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Authors: Suzetta Perkins

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BOOK: A Love So Deep
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Chapter 65

Spring 1990

A
sweltering
heat had come through Oakland. Ice cream trucks were busy on every street filling little and big kids’ tummies full of ice cream. Children took turns jumping in and out of water sprinklers to cool their body temperatures down. Lemonade stands became prosperous service ventures.

Rita placed silverware next to the stoneware plates that sat on the table. She was fixing Graham’s favorite meal, fried chicken. You could smell it a mile away.

Rita stood over the stove and took the last piece of chicken from the fryer. She wiped her forehead that had been dusted with flour and a little sweat and was about to place the rice in a bowl when the doorbell rang.

“Graham, get the door.”

“I’m in the bathroom, you’ll have to get it.”

Rita’s eye began to twitch and she gave a deep sigh. She walked to the door and opened it. There stood a polished Charlie, dressed in a tweed jacket and brown slacks. He was carrying a bouquet of flowers in his hand and offered a smile.

“Come in, Charlie. We’re almost ready.”

“Just like old times,” Charlie whispered, sniffing at the aroma that permeated the house. “I remember that a week didn’t go by without fried chicken being served in this house. And I was always here,” Charlie paused, “just like today. These flowers are for you.”

“Thank you,” Rita said, taking them from Charlie. “Come in and make yourself comfortable. Graham will be right out.”

Charlie strode into the living room and walked straight to the mantel. He surveyed the pictures that littered it—Graham’s family, his extended one.

“How are you doing, Charlie?” Graham asked.

Charlie jumped and turned around, startled at Graham’s voice.

“Not bad. It’s been three months without alcohol, and I’m feeling pretty good. I want to thank you for asking me to come over today.”

“I talked it over with Rita. She’s not totally comfortable with it, but she wants to try.”

“I understand. If it’s too much, I can leave.”

“No, we want you to stay. You smell that fried chicken, brother?”

Charlie was surprised as much as Graham seemed to be at the word “brother.” It was music to Charlie’s ears.

“I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it.”

“Rita is a little uncomfortable cooking in Amanda’s kitchen, but after we’re married, I think we’ll move into a place that we could call our own.”

“Oh,” Charlie said with surprise in his voice. Then he remembered the words of Amanda and his mother’s spirit when they visited him in his hospital bed. Charlie promised to keep their visit to himself. “I’m happy for the two of you.”

“Well, go wash your hands and prepare to eat,” Rita cut in. “Graham and I have a couple of surprises for you.”

“She’s doing better than I thought,” Graham said to Charlie, then winked.

The men washed their hands and proceeded into the dining room.

“Where would you like for me to sit?” Charlie asked with a puzzled look on his face. “Looks like the table is set for four.”

“Sit right there,” Graham said and winked at Rita.

The doorbell rang again, and Rita hurried to answer it. She moved quietly from the door to the dining room followed by Sister Mary Ross. Mary smiled and Charlie smiled back unsure what to say. He and Graham rose from their seats, Charlie pulling out Mary’s seat so she could sit.

The house had never been this still. Even the clock on the stove made more noise than the four adults who sat at the beautifully set table, waiting to devour the meal Rita had prepared.

“Hello, Mary,” Charlie said.

“Good to see you, Charlie. You’re looking well.”

Eyes darted back and forth across the table. Dinner was moving a lot slower than Graham would have liked. He would have to liven up the place before the whole night became a disaster.

Graham blessed the food and they took turns filling their plates. The women made small talk while the men listened—Mary occasionally taking a peek at Charlie and he doing likewise.

“Rita and I have a surprise for you.”

“You finally set the date,” Mary blurted out.

“Yes, but that’s not the surprise,” Graham said.

“Well, what is it?” Charlie asked, concern written on his face.

“Graham and I would like the two of you to be our best man and maid of honor,” Rita said.

“Oh,” gasped Mary. “Rita, are you sure? I’d be honored!”

“Yes, Mary, I’m sure. You’ve turned out to be a very good friend.”

“What about you, Charlie? You up to being my best man?”

“I’m honored that my brother chose me to be his best man. How can I say no? Of course, I will.”

“You’ve made me and Rita the happiest couple in the world. I can’t wait for her to be a permanent fixture around this house or wherever we’ll live. You only have two months to get ready. Rita wants to be a June bride.”

“I’m so excited,” Mary said. “I’m excited for the both of you.”

“Me, too,” Charlie said. “What about us?” Charlie asked as he turned to Mary, her eyes bulging from their sockets.

“I’m not ready for anything, Charlie, I don’t know if I ever will be. Why don’t we get past dinner first?”

“That sounds like a good idea, Mary.”

The church was decorated in lilac and white. Lilies in several varieties adorned the vases that sat near the altar. The flame of the candles sparkled against the stained-glass windows, while two Love birds perched in a cage under the flower-covered arch chirped happily.

Seats filled fast—the first two rows reserved for the family. Invitations were at a premium ever since Rita and Graham’s engagement was announced in the society page of
The Oakland Tribune
.

The wedding party was small. Deborah and Liz were the bridesmaids and their husbands the groomsmen. Mary Ross looked lovely and Charlie was the perfect best man.

The congregation rose as Rita and her father walked down the aisle. Rita wore a simple, silk taffeta strapless gown and a crown of Swarovski crystal jewels circled her head. Her French-manicured fingers gingerly held a bouquet of lilies.

As Rita glided past rows of spectators, she saw Clyde and the guys in the band. She smiled as she passed Martha and Elroy, but right in the midst of all the well-wishers sat William, giving her the thumbs up.

She trembled at the sight of him, turning her head forward and never taking her eyes off of Graham. Rita willed the minister to move forward with the nuptials so that she and Graham could be pronounced man and wife. But the moment came and the minister asked the infamous question: “Is there anyone who finds just cause that this couple should not be joined together in holy matrimony?”

William stood and Rita’s worst fear was coming to pass. Worried looks crossed the faces in the congregation and the minister raised a calming hand to bring the matter under control. Before the minister spoke, Rita’s father stood tall and statuesque, Rita’s mother at his side.

William looked from Rita to her father. He walked into the aisle, raised his hand, and saluted the bride. He turned on his heels and walked out of the sanctuary.

“No!” boomed Rita’s dad. “No one objects to this marriage. “Take it away, preacher.”

The congregation laughed and Rita’s smile returned to her face.

Graham wore a smile on his face. It brought back memories of a time forty years earlier, but new ones were being made this day. His bride was beautiful and love had conquered all.

About the Author

Suzetta Perkins is the author of her riveting debut novel
Behind the Veil.
She is also a contributing author of
My Soul to His Spirit
, an anthology that was featured in the June 2005 issue of
Ebony
magazine. Suzetta is the co-founder and president of the Sistahs Book Club in Fayetteville, North Carolina and is Secretary of the University at Fayetteville State University, her alma mater. Visit suzettaperkins.com and www.myspace.com/authorsue or email to [email protected]

Discussion Questions for
A Love So Deep

1) Where did Graham meet Amanda?

2) How did Amanda’s death affect Graham? Was it healthy?

3) What did Charlie do to rescue his best friend, Graham, from the depths of despair?

4) Graham found strength to live again in the most unlikely place, although he initially did not want to go there. What was the name of the place and what made him feel alive again?

5) Do you feel that Graham’s daughters were justified in being upset that he was seeing another woman so soon after their mother’s death? Why or why not?

6) Do you feel that if Graham was to be with anyone that it should have been Sister Mary Ross? Why or why not?

7) What do you believe Rita saw in Graham? Do you believe she portrayed herself as an opportunist? Why do you believe Martha, Graham’s mother-in-law, took a liking to Rita?

8) Was William, Rita’s former husband, ever a threat to Rita? If yes, why?

9) What was Charlie’s secret? How did his secret affect his relationship with Graham?

10) Love can be painful and oftentimes people make sacrifices for love, do crazy things in the name of love, and even forfeit love for love’s sake. What did the following people do in the name of love?

Graham

Rita

Charlie

William

Mary

11) Do you believe Mary Ross understood what was really happening when Charlie turned up on her doorstep and tried to take advantage of her?

12) It took a lot of soul searching and prayer to accept Charlie into their home. Why do you believe Graham and Rita forgave Charlie for what he did to Rita even though forgiveness didn’t come right away?

13) What do you believe was William’s intention at the end of the story?

BOOK: A Love So Deep
2.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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