Chapter 20

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I looked at him in horror as it dawned on me what he was saying. They would expect him to talk to them. Panic rose in my chest. If the spirit of God had given him the Lamanite words, then the Spirit had taken them away.

"Just repent then." I said. "Fix it!"

The concern on his face was real.

"What if it's not that easy?"

"What if it is? Everyone's depending on you. Gid's depending on you."

He huffed. "Gid's probably got a plan of his own. He's not waiting on us."

"Then what are we doing here?" I looked around. "With them?"

He rolled his eyes.

"Lamech, what is it about me that puts you so on edge? What is it that frightens you so much? Is it something I can change?"

"You can't change who you are," he said quietly.

"Zeke said we should be honest with each other. And the truth is, Lamech, the reason I get testy with you is because you confuse me so much. You hold me close for a moment, and then you push me away."

"I know. I'm sorry. It is not your fault."

Had I heard him right?

"It is. I've acted like the child I am."

"And I have acted like the wicked man I am."

"A wicked man would never have had the gift of tongues in the first place," I insisted quietly. And then I realized why Lamech did not feel he was good enough for me. He didn't feel he was good enough for anyone. "Don't you know God loves you?"

His jaw tightened.

Immediately, I pulled him to the side of the trail so the others could pass us. Most of them tried to avoid staring, but I met many sets of eyes. I thought of what Zeke had said about trying to have a relationship with everyone looking on, everyone giving an opinion, everyone scrutinizing the things we did. I put them all out of my mind, and I took both of Lamech's hands in mine and squeezed them.

"Lamech, go into the woods. Reconcile yourself to God. You cannot be led by the Spirit until you are worthy of it once more."

He shook his head. "True repentance takes time and thought, prayer and action. I cannot just do it on command."

"You must! All it takes is sorrow for your sin. Are you sorry for what you did?"

"Do you even know what I did?"

I dropped my eyes when I said, "You kissed me and you cut my lip."

His laugh was a little ragged. "Don't you think it's strange, Sarai, that the Spirit would not withdraw from me when I participate in this massive lie we have staged, but it leaves when I kiss you?"

My eyes shot up to his. "But we are lying to preserve our safety! We are lying to save Keturah's family, and God has said that we may protect our families unto bloodshed."

He gave me a strange look.

"I know the teachings of the prophets." I folded my arms. "Other things too. I'm not as stupid as you think I am." I withdrew a few steps and turned to watch everyone else as they made their way ever farther south.

"I don't think you're stupid, Sarai." But the way he said it, halting and sheepish, made me think he hadn't exactly thought I was smart, either.

"You think a woman who is pretty cannot be smart."

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