"Love is the sister of the soul."
~~John O'Donohue's Anam Cara

Hi all,

As some of you know, I adopted a dog on October 28th.  Leo is proving to be a loving and lovable pet for me and excellent playmate and brother for Danika, the dog I've had for ten years.  However, he is a bit of a handful and needs a lot of monitoring due to his neutering incision.  So... not exactly an ideal time for me to write a newsletter.  Therefore, in lieu of a proper newsletter, I'm posting the opening of my human trafficking story, "Chrysalis."  The entire story isn't yet finished (regretfully) but it's getting ever closer.  I hope, very soon, I can post a link to the entire thing.  Until then, I hope you enjoy this glimpse which includes the introduction of a couple of new characters who I really love.  Until next time...

God bless,

A Peek Into "Chrysalis"


Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

Emma beamed at Gayle as she entered Dr. Amber-Marie Sayer's office.

"Good afternoon, Gayle!  How's your day been going?" she inquired.

The receptionist smiled at Emma but her gaze was locked on the man who stood behind her.

"Very well.  You've brought a guest today?"

Emma nodded and waved to Joshua.

"Gayle, this is my friend, Joshua Davidson."

Gayle smiled warmly at the visitor.

"Joshua!  Emma's mentioned you so often but... you seem so familiar to me now that I see you..."

Joshua took the woman's proffered hand in both of his.

"Peter and I came with Emma the first time she visited this office," he explained.  "And you probably saw me at St. Genesius' last Christmas revue.  It's wonderful to see you again, Gayle."

"Ah.  Yes.  That must be it," Gayle agreed though she wasn't convinced.  She turned to Emma.  "Are you all right, honey?  Amber-Marie and I were worried when you called and asked for an emergency appointment."

Emma patted the other woman's hand.

"I'm just fine.  Truly.  But... I do have something I need to tell you both so I'm really grateful that you could sneak me in at the end of the day."

"It's no problem at all," Gayle assured.  "I'll let Amber-Marie know you're here."

"Too late.  Already know.  Joshua!"

The psychiatrist stepped out from her office and embraced Emma then squeezed Joshua's hands.

"Emma mentioned last session that you were still in town!  I had hoped you'd come visit.  It's not every day we have a member of the Trinity join us.  Well, not in the flesh.  Just kidding, of course!"

Emma suppressed a giggle.  Though warm and sympathetic, Dr. Sayer was always dignified... except when she went into theatre geek mode.

Joshua responded with a smile.

"It's a pleasure to be here, Amber-Marie."

Gayle cast a sidelong glance at the fellow.  She was surprised he hadn't addressed her friend as Dr. Sayer.

"Well, come on into my office.  And Gayle, too?" the doctor checked with Emma.

"Yes, please."

With that, Gayle forwarded the phone to voicemail and joined the other three in her boss' office.

Once everyone was seated, Emma began to speak.

"The truth is... it's not really a session that I was hoping for.  Gayle, Dr. Sayer... there's something Joshua wants you to know.  And... and it's really important."

Dr. Sayer blinked and looked at Joshua.

"What's going on?  Is it something with the theatre?"

Joshua shook his head.

"No, Amber-Marie.  It's not about the theatre and the truth is... I'm not an actor."

Amber-Marie shook her head.

"But... you are!  I saw you in Superstar.  You're a phenomenal actor!  And singer, too!  And I'm sure you can dance... Jesus just doesn't really dance."

Joshua chuckled.

"Oh, trust me, I dance often.  But, you're right, I don't dance in Superstar.  Well, except for twirling Emma."

Emma hugged his arm.

Gayle gripped the arms of her chair.

"Amber-Marie just said Jesus doesn't dance... and you answered in the first person.  It... it was just a role," she reminded.

Joshua calmly shook his head.

"No.  That's why I'm here actually.  It wasn't just a role.  Not for me."  The carpenter devoted his attention to the doctor.  He had to get through to her first.  "That... Amber-Marie, you responded so strongly because that was really me up there.  Do you understand?"

Amber-Marie jolted.  With tear-filled eyes, she turned to her patient.

"Emma...  Emma, he... he's not well."

Joshua cast a tender look on the two stunned women.

"I try not to do it this way... I know it's alarming... but, right now, we don't have a lot of time.  So..."

Emma bowed her head as Joshua pulled up the lengthy sleeves of his sweater and revealed scars and holes through his wrists.

"Oh, God!" Gayle cried.

Amber-Marie began drawing in quick, shallow breaths.

Next, Joshua lifted the corner of his sweater to reveal a healed gash on his side.  He gave a wavering smile.

"I'd take off my boots to... to show you my ankles but I've been wearing them all day so I don't think that would be very pleasant."

The scientist coming out in her, Amber-Marie shook her head.

"But... but I saw you shirtless!  That wasn't there!"

Gayle stared at her.

"I mean during the scourging!  And the Crucifixion!  It wasn't there!  And... and your wrists weren't..."

"The scars aren't always visible.  I hide them sometimes, so I can go about my business without drawing attention.  But I need you both to know because I have work for you.  Emma, could you please step outside for a moment?" Joshua requested.

"I want her to stay," Amber-Marie countered.  "Please."

"What I have to say is personal... about both of you," Joshua explained.

"It's okay," Gayle agreed as the doctor nodded.

Joshua patted Emma's shoulder, indicating for her to stay.  Then he knelt in front of Amber-Marie and took her hands in his.  In spite of her shock, the woman didn't fight him or pull away.  She only stared into his gentle eyes... after noticing that the scars on his wrists had disappeared.

"Amber-Marie, that night during your freshman year... when you sat in that police station... waiting to file your report, you told me that you would do everything you could to ensure other survivors didn't feel the lonesomeness and undeserved shame you felt."

The doctor's head lurched forward, her brow resting on her and Joshua's hands.

"Yes..." she whispered.

"Dear heart, you've done so much.  Emma here is a testament to that."

With tears streaming down her cheeks, Emma nodded and patted the woman's shoulder while Gayle gently stroked her back and peered at Joshua.

"So much..." Emma echoed.

Joshua released one of Amber-Marie's hands, kissed her hair, and then took one of Gayle's hands.

"You were behind your computer, typing up files, Gayle.  You saw Amber-Marie and you showed her the first bit of warmth and understanding that she had felt all night.  You asked yourself how you'd want your daughter treated.  And you acted accordingly.  You gave her your own sweater and a cup of chamomile.  You let her cry on your shoulder.  But you didn't stop there.  You truly stepped in as a second mother, cheering Amber-Marie on as she got her bachelor's degree and then her master's and, finally, her doctorate."

Joshua tilted his head towards the door.

"I can remember when you first hung the sign outside this office.  Gayle, you were snapping pictures.  So proud!  Amber-Marie, you were vexed because you couldn't get it straight."

Amber-Marie used her free hand to swipe at her tears and laughed.

"I... I guess I needed a carpenter."  She sighed.  "It... it was really you all... all along."

"Yes," Joshua answered, releasing her hand only so he could caress her face.

"Now... now we know why Emma always speaks of you as if... as if you are above reproach.  You are," Gayle concluded.

At once, the two women moved from their chairs and embraced the still-kneeling Joshua.

"Is there room for me?" Emma checked.

Amber-Marie lifted her head from Joshua's shoulder and laughed.

"Of course!"

Beaming, Emma made room for herself in their group hug.

After enjoying the closeness for a few moments, Amber-Marie let out a deep breath and squeezed Joshua's hands.

"I... I prayed last night that... that you would hold me especially close.  This isn't the answer I was expecting.  It... it's better."

Emma and Gayle both noticed that there was a trace of sadness in Joshua's smile.

"I'm glad you think so.  You're going to be just fine, my girl."

"Is something going on?" Gayle checked.  "I mean... beyond the Lord God Incarnate being here?"

Joshua smirked then rested his other hand over the doctor's and nodded.

Amber-Marie sniffled before meeting her old friend's gaze.

"Paul told me last night that... that he'd fallen for a co-worker and he... he moved out.  He wants a divorce."

"Sweetheart!" Gayle cried, circling an arm around the younger woman's shoulders.

"Oh, Dr. Sayer...  I'm so sor..."

Amber-Marie shook her head at Emma and managed a smile.

"After this," she waved to Joshua, "we're done with the Dr. stuff.  Just Amber-Marie."

Emma returned her smile.

"I am sorry, Amber-Marie."

"Thank you.  I... I suggested counseling, naturally, but... but he's not interested.  I... I know I work a lot but that's why the office has always closed at 5:00.  So... so I'd be home when he was and we'd have time together but... he kept working longer and longer hours... so he said."

Joshua gave her a fierce hug.

"Paul has made a very poor choice... a series of poor choices, really.  You and I both know that you put your heart and soul into your marriage, Amber-Marie.  Don't you carry around his guilt."

Amber-Marie smiled as she heard the words she so often spoke to her patients.

"I won't," she vowed.  "And now... now I'll have more time for this work you have for me."

"And I'll give it everything I've got," Gayle added.  "But... I would be curious to know what it is."

"It's amazing," Emma opined.

"It's difficult work but the rewards... they will be amazing," Joshua averred.  "I've bought an old building, formerly a hotel, not far from here.  With a lot of dedicated work from some of my angels and my humans, it's been turned into an apartment building... of sorts.  Emma, Peter... everyone from St. Genesius' has been helping with this project.  Within a month, we want to make it available as a safe house for victims of human trafficking."

Gayle clucked her tongue and shook her head.

"Such a heinous, awful thing...  But it does me good to hear about this effort, Josh... Jes..."

"Joshua is fine," he assured.  "And thank you.  After much discussion, we've decided to name it the Chrysalis Court."

"Like a butterfly...  And... and a court for the King of all kings.  Perfect."  Amber-Marie praised.  "I'll do anything to be part of this, Joshua!  Please."

"I'm so glad to hear you say that.  So... the Chrysalis has five floors.  The main floor will house various services: a health clinic, counseling rooms, a gym, a library, a rec room.  The other floors are made up as apartments with a few common rooms and one houses a very large dining room.  One entire floor are the Friends... those would be the people affiliated with St. Genesius' who came to know me... a group you two now belong to.  They've agreed to help me with staffing the safe house, getting it ready for our guests, cooking, etc.  Because they'll all come in contact with survivors, I'd like them to have some basic counseling training.  I could think of no better people to provide it than you, Amber-Marie and Gayle.  That's why I asked Emma to set this up.  So I could make this request," Joshua finished.

Amber-Marie nodded eagerly.

"Of course I'll help!  You know I've only worked with a handful of trafficking survivors but..."

"But I also know all the papers you've read, all of the seminars you've gone to," Joshua finished.  "I know the passion you have.  Both of you."

Gayle returned Joshua's encouraging smile.

"I do care about this, Joshua.  Deeply.  But you know I don't have the training, the education that Amber-Marie does."

"No.  You don't.  But you have years of experience at tending to those who sat tearfully and nervously in your waiting room, Gayle."

Amber-Marie hugged her friend and kissed her cheek.

"You know we've had people call and ask if they could meet with you.  And you've gone to many of the same seminars."

"I know you can do this, Gayle.  My sessions with Dr... with Amber-Marie have been so helpful but so have my visits with you," Emma stressed.

Gayle moved to hug Emma.

"Thank you, Emma.  It feels good to hear that.  So..."  She reclaimed her seat and looked to Joshua.  "What's next?"

"Well, if you're interested, Emma and I would love to take you to the Chrysalis Court right now for a tour," Joshua offered.

After a quick glance at each other, Gayle and Amber-Marie both turned back to Emma and Joshua and eagerly nodded.

When they all stood, Joshua received another round of hugs.  He held onto Amber-Marie for a few extra moments.

"If you want, we can stop by your apartment, grab some things, and you can stay with us," he whispered.

The psychiatrist let out a ragged sigh, thinking of how she had passed a lonely night in a bedroom that no longer seemed like her own.

"I'd like that a lot," she murmured.

Joshua smiled reassuringly, kissed her cheek, and, after Gayle had locked up the office, the four departed to start their mission together.


Gathered Together

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

Joshua stood in the doorway of the Chrysalis Court's dining room.  He surveyed the faces of those clustered around the three large tables and mentally reviewed the progress they'd made.  At last, their month of preparation was over.  That Wednesday, the last of their painting had been completed and, only hours before, the final pieces of furniture had been moved into the apartments.  Earlier in the day, Amber-Marie and Gayle had finished leading one last session of therapeutic role-playing, giving each of the Friends a chance to practice how they would react and what they would say in response to behaviors and admissions they might see and hear from their clientele.  The pantries were filled as were two rooms that were being used as no-charge stores.  Stanley and Behnam had brought over all the books that were being removed from their library's inventory while Vincent had scavenged the Tunnels library for duplicates and turned up several dozen.  Mick and Beth had donated exercise equipment while Josef had gifted the Chrysalis with security cameras, all of which Logan had dutifully tested and retested.  The youngest vampire had also gladly parted with his older game systems and five computers, citing that he no longer had the time for marathon gaming or pointless tinkering.  Logan had set up the game systems, with carefully selected games, in the rec rooms and the computers were housed in the library.  Andrew and JenniAnn had brought along some of the plants from Willowveil's greenhouse, transplanting them into the greenhouse in the Chrysalis' courtyard which had been cleaned and landscaped.  It would be a touch of spring in the dead of winter, a comfort to those who sought refuge.

As early as the next day, the group would be ready to welcome and serve those who came to their door.

Joshua beamed at the room's many inhabitants.  Nick, Reuel, Eleora, Cody, Zaila, Freya, Michael, Azrael, and Elazer were no longer gathered together at one section of a table.  Now they were interspersed among the Friends, enjoying easy and friendly banter.  Thandie and her girls had also become fast friends with the others with the former growing especially close to Maryam, Emma, and Amber-Marie.  Anika could often be found with Shelby, Jacob, and Liam while Nya could spend long hours gleefully singing and playing with Aiyla and the house pets.  At that moment, Zizi sat with Belle, Omar, and Manny at a tiny table of their very own, giggling and hanging all over each other as was their wont.

Together, they reminded Joshua of another devoted band... those who had followed him all over Galilee and beyond.  Though the mission he had given to the two groups differed, Joshua was confident that the Chrysalis group would be as successful as his earliest disciples.  After all, both missions had been rooted in love and the Friends had plenty of that.

Spotting his son, Yosef rose from his place beside Maryam and joined Joshua.

"Everyone is here now.  Except Josef, of course.  Were you speaking to him?"

Joshua nodded.

"His efforts in Atlanta were successful.  The raid's over and the FBI is scouring the place for files and more evidence as we speak.  The traffickers will all be held accountable and the victims will receive services... if they accept them."

Yosef pulled Joshua into his arms and kissed his cheeks.

"Praise God!"

Joshua returned his father's hug and kisses and managed a smile.

"Thanks, Abi."

"You are thinking of the others," Yosef guessed.

Joshua nodded.  He brightened when he saw his mother approaching.  She immediately encircled him in her arms.

"You have news?"

"Josef and his partners have brought down a trafficking ring in Atlanta," Joshua conveyed.

"I am so glad," Maryam replied as she stroked his hair.  "So he will be back soon?"

"Well..."  Joshua heaved a sigh.  "As soon as he can be but not as soon as he intended.  The victims... most of them are teenagers and young women.  A handful of men.  The shelter is well-equipped to see to their needs but there's a little girl.  She's taken to Josef."

Yosef stared down at his hands, tears welling in his eyes.  Maryam's closed briefly before she looked directly into her son's eyes.

"And so he is staying longer?" she guessed.

Joshua nodded.

"He... he looks like her daddy who died when she was three and I couldn't tell him over the phone but... there's a reason for that."

Yosef's head shot up.

"You meant for them to meet surely?"

"Yes but I... I meant for them to meet months ago before... before she'd suffered so.  But people wouldn't listen to the Spirit's pleas and..."  Joshua shook his head.

"They are together now," Maryam reminded.  "Josef can help her now, my own.

"Yes.  And he will.  He'll stay there for a few more days then commute as needed, I'm sure.  But he's sending us help in the meantime.  They'll arrive around 7:00 tomorrow morning.."

"They?" Yosef prodded.

Joshua's smiled stretched across his face.

"Isolde and Marco."


A pale faced girl with raven-colored hair trembled as she sat on a motel room bed in San Francisco.

"Please... please, sir...  I... I don't want to do this.  That ma-man out-outside... he's forcing me to..."

Silent, the man in the room only pulled his shirt over his head and unzipped his jeans.

"I know ya've got to have a good heart in ya.  Please, just let me go and..."

Her pleas were rewarded by a hard slap across the face.

"Shut up.  Now."  The man sat on the bed and reached for the waistline of the girl's jeans.  "I like my girls quiet when I..."

The man didn't notice that the girl's eyes had began to glow blue and fangs were protruding from her upper gums.  He only noticed that something was awry when he found himself hurled onto the floor and pinned there.

"AH!" the man bellowed when he looked up at the transformed girl.  In spite of her slight form, he wasn't able to move an inch.

"I gave ya a fair chance," she growled.  "I appealed to your sense of decency and kindness only to find both sorely lacking.  For Christ's sake, man!  I look all of fifteen years old!  Like them young, do ya?  PERVERT!"

The man groaned when her knee jammed into his groin.

The girl grinned.

"If only you knew how old I am...  I've seen your like before.  You're goin' to go away for a while now.  My detestable pimp outside?  He's really my best mate and he's just out in that hallway with a couple of cops.  So we'll see to that.  But when they finally let your sorry arse go, remember my face as it is right now every time you even think about hurtin' a little one.  Or anyone.  Do you understand me?"

Whimpering, the man nodded.

"Very good.  Because if ya don't... I will find you.  And next time, I won't restrain myself.  Now... let's see if we can't get ya some lovely silver bracelets."

The man still didn't move even when the girl rose and went to the door, allowing two uniformed officers into the room.  A third man stood just behind them.

"A demon!  She's a demon!" the john screamed, pointing once the men had heaved him off the floor.

"Right, buddy.  Anything you say..."one of the cops replied.  "So here we go...  You have the right to remain silent..."

After they left, the third man closed the door and hugged the girl.

"You okay, Isolde?"

"Ah, yeah.  Same old ting.  How many more have we got on the list?"

"Never mind the list.  Josef called.  Change of plans."

"Marco!  Never mind the list!" Isolde cried.  "We've got at least two dozen names of perps who are right here in this motel!"

"I know, I know.  But Josef has others from FS working on that.  He's held up in Atlanta and..."

"Is he all right?"

"Yeah, he's fine.  Just helping with recovery."

"Their bust was successful!"

Marco smiled and nodded.  He loved it when Isolde's face shone as it did in that moment.

"A pretty big one.  Which is why he needs us to go to Manhattan."

"Oh right.  That other group he's partnering with..."

"Yeah.  He booked us the last flight outta town so we need to skedaddle."

"Skedaddle..." Isolde repeated.  "I love that word.  Ske-dad-dle."

Marco chuckled and shook his head.

"Sometimes I have a very, very hard time believing that you're over 500 years old."

"No respect for your elders!"

"You're only a year older than me, Isolde."

"A year's a year!  And my birthday's next week.  You better have gotten me something."

"I always do.  A man knows better than to forget his wife's birthday."

Isolde smiled and gave Marco a peck on the cheek.

"I know."

Hand in hand, the two vampires left the motel, returned to Josef's apartment where they'd been staying, packed up their things, and began the journey to Manhattan.


Back at the Chrysalis Court, dinner was finished and dessert was being dished out.  Once everyone had their cobbler and ice cream, Joshua moved to the head of the tables.

Nick tapped on his glass and a hush fell over the room.

Joshua smiled at the crowd and began to speak.

"Before we part for the night, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for being a part of this.  The love, devotion, passion, and compassion that I've seen from you all this month... the Father and I couldn't be more pleased.  We love you all so much and I... I've treasured this time together."  Joshua wiped at a tear that was tickling his beard.  "The days ahead will bring challenges but I ask you all to continue to lean on each other... and me.  Remember, we're all in this together and while we need to take care of our guests, we also need to watch out for each other.  Eating, sleeping, confiding in each other... those are needs.  Don't be afraid to indulge in them.  Trust me, there will be times I'll need to eat, sleep, and talk, too.  Not at the same time, of course.  Not even I can do that."

The group laughed.

"My point is that there are a lot of us.  I know we'll be able to keep up with all our work without anyone making themselves sick.  I'd also like to keep up with our weekly Bible studies because I think we'll need that.  Nick, Azrael, Zaila, Reuel, Elazer, Freya, Michael, and several others who will be coming and going have all agreed to take turns monitoring the other floors so we can do that."

The Friends cheered and those who were near enough clapped Nick and the angels on their backs and squeezed and patted their hands.

"I want you to know, too, that it's okay to feel sad or angry or frustrated," Joshua continued.  "You're going to hear some tough, tough things.  It's normal to have emotional reactions.  Please, please don't hold it all in.  Finally, remember that my door is always open.  Any time, day or night.  And even when you decide not to come to me... I'm still there and so is our Father.  I'm so proud of you all and I love you so much."

In an overlapping chorus, the others replied.

"We love you, too, Joshua!"

"Love ya, Josh!"

"Ove oo!"


"I love you, my own."

Joshua blew them kisses and then, after John had shoved a dish of cobbler into his hands, he made the rounds hugging each and every one of them.  With each embrace and kiss, Joshua prayed for his children.


Andrew stared up at the ceiling, absently twirling a strand of JenniAnn's hair as she slept.  Once he noticed, he startled and stilled his left hand.

"It's okay.  It wasn't pulling.  Just kinda... tingly."

The angel of death smiled and rolled his head to the side.

"You're up."

"Mmm hmm.  You're nervous."

Sitting up, JenniAnn took Andrew's fidgety hand and brought it to her lips.

"Sorry.  I didn't realize what I was doing."

"It's okay.  I knew you had that tic before I declared my undying love and affection so I can't rightly complain about it."

Andrew chuckled as he, too, moved to sit up.

"So what's the deal?" JenniAnn questioned.

"I was thinking about how... how now you're going to be directly exposed to some of what I see out there during assignments.  You'll hear things and... and, well, you'll know that I've stood by while similar..."

Andrew was muted when JenniAnn kissed him.  He sighed when she then rested her head beneath his chin and softly stroked his chest.

"My feelings won't change, my love.  I know about free will.  I know about the rules angels need to follow.  And further... I know that Joshua stands by, too.  And sometimes that can be very, very hard to understand.  But I know at least something of how hard it is for him.  I saw him when Emma was struggling.  I saw the toll it took.  And I've seen the aftereffects in you for years now.  I can't be angry at you, Andrew.  Well, not about that.  Some other things... socks not quite making their way to the hamper and the like..."

The angel of death laughed and shook his head.  He tightened his arms around the woman and kissed her shoulder.



JenniAnn moved so she could look into Andrew's eyes.  After a few moments, she frowned.

"There's something else..."

"Sometimes I think you've developed the ability to read my mind."

"No.  Just to read you... nothing specific."

"Good.  If you could read my mind, I'm not sure what we'd talk about.  Your mind, I guess."

JenniAnn laughed and scrunched up her nose.

"Frightening thought!  But seriously..."

"Seriously...  I got to wondering about how long I have before it really sinks in for Belle what exactly Daddy does when I'm not at home.  Will... will she ever get mad at me for just standing around?"

JenniAnn's own face clouded.  It was easy enough to account for her own emotions... the emotions of a grown woman not filled up with puberty hormones.  Her face flushed as she recalled a few thoughtless exchanges she'd had with Andrew as a teenager and young adult.  And Belle was definitely spirited!  That much was obvious.  And not shy.  And very emotional.  It seemed to her that it truly was a matter not if Belle would ever get so angry at her Daddy... but when.

"It's so hard to say...  I maintained my naivete for quite a while.  Belle may not have that option.  When it does happen, I just hope I do right by you both.  I love you both so much...  It... it'd feel like being torn in two and..."

JenniAnn traced the contours of Andrew's face.

"Maybe it'll just be a matter of taking turns sitting with us, Laja.  Sometimes that's the best comfort, you know.  Just having you near," Andrew counseled.

JenniAnn gave him a sad, sweet smile.

"I really hope so.  No matter what, I know that, in time, Belle would come around.  She could never stay mad at her 'pitty Daddy' for too long."

Smiling, Andrew buried his face in her hair.

"Thanks.  That helps.  Now maybe for some sleep?"

"I think so."

The two got into their favorite sleeping position, her head resting on his shoulder with her hand over his heart and his hands joined at her hip, and drifted to sleep.

To be continued...

This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye who truly cared about the world and people around him.  May we all make a difference like he did.

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