Authors: Tiffany L. Warren
Although Luke seems to be enjoying his meal, I’m barely touching my food. I look around the dining room at my Christmas decorations. I always put them out the first week of December. This year I went a little bit overboard. There’s a nativity scene on the china cabinet and a wreath on every wall. In the doorway is a huge sprig of mistletoe, although I don’t plan on giving Luke any extra affection. My hunter-green carpet always looks good with the Christmas theme. I even walked through the entire house tossing glitter around, trying to transform the place into a winter wonderland. I’m going to have a time cleaning it up.
I’m proud of my home. It’s a four-bedroom colonial. The two things that made me fall in love with this house were the enormous modern kitchen and the two-story foyer. Luke and I bought it after he became a certified public accountant. Of course, his goal is full-time ministry, but in the interim he decided to have a well-paying career.
I feel the stiff envelope rubbing against my thigh. One of the corners is poking me, reminding me that it’s there. Like I could actually forget. I don’t think I’ll ever forget receiving this letter.
“Vonne, this is good. Is there any more rice?”
“Yes. I’ll get it for you.”
I almost feel like some sort of zombie when I get up from the table. It would seem like a dream if it weren’t for Luke’s smacking in the background. I come back into the dining room with a bowl of rice. I place the bowl and the letter in front of Luke. I’m praying to myself, because if he puts his hands on me, there is going to be trouble.
Luke picks up the letter and flips it over in his hands. He can see that it’s been opened, and he can also see his name on the front. He looks up at me.
“What’s this?” he asks while wiping his face with a green paper napkin.
“I don’t know. Why don’t you open it and find out.”
“Looks like it’s already open, so you must know what it is.”
Luke opens the summons and slowly scans the page. His mouth drops open after a few seconds. I want to tell him to close it before something flies in. I restrain myself, though, because this is just not the time for jokes.
“That conniving heifer.”
Those were not the words that I expected to come from his mouth. He was supposed to say, “It wasn’t me.” What he said was an admission of guilt. I can feel the heat start to rise around my neck, and my fists ball up all by themselves.
“Who do you mean, Luke?”
“I mean Taylor Johnson, that’s who.”
“So what are you saying? Is it true?”
Luke folds the letter neatly and places it back in the envelope. He sets the envelope back down on the table and continues to eat his meal. He chews slowly and deliberately, not taking his eyes off me for an instant.
“Well, Luke, don’t you have anything to say?”
“You know, you really could have given me this after dinner. I don’t like to argue while I’m eating. It ruins my digestion.”
“Answer my question, Luke. I’m being really patient here, so don’t try me.”
“Well, you really haven’t asked anything. If you’re asking did I sleep with Taylor, well, yes, I did. A few times. It was nothing serious, and it ended almost as soon as it started. If you’re asking if I’m the father of her child, then my answer is absolutely not. I can’t believe she’s trying to pin her little bastard on me.”
“How do you know he’s not yours if you slept with her?”
“Because, believe me, I was not the only one she was with. The brothers have been passing Taylor around for months. She’s nothing but a worthless whore.”
For some reason, I think that Luke is lying about the duration of their affair. He’s too calm. It’s like he’d already planned and practiced his responses. He sounds like a rehearsed witness on one of those court television shows.
“Well, even if there were others, there is still the possibility that you’re the father. Right?”
“I suppose that there is a remote possibility. More than likely, she thinks that I’m just going to accept this and give her money to shut up. She’s after my pockets, just because we have a little something. There is no way that I’m going to give my hard-earned money to that little tramp.”
I feel a well of questions bubble up—questions I had kept to myself over the years. “So those weekends when you disappeared, you were with her?”
“Yvonne. Don’t do this.”
“I mean, I just want to know. You said you were only with her a few times. But you’ve taken your little trips once, sometimes twice, a month. Now, I’m no math genius, but that adds up to way more than a few times.”
“Vonne, I was not with her all those times.”
“Oh? You weren’t?” I feel my anger rise. “Well, then, who were you with? Because you sure ain’t about to sit up here and tell me that you were alone.”
“Woman, I don’t have to explain anything to you. And you ain’t about to sit up here questioning me like I’m some criminal.”
Luke wipes his mouth and hands meticulously, as if he’s daring me to do something. I want to leap across the table and slap his smug-looking face. Of course, I don’t do nothing but sit here.
“Luke, whether you think so or not, you owe me an explanation.”
“For you going over there with Taylor, doing what you should only be doing in our bedroom! In our bed!”
“What can I say, Vonne? A man needs some variety every now and then. It don’t mean that I don’t love you.”
“What does it mean, then?” I ask, feeling tears come to my eyes.
“Nothing. Like I said.”
Luke gets up from the table and goes into the living room. I hear
Monday Night Football
come on. I guess he’s finished talking about this. I’m not, but I’m not going to try and force anything else out of Luke.
Try as I might, I can’t get up from the table. It feels like I’m spinning or something. I’ve never been drunk, but I imagine that this is how it would feel. Shouldn’t he be the one reeling right now? He’s the one who just had a bomb dropped on him. But maybe something is not much of a bomb if you know it’s coming.
I was hoping that Luke’d deny everything and that we could go back to what we call normal. Now what?
What is everyone at church going to think? What about Pastor Brown? Luke is a minister, for crying out loud. Even though I’m the victim, I probably won’t even be able to show my face once everyone finds out. And for some reason, I think that Ms. Taylor Johnson has no intentions of keeping this thing a secret. And to think, I actually tried to do something nice for her and that baby.
Maybe I’ll tell my close friends so that I can have someone on my side. You know, rallying behind me. Taylor’s got the whole singles’ committee. They’re nothing but a pack of fornicators anyway who are sure to back the little husband stealer.
It’s almost Christmas, and I don’t feel one ounce of goodwill. I wonder if she’s going to let Luke spend time with Joshua. I know the games these women play. There’s no way my husband is going over to her house without me on his arm, so she can forget about opening the door in her negligee, or cooking Luke some romantic meal, when he’s supposed to be visiting his son.
With angry tears streaming down my cheeks, I pray out loud. “Lord, this isn’t fair! Help me to understand why I have to go through this trial. I’ve been a good wife to Luke. How could he do this to me after all these years? Lord, give me strength, because I don’t know if I can make it through this. And give me wisdom, because I don’t know where to go from here. Lord, I don’t want to be a bitter, unforgiving woman, but how can I forgive this? Teach me Your ways, Jesus.”
Wait a minute. I’m getting ahead of myself. We don’t know if this is even Luke’s son. If he’s not the father, maybe this whole thing will just go away. Vanish into thin air, like warm breath blown into a winter’s day.
y son is going to be an architect when he grows up. My Joshua loves to build things. He is amazing with these little Lego building blocks. He giggles with pride as he displays his creations. Then he dismantles them as quickly as he put them together.
I love watching him play. With this new job, I’m getting to do that more. Pam is an excellent boss. She’s not demanding, and she lets me go home early three or four days out of the week. I don’t think she’s ever had an assistant before, because she still does plenty of things herself that I could do for her. When I catch her doing that, I just remind her that I’m there. Sometimes she catches the hint, sometimes she doesn’t.
When I don’t have anything else to do, I ask Pam’s boss, Glenda Evans, if she needs any assistance. There is no way I’m going to sit around twiddling my thumbs. I have to make sure that I keep this job. Anyway, the more executives that know my name, the better. Today I helped Glenda proofread a presentation that she is giving to the board of directors. I offered a few suggestions, and I was surprised when she actually took them. Maybe I’m on my way up.
The bad news is that Luke has been leaving threatening messages in my voice mail. I’m not really worried about him, but it’s still irritating. Apparently, his wife got to the mail before he did, and now he’s angry. You know what? I don’t even give a care. He can be angry all he wants.
I’m shocked that Sister Yvonne hasn’t confronted me herself. I half expected to receive a call from her. I wonder what Luke told her. He probably fed her some of his smooth lines. I can almost hear him saying “It was nothing . . . It was only a few times . . .” Blah, blah, blah. Let her come and ask me anything. I’m going to give her the real. I’m almost certain that she doesn’t want to hear that, or she would’ve already called me.
I just wish I had someone to talk to about this situation. Someone who won’t judge me. I was tempted to tell Pam, but for some reason, I don’t think she’ll understand. She acted kind of funny when I told her that Joshua’s father was a married man. Like she was wondering if
husband was the father or something. I guess that’s how a lot of married women are—insecure.
I can’t tell any of the singles either, though. Oh, there are some that would understand, because a few of them have been in similar circumstances. The trouble with the singles is that nothing is ever a secret with them, and I don’t know if I want to have my business out there like all that.
Someone is knocking on my door. I’m wearing a robe, I’m not expecting anyone and I hate when folk just show up unannounced.
Whoever this fool is, they think that they have to pound on the door like the police. I do have a doorbell. I look out my little peephole and see . . . Luke Hastings.
“Open this door.”
I don’t know who Luke thinks he is. “Luke, you’ve got me confused. This is not your house, and I’m not your wife. You don’t tell me what to do.”
“I said open this door.”
“Luke, you’ve got five seconds to leave, or I’m calling security, then I’m dialing nine-one-one.” I’m a little bit afraid, and I hope that Luke doesn’t hear the faint quiver in my voice.
“You ain’t even got to do all that. I just want to talk to you.”
“Through the door?”
I wish he’d just go home to his wife. “I can hear you just fine.”
“Oh, you done put the white man in our business, now you want all your neighbors to know?”
“What do you mean the white man?”
“You know what I mean! The courts. Why did you even keep the baby? If you had done what I asked, I wouldn’t even be here bothering you.”
“Luke, take your sorry tail back home. I don’t have anything else to say to you.” I’m disgusted with this whole situation, and I’m tired of Luke. My God! I wish I’d never met him.
“You’ll never get a dime out of me, you know.”
“Even if I have to quit my job and work under the table, you ain’t getting nothing!”
“Sure, Luke. Whatever you say. Just get away from my door.”
Luke stands outside my door for a few minutes more. He punches and kicks on the door. I hope he hurts his hand. Shouldn’t I be the one mad? I’m over here struggling, and he has the audacity to act like he’s offended.
I bet his snotty wife put him up to this mess. She seems like the type. I bet he’s told her that Joshua is not his. Probably has me looking like some kind of gold digger or whatnot. I think I’m going to pay Sister Yvonne a visit. Seems like she needs to know some things about her husband. And obviously, what she doesn’t know is hurting her, and my son.
ome things feel like a dream even when you know you’re awake. Just yesterday Troy came to me all excited. I’ve learned not to get caught up in his enthusiasm, because most of the time it turns out to be a letdown. He told me that Bonzai Records wants to sign Lisa to a recording contract, but first they have to buy out the contract that she already has with Troy. I half wondered why anyone would want to sign the little heifer to anything.
Troy and I are sitting in the lobby of Bonzai Records waiting to see Mr. Shane Bevins. Troy asked me to come along and help with the negotiations, since he doesn’t know the first thing about a contract. I was surprised that he even had his artists signing anything.
The lobby is huge, and the furniture is ornate and modern. The plush carpeting is so thick that our feet seemed to sink as we walked in the door. There is a large, flat-screen, plasma television in the corner playing music videos. This company obviously has some money to burn.
Finally, the young blonde receptionist speaks. “Mr. Bevins will see you now.”
She points behind her to Mr. Bevins’ office. Troy and I move quickly as if the dream is going to evaporate if we move any slower.
When we step through the door, Mr. Bevins looks up at us and smiles. He’s not what I expected. I was thinking of an older, distinguished, white-haired gentleman, but Mr. Bevins is no older than Troy. He’s wearing a coordinated jean outfit and tinted glasses. I never thought I’d be facing a young African American man as the head of Artists and Repertoire for a Japanese company.
“Please have a seat,” says Mr. Bevins.
“Thank you, Mr. Bevins.”
“Please call me Shane. Is it all right if I call you Troy?”