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       MAX AND DONNA          

Max pulled up in front of Calvary United African Christian Church and to his surprise, found a parking spot close to the door. He got out quickly, checking his watch to see if he was on time for his appointment.           

I don’t want to keep Pastor waiting. I’m sure he’s got a lot to do besides talk to me about whatever’s on his mind.

Max went through the sanctuary, out the side door and into the hallway containing the meeting rooms. As he rounded a corner, he heard muffled conversations and movement of chairs from a room directly in front of him. The door opened, and just like that his dream woman was coming towards him. Max froze for a millisecond, even as his brain screamed at him to say something before she could leave.

“Uh, hello.”

She smiled radiantly, and Max nearly melted. “Hi.”

Max felt as though English was his second language. He forced his words past a suddenly thick tongue. “Is, uh, is Pastor Nathan inside?”Donna struggled slightly with her own words. “Yes, he just finished with New Members Class.”

Some of Max’s nervousness faded as he sensed his opening. “Oh, that’s why I’ve never met you before. I’m Max Carson.”

She smiled again and extended her hand. “Donna Randall.”

As their palms met, Max was overpowered by a vision. He and Donna were in the midst of a large social gathering of some kind. He wore a black suit and Donna wore a festive white gown; the implication was clear.Donna was stunned silent for a different reason. She was back in her dream, in those some woods beside that same clear body of water kissing the same man whose face she couldn’t quite make out, and it felt like Paradise.

“Hey there, Bro. Max. I see you’ve met my star pupil.”

Both of them jumped slightly as their joint focus returned to the here and now.           Pastor Travis Nathan suppressed a laugh as he sized up the situation.“Sister Donna and the other new members will receive the Right Hand Of Fellowship at the eleven o’clock service tomorrow, but it looks like you’re way ahead of me.”

Both of them immediately turned a shade of red neither of them thought they could attain. Pastor Nathan looked pleased and decided to test Max further.

“Brother Max, this is Donna’s friend, Yolanda Mason. Sister Yolanda, this is Max Carson. He’s one of my good members.”

The pastor gestured to a woman Max hadn’t even noticed was there. Yolanda stood near Donna with an amused look on her face. Max suppressed his surprise and greeted Yolanda without a trace of nervousness.

I was right, the pastor thought. I believe Max knows what he wants, and it’s not a date with Yolanda.

“You’re right on time for our appointment, Brother Max. Everyone else has gone, so we can meet in here instead of going to my office. Is that okay with you?”

Max was determined to muster up some shred of dignity. “Sounds good to me. Ladies, it was nice to have met you. See you in church tomorrow?"

Yolanda spoke for a suddenly speechless Donna. “Sure, see you tomorrow. Nice to have met you too.”

The two women walked out in silence. Max watched them until they turned the corner.

Pastor Nathan smiled. “Looks to me like we have more to discuss then just establishing a church newsletter.”

Max chuckled. “That’s an understatement.”  

Max Carson and Donna Randall explore their spiritual gifts.Merry Lucas wants money and revenge.God has plans for them all.

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            MERRY LUCAS

Merry couldn’t figure out the best way to kill her father.           

She had thought through a dozen different scenarios, each of which would hasten his admission into Gracelawn Internment Center. However, each of these methods would also ensure Merry a very long stay in the Baylor Women’s Correctional Institute, and quite possibly the notoriety of becoming one of the few women in Delaware history to receive the death penalty.           

I can’t just walk up and shoot him, Merry thought, and I can’t just go set his house on fire. It has to be something less suspicious.           

Merry had awakened screaming for the seventh time in as many days, and with little hope of getting back to sleep, had chosen to get up and do some work. However, work failed to distract her attention this time. Nothing could, not after her father had humiliated her yet again.           

I should have known better than to call him, she thought. The only way I’ll ever see a penny of that money is if he dies and I inherit it. And there are a whole lot of folks ahead of me in the will.           

She made a mental checklist of those family members: Karl’s current wife Taylor, Merry’s brother Bryan and Merry’s mother, Lorraine Lucas.     

It’ll be tricky, but I can make sure Karl dies and that there’s no competition when it comes time for his estate to be settled. And when that happens, I can afford to live in the style to which I’d love to become accustomed.             

Laughing, she turned on her TV and VCR and set to work again.