Sample of A Match Made in Heaven
Copyright © 2017 Taretha Jones
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.
Sitting at the gift table at her two-year old niece’s backyard birthday party, twenty-five year old Asia Gates looked over at her brother, Kevin — who was sitting beside his wife, Dominique — and smiled. Then she turned to her bestie, Nicki, and said, “Look at my brother and Dominique over there looking all lovey-dovey together. I told you they were gonna work out as a couple, boo.” Asia nodded her head, then continued speaking. “I want a relationship just like theirs when I meet my soulmate and finally get married.”
Asia’s conversation was then interrupted by her brother’s good friend, Tyrone Young — who’d just walked over to where the two besties were sitting. “Afternoon, ladies,” Tyrone greeted as his line of vision landed on Asia. “I guess even a kiddie birthday party’s not safe from you, Asia. Even out here, you’re trying to trap a brotha and get him caught up in your tentacles. You're the only one wearing sparkly diamond jewelry and heels to a kiddie event.”
Tyrone Young tended to rub Asia all the wrong ways. Of course she fired a snappy comeback to his little snide remark. No way was she letting him get away with saying something like that.
After Tyrone had walked away from the table, Asia turned around and shook her head at her girl. “That fool stay on my nerves, Nicki. I can’t stand his ashy, rachet behind.”
Nicki hid a tiny smile. Then she said, “He didn’t look ashy to me, Asia. Just the opposite...his skin was glowing...the picture of health.” Then — since Asia was her BFF and her allegiance belonged to her girl — she added, “Either way, you certainly put him in his place, boo. You have one sharp tongue, Asia Marie Gates. I’m glad you and I are friends and not enemies.”
Asia grimaced. “You know me, Nick. I only use it when I have to. And that idiot over there—,” she pointed over to where Tyrone had walked, “—he certainly gives me full use of it.” Her frown deepened. “And you know I hate being like that. My mama always taught me that it’s best to use honey on folks, not vinegar.”
“What you talking about, baby girl?”
Asia turned around and gave her mother — who’d just approached the gift table — a tiny smile. “Hey, mama. Nicki and I were just talking about that fool, Tyrone. That’s all.”
Anita Gates looked over in Tyrone Young’s direction, as well. “Oh,” she said as understanding dawned. “I guess the two of you are still at each other's throats, huh? You and Tyrone.”
“Nope,” Asia replied. “It’s more like he keeps letting stupidity drop from that tongue of his and I have to keep putting him in check.”
“Oh...so that’s what’s been happening?”
“Yep, mama. And like I was just telling Nicki... You taught all your kids how to be nice and respectable toward folk. But you know me. I ain’t about to let nobody walk all over me and say any old thing.” Sitting down, she extended her foot out in front of her. “He tried to talk mess about me wearing my sandals here to Maya’s birthday party. Talking about how I’m here at a two-year-old’s party trying to snag a man in rhinestone-encrusted heels. The heel on these things are only an inch high. He’s trying to make it seem like I have on five-inch stilettos or something.” She shook her head in disgust. “And as for the rhinestones...they make these sandals pop. They’re in style and everybody knows that I like a little bling in my life. It ain’t like I’m trying to run a marathon or something in ‘em.”
Asia’s frown deepened. “I don’t even know why my dear brother chooses to still be friends with him anyway. That idiot almost ruined Kevin and Dominique’s marriage… You know, with the way he kept whispering all of that negativity into Kevin’s ear.”
Neither Nicki nor Asia’s mother felt like mentioning that the same could be said about Asia. Asia always came from a place of love where her family members were concerned, but sometimes her loving efforts didn’t always work out quite right. Asia had unintentionally said some things in the past that could’ve broken the couple up as well. But God had intervened and made everything as right as rain for Kevin and Dominique.
Anita sighed. Then she smiled and patted her daughter on the hand. “Tyrone has a good heart, honey. We just gotta keep him in prayer.”
“You got that right, mama,” Asia grumbled. “God’s the only one who can turn that fool’s thinking around.” Then the look on her beautiful face suddenly cleared up. “But the good news is that I hear he’s taking a job somewhere out on the coast. I think Dominique said it’s a three or four-hour drive away from here.” Her smile brightened. “I don’t think I’ll have to worry too much about seeing Tyrone Young’s face anymore.”
Anita figured that it would be best if they all leave that topic alone. She turned to her daughter and said, “Did you make a decision on whether or not you’re gonna go ahead and start that business like you been talking about you were gonna do? That matchmaking stuff?”
Asia nodded. “Yep. I think I’m gonna go for it, mama.”
* * *
Three Years Later:
Asia finally walked out of the wedding reception for Mr. and Mrs. Jasper Worthington. The two lovebirds were the latest couple that Asia had set up. Asia had realized as a nineteen-year old college freshman that she was good at matchmaking. By the time she’d turned twenty-two, she’d successfully gotten a total of eleven of her friends and family members with the person who would eventually become their spouse.
She placed her sunglasses on the bridge of her nose as she walked out of the fancy wedding venue. She smiled as she got into her well-equipped, brand-new Jeep Grand Cherokee and hit the city streets of Greensboro. “Yep,” she whispered under her breath. “That was another success for The Matchmaker Diva.”
‘The Matchmaker Diva’ had been the moniker that her bestie had bestowed on Asia when she’d first realized that her girl had serious matchmaking skills years ago. Not only had the name stuck, but Asia had proceeded to open her own business by the same title that provided matchmaking services for men and women who were seriously looking for their significant other.
Yes, Asia was good at getting people hooked up like that, but it had taken almost ten years for her skills to work on herself. In fact, up until a year ago, Asia hadn’t thought that she’d ever be successful at finding a love match for herself. That had all changed when Cedric Lewis had contacted her business requesting her help in finding his soulmate.
Asia had set Cedric up a profile with her company and had instantly realized that the two of them had a lot in common. It had only taken nine months from that day for Cedric to finally pop the question.
She glanced down at the diamond engagement ring on her finger. She smiled. That’s all she wrote. Next year I’m gonna be the one walking down that aisle. It’s finally gonna be my turn to get married. She really was grateful for that.
At twenty-eight, Asia felt like thirty was quickly approaching. She’d set a personal goal of being married by the time she hit the big three-o. At the rate that she’d been going, she’d begun to think that her getting married by thirty was never gonna happen.
On top of that, Asia had gotten tired of being lonely. Yes, she had plenty of friends and family around her who gave her loads of love and support whenever she needed it, but her heart had been aching for a Boaz. Cedric popping up in her life had certainly fit the bill. She figured that it had ended her days of feeling destitute and alone.
She took one of her hands off of the wheel and placed it on her belly. “And I’d like to have a baby or two before I get too old,” she whispered under her breath.
Of course she realized that technically, she could have a baby without a spouse — all it would take would be a willing person of the male persuasion. But as a woman of faith, it was against Asia’s spiritual beliefs to have a baby in that way. She wanted to conceive her child in the confines of a committed, married relationship.
She pushed all of those thoughts out of her mind as she took the off ramp from the interstate and pointed her car in the direction of her bestie’s house. A minute later, she was pulling her SUV into her girl Nicki’s driveway. Next she was handing Nicki the slice of wedding cake that she’d promised her.
Nicki grinned as she closed her front door behind her bestie. “Hey, boo… I thought you were gonna be a no-show.” She winked her eye. “Then I woulda been feeling some type of way.”
Asia shook her head. “That sweet tooth of yours is something else, honey. You had me sneaking cake outta that wedding reception.”
Nicki didn’t look guilty at all. She sucked her teeth, then smiled. “You know they were gonna have cake leftover anyways. I saw those pictures that you uploaded before the event. I saw that mountain of frosting and ooey gooey goodness. The newly wedded Mr. and Mrs. Worthington aren’t gonna miss this teeny-tiny piece of cake that you brought me.” She paused for a moment then added, “Besides...you know how much I love wedding cake.”
Asia cracked a grin, then winked her eye. “I’ll make sure you have a big ol’ hunk when me and Cedric get married next year.” She flopped down on the sofa. “Shoot… I’ll even get the baker to fix you your very own personal mini version that you can bring home.” She looked her girl in the eye. “How does that sound to you?”
Nicki frowned, causing Asia to grimace as well.
“Don't say it, Nick,” Asia warned.
Nicki knew exactly what her girl didn’t want her to say. It was no secret at all between the two friends how Nicki felt about Cedric and Asia's relationship.
Nicki shook her head. "I'm your best friend, honey. I can't not go there." She looked her girl in the eye again. "Ever since you and Cedric got together, I've had this feeling within me that something was off about you guys’ relationship. Something's not right, bestie."
Asia sighed. “I’m The Matchmaker Diva...I’m practically a pro at this ‘hooking-people-up’ thing. Remember?”
“I remember alright. In fact, I think you're very good at hooking people up. Unfortunately, honey, I don't think that applies to yourself.”
Asia’s frown deepened.“Okay, okay. So I've heard you saying countless times that you feel like something's wrong with me and Cedric’s relationship. But you’ve never specifically told me what that ‘something’ was.” She threw her hands up in frustration. “Go ahead and spit it out, girl.”
Nicki sighed. "Don't you think that if I knew exactly what that something was I would've told you by now?" She let out a breath in exasperation. "All I know is that it seems like you guys’ chemistry is off. It’s a feeling that I keep having that just won’t go away." She paused for a moment then added, "Tell you the truth, I think you're really marrying him because you want to meet that deadline you set for yourself. You know… The getting married by the time you're thirty thing. Irregardless of all of that, I know you’re also probably just ‘settling’. You’re taking the approach that any proposal from a half-decent brotha will do. And that’s not a good thing.”
Seeing the look on her girl’s face, Nicki finally said, “But I’m gonna go ahead and leave that alone. I know you’re a strong-willed type of sista. I just pray everything turns out alright in the end. You’re my bestie...you know I don’t wanna see you hurt.”
Seven Months Later:
Anita Gates placed the rhinestone and pearl encrusted bridal tiara on her daughter’s curly head, then she pulled back and smiled. She had to dab at the tear that suddenly popped up in the corner of her eye. “You make a very beautiful bride, Asia.”
Asia could barely believe that her wedding day had finally arrived. She grinned at her mother. “Thank you, mama.”
Asia's bestie, Nicki, couldn't help but nod her head in agreement. “You are looking rather fly, boo. That dress looks perfect on you. I’m definitely taking your advice on my bridal gown selection when my special day comes along. And by the way… I’m glad your special day is turning out to be perfect.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Nick. You just don’t know how much that means to me. I know you had some doubts about me and Cedric...”
Nicki smiled. “You’re welcome, honey. All that matters in the end is that you’re happy...and I can certainly tell that you’re that.” She glanced over at Asia’s mom. “Isn’t that right, Ms. Anita?”
Then Nicki opened her hand to reveal an ankle bracelet that had a sapphire dangling from it. Next, she kneeled down on the floor. “Now before I forget and ruin everything… Let me snap this on you. It's the something borrowed...and the something blue. Your girl knocked out two birds for you using only one stone.”
After that last little formality, Asia stepped out of the ready room and hooked her arm with her oldest brother’s. Seeing that their father had lost his life years ago while serving in the US army, Asia’s sibling, Kevin, had taken on the responsibility of escorting her down the aisle that day.
Asia was excited beyond belief as the first sounds of the wedding march finally reached her ears. This is my day, Lord...this is that moment that I’ve been waiting on ever since I was a little girl.
Kevin gave his sister’s hand a loving, supportive little squeeze. He smiled. “Showtime, little sis. You’re about to become a married woman.”
Asia smiled right back, but didn’t say anything. She simply nodded her head, then began walking towards her destiny.
It took about a minute and a half for her brother to escort her down the aisle to the altar and place her hand into her betrothed’s. She had butterflies in her stomach when her pastor finally asked her whether or not she’d take Cedric as her lawfully wedded husband...to have and to hold...in sickness and in health...til death do them part. She gave an impassioned ‘yes’ in response to the question. Then when it was Cedric’s turn to respond in like manner, she was surprised to see a look that she never wanted to see again in her life settle into his eyes. Then she was beyond surprised — she was downright shocked — when she heard him answer ‘no’. She hadn’t needed to witness him bolting on his heel and running away from her to know that things weren’t gonna turn out the way she had dreamed they would on her special day. Lord, this can’t really be happening… I just can’t believe that he just said no.
A Month Later:
Asia pulled her front door open so that her bestie could come into her home. “Hey, Nick. What brings you way over to this side of town this time of the evening?”
“I didn't know whether or not you’d heard the news yet, Asia — judging by the look on your face, I’m gonna guess that you haven’t.” She shook her head and sighed. “Anyway, boo, I need to spill some tea...and not the good kind.”
Asia frowned at her girl. “What news, honey?”
Nicki flopped herself down on Asia's sofa. She grimaced, too, and patted the seat beside her. “Right here… You're gonna need to be sitting down for this.”
Asia shook her head. But she sat down. She glanced over at her girl. “Alright. Here I am, sitting down… Now what's this news that you need to share with me?”
Nicki didn’t beat around the bush, she deepened her frown and came right out with it. “Cedric got married. Last weekend. The ceremony was held over at Calvary Baptist.”
“What? He deserted me at the altar less than thirty days ago and then he turned right around and married somebody else?!”
Nicki took Asia’s hand into hers and comfortingly patted it. “I'm sorry, Asia. That's exactly what that no good fool did.”
Five minutes after Cedric had bolted from the church and left her standing at the altar alone, Asia had called him in anger and disappointment on his cellphone asking him what had happened. He’d mumbled some foolishness about him not being really ready to get married. He’d said something to the effect of him needing a little more time and some distance between them in order to sort things out.
Asia shook her head. “I can’t believe this Nick. I just can’t believe it.”
Nicki gave Asia’s hand a tiny squeeze of empathy. “I know, honey.”
Asia couldn't help but remember the conversation that she and Nicki had had months ago — the one in which Nicki had mentioned that she felt like there was something off with Asia and Cedric's relationship.
With all of that on her mind, Asia let out a breath on a sigh and said, “I guess you were right about there being something wrong with me and Cedric being together.” She shook her head. “I should've just listened to you, Nicki.”
Nicki knew that all of that was true, but she didn't feel like rubbing it in her girl’s face. She was well aware of the fact that Asia already felt bad enough about being jilted in one of the worst possible ways. Her frown deepened. “You wanna drive by his house and egg his front door or something, boo? Slash his tires? Bust out his windows?”
If her spirits had been a little bit higher, Asia would've laughed at the prospect of going to do something so juvenile and ludicrous in retaliation. But on account of the sense of disrespect that she was feeling — and due to the twinge of betrayal in her heart — she couldn't even bring herself to lift her lips in a tiny smile in response to the ridiculous idea.”
Asia simply shook her head. “No. God don’t like ugly. If the Lord feels like Cedric did anything wrong by me, I believe he’ll get with him for it on my behalf.”
“Yeah, I’m sure you’re right, Asia. After all, the good book does say: Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord.”
A few minutes later, after Nicki had left her home, Asia took herself into her kitchen and pulled a brand new half-gallon of strawberry shortcake ice cream out her freezer. She didn’t even bother to get herself a bowl. She grabbed a spoon and went to work drowning out her miseries.
She felt hot tears of disappointment and doubt begin to sting the backs of her eyes. Lord, what’s wrong with me? Am I not good enough to be somebody’s wife? Somebody’s soulmate? Is it in your plan for me to just be alone?
* * *
Two Days Later:
Asia drove her car along the curb at her mother’s house and parked it. She’d had the latest development in her ex’s life on her mind the entire past two days. It had been impossible for her to not think about the fact that Cedric had gotten married…that he’d married someone else and dumped her.
She focused on it for several minutes, then she got out of her car to take her mother the prescription meds that she’d just picked up for her from the pharmacy.
As soon as her daughter stepped into her home, Anita Gates frowned and said, “What’s wrong, baby?”
Asia blew out a breath on a sigh. “Just the same old stuff, mama. Just the same old stuff.”
Anita studied her child for several seconds. Then a knowing look came into her eye. “It has something to do with that no-good Cedric, don’t it?”
Asia didn’t feel like trying to deny it. “Yeah. You could say that.”
“I told you not to worry about him, honey. If a man would leave a woman at the altar like he did, he must not really be the man that God wants for you anyway. And I hope you’re not trying to come down on yourself anymore about it. You’re a fine young lady, sweetheart — and I know that I may sound a little biased seeing that I’m your mother, but it’s true.”
As soon as she’d said that, Anita could tell from the look on her child’s face that that wasn’t the heart of the problem. Anita’s frown deepened. “There’s more to it… Huh?”
“Cedric got married, mama. Last weekend. Over at Calvary Baptist.”
Anita instantly pulled her daughter into the loving circle of her arms. “I’m so sorry, honey. I know that must hurt.” She pulled back and said, “Come into the kitchen and let me fix you a soothing cup of chamomile tea. That always made you feel a little better when you were little.”
Asia was grateful to have such a phenomenal mother in her life. She followed her mom into the kitchen. In her eyes, there really was nothing like her mother’s love and support.
* * *
The following Sunday, Asia got out of her car and made her way into her church home. She didn't need to be a rocket scientist to know that people were whispering under their breath about her as she made her way towards a pew in the middle of the house of God. Greensboro was a medium-sized city, but it was in the South. So that meant that gossip tended to spread pretty quickly amongst the church community there.
Asia didn't like people gossiping about her. Despite feeling like she wanted to get up and leave, she braved out the entire church service — well almost — seeing that she got up and made her exit before the minister was able to give his closing benedictions.
Normally, some member of her family was hosting Sunday dinner. She didn't even feel like dealing with that, even though spending time with her family was one of her favorite things.
She pointed her car in the direction of her home. As soon as she got inside, she closed the door behind herself and pulled another pint of ice cream out her freezer — this one was Chunky Monkey.
It was a brand-new container. She’d made it halfway through when she had an epiphany. I can't keep doing this to myself. I need a break from all of this.
Her mind suddenly flashed back to a conversation that she’d had with one of her sister in-law’s best friends. She began whispering under her breath. “Lexi told me about this peaceful little town on the coast that’s only a three hour's drive away from here. She said that she’s spent several summers out there on vacation over the years. She said that the summer rental houses are pretty cheap out there and always available.”
Asia couldn't think of the name of the town that Lexi Kirby had told her about, so she snatched up her cellphone and dialed Lexi's number.
Seeing that it was right after church, Asia hadn’t really been expecting Lexi to answer her phone. She’d been hoping that she was going to, but she hadn’t really thought it was going to happen. Needless to say, she was kind of surprised, but pleased, when Lexi's voice came over the phone connection.
“Hey, Lexi. This is Asia.”
Lexi had heard about Asia's fiancé marrying another woman, so she made sure to sprinkle an extra layer of positivity in her voice when she said, “Hi, Asia.”
“I don't wanna keep you from your after-church activities, so I'm gonna come right out with it. I was just wondering about the name of that town that you told me about. You know, the one you said you used to go vacation in? The pretty and peaceful one.”
“Oh, yeah. It's called Edenton. You interested in renting a vacation home this season? If you are, I can give you a company to go through that’ll give you a real good hookup. I’m talking a nice two-bedroom place on the waterfront for only about a thousand dollars per month. And yes, all the utilities are included.”
The deal seemed a little too good to be true, but Asia trusted Lexi. So she responded with, “Yeah. I would appreciate a hook-up like that. I'm kinda trying to go out there on short notice. You really think this company might be able to help me? I want to leave soon as possible… As in, um, yesterday.”
Lexi didn't blame Asia for wanting to get out of town right now. I'd probably feel the same way if my fiancé had dumped me then married someone else only a few weeks later. “I'm pretty much sure that Tranquility Cove Cabins will be able to help you, Asia.”
Asia scribbled the phone number that Lexi had just given her on a notepad. Then she thanked her friend and disconnected their phone call. I've been needing a vacation long before this, Lord. It's a good thing that my savings account is pretty fat right now and that I can do my relationship counseling job online only and part-time.
She picked up her phone again and dialed the number that Lexi had given her. She was more than ready to get out of dodge.
* * *
An Hour Later:
Asia went to her front door and answered it. She wasn't exactly surprised to see her bestie standing out on her front porch.
Nicki frowned as she walked through Asia's front door. “I was worried about you, honey. You normally don't rush out of church before it's over with like you did today. Are you okay, Asia?”
Aisa nodded her head. “Yeah... I'm perfectly fine. In fact, I'm gonna be even better starting tomorrow.”
Nicki sat down on Asia's sofa. She looked over at her girl in curiosity. “What do you mean by you’re gonna be much better by tomorrow?”
Asia pushed her laptop along the coffee table towards Nicki. “I'm going here. I just finished talking to them on the phone. I'm gonna be renting a cabin on the coast for the next two months.”
Nicki was shocked. “You're leaving town, boo? You're moving?”
Asia shook her head. “Yes and no. Yes to I'm leaving town. No to I'm moving. Like I said, I'm only gonna be gone for two months. I'm spending the summer in a quiet little town on the coast called Edenton.” She looked up and her eyes met her girl’s. “You're welcome to join me if you want to. The cabin has two bedrooms.”
“Um, you know I can't do that, honey. I'm not blessed to have a flexible job like you do. If I don't show up to work tomorrow morning, my boss is gonna fire my behind.” Nicki frowned. “But for real though, running out of town for two months isn't like you, Asia. Are you gonna be alright? You’re not depressed or anything are you?”
Asia nodded her head. “I'm gonna be just fine, Nick. I prayed on it and God put it in my spirit that this is gonna be a good thing for me. I've been needing a vacation like this for a long, long time. It’s way past overdue.”