“And let me add this,” I say, finger stabbing the air, “if all you’re going to say is, ‘God’s hand is in this move,’ save it. I’m tired of hearing it. God has a plan for my life—isn’t that what you like to say?  So let me tell you God’s plan for my life:  God would have left me in Chicago.”

With that, I corral my speechless sister with an arm hooked in hers, turn from Hezekiah, and continue the tour. “Let’s go outside; I’ll show you the loggia. The view from the—”

My breath catches as Hezekiah rushes me with a bear hug from behind, curling me forward with his two-hundred-pound muscular frame. His whisper teases up a sudden flutter:  “If God’s will is for me to be here, which I know it is, then God’s will is for you to be here, because we’re one, and there is no me without you. I don’t know what will happen with your job situation, but I’ve been praying and I believe God will answer. I’ve also been praying about the other situation that’s upsetting you but you won’t talk about. Now, if you’re still mad and need space, I understand. Let me just do this one thing.”

I search his eyes but it’s too late. His knuckles begin to tickle my side. I struggle to free myself, hiding a half-smile. In no time I’m slumping to my knees in uncontrolled laughter.

“Stop, Hez, let me go. Seriously.”  My body is writhing on the floor, a slave to two knuckles. “Jilli!  Are you just going to stand there?”

“I’m cheering for Hezekiah. I always said he’s the best thing that ever happened to you.”

“Hez, no, it hurts.”  I would say anything to get out from under this.

He releases me and I scramble to my feet feigning a frown, fists squared in boxing mode.

“So you’re Ali now?” Hezekiah says. “Or Sugar Ray Leonard?  You know he lived over near P.G. Community College when he was starting out.”

“Yeah, and moved to Potomac when he made it big.”  Laughing, I jab the air as Hezekiah leans right, then left. The moment is surreal, Jillian’s words echoing in my heart:  He’s the best thing that ever happened to you. Before Hezekiah, I never loosened up and acted silly. In fourteen years of marriage, he has brought things out of me that I didn’t know were there, things that I like—when I allow myself. I land a left hook to Hezekiah’s chest and he grabs me again.

“You know you can’t stay mad at me,” he cajoles, dotting my face with quick kisses, “and I know how I can help you through this. If you ever want to run for Miss P.G. County, I’ll swear you’re only twenty-one and single. I bet you’d win with your good-looking self.”

I catch one of those quick kisses on the lips and let it linger. He’s right about my not being able to stay mad with him. He’s a master at dealing with me, always knowing what I need—how long I need to stew, when I need to snap out of it, and how it needs to happen. In this moment, with his strong arms around me, the night has suddenly turned to day.

This time Jillian clears her throat and I dart back to her with fresh spunk. I will find a job. I do want this house. All the time I put into building it, I ought to.

“Thanks for coming, Jill. I mean it this time,” Hezekiah shouts, bounding upstairs.
“I’ll see you this evening,” Jillian shouts back.

“Oh, Jilli,” I moan, walking through the French doors, “I forgot we planned to get together tonight. Now that I’m up to my neck in boxes, I’d rather work until it’s cleared away.”