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The Pastor's Woman
By Jacquelin Thomas
KimaniCopyright © 2007 Jacquelin Thomas
All right reserved.
The dark clouds looming ominously over Detroit, the thirty-four-degree temperature and thirty-fivemile-per-hour winds matched Pearl Lockhart's mood perfectly as she merged her Ford Explorer onto I-75 north on her way to Lakeview Baptist Church.
She left fifteen minutes early because she wanted to have a few words with the pastor. Just who did Wade Kendrick think he was, telling her that she should wear her dresses a little longer? What nerve!
The man had only been installed a few months ago as pastor of the church she grew up in, and now he was suddenly an authority on fashion.
Her sisters had invited Pastor Wade Kendrick to attend their annual family reunion last month and he seemed nice enoughuntil he made a chauvinistic comment regarding the roles of women in a Christian household, igniting a heated debate between him and Pearl.
He had a lot of nerve criticizing the way she dressed. God didn't care about the clothes people wore to church. He looked at the heart and not the garments. It wasn't as if she were walking into church dressed like a hoochie. Her skirts normally reached just above the knee. For goodness' sake, she was only twenty-five years old.
Pearl pulled her SUV into the church parking lot that sat on the corner of Monroe Street.
She climbed out a few minutes later, braving the November chill. Pearl pulled together the folds of her ankle-length leather coat and walked briskly toward the entrance of the church. She loved the city of her birth, but during this time of year, she developed a love-hate relationship with the Michigan weather.
Pearl moved easily but impatiently through the wooden double doors of Lakeview Baptist Church. "Good morning," she said to one of the deacons standing outside the sanctuary. Removing her coat, she headed down the hallway to the administrative offices.
She was relieved that none of her sisters had arrived yet, especially Ruby or Opal. They would try to talk her out of her plan, but Pearl had never been one to back down from a fight.
When she neared Wade's office, Pearl slowed her pace. The door was slightly ajar, allowing her to peek inside.
He was there, his bald head gleaming as he concentrated on the papers on his mahogany desk. Pearl had to admit that Wade was a handsome man with dark brown eyes and nice full lips. Even that secret expression she'd glimpsed from time to time made him sexy.
She'd heard through the church grapevine that he was only twenty-eight years old, despite his somber mood and old-fashioned attitude.
She knocked softly to get his attention. Without waiting for a response, Pearl pushed the door open all the way and struck a pose. "So what do you think of this outfit, Pastor? Does it meet with your approval?"
Wade Kendrick eyed the petite woman standing in the doorway of his office wearing a black leather skirt that was cut a good two inches above the knee revealing shapely, well-toned legs.
His left eyebrow rose up a fraction. Until today Wade couldn't ever recall seeing Pearl Lockhart wearing something so short.
She lifted her chin, meeting his gaze straight on.
Despite the rebellious spirit she was currently exhibiting, he couldn't deny that she looked beautiful with her sandy brown hair styled in twists and her clear mocha complexion free of makeup.
What he liked about Pearl was that she always wore a smile, although the one on her face right now was born of pure defiance. She was obviously upset about the conversation they'd had last Sunday regarding her clothes.
The only reason he'd said anything to Pearl in the first place was because he'd overheard some of the teen boys discussing her legs and saying she was the finest woman at Lakeview. Wade hoped to avoid further distractions but he certainly hadn't meant to offend Pearl, the youthchoir director.
"Pastor Kendrick," she began, "I don't think you should worry about what I'm wearing. God doesn't look at the clothes a person wears. He looks at the heart."
"Miss Lockhart, the Bible speaks about modest clothing," Wade stated calmly. "Scripture tells us that a woman who dresses immodestly causes men to think unholy thoughts. It draws their at inner heart. Just read the third chapter of First Peter."
Wade was not about to be drawn into another debate with her and prayed his response had put an end to the discussion. Pushing away from his desk, he stood up, saying, "It's almost time for service to start. We can continue this conversation after church if you'd like."
Pearl opened her mouth, then shut it.
A muscle flicked angrily at her jaw. Pearl glared at him before storming out of the office and disappearing down the hallway.
Wade released a long sigh. This was not the way he'd planned to start off the morning service. But he would speak with Pearl Lockhart when church ended and clear the air. Apologize if necessary. She and her family had been members of Lakeview Baptist a long time and Wade didn't want a rift to develop between them. He could do without having drama in the church.
When he walked into the sanctuary, Wade found that instead of sitting in her usual seat a few rows back Pearl had made herself comfortable in the front pew, her eyes full of triumph.
She was clearly not going to let this matter drop.
His eyes traveled to her shapely legs, the sight of them stirring something in him. Wade couldn't deny the teenage boys were right. Pearl Lockhart's legs were exquisite.
Stop looking at her legs, he told himself. Determined in his heart to keep his head and mind on the Lord, Wade signaled for one of the ushers to approach. "Could you please get Miss Lockhart a sheet or blanket, please?"
He stepped up into the pulpit and took his seat between his youth pastor and the assistant pastor. Wade couldn't see her face from where he was sitting, but he could only imagine she was shooting fiery darts through the podium at him with her eyes.
He would have to risk her fury for now because Wade didn't need any distractions, either. It wasn't always easy with church mamas trying to push their daughters in his face and overly aggressive women practically throwing themselves at him.
Wade's mind traveled back to Pearl. He could only assume that she was behaving this way to get his attention. She was a beautiful girl but he didn't go for the boisterous, party-girl type.
Instead, he preferred a woman more like him, conservative, with traditional beliefs. Even with finitely not wife material as far as he was concerned.
A tremor of disappointment slid down his spine.
Excerpted from The Pastor's Woman by Jacquelin Thomas Copyright © 2007 by Jacquelin Thomas. Excerpted by permission.
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