After the 20 minute car trip, they pulled into the underground parking spot of the entertainment venue where graduation was held. Jane shut her car door and walked over to his side as he put on his jacket. Soren could not stop smiling.
‘Can you please stop looking so pleased with yourself?’ / ‘Do you have to look so pleased with yourself?’ Jane was nervous that they were in public together.
‘Can I trust you not to do anything silly tonight?’ Jane requested.
Soren was feeling playful. ‘Only if you kiss me now.’
She happily complied. Then wiped the lipstick off his mouth with her fingers. Her tongue! The sensation was so sexy. Both failed to notice the students walking to the lift who spotted them.
They took the lift up. With her black and red gown over her arm, Jane 'See you later' d Soren and joined the Philosophy teacher to climb the stairs and then assemble in the robing room. He mingled in the foyer with his peers until it was time to go in. Now standing in the audience as the Seminary band played From Strength to Strength, Soren struggled to prevent the smirk displaying on his face as the heavily credentialed Faculty and Council members party ascended the stage area and snaked into their allocated seats.
Ordered alphabetically, Jane Prescott, was right in the middle on the stage, partly hidden by those in the front row seats. The Principal began his opening remarks, welcomed them all to this auspicious occasion, but the grandeur of the event was all but lost on Soren who only had eyes for Jane. All else paled in comparison.
The graduands assembled and he absent-mindedly applauded them. They rose, they sang, they sat. He watched her.
Jane was equally distracted. Surely this night would soon end, they could sing the final hymn and she could take off early to have a drink with Soren… Even though she was on stage and could clearly be seen, she was in a trance.
Col Benson’s words echoed in her mind. ‘You could be in a lot of trouble... …Guys only think about one thing…’ Was Soren only thinking about one thing?
Her colleague fidgeted beside her. She shuddered to think what the Faculty and Council members around her on the stage would think if they knew she was liaising with a student. The idea that she could very well be the topic of salacious gossip vexed her. She shook the thoughts from her mind and tried to listen to the speaker. Again, Jane was conflicted about her relationship with Soren. Her parents certainly would not approve. She doubts they would even receive him in their home. Her single friends though, almost 40, they would think he was her toy boy. That concept was so unappealing. Jane had always considered herself to have class and had certainly strived to make the most of her parents’ generous private education provision. And the age difference. It might not seem so important now but when she turned 50 he would only be 39, still young and handsome whereas she would be old and ugly. He wouldn’t want her then. She wouldn’t be attractive to him then. Jane made a mental note to research boundaries to prevent the temptation of intimacy going any further. They needed to talk about less kissing and touching. Every time they were alone they were kissing too much. And Soren’s hands were just about all over her… Jane licked her bottom lip as the events of the afternoon surfaced in her mind. Soren was practically too good to be true. Such good looks, intelligence, maturity beyond his years, multiple interests, adventurous, caring, kind… and Christian. Importantly, he was living for Christ. Why was that when they were together, they forgot about living for Christ? Forgot practically everything… They were a couple. They were seeing each other… Despite meeting under the circumstances... Soren… And then she remembered that she had arranged a lift home with Siobhan and wouldn’t be having a drink with Soren after graduation ceremony was over and she once again refocused on the speaker.
Soren, whilst happy with the way the afternoon had passed at Jane’s, was discreetly keeping tabs on Jane as he mingled with the graduates and their families and friends over tea in the foyer. Word spread around that a group of students was going for a drink nearby so Soren agreed to join them for an hour as a poor alternative to spending more time with Jane who had a lift home with Siobhan.
Soren was about to leave when he spotted Jane who was heading out of the foyer and back onto the 1st floor. He followed her. Although less crowded, there were a few people about, mostly students and no faculty. David Pinbacker, lecturer in Ethics, stopped Jane and they starting chatting. Seeing that he could watch Jane from across the room from this position, Soren joined into a circle of his peers who were catching up. Pinbacker was probably interested in Jane and was clearly flirting causing her to laugh. Soren waited 6 minutes for their conversation to conclude and when Jane exited the faculty gowning room he pulled her to a space to the left, a dimly lit corridor. ‘Alright, I know we’re not a couple.’ Annoyance on his handsome face, Jane started to say hi but Soren spoke over the top of her. ‘It’s one thing to hide our relationship, it’s another to flirt with a man right in my face.’ ‘I wasn’t flirting. He was with me.’
‘I saw your face. You were enjoying it.’
‘Okay. I’m sorry,’ Soren could see that she meant it, but it still hurt. He decided he needed to walk away before he said anything he would regret, upsetting her and before they were spotted. ‘I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have…’ he trailed off, self-conscious.
Jane gave him a sympathetic nod. ‘You shouldn’t have been following me. I thought we could be mature about this…’ she nervously glanced towards the remaining students a short distance away and then back to Soren’s penetrating eyes. Emotion swept through her. She adjusted her handbag strap and shifted her feet as she debated internally what to say. ‘Let’s talk later.’
‘I should go.’ Soren abruptly left her, went down to find Harry and the group to leave.
The next day.
‘I saw your status update.’ He confronts her. ‘You’re going to Emily’s housewarming on Saturday night. You lied to me, by omission.’ She was on her way back to her office, she steps to the left, into the narrow space between two buildings.
Jane willed no one to choose that moment to exit the building. She didn’t want to discuss this here but she could tell by his tone that he was upset. She turned to face him. ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you.’ His teeth and fists were clenched, he was shaking slightly.
‘I don’t think we should go together. Everyone is older than you.’
‘And?! What’s the big deal? We’re not the same age. Does it matter? A lot of couples aren’t. We’re together. Who knows, they might not even notice.’ His anger began to subside as her dulcet tones affected him.
She laughs. ‘Oh, they’ll notice.’
‘Jane.’ He tried to convey how much he cared for her. She took his hand and they walked to her unusually large corner office which overlooked the street. She put her bag and laptop down on her desk. The sun was setting, bathing the room in dark orange rays. Soren surveyed the street at the window as Jane joined him, her last words hanging between them. Soren put his arms around her from the back and held her as they watched the people making their way home below.
‘I want to meet your friends. Your sister also. All your family. Your colleagues.’ He told her slowly, with sentiment.
‘I want to go with you when you go out. Birthdays, holidays. Christmas, Easter. I want it all. With you. You and me.’ He put his arms around her a little tighter. ‘I want you.’ He reassured her.
They were no longer teacher and student.
Soren needed an answer to that but Jane didn’t know how to tell him it was too soon. ‘You can come on Saturday. I’m not ready for you to meet my family or colleagues. Let’s start with friends.’
They hugged and then Jane sent him home.
2 days later.
Jane’s phone lit up. ‘What are you doing right now?
‘Going shopping. Would you like to come? Meet me outside Sears, ground floor at 11.’
‘See you then. X X’
They’re strolling through the mall, relaxed and comfortable.
‘Is there anything you need?’ Jane quizzes him.
‘If there’s a shirt sale, I could try on a few shirts?’
They enter the men’s clothing store and Jane picks out dress shirts for him to try on and he heads into the change room.
‘I like the blue and the green.’
When she returns to see how it looks he pulls her into the dressing room and draws the curtain. She gasps in surprise. Giggling, she protests: ‘Soren! No!’
‘Yes!’ he holds her tightly to prevent her from escaping and finds her mouth in a wet, passionate kiss. Her hands move from his neck down his chest as the new shirt is all but ignored now.
The sound of footsteps approaching make them pause, their breathing heavy. They wait for the footsteps to continue away, before Soren assaults her again. His tongue finding hers.
Soren thinks he has made his point and ends the kiss and steps back, watching Jane. ‘I think I'm going to faint.’ It is rather warm in here, Soren notices. Her face whitens and Soren realises she is serious. He rummages through her abandoned handbag on the floor for her water bottle as she slides down the wall of the change room, her vision fading.
‘Take a seat, drink this.’ He orders, fanning her with his tshirt.
She sits and stares into space, unfocused. Soren puts the bottle in her hands and she drinks.
‘Did you eat breakfast?’
‘I had… a piece of toast…’
‘That’s it? No juice? Cereal? fruit?’ He was like a doctor reprimanding her.
After a minute she recovers.
‘What do you think it was?’ concern frowning his handsome face.
‘It was too warm… I think it was… arousal.’ Jane meets his eyes.
Regathering his clothing, he then makes sure she’s okay, and they head to the food court for a cold slurpee. ‘I’m sorry.’ He tells her. ’I promise I won’t pull you into anymore changerooms.’ They laugh about it.
‘I need to talk to you about something and it’s not because of me fainting in the changeroom. Boundaries.’ Soren nods in response. He’s heard this before. One kiss in greeting and one upon departure. Those were the rules. Soren didn’t like them but he didn’t have a choice.
‘We’re both committed Christians. This means no sex before marriage. It also means that God is watching us and would like us to remain holy and perfect before we are united in marriage under Him. To treat each other respectfully. If we cannot be trusted to be alone together, at night, or even not only at night but alone... we’re kissing too much...’ (she lowered her voice so as not to be heard by those around them.) ‘It’s too soon to talk about marriage, which is not what I want to talk about...’ she was babbling but Soren could see that it was necessary to listen to her and to nod understandingly.
‘Because who knows? we may not be the ones who God has intended for marriage. Until we know... we need to stay safe from sexual immorality of all kinds. This will be easier if we can both restrain ourselves...’ she blushed and she struggled to find the right words. ‘Let’s be honest: a kiss has got both of us... excited.’ She stopped there, not knowing how to go on so Soren jumped in and agreed. ‘I’m glad you brought this up. I’ve been thinking the same thing. And I want to ask you not to wear provocative clothing, and flirt less, and try to laugh less – if you can.’ Soren tried to be serious but he could hear how ridiculous it sounded.