by Kim Cash Tate
What’s your dream 40th birthday celebration? It’s probably not serving as maid of honor at your spoiled younger sister’s wedding. That certainly wasn’t how Cyd hoped to spend her birthday, especially since she’s not even dating anyone herself. Dana’s day isn’t going any better—she just caught her husband in bed with another woman. Meanwhile, Phyllis found the perfect godly guy . . . unfortunately, she’s already married to someone else. Will these three friends find the strength to be faithful to the covenants they’ve made with God―and each other?
Cydney Sanders jumped at the ringing of the phone, startled out of slumber. She rolled over, peeked at the bedside clock, and groaned. She had twenty whole minutes before the alarm would sound, and she wanted every minute of that twenty. Only her sister would be calling at five forty in the morning. Every morning she called, earlier and earlier, with a new something that couldn’t wait regarding that wedding of hers. Not that Stephanie was partial to mornings. She was apt to call several times during the day and into the evening as well. Everything wedding related was urgent.
Cyd nestled back under the covers, rolling her eyes at the fifth ring. Tonight she would remember to turn that thing off. She was tired of Stephanie worrying her from dawn to dusk.
Her heart skipped suddenly and she bolted upright. The wedding is tomorrow. The day seemed to take forever to get here, and yet it had come all too quickly. She sighed, dread descending at once with a light throbbing of her head. She might have felt stressed no matter what date her sister had chosen for the wedding. That she chose Cyd’s fortieth birthday made it infinitely worse.
She sank back down at the thought of it. Forty. She didn’t mind the age itself. She’d always thought it would be kind of cool, in fact. At forty, she’d be right in the middle of things, a lot of life behind her, a lot of living yet to do. She’d be at a stride, confident in her path, her purpose. She would have climbed atop decades of prayer and study, ready to walk in some wisdom. Celebrate a little understanding. Stand firmly in faith. Count it all joy.
And she’d look good. She was sure of that. She’d work out during her pregnancies, and while the babies nursed and sucked down her tummy, she would add weights to the cardio routine to shape and tone. As she aged, her metabolism could turn on her if it wanted to; she had something for that too. She would switch up her workout every few weeks, from jogging to mountain bike riding to Tae Bo, all to keep her body guessing, never letting it plateau. Her husband would thank her.
He would also throw her a party. She wasn’t much of a party person, but she always knew she’d want a big one on the day she turned forty. It wouldn’t have to be a surprise. She’d heard enough stories of husbands unable to keep a party secret anyway. They’d plan it together, and she would kick in the new season in high spirits, surrounded by the people she loved.
Now that she was one day away, she still had no problem with forty. It was the other stuff that had shown up with it—forty, never been married, childless. Now, despite her distinguished career as a classics professor at Washington University in St. Louis, she was questioning her path and her purpose and dreading her new season—and the fact that she was forced to ring it in as maid of honor in her younger sister’s wedding . . . her much younger sister.
She was still irritated that Stephanie kept the date even after their mother reminded her that October 18 was Cyd’s birthday.
“Why does that matter?” Stephanie had said.
The only thing that mattered to Stephanie was Stephanie, and if she wanted something, she was going to make it happen. Like now. She cared not a whit that she was ringing Cyd’s phone off the hook before dawn, waking Cyd and the new puppy, who was yelping frantically in her crate in the kitchen.
Cyd gave up, reached over, and snatched up the phone. Before it came fully to her ear, she heard her sister’s voice.
“Cyd, I forgot to tell you last night—stop,” Stephanie giggled. “You see I’m on the phone.”
I can’t believe she woke me up for this. Cyd pushed her feet into her slippers and padded downstairs with a yawn to let out the puppy. “Do you do this when you’re talking to Momma?”
Stephanie fumbled with the phone. “Do what?”
“Make it obvious that you and Lindell spent the night together?”
“Cyd, we are grown and will be married tomorrow. Who gives a flip if we spent the night together?”
“Stephanie . . . “ Cyd closed her eyes at the bottom of the stairs as all manner of responses swirled in her mind. Sometimes she wondered if she and Stephanie had really grown up in the same family with the same two parents who loved God and made His ways abundantly clear. Much of it had sailed right over Stephanie’s head.
“Did you talk to Dana? I wasn’t trying to be difficult,” Stephanie said, “but something told me to stop by her house yesterday to see for myself what kind of shoes she bought. You said they were cute, but those things were dreadful.”
“Stephanie, they’re flower-girl shoes. All flower-girl shoes are cute. Mackenzie tried them on with the dress when I was over there last week, and she looked adorable.”
“The dress is adorable—because I picked it out—but those tired Mary Janes with the plain strap across the top have got to go. Is that what they wear at white weddings or something?”
“I don’t know. Google it—‘official flower-girl shoes at white weddings.’”
“Ha, ha, very funny. I’m just sayin’. . .”
“I have to work.” She’d gone above and beyond for Stephanie already. This week alone, she’d taken care of several items Stephanie was supposed to handle.
“How can you even focus on work today?” Stephanie sounded perplexed. “Aren’t you just too excited about the big event? Girl, you know this is your wedding, too.”
Cyd paused. “How is this my wedding too?”
“Since it looks like you won’t be getting married yourself”―Stephanie had a shrug in her voice―”you’ve at least gotten a chance to plan one through me. You know, living vicariously. Hasn’t it been fun?”
Cyd held the phone aloft and stared at it. Did Stephanie really think these last few months had been fun? She had involved Cyd in every decision from her dress to her colors to the style, thickness, and font of the invitations to the type of headpiece Mackenzie should wear―all of which could have been fun if Stephanie had really wanted her sister’s opinions.
What Stephanie wanted was for Cyd to accompany her about town to every wedding-related appointment, listen with interest as she debated with herself about gowns, floral arrangements, and what to include on the wedding registry, and affirm her ultimate picks. She also wanted Cyd to handle whatever she deemed drudgery. And Cyd didn’t mind; as the maid of honor, she thought it her duty to address invitations, order favors, and the like. What bugged her was Stephanie’s ingratitude, which wasn’t new but had taken on a high-gloss sheen. It was Stephanie’s world, and everyone else revolved around it, especially Cyd, since in Stephanie’s opinion she didn’t have a life anyway.
Now she was telling Cyd—matter-of-factly—that it looked like her sister wouldn’t ever be getting married. Cyd wished she could dismiss it as she did Stephanie’s other flippant remarks. But how could she, when her own inner voice was shouting the same?
Excerpted from Faithful. Copyright ©2010 by Kimberly Cash Tate. Published in Nashville, Tennessee by Thomas Nelson. Used with permission. All rights reserved.