How in the world was Jasmine going to keep her promise to God now?
Two years ago, she had promised Him that if He saved her daughter when she was kidnapped, if He brought her home safely, then she was going to live a life devoted just to Him. Jasmine had vowed that with Jacqueline’s return, she was going to live the life that God had for her as Hosea’s wife, as Jacqueline and Zaya’s mother. She wasn’t going to want for anything more than what God had given her, because surely, He had supplied her with enough.
God had done His part.
And for the last two years, Jasmine had done her part, too.
She’d lived a low-key life, thrilled that her greatest dramas were debates about fashion choices every morning with her seven-year-old daughter.
But how was she supposed to keep her promise to God now? After what her husband had just told her?
“So, hold up,” Jasmine said, slipping into the chair across from Hosea. “I thought you were just going to the convention as the keynote speaker.”
“So, explain this to me again.”
With a sigh, Hosea folded the newspaper he’d been reading and placed it on the table. He stuffed his mouth with a forkful of pancake, chewed for a moment, then said, “The call came in from a friend of Pop’s, Pastor Earl Griffith. He thinks I need to submit my resume.”
“To be the head of the American Baptist Coalition?”
“But we’re not Baptist.”
His eyes danced with his amusement. “Get out of here.”
“You know what I mean,” Jasmine said, waving one hand. “I just don’t get it. Why would they call you?”
“They didn’t call me. Only Pastor Griffith. Seems like there’re a couple of men in the running, though according to Griffith, the front-runner is Pastor Adams, Lester Adams from the Southern region.”
Jasmine frowned. “I’ve never heard of him.”
“Out of Houston. But Pastor Griffith doesn’t think Adams is the man. Seems that the last four presidents have been from the South and Griffith and a couple of other pastors on the board think that the Coalition needs someone from the North, someone more progressive, to really move the organization forward.”
“And they think that can be you?”
“Not they, darlin’. I told you—Griffith called me.”
“But you said there were others who agreed with him.”
Hosea nodded. “Apparently, they don’t have anyone from the North who they think can go up against Adams. I guess they think my name could win this.”
“That makes sense to me.”
“It doesn’t matter how much sense it makes, darlin’. I told Pastor Griffith that I’m not interested.”
As if she didn’t hear any of Hosea’s last words, Jasmine whispered, “Wow.” Old thoughts, familiar desires came to her mind—of power and prestige and money. How much money would a president receive?
She didn’t know a lot about the American Baptist Coalition, but she knew enough. Like the fact that they were the largest African American religious organization, and wielded major political clout. And as much as black folks loved religion, the head of the ABC would have a boatload of power—and so would his wife.
Talk about being the first lady!
I’d be the first lady of like … the world!
“Huh?” Her eyes were glassy with images of her future and it took her a moment to focus on Hosea.
His admonishment came before he even said a word. It was in the way his eyes narrowed and the way he’d already begun shaking his head. “Don’t even think about it.”
“You know what. I’m not gonna do it,” he said slowly, as if he was speaking to one of their children. “I’m gonna go to the convention and speak, just like they asked. But I’m not gonna run for that office. The little I know about Lester Adams, he’s a good man. They’ll be fine with him.”
“How could he be the one if I’ve never even heard of him?”
“Like you know every pastor in the country.”
“I’m not talking about knowing every pastor. I’m thinking that Pastor Griffith is right. The head of the ABC should be someone who’s known and who can add to the Coalition. Think about what you bring as the pastor of one of the largest churches in the country. Then, there’s your show.” She nodded. “Pastor Griffith is right,” she repeated. “It has to be you.”
His head was still shaking. “No. I don’t want the drama.”
“Who said anything about drama?”
“Any type of election—political or religious—is always about drama.” He stood and placed his plate in the sink. “And then there’s you, my wonderful wife. As much as I love you, darlin’, anytime you’re involved in anything, drama makes its way into our lives. No, I don’t want any part of it.”
“So, you’re just gonna let this huge opportunity pass us—I mean, pass you by?”
“Yup, because it’s not an opportunity that interests me. The church, the show, and most importantly you and the children are enough for me.” He leaned over and kissed her forehead. “Speaking of the church, I’m gonna get dressed and head over there. I have a meeting in a couple of hours.”
“Okay,” she said, dismissing him with words, though she’d already dismissed him in her mind. Jasmine stayed as Hosea left her alone in the kitchen.
You and the children are enough for me.
Until a few minutes ago, she would’ve agreed with her husband. But this conversation was a game changer.
Hosea was right—their lives were without drama, but it had gotten kind of boring. Every day it was the same thing—getting the children off to school, then working on the women’s committees at the church, then coming home to meet the children, then helping Mrs. Sloss with dinner, then … then … then …
Not that she had complaints; she loved her life, her family. But she would still love everyone, and maybe even a little bit more if Hosea were the head of the ABC.
Oh, no. She wasn’t going to sit back and let this opportunity pass Hosea. He needed this position, even if he didn’t know it.
Standing, she moved toward their bedroom, the conniving wheels of her brain already churning. She stood outside the door of their master bathroom, listening to her husband praise God, the spray of the shower, his accompanying music.
“I trust you, Lord!” He sang the words to one of Donnie McClurkin’s songs.
“Babe,” she said, interrupting his praise time. “I’m gonna run over to Mae Frances’s apartment, okay?”
“Don’t you have a meeting at the church?”
“Yeah, but it’s not till this afternoon and Mae Frances just called and she really needs me to help her with something.” Jasmine paused. It had been a long time since she’d manipulated the truth to get something she wanted. But it wasn’t like she was going back to being a total liar again—she just needed to get this done and after Hosea was in his rightful place, she’d go back to being on the side of righteousness.
“Oh, okay. Is Nama all right?” he asked, referring to Mae Frances by the name their children called the older woman.
“She’s fine. You know Nama. I’ll call Mrs. Whittingham and tell her that I may be a little late for my meeting.”
By the time they said their good-byes and Jasmine grabbed her purse, she already had a plan. But she’d need some help, and Mae Frances, her friend who knew everyone from Al Sharpton to Al Capone and his offspring, was just the person to help her.
“Sorry, Pastor Adams,” she said to herself as she rode down in the elevator. “Whoever you are, you can be the president of the ABC once Hosea and I are done—in, say, ten or twenty years.”
She stepped outside of their Central Park South apartment building and into the New York springtime sun. Slapping on her designer glasses, she laughed out loud.
Oh, yeah, today was gonna be a really good day.
Sinners & Saints
Bestselling and award-winning novelists Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley bring their favorite heroines together in a novel that will delight their legions of fans.
Jasmine Larson Bush and Rachel Jackson Adams are not your typical first ladies. But they’ve overcome their scandalous and drama-filled pasts to stand firmly by their husbands’ sides.
When a coveted position opens up—president of the American Baptist Coalition— both women think their husbands are perfect for the job. And winning the position may require both women to get down and dirty and revert to their old tricks. Just when Jasmine and Rachel think they’re going to have to fight to the finish, the current first lady of the coalition steps in . . . a woman bigger, badder, and more devious than either of them.
Double the fun with a message of faith, Sinners & Saints will delight readers with two of their favorite characters from two of their favorite authors.
The Battle Begins: Team Rachel VS Team Jasmine
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Reading Group Guide
Both Rachel Jackson Adams and Jasmine Larson Bush stand by their men—both of whom are pastors. But when their husbands are each nominated for the role of president of the American Baptist Coalition, the largest organization of African American churches, the kid gloves come off. Rachel and Jasmine each want her own husband to win—solely for the betterment of the ABC, of course. To become the most important first lady in America, the ladies will have to figure out what they’re willing to sacrifice. Neither is quite a saint, but will they have to become sinners to make it to the top?
Questions & Topics for Discussion
1. Sinners and Saints opens with Jasmine’s promise to God. Do you think that Jasmine keeps her promise throughout the course of the story? Why or why not?
2. Jasmine feels bored with the routine of her life with Hosea (p. 8). How do you think this boredom influences her strong pursuit of the ABC first lady t see more