Sunshine and Snow
Sunday, November 14th, 2038
Andrew kept a careful eye on JenniAnn as she whirled around
the ballroom, studying each table centerpiece and ensuring it
was perfect. The sight of her... the gold and silver
tumble of her hair, the royal blue sheen of her gown... made
the angel want to pull her to him and dance. But there
would be time for dancing later!
"Andrew?" she called.
"Coming," he answered, approaching from the other side of the
"Can you please stand back a bit and tell me when this is
centered? It just looked a little off."
Andrew obediently moved to the appointed spot and watched as
JenniAnn slid a heart-shaped photograph frame he had
crafted. From inside, two beaming young faces stared
back at him.
"There. It looks good there, Laja."
JenniAnn moved to Andrew's side and checked for herself.
She stared and she stared... and then she began to sob.
"Laja... Oh, Laja..." Andrew pulled her close,
tucking her head beneath his chin, and softly swayed.
"I... I'm not... not ready... He... he... he's my baby!"
Smiling, Andrew kissed her hair.
"And he's always gonna be your baby, Laja. Our
baby. He's just also gonna be Evie's husband."
"But they... they're barely twenty!"
"Yes. And, for you, that's very young to get
married. But, for most of history, it would have been
completely acceptable. That's around Yosef's age when he
got married. And even a few years older than when
Maryam, Isolde, and Marco did. And look at them!
They're still happy and in love all these hundreds of years
JenniAnn rested her cheek against the angel's chest and let
out a shuddering sigh.
"And... I seem to remember a certain someone who, at the ripe
old age of seventeen, was convinced she could love me and only
me forever and ever and ever..."
"But that was..."
"Well... because you're an angel and..."
"Yes, because an angel of death is a much safer partner than a
sweet, little teacher's aide."
JenniAnn glared up at Andrew who only chuckled and kissed her
"My Laja... Look, do I wish they were waiting a
while? Yes. But they made some solid arguments for
getting married now. And, beyond that, this family knows
better than most that you can't keep two people who love each
other apart. It was either this or they would have
eloped to El-Chanan. And I, for one, would have been
very upset about not being present at my son's wedding."
"Yeah..." JenniAnn agreed.
"So... we are going to be happy. We're gonna
dance. And then we're gonna send our little boy and his
new bride off, knowing we love them both so very much and...
maybe put in a good word for giving us another grandbaby in a
year or two?"
"Andrew..." The beginnings of a grin flickered on
"Okay, okay... So I'll leave that last part out.
But I'll be thinking it. And then..."
"You and I are gonna have this big, ol' castle to ourselves
for the first time in a very long while. And I have
plans..." Andrew waggled his eye brows.
"Ack! Blah, blah, blah...."
Belle dramatically announced her presence by entering the
ballroom, her ears covered.
JenniAnn laughed and pulled her "traumatized" daughter to her.
"My baby girl..."
Belle, wearing a sleeker dress in the same shade as her
mother, gently rubbed her nose against JenniAnn's.
"Mama. Avi wants to see you. He's in his room."
"Oh... okay. I'll go see what he needs. Be back in
Once JenniAnn was gone, Belle smiled and approached her
"She's kinda a wreck, huh?"
Andrew twirled his daughter around.
"You look beautiful, Baby Girl. Liam will be rendered
Belle blushed and hugged Andrew.
"I don't think it'll be long before this ballroom sees another
wedding reception... I mean... not that it would have to
"I... I'd like it to be here." Belle's eyes misted and
she stretched up to kiss her father's cheek. "Save me a
dance tonight, Daddy?"
Andrew's eyes welled and he nodded.
"I'll save you all the dances you want, Belle..."
"You're totally gonna be like mom is right now when I get
"Daddy..." Belle once again wrapped her arms around her
father. "I'm always gonna be your little girl... your
Andrew sighed contentedly and kissed her hair.
"And I thank God for that."
JenniAnn knocked softly on Avi's closed bedroom door.
"Sweetie, it's Mama."
"Come in!" Avi called.
JenniAnn opened the door to find her son standing in front of
his mirror, fooling around with his tie.
Avi smiled at her via the mirror.
"Help?" he requested.
JenniAnn approached and made quick work of the tie. Then
she stepped back to admire her son.
"Oh Avi... You... you look so handsome."
"Thanks, Mama. I was also hoping you'd brush out my
hair? I want it to be perfect. No knots or
tangles. And then maybe tied up with this?"
JenniAnn took the royal blue, velvet ribbon from him and
"I think that would look very nice, sweetie. Very
"Thanks. Evie told me she's always liked it when I wear
a ponytail. She says it makes me look like a fairytale
prince." Avi beamed.
"I agree with her." JenniAnn waved to the bed.
Just as he had so often as a child, Avi perched on the edge,
kicking his legs as his mother settled behind him and began to
As her son's beautiful, golden locks drifted through her
fingers, JenniAnn's mind traveled back. Back to the day
she had first held his beautiful, tiny body and first glimpsed
his sweet, unique face.
August 18th, 2018
Frowning, Andrew nuzzled his face into JenniAnn's hair.
It wasn't time to get up... he was so comfortable...
Then the meaning of the disruptive noise cleared his mental
JenniAnn's cell phone was ringing...
Glancing over at his bedstand, Andrew saw it was 3:17
AM. That couldn't be good...
"Mmm..." JenniAnn moaned and burrowed her face into her
pillow. Then she went stiff. "No..."
Andrew turned on his lamp while JenniAnn clamored for the
"Father... It... it's Father," she murmured, tears
Andrew bowed his head, unable to deny it. For weeks, the
elder Jacob had been largely bedridden. Then, the week
before, he'd suffered a catastrophic stroke. He no
longer spoke. The left side of his face was
distorted. He mostly slept.
For the past few days; Andrew, JenniAnn, Belle, and Violeta
had all crammed into Shelby's chamber... which had once been
JenniAnn's... so they could be nearby when the inevitable
occurred. But just the previous night, Vincent had sent
the couple home, urging them to get some uninterrupted
sleep... and some alone time.
And now it had happened.
Andrew was wondering who had taken Jacob Home when JenniAnn's
voice interrupted his thoughts.
"Wait... what? Who called?"
Andrew looked questioningly at JenniAnn who shrugged and put
the phone on speaker. A moment later, Catherine's
shaking voice could be heard.
"His name's Darian. I... I met him when I went to
Ireland to spread Cora's ashes. He's the caretaker of
Lor's and Cora's old cabin. He's Dr. McCarn's second
cousin or maybe grand nephew... I can't remember
exactly. Dr. McCarn, you know. Lor's parents'
"Yes, yes I remember. But... why did he call? And
how's Father?" JenniAnn questioned.
"Father's the same. And he called because... he has a
JenniAnn shook her head.
"That's really wonderful for him but..."
"No, Psyche. Not his baby. He... he found a
baby. A... 'different sort of baby,' he said. I'd
left him my name and number... in case anything concerning
Cora or Lor or his parents came up that Vincent might want to
know about. I didn't really think anything would but I
figured maintaining a contact in Ireland would be good."
Andrew's eyes went wide.
A different sort of baby...
"I never told him about Vincent," Catherine continued.
"I mean... I told him that I'd married the son of the couple
whose cabin he watched. But I never mentioned Vincent
being different. He looked at me a little funny,
though... like maybe McCarn had told him about Lor's
condition. But the main point of this all is... he wants
me to come get the baby. And I will, of course, but..."
"Father," JenniAnn murmured.
"Yes. And I... I want to be here with Vincent and Jacob
when it happens. It... it's going to be so hard on them
both. And Devin... well, Devin's being Devin. And
I... I'm not sure I'm ready for it, either, but..."
Catherine was interrupted by a sob. "Psyche, I know it's
going to be hard for you, too, but..."
"I'll go. I'll go get the baby," JenniAnn volunteered.
Andrew looked over at her then nodded.
"I'll go with her."
There was a shuffling sound on the other side of the line then
Vincent's tired, cracking voice emerged.
"Thank you, Psyche, and thank you, Andrew. We wouldn't
ask except... he said the little one... he's not well.
Won't... won't eat..." Vincent's voice cracked again.
Tears slid down JenniAnn's cheeks. She was sure Vincent
was thinking of the helpless baby... but also of Father.
"It... it's no problem. We'll head your way now.
Figure out a flight..."
"I'll start looking now. We'll pay, of course,"
JenniAnn opened her mouth to protest but Andrew gave her a
look to silence her. No one had the energy to argue over
money right now.
"We'll be right there," Andrew assured.
"Thank you," Catherine responded. "Thank you both so
"It... it's no problem. See you soon. Love to you
"I love you, Psyche. And you, Andrew," Vincent replied.
"Our love to both of you. We'll be right there," Andrew
reiterated before ending the call.
For a few moments, Andrew and JenniAnn simply stared at each
other. Then Andrew leaped from the bed.
"I'll bring our suitcases up."
"Thank you. I'll start getting things ready to pack
and... the pets!"
"We'll ask Raquel and Nico and Isolde and Marco to take turns
checking in. I'm sure they'll do that. And Violeta
and Ivy will be around."
"Right. Okay... So... let's go."
For the next few minutes, the two ran around the castle,
preparing for their last minute voyage.
When Andrew and JenniAnn arrived in Vincent's and Catherine's
chamber, they found the latter in front of her computer with
several browser windows open. Vincent was perched in
their rocking chair, a sleeping Belle in his arms.
"Is she all right?" JenniAnn asked as she approached and
lightly touched Belle's forehead.
Vincent peered groggily up at his godchild and nodded.
"Just a nightmare."
"In part, I think. She dreamed I was sick."
"Poor love." JenniAnn stooped to kiss first Belle's brow
and then Vincent's.
"I should have let you sleep. The only nonstop flights
aren't til this evening," Catherine lamented.
"And what about the others flights?" Andrew asked.
"Most of them wouldn't get you there much earlier. And I
don't want to risk you getting stuck any where. And
then... how are we going to get you back? You... you
can't just get on a plane with... with him." Emotionally
exhausted, Catherine began to sob.
Andrew squeezed her shoulder and then turned the laptop
"There's still a portal in London. We haven't used it in
a long time but it's there. I just... I don't know how
we'd get the baby from... what's the name of the town?"
"From Ballycork to, say, Liverpool. Once we figure that
out, I could drive from Liverpool to London," Andrew
"But what if you get stopped?" Catherine questioned.
JenniAnn approached and looked at the screen, trying to find a
"Are we even sure the baby looks like Vincent? I mean
what if all he meant was the baby has a cleft lip or Down's
Catherine shook her head.
"He said the baby looked like he was part kitten," she
JenniAnn frowned. That settled that...
"Well, I could just keep him tucked against me," she
offered. "Shield his face, ya know. Andrew's a
wonderful driver. So I doubt we'd get pulled over."
"But what if there's a terrorist attack around there and
security is tight? What if they have road blocks with
check points? They wouldn't just let you clutch an
unexamined bundle, Psyche! And Andrew can't drive from
Ireland to the U.K. Ireland's an island!" an exasperated
Catherine pointed out. "And... and you don't know how
people will react. Maybe they'll be kind. Maybe
they'll stay quiet. Or... or maybe..." Catherine
lowered her voice. "They'll want to turn that poor baby
into a science experiment..."
JenniAnn cringed, remembering what she'd been told about an
awful time when Vincent had been abducted by a scientist.
Andrew rubbed at his temples. They'd all had only scarce
amounts of sleep over the past week. He and JenniAnn
were barely able to plan meals... let alone international
trips with an enigmatic baby.
JenniAnn began to feel panicked when she had a brainstorm.
"Josef! We should ask Josef. FS has some private
planes. He needs them sometimes for missions.
Andrew nodded eagerly.
"Yes, that's right! Marco's even mentioned to me that he
learned how to fly because of that. What time is it?"
"4:25," Catherine reported.
"I doubt he'll be up. But maybe..." Andrew pulled
out his phone and sent a text message asking Josef to call as
soon as he was up.
In only a few moments, the phone rang.
"Hey," Josef greeted.
"Hey. I didn't expect to hear from you so soon, Josef."
The man sighed.
"Daisy had a nightmare, unfortunately. She's fine
now. But I couldn't get back to sleep. So what's
"I'm sorry to hear that. And I hope you can get back to
sleep soon but... I have a huge favor to ask."
In a rush of words, Andrew relayed the information about the
mystery baby to the former vampire.
"Yeah. Wow..." Andrew agreed.
"So this cabin is basically in the middle of no where?" Josef
queried. "I can't say that I've heard of Ballycork."
"It was last time Catherine visited. So, yeah, I think
"So I probably couldn't get a plane in there. But... I
have contacts among the Irish government. I could get an
FS van there. If at any point you get pulled over, the
driver can show documentation and the police will just wave
him or her along. It happens all the time. I have
a jet that we use for missions in and around the UK. I
could get it to Dublin. The van could get you to Dublin
and from there... it'd probably be a little less than six
hours to get you back to New York."
"That... that's got to be hundreds of thousands of dollars,"
"Was that JenniAnn?" Josef asked.
"Yeah," Andrew verified. "But actually... we wouldn't
have to do that. If we take the portal to London and
then back, we'd just need to take the van from Ballycork to
Dublin and then maybe a plane from Dublin to London?"
"I can do it," Josef assured. "Don't think about the
"But..." JenniAnn protested.
"Listen, if it'll make you feel any better, I'll send a few of
my guys along," Josef offered. "It's almost time to
switch up my teams, anyway. They get restless if they're
in one place for too long. We would have done this in a
couple weeks' time, anyway. The plane's in Amsterdam
right now. So we'll get those guys, move them to Dublin,
take the Dublin crowd to London with you, drop you all off,
and return to Amsterdam with the London set. I can tell
those crews to be on alert for a move. Once I hear that
you're ready to go, I'll get the guys picked up in Amsterdam
and we'll set this all in motion. They're all former
vampires. They won't think anything about the baby being
different. Let me do this. Please."
Catherine, Vincent, Andrew, and JenniAnn all looked at each
"I'm cured... I have a beautiful little girl. I'm
engaged to a wonderful woman. I... I've met God," Josef
continued. "All of that because you stuck by me even
when I was a sulky, self-involved vampire. I want to do
this. Besides, I got into this business to help
people. Let me help this baby."
"We will. Thank you, Josef. So much."
"You're welcome. I really am glad to do this.
You're okay getting to Ireland?"
"Thank you so much for this, Josef," JenniAnn echoed Andrew's
sentiment. "And yes. We're looking at commercial
flights. Although... it occurs to me that if we take the
portal to London, we'd just need to fly from there to Dublin
and then Andrew could drive the rest of the way to
Ballycork. It would take a lot less time."
"There you go!" Josef encouraged.
Catherine drew in and let out a deep breath, calming
"That does help..."
For the first time since the call from Darian, Catherine
"Look, here's one from 8:45 to 10:05 this morning... our time,
I mean. It would be around 2:00 there. And there
are seats left! And I can get you a car for pick-up in
Andrew squeezed the woman's shoulder.
"Sounds like a plan. Laja?"
"You're sure you want to do this, Psyche?" Vincent called.
JenniAnn approached him and gripped his hand.
"I do. I just... I... I think I should go see Father
before I leave."
Vincent's eyes welled and he nodded.
"Yes, I think so. Catherine, could you please take Belle
once you're finished there?"
Catherine finished ordering the tickets and booking the car
then gently took Belle from her Appa.
For a moment, the girl stirred.
"It's okay, sweet Belle. I need to go do something but
I'll be back. Amma has you for now."
Belle wearily smiled at Catherine before nuzzling against her.
"I'm here, sweetie." Catherine settled into the rocking
chair and peered down at her sleepy grandbaby.
Walking away, JenniAnn's eyes filled as she heard Catherine
begin to sing.
“Sleep my pretty one. Rest now my pretty one. Close your
eyes the day is nearly done..."
Upon entering Father's chamber; Andrew, Vincent, and JenniAnn
found Devin sound asleep in a chair pulled near to Jacob's
Trying not the disturb him, JenniAnn approached from the other
side and knelt beside the old man's bed.
"Father... It... it's Psyche. I just wanted to
come see you because... cause Andrew and I need to go away for
a little bit. Catherine... she got a call. From
Ireland, actually. There's a little baby... a baby like
Vincent. So Andrew and I are going to go get him.
And bring him back here. So... so he can have a... a
good life like... like the one you gave to Vincent."
Devin had begun to stir at the sound of JenniAnn's voice but
roused quickly when the import of her words hit him. He
stared in amazement at his brother who nodded.
Andrew knelt beside JenniAnn.
"We'll take good care of him until we bring him back here,
Jacob. Where I know he'll be welcomed with open arms and
open hearts. Because that's the sort of world you built
here in the Tunnels... a world that we're all so grateful to
have... whether we live here or are simply blessed to be able
to visit it."
"And... and I'm so grateful that you encouraged Vincent to
adopt me and... even when that didn't work out... to... to
keep me in his life. Because I... I don't know who I
would be without him. Without this place...
Teaching here... being among you all... it brings me such,
such joy, Father. And it... it helped me to go onto...
to help build my own world... a world of compassion and
creativity and love. Like your world."
JenniAnn rested her head on the mattress and began to
weep. She wept over Father's impending death but also
the knowledge that, with his passing, Vincent would become the
patriarch. He and his generation would be the next to
break her heart. She understood why Belle had had a
Andrew gently stroked JenniAnn's back until she sat back up
and clasped Father's hand.
"I love you, Father. And, selfishly, I hope I can see
you when I come back but... if not... my heart will be
breaking for all of us. For Vincent and Devin
especially... But I will be happy for you. You...
you'll be with Joshua and with Maryam a-nd... with your
wife... your mother... You have so much to look forward
to, Father. B-but... how we... we will miss you..."
Shakily, JenniAnn rose and kissed the old man's forehead.
"Un-until next time, Father," she murmured before hurrying
into Vincent's embrace.
Andrew leaned in close and tenderly squeezed the man's hand.
"Fear not, Jacob. There is so much life waiting for
you... We love you. God loves you even... even
Devin smiled at the angel.
"Thank you, Andrew."
The angel nodded.
"It's the truth."
Devin brushed at some tears and gave a nod.
"You would know," he teased. "And now... explain all
this to me, please? I go to sleep for no more than three
hours and... there's a baby?!?"
While Andrew explained the situation to Devin, JenniAnn and
Vincent stepped into the hallway.
"I... I want to go get the baby. I really do.
B-but... I... I don't want to leave you, Vincent.
This... it's... so... so hard. And for you..."
Vincent smoothed some hair behind her ears and offered a
"I know, Psyche. It is tremendously hard. But...
this is the way of things. Father has spent years
preparing me for this time. It doesn't make it easy...
but it makes it bearable. And... I will know that, when
it's over, there will be a precious, new, little life on the
"But what... what if... if he's sick or... or I can't get him
to eat or..."
Vincent pulled his godchild close.
"I have faith in you, Psyche. I know you and Andrew will
try the very best you can. We have to place the rest of
it in God's hands. That's His baby waiting for you and
He loves him."
"It is so... moving. This happening at the same time as
Father is... is dying."
"I don't believe that God would dangle this hope in front of
us during a time of sorrow only to take it away," Vincent
opined. "The baby will be fine, Psyche. I believe
"Then I... I believe it, too." JenniAnn offered Vincent
a timid smile.
"Thank you for doing this, Psyche."
"I want to. I have to admit... I always thought you had
to have been pretty adorable as a baby. Mary says you
"Mary is quite biased."
"Father said you were 'a handsome baby.'"
"He's biased, too."
"But I think they were probably right. In any case, I'm
sure this baby is adorable."
"I'm sure you'll think so."
"And I'll be right."
"Right about what?" Andrew asked as he joined them in the
"That the baby will be adorable," JenniAnn informed.
"Oh definitely," Andrew concurred.
Smiling at them both, Vincent put to rest what worries he had
about them going.
An hour later; Max, Rose, and baby Landon had come
Below. They were gathered in Shelby's chamber where
Violeta and Belle had already congregated, ready to say good
bye to Andrew and JenniAnn.
"When will you be back?" Violeta questioned.
"Just as soon as the baby seems strong enough to travel,"
"Our baby?" Belle asked, hands clasped hopefully.
"This is Appa's and Amma's baby," JenniAnn clarified.
"But we'll see him all the time."
Belle let out a little sigh but smiled.
"What if... if Father..." Shelby's voice cut off and she
bowed her head.
JenniAnn hugged her.
"Andrew and I said our good byes earlier this morning... just
in case. I'm so, so sorry that we won't be able to be
here for you and for everyone if... if he goes Home while
we're gone but..."
"The baby needs you," Shelby reasoned.
Max squeezed her shoulder.
"Rose and I are here, Shel. You let us know if there's
anything you need. Any time. Night or day."
"Trust me, one or both of us will be up," Rose shared, wearily
smiling down at Landon who was in his grandpa's arms.
"Thank you, Max and Rose." JenniAnn embraced them both
then moved to Andrew's side and gently caressed Landon's
hair. "This is gonna be the longest Gamma and Grampy
will have gone without seeing you, sweet pea."
"We can do video chat," Max promised. "And the time
difference probably won't even matter much. All four of
us will be up at odd hours."
Andrew carefully transferred Landon to JenniAnn and embraced
"Good point. And we'll do that. Thanks for keeping
an eye on your sisters while we're gone. Call if you
"We'll do that... but we'll be fine," Max assured. "And
I'm glad you're both finally getting to Ireland... even if not
quite in the way or for the reason you imagined."
"We likely won't be doing any sight-seeing. But it will
be nice to be there. Catherine said the area around the
cabin is gorgeous." JenniAnn smiled at the idea, her
nerves calming as she swayed with her grandson.
"I stay with Appa and Amma and Shelby?" Belle checked.
"And Aunt Violeta will take you back home every day to visit
the animals. And then we'll be back before you know it."
"With our baby!"
"With the baby, yes," Andrew gently corrected. "Give
Daddy one more hug?"
Belle happily complied. Her sisters and brother soon
After returning Landon to his mother, JenniAnn began another
round of hugs and then took Andrew's hand.
"I guess we should be going so we have time to get through
Andrew nodded and grabbed their bags.
"We'll be back soon. Love you all!" he called as he
headed to the corridor.
"So, so much," JenniAnn added. "And... and we will see
you all very, very soon."
"Love you, Mama and Daddy!"
"Love you guys!"
"We'll miss you!"
"Don't worry about us!"
"Love you lots, Andrew and JenniAnn!"
Once in the corridor, JenniAnn let out a sigh.
"Not used to leaving them behind..." she murmured.
Andrew patted her back.
"It won't be for long at all. The time will fly, I
think. Or we'll both be so tired that it'll all just
"I remember those days... Sweet, little Belle..."
As they neared the portal, Vincent loomed ahead.
Spotting them, he hurried forward to help Andrew with their
"Thank you, again. This means so much. I know
Catherine would have gone but..."
JenniAnn stretched up to kiss his cheek.
"She belongs here with you. And as Max pointed out...
Andrew and I will be getting to Ireland like we always
The angel of death nodded.
"While it's not exactly a vacation, I'll look forward to
JenniAnn seeing all that beautiful green... Her
"Our homeland." JenniAnn squeezed Vincent's hands.
"I'll take lots of pictures in and around your parents'
"Thank you, Psyche." Vincent embraced her tightly.
"I will see you soon. My love to you both."
"And ours to you," JenniAnn murmured. She rested a hand
on Vincent's cheek. "I'll be praying for you, for
Father, for everyone."
"And I for you and Andrew... for the baby."
After Andrew and Vincent exchanged a quick hug, the angel and
woman joined hands and disappeared into the portal.
Andrew was glad that JenniAnn had napped on the plane.
She was awake for the entire drive from Dublin to Ballycork,
oohing and aahing over each new sight. He was tempted to
take a more scenic route but knew they needed to get to the
baby as soon as possible. When Catherine had called
Darian to update him, the man had been near-frantic with news
that the infant was still barely eating. Worse yet, his
wails had died down. His energy was waning.
The closer they got to Ballycork, the more nervous JenniAnn
"What if... if something's happened since Catherine spoke to
"She gave him our phone numbers, Laja. I'm sure he would
"To... to go so long without eating... A whole
day... At least. That's too much for... for one
so... so little."
Andrew reached over to squeeze her knee.
"And soon he'll be with family. I'm sure Darian has been
a good caregiver. But there's a difference between
obligation and love. The baby will know when he's being
"I hope so..."
For the next half hour, JenniAnn was largely silent, praying
for her family back in New York and for the baby.
"If these directions are right, the cabin should be just up
ahead," Andrew announced a little after 6:00 in the evening.
Sure enough, once they were past a copse of trees, a little
cabin came into view.
JenniAnn referenced the photograph on her phone, one Catherine
had taken during her previous visit.
"That's it!" she cried.
Andrew parked the car and had barely shut it off before
JenniAnn was unbuckling her seat belt and opening the
door. Andrew caught up with her at the door of the
JenniAnn knocked politely.
"Who is it?" a male voice called.
"My name is JenniAnn Chandler and I'm here with Andrew
Darcy. My cousin, Catherine Chandler, sent us."
A small panel on the door slid and the man's eyes
appeared. He looked them both over then closed the panel
and unlocked the door.
"Thank God... I was so pleased when your cousin told me
she had family that would be able to reach us soon. He's
over here, poor chap."
JenniAnn anxiously followed Darian to a corner of the cabin
where a wooden cradle sat. The eerie stillness unnerved
"He just fell asleep," Darian informed. "I tried again
to feed him but... no such luck. I had to leave him
earlier. Ran to the store to buy every design of nipple
I could but..." He frowned and shook his head. "I
think it's the way his lip is. Makes it difficult for
'im. I was afraid that, when I returned, I'd find 'im
dead in his cradle. But he's a fighter, this one."
JenniAnn knelt by the cradle and peered down at its precious
"Wow..." Andrew murmured as he stood over them, admiring the
baby. "He... he does look like Vincent."
JenniAnn nodded and lifted the baby to her breasts. He
let out a quiet whining noise but didn't move.
"Hello there," she greeted. "Oh sweet, little
Andrew and Darian watched as JenniAnn moved towards a
couch. She laid the baby down and unswadled him.
"Oh... look at you," she cooed. "Look at those perfect
little toes and little fingers..." JenniAnn caressed
each downy digit. "And your poor little
tummy... We're gonna get that filled up,
sweetheart. Yes, we will."
"Is she... one of them?" Darian asked Andrew quietly.
"One of what?"
"Whatever the baby is."
"The baby is human. He just has a genetic
condition. But, no, JenniAnn isn't part of that
bloodline. The baby's... cousin... great uncle...
whatever he is... is her cousin by marriage and godfather,"
Darian shook his head.
"This is all... I thought my uncle was daft..."
Before the man could offer further explanation for this
statement, JenniAnn called out.
"Andrew, please come here."
The angel moved to her side.
"I... need privacy, please," she requested. "I mean...
you can stay but..." She cocked her head towards
Darian. "I want to see if the baby will latch onto my
breast. Maybe that would be easier than a bottle for
him. Mary was Vincent's wet nurse so..."
Andrew knelt down beside JenniAnn and brought her hand to his
"Laja... Mary had also given birth not long before.
You... you're not lactating," he pointed out gently, sure that
the lack of sleep was making her loopy.
"I know that! Of course, I know that," she
defended. "But... they have those nursing systems for
adoptive mothers. If he'll latch, you could run to
a store and get me one. We... we have to try."
"Of course." Andrew kissed her hair. "I'll be
right back, Laja."
Praying that JenniAnn's idea would pan out, Andrew returned to
"She wants to try breastfeeding him," he related.
Darian's face turned red.
"Oh well... then... I'll just be outside."
"Thank you." Andrew smiled at the man then returned to
"Could you hold him while I get ready?" she requested.
Andrew snuggled the baby close to him, marveling at how light
he was. He was sure Belle had once been this small but
it seemed so long ago...
"Hi there, baby boy. You're just a little peanut!" he
"He is a little peanut," JenniAnn agreed. "We can call
him that til he has a name."
"Little peanut..." Andrew repeated, bending to nuzzle his nose
against the baby's. The action caused the infant's eyes
to flutter open.
Her shirt half unbuttoned, JenniAnn spun around.
JenniAnn peered over Andrew's shoulder and smiled down at the
"Like Joshua's eyes," she recognized. "Brown and
gold. Like Lor's eyes, too, actually. I wonder who
you are, little peanut?"
The baby's head tilted slightly into her touch.
"That's a good sign," Andrew mused.
JenniAnn removed her shirt and bra then held her arms out.
Andrew returned the baby to her and looked on, hopeful but
"I'm afraid I don't have anything to drink... but if you just
try, I promise we'll get some yummy milk into you, peanut."
JenniAnn sat down on the couch and snuggled the infant
close. With a shaking hand, she stroked his cheek.
Suddenly, she giggled.
"That feels so weird! But... he's doing it! He's
trying to suckle!"
"That's great! So... what do I need to get?"
"There are a couple brand names... neither of which I remember
because, well, I didn't actually think I'd need them.
But if you text Portia, she'll be able to tell you everything
you need. And... thank you. I know it's kind of an
awkward thing for a guy to have to buy but..."
Andrew shook his head and kissed JenniAnn's forehead.
"Don't even think about that." He withdrew his phone and
sent a text. "So can you tell me, generally, what this
even looks like?"
"It'll have a bottle and plastic tubing. And we'll need
medical tape. Not sure that'll come with so please get
some. Basically, I'll just tape the tubes onto... I
guess whatever breast he prefers... or maybe both, I can't
remember... anyway, they'll end right at the nipple. And
then... he has to do the rest. Hopefully."
JenniAnn stroked the boy's soft, blonde tufted hair.
"Got it. I'll go ask Darian how to get to the nearest
what? Drug store? Baby store?"
"Either probably. Whatever is closest. I think
he's really... really hungry."
Andrew grimaced, suspecting that JenniAnn was in some amount
"Okay. I'll be back as soon as I can."
JenniAnn tilted her face up for a kiss and then smiled after
Andrew as he fled the cabin.
She returned her attention to the baby.
"I really am sorry there's nothing in there," she
apologized. "If I would have known you were coming... I
would have seen to that. And maybe, eventually, I can
feed you properly. That's possible, you know. I
looked into it with my little girl but..." JenniAnn
shrugged. "She was fine with bottles. And I wanted
her Daddy... that's Andrew who just left... to be able to feed
her. But we're gonna do anything we have to do to get
you well, little mister. Because we're family. And
that's what families do."
Once again, the baby opened his eyes and stared up at
It was nearly 8:00 by the time Andrew returned to the cabin
with Darian. Despite his discomfort, the man had been a
good sport about driving Andrew around in search of a nursing
system. Unfortunately, the small, local drug store
didn't have any. And so a forty five minute drive to a
larger city had become necessary. But there, with help
from Portia via the phone, Andrew had selected a nursing
system, tape, formula, various necessities, and assorted items
meant to lessen the discomfort for JenniAnn. He'd
ignored the questioning looks from clerks and giggling from
the check-out girl. He knew he looked strange... a lone
man stocking up on nursing supplies... but none of that
mattered to Andrew. It was all worth it when he saw the
relieved look on JenniAnn's face when he walked through the
"Thank God!" she exclaimed. "I was beginning to worry
that you had to go really far away to find one."
"About forty five minutes is all. Less on the way
back... Darian's a bit of a speed demon." Andrew
grinned and began to unload the bags.
"Where is Darian? Did I scare him off?"
Andrew shook his head.
"No. He's just exhausted and decided to turn in. I
think he lives in the other cabin. Vincent's
grandparents', I'm assuming."
"I feel bad that I barely acknowledged him. I
just..." JenniAnn sighed as she admired the baby.
"I saw him and..."
"I'm sure he understands, Laja. Now..." He removed
the nursing system from the packaging. "I should
probably wash the bottle and tubing first, huh?"
"Yes, please. I hope there's running water."
"You haven't tried?"
"I didn't want to put him down."
Andrew tried the faucet.
"And it works!"
Andrew grabbed the dish soap he'd bought and soon had the
system washed and dried.
"You ready?" he checked.
"Now, Portia says you're going to have to let me help
you. Especially when you're tired. So you just
tell me what you want me to do."
"This time around, maybe just hold him while I get everything
Andrew happily took the baby from her. Maybe it was his
imagination but he already looked healthier, a bit more
After some trial and error, JenniAnn felt she had the tubes
correctly placed and the formula properly mixed.
"Okay, I'm ready."
"Okay..." Andrew returned the baby to her.
"Pray he figures it out," she pleaded.
Neither Andrew nor JenniAnn spoke or even breathed until the
"He's doing it... he's nursing. Look at his little
Andrew sat beside JenniAnn and smiled. Within a few
minutes, it was even more obvious that the baby was taking in
milk. The amount in the bottle had noticeably lessened.
"Can you call Catherine?" JenniAnn requested. "Tell
everyone he's drinking?"
Andrew stepped into what he assumed was Lor's and Cora's
bedroom in case the connection was bad and he'd have to raise
his voice. He dialed and it had barely rung when
Catherine picked up.
"How is he?" she asked breathlessly.
"He's drinking!" Andrew relayed, the joy obvious in his voice.
"Thank God!" Vincent called.
"How'd you get him to eat?" Catherine questioned.
Andrew was stumped for a moment. He'd figured Portia
would have told them. Then again... she was a doctor who
"Well... JenniAnn's nursing him."
"With a nursing system," Andrew explained. "She realized
that because of how his mouth is shaped, he was struggling
with bottles so..."
"Please thank her for me," a clearly emotional Vincent
"Of course. She's happy to do it. We're both so
relieved. When we came... he was pretty lifeless.
Catatonic, I suppose is the better word. But even before
he ate, just from spending a couple hours being held by
JenniAnn, he seemed to have rallied."
"That's so wonderful. Oh, I'm so thankful!" Catherine
Andrew poked his head into the other room and saw JenniAnn
smiling serenely at the baby.
"How's Jacob?" he asked upon returning to the bedroom.
"No change," Catherine reported.
"And the kids?"
"Max and Rose went back home. Violeta took Belle to
Willowveil for a couple hours before dinner. They're
back now, having a sleepover in Shel's chamber. Belle
keeps asking when the baby is coming."
"I had a feeling that would be an issue."
"Hold on, Laja's calling."
Andrew returned to the main room.
"What is it?"
"Could you make another bottle? He's about out.
Poor thing is making up for lost time."
Andrew smiled and nodded.
"Is that still Catherine and Vincent?" JenniAnn asked.
"Yeah. Do you want to say hi?"
When JenniAnn nodded, he set the phone beside her.
"Hi!" she greeted. "Oh... he's so precious!"
"We can't wait to see him, Psyche," Vincent replied.
"Thank you... for all you're doing."
"Did you tell them?" JenniAnn whispered to Andrew.
"They asked how you were feeding him so..."
JenniAnn shrugged. She didn't want Catherine and Vincent
to feel more indebted but they'd find out eventually.
"It's no problem at all. It's... kinda awesome
really. Anyway, we can send you a photo a bit later if
you think that's safe?"
"Let's at least wait until you're in the FS van, okay?"
Catherine suggested. "As much as I want to see him... I
don't want to risk an unsecure connection."
"True... But we can turn off the internet and cloud
connection on one of our phones and take photos to show
later," JenniAnn suggested.
"That's a great idea," Andrew agreed as he prepped a second
"Oh... hold on, little peanut. Andrew's getting you
more," JenniAnn assured when the baby began to fuss. "I
know... You're just so hungry, aren't you? You
just wanna be a big, strong boy, huh?"
"What color are his eyes, Psyche?" Catherine asked once her
cousin had the baby happily situated again.
"Brown and gold. They remind me of Joshua's and
Lor's. They're so beautiful."
"Have you been able to find out anything about how he came to
be?" Vincent inquired.
"Not yet. Darian offered to tell me during our car
ride," Andrew relayed. "But I said we could wait until
tomorrow when JenniAnn could be with us. Plus... I think
his nerves are a bit frayed. I did learn he's unmarried,
childless... so having to spend time as the sole caregiver to
a baby? That's a lot to take on. He said a few
times how relieved he is that we're here. He also
apologized to you, Catherine. He was at such a breaking
point when he called that it wasn't until later that it
occurred to him it was the middle of the night for you."
"Oh... I hope you told him not to feel bad about that."
"Definitely. I assured him that the whole family was
glad to have known as soon as possible."
"I'm just so glad I connected with him while I was
there. I don't want to think about what would have
happened if..." Catherine's voice trailed off.
"He's safe now," JenniAnn murmured before returning her
attention to her tiny charge. "Aren't you, baby
boy? So safe!"
Andrew smiled to himself. It was obvious who JenniAnn's
ideal conversation partner was for the moment.
The same thought came to Vincent and Catherine.
"We won't keep you any longer. I know it's getting late
there. But call, of course, if anything changes,"
"And... you do the same?" JenniAnn requested.
"We will, Psyche. I promise. I hope you get some
sleep tonight. All three of you," Catherine wished.
"We'll try!" Andrew promised. "Take care! Give our
love to everyone!"
"Love you!" JenniAnn added.
"We love you, too," Vincent responded. "Good night,
Psyche, Andrew, and... little peanut?"
JenniAnn and Andrew smiled at the sound of Vincent chuckling
before he ended the call.
"They both sounded good, I thought," Andrew observed.
"Tired but yes. And... I think our peanut is getting
tired, too. He's slowing down."
"You got a lot into him, though. That's great,
Laja." Andrew kissed her hair. "You're amazing."
"Anyone would have done it." JenniAnn stroked the boy's
cheek. "He is so sweet..."
"He is," Andrew murmured in agreement.
"Sing to us?" JenniAnn requested.
"Sure." Andrew cleared his throat and began.
"'Tender shepherd, tender shepherd, let me help you count your
August 19th, 2018
Andrew was confused when he first woke up. Then he
remembered he was in Lor's and Cora's bedroom in
Ireland. And that noise... that was the baby
"Okay... coming..." JenniAnn whispered as she began to wake
Andrew checked his pocket watch.
The baby appeared to be on a two hour feeding schedule.
JenniAnn had gotten up with him at around 11:00 and then again
shortly after 1:00.
"Laja, you just stay put this time. I'll get everything
"But the tubes..." JenniAnn murmured in between yawns.
"I'll get them."
Andrew rose and picked the baby up from his cradle.
JenniAnn smiled sleepily as he handed him to her.
The angel shuffled into the main room and gathered the tubing
and tape and prepared the bottle. In a few minutes, he
returned with them and found JenniAnn with her eyes closed as
she snuggled the child.
"Okay, here we go."
He looped the bottle around her neck.
"Do you want me to, umm, do the tubes?"
"You don't have to. I know it's weird. Here,
I'll..." JenniAnn yawned again.
"I'm fine as long as you're fine."
As JenniAnn relaxed, Andrew carefully taped the tubes in
"I'm glad you've seen them before," JenniAnn mused.
"This would be a weird debut."
"I wonder if they're gonna get bigger now... Ya know...
if milk comes in. I hate buying bras..."
Andrew continued to laugh.
"Laja, I think you've gone loopy."
"I'm sleepy... but he's so cute."
"Almost done. You try to rest. I'll keep watch."
As JenniAnn dozed and nursed, Andrew kept a close eye on her
and the baby. He was pleased to see the little guy was
eating quite enthusiastically.
The bottle was nearly drained when an offensive smell filled
"Well, then!" Andrew exclaimed.
"Mmm?" JenniAnn wrinkled her nose. "Oh..."
"I'll take care of it," Andrew volunteered.
The baby fussed as Andrew picked him up.
"I know... I know. Just let me get you cleaned up before
we all pass out." Andrew kissed the baby's forehead then
hurried with him into main room where the couch would serve as
a makeshift changing table.
The angel grimaced as he pulled the diaper away.
"First one?" he guessed. "Well... it's a winner!"
The baby bellowed when the cold wipes made contact with his
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I didn't think to get a
warmer. Things will be better when we get home, I
promise. We just have to wing it for a few days."
Soon Andrew had him all cleaned up and settled back
down. When he returned to the bedroom, JenniAnn was fast
asleep. Since the baby wasn't fussing, Andrew settled
back into bed and continued to hold him.
"That's better, huh? Can we see if we can give Ma...
Psyche a little break?" Andrew's cheeks flushed when he
realized what he'd almost said. "Your cousin sure loves
you," he covered.
The baby responded with an adorable squeak.
"You're a pretty lovable little guy, you know that?" He
kissed the baby's hair. "I wonder where you came from,
little peanut? Maybe we can start to figure it out
tomorrow. One thing I do know... God made you exactly as
you are. He made this cute, little nose. And those
beautiful eyes. And these fuzzy-wuzzy little
fingers... And God loves you... every little bit of
you. So much."
The baby opened his eyes and seemed to peer directly into
Andrew's. It stole the angel's breath away for a
moment. He thought, briefly, of his tree back in
Willowveil... Of the night, a year earlier, when he'd
broken his own bird off the nest... The night he and
JenniAnn had found the baby bird tucked beneath it.
Andrew shook his head.
No... This baby wasn't his and Laja's. This was
Vincent's baby. They'd only come as a favor.
But Andrew wished the child in his arms was his to keep.
Andrew and JenniAnn were enjoying a quick breakfast when there
was a knock on the cabin door.
"It's me. Darian."
Andrew rose and flung the door open.
"G'morning, Darian! How are you this morning?"
The man sighed with contentment.
"Wonderful. It felt good to get some sleep. And
how's the wee one?"
JenniAnn gestured to the cradle that was at her feet.
"Sleeping peacefully. He's eaten what... six times now,
"Could be seven. I lost count. Come see."
Darian followed Andrew to the cradle and beamed.
"Look at him! He's finally got some color in him.
What a difference a day has made! And you, of
course." He glanced up at JenniAnn. "I'm glad you
were able to, ah, feed him."
JenniAnn returned his smile.
"Thanks. Me too. Coffee? Doughnut?"
"I'd love some coffee, please."
"Coming right up." Andrew poured some into a mug.
"Creamer or sugar? I hope it was okay that we helped
ourselves to what we could find."
"Just black. And of course it is. I try to keep
the cabin stocked with some necessities. I rent it out
on that site. What do you call it..."
"Airbnb?" JenniAnn guessed.
"That's the one! Thank God I didn't have a visitor in
here this week."
"About that..." Andrew waved for Darian to take a seat
at the table and placed the mug in front of him. "If you
don't mind my asking... how did you come to be here? And
how did you get a hold of the baby?"
Darian took a sip of his coffee before beginning.
"How much do you know of the people who lived here
before? Your godfather's people, I suppose it would be,"
he said to JenniAnn.
"Well... I know my godfather's... Vincent's... parents
were named Lor and Cora. I actually met Cora in the
weeks before she passed. They lived here. And
Lor's adoptive parents, Siobhan and Declan Cleary, lived in
the other cabin. I believe the one you live in?"
"And I know they had a friend, Dr. McCarn, who saw to Lor's
health. He's your..."
"Great uncle," Darian replied. "On my Ma's side."
"Cool. That's about all we know," JenniAnn finished.
"Well... My uncle Galvin and Declan Cleary were boyhood
friends. Both self-made men, you might say. Came
from nothing. Siobhan, on the other hand, was born into
a wealthy family. It was quite the scandal when she
eloped with Declan. But he was a good man, already a
beloved preacher when they met. I think the public
pressure eventually got to Siobhan's parents and they forgave
the couple. A good thing, too. Her parents died
not long after their reunion and left everything to
Siobhan. And that was also a good thing. It wasn't
many months later that they found Lor on their doorstep.
They used that inheritance to buy this land and my cabin... a
private place where their boy could grow up in safety.
This cabin came later. This is all coming from my
uncle. I wasn't there, of course."
Andrew and JenniAnn nodded.
"So Lor grew up, met Cora, married... I trust you know all
"We do, yes," Andrew confirmed.
"But here's something you probably don't know...
Something Cora may not have even known. But, then again,
it was only conjecture on my uncle's part."
"What's that?" JenniAnn prodded, leaning closer.
"It's about when Lor was killed. What do you know about
"We know that Lor and Cora were out riding... that they saw a
man beating a little boy and his mother. Lor tried to
defend them... and the man shot him," JenniAnn recounted.
"Aye. But that wasn't just any woman and her boy... at
least my uncle didn't think it was. But first I have to
explain Fr. McMultry."
"Fr. McMultry?" Andrew asked, eyebrow raised. Cora had
never mentioned him.
"A parish priest from around here. Woulda been active
when I was a boy. Good man... a little too fond of his
drink, though. A woman in the village had just
died. Her name was Maureen Blake. She'd been very
active with the church. Quite a loss, really. A
bunch of the men gathered at the pub after her funeral...
including Fr. McMultry. All of em got plastered.
Father started blathering on about his last confession with
Maureen. Said she'd wept for her baby. And she had
a son. He was there at the pub. But that's not who
she meant. Father says Maureen told him the baby wasn't
right. Looked like he was one of the fay.
Furry-like. Like a cat, even. She'd left him on
the doorstep of a church. Of course, everyone's telling
Father that it's the drink talking, he doesn't know what he's
on about. But Maureen's son, Aengus, goes real
quiet. Let's Father finish his story. Then he
tells em all that he saw a man once... a man like a
lion. He'd saved him and Maureen from his abusive
father. But then... the father shot the man. And
Aengus remembered his mother weeping and wailing something
fierce. My uncle thought Lor was that boy... Maureen's
"But... but then... so... so Lor died... unwittingly
protecting his mother and her son?" an aghast JenniAnn
"That was what my uncle believed when he heard all this.
But there's more to it... Maureen wasn't married when
Aengus was born. So there was always suspicion that his
father wasn't really his father. And here's the thing
about Aengus... he was completely normal looking. A hulk
of a man. But normal-looking. Incredibly strong,
though... So rumor started that whatever Maureen's lost
baby was... Aengus was that, too. Even if it didn't
JenniAnn peered down at the sleeping baby before returning her
attention to Darian.
"Does this Aengus still have family in the area?"
"Yes. He and his wife had a son, William. William,
in turn, has three children. The oldest, Neil, is around
twenty. Then there's Lauren, fourteen or so, and Emilene
who is ten, give or take a year. I'm not close with the
family so I'm not positive on the ages," Darian
explained. "My guess would be that little one is Neil's
son or... whomever fathered Lor and, potentially Aengus, had
other children.... It's that latter possibility that
brought me here."
"How so?" Andrew inquired.
"You have to understand that my uncle was devastated when Lor
died. And when word reached him and the Clearys that
Cora had lost their child... It was terribly difficult
for them all. So when the rumors began after Maureen
died... Uncle Galvin latched onto them. He had to
believe some piece of Lor was still out there... and that he
might need a safe space. I think part of it was that
Galvin and his wife could never have children. Lor was
the closest he had to a son. He loved all us nieces and
nephews, of course. And I was his favorite."
Darian smiled proudly. "But he loved that boy. To
be honest, I thought the whole thing was crazy until Thursday
when I found that little fellow on the doorstep of this very
cabin." Darian waved to the sleeping baby.
"This is all... it's amazing," Andrew opined. "But I
don't understand... how did the baby come to be here?
Nothing in the rumors is linked to here."
"Not directly," Darian agreed. "But this is a small town
with lots of gossip. And there was gossip aplenty when
Siobhan and Declan disappeared into the night. It wasn't
long after Fr. McMultry's and Aengus' drunken admissions that
someone realized that the Clearys had disappeared right around
the same time that Maureen said she'd left her son on a church
doorstop. By then, the Clearys were dead so no one could
ask them. So in the absence of either confirmation or
denial... the two rumors were permanently linked
together. The Clearys had taken to the wilderness to
raise Maureen's misshapen child. The rare case when an
urban legend proves to be true, I suppose."
"But how did people know the Clearys lived here since they
kept to themselves?" JenniAnn questioned. "Or... wait...
I guess I remember Cora saying Declan and Siobhan sometimes
went into the village. She went with them even."
"Yes, exactly," Darian confirmed. "They'd get supplies
and sell Lor's carvings. After he died, they came into
the city even more often. They reconnected with some old
friends, even inviting them to stay here on occasion. It
is very peaceful and beautiful."
"It is..." JenniAnn agreed. "And I'm glad to know... and
my godfather will be glad to know... that his grandparents
found happiness again. And I take it they left the
property to your uncle when they died?"
"And him to me in time. Before he died, he told me
about his time with the Clearys, about how it all related to
the village lore... and he asked me to keep an eye out.
I was always a solitary sort so the 'mission' suited me
well. I only started renting this cabin out because I
needed the money for upkeep. I feel badly,
though... I was having a lie-in on Thursday and didn't
get up and around until suppertime. That's when I heard
the boy crying. I pray he wasn't out here for long...
JenniAnn reached down to stroke the baby's hair.
"You couldn't have known. Especially if you didn't
believe all the rumors."
"I didn't... not until I found him." Darian smiled at
the child. "It really is like night and day. I
couldn't make him content no matter what I did."
"You tried your best," Andrew comforted. "No one's in a
good mood when they're starving."
"And I certainly couldn't do what you can, miss." Darian
smiled shyly at JenniAnn.
"I know you did everything you could, Darian. And it's
just JenniAnn, please."
The baby let out a squawk.
"Speaking of... I think he's ready to eat again.
If you gentlemen will excuse me..." JenniAnn smiled and
lifted the baby into her arms.
"I'll start mixing a bottle, Laja."
"Thank you!" JenniAnn called before closing the bedroom door
As Andrew prepped the bottle, he continued to chat with
"So where do you think the baby came from?" he queried.
Darian sighed and bit his lip in thought.
"I feel like if a lion-man was roaming around, there would be
reports. But if, say, one existed... or a lion-woman,
for that matter... and they had a mate... why abandon their
child? And if, God forbid, the conception happened
during a rape... well, abortion is legal here now.
Though, I suppose, still hard to come by. But I think
that's all beside the point. I think Aengus was Lor's
brother. And since you say it's a genetic condition...
that family's likely been carrying it the whole time.
So... Neil no doubt got himself a girlfriend... they weren't
careful... and along comes your... what did you call him?"
"Little peanut," Andrew filled in with a fond smile.
"Yes. Along comes the little peanut. Young
parents... don't know what to do... so they follow the legend
and leave their baby here."
Andrew finished preparing the bottle.
"That makes sense... Sad, though." The angel
frowned. "But if you'll excuse me for just a
moment... Let me get this into JenniAnn and the baby and
I'll be back."
When Andrew returned, he and Darian picked up their
"If you're right... I feel sorry for the girl."
Andrew frowned. "Assuming she's the same age as this
Neil, she'd be a teenager, maybe a bit older."
"And a pregnant, unwed teenager has reason enough to be
frightened without giving birth to, well... He's cute as
a button but..."
"I know what you mean." Andrew sighed and dragged his
hand through his hair.
"JenniAnn's godfather... Catherine's husband...
Lor's son... how does he manage?" Darian asked.
"Vincent?" Andrew smiled. "He manages very well.
Although he's having a hard time just now. The man who
adopted him is dying."
"Catherine mentioned that. And I was very sorry to hear
it though it made me curious. How did Vincent come to be
"Well..." Andrew sat back down at the table. "When
Cora left baby Vincent outside the hospital, planning to come
right back for him, he was found by a friend of
Jacob's... Jacob being Vincent's father. Jacob had
started a community of generous, dedicated, idealistic
people... all living in the tunnels beneath Manhattan."
"Well, I'll be..." Darian shook his head in wonder.
"Vincent was raised there... well-loved and valued for who he
is. When Jacob passes, Vincent will become the patriarch
of the Tunnels."
"And you're bringing the baby to him and Catherine?" Darian
For a moment, Andrew's face clouded but, when he met Darian's
gaze, he smiled and nodded.
"We are, yes."
"But he... I mean... he and Catherine must be older than
I am and I have to admit... that little one wiped me out,"
"They'll have lots of help," Andrew assured. "And they
have another son. He's almost eleven. I know he'll
be a big help."
"Hmm... Well, that's good. And Vincent... he's
"Very healthy. He has an amazing immune system.
Here's hoping that's part of the condition and the baby has
"From your lips to God's ears," Darian toasted before taking
another sip of his coffee.
"Amen!" Andrew replied with a smile.
August 21st, 2018
As Andrew put away the dinner dishes, he kept an eye on
JenniAnn. She was sitting in the corner of the room,
rocking the baby and humming quietly. They were the
picture of contentment.
At three different times, Andrew had watched JenniAnn fall in
love. The first time had been with him... He'd
denied it, at first. It was only a crush. But a
point had come when he could no longer deny her feelings for
him... or his for her. Belle had been next. That
love had been undeniable, unshakeable from its
beginning. And so it remained. Finally, there was
Joshua. Andrew had looked on as JenniAnn had grappled
with her infatuation with him. He'd had to remain
silent... hadn't been able to tell her who Joshua was.
But JenniAnn had found the truth out for herself and her love
and adoration for her Savior had grown, strengthening all the
love she felt.
Andrew knew she was in love again. But, this time, the
object of her affections wasn't hers to keep. Tears
stung his eyes as he thought of it.
And she wasn't alone... In four days' time, the infant
had captured his heart. Just the night before, JenniAnn
had awoken to find herself staring at Andrew's feet.
He'd been so eager to simply gaze upon the baby that he'd
flipped around. Andrew didn't know how long he'd simply
stared at the sleeping baby... nor for how long JenniAnn had
joined him in it.
It would only get worse the longer they waited...
Andrew pulled a chair next to hers.
"I was thinking that tomorrow maybe one of us could run into
town. Kemara's birthday is Friday and I think she'd
appreciate something from Ireland. And then Raquel's and
Nico's anniversary is Sunday. Maybe we could get
something for them."
"Good idea!" JenniAnn encouraged.
"And... maybe we could call Josef... ask if we could leave on
JenniAnn stopped rocking.
"But it's still so soon," she protested.
"But he's doing so well, Laja. You know, if he'd been
born in a hospital, he probably would have been released by
JenniAnn's hold on the baby remained gentle but strengthened.
She had no further protest to make.
Andrew rested his forehead against hers.
"Sweet Laja... It... it's not going to get any
easier. Only... only harder."
JenniAnn let out a sob.
"I... I know. But I... I want him."
"I know." Andrew caressed her cheek. "And I... I
do, too. And we can see him every day but..."
"It... it won't be the same," JenniAnn murmured.
"I... I just really want-wanted a-another baby..."
Tears streamed down Andrew's cheeks, matching JenniAnn's.
"I know... my Laja. I... I did, too. And maybe...
maybe one's still out there for us but..."
Andrew let out a ragged sigh when the baby wrapped his tiny
fingers around one of the angel's.
"But this baby belongs to... to Vincent and Catherine," he
JenniAnn nodded as she continued to cry.
"I... I'm so sorry, Laja."
"I... I'm sorry for you, too, my love."
"The... the good thing is... he... he'll be so, so loved."
"Uh huh... Andrew?"
"Can we move to the bed a-and can you just... hold us for a
Andrew managed a smile and nodded.
"Of course, Laja."
He helped JenniAnn to her feet and then the three moved to the
bedroom. JenniAnn laid down first then Andrew spooned
around her, peering over her head at the tiny bundle they
wished could be their son.
Thursday, August 23rd, 2018
Andrew, JenniAnn, and Darian sat at the table in Cora's and
Lor's cabin. The baby was swaddled and ready to go as he
slept in the carrier Andrew had purchased the previous day
during his visit into town.
"Please keep me in the loop," Darian requested. "I'd
love to hear how the little fellow gets on. I suppose
photos might be risky. But letters, emails, calls..."
"Of course!" Andrew vowed. "And maybe we can figure out
a way to get you pictures. And if you're ever in New
"Or Omaha, Nebraska or L.A.," JenniAnn chimed in.
"Let us know," Andrew finished. "We'd love to see you
"Likewise. And I hope you'll let me know if you're ever
back in Ireland."
"We'll do that. I hope to bring JenniAnn back sometime
for a proper vacation." Andrew smiled at JenniAnn who,
upon noticing, gave him a forced smile.
"I hope you do! And I'll be sure to let you know if I
hear anything else that might be relevant to Vincent or the
"We'd appreciate that." JenniAnn's smile brightened as
she reached across the table for the man's hand. "We
appreciate all that you've done. More than we can ever
"We truly have no words. But we did want to give you a
token of our gratitude."
The angel reached under the table to produce a gift bag.
Darian's face flushed.
"Well, no... You shouldn't have... It was an
honor, truly. I don't need..." He removed the gift
from the bag and laughed with delight.
"I saw you admiring mine so JenniAnn and I thought you might
like to have one for yourself."
Darian beamed as he held a silver pocket watch with a Celtic
cross engraved on the front.
"I love it! Truly! Ah, and there's an
Darian's eyes misted as he read the words.
"'To save a life is to save the world.'"
"It's adapted from the Talmud," JenniAnn explained as she
lifted the baby out of his carrier. "We couldn't think
of anything more perfect. Because you did save this
little life, Darian."
"Thank you... so very much. Do you think... could I hold
him once more?" the man requested.
"Of course you can!" JenniAnn passed the baby to Darian
"Let's get a photo," Andrew suggested. "A
keepsake. His face is pretty well obscured."
"Okay. I'd like that!"
Andrew withdrew his phone and took one photo of Darian smiling
at the child and another of him smiling at the camera.
"I sent them off to you."
"I just felt my phone vibrate. Thank you."
A horn honked from outside the cabin.
JenniAnn hurried to the window.
"It's them. I see the van with the FS logo."
Darian rose and brought the baby to JenniAnn.
"Have a good life, little one. Fill it with love.
I'm sure you will. God be with you."
JenniAnn's eyes filled as Darian kissed the baby's forehead.
"Thank you again... for everything."
"It was my pleasure, JenniAnn. Safe travels. Let
me know when you three are safely home, please."
"We'll do that." Andrew moved their suitcases to the
door then hugged Darian. "Thank you. So
much. We'll never forget you... and we will keep in
"I appreciate that. God bless you both. And your
"God bless you, too!" JenniAnn replied, squeezing the man's
There was a rap at the door.
"It's Quinlan Rosier," a man's voice shouted. "I'm here
with Freedom's Sanctuary... sent by Mr. Kostan."
Andrew opened the door and smiled at the newcomer.
"Hi. My name's Andrew. This is JenniAnn, Darian,
and, of course, the baby. We appreciate you coming to
"My pleasure. Always nice to do something a bit out of
the ordinary." Quinlan waved at JenniAnn and
Darian. "All four of you coming?"
Darian shook his head.
"I'm staying here. I hope you don't run into any trouble
on the road."
"We shouldn't," Quinlan assured. "Are you ready?"
JenniAnn nodded and followed Quinlan to the van. Andrew
and Darian trailed them with the suitcases.
"Let me help you, Miss," Quinlan offered JenniAnn his arm upon
opening the back of the van.
As he helped her into the van, Quinlan caught sight of the
"Extraordinary, little chap." The man grinned.
JenniAnn returned his smile.
"Thank you. I think so, too."
Andrew slid their suitcases into place then climbed into the
van himself before taking the baby from JenniAnn and strapping
him into the seat.
"Are we ready then?" Quinlan checked when all three of his
passengers were buckled it.
"Yep, think so," Andrew replied as JenniAnn nodded.
"All right then..."
Andrew and JenniAnn gave a final wave to Darian before Quinlan
closed the doors.
JenniAnn let out a sigh and sunk against her seat.
"Almost home..." she murmured sadly.
Andrew knew what she was thinking.
Almost time to hand the baby over...
Vincent's tossed and turned, trying to get comfortable.
His mind was racing...
Father was still clinging to life... but barely. He'd
stopped eating within the last few days. And he hadn't
drunk anything the day before...
His father's impending death had sent Vincent on several
journeys back through his memories, some desired, some
Father had given him the best life he could. Vincent was
sure of that.
But what if he'd had other options?
What was it like for Lor to grow up in Ireland?
Wandering the woods? Kissed daily by the sun?
Vincent sat up and stared at the crib that had been moved into
his and Catherine's chamber. It had been his
crib... Psyche's... Jacob's... Belle's...
Vincent thought of his granddaughter. She was so very
excited to welcome the baby home! Despite attempts to
correct her, she seemed convinced that the baby was hers.
Vincent smiled as he thought of the times he'd visited Belle
at Willowveil. He thought of her romping around the
yard, playing in the stable with Yonah, Mary, Silly, and all
the furry friends who had followed. There she was in her
snowsuit... making snow angels and building snow people.
A child deserved such freedom...
A child deserved the sun, the moon, the stars, the grass, the
Vincent swallowed the lump in his throat and turned towards
Catherine. He gave her shoulder a gentle shake.
"Vincent... hmm..." Catherine's eyes shot open.
Vincent shook his head.
"No. No... there's no change when last I checked on him
but... Catherine, I have to talk to you."
Andrew, JenniAnn, and the baby stepped through the portal at a
little after 9:00, New York time.
The couple were silent as they made their way to the main
hub. The baby made soft noises, alerting JenniAnn's to
his growing hunger. She could feel him nuzzling against
"We're almost there, little peanut. I... I'll feed you
soon. But first... we... we... need to introduce you to
your Papa and Mama."
Andrew winced when he heard JenniAnn's voice seize. He
circled an arm around her waist, supporting her the rest of
Owen was the first to greet them.
"Psyche! Andrew! I'm so glad you're back!
Let me see... Oh my God." A smile stretched across
the man's face as he took in the baby. "He's adorable!"
JenniAnn returned her friend's smile and nodded.
"And so, so sweet." She sighed. "How is... is
The smile faded from Owen's face.
"It has to be a matter of hours. He's not taking in any
"Is everyone in his chamber?" Andrew checked.
Owen shook his head.
"They were. But Catherine and Vincent went to their
chamber when they heard you were here. They'd like to
meet with you there. I said I'd come along to greet you
but I think I'm going to go back to Father's chamber now."
"Okay. I'm sure we'll see you there soon, O."
"See you soon, Psyche, Andrew."
"See you soon, Owen," Andrew called, waving as he followed
JenniAnn to her cousins' chamber.
In only a few moments, they were standing outside the chamber
door. JenniAnn's resolve began to leave her. She
whimpered and snuggled the little one.
"I... I know..."
JenniAnn closed her eyes and kissed the baby's hair. Her
eyes were still closed when Vincent opened the chamber door.
"Psyche... Andrew... I'm so glad..."
JenniAnn thrust the baby out towards Vincent.
The man was so taken by the wriggling bundle that he didn't at
first notice his godchild's strange demeanor.
Vincent smiled as he admired the sweet, little creature in his
arms. Catherine approached and peered around his
"Oh... So sweet..." she cooed.
JenniAnn turned into Andrew's chest, trying to stifle a sob.
Alarmed, Vincent looked up and saw Andrew with his arms around
a shaking JenniAnn, softly swaying with her.
"Psyche..." Vincent handed the baby off to Catherine and
approached the couple. "Psyche..." he repeated, resting
a hand on her back. "Oh, my sweet Psyche... No,
"I... I'm fine. Jus-just tired..." her muffled voice
Vincent cursed himself for not realizing sooner what had
happened. But his mind had been so scattered...
"Psyche... Andrew... Catherine and I have talked
and... we are going to love that little boy with all ours
"But we're going to love him as our grandson."
Andrew gaped at the woman who gave him a tearful nod.
JenniAnn turned around to face her godfather who pulled her to
"I'm sixty three years old, Psyche. I can't be the
active, energetic father that I would like to be. And
more than that..." Vincent rested a hand on the baby's
head. "I want this little one to grow up in the
sunlight. I want him to feel a warm breeze play at the
hairs on the back of his neck. I want him to be able to
run around his yard... climb trees... jump in puddles.
To see sunlight glistening off pristine snow... And I
know you and Andrew would let him visit... just as you let all
the children visit. But I want him to know it's his sun,
his breeze, his yard... And I know that... that he will
have parents who will love him with every breath in their
bodies. Just as... as I was loved growing up."
"He... he's ours?" JenniAnn checked, peering up at her
Vincent cupped her chin.
"My darling Psyche... he's been yours this whole time.
I'm sorry I didn't see it before. I'm sorry I didn't
save you and Andrew the pain..."
"We didn't see it," Catherine corrected. "We were both
just so emotionally and physically exhausted. We didn't
question that we would take him in." Catherine paused to
nuzzle the baby's hair. "But Vincent's right. He
deserves to have all those things. He will always,
always have a home, a sanctuary here. Just as you
do. But this isn't his home. And,
frankly..." She sighed. "This week has proven that
Vincent and I don't have weeks of sleepless nights in
us. We're too old to be parents... but just the right
age to be grandparents again."
Catherine held the baby back out to JenniAnn who beamed as she
took him back.
"Thank you... Thank you both so much. I..."
JenniAnn peered up at Andrew. "We... we love him so much
"He's your baby bird."
"He is!" Andrew exclaimed. Laughing, he hugged both
Vincent and Catherine tightly. "Thank you... from the
bottom of my heart... I... thank you."
"You're very welcome. Although I don't think he was
really ever ours to give," Vincent opined. He cocked his
head as he looked at JenniAnn and the baby then
chuckled. "I think he's quite clear on who his mother
"He's, umm, trying to suckle through my shirt."
"Let's get you sat down and him fed," Catherine encouraged,
taking JenniAnn by the arm.
"And then... do you think I could introduce him to... to
Vincent stroked JenniAnn's back and nodded.
"I think Father would like that very much."
"Andrew, you sit, too," Catherine directed. "I can get
the bottle ready."
Sensing this was non-negotiable, Andrew sat down beside
"I'm going to go check in on Father," Vincent excused
himself. "And let everyone know you're both safely
back. With your son," he added with a smile.
"Our son..." Andrew echoed as he took the baby from JenniAnn.
"Our beautiful boy," she added. "You know... we have to
name him now."
"Hmm... Do you have anything in mind?"
"Actually... yes." JenniAnn peered into the angel's
eyes. "I'd like to name him Andrew Vincent and call him
Andrew's face flushed with pride.
"Avi... I like that. Andrew Vincent
"I think it sounds nice. Kinda regal. But Avi
suits him better. At least for now."
"Avi..." Andrew cooed at the baby.
JenniAnn smiled when Avi gave a little squeak, hopefully of
approval. She finished getting herself ready to nurse
and, after Catherine had given her the bottle, she took Avi
from his father.
"Time to eat, sweet Avi," JenniAnn encouraged as she cuddled
him against her skin.
"Avi?" she checked.
"Andrew Vincent, formally."
Catherine's eyes filled.
"Vincent will be so pleased and honored. He is so
JenniAnn met her cousin's eyes.
"You... you're sure you're okay with this?"
"Oh yes." Catherine nodded. "I have to admit... it
was something of a relief when Vincent asked me what I thought
about you and Andrew adopting him. We would have done
what we had to... with love, of course. But it was hard
enough, at points, when Jacob was a baby. And that was
eleven years ago. The way I hear it, Vincent was an
energetic, athletic little fellow. If little Avi here
takes after him at all... he deserves parents who can keep up
with him. And besides... everything Vincent said about
the sun... the moon. You know, he actually remembers the
first time he saw the moon. That... it isn't
right. Avi deserves to grow up with sunshine, moonshine,
fields and forests. They shouldn't be an event.
They should just be... well, life."
"We'll make sure they are," Andrew vowed.
"Good. And I'll make sure Amma spoils him rotten,"
Catherine teased as she tweaked Avi's little, bouncing feet.
For as many people as it held, Father's chamber was eerily
JenniAnn's eyes welled as soon as she crossed the threshold
with Andrew behind her, his hand rested protectively on the
small of her back.
Tear-stained faces turned and smiled as JenniAnn approached
with baby Avi. People parted so she could move to the
old man's side.
"Father... It's Psyche. I'm back. And I
brought someone for you to meet."
Carefully, with help from Vincent, JenniAnn settled Avi onto
"His name is... is Avi. Andrew Vincent," JenniAnn
introduced. She looked up at Vincent who squeezed her
hand and smiled, proud and moved.
Avi gave a little cry and Father's eyes, which had been only
slits, blinked open.
"V-Vincent..." he repeated. Father struggled to sit up
and was helped by Devin and Vincent. His eyes alighted
on the wriggling bundle and he laughed.
"Vincent... Look at that little nose. Mary, come
look at his little nose. Isn't he adorable?"
The elderly woman rose from her chair and peered down at Avi.
"Yes, Father... He... he's adorable."
JenniAnn looked up at Andrew, questioningly.
The angel of death searched the room, looking for another
angel and, seeing none, wondered if the task of taking Jacob
Home would be his.
"Devin! Come see your little brother!" Father
chuckled as he smoothed back Avi's hair. "Handsome
Hesitant, Devin approached and leaned closer.
"He... he's amazing, Father. The... the perfect
At Catherine's side, Vincent began to sob. This
introduction had never really happened. Father hadn't
admitted that Devin was his son until he was well into
"My boys..." Father ruffled Devin's hair and squeezed
the baby's hand.
"What... what's going on?" JenniAnn asked Andrew.
At that moment, Andrew saw a figure standing at the back of
Maryam... She smiled at Andrew then turned her attention
back to Father.
"He... he's dying, Laja. This... he's going over his
life. And I think... I think he's gone back to when he
"My beautiful boys..." Father gushed. Then his smile
began to fade.
"Devin, I'm suddenly very tired. Mary, could you please
"Of... of course, Father," Mary agreed though it was JenniAnn
who scooped Avi up.
Father smiled at the baby then squeezed Devin's hand.
"Let your old man get some rest, son? I'll see you in
"Yes... In... in the morning, Father." Devin
smiled through his tears then leaned forward and kissed his
father's forehead. He and Vincent helped the dying man
get comfortable and, soon, he was asleep.
The assembly of Tunnel-dwellers kept vigil for nearly half an
hour when Father's breath grew ragged.
"Grandpa..." Jacob wailed before crawling into the bed and
snuggling against his namesake.
Weeping, Devin and Vincent each rested a hand over Father's.
"Maryam..." Father murmured after a few minutes.
"M-mother..." His eyes opened wide and he beamed.
There were several seconds of silence and then Devin laid his
hand against his father's chest. His hand drifted up to
"He... he's gone."
As he sobbed, Vincent gently closed Father's eyes.
Jacob leaped off the bed and clung to his parents,
Weeping echoed throughout the chamber.
As tears blinded her, JenniAnn held Avi close and turned into
Andrew's waiting arms.
Silently, she vowed to Father that she would cherish her
special boy as much as he'd cherished his.
Sunday, November 14th, 2038
"Mama... are you crying already?" Avi asked as he
craned his neck to look back at his mother.
JenniAnn sniffled and wiped at her eyes.
Avi twisted around and hugged her tightly.
"Mama... I love you. And I'm always gonna love
you. And... I'm always gonna be your little boy."
"Your father already told me that," JenniAnn confessed with a
"And Dad's right, like, 98% of the time."
"I'd be interested to know what you include in the 2%."
"Oh, baby..." JenniAnn sighed and stroked her son's
face. For a moment, she felt a sob re-form in her throat
as she imagined the tiny brow and cheeks and nose she'd first
Avi kissed her forehead.
"Evie and I aren't going far, Mama. Just over to the
Mystical Mountains. We'll be over all the time.
Probably more often than you and Dad will want."
JenniAnn shook her head.
"We'll see..." Avi rested his forehead against
hers. "Just remember, Mama. You were the first
woman I ever loved. And I'll never stop loving you."
"Oh, Avi... baby..." JenniAnn clung to him. "I...
I love you, too. So much... my baby boy."
A light knock on the door sounded.
"Who is it?" Avi asked.
"Come in, Dad."
Andrew poked his head in. He smiled wryly when he saw
the state JenniAnn was in.
"Just wanted to let you know your grandparents have
arrived. And Siobhan and Darian."
"Okay. Thanks, Dad. We're almost done here and
then we'll be down."
JenniAnn swiped at her eyes and nodded.
"Yes... almost ready."
"Great. I'll tell them you'll be down soon."
Once Andrew had closed the door, Avi smiled at JenniAnn.
"You gonna be okay?"
"Yeah... Sorry... I just..."
"It's okay, Mama."
"Now I've mussed your hair... Here..." JenniAnn
motioned for Avi to turn around and soon had his hair
perfectly styled again.
Avi rose and examined himself in his mirror.
"You look incredible, sweetie. Like... like a fairy tale
"Seems right. Belle used to tell me that you and Daddy
were a fairy tale prince and princess."
"Yeah... We never could quite convince her that just
because we lived in a castle didn't mean we were magical or
"I've found that when your father's an angel, your view on
reality is maybe a little skewed," Avi teased.
"Fair enough," JenniAnn admitted with a laugh.
Avi offered her his arm.
"Ready?" he checked.
JenniAnn sucked in a deep breath, slowly let it out, and then
Avi escorted his mother back to the ballroom where all six of
his grandparents were waiting along with Darian and his birth
While JenniAnn returned to Andrew's side, Avi hugged each of
his grandparents warmly.
"I'm so glad you made it, Darian!" he remarked as he embraced
"Wouldn't have missed this for anything, young man!" Darian
"Vonnie..." Avi greeted his birth mother with a kiss on
"Oh Avi... You look so dashing!"
"Thanks! You look beautiful. I hope it's not too
cold outside for all you ladies in your beautiful gowns.
Not that we'll be out there for long."
"We'll be just fine," Belle assured. "We have our very
stylish wraps and such."
"Yes, very stylish," Avi agreed with a laugh, yanking at the
tablecloth his sister had wrapped around herself. He
sucked in a deep breath then turned to his father.
"A quarter til 11:00. Do you want to head over?"
"Let me check outside first!" Belle shouted. "I want to
make sure Evie's not out there taking photos with her
bridesmaids or something!"
"Wouldn't you be with her if she was, dear?" Raquel
"Oh right... We're doing that later. But let me
Belle fled the ballroom.
"Anyone wanna bet against me that she saw Liam out the
window?" Avi offered.
Vincent chuckled and waved his cane at the boy.
"Watch yourself, young man. You're a fine one to make
jokes about young love."
"Good point, Appa."
Belle came running into the room... with Liam a few steps
"Coast is clear! Let's go! Let's get my baby
brother hitched! Then I can be the baby again."
Belle smiled sweetly at her parents.
Andrew hugged her and laughed.
"You'll always be our baby. Both of you. But
yes... let's go."
The three young people filed out first with the older set
"Beautiful day," Vincent commented. "Sun shining..."
"Look how it makes the snow glisten..." Catherine murmured.
Andrew and JenniAnn smiled at each other... They'd given
their boy sunlight and snow... and God had ensured he had both
on his wedding day.
Fifteen minutes later, Avi stood at the end of the aisle of
the Dyeland Chapel. Fr. Mike and Fr. Kyle stood on
either side of him, beaming.
"You ready, Avi?" Fr. Kyle checked. "Ana-Maria just gave
me the sign that your bride's ready."
Smiling nervously, Avi nodded mutely.
"Ready," he choked out.
"Wonderful!" Fr. Mike gave a sign to Tess who was at the
She began to play Pachelbel's Canon as the groomsmen and
bridesmaids entered... Liam and Belle bringing up the
rear. Avi smiled at seeing his sister's and cousin's
happiness. And then the music shifted and Omar moved to
stand beside Tess and her piano.
Avi smiled proudly, still touched that his shy cousin had been
willing to sing on his wedding day.
"'It's always in the back of your mind,
when everything is dark, still something shines.
One chilly afternoon, you drew the blind...
The earth was frozen,
ice upon the water.
All at once you saw her...
There in the winter light..."
Avi's breath caught in his throat when Evie appeared at the
end of the aisle, immaculate in her shimmering gown with her
veil floating around her like a halo. Her mother and
Joshua walked on either side of her, both brimming with
pride. But Avi had eyes only for her.
"'Then the light came bouncin' up, from stony
And deep within the earth you heard the sound.
Breakin' like a rock, you grew profound.
The earth was frozen,
ice upon the water.
All at once you saw her...
There in the winter light...
There in the winter light...
There in the winter light...
Making everything look beautiful.'"
The bridal procession reached the end of the aisle and Joshua
carefully lifted Evie's veil. He kissed each of her
cheeks and, once her mother had done the same, took Evie's
hand and joined it to Avi's.
"I'm so happy..." Joshua murmured. "I love you both so
much and I'm so pleased that you've come to love each other so
"Thank you, Joshua," Avi replied, taking his gaze off Evie
only just long enough to smile at Joshua.
With a chuckle, the carpenter nodded and escorted Evie's
mother to her seat.
"Hi," Evie whispered.
"Hi," Avi echoed.
"We're getting married."
"Yup." Avi gave his bride a goofy grin.
Evie giggled and blushed then, with her soon-to-be husband,
turned towards the priests.
Fr. Mike smiled out at the gathering of loved ones and spoke.
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness the
joining of this man, Avi, and this woman, Evie, in the
sacrament of Holy Matrimony..."
After the ceremony, the crowd followed the beaming and giddy
newlyweds down a lighted path to Willowveil. They'd only
made it halfway when a snowball was lobbed through the air,
hitting Liam square in the middle of the back.
"Hey!" he shouted.
And then he noticed a selection of his younger cousins looking
Smiling, Belle scooped up some snow, formed it into a ball,
and handed it to her boyfriend.
"Snowball fight!" she yelled before running into the yard.
Avi turned to Evie and shook his head.
"I should have known. Sorry. I..."
Evie giggled and shook her head.
"It's fine! C'mon!"
Avi laughed and followed his wife. They hid behind a
pile of shoveled snow and began stockpiling ammunition.
Standing beside Andrew, JenniAnn shook her head.
"Still think they were mature enough to get married?" she
"Yeah. I do... I mean... look who's out there."
JenniAnn laughed when she spotted Joshua, left arm filled with
snow balls, dodging between bushes.
Still giggling, JenniAnn's gaze traveled to her son and Evie,
popping up and throwing snowballs at their cousins and
"Yeah... You're right. Look at them..."
Andrew and JenniAnn looked on, smiling, as Avi and Evie paused
their fight long enough to steal a kiss.
Suddenly, both Andrew and JenniAnn were nearly bowled over.
"Come play!" Violeta encouraged, yanking on JenniAnn's arm.
"No fun just standing here!" Shelby added.
"You're out-numbered, Maja and Dad." Max smiled just
before leading Rose, Landon, and Amelia onto the
battleground. "Come on!"
Andrew and JenniAnn looked at each other, shrugged, and
From their place of safety on Willowveil's porch, Vincent and
Catherine looked on, hands clasped. They laughed as they
watched the antics of their Psyche and her family.
"You made the right choice," Catherine murmured.
"About Avi. All those years ago. Just look at
Vincent smiled and nodded as he watched Avi burst out from
behind his shield just in time to save his mother from being
pelted by Owen and Graham.
"Seems so," Vincent humbly replied, his eyes alight with joy.
Catherine's lullaby from Beauty and the Beast
"Tender Shepherd" from Peter Pan
The Talmud- To save a life is to save the world.
"Winter Light" by Tim Finn
Author's Note: No, I didn't just space Avi being reunited with
his birth mother. I'm just saving the how and when of
that for Christmas. :-)
to the Author's Cut