Sample of The Consequence of Faith
Copyright © 2015 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.
LaNeesha Banner smiled at her friend and coworker, Daphne, as the pretty brown-skinned girl joined her in the media room at Blue Meadow Productions.
“Hey, Daphne,” LaNeesha said. “Did you get the Madison Pictures video, yet? I'm almost done with what I was working on here, I'm ready to start on it.”
Daphne gave LaNeesha a frown. She hated to be the bearer of bad news. “Uh, um, yeah, I got it this morning, but—”
LaNeesha could tell from the tone of her friend's voice that something was wrong. She pulled her hands away from her laptop and studied Daphne a little more carefully. Then she suddenly felt a sinking sensation in the pit of her stomach. Lord, please don't let my suspicions be true. Please don’t let what I’m thinking be reality. With resignation in her heart, she finally sighed and said, “It's my turn isn't it?”
Daphne's eyes met LaNeesha's. “I'm sorry, honey… I really am. Mr. McKinley sent me in here to ask you to come to his office.”
Mr. McKinley was the owner of Blue Meadow Productions. Only a year earlier, Blue Meadow had been the premier video editor for many popular 'made-for-television' family movies. Now, Mr. McKinley was struggling to keep the doors of his business open. The gentle giant had been forced to fire a third of his employees in the last nine months alone.
LaNeesha sighed again. She ran her hand over her shoulder-length curls, pushing them back from her pretty caramel-colored face. She frowned. “Well, I guess I should have been expecting this.”
Daphne came over and gave LaNeesha a heartfelt hug. Daphne pulled back and frowned. “I really am sorry about this LaNeesha. If there's anything I can do for you, you know you better call me.”
LaNeesha nodded her head as the words from her pastor's sermon the previous Sunday came to her mind, The Lord never closes one door without opening up another one.
She was praying like the dickens that it would prove to be true in her case.
* * *
An hour later, LaNeesha had successfully cleared most of her belongings out of her desk drawer. She'd given some of her things to a few of her coworkers—kinda as momentos or keepsakes.
She'd been at Blue Meadow Productions for a little over five years, so she considered a lot of the people in her department to be more than just associates....they were her friends.
Everyone had of course promised to keep in touch. However, LaNeesha was well aware of how people could grow apart—especially if you didn't see them too often.
She sighed as she pulled out of her reserved parking spot for the last time. She was going to miss the place.
It only took her twenty minutes to make it to her nice, upper-middle class home. As she pulled into her double driveway, a frown worked it's way across her pretty face. Now that she didn't have a job, there was no way she could afford the almost two-thousand dollar per month house note.
She dropped her head onto her steering wheel and did something she hadn't done in a long while—she cried.
Several minutes later, she pulled a tissue from her console and began dabbing at her eyes. She almost got choked up again as she realized she was going to probably lose her zippy little Mercedes-Benz, as well. The country was currently in a recession. She knew that finding another job—one that paid as well as the one she'd just been let go from—would be difficult, if not impossible.
She inhaled deeply and shook her head. What am I going to do, Lord? she whispered to the empty vehicle. What am I going to do?
* * *
Two Months Later:
LaNeesha pressed the enter button on her laptop and submitted yet another application for employment. Then she checked her emails again. Nope nothing.
It had been two months since she'd received her pink-slip from Blue Meadows, and she still hadn't found a new position.
She took a deep breath and pushed her back into her chair, away from the computer.
All of her family and friends had always considered LaNeesha to be the positive one — the person who looked on the bright side of things—the individual who encouraged others to just implement their faith in the Lord if things were going bad in their lives. But as she sat at her kitchen table — submitting job application, after job application that morning — she realized she was gonna need a healthy dose of faith her own self.
She sighed and shook her head. It's obviously a lot easier to talk about trusting in the Lord for your everything when you're not the one going through the struggle.
She frowned and began to reflect on her situation. Blue Meadows had given her a half-way decent severance pay package, but she estimated that she'd only be able to keep her head above water for another three months at most.
Seconds later, she grimaced when she heard her cellphone buzzing. A look down at the screen of the device revealed that it was her mom, Mrs. Emma Banner.
It's not that she didn't want to speak to her mother, it's just that she didn't want to hear her mom asking her yet again why she hadn't been to church in the last couple of weeks.
She sighed and picked up the phone anyways. It was better to go ahead and get the conversation over with.
She smiled. She was pretty much sure her mom was on the verge of sending the cavalry over to knock down her door. Well, she thought to herself then chuckled — probably not the cavalry, but my siblings and several of the ladies from the church.
“Hi, Mom. What's going on?”
Mrs. Banner tsked into the phone. “I haven't seen you at Ebeneezer Faith Center in the last two Sundays, and you haven't dropped by the house lately. I was wondering what was wrong.”
LaNeesha had yet to let on to her mom that she'd lost her job. With her dad's recent heart attack, LaNeesha had felt like her mother had had enough to worry about. No need to add her troubles to the mix.
“I intend on making it this Sunday, Mom. There's been some things that I've had to take care of.”
“Mm,” Mrs. Banner said into the phone. “I was hoping you'd been skipping church 'cause you'd found you a young man and was too busy dating.”
LaNeesha sighed. Not this again. She loved her mom to pieces, but the constant reminders from her about not having a husband yet were getting tiresome.
LaNeesha was totally not surprised by her mother's next words. “You're twenty-eight, LaNeesha...those eggs of yours ain't getting any younger. It's about time for you to stop focusing so much on that career of yours...so that you can find yourself a man.” She paused for the briefest of moments. “You know your daddy is sick—God's willing he'll get better real soon—but he deserves to see a grandchild or two before the good Lord calls him home. Me too.”
The stress of not being able to find work for so long had finally taken its toll. LaNeesha couldn't stop the next words that came from her mouth. “Well Mom, I think you got half your wish. I don't have a job—I was laid off two months ago.” She wished she could take the words back the moment she'd said them, but of course it was too late.
“Oh, sweet Jesus, baby. I didn't know. Why didn't you tell somebody? Either me, or your sister or brother?”
LaNeesha sighed. “Because Mom, I didn't want you to worry. You and daddy have enough on your plates right now...since you're both dealing with his illness.”
Mrs. Banner shook her head. “You know, maybe I can ask around at church and see if anyone knows of someone who's hiring—”
LaNeesha interrupted her mother with a quickness. “No, please don't do that, Mom. I'm sure nobody there knows anyone who’d need a video editor. I have this under control.”
“Are you sure, baby?”
LaNeesha nodded her head. She was glad her mother wasn't there in the room to see the worried frown on her face. “Yeah, momma. I have this under control. I'm positive.”
Her grimace deepened when she disconnected her call. I pray I do.
Two Weeks Later:
When the zippy, but sleek Mercedes-Benz pulled into the spot that he'd been about to park in, Bishop Daniel Thompson raised both his hands in shocked disbelief and shook his head. He tapped his horn a couple of times in irritation, then frowned.
He sighed, ashamed of his actions. I'm pretty much sure what I just did wasn't what Jesus would have done, he thought to himself. He grimaced.
LaNeesha didn't see the truck with it's blinker flashing until she was half the way in the parking spot. She normally would have backed out and given the person the space, but she was running late for her first day at her new job. If she just parked and rushed inside, she just might have enough time to make it.
When Daniel saw the curvy, brown-skinned girl hop from behind the driver's seat and rush into After Dark Productions—a premier adult movie producer—he downright scowled.
All of these porn star chicks are all alike—they all feel entitled to whatever they want, he thought to himself in disgust. And he was pretty sure that she was one of the stars—she was downright sexy and gorgeous as all get-out. Plus, she was parking in the employees section of the lot—where the other so-called stars worked. So yeah, he was convinced that she worked there.
“She's not an executive or visitor, since they both had their own special parking sections at the front of the building,” he muttered under his breath.
In his estimation, she couldn't be a secretary or something similar, because she didn't have that I'm-a-secretary look to her.
Plus he'd met the secretarial staff at the establishment. As part of his gospel outreach program, he'd actually visited After Dark Productions to hand out flyers about God's saving grace. He'd also invited anyone who'd wanted to find a church home to his services—seeing that the church he'd just started was located in the very same building.
As the truck window rolled down, LaNeesha frowned. She didn't have time to waste, but she gave the man a quick apologetic smile. “I'm very, very sorry...I didn't see you. But I have to make it inside...I'm late to my first day working here.”
With that she quickly scurried into the building.
Daniel shook his head and circled the parking lot again, looking for a new spot. He frowned. His day was already off to a bad start.
* * *
LaNeesha knocked on the door labeled CEO, while trying to quell the butterflies in her stomach. She took a deep breath, then waited patiently for the masculine voice to tell her to come in. She smiled and entered the office. “Good morning, Mr. Roundtree. Sorry I'm late. There was a massive traffic jam out there on the interstate.” She paused for a moment. “I know that's not an excuse—”
Peter Roundtree cut her off mid-sentence. He smiled and raked his eyes appreciatively over the beautiful girl. “No, no, no. It's perfectly okay, K.K....” His eyes met hers. “Is it okay if I call you that?”
She gave him a half-smile. “Well, I prefer to be called by LaNeesha, sir. That's if it's okay with you, of course.”
He chuckled. “Okay, LaNeesha.” He put emphasis on her name. “But you look more like a K.K. to me...kinda like kitty kat.” He paused for a moment. “You sure I can't talk you into performing in front of the camera instead of behind it? You'd make a really good actress.”
She knew that he was her new boss, but she didn't really like the direction that the conversation was going in. She pasted a tiny smile on her face, even though she wanted to smack the nasty smirk from his thin lips—she really needed this job. “No, I prefer being behind the scenes, sir. I've been a video editor for a very long time. I've never felt the need to be an actress.”
He grinned. “Well, if you ever change your mind, just let me know.”
She nodded her head.
He came around the desk. “Okay, let me show you to your office.”
* * *
An hour later, LaNeesha sat at her desk in her tiny new office. She was going over the video that she was responsible for editing by the end of the week. It was Monday, so that only gave her a total of five days to complete it. The video was relatively short. But five days was still going to be pushing. it.
She swallowed a little nervously as she watched the scene play out on her computer screen. She had seriously considered not accepting the offer to work at Erotic After Dark Productions. She didn't consider herself to be a prude when it came to sex...she knew sex was the vehicle God chose to use for procreation, but working on sexy videos was a long cry from the material she was used to editing—and that material had been sweet, Hallmark movie-type films.
She'd been out of a work for close to three months. Honestly, it was getting harder and harder to make ends meet. So in the end, she'd felt like she hadn't had a choice.
I guess I'd better count my blessings, she quickly thought to herself.
She sighed, then looked at her computer again. She quickly shook her head. The first part of the video had been relatively tame. The second part, not so much.
She couldn't believe the action that was going on in front of her eyes. She watched in disbelief as the girl on the screen sexually pleasured five hunky men at the same time.
LaNeesha frowned. “I don't think I can do this,” she whispered to the empty office.
An hour later, after making it through only about a third of the so-called 'movie', she was sure that she wasn't gonna be a good fit for the job.
She frowned as she turned off the monitor. She really needed the money that working there would provide. I'm just not the type of person who can sit around and watch people having raunchy sex all day, she thought to herself, somewhat in disappointment. My spirit won't let me do it.
She closed her eyes and blew out a breath. Then it hit her. Deep down inside I knew what this job would probably entail. She felt a dark shame wash over her. I've lowered my standards, I've stooped down to working on pornography.
She realized that she could come up with any excuse in the world that she wanted to to justify her decision. However, in the end, the truth was the truth.
Then she looked up towards the ceiling, honestly disgusted with herself. She couldn't believe that she'd seriously considered going through with the job.
She sighed, grateful that at least God had chosen to intervene and put a halt to the mess she'd been about to step into. “Fix it Lord Jesus. This job ain't right.”
She took a deep breath and prepared herself to leave the room. “I'm about to be without employment.”
Just as she stood from the desk, she heard her office door being cracked open.
“How's it coming along?”
She looked up at her new—well about to be old boss, Mr. Roundtree. She frowned as she stood. “I'm sorry, sir. I appreciate you for giving me a job, but I just can't—”
To her surprise he chuckled.
Peter had been expecting as much—from the moment she'd stepped into his office with that look of innocence all in her gorgeous, deep brown eyes.
He smiled at her and handed her a card. “It's okay, LaNeesha. Not everybody is cut out for this line of work. I actually know some decent people too, believe it or not.” He chuckled again. “You're pretty talented. My cousin—his name is Anthony Harper—he owns a small video production studio as well. His films are nothing kinky like this stuff I'm in to, and the pay probably won't be as much. But, you tell him I sent you over. I'm sure he'll be happy to sign you on.”
LaNeesha smiled and thanked the man. She picked up her purse. He escorted her to the door.
As she walked away from him, down the long hallway that led to the front of the building, Peter shook his head in regret and smiled. She's pretty darn hot, the cameras would've loved her. That was the only thought on his mind.
* * *
Later on that evening, LaNeesha pulled into the driveway of her home in her comfortable upper middle-class neighborhood. She couldn't afford the mortgage payments anymore, so the house was for sale. She'd figured it would be in her best interest to try to sell it before the bank foreclosed on it. The house had been on the market for a little over a month. She was starting to worry that she wouldn't be able to find a buyer at all.
She frowned as she made her way into the home's spacious interior. It was the first place she'd ever purchased. I'm going to miss this place when the time comes for me to finally move.
She'd only been in the house a few seconds, when she heard her land-line phone beginning to ring. She ran to answer it, hoping it was her realtor—seeing that her family and friends called her mostly on her cell phone.
“Good morning,” she said a little breathlessly into the device.
“Good morning, LaNeesha....and it is indeed a very good one. I've found a buyer for your home....they're even willing to pay full asking price!”
LaNeesha allowed her realtor, Vanessa Webster, to give her all the finer details of the upcoming sale. She listened to the perky woman carefully. By the time they'd disconnected the call, LaNeesha had a grin on her face.
She sighed. It was a bittersweet kind of happiness, but at least it looked like things were finally starting to turn around for her.
She'd talked to Mr. Roundtree's cousin earlier in the day, and she was pretty certain that he was going to give her a job—one that didn't include porno flicks.
At a yearly salary of forty-eight thousand dollars, the new position would be half of what she was used to earning, but it was a whole lot better than flipping burgers at the local Mickey D's. She considered all of that to be a blessing.
She frowned as her cellphone began to buzz. She picked up the instrument and depressed the talk button. Her sister's voice came over the connection.
“Hi, LaNeesha. Guess who?”
LaNeesha laughed. “I don't have to guess who Sierra, your name's on my caller ID.”
Sierra chuckled lightly at that. “Oh yeah...you've always been such a smartypants.”
With the way things had been going in her life lately, LaNeesha didn't feel too much like a smartypants. A fifty-percent salary cut, coupled with having to sell her home, made her feel like a downright loser.
She frowned, deciding to try not to wallow in her sorrows. “What's going on, Sierra?”
Sierra paused for a moment. “I was hoping you could help out my friend, Diana.”
“Yeah. Her job is sending her to San Francisco on assignment for six months. She needs a house-sitter. I figured since you're selling your place, that maybe you could go live at hers while she's away. Plus, the rent and all the utilities would be free.”
LaNeesha was speechless for a few seconds. The offer was pretty much like a gift from heaven. I guess when the Lord hands out blessings, they come down in showers. She grinned. “When does she need me to move in?”
“Um, next week.”