Her eyes darted around the small church. She didn't see anyone she knew, but then, she hadn't expected to. Automatically she rose and sat with the congregation. Words of songs fell from her lips, but she wasn't concentrating on them. Her mind was twenty years in the past. She remembered standing in a pew like this one, singing her ten year-old heart out. That had been the before of her life—before she'd gotten restless and wanted to leave, before she'd turned her back on her life, before she'd fled God. Roving over the room, her eyes lit on the stained glass window portraying the Holy Spirit as a dove. It had been in a church like this that she'd found forgiveness, and finally been able to pass on that forgiveness.
That was why she was here—forgiveness. She needed to hear those words from someone very dear to her heart.
"Stand up and greet your neighbors!" the pastor boomed. Her head snapped up. She hadn't expected this. She'd anticipated sweet anonymity until later in the day, when she was more prepared. Her heart pounded. Slowly she turned, almost hoping she wouldn't see him. For a few moments, she thought her wish was granted. Then she saw him, walking down the aisle, greeting people and smiling. Her breath caught in her throat. And suddenly, nothing mattered. It didn't matter that he'd argued bitterly with her about everything. It didn't matter that he'd chosen a life she'd scorned as confined and unambitious. It didn't matter that she had entered a marriage he'd regarded as wrong. It didn't matter that she'd always hated and envied his wife. It didn't matter that she'd broken his heart when she'd rejected everything he believed. It didn't even matter that twelve years earlier, she'd sworn he'd never see her again.
All that mattered was here and now.
They'd been born on the same day, fifteen minutes and twenty seconds apart. She was older, and they both knew it well. She'd been the leader, the groundbreaker, the catalyst. But when she began drifting from her foundation, he'd remained firm. He'd tried to pull her back, but she'd brushed him off. She knew best—she'd thought. Then everything had gone haywire.
Now she was back, seeking his forgiveness, but unsure of whether she would find it.
He looked up, as if suddenly realizing that someone was watching him. Their eyes met. She stared at him, tears brimming in her eyes, fear rising in her throat. Then he opened his arms. She ran to him, stumbling a little in her high heels. As she flung herself against his chest, his arms closed around her. Sobs and tears made her unable to talk.
"I'm sorry," she gasped, finally. He leaned down.
"I know," he whispered in her ear.
"Forgive me?" she choked. "Please?" A tender smile lit his face.
"Yes." She put her arms around him and hugged him.
"Thank you," she said quietly. Suddenly she realized he'd always been wiser than she. But that was all right; God had made them to be that way. She pulled back and smiled at him. "So how've you been without your better half?" He laughed.
"Things have been different without my crazy twin." She linked her right hand with his left.
"Lefty," she said, wiping her tears away.
"Righty," he teased. Then his face got serious. "Do you want to see Maggie?" he asked, hesitantly. She froze at his wife's name, then—
"I'd like that," she said. She found she really meant it. Relief flooded his eyes.
"Let's go," he said as he steered her down the aisle. "You've been gone too long, sis," he whispered.
"I know." She smiled up at him. "I missed having a little brother to boss around." She laughed and he joined in. Then she sobered. "It's good to be . . . home." The one word summed up the love and forgiveness she felt in her brother's embrace.