Sample of A Blessed Destiny




Nikki Smith

Copyright © 2017 Nikki Smith

All rights reserved. No part of the work may be reproduced without the expression written permission of the author.


This book is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. All characters, events, and incidents in this book are a product of the author's imagination.




Chapter One

“Hey, Angela. Bishop Tolbert was on fire tonight, wasn’t he girl?”

Twenty-nine year old Angela Morrison flashed her older sister, Vanessa, a smile. “He sure was, honey. Revival was good last year... This one is turning out to be even better. I’m glad I decided to come after all — that toothache I had earlier today was no joke. But I took two Tylenol and they knocked the pain right on out.”

Vanessa frowned. “That was just Satan at work, Angela. That ol’ slinking devil was trying to keep you away from being blessed by hearing that revelation that Bishop dropped on you tonight.”

Angela fell into step beside her sister and they made their way from the sanctuary of Temple of Praise and out to the parking lot. Their cars happened to be side by side tonight. Angela waved goodbye to a fellow parishioner then leaned against the door of her Lexus. She looked her sister in the eye. “You really think Bishop was talking about me when he said God showed him that somebody in the building who’d been praying for a husband was about to find one?”

Vanessa sucked her teeth. “Shoot, honey. He was looking you right in the eye when he said it. And he pointed his finger at you like this...” Vanessa stuck out her index finger in demonstration.

Angela shook her head, then she giggled. “You know he coulda been talking about any of us in there — well, the couple dozen or so of us parishioners that I know are hoping that our Boaz will find us sooner rather than later. Bishop Tolbert had to look at somebody… it’s not like he could just close his eyes while he delivered the Word.”

“Yeah, but I still think he was talking to you, sis. Like I said, he was looking right at you and he pointed right at you.”


“Okay, okay, Vanessa. I heard you loud and clear. But I think I'm gonna leave that right there alone for now. I have a big day tomorrow. I'm going home.”


* * *


The Following Morning:


Angela's eyes flew open as she laid in her comfortable bed. She looked over at the clock on her nightstand. It read four thirty-eight. She frowned. She’d been having the nightmare again — the one in which her high school classmates had taunted and teased her for being obese, then proceeded to push her down a flight of stairs.

She grimaced as she sat up in her king-sized bed. Her sojourn through high school had been over ten years ago, and she was no longer the three hundred and seventy pound girl that she once had been, but she guessed some of the scars of her teenage years still remained.

She sighed as she reclined back onto her comfy mattress. She adjusted her head on her pillow.

She supposed her moving back to Durham had triggered the unsettling recurring dream. She hadn’t had the nightmare during the entire eight years that she’d lived in the Bronx. She’d been back in North Carolina full-time for less than a month, and the nightmare had reared its ugly head once again.

With the dream still on her mind, she placed her hand over her jaw as she felt the tiniest bit of pain in one of her bottom molars. When she’d first starting feeling the pain yesterday, she’d thought it had come from chewing down on her favorite cashew-filled granola bar a little too hard. Now she wasn’t so sure about that.

She frowned. I guess it’s time to find a dentist here in Durham and make an appointment.

She closed her eyes and within minutes, she’d drifted back to sleep.


* * *


Four hours later, Angela quickly made her way out of bed with a frown on her face. Evidently she had hit the snooze button on her alarm clock one time too many. Now she had less than ten minutes to get dressed and get ready for her first accounting client of the day to arrive.

At least with a home-based business, I don’t have a commute to work, she thought to herself.

By the time her meeting with her client had wrapped up two hours later, she realized that the toothache that had started out quite mildly was now a raging monster. The pain reliever she’d taken was no longer alleviating her discomfort.

She grimaced. Her old dentist in Durham had retired around the same time she’d moved from the city eight years ago. Therefore, she would need to find a new service provider.

Just as she was about to search for a dentist online — one who was accepting new patients for emergency services — her doorbell rang. She sighed, then got up to see who was there. After checking the peephole, she pulled the door open. It was her sister, Vanessa.

As soon as she walked into the foyer and noticed the look on her younger sister’s face, Vanessa frowned in concern. “What’s wrong, Angela?”

Angela pointed to her jaw, then mumbled, “Toothache.”

Vanessa grimaced. “Oh no, sis… You take some Tylenol already?”

Angela was a normally mild-mannered person. But because of the pain, her temper was temporarily on the short side. She cut her eyes at Vanessa and nodded her head yes. She instantly regretted that move, because it only made the pain even worse.

Vanessa shook her head in sympathy. “Get your purse. The practice that I go to across town will surely fit you in on short notice. I’m driving you over there, of course.”

Vanessa began walking towards Angela’s kitchen. “First, I’m getting you an icepack for the road. Hopefully it’ll cut the edge a little.”

Twenty minutes later, the front-desk receptionist at Shumate Dental Group gave Angela a sympathetic half-smile/half frown. “I’m so sorry about your pain, baby. I’m sure we can fit you in today and get you all taken care of.”

Angela felt blessed that she only had to wait ten minutes before being ushered back to the examination and procedure rooms of the establishment. Her nurse was quick with taking her blood pressure and body temperature, then getting her settled into an examination chair.

The young woman gave Angela a reassuring smile. “Dr. Shumate will be in to see you in a few minutes.”

Angela nodded her head in acknowledgment. Then she reclined back in the examination chair and tried not to moan in pain. That was a challenge.


* * *


In examination room number four, the one beside the room Angela was waiting in, Dr. Vincent Shumate gave his patient a tiny smile as he wrapped up her visit. “I’m all done, Ms. Murchison. Make sure to give us a call if you have any other problems… Okay?”

The sexy, blonde bombshell thanked the dentist for his services and told him she’d see him next time. After she’d adjusted her mini-dress — that was at least two sizes too small — and sashayed sexily out of the room in her six-inch stilettos, Vincent shook his head. Most people don’t come to their dentist’s office dressed as if they’re about to walk into a nightclub. Homegirl’s dressed to the nines.

Vincent wasn’t a fool — he was pretty much sure she’d only made the appointment because she’d wanted to spend some time in his chair. Why was he so certain? Because there hadn’t been anything wrong with the woman’s teeth. He’d been getting at least four or five such visits every month — every since his younger sister, Malinda, had convinced him to pose for the Durham’s Most Eligible Bachelor’s Calendar a year ago. The calendar had been for a charitable cause, so he’d grudgingly done it.

He frowned. He didn’t consider himself to be arrogant, but women had been coming on to him and hitting on him every since he’d hit puberty. He’d learned a long time ago how to ignore the unwanted attention, while at the same time being respectful and kind. He smiled to himself. His father, Vincent Shumate Sr., had taught him that.

Yes, he was used to dealing with women like Miranda Murchison. Honestly, there would’ve been a time — a couple of years ago or so — when he would’ve gladly taken her up on her blatantly open offer of free sex. But ever since he’d turned thirty, he’d reigned in his wild ways. He’d given up all of that in preference to having a closer walk with Christ. He now tended to shun any actions that took him away from the Father.

Don’t get it wrong — Vincent understood that he was in no way perfect. He was only striving to be. Romans Chapter 12 Verse 2 popped up in his mind: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove that the will of God is that which is good and susceptible and perfect.

“Dr. Shumate, here’s the chart for your next patient. I have her all ready for you. She’s in room three.”

He took the chart that was being handed to him. “Thank you, LaShonda,” he said. Then he skimmed over the information. Angela Morrison… . He smiled. I knew an Angela Morrison a long time ago.

“Did you download her x-rays to the computer yet?” he asked.

“Sure did.”

“Perfect.” He cracked another smile. “I don’t even know why I still ask you silly questions like that. You’re an efficient worker, LaShonda. You always bring your A-game to the job.” With that being said, he made his way to his office. He took a quick look at the x-rays. This’ll be a simple fix, he told himself.


* * *


Angela was relieved when she heard the door to the room opening. The dentist is finally here.

Vincent placed a sympathetic smile on his face and walked towards where his patient was reclined in the examination chair, with her eyes closed.

Angela opened her eyes and looked up into a pair of familiar deep brown ones.

Vincent's grin widened. She was a lot thinner than she'd been when he'd last seen her a decade ago, but he now knew for sure that this Angela Morrison was indeed the one that he’d known.

He’d thought she’d been pretty and cute back then, now she was a stunner. “'s been years. Do you remember me from Howard High?”

Angela would’ve smiled and nodded her head, but her tooth was aching too badly for her to do so. She gave Vincent the thumbs up sign.

Immediately realizing that she was in pain, he frowned. He felt like a complete idiot.

He gave her a look of empathy, then went over to the sink in the room and washed his hands. He quickly snapped on a pair of gloves. “Don't worry. You had a tiny filling that was between one of your back's missing. That's what's causing you the pain. I'll have the tooth refilled in a snap. Then you'll feel much better.”

Angela opened her mouth in response to him requesting her to and allowed him to give her a shot of Novacaine to numb the area. Within minutes, the medicine was kicking in and she felt much better. Just as promised, he and his nurse were done with her procedure within thirty minutesactually only twenty-five, based on the clock on the wall.

After the nurse had left the room, he grinned over at her. “Well, it's good to see you again, Angela. What’s it been? Ten years?”

Angela returned his smile with one of her own. Vincent Shumate was as fine as he'd been in high school...and then some. With his sexy, muscular hard-body and handsome face, he looked like he should’ve been on the cover of GQ Magazine or something.

She nodded her head. “It's been more like graduated two years ahead of me.”

She was surprised that he'd actually remembered her. She looked a whole lot different than she had back then, because of the two hundred plus pounds she'd dropped five years ago. She'd lost the weight right after graduating from college. She hadn't really done it for appearances, she'd done it for her health. To the most part, she'd learned to accept and love herself for who and what she was. She’d learned to love the skin she was in.

At that point, his nurse popped her head back into the room. She gave them both a tiny smile, then trained her line of vision on Vincent. “Dr. Shumate, you have another emergency in examination room five.”

Angela stood from the medical recliner she’d been sitting on. She gave him a grin. “Well, thank you Dr. Shumate….you’ve been a lifesaver.”

His dark brown eyes twinkled when he said, “You’re very welcome. I’m just glad I could make you feel better. That’s part of the reason I went into dentistry, I love making people smile.”

For some reason, she couldn’t help but grin even harder in response to him saying that. “Okay,” she finally stammered. “Once again, thanks.”


* * *


Ten minutes later, as she and Vanessa were zooming down the interstate back to her place, Angela shook her head. She looked at Vanessa like she was crazy. “Uh, of course I’m gonna have a smile on my face right now….I just got all that pain taken away.”

“Yeah, I know that. But you’ve been grinning ever since you walked out of the examination room. Ten minutes is a long time to be wearing a Kool-Aid smile. The only time that happens to me is when I’m with Michael… When he does something really romantic.” Stars came into her eyes. “Like when he sent me a singing telegram at work that time.”

Angela shook her head. She thought her sister was crazy. I’m not crushing on Vincent Shumate...even though he’s definitely mighty fine.

Vanessa paused for only a moment then continued speaking. “Plus, I know you, sis. You have that look in your eye.”

Angela knitted her eyebrows together. “What look, Vanessa?”

Vanessa giggled. “The same one from that summer when you had that big-tail crush on Bobby Monroe. I’m sure you remember that. Don’t even play like you don’t.”

Angela remembered it alright. She’d been sixteen at the time, Bobby had been a year older and had come to stay with his grandma for the summer. His grandmother had been their next-door-neighbor. Angela had been so infatuated with Bobby, that she probably would’ve given him her virginity if he’d paid her the least bit of attention and had asked for it. But he’d only been into skinny chicks. Consequently, he’d shut her down.

“You’re crazy Vanessa Michelle Morrison. Like I said, I’m just happy to be out of pain. Cause that pain’s gone, I’m ready to put my Holy Ghost dance shoes on and do a little happy dance of praise.” Angela could tell that as far as Vincent was concerned, her sister didn’t believe a word of what she was saying.

Vanessa suddenly giggled. “Alright, then, Missy. I remember that Janine Summers had a big ol’ crush on Vincent back in high school, too. She must not realize that he has a practice here in town. After church this Sunday, I’mma tell her about him. She’s still single. He’s single, too. Maybe this’ll be her big chance…”

Angela didn’t know Vincent like that, so who he dated shouldn’t have even mattered to her. But she suddenly frowned from imagining him dating Janine. She didn’t have anything personally against Janine, in fact she liked the girl — so that surprised her.

Angela forced the frown from her face. She quickly turned it into a smile. Then she shook her head and giggled. “You’re a mess, Vanessa. Janine can have him. If there was going to be anything between me and Vincent Shumate, it would’ve happened years ago. Like I said, I’m just glad that my pain’s gone.”

Vanessa ignored the ‘glad the pain’s gone’ part of her sister’s statement. She fired back with, “I don’t know about that, Angie. He was two years ahead of you… Y’all didn’t have any classes together or anything, and you guys weren’t in any of the same clubs. That meant that your paths wouldn’t have crossed often enough to allow a relationship to jump off...”

Angela grimaced. “And me being almost four hundred pounds wouldn’t have helped.” She shook her head again. “I can’t imagine a popular guy like Vincent Shumate giving me a second look — even though he never did pick on me like most of the other guys at Howard High.” She brought her eyebrows together, deep in thought. “He actually nice to me and stood up for me a couple of times…”

“There you go...he liked you. He wouldn’t have had your back like that if he hadn’t… Know what I mean?”

“Actually, I don’t.”

Vanessa figured that it was probably time for her to leave the discussion alone. However, she couldn’t stop herself from adding, “You know you were cute back then, too, don’t you? Even carrying your extra weight.”

Angela felt blessed to have Vanessa as a sister. Vanessa was older than Angela by only a little over a year, but she’d always embraced her role of the big sister. And she’d always been supportive and in Angela’s corner.

Angela suddenly smiled. “Alright, Sis...I could always count on you to be my morale booster and I thank God for you.”

Vanessa grinned, too. “Good, I’m glad we settled that.” She winked her eye. “We Morrison women got it going on. I totally think that it’s possible that Vincent Shumate had a crush on you back then. He wasn’t shallow like most of the other boys back in high school. He always seemed like he was an independent he was on a different spiritual plane than the rest of us — a higher level. Know what I mean?”

Angela laughed. “Since you can see all of that, maybe you should be the one trying to hook up with him.”

“Nope. You know I got Michael.” She pulled up into Angela’s driveway. “I would keep this conversation going, but I gotta get to work. Smooches, Angie. I’ll see you this evening at Revival.”

“Yep, I’ll see you there. I’m definitely not gonna miss the last night. Bishop always brings the fire when he winds everything up.”

As Angela made her way into her home, she grimaced. Her mind was flashing back over everything that she and Vanessa had discussed on their way over to her place. I know there are plenty of men out there who’d be checking for a woman like myself, but a brotha like Dr. Vincent Shumate is not one of them. Her frown deepened. I imagine him with a perfect-looking supermodel type. He’s definitely out my league.


* * *


Across Town at Dr. Shumate’s Office:


“We’re heading over to Starbucks for lunch, you wanna tag along, Vincent?”

Vincent flashed his middle-aged front desk assistant — who was actually his auntie — a smile. “No, I think I’ll just sit in for the lunch hour today, Aunt Fredricka. I have some files to look over and some prescriptions to write.”

“Well, okay. But I’m bringing you back a small Mocha Latte and some fruit. Alright?”

Vincent grinned. He knew it was no point in telling his auntie not to bring his favorite coffee drink and a snack because she was going to do it anyway. Growing up, his Aunt Fredricka had been so involved in his life that it had really felt like she was his second mom. He knew that her strong mothering instinct — at least where he was concerned — would have her bringing him back the midday treats.

He nodded his head in acknowledgment of her statement. “Okay, Aunt Fredricka. I’ll take an apple this time.”

“Alright, Vincent.”

After his aunt had left his office, Dr. Shumate got to work on electronically ordering prescriptions for some of his patients. He’d only been at that task a few minutes when his thoughts landed back on Angela Morrison.

“Her spirit’s just as beautiful as it was back in high school.” He smiled. “And she’s cute, too.”

You like her, man. Go ahead and admit it, his subconscious told him.

He chuckled in response to that thought. Then he began thinking about the brief conversation they’d had after he’d finished filling her tooth.

“She said that she’s going to Revival tonight over at Temple of Praise,” he whispered under his breath. “She invited me to join them in worship.”

He tapped a long finger against his cheek a few times. “I go to church most Sundays, but I haven’t been to a revival in years...since I was a boy really. I think I’d like to head on over to Temple of Praise and see how the Lord is moving folks over there.”

Of course he was thinking to himself that he wouldn’t be disappointed if he ran into Angela while he was in attendance.


* * *


Five hours later, Vincent was at home getting ready for attending the Revival. He’d just stepped out of the shower when his pager began going off. He had another dentist who worked with him in his practice, Dr. Jonathan Brown. Dr. Brown was on call for the evening for any patient who was having an emergency. The dentist’s wife was also expecting their second child any day now. Vincent’s first thought was that Dr. Brown’s wife had gone into labor and now he was being tasked to cover the emergency position himself for the evening and night.

When he dialed the switchboard’s number, sure enough, the attendant confirmed his suspicions. He disconnected his phone call and sighed. There would be no revival for him. He wouldn’t be going anywhere tonight unless it involved tending to a patient.



Chapter Two 

The last day of the revival was everything that Angela had thought it would be, meaning absolutely wonderful and Spirit-filled. When the revival service came to a close, Angela’s youngest sister, Marie, came up to her in church and gave her a hug. Then she leaned close to Angela's ear and whispered, “Vanessa told me about the word Bishop Tolbert spoke over you last night. As you know, I wasn't here — I was stuck pulling a twelve-hour shift over at the urgent care center. But I talked to Bishop before revival started tonight. I asked him whether or not he'd been talking about you specifically — you know, when he’d said God had shown him that somebody in the building, who'd been praying for a spouse, was about to find that special someone.”

Lord have mercy, Angela thought to herself. Now I really am embarrassed. Now my pastor’s gonna be thinking that I'm desperate.

Angela shook her head. “Honey, I wish you would've asked me about it before you said anything to Bishop Tolbert.”

Marie rolled her eyes, then smiled. “Why? So you could tell me not to ask him?”

Angela nodded her head. “Um, yeah. That would’ve been exactly the idea.”

“Well, I'm glad I didn't say anything to you then.” Her grin widened. “He said yes. Told me that he'd been making some last minute adjustments to the sermon that he'd been planning on delivering tonight, and an image of you walking down the aisle in a beautiful white wedding gown popped up in his head… He said it was as plain as day.”

Angela was not going to lie to herself. She was indeed excited by the possibility that she was going to actually be blessed with a significant other, blessed with her soulmate. She grinned — all of three seconds — then her smile turned into a frown. “You know I believe in prophecy and all of the other spiritual gifts of the Bible… And it's good to know that I'm gonna eventually hook up with my Mr. Right. But who's to say that's not gonna be ten or twenty years from now?”

“Yeah. I guess you’re right about that. But at least you know your man’s coming. Am I right or am I right?”

Angela didn’t have any choice but to agree with her baby sister. Marie is definitely right. I should take comfort in the fact that the soulmate of my dreams is on his way. There’s nothing I can do about it in the meantime anyway...all good things come about in God’s time.


* * *


The Following Morning:


Sierra woke up at 6AM feeling refreshed and renewed. Since she’d had to take the previous day off on the emergency tip due to her spur of the moment visit to the dentist, she was working today — even though it was a Saturday and she normally never worked on the weekend.

When the afternoon finally rolled around, and she’d finished up with her last client of the day, she closed the door to her home-based office with a smile. “Finally some ‘me’ time,” she whispered under her breath.

With the bottle of fruit infused water that she'd been nursing all day in hand, she made her way to her comfortable living room sofa and took a seat. Her mind couldn't help but fall back onto thinking about Vincent. Truth be told, she'd had a crush on him back in high school — how could she not have? Outside of her three sisters, he'd been one of her only defenders against the bullies back then.

She took a swig from her water bottle, then placed it on the coffee table. Next, she closed her eyes and despite herself, began daydreaming about what it would be like if they were indeed a couple. After only a minute or so of doing that, she shook her head and grimaced. “Now I’m pathetic,” she whispered under her breath. “Get a life, Angela, honey.”

With that being said, she stood up from the sofa and walked into her kitchen. She pulled open the door of her stainless steel refrigerator. As soon as she’d set the fixings for a sandwich on the island that was located in the center of the room, her cell phone began buzzing.

“Hey, Angela. It's me. I hope you haven't eaten lunch yet. My coupon for Freddy's for the ‘buy one meal get one meal free’ deal expires today. We were supposed to be going together… Remember? And I have a ‘buy one get one free’ coupon for a dessert there, too.”

Angela looked at the sandwich fixings on her kitchen island and shook her head. Guess there's not gonna be a turkey and Swiss in my immediate future. But that's okay with me because I love the food at Freddy’s.

Angela suddenly smiled and said into her phone, “Nope, Vanessa. I haven't eaten yet. Are you picking me up or should I meet you there?”

“Be ready in five minutes.” Angela's sister laughed. “I was already on my way.”

Forty-five minutes later, Angela had almost finished with her burger and fries and was ready to order her milkshake. “I think I’m getting the Mississippi mud pie flavor...which one are you gonna try, honey?”

Vanessa didn't respond to her sister's question. Instead, she grinned and said, “Don't look now, but Mr. McHottie Dentist just walked in.”

Angela couldn't stop her eyes from growing big in excitement and disbelief, but she quickly shut that down by forcing a somewhat normal look on her face — or at least she hoped it was normal.

“He's over at 2 o'clock,” Vanessa whispered.

All of the secretive whispering seemed ridiculous to Angela — Vincent wasn’t even close enough to hear them speaking. She gave her sister a look with her eyes that silently begged her to just act normal. Then she turned her head slightly to the side and caught a glimpse of Vincent just as he wrapped his arms around a stunningly beautiful sista and placed a kiss on her cheek.

See there, Vanessa. Told you he wasn’t interested in my butt. He already has a woman and she looks exactly like I knew she would — gorgeous and perfect. That’s what Angela had thought in her head. Out loud she said, “Take a look. I told you that he wasn’t interested in me and that he was probably taken.”

Angela was glad that the restaurant was designed in an L-shape. Dr. Shumate and his date disappeared around the corner where Angela assumed they were going to find seats. She turned to her sister. “Now that we’ve cleared that up, I’m ready for my milkshake. Since you volunteered to pay, I’ll hold our seats while you take care of that. Mississippi mudpie… Remember?”

“Yeah. I got you, sis.” She winked her eyes. “And there are more fish out in the sea besides Vincent Shumate.” She smiled. “Now let me go get our dessert.”


* * *


When she arrived home an hour later, Angela's stomach was full — not in an uncomfortable way, but in a pleasant one.

She made her way into her kitchen and grabbed herself a bottle of water, then she went outside and sat on her back patio. It was late summer, so the day was pretty hot. However, the canopy of trees and patio umbrella provided her plenty of shade. Consequently, it was pretty pleasant outside where she was sitting.

She knew that autumn would be there in Durham within a couple of months and she was actually excited about the season coming. Fall down south would be refreshingly cool, instead of cold — like she'd had to get used to when she'd lived in the Bronx for five years. She was looking forward to the cool nights and crisp days.

When her cell phone began ringing, she still had images of how she knew the upcoming fall would be in her mind. She grimaced at the unfamiliar number on her caller ID, but decided to answer the phone anyway. “Hello,” she said into the device.

“Good afternoon,” a deep, masculine voice said over the connection. “This is Dr. Vincent Shumate, I’m trying to reach Angela… Angela Morrison.”

“Dr. Shumate,” Angela smiled into her phone, “I knew your voice sounded familiar.” Then the tiniest inkling of worry ran across her brain. “Was there something wrong with my visit yesterday? Is that why you’re calling me?”

Even though he knew she couldn’t see him through the phone connection, he shook his head. “No, no. Everything’s fine. I was just calling to see if you were going to Howard High’s Alumni Dinner… It’s next Saturday night, you know?”

Angela took a deep breath in relief that nothing had gone wrong with her visit — all types of weird unlikely scenarios had run through her mind causing her to worry. Now that she knew everything was okay, she focused on the fact that Vincent Shumate was calling her. She thought it was a little odd that he was ringing her number and asking her about whether or not she was going to the charity event. Maybe he’s on the board that spearheaded the dance or something. That’s probably why he’s calling me. He probably wants me to buy a ticket.

She moved the phone to her other ear then said, “Um, I actually did hear about it, but I hadn’t planned on going.”

“Do you think you’d change your mind if I asked you to accompany me there?”

Whoa, that was out of the blue, she thought to herself.

He continued speaking. “I bought six tickets months ago, but I hadn’t really intended on going. My little sister, Malinda, is spearheading the event. So, she pretty much twisted my arm into buying them,” he said with a chuckle. “I’ve managed to give the other four tickets away. I know you said in the office on Monday that you’d just moved back to town, but hadn’t really had the opportunity to meet up with any old friends, yet. I thought that maybe going to the Alumni Dinner would be a real good opportunity for you to do that… You know, a chance to get to maybe see some of your pals from our high school days?”

High school had probably been just peachy for Vincent. But for Angela, it had been a hell of sorts — with the teasing over her weight and all. She didn’t too much look forward to seeing her previous classmates. A couple of people she wouldn’t mind seeing, but that was just about it.

His voice came back over the phone line. “There's gonna be dancing, too. And nobody knows this yet — I only know because my sister is handling the arrangements — but we’re supposed to have a special guest showing up...well actually two of them. They’re both very popular, nationally-known musical performers according to Malinda.”

Angela actually loved dancing, and she hadn’t been out in a while. The more he talked, the more she felt her reservations slowly dissolving.

“If you’re dating someone — or in a relationship — I could just give the tickets to you, if you’d prefer.”

“Oh, I’m not seeing anyone,” she said into the phone, a little too quickly.

Vincent grinned to himself. He was glad there wasn’t any competition on the horizon. He’d been thinking about Angela all week long — from the moment she’d walked out of his office. He’d liked her a whole lot back in high school. He’d even wanted to ask her out. But they’d run in different circles. Plus, at the time, he’d been focusing on his grades — not thinking about dating like many of his peers had been doing.

Now he was older and had more free time on his hands. Yes, he had a busy dental practice, but with his dental partner, it didn’t consume all of his days. He had the ability to make time available for taking a special woman out on the town if he wanted to — he just hadn’t really done that a lot lately.

He felt blessed that Angela had decided to move back to Durham, and that she had walked into his practice. He was excited by the prospect that he now maybe had the opportunity to get to know her better. He knew that he was attracted to her. He really wanted to see what that attraction was all about. He refused to let his second chance at exploring the possibility of a relationship with the voluptuous beauty pass him by.

Angela wanted to say yes to his invite, but then she got to thinking about the beautiful sista she’d seen him with at Freddy’s. She frowned. “Um, I think I’m gonna have to say no. But thanks for thinking about me. You have yourself a blessed day, Vincent. Goodbye.”

He grimaced as the phone connection went dead. He hadn’t really been expecting her to turn him down. “What happened here, Lord?” he questioned out loud.

He laid his head back into the cushions of his sofa and began thinking over everything. His instincts were telling him that there was something really special about Angela Morrison. She’d been on his mind off and on for two days now and he couldn’t stop thinking about her. He’d be going about his day and wham, he’d have Angela on his brain.

He let out a breath in a deep sigh. Then he decided to do what he now normally did whenever he ran into a situation that he didn’t understand. He began to pray.

Five minutes later, Vincent felt good about everything. As he’d been praying, God had given him a message. That message had been: Don’t give up, the best things in life are worth being patient for...worth fighting for.

As he stood up from his sofa, a thought came into his head: You know what church she goes to. She invited you there for the last day of Revival yesterday. Revival is over with, but wouldn’t it be nice to head on over to Sunday service at Temple of Praise and see what they’re all about?

He grinned to himself. He knew where he would be going for church services tomorrow. “Temple of Praise, here I come.”


* * *


Over at Angela’s House:


Still sitting on her patio, Angela still had the phone call from Vincent from ten minutes ago on her mind. “I can’t believe the audacity of the man,” she whispered under her breath. “He obviously has a girlfriend, yet he called me and invited me to the charity alumni event. That’s crazy. I thought he was better than that.”

Maybe he felt sorry for you, her subconscious brain suddenly reasoned. After all, he remembers how things used to be for you in high school. How you used to get picked on and how you barely had any friends. He’s a nice guy — you know that he is — obviously he just thought that he was doing you a favor.

Angela let out a breath in a sigh. What she’d been thinking made perfect sense to her and she suddenly started to feel a little bad about everything. Outside of her three sisters, she had a good handful of friends in her circle nowadays, and her confidence level was a whole lot higher than what it had been back in high school. So all in all, she figured that socially, she was doing just fine now.

She shook her head. “Um, that’s alright, Vincent Shumate. Thanks, but no thanks. I definitely don’t wanna be anybody’s charity case.”

When her phone started ringing again, she thought that maybe it was Vincent calling her back. One look at her caller ID showed that it was her sister, Vanessa.

“Hey, honey,” Vanessa said into her phone as soon as her sister had said hello. “Just wanted to let you know that you left your makeup bag in my car. I just got home and it was under the passenger-side seat.” She giggled. “Want me to run it over there for you. I’m sure you wanna look cute for church tomorrow. Your lips are gonna be looking all ashy and thirsty without your signature Black Up brand gloss.”

“Uh, thanks, Nessa. I have some extra gloss here at the house. I’ll just get my bag from you tomorrow.”

“Okay, honey.” Vanessa paused for a moment then asked, “What’s wrong, Angie? And don’t say nothing. I can tell.”

Angela debated on whether or not she should spill the tea about Vincent’s invitation — she debated all of three seconds.

Vanessa heard her sister out then said, “His invitation sounds pretty innocent...rather nice if you ask me… And you did. Going to the alumni dinner seems kinda fun. If he’d invited me, I would've said yes. In fact, I got half the mind to ask you to call him back and beg for the ticket for me. But you know I have to work next Saturday. My boss has been complaining already about us using Saturdays for sick days. Some people just enjoy abusing a good thing — but not me of course. Know what I mean?”

Vanessa didn't wait for her sister to respond, she continued speaking. “But hey, that's just what I would've done. I'm sure you did what you figured was best for you.” Vanessa turned her lips up in a smile. “So don't worry about it, honey. I’m sure we’ll be having another alumni event. Maybe me, you, Marie and a group of us can actually plan on going together next time.”

Angela nodded her head in agreement. “Yeah. That sounds like a good idea, sis. See you in church tomorrow. Okay?”

“Okay, Angela.”

When Angela disconnected her call with her sister, she felt better about everything. She’d been slightly offended about Vincent asking her out since she was pretty much sure that he had a girlfriend. Now she realized that the invitation had more or less probably been innocent.

She grinned. “He’s one of the good guys after all.”