Stories from Lightport, Massachusetts
More stories from your favorite characters in The Front Row Series
Stories from Lightport, Massachusetts
More stories from your favorite characters in The Front Row Series
Today’s story takes place during chapter two of What Hindered Love. What were Micah’s thoughts and feelings when Chloe showed up again at Community Fellowship? Read on to find out!
Summary: Micah Barrett has never given up on the tiny spark of hope in his soul where Chloe Wren is concerned, even if everyone thinks he's crazy. And then he sees her again after five years . . .
Five years ago, Chloe Wren had declared that she never wanted to see Micah Barrett again. Then she had proceeded to make good on that promise. His family and close friends thought surely Chloe’s declaration would be impossible to accomplish. How could she and Micah parent a child together and never see one another? But Micah had known Chloe better than that. When she set her mind to something, there was no changing it. Especially when it came to protecting her heart behind those walls of hers.
But that didn’t mean that Micah didn’t look twice every time he saw a flash of blonde hair. It didn’t mean that he didn’t attempt contact whenever he received those rare text messages about their son. After a while, he started to wonder if he was merely seeing things when those flashes of gold flitted in the corner of his vision. There was hope, and then there was desperate insanity.
So when he saw a familiar figure with long blonde hair darting for the door during the worship set at Community Fellowship, he thought at first he must surely be imagining things. The last place Chloe Wren would ever be was at the church his father pastored. Even so, he almost lost his place in the music staring at the door she had just slipped out of. He literally almost dropped his guitar when his sister-in-law Kate followed the figure. Could it really be? Could Kate have convinced her cousin to come to church?
But wait . . . if Chloe really was here, so was Luke. Micah’s eyes darted down to the front of the sanctuary. Sure enough, there was the familiar dark head of his five year old son, returning the flag he had been waving to its bin. As if Luke could sense his father’s gaze, he looked up and grinned at Micah, then waved. Without even waiting for a response, the five year old took off to join the other children who were lining up for Sunday school class.
Micah blinked in amazement, startled out of his shock by Hannah’s voice in his in-ears. They were transitioning to another song. He pulled his concentration to his music stand to be sure he had the right chords. Once he was strumming the familiar sequence, his eyes drifted back to the sanctuary doors. Suddenly, his heart pounded in his chest. There she was. Chloe. Just as beautiful as ever. She was here! He could scarcely believe it!
The rest of the worship set passed in a blur, and when Micah took his seat on the front row beside his mother, he kept turning around and craning his neck to find Chloe, but she was too far back to pick out. His mother gave him several odd looks and finally leaned over to whisper in his ear.
“I’m guessing you saw Chloe.”
His eyes grew wide as he took in his mother’s expression, which didn’t look particularly pleasant, actually. Of course his mother knew Chloe was here, she would have seen Luke too. Elizabeth Barrett patted Micah’s knee in a comforting gesture, but her eyes and the firm set of her jaw seemed to hold a reprimand.
Well, he didn’t care what his mother thought. If Chloe was at church, the hope that he still held – barely flickering, but still there – wasn’t in vain.
Micah bolted for the back of the sanctuary as soon as his father’s closing prayer ended, even though half the congregation tried to stop him to chat. Being the son of the pastor meant everyone felt as if they knew him, everyone assumed he was their friend, so after every service he and Josiah felt pressure to greet and chat with pretty much everyone. Today, Micah didn’t really care if he hurt someone’s feelings, he was a man on a mission.
He came to a stop at the sanctuary doors, turning in a circle, scanning the crowd.
“She slipped out already.”
Micah turned towards his brother who held his two year old daughter Haley in his arms. Josiah shifted Haley, avoiding Micah’s gaze.
“You knew she was coming today?” Micah asked in an accusatory tone.
“We weren’t sure . . . “ Josiah trailed off as Micah gave him a withering glare, “Micah!” he called out after him as his brother bolted out the door.
He only got as far as the lobby when he collided with Kate.
“Oh my God!” he gasped, dropping his hand to hover over his sister-in-law’s burgeoning stomach.
Kate laughed merrily, “I’m fine, Micah! Bumping into a pregnant woman isn’t an unforgivable sin.” She regarded him intently as she straightened her back, “And she’s gone anyway.”
Kate looked at him sympathetically as he visibly deflated.
“She didn’t want to see anyone,” Kate further clarified.
“Me you mean,” Micah corrected, “she didn’t want to see me.”
“You know,” Josiah said, coming up behind his brother, “for two people who have a child together, you have horrible communication.”
“Josiah,” Kate scolded. Then she turned to Micah and laid a comforting hand gently on his arm, “She came, Micah. That’s a start.”
That tiny flicker of hope inside of him sparked upward.
“Micah, would you please stop wearing a rut in my carpet.”
Micah sighed and turned towards his mother who was spooning batter onto a cookie sheet. He wandered from the living room and into the kitchen, swiping his finger into the bowl of batter, being sure to snag as many chocolate chips as possible.
“Get your finger out of the bowl!” his mother reprimanded, moving to swat his hand. Before she could, he popped his finger into his mouth and grinned as the sweetness melted onto his tongue. His mother’s smile contradicted her scolding.
“Why are you making cookies, anyway?”
Elizabeth shrugged, “I just felt like making cookies. And what better excuse than my grandson coming over?”
“You spoil him.”
“Aren’t I supposed to?”
Micah thought about that as his mother slid the cookie sheet into the oven. His mom had to be more than a grandmother to Luke in the early years. Just one more reason Micah was thankful to God that he had conquered his addiction. Now his mother got to just be a grandma.
Micah still had so much nervous energy. Where were Chloe and Luke? He went to the window and peeped through the blinds.
“You don’t want her to think you’re a stalker,” his mother said behind him.
Micah turned and regarded his mother’s rigid stance. “You don’t agree with this at all, do you?”
Elizabeth sighed as she came closer. “She said she never wanted to see you again, son. Maybe it’s time you move on. There are so many other wonderful young women –“
Micah lifted his hand to cut her off. Lately, his mother had been asking when was he going to date again, when was he going to settle down, when was he going to find a mother for Luke. Couldn’t she see? Didn’t she understand?
“There’s no one else for me but Chloe, mom. There never will be. If there’s even the tiniest hope that we can have a relationship again, I have to take it.”
Elizabeth dropped her eyes for a moment, and when she lifted them again, they were filled with sadness. She reached up and cupped her son’s cheek. “I just don’t want to see you get your heart broken again.”
“Too late for that, Mom. My heart has pretty much stayed broken for the past five years.” He heard a car pull up outside, and his eyes lit up at the same time his heart flipped over in his chest. “They’re here!”
Micah headed for the door and stepped outside just in time to see his son running full tilt around the house and down the front walk. His grin widened as he crouched with open arms to receive his little boy’s hug. He heard footsteps and looked up to see Chloe standing there, her expression looking startled. He would have to proceed with caution. She looked like a skittish deer ready to bolt.
Micah stood, ruffled Luke’s hair, and looked over his shoulder at Chloe, a nervous smile on his face and his hands stuffed in his pockets. Elizabeth’s voice called out from inside the house about fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. Luke whooped with excitement and raced inside.
Micah’s gaze took Chloe in like a man who had seen water again after years in a dry desert. Her golden hair was gathered in a messy bun which couldn’t seem to contain the wavy tresses. Tendrils curled fetchingly around her face which glowed with minimal makeup. Even the nursing scrubs she wore couldn’t hide the inviting curves of her figure. In short, she took his breath away. Then again, that was nothing new. Micah smiled at her, trying to convey casual confidence even though his stomach was flipping over, just like the first day they met. He suddenly realized he was standing there, staring like an idiot. So he spoke, and he inwardly winced at his awkward choice of words.
“After you were at church Sunday, I thought maybe you wouldn’t mind seeing me,” his smile faltered as he took in Chloe’s cold glare. “Judging by your reaction, I was wrong.”
Chloe crossed her arms and tilted her chin haughtily. “You’ve had five years of opportunities to see me, Micah.”
Micah’s defenses went up, and anger flared within him. Chloe had a way of stoking every fire in his soul. “That last time in court, you made it pretty clear that you never wanted to see me again.”
“And you made things pretty clear yourself. Or have you forgotten what you said to me that day?” Chloe’s chin quivered as she spoke.
Micah looked at her intensely for a moment, tenderness in his gaze. “I hurt you terribly, Chloe. Not a day goes by that I don’t regret that. Won’t you ever forgive me?”
An eternity seemed to pass before Chloe sighed. “Of course I forgive you, Micah. You’re Luke’s father.”
It wasn’t what he wanted, but for now, it would have to be enough. Micah stepped closer, unable to resist the temptation to be closer to her. His heart thrilled when she didn’t step back. Chloe tipped her face up, and he felt himself drawn in to the sparkle of her amber eyes. He admired the dusting of freckles across the bridge of her adorable nose, and resisted the urge to thumb that irresistible dimple in her chin.
He swallowed hard. He wanted to grab her and kiss her. Instead, he asked her sincerely, “I’ve changed so much since then, Chloe. Can’t we be friends?”
He felt slightly wounded when Chloe’s mouth twitched in a suppressed laugh at his suggestion. “I remember you asking me that years ago. Didn’t really work for us, did it?”
He noted the breathless nature of her voice, the slightly flirtatious delivery of her words. A smile tugged at the corner of Micah’s mouth and his eyes darted to her lips.
She took a step back, and Micah hated the sudden distance between them. “I don’t think we can be friends, Micah.”
As she turned to go, he remembered a heated, passionate kiss followed by similar words. Lord, he prayed inwardly, I’m in this for the long haul, but she just might kill me in the meantime.
“Will you come back to church?” he called after her.
Chloe gave a brief glance back. “I doubt it.”
Micah quirked an eyebrow this time when he smiled. “I know what that means, Wren.” Her back stiffened at his use of the nickname, so he changed tactics. “Your friends miss you.”
Chloe ignored his statement, turning her back again and walking quickly away. He waited until he thought she was out of ear shot before adding:
“I miss you, Wren.”
Feeling slightly dejected, Micah turned to head back inside. After closing the door behind him, he saw Luke standing there, eyes wide, a chocolate chip cookie clutched in his little hand. When he looked up into Micah’s eyes, Luke’s own flashed with indignation. His eyes may have been the same color as Micah’s, but the irate look in them right now was all Chloe.
“Mommy is mean not to be your friend.”
Micah ran a hand wearily down his face. How did he handle this? He knelt before his son and ran a hand over his unruly hair.
“Mommy’s not mean,” he said carefully, “she’s hurting. We just have to be patient with her, okay?”
Luke’s face fell, but he nodded. Micah needed to get his son’s mind off his mother, so he grinned and tickled the boy.
“I see you got me a cookie,” he teased.
Luke’s eyes widened, “This is my cookie, Daddy!”
Micah made a half-hearted swipe for the cookie, and Luke squealed as he darted away. It only took Micah two strides to overtake him, and he swept Luke into his arms, biting the cookie in half as he did so.
“Daddy!” Luke giggled, “Not fair!”
“Not to worry, my boy,” Micah declared as he ran into the kitchen, carrying Luke like Superman, “there’s more where that came from.”
He lowered Luke over the cookie sheet, and the five year old snatched two handfuls. Micah made an over-the-top evil laugh as his mother half-heartedly scolded that they would ruin their dinner.
Elizabeth Barrett shook her head as she watched her son and grandson fall into a heap onto the couch. She refrained from reprimanding them for all the crumbs they were scattering everywhere. Her son only laughed when his little boy was around. She wasn’t about to miss out on that sound.
Elizabeth glanced towards the front door. She had overheard the conversation between the two former lovers, and it only confirmed that what her son had said was true. Micah would never get over Chloe Wren. She just prayed his hopes weren’t unfounded.
She longed to hear her son’s laughter more often.
I am a former English teacher turned homeschool mom of three who writes Christian romance novels on the side. You know, in my huge amount of spare time.