A Date With Destiny by Lutishia Lovely
(The Hallelujah Series)
(The Hallelujah Series)
Nathaniel and Destiny Thicke are celebrating their first year anniversary as pastor and first lady of Divine Grace Community Center. After dealing with their share of drama, the couple believes there is only smooth sailing ahead. But when an old nemesis resurfaces, a church deacon becomes obsessed and a best friend's dream life starts to unravel, those observing wonder if a date with destiny is one the Thickes might want to avoid.
Excerpt: A Date With Destiny By Lutishia Lovely
Outwardly, Destiny Noble-Thicke was the epitome of sophisticated calm. Inwardly, she was a bundle of nerves. It had been a year since her infamous husband, Nathaniel “Nate” Thicke, had accepted the position of senior pastor at Divine Grace Christian Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. One would think she’d be used to the scrutiny that came along with being a first lady and sitting next to him on the raised dais. But she wasn’t. The overt stares left her feeling like an object on display and made it way too easy to see women cut her the side eye while ogling her man. On the other hand, the position enabled her to see who was watching her, and much more. A couple observations made her uncomfortable. Very much so.
“Praise him, saints!” Reverend King Brook, the guest speaker for the afternoon’s celebratory service, stood as the last notes of the song he’d requested faded amid shouts and applause. “He’s worthy, isn’t He?”
“Yes!” Several parishioners responded.
“Amen!” Others shouted.
“Pastor,”—King looked over at Nate—“I believe there are some folk in here who know something about Jesus!”
Nate nodded and stood. King addressed the standing-room only crowd. “Is there anybody in here who knows the Lord?” The din of noise grew louder.
“Somebody here knows him as a doctor. Some know him as a lawyer. Some know him as a friend in need, a friend indeed! Somebody you can trust, when all others forsake you. Oh, I guess I’m all by myself up in here. I guess I’m the only who’s been lied on, mistreated, betrayed, verbally slayed.”
People throughout the congregation rose to verbalize their responses.
“Tell the truth!”
“I’ve got a story too, Preacher!”
“The truth is sometimes I was the liar, the one mistreating and the one betraying. But he picked me up, turned me around, placed my feet on solid ground!”
Smiles and nods rippled across the congregation as many acknowledged they’d sinned and come short of glory.
“Look at your neighbor and say ‘Won’t God do it’?” The crowd obeyed.
“If He’s ever done anything for you, big or little, large or small, I want you to stand on your feet and shout ‘God did that thang’!”
The crowd collectively responded, “God did that thang!”
Another round of glorious praise erupted, fanned by the staccato chords of the organist. The rest of the band quickly followed his lead. The choir stood and sang another chorus of the day’s theme song.
“God. Will. God will do it. He’ll bring you through it. Like there’s nothing to it. Yes, God! Bless God! Won’t God do it? Yes, He will!”
Destiny listened, lightly tapping a designer shoe-clad toe as she watched the choir. This understated form of worship was one of many problems some had with her position in their midst. Her slender beauty, stylishly contemporary wardrobe and quiet demeanor—sometimes perceived as uppity snobbishness—were a few other reasons she was disliked . Some people felt two beautiful children and a handsome, successful husband to boot were too many blessings for one woman to enjoy. Some had complained, others had offered unsolicited advice. Many members had left the congregation. Their presence was barely missed as hordes more poured in. Most of them female. Attractive. Hungry. Destiny had handled all of this with an attitude that was cool and unperturbed. They knew her glory, but not her story. Nor did they know the women who’d mentored her in this position, nor how God had prepared her long before anyone in this town knew her name.
As the song ended and King began his sermon, Destiny turned her attention to the audience and smiled at three of those mentors seated in the front row: her grandmother, mother and the first lady whose popular Sanctity of Sisterhood Conferences helped shaped Destiny’s outlook on womanhood, marriage and ministry. She schooled her features into a pleasant expression as her eyes continued down the row to King Brook’s wife seated at the end. Destiny tried not to judge but when it came to a second wife who helped to ruin it for the first wife, staying neutral was hard to do. Much easier to show compassion for Janet Miller, the woman seated behind the new Mrs. Brook. This kind, selfless woman had been dealt a bad hand, but praised God every Sunday in spite of it. The person who’d dealt Janet most of those bad cards was her husband, Ronald. Their eyes locked. Destiny’s skin crawled. The man’s overt flirting and constant leering literally made her nauseous. He’d been warned about this behavior many times, not just with Destiny but with other women in the church. These antics had lessened but as this moment proved, they had not totally disappeared. Covertly studying the couple, Destiny knew that Ronald’s wandering eye was not the couple’s only problem. And not the worse one, either. If the woman had done as requested and stayed her butt at home, Destiny’s best friend would be sitting where the homewrecker now warmed the pew.
“Are you all right, baby?”
Only as she felt Nate’s hand on her arm and breath in her ear did she realize the slightest of frowns had marred her face. He was very observant, especially when it came to anything to do with her. That was only one of many things she loved about him.
“I’m fine,” she whispered, catching a whiff of his musky cologne as she leaned toward him.
“No you’re not. And I understand why. But Princess still could have attended.”
The shift was subtle but, by removing her arm and turning her body more fully toward King, she effectively cut off communication with Nate. As intellectual and smart as her husband was, he could sometimes come off sounding as dumb as an ox. If he thought putting her best friend and father’s wife in the same room would go over well, even a room the size of an auditorium adorned with a neon cross, now was one of those “dumb as an ox” times.
An hour and a half later, Nate and Destiny were whisked through a side door to join the Christian elite who’d been granted access backstage. The VIP room was appropriately appointed and held a who’s who roster from both the Christian and secular worlds. Also present were members of Divine Grace’s ministerial staff. The celebrated first couple was comfortable among them all, standing at the front of the room and enduring an endless parade of congratulatory well-wishers.
As the line waned, a well-dressed couple approached them, the man’s hand outstretched toward Nate. “Beautiful service, Reverend. And some of the most powerful preaching I’ve heard in a while.”
Nate shook the hand presented. “King Brook is one of the best.”
“First Lady,” the woman asked, her voice quiet, her body language subdued. “Is there anything I can get you? Water? Tea?”
“No, thank you, Bethany. I’m fine.” Destiny looked over the shorter woman’s shoulder and smiled as two of her favorite women approached. “Bethany, meet my mother, Simone Simmons, and her mother, Katherine Noble. Mom, Kat, this is Bethany Miller. Her husband, Roy,” Destiny nodded toward the man chatting with Nate, “is one of our associate ministers.”
The ladies exchanged introductions. “It’s easy to see where Destiny gets her beauty,” Bethany said sincerely. She looked at Katherine. “And you’re her grandmother?”
“Not hardly,” Katherine drawled, attitude dripping along with the sarcasm.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Bethany looked at Destiny. “I thought you said—”
“I did.” Destiny’s eyes shined with humor. “The G-word isn’t one that Kat embraces. Bethany is one of our most faithful members,” she said to Katherine, “and a part of the team of ladies who help me in the ministry. She’s been a member of this congregation for a very long time. Her insight into the church history and ongoing friendship has been invaluable.”
Bethany beamed at the praise. “Thank you.”
“Ladies!” Bethany’s husband, Roy Miller, entered their circle. “The good reverend here is being remiss so I must take it upon myself to meet the sunshine lighting up the room.” He turned to Simone and offered his hand. “My name is Roy Miller. Would you by any chance be related to our beautiful first lady?”
“I would indeed,” Simone responded with a smile. “I’m her mother, Simone Simmons, and this is my mother, Katherine Noble.”
“Ah, yes. Your husband is the former governor of Louisiana.”
“That is correct.”
Roy turned to Katherine but addressed Simone. “And you say this is your sister?”
She shook his hand. He held it and topped it with his other hand. “It is my pleasure to meet you.”
“Likewise,” Katherine replied with enough sugary sweetness to bring on diabetes. She deftly removed her hand. “Especially as I stand here next to your lovely wife. She has a beautiful spirit. A true lady.”
“Oh, absolutely,” Roy replied, properly chastened. He placed his arm around his embarrassed wife’s shoulders and tried to clean up his messy behavior. “This is my better half.” He looked at his watch. “What do you say, Rev? About time to wrap this up? It’s been a long day.”
“Yes, it has.”
As if on cue, Nate’s valet approached. “Reverend, are you and the first lady ready to go home? Your dinner reservation is in less than two hours.”
“Absolutely. Let’s go.”
The first couple and their entourage made proper goodbyes and left the room, but not before Destiny pulled Bethany aside. Roy was uncouth but harmless, so the words spoken weren’t about him. They concerned Bethany’s sister-in-law, Janet, and what Destiny believed she saw from the dais, evident even through heavy makeup. Her thoughts also centered on Janet’s husband, Roy Miller ’s brother Ronald, and what she’d seen while King was preaching, and wished she hadn’t. Observations that left her with no appetite for tonight’s dinner, and butterflies about how much of what she’d seen should be shared with her hot-tempered husband. Wrong place, wrong person and Ronald’s lewd actions could land him in jail. But knowing how Nate would react if he she told him Destiny feared that he, and not Ronald, would be the one to catch a case.
( Continued... )
© 2015 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Lutishia Lovely. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.
Order today: A Date With Destiny (The Hallelujah Series)
Contemporary Fiction; Women's Fiction