He awoke to velvety darkness that blanketed the familiar surroundings of his bedroom. Edging himself from under the covers, he slid his feet into slippers. A thrill of excitement jolted his insides and caused him to tremble. His wife continued to sleep, snuffling occasionally from the tears of the previous evening.
The argument last night had centered on his absence from the marriage bed several nights in a row. He alone knew, but his wife probably suspected, the cause.
He glanced at the digital clock. 2:00 in the morning. She was waiting for him, and she was an impatient lover.
Tiptoeing down the hallway, he passed the doors that opened onto the cherubic faces of his sleeping children. He buried his momentary qualm of guilt. Lately, he was able to ignore the feeling with far less pain than when he first began his adulterous affair.
She was waiting. He brushed by the shadows that had terrified him so many months ago.
They seemed to encourage him with their whispers. “Hurry! Don’t disappoint her!”
Even now he could see the soft glow in the den at the end of the hall. He could sense the subtle sweet fragrance she always wore whenever they rendezvoused. The scent made his heart beat louder and faster.
Wiping his sweaty hands on his T-shirt, he entered.
“Oh, Ryan, you came!” Her voice was vibrant and seductive.
“I can’t continue to do this!” Ryan murmured. “Joyce suspects something’s going on.”
“So what?” she challenged. “Are you trying to get rid of me?” Her laughter was throaty. “You need me and you know it!”
Her perfume was overpowering.
“I wish I’d never seen you! But you’re right. You are a hard habit to break,” Ryan muttered. He remembered praying earnestly that this temptation would be lifted from him, but God had expected him to take the initial steps. He had argued with Him that he was too weak, but God was silent. Did He even care?
Ryan was beginning to believe he was justified in carrying on this relationship. After all, didn’t the Bible say a man was better off dwelling in one room of his house than to live with a contentious woman? Maybe God had concluded that his marriage was a mistake, too.
His thoughts were becoming confused. He knew this was wrong, but his resistance was wearing thin. He knew he had to send his mistress away for good.
“Why don’t you sit down and we’ll talk about it? You can do most of the talking and I’ll listen. I always do," she whispered.
Ryan sensed that the shadows had come into the den and now blocked the doorway. The door creaked shut. No escape now. For one moment he regretted having come tonight.
“I have children,” he argued. “They need their father.”
“You hypocrite!” she hissed. “I’m worth more to you than your marriage, your children, your job! Admit it!”
“No!” whimpered Ryan, but he sat down in the chair and looked directly into her eyes. Her eyes were the most captivating part about her. She seemed able to reach inside him and weaken him instantly. One glistening tear at the corner of her eye could squeeze his internal organs until he was helpless.
His fingers reached out to touch her cold face.
A low growl started and intensified over the next seconds, frightening him. She had never responded to him in this way before. Her fragrance began to sour, like a forgotten piece of chicken left too long in the refrigerator.
Gagging on the smell, Ryan paused before clicking the icon that would shut down the computer. With one last mocking laugh, her image departed from his sight.
Wearied from his internal battle Ryan slumped back in the chair. The shadows swept about him taunting him for his weakness.
Ryan prayed and wept until no more tears would come. As he emptied himself, the shadows fled, leaving him almost alone in the den.
The Holy Spirit swept the battlefield clean and planted His banner in that area of Ryan’s soul. Then He began to strengthen the defenses in another quadrant in preparation for the enemy’s next assault.
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