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Authors: Jacquelin Thomas

Jezebel

J
EZEBEL
N
OVELS BY
J
ACQUELIN
T
HOMAS

Defining Moments

Redemption

Jezebel

J
EZEBEL
JACQUELIN THOMAS

NAL Praise
Published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published by NAL Praise, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Copyright © Jacquelin Thomas, 2008
Readers Guide copyright © Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2008
All rights reserved

NAL Praise and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Scripture taken from the
Holy Bible, New International Version
®
. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International
Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. The “NIV” and “New International Version”
trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society.
Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:
Thomas, Jacquelin.
Jezebel / Jacquelin Thomas.
p. cm.
ISBN: 978-1-1012-1196-0
1. African American women—Fiction. 2. Spouses of clergy—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3570.H5637J47 2008
813'.54—dc22          2007035519

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

PUBLISHER'S NOTE
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
    The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

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To Courtney, Camille, Alyssa,
Larika, Mahalia and Angelica—

I love you all!

And also concerning Jezebel the LORD says:
“Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.”

—1 KINGS 21:23
(NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION)

CONTENTS
PROLOGUE

B
linding tears rolled down her cheeks, but Jessie Belle Deveraux was unable to wipe them away because her lead-laden arms weren't any use to her. She continued to sink deeper into depression.

I'm paying dearly for my sins
.

The thought reverberated through her mind over and over again, bringing on more tears.

I can't even wipe my own nose. Lord, please have mercy on my soul and take me out of my misery
.

Jessie Belle would prefer to have died from the fall that left her completely paralyzed to being imprisoned in a wheelchair with her life slowly draining away. She'd thought she'd made peace with her situation, but feeling the way she did—she hadn't.

The nurse entered the bedroom carrying a stack of clean towels. She took one look at Jessie Belle and dropped them on a nearby chair, asking, “Mrs. Deveraux…what's wrong?”

Humiliated, Jessie Belle felt like a helpless babe while Helen gently wiped her face.

“I h-hate being like this, H-Helen. I c-can't even wipe m-my own nose,” she managed between sobs. “There was a time when I was on the top of the world and now…now I'm nothing more than deadweight.”

“Mrs. Deveraux, you can still have a full life.”

Jessie Belle shook her head. “Helen, I chose to harden my heart and betray the people I loved the most, and now I have to suffer the consequences. Although nobody has said it—I know they feel the same way I do. They think I'm reaping exactly what I sowed.”

“Nobody's thinking that, Mrs. Deveraux,” Helen countered. “You are a real sweet lady. I can see that.”

Shaking her head, Jessie Belle stated, “You didn't know me back then. I was a terrible person.”

Helen raised her eyebrows in surprise. “Oh, Mrs. Deveraux, I can't believe that. You're just going through a little depression right now.”

“It's true, Helen,” she insisted. “Do you know what they used to call me?
Jezebel
. People called me a Jezebel.”

“But why? I don't believe you'd ever cheat on your husband.”

“Jezebel was a powerful queen when she was alive, but hardly anything remained of her after her death. It wasn't about sex for her—it was power and control. She was tossed over a balcony for her many sins, trampled by horses and eaten by dogs. Did you know that there's a Jezebel spirit?”

When Helen shook her head no, Jessie Belle continued. “There is. Anyone who worships money, earthly treasures or power is vulnerable to this spirit. I should know, because it consumed me and at the time I didn't care. It took nearly losing my husband and my son to motivate a change in me, but by then a lot of people had been hurt—a lot of damage done.” She gulped hard, fighting back more tears.

“If I'm to be honest—Jezebel and I had a lot in common. Oh, I was really something—a force to be reckoned with, for sure. Helen, all I cared about was what I wanted. Back then, I didn't care who I stepped on,” Jessie Belle murmured. She paused a moment before adding, “The person that pushed me over the balcony—I don't blame them.”

Her nurse sat there, stunned by what Jessie Belle was saying.

“You wouldn't have liked me, Helen.” Jessie Belle suddenly felt the urge to bare her soul. “My mama used to say all the time to tell the truth and shame the devil. That's what I'm about to do. It all started when I was eighteen years old….”

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