Beasley came prancing up to the bench as pleased as punch with himself. He sat in front of Reagan and looked towards the path they had taken. Reagan heard a twig snap and turned his head. He stood and gasped, “Marissa? What are you doing here?”
“You've talked about this place so many times that I knew you'd be here this afternoon. Reagan, I'm so happy to see you.”
She ran to him and hugged him. She wouldn't let go and Reagan was feeling uncomfortable. This was his and Prudy’s special place. No one knew where it was.
“How in the world did you ever find it?”
“I think God led me. When I saw you go out the side door I knew where you were going.”
Reagan thought, “Even I didn't know that.”
“But, I didn't know where it was. I figured it had to be near your home since you and Prudy would come up here. I drove to the house and up the hill to the garage, and Beasley was sitting there. I started to the door, but he ran towards the woods, so I followed him. He kept going and looking back to make sure I was there. Then when I could see the clearing, he ran to you. Like I said, I'm sure God led me.”
“We need to sit down.” As they sat, he looked over at Beasley. Can a dog have a smug look of satisfaction on his face? In light of his recent conversation with God, and didn't
He mention Marissa by name,
Reagan put two things together. He was being set up by God and two He didn't choose Beasley. Beasley was a miracle God had sent into his life. Perhaps a miracle that saved his life.
“When did you know it was me? I've been here for days. No one in town recognized me. No one in church even recognized me.”
“It had to be God. Friday night, I was in the cemetery visiting Buddy’s grave. I never go at night. Honestly, I find cemeteries spooky in the day so I can't imagine why I went at night other than being led. I hadn't been there for a long time, but I was drawn. I was already there when you arrived.”
“You heard the door squeak, didn't you?”
“Yeah. I heard the truck, but I thought it kept going until I heard the door. I peeked over a big grave marker and saw you. I didn't know it was you. But then I saw Beasley.” Outed by a little cocker spaniel! “Of course, I still wasn't positive and then you went to the grave and started talking to them. I left. I knew you needed privacy. I know Beasley saw me.”
“I sat in the parking lot Sunday morning like a stalker. But again, I knew you were going to be there.”
Reagan's mind whirled as he thought, “You knew I was going to be there? I didn't even know I was going to be there. I was going to New Life Fellowship.”
“I waited for you to go in, and I followed you. It had to be you, but it didn't look like you, so I knew I had to get nearer to you. Reagan, everything about you has changed except one thing.”
“Okay, I'll bite, because I don't even look like me at all.”
“Your eyes. You have the most amazing eyes I have ever seen. And when I sat next to you and saw those eyes I knew it was you. But, church wasn't the place to say anything, and obviously, you don't want anyone to know you're here.”
“I don't know why I'm here. I guess there's a part of me that loves this town. I need to attend to a few things. That much, I do know. Beyond that, I don't even know what tomorrow holds.” He thought of the encounter with God just he had minutes before, but he wasn't about to share that with her.
She reached out and took his hand. He felt those feelings he was trying to suppress. No, Prudy’s only been gone a year and a half. He squeezed her hand. What was he doing?
“Reagan, when Buddy died, I lost the love of my life. If you hadn't been there for me, I don't know what would have happened. I didn't know Jesus. I had nothing to cling to. I saw that tunnel with no light. I remember you accepted my lack of faith and walked with me at my pace.
I didn't tell you everything just now. Friday night, I was there to let Buddy go. I held on to him for a long time. I felt that if he wasn't with me then I didn't have any right ever to be happy again. But, I think Buddy wants me to move on. I know that you are dealing with is the same thing.”
He started to speak as she put her finger to his lips.
“Prudy and RBJ have only been gone for eighteen months. That's not that long. You'll never forget that love. I know I won't and I don't want to. But time does heal, Reagan. It really does. I can't say how long, and now I may sound like a slut on the prowl and I don't care.
Reagan, God brought me here today! God brought you here today. I have something to say and I believe it's of God, So I have to say it. If it's not...” Her voice trailed off and then she continued. "I've felt close to you for a long time. I probably know you better than anyone except Prudy. The day I started working for you is the day I began falling in love with you.”
Reagan was stunned. Again she put her finger to his lips.
“It didn't start as a physical attraction. You never knew how I felt as time went on. And you never would have as long as Prudy had lived. Even though I found Christ, the feelings didn't go away, but he suppressed them that I might not sin. I loved Buddy and I felt as if I was cheating on him.
Then when you left my life crumbled. I wanted to be there for you as you were there for me for as long as it would take. My feelings changed. I didn't want to possess you. I wanted to comfort you. I wanted to be an instrument God used in your life to help you heal. And then you left.” She wept.
“They say you never know what you have until it's gone. Just having you in my life each day was enough. But when you left everything was gone. I lost Buddy and then I lost you. I don't know what I would have done without my girls. They held me together.
There is also that corny saying that if you love something let go. If it returns it yours. If it doesn't it never was. Friday night I let Buddy go...but I also let you go. Reagan, right after I let you go you returned.
I know everything happens in God's time. He decides. You've returned, but it may not be God's time, and I'll wait. But you need to know this Reagan Lamb. I love you."
At those words Beasley gave out a little woof. Remember, Beasley is a dog of few words. When he speaks it's important. Reagan knew to listen when Beasley barked. It had saved him from making a big mistake more than once.
Reagan started speak, and Marissa put her finger to his lips for the last time. "Don't say anything."
She rose and turned towards the path. Beasley rose too, and looked at Reagan as if he was saying, “You got some more thinking to do. I'll walk her back to her car.”
She was ten feet down the path and she stopped and turned back. “Thanksgiving is Thursday. The girls and I will be alone. I'll set a place for you.”
Reagan’s mind was whirling just knowing the things of which Paul was capable. The one thing he knew for sure. He was the one person in town who wasn’t the least bit afraid of Paul Barnes and that scared him. Reagan was concerned for Micah and Charlotte. They were family. He loved them like his own child. He had lead Charlotte to the Lord. He had been through so much with Micah and Katie. He had cried the day Micah gave his life to Christ and when Katie came to the altar and took Micah’s hand he was the only one who knew what was happening. He felt a tremendous burden had been lifted when he took down Vaughn Johnson. That had freed Katie from her bondage, set Micah free from prison, and reunited the Pierce family.
Reagan rose from the table with Tinker's announcement still whirling in his head. What to do? He could always use his special forces skills to seek out the enemy as he had done so often in Afghanistan and then turn his reconnaissance information over to Sheriff Reynolds. That wouldn't betray the oath he’d taken at RBJ’s birth, would it? Yet, there was a part of him that wondered if he could stop himself from badly hurting the pure essence of evil that Paul Barnes represented.
He pushed back his chair, rose, and moved around the table shaking hands and hugging the New Hope staff. He looked to Beasley’s bed, but Beasley was already at the door sitting and looking up at the doorknob as if to say, “If only I was taller I could do this myself.”
Beasley was a rescue from the Parkersburg Humane Society. Interesting story. Reagan had a cocker spaniel as a child. His mom got him the dog after his dad left and his mom thought a dog would make a great companion for a little boy with no male role model.
He never told Prudy about his childhood friend until they moved to Glencoe. It was her suggestion he gets another cocker. He had walked into the Humane Society and said, “I'm looking for a tan cocker spaniel. Do you have one?”
The girl on the desk replied, “Mister, I've been here six years. In all that time we have never had a cocker spaniel turned in for adoption. I'm sorry.”
Needless to say, Reagan's hopes were dashed. He turned to walk out and paused. “All these dogs needed a forever home. It won't hurt to look.”
“Miss, can you take me through the kennel just to see what you have?”
They opened the door to the kennel and the loud barking of nervous and frightened dogs began. None could understand what they had done wrong and why they were there. Reagan wanted to give every one of them a home, but that might be pushing his luck with Prudy.
As he approached the next to the last kennel the Adoption Counselor said, “That’s Axil. I'm sorry, but he is the last dog in here.”
For some reason, Reagan walked to the last kennel and peered in. There in the back, huddled on a mat, lay the most pathetic little dog he had ever seen. Most would hardly recognize this little runt of a dog for what he was... a tan cocker spaniel! Tears came to Reagan's eyes as he gazed at the little dog uncontrollable shaking as he lay on the mat. He had found him!
“I'll take him.”
“You mean Axil?”
“As much as I'd like to I came here to adopt a cocker spaniel and that's what I'm going to do.”
“Mister, we don't have a cocker spaniel.”
He walked back, took her by the hand, and led her to the last kennel. Pointing to the back of the kennel he asked:” What's that?”
Her chin dropped to her knees as she gazed to the back of the kennel aghast at what she was seeing. ”Mister, I'm the only one that does the intake of dogs and cats that are being given up. I can assure that when I left last night that dog was not here.”
”Maybe not, but he is now and I'd like to adopt him.” Reagan didn't understand the significance of what was happening at the time.
Nobody at the Humane Society could figure out where he came from or how he got there. It was only later that Reagan thought he might know and now after five years, he was sure there was something special about Beasley. But he never shared those thoughts with anyone, including Prudy.
Everyone who knew Beasley thought he was adorable, but almost everyone felt he was quite deaf and not particularly bright.
Beasley was ten years old and that makes him over 70 in human years. So he was a little old man dog. He was losing his hearing, but he had what women refer to in their husbands as selective hearing. Beasley heard what he wanted and he comprehended much more than anyone thought. Today, in that room, he heard everything.
Beasley was becoming a little stubborn in his old age. On occasion, Reagan would speak to Beasley and he wouldn't budge. He assumed Beasley was becoming deafer and he spoke louder. Still, Beasley would ignore him. Beasley had heard him. He was just ignoring him because he didn't want to do it and he knew at his age he didn't have to. Plus he was so stinkin’ cute.
So you see, when you understand a little more about Beasley you begin to see how intelligent he really is. If he's dumb, he's dumb like the proverbial fox.