Son of a Preacher Man - By Arianna Hart


This story is dedicated to my dad. He was always there for me whenever I need a shoulder to cry on, a joke to cheer me up, or a word of advice. I never let him read a single book I wrote, but he was proud of me every time I sold a new one. I wish everyone had a father like him.

I miss you, Pops.

Also, special thanks to my fabulous niece, Jackie, for all your help with Georgia-isms (any mistakes are mine). I’m so proud of you, sweetie.


Dale, Georgia, Twelve Years Ago

“Mama, there’s a car coming up the drive,” Nadya said as casually as she could considering the vast amount of anticipation thrumming through her eighteen-year-old body.

“It’s probably just Pastor McBride coming for his weekly visit,” her mother answered from the living room. “Do we have fresh tea in the fridge?”

“Yes. But, Mama, I don’t understand why he comes every week. We’re never joining his church.” Not that she minded, seeing as Pastor McBride always brought his son J.T. with him on his visits.

“I guess he feels like it’s his Christian duty to bring me to the Lord. I keep with God my own way.”

“But Mrs. Campbell is always saying how we’re going to hell—”

“Darlin’, those same ladies who spend all Sunday at church praying and lamenting come to me on Monday looking for love potions or a gypsy curse. Now you tell me which is more sinful? We live our lives without pretense and hurt no one, while they smile to your face and stab you in the back. When the time comes to meet my Maker, I have nothing to hide.”

Nadya didn’t have patience to contemplate theology right now. Every atom of her being was focused on the sound of tires crunching up the long drive from the road to their cabin. She wiped her suddenly sweaty palms on the seat of her cutoffs and checked her reflection in the spotted mirror hanging in the hall. Her long, black hair stubbornly refused to lie straight in the Georgia heat and humidity. It was way too hot to leave down so she’d piled the curls on top of her head and let some fall around her face. With the big, gold hoop earrings and some eyeliner and mascara to play up her slanted eyes, she thought she looked exotic and mature. She’d never be one of those blonde-haired, pink-cheeked china dolls like her friend, Mary Ellen, so she didn’t even bother to try.

The crunch of tires on the gravel drive came to a halt, and Nadya’s heart beat double-time. She peeked out the kitchen window and caught a glimpse of J.T.’s long frame unfolding from his father’s Buick. Her mouth went dry as he ambled around the hood of the car. He tossed his head back to get the shock of hair that perpetually hung in his eyes off his face, and her heart skipped a beat.

That damn move had every female from five to fifty panting after him. And if that didn’t get their panties in a lather, a flash of his dimples and they melted at his feet.

Nadya bit back the urge to rush to the door as she heard the porch steps creak. Let him wait for a change.

Her mother shot her a knowing grin as she answered the polite knock on the screen door. Nadya listened from the kitchen window as her mother greeted their visitors.

“Why, Pastor McBride, what a surprise,” Mama said in her sultry voice. “What brings you all the way out here on such a hot day? Won’t you sit down and have some tea?”

“Good afternoon, Miss Talaitha. I’d love a glass of sweet tea if you have it ready. Don’t go to any trouble on my account though.”

“It’s no trouble at all. How about you, Jefferson Thomas? Can I get you a glass too?”

No! No, no, no, no! If J.T. sat down with her mother and his father, that would force Nadya to join them, and they’d be there for close to an hour making small talk and listening to the pastor talk about the wages of sin.

“No, thank you, ma’am. I was wondering if I could take a look at the creek? Some friends of mine were thinking about going fishing, and I want to see how they’re running today.”

“I understand. Have Nadya take you. The woods ’round here can be a little trickier than what you’re used to.”

Yes! Go, Mom!

“Nadya? Honey, can you show Jefferson Thomas the way to