“I wish I had told someone he made me feel uncomfortable.
I smoothed my skirt, checked my makeup in the mirror, grabbed my purse and breezed out of my bedroom. It was my first day at a new job, and I didn’t want to be late. I’d be working in a used bookstore with Ray, a man I’d known from church most of my life.
Ray had asked me to work for him a few Saturdays before, when I was in his store shopping. He had a stack of book posters, but he didn’t know where to hang them. I made some suggestions that worked.
“Tiffany,” he gushed, “Everyone who’s ever met you knows you’re an artistic genius, but I think you’re an advertising genius, too! This place looks fantastic!” I smiled self–consciously. I was flattered by his compliment. “Seriously, you should work here.”
I loved books and was excited about the thought of working in a bookstore. I also thought about how fast I’d be able to save up for a car, and accepted right away.
On my first day, Ray taught me how to run the registers and how to catalog new books. Between customers, Ray asked me a lot of questions. He seemed especially interested in knowing about my favorite books and music. Slowly his questions became a little more personal, and then he asked one that seemed awfully private.
“So, Tiffany, are you a virgin?”
“Yes,” I answered uncomfortably, “of course I am.”
“Going to wait until you get married?”
“Good girl,” he said, moving closer and stroking my hair.
The awkward moment ended abruptly when the phone rang. I moved away to answer it, thankful for the distraction.
As my brother drove me home from work that night, I stared out of the window, silently thinking about Ray’s question. Replaying the conversation in my head, I decided Ray just wanted to know if I was living up to what the Bible teaches.
That was perfectly innocent, wasn’t it?
A few nights later, Ray came from the back office to help me stock books.
“Tiffany, do you have a boyfriend?”
I blushed. “N–no, no I don’t.”
“But you’re so pretty,” he smiled. “Those high school boys are just idiots.”
I changed the subject with a question about the books. I didn’t know what to think—I was a little flattered, but uneasy, too.
This went on for months. Whenever I was the only employee in the store and there weren’t any customers around, Ray would come out of his office and talk to me, making comments about how pretty, smart, talented or special he thought I was. Part of me was scared and confused. But another part was like a sponge, soaking in his compliments.
Gradually, the scared and confused part of me became quieter. The fear was overcome by the thrill—a goodlooking, single guy was actually interested in me, even though he was in his 30s and I was only 16.
One night, my brother had to work late. “I’ll drive you home,” Ray offered.
As I threw my backpack into the backseat of his convertible, he said, “Let’s stop at my place, OK? I’ve got some great first editions I know you’ll love.”