Tabbie gives her hair a final brush in the mirror, her golden blonde hair shining. Her eye make up matches her outfit; she's wearing a brand new long-sleeved violet dress, with a cute set of low heels. The shoes were a matching violet, a tiny blue bow perched on each shoe. The top half of the dress is form-fitting, hugging to the curves of her chest before softly flowing away from her body, ending a few inches above her knee. Tabbie twirls, giggling like a little girl at the way the dress fluffs outwards before bouncing down the stairs.
"It's about time," grumbles her father while he fixes his tie in the hall mirror. Bishop Kimball was a handsome man; his body was lean and fit, his navy suit fitting snug around his form. He was an imposing figure, towering over most. He was known to the church as a gentle, welcoming giant with a kind smile for his size. He turns, then halts to take a long look at her. "You're going to church in that?" he asks. Tabbie looks down at herself, then back up at her father to raise an eyebrow. She gives him a shrug, admiring the dress in the mirror beside him.
"Yea. What's wrong with it? Everything is covered." She says, shrugging at him as she smiles into the mirror. Her father's pale grey eyes stare her down as he buttons his suit jacket.
"You're the youngest daughter of the Bishop. Our congregation expects a little more modesty than that." He tells her. He combs back his hair one last time, frowning at the salt and pepper coloring coming through on the sides. Tabbie lets out a snort.
"I'm also the adult daughter of the Bishop, meaning they aren't expecting kid clothes anymore. If you're so worried about modesty, maybe take a good look in the mirror first." Tabbie says, staring at her father. He sighs, giving her a frustrated glare. He points out the door as he picks up his bag and keys.
"Just go get in the car. Your mother and sister have been waiting in there for ten minutes." He orders, double checking that the house is in order. Tabbie gathers her bag, flouncing her way through the door and down the steps to the car. She opens the door, dropping herself into the seat, tucking her dress under her before closing the door. Her sister looks at her, shaking her head as she laughs.
"Cute dress. I didn't know there would be a meeting of Jezebels at church today." she teases. Tabbie makes a mocking face at her as her father gets into the car. Tabbie looks her sister up and down, her dirty blonde hair tied back in a long ponytail, wearing a modest black skirt with her long-sleeved white shirt.
"You just wish you could pull it off, Demi." Tabbie retorts, rolling her eyes at her sister. From the front seat, their mother sighs. She turns back to the girls with a stern look, holding her long auburn curls back from her face.
"That's enough, girls. Tabbie, your sister has barely been home a week, be kind. Demi, stop antagonizing your sister. You're both adults now, act like it! It's the Lord's day." The girls shoot each other dirty looks as their father sighs, pulling the car out of the driveway. Demi, the forever dutiful daughter removes her notebook from her bag, rifling through the pages for her talk later that morning. Tabbie connects her earphones, choosing a song that Elder Knight had told her about last Sunday. She leans her head on the window, drifting into her fantasy world where she and Elder Knight were able to be together, where she wasn't just the Bishop's daughter, but a desirable woman.
Tabbie closes her eyes, sinking into her dreamland. Elder Knight is there, reaching forward to brush a loose strand of hair behind her ear. He smiles at her, and everything brightens, even the air around her warmer against her skin. Elder Knight was one of the few people who made her feel seen, who could smile at her and make her feel like the only person in the room. She loses herself in the chilling sapphire blue of his eyes, the way his eyes became adorable half moons every time he smiles. The Elder wraps a hand around the back of her neck, guiding her face forward to his. She watches as he licks his lips, leaning forward to kiss her. Her heart starts to race, longing for the touch of his lips against hers. Tabbie feels a quiet smile crossing her face before her headphones get yanked out of her ears.
"We're here! Up and at 'em, space cadet!" chirps Demi, tossing Tabbie's headphones into her lap. Tabbie frowns, packing her headphones away. She steps out of the car, glancing around the parking lot. She checks her reflection in the car window, feeling her heart pounding in her chest with anticipation, before running to catch up with her family. Her father holds open the first door, first letting through her mother and sister. She looks past the doorway and sees Elder Knight at the next entrance, already shaking her mother's hand. Tabbie's heart skips a beat as she looks him over; he's an active man, and it shows in his physique. He keeps fit and trim, with solid broad shoulders and strong legs. His face is classically handsome with thick, dark hair and brows, contrasting with the impossibly bright blue of his eyes. His eyes flick up, locking with Tabbie's; he gives her a warm smile, his eyes casually looking her over. She blushes, giving him a flirty smile. Tabbie's father sighs, shaking his head.
"He's a missionary. Behave." He hisses at his daughter as she walks past him. She ignores him, walking directly to the missionary. Elder Knight grins, extending his hand. Tabbie takes it, stepping close to him. There had been tension between the two of them for weeks, ever since their first fireside after his arrival.
"Good morning, Tabbie! How are you?" he asks Tabbie, brushing his thumb over the top of her hand. Their hands linger together, Tabbie giving him a sweet smile.
"It's an alright morning so far. You? Did you sleep well last night?" she asks. He grins, giving Tabbie's hand a quick squeeze.
"I had very pleasant dreams, thank you." He tells her with a flirty grin and wink. He glances behind Tabbie, quickly releasing her hand when he sees the look on her father's face. Elder Knight quickly extends his hand past Tabbie.
"And good morning, Bishop Kimball! All set for today?" Elder Knight asks as Bishop Kimball gently urges his daughter through the door. He gives the missionary a dry grin, accepting the young man's handshake.
"Sure am! It should be a good Sunday. Demi is finally home, both the girls are presenting talks today, the sun is shining. I have no complaints." Bishop Kimball says proudly before gesturing Elder Knight through the doorway. Elder Knight grins, looking over his shoulder at the Bishop.
"It must be nice having the whole family together, now that Demi's done her mission." He comments. Bishop Kimball beams before he looks down at Tabbie, wrapping his arm around Tabbie's shoulders.
"It sure is. Now, if only our dear Tabitha would decide when she wants to go on hers. The family would be four for four on serving a mission!" says Bishop Kimball, chuckling to himself as he gives Tabbie a slight shake. Tabbie rolls her eyes, trying and failing to shrug out of her father's grip.
"What would the Relief Society do without me? They'd wither away from boredom if I served." Tabbie says to her father with a mocking grin. Bishop Kimball claps his hand on her shoulder, grinning down at her.
"I assure you, they'll survive." He tells her, slipping his arm from her shoulders to step away, giving Elder Knight a quick nod as he leaves. Tabbie and Elder Knight grin at each other for a moment, Tabbie shaking her head after her father. Elder Knight leans forward, and for an instant, Tabbie's breath catches in her chest.
"I think he might want you to serve a mission. I might be mistaken, though." Elder Knight says with a knowing nod. Tabbie giggles, gesturing for him to follow her into the Relief Society room.
"You may be onto something there," Tabbie says. She points to a stack of chairs. "Do you mind helping me set the room up?" she asks. Elder Knight moves to the pile, lifting the top chairs. Tabbie pulls a stack of papers from her bag, organizing them on the front table.
"Of course. I'd love to help every way I can." He says in a playful tone. Tabbie pauses while pulling her books from her bag, grinning to herself.
"If only," she mumbles under her breath. She shakes the thought of Elder Knight sweeping her off her feet from her head, smiling to herself.
"What was that?" Elder Knight asks, a mischievous grin spreading across his face. Tabbie lowers her face, pressing her lips shut as she flushes an embarrassed red. She glances back at him as he continues placing the chairs. There's a flirty look in his eyes as he looks her over.
"No, nothing. It was nothing. I was talking to myself." Elder Knight scoffs, raising an eyebrow at her as he drops a chair into place. Tabbie turns her back to him, focusing on pinning her sheets up to the corkboard while she waits for the red in her face to subside. She listens to Elder Knight's steps moving back and forth across the room, failing to come up with anything to say.
"So, what's the lesson on today?" Elder Knight asks her. She glances back at him, then holds one of her papers out to him. He reaches out, his fingers grazing over Tabbie's as he accepts it.
"The importance of Christ-like compassion and forgiveness. I'm pretty sure he's just trying to teach me a lesson." Tabbie tells him, scoffing as she rolls her eyes. Elder Knight scans over the lesson plan. He nods, then passes it back to her.
"Why do you think he's teaching you a lesson?" he asks. Tabbie raises a finger, poking his chest.
"Trying to teach me. He's not winning this battle. No way." Tabbie says, a determined look on her face. Elder Knight looks at her stern face, grinning at her unfaltering rebellion. Tabbie cracks a little, giggling as she returns to set up the piles of paper.
"We got into a pretty big fight, and this is his way of trying to weasel out of the spotlight by throwing Jesus at me. Especially now that he's trying to get me to go on a mission, he's cracking down on pretty much anything he sees as a hindrance to getting me to change my mind." She informs him. Elder Knight drops the final chair into place in the rows, then walks closer to Tabbie.
"What is he expecting you to do, suddenly become all sex, drugs, and rock n' roll?" Elder Knight says with a grin. He leans on the table next to her, and Tabbie's heart skips a beat. He stands so close to her, she can feel his body heat on her arm, and see every detail of those sapphire eyes, the five o' clock shadow emerging already over his smooth skin.
"It's a long story. I think he's worried I'll just snap and rebel in a way that will take the whole family down with me." She tells him. Elder Knight shakes his head, gently pulling her chin to face him. Tabbie can feel his breath on her face as his eyes take in her features.
"If he's worried about the family coming down with you, he's got to be sitting on something pretty bad. Otherwise, I don't think you could do anything so bad on your own." Elder Knight assures her, slipping his fingertips from her chin. Tabbie feels her heart pounding as he looks into her eyes. It was like he wasn't just looking at her; he was seeing through her. Footsteps echo down the hall, and Elder Knight lifts himself off the table to stand a few feet away from Tabbie. Tabbie looks around, picking up her lesson plan.
"Well, just in case I manage to run us off the rails, the ladies of the relief society will have all the education on forgiveness and compassion they could need," Tabbie says as she looks at Elder Knight. He nods to her, doing his best to understand where she's coming from. Tabbie sees something pass over his face, some shadow of his own struggles with his faith. There's a short knock on the door. Tabbie turns to see her mother standing at the doorway.
"Elder Knight, your assistance has been requested for help with the sacrament. Tabbie Cat, how is the setup?" she steps in, placing her hands on her daughter's shoulders as Elder Knight makes his exit. Tabbie glances around.
"Pretty much done, honestly," Tabbie responds, shrugging as she looks at the papers pinned. "My notes are ready to go. I just need a roomful of people." Sister Kimball smiles, squeezing Tabbie's shoulders.
"The lesson you're teaching is very important. Carrying anger around with you every day does more harm to you than it does to anyone else. It's like drinking poison and waiting for your enemy to die from it." She tells her daughter. Tabbie gives Sister Kimball a deadpan glare.
"Have you two stopped your 'counseling' service?" she asks. Sister Kimball pauses, furrowing her brow at her daughter as she crosses her arms.
"Well, no. Of course not." She says. Tabbie shrugs her shoulders.
"Then you've done nothing worthy of forgiveness," Tabbie says, staring at her mother. Sister Kimball tosses her arms in the air with an exasperated sigh.
"Tabitha, we are helping people! It's a good thing!" she exclaims. Tabbie rolls her eyes. Sister Kimball watches as Tabbie crosses her arms across her chest, staring her mother down.
"And it runs contrary to absolutely everything you've taught me, Demi, this entire congregation, and everything you claim to believe in!" Tabbie shouts at her mother. Footsteps in the hallway pause. Sister Kimball clears her throat, moving back to the doorway.
"Just hurry up. We're about to start service." Sister Kimball says as she puts on a smile, disappearing into the hallway. Tabbie listens as her mother feigns a cheery laugh, dismissing the shouting. She leans on the table, letting her temper simmer down while she rechecks the room. before entering the main hall. She greets a few members, pausing to chat for a moment before taking her seat in the front of the congregation. Her father is seated on the opposite side of the podium, looking over the group. She looks at the sacrament table in front of her, where the missionaries are seated with two junior members. She locks eyes with Elder Knight, and he gives her a calm smile. His eyes linger on her as he turns his head away, turning his attention back to Elder Benson. Bishop Kimball stands at the podium, looking out happily at his congregation.
"Good morning, Brothers and Sisters, and welcome to members new and old. Let us first begin with a morning blessing." He lowers his head, closing his eyes. The congregation follows suit, the room in utter silence. He leads the opening prayer, a resounding echo of 'amen' rising through the room. Everyone raises their head, looking up to the Bishop. He runs through the week's ward updates; Brother Romney's work with the seminary, Sister Jacobsen's recovery, and the work remaining to be done. Finally, he turns to the sacrament table.
"Elders, will you please lead the blessing?" he asks. The Elders nod, getting the table prepared. Tabbie snaps to attention, looking up at Elder Knight, who catches her eye. He gives her a lingering look as he works. Tabbie feels herself melt under his gaze. The Elders complete the setup before sitting back in their chairs. Elder Knight sits on the edge of his chair, lowering his head to start the prayer. Tabbie watches as he closes his eyes, his hands clasped in front of him, speaking the prayer. The congregation echoes a solemn amen before the two young men opposite the missionaries stand to distribute the sacrament through the room. Tabbie makes eye contact with Elder Knight again as he leans forward to put his elbows on his knees, letting his hands hang. He gives her a soft smile as she tucks her hair behind her ear. One of the young men stops in front of Tabbie with the sacrament; she accepts the bread, passing the tray along. Her mother gives her a nudge as she chooses her bread.
"Are you going to make eyes at the missionary all morning?" she teases before popping the bread into her mouth. Tabbie rolls her eyes, shaking her head at her mother.
"I'm not making eyes. I'm just… happy." Tabbie whispers back to her mother. Sister Kimball shakes her head before closing her eyes and lowering her chin into her chest. Tabbie glances up at Elder Knight, who sits deep in prayer. Tabbie follows suit, lowering her head. She considers her prayers, thinking deeply about the fact that right now, she didn't know what to believe. The butterflies in her stomach left by Elder Knight's gave slowly decompose into an angry pit. She clenches her jaw, trying to think to the Heavenly Father. Tabbie opens her eyes, looking at her father, seemingly content in his prayers, then peeks at her mother from the corner of her eye. She breathes a deep sigh, trying to settle the fires building deep in her gut.
Finally, there's a shuffling of trays, trading the bread for water. Elder Knight stands, organizing the table as Elder Benson sits himself to offer the blessing of the water. Elder Benson clears his throat as Elder Knight takes his seat, crossing his hands in front of him as he leans forward. He leads the prayer, the congregation echoing after the Elder. A slight rustling of people sounding through the room. The young men stand again, parting from the table to distribute the water. Tabbie glances up for a moment, seeing Elder Knight's eyes on her knees. She shifts her leg, and he startles. He lifts his eyes to her face, grinning sheepishly, the flushing of his cheeks almost matching the red of his tie. She giggles quietly to herself as she flattens her skirt over her knees. Sister Kimball nudges her again with an elbow to the ribs.
"What? I didn't do anything!" she hisses to her mother. Sister Kimball raises a finger to her lips before returning to prayer. Tabbie lowers her head in prayer, thinking to herself. She struggled to think of anything to pray for; her sister was home safe, her parents were successful, if not unconventional. Tabbie had no interest in serving a mission, so it seemed pointless to pray over that. A pair of dress shoes enters her vision, and she lifts her head, accepting one of the small cups from the tray. She tilts the water into her mouth, dropping the empty paper cup in the center of the tray with the rest. Tabbie closes her eyes, and images of Elder Knight's lips come into her mind, thinking of how they would feel pressed against her own. She pictures his hands slipping around her waist, pulling her body into his as she wraps her arms around his neck. Tabbie chuckles softly to herself, giving her head a shake, clearing the thought from her head. She opens her eyes, peeking at the table as they finish the sacrament, leading the empty trays from the room. She hears a rustling, seeing her father lift his head from prayer, then standing. He nods to the men at the sacrament table, gesturing for them to join the congregation.
"Thank you, brothers, Elders. Please join the congregation." he looks out to his congregation with a pleasant smile before continuing. "Today's speaker is someone near and dear to my heart. My darling oldest daughter. Sister Demi Kimball has finally returned home from what felt like an eternity away across the very ocean. Sister Kimball, please, take the podium." He smiles, returning to his seat as Demi stands, beaming as she takes the podium, opening her notebook. Tabbie looks at her mother.
"I'll be in the Relief Society room for a bit; I want to go over my notes one more time." She stands, giving her sister a quick smile and a thumbs up before exiting the room. Demi looks at Tabbie quizzically but otherwise ignores her as Tabbie makes a quick exit. She hears the echo of her sister greeting the congregation as she steps into the hallway. Tabbie snorts to herself, listening to her sister deliver her speech exactly how she had been practicing it for the last three days. Tabbie shakes her head as she pushes the door to the relief society room open, dropping herself onto a chair, lowering her head into her arms.
Obrigado pela leitura!