Morning Has

Tuesday, March 31

The “fasten seatbelts” sign came on and Kemara shifted uncomfortably.

Flying first class on Aer Lingus had its perks - including free wi-fi, more legroom and really good food. But when it came down to it, you were still on a plane with nowhere to go.

“Excited?” Sean asked. “Or do you just have to pee?”

She rolled her eyes. “Both...and my feet are numb.” Plus, she was feeling queasy - probably from the sausage they’d had with breakfast.

“Feet nothing. I haven’t felt my butt in the last three hours.” He made a face, and she punched his shoulder lightly. “Ow! We’ve been married two weeks and you’re already beating on me!”

Ignoring his complaints, she leaned across to catch sight of the Statue of Liberty which was just coming into view through the window.

“I can’t wait to see everyone! Did you tell Ciara and your mom when we’d be over?”

“Naw, I figure we’ll need a few days to unpack and recover before facing all that crowd. We’ll see them on Easter anyway.” He leered. “You know Ciara’s going to need details. Just want you to be prepared.”

Kemara flushed. “Well, she’s not hearing anything from me. That’s private.”

Yes, very private most of it. The weather - cool but not cold - meant they had been able to do a good bit of sightseeing. And plenty of exploring indoors as well.

“So I can’t tell her about how we misplaced the car after we stopped in the middle of nowhere to look for that non-existent stone circle and then got chased by a bull?”

She laughed. “You know what I mean! And you were the one who wanted to take a selfie with it!”

“I got the selfie, didn’t I? You think the girls won’t want details?”

“Certainly not!” She sniffed. “They wouldn’t be so rude.”

He smirked. “Even Violeta?”

“Well…” Kemara hesitated. “She wouldn’t mean to be rude, she just wouldn’t realize what she was asking.”

When they stepped into baggage claim at JFK an hour later, a steam-whistle shriek sounded above the noise of chatting passengers and arrival announcements.

Sean winced. “That would be Violeta.”

“Nice to be missed.” Kemara said, and braced herself for the angel’s ecstatic greeting. Andrew and JenniAnn followed close behind with Belle. The next few minutes were taken up with hugs and exclamations over how much Belle had grown while Andrew and Sean retrieved the luggage.

During the drive to Manhattan, Kemara brought out her iPad which she had loaded with photos from their stay in Dublin and on the West coast of Ireland. Violeta leaned over from the back seat to look.

“The cottage was so pretty!” the angel said, as Kemara paused on one shot of the living room of the simple whitewashed stone house they’d stayed in.

JenniAnn turned to them. “It really was. Did you have any neighbors?”

“Yeah, it wasn’t right on the beach,” Sean replied. “We had to go down this one-lane road to a dirt path that led to the bay. Anyway, there were two other houses on the road about a half mile in either direction.”

Kemara laughed. “Violeta, you would’ve loved it! Everyone has sheep or cows, and we even saw a couple of donkeys.” She passed the iPad back. “I think I have a few pics later on.”

Andrew smiled at them in the rear-view mirror. “It sounds like you had a great time. We enjoyed keeping up with your adventures on the forum.”

“And the pictures you sent were gorgeous,” JenniAnn added. “Belle liked to look at them - I think it was all the green.”

Violeta handed her the tablet. “I’ve never seen so much green at one time!” She peaked at the toddler who was dozing beside her in her car seat. “No wonder Belle liked it. Did you do any dancing?”

“A little bit. The next village over has a ceili every Friday night, so we went to that.” Kemara smiled proudly at her husband. “Sean borrowed someone’s bodhran and played for a few tunes. They were very impressed that ‘someone so young’ knew so much.”

He shrugged. “It was Joshua’s tutorial DVD that Kemara gave me for Christmas. Watching that taught me a lot.”

“And did you go shopping?” Violeta asked eagerly.

Sean rolled his eyes. “Oh, don’t get her started….” he moaned.

Kemara patted his arm. “I’ll tell you later,” she promised Violeta. “We got a few things.”

“A few?” Sean teased. “You practically needed an extra suitcase.”

JenniAnn laughed. “I probably would too if I got the chance to go.” She took the tablet Kemara handed her and flipped through the photos.

Andrew looked a little hurt. “Hey, just say the word and we’re there!”

“Maybe when Belle’s older,” JenniAnn said. “I’d want her to be able to enjoy it.”

“I’d like to go back to Woodstock,” Kemara said. “Maybe in the summer the Friends can take a road trip. There’s a lot we didn’t see.”

“Yeah, like the artists’ commune,” Sean put in. “Have to compare it to Dyeland after all.”

JenniAnn gave Kemara back the iPad. “Thanks. You really need to frame some of those.”

“I’m sure I will. Oh, Violeta, I have a few videos from the ceili. Let me find them….” Kemara pulled up the app. ”Here you go.”

She leaned her head on Sean’s shoulder and sighed contentedly.

“Glad to be home?” he asked quietly so the others couldn’t hear.

“Huh. I never thought of New York as home before now. But yeah, it’ll be nice to sleep in my own -” She caught herself. “Our own bed,” she finished acutely aware that this was new territory.

“Yeah, we didn’t do much sleeping the one night we spent in it.”

“Well...I guess the unpacking and wash can wait until tomorrow…”

“I think that might be a good idea.”

Wednesday, April 1

The next morning, after an early breakfast, Sean left to bring another load of his belongings from the Manhattan apartment where he had lived before moving to Dyeland.

Kemara got everything put away and the laundry started. When Violeta showed up around 10, she was glad for a break.

“Come on in! Just let me get these clothes out of the dryer.”

She handed the angel a gift bag that had been sitting on the kitchen table. “This is for you. Just a little something we picked up.”

“ didn’t have to do that,” Violeta said opening it. “The towels and tablecloth for Serendipity were enough. Ivy and I love them by the way.” Inside the bag she found two jewelry boxes. The first held a silver bangle bracelet set with a dark green stone.

“It’s Connemara marble,” Kemara said. “Only found in one place in Ireland.”

“It’s awesome!” Violeta said sliding it onto her slender wrist.

In the other box was a silver claddagh ring also set with marble. “I hope it fits you. Most of my rings have to be a little bigger to go over my knuckles.”

“It’s like JenniAnn’s and yours!” Violeta excitedly tried the ring on different fingers until she found one it fit. “Thank you!’ She threw her arms around Kemara.

“You’re welcome! I have a couple more things…. picture books for Belle and some tea for JenniAnn. I’ll take them over later.”

A jingle from the living room made Violeta jump. “What’s that?”

Kemara laughed. “Warren wants someone to play with him. When he’s bored he picks up one of the toy balls Adam made for him and shakes it until someone tosses it for him.”

“I’ll go do that while you finish the clothes,” Violeta said.

“Sounds good! It won’t take long, just need to fold this load.”

Ten minutes later - much to the cat’s disappointment - they left the beach house. While the air was still cool, the trees were already greening up along the path to Willowveil. Kemara noticed a few white cherry blossoms here and there.

“I’m so glad you’re back,” Violeta said. “Everyone’s missed you at dance class and performances.”

“How are things with the show? I think Sean’s a little nervous, and that’s so weird cause I’ve never seen him scared about getting up in front of people.”

Violeta grinned. “It’s awesome! We’ve had full houses just about every night!”

Kemara smiled. “It’s good to be home, but I’m ready for things to get back to normal. Or, the new normal, I guess.”

“Is it very different - being married?” Violeta flushed. “Umm...don’t answer that if it’s too personal. JenniAnn warned me that you might want to be private about some things now.”

Remembering Sean’s joke about the young angel’s request for details, Kemara hid another smile. “Well, some things are private, that’s true. But I don’t think our situation is that different from when Andrew moved into Willowveil with JenniAnn. Both Sean and I have lived alone until now, and Fr. Mike warned us during pre-Cana that it might take a while to get used to having someone else underfoot all the time."

Violeta frowned. “I guess it would. Having to share everything when you hadn’t before. And what you said that first morning about Sean snoring.”

“Yes, like that,” Kemara agreed. “But we’ve got the rest of our lives to work it all out.” She laughed. “I’m really glad he can cook, because I can’t. I guess that’s one thing we’ll have to -”

She broke off as the wind shifted, blowing the scents of hay and manure from the stable in their direction. Normally, the smell didn’t bother her, but now her stomach turned over.

With a little moan, Kemara clapped a hand over her mouth and hurried off the path. She reemerged a few minutes later red-faced and eyes streaming.

“Are you OK?” Violeta asked taking her by the arm. “Do you still feel sick? Let’s go to the house first...Andrew always has ginger ale. Would that help?”

Kemara wiped her eyes. “I’m fine. The smell of the barn just got to me.” She grimaced. “It would be good to rinse my mouth though.”

JenniAnn was cleaning up Belle’s latest attempt to feed herself when they came into the kitchen. “What on earth happened to you?” she asked when she saw Kemara’s sweaty face.

Her friend waved a hand. “It’s OK. Back in a sec.” She disappeared down the hall and they heard the bathroom door close.

Violeta shrugged. “We were walking out to the animals, and she just turned green and ducked behind a bush.”

“Hmm…” JenniAnn lifted a now-tidy Belle down from her high chair and set her in the bouncy swing that stood nearby.

Kemara returned looking much better. “Wow, I don’t know what brought that on, but I’m glad it’s gone.”

“That’s never happened before, has it?” JenniAnn asked handing her a glass of ginger ale.

“Smells get to me sometimes. I just have a sensitive nose.” Kemara sipped the drink cautiously. “And I’ve always been a little queasy first thing in the morning.”

“It’s not that early. Maybe it’s jet lag,” Violeta suggested. “I read where that can mess you up for a few days.”

Kemara shrugged. “Yeah, I am really tired. Both times I went to Ireland before it was the same. It took a while to get acclimated again.

“Why don’t you go upstairs and take a little nap in one of the guest rooms?” JenniAnn suggested. “We’ll come get you at lunch.”

“Thanks. I think I will. I’ll check the flowers in Joshua’s room, too.”

Violeta smiled. “It’s lilies this week since Easter’s on Sunday. I found some at the grocery store. The ones in the conservatory aren’t quite ready yet, and those from your bouquet only lasted a few days.”

Kemara took the stairs slowly holding onto the banister for support. She felt like she could sleep for a week.

As always, Joshua’s room was an oasis of peace. Everyone who visited remarked on how the very air seemed to carry an echo of its former occupant. She checked the water level in the vase of flowers, and made a mental note to bring up a dusting cloth later. She was just about to leave when a wave of dizziness made her sit on the bed.

Maybe she could just lie down here and have her nap. Surely Joshua wouldn’t mind. She kicked off her sandals and stretched out. She’d just close her eyes for a few minutes….

The next thing she knew, someone was shaking her.

“Wh - what is it?” Why was she in Joshua’s room?

JenniAnn stood beside the bed looking alarmed. “It’s lunchtime - about noon. You scared me...I couldn’t get you to wake up. I’ve been trying for ten minutes.”

Kemara struggled to sit up. “Sorry, I guess I was more tired that I thought. I just sat down for a second and….”

“I think you probably need something to eat,” JenniAnn said. “Especially since you were sick earlier.”

They went downstairs while Kemara fought to hide her dizziness. In the kitchen, they found that Sean had arrived with a box of extra kitchen utensils for Willowveil.

“Hey! I figured you must be here.” He gave her a kiss and looked at her sharply. “Are you OK? You’re pale.”

Kemara waved a hand. “I’m fine. Just a little jet lagged. I took a nap in Joshua’s room.”

Violeta opened her mouth, caught JenniAnn’s look and closed it again.

“Makes sense,” Sean nodded. "I’m not feeling totally myself either. Loading the truck was really tiring.”

Andrew was setting out sandwich fixings. “Well, maybe you’ll both feel better after lunch.”

Kemara put two slices of bread on her plate. Instead of her usual peanut butter, she found herself reaching for the mayonnaise jar and the platter of sliced tomatoes.

“You’re eating tomatoes?” Sean asked as she sat down.

She glared at him, suddenly annoyed. “What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing! I just…. thought you hated tomatoes in any form.”

The words, I do, came to her lips but she stopped them. “I dunno, I just wanted them for some reason.” She shrugged and took a bite of her sandwich.

She didn’t miss the look Violeta and JenniAnn exchanged. “I’m fine! Just a little out of sorts.”

Sean was studying her as if she were a fascinating new species; while Andrew was preoccupied with helping Belle with her applesauce.

JenniAnn smiled, reassuringly. “That’s OK. I was going to start decorating this afternoon if anyone wants to lend a hand. Vincent’s given me the rest of the week off.”

“Sure! Sounds like fun.” Kemara made an effort to sound cheerful at the obvious change of subject. It wasn’t their fault she was feeling so yucky. Maybe JenniAnn was right and food would help. She took another bite of her sandwich. I can’t believe I ever thought tomatoes were disgusting.

“Wish I could, but I want to get a few more loads this afternoon,” Sean said. “I’ll help you bring the boxes down before I go, Andrew.”

Andrew nodded. “Thanks.” He smiled at JenniAnn. “Seems like Laja’s collection expands every year.”

“Yeah, it will probably take a couple of days,” JenniAnn admitted. “There’s the decorating, and then filling all the plastic eggs for the egg hunt.”

After they’d finished eating, Andrew and Sean carried down four cardboard cartons from the attic.

“That’s the last of them.” Andrew said setting the final box on the floor. "Violeta and I have a 1:00, but it shouldn't take too long."

JenniAnn looked concerned. "Good, I hope."

Andrew smiled. "I think so. An elderly farmer in Iowa. Violeta will enjoy talking to him about all his animals."

"Well, have fun!" JenniAnn laughed. "She's in the barn."

"That's what I figured." With waves to Kemara and Sean, he left.

Sean hesitated. “Are you sure you’re OK?”

“Yes. Now who’s being a worry-wart?” She stood on tiptoe to kiss him. “See you later.”

“See you.” He opened the door and stepped onto the porch. “Hey, Monica! How’re you this afternoon?”

The angel was coming up the path carrying two plastic grocery bags. “Hello! I’ve got the candy for the eggs. Liam helped pick out most of it.”

“Oooh! Lemme see!” Sean took one of the bags from her and opened it.

Kemara rolled her eyes. “You’re just a big kid yourself.”

Sean stuck his tongue out at her and, having taken a Reeses peanut butter egg, headed for his truck.

“So what’s first?” Monica asked carrying her bags into the kitchen.

JenniAnn thought for a minute. “We’ll do the eggs in here. Andrew and Sean put the boxes in the dining room, so I think we’ll go through them first.”

The decorations proved to be a mix of sacred and secular.

"Oh, how cute!" Kemara said, unwrapping a porcelain duckling.

JenniAnn smiled. "Yeah, we've got an entire collection. Violeta gets so excited when she sees one. These -." She set a smaller box on the table. "Are the ones she's bought this year."

"You should have a wee pond to set them around," said Monica opening another carton. She removed a delicate table centerpiece of a cross surrounded by lilies. "This is lovely."

"That's my favorite," JenniAnn said. "We'll put it in here, I think."

They worked in silence for a while before Kemara said. "It's funny....Easter feels happier and sadder this year."

"Guess it's because of what - and Who - we know, now," JenniAnn mused. "I mean, we knew last year too, but..."

Monica nodded. "Last year Joshua was here, and even though He's still here...."

"It's not the same," Kemara said. She chuckled, remembering. "I had a friend in college - she was a big, black girl - a lot like Tess actually." She grinned at Monica. "Anyway, when one of the girls in our group got a new boyfriend she would ask, ‘Do he know Jesus?’ And she'd give us the third degree about the guy's religious background and upbringing."

JenniAnn laughed. "Imagine what she'd say if you told her Sean has sung punk rock Christmas carols with Jesus!"

"She'd never believe me in a million years!"

With the three of them, the decorating didn’t take as long as JenniAnn predicted, and a few hours later, they were done.

“Thanks so much for helping!” she said as they put away the empty boxes and foam packing material. “I think I’ll put out some vases of lilies on Saturday, but the hard part’s done.”

Kemara ran a finger over a ceramic bunny sitting on the hall table. “I wanted to ask if it would be OK for Belle’s Godmother to give her a rabbit for Easter? I think Edward and Caleb could find one for me and bring it to the sunrise service.”

“Awww...Sure! Just so long as it’s only one bunny!”

Kemara grinned. “Don’t worry! My family raised rabbits when I was a kid. Two bunnies can make more bunnies very quickly.”

Everyone laughed, and the conversation turned to plans for the Easter Sunday festivities.

Thursday, April 2

“Rise and shine!”

Blearily, Kemara opened one eye. Sean stood by the bed looking much too cheerful.

“What time is it?”

“Almost 11. I thought you’d sleep all day.” He came over and felt her forehead. “Want your thermometer?”

She took it from him and put it under her tongue. “I feel like I could,” she mumbled. She closed the eye.

“None of that! Get up, get dressed! Let’s go for a jog on the beach.”

She glared at him, unable to reply. The thermometer beeped and she wrote down the temperature in the little notebook she kept on the nightstand. “Sean, I’ve never jogged in my life.”

“It’s easy. I’ll teach you.” He went to the closet and tossed one of her T-shirts on the bed. “Here.”

Groaning, Kemara forced herself to sit up. “Why didn’t I know you were such a health nut?”

He pouted. “I’m not. I just enjoy a jog every now and then. Come on….It’s nice out,” he wheedled. “You know you’ve been looking forward to warm weather.”

“Okay, but if I fall on my face, don’t you dare laugh.”

She climbed out of bed, and rummaged in the dresser for a sports bra. Wincing, she pulled it on.

“What’s wrong?” He was leaning in the doorway, shifting impatiently from foot to foot.

“Just….really sore.”

He frowned. “What does your chart say?”

“Umm….” She blushed and quickly pulled the T-shirt over her head to hide her face.

“What do you mean, ‘um’” he asked suspiciously.

Not looking at him, she reached for a pair of shorts. “I forgot it. While we were gone, I mean.”

“You mean you didn’t take it with you? I didn’t notice.” He grinned. “Guess I had other things on my mind.”

She smiled. “Me too. I meant to grab it that afternoon before we left, but -.”

“We had that long...nap,” he agreed.

“And we were almost late leaving for the airport.” She rolled her eyes. “I don’t know what JenniAnn and Andrew thought when we came running up. Anyway, I forgot to get it.”

He shrugged. “Well, missing two weeks doesn’t make any difference, does it? I mean, you still know when things happen, right?”

“Yeah, probably tomorrow or the next day. Actually, it would explain this,” she gestured to her chest, “and why I’ve been so tired. Add jet lag to that, and no wonder I feel half dead.”

Outside, they stretched for a few minutes before setting off at a fast walk down the beach. After a little bit, he picked up the pace to a slow jog, and she followed suit.

“You’ve got it! Bend your arms a little more,” he encouraged. They jogged beside each other while she concentrated on her form.

Her foot caught on something and she found herself staring at a tiny shell inches from her nose. Wincing, she rolled over onto her back and looked up at the blue sky.

Sean’s face appeared. “What’re you doing down there?” he asked curiously.

“Examining the local ecosystem.” She took the hand he held out and pulled herself to her feet.

“OK. I give! No more jogging.”

She kissed him. “Thanks. I do feel better, though.”

They turned and started back. “You know,” He said. “I was thinking we should name the beach house. Every other building here has some fantastic name, so ours should, too.”

“Oh, good idea! Huh….The Reel Thing.”

“Gull Cottage.”

“Sea Breeze”

“Sun Worshipper. Nice pun there.”

Kemara laughed. “I like that. What about Going Coastal?”

“I got it! Sol Mate. Sounds like soul mate which means the same thing as anam cara, so it fits.”

“That’s great! I’ll see if Owen will paint us a sign to put beside the door.” Kemara slumped down on the steps to catch her breath. “I don’t know why I never thought of naming this place before now.”

Sean sat next to her, frowning. “You’re wheezing. You haven’t done that in a long time.”

“I know…it just wore me out for some reason. Must be allergies with spring here.”

“Let’s get some coffee. That might help.” He stood up. “You stay here, and I’ll bring it out.”

While he was inside, Kemara moved to one of the two rocking chairs on the front porch. Warren had come out when Sean opened the door, and the Siamese jumped into her lap, purring loudly.  

“You’re so spoiled,” she told him stroking his cream colored fur. It was darkening just a little as he grew older. “I don’t know what I’d do without my guys.”

Sean came back out holding two mugs. “Here you go.” He gave her one.

“Thanks.” He’d chosen the smiley face mug she’d gotten at Woodstock. “I love this cup.”

He pretended to shudder. “I still think it’s creepy. I swear it watched me the whole time I was making the coffee.”

She laughed. “Now there’s a horror movie.” She took a sip of the drink and made a face. “Has the milk gone bad? I thought we didn’t leave any.”

“No. I just opened a carton of Parmalat. We need to get groceries. Why? Does it taste off?”

Kemara wrinkled her nose. “ tastes different.”

“Tastes fine to me.” He frowned again. “You sure you’re feeling OK? Besides being tired, I mean?”

Resigned, she took another sip. “Yeah, like I said it’s just everything -.”

The coffee hit bottom and started back the way it had come. She jumped up, dumping Warren from her lap and made it to the bathroom just in time.

She was vaguely aware that Sean had followed her, but had no attention to spare for anything besides her heaving stomach.

“I think you need to go to the doctor,” he said, wetting a washcloth and wiping her face with it.

“No.” she reached for her toothbrush. “I feel fine now. I think it was the milk.”

“If you say so.” But he looked doubtful. “I can run to the store if you want to stay here and rest.”

She laid down the brush and turned to him. “Nope. We’re a team, remember?”


Two hours later, Sean wondered if he’d misunderstood. His job, it seemed, was to push the cart while she did the actual shopping.

The Fairway in Queens was huge, but they were hardly inside the doors before Kemara was stalled in the produce section - of all places.

“Umm....I didn’t know you even liked fruit,” he joked as she filled a second plastic bag with apples. She shot him a look. “I mean, I’ve never seen you buy any before.”

She shrugged and turned to a display of bell peppers. “Guess spring has me wanting fruit. And the prices are good today.”

There was still snow on the ground, and Sean thought the prices were a little high, but he said nothing.

When she had filled half the cart with fruit and vegetables, they explored the rest of the store.

Sean grabbed a few things, but mostly he watched Kemara. She bypassed the snack aisle completely and moved on to the bread and dairy sections. A gallon of milk and some yogurt went into the cart. When she tried to add a carton of orange juice he stopped her.

“Woah. You told me orange juice makes you sick to your stomach. After this morning, I think you’d want to avoid that.”

She gave the juice a longing look, but let him put it back. “You’re right. I really needed some all of a sudden.”

“You’re just hungry. Why don’t we pick up lunch at the deli on the way out?”

“Okay!” She brightened at that.

To his relief, she ordered a completely normal turkey, bacon and swiss sandwich and a diet Coke.

“I think I’m going to teach you how to cook,” he said as they drove back to Manhattan. “Because unless you’ve turned into a rabbit, we need to do something with all those veggies we just bought.”

“Oh, remind me to email Edward and Caleb when we get home. I want to get Belle a bunny for Easter.”

“Hope you’ve run this by JenniAnn and Andrew already,” Sean warned.

She rolled her eyes. “Yes, yes….JenniAnn said just one, please.”

“Ha! Yeah, they’re already going to have a herd of sheep if Violeta has anything to say about it. The last thing they need is a swarm of rabbits, too.”

A thought came to him then, and he glanced over at her. She didn’t look any different. Still…. he filed the idea away - just in case.


He smiled. "Just admiring the view."

"Better admire the one of the road," she suggested as someone pulled out in front of them.

"Good idea." After a minute he asked. "So what'd you want to do on our last day of freedom?"

She snorted. "You make it sound like school's about to start. We'll still have Friday and Saturday morning and early afternoon to ourselves."


She pretended to think about it. "Well, I could use a nap first, but you said something about cooking lessons. We really should take something to the Seder tomorrow night."

He chuckled. "You and your naps!"

"Naps are very refreshing." She gave him a sly smile.  "You could always join me."

“I’ll do that.” He returned the smile. “What do you want to cook? I’ve never been to a Seder before.”

“Well…. there are a lot of rules about food, but I think a sweet potato casserole would be okay. My mom gave me all of her recipes when I moved out, and that’s one of them. I’ve watched her make it often enough.”

Sean nodded. “Good idea to start with something you know. What can you make already?”

She looked doubtful. “I can bake some stuff from scratch - shortbread, a couple different kinds of bread. I’ve baked a ham but that’s just putting it in the oven.”

“That’s it?”

“Pretty much. I could probably handle pork chops or bacon, but I’m not touching chicken or ground beef. If I did, I’d never eat it.” She made a face. “Same with fish.”

He grinned at her. “You’re weird. You know that?”

“Takes one to know one.”

Back at Sol Mate, they put away the groceries, and Kemara sent an email to the twins.

“Let’s go ahead and put the casserole together,” Sean suggested. “It’ll be OK in the fridge until tomorrow.”

Kemara pouted. “And then we’ll have our nap?”

“Promise.” He kissed her. “So what’s a Seder like?” he asked, setting out the sweet potatoes and other ingredients.

“Well, tomorrow is the start of Passover, and the Seder commemorates the escape from Egypt of the Israelites in the Book of Exodus.”

Sean looked interested. “You mean like in ‘Prince of Egypt’?”

“Yeah. Each of the foods represents something related to that time. There’s a book to keep it all straight, and Rabbi Yakov leads.”

“Isn’t there something for kids, too?” He put a peeled potato in the pot of water. “I do remember reading that somewhere.”

Kemara nodded. “Usually the youngest child has questions to ask like, ‘Why is this night different from all other nights?’ It’s really cute. And then a piece of matzo gets hidden for the kids to find in exchange for chocolates.”

They finished peeling the potatoes, and set them to cook.

“Now what?” Kemara asked.

Sean opened the refrigerator. “We’ll throw together a salad for tonight, I think.”

By the time they finished chopping vegetables, the potatoes were done. Sean mashed them and mixed in raisins while Kemara put together the cinnamon topping.

“There!” Sean put the casserole dish is the refrigerator and shut the door. When he turned around, Kemara was watching him.

He walked over and wrapped his arms around her. “You’re insatiable,” he teased.

“No…. just really, really sleepy.” She took his hand and tugged him toward the bedroom.

“This could work out well. We can just tell the kids that mommy and daddy need their naptime.”

Kemara sniggered. “Better yet, we’ll send them to Willowveil to see if Cousin Belle wants to play.”

“I almost feel sorry for JenniAnn and Andrew.”

“But not quite.”


That evening, Kemara checked her email and was pleased to find a reply from Caleb.

A bunny for Belle is a great idea! We don’t have any ourselves, but our neighbors do. I was just there yesterday picking up some new chicks - they’re so cute - and they had several rabbits as well. Actually, they’ve got more than they can handle.

After I read your email, I went back over. I’ve attached a photo of one that might work for Belle. He’s old enough to have been fixed, and he’s not afraid of people or dogs. He doesn’t have a name, so Belle can give him one.

Let us know, and we’ll bring him to the sunrise service. Edward says to tell you we’ll take care of the cage, feed and toys.

“Oh, look!” Kemara pulled up the photo of a grey and white rabbit. “He’s adorable!”

“Cute,” Sean said, setting down a bowl of popcorn and coming over. “Looks a little bit like a Boston Terrier.”

Kemara quickly typed in a reply. “I think he’s perfect. Maybe we can get Belle a stuffed bunny that looks like him. She wouldn’t mean to hurt him, but she’s still pretty little.”

“Good idea,” Sean said as they settled onto the couch. “My folks did something similar before we got our first dog. They got us kids picture books about dogs and taking care of them. So when dad brought him home, we knew what to expect.”

“We always had cats, but I remember getting spanked because my mom thought I was hurting the cat when all I’d been trying to do was pet it.” She shook her head. “If we have kids, we’re not spanking them!”

Sean realized this was the second time today they’d talked about children. He was glad Kemara seemed to be warming to the idea. “Nope. Of course, I never got spanked.”

“I’m sure you needed it!” Kemara retorted.

“What? No! I was a perfect angel.”

Kemara giggled. “Whoever coined that phrase never heard Adam cuss.”

“This is true. So what’d you want to watch?”

“We were talking about ‘Prince of Egypt’ earlier. Let’s watch that.”

Soon they were caught up in the story about faith strong enough to move mountains and part seas.

Friday, April 3

When Kemara awoke Friday morning, she wished she could just go back to sleep and wake up on Saturday. Between the Seder and the show that night, it was going to be a very long day. Actually, Saturday would probably be just as bad.

“Maybe I do need to go to the doctor,” she muttered as she wrote down her temperature. She hadn’t been keeping up with her chart since they’d gotten home, and she wasn’t sure why not. Maybe she’d just gotten out of the habit. “Darn it.”

Sean poked his head around the door. “Why are you talking to yourself?”  

She tried to glare and failed. “It assures me of having a good listener.”

He laughed. “Breakfast is almost ready, if you’re hungry.”

“Actually, I think I am. What’re we having?”

“I was looking through the recipes your mom gave you, and I saw one for biscuits. So we’re having those with whatever you want on them.”

Kemara sat up, her mouth watering. “Ooh...My grandma always said there’s nothing better than tomatoes on a buttered biscuit.”

“Sure. I’ll go slice some.” He turned back to the kitchen.

“You spoil me,” Kemara said joining him five minutes later. The table was set with a platter of buttermilk biscuits, butter, jam and the promised tomatoes.

Sean put a cup of coffee in front of her. “Nah, I have to do the cooking if I want anything to eat around here,” he teased.

“But hopefully not for long!” She sniffed at the coffee distrustfully before taking a sip, then sighed when it stayed down.

“OK?” Sean asked.

She nodded. “Yeah, I told you it was the milk. So what’s on the agenda for today?”

“Well, I want to make one last trip to the apartment, just to be sure I didn’t forget anything. And then I need to run by the Phoenix and check with Catherine about the budget seminar next week.”

“Oh, that’s right. I’ve got some flyers for her, too. Tell her I’m sorry I didn’t get them over soon as we got back.”

Sean grinned. “I’m sure she understands.”

“Yeah, we’ve been keeping to ourselves haven’t we?” Kemara finished her first biscuit and spread butter on a second.

“Technically we’re still on our honeymoon until Monday,” he pointed out. “So we’re entitled.”

“Speaking of that....” Kemara hesitated.


“Well, I just wondered what it’ll be like for you not going into the office every day. I mean, I’m usually here, but sometimes I have to go do an interview or to one of the shelters.”

“Hey, I’ll find plenty to do. I’ll get the job stuff done so much quicker without all the distractions...But if you wanted to distract me every now and then I wouldn’t mind.” He smirked.

She laughed. “I’m sure I will!”

“And there’s the seminars for Catherine and Arthur’s people. Plus, Catherine mentioned wanting me to teach a personal finance class Below for the oldest kids - the ones old enough to head to college.”

“That’s a great idea! She mentioned something similar to me after the last Bible study....she wants a workshop on college application essays and maybe a basic academic writing class.”

Sean smiled. “Sounds like we’ll both be pretty busy.”

“This has been really nice though, just the two of us - and Warren,” she added looking over at the cat who was perched on the arm of the couch watching them eat. Suddenly, Kemara’s face went white, and she bolted from her chair and raced for the bathroom.

“I don’t think it’s just the three of us any more,” Sean told the cat as he started to clear off the table.

When she finally left the bathroom, Kemara found her husband standing on the porch. When he heard her come out, he turned and embraced her.

“Feel better?”

She sighed. “Yeah, Whatever this is it makes it hard to enjoy eating though.”

“I think you know what it is,” he said gently. Surely, the idea had to have crossed her mind.

He thought he saw the slightest hint of panic in her eyes. “No. What?”

“I think you’re pregnant.”

She stared at him, mouth agape. “No way.”

“You’ve got all the symptoms. Come here, and I’ll show you.” He hurried back inside, went over to the computer and typed, “early pregnancy signs.”

“Sean…” Exasperated, she dragged over a kitchen chair and sat beside him.

“See? You’ve been throwing up, craving weird - and different - food, you’re so tired you can hardly move. It all fits!”

She scanned down the list and realized he was right. She did have many of them. “That’s not proof. All of these could have other causes - like jet lag.”

He raised his eyebrows. “What about the tomatoes? You can’t tell me jet lag made you eat a tomato sandwich for the first time in 34 years.”

“Well, yeah; that was weird.”

“And we could get proof….”

She sighed. He looked so hopeful she wanted to cry. “Love, I know you want us to be like Diana and Zeke with a souvenir from the honeymoon and all that. But I just don’t think it’s going to happen, at least, not this soon.”

“If I picked up a test, would you use it?”

Kemara hesitated. He was watching her closely. “I guess.”

He stood up and led her over to the couch.

“It’s not that I don’t want a baby,” she said curling up next to him. “It’s just….”

“You want one so much you’re scared to hope in case it’s not true,” Sean said gently. “And I can’t not hope.”

She nodded. “When you stop by the Phoenix ask Catherine if she has any pregnancy tests. I’m sure they’d keep something like that stocked.”

He looked at her in surprise. “You sure you’re OK with her knowing?”

“Well, everyone will be wondering anyway if I’m throwing up all the time. Especially now that we have permission to do the deed.” Kemara smirked.

“True! Only one Person got here without it after all.”

She smiled a little sadly. “I haven’t been able to talk to Him about it yet. To ask for a baby, I mean. He’s given us so much already, I guess I don’t want to be greedy.”

“Well, I do! I’ve been asking for one since...oh, I guess it was when Belle sat down between us at the wedding.”

“Even after what she did?” Kemara laughed.

He shrugged. “She couldn’t help it.” He hesitated, then went on in a more serious voice. “Besides, Joshua did tell me, ‘You never know unless you ask’.”

“You’re right,” she kissed him. “I’ll try to do better. And maybe I’ll have grape juice tonight at the Seder instead of wine - just in case.”


When Sean had left, Kemara found herself unable to settle. She needed to make up another order of brochures for True Light, and she wanted to check with Monica about going along with her and Liam for the day in the food truck. It would make a good article for the homeless coalition newsletter. And then there was Catherine’s idea of writing classes. She should put together some kind of syllabus…..

At the thought of Catherine, her mind circled back around to Sean’s errand and the reason for it.

​"Wanna go for a walk?" she asked Warren opening the door. He followed her eagerly off the porch. As she started down the beach, he ran in front, batting at the incoming waves and darting back again.

"If you get wet and sandy, I'm not drying you off." He ignored her and raced after a gull that had gotten too close.

A baby. Possibly. She wasn't sure if she should feel excited or terrified. Both, maybe. She and Sean had been married - and living together - a little more than two weeks! They were still working out whose toothbrush went where in the bathroom and who should clean Warren's litter box. She smiled despite herself. If she was pregnant then Sean got that duty.

"I don't know why I'm surprised," she said aloud. Sean claimed talking to Joshua should be just like a regular conversation. Maybe she'd try that. "I mean, we knew before the wedding that it might happen. My chart said so. And I really need to look at it." Yes, speaking her thoughts this way did help.

"Is it OK that I’m not sure how to feel about it yet? I wish You'd tell me for sure." She chuckled. "But I know You won't. That's the fun part, right? Watching us find out for ourselves." Joshua's laughter echoed in her mind. "It is kinda scary, though. I never pictured myself as a mom before. And I never wanted to be until lately. Sean will be a fantastic dad, anybody can see that."

"But it's exciting too, to think about Christmas, Easter, birthdays, feast days, First Communion and teaching a little one about You." She wiped away a tear. "Especially that. JenniAnn's always talking about the amazing things the kids in her religion class say."

Feeling much more positive about whatever lay ahead, Kemara turned back to the house.


Sean called ahead to the Phoenix Inn and Catherine herself opened the door for him.

“Come on in!”

He followed her back to her office. “Are things ready for the Seder tonight?” he asked sitting in one of the comfortable chairs on the other side of the desk. “Kemara was telling me about it. Sounds like it’s a pretty involved process.”

“Almost. After so many years we have it down to a science. Tiva came Below pretty early to supervise anyway.”

He chuckled. “I can sympathize! I gave Kemara her first cooking lesson yesterday - we’re bringing a sweet potato casserole.”

“Wonderful!” Catherine smiled. “So many people always bring desserts. It’ll be nice to have some side dishes.”

She reached for a manila folder on her desk. “I made up a general profile of the kind of people we serve here, so you’ll have an idea.” She handed it to him and waited while he skimmed the contents.

“I was going to start with the basics of making and sticking to a budget,” Sean said. “But I was wondering….” He flushed. “I uh, I’ve never not had enough money. I don’t know if I can really relate to what these women are going through.”

“That’s a good point.” Catherine thought for a minute. “Did you go to college?”

He shook his head. “No, I got a summer job with an accounting firm my senior year, and when I graduated they offered me an entry-level position.”

“And were you self-sufficient from the start?”

“Ye-,” Sean started to say and then stopped himself. “No, not really. I knew how to make budget in theory, but I did make some stupid mistakes like buying a really nice stereo as soon as I found an apartment. I couldn’t afford my second month’s rent and had to get my dad to lend me some money,” He grinned. “He still teases me about that.”

Catherine smiled. “So, you had to learn even with your accounting background. Maybe you could teach the class for the person you were back then.”

“That makes sense. Would they mind if I asked at the beginning how their finances are right now? Or made up an anonymous survey? Then I’d know better what to cover?”

“You can try asking, but some might prefer the survey,” Catherine said. “Especially since they don’t know you. Also, you might want to talk about how to reestablish good credit. Many of these women have their credit scores ruined by abusive partners.”  

Sean nodded. “OK. Sounds like a plan. I’ll put together the survey and an overview early next week and get it to you. I’m sure Kemara will do a flyer if I ask her nicely.” He hesitated, wondering how to bring up the next topic.

Catherine frowned, concerned. “Was there something else?”

He shifted in his chair. “Yeah. Uh, do you keep pregnancy tests here or know where I can buy a couple?”

Catherine’s eyes lit up. “Oh! That was fast!”

“Well, we kinda had an idea from Kemara’s chart that the honeymoon might be a good time.” He shrugged. “I guess Joshua planned it that way.”

“I’m sure he did,” Catherine said. “And yes, we do keep them - we’ll stop at the supply closet on the way out. So you’re pretty sure?”

Sean shrugged. “Well, she’s been throwing up every day - not always in the morning though. And she’s been sleeping really late. That could be jet lag, but she’s also developed a taste for fruits and vegetables. Kemara has a big sweet tooth, so that’s not like her.”

Catherine nodded. “She could be pregnant then. With Jamey I was throwing up sometimes twice a day, and I could hardly drag myself out of bed.” For a moment a shadow crossed her face. “Have Kemara keep crackers on her bedside table. That sometimes staved off the nausea for me….at least for a while.”

“Thanks. I’ll tell her.” Sean stood up. “I don’t know if I’m ready for this.”

Catherine came around the desk and laid a hand on his arm. “I don’t think anyone is. You just do the best you can. Now, lets get those tests.”


When he got home, Sean found Kemara on the computer.

“Hey, what’re you doing?” he asked pulling up the chair she’d used earlier.

She smiled at him. “Trying to work out a syllabus for that essay class. Everything OK at the apartment?”

“Yeah. I saw Peter and Emma; they were coming in as I was leaving. His family’s getting there around 3 he said.”

“Are they coming to the show tonight?”

“No. Peter said it’s such a long drive, they’ve decided to go to the matinee tomorrow.”  

Kemara nodded. “It’ll be hard for them, but I’m sure they’re really proud of Peter. Not easy watching your child go through that, even if it’s just acting.”

They were both silent for a minute remembering one Mother and Son for whom it had not been pretend.

“Speaking of kids….” Sean got up and retrieved the small plastic bag he’d set down on the table beside the door. “I got a couple of pregnancy tests from Catherine. Oh, and she recommended eating some crackers when you wake up...she said that helped her with the nausea.”

Kemara took out one of the pink boxes gingerly as if it might bite her. She turned it over and read the back. “I updated my chart. At least the temperature part,” she said.

“And?” Sean tried to keep the excitement out of his voice.

“Well, my temperature since we’ve been home is higher than it usually is at this point in my cycle…” Kemara slowly opened the box and unfolded the more detailed sheet of instructions.

Sean frowned trying to remember what that meant from their classes on natural family planning. “So does that mean you’re pregnant? If you haven’t seen that pattern before?”

“Maybe.” Kemara replaced the paper in the box.

“So are you going to use it?”

She sighed and dropped the box back in the bag. “Not right now.”

“What?” Sean felt as if he’d been slapped. “Why not?”

“I just…” She turned back to the computer, not meeting his eyes. “I’d rather wait until after the weekend. With so much going on and all. “

Sean got up and paced across the room and back, too upset to stay still. “You said you wanted a baby.”

“I do!” Now she did look at him. “Please try to understand,” she pleaded. “Everything’s still so new. And since we’ve been home we’ve had the show and moving your stuff and Easter. If I am pregnant waiting a couple of days to find out won’t change anything.”

In reply he stepped out onto the porch letting the screen door bang shut behind him.

Kemara followed and laid a hand on his back. “I’m sorry. Earlier, I thought I could do it, but -.” She snorted. “Maybe it’s like skydiving. You’re really excited on the flight up, but when you’re standing in the doorway ready to jump out, every instinct says not to move.”

He turned and pulled her close. “So you’re saying you don’t want to go skydiving after all?”

She smiled up at him. “No, but I might need a push when the time comes.”

“I think I’m already pushing,” he said regretfully. “I’m the one who should be sorry - not you.”

“No, I don’t blame you. What you said earlier - I think that’s true. I just don’t want to get my hopes and then be disappointed.”

He kissed her. “Well, we won’t talk about it any more today.”

“What time is it?”

He glanced at his watch. “About 2. Why?”

“Can we go for a walk? I was looking on that pregnancy site you found, and it says regular exercise can make you feel better.” She blushed. “If I….am….then dancing will probably be out of the question, at least later on.”

“Sure. We’ve got plenty of time before we have to get ready and put the casserole in the oven.”

“So what all did you and Catherine talk about besides my possible morning sickness?” she asked as they set off down the beach.

Excitedly, Sean began to tell her about his plans for the seminar and future classes.


​At 3:30 the couple made their way Below. There they met Clay, Kylie, Adam and the twins who had also just arrived.

"We missed you!" Kylie said, hugging them both in turn.

"And we missed you," Kemara said exchanging hugs with the others.

Adam smirked. "I'm sure you had plenty of other things to do besides miss us."

"It's true," Sean grinned. "The whole time we said things like, 'I really wish Adam was here to say something sarcastic; don't you?'"

All of them laughed, including the angel of death.

"We've got the bunny," Caleb said. He pulled out his phone and showed them a picture of a small gray and white rabbit. "He's very calm and doesn't mind being handled."

"That might not be true when he gets older," Edward warned. "But for right now, he shouldn't mind Belle too much. We'll explain to JenniAnn and Andrew how to approach him and pick him up, and they can show her."

"He's adorable!" Kemara said. "Thank you guys, so much!"

The Tunnels bustled with people and the air was full of delicious smells. Kemara sniffed cautiously, and sighed in relief when her stomach didn’t protest.

The group made their way to the kitchen where they found Tiva overseeing preparations. Emma waved at them from across the room where she was dividing up silverware.

"We brought a sweet potato casserole - my mom's recipe," Kemara said, setting the still warm dish on a counter and giving Tiva a hug. "It's cooked; just needs to be warmed up a little."

"Wonderful!" Tiva accepted Sean's kiss on her cheek. "It's so good to see you two! Yakov and I can't wait to hear all about your trip."

Kemara smiled. "I have my iPad with me in case anyone wants to see photos."

"Definitely. And I'm sure Vincent will, too," Tiva assured her.

"Where is he?" Kemara asked. "We've got time now. Or do you need some help in here?"

Tiva waved a hand. "No, everything’s under control. Vincent and Yakov are with Arthur, Monica and Liam in the library. Liam's going to ask the questions, and he wanted to do it in Hebrew. He's been studying so hard, bless him."

As they walked down the corridor, Sean chuckled. "Kinda funny when you think about it - the son of an angel and a Lutheran participating in a Jewish Passover Seder in Hebrew."

"And a Seder that's attended by more Christians than Jews," Kemara added.

Liam's voice saying something in Hebrew met them as they neared the chamber. "Mah nishtanah ha-lailah hazeh mikol ha-leilot."

They heard Monica say something in reply.

"Woah, so that's what Hebrew sounds like in an Irish accent," Sean whispered. "Wild."

Kemara giggled and peeked around the doorway.

Liam sat at the table with an open book. Rabbi Yakov and Monica were on either side of him. Arthur, Vincent, Andrew and JenniAnn were ranged around the room. Belle sat on Vincent’s lap, watching Liam in fascination.

JenniAnn caught sight of them. “Hi! Come on in.”

The next few minutes were taken up with hugs and greetings.

“We don’t want to interrupt,” Sean said when things had quieted down a bit. “Liam you sounded great. I have no idea what you were saying!”

The boy smiled. “It’s interesting.”

Yakov ruffled Liam’s hair. “He’s done very well. Why don't you and your dad come with me to see that the tables have been set properly?”

Arthur got up. “That sounds like a good idea! Maybe we can steal a bite from the kitchen while we’re at it.”

“With Tiva there I doubt we’ll have the chance!” Yakov laughed as the trio left. “I remember once….”

Belle began to fuss, and Vincent chuckled. “You don’t like it when Liam’s not around do you?”

Monica smiled. “He’s so good with her.” She came over to hug Sean and Kemara. “Did you enjoy your trip?”

“So much!” Kemara said. “I’ve been there three times now, and I haven’t come close to seeing everything.”

“We have some pictures from County Kerry, Vincent. Kemara said your family’s from there?” Sean asked as they found seats.

Vincent eagerly took the iPad from Kemara “Yes. Catherine took some photos, but I’m sure March looks very different from September.”

“Probably a lot greener,” Kemara said. She showed him how to swipe through the slideshow. “We drove down and stayed in Kenmare for a couple of nights and did the Ring of Kerry.”

Sean shuddered. “That can be scary for the driver!” he said. “The tour buses go clockwise, and everyone else goes counterclockwise. Problem is the roads are really narrow so sometimes you come around a blind curve and meet a bus practically head on.”

Kemara nodded. “I had to shut my eyes a few times. And we went out to Skellig Michael, too. It was amazing.”

“Ah, that’s one of my favorite places,” Monica said, leaning in to look at the photo of a rocky island with hundreds of hand-carved steps leading to the remains of an ancient monastery.

“So, do you remember when it was, uh, in business?” Sean asked, grinning.

The angel looked wistful. “It was very peaceful….Except for that wee Viking attack in 823,” she added thoughtfully.

Kemara laughed at the expression on Sean’s face. “I thought you learned your lesson after the ‘flaming sword’ incident,” she teased.

“What is this place?” Vincent asked stopping on a photo.

“That’s Ceide Fields,” Sean said. “it’s a peat bog in County Mayo where they’ve found evidence of a stone-age civilization at least 5,000 years old. Apparently, the peat preserves things really well. There’s a museum where they put on display the things they’ve found - tools and stuff like that - an entire oak tree.”  

Vincent shook his head. “It sounds fascinating.”

“They found casks of butter still sealed in wooden barrels,” Kemara added. “I don’t think anyone’s been brave enough to try eating any though!”

Their laughter was interrupted as Catherine came in. “Hello! Tiva says we’re ready to get started.”

“I’ve never been to a Seder,” Sean said as they joined the Tunnel residents in the dining hall. “Hope I don’t mess up.”

“There’s a book - like a missal - so you can follow along,” Kemara assured him.

Catherine smiled. “There’s a lot of symbolism and ritual before we get to the actual meal. As a Catholic you’re probably used to that.”

Sean laughed. “Very true! Huh...I wonder how much the Catholic church borrowed from Jewish tradition then?”

“I’m sure Rabbi Yakov and Father Mike could go on for hours about that,” JenniAnn said as they found places at the long tables.

“And so could you,” Andrew teased. “Vincent why don’t I take Belle to the nursery so you can have your hands free?”

“Regrettably, I think that would be a good idea,” Vincent passed the toddler to her father.

JenniAnn sighed. “Maybe she can join us next year.”

“I’m sure she will,” Catherine soothed. “She’s talking so well already.”

Kemara wondered if she and Sean would have a baby sleeping in the nursery by this time next year. She looked across the table at him and knew he was thinking the same thing.

The glasses were filled with red wine or grape juice, and Rabbi Yakov intoned the kiddush, or opening blessing, and the Seder meal began.        

Monica and Arthur beamed with pride as Liam asked “Why is this night different from all other nights?.” with only a little stumbling.

When they rose to fill their plates from the array of dishes that had been set out, Sean found himself next to Catherine in line. She raised her eyebrows and he glanced around quickly to be sure they weren’t overheard.

‘She wouldn’t use it,” he said quietly. “She wants to wait until after the weekend.” He looked over at his wife who was moving slowly through the line, her plate only half full.

Catherine nodded. “Hard to wait though,” she said sympathetically.

Sean nodded and put a roll on each of their plates. “Yeah. I just….wanna jump in with both feet, you know?” He grinned. “That’ll drive her crazy.”

“I’m sure she’ll love it,” Catherine said. “At least at first!” she warned.

“Don’t you want something else?” Sean asked Kemara as he sat down. “You’re not eating much.”

She shook her head. “I’m not that hungry right now. Guess I’ve gotten wary after being sick so often.”

JenniAnn looked surprised. “You’re still throwing up?”

“Yeah, a few times.” Kemara blushed and kept her eyes on her food.

Vincent frowned. “Perhaps you should speak to Father or Portia.”

“I think we know what’s causing it,” Sean said cautiously, watching Kemara. To his relief, she nodded.

“Yep, I’m fine.” She turned to Catherine. “So, how many people are coming to the party on Sunday?”

Catherine smiled. “I haven’t seen the list today, but the last time I checked, every child old enough to walk was on it - including most of the teenagers. Add the adults….I’d say you’re going to have quite a crowd.”

“My sister’s bringing her five,” Sean said. “She said the oldest two are looking forward to seeing Jacob and Liam again.” He smirked. “Actually, I think Kelly has a little crush on Liam. Ciara said she’s mentioned him a few times and asked if he’ll be there.”

Andrew chuckled. “I think he’s pretty devoted to Belle these days.”

“And she just loves him,” JenniAnn said. “It’s so sweet.”

When the dinner was over the JCS cast members said their farewells and headed to the theater.

“How’re you feeling?” Sean asked as he and Kemara left the blue room with Emma and Peter.

“Pretty good so far,” she said. “Peter, is your family settling in OK?”

He nodded. “Yeah, Dad called when they got to the hotel and said they’d probably go to bed early. But we’ll have breakfast with them in the morning.”

“I think Peter’s mom and grandma are a little worried about the show - how they’ll react and all.” Emma said. “I’m glad they’ll be in the skybox where they can have some privacy.”

“I’m just so thankful Joshua came up with that finale,” Kemara said as they stopped outside the men’s dressing room. “Things would be so bleak without it.” She stretched up to give Sean a kiss. “See you in a bit.”

Fifteen minutes later Sean joined the rest of the cast gathered backstage. Anxiously, he scanned the group for Kemara.

Violeta, too, was looking around. "Where's Kemara? She was here a minute ago."

"She's in the bathroom throwing up," Gloria said. "I was walking by when she ran in there."

"Oh, I hope she doesn't have the flu or something," Violeta said.

To Sean's surprise, the other women exchanged glances and as one, looked at him. He sighed and held up his hands. "Don't look at me! I think so, but she doesn't."

Violeta was confused. "What?"

"Well, we probably shouldn't speculate, until Kemara says something herself," Diana said. "But nausea and vomiting are usually signs of pregnancy."

The young angel squealed and clapped her hands. "Awesome!"

"Yes, it is," Diana agreed. "But until we know for sure, I suggest we don't say anything to her about it."

Violeta nodded solemnly. "I won't."

"Ten minutes, everybody," Andrew said coming over.

The others headed onstage, but Sean stayed behind waiting for Kemara. Diana caught Zeke's eye and they joined him.

The younger man smiled at them sadly. "She had me get a pregnancy test from Catherine this morning, but then she wouldn't use it."

Diana put a comforting hand on his arm. "Don't take it personally. And don't think it means she doesn't want a baby."

"That's just it - she told me she does." Sean shook his head, bewildered. "So why won't she find out for sure?"

"Because even though she knows you'll be there for her, she's the one who has to deal with morning sickness, hormones, weight gain and birth at the end of it. All that together can be pretty scary."

Zeke nodded. "I felt helpless at some point when Diana was pregnant with all our kids - and lots of times since! It's just part of being a dad."

"And a mom," Diana added with a smile.

"A dad...." Sean smiled. "Yeah, I guess that's true. So what can I do to help?"

"Most of all be patient," Diana said. "Her hormones are all over the place, and she might not react the way you'd expect. Just go with it."

"And be prepared for her to get irritated because you're being so patient," Zeke chuckled. "Diana tried to pick a fight a couple of times."

His wife shrugged. “I had really crazy mood swings with all my pregnancies. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!”

“Are you guys talking about me?”

They turned to see Kemara, looking pale and shaky, standing behind them.

Sean blushed. “Umm…”

“I don’t mind.” Kemara wrapped an arm around his waist and leaned against him. She smiled at Diana and Zeke. “He really wants a souvenir,” she joked.

Zeke grinned. “Best kind there is. I gotta run. Hang in there, you two!” He hurried down the hall towards the stage.

Diana was looking at Kemara. “If you want to wait out a couple of songs until you feel better, I’m sure everyone would understand.”

Kemara shook her head. “No, I’m OK now.”

“Well, I still have some of the tea Maryam gave me when I was pregnant with Manny. I’ll bring it tomorrow - just in case.”

“Thanks, Diana.”

As the overture began the three of them made their way onstage to join the others. 

Saturday, April 4

“I’m starting to sense a pattern here,” Sean joked setting a glass of ginger ale on Kemara’s bedside table.

She looked up at him, still drowsy. “Tell me about it! Good thing I don’t have a regular 9 to 5 cause I’d be late every day.”

“Yeah, I was reading about that just now.” He helped her sit up and handed her a couple of crackers.

“Oh?” Kemara smiled at her husband. His enthusiasm for all things baby was so adorable, she hoped he wouldn’t be disappointed.

He nodded. “Yup. The baby grows all of its organs in the first three months.”

“Wow.” Kemara nibbled a cracker and tried to wrap her mind around that.

“That's what it said. And - if you got pregnant that first night, let’s say…” They both smiled remembering that awkward encounter. “Then you’d be about four weeks along now.” At her frown, he shrugged. “Hey, I looked at your chart, and that’s how they count it.”

She grinned. “You’re going to know more about my pregnancy than I am,” she teased.

“So you think you are, then?”

Kemara sighed. “Sean, I don’t know…” She set down her glass and took his hand. “I hope so, but until I see the pink line, or plus sign or whatever, I just won’t believe it.”

“Until I see the marks of the nails in His hands and feet and put my hand into His side, I will not believe,” Sean paraphrased.

“I don’t think it’s as serious as that!” Kemara said, laughing. “But yeah, Joshua knows what a doubting Thomas I am, even now.”

He shook his head. “I feel kinda sorry for Thomas - he gets such a bad rap.”

“He sure does. So what are our plans for the morning, oh head of the household?”

Sean took a cracker for himself. “You still want to get Belle a stuffed bunny to go with the real one, right?”

“If I can find one that looks the same, sure.”

“Well, I happen to know there’s a huge toy store in Manhattan that should have something. Hurry up and get dressed and we’ll go.” He yanked the covers back.

Kemara rolled her eyes. “You in a toy store - that is a scary thought!”

“No insults, please! Get moving!”

An hour later they were standing on Fifth Avenue in front of FAO Schwarz. A man dressed as a toy soldier was ushering customers inside.

Kemara gaped. “This whole thing is nothing but toys?

Sean took her arm, tugging gently. “Yup. Close your mouth; someone might think you’re a tourist.”

“And no self-respecting New Yorker would want that,” Kemara muttered as they joined the throng of kids and adults flowing through the doors.

Sean got his bearings. ‘Let’s see….the piano from BIG is over there….and the candy shop is back there…Legos are on the second floor...”
“Candy shop?” Kemara asked, wishing she had about three more pairs of eyes. The area just past the entrance was filled with stuffed animals in all colors and sizes: a giraffe taller than Sean, tiny monkeys with paws that clasped with velcro around your finger, and creatures she'd never seen outside of a Discovery channel documentary.

“So you do still have a sweet tooth,” he grinned. “Yeah, one of those fill-up-a-bag for $15 a pound kinda things.”

“We’ll go there before we leave.” Wandering over to the nearest display Kemara picked up a white seal. “I had a whole collection of these when I was little - white and gray and black - all sizes. I remember having them with me when I was three and in the hospital for double pneumonia.” She sighed and put the toy back.

A few paces further on, she stopped again. “Oh, look!” It was a lion, the most lifelike Kemara had ever seen.

Sean hummed “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” under his breath, and she smiled. “Remember I said you needed to sing that to our kids?”

“Yeah.” He ran a hand over the lion’s shaggy mane. “If - if you are - we’ll come back and get one. It’s a good reminder of Joshua, too.”

“The Lion of Judah…” Kemara said. “We could have Owen paint the nursery to look like the African plains.”

Sean put an arm around her. “I like that idea. And you make a very good lioness,” he teased.

She giggled. “It’s the lioness who’s in charge, right? While the male sits around looking regal?”

“I dunno about regal looking, but I like the sitting around part!”

After another ten minutes of browsing - "A badger?" Sean asked. "What kind of kid wants a stuffed badger?" - they found a small gray and white bunny Kemara knew Belle would love.

“Come on!” Sean said. “You’ve gotta see the piano!”

"I wonder if you could get a whole bunch of folks together, assign each one a note and play something besides chopsticks?" Kemara asked as they watched two little girls skipping back and forth across the huge keys.

Sean's eyes lit up. "I bet the Friends could do it!"

Kemara laughed. "I just remembered that scene from The Goonies - 'I can't tell if it's a C sharp, or if it's a B flat'."

'You hit the wrong note, we'll all be flat,' he finished, grinning. "Awesome movie."

Reluctantly, Kemara turned away from the piano. "Now where to?"

They built a tower out of LEGOs, watched the Sesame Street Muppet maker at work, and filled two bags with sweets of every description.

Kemara was looking for the shortest checkout line when Sean stopped her. "Wait. Let's each pick out one thing for ourselves."

She blushed​, uncomfortable with the notion​ at the ancient age of 34. "Really?"

"Sure. When we were little, mom and dad brought Ciara and me here once a year in the summer. The rule was each person got to pick one thing - within limits - no $2,500 Star Wars foosball tables, and candy doesn't count."

"So what did your parents decide on?"

He shrugged. "It varied. Dad liked to get toy guitars or ukuleles and see if he could tweak them enough to sound good, or at least decent. Mom would usually get things we could play with outside like stomp rockets or a glow-in-the-dark soccer ball - that was fun."

"You go first then. I need to think about it."

Sean went at once to a wall covered with die cast cars and trucks. Scanning along it, he found an old fashioned fire truck. "This one."

Kemara took it from him, "Look at the detail. I never really played with cars, but I did like Transformers." She gave it back to him. "That's perfect for you."

"Your turn," he prompted with a smirk.

She pretended to scowl. “You’re enjoying this way too much. What would you say if I wanted a Barbie doll?” She took a threatening step towards the glaringly pink aisle.

Sean winced. “Anything but that! Do you have any idea how humiliating it is for a ten-year-old boy to be forced to play Barbies with his five-year-old sister?”

“Poor baby!” Kemara patted his cheek. “Well, I won’t torture you.” She found the seals again and chose a larger gray one which she tucked into their basket. “After I was a teenager, mom said toys were for kids. So I just started begging for the latest CD player instead.”

“Well, music gear was a matter-of-course in our house,” Sean chuckled. ‘Between my dad’s sound equipment and various instruments, my mom’s guitars and us kids with our stereos, it was like sound wars every day.”

Kemara laughed as they found a register. “And the dancing, too!”

“Oh, yeah. We didn’t have the nice basement then, so we just put down a big sheet of plywood in the playroom. It was right above the kitchen, and mom said she used to watch the chandelier bounce up and down while she was cooking dinner.”

“Poor Megan! It’s a wonder she and Keith survived you and now the grandkids.” Unbidden, she wondered what her in-laws would say to news of another grandchild.

“We’ve got just enough time for lunch before we have to head over to the theater,” Sean said when they were back on the street. “You feel like anything in particular?”
Kemara looked around. She had yet to be sick today, and she didn’t want to take any chances. She caught sight of a familiar vehicle just outside the entrance to Central Park.

“There’s Monica!”

They joined the line of people at the brown food truck with Bread of Life painted in yellow on the side. As they waited, Kemara studied the other patrons - mostly tourists - but a few might have been homeless. She knew that in a city as eclectic as New York someone raggedly dressed might have five dollars or five million.

In front of them stood a blond woman who looked to be in her mid-20s, dressed in business clothes and typing on her phone. When she got to the counter, she looked up only long enough to order a turkey and swiss sandwich and a diet soda. But Kemara noticed that she took what appeared to be a business card out of her wallet and gave it to Monica with her money.

The angel glanced down at the card, but only chatted pleasantly as she put the food and the utensils Liam passed her into a plastic bag which she handed to the woman.

“Kemara and Sean, how are you?” Monica asked as she caught sight of them.

“We’re good,” Sean said. “Hey, Liam. Your mom’s not making you do all the work, is she?”

The little boy shook his head. Like Monica he wore an apron over his True Light T-shirt. “No, sir. She won’t let me do enough!”

The adults laughed and Monica hugged him. “That’s my hard working lad! What can I get you two? We’re about to close up, but there’s still plenty left.”

“Let me get a BLT and a Sprite,” Kemara said.

“And I’ll take chicken salad and a Coke,” Sean added. He handed Monica a twenty dollar bill. “So what happens to the leftovers?”

Monica gave them their sandwiches in cardboard boxes, and filled two paper cups. “Some of it will keep, but what won’t - like the rest of that chicken salad - I’ll bring to the theater.”

Sean grinned. “Awesome!”

“Ummm…” Kemara glanced around, but they were the only customers. ‘I couldn’t help but notice the blond lady in front of us….” She let the sentence trail off.

Sean looked surprised. “What blond lady?”

Monica shook her head. “Let me close up, and then I’ll tell you.” She came out and Sean helped her lower the panel over the service counter and lock it securely. She showed them around to the other side where a door led inside.

“It’s like an RV!” Kemara said as Monica gestured for her and Sean to sit at the small dinette. The angel sat on the sofa opposite with Liam beside her.

“I suppose it used to be. There’s a wee bedroom in the back as well.”

“And a TV,” Liam added.

Monica ruffled his hair. “We don’t usually have that on,” she said. “Vincent and JenniAnn tend to make sure Liam always has at least some reading to do.”

The little boy looked startled. “Ooops! I forgot to do it today!”

“Well, go ahead and get started, and you can finish at the theater.”

He scurried down the short hallway, and they heard a door shut.

Monica turned to Kemara and Sean. “You were asking about the woman ahead of you.”

“Yeah, what did you see that I missed?” Sean said.

“She gave Monica a business card or something like it when she paid,” Kemara explained. “This sandwich is really good, Monica.”

Sean nodded. “Yes, mine too. So did the card mean something in particular?”

“Thank you,” Monica smiled. “Yes, the card was from someone connected to a human trafficking task force. That young woman has already met with an officer and now she needs a safe house.”

“And you gave her that information?” Kemara asked, fascinated.

The angel got up and took a sandwich wrapper from a box beside the counter. She spread it out on the table between their drinks.

“I don’t -,” Sean began.

“On the edge!” Kemara pointed. “See it?” In tiny print were an address and phone number.

He frowned. “But that’s just the contact info of the company that made the wrapper, right?”

“I bet that’s what you’re supposed to think,” Kemara said excitedly. “Unless someone’s told you otherwise. Plus, it’s on the inside of the wrapper.”

“Yes,” Monica said. “I only use these when someone hands me a certain card or orders a specific item that’s not on the menu.”

Sean sat back and whistled. “Not bad. Someone could get hold of a card maybe, but unless they’re told about the address ahead of time it won’t help them.”

“I burn the cards so they can’t be reused,” Monica said. “When they change the safe house, Catherine gives me a new set of wrappers.”

“That’s amazing,” Kemara said. “Oh, I meant to ask when would be a good time for me to hang out with you and Liam? Arthur said True Light wants an article about your truck in their newsletter?”

Monica smiled. “Ah, yes; he suggested it to them. Whenever works for you is fine. Liam’s usually with me in the afternoons once his classes are done - one of the Helpers brings him wherever I happen to be parked.”

Kemara glanced at Sean. “I’ll...let you know next week once things have calmed down a bit.”

“Good idea.” He looked at his watch. “We’ll head on out and let you get finished up here, Monica.”

“We’ll see you in a little while,” the angel said, opening the door for them.


At St. Genesius, they found Peter and Emma in the office. Emma was sitting on the couch, but Peter appeared to have been pacing.

“Hi,” Kemara said. “We’re a bit early, is that okay?”

“Sure, come on in,” Peter waved.

They settled into chairs, and Emma smiled at Kemara.

“How’re you feeling today?”

While Kemara had no doubt the question was sincere, she could tell her friend’s main focus was on her fiance. “Pretty good, so far. We had lunch at Monica’s food truck.

“So, is your family settling in alright?” Sean asked as Peter distractedly continued to pace.

The other man chuckled and made a visible effort to calm down. “Guess it’s obvious, huh?”

“Just a bit,” Kemara said sympathetically. “Are you worried about how they’ll react?”

Peter resumed walking, striding from one side of the small room to the other. “Yeah. And I don’t even know why really. I mean, it’s just a play, but -.”

“Peter, come sit down,” Emma suggested.

Reluctantly, he sat beside her on the couch. She took his hand and held onto it tightly.

Peter ran his free hand through his hair. “I just….keep remembering…..I guess I was about six or so, and I was learning to skateboard. I got going too fast, hit a rock and wiped out completely - knees, arms elbows - just a mess.”

Sean winced. “Man, I had a few spills like that.”

Peter nodded. “And I had plenty more, but this was the first. So I make it back to the house and I’m bawling and trying to climb the steps. Mama comes to the door, takes one look at me covered in blood and starts screaming, ‘Oh, my baby’!” He threw up his hands dramatically, and his listeners chuckled.

“So there we were on the porch, both hysterical when Abuela came out to see what was going on. She looked me over, and she said, ‘Are you dying, mijo?’ And she was so calm that I stopped crying and thought about it. I wasn’t sure what dying was, but I didn’t think I was doing it. Finally I said, ‘No, Abuela’.” He stuck out his lower lip making Emma and Kemara giggle.

“She went to Mama and patted her and said, “MIja, it’s just scratches. Run bring me some clean rags’.”

“While Mama was doing that, Abuela helped me into the kitchen. She put cold water on the rags and cleaned me up. That hurt, and I cried a bit more. But she just kept talking to us both - I don’t remember about what - just chatter I guess. When she’d washed off most of the blood, she had Mama bring her the honey jar.”

“‘Why, honey, Abuela?’” I asked her.

“‘So you will stay sweet, of course,’” she said.

“Awww…” Emma and Kemara chorused. Peter blushed.

“Mama smiled and said I was already sweet,” he continued. “I was glad she’d stopped crying because I didn’t like her being upset. Abuela explained that the honey worked better than those expensive medicines and didn’t hurt when you put it on like iodine would.”

"So she put honey on the scrapes, bandaged me up and told me to stay away from bears,” Peter said grinning. “She made Mama a cup of coffee and me hot chocolate. And all was right in my little world.”

His breath caught, and Emma rubbed his back. “And...and I can’t help thinking that what they’re going to see tonight is a lot more than a few scrapes - even if it is just makeup. I don’t know how Mama will handle it.”

“She’ll have your abuela and your dad there with her,” Emma soothed.

Peter nodded, wiping away tears. “Yeah. It just makes me wonder what was going through Joshua’s mind, knowing that Maryam would be there. How could he bear it? Wanting her there because she was his mom, but at the same time wishing she would stay away so she wouldn’t be hurt.”

Emma wrapped an arm around his shoulders. “She wanted to be with him, I know. He couldn’t have kept her away if he’d tried. She understood that it was what he had to do - what they both had to do.”

“I know, I just wish that….” He trailed off.

Emma thought for a minute. “Peter, when - when Jaz died....”

He looked at her. “What?”

“Well, I just wondered how they managed then.”

Peter took a deep breath and sat up. “A lot of it’s just a blur, you know? They loved Jaz, and it hurt them to lose her, but they were more worried about me. I realize now they must’ve been pretty scared about what I might do. But at the time, I was too wrapped up in myself to notice.”

“But they were there?” Sean asked. “Your parents and your grandma?”

“Definitely.” Peter smiled sadly. “My brother, too. Abuela made sure I ate - she actually lived with me for quite a while after Mom and Dad went home. But they all stayed with me for about a week. I don’t remember my parents doing anything in particular, but I knew they were there, and that helped...anchor me, I guess.”

“And we got through it…” He sighed. “Thanks. I hadn’t thought about that in a long time.” He squeezed Emma’s hand. “But you’re right. we all made it through that with Joshua’s help, and we’ll make it through tonight.”

A car door slammed in the parking lot, and Sean looked out the window. “That’s the Wilsons.”

Peter’s phone beeped. “Dad says they’re leaving the hotel now.” He got to his feet. “I’d better go make sure everything’s OK in the skybox.”

Emma stood up too. “I’ll come with you.”


Kemara met Diana in the ladies dressing room where the women were getting ready.

“Here’s the tea,” the older woman said handing her a small metal box. “I like to use tea bags so I gave you some of those. Just fill one, steep for five minutes and add a little honey. I had a cup first thing in the morning, but do what works best for you”

“Thanks. This is the first day I haven’t been sick since we got home,” Kemara said raising the lid a fraction and taking an appreciative sniff of the spicy mix.

Diana smiled sympathetically. “Well, if you are pregnant it’s probably going to get worse, so enjoy the reprieve while you can.”

Kemara traced the flower pattern on the boxes lid. “I think I am. Sean’s right - I have all the symptoms, and I just feel...different.”

“Are you excited?” Rose asked.

“Yeah, but at the same time I don’t want to get my hopes up, you know?” Kemara said, putting the tea in her bag. “Sean’s getting impatient though - he doesn’t like me being sick.”

Rose frowned. “Max wouldn’t like it if it was me, either.”

“The guys feel helpless,” Diana explained. “You have to give him things to do.”

“Oh, he’s already researching everything about pregnancy,” Kemara assured her. “He should be the one having a baby, not me!”

They laughed and left the dressing room.

“Has anyone seen Peter?” Andrew asked as they joined the others backstage. “Or Zeke and Emma for that matter.”

“I think they’re in the blue room,” Shane volunteered. “I saw Emma and Zeke go in about ten minutes ago, so I figured Peter’s there.”

“His parents and grandmother are here, aren’t they?” Adam asked.

Kylie nodded. “Clay and I were in the lobby when they got here. His mom seemed pretty emotional already.”

Andrew frowned. “I hate to disturb them, but it’s almost time to -.” He broke off at the sound of a door opening.

“Sorry,” Peter said as the three joined them. “I just need to talk to Joshua.”

“No problem.” Andrew assured him. “Who wants to lead us in prayer?”

“I will,” Emma offered. Everyone clasped hands. “Lord, we ask you to bless our efforts this afternoon so that we can reach those who need to hear your message of love and forgiveness. Give Peter your strength, and be with his family as they watch us bring your story to life.”


During intermission, Kemara’s nausea returned. She opened the bathroom door to find Sean in the hall holding out the box of tea.

“There’s an electric kettle in the office, right?” he asked as she took it.

She smiled at his thoughtfulness. “Yes. Peter and Zeke are in there with JenniAnn and Diana, but I don’t think they’ll mind us interrupting.”

He chuckled. “After all this time? Nah.” He put an arm around her. “Poor, love. I was hoping you wouldn’t have to deal with it today.”

“Me too! At least once it’s over I feel better for the rest of the day. Diana said it could get worse.”

“I hope not.” Sean knocked on the office door and opened it a crack.

“Can we just grab the kettle and a bottle of water?”

“Come on in,” Peter called. “We’re almost done.”

Diana was putting the finishing touches on Zeke’s makeup while JenniAnn worked on Peter’s back.

“How’re you doing, buddy?” Sean asked him.

Peter sighed. “Pretty good. The audience is really up, and that’s helped a lot.”

“I think it’s some repeats, like this time last year,” JenniAnn said. “So they don’t need convincing.”

Kemara grinned. “After ‘Hosannah’ I had to count noses to make sure it was just our kids. There were a bunch in the audience - maybe a Sunday school class? - and I thought they were going to join in.”

“That’s an idea for next year,” Diana said thoughtfully. “We could have some kids or even some adults sitting in the house who take part for that song.”

Sean chuckled. “And hand out palm fronds right before. That’s one thing we’ve-” he gestured to Kemara - “learned from performing at schools and festivals - audiences love to be included.”

“The T-shirt cannon is certainly a success!” Kemara said as the kettle began to boil. “That was a good idea Caleb had to make them a different color from the ones we sell.”

A knock on the door interrupted them, and Andrew came in.

“Did you see them?” Peter asked him anxiously.

“Yep. They were down in the lobby, and your grandma was singing your praises to whoever would listen.”

Peter blushed. “That sounds like Abuela.”

“Your mother said you looked very handsome on Yonah. And your dad said for you not to worry about them.”

“Not so easy,” Peter muttered. “Thanks, Andrew.” He sniffed. “You know, I’m kinda glad they’re up in the skybox. Otherwise, they might join in the way Maryam and Yosef did. And I don’t think I could handle that.”

Andrew squeezed his shoulder. “I’m sure you could.”

“All done!” JenniAnn said stepping back.

Peter looked at the clock on the wall. “Let’s do this.”


The audience were reluctant to leave after applauding the finale for five solid minutes, but the crowd in the lobby thinned eventually until only the cast, crew and Peter’s family were left.

“Seems like you have quite a fan club, son!” Gordon joked as Peter and Emma waved to the last departing audience members.

“I don’t know about that,” Peter said, blushing. “I think they’re Jesus fans, really.”

“Well, I am one of them either way,” Renata said kissing her grandson’s cheek. “You were wonderful!” She kissed Emma as well. “And so were you, mija.”

Emma smiled. “Gracias.”

The elderly woman chuckled. “Not bad. Peter, you keep hold of this one.”

“That’s the plan,” Peter said, grinning. “Where’s Mama? I haven’t seen her yet.”

Renata snorted but didn’t reply.

“ a little upset,” Gordon said. “She just wanted a minute to pull herself together. I’ll go find her.”

Peter frowned. “I was afraid this would happen.”

“You know how your mama is. She has always been -,” Renata waved a hand, searching for the right word. “Emotional. The least little thing brings tears. But she is very proud of you.”

Gordon led Rosario over to them. Her face was blotchy from crying and she clutched her husband’s arm tightly as though she might fall without his support.

“Peter!” She threw her arms around him and began to cry again.

“Mama…” Peter hugged her and patted her back. “It’s okay. I’m fine.”

She mumbled something they couldn’t understand. She took a deep breath and tried again. “Seeing you up there hurting, and I couldn’t do anything…”

“If I could have everyone’s attention,” Andrew called. “Why don’t we meet in the auditorium in five minutes. If a couple of people want to help set out food and drinks that would be great.”

As the crowd moved back into the house, Peter gently disengaged himself. “Mama, let’s get something to eat. That will make you feel better.”

Rosario sniffed and wiped her eyes. “Yes, I am a little thirsty.”

In the auditorium, Caleb and Edward were filling cups with ice and setting out the leftover sandwiches and chips Monica had contributed as well as a vegetarian lasagna courtesy of Diana.

When everyone had a plate, Andrew said. “Gordon, Renata, Rosario, we’d love to hear what you thought about the show.”

“If you don’t mind sharing,” JenniAnn added. She sat beside Renata who had insisted on helping Belle eat her dinner.

Gordon set down his sandwich. “I knew Peter wanted us to see Jesus in him. And I really tried to do that, but at the same time I couldn’t help seeing my son.”

He turned to Peter. “When they were getting ready to flog you, I jumped up. I wanted to run down there and wrestle you away from them. And...I realized I couldn’t do that.”

He shook his head. “And I understood for the first time what it must’ve been like for God when that really happened - knowing that He could’ve saved his Son from that - and Jesus asked Him to! But knowing too that it must happen for all of us.” He blinked back tears. “That was a very powerful moment for me.”

“It was the same for me,” Rosario said, softly. “I was glad that Jesus’ mother was there when I could not be.” She smiled at Violeta who blushed.

Renata nodded. “We used to be Catholic, and still I pray to the Blessed Mother.” With her free hand she reached into the pocket of her skirt and pulled out a gold and garnet rosary. “I was never surprised that she stayed. What else is a mother to do? Surely, any mother would do the same. But now, I can see how strong she was. Her son could have come down from the cross, and she knew that.”

Kemara whispered to Sean. “I wish she could meet Joshua and Maryam. And Yosef too. I wish they all could.”

“I’m sure they will, eventually,” he said. “Like he said, ‘you never know’.”

Sunday, April 5

When she woke, Kemara lay still as she had every day this past week, listening to her body. Automatically, she reached for the thermometer. At the soft beeping, Sean mumbled and rolled over.

The clock read 5:02. An hour then before they had to be in the Fields of Gold for Father Mike's sunrise service.

She jotted down her temperature, and propped herself up on one elbow to face her husband. Since they’d returned from Ireland he’d been the one to wake up first, so she was going to enjoy this unexpected chance to watch him sleep.

“I have the strangest feeling I’m being watched,” he said slowly opening his eyes.

“Can’t imagine why.” She traced a finger over his features: eyes, forehead, cheekbones, lips. When she got to his nose, he went cross-eyed and she giggled. “I love you.”

He kissed her. “Love you, too.”

Things were just getting interesting when her stomach lurched. She flung herself out of bed and raced for the bathroom. Behind her, Sean swore.

As her insides turned inside out again and again, Kemara wondered if she might be dying. Surely, this couldn't be normal.

When she finally straightened up, Sean had taken out one of the pregnancy tests. “Please. Or else I’m taking you to the emergency room, because this has gone on long enough.”

“Alright.” She took the white stick and shooed him toward the door. “I’ll be out in a minute.”

When she came back to the bedroom, Kemara was empty handed. “The instructions said to leave it in one place for ten minutes. So it’s on the counter.”

"Want me to make you some toast right quick?”

“No. I’m too nervous to eat. Maybe after we get back.” Kemara wrapped her arms around his waist. “What if it isn't? What if it's something awful instead?” she mumbled into his chest.

He stroked her hair. “Have I ever told you that you worry too much?”

She managed a smile. "All the time."

They stood like that until the ten minutes had passed.

“Come on. Let’s go see.”

Gripping his hand tightly, Kemara followed him into the bathroom.

“Umm...It’s pink…” he said at last as they stared at the double lines in the little window.

“I didn’t think it would be so...obvious. Thought I’d need to compare...I guess...guess not….” She began to cry. Sean hugged her so hard she could barely breathe, and she realized he was crying too.

When they had both calmed enough to speak she said, “So you were right.”

He smirked. “Yup. What do I win?”

She quirked an eyebrow. “Let's see...Chronic sleep deprivation, 2 a.m. feedings, an empty bank account...”

“Lots of love and laughter.”

“That too.”

He grinned down at her, blushing a little. “I wish we had time to...celebrate.”

“Me too.” She laughed shakily and wiped away a few more tears. “Well, we’re going to celebrate Easter, but I know what you mean. Maybe tonight?”

“It’s a date.” He sighed happily. “Thank you, Joshua.”

Kemara rested her head on his chest. “Yes. Thank you so much.”

After a minute, Sean reluctantly let go. “Now, little Mama, hop in the shower and I’ll bring you a cup of Maryam’s tea if you aren’t going to eat anything.”

Kemara beamed at the name. “Aww....stop, you’re gonna make me start crying again - Daddy.”


The Friends were quiet as they walked to the Fields of Gold in the pre-dawn chill. Aside from a few whispers and Belle's sleepy babblings, no one wanted to disturb the peaceful scene. Mist rose from the lake, and a few birds were just waking in the surrounding forest.

Rows of chairs had been set up facing the ocean where a faint orange glow was just visible on the horizon.

The twins waved Kemara and Sean over.

"Here he is," Caleb said holding up a wire cage. Inside a small gray and white rabbit sat nibbling on carrot slices.

"Aww...." Kemara put a finger through the bars and stroked one silky ear. "He's precious. I can't wait to see what Belle thinks."

"Have JenniAnn and Andrew seen him yet?" Sean asked.

Edward nodded. "We stopped in at Willowveil for a quick cup of coffee when we got here."

At the mention of coffee, Kemara's still queasy stomach lurched sideways, and she turned away toward the lake with a muffled apology.

Sean followed her, leaving the twins staring after them in concern.

"Still feeling yucky?" He asked quietly as Monica and Arthur arrived with Liam.

Kemara nodded slightly, trying not to move too much. "Usually I feel better after I get sick, but not this morning. Maybe it's because I know what's causing it?"

He chuckled. "I doubt that's why. Maybe this is just the 'worse' part Diana mentioned." He peered at her white face anxiously. "Do you want me to take you back home?"

"That would be a novel way of telling everybody, wouldn't it? No. I'm fine." She took a few deep breaths, willing herself not to be sick.

Sean looked doubtful. "Okay. It looks like everybody's here now, so we should be getting started soon."

Sure enough, Father Mike was making his way through the crowd in his white robes, and the others hurried to find seats.

Even though she tried to pay attention, Kemara found she couldn't concentrate on the priest's words about new life and Joshua's resurrection. She clutched Sean's hand tightly and rested her other one over her flat stomach.

Sean flexed his hand slightly to loosen the death grip Kemara had on him, she didn't notice. A glance showed him the furrow between her brows that meant she was worrying.

He loved her so much, but he wished just as much that she could be more lighthearted. Not that he wanted to change her - not at all - only that he hated seeing her upset. Right now, for example, he knew he ought to be worrying himself - about Kemara’s sickness and making more room in their tiny cottage for a baby - but the only emotions in his heart were joy and thankfulness. He hadn’t stopped saying thank you to Joshua since they’d seen those two pink lines.  

As Sean had guessed, Kemara’s thoughts were in a whirl. What to do first? Call her parents tomorrow. And her doctor to set up an appointment. Did she need anything? Vitamins? Is it a girl or a boy? Need to think about names. Sean will probably want something weird like Elbert or Patience. The lion...we should go back and get it. Talk to Owen about a Lion King theme for the nursery maybe.....

Moved by impulse and not caring if the others saw, Sean raised Kemara’s hand to his lips and kissed it.

Startled, she looked at him. When he smiled, she returned it, relaxing just a little.

Before she knew it, Sean was pulling her to her feet for the closing hymn as the sun rose over the water painting the clear sky in shades of lavender and peach.

“Morning has broken, like the first morning. Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird….”

As people stood and stretched, Edward and Caleb came over with the rabbit’s cage. Kemara took it, and the four of them made their way to where the Willowveil contingent were standing by the lake. Violeta was crouched down beside Belle showing her the ducks.

The angel saw them and stood with the toddler on her hip. “Oh, Belle! Look what Aunt Kemara and Uncle Sean have for you. It’s a bunny. Bunny….”

Belle squealed and reached out for the rabbit, but Andrew held both her hands.

“Let’s sit down.” He took Belle from Violeta and settled on the ground with her in his lap.

Kemara bent down and unlatched the cage. “I’m going to let him come out on his own,” she said. Edward gave her the bag of carrot slices, and she made a trail of them from the opening onto the grass in front of Andrew.

After a moment, the rabbit hopped out and slowly followed the line of treats. Belle leaned forward, watching him intently.

"Soft, Belle." Andrew took her hand and showed her how to stroke lightly over the rabbit's back. "See?"

JenniAnn held out a piece of carrot and the rabbit ate it. Belle giggled as the animal’s teeth moved up and down in a blur.

They all watched for a few minutes as Belle and the bunny made friends.

“Let’s put him back in his cage so we can take him home,” JenniAnn suggested picking up the rabbit.

As soon as she did so, Belle began to cry, obviously thinking her new playmate was leaving.

"Belle, look here!" Sean took the stuffed toy from the gift bag and held it out. The toddler grabbed it.


The adults chuckled.

"We figured she could maul that one instead of the real thing for a while," Sean explained.

JenniAnn smiled. "She's good with the dogs, but if she bothers them too much they'll get up and move. This little guy is more delicate. We’d better get him settled in. And daddy promised to make pancakes for breakfast.” She smiled at Andrew.

“Maybe I’ll try a rabbit-shaped one,” he joked. “But I think we’d better give Mr. Bun a name.”

JenniAnn thought. “I’ve never liked names like Smokey or Spot; and the dogs have real names. What about Harvey?”

Andrew laughed. “Fine by me!” He picked up Belle. “All right. Let’s go feed our menagerie.”

“See you this afternoon!” Kemara said as the group began to break up.

Sean was looking out at the ocean. “I wonder if we could follow the beach back to our place?”

“I think so, but it would be a long walk,” Kemara shook her head. “The road is quicker.”

“We should try it sometime.” Sean smiled at her. “But not today. You need a nap. Alone,” he added when she opened her mouth. “A real nap with sleeping.”

Kemara laughed. “I’m feeling better now, but yeah, sleep would be good.”

They walked the rest of the way to Sol Mate in comfortable silence.

“Now, you go lie down, and I’ll get the eggs cooked,” Sean said when they stepped inside.

Kemara wrinkled her nose. “Gladly! I’ll have to close the door - I don’t like the smell of boiling eggs on a good day."

“OK. Sleep well.’  

Sean made the deviled eggs and then checked on Kemara. To his surprise, she was awake. She had changed out of her church clothes into jeans and a T-shirt and she lay on her back, both hands clasped on her stomach.

“I thought you were asleep,” he said, sitting beside her.

She smiled. “I did for a little bit. Then I woke up and started thinking about names. What do you want if it’s a girl?

He didn’t hesitate. “Joy.”

“Oh, I like that! I thought Miriam for Maryam, but Joy is -.”

“She can be Miriam Joy, then,” Sean said. “And we’ll call her Joy.”

Kemara nodded. “And what if it’s a boy?”

That was harder, but he’d thought about it a lot over the past few days. “Hmmm….Ian, I think.”

“And I like Gabriel,” Kemara said. “But he’d be teased to no end,” Kemara said. “So he can be Gabriel Ian, and we’ll call him Ian. That’s a nice Celtic name.”

Sean grinned. “Works for me.” He heaved a dramatic sigh. “I’m so glad we got that sorted easily and without bloodshed!”

She laughed. “I’m sure there are a hundred more things we can argue about as time goes on.”

“I like hearing you laugh,” he said soberly.

“I’m sorry about being kinda out of it during the service. I just all of sudden realized there’s so much to do to get ready. But I really am happy….” she smiled dreamily. “Very…”

He leaned down and kissed her. “Good.”

After a minute he sat up. “Are you hungry? Want me to fix you a sandwich?”

“I’ll make it. You should get changed. We’ll probably be sitting in the grass, and you don’t want to ruin your slacks.”

“Yes, Mom….” Sean rolled his eyes theatrically and went over to the closet.


“Was that your mom?”

“No, Ciara and Brad. They just pulled up, but mom and dad are right behind them.” Sean said pocketing his phone.

Kemara took one last look around the kitchen. “OK. I think we’ve got everything.” She picked up the platter of deviled eggs, and Sean lifted three plastic bags filled with Easter-themed paper plates and cups - their contributions to the festivities.

The front doors of the castle were open wide to the spring sunshine. Children raced in and out chasing each other around the brightly decorated gazebo and back.

“It looks like a carnival around here!” Kemara said as they squeezed into the bustling kitchen. She set her eggs on an empty counter. “I don’t think I recognized half the kids outside, and I thought I knew all of them.”

Monica smiled over from where she was mixing punch. “Apparently, our wee gathering attracted most of the Tunnel residents - even those families who don’t usually go Above.”

“Yep,” JenniAnn agreed. “And the kids in your dance class are all pretty outgoing.”

Kemara looked thoughtful. “I never realized that. We’ll just have to get the shy ones included - maybe we can teach everyone the Hora when we go to the Fields later.”

“But first - the egg hunt!” JenniAnn motioned to the bags of plastic eggs on the kitchen table.

“So how’re we going to hide them all?” Kemara asked. “Especially with the kids already here?”

Sean shrugged. “Need to corral them somewhere,” he suggested.

“That’s what we thought,” Diana said said coming in. “If the teens take them into the ballroom and read a story or Henry does his thing with the balloons then the rest of us can handle the eggs.”

“Henry’s got his balloons?” Sean asked looking interested.

“He’s in the gazebo now that everyone’s here,” Monica said. “And he has a tank of helium too.”

Sean grinned. “Too bad Belle doesn’t have a doll house yet. We could recreate the house from ‘Up’! I’m gonna go find him!” He hurried out.

Kemara shook her head. “Just a big kid…” she muttered.

“How are you feeling today?” Diana asked her. “Is the tea helping?”

“I felt pretty bad before and during the service - really nauseated, but it’s better now. And the tea helps as long as I can keep it down.”

The other women glanced at one another obviously wanting to ask more, but Kemara turned away. “Sean and I will start getting the kids inside.”

In the hallway she met Ciara who gave her a huge hug.

“Girl, we need to talk!” her sister-in-law stepped back and studied Kemara. “I hope my brother’s been treating you okay?”

Kemara smiled. “Yes, we do! And Sean’s been wonderful; he’s even teaching me how to cook.”

“It hasn’t been easy, I’ll tell you that!.”

They turned to see Sean in the doorway. He brought one hand from behind his back and presented Kemara with a bouquet of balloon flowers.

“Aww...Thank you! You’re so sweet!” She kissed his cheek

“Careful,” Ciara warned. “He’s really good at sucking up to people when he wants something.”

Sean looked hurt. “I have everything I could possibly want right here.” He put an arm around each of them.

“See what I mean?” Ciara rolled her eyes..

Kemara smiled. “We need to get the kids inside so the adults can hide the eggs.”

“Brad and I will handle that  - we’re experts,” Ciara said.

Laughing, they left her to it joining the other adults in the kitchen.

“What we’re thinking is to use this floor, one up, and outside all around Willowveil as far as Serendipity,” JenniAnn explained. “Nothing too complicated but try to put some higher up for the big kids and ground level for the smaller ones.”

“We’ve also thrown in a couple of golden eggs that the kids can turn in for prizes,” Andrew added. “But those don’t need any special treatment.”

They listened as the children trooped into the ballroom, chattering excitedly.

Shane peeked into the hall. “OK. The door’s shut.”

“Then everybody fill a bag,” JenniAnn said. “We should have enough to go around.”

Kemara decided to go up to the second floor and work her way down. As she passed the family tree on the landing, she glanced at it, automatically searching out their nest. Her eyes saw the change, but it took a minute for her brain to catch up.

She clutched the bannister as a wave of dizziness washed over her.

“Careful!” Sean dropped his bag and raced up the stairs. He grabbed her arm. “Are you OK? Here, you need to sit down.”

Kemara shook her head, still numb with shock. “Look….”

Their birds were now perched on the edge of the nest. Inside were two tiny eggs, sanded and polished to a high gloss. One was stained rich purple, the other emerald green. If not for the swirling wood grain, Kemara might have thought they were jewels.

“Holy s-”

Kemara put a hand over his mouth.

“The holy part’s right for sure,” she said, tears filling her eyes. She scooped out the eggs with a hand that trembled. They lay in her cupped palm seeming almost to glow from within.

“Two…” Sean whispered.

Kemara sank down onto the top step. “I knew.”

“Knew what? That you were pregnant?” Sean sat beside her. He took the purple egg and turned it over and between his fingers.

“No. About the twins. Remember when we babysat for Manny?”

He looked confused. “Yeah….”

“And we all fell asleep on the couch?”

He nodded.

“I dreamed that Joshua was handing you and me two babies. I couldn’t see their faces, but one was wrapped in a purple blanket and the other’s was green. I’d forgotten that part until just now.”

“Wow….I just...I don’t know what to think….”

“Does this mean we have permission to tell everybody?” Kemara stroked the green egg. “I thought you were supposed to wait until later. I haven’t read much about being pregnant, but I do know that.”

Sean made a visible effort to collect himself. “Well, since you found them just now when everyone’s here, I’d say Joshua’s okay with it.”

“It just feels like we’re saying ‘look at us’ all the time,” Kemara said.

“What do you mean?”

“We had a big wedding on St. Patrick’s Day and that’s a major holiday here anyway. Then, we go to Ireland for two weeks which some folks - like Vincent - will never get to do. Now we’re having a kid. And not just one kid, but two.” Kemara blushed. “Guess I’m just afraid that people might think we’re getting more than our share.”

“To whom much is given, much is expected,” Sean quoted. “We’re not the first people to do any of those things. It’ll all even out, I promise.”

She nodded. “We’d better get our eggs hidden.”

“But not these two!” He handed her the purple egg. “Maybe we should wait until later this afternoon. Maybe after we eat?”

“Sounds good.” Kemara let Sean help her to her feet, and together they climbed to the second floor.


While the children hunted - with Violeta, Ivy and the Wilson kids to supervise - the adults packed up the food for a buffet feast in the Fields of Gold. Adam, Kylie, Clay, Edward, Caleb, Henry, Shane and several Tunnel residents volunteered to go ahead to set up tables and drive over drinks and ice.

“How’s the bunny settling in?” Zeke asked as they worked. “Belle seemed completely in love this morning.”

“More importantly, does he have a name yet?” Catherine added.

“His name is Harvey, and he’s doing fine,” JenniAnn said. “Things got a lil crazy with Belle, though. I was going to put his cage in the living room, but she howled when he was out of her sight. So, he’s in her room for now.”

Kemara smiled. “I seem to remember always getting animals for Easter. One year it was a pair of white ducks, and another year it was a guinea pig that I named Gertie. She had long blond hair like the little girl in E.T. and that was my favorite movie.”

“Not to change the subject,” Catherine said, “But these are gorgeous.” She showed them a bowl of hard boiled eggs that had been dyed lush colors like navy blue and golden brown.

“Oh, Kylie and Clay brought those. She said they’re dyed with natural things like onion skins and tea,” JenniAnn said.

“I want to know who made these.” She held up a tray of chocolate “bird nests”. Each sat inside a cupcake wrapper and was filled with small candy eggs.

“Oh how adorable!” Catherine marvelled. “Jacob will love them.”

“I think Monica and Arthur brought them,” Sean said. “I heard Liam telling Ciara’s Kelly about them.”

At that moment Emma rushed into the kitchen. “JenniAnn, where are the band-aids?”

“In the hall bathroom. Why? What’s happened?” The woman looked up in alarm.

“It’s okay,” Emma assured her. “Zoe took a tumble down the gazebo steps and got a little scraped up. She just needs a band-aid and some love.”

Andrew smiled. “Well, she’ll get that. I think I have a few extra prizes, too. We’ll give her one.”

“Are they almost done out there?” Diana asked. “We’ve got the food ready to go.”

Emma nodded. “I think so. Sy went to do one last check inside, and the others are looking outside.”

“Let’s go see who won, then!” Sean said.

The teens had gathered all the children with their full baskets in front of the gazebo. Andrew set several small give bags inside and turned to the crowd.

“Did you guys have fun?” he asked.


“Glad to hear it! Now, we hid three golden eggs. If you got one, come on up here.”

Ciara’s son, Parker, and two Tunnel children whom Kemara recognized from her dance classes - a red-headed girl named April and a tall black boy named Ron, approached Andrew with their eggs.

“Open up your eggs and let’s see what you won,” the angel instructed.

Inside each egg was a carved wooden animal - a squirrel, a bear or a dolphin - and a slip of paper with a number on it.

“Cool!” Parker held up his bear, turning it this way and that.

April smiled at her squirrel which sat on her palm as if looking for nuts. Ron stroked his dolphin’s smooth back in wonder.

“I convinced Andrew that the animals should be an Easter tradition with new ones each year,” JenniAnn said.

“Kinda like the Dyeland version of Pokemon,” Max joked. “Gotta catch ‘em all!”

Those who got the reference chuckled.

“And each number gets a gift bag….” Andrew passed them out to the three winners. The bags held books by Tomie dePaola, sidewalk chalks, and crayons or colored pencils.

With a chorus of ‘thank you’s, the winners rejoined the other children who crowded around to look at the tiny animals.

“Last, but not least,” Andrew said. “I think Zoe deserves a prize for being such a trooper.” He went over to where the little girl sat between Emma and her older sister, her skinned knee covered with a large, pink bandage. “I just happen to have a little tiger who said he wants to go home with you.”

Zoe laughed as she took the carving from the small bag Andrew gave her. “Thank you! He’s so cute!”

“I’m sure everybody’s ready to eat, so we’re gonna head to the Glen of Goodness and the Fields of Gold. It’s a bit of a walk, so those of you who want to can hitch a ride behind Yonah and Starbuck in their wagon.” Andrew gestured to where Clay waited on the seat of the wagon the Romanos had donated to Dyeland for just such occasions. Yonah threw up his head and brayed, but the horse just stood patiently.

Chattering excitedly, the walkers and riders set out. Kemara and Sean helped load the food in the Jolly Green.

“Do you guys need a lift?” Andrew asked as he got behind the wheel.

“Can we? We’ll get there faster, and I’m hungry,” Kemara said. She went around to the other side of the van and Violeta slid open the door.

Sean grinned and followed her. “I can’t imagine why,” he muttered.

“Aww...Bellaluna, what’s wrong?” Max asked as the little girl fretted in her car seat.

“She’s missing Harvey,” JenniAnn said. “I thought it would be too stressful to bring him with us.”

Max took one of Belle’s flailing hands. “How about I read you Pat The Bunny later on, huh? Would you like that?”

“Har-ee bun….” Belle whined, making them all laugh.

“Oh wow….” Sean said as they came to the edge of the Fields. Tissue paper eggs hung from the trees and the buffet tables were decorated with vases of wildflowers. Several bright patchwork quilts had been spread on the grass.

Dot met them as they got out. “Let’s take the food over there and unpack it all in one place.”

“Did you bring the quilts?” JenniAnn asked as they started to unload the van.

The older woman nodded. “We always have a bunch. I pick them up at flea markets and thrift stores. Good for wrapping up new lambs or blocking out drafts. I brought the nicest ones I had. And we’ve got some tables to set up for those old folks like me who have trouble getting up off the ground.”

JenniAnn laughed. “You’re not old! And thank you; everything looks great!”

With so many willing hands, treats soon filled three long tables.

"Who would like to say the blessing?" Andrew asked as everyone crowded around.

Arthur raised a hand. “I will.” He bowed his head and the others did the same.

“Dear Lord, thank You for this beautiful day which finds us together, in the midst of the glory of Your creation.  As we celebrate Your Resurrection, may we grow ever closer to you and to each other. May Your example of selfless love inspire and comfort every one of us and continue to kindle in us a passion for helping Your children. We give thanks to you for this delicious, nourishing feast and for the joys of each others' company. Amen.”

“Amen,” they echoed, and Liam added. “That was good, dad.”

Arthur ruffled his son’s hair. “Thanks. I stayed awake all night thinking about it.”


Monica grinned. “No, your dad’s only teasing you.”

“Oh.” For a moment Liam looked disappointed but he brightened again when he saw the dessert table. “Can I have cake first?”

“No,” Arthur said firmly. “Regular food, then sweets.”

Liam sighed and went to find a place in line.

When he was out of earshot, Arthur gave Monica a sidelong glance. “That doesn’t mean I can’t have cake first, though.”

She laughed and pulled him over to the food.


When they had finished eating, Kemara and Sean wandered over to the lake and fed their leftover crumbs to the ducks.

“So when do we want to tell everybody?” Kemara felt ready to burst with the news. She didn’t want to wait another moment.

Sean shrugged. “Now’s as good a time as any.” He looked around for a suitably elevated spot.  “Over here.” One of the small cabins stood nearby, and he bounded up onto the porch. “Come on!”

When she was beside him, he cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, “If we could have everyone’s attention, please?”

"Kemara and I have a little announcement,” he said when everyone had quieted.

“Well, you’re already married so it can’t be that,” Keith joked.

Sean grinned. “Nope. This is even better.”

Beside Keith, Megan gasped and seized his hand. “You mean….?”

“We’re having a baby,” Kemara said. She held up the eggs, one in each hand. “Actually, according to Joshua, we’re having two!”

In the resulting uproar, Sean’s family and Peter’s looked confused.

“Joshua?” Ciara asked. “What does he have to do with it? He’s just an actor.”

Kemara turned to Sean in horror. “I- I wasn’t thinking! What should we say?”

Sean opened his mouth to reply when someone at the back of the crowd yelled.


A figure was just visible on the ocean, tiny at first, but rapidly growing larger, striding towards them across the water.


Lily dashed through the stunned adults, racing for the sand.

“Lily! Someone grab her!” Basil shouted.

The adults and older children all scrambled towards Lily but succeeded only in getting in each other's way.  With her single-minded focus, Lily expertly swerved in between legs and out of the reach of flailing arms.  With no hesitation, she kept running right into the water.

"My God..."  Azalea murmured as she realized her little girl was actually running on the water and directly towards Joshua.

"Josh!" Lily repeated, her arms outstretched.

Joshua laughed and pulled the child into his arms then spun on the water.

Lily's giggles dispelled the last of the adults' panic.

Gordon gaped at the two and, without taking his eyes off them, reached for Peter.  "Son... son... there is a man standing on... on that water."

Peter grinned.  "C'mon, Dad.  You know this story.  You and Mama and Abuela told it to me all the time.  Turns out little Lily has more faith than Simon Peter did at the time."

"Then... that's...  Mama, that's..." Rosario embraced her awed mother and began to sob.

"Happy Easter!" Joshua greeted as he walked towards the shoreline with a beaming Lily still in his arms.

"Happy Easter!" the Friends shouted back, sneaking sly smiles at the stunned newcomers.

"Megan, Keith, Ciara, Brad, kids, Renata, Rosario, Gordon... welcome!" Joshua continued, smiling warmly at them.  He laughed when they all nodded, still gaping at him.  

"It's so wonderful to see you all, face to face, like this."  With his free hand, he patted Renata's shoulder and squeezed Rosario's hand.  Little Kelly stared up at him, mouth agape.  Joshua smiled and lightly tousled her hair.  "How are you, Kelly?"


"Glad to hear it!  So... any chance of getting some lunch around here?"

With those words and Joshua's winning smile, the spell began to dissipate.

The children gathered around the carpenter and pulled him towards the buffet table.

Kemara hugged Joshua tightly.  "I'm so glad you came today!"

"Well, I said when two or three are gathered in my name I'm there. And since there are a whole bunch of you gathered in my name, here I am!"  Joshua's proud gaze took both her and Sean in.  "Congratulations!"

"Babies!" Lily cheered.  "Two babies!"

Joshua chuckled.  "That's right."

"I... I... thank you?" Sean choked out.  "I mean... thank you!"

Balancing Lily on his hip, Joshua hugged Sean.  

"You'll be wonderful parents," he assured, smiling at Kemara over the man's shoulder.

Peter and Emma led his parents and grandmother closer.

"Joshua..." Peter began before embracing him.  He laughed when Lily patted his head.

"Same hair," she declared.

"Abuela said we'd have some resemblance," Peter reminded, smiling tenderly at his Abuela.

Joshua nodded and reached for Renata's hand.  "I remember.  That moment was very special to me, Renata.  The three of you raised an amazing son.  I'm very honored by Peter's portrayal of me.  And the life he leads... and who he has chosen to spend it with.  Emma..."

Emma stepped forward and kissed Joshua's cheek.  "Happy Resurrection Day," she murmured.

Joshua kissed her temple.  "Thank you, my own.  And I am so glad to be spending it this way... with all of you."  His gaze landed on Sean's mother who was casting furtive glances at him.

“So, you really are God?” Megan asked.

Joshua smiled. “I Am.”

“Then...then you could heal that child.” Keith pointed at Lily.

“Lily doesn’t need to be healed,” Joshua said. He brushed some blond hair out of her face. “And she doesn’t want to be.”

Lily shook her head. “Nope! I like being me!”

Everyone chuckled.

“And we’re very glad you’re you, baby.” Azalea said, tears still falling.

“Amen.” Basil said, putting an arm around her.

For the rest of the afternoon, Joshua made time to speak with each person and got even the shyest Tunnel members to smile. The smiles grew wider when he led them all - from Father down to Ciara’s 4-year-old Erin - in an energetic rendition of the Hora.

“That was wonderful!” he said when they were collapsed on the grass catching their breaths. He glanced at the woods where twilight was already falling. “I think I’d better say goodnight. It will be dark soon, and your way back isn’t very well lit.”

Several of the children - and not a few adults - called out in protest.

Joshua held up a hand. “I’ll turn up again; you know that!” He grinned as they nodded reluctantly.

“And always when we’re least expecting it!” Max said, drawing laughter from the Friends.

The Carpenter grinned. “Of course! It’s more fun that way.”

He looked out over the field, and each person felt his eyes rest on them in turn. “I love you all so much. It’s amazing to see you gathered here. Like this, you are strong. And here -.” his gesture encompassed the mountains, pond, grasses and ocean around them. “you are strongest. Don’t forget that.”

“We won’t,” they said quietly.

“Now don’t be sad! Why don’t you sing something? Sound carries on the water, and I’ll hear you for quite a ways.”

Zeke thought for a minute. “This one’s pretty easy even if you’ve never heard it before.” He sang:

“God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives”

As Joshua turned and walked back to the shore, Diana joined in on the chorus,

“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow;
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living, Just because He lives.”

The others joined in, never taking their eyes off Joshua as he stepped onto the water.

“How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives.”

The now distant figure vanished in the setting sun as the final chorus rang out:

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives.

Works referenced:
"Morning Has Broken" by Eleanor Farjeon
The Prince of Egypt
John 20:25-"Unless I see the nail marks..."
“The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by Solomon Linda
Revelation 5:5- the Lion of Judah
Sesame Street
Luke 12:48- to whom much is given
Pat The Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
Matthew 18:20- where two or three are gathered
The Hora
"Because He Lives" by Gloria and Bill Gaither

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