I decided to share this peek into the lives of Veronica and Darius Brooks. Veronica and Darius were once married, but in And Then they decided to face the reason for their divorce… At the end of And Then, I walked away from these two characters feeling optimistic about their future but a few of you still wanted more.
In this short, we get a glimpse at what happens later… after their “and then.” I’m not saying this will be the last we hear from this group of friends, but I believe this moment will bring you the hope it gave me… and enough to carry you just in case we do get to see them again.
Sunbeams shining through the stained glass window above Veronica almost appeared too picturesque. If Norman Rockwell wanted a good soul-stirring gospel playing while he reached for his paintbrush, this would be the place he could come for inspiration. Veronica imagined him sitting in the church balcony, peeking around a canvas trying to capture the scene playing out below. The artist loved to paint churches.
Veronica wondered what Rockwell would think of Grace Baptist, as it was not his normal quaint, picturesque building. The church that could easily rival most mega churches in size still felt like the small congregation it once was before it relocated from Philadelphia’s Germantown section to the suburbs years ago.
No. This was not a Norman Rockwell moment. Ellis Wilson would feel the mood. Veronica looked at the people into their faces understanding the purpose for all of them being there today. These bodies sat in pews wanting their souls to be fed just like her. Now Veronica smiled feeling her cup was finally running over from today’s sermon and reminders of the many blessings the past year brought her.
As musicians started to play and the contemporary choir seated around Veronica prepared for their cue to sing, that’s when it hit her. Romare. Romare Bearden would be the one capturing all the life going on around her. He would interpret the vivid splendor of the occasion.
The soft yellow rays bounced off of pristine church hats with fabrics from bold colors like crimson red and royal blue. It shimmered against the shining heads being wiped with linen handkerchiefs by a few deacons to her left in the front row. Even the brass offering plates that white glove wearing ushers had lined up to pass around glowed with life. Sunday morning at Greater Grace was an experience very few could ever describe, as there was something special going on inside the church’s walls.
So it needed someone that could capture what she witnessed, the distinct feeling in the air. An artist’s touch to bear witness, detailing how right this moment felt.
It wasn’t because it was the first Sunday of the month or rather Communion Sunday. Nor was it due to the autumn leaves that started to turn outside on the trees lining the parking lot up and down the avenue. True, Reverend Zachariah Garrett’s sermon was exceptional and even had people filling up half the aisles just to get close to the altar during prayer, but that was not it either. Although Veronica knew everything happened for a reason and today was truly a day in which the Lord had made, everyone she cared for was within view and that alone made today a special one. The past year had brought her to this place where she felt loved once again.
Veronica smiled seeing the two individuals that gathered everyone together. She believed there was only one Artist that could create something as beautiful as a child. Using one special couple, He recently brought forth two more life altering miracles. In the arms of her friends Donovan and Mya Sinclair were her newest godchildren – Xavier and Madison. Both precious newborns reminded Veronica of the one thing she longed for the most these days – a child of her own. Veronica wasn’t a mother yet, but deep in her heart she knew it was possible.
Darius sat between Mya and Shelby West, another one of Veronica’s close friends. Darius was bouncing Donovan’s daughter Zoë on his knee while the toddler reached out to mess with Camryn. Camryn was a precocious six year old and sat between her parents, Shelby and Eric. The separation between the girls was likely to keep the chatter to a minimum, but the girls appeared to not allow the adults barriers get in the way of friendship.
The church pew held nine more people including, Shelby’s son Matthew and Eric’s mother who was holding the baby. The Sinclairs proudly stared ahead on the opposite side of Donovan, including Donovan’s parents, his brother Jackson, sister Marie, and Marie’s daughters Peyton and Callie.
Veronica returned her gaze to the scene that made her heart beat faster. Darius was looking down at the squirming little girl on his lap and started to grin. Then his eyes met Veronica’s, as if sensing what she had been imagining. Watching Darius with Camryn made Veronica wonder what Darius would look like holding a child of their own.
A baby with Darius’s beautiful browns and Veronica’s sassy lips. That’s what he would tell her in the middle of the night when they imagined what their future together would produce. Darius would then hold Veronica close, placing his hand on her bare stomach. Darius would tease that one night he would give them both the baby they imagined, the perfect blend of the love they always felt for each other. Then before Darius would pull Veronica’s body on top of his and place a kiss upon her lips, he would whisper against her ear. “But first, you need to wear my ring again. I want to make sure you’re ready.”
Darius knew as well as she did that no rings would be exchanged on a whim. Marriage was a commitment they now understood. One she would not take so lightly and he would no longer hide behind. Veronica was certain the day would soon come when she would look on her left hand and see their renewed promise to each other.
The choir stood and Veronica took a deep breath to clear her head. Veronica blushed under the watchful eye of the congregation as she stepped forward toward a microphone. It had to be wrong imagining making babies less than five yards from the pulpit, even if the man was once her husband.
It had been ten months since Veronica and Darius started seeing each other again, but each day was one they approached carefully not wanting to make the same mistake twice. If Veronica and Darius were meant to be a couple again, they didn’t want to rush into any action that could cause another split. Immediately after Veronica had become single, it didn’t take long for her to decide that divorce would not be an option for her again. But now with Darius back in her life, all Veronica could see were possibilities leaving the failure she once feared behind her.
One day at a time. That’s what Veronica reminded herself as she placed her hand on the microphone and thought about the solo she was about to sing. It had been years since she felt comfortable singing in the choir, but after reconnecting with her ex-husband again singing started to feel right.
Her friends stirred as if waiting for that note that encouraged them to stand on their feet.
Veronica had missed this. Now that it was back, she was ready for more.
The pastor called Donovan and Mya to stand in front of the congregation, then gestured for everyone that was part of the twin’s dedication ceremony to also step forward.
Darius turned to walk toward the side entrance for the choir stand, closest to where Veronica had been seated. Darius extended a hand as she took the first step and led her to the small group.
When Veronica smiled up at him, Darius thought about the day they once stood before a minister and vowed to do more than love each other until death parted them.
Regret started to rise up in his chest, but Reverend Garrett’s voice offering an explanation for the longer than usual Sunday service snapped him out of it. Laughter lightened the mood and the sea of faces smiling back was ready to watch Darius and Veronica make another vow together. One that made Darius and Veronica along with their other close friends, responsible for the nurturing and upbringing of two brand new babies.
Darius ran a hand down his face as he listened to scriptures and words that encouraged the group to be a village of support. He heard the words before, as all the children around them were more than just his friends’ offspring; they were a part of Veronica and Darius’s lives, too. Darius was now the proud godfather of nine, a luxury of having the type of bond he shared with the people around him. One day Darius hoped to become a father to at least one of his own. Maybe two if Veronica would let them.
Darius glanced down at Veronica’s abdomen, imagining the day her slender waist would curve with his offspring. In the past if he dared to share those musings with her, Veronica would retreat into the scared and lonely place she once lived. Darius smiled because the confidence Veronica used to hold her head high was not a facade to intimidate those around her or cloud the truth she wanted to conceal. Veronica didn’t become a new woman since their divorce, she simply found her old self and basked in who she used to be. Veronica brought him back the woman he fell in love with.
Donovan turned and placed Xavier in Darius’s arms just before the prayer. With head bowed, Darius held onto the sleeping baby taking in his scent and feeling Veronica still holding onto his right hand.
And in that moment, Darius sensed they would be back at this place again. Together standing before God, loved ones, and any witnesses, Darius and Veronica would make more commitments to each other. They would return after exchanging vows again to place his son or maybe their little girl into his best friend’s arms.
Each time they’d stand in this place, with each one of their future children, Darius and Veronica would make a promise to be that village for one another keeping their family intact. Darius would vow to do whatever necessary to prevent any harm from ever coming their way, keeping their family whole.
“Amen.” The voices around them had come to an agreement with the words prayed over the infants, but in Darius’s heart he felt like there was more.
Looking to his right, Darius saw Veronica taking her free hand to adjust Xavier’s sleeve. Then she stared into Darius’s eyes and nodded.
“You feel it, too?” he whispered.
Veronica smiled. “I do.”