Jade Sanders has worked most of her adult life to correct the mistakes she made earlier in her life. She has held back details about herself, making her past a mystery to her friends and the man she loves. But a ghost from her former life shows up and she is pressured to reveal the one thing that threatens to turn her world upside down. Will the truth make her free?
Darrell’s mother, Sonja Parker, met her at the door. “Jade, don’t take him home right now, okay? Darrell just took him outside to play for a while.”
“Well, I guess I could come back later… or maybe Darrell can drop him off.”
“You don’t have to leave. Stay here and visit with me for a bit. Would you like some iced tea?”
“No, thanks, Mrs. Parker.” Jade was watching Darrell, who was now swinging Desmond around as the boy giggled uncontrollably.
Jade liked watching them together. Though Darrell had missed the first eighteen months of Dee’s life, he had definitely made up for the lost time.
Jade had originally had no intention of telling Darrell about Desmond until the baby was much older. However, a mutual friend from college had seen Jade and Desmond together. The child’s resemblance to his father made the relationship between the two unquestionable. The friend immediately contacted Darrell, who hired a private investigator to find them.
Jade took a sharp intake of breath when she saw Darrell toss Desmond in the air. The boy laughed aloud, asking his father to do it again. Desmond loved his father, there was no doubt about that; and Darrell’s parents had spoiled the child rotten – as many grandparents do.
Jade stood there, her mind centered on Darrell. If things were different, she would have married him a year before Desmond was born. The boy’s father was intelligent, kind, and drop-dead gorgeous. Why am I standing here gazing at this man like he was a large double scoop of chocolate ice cream on a hot summer day? Why indeed? It’s January. She dropped her head and shut her eyes tightly. I shouldn’t even be here. Get away from the door and stop staring at the man, silly woman.
Still standing at the patio door, Jade began praying. Lord have mercy, and please lead me not into temptation. I’m truly trying to be holy. A Scripture passage came to her mind: Present your body as a living sacrifice, holy… holy… holy. At that very moment Darrell waved, smiled and winked at her, and her heart skipped two beats as she waved back at him. Oh, it is definitely time to leave.
She turned to walk away and her eyes met his mother’s. Jade knew from the smile on Mrs. Parker’s face that she had been watching as Jade ogled her son. She couldn’t look the woman in the eye for very long. Dropping her head, she thanked God Mrs. Parker couldn’t read her thoughts.
“They’re really enjoying themselves out there,” Darrell’s mother commented.
“Yes, they most certainly are. But I think it’s much too cold for Dee.” Jade walked over to the counter and leaned on it, glancing toward the patio doors, thinking – and even wishing – things could be different for them.
Darrell held down a full-time job at Waters Engineering firm, and he was working on his doctoral degree in theology. He didn’t have the time to go to the gym like he used to. Nevertheless, Jade knew that hiding under the jacket was a muscular sculpture designed by heredity. Lord help my mind, she thought as she watched Darrell chase their three-year-old son around his parents’ backyard. Bodybuilders worked hours to achieve the result that God gave him naturally. And, he’s saved. So, who in their right mind wouldn’t want to be with this man?
“Did you hear me, Jade?”
“Excuse me.” Jade turned. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Parker, what did you say?”
“Come here, sweetie,” Mrs. Parker pointed to the chair across from hers at the table in her large eat-in kitchen. “Let me talk to you for a minute.”
Jade moved suspiciously to the table and sat down slowly.
“I understand that you don’t want to attend Darrell’s trial sermon. Is there any reason why?”
“I just rather not be there, that’s all.”
“But you must have a reason why you feel you shouldn’t,” Sonja prodded.
“I guess it’s for the same reason I moved my membership to Greater Mt. Carmel.”
“That’s another thing. I never understood why you left the church you’ve been a member of since you were a child.”
Once again Jade wished she had been a different person or born to a different family. Maybe then she and Darrell wouldn’t be in the predicament in which they found themselves. She was doing all she could to straighten out her life. She had recommitted her life to the Lord, and had remained celibate since before Desmond was born. But God knows it hadn’t been easy.
“Well, it’s because everyone at Cathedral of Faith know me, and… well, they know Darrell… and every time they see us together, they speculate about our relationship. I know Darrell doesn’t need that right now. He needs to stay focused, and I don’t want my presence to cause a distraction.”
“I think your not being there will be more of a distraction than you being there.”
“Mrs. Parker, I’ve heard what the people at Cathedral say about me. I know they think that I am to Darrell as Delilah was to Samson.”
The older woman pursed her lips. “That’s all on you, child. That’s goin’ on in your head, not out here in the real world. No one but you is sayin’ that kind of nonsense.” She chuckled.
Jade didn’t see the humor. “Well actually, I’ve heard worse, but I respect you too much to repeat it.”
“Jade, it shouldn’t matter what people think about you. It only should matter what the Lord knows about you.” Mrs. Parker leaned back in her chair as she appraised Jade. “Do you realize that you are not the same person you were when you first came back here to live? Baby, you’re not even the same person you were six months ago, for that matter.” She placed her hand on Jade’s. “I’ve watched you grow spiritually over the months. And I know that only God could make the changes I see in you.” She smiled, and Jade smiled in return. “And I know you love my son as much as he loves you.” It was true, she loved Darrell probably more than he loved her, so how could she protest? “I see the way you look at him and he looks at you.”
“Hush, child, and let me say my piece.”
“I’ve been watchin’ you two. And it’s dangerous for you and him to have what I see in your eyes for each other and not be in a position to do anything about it.”
Oh, Lord, how in the world can she see my very thoughts through my eyes? Jade dropped her head.
“You and Darrell need to marry and give that boy out there a normal life. Holy matrimony is the only thing you all can do. It’s what you need to do.”
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