Love Like Hallelujah

Love Like Hallelujah

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by Lutishia Loveley

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With infidelity behind them, Tai's marriage to her pastor husband, King, is stronger than ever. Even when King's ex-lover, Tootie, comes back to town, Tai keeps her cool. . .until she hears Tootie has a teenage son no one knew existed—a son who could be King's. Tai is determined to know who the boy's father is, and enlists the help of her best friend Vivian to

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With infidelity behind them, Tai's marriage to her pastor husband, King, is stronger than ever. Even when King's ex-lover, Tootie, comes back to town, Tai keeps her cool. . .until she hears Tootie has a teenage son no one knew existed—a son who could be King's. Tai is determined to know who the boy's father is, and enlists the help of her best friend Vivian to find out the truth. But what they discover is more than either of them ever wanted to know.

Vivian must also deal with the return of her husband's former assistant, a woman who believes that if it wasn't for Vivian, she would have been first lady of Kingdom Citizens Christian Center. Millicent's back too, just in time for the marriage of Hope and Cy, the man she thought she'd be marrying. So what happens when love feels more like harried hell instead of hallelujah? There's only one way to find out. . .

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Love Like Hallelujah



Copyright © 2008 Lutishia Lovely
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7582-1753-0

Chapter One

Remember to Forget

Cy moved with calm precision, feeling perfectly at home among Victoria's Secret's wispy feminine apparel. Not the most traditional gift to give his soon-to-be wife, but Cy couldn't think of anything he'd rather see her in than a silky negligee, except her bare skin. He knew her body would show off to perfection the diamond necklace he'd just purchased at Tiffany's, and he wanted a delicious piece of lingerie to complement the eight-carat teardrop. He couldn't help but smile as he fingered the delicate fabrics of silk, satin, and lace, unmindful of the not-so-covert glances female shoppers slid his way. It hardly mattered. His fiancée, Hope Serenity Jones, had captured Cy's attention from the moment she'd appeared at the back entrance of Mount Zion Progressive Baptist Church, a piece of sanctified eye candy wrapped in a shimmering gold designer suit.

Female admirers ogled Cy as he continued his deliberate perusal. He stopped at a hanging negligee, red and pink flowers against a satiny white background. The top had thin spaghetti straps that held up a transparent gown hitting midthigh. The thong had an intricately designed rose vine for the string, a trail he would happily follow once it was on Hope, first with his fingers, then with his tongue....

A perky, twenty-something salesclerk came over with a knowing smile. "Are roses your favorite flower?" she asked, flirting.

"They could become my favorite," Cy countered easily, "if worn on the right person."

"That's a very popular design," the salesperson offered, encouraging the purchase.

"I'll take it," Cy said, as he casually handed the lingerie to her.

"Will this be all?" she asked, unconsciously moving closer to the live Adonis who had walked into the store and (blessings abound!) into her area.

"No, but I'll keep shopping on my own," Cy murmured as he eyed something on the other side of the store. The salesperson followed without thought. "I'll let you know if I need any help," he said with emphasis.

"No problem, I'm here if you need me." The salesclerk turned around, a look of regret barely concealed behind her cheery smile. Cy was oblivious to the wistful stares his six-foot-two frame elicited from the saleswoman and other shoppers. His naturally curly jet black hair may have been hidden under a Lakers cap, but his raw sexuality was in plain sight. He had no idea that his sparkling white smile lit up the room like the noonday sun or that the dimple that flashed at the side of his grin was like a finger beckoning women closer.

Cy picked up a bra and panty set that had Hope's name written all over it. It was a soft, lacy, yellow number. The panty was designed like a pair of shorts-very short shorts-and Cy reacted physically as he thought of Hope's bubble booty filling them out. He quickly added this set to the black and beige more traditional sets he'd selected earlier.

While making his way to the perfume counter, another outfit caught his eye-the perfect backdrop for the diamond pendant. It was a lavender-colored sheer nightgown with matching floor-length jacket. The beauty was in its simplicity, and he smiled again as he thought of how Hope would look wearing this purple paradise. He held it up and closed his eyes, mentally picturing her ebony splendor wrapped luxuriously inside the soft material rubbing against her silken skin as he kissed her sweet lips.

Cy felt the presence of someone behind him. Figuring it was the attentive saleswoman, he turned to apologize for taking so long to make his decisions, and for the growing pile of lingerie she'd collected on his behalf. The smile died on his lips, however, as did the clever banter he'd thought to deliver as he completed the turn and stared into the eyes of the person he'd most like to remember to forget ... Millicent Sims.

Or so he thought, initially. The woman could have been Millicent's twin sister; that's how much alike they looked. But after the initial shock subsided, Cy realized it wasn't her. The eyes were similar, but this woman's nose and lips were larger. Her face was a bit fuller, the cheekbones less prominent. One thing was definitely the same though; the woman looked at him as if he were a chicken nugget and she the dipping sauce. He quickly excused himself and went around her, making a beeline for the cash register. A close encounter of the Millicent kind had cooled his shopping frenzy.

Moments later, he closed the rear door of his newly purchased BMW SUV. It had been hard to get him out of his Azure, but looking back it hadn't made sense for a Bentley to be his main driving vehicle. As the salesman had promised, Cy found the BMW to be a perfect ride for jetting around the city. He fired up the engine, hit the CD button, and zoomed out of the parking lot. The sounds of Luther Vandross's greatest hits, redone to perfection in snazzy jazz styles as a tribute to his memory, oozed out of the stereo. Cy bobbed his head as Mindi Abair got ridiculous with her alto sax version of "Stop to Love." As he crossed lanes and merged onto the 405 Interstate, his thoughts drifted back to Millicent. His heart had nearly stopped when he thought he saw her; it had been a while since she'd crossed his mind. He wondered how she was doing, where she was. Even after "the incident," he wished her well.

The incident. It had been a while since he'd thought about that, too. But seeing Millicent's near twin in Victoria's Secret had brought the memories back with a vengeance. That crazy Sunday when out of the blue, and in the middle of a regular church service, Millicent had wafted down the aisle in full wedding regalia. It had shocked everyone in the sanctuary, him most of all.

Cy had had months to replay those events in his mind, and they'd mellowed with time. Now, he thought about the Millicent Sims he knew before she'd lost her mind that Sunday morning. He remembered the way he felt when he first saw her, tall and regal with beautiful hair, flawless skin, legs forever, and a smile that made his heart skip a beat. He'd quickly asked her out, knowing those fine looks would test the limits of his celibacy vow. But it hadn't taken him long to realize that aside from good looks and Kingdom Citizens' Christian Center, they had little in common. He also quickly felt Millicent's desire to take their relationship to another level, one of the physical kind. Though sorely tempted, he did the right thing and broke it off with her after a couple months. Now, however, he wondered what it would have been like to have those long legs wrapped around him, his dick tapping that flawless skin. His manhood jumped in response to these thoughts, the smaller head seconding the bigger head's thoughts.

As Cy exited the 90 Freeway into Marina Del Rey, Millicent's words from that fateful day of their last encounter drifted through the melodies of Rick Braun's rendition of "Dance With My Father." He could hear them as loudly as if they were actually being spoken: Come! It is our time.... Cy's dick went limp.

A horn honked. The red light he'd reached had turned green. Cy floored the gas pedal as if trying to outrun the memories of Millicent from that Sunday and his wandering sexual thoughts just now. He thought of Hope, physically different from Millicent yet beautiful both inside and out. His dick jumped again. He massaged it mindlessly, even as he once again tried to divert his thoughts and calm "Mr. Man" down. Man, sleeping next to my baby is gonna be hard tonight!

As Cy turned into his garage, he smiled. A yellow MG sat parked in the stall next to his. Hope. What an appropriate name she'd been given, because hope was exactly what she'd given him. Hope that he could have the love he'd always envisioned, that he'd seen his parents experience. Hope that he could find someone both spiritual and sexy, who could love God like an angel and love him like a courtesan. He now had no doubt that that was exactly what he had in the chocolate pudding waiting upstairs for him. They'd agreed to remain celibate until their wedding took place, but that hadn't prevented them from getting to know each other. He hadn't played the piano, but he'd definitely stroked the keys.

Cy turned the key and activated the elevator to the penthouse floor. Humming to himself, he looked at the lingerie packet and Tiffany box he'd concealed in a plain brown bag. He wanted to see her in something different every night of their honeymoon, before he saw her in nothing but his arms.

The house was quiet as he went inside. "Hey, baby," he called out, noting the silence of the almost always playing stereo. He entered the large open space that was the living, dining, and den area. No Hope. He continued to the kitchen, where he saw the note as soon as he turned the corner:

Hey, Baby, tried to reach you on your cell. I'm with Frieda. Hollah.

Love you, Hope.

He set down the packages, pulled the cell phone from his briefcase, and noted a couple missed calls. Belatedly, he remembered how poor the cell phone reception was in some of the mall stores. Smiling, he hid Hope's honeymoon package in the closet and decided to fix a protein drink before calling his baby. Yes, Hope was the woman he wanted to be thinking about, the one he wanted on his mind. He hoped Millicent was happy, but she was his past. The woman occupying number one on his speed dial was his future.

Chapter Two

God, Always with You ...

"Look, you know yo ass can't wait to get some dickage. God created the bone, ain't nothin' wrong with saying you want to handle the meat for a minute, damn!"

"Frieda, you have no sense." Hope laughed as she entered her cousin's newly decorated apartment near Baldwin Hills, an area of Los Angeles that at one time boasted the city's most affluent Black residents. A month after Hope had relocated from Kansas City, she'd suggested to Frieda that she do the same. One visit was all it had taken. One trip to Magic Johnson's theater followed by a stroll through the mall next door and Frieda had agreed that LA was her kind of place. "Umm ... thirty-two flavors, just like Baskin-Robbins," she had commented after seeing the plentiful, multicultural, multiethnic mix of testosterone who shopped there.

Hope couldn't have been happier. There had not been a moment's hesitation when Cy had asked her to move in with him shortly after he proposed, but after a couple weeks she realized that a big city with millions of people could get lonely, especially with Cy's business and church commitments. When Frieda had called from Kansas City and told her she'd given notice at her job, and to the latest nucka she was seeing, Hope had started things rolling on her end. She'd liquidated one of her "rainy day" CDs so that Frieda could get a place and have rent for a couple months until she got situated. She'd helped Frieda pay for the U-Haul to move her furniture from Kansas City, and they'd had a ball going around to estate sales and swap meets to replace the things Frieda left behind.

It had been a great move for both of them. Frieda had quickly landed a secretarial job and within a month knew her way around LA enough to outrun the fool she'd turned on and then tuned out at a club three weeks after she'd arrived. It was no surprise to Hope that Frieda brought the drama with her. It was her middle name and, Hope guessed, just the way she liked it.

"So, is it good, girl? Fine as his ass is, he better be able to f-"

"We didn't do it yet," Hope interrupted. "How many times do I have to tell you that we're waiting until the wedding night?"

"Girl ... tell that lie to somebody who'll believe you. Ain't no way you got that lying in bed with you at night and you ain't hittin' it. Ain't ... no ... way."

"Whatever, Frieda. Where do you want me to put these?" Hope had never seen any of Frieda's places look this good and didn't want to junk it up with their latest purchases.

"Put 'em anywhere, and stop trying to change the subject. You think I tell you all my business and ain't gonna get into yours? Think again, sistah!"

Hope sighed and shook her head as she placed the bags on Frieda's bar counter. Was last night's good time written all over her face? "Okay, we have fooled around, a little bit."

"That's what I'm talkin' 'bout, baby. Be real with a sistah. I know'd yo ass wasn't gonna be able to leave that alone." Frieda whooped as she plopped down on the couch. "C'mon in here, girl, and spill it ... spill it!"

Knowing her cousin wouldn't let the subject rest, Hope plopped down beside her. "Well, we haven't had actual intercourse but we've, you know, checked each other out."

"Is he big, girl? You know sometimes those pretty boys carry pistols instead of shotguns." Frieda was all ears.

Hope paused. "He's perfect. Not too big, not too little. He's just right." She hid a smile, embarrassed yet happy to be sharing her joy with someone else. "And it feels good, nice and thick. It's been so long since I'd seen one, that at first I didn't know whether to touch it, suck it, or frame it!"

"Don't make me hollah!" Frieda said, delighted. "So, did you take care of boyfriend? I know he tasted good, huh?"


"Girl, please!"

"I don't know how he tastes, and I'll thank you not to be wondering either!"

Frieda rolled her eyes. "Girl, I've got enough dick to suck, fuck, and fill a semitruck. I don't need yo' shit."

It was Hope's turn to laugh. "I'll be honest, I didn't want to wait. I figured that since we're engaged-and speaking for me, even married already in my heart-I was ready to do it. But Cy said we'd waited this long, a couple more months wasn't going to kill us."

"And you said speak for yourself, right?"

"I'm glad he said it actually, because he's right. It will make our wedding night extra special. I know it's going to be so good. Just from the way he kisses me and holds me; he knows all the right spots to touch. He drives me crazy!"

"Well, all I can say is you're a better woman than I am. I would have licked that piece of caramel on the first night, within the first couple hours, feel me?"

Hope's phone rang. She eyed the ID and opened her cell. "Hey, baby, we were just talking about you."

"Were you saying how much you love me, and how you can't wait to become my wife?"

"That's exactly what I was saying, babe, that I can't wait." Hope winked at Frieda. "What's up?"

"Not much. Just got home and got your note. I was at the mall when you called."

"Out shopping, huh? Anything for me?"

"Not today, baby. I'm sorry, should have thought about you."

Hope feigned disappointment. "Cy Taylor, nothing called out my name? Nothing had Hope Jones Taylor written all over it?"

You have no idea, he mused. "Next time, okay?"

"Okay. Any plans for dinner?"

"Just you."

"Good, I'll stop and get some salmon steaks when Frieda brings me home."

"What do we need the steaks for? I said 'just you.' "

"Ooh ... you're such a bad boy. That's why I love you. I'll see you soon." Hope's pussy tingled as she closed the phone and leaned back on the couch.

"Can you believe it?" she said to Frieda." Can you believe I'm actually marrying that man? It still feels like a dream. All the years I prayed and believed that my prince would come, and all the nights I cried and argued with God because he didn't. Then it was like, snap, and just like that, my life changed. I can't even begin to describe how this feels. It's more than amazing, really. It's beyond words."

Frieda got up and walked into the kitchen. "You want a wine cooler?" Hope declined but said yes to a cola. "And I've got some chips and dip. You hungry?"

"Yeah, bring it all in. I want to go over the wedding, get your final opinions. And don't try to get all crazy on me. I've decided to keep it simple. Oh, and I've finally settled on the colors-different shades of blue. What do you think? Frieda!"

Frieda came around the corner loaded down with chips, dip, leftover chicken wings, cookies, soda, and a wine cooler. Hope jumped up. "Dang, you took me literally, huh? What's all this?"

They placed the food on the coffee table and loaded up plates. "Anytime we talk about men and matrimony," Frieda answered around a mouthful of chips, "it's a party."

They spent the afternoon fine-tuning Hope's plans for the ceremony. She'd dreamed of this for so many years one would think the details would have been easy. Now that the time was actually here though, she'd changed her mind more than once, wanting everything to be perfect. She had switched color schemes three times, but felt her idea of using various shades of blue was going to look beautiful against the scenic ocean backdrop. Cy's custom Carlo Scotti tux was a deep navy made from extrafine merino faille wool. Hope's dress was a white halter-necked, dropped waist satin wonder accented with light blue Swarovski crystals to match Cy's light blue silk shirt. Frieda was the maid of honor, her dress a mix of turquoise, aqua, and light blue. The best man, Simeon, Cy's equally fine cousin, would wear a light blue suit. Hope had snagged the Musical Messengers to provide the music, a blend of jazz, R & B classics, and contemporary gospel for both the ceremony and sit-down dinner afterward, as the boat cruised around the marina. She and Cy had decided to recite traditional vows and keep the ceremony simple: a duet of "their song," Eric Benet's "Spend My Life With You," a recitation of The Lord's Prayer, and a poem Hope wrote, titled simply, "The One." Knowing how close their pastors were and how much church meant to them, it was easy to decide that both pastors, Derrick Montgomery and King Brook, would officiate.


Excerpted from Love Like Hallelujah by LUTISHIA LOVELY Copyright © 2008 by Lutishia Lovely. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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