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Authors: Yolonda Tonette Sanders

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BOOK: In Times of Trouble
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“I doubt this Kyle character will even make it to college,” she scoffed.

“How can you say that? You don't even know him.”

“And based on last night, I don't have a desire to. I don't want you hanging out with him again.”

“Why not? We're just friends.”

“Well, not anymore. He sounds like bad news.”

“But—”

“I don't want to hear it. I'd better not hear anything about you and him again. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yeah. . .”

“Excuse me?”

“Yes, ma'am.”

“Because of this stunt you pulled, you won't get a taste of freedom until graduation day. So for the next month, there will be no TV, no telephone, no computer, no video games, no nothing! I hate to be like this, but had you told me the truth from the beginning, things could have been less severe. You know that I'm not going to tolerate lying under any circumstances.”

“Can I still go to King's Island with Gericka on Memorial Day?”

“No. If you really wanted to go, you should have thought about that before last night.”

Chanelle grunted.

“And give me your cell phone.”

“Why? It was a Christmas present from Grandma. She's paying the bill; shouldn't she be the one to take it from me? I'm gonna be grown soon and you're still treating me like a child.”

Lisa ordered herself to stay cool so she'd keep from laying hands on Chanelle. “You think turning eighteen this summer will make you grown? Grown folk pay for their own stuff. I don't give a flying firecracker who bought it. I said give it here and that's exactly what I mean.”

Chanelle grudgingly reached down in her purse and shoved the phone toward Lisa.

“Since you'll have a lot of time on your hands, I suggest you use it to find yourself a summer job and save up enough bus fare for when you start college. If I can't trust you with my car while you're living in my house, there's no way I'm going to be able to trust you with it when you go to college. Because of your irresponsibility, you will not be driving my car all summer.”

Chanelle had applied to and already been accepted by a local college. Since Chanelle was planning to live in the dorms, Lisa had considered buying her a car for graduation, but not anymore. Not after this! Maybe Lisa would reconsider and get it before Chanelle officially started school, but she was going to make her bus it all summer, for sure. “Anything could've happened to you last night while you were out dressed like a li'l hoochie. The officer told me that they'd just found a body in an alley over there. He escorted me to my car and I still didn't feel completely safe. All those people hanging outside on the corners. . .what in the world were you thinking? I guess that's the whole point. . .you
weren't thinking. Well, I've said everything I have to say. Is there anything else you'd like to add?”

“Would it matter if there was?”

“Hurry up and finish drinking that tea so we can get to church. The sanctuary is the safest place for you right now because your smart mouth is really working my nerves!”

CHAPTER 5
Who ‘Dis?

“Hey, I wanted to let you know that I'm back home now.” Olivia called Lisa late Monday afternoon.

“How was the trip?”

“Great. I wish Isaac could've come back with me; I miss him already.”

“How long is he going to be in New York?”

“Until his case is over, which could be at least another month.” Olivia's husband was a very well-known and established attorney with a law business that was continually growing. “To whom much is given, much is required. I miss my baby, but I try not to complain about all the traveling he has to do. Girl, I remember when the brotha couldn't pay someone to hire him. Now he has law firms in seven states!”

“That's great.”

“Naw, girl, that's God! In just three months this new office in New York has already earned him retainers of one-point-two million dollars from clients. Now you know that's nothing but the favor of God.”

“Ain't that the truth!”

“I considered returning late last night or early this morning
because of the weekly board meeting, but I figured no one would die if I missed this one. I didn't feel like rushing back.”

“I'm sure they survived.” Olivia was one of the board members of Brentson Technologies, the company where Lisa worked. With her and Isaac being large investors in the company as well, Olivia had a lot of clout around the place. In fact, when Lisa wanted to ensure that things got done around here, she knew Olivia would make it happen, like with the new time-reporting system that was recently installed.

With a name like Brentson Technologies, Lisa's employer should have done away with antiquated time sheets and implemented a computer-based reporting system long ago, but last Monday was the first day that employees were introduced to the “new way of doing things.” As Head of the Human Resources Department, Lisa was forced to work a lot of overtime last week, dealing with training sessions, computer glitches, and staff complaints. She had been pushing for the new system for quite some time, but her proposals continued to get “tabled.” Telling Olivia about the situation was all it took to expedite things. What Lisa had been trying to do for months was settled within a few short days once Olivia got involved, proving how much of an impact she had on what did and did not get done around here.

“How was church yesterday?” Olivia asked.

“It was good. . .I guess. To be honest, I was zoning in and out a little.”

“Why? Were you tired?”

“I was tired and stressed.” Lisa filled Olivia in about the weekend's events.

“Chanelle knows better. Teenagers can surely put us through some stuff. Isaac and I had our share of issues with Justin. We got through it and so will you. Before you know it, this incident will be a distant memory.”

“You think?”

“Trust me. . .it gets better.”

“Girl, I hope so because that child is driving me up a wall.”

Olivia laughed. “She'll be all right. She's strong-willed and one day that'll come in handy when dealing with people. One thing I like about Chanelle is that the sistah is not fazed by Justin's popularity. I don't want Justin to get big-headed because you know once he's drafted all kinds of little sluts will be throwing panties at him. Maybe hooking up with Chanelle can be what he needs to stay humble, but we can't force a match. If they get together, it'll have to be on their own.”

“Yeah, I know. . .” Lisa was starting to lose hope. Justin was perfect for Chanelle, but she couldn't see it. “Girl, let me get off this phone and finish my work so I can get out of here. Minister Freeman and I are having dinner at six.”

“Again
?
Y'all are getting awfully cozy. It's four o'clock already; you should be heading out now. What you really should've done was leave early.”

“I thought about it, but I have an IT presentation in the morning and I didn't want to take work home with me. I'm going to leave from here and meet Minister Freeman at the restaurant.”

“I don't see why you keep calling him Minister Freeman instead of his name.”

“Because that's how he was introduced to me and he hasn't told me anything different. You call him by his first name, but you've known him longer than I have.”

“Yeah, well, it sounds like you may be getting to know him much
better
than I do,” she teased.

“Shut up. We're just having dinner, that's all.”

“So you say. . .I suspect before long, we'll hear wedding bells. Just make sure you invite me to the wedding.”

“Why would the matron of honor need an invitation?”

Now the very best of friends, Lisa and Olivia initially met under frightening circumstances only a few months after Lisa first moved to Ohio. They were trapped on an elevator when the electricity went out. Confined for hours and not knowing whether or not they'd live to tell about it, they'd shared many personal things with each other that day and bonded in a way that Lisa had never done before with any other female—not even her biological sister. Despite their eleven-year age difference, their friendship was so solid that one would think it stemmed from childhood. No matter what the situation, Olivia never failed to have Lisa's back and vice versa.

Lisa's assistant poked her head through the door. “Liv, I have to go, Megan needs me.”

“All right, but tell your man I said ‘hey.' Call me afterwards so I can start planning the bridal shower.”

“Bye, you nut! I'll talk to you later.” She hung up, laughing. “Olivia is so silly.”

“I'm sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt. I wanted to see if there was anything you needed before I go.”

Lisa loved Megan, who had been working as her administrative assistant since Lisa's first day at Brentson Technologies. She was a quiet person and always willing to go the extra mile. She looked almost Albino with her pale skin and stringy blond hair. Though Megan always wore a smile, her sadness shone through her eyes. Her sorrow was a result of having lost her husband while he served in Iraq. Now Megan was left to raise their young son on her own.

“Thanks, Meg, but I don't need anything. You can go now if you want. Lord knows you've earned the right with all the overtime you put in. I appreciate you staying over with me last week.”

“You're welcome.”

“Things should be a breeze from here on out.”

“I can already tell a difference today. I don't know what you said to Olivia, but whatever it was, thank you. She really got the ball rolling with this new system.”

Lisa smiled, slyly. “It pays to have friends in persuasive positions.”

“I know. . .it's so cool that my boss is best friends with Olivia Scott. Her husband is like
the
go-to attorney for any and everyone on the A-list throughout the country. And I swear she has to be on almost every important committee or board in Columbus. I'm surprised they're still around here. The media always reports him in some other part of the country working on a case.”

“Yeah, well as you know, they both have strong family ties here.”

“Either way, I'm in awe. Olivia is like the Oprah Winfrey of Columbus. And you're. . .you're like her Gayle.”

“Thanks, but we have our own identities. I'd prefer to be called Lisa.” She chuckled.

As Lisa's assistant, Megan enjoyed many of the perks that having Olivia on the board of Brentson Technologies brought with it. Like Lisa, Megan took advantage of things like paid time off work without officially having to submit leave slips or extended lunches. Usually such fringe benefits only extended to company execs, but thanks to Olivia, Lisa—and Megan—got access to special privileges.

“Well, I guess I'll go ahead and get out of here.”

“Okay, you have a good evening and I'll see you tomorrow.”

It was about ten after four when Megan spun out of the office and Lisa tried calling home. Surprised that no one answered the phone, she tried calling Chanelle's cell phone and busted out laughing when it vibrated in her purse. Duh. . .she'd taken it from her. Lisa tried her mother's cell phone.

“Mama, is Chanelle with you?”

“No. She's at home.”

“I just called there and she didn't answer the phone.”

“Maybe she's in the bathroom or something, but she's there. I only left a few minutes ago.”

“I was calling to say that I'm not going to be home until late. I'm meeting someone from church.”

The advantage of her and her mother attending different churches was that her mother never inquired about whom she was “meeting” with or for what. The disadvantage was that the church her mother had chosen to join was led by RJ's dad's best friend. Since his relocation to Columbus, RJ has been attending there also. Truthfully, Lisa had attended Pastor Burlington's church initially when she moved here. That was only because it was a safety net until she could learn more about the churches in the city. She never had intentions of being a permanent member.

Thankfully, Lisa met Olivia who introduced her to Abundant in Christ Church, which had many affluent members in the congregation such as the Scotts. Olivia was very active in the church, overseeing several key ministries. She was the one who got Lisa involved with the Pastor's Anniversary Committee that gave Lisa the chance to work closely with Minister Freeman whom she was going out with tonight.

“I'm just going to go to my meeting from work.”

“That's fine. I won't be gone long. I only have a few errands to run. I'll fix dinner when I get back. I had a taste for smothered pork chops anyhow.”

“Thanks, Mama.”

“No problem. . .I'll see you tonight.”

Lisa resumed working and a few minutes later, Chanelle's phone vibrated again. Initially Lisa ignored the phone, but when several
calls came back-to-back, she was compelled to see who it was. When the words “My Boo” flashed across the screen, Lisa couldn't keep curiosity from getting the best of her and she answered.

BOOK: In Times of Trouble
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