"Cast your eyes on the ocean.
Cast your soul to the sea.
When the dark night seems endless,
please remember me."
~Loreena McKennitt

Hi all,

So, as I mentioned last time, I never intended this story to be so long that it would require two parts.  Thus, it resumes a bit abruptly.  But I promise there are some fun mental images to follow so please forgive the awkward transition.

If only we could all go on a cruise with Andrew for real...

God bless,

PS- In the next issue, we'll be celebrating Andrew's birthday.  Yay!!!

Where You Go, I Will Go

St. Maarten      ~      St. Thomas      ~      Grand Turk      ~      Confrontation      ~      The Truth


September 3rd


Several minutes had passed since Andrew's departure.  JenniAnn, Rose, and Yva had kept busy with their scrap booking tasks but were beginning to grow antsy.

"I hope he's not nervous about tonight," Rose fretted when she returned from the balcony where she'd gone to check on the angel.

"Monica better come," JenniAnn mumbled.

Yva frowned.  "I hope she does.  Because not only do I know he wants her to visit but... I also think it might sting his pride a little if she doesn't."

Rose nodded.  "He doesn't like it when we feel bad for him  But she..."

JenniAnn began to shush them.  "I hear foot steps."

The three women began to chat idly about plans for the remaining scrap book pages

"Yay!  You're back!" Rose cried when Andrew returned to the office.

"Of course, I'm back.  I wouldn't miss out on reminiscing about the three days on the islands."  Andrew reclaimed his seat and his scissors and stencils.

"I can't believe how quickly those flew by!" Yva exclaimed.

"I think between them all being crammed together and just the novelty of it all, they were bound to."  JenniAnn smiled as she pasted down a postcard from St. Maarten.

"True," Yva agreed.  "I'm afraid they're all starting to blur together for me."

"On St. Maarten I remember mostly shopping.  Or rather escorting all of you as you shopped."  Andrew grinned.  "I've never seen so many doilies!"

"You were a really good sport about all that," Rose complimented.

"Well, it was preferable to all those jewelry stores."  Andrew blushed as the women began to giggle.


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 distance.

"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 thing..."

"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 apparel.

"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 owned stores."

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 local stores."

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 gently.

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 is beautiful."

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 sleeve.

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 volunteer."

"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 date 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 before they left, Andrew received a slobbery kiss on the cheek from Esme.


September 3rd


"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 door. 

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.  So 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 paper.


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 point?"

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 angel paid for their purchases.  When they exited the store, there was no 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 his 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 homesick."

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 melancholy.

"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.  Remember?" 

"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 purse and 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 worshipers."

"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 others 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 into 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 back, babies."

"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 stay with 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.  The angel's gaze settled on a cabana further up the shore.  "I'll be right back."

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?" Monica asked.

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 confusion.

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 obligated."

C.J. smiled.  "I'll be daring.  It's not like we do this everyday."

Monica nodded.  "That's true.  I'll give it a try, Andrew.  Thanks."

"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." 

"Like what?"

"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 escort you?"

"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 go."

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 needing air.

"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 want to."

"You're very welcome.  It's been fun."  Andrew smiled at Monica and each of his friends.  "I'm really glad we *all* came 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 surprised 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 the aquarium.

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 congregated.

"Andrew!  Tess!  Look at them!  Who do they remind you of?" Monica asked as she looked down at the lizards crawling around the rocks.

Andrew chuckled, crouching down.  "They could be Fluffy's brothers and sisters."

"Tess, don't you want a closer look?" Adam teased.

"That's quite all right, Adam.  I'll admire the beauties from a distance."

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


Rose awoke in an excellent mood and spent a few moments recalling the events of the previous day.  From start to finish, it had been a blast.  It was really the first day the group had mostly stuck together.  After boarding the ship following their afternoon at St. Thomas, they'd all washed up and then met for a movie on deck.  Following that had been dinner with Nico and Raquel and a visit to the all-you-can-eat ice cream bar.  Nico had returned to the bridge afterwards but they others had spent a couple hours on their own deck filling Raquel in on their adventures thus far.  They'd waited until after midnight to turn in, knowing they wouldn't arrive at Grand Turk until the afternoon. 

When she finished replaying her favorite moments from Saturday, Rose turned to JenniAnn's bunk to ask what time it was.  She knew her friend almost always rose before she did so was surprised to find that JenniAnn was not there.  However, Rose figured that her cabin mate had left for coffee and would return any minute.  On prior mornings she'd left a note saying as much but Rose figured she'd forgotten or else mislaid the note.

Rose began to get concerned when she finished getting ready for the day and JenniAnn was still absent.  She checked the clock and saw it was only shortly after 7:00.  She stepped onto the deck but it was empty.  She couldn't imagine where JenniAnn would have gone, alone and for so long.

Returning to her bunk, Rose debated whether to alert anyone else.  Before she reached a decision, Rose heard tapping at the deck window.  Relieved, she went to open the door but instead of JenniAnn found Yva.

"Good morning, Rose.  Sir Sven's still asleep but I couldn't get back to sleep and was hoping you or JenniAnn would be up.  It's good to know who the early risers are."

"Good morning.  And I assume JenniAnn *is* up.  But I can't find her anywhere!"

Yva frowned.  "That's strange."  Her expression brightened.  "I bet she's with Andrew and Adam." 

"I thought about asking but if they were asleep I didn't want to wake them up."

"They're probably awake.  And if they're not, at this point they probably want to know if JenniAnn's gone missing.  I hope she didn't get lost.  You know how confused she gets with directions."  Yva turned to the boys' door and knocked.

Adam poked his head out.  "Oh good."  He turned back into the room.  "It's just Rose and Yva."

"Just Rose and Yva, huh?  Sorry we're so disappointing," Yva teased.

Adam laughed.  "You know I didn't mean it that way.  We were just worried you might be Tess."

"And you're worried about Tess coming in because..." Rose prodded.

The angel of death stepped out of the way and held the door open for them.  "Welcome to Lady JenniAnn's Tattoo Parlor."

"Wait... what?"  Rose was very confused.

"Come in and close the door!" JenniAnn called from a spot in the room that the two other women couldn't see until they stepped further in.  Once they had, they noticed that Andrew was seated in a chair with JenniAnn perched on the arm of it holding what looked to be a red pencil.  The angel's right shirt sleeve was rolled up and the woman was drawing on his upper arm.

"I'm getting a tattoo!" Andrew gleefully declared.

"You are not!  That's a pencil!" Yva countered once she was through laughing at the idea and the image.

"Isn't that dangerous?" Rose queried, wondering what would possess Andrew and JenniAnn to think lead against bare skin was a good idea.

"Actually, it's eye liner.  That's what Andrew and I went to get yesterday... well, this and the chai.  And when I'm done, it shall look like Andrew here has a tattoo.  We were gonna do henna but that would last for quite a lot longer than the few hours we need to shake things up a bit for Tess," JenniAnn explained with a mischievous glint in her eye.

Rose smiled and shook her head.  "Did she actually talk you into a Claddagh, Andrew?"

The angel of death shook his head.  "No, I asked her to do this.  Although that comment did give me the idea.  Adam designed this one."

Rose and Yva looked at his shoulder but JenniAnn obviously hadn't gotten very far.

"Adam, can you please show them your drawing?" JenniAnn requested as she began to fill in a heart.

Adam grabbed a piece of paper from off the table and handed it to Yva and Rose.  "I thought it would be cool if a pink, long-stemmed rose shot through the heart but Andrew said no."

"No pink rose," Andrew reiterated.

"Maybe you could have a pink rose, Adam," Yva suggested wickedly. 

The older angel of death shook his head.  "No, I think we're testing Tess enough with one 'tattooed' angel.  I intend to sit back on the beach, sip a cold drink, and watch it all play out."

"Now, the next step.  Rose, could you please hand me the blue one?" JenniAnn requested.

Rose picked up the eye-liner but held it for a moment.  "If I give this to you, does that make me an accomplice?"

"If you're here, you're an accomplice already," Andrew responded with a grin.  "You're not stopping us."

Delighted by the idea, Rose handed JenniAnn the make-up pencil and watched as she outlined the heart.

"And now... the final part.  Black, please."

Yva grabbed the remaining stick and passed it along to JenniAnn.  She, Rose, and Adam watched as JenniAnn wrote L-u-l-u in the center of the heart.  She looked proudly at her work.  "Wait, forgot one thing.  So it doesn't rub off on your shirt, hopefully."  She grabbed a spray bottle from her bag.  "I'm not aiming for your face at all but close your eyes and hold your breath, just in case."

Andrew obeyed.

"What is that?" Adam asked.

"Liquid bandage.  I'm just thinking maybe it'll coat the eye-liner and make it last," JenniAnn explained.  "Okay, done.  Go look in the mirror."

While Andrew admired her handiwork, JenniAnn scrambled for her camera and snapped a photo as he flexed his arm.

"Laja!" he cried.

"But it's a great photo!"  Grinning, JenniAnn pulled the photo back up to view.

Peering over her shoulder, Yva and Rose nodded.

"One of the best of the whole trip!" Rose declared.

"It may not be for long," Yva added, "I have a feeling Tess' reaction shot when she sees that just might take the cake."

As if on cue, a knock came from Monica's and Tess' side of the room.

JenniAnn, Rose, and Yva hurried back into the girls' room after gathering up the "tattoo" supplies.

When Tess walked in to see if they were ready for breakfast, she only found two angels of death, sprawled on their beds watching baseball on TV.


The entire group was gathered on the deck, waiting to dock at Grand Turk.  Andrew was smiling giddily and thinking about his tattoo and Tess' likely reaction.  Without realizing it, he began to roll up his sleeve to check and ensure it hadn't rubbed off onto his shirt. 

Suddenly, he felt a tap on his foot.  He looked across the table with alarm.  JenniAnn shot him a warning look then went back to smiling and nodding as Tess told them all about a recent assignment she'd had as a piano teacher.  Andrew focused on the persistent tapping, realizing it was Tunnel code.

"Stop!  Don't touch sleeve!  Go get pop or something if can't keep mind off it," she messaged.

Andrew suppressed a chuckle, wondering what Pascal would think of JenniAnn's use of his beloved code.  But he knew she had a point.  He was antsy and in danger of spoiling his own surprise.  Once Tess had finished her story, he stood up.  "I'm getting thirsty.  I think I'm going to go get a ginger ale.  Anyone else?  I could get a bucket of assorted sodas or something?"

After taking the order and sneaking a thankful smile to JenniAnn, the angel of death headed to the bar.  He rounded the corner outside its doorway and stopped dead in his tracks.

His overly friendly admirer, Erica, was on the deck outside the bar.  He watched as she pulled a camera from her purse and climbed onto the railing.

"Hey, I wouldn't do that if I were..." Andrew started to warn.

"Just want a picture of the flag on the side of the ship!" the woman bellowed.  She proceeded up another rung on the railing and started to lean over.

Andrew crept closer, reaching out to her.  "I'm sure you can get one when we dock, Erica.  But what you're doing is really danger..."  He gasped when he saw her begin to teeter.  She waved her arms wildly, sending the camera flying into the sea.  Andrew knew at once what he had to do.  He lunged for her and pulled her to him.

"Oh my God.  OhmyGod, ohmyGod!"

Andrew looked down at the girl who was safely in his arms and away from the railing.

"You're glowing!" she shrieked. 

Andrew smiled. 

Erica pulled away and looked over at the railing.  The reality of what had almost happened killed her alcohol-induced buzz.  She began to shake.  "I'm used to living on the edge but that... that was..."  She shook her head and looked back up at Andrew.  "You're... you're an angel."

He nodded and held one of her hands in his own.  "Yes.  And God wants you to know He cares about you, Erica.  He loves you.  And He really wants you to start taking better care of yourself.  You always have an angel watching out for you but, you know, it's good to watch out for yourself, too.  Have fun but just... be careful.  Okay?"

"Okay."  Erica smiled at him.  Then she turned bright red.  "Oh my God...  I, like, totally hit on a guardian angel or something the other day..."

"Something," Andrew agreed with a chuckle.  He didn't feel it necessary to explain his official capacity.  "It's all right.  I'll get over it."

Erica continued to smile through her blush.  "I have really good taste in men... even if not in beverages."

Andrew laughed.  "Thanks."

"I, umm, am meeting a friend so I better get going but, uh... thanks.  For, you know... saving my life."  Erica hugged her hero.

"It was my pleasure.  And remember, God loves you and wants you to enjoy life, Erica.  But safely."

"I'll remember that, Andrew.  Always.  And you."  With a fond smile, she ran off.

Andrew watched her then looked up to the sky.  "Thanks," he murmured.  He always appreciated it when the Father gave him Search and Rescue-style assignments on occasion.  They were a welcome change.  With a contented sigh, he focused on his original task.  Once he'd obtained the sodas, he headed back to his friends.

"Angel Boy, you're grinning from ear to ear!" Tess declared when he stepped out onto the deck. 

As Andrew passed out the sodas, he noticed JenniAnn, Rose, and Yva were looking anxious.  He smiled at them.  "It turns out it was a good thing I went to go get these," he began.  "I had a run-in with Erica."

Everyone but JenniAnn, who had bristled at the name, looked at him with confusion.

"The girl who liked my dreadlocks," Andrew explained before briefly relating the incident to them.  "I think she's something of a daredevil.  Maybe that's why she was drawn to me?"

The women looked at him and shook their heads, sending the clear message that it was quite easy for all manner of people to be drawn to him.

Andrew blushed.  "I think Erica took the message from the Father to heart, though, and will start being more careful.  And I don't think I'll need to be worrying about her hitting on me anymore," he concluded with a laugh.

"I imagine she was quite surprised," Monica mused.

Adam nodded.  "I'm sure she was.  But then our Andrew can be a pretty surprising guy."  He grinned knowingly at Andrew.

Andrew simply returned the smile with one of utter innocence and focused on his ginger ale.


It took only a few minutes for the group to decide that Grand Turk was their favorite island of the four.  The shopping was all organized around a square making it far easier to navigate than the others.  Fountains and elaborate flowers beds dotted the area.  But, of course, the biggest draw was the beach itself.  Its natural beauty offered appeal enough though, for some, this was augmented by a Margaritaville only feet away. 

Once finished with the little souvenir shopping they had left, the ten settled into beach chairs with their margaritas and daiquiris, virgin or otherwise.

"Not only is this island beautiful but I think this is the most beautiful day we've had," Monica opined as a light breeze blew through the palm branches that lent them shade.

"Absolutely heavenly," Tess agreed. 

Andrew nodded, taking a sip of his drink.  "I can't wait to get into the water.  I bet it feels great."

Yva, Rose, and JenniAnn looked away from him, afraid they would start laughing.

"I'm sure the ladies and Sir Sven would watch our drinks if we headed in, Andrew," Adam responded as they'd planned.  "Anyone else going with?"

"Maybe in a few minutes," Lady Beth responded.  "I'm just going to rest for a moment and finish this letter to Henry."  She smiled and turned back to her stationery.

"I think I'll read for a while."  C.J. held up her book.

JenniAnn nudged them and whispered something which made Lady Beth and C.J. look in Andrew's direction.

Tess was sipping her drink when a slight gasp from Monica grabbed her attention.  She followed her former protégé's gaze to Andrew.  He'd shed his shirt but that was hardly reason for her Angel Girl to look so astonished.  Tess wondered what was wrong with Monica.  And then Andrew turned so his right side faced the supervisor.  She wondered why he had such a ridiculously colored bandage on his arm.  Then Tess realized it was no bandage.  She stood up.

"Angel Boy, you get over here this instant."

Both Adam and Andrew approached.

"Not you!  The one with that monstrosity on his arm!" she shouted at Adam.

The girls began to giggle and Sir Sven, not as used to Tess' Tessness, merely balked.

Andrew obediently sidled up to the eldest angel.

"What is that?" she demanded.

"Lulu?  She's my dog.  Remember Tess, you've met her many times."

"But what is your dawg's name doing on your arm?"

"Aww, you know, Tess, I was just thinking how sometimes I have to leave her with Laja but this way there'd be a part of her still with me.  I like the colors, don't you?  And the artistry?  It's beautifully designed and rendered, don't you think?"

"Tess, tattoos can be perfectly respectable.  A great many admirable people have had them," Monica attempted, hoping to diffuse the situation.

Tess ignored her.  "I do not recall seeing this yesterday.  Which means someone has done it recently.  Who's responsible for this?  I can't believe Andrew was able to do this on his own even if he managed to collect the supplies."

Slowly, Adam's and JenniAnn's hands raised.

"I designed it," Adam confessed.

"And I put it on his arm," JenniAnn admitted.

"We both knew about it," Yva added after she and Rose concluded they should have a share of Tess' wrath if it was going to explode.

Tess shot Adam a stern look which briefly settled on Yva and Rose, as well, but directed her attention to JenniAnn.  She recalled the remark the woman had made about her henna abilities.  "And so is this henna?"  The idea brought the supervisor some relief.  At least then it wouldn't be permanently marring her Angel Boy's shoulder.

JenniAnn shook her head.

Tess gaped.  "So you're telling me you actually put a tattoo on this boy?  How... when?  Why?" she demanded.

JenniAnn looked confusedly from Tess to Andrew, unsure how long to let the joke go.

Andrew knew he had to intervene before she began to stress out.  He laughed and held his glass to his shoulder for a moment.  When he pulled it away, the heart had begun to smear.  "It's make-up, Tess.  Eyeliner to be exact."   He put an arm around JenniAnn's shoulders to calm her.  "Aww, come on, Tess.  It's funny!  You wouldn't let Adam and me keep our braids for more than an hour so I figured I could have a tattoo for a day."

Tess' gaze drifted from one pair of green eyes to the other, both twinkling.  It occurred to her to continue to fume about the prank pulled at her expense.  But she found she couldn't.  Not when Andrew seemed so happy and, more than that, carefree.  Standing before her was a mature version of the fun-loving boy she'd first met so many eons before.  And if his accomplices of the day had any part in bringing that aspect of his nature out, she couldn't fault them for any of it.  So she began to laugh.  She hugged Andrew and JenniAnn.  Then Adam and Yva and Rose.  Then she hugged the rest of her "babies" for good measure.

As everyone prepared to to go into the ocean or to the shoreline, they laughed and were filled in on exactly how the "tattoo" had come to be.

Just before they left their chairs, Tess squeezed JenniAnn's shoulder.  "Baby, how about we get a photo of Andrew's tattoo before the sea washes it off?  I want to remember this little prank of yours."

"Yes, ma'am!" JenniAnn readily agreed before she snapped a photo of the blurry heart on Andrew's arm.


September 3rd


"Now... where is that photo?  I had it earlier and then set it aside for when we came to Day 7 and now I need it and can't find it."  JenniAnn bit her lower lip and surveyed the room.

"Found it!" Lady Beth called, smiling as she handed over the image of the tattoo.

"I thought that all ended up being really cute."  Yva smiled as she remembered how Tess' angry expression had broken into a smile.  "I think Tess was just happy to see you happy, Andrew."

"We all love seeing Andrew happy," a new voice responded.

"Hey, C.J.!" Rose greeted.  "Did you get settled back in over the past couple days?"

Taking a seat in the little circle, the new arrival nodded.  "It was a lot quicker than I thought it would be.  The Tunnel kids did a great job checking in on the horses and caring for them and their stalls.  I thought I'd be catching up for days but there wasn't much for me to do except spend time with them and the usual daily chores.  I guess I lost track of time doing that.  I meant to be here earlier."

"It's no problem at all," JenniAnn assured.  "We still have one full day to go."  She froze once she'd uttered the words.

The other four women grew antsy.

Andrew sighed.  His gentle eyes expressed all the love and concern he felt as he looked at each of them.  "There's something I want each one of you to know: no matter what happened that last morning and no matter what happens in the future, the friendships I have with each of you mean so much to me.  So much.  And I know that when some thing's bothering me, if you think you can fix it then you'll do everything in your power to.  But sometimes... sometimes we just can't fix everything for those we love.  But it means a lot to me to know you tried to fix things with Monica.  And maybe some day things between her and me will be like they used to be.  But until then... I know I have five..."  Andrew noticed the dogs rolling on the floor and smiled at them.  "I have seven great friends right here with me and so many others.  And I love them very much and I don't want five of them carrying around something painful on my account."

"It's just... we know you miss her," JenniAnn murmured.

Andrew squeezed her hand.  "I do.  And I'm gonna keep praying that one day we're really good friends again.  But right now... I'm focusing on my friends right here and doing my part to make sure this book is ready for tonight."  He grinned.  "Yva, I think this page of ocean photos needs some glitter.  Your thoughts?"

Yva laughed.  "I don't know, Andrewkins... first you spend part of Valentine's Day in a sequined jacket and now you want to play with glitter?"

The angel cocked an eye brow and considered her reservation.  "I suppose I just like things to match my gem-like, sparkling personality," he jested. 

Rose giggled when he gave her a sly smile.

Lady Beth rolled her eyes and smirked.  "I think we've created an egotistical monster with all those compliments we've thrown your way over the years."

Rose shook her head, looking forlorn.  "We've ruined an angel."

"Tess is going to be really ticked," C.J. lamented with a dramatic sigh. 

Andrew chuckled.  "Hey, all those years of being 'dearest and loveliest' take their toll."  He looked to JenniAnn who had first latched onto that particular sobriquet.  She was smiling as she placed stickers in the scrap book but playfulness wasn't lighting up her eyes as it was for the others. 

When she realized Andrew was peering at her, JenniAnn snapped to attention and smiled more brightly.  "I say give Mr. Sparkling Personality his glitter, Yva.  We'll deal with his pride later."

"Yes, ma'am!"  Yva handed Andrew the glitter pens that were nearest to her. 

"Thank you very much.  Now where exactly should it go..."  Andrew studied the pages spread before him, motioning for Rose and Yva who were nearest to help him decide.  As they did, JenniAnn kept at her stickers.  Lady Beth labeled images and C.J. prepared multi-colored backing for the photos yet to be placed.

As they worked away on the few remaining pages, Andrew stole glances at his friends.  On occasion he caught enigmatic expressions on their face, smiles that never quite made it to their eyes.  He knew that while they were all trying to keep upbeat for the party, that final full day on the ship loomed large for each of them.  Little did he know that it was also on the mind of the lone figure sitting in a field a world away.


August 30th- At sea


JenniAnn finished getting ready for the day and tiptoed to the deck door to avoid waking Rose.  Once outside, she saw only Andrew.  He was leaning against the rail, facing the sun with his eyes closed.  The angel seemed to be at prayer.  JenniAnn told herself she should return to her cabin so as not to disturb him but she was transfixed.

"Laja, come here," he called after a few moments, without looking back. 

Surprised, JenniAnn moved to stand beside him.

"Watch the waves.  I'm sure you'll see one soon."

The woman peered out to the ocean.  She gasped.  "There's a bird!  But how?  I don't see any land."

Andrew smiled.  "It's not a bird.  That's a flying fish.  Look, there's another one."

"I wish the others were up!  Should we get them up?"

The angel shook his head.  "Let them sleep.  I'm sure we'll see them for a while yet."

"See what?" 

The two turned to find Yva exiting her cabin. 

"Flying fish!  Come see!"  JenniAnn excitedly waved the other woman to the railing.

Yva admired the creatures.  "They look like tiny white birds."

"That's what I thought they were at first.  But then Andrew explained what..."  JenniAnn was cut off by a yawn.  "Oof.  I need to get my morning coffee.  Can I get some for either of you while I run up there?"

"Sure, that'd be great," Yva accepted.

"I'd love some, too, but do you want me to go with you, Laja?"

JenniAnn laughed.  "Even though I still get all turned around and confused on here, I have actually memorized how to reach the nearest coffee so I'll be fine.  Watch the fish!"

She returned to her cabin, tiptoed through it, and stepped into the hall where she nearly collided with Monica.  "Ack!  Sorry.  G'morning, Monica.  I was just going to get some coffee for Andrew, Yva, and myself."

"Good morning to you, JenniAnn.  I was headed there, as well.  I tried to wait until later when everyone had woken up but..."  The angel smiled sheepishly.

"I know the feeling.  C'mon!" 

The two climbed the stairs to the main deck and worked their way through several breakfast diners to reach the coffee station. 

"I'll get mine and Yva's if you could get yours and Andrew's," JenniAnn plotted, aware of the growing line behind them.

"Sure."  Monica filled two cups and followed JenniAnn to where the creamer and sugar was laid out.

JenniAnn was adding the proper amount of each to her and Yva's cups when she noticed Monica looking at the assorted offerings in confusion.  "Are you looking for something?"

"I... I can't remember how Andrew takes his coffee."

JenniAnn blinked.  Something about the confession sent a wave of sadness through her but she quickly recovered.  Things were going well and she didn't want to insert angst where it was not wanted.  "Just black so you're good," she responded cheerily. 

They weaved through their fellow passengers again and, due to the full mugs in their hands, opted to take an elevator.  When JenniAnn reached out to hit their floor button, Monica noticed the Claddagh ring on her right hand for the first time.

"You have a Claddagh!"

"Yeah.  A birthday present from Vincent and Catherine a few birthdays ago.  I started wearing it a lot last November."

"I wish I'd noticed before.  We could have shown it to Tess when I was trying to explain how when it's turned inward on the right hand it means..." Monica's voice drifted off when she realized that was exactly how JenniAnn was wearing her ring.  "JenniAnn, I didn't know you had a boyfriend!"

Ill-at-ease, the ring's wearer prayed that the elevator would hurry up and let them out.  "I don't," she responded briefly.

"Ah, then I think perhaps you mean to have it turned the other way."

"No, I don't, actually."  JenniAnn stared at the numbered lights at the top of the elevator, willing the 7 to light up and the doors to open.  "Unmarried, yet committed.  You said it yourself."

Monica was perplexed until it occurred to her that the reason for the position of JenniAnn's ring was sitting on the deck, waiting for his coffee.  She turned to the woman and set a hand on her shoulder.  "You realize he's never going to return your affection.  Not in the same way, I mean.  We're not capable of human love, of marriage, children."

JenniAnn spun around to face Monica, her earlier goodwill dashed.  "Good gosh!  Of course I know that!  You honestly think Andrew's been stringing me along for over ten years?  Exactly what in your experience of him would lead you to believe he'd be that careless and that selfish?"

The angel stepped back.  "Nothing.  I'm sorry.  I just thought...  It seems so sad for you."

"Oh, some thing's definitely sad.  But it's not how *I* feel about Andrew." 

The doors slid open and JenniAnn burst from them.  She opened her cabin door, silently holding it for Monica.  When they both stepped in, JenniAnn realized that Rose had awakened and left the cabin.  She went to the coffee table near the deck door and set down one of the cups she'd carried.  "Can you please give that to Yva?  I just need to rest for a few minutes.  I don't feel so well."

Monica nodded and reached for the woman's hand.  "I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings, JenniAnn."

The words only angered the woman more.  "Forget about it," she muttered before stepping into the bathroom and locking door.

With a sigh, Monica picked up the other coffee mug and gently kicked the deck door until Rose opened it for her.

"Thanks!"  Andrew smiled up at Monica as she handed him the coffee.  "Wait, where's JenniAnn?"

Monica looked at the floor.  "She said she wasn't feeling well and needed to rest."

The angel of death began to stand up.  "She seemed fine earlier.  I better go check..."

"No, Andrew, it's okay.  You stay.  I will," Yva offered.  She suspected that JenniAnn's sickness had everything to do with Monica and she wasn't likely to talk about it with Andrew.

"I'll go, too," Rose offered.

"Yva, your coffee."  Monica held her mug out to her.

Yva accepted it with thanks and followed Rose.

The angels watched as the two women entered the cabin.

Andrew turned to Monica.  "She didn't have a seizure, did she?"

Monica shook her head.  "I need to go talk to Tess," she blurted and rushed to her cabin door.

Andrew was left alone, feeling immense confusion as he looked from one door to the other.  "What is going on?" he asked, looking up at the sky.  He felt as he sometimes did when an assignment went wrong, owed partly if not entirely to his actions.  "This has to do with me, doesn't it?"  He hung his head as his theory was verified.  "Father, what am I supposed to do?  Please, tell me," he begged.


Yva and Rose stepped into the cabin to find JenniAnn sitting on her bed, frantically writing in her journal.

"Hey, what's up?" Rose asked as she and Yva took a seat on her bed.

"Monica said you weren't feeling well and Andrew wanted to come check on you but I had a feeling just Rose and I should," Yva explained.

JenniAnn set down her pen and looked up at her friends then at the curtain covering the deck door.  She wondered if Andrew was still out there and if he suspected what was afoot.  She wanted to go to him but knew she couldn't.  "It's probly for the best," she concluded aloud.  "I don't know what I could say to him right now.  Monica told me she thinks I'm sad.  Probly pathetic, too."

"She said that?"  Yva was surprised that the angel would be so tactless.

"Not the pathetic part.  Although she certainly gave me a pitying look.  She said the thing with Andrew and me was sad.  And she told me that he couldn't return my feelings.  As if he's somehow been leading me on all these years!  And *my* relationship with him is sad?  At least I didn't freakin' run out on him when he needed me like she did back in Missouri!"

"I'm sure she just meant that...  well, you know how Monica tends to idealize human romances and babies," Rose tried to reason.  "She's probably just thrown by the fact that you care so much about Andrew when he can't give you either."

"I *know* that's what it is.  And that just makes it worse!" JenniAnn cried.  "Some of us love Andrew without thinking of what he can or can't give us.  Why doesn't she?  And why is all the compassion always directed at us?  Andrew's borne his share of pain in this friendship."

Before either Rose or Yva could respond, there came tapping on one of the doors.  The three women looked at each other, slightly panicked, before realizing that it was coming from C.J.'s and Lady Beth's side and not the boys'.  No one was entirely prepared to package the ordeal in a way that wouldn't make Andrew feel bad.

Rose got up to let their friends in.

"What's going on?" C.J. asked.  "We thought we heard cry..."  She turned to see JenniAnn with her streaked face.  "What's the matter?"

JenniAnn related the conversation with Monica as she, Yva, and Rose made room for Lady Beth and C.J. on the bunks.


Tess was trying to decide which of her angel pins to wear for the day when she heard the deck door slide open.  She smiled in greeting but the expression faded when she saw how troubled Monica looked.

"What's wrong, Miss Wings?"

Monica slumped into a chair.  "I think I upset JenniAnn."

"You took the last cup of coffee?"

Monica smiled briefly before shaking her head.  "We went to go get coffee for ourselves and Yva and Andrew.  And on the way down I noticed she had a Claddagh ring.  And she was wearing it in the way I was telling you about.  Single but committed.  So I asked if she had a boyfriend and...  Turns out that it's Andrew.  I mean he's not her boyfriend, of course.  But he's the reason her ring is like that.  When I tried to talk to her about it, she got very upset and angry.  I wasn't judging her, Tess.  But don't you think it's sad?"

Tess sat in the chair across from Monica.  "No, baby, I don't.  But that's beside the point.  Are you sure JenniAnn was really upset about what you might think of *her*?"

Monica nodded.  "Yva and Rose went to check on her.  I think they thought so.  What else could it be?  "

"Maybe you should ask them.  Monica, the Father gave you an amazing gift: the truth.  Now I think it's time you face the truth: yours and theirs.  Then hopefully, when you've discussed your truths, you'll come to the Ultimate Truth."

"You mean I should go... talk with them?"  Monica looked doubtful.

Tess squeezed her hand.  "Not should, baby, must."

Drawing in a deep breath, the auburn-haired angel rose from her chair and headed to the door.


Andrew didn't know where Adam had gone off to so he left his bunkmate a note indicating he would be in Raquel's cabin, where the Father had directed him.  The angel of death was hesitant.  He felt odd about visiting the newlywed so early but as the visit was the Father's bidding, he knew he was in the right.  Taking his coffee with him, he headed to the captain's suite.

Raquel welcomed him at the door with a hug.  "Good morning!  I was hoping you would come, Andrew.  Nico's doing the morning shift and it's such a beautiful morning to sit on the deck and share coffee and a chat with a friend!"

"Good morning to you, too, Raquel.  You look lovely.  Married life is agreeing with you," the angel greeted with an affectionate smile as he returned her hug.

"That and the sea definitely is.  At first I was a little nervous about the idea of spending so much of the year on a ship but... I could get used to it."  She glowed as she led Andrew to the deck and settled into a chair, looking as comfortable as if she'd been there all her life.  "How are the ladies and Adam and Sir Sven?" she asked once the angel had also taken a seat.

Andrew stared into his coffee cup.  "I'm not sure."

The woman looked at him in alarm.  "You haven't seen any of them yet this morning?  I thought there were some early risers in the group."

"I saw Monica, Yva, Rose, and JenniAnn.  And everything was really great.  We saw flying fish.  But then...  Something happened between Monica and JenniAnn.  And then things got weird.  Monica hurried off to her cabin and JenniAnn wouldn't come out of hers and Yva and Rose seemed to think they should check on her without me.  I guess..."  Andrew paused.  "I'm sorry.  I shouldn't be going on like this during your honeymoon."

"Andrew, my entire life is going to be a honeymoon, now!  I live on a cruise ship!" Raquel exclaimed.  "I can definitely spare a few minutes or even hours to listen to a very good friend who, God knows, has listened to me plenty.  So speak up!"

Smiling sheepishly, Andrew continued.  "Point taken, thank you.  I guess I feel like sometimes the girls worry too much about how I feel and get too upset when they think I've been hurt."

"Have you been hurt?"

Andrew considered the question.  "Yes.  Sometimes.  But it's my own fault.  I'm not very good about speaking up.  How are people supposed to learn what upsets me when I don't do that?"

"You have a very expressive face, Andrew.  I imagine a lot of people can probably pick up on it when you're hurt, even if you don't say it."

"I suppose."

"I know I haven't known you as long as your other friends here.  But it seems to me like when you know someone's in pain, you don't ask if they need you.  You just go to them.  Like you did with me from the very beginning.  You came to my house because you knew that I'd want to talk to someone about my daughter.  I didn't know you so I certainly didn't ask you.  You just came.  Just like you came by to visit all those times since.  And maybe, knowing that, the girls hurt for you when they see that not everyone treats you the same way.  Some people seem to need a special invitation to reach out to you.  That bothers them and maybe even angers them."

The angel was surprised at how familiar Raquel seemed to be with the situation. 

The woman picked up on his dismay.  "Andrew, between the letters and phone calls and visits with the girls, I've picked up on a few things.  I know you and Monica used to be closer than you are now.  And I know that's a source of some anger and sadness... and hope... for your friends.  They just want you to be happy."

"I know."  Andrew looked to his friend with a wistful smile.  "The distance between Monica and me... it does make me sad.  We shared so much during the years we worked together.  I think I knew things about her she didn't even know herself.  And maybe she knew a thing or two about me I didn't, too.  But now...  Do you know that if I pay attention, I can tell which of the girls is coming up behind me based on their footfalls?"

Raquel laughed.  "Now that's talent!"

Andrew smirked then brushed his hand through his hair as the levity faded from his eyes.  "Yesterday at breakfast, Monica came right up behind me in the buffet line and I didn't even acknowledge her until I saw her.  I thought she was a stranger.  When I think about things like that... it hurts.  But the girls shouldn't be the ones having to deal with that for me.  They shouldn't have to deal with a lot of the things they do because of me."  He moved to the railing and stared out at the horizon.

"Maybe it's not a matter of should or shouldn't.  I think they need to, Andrew.  They need to do this for you and for themselves, too."  Raquel smiled encouragingly and squeezed Andrew's hand once she'd approached him.  "It'll be all right.  It's in God's hands, after all."

Andrew bowed his head and smiled, thankful that he knew her last statement was true.


Monica stood outside Rose's and JenniAnn's cabin for a few moments before finally raising her hand and knocking. 

Lady Beth opened the door.

"Could I come in, please?" the angel requested.  "I think we all could use a talk."

Lady Beth looked back at her friends for a consensus before letting Monica pass.

The angel settled into a chair near the beds.  "JenniAnn, I should apologize for what I said to you.  I may not understand how you feel about Andrew but I shouldn't have assumed it was sad.  And I should have known Andrew would never do anything to mislead you."

"Thank you.  But that's not even why I was upset.  Sure, it stings the pride a lil to feel pitied but... there's more to it than that.  Sometimes I just feel like..."  JenniAnn paused and looked to her friends for guidance.  They encouraged her with nods and smiles.  She turned her attention back to Monica.  "I feel like you don't understand that we simply love Andrew.  And even when you do seem to understand, all your compassion seems to go to us and not him.  To feel bad for me because I can't marry him or have children with him kinda makes it seem like you don't get why I'd have such a strong attachment to Andrew as he *truly* is.  You give the impression that I'd have to be somehow deluded or mistaken to feel as I do!"

"I don't think you're deluded," Monica assured.  "I can understand why you care for Andrew.  He's a wonderful angel."

"He is.  And caring.  And sensitive.  And it hurts him when his friends avoid him," Rose stressed.  "Right after we met Raquel, you told Yva and me that you would try to visit.  That you would try to accept Andrew as he really is, not just the invincible rock you've counted on him to be in the past.  But I can count on one hand the number of times we've seen you since!  Of course, maybe you've been meeting with him away from Dyeland and if that's the case..."  Rose studied the angel.  She couldn't imagine Andrew never mentioning such meetings but held out a glimmer of hope.

Monica looked down at her hands.  "No, I haven't.  I'm sorry.  I did come in November when I heard about..."  Her voice drifted off as she recalled Tess coming to find her and telling her that Andrew had been hurt during his assignment with the homeless.  She sighed and look up at her listeners.  "It can be so hard when you're used to seeing someone in a particular light.  When we worked cases together... Andrew was always the least shakeable one.  He was the only one of the three of us to never get sent to God's Country.  And when something happened to Tess or me, Andrew was still as strong as always.  I felt comfortable knowing that, it felt safe to count on him to always be there with a comforting smile and ready hug.  Even though I'm a supervisor now, I liked believing that if things got terribly rough, I could still go to him and find him as he'd always been.  But I... it hurts me to see him vulnerable.  That's not the Andrew I knew."

JenniAnn leapt off the bed and began pacing.  "He's always the same Andrew!  And, yes, it does hurt to see him vulnerable.  Believe me, I know.  We all know.  And there have been times I haven't treated him as he deserved to be treated.  I never visited him when he was in jail, for instance.  I couldn't bear to see him like that.  But ya know what?  I grew up!  I grew up and saw that he was another child of God with a breakable heart.  And I have tried to do what I can to be there for him.  Even when it hurts."

"Especially when it hurts because those are the times he most needs us," C.J. added.

"I know his heart breaks sometimes.  I do.  Please don't think I never felt for him.  I did!" Monica insisted as tears filled her eyes.  "But even when he did struggle, he seemed to always pull himself out of it.  He didn't seem to need me."

Monica's repeated use of past tense sent a chill through the Dyelanders.  It seemed as if whatever place Monica saw for herself in Andrew's life, it wasn't in the present.

Yva sighed with exasperation and looked out the glass door.  After a spark of inspiration, she picked up the conversation.  "Imagine you're in the ocean, Monica.  The waves have carried you out farther than you intended to go.  Nonetheless, you're reasonably sure that you can make it back to the shore.  But doing so seems daunting.  Wouldn't you feel better if a friend swam out to meet you?  Even knowing you probably don't need their help in order to survive, wouldn't just having them there mean so much to you?"

"Monica, nobody in this room believes they've saved Andrew from destruction.  No one believes that, without them, Andrew would fall or walk away from the Father.  But we do know that we're his friends.  And that means being with him in the good times and the bad times."  Lady Beth smiled at Yva.  "It means swimming out to meet him even though we know he can make it back to the safety of the shore all by himself."

Monica shook her head in frustration.  "But that involves knowing he's out to sea!  Andrew would never say when he needed help!  But obviously he does with you!  All the way back to 2000, I could tell he was drawing close to his new friends.  I was happy for him but a part of me... I could never seem to get through to him but he could open up to a bunch of girls barely into adulthood?"  With those words, Monica realized she'd come to at least one of the truths she had to face.  She really was deeply jealous of Andrew's friends, not simply herself younger.  She saw in them the friendship she'd once had with Andrew... except more.  "Clearly you've been a better support to him than I ever was," she continued.  "And he has his little jokes with you.  The tender moments.  You're the ones he chose to change the entire course of his life for!"

The five women looked at each other in alarm, no one knowing how to respond.  They hadn't realized Monica knew about Andrew's plan to age along with them.

"'Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.  Your people will be my people and your God my God,'" JenniAnn murmured to calm herself, hoping it would bring peace to the others, as well.

Monica jolted.  "What does that mean to all of you?  Please.  Tell me.  I saw the way you and Andrew looked at each other at the wedding when I read that."

"I think it's why Andrew made that decision... about aging with us.  At least that's what Eli told me the morning I found out and was so distraught," JenniAnn explained.  "Like Ruth in the Bible, Andrew doesn't want to stay behind and leave his friends to make a potentially heartbreaking journey alone."

"That just proves it... he's closer to all of you now," Monica insisted as her voice trembled.

"That's not what JenniAnn meant at all," Rose retorted.  "It just shows the lengths to which Andrew will go for his friends.  Don't you dare think he's never done anything just to make life a little easier for you.  He made that same unselfish choice every time he helped you even when he knew that you wouldn't always be there to help him.  Even when he knew that his decision would make things more difficult for him.  And now you talk as if he's the one who cast you off.  But he's tried and tried to stay friends with you, Monica!  You keep running away!  Where were you for most of November and December?  He could have used another friend then!  We could have used another person to talk to!"

The angel remained silent as she considered Rose's distraught questioning.  Clearly discussion of her abandonment of Andrew during that tumultuous time was unavoidable.  "I... I hated seeing him like that," she acknowledged aloud for the first time.  "I hated thinking about what he'd experienced.  I hated thinking that some... some children had managed to harm someone I looked up to, someone I once leaned on.  And when I saw how all of you doted on him... how much your attention and your kindness meant to him... I didn't see a reason to continue coming and feeling so badly!"

JenniAnn glared at her, prepared to launch into a rant about how she'd hated cleaning up Andrew's blood and how they'd all hated sitting in the hospital waiting room and despised being in the courtroom and wanted to rail at those boys every time they saw Andrew struggle with his limited abilities once his arm was in the cast.  But she knew that would get them no where.  Drawing in a deep breath, she changed the subject.  "I'm sorry if you're jealous and confused or whatever.  I do sympathize.  I spent four years jealous of you for getting to spend time with Andrew during cases.  It's not a great feeling.  But I think you're making the same mistake I did: thinking Andrew loves some of us more than others.  Do you remember that time we talked in the kitchen in Missouri, Monica?  I told you that friends weren't interchangeable with Andrew.  That's still true.  And I told you that he missed you.  He still does.  And... and I do, too.  I-I looked up to you so much and then you were just... gone..." JenniAnn murmured, sniffling.  "And we've all been at his side for nearly every Christmas party and birthday celebration that we hoped you'd come to.  And, ya know, no matter how many of us were there... he never stopped hoping you'd walk through the door."

Monica brushed at a few tears.  JenniAnn spoke so sincerely.  She knew her words must be true.  It pained her to think of Andrew, patiently waiting for her so many times and to no avail.  She felt her jealousy beginning to fade away.  He cared about her and wanted her friendship.  No matter how many friends he'd made, her visits would have been appreciated.  She smiled sadly as she recalled how jealous she'd once been of Tess' love for Andrew.  She'd made the same mistake again and, once more, Andrew had paid for it with his own hurt feelings.

Unsure what to make of the angel's silence, C.J. spoke.  "Monica, do you really think Andrew just casually started telling us when his feelings were hurt?  Because I sure don't remember it that way."  She shook her head.  "We had to assure him, over and over, that we wanted to be there for him.  And sometimes we still have to do that.  But it's worth it."

"Definitely," Rose agreed.  "But Andrew's face and body say a lot that Andrew's voice can't.  And when he does speak up: we believe him.  We don't suggest that maybe he misinterpreted something.  We don't take the side of someone we just met because we find them impressive.  We trust that when Andrew speaks up, he knows what he's talking about."

Monica hung her head.  Her relief at finally setting aside her jealousy fell away as they returned to the deeper issue.  She had to admit to herself that she had on more than one occasion dismissed things Andrew had said.  She'd never considered what impact that would have on him.  Still, she knew she had tried to reach out to him at times over the years.  And they needed to know that.  "I know it may not seem that way... but I have tried to be there for Andrew.  I truly have," she stressed.

"I know you have.  He's mentioned cases when you truly helped him."  Yva smiled sympathetically at her.  "But I also think..."  She paused to consider her words carefully, not wanting to push Monica away.  "Sometimes mixed signals were sent."

"What do you mean?"

"I think sometimes Andrew wasn't sure if you truly wanted to help him or if you were just being polite," Yva clarified.

"Of course I wanted to help him!  What could have given him any other idea?" Monica questioned.

"I can remember shortly after Andrew first came to Dyeland.  Sometimes he'd bring you and Tess.  And sometimes I'd watch the two of you.  The way you'd hug and say really warm, loving things to each other," JenniAnn recalled, reclaiming a seat on her bed so she could look into Monica's face.  "It reminded me of why I liked the show so much, even before I knew the real story and you real angels.  But after having met Andrew... I started to think a lil differently about it.  And I don't know if it really was this way when you were working together but... sometimes it seemed like it was you and Tess, bound together by this amazing friendship, and there was Andrew just looking on from the sidelines.  Maybe that made it hard for him to know it was okay to open up to you," she hypothesized.

Hundreds of memories washed over Monica as JenniAnn spoke.  All the little comments and embraces she and Tess had exchanged that left Andrew out.  All the times they'd hastily made reference to him, as if he was an afterthought.  There had even been times she'd looked at him in disappointment when he showed up to a case.  She'd never meant it personally.  It only signified that she was concerned that an assignment would pass away before she was able to help them recognize an important truth.  But she'd never told him that.  And there had been times, especially as the years wore on and they neared the end of the road they'd walked together, when Monica thought it seemed as if Andrew was growing weary.  He didn't joke or tease as much as he had.  He seemed more troubled by assignments than he had been in prior times.  Monica had been confused by the change.  She'd been surprised when she'd heard about him smashing the computer of an Internet predator.  He'd seemed more than usually bothered after a case they'd worked on at a college campus had exposed an attempted rape.  The dismay and horror he'd expressed when a young woman was savagely beaten had been understandable yet shocking.  Soon after he'd nearly walked off a case when a short-tempered undertaker had allowed a little girl to be frightened.  Each time Monica had felt as if she should gently question him and see what was behind his melancholy.  Yet she'd let most opportunities pass because, with time, she'd developed a theory as to why her friend had altered.  And it was one she didn't think she could reconcile herself with.  Her recently vanquished jealousy was nothing compared to the emotions she felt when she allowed herself to consider her theory.

She looked up at the subjects of her theory, all five of them sitting across from her.  "I never wanted Andrew to feel left out," Monica began.  Tears slid down her cheeks no matter how often she tried to blink them back.  "A part of me has always wanted to listen to him, to be there for him."

"But the other part?" Lady Beth asked.

"The other part was afraid of what would come pouring out if he did tell me what was in his heart.  I... I was afraid I would lose the Andrew I could lean on, the Andrew who would help me," the caseworker confessed.

"I guess that's what I don't understand," Rose shot back.  "I can see feeling that way when you first met him and were so new to caseworking.  But after a while didn't you want a more equal friendship?"

"We do want to understand, Monica," JenniAnn assured.  "But I've thought the same thing Rose does.  It was nice, for a while, to see Andrew as this invincible force of nature that I could just unload on and have pull me back up.  But after a while that just wasn't enough."

Yva nodded, knowing exactly how her friend felt.  "We didn't want to keep dumping our burdens on him unless we could begin to help carry or do away with some of his."

"Yes, exactly!" JenniAnn effused, smiling at Yva before turning back to Monica.  "You are such an amazing, giving, dedicated angel.  And I'm sure you're a wonderful supervisor.  Tess often says how much you grew in the time she supervised you and she's so proud!  And so is Andrew."

Rose's face lit up with amusement as she thought of some of her talks with Andrew when he was in a nostalgic mood.  "You should see how his eyes twinkle and how proud he looks when he talks about some of those cases and how you handled them!"

JenniAnn reflected on some of her own memories of Andrew in just such a mood before she resumed a more serious tone.  "Monica, I know you've handled cases that I can't imagine dealing with.  So that's why I don't get this.  I don't understand how your capacity to deal with all the trauma and heartache and cruelty of humanity grew... how your ability to help other, less-experienced angels matured... and yet how you feel about Andrew, what you expect from him... it seems rooted in your earliest days with him."

Monica looked up, eyes blazing.  Her theory, her truth she was so ashamed of, could no longer be withheld.  "Don't you think I wonder the same thing?  Don't you think I've tried?  But I can't!  And now... with all of you... I don't know that I ever can!" she wailed.

The Dyelander women stared at her in dismay. 

Lady Beth was the first to attempt a response.  "Monica, what about us makes it more difficult for you to reach out to Andrew?

"This isn't just swoop in, help the human.  Swoop out, help another," she explained as her voice cracked.  "With little exception there's always been a barrier between us and the humans we meet.  We seldom see them again on earth.  We move on.  But, for Andrew, that barrier was forever broken after he first came to Dyeland.  And each case was just a wee bit harder than it might otherwise have been.  You think I don't understand Andrew but I understand him all too well!  You made every case more personal to him.  And if I couldn't comfort him before, how was I supposed to when the pain hit him that much more deeply?  When it still does?"  Tears were pouring down her cheeks but she left them unchecked, no longer caring.  Her watery gaze rested on JenniAnn.  "After Dawn died, you told me that I needed to be there for Andrew... when all of you can't.  What if I don't want that job?  What if I don't have the strength for that job?" she demanded.  "If I couldn't reach him on my own when a man he only knew for a few months killed himself... If I had no words for him when he wept for a young girl who loved him...  If I couldn't quiet his anger when a woman he never knew was brutally assaulted...  You wonder how I could run away from him during our assignment with Raquel?  It was because I saw how grieved Andrew was by Dawn's murder.  Here was a girl he'd bonded with, a girl who reminded him of all of you.  He struggled with her death even in the midst of all of you there to cheer him and hug him.  How am I to reach him if something terrible happens to one of you?  How can I look into his eyes and see his soul and face the deep, immense pain I may very well find there?  He loves all of you.  And every last one of you will leave him.  I am not the one to help him when that time comes!"

There was only the sound of crying for several minutes.  Monica had hit upon what was one of the deepest fears for every Dyelander.  Yet, in the wake of the angel's acknowledgment of it, the anger in the room dissipated.  The women realized that Monica did understand and sympathize with Andrew in a deep, meaningful way.  What she knew frightened her and even repelled her.  But she'd obviously given Andrew more thought than any of them had ever realized. 

Finally, Yva spoke.  "Monica, don't you think we've talked about those sorts of things with Andrew?  We know that we've impacted how he does his job.  We wish it weren't the case but it is.  But we also know that both he and Adam and assumedly Henry feel it makes them better angels.  And we also believe that the good outweighs the bad on both sides.  You worry about our deaths and the impact that will have on Andrew.  But what about our lives with him?  No matter how we go Home, we'll have left him and each other with so many wonderful memories!"

Lady Beth nodded.  "And Andrew has said he'll carry them with him always.  And Monica... we all want you to be part of those memories.  Asking you to comfort him when we're gone is a big task.  But it's one we humans face through out our lives.  It's one we faced this entire week in being here with Raquel, helping her to remember Dawn.  When our lives are over, it isn't necessarily the case that Andrew will lament how they ended.  Maybe he'll just want to look back and laugh over the good times with someone.  And even when it comes to the darker memories... you have the strength to listen.  You have the strength to support him.  I know you do, Monica.  Just trust yourself!"

Monica looked doubtfully at the woman.

"Do you remember Saturday at the beach?  You were nervous about going out there into the deep water, right?" C.J. asked.

Monica pushed away the hair that was plastered to her face and nodded.

"But once you were out there with Andrew and all of us, you enjoyed yourself.  Then you saw something remarkable that no one else did.  The turtle.  If you hadn't overcome that first fear, you would have missed a really amazing experience.  We all would have.  Maybe Andrew is..." C.J. laughed at the strange image in her head before she continued.  "Andrew is like that turtle in the ocean.  It can be scary to confront those deep emotions of his.  But when you do, we can all promise you that you'll find a richer, more amazing friendship with him."

"You won't regret it, Monica," Lady Beth assured.  "And I hope it happens in our lifetime.  But if it doesn't... when the day comes, and I believe with all my heart it will... you'll have five pairs of eyes smiling down on you."

JenniAnn tore a page from her journal.  After scrawling something on it, she passed the page to Monica.  "When we were ashore yesterday, Yva called Willy and Nigel and I called Catherine and we arranged for a welcome home/reunion party on Friday.  Please come if you can.  And if you can't, we'll arrange another one.  Please, Monica," she pleaded.

The angel accepted the piece of paper with a tearful smile.  "I'll try.  I really will.  I promise."

Rose reached for her hand as she turned to go and stared straight into her eyes.  "I'm holding you to that."

"We all are," Yva added.

With a solemn nod, Monica left the cabin.


September 3rd


Adam climbed the stairs to JenniAnn's office, careful not to damage the walls or any of the paintings hanging from them as he carried a large, flat object covered by a sheet.  Once he reached the landing, he set his burden on the floor and pulled back the covering.  He smiled at what it revealed.  And he remembered how it had come into being.


The angel looked up to see Yva standing in the door way.

"We're glad you got here.  And at the perfect time."

Adam gave her a quizzical expression.  "I feel like I'm actually somewhat late."

Yva frowned and stepped into the hallway.  "We're scrap booking the last day on the ship and... it's a little sad."

Adam's brows furrowed.  "So a little distraction would be a good thing?"

Yva nodded eagerly.

"Well, as it happens, I think I have just the thing!"  Adam waved his hand to the canvas he'd propped against the wall.

"Do you need help with bringing it..."  The woman smiled at the object.  "Oh, Adam, it's beautiful.  Did you make the frame?"

The angel nodded proudly.  "I did.  But I think the photo's even more beautiful."  He smiled at it once more before re-covering it for transport.  "Will you watch me and make sure I don't hit any of the walls?  It's only by God's grace I didn't on the way up.  Literally."

Yva laughed.  "We heard some noise.  That's why I came out."

Andrew joined them.  "Whoa.  I didn't realize it was that big.  Here, let me help you, buddy."

"It's not heavy.  Just bulky.  I probably should have left it downstairs but I wanted you all to see it."

"I'll watch the walls," Yva assured as the two angels lifted the frame and steered it into JenniAnn's office.

Once they'd set it down, Adam was greeted with several hugs. 

"We were afraid you were running late and wouldn't get here to help and maybe not even for the party," JenniAnn admitted.

Adam smiled.  "I finished my assignment on time but the frame gave me a little trouble."

"Can we see it, please?" C.J. implored.

"You better look at it!  I don't want to have dragged it up all those steps for nothing," Adam teased.

"You should have called ahead!  We would have helped," Lady Beth chastised.

Adam shrugged.  "I like the element of surprise.  Ready?"

When the others nodded, he pulled away the sheet.

Andrew reached out and ran his hand over the beautifully carved frame and gazed at the photograph.  "I love it, buddy.  It's beautiful," he murmured.

They all looked on admiringly, recalling the circumstances behind its creation.


August 30th


After a strained and quiet breakfast on the deck, Adam stood and tapped his fork against his orange juice glass.  "Everyone, I'd like to make an announcement."

Once his three fellow angels, the six Dyelanders, and Raquel were all looking up at him, Adam sat back down and smiled at them all.  "With our esteemed captain's permission, I spent this morning hiding clues for a scavenger hunt all around the ship.  I thought it would be a nice way to bid this beautiful ship that's been our home for a week good bye.  And to have a little fun.  Together."  He fumbled around in his pocket, at last producing an index card which he handed to Andrew.  "Buddy, you get everyone started."

Andrew accepted the card with a grin.  "So that's where you were this morning."

"I thought about going to the salon and getting a mohawk but I figured we'd already put Tess here through enough."  He squeezed her shoulder.  "This seemed like a better idea."

Tess laughed and hugged Adam's arm.  "A much better idea, baby."

"Thank you.  So I'll tag along in case you all get hopelessly lost but I think you'll manage.  So let's go!"  Adam held open the door and excitedly ushered the entire group into his and Andrew's cabin and then into the hall.  "Andrew, read the clue."

Andrew cleared his throat and recited.  "'If you want to see a view to wow then going here is one way how.  At the aft there's a view of what's come til now but to see what's ahead you go to the...'"

"Prow!" Sir Sven called.

"Good one!" his wife cheered as the group made their way to the front of the ship as quickly as they politely could.

When they reached the prow, Sir Sven was the first to glimpse the card taped to the railing and snapped it up.  "'We may not be the types to play keno but if we wanted to pretend we were in Reno then we'd head to the ship's...'"

"Casino!" Raquel shouted.

Adam hung back for a moment as the others ran ahead.  He was delighted by the sight of ten adults running and laughing like little children.  Before joining them, he turned to look at the sun.  Through out the week he had sensed a growing tension between members of the group.  It was why he'd swooped Monica away after noticing how stilted things were between her and Andrew on the dance floor.  But not wanting to further their estrangement,  he'd also made a point to pull out C.J.'s raft the day before.  In doing so he'd ensured Andrew would be entrusted with Monica's so they could begin to remember the way things had once been.  When the angel had awoken that morning, he had known things were coming to a head.  He had prayed for a means to ease the way for everyone.  The answer had come in a stack of index cards, a pen, and an idea.  "Thanks for the inspiration, Father," he whispered before turning to follow the crowd. 


After figuring out eighteen hints, the group finally came to the end of the game.  Adam stood in front of the door to the ship's ballroom.

"I'm glad everyone enjoyed playing.  And," he examined his pocket watch, "it took you about as long as I thought it would.  So, as your reward for a game well played, with Nico's help I arranged a special lunch for us all.  And a surprise.  Without further adieu..."

Everyone entered the room, pleased to see that Adam had managed to order up all of their favorite treats and dishes from their time on the ship.  At the opposite end of the room from the buffet table, a photographer was readying his equipment.

"The surprise is a photo session?" Monica guessed.

Adam beamed.  "Yes.  Nico actually inspired it.  I've been thinking a lot about what he said that first day.  About the wedding bringing together two families.  That's a really impressive thing.  But I don't think it only happens with marriage.  Over ten years ago my buddy there pretty much stumbled into a field.  And he met some pretty great girls there.  And he grew to love them and all the others who came after them.  And he decided to share what he'd discovered with his friends: Tess, Monica, Henry, me, and others through out the years.  Andrew brought together two families.  And I think it's high-time we had a professional family portrait.  At least the beginnings of one.  We'll have to take another... back home," he added euphemistically, aware of the crew members milling around.  "So let's get that done and then have some lunch!"

His speech had moved them all but they were warned away from tears because of the impending photograph.  Adam lined them all up then took his own place.

"Okay, everyone, on three say 'turkey'!" Adam directed.

"Turkey, baby?" Tess questioned.

The angel of death was nonplussed.  "This is my show, Tess, and I say we're saying turkey!"

"Turkey it is!" Tess agreed.

"1...2...3..." counted the photographer.

"Turkey!" cried the group.

After the photographer cleared them to move, the laughing friends sat down to lunch.  In the afterglow of their game and Adam's surprise, their prior worries and concerns were shelved.  The mood stuck with them well into the evening.


With it being their final night on the ship, everyone was determined to make the most of it.  Nico, Raquel, Yva, and Sir Sven had gone to the main deck to enjoy one final, romantic dance beneath the stars.  Tess, Adam, C.J., and Lady Beth had opted to take in a concert.  While their feelings were less raw than they had been in the morning, JenniAnn and Rose felt restless and neither option appealed to them.  Monica had disappeared after dinner and it troubled them.  They knew Andrew had wanted to speak to her.  He had spoken with all of them earlier in the afternoon, never prying for information but wanting assurance that they were all right.  JenniAnn and Rose were sure he hoped for the same from Monica.  But her avoidance did not bode well for their hopes of a reunion... or their beloved friend's peace of mind. 

To combat their tangle of emotions, the two women readily agreed to a walk around the deck when Andrew suggested it.

"I'm ready to go home," JenniAnn admitted as they circled the promenade.  "I miss everyone.  The dogs.  Home itself.  But I will miss this, too.  It's so beautiful."  She paused to gaze out at the setting sun and the sea.

Andrew gave her a wistful smile.  "It really is.  But I think my favorite part was having so many of us together for so long."

"Even if it got a little crazy at times?" Rose checked.

The angel chuckled as he recalled everything from the band at the airport to their much needed discussion to his "tattoo."  "Maybe especially then.  Although..."  He turned to them, all seriousness.  "Are you two sure you're both all right with what happened this morning?"  He shuffled nervously, still not at ease with the idea of them fighting his battles.  "I know you were upset because Monica's not been around much.  I just don't want any of you feeling bad on my behalf."

JenniAnn hugged Andrew, touched by his concern for them all.  "Our poor, ever-observant, ever-compassionate, ever-lovely and beloved Andrew," she murmured. 

Andrew shook his head as he returned her hug.  "Not poor at all.  I can never be poor when I have as many friends as I do."  He pulled Rose to him, as well.  "And right now I want to hear two of them out.  So?"

Rose smiled at his determination.  "I'm fine.  Adam's game and lunch and the photo really helped put me in the right mood.  We definitely owe him a really great birthday present."

"Definitely," JenniAnn agreed.  "And I feel the same as Rose.  Some difficult things did come up and... and I wish I felt more of a sense of closure.  But I know this: we love you and Monica loves you."

"And most importantly God loves you," Rose added.

"And I love all of you," Andrew responded, feeling very content and immensely grateful.

JenniAnn smiled, happy to see him relaxed again.  "And I believe that, eventually, all that love is gonna bring us all together.  Like Nico and then Adam said."

Andrew once again hugged them both to him.  "I believe that, too.  And... I believe we need one final night of free ice cream."

The two women readily assented to the angel of death's idea and they made their way to the ice cream bar.  A long line loomed and it was decided that Andrew would wait and order while they searched for a good table near the windows. 

And soon they found one.  Except one person was already seated at it: Monica.

"Should we go over?" Rose whispered.

JenniAnn nodded.  "I think we should.  There are a couple things I'd like to say.  Things I feel like... I owe it to her to say."

Rose looked at her friend in surprise.

"Maybe she made some mistakes, missed some opportunities," JenniAnn explained.  "And I'm not saying I completely understand what's going on with her.  All I'm saying is that I feel sorry for anyone who has missed out on all this time with Andrew.  I guess... now it's me pitying her."

"Then let's go," Rose agreed, feeling considerable compassion for the prodigal angel.

Monica saw them when they were still a few feet off.  She smiled timidly.  "Hello," she greeted, waving to the other chairs. 

"Hi, Monica."  JenniAnn returned her smile with an equally shy one.

"Awesome night, huh?  Did you see the sunset?" Rose asked, feeling more brazen than the other two.

The angel nodded.  "It was lovely.  I climbed to the highest point of the ship that you can and simply watched for a long time."  She gazed for a few moments out to the moon and the sea.  "Where did everyone else go off to?"

"The two couples are at the dance," Rose responded.  "And the others at a concert.  Except Andrew.  He's with us, just waiting in the ice cream line.  Would you like one of us to run and ask him to get you something?"

Monica shook her head, growing tense.

"Monica," JenniAnn started, "I feel like maybe we were a lil tough on you this morning."

The angel shook her head. 

"Well, at the very least it must have been overwhelming.  Five of us, one of you.  So I just wanted to say... we do all realize that what we ask isn't easy.  And we do realize that sometimes a person can try their hardest to break through Andrew's shell and he just... he closes himself off even more.  C.J.'s turtle example was apropos in more than one way, come to think of it."

"But he's getting better about that... turtle-ness," Rose stressed.  "It would just be nice..."

"If I hadn't given up?" Monica asked.

Rose shook her head.  "I wouldn't have put it that way."

"I do promise to try to be a good friend to Andrew again.  I do," Monica vowed. 

"I hope you do."  JenniAnn bowed her head and smiled.  "Listen, I'm sure his arm being broken and how changed he looked was shocking.  It was for us, too.  But it wasn't all bad, Monica.  Sometimes it was fun.  Since he couldn't brush his own hair, one day the lil girls offered to.  And he spent hours with a bunch of multicolored barrettes stuck in there."  She began to giggle.

Rose also laughed at the memory and was encouraged to see that Monica was smiling as she envisioned her old friend in such a state.  "I don't think any of us could have imagined that if Andrew were hurt like that we'd be anything but devastated.  Just like you can't imagine helping him in the future.  But life... love... they go on.  And you do find yourself laughing even during times that once seemed so terrible.  And when he's there laughing at your side... you know you can get through it all.  You'll see."

Monica was touched by their faith not just in her but in Andrew's resilience.  But she didn't yet feel either in herself and she was not prepared to face Andrew that night.  She had too much to mull over.

JenniAnn sensed that Monica wanted to leave.  Her heart sank but she knew not to force the issue.  "We'll see you tomorrow before we dock, won't we?"

The angel nodded.  "I'll be there at breakfast."  She stood.  "And I'll..."

The two women looked at her hopefully.

"I'll try," she reiterated before leaving them alone.

JenniAnn and Rose watched her leave. 

"Keep praying," the former whispered.

"Always," Rose vowed.

They smiled when they saw Andrew approach and spent the rest of the evening simply enjoying each other's company and the serenity of the sea.


August 31st- The Return


Andrew woke at 4:17, much too early even for JenniAnn to be up.  He laid in bed for a while but eventually gave up on trying to fall back to sleep.  He rose and crept around the room, not wanting to wake Adam as he prepared for the day of travel ahead.  He'd packed almost everything the night before but checked the safe and closet again.  When he'd finished it was still only a little after 4:30.  He decided to move out onto the deck and wait for the others while he admired the sky and sea.

The angel of death gently slid the door closed behind him.  When he turned around, he was surprised to see Monica leaning against the railing and staring at him.  He noticed she was crying.

"Monica, what's wrong?" Andrew asked, approaching her.

"I... I was just remembering," she responded, her voice barely above a whisper.

"Remembering what?"

"The day I got promoted.  When we were all in the field together."

Andrew bowed his head.  "I remember, too."

"I do often look at the watch... and remember the good times we shared, Andrew."  Monica brushed at her eyes then produced the watch.  "Lately... lately I've been remembering when you were auctioned off on that date."

Andrew blushed.  "All the cases we worked together and you've been thinking about the one in which I was sold for six hundred dollars?"

Monica smiled.  "Ah, now, it'd be more these days with inflation.  Or wait... is it less?"

Chuckling, Andrew shrugged.  "I can't say that I know the going rate on bachelors these days.  But... I'm glad you do remember."

"It's brought me a smile many a time when I've needed one."

"I'm glad."  Andrew smiled then looked intently at his fellow angel.  "Monica, I wanted to talk to you about yesterday... with the girls."

Monica looked at him, her face coloring.  "Did they tell..."

Andrew shook his head.  "They didn't tell me anything you said but I... I think I know the gist of what was discussed.  And, Monica, I just want you to know that... if you ever need me, if you ever need more than a memory... I'm here.  Always.  I know things aren't the same as they used to be, maybe I'm not even exactly the same.  But I still feel the same about you," he assured.  "You're my friend.  And I love you.  So just..."  He looked down at her hands, cupping the watch.  Gently, he closed his hands around hers.  "Just remember that, too, Monica, whenever you look at the watch."

Blinking back tears, Monica nodded.

Andrew gave her hands one last affectionate squeeze.  He sensed he was making Monica uneasy and, not wanting that, he turned and re-entered his cabin.


After breakfast, the group gathered in the captain's quarters to bid Nico and Raquel good bye.  They thanked them profusely for giving them experiences they would remember their entire lifetimes... no matter how long they might be.  In turn, the newlyweds thanked them for standing by them as they entered into their new life together.

Just before Andrew stepped off the ship for the last time, he felt someone clasp his hand.  He turned to see Raquel, out of breath but smiling.

"Andrew!  There was something I meant to tell you."

The angel turned to Rose who was nearest to him.  "I'll be right there.  I'll meet all of you at the baggage claim area."

"Sure thing.  See you in a little bit.  Good bye, Raquel!"  Rose smiled at their hostess, hugged her once more, and then disembarked.

Raquel led Andrew away, down a corridor, where they had some privacy.

"Andrew, last night I got to thinking about our little talk on the deck.  And there's something I want you to always remember.  A couple things."  Raquel cradled her hands in his.  "First, even though you can't see someone... even though they can't tell you that they love you and that they're thinking of you... it doesn't mean they don't love you or that they aren't thinking of you."

The angel hugged the woman, imagining that she was thinking of Dawn. 

"Everything will be all right with Monica.  I really believe it," she assured, dashing Andrew's theory.

"And the second thing is... I love you.  And I'm so glad to claim you as my friend.  So if you ever need to talk and think the Boss would let you make a sudden appearance in, say, Aruba or Tahiti or Ketchikan or Nova Scotia... just come.  Please," Raquel begged.  "None of this 'I don't want to bother Raquel and Nico' stuff!  Promise?"

Andrew chuckled.  "I promise." 

"Okay, because I can buy off your friends as my spies if I need to," she threatened playfully.

The angel of death laughed even more at the well meaning threat and held up his hands in defeat.  "I really promise!"

"Good."  Raquel beamed at him.

Andrew sighed contentedly.  "That means so much to me, Raquel.  It really does.  And I love you, too."

Raquel hugged him once more.  "I better let you go so..."  She wiped at a tear.  "Until next time?"

"Yes.  There will definitely be a next time.  Maybe we can come visit when you and Nico come home to Missouri for Christmas?"

"You better!  Good bye, Andrew."

"Good bye, Raquel.  Give Nico my best, please."

"I will, sweet boy." 

Smiling tenderly, Andrew pulled away and squeezed the woman's hand.  "Thanks."

"Now go before I lose my nerve and have them close the gangway and set sail so we can keep you with us!" Wearing a wistful smile, Raquel waved the angel away.

With that, Andrew left her.  It was the first time he'd ended a visit with Raquel and not worried about how lonely she would be.  Once he'd disembarked, he looked back to the deck and saw her and Nico embracing and looking very much in love.

After they left the customs building, Adam and Tess were promptly whisked away to assignments.  Andrew accompanied Sir Sven, Yva, C.J., Lady Beth, Rose, and JenniAnn back to Missouri where the mini-van and a portal were waiting for them. 

Monica made her way to a beach in Fort Lauderdale where she would spend time thinking and praying, clutching the pocket watch of an old friend.


September 3rd


Adam handed JenniAnn an envelope.  "It's a smaller version of our family photo for the book."

She accepted it with a hug.  "Thank you, Adam.  Not just for this copy but the whole idea.  It was a perfect way to begin to end the cruise.  And it's the perfect way to end this part of the scrapbook.  But I think you should do the honors."

Adam reclaimed the photo and approached the scrap book lying on the floor.  He flipped through the stack of background paper, selected one depicting a rainbow over the ocean, and pasted the photo in the center. His gaze fell on a stack of paper shells in assorted colors.  "Can I use these?"

"Of course," JenniAnn answered.  "Andrew cut them out but we didn't end up using em all."

With great care, Adam wrote each of their names on a shell, glued them around the photo, and slid the page into the book.  "What do you think?"

"I think that's my favorite page," Rose complimented. 

"I agree with both Rose and JenniAnn.  It is the perfect way to end this part."  Yva ran her hand over the glossy plastic cover. 

"It really is great," Andrew agreed.  "So, Laja, is the book ready?  We're due at the Cafe in about fifteen minutes."  He held his pocket watch out for them to see.

JenniAnn nodded.  "The book is fantastic.  And even better for having so many people lending a hand!"

"We'll help put things away," Lady Beth offered.  "Then we can finish before we head over there."


"Adam and I are going to carry the photo down but we'll be right back, okay?"

"Sure, see you then."  After waving the two angels out, C.J. looked around at the other women.  "So do you think Monica will come?"

"I'm already praying so," Yva responded.

"Good idea.  Maybe we could all pray together," Rose suggested.  The five joined hands and bowed their heads.


Monica stood up and walked back to the caddy.  She slipped into the driver's seat but didn't start the car.  Instead, she looked up at the sky.  "Father," she prayed, "I don't know what to do.  So I'm putting it in Yours hands.  Please... send me to where I need to be." 

When she looked back down, the angel realized with a start that she was sitting in an alley.  It certainly wasn't what she'd expected.  Unsure of what else to do, she stepped out of the Cadillac and began to walk.  As she rounded a corner, several homespun, crumbling storefronts came into view.  It all looked very much like one of the islands she'd recently visited although she didn't remember the area specifically.  Curious as to why she'd been brought there, she stepped into the nearest store.

"Good evening to you, ma'am!" the man at the counter greeted.

"Hello," Monica responded.

"Can I help you with anything?"

The angel shook her head.  "Just looking, thank you."  Hoping that a wave of knowledge would soon hit her, Monica began to peruse the merchandise.  A selection of postcards for St. Maarten at least allowed her to know where she was even if she didn't understand why.

The shopkeeper returned to dusting his counter space.  As he did, he began to sing along to the radio in a rich baritone.  "'I'll be seeing you in every lovely summer's day; in every thing that's light and gay.  I'll always think of you that way.'"

Monica gasped, realizing it was Billie Holiday on the radio.

"Are you all right, miss?"

Turning to see a young woman at her side, Monica nodded profusely.  "Oh, yes.  Thank you."

"You're welcome.  My name is Martine.  If you need anything, let me know, please"

"I will, thank you, Martine."  Monica turned back to the rack of dresses.  She was relieved when Martine and her boss struck up a conversation, preventing further singing.

"Martine, here.  I meant to give this to you last time but forgot.  It should be with Esme.  I believe her angel would want it that way.  What was that fellow's name?"

The word "angel" caught Monica's attention and she drew closer to better hear.

"Andrew," Martine responded. 

"Of course, Andrew the angel!" 

"Andrew..." Monica murmured.

"Ah, do you know him?" Martine asked, turning to Monica with a bright smile.

"I... I know an Andrew.  He was here on St. Maarten last week."

Martine approached with the photo Ruben had taken from the wall.  She grinned as she held it out to Monica.  "That is my little girl he's holding.  Esme.  She thought he was an angel.  He was very kind and took the time to hold her.  Is he your friend?" 

Monica stared at the photo of her fellow angel holding a precious little girl and beaming.  "Yes."

"You are very blessed to have such a friend.  Would you tell him Martine and Esme bid him well and hope he makes it back to see us some day?"

The angel looked into the woman's friendly, hopeful eyes.  "Yes, of course," she promised.  It occurred to Monica that it was the second promise she'd made concerning Andrew in the past week.

"Thank you, miss!"  Martine rewarded her with a bright smile before returning to the stockroom.

Feeling like she ought to buy something, Monica quickly selected a dress and checked out with Ruben.  She hurried to the caddy.  The truth Tess had told her she had to find was overwhelming her.  Andrew was more bound to humanity than he ever had been before.  This much she'd known.  But it would never destroy him.  It couldn't!  Seeing Andrew holding Esme had reminded Monica of that December evening in Dyeland, the last glimpse she'd had of him prior to the cruise.  He'd been swarmed by the Tunnel children. 

The image of Raquel's necklace sprang to her mind and its concentric hearts seemed a good metaphor for Andrew's own.  The angel of death's time with his mortal friends wasn't itself mortal, Monica realized.  His friendship with the Dyelanders would be passed down through generations.  And as each generation passed away, they would continue to live on both in Heaven and in his heart which would grow bigger with each epoch... not irreparably break as she'd feared.  This was the Ultimate Truth about her friend.

Andrew had chosen his road in life.  It would be a difficult one.  Monica understood that all too well.  But she saw as she never had before that it would also be a rewarding one.  And it was one she wanted to walk with him.


The Cafe was overflowing with Dyelanders and friends from the Tunnels and L.A.  Yva and Sir Sven excitedly caught up with Willy and Nigel.  JenniAnn hugged each of her students before running to greet her cousins who arrived later with a newly awakened little Jacob.  Aunt Josephine flipped through Andrew's scrap book as Rose and C.J. filled her in on all their adventures.  Lady Beth regaled Henry with the myriad recipes and serving ideas she'd picked up.  Andrew and Adam studied the walls, looking for the best place to hang the new portrait and the expanded version they hoped to have accompany it.  Tess found a sympathetic ear in Father who agreed that neither angel of death should have been allowed to wear dreadlocks.  After a few minutes, some of the women zeroed in on Mick and Beth, eager to share ideas for their wedding that they'd picked up from Raquel's and Nico's. 

An hour into the party, while they were helping some of the Tunnel children through the buffet line, JenniAnn and Rose looked up to see Andrew glancing out one of the windows.  They exchanged quick looks with each other, their hearts sinking for him. 

"Psyche, why does Andrew look sad?" Shelby asked, pulling on her teacher's sleeve.

Caught off guard, JenniAnn answered with unvarnished honesty.  "Because he was hoping someone would be here but she's not."

"Why not?"

"I don't know, sweetheart," her teacher answered with a shaking voice.

"I'll go cheer him up," Shelby announced before running off to Andrew who scooped her up into a hug.

Rose smiled after the little girl.  "And I think she will."

"I do, too.  But I still wish..."

"I know.  Some day."


At half past ten, the crowd had dwindled to only the Dyelanders.  They were clustered at the center of the room, catching up as a group.

"I have to tell you, Adam, I have a whole new appreciation for you.  Those turkeys are a handful!"  Henry shook his head with a smile.  "Alexander escaped and it took me two hours to get him back!"

Adam chuckled.  "I'm sorry he gave you trouble but thank you for watching over them.  I knew they were in good hands with you.  So how was everything while we were gone?"

"No problems at all," Willy answered.  "Although you were all very much missed.  It was much too quiet around here."

"I even found myself missing your duet bottle game," Nigel confessed.  "What was it called again?"

"Spin-the-Bottle: Dyeland Style," Yva answered. 

"That last part is very important," Lady Beth warned.  "Otherwise it's a very different sort of game!"

"You know, I've been missing that myself.  Anyone up for a few rounds?" Andrew asked.

A chorus of voices agreed and soon they'd formed a circle with a ginger ale bottle in the center.

Andrew and Tess were the first ones up.  Everyone was so taken in by their rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" that no one heard the Cafe's rear door open and close.

On stage, Andrew kept singing but tried to make out where the third voice he heard was coming from.  He smiled at his friends in the chairs around the stage, noting that none of them were singing.  He knew who he *thought* it sounded like.  But as sure as he was that the voice sounded like Monica's, he was even more sure that she'd never shown up.  He glanced over at Tess.  Bewilderment was writ across her face as she peered into the darkened back end of the Cafe.  Andrew followed her gaze.

Monica stood in the shadows, watching her two friends on the stage.  She wondered how it was they seemed to be looking at her even though she was surrounded by darkness.  Then she realized that she'd begun to sing without meaning to.  She knew there was no turning back at that point.  And she also knew she didn't want there to be.  Despite her meager voice, she began to sing more loudly: "'I'll take your part when darkness comes and pain is all around.  Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.  Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.'"

Andrew set his microphone back in its stand and stepped off the stage.  "M-monica?" he called out to the darkness.

The entire group turned around in time to see the angel step out of the shadows.

"Thank God," Yva whispered.

JenniAnn began to cry.

Rose looked on, smiling, as their hopes and prayers were realized.

"I'm here, Andrew," Monica answered.  "I'm sorry I'm late.  Very, very, very late but I... I..."  Her voice wavered.

Tess moved towards her Angel Girl but stopped, knowing it wasn't her place.  Not yet.

Andrew kept walking towards her.  "It's all right, Monica.  We're still going strong here."  He smiled at the others.

"That's not what I meant.  I meant...  I should have come before...  I'm sorry I didn't.  So sorry."

"You're here now.  That's the important part," he consoled, pulling her into a hug. 

Monica felt his hand rest in her hair, just as it had all those years ago during that bittersweet "final" embrace.  As they had that day, tears slid down her cheeks but in that moment they sprang from happiness and not sorrow.

"Welcome back, Monica."  Andrew pulled away and beamed down at her.  He felt in his heart that his friend really and truly had returned.

She smiled up at him.  "Thank you.  It's good to be back."

"How do you feel about Spin-the-Bottle?" Andrew asked, eyes twinkling, as he took her hand and led her to the circle.


Monica's exclamation of dismay put everyone at ease.

Tess laughed.  "Adam, baby, why don't you explain the rules to Monica."

As Adam did so, the entire circle shifted to allow in a chair for Monica.  As first she looked nervously at the five women, recalling their heated discussion on the ship.  But they only smiled back at her.  The angel knew more discussion would come later, including some much needed conversations with Andrew.  As she sat beside him, however, she felt at peace and very blessed for another chance.

Andrew, too, was counting his blessings as he looked around the circle.  The Father had answered his prayer from over a week before more completely than he could have hoped.  But then, of course, Andrew knew that was often the way the Father worked.  He hadn't just healed the broken bonds between Yva, Rose, C.J., Lady Beth, JenniAnn, and himself.  He'd brought Monica back to them all.  For the first time in a very long time, Andrew looked around and saw his family: complete and happy.

"When you walk down the road,
heavy burden, heavy load.
I will rise and I will walk with you.
When you walk through the night
and you feel like you wanna just give up,
give up, give up on the fight
I will come and I will walk with you."

The End

Cultural references:
"I'll Be Seeing You" by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal
"Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Paul Simon
"I Will Walk with You" by Marc Lichtman and Martha Williamson