cannot rise above,
I cannot rest beneath,
I cannot find out love,
Or escape from death;
Dear hopes and joys gone by
Still mock me with a name;
My best beloved die,
And I cannot die with them."
~ from Christina Rossetti's poem "Uplifting of Eyes"
Wow... So I started this
newsletter/story so long ago (in August 2006, apparently, with a
working title of "The Furies") that by the time I finished it I had
to change some characters' names in the first couple scenes because the
original characters aren't active any more. I can't even really
give you a good reason why this kept getting delayed. The timing
was just never right. But now I hope it is. This is probly
the darkest, most unsettling story I've ever used as a newsletter
before (the Author's
Cut has some doozies, of course). There are
questions that are left unanswered which is different for me. I
usually like to tie things up. But for some of the questions
there are no answers and for others, well, the bonus of having a
biweekly newsletter that is now almost entirely dependent on a
fictional world for its inspiration is that you can have story arcs
that sweep across several newsletters. Yay!
Anyhow, I hope you enjoy. I
reintroduce some of the characters from the story in JABB 185
here. However, if you've not read that story I don't think you
necessarily need to before reading this. Just a heads up.
And some credits... This
story would not have been possible without the characters created by
the folks at the JABB YG.
So thanks to them. And to the
TBAA people, as always. And also the following substances without
which this wouldn't have been completed: chai tea, green tea, Diet Code
Red Mountain Dew, coffee, Tylenol, hot chocolate, normal chocolate,
cranberry tea, some other tea that I'm not sure how I obtained it or
even what it was but it was good and apparently caffeinated.
Just a reminder that the Dye Day chats are on Friday January 30th at 7 PM Central
January 31st at noon Central at http://onthisside.net/jabbchatroom.html. Please let me know if you plan
to attend. Thanks.
Sunday, January 18th
As the sun set, several of the Dyelanders were sitting in front of
Willowveil Castle. Andrew had begun a lengthy assignment shortly
after Christmas. While he had still been able to spend some time
in Dyeland, he had been absent for much of the previous week.
Now, however, the assignment had ended and his friends were waiting for
his arrival.. Ever hoping to have a reason to party, the group
had decided to take him to Monica’s Café for a celebratory
dessert buffet so they could catch up. They had all agreed to
meet on the Willowveil porch and walk to the Café as a group in
order to enjoy the unseasonably warm Sunday evening.
Lady JenniAnn sat on the porch swing. She occasionally glanced at
Serendipity two doors down then at her pocket watch. 8:30, 8:35,
8:37, and so on. It was a quarter til nine at her most recent
check. None of this would have been troubling if she waited on
anyone but Andrew. Well she knew how he took pride in his ability
to be punctual. And he was fifteen minutes late. She
blushed whenever she caught her friends' amused smiles after they
caught her staring either at her watch or his house.
"I'm sure Andrew's assignment just went a little long," Rose encouraged.
JenniAnn nodded. "Of course. I'm sure... that's all it is,"
she answered without much conviction.
Adam noticed the woman's agitation. The crease in her brow grew
deeper and she twisted her ring around her finger more and more
quickly. "Did I ever tell you about the time I was assigned to a
veterinarian?" he asked.
JenniAnn turned away from Andrew's house and smiled at Adam. "No,
you've not. What happened, Adam?"
"Well, you see it was my job to bathe and groom the dogs. When I
came to the collie, Maisy, the note beside her read that she was to be
bathed and given a significant haircut complete with requisite pink
bows. So I said 'Okay, Maisy, let's make you pretty!' And I
bathed her, gave her a trim, and was just attaching some lovely pink
polka dot bows when I heard a scream. The dog's owner was staring
at me in horror. 'What have you done to my Rex?' she
shouted! That's when I realized... The notes had gotten
mixed up. I'd just gussied up Rex who was apparently being
introduced to a female collie later that day that his owners hoped to
breed him with. I've always wondered if that worked out..."
The entire group laughed at Adam's ordeal but then Countess Jennifer
looked at him with a raised eye brow. "Wait a minute, if you
bathed the dog... Shouldn't you have realized 'Maisy' was a male?"
Adam's face began to color. "I didn't want to be overly familiar
with the dog, of course."
Countess Jennifer shook her head and laughed some more.
“At least the bows were removable and the fur grew back, no doubt,”
JenniAnn mused. A moment later she drew in her breath
sharply. “The light… his light. It’s on!” She stood
up and dashed to the edge of the yard.
“I’m sure he’ll be over soon,” Lady Beth called after her. “May
be he just needs to change or wash up or something.”
Several others nodded in agreement. But then it began to dawn on
them that Andrew’s washing up and changing of attire probably wasn’t
necessary. He was generally perfectly groomed and appropriately
dressed after an assignment.
“Maybe he’s forgotten. After all, it’s been a week since we made
these arrangements,” Lady Beth offered another reason for his delay,
hoping to calm her friends.
Yva began to feel some of JenniAnn’s anxiety. It wasn’t like
Andrew to simply forget an event in Dyeland. Even when he was
unable to attend he sent notes or called. She glanced at Adam to
see if she could determine his thoughts on Andrew’s uncharacteristic
“I really think if something were wrong and he needed help he’d let us
know, wouldn’t he?” Yva looked at the others hopefully, trying to
JenniAnn shook her head vehemently. “I don't know. I felt
so strongly that he'd learned a lot since that time a couple Novembers
ago... But what if he's gone back to that and... and... If
he is very upset we’ll be lucky if we don’t find him wandering the
Fields tomorrow waterlogged and sneezing if those night storms
come! I am going over there right now,” JenniAnn insisted, with a
touch of drama, and started to the house.
The rest of the group looked at Adam expectantly. “May be she’s
right. And if not we can all hassle him for getting forgetful in
his old age,” he jested though a bit uneasily. He stood up and
hastened his steps until he caught up to the blonde woman striding
purposefully towards Serendipity. The entire group crowded on the
porch as JenniAnn knocked. The door opened just by the force of
Adam frowned and moved to stand in front of JenniAnn. “Andrew,
are you in there?” he called. “The ladies and I are here.
We were worried when you didn’t show up at 8:30 like we had all
They heard hurried footsteps then and Andrew came down his
staircase. He stalled at the bottom step and seemed about to say
something but then stopped. The waiting group walked towards him
and in the better light many of them gasped.
Andrew’s hair was mussed as if he’d run his hand through it many times
in frustration or anger or grief. His friends guessed the latter
based on his red-rimmed eyes. Rose took his arm and led him back
into the living room and guided him to his favorite chair.
“What’s wrong, Andrew?” she asked quietly.
The rest of the group settled on the couch, chairs, and floor space
“I’m sorry I forgot about tonight. I had just remembered and was
going to head over as soon as… as soon as I was more presentable,”
“It’s okay,” Rose assured him. “We’re just concerned about
you. Did something happen?”
Andrew shrugged. “My assignment didn’t turn out like I thought it
would is all.”
None of the Dyelanders believed that this was all there was to
it. Andrew wasn’t given to moping about just because something
went a little off track. Something had happened, something
“Would you like to talk about it, Andrew?” JenniAnn asked, patting his
Andrew surveyed the ladies’ faces. The youngest among them had
reached eighteen. He could tell them what happened. They
could handle it. Just as they’d handled Hope’s sad story years
earlier. And Sarah's. But this was different. This
assignment hadn’t involved people from eras that they knew only from
history books, movies, and plays. This had happened only two days
before. To someone so much like them. Andrew wanted to
speak, he wanted to be heard but if that meant hurting them...
He’d wanted to go Home. Why wasn’t he Home? He could have
been at peace there and not weighing the need to unburden his own heart
against his desire to protect his friends from painful events.
“You’re here, Andrew. There must be a reason for that,” Adam
spoke up, seeming to read Andrew’s thoughts.
“Yes, Andrew. Please, let us help you. Tell us what you
need to say,” Yva prompted.
Andrew cleared his throat. “Thank you,” he murmured, “I
will.” His face began to clear then and a sparkle returned to his
eyes. “I was in a small city in Missouri. My assignment was
a young woman named Dawn. A case working gig. Dawn was this
bubbly, outgoing girl with the most infectious laugh I ever
heard. But she could also be so gentle and compassionate.
She was a counselor in a hospice and I'd see her telling jokes to cheer
a depressed patient or holding hands and listening quietly to one who
just needed to be heard. Dawn was dedicated to her work.
Maybe to a fault. She held in her own fears and
frustrations. That’s why I was there as a psychologist brought on
solely for the staff. Really I was there to be her friend.
To be there for her and give her a safe person to speak to. We're
not supposed to have favorite assignments, of course, but Dawn was
really special.” Andrew smiled and withdrew something from his
pocket. He handed it to Adam.
“She looks like a really sweet kid,” Adam commented with a smile and
handed the photograph to Lady Beth.
Lady Beth stared at it. Others peeked over her shoulder to
see. It depicted a young woman with bronze skin and black hair
pulled into a ponytail wearing a hideously colored bowling shirt.
Her brown eyes were lit with a devilish glee and her arm was around
Andrew’s shoulder. He was smiling, too, and seemed to be in the
middle of an eye roll when the snapshot was taken. His own shirt
mirrored hers but in different colors.
Rose drew in a ragged breath. “Dawn looks like she could have
been one of us,” she said quietly.
Andrew nodded, not looking at any of them. He'd thought the very
same about Dawn and now the comparison haunted him. He took a
deep breath and scanned his friends' faces. “There was a bowling
tournament to raise money for the hospice. We were captains on
the opposing teams. Dawn’s team won,” Andrew told with a
chuckle. “She was giving me a hard time about it there. I
was one pin away from a spare that would have tied up the game but…
gutter ball.” He shook his head even as he continued to
grin. But the smile soon faded. “Like I said, Dawn was very
outgoing. She could have a conversation about just about
anything. But she seldom talked about her personal life.
Not even when we’d meet for the one-on-one sessions that I had with the
staff members. She always spoke only about challenges she had at
work. But I knew… something was going on…” Andrew drifted
“It’s okay. No hurry. Take your time,” Countess Jennifer
assured him. “Can we get you some ginger ale or something to
Andrew shook his head and rewarded Countess Jennifer with a grateful
smile. “I’m okay. Thank you, though.” He drew in
another steadying breath. Why was he telling them this? But
why not? Everything about this assignment had been bizarre.
He prayed again to go Home. Adam could explain his absence to
them. But there was no divinely sent answer. Or, he
supposed, his continued presence in Dyeland was the answer.
Defeated, Andrew continued. “Dawn did have a boyfriend. His
name was Alex. She was crazy about him. She’d met him a few
months before my arrival. He lived in another city about an hour
away. Alex came to her house often. Occasionally he’d take
her on weekend trips out of town.”
Lady Beth bit her lip. “This sounds awfully fishy. They’d
either stay at her house or go out of town? Why were they never
at his place?”
Andrew glanced at her. “I think you’ve guessed why.” Lady
Beth nodded and he continued. “Dawn had no idea he was married.”
JenniAnn gasped. “That’s horrible! What a.... a...
Andrew spoke through a tightly clenched jaw. “That and more.”
“Oh Andrew… No… Alex didn’t…” Yva shook her head and
reached for his hand.
Andrew nodded and the tears began to pool in his eyes. “On Friday
Dawn found out Alex was married. She screamed at him when he
showed up that evening and told him she would tell his wife. She
needed forgiveness and that woman needed to know what sort of man she’d
married. Alex was so quiet. He just nodded and left.
But… but… he came back. He asked if they could go out to dinner
and talk. Dawn agreed but... he didn't head to a
restaurant. He… he…” Andrew began to sob.
“Shh… It’s okay. Rest now. We understand. We’re
so sorry you had to see that, Andrew. So very sorry,” JenniAnn
Andrew bolted up from his chair and began pacing. He raked his
hand through his hair making it even more disheveled. He looked
at Adam. “Doesn’t it ever bother you that we see so much and yet
we can do so little?”
Adam hadn’t moved from the couch where he sat with his head in his
hands. The worst part about hearing a fellow angel of death’s
assignment woes was that they often brought back his own
memories. “We get them Home. We get them to safety and love
and peace and no more pain,” Adam answered. It was just as much
for his own benefit as Andrew’s. “That’s what you did for Dawn.”
Andrew sighed. “I know that. And I’m grateful for
that. But how many times have we been the sole witnesses to
heinous crimes? How many murders and assaults sit in cold case
files when *we* know who committed them? Alex killed her!
He murdered a woman who loved him! And I saw! And I… I’m
the only one who knows. The only witness. And a useless one
“You’re not useless, Andrew,” Rose quickly insisted.
“I am in this instance. What am I going to do? ‘Excuse me,
officer. I know who murdered Dawn. Well… I saw it.
How? You see, I was her angel of death.’” Andrew grimaced
and shook his head. “Even if we could do that they'd commit us
before they'd believe us.” He moved to the window and stared
outside at the starry sky. “The police interviewed each of the
staff members. They have no leads. And Alex… he must have
planned the murder out. Dawn’s house didn’t have a shred of
physical evidence when he left. It was so coldly
calculated… And here I am with all the answers and I can’t tell
the police anything!”
Before any more could be said a phone began to ring.
“Oh no...” JenniAnn muttered. It wasn't just any phone. It
was the emergency phone that rang at Andrew's house, Willowveil, City
Hall and the Café. She went to Andrew's desk and picked up
the phone. “Hello? Nadia! We've not heard from you
in...” The smile fell from the woman's face. “Nadia, what's
wrong? Yes... Andrew's here but... he's having a little bit of a
difficult time right now and... No, of course. Hold
on.” JenniAnn cupped her hand over the phone. “Andrew,
Nadia needs to speak to you. I think she's crying and she says
Andrew nodded and reached for the phone. He did a double take
when he realized the hand he held out to JenniAnn was shaking.
“Nadia, I'm going to put you on speaker phone so it's easier for Andrew
to talk.” JenniAnn hit a button on the phone then set down the
receiver. “We'll leave now to give you some privacy.
There's a bunch of us over here.”
The former Dyelander's voice filled the room. “No.
Wait. I-I need to say something and I don't think I have the
strength to keep repeating it.”
“Go on, Nadia,” Lady Beth urged.
The group grew more troubled as they heard the woman many considered an
old friend begin to sob. “My family just got a call. My...
my half-sister's been murdered and... and they don't know who or why
and... and... we'd had a stupid fight and hadn't been speaking and...
Oh God.” Nadia began muttering something no one in the room could
“Oh Nadia, I'm so sorry,” Adam responded.
“A-adam?” the voice bleated.
“It's me, kiddo. Andrew, Lady Beth, Yva, JenniAnn and Countess
Jennifer, too. And Rose. She came to us after you
left. We're all here and we're all praying for you and your
family,” the angel assured.
Andrew took a deep breath and then spoke. “Nadia, the pain you're
feeling right now is immense. But I hope you know your sister is
at peace and, you know, when someone gets to Heaven they learn how much
they're loved. No matter what happened, your sister knows you
“Is there anything we can do, Nadia? Other than the praying, I
mean,” JenniAnn asked.
They could hear Nadia inhale deeply. “No. It's enough
you're listening. I guess I just needed to hear Andrew's
voice. Adam's, too. To remind me of the love and kindness
that's awaiting Dawn.”
Andrew gasped and the color drained from his face. “No,” he
The room and the phone line went silent as everyone came to suspect
that Andrew's assignment and Nadia's sister were one and the
same. Andrew himself knew with certainty the moment Nadia had
said Dawn's name.
“Y-you took her,” Nadia stated, at last. “Andrew, you took my
sister.” Her voice was eerily calm. “Y-you watched her
Andrew began to look as if he might faint. Countess Jennifer
grabbed his arm and tried to get him back to his chair.
“You didn't stop them.” Nadia's voice had taken on an uneven,
“Pick up the phone and tell her we'll call back. Andrew can't
take this right now,” Rose whispered to JenniAnn who was still nearest
Yva shook her head and stayed JenniAnn's hand as she let it hover above
the phone, uncertain. “Andrew won't let us do that. You
Rose nodded and watched tearfully.
Andrew wrested away from Countess Jennifer and sat on the floor, near
the phone, and put his head in his hands. “I-I didn't know she
was your sister b-but... I couldn't stop... I wanted to stop him
but... I-I couldn't. Nadia, please...”
“Nadia, I know this hurts but you have to know Andrew did everything
he...” Adam started.
“Shut up!” Nadia bellowed. “I-I loved you both but I see how it
really is now. It... it takes a cold heart to watch someone be
murdered and do nothing!”
“Nadia!” JenniAnn cried. “You don't know what they feel...”
“I know what my sister felt! Why don't you ask your beloved about
watching my sister gasp for breath and about how she tried to fight,”
Nadia snapped. “She did. Didn't she Andrew?” The sobs
that followed resounded through the room.
JenniAnn shrank away from the phone.
“Andrew, let's go outside for a little bit,” Adam coaxed, kneeling by
Andrew shook his head and looked to the phone. “I'm sorry.
I'm so sorry. Nadia, I cared about Dawn. I did. If...
if I could have I would have traded places with her. Please know
Andrew's plea was met with silence. He hung his head.
“Nadia, my heart is breaking for you. I can't imagine your pain
right now.” Lady Beth took JenniAnn's place beside the
phone. “But this is Andrew you're talking to. Your
friend. Nadia, your words they're... they're hurting him.
Please, can't we just pray together?”
For a moment it seemed Lady Beth's words had given Nadia a much needed
opportunity to consider her words. The phone line was again
“Andrew,” Nadia's voice finally broke the silence.
“Yes, Nadia. I'm here.”
“Stay the hell away from me and my family.”
There was a click and then the line went dead. Yva scrambled to
“It was her pain speaking, Andrew. She didn't mean it,” JenniAnn
murmured, kneeling before the angel.
“It doesn't matter,” Andrew answered wearily.
“It does matter! Please tell us you don't actually believe what
she said!” Yva cried. “You and Adam have some of the warmest
hearts of anyone I know!”
“Thank you.” Adam brushed at some tears that were sliding down
his cheeks and smiled at Yva. “Give Nadia some time to grieve,
Andrew. Once she has she'll realize that your being with her
sister is a reason to feel some amount of peace, not anger.”
“Dawn called out for me to help her. There was nothing peaceful
about how she died, Adam,” Andrew muttered.
No one knew what to say at that and the room grew eerily silent, each
person lost in a whirl of their own thoughts.
When the silence became insufferable, Rose walked over to Adam.
“Why isn’t he Home? He needs to be there. We can’t do
anything for him here!”
At the young woman's words, a brilliant light filled the room and Tess
appeared. “That’s not true, Rose, baby.”
“Tess!” Andrew cried and ran to her.
“There, there Angel Boy. Dawn says hello. She wanted to
thank you for being there for her,” Tess hugged him and stroked his
Andrew peered into her eyes. “Why can’t I see her, Tess? I
understood why I returned to Missouri. I had to tie a few loose
ends up at the hospice but why am I here in Dyeland? I just want
to go back Home!” he whispered, not wanting to hurt the Dyelanders’
Tess squeezed his hand. “Because your assignment’s not over,
Andrew. And right now you're in the home you need to be in to
prepare for it to continue.”
Andrew laughed darkly. “My assignment is dead, Tess!”
“Angel Boy, there's someone who needs to hear from you. Someone
who needs to meet the one who was with her daughter in her final hours,
even if she doesn't recognize you as such. And your friends
here... baby, they need to help you heal yourself and all the others of
God's children who have been hurt by that man's cruelty.”
The Dyelanders gasped in unison.
Andrew backed away from Tess, shaking his head. “What do they
have to do with this?” He waved his hand to the ladies who had
assembled on and around the couch.
“They’re your friends and you’re going to need as many friends as you
can get on this part of your assignment. Babies, will you go to
Missouri with Andrew, Adam, and I?” Tess asked.
Still stunned, the Dyelanders nodded silently in unison.
Andrew looked at Tess as if she were insane. “They most certainly
will not! I have just lost a friend to this man and you think I’m
going to let any of my other friends go any where near where he lives?”
he asked, incredulous.
Tess gave him a stern look. “I
didn’t think up anything about this, Andrew. The Father
did. Do you think you know better than Him? He brought you
here to Dyeland instead of back to Heaven for a reason.”
“We want to be there with you, Andrew, if it's God's will,” Countess
Jennifer assured the angel.
Yva glanced from the simmering Andrew to Tess. “When would we
“Tomorrow, Yva,” Tess answered with a reassuring smile that faltered
when she looked to Andrew.
Andrew stepped towards the picture window, once again, and looked out
at the night sky. He knew he couldn't look at any of his friends
as he said what was then in his heart. “Rose was right.
Dawn was so much like all of you. When I was with her... she
could cheer me up. We had these goofy inside jokes and... I
could imagine her here. And then... when it happened...
I... I could imagine all of you. When it was over I thanked God
that I knew you were safe. That you were protected here.
And now... now I wish you would stay here forever. No New
York. No Los Angeles. No Earth, period. Just
here. Where you'd be safe.” He sighed and ran his hand
through his hair. “Respect free will. That's one of our big
rules. And here I am wanting to lock my friends away. I'm
ashamed of myself.”
JenniAnn stepped towards Andrew. “You don't think it's ever
crossed my mind to do something drastic to keep you out of harm's
way? I gave some serious thought to locking you in the basement
before Christmas when you went to Iraq. I probly would have tried
it if I didn't think you'd just walk through the walls.”
Despite the tumult he was feeling, Andrew smiled and met her
gaze. “The basement, huh? Which one?”
“Well, mine, of course,” she answered as if it was obvious.
Lady Beth gave JenniAnn a curious look and then also moved nearer to
Andrew. “I think what JenniAnn's trying to say is that we all
have times we'd like to protect those we love, even if it means
limiting their freedom. But we don't because we know it's wrong.”
“Exactly,” JenniAnn agreed.
“Buddy, you can't see what we do day in and day out and not bring some
of it home.” Adam gestured to those around him. “But you
keep going and you allow those you love to live their lives and do what
they need and want to do, praying that God will protect them.
Right now, we all need and want to help you as the Father asks.”
“Andrew, none of us are going to wander off alone. We'll stick
together and we'll help you finish this assignment, okay?” Rose
smiled bravely at Andrew.
Andrew shook his head but his resistance was failing. Tess’
reprimand and the impassioned words of his friends had gotten to
him. The Father’s plans didn’t always make sense to him but they
had a way of always turning out. “I still don’t like the idea of
you being in that town with Alex around and growing edgier and more
paranoid each day. He has to be. The media has grabbed a
hold of this and...”
“Like Rose said, no one will wander off when we're out.” Adam surveyed
the group. “And no one ever leaves wherever it is we’re staying
by themselves, is that clear?”
“Of course,” Lady Beth agreed. The others murmured assent.
“Having you or Andrew escort us around town is no sacrifice, Adam,” Yva
Andrew found himself smiling at that. “You’ll come, too?” he
Tess nodded. “There will be nine of us.”
“Like the Fellowship,” Countess Jennifer piped up.
Adam chuckled, relieved by the injection of humor. “Only if I get
to be Aragorn.”
“Why, you have a thing for elfin princesses, Luscious?” JenniAnn
Adam blushed momentarily then winked at her. “She was pretty but
not my type.” He sobered then turned to Andrew and set a hand on
his shoulder, looking into his eyes. “Please… let’s do
this.” Adam’s voice lowered. “Look at them, Andrew.
They want to help you. And like you said, we see so many brutal
crimes happen that never get resolved. We leave behind so many
families always left wondering if the murderer is still out
there. We have a chance to at least bring some peace to Dawn's
mother and to feel like we're leaving an impact on those left
behind. Please, Andrew, think about the gift the Father is
holding out to us.”
Andrew wiped at a tear and hugged his friend. “Okay.” He
looked at his other friends then and smiled tearfully at them.
“Thank you for listening and for agreeing to this.”
The Dyelanders all took turns hugging him. Tess gathered them
back onto the couch and surrounding chairs then and began to explain to
them what would and would not be allowed on this assignment. Adam
piped in on occasion. Andrew wandered outside for a moment and
stared up at the starry sky.
“Thank you, Father. For my friends and for this chance. I
was angry with You for not answering my prayer to go Home. But
now I see You were bringing me to the home I needed to go to and
answering an even more important prayer.” Andrew paused and
looked back at his house. “Please protect them, Father.
They’re my friends and if anything were to happen and I couldn't
help...” Andrew shook his head. “Please protect
them.” He bowed his head and felt peace envelope him. Then
he returned to the living room.
Monday, January 19th
It was shortly before noon the following day. The previous night
had been a flurry of activity as calls were made and things were
packed. When everything had been taken care of, five women, three
angels, Fawn, and Lulu were gathered in the Willowveil
ballroom among an assortment of bags.
“Okay, last chance to back out if anyone wants to. No one will
think less of you,” Andrew announced. He no longer hoped all five
of the women would leave but felt he needed to offer them one last
out. Of course, no one budged.
“I think we’re all determined to go. Although…” Lady Beth looked
around with a raised eye brow. “Tess, I thought you said there
would be nine of us? I count eight. You, Adam, Andrew, Yva,
Countess Jennifer, JenniAnn, Rose, and me. Eight. Unless
we're counting the dogs in which case it's ten.”
Tess smiled and shook her head. “I wasn't including the dogs in
the number though they're welcome. And I wondered when someone
would notice that. Very observant, baby. Number Nine will
show up eventually. Trust me.”
JenniAnn shrugged. “Okay but...”
“What is it, baby?” Tess asked.
“We're going to Missouri and I've been there before. I'm pretty
confident they don't use royal-sounding titles so... I'm just reminding
people ya best stick with just calling me JenniAnn. Although Laja
is okay, too.” She grinned at Andrew, hoping to draw the same
from him and succeeding.
“Good point,” Countess Jennifer agreed. “I'll go by C.J.
again. Even when we're alone, less chance of slipping up in
public that way.”
“Sure and I'll just go by Beth and then I think that takes care of it,
right?” Lady Beth glanced around the room.
“That should do it,” Tess agreed. “Now are we ready to go?”
“I am,” Rose responded first. “But I'm curious. How is it
we’re getting from here in Dyeland to Missouri?” she asked.
“There's no existing portal.”
Adam winked. “You just leave that to us. Or to Him, I
suppose is more accurate. Everyone ready?” His question was
met with a chorus of six female yeses and one nervous male voice.
Tess reached for Andrew's hand and he relaxed.
Adam proceeded to the supply closet door and opened it. “Ladies
first.” He grinned and bowed his head politely and indicated the
“Missouri is in the supply closet? Funny, I thought I’d put the
extra dishes in there,” JenniAnn smirked.
“I’m sure the people of Missouri enjoyed your extra soup tureen,” Yva
joked. “This reminds me of ‘Touched.’ I remember ‘Andrew’
opening doors that went to Heaven but never Missouri.”
“‘Andrew’ also never had to worry about his human friends going on
assignments with him,” Andrew pointed out but he smiled good-naturedly.
“Poor him,” Rose teased and then she stepped into the closet and
The rest of the women followed then Adam ushered Andrew in and stepped
in himself. The door shut leaving the ballroom empty.
Upon arriving in Missouri, the group found themselves in a large
cabin. It looked as if it had once been a bed and
breakfast. The bottom floor housed the kitchen, two parlors, a
game room, a restroom and a meeting room with computers. Seven
bedroom suites were on the second floor.
“There are eight of us and apparently a ninth expected. Who gets
to share?” Beth asked.
Everyone tried their best not to look at Andrew who seemed to be
considered the ideal roommate. Adam elbowed him, openly chuckling.
Tess rolled her eyes. “Angel Boys, you’re on the *third*
floor. We'll need that seventh bedroom down here later.”
The Dyelanders sighed as the two guys headed up the stairs. Once
Andrew and Adam were gone, the women received their room assignments
from Tess and began unpacking. They’d barely had time to empty
out their bags when they heard a scream. All five ran from their
bedrooms and into the hall just in time to see Tess exit her room,
fuming. Andrew was running down the stairs from his room so
quickly that the women worried he’d end up in a heap at the bottom.
“Get *him* down here,” Tess seethed.
Andrew looked at Tess with confusion. “Tess, what happened?
I heard you scream and I came as quick as I could.”
Tess pushed past him and yelled into the stair case. “Adam!
You better get down here and take care or that… that… monstrosity in my
bag this instant. OR I WILL BREAK YOUR HALO!”
“A little over-dramatic don’t you think, Tess?” Adam asked, breezily
walking down the stairs, grinning from ear to ear. “I thought
Terrence was adorable.”
“Terrence?” C.J. asked, looking confusedly from Adam to Tess.
Adam nodded. “Yes, Terrence. I thought he could keep our
dear Tess company in her room.”
“Don’t you 'dear Tess' me. Get that thing out of my room.
NOW.” Tess grabbed his arm and pulled him down the hall.
Adam looked back at the group and winked.
JenniAnn looked at Andrew, confused. “What did he do, Andrew?”
Andrew shook his head. “I have no idea…”
Adam stepped out of Tess’ room with something cradled in his
hands. Tess followed him warily. Lulu and Fawn bolted
towards the angel of death, trying to see what he held.
“Aww! A mouse!” JenniAnn cried and stepped forward.
“That’s no mouse, baby,” Tess called, hovering a few yards away.
“Well, what is it?” Rose asked.
Adam held his cupped hands toward them. He smiled
beatifically. “A baby rat.”
Andrew burst into laughter. “You put a rat in Tess’ bag?”
“He’s perfectly harmless. And I made sure he had an air supply,”
Adam answered defensively.
“Perfectly disgusting more like it,” Tess countered, nose
upturned. “That goes outside.”
“Aww, c’mon Tess, he’s a creation of God. God loves Terrence,
right?” Andrew asked, a twinkle in his eye, as he pet the tiny creature.
Tess sighed. Of course she couldn’t deny that. Maybe she
should rethink leaving Andrew and Adam in the upstairs rooms
alone. She had the notion they could get themselves into all
sorts of mischief at her expense. But it was good to see Andrew
smile and his eyes light up. If that thing… Terrence… had brought
that about, the angel considered the idea that maybe he wasn’t so
awful. “Yes, the Father loves even Terrence. You can keep
him. Upstairs. Away from me and in a cage.
Understand?” Tess answered.
Adam and Andrew nodded eagerly like two little boys.
Beth ran to fetch a cardboard box they could use until they returned
from the pet store with supplies.
Once Tess was assured Terrence was safely secured in his box, the two
angels of death and Rose and JenniAnn headed to the nearest pet
store. While Adam and Rose compared prices on various habitats,
Andrew and JenniAnn perused the rat food section.
“We gotta get these. They're pretty,” JenniAnn tossed a
carton of multi-colored fruit bits into the basket. “And my
cousin had a rat once. She loved em.”
Andrew picked the box up and looked at them. “You know, they look
like something a person might eat. Fruit snacks or something.”
“Yep, they’re actually pretty yummy,” JenniAnn answered, turning to the
Andrew looked at her with a raised eye brow but chose to let the
comment slide. He began to examine various types of food
“We should get a surprise for Lulu and Fawn while we're here,” JenniAnn
Andrew nodded. “I know they'd love that.” He took note of
the dog and cat display only a few yards away. “I'll only be a
minute. If you want to start looking then I'll be right over.”
“I was hoping you'd say that but I didn't want you to worry,” she
“Laja, I'm not putting you or anyone under some sort of reverse
retraining order. You can go outside of 20 feet from me, you
know,” Andrew teased. “I know you won't leave the store
alone. So, yeah, it's okay.”
JenniAnn laughed. “Not sure I'd mind that reverse restraining
order, generally speaking, but okay. I'll be right over there.”
Andrew nodded and watched her walk off before focusing on the task at
hand. Did the rat want extra carrot bits thrown in? Exactly
what vitamins did Terrence need? Finally, Andrew selected a box
and headed towards the dog treats. His pulse began to race when
he realized he saw no blonde ponytail sticking up from above the five
foot shelves. He tore around the corner and into the aisle.
The same in the next aisle. And the next.
Finally, a familiar laugh met Andrew's ears. He spun around and
saw JenniAnn kneeling down beside a small boy in front of an
aquarium. A man stood near them both, his hand on the boy's
Any peace Andrew had felt at spotting his friend evaporated. He
quickly made his way to them.
“There you are! I need to show you something,” Andrew said as he
approached. “These guinea pigs are nuts!”
JenniAnn looked curiously at the angel. His gleeful grin hardly
matched the worry in his eyes. “Right. Okay, well, nice to
meet you, Robbie.” She smiled at the little boy and then went to
Andrew and followed him as he led her a few yards away. “That was
abrupt. Listen, I'm sorry I wasn't with the dog stuff but that
lil boy was there and crying cause he was lost so I was gonna lead him
up front but then he saw his dad by the fish so I walked him
over. Irresponsible idiot just laughed when I told him the lil
guy had been crying. Some people... So what are the guinea
But Andrew didn’t answer her. He was transfixed, staring at the
man and the boy near the fish display.
JenniAnn reached over to try to shake Andrew out of whatever had gotten
into him. Her eyes grew wide when she felt a tremor run through
his arm. She peered back over at Robbie and his father.
“Andrew, that's Alex, isn't it?” she whispered.
The angel nodded.
“My God... he has a child! Did you know?”
Andrew shook his head. “Did you tell him your name?”
“Well, no. I just told him I'd found his son and he thanked me...
barely... and I felt so sorry for the lil kid I talked to him for a
moment but, no, never my name and... Andrew, let's find Adam and
Rose and go.” JenniAnn looked with concern at the angel.
Andrew nodded and scanned the rest of the store. Adam and Rose
were still checking out rat homes, completely oblivious. He was
just about to answer when he heard Robbie's laughter.
The angel stared at the little boy of about four who came running down
the center of the store. He had blonde hair that poked out at odd
angles, red glasses with thick frames, and was missing his two front
teeth. He wore a gingham shirt, only half tucked in, and crumpled
corduroys. In short, he was adorable and JenniAnn and Andrew both
smiled despite the troubling presence of Alex only yards away.
“Daddy, come look at the kitties and hamsters and stuff,” the boy
“Not now. We don’t have time. Besides we have fish. I
just need to get their food and then we have to leave, Robbie.”
Alex grabbed a bottle off the shelf then led Robbie up to the registers.
“I can't believe he has a kid,” Andrew muttered.
JenniAnn watched as he began to run his hand through his hair.
“C'mon, let's get Adam and Rose and we’re going to go back to the
cabin. You need to rest.” She took his hand and dashed off
then. Andrew continued to stare at Alex and Robbie as JenniAnn
explained the situation to their friends. Both Adam and Rose
looked to the front of the store, aghast.
“Are you sure he was his son? Maybe a nephew?” Adam asked
Andrew shook his head. “The boy, Robbie, called him dad. I
can’t believe…” The crease between his eyes grew deeper.
His hands formed two fists. “It was bad enough he has a wife and
now… he has a son! How could he…”
Rose shot JenniAnn a concerned look and tilted her head to the front
door. JenniAnn nodded.
“Let’s leave Adam and Rose to make the final decisions for
Terrence. You look like you could use some fresh air,” JenniAnn
suggested to Andrew.
Adam nodded and took the basket Andrew was holding. “That’s a
good idea. We'll be right out.”
Andrew looked from Adam to Rose who both nodded, then pulled out his
keys and led JenniAnn outside. He hated feeling so out of control
that his friends were more or less babysitting him but he also felt
that if he had to see Alex for one more moment he might do something
Adam and Rose stared after their two retreating friends. The
latter shook her head. “I think this all just got far more
complicated,” she mused.
“You’ve said it,” Adam agreed as they made their way to the checkout
lanes. They tried to talk breezily about mundane topics as they
waited. But both kept catching themselves staring at Alex.
Robbie was eying some coffee mugs with different breeds of dogs on
them. Alex wasn’t paying him any attention at all. Robbie
picked one up with a collie on it. Just then a dog barked,
startling the boy, and the mug plunged to the ground.
“God damn it, Robbie! What were you doing?” Alex shouted, at last
paying attention to his son.
“I… I… just wanted to look. Da-daddy,” Robbie cried.
“Really, it’s not a big deal, sir. It was just an accident,” the
cashier assured him.
Alex was undeterred. “What have I said about not touching things
that aren’t yours? Now pick it up!”
Robbie knelt to pick up the shards but Adam and Rose swooped
“Here, let us help,” Adam offered with a kind smile. He and Rose
used the scoop they’d been about to purchase for cleaning Terrence’s
cage to gather the pieces together. Then a store employee arrived
with a dust pan. In less than a minute there was no evidence of
the accident. But still Alex was fuming and Robbie had tears
streaming down his cheeks.
“Look, it’s all fixed now,” Rose pointed out, gently smiling at Robbie.
“Thank you for your help,” Alex muttered. By that time his
receipt had printed and he grabbed that, his bag, and Robbie’s hand and
Rose sighed. “I think I'm beginning to feel a little bit of the
frustration Andrew feels,” she whispered to Adam.
The angel of death nodded.
“And yours, too,” Rose added.
“I wish it was a more fun club to be in,” Adam muttered as he placed
Terrence’s items on the counter.
Back at the cabin, the four took turns telling the others what had
occurred at the pet store.
“This does make it harder,” C.J. admitted, shaking her head.
Yva nodded in agreement. “The poor boy…”
“He must not have him with him much. He certainly found enough
alone time to be with Dawn,” C.J. pointed out.
“Exactly,” Andrew added, his tone foreboding. Everyone looked at
him. “He’s just going to move on now. Find some other
“Okay, so where would one go to meet girls?” Beth mused aloud.
She glanced at Andrew and Adam.
Adam laughed. “Don’t look at me. I’ve never had problems
meeting the ladies.” He did his best to look as studly as
possible causing all the women to laugh. Even Andrew smiled.
“Bars?” JenniAnn suggested after regaining control of herself.
“Are there any dance clubs around here?” Rose asked.
“Movie theaters? Music festivals?” Beth continued.
“I think they met at a dance club,” Andrew spoke up. “About an
hour away. Near where Dawn lived. But why are we having
“Well... I think we were all just thinking that maybe we could make
life, and further conquests, a little difficult for Alex.” Yva
looked to the other women, checking. They all nodded.
“Whoa, whoa... no. Uh uh. You actually want to possibly run
into him again? I don't think so,” Andrew protested. “Tess,
tell them we're not doing that.”
Before Tess could answer, Yva spoke again. “With all due respect
and love, Andrew, you can't tell us what we can and can't do.
This is our life, this is our world, Dawn was so much like us, you
said. Don't we have a right to do what we can to protect
others? We can help stop Alex.”
Andrew bowed his head, knowing Yva was right. Nonetheless, he
looked pleadingly at Tess.
Tess had been suspiciously quiet during the previous discussion and
Adam looked curiously at her. “Tess, care to let us in on what
you're thinking? You okay?”
Tess smiled at the elder angel of death. “I'm fine, Adam.
Babies, I couldn't tell you about the full assignment earlier because
the idea couldn't come from me. It had to be borne of free
will. And it has been. Andrew, baby, I told you that the
Father sent you back here so that you could be healed along with
others. There will be no healing until the truth comes to
light. And these babies want to help you bring it to light.
Andrew shook his head, not in defiance but disbelief. He felt as
if the Father was asking him to risk everything. He could justify
putting himself at risk but... not them.
“Andrew,” JenniAnn sat on the arm of his chair, “we love you. You
know that. And it hurts us when you or Adam or Henry come back
from an assignment deflated or discouraged or, worst of all,
heartbroken and beating up on yourself.”
“This is exactly why I was so reluctant to let all of you see me
like...” he began.
“This is exactly why you need to,” she counter-protested.
Adam rose and stood behind JenniAnn. “She's right. You know
that, buddy. You asked me if it bothered me that we knew the
answers to so many unsolved crimes, that we could bring justice if only
it were possible. Right now... with them... it is possible.
We owe it to Dawn, to her family, and to ourselves to do what we
can. And we owe it to Robbie and his mother. Andrew, if
Alex does this again... what if next time he decides it's the wife and
kid that go?” Adam shuddered at the all-too-possible thought.
Andrew nodded. “Fine. I don't like it. But... I know
all of you, and most of all the Father, are right. But I still
don't understand. How is preventing Alex from meeting another
woman going to bring his murder of Dawn to light? None of you can
go to the police any more than I can. What are you going to
say? 'The angel of death is a close personal friend and he said
Alex did it'?”
“We aren't going to the police, Andrew,” Rose answered. “I've
seen Mick do this sort of thing pretty often during the ride-alongs I
did with him. What if we just drop a few key phrases into
conversation he might overhear? Things relevant to Dawn. It
could play on his guilt and then he might turn himself in.”
Andrew raised an eye brow. “I guess that's an idea but I feel a
little better about an 85 year old vampire making murderers paranoid
than I do all of you. What if we just do our best to trail him
and then any time he approaches a young lady... we make nuisances of
ourselves? Can we just try that first? Between that and the
media attention it might be enough to push him into confessing.”
Beth nodded. “That could work. And it could have the same
effect without making Alex think we actually know anything about the
murder itself. He'd just think we're really annoying people made
paranoid by local news.”
“We can do annoying.” C.J. grinned at Andrew.
At last, Andrew laughed. Then he closed his eyes and inhaled
deeply. “Okay, so where are we going? I suppose we should
head to Dawn's town. Alex knows he's less likely to be spotted by
someone he knows there. It's more anonymous.”
“I vote dance club. Not only does Alex have a history there
but... might be nice to go dancing and relax if he doesn't show,” Yva
Tess nodded. “That's a fine idea. If anyone doesn't want to
go you're welcome to stay with me, babies.” She wrinkled her
nose. “The music in those places... if you can call it music.”
Adam chuckled. “So those of you with discriminating musical
tastes can stay with Tess. Everyone else will leave after
dinner. Does that sound right?”
“It sounds good to me but, um, since I'm not 21 yet I'm not sure I'd
even get in,” Rose pointed out.
“We could call ahead and check. But seems to me that when I was
under 21 I could go into places. They'd just stamp or mark my
hand with a M for minor or something so I couldn't get drinks.”
JenniAnn rolled her eyes. “Course, it's not exactly fun scrubbing
a big ol' red M off your hand the next day...”
Rose laughed. “I think I can deal with it.”
“I'm not sure...” Andrew again looked concerned. “If Alex is
there and approaches one of you...”
C.J. shrugged. “Then we brush him off and approach either you or
Adam. As despicable as he is, he doesn't seem to be stupid.
He probably went after Dawn because she was isolated. He wouldn't
approach anyone who was clearly with someone else.”
“So we'll all promise to keep in at least pairs, okay?” Beth glanced at
Andrew bowed his head and sighed. “Okay,” he finally agreed with
a far from effortless smile.
“It'll be okay, Andrew. Really,” Yva consoled.
“Just trust in the Father, Andrew. He loves all of you and His
eyes are on each of you. He'll take care of all of you,” Tess
assured. “But first I'm taking care of dinner. I don't want
you all going there and filling up on fried appetizers. So would
anyone care to help?”
Yva giggled as Adam began slowly backing away. He looked relieved
when Beth, Rose and JenniAnn readily volunteered and he found himself
sharing table setting duties with the others.
Despite the anxiety attached to the evening's events, dinner was a
friendly and lively affair. Everyone oohed and aahed over the
chicken a la Tess and the turnovers that followed. But after the
last dish was put in the dishwasher, everyone knew it was time to get
ready. Tess waited in one of the parlors while the others drifted
in. She couldn't help but note how different some of the women
looked. Gone were the bell bottoms and peasant dresses and casual
clothes. They'd all been replaced by cocktail dresses and slick
“You all look wonderful, babies,” Tess assured them. “Now just
remember to stick together and with Andrew and Adam, okay?”
All five of them nodded.
“We will, Tess. I don't think a dance club we've never set foot
in is really anyone's idea of a great scene so I don't think we'd
separate even if we wanted to.” Yva indicated her nodding friends.
“There's just one thing, though...” Beth smirked. “Since when
does it take men longer to get ready than women?”
Everyone laughed but then grew uneasy with Adam's and Andrew's
Andrew picked up his wallet and put it in the pocket of his
jeans. Adam was waiting in the door way.
“Are you ready now?” he asked.
Andrew shrugged. “I just can't help feeling like maybe this isn't
the best idea.”
“Andrew, buddy, you've got to let that go. Remember what Tess
said about the Father watching over us all. Besides, this is a
dance club. It's not like we're headed to... the Whiskey
Roadhouse or something like that,” Adam grinned.
Andrew smiled but it quickly faded. “If anything were to
“We won't let anything happen. We're not assigned to them,
Andrew.” Adam indicated the doorway from which laughter and
chatter could be heard. “They want to help you. And if you
just let them you might discover that there's even more to this.”
Andrew looked at Adam curiously but could tell his friend intended to
say no more. “Okay, let's go.” Andrew took a deep breath
and then went down the stairs with Adam following.
They were greeted with smiles when they met up with the women. At
Tess' suggestion, they all held hands for a few moments as she led them
Twenty minutes later the group arrived at the club. Adam, Beth,
JenniAnn, Yva and Rose waited outside while Andrew and C.J. parked the
mini-van. Once all seven were together they entered. After
they'd entered Rose was showing off a black M on her right hand.
To calm the nervousness everyone was feeling, Adam began a game of
making up what the M stood for.
“Majestic,” he offered.
Rose giggled. “Right...”
“Maniacal,” JenniAnn suggested with a grin.
“Probably closer to the truth,” Rose admitted with a laugh.
“Monica!” Andrew blurted.
“But that's not an adjective,” Beth pointed out.
“No, look!” Andrew waved to Monica who was sitting in an upper room
with glass walls, waving them up.
The seven approached and took seats around a table.
“So I guess you're Number Nine?” Yva asked.
Monica looked confused for a moment. “Oh, yes. There are
nine of us here. Tess mentioned that. Where is she?”
“Back at the cabin. This isn't her scene.” Adam raised an
eye brow at a couple dancing in an immodest fashion below. “Not
that I think it's any of ours but Tess may find it especially
trying.” The angel of death smirked then redirected his attention
to Monica. “You're looking as lovely as always. It's good
to see you.”
“Ah, it is. It's been months, hasn't it? I was so happy
when the Father said I'd be working with all of you. Of course, I
wish it were under happier circumstances. I met with Dawn.
A very sweet girl and she's quite fond of you, Andrew. How are
Andrew had bowed his head upon hearing Dawn's name but looked up with a
strained smile. “I'm doing fine. Being surrounded by
friends helps. I'm really glad you're here, Monica. I've
Monica smiled at him and reached across the table to squeeze his
hand. “I've missed you, too, Andrew. I think of you every
time I look at your pocket watch.”
Andrew smiled again and nodded, wondering why he was struggling to
think of things to say to Monica.
Rose noticed his unease and looked to Monica. “So what have you
been up to? Do you like your new job?”
“Oh very much,” the angel answered enthusiastically. “Of course I
miss working with a group. I learned so much from Tess and Andrew
and you, too, Adam. In fact, just last week I was assigned to a
young man on a farm. He was talking to one of the turkeys and I
couldn't help but think of you.”
Adam chuckled. “I'm glad I left such an impression.”
“You did in many ways. You both did.” Monica looked again
at Andrew and frowned.
Once Andrew caught onto it he again smiled but seemed nervous.
Rose cast JenniAnn a knowing look. JenniAnn bit her lip,
considering what she should do. By luck, or perhaps Divine
Intervention, the jolting music suddenly gave way to Coldplay's “The
Scientist.” She'd put it on a mixed CD for Andrew and from then
on out had considered it “their song.”
“Andrew, I'm feeling a bit jumpy. I think I had too much coffee
at dinner. I need to move around a bit. Would you please
dance with me?” the woman asked.
“I'd love that. If you'll excuse us,” Andrew smiled at the rest
and led JenniAnn outside the room and onto the dance floor.
Monica looked confused for a moment.
“She's fine. But he's not doing as well as he'd like us to
believe, I don't think,” Beth explained.
Adam nodded. “He really enjoyed his time with Dawn and I think,
until the end, he thought it was a caseworking assignment. Her
murder and seeing it... Sometimes it's hard to not be able to do
anything.” Adam looked appreciatively at Yva when she patted his
“Yes, Andrew had mentioned that before when we used to work
together. Terribly sad...” Monica sighed.
“It is,” Rose responded, emphatic. “And very difficult on Andrew
and Adam and Henry, too, I'm sure. That's why we're all so glad
that we can be here to help and to support Andrew.” Try as she
might, Rose could not keep an edge out of her voice.
Monica looked startled for a moment. “Of course, you're all
wonderful friends for that.” she finally responded with a smile.
She looked out at Andrew and JenniAnn in time to see the latter rest
her head against the angel as they danced. Monica again looked
surprised. “Is JenniAnn still seeing that fellow who lives with
her cousins in New York?”
Beth shook her head. “No, they broke up about a year ago.”
“That's too bad. He seemed a nice young man. I only asked
because it seems she still has a wee crush on Andrew.” Monica
indicated the dance floor.
Adam reddened slightly, not comfortable discussing the emotions of
someone who wasn't present. “I think it's gone past a 'wee
crush,' Monica,” was all he felt right saying.
“Oh, poor girl.”
C.J. had begun to feel restless and felt that the ease of the group's
communication was thrown off by Monica's presence. “Now that
we've explained everything, why don't we go out there? Nothing's
going to get accomplished being holed up in here alone.”
“She's right. Just remember, no titles. So Beth,” Yva
smiled at Lady Beth. “And C.J.”
“C.J.” smiled back. “Right.”
With that the group exited their transparent enclave.
While the others had been speaking, Andrew and JenniAnn had begun
“Do you feel better?” Andrew asked after a few moments.
JenniAnn smiled up at him and nodded. “Yes, thanks. How
“Glad to see Monica. I guess I just...” Andrew drifted off.
Andrew looked back at the group for a moment. “It just seems
different. It used to be easier to talk to Monica.”
“I think that feeling's normal. It's hard when you used to see
someone so often and then you're parted for a while. It takes
time to fall into the old patterns. It'll come, Andrew. And
this isn't the easiest of circumstances.”
“I'm painfully aware of that. I'm still not sure about all of you
JenniAnn shook her head. “We had to be.”
“I appreciate your coming to support me and help me but the
danger... Laja, sometimes I get to thinking about all that I've
seen and what could happen.”
“Bad things could happen any time and any where, Andrew. But...
there's more to why I wanted to come. I can't speak for the
others, of course, but... something tells me they'd agree with what I'm
about to say.” JenniAnn stopped to glance at the couples in their
immediate vicinity. One couple seemed completely oblivious to all
around them. The next closest was a few feet off.
Nonetheless, she tilted her head and Andrew led her further away.
Once assured they were out of hearing distance, JenniAnn spoke
again. “You have seen so much, Andrew. And the truth is
you'll go onto see so much more after we've... died. Our time to
influence the world is limited. Yours... it isn't, Andrew.
And so if we can help you and if one day you find yourself discouraged
and you can think back on that, then a part of us will still be helping
the world into which we were born. Because you'll go on to help
so many people. And they will be so blessed.” JenniAnn
blinked back tears. Despite her near decade long friendship with
the angel of death, it daunted her to think of one day being apart from
the world. Wearied by the knowledge and feeling slightly
unsteady, she rested her cheek against Andrew as they continued to
Andrew struggled to come up with an appropriate response.
JenniAnn's words had made him all at once touched, saddened and
troubled by the passage of time in a way he generally was not. At
last he settled on words that to him sounded pathetic and dumb.
“I'm glad you came.”
However, for JenniAnn they were just the words she needed to
hear. She tucked them away to carry back to her friends as the
song morphed into something loud and obnoxious and she and Andrew left
Andrew and JenniAnn approached the booth their friends had relocated
“So are we ordering anything?” Adam asked.
“Apparently not fried appetizers.” Beth echoed Tess' words with a
“I could always do with a mocha latte,” Monica answered.
“How does that not surprise me?” Adam winked at Monica.
Yva withdrew a piece of paper from her purse and everyone jotted down
their drink orders.
Andrew stood up. “I'll take this to the bar. On me.”
“Well thanks, buddy, but you just sat down. Why don't you let
me?” Adam offered.
Andrew shook his head. “No, really, I want to. I'll be
right back.” With that he left, his friends staring after him.
“Great,” Yva muttered.
“Pardon?” Monica questioned.
Yva looked startled, not realizing she'd spoken loud enough to be
heard. “Oh sorry. It's nothing. I guess I'm just
concerned for Andrew and the way he holds everything in
sometimes. He's being very evasive right now. Did he say
much to you?” She looked to JenniAnn.
JenniAnn shrugged. “A little. He told me he's glad we
came. Still worried about the danger, though.”
“Well, that's a relief. That he's glad we came, I mean.”
C.J. looked to the bar where Andrew stood. “I really think he has
changed. It's still difficult for him, obviously, but he did talk to us about Dawn.
“Changed? Changed how?” Monica questioned. “He seems like
the same old Andrew to me.”
Silence. Adam cleared his throat. “I, well... he is.
I mean the Andrew we all know and love... he's a constant. But,
yes, Monica I think in some ways he has...”
“Heesh like old nuf to be their dad. Like, grossssh.”
The loud, slurring voice cut Adam off.
“Other dude's totally hot. Wouldn't mind going home
The group looked to a table a few feet away in time to see one
spectacularly drunk woman slide out of the booth and onto the
floor. Her friend began laughing hysterically and yanked her
“Who'sh he think he's kidding? Hish hair's to'ally gray.
Ish just wrong. Why can't dey jush shtick to own aged
women.” More hysterical laughter ensued.
“I, uh, think maybe they're talking about me.” Adam had turned a
bright crimson realizing he was, in fact, the only gray-haired patron
in the club.
Yva rolled her eyes. “How embarrassing... for them.” She
stressed her last words and patted Adam's hand.
“We should so shay shomething.”
The Dyelanders and Monica looked, with trepidation, as the two women
virtually slid out of their booth and began to approach them.
“Fan-bloody-tastic,” JenniAnn muttered. “Let's move.”
“No, let's stay. Give them something to think about.” Yva
Adam couldn't help but smile at the impish gleam in her eye.
“Hullo peeps!” The first woman greeted.
“Hello, strange drunk lady,” Rose greeted.
The two broke into a fit of giggles. “We not shoooo drunk,” the
“A picture of sobriety, clearly,” Yva deadpanned.
“Dontcho think you're a lil too old for these girlsh, shir?”
Adam was beginning to mesh with the red booth again. “I, uh...”
“I thought older brothers were supposed to be, well, older,” Yva
“Wha??!? You fam'ly?”
“You bet. Don't you see the resemblance?” She led the group
in a cheesy smile.
“But hesh sho much older... and dere so many of you...”
“What can I say? Dad was so impressed with this one,” she
motioned to Adam, “He decided to keep going.”
Adam burst out laughing and soon the whole table was consumed with
giggles as the drunk women looked on, stunned.
“Your poor mutter...” The first to have approached them shook her
head. “Long time to be preggers.”
“I suppose you could say our Mother is of the same mind as our Father,”
Yva continued. “It's as if they were the very same Person, to be
“Wow... Shorry.” The embarrassment of this intrusion was
dawning on the women despite their drunken haze.
“Easy mistake to make,” Adam finally spoke. “You ladies alright
there? Can I help you back to your booth? Get you some
coffee, maybe? Our treat?”
“Shertainly raised you well. Shuch a gentleman... thank
you. You shingle?” One of the women asked as Adam began to
steer them back to their booth.
“Married to my job,” Adam responded without hesitation.
“He sounds like he's practiced that,” C.J. mused as Adam led the two
fawning women away.
“I'm sure he has. Well done, Yva! That was awesome and
hysterical!” Rose congratulated.
“Best part had to be the whole Mother/Father same Person thing.
Not a lie but not in the least suspicious!” JenniAnn gushed.
Monica laughed. “It was really wonderfully done and I could tell
Adam was put at ease. It's too bad Andrew wasn't here to
witness... ah, here he comes. And, Adam back, too.”
“They'll be right over with our drinks. What was going on over
here? When I looked over I saw you had visitors.” Andrew
looked curiously at his friends as he and Adam reclaimed their seats.
Adam blushed. “Debra and Michaela, they told me. Apparently
they felt I was too old to be in this group and made it known to
us.” He smiled at Yva then. “But they were straightened out
by Yva here.”
Yva beamed. “I merely explained to them the dynamics of our
Andrew chuckled. “I'm surprised that
didn't take longer.”
A waiter approached with a tray of drinks which Andrew passed
out. Adam purchased two coffees for their newfound friends and
the group resumed chatting. It was some time before anyone looked
back at the table where Adam's hecklers-turned-admirers sat.
“They ordered more drinks?” he asked, aghast, as a waiter set two
martinis in front of them.
“I don't think so. Look, the waiter is pointing to...”
Andrew went silent and pale.
“Is that the fellow, Andrew?” Monica asked.
Andrew nodded, still staring at Alex where he stood in a dark suit,
coyly waving to the two women.
“I think we should offer Debra and Michaela a ride home. Now,”
Adam suggested as Alex strode around the dance floor, headed towards
them. The angel hurried over to the table.
“What if they won't go?” Rose asked as the group gathered their things.
“We can't make them,” Andrew reminded.
“If Adam goes, they'll go. Trust me on this, Andrew,” Yva
encouraged. She'd not been oblivious to the stares and giggles
coming from that table after Debra and Michaela had visited with Adam.
“Praise be to God for crushes.” JenniAnn couldn't help but giggle
as she watched Debra and Michaela flirt unmercifully with Adam who
diligently stayed focused on the task at hand and helped gather their
coats and purses. However, her levity was short lived.
“We have to get out of here. Now.” Beth tilted her head to
where Alex stood, staring at Andrew. Andrew had noticed and the
two men's eyes locked. Andrew's simmering, Alex's suspicious.
“Out we go. Go, go, go,” Monica directed, alarmed by the look on
C.J. grabbed his arm and in a huddle the group hurried after Adam,
Debra, and Michaela.
Adam and Monica had seen Debra and Michaela safely home while Andrew
drove the others back to the cabin.
“Where's Adam and Angel Girl?” Tess asked after greeting them.
“They took a couple ladies who had imbibed a little too much home,” Yva
Tess rolled her eyes then smiled. “I'm glad they did so although
I always wonder why someone would do that to their self. Thank
the Father they had some angels looking out for them.”
“We weren't the only ones watching them,” Andrew muttered as he hung up
“What's that, baby?”
“Alex was there. He sent them drinks and was going to approach
them. That's when Adam intervened.”
Tess clucked her tongue. “I have to admit I didn't think he'd act
Andrew shrugged. “There's no understanding him, Tess. Who
can understand a cold-blooded murderer? Who can understand how
someone could...” The angel was suddenly aware that the five
women were looking at him with grave concern. He shook his
head. “I think I just need to get some sleep.”
Andrew hugged each of his friends good night, holding them for a moment
longer than usual and then bounded up the steps and to his room.
“T-tess,” Rose looked at the angel with tears in her eyes, “what can we
Tess pulled the youngest woman into a bear hug. “Be his friend,
baby. Love him like you always have. We'll all get him
Andrew readied for bed with haste. He felt some regret for
hurrying away but it was for the best. If he could just get some
sleep then maybe by the morning his emotions would be easier to keep in
check and his friends' less prone to worry.
To help him get to sleep, Andrew popped one of his myriad mixed CDs
into the player he'd found in his room. This particular one had
been masterminded by JenniAnn and began with a slow-paced,
Irish-influenced lullaby with a calming melody. Andrew hit the
Loop button and settled into bed, Lulu snuggled beside him.
The theme of the song had intrigued Andrew from the first time he'd
heard it. In the first verse a woman recalled being lulled to
sleep by her guardian angel. However, by the third verse, the
roles seemed to have reversed. Now it was her singing to
him. Or her. There was nothing that implied the angel was
necessarily male. Andrew had just assumed that to be the case.
The second verse started. Andrew realized he hadn't paid much
attention to it before but right then the words rang out clearly:
Why has my angel gone from me?
The moon I fear and the stars fall on me.
I won't close my eyes 'til the morning light.
Oh, bring on the sun I cannot rest tonight.
Andrew tossed and turned. Why was the woman losing sleep?
Where did the angel go? What was wrong with him? Why
couldn't he see what he was doing to her?
Why couldn't he see what he was doing to them?
The angel of death got out of bed and threw on a robe over his flannel
pajamas. Lulu sidled after him. He crept down the stairs
and into the hallway where the ladies' bedrooms were. He must
have listened to that song more times than he realized. All the
lights were off as if everyone had fallen asleep. Only one room
had light shining from beneath its door. He thought it was
JenniAnn's and knocked softly.
Once she'd opened the door Andrew found himself looking in on what
appeared to be a slumber party although that was hardly the right
term. All five of the ladies were there along with Adam.
None of them looked to be in a party mood.
“Hey, umm, what's going on?” Andrew asked as JenniAnn moved to allow he
and the dog in.
“Couldn't sleep,” Rose and Beth answered in unison.
“It seems to be a common problem.” Adam waved at an empty chair
which Andrew took. “The ladies told me you went to your room as
soon as you got back. They think maybe you need to talk about
something but won't.”
“I wasn't sure where to start.” Andrew hesitated before adding,
“Or if to.”
Yva shook her head. “Andrew, I'm not going to watch you close
yourself off again. I'm just not going to do it. So if this
is how it's going to be this whole time... I need to know that right
“I know. When I was trying to get to sleep I realized that I was
doing more harm than good but, you know, sometimes I can just barely
face things myself. So to talk about them... to tell all of
you. I don't know what to do sometimes.” Andrew rested his
head in his hands.
“Well, let's start with this,” Beth began. “What made tonight so
difficult? Was it seeing Alex again?”
Andrew shrugged. “That wasn't pleasant but it was more than
that. It was... a comparison.”
“A comparison? Between who? Or what?” JenniAnn looked
curiously at the angel as she held Fawn on her lap.
“Between Alex and me.”
Rose had been sipping tea and nearly dropped the cup. “Wh-what?”
“What comparison could there possibly be?” C.J. covered.
“I don't mean a similarity. Or maybe I do. I just
mean... I guess I started to feel it when we were dancing and
talking.” Lulu had hopped onto Andrew's lap and he distractedly
“It? What's 'it'?” Adam questioned.
“The trust and the love and the... well, the commitment. I mean
we're all friends so it's a different sort of thing but once Dawn
looked up at Alex with all of that. Once he held her in his arms
as they danced. And once she was in love with him. He knew
that. He knew
that. And he still killed her!” Andrew cried.
“Andrew, you can't try to make sense of Alex's actions, especially by
comparing them to your own,” Adam counseled. “You can't make
sense of evil and you... you especially can't understand that level of
“I know. I'm not trying to understand him. I won't and I
can't. But when I look at all of you,” he indicated the ladies,
“and I see that love and that trust in your eyes and I think of the
times I've done things to harm that trust and I remember that look in your eyes... I
could almost feel it myself. That sadness, disappointment, and
betrayal... some version of that is what was in Dawn's heart as she
left this world.”
There was silence for a moment before Andrew spoke again. “I,” he
glanced at Adam, “we have seen so many crimes committed. So many
murders. Some that weren't even that different from this
one. They have never been easy but now it's like they're getting
more and more difficult to handle.” Andrew looked to the elder
angel of death. “Aren't they or is it just...”
“It's not just you,” Adam answered the question before Andrew could
finish it, the response coming too easily.
“All this time you were afraid your emotions would hurt us,” JenniAnn
began. “Could it be that after all these years of minding ours...
they've made life more difficult for you?”
Andrew opened his mouth to protest but Yva was already speaking.
“Every little misstep you've both made, you wanted to know what we felt
so you could make it better. So we told you how we felt about
those little betrayals. Now, in your mind, you multiply that
countless times over and you know in a way you couldn't before what
Dawn felt and what others like her felt,” Yva hypothesized.
“That's it, isn't it?”
Andrew and Adam looked at each other. Of course that was it but
what could be done about it?
“I think it is,” Adam agreed. “But it also makes us better
angels. And if this has made what we do more difficult then it's
also given us even more encouragement. Nothing needs to
change. But it is good to recognize.”
“Andrew? Do you feel at all better having said this?” Rose
looked with concern at him.
Andrew brushed at some lingering tears but smiled. “I do.
Thank you.” He yawned then.
“Let's let the ladies get some sleep now. I wouldn't mind the
same myself.” Adam stood and everyone followed suit, hugging him
and Andrew as they said their good nights.
Before the two angels of death had left the room, C.J. called to
them. “Wait. I just think you should know... Andrew,
maybe that pain and betrayal weren't the last things Dawn felt.
She had you and she had God. The same for all of your
assignments.” She looked at Adam, too.
Moved, the two angels of death only smiled and nodded and continued
their walk to their rooms.
Tuesday, January 20th
“I'll have to check with Vincent but somehow I don't think this is what
Rilke had in mind when he wrote the line 'Every angel is
terrifying.' Yet... it's what I feel now.” JenniAnn was
staring out the window of her temporary room the next morning.
Now it was populated only by Beth, C.J., Rose, Yva, herself, and the
Rose stepped to the window. “They're laughing. That's a
good sign, right?”
“I dunno,” JenniAnn answered.
“Tess must have had a reason to send just Andrew and Monica grocery
shopping,” Yva encouraged as she passed around a box of chocolate Willy
had sent them.
Beth looked up from the recipe book she had found in the kitchen.
“Monica can't possibly rebuild the emotional walls in one shopping trip
that we've spent years chipping away.”
“Has anyone spoken much to her?” C.J. asked.
“Just a lil chit-chat about coffee at breakfast,” JenniAnn
answered. “Anyone else?”
Rose thought. “Oh, she did say a little at the club. While
you were dancing. She, uh...” Rose began to regret
“Oh geez. What?” JenniAnn pressed.
“Well, we told her about how upset Andrew was and she said something
about how she remembered him sometimes getting like that when they
worked together,” Yva recalled.
“So she did notice? Fantastic! And then?” JenniAnn
looked excitedly from one friend to another.
“She asked about Eliot.”
Crestfallen, JenniAnn looked at Rose as if she'd just said Monica had
launched into a lecture on mitochondrial DNA. “What does he have
to do with anything???”
“That's what we wondered. She just changed the subject.
Asked if you were still dating him. Said something about your
'wee crush' on Andrew. Then when Adam suggested it wasn't exactly
a 'wee crush' she said 'Poor girl,'” C.J. recalled, bracing herself.
JenniAnn looked horrified. “Wait. So I was dancing with
Andrew... which let's just all admit is by no means an unpleasant
experience... Meanwhile, Andrew's been through a hellish ordeal,
seen someone he cared about murdered by her boyfriend... and she's
feeling sympathy for me?!?! Is she insane?”
“Maybe she just didn't want to make too much of Andrew's state with us
there. 'Protect the human,' that sort of thing,” Beth suggested.
“Gah, I hope it's something like that.” JenniAnn took a chocolate
covered cherry from the box Yva pushed to her and then plopped onto her
bed beside Lulu and hugged her.
“So did Andrew say anything to you while you were dancing? Or to
anyone for that matter?” Rose looked to each of her friends.
“Just the 'I'm glad you came, worried about the danger' thing,”
JenniAnn answered. “I don't think we can do anything about
that. He's really stuck on it but... he's not letting it control
him. Anything else?”
“No, same here basically,” Yva added. The other three nodded.
“That's a good sign, right?”
Four nods answered C.J..
“I'll be glad when he's back,” Rose muttered as she continued to stare
at where the red Cadillac had been.
“Oatmeal? Tomato soup?” Monica asked as she eyed the list Tess
“Check and check.”
“Two dozen eggs? 3 heads of lettuce? A bag of fruit?
2 gallons of milk?”
“Check, check, check, and check.”
Monica laughed as she glanced at Andrew.
“What?” he asked, self-conscious. “Is something wrong?”
“Ah no, Andrew. I just forgot how expressive those eye brows of
Andrew blushed but smiled. “So I've been told. I can't say
I've ever noticed.”
“I suppose you wouldn't. I think it's lovely how you've made so
many friends in... well, you know.” Monica smiled knowingly as
they passed another shopper.
Andrew nodded, his face still flushed but his features relaxing.
“They're all great. I love having a group where I feel I
belong. You know, it's not the same as with you and Tess but
something like that and...” He drew his hand through his
hair. “Sometimes I really miss...”
“Ah look, Andrew! Aren't they beautiful? They remind me of
our assignment at Taffy Town.” Monica rushed towards a display of
brightly colored taffy and other candies.
Andrew was dazed for a moment and then smiled as his friend gleefully
began filling a bag with the confection.
“I don't think Tess'll mind if we do a little improvising, do you?”
Andrew chuckled. “I don't think she has much choice.”
Once Monica had filled her bag, the two angels finished off the list
and pushed the cart towards the check-out lanes.
Andrew tensed as they neared. Magazines and newspapers filled the
shelves that divided the cash registers. In black and white
newsprint, Dawn smiled up at him.
Monica was searching her purse for the money Tess had given her but
looked up at Andrew and then at the newspaper. “Andrew?
Would you like to wait outside? I can handle this.”
Andrew looked away from the papers. He smiled sadly and shook his
head. “No, I'm fine. Thank you, though.”
Monica nodded. “Great. Then we can head on back and plan
out the day!” With that she warmly greeted the cashier and began
the check-out process.
After everyone shared a lunch of tomato soup and grilled cheese the
cabin emptied out and the group headed to an art museum.
Andrew had again begun to turn on the idea of his friends going
anywhere near Alex's haunts. However, as he had no reason to
believe Alex to be the artsy type, he'd readily agreed to the
trip. The nine passed through each gallery together. Andrew
sensed that some of them would have hurried through some galleries but
they matched their pace to his, always staying within his line of
sight. Or maybe they were keeping him in theirs, he couldn't be
sure. Either way, he was grateful.
The angel was staring at a Monet that reminded him of the Fields of
Gold when someone tugged on his sleeve. He looked down, expecting
to see one of his friends, and met Robbie's curious gaze.
“You were the guy with the rat stuff yesterday, right?” the boy asked.
Andrew smiled. “Yes, I was.”
“You have a rat?”
Andrew had been looking around to see who Robbie was with but he
couldn't ignore the boy's question, even as he grew concerned.
“Actually, he belongs to a friend of mine. Do you see that very
tall man over there?” Andrew pointed to where Adam stood looking
at a Degas with JenniAnn.
“He's by the lady who helped me find my dad?”
“Yes. Is your dad here with you now?”
Robbie shook his head. “Nope, mommy.”
Andrew sighed with relief. “Where is she?”
“Bathroom. I was supposed to stay with her but...” Robbie
wrinkled his nose. “It's a ladies' room. I shouldn't be in
there. I'm not a lady. I'm a boy.”
Andrew chuckled. “I'm sure your mommy was just worried you'd get
lost. I'll get one of my friends to go tell her you're out here
so she doesn't worry.”
Rose was nearest Andrew and had begun to approach when she heard him
speaking. She hung back so Robbie could speak to him but then
drew nearer when Andrew waved her over.
“Could you please stop in the ladies' room and tell Robbie's mother
that he came out here?”
“Sure,” Rose smiled at Robbie then and headed to the restroom.
“Do you like the rat? What's the rat's name? Is he nice to
pet?” Robbie questioned.
Andrew laughed and led Robbie towards Adam. “I think he's
nice. His name is Terrence. And, yes, he's very soft and
he's very happy when someone pets him. Let's see if Adam can tell
you more about him, okay?”
As Adam greeted Robbie, the boy's mother rushed to them.
“Robbie! You can't just wander away like that! I told you
to wait, young man.”
“See, young man, not a lady. That's a ladies' room,” he pointed
Robbie's mother gave him a Look but couldn't keep from laughing.
“They have a rat, mommy,” Robbie informed his mother in a tone that
suggested a rat was a treasured valuable.
Adam chuckled. “We ran into Robbie and your husband at the pet
store when we were picking out some things for our new rat,” he
explained to Robbie's curious mother.
“Oh! Robbie had mentioned meeting some nice people there.
My name's Lynn Brewer, pleased to meet you.” The woman smiled at
Adam led introductions in a quick manner and then answered myriad
rat-themed questions from Robbie.
“I hope your friend doesn't mind the inquisition. Robbie has
wanted a rat or mouse or hamster for a long time but my husband... not
big on pets,” Lynn confessed to Tess.
“I'm not so fond of those... creatures myself,” Tess responded.
“But your boy sure seems enthralled.”
“I know and I'm afraid our fish just don't cut it. So I do my
best to make it up to him. My husband's on a three day long
business trip so at some point I'm taking Robbie to a petting zoo if
it's not too cold.”
Lynn and Tess took a seat on a bench in the center of the gallery, near
the one Adam and Robbie occupied, and continued to chat. The
others drifted off towards a neighboring, empty gallery.
“It's no coincidence we ended up here. Alex on a business trip
for three days? Right.” Rose shook her head and rolled her
“Back to the dance club?” Monica guessed.
Andrew shook his head. “No, I think we spooked him there.
He'll move on.”
“To where?” JenniAnn looked with concern to a clearly bothered
“I don't know. Like I said before, Dawn was very secretive.
She let the dance club meeting slip once but nothing else.” The
angel of death was again raking his hand through his hair.
“Aw, now, it's okay, Andrew. We'll figure a good place out,”
“We'll talk about it when we get back to the cabin. In the
meantime, let's just be thankful that Robbie and Lynn are away from
Alex for the next three days,” Yva pointed out.
C.J. had poked her head back into the gallery they'd exited. “It
looks like Lynn and Tess have become fast friends and Adam all ready
has Robbie's attention. That's great because if this plan works
out... they'll need all the friends they can get.”
Beth frowned. “No matter what happens, their lives will change
“And they didn't do a thing wrong,” Andrew lamented. “One person
does something terrible and so many people suffer!”
Monica looked sympathetically at Andrew. “It is something we see
far too often. Let's go check on them, don't you think?”
Andrew nodded and followed her while the five women hung back a moment.
“He's not just seeing it, Monica, he's experiencing it,” Rose muttered.
JenniAnn peered after them. “She'll notice more sooner or
later. She has to.”
“I hope so,” Yva agreed. “But for now... let's go back in
Yva led them back into the gallery where Robbie and Lynn were saying
their good byes. Adam and Tess had agreed to stop at their home
the next day with Terrence in tow. Robbie's cheerful anticipation
shone on his face and took some of the sting away from the nine who
knew how much upheaval awaited him.
Later that afternoon, at the cabin, Andrew went into the kitchen to get
a ginger ale. He found Tess sitting at the kitchen table, looking
out at a light, delicate snowfall.
“Tess, are you alright?” he asked.
Tess smiled at him. “Oh yes, Angel Boy. I was just
thinking. Why don't you sit down here and think some things over
“Sure. But first can I get you anything while I'm up?”
Tess shook her head and Andrew sat beside her. He squeezed her
hand and then looked expectantly at her.
“Andrew, I never got to talk to you this morning. How was your
grocery trip with Monica?”
Andrew shrugged. “It was... full of groceries.” He
smiled. “We had fun. We even got a little nostalgic about
the old days. I do miss them sometimes, Tess.”
“I know, baby. I do, too. But right now I'm concerned that
maybe those 'good old days' weren't always so good... for you.”
Andrew raised an eye brow and grimaced. “I'm not sure what you
mean. Sure there were some really difficult assignments.
People... people can do some hideous things to each other but at least
we dealt with that together. Like we are now. And now we
have the girls with us, too.”
Tess beamed at Andrew. “That we do. I'm so pleased the
Father brought you so many friends, Andrew.”
Andrew looked embarrassed for a moment and looked down at the
table. “You know, I used to worry that maybe you wouldn't approve
of Dyeland and things there.”
Tess set a finger under the angel of death's chin and raised his head
until his eyes met hers. “Angel Boy, I approve of anything that
makes you smile like I've seen you smile there.”
Andrew was startled by her tender response and could only respond with
just such a smile.
“Well, you seem much more relaxed than last night. I thought I
might have to drag you down those steps.” Adam tilted his head
towards the staircase outside Andrew's door.
Andrew chuckled. “Tess would have loved that.”
“I suppose I'm a little more comfortable with an Irish pub than a dance
club myself. Was this Monica's idea?”
“No. I was glancing through the paper and saw an advertisement of
theirs that read 'First drink free for the colleens on
Tuesdays!' And if I saw it maybe Alex saw it and... We're
going to make sure none of those 'colleens' leaves with him.”
Adam didn't miss his friend's determined gaze. “We will.”
Andrew grabbed his coat and then softly pet Lulu's head as she
slept. He glanced down at the photo of he and Dawn on the
dresser, touched it briefly, and then followed Adam down the stairs.
Monica sighed contentedly as she sipped her free Irish cream flavored
coffee. Alex had not shown up during the dinner hour or
afterwards and the entire group felt more peaceful than they had since
arriving in Missouri. The happy families, enamored couples, and
giddy friends that filled the pub made it difficult to stay morose for
long. If that weren't enough to brighten anyone's mood, a small
band played a spirited jig in the far corner.
“So then I look out my window and there's this bearded dude, all
dressed in black, just hanging around! I was freaking out... and
on my birthday of all days! But then he starts pacing... and his
hand brushes through his hair and...” JenniAnn stopped and sighed
dreamily at the recollection.
“And that is how Andrew became Amish Boy,” Rose explained to Monica and
Yva smiled at the memory. “Andrew looked very nice with his
beard. Although I think we were all glad he started wearing his
normal clothes after that.”
Andrew chuckled. “You and me both. I missed my jeans during
“It sounds as if you've all had a great deal of fun. I think it's
lovely that everything has gone so well.” Monica smiled and took
another sip of her coffee.
“There have been many challenges but we get through them.
Together,” Beth added.
“I can tell.” Monica smiled at the group. “So tell me more
about your adventures.”
“Adam was Santa Claus at a store this past Christmas and a truly
wonderful one!” Yva gushed.
“But we'd actually seen him all dressed for the part at
Halloween. That was a great holiday celebration, too.” C.J.
smiled at the memory of Andrew as a scarecrow and their frantically
amusing shopping trip.
“Taylor's visited a couple times. It was great to see him
again.” Andrew smiled as he remembered his fellow angel's
amazement upon seeing Dyeland decked out for Christmas. “Monica,
you're welcome to come visit any time. Even if I'm not there or
Tess or Adam or Henry, I know anyone would be happy to show you around
since a lot has changed since you've been there.”
The Dyelanders exchanged nervous glances as they waited for Monica's
response. But before the angel could speak, someone approached
Adam noticed the newcomer first. “Danny, what are you...”
“We're here for the funeral Friday. Nadia and I just got here and
we hadn't eaten since breakfast and Dawn used to bring Nadia here
so...” Nadia's husband shuffled uncomfortably.
“So Nadia is here?” Andrew looked around for her.
“She ducked into the bathroom when she saw you. Listen, she's
really upset with you right now and maybe that's not right but...”
Andrew became especially intent on folding his napkin.
“She just really can't see you right now,” Danny finished.
“Babies, I think it's time we leave,” Tess announced.
“I'm sorry,” Danny mumbled. “I don't mean to be...”
“Your wife is grieving, we understand. We'll settle the bill and
leave,” Yva promised.
Danny nodded, his gaze averted, and left them. The group
hurriedly gathered their things as Adam and JenniAnn settled the
bill. Once that was done they joined the others outside, huddled
by the cars. All of them except Andrew.
“He's in the van already,” Rose answered the unasked question.
“Adam, baby, do you think you could drive it back? I don't think
“Sure, Tess.” Adam readily agreed and accepted the keys that C.J.
held out to him. “Everyone going in the same cars they came in?”
“I think that would be best,” Tess answered.
Monica waved and smiled sadly at the darkened passenger window of the
van before getting into the Cadillac. Tess followed suit.
“We'll see you back at the cabin. Drive safe, baby, and... tell
Andrew there's a hug waiting for him.” There were tears in Tess'
eyes as she hugged Adam.
Once Monica had started the caddy, Adam waved towards the van.
The Dyelanders got in quietly and Adam took the driver's seat.
“How are you doing?” he asked his fellow angel of death.
Andrew stared out the front window and at the pub. “I'm sorry
that everyone had to rush out of there because of me.”
“Andrew... no. It was not because of you. It's a mistaken
belief that Nadia has and we left so she could feel as much peace as
possible in her time of grief,” Beth stressed.
“Exactly. But it was not because we believe at all that she's
right.” Yva was in the seat behind Andrew and patted his
Andrew forced a smile and nodded. “I know. Thank you all.”
“Do you think you might need to talk about what happened?” Rose checked.
Andrew nodded. “I know I should but right now I'm just very
tired. Adam here's a smooth driver so I think maybe I'll just
rest if that's okay?”
“Of course it's okay. Rest well, Andrew,” JenniAnn answered as
the others echoed her.
Adam drove off as Andrew drifted to sleep.
After they reached the cabin, Andrew woke up just long enough to assure
himself that everyone was safely back and reasonably well in the wake
of the confrontation at the pub. Once that was accomplished he
quickly joined Lulu who was still sleeping where he'd left her.
It wasn't long before the others followed suit and turned into their
own rooms. However, sleep didn't come for everyone.
Monica made her way to the kitchen for a clandestine cup of late night
coffee and was surprised to find JenniAnn there.
“Well, hello. I thought everyone else was asleep.”
“I was,” JenniAnn answered, “but I couldn't stay asleep and when that
happens... I clean.” She held up the rag she was wiping down
“I'm sorry you couldn't sleep. I can't imagine how all of you are
coping. Would you like to talk about it?” the angel offered.
JenniAnn looked at Monica with caution. She did feel she needed
to talk but also knew that Monica was the last person in the cabin she
felt comfortable talking to. She continued to clean. “I
dunno,” she muttered.
Monica decided she would help the woman along. “I know it must be
very difficult to be away from your home and then to know that an old
friend is so very upset and in pain.”
“I can handle being away from home when among friends but, yes, it is
difficult to see them upset. And... especially him.”
JenniAnn set down the rag and turned towards Monica.
“Andrew. Who were you talking about?”
JenniAnn did a double take. “Well, yes, I feel terrible for Nadia
but she's barely kept contact for two years. We tried to console
her, to pray with her but she shut us out. I guess now I'm a
little more concerned about Andrew being told to 'stay the hell away'
and then being treated like he's... he's the plague. And...”
“What is it? I'm a good listener and you can tell me whatever you
like and know I would not share it with the others.” Monica
“Then why don't you listen to him?” JenniAnn muttered.
“Why don't you listen to Andrew?!?! Why don't you see
Andrew?!?! See him for who he really is, I mean!?!? Why are
you down here trying to get me to talk when he's tried to get you to
come visit with him and you won't?!?! I'm not your friend,
Monica! He is!” JenniAnn cried, hoping the sound wouldn't travel
to the second floor or, worse even, the third.
Monica reached out for the hysterical young woman. “Shhh,
there. It's okay. I know you care for Andrew and seeing him
like this must hurt you deeply but...”
JenniAnn pulled away, concern over the noise forgotten. “Stop
it!!!! Stop it right now! I won't hear another word about
my being hurt. Think about this, Monica! Andrew has just
seen someone he came to care about murdered. One of his friends,
someone he loves, then said terrible things about him. And he
just keeps getting emotionally pummeled and... have you asked him if he
wanted to talk?”
Monica was stunned. She hadn't expected an outburst directed at
her. “A-Andrew's an angel. I know he'll be fine.”
“Fine? He is NOT fine!!!”
“He is fine!” Monica insisted, her voice raising also.
“How can you say that?!? How can you believe that?!? He's
hurting, Monica!” JenniAnn paced back and forth along the
counter, unable to even look at Monica. “He's not... he's not
“Then why doesn't he tell me? What doesn't he let me know when
he's upset? He never has!” the angel shouted.
“He shouldn't have to! How many times when you worked with him
did you go check on him after a troubling occurrence? And how
many times did he check on you? And did you ask him to or did he
just do it?”
Monica sat down on a kitchen chair, her head spinning. “I suppose
I didn't very often and he did... very often... without my
asking. But he was older and he'd been at the caseworking thing
long before me. I... I thought he'd get through whatever came to
pass. I... I needed to believe he would.”
JenniAnn felt a stirring of sympathy seeing Monica's discomfort and
took a seat across from her, lowering her voice. “Don't think
that it's any where in my mind that if we're not around Andrew will...
will fall or go AWOL. It's not that. I know he won't do
that. But here's what he will do. He will go off
alone. Maybe he'll deal with his emotions, maybe he won't.
He will carry on with his assignments because he is a devoted servant
of God. And he will be happy... when He's home. But when
he's here? I've seen what can happen here and... it frightens
me. It... nearly tore us all apart.”
“I remember Tess mentioning that to me. About two years
ago?” Monica traced the grain of the table as she asked,
struggling to accept all of this.
“Yes. And I still think Andrew would have eventually pulled
through, even without us. But maybe without the memory that there
were people willing to fight for him. And we were, Monica.
And that... that can be a very powerful thing. And I pray to God
that I, and all my friends here, can always do that. But when
Nadia...” JenniAnn drifted off.
“I'm afraid I do not know much of what their friendship was,” Monica
confessed. “I'm beginning to think there is a lot I don't know.”
For a moment the frustration fell away from JenniAnn and she smiled
wistfully. “There's a tree in Dyeland. Nadia and I went to
it shortly after Andrew showed up. We were seventeen and
completely goofy and... I carved 'JenniAnn Hearts Andrew Forever'
into it. Nadia thought he'd appreciate French a little more so
she wrote 'J'aime Andrew. XO Nadia.” Or something like
that. I barely remember French. In any case, I don't think
Andrew ever saw the tree. But I know it's there. And I know
that while I may choose my words differently now... I do still agree
with what I wrote. More even than I did at the time.”
“I'm sure Andrew appreciates that,” Monica encouraged.
“I hope so... and I don't. Because... Nadia doesn't feel that any
more. And I don't mean I begrudge her love for Danny. I
don't. God knows Andrew never wanted anyone to fall in love with
him and so he's perfectly content when they fall out of love and move
on. He's still there, friends forever. Until the other
person breaks that bond, as Nadia has done. When things get
rocky, like they are now, I want to promise him that I will listen
forever and that I will love him forever, no matter what.”
JenniAnn looked distant for a moment, traveling back to that terrible
phone conversation two nights before. “But I'm human. My
family and most of my friends are. And I can't guarantee that in
grief and panic and with a broken heart I might not say things...
terrible things to Andrew. Like Nadia who once loved him as I
do. But you... you're different, Monica. And I just... I
need to know you'll be there when we can't be. And even when we
can be there... one friend is not interchangeable for another with
Andrew. He misses you. And even though I know we don't get
along so well... I can see a lot of why he does care about you so
much.” She gave Monica a melancholy smile and then stood up.
“You've given me a lot to think about,” Monica murmured.
JenniAnn nodded. “And I'm sorry if any of it came out more
angrily than it should have. But I am tired. And I am
worried. And there is much I don't understand. Maybe we can
talk again, more calmly, in the morning?”
Monica forced a smile. “I would like that.”
“Great. Good night, Monica.”
“Good night, JenniAnn.”
Monica watched her leave the room. She stood up and pulled
something from her pocket: the watch Andrew had given her. She
sat it on the table and stared at it as the conversation whirled
through her mind.
Wednesday, January 21st
“It's been nearly a week since the body of Dawn Seywell was found and
the police still have no leads. Ms. Seywell was last seen when
she left her workplace, St. Peregrine's Hospice, on Friday at 5:00
P.M. Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's
office,” the newscaster finished.
Adam clicked off the TV after the segment ended. “Why are you
watching this, buddy?”
Andrew shrugged. “I'm going to think about it either way and I
guess I hoped maybe something would have been found over night. I
don't know what I thought it would be. Alex was meticulous and...”
The TV flicked back on. The two angels of death looked at it
“We're going back to Randall now who is stationed outside the home of
murder victim Dawn Seywell's mother. We've learned that the
sheriff has just arrived at the home. Randall, tell us what's
Andrew and Adam watched as footage of a sheriff approaching the house
rolled. They looked on angrily as Dawn's mother appeared and the
porch was swarmed by reporters while she tried to let the sheriff in.
“Back off, get out of here!” the officer shouted.
“Do you have any new leads?” a reporter called.
“Mrs. Seywell, do you have anything you would say to your daughter's
“Is it true that Dawn was having an affair with a married man?”
The camera caught an image of Dawn's mother looking stricken just
before the sheriff pulled the door closed. Randall said something
inane and then the newscast moved onto a story about a product
recall. Adam again turned the TV off.
Yva had walked in just as the questioning had begun.
“Disgusting,” she hissed. “That poor woman doesn't need the press
bullying her. But... how would they know about the affair?”
Andrew drew in a deep breath, trying to quell the indignation he
felt. “It was a rumor around the hospice. Because Dawn was
so secretive, some of the more gossip-inclined people had their
theories. I imagine they told their friends and from
there... Unfortunately, none of them were developed enough to
help the police... just add fuel to the fire for the media.”
Adam shook his head. “Do you think it will bother Alex now that
the theory's public?”
Andrew sighed. “No. Alex knows there's not a shred of
traceable physical evidence connecting him to Dawn. Any gifts he
gave her, he paid for with cash. And even if they could find some
DNA or prints at her place, he's not in the system. And now...
he's had one night to begin his terrible game again. Lives are
destroyed and he's out there worry-free and confident.”
Yva and Adam watched with concern as Andrew buried his face in his
“Tess sent me to tell you two breakfast is ready. Andrew, please
come. You need to keep your strength up.” The woman smiled
encouragingly at the angel and patted his shoulder. “It's French
toast,” she bribed.
Andrew nodded and then met Yva's gaze and smiled. “You all take
such good care of me.”
“Of course. I wouldn't want to get scolded by Tess for taking bad
care of you. So I think I'll stick with this. I'm sure the
others will, too.”
Adam chuckled at Yva's response. He felt some relief as Andrew
began to laugh, too.
“Okay, let's go before we get scolded for being late.” Andrew
stood up and followed Adam and Yva into the kitchen.
“There you are, Angel Boys. I haven't seen you all morning.
Is everything okay?” Tess set down the pan she was holding and
looked at them, searching their faces.
Adam frowned. “Andrew was watching the news. I tried to
turn it off because I didn't think it could do any good but the Father
must have thought otherwise because it came back.”
“Oh?” Tess looked expectantly at Andrew.
Shoulders slumped, Andrew sunk into a chair. “The media is
hounding Dawn's mother. Don't they think she has enough to deal
“I can tell you the Father most assuredly knows that woman is carrying
a lot of grief right now.” Tess patted Andrew's shoulder as she
sat a stack of French toast in front of him.
“Thanks, Tess. So did the Father tell you what we could do for
her? I know I'm supposed to meet with her but I haven't been told
when.” Andrew looked hopefully at his former supervisor.
“Before you came we were just talking about that. As you know,
Adam and I are meeting with Robbie and Lynn Brewer,” Tess began.
“Terrence, too,” Adam piped up.
Tess rolled her eyes but nodded. “While we're doing that, you,
Beth, C.J., Yva, and Rose will pay Raquel, Dawn's mother, a visit.”
“Okay...” Andrew noticed then that JenniAnn and Monica were both
intently stirring their cups of coffee. “And JenniAnn and Monica?”
“JenniAnn and Monica have... volunteered,” Tess beamed at them, “to go
shopping for décor for the new bedroom.”
Rose's stifled giggle made Andrew and Adam guess that “volunteered” was
Tess-speake for “strongly urged to on pain of Tess-dispensed
Andrew knew better than to comment. “New bedroom? Is
someone else coming?” He sipped his orange juice and surveyed the
table. Everyone but Tess shrugged.
“Yes, baby. Dawn told her mother about you. Raquel trusts
you. That's why she's going to agree when you and the other
babies offer to let her stay here to escape the media,” Tess explained,
finally sitting down. "That woman should not be alone right now and we're
going to see to it that she's not."
“Tess, isn't that going to make it a little difficult to trail
Alex? Are we still doing that? This is great, by the
way.” Adam gave Tess his best appreciative smile before taking
another bite of French toast.
“Well, thank you. Beth and Rose helped so I can't take all the
credit. And, yes, you will go out tonight to try and deter
Alex. I'll stay with Raquel. She won't think anything
strange about some young people going out for a night on the town.”
“Young being extremely relative?” Adam questioned with a wink.
Tess laughed. “You're only as old as you feel, baby. You
know that. And knowing you as I do I'm going to guess that's
fourteen years old for you.”
Beth laughed. “You know him well.”
“No fair gaining up on me,” Adam protested with a grin.
The banter put Andrew at ease and soon everyone was excitedly plotting
out their day.
The group dispersed shortly after breakfast. Monica dropped Adam
and Tess off at the Brewer residence and then headed to the mall with
JenniAnn. As directed, Andrew, C.J., Beth, Yva, and Rose drove
off in the mini-van and headed to Raquel Seywell's home.
As they began the near hour-long ride, Yva reported on a recent phone
conversation she'd had with Willy. Rose relayed some well-wishes
and advice from Mick. They all laughed as they imagined Tess
looking on nervously as Adam showed off Terrence, all too aware of the
ever-present threat of the mischievous angel plopping the rat down onto
her lap. When the conversation finally hit a lull, Rose asked the
question that was one everyone's mind.
“Andrew, how are you doing with what happened last night?”
Andrew glanced quickly at his passengers as he stopped at a red
light. “I guess I'm not sure. I haven't thought much about
it, I mean. I really was tired last night. It happens
sometimes.” He smiled sheepishly and started driving again.
“That's okay. We're just glad you did sleep since you needed
to. We want you to talk to us when you need to but we don't want
you to push yourself to do it,” Yva stressed.
“I know. And I did plan on talking to everyone before breakfast
but then I turned on the news and that... that was just a whole new
concern. But I have been thinking about Nadia. More than
anything I feel like I failed with her.”
“Andrew, you can't break the rules and save people like some sort of
crime-fighting superhero. That's not a failure, it's just a
fact. We know that and, deep down, so does Nadia.”
“Thanks, Beth. You think so?”
“I do,” she assured.
“And maybe one day she'll know that you came back here because you
wanted to do everything you could to save others from Dawn's fate, in
honor of her,” C.J. added.
Andrew nodded but then frowned. It was obvious there was still
something he would not or could not say.
“Andrew, what is it? Can you tell us? You can pull over if
you need to,” Rose suggested.
Andrew turned into an empty lot. “It's not that I don't want to
tell you or can't. It's just... there's a question I get asked
pretty often by the assignments that learn who I am. And lately
I've found myself asking it. And it's not an easy question.
And I don't know the answer.”
“Then I'm sure we don't but sometimes confusion can be a really strong
“Beth's right. Whatever it is, if you think it will make it
easier for you if you voice it, I hope you will, Andrewkins.”
Yva's pet name wore at the last of the angel's reserve. “Why are
some people spared and others aren't? Why was I sent to take Dawn
Home and to try to save the next person? Why couldn't I be sent
to save Dawn?” Andrew's voice cracked. “Even if Nadia does
find out that I... we
came back to get justice for Dawn, to bring some peace to her mother,
and to protect someone else... how can I answer her if she asks why
Dawn didn't get that protection?”
It was a question that had daunted humans for all time and in that
moment found voice in one of their protectors.
Beth had been right. There was only confusion. No one could
answer Andrew except for the Father and the answer was not forthcoming.
“I'll admit I had the same thought,” Rose admitted first.
“Me too,” C.J. added. “I think we all did. But I think we
often do and it's the sort of question that has no real answer.
At least not in this world.”
“I guess I thought maybe you, Adam, Tess, etc. knew the
reasoning. But I guess you don't so now you just have to do what
“What's that, Yva?” Andrew blinked back tears.
“Be glad and grateful for the time the help does come and pray for
peace and understanding when it doesn't,” she answered. "And
remember that God loves you, no matter what."
Andrew nodded and then glanced upward and did exactly that. His
answer came not in words but in the memory of Raquel's tormented face
splashed across the TV screen. This was a time when help could
come for her and Andrew was determined to bring it as he glided back
onto the road.
Tess looked on with pride as Adam patiently answered yet more questions
from Robbie about Terrence who was currently snuggled into the boy's
shirt pocket. The angel and the boy were putting together a
puzzle and Robbie was clearly enjoying himself. Tess looked
across the coffee table to Lynn who watched them, her eyes misty.
“Are you okay, baby?” Tess checked, producing a handkerchief from her
Lynn forced a smile. “Oh, yes. It's just so good to see
Robbie so happy. My husband... he's not very good about spending
time with him, I'm afraid. He spends so much time focused on work
and... I'm sorry to be going on like this when we've only just
“Don't you worry a bit about that. Ol' Tess is a good listener
and happy to be so.” She patted Lynn's arm in a motherly way.
Lynn drew in a deep breath. “It's not just that he doesn't have
much time for us. Alex... sometimes he... I mean he doesn't
hit Robbie. Or me. Please don't think that. But he
can get so angry and scream so at Robbie...”
“Lynn, abuse comes in many forms. It's not just physical.”
“I... I have thought about divorce but my own parents split when I was
five and I can remember crying myself to sleep and feeling...
lost. I don't want to do that to my little boy.” Lynn began
to cry full force and left the room for fear of alarming Robbie.
“Tell me this, Lynn. Does Robbie seem happier when his father is
in town or out of town?”
Lynn peeked around the corner and looked at Adam and Robbie.
Robbie was giggling as Terrence's whiskers tickled his chin. His
mother smiled through her tears. “I think it's obvious.
Even yesterday he smiled so much more than when his dad's around.”
“Then I think it's obvious what you need to do, baby. God loves
you and that little boy so much! He doesn't want you to live your
lives in fear.”
Lynn nodded. “My brother already said we could stay with him in
Kansas until I got my own place. I have saved up a little money.”
“Is there anything we can do to help?”
“I'm not sure what I need right now,” Lynn admitted.
Tess drew a piece of paper out of her purse. “This is where we
are and this is our number. You call there or stop by when you
need to, okay?”
Lynn accepted the paper and fell into Tess' waiting hug.
Andrew knocked lightly on the now-familiar door to Raquel Seywell's
home. At least now there were no reporters around. He'd had
some concern about video of himself and the ladies making it onto the
news for everyone, Alex included, to see. He thanked God that it
wouldn't be a problem.
After a moment the door opened a crack, the chain still locked.
Raquel peered out and stared at Andrew, a flash of recognition in her
“Andrew?” she asked in a raspy voice.
“Uh, yes,” Andrew responded. He was surprised to be
recognized. “And some of my friends. I worked with Dawn and
I just wanted to come see how you were.”
Raquel unlocked the chain and ushered them in. No sooner was
everyone inside than she had Andrew in a bear hug. The angel
remained surprised by the outburst of affection but embraced the
The Dyelanders looked on curiously. C.J. noticed the photo
first. On a desk covered with floral arrangements and candles,
there was the framed photo of Dawn and Andrew in their wretched bowling
“I'm sorry. I've startled you, young man. And your
friends,” Raquel smiled through her tears at each of her guests.
“No, no a hug's always nice, Mrs. Seywell,” Andrew smiled. “But I
just don't know how you recognized me. We never had the pleasure
“Raquel, please. I know we never met but I feel like I know
you. Here. Dawn gave me this the last... the last time I
saw her.” Raquel picked up the photograph and handed it to the
Andrew smiled sadly at the familiar snapshot. “We had a lot of
fun that day.”
“I know. Dawn told me. But, please, introduce me to your
friends and have a seat.”
Andrew did as asked and took a seat on the couch beside Raquel once his
friends were comfortable.
“I wanted to come because I was Dawn's counselor at the hospice.
My friends came because... because they're great friends and knew I
could use the support.” Andrew smiled at his friends.
Raquel smiled kindly at the four women and then looked back to
Andrew. “Dawn's supervisor told me you took what happened quite
hard. I'd been hoping you would pay me a visit. Because,
Andrew, I just want you to know...” She began to tear up.
“I've worried for a long time about Dawn. She became determined
to work with hospice patients ever since my second husband, the man who
raised her, died of cancer ten years ago.”
“Andrew told us Dawn was amazing with the patients,” Yva told Raquel.
Raquel nodded, motherly pride writ across his face. “Oh, she
was. But... I could tell the work was sometimes hard for
her. She didn't talk much about it but... a mother knows
things. But when Andrew came... she talked to you, didn't she?”
Andrew smiled at the memory of their conversations. Dawn had such
passion in her voice as she spoke about her work. “She did and it
was a privilege to spend that time with her.”
“She visited me a few times while you were working there. She
seemed so much lighter and happier... more peaceful than I'd seen her
in a very long time. And I... I can't imagine what my little girl
went through in her final moments but I know in my heart that her last
days were so much more peaceful than they had been and I have you to
thank for that, Andrew. So I do thank you, from the bottom of my
heart.” Raquel was sobbing then and Andrew readily hugged her as
she cried into his shoulder.
“I'm sorry,” Raquel choked out after a few moments.
Andrew shook his head. “You have nothing to be sorry about,
Raquel. It's good to cry when you're hurting and you've been
through so much.”
Raquel grabbed a tissue and dried her face. “I wanted to meet you
so much because I felt like, if I could, then maybe I'd feel some of
that peace Dawn did in knowing you. And... I do.”
Tears flooded Andrew's eyes then. That single declaration made
every hardship since he'd returned to Missouri worthwhile. “Thank
you,” he murmured.
“No, thank you, Andrew. Because I'll take every little bit of
peace I can get. Lately it's not been easy.” Raquel's eyes
hardened as she looked out the window to where the reporters had
“Andrew and I saw what happened on the news,” Yva began, “we're all
very sorry you had to experience that when you're already grieving your
“I know that publicity increases the chances of finding Dawn's murderer
and, oh, I need that. I need to know no other mother will be
grieving her lost child. But... the questions and the
insinuations...” Raquel shuddered.
“I know. About that...” Andrew clasped one of Raquel's hands in
his. “I know you've only just met us but we, and a few other
friends, are staying about an hour from here. We have an extra
room and we thought maybe you might like to stay there. I know
this probably seems odd but...”
Raquel again began to cry.
Andrew was alarmed and looked pleadingly at his friends but they, too,
were at a loss for words. “I... I'm sorry. That was
probably too abrupt and...”
Raquel shook her head and smiled through her tears. “No, you
don't understand. I'm not upset with your invitation.
Before you came and while the reporters were still here, I prayed to
God. I don't have any family here. My friends... they've
found it difficult to speak to me. I'm sure they just don't know
what to say. So I can't ask to stay with them. But I
desperately wanted somewhere to go, to get away. I couldn't bare
the coldness and the impersonal element of a hotel. And now you
come... it's like an answer to that prayer.” Raquel hugged Andrew
once again. “Yes, I would love to stay with you and your
friends. Thank you so very much.”
“We're so glad, Raquel.” Beth smiled at her. “So what needs
to be done around here?”
In a few moments the six had dispersed to water plants, help Raquel
pack, ask a neighbor to watch the house and collect any mail, and
inform the police of Raquel's evacuation.
At seeing Raquel's relieved face, Andrew felt like the first piece of
the puzzle that was this assignment had been put in place.
JenniAnn and Monica had easily collected the items Tess had listed for
them. Sheets, pillows, towels, etc. At 11:00 they made
their way to the mall's food court to await either a call from Adam or
Tess asking to be picked up or from Andrew or a member of his group
directing them on any personal items that might make Raquel feel at
Conversation was forced as they sipped at mocha lattes.
“I like these chocolate sprinkle things,” JenniAnn offered.
Monica nodded. “They're tasty.”
“Good deal on that sheet set.”
“Yes and it's lovely. I hope Raquel likes the wee floral print.”
They were both relieved when JenniAnn's cell phone rang.
“Hey Andrew,” JenniAnn answered. “Oh wonderful! I'm so glad
she's joining us. I mean I figured she would or why else would
the Father have you ask but... Oh...” She smiled at
Monica. “She said the invitation was an answer to her
prayer.” She diverted her attention back to the phone. “So
she definitely likes flowers?” She gave a thumbs up to
Monica. “And cat stuff. We can get some cat stuff,
sure. Have you gotten a sense for a favorite color?” She
listened. “Yellow, he said.”
“Okay, he's almost got the van packed up. Is there anything you
needed to say or ask?” JenniAnn held the phone out to Monica.
Monica took it. “We'll see you soon, Andrew. This is
wonderful news. Well done, my friend. Thank you for calling
us. We'll try to have everything set before you get back.
Here's JenniAnn back.”
JenniAnn reclaimed the phone. “So no problems with the reporters
right now? Great. Okay, see you soon. Love you.
Bye.” She nonchalantly flipped the phone shut and returned it to
her purse then smiled at Monica. “Ready for more shopping?
What? You look...”
Monica had her head bowed and was stirring the tiny bit of coffee that
remained in her cup. “You ended the conversation with 'Love you.'”
The woman remained confused. “Yes... It just seems to make
a little more sense than 'Peace out, Blonde Dude'... More
natural, ya know?”
Monica smiled at the goofy closing but sobered quickly. “Did
he... did he say it back?”
“Yes... I mean I know he meant it differently than I did because
last I checked Hell hadn't frozen over and pigs were not flying
but... That's the way phone conversations usually end with
us. I assume the same of the others'.”
Monica nodded. “That's really wonderful but I suppose it's made
me think. I... I'm not sure I ever said those words to
Andrew. I... I guess I always thought I had time and I do
but... I should have said them.”
“I suppose that's one way in which it's a blessing to be human.
I've never felt like I had unlimited time to tell him everything.
I believe in Heaven, of course. But I don't know what it's
like. I don't know what I'll be like in it. So I tell him
everything because I don't know when things will change. It's
like I told you last night... and... and I am sorry for raising my
voice but... After that run-in with Nadia that worry... that
possibility that I could fall away...” JenniAnn noticed then how
crowded the food court was becoming as noon drew near.
Monica noted her hesitancy and walked to a less-crowded mall
corridor. “Go on, JenniAnn, please.”
“We're more changeable than you are. Sometimes I envy that in
you. But now I'm beginning to see that...” she lowered her voice,
“immortality has it's drawbacks and uncertainties, too. But,
Monica, I do know one thing.”
“What is it?” the angel asked, eagerly.
“Right now we both have time to tell him what we need to. Maybe
that's why God brought us all here together. To learn from each
Monica smiled at JenniAnn. “The Lord does move in mysterious
“Don't we all? He just happens to be consistently good at
it.” JenniAnn grinned and for the first time the two laughed
JenniAnn and Monica had just finished making the purchases for Raquel
when Adam called to let them know he and Tess were ready to return to
“How are Lynn and Robbie, Tess?” Monica asked as soon as her former
supervisor was seated in the passenger seat JenniAnn had given up to
join Adam and Terrence in the back.
“Lynn has a lot on her mind and in her heart but I think she's decided
to leave Alex.”
“Do you think she suspects?”
“No, I don't, Adam. But I think it's going to be important to
Lynn down the road to know that she made this decision, not that it was
thrust on her when, hopefully, the truth finds Alex. How was
Robbie? He seemed happy.”
Adam chuckled at the remembrance of the little boy's glee. “He
was. I was thinking when we leave maybe I'd leave Terrence here
with Robbie as long as Lynn's okay with it. That boy could use a
“I think that's a fine idea, baby, and I'm not just saying that because
I may not be that thing's biggest fan.”
“Aww, Adam, I think that's a great idea. Give him something to
cuddle and hold onto when it seems like every thing's changing.”
JenniAnn smiled at the idea of Robbie at last having his most desired
wish come true.
“So did you two have fun shopping?” Adam looked from JenniAnn to
JenniAnn was uncertain of how to answer and remained silent.
Monica smiled at Adam via the dashboard mirror. “I would say that
our shopping trip was definitely worthwhile.”
“Exactly,” JenniAnn agreed.
Tess looked out the window and smiled to herself.
By the time Andrew and the others arrived with Raquel, her room was
ready and a late lunch was on the table. The newcomer was
impressed and touched by the outpouring of goodwill and soon felt
comfortable in the cabin.
By 7 that evening, Raquel and Tess had become fast friends and so it
was easy enough for Andrew to leave Raquel and go with the others to a
bookstore/café near Dawn's apartment. With only eight
people, they all rode together in Andrew's van.
“So how did you decide on a bookstore, Andrew?” Monica asked from the
back row of the van.
Andrew blushed. “I, uh, Googled 'best places to meet women' and
bookstore was on the list.”
The elder angel of death laughed. “I don't think I want to know
about some of the hits you probably got with that.”
“You do not,” Andrew agreed, still slightly red.
“This is awesome. Andrew's blushing and we didn't even have to
say anything,” Rose joked.
“Ah, so is that a game all of you play?” Monica asked.
Five faces looked back and nodded eagerly at her.
“They're very good at it,” Andrew admitted. “But I can be pretty
good at it, too.”
Before anyone could prove their abilities, Andrew had parked and
everyone cleared out of the van and ran into the store to escape the
chill. The moment they stepped inside they knew that the result
of Andrew's Google search had hardly been dumb luck. At the
café on the right side, Alex sat sipping coffee and surveying
the customers. Andrew inhaled deeply and pulled his gaze away
from the man. He walked towards a section of the store filled
with journals and stationery. It was the least populated area and
the others followed.
“So what are we doing? Are we just foiling his efforts like on
Monday or are we actually going to try to get to the guy?” Rose asked.
Andrew shook his head. “I know that might be more effective
but... is it worth the risk?”
“I was there at Raquel's house, remember. I saw how much the idea
of him still being out there devastated her. I think it is worth
this very small risk,” Beth insisted.
“We're in a public place, Andrew,” Yva pointed out. “If he freaks
out he's going to leave, not try anything here. The last thing he
wants is attention.”
“Buddy, she has a point.” Adam tilted his head towards Yva.
“What if he recognizes us and tries to follow us?” Andrew
protested. “I know he saw me at the club and he couldn't have
helped noticing Adam leading those two ladies away from him.
Just... let me think about this for a moment, okay?”
Everyone agreed and began to peruse the merchandise.
“Well, this certainly got put out of place. What's a great book
like this doing here in a pile of goofy bookmarks?” JenniAnn held
up a volume of Christina Rossetti poems.
Andrew stared at the book. “Dawn carried an edition of that
everywhere with her. They... they found it near her body.
It had fallen out of her purse.”
“So Alex would know this book, Andrew?” Monica took it from
Andrew nodded. “Dawn read me some poems from it. I wouldn't
be surprised if she had read some to Alex.”
“It can't be coincidence that this book was just lying there,” Rose
“And that JenniAnn found it right before that happened.” C.J. tilted
her head to the café where Alex was standing and greeting a
“He must have met her last night. When we were at the pub,”
“Or maybe he's been stringing her along, too. Regardless, we need
to do something and Rose is right, Andrew.” Adam put a hand on
his friend's shoulder. “You know Who put that book there.”
Andrew nodded. “Let's go. Bring the book.”
They followed him to the café. Andrew and Adam pulled
together two tables while Monica and C.J. placed their orders at the
counter. They ignored the piercing gaze from Alex as he briefly
looked away from his date. As nonchalantly as possible, the group
sat down and proceeded to idly discuss recent publications. When
they had their drinks and were reasonably sure Alex's initial paranoia
had been quelled, Monica set the book of poems on the table.
In her lilting voice, Monica began to read. “'Remember me when I
am gone away, gone far away into the silent land; when you can no more
hold me by the hand.'”
As Monica continued to read, the color drained from Alex's face.
He glared over at their table but they paid him no notice.
“Ah, and this one's lovely, too,” Monica smiled and continued.
“'Come to me in the silence of the night; come in the speaking silence
of a dream.'”
Alex was staring at a fixed point beyond the head of the woman across
from him. He nervously tapped his foot on the floor.
Eventually she seemed to pick up on her date's disinterest and called
him on it.
Monica read on to keep up appearances but the group strained to hear
the conversation at the other table.
“What? No, I was listening. Sorry. I just got, uh,
sidetracked by something I forgot to do at work.” Alex flashed
his most charming smile then. “Please go on, Dawn.”
Monica kept reading but skipped a beat upon hearing the slip.
Andrew bowed his head, praying.
“It's Rebecca and you, obviously, are a mistake,” the woman snapped,
grabbed her purse and coat, and left the table.
Alex glared at Monica but she continued on.
“'Yet come to me in my dreams, that I may live my very life again tho'
cold in death.'”
The murderer took a step towards them then thought better of it and
fled the café and the store entirely.
Andrew bolted up. “Stay here. I'm going to make sure he's
not going after Rebecca.” The angel of death ran through the
store, customers and staff looking curiously after him. When the
security alarm failed to beep, they shrugged and went back to their
Once outside, Andrew watched anxiously as Rebecca hopped into her car
and drove off into the east. Alex's car rounded the corner coming
from another section of the lot. The angel held his breath.
He let it out slowly as Alex pulled onto the street and headed
west. Rebecca was safe. But Andrew felt the need to follow
Alex. He returned to the café where his friends waited
“What happened?” C.J. asked.
“He didn't follow her but... but I think I need to follow him.
Alone.” Andrew took the van keys from his pocket and dropped them
on the table. “When you're done here please go back to the
cabin. I'll be back later.”
“Andrew, are you sure? I could go with you,” Adam offered.
Andrew shook his head and forced a smile. “No. I'd really
rather you all stay together. Please.”
The group nodded gravely, in unison, and watched Andrew walk back
Silently, the remaining seven gathered their things. Worried for
their friend, they wanted more solitude than the café and store
Adam pulled the van to the front of the store and the women hopped in.
“Do you know where he went?” Yva asked as Adam pulled out of the lot.
The angel of death shook his head. “I'm afraid not.”
“Where was Dawn killed?” Monica asked, looking out into the pitch black
“Last night before I went to bed I looked up the local paper
online. Mick had said that sometimes murderers return to the
scene of the crime so I thought... well, it was an idea.” Rose
shrugged and continued. “The article said it was just outside a
golf course that was closed for the season.”
“Andrew's there,” Monica told them.
“How do you know?” Beth asked.
Monica frowned. “I don't know but
I have a very strong feeling that he is. When we used to work
together and he would get upset about an assignment... often he'd go
back to the site where they had died.”
“Adam, do you have any idea where the golf course is?” JenniAnn asked.
“Andrew said he wanted us to go back to the cabin,” the angel averted
“I know but...” the woman began to press.
Adam shook his head. “It's like Rose said: sometimes murderers go
back to the scene. Andrew said he needed to follow Alex.
Monica said Andrew's at the golf course. That means Alex is
there. So I'm not...” Adam's voice trailed off. He
stalled the car and looked straight ahead, surprised. “How did...”
“Happy Harbor Golf Course. Closed for the season. Come see
us March 2009,” C.J. read.
“It looks like the decision's been made, Adam,” Monica told him, her
Adam nodded and headed down a dirt road that bordered the golf course.
Two figures stood near a creek though most anyone walking by would have
seen only one man. For both the events of a similar night nearly
a week ago replayed.
“Alex, it's cold. I don't want
to go for a walk. Besides, the course is closed. Alex, I
only came so I could give you a fair chance to give me your side before
I call your wife,” Dawn reminded in an exasperated tone.
Alex wiped at a phony tear. “I
just needed some fresh air. We'll go to the restaurant in just a
“Fine. I'm going back to the
Alex watched Dawn walk away. He
let her gain a few paces and then lunged at her.
“Let go of me! Help!” the woman
screamed. “Hel...” She went silent as a wave of pain washed
Alex pulled the knife from her side.
Andrew materialized from amid a grove
Dawn managed to break free of Alex's
grasp but her lung had been punctured and she'd only moved a few yards
when she fell to the ground. It was then she saw Andrew.
“Andrew! Help!” she rasped.
Alex looked around, nervous but
laughed coldly when he saw no one. He hovered over Dawn.
With one final push of energy, her hand reached up and she clawed his
“Andrew!” she screamed.
Alex flinched but his deadly stare
remained fixed on the woman. With one more movement, his task was
Andrew fell to his knees beside Dawn
as she gasped for breath. He caressed her face and pulled
her to him.
“A..a...andrew,” Dawn gasped.
She tried to reach for his hand but her own fell limply to the ground.
Alex watched as the dying woman
seemed to speak to thin air but with little more than passing
confusion, he turned away.
Andrew took her hand in his
own. “Dawn, I'm an angel sent by God to bring you Home. He
is so, so sorry for what you have suffered and He wants you to know
that where you're going there is no pain, no dishonesty, no cruelty...
just love. Only love. And... and... the Father is so proud
of what you have done. You have helped those coming Home to Him
to face their journeys bravely and with dignity. You encouraged
their faith and now He wants you to see the reality behind that
faith. You've reminded so many people that God loves them and now
it's time for you to experience how much He loves you. Let's go Home, Dawn.”
Andrew led her. He saw her
joyfully greet the father she had lost and countless of her
patients. Best of all, he saw her indescribable elation as she at
last saw the One who had created her. But then it was back to
Earth, back to the dark, cold patch where Dawn had died.
Alex had pushed the body to a creek
that bordered the golf course, hoping the frigid water would erase what
little evidence there was. Then he threw the knife in one bag,
his boots in another, and threw them in his car. These he would
ditch in a dumpster and a landfill near his home, an hour from the
center of the investigation. Andrew watched this dispassionate
proceeding with tears streaming down his face.
Tears again welled up in Andrew's eyes as he stood where Dawn had
died. Alex continued to coldly replay the crime, trying to
imagine ways anyone would have discovered his involvement. He
remembered Dawn calling out a name. Andrew. But he knew no
one had been there. He'd looked.
Andrew prayed. Maybe the police would come. Maybe they
would bank on the murderer returning to the scene. Maybe they'd
find Alex and Dawn would have justice and Raquel peace and Lynn and
Robbie freedom. Maybe Nadia would forgive him. All these
hopes were dashed as Alex began to walk back to where he'd parked his
car. Andrew began to shake as the cold night air nipped at him
and frustration began to build again. But then he heard it.
A car approaching. Alex quickened his pace. Andrew followed
suit, hoping to see a patrol car. It was too dark to make out
anything besides headlights. Andrew kept running after Alex who
stuck close to the creek, hoping to go undetected. Andrew kept
closer to the road, knowing he wouldn't be spotted.
Except he was.
“Adam, unroll the windows! Andrew must have them locked and
they're frosted and we can't see anything!” JenniAnn called.
Adam hit the button and the windows slid open. “Where is he?”
“He's running after Alex. I think Alex must have heard or seen
us. Oh... maybe this was a bad idea,” Rose fretted.
“Can he see Andrew?” Yva asked.
“I don't know,” Monica answered.
“Breathing in all that cold air can't be... Oh no!” Beth
pointed out the window.
“He's on the ground!” C.J. cried, horrified.
“Andrew!” Rose screamed.
Adam stopped the car and the group poured out and ran to Andrew's side.
The group was so focused on reaching him they didn't notice Alex stop,
spooked by the ghostly echo of Dawn screaming for the mysterious
Andrew. Panicked, he turned away from the sound and dashed into
the golf course. He ran, blindly, until he collided with the
course's grounds keeper who eyed him suspiciously.
Monica hurried back from the gas station to the van. “Here, drink
this.” She handed Andrew a cup of hot chocolate.
The angel accepted it gratefully and let the warm liquid sooth his
aching chest. He sunk back against the seat and closed his eyes.
“Did anyone see where Alex went?” Andrew asked, his voice hoarse.
“No, buddy. We were too focused on you. What happened?”
Adam asked, peering back at Andrew.
Andrew shrugged. “I think I tripped on a rock.”
“We thought maybe you'd passed out. You were running awfully
fast.” Yva looked at him with concern.
Andrew shook his head. “No, just clumsy. I'm glad you found
me even if I did ask you to go back to the cabin... I was hoping
the police might find Alex there but they didn't so... I'm glad you're
No one missed the disappointment on Andrew's face.
“We'll keep praying and hoping, Andrew,” Rose promised.
Andrew nodded appreciatively and indicated to Adam that it was okay to
begin the trip back to the cabin.
Andrew had fully recovered from his fall and the cold when they arrived
back at the cabin. Nonetheless, his friends still rallied around
him and got him situated in front of the fireplace in the larger
parlor. Tess and Raquel fussed over him, too, the latter told
only that he had slipped while they were out.
Tess and Monica were handing out mugs of cider and hot chocolate when
the doorbell rang.
Adam glanced at his pocket watch. “That's strange. It's
nearly eleven. I'll go see who it is.”
The group carried on, chatting amongst themselves. A hush fell
over the room when Adam returned with the sheriff in tow.
“Raquel, Sheriff Trent needs to speak to you.”
Raquel nodded, growing nervous. The room began to clear but the
woman clasped Andrew's hand as he began to stand. “Please stay
Andrew smiled gently at her and sat beside her on the couch. The
sheriff took a seat across from them.
“Raquel, we believe we've captured Dawn's murderer. He's not
given us a full confession but he was caught near the crime scene and
he said some incriminating things,” he began,
Raquel began to weep, clasping Andrew's hand more tightly. The
angel bowed his head, hoping and praying.
“You remember we told you that we thought Dawn had tried to fight her
“The suspect has three scratches, they look to be a few days old, at
his neck. If his DNA matches... we won't even need to rely on a
“Do you... can you tell us his name?” Andrew asked, bracing
himself. He prayed again to the Father that it had been Alex
they'd found and not someone else who would prove to be a red herring.
The sheriff hesitated. “Since we're not sure yet I'm not sure
if...” He sighed then. “I've been at this job a long time
and I've learned to listen to my gut feelings and my gut tells me this
is our man. So keep this to yourselves but his name is Alex
Brewer and he lives about an hour from here. Does that name mean
anything to you?”
Raquel shook her head. Andrew remained frozen but quietly let out
a sigh of relief and sent up a prayer of gratitude.
“It's late and I don't want to take up more of your time but I thought
you'd want to know immediately. I didn't want the media beating
me to this,” Sheriff Trent explained with barely masked contempt.
He squeezed Raquel's hand then. “I'll let you know as soon as we
know more but I truly think this is it, ma'am.”
“Thank you. Thank you, Sheriff.” Raquel stood to hug the
man and then turned into Andrew's embrace as he walked away.
“Wait,” she called. “Can you tell me what incriminating things he
The sheriff frowned. “It wasn't so much what he said but his
agitated nature. He kept saying that 'Andrew saw. Andrew
isn't going to let me get away with it.' No idea who this Andrew
character is. Sometimes these guys externalize their
consciences. I wouldn't be surprised if this is a case of
that. Please try to get some sleep.”
Raquel watched the man walk away. Once he was gone she pulled
away from Andrew and looked searchingly at his face.
Tears stung Andrew's eyes and he turned away.
“Y-you were there when Dawn died?” Raquel questioned.
Andrew nodded. “I was. But you don't understand. I...”
“Wait. Just let me say something,” Raquel interrupted.
“When Hank, that was my husband, was dying I kept catching him talking
and laughing with someone when he was alone. Finally, I asked him
about this. He told me there was an angel who visited with
him. Andrew. I... I thought it was the morphine but he
Andrew smiled through his tears. “We were swapping fishing
stories a lot of those times.”
Raquel smiled. “That sounds like Hank.” She grew serious
again. “So you're... you're the angel of death?”
Andrew nodded. “One of them, yes.”
“And you were there when this Alex killed my daughter?”
Again Andrew nodded.
“Was she in very much pain?” Raquel sat back down on the couch.
Andrew knelt in front of her. “There was some pain, yes, but it
all happened very quickly.”
Raquel began to sob and covered her face.
“I'm sorry, Raquel. I wish I could have stopped him. I... I
wanted so badly to stop Alex. I cared about Dawn and...
I'll leave now. You can stay here. Tess will see to
anything you need. I'll leave. I'm so sorry,” Andrew
repeated. He got up hurriedly and walked quickly to the door to
spare Raquel further sight of him.
“Wait!” the woman called. “Why are you leaving?”
“I...I couldn't stop Alex. I didn't save Dawn,” Andrew
cried. “And I don't blame you if you're angry with me because of
that so I'll leave and...”
“Angry? Oh, sweet boy, no...” Raquel went to Andrew and
turned him away from the door. “The truth is I never believed in
angels. But then that happened with Hank. And when Dawn got
her job she told me so many, many stories about people claiming to be
visited by angels who told them they'd be there to lead them to
Heaven. Or who simply stood by, offering peace and love. So
I started to believe. And when Dawn... when the police came and
told me... the only way I could keep breathing was to think about an
angel being with her... leading her to God and to her daddy. And
now... now I learn that not only did she have an angel with her but a
friend, too. Oh, Andrew, how could you think I'd be mad at
you?” Raquel pulled Andrew into a hug that reminded him very much
of Tess'. She let him cry and then they sat together and
“Do you think every thing's okay in there?” Rose asked, seated with the
others in the second parlor.
Tess smiled. “I think things are better than okay, baby. I
think two people that desperately need some peace are finally finding
“The police have Alex, right? I mean that's why the sheriff
came?” C.J. checked.
The supervisor nodded. “They do and he will go to court and he
will pay for what he's done.”
“And so will Robbie and Lynn.” Adam frowned.
“They'll have friends to help them. We aren't quite done here
yet, babies,” Tess advised. “So right now we all need to get some
rest. I know I could use some.” She led the way in rising
from her chair and heading to her bedroom. The others followed
her example without argument. It had truly been an exhausting
Thursday, January 22nd
Sheriff Trent called the following morning to warn Raquel that Alex's
arrest had made the news. Everyone was relieved that when the
reporters arrived to hound her they would find an empty house while
Raquel was safely ensconced amongst her new friends.
Breakfast was the cheeriest and least reserved yet of their
meals. Since Raquel had learned who and what Andrew was, it
became easier for everyone to speak around her without fear of
revealing too much. In her desire to know more about the angel
who had meant so much to her husband and daughter, Raquel asked many
questions. Andrew's friends were eager to speak of him and
continued to do so after their blushing friend excused himself and Adam
to go shovel some freshly fallen snow.
“He's a sweet boy.” Raquel smiled after Andrew. “How old is
Rose laughed. “It's a game of Andrew's and mine that I constantly
try to guess his age and he always refuses to help me. And so
does Tess.” She cast the angel a mock accusatory glare.
Tess laughed and rolled her eyes. “I can tell you're just so
upset by it, too, baby.”
“So if only Monica, Andrew, Adam and Tess are angels...” Raquel drifted
off, not wanting to be nosy or rude to her hosts.
“Why are we here?” JenniAnn suggested.
“Moral support, just like Andrew told you,” Yva answered. “He...
well... as it turns out... someone we know...” The woman stopped
and looked at Tess for approval before continuing. The angel
nodded and Yva continued. “Your first husband went onto marry
again and had children, right?”
Raquel nodded. “Three. A son and two girls: Nicholas,
Naomi, and Nadia. I haven't really kept in touch but Dawn
did. Tomorrow will be the first time I've seen any of them in a
very long time.”
“Well, Nadia was our friend. I mean she still is but she moved
away so we hadn't heard from her in... how long was it?” Yva looked to
“It's been nearly two years.”
“Right. But after she learned about Dawn, Nadia called
Andrew. She wanted him to console her and he would have.
Adam, too. But...” Yva drifted off.
Rose, having never met the woman, knew it would be easiest for her to
speak of that night so continued in Yva's stead. “When Nadia
found out that Andrew had been with Dawn and hadn't stopped the murder,
she became very angry. And Andrew... he just took it. He
wouldn't let any of us hang up and he wouldn't leave. He just
listened to her. We all know she was in pain but the things she
said to him...”
Raquel shook her head. “Grief is no excuse for cruelty. No
wonder poor Andrew thought I was angry with him last night. I
know he was also hurt, very much, by what happened to my daughter.”
“Excuse me,” Monica murmured and got up to leave.
Tess looked curiously at her but let her go.
“We're just all so grateful that you feel that way, Raquel. Since
Andrew spoke to you... he's a whole lot more like the Andrew we know
and love.” Beth smiled at Raquel.
“I just know how much Andrew's compassion and friendship meant to my
daughter and now... now that she's beyond my help,” Raquel
sighed. “I just feel better knowing I could help him.”
Tess hugged Raquel then, touched by the woman's empathy for her Angel
Boy. The angel realized then that Adam and Andrew had been
outside for some time. “We should get some hot drinks ready for
those boys and tell them to come on in. There wasn't that much
“I can go start some hot cocoa,” Yva offered.
“And I'll do coffee. Anything else?” Rose checked. The
other ladies were content with those two options and continued to
address Raquel's queries once Yva and Rose had left.
As the two women neared the kitchen they looked at each other, curious,
when they heard the noise of someone sniffling. They continued on.
Monica was seated at the table, looking out at Adam and Andrew who were
in the distance, lobbing snowballs at each other. The angel
occasionally laughed but her tear stained cheeks were immediately
obvious to Rose and Yva.
“Monica, are you alright?”
Startled, Monica wiped at her tears and nodded in response to
Yva. “Oh, yes. Just... thinking,” she finished lamely.
“Do you... do you want to talk about anything?” Rose offered, somewhat
“It's only...” Monica bit her lip. “Have you ever
desperately wanted to change but when it came to actually changing you
just... you're not sure you can? And the truth is... maybe deep
down... you don't really want to?”
“I think everyone struggles with things about themselves, Monica.
Humans and angels, apparently,” Yva answered.
“What... or who... is this about?” Rose questioned.
Monica looked back to the window. “I... I want to be there for
him, I truly do. But this assignment... It's made me
realize... I can't.”
“It's been a hard time for everyone. I really don't think right
now is a good time to be making any judgments about our
abilities. Monica, you really should just come visit one of those
times Andrew asks,” Yva encouraged. “He was really upset for most
of this week but he's really very optimistic and it would do you good
“I know. I will try to make those but...”
“No buts, Monica,” Rose protested. “If you can then you need
to. Andrew... he does a good job of keeping his emotions to
himself when he wants to but we've all noticed his disappointment when
you stopped coming to those get-togethers he was arranging.”
Monica hung her head for a moment before again looking at the two
women. “And I am sorry for that but when I came... It
wasn't like the old days. It wasn't Tess watching over each of us
and Andrew being that calm, steady presence most of the time. We
had fun but we talked, too, about difficulties with our assignments and
I started to realize that Andrew has the same questions, the same...
the same concerns that I do and I saw how deeply he felt them and how
hurt he could be and I wanted... to see him as I did for those 8 years
“Not as he really is?” Rose asked, her bitterness unchecked.
Monica looked away once again. “I'm sorry,” she muttered.
Yva shook her head. “We're sorry... for you. It can be hard
to see someone in a different light. But if we truly care we
will. Andrew's worth fighting whatever is keeping you from doing
Monica jolted at the way Yva's words so eerily paralleled JenniAnn's of
the day before. “I'll try. I... I think I just need to be
alone for awhile. I'm going for a drive,” Monica whispered and
then left the kitchen.
Rose brushed at a tear and then looked at the window to Andrew and
Adam, obliviously content.
An hour after lunch the doorbell rang for only the second time.
This time it continued to ring as if whomever was outside was leaning
on it. Adam, having just come down the main staircase, was
nearest the door. He glanced out and threw it open.
Instantaneously, Lynn had her left arm around him. Her right was
cast around Robbie who was balanced on her hip.
“Come on. You need to sit down and rest.” Adam led the
distraught woman into the main parlor. The moment Lynn was seated
she began to sob. Robbie looked at his mother, frightened.
A second later Tess entered the room.
“Adam, baby, why don't you go get a snack for Robbie? I'll sit
here with Lynn.”
Adam nodded. He squeezed Lynn's hand and then took
Robbie's. “How do you feel about brownies, Champ?”
Robbie looked back at his mother but then nodded.
When the angel and the boy entered the kitchen, they found Andrew,
Beth, C.J., JenniAnn, Rose, Yva and Raquel frosting dozens of brownies
and cookies. Raquel had wanted to send something to the hospice
and so the baking had begun. Robbie's eyes grew wide at the sight
of so many freshly baked treats.
“Robbie, this is Raquel,” Adam introduced.
The woman smiled gently at the boy. Tess had foreseen Lynn's
arrival at the cabin and so had explained to the woman about Alex's
family. Andrew had told her about Dawn's commitment to protecting
Alex's wife by telling her of the man's unfaithfulness. Knowing
this, Raquel had found it easy to join the others in protecting Lynn
and Robbie from the media storm that had only recently threatened her.
“Hello, kiddo. It looks like you showed up just in time.
See anything you might like to have?” she asked.
Robbie pointed shyly to a brightly frosted brownie and Raquel handed it
to him then led him to the table.
Adam poured some milk and sat it on the table before the boy. “Is
it good?” he asked as Robbie nibbled on the brownie and he took a seat
Adam was concerned by the boy's quietness, so unlike their two previous
visits. He began to wonder what the boy had seen or heard.
“After you're done we could go see Terrence,” Adam offered, hoping for
“Robbie, is there something you want to talk about?” the angel asked.
Robbie's lower lip began to tremble. “Daddy did something bad and
now mommy's crying. And there were really mad people outside our
house,” he confided before sliding off his chair and onto Adam's
lap. "I'm 'fraid, Adam!"
"There now, you're safe, Robbie, and so's your mommy." Adam
smiled encouragingly at the boy then began to hum a lullaby until
Robbie drifted to sleep.
Raquel knocked lightly on the parlor door.
“Come in,” Tess called.
The woman poked her head in. “Adam just wanted to let Lynn know
that Robbie had fallen asleep. He's in the other parlor.”
She waved shyly to the younger woman.
Lynn stood up and approached Raquel. “I... I'm so sorry for your
loss. I had no idea Alex was... I... I never imagined.”
Raquel grasped Lynn's hand. “I'm sorry for the pain this has
caused you, too. I hope you and your little boy can get away.”
Lynn nodded. “My brother's driving from Kansas to come get
us. I just... I feel like maybe if I'd been less... less
oblivious maybe I would have caught on and your daughter would still be
“Don't think like that. What your husband did...” Raquel drew a
calming breath to quell the tremor in her voice. “It has nothing
at all to do with you. You were wronged, Dawn was wronged, and
neither of you did anything or are to blame. I don't think that
and I don't want you thinking that. You need to focus your
attention on helping yourself and your son. Okay?”
Lynn smiled through her tears and moved into Raquel's embrace.
Three hours later Lynn's brother arrived at the cabin. He,
Andrew, and Adam transferred the few bags Lynn had managed to grab to
his car. The police would come later to take Lynn's for
Lynn led a still sleepy Robbie out to his uncle's car. Adam
followed carrying Terrence and his cage.
“Did you bring him so I could tell him good bye?” the little boy
asked. “Mommy says we're going away.”
Adam shook his head and crouched in front of the boy. “No.
Actually, I talked with your mommy and with your Uncle Lee and we
thought maybe you'd like to take Terrence with you. I'm going to
have to get back to my job soon and I'm just not sure I'll have as much
time to hold and pet and take care of Terrence. I was hoping
maybe you would. What do you think, Robbie?”
Robbie's face lit up and he threw his arms around Adam. “Really?”
Adam chuckled. “Really. Let's get you both in the car
before you catch cold.”
“I don't know how I'll ever be able to thank all of you,” Lynn confided
as she hugged Tess. “You barely even know us and... Do you
ever read the Bible, Tess?”
The angel smiled. “Oh, yes, I've done some Bible reading in my
day. Why do you ask?”
“There's that part about entertaining angels unaware. Maybe this
sounds crazy but I get the feeling I've done exactly that and... thank
you. Whether you and Adam and the others are literally angels or
not, I know you're my angels.” Lynn smiled tearfully at Tess and
then after one last hug moved to get into the car.
“Will I ever see you again, Adam?” Robbie asked.
Adam smiled and ruffled the boy's hair. “I'm not quite sure when
but I promise you I'll check in on you and Terrence, okay?”
The little boy beamed and then waved to Tess and Andrew as Adam buckled
him in then shut the door.
Adam rejoined the other two angels and they stood together, waving as
Lee drove off.
“I'm going to ask the Father if I can stop back in,” Adam told
them. “Lynn's going to need to come back to testify and I think
it would help if she had a familiar face with her when she did.”
“I think that's an excellent idea, baby. Even better than sending
Terrence off with Robbie. You sure made that boy smile when he so
needed to.” Tess hugged Adam.
“I'm surprised at you, Tess. You actually called Terrence by his
name! Great job!” Andrew congratulated with a grin.
Adam laughed. “I guess it's easier now that she knows he won't
end up in her luggage ever again.”
Andrew chuckled. “I'm sure that's it.” His face clouded
then as he looked at the sky. “It's getting dark. I'm
surprised Monica's not back yet. Do you know where she went,
“Don't worry, Angel Boy. Monica will make it back when she's
ready. Now let's get inside. This angel is freezing!”
Tess shivered and then began to walk towards the cabin.
Andrew was bothered by her vague answer but knew not to press.
“Come on. We don't want to worry the girls.”
Andrew nodded and followed Adam inside.
That evening, after dinner, Tess announced her intent to turn in
early. Raquel, too, excused herself to her room to make last
minute preparations for Dawn's funeral the next morning. Andrew
had offered his help but the woman had responded by ordering him to
take some time for himself and have fun.
In adherence with Raquel's directive, Adam and Andrew were enjoying the
foosball table in the gameroom. The Dyelanders were in the
kitchen making popcorn and other snacks to take into the gameroom where
they intended to fully enjoy watching the angels of death play each
other. They were just loading up the treats when Monica, at last,
“Hi,” she greeted as she entered the kitchen.
“Hello, how was your drive?” Rose asked.
“It was very... calming,” the angel answered.
“Adam and Andrew are playing foosball. We thought it'd be fun to
watch. Care to join us?” JenniAnn offered.
Monica smiled. “I'd like that, thank you.” She picked up a
bowl of chips and followed them.
“Hey, Monica, you're back. I'm glad.” Andrew looked up from
the game and smiled at her.
“Thank you, I'm glad to be back. What did I miss?”
The group took turns telling Monica about Lynn and Robbie and their
escape to Kansas. Then focus drifted back to the game.
Monica smiled when she realized that instead of separating into teams,
all the women cheered for both Andrew and Adam. After a few
rounds everyone drifted to other games. Monica debated which
group to join then watched as JenniAnn walked away from the pinball
machine after cheering Andrew onto a win. She sat at a large
table, likely intended for poker, and Monica followed.
“What's this? It's lovely,” Monica asked as she glanced at the
materials spread across the table.
“Oh, Andrew's scrapbook. I'm majorly behind. I'm only now
getting the St. Patrick's Day 2008 pages done.” JenniAnn smiled
at a photo of Adam and Andrew clanking glasses of green ginger ale
“This design... It's very beautiful.” Monica traced the
lines of a drawing.
“Oh, haven't you seen that before? With your Irish connection I
just assumed... Well, anyway, it's called a triskele or triple
spiral and it just happens to be one of the only Celtic symbols I can
actually draw. But I do like it. Threes are kinda a big
thing with me. And I like it for another reason.”
Rose and Yva had noticed the two talking and approached, curious after
their earlier run-in with Monica.
“Hey there,” JenniAnn greeted. “I was just being a total Irish
nerd and telling Monica about the triskele.”
Yva laughed. “Oh, yes, that's the only thing nerdy about this
scrapbook,” she teased, turning to a section devoted solely to Andrew's
JenniAnn giggled. “You can call me a nerd if ya like but I am a
nerd with good tastes, thank you very much.”
As the two went back and forth, Rose watched Monica flip through the
book. From the sections devoted to the last five years of
Andrew's life, Monica was almost entirely absent. Rose wondered
if the angel noticed and what she thought of it.
“Anyhow, the triskele,” JenniAnn began again. “If you look... the
three spirals actually join up in the center. They have the same
source. That lil triangle there. I like it because it makes
me think that, ya know, even if we drift away...”
“We're still connected at the root. Still together in some way,”
C.J. ran over to them then. “Andrew's about to get a high score
on the pinball machine, thought you'd want to see.”
“Well now I think that deserves a place in the scrapbook,” Yva
“Ooh, you're right.” JenniAnn leaped up and grabbed her camera
from her purse. She, Rose, and Yva joined the others clustered
Monica continued to stare at the triple spiral. “Even if we drift
away we're still connected at the root,” she murmured.
Friday, January 23rd
At Raquel's request, the entire group was attending Dawn's
funeral. They had a suspicion that Raquel was asking them less
for her own want of company than with consideration for the discomfort
Andrew was bound to feel upon seeing Nadia. Regardless of her
reasoning, no one thought of turning her down. Monica and Tess
started off on the hour long ride to the cemetery while Andrew drove
the others in the mini-van. It was a quiet, solemn ride with
those in the back seats thinking about all that had transpired and the
two in the front remembering Dawn.
When they parked outside the church, Raquel finally spoke. She
set a hand on Andrew's shoulder. “I'm not sure what's going to
happen. I hope Nadia doesn't say anything more to you but if she
does... you promise me you'll remember that you did nothing wrong,
“Raquel, please don't worry about me. You need to focus on
yourself and getting thr...”
“I'm still a mother, Andrew. Worrying is what I do.” Tears
formed in her eyes and she set a hand on his cheek. “Promise me?”
Andrew nodded. “I promise you,” he vowed, smiling bravely at
her. He got out of the van then and helped Raquel out. He
offered her his arm and together they led the group into the church.
Raquel faltered when she saw the casket but Andrew kept hold of her and
Adam and the ladies took their seats a few rows from the front where
Monica and Tess were already seated. They watched as Andrew
continued to lead Raquel to the front.
Dawn's father stood and hugged his ex-wife once she and Andrew reached
the front pew. As Andrew stood nearby, she embraced her
daughter's half-siblings and step-mother.
“Please, stay with me,” Raquel begged the angel, clasping his hand in
Andrew felt her hand tremble in his and nodded. The anxiety he
felt about being so near to Nadia was overcome by compassion for the
grieving mother and a desire to help her. “I won't leave you,
Raquel,” he promised and took the place to her right, Dawn's father to
Nadia looked towards the angel but then quickly away as the service
After an opening prayer, “Amazing Grace” was sung. Then some of
Dawn's co-workers, patients, and friends came forward to share their
remembrances of her devotion, compassion, sense of humor, and
Finally, the reverend returned to the lectern. He smiled at the
teeming church and then at Dawn's family.
“As I sat here with you, I heard so many stories of the love and joy
Dawn brought to each of you. I know she certainly brought that
here to those of us in this congregation. There's a poem that was
written by Christina Rossetti, Dawn's favorite poet. It's about
some friends preparing to bury one of their own who was so swiftly
taken from them. At first they are shocked and they cannot fathom
parting from her. I know these feelings are familiar to us as we
grieve a life cruelly cut short. But I hope we can find comfort
in the words of the poet.” He open the book before him and
“'Weep not; oh friends, we should not weep:
Our friend of friends lies full of rest;
No sorrow rankles in her breast,
Fallen fast asleep.
She sleeps below,
She wakes and laughs above:
Today, as she walked, let us walk in love;
Tomorrow follow so.'”
He closed the book and again smiled encouragingly at the
congregants. “Let us walk in love as Dawn did. I can think
of no greater testament to what she meant to us, nor a greater means of
showing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for the time we shared with
Dawn than this. Go forth and love one another!”
As the choir began to sing the closing hymn, the congregation
rose. Many people embraced each other, some even strangers.
Raquel looked around her and smiled through her tears, seeing how many
lives her daughter had touched.
After a brief graveside service there was a luncheon at the church's
community center. For a time Andrew walked around with Raquel as
she spoke with those who had come to remember Dawn. Though she
had never met many of the people Dawn worked with, it wasn't long
before Raquel felt comfortable with them and was able to let Andrew go.
The angel made his way to a table where his friends had gathered.
“How's Raquel doing, baby?” Tess asked.
Andrew looked back at the woman and smiled fondly. “Better.
I think it helped her to see how many people cared so much about Dawn
and how many people care about her, too. That's her best friend
sitting by her now.”
“Oh good. I was afraid they might still stay away.” Beth
smiled with relief.
“I think sometimes people just have a hard time seeing their friends in
pain or struggling. I'm sure they'll be there for her now,”
Andrew said as he sat down.
Monica self-consciously looked away from Andrew.
Rose caught her reaction and spoke. “Maybe they just don't trust
themselves to say the right thing but... sometimes it's just the being
there that matters.”
“Exactly,” Andrew beamed at Rose and then looked across the table and
noticed JenniAnn's eyes growing wide as she looked past him.
Concerned, the angel turned and saw Nadia standing behind him.
“Hello,” she greeted the table.
“Hi Nadia. How are you holding up? We've been praying for
you,” C.J. responded.
Nadia gave a wan smile in answer. “I... I'm okay. And
thanks. For the prayers. I, uh... Can we talk?” she
asked Andrew without looking directly at him.
“Sure,” Andrew agreed. He stood and followed Nadia upstairs to
the church proper as the eight at the table watched with trepidation.
Once they entered the church, Nadia took a seat in the back pew and
motioned for Andrew to join her.
“So... so you've been helping Raquel?” she asked, staring down at her
“Yes, I was sent back to help her find peace and to help the wife and
child of the man... the man who killed Dawn. And I guess the
Father thought I needed to find a little peace, too.”
Andrew nodded. “As much as I can. I'll never feel
completely at peace when people hurt each other. But, Nadia, how
“L-like I hurt you?” she interrupted.
Andrew turned to the woman beside him. “No, no. Nadia, that
wasn't what I was saying at all. I meant... I'll never feel at
peace with murder and abuse and...”
“And still you keep coming here, helping us.”
“I'm sorry for the things I said, Andrew. You didn't deserve
them. Not at all, not one bit. Or Adam, either. I
know... I know it wasn't easy for you to be there but you stayed so
Dawn wouldn't be alone. And that's... that's not the sign of a
cold heart but a very selfless and brave and loving one.” Nadia
looked into Andrew's eyes for the first time since she approached
him. “I... I just kept imagining what Dawn must have felt and
what she thought and when I called you... I was tortured by those
images. But these last two days... It's been something else
“What is it, Nadia? You can tell me.” Andrew put an arm
around her shoulders.
“You. Whatever else happened, your face was the last thing Dawn
saw on this earth. And your voice, telling her about God and love
and Home... that was the last she heard. And I... I found peace
in that.” Nadia rested her head on Andrew's shoulder and finally
let herself cry not in anger or fear but in a mixture of grief and
Raquel had been invited to stay at the hospice. Her daughter's
friends there were eager to get to know her and to mourn and celebrate
Dawn's life with her. The woman had readily agreed. Andrew
drove her there and helped her to the room she would occupy, Dawn's
former on-call room.
Before they parted, Raquel pulled Andrew to her for one last hug.
"Thank you, Andrew," she whispered into his ear. "Now you take
care of yourself. I got the addresses of a couple of the girls
and I will be writing to check on you," she warned with a smile.
Andrew chuckled. "I will, Raquel. I promise. And
thank you, too. I know now how Dawn came to be so loving and
compassionate. You know, she told me once that I'd just love you
if I met you. She was right."
Raquel clasped his hand. "She said the same about you.
Right there, too." She sighed then and looked around the room.
"Thanks. Do you want me to stay for a while?"
"No, you get back to your friends." Raquel released his hand
then. "I... I don't know whether to say good bye or..."
Andrew smiled. "There are no permanent good byes. We'll see
each other again some day. So... until next time."
"Until next time," Raquel repeated, her face shining with hope as
Andrew hugged her once more then left the room.
Soon after Andrew arrived back at the cabin, the group began to
pack. By 5:00 they were gathered in the driveway. Monica
and Tess stood outside the Cadillac while Andrew, Adam, the Dyelanders,
and pets stood near the mini-van.
"Now I'll be seeing you later on in the weekend. Okay,
baby? Until then, you get some rest," Tess directed.
Andrew nodded. "I will, Tess. I hope your assignment goes
well. Thanks again for being here."
"I wouldn't have had it any other way, Angel Boy. I love
you." Tess hugged him.
"I love you, too, Tess," Andrew whispered before she moved onto Adam
and the girls.
A second later he looked up to find Monica standing before him.
"I'm glad I could be here, Andrew. And... I hope I see you again
soon. I have missed you," she told him.
Andrew smiled wistfully at her. "I'm glad you were here,
too. And I hope we do see each other again soon. So you're
onto another assignment?"
"Yes. Ireland, actually."
"Well, that's great! I know how much you love being there.
I'm happy for you!" Andrew beamed at his old friend.
"Thank you." Monica checked her pocket watch then. "I
should be going, actually. Take care, Andrew."
"You, too, Monica." Andrew hugged her and waved as she and Tess
got into the caddy. For a moment he felt as if he should hop into
the back seat but he resisted the urge. He recognized that his
place was elsewhere. He turned and smiled at his friends who
surrounded the van. His face broke into a broad smile.
"Let's go home!"
With smiles on their own faces, everyone got into the van. Andrew
lifted Lulu onto Rose's lap and shut the van door before climbing into
the driver's seat.
“Does everyone have everything?” he checked.
“I think so,” Yva answered. “I'm not sure we could fit much more
Andrew chuckled. “At least it's a short drive home.”
“Is it? Kinda hard to tell with this means of
transportation.” JenniAnn smiled as she buckled her seat belt and
pulled Fawn against her.
Adam turned around in the passenger seat and smiled. “I think
Andrew just prefers being behind the wheel over using your storage
closet. It doesn't go 65 miles an hour.”
“Very funny, buddy. But I do like this van and I do like driving
around with all of you and actually...” Andrew swiveled around in
his seat. “I just wanted to thank all of you, for coming along on
this assignment. I don't think I fully realized how much I needed
to have my friends with me this week. But I did. So thanks.”
There was a chorus of “awws” and Andrew blushed.
“Hugs for everyone when we get back to Dyeland. I'm afraid if we
get out and do that now...” the angel waved to the bags crammed around
them, “we won't be able to fit back in.” He smiled and then
turned around and started the car. He drove down the winding
driveway and just before turning onto the main road, the van
Saturday, January 24th
The evening the group returned to Dyeland, Andrew went Home.
Thankfully for his friends, his stay spanned only a day in human time
and so by Saturday evening he was back. The gang would, at last,
have their celebration at the Café.
Before heading there, Andrew thought about the week that had
passed. It had been the realization of many of his greatest
concerns. In that week he had also put some of them to rest,
to the Father and to his friends.
He thought of what JenniAnn had told him as they danced. In her
words he found hope that, no matter what came to pass, his friends
would always be with him. They were in his heart and would always
Lady Beth would be there, the consoling and understanding voice of
reason who would never let him sink into self-blame or despair.
Countess Jennifer, too. Andrew recalled the impromptu gathering
that first night back in Missouri. He'd become obsessed with the
hurt and betrayal he knew Dawn had felt. But his friends had
consoled him and Countess Jennifer had reminded him of the last,
powerful glimpse of love that Andrew and his fellow angels of death
brought as their assignments prepared to leave the Earth. It was
those moments that kept Andrew going.
Andrew remembered the ride to Raquel's house. He had confessed
his own confusion and in doing so felt less alone in it. When
questions again swam in his mind, he would recall what Yva had
said. He would rejoice in the times he was able to intercede and
pray for peace when he could not. And always, always remember
that the Father loved His children.
Then there was Rose. Andrew couldn't quite explain it but he had
a feeling that she'd spent much of the assignment watching over him and
seeing to it that he never felt alone nor needlessly stressed and he
felt blessed by this.
Andrew thought of Adam. Amazing Adam. He could make his
friends laugh with ease and yet with a single look he was able to tell
Andrew that he was not alone in his questions or his struggles as an
angel of death.
And Tess. The angel of death thought back on that conversation
they'd shared in the kitchen. Andrew had gone back to Missouri to
heal in the wake of Dawn's death. But in speaking to him, Tess
had helped him heal from so much more. When she'd reached out to
him he knew that he had never been an afterthought even if, at times,
he'd felt that way when they worked cases with Monica.
Monica. He had been grateful and happy to see her but of all the
now reconciled uncertainties that had daunted Andrew that week, the
connected to her remained.
Andrew heard a thud at his door then and went to see who it could be,
maybe JenniAnn bringing Lulu back to him or someone wanting to walk
with him to the Café. However, when
Andrew answered the door he saw no one. He looked down then and
spotted a tiny package. He bent to retrieve it, opening it as he
to meet his friends.
"Saw this and thought of you," the note read. Andrew recognized
Monica's delicate script. He tore at tissue paper and then
stared down at the gold object in his hand. A key chain in the
shape of three spirals, joined together in the center. As he
stared down at the symbol, Andrew thought back on a Rossetti poem Dawn
had read to him. He heard her voice reciting:
"All come and go, all wax and wane,
O Lord, save only Thou
Who dost remain
The Same to all eternity.
All things which fail us now
We trust to Thee."
The angel smiled as a cooing dove seemed to assent to the poet's
words. Before entering the Café, Andrew looked
up at the sky. He entrusted to the Father this wounded
friendship, his friends' lives, his assignments, and his heart, knowing
that God would always and forever heal and love them.
In case anyone is wondering... yes,
I did Google "best places to meet women" and bookstores was on the
list. No clue if the same applies to meeting men.
Regrettably, the "best places to meet lovely AODs" list was not
The poems referenced in the story include:
"The First Elegy" from Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies.
"Remember," "Echo," "My Friend," and "Patience of Hope" by Christina
There's not much of an actual soundtrack to this one. Only
Coldplay's "The Scientist" and Kate Rusby's "Sho Heen" and a couple
hymns are actually in the story. However, I did have
some music I listened to for inspiration. Those songs included:
"In the News" by Kris Kristofferson- Don't listen to this if you want
to be happy. But it is a really stunning song. Mr.
Kristofferson references the violence of this world and urges us not to
"Let Me Be Myself" by 3 Doors Down- I happened to hear this one in the
car one day. It immediately made me think of Andrew and Monica
and so it became their theme for this story. You can kinda hear
echoes of it in Yva's and Rose's conversation with Monica.
"Angels" by Within Temptation- This helped me grasp some of the anger
and betrayal Nadia felt. Cause I needed some help there. I
obviously do *not* feel that way about Andrew myself.
"Taken" by Plumb- If this was a movie and had end credits, I'd want
this played. It makes me think of something Raquel might say to
Dawn. But I also thought it was a pretty good Andrew/his friends
As for "The Scientist," I just love that song and it does make me think
of Andrew. And I can see LJA relating to it (which is why, though
the Coldplay original would have been more likely to have been played
at a club, Aimee Mann's cover would probly be more appropriate).
But that whole scene took on an ironic note when I realized some of the
lyrics also reminded me of Monica like:
"Nobody said it was easy,
Oh it's such a shame for us to part.
Nobody said it was easy,
No one ever said it would be so hard."
I foresee that song popping up later in that context, too. Ah,
the shippers would probly hate me if they read this! I am
surprisingly okay with this. ;-)
"Sho Heen" was the song Andrew
played in his bedroom. I first
heard it on Pandora.com. I then downloaded it on iTunes knowing
that at some point it would prove useful. And it did. Love
it. Never heard of Kate Rusby but I will definitely be looking
into her music now!
Finally, it seemed a lil crass to
hide an easter egg in the text of "We
Trust to Thee." But I did hide a lil something in these
notes. A very little something. Cause I am beat.
If you read these nearly 80
pages... gold star for you! You can
pick it up when next you're in Nebraska. ;-)
(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page are from
"Touched by an Angel" and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline
Productions, and Moon Water Productions. They are not being used to