“The hardest choice she ever had to make was between true religion and true love.”
Rose Gluck thought she had everything in life. Just out of high school, she spent her days working as a pioneer minister of her Jehovah’s Witness faith, going door-to-door teaching others about the Bible and the happifying future God had planned. She thought she knew what it meant to be happy, but things would change when Wyatt True shows up.
Drawn to the dashing young brother, Rose experiences feelings that she never knew existed. Meanwhile, despite his vow of singleness, Wyatt can’t but help to fall for the beautiful young sister. But the Presiding Overseer of the congregation has his own plans for Rose. Will Rose find eternal happiness?
At the next meeting, Rose walked up to Clinton and discreetly handed him a small, folded envelope. Clinton eyed the envelope suspiciously for a minute and then hesitantly opened it. He dropped the engagement ring into his open hand.
“Hopefully you can still get that Nintendo you wanted,” Rose said.
“It’s a Neo Geo,” Clinton corrected her gently.
“Well, when you get it I’d like to give it a try.”
“It’s mainly fighting games, but,” He managed a smile “, you might enjoy them.”
“Maybe I will,” smiled Rose in returned.
Clinton put the ring back in the envelope and then stuffed it into his navy blue blazer pocket. “Thank you,” he said.
“Thank you, for sticking up for me the other day.”
Clinton nodded. “I didn’t really want to be engaged right now anyway. It was my mother’s idea.”
With that Rose’s engagement officially ended in the same lackluster manner as it started. The next time she saw Clinton she would be watching him play video games while eating Cheetos. Things appeared to be heading back to normal. It was welcome after all the of the trouble. On the way back to her seat Rose passed Wyatt.
“Ten days!” he said excitedly, displaying ten fingers for the number of days remaining until the Bethel trip.
Rose beamed in response. It was good to have a friendly face to counter the cross looks she was getting from the congregation, the strained looks from her grandmother, and the mean glares from Jasper and Betsy. Rose longed to go on the trip, but she wasn’t sure about her motives. She tried to remind herself that the trip was about visiting God’s house and not spending time with a brother. Nevertheless, each night as she lay in bed all she could think about was Wyatt True and spending an entire week with him. If only Jasper Green would let her go.
During the meeting she tried hard to put her best foot forward by listening intently and participating with comments. Jasper Green had a question and answer part and as soon as he asked the first question, Rose’s hand shot up to answer. Despite the fact that hers was the only hand hanging in the air, Jasper looked around as if he didn’t even see it. Eventually another hand popped up and Jasper immediately called on them. Rose was ready to assume she was just overlooked, but it happened every time she raised her hand. Desperate, Rose started waiving her hand, trying to draw his attention. It did no good, Jasper wasn’t going to call on her. Had the elders taken away her commenting privileges? The decent thing would have been to inform her so she wouldn’t humiliate herself by waving her arm around like an air traffic controller. Rose sighed. If Jasper didn’t even allow her to comment, how would he ever let her go on a bus trip?
After the meeting, Rose’s grandmother turned to her and said, “Let’s go talk to Brother Green about this Bethel trip business.”
As the two walked over to Jasper, Rose tried to hold on to hope. If he refused to let her go, she wouldn’t be able to take it.
Rose’s grandmother approached Jasper, who was at the back counter talking to the literature servant. “Excuse me Brother Green, Rose and I would like to talk to you about something.”
Jasper turned to look at them. “Yes, sure, of course.”
“Perhaps in private?” the grandmother suggested.
Jasper agreed and the two sisters followed him to the back room of the Kingdom Hall, as the eyes of the rest of the congregation followed. Rose would have preferred to have stayed in the auditorium where the gossip could have been kept to a reasonable minimum. When they walked through the door they saw that Wyatt True was there, placing some books back on the library bookshelf.
“Did you need the room,” he asked.
“Yes,” said Jasper. “The sisters had a private matter they wanted to talk to me about.”
“It’s okay if Brother True stays,” said the grandmother. “This concerns him.”
“Does it now?” said Jasper, casting a curious glare toward the younger elder. “It doesn’t surprise me that Brother True was the instigator in all of this.”
“I’m not sure exactly what you are implying Brother Green,” said Wyatt.
“The breakup,” said Jasper bluntly. “I’m sure you weren’t sent here from MTS to meddle with relationships.”
“Actually I was sent here because the elder body needed some help,” Wyatt said matter-of-factly. “Listen, if Rose decided to end an engagement that had nothing to do with me. That was her decision and as she is the one who had to live with the decision for the rest of her life, I don’t fault her one bit for exercising care and caution. Would you rather she charge into a relationship recklessly and end up in a divorce — that is something Jehovah hates more than breaking an engagement.”
Jasper’s eyes seethed. Rose had never heard anyone speak to him in that way, but, she was glad that Wyatt had come to her defense.
“I didn’t mean to disturb you brothers,” Rose’s grandmother said. Her calm manner helped to soothe the tense situation. “I simply wanted to ask you Brother Green if you thought it would be okay for Rose to go on a bus trip to visit New York Bethel. I thought it might help get her head back together, but wanted your say on the matter.”
“So what does this have to do with True?” Jasper said.
“Brother True has offered to accompany Rose on this bus trip. I’d feel better is someone from our congregation was there to keep watch on her.”
Jasper glanced over at Wyatt and then studied Rose for a minute before speaking. “Yes, I think that is an excellent idea. You never know what kind of indiscretions our young people can get involved in. It is good to have someone to keep an eye on them.” Jasper smirked.
Rose couldn’t believe her ears. Was Jasper actually going to let her go? Her heart was leaping with joy and praising God for working this terrific miracle.
“Is Brother Nelson from Fulton arranging this bus trip?” Jasper asked.
“Yes,” replied Wyatt.
“Okay, I’ll give him a call to make sure he’ll also keep an eye on things,” said Jasper. “But, I think this will be good for everyone.”
The day of the bethel finally trip came and Rose was going over her final preparations while her grandmother was helping her pack her bag. The trip would last for over a week, but Rose only had three dresses and one skirt with two blouses. Because she would have to wear her meeting clothes while touring the Watchtower facilities, she would have to rotate them. She also had a long jean skirt that she wore around the house, which she thought might be good while touring the printing factories.
“Do you know which sisters you are going to be rooming with?” asked her grandmother, while stuffing socks into the old yellow Samsonite suitcase.
“I don’t know,” said Rose. “I guess I’ll find out.”
“I hope you’ll be careful,” her grandmother said, placing some underwear into the suitcase. “Please stick with the group at all times and stay away from young single brothers.”
“There’ll probably won’t be any on this bus trip,” Rose joked.
“Well there are thousands of them at Bethel and I want you to come back home,” her grandmother said. “Even if things are on hold with you and Clinton, I don’t want you to give up on him completely.” Her grandmother had a hard time accepting the breakup, even though Rose and Clinton had moved on.
Rose ignored the subject and gave her grandmother a reassuring hug. “Don’t worry Grams, I could never leave you.”
When she was all packed they loaded into the station wagon.
“Are you sure you are going to be okay driving?” Rose asked, climbing into the front passenger seat.
Rose’s grandmother said, “You don’t think your old Grams forgot how to drive, do you?” As the old woman drove down their road in a herky-jerky manner, almost side-swiping their mailbox, Rose wondered if she really had forgotten.
They stopped by Wyatt’s apartment to pick him up. He was all smiles as he loaded up his bags in the back of the wagon. “Zero days!” Wyatt said to Rose, making an ‘O’ with his fingers. “Are you excited?”
“Oh yes, very much so,” said Rose. “Would you like the front seat?”
“No, it has been awhile since I’ve been chauffeured around by such a beautiful woman,” he teased the grandmother.
Rose’s grandmother pulled away from the Camelot apartments, giving the car way too much gas and squealing the tires. Wyatt grabbed hold of the handgrip above the door to steady himself and Rose shot him a look of fear.
“It must be that new high octane gasoline,” her grandmother made excuse.
From there they went to pick up Viola who Rose had talked into going along with them to the bus drop-off so that she could help the grandmother keep an eye on the road on the way back.
Viola walked up to the car and announced, “If Imogene is going to be driving then I definitely need to be sitting up front or I’ll be sick for days.”
Rose’s grandmother shook her head at her friend while Rose got out of the front seat and moved to the back.
With everyone situated once again, the car pulled out en route to the Fulton Kingdom Hall. This time the elderly woman hit the curb sending the group bouncing and Rose sailing over to Wyatt’s side, her hand landing on his upper thigh. She recoiled in terror hoping no one had noticed, but of course it caught Wyatt’s attention who was grinning profusely.
“Imogene if you are going to kill us, at least wait until after the trip!” Viola cried out.
“Quiet you!” her grandmother shot back just as quickly.
“Jehovah, save us!” Viola cried in mock terror.
The trip went a little longer that it should have because her grandmother feared the Interstate and stuck mainly to the State roads. Rose offered that she or Wyatt could drive, but her grandmother declined saying that she needed the practice.
“And how!” interjected Viola.
Eventually they arrived at the Fulton Kingdom Hall where the large bus was loading up with other smiling passengers. Rose imagined that it would be something like a school bus and she was surprised to see the large Greyhound bus repainted with “Paradise Tour Lines” down the side.
“Wow look at that bus,” said Rose’s grandmother. “Brother True you be sure to thank Rose’s mystery benefactor for us.”
“I’m certain he knows how thankful you are,” replied Wyatt.
They got out of the car and Wyatt helped unload their bags.
Viola startled when she looked at Wyatt’s bag. “Is that a Louis Vuitton?”
Despite living in the middle of nowhere, Viola tended to be a bit of a fashionista and know about these things.
Wyatt shrugged. “I don’t know, they were a gift from someone back east. Probably a clever fake from some back alley of Chinatown.”
“You be sure to keep Rose away from those chinamen’s back alleys,” her grandmother implored.
“Don’t worry,” assured Wyatt. “You know how these bus tours are. Rose won’t get within a mile of anyone who isn’t in the Truth.”
“Well I’m entrusting you with her life. If you don’t come back with her —“
“We’ll assume that you two eloped and lived happily ever after,” interjected Viola, causing Rose to blush. The thought had secretly crossed Rose’s mind during those sleepless nights leading up to the trip.
“I’ll be sure to keep Rose away from all of those Bethel boys and make sure she comes home.” Wyatt looked over to the bus. “Well we had better get going.”
Rose gave her grandmother a tight hug. “Thank you very much for letting me do this. It means a lot.”
“Well every Witness should be able to go to Bethel at least once in their life. I’m happy you’ll get that chance,” the grandmother said, gripping her tightly, as if fearing she would never see her again.
“I hope you have the time of your life,” said Viola, patting Rose’s back.
“Take care,” said Wyatt taking both his and Rose’s bags and heading toward the bus.
“Wait you forgot the book!” Rose’s grandmother called out.
Rose ran back as her grandmother grabbed a book from off the car dashboard, handing it to her. Rose gave her grandmother one more quick hug and returned to the bus where Wyatt was placing their bags in the underneath luggage compartment.
“Are you going to be doing some deep research?” Wyatt asked pointing to the bright red book, Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God.
“It was Gram’s one request that I get Brother Franz to autograph her book.” Rose wrinkled her face. “Does he even do that sort of thing or is that just weird?”
“It’s weird, but we can always ask.” Wyatt laughed.