see possibilities in everything. For everything
that's taken away, something of greater value has been
~~Michael J. Fox
Vincent watched as Catherine brushed out her hair then dug
through a dish, searching for the perfect jewelry.
Earrings, rings, necklace... She appeared so calm, so
poised. He felt neither.
Aware that two very blue, very intent eyes were on her,
Catherine turned from her mirror and grinned at her
admirer. "Nervous? You're staring."
Vincent bowed his head. "Perhaps."
Catherine moved away from her vanity and sat beside Vincent on
their bed. "Talk to me about it?"
"What if he..."
Catherine frowned when she noticed the old tic
resurfacing. With no cloak, Vincent was trying to hide
behind his hair. She cupped his chin. "Psyche
wouldn't have requested this introduction if she thought you and
Andrew wouldn't get along. Actually, she said he reminded
her a little of you. Something about reticence and
insanely high standards for yourselves..." Her eyes
flickered with knowing amusement. "Besides, he's an
angel. A literal angel, Vincent . He can't be
"An angel..." Vincent echoed. It was still
astounding. Despite not seeing each other in the past two
years, he and JenniAnn had kept up a regular written
correspondence. Bit by bit his godchild had revealed her
new life. First, she had told him she'd moved out of her
parents' home in Nebraska. Then she had revealed that
she'd left Earth entirely and was "in a place kinda like
Narnia... but no Aslan. Well, at least not that we can
see. No White Witch, either. Thank God."
Vincent had been so astounded by this revelation and worried it
pointed to either drug use or mental instability that he'd asked
Catherine to call Allison and Robert Chandler. That's when
he'd been assured of the reality of this place and first heard
its name: Dyeland. The Chandlers said little about it but
it was obvious they were not pleased. Still, they would
try their best to respect their daughter's choices and so must
he. In March of 2000, Vincent received a lavender-scented
missive of loopy, heart-dotted handwriting. Psyche told
him she had met someone. She'd said she thought he'd like
Andrew and that she hoped they'd meet one day but things were
"complicated." Another call to the Chandlers soon
followed. He could still recall Robert's tone of voice as
he'd muttered the shocking words: "Our daughter has run off with
an angel of death. Yippee..." Vincent had thought
this was the name of some gang, perhaps one involving
motorcycles. It was Allison who finally got through to him
that Psyche had fallen in with a literal angel of death, a
messenger of God, a psychopomp. And then, only a few days
before, Psyche herself had stood before him and told him about
Andrew. Well he remembered her giddy smile and glistening
eyes. This is Psyche in love, he had thought.
Vincent noticed that Catherine was studying him so left his
recollections alone. "An angel of death... What he's
Catherine shook her head. It was unimaginable. "I'm
sure he's seen a great deal. More than I want to
consider. Wars, famines, torture..."
"Have you asked him?" he implored.
"Well, no... But if he had seen the times you killed then
that means he saw that you were protecting me or others.
Andrew was very kind to me when I met up with him and Psyche
yesterday. More than that, he was friendly and warm.
If he knows anything about us then it hasn't made him hate
us." Catherine wrapped her arms around Vincent's shoulders
and pecked his cheek. "And that means neither does
God. Not that I ever thought He did."
Vincent looked at her with a wavering smile and nodded.
That was at least one worry lessened though not yet conquered.
"Psyche's known Andrew for a year now, Vincent. She had to
have talked to him about us." Catherine settled on her
beloved's lap and rested her forehead against his. "She
loves him. And I don't think she would love someone who
said anything against us."
"She loves him..." Vincent sighed.
"You're not really nervous about Andrew, are you?"
Vincent carefully deposited Catherine on the bed then stood to
pace. "She's only eighteen... A girl..."
"And now we come to the truth. Your little girl's grown up
and you're not happy," Catherine asserted. Though amused,
she kept her smile subdued. "I understand. I
do. Especially since she's only recently..."
Grimacing, the woman paused. The separation between her
cousin and Vincent had been painful for both. Now that it
had ended, Catherine understood Vincent's reluctance to accept
his godchild's maturity. Still, she hadn't tolerated her
father's old-fashioned sentiments when she was a teenager and
she wouldn't encourage Vincent in his. She moved to stand
in front of him, taking his hands in hers. "Vincent,
Psyche's actually reached this milestone some years later than
most girls. By the time I was eighteen, I'd already had a
serious boyfriend... several less serious ones. And I...
well... you know I wish I'd waited until I met you but seventeen
year old Cathy had other ideas."
Vincent paused. Catherine's romantic history had never
bothered him. It had never made him think any differently
about her. He loved her completely and utterly: past,
present, and future Catherine. In that moment, however,
her reference to her youthful trysts gave him reason for
concern. It was so unlike Psyche. She had always
seemed wholly uninterested in dating and all that went with
it. Some of the boys in the Tunnels, boys Vincent knew she
was fond of, had tried to woo her. Always she had been
kind and gentle yet discouraging, sometimes even trying her hand
at matching them with another girl... with no small amount of
success. On the occasions when he and Catherine would
chaperone the childrens' dances, he'd noted that Psyche always
danced when asked but, when left to her own devices, she stood
to the sides. In those moments it had always seemed to him
that his godchild was waiting for someone.
As Vincent puzzled, Catherine continued. "If it makes you
feel any better, I don't think Andrew can consummate a
relationship. And even if he could, as you've pointed out,
she's only eighteen. And he's... well, he
wouldn't. He's not in love with Psyche. I could tell
when I met with them. He loves her. Maybe in a
brotherly sort of way. Nothing more. I only mean
Psyche's come to her first love much later than most
girls. So it shouldn't really be shocking. And,
please, don't worry too much about it. It sounds like
Allison and Robert are doing enough of that for all four of us."
Vincent nodded. He mentally replayed the phone call the
Chandlers had made to him and Catherine earlier in the
week. They had sounded a trifle hysterical. Allison
was already in a panic about what this Andrew meant to her
daughter's chances at motherhood. The worries had struck
Vincent as utterly premature. Their Psyche was much too
young to be a mother. And yet...
"I'm sure it's only a phase, a crush," Catherine
continued. "Surely Psyche will want a lover eventually and
she knows Andrew isn't..." She noticed Vincent flinch and
rolled her eyes. "I really don't understand any of
you! We raised Psyche to follow her heart, to be true to
herself. You know she'd be responsible! No one said
anything about her staying a little girl forever! Allison
and Robert I can almost understand. Their side has always
been... well, conservative. Them not so much but maybe
they're leaning that way now. It happens. But
you! Vincent, why are you acting like this? I can
remember when Laura took up with Jerry and you handled that
gracefully. Psyche's entitled to her freedom as much as
"Yes..." Vincent knew that was an entirely different
Miffed, Catherine returned to her vanity and her
preparations. "I'm surprised at you."
Her soul mate said nothing in his own defense. He stood,
went to his desk, and began digging through some papers.
After finding what he sought, he approached Catherine and held
it out to her. "Who is this?"
The woman glanced at a childish drawing. "You kept that
all these years? That's Psyche's Cupid. Please put
it away, Vincent. I still curse myself every time I
remember that day. Thank God she wasn't scarred for
life. For a while I never thought she'd let that Cupid
"And you think she did?"
"Of course. She hasn't mentioned Cupid in years."
"And I stopped speaking of you to Father for a time in the
beginning. Yet you remained, always, in my heart.
Catherine, look at this drawing. Think of how you
described Andrew to me. Think, too, of when 'Cupid'
entered our lives... the very day you had Psyche Above and she
saw that dead body. If Andrew is an angel of death..."
"He... he is." Catherine had been skeptical at first but
being brought through a magical portal and then seeing the utter
and complete sincerity in the man's eyes, she hadn't been able
to maintain her doubt for long. Her years with the D.A.
had encouraged her belief that there was more to reality than
the material world. Too many witnesses and even some perps
described miraculous encounters with majestic, glowing beings...
angels. Then there was her own near-death experience,
times she had felt her mother's and father's spirits so near and
so strong, mysterious happenings since Vincent had entered her
life... Yes, Catherine believed in angels. She
believed Andrew and Psyche. She studied the scrawl some
more then tugged it away from Vincent. "My God..."
"I don't believe Psyche ever let Cupid go. She only
stopped talking about him because she saw how uneasy it made us
and her parents. She's been waiting for him. Now
she's found him."
"Andrew... an angel of death. A... a little girl sees a
man... a glowing man... she probably had no concept of an angel
of death so..."
"So she connected him to the hero of her favorite book."
Vincent nodded. "Cupid was real. He is Andrew.
This isn't a phase, Catherine. This is Psyche's life now."
"But... He... he can't be with her."
"No. He can't. You misunderstood my unease
earlier. I was not upset by the possibility of Psyche
beginning a romance. Yes, it is bittersweet to realize she
is no longer a little girl but I have always only wanted a happy
life for her. But this... The sacrifices..."
Catherine joined Vincent in gaping at the drawing in her
hand. She remembered how often he had spoken of her
sacrifices in the early days of their romance. Since then,
many of their limitations had fallen away. They had become
lovers. She had moved into his chamber. Even when
they did not make love, they soaked in the comfort and pleasure
of each other's embrace as they slept. They had conceived
a child and shared hopes and dreams for their son or
daughter. Even as they grieved for their lost little one,
they had done so wholly united. They had healed and grown
together. With Andrew, Psyche would never know any of
that. Catherine shook her head. "First loves... they
don't always last. Most don't," she reasoned, trying to
assure herself as much as Vincent.
Vincent nodded though he didn't believe the words. He'd
long had a presentiment about his goddaughter: when she fell in
love, she would fall wholly and irrevocably.
Catherine hugged him close. "This... it'll be a good
thing, regardless. Psyche seems truly happy. And
Vincent... this place... you... you can walk in the
sunlight. Psyche said we can come whenever we wish."
The man had been so focused on his concerns for his godchild
that he hadn't considered the promise of this place...
Dyeland. "But surely there are others..."
"Yes. Others whose lives there rely on secrecy as much as
our own. They wouldn't betray us. Besides, they have
angels around. It must be difficult to do anything too bad
with angels around." Catherine smiled.
Vincent saw how much joy the prospect of this new life brought
to Catherine. He remembered, too, the way Psyche's face
had lit up when she'd told him he had to come visit her in her
new home, assuring him that he would be safe. Somehow it
hadn't dawned on him that she was holding out freedom to
him. Of course they would go.... Cupid and Psyche were
waiting for them beneath the midday's sun.
Maybe it was the too frequent exposure to Psyche's beloved
picture book with its illustrations of a togaed, majestic
Cupid. Maybe it was all that time spent reading the King
James version of the Bible and the descriptions of fiery,
fearsome angels. Maybe it was the regally angelic statues
Vincent had glimpsed in his books and during nighttime
excursions Above. Whichever it was, Vincent was unprepared
for the fellow standing in front of him clad in jeans, a
T-shirt, and a red and gray flannel shirt. He looked so...
mundane and earthy.
"Hi! My name's Andrew. Vincent, it's really great to
finally meet you." Andrew reached for the man's hand and
heartily shook it. "Catherine, I'm glad you could some see
us again. C'mon in," the angel waved the couple into the
entry of Willowveil Castle. "JenniAnn's in the
kitchen. Slight problem with lunch. Our chicken
salad's a little plain... she's working on it.
Soup's great, though. We'll have plenty to eat even though
neither of us are the greatest chefs." He grinned.
"I'd offer to take your coat and cloak but, well, you'll see."
Catherine smiled at the gleam in the angel's eye. She had
a feeling they'd be dining al fresco. She looked over at
Vincent who was gaping at their surroundings.
"I know it's a little overwhelming." Andrew tilted his
head back, gazing around the large entryway. "But JenniAnn
"She lives here... alone?" Vincent peered at Andrew then
quickly away for fear of seeming rude.
The angel of death blushed. "Oh, well... yeah.
Mostly. She has friends stay over. I, uh, when I'm
here I stay... house that way."
Catherine suppressed a giggle. "Vincent, Andrew has a
house two doors from here. He calls it Serendipity.
This is Willowveil," she clarified.
"I see. How... wonderful." Finally Vincent managed a
smile for Andrew. Only then did he consider that the
man... angel... had exhibited no shock when he'd opened the door
to Catherine and him. Perhaps it was proof
Andrew had seen him during one of his rages.
His eyes again flitted away from the angel's.
The three looked to see JenniAnn running towards them.
Soon she had her cousins tightly in her embrace. "I'm so
glad you're here. I'm sorry I wasn't at the door to greet
you. Culinary issues." She pulled away enough to
look into her godfather's eyes. "I thought we could eat
outside. Have a picnic. I know it's a bit cool but
since the sun's out and we've started a fire in the stove,
Vincent studied the girl's face, noting her glistening
eyes. She knew this was no small thing for him. "I
would like that very much, Psyche." He pressed his lips to
JenniAnn took his hand in one's of hers and Catherine's in the
other. She led them to the door to the backyard.
"You two can make yourselves comfortable. Andrew and I'll
bring everything out." She and the angel disappeared
before either of their guests could protest.
"Vincent, let's walk around. Look at that pond..."
Vincent roused from his musings and smiled at the love of his
life. She looked as beautiful as ever in the light of
day. He took her hand and let her lead him into the
"This is delicious, Psyche!" Catherine effused after sampling
her sandwich and soup. "I wouldn't have known anything had
gone wrong if Andrew hadn't told us."
JenniAnn laughed and beamed at Andrew. "Andrew's very
truthful." She reached over to squeeze his hand.
Vincent noted the slight blush that crept into the angel's
cheeks at this show of affection. However, it was Psyche
who truly captured his notice. Her resemblance to
Catherine had always been there though never overwhelming.
Only their eyes were strikingly similar. Yet in that
moment, Psyche called Catherine to mind more than ever.
With a start, Vincent realized why. The way his
goddaughter looked at Andrew perfectly mirrored the way
Catherine looked at him.
"Vincent, JenniAnn tells me you're a teacher. What do you
teach?" Andrew asked, hoping to engage the quiet man.
Vincent, his throat suddenly very dry, took a sip of his cider
before replying. "History, Literature, and Theatre
although I have considerable help with the latter."
"Sometimes he subs in on Math, too," JenniAnn added, her voice
full of pride. "Vincent's a genius."
"Well, you are!"
Andrew smiled from behind his mug. "I love having
assignments that give me the chance to teach. There's
nothing like instilling a love of learning in a kid. Last
year I taught a course on poetry at a college and had a great
time. I think, if I were human, I might like being a
"You're welcome to come Below and lead a class whenever you
wish, Andrew," Vincent replied. The offer came out so
suddenly that it took him a moment to realize he'd made it.
The angel's face lit up. "I'd love that. Thank
you! Thank you very much."
"You can come see where Psyche spent many of her summers.
Now that we've rediscovered the portal maybe this could be the
beginning of a sort of alliance between our two worlds?"
Catherine asked hopefully. She was already dreaming of
midday spring and summertime strolls with Vincent.
"That'd be great," Andrew agreed. "You know, I have to
believe the Father had it in mind all along the way He connected
the two with that portal. JenniAnn thinks that's how she
found her way to the Tunnels when she was little. She was
brought here and then slipped into the portal one day."
"And then you both found me. I really do believe very much
that God had a hand in that. I would love it if Dyeland
and the Tunnels could be close-knit..." JenniAnn dreamily
replied. "The kids could come here to safely play outside
and, Vincent, I can't wait until you see all the flowers in
"I... I will look forward to it. An alliance would
be very welcome" Vincent was so overwhelmed that he no longer
felt like eating but continued to lest Psyche be hurt.
The man looked up when he heard his cousin's plaintive
call. "Yes, Psyche?"
JenniAnn set down her tea and moved to sit beside her
godfather. She wrapped her fingers around one of
his. How much she had missed performing the childish
gesture... "I wanted to apologize for... for our
disagreement back in 1999. You were right to not let me
move Below. I was just trying to escape the angst of high
school. That... that I pouted a-and didn't come visit any
more... it was awful. If... if you'd let me stay, I
wouldn't have found my way back here and I wouldn't... have
"Psyche..." Vincent's voice was thick and little more than
a whisper as he hugged the misty-eyed girl. "All was
forgiven long ago. You know I would have loved to have had
you nearby always. But I wanted you to find your own
way. It seems you have." He noticed Andrew looking
tenderly at them. The angel seemed genuinely touched and
happy for Psyche and this endeared him to Vincent.
JenniAnn finally pulled away and nodded. "I have."
She kissed his cheek then reclaimed her place beside Andrew.
Andrew looked at Vincent and Catherine with a warm smile.
"JenniAnn did tell me so much about you both. I couldn't
wait to meet you."
"We're very glad to meet you! Andrew, why don't you tell
us a little more about what you do and what brought you here?"
Catherine requested. "We'd love to know more about you."
Andrew swallowed a bite of sandwich, nodding as he did.
"Oh. Yeah. Sure."
JenniAnn briefly rested her hand on his arm. She'd learned
that Andrew wasn't used to talking about himself. And he'd
be doing a lot of it with the Catherine-the-lawyer asking the
questions! While she'd done some of the preliminary
explaining, she knew there was much her cousins were curious
"Well, as an angel of death, I'm sent by God to take people Home
to Him," the angel began. "To Heaven. But I also do
The term captured Catherine's interest. She laughed.
"Caseworking? That sounds like what I do."
Andrew smiled. "In some ways it probably is. We...
usually I work with my friends Monica and Tess but sometimes
other angels, too, and sometimes alone... help people to...
well, every case is different."
"Tell me about it," the assistant D.A. knowingly interjected.
The angel chuckled. "Sometimes we help heal
marriages. Sometimes we reunite estranged friends or
family members. We might help someone escape an abusive
relationship. Another we might help deal with trauma
resulting from war or... or rape or anything. But
always... always... we tell people God loves them."
"All people?" Vincent questioned.
Andrew looked intently at the man. "Yes, all people.
God loves everyone," he reiterated before popping a potato chip
into his mouth.
There were a few moments of silence as if Andrew, Catherine, and
JenniAnn had all agreed to give Vincent time to mull over the
implication of Andrew's words: God loved him.
Turning down Catherine's and Vincent's offers of help, Andrew
and JenniAnn carried the dishes and leftover food back
inside. The couple again began to walk near the pond.
"So what do you think?" Catherine inquired.
"I am impressed."
"He's very well-spoken. Maybe a little awkward at points
but I think it gives him a sort of charm."
"Whatever else, Psyche's got good tastes," Catherine opined with
a laugh. "Runs in the family."
Vincent modestly smiled.
"Yesterday she told me she has a greenhouse. I told her
I'd like to see it. I'd love to admire her roses and... I
think it would be good if you and Andrew had time to talk.
Vincent hugged his beloved to him. "Do you think so?"
Catherine caressed his cheek. "Yes. I think it might
give you some peace over Psyche's future."
"You're without worries now?"
"No. Not at all. It does make me sad to think about
her potentially giving up so much. But I feel like it's
more important that you come to peace with this... for however
long it lasts. Vincent, I know Psyche loves me and
respects me. But she's always valued your opinion
more. I can't blame her for that. And... I think you
need to ask Andrew the question weighing on your heart."
She kissed him. "Just think about it?"
Before Vincent could answer, Andrew and JenniAnn returned.
"Catherine, ya wanna see the greenhouse now?" the girl
asked. "Vincent, you can come, too, but I understand if
you wanna stay outside."
"I could show you more of the grounds, Vincent," Andrew offered.
Vincent glanced over at Catherine who looked quite pleased at
her plan coming together with no effort on her part. He
smiled at his goddaughter. "Psyche, I'd love to see your
greenhouse but perhaps for now I'll remain with Andrew?"
"Kay!" JenniAnn kissed his cheek then darted towards the
castle with Catherine following her.
"So... how about a walk to the shore?" the angel suggested.
"I would enjoy that. Thank you, Andrew."
The two walked in silence for a few moments before the angel
turned to his guest.
"I just want you to know that I care very much about your cousin
and I only want what's best for her. I know this... crush
probably came as a shock. I know it did to me but... but
maybe JenniAnn just needs me for a while. To... well, to
sort of bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood.
"Safe?" Vincent repeated.
Andrew sighed. "I don't know what, if anything, you
believe about angels. I know some books and movies have
some really interesting theories about us. But we don't
fall in love or have... desires. JenniAnn knows
this. So I think maybe she's taken to me just because
she's at that age but maybe not ready for... for, you know, the
whole dating thing and all that sometimes implies."
"Perhaps," Vincent casually replied.
They walked on in silence for a few more moments then the man
turned to the angel.
"Earlier... you said Psyche had told you about Catherine and
me. Did she say... what I've done?" Vincent peered
down at his clawed hands. "Or had you... known?"
"I didn't know. JenniAnn told me that you've acted in
defense of Catherine and your community and that, sometimes,
this protection has resulted in death. I've been assigned
to cases like that... never when you were involved... but others
when someone kills someone in order to protect a loved one who
was being threatened. I don't like violence,
Vincent. But I know that most times the person who killed
to protect doesn't like violence, either. I don't blame
them for what they've done. If I were human..."
Andrew's voice trailed off.
Vincent looked at the angel, feeling a mixture of relief,
gratitude, and curiosity. "If you were human?" he
The angel of death shrugged. "Who can say I wouldn't have
killed to save someone I loved? Angels have to respect
free will. Some... we call them Search and Rescue and
then, of course, the guardian angels... they're allowed to
intervene sometimes, to save people."
"But not you? Not angels of death?"
Andrew shook his head, his eyes on the horizon. "Not
Vincent again looked down at his hands. For so long they
had been a source of shame. They still were but now for a
different reason. He had cursed them when he should have
been thankful for all the times they had helped him protect
those he loved. Andrew did not have such a gift.
Sensing the man's heavy heart, Andrew smiled at him then pointed
in front of them. "Look."
Vincent saw an expanse of sand and, beyond it, the edge of an
ocean. "It's beautiful," he murmured.
"We call it the Indigo Ocean. Maybe you could stay until
sunset. The sunsets here... amazing."
"I can only imagine."
Andrew glanced over at his transfixed guest. "JenniAnn...
She wanted to ask you here before. Please know that.
She's worried you might be hurt, thinking she hid this place
from you. Things were... complicated for a while.
People coming and going. They still do but even more so in
the year before I came up until a few months after I
arrived. But now... now JenniAnn feels more comfortable
trusting the people here. So do I. She never wanted
to hold the possibility of this out to you then have to tear it
away or, worse yet, have you harmed."
"I understand. I could never be angry or upset because of
her waiting. She knows how precarious my life is."
Vincent sat down on the cool sand.
Andrew sat, too.
"What do you intend to do if Psy... JenniAnn doesn't outgrow her
fondness for you?"
"I like that you call her Psyche. It's fitting."
Andrew smiled encouragingly then looked out to the sea.
"She's a deep girl. And I'm sure she will... outgrow the
crush, I mean. JenniAnn's a great kid... a very spiritual
one. Fitting in an aspiring Theology major. I'm sure
it's pretty interesting for her to have an angel of death
around. But after a while the novelty will wear off and
she'll continue with college and be around new people
and... She has a lot of love inside her. For nearly
a year I've been very blessed to be the recipient of so much of
it. But she wants someone to go through life with her,
Vincent was surprised to find himself pitying the angel... and
relating to him. Andrew seemed to have no concept of his
own appeal to Psyche. He had no expectation that she would
remain true to him. He saw himself as a phase, one to be
outgrown and left behind... only a memory. Vincent could
recall the similar lies he'd told himself about Catherine.
Andrew wasn't lying. He simply didn't know better.
He must be made to know... or at least to consider the reality
of Psyche's feelings. Vincent didn't want the angel's
self-deprecation to hurt her as deeply as his had wounded
Catherine. He had to speak. "And if she decides
you're worth the sacrifice?"
Andrew gaped at JenniAnn's godfather. This was something
he hadn't considered. "You think she... she might?"
"Psyche will follow her own heart. As much as I think I
know that heart, children surprise their parents all the
time. No less their godparents. Yes, she may drift
from you. But... she may very well stay. What would
you do if she did?"
"But she... she's eighteen!" Andrew dragged his hand
through his hair. "In this day, in your culture; that's no
age to even be thinking about spending a lifetime with someone!"
"Perhaps not but, please, answer my question. It... it
would give me peace to know your answer."
The angel looked over at the man. He saw the parent,
needing assurance that no matter what his child would be cared
for. Andrew looked out at the crashing waves and
thought. If JenniAnn stayed with him; she would never be
kissed, never be proposed to... or be the one to propose, she
would never marry, never make love, never share a home with the
man she loved, never carry a child, and quite possibly never be
a parent. But she would be loved. He had his
answer. "I would love her as much and as best as I
could. No matter what."
Vincent felt tears creep into his eyes. All at once he was
a man in mourning and in celebration. He hoped Psyche
would outgrow her love for the angel sitting beside him and
allow it to settle into a comfortable friendship. She
could go onto a life with someone else, with children.
Yet... if she didn't... at least he knew she would have what
mattered most: someone who loved her unconditionally and would
remind her that God loved her, too.
For several minutes, Andrew and Vincent sat alone on the shore
in companionable silence and admired the ocean.
Vincent sighed. He was sitting beside the sea, beneath the
winter sun, free from worries of being caught or exposed.
It was no ocean he'd ever imagined seeing but it was
beautiful. Being there, in that strange and stunning
world, it was easy to believe God did love him. He
certainly had ways of creating possibilities where none seemed
to be. Vincent tore his eyes away from the glorious waves
and sky and looked to Andrew. Maybe God would make a happy
life possible for Psyche and her Cupid.
Gazing at the ocean, Vincent prayed it would be so.
time in 2015...
Andrew was at the window, staring blankly
at the dreary sky. His eyes were blood shot and his face
was gaunt. He hadn't slept in days. He
wouldn't. His appetite had failed. He only ate to
keep from adding to the others' grief and worry. He closed
his eyes and prayed that, when he opened them, all would be
well. It was a childish prayer, one more suited to little
Belle. Still he prayed it.
Opening his eyes and turning away from the window, Andrew saw no
change. JenniAnn remained still and silent on the hospital
bed. He couldn't understand it. The crisis was
over. She'd come through surgery well. She was
breathing on her own and yet she would not wake. He
returned to the bed, barely fitting as he lay on his side next
"Laja, please... please come back to us. Your... your
parents are here. I finally talked them into going back to
Catherine's apartment to rest. She... she needed it,
too. They haven't left your side since... since you got
here. They have Belle with them. Sweet
Belle... She made you this." Andrew brushed his hand
over the macaroni bracelet he'd helped the little girl place on
her mother's wrist. "Laja, Belle... she doesn't
understand. No one does. Everyone back home is
just... devastated. You have so... so many people praying
for you." As gently as possible, he wrapped his arm around
her. "I'm not... not leaving until you're out of
here. One... one way or... or the other."
Andrew thought back on their last happy morning. He'd had
a 9:22 and stopped over at Willowveil for breakfast first.
He smiled. "Laja, you were in such a tizzy! Bet you
wish you'd never told Belle about Hide-and-Seek. She does
have quite a talent. But we found her... fallen asleep
where she hid in the greenhouse. And we told her... told
her we'd always find her. Laja, you have to be with me
next... next time Belle hides. We have to find her...
Beginning to weep, Andrew rested his chin against JenniAnn's
hair. He knew that, either way, she would be happy and she
would live. Either way, God's love would surround
her. But it tore at him that, in the blink of an eye, all
her plans, all their dreams had been threatened. He wasn't
ready for her life on Earth and in Dyeland to end.
A quick and quiet knock on the door sounded. Andrew
hurriedly got to his feet as the door opened to reveal Joe
Maxwell and two others pushing a gurney on which rested a black
body bag. "M-matthew... Joe... Portia..."
Joe and Portia rolled the gurney into the room and shut the door
while Detective Matthew Bratton hugged the angel. "We
brought someone," he whispered when he stepped back. "And
we... Joe and I... we're not going to give up until we find the
cretin who did this to our girl. We will, Andrew."
Andrew nodded and pulled the man into another embrace. He
was surprised that he still had tears to weep. As he
watched Portia and Joe unzip the bag, the angel had a feeling
more were soon to come. "Vincent..." he greeted.
JenniAnn's godfather sat up and slid off the gurney.
"Thank you," he hugged Portia and gave a trembling smile to Joe
"You're very welcome." Joe looked over at the angel.
"Andrew, we'll be in the chapel. Come get us when he's
ready to go, okay?"
"I will. Thank you." Andrew forced a smile.
When the door closed, Andrew and Vincent looked at each other
then down to JenniAnn. Vincent's body began to quake with
sobs and Andrew lowered him into the chair beside the bed.
Vincent rested his head on the mattress. "Psyche..."
He held her hand, remembering. He had felt Catherine's
fear and anger. She and Psyche had been followed by the
estranged husband of one of the women at the Phoenix Inn.
He had cornered them in an alley and then... Rushing
towards them, Vincent had heard the shot and seen their Psyche
begin to fall. He had caught her and cradled her as
Catherine frantically called 911 and tried to stop the
blood. If only he'd arrived a moment earlier...
Andrew perched on the edge of the bed, carefully taking
JenniAnn's other hand with the IV line poking out. He
still couldn't understand why the Father hadn't allowed him to
be with her when it had happened.
"There... there was a brief moment... before she... she went
away from us."
The angel looked into Vincent's eyes which were rendered even
more blue by his tears.
"She... wrapped her fingers around mine and then she... she
looked up and she... smiled."
Andrew let out a ragged sigh. "I'm glad she... she was
happy when she saw..." He stroked some hair behind
JenniAnn's ear. "She could come back. Sometimes...
sometimes people do. I've seen it happen so... so many
With his free hand, Vincent reached for the angel's. The
three formed a small circle. "Thank you."
"I... I wasn't there. I didn't do any... anything."
"I'm thanking you for loving Psyche... your Laja for all these
years. You gave her the life she dreamed of. Once I
wouldn't have believed it possible. But you made it
possible, Andrew. Both of you together... with God.
You promised me once that you would love Psyche 'no matter
what.' You have... you do. I... I only wish..."
Tears rolling down his own cheeks, Andrew squeezed Vincent's
hand. "What do you wish?"
"Did you ever conclude which of you was Beauty and which the
The angel was so surprised by the fanciful question that he
chuckled. "No. We even asked Joshua to settle it but
he just grinned and said he thought *he* was both so why did it
have to be either/or? I don't think he wanted to ruin the
game for us."
Vincent smiled. "A very Joshuan response." He closed
his eyes for a moment. "I wish he was here."
"He... he is," Andrew assured. "We just... just can't see
him. And maybe..." He felt peace wash over
him. "I think Joshua was with JenniAnn in the alley.
I think he's been with her ever... ever since."
"She would like that." Vincent peered back down at his
godchild. "Even so.... selfishly, perhaps... I wish she
was the Beast. The Beast died and came back because he...
he was loved. She is loved..."
"So... so much," Andrew choked out. He watched as Vincent
stood and bent over JenniAnn then kissed her forehead.
Their hearts sunk when JenniAnn's body seized.
Tears filled Andrew's eyes. Maybe she'd only hung on so
her godfather could make his goodbye.
"No..." Vincent lamented when she let out a raspy breath.
Then her chest began to gently rise and fall as if she were only
"Laja?" Andrew softly called.
JenniAnn's eyes shot open and her hands tightened around
"A-andrew... Vincent..." JenniAnn sat up and clamored for
her beloved and her godfather.
"Be still, Psyche," Vincent urged, stroking her face.
"You're attached to an IV and..."
Bewildered, the woman looked around the room. Soon
everything clicked into place. "We do not need any nurses
rushing in here," she concluded with a smile.
Andrew laughed, relieved that not only was JenniAnn alive but
also lucid and very much herself. "How do... do you feel,
"Kinda hurts to breath..."
The angel frowned. "The bullet... it... it hit your right
lung. Just... just missed your... your heart." He
buried his face in her hair. "Laja... we were so..."
"I know... I saw. I'll explain everything b-but I
just want... Could you go get Joe? Please? The
nurse will be by soon and..." JenniAnn looked lovingly at
The angel nodded and quickly, though reluctantly, left the room.
JenniAnn carefully hugged Vincent. "I'm gonna get out of
here as soon as possible cause I... I don't wanna see you in a
body bag ever again."
Vincent laughed and cried at once then pulled away to cup his
godchild's face in his hands. "Take care of
yourself. Listen to the doctors. Don't push yourself
for my sake. But I... I will look forward to your
homecoming. I love you, Psyche."
"I love you, too, Vincent. There... there's something I
want to tell you. So much I want to tell you,
actually. But for now... this. While I was...
away... I saw things. Things from my past. Not even
just my life but things related to my life. I saw the
discussion you and Andrew had by the Indigo Ocean the day you
met. The one about... about me. Thank you for
praying for us... for our happy life."
"You're very welcome, my child." Vincent kissed his
goddaughter's hair as Andrew, Joe, Matthew, and Portia
returned. "I always have and always will."
"Thank God you're back, kiddo," Joe enthused, squeezing
JenniAnn's hand. "We'll get Vincent back safely and then
I'm sure Cathy, Belle, and your parents will rush on over here
"Then we'll talk," JenniAnn promised.
Portia set her hand on her friend's shoulder. "Psyche, I'm
just going to get Vincent back home then I'll be back to help
you. I know all this medical stuff is overwhelming."
The patient laughed. "You know I'm hopeless. Don't
know my femur from my tendon."
Portia playfully shook her head then moved to help conceal their
JenniAnn looked away when Vincent laid down on the gurney.
Andrew sat beside his friend, stroking her hair as she buried
her face in his shirt to avoid seeing Vincent be hidden
When the door closed, JenniAnn pulled away. "Do the nurses
and doctors... can they see you?"
Andrew nodded, blushing. "I think they think I'm your
boyfriend. I just... I wasn't in the mood to correct
them. And I didn't want them to kick me out."
JenniAnn smiled. "Well, you're a boy and a friend so let's
just leave it at that. Can you call them in here?
Please. I really want this out." She indicated the
The angel smiled. "Sure." He pressed the call button
and soon the peace and quiet of the room gave way to the
cacophony of nurses and doctors coming in and out. For a
time, Andrew got booted to the waiting room. When he
returned he found JenniAnn unhooked from the machines, dressed
in her favorite butterfly print pajamas, and sitting on the
ledge by the window.
"Aren't you supposed to be in bed, miss?" Andrew teased.
JenniAnn grinned. "Gonna tell on me?"
The angel shook his head.
"This room feels so claustrophobic after..." She looked to
the sky. "I at least needed a window. And I needed
that IV and everything out because..." Tears welled in
JenniAnn's eyes as she reached for Andrew.
Without pause, Andrew settled beside her and gently pulled her
to him. He sighed with contentment when her arms wrapped
all the way around him and she buried her right hand in his
hair. He had wondered if he would ever feel his Laja's
embrace outside of Heaven again. "Laja... I love
you. I missed you so... so much."
"I... miss... missed you, too, my love. I... I was back...
back on our island... Joshua's island with all the kudzu.
I was happy there. So happy with... with him. And I
got to meet David and Lor a-and see Chava and Cora and Sophia
and Sarah a-and so many..." JenniAnn began to cry.
"Joshua... he..." Already she ached with longing for him
but she reminded herself that still he was there, even if she
couldn't see him. "He would have let me stay and go
further on but... but I wanted to be here as our Belle grows up
a-and... I know I would have seen you either way but I..."
She rested her forehead against Andrew's. "I wanted our
life here. There'll be time for the other Life
"There will," Andrew asserted, softly stroking her back.
"I'm so... so glad you're back. I would... would have done
my best with Belle but I... I didn't want to do it without...
"Andrew..." JenniAnn cooed. "I promise I'll be there with
you for everything with Belle from the first day of school to...
to the first date and beyond. Although you may need to
sedate me for some of that." She smiled when the angel
laughed. "Now promise me something?"
"As soon as I'm outta here... dance with me?"
A huge smile lit up Andrew's face. Even if she couldn't
yet dance, he'd carry her through it if he had to.
"Already planning on it."
As the two again embraced, the One who loved them best stood in
the corner of the room. Joshua knew the dance, when it
came, would not be what either Andrew or JenniAnn had
planned. But it would help sustain Andrew as he faced a
great trial. It would comfort JenniAnn as she and their
loved ones waited for him. Then their world, their story
would brighten once more. With their friends, they would
go forth to embrace a happy life brimming with new
I'm spending this year going back and filling in some
blanks. When it comes to "The Carpenter," Joshua
needs to have a complete and flawless recollection of all
these characters' pasts. In particular, I'm planning
a conversation with Joshua and Vincent that will allude to
the first meeting between the latter and Andrew. But
no such scene existed... Now it does!
I didn't intend to write the flash forward part but
I felt like this story needed more. It needed proof
that, even though there were disagreements and doubts
between 2001 and the current setting, both Andrew and
Vincent made good on their ocean-side promises. The
2015 scene is pointing to the same event that the flash
forward in "The Walk" depicts. That's gonna be one
of my big 2015 stories if all goes as planned.
Yeah, yeah, yeah... So I've been fixating on
fairy tales once again. :-) I love Beauty
and the Beast/Cupid and Psyche and always
will. Thus, I love exploring different aspects of
it. Mostly I've focused on its themes of sacrifice,
transformational love, and believing in something beyond
what your five senses can prove. One I haven't
gotten into too much is the generational theme. Some
see the tale as a coming of age story for girls depicting
the acceptance of married life and a change of alliance
from father to husband. Back in the day, that could
often mean traveling to an entirely new place, taking up
residence in a strange household, and being bound for a
whole lifetime to some guy the girl may hardly have known
and possibly not known at all! Thankfully, this is
not the stuff of modern relationships in my culture nor
JenniAnn's! Still, I did like the idea of this story
being about re-examining those key relationships. It
also made for an opportunity to see just how many
different ways I could configure the three main
characters: Beauty/Psyche, Beast/Cupid, and the
father. Joshua's right. No one is 100% Beauty
and no one is 100% Beast. They go back and forth but
the important part is that they always go back and forth
In the first part, Vincent (father) does have to
accept that his goddaughter's life may not end up
following the path he wished for her. He has to see
her off to this other world with all its beauty and
strangeness. Andrew (Beast/Cupid) has to accept that
despite all reason and expectation and, hello!, the fact
that he's not human but instead an AOD, JenniAnn isn't
going any where. JenniAnn (Beauty/Psyche) gets to
completely break from her mythological predecessors and
mark out a life in her mystical world that includes both
Vincent and Andrew, father and beloved. Although I
think it would be accurate to say that modern LJA is more
deeply connected to Andrew than she is to Vincent, she is
still very close to Vincent. There is no change of
alliance, just a maturation from child to woman.
In the second part, everything switches.
Despite all the love heaped on her by both father and
beloved, JenniAnn (Beast) is fading away. Andrew
(Beauty) can't understand how everything went so
wrong. Vincent (father) just wants his little girl
back. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, JenniAnn
(Psyche) is alive and well in one of Joshua's (Cupid's)
worlds. Everyone else is grieving for JenniAnn and
worried for her and there she is living it up with the One
she *really* loves. When the time comes and for
reasons not yet clear, Joshua (now Father) gets JenniAnn
(now Beauty) back to Andrew and Vincent (now both the
Beast). All the while, the two humans and Andrew
live with longing for Joshua who, like Beauty, left his
Father's house to dwell among them and lift the curse set
upon the world by undergoing, like the Beast, an awesome
transformation. Tale as old as time indeed!
I couldn't resist the fairy tale element of true
love's kiss, either. With a twist, naturally.
While I may not be overly pleased with all of the TV show
Once Upon a Time's innovations, I did love
that they made true love's kiss broader than just romantic
love. In the show, Emma brought her son, Henry, back
from a deadly curse with her kiss. I thought that
was beautiful. Parental love has amazing
power. Further, I stuffed Vincent in a body
bag. (How awful! He deserved something good
after that. And, yes, it was a brand new body
bag. I'm sure Joe made absolutely sure of
that. ;-) Anyhow, I felt like Vincent earned
being the one to bestow true love's kiss. It just
seemed more right than it being Andrew. The kiss
wasn't the only reason JenniAnn came back. But it
was part of it. I rather suspect Andrew's behavior
up to that point probably tugged considerably at
JenniAnn's spirit and, as she said, she wanted to be with
her lil one. The Beast came back to her Belle.
Actually, in one of my favorite modern versions, the Beast
gets humanized not by Beauty-the-lover but by
Beauty-the-daughter. Need to read that one again...
Anyhow, in 2015 I'll get into what exactly Joshua and LJA
were doing on that island, the repercussions of the
shooting, what Andrew's trial is, and what all their
friends intend to do about it.
to the Author's Cut