Monday afternoon, Lacey sat hunched over her desk, her back to the door when I came in from classes.
“Hi, roomie!” I said.
She only grunted an acknowledgment of my cheery greeting. Was she angry with me? No, probably just concentrating hard on her studies.
I scrambled up to my loft bed and settled into read a mystery novel I had checked out from the campus library. It had a romance angle to the story as well, and I raised my eyebrows in delighted surprise when the love scenes became increasingly steamy.
One particular description of the heroine’s physical reaction sent an unexpected jolt through me. Almost unconsciously, I crossed my legs tightly as I re-read the scene. Wait. What am I doing? Lacey’s right there.
Just then there was a rap on their door. I froze. The knock repeated, more loudly. Lacey still made no move to answer it.
“Who is that knocking at my door?” I sang out as I climbed down. I hoped the song would cover my flustered embarrassment at what I had been reading. I swung the door open, revealing Phoebe Daniels, the outgoing CSF Chief Shepherd, and Becky Burke, who would be taking her place next year.
“Hey, Giselle, do you always give your guests a musical greeting?” asked Phoebe.
“Just on special occasions.” I gave a sheepish grin and felt my color rising.
“Well today is a very special occasion,” Becky said. “Can we come in?”
“Sure, what’s going on?”
Lacey turned from her studies and approached the door. “Hi, Becky, hi, Phoebe. What’s up?”
Phoebe and Becky squeezed onto the narrow black futon under my loft, and Lacey and I each pulled out our wooden desk chairs.
Phoebe cleared her throat again. “Well, first of all, we were so excited to see both of you volunteer to be part of next year’s leadership team.”
“We think you both have awesome hearts for God,” Becky added.
“Wait, Becky, there was something I wanted to say first. ”As you know, we don’t usually pick sophomores to be on the Shepherd team, but we have to remember that God’s ways are not our ways. Sometimes the decisions we make turn out to surprise all of us—”
“I’m sorry,” Lacey interrupted, “but I’m dying of suspense … and I’m sure Gigi is too. We know what you’re here to tell us, so if you don’t mind, can we hurry this along?”
“I’d really like to give a little more explanation of our thinking process first,” Phoebe said. “This year, we were really focused on using a strategy to guide our choices. We want the right type of leaders to get our foot in the door to reach different segments of Elk River’s student body, especially those underrepresented in CSF.”
Lacey leaned back in her chair and folded her arms. “Like who?” she asked.
“Well, everybody really, but especially the Greeks,” Phoebe said. “That’s where you come in, Giselle. Word on the Elkie Grapevine is that you and Brad Talbert are an item.”
Lacey raised her eyebrows at this information. “You never said anything to me,” she said. “How long has this been going on, Giselle?”
Before I had a chance to reply, Becky and Phoebe continued their explanation.
“I don’t know him that well,” Becky said, “but everyone knows his name after the amazing season the Elkie baseball team’s had the past few years. Imagine how God could use someone like that, someone with so much influence on campus. Is he a believer?”
I shifted in my seat. “Uh, well, I think he’s Catholic. We’re still getting to know each other really … I could try to bring it up in conversation and find out for you if you want.”
“You have the right idea,” said Phoebe. “What we really would like is for you to use your position as Brad’s girlfriend and your position as CSF Shepherd to start influencing the Greeks for Christ.”
The legs of the chair made a harsh squeak against the linoleum floor as Lacey sprung to her feet. “This is ridiculous. You’re picking her? Just because she’s missionary dating some frat boy?”
“I’m not finished. I can’t believe this! My oldest brother is the one who invented the whole Shepherd system when he was here twenty years ago. I started praying that God would let me serve Him as a CSF Shepherd before I can even remember. I deserve this way more than her.”
I was surprised at the disdain in her voice.
Lacey headed for the door. “Don’t tell me this decision was made with prayer – you’re just looking to win a popularity contest. Rob was right about all of you.” With that, Lacey stormed from the room and slammed the door.
We sat in uncomfortable silence.
“Sorry about that, Giselle,” Phoebe finally said. “Becky, don’t say it.”
“Can’t help it. I told you so! We should have just told them they were both on the team right up front.”
“Wait,” I said. “Lacey made it?”
“Of course she made it – as a legacy, she almost is guaranteed a spot on the team. It’s too bad she reacted this way. Now I think we might have to reconsider. We were planning to pick you both – and Ian too. With you three being so close, it seemed like a great foundation for a strong group of sophomores on the Shepherd team next year.”
“Who else did you pick?”
“You three, plus the Finley twins, and Dwayne Jurgen. I don’t know if you’ve met him. He’s a junior,” Phoebe answered.
“But now it seems Lacey might not be quite as spiritually mature as we thought. We might be looking for an alternate to take her place,” Becky said.
I stayed silent, too stunned to immediately jump to my friend’s defense. Lacey’s disdainful tone echoed in my ears. I nodded slightly to myself as I remembered what I had been reading when the CSF leaders knocked on her door. Lacey was more right than she knew.
“I see you feel the same way,” Phoebe said, seeing my nod. “Since you know her better than we do, we’ll have to take that into serious consideration.”
“Giselle, you’re so sweet,” Becky said. “I know you’d never want to go on record as speaking against your friend. And you didn’t say anything, really. But that little nod says volumes. I’ll have to talk it over with the others, but if it were up to me, Lacey’s out. We’ll have to meet again and decide whether to replace her with an alternate or only have eleven Shepherds next year.”
No matter how I tried to explain, Becky and Phoebe’s minds were made up. My stomach roiled. My best friend on campus would never realize her lifelong dream, and it was all my fault. How would Lacey ever forgive me?
I called home that night.
Mom was thrilled to hear that I’d been picked as a CSF leader. I left out the fight with Lacey and my own uncertainty as to my fitness for the job. I asked to speak to Daddy. “Deposits are due on the Germany trip soon, and I still haven’t asked if he’ll help me out.”
“Don’t get your hopes up Giselle,” Mom warned before handing the phone to Daddy.
After some small talk with him about how my studies were going, I mentioned the trip. I started by describing the itinerary in glowing terms, emphasizing that it would be educational.
Daddy interrupted. “Giselle, I can see where this is leading. Let me save you time and energy. The answer’s no. Do you want me to be broke in my old age? I need to save every penny for retirement.”
I rolled my eyes, grateful that we weren’t Skyping. I wanted to retort, but bit my tongue, holding back what I really wanted to say: “Every last penny except for the few thousand you spent on that new Beemer, or on tee times, or… ”
“I was hoping to use the money from the settlement with the oral surgeon,” I lied.
“Out of the question. I already put it in Oma’s trust. That money is to be used strictly for your education. If I had my way there wouldn’t be any trust at all. I’d rather have you pay your own way – how else will you ever understand the value of money?”
“Fine, I’ll find another way to get it.”
“That’s the spirit. But this whole thing sounds like a waste to me. If you have extra money, you should be saving it for the future, not gallivanting across Europe as though money grows on trees.”
I tried not to indulge my hurt and disappointment. Why did I expect him to have changed? I straightened my shoulders and forced my voice into cheerful tones. “This is important to me. I have money in savings and I’ve already planned to work my butt off this summer to earn the rest of it. I wouldn’t have even brought it up, but … I do need one small favor. The first deposit is fifteen hundred bucks. It’s due in two weeks, and I’m about seven hundred short right now. Would you consider floating me a loan?”
“What do you think?”
“I’m hoping you’ll say yes. That’s why I asked.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m not a bank. Besides, don’t you technically still owe me for the damage to the Miata?”
I didn’t say anything. Would he ever let me live that down?
“That was supposed to be a joke, sweetie. The point is, if you’re such an adult now, I’m sure you can get what you want without help from your mother and I.”
I gave up further arguing and quickly got off the phone. Not only would Daddy not lend me the money, he was still harping on the biggest mistake I’d ever made, borrowing his new convertible without permission my senior year of high school. As much as I tried to tell myself it was the drunk driver who ran the red light, I still felt an enormous wave of guilt every time he brought up the incident.
He was right about one thing – I was an adult and could figure out how to make it to Germany without his help. In fact, I had just received a pre-approved credit card with cash advance checks in the mail along with Mom’s care package.