Why Atlanta Was The Setting Choice for My Latest Novel.

I moved to Atlanta in October 1989 to take a clinical social work position at Emory University Hospital.  It wasn’t long after, I became fast friends with a social worker who was embroiled in a sizzling affair with a married man. As our friendship grew, she told me about her entertaining, juicy affair, a story I thought one day would make a good romance novel. 

As a wide-eyed transplant from Seattle, I found Atlanta rich with history and quite intriguing. Not only was the city the capital of the state of Georgia, but it also was and still is the most populous, multicultural and economically driven city in the entire state. Metro Atlanta is home to 5.9 million people and it boasts the nickname “city in a forest.” The nickname stuck with the city because of it’s sprawling landscape of green vegetation and beautiful dogwood trees.

 Atlanta is home to Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, Home Depot, AT&T, Chick-Fil-A, UPS, as well as higher learning institutions such as Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Morehouse and Spellman Colleges.  The city is notable for its role in the civil rights movement in the 1960’s. Atlanta became the meeting place for civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He met with activists at the historical restaurant Paschal’s to strategize and organized marches. Many years later, Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics earning a reputation as an upscale city to live and work.

Atlanta, with its mild winters and hot, humid summers, rocks a beautiful skyline. Affectionately referred to as the “New York of the South”, on a clear, sunny day, the city’s skyscrapers give the area an impressive regal flair. Atlanta has many mecca offerings such as the arts, theatre, professional sports, festivals, as well as night club entertainment. The city draws thousands of visitors throughout the entire year making it one of the best places to vacation. There is always something to do in the “HOT ATL”, another affectionate nickname given to the city by the locals.

In the novel, Whiskey and Merlot A Love Story, Isabelle’s and Lincoln’s first date was at the La Carousel Lounge Jazz Club on Martin Luther King Way near downtown Atlanta. The club was housed in a popular restaurant called Paschal’s back in the day, and this is where Isabelle and Lincoln had their first date.  To read more about their romantic date, tune in next Saturday for another excerpt from Whiskey and Merlot A Love Story.  Thank-you For Reading.

Excerpt From The Novel Whiskey And Merlot A Love Story

Isabelle Perkins meets Lincoln Davis for the first time at an evening part-time job she is applying for. Enjoy!

There sat a man with smooth, ebony skin. His chiseled, lean face and velvety smooth lips complimented his captivating mocha colored eyes. His entire essence was sensual and reeked of calm confidence. Isabelle stared, taking him all in. Two women hovered near his cubicle, competing for his attention. Isabelle sighed, shaking her head. “Damn, he’s fine!” she muttered to herself as she casually strolled by him.

He pulled erect, and his six-foot four-inch stature towered over everyone. Their eyes met, and he winked at Isabelle. His smooth lips parted into a shy smile, and Isabelle looked away, mortified. Damn, so embarrassing! 

Jo nudged her shoulder, and Isabelle turned to face her. “Let’s go to the break room. I need you to watch a boring video.”

“Great,” Isabelle mumbled heaving a sigh of relief. 

The break room had a fully equipped kitchen with a refrigerator, stove, and microwave. Two bowled sinks sat in a marbled granite counter, and three round tables with six chairs were lined up next to each other in the middle of the room. 

“There’s tea in the cabinet,” Jo said. “Make yourself at home. I’ll be right back.”

Jo left the room, and Isabelle tossed her handbag on the table. She blew out her cheeks and sat. Isabelle decided to forgo the tea, preferring a hot cup of Starbucks coffee instead. She needed the caffeine to wake her tired ass up!

Yawning from exhaustion, she sat there.  Alexis, her daughter, soon came to mind.  She wondered if  Rosette would take care of her  while she worked in the evenings. She decided he would. He better. Alexis was his daughter, too!

Isabelle eyed the Essence Magazine on the table and grabbed it, momentarily leafing through the pages. Bored, she tossed the magazine back on the table and held her hand up inspecting her fingernails. 

Suddenly Isabelle felt a presence in the room. She looked up and her mouth fell open. The handsome man just walked past her table on his way to the refrigerator. Isabelle grabbed the magazine, pretending to read it, slyly peeking over it to check him out.

He was a suave one, bowlegged with a smooth, panther-like swagger. He had a full head of wavy processed black hair and was broad-shouldered with a muscular, lean frame. The light in the room enhanced the color of his glistening smooth ebony skin, and he had a commanding presence about him. Isabelle heard him yank the refrigerator door open and held her breath. Should I say something? I’m not sure… Girl, move your lips! Say something!

“Lincoln Davis,” he finally said with a husky voice. He shut the refrigerator door and Isabelle, wide-eyed, almost peed on herself. This fine-ass man is talking to me! Girl, say something back! Say something!

“Excuse me?” Isabelle said glancing up from her magazine and trying to sound annoyed.

“I’m Lincoln Davis,” he repeated as he glided over to the table. He twisted the cap off a bottle of water in one smooth move. “And your name, young lady?” he asked.

“Isabelle Perkins,” she answered as she laid the magazine on the table. She shifted in her seat, and when he smiled, she noticed the sexy gap between his two front teeth. Oh shit! Isabelle feared she would pee on herself right there in front of him.

“So, are you taking the job?” he asked with his captivating eyes locked on hers.

“I guess so,” she said fidgeting in her seat.

“You guess so?” His eyebrows slanted inward. 

She gave him a full smile, a weapon she often used to disarmed men. He was no different. “Yes, I’m taking the job.”

“Pretty smile you got there.” 

A compliment? Please stop it! You’re already killing me! “Thanks,” Isabelle replied in a coy voice. 

“So, where are you from?”


“Seattle, Washington,” he echoed back to her with his sexy gangster grin. “I always wanted to go to Seattle. After I left Michigan, I came down here instead. I never made it to the West Coast.”

“Well, that’s too bad. You missed out. The West Coast is quite beautiful.”

“So I’ve heard.”

“You say you’re from Michigan?” 


“What city?”

“Detroit…” He trailed off as Jo bounced into the room. 

She frowned when she laid eyes on Lincoln. “Don’t you have work to do?”

“Maybe,” he said, his eyes not leaving Isabelle’s.

“I think you do.” She motioned for him to leave. 

He ignored her, never once taking his eyes off Isabelle. “Miss Perkins, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I look forward to working with you,” he grinned.

“Likewise,” Isabelle smiled shyly. He whirled around and glided out of the room, disappearing into the hall. 

Jo wasted no time giving Isabelle her opinion. “Stay away from him,” she warned with intense eyes. “The man’s a player! Do you hear me?”

“Really? He didn’t come across that way,” Isabelle said, mildly irritated.

“Believe me, the man is,” she insisted. Isabelle decided to let her have her opinion. She wasn’t about to get into it over a man she hardly knew.

Until Next Time, Thank-you For Reading!

Whiskey And Merlot A Love Story

Whiskey And Merlot

An Excerpt From Chapter Eight

For a month, Lincoln stayed to himself. Isabelle, pleased with the break, admired him from afar. Every morning at seven thirty, she made herself a pot of Starbucks coffee. She relaxed at her desk and scanned the Atlanta Journal-Constitution while she waited for the coffee to brew. The coffee’s earthy aroma soon took over her office and her mouth watered as she anticipated its bold, sweet, spicy flavor. Once she heard the gurgling of the pot, she knew it was ready for consumption.

After pouring fresh coffee into a mug, Isabelle wrapped her fingers around it, enjoying the warm heat on her hands. The bold sweet flavor was soothing on her palate as the warm liquid eased down her throat. 

It was Friday morning, the end of a long, stressful work week, and she needed her coffee to get through the day.

The sudden ringing of the telephone reminded her of a squeaky wheel on a twisted metal train track. Startled, Isabelle struggled to hold on to her coffee mug as she hurriedly answered the phone. “Good morning, this is Isabelle Perkins. May I help you?”

“What are you doing this weekend?” a thick voice growled on the other end.

“Who is this?” Isabelle asked in an abrasive tone. 

“It’s Lincoln,” he chuckled.

“Whatever I’m doing, it doesn’t include you,” she fired back. He was back, just like an old rusty copper penny.

“Mmmm…we sure are feisty this morning,” he said in a playful tone.

“Lincoln, what do you want?”

“Forget it,” he said, sounding disappointed.

Isabelle quickly apologized, fearing she may have offended him. “Look Lincoln, as much as I’d like to, I can’t do this. You are married.”

“Isabelle, it’s just a drink,” he flatly reminded her. 

“I know, but I can’t.”

Frustrated and quiet, Isabelle drew in a deep breath. 

There was a long pause before he answered. “Look, think about it, Baby Girl. I’ll call you on Monday.”

Isabelle busted out laughing. 

“What’s so funny?” He sounded annoyed.

“You are such a trip. But don’t count on me changing my mind anytime soon.”

“You will,” he said with confidence. “But until then, have a nice weekend.”

“You too,” Isabelle laughed as she hung up the phone. 

She fell back in her chair, floored. His persistence and single-minded tenacity were stunning. Turned on by his sexy heavy voice, the thought of his smooth, velvety lips caressing hers stirred hot juices deep inside her. Sexually stimulated, she felt guilty and ashamed. Good gracious! The man is married! Stop it, Isabelle!

For the life of her, she couldn’t figure out why this man captivated her attention. There were plenty of single men available vying for her. Why this man? There was something about the way he connected with her. A spiritual and emotional knowing mixed with sexual, passionate energy stirring up lust inside of her and bringing on intense anxiety.

Isabelle sighed long and hard at the brevity of it all. She grabbed the coffee pot and poured more coffee into her mug. As she took a sip, Lincoln consumed her thoughts, and she worried that his pursuit of her would send her down a slippery slope. She was losing control and it would take all of her strength not to fall for him.


As soon as Lincoln hung up the phone, he left his office and took a break. As he headed to the dock, a slight odor of burning rubber sizzled in the air. Steno Corp was an optic fiber cable company outside of Atlanta. Every day, the company received new cables, and it often smelled like burning rubber.  Lincoln coughed repeatedly bothered by the smoky odor. Once he made it outside, he collapsed in a wood chair five feet from the door. Lincoln inhaled sharply, taking in fresh, cold air. He reached in his shirt pocket for his pack of cigarettes.

He tapped the pack with his right index finger until a cigarette slid out into the palm of his hand. After he stuffed the pack back in his shirt pocket, he struck a match and lit up. Soon a thin trail of wispy gray smoke swirled over his head. He coughed after every puff, and his throat stung. Many times he had thought about quitting, aware the habit could one day be a detriment to his health. However, for now, he didn’t have the will power to take on such a bruising task.

His thoughts turned to Isabelle, and he knew he had no business pursuing her. However, he was fascinated by her and drawn by her sexual energy. He imagined her curvy, petite body naked and draped in his arms with her looking up at him with those smoldering mahogany eyes, listening to her moan as he dipped deep into her hot, wet center of pleasure. The image in his head caused the bulge in his pants to stiffened like a rod.

He flinched when the cigarette he was smoking burned down to a dark, ashy nub blistering the tips of his long dark fingers. “Damn,” he said, dropping the nub on the ground and smashing it with his boot. He flinched when a shrill, screeching female voice blared over the intercom. “Lincoln Davis, you are needed in the warehouse!” He stood upright and adjusted the hard bulge in his pants. He swung the door opened and went inside.

Thank you for reading. Whiskey And Merlot A Love Story is schedule for release later this summer!

From The Author’s Corner


Whiskey And Merlot, A Love Story

Based on a real-life happily-ever-after, this is not your typical romantic fantasy. Because Isabelle Perkins doesn’t believe in fairy tales.

Newly divorced and recently transplanted to Atlanta at the age of thirty, Isabelle has never met a man she truly loves and doesn’t believe she ever will. When she meets the dashing Lincoln Davis, she’s smitten by his handsome looks and take-charge confidence. As Lincoln recklessly and persistently pursues her to escape his loveless marriage, she finds herself embroiled in a hot affair and falls in love.

Isabelle’s Christian morals and self-esteem are deeply undermined as the lines between right and wrong become irrevocably blurred. Convinced that Lincoln is her one true love, she hangs on until Lincoln is forced to break off their steamy affair, leaving Isabelle devastated and heartbroken. 

Eighteen years later, they’re paths cross again. After a sobering brush with death and now divorced, Lincoln is determined to win Isabelle back. But can she set aside her deep hurt and disappointment to let him back into her life and heart?

Thank You For Reading. Stay Tuned! Schedule For Release Later This Summer!

The Joy of Good News!

He Has Risen!

Direct quotes from the bible were used in this post. Enjoy!

Shortly after the Sabbath, on the third day of Jesus’ horrible death, Mary Magdalene and her friend Mary decided to visit his tomb. It was dawn. The sun’s yellow rays barely peeking through dense gray clouds as the two women hurried along the dusky dirt road. With tear-filled red swollen eyes, the image of Jesus’ bloody and beaten body remained fresh on their minds. They flinched, shivering when a cold breeze without warning swept over them. “It’s gotten chilly,” Mary Magdalene noticed squinting through swollen dark brown eyes. She carefully tucked her long braided brown ponytail inside her wrinkled, beige robe, clutching it tight to seal in more warmth.

Mary threw her hood over her long black hair as her light brown eyes stared straight ahead. Still a way to go, she was able to see the top of the hill. Three Roman guards dressed in red, woollen tunics and gold helmets, paced back and forth in front of Jesus’ tomb carrying swords. “We’re almost there.” Mary sighed with caution in her voice. The women trudged along, navigating the rocky, dusky terrain. The grainy rocks pierced the sole of their sandals as they walked and their feet ached with pain. Frowning, Mary stopped to rest. Mary Magdalene with her dark features clouded with worry, stood beside her patting her back. “Are you all right?”

“I think so,” Mary said starting again. They walked singled file the rest of the way as the path up the hill turned narrow and steep. As soon as they crescented the top of the hill, the ground shook violently, splitting opened behind them. Mary Magdalene screamed. ” Mary, its an earthquake! Run!” The two women ran toward the tomb as large rocks erupted like expolsives around them. The guards fell as the ground shook. Seconds later, the earth laid still. Covered with dirt, the guards struggled to their feet and the sky above bursted open. A white radiant light brighter than the sun, emerged with intense energy, hovering over the tomb, lighting up the entrance.

An angel with clothes white as snow emerged from the light, it’s appearance like lightening. With one swift move, the angel shoved the stone away from Jesus’s tomb and sat on it. The guards yelled, covering their eyes, afraid to look upon the angel. They laid on the ground rolling back and forth, trembling. Mary Magdalene and Mary dropped to their knees with heads bowed, shaking. The angel’s blazing eyes bored down on them. It’s voice, deep and roaring, exclaimed, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples!”

Shaken, Mary Magdalene and Mary rose from their looking kneeling position and crept with caution to the entrance of Jesus’ tomb. Their mouths flew open once they looked inside. Fresh old blood from Jesus’ body stained his rocky deathbed, but Jesus was nowhere to be found. “Where have they taken him?” Mary gasped looking around wide-eyed. The angel with blazing eyes said, “He has gone ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him. Now I have told you. Go.”

Afraid, but with hearts filled with joy, Mary Magdalene and Mary took off running down the hill. Several times they stumbled and fell. Quickly hurling themselves up as they raced to the bottom as fast as their sore feet carried them. As soon as they reached the bottom of the hill, Jesus abruptly appeared in front of them. His clothes were white like pure snow and a bright light radiated off his sun-kissed face. He gazed at Mary and Mary Magdalene with loving copper brown eyes. “Greetings.” He said.

Shocked, they stopped in their tracks and fell to their knees. The two women grabbed his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

As the story continues Jesus appears in Galilee and meets with the disciples. He encourages them to spread the good news of his resurrection to all the nations of the land. Since Jesus’ time, the gospel of Christianity has lasted throughout the ages. Every Spring, Christians celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection by holding church services as well as family gatherings. He gave us the gift of salvation by dying for our sins. For those of us who are Christians, it’s a time to reflect on our own salvation. Praying and reconnecting with God as we remember the reason why we are here. We are here to be a service to others. A service to our fellow brother and sister, regardless of race, nationality, age, gender or religion, just as Jesus intended. Enjoy Your Easter Everyone And Thank-you For Reading!

The Author’s Corner

Books don’t just go with you, they take you where you’ve never been.

Last summer, twice a month on a Saturday, I would spend the day selling my novels at the Marietta Square Artist Market. I sold quite a few books this way and met some very interesting people. It’s nice to know people love the feel of a book in their hands as well as a good story.

One muggy, hot Saturday afternoon, an attractive lady with brown shouldered length hair and engaging blue sunny eyes stopped by my table. The bright, vivid cover of the novel, “The Cat on Salter’s Point” caught her attention. She gave me a warm smile as she picked up the book and quickly read the synopsis on the back cover. “Are you the author?” She finally asked in her warm southern accent.

“Yes,” I answered. Her blue eyes lit up and she said, “Your book sounds intriguing. I belong to a book club. The ladies in the club take turns selecting a book for the club to read. I think I would like to purchase your book as my selection for the club.”

“Well, thank-you,” I said. “How many books do you need?”

“Seven,” she smiled.

“Seven, it is, ” I smiled back. I was delighted and amazed at the same time. This nice lady bought seven books and she didn’t know me from a hole in the wall. I signed the books and gave them to her. She paid with her credit card. However, before she left, she surprised me again. “Would you be willing to come to my book club and talk about your book?”

Although I was wearing sunglasses at the time, my dark brown eyes grew big as saucers when I heard her question. I promptly answered her, “Well, yes, I would be happy to come to your book club!”

“Let’s exchange cell phone numbers and I will call you when it’s my time to host the book club,” she excitedly said. She introduced herself as DeEnna and we exchanged cell phone numbers. She promised to call me in the near future. Then she took off. Disappearing into the thick crowd with seven copies of my first novel.

Months passed and finally, in January, I received a phone call from DeEnna. She officially invited me to her book club and the meeting was to be held at her home on the twenty-eighth of February this year. I graciously accepted her invitation, writing the date on my calendar.

So, last Thursday, I show up at her lovely home. I met eight wonderful ladies there. Needless to say, I was nervous at first, but DeEnna and her friends made me feel very welcome. DeEnna made a delectable chocolate cherry cake that melted in your mouth. It was delicious and she even shared her recipe. I was surprised to learn how simple it was to make.

As we settled in for the evening, getting to know one another, sipping on our drinks and enjoying DeEnna’s cake, the discussion turned to my book. The ladies bombard me with a bunch of questions. They were interested in my background and what inspired me to write such a book. The burning question they asked was, “Are these people real?” “Did this stuff really happen?”

My answers to both questions was a resounding “yes!” I explained to them, in the field of mental health, the profession often draws odd and crazy people. Some of them entered the profession with hopes of solving their own emotional issues which often interferes with their ability to be therapeutically effective with their clients. A situation such as this can be murky and unhealthy for all involved. Back in the day, I would often hear mental health professionals say, “Fact is stranger than fiction.”

I found this statement to be true over the years. I have known and worked with many hilarious and crazy acting professionals in the mental health field. Their crazy behavior and antics inspired me to penned two novels. When people read “The Cat on Salter’s Point” and “Three Sheets In The Wind,” they can’t believe mental health professionals actually behave this way but some of them do. More often than not.

Two ladies in the group supported my detailed explanation. They, too, have worked in similar environments with quirky, crazy co-workers. As the evening wore on, we continued with our lively conversation. I ended my visit by giving them each a copy of “Three Sheets In The Wind.” I can’t wait to hear their feedback once they have read this hilarious, dark novel! As always, thank-you for reading!

“The Cat on Salter’s Point” and “Three Sheets In The Wind” are available on Amazon.com and Google Play Store.

The Joy of Drinking Good Coffee!

Every morning I look forward to the thick scent of coffee. I love to hear it brewing in the pot. The vibrant aroma penetrates my nostrils. The coffee’s unique freshness dazzles my senses.

I pour myself a cup and my mouth waters. As I anticipate tasting the coffee’s nutty spicy flavor. I stirred a teaspoon of half and half creme into the steamy liquid and watch it turn the color of teasing tan.

I wrapped my fingers around the cup and enjoyed the warm heat on my hands. With each steamy sip, I squeezed my eyes shut. The lustrous texture linger on my palate and when the smooth brown liquid eases down my throat, it feels like I died and went straight to heaven!

Starbucks is my favorite brand of coffee. I love its strong robust flavor. When I was growing up, the old folks used to say, drinking too much strong coffee will grow hair on one’s chest. However, I view coffee differently. It has been my saving grace. Not only does it help me to maintain my sanity and not kill my crazy, toxic colleagues at work but it gives me the patience to cope with life’s stressors. Coffee is a hug in a mug. A good idea. A language in itself. It’s nothing like a strong good cup of coffee to begin one’s day!

Out Of The Mouths of Babes

I nicknamed my daughter Sweet Girl when she was two years old. She was a sweet, little thing. Jovial, rambunctious and smart with a hilarious sense of humor. Often coming up with the most funniest statements and comments.

When she was three years old, I began teaching her letters of the alphabet. She would recite them nightly before climbing into bed. She was also allergic to cow’s milk. Drinking soybean milk as a substitute and as time progress, the milk began staining her teeth. I tried desperately to wean her off the milk not only to protect her teeth but I suspected she was no longer allergic to cow’s milk.

Sweet Girl loved to eat hot cereal for breakfast every morning. Any kind of hot cereal , it didn’t matter the brand. One day, I decided to mix two tablespoons of cow’s milk in her cream of wheat along with butter and a heaping teaspoon of sugar. My suspicion proved right. She ate it all without experiencing an allergic reaction.

The following morning, while Sweet Girl was enjoying a bowl of hot, steamy oatmeal, I decided to share my discovery with her Dad. I looked over at him. He was reading the newspaper. “Sweet Girl, is no longer allergic to M-I-L-K!” As I carefully spelled out the letters of the word ” milk.” Thinking she didn’t know what was being said. I further explained. “This is the second day I have mixed M-I-L-K in her cereal and she doesn’t even know the difference!”

“Well, good, that’s an accomplishment!” He beamed.

Then Sweet Girl stopped eating. The small creases in her little forehead wrinkled and her face twisted into a frown. She pushed away her bowl of half eaten oatmeal and folded her arms across her chest. Concerned, her father asked, “What’s the matter, honey?”

This precocious little girl with the hilarious sense of humor, stood to her feet. She placed her hands on her hips looking doleful eyed. Her mahogany brown eyes glared at me and then at her Dad. She shook her head violently, raising her little voice. “Mom and Dad , pleeeease don’t put letters in my cereal anymore! It grosses me out!” Thank-you for reading!

A New Year A New Start!

I always look forward to the new year. It’s a time of reflection and to say good-bye to old habits. It’s a time to start something new. A New Year not only moves the calendar forward, but it also signifies opportunities for bringing about positive change to your personal and work life. It’s about making the world around you a vibrant better place.

Therefore, as you began the New Year of 2019, remember to be joyful and peaceful in spirit, healthy in body and mind. Stay connected to true friends and family and always live your best life! Happy New Year!

The Christmas Gift

The short story below is based on actual events. Names and the location where the event occurred have been changed to protect the privacy of the innocent.

It was Christmas Eve in Paris, Tennessee, Sunday morning in nineteen ninety-three. A wintery mix hovered over the town and mass at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church was about to begin. Carla Diego, with her red and black checkered wool scarf covering half of her face, took a seat in the front pew. Her dark brown eyes zeroed in on the divinity scene in front of her. A replica of a manger made up of wood and moss sat in the pulpit. Larger than life ceramic statues of Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus were strategically placed in the manger.

She thought about her three young sons in Sunday school and her constant struggle to financially support them. She was twenty-five years old, a single mother and she worked two minimum waged jobs everyday to make ends meet. Although, her chronological age deemed her a very young woman, spiritually and physically she felt old and worn out.

Carla inhaled sharply and bowed her head. A lock of her curly red hair fell stubbornly on her face and she tucked it behind her earlobe. She clasped her hands together and whispered a prayer until the choir bursted into loud song. Slow to open her dark brown eyes, she was drowsy and exhausted from insomnia. She stared blankly into the pulpit as she waited for Father Jennings to appear.

By the time the choir finished singing their long hymn, Father Jennings was standing behind the podium. He was wearing his usual. A long fitted black robe with gold trimming. He was short in statue and up in age. His laughing brown copper eyes panned the congregation. He gestured for them to stand and with his direction, they promptly recited the eucharistic prayer. Carla, feeling out of it, mumbled out the words. She blew out her cheeks in relief when it was over collapsing in her seat with exhaustion.

The congregation took their seats and prepare for the sermon. Getting out their bibles, eager to hear from Father Jennings. Instead, the priest had another agenda, gesturing for the congregation to put their bibles aside for a minute. He told a compelling story of an old sick retired army colonel. An eighty-eight year old who was unable to leave his home. He was physically ill with debilitating Parkinson’s disease and he suffered from depression. He needed help with his grocery-shopping and someone to cook meals. Except for a few distant cousins in Atlanta, he had no close family. He ran off his friends; his cantankerous personality the reason. He was a cranky, old fellow with a blistering nasty temper. His name was Abe Charleston and he lived in a modest townhouse community two blocks from the church.

After Father Jennings finished his story. Whispers erupted around the sanctuary. No one stepped up. No one volunteered. This bother Carla Diego. Although, she was struggling herself to keep her head above water, she felt empathy for the old man’s plight. She decided she would stop by Father Jennings office after service, to get Abe’s address and phone number. She figured since she worked part-time at Winn Dixie Grocery Store, she could bring the old man groceries once in a while.

Father Jennings silently moved his lips, citing another prayer as his large fingers made an invisible crucifix over his chest. Then he jumped right into his sermon, his message, “The Joy of Giving Back.” After he preached for thirty minutes, Father Jennings concluded the service. Carla rose to her feet and made a bee-line to his office. She made herself comfortable on the wood bench next to the door. She waited for him and it wasn’t long before she spotted him coming down the hall. She stood and greeted him with a broad, warm smile. “Father Jennings, how are you?”

“Hello my child!” As he reached for her hand and gingerly held it. “What brings you to my office?” He asked with an equally warm smile.

“Your story about the army colonel moved me. I wondered if I can get his information. I would like to help,” she revealed.

His wrinkled face lit up. “Bless you my child! Let’s go inside my office.”

He unlocked the door and she followed him inside. His office was simply decorated. Two huge leather black chairs sat in front of his shiny oak desk and the windows were stained glass. An oil painting of the adult Jesus pinned to a cross hung on the back wall. Father Jennings went into his desk drawer and grabbed his address book. His large fingers raked through the pages while Carla, getting antsy, toyed with a lock of her hair. “Here it is!” He announced, with his face beaming with excitement. “Let me jot down the information for you!”

“Thank-you,” Carla replied. He scribbled the information on a piece of paper and gave it to her. Then he cautioned. “Don’t bother calling Abe. He’s not going to answer the phone. Just make a visit!”

Worry and dread clouded Carla’s features. “Does the man have a gun? Will he shoot me if I stop by unannounced?” She asked with questioning big eyes.

“Dear child, no!” Said Father Jennings with mirthless laughter. “He’s got a temper, but don’t let that bother you.”

“Okay,” said Carla giving him a leery eye. She left his office feeling uneasy as she raced downstairs to retrieve her sons. On the way home, she drove by the townhome community Abe lived in, deciding she would visit him after Christmas.

A week later, after Carla dropped her sons off at school, she headed straight to Abe Charleston’s home. She drove into the complex and it didn’t take long to locate his townhouse. She parked her Ford Focus in front of his home and got out of the car. As she stepped to the door, a faint tobacco scent hovered in the air. Carla rang the doorbell. The sound of squeaky wheels came to the door and screeched to a halt. Her small frame flinched hard when a gruff voice boomed from inside. “Who in the hell is it?”

She shuddered. Scared to death. Then she barely blurted out. “Father Jennings sent me to visit you. I’m from Saint Mary’s Catholic Church up the street!” She said.

A roving eye pressed against the peek hole of the door. Then the door flew open and a frail, elderly man appeared. He was hunched over in a wheelchair, smoking a wood pipe. On his head, he wore an army cap decorated with service award pins with wisps of white hair sticking out from underneath. There were tobacco stains on his tan flannel pajamas and his long, sharp fingernails were stained as well. Carla’s dark brown eyes were wide as saucers and she hesitated, drawing in a deep breath. “Are you Mister Abe….Abe Charleston?” She stammered.

“Whose asking?” He growled with deep set blazing blue eyes.

“Father Jennings sent me to help you with grocery shopping and……”

Abe cut her off. “Lady, I don’t even know your damn name! Who are you?”

“I am sorry. Let me introduce myself. I’m Carla…….Carla Diego,” she stammered again, cowering down.

“So that rascal of a priest sent you here, yeh? Mind telling me what the hell for?”

“He told me you needed help with grocery shopping and meal preparation,” she iterated again with her voice quivering.

“How do I know you are not a thief?” He questioned her with his eyebrows furrowing.

Carla shot him a funny look. “Sir, I take offense to that!”

“I don’t give a damn what you take offense too! Every time I give you silly sapsuckers money to do my grocery shopping, you end up stealing from me!” He said bucking his eyes.

Carla stiffened. Aching to go off. Instead she elected to maintain her composure as she reached in her handbag. She pulled out a notepad and ink pen and scribbled down her phone number. “Look, I don’t know who stole from you, but it wasn’t me. Here’s my phone number, call me if you need some help. Goodbye Mister Charleston!”

She dropped the note in his lap and turned to leave. “Hey wait,” he said softening his tone as tension eased from his face. Carla whirled around and her dark brown eyes met his. “I do need groceries,” he admitted as he looked her dead in the eye.

Her lips curve into a smile. “Well, all right!” She answered. “Let’s work something out.”

He backed his wheelchair up against the door and Carla stepped inside. He closed the door and gestured for her to follow him. “Let’s go to the kitchen,” he suggested.

“Very well,” she said.

Abe Charleston’s townhouse was a typical man cave. In a corner in the living room sat a fifty-two inch screen TV. There were sports magazines scattered everywhere and the place reeked of stale tobacco. On the kitchen counter, he kept a collection of wooden pipes. In the sink, dirty dishes and pots were stacked to the rim and his stove was soiled with grease. “This place needs a good cleaning,” Carla muttered to herself with her hand covering her mouth.

“What’s that?” Abe growled with icy deep set blue eyes.

“Nothing,” she fibbed, suddenly feeling uneasy again. Abe reached in a drawer over flowing with crumpled up paper and pulled out his grocery list. “Here,” he said.

Carla took the list from him and briefly looked it over. “I’ll be right back!” As she rushed to the door. Abe followed her in his wheelchair. “Don’t you need some money?” He called out.

“You can pay me when I return with your groceries!” Then she opened the door and walked out. Leaving the poor man with his mouth hanging open. An hour later, she returned as promised with his groceries. Abe, beaming like a cheetah, promptly paid her.

As time went on, the two of them became close friends. Every week, on Saturday, Carla would visit Abe and stay all day. She would clean up for him, purchase groceries to last him for a week and cook him a meal. They discovered they both had a love for the game of chess. Abe’s chess set was made of greek marble and Carla fell in love with it. She often told him when she got enough money she was going to purchase a set just like his one day.

Two years later, precisely two weeks before Christmas, Abe Charleston died peaceably in his sleep. He was ninety years old. His attorney called Carla the next day after his death to delivered the bad news. There was no funeral or memorial service. Abe wanted it that way. He was cremated by the end of the week and placed in a niche in the military cemetery.

Carla mourned her old friend for several days, often enduring sleepless nights. Then on Christmas Eve morning, after a long night of tossing and turning, she threw back the covers and struggled out of bed. She opened the blinds and squinted. A blanket of fresh glistening snow covered the ground and vegetation. As her eyes adjusted to the bright snow outside, she spotted a postal worker delivering mail on her street. He stopped at her mailbox and dropped off an envelope.

She rushed to her closet and slipped on her red rubber knee high boots. She found her jacket on a chair and threw it over her shoulders. She swung the door opened and stepped outside. Her boots crunched as she navigated through the icy thick snow. Leaving size seven shoe prints along the way. When she finally arrived at her mailbox, she flipped up the lid. She gasped when she picked up the envelope. It was from Abe Charleston! The envelope was postmarked December, nineteenth, the day before he died. “So weird!” She exclaimed not believing her eyes.

She fastened the lid on her mailbox and hurried inside. She threw off her coat and kicked off her boots and then she plopped down on the sofa. She ripped open the envelope. Out dropped a check for a million dollars signed by Abe. Her mouth gaped open. He had written her a note and it said. “To my guardian angel, Carla Diego, Thank-you for your kindness and unconditional love. You made an old, cranky man happy these past two years. I am sure you will put this money to good use. P.S. The chess set you love so much is on the way! Merry Christmas! Love, Your friend, Abe.”

Tears came to Carla’s eyes. Abe’s wonderful Christmas gift was not expected. She kneeled on her knees and thank God for Abe’s friendship and their precious time together. Then she called Father Jennings. During her phone call with him, she discovered not only was Abe Charleston a multi-millionaire and a blessing to her but he was a generous undercover philanthropist to his community until the day he died. I hoped you enjoyed the story. Merry Christmas Everyone And A Happy New Year! Comments Are Welcome!