August 27th- Dutch St. Maarten
"And see! This tablecloth is long
enough for the ballroom! And I got enough matching napkins for us
all!" JenniAnn exclaimed as she, Rose, and Andrew waited for Yva and
Sir Sven outside the linen store they'd recently vacated.
"It's really beautiful, Laja. Good find." The angel smiled
and tried to think of something more specific to say.
JenniAnn giggled. "The appeal of linens is totally lost on
boys. At least some."
"I haven't seen a whole lot to appeal to guys, actually." Rose
frowned. "Adam must have been here before and known just to hang
out at the beach with Tess. We can go back there if you want,
Andrew. Maybe Lady Beth, C.J., and Monica are even back from
their horseback-riding excursion."
The angel shrugged. "No, that's okay. I'm enjoying simply
seeing the place. We'll head back whenever the two of you,
Yva, and Sir Sven are ready. And then..."
Before he could continue, a shopkeeper stepped out of the storefront
next to them.
"Ah!" he exclaimed. "Lovely ladies! Surely the gentleman
would like to buy a ring or perhaps some earrings for the ladies!"
Andrew's cheeks began to color as he tried to think of an acceptable
response. However, Rose beat him to it.
"Thank you, sir, but we'll pass. The other lady and myself
already have the only bright, sparkly gem we need." With a polite
smile she took Andrew's hand and led him across the street.
Yva and Sir Sven had stepped out of the linen store in time to witness
the exchange and both, along with JenniAnn, laughed as they
followed the daunted angel and their witty friend.
"That was awesome!" JenniAnn cried once they were out of hearing
"What just happened?" Andrew asked, wide-eyed.
"Rose called you a bright, sparkly gem, Andrewkins," Yva
explained. "Although, frankly, I'm surprised she rescued you and
didn't let you get pulled in there so we could spend countless minutes
watching you blush and courteously fake interest in diamonds."
"Darn! I should have thought of that! Let's go back!"
Rose grinned and moved as if to pull Andrew towards the store.
"I believe Andrew is glad you didn't think of that," Sir Sven responded.
Andrew blushed, despite his deliverance from the hands of the
determined jeweler. "I don't know about the bright, sparkly gem
"You're definitely bright at times," Rose insisted.
"But sparkly?" Andrew shook his head. "Don't think so."
"Two words: Valentine's Day."
Andrew and JenniAnn both groaned at Yva's reminder of their sequined
"Point taken," the angel of death muttered.
Recovering, JenniAnn pulled the map of the island their cabin steward
had given them out of her purse. "Ya know, I really want to go
off this map. Get away from the conglomerates and find locally
Andrew nodded. "I like that idea a lot. And then maybe we
won't have a repeat of what just happened."
"But I have more comebacks ready if we do!" Rose assured.
The angel shook his head. "Why does that not surprise me?"
"Because you know me and how much I like to tease and protect
you. All the better when I can do both at once!"
Andrew chuckled. "Then I'm glad I could help you have that
experience. But now, let's go find some
With that, he led the group down an alley, eventually coming to far
less professionally designed buildings. The angel at once felt
more at ease. Though it seemed the people at these shops were
less well-off than the folks at the previous ones, they were also more
patient and helpful when his friends looked at various items.
Andrew himself picked up a few small trinkets for the Tunnel children
then visited with a middle-aged man named Ruben at one of the
stores. He smiled as Ruben warmly greeted a school girl and
encouraged her to focus on her studies. The neighborly concern
reminded the angel of how most stores used to be.
There was a curious moment when one of Ruben's employees entered
from the storage room, her daughter balanced on her hip. As the
woman tried to unload a box, the toddler clamored for Andrew.
"No, no. Leave the nice man alone, Esme!" the mother chastised
The little girl continued to reach for the angel.
The whimpering called the four Dyelanders' attention away from a corner
where they were perusing racks of
dresses and T-shirts.
Andrew reached out and affectionately squeezed Esme's hand at which the
girl giggled and continued to pull away from her mother, making it
difficult for her to focus on her work. "Hello, Esme," he
greeted. He smiled at her mother. "Hello, my name's
Andrew. Your daughter's adorable."
Esme began to babble excitedly.
The woman, the only one to understand the girl's childish lisp, shot
Andrew an awkward smile. "Thank you. My name is
Martine. She thinks you are an angel. You look very much
like the one in her picture Bible."
"Andrew truly is an angel," Yva told the mother as she approached,
knowing the literal truth of her words wouldn't be understood but
hoping they might put the woman at ease.
"And very good with children," JenniAnn assured. "Your little one
The woman smiled proudly. "Thank you."
Andrew could sense that Martine felt more
comfortable with him upon meeting his female friends. He hoped
she'd let him help with her little one. "I could hold Esme while
you finish that, Martine," he offered.
Ruben chuckled. "I suggest you take Andrew there up on his offer
or Esme may leave you little choice, Martine."
Esme had her back arched so that she was nearly at a ninety degree
angle from her mother's body and her left hand was clutching Andrew's
Both amused and resigned, Martine shifted the little girl to
Andrew. Esme shrieked with joy and began to babble joyfully as
she patted his cheeks.
"Hey there, sweetheart," Andrew cooed as Esme snuggled against his
chest. "I've really missed the little ones," he confessed.
"You have children?" Martine asked as she continued stocking.
The angel shook his head. "No, but there's a school and a shelter
where we all
"Could we take a photo for the wall? And so Martine can tease
Esme about this when she is grown?" Ruben asked, waving to a wall
filled with photos of visitors to his store. The photos looked to
back into the 70s at least.
Andrew chuckled. "Sure, why not?"
"I'm gonna take one with my camera, too, if that's alright."
Martine nodded to JenniAnn and a moment later she, Andrew, Esme, Rose,
Sir Sven, and Yva were smiling at the two photographers.
Soon after, the group realized that boarding time was nearing
and reluctantly parted from the kind people at the shop. Just
they left, Andrew received a slobbery kiss on the cheek from Esme.
"Now, everyone together... aww!!!"
JenniAnn beamed as she placed the photo on the page and held it up for
the other three to see.
Andrew smiled at the image. "I think that may have been my
favorite memory on the islands. Definitely one of them."
"Do you think Esme knew you were really an angel?" Yva asked.
The angel of death shrugged. "I'm not sure. She might
have. Kids recognize us more than adults do."
"Well, whether she knew or not you definitely made an impression on her
and I'm glad Ruben thought to take a photo. She might want to
have that one day," Rose suggested.
"I'm definitely glad to have this one," JenniAnn declared. "You
both look so adorable. In different ways, of course."
Andrew blushed. "Thank you, Laja."
"What's that sound?" Rose asked, looking curiously towards the open
A moment later a food-laden cart appeared with Lady Beth behind it.
"Lady Beth!" JenniAnn greeted. "I'm glad you could make it."
"I would have been here earlier but I thought we could use some snacks
and I didn't think anyone would want under baked cupcakes or to have to
dip their vegetables in the spinach dip whole."
Andrew jumped to his feet to help her unload the cart she was pushing,
pausing to hug her first. "Perfect timing. I knew I was
starting to get hungry when I found myself flipping through photos of
the wedding cake."
The newcomer laughed. "You know I would never let you go hungry,
Andrew. So how's the book coming?"
"We just finished Day 5 of 9," Rose answered. "And we definitely
appreciate the snacks. Are you going to stay?"
"Sure. What can I do to help with the book?"
Yva passed Lady Beth half of a stack of photos.
"Do you want to help me sort these? They're from St. Thomas and
*someone* took easily three dozen shots of the iguanas and birds.
I thought we could help her by just selecting the best two of
each. Or else we'll be working on this until midnight, trying to
cram them all onto the pages along with the ones of the group."
"They were cute!" JenniAnn defended playfully. "But, yeah, no
more than two of both species. This is Andrew's scrapbook.
Not a wildlife photography book."
"Although, if I remember correctly, that was the start of 'AOD Gone
Wild,' wasn't it?" Lady Beth teased.
Andrew shot her an innocent look that asked "Who? Me!?"
"And there we were thinking you two were lost..." Yva crossed her
arms over her chest and gave Andrew and JenniAnn a stern look before
breaking into a smile.
"Oh like you weren't plenty amused by it later!" JenniAnn laughed
and set a photograph of a non-nondescript store onto a fresh page of
August 28th- St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
"I think we better hurry," Andrew
fretted. "Tess might come looking for us."
"Alright, alright. Almost done. Just one more...
There!" JenniAnn tossed a small item into her basket and led the
angel towards the check-out lane. She giggled. "This was
your idea, remember."
Andrew began to relax. "I know. But that doesn't mean I
want found out. At least not yet."
"It's gonna be a lil obvious tomorrow. You do realize that's the
The angel grinned. "Yeah. But I don't want her catching you
being part of it this early on. It might be better if she thought
I roped you into it at the last minute. I probably should have
come here alone."
"You wouldn't have gotten the right stuff."
Andrew knew this was true.
Once they reached the register, after some debate with JenniAnn, the
paid for their purchases. When they exited the store, there was
point in hailing a taxi. From the moment the group had stepped
onto St. Thomas, they'd received myriad and conflicting offers from
assorted drivers of the large, open-air vehicles. The competition
for their attention made JenniAnn nervous and Andrew hurriedly ushered
her into the nearest taxi and paid the driver for them both.
JenniAnn was quiet for much of the ride.
"You all right, Laja?" Andrew checked, beginning to worry that maybe
joking had really scared her. "I was just kidding about
Tess. She won't be that angry."
The woman laughed. "It's not that. Just... ya know, this is
the U.S. Virgin Islands so I thought it might feel more...
home-like. But it doesn't. I guess I'm just getting
Andrew hugged her. "Only two more full days and part of two
more. They'll fly by," he assured.
The taxi paused to let another pass. While it stalled, the angel
noticed a cluster of exotically colored pigeons pecking at the
ground. Andrew hoped to use them to rouse JenniAnn from her
"Laja, look. They have purple on them. But otherwise they
look a lot like ours back home. They remind me of the couple we
saw out your window the day before Valentine's Day.
"I don't feel like a bird and you are not a bird," she echoed herself
from months previously with a small smile as the taxi set off,
startling the pigeons into flight. That morning remained so fresh
and vivid in her mind that for a moment she felt transported back to
her room in Willowveil. When the taxi stopped and they stepped
off, JenniAnn felt at peace and more than a little enamored. Her
homesickness had abated, thanks to Andrew.
Smiling, she quickly shoved the bag from the grocery store into her
walked alongside the angel of death to the beach.
They saw Yva and Sir Sven first. The couple was sprawled on the
sand, gazing up at the sky expectantly.
"Hey there..." Andrew greeted. "You two look comfortable and very
fashionable in your sunglasses but, umm, I never pegged you two as sun
"Just wait," Yva urged.
Andrew and JenniAnn sat down on the sand and did exactly that.
"I think I hear one."
JenniAnn looked curiously at Sir Sven who seemed excited by the
prospect of whatever this "one" was. She noticed that C.J. was in
a lounge chair not far away. A book was poised in
her hand but she was smiling at Andrew and JenniAnn. It took
a moment for JenniAnn to realize that all their friends were peeking
over at them.
"All right, what's going..." Andrew began but was cut off by a loud
noise. Seconds later he and JenniAnn were gaping up at a plane
soaring right above them.
When it was once more quiet and the plane was flying over the sea, the
began to laugh.
"We were going to warn you both but we decided it was better you
experience it like we all did. It turns out the airport is right
behind us," Yva explained.
Adam set down the camera he was holding. "Now, I better see that
one in the scrap book, Lady Luscious."
JenniAnn wrinkled her nose. "I probly look like a dolt in it."
Adam chuckled. "I'd say you look very surprised. But not a
dolt. And it's only fair since you have all those photos of me
doing the Hokey Pokey."
"Oh, all right then."
"Did you get your chai, JenniAnn?" Monica asked.
The caffeine addict nodded. "Yeah. I think I was gonna go
withdrawals without it." She kept to herself that, while she had
indeed bought some chai... or rather Andrew had, it had only been the
cover for the true purpose of their excursion to the store.
"We were starting to worry that you two got lost. I'm glad you're
"It was further away than I thought at first, Tess," Andrew
explained. He looked out to the ocean. "Has anyone gotten
in the water, yet?"
All but C.J., Monica, and JenniAnn nodded.
"It was really great. We saw some fish," Rose answered.
"I'll go back in with you if you want, Andrew."
"Yeah, I'd like that. So where did you see the fish? I
didn't see any yesterday."
They all headed to the ocean, the majority of the group taking to the
deeper, fish-infested waters while C.J., Monica, and
JenniAnn stuck near the shoreline. They'd only been on their own
a few minutes when Andrew surfaced at their side.
"Don't you want to come out there with us? You should see the
fish! Little bright yellow and white ones. And there are
starfish," he enticed. "Someone said they saw a sea turtle but we
haven't seen one yet."
Monica warily shook her head. "I may not be afraid of the water
these days but I think I feel better here."
"Same here," C.J. agreed. It occurred to her that
agreeing with Monica was somewhat novel for her.
JenniAnn looked out to where their other friends were alternately
diving and treading water, seeming to speak animatedly about what they
saw. "Even though I can swim, I just don't know about going all
the way out there. I'll
C.J. and Monica. There are lotsa shells here."
Andrew could tell JenniAnn was conflicted. He knew Vincent had
taught her to swim but distance had never been her strong suit.
gaze settled on a cabana further up the shore. "I'll be right
Curious, the three women watched him step out of the ocean and begin
walking down the shore.
"You don't think he's upset we wouldn't go out there with him, do you?"
C.J. turned away while she rolled her eyes.
"No," JenniAnn responded. "Andrew's not a my-way-or-the-highway
sort of person." Her face lit up when she realized what
he was doing. "He's being chivalrous!"
"What?" Monica looked from one woman to the other in her
C.J. laughed. "Look, he's bringing rafts."
Andrew returned to them, pulling three rafts behind him. "You
don't have to go if you don't want to but I wanted to be sure you all
at least had a chance. So if you want to see the fish and just
don't think you'd
get all the way out there, I'll pull you out."
JenniAnn giggled and hugged Andrew. "I love you!" she
effused. She blushed when she remembered that Monica could
hear. She recalled how a similar declaration had gone
over awkwardly when they'd been in Missouri.
Andrew chuckled and hugged the blushing blonde woman.
"It's just a raft, Laja. But thank you. So who's first?"
"I'll wait," Monica offered.
"Me too. You seem the most excited so you go, JenniAnn."
C.J. handed Monica a raft and took one for herself from Andrew.
"So I should come back for you? Maybe Adam will, too,
so we can get you out there at the same time if you want to go.
But don't feel
C.J. smiled. "I'll be daring. It's not like we do this
Monica nodded. "That's true. I'll give it a try,
"Great! I'll be back soon." Andrew beamed at them both as
JenniAnn settled onto the raft. "Ready?" he asked her.
JenniAnn nodded vigorously and a moment later Andrew was swimming away,
pulling her out to sea.
Monica smiled wistfully as she watched. "He was always doing
things like that."
"Lending a hand when I needed one. He tried to smuggle coffee in
to me when I was in jail once." Monica looked at C.J., wondering
if she'd shocked her.
"Oh, yeah, I remember that."
Monica was surprised for a moment before she remembered that the
Dyelanders knew a great deal about the cases she'd worked with Andrew.
C.J. pointed to the group. "He has JenniAnn out there. And
I don't see Adam any more. They're probably both headed our
way. You ready?" She wasn't a big fan of the water but it
seemed preferable to forced chatter with Monica.
Monica nodded, bracing herself.
Adam rose from the water first, grinning. "Well, ladies, can we
"Sure thing. These fish better be good," C.J. responded.
Andrew surfaced in time to hear her. He laughed. "C.J., I
don't think you'll regret it. And you don't even need to leave
the raft. The water's so clear you can just lean your head over."
"All right..." She settled onto her raft and smiled when Adam
grabbed the cord and plunged back into the water.
Andrew looked to Monica. "Ready?"
She nodded nervously.
"I won't let anything happen to you," Andrew promised.
His tender voice set her at ease. "I know, Andrew. Let's
Once he was sure Monica was secure, Andrew once
more headed out.
Soon the entire group was together again. JenniAnn had already
abandoned her raft and at Tess' prompting, Monica soon did, as
well. C.J. remained on hers, admiring the fish and coral from
there. It also gave her an amusing view of her friends as they
swam with their hair flared out in all directions.
After her fifth sojourn under the water, Monica broke the surface
excitedly. "A turtle! I saw a turtle!"
"No way! I've been out here the whole time and haven't seen a
one. Where?" Yva asked.
Monica pointed about ten feet to their left. "I know I saw
it! It was over there. Look!"
At that, C.J. slid off her raft and joined her friends
underwater in pursuit of the sea turtle. They stayed near the
surface, not wanting to scare the creature.
Andrew was beginning to doubt that they would catch a glimpse when
Monica tugged at his arm and pointed. Sure enough, a sea turtle
swam past them. They watched it for as long as they could before
"Good job, Angel Girl!" Tess applauded once they'd come up.
"That was really cool. Thanks for insisting we look, Monica,"
Lady Beth smiled at the angel.
"I'm just glad we all got to see the wee creature. I've been a
bit fascinated with them every since I had an assignment at a zoo
aquarium last year," she explained. She turned to Andrew, hugging
him as best she could in the water. "Thank you for bringing me
out here, Andrew. I'm glad I came even though I didn't really
"You're very welcome. It's been fun." Andrew smiled at
Monica and each of his friends. "I'm really glad we *all*
out here. It wouldn't have been the same otherwise."
"I couldn't agree more. But unless you have your pocket watch and
it happens to be waterproof, buddy, one of us better head back to see
what time it is."
Sharing Adam's concern, Tess looked up at the sky to try to determine
the time. "I think we *all* best head ashore,
babies," she concluded.
"I think so, too," Rose agreed. "The turtle sighting is a
good note to end this visit on."
Everyone agreed and soon, whether swimming or pulled via raft, all ten
of the party were again on shore. As before, it took no time at
all to get a taxi. Still excited by what they'd seen, they were
a chatty bunch on the ride back. JenniAnn was thoroughly
to find herself engaged in an in-depth discussion with Monica about
frogs, another species the angel had learned a thing or two about at
When they stepped off the taxi, they noticed a crowd at the
edge of the gangway. Moving closer, they saw that the people were
laughing and many were kneeling on the cement.
"What are they all lookin' at?" JenniAnn pondered.
Squinting, Andrew saw what seemed like rocks moving. "There's
something crawling on those rocks."
They hastened their pace and came to where their fellow passengers had
"Andrew! Tess! Look at them! Who do they remind you
Monica asked as she looked down at the lizards crawling around the
Andrew chuckled, crouching down. "They could be Fluffy's brothers
"Tess, don't you want a closer look?" Adam teased.
"That's quite all right, Adam. I'll admire the beauties from a
JenniAnn began snapping photos. "I think they're cute!" she cooed
from behind her camera.
Rose tapped her on the shoulder, pointing to where Monica and Andrew
were laughing as they watched the iguanas gobble up cereal another
tourist was giving them.
JenniAnn snapped a photo of them then turned back to Rose. They
exchanged hopeful smiles.
August 29th- Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands