"I'm pretty sure this entire church shares your feelings about her." He leans back and casually stretches his arm over the back of the couch, his triceps bulging. "Did you know she was on the committee that hired me six years ago?"
"Yes, sir, I did. And from what I understand, she's also on the beautification team, first-impressions team, serves as a Bible study teacher, and volunteers as a money counter." Hence the reason I'm sitting in this chair. My aunt has connections.
When I asked her about the pesky little detail regarding my faith, or lack thereof, she waved a hand and said, "Who knows what the Lord will do in a few months? If they hire you, then it's God's plan, and I'm not about to stand in His way."
She talks about God's plan a lot. My mom thinks she's an ignorant fool to waste so much time and money on a social club with rules, or so she calls the church. But even I have to admit, God's plan has worked out pretty well for her. Doreen's been married thirty-five years, adopted two boys after dealing with infertility, and is now welcoming her second grandbaby.
"Did she also talk to you about the temporary nature of the job?" His brow creases like it would really bother him if I were to feel misled.
His concern brings an unwelcome measure of guilt and makes the long hair I pulled into a tight bun suddenly feel stiff and itchy. While I promised my aunt I wouldn't lie if directly asked about my beliefs, I have no intention of offering up something that would unquestionably disqualify me for the position.
"Yes, Doreen explained that you're looking for someone part-time for a few months to provide administrative support to one of your staff members who's been drowning, as she called it."
"That's actually a very good assessment of the situation. Which is why I see no reason to delay." He scoots forward and puts out his hand. "Welcome to the team."
"That's it?" The words slip out before I can stop them. "You don't have any questions about my qualifications? My schooling?"
I realize I left him hanging when he pulls back his unreturned handshake and picks up my résumé from the coffee table. "Your background is perfect—multiple jobs and skill sets. I spoke with your old boss yesterday, and he said you broke an old man's heart and that he'd take you back in a millisecond if you wanted. And..." He shrugs. "You come with the highest of recommendations from a woman I absolutely respect. That's good enough for me."
My mouth opens, then closes again.
I can't believe it. Me, January Sanders, only daughter of Cassidy Burch, who is a self-professed atheist and currently on husband number four, is now a part of organized religion. I'm pretty sure it's snowing in hell right now. If those two guys preaching on my corner were right, I'll be down there one day soon to check it out.
Pastor Thomas tries again with the handshake, and this time I take his hand and hope he doesn't crush me with his grip.
"Thank you," I say and find I genuinely mean the sentiment. Not just for the job, which I need, but more that I suddenly feel surrounded by warm, fuzzy cotton balls. And since my usual armor is dented, tattered, and virtually nonexistent right now, I don't think I'll survive anything less.
"I do have one other question," he says, and my heart immediately plummets because I know it has to be about my views on religion. Soft, fluffy cotton disappears, the hammock is ripping, rock bottom is getting closer and closer..."Your previous boss and your aunt mentioned a unique talent of yours. Something about a photographic memory?"
The adrenaline drop nearly makes me slither from the chair and sink into the carpet. He's asking about my brain, not my faith. That one I can answer without any hesitation. "It's not a photographic memory. In fact, I'm not sure I'd even call it a talent—more like an annoying vice."
He wrinkles his forehead, and I know I'm going to have to explain.