“I can’t go in there.”
Shelby stared at the glass door with the frilly purple curtain. The plastic sign hanging from the door handle read Open. Stick-on cursive letters discreetly identified the nature of the business. Loving Alternatives Crisis Pregnancy Center.
“You have to, Shelby. It’ll be okay. They’re really nice.”
Ashley’s attempt to reassure her best friend was met with a stinging retort from Shelby.
“How would you know? You’ve never had to do this.”
“Yes, I have.” Ashley was all-too familiar with Loving Alternatives. This was one of the first places she visited when she moved to Weatherton two years earlier.
“What?! When?! Why haven’t you told me? You and Matt have had sex? We’re best friends – you’re supposed to tell me everything. I told you about me and Garrett. I thought you were Miss I’m-going-to-wait-until-I’m-married. I thought you took the purity pledge at church.”
Shelby’s crisis was momentarily forgotten as she rapidly fired questions and accusations at Ashley.
Ashley knew she should have confided in Shelby earlier. Shelby was the first girl to befriend her when Ashley’s family moved from the city to this sprawling suburban area. The two girls, now seniors at Weatherton High, were inseparable. They shared everything – almost.
Both girls attended First Christian Church. Most of the families from their local community did. But Shelby went primarily for the social part – and because her parents made her go. Ashley, however, was totally committed to serving God and living a life pleasing to Him.
“No, Matt and I haven’t had sex. We both took the purity pledge, and we both meant it. Our first time together will be on our wedding night. That’s what God commands, and that’s what our future marriage deserves.”
“But …?” Shelby encouraged Ashley to continue. She could tell there was some ‘dirt’ in Ashley’s story – and, besides, the longer Ashley talked, the longer Shelby could avoid the dreaded moment inside the purple-curtained door.
“Remember I told you about Robbie?”
“Yeah – he was your first boyfriend, before you moved here, right?”
“Right.” Sour bile formed in Ashley’s mouth as she remembered that final night with Robbie.
“You mean … you and Robbie had sex?”
“Yeah. Just once. I thought I was in-love. This was the guy I was going to marry. My parents were making me move three hours away from him. I wanted to show Robbie how much I loved him. I wanted to share something special with him. I wanted to give him a reason to wait for me.”
Ashley’s glistening eyes stared blankly into her best friend’s confused face.
“Pretty stupid, huh? After we moved here, I missed a period. My mom found this place and brought me here. I wasn’t pregnant.”
“You told your mom you had sex with Robbie?” Shelby couldn’t imagine Ashley’s mom being okay with that. And there was no way she was going to tell her mom about her and Garrett.
“I had to. I didn’t know anybody here. I didn’t have my license, so I couldn’t drive myself anywhere. It was really hard, but she was pretty cool about it. She was disappointed for me. We cried together. She’s the one who got me involved in the purity program. I can talk to her about anything now. I just wish we had really talked about sex before I made my stupid mistake.”
“Does Matt know?” Shelby asked the question Ashley had hoped to avoid.
“You have to tell him.”
“I know. I’m just so afraid. What if he leaves me? He’s been saving himself for his future wife. A virgin wife. A pure wife. And I’m not her.”
“Ashley, he loves you. Aren’t you always telling me if I confess my sins, God will forgive me of my sins? No matter what? God forgave you, and so will Matt.”
“I know you’re right. I don’t want to talk about me now. We need to go inside before the center closes. I’ll be praying for you while you take the pregnancy test.”
Thirty minutes later, Shelby greeted Ashley with a big hug.
“I’m not pregnant. Thank God. And Linda, my counselor, explained everything to me about second virginity. I made a pledge to God that I’m going to stay pure until my wedding night. And I’m going to go home and talk to my mom about what’s been going on.”
“I’m really glad for you. And I’m going to go right now to talk to Matt. Pray for me.”
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