“Please, Joanna, get in now!!” Ontel looked at her with an intense glare. She hesitated, thinking about the possibility of a trap. Who could she trust? The only man that she had let into her life in YEARS was turning out to be her most horrible nightmare. She thought about her sister reminding her of how she had pushed God to the back burner due to her relationship with Sagar. Was God behind this? Could He be punishing her because of her disobedience to His Word? The thought brought a fear and panic that she had never felt before. Suddenly, she saw lights coming from afar. Ontel looked ahead and then back to Joanna. “Listen, I have so much to tell you, but I can’t do it here. And the longer you wait, the more danger you and your children are in. Joanna looked at him with a pleading in her eyes. She wanted so badly to trust him, but at this time she couldn’t even trust her own gut instinct. The lights turned out to be a car that was coming into the driveway of her home. The car turned in towards the main driveway and then stopped at the intercom. A few seconds past then the car went into the gate. Who was it? Probably DCF or the police. Ontel’s hand reaching for her brought her back to the choice that was in front of her. He grabbed her arm, firm but comfortingly and pleaded one last time with her. “Look, I know you don’t feel like you can trust me, but I am begging you to get in the truck now. I would never hurt you. The information I have is going to turn all of this in your favor if you only trust me.” With that, Joanna put a leg up and lifted herself into the truck. Ontel rolled the overly dark tinted windows up and they sped away from the lake. Just as they were approaching the gate, they noticed the black Cadillac coupe that had previously entered the driveway exiting. “GET DOWN!” he said. “What…” She tried to ask the question and he shoved her shoulders until she was down on her knees with her face to the back of the passenger seat. Her heart raced as she wondered why he didn’t want her to be seen. What exactly was going on? The truck came to a slow stop as she heard the brakes from the other car. “Hey, have you seen Joanna?” She knew that voice! It was Stacey. How could she have been out of the car that she had left her in not even an hour ago and in another car? And why would she circle the block to come back to her home when she hadn’t asked her to? Immediately she thought that maybe something was wrong. Maybe she had found out additional information about Colton or Abigail and she was coming back to tell her. Joanna felt foolish, hiding from Stacey, her closest friend, really. Being that she had been her assistant for over 8 years, they had created a real bond. She shared EVERYTHING with her. Joanna felt bad about leaving the car without saying a word. Suddenly, she felt a hand from the back wrap around hers. Startled, she jumped and cautiously peered around. IT WAS COLTON!! “I love you…” He whispered. Joanna mouthed the words to him and squeezed his hand. She looked to Ontel to hear what the conversation had went to. Ontel was going on about how he had dropped her off near the stables and that maybe she was there. Why was he lying to her? Joanna wanted to lift her head and let her know she was there.Stacey paused….”Well, I have her phone. She left in such a rush I forgot to give it to her.” Joanna felt her heart drop in her stomach. Why would Stacey be lying about this? Clearly this idiot Ontel had smashed her phone on the way to the lake. Joanna felt a chill run up her spine. It seemed that whatever was going on, Stacey was in on it too. But why? Joanna had done nothing but good for Stacey, even going as far as to pay the down payment for her home she purchased last year. Suddenly, Joanna realized how many fake relationships she had in her life. First Sagar, now Stacey. What else was not real? A hot tear fell down her cheek. She squeezed Colton’s hand even harder. Having him here filled her broken heart with excitement. Now all she needed was baby girl. They were all she lived for. “…Please tell her to call me when you see her. I need to find out what her next move is with the kids.” Ontel stated, playing along with the liar. Stacey laughed. “I sure will, you know our boss, so busy being in love, she would lose her head if it wasn’t screwed on.” With that Ontel pulled off. When he got out onto the street, he signaled for Joanna to get up. Instead, she climbed over the seat and grabbed Colton closer. He laughed, clearly uncomfortable with all the affection. Joanna couldn’t help herself. Having him here meant that he was safe. She thought for sure that DCF had gotten him by now. She kissed his cheek and cried real tears. “Mommy loves you so much baby boy. And I am so sorry if I haven’t let you know that.” Colton blushed and put his head down. “Ma, you tell me that all the time.” Joanna kissed his hazelnut cheeks again. “I really mean it. All of this has made me realize that you and your sister are number one in my life.” She held his hand and looked up to Ontel’s eyes in the rearview mirror. He quickly turned his attention to the road. “Why was Stacey lying? What is going on?” Joanna turned her total attention to Ontel’s full lips. “I am guessing she has been paid to spy on you as well. I mean, obviously the phone lie gave her away, but if you were able to see the panic in her face as she tried to explain why she was looking for you..” He looked back into the mirror and noticed Joanna staring. “Are you okay?” he asked. Joanna quickly looked at her hands and back to Colton, giving him another kiss as he leaned back in the seat. “I’m fine. I just need to know what is really going on. I mean, I know that Sagar has done what he did….” tears filled her eyes before she could even finish her sentence. She had been a complete fool for him. How could she let this happen. Ontel interrupted her own private self-shaming. “This whole story of Abigail is only the beginning of what is really happening. Sagar is trying to frame you.” She looked stunned. “How? My daughter knows that I would never hurt her. Everyone knows I love my daughter.” Not answering right away, Ontel got into the turning lane and swung the SUV right. Joanna looked and noticed they were pulling into Reverend Fulton’s home which was next to his church. “Why are we here?” Immediately they went into a garage and the door started closing behind them, leaving them in complete darkness. As the door closed completely, there was pitch black all around them. Joanna pulled Colton close to her. Suddenly, light filled the garage and she saw her sister standing next to the Reverend motioning for them to get in.
They got out of the truck and Joanna eyed her sister. Why was Paula here? Before she could even imagine an answer, her sister ran and gave her a hug. “I’m so glad you are alive baby sis.” Joanna looked from her sister to the reverend and back to Ontel who was now out of the truck and standing next to her. Colton gave her sister a hug and then stood closer to his mom. “What is going on for real?” Joanna demanded answers. The reverend motioned for them to step into his home. As they stepped in, Joanna could hear Karen Clark Sheard crooning in the background. His modest home smelled like cookies and incense. She could see a woman sitting in the living room singing along to the music. When she noticed them, she stood up. “Come in Joanna,” She stated. Confused, Joanna stopped and looked around. “This is prophetess Anna.” The reverend stated. “I wanted you and her to have a sit down.” Joanna looked to everyone standing and gave each one a confused look. “It will all make sense soon.” The woman stated and extended her hand. Joanna shook it and sat down, grabbing Colton’s hand as she sat. “Let’s let you two women talk and Colton can come with us in the den.” He motioned for Colton, who attempted to stand, but Joanna grabbed his hand. “Colton stays WITH ME!” Her sister placed her arm around Joanna and they locked eyes. “Sis, you can definitely trust him with us. We love you him and Abby and we would not allow anything to happen to you guys. That’s why you are here.” She released his hand slightly, then looked around the home. “sis, please, please let him stay within eyesight.” Her sister nodded in agreement then sent Colton to the den which was within Joanna’s sight. They sat down in front of cookies and some milk that Reverend brought to him at the table. Joanna looked over to the prophetess who smiled at her as if they had known each other for years. “Joanna I am so sorry that we had to meet like this, but I am glad that the Lord has allowed me to reveal the truth to you.” Joanna looked away from her and back to Colton and then back to her. “What is this truth? And why is everyone being so mysterious? Just tell me what’s going on?” The prophetess looked at Joanna with a serious yet loving gaze then reached out and grabbed her hand. Immediately, Joanna felt a peace that was almost tangible and unexpected tears begin to flow from her eyes. The prophetess looked at her as if she could see her soul and then stated, “The man that you are in love with is a dangerous man.” Joanna was shaking as she asked this question for what seemed like the 100th time. “Dangerous how?” The prophetess looked back to the Reverend who nodded and then stated, “He is the head priest of the largest satanic cult in this part of the world.” Struggling to keep a straight face, Joanna almost laughed at what was stated. But as she looked around, she could see that they at least believed the foolishness they were telling her.