"Monique Cheri Anderson, you are going to bust hell wide open! You can't just come between a man and his wife and think God's not gonna take notice! The devil is a crackhead liar if he thinks that I raised you to be a home wrecker, and I know that I certainly didn't raise you to be a ho!" Bernadette Anderson stood over her daughter, wagging her finger in her face. "What happened to your morals, girl?"
Cheri dropped her head. She had grown up in this house. In this kitchen, from this very table, she had learned many of life's lessons from her mother. Bernadette had raised both her daughters here. So far they had turned out well, graduating from college and becoming assets to society. Sandra, seven years older than her sister, first started off as a math teacher at the local high school. After getting her master's degree, she became principal, and now she was dean of student development at the community college. But she was most proud of Monique Cheri, who, at first, could not seem to find her way in the media industry; now she was a local celebrity, anchoring the morning news for channel six in Philadelphia-and she didn't want anything to tarnish her banner accomplishments.
Cheri had always been secretive, but her mother never imagined that her baby girl would turn out to be the mysterious woman having a long-time affair with one of the most prominent pastors in South Jersey. "What is wrong with you, girl?" Bernadette asked as if trying to make some sense of the whole thing.
Cheri looked up at her mother with pleading eyes, wanting desperately to make her understand. "I love him, Mama."
"You don't know what love is," Bernadette replied between clenched teeth.
Once again, Cheri dropped her gaze to the floor. "I can't help how I feel."
"It's not about what you feel, it's about obeying God. I can't believe Pastor Owens would leave his wife and children, disgracing himself before the Almighty-and for what? Feelings? It's a scandal and a shame. And to think a child that came from my own body has allowed this vile thing to be committed through her." Bernadette, short in stature but large, walked to the kitchen sink, snatched off her apron, and tossed it onto the counter. She weighed over two hundred and fifty pounds and she carried her weight with the appearance of authority. She looked up to the ceiling, searching for the words to say to make her child understand that what she was about to do was not only immoral but selfish. "How can God be pleased with this ... this ... horrendous thing you speak of doing? It's an abomination to the Lord!"
"Mama, please, just let me explain," Cheri implored.
Her mother either ignored her or simply didn't hear her plea. "Jesus, Lord, what are people going to say? He's supposed to be a man of God, but now I know all the talk about him is true. I know you heard about him being caught at the Red Roof Inn with his secretary, so you know you're not the only one. If he'll leave his wife for you, then you can expect to be the next victim. Do you hear me? You reap what you sow."
"Mama, just give me..."
"I've never seen a farmer plant corn and it come up peas. You reap what you sow, you hear me?"
Cheri didn't say a word to defend her man, even though she knew the real story behind the rumor. The fact of the matter was it was she who had met Pastor Preston Owens at the Red Roof Inn on that now infamous day. After they made love, he had fallen asleep and she quietly left him in the room spitefully taking his clothes with her. She had been angry with him, angry because she wasn't Mrs. Preston Owens. She was also angry because she was a soon to be thirty-one-year-old woman who had never been married and he had denied her something mostly every woman in the world wanted, children. So, on that day, she left the hotel with everything except his shoes. Pastor Owens had to call his secretary to bring him one of the suits he kept at the church. His secretary had been mistaken for the "other woman" when a member from another church saw her leaving the hotel moments before the pastor. It was because of this that the rumor had started, exposing a half-truth.