Preview chapter 1 of Straight Off the Internet by Bernadette Love
The Word For Women Network An Interactive Ministry
Most red blooded American workers look forward to Friday, even the ones with the cushier jobs. Friday
usually means fun, freedom and more fun. It was the end of the work week, with everyone anxious to leave
the office, everyone except Gloria Adams, that is. She was sitting at her desk with her head buried in
paperwork as usual when her assistant, Evelyn, knocked forcing Gloria to lift her head out of the clutter.
“Boss, it is quitting time. Aren’t you going home? It’s after five.” She said, tapping on her watch to
emphasize her words.
“I know it is. Why are you still here?” Gloria looked up and smiled. She pulled off her reading glasses and
massaged her temples. She could feel a headache coming from all of the reading that she had been doing
and decided to head it off at the pass. She was actually grateful for the small interruption.
“I had a few things that I wanted to clear off my desk before I left. You know how I am about starting
Monday off right. I have to be proactive to stay ahead of you. The pile just grows and grows because you
have no life outside this office. Hey, what are you doing this weekend? And please don’t say ‘nothing’.
You know how that gets on my nerves.”
“Then I won’t say it. But, I don’t have any plans. I had talked to Jennifer about bringing the baby over to
spend the weekend but I don’t know about that now.”
“You know, I don’t like to overstep my bounds and get into your business but I have to tell you that this is
just not natural. You stay in the house week in and week out. The only excitement in your life is this office
and church. Surely there are some eligible men your age at that church, someone who can take you out of
“Evelyn, I know that you mean well, but I’m fine. When the time is right, the right man will come along.
God’s got this, I’m waiting on Him.” Gloria decided to start fiddling through her papers again, hoping that
Evelyn would take the hint and leave her alone.
“I don’t think that God would mind if you helped him out by getting out of the house every now and then.
Ok, if you refuse to go out and meet someone, maybe you’d be interested in a singles site that I found a few
weeks ago. I have met some really nice guys. As a matter of fact I have a dinner date with one of them
“And you really think that this is what God wants me to do, get on the internet to find a man? That stuff
might work for you, but for me I feel that it would be a total waste of time. We’re so different.”
“Well, if you can’t bring the mountain to Joshua, take Joshua to the mountain I always say. And besides,
how are we so different? You’re only a couple of years older than I am. You’re just as pretty as anyone I
know. You just need to stop hiding behind the drab clothes and that bun in the back of your head, have
mercy!!!. And maybe if you put a little makeup on and….”
“Ok, I get your point.” Gloria said, interrupting the listing of her faults with an exasperated sigh.
“Well, no one can force you. I just hate to see you wasting away like you are. If you decide to give it a
chance, I took the liberty of writing the web address on this piece of paper. I don’t think that you’ll regret it.
Have a good weekend boss, I’m out of here.” Evelyn placed the little piece of paper on Gloria’s desk and
glided out humming.
Gloria gave her a wave goodbye before Evelyn closed the door, wishing that she had half of the charm and
charisma that Evelyn had. She was the kind of woman that men flocked to. She was always so easy
going, the life of the party type. Gloria couldn’t help but remember when she had been like that, a lifetime
ago. She too had been fun loving, spirited and in love with life. She wondered where that woman had gone
to and how in the world could she bring her back home. Gloria stared at the small piece of paper with the
web address hurriedly scribbled on it.
“What could it hurt? Of course I won’t use my real name, and I’ll only answer the ones that look
promising. It might be fun. Everybody is doing it so it can’t be all bad. And I’ll be careful. Wait, what am I
thinking? This is ridiculous. I’m too old for this nonsense.” Gloria talked to herself, pacing the floor with the
piece of paper in her hand, trying to talk herself out of visiting the website, all the while knowing that she
was going to do it. Who would know? She’d just tell Evelyn that she decided against it and no one would
be the wiser.
Gloria soon found herself seated in front of her computer again. She glanced at the mirror that she kept
perched on the corner of her desk. Gazing at herself, she had to admit that she was not a bad looking
woman for her age. The last fifty years had not been too bad, she admitted. To look at her now, no one
could really tell that she had survived one of the worst marriages known to mankind. She was not wrinkled
and there were no crow’s feet yet. The gray had not yet become the prominent color of her hair and her
eyes didn’t show the sadness that had become her constant companion for the last several years. She
decided that she was not a complete hopeless case. So what was stopping her from taking a chance?
Why not grab a little excitement while she still could, besides, no one would know unless she told them and
she wasn’t about to do that.
Before her courage waned, she quickly typed in the web address and proceeded to answer the ton of
questions that had to be answered just to see if there was anyone on the site worth talking to in the first
place. She was about to give up and turn off the computer when a vision of herself, old and alone flashed
before her eyes. That does it, she decided. This was not going to hurt anyone, Gloria continued typing.
She decided to upload the only glamour shot that she had onto the site. She had taken the picture for an
advertising campaign and had to admit that the photographer had really outdone himself. It was a nice
photo. Jennifer had talked her into getting a makeover just for the occasion, now she was glad that she had
listened. She read and re-wrote her profile several times before she was satisfied. She looked longingly at
her smiling picture, wondering if she would ever look like that again. The picture was only a year old and
Gloria knew that she didn’t look any older. The big difference was that the woman in the picture actually
looked happy, confident and in love with the world. Lord, where is she, Gloria wondered. She was pleased
that no one ever believed her when she told them her age but what good did it do her, nobody wanted her.
With a deep sigh she exited the site and turned off the computer, half hoping that this would work. She was
always telling people that she didn’t mind being alone, and, she was always lying. She hated it with a
purple passion. Gloria had never known happiness in the arms of that special someone. Eric had never
loved her. Jennifer’s father hadn’t loved her. For that fact, none of the men that she had ever allowed into
her space had ever really loved her. She angrily brushed away the tear that had slipped out of her eye,
collected her briefcase, purse and PDA and headed for the door.
Gloria walked aimlessly through the house that was quickly becoming too big for one person. The beautiful,
Mediterranean styled, mansion was nestled in a secluded neighborhood in Sugar Land, Texas. When she
first bought the house she had been convinced by the realtor that it was a great investment. Now, one short
year later, it was much too much for her. In all honesty she had hoped to be re-married by now and sharing
this monster of a house with the man of her dreams. She had always heard that God would restore seven
times what the devil had stolen. She had to admit that God had outdone himself where she was concerned
in every area except the one that still caused her cry in the wee hours of the morning. Money was no longer
an issue for her but there were times when she would have traded it all for the love that had forever eluded
her. It still amazed her at how God had taken her from a homeless, unemployed and aging entrepreneur
who was forced to start her own business because she couldn’t find a job, to a woman with everything that
she had ever dreamed of. He restored all that she had lost, just like the Word said that He would. When
her marriage of over twenty years had ended, she thought that her life had ended as well. She had doubted
everything about herself, including her womanhood. The only thing that kept her in the race to live was her
fear of ending up alone and lonely, the fate that she had seen befall so many women that she knew and
As usual Gloria had stopped at her favorite Chinese takeout joint. Once home she got into a pair a warm
ups and a sweat shirt that should have been condemned, and settled in the theater, ready to enjoy a movie
on Lifetime. To her immense displeasure they were showing a movie about two lovers finding each other
after years of separation. Not good, they were kissing. She surfed through the channels, looking for
something that would take her mind off of the fact that she was home alone, again. Giving up, Gloria went
downstairs to the kitchen to get a hot cup of tea when the phone startled her out of her thoughts. With a
groan she answered, not really in the mood to speak with anyone and not knowing why. She now wished
that she had talked Jennifer into letting her keep Casey for the weekend. At least then she wouldn’t have
had to suffer through her own company for yet another endless night. She hurried to pick up the phone
before it went to voice mail.
“Hello Jean, why aren’t you enjoying the company of that sweet man of yours instead of bothering me?”
Gloria asked playfully.
“Did you forget, Jerry is away on business and won’t be back until Monday night? I knew that you would be
home alone, again, and I thought you might like some company. Don’t you know that it’s against the law
for a single woman to sit home alone, night after night? Those sessions with Bishop are not helping you at
all, I see. ”
“I know. I was going to ask Jennifer if I could keep Casey but I changed my mind. I decided to get some
work done on the new prints that I want to introduce to you guys next week. What’s wrong with that?”
Inwardly, she knew what was wrong with it, she was feeling real lonely and her work would once again bail
“Those prints can wait. What is your problem? You know you are making me mad. Eric has gone on with
his life and started over with another woman. What are you waiting for?”
“I don’t know, maybe I’m just waiting on the right man to find me. How many times do I have to tell you
that?” Gloria said in feigned exasperation. She knew that Jean was only voicing what everyone else was
thinking. They all thought that she had loved Eric so much that she could not let go. Nothing could be
further from the truth. The simple reality was that she was scared to let a man get into her heart again.
Since the divorce she had dated but would always sabotage the relationship before it went too far. Whether
it was a sub-conscious action or not remained to be seen. If the relationship had been good, the old low
self esteem syndrome would tell her that it was too good to be true and she didn’t deserve it.
“And I guess he’s coming to your house to find you, right? You know that I love you, would do anything in
the world for you, but I swear I don’t understand you. You have built a business, all by yourself, that is
raking in the money. You raised two wonderful children with little or no help from Eric. You picked yourself
up after having lost everything and now you say that you are waiting to be found? By whom, if I might ask?
What is wrong with you?” The love, mingled with aggravation was coming through loud and clear. How
many times had they had this argument?
“You don’t understand, Jean. You have a man who loves the ground that you walk on. Jerry thinks that you
are the best thing since toilet paper and would do anything in the world for you. You should see the way
your eyes light up whenever you mention his name. Jennifer and Mark drive me crazy. After six years of
marriage they still dress alike. Sharon and Stan are blissfully happy and I hear about it every time I call
her. I’m happy for all of you and I want the same thing for myself. I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my
life. I just don’t know where to start and I don’t want another man walking all over my feelings like I don’t
matter. Eric flaunted his women in front of my face every chance that he got. He made me feel like I was
less than a person. That’s not easy to get over.”
“Sweetie, I know that Eric hurt you. Nobody can take that hurt away until you are willing to let it go.
Forgive him and go on. God has so tremendously blessed you and restored all that you lost. Maybe He’s
just waiting for you to let all that go so that He can give you a man who deserves a great woman like
yourself. But, His hands are tied until you forgive and let it go. You’ve got to love yourself enough to expect
His best, even in the love department. Haven’t you and Bishop covered any of this in your sessions? What
do you guys talk about?”
“I know Jean. He tells me the same things that you are saying now. I’ve forgiven Eric and I’ve even
forgiven myself for allowing all of that junk to go on for so long. And sometimes I actually think that I have
let it go until I allow myself to reminisce. Look, I’ll be ok. I’m going to fix myself a hot cup of tea and work
for a little while. I promise that I’ll do something about my attitude.” Gloria smiled into the phone, hoping
that her friend would not stress herself out about her problem.
“And while you’re fixing that attitude, please do something with the outside. I’m sick to death of the browns
and the blacks that you wear. And when was the last time you did something with your hair? That bun that
you wear in the back of your head is extremely unattractive. And what about some makeup?” Jean was on
“Hey, give me a break, one change at a time, please. I’ll give it some thought, I promise. Let me get off this
phone. Call me tomorrow if you’re still bored, maybe we can get into something.”
“Would you consider going shopping, it’s not like you can’t afford it.” Jean persisted.
“I’ll think about it, now get off my case. I love you, too. My tea and my computer are calling. Goodnight,
Jean.” Gloria said sweetly into the receiver and hung up before Jean could go off on another tangent.
Gloria took the hot cup that smelled of sweet cinnamon and nutmeg and went into her study. She donned
her reading glasses, perching them on her nose, and proceeded to boot up. She instinctively went to the
folder that held all of her precious projects that had helped her to become one of the most sought after
graphic designers in the greater Houston area. She looked at the collection for a minute and decided that
she really didn’t feel like working after all. Out of sheer boredom and curiosity, she found herself logging
into the singles site to see if there were any messages for her. To her immense surprise there were over
fifty notes in her in box. With a smile of excitement, she quickly began reading the messages. She didn’t
find one that did anything for her so she began to scroll through the profiles of available men who were on
line when she spotted him. His eyes were so arresting that they had taken her breath away. Never before
had she seen such beautiful and expressive eyes on a man. Though the rest of the picture was just as
gorgeous, she could not help staring at his eyes. They were smoldering and sultry, full of hidden passion.
He looked like someone who should be in the movies, but his profile stated that he was in real estate.
He had described himself as an average looking, fifty year old father of three living in Los Angeles. His
profile stated that he lived with his children, had an athletic build and he loved the Lord. Gloria could not
believe that he was that old since he looked to be no more than mid to late thirties. She passed the profile
up after taking another quick glance. In her books he was much too ‘pretty’ to respond to a message from a
woman all the way in Texas. She looked at the other profiles but could not get this particular one out of her
head. She turned the computer off and decided to call it a night. Ten thirty was a little early to call it a
night, especially on a Friday, but she needed an excuse to ignore the profile that she was sure would lead
to her embarrassment if she sent him a message.