Serial Novel: “I Need Someone to Pray With Me”


Copyright 2014. Torch Legacy Publications. All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner, except for brief quotations included in a review of the book. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

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I Need Someone to Pray With Meby Daniel Whyte III
with Meriqua Whyte

About this Serial Novel: God answered Mother Jamison’s unspoken prayer request and delivered Aubrey from a bad marriage (see The Unspoken Prayer Request). Seeing the miracle God performed in her life through her mother’s prayers and the church family’s prayers, and now that her friends, Simone, Kelli, and Jennifer, are in relationships with men who are on praying ground, will Aubrey get a handle on prayer? Will she be disciplined enough to pray on her own? Or, will she need the help of a man to keep her prayed up and focused on the important things in life?

As Simone shares with Aubrey: “You’re wanting a man for all the wrong reasons; you need a man to help you stay focused and to help you keep your priorities in the right order.” If such is the case, who will that man be—Roger or Quinten? Which one of these men will steer her back to praying ground, help her to re-focus, help her get her priorities straight, and live the good life?

Sometimes we just need somebody to pray with us.

get-unspoken

_______

START READING: EPISODE #1

Chapter 1

“I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.”
Psalm 77:1

Aubrey, Simone, Jennifer, and Kelli met up at the Cherry Blossom Cafe for their weekly girls night out. The court case was behind them and they rejoiced with Aubrey over her proven innocence in the death of her husband, Jamaal.

“I want to thank each of you for supporting me,” she said. “That really meant a lot.”

“Oh, you’re more than welcome, Aubrey. That’s what friends are for,” Simone said. Jennifer and Kelli smiled and agreed.

“This controlling jealousy thing goes much deeper than what I thought,” Aubrey said. “I ran across this verse in my reading in Proverbs this week that says, ‘Jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.’ Before we got married, I never thought Jamaal was the jealous type. But reading this verse in context, as it is dealing with a man trying to get with another man’s wife, I see where all men have a natural jealous streak in them when it comes down to that, and that’s understandable. Just as God says He is jealous for His children. However, it is a big problem when the husband is imagining things and then becomes abusive. How many people have been hurt by a man or woman who gets jealous over nothing, over imaginations?”

“Even Kelvin said he was shocked to hear how crazy and abusive Jamaal became,” Simone said.

“Remember you told us for some reason your mother was not too thrilled when you and Jamaal decided to get married?” Jennifer asked. “I believe your mother saw it in Jamaal.”

“Yeah, she sure did,” Aubrey agreed. “I thought she was afraid of losing me.”

“She was afraid of losing you, but she saw the bigger picture,” Kelli quickly added. “If I were you, I’d forget it all and begin my life all over again.”

“That’s what I’m trying to do,” Aubrey said wistfully. “But it’s not easy. My emotions run from bitterness to anger to pity to gladness. One day, I am angry at myself, then angry at Jamaal. The next day I’m feeling sorry for myself that I ended up in a messed up marriage. Another day I am glad it’s all over.”

“No offense, Aubrey,” Simone said, “but this abuse thing is one reason why I’m not too eager to marry Kelvin. I like it the way it is now, because if he ever raises a fist at me, it’s adios never to see me again.”

“That’s easier said than done when you are married,” Aubrey said. “All I know is, my mother would be on my case if I even thought about living with a man I’m not married to.”

The girls paused as the waitress came to take their order. Each had the Cherry Blossom Special: Grilled chicken with cheese, baked potatoes with sour cream, grilled vegetables, and the famous Cherry Blossom cherry shake.

“You know,” Jennifer said, “I don’t know if I ever want to get married. Just this past week on the news a husband ran down his wife with a butcher knife. Apparently, they had been arguing and she left and went to the neighbor’s house for safety. They heard her screaming and pounding on their front door. But by the time they called the police and went to attempt to get the knife from her husband’s hand, he had already dragged her into the yard and killed her. He’s in jail for life and there’s talk of him being sentenced to death.”

“Yes, I heard it on the news, too,” Kelli said. “Anger will make you do and say crazy things. I just don’t see how two people who start out loving each other can end up with that much hatred for each other.”

“I heard a psychologist say once that marriage is a love/hate relationship: one day you love each other and can’t seem to get enough of each other; the next day you hate each other and can’t stand to be around each other,” Jennifer said.

The girls were quiet for a while.

“I don’t think marriage is that bad,” Kelli said quietly.

“Yes, if you marry the right person,” Simone blurted out. “And if you don’t think it’s so bad, why aren’t you and Trevor married?” she said smartly.

“I’m not afraid of the marriage part; I’m just afraid I’ll lose him while he’s off to war. I hear things are getting rough over in Afghanistan, and many soldiers are losing their lives,” Kelli said with a faraway look in her eyes. “I pray everyday for his safety. Almost every time the phone rings, I expect one of his superiors to give me a bad report. All I can do is pray that God will protect him.”

“We’ll pray for his safety too,” Jennifer chimed in. “I’m sure little Justin will want to know his daddy. How’s Justin doing anyway?”

“He’s with his grandparents. They’re spoiling him rotten,” Kelli said with a smile. “Trevor said he has some good news for me: one, he’ll be home within a few weeks on a short leave and wants us to get married. The second piece of news he said he’ll tell me once he gets here. I can’t wait.”

“I bet you can’t,” Aubrey said. “Let’s plan a surprise party for him.”

As the girls ordered black forest cherry cake for dessert, Simone asked, “So how do you plan to move on with your life now, Aubrey?”

“Oh, I’ll just throw myself into my work at Katrina Bervoski’s. My attorney, Quintin Rodney, suggested that I use this experience to help others in a similar situation,” Aubrey said. “But one thing I do know, it will be a while before I even seriously think about seeing another man.”

“Now, that was a wise suggestion by your lawyer. Are you still going to tell me you weren’t even curious about him in the slightest?” Simone said with a grin.

“Well…”

“Come on now, Aubrey. Tell the truth.”

“He seemed like a good man,” Aubrey said with a smile.

“A good man? You let a good and handsome man slip right through your hands,” Simone laughed. “We ought to give you a talking to.”

“What impressed me about him was how he handled my case like nothing else mattered at that time, and I have never met a man who prayed so much. He prayed about the case like he had a stake in it,” Aubrey said.

“See, I told you that you let a good, handsome, and praying man slip right through your hands,” Simone said. Then she added with a giggle, “You’d better go look him up, girlfriend.”

Chapter 2

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Matthew 7:7

It seemed everywhere Aubrey turned, prayer was being emphasized. Television preachers were preaching on it. Pastor Ashton was praying more and encouraging the church family to pray more as well. She even noticed her own mother praying more. What is it with all this praying? she wondered.

“You know, Aubrey, you’re twenty-three years old now. You can’t ride on my prayers for the rest of your life. Just like you couldn’t ride on my salvation and you had to make sure of your own salvation, you have to get to know God for yourself through prayer,” Mother Jamison told her.

Surprising to Aubrey, Simone, of all people, seemed to have gotten a hold of prayer. Simone was always making fun of those television preachers who claimed to have the gift of healing. “I tell you all something,” Simone shared with them at one of their meetings, “I used to think people were just bluffing and making up stuff to try and spook people with this prayer thing, but I’m thinking differently now and thanks to your mother, Aubrey.”

“Really?”

“Yes, girl, I just could not bring myself to pray or talk to someone I could not see. I felt funny on the inside when I tried to pray. I asked your mother about it and this is what she told me. She said, ‘that is where faith comes in; you just have to believe God is there and that He hears you.’ The Bible says, ‘without faith it is impossible to please God,’ and she also shared that I just have to believe that God is and that He exists, and that He eagerly waits to hear from me.”

“That is faith alright,” Kelli said. “You know, just knowing we all are Christians now has encouraged me to pray more. I’ve even started going to chapel services on base more regularly.”

“Why don’t you start coming with us to Mt. Salem?” Simone asked.

“Yes,” said Jennifer. “Pastor Ashton can get with it. He’s been doing a series on relationships. In fact, the next few Sundays, he’ll be preaching on the ‘sanctity of the marriage bed.’”

“That should be interesting,” Kelli said. “If nothing happens, count me in.”

“Mother Jamison quoted a verse from somewhere in Matthew chapter seven I believe. Anyway,” Simone said, “it says, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.’ Why don’t we put that verse to the test by each of us asking God to do something for us over this year.”

“Yeah, that’s a great idea,” they all agreed.

“You go first, Simone,” Jennifer said.

“Well, I’ve been hoping for a promotion for over a year now. Pray that I’ll get it and pray also that Kelvin and I will have a long life together.”

“We’ll pray that you get married,” Aubrey said.

“I’m still not sure about that,” Simone said. “Your turn, Kelli.”

“Let’s see,” Kelli said. “My prayer request is that Trevor and me will get married and provide a happy, loving, and prayerful home for Justin…that’s pending on him coming home safely and permanently. You know what? I also want him to get out of the military and just live a regular civilian life.”

“Oh, Kelli, let him enjoy his time in the military serving his country. Trust God to keep him safe,” Aubrey said. “Your turn, Jennifer.”

“I really want to finish medical school,” Jennifer said. “Your turn, Aubrey.”

“My request is…“

“Wait a minute,” Jennifer interrupted, “If I get a man, I want a praying man, because when I pray my prayers seem so dry. And, at the same time, I want him to be a man who can take care of business in the bed room. I don’t want a man who is so heavenly-minded he ain’t no earthly good.” They all laughed.

“Ok, now it’s my turn for real,” Aubrey said. “My request is that I’ll get over my hurt and disappointment from a failed marriage and that I’ll get a handle on my prayer life. I also want to get my own home interior design company going.”

“Is that all?” Simone said with a smile. “How about asking God for a praying man to replace Jamaal? We’ll pray one in for you.”

The girls all laughed as Aubrey replied, “It will be a long time before I trust any man enough to marry him. But,” she added, “you are welcome to pray that for me.”

Chapter 3

“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
– Mark 11:24

Kelli arrived for services as she promised she would. She felt right at home as she settled down on the pew with her friends.

“As you know, I’ve been preaching a series on relationships: husband-wife relationships, parent-child relationships, friend-friend relationships, boss-employee relationships, etc.,” began Pastor Ashton. “I have been presenting each in light of biblical teachings keeping Jesus as the focus because in the end ‘all that matters is Jesus — just Jesus.’ Now, today, I want to preach on, ‘Living Together With All the Benefits of Marriage But Without the Marriage Vow.’ In other words, I want to preach on ‘shacking up.’”

“Tell it, Pastor!”

“It’s not friends with benefits, my room-mate, my roomie, my housemate, or my live-in-mate; as we try to pretty it up. It is plain old shacking up!”

“Tell the truth, Pastor!”

“My text this morning will come from Hebrews 13:4: ‘Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.’”

Simone listened intently.

“The Bible calls people who shack up whores and whoremongers. The Bible is very clear on this: you cannot have, nor can you enjoy the privileges and the benefits of marriage without taking the marriage vow, without saying ‘I do.’ Let me bring it home to you.”

“Go ahead, Pastor Ashton!”

“One, you cannot sleep in the same bed with a man or woman you are not married to. Don’t look at me like you don’t understand what I just said,” Pastor Ashton said, surveying the crowd. “Let me repeat: you cannot sleep in the same bed with a man or woman you are not married to. In other words, you cannot have sex with that man or that woman you are not married to.”

Oh, me, Simone thought. What have I gotten myself into?

“The marriage bed is sacred before God. It is undefiled and it has to remain undefiled, if you want God’s blessings. Another word for shacking up and for having sex with someone you are not married to is fornication. Forni-what? Some of you are saying. Let me spell it out for you: F-o-r-n-i-c-a-t-i-o-n. Paul the Apostle asks this question in 1 Corinthians 6:15: ‘Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.’

“I’m talking to Christians who are shacking up. I am talking to Christians who are fornicating around. I am talking to Christians who are practicing whoredom.”

Simone listened grimly. She could not protest what she was hearing.

“Once you get saved your body is not your own; you now belong to Jesus, and all that you do with your body you must do for His glory. But there is hope, folks! The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:11: ‘And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.’”

Such were some of you, Simone thought.

“Paul says to us in 1 Corinthians 6:18, flee fornication,” Pastor Ashton said. “Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.’

“Why would you want to sin against your own body? Why would you want to bring harm to your own body? I do not have the statistics on this, but I believe most of the people who have AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases are those who engage in sex with someone they are not married to. I say that without fear of successful contradiction because when you have sex the right way, that is, within the confines of marriage, God protects you from such diseases because you are doing it His way. And when you do things God’s way you get a blessing instead of a cursing.”

Kelli felt a little guilty, but she sighed a sigh of relief as now she and Trevor were planning on getting married.

“Yes, folks,” Pastor Ashton said. “Such were some of you; meaning, you used to do it, but you don’t do it anymore. You used to shack up, but you don’t shack up anymore.You used to commit fornication, but you don’t commit fornication anymore. You used to have a live-in partner, but you kicked him or her out, or you moved out. He used to come by for a short visit, but you don’t allow him or her to do that anymore. Such were some of you. Amen, somebody!”

Heavy conviction fell upon Simone as the Word of God cut to her heart.

“In chapter 7 of 1 Corinthians, verse 1 reads: ‘It is good for a man not to touch a woman.’ In other words, it is good for a man not to have sex with a woman he is not married to. And verse 2 goes on to say, ‘Nevertheless, to avoid fornication,’ to avoid having sex outside of marriage, to avoid shacking up, ‘let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.’ You don’t believe what I just read? I’ll give you time to find it and read it with your own eyes,” Pastor Ashton said.

Simone, with Aubrey’s help, gingerly turned to the book of 1 Corinthians and followed along as Pastor Ashton read the passage again.

“To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin,” Pastor Ashton quoted. “In other words, you were shacking up and living in sin, but you did not know any better. But now, you have just heard the truth, your eyes have been enlightened, you read it for yourself. You now know to do good; you now know to let ‘Jody’ go; you now know to let ‘Sylvia’ go; you now know the true and right thing to do. My question is: what are you going to do now that you know the truth? Are you going to keep on sinning? Are you going to keep on whoring around? Are you going to still let ‘Jody’ stop by every now and then for a little maintenance work? Are you going to keep shacking up with your boyfriend or girlfriend? Or, God-forbid, you’re having sex with somebody of the same sex. That’s beyond a sin; that’s an abomination in the sight of God. Don’t bow your head yet, it’s not time to pray. We’re going to pray here shortly. The Bible says, to him or her that knoweth to do good and doeth it not to him it is sin!”

Simone meant it when she asked Jesus to save her a few weeks back; there would be no turning back for her. She could not deny what she just read from the Word of God. She was living in sin. I have to change my ways, she thought as she left her seat to kneel at the altar.

EPISODE #2

Chapter 4

“O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.”
Psalm 65:2

 

“To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin… But such were some of you.” These words plagued Simone on her ride home from church and throughout the early part of the week. Living with Kelvin had never bothered her before, but now that she knew the truth, her mind was in a state of unrest. Being a new Christian, she did not know it was the Holy Spirit gently reminding her to do the right thing.

“How was church?” Kelvin asked her on Sunday once she returned home. It was a habit of hers to share with him what the preacher had preached on.

“Very interesting,” Simone replied. “I’ll have to think more on what Pastor Ashton said before I can even begin to share it with you. I’m gonna ask Mother Jamison to explain it to me some more.”

“That deep, huh?” Kelvin said turning his attention back to the football game on television.

“She can probably explain it better to you than I could,” Simone said. She felt guilty, knowing that was not the real reason. Their Sunday meal was simple: spaghetti and Italian meatballs with salad. Kelvin was into the game so much he didn’t even notice she had gone to the bedroom to finish her dinner. She laid on the bed thinking about the sermon when her ringtone interrupted her thoughts. It was Aubrey.

“How’s your evening going?” Aubrey asked.

“Good and not so good.”

“What do you mean?”

“Everything is going well. But that message Pastor Ashton preached is still eating me up,” Simone explained. “I know what to do, I just don’t know how to go about doing it.”

“I just got off the phone with Kelli, she and I were talking about it. It was a pretty convicting message. Kelli said she’s going to send Trevor an e-mail and tell him they’re going to have to get married as soon as they can when he get’s back.”

“Really? So God convicted her too?” Simone sighed. “I just don’t know how Kelvin’s going to take it, Aubrey. I love him so much. I can’t imagine life without him. And, child, the sex is so good. We often talk about us being together for life, or should I say, ‘living together’.”

“Why don’t you two just get married?” Aubrey asked. “That would solve everything.”

“I thought about that before, but I just don’t want to be tied down to any man. I want to be free to leave if I want to. I don’t know how many times we’ve had an argument and I ended it by telling him, ‘We’re not married so I don’t have to take your mess’.”

“Well, now that you know better you ought to do better. Remember, God don’t like ugly, plus, I haven’t been to a wedding in a long time,” Aubrey said.

Simone sighed. “I think I’ll just pray about it some more and ask God to show me what to do.”

“Simone, God has already shown you what to do, and you need to listen because God doesn’t play. Remember Jamaal?”

“Yeah, but that’s different.”

“Yes. Different events, same principle. Jamaal knew to do good but he didn’t do it, so God took him home. Now that you know the right thing to do, you ought to do it,” Aubrey replied. “Remember when we were at the Cafe? We all were going to put God to the test and your prayer was that you and Kelvin would have a long life together. God wants you to have that, but He wants you to start off right by marrying Kelvin.”

“What if Kelvin doesn’t want to get married?” Simone asked. “Then what will I do?”

“Why wouldn’t he want to marry you? You’ve been living together for two years. All you’d have to do is exchange some words before Pastor Ashton and some friends and then go back to living together again.”

“I keep thinking there is something else I need to do…”

“If you’re talking about praying some more, you’re using that as a cop-out. You’ve already prayed at the altar, God showed you what to do, now it’s showtime; it’s time to perform, girl. Why don’t you just trust God Kelvin will say yes, that he’ll marry you?”

“Aubrey, you don’t get it. Look at you and Jamaal. Jamaal was sweet and loving to you before you both got married, but changed right after. I don’t want that.”

“Well, if you’re scared to marry him, then you have no choice but to leave him; that’s what God said to do. Have you forgotten that part of the message already?”

Simone fell silent.

Chapter 5

“I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.”
Psalm 77:1

 

Simone prayed to God to help her do the right thing. She was relieved when she and Kelvin parted ways in the mornings and throughout the day, but a heaviness seemed to fall upon her heart in the evenings when they got back together — a heaviness that lasted throughout the night on into the next morning. Even Kelvin noticed when he tried to get intimate with her.

“What’s wrong, Simone? You haven’t been yourself lately and you’ve never resisted me before. Tell me something, now.”

“It’s nothing. I just have things on my mind, that’s all.”

“Well, baby, you can tell me all about it.”

“It’s nothing for you to worry about. I’ll figure it out soon,” Simone said, forcing a smile.

“Well, can you at least take care of me right now, so I won’t be tempted with someone else?”

____________

The following Wednesday, Simone told Mother Jamison what she’d been feeling.

“That heaviness is the Holy Spirit reminding you of what you need to do to remedy the situation,” Mother Jamison told her. “The Holy Spirit is going to keep reminding you everyday until you get it right. The heaviness you feel is going to get stronger and stronger until you and Kelvin stop living together. Child, you’re going to be more and more miserable until you get this thing right. Been there, done that.”

“Stop living together? You mean getting married would not take care of it?”

“You could get married and that will solve one set of problems, but then it would create a new set of problems. If Kelvin is not a Christian then God does not want you to marry him either. Hold on and let me get my Bible.”

I can’t believe this, Simone thought. Either way I’d have to give Kelvin up.

Mother Jamison returned to the living room with her leather-bound Bible. She said, “Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, ‘Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.’ As a Christian, you’re a new person and you have to stop doing some of the things you used to do.”

“Yeah, like stop living with Kelvin.”

“But I really want to show you why it’s best that you and Kelvin not get married now that you’re a Christian and he’s not. It’s in chapter six verses 14 through 17. It says: ‘Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.’”

“Oh, I see,” Simone said reluctantly. “Mother Jamison, I love God and want to do what’s right…but I also love Kelvin. I can’t imagine us not having a life together.”

“You know, Simone, God has a way of working things out when you obey Him. I promise you, you obey God, He’ll bless you in more ways than one. Let me pray with you.”

____________

Simone was met with discouraging news when she got to the job the next morning — the promotion she had wanted had been given to someone else.

“What happened to ‘ask and it shall be given you’?” she asked despondently after sharing the news with her friends when they met up on Friday. “One, I lost the promotion. I really wanted that. My next step after that would be assistant CEO. Mr. Barkely, the current CEO is getting older and the word around was he moved Mrs. Rothchild, the assistant CEO, up and her position was open, but now, they’ve given it to Doris ‘Pixie’ Echiveria. You’ve seen her, she looks just like a pixie with her little self and pointed nose and ears.” Simone couldn’t help herself in her frustration. “It’s so disappointing.”

“I got my Master’s degree in Business, putting in six years of hard work and experience. I’ve had customers to constantly put in good words about me to Mrs. Rothchild. I’m expanding my mind by taking courses at the university. I’ve even attended a couple of business seminars at Mrs. Rothchild’s invitation, and this is what I get. I tell you, life is full of disappointments. Where is God in all this? What happened to Him answering my prayers?”

“Don’t worry, God’s still here,” Aubrey assured her. “He’s got something way better planned for you.”

“Maybe He’s just testing your love and faith in Him,” Kelli said quietly.

“How is that so?” Simone asked.

“Sometimes He’ll let difficulties and disappointments come in your life to see whether or not you’re going to still serve Him. The pastor said that in church on Wednesday night,” Kelli told her.

“God doesn’t have to worry about my love for Him. I know I still have a lot to learn; you all just pray for me,” Simone said.

“Sure thing, but you said the loss of the promotion was number one, what’s number two?” Jennifer asked curiously.

“Kelvin. I’m going to have to give him up. I’ve been living in sin these past two years. You heard what Pastor Ashton preached on this past Sunday,” Simone said.

“Well, just go ahead and marry him,” Jennifer said.

“That, girl, is easier said than done.” Simone shared the conversation she’d had with Mother Jamison.

“Well, we’ll just pray for him to be saved then,” Kelli told her.

“Girlfriends, he knows how to be saved. He heard the same words I heard from Pastor Givens at Jamaal’s funeral. So how come I got saved and he didn’t? I even shared with him that all he has to do is ask Jesus to save him, but you know what he told me? ‘It’s too easy. It can’t be that easy. There’s gotta be something else you have to do.’ He told me, ‘you be a good Christian and we’ll be alright together.’ Girls, I’ve been in turmoil all week!”

“Calm down, Simone,” Aubrey said. “You’re a big girl and a tough one, remember the words of your favorite song:

You’ll never break the woman in me
Though you might break the smile
You’ll never hurt the woman in me
But you might hurt the child.

Simone joined Aubrey in singing. “The manager is going to throw us out of here if we don’t tone it down,” Simone said laughing. “OK, girls, I know what to do. I know what I should have done this week. I’ll woman-up and do what I have to do. I need someone to pray with me because, even though my words are bold, I’m getting cold feet.”

The girls bowed their heads as Kelli led in prayer.

Chapter 6

“If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”
John 14:14

Simone left the Cherry Blossom Cafe with a strong determination to do the right thing. It was either God or Kelvin, not God and Kelvin no matter how much she wished it was the latter. It was about 10:30 when she got home. Kelvin, surprisingly, was sound asleep in the bed. Not like him to be in this early from basketball with the boys. She got dressed for bed while contemplating whether or not to wake him up.

“Lord, what should I do? Please put the right words in my mouth so things will go smoothly, Lord, help Kelvin to understand.”

I’ll just crawl under the covers and stay on my side of the bed and get up early and then we’ll talk, she thought.

As she lay there, sleep departed from her. Two voices went back and forth in her head.

Just move on up closer to him, Simone, and hug on him a little. You know you want to.

You shouldn’t be in the bed with him: Remember My word? — ‘to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin’.

One more night won’t hurt. Kind of a goodbye gesture. Think of all the good times you and Kelvin have had together. You just don’t want to throw all those great memories away, do you?

If you do the right thing, Simone, I’ll work things out for you.

Simone did not see how God was going to work things out. She sighed as she hugged her pillow. She had just been passed over for a promotion, now she was getting ready to lose her man. Kelvin stirred and reached over to her side of the bed, his hands groping as he felt for her. Still sleepy, he mumbled, “Simone, when did you get here? Come on over closer.” He rolled over to meet her halfway, pulling her closer to him.

Simone tried to resist him. “I need to talk with you, Kelvin,” she said.

“Later, babe. I got something better than talking right now. I’ve been waiting for you to return.” He propped himself up and reaching over started to kiss her.

“Can we talk first?” Simone asked.

Kelvin rubbed her shoulders. She felt the passion in her begin to rise. She made no effort to resist or to comply. She turned knowing what she should do. As Kelvin touched all the right places she began to relax.

Go ahead and give him one for the road, the voice in her head whispered to her. He’s ready. It will be over and done with in a few minutes.

You know this is a sin, a second voice said.

____________

Aubrey made it home by 10:25 and poured herself and her mother iced tea as she shared with her the meeting she’d had with her friends earlier.

“You can’t put a price on true friends,” Aubrey said. “But, please pray for Simone. The message that Pastor Ashton preached on ‘the marriage bed being undefiled’ is really convicting her. She’s finally decided to tell Kelvin they can’t live together anymore.”

“Well, good for her,” Mother Jamison said with a smile. “God has great things in store for her if she just takes the first step to obedience trusting Him for the outcome.”

“We prayed for God to give her the strength to let Kelvin go,” Aubrey said. “I’m going to give them a call to make sure they all made it home safely, then I’m going up to bed.”

Jennifer was already in bed when Aubrey called her. They chatted for a few minutes before saying ‘good night’.

Kelli was up with her son, Justin. She’d be up for a while seeing he had taken a late nap at her mother’s house.

Aubrey couldn’t wait to see if everything had gone well with Simone.

____________

Kelvin whispered sweet words in her ears. “Come on, babe–”

Ring! Ring!

Simone snapped back to reality. ‘To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.’

“Stop, Kelvin!” She surprised them both as she kicked him off her and reached over for the phone, swinging her legs over the side of the bed and pulling the sheet around her as best she could.

“Simone, this is Aubrey.”

EPISODE 3

Chapter 7

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
– Philippians 4:6

Kelvin threw himself on the bed. Really now, he thought running his hand through his hair.

“Aubrey, just in time. What’s up?” Simone asked.

“Calling to make sure you got home safely. And I know I gave you enough time to break up with Kelvin. How’d it go?”

“Aah, well…I haven’t.”

“You haven’t? What do you mean? He’s not there yet?” Aubrey prodded.

“Well, he is.”

“You’re not telling me something, Simone,” Aubrey said.

By this time, Kelvin was kneeling behind Simone, caressing her and kissing her. “Tell her you’ll call her back,” Kelvin whispered. “You’re busy right now.”

“Stop,” Simone whispered back at him, shrugging her shoulders.

“Come on, Simone. Spill it,” Aubrey said.

“Well, I got caught up in the moment, and…”

“Simone, how could you?” Aubrey said. “We got you all prayed up and ready to do the right thing, and…”

“Aubrey, it was easier said than done, you know.”

“Yes, I do know,” Aubrey chuckled. “What’s that? I hear smacking. Are you and Kelvin…?”

Covering the receiver, Simone shook herself from Kelvin’s arms, stood up, and took a few steps away from the bed. “Stop, Kelvin. After I get off the phone with Aubrey, we need to have a serious talk.”

“Are you listening to me, Simone?” Aubrey said.

“Yes, I’m here. What were you saying?”

“I was saying, I am going to pray with you now so do not hang up on me.” Aubrey said a quick prayer asking God to bring Simone through this difficult time. “I’m calling you back in exactly ten minutes,” Aubrey said.

As soon as Aubrey hung up, she told her mother about Simone. “Mother, I need you to pray with me for Simone’s deliverance. I know God hears your prayers.”

“Sure,” Mother Jamison said. Mother and daughter interceded for Simone that God would grant her the strength to confront Kelvin and take a stand for what was right, and that Kelvin would respond appropriately.

_______________

“Can we finish our business now?” Kelvin asked approaching her.

“Look, Kelvin,” Simone said. “No, we cannot finish our business. We cannot finish any more business from now on.”

“What’s this all about? What did I do now?”

“Kelvin, when I asked Jesus to save me a few weeks back at Jamaal’s funeral, I meant it. But what I did not know was that I would have to give up some things.”

“Like what?”

“Like you.”

“Me?”

“Yes, you,” Simone said. “On Sunday, Pastor Ashton preached on fornication and living with someone you are not married to. Well, that’s what we’ve been doing, and the Bible says that it is wrong for a Christian to have sex before marriage. Ever since I heard that, I have been under conviction.”

“So?”

“So I have to choose between you and Jesus,” Simone said. “Mother Jamison said that’s the only way that I am going to have peace in my heart.”

“And?”

“And I choose Jesus, because I cannot live with you while we are not married and have a relationship with Jesus.” Simone sighed with relief. A big load had just been lifted off her.

Kelvin sat on the bed. “Simone, you have got to be kidding me. This is some kind of joke, right? You’re saying that so I will ask Jesus to save me, right?”

“Kelvin, I am serious. I am going to pack my bags right now,” Simone said. “I am pulling out of here as soon as I can.”

Kelvin watched as Simone put her clothes on and pulled her two travel bags out the closet. Tossing them on the bed, she began to empty her dresser drawers and pulling down clothes out of the closet.

“Simone, it is one in the morning. Where are you going this time of the morning? Come on. Let’s go back in bed,” Kelvin said.

“No, Kelvin. I am serious,” Simone said as she reached over to answer the phone. It was Aubrey.

“Simone, is everything alright?”

“Yes, Aubrey.”

Kelvin left to go to the kitchen to get a drink from the refrigerator. We’ve been living together for the past two years and Jesus had to come between us, he kept thinking. I can’t let her go that easily!

Returning to the bedroom, he took the phone from her. “Aubrey, Kelvin here. Everything’s fine. Simone will call you back in the morning.”

“Simone,” he said taking her in his arms. “Are you sure you want to do this? I love you so much. I can’t imagine my life without you. I know God to be a God of love and understanding, and I don’t think He’ll kill you if you stay. I mean, we were living together before you met Him. He’ll give you time to get your life together.” He attempted to kiss her but Simone turned her head away.

“You’re not going to make this easy for me, are you?” Simone asked. “I love you too, Kelvin, and I can’t imagine my life without you either. You could get yourself together by asking Jesus to save you and then we could get married and that would take care of everything.”

“Well, let’s get married then.”

“I wish it was that easy,” Simone said stepping away to continue packing. “But we can’t get married either. Pastor Ashton preached on it, Mother Jamison said it, and I read it for myself in the Bible: I cannot marry you because I am a Christian now and you’re not, and God will not approve of us marrying each other.”

“You know, Simone, my mother taught me to never argue with what the Bible says, and I won’t start now. All I know is I love you but I’m not going to force you,” Kelvin said. “Tell you what: you keep the apartment. At least stay here the rest of the night, it’s too late to go anywhere. You can have the bedroom; I’ll have the couch. Lock the door if you’ll feel safer; either way, I won’t mess with you tonight.” He grabbed his pillows and the sheet from the bed and headed to the living room.

Simone sighed again as she thanked God for having things to go much smoother than she had expected. When she woke up in the morning, Kelvin was gone.

Chapter 8

“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
– Luke 11:9

 

Kelli called Aubrey that Saturday with great news. “Trevor’s coming home in one month. God answered that prayer. He told me he had some great news for me; I can’t wait for him to come.”

“That’s great. I’m happy for you! After he returns, why don’t you all come over for dinner one Sunday,” Aubrey said rejoicing with her friend. “Will he be back for good?”

“I am praying he will. Girl, I am so happy, I do not know what to do with myself.”

_______________

It was a grand reunion between Kelli and Trevor. Everyone was overjoyed as they made the announcement at dinner at Mother Jamison’s house that they were getting married!

_______________

“Can you believe that?” Kelli asked, over their meal at Cherry Blossom Cafe. “I can’t believe God has answered my prayer this soon – at least one of them.”

“Ask and it shall be given you,” Aubrey said.

“The question now,” Simone said, “is which of us will be the maid-of-honor?”

“That is easy,” Kelli laughed. “We’ll just draw straws.”

Simone was happy for Kelli, but being an open and upfront person, she shared with them: “I’m a little jealous; I wish things could have worked out just as smoothly between me and Kelvin. Now that we’re no longer together, I want to marry him so badly it hurts.”

“We’ll keep praying for him,” Kelli assured her.

“Well, don’t let me dampen your day, Kelli. I am very happy for you.” Simone reached over to give her a hug. “Whatever you want me to do to help make your wedding day a memorable one, just let me know.”

“Hey, it’s all solved then,” Kelli said. “Simone, you’ll be my maid-of-honor; Aubrey, you can be my wedding planner; and Jennifer, you’ll be my first bridesmaid.”

The girls continued enjoying their meal. “I’m going to have a lot of good memories here at the Cherry Blossom Cafe,” Aubrey said. “We sure have done a lot of laughing, crying, planning, and fussing.”

“Even though you aren’t living together, are you and Kelvin at least still talking?” Jennifer asked Simone.

“I spoke with him on Wednesday. He keeps begging for us to get back together. He stopped by my job on Thursday to take me out to lunch,” Simone said. “I did go out with him. My emotions were so high I almost begged him to come back too. You all pray for me ‘cause right now, that is what I need.”

“We’re all praying for you, Simone,” Kelli said. “As Pastor Ashton says, God works things out in His time, and speaking of praying, Trevor also told me he rededicated his life to God. He had fallen back into some of his old ways: cursing, drinking, not praying, not reading his Bible, not even going to chapel. However, he said that when he finally visited chapel on base a few months ago, God told him to straighten his act up, and be the Christian he professed to be. He said God also told him we needed to get married. We’ve prayed so much since he’s been back it’s making my head spin. But you know what?” she continued, “praying with him has stabilized me. So now God has not only blessed me with a husband, but God has blessed me with someone who will pray with me,” she beamed.

“This calls for a celebration,” Simone said. “How about a slice of the cherry cheesecake swirl?”

All the girls chuckled as Jennifer told them, “I’m trying to watch my waistline, but what the heck, I guess I’ll just starve myself the rest of the week.”

After finishing her dessert, Aubrey said, “Okay, let’s see where we are in our ‘ask and ye shall receive’ test. You go first Kelli.”

“I only have one more request and that is that Trevor will come out of the military permanently so we can raise our child together.”

“Yes, but being alone will hopefully just push you to pray more,” Jennifer said.

“I know, but there’s nothing like having a strong, praying man around you,” Kelli said. “You’re next, Jenn.”

“Are you sure that’s it?” Simone asked with a smile.

Kelli gave her a puzzled look.

“You know what I’m asking,” Simone said, her smile turning into laughter. “You want Trevor around because you’re getting used to having someone to cuddle up to at night. Ain’t nothing like hugging on some muscles.”

“We got the picture. We got the picture,” Aubrey and Kelli said simultaneously.

“There was nothing like hugging on Kelvin all night,” Simone said. “But now that’s over with.”

“Tell me about it,” Aubrey said. “There was nothing like cuddling up to Jamaal when we weren’t arguing…but I say with Simone, ‘That’s over with.’”

Both women sighed as Aubrey said. “Well, let’s stop pining away before we shrivel up.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t give up so soon,” Jennifer said. “I’m still asking for you all.”

“Right. You aren’t in a relationship,” Simone said. “Well, girl, you have something to look forward to. Go ahead and tell us your ‘ask and receive.’”

“I’m still living the peaceful, quiet life…I just need a man to live it with.” Turning to Kelli, Jennifer asked, “Are any of Trevor’s friends single?”

Kelli laughed. “I’ll check on it for you.”

“I’m more focused on my new ministry at the church,” Aubrey continued. “I’ve decided to call it ‘Restoration Reset.’ You all have heard Pastor Ashton announcing it. The ministry officially launches tomorrow and I need all three of you there for support.”

“We’ll be there,” her friends assured her.

“How’s Bervoski going?” Jennifer asked.

“I’ve found out starting a home business takes time but it’s still in my plans,” Aubrey replied. “Your turn, Simone.”

“My ‘ask and ye shall receive’ is not going too well. I’ve asked but I haven’t received a thing – no promotion and no Kelvin. I’m hearing your testimonies but am still wondering if this prayer thing really works.”

“Don’t give up, Simone. Like we said, we’ll call and pray with you. God does not work on our time,” Jennifer said. “God has something better in store for you; just be patient. This is just a test to make you stronger.”

“Well, pray that I pass it with flying colors, and pray that this ‘something better’ God has in store for me includes Kelvin, because, girlfriends, I love me some Kelvin and I miss him.”

“We know you do,” Kelli said. “You two make the perfect couple.”
“Don’t you mean ‘made’?” Simone asked. “But I’ve been wondering, the first part of our challenge verse says, ‘Ask and ye shall receive.’ What about the second part: ‘seek and ye shall find’?”

“Why, you devil,” Aubrey exclaimed, picking up immediately what Simone was thinking. “Don’t tell us you’re contemplating seeking Kelvin out.”

“Or some Christian guy from your mother’s church. There are some delightful prospects there. But that was just a thought,” Simone added with a chuckle. “Just a thought.”

“Well, for right now, keep it a thought,” Aubrey said.

Chapter 9

“The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.”
– Psalm 34:17

Aubrey threw herself into her work at Katrina Bervoski’s. Before long she was the top employee at the company with many clients.

“Girls, I think I’ll convert mother’s spare room – the long den – into my office, and work from there three days out of the week. That’s something new Bervoski’s added to the job,” Aubrey shared with her friends.

“I have a better idea,” Jennifer said. “Since you haven’t sold your house yet, why don’t you convert it into a kind of model home. Redecorate each room to have its own theme, and customers can get an even better idea of the work you do.”

“I thought about that, but there are just too many bad memories there,” Aubrey said.

“Right. Sorry, I wasn’t thinking,” Jennifer said apologetically.

“I am excited about this new Restoration Reset ministry I’m starting at the church,” Aubrey said, changing the subject. “Mother thinks it will help me heal as well.”

“That’s a great thing to do, Aubrey,” her friends agreed.

“Are you going to call Quintin Rodney and let him know you took his advice?” Simone asked trying not to smile.

“Simone, if you don’t drop that hopeless thinking of yours,” Aubrey warned.

“But we’re still praying ‘Ask and it shall be given unto you,’ Simone interrupted with a smile. “Then after that ‘Seek and you will find.’”

_______________

Pastor Ashton was very excited about the new outreach ministry as Aubrey shared the details with him.

“As it expands, Aubrey, you could even hold meetings at women’s shelters and even at some of the surrounding churches. And you are correct: No telling how many women sitting in the pews are silent victims of domestic abuse. Just the other day, I heard of a pastor who preached a series on domestic abuse and over four hundred women stood up acknowledging that they were victims. And some of them stood up with their abuser sitting right beside them. You’re the perfect person to head it up, seeing that you have experienced it.”

Aubrey had to agree with Pastor Ashton. She silently suffered the abuse from Jamaal because she did not feel there was anyone who would understand what she was going through.

“You know, there’s a verse in Second Corinthians chapter one that speaks about ministering to others; that is, reaching out to comfort others who have a similar hurt as you did.” Reaching for his Bible, Pastor Ashton continued, “It reads, ‘Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of mercies, and God of all comfort; who comfort us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort, wherewith we ourselves are comforted by God.’”

Closing his Bible, Pastor Ashton continued, “I only ask that you introduce those women to Jesus. Let them see the hurt you went through as an avenue to minister to them about how Jesus can heal them, and restore their marriage and family.”

_______________

“You all have to come and support me at the first meeting,” Aubrey said to her friends.

“Of course, we’ll be there,” Jennifer said. “What are you going to talk to the ladies about?”

“There are so many things floating around in my mind. I don’t know exactly where to begin or where to end,” Aubrey confessed. “I tossed some things out at Mother, but she had to remind me that I was mainly speaking to married women.”

“She’s right,” Kelli said.

“You know, you could talk about prayer and how important it is for a husband and wife to pray,” Jennifer suggested.

“That’s what Mother suggested too. She said it wouldn’t be wise to just jump into the abuse issues, but to give them something encouraging starting out.”

_______________

Aubrey and her friends showed up at church early. They laid out notebooks and pens, and had refreshments and cakes ready for the visiting ladies. Ten ladies showed up at the start of the meeting, but there were eighteen present by the end of the meeting. Not bad for a first meeting, Aubrey thought. After the introductions were over, Aubrey stood up to speak.

“Some of you may be thinking how unfair life is and how in the world did you end up in the abusive relationship that you are in. But the mere fact that you are still with that husband of yours is because you have hope that things will get better. You caught a glimpse of a light at the end of this dark tunnel you are going through. Ladies, yes, there is hope; there is a light, and this hope is to be found in Jesus Who is the light of the world. Some of you are discouraged and are just going through the motions of life, but be encouraged, Jesus is there with you.”

“Amen,” Mother Jamison said.

“I am reminded of David. You know David who killed the Philistine giant and wrote the Psalms. Now David had a lot to be down in the dumps about. The king, King Saul, who also happened to be his father-in-law, was after him and trying to kill him. David had to go into hiding, but David always found something to praise God for. In First Samuel chapter thirty, when David and his men returned to their city, they found the city burned down to nothing and their wives and children taken captive. The whole city was destroyed and David’s men wanted to kill him. Yes, David felt discouraged. He probably felt like he had failed his men, but the Bible tells us that David encouraged himself in the Lord.

“Ladies, during this discouraging time that you are going through you can encourage yourself in the Lord too. How? you may ask. By prayer. Stay in touch with God by talking with Him daily. Don’t let a day go by when you do not touch base with God.

“Along with prayer, read your Bible everyday. Study and memorize Scriptures. Remember, God wants to hear from you because He loves you. He knows that you need Him and thus He wants to guide you into a successful life. God also wants to bless your life with good things and good relationships.

“Things may not be going smoothly in your marriage right now, but trust God and remain faithful to Him by prayer, reading your Bible, and, of course, attending church.

“And for those of you who do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Bible says to ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.’ God loves you and we do too.”

EPISODE 4

Chapter 10

“Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness.”
– Psalm 143:1

Simone remained faithful to church attendance. She shared with Aubrey and Mother Jamison over Sunday dinner, “It’s no fun coming home to an empty apartment, having no one to talk to, or to cuddle up with. The noise from the television is not so inviting now.”

“I know what you mean,” Aubrey said.

“God probably moved Kelvin out the way so you and Him could have a more solid relationship,” Mother Jamison told Simone. “There’s a verse in Psalm 37 that says to ‘delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.’ And Matthew 6:33 says to ‘seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.’”

“So,” Simone said with a smile, “if I put God first, He may just bring me and Kelvin back together.”

Mother Jamison laughed. “You could say that, but that should not be your goal. You put God first because you love Him, not to get something from Him.”

“I got you,” Simone said.

“We’re praying for you and Kelvin and for God’s will to be done,” Mother Jamison said.

____________

Simone returned home to find Kelvin waiting outside the apartment.

“I thought I’d stop by to check on you after you didn’t answer my phone call,” he said. “I called several times.”

“Oh, yes. I was over at Aubrey’s for Sunday dinner. I turned it off during church and forgot to turn it back on,” Simone said fumbling in her purse for her phone.

“I still have my key,” Kelvin said unlocking the apartment door as she cut her phone back on. “I guess you didn’t change the lock so I could be free to come and go, right?”

Simone did not answer.

Pushing the door open so Simone could enter, Kelvin asked, “Do you mind if I come in for a few minutes?”

“I guess not,” Simone answered with some hesitation.

“Well, what did Pastor Ashton have to say this Sunday?” he asked. “Anything that will bring us back together?”

“Nope. Not this Sunday,” Simone sighed. “In fact, what he preached on will only keep us further apart.” She avoided looking him directly in his eyes; whenever she did, it seemed as though he was peering into the deep recesses of her soul. He could read her like a book.

“Simone, you know I still have strong feelings for you,” Kelvin said softly, “and I believe you still have feelings for me.”

Simone did not answer.

“If I didn’t I wouldn’t be over here,” he continued.

“I still have feelings for you, too, Kelvin and I’m not going to lie to you,” Simone said. “Your coming over here is stirring up those feelings for you. But I love God, and I really do not want to mess up my new life.”

“But what about our life together? Your new life is messing up our life,” Kelvin said.

“I’m sorry, Kelvin, but my mind is made up. It has not been easy on me since you left. It’s been kind of lonely without you.”

“Why put yourself through that torture when you don’t have to?”

“It’s not torture at all,” Simone said. “I can’t say I understand it all, but Pastor Ashton says God does not call us to understand it all — just to obey it all. The understanding will come later.”

Kelvin shook his head. “Well, I guess I’m going to have to move on with my life,” he said walking towards the door.

“We could move on together if you’d become a Christian.” Kelvin noticed the pleading look in her eyes. “You remember the message Pastor Givens preached at Jamaal’s funeral? All you have to do is believe on Jesus and you will be saved.”

“I remember,” Kelvin said. “It’s just so easy — too easy.”

“Why wouldn’t a loving God make it easy?” Simone said. “I mean simple people like me need to get saved also.” Despite the emotions she was having, Simone was surprised at how boldly she spoke.

“Oh, you’re not simple, baby,” Kelvin said reaching out to hug her. “You’re the smartest person I know.”

He reached down and gave her a kiss and would have let it linger, but Simone was on her guard.

“Stop, Kelvin!” She pushed him away. “I’m serious about this. This might be a final goodbye.”

Kelvin stepped outside the door, but stopped for a couple seconds to say, “I hope not, but I can’t wait to find out.”

Leaning against the door, Simone turned the lock. “Thank You, Jesus, for giving me the strength to take a stand for You,” she prayed.

The phone rang as she said “Amen.”

It was Aubrey.

“We just finished praying for you,” Aubrey told her.

Simone told Aubrey everything that had happened. “I knew somebody had to be praying for me.”

“And we’ll keep praying for Kelvin,” Aubrey assured her. “Why don’t you come live with us? It’s not safe to be there by yourself right now. We’d love to have you. Plus, what if Kelvin turns up and pressures you?” Aubrey continued. “Mother says she will not take ‘no’ for an answer.”

By Wednesday, Simone had moved all her personal belongings out of the apartment. She felt it was only right to let Kelvin know she moved out of the apartment and he could have it if he wanted it.

“Are you sure about this, Simone?”

“Yes, Kelvin.”

“Well, give me a call sometime and feel free to drop by.”

Chapter 11

“Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.”
– Psalm 69:1

 

Kelvin quietly left the apartment. He glanced at his duffle bag. He had stopped by the apartment earlier to collect most of his belongings, but had returned to see if there may be a tiny chance that Simone had had second thoughts about their relationship. After driving around for over an hour, he stopped by the basketball court at the park for his Thursday evening workout with the boys. CJ and Alphonse the Reporter were already there challenging each other to one-on-one.

“Yo! Kelvin! What’s up, bro?” CJ greeted him.

“It’s all good, man. Where’s everybody at? We should have something going on by now,” Kelvin said as they high-fived. Alphonse kept on dribbling the ball before taking it to the hoop.

“It’s still early. It’s only 5:30,” Alphonse said glancing at his watch. They looked up when they heard the familiar sound of a car horn and a blasting radio. “Here they come. Here comes the rest of the gang. I hope you’re ready to put some sweat in this game.”

Seven young men climbed out of a black SUV and a gray Volvo. “Let the game begin,” CJ said after they exchanged greetings, and after forming two teams. “We’re missing some,” CJ said looking around.

“Randy and Travis will be here at 7:00, and the twins won’t be here. They are out of town for their grandmama’s funeral,” Alphonse informed them.

“Thanks, Reporter,” the others said.

“They don’t call me Alphonse the Reporter for nothing. I deliver the news as I hear it, and sometimes before it becomes news,” Alphonse said with a grin. “And I predict my team will be the victory team this evening!”

“Yeah, right! We’ll see, my brotha’. We’ll see,” Corey said. “Heads or tails?”

The boys played hard. Although Kelvin gave it all he had, he knew this was not his best game.

“I know who won’t be on my team on Saturday,” Alphonse the Reporter said. “Don’t handle the ball like a girl, Brother Kelvin, or is it Sista Kelvin today? Play ball like a man. Focus. Concentrate. Didn’t they teach you that in Environ Engineering School?”

Kelvin and the others laughed. “I got things on my mind, that’s all,” Kelvin said.

“Well, the Reporter is looking for some fresh news for his advice column. Right now, let’s play ball like men.”

Alphonse the Reporter was a psychology teacher to the freshman students at the community college. He also wrote the advice column for the college’s Collegiate Newspaper under the pseudonym: Alphonse the Reporter.

The boys played until about 9:00 before calling it a night, seeing it was a weeknight, they all headed home.

“This Saturday–same place, same time,” CJ said before taking off.

“Still got some fresh news for the Reporter?” Alphonse asked Kelvin as he wiped the sweat off his forehead. “Or do you have to rush home to Sister Simone?”

“I still got fresh news, man, and it is about Simone,” Kelvin said. “It’s been weighing me down these past few days.”

“Shoot, my brother. I’m all ears,” Alphonse said as they took a seat on the side bench by the basketball court.

“She basically kicked me out,” Kelvin said nonchalantly.

“Kicked you out?”

“Well, not really,” Kelvin said as he told Alphonse all that had taken place between him and Simone. “She’s going in a different direction now and she’s serious about it. I hate to lose her, though.”

Alphonse thought on what Kelvin had just told him. He knew that Kelvin respected him and often sought his advice ending with “I’m going to make you put your psychology degree to work.”

“I stopped by a couple times to see if she’d changed her mind, but she’s standing by her decision,” Kelvin said looking up into the dark sky.

“When did she become a Christian?” Alphonse asked putting on his professor’s voice.

“At Jamaal’s funeral,” Kelvin replied. “You know, when the pastor asked us to pray and ask Jesus to save us if we wanted to go to Heaven.”

“I remember. I prayed the prayer too,” Alphonse said. “Didn’t you pray it too? Yeah, I was sitting right next to you. I heard you pray the prayer. That means you are a Christian too, so go ahead and marry your woman before you lose her.”

“That’s the problem, Alphonse,” Kelvin said with a sigh. “Yes, I prayed the prayer…but, I didn’t mean it.”

“What do you mean you didn’t mean it?”

“Sorry, man, but it just felt like the right thing to do. I mean, everybody was saying the prayer and I just followed the crowd,” Kelvin admitted. “I can’t say I’ve felt good about it, but I’m glad I didn’t lie to Simone and tell her I prayed when I really didn’t. I can’t lie to her.”

“Well, don’t you want to become a Christian?”

“I don’t know, Alphonse. It just seems so easy–too easy,” Kelvin said. “If I recall, the pastor said all you have to do is believe on Jesus.”

“Did you want God to make it hard? I mean, He does want to take all of us to Heaven.”

Kelvin shrugged his shoulders.

“Personally, I’m glad He made it easy. Kelvin, I’ve had such peace since I asked Jesus to save me.” Chuckling, Alphonse continued, “As soon as I got home from the funeral, I threw away all my worldly possessions. I just didn’t want them anymore. My mama had given me a Bible that’d been sitting in my drawer for some months. I finally pulled it out and have been reading it everyday. She gave a ‘hallelujah’ shout when I told her I asked Jesus into my heart. I’m thinking of attending Pastor Givens’ church. Right now, I’ve been listening to the preachers on television and the internet. Where are you staying, anyway?”

“I’ve been staying at the motel across town for a week now. Even though Simone moved out of our apartment, I haven’t felt like going back there since it was originally a place for both of us.”

“Now, that is stupid,” Alphonse said. “You can stay at my place for some time if you want until you get things figured out. I’m not there most of the time. Right now, it’s getting late and I need to hit the hay. I have an early class to teach tomorrow, so let me know.”

“Sure. I’ll just drive behind you,” Kelvin said.

Once at Alphonse’s place they continued their conversation. “You know, Kelvin, one of the reasons I stopped going to church was because these preachers made Christianity so confusing. One claimed we had to give certain amounts of money each Sunday in the offering plate. Another said we were supposed to live a prosperous life. All I knew was my parents were Christians and we went to church every Sunday, yet, we lived in the projects my entire childhood. I had to work my way out, so that preaching did not ring true with me. More than one of these preachers said we had to be able to speak in tongues. To this day, I do not know how to speak in tongues.”

Kelvin laughed.

“I visited a couple of these tongues-speaking churches and I could not understand a word. Whatever they were saying sounded like gibberish. And I always left there even more confused.

“Pastor Givens gave understandable, and might I add, logical steps to becoming a Christian. I have turned those steps over and over in my mind, and I can tell you what they are: One, we are all sinners. Two, death is the price we have to pay for our sins. Three, Jesus paid for our sins by dying for us. Four, all we have to do is believe what Jesus did for us and know that that is the only way we can be in right standing with God. All you have to do is believe.”

Kelvin nodded as Alphonse continued.

“I mean, the more I think about it, what do I have to lose by following Jesus? In the long run, I have nothing to lose but hell and the devil, and both are worth losing if I’m going to gain Heaven.

“I don’t mean to sound cold and uncaring. I know Simone means a lot to you, but for right now, think about your life and ask yourself, what do you have to lose if you became a Christian and followed Jesus Christ?”

Kelvin nodded as he thought, Nothing, really.

“On the flipside,” Alphonse said, “ask yourself this question: what would you gain if you became a Christian and followed Jesus Christ?”

Chapter 12

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
– Jeremiah 33:3

June 25th was a memorable day for Kelli. It was on that day that God answered one of her prayer requests. She and Trevor tied the knot before he returned to Afghanistan. Aubrey took control and put her designing skills to work for the wedding. The auditorium looked like a picture out of ELLE Decormagazine.

“When I return on a longer leave, we’ll take a cruise to the Bahamas — the honeymoon you’ve always dreamed of,” Trevor assured her as they left for their three-day honeymoon to California. Mother Jamison had given them a three-day all-expenses paid vacation package for their wedding gift.

“There’s no rush now,” Kelli told him. “I only wish you didn’t have to return to Afghanistan. I worry every time you leave especially now that things are so unstable over there.”

“I hate to leave too,” Trevor said brushing her cheeks, “but as Pastor Ashton said, prayer will keep us together even though we’re apart from each other.”

“Have you noticed how much he prays?” Kelli asked.

“Yes, I sure have. There has to be something powerful about prayer for him to pray so often..”

“There sure is,” Kelli agreed. “I know God has answered my prayer because now we are married.”

____________

“Aubrey, you outdid yourself, girl! Wasn’t the auditorium beautiful, Jennifer? I can see why Bervoski wants to keep you. When I get married, I want you to design my wedding,” Simone said.

“You bet,” Aubrey said.

“Have you spoken with Kelvin lately?” Jennifer asked curiously.

“No,” Simone sighed. “I had to finally accept that I may never have a close relationship with him again. It was the toughest decision I ever had to make, but I’m glad I did. I am at peace about it.”

“We just have to pray harder to get him into the Kingdom,” Jennifer said. “Why don’t we pray for him right now.”

The women prayed for Kelvin’s salvation, taking God at His Word to ask and ye shall receive.

“Hey, Aubrey, have you noticed how extra perky Jennifer has been since the wedding?” Simone asked after they had finished praying. “I wonder what’s up.”

“I sure have,” Aubrey said, nudging Simone with her elbow. “I also noticed how she spent the entire reception talking with Trevor’s best man, Brett. What’s up with that?”

“Hmm, I’m not sure. Maybe it has something to do with our ‘ask and ye shall receive’ request to God for her–you know: a quiet life with a good, Christian man to live it with. Brett seems to fit that description: a handsome, good, church-going Christian, and hopefully, a praying man.” Both girls peered at Jennifer. “So, tell us something,” Simone said slyly.

Jennifer laughed as she slurped her smoothie. “Okay, okay. Yes, we spent quite a bit of time together talking at the reception; and yes, we did exchange numbers; and yes, we’ve spoken everyday since then; and yes, he was honorably discharged from the military a few months ago; and yes, he’s going to continue his studies to become medical doctor.”

“Talk about made for each other! Aubrey, do you see what’s happening before our very eyes? Two medical students attracted to each other. There’s going to be two doctors in the family. I know they have a lot in common. What do you think?” Simone said excitedly.

Aubrey smiled and nodded.

“And,” Jennifer continued, “no, it’s way too early to tell if we’re meant for each other, so you two can stop being nosy. Now, guess what?”

Aubrey and Simone were all ears.

“He prays every time before we say ‘goodbye’!”

“Oh, yes, you got yourself a good one,” Simone sighed dreamily. They all laughed.

____________

God was not giving Kelvin any rest. Now that he knew what to do regarding salvation, he really had no excuse, and was reminded daily, “Today is the day of salvation, tomorrow is not promised you.”

Alphonse must have this place rigged, Kelvin thought as he opened the refrigerator one evening hoping to find at least one drink. He did see a change in Alphonse–the same change he saw in Simone: they seemed to be at peace with themselves. He heard and saw Alphonse pray and read his Bible just as he had seen Simone do. No matter the context of the conversation he had with Alphonse, it always somehow ended up on a spiritual note. Alphonse had even prayed with him a few times.

The radio that had before blasted out secular music, was now tuned to a Christian radio station. Alphonse would end up at one of the three Christian television stations after flipping through different channels searching for something to watch.

“The dirty music I used to listen to, I have no desire to listen to anymore,” he told Kelvin. “Even some of the movies I used to watch, I really have no desire for them. Not that I still don’t like to watch a good movie every now and then,” he laughed. “On a serious note though, Kelvin, it’s not so much what you have to give up as a Christian, it’s just that your priorities become different.”

Surfing the internet one evening, Alphonse came across a few churches that had internet campuses. One was Pastor Givens’ church.

“There he goes,” Alphonse said to Kelvin. “There’s my preacher. Why don’t you come with me this Sunday to church. I’ve been praying for a church to begin attending.”

Kelvin accompanied Alphonse, hoping his attending would quiet that still, small voice that kept convicting him.

“He’s still preaching on how to get saved,” Alphonse said as they drove home. “So did you pray and ask Jesus to save you?”

“Not yet,” Kelvin said, “but I’ll get around to it. Keep praying for me to ‘see the light’ as the Pastor said.”

“God really has already shown you the light,” Alphonse said. “You just need to walk in it, now.”

“Things just seem a little cloudy,” Kelvin said.

“Okay then, I’ll pray for God to remove the haze that’s over your eyes and mind so that you’ll clearly see the light.”

“Please do,” Kelvin said. “By the way, Corey called me yesterday. He mentioned something about having a party with all the works the next two Fridays. He says to be sure to tell you, seeing he couldn’t get you on your cell. Are you going?”

“No, sir. Like I told you, some things I used to do, I don’t do them anymore, and partying is one of those things. My Fridays will be spent with Pastor Givens at prayer meeting or witnessing for the Lord from now on. One of the men of the church I was talking with said they had a basketball team that practices on Fridays after the prayer time.” As an afterthought, Alphonse added, “I still play with you guys on Thursdays and Saturdays. Why don’t you come with me to the prayer meetings?”

EPISODE 5

Chapter 13

On Friday night, Kelvin headed to Corey’s house to attend his party. Music greeted him from a block away. Corey got it going on for sure. He knows how to put it together, Kelvin thought excitedly.

He parked his car as close to the house as possible. Others greeted him as they made their way to the house. Alphonse does not know what he is missing, Kelvin thought as he entered through the front door.

“Hey, Kelvin!” CJ greeted him. “Where’s the Reporter? I thought you two would be together.”

“Oh, he went to Bible study. I waited for him as long as I could,” Kelvin replied.

“Man, I thought he was joking when he told me he was going to Bible study,” CJ said. “He’s serious about being a Christian, isn’t he?”

Kelvin nodded.

“What’s it like living with a Christian? You must be on pins and needles all the time,” CJ said laughing.

“No, man. He does his thing and I do my thing. We respect each other,” Kelvin said. “But I do hear him praying for me, so it’s a good thing.”

“Hi, Kelvin,” said Keron, a long time acquaintance. Looking around she said, “I don’t see Simone; did she come with you?”

“Oh, she couldn’t make it tonight.”

“Good for me. Maybe I can have the first dance,” Keron said shoving her arm into Kelvin’s arm. “Come with me and I’ll show you a night to remember.”

And Keron went all out to keep her word to show Kelvin a night to remember so much so that they spent the weekend together.

____________

Saturday’s Restoration Reset meeting went well. Not only were the ladies growing in their faith walk, but they were growing numerically as well. Word was getting around as marriages were being strengthened, relationships were being healed, and self-worth and self-dignity were being restored in the lives of those who had been beaten down by those they loved the most.

“This week, ladies, we will have a special time of sharing and after that we will partake of a special meal prepared by some of our faithful members. We want you to relax, laugh, cry, hug each other. This will be like a mini-conference,” Aubrey told the ladies. “I want ten ladies to volunteer to share their testimony with us as to what the Lord is doing in their relationship.”

After prayer and a praise song, volunteers gave their testimony.

Karen stood up and said, “I first attended this meeting with much reservation thinking what could this lady, Aubrey, who is younger than me tell me about how to handle domestic violence. After I heard her testimony, I felt a kindred spirit, and I marvelled at how God delivered her. This gave me hope that through prayer God would work things out, and He is.”

Claire was next. “One thing Aubrey and her mother shared with us was how to get saved. Well, I got saved by asking Jesus into my heart. Because of that, I have viewed my situation from a different angle. I ask myself: What have I done, or what am I doing that may have contributed to a negative response from my husband? Well, God showed me my part in the matter and thank God I was willing to change, and we still don’t have the ‘perfect’ marriage, but it’s much better.”

Donna shared: “My husband and I finalized our divorce the week after the second meeting. I kept coming anyway. I only wished I had the counseling and sound advice Aubrey, Mother Jamison and First Lady Ashton have been giving out sooner. I believe that would have saved my marriage.”

Kiera said, “I still have a heaviness on my heart and I ask you to continue to pray for me. I am getting ready to finalize our divorce. Right now, my husband has our two children—a four year old and a six year old. He’s using them to control me because he knows I will never turn my back on my children. Pray that I get the right lawyer. The court has appointed me one, but she seems disinterested in the case and just keeps telling me to let my husband have the children. I don’t feel good in my spirit about that.”

“I wish we had videotaped the meeting,” Mother Jamison said as they drove home.

“I’ll never forget it,” Simone said. “Aubrey, God is really using you to make a difference in the lives of those ladies and I thank you for allowing us to be a part of it.”

“You are all welcome,” Aubrey said.

Each of them became engrossed in their own thoughts before Aubrey blurted out, “Guess who called me Wednesday night after church? Simone you were asleep.”

The girls guessed but were unsuccessful.

“Roger,” Aubrey said.

“Roger? Who’s Roger?” Jennifer asked.

“Oh, yeah, I forgot you all do not know Roger. The last time I saw him was just before I got married. He’s a member of Mt. Salem United Methodist. You’ve met his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hawthorne. He’s been away at college in Florida.”

“Sooo?” Simone asked.

“So, he asked me to go out with him. I told him to call me back later today as I would be tied up the rest of the week,” Aubrey replied. “So what do you think?”

“Aubrey, we still do not know who this Roger is,” Kelli said. “Tell him to come to church tomorrow and make his presence known so we can size him up.”

“Yeah, we don’t like surprises,” Simone agreed.

Chapter 14

Sunday morning found the young ladies in their respective places at the church serving God in their ministries: Jennifer in the nursery; Kelli with the 4-5 year olds; Simone and Aubrey helping Mother Jamison and a few other ladies with welcome packages as well as serving breakfast to those who came to eat.

As usual, the worship service was uplifting and the young ladies enjoyed great fellowship after the services. Aubrey was discussing the next Saturday’s Restoration meeting with First Lady Ashton. A well-dressed young man approached them.

“Hello, Mrs. Ashton, how are you today?”

“Roger Hawthorne. How are you doing? It’s so good to see you. How is college life?” First Lady Ashton asked.

Aubrey glanced up from the notes she was scribbling down on a notepad when she heard the name ‘Roger Hawthorne.’

I must be dreaming, she almost blurted out. Did I hear the name correctly? Because this well dressed young man before me is not the Roger Hawthorne I know.

“Aubrey, you remember Roger, don’t you? You used to go to high school and this church together,” First Lady Ashton said giving him a motherly hug. “My, you have grown.”

He certainly has, Aubrey thought. “Yes, I believe I remember him,” she said shaking the hand he extended to her.

“Hi, Aubrey. It’s good to see you again, especially since it’s been over three years since we last saw each other.”

Aubrey and First Lady Ashton exchanged a few more words after which First Lady Ashton moved on to greet some other folks. Aubrey could not believe it was actually Roger standing before her.

____________

“He’s a totally new person,” she told her mother and Simone as they drove home. “Not only in the way he dresses, but also in the way he speaks. There has to be a story behind this before and after picture. Mother, do you know anything?”

Mother Jamison chuckled. “I’ll tell you what little I know. He left for college the same year you got married. He went down to Florida A&M. For the first year he came home on major holidays, but the last two years he stayed down in Florida even for the holidays. So I have not seen him for the past two years myself.”

“Well, Florida must have done him some good because he’s certainly different,” Aubrey chuckled.

Mother Jamison smiled. “I didn’t tell you this because you were married, but his mother told me that he was always asking about you. He told her that he always liked you and he was somewhat disappointed when you had gotten married.”

“Are you serious?” Aubrey asked.

Simone laughed from the back seat. “A secret admirer finally surfacing. This is going to be better than a romance novel.”

“You know, Simone, I felt for sure Roger would make a good husband for Aubrey, but Aubrey was not interested in him at all,” Mother Jamison said.

“Yes, girl, I could not stomach him. He was too effeminate back then. Shy. I mean, shy. And he was always grinning. He would not say a word, but he could show those teeth. And, girl, he had a bad case of acne,” Aubrey said.

“Oh, really,” Simone said.

“It was real bad, wasn’t it, Mother?” Aubrey said turning to her mother.

Mother Jamison nodded. “I kept telling Aubrey it would clear up, but she did not want to hear it. Look at him now—not one blemish.”

Simone laughed.

“He used to be a wimpy looking kid, and he always wore this blue sports jacket to church. It looked three times his size. He was non-verbal, non-forward, and non-appealing, but now he is…”

“Masculine looking,” Simone added.

“Yeah, that’s the word I am searching for,” Aubrey said. “I guess college really does transform a person—not just intellectually, but physically as well.”

“So did you accept his offer?” Simone asked.

“I sure did,” Aubrey said. “I’m going more out of curiosity. Tuesday at six.”

____________

After they settled down in a private booth at Outback Steakhouse, Aubrey could not help but ask the question she had been dying to ask.

“Roger, please don’t take this the wrong way, but the last time I saw you, you were much skinnier, but now you are much bigger. Have you been working out?”

“Like what you see?” Roger said flexing a muscle. “To tell you the truth, I was a little embarrassed at my size. I would stand before the mirror and flex what muscle I thought I had.”

Aubrey giggled. She could just imagine him before the mirror.

“I actually blamed myself for you going off and marrying someone else. I felt if I put some muscles on, I could have any girl I wanted; I went off to college to fulfill that dream. I hung out at the football field and watched them practice. I befriended one of the players and talked him into working with me. He saw that as a personal challenge and he told me, ‘You’re going to look like a new man when I am finished with you.’”

Aubrey smiled. “Well, he’s a great coach.”

“I also got this job at a packing plant loading and unloading trucks; that involved lifting some heavy boxes. I planned it all,” Roger said with a laugh.

“Well, it certainly paid off,” Aubrey said. “Now tell me this: how many girls did you leave behind in Florida panting after the new you?”

Roger burst out laughing. “A string of girls, but I came back to the one I always had my heart set on.”

Aubrey blushed as Roger continued. “Please don’t think I’m being heartless and cold, but I’m kind of glad things didn’t work out between you and your husband because now I have a chance at having a relationship with the girl of my dreams.”

Aubrey pretended to be busy cutting her steak as she did not know what to say. After her tumultuous marriage to Jamaal, she was more cautious about entering into another relationship and especially so soon, but she had to admit to herself: I like the new Roger.

“Roger, you ought to be ashamed of yourself,” she said casually. “And you need to slow your roll. I’m not ready for all of that right now.”

Roger had her laughing the whole time they were out. She enjoyed herself so much she took him up on his offer for another date on Saturday.

Chapter 15

Roger picked Aubrey up in a brand new Hummer with 32-inch rims.

“Who in the world is that?” Mother Jamison asked peering out the window after hearing a loud horn beep.

“That’s Roger,” Aubrey said slinging her purse with the long straps over her shoulder. “He told me one of his hobbies was rebuilding cars. He plans on using his engineering degree not just to work for someone, but to design a vehicle that’s ‘out of this world’ to use his words.”

“Well, that thing out there is certainly out of this world,” Mother Jamison commented. “Couldn’t he have driven his blue Maxima? You make sure you tell him I say to be careful in that thing.”

Mother Jamison stepped out the door and waved to Roger who returned the wave with a toot of the horn.

Although Aubrey had on her Calvin Klein baggy jeans with matching jacket, she stood outside the passenger side of the vehicle wondering, How in the world will I ever get up in this thing? Roger was by her side in seconds. He had on a pair of jeans as well with a T-shirt. Slipping his hands around Aubrey’s waist, he effortlessly swung her up on to the seat.

They drove around town and ended up on a back dirt road.

“Let me show you what I can do. You might want to tighten your seatbelt.”

Aubrey fastened her seatbelt without hesitation. Roger did all kinds of maneuvers with his vehicle. The last time Aubrey could remember having such crazy fun was just before she and Jamaal got married. I didn’t realize how much I missed doing something crazy every now and then, she thought as she bounced up and down. They stopped off at Billy Jr’s Bar-B-Cue Pit Stop.

“They have a packed house,” Aubrey said as she noticed a few people standing outside the door.

“Yes, but I have connections,” Roger said hopping out the car. “You wait right here.”

He was back in a few minutes with two carry-out trays. “I told you I got connections. Billy Jr. is a friend of mine. I got him to fix me up.”

Roger parked the car in a more secluded spot at the back of the restaurant.

“I want you to consider something,” he said to Aubrey as she bit into her barbecue baby back ribs.

Aubrey nodded.

“I hope this is not too early, but considering we are not entirely strangers — would you consider being my girl?”

Aubrey almost choked.

“How many boys come outright and ask a girl to be their girl? It’s something that just happens,” she told her mother and friends over Sunday dinner. “I told him I would think about it and that I did not want to rush into a serious relationship yet.”

Aubrey noticed that Simone was extra quiet. All of her friends voiced positive things about Roger except her.

“Well, what do you think about Roger?” Aubrey asked her as they got ready for bed.

“I don’t know, Aubrey. I know I just met him, but I don’t feel comfortable in my spirit about him. Maybe I just need to spend more time getting to know him; but please be careful.”

EPISODE 6

Chapter 16

I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. –Habakkuk 2:1

Quite a number of single ladies had started attending the Restoration Reset meetings. Aubrey decided to minister to them specifically this week.

“I am going to share with you some pointers on how, as a single lady, you can be involved in a relationship and be on the winning side, and also the kind of man you should not marry.”

The ladies nudged each other as they turned their attention to Aubrey.

“One, if you are a Christian, do not marry a man who is not a Christian because the Bible says, ‘Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?’ In other words, the God in you is not going to work with the devil in him.

“Two, do not marry a man who does not have a job because if you do, you will end up taking care of him instead of him taking care of you. He is going to be on the couch like a little boy flipping channels while you are going to be out flipping deals. He ought to have a job by which he can take care of his family and responsibilities. In other words, his money alone should take care of you, the children, and all household bills, debts, and obligations. He should not have to depend on your money to pay household obligations. You keep your money to take care of personal needs and to help take care of fun stuff for the children, and to have something in case the family lands on hard times financially.

“Three, do not marry a lazy man or else the saying ‘a woman’s work is never done’ will definitely ring true for you because you will be doing your work and his work too.

“Four, do not marry a man who does not have a goal, who does not have a purpose, and who does not have drive in life. Such a man will lead you to a dead-end street every time, all the time.

“And, fifth, do not marry a dawg. Notice I did not say d-o-g; I said d-a-w-g. What is a dawg?”

“A cheater,” one of the ladies shouted.

“A player,” another shouted.

“My husband,” another said. This sent ripples of laughter among the ladies.

“You might be thinking, well then, I can’t marry anybody. My response to that is: so what?” Aubrey said. “Some of us get so wrapped up in a man we lose all sense of reality; we begin to act irrationally. Notice I said, ‘we.’ I was so wrapped up in Jamaal, I would not even listen to my own mother when she tried to warn me against marrying him.”

Aubrey let that sink in before continuing. “That is all I am going to say today. I’ll let Jennifer share with you how to win in a relationship. I can truthfully say that Jennifer has lived a scandal-free, pure life and she is truly happy. Take it away, Jennifer.”

Jennifer smiled confidently as she came to the front. “First, ladies, never give a man you are not married to your heart and never give a man your body until you are married. You will get disappointed and hurt if you don’t follow this rule.”

“Tell me about it,” Kiera said.

“I had some friends in high school who kept telling me they were trying out the boys they were talking to. No, you do not need to try out men, and neither should you let them try you out. For what? So you can be the center of their talk in the locker room? Some men see you as a thing to be conquered. The word ‘no’ is a small word, but it is a very powerful word. Use it often when dealing with men.”

Samantha, the youngest in the group raised her hand and asked, “Jennifer, how do you know these things if you have never been involved with a man yourself?”

“My parents told me to keep myself pure until marriage. The reasons I just shared with you are the same reasons they shared it with me.”

“Do you still follow their advice?”

“Yes, except the one about not giving my phone number out,” Jennifer smiled. “I would like to get married one day and raise a family, and although I am praying for a good man I know I have to make myself available. Ladies, you pray in a good man; God is interested in that area of your life also.”

…………

Mother Jamison, Aubrey, and Simone stopped by the store on their way home. As they headed into aisle seven, Simone stopped suddenly. About a third of the way down the aisle, they saw Kelvin and Keron. Kelvin had his arm around her waist. Aubrey started to guide Simone in the opposite direction, but Simone said, “No. I can handle it.”

“Hello, Kelvin, and hello, Keron,” Simone said to them. “It’s good to see you both.”

Kelvin was surprised but returned the greeting as he did Mother Jamison’s and Aubrey’s. As his eyes met Simone’s again, he could see the hurt and disappointment.

“Come on, Kelvin,” Keron said in a huff. “Let’s go.”

Aubrey slipped her arm around Simone’s shoulders as she whispered, “Don’t worry. We’ll keep praying regarding that matter. I’m sure God has something better in store for you.”

Chapter 17

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving. –Colossians 4:2

 

Apart from her job at Bervoski’s and church obligations, Roger filled up the rest of Aubrey’s waking hours.

“I’ll be by to pick you up at about 5:45,” Roger told her over the phone.

“Tonight’s Wednesday prayer meeting, Roger,” Aubrey reminded him. “I’d love to relax a little before church; plus, I have already eaten.”

“Be ready to go by 5:45.”

Roger turned up promptly at 5:45 and tooted his horn.

“I’ll try to be back to ride with you to the church,” Aubrey told Simone and her mother as she exited the front door.

“This had better be good,” Aubrey said to Roger with a smile.

…………

“Mother Jamison, I don’t like this at all,” Simone said after Aubrey left. “Roger is jerking her around quite a bit. I am amazed she does not see that yet.”

“So you noticed that too?” Mother Jamison asked.

“I mean, it’s not that she doesn’t know she shouldn’t let him pull her around on a string like that. She hardly has any time to herself anymore. She caters to his every beck and call. This is really getting me upset,” Simone said.

“Don’t get worked up, Simone,” Mother Jamison said. “Let’s just pray that she does not make the same mistakes she made with Jamaal, and that she will take heed to the talk she gave the single ladies at the last meeting.”

“Okay,” Simone said reluctantly. “I just do not like how things are going between them.”

…………

“Where are we going that’s so important that it couldn’t wait?” Aubrey asked.

“Can’t I take my girl out when I want to?” Roger said. “Or do I have to get her permission? Next, I guess I’m going to have to get your mother’s permission.”

Aubrey looked at him in surprise.

“I’m just asking, Roger. I don’t like going out just before prayer meeting unless it’s an emergency, and…”

“Well, consider this an emergency then,” Roger interrupted her.

“Just make sure I’m back at the church before seven,” Aubrey said quietly. “I hate being late for services.”

“I’ll get you there when you get there,” Roger replied.

Aubrey was taken aback at his abruptness. She went over in her mind the last time they spoke and the last time they went out. She could not place a finger on anything that took place that may have stirred such a change in him, but she was determined to have a pleasant time.

“Is everything on the up and up, Roger? You seem a little disturbed about something.”

“Me, disturbed about something? No, I never let anyone or anything disturb me,” Roger said, “but I can’t have my girl questioning me every time I decide to take her out.”

Aubrey managed a half smile. “I don’t recall questioning you every time you’ve wanted to take me out. I’ve just kindly reminded you that I have other obligations, and it would be thoughtful of you to consider my schedule when you make plans.”

“Well, Aubrey, you need to be ready to go whenever I want to take you out,” Roger said. “Any girl of mine has to be available when I am.”

Aubrey raised her eyebrows. “Do you plan on going to prayer meeting tonight? I haven’t seen you there on Wednesday nights unless I keep missing you.”

“Naw, all that praying is not that important. You pray when you need God, and for me, that’s not very often.”

Aubrey could not believe what she had just heard. She allowed those words to sink in before replying, choosing her response very carefully.

“Roger, the Bible says that, as Christians, we should pray without ceasing. I know you do believe in God because you come to church and have been coming for years now.”

“Yes, but I’ve had some questions lately.”

“What about? Maybe I can help you come up with some answers,” Aubrey said. “I’m no Bible scholar, but…”

“But the answer is, no. I’ll come up with my own answers,” Roger said curtly. “Look, Aubrey, I did not pick you up to have a Bible study. If I want one, I’ll go to church. Okay?”

“Okay,” Aubrey replied quietly.

Roger drove aimlessly around town before stopping at Billy Jr’s Bar-B-Q Pit Stop.

“Just wait here,” he said slamming the car door shut.

Aubrey watched him stride into the restaurant. She kept her eyes on the door, glancing down once at her watch. It was 6:43.

This is unbelievable. This is just unbelievable. This new Roger is certainly a new Roger. He is starting to take over all the free time that I have. And on top of that, he does not see the importance of prayer. What have I gotten myself into? Aubrey thought.

Aubrey anxiously watched the customers go in and out. It was a busy evening. She was about to glance at her watch again when she saw Kelvin exit the restaurant with Keron hanging on his arm.

Well, I’ll be. She watched Keron give him a kiss on the cheek. I’ll put a stop to this, she thought rolling the car window down.

“Hey, Kelvin!” Aubrey shouted waving at him.

“Aubrey, what’s up?” Kelvin said as he approached her. “It’s been a while. How’s Simone? I have not heard from her nor seen her in a while.”

“She’s doing great!” Aubrey said. “Did you know she got the promotion at the bank?”

“Yes, she did tell me she had put in for the promotion. I need to call and congratulate her.”

Keron cleared her throat.

“Excuse me, Aubrey, this is Keron. Keron, this is Aubrey.”

“Pleased to meet you again, Keron,” Aubrey said.

“Who are you here with?” Kelvin asked.

“A friend named Roger. And here he comes,” Aubrey said nodding her head in Roger’s direction. Roger had a brown bag in his hand.

“Oh, yeah. I met him a few days ago,” Kelvin said greeting Roger. “Billy Jr. introduced us.”

Turning to Roger, Kelvin continued. “I didn’t know you know Aubrey. She’s a good friend of mine. I won’t hold you two up any longer. I know you’re probably headed on out to prayer meeting on this Wednesday. You tell Simone I say ‘hello’ and tell her my number is the same.”

“I will,” Aubrey said. “Her number is the same also.”

“I hope that’s all he is—just a friend,” Roger said as he drove off, “because you are all mine.”

Although Aubrey pretended to laugh it off, she took note of how seriously Roger said those words. “I’m pretty sure you saw him with Keron. He and my friend, Simone, used to go together. Are we headed to the church now? We’re late as it is already.”

“As soon as I put some gas in the tank. Why are you so whiny?” Roger said. “I should have followed my instincts and left you alone.”

I wish you had, Aubrey thought.

While Roger went to pay for the gas, Aubrey’s hand brushed against the paper bag Roger had left on the seat between them.

The contents did not smell like Bar-B-Q, and curiosity got the better of Aubrey. She peeked into the bag and noticed a vial full of liquid, two syringes, and a plastic bag with some kind of powder.

Drugs, Aubrey immediately thought. She recognized it from her marriage with Jamaal. Aubrey quickly refolded the bag and pretended to be doing a touch-up on her make-up in the visor mirror. I don’t want to believe that I am another statistic, but why is it that I always somehow go for the same kind of man? It’s like I have a sign on my back that says, ‘I don’t want a man; I want a drug addict.’

“Here,” Roger said tossing a bottle of fruit juice at her. “I’m gonna head on to my place. We can hang out together there and get to know each other better.”

“No, Roger! You’re taking me to the church right now and I mean it. You know I came with you under the assumption that we would be back in time for prayer meeting,” Aubrey said adamantly. “And if you don’t take me there, this is the last time you’ll see me.”

Roger laid his hand on the bag and seemed to be thinking about what to say next.

“Okay, whatever you say. I had something special planned for us, but it can wait for another time…if I don’t share it with someone else.”

Chapter 18

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:6-7

 

Aubrey was quiet on the way home from Prayer Meeting. She had been nearly a half hour late, and that really ticked her off so much that she could hardly enjoy the services. Mother Jamison and Simone noticed her unusual quietness, but said nothing about it.

“Okay, Aubrey,” Simone said entering her bedroom before they retired for the night. “Spill it! What happened between you and Roger?”

“Oh, we kind of parted on a sour note,” Aubrey sighed. “To sum it all up: one, he does not see the importance of prayer; two, he is beginning to question God; three, because I am ‘his girl,’ I must be available whenever he wants me.”

Simone wanted to say I told you, but knew that would not help. “Tell me exactly what happened and please do not leave anything out.”

Aubrey complied, leaving out the drugs she saw in the bag.

“So he wants you as his little puppet. Remember what you told the single ladies when you spoke with them? ‘Some of us get so wrapped up in a man we lose all sense of reality.’ Aubrey, you need to stop and look at where you two are headed in this relationship. Things seem to be happening too fast and, quite frankly, too wrong, if you ask me,” Simone said. “I mean you really do not know what he was up to while he was in Florida. It seems to me he got entangled with the wrong crowd, or he’s mingling with the wrong crowd now.”

“You’re right,” Aubrey agreed. “I’ve never really questioned him much about his years in Florida, and I do not know his circle of friends either.”

“Tell me this,” Simone said, “why do you really want to go out with Roger? You’ve got to have a reason.”

“You know I have never really thought about it.” After a few seconds, Aubrey replied, “I just miss the crazy off-the-wall things Jamaal used to do, so I guess I want a man to add some excitement to my life; to keep me laughing all the time, and Roger has done that for the most part. And, girl, I think I’m ready to start having sex again. I really miss that part of my life. As you know, once you are not a virgin any more and once you have been married to a man for a while like I was with Jamaal, that desire to have sex is stronger. So, you pray with me about that.”

“I thought the Lord was adding enough excitement to your life?” Simone said. “You’ve always given me the impression that He does.”

“Yes, but…”

“Yes, but you’re looking for something else,” Simone finished her statement for her.

“I’m afraid so,” Aubrey said. “But, the truth of the matter is, I want both.”

“You know something,” Simone replied, “I’ve experienced life with Kelvin without the Lord, and now I am experiencing life with the Lord. Like you, I wanted to hang on to Kelvin for all the wrong reasons—some of them, the same reasons you gave. But now that I know the Lord, I must say, you’re wanting a man for the wrong reasons as well.”

“What else is there to want a man for?” Aubrey asked. “I mean, Jesus takes care of all of our spiritual needs; but we need someone to take care of some other needs.”

Simone sighed. “Aubrey, I can’t believe I am the one saying this, but like I said, you want a man for all the wrong reasons. You should want a man to glorify God first, to pray with you, and to help you spiritually, and then, as Jesus said in Matthew, all the other things will be added unto you. In fact, isn’t that what you told me once before? I am a little jealous over Kelli and Jennifer—they both have a man who prays with them and for them. I am secretly praying for a man who will pray with me and who I can lean on spiritually. I guess Kelvin just wasn’t the one.”

“Yeah,” Aubrey said thoughtfully. “I guess I do need a man who will join me in putting God first, and who will also pray with me and for me.”

 

The next morning, Mother Jamison dittoed Simone’s words to Aubrey and added her words of wisdom.

“You know God has a sense of humor. By that I mean, if you fail in a situation, or if you make a wrong decision, or if you choose the disobedient route, God will put you right back in a similar situation to see if you will pass the test the second time. And He’ll repeat that test as often as necessary. God has all the time in the world, child. The problem is we don’t.”

“I don’t quite get it,” Aubrey said.

“I believe you got it,” her mother said. “Anyway, from what you have shared with me, and from what I have observed from your phone call conversations with Roger, I see a lot of Jamaal in him, meaning, he has that same controlling streak in him that smacks of disrespect. He does not even come to the door when he picks you up, at least to show me, as your mother, some respect. And there you go, running your tail out to him allowing him to disrespect both of us.”

Aubrey twisted her mouth as she thought on what her mother was sharing with her.

“Obviously you’re not fully sold out to God. Roger showing back up in your life is shedding light on the insecure part of you that comes out when you are around him. Always remember, Aubrey, someone said, ‘our heart is restless until it rests with God’; and right now, your heart is restless. Not only is your heart restless, but your body is restless, and your desire to have sex with a man is making you think and act silly. When you have that desire, you need to go take a cold shower and become a woman of the Word by reading the Word of God daily and by living by God’s Word and not your feelings, your emotions, and your sexual impulses. Other women have done it and you can do it too. And, in fact, the best way to get a man, keep a man, enjoy a man, and have your freedom too, is to become a virtuous woman who is guided by the Word of God and not your feelings, your emotions, and your desires. When you become a woman like that, a man will move heaven and earth for you.”

Aubrey thought on her mother’s words as she went about her obligations that day. She had to admit that even Simone, for a young Christian, seemed to have a closer walk with God than she did. She sought the advice of Kelli and Jennifer regarding this matter.

“You know,” Kelli said, “I can say this without hesitation, and that is when I pray with Trevor, even over the phone, I feel secure and strengthened. There is something about having a strong Christian person to pray with you. And I know that you’re thinking that prayer and being spiritual will kill the sexual fire. But I am here to tell you, sister, that is far from the truth. Once you hook up with a spiritual man who is in touch with God, you will have the greatest sex of your life. Having that connection with God takes away a lot of the cares, worries, fears, and anxieties that most people in the world carry, and you can enjoy each other sexually often and more intensely.”

“Excuse me, girlfriends,” Aubrey said. “It’s getting hot in here.”  They all burst out laughing. “But, seriously, you all are really helping me today.”

“Everything is going to be alright,” Jennifer said. “We have been where you are and we’re going to pray you through this and walk with you through this. But you need to be reminded of what you already know, and that is: no man can make you happy, no man can totally fulfill the needs that you have in your life. Only God can do that. So you must put God first, and He’ll give you the man He wants you to have and everything else you’ll need. Be encouraged, baby, and be strong in the Lord.”

EPISODE #7

Chapter 19

On Friday evening, Kelvin was hurrying to another party at Corey’s house.

“Are you sure you don’t want to join us?” he asked Alphonse. “The last party was off the chain. The deejay was really throwing down.”

“No, man,” Alphonse said. “The things I used to do, I don’t do any more. The songs I used to sing, I don’t sing any more. My song now is ‘Jesus Saves’.”

Kelvin waved his hand, indicating he didn’t want to hear anymore. “All right, you’re sounding just like one of those preachers now. I hear you,” he said.

“Seriously though, Kelvin, the Bible says to avoid the appearance of evil, and as a follower of Christ, I have to stay away from that which looks evil,” Alphonse said.

“Aw, come on. You’ve been to our parties before,” Kelvin said. “Nothing really evil goes on—some music, some beer, a little dancing, a whole lot of talking, and you might even get hooked up with a fine sister, like I did last time with Keron.”

Alphonse shook his head. “Let me pray with you before you take off,” he offered.

Kelvin reluctantly bowed his head as Alphonse prayed for God’s protection over them both and for Kelvin to one day turn his life over to the Lord.

……………….

After picking Keron up, Kelvin headed for Corey’s house.

“Where is the Reporter?” CJ asked when they arrived. “Still at church?”

“No, he’s at his apartment. He’s already been to church and back,” Kelvin said.

“I see you have Keron with you tonight,” CJ said. “I thought you were with Simone?”

“Nah, she got religion, too. Same as Alphonse. We had to go our separate ways.”

“Aw, man,” CJ said. “She was a good person. Well, anyway, let me introduce you to someone.”

Just then, someone called out to Kelvin from across the room. It was Billy Jr. “Kelvin, good to see you,” he said. “I thought you’d never make it. Let’s go, CJ.”

Billy Jr. led Kelvin and CJ into a hazy, smoke-filled room. With the smoke and the low lighting, Kelvin could hardly make out who else was in the room, but he figured it was about a dozen people. CJ introduced him to someone standing by a long table that ran along the wall. He had a syringe poised, ready to prick his arm.

“Kelvin, this is Roger,” CJ said.

“You’re the Roger I met in the parking lot at Billy Jr.’s Bar-B-Q, right? You were there with my friend, Aubrey.”

“That was me,” Roger agreed. “It’s good to see you again. Want a shot of this? There’s plenty.”

“Naw, man. I don’t do drugs,” Kelvin said.

After chatting with Roger for a few minutes and grabbing a cold drink afterwards, Kelvin returned to the main room to see another man with his arm around Keron’s shoulders. Now, Simone would have never let that happen, he thought as he quickly walked over to them.

“What’s going on here? This is my girl, man.”

“Sorry, bro. I thought she was alone. She never let on,” the man said backing away.

“Well, now you know,” Kelvin snapped, taking Keron firmly by the arm and leading her over to an open window. “Look, when you’re with me, you show me some respect. I don’t want you all up in other men’s faces. You got that?”

“Mmm. Jealous, huh? Or are you just insecure?” Keron smirked.

“Neither,” Kelvin said, then added, “Simone would never have done that.”

“You’re here with me and not Simone. And if she’s so good, why aren’t you still with her? You need to make up your mind. What’s it going to be: me or her?” Without giving him a chance to answer, Keron continued, “I don’t know what you’re here for, but I’m here to party and that means getting down with whoever will get down with me.” Keron strutted off and disappeared onto the dance floor.

Kelvin returned to the smoke-filled room. Roger was now rolling a marijuana joint. It disturbed Kelvin that Roger, who was a friend of Aubrey, was doing drugs.

“You may want to go light on that, Roger. I know Aubrey wouldn’t approve.”

“Oh, yeah? And just what do you know about Aubrey?”

“She and my girl, Simone, hang out together. She’s a good person,” Kelvin replied.

“That’s what you know, huh?”

Kelvin ignored Roger’s abruptness. “Everything’s cool with me and her. Me and the boys used to hang out with her husband before he died.”

“Well, you stay away from her and you and I will get along just fine,” Roger said taking a huge puff on the joint and blowing the smoke out between his teeth.

When Kelvin returned to the kitchen for a beer and some potato chips, he caught sight of Keron staggering drunkenly from the dance floor to the front porch. Even though she had disrespected him, he felt bad having to watch her embarrass herself throughout the night. When it was time to leave, he thought of letting her catch a ride with someone else, but decided against it. He had to almost drag her to the car.

“You are stone-drunk, Keron,” he said securing the seat-belt around her. “You shouldn’t have drunk all that alcohol if you knew you couldn’t handle it.”

“I can handle it,” Keron slurred as her head flopped back against the headrest.

“You think you can. You’ve been embarrassing yourself all evening. I don’t even want to be seen with you anymore,” Kelvin said. “Simone has never done that to me and she never would.”

“S-Simone, S-Simone. That’s-s all you ever talk about. Who’s-s she again?”

“Oh, shut up,” Kelvin said. I don’t know why I even bothered with you.

As he drove to Keron’s house, he thought of how things between him and Simone had come to an end. I really miss her. She was the best thing that ever happened to me.

While he was deep in thought, Keron turned uneasily in her seat. A low moan escaped her lips. Without warning, she reached over and grabbed the steering wheel, yanking it to the right.

“Whoa!” Kelvin shouted as the car skidded, nearly making a complete U-turn. A couple waiting at the corner to cross the street scrambled to get out of the way.

“My soul!” Kelvin cried out. The side of his vehicle scraped an oncoming car as he finally regained control of the vehicle. “Are you trying to get us killed?”

Keron reached for the steering wheel again, but Kelvin blocked her arm. “You’re going the wrong way,” Keron slurred.

“I’ll be glad when you get home,” he said, “if we can make it there in one piece.”

Kelvin managed to get Keron safely into her apartment. After locking the door behind him, he headed for his place. He thought about Alphonse praying for God to keep him safe just before he had left for the party. Maybe God had answered Alphonse’s prayer and kept him from what could have been a serious accident.

Chapter 20

Roger turned up unexpectedly at Katrina Bervoski’s to take Aubrey out for an early lunch.

Thank God he did not bring that big Hummer, Aubrey sighed as she slid into the smooth leather seat of his Maxima.

“Surprised?” he asked reaching over to kiss her on the cheek.

“Yes,” smiled Aubrey. “Where to?”

“Billy Jr’s,” Roger said. “By the way, I’m sorry for being so abrupt with you the other day. I wasn’t thoughtful, and you’re right, I need to pray more. Why don’t you pray for safety while we’re out.”

Aubrey couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Maybe God was answering her prayer to help Roger see the importance of communicating with God. Wait till the girls hear about this, she thought.

The food at Billy Jr’s wasn’t the healthiest, but Aubrey enjoyed every bite. “Are you trying to send me to an early grave?” she asked with a grin as she cleared her plate of the baby back ribs, green beans, and pork and beans they had ordered. Billy Jr. certainly lived up to its reputation for serving the best barbecue in town.

Aubrey ended up eating most of her meal alone, while Roger chatted with Billy Jr. by the buffet counter. Aubrey noticed Billy Jr. slipping him another brown bag. Despite the talk she had with her mother and Simone, Aubrey believed in giving people a second chance. She resolved to keep praying for Roger.

“Thanks for taking me out, Roger,” Aubrey said as she buckled in once they had paid for their meal and left the restaurant. “But I need to get back to my job now.”

“I know you’re running late, but I need to fill my gas tank up. You stay put while I go pump the gas.”

Aubrey, curious about the brown bag — even though by now she could accurately guess at its contents — opened the glove compartment where Roger had placed it. She took a quick peek. With her curiosity satisfied, she closed the glove compartment and pretended to search in her pocketbook for something to read. When Roger returned to the car, she was reading her New Testament.

“Nothing like reading the Bible to keep one calm and in their right mind,” he said patting her hand. Aubrey nodded soberly, trying not to smile.

After letting her out of the car at Bervoski’s, Roger rolled down his window and called out, “Be ready to go by six on Saturday.”

Aubrey nodded and waved. Despite feeling good about Roger’s words, she was conflicted about the drug habit he was trying to hide.

……………….

Mother Jamison stopped at the grocery store after visiting a couple of church members who had been sick recently. She was picking up some items to take back for a working single mother who had just joined the church. Stopping midway down the cereal aisle, she wondered, Now how am I going to get that instant oatmeal down from the top shelf? Turning to see if there was an employee close by, she saw a man coming down the aisle. As he came closer, Mother Jamison smiled. It had been a while, but she recognized him. “Mr. Quintin Rodney, how are you?”

The man stopped. “Obviously our paths have crossed before,” he hesitated, “but I can’t remember your name.”

“That’s all right. It’s been nearly a year since we last saw each other. My name’s Jamison—Mother Jamison.”

“Oh, yes. I remember you now,” he said giving her a warm handshake. “How have you been doing? And how’s your daughter doing?”

“Wonderful! Just wonderful!” Mother Jamison said. “Aubrey has gone on with her life. She’s doing a great job at Bervoski’s Interior Design, and because of the sound advice you gave her, she started and now heads the Restoration Reset Ministry at our church which provides counseling and a time of sharing and encouragement for abused women. They meet every Saturday.”

“That’s wonderful to hear,” Quintin Rodney said.

Opening her purse, Mother Jamison pulled out a card with information about Mt. Shiloh United Methodist. “Here’s my personal invitation for you to visit us on Sunday,” Mother Jamison said handing him the card.

Mother Jamison and Mr. Rodney chatted a while longer before going their separate ways. “Be sure to tell Aubrey I said ‘hello,’ and I’ll be visiting your church, if not this Sunday, definitely next Sunday.”

“I will give Aubrey your message and I’ll be looking to see you there,” Mother Jamison said. “Oh, I almost forgot, would you mind getting that oatmeal for me?”

“Sure,” Quintin Rodney chuckled.

 

Mother Jamison could hardly wait to tell Aubrey about her chance meeting with Quintin Rodney.

“He’s the last person I expected to see in a grocery store of all places,” she said to Aubrey and Simone that evening.

“What are you smiling about, Simone?” Aubrey asked her.

“Ask and it shall be given unto you,” Simone said. “I see a bright future ahead for you, Aubrey, if you play your cards right. Roger out; Quintin in. Wait till I tell Kelli and Jennifer.”

Amused, Aubrey just shook her head.

……………….

Roger again turned up unexpectedly at Aubrey’s workplace on Friday to take her out for a surprise lunch meal.

“Roger, I appreciate you thinking about me — I really do,” Aubrey said. “But I can’t go with you today. I’m meeting with a client in fifteen minutes. This is the only time they could meet with me this week. Plus, you said six on Saturday.”

“I’m sure you can cancel. Here, use my phone,” Roger said holding out his cellphone.

Aubrey pushed it away. “No, Roger. I have to meet with them. It’ll be at least two hours before we’re done.”

“Well, you’re coming out with me for lunch now. I’ll have you back in time,” Roger said taking Aubrey firmly by the arm. He gripped her so tightly that it began to hurt. If there was one thing Roger hated, it was being refused by a girl.

“Roger, I said not today and I mean it.” Aubrey jerked her arm out of his grip. “Like I explained to you before, you can’t expect me to jump at your every beck and call; I have other obligations.”

“Well, I want you to be ready to go when I’m ready to go.”

“Look, Roger,” Aubrey said as calmly as she could, “I do not mind going out with you and I love surprises. All I’m saying is, I’d really appreciate it if you’d be considerate enough to call me ahead of time. Then we can plan better. I’m not always available when you want me to be. I have a job to do here as well.”

“Do you have something to hide?”

“No, I have nothing to hide. My life is an open book, and if you’re implying that I’m sneaking around and seeing someone else, you’re wrong. I don’t sneak around.”

“It’s that Kelvin guy, isn’t it?” Roger said.

Aubrey could not believe what she was hearing. “You must be on drugs,” she blurted out.

Roger grimaced. “Girl, I can make it difficult for you if you don’t do what I want.”

Aubrey swung around and speed-walked back to her office. Looks like he needs a lot more prayer, she thought.

Chapter 21

Roger gave Aubrey a call on Saturday night.

“Hey, Aubrey, want to do something fun, like going somewhere with me at twelve midnight? By the way, sorry I couldn’t make it at six.”

As if I was waiting, Aubrey thought. “Sounds crazy. No thanks.”

“I thought you liked doing crazy things.”

“Yes, but not at twelve midnight and definitely not with someone who does not think he needs to apologize for his selfish, disrespectful attitude on yesterday. And especially since I’m going to church in the morning, and so should you.”

“Why do I need to apologize?” Roger said.

“First, you cannot turn up unexpectedly and expect me to just drop what I’m doing to go along with you. On top of that, you get upset when I don’t respond the way you think I should, and you threaten me.” Aubrey shuddered as she recalled the way Roger had gripped her arm. She couldn’t help but wonder if he would abuse her physically like Jamaal had done.

“I was not upset, and I did not threaten you,” Roger said. “I was just letting you know — ”

“You were just letting me know you can make things difficult for me if I dare to say no to you?” Aubrey interrupted.

“Well, if it will make you feel better, I’m sorry.”

“Are you really?” said Aubrey.

“What’s your problem now? Here I just called you two and a half hours before the time I want to take you out and you’re still not happy about it,” Roger said.

Aubrey sensed Roger was trying hard not to sound angry, but he was failing at it.

“Thank you for being considerate, Roger. And thank you for not calling me at six to let me know you would not be able to make it, but sorry, I won’t be able to go anywhere tonight,” Aubrey said. Roger didn’t respond, so she continued. “You know I’ve been thinking we really need to pray together more whenever we meet up—if we ever meet up again. And it would be nice if you prayed with me and for me, even over the phone.”

“I do pray for you, Aubrey.”

“Well, can you pray with me before I say goodnight?” Aubrey waited for him to respond.

“Ah, well, sure.” Roger cleared his throat. “Umm, Dear God, thank You for watching over me. I mean us. Uh, thank You for Your love. Help me tonight. I mean help us. Umm, uh…”

“I think you’re looking for the word ‘Amen’,” Aubrey said softly.

“Amen,” Roger mumbled.

“Good night, Roger. Hopefully I’ll see you in church tomorrow.”

……………….

Mother Jamison, Aubrey, and her friends made their way to the pews for the eleven o’clock service on Sunday. A visitor was waiting for them.

“Mr. Rodney, I’m so glad you could come,” Mother Jamison said greeting him with a motherly hug.

“I decided to take you up on your offer before it expires,” he replied with a smile. “And, please, call me Quintin.”

“Okay, Quintin. You remember my daughter, Aubrey, and these are her friends, Simone, Jennifer, and Kelli.”

“Pleased to meet you all again,” Quintin said shaking each of their hands. “And how have you been doing, Aubrey?”

“I’ve been doing great,” Aubrey smiled.

Roger, who was upset over Aubrey turning him down the previous night, showed up on time for services as well. He took note of Aubrey’s exchange with Mr. Rodney from the back pew where he normally sat.

So that’s it, he thought. This explains the sudden change in her attitude toward me.

Throughout the services and especially during the preaching of the Word, Quintin occasionally affirmed the pastor’s message with an ‘Amen’. When Pastor Ashton called for the congregants to pray in unison, Aubrey noticed the simple but powerful words he offered up to God. But then, she was not really surprised for she remembered that he had prayed with her many times when he was working on her case. She quickly agreed when Mother Jamison suggested inviting him to join them for Sunday dinner.

Roger made his way over to where Aubrey, Quintin, and a few others were talking as soon as Pastor Ashton dismissed the congregation. “Hey, Aubrey, is everything still on for this evening?” He gave her an extended hug and an unexpected kiss on the corner of her mouth. Aubrey quickly stepped out of his embrace.

“Roger, this is Quintin Rodney. He was my lawyer some time ago,” she said.

“How are you, sir?” Roger asked.

“I am doing fine,” Quintin answered. “How are you?”

Even with such a short exchange, Aubrey could not help but notice how different the two men were. Roger had quickly shifted his eyes away from Quintin’s whereas Quintin’s steady gaze remained on Roger.

“Are things still on for this evening?” Roger asked again hoping to put her on the spot.

“What plans, Roger? We didn’t have any,” Aubrey said. “And even if we did, I would have to cancel because we have a guest this evening.”

Simone tried to hide her smile as Aubrey noticed the look of embarrassment on Roger’s face. He mumbled a “goodbye,” turned on his heel, and walked out without another word.

……………….

“Good for you,” Simone said to Aubrey shortly after Quintin left Mother Jamison’s home with a full stomach. “I’m going to tell you this because I’m your friend: Roger is a spoiled, insecure person. He has the physique of a man on the outside, but he is just a little boy on the inside. I don’t know why you are wasting your time with him as far as a relationship goes. I repeat: Roger out; Quintin in.”

“I hear you, Simone,” Aubrey said as she flicked off the light in her room and slipped into bed. She was about to fall off to sleep thinking about the pleasant evening they had with Quintin Rodney as their dinner guest when her phone rang. Without looking at the caller ID, she picked it up. “Hello.”

“Spill it!” It was Roger.

Oh, boy. Not you, Aubrey thought.

“Now I know you’ve been sneaking around with that lawyer friend of yours,” Roger said.

“Roger, I have not been sneaking around,” Aubrey retorted. “Mother met him in the grocery store and invited him to our church and then over for dinner. I felt it necessary to be here, if for nothing else than as a show of appreciation for what he did for me nearly a year ago.” Aubrey paused to catch her breath. “And, whatever happened to ‘Hello, Aubrey. How are you doing?’”

“Whatever happened to you not disrespecting me like that in front of the whole church?” Roger demanded.

“I am not your wife!” Aubrey said. “We didn’t have any plans and you know it.”

“I always have plans. I thought I made that clear last week.”

“What in the world is your problem?” Aubrey let out an exasperated sigh as she flopped back on her pillow. “You know what? I’ve had it with you! You are an inconsiderate, selfish, immature little boy. That’s who I have been going out with—a child. Good night, Roger!”

“Don’t you hang up on me!” Roger shouted into the receiver.

EPISODE #8

Chapter 22

Aubrey’s sleep was greatly disturbed that night. What kind of monster is Roger turning out to be? she thought.

“A monster who’s finally taking off his mask,” Simone told her after Aubrey had voiced her thoughts to her friends the next morning.

“He’s just trying to control you,” Jennifer said.

“You need to let him go,” Simone added. “You don’t need to submit to any man’s authority unless he is your husband.”

“Simone’s right,” Kelli said. “Roger may apologize and let you set the agenda for a couple of weeks, then before you know it, he’ll flip the script on you and start controlling things again. He’s playing a psychological game on you, Aubrey, and the only way to come out on the winning side is to permanently end your relationship.”

“You have to make a quick, clean break,” Simone said. “There are better men out there.”

“There sure are, Aubrey,” Kelli said. “Don’t even try to let him down slowly. Just let him go.”

“Isn’t there room for second chances?” Aubrey said. Her merciful heart sometimes got the better of her intentions.

Simone glared at her.

“For forgiveness?” Aubrey continued.

“We’re not talking about forgiveness or second chances. You’ve given him enough second chances. Stop trying to be Ms. Nice. We’re talking about your future well-being and happiness,” Simone said raising her voice.

“Aubrey,” Jennifer said softly, “because you seem to be so hungry for a man in your life you’re having a hard time seeing things clearly. You need someone to help you balance out your life and get your focus back on God. I’m afraid Roger is not the one.”

“I could not have said it better,” Kelli agreed.

“I’m getting real angry watching you get ready to mess your life up again,” Simone said.

Aubrey listened grimly to her friends. She knew they were right.

“Thanks, guys,” she said as they prepared to leave the Cherry Blossom Cafe.

“By the way,” Simone said, “isn’t it amazing, girls, how God brought Quintin back into Aubrey’s life when He’s getting ready to kick Roger out? But she’s going to lose him too if she keeps fooling with Roger.”

Jennifer and Kelli both nodded their heads.

“You never did tell us what took place between you and Quintin on Sunday afternoon after we left you two alone,” Simone said. Then turning to Jennifer and Kelli she said, “We talked Quintin into coming over for dinner after he joined us for Sunday morning services.”

The girls looked at Aubrey. “We’re waiting,” they all said in unison.

“He is just different from Roger. They are like opposites. I feel comfortable and safe around him. He brings out the sensible side of me and not the silly side that Roger caters to all the time. I am thinking of asking him to be our guest speaker at our ladies meeting on next Saturday,” Aubrey said. “I know he has never been married before, but he could share some things from his experience as a lawyer and having to deal with family matters. I want to give our ladies a balanced view. As a Christian lawyer, I think he’ll deliver a fair speech.”

All the girls were in agreement with Aubrey.

“I also showed him that long den at the back of the house and shared with him my plans to convert it into a home office as I prepare to start my own interior design business. He said, ‘Go for it.’”

“Tell them what Roger said when you told him you were thinking of starting your own interior design business,” Simone said.

“Roger said he would be making enough money to take care of both of us—as if I was thinking of marrying him.”

“Well, you know what to do,” Simone said.

Later that night, Aubrey thought more on Simone’s words: Maybe God did bring Quintin back into my life because He is getting ready to kick Roger out.

Chapter 23

Two weeks had passed before Aubrey received a phone call from Roger. Goodness, I thought he had gone for good, Aubrey thought as she answered the call.

“Aubrey, please forgive me for not calling you sooner, but I needed some time to think about us and to get my act together. You’re right, you need your space. I miss spending time with you. Are you available for dinner on Saturday around seven?”

“Aubrey, if that’s Roger, you need to tell him no,” Simone said quickly. “He’s playing his psychological game on you: He’ll leave you alone for a while, which he has; then he’ll come back apologizing, which he has; you’ll start believing him, which you are doing; you’ll start going out with him again, which you are contemplating doing; then he begins to reel you in slowly tightening the rope he has around you, one tug at a time, like before, and before you know it, you’re back in that cycle again. You have to tell him no, and mean it.”

“You’re right. I’ll tell him over dinner,” Aubrey replied.

“No, Aubrey. Tell him over the phone!”

…………

Aubrey and Roger had a pleasant dinner on Saturday evening. Aubrey noticed he seemed to show more interest in her plans and future goals.

“After thinking about it, I wanted to tell you to go ahead and open up your business. It was selfish of me not wanting you to make your own money.”

“It’s not the money, Roger. It’s something I love to do—transform something plain into something beautiful.”

Aubrey smiled when he said, “Well, I’m a man so I guess I wouldn’t know anything about designing.”

For once in their conversation he did not say anything about his hobby of remodeling cars and all the new and improved electronic gadgets he would put into the car to make it more enjoyable to travel in. Aubrey was thankful for that. She was mindful, however, of Simone’s words to her, but she was finding it difficult to speak to Roger just yet.

After dinner, Roger took her for a short walk after which he bought her some chocolate and flowers. I think I’ll wait until he drops me off, she kept telling herself.

“Aubrey, if you don’t mind, I have to swing by Billy Jr’s house to pick up something. He’s having a party, but if I don’t get it now, I won’t be able to get it for a few days. I am taking a trip down to Florida. Would you want to travel with me down there?” Roger asked.

“Give me time to think about it,” Aubrey said as she thought, Yes, I’ll tell him after he drops me off, then he’ll have time to heal his wounded heart while down in Florida.

“Come walk inside with me as this might take a few minutes,” Roger said to Aubrey once they got to Billy Jr’s place. “Plus, I don’t feel safe leaving you out here by yourself.”

He left Aubrey by an open window in the front room as he went to search out Billy Jr. Aubrey took a quick look around. Despite the haziness of the room from the cigarette smoke, she noticed some of the party guests were drinking; others were dancing; others were just lounging around. The music was blasting and she had to cover her ears. She thought she recognized two of Jamaal’s old friends, Corey and CJ, and quickly turned her head lest they noticed her. I don’t know why I didn’t insist on waiting in the car, she chided herself. She soon became lost in her thoughts.

“Aubrey?” a voice asked.

Oh, no, she thought as she turned to face Kelvin. “Hi, Kelvin. What are you doing here?”

“I should ask you, what are you doing here?” Kelvin said.

Aubrey told him how she happened to be there. “I feel so uncomfortable here. I am ready to go, Kelvin. I don’t know what’s taking Roger so long.”

“I am ready for you to go, too, Aubrey. You do not belong here. How did you and Roger meet anyway?” Kelvin asked. “You two seem like an unlikely pair.”

“I am getting ready to break it off with him,” Aubrey told Kelvin after briefly sharing with him how they met.

“Look, Aubrey, I do not know that much about Roger, but one thing I know is that he is a very unstable person. On top of that, he’s doing drugs and drinks heavily at these parties. I bet you he came to pick up some drugs. You’re going to mess up again fooling with him.”

“What’s going on here? Are you messing with my girl again?”

Kelvin and Aubrey swung around to see Roger standing with a bottled water in his hand and Keron standing behind him.

“No, man,” Kelvin replied taking a couple steps backwards. “I was just asking her about Simone, my old girlfriend. She answered all my questions. I’ll be leaving.”

“Well, take your leave, mister.”

“Kelvin’s the name,” Kelvin said.

“Kelvin, I’ve been looking for you,” Keron said staring Aubrey up and down disdainfully. “Come dance with me,” she said pulling Kelvin away.

Roger shoved the bottled water into Aubrey’s hand. “Here, have this. It’s taking me longer to square things away with Billy Jr. Give me a few more minutes, and stay away from him; I don’t trust him.”

“How much longer is a few more minutes?” Aubrey asked. “I am ready to go home.”

Roger walked off without answering. She watched him disappear down the hallway.

As Aubrey stared out the window, Simone’s words floated across her mind: He’s playing his psychological game on you: He’ll leave you alone for a while, which he has; then he’ll come apologize, which he has; you’ll start believing him, which you are doing; you’ll start going out with him again, which you are contemplating doing; then he begins to reel you in slowly tightening the rope he has around you, one tug at a time, like before, and before you know it, you’re back in that cycle again. You have to tell him no, and mean it.

She felt nauseous.

No, I can’t allow myself to get back into that cycle again. Lord, you have been placing warning signs before me, but I have chosen not to pay them any attention.

Aubrey stepped out the front door intending on calling her mother to come get her. Her cellphone was in Roger’s car. Aubrey was about to shut the front door when someone called out to her. She ignored the voice and continued swiftly across the lawn.

“Aubrey, it’s Kelvin. Wait up!”

Aubrey temporarily slowed down until he caught up with her.

“Where to in such a hurry?” he asked.

“I’m calling Mother to come get me.”

“Don’t bother. I’ll give you a ride home. You’ll get away from here faster, plus it will give me an excuse to get away from Keron for a while.”

“Kelvin,” a female voice called out into the dark.

“Just ignore her,” Kelvin told Aubrey as they reversed their steps to go to Kelvin’s car.

Keron returned to the house to find Roger looking around. “If you’re looking for your girl, she left with my man. But I can show you how to have a better time than she ever could,” she said hanging on to Roger’s arm.

Chapter 24

Roger started to shake Keron off of him, but changed his mind as Keron continued whispering, “Don’t worry, Roggie baby. Kelvin will be back. He has to take me home.”

“You wait right here,” Roger told her. “I have to get something out the trunk of my car.”

“Don’t worry, lover boy, I’ll be waiting for you unlike your lady friend.” Keron said.

…………

It was after midnight when Aubrey was awakened from her sleep by someone banging on her bedroom door. Before she could get out of bed, Simone was frantically shaking her.

“Aubrey, Aubrey! Get up! I just received a phone call from the paramedics. Something about Kelvin being rushed to the hospital and going into the operation room right away. We need to go.”

Aubrey bounded out of the bed and they rushed to awaken Mother Jamison. “Pray as you get dressed,” Mother Jamison shouted at them as they hurried out of her room.

Once at the hospital, they headed for the third floor to find Alphonse pacing the floor.

“Alphonse, what are you doing here?” Simone asked in surprise.

“What are you doing here?” Alphonse redirected the question back to her.

“I received a phone call about Kelvin being taken to the emergency room.”

“So did I,” Alphonse said. “The police called me and said he had been shot. They told me there was a party going on; apparently a fight broke out; it seems Kelvin got caught in the middle. The fellow who started it all has not been located yet.”

Aubrey gasped. She looked around for a chair as her knees suddenly felt weak. After letting the nurse at the desk know where they would be, they headed for the waiting room. Alphonse picked up the conversation.

“Kelvin did tell me he was headed for another party—this time at Billy Jr’s. He has been going to one almost every weekend. If I had not gotten saved, I would have been at the party myself. I don’t know if you knew this, Simone, but Kelvin has been staying at my place since you both split up.”

Simone shook her head no.

“I have invited him to church and to Bible Study, and he’s come a few times. I have been praying for his salvation; I believe he’s searching for meaning and direction for his life.”

“We have been praying for him, too,” Mother Jamison said placing an arm around Simone’s shoulders.

Aubrey was quiet for a while. “It’s probably my fault why Kelvin’s in the hospital,” she said quietly. “Roger saw both of us talking and told Kelvin to leave me alone and told me not to talk with him anymore because he did not trust Kelvin. Kelvin gave me a ride home. Keron saw us leave. She must have said something to Roger. I was under the impression Kelvin was going home. I had no idea he had returned to the party.”

“Well, we don’t know for sure what took place,” Alphonse said.

Simone sniffled. Mother Jamison hugged both girls. “Don’t worry. God is still in control. Let’s just pray for his recovery and for Roger as well.”

After about thirty minutes, Nurse Mikelton came to give them an update.

“Your friend was shot in the chest,” she said. “Thankfully, the doctors were able to remove the bullet and they are sewing up the torn muscles now. He is unconscious and he has lost a lot of blood.”

Mother Jamison thanked the nurse, and she, Simone, Aubrey, and Alphonse continued in prayer.

…………

It was four in the morning when the nurse summoned them to Kelvin’s room in the intensive care unit. “He’s still unconscious,” the nurse said. “You can only pray for a miracle. Dr. Rayburn will be in shortly.”

They entered the room to find various tubes hooked up to Kelvin. Simone closed her eyes as she placed a hand on top of his. Now is not the time to cry. I have to be strong, she tried to tell herself. Aubrey stood next to her. It seemed as though all the blood had been drained out of his face. It’s all my fault, Aubrey kept thinking. She placed an arm around Simone’s shoulders. Simone could no longer contain herself; she let the tears flow freely. Aubrey joined in. They continued to wait quietly.

Around six thirty, Alphonse left to go pick up some coffee and sausage biscuits from McDonald’s for everyone.

“Lord,” he prayed, “for some strange reason, You had me up all night praying for Kelvin. Now I know why. Lord, he knows how to get saved, but he refuses to simply believe and ask You to save him. If he dies without You, his life will have been wasted. Please give him another chance. Amen.”

Upon his return to the hospital, Alphonse gave Pastor Givens a call. “Yes, Pastor Givens, he’s the young man who has sometimes come with me to Sunday services. He’s in room 214. His life is hanging by a string.”

Everyone ate their breakfast in silence.

Later, Pastor Givens came by to pray and offer words of encouragement to the waiting friends. “I’m going to be flying up to Washington state for a preachers’ conference and I should be back late Wednesday night. I’ll stop by on Thursday morning, but rest assured, I will be praying for him. I have faith that God will answer our prayers for his recovery. This may be a wake-up call for him. He has asked me questions about salvation on several occasions. I know he has been searching.”

A few minutes after Pastor Givens left, Simone encouraged Mother Jamison, Aubrey, and Alphonse to go ahead and attend Sunday services.

“There’s no need for all four of us to sit here waiting when there’s nothing we can do,” she said.

“Are you sure you’ll be all right?” Mother Jamison asked.

“I can’t leave you here alone,” Aubrey said.

“I’ll be all right,” Simone said. “Go on and get filled up on Pastor Ashton’s preaching and then you can come back and give me the Word. Plus,” Simone continued, “someone needs to tell Jennifer and Kelli what has taken place.”

After they left, Simone flipped through the local news channels to see if there was anything about the shooting at Billy Jr’s. Nothing. She left the television on one of the Christian channels where a pastor was preaching.

“Lord,” Simone silently prayed, “ I chose You over Kelvin, which was a very hard thing for me to do. I have given up all hope of us ever having a life together. I turned him over to You. Anyway, I still pray for his salvation even as I am praying for his full recovery. I know nothing is too hard for You. Amen.”

Simone was encouraged as the pastor on the television quoted this single verse from Psalm 65:1: “O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.”

“Thank You, Lord. Thank You even now for Kelvin’s salvation,” Simone whispered.

…………

Simone was awakened from her nap by a tap on the shoulder.

“Simone, it’s Mother Jamison.”

Simone smiled as she opened her eyes to see Aubrey, Jennifer, and Kelli, and behind them, Quintin Rodney.

“We couldn’t leave you down here all by yourself,” Jennifer said giving her a hug, and then stepping aside so Kelli could do the same. “We love you so much.”

“How are you, Simone?” Quintin said. “I have been praying for you.”

“I’m okay. Thank you all for coming,” Simone said. “Kelvin’s still the same.”

“Pastor Ashton has the whole church praying for him,” Mother Jamison said. “He’ll be stopping by later. We’ve given everyone here an update on the whole situation, so there’s no need to rehash the story; plus, we don’t know all the details. Roger’s parents, Brother and Sister Hawthorne, have not heard from him, so we’re praying for him as well.”

Simone appreciated the light and friendly conversation as it kept her mind off Kelvin’s unstable condition. After a couple hours, Alphonse showed up.

“Okay, Simone, I’ll sit with Kelvin until eight in the morning. You need to go home with Mother Jamison, eat a solid meal, and get some rest. We all don’t need to hang out here. There’s no need for you to let your body get run down. We want you good and strong when Kelvin recovers.”

“I’m in agreement,” Quintin said. “I can tell somebody has been talking with the Lord.”

“Yes, my brother. That’s all we can do at a time like this. Draw closer to the Lord through prayer,” Alphonse said. “By the way, Simone, Billy Jr. called. He and CJ and Corey are in jail right now. Billy Jr. sends his apology and says if there is anything they can do to let him know. They’ll be stopping by as soon as his father pays their bail to get them out. They are only being held for passing drugs.”

After Quintin and the ladies left, Alphonse continued in prayer for Kelvin’s recovery.

EPISODE #9

Chapter 25

Monday morning was cloudy and overcast. Mother Jamison relieved Alphonse a little before eight so he would not be late to teach his first class. Kelvin’s parents flew in for a short visit. Aubrey went to Bervoski’s to wrap up her work with a client. Simone wanted to visit Kelvin too, but Mother Jamison encouraged her to go on to work. “It will help keep your mind occupied. Kelvin is in God’s hands. There is nothing we can do but continue to pray for him.”

Mother Jamison decided to take a prayer walk on the ICU floor praying for each person in each room as she passed by. As she neared the emergency elevators, an ambulance crew with a couple of nurses rushed out of one of the sliding doors pushing a young man on a stretcher.

“Get a new IV bag going before we lose him!” someone shouted.

“Get Dr. Pankins to the emergency room as soon as possible! Drug overdose. We will definitely have to pump his stomach!”

“I’ve never seen it this bad.”

“I think we’re losing him.”

Mother Jamison watched as they disappeared into the operating room. A doctor, who she presumed to be Dr. Pankins, followed by two other nurses, came running down the hallway and into the operating room. Mother Jamison stood off to the side as other hospital personnel rushed down the hallway and into the operating room. She uttered a prayer for whoever it was on the stretcher and for the family.

On her way back to Kelvin’s room, her phone rang. It was Mrs. Hawthorne, Roger’s mother.

“Mother Jamison, are you close to the television? Hurry and turn to Channel 7. They are talking about the place where Kelvin was shot. Aubrey said Roger was there too, but the police don’t list him among those wounded. I’ve been calling the police station all morning, and he’s not answering his phone either.”

Once in Kelvin’s room, Mother Jamison turned to Channel 7.

An announcer was reporting, “There was a party at 336 Akin Road late Saturday night into Sunday morning. A fight broke out and gunshots were fired. Two people are reported dead; others have been wounded. The police are still looking for the person responsible for starting this shooting. Stay tuned for updates.”

“I just hope Roger left before this all started,” Mrs. Hawthorne said.

“Aubrey said he mentioned something about going to Florida for a short trip. He may have taken off early,” Mother Jamison said trying to console her. “Don’t be surprised if he calls you from down there.”

“Yes. He did mention that to me, but said he had not fully decided yet. I don’t believe he would just take off and not let me or his father know something,” Mrs. Hawthorne said. “Hold on, do you see what’s scrolling across the screen; read down at the bottom.”

The red ticker at the bottom of the screen read: 18-wheeler slams into vehicle at Exit 24; car totally destroyed.

“That’s something else. May God be with that family,” Mrs. Hawthorne said. “Well, let’s just keep praying for Roger and for Kelvin. God bless you.”

……………

After three days in ICU, Kelvin’s condition stabilized enough for him to be transferred to the regular floor. His circle of friends kept on praying and trusting God for his complete recovery.

……………

Aubrey was extremely grateful for Quintin’s frequent phone calls during this time of difficulty. She felt for certain that if she had not had Kelvin to take her home then he would not have gotten hurt. Or worse, yet, she could have been caught in the crossfire. She shared her concerns with Quintin. Maybe the lawyer in him can shed some light on this whole scenario.

“There might be some truth to that. Roger may have confronted Kelvin, if Roger was still at the party when Kelvin returned,” Quintin said. “Lawyers operate on the truth, and coming to the truth requires credible eyewitnesses. Evidence is what we go by, and of course, logical reasoning, and in my case, as a Christian—Godly wisdom, insight, and discernment.”

“Quintin, I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to call and check in on Kelvin and help us pray through this time,” Aubrey told him. “You just don’t know how much this means to us.”

“That’s what friends are for and it’s the Christian thing to do,” Quintin replied.

Aubrey reminded herself to be careful as Quintin was beginning to be her source of strength during this time. As Aubrey sat in Kelvin’s room, having given Mother Jamison and Simone a break, she got lost in her thoughts.

Quintin seemed to be naturally confident; Roger, on the other hand, often seemed unsure of himself. Quintin leaned on God for guidance, and he had a way of stabilizing her emotionally, spiritually, and mentally, sometimes without saying a word. He had a way of bringing her back into the spiritual realm and that’s what she needed at this time — not just for herself, but so she could be an encouragement to Simone and her other friends. Roger showed no interest in spiritual matters. As Aubrey thought about it more, she wondered if not having a strong prayer partner was one of the reasons she was struggling in having a consistent prayer life.

She smiled. Here I am, leader of Restoration Reset Ministry, supposedly ministering to hurting ladies, encouraging them to pray regularly and to spend regular time in the Word, and I am struggling with those things myself.

Quintin’s presence seemed to bring calmness and tranquility which helped Aubrey focus on her priorities instead of the trivial things that Roger seemed to give all his attention to.

……………

“Mother, how come when I pray I don’t get the same results as when Quintin prays or even when you pray?” Aubrey asked her mother.

“I believe, Aubrey, it’s because you don’t pray in faith; you don’t believe what you are praying,” Mother Jamison said. “Besides that, you are the kind of person who likes to do things in your own strength. And your mind is going in a thousand different directions because you are concerned about getting what you want.”

“But I believe in God or else I wouldn’t even try to pray,” Aubrey said.

“You believe in God, but you do not believe God,” Mother Jamison said. “Prayer is not something you do as a meaningless ritual; it is something you live, eat, and breathe. It has to become one of those things that you cannot go without doing each day and throughout the day. That’s what Quintin has. Your Daddy had it too.”

Chapter 26

Simone’s cell phone rang shortly after she returned to her job from lunch on Tuesday.

“Simone, this is Alphonse the Reporter, reporting to you some good news from room 425 at the hospital. My brother, Kelvin, is showing signs of consciousness.”

Simone smiled as the ray of hope suddenly brightened within her. She always found it funny whenever Alphonse put on his dignified tone.

“Thank you, Lord!” Simone said. “Tell me all about it. I have a couple more hours to put in, then I’ll be up there.”

“No hurry. I’ll wait on you to get here,” Alphonse said. “I stopped by an hour ago after my last class session and was praying over him when I heard a muffled sound. When I looked up he raised his hands over his chest and coughed. He’s obviously still in pain. The nurse who came to check on him said it was a miracle that he was recovering so quickly.”

Simone was on cloud nine as she called up her friends to give them the good news. Everyone was rejoicing as they met up at the hospital. Kelvin still needed many more days of rest. About three days later he was able to hold short conversations without exerting himself too much.

“This is a miracle,” Dr. Rayburn told them. “He was not supposed to have come out of this as well as he has.”

Simone stood by Kelvin’s bed holding his hand. Kelvin looked at her with much love and tenderness. She held that loving smile that was always dear to him. Kelvin could not believe all his friends were there; neither could he believe what they told him as to why he was in the hospital. As he looked back at Simone and their eyes met, that special love they had for each other was rekindled. Tears slid down Kelvin’s face towards his ears. Simone gently wiped them away.

“Simone, Alphonse, and you all, thank you for your prayers. I know what to do. I know I ought to become a Christian. God has not given me any rest or peace from the time Simone and I went our separate ways, but I kept ignoring His voice. I believe God spared my life to give me another chance. Alphonse, please say those verses you often shared with me again.”

Alphonse quoted Romans 10:9 and 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

“What have I been waiting for?” Kelvin asked weakly but meaningfully. “I believe. I believe.”

Simone bent over and gave Kelvin a hug and kissed him on the cheek as the others voiced ‘Amen’ and ‘Praise the Lord.’

“Seems like church up in here,” the nurse said walking in. “I’m a church-going woman so you all don’t have to preach at me now,” she laughed. “Anyway, Mr. Kelvin here needs his rest so I’m going to have to end your visit. One of you can spend the night with him, but try not to let him talk too much. For a person in his condition, it can be tiring.”

“I think we should all leave so he won’t have anyone to talk to,” Alphonse said.

“By the way,” the nurse said, “you all may want to stop by room 421 and pray a prayer for recovery over that patient. He’s in bad shape, plus no one to my knowledge has stopped by to visit him.”

Dr. Rayburn was doing his rounds as they were exiting Kelvin’s room.

“Thank you so much, Dr. Rayburn,” they all said.

“The pleasure was all mine. The police will be stopping by around eleven on tomorrow to get a report from Kelvin as to what took place. One or two of you are welcome to stop by and listen in,” Dr. Rayburn said.

……………

Alphonse stopped by room 421 while the ladies waited in the waiting room. As Alphonse prayed, he silently asked God to reveal who the unidentified person might be.

Chapter 27

Simone and Aubrey arrived promptly at the hospital a few minutes before the police arrived. Aubrey had asked Quintin to come with them and he had agreed. They listened as Kelvin gave his side of the story.

“I was at the party at Billy Jr’s with a friend, Keron. I drank a little, but not enough to get drunk. Others were drinking heavier drinks and or were taking drugs. Anyway, I noticed Aubrey standing by a window, waiting on Roger. Billy Jr. had introduced me to Roger a while back. Aubrey had also introduced me to him. Aubrey said she wasn’t there for the party; that she and Roger had gone out to dinner and Roger had stopped by to pick up something from Billy Jr. Aubrey told me she wanted to go home. I felt that she did not need to be fooling around with Roger because he was doing drugs, was a heavy drinker, and was just a bad influence. She told me she was getting ready to break it off with him and that that was their last time going out.”

Simone smiled encouragingly at Kelvin when their eyes met.

“Roger saw me talking with Aubrey and he was upset about it and told me to leave her alone. I backed off, but returned later to give her a ride home. Keron saw us leave.”

Kelvin paused as he coughed. When his coughing subsided, he said, “I did tell Aubrey I was going home, but on the way to my place, I remembered I had given Keron a ride to the party. I’m sure Billy Jr. would have made sure she got home safely, but I felt it was my responsibility to see her home safely seeing I was the one who brought her there, so I went back to get her.

“When I got back, Keron and Roger were snuggled up on the couch facing the door. I guess they were waiting for me. Both were drunk and all doped up. I called Keron and told her I was ready to take her home. She told me to go on without her. I turned to leave, but Roger shouted at me to stop and wanted to know where Aubrey was.”

……………

“Aubrey wanted to go home and you were taking a long time so I took her home,” Kelvin told Roger. “She doesn’t belong here, man.”

“She’s my girl and she belongs where I say she belongs, plus you’ve been fooling around with her, haven’t you?” Roger shouted. He shoved Keron away from him as he attempted to get up from the couch. “You’re gonna pay!”

Others in the room turned to see what the commotion was about.

“No, don’t walk out on me while I’m talking to you,” Roger continued. “I want you to bring my girl back or are you going to spend the night with her?”

“Roggie, baby, I thought I was your girl,” Keron said pushing herself up to him.

Roger shoved her back on to the couch. “You my new girl; she’s my old girl. Sometimes I like the old better than the new.”

Keron started to pout. Someone went downstairs to summon Billy Jr. who hurried upstairs into the room.

“Break it up. I want no problems, man. What’s going on?”

A crowd started to form as others from downstairs trotted upstairs. Billy Jr. lunged towards Roger as he pulled out a gun. A few others started to leap towards Kelvin to push him out the way. The gun went off and Kelvin slumped down to the ground. Billy Jr. knocked Roger over as the gun went off again. Another person fell. Keron and a few others started to scream. There was mass confusion as many were either too drunk or too doped up to logically decipher what just took place or what to do.

“Call the ambulance!” Billy Jr. said as he knelt beside Kelvin. “He’s losing a lot of blood—fast!”

A fight broke out as Roger, like a mad bull, charged at whoever was in his way, especially those who tried to hold him down. Others were fighting just to be fighting. Aiming his gun and swinging it, Roger dared anyone to stop him. He grabbed Keron and dragged her out the door. The two sped off in his car.

“Ambulance means cops. I’m outta here,” one person shouted.

People began pushing to get out the doors. Billy Jr., CJ, Corey and a few others remained. Kelvin was their friend and they were not going to abandon him—jail or no jail. “Hide the drugs,” Billy Jr. instructed Corey. “We don’t want to add to this mess.”

Two ambulances arrived. One took off quickly with Kelvin as the police took a report from those few who remained. They gave a description of Roger who no one, even Billy Jr., knew much about except for his name—Roger Mullins.

……………

Roger and Keron sped off into the darkness.

“I love adventures, and you’re full of it,” Keron said. “Where to Roggie baby?”

“Just shut up and let me think! And for the hundredth time, my name is not Roggie baby; it’s Roger.”

Roger drove around for about 20 minutes—the longest 20 minutes of his life. He did not dare go home. I ought to head on down to Florida right now, he thought, but I can’t take her. She would tell it all.

“You could hang out at my place,” Keron said.

“Are you crazy? That’s the second place the police would look.”

“Oh, no they wouldn’t. I have two places,” Keron said. “We’ll go to my grandmother’s. I have a key to get in. I check up on her every so often. She’s blind so she wouldn’t see you and you won’t have to say a word while you are there.”

“Why didn’t you say so earlier?” Roger said. “Off to Grandma we go.”

Roger and Keron hung out at her grandmother’s all day Sunday.

“I have to take off for Florida, a trip I was planning on taking anyway,” Roger said to Keron. “You want to come with me? I already have connections down there.”

“Sure. I told you you were full of adventure, Roggie baby,” Keron said.

 ……………

Roger and Keron pulled out for Florida on Monday morning. As Roger exited the ramp at exit 24 going South to get on the highway, he was unable to merge smoothly into the traffic and lost control of his car. An 18-wheeler slammed into his Maxima sending it spinning like a top across the lanes. The car flipped over before coming to a halt. Keron was flung out of the passenger side and landed in the far lane. She suffered a mild concussion which left her disoriented and unable to answer any questions.

“It’s a miracle that they survived,” one eyewitness told the police after they arrived while the EMT examined Keron.

“I can’t believe she came out of that alive,” another said.

“You’re lucky to come out of this alive,” the police told Keron after the driver of the 18-wheeler gave his version of the accident to the police. It took some work to get Roger out of the bent up vehicle. He was rushed off to the hospital.

EPISODE #10

Chapter 28

The police quickly wrapped up their conversation with Kelvin.

“So this Roger—what’s his last name?” one police officer asked.

“Mullins. Roger Mullins,” Kelvin answered.

“Mullins? Where did you get that from?” Aubrey asked. She had been silent the whole time, but spoke up now. “His last name is not Mullins. It’s Hawthorne. Roger Hawthorne. I have known him for some years now. We go to the same church, and his parents are members there as well.”

Aubrey gave the police the church name and address as well as a description of Roger and his apartment address. She agreed to meet with the police at the Hawthorne’s residence after contacting them. Quintin offered to accompany her.

“I appreciate it,” Aubrey said on their way over to the Hawthorne’s. “We are probably going to need your help again.”

Mr. and Mrs. Hawthorne could not believe what the police and Aubrey told them about their son.

“We had no idea he was living this double life,” Roger’s father said. We don’t even know where he is right now. He did mention taking a trip down to Florida. Maybe he’s already headed that way.”

Aubrey gave the police a description of Keron that matched Kelvin’s description. Kelvin had given them her address, and after they left the Hawthornes, they spent a few hours surveying her place. Keron was eventually picked up for questioning, but they did not get much information out of her. She was still in shock and in a state of denial. The search was on for Roger as the Florida police had been put on alert.

“I hope I don’t have to go to court again,” Aubrey said to Quintin over lunch the following day.

“You may have to as a witness,” Quintin said. He was interested in the case unfolding before him as Aubrey kept him informed of what was taking place.

“By the way, remember I shared with you that one of Kelvin’s nurses had asked us to stop by one of the rooms and pray for the patient?” Aubrey said. “Alphonse, Kelvin’s friend, had stopped by and said the patient needs a lot of prayers because he was in bad shape? To date, no one knows who this person is. He has not had any visitors—not even family to stop by and visit. That’s sad.”

“It certainly is,” Quintin replied. “Did the nurse say when he was brought in?”

“I believe Alphonse said he came in a day after Kelvin did. Why?” Aubrey asked.

“Just curious.” Quintin was already questioning who this other patient was. He had begun to put together as logically as he could all he had heard about the events surrounding Kelvin’s situation from the information he had heard from Aubrey, from Mother Jamison, from Mr. and Mrs. Hawthorne, and from the police when they had questioned Kelvin. Roger may have set off for Florida immediately following the shooting. Could Roger have started this fight? Could he have shot Kelvin? Why hasn’t he at least contacted his parents? Could this Keron have anything to do with Roger’s disappearance? Does she know anything about his disappearance? This may be far-fetched, but could that unknown person in the room next to Kelvin’s be Roger? Could he have gotten into an accident trying to run away?

“Aubrey, do you mind if I go to the hospital with you the next time you go? I’d like to talk to Kelvin and I would also like to stop by the room of this other patient.”

“Sure,” Aubrey replied.

When they stopped by to visit Kelvin the next day, Alphonse was there. Aubrey introduced him to Quintin and they chatted for some time.

“How’s the patient in the next room doing?” Aubrey asked Alphonse. “I have been telling Quintin everything that has been going on including about the patient next door. He wants to stop by.”

“I’ve stopped by a few times whenever I have visited Kelvin. He’s on a very slow road to recovery, but I am still praying for him,” Alphonse said. Turning to Quintin, he said, “We can both head over there now, if you’re ready.”

Quintin and Alphonse visited room 421. Even though the patient’s head was bandaged exposing only his face, Quintin thought he looked familiar. He was in a back brace as his vertebrae was severely damaged. Quintin glanced at his chart: swelling of the brain; fractured vertebrae; spinal cord damage may result in paralysis of the legs and lower body for life. The patient’s eyes were closed. As Alphonse prayed, Quintin silently asked God to reveal to him who this unidentified person might be.

……………

Despite all that was taking place, the Restoration Reset Ministry continued its weekly meetings. The ladies, who had been asked to join them in prayer for Kelvin’s recovery and for his salvation were happy to hear that God had answered both prayers. Alphonse’s place was like a flower garden with all the flowers they sent for Kelvin once he returned from the hospital to fully recuperate.

“Do we hear wedding bells in the very near future?” Kelli asked Simone.

“He did ask me to marry him,” Simone replied, “but–“

“And?” the girls all asked.

“And I said, yes!” Simone exclaimed.

“Yes!” Aubrey exclaimed hugging Simone.

“Ask and it shall be given you,” they said.

Chapter 29

A few days later, Quintin voiced his thoughts to Aubrey. “I believe the patient in the next room is Roger. His eyes were closed and his head was bandaged except for his face. Why don’t you come with me, Aubrey, and see if it’s him. I vaguely recall what he looks like. You should be able to tell better than I can.”

Quintin’s suspicions were confirmed. It was Roger. His eyes were opened when they arrived in the room.

“Roger, it’s so good to see you again. Don’t try to talk,” Quintin said.

“How are you, Roger?” Aubrey asked. She laid a hand on his arm. “Just relax and continue to get your rest.”

Noticing the fear in his eyes and the tenseness in his face, Quintin said, “We just came by to pray with you.”

After they prayed Aubrey said, “Your parents are worried about you. I know they will be glad to finally know where you are. Kelvin and Keron are doing well.”

Quintin’s mind was already racing ahead. This fellow is going to need a lawyer. I’ll see if I can find him a good one to get him out of this mess. Even though it was late in the evening, Quintin and Aubrey visited Keron to let her know Roger was alive. They returned to the hospital with her. On seeing Roger, the reality of what had happened suddenly hit her. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” she kept saying over and over as she broke crying hysterically.

Aubrey hugged her until she quieted down. “It’s going to work out. We all make mistakes.”

Quintin was touched at the genuine care Aubrey showed towards Keron. Keron, not used to getting such a show of love, just cried some more.

“Let’s go outside, Keron. The fresh air will do you good,” Aubrey told her.

Meanwhile, Quintin said goodbye to Roger. “I’ll work on getting you a good lawyer. You’re going to need one.”

After dropping Keron off at her house and assuring her that she was not in any trouble with the law, Aubrey and Quintin headed for the Hawthorne’s residence.

“Thank you so much, Quintin, and you’re right, we have to let the police know as soon as possible. I’ll definitely be calling your lawyer friend,” Mr. Hawthorne said before he and his wife left for the hospital. “Let me go see what explanation my son has for all this mess he got himself into.”

“That’s just like Mr. Hawthorne,” Aubrey said as Quintin drove her home. “He’s always been a no-nonsense type of person.”

“I’m a no nonsense person, too,” Quintin said, “So how about lunch tomorrow at twelve, if your schedule permits?”

“Sure,” Aubrey said without hesitation.

……………

Quintin Rodney soon became a regular visitor of Mt. Salem United Methodist Church and also a regular Sunday dinner guest of Mother Jamison. He and Aubrey spent more time together dining at restaurants, visiting museums, and enjoying their nights out at movies or plays.

“I try to expand my mind,” he shared with her as they took their seats at the Civic Center to enjoy an evening listening to a classical music presentation.

On one of their outings, Aubrey asked the question that had been on her heart: “Quintin, maybe you can answer this question. Obviously you seem to have a handle on prayer. You pray just about every time we get together and I have never sensed you doing it to try to impress me. My friends seem to have a handle on prayer, too. Why is it that I’m the only one who seems to be struggling with prayer?”

Quintin smiled. “I still struggle with it. I believe all Christians struggle with prayer.”

“Really?”

“Oh, yes. I don’t feel like praying most of the time. And if I followed my feelings, I would not pray most of the time, if at all. But I have found out it is best for me to pray whether I feel like it or not.”

“So, in a sense, you force yourself to pray?” Aubrey asked.

“You could say that. When I do pray the Holy Spirit does something within me. I respond better to people; my thinking is clearer; I become more solution-oriented; I have a better attitude about things.”

“I can’t imagine you not having a good attitude,” Aubrey said with a smile.

“Believe me when I tell you that my attitude was not the best. In fact, in my younger days, I had the worst attitude a teenager could have. I would chew people up in a heartbeat. I had no time for those I considered ‘small people.’ I was just full of myself.”

“What happened? I believe it’s more than prayer that made you change or at least learn to control your attitude,” Aubrey asked.

Quintin laughed. “Very insightful. I grew up in a Christian home, but somehow Christianity never rubbed off on me. My friends and what they had to say were more important to me than my parents’ Bible teachings.”

Aubrey’s eyes opened in disbelief.

“I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. One day I decided to steal this pair of sneakers from the store. I didn’t need it and I definitely did not need to steal it. We could more than afford to purchase a pair of sneakers. I just loved the thrill of getting over on the store people. Little did I know, the cashier was a young lady who attended our church and she recognized me as I was running off with the sneakers. She told my parents about my theft, and my father reported it to the police. He took me down to the police station and made them put me in jail. I spent five days in jail. I was terrified, but that was the best thing my father could have done.”

Aubrey could not imagine this clean-shaven, well-dressed gentleman as a rebellious teenager behind bars.

“I was in jail with some grown men—tough and rough-looking men. I was scared—scared enough to say, ‘No way was I visiting that place anymore.’ Anyway, to make a long story short, after I got out, I committed my life to Christ and I was the most obedient and the most respectful teenager on the face of the earth.”

Aubrey was unsuccessful in stifling her laugh.

“It’s okay to laugh at me,” Quintin said with a chuckle. “I laugh at my stupidity sometimes when I think about it. But that experience marked the turning point in my life. That’s what led me to go into law.”

Aubrey waited for Quintin to unfold the rest of his story.

“The future plight of those rough-looking men would not leave my mind. For one thing, they could not afford a lawyer. They were sitting there wasting their lives. Some told me they were innocent of the crime they were placed there for, but had to serve the time because they nor their family could afford a lawyer. One gentleman broke down crying as he told me he had a son about my age who had grown up without him being in his life. That really touched my heart.”

Aubrey felt the compassion in his voice for those people who had briefly crossed his path.

“Even though some of them were hardened criminals, I saw most still had a heart. Many of them told me, ‘son, we don’t want to see you in here again. You do not belong in here. Go out and do something great with your life and make us proud of you.'”

Smiling, he continued. “That’s when I told God I would serve Him the rest of my life when I got out. I also told him if I became a successful lawyer, I would dedicate my practice to helping those I once considered ‘small people.’ God has done His part; I have to do my part. I guess that’s one of the reasons I pray so much—to show God appreciation for all He has done for me. To answer your question, you’re not the only one struggling with prayer. Prayer is warfare because, when you pray, you’re not only praying to God, but you are praying against the devil,” he said.

“I’m curious,” Aubrey said, “where did you learn to pray as much as you do?”

“My parents,” Quintin said. “I sure hope you get to meet them soon.”

“I’d love to meet them, too,” Aubrey said. Then she continued, “You seem to have some mixed blood in you. I mean you’re not fully white nor are you fully black, and you are definitely not Spanish.”

“I have an interesting family line,” Quintin said. “My grandfather, who I am named after, is of Middle Eastern descent. He came to America to flee persecution from his Muslim parents because he started to show some interest in Christianity. He began questioning some of the Muslim teachings. A friend of his stumbled upon a Bible left by some missionaries who spent some time in Saudi Arabia but who had to flee when persecution against them heightened. The friend, well educated and fluent in English, began reading the Bible in secret. He would share his findings with my grandfather. The more the true God was revealed to them the more they questioned the teachings of Islam. Both were warned about questioning the Muslim faith, but neither took heed to the warnings. To make a long story short, they heard through a little bird that there was a death sentence on their life.

“Both my grandfather and his friend planned how to escape this death sentence. Back then, they would be stoned if they rejected their Muslim teachings for the teachings of Christianity. The night they were to run away, they got caught and they were stoned. Grandfather’s friend died, but Grandfather said that his friend died calling upon Jesus.”

“Amen,” Aubrey whispered.

“Miraculously, Grandfather survived. The crowd, including his parents, left him for dead; but a secret believer who was planning on burying them noticed that Grandfather was still alive. He made plans to fly him to the US. The plan to get him to America was a success, and Grandfather dedicated the rest of his life to sharing the Gospel with everyone—especially with Muslims.

“That is very interesting,” Aubrey said. “Now back to my original question, Where do you come in?”

Quintin chuckled. “I’ll tell you part two later over dinner on Saturday.”

Aubrey graciously accepted his invitation but under one condition: that he would be the guest speaker at the Restoration Reset Ministry meeting that Saturday morning.

Chapter 30

“Ladies, thank you so much for coming out. Today, we have a guest speaker. I’d like to introduce Mr. Quintin Rodney. He’s a dear friend of mine and a lawyer. God has blessed him and used him to help others. I’ll let him introduce himself further. Let’s give him a warm welcome.”

Quintin took his place before the ladies as they welcomed him with applause.

“Thank you, ladies. I count it an honor to be here. I’m Quintin Rodney and it’s a pleasure to be with you all. When Aubrey asked me to share a word with you, I hesitated as I thought, what could I, a man, say to you ladies that would encourage you in your situation considering that you may actually hate all men.”

The ladies chuckled. “We don’t hate them; we still love them,” one lady named Kiera said.

“I’m glad to hear that. Anyway, I wanted to decline, but she kept begging me and would not let up until I gave in. So, if I end up being a disappointment to you ladies, you can blame her.”

Aubrey smiled as their eyes met.

A tranquil spirit seemed to fall upon everyone in the room as Quintin opened up in prayer.

“God is interested in keeping families together,” he said, “and that is one reason I decided to be a family lawyer—to help families so they can live the life God has given them in harmony. Not only am I a lawyer, but I am also a Christian. Today, I will share with you some things I believe are biblically based or may be just common sense about spousal abuse.

“First, I do not believe a man ought to hit a woman for any reason whatsoever. I just do not believe God is pleased with it. In most cases, it is not even a fair fight. Picture a little lady about 100 pounds, and she’s married to a man say about 250 pounds, and they get into it one day, and he rears back and punches her. She does not stand a chance. Even in the boxing arena, boxers have to compete against someone in the same weight category.

“Second, there are some signs to look out for. If he never gets upset or voices his disappointment in anything, beware as he may be keeping things bottled up inside of him until he reaches a breaking point and then there’s a big ol’ blow-up. It’s like vigorously shaking a soda can. The pressure inside the can builds up and when you pop the can open—POW!—everything explodes out. What do you have to do to control it again? Set the soda can down and leave it alone until its contents settle down. From a human standpoint, that blow-up manifests itself not only in physical abuse, but verbal abuse.

“Third, if you sense a problem and he never wants to discuss it—be careful. There is nothing wrong with you and your husband disagreeing on things from time to time. All marriages experience that. But, it is best to lovingly communicate with one another before the situation gets out of hand. In my law practice, I have found that this is normally the storyline. When it gets to the point of physical or verbal abuse, normally it is something that has been brewing for a long time in the marriage on both sides. Yes, that’s right, women, it takes two to tango. I can’t tell you how many women who have said to me after things have settled down, ‘He’s not the only one wrong; I’m at fault too.'”

Some of the women nodded their heads in agreement.

“Fourth, if he tries to control your every move—that’s a warning sign; be careful,” Quintin continued. “At the same time, make sure that you carry yourself as a woman of integrity, honesty, and character so that you won’t give him a reason to start doing that.

“Fifth, if he uses threatening phrases like: ‘You’re gonna pay,’ ‘I’m gonna deal with you about it,’ ‘I won’t forget this’ (referring to something you did that he was not pleased with)—that’s a warning sign; be careful. These are some tell-tale signs that I and other family lawyers and family counselors have noticed as we deal with clients in an abusive situation. And if he is giving out serious threats like that, it would be better for you to leave at that point than to wait until something blows up. If you are doing the best you can as a wife or mother, you do not need to be in a threatening environment. A man should never hit a woman, but at the same time, I would say to you, ladies, make sure that you are living your life in a way that is pleasing to God. Follow the example of some of the older women who knew how to handle a man and were able to defuse issues before they got out of hand. I encourage you to seek out an older woman in the church to advise you on how to handle a man. Contrary to what you might think, it doesn’t take much to please a good man and get him to the point where he will move the world to make you happy. But you have to be a good woman too.”

Mother Jamison reached over and squeezed Aubrey’s hand as she knew this meeting must be tough for her having to relive her nightmare marriage. Aubrey smiled at her mother and whispered, “I’m all right, Mother. The pain is gone.”

“Now, I have to be fair across the board,” Quintin continued. “What I am about to say next may get some of you upset, but please hear me out before you cut me off. Some husbands have shared with me that sometimes their wives do things that just gets to them. I had one husband to tell me that his wife abuses him too. This is what he told me. He said she abuses him whenever she rolls her eyes, talks back to him in a disrespectful way, blows, walks off whenever he tries to discuss something, or just has a nasty attitude and spirit. He told me and I quote: ‘Whenever my wife disrespects me like that I feel she is abusing me, so it goes both ways.'”

Apart from some grunts after those last words, the ladies hung on to every word he shared with them.

“Now, ladies, some of these signs manifest themselves even before you get married. So for those of you here who may be single, be observant; and with much prayer ask God to help you to make the right decision regarding a potential mate. Ladies, I have never been married before so I don’t pretend to know all there is to know about marriage, but I do know from observing my own parents’ marriage that it can and should be a beautiful thing if done God’s way. My parents had that special something that I have heard God puts in a marriage between a husband and his wife—and that is a bond that cannot be easily broken.”

As Quintin surveyed the crowd, he saw Kiera wipe her eyes. Looking directly at her, he said, “God loves you and wants the best for you. I know you may love your husband but sometimes love must be tough; sometimes love has to say goodbye for your own protection.”

Kiera smiled and nodded as the lady sitting next to her placed an arm around her shoulders.

“In closing, ladies,” Quintin finished, “let me encourage you to pray each day for your marriage. Ask God to create within you that meek and quiet spirit that the Bible speaks of and to help you to not respond negatively towards your mate; respect him and God will reward you. From a male’s point of view, there is something very attractive and, I might add, sexy about a woman who has a meek and quiet spirit. So practice that with your man and leave the results to God.”

Smiling, Quintin added, “I knew I could get a smile out of some of you.”

The ladies laughed.

“There’s a lot more I could share with you, but I’ll leave it here for now. I’ll do part two if you invite me back,” Quintin joked.

“We want you back,” the ladies said out loud.

“We’ll definitely have him back,” Aubrey assured them as she took the podium.

EPISODE 11

Chapter 31

Friday’s dinner date found Quintin and Aubrey at a quaint Arab restaurant about forty minutes drive out of town.

“It’s a little out of the way, but I figured this would be appropriate as I share part two of my family history with you,” Quintin said.

The forty minute drive seemed like five minutes to Aubrey as they took their seats in the restaurant. Quintin exchanged a few words with the waiter in Arabic.

“And what did you just say?” Aubrey asked.

“Oh, he’s a friend of my father’s. Whenever I come by, he asks when will my father visit again,” Quintin replied. “I know enough Arabic to survive. My grandfather insisted on my sister and me learning Arabic. He would only speak to us in Arabic whenever we were around him. That forced us to learn the language.”

Looking over the menu, he asked, “Have you ever eaten lamb?”

“No,” Aubrey said trying to make sense of the menu.

“Give me the honor then. I’ll order us my favorite: shawarma, which is sliced lamb with rice, an order of kimaje, which is flat bread, and some vegetables.”

“Sounds good,” Aubrey said.

After the waiter brought their meal, Aubrey said, “Quintin, you mentioned on our drive over here that when it comes to prayer, I may be considered the weaker vessel.”

Quintin laughed. “I see you have not forgotten.”

“How can I when you left me thinking my prayer life will be weak because I am a female? My mother is a strong, praying woman. You told me your mother was a strong, praying woman. Pastor Ashton’s wife is a strong, praying woman. Simone, Kelli, and Jennifer are becoming strong, praying women as well. How can you justify your statement?”

“Please forgive me. It was not my intent to cause you to think that your prayer life would be weak. I have come across some women who have a stronger prayer life than some men; they knew how to get a hold of God. Allow me to clarify my statement. If a woman does not allow her feelings to get in the way of her faith in God, and thus her prayer life, then she can become a strong force for God in the area of prayer. If, however, she allows her feelings and her emotions to take control of her life then she will not pray effectively.”

Aubrey nodded as she could recall the countless times she allowed her emotions to get in the way of spending quality time with God in prayer.

“As you already know, it is through prayer that we communicate with God,” Quintin continued. “It is through prayer that we tell God what we need and share with Him our dreams and aspirations, our troubles and worries. It is through prayer that we secure the Holy Spirit’s help. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter Jesus promised He would send to us after His returned to Heaven. In John chapter fourteen, Jesus said to His disciples, ‘the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance.’

“So when you pray, you are asking the Holy Spirit to come and help you, not only to pray, but to help you in whatever you are praying about. Now, since prayer is our only means of communication with God, if you were the devil, what would you do to a Christian woman when she gets ready to pray?”

“I would mess with her emotions as soon as she gets ready to pray,” Aubrey quickly answered. “In fact, I would mess up her thinking before she even begins to pray.”

Quintin laughed. “Correct. That is why you don’t feel like praying; your mind wanders; you pray quick, short prayers; you doubt God will hear your prayers, let alone answer your prayers; and even after praying you still worry and fret and try to do things on your own.”

Aubrey smiled. “I can definitely identify with all you just said. I don’t know how many times I call myself trying to help God out.”

“I don’t even want to guess at how many of us try to answer our own prayers, including myself,” Quintin said. “Now, let’s eat before our food gets cold. But, before we do, let’s ask the Lord to bless this meal.”

After Quintin finished praying, Aubrey eagerly scooped up a forkful of her meat. “Mmm, this is delicious,” she said after swallowing her first mouthful. “Thank you so much for this meal.”

“You are more than welcome,” Quintin said eating a few forkfuls before continuing his discussion on prayer. “That’s the spiritual battle we all go through. The Christian and the devil are constantly struggling against each other. The Christian wants to pray and attempts to pray, but that ol’ devil, our enemy, throws everything in his way to discourage him from praying. That’s why the apostle Paul tells us to ‘pray without ceasing.’ If we obeyed that commandment, I’m sure we would get some prayers answered.”

“I’ve tried to pray without ceasing, but that never seems to work out for me,” Aubrey said.

“I believe it means to always be in a spirit of prayer,” Quintin said. “I am sure you have had the experience of a quiet voice reminding you to pray even when you are doing something else like driving down the road.”

“Yes, I’ve experienced that voice telling me to pray, but I must admit, I tend to ignore it,” Aubrey confessed.

“Many people do. I have learned not to ignore it. That’s the Holy Spirit reminding you to pray. I’ve learned to listen to His promptings and to pray as it prepares me to face an angry client, or to graciously accept bad news…or to control myself when around a beautiful woman like you,” Quintin said.

Aubrey pretended to ignore his last words even though it caused a warmness to flow through her.

“You know, as I think about it, if I had listened to that quiet voice, I could have dealt with some negative issues in my life in a more sensible way,” Aubrey said.

“As I said earlier, prayer is spiritual warfare…Are you still listening?” Quintin asked placing a hand on her hand to get her full attention.

“Forgive me. Something crossed my mind.”

“Something good, I hope,” Quintin said.

Aubrey nodded and smiled.

“Prayer is spiritual warfare,” Quintin continued. “The unseen forces of the devil will do anything to prevent you from praying or to prevent you from learning about praying. But the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, will teach you all things and will open your understanding to biblical truths.”

“I see,” Aubrey said.

“Paul tells us in Ephesians chapter six to put on the whole armour of God because we ‘wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’”

“You know,” Aubrey said, “some of the things that have taken place in my life, I can’t even begin to offer human explanations for them. I can only say that those negative situations were certainly influenced by the devil.”

“You hit it right on the head. Many Christians do not believe the devil is real; they do not believe there is an unseen force working against them, and so they turn against each other and blame each other.”

“I certainly believe that the devil exists now, and I thank you for taking the time to help me have a better understanding of how prayer works,” Aubrey said.

“You’re more than welcome,” Quintin replied. “Always remember, the devil is powerful, but we have a God who is more powerful than him. God has already given us the victory over the devil through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.”

“I can say ‘Amen’ to that,” Aubrey said.

“I see you are almost finished with your meal. How did you like it?”

“Everything was delicious,” Aubrey said.

“I hope you are not in a hurry; I’d love to talk with you some more.”

Chapter 32

“Now are you ready for part two as to why I am neither black nor white nor of Spanish descent?” Quintin asked. “Let me see, where was I?”

“Your grandfather had safely arrived in the United States,” Aubrey reminded him.

“Oh, yes. Grandpa Quintin recovered under the care of a pastor and his wife. He grew stronger in the faith and expressed a desire to go to medical school. That’s where he met my grandmother, Clara, who happens to be African-American.”

“I knew it,” Aubrey exclaimed. “I knew you had some black blood in you.”

“I can walk and talk with swag too,” Quintin laughed. “My father, Qadir, was their eldest child. They had five children. Turns out my father also married a woman who was–”

“Let me guess,” Aubrey said eagerly. “She’s African-American as well.”

“Correct. Her name is Quiera.” As he finished his plate, Quintin shared a few stories about his upbringing and then the waiter came with the tab. “So would you like to come dine here again and try another dish?” he asked.

“Sure,” Aubrey said while trying to stifle a smile.

“It’s all set then,” Quintin said, “and what are you trying not to smile about?”

“Oh, just a silly thought.”

“What is it? Come on. You can share it with me.”

“Forgive me if I sound too forward, but do you plan on doing what your grandfather and father did, you know, and marry an African-American?”

Quintin chuckled. “Yes, I am open to that.”

It was almost midnight when they left the restaurant.

“Thank you so much for a wonderful evening, and for taking the time to share your insights regarding prayer,” Aubrey said after putting on her seat-belt.

“The pleasure was all mine. I’d love to do it again soon,” Quintin said. “How about Friday for lunch?”

“Can we make it next Tuesday? Remember Simone and Kelvin’s wedding is on Saturday. I’ll be decorating at the church for the most part on Friday. You did get an invitation, right?”

“I sure did. I had forgotten about it. But I’ll be there,” Quintin said.

…………………

Aubrey could not wait to talk about her evening out with Quintin with her friends.

“I knew it,” Simone said. “He’s level-headed, intelligent, and a Bible scholar. On top of that, he is of Arab descent. I won’t be surprised if he has invested in oil somewhere. Girl, you won’t ever have to worry about money.”

“A man of prayer is worth keeping,” Jennifer said. Placing a hand behind her ears, she added, “I think I hear wedding bells.”

“You can’t put a price on him, so you’d better hold on and never let go,” Kelli sang. “And to think he’s open to marrying a black woman. I think he proposed to you in an indirect way, Aubrey.”

“You girls are jumping the broom way ahead of me,” Aubrey laughed. “I think he’s just checking me out like I’m checking him out…and I love what I’m seeing.”

“So do we,” her friends chuckled.

…………………

Aubrey and her friends started picking Keron up to take her to church with them. They spent as much time with her as they could to be an encouragement to her and to help out with her grandmother. Mother Jamison became one of her regular visitors, and as they got to know each other better, Granny, as Keron’s grandmother insisted on being called, shared some personal things with Mother Jamison.

“You know, I love my granddaughter dearly. I was mad and became bitter toward my daughter, Kim, for abandoning her just because she did not want to be ‘tied down’ — to use her words — with a baby. I could have slapped her when she told me that. She was thinking of putting Keron up for adoption. I had to beg her not to get rid of her baby, and I told her that I would take care of Keron if I had to. About a week after Keron was born, Kim disappeared. I have not seen or heard from her except for two letters about a month after she left.”

Mother Jamison handed Granny some tissue to wipe her eyes.

“I was hoping, after nine months of carrying her own baby, she would have a change of mind. But, no, that man she was fooling with had her mind so twisted up she took off with him. Only the good Lord knows where they are.”

“I tell you one thing we can do, and that is, we can pray for them and for Keron,” Mother Jamison said patting Granny’s back.

“I’ve been praying ’cause that’s all I can do, but I’m afraid I’ve let the sun go down on my wrath,” Granny said. “I’ve said some bitter words to Keron about them; I just hope that has not affected her too much.”

“She’ll pull through,” Mother Jamison said thinking it best not to mention anything about the trouble that Keron was involved in. “Keron’s been coming to church with us and you’re more than welcome to come as well.”

“I may just take you up on your offer. Since my eyes started going bad, I kind of stopped going. People don’t want to be bothered with you as much when you can’t do for yourself anymore.”

Mother Jamison shared the new info about Keron with Aubrey, her friends, and with Quintin who said he would ask the judge to go easy on Keron so that she would not have to do any jail time. “I’ll be sure to share her situation with her lawyer,” he said.

“I appreciate it,” Mother Jamison said. “And, girls, we just need to continue loving on her and spending time with her.”

 

Chapter 33

Kelvin and Simone’s wedding was a splendid event. The church was beautifully decorated. “You’re a natural at this decorating thing,” Quintin shared with Aubrey. “You definitely ought to go into business for yourself.”

At the end of each pew, a burgundy colored ribbon braided with a white colored ribbon was wrapped around a four inch white candle. Crimson and white rose petals were strewn down the center aisle, side aisles, and across the front. Burgundy and white sheer curtains hung across the front covering the pulpit area. The girls had pooled their resources and talents and, under Aubrey’s direction, they pulled off one of the biggest and most beautiful weddings Mt. Salem had ever seen.

Jennifer served as maid-of-honor, and Kelli, Simone’s two cousins, and Keron served as bridesmaids. Keron was thrilled. She slipped Simone a note before she and Kelvin took off for their honeymoon. It read:

Simone, I wish you and Kelvin all the best. Thank you for your help. Thank you also for your friendship. Pray for me that I will come to trust Jesus as you do. I love you, Keron.

“Keron’s a good person,” Kelvin said after Simone showed him the note. “She just has her issues which I’m sure she’ll get over.”

…………………

“This is one wedding I’ll never forget,” Aubrey said to Quintin during the reception.

“Do you think you’ll want to get married again?” Quintin asked her.

“Yes,” Aubrey replied with a smile. “Someday…if I find the right man.”

“I’m sure you will,” Quintin assured her.

…………………

Over dinner the following Tuesday, Quintin gave her an update on Roger’s situation. Roger was still on bed rest and would be confined to a wheelchair probably for the rest of his life.

“I spoke with my lawyer friend who I asked to handle his case, and he said he will try to get the judge to consider his being confined to a wheelchair as punishment enough, coupled with the guilt over what he has done. He may not go to jail, but they are still discussing the case. The lawyer is working on getting his sentence reduced as much as he can. If he cooperates, I’m sure everything will work out,” Quintin said. “Anyway, enough of Roger. Let’s talk about us.”

…………………

“I’m going to miss Simone,” Aubrey said to her friends over cake and ice cream at her mother’s house during the first week of Simone’s two-week honeymoon. They had decided to meet at Mother Jamison’s instead of at the Cherry Blossom Cafe. “She was great to have around.”

“One thing I can say for sure,” Jennifer said, “and that is, God answers persistent prayers.”

“Yes,” Kelli said. “I spoke with Trevor and he’s resigned to spending the rest of his life in the military. Justin and I will be leaving to join him soon. They will be stationing him in Germany. Now that we are married, he definitely wants us to be together as a family.”

“We’re going to miss you,” Jennifer said.

“I’m going to miss you guys too. At least we’ll be together. That’s what I’ve been praying for. But what about you, Jennifer? How are things going between you and Brad?”

“Wonderful. Our wedding might be the next one you attend.” Jennifer stuck her hand out across the table and and showed off a beautiful diamond engagement ring. “Brad gave it to me on yesterday,” she beamed.

“It’s beautiful,” Mother Jamison said. “It seems like I’m losing my girls one by one.” She feigned crying.

“We’ll always be your girls,” they said giving her a hug.

START READING: EPISODE #12

Chapter 34

“So many of the ladies attending the Restoration Reset meetings need straightforward counseling,” Aubrey told Quintin one evening over the phone. “Sometimes I feel so inadequate when they come to me for help. I’m thinking about getting some training in counseling.”

“Really?” said Quintin.

“Yes, but don’t get me wrong now. I’m sharing everything I can from the Word of God, and I’ve been reading just about every commentary I can get my hands on so I can understand it myself and explain it to them, but I just have this unshakeable feeling that there is something more I need to do to minister to them effectively.”

“I know what you are saying,” Quintin said. “Whenever I want to help my clients better, I pray more and I ask God to give me wisdom and insight.”

“So you don’t think I need to pursue a counseling degree?” Aubrey asked.

“I think you need to pray about it and do as God is leading you,” Quintin said. “Do you already have a particular university in mind?”

“Not yet, but whatever college I choose I’ll probably be attending online. I still have my interior design business to manage, you know.”

……………

While Aubrey began looking into becoming a certified counselor, Kelvin was growing in his new relationship with Jesus Christ.

“It was your prayers that gave me not only my physical life back, but also eternal life, so there must be something to this thing called prayer,” he said to Simone after she gave him a set of books on prayer.

Kelvin began to call on Pastor Ashton and his good friend, Alphonse, who had stuck with him through his dark days in the hospital, to discuss spiritual issues. He also asked Quintin to join them in forming a prayer group.

“Let’s pray for Roger to receive a fair sentence,” Quintin said to Kelvin and Alphonse one night after they had gathered at Alphonse’s apartment. “I spoke with him and he reassured me of his salvation. He thinks that God is punishing him for his lack of obedience to God and for taking God’s blessings for granted.”

Kelvin nodded. “I was just reading about that this past week. It’s somewhere in Hebrews, I think.”

Alphonse looked up the passage on his iPad. “Here we go,” he began. “It’s in Hebrews 12:6-10: ‘For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of Spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chasteneth us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.’”

“Amen,” Quintin said.

“So that means I had better do right,” Kelvin chuckled, “lest God has to chastise me.”

The men laughed. “Like Pastor Ashton said a couple Sundays back, we’ll be alright if we trust God, love God, fear God, obey God, and be faithful to God,” Alphonse said.

“Amen again,” Quintin said.

……………

At the end of another Restoration Reset meeting, one of the attendees, Kiera, met privately with Aubrey. “I don’t know what else to do,” she said. “My husband still has my kids after he picked them up from school last Friday. I’ve left messages asking him to meet me at the park so I can pick them up like we agreed to do before the judge. We’re getting ready to sign off on the divorce papers, Aubrey. I just want my kids back.”

Aubrey pulled Kiera into a hug as her voice cracked with emotion.

“He’s trying to use our kids to get me to come back to him,” Kiera said. “I don’t want to get the court involved, but I’m going to have to. I can’t even afford a lawyer.”

“I know someone who would represent you,” Aubrey said. “Quintin Rodney. The lawyer who spoke with us some time back.”

“Oh, him? I lost his card. Do you think he’ll take my case?”

“Yes, he will take you,” Aubrey assured her. “And don’t worry about the charges. Let’s pray for God to keep your kids safe and to give you peace in this situation. The Bible says God will ‘keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him because he trusteth in Him.’ Just trust God, Kiera. I’ll ask Quintin Rodney to give you a call this week.”

……………

“Sure, Aubrey, I’ll take her case,” Quintin said after Aubrey informed him of Kiera’s dilemma. He then chuckled.

“What’s so funny?” Aubrey asked.

“Nothing really. I was just thinking that there is never a dull moment with you. First, I had to deliver you from a possible murder conviction; now I’m trying to help get your friend, Roger, through a murder trial; I helped pray Kelvin back to health; and now you’ve enlisted me to help get Kiera’s children back to her.”

“That’s because God is using you to help the ‘small people,’” Aubrey laughed. “Remember your promise to Him while you were in jail for five days?” she said.

“Yes. Thanks for reminding me. I can’t wait to see what God has next on His agenda for me,” said Quintin.

 

Chapter 35

Quintin picked Aubrey up on Friday for their lunch date.

“I hope you don’t mind, but I ordered take-out from the Chinese restaurant. We’ll go back to my office and eat in a more relaxed setting,” Quintin said. “I got sweet and sour chicken for you.”

“You did! That’s my favorite. How’d you know?” Aubrey asked.

Quintin shrugged. “I just guessed.”

As Aubrey settled down in Quintin’s office, she took a good look around. It had been several months since she had visited his office, and now that she had some experience in interior design, her mind was already coming up with ways to make the office space more inviting.

“I’m guessing maroon is your favorite color,” Aubrey said as she eyed the curtains, the cushions in the chairs, and the carpet.

“Yes,” said Quintin talking around a mouth-full. “And I’m guessing you think there’s too much of it in this office,” he added with a laugh.

Aubrey smiled. “Well, yes, it is a bit overdone.”

Quintin wiped his lips with a napkin. “If you have some free time over the next two weeks, you can come in and do your thing. I’ll be leaving on Monday for a lawyer’s conference in Ohio; and then my sister will be getting married on Thursday. I’ll be spending the second week at my parent’s beach house.”

“That would be plenty of time to transform this place,” said Aubrey.

Quintin pulled an extra key out of the desk drawer and handed it to her. “My assistant, Sonja, will be around so you can ask her if you have any questions about something.”

“I got you,” Aubrey said. “I’ll fix you up.”

They both ate in silence for a few moments until Aubrey said, “You know, I don’t think I was satisfied with the explanation you gave regarding how being the weaker vessel and prayer and spiritual warfare all tie together.”

“Let’s see,” Quintin said wrinkling his forehead as he tried to remember what he had said before. “Well, the Bible says the husband ought to give honour to the wife as the weaker vessel. Generally speaking, a woman is weaker than the man–”

“Wait a minute now!” Aubrey interrupted. “I know some women who would put some men to shame. I’ve seen some.” Aubrey laughed and Quintin joined in. There was something sexy about her laughter that turned him on.

“You took the words out of my mouth. Yes, some women can handle themselves,” he agreed. “But as I said, generally speaking. Take you and me: you’re…about one hundred and twenty pounds–”

“One twenty-five,” Aubrey said.

“One twenty-five, and I’m one eighty with some muscles,” he said with a smile. “I would come out on top in any physical contest. Transfer that over into the spiritual and emotional realm, and I believe the two are strongly connected. I should be stronger spiritually and emotionally. God has equipped the man to be a fighter, a conqueror, to lead his family in spiritual battle. A husband who does that will take his family a long way spiritually speaking.”

Aubrey’s expression grew serious. I wonder why I never think of those reasons when I think of the kind of man I would like to have in my life.

“Did I say something to offend you?” Quintin asked.

“No,” Aubrey replied. “I was just thinking.”

“About what?”

“I’m kind of ashamed to admit this, but here goes,” she said reluctantly. “I shared with my girlfriends more than once how badly I desired a man in my life and how my life did not feel complete without one. I wanted one for companionship and for the excitement it would bring. Some of my married friends told me that I wanted a man for the wrong reasons. They said that one of the main reasons why I should want a man was for him to help me grow closer to God. The more I talk with you, the more I have to say they are right.”

Quintin nodded as Aubrey continued.

“My former husband did not pray at all. Roger, he did not pray either. They were both kind of crazy and I guess the thrill and the excitement pulled me in. But, both of those relationships ended badly.”

After a few seconds of silence, Quintin asked quietly, “Does that mean there’s an open door for me to fulfill that role in your life?”

“Mmm…maybe,” Aubrey said even though she wanted to shout ‘Yes, please do!’

“You know, Aubrey, you’re a beautiful person with a beautiful smile and a contagious laugh,” Quintin said leaning forward at his desk. “Exactly what are you looking for in the man you wish to marry…if you were to marry again?”

“Let me see…” Aubrey said caught off guard. “Well…he has to be real; he has to be about something and headed in the right direction; he has to have goals, dreams and aspirations; he has to not only look like a man, but act like a man because I do not want to have to deal with another one of me.”

Quintin chuckled. “Anything else?”

“He must have a job because I don’t think a man should have to lean on his wife all the time to pay the bills. He must be a man who’s not afraid to take charge. He must also know how to have fun and know how to make me laugh.” Aubrey sighed. “And I don’t want a man who’s afraid of me either. I want one who’s able to stand up to my mess when I’m not thinking and acting clearly. And he should be a praying man as well.” I think you certainly fit the bill, she added mentally.

“Well, that’s one long list of requirements,” Quintin laughed. And then he added softly, “But I think I can deliver.”

Aubrey smiled inside. Clearing her throat, she asked, “What are you looking for in the woman you wish to marry?”

“She has to be real and not be afraid to share what’s truly in her heart no matter how painful or how embarrassing it may be like you just did. She has to have goals; she has to be willing to follow and respect her husband as a leader and as the head of the house, but at the same time be her own person. She must be a strong woman. I don’t mind a woman getting a little emotional every now and then. We are all human. But she cannot live a roller-coaster life because I won’t be riding with her. She must know how to find her own happiness and joy through God because that is one thing I and no one else is able to deliver.”

He clasped his hands behind his head and leaned back in his office chair waiting for Aubrey to respond.

Tall order, Aubrey thought. “With everything I’ve learned recently, I think I can meet those requirements,” she said.

 

Chapter 36

Over the next two weeks, Aubrey threw herself into her new interior design project. She was confident that she knew Quintin enough to deliver an office makeover he’d be pleased with. She waited expectantly for a phone call from him each day.

“I sure do miss talking with him face-to-face,” she told her girlfriends at their get-together that Friday. “He really has brought a sense of stability to my life. I can’t believe I’m actually counting down the days to his return.”

……………

It was late Tuesday evening. Aubrey was filing away the last of her customers’ paperwork when the door chime to her home office rang.

She pressed the button on the intercom. “Who is it?” she asked.

“A friend who can deliver,” a familiar voice replied.

A smile spread across Aubrey’s face. She eagerly pressed the button that released the lock on the door. “You can come in now,” she said trying not to sound too excited.

As Quintin stepped through the door, Aubrey did all she could to keep from running to him and wrapping her arms around his neck. “It’s so good to see you again!”

“Well, I can tell you want to hug me,” Quintin said extending his arms toward her. Aubrey got up and he pulled her into an embrace. “You’re all I thought about these past two weeks,” he said. “I told my parents all about you, and they can’t wait to meet you.”

“You’re all I thought about too,” Aubrey replied.

He kissed her on the forehead before quietly suggesting that they pray together.

Aubrey missed praying with Quintin. As he prayed, a feeling of oneness seemed to surround them and bind their hearts together. He prayed simply and powerfully to the God they both believed in. And that made Aubrey feel secure. She felt like she could stay in his arms and listen to him pray forever.

“Have you stopped by your office yet?” Aubrey asked as he released her from his embrace.

“Not yet. I was hoping you would come with me,” he said taking her hand.

When they arrived at his office, Aubrey unlocked the door and stepped aside so he could enter.

Quintin stopped just inside the door. “Wow! Is this my office?” he exclaimed.

“Like what you see?” Aubrey asked with a smile.

The hand Quintin had raised to flip the light switch dropped to his side without completing its task. The light coming from the desk lamp with the burgundy and black shade bathed the room in a soft glow. The atmosphere was calm, serene, and inviting. New drapes—black with burgundy and gold tassels—hung from the windows. The cherry oak table seemed to reflect the light in the room. A comfortable couch occupied the corner of the waiting area, accompanied by a tall floor lamp, three matching chairs, and a low oval-shaped cherry oak table. A painting of a mountain range hung on the wall above the couch.

“You outdid yourself,” Quintin said slipping his arm around her waist. “This fits me. And it looks like it came out of a magazine.”

Aubrey beamed with pride. She loved being close to him and she was glad to be able to do something for him.

“I hope you’re not in a hurry to get back,” Quintin said. “I figured we could talk and get caught up on these past two weeks, among other things.”

“And just what do you mean by ‘other things’?” Aubrey teased.

Quintin grinned. “I don’t want to spoil my ‘other things’ for you just yet,” he chuckled. But he reached into his pocket and pulled out a tiny black velvet box.

Aubrey fought to keep from smiling and crying. “What do you have there?” she asked though she already knew.

“Just something I picked up while I was out of town. Something I prayed about a lot. Something that cost a lot of money. Something I’d really like to have the privilege of giving away to someone special,” Quintin said as he leaned down to kiss Aubrey.

As Quintin took her hand and led her to the couch, Aubrey thought her heart would beat its way out of her chest. She sat down and Quintin sat beside her.

Slowly, Quintin opened the small black velvet box. “Will you marry me, Aubrey Jamison?” he asked.

 

START READING: EPISODE #13

Chapter 37

Aubrey looked on with curiosity as Quintin held out the small velvet black box and slipped the cover off to reveal a beautiful diamond engagement ring that sparkled in the dim light of his newly-decorated office.

“Wow! It’s beautiful,” Aubrey said in awe.

Wasting no time, Quintin said, “Ms. Aubrey Jamison, I’d love for you to be my wife. It seems you can deliver and meet the expectations I have for the woman I would like to be my wife. Will you marry me?”

Aubrey was beyond herself. “Yes! It seems you can deliver and meet my expectations as well. I would count it an honor to marry you.”

Aubrey held her breath as Quintin placed the ring on her finger. “You are one special lady,” Quintin said embracing her and giving her a kiss.

They spent the next few hours sharing their dreams, goals, and aspirations for the future. It was almost midnight when they pulled up in the Jamisons’ driveway.

“Please come in and say ‘Hi’ to Mother. It’s not too late. She’s still up. Plus, I want you there when I tell her about our engagement,” Aubrey told Quintin.

Mother Jamison was relaxing in her recliner reading her Bible when they entered the house.

“Hello you two. Quintin, it’s good to see you again,” Mother Jamison greeted them. “Did you have a good trip?”

“I sure did, Mother Jamison. It’s good to be back.”

“What are you smiling so much about, Aubrey?” Mother Jamison asked her daughter.

“I have some great news,” Aubrey said, nearly unable to contain herself.

“Don’t tell me,” Mother Jamison said looking from her daughter to Quintin and back to her daughter. “Quintin proposed to you?”

“How did you know?” Aubrey said showing her mother the engagement ring.

“A mother knows these things. Congratulations!” Mother Jamison got up from her seat and pulled Quintin and Aubrey into a group hug.

“Forgive me for not getting your permission first,” Quintin said. “But, as soon as I got back and saw Aubrey, I couldn’t wait any longer.”

Mother Jamison laughed. “Don’t worry about it. I believe you are just the kind of man my daughter needs in her life. May God bless you both with many years together. I am so happy for you.”

“I was telling my parents about you and Aubrey. They can’t wait to meet you,” Quintin said. “I’d like to take both of you to meet them within the next month. They live in Ohio.”

“I’d love to meet them,” Mother Jamison said.

They chatted for a while longer before Quintin left for the night.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Jennifer, Kelli, and Simone were ecstatic for Aubrey. They were at the Cherry Blossom Cafe when she told them the news. “Don’t you lift a finger to do anything for your wedding,” they warned Aubrey. “You are always doing for us and for others; now it’s time for us to do for you. We’re going to give you a wedding you’ll never forget.”

Shortly after they had gathered, Kelli’s cellphone rang. Her face creased with worry as she listened to the person on the other end and then hung up.

“That was my mom,” Kelly said. “Something is wrong with my son, Justin; he’s having problems standing up. He keeps saying his legs are hurting. I have to go now. Please pray that everything works out.”

“Would you like for us to come with you?” Aubrey asked.

“No need to. I’ll give you a call, if not tonight, then tomorrow.”

Aubrey and her friends prayed with Kelli for Justin before she left.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Kelli gave her friends a call the next morning. “I won’t be able to make it to the Restoration Reset meeting tonight. The doctor is operating on Justin now.” She gave her friends a quick update on Justin’s condition. “His legs are swelling, and the doctors say they don’t know why. Please keep praying for him.”

Chapter 38

Kelli had arrived at her mother’s house within thirty minutes of receiving the phone call. Justin, who was over two-years-old, was curled up on his grandmother’s lap tossing and moaning.

“I rubbed some pain ointment over his legs and feet,” Kelli’s mother, Beatrice, told her. “It seems like just one leg is affected. Rub your hand over his leg right there in that spot.”  Beatrice pointed to Justin’s lower left leg.

Kelli gently slid her palm over her son’s lower leg. She felt a knot on his leg. Justin pulled his leg away and moaned.

“My goodness!” Kelli said. “His left foot is swollen also.”

“I noticed he was walking kind of wobbly and his legs kept giving way under him,” Beatrice said.

“Here, Justin. Stand up for Mommy. Come on, baby,” Kelli said trying to get her son to walk to her.

Beatrice placed her grandson on the floor. She attempted to get him to stand up by himself, but he held on to her arms tightly. Kelli grabbed him before he fell to the floor.

“I’m taking him to the emergency room,” Kelli said. “Call Dr. Fayner, please.”

When they arrived at the hospital, Dr. Fayner met them at the emergency room entrance. They hurried up to the children’s ward on the second floor. Dr. Fayner listened as Beatrice told her about what had been happening with Justin.

“He was his usual active self for about an hour, then I noticed he was holding on to the chairs and kind of limping along. It seemed as though his leg doubled back under him and he fell to the floor. I picked him up and set him back on his feet and his leg gave way again.”

“Thank you, Beatrice,” Dr. Fayner said as she turned her attention to Justin. Justin was crying softly. “Tell me where it hurts, Justin,” she said gently touching different sections on his leg. As her touches drew closer to his lower leg and feet, Justin started to pull his leg away.

“It hurts,” he cried. “Mommy, it hurts.”

“I know, baby,” Kelli comforted him.

“You can hold him now,” Dr. Fayner said. “I am going to call in the prep nurses to get him ready to have x-rays taken on his leg. It seems like a bone may be fractured. Something is sticking out. The knot does not feel like a tumor; it feels too jagged—too sharp.”

Turning to Beatrice, Dr. Fayner asked, “Did he fall at all? Did something fall on top of his leg?”

“No, nothing like that. I had him in my sight the whole time he was with me.”

“Like I said, we’ll do some x-rays; that should give us a better idea as to what we are dealing with here,” Dr. Fayner said. “We’ll get you to feeling much better, little Justin. You’ll be running around in no time.”

The two nurses came to get Justin. He cried when they took him away from his mother and grandmother. “Mama! Nana! I want Mama!”

“Don’t worry, Justin,” Dr. Fayner said. “As soon as they get you ready, Mama and Nana will come stay with you.”

“We might keep him overnight to run some other tests,” Dr. Fayner told Kelli and Beatrice.

Once in the room with Justin, Kelli called Aubrey and her friends. “I know it’s late, but I just had to call up my prayer team.  Please pray for Justin. Somehow his leg is broken and he’s in a lot of pain, but he’s hanging in there…Dr. Fayner can’t say for sure what caused it…It just happened out of the blue. I’ll keep you updated.”

Kelli called her husband, Trevor, who was now stationed in Germany.

“I wish I was there,” Trevor said. “I miss you both; but hang in there and make sure you praying daily. Let’s pray right now.”

After they prayed, Trevor said, “If it gets worse, I’ll see if I can get a week or two off to come be with you and Justin. I love you, Kelli.”

“I love you, too” Kelli said.

“Everything will work out. God is still in control,” Trevor said before hanging up.

 . . . . . . . . . . . .

When Dr. Fayner returned to Justin’s room, he was asleep. She had given him some pain medication to help him get some rest.

“The x-rays revealed a fracture in his leg,” Dr. Fayner told Kelli. “I’m waiting on the lab work, so I’m not sure yet what caused it, but we should have the results in the morning.”

Chapter 39

The following morning, Dr. Fayner stopped by to check on Justin.

“The results of his tests came back negative. I have two of my colleagues examining the x-rays to see what the problem might be. They are going to come in later to examine Justin. In the meantime, I want you to increase his calcium intake. This should help strengthen his bones. Make sure he eats plenty of whole milk, liver for extra iron, lots of green leafy vegetables, meat, and beans.”

A nutritionist discussed a meal plan with Kelli and her mother. Justin was put on a calcium supplement regimen.

“Until we can give you something more definite,” Dr. Fayner said, “we want you to keep him off his feet until his leg heals. It seems to be affecting just one leg right now, but we’ll monitor him to see if his other leg will be affected also.”

Justin was allowed to return home the following evening. Kelli’s mother came to stay with them to help out as much as possible. Jennifer, Simone, and Aubrey stopped by to encourage Kelli. They showered Justin with gifts, and showered Kelli and Beatrice with prayer.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Kelvin was enjoying the honeymoon period of his new life in Christ. He became a regular attendee at Mt. Salem along with Simone.

“I tell you what, Simone, I do not know what I was waiting on to get saved.  This is the life. I don’t see how Roger could even think about turning his back on God. I need to talk with him and at least let him know that I don’t hold anything against him for what took place.”

“Yes, you should do that,” Simone said. He could sure use the encouragement right now. From what Aubrey has shared with us, he’s going through bouts of depression. Being confined to a wheelchair seems to have made him almost give up on living.”

“I’ll be sure to stop by as often as I can to encourage him,” Kelvin said. “I’m thinking of asking Pastor Ashton for something to do in the church. I’m also thinking of going to Bible school for some training—not to be a pastor or anything like that; but I would like to be able to tell people about Jesus.”

“I’d love that,” Simone said giving him a kiss. “I think they call it a missionary or an evangelist. We’ve had a few of those to come to Mt. Salem and preach. I am so glad you got saved.”

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Things were falling into place for Quintin and Aubrey’s wedding. Staying true to their word, Aubrey’s friends would not allow her to lift a finger toward its preparation. Staying true to his word, Quintin took Aubrey and her mother on a short trip to meet his parents and grandparents.

Grandfather Quintin proved to be a true grandfather. “This is one wedding I will not miss,” he told Aubrey and Mother Jamison. “I was wondering what was taking my grandson so long to get married. Now that I have met you, Aubrey, I am glad he waited.”

His wife, Clara, welcomed them warmly and they immediately felt at home.

Quintin’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Qadir Rodney, were beyond themselves as they greeted Aubrey and her mother. Their home was beautifully designed with Middle Eastern decor. “Your home is so beautiful,” Aubrey complimented Quintin’s mother, Quiera.

“Would you like a Middle Eastern-style wedding? We can arrange that for you,” Quiera laughed. “When I got married to my husband many years ago, I wanted a traditional black wedding including some soul food and the jumping of the broom. It didn’t quite work out that way, but with the blending of the cultures, it was a beautiful affair.”

“Now that you mention it,” Aubrey said as she looked through Quintin’s parents’ wedding album, “it would be lovely to combine both cultures.”

. . . . . . . . . . . .

“That would be nice,” Simone said to Aubrey after Aubrey called her two days later and told her about Quiera’s suggestion. “Whatever you want, please let us know. It sounds like you are having a great time.”

“I sure am,” Aubrey said. “But I can’t wait to see you all again.”

Aubrey met Quintin’s two sisters, Quantashae, whose wedding Quintin had attended the week Aubrey decorated his office; and Quanna, his younger sister who was three years younger than Aubrey. They hit it off right away.

Quintin’s younger brother, Quincey, had the same mannerisms as Quintin. He was very sharp and, like Quintin, was a lawyer.  “I could not have asked for a more lovely sister-in-law and mother-in-law,” he said to Aubrey and Mother Jamison.

While visiting with his family, Aubrey and Quintin took a walk alone near the lake behind his parent’s house. While there, Aubrey asked Quintin a question that had been plaguing her.

“Quintin, I do not know how to ask you this, but it’s something that I’ve thought of often,” Aubrey said.

“I want you to feel comfortable asking me anything that is on your mind,” Quintin said.

Aubrey took a deep breath. “Well, you know I have been married before, which means I have been involved with someone sexually speaking…and I wanted to know how you really felt about that—you know—that fact that I have been with another man before. I guess I just don’t want it to be a problem after the wedding.”

Quintin nodded as he listened, and then took a deep breath before speaking. “I appreciate you bringing this up, Aubrey. Considering that you were married to the only man you were involved with sexually, and considering that you did not have sex before your first marriage, then I have no problems taking you as my wife. Especially since your first marriage did not end through any fault of your own. Believe me, I have thought about all of that. Don’t worry, I feel very comfortable marrying you.” Quintin then added, “You have not been involved with anyone since his death, have you?”

“Oh, no,” Aubrey said with a smile.

“There seems to be something else on your mind,” Quintin said taking her hand in his.

Aubrey smiled. “Well, I was wondering, have you been involved with anyone before?”

Quintin smiled his confident smile. “No. Believe it or not, I am still a virgin. I know that’s weird to hear from a man my age in this day and time, but I have never been involved with a woman sexually speaking.”

Aubrey nearly gasped with surprise.

“Now, that does not mean I am effeminate,” Quintin quickly continued. “I am all man.”

Chapter 40

When Aubrey and Mother Jamison returned home, Aubrey’s friends had everything under control.

“Have you both decided where you will be going for your honeymoon?” Simone asked Aubrey.

“Well, I suggested Jamaica, but Quintin said he wants to surprise me,” Aubrey said. “And, girls, you are not going to believe what he told me.”

“What?” said Simone.

”He has never had sex before,” Aubrey announced.

“What?” her friends said. “Are you sure about that?”

“Yes. I asked him and he told me without hesitation,” Aubrey said. “And he assured me that he was all man.”

“Ooo, girl. That is unheard of for a man his age and as good looking as he is. You are going to have a lot of fun,” Simone said laughing.

“Girl, you have been blessed more than a double,” Kelli said.

“You sure have,” Jennifer agreed. “Your cup surely is running over.”

. . . . . . . . . . . .

The final two months leading up to the wedding were very busy ones for Mother Jamison and the ladies of the church. They were further surprised when three weeks before the set date,  Quintin’s family came down to help in the preparations for the wedding. “We will give it a Middle Eastern flavor,” the ladies said. Everyone was eagerly anticipating a glorious ceremony and prayers were offered up for good weather as the mothers took Aubrey and her friends shopping for the ideal wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses. Aubrey tried on so many dresses she lost count. Jennifer tried on a couple dresses as she dreamed of what her wedding would be like.

“They’re all so beautiful; it’s so hard to choose,” Aubrey said. She finally settled on one by Maggie Sottero with a three yard train.

A week before the wedding, Aubrey had her bridal shower at the church in place of their regular Restoration Reset meeting. She wanted to share this time of rejoicing with the ladies of the Restoration Reset Ministry whom she had come to love. The ladies had a wonderful time as they shared with each other serious and comical experiences they had gone through as they fulfilled their own roles as wives and mothers. This helped relieve some of the nervousness Aubrey was beginning to experience as the wedding day drew near.

She and Quintin hardly saw each other the week of the wedding, but they spent as much time as they could on the phone. On the Wednesday before the wedding, which was scheduled for Saturday, Aubrey crashed into her bed exhausted. Even though she had taken the week off from her job to get rested up for the big day, she was busier than ever.

“This is your last day helping,” Mother Jamison told her. “If you keep working, you’ll be drained on your wedding day.”

Aubrey did not get much sleep on the night before the wedding. “I am so nervous,” she told her mother who shooed her out of the kitchen and back to her room.

“You stay in the bed until it’s time for you to get dressed,” Mother Jamison told her. “Jennifer, Simone, and Kelli will be over to help you.”

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Aubrey and her crew left for the church at twelve noon in the limousine they had rented for that occasion. It was a beautiful day, and the sun was shining brightly.

Guests were still streaming into the auditorium when the limousine pulled up at the side entrance. Flowers lined the walkway that led to the main entrance.  When Aubrey and her bridesmaids stepped into the foyer, her Uncle Phil, her father’s youngest brother, was  waiting; he would escort her down the aisle. “You look lovely,” he told Aubrey. “I wish your father was here to witness this day.”

A hush fell over the auditorium as Pastor Ashton announced the arrival of the bride. The pianist began to play the traditional “Here Comes the Bride” song as the front doors to the auditorium swung open. Jennifer, Simone, and Kelli walked down the aisle to take their positions at the front to await the bride. They all wore huge smiles. With one hand on her uncle’s arm, Aubrey glided down the aisle, her train gracefully flowing behind her. They stopped a few steps behind Quintin and his best men.

The church was beautifully decorated with Aubrey’s favorite color—aquamarine. Aubrey could not find the words to describe how beautiful everything looked even if she tried. Her focus was on her husband-to-be waiting for her at the front.

“Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” Pastor Ashton asked.

“We do,” Mother Jamison and her brother-in-law both answered.

“If there is anyone here who sees any reason why these two, Quintin Rodney and Aubrey Jamison, should not be joined in holy matrimony speak now or forever hold your peace,” Pastor Ashton continued.

“You may turn the bride over to the groom,” Pastor Ashton said to Uncle Phil.

Wow! thought Quintin as he faced Aubrey. He took a long look at his bride as Pastor Ashton continued with the ceremony.

“Do you, Quintin Rodney, take this young woman, Aubrey Jamison,  to be your lawful wedded wife, to love, to honour, to uphold, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, for better or for worse, and to remain faithful to her until death do you part?”

“I do,” Quintin answered.

“Do you, Aubrey Jamison, take this man, Quintin Rodney, to be your lawful wedded husband, to obey, to love, to honour, to uphold, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, for better or for worse, and to remain faithful to him until death do you part?”

“I do,” Aubrey answered.

“The rings, please, “ Pastor Ashton said.

Pastor Ashton prayed over the couple after Quintin’s brother handed the bride’s ring and Jennifer handed the groom’s ring to him.

“You may now place the rings on each other’s finger,” he said. As the gold bands were slipped onto the bride’s and groom’s fingers, Pastor Ashton said, “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. You may now kiss the bride.”

Whoops and loud cheers went up all over the auditorium. “Ladies and gentlemen, I now present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Quintin Rodney. Receive them with joy, love, and open arms.”

There was much celebration as the wedding party drove over to the Cherry Blossom Cafe for the reception.

As the limousine left the Cherry Blossom Cafe to take them to the hotel where they would spend the night before taking off for their honeymoon, there was a cacophonous clanging behind the limousine. Quintin looked at Aubrey with a puzzled expression. “Don’t look at me,” Aubrey said. “I shared with my friends how that I wanted an old fashioned wedding. I believe they tried to make it that.”

Quintin signaled to the limousine driver to pull over to the side of the road. He climbed out and went to the back of the limousine to see what all the clanging was about. Scribbled on a piece of cardboard were the words “Just Married” loosely attached to the fender. There were six cans hanging by strings from the back fender on to the ground.

“Come see,” he laughed to Aubrey as he helped her out the limousine.

“Your friends gave you your wish. An old fashioned wedding.”

As they settled down in the limousine, Quintin said, “Well, aren’t you curious as to where you’ll be spending your honeymoon?”

Aubrey nodded.

“Say, hi to Dubai,” he said giving Aubrey a kiss. The black limousine drove off into the sunset, with the cans rattling behind them.

– The End –

 


Copyright 2014. Torch Legacy Publications. All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner, except for brief quotations included in a review of the book. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

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