They exited the cab laughing. He placed his hand at the small of her back as they entered the Hotel Exelon with no luggage. They walked by never noticing me, or my jaw hanging in astonishment. Passersby gave me a second look as I stood motionless on the sidewalk, but the couple, obviously in love, never did. The doorman welcomed them in as a kiss passed between them. They were gone in an instant, but I was riveted in one spot by the outrageousness of it. I couldn’t believe that she would do such a thing.
When I recovered my senses, I pressed speed dial #4…my best friend, Shanell. I resumed the short walk to work from the parking garage, pulling my portable file on wheels behind me with one hand and holding my phone in the other.
Hello, you’ve reached Shanell McGomery. Leave a message!
“Shan - listen - call me back right away. You won’t believe what I just saw. It’s big. Seriously, call me!”
I knew if Shanell was able to call, I’d hear back instantly. Within a minute, my phone chimed with her special ring, just as I entered the foyer of the building.
Without waiting for her to ask, I launched in. “Oh my gosh, Shan! You’re not going to believe it. I’m so upset!”
“Take a breath, Natalie. You sound like you are hyperventilating.”
After a couple of slow deep breaths, I started again. “Okay, so I was walking on my usual route from the garage to my office and a cab stopped at the sidewalk about twenty feet in front of me. No big deal, right? But then out came Misty, Pastor Daniel’s wife. I was about to call out to her when a man came out of the cab behind her. They were laughing like they knew some inside joke, and he walked her inside with his hand on her lower back. Just before they went inside he leaned down and kissed her, and it was not a peck on the cheek! I only saw the side of his face but I know it wasn’t Pastor Daniel.”
Shanell was silent on the other end of the line.
“This is big, Nat. Wow. I’ve got to make some phone calls. I’ll get back to you.”
At lunch, I got a call from Shan’s brother Tom.
“Hey, Natalie, can you tell me what you saw? I can’t believe it’s true.”
I repeated what I saw to him – and to six more people before the end of the day. The last was Ed Stevens, head deacon.
“Listen, Natalie, we’ve heard about what you saw. We’ve called a meeting to inform Pastor Daniels what Misty is doing. But, because of everyone’s schedules, we won’t be able to do it until after Sunday’s service. Let’s keep this quiet until then.”
But the news was flying, and I received several more phone calls. One wanted to know if I’d asked Misty her side of things. Why would I need to do that? Her side of things was plain as day. No one could have been on the scene and not come to the same conclusion. A woman doesn’t act like that with a man that’s just a friend. Especially as they go into a hotel.
My phone rang endlessly and I grew tired of explaining it. I wanted to be done with this sordid business. My husband was getting suspicious; I know he hates when I gossip. But that’s not what it was. It was a serious threat to our church; I couldn’t just pretend I didn’t see it.
Sunday morning, the drive to church was quiet and strained. When we walked into the sanctuary, the hushed tones and furtive glances filled the room with tension that made the car ride seem like a party.
I took a deep breath and we found our usual spot. I knew I wasn’t going to hear a word of the sermon.
The worship leader played the introduction for Pastor Daniel to come up and start the service. Instead, a different, but almost familiar, man walked up and stood at the pulpit. The room went silent; even the guitarist stopped playing.
Just as I was putting two and two together, the man grinned and stroked his chin.
“So, I’m guessing you all don’t recognize your Pastor without the long hair and beard?”
I knew the car ride home was going to be a long one.
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