The young girl in the front row of the classroom raised her hand. "Who are your ancestors?"
Pam Humphrey tried to keep the sadness off her face as she watched Becca, a freshman in her history class. Pam had been asking herself the same question all her life. "Well, I'm not sure. I was adopted."
All thirty students in the classroom stared at her, even the boys in the back who never listened. What was wrong with being adopted? It wasn't as if Pam could control it or had a choice.
"You were adopted?" Becca asked. "You never found out who your real mom or dad are?"
"No." Pam shook her head. "I can't. I've been told the records are sealed and never investigated it myself." In reality, her adoptive parents didn't want her researching it. "I'd rather think my adoptive parents are my real parents, because they're my family. My adoptive father died five years ago, but my mom is still around. I'm part of her family."
Pam felt more like the mother in the relationship, and her mother was her child. Alzheimer's disease was horrible.
Becca wouldn't let it drop. "What about medical records and who you're related to?" She gasped, as if something suddenly hit her. "What if you marry your brother?"
Titters filled the classroom, but before the girl could ask more, school was over.
Saved by the bell.
"Have a great summer vacation," Pam said. "Think about your ancestors." But it was too late. The kids were out the door and couldn't care less, because school was now officially over for the year.
Ah, June in the empty high school. There was nothing like it. Now Pam had to figure out what she'd do for the summer break. She considered writing a book on ancestors. But if she couldn't even figure out her own ancestry, what good would that serve? Maybe she'd see what classes were available at the local community college. Regardless, she had about three months to do as she pleased, since she'd fulfilled all her teacher in-service days for the year.
She didn't currently have a boyfriend, so she had a secret desire to find a date for the summer. She didn't want to date just any man, but a man who was a man, not a child. He would have goals in life, have a good job, and go to church. She was so tired of dating men who had no faith and acted like children. It was as if they lacked direction and compassion in their lives—definitely not what she was looking for. If she could find a man ready to settle down and was a good match, she'd have her dreams fulfilled. But finding someone like that was like finding a needle in a haystack. Dream men didn't just run into her and then become her date. No, Pam would have a lot of work to do to find a man worthy of marriage.
She stepped behind the desk and took a seat. With only some paperwork to finish, she, too, could have a summer vacation.
Becca's question haunted her. She always wanted to know about her real family. Becca was right. She certainly didn't want to marry her brother, and given her medical history, she really would like to know what conditions ran in her family.
She worked for a bit longer, the question about her ancestors and dating her brother still bugging her. Maybe she'd have a DNA test performed on her and her date to make sure they weren't related. It might work, but what man in their right mind would agree to such a thing? If they were in love, could she just turn that love off if they were related?
The whole idea seemed like a cruel joke to her, because she was afraid to even get to know a man in case they were related. She also didn't want any man like her adoptive father in her life. That ruled out both her real and her adoptive family's relatives for a potential husband. Given all the families in the world, chances were she'd never marry someone related to her or her adoptive family.
"Pam," a male voice said, taking her from her thoughts.
She looked up from her work and watched Matt, a coworker who lived in her apartment complex, walk through the door to her classroom.
"Yeah?" she said.
He leaned against her desk with a grin, his fingertips tapping out a silent song. "Last day of school. Whatcha doin' tonight?"
"I have plans."
He chuckled. "Let me guess. Ice cream and a movie? Alone in your apartment? Again?"
"Yep." She looked down at the computer monitor, ready to enter the final grades. "And no, I'm not going out with you, no matter how much you beg. You're not my type, so the answer is no, no, and no way. Ever."
He walked around the desk and put his hand on her shoulder. "I've been waiting a long time and we get along. You're exactly what I'm looking for—blonde hair, blue eyes, and a figure that won't quit." He raked his eyes down over her, even bending slightly to look at her legs.
She rolled her eyes and shrugged his hand off her shoulder. He was so superficial. "No, no, and definitely no way. You're not my type, remember?" He was the child-type she'd been avoiding.
He knelt down beside her, his brown eyes appearing so innocent, but she knew better. He was all but innocent and could be downright nasty.
"I remember," he said. "I just don't believe you. You haven't seen me in dating mode, either, so you have nothing to base it on."
She kept working, turning away to avoid him as much as she could. "No, I'm basing it on what I see, not some front you're putting on to impress me. I want to know what I'd be living with if things got serious and I was married. That's more important to me than some front, because that's superficial and not realistic."
He seemed to ignore her comment and looked up at the monitor. "What are you doing?"
"They're not due until tomorrow. You do know that, right?"
She glanced toward his smile, not happy because he always waited until the last minute, and didn't seem to care about his job. "I do remember, but I'm busy this summer and have tomorrow off. I have things to do and want to get started right away. I already made up my in-service so I could have an extra day off."
His smile grew. "I have tomorrow off, too. What are you doing this summer, or tomorrow?"
"I have a few things lined up, even for tomorrow." It wasn't the entire truth, but she did have to wash her car. "What are you doing?"
His arm slid over her shoulders. "I'm hunting for the woman of my dreams and she's sitting right beside me. Go out with me?"
She threw his arm off her shoulders. "No, no, and no way. I'm not the woman of your dreams. Why don't you go to church and find a nice girl, anyway?" She knew he'd hate hearing that.
"Church? I'm an atheist, remember?"
She had to laugh on the inside, getting him to think about church every chance she got. "Yeah, I remember, but you need to rethink that. Nice women go to church and that's where you'll find them. Remember that conversation?"
"Yes, I remember that. What church do you go to?"
She turned to see him, swiveling in her chair. "You'd go to church for me? Seriously?" As she studied his expression, she realized he'd lied to her. "You'd never go to church with me, so don't lie. It wouldn't be real if you did, and that's the front I'm talking about. It's all for show, but deep down, you're still yourself with no morals, or so it seems to me. You care about yourself, only, and would never do anything out of the ordinary for anyone else."
He studied her face, as if he knew what she was saying was true. "Well, I'd try."
"Matt, be honest. You wouldn't change for any woman and I know it. You'd make fun of everything in the church, because you told me you would. Besides, I don't want a man who would change, but one who's right from the get-go. Otherwise, they're not being true to themselves and they'd revert right back to their true self."
He shrugged. "Yeah, you're right. Go out with me anyway?"
This man would never learn. "No." She stood up and headed to the door, pointing toward the hallway. "Out. I have work to do."
"If you go out with me tonight, we could even sleep in tomorrow."
She crossed her arms. "No. I'm not that type of woman and would never sleep in with a man unless I'm married to him."
"I guess you won't go out with me tonight, then?"
"You're some genius. I'm your friend and as your friend, let me give you some advice. Get a nice girl and settle down, putting things right in your own life. It's past time and you know it. Don't sleep with her before you're married, but be nice and consider her feelings before you think of yourself."
He grinned, sauntering toward her. "You're playing hard-to-get and I love it. You're so cute." He reached out to pinch her cheek but she pushed him away. "I get it," he said. "Friends only, for now. You'll come to your senses."
"I don't think that could ever happen." She sighed. "Matt, I'm looking for a man. A real man and not someone who plays games. I want someone who can take charge but be nice about it. He should have morals and be a man of faith. You're nothing like what I'm looking for." For a reason, too. He reminded her of her adoptive father and she'd never date a man like that.
"You'll see." Matt leaned over to kiss her cheek, but she backed away. "Uh-huh," he said. "Hard to get. We'll definitely see how this turns out." He walked out to the hallway, whistling some wedding song while he left. He'd never learn and she'd never consider him worthy of her. Morals meant a lot to her, after her childhood with her adoptive father.
Pam sat down and got to work, trying to forget Matt's attempt at flirtation. With men like that in her social circles, she really had to consider being an old maid. It was better to be single than to marry a child.