At exactly two-fifteen, I was knocking on Kaili Mantrell’s room door.
“Right on time,” he said as he swung the door open. “That’s what I like to see: promptness. It says a lot about a person. Come on in.”
Closing the door behind me, he asked, “Are you still on the clock?”
“No. I clocked out a little early to talk with you before the school bus drops my daughter off. I have about thirty minutes.”
“Let’s get right to work then. Have a seat,” he said as he reached for his briefcase.
I sat on the edge of the bed as he took some papers out of his briefcase. He handed me a brochure titled Missions With a Purpose. I started to read it as he shuffled the other papers in his hands.
“Don’t I have to be a Christian and active in a church to work in your organization?” I asked. “I go to church every now and then, but I don’t claim to be an out-and-out Christian.”
Kaili laughed as he sat down beside me. “Wherever did you get that from? No. You do not have to be a Christian to work for us. As far as I’m concerned, if you qualify and do the job right and with a good attitude, then why shouldn’t I hire you and keep you on?”
Kaili began to explain in more detail the job requirements. As he did so, he slid closer to me. Every now and then, as he pointed out things on the brochure and on the other sheets of paper, his arm would rub against mine.
“As you can see, we have over one hundred churches already working with our organization. And I just signed up the Bethel Baptist Church here in town. That’s where I had the meeting earlier. The pastor will be giving me the addresses to ten new churches to contact about joining our program,” he said.
“Wow! Seems like you guys are growing at a rapid pace,” I said. “How old is your organization?”
“We’re fairly new. Five years to be exact. A pretty face and voice like yours would be an asset to us,” Kaili said looking me directly in the eyes. “And guess what? You’ll sometimes get to travel with me as I conduct seminars and speak with and encourage pastors and other church leaders to join with us, thus expanding their ministry outreach program.”
My heart beat increased as he rested his hand on my arm. Clearing my throat, I slid away from him a little. “If I did take this job and relocated, would you help with housing? And what kind of pay should I expect?”
“You’d be paid well with health insurance, access to our company car or should I say ministry car, et cetera. And, seeing that you are a single mother we will look out for you,” Kaili said. “And . . . if you cooperate more and perform well, you could reap a lot more.”
I shuddered as his warm breath fell on my neck. His closeness to me was making me more uncomfortable. “What do you mean by ‘cooperate more’?” I asked.
He winked. “I’ll be leaving tomorrow, and . . . ”
I raised my eyebrows as he hesitated. I did not like his changing tone of voice.
“And the job is yours with the whole nine yards: health insurance, a car, an apartment, great pay, if you’ll take care of me tonight. Just tonight alone.”
My mouth fell open. “Are you asking me to have sex with you in exchange for a job?” I said leaning even further away from him.
“A job with all the benefits that any single mother would want and for as long as you need those benefits,” he said.
“And I guess for as long as I need it means I would, in essence, have to become your mistress? Are you married, Mr. Mantrell?”
He cleared his throat as he slowly but smoothly tried to cover his marriage band with his other hand.
“You’re not a pastor, are you?”
He cleared his throat again.
“I take that as a yes to both questions. Thanks, but no thanks,” I said. I popped up off the bed and headed out the door dropping the brochure and other papers I had in my hand on the floor. “And you call yourself a Christian,” I said over my shoulder. “Director of missions. That’s a joke.”
* * * * *
“Ladies, I made a mad dash down the hallway and down the stairs. Jesse Owens could not outrun me. This man thought he could use the promise of a job to get me to have sex with him. I respect myself too much to do something like that. I’d rather struggle to make ends meet than lower my standards,” Ann said.
“Wow! That was a close call,” Bianca said.
“He was a bold one, too,” Carlita said.
“Why do you think he did not answer you when you point blank asked him if he was married?” Bianca asked.
Ann shrugged. “Because he knew he was wrong. I believe, generally speaking, people know right from wrong. And it attests to one’s character if one cannot remain faithful to one’s spouse. I believe a man or woman who cheats on his or her spouse is not to be trusted. If he’s doing that to his wife, then I know he would cheat on me as well, even if I was his lady-in-waiting, or more like one of his ladies-in-waiting.”
“But problems do come up in all marriages or in any relationship for that matter, and people tend to respond out of the norm when they are undergoing a conflict,” Bianca said.
“Yes. But I think in a marriage where vows are made, the couple needs to keep their vows to remain faithful to each other as much as is possible,” Ann said. “And if they feel they can’t, then just say goodbye and leave each other alone.”
* * * * *
Bianca who liked to read herself to sleep picked up the book on her nightstand. After reading a few pages, she nudged her husband.
“Franklin, listen to this. I’ve been reading Lust or Luxuria by Henry Fairlie. Listen to what he has to say about lust:
‘What comes between a couple when one of them is unfaithful is not the other woman, or the other man, but what now cannot be shared by them. If a mere sex act were all that is involved, unfaithfulness would not be such an everlasting problem.
‘Lust is not interested in its partners, but only in the gratification of its own craving: not even in the satisfaction of our whole natures, but in the appeasement merely of an appetite which we are unable to subdue. It is therefore a form of self-subjection; in fact of self-emptying. The sign it wears is: ‘This property is vacant.’ Anyone may take possession of it for a while. Lustful people may think that they can choose a partner at will for sexual gratification. But they do not really choose; they accept what is available. Lust accepts any partner for a momentary service; any one may squat in its groin.’”
Bianca flipped a couple pages.
“Here’s what he has to say is the difference between love and lust,” Bianca said.
“’Love is enduring; it is continuance even if as a memory; whereas, ‘lust dies at the next dawn, and when it returns, in the evening, to search where it may, it is with its own past erased.’ Henry says love wants to enjoy the other person, ‘but lust will not get involved.’”
“That’s interesting and so true,” Franklin said. “Do you remember Rodwell? I don’t know whether or not I shared this with you, but he shared with me during one of our counseling sessions that he has had sex with over fifty women starting from when he was a teenager and he cannot even remember the names of most of those women. He told me if you were to put those women before him he would not remember them as he has long forgotten what they looked like. He just wanted his desires fulfilled in the moment by whoever; he did not want any so-called romance; he did not want to get involved emotionally with these women; he did not want a long-term relationship with them; he simply wanted to satisfy his desires for sex. And as long as someone was available he was going to go for it. He concluded that he hurt a lot of women because they gave him their hearts. He said that was not his intent but that it just happened. Of course, he, on the other hand, gave them nothing but broken hearts as he was cold and calculating in his actions towards them.”