Sample of A God Sent Kind of Love
Copyright © 2016 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.
Connie Langston frowned at her only daughter. Then she shook her head. “JeMarcus is a really nice young man, Meesha. I wouldn’t even suggest that you go out with him if I didn’t think so. Plus, it’s not like you two will be going out on an actual date.”
Thinking about the string of eligible, young men that her mother had somehow managed to guide her way in the past, Meesha couldn’t help but treat her mom to a look that was full of doubt. “Not an actual date?”
“Nope. Just a favor for your dear old mom.” Connie smiled. “You’ll have fun with him...‘cause like I said...he’s a really nice young man.”
A little voice in her head was telling her to just tell her mother ‘no’ and get the whole situation over with. However, Meesha’s soul wouldn’t allow her to do that. In Meesha’s eyes, God had blessed her to have the best mother in the world — one, who in the end, always had her kids’ best interest at heart.
Instead of immediately shutting her mom down, the overwhelming love Meesha had for the woman who’d gone through fifteen grueling hours of labor to give birth to her made her say, “This JeMarcus person...is he ‘nice’ in the same way that Terry Johnson was a ‘really nice young man’?”
With a ‘come on now’ look on her face, Connie shook her head. “Meesha Denise Langston. There’s no way I could’ve known about Terry’s crooked dealings with those downtown mob-bosses. To the whole world, he grinned and smiled and put forward this image that he was a wholesome, church-going congressman….a real stand-up type of guy.”
Meesha grimaced again. True enough, Terry had seemed like a real asset to the Durham community. Meesha had been more than surprised when federal agents had cuffed him one evening as they’d gone out on their third date.
“Okay, Mom. I give you a break on Terry. But what about Ralph Poole, then Clinton, followed by Jason….and the list goes on and on.”
This time it was the pretty middle-aged woman’s turn to allow a tiny frown to creep across her features. “Sweetheart. You have to be 'in'’ the game if you expect to find someone to spend the rest of your life with.”
Meesha slowly pushed her plate away from herself on the cute little kitchen table. She allowed her eyes to meet her mother’s. “Now, Mom….who says that I’m currently looking for someone — as you say — to spend the rest of my life with?”
Mrs. Langston grimaced. Then she softly patted her daughter’s hand. “I’m your mother, Meesha. I know you. You’re twenty-nine years old and you have everything going for yourself in life right now. A great job, wonderful friends, an extended family who loves you—,” Connie took a tiny sip from her glass of sweet tea then continued speaking, “— you just don’t have a soulmate to share it all with.”
Meesha shook her head. “But what about what Pastor said in his sermon in church last week? That part about being patient and letting the Lord work things out for us...the part about us as believers not trying to force things?”
“Of course Pastor Thomas was right about all of that stuff, Meesha.” She grinned. “But sometimes God wants us to do ‘our’ part in making his plans for us manifest themselves.”
“And by ‘our’ part, you mean setting our loved-ones up on dates?”
Connie Langston cut her eyes at her daughter then grinned again. “Yep. That’s exactly what I mean. And I ain’t ashamed to admit it. Your daddy and I were introduced to each other by your Grandma Flora and we’ve been happily together for almost thirty years.”
At that, Meesha couldn’t help but smile. She absolutely loved the relationship her parents had shared for so very long. She gave her mother a quick hug. “Okay, Mama. Now I absolutely ‘do’ understand where you’re coming from. But things just don’t work like they used to back in you and Daddy’s day.”
Connie’s mother-intuition quickly kicked in. She could always tell when her daughter was starting to soften-up and incline herself over to her way of thinking. “So does that mean I can count on you to be Velma’s nephew’s plus one at the event? To be honest with you, I’m really not trying to mate the two of you off.” She giggled. “I’m just trying to do your godmother a favor. And like I said...it’s not like it’s really a date, you know?”
Meesha grinned, then teasingly said, “So I guess the other times you conveniently introduced me to some young, eligible friend-of-a-friend — all of the male persuasion — you ‘were’ trying to hook me up?”
Connie gave her daughter’s hand another gentle pat. Deciding not to respond to Meesha’s last question, she simply smiled. “Thank you, Meesha. Thank you for agreeing to be JeMarcus’ date-of-sorts at Velma’s dinner party. I always tell everybody that my only daughter is an angel. A beautiful, lovely angel that I wouldn’t trade for another.”
Then Connie paused for the briefest of moments and added, “Now the only thing about all of this is that he won’t know that you’re his date, per se. I’m just making sure I seat the two of you together at the banquet table. JeMarcus didn’t feel like he needed a date for his auntie’s party. But you know the way your godmother is. Once she gets a thing in her mind, she wants to make sure that she plays it out to the ‘t’. She’s having this fancy-smancy party and she wants everything just so. And in her mind, that means nobody should be at her function without an escort.”
Meesha frowned, thinking about her mom’s best friend, Velma Lawton — the woman that had been like a second mother to her — ever since her very first memory. “Mom, you think Mama V having an expensive party like this is a good idea? She hasn’t been working ever since she got sick last year. I know this little shing-ding is gonna cut into a good chunk of her savings.”
Connie let the tiniest sigh escape past her lips. Then she gave her daughter a smile. “You know baby...I was worried about that, too. But your godmother said that somebody special is paying for the entire party on her behalf. She’s not going to have to contribute one red cent.”
Meesha squinched her eyes in confusion. “Somebody special?”
“Yep.” Connie paused for a moment then continued. “Now don’t ask me ‘who’ that somebody special is...she refuses to tell me. Your godmother said the person footing the bill wanted to remain anonymous, and that she’s respecting their wishes for privacy.”
“Well, whoever is paying for this party for Mama V must have some deep pockets. From my understanding — from when Janet Parker had her wedding at the Redleaf Room last year — it costs at least three grand to rent that place. And that’s not including food and drink for the guests.”
“Three thousand dollars?!”
Meesha nodded her head. “Yep.”
A frown marred Connie’s still-beautiful facial features. “Velma ought to just have that party of hers at the church. I told her that when she started talking about renting a venue.”
Meesha tilted her head, thinking about everything her godmother had been through during the previous two years — the health problems that had plagued her. Meesha smiled, being abundantly thankful that God had seen fit to bless Velma Lawton with a donated heart and a successful transplant surgery. Then Meesha said, “Well mom, you know Mama V never did have a fancy wedding like she always dreamed of having — she never met her Mr. Right. I think this sixtieth birthday bash is that fancy shin-ding that she’s been wanting ever since she was a little girl. If the Lord has decided to allow someone to step in and financially make this party happen for her, then I think it’s a blessing. I think it’s a good thing and I’m glad for her.”
At that point, the frown that had been on Connie’s face was replaced by a grin. She gave her daughter an affectionate hug. “Lord Meesha, when did you get so smart?”
Meesha returned her mother’s smile with one of her own. “Well, I’m not commenting on the ‘when’ part, but one thing I know for sure is that I get it from my mama.”
Connie beamed even harder. The relationship between her and her daughter was one of the things that she was the proudest of in her life. Not commenting directly to Meesha’s statement, she simply said, “You’re a mess, baby.”
Meesha, knowing how her mother was feeling inside, despite her not expressing it directly, picked her purse up from the kitchenette table. Then she gave her mother a quick peck on the cheek. “I guess I’d better get going...that is if I want to make it into the office on time.”
Connie made a sucking sound with her teeth. “On time? You’re the boss over there, sweetheart—”
“I’m not the boss, mama. I’m only the floor supervisor.”
“Well, all I know is that you run things over there and you don’t get in on time — you get there at least an hour before you’re scheduled to go in everyday.”
Meesha grinned. “Now Mama, I’m sure you realize that the early bird always gets the worm.”
Mrs. Langston shook her head and grinned again. “And I also know who you get that from — your daddy.”
Meesha knew that her mother was right — Mr. Clyde Langston had managed to instill a positive work ethic into all three of his kids.
She gave her mom another peck on the cheek. “Well, thanks for inviting me over for breakfast this morning, Mom...and I’ll see you later. When Daddy gets back into town tomorrow from the deacon’s convention, make sure you let him know that I’ll bring him over a slice of that cherry upside-down cake that he likes so much. I made a whole cake last night and it’s just gonna sit in the refrigerator for weeks if I don’t portion it out to someone besides myself.”
Connie held back the urge to tell her daughter that she wouldn’t have that problem if she had a husband and a couple of kids to feed. She simply nodded her head. “Okay Meesha, I’ll tell your daddy about that cake. Now go ahead and get to that job of yours.”
“Meesha, you’re not going to believe this!”
Meesha squinched her almond-shaped eyes, wondering what her friend — who was also her best office transcriptionist — was whispering so excitedly about. “What am I not going to believe, Janice?”
Janice stepped into the office and closed the door behind herself. “Girl, the CEO of the company himself is coming through here today.”
Meesha frowned. “I didn’t receive any type of email or memo about an office or department visit.”
Janice shook her head. “I know. From what Ginger Houser downstairs told me, they didn’t send you a notice on purpose. The head honcho wanted to surprise us...you know, see how things run around here when we’re not expecting a visit from the higher-ups and all.”
The frown on Meesha’s face got even deeper. She believed in running a tight ship in the office, so she knew the CEO would be hard-pressed to find anything out of place or remiss. However, she thought the man dropping in unexpectedly was a little bit disrespectful...seeing that the department that she managed was consistently the best performing in the transcription division of Lakefield International.
Janice gave her boss a tiny smile. “Don’t worry, Meesha. You know our department always rocks. This little visit from Mr. Lakefield shouldn’t be any problem at all. But heads up, I think he should be rolling through in about thirty minutes.”
* * *
An Hour Later:
Meesha’s blood was almost boiling in her veins. Clayton Lakefield had just finished walking her floor and casually inspecting each of the fifty-five workstations of the employees who worked under her. Now she couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of the man’s mouth.
“You want me to do what, Mr. Lakefield?”
Clayton Lakefield nodded his blonde head. “Your department is performing really well, as far as work output is concerned. But your floor does have a problem with taking excessive sick days—,” a frown stretched his lips downward, “—and based on my little walk-through this morning, I think I have a good idea as to why.”
At that point, the middle-aged man’s beady blue eyes did a quick sweep over Meesha’s person. Then his steely gaze met hers and he said, “I think over half of your workers would benefit from you finding a way to spearhead an office fitness program here. It will be the first of its kind for Lakefield International, and I believe your employee’s attendance records will improve drastically from its existence.”
Meesha could tell from the way that Clayton Lakefield had just looked at her that he felt as if she could benefit from a company fitness program as well. Despite the careful manner in which he’d phrased his comment, his cautiously stated words were no coverup for the condescending tone of his voice.
Being a perfect size fourteen, Meesha knew she’d never be a size two or four. But she loved her body just the way it was. Despite being labeled plus-size by the designers who created women’s clothing, she believed in being healthy and taking care of herself. She knew that many of her fellow workers — many of whom were women of color — felt the same as her.
In her estimation, what Clayton Lakefield was trying to do wasn’t really necessary. In her eyes, regardless of their liberal use of sick days, her workers had the best performance record in the entire company. Every fiber of her being wanted to tell the CEO as much, but she knew better. She simply gave the man a tight little smile and said, “I think I’ll be able to handle setting up this program for my workers, Mr. Lakefield. “I’ll have it done by the end of next month.”
* * *
Thirty Minutes Later:
“Well, Meesha...what did Mr. CEO want?”
Meesha crinkled up her nose at the smell of the tobacco-based cologne that Clayton Lakefield had been wearing. Even twenty minutes later, the refined, expensive scent still remained in her office.
She shook her head at Janice, who was sitting in a chair across from her desk. “Our boss wants me to set up a fitness program for our department. According to him, we’re using too many of our company-paid sick days. He feels like if we were healthier around here, we’d be more productive.”
Janice tilted her head back in disbelief. “More productive? Are you for real?” She pursed her lips together in a grimace. “Lakefield has four other departments in this building — all of them doing transcribing and closed-captioning work just like us. Our fifty or so workers on this floor are the best performing — out of two hundred and twenty-two employees.”
Meesha nodded her head in agreement. “I know exactly what you mean, Janice.”
“Do you think he really believes the company is going to save money by practically making us be part of a fitness program?”
Remembering Lakefield International’s recent quest to snag contracts with the Fortune 500 fitness equipment company, Exertronics, Meesha suspected that this new fitness program mess had more to do with impressing Exertronics than helping the employees at Lakefield. In fact, implementing the fitness program was going to be more expensive than the sick days her coworkers currently used. She shared as much with Janice.
Janice shook her head. “You know what, bosslady...I think you’re probably right. Lakefield is doing this to get that contract.” Then she cocked her head to the side and smiled. “But you did say that the fitness program would be free...correct?”
Meesha nodded her head. “Yep, that’s what Clayton Lakefield said.”
Practically beaming, Janice responded, “In that case then, I’m all for it. My gym membership at FitnessLand is running me sixty bucks a month. I wouldn’t mind keeping those dollars in my pocket. In fact, since I’m gonna be saving that sixty spot—,” Janice giggled, “—I think some early celebrating is in order. I think you and I should hit the mall this evening and check out that new dress boutique...the one that opened up the other day. They’re having a grand-opening sale. You might even find something fabulous to wear to your godmother’s fancy-smancy dinner party.”
Meesha grinned. She enjoyed dressing well, too. But unlike Janice, first and foremost — and after paying bills — she believed in saving part of her paycheck for a rainy day. In Meesha’s mind, splurging on a shopping spree came second.
Refusing to fault her friend for living her life the way she saw fit, Meesha jokingly said, “You’d use anything as an excuse to go shopping, wouldn’t you, Janice?”
A smile worked it’s way across Janice’s face. Then she smoothed a well-manicured hand down the side of her body. “Well, I couldn’t stay looking cute and trendy if I didn’t...now could I?”
* * *
Later on that Evening:
“Meesha, what do you say about eating first and then checking out the dress boutique?”
Meesha nodded her head as she and Janice walked through the glass-paned, double doors and into Southpoint Mall. “Um...it’s past my dinnertime so that sounds like a plan to me.”
“You wanna do Greek Fiesta or Olive Garden?”
For some reason, Meesha had been having a hankering for a good old-fashioned cheeseburger. She shared as much with Janice.
Janice smiled. “Highway 55, right here in the mall then? Outside of my Uncle Bernard’s diner, you know Highway 55 has the best burgers and fries in Durham.”
Meesha wasn’t so sure about the regional fast food chain having the best burgers in town. But since the restaurant was only a short escalator ride away, it would do. “Okay. That’ll work.”
Five minutes later found them still in line at Highway 55. Janice glanced across the food court, then she looked at Meesha. “You know what, Meesha...I think I’ve changed my mind. I suddenly have a taste for Chinese. The line over there at Pagoda Garden is short. I’m gonna step on over and get me a plate of sesame chicken and veggies, instead.”
“Alright. Since the weather is so nice, do you want to see if we can grab a table outside?”
“That’ll work for me. I’ll probably get my food before you get yours, but I’ll wait for you downstairs before I start eating.”
A few seconds after Janice had left, Meesha felt something bump against the back of her leg. She turned around and looked down to see what the source of the soft tap was.
“Say excuse me, Patrice.”
The little girl with the gap-toothed grin could have been no more than five or six. Obeying her mother’s words, she gave Meesha a guilty smile then said, “Excuse me, ma’am. I’m sorry.”
Meesha couldn’t help but return the little girl’s beam with one of her own — she was so adorable. “Oh, you’re excused sweetheart.”
Noticing that the mother had two older kids with her, Meesha gave both of them a friendly wave.
The woman’s eyes had an apologetic look in them when they met Meesha’s. “I’m sorry that my daughter bumped into you.”
“Oh, it’s okay.” Meesha didn’t have kids of her own yet, but she knew enough about them to realize that as a rambunctious five year old, accidentally bumping into others in line sometimes came with the territory.
Born with an outgoing personality, Meesha fixed her lips to make another comment. However, the young mother’s cell phone began to ring. With a final grin to the three kids, Meesha decided to turn back around in line.
The woman was a couple of minutes into her phone conversation when a frown worked it’s way across Meesha’s face. Meesha hadn’t intended to eavesdrop as the woman talked on her cellphone, but their close proximity in the line had made that impossible.
From the bits and pieces gleaned from the woman’s conversation, it became apparent to Meesha that it was the little girl’s birthday and the single mom had just lost her job. The three kids’ mother couldn’t really afford to take her offspring out to eat that day, but since she’d made a promise months earlier to her child, she intended to follow through with it.
The sad tone in the woman’s voice hit Meesha in her heart. When it finally became her turn at the food service counter, Meesha placed her order. As she handed the service attendant her credit card, she gave the man a tiny smile and whispered, “Is it possible for me to pay for the food for the lady after me in line? Can you bill my card for her receipt, too?”
Meesha felt a strong pull in her spirit to perform this simple act of kindness. It was like God himself was commanding her to do this.
Meesha wasn’t trying to make a scene or anything, and the young woman seemed like the type who was used to working hard and handling her own responsibilities in life. Since she didn’t want to give the mother an opportunity to turn her down, Meesha leaned in and said in a low voice, “I don’t want her to know I’m paying for it until after I leave.”
The man made a quick glance towards the beginning of the line. Then he looked at Meesha, he was wearing a smile on his face. He nodded his head. “Sure.”
It only took a couple of minutes for Meesha’s food order to come up and she could tell that the service attendant was intentionally stalling the line in order to allow her enough time to get out of the general vicinity.
As Meesha took her seat across from Janice at one of the outdoors tables, Janice glanced over at her. Janice was wearing a funny look on her face. “What’s wrong, Meesha?”
Meesha sighed and began opening up her food wrapper. Then she gave Janice a tiny smile. Her act of kindness had been between her and God so she simply said, “Oh nothing’s wrong.”
* * *
A Half Hour Later:
Meesha drew her eyebrows together in a slight frown. “I don’t know, Janice. It seems a little...um...um...over the top.”
“Girl, it’s not over the top.” Janice gently pushed her boss closer to the floor-to-ceiling mirrors that were located at the side of the dressing rooms. Then she said, “It’s fabulous — this dress is the one. No doubt about it.”
The female sales associate at Leslie’s Dress Boutique — who Meesha estimated to be about her own age — nodded her head in agreement. “Listen to your friend, honey. This one has your name written all over it. And we’re having a grand opening sale, so I can ring you up at a twenty-five percent discount.”
Meesha frowned again. The tag on the dress had read four hundred and fifty dollars. Even with the discount, the silky garment was going to cost her over three hundred bucks. It’s not that she didn’t have the money — she had over five-thousand dollars on her platinum credit card — she simply didn’t want to spend that much on a dress that she was probably only going to wear one time.
“I don’t know, Janice.”
Both Meesha and Janice turned their heads to look behind them when a deep, masculine voice said, “Yeah. I think you should definitely listen to your friend. It looks good on you.”
At the moment, the sales associate’s grin grew even wider. The girl turned her full attention onto the muscular brotha who’d just spoken to them. “Oh, Mr. Ridley! I have your aunt’s dress ready to go. I gift wrapped it this morning myself!” Then she gave his arm a light, affectionate squeeze, winked her eye and said, “I’m supposed to charge you for that — you know, the gift-wrapping part — but I added it in for free.”
From the way the sales associate was practically devouring the man with her eyes and drooling all over him, Meesha was sure the girl had the hots for this ‘Mr. Ridley’.
I can’t really blame her, Meesha begrudgingly thought to herself. The man — with his dark brooding eyes, strong chiseled jawline, and impeccably toned physique — was indeed a sight for sore eyes.
Despite his good looks, Meesha couldn’t help but instinctively frown. She didn’t like the way the man had intruded upon her privacy, offering his unbidden opinion on the dress that she was modeling in front of the mirror.
The man grinned, revealing a row of perfect, white teeth. Then he thanked the sales associate for her generosity. His words were directed towards the salesgirl, but the gaze of his eyes was directed towards Meesha.
Meesha refused to meet the man’s eyes with her own. It’s not like the way he was looking at her was offensive or anything — it was a friendly gaze, tinged for some reason with a hint of admiration.
A tiny part of her wanted to return the man’s warm smile. But his tatted-up right arm and the single diamond in his left ear made her really hesitant to do that.
Meesha frowned. She was well aware that the God that she served didn’t want people going around judging others based on their outward appearances. However, from her decade-and-a-half long journey through the dating pool, Meesha had come to equate men dressed like the one only feet away from her with being bad-boys. Or womanizers, or mama boys, or wanna-be thugs, she sadly thought to herself.
Andre could tell that the beautiful woman in the pinkish party dress wasn’t really feeling his comment. Throughout the years, he’d grown to become somewhat of a reserved type of person. Therefore, his first instinct had been not to approach her at all. However, when he’d seen her for the third time that evening, he hadn’t been able to stop himself.
The first time he’d noticed her had been when she and her friend had walked into the mall ahead of him an hour earlier. Both of the women were beautiful, but it was a certain something about the way the shorter one carried herself — something about her spirit or aura, he thought to himself — that had gotten his attention and drawn his eye.
The second time he’d seen her that evening had been as they’d both stood in line at Highway 55. Andre doubted that she had even noticed him — seeing that he was at least three customers behind her. His younger self would have approached her with some smooth pick-up line. But his older, more experienced self had learned the error of his mack-daddy ways.
Andre grimaced inwardly. As a born-again Christian, he wasn’t proud of the number of women he’d bedded down and run through in his thirty-one years on Earth.
He quickly pushed all thoughts of his checkered past to the back of his mind, choosing instead to focus on just how much the beautiful sista in front of him had impressed him back at the food court.
It had touched Andre’s heart when the server at Highway 55 had told him that the pretty lady in the pink dress had not only paid for the mother with three kid’s entire tab, but had also purchased a hundred dollar gift card for the mom to use at a later visit. She’d done all of that without the mother’s knowledge and hadn’t even wanted the woman to know about it until after she’d left the food court.
It was on the tip of his tongue to tell the kind, beautiful stranger once again that the pink dress she was trying on was the one. However, before he could get the words out of his mouth, she’d given him a tight smile then disappeared into the dressing room.
Meesha’s heart was racing at what felt like a thousand beats per minute as she stared at herself in the dressing room mirror. The brotha definitely was not her type, but there was something about him that had still intrigued her.
After a couple of minutes in the surprisingly roomy stall, she knew she was taking the coward’s way out when she asked Janice to look on the racks and bring her the silver dress she’d been considering.
Ten minutes later as she stepped out of the dressing room, Meesha wasn’t at all surprised that the man was gone.
Janice shook her head and wagged her finger, all while making a tsking sound. “You know you were wrong, Meesha...now don’t you?”
Playing innocent, Meesha said, “What are you talking about, Janice?”
Janice gave her friend a ‘girl please’ look. “Honey, you know exactly what I’m talking about...giving that fine hunk of chocolate the slip like that. I wish he’d been all up in my face like he was in yours.”
Meesha frowned. “I did not give him the slip. I was just trying to get this choosing-a-dress business over with.”
Janice had a look of doubt written all over her face when she said, “Mm-hm. Sure you were.” Then she snapped her fingers together and gave Meesha a tiny smile. “I know what the problem was...brotha’ man was a little too ‘urban’ for your liking. You’re into those downtown, suit-wearing professional types.”
To Meesha, the way Janice had worded her statement kinda made her feel like a bougie snob. However, she was sure Janice hadn’t meant any harm by what she’d said.
Then Meesha frowned. Lord, I better stop trying to fool myself. I know Janice is right. But just because I understand the negatives that come from fooling with a man who looks borderline thugged-out, it doesn’t make me a bad person.
“Tell you what Janice—”, Meesha smiled, “—if he comes back up in here, I’ll be sure to call him over and he’ll be all yours.” Then she picked up the pink dress. “In the meantime, I think I’ll go ahead and pay for this.”
Janice giggled. “Well at least you decided to take his advice...that dress is totally all you.”