Unforgettable, My Love Has Come Along, page 4
“Tell me about it,” Arianna said sarcastically. “Seven years later and no ring. I kept hoping that Ray would change.”
“Ari, I know it’s hard but…”
“The white picket fence collapsed before my face.” She sighed and her gaze dropped to the wooden floor.
I nudged her. “You know you deserve the best and don’t you forget it.”
“I know Anna.” She exhaled deeply. “I have been building back my relationship with the Lord. But I still feel that I need to have my head examined for staying in the relationship so long.”
“Don’t beat up yourself. In fact, don’t even think it; that’s the plan of the enemy to keep you in bondage.”
She smiled slightly, resting her elbows on the table. “You’ve always been so encouraging.”
I tapped her shoulder. “You know that you deserve someone to treat you like the queen you are.”
Arianna nodded and her slender frame drooped as she looked sadly into the distance. “I am so afraid to start over,” she said quietly.
“Ari, any man would be extremely blessed to have you. Don’t short change yourself.”
Her large blue-grey eyes brightened. “Thanks my friend! I forgot that I am a child of God.”
“Girl, God loves you so much.”
“I know. I have been crying out to Him. I need someone to treat me right but I need to start believing that I should be treated right.”
“We learn as we go along,” I consoled her. “I know you’ve been reviewing the scriptures on love.”
“Yes, still going through. I need to get me back!”
“There you go my friend. I have been praying for you!”
“Yes, I know. Thank you for being there…for your prayers… and your love.”
“Don’t even mention it, that’s what sisters do. When one door closes, you better prepare yourself because in the right season, God will open double doors for you.”
“High five!” Arianna yelled, grinning as our hands met. “Yes Lord, double doors, please!”
“You should begin to think about the qualities that you desire in a husband,” I suggested.
“I’ll do that. Do you know the qualities that you desire in a mate?”
“Of course! He must definitely be a Christ…”
“Girl, I know he must be a Christian. What else?”
I giggled at her mock sternness. “He must be a praying man with a heart after the Lord.”
Arianna rolled her eyes then grinned. “Yeah, yeah, all of the above.”
“Good to see you smiling Ari.”
Arianna sighed deeply. “Sometimes you meet someone you like but he doesn’t like you. Then another time, someone will like you and you don’t feel the same way. I believe one day, one day all that will be synchronized for me. In the meantime, I’m gonna live it up.” Arianna began to sing and dance her rendition of “Single Ladies (Put a ring on it)”, Beyonce Knowles’ popular song.
I laughed loudly and cheered as she danced from the dining room to the living room and ended with a dramatic pose. “Go on girl, take back the power. You are a survivor.”
She grasped the edge of the sofa for support. “Ohhhh, that was my stress reliever!”
I giggled even more as she sprawled out on the sofa.
“So, what about you?” Arianna asked breathlessly. “I saw you blushing on those calls. Yes girlfriend, I saw you. Let me have it.”
“Okay,” I said sheepishly, flopping down on the sofa across from her. “FYI (for your information), I am developing a friendship and hopefully a relationship.”
“Yippee! Yippee!” Arianna screamed dancing around.
Her smile broadened and her eyes widened. “Who is the lucky man?”
“His name is Orane. We have not yet met. We’ve been communicating by phone. I will be spending Christmas in Jamaica so we will meet then.”
“Ooooh!” Arianna threw her hands in the air. “This is good news.”
I gave her the short version of how Orane and I began. By the time I was finished, she visualized Orane and I walking off into the sunset.
“Here comes the bride,” she sang, pretending to walk up the aisle.
“Sit down and stop being a mess,” I playfully scolded her.
She giggled and with squeals of delight, collapsed on the sofa. “Have you chosen a color for your wedding?”
I looked at her in utter disbelief. “Stop it.”
“I think you should start preparing yourself,” she continued cheerfully. “By the looks of things, it will be quick.”
“I am not the type to start wedding plans before I get a proposal,” I said with disdain. “I am not even in a relationship.”
“Don’t be a spoil sport, let’s visit wedding sites and save them to Favorites.”
“Seriously Arianna Simpson, you are ‘off the chain’!”
“Come on,” she said, grabbing her laptop from the coffee table.
“I cannot be involved in this foolishness,” I said, hurrying towards my bedroom. “I have to prepare for church.”
“Annalisa come on, you know we have time.”
I threw myself across my bed. Thank God, I escaped. I was barely acclimatized to having a special friend in my life.
“Anna, come here a minute please!” Arianna shouted.
I slid off my bed and stood in the doorway. “Yeessss!”
Arianna was still on the sofa in the living room, gazing intently at the screen of her laptop. “Are you coming to look at the wedding sites? I will email you other links when I get home.”
“Spoil sport!” she pouted.
“I don’t want to be involved in all that.”
“I think burgundy is an awesome color. Please don’t go with pastel shades.” Her eyes were filled with excitement. “Do you have any color in mind?”
I looked at her as if she had lost her mind. “Let me see…Nope.”
“Okay, if that’s the way you’re gonna be.”
“I am going to get ready for church.” I lifted my hands in the air and danced. “I have to get my praise on.”
“Fine! At least show me his picture.”
I stared blindly at her. Ouch! Brain freeze!
“What is wrong with you? I only asked to see his picture.”
“Let me get to my email.”
My hands felt sweaty as I logged into my email account on her laptop. “There he is,” I said breathlessly.
“What are you all nervous about? He is a nice looking man.”
“He is?” I swallowed hard. “He is.”
“Yes, he is,” Arianna said, with one eyebrow raised. “Let me enlarge it…let see 150%…there, very nice.”
“O…Okay, can I close out now?”
“Yes ma’am! Keep that nice man locked away. I’m definitely preparing for your wedding.”
I looked at her baffled. “Did I mention that I am not in a relationship?”
“But you are. You just won’t admit it,” Arianna said pointedly.
I glared at her and she burst into hysterical laughter.
“You should see your face,” she said, heading upstairs to the guest room.
“Oh stop it!” I yelled, and with that I bolted for my bedroom.
After church, I waved goodbye to a giggling Arianna. Her jet black curly hair bounced up and down with her movements as she joyfully gestured to me before pulling away. She was still in full blown preparation for my wedding day.
CHAPTER 6: COVERT ACTIONS
“Father, let your will be done on earth in our lives as it is established in heaven,” Orane earnestly prayed.
That night, I sat on the carpet in my bedroom as Orane and I bombarded heaven with prayers. As Orane prayed, the atmosphere was charged with the presence of God. I wept before the Lord, thanking him for His goodness and mercy throughout my life.
“Annalisa, are you okay?” he asked calmly at the end of the prayer.
“God is awesome.”
“Totally,” I agreed quietly. “I have always felt that the Lord watches over me.”
“He does. He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
“Yes,” I acquiesced softly, adjusting my position so that my back rested against the wall.
“Are you baptized?” Orane asked.
“Yes. I was baptized the summer before I left for college in Jamaica.”
“I was baptized twice,” he remarked, “the first time was in my early teens and the second, when I recommitted my life several years ago.”
“Praise the Lord,” I cheered.
“Annalisa,” Orane paused.
“Yes.” Unconsciously I held my breath; something in his voice requested my undivided attention.
“I know that we have not met but there is a settling in my spirit about us. I would like to get to know you more and if all goes well, I would like to marry you, if you would have me. You already have my heart.”
Someone please check my pulse!
My eyes widened and my heart pumped with excitement as I spoke. “Orane, I have never felt so connected to anyone. Yes. I will marry you if all goes well with us.”
“Great!” he shouted with exuberance. “I have found the one my heart loves.”
My mind raced and butterflies danced around in my stomach as his words pierced my heart.
Then the “bomb” drop occurred.
“I know that you’ll be in Jamaica in another two months but I would like to visit you in Tallahassee,” Orane said quietly.
I was shocked into silence as several emotions swirled through my mind.
Say something! “I…I…”
“You can think about it,” he said. His words sounded light but I could hear disappointment in his voice.
“No!” I exclaimed, trying to steady my heart rate. “I mean, I would really like that.” I buried my head in the pillow to muffle my screams of delight.
“Great! I’m thinking of visiting you in three weeks’ time.”
My heart palpitated so hard that I could hardly hear myself think. “Three weeks’ time is good,” I responded breathlessly.
Orane exhaled deeply. “Now I can say, see you soon!”
I giggled softly. “You sure can!”
After Orane and I said goodnight, I laid in bed praying and thinking. Orane’s heart was fully committed to our friendship and potential relationship. However, I was not ready to articulate my feelings for him. I needed to conduct checks and balances, because of all that was at stake. I was too close to the situation to properly assess it.
I needed more eyes.
Godly trained eyes.
It was time to call in reinforcement.
Two days later, I asked Kay, one of my closest friends to meet me for lunch. To know Kay is to love her. She was a wonderful, kindhearted and gracious woman of God. I met Kay through Maydine and Harriett, five years ago during my summer vacation in Tallahassee. A year later, during my period of study, I worked as Kay’s teaching assistant at Colgana Elementary School.
I knew that Kay would be honest with me as I solicited her help with navigating my newfound friendship.
“You are glowing,” Kay remarked, when she joined me for lunch at Zali Italian Restaurant.
“No, look at you! You’re looking great.” I smiled at her. Kay was still rocking a new blunt cut hair style. “How are the boys and hubby doing?”
“They are doing well. So what’s…?” Kay asked breathlessly, only to be interrupted by Jovan, the waiter.
We quickly ordered soups.
Kay eyeballed me. “You had me on pins and needles coming here. What’s up?”
“I met someone,” I blurted out, grinning from ear to ear.
Kay clapped her hands with glee. “Yes,” she exclaimed, throwing her hands in the air.
“Ah, let me rephrase.”
My conversation with Kay was punctuated with ohhhs, ahhhs and loud outbursts of laughter as I brought her up to speed on my friendship with Orane.
“You and Orane are incredibly attached to each other,” she commented as Jovan placed our soups on the table and left.
“Yes but I don’t believe in long distance relationships. They can be challenging and difficult at their worst.”
Kay swallowed a few spoons of her soup then looked intently at me before speaking. “I hear you say challenging and difficult, but not impossible.”
I smiled knowingly. “Right. I will miss the face-to-face interaction, the frequency of seeing him whenever I desired, not to mention maximum trust is required. We already spoke about the trust factor.”
“I am not down-playing any of that,” Kay reassured me. “I know that you are praying and so will I. Since you have not yet met him, take it in stages.”
“Yes, that’s true. Let me not run ahead of myself. We did say that we would get to know each other more.”
“That’s great. Keep doing what you are doing, clarifying each other’s values, beliefs and commitment.”
“Yes,” I replied thoughtfully.
I swallowed a spoon full of soup then looked up to find Kay grinning at me.
“Have you spoken about finances, sex and all?” she asked.
I blushed. “Of…of!”
Kay laughed then suddenly stopped with raised eyebrows. “Yes, you did! Knowing you, all topics and subtopics were covered.”
I grinned at her. “You know I covered every topic in the book and out of the book”
“Your name would not be Annalisa Jones if you didn’t,” Kay beamed, stirring her soup. “Does Orane know what he is getting into?”
“Oh stop it! He knows Proverbs 18:22.” I smiled sheepishly, feeling an unexpected tingle of nerves.
Kay laughed and repeated the scripture verse. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.”
“Amen!” I declared.
Kay gently smiled at me, her spoon full of soup poised in front of her mouth. “He must be a special man. I have never seen you so energized and alive.”
“Yes. He is special,” I beamed.
“Great! So continue to keep each other informed about family life, friendships and daily events to keep your relationship alive.”
“Yes. If we commit to a relationship, we also need to set the limit on how long we will be apart.”
Kay nodded. “Remember, God is good. Commit everything to Him and trust Him.”
“Thanks Kay! I appreciate you,” I said softly.
“You’ll be alright. Just take it in stages.”
Half an hour later, I journeyed back to work feeling more enlightened and in touched with my feelings about a long distance relationship with Orane. Orane and I needed to be extremely secured and satisfied with each other for our long distance relationship to work successfully.
The next day, I placed a call to Melissa, my seventh ‘adopted sister’. Melissa and I met during our college years in Jamaica and we have been close friends ever since. An intercessor and prayer warrior, Melissa was a remarkable woman and a wonderful human being with an amazing personality.
Melissa was elated when I informed her of my friendship with Orane. Her shouts of joy echoed through the telephone and she openly thanked God for His faithfulness.
Since Melissa operated as the Branch Manager for a full service bank, I knew that she was sharp at garnering information from her clients so I told her to utilize her skills on Orane. I had arranged for Orane to pick up a small package from her before his trip to Tallahassee.
“I’ll see what I can find out,” Melissa modestly promised.
Melissa had strict instructions to observe him, in conversation and body language.
“You should be ready to answer any question I ask you concerning Orane,” I warned her.
In her usual manner, Melissa laughed. “I will do my best. Take everything in stri
“Thanks Mel, I appreciate you!”
The next day, I emailed Melissa:
“…Last night, Orane told me that his heart is fragile so I am not to destroy it. He feels that we are not totally on the same page emotionally. I told him that it takes me a while to make up my mind. I feel pretty good about him. Actually, I can’t wait to see him. All I do is pray. I do not want to have a broken heart myself. My head space can’t take it so I am cautious…with one foot out.”
Almost two weeks later, Melissa informed me that Orane would be picking up the package that day. I was on pins and needles awaiting word from her. Finally, during lunch, the long awaited call came.
“How was he?” I asked excitedly. I had camped out at my usual spot, the gazebo near my office.
“Oh, he is good to go,” she said calmly.
“Mel, this is no time to hold back,” I threatened playfully. “Tell me!”
Melissa chuckled. She clearly anticipated my reaction. “He’s deep in terms of his walk with God and his purpose in life. He spoke about his love for the Lord and indicated that he desired a wife who loves the Lord. In fact, that’s what he desires most in a wife.”
Excitement filled Melissa’s voice. “He believes that you fit the bill even though he has not met you.”
“What else?” I whispered breathlessly.
“He is well groomed and well spoken. I know you would like that.”
I giggled knowingly. “Mel, you are too much.”
“He seems like a very serious man,” she pointed out.
“Oh yes. He is quite something. Describe him.”
“He is medium height say 5’9”, slim, dark, lean, nice looking man.”
“What’s his shoes size?”
“Nine, ten, eleven, who knows,” Melissa said laughing.
“My, you’re good,” I said playfully. “I will definitely use you for my next investigation.”
Melissa giggled. “I also did some digging.”
“That’s what I am talking about!” I beamed. “You are officially Private Investigator M. What did you find out?”
“Good reports so far. This lady’s reaction was immediate and spontaneous. She said that Orane is always sharing about the goodness of God.”