A New Beginning (Blended Blessings Book 1)
By Michelle Stimpson and CaSandra McLaughlin
Sometimes love doesn’t work out the first time or the second. Now in her third marriage, Angelia is hoping for her happily-ever-after with former pro-football player Darren Holley. But soon after they move into their sprawling mini-mansion, Darren’s new job as a high school football coach in a trophy-hungry Texas town consumes him, leaving Angelia feeling like a single mother to her two children as well as Darren’s twin diva-daughters. Not to mention the drama from Darren’s mother, who can’t get over the fact that her son has married a woman with so much baggage.
When Angelia confides in a few ladies from the local church, their nice, sweet, holy-wife advice may prove ineffective and too burdensome. Should Angelia cut her losses and get out before the ink settles on their marriage certificate, or will she finally learn the true meaning of marriage as she and Darren attempt to blend two very different backgrounds in the face of adversity and nosy church folk?
I closed my eyes and opened them again to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I wanted to be sure that this beautiful 2 story, 6 bedrooms, 3 full baths, 2 half bath house was really mine. Darren had told me that he was ready for us to get settled in a house, but never in a million years did I think it would be like this. I’d seen gated communities on TV and even joked with Darren about living next door to Tyler Perry or even owning a home similar to T.I. and Tiny’s. I never expected Lancing Springs, Texas to have houses this beautiful.
“Angelia, do you like it?”
“Oh my God, Darren, are you kidding me? I love it, honey and I love you too.” I ran into his arms and planted a big kiss on his lips. “I can’t wait to decorate every room.”
“Come on, baby let’s get unpacked; we can worry about decorating later. Amber, Marcus, come on, let’s get these boxes in the house.”
I stood there watching Darren unload the U-Haul truck. I took out my cell phone and decided to take a few selfies with our new house in the background. I couldn’t wait to for all of my family and friends to see that I was finally getting it right. After two failed marriages, I finally understood that the good guy really is the best choice.
The first time around, I was married to my daughter, Amber’s dad, Javar Norell. Javar and I were only together for three years. I honestly thought that we would be together forever, that is, until he started drinking. Javar was a very spontaneous guy. He loved to hang out, take road trips and loved spoiling me with gifts, but I never knew how he was able to afford those gifts. I was so far gone that if Javar told me to jump, I asked how high. My mind was just gone, but that’s what happens when you’re young and in love.
Javar worked for a pest control company for a living, but after being with him for about a year I heard rumors about him being involved with drugs. One night Javar and his brother, Leo were at a party and the police raided the place and Javar got into a shootout with officers. He severely injured one and was shot by another. He survived the gunshot wound, but he might as well have been dead to me, because he’s serving a life sentence without a chance for parole.
Witnesses said that Javar was about to surrender when the police started shooting at him. I was devastated and wanted some answers from the police but wasn’t successful in getting them. When I gave birth to Amber several months later, I filed for divorce and moved on with my life.
That was seventeen years ago. Amber’s a college-bound senior. She’s the quiet, nervous type and she’s a loner and that’s probably because she was the only child for such a long time. Needless to say she’s never given me any trouble and she helps me out a lot with Demarcus.
After Javar came Marcus or should I say Mr. America. Marcus is good looking, a Tyrese look alike and he knows it. I’ve never in my life met a man who stayed in the mirror more than me. Marcus was a great provider and he fulfilled all my needs—and the needs of every other woman he met too. The funny thing about Marcus is that I would catch him cheating and he would lie and sweet talk me into staying with him. The final straw for me was when I found out he had a baby on the way. There I was all in la la land in love with him and so was Trisha; we were pregnant at the same time. Our children were born two days apart. My son Demarcus is eight years old now.
I made up my mind that I was done with love. I had planned to raise my children and be by myself until I met Darren. I remember going to Wal-Mart on an ice cream run. I absolutely love pecan pralines and cream ice cream and was having a serious craving. I threw on some sweats, a t-shirt and my baseball cap and went to the store. I went straight to the ice cream aisle and was livid when I realized they were out of my favorite ice cream. I guess Darren noticed the disgusted look on my face and it prompted him to come see what was going on.
“Is there something I can help you with? You seem to be upset?”
“Well unless you work for Bluebell, ain’t a thing you can do for me.”
I was truly irritated by him.
“Well you might be in luck.” Darren reached in his basket and gave me his ice cream, my favorite, pecan pralines and cream.
I stood there with a huge smile on my face and I thanked him. He asked me for my number. At first I was a little hesitant but then thought, Sure … why not. Darren called me that night and we talked for hours. We even slept on the phone. I was so taken by him, I loved how we were able to share so much in just one night.
He told me about his previous marriage and about his twin daughters, Tyler and Skylar. Darren explained to me that he played professional football for two years but had to quit following a terrible knee injury. His ex-wife, Marcy was all for their marriage until he got hurt. Marcy started straying away from him and things around the house became tense. Darren is a family man so he tried to stay for the sake of his girls, but eventually the stress of being unhappy became too much for him to bear.
“I’m not going to lie,” he admitted, “I could have been a better husband. But we were both in it for the wrong reasons to begin with, I think. Just young and stupid.”
Of course, I could relate.
Darren and Marcy divorced and she and the girls moved to Lancing Springs. Darren threw himself into working as a supervisor at UPS. It wasn’t the dream job but it’s what paid the bills while he earned a teaching certificate and coached league football on the side. Because he’d been made wise investments with his NFL earnings, he was still in good shape financially. So while he knew that teaching wasn’t the highest-paying career, the ongoing dividends from short and long-term investments would always provide a comfortable lifestyle.
Darren and I started dating and fell in love real quick.
I wasn’t used to having a good man, so I had to learn to adjust. Darren is truly one of a kind so when he asked me to be his wife, there was no doubt in my mind that he was the one. Darren loves the game of football. Football is his life, which is why we’re here in Lancing Springs. One of Darren’s coaching friends told him about an opening for the assistant coach position here at the high school. Darren interviewed for the job and here we are. Although Lancing Springs is different from my hometown, Dallas, Texas, I’m sure I’ll adjust. I can always go home to visit; it’s only an hour away.
“Baby, what are you doing?” Darren interrupted my thoughts.
“I’m just admiring the house, still can’t believe it’s ours.”
“Well believe it.” He pulled me close and hugged me tight. “Mrs. Holley, I love you.”
“I love you too, Mr. Holley. Or should I say Coach Holley?”
“Coach Holley. Babe, you don’t know how good it feels to be here. This is a dream come true. I’m finally getting my chance to be a coach.”
“Honey, you deserve it. You’re going to help take this team to the playoffs.”
“Babe, thanks for believing in me and standing by my side. Let’s do a little more unpacking and then we’ll grab a bite to eat.”
“Okay, sounds good; I’ll go upstairs and check on the kids.” Darren kissed me again and to my surprise, swatted my behind.
Demarcus cried, “Ewwww!” from the top of the staircase. He ran out of sight.
“You shouldn’t have been spying!” I teased my son, though I was quite glad that he could now witness healthy affection between a man and a woman. I hoped that someday he would love his wife as much as I believed Darren loved me.
I was enjoying our moment until the phone rang.
“Baby, I’ll get the phone, you go check on the kids.”
“Hello,” I practically sang into the phone.
“Hey Angelia, sweetheart, how are you?”
“I’m fine, Mother Holley we’re trying to get settled in.”
Vivian Holley is my mother-in-law. She is trying to get used to the fact that I stole her baby boy’s heart and she also has an issue with this being my third marriage. When Darren and I married I started out calling her mom, but she insisted that I call her Mother Holley.
“Okay dear, I was just checking in with you all. I’m so happy for y’all; God is doing some great things for you and Darren so hopefully you can find a church for your family to join.”
I try my best to tune Mother Holley out; every time I talk to her she shoves the church down my throat. Mother goes to church every other day and is involved in every ministry they have, from the Usher board to the Sunshine committee. I grew up in church but that wasn’t my thing.
“Angelia, I think it’s a great start and exactly what you need so when Darren gets custody of the girls you’ll all be one big happy saved family.”
“Custody of the girls!” I yelled before I knew it. My head was about to explode.
“Yes dear, that’s part of the reason why Darren accepted the job, so that he can get custody of Tyler and Skylar.”
I felt my blood boiling.
“Angelia, surely you didn’t think that you moved into a house that huge just for your kids,” Mother Holley said with an evil chuckle.
I was starting to sweat and needed to get off the phone with her before I said something I couldn’t take back.
“Angelia, are you still there, dear? Didn’t Darren talk to you about his plans?”
I could just wring this woman’s neck; she knew good and well that I was clueless about this. I took a few deep breaths and replied……..
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Michelle Stimpson is the national bestselling author of more than 25 books and 50 short stories. Her work includes the highly acclaimed Boaz Brown series, the award-winning Mama B series, and the Dafina title Falling Into Grace, which has been optioned for a television movie.
Connect with Michelle on Facebook, Twitter, or by email
CaSandra McLaughlin is a local gospel radio show host who has enjoyed reading and writing for as long as anyone can remember. A native of Marshall, TX, CaSandra loves God, her family, and Mexican food—in that order! A New Beginning is her first book.
Connect with CaSandra on Facebook or by email