More Than I Can Bear
Always Divas Series Book Two by E.N. Joy
Paige begs to differ with the scripture that says God will not put on a person more than they can bear, because she is truly on the edge. One slight push from another one of life’s unexpected and unpleasant occurrences, and she’ll be free falling.
As if having suffered physical, mental, sexual and spiritual abuse from her husband hadn’t weighed heavily on her enough, Paige had to deal with learning that her best friend and sister in Christ had done the ultimate no-no and slept with her husband. Thank God one of Paige’s co-workers, Norman, who she now deems as a true friend, was there to catch her fall before she hit the ground. But will Norman be there when Paige receives news that may not only push her off the edge, but cause her to jump willingly?
In More Than I Can Bear, not only when it rains does it pour, but there is lightening and plenty of thunder to go along with it. Will Paige drown in the storm she finds herself in with no umbrella, or will she catch hold of the life saver God extends to her?
“Was that my boy I heard?”
The singsong voice coming from the dining room was heard prior to Norman, Paige or Miss Nettie ever even making their way into the room.
“Oh, he’s here all right, Mrs. Vanderdale,” Miss Nettie called out as she looked back over her shoulder at Paige while pushing the swinging dining room door at the same time. “My oh my is he here.” Miss Nettie hustled her way through that door with Paige in tow as if there was a three alarm fire they were trying to escape. There may not have been a fire, but Miss Nettie knew one thing for certain, there was at least about to be some smoke blown. And where there’s smoke…
“Son! My only son. Come give Mumsy some love.”
Paige watched as a pail skinned woman with blond hair and a house coat that would have given both Maud and Mrs. Roper a run for their money, brushed by her and embraced Norman.
“Mom, please,” Norman said as his mother began planting kisses all over his face as if he were a five year old child. “Come on, Mom,” he pleaded to no avail, finally just dropping his arms down to his side like dead weight and giving in. He rolled his eyes up in his head while his mother smothered him with kisses.
“You don’t come visit as often as I’d like, so I have to make up for times missed,” his mother said, planting one more smuckerroo right on his nose.
“Come on, Mother, let’s not start with the whole ‘You never come by to see me routine.’ You know I make it by as often as I can.”
“Oh, hogwash. You’re too busy at that ridiculous peasant collar job of yours.” His mother shooed her hand.
“It’s blue collar,” Norman corrected his mother, not noticing the offended look on Paige’s face, seeming she worked at the same place of employment. “And don’t say it with your nose up in the air, so. Miss Nettie here’s job is blue collar. I’m sure she might find that offensive.”
“Oh please,” she shooed her hand again, never taking her eyes off of Norman as she straightened his already straightened collar. “Nettie is family. I don’t even consider her part of the hired help anymore. It’s just like having a dog. Once it’s been around for so long, it’s like part of the family,” she chuckled, planting an unforeseen peck on her son’s lips.
“What the…” Paige started under her breath, lightweight lunging toward her mother-in-law until Miss Nettie’s grip on her hand tightened and pulled her back.
Paige’s words reminded Mrs. Vanderdale that someone other than her and her son were in the room. She turned and addressed Mrs. Nettie. That’s when, for the first time, she noticed Paige. “Why Miss Nettie, you didn’t tell me one of your kin folks was in town again.” She lowered her voice but with a stern tone and wagging finger in Miss Nettie’s face she said, “I thought we had this talk before. Now I don’t mind your people coming for a visit every now and again and sharing your quarters, but you must give Mr. Vanderdale and me a heads up. Is that understood?”
“Yes, ma’am, but I-” Miss Nettie started before Mrs. Vanderdale cut her off.
“Now I hope you saw to it that the kitchen staff made extra for your guest. You know we are already going to start having an extra mouth to feed whenever my Norman comes around now that he’s a married man.” She sharply turned to Norman. “Speaking of which, son, where is that lovely bride of yours? Why I can’t wait to welcome her to the family.” Mrs. Vanderdale began looking over Norman’s shoulder toward the swinging door leading to the living room.
“She’s right there, Mother.” Norman nodded toward Paige.
His mother turned around only to find Mrs. Nettie and her supposed kinfolk standing there. She continued looking at the doorway. “Where, Son?”
“Right here, Mother. Standing right here in your face.” Norman walked around his mother and went and stood next to Paige. “Mumsy, this is my wife, Paige. Paige, this is-”
“Mrs. Vanderdale!” Miss Nettie shouted as she quickly went to her boss’s aid.
Norman joined Nettie in keeping his mother to her feet as she appeared faint and weak, as if her knees had given out.
“Mom, are you okay?” Norman asked worriedly. “Miss Nettie, help get mother over to the chair. And please, have Stuart fetch her some water.”
Miss Nettie just stood there torn, not moving a muscle.
“Please, Miss Nettie, why are you just standing there?” Norman asked.
How could Miss Nettie tell the young lad that she didn’t want to leave that room for not even a second? She didn’t want to miss what she felt was long coming and overdue. “Oh shucks,” she said under her breath and then scurried over to the swinging door that separated the dining room from the kitchen. “Stuart, Mrs. Vanderdale needs a glass of water, quickly.” Miss Nettie hurried back to her employer’s side. Under ordinary circumstance she would have gotten the water herself. But to her this was a long awaited extraordinary circumstance.
Within seconds, Paige stood to the side and watched as a black man with salt and pepper hair dressed in a long tail tux took over a glass of water to Mrs. Vanderdale. Norman took it from his hand.
“Thank you, Stuart,” Norman said with a nod, then turned and placed the glass to his mother’s lips.
She took a few sips and after a moment or two, she seemed to regain her strength.
“Mom, what’s going on?” Norman questioned. “Have you been feeling okay? Are you sick again and haven’t told me?” He looked to Miss Nettie for an answer.
“No, no, not as far as I know. She’s been just fine,” Miss Nettie assured him.
Norman felt his mother’s forehead. “She doesn’t seem to have a fever.”
“I think it’s your fever that’s got her feeling a certain kind of way?” Miss Nettie said between her teeth with a knowing look on her face.
“Huh, what?” Norman was confused by Miss Nettie’s statement. He looked to Paige to see if perhaps she had any idea what the older woman was talking about. He always did have the hardest time deciphering what he referred to as Miss Nettie’s riddles.
Miss Nettie looked to Paige as well, whose expression told the older woman that the new Mrs. Vanderdale knew exactly what the punch line was. Paige decided to translate to her husband.
“She’s talking about you having jungle fever, Norman. Your mother is in shock that your new wife is black,” Paige said.
“Please, my mother doesn’t care about what color you are.” Norman turned to face his mother. “Do you mother?”
His mother couldn’t speak. She was still trying to catch her breath. But her dilating pupils begged her son to realize that he’d hit the nail on the head.
“Mother, is that what has you acting this way? The fact that Paige is black?”
Realizing his mother was still trying to catch her breath, Norman offered his mother another sip of water, of which she gulped down. She wiped the dripping water from her chin and was finally able to speak and the only words she could manage to force out was, “Who on earth names their African American daughter Paige?”
“Mom!” Norman said, embarrassment peeking around his tone.
“Well, I’m sorry, son, but I thought I raised you better than that?”
“What?” Paige had held her tongue long enough.
No one noticed Miss Nettie standing off to the side with a satisfied grin across her mouth and her nose in the air as if she was sniffing roses instead of smoke.
“Oh, my and I see she even has the attitude that comes along with it?” Mrs. Vanderdale said, grabbing her chest.
“That comes along with what?” Paige asked verbally while Norman asked with his eyes.
“With…” His mother motioned her index finger up and down the length of Paige’s body. “With that.”
Paige took another step toward her mother-in-law.
“Hold on just a minute.” Norman put his arm out, stopping Paige from getting any closer to his dear mother. “Mother, I’m not clear on what you’re trying to say here, but if it’s what I think it is, disappointment in you would be describing how I feel without crossing the line of respect.”
“Norman, it’s totally clear what your mother is implying,” Paige said. “But just in case you really don’t understand, let me break it down for you.”
“Oh, gosh, and there she goes ready to start breaking things,” Mrs. Vanderdale panicked. “Nettie, put away all the china and crystal. I’ve caught glimpses of those reality shows and know how they like to throw glasses and stuff at each other.”
Paige’s mouth fell to the floor. She wanted so badly to go off on her mother-in-law for stereotyping Paige, but then she realized she’d be going off on the wrong person. It’s those trifling basketball and housewives she’d need to speak her peace with. She couldn’t blame Mrs. Vanderdale for believing what her eyes showed her to be true on all these cable networks. Not only that, but Paige had to remember that she herself had lost control to the point where her hands had to be pried from another woman’s head full of weave…a couple of times. She didn’t categorize that as a ‘black’ thing though. She categorized that as a woman out of control. And from the looks of things, if his mother kept it up, Norman was about to be out of control as well.
“Enough, Mother!” Norman spat. By now Miss Nettie had an arm full of dishes after starting the task of which her employer had instructed her to do. Stuart, who had remained silent off to the side, waiting for Mrs. Vanderdale to finish her water so that he could take the glass back into the kitchen, began helping.
“Miss Nettie, Stuart, please leave the settings and excuse yourselves.” Norman looked to Paige. “Paige, can you go with them, grab a drink, appetizer or something? I’d like to have a word with my mother.” He turned and shot his mother a condemning look. “Alone.”
“But-” Paige started. No way did she want to excuse herself from the room. She wanted to give her mother-in-law a piece of her mind. Or at least bear witness to her husband giving her a piece of his mind in her defense.
“Come on, honey.” Miss Nettie took Paige by her elbow after placing the dishes back on the table. “I make the sweetest tea mixed with lemonade that you’d ever want to taste.”
Paige didn’t budge.
“Come on now,” Miss Nettie nudged. “Trust me, God’s got this.”
Paige finally gave in and allowed Miss Nettie to lead her off to the swinging door that led to the kitchen.
“Believe you me,” Miss Nettie said. “I don’t want to miss it either. But don’t worry, as long as I get to witness her finding out about that bun you got cooking in the oven, it’ll make up for whatever I miss right here.”
Paige stopped in her tracks and stared at Miss Nettie, wondering how on God’s green earth she knew she was pregnant. Because she was plus size and her dress was a little big, no way could that woman have realized she was showing.
Miss Nettie simply winked and said, “Child, you’d be surprised at what God shows me in my head before it ever manifest before my eyes. Now come on and get some of this sweet tea and lemonade. You need a break before we’s get to round two.” Miss Nettie chuckled as they disappeared into the kitchen.
( Continued... )
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More Than I Can Bear: Always Divas Series Book Two by E.N. Joy