Eyes open wide in astonishment, Andrew surveyed the scene he happened upon in Willowveil’s ballroom.  Monica was waxing about the benefits of a cappuccino bar.  Tess was at the microphone, singing love songs to keep everyone in a festive mood and as practice for her gig as wedding singer.  JenniAnn was hauling around bolts of tulle and silk.  Miriam was arranging flowers, ribbons, and candles as table centerpieces.  Jarrod was counting table cloths to make sure there were enough for the tables that would be in the reception hall.  Lady Beth was passing out samples of various cakes, trying to get a consensus on which was the best.  Jess was buzzing around from group to group, taking notes.  She would be directing the filming of the nuptials and needed to know how every part would figure into the grand scheme.  Then there was Nadia, the bride.  After what had seemed to the Dyelanders a dead-end engagement of four years, Nadia’s fiancé, Miles, had finally consented to a wedding date being set.  And there had been pandemonium ever since.  Andrew chuckled seeing her dash from person to person looking slightly panicked. 

Weddings were a big deal among the Dyelanders.  Nadia’s wedding wasn’t going to take place there but many of the preparations were.  Now there were only two weeks to get everything prepared.  Every single available person was recruited to help.  So, not surprisingly, Andrew felt a tug at his arm.  It was Nadia.

“Andrew!  Good to see you!  Listen do you have time may be to…” Nadia jerked around when she heard a crash behind her. 

“It’s just the candelabra, it’s fine!” Lady JenniAnn shouted, red-faced.

Nadia took a deep breath.  “Would you care to help Gloria make the favors?”

“Sure but… favors?”

“What we’ll give out to our guests.  Thanks, I really appreciate it!”  Nadia led Andrew to a near by table.  Gloria smiled up at him and began enthusiastically instructing him on how to form roses out of chocolate Kisses and colored cellophane. 

“Andrew, I’m glad to have some company.  Did you know that the founder of Hershey’s Company, Milton S. Hershey, nearly went bankrupt!  Of course, then he started a candy business in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and then…”

Andrew focused on his roses and prepared for a very looong evening.

Nadia and Miles sat at her kitchen table in Kansas City.  They were doing another check of the seating arrangements for their reception.  Miles picked up a card and gave a melancholy sigh.

“What is it?” Nadia asked, eyebrow arched.

“Oh well, you know I’ve just been thinking and…  Well, may be it’s too late but…  I shouldn’t even bring it up…” Miles hemmed and hawed.

Nadia flushed with panic.  Was he having second thoughts?  A seemingly endless engagement and now he was having second thoughts?!?  In a split second visions of calling guests to cancel and pitying sighs filled her mind.  “Tell me.”

“It’s just…  I mean, I realize he’s your friend but… it just seems a little grim.”

“What ever are you talking about, Miles?  Just say it!” Nadia demanded, exasperated.

“I’m just not sure I want an angel of death at my wedding is all,” Miles finally spilled out.

“What?!  But we’ve all ready invited Andrew!  I can’t very well take the invite back!”  Nadia was floored by this.  She couldn’t imagine uninviting her friend.  And for a reason like this!  It was cruel!

Miles didn’t relent as she hoped he would.  “Well, can’t you just tell him we had a relative suddenly decide to go and we need the space?”

“Right, I’m going to be mean *and* lie to an angel.  For my wedding.  That’s fantastic karma, Miles!  Why don’t I just call up Reverend Nancy and cuss her out while I’m at it!” The disgruntled bride rolled her eyes and stomped away from the table. 

Miles followed her into the hallway.  “I’m sorry.  I just can’t get over the fact that I’ll be getting married with… with Death sitting yards away!  It creeps me out.  It just does.  I really tried to keep quiet about it and go with it to please you.  But I can’t, Nadia.  I just can’t.  I’m sorry.” 

Nadia began to cry but nodded.

Lady JenniAnn slammed down her phone.  She raced to the refrigerator down in the kitchen.  She yanked out a six pack of ginger ale and put it in a bag.  Then she threw some leftover muffins from that morning’s breakfast, a baguette, some sandwich fixings, and some fresh fruit in.  She lugged it two doors down and was shocked to see a steady stream of her friends entering Andrew’s house.  News sure traveled fast…

The mood of the crowd was somewhere between shock and indignation.  JenniAnn busied herself setting out the refreshments she’d brought and listened to get a better idea of everyone’s sentiments.

“What a lil snot!” Bunny shouted and stomped her foot in emphasis. 

Andrew, seated in his favorite recliner, shook his head.  “I’m sure Nadia has good reasons for this.  Really, I’m okay.  To be honest, I might very well end up with an assignment and been unable to attend the wedding, anyway.”

Lady Beth looked compassionately at Andrew.  “If you want to talk about it, I’m more than willing to listen.”

Andrew smiled at her.  “Thanks, Lady Beth.  Sure, I wish I could be at the wedding but ya know I’m used to it.  Believe it or not, lots of people aren’t comfortable with the angel of death thing.  Miles isn’t the first.”

“Doesn’t make it right, Andrew.  Nadia should have stood up for you,” JenniAnn voiced her opinion as she handed Andrew a ginger ale and plate of food.

“Thanks, JenniAnn,” he smiled appreciatively at her.  “Nadia has enough going on with out turning me into an argument with her soon-to-be-husband.  Really, I understand.”

His stoicism just made JenniAnn feel more sorry for him.  “I’d want you at my wedding,” she told him then looked away.

“As the groom,” someone snickered from behind her.  She blushed and hoped Andrew hadn’t heard.  Bunny was lamenting loudly over him so she guessed not. 

“Go with one of us!” Jess suggested.  “We all got invites that said ‘and guest’, right?”  She looked around at her friends.  All of them nodded.  “Be our guest!”

The angel gave a small smile.  “That’s nice of you but I’m not going to go to a wedding I’m not wanted at.  This is Nadia’s day.  I won’t cause any ill-feeling on it.”

“Then I’m not going,” Bunny insisted and her decree was met by a chorus of “Me neither” and applause.

Andrew stood up and shook his head.  “I’m absolutely not going to support a boycott.  Nadia is your friend, you need to support her.  She’s dreamed about this for years!”

“You’re our friend, too!  And what she did was incredibly rude!  And unjust!  And, I’m sorry, but I never liked Miles,” JenniAnn cried, anxiously twisting her ring around her finger.

“JenniAnn, I appreciate your support, truly I do but… you’re a bridesmaid even and Nadia is gonna need you there,” Andrew tried to persuade her. 

“I’m sure this decision wasn’t an easy one for Nadia.  I agree with Andrew, we need to be with her that day, as her friends,” Lady Beth added.  The group voiced disgust and shook their heads.

“Ladies, please, if you want to help me with this… go.  Go for me.  To support our friend.  Please,” Andrew requested.  He surveyed their faces.  There was sighing and rolling of eyes but each person nodded.  “Good, thank you.”

That next day Andrew was out walking his dog, Lulu.  He had just made it to the Fields of Gold when he heard a cracking twig behind him.  He turned to see Nadia sprinting away.  She turned back and caught his eye.  She knew there was no way to gracefully escape confrontation now and turned back, smiling lamely.

“Hey Andrew,” she greeted, sidling up to him.

“Nadia, good to see you,” he smiled warmly at her despite the awkwardness.

Nadia bent down to scratch Lulu behind the ears.  She spoke to Andrew but looked only at the dog.  “Listen, I’m sorry about canceling your invitation and especially that I just left a message but I’ve been really busy and…”

“I understand.  Really.  As long as you’re happy on your wedding day, that’s all that matters to me, Nadia.”  Andrew looked intently at her, trying to read her tired expression.  Was she only stressed or was there more to it?

Nadia nodded but still wouldn’t make eye contact.  “Thanks.  It’ll be a beautiful day.  And I actually need to get some stuff done so if you’ll excuse me…” 

“Are you happy, Nadia?” Andrew asked, as she turned away.  “Romantic love is supposed to be a blessing and if you’re not happy then may be a commitment like this marr…”

Nadia spun around, eyes blazing.  “Save me the speech, Andrew.  Awful easy for you to talk like that about love.  As if it concerns you.  May be Miles is right!  You are grim and depressing and you’re trying to kill my wedding!”

Andrew stared, aghast, at the irate woman.  “Nadia, I am not trying to kill your wedding!  Nothing would make me happier than to see you or any of our friends contently married, if that's what you want, but you just seem…”

“I seem what, Andrew?  Tell me, O Great Angel,” she mocked.  “What’s wrong with me?  What is wrong with my current romantic life?  I *love* getting advice from someone whose most romantic moment involved getting auctioned off for a few hundred bucks to some doctor for the evening.”

Andrew felt his cheeks burning red.  Lulu was whimpering.  “I wish you and Miles well, Nadia,” was all he said in answer.  Then Nadia ran off.

Later that evening, there was a knock at Andrew’s door.  He answered it and found Miriam and Lady Beth on his doorstep.  Miriam spontaneously hugged him.

“Good evening to you, too, Miriam,” Andrew smiled at her and chuckled.  “And, you too, Lady Beth.  To what do I owe this nice surprise?” he asked, moving out the way and ushering them into his parlor. 

“We spoke to Nadia.  She said she ran into you and cross words were spoken.  She feels bad about that and wanted you to know but she said she couldn’t come see you herself.  We thought you might like someone to talk to,” Lady Beth explained.

Andrew sat down in his favorite chair after the two women were seated.  “It’s always a pleasure to talk to you two.”

“Andrew, are you really okay with everything that's happened?  You can tell us anything, it won’t leave this room.  We promise,” Miriam vowed.

Andrew gave them a small smile.  “You’re both very considerate, thank you.  But really, I’m okay.  Like I said the other day, I’m used to people finding the angel of death gig a little off-putting.  It’s those grim reapers, ya know!” Andrew attempted humor but it fell flat.  “I am sorry I won’t be there for one of the most important days in a friend’s life but…”

Lady Beth looked at him with concern.  “What is it, Andrew?”

“It does worry me that Nadia’s not really happy.  But I could be wrong.  After all, we seldom actually see her with Miles.  It’s hard to tell much about a couple when you only really know one half.  May be Nadia really is just stressed.”

“You think we should pray for her?” Miriam asked.

Andrew’s face lit up at that.  “Prayer is always a good answer.”  So the three said a prayer for their friend Nadia, that she might have peace and happiness and love in her life.  The two women stayed for a while, chatting with Andrew to be sure their friend really was doing well.  When they did leave, Andrew’s heart was lighter.  He knew then that, in his absence, Nadia would still be surrounded by friends who would see her through whatever her wedding day brought.

Five days later, the Dyelanders in the wedding party went to Nadia’s apartment for a final dress check.   When they walked in they couldn’t believe their eyes.  Nadia stood in her living room wearing what had to be the most awful wedding dress anyone had ever laid eyes on.  It was bulky where it should have been form fitting and clingy where it should have flowed.  Worst of all, gaudy fake crystals were sewn about the waist.  Lady JenniAnn burst out laughing.

“That’s hilarious Nadia.  Where’d your real dress go?”

Nadia turned around and smiled sadly.  “This is Miles’ grandmother’s.  She’s unwell and sure I’ll be the last of the family brides she'll see married and she so wants to see someone of our generation wear her wedding dress.  So I agreed…”

“You’ve *got* to be kidding!  Oh Nadia… no…  You are kidding, right?” Jess looked at her hopefully.  She hated to think what the dress would look like with the camera’s extra pounds added!

Nadia shook her head and began sobbing.
“Nadia, you have got to, got to, got to put your foot down.  I’m all for pleasing the grandparents but this is *your* wedding and this…” JenniAnn motioned to the atrocious gown.  “This isn’t you.  Isn’t part of your dream.  And you’ve all ready compromised enough.”

Nadia’s eyes flashed with anger.  “If I hear one more person ranting about Andrew I’m gonna scream.  Don’t you dare…”

“Well, then you’re going to have to scream because I have to say this," Bunny cried.  Andrew told everyone to support you, said we had to because you’ve dreamed about this for years.  But JenniAnn’s right, it’s not your dream any more, Nadia.  It’s been commandeered!” 

“I just want to get married!” Nadia sobbed.  “I’m okay with everything.  Really.  Please, let’s just everyone make sure the dresses fit.  Please.”  Then she flung the tears from her face and tried to muster a smile.

Back from Kansas City, the bridal party sans bride met up at Monica’s Café to eat and relax following their stressful afternoon.  Unbeknownst to them, Adam and Andrew were two booths away sipping ginger ales and snacking on deep-fried mushrooms, curly fries, and buffalo wings.  They couldn’t help but overhear the conversation.

Adam shook his head.  “Sounds like things are really going downhill with that.”

“Yeah,” Andrew answered lamely and spent an inordinate amount of time making sure his buffalo wing was perfectly and evenly covered in ranch dressing.

Adam smirked.  “You missed a spot,” he joked but then grew serious.  “I heard about the withdrawn invitation.  Sorry.”

Andrew shrugged.  “Ya know, it wouldn’t bug me at all if I didn’t think it wasn’t all part of a bigger problem.  I don’t think that relationship is an entirely healthy one, Adam.”

“Did you tell Nadia?”

Andrew nodded.

“I see.  Free will… bane of our existence sometimes.  Listen, I hate to leave now,” Adam looked up then and smiled, Jess had seen the two angels and was approaching.  “But looks like I’m not leaving you alone so I’ll see you soon, Andrew.  Things will work out.”  Adam patted his shoulder then left.  As he did, Andrew saw Jess.

“How about some fishing?” she asked.

Andrew picked up the rest of the food and trash and nodded.  “Jess, that’d be really great.  Thanks.”  Then the two left the Café and headed to Lazy Lake.   

Andrew released his fifth fish of the evening back into the lake.

“Good catch,” Jess congratulated.  “And release.”

Andrew grinned.  “It’s best that way.” 

Jess nodded.  There were a few moments of silence then as they waited for the next pull on their fishing poles and admired the reflection of the dusk sky in the water.  Finally, Andrew spoke.

“So how was the dress fitting?”

Jess shook her head and exhaled raggedly.  “You don’t want to know.” 

“That bad, huh?”

“Oh yeah, and Nadia… she was all over the place emotionally.  I suppose it’s to be expected with the stress of all the planning.”

Andrew sighed and ran his hand through his hair.

“You okay, Andrew?”

“I just hope everything’s okay is all,” he replied.

“Yeah, me too.”  Jess grinned wickedly then.  “I’m not at all sorry you’ll miss us in our bridesmaid dresses but still… wish you could be there.  I’ll steal some mints for you.”

Andrew chuckled at that.  “Thanks.  Oh, hey looks like you got something there,” he added, indicating her bobber bouncing up and down on the lake’s surface.

Jess beamed proudly then pulled the fish up.  As always, she released it and they watched the fish swim away.

It was Valentine’s Day.  The previous night the Dyelanders had all gone to a Kansas City hotel where they’d reserved several rooms.  Even Andrew.  Since he’d requested the day off, he’d got it.  And when a few of the ladies had volunteered to stay behind and keep him company in Dyeland he’d decided it was best to go as planned and make sure they went to the wedding.  Besides, before he’d been uninvited he’d agreed to be the designated driver.  So he had to be there to pick everyone up after the reception, using one of Dyeland’s buses.  After he saw his friends off, Andrew also left the hotel and drove off in the bus.  There were a few museums and landmarks he thought he’d fill his time visiting.  He was driving from the Vietnam Veterans Fountain to a jazz club when he heard noise behind him.  He paid it no mind, knowing the bus was empty and not wanting to take his eyes off the road. 

“So that’s where the mall is!” a voice sounded. 

Andrew’s heart leapt into his throat and he turned around quickly.  “JenniAnn!  What are you doing here?  How did you…”

“Come on now, it’s only fair one of us surprise one of you for a change with a sudden appearance.  And I’m not even glowing.  Far less shocking,” she answered coyly.

Even the conscientious driver couldn’t resist a second look back at her to check something he thought he’d seen but couldn’t quite believe.  He could have sworn she was wearing something yellow and poufy and involving feathers.  Truth be told, at first he’d thought she was Big Bird.  “Oh, Lady…” he burst into laughter.

“Not a word, Andrew.  Not a bloody word.  Miles’ sister just thought it would be oh-so-special if she made the bridesmaid dresses.  If you tell *anyone* not involved with the wedding about this then…  well, let’s just say while Tess was very keen on trying to help me ‘get over Angel Boy’ she’s also very fond of bragging about you.  And she told the most adorable story about you and parachute pants…  and I saw photos…  I have copies of said photos…  Hammer Time!” JenniAnn grinned from ear to ear as she teased the poor angel who was growing more red by the moment. 

Andrew finally shook off the memory and responded.  “Fine, I tell no one about your Sesame-inspired dress, you just uh… keep the parachute pants to yourself, huh?”

“Agreed!  Now… did I mention Miles’ sister is a sociopath?  I mean who else could dream something like this up…  Well, other than whomever dreamed up that rag Nadia is wearing,” JenniAnn groaned.  “Andrew, you have got to stop that wedding.  Nadia’s dream has been sabotaged, she’s miserable but she’s too proud to call it off and Miles is just letting his family run rampant!  I don’t think they even really love each other any more.  They’ve been together for seven years and Nadia must feel it's too late to back out.”
Andrew shook his head.  “It’s not my place.  But if you feel that strongly, why didn’t you speak to her?”

JenniAnn clucked her tongue.  “I did!  But, in case you haven’t noticed, people aren’t exactly lining up for my advice on romance.  It’s not exactly my forte.”

“And it’s mine, ya think?”

“Well no… but everyone respects you and thinks you’re wise and… please, Andrew.  If you talk to her I know…”

“Lady, I tried to talk to her.  She brushed me off,” he recalled that moment in the Fields with some discomfort and sadness.

“Cause she felt guilty cause Miles forced her to uninvite you!  Please Andrew, if you turn right three blocks down we can get to the garden in minutes and stop this!”

“JenniAnn, I’m not crashing a wedding!  And how did you say you got on this bus, anyway?”  Andrew’s brow furrowed.

“Cliff is teaching some of us to teleport.  But don’t think I’m letting you change the subject.  Please Andrew…  She really is miserable.  She just wants an excuse.”

Andrew shook his head.

“Andrew!  I’m begging you!  For the sake of our friend’s future happiness and… and… the sanctity of true love!” JenniAnn pleaded.  “Andrew, turn here!  Andrew, turn NOW!”

Andrew kept going straight.  “Go, JenniAnn, stand up with Nadia.  I’ll see you later after the reception.”

Devastated, JenniAnn sunk back against the seat.

“Okay, the only way these get-ups are gonna make sense is if we go out there and Bert and Ernie are officiating this wedding,” Bunny joked archly as she and the bridesmaids, save JenniAnn who was still working on their planned last-minute intervention, stood in front of the mirror trying to look as presentable as possible.

“And Cookie Monster is catering,” Jess continued the joke. 

“And the bride and groom ride down the aisle on Snuffy,” Nadia’s sister Naomi added.  She was most upset by her sister’s horrid wedding and desperate to find any humor in it she could.

Just then Nadia stepped out of the restroom.  “Well, how do I look?”

Naomi about burst into tears upon seeing her downcast baby sister but forced a smile.  “You look lovely,” she answered, fully meaning it despite the garish dress.  Nadia hugged her and then surveyed her friends.  She looked puzzled.  “Where’s JenniAnn?”

Everyone shuffled uncomfortably.  “She’s uh…”

Before Jess could answer there was an urgent knock on the door. 

“Come in!” Nadia called. 

Nadia’s father stepped in.  “Hey, sweetie, your brother doesn’t happen to be in here is he?”

Nadia looked stricken.  “Why would Nicholas be here?  Dad, what’s wrong?”

“Well, see we can’t find Nicholas.”

All the color went out of Nadia’s face.  “So you’re all telling me that my wedding is set to start and my brother, a groomsman, and one of my bridesmaids are missing?!”

“Well, on the bright side if a groomsman is missing also then you’re back to an equal number in both parties,” Gloria reasoned as she handed out everyone’s bouquets. 

Nadia groaned.

Jarrod came to the door then.  “Hi.  Wow, everyone looks… great…”

“Liar,” Bunny said under her breath and grinned at him.

He shot her a warning look and ignored the comment.  “You ready?  The reverend can’t wait, she’s got another wedding across town at 1:30.”

The bride put her face in her hands and took a deep breath.  “Yes, fine.  Let’s go.  Too bad for JenniAnn and my no-good brother!”  She then took her father’s arm and headed out, everyone trailing her.

“Aren’t JenniAnn and Andrew here yet?” Jarrod asked Lady Beth as she passed him.

Lady Beth shook her head gravely.  “I guess this wedding’s going to happen after all.”

Jarrod nodded glumly and after the last person exited the room, shut the door, and followed the subdued little parade to the garden.

“Stay seated and hold on, Lady,” Andrew called back to JenniAnn who was still sulking.  

“What the…. AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!” JenniAnn screamed as Andrew turned a corner sharply.  “Are you trying to kill me???  Cause I don’t think it should count if an angel of death causes my death!  Where are we going???”

“To crash a wedding!  That’s what you wanted, right?” Andrew grinned back at her through the rear view mirror.  With her skin now slightly green the bright yellow dress looked even worse.

“Yes!  But why didn’t you make the turn when I told you to?  When it didn’t involve speeding?” she demanded.

Andrew shrugged as he made another prompt turn.  “I didn’t get the call until after we passed it.”

JenniAnn screamed again.  “Good gosh, Andrew.  Here I was thinking this day would be like something out of a romantic comedy and you’ve gone and turned it into ‘Speed’!  Wait, what do you mean call?  Is this an assignment now?”

Andrew nodded.  JenniAnn was dumbstruck and simply sat until he stopped the bus near the entrance to the botanical gardens. 

“Come on!” he encouraged her as he bolted from his seat and opened the door.  “Wait, what are you…  JenniAnn, what’s that?”

JenniAnn, slightly wobbly, pulled a boom box from under the seat in front of her.  “For you to hold over your head while you stop the wedding.  Ya know, kinda like John Cusack in ‘Say Anything,’” she explained as she followed him out of the bus.  They spoke as they hurried along to the main garden.

“JenniAnn, I am not holding a boom box over my head.”

“After what you just put me through, I’m getting my rom-com someway or another, mister!  Even if *I* have to hold it over your head.” 

Andrew smiled devilishly.  “I’m afraid you’ll need a step stool for that, Lady.”

JenniAnn groaned but then laughed.  “Fine, I’ll be holding it behind your head.” 

They grew quiet then as the wedding came into view.  The two began to sprint across the lawn.

“If anyone has any reason why these two should not be joined together, speak now or forever hold your peace,” Reverend Nancy recited.  She was about to hurry along, after all people seldom objected.  But then a murmur started through the crowd.

“I object,” Andrew’s even voice sounded.

“Umm… on what grounds?” the reverend asked.

“I, uh…”  It suddenly occurred to Andrew that despite a very clear order to go and stop the wedding, he had no idea what to say!  While he tried to brainstorm an answer, JenniAnn began playing “I Will Walk with You.” 

Miles was fuming.  “I object to his objection!  He’s not even human!  He can’t object!”  He then started down the aisle towards Andrew but was quickly held back by the entire contingent of bridesmaids while Nadia looked on, aghast.

“I object because…” Andrew started.

“I object!!!” a voice bellowed from behind him.  Andrew turned around and breathed a sigh of relief.  Everyone, human and angel, turned around to see a weary-looking, dark-haired man with Nadia’s brother, Nicholas, a few steps behind him. 

“It seems we now have two objections.  Let’s hear the blonde gentleman out since he was here first,” Nancy suggested.

Andrew shook his head.  “Actually, my work is done.”  He turned to JenniAnn, turned the CD player off, and took a seat, guiding her to the chair next to his.

“Nicholas, what is going on?” Nadia demanded of her brother, stomping down the aisle towards him.

“Well, sis, we were going to tell you this before the wedding but first the stupid car wouldn’t start and then we got stuck in a traffic jam.  Thank God Andrew stalled the ceremony for a bit else Danny here would have missed his chance.  Danny?” Nicholas gave his roommate an encouraging glance.

Danny faced Nadia whose face softened when her gaze shifted from Nicholas to Danny, her first love.  “First of all, I’m a coward.  I should have told you before but… I still love you, Nadia.  I wish I'd never left Kansas after school.  Never left you.  When I got back I still loved you.  But… but you were engaged to Miles by then and I didn’t want to taint your happiness.  Then Nicholas told me about how messed up your wedding was and how he wouldn’t let you invite Andrew and how you just didn’t seem happy and I… I thought may be those were signs that I was supposed to speak up.  And I was so, so worried when we just couldn’t seem to get here.  And I prayed to God that by some chance, even though we were late, there would still be time.  And then there was Andrew…” Danny smiled at the angel gratefully.  “And there was time.  So, Nadia, just know that I love you and if you want me to leave right now I will.  And I wish you and Miles the best.  But just know, he’s not the only one who would love to spend the rest of his life with you.” 

Nadia stared unblinking at Danny.  Then she looked at Miles who was casting Andrew the evil eye.  And she looked at her bridesmaids in their yellow monstrosities and her own horrible, ill-conceived gown.  Slowly she began to smile and took Danny’s hand.  Not turning from him she called, “Girls, let Miles go and go change then get in the bus.  Andrew, will you drive?”

“Sure thing,” the beaming angel answered. 

Nadia faced the crowd of guests.  Her family and friends were all grinning from ear to ear.  Miles’ family, of course, was not.  She did feel sorry for them, even if they had poor fashion sense and had raised a selfish brat of a man.  “Uh, sorry but there won’t be a wedding today.  Thanks for your time, though.”  Then she turned back to Danny.  “Will you wait for me in the bus?  We need to talk.”

Danny was bursting with relief and happiness and could only nod.  He followed Andrew, the other angels, Nicholas, and Jarrod to the bus.  Nadia and the other women all returned to the room in the Guest Services building that had served as their dressing room.  They changed back into their own clothes, leaving the ill-fated Sesame Street-ish gowns behind them.  Then they piled into the bus, too, and everyone had a merry time as Andrew drove to the nearest quiet bit of highway.  Had anyone been around, they would have seen the bus disappear as it entered Dyeland.

There was a huge celebration that night in Dyeland.  Thankfully Lady Beth and her fellows cooks and bakers hadn’t yet transferred the wedding victuals to Kansas before the ceremony.  So, after sending some to the out-of-town guests there, they dined on the rest in the Willowveil ballroom.  After dinner, Tess and Adam took to the stage area and took turns singing.  Once they needed a break, various Dyelanders got up for a little karaoke.  Miriam started them off with “The Rose” which she, naturally, dedicated to Andrew.  Everyone looked proudly at him, especially Nadia who had thanked him profusely and apologized for her unkind words to him earlier.  When it came time to part, everyone made a point of wishing Andrew good night.  He had, after all, been the day’s hero.

Danny and Nadia ambled up to him first.  “Andrew, I promise whenever I really get married… you’ll be the first to know.  And the first invited,” Nadia beamed and hugged him.

“Thanks, Andrew, with out you…  I’d be a very sorry man tonight,” Danny added and shook his hand.

Andrew responded humbly.  “It was a pleasure.  And even kinda fun.  I wish you both all the best.”  Then he watched the two walk off into the moonlight together, hand in hand.

Lady JenniAnn was next to bid him good night before she headed upstairs to her room.  “Happy Valentine’s Day, Andrew.  I’m really glad you did what you did.  Even if I will most likely go prematurely gray from fright.  Who knew you had a lead foot?” she joked. 

Andrew blushed.  “How about we not tell anyone about that?”

“Ah, like the parachute pants?”

“Exactly,” he grinned. 

JenniAnn laughed.  “Good night, Andrew.  Good job today.”  Then she headed upstairs.

Jess stepped up to the angel and took his right hand, pressed something into it, and closed his fingers around it.

“Jess, what…”

Jess just smiled.  “Things may not have turned out like we thought today but I do keep my promises.  Enjoy!”  Then she trotted off and headed to Lazy Lake.

Andrew laughed when he opened his hand and found a small bag of wedding mints.  When he looked up, Lady Beth and Miriam were beside him. 

Miriam sighed contentedly.  “Looks like our prayer was granted.  Nadia looked truly happy this evening.”

“Yeah, she did.  Danny, too,” Andrew agreed heartily.  “Thanks to both of you for all your support.  And Lady Beth, the cake was delicious.”

Lady Beth was pleased with the compliment and it showed.  “I’m glad you enjoyed it.  And that we didn’t have to sneak you a piece.”

Andrew laughed.  “Me too.” 

They both hugged him good night then and after he bid everyone else good night, Andrew turned to leave and head back to his house two doors down.  But the sound of a guitar rift and the clanging of a bell stopped him.  Bewildered, he turned back to the darkened ballroom and saw the stage was alight.  Adam and Henry stood atop it and looked expectantly at him.

“What do you say the old band fits in a little practice before the night is over?” Adam suggested, strumming his guitar.

Andrew couldn’t resist and got up on the stage and took his place behind the drums. 

“1... 2... 1... 2... 3...” Henry counted out then they started up. 

“All our times have come.  Here but now they're gone.  Seasons don't fear the reaper.  Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain.  We can be like they are.  Come on baby...don't fear the reaper,” they sang as Monica, Tess, and Gloria looked on and cheered.


The AOD band's lyrics are, of course, from the Blue Öyster Cult’s song “Don’t Fear the Reaper” which was written by Donald Roeser.

Special thanks to Jess, Liz, Miriam, Karen, and Jarrod for letting me borrow their characters.

As always, this issue couldn't have been written with out the team of actors, writers, directors, etc. from "Touched by an Angel."  Their talent has enabled these beloved characters to live on.

Finally, thanks to John Cusack.  :-)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Was that just way too sweet for you?  May wanna head over to JABB's Sour Valentine's issue to get over that!

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