Maggie Adams believes she was born to be a writer (see Psalm 139:16)—but it took awhile for her to figure that out. She grew up in North Carolina, then went “up north” to college (to Virginia, then to New York). Unable to decide what interested her most, she majored in Spanish, anthropology, and English, and studied voice. It wasn’t until she married and her husband entered graduate school that Maggie figured out what she wanted to do with her own life. She’s been widely published in short fiction, short nonfiction, and poetry since 1986; she has also spent over a decade freelancing for multiple publishers as a manuscript reader, proofreader, and copy editor.
She’d dressed in a navy blue suit—blue because she’d heard somewhere that the color symbolized sincerity—with a red blouse, for a pop of powerful, confident color. She could use all the confidence she could get.
Sandi surveyed herself in the mirror once more. Much was riding on this trip to the bank. She simply couldn’t fail Granny and Gramps in their hour of need! Granny insisted that God would somehow make a way to supply their needs. “Not necessarily our frivolous wants, mind you,” she was always quick to explain to Sandi, “but certainly our ‘daily bread’ kinds of needs.” Sandi wasn’t so sure of that. She wished she could believe unquestioningly, herself, but . . .
No, she wouldn’t dwell on the negative parts of her past. She was determined to put the sadness behind her. After all, there was no place to go but up.
Forcing a smile onto her face and a spring in her step, she went down the stairs, where she picked up the messenger bag–style black pocketbook that matched her sensible pumps. I sure hope I look like someone the bank would want to give a loan, she thought as she locked the front door and dropped the key into her purse.
She clutched the large leather tote to her side, protective of it because it was filled with every possible proof of credit worthiness and good character she’d been able to think of. She walked toward a man motioning to her from behind a desk in the bank’s loan department.
Sandi tried not to squint as she drew closer to him, but he looked familiar.
When he stood to shake her hand, she was struck by his height and muscular build, as well as the warmth of his smile; this guy appeared solid, in the best sense of the word.
“Sandi Reavis?” he asked as he clasped her hand a bit longer than politeness required.
She felt a blush heat her face. “Actually, it’s Sandi Murray now—although I guess I might change it back to Sandi Reavis soon,” she babbled, wishing she wouldn’t sound so clueless, and giving herself a mental kick in the pants. “Um, I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage. Do I know you?”
“Bo Dempsey. Cutler High School, remember? I was a year behind you—but I’m not surprised if you didn’t notice me. You and Jake Murray were pretty hot and heavy, as I recall.”
Sandi fought against feeling ashamed. “That’s right. We were—until I caught him cheating on me again. Funny—I kept taking him back and trying to forgive him, but in the end, he left me anyway.”
“Dumb schmuck,” Bo replied. At Sandi’s startled look, he clarified, “Jake, not you. He never appreciated the treasure he had in you.” Then, shaking his head and clearing his throat, as if embarrassed, he extended an arm in an invitation for her to sit. Changing the topic abruptly, he asked, “So, what can I do for you today, Sandi?”
“I need a loan—or my grandparents do. I’m not sure which, because I don’t understand the legalities. When Jake left me for good last year, I lost our house, so I moved in with them. They’re not doing too well, though—diabetes, cancer . . .”
“I’m sorry. Your grandparents are fine people. They’ve been on the prayer list at our church, but I didn’t know all the details. You’re right, though—we need to see what we can do for them.”
She inclined her head in agreement, trying not to let Bo see how flustered he made her feel both by the mention of his attending her grandparents’ church and by his matter-of-fact agreement that they needed to find a way to support Granny and Gramps. Bo Dempsey did not talk like a typical banker—not at all. Were bankers even allowed to suggest that they could find a way to help a client before they knew the client’s financial situation? She had to force herself to stay on topic. “My grandparents have given me power of attorney. They don’t have the cash to take care of their medical copays and living expenses, so I’m hoping I can apply for a home equity line of credit on their behalf.”
Bo had been nodding sympathetically and taking notes. “Sounds reasonable. You know, of course, that I’ll need your permission to run a credit check before we proceed?”
“Would the credit check have to include me, or would it be only theirs?”
He looked at her funny.
“Okay,” she said, “I may as well tell you: The last time I discovered Jake playing around on me, I also found that he hadn’t been handling his end of our business dealings properly. We owned a small business—but apparently he’d been spending a lot of our bill-paying money on his latest girlfriend, instead. So, in addition to everything else, I’m also in the midst of a bankruptcy filing with that business.”
“Boy, you’re in a tough spot, huh?” Bo remarked. The tenderness Sandi saw in Bo’s brown eyes softened the impact of his words.
“Yeah,” she admitted softly, “I am.” In her vulnerability at seeing Bo Dempsey again—whom she now actually did remember quite well and with a sort of vague fondness from way back when—had she now given away any hope of being able to help her grandparents?
“Don’t get too down. I’ll do everything I can to help you work something out. Knowing your grandparents, I’m pretty sure their credit is still good—and if your bankruptcy is in your business’s name, and not in yours, we might be able to work around that too.”
“Really?” Sandi studied Bo more closely. Nearly twenty years out of high school, he was developing a little gray at the temples and laugh lines at the corners of his eyes, but those changes only made him appear wiser and more approachable. What if she’d ever stopped long enough to give him a second glace back then? Might she have also noticed his compassionate spirit—even been drawn to the faith he shared with her beloved grandparents . . . a faith that made it okay to be vulnerable with God, and trust Him to supply her true needs? Trust hadn’t come easily to her the last several years, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t worth trying to practice now.
“Tell me if I’m out of line,” Bo said, “but would you want to talk about this in a more relaxed setting—say, over lunch? I know a nice sandwich shop a couple blocks from here.”
Sandi returned his tentative smile and stood. “Lead the way—please.”