Unforgettable, My Love Has Come Along, page 1
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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Victorious By Design, LLC
Copyright © 2012 Ann Marie Bryan
All rights reserved.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9851468-1-8
I dedicated this book to Orville, my wonderful husband, best friend and partner. I love you. Thank you for your prayers, unconditional love, affection, inspiration and unwavering support.
Prologue: The One
Chapter 1 The Surprise
Chapter 2 Love Calls
Chapter 3 Pictures Please
Chapter 4 Connected
Chapter 5 Sisterly Advice
Chapter 6 Covert Actions
Chapter 7 Face To Face
Chapter 8 Raging Hormones
Chapter 9 Staying Strong
Chapter 10 Overwhelmed
Chapter 11 The Decision
Chapter 12 Home Bound
Chapter 13 Perfect Timing
Chapter 14 Precious Moments
Chapter 15 Tears
Chapter 16 Request Granted
Chapter 17 Family Ties
Chapter 18 Parting Again
Chapter 19 A Special Box
Chapter 20 Make It Happen
Chapter 21 Heart To Heart
Chapter 22 Shopping Time
Chapter 23 Good News
Chapter 24 Showers Of Joy
Chapter 25 Just Nerves
Chapter 26 Let It Rain
Chapter 27 Bed Rest
Chapter 28 Bouncing Back
Chapter 29 Great Choice
Chapter 30 Dreadful News
Chapter 31 Shower Me
Chapter 32 Let’s Rehearse
Chapter 33 Ready Set Go
Chapter 34 With This Ring
Chapter 35 The Reception
Chapter 36 A New Season
First and foremost, I am exceedingly grateful to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is the author and finisher of my faith. Thank you Lord. My life is a ministry for you.
I am indebted to my circle of love who helped to make this book a reality.
Orville, my husband. You are the one my heart loves. Thank you Honey for your patience while I write. Your love, prayers and remarkable ideas helped to fuel my desire to write to the honor and glory of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
My wonderful mom and siblings, especially my six gorgeous sisters for their unfailing love, joyous laughter and invaluable advice. I love and appreciate you more than you will ever know.
Bishop John E. Baker, my dynamic pastor, and First Lady Ann-Marie Baker, his beautiful, spirit-filled wife, for imparting timely and relevant messages from God’s word to strengthen my relationship with the Lord.
My amazing spiritual sisters and brothers, whose steadfast love and support keep me grounded in the word. Your prayers have been a source of strength and comfort, pulling me through the many seasons in my life.
Angie Singleton, author of Diamond’s Fate, for her motivation and encouragement to write and share my personal experiences about God’s love, grace, mercy and goodness to draw others to Him.
Extra special thanks to all the wonderful individuals whose great outpouring of love and tremendous support helped to foster the perfect plan of God so that “Orane” and “Annalisa” could have an unforgettable season.
No book comes together without a talented team. For their countless hours of editing, leadership, spirituality and giftedness, my sincere thanks to Millicent Battick, Shaun Battick, Ayana Matthews and Julianne Veira. Your friendship blesses me beyond measure and I am deeply grateful to you.
A surge of trepidation caused me to bolt upright on the off-white overstuffed sofa in my living room. I stared at the cordless phone as if it had just burst into flames.
This was like a bad recurring dream.
“Sister Harri,” I said in a measured tone, “I already told you that I’m not interested.” As a mark of respect, the younger members of my family added “Sister” before the names of our three eldest sisters, Maydine, Bella and Harriett, whenever we addressed them.
“Annalisa don’t you think…” Harriett was not in the least bit put off by my lack of interest.
“Why do we keep having this conversation?” I asked impatiently, while I silently plotted a respectable exit strategy.
“No pressure, but you should reconsider,” Harriett insisted.
“No thanks Sis. I’m good,” I replied grumpily. Her persistence was becoming annoying.
“Annalisa please!” she pleaded gently. “Why don’t you talk with Mr. Conway then make a decision?”
Did she not hear me? I forced myself past the screaming wall in my head and spoke quietly. “Sister Harri, let’s talk later.”
“Okay. Call me later,” Harriett said, stifling her frustration. “Remember to check your email for our flight itineraries.”
“Okay!” I murmured, staring unconsciously at the phone before dropping it on the sofa.
A deep sigh escaped my lips as I leaned back on the sofa, totally perplexed. Why was Harriett so persistent? This kind of behavior was very uncharacteristic of her. Two years later and she still kept inserting Mr. Conway’s name in our conversation.
Harriett met Mr. Conway while he was conducting business at MayPo Middle school in Jamaica where she was the principal. She admired his character and business-like manner and was totally convinced that he could be THE ONE…for me. “Mr. Conway is a Christian,” she stated proudly during a prior conversation. She knew that I would never entertain a relationship unless the man professed the Christian faith.
Still, Mr. Conway was not up for consideration.
To have a successful relationship, both persons need to at least live in the same vicinity. I could not fathom how a long distance relationship would work. Above all, I had no desire to disturb my uncomplicated life.
I would definitely disturb my simple, well-ordered, uncomplicated life if the object of my affection was in close proximity. That would be a less challenging relationship to maintain. Well, at least in my mind. Long distance relationships seemed way too complicated.
If only I could get this across to Harriett, the third born in my family of six sisters and four brothers.
As the last female born in my family and divinely assigned the eighth spot, I acquired four guardians for my life - Mama and my three eldest sisters. Quite often they exercised their motherly rights.
“Annalisa, are you dating anyone?”
“When are you going to get married?”
“Do you plan to have children?”
Then to add fire—“Your biological clock is ticking. You may be too picky, no one is perfect.”
In their defense and without a doubt, I know that they care about me. Nevertheless, I must admit that the constant questioning was aggravating at times.
I wanted to fall in love. I desired the joys of being in love; the rush, the tingle, the breathlessness, the friendship and the anticipation of
So, I waited with bated breath to know the delights of having that special someone in my life. Secretly, I asked God to send me someone special. So, I waited and waited…
While I waited, I was determined to live life to the fullest. This was NOT the suffering period before meeting someone. I simply went about the business of living my life in Godly purpose. In the deep recesses of my heart, I was convinced that God would come through in this area of my life. And come through beyond my wildest imagination.
THE STORY OF US
“This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.” (Psalm 118:23)
CHAPTER 1: THE SURPRISE
“Welcome back!” I smiled, hugging my sisters, Maydine and Harriett in the arrival area of Tallahassee Regional Airport.
Harriett joyfully clapped her hands. “It’s good to be back!”
“Good to see you Anna!” Maydine said smiling. Her light brown eyes sparkled with excitement. “Let me look at you!”
I giggled foolishly as Maydine twirled me, while belting out squeals of excitement. I was nine years old again. I grew up with Maydine, the first born in our family. She hugged me tightly and then lightly cupped my face with both hands. “Let me see what has changed.”
I grinned at her. “Nothing has changed.”
“Right,” Maydine said, with raised eyebrows.
“I am going to cancel your mothering rights,” I playfully warned her.
Maydine chuckled, admiring my slender, 5’ 7” frame. “No more fun at your expense. You look great.”
“Yes, you do,” Harriett said, joining the conversation.
“Awww! Thanks!” I beamed. “I feel like doing a group hug.”
“Just don’t start crying out here,” Harriett said, and we all giggled.
A few minutes later, we loaded the suitcases and carry-ons in the trunk of my burgundy Toyota Camry and drove away.
“What’s on our itinerary?” Harriett asked, snuggling comfortably in the passenger seat.
“I hope you’re ready to roll,” I responded smiling.
She groaned loudly. “We only have two weeks!”
“A lot can happen in two weeks,” I told her comfortingly.
“Yes Harriett, Anna will make sure of that!” Maydine chimed in.
“Definitely,” I said confidently. “As usual, I have a great line up of activities including a picnic on the beach.”
“A beach trip?” Harriett exclaimed while Maydine broke out in hysterical laugher.
“We must go to the beach,” I insisted dramatically. “It’s calling!” Harriett chuckled. “It’s calling you! You know, we cannot swim.”
“Be brave my sisters,” I begged in a perfect British accent, “throw caution to the wind.”
“Since you put it like that, I’m ready,” Harriett declared unreservedly. “So am I,” Maydine quipped softly.
“Alrighty!” I piped up. “So, how is it going in my sunny homeland?”
“Jamaica is great!” Maydine responded spontaneously.
“Yes,” Harriett agreed. “We are experiencing heavy rain island-wide but we needed it.”
I smiled at Harriett. “Perfect!” Beautiful Jamaica! Sometimes I miss the island life, the people, hmm definitely the food. “Did you bring any Jamaican food?”
“Food?” Harriett exclaimed with knitted brows. “Ohhh no! All that complaining about gaining weight when we are around.”
I snickered and Maydine chuckled softly. My sisters were not only great company but talented cooks. Usually, I do all the eating and the evidence of their superb cooking stayed with me long after they were gone.
“No complaining this time round!” I reassured her giggling. “I’ll wait until you leave.”
“Shameful!” Harriett playfully scolded me while Maydine laughed loudly. “But, thanks for the heads up!”
“I promise to be good!” I said innocently.
“I am sure you will be,” Harriett said, rolling her eyes. “Tallahassee I miss you!”
“I can tell Tallahassee misses you too,” I teased.
“Yes,” Maydine said playfully.
Harriett pressed her lips together and her eyes narrowed. “O… kay, so it’s going to be like that, both of you joining forces against me.”
“No!” Maydine and I responded in unison, way too quickly.
“Right!” Harriet retorted in a dry voice, still taking in the scenery.
“We all love Tallahassee,” Maydine said, tapping Harriett on her shoulder.
“Yes,” I acquiesced quietly.
Tallahassee, Florida. Hmmm?
Four years later, who would have thought I would be here? My plan was to complete my studies then relocate to a faster growing metropolitan area. But, through the years, the city grew on me. I enjoyed living in Tallahassee, with its serene settings and peaceful environment.
As we journeyed home, the Wednesday afternoon heat finally gave way to showers of rain. I heaved a sigh of relief and flicked on the windshield wiper hoping to see through the white rain. It was a perfect respite from the heat on this hot summer day.
“Anna, drive slowly.” Maydine sounded breathless. She was perched at the edge of the back seat with a strangled hold on my head rest.
“Yes Sister Maydine,” I replied reassuringly.
“Tallahassee and the white rain,” Harriett murmured. “Can you see the yellow line?”
“Yes Sis and I have my hazard lights on.”
“Good, good,” Harriett said softly.
Shortly thereafter, the rain subsided into a drizzle and we made it safely to my beautiful three-bedroom townhome.
A week later…
Home sweet home! Time to feast!
These were the thoughts that invaded my mind as I drove home from work. As I anticipated, my sisters certainly did not disappoint me. The wonderful aroma of their cooking greeted me the moment I closed the door. Within minutes, we sat down to a sumptuous meal of authentic Jamaican brown stewed chicken, steamed rice and peas, fried plantains, tossed vegetable salad and carrot juice. The food was truly satisfying to my body; albeit, my clothes were getting a little bit snug.
“I know that look!” Harriett’s voice permeated my wondering thoughts.
I grinned at her as she eyeballed me at the round four-seater mahogany dining table. “What look?” I asked, stalling for time.
Maydine chuckled softly as she watched the drama unfold.
Harriett refused to back down. “If I hear anything about gaining weight, I will…”
“Sis, take it easy.” I smiled, patting her shoulder. “Thanks to you both, I just had a great meal. I promise, no talking about gaining weight.”
“At least not today,” Maydine declared grinning.
“Stop it!” I pushed my chair away from the table and feigned a look of shock and hurt. “Is that a good thing to say?’
Maydine burst into a fit of laughter. “If only you could see your face,” she said, managing to get her laughter under control.
“Don’t let me cancel your mothering rights,” I warned her as Harriett pursed her lips and sighed.
I touched Harriett’s hand and flashed a smile that was supposed to ease the hurt. “Pay no attention to what Sister Maydine just said. You know that I enjoy your cooking.”
“Way too much,” Maydine interjected chuckling.
“Mother! Behave yourself.” My eyes were filled with laughter as I eyeballed at her.
“Fine!” Maydine jerked upright and her eyes lit up as she stretched lazily. “Let’s watch a movie.”
“Sign me up. R
Harriett loudly cleared her throat to get attention. “I know you are not saying that!” she exclaimed, looking at me quizzically.
“What?” I inquired, totally puzzled.
“I asked you to go walking with me after dinner, and you said no.”
“It’s too hot!”
Harriett grinned. “You are getting a little round in the middle.”
“Huh?” I gaped at her and they burst into laughter at my expression. I recovered rapidly. “I am going to pray for both of you.”
A few minutes later, we stacked the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and moved to the living room.
“Let’s watch NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service),” Harriett requested. She was hooked on NCIS, a TV series involving a team of fictional agents who investigates crimes involving the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.