Forever Young (Chapter 3, page 1 of 5)

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Chapter 3

By the time they reached the front doors of the church, everyone else had already gone inside. The girls sat on wooden benches to the right and the boys to the left. Every boy wore the same gray trousers and vests with white shirts. The mischievous gleam in their eyes as they sized up Samantha like a cat about to pounce on a mouse made her want to bolt for the exit. The girls whispered as she passed, some stifling a laugh by putting a hand to their mouths.

With nowhere else to sit, Prudence led Samantha to the front pew, occupied only by Miss Brigham. "Oh, you look lovely," Miss Brigham whispered.

"Thanks," Samantha said. With her feet still throbbing, she felt anything but lovely.

All whispering and giggling stopped the moment a side door opened. From what Prudence and Miss Brigham had said about the reverend, she expected a stern old man. Instead, Reverend Francis Crane's face had smooth, tanned skin and a thick head of sandy hair. Beneath his black suit she could tell he had a lean, firm body. She blushed at those thoughts and looked away as Reverend Crane ascended the steps to the podium.

"Blessed be thee, my children," the reverend began. "The Lord has brought us another beautiful morning to praise His name. We begin today by reciting the Lord's Prayer."

Samantha did her best to follow along, trying to mimic Prudence as she recited the prayer. The other kids spoke the words in a rote deadpan, as if they'd been saying them their whole lives. From what Prudence had said earlier, Samantha figured they must have been saying them their whole lives.

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