Sunday, September 07, 2008
Divorcing the Devil - Dwan Abrams
Divorcing the Devil
Publisher: Urban Books/Kensington (Urban Christian imprint)
Genre: Christian Fiction
Published date: April 29, 2008
Where it can be purchased: http://www.jamesprgroup.com/dwan
For Skyler Little, it’s not easy being a psychoanalyst and a Christian. Sometimes it’s hard not getting drawn into her patients’ personal lives filled with adultery, abuse and turmoil. Yet, she remains steadfast in providing them with the best in Christian counseling. She even counsels her friend, Gabriella, who has just learned that her husband is cheating on her.
But when Skyler learns whom Gabriella’s husband is cheating on her with, things start to spiral out of control, and she is now caught in the middle. Can Skyler get herself out of this situation, or can anyone be spared when you try to divorce the devil?
I felt so good this morning, like a kitten after someone has scratched under his chin and given him a bowl of chilled milk. My body tingles as I think about the night of passion my husband Donovan and I shared. I loved watching him sleep. The way the satin cover draped over his trim waist, exposing just a hint of his toned thighs. Dreadlocks scattered in different directions over the pillow. Skin the color of pecans. He was sexy with a capital "S."
Donovan opened his chestnut brown eyes and yawned. Rubbing the stubble on his chin, he cooed, "Good morning, baby."
I loved his Jamaican accent. I gave him a naughty smile, letting him know I was very pleased with last night's performance.
"Good morning yourself. Sleep well?" I kissed him on the lips and caressed his muscular chest.
"Like a bear in hibernation." He stretched and yawned. "You got any appointments today?"
It was Monday morning and I had two clients who had regular appointments with me every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Their times changed depending on their schedules, but the days remained the same. I rolled over and glanced at the clock. It read 7:30 a.m.
"I actually have one at nine o'clock."
"Too bad. I was hoping we could continue where we left off." He wrapped his arms around me.
I kissed him again and freed myself from his embrace. I stretched my arms and legs before placing my bare feet on the cold hardwood floor. I went into the bathroom and brushed my teeth before stepping into a hot shower. The pulsating water kneaded against my flesh like a million little fingers. It felt so good I didn't want to get out. That's exactly what I needed to wake up because there was something about Monday mornings that made getting out of bed more difficult. Especially on Sundays, since Donovan and I usually went to mid-morning worship service and brunch immediately afterward.
My eyes were closed as I tilted my head back and allowed the water to dance against my neck. Then I heard the glass shower door open. A sudden surge of cold air clung to my body like the plastic sweat suits people wore in the eighties for rapid weight loss.
"Hey," I said as I opened my eyes and turned my head in the same direction as the breeze.
Donovan stepped into the shower. Rather than complaining about the sweltering water as he usually did, he turned the knob to a cooler temperature. I didn't say anything. I could tell he was feeling amorous by the way he touched me. Ordinarily, I would never leave my husband in such a state, but I had an appointment. I had to go. As a psychoanalyst, I realized that the male ego was fragile. This situation needed to be handled with tender, loving care.
I turned to face him. "Donovan, I would like nothing better than to spend the entire day in your arms."
The water began to mist on his wheat-colored dreadlocks. I looked at his six-pack and lost my train of thought. If I leave this fine man alone, I'll be the one needing a therapist. I quickly reeled myself back in, reminding myself that my patients depended on me. Being responsible wasn't an option, it was a job requirement.
So I said, "I'll be home early. We can have a romantic dinner and pick up where we left off."
A romantic dinner for us meant sitting down at the same time and eating food that wasn't take-out or delivery.
He pursed his lips, pretended to pout, and asked, "What's your definition of early?"
"No later than six o'clock."
"I'm gonna hold you to it." He pointed sternly.
I smiled, grabbed my towel and stepped out of the shower. Donovan remained behind. I stayed in the bathroom while I put light makeup on my tawny-colored skin, smeared gloss on my thin lips and pulled my long, jet black hair into a tight bun. I usually blow-dried my hair straight, but today I left it in its naturally curly state.
While studying my reflection in the mirror, I noticed that my sharp features and high cheekbones looked more European than black. Donovan says I look like Mariah Carey. Like most women though, I could point out numerous things about my appearance that I'd love to change, and my lips are one. I think they're too thin. I'd love to have those full, luscious lips like Angelina Jolie.
Donovan finished showering and started shaving. I went into the Victorian-style bedroom and put on sexy lingerie underneath my black silk crepe de chine flapper dress with ecru collar and cuffs and completed the ensemble with a pearl necklace. I usually wore lingerie underneath my work attire because it made me feel sexy. It reminded me not to take myself too seriously and enjoy life. And the fact that Donovan loved it didn't hurt either.
I returned to the bathroom just as Donovan was spitting his mouthwash into the sink. He dried his mouth with a hand towel.
"You look too good to leave the house." Donovan smiled, revealing beautiful white teeth.
I couldn't stop the blush. After three years of marriage, he still had a way of making me feel giddy.
"Thanks." I kissed him on the lips. His breath was cool and smelled like mint. "Have a good day."
"You too. And what time are you going to be home again?"
"By six." I reiterated my point by holding up six fingers.
I walked downstairs into the family room where my designer all-in-one briefcase-handbag-purse waited for me at the door like a puppy needing to go out. I picked it up along with my keys and left.
While driving in my BMW 325 along Peachtree Street in Atlanta, I noticed the brilliance of the sky. It reminded me of a day when I was around five or six years old, and I asked my dad why the sky was blue. He replied, "A clear sky on a sunny day appears blue because of Rayleigh scattering of the light from the sun." My dad had a PhD and was a rocket scientist. Those types of answers weren't uncommon coming from him.
I realized at an early age that I liked smart men and that I wanted to be smart. My dad and I would read the newspaper together and discuss current events. He would tell me that there was nothing more attractive than a beautiful woman with brains. That stuck with me. I studied hard and graduated from high school when I was fourteen years old. I went straight to college at my mom's Alma Mater.
After graduating from New York University, I attended NYU School of Medicine. Then I enrolled in NYU Psychoanalytic Institute. I decided to become a psychoanalyst because the human mind fascinated me. I liked thinking outside of the box and helping people. It gave me a sense of accomplishment. I felt as if my life had purpose, meaning.
Donovan and I met four years ago while we were both living in New York. I was twenty-eight and he was thirty. I was working as an assistant clinical professor at NYU. We were at a Jewish deli located on Second Avenue in East Village. While we were waiting for our lunch orders, we struck up casual conversation and ended up sitting together at one of the plain white tables lining the wall. Donovan told me that his family had migrated from Jamaica to New York during the Jamaican slave trade. He had a PhD and worked as a product development chemist. I was immediately attracted to him because--it's true--women are attracted to men who remind them of their fathers. Since I held my father in high esteem, my standards for a mate were equally lofty.
Donovan's family lived in New York, and I had met his parents, four brothers, three sisters, and a slew of nieces and nephews. I loved his family. Donovan was the youngest child and didn't have any children from his previous relationships. As an only child, I always dreamed of having a big family. His family "adopted" me, and I adored them. It warmed my heart to hear his nieces and nephews refer to me as "Aunty."
Donovan and I had been dating for six months before I took him home to Boca Raton, Florida to meet my parents. Donovan insisted on meeting my parents because he said he wanted to marry me. We went to visit my parents during the Christmas holidays. My dad had retired from NASA and my mom owned a dance studio. He was the only guy I had ever taken home. I had devoted so much of my time studying that Donovan was the first serious relationship I ever had.
When my parents met Donovan, they fell in love with him too. I knew Donovan would end up being my husband when my dad told me I had a good guy on my hands. We got married in Florida at my parents' church. Not long afterward, Donovan and I relocated from New York to Atlanta because Donovan got a job at Coca-Cola.
I arrived at my office fifteen minutes early and Yahkie, my assistant, greeted me. My stomach was grumbling, and I was famished. I wished I had grabbed a bagel or something.
"Good morning, boss lady," Yahkie said, sounding chipper and handing me a cup of freshly brewed coffee. "Just the way you like it: black with two sugars. I left you a Chick-Fil-A chicken biscuit on your desk, too."
I couldn't help but smile.
"How did you know I'd be hungry?" I tried to play it off.
"Are you kidding me? You're always hungry, but you hate to cook breakfast. You don't like to wake up early. You'd rather spend your time sleeping or getting to know your fine husband in the biblical sense. You know I know you."
I couldn't resist laughing. Yahkie had been my assistant since I started my practice two years ago. I'll never forget the way he came into my office for his interview. It was summertime and he wore a blue-and-white seersucker suit. He looked chic. Even though he tried to tone down his flamboyant ways for the interview, I could tell he would let loose once given the opportunity. He was the most fashionable man I had ever met. His appearance is meticulous. From his neatly cut hair to his manicured fingers, he was a vision of togetherness. Even beyond the physical, he was highly organized and took the initiative. I was impressed with him the first day we met, and he had exceeded my expectations.
"Thanks for breakfast. I'll try to finish in time for my nine o'clock," I promised as I walked into my suite. A wooden bookcase lined with hardcover books ranging from the Greek classics to textbooks to self-help greeted me when I entered.
I placed my mug on top of my oak desk and slid my case underneath. Then I sat down on a soft, black leather, high-back chair and ate. The breakfast sandwich hit the spot. I dabbed the corners of my mouth and checked my Omega. The time was 9:28 a.m. A couple of minutes later my intercom buzzed. It was Yahkie telling me that Monday Jackson, my new patient, had arrived. I was glad she showed up on time because late arrivals threw off my schedule. I dumped my trash in the receptacle located on the side of my desk and told him to send her in.
I walked from behind my desk and extended my hand to her. "Monday, I'm Dr. Skyler Little. It's a pleasure to meet you."
We gave each other a firm handshake. She flashed a smile that revealed tiny teeth that looked like Chiclets. She appeared to be at least five foot six and weighed about 250 pounds. Although she was portly, she carried herself well. She wore a yellow shirt, black slacks and black high heels. Her makeup was flawless.
"Nice to meet you, too," she replied.
I offered her a seat on the gray sofa as I sat next to her on a chaise decorated in a black-and-beige African design motif. The various animal prints, such as cheetah, leopard and zebra, covering several chairs around my office revealed that I have a sanguine personality.
I told her that I preferred to record all of my sessions so that I could refer back to them if necessary. I assured her the tapes were for my personal use and wouldn't be shared with anyone without her permission or a court order. Then I explained that I begin and end every session with prayer. She informed me that she attended church regularly and was perfectly fine with us praying together. So we proceeded.
We bowed our heads and closed our eyes as I prayed aloud.
"Heavenly Father, thank You for this day. I pray that You be with us during this meeting. Lord, use me as a vessel for the up-building of Your Kingdom. It is my humble prayer that I decrease so that You may increase. Let the meditations of my heart be pleasing and acceptable in Your sight. Remove any obstacle that could hinder me from being an effective witness for You. Forgive us for our sins of omission and commission. In Jesus' name, we pray, Amen." Then I asked, "So, what brings you here today?"
She pointed at a five-by-seven framed photo sitting on the corner of my desk and asked if it was a picture of me and my husband. I glanced at the photo and told her that we had taken it last year when we were in Jamaica for vacation.
"Nice. Is that where you're from?"
I was taken aback by her question. No one had ever asked me that before.
"Not me--my husband," I explained.
She nodded her head and smiled. "You make a lovely couple."
"Thanks." I asked her again to tell me why she came to see me. I wondered why she kept avoiding the question.
"May I call you Sky?" She shifted in her seat.
"Sure, whatever works for you. Lots of people call me that."
"Sky, I have a problem." She crossed her right leg over her left. It made her legs seem as long as stilts. "My boyfriend suggested I talk to someone because he can't seem to help me."
I acknowledged by nodding my head.
"I don't know where to begin."
I explained to her that counseling sessions were a process and that we weren't going to resolve her issues in one meeting. I asked her to tell me about her childhood and her parents.
"My family," she sighed, "is complicated. My mom and dad were married until I was five. After they divorced, I never saw my dad again."
"Before we continue," I said, "would you please tell me the names of your parents so that I won't have to keep referring to them as your mother and father?"
"Sure. Paige and Stan."
"Thanks. Please continue."
Monday told me that Paige and Stan's marriage began to deteriorate due to infidelity. She said they argued a lot. After Paige accused Stan of child molestation, they divorced.
"Did Stan molest you?" I rubbed the back of my neck with my right hand, indicating this wasn't easy for me to listen to. Every time one of my patients revealed that she had been molested, I could feel tension creeping its way into my neck like a cheating husband trying to slip into his marital bed undetected after he's been with his lover. I maintained my professional composure even though, deep inside, I felt angry. Children are innocent. The thought of someone violating them infuriated me. I fought back revealing my disgust.
Monday uncrossed her legs. "Yes. He used to fondle me and actually penetrated me when I was…five." Her eyes welled with tears. I offered her a box of Kleenex. She pulled a couple of tissues out of the box and dabbed the corners of her sparkling eyes. "My mom flipped out when she found out," she continued. "Burned him on the arm with an iron. Threw him out of the house and then reported him to child services."
I rubbed my arm. I empathized with how painful it must've felt to be burned with an iron. I did not advocate or condone violence, but I could understand how a mother could be driven to such drastic behavior because of the love of her child. Then I asked, "Did he go to jail?"
"Yes. A social worker conducted an investigation, and I had to see a child psychiatrist."
Not long afterward, the timer went off, notifying us our session had ended. There was so much more I wanted to say, but I told her we'd resume the conversation at our next appointment. We prayed, and she left.
I checked my inspirational desk calendar and noticed that I had a few minutes before my next appointment, so I called Donovan on his cell phone. As soon as he said "'Ello," I puckered my lips and blew a short series of kisses into the receiver. Then I hung up. We called those "drive-bys." We did a drive-by whenever one of us was thinking about the other but didn't have enough time for a drawn out conversation. It was an alternative to saying "I love you."
I had to purge my mind so that I could mentally prepare for my upcoming meeting with Ambrosia. She had been my patient for the past six months. Her father died when she was little, and her mother never remarried. When I met Ambrosia, she was in a relationship with a married man, and they had two children together. Her relationship had soured, and she needed someone to talk to. She came to see me because she figured I would listen without judging her.
Yahkie came barging into my office, interrupting my thoughts like he was a policeman making a drug bust before the suspects could get away.
"Boss lady!" He closed the door behind him, arms flailing in the air. "Ambrosia is in the lobby, and she looks a hot mess! She looks like she's been fighting with Iron Mike Tyson of old and lost! Bruises everywhere! Got on shades! I bet she got a black eye!"
My heart raced and I dipped my head in thought. I felt nervous. "Bring her back."
Yahkie left my office. My mind was on emotional overload. I wrung my hands and paced the floor. As a professional, I knew better than to get personally involved in the lives of my clients, but as a person, I couldn't help but care. When Ambrosia entered, I stopped pacing. Seeing her in that condition made my stomach drop, the same as riding a roller coaster ride at Six Flags and without holding your breath. The Jackie O.-type shades she wore covered half her oval-shaped face and were in direct contrast with her milky white skin. I didn’t bother to ask her to take them off, even though I could see blotchy red spots on her cheeks and that her bottom lip was swollen. The thought of what hid behind those glasses scared me. I didn't want to see because I knew I'd get more upset than I already was. I took a deep breath. She closed the door behind her. I exhaled.
"What happened?" I asked.
I walked over to Ambrosia and wrapped my arms around her. Even though I'm five foot six, athletic and have an "apple bottom," as Donovan would say, standing next to Ambrosia's shapely but petite self, I felt like an Amazon. She clung to me the way a baby black howler monkey clings to its mother's fur. She sobbed on my shoulder so hard that her body shook. I closed my eyes and told her to let it out. As she continued to cry, I silently prayed for her. I stroked her highlighted auburn hair. She didn't have to tell me what was wrong because experience had taught me it had something to do with her babies' daddy.
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