Chapter Eight

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Eric sat in his roomon the floor. He felt like his whole world was crashing around him.He and Julia had delivered the news to Marcie. Now they were waitingfor Joshua to return home. Marcie was near tears when she had askedhim to go to his room. She wanted to talk to Julia alone and now hesat wondering what was being said.

Marcie stood at the sink washing a few dishes and not saying a word.Julia sat at the kitchen table peeling the potatoes her mother hadgiven her to prepare for a dish of scalloped potatoes. "You knowthis doesn't surprise me, "Marcie said. "No, it doesn't surpriseme at all. The two of you have always been to close." She dried herhands and turned and looked at her daughter. "I am disappointed,hurt, and maybe a little angry." She moaned. "Oh, Julia, howcould I have let this happen? I trusted you. I trusted Eric. I guessI..."

"Mama," Julia laid down the knife in her hand and stood. "Mama,I started it. It was me, it wasn't Eric. I seduced him."

"I'm surprised you even know that word." Marcie looked at herdaughter. She wasn't that sweet, little girl anymore.

"Mama, don't be mad."

"Your father is going to be beside himself."

The back door opened and Joshua entered.

Eric sat on his bed with his head bowed as Joshua paced across thefloor. Joshua stopped in front of him and shoved his hands in hispocket. Eric sat staring at Joshua's feet afraid to look up. "Iwant to punch you," Joshua said. "I want to punch you. I want tokick you out of my house, but there's something that stops me. Youknow what that is?"

Eric shook his head.

"I love you. I love you like you were one of my own."

"I'm sorry, sir. I really am." Eric raised his head to face theman standing before him. "I fell. I fell into a temptation whichhas always been there before me. Even when I was a little boy I lovedher. When I started getting feelings, you know, those feelings youget when you reach puberty, they were always strongest when I wasaround her."

Joshua sighed and sat down on the bed beside him. "Marcie and Igoing to sit down and discuss this. We have to reach a decision onhow we approach this situation. We have to find a way for Julia tohave this baby without the shame and humiliation we are all facing."

"I can't hide my shame." Eric said nearly choking on the tears hewas trying to hold back.

Joshua put his arm about the young man sitting beside him. He lovedhim and he understood for more than Eric could know. "Eric, I'm notangry. I forgive you and I need you to be strong for Julia."

Eric nodded.

Julia sat curled up on the window seat. Her eyes were staring out atthe trees dressed in their brightest autumn colors. She would beleaving in a couple of hours. Her mother and she were flying toDallas, Texas where she would be staying until the baby was born. Hermother had a cousin living there; a cousin Julia didn't remember evermeeting.

A tear ran down her cheek.

It was her birthday. She was now sixteen. No one had said a word. Noone had wished her a happy birthday, given her on gift or even a kisson the cheek. Sweet sixteen. She thought. I'm pregnant andthat's all anyone can think about.

Eric stood at the bottom of the stairs looking at her. He thought herbeautiful. He thought her as beautiful as the season he had come tolove because of her. How many times had they sat in that window seattogether on fall and winter evenings sharing cocoa and secrets? Hestepped over to her and ran his hand over her head feeling thesoftness of her hair.

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