SOLDIERS OF THE CROSS by KL Belvin, Maurice M Gray Jr & Isaiah David Paulis about two weeks away.
PRE-ORDER NOW at www.BravinPublishing.com use discount code "Soldiers" at check out to get 15% discount until Jan. 6, 2014 (Books official release date is Jan 7th, 2014)
This Christian fiction anthology will touch all who read, even if you are a follow of the faith or not. The stories will grip you attention and cause to take a moment to consider each of the character's actions. Pre-Order your copy today. It will make a great gift for the holiday season. Check out the excerpts yourself.
by KL Belvin
Sitting on the edge of the bed in a room fit for a king, Kevin looked into the full-length mirror that sat upon the master dresser. “Why do you need so many women?” he muttered, staring at himself as he speaks. “This is what you spend your money on? Brother, this wasn’t how you were raised!” As Kevin looked around the one-bedroom unit with its streamline plasma screen television, small lounge area with a table set for possibly two or three more guests, conveniently outfitted with a mini refrigerator, microwave, sink and walk-in closet, he pondered his questions. Trying to clear his head and quiet his conscience, Kevin paced while waiting for his female guest to finish showering. He settled into a leather office chair behind the large executive desk and rested his bare feet on the plush carpet. He loved the feel of it on his feet; it came in handy when he was doing his dirty deeds. Kevin had just spent the past three hours in the comfort of a plush hotel suite near John F. Kennedy International Airport. There were many hideaways along the airport’s hotel strip, which Kevin used as his sexual playground. However, the Hilton provided Kevin the luxury he enjoyed while granting him use of his educator’s discount. This discount made it affordable for him to run his many escapades with various ladies as a McDonald's turns over hamburgers. Seeing his phone blinking Kevin knows it's not the best time to pick up the phone. Brazenly, he does it anyway. “Hello?” he speaks into the receiver. “Oh hello Ms. Jackson,” he looks around the corner and notices his guest is still in the shower, “yes the homework is due by the end of the week. Terell needs to make sure he completes the assignment.”Kevin looks in the mirror again—he smirks and licks his lips, “So what are you wearing?”Kevin got annoyed when Ms. Jackson didn’t answer his question right away, “I know he is in the room, but I wanted to have some fun. Are we still on for next week when Terell goes to his father's house?”The confirmation brings a wicked smile to Kevin’s face. “I can't wait. I still have a smile from the last time we played teacher/bad student. I know you liked it. Well me go Ms. Jackson, I am grading some papers. We'll talk soon. Make sure he does that homework.” Kevin made sure to end the phone call so he doesn't get caught by his guest. He goes back to looking at himself in the mirror with a look of disgust. The shower stopped while Kevin sat gazing from the desk. He looked over at the bathroom and watched Karen walked out of the doorway of the steam-filled bathroom. Her full-figured silhouette stood naked at the door with only a towel wrapped around her head. Her arms were folded, legs spread shoulder-length apart, with a look of discontent on her face as she leaned on the wall in the small doorway. Kevin wasn’t quite sure what to make of her expression. “You look sexy, baby. Why are looking at me like that?” Kevin asked with a Cheshire cat grin on his well-shaven face. “Were you on the phone?” Karen says as she reaches to turn off the light in the bathroom. “Just speaking to Ms. Jackson, Terell Jackson's mother. Kevin offers. Karen smiles. “I love that young man he is so well mannered. His mother is so sweet, I can reach her anytime I need to speak to her about her son's performance.” Karen expression sounds like that of the caring teacher she is. “She is sexy too.” Kevin blurts out. “Excuse me?” Karen says with her hands crossed and negative look to her face. “Kevin, I better not hear about you messing with any of the parents of these children. They have enough problems to deal with.” Karen says firmly. Kevin with a coy grin says, “I would never do such thing. I was nervous just speaking to you when I first met you.” Kevin's lies are polished and Karen has no way of knowing what she has gotten herself involved in. Kevin walked his way into Karen’s world at Canarsie Middle School where they both taught. She was the new teacher on the block, and he was the quick-witted, handsome, and well-dressed brother who made her smile in the administrative meetings with is winks, smooth-toned voice, and willingness to assist a teacher in need. Little did she know he made many of the ladies smile in other physical ways. Kevin mastered the art of making his flirtatious points, professionally of course, while intoxicating whoever was in his crosshairs. For over five months, their jobs as teachers kept them teetering on whether or not to end this secret relationship. But Kevin made it difficult with each sexual romp. Kevin pulled one of the many towels off the bed and flicked it at her while she dried off. “Kevin, you love to take all the towels out the bathroom when you shower. You are so selfish.” Karen walked around to the other side of the bed where her clothes laid in a pile and joined Kevin who had moved onto the bed. “Please, sexy, just get dressed, I’m good.” Kevin says in voice just over a whisper.
CALLED OUTSIDE THE LINES
by Maurice M. Gray, Jr.
“Next point wins, young’un. Remember, when I finish you off, the deal is, we sit down together. I talk, you listen.”Nineteen-year-old Javon Flowers studied his pastor; both were exhausted, but neither was willing to concede the game. The score was tied at twenty. Javon chuckled. “A’ight. And when I finish you off, the deal is you pay for dinner, not to mention you stop trying to preach to me.”They touched fists lightly and got back to it. What looked like the entire congregation surrounded the basketball court, enjoying this unexpected entertainment at the annual church barbecue. “Let’s finish it then.”“Ball in, ‘old head.’ Oh, ‘scuse me. Pastor Old Head.”Pastor Travis Nathan smiled, prayed silently for strength and skill and passed the ball. Javon started to dribble up the court, making a few token fakes to take the pastor’s measure. “That all you got, boy?”Javon responded with a more potent fake. As the pastor flinched, Javon took his eye off of him for a split-second to line up with the basket.“Big mistake, young’un!”Pastor Nathan reached out with his left hand, flicked the ball away from a surprised Javon and spun past him to take it before the young man could react. “No!”Javon took off after him, determined not to let a man more than twice his age beat him down the court. As he closed in, Pastor Nathan suddenly switched the ball from his right hand to his left, causing Javon to grab at empty air. The pastor continued his motion by putting the ball behind his back as Javon whizzed past him. He returned it to his right hand, levitated towards the basket, and baptized the net with a vicious one-handed dunk that left everyone speechless. It was the second time he’d posterized the young man in the last three possessions. Pastor Nathan hung on the rim briefly before dropping to the asphalt. He jogged past a stunned Javon towards the sideline, humming a hymn. The spectators burst out laughing when they recognized the tune as “I’ll Rise Again.” ***Pastor Ellen Shipley’s laughter echoed over the phone. “No you didn’t!”Pastor Nathan shrugged. “What can I tell you? I do my best witnessing- and trash talking- on the basketball court. I’ve gotten a lot of ministry accomplished running ball.”“You might want to challenge the Council of Overseers to a game then.”Silence. “My name’s come up again.” “It has. There’s a huge push to put your name into consideration for 2015, and a lot of folks who really want you to accept when it happens.”Pastor Nathan smiled. “And I’m sure there are just as many who will do everything in their power to make sure it never happens.”“There are a few.” She chuckled. “Actually, there are a lot, including an Overseer or two. However, there more than likely aren’t enough to block you. I don’t have the gift of prophecy, but I do believe you can—and should—become an Overseer. Three slots will be open, and if they offer you one, take it. The United African Christian denomination needs you.” “Only two out of 22 Overseers are against me? I must be slipping.”Pastor Shipley laughed louder. “You really need to work on that, you slacker.”They chatted amiably for a few more minutes; the small talk helped Pastor Nathan relax and process the possibilities that now lay ahead of him. “Before I go, I have to know; did that young man you posterized give his life to Christ?”“He kept his end of the bargain and sat down with me for a long talk.” Pastor Nathan smiled at the memory. “His mother and older brother were worried about him; he’s a sophomore in college right now, and drifting farther away from God every time someone new tells him how NBA-ready he is. He hasn’t given his life to Christ yet, but it’s just a matter of time. He’s close; I can tell.”“Good. Is he really NBA ready though?”“He’s got LeBron James size and Magic Johnson ball handling skills. If he declares for the next draft, he’ll probably be the #1 pick. With all that going for him, he needs Jesus. And because I won his respect by winning the game; and especially by dunking on him in the process; he listened when I talked about Him.”“Unusual pulpit you have there.”“Everybody’s not going to come to the altar 2.5 minutes after I finish preaching and give their life to the Lord. If I’d waited for Javon to come back to church, the Rapture might have happened first.”They both laughed.“Seriously though, I’ve learned you have to meet people where they are and speak their language if you expect to lead them to Christ. I speak fluent basketball; I knew I could get Javon on the court because no basketball player worth the name backs down from a challenge.”Reverend Shipley smiled. “I don’t have your skill with a basketball. Think I could get any of my backslidden members to come around if I sent them lives on Candy Crush?”They cracked up again. “I need to hang up now though. You know how it is; my next appointment is knocking on my door and probably wondering why I’m doing anything else but resolving their issues.”“Okay, thanks for calling. Go ahead and hang up now; I know your church folk can’t survive more than ten minutes without you holding their hands and wiping their noses for them.”Both pastors hung up, still laughing. Ellen always cracks me up. Glad she and my wife get along so well—I’d hate to lose such a good friend among my fellow pastors, but if Annie didn’t like her and trust me—.He pressed his intercom. “Sister Unser, will you come in here a moment please?”***“So, what’s the move? Are you going to accept the bid when, not if, they offer it?”Pastor Nathan looked around his inner circle; they’d come at Sister Unser’s call without questioning the suddenness of the meeting. Max and Evangelist Donna Carson (his lead deacon and head of Women’s Ministry respectively), his assistant pastor Reverend Conrad and most importantly, his wife sat around the table, solidly in his corner. He couldn’t stop smiling; Annie had come on her day off without hesitation when she could have stayed home and caught up on some much-needed sleep while their kids were in school.“Max, that’s what I asked you all here to help me decide. Pastor Shipley, you know her from True Vine in Baltimore, has that kind of insider knowledge, and if she says I’m under consideration, I am. You all know me better than anyone else in this church. I want to make the right decision on this, and I trust you all to help me make it.”He took a deep breath. “Pros and cons, folks. Let’s hear them.”Max immediately spoke up. “Con. You wouldn’t be our pastor anymore.”“Glad you didn’t count that as a pro. Okay, what else?”Donna raised her hand. “Con. You’d have to deal with UAC politics at the highest level, and you can barely take it now.” “Good point, Evangelist.”“Pro. You can affect UAC politics at the highest level, and make some long-needed changes to the stuff you can barely take now.”The pastor chuckled. “Leave it to my wife to get straight to the heart of the matter.”“Con. They might ask me to be the pastor here if you leave.”The room erupted in laughter. Reverend Allen Joseph Conrad could have had his own church years ago, but chose to serve as Pastor Nathan’s good right hand instead. Any other minister in his position would undoubtedly push his pastor to move on so that he could also be elevated.“Okay Reverend A.J, if I take them up on this, I’ll be sure to tell them on my way out the door that you’ve had your eye on this office for years and that they should let you have it.”Reverend Conrad looked around the spacious area. “I’ll take the office; I just don’t want your job!”More laughter. The intercom buzzed. “Pastor, sorry to disturb you, but you wanted to know right away if you received another package.”He rolled his eyes. “Thank you Sister Unser. Will you bring it in here please?”She hesitated. “Okay Pastor.”It took her less than a minute to bring the small parcel into the office. He thanked her and released her back to her duties.“Is this what you were telling me about?”“Annie, I’m pretty sure it is. Same size as the last two. Folks, I want you to see what I’m dealing with here.”He opened the package and revealed the contents to his inner circle. Their reactions were priceless, ranging from open-mouthed surprise to outright mirth. Donna found her voice first. “Uh Pastor? How exactly are you going to handle this?”He shared his plan, and the inner circle cracked up. Max shook his head. “Pastoral remarks this week could get real interesting.”Reverend Conrad laughed. “Another reason why I don’t want your job.”
FOLLOW THE LEADER by Isaiah David Paul CHAPTER ONE
“Yo man, take me to the bar on Patton and Coxe,” the obnoxious man requested as he held the door open for some of his young friends. The subtle stench of alcohol and funk began to cloud my cabin and I felt like Earl was gonna kick down the back of my throat in a few seconds. Before I gave it a chance to do that, I boldly looked the disrespectful hooligan in the eye and firmly shook my head no.“What do you mean no?” The man who committed treason by opening the passenger’s side of my ride as he made himself comfortable on top of my papers, pens and the composition notebook I’d just purchased from Dollar General not too long ago so I could work on my sermon. Dude didn’t ask if it was okay to sit in the front seat or nothing—he just bounced in here like a dodge ball and made himself at home. And to top it off, he was ordering me around. The pungent smell of alcohol got stronger—irritated me because I could tell he had too much gin and vodka. He had been dancing too—so the funk from his underarms was kicking too. I squinted my face as his fumes made my eyes watery. Jesus knew the temptation to get this dude like DMX was growing as the alcohol vapors entered my system. I looked at the men—four of them. They had attended the latest punk-rock concert by some satanic band that had graced this weird city they call Asheville, North Carolina. Their shirts appeared as if they had been ripped apart in a fight and the pants where strategically cut to reveal the scars, knicks and welts that rose on their legs. And the holes that weren’t showing scars revealed tightie-whities, boxer-briefs or the lack-there-of. I think I’m going to call Earl again. I looked at them and tried my best not to show prejudiced. Four, short-haired—some blonde, some moreno and some a combination. One guy had spikes a shade of navy blue and they were so sharp, he’d give Sonic the Hedgehog a run for his money. Another looked like he could cut me if I didn’t move out the way fast enough and snatch my money. One guys “locs” were so dirty and dingy, I could see the knats and knick-knacks and the other inhabitants moving up and down from roots to tips. Bruh needed a wash and a few tips on grooming if he was going to pull the look off right. He was having a rough start and should’ve started over by I digress. And the dude—the one next to me—looked like he went to the salon and had them spiral his maine up before the show. His blue eyes crystallized like the Ice Breaker’s candy. Sharp features made me think he might’ve been Greek. I opened the driver side of my Lincoln Continental and forcefully expelled spit and any fillers that wanted to force its way out of my body. None choosing to leave, I caught my breath before I faced the foul men again. Each varying in hue. In the back was the Sonic the Hedgehog-looking one who might have been mixed with something. His mix was strong and like a dark skinned brother he stood out of the group. The spiked guy next to him blushed a rosy pink shade as he fiddled and openly play with the pale man next to him. These dudes got to go before I forget who I am.“This is the Christian Cab Company.” I stated. “We—.”I was going to go into this spiel about who we were, our mission to serve Christ and where our cabs did and did not take passengers. Naturally, Satan had his followers cut me off.“And you’re gonna take us to that bar on Patton and Coxe.” The first man—the one who was two seconds from making forget I was saved and get a fist landed in his jaw—demanded as he moved his face in the middle of the two front seats. Dude just didn’t know. Jesus—please—control this body before I lose it to the flesh, I prayed as I looked the man in the face. It was tempting to strike with my fist. Tempting to grab him by the liberally-gelled spiral hair and bring him to his maker by bashing his head multiple times in the head rest. The anger and the strength of the Hulk was growing in me and Satan had now started tempting me. Temping me to enforce the law of the land with the force of my hands. And his friends—I could’ve taken care of them too. Each of them couldn’t have weight more than two sticks and a bucket of sand and I was used to lifting that and moving it around in my sleep. But I couldn’t. I am a minister. A man of God called to go out into the world and spread the Word and make disciples. At least that’s what the command in the red letters in the Bible said. I’m supposed to lead by example. Why God called me, I don’t know. I was content doing my bid in the state prison. Sinning with the rest of the men—my cell was my own precious spot in Gomorrah. He could’ve left me in Hell and knowing my flesh, it would have gladly stayed and not thought twice about what He would’ve wanted. But my Spirit was stronger than my flesh and at this stage of my life had it under subjection more times than not. When God reached down to this little place called earth and grabbed me, Stanley Amistad Hammer and instructed me to follow him so I could preach—many of my fleshly desires came to an end. The dreadlocks that had reach half-way down my behind were cut and the skinny, six foot four cigarette-thin frame filled out into a solid body that could take Lebron James any time, any place. God had given me strength, courage and wisdom to speak His Word and a body of a strong and stout Southern preacher to match my new boldness. A modern day Samson if you will, But as much as God has worked on me—I still had a few weaknesses and these punks—with their black nail polish and foul smelling orifices were about to bring one of them out. And the result wasn’t going to be good for them.“Let me make it plain since you interrupted me the first time,” my deep voice bellowed and caught their attention. Just like when Jesus spoke, demons listened—so did the four misfits who were about to get an opportunity to get salvation if they just listened. “This is the Christian Cab Company—emphasis on the operative word CHRIST. We will gladly take you almost anywhere you want to go, but we do not take patrons to bars, liquor stores, known sex parties, crack houses, sex stores or any other place that would encourage you to sin.”I looked back and saw three sets of wide eyes staring back at me. They appeared to be so shook that they were scared to move. I guess they’d never heard the words “no” before—that’s what’s wrong with this generation—everyone is supposed to give them something because they say “hop,” “move,” “skip” and “fetch.” So it’s my job to make sure they hear the word “no” more often.“My company has morals and we are guided by scripture and we spread the Word of Christ. We will gladly give you a ride to almost anywhere with exception for that bar on Patton and Coxe.”“Ugg—crap—” The obnoxious man—who had yet to give me his name and I doubt that he would, said.“And there is to be no swearing in my cab.”“Are you bleeping serious?” The man tested me—I knew he was one of Satan’s strongest disciples—one I’d have to have some holy water and the full armor of God to convert.“Yes, I am serious. You got one more time to test me and I’m going to have to ask you to leave my cab.”That was the warning Biggie said I should give folks. Now before the pot called the kettle black—I loved my weed, a fifth of Henny. the limberness and flexibility of a skilled acrobat to made women scream wherever I did my thing. Still have a hankering for those three from time to time. Felt like I was going to need a joint after dealing with these dudes here. But I was not going to give in. Oh, and I like money—but I don’t need it bad enough that I’ll let anyone and or anything pimp my ride. I’m not Xzibit.“Man, let’s call someone else,” the passenger next to me said. “This man is a hypocrite. He forgot that he was the one that picked me up from the same bar last week.”“It is my duty to make sure you get home safe and sound,” I defended myself. We always took people home from the spots—gave them a little Word and some prayer—and trusted in the Lord that home would manifest into a place He would be welcomed in by time we got there. “And if I remember correctly, I didn’t charge you the cab fare for the ride home either.”The men cursed me like the perverts verbally abused the angel in Sodom. The words they used to describe me and my hazelnut skin were beyond colorful and if I had been the dude of the streets I was twenty years ago, would have caused a fight.“Take your stinkin’ money man,” the passenger next to me cursed as he threw down a fifty dollar bill that landed right next to the balled up piece of paper and used condom wrapper that he also threw on the floor of the car. I deeply exhaled and I prayed that the condom wrapper was empty, but from the looks of the green latex sticking out—I should’ve prayed before the popular brand hit my floor seat. Maybe I should pray that nothing comes out of the wrapper. I didn’t bring up the unpaid fee to upset the man or to get payment—most people didn’t know it but we took the drunken home free of charge. But they had to go home—not to a house party or to a hotel or another establishment. That was our Christian duty—to get the intoxicated safe so that in the event we weren’t able to minister the Word of Christ to them, that another saint would have an opportunity when the time was right.“Aye sir,” a polite one among the group asked. “I stay in Hilcrest with my boyfriend.”I looked at him and had to admit I didn’t expect him to say he had a boyfriend. Brown hair thickened his eyebrows and his beard reached down the middle of his chest. It was then I noticed the multiple piercings he had in his ears and the snake bites he had on the left corner of his mouth. This was the quiet brown skin one who looked out the window while the guy in the middle playfully went from him to the guy on the other end.“I really don’t want any trouble and regardless of what these knuckleheads say, I really just want to go home and chill with my man.” It was then I noticed skittle-sized ball the flicked and spun as he moved his tongue. I used to have a girl that had one of those. Well—I didn’t mind taking him home and I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that he had a boyfriend. Asheville is one of the most homosexual friendly places on earth and I never turned down a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered person, couple or grouping—all I’d ever ask is that they refrained from showing affection in my car. And my rule was the same for the heterosexuals whether they were married or not so there’s no discrimination there.“Yes, I will take you home.” I responded as I made sure that all the patrons in the car had their seat belts on and I looked in the mirror. I let a slow moving white Oldsmobile pass by before I pulled out onto – and left the edge of downtown Asheville.
Copyright 2014 - K.L. Belvin, Maurice M. Gray, Jr. & Isaiah David Paul - PUBLISHED BY SOLOMON WATERWINE
PRE-ORDER NOW at www.BravinPublishing.com use discount code "Soldiers" at check out to get 15% discount until Jan. 6, 2014 (Books official release date is Jan 7th, 2014)