The next day was also fine except for a brief shower, which refreshed everything. The palace posted a statement that announced that Prince William and Terry were going to Serelia “to attend to business subsequent to the end of war and the Serelian recognition of our independence.” Everyone connected with the palace—especially the travellers—were tight-lipped about the exact nature of the mission, although everyone figured out that, for these two to go to Serelia, it must be important.

That evening was time for mid-week service at the Barlin Pentecostal Church. The sanctuary was large enough for about two hundred fifty people. There were plans to construct a closed sanctuary but the resources of the church were first committed to the Bible school building, an ungainly concrete block structure cheered up by the hibiscus, melaleuca and ficus bushes that surrounded it, planted and maintained by the women of the church. The school building was busy with its various functions; with the end of the war, the Drahlan Fellowship of Pentecostal Churches was able to seriously pursue a broader agenda, which included proper training of its ministers and those from the neighbouring countries.

The service started just after sunset with songs and praise, led by the same band that played the country to its independence the day before. After this, though, the pastor, Vernon Calloway, took the wireless microphone, stood on the floor of the church in front of the pulpit, and faced the congregation. Prince Dennis had slipped out of his seat and stood next to Pastor Calloway.

“Before we receive the offering, we have an important piece of business we need to take care of,” he began seriously. Looking at Terry, he said, “Sister Marlowe, would you come to the altar?” As Terry gingerly walked forward, Calloway resumed. “His Highness has informed me that she and Prince William are going to Serelia tomorrow on a very important mission. He is not at liberty to say much about it, but as you all know we have been at war with the Serelians for the last eight years. All of us here have lost fathers, husbands, sons and some of our daughters too in this war—it’s been hard on all of us. Whatever they’re going there for, it’s important, and it’s going to take a special anointing of God to make it work and his special protection on the both of them.

“We all know and love Sister Marlowe—she’s this church’s first pastor, and it wouldn’t be the church it is today without her work. A lot of you are here because she reached out to you in Christ.” Dennis and Andrea nodded at that statement. “She’s also served this country faithfully as His Majesty’s Royal Counsellor. She’s shown that God’s people can take their place in the highest places of this world.” He paused for a few seconds, and then said, “I feel a special urging from the Lord that she needs Jesus to go with her like she’s never needed him before.” By that time she had reached the front and was standing in front of him. He reached for his little bottle of anointing oil, and holding it in one hand and the microphone in another, he said, “I need some prayer warriors to come and lay hands on Sister Marlowe, and touch God like you’ve never touched him before.” At that about thirty people came forward and stood behind her. He looked at Terry and said, “Lift your hands to heaven,” and she did so. He put the microphone down, took his bottle of anointing oil, dabbed his right index finger, and laid it on her forehead. By now the prayer warriors were laying hands on her shoulders, arms or upper back. If they could not reach her, they laid hands on someone who could. When Pastor Calloway started praying, the entire church began to pray in unison, a chorus that could be heard across the lake. Some were praying in English, others in tongues; virtually everyone was weeping. As the prayer went forward Terry, overwhelmed by the presence of God in the place, fell back, her fall caught by those praying behind her.

She laid on the floor praying for some time. When she returned to consciousness the crowd around her praying had thinned out somewhat; one of those still prevailing was Andrea, whom Terry had led to the Lord, baptized, married and whose children she had dedicated (and baby sat occasionally.) However, there were still a good number of people in the altar, and those who had started by praying for Terry were now praying for these.

“The Pastor’s never gotten to preach—the Spirit fell and it’s been like this for the last forty-five minutes,” Andrea said as she helped Terry up. Terry’s return, however, did as much to sidetrack the service as anything. People started coming up to her, hugging her, saying their farewells, praying again for and with her. This lasted for yet another hour or so. As the service faded away rather than ended, Terry made her way from the thin crowd that was left and headed back for her house to finalise her preparations for departure.

As she attempted to get some rest at home before departure, Terry had a lot to think about. Her experience at the altar was refreshing, but any potential contact with Verecunda brought up many memories and a good deal of anxiety. As she lay in bed trying to get some sleep, her mind went back to the days before she left Verecunda and ended up where she was now.

The Point Collina Yacht Club was more than a yacht club; it was one of Point Collina’s—and by extension Verecunda’s—significant social establishments. Overlooking the marina itself was the clubhouse; on the second story was the club’s restaurant and bar. At a table next to the large picture window at the front, a young Terry sat with her mother Eleanor. It was a pleasant spring day, a good day to sit and watch the yachts at dock or coming in and out of the marina.

They were having a nice lunch until Eleanor changed the subject.

“Terry, when are you going to be experienced?” Eleanor asked.

“Mother, what are you talking about?”

“You know exactly what I’m talking about!” Eleanor snapped, and then tightened her lips.

“We’ve had this talk before,” Terry responded plaintively.

“And we’ll have it again until I get an adult answer out of you.”

“I’m not ready for that yet.”

“You’re sixteen now—if not now, when? All of your friends are.”

“A lot of them are, but some aren’t.”

“The more popular ones are.”

Terry sat in embarrassed silence. Her mother then resumed, “Since you can’t seem to read the tea leaves, I guess I’ll have to spell it out for you. A sexually active life is a fulfilled life. You’ll never be a real human being without it. You aren’t now.”

“What about the stuff we were raised with in church? Doesn’t that mean anything?”

“Quit throwing that fuddy-duddy church thing at me—that’s why I quit going. What do they know? Those priests never marry. But you can be sure they’re doing it on the side—one way or another.”

“I always wanted to keep myself for that special person.”

“That special person won’t show up unless you show him the goods first,” Eleanor crudely observed. “You’ve got a prom coming up—you need to think about who you’re going with. What about that Andrews boy? He looks nice.”

“He has invited me—I’ll probably go with him.”

“Don’t disappoint him—you’ve embarrassed me enough with your prude attitude.” Eleanor abruptly changed the subject to something a little less controversial, but Terry was nervous and embarrassed and not much company for the rest of the meal.