”

Their eyes met for a moment before she broke the connection. “Do you have a girlfriend?”

He shook his head. “No. My last relationship ended when I moved here. She wanted to get married, but I wasn’t ready.”

“Ah. A heartbreaker.”

“No. We weren’t a good match. We stayed together longer than we should have. What about you? I know someone as pretty as you has a boyfriend.”

She had to giggle. Most of the guys in town knew of her because of her mental disorder, so they steered clear, not wanting to be involved with someone so damaged. “No. I haven’t met anyone worth my time. I don’t get out much.”

“This must be my lucky night then.”

She peeked at him. Is he flirting with me?

“What does Faith like to do in her spare time?”

“I’m pretty boring. I like to read, and in the warmer month of the year, I jog. I don’t know. My life isn’t very interesting. What about you?”

“A runner, huh?”

“I wouldn’t call myself a runner… I jog… slowly. You can probably walk faster than I run.”

His laugh was pleasant to listen to. “Running isn’t easy though, so no matter how slow you are, it’s an accomplishment. Me, I go to the gym almost every morning. I like to socialize with my friends over a few beers now and then. I like to stay active… biking, hiking, and skiing.”

“Busy man. I’m not nearly as social.” She sadly glared at her hands. “I don’t really like people very much.”

“Why’s that?”

She peered at him, knowing there wasn’t a way to explain without telling him about her mental disorder, but this wasn’t the time. “I don’t know. I’m a loner… an awkward type.”

He smiled genuinely. “You don’t look awkward to me.”

What a nice thing to say. “Well, thanks.” Her hands held her attention again.

When they finished eating, the clock revealed almost an hour had passed. With their conversation at a pause, it appeared to be a good time to make her exit. “I better let you get back to your Friday night. Thanks for the pizza and the pleasant conversation. It was nice.”

His dimple made another appearance. Oh, he is handsome. I hope he asks for my…

“Why don’t you give me your number and maybe we can talk again, if you want.”

Yes! “Sure.” Calmly, she gave him what he asked for as he pressed buttons on his phone.

He called her number immediately. “Now you have my number too.”

She swiped the front of her phone to make it stop ringing, then stored the number with his name; Lucas.

He was busy typing so she sat in silence, awaiting his attention again.

A notification lit up her phone; a text from Lucas.

L: I don’t want to say goodbye yet

She felt the same and returned the sentiment.

F: Me neither.

It was hard not to laugh at the ridiculous texting.

L: What are we going to do about that?

She shrugged. “I don’t know.” Without thinking, an idea spouted out. “Why don’t we go over to my place? We could get a movie or just sit and talk.”

“Only if you’re totally okay with it. I don’t want you to feel weird about inviting a stranger into your home.”

She typed another message.

F: I’m okay with it, just promise you won’t stab me with a fork

He seemed amused. “I promise. I’m not really a fork yielding kind of guy.”

“Okay. I live over by the dog park if you know where that is.”

“Yes, I do.” He put the truck in drive and off they went.

Thankful she had cleaned her apartment that morning, she invited him in. It was a small, one bedroom with an enclosed kitchen and large room that was both the dining room and living room. The bathroom had two entrances, one from the hall and one from her bedroom. It was a small living space, but it was everything she needed.

“Would you like a drink? I have lemonade and tea and some red wine if you’re up for that.”

He came in slowly, taking in his surroundings. He started to remove his coat. “Sure. You choose.” She disappeared into the kitchen. She heard him shout from the living room, “Hey, you like to play cards?”


Appearing in the kitchen doorway with the deck of cards from her coffee table in his hands, he spoke, “Ever played Bullshit?”

She laughed as she poured them both a glass of wine. “Oh, yes! I am the queen of Bullshit.” Realizing how funny her response sounded, she glared at him. “That is totally not what I meant.”

He laughed. “Oh no, you can’t take it back now! Ms. Queen of Bullshit.”

“That’s it, you’re going down!”

They went to the dining room table and seated themselves. “Prepare to lose,” she said playfully as he dealt the cards. A sip of wine relaxed her.

He was a formidable opponent and they played round after round, laughing hysterically at each other. Every time they touched, it felt as though lightning had struck. She wondered if he felt it too.

She noticed him scooting his chair towards her slowly, and he was touching her leg with his. Perhaps that was a sign… perhaps it was just a coincidence.

She looked at the clock and realized it was almost one am. “Wow, it’s late. You should probably take me back to my car.” She started to stack the cards.

He placed his hand on hers. “I have a confession, Faith.”

She flipped her hand over so their palms were touching lightly. His fingers began to dance with hers.  Electricity pulsed. “What’s that?”

He looked at their hands before speaking and took his time to reply. “I am very, very, extremely attracted to you.”

No one had ever said anything like that to her before. Excitement coursed through her veins, even as she attempted to play it cool. It felt like a significant moment, so she took her time to respond.




Silence filled the room as she took in the moment. Honesty leaped from her lips, unable to be held back. “I‘m quite attracted to you, too.”

His hand closed around hers as that dimple stole her breath. “Come here,” he said, gently pulling her arm. He sat her sideways on his lap, guided her face towards his, and kissed her lightly.

A fuse lit within her heart the moment their lips touched. She closed her eyes and a few kisses later, he opened his mouth. Stop thinking and enjoy these moments of affection from this absolutely gorgeous man, Faith!

Their kisses intensified as his hand travelled up and down her back. Opening her eyes, she pulled away for a moment. She swung her leg over his and straddled him. He smiled briefly at the position adjustment as she feverishly dove into another deep kiss.

Never in her life had she felt this kind of fire. This new medication was definitely likable, as was the handsome stranger. They kissed for a long while.

Completely turned on, she began to want more. In her twenty-eight years of life, no one had ever worked her up like this. It was an entirely new pleasure, which had her sensibilities off quilter. Their kissing slowed and then stopped. A stare ensued, as if another decision needed to be made.

After gazing back and forth between his gorgeous hazel eyes, Faith stood, taking his hand in hers. “Come here.” She slowly stepped back towards her room.

He stood, allowing her to lead him down the hall, and once at the foot of her bed, she wrapped her arms around his neck.

Placing his hands on her hips, he quickly pulled her body towards his and began kissing her.

She spoke between kisses, “I don’t normally do things like this. Like… never.” She started to pull his shirt off.

“Me neither,” he replied, pulling hers up as well.

His bare chest was the most gorgeous she had ever seen, with hard, defined muscles screaming to be touched. He removed her bra as she whispered, “You have to be nice to me. I’m kind of a novice.”

“Don’t worry; I plan on being very nice to you.”

They finished undressing each other while kissing, then he lay her on the bed. He hovered over her. “Do you have any protection?”

That thought hadn’t crossed her mind at all. “No. I’m sorry, I don’t.”

“I think I have one in my wallet.”

“God, I hope so,” she said, making him smile.

“Let me check. Don’t go anywhere.”

As if I would. 

He left her momentarily then returned with a smile and a kiss. “I knew I’d be glad I had this one day.”

“You’re a smart man.”

“And you are a beautiful woman.”

“No need to flatter, I think you’re already in with me.”

“Not flattery, truth.”

He took care of protection business quickly then returned to her lips.

Her heart raced in her chest. Was she really doing this? It had been a long time and she was nervous of pain, or worse, what if she was bad at it? Fortunately, the passion she felt for him overrode her fear. She reminded him in a sexy whisper, “Don’t forget to be nice to me.”

His touch was compassionate as he brushed her hair gently to the side of her face. “We don’t have to. We can stop before we even start. It’s okay.”

Ugh. A nice guy statement. “No. I don’t want to stop. Do you?”

He grinned. “Oh, God, no, but…”

She pulled him in for a kiss before another word could be uttered.

“Are you sure?”

“Bring it,” she replied, heart still racing.

He sunk himself into her, causing her to gasp loudly. There was some pain, but it was temporary. He moved his body gently, taking note of her reaction. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m okay.”

He stared into her eyes as if to make sure.

“I’m good… really good,” she said as pleasure washed over her. His gentle yet firm touch felt amazing. “I have to say, you are being very good to me.” Her smile widened. “Damn, incredibly good.”

He grinned proudly, continuing his pursuit of pleasuring her. “I have a good partner.”

“No, it’s all you. Trust me.”

“Just relax and enjoy. I want to make you feel amazing.”

Her eyes closed. “Oh, you are.”

He shushed her sweetly, reminding her to relax. She melted in his arms and went along with whatever he did. He pulled her knee up to the side of his chest and held it there. His strong hand felt magnetic on her leg, holding it right where he wanted it. The weight of his body made her weak in the heart. She felt surrounded. Surrounded by emotion and… love. Was this what love felt like? Having never loved a man before, she wondered if she might be there already. Surely not.

Suddenly, their kissing ceased as her body flooded with an amazing burst of emotion. Her head went back and her eyes closed instinctively as he began kissing her neck. Pleasure built within her core, causing a total loss of control. Words exited her involuntarily. “Oh, God!” she shouted, barely able to breathe as a flurry of delight pulsed through her. More words exited her mouth, but she had no memory of them. Slowly, the sensation faded and she opened her eyes to find him looking at her.

“That’s exactly what I was going for.” He smiled proudly and went back to her lips, hovering closely.

She crashed her lips into his forcefully. He pinned her down and quickened everything, even his kisses. He was intense and powerful, very different from the gently way he had begun.

He pressed his face into the bed beside hers and turned towards her ear whispering, “You feel so amazing to me.”  He moaned, indicating it was his turn. Faith grabbed on tight as he released himself slowly.

Stillness met them. Soon, he lifted his head to make eye contact. A gentle stroke to her face led to another kiss, after which he spoke, “Amazing. Absolutely amazing.”

“Yes, it was.”

He kissed her again before rolling to her right to catch his breath. He took her hand in his and kissed her fingers. “That was a nice surprise ending to my day.”

His words made her giggle.

“Come here.” He pulled her to him, wanting her head resting on his chest. His hand gently brushed her hair. “Was I good enough to you?”

“Holy crap, yes! I’d say so. Now you can pass out.”

He chuckled slightly.

“Isn’t that the way it works? Men always fall asleep right after sex.”

“I suppose it is. It’s because if we have done our job properly, we are exhausted.” He kissed her forehead. “Would you like to have a conversation about how to end world hunger instead?”

Another giggle exited her. “No.”

“Good. Not sure I could handle that right now.”

After a short silence, she spoke, “By the way, you can spend the night.”

His chest shook as he laughed. “Oh, thanks. I was wondering if you were going to kick me out when you were done with me.”

“I’ll let you stay, just this once.”

“Thanks, you are so very kind.”

She lifted her head, looking up finding him smiling just as she was. “Did that really just happen?” she asked.

“Why yes, I believe it did.” He guided her mouth to his for a kiss. “Thank you.”

She rested her head on his chest again. “No, thank you.”

He sat up. “Excuse me for a moment. I’ll be right back.”

Faith threw herself back on the bed, staring at the ceiling as he went to her bathroom. What the hell did you just do, Faith? Her hands covered her face, embarrassed.

He slid back into bed with a wonderful sentiment that made her smile. “God, you are beautiful…” He kissed her as his hands combed through her hair.

I’m the luckiest girl on the planet right now.

“What are you thinking?” he asked, seeming concerned.

She grinned at him, easing his apprehension. “I’m equally enamored with you. I mean, I did just have sex with you.”

“Yes, you did.”

Her heart fluttered. Damn he was sexy.


There’s nothing like a warm male hand on a girl’s naked belly to remind her she’s not alone in bed. She peeked over at him as he whispered, “Hey, beautiful.” Her alarm clock read four a.m.

“Hey.” She snuggled into his chest as his strong arms wrapped around her. She felt his hand gently caressing the back of her head and it made her tingle all over. “I’m glad you’re still here. I thought you might sneak out once I fell asleep.”

“I’m not going anywhere.” He lifted her chin to kiss her. One gentle kiss turned into another, then another. Their mouths opened at the same time and their tongues began to intertwine.

A rush of emotion hit her chest as she threw her leg over his body. His nakedness was inviting, making her intensely aware of his every touch.

As their passion built, he rolled his body onto hers. Chest on chest, she looked into his eyes, wondering what they were going to do about their protection problem. If only she kept something on hand for just this occasion. But this was not in the plan; nothing like this was supposed to happen to her.

He slowed their make out. “We should probably stop.”

Her heart ached at the thought. “But… I want you.”

“Oh God, I want you too, but…”

She interrupted him with a kiss. He surrendered his attempt to be wise as she wrapped her legs around him.

“You’re sure?”

She nodded. “If you are, yes.”

With those simple words, round two began. “We are stupid, you know that?”

It felt even more amazing than the first time. “Oh, but stupid feels incredible,” she moaned.

“Yes. Yes, it does. Just want you to know I’m clean. I’ve been tested.”

“Me too.” She arched her back as he pulled himself towards her. He straightened his arms, pushing his upper body above her. She ran her hands across his pecs and closed her eyes, feeling pure pleasure as their bodies moved against each other. She could tell he was interested in one thing; making her feel as good as he did.

He slowly pressed his chest against hers and began kissing the area around her left ear. He whispered, “You doing okay?”

She turned her face towards him and lightly bit his ear. “I’m wonderful. How about you?”

“Never been better,” he replied softly, then dove into her mouth with intensity.

He was certainly amazing. It was hard to believe they had just met.

He released her from his grasp then went to his knees. He lifted her, pressing her against the headboard. Like putty in his hands, she went along for the ride. He held her in place with his strong arms and brought himself towards her from beneath.

Damn, he knows what he’s doing.

Intensity began to build in her body and she knew she was getting close to losing control of herself. As it began to wash over her, she placed her head on his shoulder. She heard him sigh and knew he was there too. Concerned he might stop, Faith grabbed on tight, not giving him the choice. In that moment, she didn’t care about their lack of protection at all; the only thing on her mind was giving him something incredible to remember.

They gasped together, clinging, feeling pleasure wash over them at the same time.

When it was done, they became still and held each other as the silence of the room and their heavy breathing became noticeable.

After a few moments, he gently lay her down and placed himself closely next to her, taking her hand in his. Her head went on his chest and his arms wrapped around her. “That was by far, the best sex I have ever had,” he said.

It was true for her too, but that was no shock.

His hand brushed her hair away from her face. “Thank you.” He kissed the top of her head.

“Do you always say that after sex?”

“When it’s that good, yes. It’s only polite.”

“Aw, your mother raised you right. She should be very proud.”

He laughed really hard. “If only you knew my mother, you’d be laughing as hard as I am.”

Her heart soared, wishing they could stay like this forever. He was incredible.

Snuggling into him, she closed her eyes. Tiredness was creeping in. “You’re not going to sneak out on me, are you?”

Both arms went around her as he kissed her forehead then closed his eyes. “Not a chance. I kinda like you.”

“Kinda, huh? I’d hate to see what you do to women you really.”

“I say ‘thank you’ twice.”

A laugh burst from her mouth. “Maybe someday I’ll be that lucky.”






The morning sun woke her. The blankets slid off her naked chest as she rose, causing her to notice her lack of clothing immediately. She remembered again, she was not alone.  Looking down at her sleeping companion, memories washed over her and she couldn’t help but smile. Was this real? Had she really just slept with this guy she barely knew? Had they really just had the most amazing sexual experience of their lives together? She slid to the edge of her bed and got out. A t-shirt from her drawer draped her body quickly as she went to the bathroom and closed the door. The mirror didn’t lie. Yes, this was real. She combed her hair then splashed cold water on her face.

Wiping her face with a fresh towel, a sobering thought occurred to her. Had he just used her? What if he left and she never saw him again? Her heart leaped in her chest, and it hurt.  Only two seconds separated the feeling of being totally satisfied and being completely scared to death. This drastic emotional change made her realize she had not taken her medicine before bed. Taking her pills on time was very important.

Disappointed in herself, she shoved the pills in her mouth and down they went. Facing him now would not be easy. She realized in that moment why they called it a walk of shame.

He was sitting on the bed, already wearing his jeans and sliding his shirt over his head. He stood with a smile and walked towards her. “Good morning, beautiful.” He kissed her forehead.

That was a nice greeting, or maybe he just didn’t remember her name.  A kiss to her lips preceded a request to use her bathroom. She nodded and he went in, closing the door behind him.

Alone in her room, she dressed in fresh clothes. Some slight discomfort to her body made her know for sure, she definitely had sex.

She went to the kitchen to start a pot of coffee.

Soon he joined her, leaning against the counter. “Anderson.”

She looked at him confused.

“Lucas Anderson… I thought you might want to know my last name.”

She nearly melted at his dimple. “Oh. Good to know. Mine is Quinn.”

“Faith Quinn, that is a pretty name.”

He had remembered her name. “Thank you.” She poured them both a cup of coffee. “How do you take it?”

“Cream and sugar.”

“Me too. It’s good to know we have at least one thing in common.” Her tone revealed her embarrassment. “What?” she asked, feeling self-conscious as he stared at her.

“I’m just enjoying the view. You really are beautiful.”

Shaking her head, she chuckled. “Even with morning hair?”

He reached for her hand. “Especially with morning hair. You see if I’m privy to morning hair that means I got to help make the morning hair.” He pulled her towards him. “I’m going to kiss you. Is that okay with you?” His hands went to her waist.

Silence was her answer.

“I hope you don’t feel too weird about what happened last night. I meant it when I said I don’t normally do things like that. It wasn’t a line.” He looked sincere.

“I feel a little weird about it; I’ve got to be honest.” She actually felt a lot weird about it. “You have seen me completely naked, and you can recall that thought in your mind anytime you want to, yet I don’t even know where you live.”

“Highland Apartments.”

“Gee, thanks. That helps a lot.”

“What can I do to help you not feel weird?”

She shrugged. “I don’t think there is anything you can do. It just is what it is.”

He brought his lips to hers and whispered before engaging them, “Well, I don’t want you to feel weird. I want you to feel happy. You are beautiful and smart and I’m really glad I met you.”

After a kiss, his lips remained close. “Really?” she asked, oozing insecurity.

“Really,” he replied confidently.

She separated from him before he could kiss her again. “I suppose you better take me to my car.”

“Or I could take you to breakfast.”

She shook her head. “You don’t have to do that.”

“I know. I want to.”

She felt a headache coming on and knew there wasn’t time to wait for food at a restaurant. Eating immediately was priority if she wanted to hold the symptoms of her mental disorder at bay. She opened the fridge and retrieved an apple. “Want one?”


She tossed one at him, then got one for herself. “You can just take me to my car and get on with your day.” She closed her eyes and rubbed her face. “I can’t believe I did that last night.” She opened her eyes and bit into her apple.

“I wish I could make you feel better about it.”

“You don’t need to make me feel better, really. It’s fine. I think I just need to… get my car and…”

“Get rid of me?” he offered.

“No, not like that. I just…”

“Don’t know how to act?” he offered again.

She nodded.

“I can take you back to your car if that’s what you want.”

“Yeah, I do.”

“All right, let’s go.”

The car ride was quiet and awkward. All these questions went through her head at once. Would this be the last time she saw him? Would he call her to ask her out? Would she totally regret the night? Was it the worst mistake of her life?

Her car was the only one in the parking lot so it was easy to spot. He looked over at her after pulling up next to it.

She felt the weight of his eyes and wanted to escape them. “Okay, I guess I’ll go now.” She peeked at him briefly then admitted what she was feeling. “I have no idea what to say to you right now.” An uncomfortable laugh exited her.


She looked at him. “At least you remember my name.”

His face showed compassion.

“See, you don’t know what to say either.” She shook her head, looking out the windshield. “I’m gonna go.” She opened the door and got out. “Bye,” she said, then closed the door and headed to her car. Shame caused her to fumble with her keys.

He went to her as she opened her car door. “Hey…”

She looked at him.

“When can I see you again?”

“You don’t have to say that, really.” Quickly ducking inside her car, she started the engine.

“Come here,” he said placing his hand on her arm and bringing her to her feet. “I would really like to see you again.”

She took a deep breath then sighed. “Okay. You have my number. You can call me. I’m gonna go, okay?”

“No, not okay. Not until…” He took her face in his hands giving her a simple kiss.

When it was over their eyes connected, lips almost touching. “You sure know how to distract me, Lucas,” she said with a grin. Damn he is handsome.

“Seems like you need a little distracting. Perhaps I should kiss you again.”

“Maybe you should.”

With that, he gave her a slow, deep kiss. It lasted a long time and reminded her of all the incredible passion they experienced together. When the stunning kiss was over, he spoke, “I will call you soon.”

She nodded, dumbstruck. “Okay.”

“I hope you have a great day.”

Nodding again, she replied, “You too.”

Stepping backwards once, with a grin he said, “It has already been a great day. And Faith…”


“Thank you, thank you.” An expression of total satisfaction revealed the dimple she loved.

“Did I just get the double thank you?” she asked squinting.

“You did!”

She grinned as he got in his truck. They waved and he drove away.





Her phone buzzed, letting her know she had a friend request on Facebook from Lucas Anderson. She smiled. Okay, maybe it hadn’t been the biggest mistake of her life. After accepting his friend request, she proceeded to his wall for some cyber-stalking.

A gorgeous profile picture showed off his beautiful eyes and warm smile. His info page revealed he graduated from Purdue with an engineering degree and he would be turning twenty-nine in only a few days. Each photo of him she clicked on made her wish he were naked in her bed right then.

A notification beep let her know she had been tagged in a status on his page.

‘Had an AMAZING evening with Faith Quinn! Pizza, conversation and whatnot… best evening ever! Thank you, Thank you :)’

Another double thank you made her grin. He was online, so she sent him an instant message.

F: Whatnot? Is that what the kids are calling it these days? LOL

L: Ha ha Can’t wipe the smile off my face!

She commented on his status. ‘No, Thank YOU. It was AMAZING.’

L: How are you feeling?

How was she? Was she happy? Confused? Overwhelmed? Totally embarrassed? She barely knew him, yet they had shared the most intimate thing two people could share. How should she feel?

Only one other guy had ever made it into her bed, and he was a huge mistake. As a result, her sex life was supposed to have waited for marriage, or at least engagement. Because of her mental issue, men weren’t lining up to date her. And if she couldn’t ever get a serious date, the likelihood of marriage was pretty slim.  As for sex, never having it again was her expectation.

F: I guess you picked the right girl to buy pizza for

She felt like she wanted to crawl under a rock.

His response came slow.

L: 🙁 Still feeling weird huh?

She only had herself to blame.

L: When can I see you again?

Of course he wants to see her again, what guy wouldn’t after a night like that? She shook her head.

F: I don’t know

L: 🙁

L: I like you

F: I bet you do

L: I’m not like that

Should she believe him? For all she knew, he was married or had a girlfriend, and buying pizza for strange women was his way of getting laid on the side.

L: I have to go but just know I’m not like that. I mean it. Okay?

F: Okay

L: I will talk to you soon, that is a promise

F: Okay

L: Smile 🙂 I am

F: 🙂

Another notification came to her phone. He responded to her comment to his status.

‘I hope she will hang out with me again sometime soon. Please????’

Maybe he did like her. Maybe he wasn’t “like that” after all. Only time would tell. She responded. ‘You know where to find me :)’

Later that evening, she continued her cyber-stalking of Lucas on Facebook. The first thing she did was look at his friends list. The majority of them were girls from Chicago. As she looked through the girls, a notification came in: another comment on Lucas’s status from earlier that morning.

‘And I thought Lucas Anderson only had AMAZING nights with me’

The comment from a girl by the name of Mira Grant made Faith’s heart sink. Mira was a pretty brunette with green eyes from the Windy City.

Faith burned with jealousy. What an idiot. Did he not think he would get caught playing two women and then posting it on Facebook? Taking her medicine late usually made her a bit irrational, but her jealousy seemed valid. Sitting there fuming, she considered her options on how to reply. She decided to text him instead of making a public statement.

F: Who the hell is Mira Grant?

There was no disguising her displeasure with that text. It took a while for him to respond, so she sat staring at her phone, burning with fury.

L: ???

F: Look at your wall

I’m so stupid! She had let him take complete advantage of her. His reply took time.

L: Ignore that. She is trying to cause trouble. I deleted it

Faith refreshed her Facebook screen and Mira’s comment had disappeared.

F: Who is she?

L: No one important

F: Are you sleeping with her?

L: No

Faith knew she was acting like a jealous fool, but she was unable to stop. Was it her mental problem, or was this the way anyone would feel? She had no idea.

F: I am such an idiot

L: Stop it. I’m calling you

Her phone rang almost immediately, but she declined the call.

F: I don’t want to talk to you

L: I swear to you Mira is nothing but a troublemaker. Please believe me

Faith’s smoldering heart began to settle as she considered he might be telling her the truth.

L: She is a drama-filled friend of my ex

Faith took a deep breath.

F: Really?

L: Yes really

She felt foolish, but for a different reason now.

F: I’m sorry

L: It’s okay. I understand

Had she just let insecurities over having sex with him and not really knowing him yet ruin everything? This relationship, if she could even call it that, was out of order. How could she know if he was trustworthy? She couldn’t.

L: Are you okay now?

F: Yes. I’m really sorry

L: Don’t worry. Be happy

F: 🙂

L: What are you up to tomorrow?

F: I have church in the morning. Probably gonna burst into flames on my way in

L: God wouldn’t make a gorgeous woman like you and then burn her up because she is irresistible

Her heart swooned at his sweetness. A scripture came to her mind and she typed it, not even thinking.

F: He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear

L: Throwing some 1 Corinthians at me… nice!

F: I’m impressed, you know your Bible

L: And when you are tempted, He will provide a way out

F: Epic fail on our part

L: Yes. I am responsible so I will be the one to burst into flames at church tomorrow, not you

F: We are both responsible

L: Do you think your amazingness is an acceptable defense?

F: ha ha – I think not

L: And now that I have experienced the glory that is you… not sure I can stop

F: I enjoyed your glory as well, don’t want to stop

L: We’re in trouble, aren’t we?

F: I think we are *sigh*

L: All right, I better let you go

F: Okay

L: Talk to you tomorrow

F: Goodnight



Do you like weird books?