Part 1797 – “Do We Need To Slow Down?”

John fastened his seatbelt and chuckled softly. “I feel like I’m sixteen years old again and I’m sneaking out my bedroom window to be with my girlfriend.”

“I can’t imagine you doing something that rebellious.” Clarice said.

He laughed. “Honestly? Neither can I. I never was one to break rules.”

“Now, that I do believe. Me, on the other hand?” She winked at him. “Oh, do I have stories I could tell you all about my wicked, wicked youth.”

“I can imagine you breaking rules, but wicked? Never.”

“Oh, you.” She laid her hand on his upper arm. “You are far too nice to me.”

“Why wouldn’t I be?”

She shrugged. “I’ll just say that I knew some very bad squares when I was younger. But you’re not like them. You don’t know how much that means to me, John.”

He took her hand off his arm and held it. “I do know. Okay, maybe that didn’t sound quite right. I don’t know what it means to you. I only know how much you mean to me.”

“John.”

Goosebumps raised the hair on his arms. “Yes?” he said breathlessly.

“John. John, kiss me.”

He leaned toward her. His seatbelt pressed into his neck, halting him. He unbuckled it and resumed his lean towards her.

Their lips met in a happy kiss.

John touched foreheads with her. “Clarice.” he murmured. “Are we going too fast? Do we need to slow down?”

She retreated to her seat. “What would slowing down entail? Do I have to stop seeing you? Or am I supposed to pretend I don’t love you?” She smiled slightly. “Are you supposed to pretend that you aren’t thrilled when I say your name?”

“I don’t know. It’s been so long since I’ve done this whole dating thing…since I’ve felt like this. I thought that part of me had died with her. I thought I’d never be able to tell another woman ‘I love you’. But there’s no denying it. I love you, Clarice Vansing, and it scares me a little.”

“Why?”

He sat back in his seat and stared ahead at the rectory. “Those three words make me feel vulnerable. I’m offering my heart to you. You could accept it or you could trample it.”

“You know I would never hurt you. Why would I? John, I would lose you and I would be alone again. Do you really think that’s what I want?”

He didn’t have to think about it.

He knew the answer. “No.”

“Darn right, no. And don’t you forget that, you delicious hunk of a man.”

John couldn’t help smiling at her. “Maybe we are going too fast, but I love you. It is the simple and best truth. I love you, Clarice Vansing.”

She leaned forward and gave him a quick kiss. “And I love you. Scout’s honor and one hundred percent truth.”

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