The décor is retro nouveau geek meets trendy pop funk classic. The shop is empty because it has been reserved for the Firstwives to have privacy and time.
Elaine is standing near the front door in a green jacket, white graphic tee and skinny jeans. Four laptops with the Click & Drink Coffee Shop logo decal are set up on a large round table for eight with menus showing on the screen. Bong. Elaine opens the door for a tall raven haired woman with flawless makeup.
“Hi, I’m Elaine, welcome!” Elaine opens her arms offering a hug. The raven haired beauty extends a hesitant right hand. “Thanks for coming. Have a seat in front of one of the laptops at the round table near the coffee bar. Select what you’d like to have from the menu on the screen and someone will serve you.”
“Oh, okay. Thank you.”
“What’s your name?” Elaine allows the door to close behind her and turns to face the woman.
“Oh, I just assumed you…nevermind. I’m First Lady Carmandi Prescott.” Carmandi unzips her winter white leather coat. “What do you recommend? I’ve never been to this particular coffee shop. I normally go to a more popular chain.”
“You would probably enjoy the white chocamocha latte and organic turkey breast spring mix salad.” Elaine smiles.
“I’ll try that, thank you.” Carmandi walks to the table and sits down in front of a laptop.
Elaine suppresses a giggle as she turns her attention back to the door. A dark brown skinned woman with long wavy hair cascading around her shoulders opens the door and gives a half smile.
“Hi, I’m Kendalynn Thompson, I was invited here by Elaine Bright.” Kendalynn steps to the side of the door.
“Thank you for coming, Kendalynn, I’m Elaine Bright.” Elaine opens her arms again to offer a hug then extends her hand then reopens her arms.
Kendalynn smiles and gives Elaine the classic church hug, pats included. “Thanks, Elaine. I love this place. The cinnamel frappe is my favorite. I normally go to the one near my office.”
“That is my favorite drink too. I’ve prepared seats at the roundtable with the laptops. Feel free to make yourself comfortable. We’re expecting one more.” Elaine turns back to the door.
A waiter walks through double doors carrying a tray with the order Elaine recommended to Carmandi. He places it down to the right of her laptop and nods. The same waiter returns with a frappe and a sandwich and soup plate for Kendalynn. Elaine shifts her weight from one leg to the other as she watches the door. A woman with butterscotch colored skin and a neat curly afro pulls the door open.
“You must be, Patronda. I’m Elaine, thanks for coming.” Elaine shakes the hand Patronda extends.
“Well thank you for putting this together. Thanks for supporting the ministry too.”
Elaine scrunches her face and shakes her head. “I don’t follow you.”
“You knew my name.” Patronda unbuttons her ash gray cashmere coat.
“Oh, process of elimination, the other ladies already arrived.” Elaine gives her brightest smile. “Join us over at the table and select whatever you like from the menu. We’ll get started in a moment.”
Patronda glides to the table and sits next to an empty place and Carmandi. Elaine sighs and sits in the chair next to Kendalynn and the empty space.
The waiter carries a frappe and warm wrap to the table and places it in front of Elaine.
Patronda waves at him as he returns through the double doors. Carmandi shakes her head and points to the menu on the screen of the laptop in front of Patronda. Patronda’s face lights up like a light bulb. She uses the mouse pad to select her meal and relaxes into her chair.
“Ladies thanks again for coming. I’m Elder Elaine Bright and I am the wife of Pastor Randy Bright of Connected Christian Fellowship. Ours is a different kind of ministry because ninety percent of our members are homebound for a myriad of reasons. We only have physical service twice a month here at this building in our conference room through that side door.” Elaine points to a honey oak door. “Despite having a nontraditional membership we enjoy offering the ministry God gave us to millennials and others who prefer or are restricted to fellowship and bible study via the internet.”
“So you’re saying you have an entire church online like that video game what is it the Pims?” Carmandi picks up her latte and sips.
“No, this is not a virtual church. We utilize live streaming technology and real time chat capabilities as well as several other online ministry tools my husband patented to offer spiritual bread unconventionally. We meet people online, where a lot of them spend most of their time these days. About 500 people a month gather for the in person services here. The others my husband, other ministers and I visit throughout the month.” Elaine sighs and picks up her wrap to take a bite.
“Interesting,” Patronda nods as the waiter appears at her side with her order of curly fries, bottled water and a tuna melt sandwich. “How do you plan to grow from a mega to a supermega ministry and maintain a visitation schedule that touches all of your members?”
“We don’t. Our church grew organically by word of mouth. Marketing is something we leave to corporate entities.” Elaine offers a smile as she wipes her mouth.
“Oh,” Patronda said.
“Well isn’t that very, trendy of you.” Carmandi flips the hair off of her shoulder with a supermodel move that belongs on a magazine cover.
“That is beautiful Elaine.” Kendalynn winks when only Elaine is looking at her. “Jesus met people where they were and so should we. What else do you do?”
“I’m a graphic artist and web designer. I maintain all of the sites for my hubby and the church and a few exclusive corporate clients. My favorite thing is graphic design.” Elaine said.
“You mean you work in addition to helping to serve your ministry.” Carmandi’s hand freezes with her fork mid air. “That sounds you like have an awful lot on your plate.”
“I love what I do so, it doesn’t feel like a lot to me.” Elaine shrugs. “Do you work outside of the ministry?”
“Between meetings, committees, conferences and public appearances in the fashion industry I don’t have time to do anything else.” Carmandi sips the last of her latte then pulls out a small pink tube and refreshes her lipstick.
“Me either, between the pageants, church obligations and being a wife and mother who has time for a …job?” Patronda catches Carmandi’s eye momentarily before a quick eye roll.
“That is understandable. Wait your…Patty Cool, you had that hit song back in the nineties. I used to love that song. I mean you guys used to be famous so I imagine you don’t have to have a job.” Kendalynn shakes her head and smiles. “I have a full time law practice catering strictly to the nonprofit sector…I could not sit at home or church all day. If we had a traditional ministry I would barely make it there on Sunday.”
“Well, God doesn’t put more on us than we can bear. I can’t bear the thought of a job part time or otherwise.” Carmandi flicks a nonexistent hair from her face. “Being the wife of the Apostle for the largest church in the Metropolis area is enough work for me.”
“Amen, Carmandi.” Patronda dabbed the corners of her mouth with her napkin. “Running my pageant is more than enough in addition to my duties as a wife and pastor.”
“I am so excited to see what God has brought us all together for during this show. Could He have selected four more different people to represent Him?” Elaine finishes her latte and the waiter appears with a refill. “Thank you.”
“Yes, it’s something alright.” Kendalynn looks Carmandi and Patronda square in the eye and crosses her arms. “I’m interested in hearing more about how you do the online portion of your church. Are we able to log on from here?”
“Sure, let’s finish eating first. We can dig into the cupcakes I had baked from scratch by my favorite cupcakery, then log into the site. This is so great.” Elaine clasps her hands together before typing something on the screen. The waiter brings a platter of cupcakes out and sits them in the center of the table. “I have a feeling this is going to change all of our lives.”
“I bet you’re right sweetie.” Carmandi picks up a pink and yellow cupcake from the stand.
“It’s changed mine already.” Patronda rolls her eyes.
Carmandi Prescott sits behind a posh crystal top writing desk in a lush soft pink leather desk chair. A stylist fluffs her hair and holds a mirror for her to give her final approval. Carmandi looks at a card on her desk and sighs.
“What did I think of Elaine’s internet ministry…I’m still struggling with calling it a church. Uhm, well, I believe their heart is in the right place. There are a lot of people who won’t come into a proper…I mean conventional house of worship and I think God is happy they have somewhere to get something of some spiritual weight. I hope it works out for them. Well if not she always has her job to fall back on, maybe that is why God wants her to work.” Carmandi flashes a thousand watt smile. “She is a lovely woman and I did enjoy the time we spent at the Coffee & Click. I have had my armor bearer fetch that combo for me several times since we visited with them. When she comes over to our guest loft I’m sure she’ll enjoy it as much or more as I did at the coffee house. It was nice of the owners to shut it down so we could have some privacy.” Carmandi flashes another thousand watt smile and nods.