It was 6:45 pm, and as usual Jon Quest had not left the office.
He was the President and CEO of a large, diversified media
and consumer goods company, which owned television, radio
and cable stations, and several daily newspapers. In addition,
Jon’s company produced movies, short films, and television sitcoms,
owned several restaurants, and manufactured its own line
of packaged foods.
Though his job kept him busy, Jon also remained involved in
the community, his church, and more importantly, the lives of
his children and wife.
Jon rubbed the bridge of his nose as he leaned back in his
oversized high-back Italian leather executive chair. He had been
poring over the financials of a potential corporate acquisition
involving several radio stations in the mid-west.
Oblivious to the time, Jon voice-dialed Vivian Morgan, the
M&A vice president working on the deal and the one who submitted
the financials to Jon.
“Hey, Vivian, I am reviewing the financials on this deal and
something is not making sense to me. I want to sit down with
you and the rest of the team later this week and go over it, line
by line, if necessary, until it clicks for me. This is a great opportunity,
but I don’t want to get over our skis on this one.”
As Jon spoke, he was looking out of his seventh-floor window.
The sky was a beautiful shade of amber and was littered
with bleached, wispy clouds. The sun was lazily melting
over the horizon, signaling the onset of yet another chilly fall
How romantic, he thought, completely zoning out on Vivian’s
Jon’s phone beeped, signaling an incoming call. Jon looked
down at the caller ID on the phone console, which was sitting
on his desk.
Jon gasped as the name “Lexie” appeared on his display.
“Hey, Vivian, hang on a second, I have another call coming
in that I have to answer.”
“No problem,” remarked Vivian.
“Hello, my beautiful angel,” said Jon with a big grin.
“Jon Quest, why are you still at the office? You know tonight
is our night to host the family dinner! I was expecting you home
early. I reminded you this morning.”
“Oh my God, Lexie! I totally forgot! Okay, I’m leaving right
now! I’ll be home in 15 minutes!”
“I will, baby! I’m on my way!”
Jon clicked back over to Vivian.
“Vivian, I have to go. I am late for my monthly family dinner,
which I am hosting tonight! Call Deborah in the morning
and have her put you on my schedule for later this week.”
Jon swirled around in his chair and noticed Jessica standing
in his office doorway. Jessica was the night cleaning lady and
was used to seeing Jon in the office after hours. She would often
come by between 6:30 and 6:45 pm to signal Jon that he’d better
either call his wife or pack it up and go home.
Jon was grateful Lexie called him, even if she was not exactly
ecstatic to find him still in the office.
One day a month, the entire Quest family broke bread
together. Each month they alternated homes where they gathered.
This month, the family was coming to his home, and his
wife, Lexie, had already warned him not to be late. The tradition
was started by Jon’s mother because everyone was so busy with
their careers and businesses, and “we may rarely see each other
and take time to sit together”. Though they regularly saw each
other on Sundays at church, they were not always able to spend
quality time, catching up on each other’s lives, after the services
were over. Jon’s mother often lamented that living next to one
another was not a substitute for being a family. “Being a family,”
she often said, “meant spending quality time together, knowing
each other, and knowing what is going on in each other’s lives”.
He glanced at the clock on his desk, wincing as he realized
the lateness of the hour.
Oh boy, he thought, I am in trouble.
Jon looked at Jessica and mouthed the words “good night.”
She smiled and nodded knowingly as she went on her way.
Jon placed the phone receiver into the cradle and watched as
it automatically retreated into the top of his black marble desk.
He stood up, stretched, and began clearing his desk. He placed
his date book and several stacks of papers into his black alligator
Lederer de Paris attaché case and snapped it shut. Jon scanned
his desktop and deemed it once again neat and tidy. He hurried
across his office and removed his jacket from the closet and
slipped it on.
As he walked back to retrieve his attaché case, he scanned his
entire office to ensure everything was in its place. Neatness was
not only something he enjoyed, but he also needed the sense of
calm and control it provided.
Jon loved his office. His large corner office was tastefully
decorated and had the most spectacular view of both the city
and the shoreline.
Jon personally supervised the layout, design, and decoration
of his office. He wanted to ensure his office had a positive
energy and spirit while speaking directly to Jon’s unique personality.
Though he was not one to micromanage, in this case, it
was necessary and as a result, he really loved the look and feel of
The decor was contemporary and masculine. The furniture
was black with gold accents, the walls were tastefully covered
with limited-edition African-American art, and the accessories
were handpicked based on specific interests and matters of
import to Jon.
Aside from his bedroom and enclosed back deck at his home,
Jon’s office was one of his favorite places.
Jon picked up his attaché case and walked toward the frosted-
glass French doors, stopped, turned around, and made a final
visual inspection of his office. It was a habit he had picked up
from his time in the military. Everything had to be in its proper
As Jon rushed down the hallway, he thought about how
much he loved his job and his company. Jon could find many
reasons to be away from home 24/7, if his wife would permit it.
A smile crossed his face as he thought of Lexie’s reaction should
he even think about not spending quality time with her and the
kids. Remembering just how late he was, he passed up the elevator
and opted for the stairs.
I hope Lexie’s not too mad, he thought.
As Jon hurried through the lobby, he paused long enough
to yell goodbye to Mark, the security officer seated at the large
half-moon-shaped security desk, which was in the middle of the
“Hey, Mark, I’m out of here!”
Mark gave him a thumbs-up.
“In trouble again, aren’t you Mr. Quest?” Mark said jokingly.
“Yeah, but what would Lexie ever do if I acted right? But I
guess I don’t need to push my luck, huh? See you tomorrow.”
“Yes, sir. Same time tomorrow?”
“Let’s hope not!”
Jon hurried through the doors and looked down at his watch
as he headed toward his car.
As the CEO, one of his many executive privileges included
reserved parking. Jon had a reserved spot right in the front, which
was a perk Jon could truly appreciate on a night like tonight.
Jon reached for the door handle and heard the doors unlock.
He opened the door of his brown and bronze Audi R8, tossed
his attaché case and jacket onto the passenger seat, and slid into
its driver’s seat. He pressed the button on the console and smiled
as it rumbled to life. He adjusted the volume of his music until it
played loudly enough for the people in the next zip code to hear.
Jon sped out of the parking lot and turned onto the street,
heading for the freeway. As Jon turned onto the freeway, he
thought about calling Lexie to confirm his ETA, but then he
thought better of the idea. He was already late; no use getting
fussed at twice.
Jon, conscious he was late, pressed harder on the accelerator,
though he was already exceeding the speed limit. Driving in the
far-left lane on the expressway, he tried to make up for working
late. Fifteen minutes later, he exited the expressway and barely
slowed as he made a hard right.
Corners like she’s on rails, he thought.
A few minutes later, Jon was sitting at the entrance of Quest
Estates, which featured a huge set of wrought-iron automatic
gates with the letters “Q” and “E” on the left and right gates,
Quest Estates was several hundred acres and included four
mansions, one guest house, one recreational facility, a private
lake, horse stables, and a nine-hole golf course.
Jon reached over and pushed a button on his dashboard.
The gates slid silently and slowly apart. Jon pressed hard on the
accelerator and was thrown back into his seat as the R8 sped
down the long main drive. He usually made a point of driving
slowly when he entered Quest Estates so he could appreciate the
landscaping and picturesque scenery. However, tonight, he just
wanted to get home!
As he drove along, Jon noticed the herd of horses as they
stood in the field grazing. Jon’s horse, Lucky, was easy to spot
as she was a honey-bronze color with a thick brown mane. Jon
loved riding Lucky, though he was not able to ride as often as he
wanted. Riding his horse was one of the few activities that really
relaxed him and took his mind off work and problems. Jon also
noticed Lexie’s horse, Paso, grazing nearby in the field. They first
saw Paso during a trip to Curacao, two years earlier. Lexie fell in
love with the beautiful animal and purchased it during their trip.
After about half a mile, Jon approached the first mansion.
It belonged to his youngest sister, Joyell. She was five years
younger than Jon and quite a bit different. She was 5’6”, darkskinned,
plus-size curvy, and full of energy. She loved to dance
and enjoyed going out. She was married to a Marcus, a forensic
psychiatrist, who was amiable and laid-back. Jon liked him and
felt that he was good for Joyell. The couple had three daughters.
Joyell was a criminal law professor at a local university. There
was no doubt Joyell found her niche in that role. Joyell ambled
through life until she happened upon juvenile criminal justice
and was hooked. She graduated with a dual JD–MBA, then continued
to secure a doctorate degree in juvenile criminal justice.
She was a highly sought-after expert witness for many high-profile
legal cases and had written a number of books on the topic.
She had a way with seeing what others could not. She was often
able to get “into the heads” of juveniles in a way that was determinative
for treatment and case resolution.
Joyell drove a maroon Maserati Quattroporte, which she
always parked in the middle of their circular drive. The fact that
it was not there meant she was working late, like Jon, or at his
house keeping everyone entertained, with her wonderful sense of
humor, until her “Big Bro” arrived.
Up the road, about a half-mile or so, was the mansion of
his older sister, Bernice. Bernice was eighteen months older
than Jon. Bernice was 5’3”, light-skinned, and a bit of a recluse.
Unlike Joyell, she rarely went out, instead favoring an evening
at home with family or at the JAM Center doing arts and crafts
with her nieces and nephews. After studying theatre in Europe,
earning a PhD in Critical Studies, then enjoying a number of
years in front of the camera, Bernice now spent her time behind
the camera producing, directing, and writing movies and television
sitcoms. Bernice’s husband, Angelo, a maxillofacial surgeon,
was pleasant and gregarious. The two had four daughters.
Directly across from Bernice’s mansion sat the recreation
center. The three-story building housed a full basketball court,
four racquetball courts, three tennis courts, an Olympic-size
swimming pool, a large free weight and nautilus room, an aerobics
and dance studio, a 1.5-mile jogging track, a movie theater,
a video arcade, a game room with pool tables, a steam and sauna
room, a five-lane bowling center, and a children’s play area. Jon’s
children—two boys and two girls—would meet Bernice’s and
Joyell’s children at the recreation center every evening after they
finished homework to play games, shoot pool, or work out. The
center was named the Josephine-Addie Memorial Center, after
Jon’s two grandmothers, and was referred to by the family as the
At the end of the road, was the “Master Mansion”, the residence
of Jon’s parents, Jon Sr., and Kathy. Jon Sr. and Kathy,
business magnates, were enjoying the fruits of years of hard work
in the fashion and home furnishings industries. When they were
not jetting all over the world purchasing new clothing lines or
inspecting their several manufacturing facilities, they spent their
time on Quest Estates hanging out with their grandchildren.
Jon turned into his drive and proceeded to the rear of the
house, where the five-car garage and guest parking spaces were
located. As he came around the corner, he saw all his family’s
Uh-oh, he thought, here we go.
Jon pulled into the first available spot, turned off the engine,
and quickly grabbed his attaché case, and jacket. As he collected
his belongings, the side door opened, and Lexie stood quietly
glaring at him.
No use in rushing now, Jon thought as he headed toward the
door. Lexie met him before he made it halfway up the sidewalk.
“Hey, babe,” Jon said as he leaned in to kiss his wife.
“Uh huh,” said Lexie as she held up her hand and turned her
face away. “You know I reminded you this morning! Really, Jon?”
“I know, honey, but—”
“Don’t ‘but, honey’ me. This is just the same story, different
day. Just hurry up and change. Everyone is in the study waiting
Jon rushed into the house and walked toward the study. He
stopped long enough to say hello, apologize for being late, and
promise to return from upstairs soon. Jon’s two sisters, their husbands,
and his mom and dad were in the study drinking coffee
as they talked. As Jon exited and headed upstairs, Lexie entered
the study. As she entered, he heard her apologizing to the others
on his behalf.
What a woman! he thought.
He truly appreciated and loved his wife. They had been
married twelve years and she was his best friend. There were
so many things that had attracted Jon to her when they met.
Not only was she stunningly attractive (FINE was the word he
had often used), but she was also extremely intelligent, articulate,
sassy, and a godly woman.
Lexie was just the kind of woman he had wanted and needed.
Physically, she was extremely appealing. She was 5’5” with the
most beautiful, smooth cocoa-toned skin. She was slender and
curvy with bright eyes. She was gregarious, warm, caring, genuine,
and never met strangers. She was a hugger and had a light
that shone around her, drawing people to her like moths to a
flame. Professionally. Lexie was an insurance executive and entrepreneur.
Lexie was the CEO of an insurance company. In fact,
she was the only female, Black CEO of a major insurance company.
When they first met, Jon was immediately impressed with
her sophistication, business acumen, and professional achievements.
Aside from being the CEO of a major insurance company,
Lexie also owned a string of water ice restaurants in several
states, something she repeatedly shared with Jon was a dream
of hers. Jon had no idea how she managed to do all she did,
but her ability to do so was impressive. Spiritually she was one
who allowed the light of Christ to shine through her as opposed
to being one of those types that are hypocritical. Lexie was a
woman who believed in prayer, in a relationship with Christ, and
in allowing that relationship to make her a better, kinder, more
Lexie was perfect, to and for, Jon. It was as if when God
made her He was thinking about Jon. She was everything Jon
ever wanted, all the way down to her sorority! Jon especially treasured
the alone time they spent together just talking. They often
sat for hours on the screened-in deck talking about everything
and nothing. Jon often wished every married couple experienced
the same compatibility, satisfaction, and happiness.
Where was she twenty years ago? he thought as he rushed down
the stairs. As Jon entered the study, Bernice was the first to turn
“Well, it’s about time!”
“Sorry, just one of those days.”
“Oh, and I guess you’re the only one who has those?”
Jon walked over to Lexie and kissed her on the forehead.
“Hey, Dad . . . Mom,” Jon said as he crossed to his mother
and kissed her on the cheek.
“What?” replied Kathy, having been engrossed in Joyell’s latest
Jon’s mother was an amazing woman. She had built her company
from the ground up and it had been a vision in her mind
for over twenty-five years before it actually became a reality. She
was a genius. She built a wildly successful company from the
bottom up and still found time to raise a family and be a wife.
She was a distinguished, sophisticated, and attractive woman.
She was spunky, sassy, and energetic, but above all else, she was
Jon’s dad, a military veteran, was no-nonsense. He was often
quiet, carefully picking when and where to speak. The man was
as wise as an owl. Jon Sr. was notably just as much behind his
only son as anyone. He, too, had been there for him through
the years. Jon Sr. had truly shown Jon how the love of a father
“So, Jon, are we eating tonight?” asked Joyell.
Jon glanced at his younger sister, smiled, then walked over
and kissed her on the forehead.
“Excuse me, Mr. Quest? Would you care for coffee, sir?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, I would,” Jon said as Kati, one of
their maids, handed him a coffee cup and saucer.
“Two lumps as usual, sir?”
“I’m so predictable!”
Jon sipped his coffee and looked around the study at the
members of his family. He hated being late. He hated having
everyone waiting on him.
“So, how was your day?” asked Kathy.
“I’m sorry, Mom, it has been a crazy day. As you know, we
have the opportunity to purchase a radio station in—”
“Oh no, not more meetings and briefings!” interrupted
Bernice. “Can we at least eat before we start with the briefings?”
Jon looked at Bernice with a scowl. She scowled back.
“Bernice, look—” began Jon, but was interrupted by the dinner
“Dinner is served,” announced Kati from the doorway of the
Everyone gathered themselves and moved toward the dining
room. Jon placed his cup and saucer onto the end table and
glanced at the mantle above. As he did, something caught his
eye. It was not the myriad awards, plaques, citations, or certificates.
It was something else. Something he had seen millions of
times before. Something that had caused pain and pleasure, sadness
and joy, fear and anticipation, and regret and reward. As he
looked at his college degree, splendidly displayed on his awards
wall, his eyes focused on the date. Twenty years ago today . . .
Jon’s flashed back to a place, long ago and far away. There, he
heard yelling, screaming, running, shouting. . .
“You shithead! You better roll your shoulders back!”
“I hate you, toad!”
“You better rack your chin in!”
“Drop and give me fifteen!”
Jon snapped back to the present as he felt someone tugging
at his sleeve.
Jon looked down at his five-year-old son, Kristian.
“Daddy, Mommy told me to come and get you. She said,
‘don’t let me have to come and get him myself.’”
“Okay, I’m coming right now.”
“Why are you always staring at that one big piece of paper
on the wall?”
Jon looked down at his son, grabbed his hand, and headed
toward the dining room.
“Well, son, I guess it’s because of how difficult that one piece
of paper was for me to get. A huge price came along with that
piece of paper.”
“So, what? I thought we were rich?”
Jon smiled at his son who was the spitting image of himself.
“No, son, your mother and I are rich. You and your brother
and sisters are poor, unemployed, and broke. But I don’t mean
that kind of a price.”
“Well what kind then?”
“Well, son . . .”
Jon’s mind faded back to his freshman year at the Military
University of The South.