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Grant is an old-fashioned man who desires a traditional marriage in the truest sense. Deirdre loves the man and will do anything to restore their relationship and receive his forgiveness. Will Domestic Discipline make their marriage more intimate or drive them further apart?
Chapter 1: Settling Wrongs to Love Afresh
Twenty-one-year-old Grant Perkins settled into one of the comfy seats at a coffee shop located near his place of employment. It was too early to go into the office so he decided to spend some time taking care of work on his laptop while enjoying coffee and oatmeal.
However, before starting in on his breakfast, Grant put his hands together and bowed his head. Silently, he prayed, “Dear God, help me to grow in Your ways and be a good man. Please help me obey Your word and become a better Christian. Please bless my family, my friends, my boss and co-workers, and me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”
After his prayer, he opened his eyes and looked out the window. Grant saw that it seemed to have the makings of a good day: the sun was out and the clouds were light and fluffy. That was welcome after the gloomy past two days of dark clouds and off and on rain. His eyes swept around the coffee shop and lighted on the arresting form of a very attractive young woman seated by herself at one of the small round tables.
She looked about his age, and had thick, silky hair of a rich chestnut brown which she wore in well-combed waves around her shoulders. Rather pale, her skin had a distinctly creamy appearance. She had a small, softly rounded nose. She was slim, but wonderfully well-endowed up front.
Grant thought that she also had a very feminine shape, something that had always caught his fancy. She was wearing a cherry pink top with pretty puffed sleeves and large dark red buttons down its front along with a full skirt of white and cherry pink vertical stripes. The skirt fell to about the middle of her calves. She was wearing very large, round, gold-colored earrings. Grant strongly preferred a woman with a traditionally feminine appearance. He found the trend toward androgyny in appearance a turn-off because he thought the Bible was right when it said the man should not put on that which pertained to the female and neither should the woman put on that which pertained to the male. This woman looked like his type. He was heartened when he noticed that she wore a thin gold cross dangling from her necklace. He preferred to date Christian ladies.
For some reason, this very attractive young woman looked vaguely familiar to Grant although he was unable to place her. He could not remember meeting her previously, but wondered if he ever had.
Although Grant was not a real forward, cocky sort of guy, neither was he especially shy. He decided that it could not hurt to at least approach this woman, but he was always enough of a gentleman to accept a “no” if it was the answer.
“Hi, there,” he said to the woman. “Would you mind if I joined you?”
She looked up at him and smiled broadly. As she did so, she displayed pearly white teeth and dimples in her cheeks. Her green eyes lit up and the sparkle in them reminded Grant of emeralds.
“No, not at all,” she answered in a sweet voice.
Grant was not overly surprised that she appeared receptive. He had suffered his share of rejections, but was more often than not, quite successful with the ladies. He had the looks for it: tall, well built, blond-haired, blue-eyed, with regular features and an easy smile, he cut a handsome figure. Well-mannered and bright, he was also dependable, responsible, and a good conversationalist. Women liked him, all right, and he expected this one to like him too. Again he noted the necklace she wore and the thin gold cross. He knew that not everyone who wore a necklace with a cross was a Christian, but he took the wearing of one as a good sign. He certainly hoped this lovely young lady was a Christian.
He sat down across from her. “Looks like it’s going to be a nice day, doesn’t it?” he pleasantly asked. As he made this remark, he was reminded of a conversation he had once had with a friend who said, “Human beings appear to be genetically programmed to talk about the weather when they first meet.” Grant had realized that as a rather profound truth.
The woman smiled again and nodded. “Yes, it does,” she agreed. “I think it’s going to be a very nice day.”
Grant noticed that she had pretty rings of varying sizes and shapes on her fingers. He thought that this woman had a slightly old-fashioned look about her. Of course, she was not wearing a prairie dress and she did not appear to be auditioning for Little House on the Prairie or a part in a show about the Amish or anything else super-retro like but she was more modestly attired than many women in their age group were typically attired. Her blouse was high-necked and Grant believed that most ladies with figures like hers � even many who were good Christians�would usually want to show some cleavage.
Overall, this young woman possessed a look that Grant very much appreciated. He generally preferred that women appear to be secure enough in their sexual power that they not go overboard in flaunting it. A woman with a real overtly or sleazily “sexy” appearance tended to turn Grant off.
This woman appeared to know how to put on her make-up right as well. He did not like a woman to forgo make-up as it tended to make her look kind of washed out and almost like she either did not care what she looked like or was so overly confident that she did not believe she would benefit from any feminine artifice.� A long time ago, Grant’s sister Careena had joined a church that forbade its women to wear make-up. Grant had thought at the time that such an approach was more extremist than Christian so he had been glad when Careena came back to a more mainstream church.
The young lady in the coffee shop did not appear to have foundation on but she wore blush on her cheeks and powder dusting her face. Her lips were painted with a moist pink lipstick that automatically made Grant want to kiss those lips. She had on light mascara and eye shadows of rust and pink hues.
“Do you work around here?” the woman brightly inquired.
“Yes,” Grant answered. “I often come in this shop before going to work. How about you?”
“I live in the neighborhood,” she answered. “I work mostly from home.”
“What do you do?” Grant asked.
“I’m a transcriptionist,” she said. “Yourself?”
“I’m a manager at an investment company. What’s your name?” Grant asked with a smile.
“Deirdre,” she replied with a warm smile.
Grant’s smile dried up. He felt almost as if he had just been slugged in the stomach. Suddenly his guts churned with a smoldering pain. The inside of his mouth went dry and an evil sour taste filled it. Yet even as he felt these awful sensations, he experienced a strange sense of excitement, even elation. It’s her! �It’s got to be her!
“Is there something wrong?” she asked. Concern was evident in her green eyes and she lifted her eyebrows as she frowned and inquired, “Are you all right?”
“No, no, nothing’s wrong, nothing at all,” Grant lied. “I’m fine.” He forced himself to smile. “Deirdre,” Grant said slowly and with an odd sense of care. “That’s an uncommon name, but it’s very pretty. I’ve always liked that name.”
“Thank you,” she said. Again she showed him that dazzling, friendly smile.
“What’s your last name?” Grant asked, although he was almost certain he already knew it.
She confirmed his suspicions when she replied, “Summerhill.”
Deirdre Summerhill. Grant had never expected to find her again. Oh, God! Dear God in heaven! What a confusion of emotions swirled inside him: attraction, fury, fear, shame, and a years’ old deep wound mingled with a strange residual affection that could not douse the embarrassing desire for revenge even at this very, very late date. Deirdre Summerhill. Grant could not believe he had found her again after all these years � after all these many years.
“What’s your name?” Deirdre asked, a sweet smile playing at her mouth.
“Grant,” he answered, trying his best to keep his tone light and his expression calm, although he knew his inner turmoil was too great not to show in his face and manner. “Grant Perkins.”
“I think ‘Grant’ is a name that sounds dignified,” she observed with a smile.
“Thank you,” he said automatically, hoping against hope that she could not detect the overwhelming and contradictory feelings churning inside of him.
“You don’t happen, by any chance, to be related to the late Anthony Perkins, do you?” she asked. “You know, the actor who played in the original Psycho.”
“Not that I know of,” Grant answered with a shrug. “Perkins is a pretty common last name.”
“Yeah,” she said. Deirdre glanced at her watch and Grant realized that he had better be going if he wanted to arrive at work on time.
“I’ve got to go now,” Grant said. “My boss is . . . well, a boss. He doesn’t much like it when we come in late.”
“That’s fine,” Deirdre replied.
He got up, carrying his laptop, but as he walked to the door of the coffee shop, he slowed down. He looked back at her: she was so pretty, so feminine, so nice, so just his type. She was probably also a Christian woman who loved the Lord as he did.
However, Grant did not want to see Deirdre Summerhill again!� He could not stand to see her again after . . . after what she had done to him so many years ago.
He turned back to the door and took a couple more steps before again, pausing and turning back to look at her. Oh, but he had to see her again! He just had to!
Grant walked back to her. He took a deep breath and then said, “Deirdre, could I have your phone number? I’d like to go out with you sometime.”
“Sure, Grant,” she said with a beaming smile.
He took down her number.
She does not remember me, he thought. She does not remember me at all.
But Grant thought that he would never have been able to forget Deirdre Summerhill if he had lived to be one hundred years of age.
Deirdre Summerhill had been the cause of one of the worst, most scarring traumas of Grant’s childhood.� They had both been ten years old and in the fifth grade at the Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary School.� Grant had a powerful crush on Deirdre. She was so pretty and so feminine. A lot of the girls that age were tomboys. Deirdre always wore bright and colorful clothes, often pink, and had her hair styled and curled. She often wore ribbons in her hair that helped to set off her dresses or blouses and skirts. Her mannerisms spoke of a certain delicate, sensitive refinement. She was smart, too, and liked to contribute in class discussions.
Like a lot of other kids in that age group, Deirdre’s personality could vary radically from one time to another. She could seem like something of a show-off, dancing around or talking on and on about almost anything that happened to be going on or that was of interest to her. But she could also appear painfully shy and quiet.� Grant could be contradictory as well and in the same respects, sometimes brashly outgoing, and at other times almost painfully withdrawn.
It took him quite a long time to work up the courage to ask Deirdre a question he desperately wanted to ask�but eventually he found that courage. She was on the grounds outside of Stevenson Elementary School, where kids who took the bus home, waited for that big yellow bus. Grant walked up to her and the two of them exchanged the standard “Hi” of polite greetings.
Then Grant took a deep breath and forced himself to say what he wanted so very badly wanted to say to her: “Deirdre, I like you.” He emphasized the word “like” to mean that very special type of “like” that meant more than just a regular friend.
“Oh?” she said with a smile. She appeared startled. Grant feared that might not be a good sign, but he summoned up all the bravery he had in his ten-year-old self and forged ahead.
“Deirdre, will you be my girlfriend?” he asked.
She hesitated. The question seemed to dangle in the air. She looked away from Grant and then back at him. Her face sort of scrunched up.
Oh no, Grant thought. She was going to say 'No'. His stomach sunk.
Then she smiled brightly, her pretty green eyes glowing. “Oh, all right, Grant. I’ll be your girlfriend!”
Grant practically danced all the way home. Later that day, he was exuberant when he told his Mom and Dad, “Deirdre Summerhill likes me!”
“I guess you must like her, too, don’t you, Grant?” his mother asked.
“Oh, I do! I do!” the smiling ten-year-old boy happily answered. “She’s wonderful! She’s the prettiest girl in the school.”
“Beauty is only skin deep,” Grant’s Dad reminded him. “Beauty is as beauty does.”
“Yes, I know, I know, but she’s real smart, too, and real nice,” Grant gushed. “I think Deirdre is the nicest and smartest girl in the whole school.”
Grant and Deirdre spent a lot time together in the schoolyard. Grant looked forward to seeing her and talking with her. She was so fun!
Unfortunately, the other children did not agree with Grant. They sometimes picked on Deirdre, called her “weird,” and made fun of her.� They even called her “ugly.” Deirdre Summerhill ugly? How could they say that? How could they even think it? The other children did not know what they were talking about. She was the prettiest girl in the school! Why, she was one of the prettiest girls Grant had ever seen in his entire life.
One day, after school, a bunch of kids were brutally picking on Deirdre, following her and cruelly shouting insults at her.
It just about broke Grant’s heart to see his little lady love so mistreated. He could not get right beside her but from a distance he called out, “Don’t let them bother you, Deirdre! They’re just trying to make you nervous. Don’t pay any attention to them, Deirdre!” Oh, how he wished he could protect her! How he wished the other children could see lovely, smart, wonderful Deirdre the way he saw her! Although he managed to avoid actually crying, tears blurred his eyes as he watched those mean kids bully Deirdre.
Even their teacher, Mrs. Perez, noted how close Grant and Deirdre were. In an approving, even admiring tone, his Mom told Grant, “At the Open House, Mrs. Perez told me that you and Deirdre are ‘mutually complementary’ and are ‘good influences’ on each other. Oh, Grant, I’m so glad you’ve got such a nice friend and that the two of you seem to be helping each other.”
Then one awful day everything changed. Grant was on the playground, a little ways away from Deirdre. A boy who was close to her asked, “Do you like Grant?”
Deirdre looked at the boy and answered simply, “No.”
Grant felt like a knife had been stabbed right through his heart!
She had said that she was his girlfriend. They had never had a fight or even bad words between them. He had been certain that she was his girlfriend. But she just told someone else that she did not like him!
Grant was shocked, hurt, and humiliated.
That night, Grant tossed and turned in bed. Over and over that question and answer played in his mind. Oh, that evil girl! She had lied to him. She had made a fool out of him. The other kids were right to hate her. He hated her too! He hated her with all his heart!
Maybe he could have taken it if she had told him that she did not want to be his girlfriend anymore. That would have been awful, but it would not have been nearly as bad as overhearing her say to someone else that she did not like him. Dad had said, “Beauty is as beauty does.” Deirdre Summerhill was ugly! The other children had been right about her all along. Why had Grant ever liked her? Why had he ever wanted to be her boyfriend?
Grant went from protective boyfriend to Deirdre’s chief persecutor. He yanked on her hair and ran into her from the back so she fell straight to the ground. He called her “weird” every chance he got and delighted in it when others joined him in teasing that awful, rotten girl.
And yet, somehow, all that teasing and hair pulling and hitting just could not make up for the horrible, wrenching pain that she had caused him.
Do you like Grant?
Grant wanted to take a real and complete revenge on that weird, horrible, ugly Deirdre. But he had to do it on a day when the teachers would not be able to stop him or punish him for it. Grant went over to Deirdre on the playground and told her, “Wait until the last day of school, Deirdre! After school is over, I’m going to beat you up!”
He took a grim satisfaction from the fear on her face.
Other days he would come up to her and remind her of his plans. He loved seeing how frightened she looked. She deserved to be scared! She deserved to be terrified! There was nothing too bad for Deirdre Summerhill!
The last day of school came and, to his shock, and enormous disappointment, Grant saw Mrs. Perez held Deirdre’s hand and escorted the girl to the school bus.
Frustration coupled with sheer, unadulterated hatred churned in his ten-year-old chest. He could hardly stand to see his plan for Deirdre getting what she deserved being thwarted.
However, that was not the last awful shock for Grant on that day.�
His mother and father had been told about the hair pulling and the hitting and the threat to beat Deirdre up.
“Grant, why did you have to ruin a good friendship?” Mom demanded furiously.
“I didn’t ruin it,” the boy answered plaintively. “She did! It was all her fault.”
“Even if she said that she didn’t like you, you didn’t have any right to do those things to her, Grant,” Dad told him. “She can like you or not like you. You just have to accept it. Pulling a girl’s hair and hitting her and telling her you would beat her up � that was mean and cowardly and uncalled for no matter what she said about you! You have disappointed me terribly.”
“And me too,” Mom added.
Grant wished that the earth could just open up and swallow him. What a terrible day it was for him that he ever met that horrible, weird, ugly Deirdre Summerhill!
After their second meeting as adults, Grant and Deirdre began regularly dating. He learned that she loved to dance and was good at it. Unlike a lot of men, Grant also enjoyed dancing and he thought that the two of them made a good pair.� However, he did not enjoy dancing slow and close to her like he had with other women.
“I used to belong to a church that did not allow dancing,” Deirdre told Grant.
“Why didn’t they allow dancing?” he asked.
“Well, some churches think it will cause unnecessary temptation,” Deirdre explained.
“Yeah, my sister Careena used to belong to a real strict church,” Grant said. “They didn’t even allow make-up.”
“I think that sort of thing is going rather too far and getting away from the Biblical message,” Deirdre said.
“Same here,” Grant said.
She enjoyed taking long walks and reading and watching movies. Unlike a lot of women, especially those who appeared traditionally feminine like Deirdre did, she really enjoyed a good action flick and Grant was glad of that because he loved action movies.
He eventually learned that she was a virgin who wanted to save herself “for Mr. Right".
Grant dated Deidre for over a month and never kissed her � because he had never tried! If anyone had ever told him he would go out with a woman that long and not even try to kiss her, he would have told them that they were crazy. But he could not get close to Deidre, either physically or emotionally. It was almost as if he felt there was something radioactive or contaminated about her. There was an invisible, but brick-like barrier between the two of them.
Of course, he realized what it was. It was those old childhood memories connected with her. It had been over a decade ago, but a bitter aftertaste remained and Grant could not wish it away.
The situation seemed to baffle Deirdre as once when she was in Grant’s car, she asked, “Grant, why haven’t you ever tried to kiss me?”
“Oh, I don’t know, Deirdre,” he replied in a lackluster tone as he shrugged his shoulders.
“You do like me, don’t you, Grant?” she pressed.
Do you like Grant?
“Of course, Deirdre,” he said. “That’s obvious. Why would I keep asking you out if I didn’t?”
“I don’t know,” she said, sounding perplexed. “But you never tell me much about yourself. You ask about me, but you say almost nothing about you. I sometimes think you might not want me to get close to you.”
Once again, Grant shrugged.
When he was alone, he thought about what Deirdre had said. The whole thing was terribly, terribly frustrating and aggravating.
He wanted to see her. He did not want this relationship to end.
But he could not seem to really start it.
At least he could not get this relationship off the ground as long as she was attached to such horrible, traumatic memories. Was there a way to cleanse his mind of them?
On their next date, Deirdre was looking as pretty and tempting as ever. She wore in a forest green blouse and skirt with a dark brown belt accenting her narrow waist. Earrings in the shapes of golden unicorns dangled from her earlobes and she wore several brightly colored rings. Her long and wavy chestnut colored hair looked like it had been shampooed that morning as was especially gleaming. Lightly made-up as usual, she had on a coral colored lipstick and beige and brown eye shadows.
Grant told her, “Deirdre, I’ve been thinking about what you said last time. About me not kissing you, touching you or telling you much about myself.”
“Yes?” Deirdre asked. Her eyebrows lifted.
“There are reasons for that, but I have to talk with you about them privately,” he said. He cleared his throat.
“Sure, Grant,” she said.
At his apartment, they did.
“I want to get close to you, Deirdre, but I just can’t,” Grant said. He pursed his lips and looked down at his hands.
“Why not?” she asked.
He looked back at her. “Because you were the cause of a childhood trauma and, as much as I like you now, I still hate you for what you did to me then. I’m still mad at you and it’s making it impossible for us to be really together,” he confessed.
“I don’t understand, Grant,” she said. “A childhood trauma? What are you talking about?”
“You don’t remember Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary School and your fifth-grade boyfriend?” he asked, looking at her with narrowed eyes.
Deirdre gasped and her hands flew to her mouth. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “Grant! Oh, yes, I remember that.” She looked down at the floor.
“You were my girlfriend. We didn’t have a fight or anything but you said you didn’t like me,” he bitterly reminded her. “Someone asked if you liked me and you said ‘no.’ despite the fact that you had told me you would be my girlfriend and I thought we had been getting along great.”
Deirdre’s face seemed to crumple with pain. “Yes, I did,” she said sadly. “A boy asked me that and I said I didn’t like you because I thought the other kids might make fun of you because of me. I just couldn’t work up the nerve to find you and tell you that. I don’t know why, but I just get so tongue-tied sometimes. Oh, Grant, I’m so sorry!”
“That was no reason, Deirdre! I didn’t care what the other kids thought! When they made fun of you, it just made me want to protect you! You hurt me for no good reason at all. Then I ended up getting yelled at by my Mom and my Dad because of those mean things I did to you after I heard you tell that boy you didn’t like me. All I wanted was for you to like me and say you liked me and when you said that, I felt like I’d been crushed. It would not have been nearly so bad if you had just told me, ‘Grant, I don’t want to be your girlfriend’ or even ‘Grant, I don’t like you.’ That would have been bad, but not nearly as bad as overhearing you tell someone else that you didn’t like me when I was sure you were my girlfriend. It was a nightmare, Deirdre, and I can’t get close to you as long as it’s between us.”
“Is there any way we can put it behind us once and for all, Grant?” she asked.
Grant paused and took a deep breath. “I’ve thought a lot about this, Deirdre,” he said. “I think the only way I’ll ever get passed it is if you allow me to punish you for hurting me when we were kids.”