Epiphany by Bailey West

Prologue

Almost Five Years Later

“Iknow you are ready to get to your hotel and pack so you can get back to Houston, but I’m glad you stayed for this celebration. There are a few people I would like to introduce you to,” Reverend Folsom said before we exited the car.

“My flight is not until tomorrow afternoon, so I’m good,” I replied.

Although I was exhausted and wanted to go back to my hotel room, eat, and relax, I’d agreed to accompany the reverend.

“Good. The family that had their baby dedicated at the end of service have been members of my church for years. Their son, Xander, is the father of the child. He lives in Sable Falls and is connected to a lot of different social and business circles. I think he is someone you would want to know,” Reverend Folsom explained.

“Great.”

The brightly lit event space was decorated in blue and silver to celebrate the newly christened baby boy. Large and small balloons littered the floors, walls, and ceiling. Round tables were decorated with blue and silver tablecloths. The stuffed animal centerpiece holding the balloons had the baby’s name, Maximus Andrew Northcott, spelled out in blocks across each one.

People, some of whom I recognized from Sunday service, mingled while soft music played in the background.

Reverend Folsom spoke to various people as we navigated towards the baby’s family.

“Pastor Israel Lewis, this is Xander Northcott,” Reverend Folsom introduced.

Xander and I shook hands.

“Reverend Folsom mentioned that your family has been attending his church for generations. How amazing to see a third-generation being born into the same congregation. Congratulations on your son.”

“Thank you,” Xander replied. “This is my lady, Angel.”

Angel smiled and extended her hand. We shook. She was gorgeous and had beautiful energy emanating from her.

“I wanted to introduce you to Israel because he will be living in your neck of the woods,” Reverend Folsom said.

“Welcome. If there is anything I can help you with, let me know,” Xander said.

“I have one dilemma. The realtor I contacted to help me find a house has gone MIA. I don’t have the time or energy to deal with someone that doesn’t know how to handle business. Would you happen to know one?”

“As a matter of fact, I do,” Xander responded and looked at Angel.

“I will go and grab her,” Angel said and handed the baby to Xander.

“He’s a handsome boy,” I complimented.

“Thank you. He’s growing so fast.”

“Yeah, I hear parents say that all the time.”

“Do you know where you want to live in Sable?” Xander asked.

“No, I’ve only visited once. I know I want to find a home I can renovate. I’ve secured a condo to live in until I find the house and do all the repairs, but I don’t plan to start any of that until I am in Sable permanently.”

“Well, there are a lot of beautiful areas to choose from,” Xander responded as Angel reappeared.

“Pastor Israel Lewis, this is Leona…” Angel introduced.

I did a quick mental check to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. There was no way she was standing in front of me after all these years.

“Leona?” I asked, just to be sure my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me.

“Hi, Iz.”

Her voice was the sweetest thing I’d heard in years. She had grown even more beautiful.

“You know each other?” Angel asked.

“We do,” Leona said as we both stared at each other.

“What a small world,” Reverend Folsom said.

“Can I speak with you privately?” I asked.

Leona agreed.

“Excuse us,” I said to the group.

I motioned toward the back door of the venue. We walked in silence until we got outside. Stopping short of the parking lot but far enough away from the venue, we turned and faced each other. The setting sun cast a golden glow on her delicate sienna skin. Her round, brown eyes fringed with thick lashes squinted slightly, perhaps to block the setting sun or in an attempt to figure out why I had asked for a moment of her time.

“You are beautiful, Lee.”

I should’ve started with something else, but that was what came out.

Pushing her long, thick natural hair from her shoulder, she replied, “Thank you, Israel.”

She’d missed a small section of hair that still rested on her shoulder. I stepped back and fought the urge to move it for her. I wanted to softly trace along her jawline to her full lips defined by a prominent cupid’s bow.

Clasping my hands together behind my back, I asked, “Were you at church?”

“I was. You did a great job on the sermon,” she responded.

“Thank you. Coming from you, that means a lot.”

“You’re welcome.”

Thrown by the fact that we were in the same place, I had no agenda when I’d asked her if we could talk. I had just wanted to be in her presence, away from everyone else. I searched my thoughts for an appropriate conversation topic.

“Are you here in Saint Helane now?” I asked.

“No, I’m still in Sable Falls. Angel is my best friend. She was my roommate until she met Xander.”

“Oh, the baby’s parents?”

“Yes,” she replied.

“How is your family? Is everyone doing well?”

“Everyone is doing great. How is your family?”

“They are well. Lee, about the last time we were together…”

She shook her head.

“Nope, I’m not talking about the past. Is there anything else you wanted before I go back in to be with my friends?”

“I’m moving to Sable Falls and I need a good realtor,” I blurted out, not wanting her to walk away.

“I thought I heard the pastor say you were moving to Sable Falls.”

“He did.”

“I’m the best broker, but my client list is so full right now,” she started.

“I don’t need an answer today. Can you think about it, please?” I pleaded.

“I’ll think about it,” she responded.