Saturday, June 27th        Sunday, June 28th        Monday, June 29th        Tuesday, June 30th

Wednesday, July 1st        Thursday, July 2nd        Friday, July 3rd        Saturday, July 4th

urday, June 27th, 2015


Adam knew he'd used the word before but he didn't think he'd ever fully felt the meaning of it.  It truly hit him, however, as Kylie leaned up to kiss his cheek and Clay hugged him tightly before they both set off towards their home.  In her moonlit wedding dress, Kylie looked far more angelic than Adam felt as he watched the couple walk away.

Then the angel felt a strong hand on his back.

"C'mon, let's go play catch."

Adam chuckled as he turned to Joshua.


Joshua grinned.  "Father-son bonding at its finest."

Laughing, Adam nodded and followed Joshua into one of the Romanos' fields. 

"Do you want to pitch first or catch first?" the carpenter asked.

"Umm, catch, I guess."

Back and forth the ball went with Joshua's pitches going further and further.

Adam laughed when the ball splashed into a pond, alarming a nearby duck.

Joshua hastened to the edge of the water.

"Sorry, Tom," he apologized.

Smirking, Adam looked at Joshua. 


"Yeah.  And that's Nancy.  Gertrude.  And... where's Percival?  Oh.  There he is."

Joshua pointed to a sleeping mallard. 

The angel of death hugged his Creator, momentarily overcome.  Of course Joshua knew the names of the ducks.

Joshua warmly returned Adam's embrace and soothingly patted his back.

"Let's sit, okay?"

As Adam nodded, a blanket and two thermal mugs materialized on a patch of grass.

"Cocoa," Joshua explained. 

Upon sitting down, Adam realized that the exercise he'd gotten from chasing Joshua's pitches had relieved some of the tension he'd begun to feel as the reception neared its end.  The cocoa helped, too.

"You know what I found myself thinking about earlier?" Joshua asked.


"Tzipora's wedding."

Adam froze with his mug nearly to his lips.  He stared at Kylie's and Clay's house as Joshua continued to talk about the girl he'd once been in love with.

"I remember talking and drinking and dancing with a pasted on smile.  I was so glad that Ama and Abi were there.  They'd notice when I was getting shaky and pull me away from the crowd.  They didn't tell me I was being selfish or jealous.  Because I wasn't.  I was just hurt.  And it was okay to feel that.  And they let me talk about that... or just sit silently with them."

Joshua set a hand on the angel's arm.

"I know how you feel, Adam.  And I don't just mean how I, you know, know everything."

Adam chuckled as he wiped at a tear.

"I mean I've felt it myself," Joshua continued with a gentle smile.  "But here's what I want you to know.  Two things.  First, you can always talk to me about this.  And, second, this is not the same situation.  Tzipora didn't love me.  But Kylie loves you!  And so does Clay!  And, yes, things will be different and there will be times when you feel lonesome and it's okay to feel that.  It's okay to feel what you do right in this moment."

Adam clasped Joshua's hand.

"I... I know, Boss.  But it helps to hear you say it.  And I am happy.  It's just... a different sort of happy.  I think about those times... with Jett."  More tears filled Adam's eyes and he shook his head.  "The times Kylie was hurt and scared and humiliated...  And now... now she has two guys who would do anything for her.  Well, three guys." 

Joshua smiled and nodded.

"And I'm happy for her.  And I'm happy for Clay.  All those lonely nights... lonely enough that... that he tried to kill himself and... and thank God... You... that he failed.  Now he'll never feel that lonely again.  But... will things change?  I'm not so concerned about things with Clay.  I mean... buddies are buddies.  I see Andrew a little bit less since he moved to Willowveil.  Fewer nights out playing pool and poker."  The angel of death grinned.  "But when we do hang out, it's like it's always been.  But with Kylie... she's someone else's wife now.  Is... is it okay to hug her as much as I usually do?  To kiss her on the cheek?"

"I saw you kiss Monica on the cheek earlier.  Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure you did the same with JenniAnn.  Kemara, too.  How did Arthur and Andrew and Sean react?"

"They didn't..."

"So do you really think Clay's going to get bent out shape?"

"Well, no.  I guess not."

Joshua hugged Adam.

"When Clay met Kylie, you were already part of the picture, Adam.  He knows you're staying in the picture.  And, more than that, he wants you there.  Not just because you mean a lot to Kylie but because you mean a lot to him, too.  They wouldn't have invited you along on their honeymoon otherwise."

Adam's face flushed slightly.

"I did wonder if it was sort of a... pity invitation."

Joshua shot him a look.

"It wasn't a pity invitation," Adam concluded.

"No.  It was a 'Wouldn't it be fun to have Adam with us?  Let's invite him!' invitation."  Joshua leaned closer and bumped the angel's shoulder with his own.  "And it will be fun."

Adam smiled. 

"I am looking forward to Disneyland.  Maybe I'll get to meet Cinderella and Prince Charming.  But don't worry, Joshua.  You'll always be my favorite Prince."

Chuckling, the two men embraced.

"Yoktan really could have made a good Disney sidekick," Adam opined.

"Hey, if Hercules can get a Disney movie then I should be able to get a Disney movie, right?" Joshua jested.

"Yeah, but you have a strike against you.  Your mother is lovely.  And very much alive.  Disney only does dead moms and evil moms.  Unless they're animals."

"Hmm...  Well, we could be animals!  If Robin Hood can be a fox then I can be a..."

"Lion," Joshua and Adam said in unison.

Joshua laughed.

"And now I want to sing..."  He looked over and smiled when his guitar appeared.

Grinning, Adam joined in.

"'Robin Hood and Little John, walking through the forest,
Laughing back and forth at what the other one has to say.
Reminiscing this and that and having such a good time
Oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally, golly, what a day.'"


"What a day..."  Clay murmured as he stared out a window and waited for Kylie to finish changing out of her dress.  "A wonderful day..."

Clay thought he could just make out two figures near the pond.  Adam and Joshua likely.  He smiled.

"Thank You."

Hearing the bathroom door creak, Clay let the curtain fall and turned around.  He felt his heart leap into his throat when he glimpsed his bride in her lavender, floor-length satin gown.

Kylie smiled.

"You... look... stunning," Clay choked out.

"Thank you.  You're looking quite stunning yourself... not terribly comfortable, though."

Clay smiled as Kylie began to undo his tie.  The smile flickered when her fingers drifted to his shirt buttons.

"Maybe... one more dance?" Kylie suggested.

"Yeah... yeah, that'd be good," her husband agreed.

"Okay."  Kylie stretched up to kiss Clay then went to their bureau and turned on the clock radio, setting it to play a sweet, country ballad.

Kylie rested her cheek against Clay's shirt as they danced.  She drank in the scent of his cologne and smiled as she realized some trace of it would always be around her now.

"I love you so much," she murmured.

Clay buried his hand in her hair and gently tilted her face up so he could look into her eyes.

"I love you, too, Kylie.  So much and... and... today... amazing.  Beyond anything I... I could dream.  And you..."

Kylie closed what little remaining distance there was between them and kissed Clay.

"Kylie..." Clay whispered before returning her kiss.

When she finally pulled away, it was only to shut off the radio and turn down the bed.

Sensing Clay was still nervous, Kylie sat on the bed and smiled up at him.

"Let's just talk for a little bit," she suggested.

Nodding, Clay sat beside her.

"I loved today!" Kylie gushed.  "Dot was so sweet when I was getting ready.  She... she told me I'm like the daughter she never had.  And your mom was lovely, too.  A-and then seeing you at the end of the aisle..."

Clay stroked his wife's face and returned her smile.

"I think my breath left me for a little bit.  Edward had to prop me up.  You just looked so... you are so beautiful.  For a moment, I got panicked a-and thought maybe I'd wake up and it'd all be a dream but then... then I saw Joshua smiling at me and..."

"Wonderfully, blissfully real..."

After a nod, Clay leaned in to kiss Kylie.  When it ended, she kept her arms twined around his neck, their foreheads touching.

"I... I just saw Adam and you and felt like I was the luckiest girl in the world with such an amazing friend and an absolutely wonderful husband-to-be.  But I know luck has nothing to do with it.  Clay, I'm so glad that Joshua brought us together and... and I hope you know how much I love you... all of you... and that I... I think you're beautiful."

"Ky..."  Clay kissed her again and didn't resist when she reached for his shirt buttons a second time.

They were both quiet as Kylie pulled away the dress shirt then lifted Clay's undershirt over his head. 

Kylie fought tears as she eyed the scars covering the left side of her husband's body.  They looked like hundreds of spider webs stretching down to his waist.  She was neither scared nor repelled, only saddened to think of how much pain Clay must have been in.

"Did you lose any sensation on that side?" she inquired in a hushed tone.

"At first, yeah.  It's back now.  Has been for..."

Clay stopped speaking and took a deep breath when Kylie set her hand on the left side of his chest.  No one, except doctors, had touched him there since the explosion.

"Okay?" Kylie checked.

Clay nodded.  His eyes filled when Kylie began to dot his chest, both sides, with kisses.


Kylie stopped and peered into her husband's eyes.

Clay cradled her face in his hands.

"I... I just want you to know that... that you're extraordinary and I will always... always love you.  And... and you've made me so happy.  And I promise that I will always try to do whatever I can to... to make you happy."

Kylie beamed and brought his hands to her lips.

"I know... and I love you, too.  And I... I couldn't be happier myself, Clay.  Well..."

Clay laughed as her eyes sparkled.

After another few moments, Clay and Kylie found themselves feeling still happier.


Sunday, June 28th

After attending church with the Romanos, Adam, Clay, and Kylie; Joshua prepared to depart.

"You three have a great, great time," he directed as he embraced the honeymooners.  "Say hi to Mickey and Minnie for me."

Kylie giggled as she kissed his cheek.

"Will do, Boss," Adam promised.

"Thank you."  Joshua smiled at him then rested his hands on either side of Clay's face.  "Have fun," he ordered.  "If there's any trouble, don't worry over it.  I'm sending one of my best with you."

Adam blushed and smiled when Joshua turned to him.

Kylie looped her arm around her husband's waist and beamed at Adam.

"I know we'll be just fine.  Adam showed me his 'Mind yourself!' look."  With a grin, she shivered as Adam showed it off again.

Clay chuckled.  "Intimidating for sure."

Kylie squeezed Joshua's hand.

"And you'll be with us," she asserted.

Joshua nodded.  "And loving you every moment.  Now... you have a honeymoon to start and I have a few things to do so..."

Adam laughed.  "Yeah... just a few things."

Smiling, Joshua hugged them all individually.

"Kylie, I love you."

"Clay, I love you."

"Adam, I love you."

"I love you, too, Josh."

"Love you, Boss."

"I... I love you, Joshua.  Thank you."

"You're welcome."  Joshua smiled and then, after a final group hug, he disappeared.

The angel and newlyweds sighed and looked at each other.  One by one, they broke into smiles and then went to grab their bags so they could set off on their adventure.


As soon as they came through the portal at El-Chanan; Adam, Clay, and Kylie were met by Reuel.  Behind him, Eleora and Cody studied the visitors.

"Welcome to El-Chanan!" the principality greeted with a warm smile.  He embraced the three newcomers then waved to the young couple.  "This is my granddaughter, Eleora, and her husband, Cody.  Clay and Kylie, like you they were married just yesterday."

The two couples smiled at each other.

"Congratulations!" Kylie and Eleora exclaimed in unison before both giggled.

Cody and Clay shook hands.

"So glad to meet you both.  Reuel told us a lot of great things about you," Clay relayed.

Cody smiled shyly and glanced at Reuel.

"He hasn't even known me very long."

"But I know Eleora knows you and, thus, I know you are remarkable," Reuel countered.

After a giddy smile for his bride, Cody redirected his attention to their visitors.

"We're glad to have you with us.  Eleora and I aren't leaving for our honeymoon until next week because there's so much here that I haven't seen.  It'll be good to have three other newbies so I'm not stuck asking all the questions."

Adam laughed.  "I'll definitely ask my share.  So what are our plans?"

"About an hour that way..." Reuel pointed to the east.  "Is an area where the architecture roughly corresponds to what you would have seen in Yeshua's day.  Granted, it's all reconstruction now.  We're not immune to wear and tear.  But I thought Cody, Clay, and Kylie would enjoy that."

"Yes, please!" Kylie gushed as the boys nodded.

Reuel smiled.  "Then when we circle around, we'll go through the Late Antiquity, Byzantine, and Renaissance districts."

Eleora laughed as the others gaped.

"Adam, Clay, Kylie; let's get your things inside and then start off!" Reuel directed.

Still in awe; the three followed Reuel into his house.


Adam felt as if he was traveling through time and, in a way, he figured he was.  If not for his and the others' modern clothes, he might have easily thought he was back in old Rome.

Kylie came up and linked her arm through his.

"It's amazing, isn't it?"

Adam smiled at her and nodded.

"Yeah.  I love Dyeland, of course, but this is great.  All this history...  I guess we could come here if we ever needed help getting into Pontius and Claudia mode."

Kylie laughed and rested her head on his shoulder.

"We could.  And we might need to.  The closer we get... the more I wonder about playing rather antagonistic spouses.  I don't think we've ever really fought about anything."

Adam shook his head.

Kylie hugged his arm. 

"Reuel says there's a really pretty courtyard just over there.  Come with me?"

"What about Clay?"

Kylie laughed.  "Throwing the discus with Cody.  It's not basketball but he's getting pretty into it."

After glancing to where the woman pointed, Adam nodded and let her lead him away.

When they came to the courtyard, Kylie directed the angel to a bench where they sat together.  Both smiled when they saw a flock of peacocks moseying through.

"Clay and I are concerned," Kylie began after a few moments.

Adam startled. 

"Why?  Did last night not umm..."

"No!  Last night was wonderful.  It's just...  We invited you along because we thought you'd have fun and we wanted to have fun with you.  But the whole time we've been here, you've just hung back and mostly talked with Reuel."

"Kylie, I don't want to intrude on your first days as..."

"And we appreciate that.  Truly!  And we know you'll give us privacy when we really need and want it but... we want to hear your thoughts and, if you're wanting to share, your memories as we see all of this.  And I... I just don't want to lose my best friend.  I only have two.  Well, three counting Joshua, of course."

Adam embraced the woman and kissed her hair.

"You won't lose me.  I promise.  It's just... I worry that maybe I won't catch the hint if, you know..."

Kylie set a hand on each of his cheeks and peered into the angel's eyes.

"I absolutely promise that I will outright tell you if you fail to catch hints.  Do we need a code phrase or something?"

Adam chuckled.

"No.  That's okay.  Thanks.  I just..."

"You came on this trip because you figured you'd deal with anyone who gets annoying about Clay.  And we appreciate that.  But it's really, really not why we wanted you here.  Yes, Clay and I got married and that bound the two of us together.  But it also bound the three of us together more.  Clay knows that you... you were with me during one of the worst moments of my life and you and Joshua... you brought me out of that.  Clay would never want anything to come between the two of us, especially not him.  And what's more... he genuinely loves you, Adam.  When that incident happened where he inadvertently scared me when I was washing dishes and then again when he was wanting to propose, he didn't just seek advice from you because you're close to me.  It was also because he feels comfortable confiding in you."

Adam bowed his head and stared down at his ring.  On a whim, he and Kylie had gotten them for use during their Superstar stints.  When Clay and Kylie had become engaged, the man had gotten his own "BFF ring" and now all three of them wore them constantly.  They were a reminder of how true Kylie's words were.  Clay did confide in him... and not only when Kylie was involved.  Clay sometimes talked over memories of war with him, even when Andrew or Max might have been able to relate better. 

With a sigh, Adam enfolded Kylie in his arms.

"I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to worry you two.  I'll start being my usual jovial, ridiculous self." 

Kylie laughed at his characteristic smirk and patted his cheek.

"Good.  Now come throw the discus.  I want photos of my two favorite non-divine fellows being all sporty."

Following more laughter and another hug, Adam led Kylie back out of the courtyard.  When they reached the others, Clay greeted the angel with a hearty hug.

"Good talk?" he quietly inquired.

"Good talk," Adam verified.

He squeezed both Clay's and Kylie's hands then joined the game.


After a lively dinner and dessert beneath the starlight, Eleora and Cody headed to their nearby home while Clay and Kylie retired to the room Reuel had put them up in.  The two angels remained on the patio, admiring the heavens.

"Clay and Kylie are a delightful couple," Reuel opined.

Adam smiled proudly and nodded.

"They are.  Eleora and Cody are loads of fun.  I imagine they keep you amused."

Reuel laughed.

"Oh, yes.  Especially with Cody still learning about El-Chanan.  I thought they might settle back in Wisconsin but he seems to have fallen in love with El-Chanan... second only to Eleora."

"So do you think you'll be hanging around here more then?  Might be a new round of grandkids coming..."

Reuel beamed as he nodded.

"Likely.  They've made it very clear that they plan to have 'loads of kids.'  I think that's, perhaps, hyperbole." 

Chuckling, Adam shrugged.

"You never know.  With such an amazing support system, that may be their intent."

"True.  As long as they're healthy and happy.  Speaking of happiness... I couldn't help but notice that your own seemed to peak after you and Kylie wandered off."

Adam blushed slightly.

"She called me out a little bit.  I'm now very clear on the fact that I'm supposed to enjoy myself on this trip and not act like the third wheel."

"It's obvious to anyone who talks with them that they don't consider you a third wheel, Adam.  Personally, I find the three of you extraordinary."

"Really?  I would think we'd seem pretty mundane to you, Reuel.  For all I know, the anam cara thing started with you and your people."

"It may have.  And three people being anam caras wasn't unheard of.  But it was rare.  It takes very special people to not let jealousy creep in."

"Sometimes I worry..."

"Would you trade places with Clay right now?"

Adam abruptly shook his head.

"Oh... no...  Nope..."

Reuel laughed.

"I don't think you need to worry then."  The principality sipped his wine then turned contemplative.  "I think it's safe to tell you now that I was somewhat worried that Nen and Tzila might have especially targeted you.  I was very glad you were in Dyeland for much of the time."

"Why would they have especially targeted me?"

"Do you know what started Nen down his evil path?"

Adam nodded.  "When I think of that poor girl..."

Reuel patted his hand.

"You, more even than Andrew, are Nen's polar opposite.  You cared for a girl and then she got engaged to someone else.  Unlike Nen, you responded with increased love and devotion to them both."

"It never occurred to me to respond in any other way.  Clay and Kylie are so happy together!  To deny them that or begrudge them that..."  The angel of death shook his head.  "Never."  His face darkened.  "I don't think I could have handled any more of an attack than that nightmare.  Terrible..."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"Yeah, I guess.  I was inside their house and there was a fire raging and Clay was on one side of a hallway and Kylie was on the other.  They were stuck.  I... I tried to run to Kylie first but... but flaming beams fell a-and I couldn't reach her.  Then I turned to Clay and... same thing.  I lost them both."

Reuel sighed.

"Hearing that, I'm even more grateful they didn't have enough energy to focus much beyond Andrew.  They obviously knew..."

Adam nodded.

"It's behind us now," Reuel consoled.  "And now our communities are linked and for that I'm very grateful."

"Me too," Adam agreed.  "I'm glad Joshua fixed the portal.  Now we'll always be in your hair."

Laughing, Reuel shook his head. 

"And I won't mind a bit.  I also believe it'll be mutual.  Alas, for all our wonders, we don't have an amusement park.  You do.  Word is spreading."

"Then we'll definitely have to pick a day and get everything up and running."

"Maybe in late July or early August?  That'll give you and the Friends some time to settle back in after your vacation and the same for Eleora and Cody after their honeymoon."

"It's a plan!"

"Speaking of plans... what else is on your itinerary for this week?" Reuel questioned.

Adam shared his and Clay's and Kylie's plans with his friend.  By the time he'd finished, the angel of death realized that all his trepidation was gone.  He was truly excited for the days ahead!


Monday, June 29th

Adam laughed and snapped pictures as Clay and Kylie were stampeded by a cadre of baby goats inside the farm area of Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska.

"I swear... I could see millions of baby goats and never stop thinking they're adorable!" Kylie chirped as she fed a tiny gray and white one.

"Adorable and pushy!" Clay stressed as one sprawled on his lap and began licking his hand.

Adam slipped his phone into his pocket, retrieved some pellet food, and joined the couple.

"I wonder how much Randall spends feeding his own little monsters?" he asked as he was mobbed.

"The food's pretty cheap," Clay replied.  "So that helps even though they do seem to have bottomless pits for stomachs."

As Clay stroked his new little friend, Adam became aware of two older children staring and pointing at the man.  He flashed them an eery smile and the kids moved on.

Noticing the silent exchange, Kylie squeezed the angel's hand.

"So did you boys want to eat here or elsewhere?" she asked.

"JenniAnn said that the cafeteria by the rainforest is pretty good and that it's pretty fun watching the monkeys swing around while you eat," Clay relayed.

"She also mentioned that they have a good chocolate cake," Adam oh-so-casually offered.

Kylie laughed. 

"Well, then it sounds like we're decided.  That's at the other end, though, so maybe we better start heading that way." 

After final pats and scratches, the three departed from the goats.  On the way, they counted prairie dogs.

"JenniAnn was telling me that they used to be in their own enclosure but they went and burrowed out of it!  Now they've taken over a whole section of the zoo," Kylie explained.

"I'd hate to be the one that pops up in the lion or tiger areas!"  Adam winced.

"Hopefully they know better."  Clay pointed to one.  "That's a well fed little guy."

"Sure is!  Oh yay!  We'll pass the sea lions again.  Maybe the babies are doing something different!"

Kylie raced ahead leaving Adam and Clay to smile at each other.

"Don't let me forget to buy her a plush seal before we leave," Clay requested.

"Gotcha.  I want to grab a little something for Belle, too."

Clay smiled.  "She's such a little character.  I can't wait until..."

Adam squeezed his shoulder. 

"Me neither.  You and Kylie will be great parents."

"I hope so.  And, of course, they'll adore their Uncle Adam."

Adam felt his heart swell.

Looking ahead, the two saw Kylie vigorously waving at them so they hastened their steps. 

"He's nursing!" Kylie exclaimed as she pointed to the mother and baby seal on a large rock.

The three observed the tender scene together.  Adam noticed when Clay found Kylie's hand.  He knew they were hoping for the "honeymoon souvenir" that first Diana and Zeke and then Kemara and Sean had received.  Whether God blessed them with that or not, Adam prayed that He would send them children in His time.


After doing some shopping and sightseeing in the Old Market area of Omaha, the honeymooners took the portal back to Dyeland and then Los Angeles so they'd be well-poised for an early arrival at Disneyland the next morning.  Once they'd settled into their hotel rooms, the couple and Adam reconvened in his room.

"Beth told me about this really nice restaurant with amazing desserts," Kylie shared.  "Actually... when I mentioned it to JenniAnn, she agreed that it was really good but seemed kinda weird about it so maybe..."

Adam shook his head.  "I bet I know the one.  She and Andrew went there a few years ago and he had one of his PTSD episodes after a guy came onto JenniAnn.  So any weirdness has nothing to do with the restaurant itself.  It's very romantic so maybe I should..."

"Nope.  Dinner for three or we're eating out of the vending machine," Clay threatened.

Adam laughed.  "Okay, okay.  So shall we go change?  I'm not sure zoo appropriate attire is entirely fitting there."

Wrinkling her nose, Kylie nodded. 

"I definitely want to change.  Ooh, I can wear the dress Monica made for me!  So... meet in the lobby in an hour?"

"You got it," Adam averred.  He smiled as he watched the couple walk down the hall, their arms around each other's waists.


While dinner was delicious, it was nothing compared to the enjoyment Adam, Clay, and Kylie found simply in being together.  They laughed as they recalled Reuel's extreme patience when he was asked myriad questions in El-Chanan and again when they recounted various animal antics they'd seen at the zoo.

"I seriously thought you were going to explode, Adam, when those two tigers were doing their thing and that little boy asked his mom if they were just really bad at playing leap frog," Clay recalled with a grin and a gleam in his eyes.

Adam rolled his own eyes.

"I thought I was going to pass out from holding that laughter in but I knew that mother would give me one nasty look if I did.  She seemed very prim and proper."

With a giggle, Kylie shook her head at the memory of the woman's fumbling attempt to explain in any way but the truth.

"Well, I for one hope it brings them lil baby tigers.  They're endangered, after all.  If they do have cubs, we totally have to go see them."

Adam pulled out his phone.  "While we're thinking of it, I'm asking JenniAnn to keep us posted.  She gets the zoo's newsletters and I think they'd announce a birth.  That's why she knew to tell us about the seal pups."  He laughed when he received an immediate response.  "She wants to know why we think there will be a tiger birth."

"Tell her we saw two of them playing leap frog," Clay directed.

Grinning, Adam typed in the response and waited.  He burst out laughing and held the phone out for the other two to see. 

"So that's what they call it now.  Will share this linguistic update with Andrew promptly," was her response.

A moment later, more text appeared.

"Do any dancing?  I remember they have a lovely dance floor."

The three looked at each other.  Kylie was the first to turn away and peer at the dancing area.

"It is very nice..." she mused.

"I say we go for it.  One of us guys will get the honor of dancing with you, the other gets camera duty, and then we switch?" Clay suggested.

Kylie beamed.  "I love that idea!"

"How about you two go first?  I'll tell JenniAnn that she inspired us then start snapping pictures."

Clay clapped Adam on the back.


"You bet."

Kylie kissed his cheek then walked with her husband to the dance floor.

After typing a quick reply to JenniAnn, Adam did as he'd promised.  He thought each photograph was better than the last and especially loved the one he'd taken as the song had begun to die down.  Kylie was peering up at Clay and he was smiling so tenderly as he looked down at her and gently pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. 

"Your turn now!" Kylie chirped, giving Adam just enough time to hand off his phone to Clay before she led him onto the dance floor.

"You two looked... magical," Adam shared.

Kylie's smile lit up her whole face.

"Thank you.  I do think some people are just a bit curious about what's going on here."

With a chuckle, Adam snuck a glance to a nearby table where a few people were surreptitiously peeking over their menus and drinks. 

"Let them think what they want.  I'd say we could tell them Jesus made it clear that he's totally fine with the three of us honeymooning together but I think that just might strengthen any idea they have that we're a little off."

Kylie laughed.  "Oh yeah... definitely.  Especially if we also shared that we've each danced with him."

"And his parents."

"And cousin."

Adam smirked.  "How can we forget John?  Who knew the Baptist would be such a big fan of square dancing?"

Kylie sighed.  "Such a dream of a wedding...  I... I'm really glad you reassured me that a big wedding was okay even though..."

The angel patted her back.

"You and Clay deserve to be celebrated and you deserved to feel cherished on... on your wedding day and every day.  And I have no doubt you will feel that, Kylie."

Kylie smiled and waved to her husband who lowered the phone and returned her smile.

As the notes began to quiet, Kylie stretched up to kiss Adam's cheek.

"I hope you always feel cherished, too, sweet Adam."

As she embraced him before they parted, the angel of death felt entirely cherished.


After a few more dances, the trio returned to their table and ordered desserts.  While they waited, Kylie made a trip to the restroom.

As he sat alone with the angel, Clay fidgeted nervously with his silverware. 

"It's too late for wedding night nerves, you know," Adam pointed out.

Looking up from the napkin he'd begun to fold, Clay gave a sheepish smile.

"I suppose I'm a little nervous about tomorrow.  Actually... I wondered if maybe just you and Kylie should go."

Adam balked.  "But... but no!  It's Disneyland!  The prince needs to be with his princess... and the plucky sidekick.  What Disney movie do you know of where the heroine heads off with only the sidekick?"

"Mulan," Clay shot back with a sly grin.  "Actually, there are a lot of them where the prince and princess only interact at the end."

"Okay, so I shouldn't have asked that but... why?  Why don't you want to go?"

"I do want to go," Clay stressed.  "But all those little kids...  I know I scared a few at the zoo but Disneyland's going to be a lot more packed and..."

"And you got those scars fighting for their freedom and safety.  If I have to dole out lectures, I will.  But you have to come with us, Clay.  Don't make Kylie and me become another one of those Internet sensations where we take sad photos of a honeymoon without the groom."

Clay laughed when Adam stuck out his bottom lip.

"Okay, okay.  You're right.  Stupid idea.  But I do hate when Kylie gets upset for my sake."

"It just shows you have a very compassionate wife.  Besides, maybe seeing that shames some people into not gawking the next time they see someone different."

"True.  Although your evil eye might do that, too."

"I hope so.  I've been rotating it with 'crazed smile.'  That seems pretty effective, too."

Clay mimed fright when Adam gave him a preview.

When Kylie returned, both of the guys were laughing and making faces at each other.

"I'm glad I can count on you both to behave maturely when I'm away," she teased.

The three were still laughing when their desserts arrived and they resumed their friendly banter. 


Tuesday, June 30th

Kylie laughed as she snapped photographs of the tea cups going round and round with her husband and man of honor inside them.  Whenever they came near her, Adam and Clay grinned and waved like hyperactive five year olds. 

It had been an idyllic day!  They'd paddled Davy Crockett's canoes, taken in a show about President Lincoln that Adam vowed to bring Andrew to, flown on Dumbo, gone underwater with Nemo and Squirt, met Belle and Rapunzel and countless other characters, been not-quite-terrified by the Haunted Mansion, walked through Sleeping Beauty's castle, and done so much more.  Through it all, Kylie had heard the occasional whisperings about Clay but he'd had the foresight to wear his "Proud Army Veteran" T-shirt.  She'd felt a great deal of pride herself when a few people had approached to thank him for his service. 

After the tea cups had halted, Adam and Clay feigned immense dizziness and stumbled towards Kylie who greeted them both with hugs.

"How about we get your strength back by grabbing some beignets and coffee?" she suggested.

"Mmm...  I will never say no to fried pastry shape like a mouse," Adam replied.

"Covered in powdered sugar, no less," Clay added.  "I like that idea!"

The three made their way to the Mint Julep Bar.  Once they'd placed their orders, they sat down at a table and dug in.

Kylie let out a luxuriant sigh as she sampled her beignet.  She laughed when she looked over at the boys with their sugar-covered lips.

"I love it when you laugh like that," Clay murmured.

With a blush, Kylie smiled.  "Laugh like how?"

"So carefree and happy.  Girlish even.  It makes me feel like... like maybe I'm getting a glimpse of who you were when you were a teenager.  Sometimes I wish we'd met earlier.  So you wouldn't have ever felt..."  Clay shook his head.  "I'm sorry.  Here we're having this great, funny moment and I..."

"No...  It's okay," Kylie countered.  "I've been thinking things like that all day.  I know we met in God's time but..."  She frowned, trying to think of how to say what she meant.

"But when you love someone deeply, you always want more time with them," Adam finished.  "The thing is... I feel like, somehow, we were always part of each other.  And maybe that didn't always help when... when we each went through rough times.  But maybe it did.  I'm going to tell you both something that Max and Rose told me.  I know they won't mind my sharing because I've heard them tell the story several times since.  It happened when Andrew and Max were in Afghanistan.  Andrew had been badly beaten and was somewhat delirious.  Max was terribly worried.  Before that, Andrew had given him a shark's tooth necklace that Rose had once gifted him.  Just because Andrew had mementos of his friends but Max had none.  So that day when Andrew was so bad off, Max fingered that shark's tooth necklace and began to talk to Rose, telling her to keep praying for Andrew and promising that he'd do whatever he could to bring Andrew home to us.  Meanwhile, in Dyeland, we were all having a prayer service.  I was standing right by Rose.  We'd been singing and she suddenly stopped.  I asked her why and she said that, all of sudden, she knew that Andrew was going to be okay.  I believe with all my heart that, somehow, she heard Max... heard him even before they met.  Didn't you ever have moments when you were nervous or angry or scared and suddenly that all lifted?"

Clay and Kylie both looked at the angel, tears in their eyes.  They nodded.

"Maybe those were moments when God was bringing us close, somehow, even before we met.  Maybe we did help each other at times we didn't even realize it."

In unison, the couple reached across the table.  Kylie rested her hand over Adam's and Clay placed his hand over hers.  A tear sliding down his own cheek, Adam rested his other hand over Clay's.

"Together forever," Kylie whispered before gazing up at the twilight heavens.

"Thank God," Clay murmured as Adam solemnly nodded.

The magic they felt in that moment rivaled any in a fairy tale.


Wednesday, July 1st

Adam sprawled across his bed and stared up at the ceiling.  For the first time since Kylie had spoken to him in the courtyard, the angel felt lonely.  On Sunday night he'd had Reuel for company.  The following night he'd fallen asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. Between walking around the zoo and Old Market in the heat and following it up with all that dancing, he'd been exhausted.  The previous night; he, Clay, and Kylie had been so reluctant to end the blissful spell that had fallen over them that they hadn't parted until nearly two in the morning.  Adam smiled as he recalled sitting on his room's balcony with them and talking about the mundane and the mystical, the past and the future, everything and nothing. 

That day the trio had visited Seneca Falls aka "the real Bedford Falls" and agreed that Andrew and JenniAnn absolutely had to visit.  They'd emailed them several photos and even offered to babysit Belle whenever their friends chose to make the pilgrimage.  Adam had little doubt Andrew and JenniAnn would eventually take them up on their offer, seizing the opportunity to indulge in their fascination with ol' Clarence and the Bailey family.

After that, they'd gone to Finger Lakes National Forest.  Adam and Clay had kept that particular excursion to themselves.  When the honeymoon planning had begun, they'd each recalled that
on the morning the St. Genesius group had first come to Dyeland, Kylie had hoped that they'd be going to the Finger Lakes region.  By that, the two guys had known they'd have to take her there.  The Forest hadn't disappointed and they'd already made plans to return in the autumn.  Then they'd shared a quiet dinner in the hotel's restaurant and Clay and Kylie had turned in early.  Adam had sat in the bar for a while but after one too many pick-up attempts, he'd retired.

Now he wasn't sure what to do with himself...  He was just about to reach for the Gideon's Bible when there was a knock at his door.  Glancing at the clock, Adam saw it was 10:17.  Too late for a maid.  Maybe room service had gotten confused. 

The angel of death tied on his robe then peeked out the peephole.  He laughed and hurriedly unlocked the door.

"To what do I owe this pleasure, Eli?" Adam asked as he waved his fellow angel into the room.

Eli held up the six pack of bottles he was holding.

"It's not healthy to drink alone."

Adam cocked his head.

"And why are you drinking?"

"Because sarsaparilla is delicious.  Here you go."

Adam laughed as Eli thrust an ice cold bottle into his hand.

Eli hugged his friend.

"Really I just wanted to see how you're doing and the Father and Joshua didn't object so... here I am!  But man... now I really wish I'd bought some ice cream.  A float sounds..."  Eli grinned as a pint of vanilla ice cream and a scoop appeared on a table.  "Thank You!" he called.

Adam fetched two plastic glasses from a counter and allowed Eli to fix a float for him.  When both were ready, they tapped glasses.

"To my longtime friend, Adam.  May this be the best honeymoon of your life."

Laughing, Adam shook his head.

"I think I'd be happy if this was the only honeymoon in my life."

Eli's face fell.

"You aren't having a good time?"

"No!  I mean... yes.  Completely and utterly yes.  But, well, it's not like Clay and Kylie will ever get married again and..."

"And it wouldn't be the same with anyone else.  I get it."

Adam sipped his float then peered at Eli.

"Yeah, you do."

Eli gave a little smile when Adam patted his hand.

"Did you and Sophia ever...  Sorry.  Maybe you don't want to talk about..."

"I do.  It's the next best thing to having her here.  But I didn't intend to bring Sophia and me up.  I thought maybe it would be hard for you."

"No.  I don't think so.  The two of you were more like Andrew and JenniAnn and Arthur and Monica, weren't you?" Adam prodded.

"Yeah.  Although maybe a little more... or maybe I should just say less restrained."

Adam's interest was piqued. 

"How so?"

"Maybe it was because, in public, we had to be so restrained."  Eli shook his head as he remembered.  "We couldn't eat together in restaurants or sit together in movie theaters.  No going to the skating rink or the dance halls.  So... at home... her place... we were together as much as we pleased.  Well, obviously our job duties came first.  But there wasn't a night we weren't together when we had the choice."

"That sounds like Andrew and JenniAnn."

Eli smiled and nodded.  "Except it started up as soon as Sophia got back from the War."  He laughed.  "I'll never forget it.  She asked me to stay over and I thought 'Why not?' and Joshua was cool with it so... I said I would.  I figured maybe she was having trouble adjusting back to civilian life.  Or maybe she was afraid she'd have nightmares.  If so, I'd come running and put her at ease.  So I asked her where I should make myself comfortable and she looked hurt.  And that's when I realized..."

"She'd meant for you to stay in her room."

"Yeah.  A bit brazen, my Sophia."

"So what did you do?"

Eli shrugged.  "I made myself comfortable, of course!"

With a grin, Adam stirred his drink. 

"I probably should have known that's what she was after.  When we'd find ourselves alone in the military hospital where she was stationed, Sophia would pepper me with questions.  Was I allowed to slow dance?  To kiss?  To cuddle?  To sleep... and only sleep... with someone?  Naturally, I answered yes to each... with a few disclaimers."

"How much of this does JenniAnn know about?"

"Most of it... since June.  Before that, not a whole lot beyond that Sophia and I loved each other very much.  You have no idea how many times I wanted to tell her and Andrew about us and urge them to just get on with it."  Eli chuckled.  "But I had to remind myself that they were different people in a different situation.  For one, they had to get over that impulse to coddle each other and realize they were on equal footing.  For another, it's not like Sophia and I were trying to lead an entire world... even if Dyeland is a small world, it was still a lot of responsibility.  It might not have helped, in the early days, if their relationship was so different from the friendship Andrew had with all the girls."

"True.  I can definitely attest to that.  It upset me sometimes.  And sometimes I wasn't sure who I was upset with.  Andrew for not confiding in someone... JenniAnn mainly... when I could tell it would help him.  Or... it's not that I think the girls meant to make things difficult for him," Adam stressed.  "But he did try to treat them equally and no one seemed to realize that it's a lot more difficult to open up in front of five or more people than just one who you feel especially close to."

"Not ideal, that's for sure.  But obviously Joshua knew what he was doing," Eli reasoned.  "They learned their lessons when the group was small so now... when there are so many of us... it's already established that just because two... or three... people are very close, it doesn't mean they don't care about the others.  I think it's good that the St. Genesius crowd met Andrew and JenniAnn and Arthur and Monica as couples first and only later knew that Andrew and Monica were angels.  There was never any expectation that us angels should be equal parts aloof and close with everyone.  It's also good to keep in mind that there are different types of love but it doesn't mean one is better than the other.  For example, Arthur loves Liam differently than he loves Monica who he loves differently than he does Joshua.  And that's good."

Adam smiled.  "And Clay and Kylie love me differently than they love each other."

"Also good.  Because otherwise... we'd be having some issues."

Laughing, Adam nodded.

"The thing is, while I'm very happy for you and Andrew, I don't think I could be like you.  Sure, I get lonely sometimes... like tonight before you came.  But I also can't imagine having someone else there... every night, every morning."

"And God knew that, Adam.  So here you are." 

"Yeah...  It feels pretty great."  Adam swiveled and smiled at the stars beyond his window before turning back to Eli.  "Do you ever wish that you and Sophia had been part of a bigger group?  I, for one, am glad to have you and Andrew and Monica to discuss these things with."

Eli contemplated the question.

"Maybe.  I'm not sure, actually.  I think we did okay on our own, with God, of course.  So more than that..."  The angel sighed.  "Sometimes I get a little wistful when I see Ivy and Sy.  Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled for them and their love for each other.  Of course I know there are still problems involving race in this country... big ones... but, by and large, no one cares what those two do or where they go.  Certainly none of the Friends care beyond a little concern about racists.  But Sophia couldn't even be open about us with her family.  I think some of them would have been understanding, even encouraging.  But then we'd be putting our burden of secrecy on them."

With a frown, Adam nodded.

"So if you two mostly stayed at the house then... then hopefully you didn't have too many problems?"

Eli's face tensed.

"You don't have to talk a..."

Setting a hand on Adam's arm, Eli shook his head. 

"No.  It's fine.  We traveled, usually to places that were forward thinking and paid us no mind.  But we did occasionally go out around town.  In 1968, there was a protest organized at the Omaha Civic Auditorium to stand against George Wallace's presidential campaign.  Sophia really wanted to go.  I insisted on going with her because, well, I'd seen how some of those turned out.  People showed up to protest the protest...  Things got ugly.  A young African-American boy was killed by police and all hell broke loose.  Then there was the riot...  As we were fleeing, Sophia tripped on a bottle someone had thrown and twisted her ankle.  Not thinking about anything but getting her out of there, I scooped her up and kept running.  Some men saw and assumed my intentions were... less than noble.  They started beating on me and I know they must have heard Sophia screaming 'He's helping me!  He's my friend!' but they didn't care.  We only got away when a nearby car started on fire and they ran to go put it out."

"Eli, I'm sorry.  That's terrible."

"Yeah, it was.  Sophia was beside herself for days afterward.  She blamed herself... no matter how much I protested.  But we got past it in time.  When she started to appear older than I was, it actually got easier.  People just assumed I was her aide.  And, at the end, I really was..."

Adam moved to embrace his fellow angel.

Eli sighed and smiled gratefully at his friend.  He cocked his head when he noticed Adam's face looked ready to crumple.

"Adam, what is it?"

"I... I know Sophia's death was difficult for you and I can't help thinking...  Clay and Kylie... unless they go together... I... I'll be left with one and how... how am I going to help them through their grief when I'll be grieving myself?"

Eli squeezed Adam's hand. 

"You'll get through because God will be with you... and because they won't put it all on you.  When Sophia was dying, JenniAnn and I became closer.  In the days that followed, sometimes I comforted her more than she did me.  And sometimes she comforted me more than I did her.  Neither Clay nor Kylie would expect any different."

"Yeah...  You're right."

"And hopefully, like me, you'll be able to see their survivors thrive.  I know Sophia will never be forgotten, even after JenniAnn has gone Home and my time in Dyeland decreases.  Belle, Shelby, Max, Violeta... they'll remember Sophia, they'll remember our story.  Your story... yours and Clay's and Kylie's will never be forgotten, Adam."

Cheered by this, Adam brushed at his tears.

"Yeah.  Maybe some day one of the kids will write a book about all of us."

Eli chuckled.  "It'd have to be a long book!"

"Maybe a series?" Adam posited.


"With one of Owen's paintings on the cover."

"Or Jacob's.  That little guy's got talent!"

"And dedicated to Joshua."

"Aww, yeah.  Definitely," Eli agreed.

After a moment, Adam smirked.

"I hope we all get a chance to read it over first.  May be a few instances we'd all like to keep to ourselves."

"Oh, you mean like the time the turkeys all gained up on you and Andrew and I found you standing on top of a chair, unable to move... dozens of beady little avian eyes staring at you?"

"Yeah...  That was the last time I ever tried eating a doughnut around them."

Eli laughed and emptied his glass.


"Seconds," Adam agreed.

After fixing their floats, the two angels continued to reminisce over the fun they'd had in Dyeland and among the Friends.


Thursday, July 2nd

When Clay woke up, the first thing he noticed was that his wife was not in bed with him.  The second thing was the nearby alarm clock displaying 11:20.  The third was that the balcony door was open.  Slightly anxious, Clay rose, tied on his robe, and stepped out onto the balcony.  His unease fell away when he found Kylie sitting on a chair, hands folded and head bowed.  After another moment, she stood and smiled at him.

"Hi.  I couldn't sleep so I thought I'd talk to Joshua.  And I guess I just wanted to see the heavens while I did," Kylie explained before gently pushing Clay into the chair she'd vacated.

Clay smiled when she settled onto his lap and nuzzled the open neck of his robe. 

"I'm sure Joshua was very glad to hear from you but I'm sorry you couldn't sleep, Ky.  You could have woken me up."

"I know.  Just a bundle of thoughts, I guess, and I wanted to sort them out."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

Kylie sat up and nodded.

"It was really cool
to visit the Susan B. Anthony House and Women's Hall of Fame today.  And it was even cooler that you and Adam were so interested.  I couldn't help but think that if I'd told Jett I wanted to go to them, he would have laughed and accused me of being one of those 'brainless, lesbian feminists.'  And then... I found myself thinking about how different this all is from the first days after Jett and I got married.  I'm sorry."

Clay noticed his wife's face flush and her head begin to bow.  He caught her chin in his hand.

"Your past is part of you, darling.  I don't want you to think that you can't talk to me about it... or about Jett."

Kylie nodded then kissed her husband.

After a few more passionate kisses, Kylie resumed speaking.

"Reading all those stories about all those brave, bold women...  I wish I'd grown up with that.  I wish I'd grown up knowing that I deserved to be respected and that I had a right to... to set limits.  I knew so little about sex...  The night before I married Jett, my mother finally gave me some sort of variation on The Talk and basically told me that I likely wouldn't enjoy sex but it was part of being a good, dutiful, Christian wife.  So... so I didn't really think anything about it when... when it... it hurt really bad and... and Jett didn't stop or... or ask..."

Tears flooded Clay's eyes.  "Kylie..."  He gathered her closer.

"I figured it... it would have to be better with you.  I knew it would be but I... I never knew that... that sex could be something that would... would make me want to leave Adam, who I adore, playing a pub quiz downstairs with Henry so we... we could make love."  Kylie kissed Clay's neck then peered into his eyes.

Clay met her enamored gaze with his own tender one.  He briefly closed his eyes when she began to stroke his face... both sides.  Even his own mother preferred to touch the unmarred side.  Kylie showed no preference.

After enjoying the sensation for a few moments, Clay rested his forehead against his bride's.

"I love you so much, Ky.  And these few nights... and mornings... have been... bliss."

Kylie smiled and nodded.

"But I know there will be times when you're tired or not feeling well or just want space.  There will be times I feel all of that, too.  I don't want either of us to ever feel like it's our duty to have sex... or that we're somehow not being good Christians if we don't.  Josh can't want that."

"No... he doesn't.  I know that now.  I just... I wish everyone did.  I got away from that mindset but... but I know there are still girls like me, maybe even right now, hearing that same talk."

Clay nodded.  "I think you should talk to Dot about starting an off-shoot of her ladies' Bible study for the younger girls at church.  They need to hear a voice like yours.  I don't think the teaching you grew up with is rampant in our church.  I don't see Pastor Steve going for that.  But who knows what kids hear at home."

Kylie snuggled nearer after his lips grazed her forehead.

"Good idea.  You wouldn't mind?  What if it meant I'd miss some of your games?  I'm already concerned about that when I have rehearsals at St. Genesius'."

Clay cupped Kylie's face and kissed her forehead.

"Don't be.  I know you'll still be there for some.  You don't need to be there for all of them.  I can fill you in later that night.  This is important."

"Yeah... it is.  Thank you."

The couple shared some more kisses.

"You want to go back to bed?" Kylie asked.

Clay nodded.  "You want to try to get some sleep or..."

"Or..." Kylie replied with smile.

Mirroring her smile, Clay took his wife's hand and, after a quick prayer of his own, re-entered the room with her.


Friday, July 3rd

"Look at you three!  All of you positively glowing!"  Sibyll gushed as the honeymooners arrived at her and Lewellyn's castle on the island of Baile in Dyeland. 

The two Asterians embraced each of their guests. 

"Thank you!" Kylie replied.  "We're so glad to be here and thank you so much for hosting us.  We've been looking forward to visiting places here that we haven't been to yet.  The little bit of Baile that I saw as we sailed in is lovely!  And your home..."

Lewellyn beamed.  "Thank you.  It was a great place to raise a family... and it remains a great place to welcome them back to for holidays.  Speaking of the ol' offspring..."  He turned to Adam and Clay.  "Mike had a parishioner cancel an appointment with him so he thought he'd join us for this afternoon's round of golf.  Is that okay?"

Both men eagerly nodded.

"A visit from Fr. Mike would be great!" Clay enthused.  "I had no idea he golfed."

Sibyll laughed and shook her head. 

"He doesn't really.  But when he'd visit with potential donors to St. Mary Magdalene's charitable endeavors, they'd always ask him to golf so Lewellyn, Andrew, and a couple of our sons tried to teach him.  He's... well, he's better than he used to be."

Adam chuckled.  "Well, the companionship is the best part of it, anyway, and I imagine you jump at every opportunity to see your son.  Busy guy."

"You can say that again," Lewellyn agreed.  "And we do."

"Such a good boy!  But I promise I won't gush.  His poor ears are probably ringing already!  Come!  I'll show you to your rooms and you be sure to tell us if there's anything, anything at all, we can do to make your stay more comfortable."

"This is already so wonderful..." Kylie murmured as she admired the paintings and pictures lining the corridor.  "Oh!"

The others halted when Kylie did and looked to where she was pointing.

"Oh...  Yes, that's when Mike introduced us to darling Joshua.  I just knew based on the way my boy looked at him..."  Sibyll's eyes welled.

Lewellyn squeezed her shoulders then smiled at Clay and Kylie.

"It was wonderful to see him and his family at your wedding.  Thank you, again, for inviting us."

"It was our honor.  I hope we can get to know each other more in the future... starting today.  Fr. Mike's very special to us all.  How could we not invite the people who helped make him who he is?" Clay questioned.

"Such sweethearts!" Sibyll replied, smiling warmly at her visitors before continuing to usher them to the rooms she had thoughtfully selected for them.


Sibyll and Kylie waved from the shore as Lewellyn, Fr. Mike, Adam, and Clay rowed to Asterangeles for their golf game.  Once they were out of sight, Sibyll clasped the younger woman's hand.

"So I thought we might go for a bit of a nature walk if you're up to it.  We have gorgeous wildflowers and I thought you might want to pick some to place around your home.  You are returning home tomorrow, right?"

Kylie nodded.  "Yep!  And I know some people get sad about their honeymoons ending and this one has been so great but... I'm really looking forward to 'normal life' with Clay.  And flowers would be a great way to start it off!"

"Oh good!  Well, there are some lovely patches not far from here so we can get those and then come back to the castle to put them in water and then, if you're interested, we have fantastic hot springs along the southwest coast.  Do you have a bathing suit?"

"Ooh!  Yes, I do.  That would be amazing."


Sibyll linked her arm through Kylie's and their sojourn began.


Two hours later, the two women were almost entirely submerged in the hot springs.

Kylie let out a dreamy sigh as she leaned back and stared up at the clear blue sky.

"This is amazing..." she murmured.

"You'll have to show it off to Clay sometime.  You'd always be welcome.  And there are several along here so I doubt you'd ever have trouble finding one for yourselves even if others had gotten the same idea."

"Thanks!  Do you and Lewellyn come here often?"

"Oh, yes.  More actually than when we were young.  It feels great on the old, arthritic joints.  I'm so pleased you like it!  Lewie and I really wanted to do something special for you and Clay and Adam.  I know we don't know each other exceedingly well but... I suppose I've come to feel something of a kinship with you ever since you spoke up about your past at one of the Bible studies."

"Aww, thanks, Sibyll.  That means a lot.  But, if you don't mind my asking... why?"

Sibyll responded with a slight smile.

"I suppose because it wasn't so very different from my own.  Asteriana...  It's long been a bit of a wild place... wild in the best sense of the word.  Lots of freethinkers.  But my family was quite strict.  Even when I was growing up, our population was dwindling so there weren't very many potential husbands to choose from around here.  My parents looked down on those there were... Lewie especially.  He was a bard and, naturally, the boy I favored.  But there's not much money to be had in singin' and storytellin'."

"But... but the castle," Kylie protested.

Sibyll smiled.  "It's been in his family for generations.  The only income Lewie had was from a small fee he collected when people hired him for parties... and when you have a small number of customers to go with that small fee...  Well, anyway, I was sent to live with an aunt in Massachusetts who lived among other former Asterians and from them my husband-to-be was chosen for me...  Ours was not a happy engagement but I didn't feel like I had any choice.  During one of our dates, the man became quite forceful.  I protested... we were Catholics, after all, and premarital sex was regarded as a grave sin.  He insisted that we were as good as married.  I fought him off and succeeded in keeping him from raping me but he was very violent.  I ended up with a broken wrist and bloodied nose and torn dress.  I ran as fast as I could, clear to the portal in our church there.  And I kept running until I came to Aisling... the castle.  Lewie's mother took one look at me, pulled me inside, and got me to bed.  I was half-delirious and exhausted but I remember waking to people shouting.  Reghan, Lewie's mum, sang to me and told me not to mind the noise.  I later found out my father and brother had come to fetch me and take me back to Massachusetts.  Lewie and Quinlan, his father, barred them.  Lewie's family kept me with them and, a week after my arrival at Aisling, our blessed Fr. George married Lewie and me.  It didn't follow proper protocol... no pre-wedding counseling.  But Fr. George understood that my parents would hardly have a bigamist for a daughter.  Getting me married was the best way to protect me from them and my former fiance.  Happily, I don't think Lewie's and my lack of premarital counseling shows."

Taking in Sibyll's proud smile, Kylie shook her head and reached out to squeeze the woman's hands.

"No... not at all.  I'm so glad you were able to marry the man you love but I'm sorry that you had to suffer first, Sibyll.  If... if you feel comfortable telling me, where you ever able to forgive your parents?" Kylie questioned.

"Forgive, yes.  They would have nothing to do with us, though.  My father died suddenly of a heart attack about five years later.  My mother developed cancer and her death... it came much more slowly, I'm afraid.  Towards the end, my sister claimed Mother had asked for me so I went to see her, Mike growing in my belly at that point.  She wasn't conscious but I told her that I'd forgiven her and Father and that I loved them and was sorry she was suffering.  She never spoke but, at one point, she put her hand on my stomach and I like to think she smiled.  The next day, my sister told me she'd passed in the night.  I still hope Mother realized that I'd chosen well in Lewie, that I was happy, that God had blessed us."

"I'm sure she did," Kylie assured as she brushed at her tears.  "I... I wonder sometimes if my own mother might be more understanding if she could just see Clay and me.  But I'm also not quite there with the forgiveness.  Actually, I find it more difficult to forgive her than Jett, my first husband.  I was nothing to Jett until I was his girlfriend and then his wife.  But... but I was always my mother's daughter, her baby.  Yet, even when she knew I was in pain, she wouldn't allow that... that maybe I needed to leave him a-and get divorced.  She wouldn't come to Clay's and my wedding..."  Kylie frowned for a moment then brightened.  "But Dot was there and Clay's mother, Desta, and Diana and Maryam a-and you and I feel like I can go to any and all of you if I ever need motherly advice."

Sibyll hugged Kylie's shoulders.

"I think I can safely speak for all of us when I say we'd love to hear from you, Kylie, and would do our best with the advice."

Beaming, Kylie returned the older woman's hug and then began to tell her the shareable details of her honeymoon.


"So the idea isn't to see how many balls one can send into the ocean?" Fr. Mike pondered aloud, a grin on his face.

Lewellyn clapped him on the back.

"No, son, but if it was, you would be a champion!"

"Aww, thanks, Dad."

"Actually, while Adam and Clay finish their snacks, why don't we go work on your form some more?"

Fr. Mike finished off one of the cookies his mother had packed for them then smiled at his father.

"I have a feeling yours is a lost cause, Dad."

"Then I'll pray to St. Anthony during our whole lesson.  We'll be back, fellows."

After a smile for Adam and Clay, father and son walked several yards off to begin their tutorial.

"Great family," Clay observed.

Adam nodded.  "And thank God for them.  They really helped when JenniAnn and Co. showed up here.  I'm not sure they would have remained without Lewellyn's and Sibyll's guidance and reassurance.  And then..."

"Then none of us would have met... or at least not met as we did."


Clay looked with even greater appreciation at his surroundings and his friend.

"This week has been so incredible.  I'm so glad you could join us, Adam, and I hope it's been okay when Kylie and I were... on our own."

Adam smiled.  "It's been great.  Let's see... that first night I got to hang out with Joshua, always a plus.  Then on Sunday night I got a chance to get to know Reuel even more... fascinating fellow!  On Monday and Tuesday I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow after we split up.  Wednesday featured sarsaparilla floats and great conversation with Eli and last night... well, you're looking at co-champion of the hotel's Movie Night Pub Quiz.  Henry and I felt ever so slightly guilty given we predate the existence of film but... not guilty enough to stop us from claiming the trophy."

Clay laughed heartily.  "You deserve it.  And I'm glad you've had a good time."

"I really, really have, Clay.  But I don't want you and Kylie thinking you need to take me on every trip."

"Okay...  But you will go back to the Finger Lakes National Forest with us, won't you?"


"And to see the tiger cubs if that happens?"

Chuckling, Adam nodded.

"Oh, yeah, we definitely need to do that together."

"Cool.  And I was thinking...  You and Kylie have the St. Genesius shows together and that's great but it'd also be really nice if you and I had an activity so... the school gave me some money to hire an assistant coach.  If you'd be interested and Joshua would allow it...  You wouldn't have to be there when the theatre schedule conflicts or assignments or your therapy work..."

With tears pricking his eyes, Adam hugged the man.

"Aww, Clay.  Thank you!  But spend that money to hire someone who needs the job.  Meanwhile, I'd be happy to come on as a volunteer, as often as I can.  Because, yeah, I'd really, really love spending that time with you.  Thank you so much!"

"Thanks for agreeing!  I'm really excited!"  Clay beamed and returned Adam's hug. 

When he pulled away, Adam noticed Clay cocking his head.

"What is it?"

"Maybe we should go try out our co-coaching skills now?" Clay suggested.

Adam turned to where he pointed, just in time to see Fr. Mike do an almost 360 degree spin as he swung his golf club.

"Now surely he's just joking around..." Adam mused.

He and Clay exchanged looks.  Both realized that based on the priest's earlier play, that wasn't an entirely safe supposition.  Laughing, they went to join Lewellyn in delivering a remedial golf tutorial.


Thursday, July 4th

Following a sublimely delicious brunch at Aisling, the honeymooners at last returned to Albany.  After helping Clay and Kylie get their luggage inside, Adam felt a moment's awkwardness.  He realized he should probably leave the couple to enjoy the privacy of their new home.  However, he also didn't want to seem like he was eager to be rid of their company.

Thankfully, he was saved by Kylie who clasped first his then Clay's hands.

"I suppose we should probably split up," she began.  "Got to get ready for the party at Willowveil tonight and I want to help Dot with the treats she's bringing.  But first... can we go out by the pond and pray?"

"Of course," Clay agreed.

"Great idea," Adam assented.

Hand in hand, the three made their way to the pond where Clay and Kylie had proposed and Adam and Joshua had sung on the night of the wedding.  The angel of death smiled at Tom, Nancy, Gertrude, and Percival. 

"Joshua, Father, Spirit; I just want to thank You for this wonderful week we've shared and... and for this awesome beginning to what I know is going to be an awesome marriage.  But I'm not just grateful for what You've worked between Clay and me... although that's pretty, well, awesome."

The two men smiled at Kylie.

"I'm so grateful for the strong, vibrant friendship between Clay, Adam, and me. 
I... I guess You know how good it feels to be united as three.  Thanks for sharing that feeling with us.  I hope that what exists between us enables us to better share Your love with everyone we meet.  And no matter what the future brings, help us to never forget that there are two other people here who... who we mean everything to cause... cause I know that's what Clay and Adam mean to me."

When Kylie became too choked up to continue, Adam and Clay pulled her into a group hug.

"Amen," they murmured in unison.

Unseen and unheard, Joshua leaned against a nearby tree and looked at the three, a smile of immense pride and love on his face.

When they at last pulled apart and headed back to the Romanos' farm house so Adam could take the portal back to Dyeland, Joshua walked a few steps behind them.  He watched as they laughed and gently teased each other.  With a joyful grin on his face, the carpenter sang.

"'My Adam, Clay and Kylie walking through the... farmland,
Laughing back and forth at what the other ones have to say.
Reminiscing this and that and having such a good time
Oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally, golly, what a day.'"

The End

Disney's Cinderella
Disney's Hercules
Disney's Robin Hood
"Oo-De-Lally"/"Robin Hood and Little John" by Roger Miller
Jesus Christ Superstar
Disney's Mulan
Davy Crockett
Disney's Dumbo
Disney's Finding Nemo
Disney's Beauty and the Beast
Disney's Tangled
Disney's Sleeping Beauty
It's a Wonderful Life

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