by Michelle Stimpson was an excellent read. It is a story of temptation, love, lust, anger, and betrayal. Ms. Stimpson writes a fictional novel that is inspirational and full of hope.” —Urban Reviews
Sensible single mother Patricia “Peaches” Miller isn’t about to follow in her mama’s footsteps and become dependent on a man. But when she doesn’t see eye to eye with the man she wants to marry, she knows that returning to a life of girls’ nights out, retail therapy, and chocolate peanut clusters just won’t do for her. Then Raphael, her son’s father, steps back into the picture—and clearly his attraction to Peaches is stronger than ever. There’s just one problem. Raphael has already pledged his heart to another woman.
Peaches has been praying for a perfect family for a long time. Deep down she knows this can’t be God’s idea of an answer—but can you blame a girl for hoping? Now, as she battles with temptation, and with her faith, she’s not sure which will win…
“Michelle Stimpson will have you laughing, crying and relating to each of her vivid, vocal characters.” —AAMBC Book Reviews
“Michelle’s characters always have their own vibrant personalities—this one will keep talking in your head long after the book is through!” —Kendra Norman-Bellamy
Quinn’s proposal was not a big surprise. Actually, it was one
of those “it’s about time” moments. We’d been dating exclusively
for almost eighteen months, and those karats were long
overdue, in my book. I believe in taking my time, but my
body doesn’t. Any Christian woman can be celibate when
she’s single, but throw a six-foot-tall, chocolate brown brother
with a sharp goatee and a good job in the mix . . . hmph, a
sister is liable to get all shook up. Yes, Quinn was a wonderful
man who loved the Lord, loved me, and treated my eight year-
old son, Eric, like his own. The faith was there, the love
was there, the Lord was there. But I won’t lie—my flesh was
so weak for Quinn I thought I was gonna have to go on eBay
and find me a chastity belt.
So when he finally popped the question by calling me
out and proposing onstage after the local college’s production
of A Raisin in the Sun (which he directed), I breathed a sigh of
relief. Finally, the wait was over.
Don’t get me wrong: The single life was good while it
lasted. There’s nothing like being able to do what you want to
do, when you want to do it, how you want to do it. But that
gets old after a while—thirty-four years, in my case. I suppose
if my best friend, LaShondra, were still single, it wouldn’t be
so bad. And if Deniessa, my friend and former coworker, hadn’t
married that good and throwed-off Jamal last year, I would at
least have someone to watch The Best Man with. Well, now it
was my turn to join the ranks of married women and start
the next chapter in my life. Thank you, Lord.
The first person I called with notice of my nuptials was
LaShondra. She and I had been through thick and thin, good
and bad, even black and white since she ran off and married a
white man. Let me take that back. She didn’t “run off,” but
her husband is white, and I was not expecting my girl to cross
that line. I ain’t hatin’, though. Stelson is good people. He
took some getting used to, but I’m over it now.
I hooked my cell phone up to the Bluetooth and selected
her name from the radio display.“Hey, girl,” I squealed when
she answered the phone, “we’ve got a wedding on the way!”
LaShondra screamed, “He finally did it?”
“Yes, girl,” I said with a big exhale.“We’re looking at the
first Saturday in July.”
“Congratulations! Ooh—we’ve got, what, six months to
pull this off—in July?” I knew LaShondra was already planning
things out in her head.“You told your momma yet? You
called the church yet?”
“No, I called you first, girl. You know I have to get your
“Pulleeze.” She laughed. “Quinn is a good man. I’ve always
liked him. He’s a Christian, he treats you well, he’s good
with Eric. What’s there to discuss?”
I sighed.“I guess I just had to ask you for the record, so if
something goes wrong I can be like ‘You da one who tole me
to marry him!’”
“Don’t even talk like that, Peaches. What God has joined
together, let no man—or Peaches—put asunder. This is God’s
doing and you know it. Who else could match you up with
the one man in the world who could get past your mouth
and your attitude to find the real you?”
“I do not have an attitude!” I screamed. The woman in
the next car gave me a confused look. I ignored her.
“Is this Patricia Miller I’m talking to? Oh, wait, I’m sorry.
This must be the new and improved Patricia Robertson. My
We both laughed at her enunciation of my soon-to-be
last name. We ended the conversation with plans to meet Saturday
and discuss the happy, snappy wedding. My second call
was to my mother, who almost started speaking in tongues.
“Oh, my baby! Finally! The Lord blessed you with a husband
and Eric with a father!”
“Momma, Eric has a father,” I reminded her. Raphael
wouldn’t win any Father-of-the-Year awards, but he’d been
spending more time with our son and he was finally caught
up on child support. I had to give him some kind of credit
even though I suspected his fiancée, Cheryl, had shamed him
into doing right by his child.
Next, I called Deniessa. I expected her to be ecstatic, but
her response was more dramatic than anything. She busted
out crying. I mean, boo-hooing. “Oh, Peaches, I just hope
your marriage is a million times better than mine. I want the
best for you, girl. Somebody gotta be happy, you know?”
Okay, what am I supposed to say to that—better you sad
than me? “Girl, what’s really going on? Why are you trippin’?”
She pulled in a nasty, snot-filled sniff that almost made me
disconnect her from my phone.“Go blow your nose!”
“I’m sorry,” she apologized. “Marriage is so overrated.
People don’t understand—I feel like I’m doing hard time
I imagine it is hard when you’re married to a fool. Lord,
don’t let me say that. I was tired of dealing with Deniessa’s
drama, but I couldn’t say so. After all, I was the main one
cheering her down the aisle. Matter of fact, I was cheering
everybody down the aisle, hoping to keep the line moving so
it would be my turn soon.
I searched my mind for one of those good old standby
Christian clichés to soothe her pain. All I could come up
with was, “Prayer changes things.” I said it in an old, deep,
soulful tone—like Sofia in The Color Purple would say it—for
Deniessa didn’t buy it.“Not if the person you’re praying
for is an absolute idiot.”
I was not in the mood to go down that road with her. It
always led back around to point A: She married someone she
had been living with for three years. The only reason he even
asked her to marry him was because she gave him an ultimatum.
I can’t blame Jamal—he knew which side his bread was
buttered on. He had to do something, because it gets cold out
there on them streets, I hear.
“Girl, I’ll be praying for you. How about me, you, and
LaShondra get together this weekend and do one of our girls’
movie nights?” I offered. I knew it was a long shot—those
two had all but kicked girls’ nights to the curb since they jumped
She sniffed again.“I don’t know. I have to see. Jamal is using
my car right now.”
“Is he working a night shift?” I asked.
“No. He still hasn’t found anything yet. But he might
need the car Saturday night. I just have to ask.”
The words flew straight from my brain out of my mouth
before I could catch them. “How you gotta ask to use your
own car if he ain’t got no job?” I could have bopped myself
on the head for fueling the hot mess already flaming in their
“You tell me.” She could only laugh at herself.
I shook my head.“I gotta go, girl. Forgive me for adding
my two cents to y’all’s business. Let me know if you want to
come Saturday night. I’ll come pick you up if you need me
to. I’m sure LaShondra won’t mind taking you home.”
“Thank you,” she said.“I’ll let you know.”
I ended the call with Deniessa but continued the conversation
with myself and my Father. “Lord, if I ever let Quinn
use me like that, just take me on home to glory.”
I talked myself all the way to Raphael’s house to pick up
Eric. By the time I got there, I had strengthened my resolve
not to lose myself in my husband like I had seen so many
married women do in my last, say, fifteen years of marrying
off friends and relatives. It’s like something clicks in their
heads and they lose all sense of identity, all sense of independence,
sometimes all sense period.
I had to give it to my girl LaShondra—she kept moving
up in the school district and trying to get where she wanted
to be even after she got married. She kept her house; she
rents it out. The only thing she didn’t keep, which surprised
me, was her last name.
“It’s not like Smith is a distinctive last name,” she had said.
“Neither is Brown! But Smith-Brown—now that sounds
“Sounds like a law firm,” she had said, giggling.
“Like I said—important. LaShondra Smith-Brown. She
don’t play. She will sue your behind any day.” I’d acted it out
as though on a low-budget commercial. She had laughed at
me in one of those condescending you-wouldn’t-understand-
because-you’re-not-married laughs. I just rolled my
eyes at her. Nonetheless, she dropped the Smith and went
straight to Brown. Something I sure wasn’t about to do, no
matter how plain-Jane Miller is for a last name.
Still building my mental list of marital dos and don’ts, I
rang Raphael’s doorbell and waited patiently for either
Raphael or Cheryl to answer the door of their one-story
home in one of the older, more crime-ridden areas of Dallas.
I had some reservations about letting Eric spend the weekend
with his father in this neighborhood, but once somebody got
mugged in broad daylight right outside my condo, I said,
Besides, I figured Eric could use a little “hood” in his life.
There’s nothing like a good game of baseball in the hood
with first base a shoe, second base somebody’s car, third base
a fire hydrant, and home plate a flattened plastic milk jug to
prove that you can be happy with next to nothing.
Raphael opened the door and Eric squeezed past his father’s
frame to give me a tight hug. “Hey, son,” I said as I
rubbed my hand across his head. Apparently, Raphael had
taken him to get a haircut—without being asked! That was
one for the record books.
“Uh.” Raphael rudely burped.“Is that a ring on your finger?”
“Yes, it is.” I beamed, making note of the mixed expression
on Raphael’s face. I couldn’t tell if he was about to congratulate
me or say something sarcastic, so I gave Eric orders
to get in the car.
“I’m getting married in July to Quinn. You met him at
Eric’s school awards ceremony,” I reminded him.
Raphael nodded. “Yeah, I remember him. July? Why so
soon?” He crossed his arms, looking down from his towering
stance. If I could get up on a stool, I might be able to prove he
was balding. The hard years of drinking and womanizing had
caused him to age quickly. Still, he was good-looking, and I
truly hoped that our son would grow up to be as handsome
as his father.
“Because we’re in love,” I replied.“And we’re not getting
Then came his true concern.“You’re not planning to take
my son away from me, are you?”
I rolled my eyes in disbelief. “You know me better than
He let his defenses fall to his side along with his arms.
Something in me said, awww . . . he loves our son. I almost felt
sorry for the poor chap, bless his sorry heart. But it had taken
me eight long years, several hours on hold for the attorney
general’s office, and countless prayers to get Raphael right
where I wanted him and Eric needed him. This was my victory,
“Well, congratulations,” he muttered.
And loud silence transpired. I gave Raphael a quick smile
before saying, “Good-bye.”
His lips said, “Good-bye,” but I could tell that he wanted
to say something more. Finally, he stepped outside of his
house, closed the door behind him, and said softly, “Quinn is
a lucky man.”
You could have bought me for a quarter.
Raphael turned and went back into the house.
“Thank you?” I whispered after he was long gone.
I drove home halfway listening to my son talk about his
weekend and halfway wondering what on earth had gotten
into one Mr. Raphael Sadiq Lewis. Well, I suppose I was looking
extra nice in my form-fitting skinny jeans and my red,
stretchy, button-down blouse. And I had just gotten my short
do shampooed and flat ironed, not to mention my freshly
waxed eyebrows. I wasn’t much for makeup, because my skin
turned into a pimple factory with most foundations. My
deep brown skin tone held its own and fell into a nice glow
after five. It was well after five, so I knew I had to be looking
Too bad for Raphael. He could have had anything he
wanted from me, once upon a time.