New Girl in Town
by Delia Latham
New town. New home. New job. And now a new church. All of the new in Taylor’s life was starting to get old.
A dozen or so steps led up to double oak doors under a stained glass cross. Pulling in a deep breath, she took the first step…and then the next. The story of her life for the past few weeks.
One hand on the massive pull handle, she lifted her chin, heaved the heavy door open, and slipped into a large foyer.
“Well, good morning!”
Taylor’s head snapped up in response to the pleasant greeting, and she swallowed hard. Church greeters should not look so sinfully delicious.
He wore a gray suit and a silver tie with some kind of geometric pattern that matched the teal shirt beneath it. Dark blond hair brushed his collar, glinting with gold lights where the sun’s rays caressed it through an overhead skylight. Warm hazel eyes crinkled at the corners when he gave her a welcoming smile.
He held out a hand, and she took it, shocked when the touch…well, shocked her. A little burst of electricity zipped from his hand to hers, and he laughed. “Sorry about that. I could blame it on my electric personality, but the truth is, this carpet and my shoes seem to create some kind of static. I’ve added a little spark to almost everyone I’ve touched this morning.” He narrowed his eyes. “You’re new, aren’t you? I know I would have remembered if I’d seen you before.”
“You haven’t.” She shook her head and managed a shy smile. “I’m new in town.”
“Well, I’d say this old town has just been improved upon.” His gaze drifted to her ringless left hand and he gave her a friendly wink, along with a bulletin he grabbed from a stack on a nearby table. He then offered a mocking bow and a grin. “I’m Everett, and it is my duty—and my pleasure—to make sure everyone feels welcome. Especially first-time visitors who are new in town.”
“Thank you.” Taylor chuckled, trying to keep up with his steady stream of conversation, obviously meant to put her at ease. And it was working. “I’m Taylor.”
He snapped his fingers and made a wry face. “You look like a Taylor.”
“I guess that’s good, since it is my name.”
Everett offered his elbow. “May I?”
She tucked her hand through his arm and he escorted her into the sanctuary.
“Where would you like to sit? Front, back…somewhere in between?”
“Closer to the back, please.” She drew a shaky breath. “Until I get my bearings.”
“You got it.” He led her to an empty pew and made sure she was comfortable. “Enjoy the service.”
He returned to his post, and Taylor gazed around the mid-sized room. Little groups of parishioners visited quietly as they waited for the service to start. Several made their way to where she sat and welcomed her.
By the time the pastor approached the pulpit and the praise team began singing a familiar worship song, she had begun to relax. Everett took a seat across the aisle and smiled when their eyes met, then he focused his attention on the service.
Afterward, she gathered her purse and Bible and looked up to find the handsome usher standing beside her. “Thank you for making me feel so welcome, Everett.” She smiled. “I always hate being the new person in the crowd, and feeling alone.”
“Alone?” He grinned. “Not while I’m around.” He walked with her through the mass of departing churchgoers. “I hope you’ll be back.”
He held the door open for her, but before she could walk outside, a woman’s voice rang out across the foyer. “Everett, will you be joining us today?”
“You know it!” He answered, then turned back to Taylor. “Several of us always have lunch down the street at the Corner Café on Sundays. I don’t suppose I could talk you into coming along?”
When she hesitated, he jostled her arm and gave her a lop-sided grin that revealed a single dimple in his right cheek. The jolt of electricity that traveled down her spine this time had nothing to do with Everett’s shoes. “Say yes.” He didn’t quite beg, but his eyes said he’d really like her to agree. “You’ll have a chance to meet a few of the ladies. Besides, I’d like to know you a little better myself. We might even find that the two of us have last names.”
“That’s the best idea I’ve heard all day.” Returning his smile, she took the arm he offered, and they walked down the steps together.
Twelve of them—Taylor counted. They seemed somehow less intimidating now. More like the pathway to a new beginning.