When an old friend unexpectedly reappears, what is she to do? The chances of this happening were none. After years apart, Jordan Shaw runs into the one person she didn’t expect to see again. During college, he was the one whose friendship meant the most to her, but differences forced them to part ways. Now Gavin Kensington is back at a time when Jordan is recovering from heartbreak and is not seeking love or friendship. Having lost faith in God and love, Gavin isn’t looking for anything either. God has other plans for them. With a rekindled friendship and pasts that impact their present, is there room for them to have faith in God, and each other, to develop a love that withstands time, distance, and circumstances?
No matter how many times Jordan’s mother previously brought up Jordan’s single status, she did her best to take it in stride. The discussions hadn’t happened since she’d started dating David, but that was about to change. Jordan would have to break the latest news to her mother. If it weren’t for their regularly scheduled monthly lunch date, Jordan wouldn’t have left the comfort of her home and couch. However, if she missed the lunch, there’s no way that Bernice Shaw wouldn’t have shown up on Jordan’s doorstep.
Jordan knew her mother loved her, but it would be difficult to explain to her mother that she was okay with being single at this time in her life. She maneuvered her car into Bernice’s driveway. This month, they’d be eating on her mother’s patio because of the beautiful Florida Fall weather. A nice breeze greeted Jordan when she opened her car door.
“Hey, Mom,” Jordan said as she walked into her childhood home. Bernice hugged Jordan quickly and led her out onto the patio. Jordan smelled the roses as soon as she entered the screened area. Centered on the table was a beautiful arrangement from her mother’s prized garden.
“Mom, these roses are beautiful,” she proclaimed while leaning into the vase, the rose petal tickling her nose with its fragrance filling her nostrils.
“Thank you, Baby. Have a seat.”
As Jordan sat, Bernice grasped her hands and prayed quickly over their meal. Jordan reached for her fork, “Mom, I need to talk to you about David and me.” There was no time like now, Jordan told herself.
“Did he propose? I knew it. I knew it was coming!” Bernice exclaimed, clapping her hands and rising to her feet, the patio chair shaking at her sudden movements.
“Mom, no, that’s not it. We broke up.”
“What do you mean, you broke up? This can’t be the case. You were so close.”
“Close to what, Mom? A ring?”
Bernice returned to her seat and began to stir the spoon in her tea cup, adding her usual two sugar cubes and lemon juice, the spoon clanking against the cup.
Jordan looked at her mother over the rim of her own tea cup, her light brown eyes narrowing into slits. “Mom, I couldn’t continue to date him. You consistently preached to me about being unequally yoked and not letting the guy have the cow for free. Plus, David wanted to live together before marriage. If marriage were to ever come.”
“But I’ve been praying. Everyone has prayed for you to find a husband.”
Jordan leaned back in her chair. She sighed, placing the tea cup on the table with a clank and folded her arms. It was going to be a long lunch.
“Mom, it is one thing to pray for God to bring me a husband. It’s another thing to pray for Him to bring me any husband.”
At this point, single was looking really good for Jordan. She didn’t want to settle for just any man. “You have told me yourself that some women settle for any man rather than having the right man. Do you want to see that happen to me?”
“Of course not! You know that is not what I’m saying,” Bernice replied, sipping her tea.
“Then exactly what are you stating, Mother?” Jordan called Bernice “Mother” whenever she wanted to show her annoyance. This was not lost on Bernice.
“Don’t ‘Mother’ me, Jordan. I just want to see you happy.”
Jordan placed a hand on her mother’s forearm. “I know you love me and have been praying for me, Mom. But give me a chance to listen to God for myself and trust me to know that I’m hearing what He’s telling me to do.” Jordan realized that there was much for her to still learn, but this alone was a huge step for her.
Bernice rested her hand atop Jordan’s. “I know, Baby. I just don’t want you to end up like me—by yourself at a mature age.”
“Mom, you’re never alone. You have me, your friends, relatives, your church family, and most importantly, God.”
Bernice’s smile barely reached her eyes as she rose to take their lunch dishes into the kitchen.
“I can’t believe you broke it off with David!” Ariah said, hands waving in the air.
“Yeah, what’s up with that?” Sasha asked from her seat beside Jordan.
Jordan loved her best friends, but Ariah could have a one-track mind when it came to love, and Sasha swore she had no time for a relationship, yet believed in fairytales for everyone else. Jordan began to realize that her friends and Mom only saw what appeared to be perfect in her relationship.
They saw what was on the outside of the relationship and didn’t walk in Jordan’s shoes. Jordan and David presented a good front to what many wanted: two people meeting online, falling in love, and Jordan finally having someone to bring to faculty events at her college, other friends’ weddings, and even to church if and when David decided to go. Little did they know Jordan’s shoes were difficult ones to walk in. On the inside of her relationship and her heart was someone who chose to settle with a cheater and compromise on her beliefs.
After the eventful morning and lunch with her mother on the same day, Jordan had to take some time to regroup. She had headed to Ariah’s that evening to talk things through. She had called Sasha on the ride over, and she said she’d be there too. Her best friends had seen her through many relationship crises in the past. This one was another to add to the list.
Jordan sighed, rising from the barstool stationed in Ariah’s eclectic kitchen. Jordan always found a calming peace here. The kitchen’s walls were light orange, with one accent wall in yellow. It was Ariah’s signature color, the color that reminded her of sunshine and relaxation. Jordan took a deep breath while closing her eyes, then exhaled.
This kitchen was the place where their trio shared many prayers, Bible studies, and talks that would last for hours. In the midst of the African art that adorned the walls and the plants that aligned the open areas near the ceiling, they’d grown from the young women who knew little about God to more mature women who sought God for all things. The walls of this kitchen could tell their stories until they were grey-haired old ladies with walkers.
Jordan answered without turning to face her friends, “It had to end. Things weren’t what they appeared to be. The sparks had faded and we were not on the same page. There were two different relationships going on. For a while, I thought it could work and things would come together, but I also felt that God was leading me in a different direction.” She was now near the window, looking out over Ariah’s backyard. The setting sun causing a golden glow to reflect off the trees, illuminating shadows on the walls.
Ariah shook her head, her braided hair swiping her shirt collar, “I don’t get it; you two were perfect together. From day one, you said that you had “the feeling” that he was “The One.”
There were obliviously some things Jordan had omitted from her conversations with them about the changes in her relationship during the past few months; namely, her suspicions about Jasmine.
“Sometimes, we’re blinded by love and see what we want we see. Even settle,” Jordan answered, turning to face them. Crossing her arms across her chest, Jordan imagined the scene with David from earlier. It definitely was not good.
“What do you mean, ‘settle’?” Sasha asked. Although Sasha had a belief in fairytales, she also had the no-nonsense attitude that took her to the top of the field in her family’s interior design business. Sasha walked over to Jordan, standing next to her at the window. Jordan had no choice but to face her friend.
“He was seeing someone else.”
Jordan heard Ariah gasp as the cup she held fell into the sink with a clank. “What! You have to be kidding us. You never said anything about another woman.” Ariah came over to stand with them.
“Jasmine, that’s her name, appeared a few months ago. I came across some texts from her, but David said it was over. When I went to Mrs. Johns’ today, she said that David had brought Jasmine in there with him not too long ago. I was on the fence about things in our relationship, but that was further confirmation. When did I let myself settle into a relationship where being with a cheater and sleeping with him became okay?” Jordan’s voice rose with each statement.
Sasha rested a hand on Jordan’s forearm.
“That jerk. I want to say some other words, but y’all are lucky I’m saved now,” Sasha said, removing her hand and pointing up to the ceiling towards heaven.
Jordan said to her feisty friend, “It’s not all his fault, Sasha. I had a role in this too.” She felt a shiver thinking about the earlier scene at her house.
As if reading her mind, Ariah inquired, “So how did things end? How did David take it?”
“Not well at all. He didn’t understand why I’d want to end things, although we’ve had similar conversations before. He also wanted to act as if Jasmine was not an issue. He even reminded me of his idea to move in together. I brought up how the relationship and what we were doing weren’t lining up with where God wanted me to be. This escalated into a debate on God and how He didn’t fit into our actions the night before.”
Jordan paused when Ariah rested a hand on Jordan’s shoulder, but continued on, “I should’ve walked away from this when I first learned about Jasmine. I was so caught up in my mom’s wishes for me and not having to answer her constant questions that I stayed in this. Regardless of what my mom wanted, I gave into my flesh and remained in a situation that I never thought I would.”
“There probably wouldn’t have been a good time to end it, but it had to happen,” Jordan said, stepping away from her friends to retake a seat on the barstool. Various emotions radiated throughout her. She needed a little space to continue.
“Later in the day, after lunch with my mom, I stopped by his place to get my things. David basically put whatever I did have at his home in boxes and left them on the front step.”
Jordan rubbed her hands up and down her arms to ward off another shiver that appeared. Standing on David’s front porch, while a neighbor walked by gawking, was not how she wanted to be remembered. It really could’ve played out better. Jordan’s shoulders slumped as she rested her chin on her folded hands. Her eyebrows knitted together as the scene replayed for her.
“The lunch with my mom didn’t help. I got the usual lecture about singlehood and finding a husband. Sometimes, I think she’d rather have me be with any man than the right man. She and the women in her prayer group are leaving out no prayers about a husband in my future, my near future.” Today was turning out to be the longest day of her life.
Jordan’s friends had been there so many times for her after talks between Jordan and her mom. “Tsk, tsk, tsk,” came from Ariah’s mouth as she shook her head. She walked back over to the sink, reclaiming the mug that had fallen earlier. Sasha reclaimed her seat on the barstool.
“We already know that your mom came out with both barrels smoking, Honey, but you can’t let her get to you.” Sasha said. “Did David try to contact you?”
Jordan shook her head, “No, but he still has to come by to get his things from my place. Preferably, I will not be at home. I can’t relive another day like today. I’ll text him and let him know to come by before I get home from work and ask him to leave his key to my place under the Welcome mat outside the front door. Better yet, I’ll have his things ready for him in the foyer. Definitely not outside the front door like he did with me.”
“So what’s next for you?” Ariah asked. She’d finished with the dishes and reached over the counter to place a hand over Jordan’s now folded ones. Jordan didn’t really have an answer for Ariah’s question. It was one that she’d continued to ask herself. Here she was, thirty-one years old, out of a relationship that was wrong for her, with no new prospects on the horizon. Yes, it had been her decision to end the relationship, but where was she to go from here?
Jordan lifted her shoulders in a shrug, looked at Ariah, and answered, “I don’t know, but I can’t continue to go against God, repeating the same mistakes again and again. It’s not the time for me to get into another relationship, nor rehash the past. The best I can do is to grow from here.” They stood to embrace in a tight group-hug. Jordan had no clue what she’d do without these lifelong friends.
Excerpted from chapter 3 of Back to You by Arlisia Potter, available for purchase on Amazon. Used with permission.