The first family of the Mount Zion Progressive Baptist Church lives to preach. But when it comes to practice, they could use a little divine intervention…
Minister King Brook’s daughter, Princess, is about to marry the man she thinks she loves…until a disaster leaves her lavish wedding—and her life—in shambles. Her ex, Kelvin, has returned to win her back. Her fiancée, Rafael, is determined to tie the knot. And when Princess’s grandfather, the Reverend Doctor Pastor Bishop Overseer Mister Stanley Obadiah Meshach Brook, Jr., adds his own unexpected contribution to the matrimonial mayhem, all you-know-what breaks loose…
Meanwhile, Princess’s mother, Tai, is working hard to keep it all together. As if her daughter’s wedding bell blues aren’t enough, menopause has her losing her sex drive, gaining weight, and battling insecurities. But King’s too busy to talk, her mother-in-law is in a fight of her own, and her best friend is dealing with a major family crisis. Tai learns that when God is all you’ve got, He’s all you need. All, that is, except some decisions and some actions that aren’t always so divine…
“There’s drama, laughter, and little bit of naughtiness. All Up In My Business was an exceptional read.” —Urban Reviews
“Lovely gives her readers a mouth-dropping, laughing, Oh-My-Goodness story.” —APOOO Book Club on Mind Your Own Business
Here Comes the Bride
Princess Brook stood with her father at the back of his church,
and today Mount Zion Progressive Baptist was SRO—standing
room only. She was a vision in white. Her princess cut wedding
dress (with a name like that, what other style could she wear?) was
a stunning combination of silk and chiffon, with Swarovski crystals
creating an intricate design on the bodice before continuing—as
though sprinkled by Glenda the Good Witch herself—along the
skirt and twelve-foot train. The cut accented her perfectly sized
breasts and small waist, while giving just a hint of the bootylicious
that completed the brick house that one of her mother’s old-
school favorites sang about in their hit song. The dress was strapless,
revealing smooth, blemish-free caramel skin, but a tiara-held
veil provided appropriate modesty, and her “something borrowed,”
a teardrop diamond necklace that her father had given her mother
years ago, was the perfect accessory around her gracefully slender
neck. The purposely messy upswept do fashioned from her straight,
shoulder-length hair further highlighted the borrowed gift . . . and
Princess’s heart-shaped face.
“Are you ready, baby girl?” King Brook asked.
She nodded. “Are you?”
Princess’s mega-minister father looked liked glory hallelujah
and Jesus, have mercy combined, decked out in a black tuxedo
complete with tails and waistcoat. The silver cummerbund and
bow tie were perfect accents for his deep chocolate skin, his closely
cropped hair, and expertly trimmed goatee—all working in his
favor. Many women were already breaking their necks to look
back and take multiple peeks. The feigned fainting would come
later . . . when he smiled.
“I’m ready to walk you down the aisle,” he said, after gazing at
the daughter who seemed to have grown up overnight. “And I
guess I have to give you away. But you’ll always be my baby girl.”
“Stop it, Daddy,” Princess admonished, fanning her eyes to dry
unshed tears.“You’ll ruin my makeup by making me cry!”
The Musical Messengers, a group who’d performed many
times at Mount Zion Progressive, broke out into a jazzy, gospel-
tinged version of the traditional wedding march and within minutes,
Princess stood at the altar. King kissed her cheek, shook hands
with her soon-to-be husband, and walked behind the Plexiglas
“Dearly beloved,” he began, his voice a sexy baritone that over
the years had caused many a lustful thought, “we’ve gathered here
today to join my daughter, Princess Nicole Brook . . .” He faltered,
his voice growing raspy with emotion. More lusting occurred.
After clearing his throat, he continued. “My daughter, Princess
Nicole Brook, and Rafael Scott Stevens together in holy matrimony.”
The words continued, but it was as if Princess was in a fog. She
couldn’t hear a thing. She stood there smiling at a man whose love
for her could fill an ocean... and she was thinking about someone
else. Kel . . . No! I dare not even think his name! He’s a part of my yesterday.
This man, Rafael, is the man I want in my life. I love you, Rafael!
I do! Rafael...Rafael...Rafael...
As Rafael began speaking, Princess forced her mind back to
the very important matter at hand. “I give you this ring,” he said,
sliding a beautifully cut diamond onto her French-manicured finger, “as a symbol of my love and faithfulness. I commit myself to
you: mind, body, and soul. Let this ring forever be a reminder of
the words I’ve spoken this day.” There were tears in his large,
chocolate brown eyes, which peered from a handsome, clean-
shaven face. Rafael was the color of toffee, and just as sweet . . . all
five feet ten inches of him were filled with integrity and devotion.
Princess continued to stare at him, knowing that it was her
turn to recite vows, and willing the words to come out.
“Princess, is there anything you’d like to say?” King asked, gently
encouraging his disconcerted daughter and bringing a bit of
levity to the solemn affair.
Princess managed a slight chuckle as she took a deep breath
and repeated what Rafael had said, sliding a simple, platinum band
onto his thick, manicured finger.
“If there is anyone present who knows of any reason that this
couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever
hold your peace.”
Was it Princess’s imagination or was her heart precariously
close to thumping out of her chest? She looked at her mother, Tai
Brook, who stared back at her with an unreadable expression.
Princess’s mind went back to a conversation they’d had just days
“Mama, were you in love with Daddy when y’all got married?”
“I thought I was, but honestly, I didn’t even know what true
love meant when your father and I said ‘I do.’ ”
“So when did you know that you were in love with him—not
only that you loved him, but that you were in love?”
Tai had looked up from the reality TV show she’d been watching,
and muted the sound. “Why are you asking me this, Princess?
Are you questioning whether or not you’re in love with Rafael?”
“No,” Princess had answered, a bit too quickly. “Rafael and I
grew up together. I love him very much.”
Tai pressed the issue.“But are you in love with him?”
“Let me ask you this. Do you feel the same way about Rafael
that you did about Kelvin?”
“Of course not, Mama. They’re two different people.”
“Exactly. You’re always going to have a certain feeling about
the first one, your first love, Princess. There is an excitement there,
the thrill of experiencing something you’ve never felt before,
which never happens twice. But don’t confuse that feeling with
true love. Anybody can see why you’d be attracted to Kelvin. He’s
tall, dark, handsome, and now successful and rich. But when it
comes to relationships and being there for the long haul, traits such
as faithfulness, loyalty, devotion, honesty . . . those are the ones that
matter. As you think about the man you’re about to marry, and
whether or not you should, think about those things. Rafael is a
good man, baby,” Tai finished, reaching out to place her hand on
Princess’s arm. “He comes from a good, Christian family. And he
absolutely adores you. I believe that he will do everything in his
power to give you a great life.”
After a very brief pause, King continued. “Then by the power
invested in me, and in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit, I now pronounce you man and—”
A collective gasp went up from the crowd.
“No!” Six feet and five inches of delectable determination
made his way down the aisle that King and Princess had walked
just moments before. The murmuring that had begun as soon as
the handsome young man had uttered those two letters followed
him down the aisle, pew by disbelieving pew, turning into a slight
cacophony as he reached the front.
Tai stood, a look of horror plastered on her face. Rafael’s parents
were looking between her and the stranger who now stood
between their son and his soon-to-be wife. Princess’s grandparents
were as wide eyed as hooting owls. Camera phones were being
snapped and flying fingers were sending texts.
His next words silenced the crowd as much as his first one had
sent tongues wagging.“You can’t marry him, Princess.”
The eyes of a deer caught in headlights could not have been
wider. She opened her mouth, but words were frozen along with
“Don’t do this to us, baby. You’re my girl. I love you!”
Rafael was the first one to come out of the surprise-induced
shock and react. “She’s not your baby,” he growled, taking a step
toward Kelvin, a balled fist at his side.
“Oh, and she’s yours?” Tense seconds passed as the two men
glared at each other. “She’ll never love you, dog,” Kelvin continued.“She can’t give you her heart. I’ve got that.” He turned to look
at Princess... which is why he didn’t see the fist that connected
with his jaw.
Kelvin stumbled back, but quickly recovered. He pushed
Rafael with enough force to send the slighter man stumbling into
King, who’d moved from behind the podium with the thought to
step between them. King had been a second too late, and was now
on the bottom of a wrestling pile as Kelvin, who’d jumped on top
of Rafael, who was still halfway on top of King, was now pummeling
Rafael with his fists. Rafael was pummeling back. Words that
shouldn’t be used in church were flying between them.
“Stop! Both of you!” Princess cried, kneeling down into the
fray. But it was as though she hadn’t spoken, almost like she wasn’t
there. They kept swinging and swinging, each punch landing
harder than the one before. King finally wrestled himself from beneath
the two fighting men, but this move caused Princess to fall
“She’s mine!” she heard Rafael cry before hearing the sound
of knuckles hitting flesh.
A similar sound preceded Kelvin’s response: “In your dreams,
you punk-ass mutha—!”
Pow! Another moment of fist and flesh connecting.
Where are the ushers? Where’s security? Why doesn’t someone stop
this fight? Princess tried to right herself, but her dress was twisted
around her legs, effectively imprisoning them better than a mummy
wrap ever could. She kicked and she kicked, but to no avail. She
couldn’t get up and she felt that unless she did the man she was in
love with and the one she was about to marry would kill each
other. God, please help me. And as had always been the case, God
came through. He helped her. How, you may be wondering? The
answer is simple.
Princess woke up.