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Ebooks   ➡  Fiction  ➡  Young adult or teen  ➡  Fantasy

Divine Hope

 

Divine Hope

Jo O’Neil

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author

 

Divine Hope

Jo O’Neil

Copyright 2013 by Jo O’Neil

Cover illustration copyright © 2013 Mel Kraus

 

 

Smashwords Edition

 

 

ISBN: 9781310177514

 

 

All of the characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental

In loving memory of you, dear Mum

May you be laughing with God and His Angels

Forever more, I will love you

 

AND

 

To God

Thank you for teaching me there is no greater love than ‘Divine Love’

My soul will be true to You and will love You and Your darling Angels for all eternity

Prologue

 

At the dawn of time a covenant was scribed by the Creator. The Almighty safe guarded His sacred promise in the Akashic records under the protection of His Army of Angels and the Lords of Karma who vowed to defend the honour of God from the dark side. God’s treaty foretells a time when a Daughter of Eve will be born with the providence to defeat evil. This soul is said to be so powerful, Lucifer fears her arrival. The time is now . . .

Chapter One

The Admin Mix-Up

 

I had always ticked along quite satisfactory with life. That was until what I perceived was my best chance of becoming Mrs. Somebody before anyone else in my peer group walked down the aisle, was taken from me at my law firms Christmas party by someone else’s wife. Not content with her own husband she had to steal my-soon-to-propose-to-me.

Alone again and not much enjoying the experience I would have agreed to anything to promote myself as quickly as possible from spinster to committed spouse. So when my friend and colleague Molly ‘Mischief’ Myers suggested my significant different breast sizes might be standing between me and wedded bliss, and surgery may well be the answer, I thought it was worth a try, as after all one only lives once. (That’s not exactly true, but I will get to that much later.)

Asset rich, but cash poor after my savings had radically diminished courtesy of my extensive and most impressive art and book collections, of which I had some original canvases and first editions; my wine cellar which housed many bottles of fine and rare vintages; and my wardrobe which included some rather expensive designer garments, shoes, and unique pieces of antique jewellery, it was apparent to me I was going to have to find alternative law abiding means to fund my makeover.

Ever resourceful, I swindled my bank manager out of an unprotected loan which I stated was for a new sports car as I could hardly say it was for a unilateral breast-reduction, and booked a private suite at the celebrity popular Make Me Perfect hospital in my home town of London, Mayfair.

Three months’ after being romantically displaced in favour of one of the clerks at the solicitors I was a junior partner at, Molly drove me in my silver Mercedes-Benz convertible to Make Me Perfect where I less than entirely enthusiastically prepared to throw myself under the knife.

I remember quite vividly the panic I felt as I turned from the hospital entrance to watch Molly whiz out into the sunny late winter’s day London traffic. I was very protective of my Merc. I loved the way it accommodated my petite frame, albeit my choice of car had been problematic for the six-plus-footers I had dated. Molly didn’t feel Mayfair life warranted any form of transport other than London’s underground, save the iconic black cab which conveniently taxied her safely home after a professional celebratory drink of which I’m proud to say there were many. Preferring London transport to her own, Molly rejected car ownership; although she was rather partial to driving mine. However, as an infrequent driver her skills did seem to be rusty, particularly when navigating the congested streets of the Capital. It was these neglected and therefore decidedly ineffectual highway abilities which were adding to my already flustered persona, even though at the time I would have fiercely denied I had the mildest pre surgery jitters.

As I entered through the revolving doors to the sun blessed white and black marble dominated reception area complete with chessboard floor, the butterflies which had been steadily multiplying the nearer the clock struck to my scheduled surgery began to agitatedly quiver in my stomach. Reluctantly, I checked-in with the excessively cheerful receptionist whose smile didn’t falter as my green eyes conveyed my annoyance at letting Molly talk me into surgery while I left my precious Merc in her care. Ironically, a dented wing was the least of my concerns.

It turns out my much older cousin Henry had a heart murmur which I inherited somewhere along the gene pool. The blonde bimbo nurse who was supposedly in charge of my well being overlooked this defect, so instead of two even boobs closer to bagging myself a husband I was ‘wonder surgeons’ first fatality.

Admin mix-ups don’t just occur in the realm of the relative; heaven makes boobs (please forgive the pun), too! Blonde bimbo’s angel was taking a nap when she missed my heart murmur. Apparently, angels suffer with fatigue just as us mere mortals do when overworked. And overworked is exactly what the angels had been, as God, our wondrous Creator who only has to think of love for a new angel to get their wings, had been considerably weighed down with centuries of war and famine, and as such He hadn’t kept up the supply of angels to meet the demands of humankind.

To His credit though, God took full responsibility for the blunder. Great, I thought, I’ll be back in my body before anyone has time to notice I’m deceased. However, God had other ideas and produced a contract for me, Serena Olivia Unity Lewis, to sign, binding me to work for Him on a temporary basis. He was very vague on how long ‘temporary’ was – time has a different scale in the Absolute.

If I agreed, He would return me to earth after I completed my assignment. My reward for my service would be to have my pick of eligible men. (Free will could occasionally be negotiated if the cause was great enough.) Plus, He would ensure my body parts were perfectly balanced rendering my bank loan null and void; which was a good job as being unprotected death wasn’t going to cover the cost.

God omitted to mention what would happen if I declined His offer of work. In spite of this, I figured I was safe to refuse, or at the very least barter for more favourable conditions. You see I had grown up an only child of a traditional two parent family being lectured on God’s legendary mercy, so I was confident He wasn’t in league with the Mafia who I guessed were associated with the Devil. Therefore, I questioned the Creator on why I couldn’t go back to my life immediately. Surely, He could have a quiet few days’ in which to give more wannabe angels their wings so he could balance the ratio of angels to humankind. This would give Him a sufficient number of angels to do His work, and I could go straight home since I didn’t believe God needed time to organise my return.

As I argued these facts admirably, which was nothing short of a miracle given I was feeling extremely self conscious attending an interview with my Maker in the standard fit hospital gown my physical body had been wearing just before I was deployed to heaven, my attire magically changed to mirror the respectably short tailored skirt and jacket I wore to the office. My nail-vanish-less hands and feet (au naturel was a stipulation of surgery due to hygiene regulations, much to my dismay) were also given a makeover of perfectly matching French polish. Sexy, yet smart Stuart Weitzman peep toe sling-backs adorned my feet, and the diamond and sapphire ring my parents had given me on my graduation sat comfortably on the middle finger of my right hand. I felt for the sapphire amulet I always wore which was obediently hanging around my neck, and the diamond bracelet I liked to dangle from my right wrist was also present. The only absentee was my Cartier watch which I guessed God figured I didn’t need in time-less heaven.

Feeling my confidence soar in my preferred dress, I eloquently stated there had been enough afterlife stories in the news to render my waking up after being dead for half an hour or so unmiraculous, especially if compared to Jesus who had two days’ before his body showed any sign of life. It seemed the messiahs little episode defied the ‘Laws of the Universe’ and caused a lot of trouble between God and the Devil.

Caring little about the rift between the Omega and Satan, I was just wondering if I would be better off making a pact with Lucifer when God employed tough love. He reminded me by partaking in communion I had committed to faithfully serve Him. Recognising when I was out-argued, I reasoned I didn’t look good in red (the preferred choice of colour for the uniform of the Devil-ettes, I presumed) as it clashed horribly with my auburn hair, so I agreed to be processed for God’s Honorary Angelic Induction Programme. Besides, I was starting to find the harp music being played through the sound system tiresome. I just hoped it was confined to Gods chambers and not piped throughout the whole of the Absolute.

Immediately I had agreed to Gods terms, Archangel Michael, the Head Angel, materialised to escort me to my uniform fitting. Tall, with a gladiator physique, blonde shoulder length hair, and soul stealing blue eyes which dazzled when caught in his gleaming golden chest armour, I couldn’t help but feel Archangel Michael would be any girls dream knight in literally shining armour; although the large feathered white wings which protruded from his torso might be an issue for some. Draped around his neck was a bluish-purple cloak, and a decorative sword swung at his waist drawing my attention to his muscular legs which were visible from just above his knees where his leather kilt fell, to the top of his calves which hid in his lace up boots.

After I was dressed more angelic like I was to meet with Archangel Raphael, Archangel Gabriel, and Archangel Azrael. I had already encountered Archangel Azrael, the Angel of Death, when I had been catapulted from my body. He was sitting on the top shelf of the operating theatre with his large white feathered wings poised to escort me to heaven in a blaze of white light. The sheer expanse of this almighty Archangel covered the artwork one is asked to identify if one claims to have had an experience with the hereafter. Not wishing to be deemed a fraud, I made a mental note to view the spirit dwellers art gallery when I floated down from heaven back into my body in case I needed credibility to my afterlife story.

Archangel Azrael had been very kind to me in the face of my tantrums. I wasn’t overly keen on departing my life a singleton and protested vehemently that it was not my time. Archangel Azrael empathised, even though he genuinely didn’t know it literally wasn’t my time. He found this out when Saint Peter refused me entry at the majestic pearly gates. My name wasn’t on Saint Peters list so as far as he was concerned I wasn’t getting through.

I was thoroughly impressed how Archangel Azrael showed complete professionalism throughout. He didn’t allow Saint Peter’s rigid authority to intimidate him, and instead he calmly alerted God to the almighty faux pas from the pearly gates telecom. After Archangel Azrael passed the telephone to Saint Peter, who with a look of thunder passed it back to my Archangel Guide only moments later, my admittance was gained; though quite frankly this was one time I would have preferred to have been shunned at the door.

As God’s tailor worked on the perfect fit to my angelic uniform which altered magically in harmony with his thoughts, I grilled Archangel Michael on the many unanswered questions which were assaulting my consciousness. The first one which came to mind was; in my new honorary angelic capacity was I going to be allowed to attend my own funeral? I hoped so as I was very curious who would honour my memory with their presence. The sandwich chap who had a not-so-secret crush on me possibly would if it was held after the lunch time rush. However, what I really wanted to know was; if I was going back at some point to clean up on the romantic stakes, how was that going to work if I had been buried some time earlier? People were no longer committed to the ground with a bell to ring. Besides, I had left instructions in my will I was to be cremated. Was I to be a Phoenix rising from my ashes? Archangel Michael in his strong but equally caring voice assured me all would be revealed at the right time. Patience, it seemed literally was a virtue, a fact whether I liked it or not, and I must say patience and I have never been on fond terms, I was going to have to get use to if I was to remain in honorary angelic study.

Chapter Two

The Life Review

 

A.M., the nickname I had affectionately started to call Archangel Michael, led me to a room in the pure white, gently floating clouds where I met Archangels Raphael and Gabriel. Archangel Azrael rushed in a few minutes afterwards expressing apologies for his lateness.

There had been a serious pile up on a freeway somewhere in The States which had kept Archangel Azrael busy bringing souls home to heaven. I thought I had once heard angels are multi-dimensional beings which allow them to be with more than one person at a time. If this was so, Archangel Azrael’s excuse was just that; an excuse. Be that as it may, I was not about to question the integrity of one of God’s angels, especially when in the absence of friends in heaven Archangel Azrael was one of the few I could class as an honorary friend. So, I kept quiet and instead turned my attention to the vaguely familiar images which were beginning to appear in the clouds.

A.M. began to speak. ‘When a soul returns to heaven a life review is conducted so the soul can best understand the legacy the soul left on earth, and the degree of growth the soul has undertaken. God was in two minds whether you should see your review, Serena, since it is not technically your scheduled time to depart from the earthly realm. His decision is to let you decide.

‘What you see before you is a snippet of what you will see if you wish to proceed. God feels the benefit of you seeing, hearing, and feeling your life review will be some compensation for enduring His Divine mix-up.

‘You will experience your triumphs as well as your less jubilant moments. More importantly though, you will feel what you predominately made others feel. This will be the foundation to build upon your Angelic Training, and the hope is it will ultimately lead to a happy and healthier you when you return to your earthly body.

‘Since you are theoretically human, and humans have free will, God will not force you into what potentially could be very harrowing for you in the short term, but what you will regard as a blessed gift one day. Considering all I have said, would you like to proceed with your life review, Serena Olivia Unity Lewis?’

‘Err . . . I suppose so . . . Wait! Can I stop anytime I choose?’

‘Yes, Serena,’ Archangel Azrael lovingly answered, ‘but we do not believe you will want to.’

‘The four of us are here to help you heal, Serena,’ Archangel Raphael added. ‘God feels the very least he can do is send his wisest angels to comfort you, for this truly must be the strangest experience of your life. All the same, your soul already understands the beauty of this situation. Allow your soul, dearest Serena, to guide and direct you through this most precious life review.’

As Archangel Raphael addressed me, I was engulfed in a shimmering emerald green light. The light radiated my entire being causing me to feel utterly peaceful and unconditionally loved. As I relaxed into the loving illumination, the cotton wool type clouds floating effortlessly in the perfect blue sky disappeared and were replaced by a magnificent diamond-studded-starry night.

The stars magnified and brought into focus scenes of me as a baby, safely wrapped in my mother’s arms. I felt the full force of her love as well as the vulnerability my existence made her feel. She was overwhelmed by the responsibility my tiny new life presented her. As my life review continued, each year of my life was played out in the heavens for me in three-hundred-and-sixty-degree film-clip-style.

My early years’ were satisfying, for as a lonely only child I befriended all the waif and strays which came into my vicinity, both human and the four legged variety. My mother’s susceptibility receded as I became more mobile and independent, only to be replaced by frustration and despair when I hit teenage-hood.

I was an utterly selfish adolescent who among other blemishes skipped school. Although my grades were exceptional given my frequent absence, my Headmistress’s sense of failure at my truancy was wounding. My mother’s distress when I showed up home late, and the heartache I inflicted on her when I told her I hated her as we argued over my curfew, was so painful I fell in a heap on to the soft cloud-carpet only to be stood upright again by the tender, supporting hands of angels.

While I wasn’t a mother, I gained perspective on how hard it is for a good parent to balance the freedom of their child versus safety. I longed to hug my mother and tell her how sorry I was for being a fifteen-year-old with attitude. My heart sank as I thought for the first time how devastated she must be feeling; she kept me safe for twenty-four years’ only to lose me to vanity.

I hadn’t told my parents I was going into surgery for a boob job. Unjustifiably, I suspected following my death Molly ‘Mischief’ Myers had blabbed the entire story, including my plan for ‘wedded bliss’, to my grieving relations. For someone very intelligent Molly didn’t have the common sense to think of a suitable excuse. If only I could get God to message my parents explaining my death was temporary. As I pondered this I realised the film had paused.

‘It is to make sure you do not miss anything important,’ A.M. answered my silent question.

As I mentally thought, ‘I’m ready,’ the film continued.

I saw an expensively dressed lady emerge from a stylish, silver Mercedes-Benz outside Claridges Hotel in the City of Westminster, the London borough I had grown up in and worked and resided in as a young adult. The valet who aided the elegant lady, didn’t seem to appreciate the teenage me asking if I could take a closer look at the Merc. Wounded at his rudeness, I muttered a profanity before superiorly sauntering away. As I watched the episode play out, a knife like sensation pierced my heart at the exact same time I cursed the man with such ferocity, it nearly floored me. As I stumbled the Archangels caught me, which halted the images once again until I was ready for them to play on.

I was dating, and obviously given my current circumstance I wasn’t very good at it. Securing a date wasn’t a problem. My green eyes which flickered hazel given the right light or the wrong mood, together with my pale Celtic skin, five-foot-four slim frame, and my red fashionably styled long hair had always been a winning combination. It was my over achieving brain which made me utterly insufferable at times, leading me to conclude; instead of a boob job I should have been hustling my bank manager for funds to pay a relationship counselor, as judging by my behaviour I was witnessing first hand I was going to need years’ of therapy to secure a loving, lasting, and meaningful relationship.

By the time the reel produced imagery from my first job I felt battered, and it didn’t get any easier. The Archangels weren’t joking when they said I would feel what I predominately made others feel. As a solicitor one almost expects a strong, no-nonsense character, but feeling the anguish, the hurt, and the pain which I had inflicted not only on the defendant who I was pursuing on behalf of my client the plaintiff, but also on my colleagues who too felt my caustic tongue on the occasions they crossed me, my soul withered at the berating I allotted feeling it necessitated my professional status.

The scenes I had been dreading, even though deep down my subconscious knew were inevitable, seemed to be mocking me as they played out in slow motion. I don’t know if it was my willpower which had almost frozen the reel of film, or whether God thought it was prudent to show me the images in detail so I didn’t blink and miss this pivotal event which was paramount in the current proceedings. I was at my company’s Christmas party with my-soon-to-propose-to-me Rupert.

I was hopeful Rupert would chivalrously drop down on one knee at some point during the evening, or if not on Christmas Day as we cuddled in our dressing gowns close to the elegantly decorated, large Christmas tree which sat comfortably in my apartment, unwrapping our presents and each other by the light of a roaring fire.

We were a handsome young couple, a comment which was made several times over during that fateful evening; Rupert in a luxurious satin lapel tuxedo, and I fitted in a custom made, figuring enhancing long black dress with a split and neck line both of which left very little to the imagination. (This daring display of ‘the perfect cleavage’ which I hoped would encourage Rupert to pledge his eternal love to me, was only feasible thanks to the expertise of the corset makers of royalty.)

As Rupert and I danced and mingled with our social equals who honoured the stylish hotel, I couldn’t have been happier. I was oblivious to the clues that there was disharmony in the air. However, I now readily admit I subliminally chose to ignore the blatant signs that Rupert was intermingling far too overzealously with a clerk at the firm I practised law at, who was at least a couple of years’ older than us both!

My life review showed me imagery of the clerk’s jealous, dark Italian husband punching Rupert’s six-foot frame squarely on the chin, as the two blondes, uncannily similar in their strong jaw and high cheek bone facial structure, who were strangers less than five hours before, declared their undying love for one another.

I wanted to hide my face as I watched Rupert move out of my apartment the following morning, but I knew it would be a pointless act as the film would just freeze until I was ready once more. My life review was about me owning my mistakes, not hiding from them so I could continue on the same path and make considerably more.

To my horror and shame, I looked upon the red haired, nose, and eyed mess I had become, barely recognising myself not only in appearance, but in the undignified behaviour I displayed as a direct result of the fear coursing through my veins due to facing living alone again. However, the clerk’s love was too captivating, so inevitably Rupert vacated my life despite my pleas which left with him as a cloud of unrelenting guilt. Desolate, I cried an ocean of tears over the worse Christmas I had ever known, where I spent my free time analysing every second of the destiny altering night.

I watched in pity as I submerged myself even more so than normal in the work that was fast becoming my salvation. But still my heartache and betrayal wouldn’t abate in the hours I wasn’t absorbed in legal red tape until Molly gave me a glimmer of hope with the Make Me Perfect plan.

We were at present day. I had entered the clinic and was being processed by the blonde bimbo nurse. I was shocked at how brusque I had been with her. All because my mind was still whirling with terror at the prospect of surgery and Molly’s delinquent driving attributes. If I had been kinder, perhaps she would have shown me more care, and then possibly I would have ended up in the hospital recovery room instead of God’s life review room.

I saw how hard the surgeon had worked to save my life and how broken he was when he failed. Thankfully, I didn’t experience his anguish. Archangel Raphael explained this was because I hadn’t caused it. He went on to say, all thoughts, words, feelings, and actions have consequences. They all emit vibrations. If a particular word that is less than loving is directed at another soul, the perpetrator feels this at a soul level and is invariably weakened, which is what happened to me when I saw myself swear at the valet. Years’ of this abuse can cause serious conditions, as even though the body is not conscious of these affects, it is nevertheless impaired.

As my life review ended, I felt physically and emotionally exhausted, even though I technically didn’t have a ‘live’ functioning body.

Aware of how harrowing I had found my life review, A.M. placed his loving hand on my shoulder and asked, ‘Are you OK?’

I had tears rolling down my cheeks when I replied, ‘Did I really make all those people feel so bad, A.M.?’ I shamefully bowed my head as I waited for his answer.

‘Yes,’ he sincerely replied.

‘Wow! That’s a bit hard,’ I said as my eyes, which were full of hurt, shot at him.

‘I am not being ‘hard’ on you, Serena. We are simply showing you the truth here. Think of it as a gift. Once you have completed God’s task you can return to your life as a happy being, for you must know happiness was not an emotion you often felt. As such, happiness was not shared by you with others, and nor could you accept happiness back.’

I looked around at all four angels with a trembling bottom lip.

Archangel Gabriel, who had been mighty quiet up until now, spoke. As he did the night sky was once again replaced by day. Although this time the sun shone on his golden robes with the full force of the most magnificent sun-set, making me wish I had my Chanel sunglasses with me and my top of the range camera equipment so I could capture the magic of the moment for all eternity.

‘Happiness and joy are the foundations of love. It will serve you well to remember, darling Serena; you are a holy child of God, and by this very nature you deserve the greatest love there is. Love is on offer to you, but you are the only one who can open your heart to allow it.’

The silence that followed gave me a moment to reflect on Archangel Gabriel’s loving words, until A.M. interrupted with instruction that it was time for me to start my Honorary Angelic Induction Programme.

‘I’m keen to start my training, but I must rest first, A.M. I feel positively drained,’ I explained as I thought catapulting from one’s body was terribly exhausting and not at all exhilarating like a bungee jump. (It seemed humans had a thing or two to teach the Divine on adrenaline rush action.)

‘Rest; we do not take naps here in heaven, Serena. Sleep is very much an earthly ritual,’ Archangel Azrael informed me.

‘So why do people have ‘REST IN PEACE’ engraved on tomb stones?’ I directed back at him. ‘And why did the nurse’s guardian angel fall asleep on the job? After all, that oversight is the catalyst to why I am here!’ I added smugly.

‘That is a human response, Serena. The sooner we start your Honorary Angelic Induction Programme and replace some of your human expectations, the more you will understand. But I will go as far to say; sleep is on a frequency associated with the vibration on earth.’ Archangel Azrael’s response had no tone of frustration or accusation. On the contrary, it was loving and sincere.

‘I am human!’ I cried.

‘First and foremost you are spirit made in the likeness of God the Creator,’ A.M. enlightened me.

I pulled a little girl sulky face in defiance.

‘This feels like a non-truth because you have not had enough time to adjust yet. Be patient, Serena,’ A.M. lovingly deflected my petulance.

‘I am human,’ I repeated. ‘God promised that I will be returning to my human form.’

‘And so you will, as God always keeps His promises. You will return with much greater knowledge and the capability to light up the Universe with the love that will shine from your heart. If you accept God’s gift, when we meet again, Serena, when it is truly your time to return home to God, your life review will leave you feeling blissful instead of the heaviness you feel now. But it is your choice. When I come to fetch you next time in my capacity as the Angel of Death, you can choose to remain the same and therefore your soul will feel the same, if not worse when you have your second life review.’

‘Why do you say I may feel worse, Archangel Azrael?’

‘My dear Child, your soul will remember you had the chance to embrace God’s love, and if you do, no matter what happens you will always feel blissful.’

Blissful seemed a far cry from how I was feeling. Come to think of it, I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt remotely blissful. Happy on the rare occasions I felt useful and valued, yes. Admittedly, nothing had made me happy since Rupert had left.

On deliberation, blissful seemed so much better than happy. So wiping my tear stained face I said, ‘I’m ready and fully committed to my Honorary Angelic Induction Training. Just give me all I need and I will not fail you, nor God . . . and certainly not myself,’ I added quickly when I realised that truly was the message the angels were blessing me with.

Chapter Three

The Crystal Room

 

Dressed in my white gown which would be the envy of any fashion house, as instructed by my angelic mentors I entered through a door which I expected would lead me to my fellow course attendees. Instead, a devoid of human souls as well as angelic form, crystal covered room laden with many volumes of books stood before me.

Now, I don’t profess to be an expert on crystals, unlike Molly who likes to dabble in alternative methods and has even been known to place a crystal or two in her bra. A white witch who Molly met at the Mind, Body, and Spirit Show in London, had instructed her to put a pink crystal in her left cup to bring her eternal love, and a black crystal together with a clear one in her right side to protect her mind and body from both the physical and the metaphysical. It all sounded hocus-pocus to me, but Molly swore they worked, and even tried to convince me the crystal she placed on her throat cleared her blocked chakra and cured her tonsillitis.

I didn’t even know what a ‘chakra’ was until Molly conveyed to me verbatim what the enchantress had told her. “A chakra is a vortex concept that receives energy from God’s Cosmos.” I still didn’t understand, and Molly wouldn’t concede the anti-inflammatory medicine her quack prescribed had anything to do with her recovery. On the premises of a barely five minute conversation, Molly had been tricked by the sorceress into believing there was a crystal to cure all, and she wouldn’t alter her opinion even after I somewhat indelicately demanded her to justify; if her pink crystal brought her love, where was her knight hiding?

I stood as my mother had taught me not to sit until invited to. In the absence of my host, I spent my time inspecting my long, flowy, feathered gown in the crystals reflection as I waited for my teacher.

While my eyes were busy, my right hand habitually reached up to my sapphire amulet. Much to my displeasure it had been returned to the earthly realm on God’s orders along with my diamond bracelet.

Apparently God had only borrowed them, and for the natural order of things to be restored, it had to be so. My Stuart Weitzman’s, which had also been banished from heaven, had been replaced by white satin pumps, but far from being disappointed I felt I had finally, legitimately been graced with the opportunity to wear a gown fit for the wedding dress of a prominent princess, and besides, the material trailed on the floor hiding my less elegant footwear. I was, however, rather disappointed there were no other course participants for me to show off my beautiful, newly acquired outfit, and the lack of occasion reminded me I had no prince waiting for me to officially wear my white matrimonial dress; a prospect I found utterly terrifying even given God’s promise of hooking me up with my soul mate.

My fearful thoughts were interrupted when a high-pitched, crystal-clear voice called my name.

‘Serena. How lovely to meet you. I am Archangel Raziel.’

I looked to where the excited voice had come from. After the strangest day I had ever known, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the sight that greeted me. Dressed in what looked like the Merlin costume I had seen hanging up in my local fancy dress shop when I rented the feline suit I wore to Molly’s themed birthday party, stood Archangel Raziel. Curiously, far from remaining the customary wizard blue, Archangel Raziel’s robes altered through the entire spectrum of the rainbow. Although undeniably impressive, the scale of colour didn’t detract from the large white eagle shaped wings which folded around Archangel Raziel’s equally colour changing cloak.

A weak, ‘Hello,’ was all I could muster as I stood agog at the sight before me.

Far from allowing my deflated response to discourage his enthusiasm, Archangel Raziel jovially called, ‘Come sit with me,’ as he beckoned me towards a crystal chair.

I obeyed, gingerly lowering myself as I surmised the smooth chair would be significantly hard and cold to sit on. On the contrary it was as soft as velvet and as warm as the sun. I actually looked down suspecting Archangel Raziel had placed a heated cushion underneath me, but there was no such cushion.

‘Deceptive, is it not?’ Archangel Raziel asked.

‘Yes. If I didn’t know better, I would say this chair is padded. But how can it be, as when I look all I see is crystal beneath me?’ I asked with determination to solve the conundrum. ‘And it’s so deceivingly warm,’ I added.

‘It is one of the greatest teachings of God, and it is your first lesson, Serena. For it is always best to look with your heart than your eyes, and it is rarely prudent to assume. Your senses are telling you there is a cushion as soft as velvet protecting you from the hardness of the chair, but your eyes do not share that view. Your logical mind told you to expect a cold surface, but in fact your nervous system can feel the crystal’s warmth. There will be many things your eyes will show you during your assignment that you would be just as well to discard. You would also be wise to remember assumptions are the Devil’s work. Instead, ask God to help you look into your loving heart for the truth, Serena.’

‘What can you tell me about my assignment, Archangel Raziel?’

‘All will be revealed at the right time.’

‘So what do I do in the meantime?’

‘God has asked me to use my rainbow aura together with the grace of Archangel Raphael, who at this very moment is sending his healing rays to your glorious soul, to clear any blockages you have carried over with you from your physical body. Many of my colours can be seen in the crystals surrounding you as they reflect God’s Divine Light, including Archangel Raphael’s emerald green. As you look into the crystals the magic of healing begins. In addition to this, you have to be prepared to let go. I know there are a few stubborn issues your ego has clung to. Your soul knows better and has urged you to release the matter, but your ego believes it knows best.’

Archangel Raziel had my full attention as he continued.

‘When you were five, Serena, your uncle left your mother’s sister for another man’s wife. Your mother is very protective of her younger sister; consequently she held great contempt for the man who had hurt her sibling. Since that fateful day, influenced by your mother’s behaviour you have harboured a dislike for any man who betrays the sanctity of marriage. You fight matrimonial cases at your law firm with the ferocity of a tigress, earning you the nickname of ‘Wild-Cat’. This is why you portrayed a cat when you went to Molly’s party.’

I blushed as I remembered my earlier vision of Merlin’s cloak hanging by my costume.

‘There is no need for embarrassment. Who do you think Merlin was based on?’ Archangel Raziel chuckled. ‘In God’s work there is no room for judgment. Blessings can lie in the darkest corner. Will you allow me to heal this prejudice, Serena?’

‘It defines me. It’s the standing up for righteousness,’ I answered in a slightly raised voice.

‘Who do you think invented righteousness?’ Archangel Raziel asked without being affected by my fluctuating emotions.

‘God,’ I answered sheepishly, as I bowed my head to look down at my fingers which were entwined in the feathered material of my dress.

‘So if God says it is honourable to drop your ruling that all philanderers are to be punished, will you accept God’s will?’

‘I cannot believe God would decree such a verdict,’ I said frustratingly.

‘That is exactly what God has done, darling Child. God’s discernment is to love thy neighbour.’

‘No matter what home or heart he has ruined?’ I asked with a hint of sarcasm.

‘Regardless of the circumstances, God is loving and merciful, and God wishes the same peace to be bestowed on you.’

I wasn’t convinced, and judging by Archangel Raziel’s next words he understood it was going to take greater powers of persuasion to sway me.

‘Do you know what your name translates to?’

‘No,’ I answered almost inaudibly.

‘Serena stands for calm, Olivia is a symbol of peace, Unity means oneness, and Lewis denotes fame and war.’

‘Whoa – so I’m a calm and peaceful one who craves fame and war? That’s a contradiction if ever I heard one.’

‘Focus on calm, peace, and oneness. You are the one, Serena, who can bring calm and peace to the world. Averting wars is a gift you will one day be famous for, but first you have to accept God’s will. Will you, Serena; will you accept God’s will?’

Thankfully, I missed Archangel Raziel’s words foretelling my fame in relation to world peace. Otherwise, I would have cross-examined him further until I received a satisfactory answer, which I doubt he would have given me.

So blissfully unaware of my destiny, I answered calmly, ‘My father taught me in his house his rules are law. Since I’m in the house of God it would be rude for me to do anything other than to recognise His command.’

‘God will not command you, Serena. It is your choice. I do make this promise to you though; if you let go of your ego and rule with your heart, Divine peace will always be with you.’

‘Will I need to forget what my uncle did to my aunt?’ I held my breath as I waited for Archangel Raziel’s answer.

‘Maybe that is a step too far, but would you be willing to forgive your uncle just as God has?’

‘Forgive! He hurt my aunt, an act which in turn hurt my mother,’ I said angrily.

‘Your uncle was not responsible for your aunt’s pain, Serena, and he certainly was not accountable for the hurt your mother felt. God has given mankind a great gift: the gift of free will. With free will no one has the power to cause pain to another without the persons consent.’

My anger subsided as I thought about this free will concept. I had heard much about it during my short time in heaven, but I wasn’t sure I completely understood it. I always prided myself on my intelligence. I grasped philosophy readily, but this free will notion had confounded me, a fact I verbalised.

‘Archangel Raziel, I don’t understand. If the greatest gift is free will, why do so many suffer at the hands of others?’

‘Now, that is a very good question. Humans who are ego driven thrive in fear. They cannot believe in God’s free will theory which comes from a place of love. Love and fear cannot occupy the same space. Until a person lives their life from love, and hence trusting God’s eternal blessings, they will always fear, and thus the self-fulfilling prophecy is complete.’

I contemplated Archangel Raziel’s answer before embarrassingly admitting, ‘I’ve not always lived with love as my shining light. Fear has eclipsed my days’.’

‘God knows this, dearest Serena, and He wishes for you to know you no longer have to hide in the dark places. Bask in the light, Serena, and be a beacon to others so they may do the same.’

‘How do I do that, Archangel Raziel?’

‘Forgive, Serena. Open your heart and forgive. You do not have to forget. You do not have to approve, nor should you condemn. Forgive all you have perceived have wronged you.’

I was just on the brink of a hallelujah moment when Archangel Raziel added, ‘Of course that also includes forgiving Hope Harper.’

The name sounded an alarm bell in my head. ‘You want me to forgive Hope Harper? The woman not content on having her own husband, she had to steal my-soon-to-propose-to-me!’ I shouted.

Enraged steam was coming out of my head in the very place my halo, once I had been awarded it, would be. However, at that moment I honesty doubted that I would ever be holy enough to pass the Honorary Angelic Induction Programme and be presented my golden crown.

‘No! I can’t do it. I won’t do it. If this makes or breaks my assignment, then so be it. I’ve been told often enough since I’ve been here, God loves me so He has given me free will. Well I’m exercising my free will, and it says, NO!’ I ranted as I folded my arms in a defensive action making my message as clear as the crystals surrounding me.

Still, Archangel Raziel had an answer. I just wasn’t expecting the punch-line, and believe me it was a punch right between the eyes.

‘I know you are maddened that a woman who already had a husband sidelined him for a man you were set on marrying. But Rupert had not actually proposed to you, Serena. In fact, he would not have proposed to you for that was not God’s plan.’

With my arms still folded I looked at Archangel Raziel with bewildered eyes which were searching out the meaning of his shock revelation.

‘God sent Hope to Rupert, my sweet Serena.’

‘WHAT?!’

‘God’s Universe is clear. There are infallible laws. The fear based existence you chose to follow after your uncle left your aunt disallowed love, and sent you along a road where you attracted the same events that you feared and despised; notably being unmarried and abandoned by love. You see, darling Serena, a soul cannot obsess without attracting that which the soul fixates on.

‘Hope’s thoughts were preoccupied with true love, even though she could have concerned herself more with the absent of love after marrying a man who was incapable of sharing this emotion.

‘Rupert’s path changed the day he perceived he cheated death when a juggernaut hit his vehicle. He allowed his soul to override his ego, for he was truly grateful to be alive and practically unscathed. Love flooded to Rupert taking him further away from you and straight into the arms of Hope who shared the same vibrational frequency as him.’

As the realisation of Archangel Raziel’s words hit me, I clutched my chest as if I had suffered a mortal wound. Struggling to regain my composure, I feebly asked, ‘Is this true, Archangel Raziel?’

‘I would not lie to you, Serena. Those who lie do not have God in their heart. Please do not despair, my sweet Child. God has given you this chance to right the wrongs your environment bestowed on you as a young, innocent, impressionable child. You have lived far too long in the shade, Serena. If you will allow, God very much wants you to take a vow of love. You cannot love completely if you do not forgive. Do you forgive your uncle, Serena?’

‘Yes.’

‘Do you forgive Hope Harper, Serena?’

I hesitated. The way Archangel Raziel had explained the situation it actually wasn’t Hope Harper’s fault. I was the one to blame.

‘No one is to blame here, Serena. Blame and love . . .’

‘“Cannot occupy the same space.” Yes, I’ve got it, thank you, Archangel Raziel,’ I said as I thought I wasn’t sure how comfortable I was with everyone in heaven reading my mind.

‘We do not read minds, we read energy. You too can learn to decipher energy.’

‘I can?’ I almost shouted as although Archangel Raziel statement was unexpected, it was potentially very exciting.

‘Yes, if you continue with the Honorary Angelic Induction Programme.’

‘To do that I need to forgive Hope Harper, right?’ I asked already knowing the answer, but ever hopeful for a more acceptable one.

‘To continue you need to forgive anyone who you perceive has ever wronged you, Serena.’

I looked into the healing crystals and sighed before saying, ‘It could be a very long list. Do we have enough time?’

‘We have exactly the right amount of time. Our loving Creator never leaves us wanting when we trust. Living with God, exactness is guaranteed.’

As Archangel Raziel delivered these wise words, his multi toned halo became visible. The shimmering light emitted a healing effect which helped me reason; I was so tired of living my life my way. Perhaps God’s way would be more satisfying. So following a further sigh, I scrambled for the words which didn’t want to come easily and proclaimed, ‘I forgive you, Uncle Tom. I forgive you, Rupert, for abandoning me for Hope Harper.’ I took a deep breath. ‘I forgive you, Hope,’ I stammered as I found the strength to finish, ‘. . . Harper.’

Relieved I had said the magic words with some sense of meaning, I determinedly continued to unburden myself of the forgiveness issue I had carried with me since I was a young girl.

Chapter Four

The Shell Room

 

My soul cleansing session with Archangel Raziel had left me feeling so blissful, I was able to glide through God’s heavenly realm almost as effortlessly as I had witnessed the angels move. A.M. later commented on how pure I looked. Not too pure, I hoped. Being unselfishly wicked could be fun when the right occasion presented itself. My new loving way of viewing circumstances meant I had adjusted my mindset to trust God would offer such Divinely orchestrated instances, as long as I kept my ego in check and love in my heart and soul.

Having had my life review and forgiveness therapy, I wondered what was still to come in my Honorary Angelic Induction Programme. Despite my new found blissful approach, I couldn’t help but think the timetable wasn’t running as efficiently as it could. I hadn’t even been issued with a course plan, so I had no idea what stage I had achieved. I mean was I near to completion, or had I only just started? And where was I meant to be now? I was aimlessly gliding around God’s estate, when for all I knew some angel in the west wing maybe waiting for me while I was in the far eastern realm.

‘You are exactly where you are meant to be,’ A.M. informed me as he appeared out of nowhere.

Miraculously, I didn’t jump at A.M.’s sudden manifestation. On the contrary, I was feeling profoundly relaxed after I had stopped to view God’s country when I realised, all I needed to do to look out of a window from what appeared to be a windowless kingdom, was to have the desire to do so, and the stone walls melted away to reveal a magical world too amazingly beautiful to describe with mere words.

I reluctantly tore my gaze away from the most dramatic rainbow I had ever had the privilege to witness, to ask A.M., ‘I am?’

‘Of course. Everything is Divinely Timed, especially so in God’s house.’ Changing tack he said, ‘Soul inspiring, is it not?’ as he gestured towards the purple tinged sky that held the colourful arch I had been admiring.

‘Can one really find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, A.M.?’

‘Serena, with God in your life all moments are golden and abundance of all good things is assured, so there is no need to chase fables for the leprechauns’ gold. Besides, leprechauns are notoriously mischievous, so you would do well to leave them alone.’

‘Leprechauns! You’re telling me these funny, little bearded men in their top hats and curled up shoes really exist?’ I asked surprised.

‘Of course. Who do you think supplies the shoes you wear?’

‘A.M! Next you will be telling me the leprechauns live side by side with the Pegasus who are responsible for flying our human planes.’

‘Yes, to the first part. The leprechauns and the Pegasus live just beyond the rainbow along with the unicorns, the dragons, the fairies, the light elves, and other creatures humankind has ostracised, leaving them in the main present in your world in fairy tale form only. No, to the Pegasus powering your mode of flying, for the Pegasus are too noble for such menial work.’

I ignored A.M.’s last comment as my mind was occupied with, ‘“light elves.” Are you implying there are dark elves?’

‘There are many dark creatures, Serena. When the Almighty created life He granted all beings the legacy of free will. The few who are under the false pretence that Lucifer is more powerful than the Lord, sided with the Devil. Among them are some elves who instantaneously turned from light to dark when they crossed over to the Fallen Angel.’

‘Oh my goodness! Who else turned bad?’

‘Bad is a perception of one’s mind. It would be more accurate to state facts, like the expectations placed on your legal system. Stating facts is your forte, Serena. This is one of the reasons God knows you are perfect for this assignment.’

‘Let me rephrase my question. Who else turned to the dark side?’

‘It is not wise to dwell on such things. Although I will offer a word to the wise; if you ever come across an imp, do not trust him. With this said, I would like to emphasis there are many life forms which are absolute and faithful to our Father.’

‘Like angels?’

‘Angels are eternally true to God. We do not have free will to tussle with, as being Messengers of God it is vitally important that we honour God’s celestial work indisputably.’

‘Let me be clear – your absence of free will is why you are devoted to God?’

‘Essentially, yes. Yet, any being pure of heart and soul is faithfully devoted to the Alpha.’

‘What I don’t understand is; why did God give free will out as a function? Surely, it would be easier for Him to control us all without free will hindering His progress?’

‘Who said God wants to control?’ A.M. said without any deviation to his calm demeanour.

‘God is the Maker; the Puppeteer if you like. How can He master His subjects if He has given us free will to block His will?’

‘God did not create life to manipulate His creations, Serena. God formed life and blessed each spirit with the freedom of choice to encourage growth.’

‘Surely not all souls grow?’

‘Whether they do or they do not, it is not for us to judge.’

‘A.M., why did God omit to give angels free will?’

‘Angels have messages to deliver. If we had free will, we would not deliver every message as it was intended.’

‘OK, let me get this straight: angels are trustworthy Messengers of God; leprechauns are playfully naughty; light elves are loyal to God, dark elves are not; imps are not to be trusted. What about fairies, unicorns, Pegasus and dragons?’

‘Fairies are dedicated to God. Some of the fairies choose to do God’s work here in His house. Have you noticed there are no dark corners in God’s dominion?’

‘I can’t honestly say I’ve given it much thought.’

‘When you walk alone in God’s kingdom, have you felt an unexplained presence?’

‘Now you come to mention it, I do get the feeling I’m accompanied, even though I’m clearly not.’

‘You think you glimpse something out of the corner of your eye, but when you look around there is nothing there?’

‘That’s exactly what has been happening. I thought it was the lighting.’ I looked to A.M. for an answer.

‘In a sense it is. You see the fairies assist God by giving light to His realm with their Divinely magical wands.’

‘I thought the sun acted as the light bulb here?’

‘The sun does bless this house with light. However, it is supported by the fairies. Fairies are peaceful folk who seek quiet places. Although rarely seen, the ones who do not dwell here honour your woodlands with their care and protection in return for the forests tranquility. The two complement each other perfectly, and bless mankind for your woods are a haven from the noisy polluted existence your cities offer.’

‘Do you see the fairies here, A.M.?’

‘They surround us.’

‘Why do they hide from me? I’m an honorary angel?’ I said a little hurt.

‘You are in training for honorary angelic status. Once this privilege has been granted by God, the fairies will reveal themselves to you.

‘The unicorns and Pegasus are ancient and wise. They are the Creator’s symbol of purity and grace, and are among God’s most loyal servants.

‘Dragons can be tricky. The Devil took dragon form when he fought me in the Great Battle of Heaven. Indisputably, the dragons that live in God’s paradise are faithful to our Lord and have immense respect for Him, whereas the same cannot be said with their dealings of others.’

Before I could say anymore, A.M. tenderly commanded, ‘Now, follow me. We need to turn here,’ he beckoned, ‘then it is just a bit further down this way. Here we are.’ A.M. gestured towards a shell covered door. ‘This is Archangel Raguel’s study. This door use to be covered in ice, and the interior was icy cold with frozen stalagmites and stalactites decorations, but visitors would occasionally skewer themselves on the icicles.’ I raised my eyebrows, a movement seemingly oblivious to A.M. as he continued nonchalantly, ‘After God, Jesus, Archangel Raphael, and I had administered several emergency healings, God suggested Archangel Raguel may like to redecorate his quarters. As Archangel Raguel favours the sea, a harmless aquarium theme, minus actual water, seemed far more fitting. He does keep a favoured tree from before his refurbishment which resembles a fern, but is made purely of snow drops, and also several ice structures, all with rounded edges so as not to cause any harm.’

‘I see,’ I answered as my eyebrows started to resettle.

After I had barely finished my response, A.M. announced, ‘Archangel Raguel counsels and mediates.’

‘Who does he counsel and mediate for?’

‘Anyone who requires his services.’

‘I’ve made my peace so I really don’t think I need to see Archangel Raguel, A.M.’

‘My sweet Child, that is exactly why you are seeing Archangel Raguel.’

I looked confused.

‘Archangel Raguel is not here to counsel or mediate for you.’

‘He isn’t?’

‘No. As you said, you have found peace. That is evident in the way you glide around. If your heart remained heavy you would still be trudging around as if in chains, instead of floating with freedom.’

‘Then why do I need a counselor who also mediates?’

‘Archangel Raguel is going to help you with the task God has assigned to you.’

‘He is? So I’m finally going to find out what I need to do to get home?’

‘Everything will be revealed to you at precisely the right time, Serena. Divine Timing is exact.’ With this statement, A.M. swung open the shell door and gestured for me to go in.

The shell theme continued inside. It really did authenticate the seaside. I could hear and smell the ocean, and I felt the light, refreshing breeze of the wind on my face.

‘You can hear it?’

I looked up from the detailed shell floor which had caught my attention. Standing on a spot which had only moments before been empty was an angel, who even though was dressed to the contrary in pale blue robes, reminded me of an ambassador. Why that should be so, I couldn’t say. All I know is when I looked at Archangel Raguel I could understand why he was chosen to be God’s mediator angel.

‘Yes,’ I answered as I noted Archangel Raguel emitted an aura the same colour as his robes.

‘Good. I am Archangel Raguel. I am very pleased to meet you, Serena. Please sit.’

The predominately seaweed green, wooden chair Archangel Raguel gestured me to admirably represented the sea. Oyster pearls speckled the frame and edged the mermaid back rest, while an octopus acted as the lumbar support.

‘I’m pleased to meet you, Archangel Raguel,’ I said as I sat, hoping against the odds that the octopus didn’t come to life and bind me if I failed this part of my training. ‘A.M., I mean, Archangel Michael said you will brief me.’

‘I will.’ His wise face stared intensely at me.

Even though I was feeling slightly self conscious under such close scrutiny, I gathered my courage and enquired, ‘Is now the right time?’

‘It may well be.’

As Archangel Raguel and I continued to sit in silence, I speculated God either wished to reinforce my need to be patient, or the timing wasn’t precisely right. I was just thinking I may well get the rest I had asked for after my life review, when Archangel Raguel spoke.

‘Archangel Michael will return shortly to assist.’

‘Assist in what, Archangel Raguel?’

‘God wishes for you to be assigned to this particular case.’ Archangel Raguel tapped a file on the table separating us.

‘Why on earth, I mean, why in heaven does God want my help?’

‘Your track record as a no-nonsense lawyer was a consideration,’ Archangel Raguel offered as an explanation.

I wasn’t overly satisfied with this reasoning so I probed, ‘There are other successful lawyers so I repeat – why does God want my help?’

‘God did have another reason.’

‘What reason?’

‘I am not at liberty to say. What I can say is; you will not be alone. You will have the help of all the Archangels. I will assist you with my specialty of counselling and mediating until you have acquired the relevant skills. You will also have the aid of the Angels of Hope. Once Archangel Michael has finally briefed you, you will have all the expertise to bring this case to a successful conclusion.’

With intrigue in my voice I said, ‘Please tell me everything I need to know, Archangel Raguel, including who are the Angels of Hope?’

‘I can tell you, you will need to mediate to protect mankind and you will need to counsel a colleague in crisis.’

‘One of my colleagues is involved in my assignment?!’ I was so shocked at this news, I completely missed the implications of interceding on behalf of the human race, and instead I challenged, ‘If a colleague is in crisis, why haven’t they been hurled out of their body to tidy up their own mess?’

Archangel Raguel ignored my interruption and continued, ‘If we can control the situation as we hope to, and if the Angels of Hope do their job and do not go ‘holier-than-thou’ on us, it will be a clean and simple execution. But if just one angel slips up, you may well need the Divine Light.’

‘Forgive me, Archangel Raguel. Archangel Michael told me angels don’t have free will.’

‘That is correct.’

‘What I don’t understand is, if the Angels of Hope don’t have free will, why is there a question mark over their compliance? Surely, if it is God’s wish that they help me complete His task, they wouldn’t dare to “go ‘holier-than-thou’ on us” and defy God?’

‘In the simplest terms the Angels of Hope represent God’s rebellious side,’ Archangel Raguel answered me.

‘God has a rebellious side?’

‘My dear Child, who do you think created rebellion?’

As I puzzled Archangel Raguel’s answer, he continued.

‘The Angels of Hope are a collective group of angels that bring hope to the human race, to a certain extent like Robin Hood who is depicted in English folklore. They are very good at their job, but they do tend to be sticklers for the rules, which is why I say this assignment could go either way. Ultimately, good must prevail, so even if you do not acquire the Angels of Hope’s compliance, you will triumph, Serena, for you must.’

‘If the Angels of Hope are ‘sticklers for the rules,’ why then would they dream of rebelling against God’s authority?’ I asked as I tried not to dwell on the responsibility that was being landed on my shoulders.

‘If the rules change, which they must sometimes to restore the Universes equilibrium, the Angels of Hope take indignation to this and refuse to continue unless the old policies are reinstated.’

I processed what Archangel Raguel was saying as carefully as I managed all the facts in a litigation case. On analysis it seemed to me human law was much simpler than God’s.

Clearing his throat to gain my full attention, once again Archangel Raguel carried on with my instruction.

‘Over the years’ I have modified the counselling course I run to make it idiot proof. Instead of hours and hours of reading mixed with practical work, now there really is only one document you need to memorise. If the truth be told, even if you do not manage to commit it to memory, just make sure you have it to hand so you can read it to your assignee.’

‘What does this document say?’ I asked.

‘“God, the Creator of all that is, all that has ever been before, and all that will ever be, loves you, (insert name). You are a holy child of God, (insert name), and as such you have power beyond measure. You do not have to remain in this place powerless. You can choose now to leave this unhealthy situation and live the type of life you deserve. A life so full of magic and miracles, it will take your breath away. God promises you if you allow Him, He will heal your world. But even if you turn your back on Him, He will never forsake you, for you are His most precious creation ever, (insert name).”’

As Archangel Raguel handed me a very ancient looking scroll, he added, ‘Serena, this is very important. You must say this word for word, otherwise it will not help. God created every soul on the foundation of this document. Even if a human mind is not ready to hear this message, the soul will remember.’

‘Got it; I just whip out this scroll and as I read the words common sense will prevail. What about the mediation part of my training?’

‘There is a scroll for arbitration too,’ Archangel Raguel said as he took a document from one of his shell covered shelves and placed it in my manicured hands as he recited its contents.

‘“God, the Creator of all that is, all that has ever been before, and all that will ever be, loves you, (insert name). You are a holy child of God, (insert name), and as such you have God’s ability to be loving and merciful, for our Father knows no bounds to His love and His mercy. God promises you, if you live your life in love and mercy regardless of the actions of others, you will be rewarded on earth and in heaven, (insert name).”’

He paused giving me time to absorb the words which acted like a key to ones soul, before he asked, ‘Do you have any questions, Serena?’

‘How will I know when to use the scrolls? On reflection I think many of my contemporaries could do with counseling,’ I stated with an air of perplexity.

‘You will know, Serena.’

Realising I wasn’t going to secure a more definite answer, I added, ‘Do the scrolls come in handy pocket size?’

‘Thank you for reminding me. The scrolls are for you to keep; although we do find it helps tremendously if you leave the subject with a leaflet to peruse. I thought I had them just here,’ Archangel Raguel said as he poked around the shelf he’d taken the mediation scroll from. ‘I must have run out. I will get administration to print some copies for you.’

‘Thank you.’

‘You are most welcome. Are you clear on everything I have imparted to you, Serena?’

‘You said I may need the Divine Light. Will I need training for that too?’

Archangel Raguel smiled as he answered, ‘No, Divine Light is God’s work. You see every soul is lit with Divine Light. On occasions the light is barely more than a spark. This happens when a soul decides not to recall its origin. But no soul can truly forget our Father, for His loving hand can reach into the darkest despair and reignite the ember to restore true Divine Light. God will know if He needs to intercede and employ Divine Light. So do not forget, you will not be alone. If you need anything, just call.’

I was going to ask how an honorary angel might call God’s elite team. Was I going to be issued with a pre-programmed-speed-dial mobile? If so, as my main mentor A.M. had to be pre-set as number one.

However, before I could inquire, Archangel Raguel announced, ‘It is all God’s work, Serena,’ and disappeared quite as suddenly as he’d materialised.

Archangel Raguel had said A.M. would see me afterwards, so I stayed in the shell room and waited as I marvelled at the sea lion, penguin, and dolphin ice sculptures, which one minute would be as still as the statutes they were and the next would playfully swim around Archangel Raguel’s study as if it were a big expanse of ocean.

Chapter Five

The Being of Light

 

I didn’t have to wait long before A.M. yet again materialised out of thin air.

‘Are you fully proficient in counselling and mediating?’ he asked as he sat down where Archangel Raguel had been a few minutes beforehand.

‘Yes, it’s easy. If my back-up team, the Angels of Hope, get too ‘holier-than-thou’ I employ you Archangels. If that doesn’t work I read the scrolls and leave handouts, which I need to collect from administration. As a last resort God will administer the Divine Light.’

‘You are a good student, and as a reward God has heard and answered your request to go to your funeral.’

‘WHAT?! A.M., on reflection I don’t think that’s a good idea. I’m going back to my life once I’ve finished my assignment. How can I go back to a body that has been cremated?’

A.M. chose not to answer me. His silence made me feel very ill at ease (thinking about one’s chard body can have this effect), and with the realisation the Devil’s hand maybe at work creating a very clever heavenly illusion, I remembered the words of my old Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Thirkettle.

After Betsy Lake had sworn on the bible that she’d seen a spirit floating down the hallway of the cottage she and her family were holidaying in, Mrs. Thirkettle had told our young eager ears one of the great spiritual laws of God’s Universe. The law stipulates if a being appears and its origin is uncertain, it must answer truthfully if challenged three times in the name of God.

With immense trepidation I looked A.M. in the eyes and said in as strong a voice as I could muster, ‘In the name of God and all that is holy, are you a being of light?’

A bright light illuminated the snow drop fern tree and shell covered wall behind A.M. as he answered, ‘Yes,’ bringing a sense of utopia to my sinister fears.

With tears in my eyes and a feeling in my heart that desperately hoped A.M. was telling the truth, again I posed the question, and to my relief the answer was the same. As I hesitated on the brink of the third and final time I would ask A.M., I wondered what I would do if the outcome wasn’t favouarble.

Mrs. Thirkettle hadn’t enlightened us with this information. All because Patsy Mulligan had run terrified from her seat, screaming so loud the stain glass windows actually shook.

I took a deep breath and began, holding my voice as steady as I could manage given I was shaking all over.

A.M.’s welcome answer brought me to my knees in a flood of tears, as the unexplained light that had appeared with his first reply magnified in both brilliance and magnitude.

As I allowed the light to penetrate me, I lifted my bowed head to meet A.M.’s eyes as I said, ‘I’m sorry, A.M. I’m just confused, and I’m scared at the thought of my body being barbequed.’

He knelt down to me before ever so tenderly helping me back to the sea creature chair.

When I was settled he reassured me, ‘I know it seems complicated now, Serena, but I promise you it is not. God will take care of the finer details so you do not need to worry. Worry is underpinned by fear, and fear is the most destructive emotion known to the human race. Fear is at the other end of the spectrum to love. You cannot get any further away from love than fear. Fill your heart and soul with love, and trust in God who incidentally would like to see you again before we head off.’

‘He would! Wait, you said “before we head off.” Does that mean you’re coming with me?’ I asked with a mix of excitement and relief.

‘I am. To shape-shift into orb form takes some practice. God wants you to have perfected our preferred way of travel before you set off on your mission, so I am going to help you.’

‘Oh, I’m so pleased you’re accompanying me, A.M. You see now you’ve pacified me that frying my body will not prevent me from returning to my life once my assignment is complete, I find I’m quite nervous, as one’s funeral is the ultimate party when one finds out if one is the popular girl one tries so hard to be.’ I paused and thought before adding, ‘It’s a real shame no one will see the gown I’m wearing though. God’s tailor certainly knows how to manipulate fabric. I’ve never seen such a beautifully crafted outfit, and believe me on my salary I can afford to shop in the most prestigious fashion houses.’

‘Serena, do not let such inconsequential events bother you.’

‘A.M., my funeral is far from “inconsequential.”’

‘Serena, it is all an illusion.’

‘So that’s how God is pulling this off. Was it the same for Jesus – God elaborated a simple illusion?’

‘Serena, what you wear to your funeral is of no consequence, and who is or who is not at your funeral is definitely of no importance, because when you return to your earthy life, if you live with Divine Love in your heart, there will not be a chapel large enough to accommodate the congregation who will wish to mourn your passing once it is your time to cross over. So please just view this first funeral of yours as a practice for the real thing which will be many years’ to come,’ A.M. said without any sign of frustration.

‘Truly, I’m going to live to see old age? Is that what Archangel Azrael told you? He should know, don’t you think?’

Ignoring my question, A.M. continued, ‘All the Archangels have a distinctive colour. As you may have guessed from my cloak, mine is royal purple with a hint of blue.’

‘I’m guessing Archangel Raphael’s is green, as a green light embraced me when Archangel Raphael spoke to me at my life review?’

‘Yes, that is right. Archangel Raphael has been blessed with the gift of healing. When he senses a soul is vulnerable he extends his loving aura. On most occasions his healing light flames the Divine Light within, so the soul can continue the healing process.’

‘Archangel Raguel not only wore pale blue, but he released a gas like substance exactly the same shade. On that basis, I would say with certainty that Archangel Raguel’s colour is pale blue,’ I surmised.

‘Right again. When an Archangel orbs, the sphere glows the colour of the Archangel. So my orb will radiate predominately purple, Archangel Raphael’s orb will be bright emerald, and Archangel Raguel’s orb is indeed the colour of the matter you saw in his energy field. For you, Serena, God has chosen red.’

‘RED! I hate red,’ I said childishly.

‘Love cannot come from “hate”, Serena.’

‘Forgive me, A.M., but that’s a contradiction of terms if I ever heard one.’

‘Serena, you may not have realised that God has a very good sense of humour. Goodness knows He should since God created humour at the dawn of time. He knows you are not fond of red, and He found your “Devil-ettes” depiction of the Devil’s ‘angels’ most amusing indeed. On a more serious note, God is giving you a blessing.’

‘Really! How do you figure that? It’s bad enough that red disagrees with my hair. It also emphasises my nose’s tendency to colour which invites Rudolph jokes. Wait a minute! How does God know about “Devil-ettes”? That was a private comment I made in my head to myself, and it was most certainly not meant to be shared with anyone else, including God,’ I said brusquely.

‘If you run from something, it will almost undoubtedly chase you. However, if you face your demons they can no longer hound you. Although red is the Devil’s preferred choice of colour, God does not consider it bad and He wishes you to feel the same. He is confident once you have seen the magnificence of your orb you will embrace the colour red.’

‘It won’t just be my orb though, will it? I’m going to be forced to wear a red cloak, and then I’m leaving myself open to ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ jokes. Who’s going to take me seriously if all they can picture is Little Red Riding Hood or Mrs. Claus?’ I sulked.

‘I think once you have seen the majestic red cloak God has personally asked his tailor to style for you, you will be impressed, just as you are in awe of your gown. Now, if you are ready God is waiting to present your cloak and grant you the ability to orb.’

‘A.M., first I want to know if God listens to all the private conversations I have with myself?’ I asked haughtily.

‘Who do you think gives you the words? Serena, you always know what you need to say, precisely when you need to say it, courtesy of God, because He loves you enough to listen to you. You may object to my statement as you do not always hear God, even though you have prayed for direction. Stop and consciously listen to God and you will be awakened to Divine guidance.’

Even though I knew it was my own human failings presenting the emotion, I felt chastised by A.M. I wanted him to say he wasn’t chiding me. Instead, he encased me in his cloak and orbed us to God’s chambers.

My feelings of inadequacy disappeared immediately with the thrill of my travel arrangements. I was just contemplating a world where mankind could orb and the many benefits orbing would bring, such as no more high fuel costs, when I became aware of the harp music I heard during my first audience with God. I had found it wearisome so had been extremely thankful it had been confined to God’s chambers. However, I realised as I progressed with my training the music had steadily began to seep back into my consciousness. I had to admit though; it was unmistakably more vocal when in God’s quarters.

Strangely, it didn’t seem to bother me as much as it had. A.M. explained this was the purification I had been going through, and he told me Archangel Sandalphon, the Angel of Music who was responsible for orchestrating the symphony, had toned down my receptors as soon as he was aware I found his composition tiresome. I was concerned I may have offended Archangel Sandalphon, but A.M. assured me Archangels didn’t take umbrage.

As I walked across God’s throne room, rays of golden sunlight shone down from the ether illuminating the white clouds which were floating effortlessly in the gentle breeze I could feel. There was no need for thermostatic controlled air conditioning in God’s kingdom, as judging by my comfort, the breeze kept the air at the perfect temperature for each individual.

At points the cloud coverage was dense enough to completely hide the lower part of my form. Even though I knew better, from the moment my soul had been wrenched from my physical body, my entire experience in heaven had been so surreal it seemed at that moment more feasible I had been propelled to a film set where the technician had gone overboard with the fog machine.

God was seated on His throne between A.M. and, I guessed, Archangel Sandalphon, who orchestrated Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber so Divinely, for the first time ever my heart was touched by music.

‘Barber’s Divine life purpose was to compose My soul cleansing music,’ God addressed me.

I smiled just before I proclaimed, ‘I was a little preoccupied last time we met so I didn’t really comprehend the absurdity of the fact that You look exactly as I expected You to.’

He chuckled before answering, ‘I have no apparent form for I AM all that is, all that has ever been before, and all that will ever be. To connect wisely with your humanised soul I manifest in the form that is most acceptable to you. You, Serena Olivia Unity Lewis, have always thought I resemble Old Father Time; so here I sit before you akin to My old friend.’

‘So You don’t really look like Old Father Time?’ I said disappointed.

‘Dear Serena, I AM known as ‘I AM’ as I AM everywhere. However, this is not to be confused with the nickname A.M. you have chosen for Archangel Michael. I AM the clock you set to rise each morning. I AM the taxi you use on rainy days’ to keep you protected from My elements. I AM the words you wield in the court room to propel your case. I AM the laughter, the tears, and the love you share with all who are precious to you. If ‘Mischief’ Myers, the nickname you have affectionately given your friend Molly, were here, she would see Me as a cross between Father Christmas and Merlin. I AM neither, but at the same time I AM both.’

‘I see . . . I think.’

‘My throne is only elaborately decorated with gold as that is what you wish to see. I always grant wishes, Serena. When mankind produces evidence opposing this notion, it is not because I have forsaken My children. On the contrary, I honour their hope, but if that hope is entangled with desperation, it is underpinned by fear.’

‘Oh, I know this. Archangel Michael enlightened me. “Fear is the most destructive emotion known to the human race. Fear is at the other end of the spectrum to love. You cannot get any further away from love than fear,”’ I proudly recited.

‘Archangel Michael speaks the truth. Fear is most destructive.’

‘I’m puzzled, God. If “fear is most destructive” then why in heavens name did You create it? Surely, life would be happier if “fear” was not an option?’

‘I created fear as the opposite end of the spectrum to love. Simply put; to define small one has to understand big. To say something is cold one has to know hot. Opposites exist to give clarity. One can love and fear at the same time, but to truly love, fear can have no part.

‘Often one does not forgive for fear of endorsing the unforgivable. Archangel Raziel mentored you well on the topic of forgiveness, and I AM immensely proud of you, My beautiful Child, for implementing these teachings. You honour Me as you are very near to completing your honorary angelic status. When you return from your funeral, I AM confident you will be ready. Until then, for your protection I give you your cloak of Divine armour,’ God said as he held up an impressive magenta cape.

‘Magenta? Archangel Michael said it was red. Magenta is far more acceptable than red,’ I squealed.

‘Yes, magenta is the colour I have chosen for you, sweet Serena. I do not believe you will be disappointed, for this shade of magenta has been designed by Me for you as a token of My love, and Archangel Jophiel, My Angel of Beauty, added the finishing touches.

‘I AM certain you find this magnificent shade far more acceptable than the colour it derives from: red. However, I would ask you not to forget; red is a member of the purple family and purple is the colour of royalty. Furthermore, I would recommend that you respect the burning colour of: the awe-inspiring sunset; the fire that gives warmth, and for so many centuries light, that was until My child Thomas Edison gave humanity the electric light bulb. For the primary colour red is one of three colours that transforms your world from black and white. Red is mixed with blue to make violet, but equal percentages of the two creates the stunning colour that will be draped over your shoulders, and will light your sphere as you travel in My name.

‘Now, go forth with Archangel Michael with a loving, forgiving, and fearless heart, and travel regally in your Divinely magenta orb.’

I stepped hesitantly forward so that God could present my robe, as when I dared to think of the road that lay ahead of me, excitement in an equivalent amount to dread cursed through my veins. When He wrapped the material around me, which was softer than velvet, a ray of light beamed down, just as one would expect to see on the star of a West End show. I basked in its brilliance, and just as I thought I couldn’t feel more loved, an angelic choir appeared and filled heaven with their enchanted holy sound.

When the choir finished, God addressed me once more in a loving tone, the like I had never heard before. ‘Serena, please know no matter what you think and feel for Me, I will always love you as any loving parent would.’

Later at my funeral I was to discover the significance of God’s departing words.

Chapter Six

The Funeral

 

A.M. led me to the orbing practice room while I endlessly chatted to him about how amusing it was to me, that a figure perceived to have great wisdom seemed to be always depicted as having white hair, usually long, and a fine white beard. God was naturally the absolute of this image, followed in no particular order by: Old Father Time, Merlin, and Father Christmas.

‘Serena, God can be found in all you have mentioned and everything else besides. To label God is a careless mistake which can lead to missing His love and blessings which reside everywhere,’ A.M. kindly informed me as he turned the handle to the bewitched, purpley-black, star encrusted door that gently propelled shooting stars out into the hallway we occupied, and blessed us with a stunning display of falling stars that glided down the vinyl doorway to the room where I would master the art to orb.

The galaxy theme continued as we stepped inside, while in a steep contrast I was also reminded of a padded cell.

Before I opted out of corporate law I had a client I represented in all her business affairs. That was until she was committed. At her family’s request, I did meet with her on one occasion at her new home. I was just thinking crisp white padded cells and images of mental patients wasn’t the imagery one needed for orbing practice, when the room magically altered.

Piles of large luxurious cushions in a variety of colours now hid the padded cell floor. The monstrous mound rose so high, a good portion of the walls were also concealed. The part still visible had changed from clinical white to a rainbow of pastel colours, which complimented the vibrancy of the cushions. Seated high on the deluxe cushioning, I felt engulfed by my bright, star clustered surroundings.

I looked at A.M. for an explanation.

‘Orbing can throw up challenges for the novice. God decided the change in room decor would help you focus more successfully. Do not fear, you will not fly off into space,’ A.M. reassured my unspoken concern. ‘God has commanded His Universe to keep you in the practice room until you are capable of orbing. The Universe obeys laws. One such law is the Universe will never question God’s authority.

‘Once you can form your sphere, we will travel together, orbs entwined so if you lose concentration you will stay safely enclosed in my orb’s protection.’

I nodded to acknowledge I had understood, as I was certain my words would fail me given the dryness of my mouth.

‘Now, you have your magenta cloak so there is absolutely no reason why you cannot orb. If it does not work, it is purely psychological. The mind can struggle to believe that which it does not know.’

‘So I just need to have faith?’ I managed to say barely above a whisper.

‘Faith in God produces miraculous results. When there appears nowhere to turn and prospects are bleak, God will always find a way, for He is all knowing and seeing.’

A.M. looked at my face which was becoming increasingly contorted as I concentrated on transforming my form into a globe.

‘Do not try so hard, Serena. How did it feel when I wrapped you in my cloak and you travelled in my orb?’

‘Thrilling!’ I almost shouted as my vocals recovered and my hardened, twisted face relaxed at the memory.

A.M. smiled kindly and asked, ‘What else do you recall?’

‘I felt so light. I expected to feel squashed into a circular shape and . . .’

‘Concentrate on how you felt as opposed to what you anticipated. If you think logically about orbing, I may well still be trying to get you off the ground in the next millennium.’

‘I floated like a bubble as it drifts in the air just before it bursts.’

‘Your orb will not burst, Serena. Now, concentrate.’ Although A.M. was firm with me, his undertone was coated in love. ‘Did you doubt for one moment you could orb with me?’

‘You didn’t give me a chance to doubt, A.M. You whisked me up into your cloak before I knew what was happening.’

‘Had you objected, even non-verbally, your discontent would have grounded us. You are a powerful being, Serena. God made you in His likeness and bestowed to you His abilities. You can be, do, or have anything you desire. Do you wish to orb?’

‘Yes, but I’m a lawyer. I deal with facts, concrete, scientifically proven facts.’

‘Serena, forgive me for contradicting you, but I know if the only way you could win a case that you believed in was by unorthodox means, you would not hesitate, for you are an excellent lawyer who pursues every possibility. To orb is going to require you to access the part of your brain which accepts the unconventional.’

A.M. was right. I am a stickler for traditionalism. On the other hand, when the need arises I can switch to be nonconformist. If ever there was a time which demanded me to acknowledge the free spirit side of my personality, that time was learning to orb.

If I had been prepared by NASA, orbing would have been unproblematic. In the absence of such training, I invited my solution finding frontal lobe to reveal the key to enable me to change shapes and glide in a ball to my funeral. Appreciating my problem was at the extreme scale, I recalled reading the brain was more likely to solve a problem during sleep. So I closed my eyes, but not before I appreciated the support I was being offered by the Archangels I had been mentored by, who smoothly glided around the room in their vibrant orbs amidst a shower of stars and a constellation firework display.

My breathing became more regulated as I relaxed. I pulled my cloak around me like a comfort blanket, until I felt the same safe cocooned sensation I had when A.M. engulfed me in his.

I visualised myself becoming lighter. I often dived for stress relief from the highest board into the Olympic size pool my law firm housed in the company’s leisure complex. The moment my feet left the surface I was free, that was until I landed with a splash. If only I could trick my brain into thinking I had defied gravity, so instead of diving downwards I sprung upwards.

At this thought, my brain switched to the Pilates wunda chair I had used. I found it to be an ingenious device to help me stretch and tone, and build stamina and strength. It required me to focus the work in my abdominal muscles so my feet could become light enough to lift the arm of the chair off the floor. I remembered how I thought at first it was an impossible feat, but slowly and steadily, with much determination the arm rose.

I smiled at the memory of my achievement. It had been a particularly trying time at work. Everything had been going wrong. I was mentally exhausted, and despite the fact I could ill afford the time, I needed to balance my body with some physical exertion that didn’t involve the time taken to wash and style my hair which swimming would dictate. Pilates was ideal as I could chose to restrain myself and therefore hardly even perspire, eliminating the need for timely maintenance. My accomplishment at the Pilates studio fired my determination to succeed and win my client all of her unreasonable demands on her ex-husband.

As I reflected that particular case, I saw magenta sparks behind my tightly shut eyes just before there was a very light thud as I fell on to the cushion base.

‘You were floating. Another few seconds and you would have gained enough height to change into orb form,’ A.M. praised me.

‘I was floating? YIPPEE! Why didn’t you tell me I had levitated?’

‘I did not want to break your concentration. You were doing brilliantly until you remembered you had helped an individual with unscrupulous demands. Try it again without the later memory.’

I did as A.M. requested, careful only to dwell on the excitement of my triumph with the wunda chair. I forced myself to let euphoria consume me until I experienced the same thrill I had when A.M. orbed with me. As I opened my eyes, my surroundings were tinged with the slightest magenta glow which confirmed I had done it; I was safely encased in my very own orb.

In orb form, A.M. took my hand to the applause of the Archangels who transfigured back to their celestial bodies just as the padded walls opened outwards, scattering the cushions to reveal the most heavenly view. As we floated out into heavens atmosphere that had altered from the great expanse of the Milky Way to a glorious sunny day, I noticed if I looked where our orb’s merged a tint of mauve coloured the amazing scene before us.

The wonders I had seen on earth were incomparable to those in God’s land. We flew over a waterfall of greater magnitude than Niagara Falls, and at the waterfalls base was a lake larger than the Caspian Sea. Lush green fields, more picturesque than any English countryside scene, rolled into the distance where they were met by great snow capped mountains. Multi coloured streams trickled down the glassy, black faces of these granite monsters and continued at the base, channeling the grassy vista with various shades of the colours of the rainbow as well as silver and gold, before merging with hot springs which bubbled in the brilliance of the sunlight.

A God made bubble machine ejected perfectly formed, different coloured spheres from the springs into the ether, which the baby unicorns that played in the heavenly landscape chased and burst with their gleaming white spiral horns. The adult unicorns looked over their young, their golden horns sparkling in the suns vividness. And then, just as I thought I couldn’t possibly witness anything else to rival the sight before me, we were accompanied by a herd of white winged horses. Their magnificent manes blew in the gentle crosswind, which mercifully didn’t affect my own thick mass of hair courtesy of my orbs protection.

Orbing into the snow covered crematorium seemed mundane after soaring through heaven with the Pegasus.

As the shivering pallbearers carried my body to the tune of Roberta Flacks version of Killing Me Softly, my attention was drawn to the heavily decorative, stainless steel casket my body was occupying. As a priority I would make an amendment to my will specifying exactly what coffin I would like to be cremated in, as the box before me was totally unsuitable to be my final resting place. I couldn’t believe I had neglected such detail, especially since I knew the fashion gaffs the women who raised me made, so there was no doubt in my mind who had chosen the monstrosity. If I had thought for one minute my time would be up before hers, I would certainly have already taken care of every detail.

The pallbearers, who I vaguely recognised as distant cousins, clumsily placed my coffin down next to me. I was sure they would have been more careful if they knew I was watching them.As I looked around at the bereaved who occupied the circular room, my eyes fell on the chief mourner sitting at the front of the sun blessed room on an ornamental, gold framed chair, with a plump scarlet cushioned seat. True to form, the black outfit she was wearing was a miss-match of styles, none of which were suitable for a funeral, and even less appropriate for the climate which had dropped over ten degrees in the week since my death. As I looked into her swollen red eyes which she hadn’t bothered to conceal with sunglasses, even though the cloudless sky permitted the sun to make such accessories acceptable, I dropped the criticism and prayed.

‘Dear God. If you can see the state my mother is in, please either:

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Freeze time so my mother doesn’t suffer anymore

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Get a message to her so she is privy to Your illusion

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Speed up my assignment so I can get back to my life with minimal grief to my mother

Thank you. Love Serena xxx

P.S. Where my dad is concerned, ditto to all of the above.’

‘God has heard you, and He could not be prouder of you, Serena, for putting the feelings of others before your own is a beautiful act of kindness. God wants you to know He is with your parents now helping them through this phase, and once normality is restored, everything will be returned to exactly as it is destined to be without any lasting harmful effects.’

‘Thank you, A.M. That is some comfort. I’m shocked I felt so sad for all those who are mourning me. Yet, since I sent my prayer to God, I feel totally detached from their emotion and my own body which is currently occupying that distasteful casket.’ I needlessly gestured towards the offensive burial-box. ‘I’m not even concerned how I look, even though I suspect my mother has instructed the funeral home to dress me in some hideous outfit, suitably warm for the weather, and my makeup, if I’m wearing any, has probably seen better days’. But none of that matters to me – honestly. I don’t even think I will be upset if you don’t let me peak inside to see if someone at the funeral home has overridden my mother so I will at least be cremated with some style.’

‘It is one thing to see your coffin, Serena. To see your lifeless body could be too damaging for you. Be that as it may, God will not stop you if you decide to look.’

‘Is that because I have free will to choose for myself?’

‘That’s exactly right, Serena. God can guide you. Still, it is up to you whether or not you listen and take notice.’

I looked to my side where my outlandish coffin lay. Before I could weigh up the pros and cons of sticking my head inside, my service began.

As the veteran and portly vicar swayed in his pulpit while he said all the right things such as: I was too young to die; a promising career cut off in its prime; family and friends cruelly bereaved, I caught a glimpse of a photograph propped up on a table the opposite side of my coffin. I skirted around my casket to take a closer look. There in full view of my closest friends and on display for my esteemed colleagues to see, was my graduation photograph, proudly framed in silver. My mother couldn’t have picked a worse shot if she’d tried.

I had been going through an experimental stage and had learnt my hair didn’t suit my face short. I hadn’t worn my hair short since, so why my crazy mother thought this was the best photo to stand next to my coffin was beyond my comprehension. What about all the lovely shots taken of me at Cousin Eddie’s wedding only months’ before?!

As I neurotically fussed over my mother’s poor choice, the vicar, quite unaware of my displeasure, asked the congregation to stand for the first hymn. As the grieving lifted the crematoriums rafters with ‘Jerusalem,’ all my accusations over the photo blunder were forgotten as I sang along to my favourite hymn.

I wasn’t much of a singer, but I would never fake it unlike some I could mention; I zoned into Molly who was standing just behind my parents and who was obviously forming words without any noise escaping. Figuring I was safe to sing my heart out on this occasion as apart from A.M. who was going to hear tone-death-soon-to-be-honorary-angel-me, I lingered on the last word a little bit longer than everyone else. Nonetheless, I was just as surprised as my mourners were that everyone could hear me! I looked to A.M. for an explanation.

‘Have I told you God has a wonderful sense of humour,’ A.M. reminded me.

I stayed silent, not wishing to add to the ghost whispers and worried looks which were rippling through my service if God decided to prolong the practical joke.

Haunting murmurs were soon forgotten as sobs and sniffles could be heard when my father traded places with the vicar, who attempted to comfort my mother as my father determinedly read my eulogy.

‘Serena was our little girl, our only child whose every move we doted on.’ He glanced towards my mother’s shaking body before visually struggling to proceed. ‘We chose the name Serena after a holiday in Italy where we first heard and loved the name which means: composure, peacefulness, and cheerfulness. Serena exemplified these noble qualities her entire short life.’

Tears began to trickle down my cheeks in an automatic, emotional response to my father’s words. I bit my bottom lip in an attempt to deactivate them as he continued.

‘Her mother and I were so proud when she graduated with honours,’ he said, as he twisted his lean body and gestured with his long, dexterous fingers on his left hand towards my picture.

‘NO! Don’t draw people’s attention to that awful shot,’ I shouted, all trace of tears gone. My outburst was pointless as this time no one could hear me except A.M, and he was ignoring my lack of composure. Perhaps my parents didn’t know me as well as they thought they did, as I certainly wasn’t living up to the characterisation of my name.

‘Law was the perfect career choice for Serena as she always helped the underdog.’

One of the senior partners at Collins, Harper, and Jones Solicitors stifled a cough at my father’s statement. Was that bemusement on his face? There was nothing vaguely ‘underdog-ish’ about the clients Collins, Harper, and Jones represented. To afford our fees, one most definitely had to be top-dog.

‘I cannot find the words to express how distraught Serena’s mother and I are to find ourselves here, in this crematorium saying farewell to our beloved daughter.’

There were gasps from the gathering. Tissues could be seen in front of almost every face. My father struggled to collect himself. His tall, slim frame stooped like one does when experiencing excruciating pain. Mustering all of his strength, he carried on in the same resolute fashion.

‘You all know why Serena’s death has been added to the statists. Our society puts too much pressure on young women in particular, to . . .’ he bowed his head and activated the same lip biting exercise which I had employed to control my emotions, ‘conform to a certain standard; to look a certain way; to never have a hair out of place.’ He looked and sounded angry now, but in the pause that followed he softened before he said, ‘Serena’s mother and I are determined Serena’s death will make a difference. We are setting up a charity to counsel anyone drawn to plastic surgery. We want to ensure the operating table is the absolute last resort. There should be no such term as a ‘routine operation’ as all surgery carries a risk. God knows Serena paid that price.’ His voice trailed off at the end.

‘Furthermore,’ his words had power behind them again, ‘we wish to campaign so regardless of the size of one’s nose,’ (I sighed with relief that he hadn’t said ‘breasts’) ‘the crookedness of one’s mouth, and the sagginess of one’s belly,’ (he had me holding my breath again as I was sure he was going to say ‘boobs’) ‘every women loves herself exactly as she is. This will not be an excuse for obesity. Rather, it will be an exercise in love. Replacing feelings of dissatisfaction and unworthiness with love, will undoubtedly save lives and ensure there is a better tomorrow for our future generations.’

My father stumbled back to his seat to rapturous applause. I had even started to clap myself, and then I stopped abruptly as I’d had a worrying thought.

‘A.M., if my parents are going to make such a difference to the world with this new charity, all as a result of my death, will God change His mind about returning me to my body?’ I asked nervously.

‘God is truthful, Serena. He has given His word. Besides, there is more than one way a new idea can form. If God feels mankind needs this charity, His work will be done.’

Satisfied with A.M.’s answer, I turned my attention back to my funeral.

My parents had each placed a single magenta rose on my coffin, before they made their way to the snow tinted crematorium gardens. The same music I had heard in God’s chambers played my mourners out into the crisp sunshine; I smiled as I figured these coincidences were further examples of God’s wondrous sense of fun.

After aimlessly staring at the many wreaths which had been sent by various acquaintances to express their condolences, the mourners, bundled in their winter finery in an attempt to ward off the bitterness of the unseasonably cold weather, paid their respects to my parents. Many congratulated my father on his eulogy performance, and offered donations and support for the charity.

As I watched the steady stream of passersby, I was feeling a warm satisfied glow on account that even though my life review had been disappointing, my life must have contributed some good as there were a great deal of people gathered to pay tribute to me.

As I observed the crowd, I saw one of the senior partners, Mr. Harper, approach my parents. His face looked sincerely saddened. I heard him say I had been an asset to the firm and I would be greatly missed. I was just thinking I should ask for a pay rise when I returned to work, when I saw her – Hope Harper was at my funeral!

Chapter Seven

The Amulet

 

I couldn’t believe it! Mr. Harper, my boss was Hope Harper’s father!!! I know the surname should have been a clue, coupled with the fact Hope also worked at Collins, Harper, and Jones Solicitors. But really, I didn’t have any inkling. Harper was a fairly common name, and there had never been any suggestion the two were related; no office gossip, not even from Molly who earned her nickname ‘Mischief’ from, among other things, being the queen of gossip which usually resulted in much mischief-making.

As I watched my petite arch-enemy offer my parents her condolences, a cocktail of emotion cursed my whole being making me wish I really was dead and not witnessing this scene (flight); to wondering how I could kill Hope and drag her back to heaven with me (fight) (or even better, I could drop her off in hell; although I supposed if I murdered Hope I would be heading to hell also); to finally feeling so drained, I had no energy left to think let alone care. That was until I saw him; my-soon-to-propose-to-me Rupert.

He walked up to my parents, embraced them, and then stepping back he tenderly brushed Hope’s blonde long hair, the perfect colour match to his own, out of the way so he could kiss her forehead, before he pulled her close to him. As I witnessed Rupert’s expression of love towards Hope, I truly felt as if I had found hell.

‘Serena, did you know when snow graces the ground at a funeral it indicates the departed soul has found everlasting peace. You forgave Hope remember?’

In my desolate state I had forgotten A.M. was with me.

Summoning the energy to respond I said, ‘I’ve changed my mind. I hate her, A.M.’

‘My dearest Serena, you do not hate Hope.’

‘Yes I do. I HATE HER. . . I HATE her. . . I hate her.’ My shouting became less intense as my sobs cascaded through. Regaining my composure I continued, ‘She’s ruined my life. If it wasn’t for Hope Harper I would never have even contemplated a breast reduction, and I wouldn’t be in this state of technically not dead, nor am I alive either.

‘If I was still flesh and blood I wouldn’t be here witnessing my own funeral. I wouldn’t have had my heart in my mouth during the entire time my father was reading my eulogy as I wondered if he knows why I was on the operating table; and if he has been made privy to this knowledge, whether he was going to announce it to all the people at my funeral.

‘And then there’s this charity. Is the whole world going to be told the sorrowful tale of “the thirty-year-old Serena, who had her heart crushed when her soul mate was lured away from her by that . . .”’ I hissed in Hopes direction as I seethed over the fact she was still holding the attention of my parents, my boss, and my ex-lover. My rage was so intense that I struggled to finish my sentence. When I did, my ferocity carried over into my words, ‘“by that husband-to-be-stealer. Desolate after being so painfully rejected, Serena thought she wasn’t pretty enough or sexy, so she turned to plastic surgery for help. Tragically, that was to be her biggest mistake, as due to an undetected heart condition Serena lost her life on the operating table.”

‘Is this the story my parents will spin to gain support for their charity, which they’re no doubt hoping will help them make sense of my death. But no one has considered the obvious; my heart was defective because it was broken by Hope Harper when she stole Rupert away from me, so in fact she is a murderess,’ I cried. ‘And another thing. . .’

A.M. allowed me to rant, making no attempt to interrupt me, and no facial expression of any kind to either agree or condemn my words.

‘Why doesn’t God just let all the relevant parties into the deal? Why is it such a secret? I’m sure my bosses would have agreed to my secondment to God’s team. I know a secondment is usually within the same organization. However, if God makes a request, I can’t see anyone, except maybe Lucifer, turning Him down.’

I took a huge gulp of air. The rejuvenating oxygen helped to restore my body to near normality after my tirade. I was starting to feel confident all the toxicity I had built up over Hope had been released when I saw it; on Hope’s left hand gleamed an engagement ring.

It sparkled in the sunlight with glee after its captivity in Hope’s shiny, black leather glove. As the diamonds flashed menacingly at me, my knees buckled underneath my celestial body. But far from ending up as a heap on the floor, A.M. expanded his huge wings and lovingly encased me in them. Not unlike A.M.’s character, his wings were soft and yet very strong. They supported my weight bringing me reassuring familiarity of my old childhood comfort blanket.

‘I feel so broken, A.M.’

‘Serena, ask God to help you.’

‘God is the last person I want help from. Archangel Raziel said God’s will is for Hope Harper and my Rupert to be together. Well they are very much together, and she has the ring that was meant for me leaving me truly out in the cold and dark.’

I pulled away from A.M. as every time I spoke I took in a mouthful of feathers, and instead I stood defiantly, willing myself not to cry as I pulled my cloak protectively tight to me.

A.M. folded his large, powerful wings behind his back as he addressed my comment.

‘God will never leave you out in the cold, or in the dark, Serena. When all else fails you, God will not. Come, there is no more for you to see here.’

‘I need to have a word with Molly before we go. I must find out how much she has told my parents and whether Rupert knows about my surgery.’

‘Molly will not be able to hear you, Serena. Besides, I already know what she did and did not say to your parents, and how much Rupert knows.’

‘Tell me,’ I demanded as I looked expectantly at A.M.

‘Molly told your parents what she needed to. No more or no less was said.’

‘A.M! That’s too cryptic. And what about Rupert – how much does he know?’ I desperately shouted.

‘Come, we must go. There is your will reading to attend, and then we must finalise your assignment details,’ A.M. commanded as he practically dragged me away kicking and screaming; although it wasn’t until I had calmed down that he was able to orb us to my parents’ large detached Edwardian house where my wake was being held.

The neat lawns were unrecognisable under the heavy blanket of snow, which also weighed down the many bushes that bordered my parents’ home, and added insulation to the roof tiles that hadn’t endured as many winters as the one hundred and four year old house. As A.M. and I stepped inside the mosaic tiled hallway, we stood among a sea of people wearing black, a harsh contrast to my angelic white. I surveyed the familiar reception rooms as we made our way to the principle living quarters where I noted Harry Goodwin, my appointed solicitor from Collins, Harper, and Jones, was present.

Harry was a little man in his thirties, with thick, black, tidy hair, and vivid blue eyes that were framed by chunky, black spectacles. Sitting next to him on the white leather sofa I had spent many a happy hour relaxed on was Hope Harper, and next to Hope, with his knee pressed against the strumpet, was Rupert. Lightening Hope’s black attire was a striking, blue, woolen scarf which set her baby blue eyes and ash blonde hair.

‘What’s she doing at my wake?’ My darkening mood demanded an answer of A.M. ‘It’s bad enough she came to my funeral. Who invited her back to my parents’ house so she can flash her ring and gloat?’ I exploded.

A.M. chose not to answer my eruption. Instead, he watched Harry rise from the low seat he’d been perched on, readjust his expensive suit which was practically part of Collins, Harper, and Jones Solicitors brand, and then bending down to pick up his black, Italian leather briefcase in one hand, and the tea cup he’d been supping from in the other, he sauntered off in the direction of my father’s study.

‘Come on, Serena, this way,’ A.M. ordered as he led me by the hand in Harry’s footsteps.

Once in the room my father regularly sought sanctuary from the world, I watched Harry extract my will from his briefcase as I mentally listed the conditions I would add:

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. A coffin of my choice.

(Out of habit I reached for my tablet to search the web for options before remembering it was currently obsolete.)

#
p<>{color:#000;}. NO photographs would be displayed unless I had personally selected them.

 

And the most important clause of all:

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. I would draw up a guest list. On second thoughts, perhaps it would be wiser to make an exclusions list so I didn’t alienate future contacts. Not that I would be too concerned if I did estrange people as I would be dead. Hope Harper would be top of my unpermitted list.

 

I was alphabetically cataloging my guest list when my parents, my aunt, and Molly filed into the generously sized, heavily wooded paneled room, and sat in the Cavendish, flat winged chairs opposite Harry who was behind my father’s large oak desk.

Harry cleared his throat, took another sip of his tea to lubricate his vocal cords, and began my will reading.

‘May I first offer my condolences to you, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis. Serena will be sadly missed at Collins, Harper, and Jones Solicitors. Although I personally prepared her will, I thought I would be a long time retired, or even dead and buried myself before this document was read.’

My mother pushed back her flame red hair as she raised a hand full of tissues to wipe the tears which were trickling down her cheeks. My father bit into his lip.

‘Serena was a very wealthy, young lady,’ Harry stated as he examined the list of assets on the document before him. ‘There’s Serena’s Mayfair apartment; her condo in New York; the contents of both residence minus the legacies I will detail in due course; various stocks and shares; a rather fine art collection; and even though I understand Serena was a novice wine connoisseur, she collected some fine and valuable vintages. There is also a life insurance policy which will comfortably leave a quarter of a million pounds after mortgage costs and death duties, plus a company policy that pays out a lump sum of half a million pounds on death. Serena leaves all of this to you, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis.’

Harry coughed before continuing, ‘To Amelia Morgan, beloved aunt, Serena leaves her book collection which includes several first editions, and entire wardrobe plus jewellery, save one piece that is bequeathed to another.’

My aunt’s physique, so similar to my mother’s and mine, crumpled in silent sobs until she was barely visible in the large leather chair. The rest of the room shuffled uneasily, desperately willing their own composure to remain firm as Harry pressed on.

‘To Molly Myers, Serena leaves her current vehicle which I believe is a fine sports car.’

Harry leant forward and presented my car keys to a weeping Molly who’d returned them after my demise.

‘It’s funny Serena leaving her beloved car to personal transport phobic me. I confess, I do love Serena’s Merc, but not half as much as I love . . . loved,’ Molly corrected herself, ‘Serena,’ she wailed as she bowed her head, allowing her raven coloured, long hair to fall like curtains over her make-up smeared face.

My aunt who was seated next to Molly, and who had only just composed herself from her own loss of control, shifted awkwardly in her chair to position herself away from my bawling, dear friend. My mother physically struggled not to wither. My father continued to bite his lip as he fought to remain strong.

Still protected by the clemency of my prayer, I was unaffected by the obvious pain of those I loved. In fact, I wasn’t paying too much attention to their sorrow as I was preoccupied by Harry’s words, or to be precise the lack of them.

‘Harry hasn’t mentioned the amulet I’m also leaving to Molly. I wore it briefly in heaven when God permitted me to wear my preferred attire during my first interview with Him. I acquired it when I was in the Himalayas. It first caught my attention because it’s the perfect match to my sapphire graduation ring. But more than that, it’s terribly old and is reported to ward off evil spirits, including the Devil,’ I informed A.M.

‘Lastly, Serena entrusts her cornflower blue sapphire amulet . . .’ Harry announced as if prompted by me.

‘That’s the piece I was talking about,’ I said as I nudged A.M.

Unaware I was speaking, Harry continued, ‘to . . . Oh, she’s not here.’

‘What! What does he mean, “She’s not here?” He’s just given her my car keys!’ I said a little maddened with uncertainty. ‘Molly has always admired it, and I promised I would bequeath it to her.’

Harry shook his head as he declared, ‘Really, I don’t remember this, aside from the fact it quite clearly states . . . I won’t be a moment,’ he said as he rose from my father’s large Directors chair and hurried out of the door.

I looked at Molly’s baffled, pale face, which had abruptly stopped howling with the realisation the sapphire was going to someone else.

‘What’s going on, A.M.? . . . I left my amulet to Molly . . . Look at her . . . She looks betrayed . . . What must she think of me? . . . Let me see my will.’

I frenziedly skated to what was normally my father’s side of the desk. Drawing my finger down my bequests, I stopped at the last entry concerning the sapphire. Just as I was getting to the bestowed name, Harry re-entered with Hope Harper.

‘I didn’t leave anything to Hope Harper, let alone my valuable sapphire amulet,’ I fervidly proclaimed. ‘A.M., please do something? You know I didn’t leave my beautiful sapphire to Hope Harper.’

I was nearly in tears now. Still A.M. ignored me, not for the first time I noted, and let the scene before us unravel.

Hope looked very uncomfortable as she sank into one of the empty, soft leather armchairs. Not daring to risk eye contact with anyone in the room, she forced her stare out of the window behind Harry.

‘Thank you for your patience,’ Harry continued. ‘As I was saying, Serena leaves her cornflower blue sapphire amulet to Hope Harper.’

Molly looked like she’d sucked a very large lemon without tequila as she interjected, ‘This can’t be. Serena promised the amulet to me.’ Her voice trailed off as she finished her sentence, as if she suddenly became aware how her superficial her statement sounded.

Silence tore at the air until Harry took a deep breath and agreed with Molly’s statement.

‘I too recall Serena leaving the gem to you, Molly. But how can that be? It clearly states here in Serena’s last will and testament, Hope is the beneficiary,’ Harry declared more than a little mystified.

‘It must be a mistake,’ Molly reacted shrilly. ‘Everyone knows Serena didn’t like Hope. Sorry, Hope. No offence meant, but it’s true,’ she said in a much softer tone as her ever so slightly flushed cheeks highlighted her discomfort.

Hope bowed her head as she awkwardly tried to hide her own blushed cheeks with a handkerchief.

‘How can it be a mistake?’ my father interposed. ‘This document,’ my father gestured towards the papers at Harry’s fingertips, ‘is a record of my daughter’s last wishes.’

‘Yes, Sir,’ Harry offered. ‘To be diligent, I will check and double check its content with the notes I made of Serena’s meeting with me.’

‘Why? Serena signed her will, didn’t she?’ my father inquired.

Harry checked my will for my signature as I looked irritably over his shoulder, before he assured my father of the documents authenticity.

‘As a precautionary measure, I would prefer to check the facts. You understand, I’m sure, Hope? The firm wouldn’t welcome a law suit if a valuable piece of jewellery was given to the wrong recipient.’

‘Naturally, Harry,’ Hope answered in her soft, sickly voice, as she kept her head bowed down low.

I was furious at the admin mix-up and added to my mental list of amendments:

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Draw up a new will with a reliable solicitor.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Consider a change of employer to a more steadfast firm.

 

‘It’s settled then. I will check our records and report back,’ Harry confirmed as he shuffled his papers before placing them back inside his briefcase. As he rose from the desk he awkwardly said, ‘On behalf of Collins, Harper, and Jones Solicitors, can I express my apologies for this incident.’

Then he left leaving my beneficiaries to silently ponder what they had, or in Molly’s case hadn’t, acquired.

With my rage clearly perceptible, I commanded, ‘A.M., I demand to know, WHAT IS GOING ON? And do not tell me “All will be revealed at the right time.”’ I added, ‘please,’ as an after-thought.

‘Come, Serena, we must get back to heaven. God has summoned you.’

Chapter Eight

The Lords of Karma

 

I was surprised I had the concentration to orb, in view of the fact that I was so mad. I played out my impending conversation with God in my head. How I was going to demand to know why Hope Harper was being given my precious sapphire, especially as it was at the expense of my relationship with Molly. One does not retract a promise, particularly when expensive, evil repelling amulets are involved. Surely, God knew this was girlfriend code 101.

Even though God had summoned me, when I arrived back in His realm He was dealing with an emergency involving the dragons and the leprechauns.

Apparently, the dragons kept setting fire to the leprechauns’ hats as the fire eaters flew overhead. The leprechauns said the dragons should fly higher. The dragons accused the leprechauns of being bossy busybodies, and suggested they didn’t wear such ludicrous hats. The leprechauns retaliated, arguing it was just as well they did wear hats otherwise it would be their hair on fire. The dragons expressed surprise the leprechauns had hair and said they thought the silly hats were to cover up this embarrassment. The leprechauns were outraged at this comment and demanded an immediate official apology. The dragons laughed so wholeheartedly at the leprechauns’ tizzy, they only just adverted burning a whole lot more than the leprechauns’ hats.

God was holding court between the two parties, acting as judge and jury. Fittingly, His chambers now resembled a high court, complete with a gallery where interested persons, including A.M. and me, watched. Only the sky covered ceiling revealed this was no ordinary court, together with the presence of dragons, leprechauns, and angels. But far from the fluffy white clouds which floated above in the sunlight’s illumination when I was last in God’s company, now the atmosphere danced with the aurora borealis. This spectacular display detracted my attention from the proceedings, and even gave me a temporary reprieve from my angst over the Hope, sapphire amulet, and Molly saga.

The leprechauns and the dragons finally fell silent alerting me to the sentencing God was due to pass. I had never heard such authoritative and loving words spoken when God decreed He would open a secret ravine which only the dragons would be privy to, ensuring safe passage by all.

The leprechauns danced in their buckled shoes that curled upwards at the pointed-toe-end. Their smart emerald green jackets and slightly darker waistcoats remained remarkably intact considering the vigour of their jig, which didn’t even unsettle their contentious top hats. As the little bearded men cheered, four-leaf clovers sparkled into existence and whizzed around the rainbow that had formed, despite the absence of rain and sunshine which are customarily required to fashion the colourful archway.

The various vibrant coloured dragons also celebrated in their unique way. They bared their teeth into almost smiles, while their huge wings and scaly tails flapped causing heavens foundations to rock the leprechauns into involuntary somersaults, yet still the fairy-folk stayed in high-spirits.

All of the defenders and pursuers kissed God’s heavily ringed hands (mercifully the fire eaters managed not to scorch the Omega), and sang thanks to the Almighty in between mismatched embraces, where the leprechauns could only reach the dragons flaky legs, and the dragons inflexibility meant they couldn’t bend enough to hug the tiny men and keep both parties gravitated.

Once court was dismissed by A.M. in his capacity as God’s Chief Head of Justice, the room rearranged itself presenting me with the familiar surroundings I had first observed, apart from the sky which to my delight continued to dance in iridescent colours.

Now faced with the prospect of cross examining the Almighty, I became courtroom shy. The ferocious snow leopard characteristics I easily displayed in my work had unnaturally gone into hibernation, leaving its moggie relation to defend its species survival. But I was forgetting God can hear my every word, and He cares deeply for me to take the time to listen to all of my thoughts. His kindness knows no bounds; so far from leaving me to wallow in my awkwardness God broached the subject for me with the utmost sophistication and decorum.

‘My precious Child, I have aggrieved you, and for this I AM earnestly and profoundly sorry. Sometimes to honour right from wrong sacrifices have to be made. Your talisman is one such sacrifice, and regrettably Molly is a casualty here. However, My word is honourable, and I AM not in the habit of framing My children for fraud. You made a promise to Molly that she would become the guardian of your amulet. For reasons unbeknown to you I cannot permit this to happen at the present moment. Please be assured, I will right this wrong, and in due course your last will and testament will name Molly as the beneficiary once again.’

I formed my mouth ready to ask why Molly had to be the martyr here, and to express my concern that our friendship could be damaged irreparably. Before I could pose any question, God answered my worries.

‘The “why” will be discovered when the time for innovation has dawned. For now I would like you to return with Archangel Michael to see for yourself how the pendants ownership will be played out. Only once you are satisfied that your friendship with Molly is intact will you be able to accomplish the assignment I have for you.’

I managed a, ‘But . . .’ before God responded, ‘I promise you, Serena, all will become clear as soon as you are confident Molly is not indignant at having her custodian rights removed.’

Aware anymore protests would be an unwise waste of time and energy, I orbed together with A.M. to Harry Goodwin’s office, which although was not as large or plush as mine, and certainly the view was inferior, nevertheless, it was comfortable all the same.

Harry was bent over some paperwork; oblivious for the second time in as many days’ my spirit was spying over his shoulder. Unsurprisingly, he was riffling through the papers he had prepped my will from. Always efficient, I had handed Harry descriptive pages of my most prized possessions, complete with the name of my beneficiary. He scaled down the list looking for the sapphire pendant I had described as my very old and valuable, Himalayan, Devil and evil spirit banishing, cornflower blue sapphire amulet. Written neatly in my fountain pen, the name Hope Harper was unmistakably recorded.

I tried to grab the paper from under Harry’s nose so I could hold it to the light to detect the alteration. Frustratingly, my attempts were futile. Fortuitously, after several minutes Harry seemed to subconsciously register what was required, and quite eerily, as if I was controlling him, he held the paper up to the sunlight streaming through the window.

As far as I could detect there were no signs of foul play, meaning whoever had amended the paperwork had done so meticulously and professionally. I knew God was behind the charade. He had practically admitted it. Still, I refused to believe the Omega could so cruelly interfere, and instead I acted like a sleuth running every possible suspect through my brain for the best probable outcome.

Harry diligently studied the entry under a magnifying glass, and when it passed the authenticity test he scratched at Hope’s name with his fingernail. In no doubt all was in order, while still being somewhat confounded as he distinctly remembered that Molly was the bequeathed, Harry picked up his phone and dialed both Hope and Molly respectively.

Moments later the two competitors entered, Molly beating Hope by a fraction and thus was able to secure the best seat next to the radiator, which she pushed at an angle before occupying to get the maximum benefit from the heat.

‘That’s better. It’s freezing at my desk,’ Molly enlightened Hope and Harry as she rubbed her hands together over the rising warmth.

Kicking off her boots, Molly swung her slim, natural tan stocking covered legs so she could tuck her thick socked feet under her person, before very British like she proceeded to talk about the weather.

‘Can you believe this weather? I thought I was safe to pack my winter wardrobe away,’ Molly rambled. With Harry’s and Hope’s attention she continued with a comment that couldn’t have been less expected by a reserved English person, ‘Still, at least dearly departed Serena is happy and at peace.’

Harry threw her a look of utter perplexity, prompting Molly to explain further.

‘When it rains at a funeral the deceased is crying. If the sun is out the departed is happy. Snow means peace. At Serena’s funeral it was both sunny and snowy, which means Serena is happy as well as being at peace.’

‘Pray tell, how do you know such trivia, Molly?’ Harry enquired with the same befuddled expression; although he thought he should have remained silent when Molly replied, ‘The high priestess at the coven I sometimes visit told me.’

Harry shook his head in disbelief, and avoiding further eye contact with Molly he cleared his throat, as was his habit before a will reading, and announced, ‘Once again, I thank you for your patience. This has been a most unusual turn of events. I’m just grateful you both have an understanding nature and comprehend the thoroughness I was duty bound to display.’

Harry paused, tickled his tonsils with a purple tinted liquid that occupied his water glass, cleared his throat once more, and continued in his slightly curt pitch that came from living a hermit-style personal-life.

‘I’ve scrutinised the relevant documentation, and without a shadow of a doubt Serena left her pendant to Hope.’

Harry stopped abruptly with a satisfactory smile on his face for a job well done. His eyes darted to Hope who let out a squeal before covering her mouth with her hand, and then he snuck a peak at Molly who to his amazement looked unperturbed. Harry had expected Molly to erupt in a blaze of contempt, though Hope’s reaction had been as he predicted.

‘I don’t understand,’ Hope managed to say. ‘Serena and I were never friends, and after Rup . . .’

‘Hope, accept the sapphire graciously,’ Molly interrupted as she leant forward in her seat to place her now lukewarm hands over Hope’s.

Relieved more than bemused Molly was not causing a scene, Harry wasn’t about to ask why she’d had a sudden change of heart in case this triggered the explosion he’d anticipated, or further ramblings about high priestesses.

To his dismay though, Molly, determined to share her epiphany, offered, ‘It’s rare for me to remember my dreams; a fact that has been frustrating over the years’. Your dreams can give you an insight into your subconsciousness,’ Molly presented an explanation to Harry’s frightfully disconcerted look. ‘Last night, emotionally drained after dear Serena’s funeral, I fell into a deep slumber. Sometime in the early hours of this morning, an angel appeared to me. He called himself Michael.’

I looked at A.M. for any sign of acknowledgement that he’d been Molly’s dream caller. Verbal or otherwise, A.M. failed to confirm or deny he’d visited Molly.

Molly went on to say, ‘Michael explained you would declare Hope the pendant’s bequeathed, Harry. He said, and I quote, “God has a plan, Molly. In God’s wisdom He needs you to forgo your claim on Serena’s amulet and allow Hope to have its vital protection. Your loyalty will be rewarded, and once Hope no longer requires the talisman you will be deemed its keeper,”’ she finished with the sparkle that had faded after my death returned to her deep brown eyes.

Convinced my departure had been a strain too far for Molly, Harry looked at her kindly and said, ‘That must have been reassuring for you, Molly.’

Hope, unconcerned that Molly was admitting to seeing and hearing angels, was understandably concerned that Molly had said she needed safe guarding.

‘What do you mean; I need “vital protection”?’ Hope asked in a tone bordering on hysterics.

‘I didn’t say you need “vital protection”, Michael the angel did, and he didn’t stay around long enough for me to ask questions,’ Molly said matter-of-factly.

Keen to eradicate any further mention of angels from his office, Harry mumbled he would be in touch to arrange delivery of Hope’s gift as he ushered the two girls, giving Molly barely enough time to slip her boots back on, out of the comfy, cream leather chairs they had sunk into, and into the corridor. Shutting his door and turning its key to prevent any further strange confessions, Harry slumped into his chair, his head slowly shaking from side to side as if it were erasing the unsettling events of the past twenty-four hours.

Furious that Harry was going to hand my sapphire over to Hope, I suddenly had the urge to shake Harry’s world some more. If he was disturbed at the mere mention of high priestesses and angels, what would happen if I whispered ghost like in his ear? I wanted to paint a message on his wall forbidding him to give my property to Hope, but A.M. wouldn’t hear of such antics. As he whisked me back to heaven he reminded me Harry was only the puppet.

 

The Northern Lights still played in the sky as A.M. and I orbed in front of God.

‘I AM impressed at how well you have mastered the act of orbing, Serena,’ God praised me.

My expression of annoyance remained faithful to me, refusing to be swayed by the Almighty’s compliment.

‘I see you have not yet forgiven Me. Your intelligence accepts Molly has been appeased. She has a kind and receptive soul so I knew she would respond to Archangel Michael.’

‘So it was you,’ I said accusingly as I swung to look at A.M.

A.M. chose not to answer me, leaving silence in which God continued.

‘I would have trusted no other than My most loyal angel to deliver such an important message, but this is not the information you seek, Serena. You wish, no you demand to know why I had the audacity to tamper with your will and leave Hope your sapphire. Your anger is preventing the Divine Light of your soul to express love, which is exacerbating your antagonism.’

I’d had enough. As far as I was concerned I had played along with God’s sham for a sufficient length of time, and He still hadn’t had the decency to explain why it was so important that Hope had my amulet. I didn’t understand why He hadn’t just sent Hope to the Himalayas to buy the pendant herself. I knew her salary wasn’t on the same scale as mine, and the sapphire had been expensive, but as a senior partner her father was wealthy, so why did I have to subsidise Hope Harper’s jewellery collection?

With my wrath escalating I screamed, ‘GOD, DAM IT. JUST TELL ME! TELL ME WHY I SEEM ETERNALLY CONNECTED TO THAT WOMAN? WHY DID YOU HAVE TO GIVE HER MY PRECIOUS PENDANT? WHY? WHY? WHY?’

I couldn’t remember the last time I had been in such a rage. I generally was very controlled, as when one is in control of one’s emotions, nasty little defense lawyers cannot penetrate the storm lurking beneath the calm. I needed my thundery passion to fire my closing statement to win the jury’s verdict. But I knew if I lost my composure and allowed a comment from the opposition to burst my fervor, the strength which so often won me a case would retaliate for the years’ I had kept it restrained, and that was likely to put me in contempt of court and would surely lose me any respect I had gained in the world of legality.

God paused as He surveyed me, and then in contradiction to my outburst He ever so gently stated, ‘I cannot tell you what you wish to know while your heart is full of fury. I had hoped your contact with Archangel Raphael and your cleansing with Archangel Raziel had cured you of your hatred for Hope Harper, even though I appreciate your loathing for her was very deep seated. It certainly appeared you were healed. You glided with an aura of peace and orbed with serenity, tasks which would ordinarily not be possible unless a soul had released pain, for hatred is the cry of a spirit in turmoil. However, I was foolish not to see you still harbour a dislike for the soul I named Hope Harper. This puts your assignment in a very delicate position.’

I flinched as I desperately wanted to stay angry, but curiosity was waving over me.

God smiled before announcing, ‘I think we can have one last attempt at eliminating your petulance whenever Hope Harper is mentioned.’ He turned to A.M. and proclaimed, ‘Archangel Michael, you know what to do.’

In a flash of purple light, A.M. and I vanished from God’s chambers only to reappear moments later in a circular room totally covered in white feathers. In the middle of this room was a bed which was also covered in feathers. A.M. invited me to sit down on the bed as he intensely watched me, presumably for any signs of further flare-ups.

As soon as I rested on the feathers, a feeling of exceptional calm radiated over me. My irritability completely disappeared and I couldn’t dream of throwing a tantrum in this serene place. As I absorbed the love in the room, the healing light of an emerald orb materialised. The shimmering light dissipated to reveal Archangel Raphael dressed in his trademark green robes. The presence of the two Archangels emanated an extra sense of peace which added to my feeling of tranquility.

As they sat down either side of me, A.M. started to explain.

‘This is an exceptionally special place, Serena. I see it has worked its magic on you already.’ A.M. smiled before commenting, ‘Your face looks the most relaxed I have ever seen it.

‘The feathers are from every single angel God has ever given wings to. We have all donated a solitary feather with the prayer that this will stay a sacred site, forever seeped in the Divine hope, peace, and love our merciful Father intended for this space. It is impossible to feel anything other than love here.

‘In your loving state, God has suggested you approach the Lords of Karma to ask them if you can be freed from your emotional ties to Hope Harper. Do you accept the Omega’s proposal, Serena?’

‘OK,’ I answered without any ill feeling towards Hope.

‘There are eight Lords of Karma. Eight, the auspicious numeral symbolises perfection and infinity, and brings balance to God’s Cosmos. Each Lord of Karma knows the Divine Plan for every soul, and took a vow before the Almighty to keep safe the Akashic records which lists each spirits destiny. It is their vocation to balance the delicate scale of good versus evil. If a soul has accumulated excessive negative karma, they must address the deficit to maintain equilibrium.

‘The Great Karmic Board, as the Lords of Karma are collectively known, serves virtues such as truth, justice, and mercy to humankind to stabilise the Universe. However, there are rules which must be obeyed to maintain order. When you ask the Board to release you from the destructive chains that link you to Hope Harper, only they can calculate your karmic account to determine if this is feasible.’

‘OK.’ My reply was seriously lacking enthusiasm, which was terribly inappropriate for the magnitude of the situation. ‘How do I call the Lords of Karma to see if I can rid myself of Hope Harper once and for all?’

While there was no undertone of hatred in my voice, A.M. looked a little surprised that in this Divinely orchestrated room, I still desired to be purged of Hope. This left Archangel Raphael free to answer me.

‘Hold the intention clear in your thoughts that you wish to appear before the Great Karmic Board. If your intent is pure, they will honour your request, and Archangel Michael and I can escort you to their temple.’

I laid on the bed, which was so large it could comfortably still seat A.M. and Archangel Raphael. As I closed my eyes, I prayed the Lords would grant me an audience.

I felt myself drift higher and higher into the ether. Still, I kept my eyes firmly shut. When I sensed I had stopped, I peeked through my right eye to see eight giant figures seated in counsel before me.

They were dressed in a multitude of colours. The predominately female board surprised me as I had most definitely expected it to be a masculine environment. The female Lords wore elegant tiaras which looked Asian in origin. Different coloured, sparkling jewels decorated various positions of their bodies, including their foreheads and the base of their throat. The males had large, pointed, golden hats on, like an Archbishop in his full regalia.

A.M. and Archangel Raphael sunk back into the shadows the large white pillars threw on the same colour stone floor and walls, courtesy of the moon-like, lightning charged globes which waltzed around the temple. Without my angel guides by my side, I felt vulnerable in the presence of the giants towering frames. Before I could dive any further into a position of helplessness, one of the eight seated on my far left addressed me, as the Lord in the fourth seat ventured into the vast library situated behind the counsel.

‘We, the Lords of Karma are very pleased to meet you, Serena Olivia Unity Lewis. God has given each one of us a purpose, which when combined equates to an unstoppable force,’ a booming voice informed me. ‘I am the Great Divine Director. God has entrusted me to view the Divine plan of every soul. Next to me is the Goddess of Liberty and then sits Lady Nada, the Goddess of Love.’

Lady Nada and the Goddess of Liberty bowed their heads to me as the Great Divine Director rotated in his throne styled chair to point out the remaining five members of the board.

‘Cyclopea, who occupy’s the fourth chair and who will return shortly, is blessed with the all seeing eye of God. Pallas Athena, the Goddess of Truth sits to Cyclopea’s left, and then there is Lady Portia, who is the Goddess of Justice, and Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. Completing our panel is Vajratsattva who speaks on behalf of the five Dhyani Buddhas.’

Just as the Goddesses of Liberty and Love had done, the remaining three Goddesses and Vajratsattva graciously greeted me.

‘We have heard your plea, Serena, and we have taken into account the fact God endorses your prayer to enable Him to coordinate His plan. We must above all else balance karma, and even with the Almighty’s support, the very Laws He created cannot be ignored.’

The Great Divine Director paused, seemingly awaiting instruction, thus giving me time to peruse the scene.

Angels of an assortment of shapes and sizes gravitated towards the library. Some sat on the top shelves. A few were so small they fitted between the books. The larger angels stood as if on guard at the entrance, as well as at stations throughout the collection, while more still patrolled the perimeter. Their loving vibration could be felt even by a trainee honorary angel like me. Nonetheless, I was under no illusions; if anyone or anything attempted to enter without a consensual loving heart, the angels would defend God’s work with fierce honour and determination.

The angels had permitted access to the giant Cyclopea, who was running his beaker like index finger along the spines of each book in what looked like the ‘L’ section. Seemingly finding what he was looking for, Cyclopea pulled the intricate designed gold, Goliath sized book, which he made appear infinitely small, from the shelf, and carrying the beast with an air of delicacy he placed it before the Boards Director.

The Lord’s huge hands fastidiously turned the pages of the leviathan book his colleague had set before him, until resting a good third of the way through he muttered, ‘Hmm . . . I see,’ before he added, ‘You have a strong attachment to the soul which incarnated as Hope Harper. In previous incarnations the two of you accumulated karmic debt which interwoven your souls.’

He paused once again. This time he and the rest of the counsel closed their eyes and positioned their hands in a palm facing upwards gesture, with the tip of their thumbs connected to the tip of their middle fingers, reminding me of Buddhist Monks in prayer.

Eight spheres floated towards the Lords, stopping to hover over each counsel-member. The lightning the balls contained sparked to connect each globe horizontally, as they simultaneously shot vertical lightning bolts to infiltrate the crown of the karmic overseers’ heads. When the natural electricity dance stopped some several minutes later, the Director returned to his previous pose to serve my sentence.

‘Given the evidence we have no choice but to pass the following ruling. We can release you from your destructive negative feelings towards Hope Harper to leave you free to do God’s work. For all that, we cannot clear the debt which must be paid in full.’

Before I could ask any questions or secure more approving terms, I was back in the safety of A.M.’s and Archangel Raphael’s hands, travelling, I guessed by the flight of my cloak and the whooshing sound in my ears, downwards at speed. The next time my feet touched a solid surface I was in the room in the clouds where I’d had my life review. Present was not only my Archangel guides, but also the Alpha Himself.

God studied me as if He were reading my soul, before he broadcasted, ‘I could not be happier.’ The replica Old Father Time stretched out His arms high into the sky which emerged as the Leonardo da Vinci painted ceiling parted. As He positioned His head to feel the full force of the suns radiance, He shouted into the upper heavens, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you,’ before directing His gaze at me once more. ‘The Lords of Karma have been most generous in their judgment to free you from your emotional pain where Hope Harper is concerned, for I can now grant you honorary angelic status.’

As God crowned me with my halo, a fanfare sounded. As I looked to distinguish the sound, I saw a dozen or so cherubs whose ghostly yet vibrant forms played transparent brass instruments. The shadowy figures began to take more solid form as the crescendo rose, as if the music was literally breathing life into them. When the cherubs finished their relatively short piece, God continued.

‘An angel, whether honorary or otherwise, will only display their halo when needed. In My perfect Cosmos, when the need arises your halo will automatically appear.’ He smiled before saying the words I had been longing to hear. ‘Now you have made honorary angelic status, I can brief you on the assignment I have specially chosen you for, Serena.’

I stood with bated breath, afraid to believe I was finally going to be able to start my task and step closer to my objective of returning home to Mayfair. However, I was not prepared for God’s following words.

‘I have chosen you, Serena, to save Hope Harper.’

Chapter Nine

The Assignment

 

‘You’ve chosen me to save Hope Harper?’ I calmly reiterated to the Omega.

‘Yes, and I AM thrilled you are being so composed at the news. You truly are a testament to your name, Serena.’

‘It does feel surreal to be told I’m Hope Harper’s saviour and not feel the fires of hells damnation burning in every cell of my being,’ I continued with complete composure. ‘I’ve got to credit you, Lord, on your Karmic Laws and the ambiguities which serve you.’

‘My Laws are precise. Still, it does help to be able to apply common sense and set a precedent, which is what the Lords of Karma have wisely done in this case.

‘Now, to the business at hand; I have classified information concerning Hope Harper to share with you in order for you to help her. Before I begin I must tell you, Serena; it is imperative you succeed, for far more is at stake than Hope Harper’s soul.’

‘With all due respect, God, You’re being too vague. If I’m to take on this case for You, I need to know all the facts,’ I said as I thought even in my celestial body I hadn’t lost my thirst for law and order.

God scanned my face as if He was reading my intent. On completion He said, ‘Very well; if you fail, Serena, humanity is at risk of annihilation.’

My jaw dropped as my eyes bulged, but somehow I managed to retrieve my chin from the floor to form my next sentence.

‘Civilisation is in danger from what?’ A voice quite unlike mine left my mouth to ask.

‘Evil is running rampant. Even as we speak the dark forces grow in strength,’ God answered me quite detached.

‘What has this got to do with Hope Harper?’ I asked as I worked hard to keep an even tone.

‘Hope has inadvertently got herself tangled up in a web of deceit.’

‘Hmm . . . I’m not surprised. I always said she wasn’t to be trusted. I mean, just look at the tactics she used to steal Rupert away from me,’ I stated triumphantly, as if I had been right about Hope Harper’s wickedness all along. Unsurprisingly, thanks to the Lords of Karma, there was no trace of my former angst when I spoke about Hope.

‘Hope has been doing My work, Serena. While ordinarily the light repeals the dark, shadows loom and there are occurrences when powerful evil is attracted by My light workers.’

I processed what God had just shared with me.

Aware I was unclear on His meaning, He added, ‘If evil can vanquish one of My light workers, the conquest fast tracks the guilty up the destructive ladder to Lucifer.’

‘So we are at war with the Devil,’ I confirmed as the realisation that the Devil was at the core of this problem had just dawned on me.

‘Satan is always at the root of all evil. In this case he has not shown himself. Instead, he is using others to manipulate a good soul. You must save Hope Harper’s spirit, Serena. Hope plays a vital role, and without her contribution the whole of the spiritual ecosystem is in jeopardy.’

‘Who would have thought Hope’s on the good team with evil hunting her like a fox being chased by hounds,’ I thought aloud before realising I had omitted Hope’s last name for the first time as I finally viewed her as a genuine person as opposed to a femme fatale who needed the strong arm of God, which I represented, to help her.

‘We are here in My life review room so I can show you events that will aid you. But before we continue, I need to appeal to your soul, Serena, so it understands all we communicate here is holy and secret, for if you utter the slightest hint to another all may be lost.’

Reflecting on God’s words I placed my right hand over my heart and replied, ‘I promise to keep safe all You reveal to me in my position as Your honorary angel, Father.’

After I solemnly swore to be the soul of discretion, the three-hundred-and-sixty-degree screen flickered into action as God narrated the footage of the little blonde girl.

‘Hope Harper was born a sensitive. As a child she played with souls from heaven who were opposed to take human shape, but they still desired to partake in some earthly experience, so they took on a ghostly form. Of course her parents assumed her friends were imaginary, a by-product of the lonely-only-child-syndrome, for they had forgotten they too saw ghosts in their formative years’.

‘Often, parental conditioning that ghosts do not exist convinces the child’s mind this is so. Once a mind refuses to believe anymore, the brain will not register the ghost even if it appears directly in front of the individual. This is what happened to Hope’s parents. However, as Hope is one of My sensitives she did not lose the ability to converse with spirit.’

‘So why don’t you speak directly to Hope instead of involving me?’

‘If only it were that simple, My dear sweet Serena.’

‘You’re God. If something is too complex, surely You above anyone can rectify it?’

‘There would be no fun in that,’ He replied.

I gave God a mystified look to which He responded, ‘There are those who blame Me for illnesses, injuries, and curses much worse. These are souls who are thinking from a human perspective and do not remember first and foremost they are spirit.’

My look was far from enlightened so God proceeded.

‘Souls queue up to incarnate on earth. The human experience nurtures the soul’s growth, but for growth to occur the soul must choose the appropriate setting. Let us take a soul who wishes to learn patience. Do you imagine the soul will become skilled in the art of patience if all it is ever subjected to is experiences which do not require it to implement patience?’

‘I suppose not,’ I answered as I began to understand God’s logic.

‘Good.’ His eyes twinkled as He smiled at my grasp of the knowledge He was blessing me with. ‘So you agree it is far more appropriate for the soul to encounter scenarios which test the aptitude the soul wishes to enhance?’

‘Yes, but what has this got to do with Your statement about fun, illness, and injuries, and how do Hope and I fit in here?’

God laughed before answering, ‘Patience, My darling Serena, is one of My highest virtues.’

‘OK, I know patience is a failing of mine so I appreciate Your help so I can perfect this skill.’ When God didn’t speak in my pause I added with a smile, ‘I will wait patiently until You are ready to explain further.’

‘Thank you, Serena,’ God sincerely addressed me. ‘Fun can be found in the complex, particularly for souls who have embodied into an intelligent persona. Envisage your life without any multi-dimensional circumstances; a life where every moment was simple and straight forward.’

I didn’t need to humoured the Almighty to reply. Complications added to the zest in my life, particularly in relation to my profession.

‘I understand, but what about illness and injuries?’

‘If earth was in perfect health which eradicated the medical professional’s existence, what pray tell do you suggest the souls who petition Me to incarnate in Hippocrates footsteps do?’

‘Point taken,’ I humbly replied.

‘A soul who would like to experience dignity, or who may need to learn self-respect might well choose to die from an illness which can fulfill this need. No one likes to believe this is true for everyone is looking at it from a human perspective. Similarly, a soul who wishes to experience a type of incarceration other than legal imprisonment, could decide to injury itself sufficiently enough so the disability becomes the confinement. Another soul may also opt to injury itself to force the soul to adapt to becoming independent. These actions are done at soul level and are rarely conscious decisions, except by those who are spiritually enlightened.’

I listened with interest to theories I had never entertained.

God summed up His sermon by informing me, ‘The highest course of action a soul can take is to make no judgment whatsoever of his fellow man or of God. On this premise, will you trust Me, Serena, and help Hope Harper on the foundation I need you to intervene?’

I answered, ‘I will,’ with more conviction than I had ever summoned before.

God smiled as He informed me, ‘Hope kept her gift of spirit communication a secret from everyone, with the exception of her parents, until one day her neighbours four-year-old son vanished. The authorities suspected foul play. Hope knew for certain, thanks to the spirit world, that dishonourable persons were involved. The police had exhausted every possible lead until Hope, guided by spirit and encouraged by her parents to approach the authorities, gave the police a detailed description of not only the boy’s captives, but also where the boy was being held.

‘Because Hope remained true to herself and the gift I had bestowed upon her, she did more than reunite a family. The neighbourhood, understandably shocked such a crime could happen in their vicinity, stood united in their faith that all would be well. In the beginning they pulled together to help in the police search and took turns consoling the family, as well as preparing meals and looking after the older children who were only seven and nine at the time. By the time the crisis was over, they had developed such strong bonds; the strength of their community spirit has afforded their area My protection ever since. Now no one can practice evil in their locality, although their collective power does not shield them when they are away from their neighbourhood.’

As I listened to God and watched the scenes of the emergency play before me in the sky, I found a new respect for Hope.

‘It was not long before Hope was asked to assist the police in their enquires with another adduction. With a one hundred percent success rate, Hope’s services were extended to the secret services.’

‘WOW! So Hope helps to fight crime not only at Collins, Harper, and Jones Solicitors, but for her Queen and country also.’

God looked pleased at the admiration I had expressed for Hope. Like any good father, He also ensured credit was paid where credit was due.

‘Yes, but you, My Angel not only fight crime for Collins, Harper, and Jones Solicitors, but for Me and My Universe also. You are My Angelic Secret Agent. By this definition I will appoint the number 444 to you; for 444 is the number that has been associated with angels since Archangel Michael, the First Angel, was blessed with wings.’

‘Thank you, Father. I am truly honoured. Please tell me ‘Corruption! Dishonesty has infiltrated the British Secret Service. Of course the evil within can be traced back via a cleverly woven network to Lucifer. He was such a promising angel before his fall from grace,’ God reminisced. Bringing Himself back to the present He informed me, ‘Very soon Hope will be privy to some information which will put her at risk unless she joins Lucifer. Hope is one of My most loyal and trustworthy subjects. Accordingly, she will never fall from My favour. I reward such loyalty, Serena.’

God paused before solemnly asking me, ‘Even though I have awarded you honorary angelic status you are still human, Serena, and thus I honour and respect your free will. To comply with My sacred Laws of the Universe I must ask you, will you be My Angelic Spy and go to Hope Harper’s rescue?’

Without hesitation I answered, ‘I will shake the foundations of the British Secret Service with the army of angels you have allocated to me, Father, until I bring justice to Your Cosmos.’

‘Then you will need this,’ He said as He handed me a glittering, silver, five point star with the number 444 boldly embossed in the centre. ‘Keep it safe, and if any angel, demon, or human disputes your position, show them your heavenly talisman, whereupon they will accept your authority,’ God said just before He hugged me.

Chapter Ten

The Archangels Part One

 

I left the life review room with A.M. My official badge lay comfortingly in my pocket as I walked in heaven alongside my Angelic Knight with my long magenta cloak trailing regally behind me.

I was awestruck at the sight which welcomed me as I walked the hallways of heaven. Delicate little fairies dressed in tiny, glittering, white tutus fluttered their shimmering, transparent wings as they lit God’s house with their magical wands. I wanted to stay and watch their hypnotic movement, but A.M. insisted he present my final briefing at his retreat in Banff, Alberta, Canada.

A.M. explained only the most experienced angels were permitted to orb between time zones to prevent unnecessary search and rescue missions being deployed to locate the lost-in-time novice. For this very reason, he needed my consent to orb us both in his sphere.

Immediately I had the intent to orb with A.M., my view altered in a haze of royal purple-blue light from one of jovial fairies, to a scene which although earthly, looked like it belonged in heaven; seated high up on a snow touched mountain, A.M. and I surveyed Banff.

To one side sat the civilised, idyllic town with chalet style buildings lining the tidy, wide, tree strewn streets. The opposite side represented the wilderness with alpine trees sprouting unceremoniously; their reflection, even at our attitude, was plainly visible in the great lake. Despite the contrasts, both shared the same factor of being dwarfed by the towering mountainous terrain.

It was the happiest I had seen A.M. who visibly breathed in the clean, cool air just before he announced, ‘Welcome to my special place.’ Proudly he gestured with his hand to give me a panoramic view.

‘Thank you.’ I copied A.M.’s deep breathing exercise before needlessly expressing, for the surrounding beauty spoke for itself, ‘It’s stunningly beautiful, A.M.’

He smiled, ‘God has blessed us Archangels with sanctuaries we can call our own in recognition for the service we grant humanity; albeit we use the gifts God has graciously bestowed upon us. Our angelic qualities are heightened at our havens, which are among the great wonders of the world.

‘A.M., why is it so still up here on the mountain top? I would have expected to be cold or windswept, but I’m neither.’

‘An angel can hover in the eye of a storm and hold course. Humans too can learn disciplined behaviour, which is common among Buddhist Monks. A teaching of theirs is to dry themselves and the wet sheets which encase them using nothing more than the power of their minds, while they stand barefoot in deep snow.’

‘WOW! That’s impressive.’

‘I have brought you here, Serena, as God suggested you may need acclimatising after being in heaven to the harsh air quality here on earth. In Banff, among this precipitous topography, the air is pure by earthly standards. Where you are headed the quality is dense.’

I thought of the fume filled streets of London and coughed as if my lungs resented the idea I was considering leaving an environment untainted by pollution for one which, in comparison, was so toxic it choked itself.

‘As always, God knows best,’ A.M. answered in response to my bark. ‘Before I take you to London though, I need to share some invaluable information with you to help you victoriously with your task.’ A.M.’s causal demeanour was a steep contrast to God’s warning that if I failed Hope Harper, I failed humankind.

With no appropriate words coming to mind, I remained silent and listened to A.M.’s instruction.

‘You may need to call upon one or more of us Archangels to help you, successfully, complete your task, so you would do well to remember the information I am about to give you.’

‘Actually my memory isn’t that reliable, A.M. Shall I just pop down to the shops and buy a writing pad and pen so I can make notes? Oh, wait a moment; I don’t have any money on me.’

Far from being defeated, I was searching my brain for feasible solutions when a scroll of paper, complete with clip board to lean on, suddenly materialised in my left hand, and a fountain pen resembling the one I prefer to use appeared in my dominate right hand. For the first time in a very long while I was stunned into silence.

A.M. laughed before commenting, ‘God will always give you what you need, Serena, at exactly the precise time you need it if you show complete faith, for He cannot affect your free will.’

Regaining the ability to speak, I joked, ‘I require an army of angels to defeat Lucifer.’

‘You already have God’s angels at your disposal. Please take note on who to call upon given the circumstance.’

I posed myself to take notes. Having never been a personal assistant, I hoped I was up to the task, as my version of short hand had thus far been by no means decipherable. I was just thinking a Dictaphone would have been more useful, when A.M. began my lesson. As he uttered his first words, a hologram image of Archangel Raphael appeared directly in front of me.

‘Archangel Raphael, who accompanied us to the Karmic Lords Temple, is the Angel of Healing. Whether a human or an animal is hurt, if free will is given for the healing to take place, Archangel Raphael can use his emerald green aura to produce miraculous results. It is his ability to heal which has earned Archangel Raphael the honorary title of, Overseers of Physicians. His retreat, Fatima in Portugal, has had many sightings of Divine occurrences due to the healing energy Archangel Raphael imparts on the area.

‘It is wise to call upon Archangel Raphael when travelling, for not only can he ward off illness and injury which can impair the journey, he can ensure safe and speedy passage by bringing love to the situation.

‘In addition, Archangel Raphael is responsible for uniting lost dogs with their distraught owners; although God prefers the word guardians to owners, as no one owns His beloved canines. Archangel Raphael will also bring comfort to the distressed guardian and dog, though in the main the animal trusts in God so is unconcerned by the separation, and Archangel Raphael will encourage the canine and the canine’s custodian to follow his or her guidance so he can reunite hound and human swiftly.’

A.M. waited for me to stop scribbling before he began to tell me Archangel Gabriel’s talents. As A.M. spoke Archangel Gabriel’s name, the transparent image of Archangel Raphael, that had periodically rotated giving me full view of the therapeutic Archangel, softly faded away to be replaced by Archangel Gabriel’s hologram representation.

‘Archangel Gabriel, who you met at your life review, is the Angel of Communication, and as such he is the patron saint of writers and teachers. He can be called upon in any circumstance to aid communication whether verbal or in a letter.’ A.M. paused momentarily. ‘Far below us on the street a disagreement has began over a parking space.’

‘Where?’ I squinted in a vain attempt to see more clearly.

‘It is not important or appropriate to see. My purpose in mentioning it is to make the point; if one or both of the parties had asked Archangel Gabriel for assistance with communication, the nastiness both drivers have now entered into would have been avoided. I will go to them and do my best to resolve the dispute. Alas, without being asked, I can do very little.’

I expected A.M. to orb down to where the argument was taking place. When he didn’t I asked, ‘Did you want me to come with you?’

‘No, thank you, Serena, that is not necessary.’

‘I’ll wait here for you then.’

‘That is not necessary either, for I have already gone.’

The befuddled look on my face was plainly obvious.

It may have been tempting for a mortal to prolong my agony, but as a loving Archangel A.M. smiled and said, ‘Angels are multi-dimensional, which means we have the ability to be in more than one place at the same time.

‘Of course,’ I said as I remembered wondering why Archangel Azrael had been late to my life review for that very reason.

‘When the drivers set off on their journey this morning, if they had called upon Archangel Raphael to assist them with their journey as well as thanking the Parking Angels for all of the spaces they required this day, the argument would not have erupted. They too could have called upon me for my protection. Now tempers are high, they can still call upon Archangel Gabriel to help them communicate, Archangel Raphael to heal their stress, and the Parking Angels so they both have a space. I too can help by administrating fairness and ensuring a just outcome. Instead they argue on.’ Without any sign of frustration or disappointment A.M. added, ‘The sooner mankind understands angels are here to give them heaven on earth, then there truly can be peace in this domain.’

Without hesitation A.M. continued my education.

‘Archangel Gabriel’s blessed place is at Mount Shasta in California, a place of immense natural beauty protected by Archangel Gabriel’s golden aura. Volcanic movement has not been seen at Mount Shasta for over two hundred years’, thanks to the hard work of Archangel Gabriel to keep the lines of communication free. Still, if ever the majority of mankind abandoned God’s love based teachings and turn instead to demonic rituals, volcano’s, including Mount Shasta, will erupt to cleanse the earth.’

Once again A.M. stopped to give me time to complete my notes on Archangel Gabriel.

When I had plotted my last full stop I looked up at A.M. With full realisation of the destruction a mass volcanic eruption would bring I prayed, ‘God willing, the day will never come when demonic practices out number kind deeds.’

‘God feels the same, Serena, but with His renowned love and mercy, He has given man free will to choose.’

With my pen poised, A.M. appreciated I was ready to take some more notes.

‘Archangel Jophiel is the Angel of Beauty, so was well suited to help God’s tailor with your cloak. She is as proficient at beautifying and organising thoughts as she is at enhancing the environment with the aid of her fuschia coloured aura. Her main strength, however, lies in bringing healing to negative and chaotic situations, but she is just as happy to help with what some human souls class as trivial concerns, such as personal appearance and gifts. Her retreat is south of the Great Wall of China, near Lanchow.’

When A.M. finished I asked, ‘Do you mean to say Archangel Jophiel doubles as one’s angelic personal shopper?’

As I asked the question, Archangel Jophiel’s beautiful holographic face broke into a dazzling smile as she gently nodded her head in agreement with A.M. who answered, ‘In a sense, yes, she does. Personal appearance can make all the difference to some souls’ confidence. Remember how vulnerable you felt in God’s chambers when you were dressed in the hospitals finest tunic? God sensed your discomfort, which is why your appearance changed. God wants nothing more than for His children to be truly happy, and it is for this very reason He employs an angel for every eventuality.’

‘Without meaning to sound disrespectful, if God “employs an angel for every eventuality,” do I really need to take notes? Could I just call upon, for example, the angel who will help me to have a good hair day as opposed to a bad hair day; would that evoke the correct angel to help me?’

‘It would. In your example, Archangel Jophiel would be only too pleased to help you organise your hair. As it is with all matters, it is always far more productive to be fully informed. Therefore, to answer your original question, God wishes for you to take note of the different attributes He has blessed us Archangels with.’

I nodded with pen held to indicate A.M. could continue.

‘Archangel Chamuel is the angel who sees everything in his pale green aura, so if something or someone is lost, just ask Archangel Chamuel to locate the item or person for you.’

‘A.M., you said Archangel Raphael finds lost dogs,’ I stated with confusion in my voice.

‘That is correct, Serena.’

‘Why is that so when Archangel Chamuel has the responsibility to find everything else?’

‘When a beloved four-legged-angel is separated from its human, Archangel Raphael’s healing abilities are necessary to bring love to a fraught situation.’

I felt a warm glow radiate from my heart as I gushed, ‘God really does think of everything.’

‘God is all knowing and all seeing, Serena. He cares implicitly for all His children, and He is saddened when they insist they would rather do things the hard way instead of accepting His love.

‘A case in point; a lady is currently frantically searching for her spectacles in one of the boutiques in Banff. Instead of allowing the misplaced item to concern her, she would be wise to thank Archangel Chamuel for his guidance. Archangel Chamuel would find her spectacles in a wing beat if she would only ask him to. Archangel Chamuel retreats at St Louis, Missouri.’

It was my turn to pause as I thought about the many times I had mislaid my car keys, and the countless hours I had spent hunting them. Next time an item of mine went astray, I vowed to call upon Archangel Chamuel, whose exceedingly tall frame which translucently hovered before me, would easily spy the lost object saving me time and anguish.

Realising A.M. was waiting patiently for me, and my distracted mind was adding precious minutes to the time it took me to return home, I finished scribbling my notes and asked A.M. to continue.

‘Archangel Azrael, as you know, is the beautiful Angel of Death. His white aura consoles the bereaved as well as the newly departed by releasing them from fear, and instead, with God’s grace he fills them with love. His retreat is the black mountains on the border of England and Wales.’

‘Archangel Azrael is most suited to the role of the Angel of Death. He was very kind to me. I just hope he’s still in the post when it’s my time to return to heaven,’ I affectionately stated to A.M. as Archangel Azrael’s ghostly form waved at me.

‘I think it is very likely Archangel Azrael will remain the Angel of Death for all eternity,’ A.M. kindly responded. ‘Now, you spent some time with Archangel Raziel and Archangel Raguel, but let me recap.

‘Archangel Raziel takes refuge among large volumes of books, which has earned him the nickname God lovingly adorned him with: The Librarian.’

As if to highlight this point, Archangel Raziel’s image, which had replaced Archangel Azrael’s, pulled from his robes a sizeable, leather-bound book.

‘His crystallised study was significantly overflowing with books,’ I recalled.

‘Archangel Raziel’s specialty is to impart esoteric wisdom, especially if he can apply this knowledge with healing intent. In fact, his passion is to clear painful memories, particularly if the fear entwined in these traumas prevents a soul from accomplishing their life purpose.

‘Archangel Raziel oversees the angels who guard the Akashic records. This makes him privy to the vows a soul made in a past life. If said vows are troublesome, Archangel Raziel has the authority to sever the binding contracts if the soul consents, and if permitted by Karmic Law.’

‘Was it Archangel Raziel’s influence which persuaded the Karmic Lords to permit my reprieve where Hope Harper is concerned?’

‘Archangel Raphael commenced your healing when he connected with you in the life review room. Then Archangel Raziel added his therapeutic rainbow aura when he mentored you. However, your distaste for Hope Harper was too strong even for the combined healing strength of these two power Archangels. As a result, the Almighty had no choice but to involve the Lords of Karma.’

I looked suitably ashamed for the extra work my emotions had caused. A.M., forever above such judgmental feelings, didn’t dwell in my guilt.

‘My beautiful and wise friend will also help a soul live in the present moment where all worthwhile opportunities can be found, and he can walk along the path of chance with the soul if he is invited.’

As my notes became increasingly untidy, I was awestruck at the volume of work which fell upon Archangel Raziel’s wings.

‘No wonder Archangel Raziel is the epitome of Warlocks,’ I respectfully conveyed to A.M. ‘With all the responsibilities he juggles, he truly is a Wizard.’

‘No, Serena,’ A.M. said tenderly, ‘Raziel is one of God’s Archangels.’

‘Of course.’ I shifted uncomfortably in case I had offended A.M. with my unintentional implication that he and the other Archangels were slackers in comparison to Archangel Raziel.

‘Archangels do not take umbrage, Serena,’ the same tender tone informed me. ‘And nor do we judge or recognise guilt. The vibration we float on is too high and therefore loving to allow ourselves to plummet into the dense experiences of fear, which is responsible for lesser emotions such as shame, self-reproach, and condemnation.’

As the blush spread from my cheeks to my neck, I said before A.M. had the chance to say, ‘There is no need for embarrassment; I know. Between all his other duties, Archangel Raziel passed on this wisdom to me.’

‘Archangel Raziel is perspicacious in his guidance,’ A.M. praised his fellow angel.

‘As you know, Archangel Raguel counsels and mediates. But what you are not aware of is that his duties extend beyond mankind, for God entrusted Archangel Raguel with managing the relationships between angels and humans where organisation, fairness, harmony, and justice is concerned. Like many angels, Archangel Raguel is a bringer of peace. With this Divine peace, Archangel Raguel can use his aqua aura to heal misunderstandings and inspire forgiveness.

‘God gifted Archangel Raguel the ability to attract likeminded souls to one another, making him both a friendship and romance matchmaker, as well as an invaluable business consultant.’ A.M. had barely finished when he said with an air of urgency, ‘We must go, Serena.’

Painstakingly focused on my note taking, I completely missed the importance in A.M.’s voice and consequently I responded somewhat casually, ‘I’m nearly done.’

‘Serena, your notes will have to wait.’

Looking directly at A.M., I started to explain that if I didn’t organise my penmanship immediately I wouldn’t have any chance of decoding it later, when I saw the slightest sign of concern in A.M.’s facial features.

‘Whatever is the matter?’ I stayed transfixed on A.M.’s face as I waited for my answer.

‘The Devil is thwarting God’s plan to protect Hope with your amulet. This cannot be allowed to continue as God’s will over Hope’s safety, will be done. I think it would be wise for you to see how the Devil works, Serena. So if you will consent to come with me, we can orb transatlantically immediately.’

‘Err …’

With my mind in a whirl I dropped my gaze to my messy notepad. To my delight my notes had self tidied into neat, clearly headed, and artistically arranged cards, bearing the relevant facts I had jotted only. Grinning with satisfaction, I looked back at A.M.’s still troubled expression.

Promptly adopting the same look as my Angelic Mentor, the realisation of the seriousness of the situation dawned on me; Satan wanted my sapphire, and quite frankly after the performance I had gone through to temporarily agree to grant Hope as the custodian, I wasn’t readily going to allow anyone to upset God’s carefully implemented plan. So grasping my cue cards in my hand I reached out for A.M. and gave my blessing to orb back to London.

Chapter Eleven

The Safe

 

A.M.’s urgent appointment was at Harry Goodwin’s office.

Harry had placed my ownership disputed amulet in his office safe appreciating it was of immense value. The safe had recognised this fact also and appeared not to want to let its prize possession go; as every time Harry turned the dial to open the safe it refused to budge.

Harry checked, double checked, and then triple checked the combination he’d cleverly disguised in his personal organiser as a mixture of telephone numbers, birth dates, and appointments. He had been painstakingly meticulous when he coded the numbers, reversing several digits to further heighten his security.

The purpose of the smoke and mirrors system, which Harry prided himself on, was to achieve the maximum protection available to a personal safe as opposed to the company’s vault at the bank where he’d considered placing my necklace, but he’d deemed it to be unnecessary. In hindsight, this decision no longer constituted a good one, and as he pulled, poked, and prodded his grey metal nemesis, which hid behind his favourite piece of contemporary art, he really could have kicked himself for not making the trip to the bank which had been Mr. Harper’s preference, and not only because he had a vested interest with his daughter being my sapphires new owner. But Harry had reasoned the short term nature of the security requirements totally justified his decision, and besides, it was far simpler his way (or so he’d thought) to retrieve and safely deliver my pendant to Hope.

Frustratingly, he recalled his meeting with the two amulet opponents, and wished he had given Hope her inheritance then and there. But while fastidious and unreceptive to a high degree of human interaction, Harry had a kind nature and thought Molly’s feelings would be better spared if she wasn’t present when Hope took custody.

Harry, a man of no religion or spirituality, wasn’t buying Molly’s story that an angel declared Hope as the rightful owner. He thought it was more likely that Molly was suffering from a neurological dysfunction triggered by my unfortunate passing, and impacted by my disloyalty.

You see Harry knew Molly was my intended keeper for my sapphire, and he couldn’t fathom (because he wasn’t privy to God’s industrious plan) why I had changed my mind to, of all people, Hope. He guessed if he was struggling to comprehend my sudden change of heart then surely dear, sweet Molly was, because the whole scenario seemed so illogically. He just hoped Molly’s condition was temporary and his decision to spare her sanity the right one; regardless that at that precise moment he couldn’t help but think it was most definitely the wrong course of action for him.

To appease his irritated self, he concluded the handing over of such a valuable item should be done with the highest degree of security, and all steps officially recorded, thus satisfying the company’s liability. Therefore, his actions were reasonable and subsequently vindicated him entirely, even given the present ill-fated situation.

Unaware dark forces beyond his imagination were the root cause of the disobedient safe which would have refused to opened even with Hope and Molly present, Harry made an emergency telephone call to an available local locksmith who gave Harry his word he would discreetly call around to his office within the hour.

Wishing to keep the escapade hush-hush, Harry had suggested the locksmith wore a suit, as otherwise, even without the display of tell-tell tools which Harry thought could be well hidden in a briefcase, jeans and a t-shirt were a dead giveaway that something was awry in an establishment such as Collins, Harper, and Jones Solicitors. However, when the locksmith said he would need to go home to change to comply with Harry’s request and would then need to add a surcharge to the fee to cover this inconvenience, Harry, who was already personally covering the cost in an attempt to hide the blunder, changed his mind that corporate attire was necessary and asked the man to come as quickly as possible.

While wiping his moist brow with a carefully ironed handkerchief, Harry then proceeded to dismiss his secretary for the afternoon, least she witness the farcical state of affairs and gossip unmercifully to: at best the other assistants; and at worse to anyone who would listen.

As A.M. and I watched Harry’s previously mollified manner rise in fitful agitation as he awaited the arrival of the one he was convinced would save his rapidly deteriorating week, A.M. shared his knowledge on the events unraveling before us.

‘The safe has been tampered with by non-human hands,’ A.M. declared noticeably calmly given Harry’s anguish. ‘It is likely that a deadlock curse has been preformed, making any human attempt to open it futile.’

‘You will be able to open it, won’t you, A.M.?’

‘Oh, yes, but not until Harry has left. Deadlock curses can be tricky, so it may take me a little time as caution is warranted, and my methods may not be easily hidden if Harry is still present.’

‘So we need a diversion to steer Harry out of his office?’

‘That will not be necessary, Serena. We will wait until Harry has vacated the premises for the evening.’

‘What if Harry doesn’t leave, A.M.?’

‘He will.’

‘What if the locksmith is dishonourable and opens the safe just before he steals my very old and valuable, Himalayan, Devil and evil spirit banishing, cornflower blue sapphire amulet?’

‘You have such a lively imagination, Serena.’

I kicked off my white satin pumps as I made myself comfortable on the cream leather sofa directly opposite the cursed safe.

‘But . . .’ I quickly searched my mind for a convincing thought, ever hopeful of winning a disagreement, ‘what about Hope?’ I said with enthusiasm as the thought literally sprang into my mind. ‘She needs my amulet’s vital protection. God said so. The longer we sit here doing nothing, the longer Hope is open to attack from the dark side,’ I finished triumphantly.

But A.M. had other ideas and announced, ‘I am watching over Hope, Serena, so do not alarm yourself.’

Undeterred I counter argued, ‘God insists His will, will be done.’

‘He does, but to God waiting an hour or two, or a day or two to achieve His desired result is negligible, because God will always find the blessings in every moment and such time is infinitesimal in the scheme of things.’

I was about to object further when there was a knock on the dark wooden varnished door to my left. Harry rushed to open it, very nearly tripping over his mohair cream rug in his haste.

A small, bespectacled man stood nonchalant in the hallway dressed in scruffy jeans and a brown leather jacket which looked out of place, not only because it appeared to date back to the 1970’s, but also because it was understated for a bitterly cold day. A large tool bag clutched in a gloveless, corn beef pigmented hand hung at the man’s side, which was designed purposefully to remain open, presumably to aid efficiency. I laughed at the conspicuous look of dread on Harry’s face. It would be nothing short of a miracle if the man’s presence had gone unnoticed, and questions were bound to be asked if he’d been seen.

Fully aware of this embarrassment, Harry literally pulled the man into his office, narrowly missing crushing the locksmiths free, equally mottled hand as he slammed his door shut. Clearly agitated, Harry proceeded to unnecessarily gesture to the wall behind his desk where the safe was obvious.

Ambling around the lacquered desk which matched the wood of the door, the man scratched his thick head of rich brown hair as he asked, ‘What seems to be the problem, Mate?

Visibly exasperated and not appreciating being called, “Mate,” Harry explained regardless how many times he entered the right combination the door refused to cooperate. The man naturally and very sensibly questioned whether Harry had indeed entered the numbers accurately.

Harry, anxious to see my amulet was still safely tucked inside his safe box answered with indignation, ‘The combination is correct.’

A.M. conveyed Harry’s concern to me.

‘Why would Harry suddenly suspect my sapphire has been stolen? It hasn’t, has it?’ I asked apprehensively.

‘No, your amulet is still in the safe,’ A.M. reassured me.

‘Good, but now you’ve mentioned it, why didn’t the curser just take it? Surely it would have been far more productive than these delay tactics.

‘You are forgetting, Serena, your sapphire is an evil repellant. Evil is certainly at the core of “these delay tactics” but had no choice other than to leave your amulet where it is. If it was not for the safe between, evil could not have dared to get so close in the first place.’

Several hours later, when the safecracker had failed to enter the metal box, much to his surprise and Harry’s distress, he suggested cutting through the door. Concerned for the contents if a large blade crashed through, Harry was unsurprisingly hesitant. Assured the blade would penetrate the top of the door leaving the items at the bottom of the safe undamaged and easily accessible, Harry consented, albeit reluctantly, as even though he was under strain he remained astute. However, he was still slightly apprehensive at any moment his secret would be out. Diving further into desperation with each passing minute, he pragmatically affirmed he had very few options left to him.

But, when the blade followed by a blow torch failed to even mark the metal, Harry began to show signs he was more than a little worried; his naturally pale complexion turned porcelain giving the impression all the blood had been sucked out of him, and he looked decidedly clammy.

Harry eventually dismissed the locksmith, who was out of ideas, and proceeded to sit for the longest time in his office chair where he vacantly stared at the disobliging safe. Finally, after an exhausting day where the safe door had relentlessly refused to dislodge, a weary Harry pulled on his grey cashmere winter coat and thick leather black gloves, before wrapping his chunky cashmere scarf around his neck in a defeatist fashion. He picked up his briefcase and nuzzled his face into the soft fabric of his scarf on the pretence of keeping warm; yet I suspected his reason was to hide from those who may dare to ask what the commotion was in his office and why a labourer had called. He left the light in the office he’d been captive in all day to automatically turn itself off when it failed to detect movement after thirty minutes, leaving A.M. free to do what a professional locksmith, a chainsaw, and a blow torch could not.

I was still lounging on Harry’s leather sofa which I noted seemed to be not only larger, but also more comfortable than the sofas in my office, a fact I promptly aimed to resolve when I returned. As I mentally redesigned my office space, A.M. gently approached the problematic door; a stark contrast to the assortment of macho gizmos which had been thrown at it. Placing his palms flat against the metal, he unfolded his large eagle like wings and activated his halo for the first time in my company. A golden, purple, and blue ray of light radiated from the Divine crown which glorified his being with an abundance of love and peace. As I bathed in the angelic light which filled Harry’s office, I understood why Harry needed to go home before A.M. could work his magic.

Goose bumps assaulted my honorary angelic body as A.M. spoke in his beautiful yet authoritative voice. ‘In the name of our Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, I command the deadlock curse to lift without any harmful affects to human, animal, angel, or any item tangible or otherwise, and I instruct you door to open.’

With a soft click the safe obliged, but at the exact same moment a dark shadow emerged from the far right corner, the furthest it could get from the safe, and muttered what I took to be a counter curse because the safe banged shut again.

Unperturbed, A.M. summoned the Angels of Hope who flooded the room with their cherub style form. The small winged angels stood armed with not only bow and arrows, but musical instruments which they swiftly put to good use. With the loving vibration of A.M.’s aura and the Angels of Hope composition, the dark shadow was kept at bay allowing A.M. to complete God’s work.

In the morning, a beaten Harry trudged into his office totally unaware a band of angels was in situ. As Harry closed his door, A.M. dimmed the brilliance of his aura so as not to alert the already spooked solicitor, and the angels repositioned themselves to give Harry space, as even though he couldn’t see them, he may well have felt them if he literally bumped into one. Some sat with me while others floated around the comfortable surroundings. All remained vigilant against the dark figure which skulked on the sideline.

At first glance everything appeared exactly as Harry had left it, but on closer inspection Harry saw the safe door had been opened. His heart skipped a beat as he feared my amulet had been taken, and he felt foolish that the buffoon from yesterday had hoodwinked him, as surely he was the culprit. When he found to his great delight all was present and correct, the depth of gratitude he felt knowing his nightmare was over outweighed his need for an explanation on how on earth the door had swung open, by all intents and purposes its own accord, and it did not occur to him to feel apologetic for the insults and accusations he directed towards the locksmith, albeit non-verbally.

Removing my amulet from the safe in case the strong metal box reverted to its stubbornness of yesterday and locked him out again, Harry called Hope to arrange convenient and secure delivery of her inheritance.

Hope was adamant she was happy to stop by Harry’s office to accept my necklace. When Harry protested under security regulations, Hope placated him by suggesting she sign any relevant documents to verify she was happy to receive the item under these circumstances.

With the hour Harry had spare before Hope arrived; he held my sapphire in his left hand jacket pocket, not daring to let it go; closed the safe door without locking it; moved back into place the art work by one of his favourite contemporary artists, Birim, which was curiously titled: Running Wild (never could I imagine Harry with his moderate pompous demeanour running wild); and personally typed the release forms for Hope to sign, carefully adding a clause which waived Collins, Harper, and Jones Solicitors from all liability.

A.M., the Angels of Hope, and I stayed with Harry until Hope had visited his office and taken responsibility for my amulet. Notwithstanding Harry looked much relieved to have relinquished responsibility of the troublesome jewel, he was uneasy when Hope asked him to fasten the chain around her neck. And when Hope confirmed she had every intention of wearing my sapphire around the office, I thought Harry looked like he needed a defibrillator to revive his heart that had been under a considerable amount of pressure since my will reading.

Harry urged Hope to reconsider, and advised her to seek a valuation, telling her surprisingly modestly he thought my amulet was extremely valuable. He failed, however, to tell her of the prior day’s proceedings, or his unexplained gut feeling that there were mysterious forces at work that wanted to deprive her of her inheritance. In fact, Harry was never one to listen to his intuition, and instead buried such feelings as soon as Hope had closed his office door behind her, but not before she reminded Harry that I wore my sapphire necklace daily to the office. This did nothing to persuade Harry, forever the ‘practicalarian’, that his opinion that the amulet definitely wasn’t for casual wear was the right view.

I was strangely calm when I saw Hope Harper. I didn’t even flinch when she took possession of my sapphire.

With my amulet in Hope’s care, the shadowy figure vanished, followed by the Angels of Hope, leaving A.M. to suggest we continued with my lesson on Archangels which was interrupted by the deadlock curse.

However, before A.M. could orb anywhere, I asked, ‘A.M., why is my amulet safe now it’s with Hope when we had to guard it against more curses when Harry was its temporary warden?’

‘Hope is one of God’s light workers as you are, Serena. The dark side is powerless against the amulet when it is worn by a light worker, which is exactly why God directed you to buy it in the first place. Besides, it was the safe which was cursed, not your amulet.’

‘If God wanted me to have the sapphire so badly, then why didn’t he come up with the funds?’

‘All “funds” are God’s, Serena.’

My look said I thought otherwise, so A.M. clarified, ‘The dust that goes unnoticed as you grind it under your feet; your beloved Mercedes-Benz; and the most precious gem on earth all belong to God, for God is the maker of all.’

Realising I would need to give this statement a little more thought, I turned to A.M. and asked, ‘What was in the shadows that so badly wanted to prevent Hope taking ownership of my amulet?’

‘That was a dark elf.’

‘A dark elf! One of Lucifer’s henchmen, I take it?’

‘Yes, his allies come in all different shapes and sizes. One thing they have in common is that they are all dark.’

‘The light that came from your halo which pushed the dark elf into the shadows, why was it so different from the light you emitted in Archangel Raguel’s study?’

‘My aura lights my halo. It is a completely separate source of light from the one you witnessed in Archangel Raguel’s study which was Divine Light. Now, shall we return to Banff?’ A.M. asked before I had time to inundate him with any more questions.

‘Actually, A.M., I have my very own special place here in London and I wondered if it would be acceptable to you if we went there?’

‘Lead the way and I will follow,’ God’s chief Archangel replied.

Chapter Twelve

The Archangels Part Two

 

I led A.M. to a serene square which was positioned opposite my favourite coffee house, Giorgio’s. Despite its small size, the garden was packed with icicle ornamented trees which waited patiently for their leaves to blossom, and snow covered herbaceous borders that were lovingly tendered by kind, old gnarled hands when the weather permitted. Several conifer trees added a splash of colour to the white landscape, while two prominent pathways, which crossed in the middle of the square, gave access to the haven from four different entrances; each when exited leading to bustling, carbon dioxide filled streets.

Buildings, many of fine architecture, surrounded the square. The grime caused by the heavily trafficked streets clung to the masonry of the old constructions, turning the original white stone a shabby grey. Pure white snow rested on the elaborately crafted ledges of the regal structures, where it partially entombed the resident stone cherubs and emphasised the soot caked exteriors of the aged edifice. However, the soiled walls were softened by the mature native oaks which lined the affluent pavements, even though they were devoid of their foliage.

A.M. and I sat on one of the half dozen painstakingly elegantly decorated benches which adorned the square, although admittedly, under its thick cover of snow, one who didn’t already know would have been hard pressed to appreciate the artwork lovingly applied to the green metal frames. Our celestial bodies left no tell-tale signs to indicate the bench was occupied, leaving us to pursue our surroundings uninterrupted and in comfort; as the freezing temperature, despite the sunshine, didn’t penetrate us, unlike the occasional passerby who quickened their step under their bundle of clothes, which half heartedly sheltered them, in an anxious attempt to no doubt arrive somewhere warm.

‘This,’ I gestured with my hand as A.M. had done to give me an all-encompassing view of Banff, ‘is my special place. I come here when the weather is on more amicable terms with my human body to be at peace. It seems surreal one can find such a place in a cut throat business orientated city. I thank God that little pieces of heaven exist in this predominately concrete polluted jungle.’

‘God hears your prayers, Serena. The more soul’s who join you in thanking our Father for lush green spaces, no matter how small, allows Him to continue to protect them.’

‘It isn’t very lush and green today,’ I said as I surveyed my predominant white environment.

‘Many would criticise the snow without fully appreciating its wonders.’

‘Which are?’ I inquired as one who definitely didn’t welcome the increasing number of appearances the wet and cold white visitor seemed determined to make.

‘The snow brings a blanket of peace to an otherwise world full of frenzy. It wages war on germs which plague mankind, and by bringing purity it allows Mother Nature to regenerate once her white ally has gone.’

‘I’m going to miss you when you leave me, A.M., as you always have a positive outlook, no matter how bleak the going gets.’

‘No occasion is ever bleak, Serena, when God is invited to be present. I want you to know I will never leave you, even if you cannot physically see me; unless that is you ask me to go. The same can be said for the rest of the Archangels which I must continue to inform you of. Do you have your pen and paper to hand?’

I mentally intended to recommence note taking, and as I did so the clipboard complete with paper and my pen materialised in my hands, just as it had done in Banff, cueing A.M. to tell me Archangel Sandalphon’s blessings.

The Archangel I had been concerned I had offended when I grew weary of his opus, lovingly appeared in essence form, complete with a conductors baton in hand, as A.M. said, ‘Archangel Sandalphon graces us all, God, human, and angel alike, with music; as you may recall from your audience with God. He has helped many aspiring musicians and composers: Mozart, Bach, and Handel to name but a few. He is also responsible for organising God’s angelic choir.

‘He helps to deliver prayers from earth to God in heaven, and he can intercede on mankind’s behalf when prayers are said to be unanswered. Sometimes, for many different reasons it is easier for a human to hear God’s voice through an angel, and this is one of Archangel Sandalphon’s specialties.

‘Archangel Sandalphon retreats at the magical giant crystal cave in Guatemala, which has been used as a sacred place prior to Mayan times some two thousand years’ before our Lord Jesus Christ. The caves emit a turquoise hazel which is the colour of Archangel’s Sandalphon’s aura. In his loving aura, Archangel Sandalphon dissolves aggression and other volatile tendencies which can afflict a soul that has forsaken God. All the angels will rush to the aid of a lost soul, but can only intervene if permission is granted.

‘Archangel Metatron is sometimes referred to as Archangel Sandalphon’s twin since they are the only angels that ever walked as men on earth. In truth they are separate, but at the same time they are one; for all angels act as one voice of God.

‘Archangel Metatron retreats at Luxor in Egypt. It is from here he governs the sacred geometry which can help to clear, along with his aura of green with dark pink, light workers from toxicity. He converses with God, often scribing for the Almighty and Old Father Time. It is this connection that allows Archangel Metatron to influence time.’

‘So if I’m running late for an appointment, can I ask Archangel Metatron to assist me?’ I asked excitedly hopeful.

Archangel Metatron, whose shadowy form stood next to his baton clutching twin, silently answered my question by producing a large fob watch. Ensuring he had my full attention, he exaggeratedly displayed the gigantic hands before bringing them to a halt.

A.M. and I laughed as A.M. confirmed, ‘Yes, and as you can see from Archangel Metatron’s presentation, if your heart is pure and trusting, he will willingly help you and make certain you are on time by literally halting time if he needs to.’

‘How amazing,’ I said as I scrolled my eyes down my notes to double check my facts. ‘A.M., I’m just recapping and I’m a little confused. You said Archangel Sandalphon “can intercede on mankind’s behalf when prayers are said to be unanswered.”’

‘Yes, that is correct.’

‘Why would God choose to answer some prayers and not others?’

‘God answers all prayers without exception, for He would never forsake His children. Be that as it may, He does not always grant every wish.’

‘Then why does God grant some wishes and not others?’

‘If a soul’s request is not pure of heart, God cannot agree. If the Almighty senses a lack of belief, He cannot concede the application, nor can He go against another’s free will. There are also times when He denies a soul because He has something far more magnanimous in store for the worthy, trusting soul.’

‘A.M., what do you mean by “a lack of belief”?’

‘If the resolve of the soul who made the prayer request wanes; if frustration is experienced instead of mounting excitement; if pessimism and cynicism preside and appreciation falters, by the sacred laws God cannot grant the essence of the prayer. A prayer is strengthen by gratitude and belief. Therefore, a wise and successful prayer of petition to God would go something along the lines of, “Thank you, Father, for bestowing this great gift to me, or something even better, in your own perfect Divine Timing and for the greatest good of all concerned. And so it is.”’

‘That’s beautiful, A.M.’

I was so moved by A.M.’s prayer suggestion that a tear had formed in my right eye. I discreetly moved my gloveless hand to wipe it away as I thought how fortunate I was to be angelic like and consequently unaffected by the freezing cold, otherwise my tear would surely have frozen solid in this unseasonal climate.

Having answered my questions A.M., who was seated to my left, pressed on with my studies.

‘Archangel Uriel is among the angels who protect mankind from fallen angels, by spreading God’s Divine Light within his pale yellow aura. One such way he achieves this is to illuminate the human race with insights; naturally providing he has been given the authority to do so. Those who do relinquish their free will to allow Archangel Uriel’s blessings, often refer to him as the Angel of Epiphanies.

‘His retreat is in the Tatra Mountians in Poland, where Archangel Uriel helps to transform painful memories for those who consent, and where he restores peace to the past and present.

‘Archangel Ariel is the Overseer of Nature. In this capacity she works closely with Archangel Raphael, combining her pale pink aura with his bright emerald green when an animal requires healing, or an area of outstanding natural beauty is at risk.’

Hearing his cue, Archangel Raphael became visible alongside Archangel Ariel’s solid form, upon which the two curative Archangels began to send healing to a lame pigeon that wandered the squares icy paths. As I mesmerisingly watched the golden glow that was discharged from the Archangels’ hands, A.M. brought my attention back to my coursework by gently calling my name. Once he had my full attention, he continued.

‘Archangel Ariel also ensures the safety of the elementals on planet earth, including the fairies. If you look closely you will see fairies present in this beautiful city garden.’

‘They are? I thought you said fairies shy away from the metropolis?’

‘They do, but just as you have recognised the spirituality of this place, the fairies know it too, and their presence amplifies the peace that can be felt here.’

I looked around for the timid fay. Unsuccessful in my endeavour, A.M. called for them to come out.

‘Come on, there is no need to be shy. Serena is an honorary angel who has vowed to serve our Father and uphold His love, honour, wisdom, mercy, and grace.’

I heard what sounded like a group of small children giggling, followed by a blaze of light as the commune of fairies danced joyfully, wands held alight, around us.

‘I’m honoured you grant me an audience,’ I said as I humbly bowed my head to Archangel Ariel’s charges.

The fairies continued to dance and giggle as A.M. proceeded with my lesson; it seemed by their scanty attire which matched those I had seen in heaven, they too were unaffected by the cold.

‘Archangel Ariel is the angel of earth’s natural resources, so all requests for earthy needs are directed to her.’

‘A.M., earlier in Harry’s office you said “all funds are God’s.” Are you therefore implying Archangel Ariel is God’s Angelic Banker?’

‘That’s a novel way to describe the Angel of Abundance. Nonetheless, it is remarkably apt since she is concerned with wealth.’

I underlined A.M.’s last words as I made a mental note to pass this information on to Mr. Rich, my apartment block doorman. An inane name for a man who pleaded poverty at every available opportunity, more than ever after he’d near bankrupted himself paying for his daughter’s three course wedding reception for two hundred guests. It seemed if anyone needed Archangel Ariel’s guidance, Mr. Rich did.

As I looked up to check the fairies hadn’t been scared away by the infrequent person walking by, A.M. pointed out the full moon which was set high in the mid morning sky. It glowed pearlescent, but was no less brilliant than the fiery effect of the sun.

‘God has given Archangel Haniel the very special task of protecting the moon, the brightest next to the sun of all that roam the solar system. At the birth of a new moon, Archangel Haniel can help human souls work towards their desires which can be best achieved when the moon is full. As the lunar wanes, Archangel Haniel encourages the release of negativity and any old patterns that are not serving the soul.

‘Archangel Haniel is in addition responsible for the third brightest natural object in the galaxy: the planet Venus. Venus, or the Morning Star or Evening Star which she is also known due to her powerful illumination, is the planet of love and beauty. It is Archangel Haniel’s association with Venus, coupled with the fact that she instructs the Romance Angels, which has earned her the affectionate alternative name of the Angel of Love. It is this privileged position that qualifies her to heal heartbreak by wrapping the heartbroken in her bluish white aura that is so characteristic of the moon.’

At these words I stopped scribing. I looked up once again at the moon which was beginning to turn transparent as it prepared to retire for the day until its preferred night-time appearance, when in the hands of the dark night sky it would shine magnificently. Visualising the moons night-time radiance, I sent a silent prayer to Archangel Haniel whose goddess-like-spirit floated up to her charge.

I had forgiven Hope. However, my heart still ached, even in my angelic form, whenever I thought of Rupert. As I stopped kicking my feet that failed to reach the floor under the bench, I pleaded with Archangel Haniel to free me of the stabbing pain in my heart, and to heal me so I may one day find love with my true soul mate while I envisioned myself lovingly comforted by her bluish white aura.

A.M. respectfully waited for me to finish my prayer, and he tactfully refrained from mentioning it, even though from past efforts I knew he was fully aware why I had temporarily neglected my studies. The fact that I neglected to thank him verbally was unimportant, as the smile that lit my eyes especially for him said it all.

‘Souls, such as Hope Harper, who have clairvoyant abilities, are supported by Archangel Haniel.

‘As clairvoyance are sensitive’s, God also employs Archangel Jeremiel to help them. Archangel Jeremiel assist souls in awakening their inner most dreams, providing they serve them well, and he helps them bring their worthy desires to fruition.

‘Archangel Jeremiel also has the important role of helping newly crossed over souls review their lives.’

‘He wasn’t present at my life review,’ I interjected.

‘He will be when it truly is your time, and if you ask him to, he can help you review your life in any moment so he can lovingly help you forgive by surrounding you with his violet aura which will allow positive change to bless your soul.

‘We come to Archangel Zadkiel. Archangel Zadkiel shares Archangel Jeremiel’s ability to inspire forgiveness. Both of these devoted Archangels silently supported Archangel Raphael, Archangel Raziel, and the Lords of Karma with your forgiveness issues. In addition, Archangel Zadkiel used another one of his legendary traits to help you: compassion.

‘Archangel Zadkiel is the Angel of Memories. There is nothing that makes God happier than when a soul asks for help so they may focus only on the beautiful memories and let the rest go.

‘By combining his gifts of forgiveness and memory, Archangel Zadkiel assists me in helping humans release any form of emotional pain, including the most destructive: anger. He liberates those lost in victimhood without the need to judge those they perceive wronged them.

‘Archangel Zadkiel’s aura is dark blue. Whenever a person sees flashes of dark blue light, this is Archangel Zadkiel letting his presence be known.’

A.M. paused. I looked to see what had distracted him and noted a robin had perched beside him on the snowy arm of the bench. It had plumped out its feathers against the iciness, making it appear much more substantial than its true small size. Pulling some seed from his robes, A.M. fed the little, red breasted bird that tweeted, it seemed, in thanks. As the bird moved on to A.M.’s hand to gain easier access to its meal, A.M. recommenced my teachings.

‘As for me, Archangel Michael, I am the Lords protector. Hence, the police forces throughout the world have adopted me as their patron saint.

‘I protect possessions as well as humans and animals, and anything else that helps bring peace to mankind. God appreciates how stressful it is for humans when the material world malfunctions. For this reason, if requested to I can prevent glitches and revive broken down objects, particularly if I am aiding a soul’s life purpose or providing vital protection, such as keeping a vehicle mechanically safe and sound.

‘Speaking of life purposes; I help with important life changes on an individual and mass basis, and I can help a soul fulfill its Divine life purpose.

‘Along with Jesus and Archangel Raphael, I can slay the ego’s need for fear, and bring peace and healing to any soul that asks.

‘Anyone who feels they are under psychic attack just needs to call upon me, and I will shield them.’

‘What’s a “psychic attack”, A.M.?’

‘If someone directs angry thoughts at another or is displaying jealousy, the dark emotion generated can cause actual physical pain. Usually this pain is sudden and sharp, and it can even be caused by the individual who may be thinking unloving thoughts about themselves.

‘I oversee a group of angels that preside over God’s Universe, ensuring the safety of the moon, the stars, and the sun, as well as the planets. As I have already mentioned, Archangel Haniel also governs the moon and Venus.’

A.M. tickled his feathery friend under its beak while announcing, ‘This concludes your lesson. I have given you vital information concerning the fifteen Archangels that you may call upon during your mission. In truth, to acquire anything you need just focus on your desired outcome with loving intent and an angel will assist you whether I have covered their qualities or not. But it is more powerful and respectful if you are informed and you ask the relevant angel.’

I viewed my messy notes and remembered the beautiful artistic cards which appeared after my last attempt at note taking. As I concentrated on the silky feel of the cards and the rich gold edging, much to my delight my disorganised scribal turned into cards matching the seven I had already collected.

‘Thank you, A.M. My lesson has been most informative.’

‘Now, I must give you the first task of your assignment, and then we must say farewell, for the moment at least.’

As I contemplated the journey that lay ahead of me, a dog walker passed by holding a steaming cup of coffee in a familiar blue takeaway beaker in her free from dog leashes hand. Her pack, sensing A.M.’s vibration, stopped to investigate this new, loving scent, and in doing so forcibly halted their handler in her tracks. The robin, unimpressed with the intrusion, flew to the safety of the nearest branch.

While A.M. was preoccupied with the two Golden Retrievers, a German Shepherd, a Bearded Collie, and a jacketed Jack Russell who was trying to scramble on to A.M.’s lap to warm his ice cold paws, I savoured the smell of the rich aroma of coffee. The scent released fond memories of Molly pushing open my office door as she brought me my daily fix of strong Americano if my morning had been tiresome, or skinny café latte if it had been relatively calm. She usually based her decision on how many times I had slammed my phone down or banged my desk draws shut.

Ignoring their mistress’s commands, the canines competed for A.M.’s attention, jostling each other to be the focus of angelic hands. As A.M. treated them to an angelic massage, vapour trails escaped from the hounds’ hot panting breath into the frosty air as they wriggled with ecstasy.

As the dogs reluctantly allowed themselves to be pulled away, I asked, ‘Before we say au revoir, A.M., do you think we might be able to get a cup of coffee?’

I gestured to the blue awning gently swaying in the bitter chill.

To my great joy A.M.’s reply was favourable.

Chapter Thirteen

The Coffee Break

 

A.M. and I vacated our tranquil spot as we adjourned our meeting and walked across the deserted square towards the exit which would lead us to Giorgio’s Coffee House. We left no betraying footsteps of our presence in the freshly fallen snow. That was until we joined the bustling London scene where our concealment lifted, and much to my astonishment I was no longer wearing my angelic dress and magenta cloak, which I guess would have looked out of place in twenty-first century England, although not as much as A.M.’s normal attire.

Instead the two of us were decked out in dark blue denim jeans and matching, yet gender appropriate, grey dappled cashmere winter coats. A.M.’s footwear appeared unchanged, but my white satin pumps, which were most inappropriate for the weather conditions, had been sensibly replaced by stylish, knee high, black leather boots, the like I had never worn before due to their immeasurable comfort. Black leather gloves dressed our hands, and his and hers winter hats completed the look, even though none of our costume was essential for warmth, as we had taken on the guise of human form figuratively so we remained Divinely protected from God’s elements.

As we entered the corner plot which housed the coffee shop, through a door the same shade of royal blue as the awnings that hung over each of the two large windows, A.M. complimented my look which he said had been orchestrated courtesy of Archangel Jophiel, the Angel of Beauty, who had made a major design contribution to my angelic gown.

We settled at a small table for two in smart, dark burgundy leather chairs by the picturesque naked windows where the two roads Giorgio’s occupied were both visible. The winter’s day sunlight crept around the tall, majestic buildings on the other side of my square, throwing a yellowy-orange tint on the lavish, pearl heart design, white papered walls.

I was just thinking some soft furnishing would help to muffle a good portion of the noise created by the forty strong guests, when my senses, tantalised by the alluring smells, demanded I joined the ever growing lunch time queue. Obeying this explicit command, I was edging closer to tasting my first café latte in nearly a fortnight when I was suddenly struck by a horrifying thought; I didn’t have any funds to pay for our beverages.

I shoved my hands into my coat pockets hoping to find a stash of sterling notes. When both provided zero results I tried my jeans with the same disastrous outcome. Faced with the dreadful prospect of leaving latte-less, I was ransacking my brain for any solution, no matter how bizarre or mortifying, when A.M.’s voice filled my head.

‘God always provides, Serena, when one’s heart is full of peace, hope, and loving intent.’

I quickly spun around believing A.M. was standing behind me with the required cash; much to my horror he was seated where I had left him some fifteen feet away. I was musing how on earth I had heard A.M.’s voice as clearly as if he’d been speaking directly into my ear, when the same phenomenon occurred again.

‘I need not be with you to communicate with you, Serena, for our loving Father always gives us the messages we require. Have faith, Serena, that what you desire will come to pass.’

‘Have faith,’ I muttered to myself as the coffee shop customers either side of me stepped a little further away with a disconcerted look in their eyes. ‘It’s all very well having faith, A.M.,’ I whispered so as not to attract any additional stares, ‘but how will faith help me pay for our drinks?’

‘God will provide, Serena, if you only trust.’

I took a deep breath, and incoherent to human ears I said, ‘I have complete faith in God.’ I repeated the words over and over again, making every effort to convince myself all would be well.

‘All is well, Serena, when one trusts in God,’ A.M. called to me again to the oblivion of the other coffee dwellers. ‘Visualise yourself walking away from the counter with our coffees. Know this will be the outcome with as much certainty as you know the sun will rise tomorrow, and will shine ever brightly, even if its strength is shielded from your eyes by dark clouds. Have faith.’

With my eyes screwed shut for extra concentration, I emphatically repeated my mantra while visualising indulging my coffee fetish as A.M. had suggested. As I hypnotically moved along the smooth, dark cherry wooden floor to keep my place in the queue, a flash of inspiration hit as I recalled Archangel Ariel was the Angel of Abundance. So I put a silent prayer into her for good measure to supply me with the finances I needed to satisfy my caffeine whim.

In what seemed like no time at all I was at the head of the line being asked, ‘What can I get you today?’

‘I have complete faith in God. Thank you, Archangel Ariel, God’s beautiful Angel of Abundance, for providing the funds for two café lattes,’ I automatically replied with my eyes still tightly shut.

‘Sorry,’ came the confused (and who could blame her) barista’s response.

I jumped as recognition dawned on me that I was being spoken to.

‘Oh, sorry!’ I said with my humiliation clear to see. ‘I mean, err . . .’

I looked suitably embarrassed as I glanced downwards at my folded hands. Mercifully, I saw the corner of what looked distinctively like coloured paper. As I dared to lift my thumb, I clearly saw a pound sign. My relief was immediate, and all my shame disappeared with my sign from God and Archangel Ariel that all was indeed well. My jubilation flooded through into my order which unsettled the barista further, and secured me even more personal space when the customer behind me, who couldn’t have failed to observe my behaviour, took a few extra steps in the opposite direction. Finally, with one skinny and one regular café latte (I figured A.M. didn’t need to concern himself with keeping his figure), I triumphantly returned to A.M.

I was back in heaven when I took my first slip of caffeine. A.M. merely sat there with his masculine left hand lightly draped around the glass coffee cup as he watched me with mild bemusement on his face.

I noted Archangel Jophiel had not deemed it necessary to adorn A.M. with a watch. On checking my wrists, my hands moved to my earlobes and neck, none of which had been bejewelled. I surmised an Archangel wasn’t ruled by time so had no need for a watch, and nor did an honorary angel. With this quandary satisfied, my attention wandered back to my coffee and the fact I hadn’t consumed an awful lot of food or drink lately.

‘A.M., appreciating I haven’t eaten since the day before I checked into the Make Me Perfect hospital, and I haven’t had anything to drink since the sip of water I took a few hours before my scheduled operation, why haven’t I died of hunger or dehydration?’

‘In heaven the vibration is such that earthly rituals to sustain energy and life are not necessary, which is why you did not need to eat, drink, or sleep.’

‘Archangel Azrael told me I didn’t need sleep after my life review,’ I recalled. ‘So now I’m back in the earth’s hemisphere, presumably all that will change,’ I said wishing I had booked a comfortable room at Claridges Hotel and ordered a panini with my coffee now I could invoke money on demand. My eyes diverted to the queue hopefully, but in a short space of time it had grown even longer.

‘You are an honorary angel, Serena. You are supported by God’s love, so there is no need for any substances until your assignment is complete and you have returned officially to earth. But a coffee will not hurt,’ A.M. added, possibly due to the anguished look which formed on my face.

‘There’s something else I wish to ask you, A.M.’

He remained silent. Even so, his intent gaze showed me he was listening.

‘It’s a little delicate,’ I sheepishly added.

‘I am here to help, Serena,’ A.M. tenderly responded giving me the courage to take him into my confidence.

‘It concerns Rupert.’

‘Yes,’ he said using the same tender tone.

‘I’ve . . .’

A.M. gave me the space to find the right words and continue without any interruption.

Exhaling with the velocity of someone with a heavy burden on their chest, I confessed, ‘I’ve forgiven Hope Harper for stealing Rupert away from me, truly I have. But I’ve been left with what I can only describe as an ache. I miss Rupert, A.M., and I don’t know how to rectify the misery this is causing me,’ I said noticeably defeated.

A.M. contemplated my predicament before announcing, ‘There really is only one thing for it.’

‘There is?’ I answered without having a clue what this wonderful solution was.

‘You must invite Archangel Haniel for coffee.’

After I had recovered from A.M.’s shock disclosure and asked him for the third time whether he was joking, I called Archangel Haniel.

‘Err . . . Archangel Haniel, I was wondering if you could spare some time in your busy schedule to join Archangel Michael and me, Serena Olivia Unity Lewis, for coffee?’

I don’t know what I expected; some kind of explosion as Archangel Haniel turned up in a puff of smoke, or more likely orbed in through the closed door. Perhaps a little disappointingly neither of these things happened. Instead, a few moments later a very attractive blonde entered.

At first glance I actually thought it was Hope Harper, but this blonde was a little too slim and tall to be Hope. And then I noticed she had the same coat on as me and the exact same knee high, black leather boots, so by the time she came over to A.M. and greeted him affectionately, there was no need for me to wait for introductions; I knew Archangel Haniel had just arrived.

‘Serena, hello,’ Archangel Haniel smiled, and as she did I thought I saw a star twinkle in her teeth.

‘Hello,’ I said hesitantly, and then with a little more confidence I stated, ‘You look most different to me in your humanised disguise, Archangel Haniel. I really wouldn’t have recognised you from the apparition I saw of you earlier today.’

‘Not everyone would wholeheartedly agree with that statement, Serena,’ Archangel Haniel replied.

Responding to my look of utter confusion and my request that she explain herself further, Archangel Haniel gestured towards a group of young women sitting on the plush, leather sofa which circled the back wall as she playfully said, ‘You will soon see.’

‘Please sit, Archangel Haniel,’ A.M. diverted the conversion as he gestured towards the empty space between him and me.

Amazingly, before my very eyes a dark burgundy, leather chair, which perfectly matched the seats surrounding it, materialised for Archangel Haniel.

‘Thank you, Archangel Michael.’

I nervously scouted my eyes around the coffee house, convinced I would be met with bewildered stares, but to my utter relief no one seemed to have witnessed the supernatural occurrence.

‘I must say this is very pleasant,’ Archangel Haniel continued, ‘the moon asked me to pass on its regards to you, Archangel Michael.’

‘How is my old friend? It seems an eon since my last visit,’ A.M. responded.

‘The moon is as vibrant as always, and so too are the stars which support the moon’s endeavour to light the dark of the night sky.’

A.M. nodded appreciatory at Archangel Haniel in acknowledgment of this fortuitous news.

‘If I am not mistaken,’ Archangel Haniel squealed, ‘that,’ she pointed to A.M.’s full glass with her professionally manicured hand, ‘is the drink humans call coffee.’

‘It is. Would you like mine?’ A.M. offered.

‘Thank you for your kind gesture, Archangel Michael, but I will conjure my own rather than deprive you of your cup,’ Archangel Haniel replied.

And then after she had composed herself, just as A.M. had summoned the chair without any incantations or flashes of light, Archangel Haniel cosmically ordered a café latte which immediately appeared before her.

‘Magic sure beats queuing or praying for funds,’ I commented.

‘I did not use magic, Serena. I prayed for what I desired,’ Archangel Haniel enlightened me as she removed her coat to uncover a stylish blouse with soft frills at the cuffs and collar. Most striking of all though, was the shirt’s colour which matched that of the moon.

Intrigue overcame me. I unbuttoned my own coat, and to my delight I revealed the same style blouse Archangel Haniel was wearing. However, instead of being cool silvery-bluey-white, it was the same magenta shade as my cloak.

‘Thank you, Archangel Jophiel,’ I whispered. ‘I love my shirt.’

‘You are most welcome, Serena Olivia Unity Lewis,’ a strangely familiar voice I was certain I hadn’t heard before, sounded in my head just as A.M.’s voice had done earlier.

I looked at A.M. with wide startled eyes.

‘Do not be concerned, Serena, for I am Archangel Jophiel, the Angel of Beauty,’ the voice confirmed.

I was still a little sceptical. My mind returned to my Sunday school teacher’s lesson on evil spirits and the being of light test I had laid down for A.M, who as God’s Chief Angel had been privy to my conversation with Archangel Jophiel and assured me I had definitely been conversing with God’s angelic beautifier.

‘Sorry to doubt you, Archangel Jophiel. I’m new at talking to angels. Admittedly, it’s all very exciting, but at the same time it’s also a little unnerving.’

‘No apology necessary, Serena. I am always within reach if you need me,’ Archangel Jophiel lovingly replied.

‘Archangel Jophiel, did you also dress Archangel Michael in this shirt?’ I played with my tactile, frilly cuff as I asked.

Instead of answering me, I heard Archangel Jophiel’s beautiful laugh as A.M. undid his coat to expose a royal purple with a hint of blue shirt like Archangel Haniel’s and mine, minus the trimmings.

I joined Archangel Jophiel’s laughter just as one of the young women Archangel Haniel had pointed out to me approached Archangel Haniel and said, ‘May I have your autograph, please?’

A few people on the tables close to us looked over with interest, obviously wondering who the celebrity was.

Archangel Haniel was totally unfazed by the intrusion and the attention it had generated when she answered, ‘I think you have mistaken my identity.’

‘Aren’t you Vivienne Logan, the supermodel?’ the lady replied a little haughtily.

‘No,’ Archangel Haniel simply responded as she flashed her amazing smile.

‘Oh,’ the lady looked most put out as she hurried back to her seat, whereupon she relayed her encounter to her friends who all stared at Archangel Haniel with wide eyes, until one of the group fished my favourite L’Occitane hand cream out of her designer bag which instantly altered their topic of conversation.

‘I helped her out quite recently with matters of the heart,’ Archangel Haniel explained as she handed me a tube of hand cream identical to the one I had been wishfully eying. ‘Her soul knows exactly who I am, but her human intelligence has chosen to forget our little chat and has instead transferred her recognition of me to one she finds more acceptable.’

I thanked Archangel Haniel for my gift. As I liberally applied the cream to my slim hands I asked her, ‘Do you always become visible when you help someone, Archangel Haniel?’

‘No, not always. Sometimes it is enough to send a sign, such as a white feather. Other times a little voice in their head can guide them, or a vivid dream. Then there are times when only the obvious will do; which was the case with our Vivienne Logan fan. I had to materialise to stop her making a grave mistake.’

‘Isn’t it a bit scary when an angel suddenly appears to us mere mortals?’ I genuinely enquired.

‘As a Messenger of God it is impossible for us to be anything other than loving. The soul senses this and feels at peace in the company of angels. It is after the occurrence when the human can start to doubt the experience, and they often alter the events in their consciousness until it becomes part of their subconscious. For this reason, some humans require more than one visit from either the same angel, or they may need several different angels to help them,’ Archangel Haniel eloquently answered me.

‘Which reminds me; you called Archangel Haniel with a purpose in mind, Serena,’ A.M. said bringing our conversation back on track.

‘Yes,’ I looked at Archangel Haniel to acquire her consent to continue.

‘How may I help?’ she asked; I suspected she already knew.

‘My heart aches, Archangel Haniel, every time I think of Rupert. Archangel Michael thought you could help me,’ I asked promisingly.

‘You wish me to heal you of your infliction?’

‘Yes, please,’ I sighed.

No sooner I had asked, before my very eyes Archangel Haniel’s opalescence aura penetrated my heart. As I relaxed into my healing, a voice deep within me vehemently shouted, “NO!” This violent interruption pulled me out of my relaxed state with great force.

‘Your free will does not allow the healing, Serena,’ Archangel Haniel said without prejudice as she retracted her aura, ‘just as it refused the reprieve I sent you from your heartache when you petitioned me earlier today.’

‘Why am I holding on to this most negative emotion?’

‘The “why” is for your free will and your soul to work out. When you have, all you need to do is ask and I will take away your aching heart and replace it with one which will only know love.’

‘I don’t know how to figure it out,’ I said with an air of frustration.

‘Then pray to our Father. He will help you find the strength and the answers to your prayer,’ Archangel Haniel answered with love.

I lightly intertwined my fingers, bowed my head, and closed my eyes before following Archangel Haniel’s advice.

‘Dear God, please help me release this heartache.’ Sensing no change I added, ‘Please lead me so I’m able to rid myself of this pain.’ Still nothing happened so I finished with, ‘Thank you.’

‘A good prayer always leaves the: hows, whys, and wherefores up to the Almighty; for our loving Father always knows what is best for us and He will deliver the answer at precisely the right time,’ Archangel Haniel praised me. ‘It is also wise to ask your guardian angel to pray along with you.’

‘What has my guardian angel got to do with praying to God, and do they actually exist?’ I queried as my brain fully processed Archangel Haniel’s statement.

‘Every soul comes to earth accompanied by their very own guardian angel to watch over them. If asked, the angel will petition God on the soul’s behalf so He may grant the soul’s wishes,’ Archangel Haniel answered me.

‘Archangel Haniel, will I ever find love again?’ I asked somewhat bashful.

‘Not until you have agreed to truly release Rupert. True love, Serena, means loving someone enough to let them go.’ She buttoned up her coat, pushed back her chair and said, ‘For now my work is done. Serena, I feel sure we will meet again. When you are ready to release your pain just call me and I will come to your aid immediately, in the name of our Father who has made the loving promise to mankind to send an angel whenever a soul has a need.’

‘Thank you, Archangel Haniel,’ I humbly responded. ‘Would you like your hand cream?’ I asked as I hesitantly offered the glittering tube back to the Angel of Love.

‘Please keep it with God’s compliments,’ she delightfully replied before addressing A.M. ‘Archangel Michael, as always it has been a blessing to spend time with you.’

‘And you, Archangel Haniel. Please pass on my regards to the moon and the stars.’

Archangel Haniel inclined her head in acknowledgement, and then she left as swiftly as she’d arrived, with her long blonde hair whirling around her and her café late untouched.

Chapter Fourteen

The Meeting

 

As A.M. and I walked out of Giorgio’s on to the pedestrian filled street, I virtually bumped into a Big Issue seller who was working the afternoon shift. I plunged my hands inside my pockets hoping God would feel as I did that the Big Issue was a worthy purchase; He didn’t disappoint me.

Walking back to the square with my magazine tucked under my arm, A.M. began my final briefing.

‘Armed with the knowledge I and your other mentors have passed on to you, Serena, you are to seek Hope Harper who can presently be found at MI6 headquarters here in London.

‘Hope has just successfully completed a missing person’s case for the Metropolitan Police. Now, MI6 require her services to locate a person who is missing of a completely different kind. The British Secret Service is very keen for Hope to find this individual.’ A.M. paused before he consciously stated, ‘God wishes this person to remain hidden from them.’

A faint smile traced my lips, but barely reached my eyes as I replied, ‘I wonder why I’m not remotely astounded at this news.’

True to form A.M. chose not to visibly or otherwise respond to my comment, and instead remarked, ‘It is time to go. I will orb with you to the entrance of MI6 headquarters, but it is there where I must leave you.’

‘Why won’t you come in with me, A.M.? I may need you, and surely the job’s success rate will increase with the two of us.’

‘There are dark forces currently at work within the walls of the British Secret Service. If they feel my presence, which they undoubtedly would, those of us on the side of righteousness would be at a disadvantage. So, my dear Serena, you will enter alone, but you will never be by yourself. All you need do if you require assistance is call.’

‘How do I call you, A.M.?’

I remembered the thought I’d had of speed dialling the angels, but I didn’t actually think this was the way to call God’s elite team as essentially it wasn’t sophisticated enough.

‘Just call to me in the name of God our Father, even if you do so inaudibly, and hold the image of me strong in your mind. The same is true if you need the service of another Archangel. You have the cards explaining our blessings so you know who to summon?’

‘Yes, right here,’ I said as I pulled out the works of art, but not from my coat or the pockets of my jeans as I had magically switched back to my angelic uniform, inclusive of cloak, just as seamlessly as I had switched to civilian wear. I looked up at A.M. who had also changed back to his gladiator appearance.

‘Oh, A.M., I’ve just remembered; I never did get the counsel and mediation leaflets from administration which Archangel Raguel promised me.’

‘Do not fear, Serena. I will arrange for them to be delivered to you,’ A.M. assured me. Somehow I didn’t think he meant by conventional courier service.

‘How will I know where Hope is once I’m inside MI6, A.M.?’

‘You will be guided.’

‘Guided how?’

‘Trust in God, Serena. Now it is time to go. Hope is currently waiting to meet with senior personnel, totally unaware of the events she is about to be entangled within. I am so very pleased, Serena, you were able to release your hatred towards Hope, for she needs you now more than she has ever needed anyone.’

‘I have more questions,’ I said with the panic in my voice clearly audible.

‘Serena, there is no time. Trust everything you require will come to you and it will.’

‘If time is an issue, let me ask Archangel Metatron to speak with Old Father Time. If Archangel Metatron requests Old Father Time slows time down so I arrive with Hope at precisely the right time, then there is time for my questions,’ I argued as I remembered Archangel Metatron’s earlier display with his considerably large watch.

With neither an annoyed, amused, or quizzical look, A.M. said, ‘It is done. What are you questions, Serena?’

With satisfactory relief I asked, ‘Firstly, how do I stay invisible, and similarly how do I become visible?’

‘Now you are an honorary angel, if you hold the intention to be invisible, then you will be. If you wish to reveal yourself, intend it.’

‘My second question is; if I need to travel internationally, what shall I do? As of course I can’t travel beyond the United Kingdom’s borders without being zapped, or something worse, by the time zone.’ I said this half heartedly as I struggled to see what could be so difficult about orbing around the globe, but A.M. thought it was a good point to cover.

‘If you need to travel transatlantically, then the Almighty will know.’

‘Probably, before I do.’

‘God is all seeing and all knowing. He will arrange your transportation if the need arises.’

‘My third and final question is . . .’ I looked uncomfortably down at my feet. ‘Eh . . . Archangel Haniel said a soul knows when an angel is present, yet I tested you, A.M.,’ I finished with anguish in my voice.

‘Serena, your soul knew my true identity. It was your mind deep in doubt and confusion that demanded proof. Do not berate yourself. Instead learn to trust your soul. Now, it really is time for us to go, Serena. Are you ready?’

‘As ready as I ever will be,’ I said as we took flight.

 

As promised, A.M. orbed with me to the embankment where the home of the British Secret Service sat reflectively in the river Thames. When it was time for him to leave, I hugged his muscular body wishing in all honesty I didn’t have to let go, as the thought of my journey ahead terrified me; it was like leaving the security of childhood for the big bad world, but one hundred times worse.

I stood alone for some time, contemplating it would actually be easier to throw myself into the Thames and let Old Father Time hold the clock still for always so the all important meeting Hope was about to attend, which I was meant to be present at, would never happen, when I heard A.M.’s voice reverberate around my head.

‘Rely on my strength, Serena, and forge ahead fearlessly,’ A.M. advised me.

These words were enough to snap me out of my quagmire and deal with the situation at hand. With a new zest for justice, I transformed into my orb in front of a handful of unsuspecting and oblivious tourists, and entered MI6.

A little part of me expected to set alarms blazing as I penetrated the high security building, yet undetected I floated, led by an unexplainable golden light, straight to Hope Harper.

Hope was seated in a spacious boardroom, very much alone, to one end of a large oak table which would quite easily accommodate twenty-four personnel. Her relaxed posture held her hands, palms gently curled upwards, neatly placed in the skirted lap of her crossed legs. Her writing pad and pen lay redundant on the highly polished table in front of her. She wore smart Collins, Harper, and Jones Solicitors attire, which not only matched the colour of my sapphire hanging in full view around her neck, but also complemented her baby blue eyes.

As I surveyed the room further, I couldn’t fail to notice the predominant wall was lined with portraits of past great leaders, who stood in their magnificent golden frames against a background of dark wooden panelling. Opposite, a wall of windows, which Hope faced, scanned the Thames below and spied on the Southern banks of the Capital.

I sat on a cabinet underneath a painting of Cain Caldwell Fagan Hart, whose pinstriped suited, shiny black shoed full length profile had been captured some sixty years’ earlier. Mr. Hart was a serve looking gentleman with slicked back jet black hair, a handlebar moustache, and piercing blue eyes. With my back to him, my spine tingled as the hair started to lift on the back of my neck giving me the distinct feeling this man was not a being of light, and even though he was no longer tangible, having departed from this world sometime earlier, the eeriness of his portrait made me rethink my position.

As I made my way over to the windows where I was planning to perch on the low ledge (I could hardly pull out a chair without spooking Hope, even though there were plenty to choose from), the boardroom door swung open admitting three men, each with the same black hair and intense blue eyes as the portrait.

I stood alert. My instincts warned me to shout at Hope to run and hide, but I realised to show myself would be disastrous to God’s mission, so I opted to keep a very close eye on the three I assumed were related to Cain Caldwell Fagan Hart. Besides, Hope had my very old and valuable, Himalayan, Devil and evil spirit banishing, cornflower blue sapphire amulet on her person to keep her safe, and A.M., the Lords protector, was only a call away.

The three men walked the length of the boardroom to greet Hope, who stood to attention before leaning into the table to shake their hands.

‘Good to get the chance to work with you again, Hope,’ the man dressed in a Metropolitan Police uniform said.

‘You too, Caldwell,’ Hope politely responded as her left hand instinctively reached to touch my sapphire.

Jumping as he made contact with Hope’s person, as if he’d been electrocuted, Caldwell neatly covered up his strange behaviour by commenting, ‘That’s a beautiful necklace. Is it new?’

‘A frien . . . it was an inheritance,’ Hope uncomfortably said.

‘I believe you met my brother Fagan when you last helped MI6,’ Caldwell gestured towards the grey suited, identical looking man next to him.

‘Yes, hello, Fagan,’ Hope said as she courteously extended her right hand again, not daring to let go of the amulet with her left.

Fagan shook her hand, yet he pulled away abruptly as if he’d been burnt. ‘Sorry, static,’ he blamed his behaviour on; whereas I thought it was more likely my amulet at work.

‘May I introduce my brother Cain Hart, who also works for Queen and country as the Head of the Intelligence sector for MI5,’ Caldwell informed Hope as he summoned his sibling forward.

Cain’s navy, expensively cut suit rose slightly as he reached to shake hands with Hope, exposing an opulent, gold watch worn unusually on his right wrist, with two crossed horns either side of a fiery, red face.

‘What an unusual watch,’ Hope commented. Curious, she let go of my sapphire and extended both arms towards Cain to inspect the demonic piece more thoroughly.

Determined to prevent further exposure of his gift from Lucifer, Cain sharply pulled his hand away, concealing his watch once again with his cuff before Hope had a chance to touch him and scrutinize Lucifer’s trademark.

If Hope had been looking closely, she would have noted all three brothers were wearing the same watch, and all three had matching cufflinks which were identical to the satanic detail on the watches.

With the introductions complete, the four sat down. Cain’s anomalous behaviour didn’t go unnoticed by Hope who no longer sported a relaxed look. Purposely staying the opposite side of the table, she posed with her pen in her right hand ready to make the necessary notes so she could escape the darkness which flooded the high ceiling room, despite the wall of windows, for the bright sunshine filled London streets.

Caldwell, the supposed elected spokesman, led the meeting.

‘Pandora, the head of human resources here at MI6, has checked our records. It appears you signed the official secrets act last time you acted as a consultant for MI6. Even so, I’m obliged to remind you of your duty to your Queen and country, in that, all that is said within these walls is confidential. If a hint of a whisper is released, whether intentional or not, the crime will be charged as treason. Is that clear, Hope?’ Although Caldwell’s voice was pleasant, it had an undertone of seriousness that marked a man not to be crossed.

‘You’ve made yourself perfectly clear, Caldwell. Thank you,’ Hope answered calmly as her exterior self didn’t betray her inward unease.

‘Good,’ Caldwell continued. ‘This is a very special operation concerning; the Metropolitan Police, which explains my involvement; MI5, which is why Cain has come into the equation; and MI6, which is why we are here with Fagan at MI6 headquarters. Her Majesty’s authorities have dedicated their best people to this operation, and no expense is to be spared because, quite simply put, the successful conclusion of this taskforce is paramount to national security.’

Caldwell paused. After checking Hope’s demeanour, which didn’t alter due to her strong resolve even though Caldwell had expected at the very least a glimmer of surprise, he carried on.

‘Due to the seriousness of the matter at hand, the highest rank of command has sanctioned your services to MI6 payroll.’

‘How may I be of service?’ Hope asked, anxious to conclude the meeting.

‘An agent with top security clearance has gone rogue. The agent’s name is Ryan Joshua Scott. This is his service file complete with photograph,’ Caldwell held on to the agent’s dossier as he slid a passport size shot to Hope, ‘and these,’ he dealt out a half dozen larger photographs on the table, ‘are the most recent images we have of Scott.’

I moved around the table to stand behind Hope to get a clear look at the man God wished to remain at liberty. When I was barely a foot from her she shuddered as if someone had walked over her grave.

‘Is there anything wrong, Hope?’ Cain who had been quietly observing the meeting asked.

‘No, but thank you for asking, Cain,’ Hope cautiously answered in her soft, sweet voice.

Hope and I studied an attractive, dark blonde man who Caldwell referred to as Scott. Standing next to him was a ginger headed man who had the same flaming colour facial hair under his nose and around his chin.

‘The man with Scott is Hugh Carlisle. Carlisle is believed to be a CIA traitor who is leaking American intelligence to the Russians. From various sources we have reason to believe Carlisle is introducing Scott to his Russian contacts. Britain cannot stand the fall out such a coalition will bring. This is why it’s imperative we find Scott, who fled without a trace along with Carlisle the day these photographs were taken.

‘My counterparts at the CIA are naturally keen to locate their man Carlisle. To this end, they are giving British Forces every possible assistance. If the information you provide us with leads to the capture of Carlisle, the CIA have agreed to pay you a very generous bonus.’ Caldwell passed a folded piece of paper to Hope. ‘That’s in US dollars. However, I’m sure you’ll agree its sterling equivalent is most fair.’

Hope, who had been note taking as Caldwell spoke, put down her pen and carefully unfolded the American’s sweetener. ‘The CIA is undeniably most fair and generous in its offer,’ she remarked.

I peered over Hope’s shoulder making her shudder again. She was being offered a tidy sum, which I could well understand would be very attractive to a solicitor’s clerk. But what I didn’t understand was why, with this secret service increment to her salary, didn’t God guide Hope to buy my sapphire she was currently wearing for herself?

My thoughts were interrupted by Hope who asked a hesitate Caldwell, ‘May I keep these photographs.’

‘We have copies, Caldwell,’ Fagan interjected for the first time since the meeting commenced, before he directly addressed Hope. ‘All I ask, Hope, is that you keep them away from prying eyes and under lock and key when you’re not using them. After all, they are official MI6 documents and promising careers have been cut short for underestimating the importance of such documentation.’

Hope reached down for her briefcase. Placing the stylish, black leather case on the boardroom table, she collected the photographs and secured them, along with her notes, safely under lock and key, making it painstakingly clear to her colleagues she’d followed their instructions without exception.

‘I will need to speak to a relative or close personal friend of Ryan Joshua Scott’s who can give me further details on him. I would prefer to do this in person. Can you arrange this?’ Hope directed her question at the three men.

‘We all know Scott,’ Caldwell informed Hope, ‘so any questions you have can be directed to us.’

‘You were close personal friends before Ryan Joshua Scott absconded?’ Hope had a hint of surprise in her voice as she presented this question.

‘Well . . . no, not exactly,’ Caldwell answered.

‘I need to speak to anyone who was CLOSE to Ryan Joshua Scott,’ Hope clearly emphasised. ‘You can reach me on my mobile to arrange a date and time.’

‘How long before you locate Scott?’ With his face anxious and deeply etched with frown lines as he tentatively awaited Hope’s reply, Cain lent into his elbows which were resting on the table, as his well cut jacket shifted upwards so his shoulders swallowed his neck.

Hope gave him a look of contempt as she retorted, ‘The art of clairvoyancy is delicate. I do not, and I cannot give the spirits a deadline. Good day gentlemen,’ she chillily added as she assertively stood and proceeded to briskly shake unwilling hands, all of which suffered the amulets warning shock, before she turned on her heels and left.

For a fleeting moment I thought I would follow Hope out of the repressive room, but then I theorised my time would be best spent spying on the other side, or at least until their group dispersed.

Hope had left her seat pulled out, so I settled myself in the spot she’d sat only moments before, being extra careful not to knock a table leg and give myself away, placed my Big Issue on the gleaming table, and continued my new promising career in espionage.

‘He won’t be impressed if Hope starts poking her nose into Scott’s personal life. Why does she want to speak to Scott’s acquaintances? How is that going to help her find him?’ Cain asked.

‘I don’t know. Unfortunately, I’m not blessed with the gift of clairvoyancy,’ Caldwell added. ‘If I were, we wouldn’t need Hope Harper.’

‘We must control the information Hope is given,’ Fagan contributed.

‘That is the most sensible suggestion that has been made in this boardroom all afternoon,’ a strong male voice boomed that was neither Cain’s, Caldwell’s, or Fagan’s.

The hairs stood rigid on my icy cold neck. I was terrified of looking around, but I knew to qualify as God’s Angelic Secret Agent I must not fear. So ever so slowly and carefully I rotated my body to see who had spoken, as I clutched my star bearing the angel number 444.

I thought my Angelic Induction Programme had prepared me for the strange and the spooky, but standing in front of his portrait which declared he’d died some time before, wearing the same gray, pinstripe suit and shiny, black shoes that he had been painted in more than half a century ago was Cain Caldwell Fagan Hart.

‘It’s all under control, Grandfather,’ Caldwell addressed the man who looked so human and positively un-ghost like, despite his pale complexion, it seemed impossible he’d just moments before stepped out of his portrait which was still intact.

‘“Under control!” From what I heard it didn’t appear as if you had it “under control” in the slightest,’ Mr. Hart thundered.

‘Forgive me, Grandfather. I didn’t mean any disrespect,’ Caldwell groveled, and then thought better of it when he saw his grandfather’s stormy face. ‘We will take care of it so Hope Harper doesn’t speak to anyone who knows Scott,’ he said more self-assured.

‘See that you do; otherwise there will be consequences,’ Mr. Hart growled at his grandsons who all muttered compliance.

He glared at the three younger Harts for a moment, all of whom had the good sense to keep their heads inclined. Satisfied he’d been shown the right amount of reverence, Mr. Hart turned to face his portrait and was literally sucked back into the canvas.

Fagan mumbled something about convening in his office for a stiff drink before he turned on his heels and departed. I thought this sounded a most civilised idea so I was almost sorry I couldn’t join them. Caldwell and Cain obviously agreed as they swiftly followed Fagan out of the boardroom. As they did so, I saw the same dark shadow I had seen in Harry Goodwin’s office trail behind them with my Big Issue magazine in her skinny, long black fingernail hand.

Chapter Fifteen

The Unwelcome Reunion

 

Honorary angelic status didn’t bless me with the gift to be omnipresence, so while it had been informative to stay and spy on the Harts, I now had the problem of finding Hope.

I was counting on the same light which had led me to her in the MI6 building hanging around to escort me once again, but it was neither present inside nor outside, where the only light I could see was coming from the sun.

I sat and mulled over my options before it struck me; it was a week day afternoon so there was a high probability Hope would be at Collins, Harper, and Jones Solicitors. Within seconds of my ‘eureka’ moment, I set my orbing navigation system to the familiar destination, and arrived in record speed time.

Orbing into the reception area was novel since A.M. had taken me directly to Harry’s office the day before. I noted the light from the elegant chandelier’s glittering on the marble surfaces, and I appreciated the calm atmosphere created by the reception staff who presented the all important first impressions I was normally too busy to observe. Floating through, I had every intention of heading straight to Hope’s desk. But the temptation to stop at my office first was too tantalising, especially so as Molly was absent from her station so wouldn’t be startled by my ghostly visit.

I paused outside my office door and deactivated my orb, taking care to stay invisible so as not to spook any passersby who may recognise me and wonder why I was at work when I was essentially a pile of ash sitting in an ostentatious gold urn on my parents’ mantelpiece. I caressed the familiar handle I normally violently attacked in my haste, and I lovingly ran my free hand along the grain of the door I often slammed shut behind me in anything but a tender manner. I checked no one was looking in my direction, and then for the first time ever I carefully opened my door. The almost inaudibly sound of the lock gently clicking as it released its catch brought goose bumps to my angelic form as I quivered in excitement of being back in the place I felt most valued.

The cream luxurious carpet was the first to greet me. I slipped off my satin pumps so I could feel the softness under foot and the pile between my toes. I merrily danced over to my drinks cabinet and poured myself a small whisky with only the tiniest feeling of guilt which I almost completely disregarded as I reminded myself it was several hours past noon, and I deserved it after my harrowing day of encountering a ghost, a dark elf, the brothers grim, and Hope Harper.

As I walked around the spacious room, whisky glass in one hand, the other hand busily touching everything with a need to feel it actually existed beyond my imagination, I felt at home. The warmth this concept filled me with was suddenly violently shaken out of me when for the first time I realised how utterly career focused I had become. Dismissing this sad notion with a quick shudder of my head, I checked all my personal effects, which mercifully were all present and correct (I would have fallen to pieces if I had turned up and found Jackie Andrews, who had always been after my office, had taken up residence), before I sat down in my ergonomically correct chair. Placing my legs, which I crossed, up on to the corner of my desk, I supped my whisky. I picked up the anti-stress ball, microwavable wheat bag, a stash of which Molly kept in her upper desk draw. Laced with extra lavender, Molly would warm one up for me if she sensed the overall vibe of my office needed the calming properties of the essential oil she thought could cure all.

With my eyes glossing over as my breath relaxed and I became more meditative, I started to mull over how strange my life had turned out; me an Angelic Spy! Now, who would have dreamt spy of any kind was possible as a career choice for me, let alone the angelic sort. This led me to think I really ought to finish the whisky I was indulgently savouring and find my charge, Hope Harper, when I was brought back to full consciousness by a purposeful cough.

My eyes darted upwards to the direction the interruption had come from. When I failed to locate the source, the noise sounded again. My receptive ears could tell I had almost pinpointed the origin, so aided by all of my senses, my eyes acting as a sonar machine scanned a small radius. And there, for the third time (Mr. Hart senior and the dark elf being one and two) in less than twenty-four hours I was confronted by the strangest sight; a very attractive creature stood the other side of my desk.

Her softly pointed chin only just reached the top of the gleaming wooden surface which reflected her sparkling green eyes. Her very pale complexion was emphasised by her pure white flowing hair which travelled down her back, well below her waist. Her ears, albeit tiny, were proportionality big for her elfin frame, and ended in fierce pointed tips. The white eagle wings I had grown so accustomed to seeing on the Archangels blessed this being in miniature, adding to her look of innocence which did not marry with the bow and sachet of arrows carried over her shoulder.

On closer inspection, although her outfit was very fetching, it was geared towards battle. It had a four tiered, silver armoured shoulder design which continued along to the collar into an attractive and yet practical pattern around the neck, and if I was not mistaken down the back. Edged with gold the silver armour merged with a breastplate, not unlike the colour of my own magenta cloak, that plummeted at the neckline. The striking red concealed her arms to just above elbow level where opera gloves in the same colour and material continued. It wasn’t until she moved towards my side of the desk that I saw she had a kilt very like the one A.M. wore, except it was in the same material and stylish magenta as her upper garment. This striking look was completed by very high, over the knee black boots.

‘Serena Olivia Unity Lewis, I am Ophelia, a light elf,’ she said before gracefully half curtsying to me. ‘Archangel Michael has sent me to you with the counsel and mediation leaflets from administration which Archangel Raguel promised you.’

Ophelia’s hands, which had only moments before been empty, suddenly held the long awaited leaflet version of the scrolls I had been given by Archangel Raguel. The leaflets magically left Ophelia, glided over to my non-dominate hand that still held the anti-stress ball, repetitively nudged my hand until I dropped the ball, at which point the bewitched fliers settled in my now empty left hand.

‘Thank you, Ophelia,’ I said as I cautiously reached to place the stack of leaflets on my desk next to my legs which were still comfortably resting there. Thankfully, the pamphlets didn’t seem to mind this new position as they remained motionless. ‘Archangel Michael did say he would arrange delivery for me. Can I get you a drink?’ I asked, holding up my own to indicate I meant something stronger than cranberry juice.

‘No, but thank you all the same. I am here to assist you in any way I can. The name God has chosen for me translates to mean “help” so it is in my nature to aid and support you.’

‘Thank you, Ophelia,’ I repeated. With the MI6 meeting still fresh in my mind I said, ‘What can you tell me about dark elves?’

‘The dark elves are my cousins. Regardless of our blood ties, we do not communicate for it is near impossible for the light of our kind to understand the dark, and I would say the same is true for the dark to comprehend the light.

‘There was a dark elf here in this building attempting to curse Archangel Michael’s work, but Archangel Michael’s might is legendry and too formidable to be affected by the power of Odile, the dark elf.

‘The same dark elf was present today; Odile came out of the painting with the older man, and then she followed the three younger dark dwellers.’

‘How do you know Odile was at MI6 today, Ophelia?’ I asked with a slightly urgent tone.

‘I was sent there by Archangel Michael to help you and give you the leaflets. It was not practical to do so until the men had left, but when I saw Odile I reconsidered and thought it was safer to wait until now,’ Ophelia obligingly answered. ‘But I did manage to take back the pamphlet Odile stole from you,’ Ophelia said as she produced my Big Issue, and then she added, possibly due to the horrified look on my face, ‘Do not fear for she did not see you there, Serena. Your invisibility privilege shielded you.’

Reassured, I asked far more calmly, ‘What was Odile doing at MI6?’

‘Dark deeds for she knows no better. Her kind has forgotten the love and mercy of God. My prayer is that one day Odile will find God again and return her dark hair and wings to the Devil in exchange for God’s Divine Light. I wish the same for all the dark elves.’

‘That is a good prayer, Ophelia, and one I shall support in my own conversations with God,’ I humbly replied.

‘Thank you, Serena. You are most gracious. Is there anything else I can do to serve you?’ Ophelia asked expectantly.

‘No, thank you, Ophelia.’

‘Then I shall go where I can be of help.’ She inclined her head and bobbed once again into a curtsey.

I was intrigued so asked, ‘Where is that, Ophelia?’

‘My kind observes the dark elves movements so we are prepared to go into battle when the time comes.’

‘Into battle! Is a battle likely, Ophelia?’ I asked with utmost surprise and concern.

‘Oh, it is not likely, it is certain, and if the prophecy is correct, the time for battle will soon be upon us all.’

With her last startling words she was gone as suddenly as she had appeared, without any fancy trickery, just as footsteps approached my office.

As the door handle was pushed downwards, I placed my glass on my desk, shoved the leaflets inside my deep pockets to ensure they weren’t visible to human eyes, and leapt off my chair so as not to be inadvertently sat on if the intruder dared to sit at my desk.

A smile crossed my lips when I saw the trespasser was Hope Harper, but was soon replaced by a curious look when she stood perfectly still in the doorway, except for her neck which moved to allow her eyes to scan the room.

Satisfied there was nothing amiss, she was seconds from closing the door when she forcefully pushed it open and locked her wide eyed stare on my whisky glass. She didn’t move a muscle for what seemed like several minutes (I’m sure it was more like seconds), as her intelligence tried to logically explain the appearance of the glass which still had a dram of whisky in. Deciding the glass needed a closer inspection, she let the door go leaving it to close loudly behind her.

Already on edge from her earlier meeting, she jumped and violently pirouetted around at the noise, grabbing my sapphire as she did so. Realising with great relief, which was evident by her face and body language, it was nothing more sinister than the door closing, she steadied herself and once more stepped towards the glass.

She used her sense of smell and sight to form clues to help her solve the whisky in the glass mystery, to no avail. Just as her heart rate neared normal once more, my office door opened to reveal Molly standing in the doorway.

‘Hope, what are you doing in Serena’s office?’

‘I could ask you the same question, Molly,’ Hope replied a little indignantly as Molly’s intrusion had made her jump yet again. Recovering her poise, to my horror Hope perched on my desk, purposely positioning her body to hide the whisky glass.

‘I’m Serena’s personal assistant, Hope, in case you had forgotten,’ Molly answered equally indignantly.

‘You were Serena’s personal assistant, Molly. Serena is dead, remember?’ Hope reminded Molly less than tactfully.

‘Yes, well,’ Molly’s resentment escalated as she retorted, ‘that doesn’t explain what you’re doing here, Hope?’

‘Nor you, Molly,’ Hope quickly fired her reply.

Sensing she wasn’t going to prise the truth from Hope, Molly changed tact and commented, ‘I see you’re wearing Serena’s sapphire, Hope.’

Hope touched the pendant in a way which was fast becoming habitual as she indirectly answered, in a far more pleasant tone than she had been using to address Molly, ‘I’ve been meaning to ask you more about your dream, Molly; the one where the angel appeared to you?’

‘Michael,’ Molly said as she stepped inside allowing my office door to bang shut.

I added to my mental note of office alterations – change door spring to a soft closing one.

‘Yes, Michael. He told you I needed “vital protection” if my memory serves me right?’

‘He actually said, “In God’s wisdom, He needs you to forgo your claim on Serena’s amulet and allow Hope to have its vital protection,”’ Molly recited, also in a more agreeable manner.

‘Hmm . . . he said something similar to me,’ Hope absent-mindedly informed Molly.

I think I was as flabbergasted as Molly was to learn A.M. had visited Hope, but thankfully I managed to bite my tongue before I expressed by surprise.

Molly, however, screeched excitedly, ‘Michael appeared to you in a dream too?’

‘Yes, last night. He said, “In God’s wisdom, He needs you to wear Serena’s amulet for its vital protection until the dark forces have been expelled.”’

‘What dark forces?’ Molly asked with a mixture of intrigue and nervousness.

‘I don’t know. Michael told me to wear Serena’s amulet always. I’m never to take it off,’ Hope’s tone rose as she finished her sentence.

‘Curious,’ Molly simply replied with a change of facial expression that suggested her fascination with the unusual was fast outweighing her apprehension.

‘I’m glad you think so. I on the other hand am quite concerned, what with “dark forces” chasing after me,’ Hope said with audible anxiety.

‘I wouldn’t worry, Hope,’ Molly casually responded.

In contrast to Molly’s relaxed manner, Hope’s pitch soared as she answered back, ‘That’s easy for you to say, Molly, when you’re not the one the “dark forces” are after.’

‘Hope, what you’re forgetting here, or possibly missing completely, is God and His angels are involved. Do you really think the dark side can hurt you with God’s protection?’ Molly reasoned.

Hope considered what Molly had just said and sincerely replied, ‘You’re right, of course. Still I can’t help but be a little freaked.’

‘Or, you could look at it as a blessing,’ Molly stated still using her causal tone.

‘“A blessing!”’ Hope nearly shouted. ‘How do you figure that out, Molly?’

Undeterred at Hope’s sudden lapse of decorum, Molly answered, ‘God sent His angel Michael to not just you, but to me too, all in an effort to keep you safe. Doesn’t that make you feel special? Surely you feel God’s love for you?’

Hope was not about to confess to Molly that she already felt “special” due to the gift of clairvoyancy God bestowed on her at birth. Firstly, she never told anyone, except her parents and Her Majesty’s law enforcement agencies, and secondly, she was convinced if she did take Molly into her confidence, Molly would rejoice and suggest a séance using an Ouija board to speak with me, or some other similar strange endeavour which Hope had no intention of being party to.

‘You’re of course right, Molly, and I thank you for reminding me.’

‘That’s perfectly alright, Hope. I will leave you to whatever you were up to.’

Molly surmised after all Hope had been through with my amulet and a visit from A.M., she probably felt my office was the best place to ponder her situation, so she deliberately closed my office door and left Hope to her thoughts.

I on the other hand had decided I was tired of all the cloak and dagger performances, and I confess I was starting to feel lonely after A.M.’s departure some hours before. So remembering what A.M. had told me about intention and staying invisible verses being visible, I willed myself to become visible to Hope, figuring if anyone was going to see me it would be a psychic.

I was standing in the corner diagonally opposite my office door. Hope, who was still sitting on my desk and thus had her back to me, had her head bowed in concentration. Employing Ophelia’s tactic I cleared my throat, and in doing so I nearly frightened my charge to death.

Hope let out an almighty scream which by rights ought to have alerted the entire Metropolitan Police. Miraculously though, no one came running to her rescue, not even Molly.

She dived off my desk, grabbed my amulet and whirled around to look directly at me. The sheer horror on her face rendered her unrecognisable.

After a momentary pause she gasped, ‘YOU! Oh no, not you.’ She sighed and then shaking her head from side to side she said, ‘I refuse to let this happen. If I just tell you to go, when I open my eyes you won’t be here anymore. You’re just a hallucination,’ Hope declared more calmly as she convinced herself she could banish me. As she tightly shut her eyes she screamed, ‘GO,’ before hesitantly opening them again.

‘Hope, you’re not hallucinating,’ I said mischievously.

‘I must be. This can’t be happening. I must be having some kind of mental breakdown,’ Hope mumbled almost to herself.

‘Why would you think that? You speak to ghosts. Why then is it such a surprise you can see and speak with me?’

‘How do you know I can speak to spirits?’ Hope demanded with a mix of anxiety and contempt in her voice.

‘Ah, well . . .’

I had done it now. I had made a promise to God and I had gone and broken it. He said “all may be lost” if I uttered a single syllable to another; but did Hope count? Surely not, as the confidence concerned Hope, I reasoned.

‘I . . . well, I can’t really divulge my source so can we leave it at fundamentals, please? I know you can speak to spirits. I’m a spirit (well technically I’m not),’ I whispered to myself, ‘so it’s no surprise you can see me, is it?’

She thought on what I had said and answered most hurtfully, ‘I don’t wish to see you. GO AWAY,’ she cried.

At a loss what to say to her next, I whipped out my angel cards and looked for the angel of communication. No sooner I had the thought the cards whirled magical and flipped Archangel Gabriel to the front of the pile. His name sparkled in gold letters above the phrase ‘clear communication’ which pulsated like a heartbeat. Fortuitously, Archangel Gabriel had been at my life review. The fact I had already met him made asking him for help considerably less daunting.

In audio range of Hope, who had turned her back on me again, I said, ‘Archangel Gabriel, please assist me in my skills of communication with Hope Harper.’

The mention of angels in the same sentence as her name made Hope fly round to face me, just as Archangel Gabriel turned up in a shimmering golden light which matched that of his card.

‘Hello, Serena. How lovely to see you again,’ Archangel Gabriel addressed me. With the pleasantries out of the way he advised, ‘You must speak from your heart. There is still much to heal between you and the soul who is currently incarnated as Hope Harper. For her to trust you, you must put love into your words as you speak the truth. If that fails, read her the counsel scroll that Ophelia delivered.’

And with that Archangel Gabriel vanished leaving me to call after him, ‘Thank you, Archangel Gabriel.’

Hope was staring at the space Archangel Gabriel had occupied just moments before with a frozen expression etched into her delicate features.

‘Did you hear and see the angel?’ I asked her.

She struggled to answer me. Finally, thawing herself out she managed to stutter, ‘An angel was here in your office?’

‘Yes, Hope. That was Archangel Gabriel. He wishes for us to communicate honestly with each other. Can you do that?’

She took a while to answer me, leaving me to employ the patience I had been working on, courtesy of God, but eventually she said in a near back to normal voice, ‘OK, if I accept everything you’ve said, tell me, why have you come back after crossing over to haunt me?’

‘I’m not here to haunt you, Hope.’

‘Then why are you here?’

‘Err . . . To talk to you about Rupert,’ I half lied, although I told myself it was for the greater good so God would forgive me.

Chapter Sixteen

The Karmic Debt

 

‘I knew it. Even in death you cannot leave us alone,’ Hope screamed in exasperation. ‘I know it’s because of our karmic ties, but I thought . . . I hoped in death that would be an end to your meddling. How foolish I was. I ought to have realised if we didn’t settle this matter in this life it would continue to plague us, as it has done so for many centuries, until we have balanced karma. However, I didn’t actually think you would stoop so low as to haunt me!’

I stood silent, shocked by the revelation that Hope knew we had karmic debt to repay which somehow linked us to each other, and until we did clear the amount outstanding we would be bound together for all of eternity.

I thought back to my audience with the Lords of Karma. They hadn’t exactly given me any clues as to why Hope and I were chained to each other in this karmic nightmare. I wondered whether Hope knew.

‘Was that you at MI6?’

Hope’s question jolted me back to the present.

‘I felt a presence,’ she explained. When I didn’t hurry to answer her she repeated, ‘Was that you?

‘Err . . . if you really must know, yes, it was, and I’ve already said, I’m not here to haunt you so quit saying I am,’ I snapped.

She didn’t look convinced as she demanded, ‘What were you doing at MI6?’

I carefully thought before I answered as starting every sentence with “Err” wasn’t convincing and was terribly unprofessional, as too was snapping at the soul God had placed in my protection.

‘I was following you.’

‘Following me!’ She looked worried. ‘Why follow me if you don’t wish to haunt me?’

‘I wanted to speak with you, and I’ve been following you waiting for the best opportunity to do just that. It hardly seemed appropriate to interrupt your meeting at MI6 to chat about old times,’ I said flippantly before silently reprimanding myself for another show of amateur behaviour.

‘No, I would suggest it would have been most inappropriate.’

‘Exactly,’ I sighed. ‘I’m glad we at last agreed on something.’

‘Did you hear what MI6 wish me to do?’

‘Yes,’ I shamefully admitted, adding quickly, ‘I didn’t intend to. It’s just it was a little difficult not to overhear.’

‘I often do jobs for the police,’ she said seemingly unconcerned at my snooping.

‘I know,’ I muttered.

‘And I’ve worked for MI6 in the past. This job feels different though,’ she finished with an air of unease.

‘It is. You’re looking for someone who wants to stay hidden.’ I then said in a whisper, ‘And God also wants him to stay missing.’ Reverting to my normal pitch I added, ‘Usually, you locate people who are desperate to be found.’

‘Apart from the obvious, it’s different,’ Hope answered me without any visible sign of irritation, but her choice of words and the slight undertone to her voice made me see I had underestimated Hope Harper, who wasn’t such a push over after all.

‘It’s this misjudgement of character that lost you Rupert in the first place,’ a little voice deep inside of me expressed its opinion inaudibly.

Hope continued, ‘And, I get the distinct impression the British Secret Service is not being honest with me. I’ve had no communication with spirit concerning the man Ryan Joshua Scott, which has never happened before. Normally spirits are lining up to give me information. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming and I have to ask them, very politely as they can be a tad sensitive, to form an orderly queue and speak one at a time.’ As Hope finished, she sat down on one of my leather sofas which would be replaced along with its matching partner once I was back to at least equal, if not exceed, the size and comfort of the one in Harry Goodwin’s office.

‘So just tell MI6 you can’t help them. I know losing the CIA bonus will be a sting . . .’

‘You looked over my shoulder to see the figure the CIA is offering,’ she stated accusingly. ‘Of course, that’s why I shuddered.’ She temporarily looked pleased at her deduction before she changed her expression to one of annoyance as she reprimanded me, ‘You really ought to mind your own business; in particular when it comes to other people’s financial affairs.’

I ignored her tantrum and continued, ‘If it doesn’t feel right to hunt down Ryan Joshua Scott, and you’re not receiving any messages from spirit, you will just have to tell MI6 you can’t help them.’

‘Wait a minute; you’re spirit. Can’t you help?’ Hope asked excitedly as she saw a solution to her problem.

‘I haven’t got the faintest idea where the supposed rogue agent is, so no, I can’t help.’

‘Then can you ask the other spirits to help me like they normally do?’

I thought it was amusing that Hope was appealing to my better nature, but far from laughing at her suggestion I kindly answered, ‘It doesn’t work like that, Hope. You have to ask them.’

‘I have and it’s like a brick wall has been very quickly built with steel lining to prevent any information leakages.’

I considered what she’d just said and thought it quite humorous that Hope was nearer to the truth than she could possibly imagine. God didn’t want Ryan Joshua Scott found. So unless Ryan’s free will changed and he suddenly wanted MI6 to capture him, which I very much doubted would happen, he was going to continue to elude the authorities.

Condensing this information to make it Hope friendly, I said, ‘Perhaps your hypothetical brick wall is spirits way of telling you this is one case you should decline.’

It was her turn to consider my words. After a moment’s pause she surprised me by saying, ‘You know, Serena, this may be one of those rare occasions where we actually agree. I wish it was as simplistic though.’

‘Hope, it’s only complicated if you allow it to be.’

‘You don’t understand, Serena. I get the distinct impression Her Majesty’s Secret Service will not allow me to refuse this case under any circumstance.’ She had anxiety in her voice as she spoke, and for a moment I almost felt sorry for her; that was until I remembered Rupert.

‘Hope, what did you mean when you said we needed to settle our karmic debt once and for all, otherwise we would continue to be haunted by it?’

She walked over to my drinks cabinet.

‘Do you mind if I help myself?’ she asked already holding my decanter of whisky.

‘Go ahead,’ I said as I grabbed my glass from my desk and settled myself on the sofa opposite to where Hope had been sitting.

When she resumed her position she took a large gulp, braced herself and then began.

‘Do you believe in reincarnation, Serena?’

I wasn’t sure I did pre my ‘heaven experience’. Now, after all I had witnessed I thought anything was possible.

‘Yes, I think I probably do,’ I answered her.

She looked at me as if weighing up whether she dared continue. As she dropped her eyes and took a deep breath she quickly launched into her story, as if she were afraid she wouldn’t if she delayed it any longer.

‘In a past life a very long time ago I had an elder brother who I adored.’

‘How do you know this?’ I challenged.

‘Please don’t interrupt, Serena. This is difficult enough as it is.’

Feeling chastised, I took a sip of my whisky and silently listened.

‘We were a wealthy family of good standing in the community. However, times were challenging and no family could afford to become complacent. So to strengthen our position further, my father arranged a marriage of convenience between my brother and a nobleman’s daughter.

‘My brother was naturally reluctant to hurt our family. But still he refused to enter into the arranged marriage as he was already in love with another. Sadly, his love was unsuitable, as even though her family had immense wealth their religious beliefs contradicted our own so an alliance was unthinkable. My brother and his love wouldn’t be separated, not even for God, so they ran away and married in secret.

‘I sympathised with my brother as I also had a love, but unlike my sibling I was blessed, or so I thought, since he was from a family most acceptable. My brother’s act of betrayal ruined our happy family; my father disowned his only son, and in an attempt to make amends for the insult my brother had shown the nobleman’s daughter, he forbid me to see my love ever again and married me to the nobleman’s youngest and most stupid son.

‘My love, unable to live without me, took his life. The dagger he used may as well have pierced my heart as I died metaphorically speaking when I lost my love.

‘Destined to an unhappy existence, I made an additional vow to my wedding ones which sealed yours and mine fate, Serena, and has lead to the karmic imbalance we are now faced with.’ She paused, drained her whisky glass and took another exceptionally deep breath. ‘I vowed my brother’s love’s misery would equal mine in her next life. You were my brother’s love, Serena.’

I sat statue like, but my brain far from being marble processed the story Hope had just shared with me. Hope stayed silent, aware I needed time to examine the facts. Still without saying a word I eventually stood, retrieved my whisky decanter and replenished both our glasses.

Placing the decanter on the coffee table separating us, I asked in a monotone voice, ‘What happened next?’

‘In our next life you and my brother found each other again, as you truly are soul mates. In this life I was not related to my brother of old, so I schemed and I plotted to steal him away from you so you would know the pain I endured.

‘Your love was strong so he resisted my efforts until I enchanted him with the help of a powerful sorceress. Under the spell he abandoned you and proclaimed his love for me. You knew black magic was at work so you searched the land for a wizard more powerful than the sorceress, but your attempts to break the curse were in vain. As you lay dying, alone and destitute, you promised to avenge the love you had stolen from you; and you did, most successfully.

‘I was destitute in the life after this and was saved from a life of hardship by our mutual love; that was until you came along. One look at you and no spell or potion was necessary; my love deserted me for you and I lived a life of karmic retribution for my use of dark magic before.

‘Again I cursed you and the tale goes on from incarnation to incarnation; I curse you and then you curse me. Even in the life I’m living now and the life you’ve just left behind, we have played our game. Evidently it was my turn to triumph. You see if you haven’t already guessed, Rupert was my brother when the karma between us was first unsettled, and unless we resolve our differences now our pattern will proceed into our next life and so on until we agree to use love to dissolve our hatred.

‘Hatred caused this karmic feud which Rupert is inadvertently caught up in. Love can disperse it for now and eternity. I for one am tired of playing this game, and I’m more than willing to call a truce. If we both agree, our karmic debt can be repaid in full and then there will be no need for our paths to cross again.’ Hope looked at me expectantly, the exhaustion on her face from relaying the drama evident.

‘How do you know all of this, Hope?’ I repeated the question I had asked at the offset, determined to get a satisfactory answer this time.

Hope weighed up my reaction as she carefully planned her answer.

‘I’m a psychic, as you rightfully said at the start. As a result, certain privileges are presented to me by spirit; one of which was an insight into my karma. When I understood the detriment the karmic debt I’ve amounted is causing the three of us, and anyone else who innocently gets tangled up in our lives . . .’

‘Such as your husband,’ I snidely commented.

‘Yes, now you come to mention him, my husband has been a casualty of our karma, and there have been many more victims over the centuries,’ she sincerely replied. ‘Now, as I was trying to say; I visited a therapist who specialises in past life regression. She helped me piece the story together so I could put an end to the darkness that can consume us if we do nothing. To do that though, to finally end our rivalry I need your consent, Serena. I can’t do it alone.’

‘Of course you can. We are all responsible for our own actions, Hope. If you decide not to keep stealing Rupert away from me, then all of this can stop now. By the way, what did you give him this time to get him to leave me?’

Her look was one of despondency. She sighed and said with an air of frustration, ‘First off, Serena, the karmic debt can’t be wiped clean unless we both consent to a peace agreement. And secondly, while I readily admit I did have Rupert enchanted many millenniums ago; I did nothing of the sort in this life time.’

‘Are you sure about that?’ I goaded her.

‘Serena, where do you suggest I found a sorceress in the twenty-first century to perform a spell to enable me to persuade Rupert to leave you?’

‘I’m sure black magic still exists, even in the highly technological world of today, and I’m in no doubt you’re resourceful enough to trace this old knowledge if you truly desired to.’

‘Well I didn’t.’

I looked at her suspiciously.

‘I didn’t,’ she repeated. ‘If you want to know my opinion; I believe Rupert left you for me because you’re, I mean you were already married to your career, Serena.’

Disgruntled by Hope’s truthful words I snapped, ‘No, I am . . . was not,’ I corrected myself; and then thought better of it and silently affirmed, ‘No, I’m not married to my career.’

‘Serena, it’s the only reason that makes sense. You and Rupert are soul mates. Believe me, I should know after spending eons witnessing your love. The only time Rupert has truly favoured me is when you’ve pushed him away.

‘Incarnated as the soul, Serena Lewis, you were very career minded. Goodness, my father even commented on the fact you were terribly young to make junior partner. He attributed your success to your drive and dedication which he said was second to none. That commitment comes at a price, Serena, and the price you paid was to lose Rupert.’

I deliberated all Hope had said.

‘That must have hurt you, Hope. To admit Rupert loves me more than you, was very brave.’

‘It doesn’t hurt half as much as the pointless game we’ve been playing. I take full responsibility for starting it. I appreciate you didn’t plan to fall in love with my brother to hurt anyone, and if you had both relinquished your love then you would have been miserable instead of me.

‘At the Spiritual University I attend I’m taught nothing is more important than the peace and happiness of my soul. This truth is so for all of us. By following our dreams we may inadvertently hurt others, whereas to appease them at our expense is to destroy our soul, even if it’s only a piece. This doesn’t give us an excuse to blatantly hurt another; yet we must protect our own soul at all costs.’

We both fell silent which gave me a chance to reflect on Hope’s words. Firstly, Rupert loved me more than he ever loved her. Secondly, I was career orientated to the detriment of my happiness. Thirdly, nothing was more important than my happiness. I nodded, pleased at my succinct account of our dialogue.

‘Do we have an armistice?’ Hope asked with anticipation.

‘It’s easy for you to talk about forgiving and forgetting. You’re very much alive and I, well I’m not, so you know I can’t cause anymore problems for you leaving you and Rupert to live a happy life together.’

I stated the obvious for Hope, despite the fact I was far from telling her the truth; that my death was temporary and God would return me to have my pick of eligible men.

‘Serena, you could cause more trouble for me than you know.’

‘What makes you say that?’

‘You’re a ghost and I can see, hear, and talk to ghosts. Rupert doesn’t know this, and nor do I want him to. If you haunt me my life would be hell.’

‘Now, there’s an idea,’ I said wickedly. I added, ‘I’m joking, Hope. My goodness get a sense of humour,’ when I saw the horror struck look on her face.

‘So do you agree to a ceasefire, Serena?’

I contemplated her offer. I was being a little unfair playing the ‘I’m deceased’ card. I wasn’t dead, and soon I would be very much alive and hopefully still armed with the knowledge Rupert loves me more than Hope.

Logic suggested to me if I adjusted my work/social life balance, naturally in favour of my social calendar, and I focused on love and happiness as suggested by the Archangels, then Rupert would leave Hope and come back to me.

I finished my second glass of whisky, placed my tumbler on the coaster on the coffee table and said, ‘All I can agree to at this stage is to help you with your fix at MI6. Once we’ve settled this secret service assumed national crisis; then we can review our karma.’

Judging by the astonishment on her face I guessed this wasn’t the answer she’d expected.

‘You will help me?’ she asked noticeably shocked.

‘Yes. Perhaps not in the way you would wish me to, but I promise you it’s what God wants.’

‘How do you know?’ She had dropped the shock look to replace it with one of intrigue. ‘Did Michael the angel tell you?’

‘Something along those lines.’ I wasn’t sure my sketchy answer would suffice. However, just as I finished speaking Hope’s mobile rang startling both of us, and pardoning me from the need to explain further.

She looked at the caller’s identity, flinched, and then took the call.

‘Caldwell. Good to hear from you so soon,’ she cringed with her blatant lie. ‘Have you managed to arrange for me to speak with Ryan Joshua Scott’s family?’

I silently asked Archangel Gabriel to amplify Caldwell’s voice so I could hear his reply, as I reminded the Archangel of Communication I was on God’s business. The loving Messenger of God didn’t disappoint me.

‘Hope, there have been some new developments. Intelligence reports Scott to be in New York. The Prime Minister wants you to fly out there immediately. On his command I’ve booked us on the first available flight. It leaves from Northolt Airport at twenty-three hundred hours this evening. I will send a car for you at twenty-one hundred hours.’

‘The Prime Minster wants me to go to New York?’ Hope asked somewhat shocked.

‘Yes,’ Caldwell calmly replied.

‘I can’t go. There’s my job to consider, and what will my boyfriend say?’

‘I will take care of everything. Your country is depending on you, Hope,’ and with this last emotional blackmail comment, Caldwell rang off.

Hope was understandably in a fluster. With her hands cradling her flushed cheeks she frantically asked me, ‘What am I going to do, Serena?’

‘It looks like we’re going to New York, Hope,’ I answered her; unsurprisingly, it did nothing to wipe the stunned look off her face. ‘In the meantime I have some snooping to do.’

As I stood, one of the counselling leaflets fell out of my cloak. When I bent down to retrieve the attractive, laminated sheet, an overwhelming sense to give it to Hope overcame me.

Guessing she was the “colleague in crisis” that Archangel Raguel had told me would need counselling, and remembering Archangel Gabriel suggested I may need the scroll to help Hope, I instinctively shoved the leaflet into her hand as I said, ‘Here, you may find this useful.’

‘What is it?’ she asked.

‘Just read it, Hope.’

‘Serena, you must read it to her,’ Archangel Raguel’s voice instructed me.

‘Did you hear that?’ I asked Hope, unsure whether Archangel Raguel’s voice had been for my ears only.

‘Hear what?’

‘Never mind.’ I pulled out the master copy of the scroll, unravelled it, cleared my throat and said, ‘Hope, please pay attention as God wants you to hear this.’

Before she had a chance to reply, I read, ‘“God, the Creator of all that is, all that has ever been before, and all that will ever be, loves you, Hope Harper. You are a holy child of God, Hope Harper, and as such you have power beyond measure. You do not have to remain in this place powerless. You can choose now to leave this unhealthy situation and live the type of life you deserve. A life so full of magic and miracles, it will take your breath away. God promises you if you allow Him, He will heal your world. But even if you turn your back on Him, He will never forsake you, for you are His most precious creation ever, Hope Harper.”’

Chapter Seventeen

The Letter

 

It took me a while to calm Hope. She was spooked at the counselling leaflet which I thought was meant to help her, and she was most apprehensive about flying to New York and leaving Rupert who didn’t have an inkling about her double life. She felt sure Caldwell would attribute her absence to an urgent work trip, which was actually fairly accurate, and her father, who was one of only two civilians who knew about Hope’s gift (the other being Hope’s mother), would comply with MI6’s story. So Hope had no fear where Collins, Harper, and Jones Solicitors were concerned. However, she was very troubled Rupert would feel a case of déjà vu. After all, according to Hope, Rupert had already left married-to-the-job me.

I tried to reassure her. Quite honestly though, my heart just wasn’t in it, as comforting one’s engagement ring clad love rival for the benefit of saving said adversary’s relationship, seemed completely unprincipled. If I was trialled in God’s court or hauled over for my decision in my ultimate life review, I would make my case on the foundation I was truthful and exercising moral values, and any action to the contrary would be countable as a sin.

Leaving Hope with the counselling leaflet that I asked her to deliberate, and my decanter of whisky which she liberally poured into her glass, possibly in the hope she would be deemed too inebriated to fly, I orbed back to MI6.

I wanted to have a good look at Ryan Joshua Scott’s file. I didn’t believe he was a rogue agent, otherwise why would God want to conceal him? So this implied he was being framed. If I was going to finish my assignment and protect Hope, it seemed to me I was also going to have to prove Ryan Joshua Scott’s innocence. That was something I was exceptionally proficient at after years’ of dedicated practice. But, it also meant I was going to have to apprehend the actual infiltrator. That was something I was less accomplished at. Yet even though I appreciated it was going to be one steep learning curve, I was very willing to learn. With no other leads I reasoned Ryan Joshua Scott’s service file was as good a place to start as any.

When I arrived at MI6 I was disappointed the light which had led me to Hope was absent again. Far from defeated I called upon Archangel Chamuel, the angel who sees everything from his lofty position which puts him well placed to find humans and objects alike. When he didn’t respond I remembered A.M.’s hesitancy to orb into the British Secret Service, so I called again this time from outside MI6’s walls. Immediately, a pale green sphere floated down to me before revealing Archangel Chamuel, who I recognised from both his hologram and angel card.

‘Good evening, Serena Olivia Unity Lewis, I am Archangel Chamuel. I am very pleased to have the privilege to meet you. You require my help locating Ryan Joshua Scott’s MI6 service file,’ he stated.

‘Yes, please, Archangel Chamuel. Any help you can offer me will be greatly appreciated.’

‘Hold pure intention to orb to Pandora Blacks’s office and you will find that which you seek.’ Immediately Archangel Chamuel had given me my answer, he vanished, just as Archangel Gabriel had done.

‘Thank you, Archangel Chamuel,’ I called up to heaven. ‘I wish you would all stop vanishing as soon as you’ve answered me and give me the opportunity to thank you in person though,’ I added much more quietly.

The sun had long set. Consequently, the light was fast fading from the clear sky which promised a treacherously cold night as I vanished in a magenta glow from outside the impressive building to Pandora Black’s office.

It was relatively box sized compared to the standard Collins, Harper, and Jones Solicitors offered. The lights were off, her computer was on sleep mode, and the heating had gone cold; all clues suggesting Pandora had gone home for the night leaving me to locate Ryan Joshua Scott’s file without interruption. But maddeningly her steal grey cabinets were locked, and there was no sign of the keys.

I tried to think what angel could help me. At a loss who was best to call upon when a lock needed picking, I asked A.M. for help. Naturally, he didn’t show, but he’d promised I would receive the help I needed, and sure enough a moment after asking I heard a faint noise which sounded like a lock was being tampered with.

Visions of God’s court with the leprechauns versus the dragons came to my mind as I satisfied myself the image before me was definitely a leprechaun picking the locked filing cabinet.

I remembered A.M. telling me; “leprechauns are notoriously mischievous, so you would do well to leave them alone.” Nonetheless, I considered politeness important. And after all the leprechaun had materialised to help me, so I said a feeble, ‘Hello.’

When he didn’t answer I tried again. ‘I say, I said “hello.”’ My voice was sturdier this time.

‘I know what you said. I’m not deaf,’ the little man with the funny hat he had pushed back to aid his vision replied.

‘Then why didn’t you answer me the first time?’ I asked confused and a little offended.

‘Just because I get cajoled into using my expertise in this degrading of mundane tasks by the Archangel who is known as, He who is like God, doesn’t mean I have to like it and doesn’t mean I have to speak to you,’ he answered. ‘I should be making shoes not picking locks,’ he moaned.

‘It may help if you take your hat off,’ I offered in an attempt to help.

‘TAKE MY HAT OFF!’ The little man shouted in outrage. ‘I’ve a good mind to leave you, Damsel in Distress, for suggesting the ultimate rudeness that I, an honourable Leprechaun, remove my hat!’

‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to insult you. I was trying to help, not upset you. I’m very grateful for your help,’ I desperately added aware A.M. may not be impressed if I sabotaged the assistance he’d sent me.

Thankfully, at that moment the lock decided to comply.

‘Thank you,’ I graciously said.

The leprechaun snarled as he gathered up his tools, the whole time muttering how Archangel Michael had abused his position. Finally, he grunted at me and vanished.

‘Thank you, A.M.,’ I quietly said. ‘Mercifully the leprechaun wasn’t at all mischievous; just exceedingly grumpy. Nevertheless, I very much appreciate the assistance, and I trust this means God wants me to view Ryan Joshua Scott’s secret service record.’

As I finished my sentence the bottom from last filing cabinet draw gently rolled open to reveal a beige file standing proud of the others. I bent down and read: Ryan Joshua Scott.

I sat down in Pandora’s ordinary, armless, black office chair, and placed Ryan Joshua Scott’s file on her cheaply lacquered wooden desk. As I flicked through the pages I learnt Ryan had been a decorated Royal Marine before being recruited by MI6, and had enjoyed several years’ exemplary service since joining Her Majesties Secret Service.

His parents had died many years’ before the start of his prestigious career, in a road traffic accident which left Ryan an only child. Other male family members had also met untimely deaths; his father’s brother, also a military man, had been gunned down during active service leaving a wife and two young twin sons; just before the twins turned twenty-one, they had been mowed down by a drunk driver who was never apprehended. Single with no significant other-half, Ryan Joshua Scott seemed light on family and friends.

As I scanned his file, nothing of notable interest stood out at me until the last entry I examined which stated; Ryan Joshua Scott was being charged with acting as a double agent on the strength of a statement submitted by Fagan Hart. Fagan claimed he had indisputable evidence which he’d submitted to the chief of MI6, Sir Anthony Rawlings, accusing Ryan of selling British intelligence to the highest bidder. The charge also alleged Ryan had unidentified co-conspirators in MI5 and the Metropolitan Police, which explained Cain and Caldwell Harts’ involvement and warranted his supposed crime to be classified as a high level security breach, the likes the British Secret Service hadn’t known before.

As I came to the end of the accusation, I noticed another document I would have sworn under oath hadn’t been in the file a minute earlier. When I looked more closely, to my utter astonishment it was a letter addressed to me from God. It read:

 

My Dear Serena

As I AM sure you have deduced; Ryan Joshua Scott is innocent. Your assignment is to save My light worker Hope Harper. However, to save Hope you also have to save Ryan by clearing his name with the fine legal mind I have blessed you with.

Hope will be leaving for New York in the next couple of hours. It is not practical for you to be on the same flight as Hope nor, as Archangel Michael explained, can you orb intercontinentally. Thus, I have made separate arrangements for your mode of transport. When you have finished at MI6, please proceed to your retreat where you are to meet your contact, a most loyal subject of great nobility.

Promise Me, your loving Father, you will not become complacent, for without your help Hope is in grave danger, even with the protection of your amulet, and My beautiful soul Ryan Joshua Scott will only be vindicated through you.

You honour Me, Serena, as you petition for justice in the world of the relative as one of My beloved honorary angels.

I have loved you and will continue to love you always

Your, Father God x x x x

 

God had said, “One of My beloved honorary angels.” I wondered how many other poor souls He had recruited over the eons, and even more curiously; who was the noble contact I was to rendezvous with at my square?

I was rereading my letter and contemplating who in heaven could be my travel advisor, when the letter disintegrated to nothing before my very eyes. As I cast my vision upwards, the reason all traces of my assignment details had disappeared became apparent; standing by the open filing cabinet was Odile, the dark elf.

From the light of the corridor I could distinguish Odile’s appearance for the first time now she wasn’t lurking in the shadows. It was uncannily similar to Ophelia’s, apart from the fact she had: black ‘eagle’ wings; long coal black hair; and even her eyes, which were piercing and sinister, seemed to be a charcoal colour.

Odile’s body armour had the look of black, highly polished onyx. The shoulders were layered, although instead of being curved as Ophelia’s were, they were jagged and menacing; the same was true of her elbow high gloves. Her one piece body plate was cut away at the sides to emphasis her slim waist, and continued the jagged theme with three sharp points protruding downwards from her breastbone. A triangular style skirt, both front and back, stopped a good portion before it met her over the knee, high heeled black boots which exposed her well toned thighs. Technology was advanced on the dark side; as far from favouring the bow and arrow, Odile had a state of the art crossbow at her side, naturally in her preferred colour of black.

‘Pandora would be very interested to know you’re ransacking her office, Serena Olivia Unity Lewis,’ Odile’s disturbingly sweet voice threatened.

‘Hello, Odile. We finally get to speak to one another.’

The fact I knew her name visibly threw her, until she made the connection and replied, ‘Ah, you’ve been speaking with Ophelia. How is my virtuous cousin?’

‘You can ask her for yourself,’ I answered, seeing Ophelia had just appeared directly behind Odile.

Odile followed the gaze of my eyes as she spun around, simultaneously seizing her crossbow. Still, she was no match for Ophelia who with lightening speed had drawn her bow and arrow.

With the arrow point dangerously near to Odile’s throat, Ophelia commanded, ‘Put the crossbow down, Odile.’

‘Hello, Ophelia,’ Odile said as she locked eyes with her cousin. ‘I didn’t think we were on talking terms. I’m very glad we are. Have you finally come to your senses; leave the self righteous brigade and join me?’ she offered in the same sickly sweet voice she used to try and intimidate me.

‘I will not warn you again, Odile; put the crossbow on the floor.’

‘Or you will do what exactly; kill me perhaps?’ Odile taunted Ophelia, obviously confident her own flesh and blood wouldn’t dare to harm her.

‘If necessary, Odile, that is exactly what I will do,’ Ophelia coolly answered.

‘WHAT! You would maim or mortally wound me, your own kin?’ Odile genuinely sounded shocked.

‘Yes, just as you would not flinch if you were the one holding your weapon to my throat. If it has not escaped your notice, Odile, we are at war. The dark side is deluded in its belief it can overpower good and spread its evil throughout God’s Cosmos. Lucifer will never reign, for the Alpha is too mighty. It is only due to God’s good grace and His mercy that Satan has not been banished to the abyss.’

‘You talk a good talk, Ophelia, but would you really have the courage to kill me, your mother’s sister’s daughter?’‘OK, that’s quite enough,’ I intervened. ‘Odile, put your crossbow down now, otherwise Ophelia will indeed kill you with my full blessing; and I’m working on God’s direct orders so don’t think He will intercede and save you,’ I said sternly as I produced my silver star.

The number 444 flashed before the dark elf. Although it didn’t physically touch her, she recoiled in its presence.

Enjoying my authority I added, ‘And as for Lucifer, I would be wholly surprised if he popped up to Pandora’s office, risking an arrow at Ophelia’s hand to rescue you, a dark elf.’

Both of the elves looked stunned at my outburst, which had the desired effect. With Odile disarmed, Ophelia magically produced bounds to tie her up and gagged her before literally throwing her in Pandora’s boxy stationary cupboard. There were a few muffled screams from the dark elf before Ophelia used the ancient magic which was her birth right to silence her.

‘I have spellbound her chains so she cannot escape, and she cannot scream to alert anyone of her need for help until you have safely arrived in New York,’ Ophelia reassured me. ‘I have used a very old spell my mother taught me, and I daresay her mother showed her, to prevent Odile telling anyone we were here or that you looked at Ryan Joshua Scott’s service record. Have you finished?’ Ophelia nodded towards the beige folder on Pandora’s desk. ‘Yes, I’ve learned all I can from the document,’ I answered.

Without speaking or moving, Ophelia instructed the file to neatly place itself back in its slot among the other sleeves. Obediently, the cabinet then proceeded to close and lock itself so there were no traces of it ever being tampered with.

‘Ophelia, how did Odile detect my presence tonight when before she was unaware I was in the same room as her?’

‘I can only assume, Serena, and I feel I am by some measure to blame, so I humbly ask for your forgiveness.’ Ophelia cast her eyes down towards the shabby tiles that carpeted Pandora’s office as she made her confession. ‘I believe when I retrieved your pamphlet from Odile, she sensed all was not as it seemed and uncovered the truth by means of a counter concealment spell.’

I pondered the ramifications of Ophelia’s assumption before asking with a tone of urgency, ‘Do you think Odile has told the Harts I was at MI6, Ophelia?’

‘No. Odile would want glorification which merely stating your being here would not give her. She planned to capture you and then she would have given you to the evil-doers for interrogation.’

‘Would she have been able to detain me? Surely I could have orbed out of harm’s way,’ I stated uncertainly.

‘Odile would have conjured old magic to restrain you. However, her weakness is that she underestimates God, deeming Lucifer to be superior. This inaccurate supposition will be her downfall, for there is no one greater than the Almighty who would have sent Archangel Michael to your rescue.’

I was stunned into silence.

As I deliberated my fallibility, even as God’s Heavenly Secret Agent, Ophelia assured me, ‘I have dealt with Odile, Serena, so please do not concern yourself. She will not disclose your existence, because she cannot due to the spells I have preformed.’

I thanked Ophelia, who at least stayed to receive my gratitude for her assistance unlike the Archangels, before she disappeared. Satisfied I was a step closer to completing my assignment and recovering my life, I set off to rendezvous with God’s contact at my haven.

Chapter Eighteen

The Flight

 

Giorgio’s Coffee House was closed when I arrived at my square, and so too were the four gates leading from the relatively busy streets into my oasis.

The sun had left the scene leaving A.M.’s charge the moon to reign supremely. The alluring globe was high in the sky, shining magnificently with only a fraction of its circumference missing as it began its steady cycle of waning towards its rebirth as a new moon.

The stars seemingly hundreds of light years’ nearer to earth than the lunar, were competing somewhat unsuccessfully with the vast city lights and consequently were not able to shine to their full brilliance, even though the clear night sky was perfect for them.

There wasn’t a breeze to be felt at this altitude, and although I was entirely warm as an honorary angel of God’s, I was very much aware from the frosted breath of the late city workers who passed my havens gates how cold the temperature was. This made the weather especially uncooperative as spring officially started in the morning. With no regard to authoritarianism, it was as if winter had refused to pass the climate control to the proceeding season and lay silent for the next nine months’ until it was its time to rule again with its icy cold hand.

As I waited for my celestial guide, I sat on the same snow covered bench A.M. and I had shared only that morning; despite the fact my mounting loneliness had magnified time making our meeting appear eons ago. I bowed my head so my eyes were not distracted by the passing trade, leaving my mind compos mentis to ponder my circumstance.

I felt highly inadequate for the job at hand. The magnitude of the situation seemed to be engulfing me; two weeks ago I was worrying about my chest size and how I was going to find and marry a suitable bachelor. Tonight I was breaking and entering into the British Secret Service, conversing with good and bad elves as well as cranky leprechauns, and wondering how I was going to save: 1) my nemesis Hope Harper 2) the absent without leave Ryan Joshua Scott who was wanted for treason, albeit unjustifiably so 3) mankind.

I did trust God, and I did appreciate He must know what He was doing. Still, I had a hard time accepting I was truly the right honorary angel for the job, if in fact I should be an honorary angel in the first place. All of this was compounded by the fact I was desperately missing my angel protector, who sensing my doubtful sadness spoke to me at a soul level.

‘I am always with you, Serena, whether you can see me or not.’

A.M. didn’t need to appear as his incredible might coupled with his tender love renewed my assurance and determination to continue and succeed with this case; even though I didn’t have a clue where Ryan Joshua Scott was hiding in New York or how I was going to vindicate him thus freeing Hope.

Feeling far more capable of dealing with whatever trials and tribulations lay ahead of me, of which I was sure there were going to be many, I held my head up high just in time to witness two white turtledoves fly into my retreat. They settled in a tree positioned in a sheltered corner to receive the utmost defense against winter’s icy grip, and snuggled tightly together for the night. In contrast to the doves light, a dark creature flew past only moments later.

Silhouetted against the white surroundings, I was certain the lone new comer was a bat. Then I thought better of it as bats were hibernating in the harsh climate awaiting the warmth of spring to precede the cold before they escaped their winter torpor.

As the night got darker and the stars attempted to shine brighter, I was counting snowflakes to while away the time when I heard a noise from above which made me automatically look heavenwards. What I witnessed was an object racing directly at me at considerable speed.

Although its size became more imposing the nearer it got to me, I wasn’t the least bit scared, instinctually sensing the peace and love it glowed. And then, landing with the grace associated with a much smaller size, a pure snow white horse greeted me with large golden wings, a long golden mane and tail, golden hooves which were curtained by golden hair, and an equally golden horn thrusting out from its forehead.

‘Serena, it is an honour to meet you,’ a regal voice sounded from the magnificent beast. ‘I am the Queen of the Unicorns.’

The Sovereign crossed her two front legs and elegantly bowed to me.

‘By the same token, I’m as honoured to meet you, your Majesty.’ I inclined my head as a sign of respect after I had spoken.

‘You may call me, Freya.’

I nodded my compliance as Freya informed me, ‘God has entrusted me with your safe passage to New York, Serena. Before we fly across the Atlantic Ocean, we must locate Hope Harper.’

‘You’re flying to New York with me, Freya?’ I asked in wonder.

‘Yes, we will fly as one so we can keep watch over Hope Harper,’ Freya answered, and then added due to the terror struck look on my face, ‘Do not fear, Serena, for you will be perfectly safe.’

‘Won’t we be conspicuous flying alongside an aircraft?’ The concern in my voice was hard to conceal.

‘You are forgetting, Serena, we will not be visible to all but Hope Harper, and we can chose to remain from even her sight if we so wish.’

As she finished, the ever so majestic Queen of the Unicorns signaled for me to climb on to her back as she bowed once more to make the seemingly easy, yet rather difficult task much more effortless. She then instructed me to hold tight on to her mane as she propelled into the night sky.

I was relieved flying with Freya afforded me the same protection God bestowed on me when I floated in my orb; the icy rush of wind against my face and the tussle with the flight of my cloak as a blustery current of air rushed past were to be expected at the height we had risen to, but thankfully none of these hindrances were present.

We landed a short time later outside Hope’s apartment where a large black car with windows obscured by manufactured tinted glass was waiting. Within a few minutes Hope opened the door to her mansion block, and wrapped in a long fur trimmed coat she walked down the white marble outer steps on to the pavement with a small suitcase in her gloved hand.

The limousine driver who had been cocooned from the elements at the front of the car, attentively reacted to Hope’s presence by relieving her from her luggage and then courteously opening the rear, passenger side door for her. Hope placed one foot inside the car; and then with her opposite hand resting on the top of the door, she stopped and scanned the street as if she was looking for someone before settling herself in the vehicles comfortable interior.

I looked up at her apartment’s large windows which were in complete darkness apart from the glow of the street light directly opposite. Did that mean Rupert was out? Had they rowed over her last minute trip? Was it Rupert Hope was looking for before she stepped into the car, or was she searching the relatively quiet street for me? After all, I had said I would help her and yet she had received no sign from me since I left her in my office with only my half full whisky decanter as company.

If Freya was privy to any of my thoughts, as A.M. had been, she didn’t make any comment. Instead, she asked me to remount so we could pursue Hope’s official car.

Flying, just as a police helicopter would in pursuit of the villains, Freya and I tailed the limousine in total silence, apart from my occasional intake of breath as I marvelled at the beautiful city which lay ahead of me. Other than my gasps of awe, the ride was so smooth and quiet it was as if the air had parted for us and held its breath so we were spared the sound of its rush.

We touched down at Northolt airport and watched Hope board the charter flight quite steadily, despite drinking several glasses of my fine and expensive whisky. Hope repeated the nervous sweep she had made of her street before entering the private jet. To my delight, I’m only a little ashamed to say Rupert was nowhere to be seen, and nor was I as Freya and I had activated our invisibility privilege believing it would be safer for all concerned.

As Hope’s plane was cleared for takeoff, once again Freya and I took to the skies. With Freya gliding effortlessly, I was settling into our eight hour flight and enjoying the complete freedom I felt high up in the sky with only the slight hum of the airplane’s engine audible; although I had found I could switch the noise off completely at will just as easily as one can flick a light switch. Then suddenly, nearing the half way mark a feeling of foreboding swept over me.

There were no visual clues why I should feel ominous. It was more a sixth sense. One which Freya shared; as at the same time I had felt the menacing air, I perceived Freya felt our surroundings change too as she stiffened her body making ready for the imminent assault upon us.

Within seconds the light on the horizon of the otherwise dark night sky was completely wiped out as a large colony of oversized bats swarmed us. With their intrinsic echo ultrasound apparently malfunctioning, they screeched and bit in our direction as their wings thrashed in their ferocious attack.

I plunged my head into Freya’s mane and covered as much of us both as I could with the cloak of armour God had presented me with. This safeguarded most of our body parts from the vicious onslaught, but still left Freya, in particular, open to assault around her head and hooves, and it didn’t stop the bats from clawing at my hair which they tugged with surprising brutal strength until I managed, albeit with difficulty, to pull my hood up.

Freya flew at the beasts with her golden horn locked into battle, courageously tossing them to the side. Despite being panic stricken, I desperately willed my brain to conjure an ingenious plan to escape, counterattack, or defend ourselves against the ambush. Even though warfare strategies failed me, amidst the chaos somewhere deep inside me an intelligence I hadn’t experienced before kindly but firmly told me to invoke A.M.

At the mere thought of appealing to A.M. for help, God’s supreme combatant instructed me to activate my halo. I immediately obeyed A.M.’s succinct command and physically felt my body’s relief as my aura instantly provided Freya and me with a magenta bubble of protection.

The bats furiously attacked my auric field which vibrationally shook me with every offensive they made. Realising I may not be able to maintain the required concentration to hold back our predators for long, I called upon the Omega with all my might, begging for assistance as I held A.M.’s words strong in my heart that God always answers prayers.

Immediately I sent my prayer, a herd of pure white horses with enormous wings and dangerous looking horns surrounded Freya and me. Our saviours, a thousand strong at the very least, flew at our assailants, butting them with their golden horns, beating them with their powerful wings, and whipping them with their long substantial tails. Any bat foolish enough to advance from the rear was kicked by strong hind legs, yet, although our gallant soldiers which equaled our foe in numbers cleared a path for us, the enemy did not abate. In fact, our defense infuriated evils warriors who intensified their raid.

Their bites were welcome irritations compared to the fireballs that now escaped their jaws, and which they directed at our noble help with pin point accuracy. However, before hells fire that transformed into replicas of its blaze breathing fiends could harm our gladiators, sparkly, silver flecked, snowy white particles shot out from the unicorns’ nostrils and extinguished the fire; like a torrent of water gushing out from a fire-fighters hose.

Our battle raged to the total ignorance of the nearby plane’s travelers who were miraculously, given the furious mêlée, enjoying a turbulence free ride.

With no sign of triumph, albeit we were holding firm, I prayed once more to God for help.

This time He sent an army of golden eagles. Their agility and speed along with their powerful talons and vicious beaks, which shot lightning bolts at the fire breathing giant bats, made them commanding allies. They were particularly successful at wrestling the bewitched mammals who deviously struck the unicorns from underneath, biting and clawing their barrels with frenzied intensity. As the eagles grabbed the bats with their knife like claws, they tumbled the assailants downwards in a ball of squawks and feathers before spiralling into an arrowhead dive where, with skilled accuracy, they discarded the vermin into the rough, black sea. With the winged unicorns and golden eagles fighting side by side, we should have secured a victory for the light, but still the bats persisted.

As I helplessly watched the hologram fire-bats weave throughout the light army increasing the dark side numbers a thousand-fold, in sheer desperation I begged the Almighty to send His wrath to defeat the unrelenting force of evil.

For a moment the scene before me slowed down, just as a flicker of royal, purple, and blue jump started my heart with hope we may yet defeat the wickedness flying around us as God’s protector arrived in full battle regalia.

The Alpha’s winged troops maneuvered the colony of bats away from the aircraft whose passenger blackout blinds serendipitously closed at the same time, ensuring the battle of good versus evil remained secret from the jetsetters and leaving A.M. to threateningly view the dark side unimpeded through his visor.

Brandishing his shield which carried the Divines coat of armour incorporating the sun, the moon, and what I imagined to be the North Star shining brightly amidst an ever moving solar system and numerous smaller stars that actively encircled the three sky dwellers, A.M. extracted his long, God forged sword from its scabbard and wielded it towards our adversaries as he stated in his authoritative voice, ‘In the name of God, I command all evil to leave this place.’

Simultaneously, A.M.’s golden, purple, and blue aura effortlessly flooded the sky forcing the enormous bats and their blazing shadows towards the inky Atlantic Ocean. Within a wing-beat calm had been regained.

Relief swept my body like an unrelenting tsunami as I collapsed into Freya’s mane and whispered, ‘Thank you for keeping me safe.’

Sensing my battle fatigue, the Queen implored me, ‘Serena, ask God to bathe you in His Divine Light. We have a long journey ahead of us, you more so than me. It will not do for you to be decommissioned from God’s active service without first accomplishing your task. There will be many obstacles for you to face. Do not let battle fatigue be your downfall and the annihilation of humankind.’

At the thought of failing God and bringing humanity to extinction, I heeded Freya’s words.

‘My gracious Father, I’m weary, but I trust You to wrap me in Your blessed care, and I’m filled with gratitude for the gift of Your loving Divine Light which I know You will bless me with. Thank you, Father for always being there to listen to me. Amen.’

As my words floated off to heaven, a visible beam of warm, comforting light shone down from the black, star crusted sky and encased me in the highest emotional of all: love.

‘Thank you, thank you, thank you,’ I repeated as I hugged Freya who affectionately nuzzled me back.

Once I was fully rejuvenated, A.M. bid Freya and me a safe farewell before summoning God’s winged forces back to heaven.

‘Thank you, A.M. from the bottom of my heart for coming to our rescue,’ I gratefully cried.

‘I will always be here for you, Serena,’ A.M. lovingly replied.

Unbelievably, given the ferocity of our battle, I was physically unscathed from evils touch. Freya on the other hand had several lacerations to her front legs where my cloak of armour had failed to reach. She insisted they were not troublesome and would heal once she walked through the purifying waterfalls in heaven which possessed magical healing qualities. Not wishing for Freya to wait that long, without the need to consult my cards I called upon Archangel Raphael and Archangel Ariel.

The emerald green orb I had witnessed in the room of feathers materialised immediately along with a pink orb. Combining strength, both of the Archangel orbs swam around Freya’s fetlock, dispersing healing rays as they did so. Within moments Freya was completely nursed back to full health by the grace and love of the two Archangels who stayed around long enough to receive our gratitude.

No worse for our attack, thanks to God and His loving helpers, Freya and I quickly rejoined Hope’s flight path and enjoyed an evil-free remaining journey.

As we neared our destination, the sky filled with a blaze of welcoming sunlight and the ocean’s activity was reminiscent of Archangel Raguels study, with harbor seals and dolphins performing acrobats in the sun sparkling, choppy, greeny-gray water. A swarm of white turtledoves joined us over New York’s harbour and peacefully accompanied Freya and I to the middle of Central Park where we touched down, fittingly after our arduous trip, by the renowned bronze statue: The Angel of the Waters.

With few tourists around in the early morning, Freya and I dissected our altercation with evil without the concern our presence would be inadvertently rumbled. As the Angel blessed the water with the aid of the peace lily she held in her hand, and with the help of the four cherubs: Temperance, Purity, Health, and Peace that stood beneath her, I told Freya about the winged company I attracted in my retreat.

‘That was no coincidence, Serena. The doves arrived swiftly to spread peace in your retreat, so when the Devil’s servant came to spy you would be saved the feeling of doom and despair,’ Freya informed me.

‘I thought there was something devilish going on. I mean since when has it been usual to see bats in winter? They should all be tucked up in a dark, damp cave awaiting the warmer weather.’

‘Without question the bats were enchanted. Ordinarily, bats will not be that gigantic, and they certainly would not have swarmed us in that harrowing manner,’ Freya shook her head.

‘And let us not forget their fire holograms,’ I added.

‘Indeed, how could we forget the fireballs whirling around us? Thank God for Archangel Michael, without whom we may well have been the ones tumbling into the murky waters of the Atlantic Ocean.’

‘Yes, thank you, God, for sending Archangel Michael to help us. I also wish to express my sincerest gratitude to the flying unicorns and golden eagles, without whom the story could have ended quite tragically.’

Freya and I reflected on my somber words before I added, ‘Freya, I didn’t know unicorns had wings? The ones I saw in heaven didn’t appear to, unless they were magically hidden.’ I continued, ‘And, since when do unicorns breathe a substance that controls fire?’

Freya stifled a guffaw and then said, ‘You are of course right, Serena. My beloved kind do not ordinarily have wings. I, the Queen of the Unicorns am alone in that honour. God mercifully sent my subjects to my side to thwart our attackers.

‘You see the unicorns would have sensed their Queen was in danger, and they are bound by duty that was ruled at the very birth of the first unicorn to lay down their lives for their Monarch. To do anything to the contrary is unimaginable for the noble unicorn. Naturally to rescue me the unicorns needed to be airborne, so God in His brilliance consented to give my herd special dispensation and grant them the ability to fly using Pegasus wings. The mighty Pegasus graciously approved God’s plan, so we also need to send them blessings and thanks.’

‘Most definitely; thank you, Pegasus, for lending your wings. Speaking of which, I owe you a great debt too, Freya. You risked a tremendous amount to escort me.’

‘It is all God’s work, Serena. Unicorns have served God since the beginning of time and we will continue to be His most loyal servants, regardless of the consequences.’

‘Well, I’m most grateful. Just one thing though; I don’t understand why I couldn’t fly with Hope in the plane?’

‘God had his reasons, and it is not for us to question the Almighty. Now, I know He wants me to lighten your load by telling you the following.’

I shifted myself into a more comfortable position so I could fully concentrate on Freya’s words.

‘Some battles have to be fought and won before the war can be settled.’

I reflected on her sentence. Still none the wiser I asked, ‘What do I do now, Freya?’

‘I am to return to heaven while you, Serena, search with Hope Harper for Ryan Joshua Scott.’

‘That is easier said than done,’ I said before exhaling heavily as I sunk further into the chair I was resting on. ‘I haven’t any idea where to find Hope, and as for Ryan Joshua Scott, where in hell . . . sorry bad choice of words, do Hope and I find a man who is expert at making himself invisible?’

‘All will be revealed at the right time if you trust, Serena.’

‘Yes, I’ve heard this advice more than once, thank you, Freya.’

I did try and keep all traces of sarcasm out of my voice, but I’m not sure I quite managed that feat. I reasoned I was an honorary angel and not a saint after all, so I didn’t dwell on my short comings.

‘With regard to Hope, I will say you would be wise to head for the most extravagant hotel.’

I looked a little puzzled.

‘The British Secret Service is hardly going to fly Hope charter and then book her into a hovel,’ the Unicorns Queen enlightened me.

‘Point taken,’ I smiled.

Chapter Nineteen

The Big Apple

 

I hugged Freya then bid her a reluctant farewell before watching her with wistful eyes fly back to heaven. I would have far preferred to have been accompanying Freya on her homeward journey. However, I knew this option was out of the question; God and the human race were depending on me to finish my mission, so I set out to do exactly that.

With my invisibility intact, I intuitively headed down The Mall with Central Park’s Summer Stage to my left. Dodging the early morning tourists and commuters who unsuspectingly gravitated towards my honorary angelic aura of peace, I was sandwich between the Wollman ice skating rink and Central Park’s zoo when I saw a figure scattering white feathers. I approached the angelic form who was quite intent on the task at hand, and therefore, oblivious to my presence.

When I was only a step away from the angel’s side, I said, ‘Hello.’

She turned to face me without the slightest hint of surprise. As her large, dreamy, blue eyes which dominated her beautiful features blinked, they turned to green and then hazel before starting back at blue; although I would have avowed they were a deeper shade than the original.

I looked downwards where I could clearly see the feathers she was distributing were magically replenished in the palm of her upturned hands, as the top layers floated away on the gentle breeze which was refreshing Central Park.

‘Do they fly away even if there is no wind, or do you have to revert to scattering them manually?’ I enquired.

‘Hello, Serena. I am Gabriella.’

I don’t know why I was startled by the fact Gabriella knew my name. After all she was an angel. True to her vocation, Gabriella addressed my question in a loving tone.

‘I aid Archangel Gabriel, God’s Messenger. The white feathers take flight no matter what the weather to give humans messages of hope, peace, and love. Some do have more specific tidings, such as the one I have for you.’

As Gabriella finished, the wind stopped whipping the cluster of feathers out of her hand with the exception of one large, gleaming, white quill which blew directly into my right hand which was lazily hanging by my side. Immediately, Gabriella’s halo bestowed a golden light around her which lit her golden robes and illuminated the nine golden words which formed my message.

Bringing my instructions nearer to my astonished eyes I read – You will find Hope Harper at The Plaza Hotel.

I cupped the soft, satin, tactile feather and moved it towards my heart where I hugged the plume to my chest.

As I closed my eyes I said in an unperceivable voice, ‘Thank you, Archangel Gabriel.’

I then turned my attention towards the angel before me and thanked her also. Gabriella acknowledged my gratitude, and then continued spreading God’s messages of promise, serenity, and love. We departed in different directions, but still feathers blew around me as I floated up the centred red carpeted marble stairs of The Plaza Hotel.

I was temporarily distracted from my mission when I joyously witnessed a smartly dressed lady in her mid twenties bend down to the white feathers which flooded the red steps and say to her female companion, ‘Angela, have you noticed the influx of white feathers since we lost Holly, even when we are inside buildings? I saw feathers in the coffee shop today and in the hotel foyer,’ the lady explained in an upper class English voice. Not waiting for an answer she affirmed, ‘I think Holly is letting us know she is at peace and we shouldn’t worry or mourn her.’ With this, a freak gust of wind lifted the pile of feathers which circulated around the two ladies from their head to their toes. ‘See!’ The feather observer happily screamed.

‘My dear Sophie, I do believe you’re right,’ Angela spoke with the same accent as she opened her arms in an attempt to embrace the circling white messages.

Feeling most contented I continued on my way.

The Plaza’s light, bright entrance hall, due mainly to the many large windows and chandelier graced high ceilings, was tastefully decorated in fabrics and furniture reminiscent of the French renaissance. As I neared the reception staff I noted the contrast between the two areas; the reception was gloomy in comparison, being constructed of dark wooden panels which bore the cravings of The Plaza’s elaborate mirrored initial crest. It had a far more modern appearance with state of the art technology and soulless office chairs, which were at least more practical for a working environment than the classical look.

Cautiously, despite my Divine concealment, I crept around the wooded reception desk to an unattended computer terminal and typed into the relevant field the name Hope Harper. The receptionist standing worryingly close to me was mercifully unaware of the ghostly movements of the keyboard and the monitor that flickered from its home page to indicate the hotels guest in question was staying in Terrace Suite Number Four. Freya had been right; the British Secret Service had indeed been extravagant.

I cleared the screen and headed towards the magnificently crafted, over a century old marble staircase as I invoked Archangel Chamuel to help me find Terrace Suite Number Four.

The familiar light which had guided me at MI6 appeared once again. Bobbing lightly at eye level a set distance in front of me, regardless of any obstacles I encountered from wandering glamorous guests to bright blue dressed bell boys, it escorted me to a two story suite of timeless elegance.

Hope was quite alone. She was dressed in clothes more befitting the gym. Yet far from burning up a sweat, she was lazily draped along a chic, white chaise longue, which was positioned by the foot of her bed, flicking through a fashion magazine.

I sat down opposite her, disabled my invisibility, and waited to see how long it would take Hope to register someone was in the room. Possibly a little cruel, however, if the truth be known I was keen to inflict a little harmless discomfort on my love rival, and besides I reasoned regardless of how I caught Hope’s attention I was most likely going to make her jump.

As I predicted, Hope caught sight of me out of the corner of her eye, screamed as she threw the magazine she had been thumbing violently to the floor, and practically ran out of the room. With a flicker of recognition registering, she stopped in the doorframe where she stood, steadying herself with the solid, wooden structure as she turned her head to survey me. And then without warning she burst into a deluge of abuse.

‘God dam it, Serena. Stop sneaking up on me, would you; first your office and now my suite. You’re going to take years’ off my life if you carry on silently just turning up.’

‘Hope, firstly I’m not sure our loving Father will be too thrilled you’re taking His name in vain, and secondly; how would you have me approach you?’

She gave me a contemptuous look before angrily stating, ‘Firstly, stop turning this around to make me wrong, Serena, with your blasphemy rubbish, and secondly; I would rather you didn’t approach me at all.’

‘So you would prefer it if I left you in New York to find Ryan Joshua Scott by yourself?’

For a fleeting moment a scared look crossed her face, and then regaining a degree of composure she said, ‘Where the hell have you been, anyway? You said you were going to help me.’

Her wrath waived a fraction as she completed her sentence so I decided it was safe for me to bypass her question.

‘I’m here now, Hope, to help you,’ I said somewhat tersely. ‘How was your flight?’

My question seemed to neutralise the friction, which I was grateful for as I honestly hadn’t counted on Mrs. Light-Worker making such a fuss.

‘Strange,’ Hope answered as she calmly settled herself back on to the chaise longue. She left the discarded magazine to litter the floor as she crossed her legs and arms in a defensive manner.

She’s not quite comfortable with me, I thought as I wickedly inwardly smiled. Then I asked, ‘In what way do you mean “strange”?’

As the words left my lips I wondered if it was at all possible Hope had sensed the battle of light and dark fought alongside her airplane; it appeared from her recount of her journey, her clairvoyant abilities hadn’t given her access to this sensitive information.

‘I thought Caldwell and I were journeying alone, but when we boarded the plane Fagan and Cain were already on the aircraft.

‘Fagan had a parcel propped up against his chair which he kept his hand on; as if he was worried it might fall. The steward asked if he could store it for him. It was large and quite frankly, it was in the way. Fagan went berserk at the steward’s suggestion. Caldwell and Cain had to intervene because at one point it looked like Fagan might actually thump the poor man for being courteous. His overly dramatic response was bizarre to say the least, and most out of character for the professionally calm man I know.’

I had been watching the large diamond on Hope’s left ring finger to mollify my guilty conscience that my competitor for Rupert’s affections deserved no mercy, so I was entirely justified in panicking her on my arrival.

Still keeping vigil on the precious stone I was adamant would be redundant once God returned me with the promise of a perfect body and my choice of mate, I enquired, ‘Do you know what was in the parcel?’

‘I don’t know for certain as it was wrapped in brown thick paper, tied with sting both horizontally and vertically, but I would guess by its shape and size it was a painting.’

‘Curious,’ I replied knowing full well it was almost certainly the portrait of Cain Caldwell Fagan Hart. ‘Are the brothers all booked in at The Plaza?’

‘Yes, quite disconcertingly they are all in suites on this floor.’

‘I see. Did anything else strange happen on your flight?’

‘Lots more; firstly, when Fagan thought I was asleep he whispered to the other two, “I found Odile tied up in Pandora’s stationary cupboard.”’

My eyes darted away from the glittering gem as Hope proceeded to tell me, ‘Caldwell asked who had tied Odile up. Fagan replied, “She couldn’t tell me. Every time she poised herself to speak the name of her perpetrator, her words dried up. She couldn’t even tell me what her attacker was after.” And this is where it got very weird. Fagan continued to say, “If I didn’t know better I would say a spell had been cast on her.”’

Hope shuddered at the thought of spells which subconsciously motivated her to wrap her arms around her person even more tightly.

‘And then the blinds suspiciously and abruptly closed making us all jump, including the steward who was serving drinks. He splashed Cain’s right sleeve with whisky which detracted from the strange phenomenon as Cain naturally wasn’t thrilled his watch had been spluttered with liquid. The poor steward; he really wasn’t having a good day. Cain couldn’t unclasp his watch quickly enough, and then he snatched the steward’s towel to wipe it dry. I don’t know if you recall I commented on Cain’s watch at our meeting at MI6?’

I simply nodded and Hope continued, ‘Its unusual red face appeared to burn in anger as the alcohol touched it, and I swear I heard a retort which didn’t come from any human presence. On the back of the watch was an engraving. I struggled to make the inscription out in full. I can say with certainty there were three words. The first two I believe said, My Lord. The first letter of the last word was an ‘L’ and the last letter an ‘R’. Possibly there was an ‘F’ somewhere in between, but it could quite as easily have easily been an ‘S’; the writing was quite swirly, and Cain kept smoothing it with the cloth, so all in all it was hard to decipher.’

My Lord Lucifer,’ I pieced together Hope’s information barely above a whisper.

‘What was that, Serena, and what pray tell is going on?’

‘All will be revealed at the right time, Hope,’ I said with self satisfaction as I wondered if she found that comment as infuriating as I had when I had been on the receiving end of it numerous times from various Archangels. Before she had a chance to reply I informed her, ‘I’m going to visit our friends, Cain, Caldwell, and Fagan to see if they can give us any enlightening clues.’

‘OK. Serena, please be extra careful,’ she added.

I was struck immobile by Hope’s sudden concern.

‘I’ve a growing feeling of dread that all isn’t as it seems,’ she clarified.

‘I think you’re nearer to the truth, Hope then either one of us should wish for.’

I thought to turn myself invisible, and as I did so I orbed into the next suite along from Hope’s. I found it completely empty of human or otherwise form, both upstairs and down. In the second suite I visited I located the brothers seated in a richly decorative lounge, equal in style to the hotels entrance hall.

An abundance of natural light flooded into the area through the terrace doors. A large, highly ornamental, golden framed mirror had been removed from its hook over the fireplace, and now stood propped up against the opulent surround. My suspicions were confirmed as in its place hung the portrait of Cain Caldwell Fagan Hart.

‘Has the Harper woman had any insight to Scott’s whereabouts?’ Mr. Hart senior demanded as he walked straight through the wall leading from the terrace.

The three younger Harts looked cautiously from one to another before Fagan answered a little nervously, ‘No, Grandfather.’

The look on the three brothers’ faces indicated they were preparing themselves for a ferocious fit of anger from their grandfather in response to the unwelcome news.

Instead, his steely, cold voice proclaimed quite steadily, ‘For her sake, let’s hope she has a premonition soon.’ He looked at his grandsons with his penetrating blue eyes. ‘I will not tolerate incompetence. If Ms. Harper isn’t up to the job she has been hired for, and if she continues to make a nuisance of herself by requesting audiences with Scott’s family and friends, there will only be one course of action open to us.’

He willed the younger generation to understand his unspoken threat which he expected them to execute if necessary.

‘We comprehend, Grandfather,’ Caldwell assured Mr. Hart.

‘I sincerely hope so. Make sure you plan all the finer details this time. I don’t want to hear of another failed traffic accident. Such inefficiencies never happened in my time.’

A cold shiver ran throughout my entire body. I knew the Harts were up to no good for attempting to frame Ryan Joshua Scott, but could they be capable of grievous bodily harm or even more serious; murder? After all, the Harts did appear to be in league with Lucifer. Despite this knowledge, I wasn’t prepared for Caldwell’s next statement or his grandfather’s response.

‘With respect, Grandfather, the intelligence we received concerning Serena Lewis placed her in the vehicle with her then boyfriend, Rupert Valentine.’

‘Excuses! That is what you brought to me, Caldwell. Lord Lucifer instructed our noble family to ensure Serena Lewis didn’t live to fulfill the Divine’s covenant. It was an honour we should have relished. Instead, the intelligence you were responsible for was wrong; and even Valentine walked away practically unscathed.’

‘But she is dead now, Grandfather,’ Caldwell tried to redeem himself.

‘By a misadventure with a cosmetic surgeon, I hear,’ Mr. Hart’s tone was calm with a hauntingly evil murmur.

As the Harts’ conversation played out, I stood stunned. At the mention of my demise and the previous attempts on my life, all of which were masterminded by Lucifer, my blood ran icy cold as my brain, no matter how hard I tried, couldn’t make sense of the news I had just heard.

What Divine covenant? Was the cosmetic surgeon paid to kill me? Surely though, if this was the case the Archangels would have shown me my murder in my life review, and I wouldn’t have felt the surgeon’s pain and distress at losing me. No, I reasoned I couldn’t have been murdered; God had said it was a mistake, and the Almighty didn’t lie so I had to trust this was so.

I was forced out of my thoughts by Mr. Hart senior, who in an escalating rage exploded, ‘It wasn’t as if we hired the man to make it look like an accident. It was an accident!’

The silence was deafening, so much so I was scared if I expressed my relief the Harts would somehow hear.

‘Just make sure the plan for Hope Harper is foolproof,’ Mr Hart ordered, ‘otherwise all three of you will deal with the consequences,’ he hissed as he vanished back inside his portrait.

‘I’ve an idea to help you,’ Odile excitedly screeched as she appeared literally out of thin air on the tail end of Mr. Hart.

The moment I saw the dark elf I darted from behind the plush sofa into the adjourning room as I was unsure whether Odile, who had mercifully materialised facing the opposite way to me, would see me if I stayed. After all my invisibility hadn’t shielded me from her in Pandora’s office, and even though Ophelia had said her magic would prevent Odile informing on me, she hadn’t mention whether Odile would actually be able to see me. I couldn’t take the chance I would be visible to her in case she acted suspiciously in a bid to alert the Harts that all wasn’t as it seemed. So I hid in the dining area and put my ear to the wall that partitioned the living space as I strained to listen to the evil Odile was about to share.

‘Let’s hear it then,’ snapped Caldwell, impatient for some good news.

‘Central Park is a mugger’s paradise, so who’s to say a mugging can’t go tragically wrong when the brave, young, attractive victim puts up a fight,’ she laughed at the wickedness of her plan.

‘Do you have someone in mind, Odile? If it becomes necessary to limit our liability, the person we would seek to help would need to be capable of forging a murder to look like a mugging which unfortunately got out of hand?’ Caldwell coldly stated.

I felt nauseous at the callousness and iniquity which was at odds with the beautiful room. I wanted to orb on to the terrace to breathe fresh air as oppose to the stench of evil that consumed the suite. But I knew it was crucial I stayed and gathered as much intelligence as possible.

I would be selective what I told Hope. She didn’t need to know, for instance, unless she had some news which would hand Ryan Joshua Scott to the enemy she would be surplus to requirements and savagely deposed of. But I would tell her to quit requesting interviews with Ryan Joshua Scott’s relatives and friends.

I also felt it was best to refrain from telling her the British Secret Service had tried to kill me because of some mysterious Divine covenant, and they had very nearly murdered Rupert in the process under the justification of collateral damage. However, after the unwelcome revelation by Archangel Raziel which effectively told me God’s precise laws of like attracting like was why Rupert had left me, I was tempted to tell Hope that Rupert had bumped his head during his road traffic accident which was the cause of his irrational behaviour to run from my arms to hers.

As I pondered what I would and wouldn’t share with Hope, I was abruptly brought back to the present by Odile’s high pitch glee.

‘Naturally,’ she purred.

‘Odile,’ Cain piped up. I could tell it was Cain by the smarmy undertone to his voice. ‘Can you tell me who tied you up and left you in Pandora’s stationary cupboard?

The silence was eerie.

‘Odile, why can’t you tell me?’ Cain had a note of higher intensity in his voice.

I dared to sneak a peek around the wall connecting the two occupied rooms. Odile was moving her mouth with not only total silence, but also without the ability to form words. If the whole affair hadn’t been so tragic I would have found it highly amusing to watch.

‘I told you,’ Fagan spoiled the quiet, ‘it’s as if a silencing spell has been performed on her to stop her telling us what happened.’

Odile started to squeak at this. Frustratingly for her (which was evident when she began to manically stamp her feet and thrash her fisted hands and arms around), she couldn’t even shake her head in agreement. Finally, maddened by the binding spell Ophelia had performed, Odile disappeared as suddenly as she’d arrived leaving the three junior Harts alone with their painted grandfather.

Supping their drinks in the peace which was more befitting for the surroundings, I had the distinct feeling no more skullduggery would be plotted that day leaving me comfortable in the knowledge I could depart the ‘Hart’ suite to report back to Hope. Just before I orbed, my hearing, which had never been anything other than mediocre, suddenly became extra acute as if something important was being said that I needed to know. Fagan was whispering to his siblings for fear of being overheard; ironically I could hear him perfectly.

‘Do you think he’s listening?’ Fagan shot a fleeting look towards the hanging portrait as his words left his lips.

‘How would we know?’ Caldwell’s tone, which was far above a whisper, implied he thought Fagan was asking the most ludicrous question.

Fagan ignored his brother’s sneer.

‘Actually,’ Cain interjected, ‘I’ve noticed when Grandfather is active the canvas is brighter. It almost has a shine to it.’

All three cautiously glanced towards their grandfather’s unlikely doorway from hell, where he truly belonged, to the world of the living. Now Odile had gone I could safely ogle the painting in my invisible mode without fear of being caught, so I joined the brothers as they thoroughly inspected the texture of the paint.

‘It looks perfectly normal to me.’ Caldwell was the first to speak.

Fagan evidently agreed, and with this confidence he boldly declared, ‘I’m not having Grandfather here with me all the time. You two will have to take responsibility too and give the painting some wall space in your suites.’

Caldwell looked troubled by Fagan’s outburst. He wasn’t keen on being the portraits guardian, whether temporary or otherwise.

‘Fagan,’ he said with charming, velvety articulation, ‘you’re the one most use to Grandfather. His portrait does usually hang in your offices, after all.’

‘Exactly! And I’m fed up of it. My life no longer appears to be my own. I’m positive his portrait feeds me evil which detrimentally influences my persona.

‘Just look at the way I spoke to the steward on the plane. It was appalling, and I’m sure you will agree most out of character for me. I was clutching Grandfather’s portrait at the time, and try as I might I couldn’t let go.’

He paused, shock his head as a heavy sigh escaped his lightly parted lips, and then continued with a calmer air; yet there was still passion in his voice.

‘Even when Grandfather isn’t poisoning me slowly and silently with criminal intent, I’m still under his curse. I don’t seem to be able to make the simplest of decisions without Grandfather dictating my course of action.’

‘He doesn’t control the outcome, Fagan. Surely you appreciate that?’ Cain asked.

‘Oh yes, I know full well. Our grandfather carelessly managed to get himself and his family in league with Lucifer.’

‘Grandfather chose to follow Lord Lucifer, Fagan. No one forced him,’ Cain clarified.

‘No, unlike me who has been persuaded into many unscrupulous ventures, including lying and falsifying my evidence against Scott who is a first rate agent, and up until my involvement Scott had an exemplary service record stemming from his days’ with the Royal Marines.’

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Lucifer had recruited Mr. Hart who had insisted upon his grandsons’ participation. In evil collaboration they had attempted to kill me over some covenant, and now, for some unknown reason, they were targeting Ryan Joshua Scott.

‘Spare me, Fagan,’ Cain said superiorly. Without Lord Lucifer where exactly do you think this family would be today?’

‘We may not be as prominent in the British Secret Service, Cain but . . .’

‘And don’t forget we wouldn’t be so financially secure, Fagan,’ Cain pressed his point.

Fagan glared at his brother momentarily, as if his last comment was insignificant. Collecting himself he stated in a voice that had dropped a few octaves, ‘At least our souls wouldn’t be damned for all eternity, Cain.’ Continuing in this lower tenor he asked, ‘Do you know why I had to frame Scott?’

‘No. It was on a need to know basis, Fagan. You know that,’ Cain answered with a tad of frustration in his voice.

‘Well I think you need to know, so let me enlighten you.’

Chapter Twenty

The Daughter of Eve

 

Cain and Caldwell looked towards their brother with an air of expectancy, rather like children who were eagerly awaiting the end of the fairytale before they would entertain sleep.

‘Ryan Joshua Scott comes from a long line of male descendants who have seriously agitated Lucifer,’ Fagan began with emphasis on the word “seriously.”

‘What on earth could Scott and his bloodline have done to alert Lucifer to their existence?’ Caldwell asked with a mixture of confusion and intrigue.

Cain sat silent and still; his right leg crossed over his left, with his torso counter balancing the weight by slightly leaning towards his right elbow which was positioned on the padded arm of the chair he sat upon that looked like it had come straight out of Louis XV Palace of Versailles. His fingers, bar his index finger which horizontally lined his cheek, curled into a light fist which covered his mouth, while his thumb pad gently pushed into the underneath of his chin as he thoughtfully soaked in Fagan’s words.

‘Joshua Bartholomew Scott, the first ancestor of Ryan Joshua Scott, was cajoled by Lucifer to join his satanic army after the Devil heard of his renowned performance on the battlefield. Joshua Bartholomew Scott, a devout Christian, was insulted by Satan’s offer, and is said to have publically shunned the underworld Lord while he reaffirmed to serve and honour God. Lucifer was unperturbed and persisted to charm Scott to the dark side, but to no avail as Scott continued to treat him with nothing other than contempt.

‘This was said to have highly amused God who accepted Scott’s offer of service, and recruited him to protect the Daughter of Eve who would one day incarnate to defeat Lucifer. This task was to be passed from generation to generation, from father to son, and it was agreed between Joshua Bartholomew Scott and God that the male Scott bloodline would only be excused from this duty once the Devil had been banished for all eternity.

‘Naturally, Lucifer was not thrilled at the prospect of being vanquished, and some say he even felt betrayed by Joshua Bartholomew Scott who he’d invested much time in, so he sought to destroy the defender of the Daughter of Eve, believing it would then be easier to target his nemesis.

‘For these very reasons, for centuries persecution followed the Scott male descendants who have been viciously hunted and annihilated by Lucifer’s henchmen.

‘Ryan Joshua Scott’s own father was a casualty of these circumstances. He was murdered in a car when Ryan Joshua Scott was just ten-years’-old; which was of course made to look like a road traffic accident by MI6’s finest. Ryan Joshua Scott suffered a double tragedy that day as his mother had unexpectedly travelled with her husband. Obviously she couldn’t be allowed to survive in case her account cast any shadow over the accident theory.

‘Orphaned Ryan Joshua Scott went to live with his uncle, his father’s younger sibling, who along with his twin sons was devoted to the family quest. His uncle was a Royal Marine, a path Ryan Joshua Scott followed. Unlike his uncle who was killed in action supposedly by the enemy (in truth it was a British solder enlisted by Lucifer who pulled the fatal trigger), Ryan Joshua Scott successfully dodged the ‘friendly’ fire only to walk into the lion’s den when he offered his skills to the British Secret Service.

‘Ryan Joshua Scott’s family was desecrated further when his twin cousins were slaughtered by an alleged drunk driver, who was in fact another evil worshiper on Lucifer’s payroll.

‘At present day Ryan Joshua Scott is the sole surviving male who can be traced back to Joshua Bartholomew Scott. Ryan Joshua Scott’s heritage is to continue to wage the war on Lucifer which was started many millenniums ago, and this he has pledged to do until his dying day.

‘Lucifer is understandably anxious to rid himself of the Scott curse. Yet, Ryan Joshua Scott has proven to be evasive and extraordinarily fortunate, having already avoided carefully planned accidents. So Lucifer decided on a different course of destruction. The Dark Lord instructed Grandfather to discredit Ryan Joshua Scott, which is where we are at today and why we have all joined forces.

‘I was given the evidence to incriminate Ryan Joshua Scott, but dare I say, once again Lucifer has underestimated Ryan Joshua Scott’s survival instincts, or possibly the protection God has granted the last in the Scott line. Now more than ever Lucifer is desperate to eradicate Scott.’

‘Why does Lucifer particularly want to seal Scott’s fate now?’ Caldwell, who had been captivated by Fagan’s story, interrupted.

‘Partly because he is the last protector, but mainly because the long awaited Daughter of Eve, whose preordained destiny was sealed in God’s covenant at the dawn of time, has finally been incarnated.’

Caldwell cleared his throat before speaking.

‘Actually, the Daughter of Eve is no longer of this world.’

‘What? How do you know?’ Fagan demanded.

‘I was entrusted with the misadventurous car accident which failed to kill her.’

With his brother’s enquiring eyes boring into his own, Caldwell knew he was going to have to elaborate on his statement.

‘The Daughter of Eve was Serena Olivia Unity Lewis.’

‘What?’ Fagan cried at the precise same time my legs gave way, sending me stumbling with a thud to the floor only inches from the brothers’ feet. But of course no one heard the thump or felt the vibration my body mass caused when it hit the concrete floor.

I wasn’t sure what was making the most noise; my racing heart or my pounding head which refused to cooperate as I tried to make sense of Caldwell’s words.

‘It’s true,’ Cain interposed.

Caldwell threw Cain a look which suggested he insisted his brother explain how he knew this extremely sensitive and high level classified information. For a moment it appeared Cain was going to deny Caldwell’s unspoken request; that was until Caldwell assumed a thunderous aplomb not even Cain dared to ignore. However, before he spoke, Cain did glance uneasily at his Grandfather’s portrait to check for any alterations indicating Hart senior was privy to his confession.

Satisfied their conversation remained private, Cain declared, ‘Grandfather briefed me on the Lewis girl. He was restless because she’d escaped your plans for her demise, Caldwell, so he asked me to keep an eye on your progress and be ready to step in if your second attempt looked likely to fail.’

‘He did what?!’ Caldwell shouted.

‘Don’t take offense, Caldwell,’ Cain offered with the unease their conversation had sparked clearly visible on his face. ‘You know what Grandfather is like; everything must be perfect and achieved at supersonic speed, otherwise it’s inadequate. It’s just his way, and I’m sure it’s one of the reasons Lucifer chose Grandfather as his right hand man. It would be foolish to think he will change now he’s dead.’

As Cain looked hopefully at his younger sibling, the anger ebbed from Caldwell’s face to be replaced by the lesser emotion of frustration.

‘Honestly, if the old man wasn’t already dead, I swear I could kill him.’ Caldwell sighed heavily as he finished his sentence, which released his face from further angst and brought his features back to near normal composure.

‘Look, it isn’t important how Serena Lewis died. The crucial point is Lucifer’s bête noire has been dealt with. Regardless, if we want to keep Grandfather off our case we must find Scott. If Hope Harper isn’t able to assist us in our endeavour . . . well let us just say her future is presently unclear,’ Cain summarised.

‘Well put, Cain. Now, if you will excuse me gentlemen,’ Caldwell rose from his chair with his self-control fully restored.

‘Wait a moment,’ Fagan ordered. ‘If the Daughter of Eve is dead, why are we still hounding Scott?’

‘Lucifer wants every last detail taken care of. He still classes Scott as a liability and, I dare say given Scott’s track record, an adversary not to be taken lightly,’ Cain answered.

Caldwell, who had paused momentarily, resumed his course towards the door.

‘Where are you off to?’ Fagan demanded.

‘Fagan, as your older brother, I’ve never been accountable to you, and nor will that fact ever change,’ Caldwell retorted without a backward glance.

‘Caldwell, you’re not going anywhere without Grandfather’s portrait. I told you, I’m done with being his keeper.’

‘If you think I’m hanging that,’ Caldwell sneered towards the canvas hanging over Fagan’s mantle, ‘in my suite, you’re gravely mistaken, Fagan.’

‘Caldwell, it’s only fair we take turns,’ Fagan protested.

‘My dear Fagan, if Grandfather believes I’m so incapable I need supervising, then he would hardly want incompetent me to guard his doorway to our time, now would he?’

‘Caldwell . . .’

‘Drop it, Fagan. I will take Grandfather,’ Cain interceded.

Relieved that he was being reprieved, Fagan didn’t stop to question Cain’s decision, and instead dashed forward to unhook the contentious portrait, narrowly missing my foot which was sticking out at the same angle it formed when I collapsed.

I was fully aware questions would be raised if Fagan tripped over an invisible force, and I was also mindful such probing could quite easily give Odile the opportunity to tell her masters I had undoubtedly been in the vicinity without breaking the magic seal Ophelia had bound her cousin in. Considering this would be more than a hindrance to my assignment, I instantly cleared my mind from all distraction, which took all the determination I could muster, and I orbed myself out of immediate danger.

 

Before I went back to Hope, I revisited The Angel of the Waters in Central Park. The calming effect she and her four cherubs had on me helped me to put the conversation I had eavesdropped on into perspective; what was done was done and I was now better informed. Therefore, I was in a far stronger position to successfully complete my assignment and get back to my life.

Still, I couldn’t evade my mother’s voice warning me; spying almost always uncovered knowledge that was detrimental to one’s peace of mind. With her wise words resounding in my head I found Hope where I had left her, sprawled on the chaise lounge.

After once again scaring her as I materialised (quite unintentionally this time), I related the relevant details of my mornings snooping.

She was appalled when I told her I had heard with my own ears that Ryan Joshua Scott had been framed by the British Secret Service. She probed me as to their reasoning, and when she didn’t get a satisfactory answer, she prodded some more. As I ran out of answers and my avoidance tactics weren’t fooling the solicitor’s clerk I had seriously underestimated, I told her the truth; that Lucifer wanted Ryan Joshua Scott silenced.

At first she didn’t believe me. When my story didn’t waiver and the resolute expression on my face didn’t alter, she gasped as she registered the enormity of the enemy we were up against.

As I attempted to calm Hope, there was a knock at her door. At first she ignored it, but the tapping became more frequent and urgent until at last she slipped on the pumps that were neatly waiting by the edge of the chaise lounge she’d occupied, and went to the door where she called out, ‘Who is it?’

‘Hope, it’s Caldwell. Why didn’t you answer?’

‘Just a minute, Caldwell; I’ve just stepped out of the shower.’ She walked away from the door and in near hushed hysterics she besieged me, ‘What am I going to do?’

‘You’re going to answer the door and act normal, Hope, but for goodness sakes don’t mention talking to Ryan Joshua Scott’s friends and relations.’

This advice seemed to pull her out of her fluster.

‘Why ever not? What did you overhear?’ she added when I remained silent.

‘There is no time to explain. Please, just trust me on this, Hope,’ I said as I handed her a towel.

Giving me a weak smile, she wrapped the towel around her head to conceal her dry hair and answered the door were she stood noticeably shaken like prey before a formidable hunter.

Caldwell didn’t seem to notice her panic as he stepped inside. Once he’d checked on her psychic progress and informed her they would be dining at nineteen hundred hours that evening in the Oak Room (he didn’t quite say as much, yet his tone implied the Hart brothers insisted on Hope’s presence), he left without further comment.

At the precise moment Hope closed the door safely behind Caldwell, a blast of air normally associated with a storm and not the fine, sunny weather New York was enjoying, blew the French doors to Hope’s balcony wide open while discharging a flurry of white feathers.

I caught one that relentlessly whirled around my head and read the familiar gold writing – You will find Ryan Joshua Scott at the Wollman ice skating rink, disguised with a Lincoln beard and moustache, with a red bandana tired around his head.

Hope, who was unaware of my earlier meeting with Gabriella, was busy capturing wayward feathers which she collected in a bundle before releasing them back into the atmosphere from her private balcony. Infuriating for Hope, instead of the feathers co-operating, they changed course and re-entered her suit in a persistent whirlwind. As soon as I had read and understood God’s instructions, the fluffy white messages ceased their dance and fell uncharacteristically like lead weights to the floor.

With no time to address Hope’s stunned look, I almost shouted, ‘Hope, we must go, NOW!’

‘Serena, what’s going on?’ she asked in a tone underpinned with the start of her earlier hysteria.

‘Hope, I know where Ryan Joshua Scott is.’

She froze.

‘Well, why didn’t you say,’ she barked a moment later.

Jumping into action, she swiftly pulled the towel from her head and grabbed her designer cape which was slung over the back of a chair. Snatching the key to her suite from the mantelpiece, she bolted out into the corridor without bothering to close the French doors.

‘Thank you, A.M., for protecting Hope’s suite and all the possessions it holds against human hands or any magical being that intends to do harm,’ I gratifyingly prayed as I too left the suite unsecured. It wasn’t that I thought a thief would happen upon the open doors of the unoccupied suite, but it did cross my mind Odile might.

I could have orbed saving myself vital minutes, but that hardly seemed fair on my non honorary angelic companion who sensing the urgency almost ran through the hotel out into the New York City street. Here she lifted her grey cape over her head, and snuggled into the knitwear which complimented the pink hoody it now partially covered. It wasn’t until I had joined Hope outside in the weak March day’s sun with my invisibility shield deactivated that I noticed Archangel Jophiel had honoured me once more by cladding me in more socially fitting clothes.

My attire was very similar to the outfit Archangel Jophiel had designed for me in London. However, here in New York where the weather was warmer, thanks largely due to the absence of several inches of snow, I had no need for the grey dappled cashmere winter coat or feminine warm furry hat, both of which would have looked very out of season. Instead, Archangel Jophiel had substituted my long winter coat for a smart, collar and belted, three quarter length, black leather jacket that Hope was suspiciously eying.

Despite our non magical travel to the ice rink we made good time. I squinted in the sunlight for a heavily bearded man, crowned with a red bandana. At first Ryan Joshua Scott remained undetected; that was until I’d had a quiet word with Archangel Chamuel.

Pulling on Hope’s hoody sleeve, I led her in the shadow of the city’s many skyscrapers that, from our viewpoint, were skirted by the parks large multi-toned shrubbery, straight to the most wanted man in England. By God’s grace Hope and I remained clear of the peripheral vision of the highly trained human weapon until we were close enough to be heard.

I’m not sure I will ever know what possessed me; although I have my suspicions that God preordained my choice of words. In the split second where Ryan Joshua Scott realised his cover had been compromised and he weighed up his options of either fight or flight, I announced, ‘Ryan Joshua Scott, I am Serena Olivia Unity Lewis, the Daughter of Eve your bloodline vowed to protect, and I come to you now in the name of God.’

In all my years’ of practising law where I’ve witnessed facial expressions in many degrees ranging from: anger, bad-shock, and frustration on one side, to: glee, good-shock, and happiness on the other, I’ve never seen anyone look so utterly astonished.

Ryan Joshua Scott stood before Hope and me with an attractive masculine jawline, which couldn’t be hidden by his facial hair, that had dropped near to his sneaker covered feet. His blue eyes, which showed traces of exhaustion from enhanced blood vessels to deeper expression lines that were not warranted on someone in their mid twenties, were dilated and alert.

He remained in his astounded pose for some ten seconds before recovering his composure he stated in his sexy, privately educated drawl, which was tinted with uncertainty and confusion, ‘Serena Olivia Unity Lewis is dead.’

I wrestled on how best to answer, fully aware Hope was breathing over my shoulder. I was also conscious for the sake of all humanity I had to be very careful on how much information I parted with, even to my two charges.

‘Hmm, that’s a minor technicality,’ I confidently offered. ‘Ryan, this is Hope Harper. She’s a trusted colleague of mine,’ I proceeded. ‘Before we explain further, I think we really ought to move to a safe haven.’ I thought for a moment. ‘I have an apartment right here in New York.’

‘Have you?’ Hope sounded surprised.

‘Yes, but I don’t know its status. I mean it has been left to my parents who for all I know may be enjoying the many luxuries I fitted it with as I speak. There is also the possibility it’s up for sale, so I couldn’t ensure we wouldn’t be disturbed by potential buyers or real estate agents.’

The idea of someone living in my exquisitely designed apartment sent an involuntary shiver up my spine that temporarily shook my being.

‘Are you alright, Serena?’ spoke Hope’s concerned voice.

‘Perfectly, thank you, Hope,’ I recovered.

Ryan, who had been thirstily drinking in the scene, suddenly took charge and ordered, ‘Follow me.’

Neither Hope nor I hesitated at Ryan’s concise order. Dutifully we followed our guide to the west side of Central Park where Ryan effortlessly hailed a cab.

We drove for half an hour in silence, not wishing the taxi driver to over hear any of the sensitive information we were due to trade, before stopping outside a large, detached white house, with a neat, suitably sized lawn.

After settling the fare, Ryan jumped out of the front seat to lead Hope and me up the centre path to a smart, black, double fronted door which was avoid of glass, all except for the inconspicuous spy hole. He produced a key that opened the shiny door to reveal a spacious wooden floor entrance hall which bore a magnificent, cream carpeted, centred stairwell that funnelled both to the left and right of the house.

The furniture was sparse given the dimension of the space, consisting of a solitary flamboyantly craved chair with a luxurious padded seat which was snuggled up to an equally lavish table, both of which were almost out of sight as they nestled under the stairs against the right side, back, whitewashed wall. To the extreme left of the door a grandfather clock dominated the space where it was ideally placed to inform the household of the time. The high walls were meagrely adorned with tasteful, country inspired works of art which were set by simple frames. The same decor flowed into the library to the left of the door where Ryan ushered both Hope and me into.

Gesturing for us to be seated, Ryan offered in a voice which had lost its ambiguous edge, ‘Can I get you both a drink?’

‘Whisky, please,’ I confidently ordered.

A little more hesitantly, Hope asked for the same.

Once he’d filled our tumblers, Ryan sat down opposite me in a comfortable high-backed, maroon leather chair which matched the other three in the room.

With his blue eyes, I felt sure I could lose myself in, firmly fixed on mine across the dark wooden square coffee table we surrounded, he asked, ‘How did you find me?’

I looked towards my left to where Hope was sitting. She cuddled her whisky glass in her right hand that was propped up by her left, which in turn was supported by her crossed legs. She too intently looked in my direction, keenly waiting to hear the explanation I was about to feed Ryan. She was also restless to hear our new course of action now we had found the man the combined English and American Secret Services would pay her handsomely to betray.

‘I have to be careful what I tell you both, for there is more at stake here than you could ever believe possible. I’m confident you will understand this, Ryan, after all you’re a man who lives and breathes espionage.’

He gave me a slight nod of his head to acknowledge he understood and I should continue.

‘As you know, I work for God.’

The same reassuring nod came from Ryan. Hope, on the other hand, could not contain her gasp.

‘I’m not sure why you’re surprised, Hope. You speak to spirits all the time. Who do you think has sent them to you in the first place?’

She didn’t answer me. Instead she reflected on my words in silence, and thankfully she didn’t rebuff me for trusting Ryan with her secret. I had figured, and I had to believe I was led to my conclusion by Divine inspiration, that to complete my assignment I had to be as honest as at all possible to gain Ryan’s trust. He was an intelligent man. He would want to know Hope’s involvement and there simply wasn’t anything else which was remotely credible, save the truth.

I turned my attention back to Ryan.

‘God knows you’re innocent, Ryan, and He has entrusted me with your safe passage back to England.’

I was almost as surprised as Ryan was I had just told him God wanted him back in England. Somewhere, deep inside of me, I knew that to be the absolute truth.

‘Why do I need to go back to England, and how is that going to be possible? MI6 and the CIA have every airport and seaport covered, and even I’m not so stupid to think my current disguise along with a fake passport will suffice.’

‘Sometimes the details aren’t entirely clear to me until the time calls for clarity. What I can tell you, Ryan, is; God insists you return to England, and He will be responsible for your safe passage.’

Ryan considered my response before answering, ‘OK, but tell me, how did you get involved? Why can I see you if you’re dead? Where does that leave me in regards to being your protector? And what is Hope’s part in all of this?’

Before I could answer Ryan, the grandfather clock in the entrance hall chimed five o’clock, alerting Hope to the fact she only had two hours to ready herself for dinner with the brothers.

‘Serena,’ she urgently called.

‘Yes, Hope; don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten.’ I took a deep breath before addressing Ryan. ‘I’m sorry, Ryan, I‘ve completely lost all track of time. Hope has a prearranged engagement at The Plaza Hotel. It’s imperative she keeps this appointment so regrettably we must excuse ourselves. But I promise to answer as much as I can next time we meet.’

‘I will drive you,’ Ryan commanded.

‘You will?’ I asked a tad puzzled, as I had visions of the spy stealing an Aston Martin from American suburbia.

‘Yes, Evie will be back by now, and I’m sure she will let me borrow her Range Rover.’

‘Who is Evie?’ I asked with the slightest hint of jealousy in my voice.

‘A dear and personal friend, who just happens to be the daughter of the President of the United States,’ Ryan modestly replied.

Chapter Twenty One

The Assassin

 

There was never any doubt that the President of the United States daughter would agree to lend charismatic Ryan her new, top of the range sports version of the Range Rover to chauffeur Hope and me back to The Plaza Hotel. This was just as well as I was mindful Hope had a dinner-date with the Hart brothers she would be unwise to miss, least she antagonise them.

The windows, with the exception of the windscreen, were as black as the rest of the off-roader, which at least lent Ryan a degree of concealment; although he never once removed the red bandana which almost covered, apart from his short sideburns that merged with the facial hair he’d grown to disguise his identity, the beautiful blonde hair I had seen in his MI6 service file.

I sat in the front next to Ryan. Although this gave me the perfect opportunity to converse with my protector, I refrained from talking to him, instead preferring to allow him to concentrate on the road while I silently mulled over the questions I needed answering. But before I had a chance to ask for Divine assistance on how much I was allowed to disclose to both my charges, I was distracted by an electricity dance between mine and Ryan’s aura’s. I wondered if he was experiencing the tantalising sensation that I felt coursing through my entire being. I sat enjoying the unfamiliar tingles in an almost hypnotic state until I was jolted back to consciousness, I guessed by a Divine source.

Turning my attention to the task at hand, which was far easier now the quivering phenomenon had ceased, I remembered Ryan had asked me how I had become involved. So could I, for example, tell him I was only temporarily dead? Without a sound I posed the question heavenward and waited. Within seconds I heard A.M.’s familiar voice telling me, discreetly so my companions would not hear, I would be ill-advised to mention this detail.

‘A.M., can I explain to Ryan why he can see me?’ I continued in silence.

‘Yes, Serena, that will not be giving too much away.’

‘Why can he see me, A.M.?’

‘You held the intention to be seen, just as you did when we entered your favourite coffee shop in London. God listens to clear intentions, Serena.’

‘Thank you, A.M.’

‘You are most welcome, Serena.’

‘A.M., Ryan wants to know where he stands in regards to being my protector. Is his family’s promise now complete? But if I tell him he’s off the hook, will he feel a failure? After all, he thinks I’m dead because he failed to protect me.’

‘Tell Ryan, God had His reasons which led to your death, and he is not to question why. Suffice to say, you are forging ahead with God’s plan for you, and he can help.’

‘How can Ryan help, A.M.?’

‘All will be revealed at the relevant time, Serena.’

I sighed loudly before muttering, ‘Of course.’

‘Are you OK?’ Ryan’s voice came at me from the left.

‘Yes, thank you, Ryan.’

I had one more question for A.M. which I speedily asked, as I was aware we were nearing our destination.

‘Can I tell Ryan why Hope is tangled up in all of this?’

‘Yes, God has no objections to you telling Ryan. Out of politeness, though, please check with Hope first.’

‘Thank you, A.M. As always you’ve been a tremendous support.’

‘It is what I am here for, Serena.’

As Ryan pulled up outside The Plaza Hotel, Hope called her thanks as she dashed out of the car, undoubtedly aware she didn’t have long before her dinner reservation. I ran after her, mumbling in Ryan’s general direction I would be straight back.

‘Hope, wait up,’ I cried as I caught up with her in the foyer.

As A.M. had advised me, I asked Hope for her consent before I explained to Ryan her involvement with the British Secret Service. I was careful to add it would be helpful to be able to be honest with the human lie detector.

I also apologised for already letting slip she spoke to spirit. However, I pointed out as far as Ryan was concerned Hope may well be a fraudster, in which case giving him the facts would exonerate her in his eyes. I don’t know if it was her desperation to get back to her suite to change into suitable attire to dine in the Oak Room, as she hastily gave me her consent before once again racing away.

I returned to Ryan who had sensibly kept the four-wheel drive motor running; after all his hunters were only feet away. Once I was seat belted in (perhaps a waste of time given my honorary angelic status), he drove away from the bustling hotel entrance to a more private spot. When he stopped the engine, I began.

‘Ryan, you asked me some questions; let me try and answer them for you.’

He remained quiet so I launched into the detail I was safely allowed to share.

‘You can see me because it’s the best way I can help you,’ I started.

‘Even though you’re dead?’

‘Yes.’

‘What did you mean when you said being dead was a “minor technicality”?’

‘My goodness, you do pay attention.’

‘What appears to be insignificant detail can mean the difference between life and death in my game,’ he sincerely explained.

I smiled before answering, ‘I understand, but I can’t comment just yet on the “minor technicality” part. What I can tell you though is God wishes for you to know I still need your help. In what capacity, I can’t say at the moment. Please be assured, as soon as I know anything further you will be the first person I tell.’

‘Great,’ he said with his tone of sarcasm clear.

‘You wish to know Hope’s involvement?’

‘Yes. Are you allowed to tell me?’

Ignoring his mockery I directly responded, ‘I’ve already mentioned Hope speaks to spirits. What you don’t know is she helps the Metropolitan Police and the British Secret Service. Recently MI6 called upon her skill to help them . . .’ I looked at his already strained face aware I was going to add to the hardship it had endured, ‘capture you,’ I finished quietly.

He looked nearly as astounded as he had earlier in Central Park.

‘God is clear MI6 will not catch up with you, Ryan, so please take some comfort in that knowledge. He prevented the usual spirit guides who help Hope in communicating with her. Needless to say, MI6 are not impressed.’

‘By shielding me won’t Hope get herself into trouble?’ He failed in his attempt to sound his normal, confident self. Instead his voice was understandably tinged with disbelief and insecurity.

‘Potentially, but that isn’t for you to worry about.’

‘With respect, it is my concern if Hope gets herself in too deep over me. There are some nasty characters in MI6.’

‘God will take care of Hope, Ryan. He has sent me to watch over her, and I have God’s greatest protector watching over me.’

‘What is Hope doing in New York?’

‘Intelligence told MI6 you were here so they flew Hope over hoping she may get a read on you.’

‘They must really want me. Is Fagan Hart with her?’

‘Yes, along with his brothers.’

‘Cain and Caldwell are here too?’ he asked loudly.

‘Yes,’ I simply answered, not sure if I dared to tell him about Hart senior. I couldn’t help but think if he got agitated over the Hart brothers, what would he do if he knew Lucifer was out to get him?

‘MI5, MI6, and the Metropolitan Police have banded together, which means Cain, Fagan, and Caldwell Hart are working side by side on the pretence you’ve infiltrated all sectors of law enforcement.’

‘That is a ludicrous suggestion,’ Ryan said in disgust.

‘It fitted their brief, and has given them the opportunity to unite their forces legitimately.’

‘Why do they feel the need to frame me, Serena?’ He sounded dejected and as tired as he looked.

I turned my body to face him, whereupon I empathetically said, ‘Don’t worry, Ryan. God won’t let anything bad happen to you.’

‘Thank you, but you haven’t answered my question,’ he said with renew resolve.

I wondered if I should tell him the truth. When I didn’t hear A.M.’s voice to the contrary, I hesitantly started to try and explain.

‘Ryan, do you know why your family became my protector?’

‘Yes.’

‘Enlighten me, please.’

‘Great, great, great, great, great (I forget exactly how many “greats”) Grandfather Joshua Bartholomew Scott vowed to honour God and renounce the Devil. God rewarded Grandfather’s loyalty by honouring our family with the task of being the protector of the Daughter of Eve, which in fact is you. This enraged Satan who has been plaguing my family ever since.’

‘I’m glad you mentioned Lucifer.’

Ryan gave me a curious look, but he remained silent so I could explain further.

‘Lucifer has been pulling the strings for some time now in an effort to silence you. When his attempts failed, he settled on discrediting you.’

‘WHAT!’ His drawn features, which had managed to retain their beauty despite his ordeal, contorted. ‘The Devil is behind Fagan’s fabricated evidence?’

‘Yes.’

He looked crest fallen.

‘Why and how?’

‘You’re the last surviving Scott in the male bloodline. Lucifer wants to banish all trace of the Scott family, even though he thinks he has nothing further to fear from me, the Daughter of Eve that was prophesied to redeem or eliminate him.’

‘Did he hurt you, Serena? Is that why you’re . . .’

‘Dead.’ I finished his sentence for him rather than leave him awkwardly lingering over the word that suggested one’s being was finished and gone forever; which couldn’t be further from the truth. Being dead, albeit temporarily, had shown me there was much more to look forward to once one’s physical life was at an end.

‘Lucifer didn’t have me murdered, if that is what you mean.’

Ryan’s eyebrows raised a fraction, but he didn’t interrupt.

‘From what I’ve heard he did try, but it was a misfortunate accident that got me in the end. One Lucifer was very pleased about. He has also tried various roots to rid himself of you, Ryan. I’m sorry to say the Hart boys have been prominent in all of his strategies.’ I paused before thoughtfully adding, ‘I’m not entirely convinced Fagan has been acting willingly, though.’

‘You think Cain and Caldwell have?’

‘I’m undecided, especially where Cain is concerned. I must admit, I’ve also witnessed events that have also made me question Caldwell’s actions. He seems so nice, however, that may be the deadly ace he plays. Charm and sophistication will do much to win over even the most careful.’

‘Well when you know, do me a favour and let me know. I’ve learnt it’s far better to know who one’s enemy is, even if he turns out to be the ultimate adversary, and I would say there is no one worse to disconcert than Lucifer,’ he explained.

‘Try not to lose any sleep over what we’ve discussed, Ryan.’

‘Ah sleep; now there is a novel idea,’ he smirked.

I laughed before answering, ‘You look like you could do with a good night sleep. I can call upon a friend and arrange it,’ I said as I thought about Archangel Raphael’s healing abilities.

‘Thank you, Serena, but I will be fine.’

‘If you change your mind, let me know. You see no one can do anything unless you consent.’

He looked a little perplexed at this statement.

As I smiled I bid him goodnight.

‘Wait a moment,’ he said placing a hand on my arm to halt me. ‘I will drive you back to The Plaza.’

‘There’s no need. Honestly,’ I said as I sensed he was about to protest. ‘I can arrive there far more quickly by using a different mode of travel.’

The puzzled look returned to his face.

‘Night, Ryan. I will see you tomorrow to arrange your journey home.’

‘Serena, one last question; how did you find me?’

‘God led me to you, of course.’

‘Good. I thought for one moment I was getting sloppy.’

I smiled. Before he could say anything further, I vanished in my magenta orb.

 

I was going to orb straight back to the hotel to check on Hope. Then I reasoned she wasn’t about to get into trouble over dinner. Besides, I had a whimsical feeling to take in the sights of New York from my honorary angelic, no bounds perspective.

By the time I had finished my exhilarating tourist trail, the hour was surprisingly late. Given I didn’t require sleep in my heavenly form, I ambled through Central Park as I tried to tune myself into the Creator and my angelic guides to gain the wisdom I required for my next step.

I was just asking for guidance on how I was going to get Ryan back to England when I was shocked out of my meditative state by a piercing scream. I immediately focused on being with the potential victim as I instinctively orbed. Within a split second I was standing under a bridge, back in my full honorary angelic uniform with Hope a foot away from me.

A grotesquely formed giant with an unhealthy greeny-grey, boil erupted complexion, who looked as if he belonged in a horror movie, made a lunge for Hope, whereupon one of his huge, lumpy hands clutched her sapphire free throat and lifted her feet inches from the floor.

I instantly disabled my invisibility and shouted, ‘Hey, Ugly. In the name of God, put her down, NOW!’

Simultaneously, my magenta aura flooded the scene, transforming the dark and foreboding landscape to a vibrant sunset. The shabby dressed monster didn’t appear to like the light my aura created, as he dropped Hope at once, treating her like an unloved rag doll, and used his hands to shield his deadpan eyes before he lumbered off, in ill fitting shoes, into the darkness of the bushes.

With the immediate danger gone, my aura deactivated as I attended to Hope who didn’t appear to be breathing. Remaining surprisingly calm, I summoned Archangel Raphael who blessed her with his healing hands.

Within seconds of Archangel Raphael’s first aid, Hope coughed and spluttered her way back to consciousness.

As her baby blue eyes opened and she looked up at me, she managed to say, despite her croaky voice which was compliments of her near strangulation, ‘What happened?’

‘I would say the British Secret Service is on to you. Do you think you can stand?’ I asked knowing full well, thanks to Archangel Raphael, Hope was most capable of standing.

‘I don’t know. I think so,’ she replied as she considered her predicament.

‘Good. Come on then. The hotel is no longer safe for you.’

‘What do you mean “the hotel is no longer safe”?’ she asked as she quickly spun herself to mirror my seated position.

‘Do you remember anything about what just happened, Hope?’

A pained look formed on her face as she thought.

‘I was walking back to The Plaza,’ she shook her head, ‘and the next thing I remember is waking up with you peering over me.’

‘It’s probably just as well,’ I muttered to myself, aware being near strangled to death by a boil covered ogre was conducive to nightmares.

‘Serena, what is going on?’

Hope’s look of concern almost had me feeling sorry for her.

‘Hope, please just trust me. We can’t go back to The Plaza.’

‘Where are we going to go then?’

‘I don’t know yet.’

‘What do you expect us to do in the meantime?’ she agitatedly asked.

‘I’m confident all will become clear very soon.’

‘OK,’ she softened, ‘but I must get my clothes first.’

‘No, Hope it’s too dangerous.’

‘Serena,’ she called my name harshly, all traces of her bruised vocal cords gone. ‘I’m not leaving my make-up. Either get me back to The Plaza or I will make my own way there.’

I weighed up the options. Was Hope bluffing? Her face told me she wasn’t, so I reluctantly helped her to her feet. Linking arms with her to ensure she stayed upright after the ordeal she’d seemingly forgotten, we walked back to the hotel.

We entered Hope’s suite as quietly as we were able, and dared to illuminate our path with a lamp which was positioned the furthest away from the potentially hazardous windows. I didn’t want to think about the consequences if Hope was seen, so I began to throw her predominate winter wardrobe she’d brought to New York into her suitcase to enable us to vacate the premises as swiftly as possible. Hope, it seemed, was unsatisfied with my packing technique, as she removed, then inspected, before neatly folding each item I had already dealt with. Once she had a pile of several garments which she’d painstakingly stacked on her bed, she placed them delicately into her suitcase.

‘Really, Hope. I don’t think you understand the urgency of the situation.’

‘Then try explaining it to me.’

Her cool reply could have made a lesser honorary angel flip.

‘There is no time, Hope.’

She continued as if I hadn’t spoken.

Exasperated I said, ‘Hope, your life is in jeopardy.’

She dropped the sweater she was folding and turned to me, eyes wide, mouth gapping.

‘What do you mean, my life is in jeopardy?’

‘Does that statement not suffice? The longer we stay here at The Plaza, the more danger you’re in. The quicker I get you away, the more chance I have of saving your life. Do you comprehend?’ I added when her stance didn’t match that of a person who had just been told they were in mortal danger.

Slowly, much to my relief, her expression changed to one of suitable concern.

I was just congratulating myself for getting through to her when her whole demeanour changed and she said in a rhetorical, blasé manner, ‘Don’t be so ridiculous, Serena; who would want to murder me?’

Inwardly I counted to ten before I responded, ‘OK, Hope. I can see you’re not going to do this the easy way. Let’s just sit down and talk about what you can remember about this evening.’

‘I thought you were intent on leaving the hotel before the assassin drops by?’

‘Hope, I wish for you to leave. I’m already dead so I have nothing to fear. Besides, I can orb myself out of danger, whereas you . . .’ I shrugged as a false, smug smile formed on my lips.

Despite the mention of the possibility she could come to serious harm, Hope stubbornly settled herself on the chaises lounge she’d favoured when I tracked her down only that morning.

She entwined her fingers of both hands which she glanced towards as she told me, ‘I remember jumping out of the car and hurrying into the hotel. You caught up with me in the foyer and asked if I minded you telling Ryan my secret, even though you had already let slip I speak to spirit.’

I nodded in agreement while wondering at the same time whether the mention of my slip was Hope’s attempt at a subtle jibe.

‘Then I ran to my room, and by some miracle I made it down to dinner on time where the three brothers were waiting for me.

‘After dinner Cain asked me to take a stroll with him. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, we ended up in Central Park.’

‘Cain wasn’t with you, Hope, when I found you.’

She frowned, as if she was struggling to think, before agreeing, ‘No, he heard a noise and went to investigate. Everything else is a blur after Cain walked off, until, that is, you came along.’

‘What did you talk to Cain about?’

‘We chit-chatted mainly.’

‘What about over dinner?’

‘Much the same. There was no real substance to our conversation; it was small talk,’ she explained, ‘I guess they didn’t want the Oak Room diners to hear her Majesty’s secrets. Wait!’ Her pupils dilated as she recalled, ‘Cain commented I wasn’t wearing your amulet.’ She leapt from her seat and fetched it from the bathroom before explaining, ‘It was soapy after my shower so I took it off to clean it. Then there was a knock at my door. Curiously, there was no one there when I went to answer it. I must have forgotten to put your sapphire back on.’

Odile’s name immediately came to mind as the culprit. I suspected she had hexed Hope so she forgot her amulet of protection. How on earth Odile knew Hope had taken it off in the first place though, was a mystery to me. If I had to guess, I would hypothesised from my conversation with Ophelia that old magic was used. Still, I was annoyed at Hope for being so foolish as to remove the sapphire in the first place, particularly after everything that had been said to her by A.M.

My exasperation was clear in my tone as I said, ‘You can’t take it off again, Hope. Not until this drama is over. Do you understand?’

She nodded.

‘Did anything unusual happen this evening?’

She squinted as she struggled to recall.

‘Actually, I was at reception ordering a morning paper when the doorman approached me. He said, “The lady you were with earlier looked uncannily like Serena Lewis.” As you can imagine, I was flummoxed.’

I was feeling a tad bewildered myself, but let Hope continue without interruption.

‘It seems he has seen a poster of you. Your parents have distributed them to build awareness of the charity they have set up warning people of the dangers of cosmetic surgery.’

‘WHAT! MY PARENTS HAVE CIRCULATED POSTERS WORLD WIDE, AND THERE’S A PHOTO OF ME ON THEM?’

‘Yes, your graduation photo,’ Hope answered awkwardly.

I was furious. All thoughts of Hope’s endangerment completely left me as I stamped and cursed my way around her room. I think I could have gone on all night if it wasn’t for A.M.

After my first circuit of Hope’s bedroom, he called to me, ‘Serena, this is all an illusion remember. There will be no posters, so please do not worry.’

I stopped and looked at Hope who had left me to rant unhindered. Her eyes were downcast, but what struck me as odd was she had a greater look of concern at my outburst then she wore when I told her an assassin was gunning for her.

‘You must get Hope to safety,’ A.M. reminded me.

‘I apologise for my behaviour, Hope,’ I said calmly.

‘No problem,’ she muttered.

‘Now, we really must get out of here.’

She stood up, flung her remaining clothes in to her suitcase, and after zipping it shut, all of which took less than a minute, she said, ‘I’m ready.’

 

The only place I could think to go was to my protector. We left the hotel unencumbered, only stopping briefly in the entrance hall at my request so Hope, who was fairly reluctant after my earlier rage, could point out the doorman who had told Hope about the stupid posters my parents had distributed throughout the globe. Then hailing a taxi, we directed the driver to the daughter of the President of the United States house.

It was ridiculously late so I left a reluctant Hope loitering in the grounds with my sapphire as her protection as I orbed into the house to find Ryan.

I found him (although not before I had entered several empty bedrooms in my search) in a large ensuite bedroom, sitting on a black leather sofa, staring into space. His blonde hair, which I felt a strong urge to run my fingers through, was sculptured into a swept back style courtesy of his now absent bandana.

‘Do you ever sleep, Ryan Joshua Scott?’ I asked as I appeared directly in front of him.

Although there had been a fleeting startled look on his face, his torso didn’t betray his surprise.

‘Do you, Serena Olivia Unity Lewis?’

‘Not anymore. There’s no need when one is dead. Eating or drinking isn’t essential either. But I did enjoy a rather fine café latte the other day.’

‘So there would be no point taking you out on a dinner date?’ he casually flirted with me.

‘No, I suppose not,’ I answered somewhat thrown off guard. Regaining my composure I commented, ‘You have nerves of steel, Ryan.’

‘It comes with the training as one never knows when an attractive spirit will suddenly appear, dressed in jeans and leather,’ he joked as his tired face relaxed into a soft smile.

As I reflected on Ryan’s words, I glanced down at my angelic uniform and was shocked to see once again it had been replaced by the attire I had been wearing when I met with Ryan earlier.

‘What brings you to me at this late hour, Serena? Not that I don’t welcome a visit from you at any time,’ he quickly added.

All of a sudden I remembered Hope in the garden.

‘Hope was in trouble, so I had to get her away from The Plaza. Can she stay here?’

‘Is she OK?’ Ryan asked with concern in his voice.

‘Perfectly, despite her whining to the contrary; I left her outside you see, which she was not keen on given the lateness of the hour, and she may be getting a tad cold.’

‘I will go and get her,’ he said as he jumped up from the sofa and silently vacated his room, reappearing several minutes later with a shivering Hope.

Gallantly, Ryan allowed Hope to have his bed. She fell asleep within minutes, which was a blessing as per my prediction she did indeed whinge, leaving me to explain to Ryan, who had settled back next to me on the sofa, what had happened after I had left him.

‘She doesn’t remember the ogre?’ Ryan asked, without any hint of concern that we were discussing a mythological creature that was roaming freely in one of the worlds greatest parks.

‘No.’

‘Maybe that’s just as well.’

‘Yes, the same thought had crossed my mind.’ I looked deeply into his exhausted face. ‘Ryan, you really should get some sleep. Please let me help you?’

He didn’t protest as I beckoned for him to lay down with his head on my lap. Calling upon the grace of Archangel Raphael to help me encourage Ryan into a relaxing, deep slumber, I instinctively soothed his forehead with my fingertips, and was granted my wish to stroke my hand through his hair. With the loving help of Archangel Raphael, it wasn’t long before Ryan too had fallen into what I suspected was his first deep sleep in a long time.

Hope was the first to wake, and she did so with enough noise to alarm the entire house.

‘Serena, I’ve remembered,’ she screamed sitting bolt upright.

Ryan, who woke abruptly to the sound of Hope’s screech, in true military fashion jumped up, fully alert within a split second.

‘Cain overheard the doorman talking about you, Serena. I’m sure of it. When I turned around he was standing there, and it was after this he asked me to go for a walk. There was a . . . a . . .’ she took a deep breath, ‘monster in Central Park. He attacked me!’

She was shaking and sobbing. I went to comfort her, even though there was still a part of me that didn’t feel it was right to console the woman who had stolen the love of my life. But somewhere deep within me, I had a strange feeling that Hope’s home-wrecking didn’t matter to me quite as much as it had not even twenty-four-hours ago.

‘Don’t worry, you’re alright now. You’re perfectly safe here, Hope,’ I continued as her sobs kept cascading.

I rubbed her back as she rested her forehead on my shoulder.

‘There, there, there,’ I soothed as I thought how strange it was my jacket was not the slightest bit wet despite her tears gushing down on to it like Niagara Falls.

Ryan excused himself, returning shortly afterwards with strong coffee and hot croissants.

As I sipped the delicious espresso, I asked without any conscious effort, as if the Divine had planted the thought at that very moment, ‘Ryan, I don’t suppose you know if the President is making a trip to England anytime soon?’

‘Err . . . I don’t know. What made you ask that, Serena?’

‘I think I might have just been given our ticket home.’

Chapter Twenty Two

The Divines Protection

 

‘I don’t understand,’ Ryan said as he fixed his gaze intently on me.

‘Do you remember me telling you God has entrusted me with your safe return to England?’

‘Yes.’

‘Do you also recall me saying the details aren’t always entirely clear to me until the time for clarity is called for?

‘Yes.’

‘Well, this is one of those times.’

He looked even more perplexed at my attempt to make him understand.

Hope, who had been pretty quiet up to this point piped up, ‘I’m afraid you’ve lost me too, Serena.’

I considered how I could make it simple for them both.

‘OK,’ I said as I had an idea. ‘God wants both of you to return to England, naturally unharmed. Hope, there is no way you can fly back on your comfortable charter flight at the expense of the English tax payer with the Hart brothers, agreed?’

‘Of course I can’t. They tried to get some big, scary monster to permanently silence me,’ she answered near hysterically. And then composing herself she added, ‘The Harts have probably found out by now their pet ogre failed to finish me off, a fact I’m sure they are furious about. At the very least they are bound to have put out an all points bulletin on me. I’m afraid you have two fugitives on your hands, Serena.’

I processed her response before turning to Ryan.

‘Ryan, there is no way you can travel home without being arrested, agreed?’

‘Agreed,’ he answered.

‘Well actually, that isn’t quite true.’

His confused look magnified.

‘We can all travel safely home on Air Force One.’

‘WHAT! ARE YOU MAD?’ Hope shouted.

Ryan remained quiet. Nevertheless, the look on his face left me in no doubt he agreed with Hope.

‘No. I’m acting on God’s orders.’

I silently asked God to stop me if I had misunderstood His instructions. When no such command filtered through I continued, ‘I’m positive if you ask Evie she will tell you her father is flying to England in the next day or so.’

‘Well even if he is, how does that help us? We can’t stowaway on Air Force One. We can’t buy a ticket, and even if we could, it still doesn’t mean I can bypass immigration without being apprehended.’

‘Ryan, all I know is this is God’s wish for you. God wants you to ask Evie to help us organise this flight.’

‘I think that might be pushing my friendship with Evie too far, Serena. And even if it isn’t and she agrees to help, I can’t see her father approving your plan.’

‘It’s not my plan, it’s God’s plan, and all this negativity isn’t conducive to a positive outcome, Ryan.’ I gave him an authoritative look. ‘I’m sure if you ask Evie she will help and if you trust in God the President of the United States will give us a lift home.’

Neither of my charges looked convinced. In fact, their respective expressions told me in no uncertain terms they thought my idea was completely ludicrous and they were seriously questioning my sanity at that precise moment. Still I didn’t relent.

‘Ryan, I know you think I’ve lost the plot, but if you don’t ask Evie, I will.’

He noticeably jumped at that idea.

‘I will ask her, Serena. Please tell me one thing though; do you have any more information such as: am I supposed to sit opposite the President making small talk, or perhaps I’m meant to advise him on matters of national security. Maybe I’m getting above my station and God wants me to make myself useful and serve the President canapes?’

‘No, that’s Hope’s job.’

‘WHAT?’ Hope demanded.

‘Ryan, God wants you to suggest to Evie her father provides you and Hope safe passage home in return for service. Hope will act as an air stewardess and you will be the President’s bodyguard.’

‘Are you mad, Serena?’ Hope challenged me.

Ignoring Hope’s disparaging comment, I addressed Ryan and said, ‘The sooner you ask Evie the better.’ My eyes averted to the door to indicate I meant now.

‘Right, I’ll do it this instance, shall I?’

‘Great idea,’ I said practically shoving him out of the door.

Left alone with Hope, she once again voiced the concerns they both shared.

‘I do so hope you haven’t lost it, Serena. With all due respect, this idea of yours seems utter madness.’

‘It’s not my idea, Hope. God takes full credit for this plan.’

She didn’t look persuaded.

It was an hour or so later before Ryan came back to Hope and me. We were still cocooned in his bedroom, patiently waiting his return. Even though I knew Evie had to have said yes, I expectedly looked at him.

‘At first Evie wasn’t sure her father was flying to England, and I could tell from the look in her eyes she thought my idea was complete idiocy. Still, as testimony to our friendship she telephoned him and it’s all arranged.’ He had a look of awe about him as he continued. ‘I don’t know how you managed it, Serena.’

‘I didn’t, Ryan. As I keep reminding you both, it’s all God’s work,’ I calmly reiterated.

He shook his head as he told us, ‘We will meet the President of the United States at Joint Base Andrews, a military facility where Air Force One is kept, tomorrow at zero three hundred hours.’

‘Great, get as much rest as you can between now and then,’ I instructed. ‘I’ve a feeling it’s going to be a bumpy ride, and it may not be any smoother once we’ve landed back in England.’

 

We left at ten o’clock that evening in the heavily tinted privacy glass rental car Evie had hired especially for Ryan to embark on our journey home. Hope, who once again occupied the back seat, had been banned from using her phone in case the Hart brothers traced her. Resourcefully, she’d commandeered the untraceable phone Ryan had acquired to search for information to help her with her disguise as an air stewardess. She occasionally muttered something out loud from the array of training tips she was reading online, much to my annoyance.

In an effort to distract myself, I asked Ryan, who was seated at the steering wheel with his red bandana in place, the question I had been anxious to know the answer to ever since I learned he was hiding out at the President’s daughter’s house.

‘Ryan, how do you know Evie?’

‘I’ve known her a while. After college Evie went on a sabbatical of Europe. I was on leave from the Royal Marines and was enjoying an unusually reckless, albeit fun, weekend in the west end of London.’

I tried to imagine the exceptionally trained killer sitting tamely beside me out with some friends for a social drink. I could have easily been the one to have fatedly met Ryan in a London bar as my colleagues and I celebrated an important win. Molly and I would have harmlessly flirted with Ryan’s crowd, and then . . . God only knows where our journey would have ended. But I guessed God didn’t destine the Daughter of Eve to meet her protector over cocktails. I was brought back to the moment by Ryan’s voice which was starting to become comfortably familiar to me.

‘Evie and her travelling companion ventured into the bar my marine buddies and I were frequenting. I was never any good at talking to girls, but with my courage fixed with spirit I approached them. Nothing romantic ever occurred between Evie and me, although we both knew there was something extra special about the purely platonic connection which had formed between us.’

I was surprised how relieved I felt to know Ryan had never been physically involved with the President’s daughter.

‘How often do you two hook up?’ I not entirely innocently enquired.

‘Not as often now the responsibilities of adulthood has been bestowed upon us, but the length of time bears no consequence when a friendship is true. I knew without hesitation Evie would help hide me, no questions asked, and I also knew the moment I realised I was in trouble there is no one in this world I would trust with my life more than I trust Evie.’

‘That’s a great friendship to have,’ I answered as I drew parallels between Ryan and Evie’s relationship, and Molly and mine.

OK, so I had met Molly at work instead of a bar, but I trusted her more than I trusted anyone else. As I thought about the lack of contact I’d had with Molly since my angelic secondment, my heart hurt.

‘Ryan, does Evie know you’re on the run from the British Secret Service?’

‘Yes. I’ve always been truthful with Evie, and no matter how bad it gets that will never change.’

‘Was Evie honest with her father?’

‘I was there when she made the call. She asked him to trust her. She said it would be difficult for me to get back home if I was travelling without his protection. It did sound like he asked some awkward questions, but Evie assured him I had done nothing wrong. She told him I was a good guy and I needed to get back to England to clear my name. The President must trust his daughter’s judgment because he agreed.’

‘You’ve never met him?’

‘No.’

‘How did she explain Hope’s involvement?’

‘She said Hope had inadvertently got tangled up in the situation when she’d tried to help me. Although, I could only hear Evie’s side of the conversation, it seemed to me the President wants to keep his daughter happy so anything she requests he is going to do.’

‘Yes, girls can have that effect on their fathers,’ I said as I smiled, knowing full well how I could easily get my own way with my father. ‘Did you tell Evie about me?’

Ryan considered his answer before tactfully responding, ‘Some things, Serena, are beyond explanation.’

‘I will take that as a, ‘NO’.’

‘It’s not as if I purposely kept you a secret from Evie. I just didn’t know how to explain your existence. Outside my family no one knows our history and the game we have played to keep Lucifer from harming you, except the other pawns. I feel God wants to keep it that way, so I haven’t intentionally kept it from Evie. I’ve done what I feel is right by God.’

I thought about Ryan’s answer as we travelled the remainder of the journey in relevant silence.

Ryan kept the speed of the cruiser strictly under the limit so as not to attract unwanted attention from the authorities. With comfort breaks we arrived at Joint Base Andrews exactly one hour before our scheduled time. I had the distinct feeling Ryan had planned our arrival down to the last second, giving him ample opportunity to scout around the accessible parts of the base to map out an escape route if the necessity arose. I had urged him to trust in God. Still, I acknowledged old habits are sometimes hard to break, particularly when one’s life was at stake.

At precisely three o’clock, Hope and Ryan accompanied by an invisible me reported for duty. When they were separated I honesty wished God had given me the ability to be in several places at once. Lacking in this power, I chose to be with Hope, believing she was my primary charge. Plus it did cross my mind it was inappropriate to spy on Ryan as he changed, no matter how much I wanted to.

Hope was then begrudgingly briefed by the very attractive, late twenties head air stewardess on decorum aboard Air Force One, while a smooth shaven, sun bespectacled Ryan (even though the sun was yet to rise), who was suited all in black apart from his crisp, white shirt which highlighted his bandana void, blonde hair, was put through his paces.

At a quarter to five the official, Presidential, armour plated, State car pulled up alongside Air Force One. As the President stepped out of the American manufactured limousine, Ryan stood protectively beside him, looking every bit the American Secret Service agent he was impersonating. When the President boarded Air Force One with Ryan closely behind, I took this as my cue to orb on board.

I had felt very clearly I was to travel on the aircraft with Hope and Ryan. But as I had never held my orb shape for so long, I hoped I could manage the seven hour journey. The thought of involuntary materalising in front of the President didn’t bear thinking about, as no amount of explaining would suffice.

Hope tentatively cared for the President as naturally as if she’d been an air stewardess all her working life, which didn’t go unnoticed by the head air stewardess who cattily remarked that the dyed blonde would be seeking to take over her role if she didn’t look out. Hope pretended not to hear the remark, but I could tell by the hurt look on her face she’d picked up every word. I almost felt sorry for her, notably when the hired helped took a coffee break in which they clearly ousted Hope.

Midway across the Atlantic Ocean, Hope discreetly called out to me. I was very tempted to ignore her, deeming she wished to complain about the treatment she was enduring at the hands of her colleagues. Somehow, I dutifully overrode that impulse, and keeping my invisibility intact I whispered to let her know I was with her.

Much to my surprise, far from whining, Hope told me she’d started to feel a sense of foreboding she couldn’t shake. At first she dismissed it, but the intensity grew so ferociously, she felt she needed to tell me in case it was of importance. As she voiced her concerns she had a vision that stabbed painfully at her temple, and would have floored her if Ryan hadn’t quite by chance stepped by and effortlessly steadied her.

In Hope’s insight, she saw a three headed dragon rise out of the Atlantic Ocean and attack Air Force One when the English coastline was visible. Not wishing to cause alarm, I sent my two charges back to their posts with the reassurance I would take care of everything, and then I yelled with all my might for A.M. who appeared to me instantly.

Inaudible to all, I told A.M. about Hope’s sinister feelings and the premonition which had followed. After tentatively listening to me, A.M. instructed the Angels of Hope to escort Air Force One until we had safely landed.

At first they argued it wasn’t in their job description to act as minders, but once God stepped in, the cherubs obediently took their positions to create a three deep protective circle around the high status aircraft. With their weapons drawn, and their collective aura’s that shielded us and our immediate perimeter with a defensive white blanket, I knew even if we came under attack from a powerful mythical creature we wouldn’t come to any harm. Still, I couldn’t help feel apprehension when I first glimpsed the shoreline of home.

The angels, who had been guarding us to the complete oblivion of all the others on board, reacted to my anxiety by increasing their defense with the appearance of a clear impenetrable force field which encased the President’s airplane until it landed without incident at London Stansted airport.

As Hope disembarked, I lightly touched her shoulder and said, ‘Don’t be alarmed, Hope, it’s only me, Serena.’

‘I don’t understand,’ she whispered. ‘We didn’t suffer any substantial turbulence, let alone a three headed dragon.’

‘Let’s not worry about that now. I need to make contact with Ryan and get you both to a safe area.’

‘Where are we going?’ she asked.

‘Honestly, I’ve no idea. But, I’m certain all will become clear when the occasion deems it necessary.’

I orbed to Ryan, keeping Hope within my sight. He was still flanking the President so I didn’t think announcing my presence was appropriate. Instead, I bided my time and remained alert, scanning the area for any apparent threat that could harm my charges, which was a challenging task given that the area was swamped with police and secret servicemen. Quite fortuitously though, all of the security personnel, of which Ryan was one, were on high alert for acts of terrorism, so took little notice of one of their own, and given that Ryan was in such close proximately to the President, all of which had been arranged by Evie, he received privilege status so wasn’t required to submit his counterfeit United States of America passport.

After I had seen Ryan safely through immigration, and he’d accompanied the President to his armour plated limousine, which was identical to the one he’d arrived at Joint Base Andrews in, Ryan was debriefed and then fully discharged from duty.

I left him changing back into his civvies with instructions Hope and I would meet him by the taxi rank. As the last remaining taxis were hired by weary travellers, my tall, blonde, bandana clad protector appeared. I had manifested so Hope and I could converse without alarming the passersby, who would have otherwise assumed that Hope was talking to herself. As Ryan joined us, he once again congratulated me on a highly successful mission given its impossibilities, and I yet again reminded him it was God’s operation and not mine.

As distracted as I was by my handsome charge, I turned to Hope who was being unusually quiet, especially as I had expected her to complain to Ryan how hideously hard her job had been compared to his, and not all because of the hours spent on her feet. Terror struck me as I saw her baby pink telephone light up. Ryan and I had explained to Hope the consequences of using her telephone, so I couldn’t believe she’d been so foolishly irresponsible.

‘NO!’ I screamed, oblivious to the stares I was attracting. ‘I knew I should have taken it away from you. Do you want them to find us?’

I was going to keep ranting, but something in the expression on her face stopped me.

‘Serena, they have my parents,’ she cried.

Chapter Twenty Three

The Holy Confession

 

Hope looked disconsolate.

‘What do you mean “they” have your parents, Hope?’ I asked in a softer, kinder, more suitable tone.

My compassion did nothing to alter her despondent face which glistened with the moisture of the large tears that had overflowed from her terrified eyes on to her white, blood drained cheeks.

She showed me the text on her telephone screen which read; Hope, where are you? Your mother and I have been questioned at home by the British Secret Service. They say you absconded with a known traitor. They are keeping us under house arrest. What’s going on, Hope? Love Daddy x

Ryan peered over my shoulder to read the words which had devastated our companion.

‘I must go to them, Serena,’ she forced herself to say through sobs.

‘No, Hope. It could be a trap.’

She looked stunned at my statement which temporarily halted her tears. With a hint of fury in her voice she replied, ‘My father wouldn’t trap me, Serena.’

‘Don’t you think I know that? I’ve worked with your father for a number of years’ now, don’t forget. I know he’s a man of utmost integrity. I say it could be a trap, Hope, because it’s possible your father was forced to send that message or someone else used his telephone to concoct the story,’ I said somewhat exasperated.

‘I don’t care. I must help them, Serena. Don’t you see; they’re my parents,’ she said as she desperately tried to make me understand.

‘I know, Hope, but think for a moment. Clear your mind of the raging emotion that is currently controlling you and think. How can you help them if you walk into the snare the Hart brothers have set to trap you? You will be under house arrest too, and then you will be powerless to help your parents.’ When this ceased to jolt her back to her senses I added, ‘Or worse still, they may throw you in to the Tower of London for being a traitor.’

She looked momentarily horrified. Then mildly composing herself she asked, ‘Do they still do that?’

I comfortingly touched her arm as I said, ‘Hope, no matter how hard this is for you, you can’t go to them.’

‘I must, Serena. With or without your help, I must try and get my parents out of this mess.’

She hailed the lone taxi which was pulling on to the rank and gave him the London address of her parents’ house some thirty miles away.

I huffed and then prayed, ‘Please, Lord, help us!’ I whispered as I stepped into the taxi after Hope.

Ryan didn’t hesitate as he followed me.

As the taxi took us voluntary nearer to the enemy we had flown nearly three and a half thousand miles to escape, I questioned Hope in an attempt to make her see how insane her actions were; but not before I had closed the privacy glass between us and the driver, and requested that A.M. protect our conversation from prying ears.

‘What’s the plan, Hope?’

‘The plan, Serena, is to get my parents out of this jam.’

She looked at me as if I had asked the most inane question.

‘Who’s to say you charging in will help your parents, Hope? MI6 may well intern you all if you don’t give them what they want?’

‘My father is a highly successful and influential solicitor, Serena. MI6 wouldn’t dare to cross him. And even if they did, Mr. Collins or Mr. Jones would represent us.’

‘MI6 will bury Collins, Harper, and Jones Solicitors in red tape, Hope. It could take months’, if not years’ to prove your innocence. And in all honesty, if MI6 want to make an accusation stick, only God has the power to stop them. Look at what they have done to Ryan.’

‘Of course,’ Hope said as she swung her body to face Ryan who was sitting diagonally opposite her. ‘You can help them. Hand yourself over and my father will fight your case and ensure your name is cleared.’

‘HOPE! Haven’t you been listening to a word I’ve said? Ryan can’t surrender to MI6. It’s not God’s plan,’ I nearly screamed as I struggled to control the agitation Hope was causing me.

‘What’s going to happen to my parents if he doesn’t?’ she asked anxiously as she fought back her tears. When neither Ryan nor I answered her, she grabbed his hand and pleaded to his better nature. ‘Help me, Ryan, please?’

Ryan shifted awkwardly in his seat, but he didn’t make an attempt to remove his hand from Hope’s clutches.

‘Everything will work out, Hope. We must stick to God’s plan and then all will be well,’ I answered on Ryan’s behalf, far more calmly than my previous words to her, the harshness of which didn’t befit my honorary angelic status.

‘And what does the Lord want us to do next?’ she asked with a hint of disdain.

I waited for the Divine to answer. When no answer came I responded honestly, ‘God hasn’t informed me of our next move yet.’

‘So how do you know God doesn’t want us to go to save my parents?’ she asked with obvious distress.

I posed the question to the Almighty. Again I heard nothing back.

Ryan, who had been immensely quiet from the moment he entered the taxi, suddenly broke his silence.

‘If my opinion counts for anything,’ he looked directly at me to check he wasn’t speaking out of turn.

My expression neither encouraged nor discouraged him, so he tentatively continued.

‘I say we support Hope and go with her to her parents’ house. I can make an assessment once we’re there and form a plan on that basis. If in the meantime God orders us elsewhere, we will abort the mission.’

‘NO!’ Hope cried so forcefully that the taxi momentarily swerved as the driver, who had been oblivious to our plotting as he happily listened to the radio in his compartment, jumped. ‘We will see the mission through. We’re talking about my parents, Ryan. How would you feel if it were yours?’ she asked indelicately as she threw his hand away from her with the manner of someone who had been electrocuted.

Choosing to keep his parents’ fate from Hope, Ryan merely answered, ‘That’s the best I can offer, Hope.’

He looked at me for support.

‘I agree with Ryan,’ I said without hesitation.

Hope pulled her face into a contentious look, but she didn’t protest further. In fact, she remained in silence, albeit sulkily, until we pulled up in front of two large black wrought iron gates. Each gate had a word written in a flamboyant, yet tasteful gold curve, which when the gates were closed formed the name, Little Court.

The taxi driver stopped directly in front of the entrance, partially pulled back the glass divide and shouted, ‘You want me to drive through, Love?’

‘No, that’s OK, thanks. I can’t open the gates from here,’ Hope explained.

‘Actually, Mate, can you drive around the corner, please?’ Ryan requested as he held up a hand to Hope before she could object and override his instruction.

As soon as we were out of the taxi, Ryan went to work. He scaled the wall surrounding Hope’s parents’ house; although not before he gave us orders in his beautifully refined voice not to leave our post.

As Hope and I waited, I noted how much the snow had melted since we had been in New York. The roads were completely clear. In fact, the only visible clue to evidence it had recently snowed was the occasional pile on the streets where the gardeners of the wealthy neighbourhood had cleared the large driveways, and the odd patch on perfectly mowed lawns.

As I studied the surrounding area, Hope became restless.

Ryan had barely been gone five minutes when she announced, ‘Serena, I shouldn’t be waiting around out here when my parents are being held . . .’ she paused. Her face contorted as she swallowed. ‘Hostage in there,’ she pointed in the direction of the house which was obscured from the street.

I sighed as I thought I wasn’t equipped to be Hope Harper’s therapist, and then I replied, ‘Hope, let Ryan handle this. After all, this is his field.’

‘Hostage negotiation skills aren’t Ryan’s forte, Serena. He’s secret service, not part of Scotland Yard’s elite Hostage and Crisis Negotiation Unit.’

‘That may be so, Hope. You can’t argue though, Ryan is far more qualified to handle this situation than either you or me.’

Suddenly the angst look Hope had been carrying around was replaced by one of optimism.

‘Serena, you have clear communication to God. Couldn’t you just ask Him to free my parents and put an end to this nightmare?’

‘Hope, God’s Timing is exact, so don’t fear, your parents will be freed at precisely the right time. In the interim, it would do you and the situation the power of good to pray to God for your parents’ safe release.’

‘SAFE! DO YOU THINK THEY ARE IN JEOPARDY?’ she yelled.

I sighed yet again before planning my carefully thought-out answer. Before I had the chance to respond, a recognisable voice called my name.

‘Serena! Oh my goodness. Is that really you, Serena?’

I whirled around to see my best friend practically on her knees. Her right hand was fixed to her briefcase, but she raised her free left hand to cover her mouth which was distorted through shock.

‘It is, isn’t it? Thank God,’ Molly screamed as she managed to stand herself up-right again.

And then dropping her briefcase, she ran the remaining few steps which separated us with her arms out stretched to embraced me.

‘How can this be?’ she asked in an almost inaudible tone as her voice was muffled by my leather jacket.

I didn’t know what to say. This wasn’t meant to happen. Only Hope and Ryan where supposed to know about my angelic existence. I turned back to ironically gain some moral support from Hope, only to find she’d vanished.

‘Where did Hope go?’ I asked Molly.

She answered with a confused expression, ‘Hope, you mean Hope Harper? I don’t know, Serena,’ she said without waiting for my reply. ‘I didn’t see Hope.’

‘You didn’t? She was standing right behind me. We were talking as you called.’

‘No, Serena, I never saw Hope.’

‘What are you doing here, Molly?’

‘Mr. Harper left a message to say he wouldn’t be in the office. I have some important documents for him to sign.’

She held up her hand which had previously contained her briefcase. In recognition her briefcase was no longer in her possession she looked around for it with a trace of panic on her face. After reclaiming the discarded documents, the kind, carefree expression I was use to Molly wearing resurfaced as she completed her story.

‘Mr. Collins asked me to travel to Mr. Harper since it was not feasible for him to get into work.’

‘Do you know the reason behind his absence?’

‘No, no one seems to know at the office, and I haven’t been up to the house yet. I drove up to the gate in my, I mean your Merc, and was poised to buzz myself in when I heard you. What’s going on, Serena?’

‘Have you been authorised to go into the house, Molly?’

‘I guess so.’

‘Is Mr. Harper expecting you?’ I rephrased my question.

‘He told me not to come. When I said Mr. Collins had insisted, he relented.’

‘Good. Shall we go in then?’

She seemed thrown by my suggestion which was acutely evident when she spoke. ‘Err . . . you’re coming too?’

‘Yes, I think I will. Molly, there’s just two things; firstly, I think we should leave my Mercedes outside the grounds; and secondly, if all of a sudden I disappear, please don’t be alarmed, and please don’t draw attention to the fact.’

‘OK, Serena, but will you please explain to me what is going on? I went to your funeral for goodness sake, and I cried a million tears over your death. So how can you be standing here before me looking amazing and so full of life?’

‘I promise, Molly, I will tell you as much as I can at the first available opportunity,’ I said sincerely.

Placated for the time being, Molly and I walked to the Harper house entrance where Molly announced herself on the intercom. Mr. Harper’s shaky voice admitted us, just before the iron gates swung open.

We walked up the long, winding, gravel drive to the house. Molly casually chatted while I scanned the grounds for potential trouble. However, I couldn’t help marvel at the creative landscaped garden which wouldn’t have looked out of place in heaven.

It was a mix of vibrant colours, including various shades of luscious green which garlanded the many bushes and trees that had been carefully planted to create a neat effect without being militant. Several water features were advantageously positioned for maximum decorative and calming stimulation; including a fountain which though was of a lesser magnitude than its counterpart at Piccadilly Circus, London, nevertheless, the Greek God of Love stood magnificently at the top of the drive adjacent to the substantial, mossy green door with its gleaming bronze fixtures.

I was also struck by the grandeur of the Harpers’ house, a reaction due not only to its imposing size. The clean whitewashed building had four fairytale turrets. A large central stone balustrade balcony that was interwoven with fairy-lights protruded over the wisteria adorned main entrance, and Juliet balconies, also with unlit fairy-lights, graced the remaining upstairs French doors.

As Molly pulled the bronze doorbell, I stayed back, semi-screened by the bay tree sentinels. A petite, pretty, long haired brunette opened the door and beckoned for Molly to enter. When I stole in alongside the professionally dressed Molly, my presence, and I suspect my un-business like attire, didn’t go unnoticed by the scrutinising maid.

‘This is a colleague of mine,’ Molly’s demeanour and tone made it clear no more explanation was on offer.

The maid shot an aloof look in our direction before showing us into Mr. Harper’s study.

‘Mr. Harper will be with you shortly,’ she announced in a sharp pitch just before she left us with the door ajar.

I promptly closed the wooden white door before turning to Molly who had made herself comfortable on a brown leather chesterfield sofa.

Seizing the moment of privacy, Molly demanded, ‘Now, Serena, tell me, what’s going on?’

‘Oh, Molly, where do I begin?’

‘At the beginning of course.’

After I had swapped seats with Molly so I could keep a watchful eye on the door (I hadn’t come all this way to be uncovered by MI6 or an unsuspecting Mr. Harper), I attempted to explain; although not before I had asked Archangel Metatron to ensure I had enough time to give my best friend a full account before Mr. Harper showed up. As an afterthought I also asked A.M. to protect the door so Molly and I weren’t inadvertently disturbed.

Sensing my inner turmoil, Molly asked, ‘Was it a life insurance scam, Serena? Had you gotten yourself into financial strife and needed the money? Why didn’t you tell me? I could have helped you,’ she said without any hint of judgment, yet sadness at my lack of faith in her hovered over her words.

‘No, Molly. I didn’t fake my own death.’

‘Then what happened?’ She looked relieved I hadn’t committed fraud, but at the same time she sounded frustrated that she still didn’t understand.

‘Everything I’m about to tell you is strictly confidential, and you’re not to repeat a word to another living soul. Is that clear, Molly?’

‘You know I won’t, Serena. When have I ever passed on top secret stuff?’

‘Never,’ I smiled before launching into my epic tale, which I was in no doubt Molly would believe.

‘The beginning it would seem stems back many millennia and involves karmic ties between Hope Harper and me that are so complicated, it appears more sensible for me to start in this millennium.’

‘OK, you can tell me about the historic complicated karmic ties later,’ she said without any suggestion that she was at all surprised at my revelation.

‘Sure, but it will need to be much later when there is more time, Molly.’

Disappointment darkened her face; although she remained unusually quiet, waiting patiently for my explanation.

‘You dropped me off at Make Me Perfect.’

‘Correct.’

‘It was supposed to be a routine operation, but apparently I inherited a heart defect from a cousin of mine which was overlooked by the nurse who was responsible for my welfare, all because the angel who is responsible for her fell asleep.’

‘Oh my God,’ Molly said in excitement, with total confidence that no matter how farfetched my story was, I was telling the truth.

‘I’m glad you brought up God, Molly. He was most apologetic for the Divine blunder, but before He could, or would more like, rectify the mistake, He wanted me to do a job for Him. He told me mankind was relying on me, so it was kind of hard to say no. Besides, He promised me several bonuses for my aid which made it an attractive offer.’

‘What bonuses?’ Molly demanded to know.

‘Let me see; a symmetrical cleavage, which means I won’t have the loan I took out to pay for my boob job; and did I mention I can have my pick of eligible young men. All of this is on offer to me once I’ve completed my task and God has returned me to life,’ I smiled.

‘Wow!’ Her eyes widened as she expressed her wonderment.

‘My sentiments exactly.’

‘What’s the job?’

‘That was a sticking point to begin with. Do you remember when that large, extremely wealthy woman with the curly, red flaming hair that clashed horribly with the orange designer coat she insisted on wearing, point blankly refused to negotiate any kind of settlement with her husband, even though she was the one that cheated?’

‘Yes, I do. She’d foolishly overlooked prenuptials despite only inheriting her father’s money on her wedding day.’

‘Exactly. Her downfall was that she hadn’t viewed all possible circumstances before she agreed to be tied in holy matrimony, all because her eyes were on the main prize.

‘My problem was much the same. I agreed to help God in my excitement of even boobs and winning Rupert back from Hope, because I didn’t ever think my mission would involve Hope Harper.’

‘Hope’s involved?’ Molly shrilled.

‘Worse than that; I was assigned to protect her.’

‘OH MY GOD! Protect her from what?’

As I poised myself to disclose all to Molly, two white turtledoves landed on the window ledge of the large, double glazed, sash window that enjoyed a spectacular view of the vast grounds Little Court occupied. I dismissed the occurrence as a coincidence, not believing they could be the same birds that landed in my square as a forewarning and a buffeter of evil.

‘It transpires Hope speaks to spirits, quite successfully it seems. The Metropolitan Police and the British Secret Service have used her talent on more than one occasion, and hired her again to find an agent a senior MI6 operative is claiming has committed treason. However, that is not the truth. Lucifer is the cause of the evil here, so God has waged a war on him for attacking God’s innocence with me as some sort of Angelic Spy.

‘In God’s plan to keep the agent safe, He blocked Hope’s communication with spirit. Because Hope was no help to MI6, and I must say she did make a few unnecessary waves even though I did warn her not to, she became expendable. I was assigned to keep her safe, which hasn’t been an easy feat as she is far more difficult then I could ever have imagined. Even now we are only here, risking life and limb, well OK I’m not exactly although I’m sure you follow my meaning, at Hope’s insistence.’

‘How exciting,’ Molly said with a look of awe.

‘I’m glad you think so. I on the other hand have had enough. I’ve absolutely no idea where Hope is and nor do I know if the secret agent is safe, who ironically happens to be the earthly protector God assigned to me in my capacity as the Daughter of Eve.’

As I finished my sentence, several things happened simultaneously; I started to feel seriously unwell; I heard Molly’s muffled voice comment I had turned a worryingly shade of green; the room span and I knew I had to lie down before I passed out; there were shouts outside the window and angry male voices. I thought I heard Ryan’s distinctive accent among them; Mr. Harper opened the door to his study and said in a tone he was trying to keep even, but had an undercurrent of fear, ‘Good afternoon, Molly. I’m sorry to have kept you waiting. I was unavoidable detained.’

Chapter Twenty Four

The Healing

 

I was spinning. My ears were full of pressure from the great gusts of wind that surrounded me. The explosion of air uncomfortably whipped my hair around my face and sent my cloak, which I had involuntarily changed back into, into a frenzied struggle with my body. So much so my magenta robe couldn’t decipher whether it wanted to mummify me or strangle me as it fitfully rotated from embalming me to tearing upwards where it replicated a hangman’s noose.

For the first time since I was awarded honorary angelic status I was cold; freezing in fact. I tried to shut my eyes to protect them from the rage of the airstream, but my eyelids were frozen wide open. I was unaware of time as my torment sent me in and out of consciousness. As I prayed for death Archangel Azrael came for me.

I lay motionless in Archangel Azrael’s arms. His white aura flooded my own and brought with it a sense of peace from the fear which had threatened to consume me. I now felt nothing other than gratitude; although I couldn’t express this emotion as the ability to speak had abandoned me as soon as I entered the chasm. Even my eyes had lost their skill of communication as they remained unnaturally still, wide, and emotionless.

Very tenderly, Archangel Azrael placed me on a soft surface, so soft in fact I couldn’t help remember the last time I had been blessed to feel such luxuriousness. On that occasion I had been preparing to enter the Karmic Board’s Temple. As I lay, bathed in Archangel Azrael’s light, I wondered if the same fate awaited me now I was back in the room of feathers.

I heard voices; voices I recognised talking about me, not to me.

‘I’ve done all I can. As you know God did not gift me with healing, Archangel Michael. I retrieve the dead and console the bereaved. Serena is thankfully, as of yet, neither.’

‘Thank you, Archangel Azrael. I can take it from here,’ A.M. said as his cobalt aura began to replace the white. With it a sense of healing occurred somewhere deep within me.

‘She is very weak,’ Archangel Azrael commented on his assessment of me.

‘Yes, I believe I am going to need the expertise of Archangel Raphael, and probably Jesus too.’

A lump formed in my throat as the magnitude of the problem became apparent; if Jesus was being called upon, I must be in a bad way. But my body, still rigid from the extreme cold, refused to move so the lump was stuck. For how long for I didn’t know; although I prayed it wouldn’t be too long as the obstruction it caused was making it difficult for me to breath.

I heard A.M. greet Archangel Raphael, and there was a third voice. A voice which was so familiar to me, yet I knew with certainty it wasn’t from any earthly memory. As this voice spoke of my treatment, a wave of calm washed over me.

‘We need God to perform this healing, for only His mercy can free Serena from the binds of the abyss.’

‘Will He, Jesus? Will He forgive her for breaking the ancient ruling that He Himself imposed, for no one is ever meant to come out of the abyss?’ Archangel Raphael asked.

‘Of course He will, Archangel Raphael. However, it will be up to Serena whether she accepts His mercy,’ the familiar voice of Jesus answered.

‘She will. I am confident she will,’ A.M. spoke. He added, ‘She must for mankind needs Serena Olivia Unity Lewis more than she dare realise.’

‘This is so, Archangel Michael, but whether or not Serena Olivia Unity Lewis fulfills her prophecy is a choice for her soul, and not even God Himself can make that decision for her,’ Jesus offered.

‘I AM so proud of you, My Son. You always speak the truth even when kinder words can bring much more artificial comfort. For it is written in My ancient text that honesty will set the soul free, if the soul will only listen and have faith.’

‘Thank you, Father. As You can see, Your daughter is in a coma of sorts, the kind that can only be inflicted by the abyss. Archangel Michael is confident she will receive Your mercy and recover. I will pray that she does indeed accept the glory of Your Divine Love.’

‘I will pray also, for no one has ever fallen into the abyss before so this is unchartered territory,’ God informed the shocked three.

‘Haven’t they?’ the three chorused.

‘No. Serena is the first, and I must say I do very much hope she is the last.’

Silence fell. I was aware someone held my right hand. It felt warm and sent embers of heat slowly up my arm. Steadily the warmth intensified and began to circulate throughout my entire being. Unhurriedly at first, but little by little it began to build momentum and speed.

I then became aware of flashes of colour; gold predominately interspersed with blue and green. The sparks electrified my body and jump started my heart making me feel somewhat human again, as opposed to a frozen statue with a heart of stone. The lump in my throat was obliterated once the rays of healing light reached it, which left the way clear to my head. As my brain was fed God’s Divine Light, my intentions became insightful; I, Serena Olivia Unity Lewis had been given a task to complete and no abyss was going to stop me. I would save mankind even if mankind didn’t want to be saved. But to do that, I had to get my body to agree with my brain and work just as efficiently.

I willed the healing to my extremities. This completed the circuit leaving my entire body and soul buzzing with exhilaration. As my eyes focused properly for the first time since I had left Molly in Mr. Harper’s study, I found A.M. standing to my left side.

‘Serena, you are back with us,’ A.M. smiled.

‘Hello, A.M. Hello, God,’ I said as I my eyes flickered to my right. ‘Thank you for my healing.’

I started to sit up and saw Archangel Raphael who had been grounding me with healing energy directed at my feet.

‘It’s lovely to see you again, Archangel Raphael. Thank you also for blessing me with your healing abilities.’

Lastly, I focused on a smiling face which had been standing behind me, but was now moving to stand beside God. I hadn’t encountered this face last time I was present in heaven. Nevertheless, it was as recognisable to me as my own face, so without hesitation I said, ‘Hello, Jesus. I am so very grateful to you.’

God spoke first, ‘Serena, My child, we are all so very pleased you have decided to join us,’ He said with his hand still firmly wrapped around my own.

‘We are,’ Archangel Raphael echoed.

‘I am honoured to officially meet you, Serena,’ Jesus said as he bent low into a bow.

‘And I’m blessed to finally meet you, Jesus,’ I said as I returned Jesus’s courtesy by tilting my head a fraction. But even though I was only propped up on to my elbows, the movement made me dizzy, so I quickly had to lay my head back down on to the feathers before I fell down.

‘You have had some very powerful healing, Serena. It is natural that you feel light-headed,’ God reassured me. ‘You must rest. When you wake I will be here for you.’

‘Wait! I have a million questions.’

I frantically tried to haul myself back up on to my elbows, but exhaustion overcame me and I barely manage to lift my head.

‘Hush now,’ God said as he gently helped me to lay my head back down. ‘I know you have many questions for Me, but you must rest first.’

‘I thought one didn’t have to sleep when in heaven, God.’

‘One does not normally, but no one has ever fallen into the abyss before. Such an excursion made the healing the four of us bestowed on you imperative, and now sleep must follow.’

God’s wondrous smile, a smile which could easily light up the entire Universe, was the last vision I saw before sleep stole me.

Enchanting trumpeters with glass instruments filled my dream state with heavenly fanfares which seamlessly merged. The peace my personal angelic concert installed in me was a harsh contrast to the fear the abyss held. The only parallel I could draw from my two experiences was time took on a different guise. Just as I was unaware how long I was captive in the abyss, I was also oblivious to how long I was asleep, and there was little point enquiring when I woke due to heavens time being disproportionate to the earthly scale. What was apparent to me though was as soon as the music stopped I woke up; although I admit it may have happened vice-versa. As promised, when I opened my eyes God was by my side.

‘Thank you, Father,’ I sang out as I noted my voice sounded normal and strong, if not stronger than its natural pitch. ‘Thank you once again for mercifully freeing me from the abyss and being instrumental in my healing.’

‘You are most welcome, Serena. However, you put too much emphasis on your perception that I did all the work when in fact it was you who freed yourself from the abyss.’

‘I did! How did I manage that?’ I asked in astonishment.

‘Why, with your faith, of course. You prayed. You may have prayed for death, but that is by far a more favourable outcome over an eternity in the abyss.’

‘So am I now dead? Does that mean I won’t be going home and I won’t get to choose my soul mate?’

‘Do not fear, Serena. You will complete your assignment and then you will return home. I AM very pleased with your progress so far, notwithstanding the rule breaking which led to your exile.’

‘I think my brain must still be numb from the abyss because I don’t understand, God; what rule did I break?’

‘It is easier if I just show you,’ God said as He raised His right hand and waved it from left to right in one long slow stroke, conjuring images of the two of us some time earlier discussing my assignment in the life review room.

We are here in My life review room so I can show you events that will aid you. Before we continue I need to appeal to your soul so it understands all we communicate here is holy and secret, for if you utter the slightest hint to another all may be lost.’ God had narrated to me before I embarked on my mission.

In response, I placed my right hand over my heart and replied, ‘I promise to keep safe all You reveal to me in my position as Your honorary angel, Father.’

Recognition dawned as I shook my head as if to rid myself of my mistake as I acknowledged, ‘I can’t believe I forgot. Evidently I did. I broke my pledge,’ I said with a voice that tailed off with defeatism. I bowed my head and brought my hands to my aching temples. ‘I told Molly, thus breaking my vow to keep all You imparted to me secret. No wonder I ended up in the abyss,’ I finished with frustration as I looked directly to God with sorrowful eyes.

‘I completely understand you have a very strong connection to Molly which overrode the sensible approach you deployed when you applied caution during your liaisons with Hope and Ryan. With that said, the consequences of your breach are serious,’ God informed me as He magically waved His hand in the opposite direction to clear the scene.

‘How much more serious than being consumed by the void can it get?’ I nervously asked.

‘At the moment you confided in Molly a holy secret which was only ever meant to be revealed to a named few, a chain of events was set in motion to reflect the seriousness of the situation.’

I held my breath as I waited for God to tell me what catastrophic occurrences I had unintentionally unleashed.

‘Your parents had been quite intent on keeping your ashes safely stored in an ornamental urn on their mantelpiece. This was necessary given you will be returning to your life. Circumstances changed when you broke My holy secret, for you unwittingly instigated events to blow your existence into oblivion, which is why you ended up in the abyss. You see at the precise time you fell into the abyss, your parents scattered your ashes.’

The lump returned to my throat. I swallowed to clear it before saying, ‘Oh, Lord, that does sound serious,’ I worryingly stated.

‘It is. By the Universal Laws, a counter balance to your rule breaking which befitted your actions had to occur. Using the very laws I sanctioned, My Universe moved time and space to remove you from My Cosmos. That meant your ashes had to go as well.’

‘So am I doomed?’ I was trying to stay upbeat, but given the seriousness of the circumstance my voice betrayed me as it faltered to barely a whisper.

God had said I would return home. Given the multitude of my crime, was that to live an existence damned forever?

I didn’t possess the same knowledge of God’s jurisdiction as I did earthly law, however, I did feel my act warranted punishment. The worse sentence would be to deprive me of my soul mate, a fact I knew God would be well aware of. As I considered this and my observation that God had worryingly failed to mention my soul mate when He assured me I would return home, I had to conclude my analysis was accurate and I would be fated to have the promise of my soul mate revoked.

‘My dear Child, of course you are not doomed. I sent My angels to recover your ashes, and as we speak they are storing them somewhere safe.’

As I heard God’s words, I shook my head unsure whether I could trust my ears.

‘My ashes are safe?’

‘Perfectly.’

‘I can return home and still have my pick of eligible men?’

‘Absolutely. But a word to the wise, if I may. More often than not it is so that the soul has already chosen its mate, so for you to return to life and choose your soul mate is an injustice to your soul. It would be far more advantageous to allow the soul to seek its chosen one.’

‘OK,’ I answered somewhat stunned on how lightly I had gotten away with my unholy deed.

‘Although your “crime”, as you class it, does NOT warrant punishment, there are consequences, Serena.’

I sighed knowing there had to be a catch.

‘There is no catch, Serena. Your words cannot be erased and nor can Molly’s memory. The only course of action now is for you to confess your indiscretion to Hope and Ryan, and ask not only for their forgiveness, but also for their belated consent, for it is their secrets you imparted to another.’

‘What if they don’t forgive me, or they do but they fail to give me their consent?’

‘Then you may end up back in the abyss, so it is in your best interest to make your case convincing.’

I caught my breath. I wasn’t worried about persuading Ryan. Hope on the other hand might be tricky.

Molly and Hope had never been friends, partly because Molly was my friend, and when Hope stole Rupert, Molly faithfully ignored her. However, since my death they’d had reason to communicate, and on the times I had borne witness to their discussions I thought, all considering, they were civil to each other so that gave me cause to feel positive.

I exhaled and tiresomely stated, ‘It doesn’t sound like I have a choice.’

‘There is always a choice, Serena. Now, before I send you back there is one more thing.’

‘Yes?’ I asked more enthusiastically.

‘You may recall the raised voices outside the study window?’

I thought back before my brain had been pulverised by the abyss and replied, ‘Yes, I do remember. Ryan’s voice was among them.’

‘Precisely. The other voices you heard were MI6.’

‘The Hart brothers have returned? Is Ryan OK? I asked with genuine concern.

‘The Hart brothers are flying back at this very moment. The MI6 voices you heard are acting on Fagan Hart’s instruction, and I AM sure you have already guessed that Fagan Hart is being manipulated by Lucifer through his grandfather.’

‘I get the feeling somewhere deep down Fagan Hart is a good guy.’

‘You think correctly, Serena. But what you must remember is Fagan Hart has free will to access the side of him which leans towards My light. Equally, he can remain along the dark and loner path he currently stands on and continue to worship the Devil.’

‘I haven’t made my mind up about his brothers.’

‘Cain and Caldwell can also turn to My light, even though they have favoured the dark longer than their younger brother, and being the older boys more is expected of them from their grandfather who has a strong influence on them.

‘When you return, Serena, leave Molly to take care of Hope’s father while you go to Ryan’s rescue. MI6 will capture him without your intervention.’

‘How am I supposed to do that?’ I asked feeling the pressure mounting.

‘All will become clear.’

‘Then where are we supposed to go, and what about Hope?’

‘All will become clear.’

I took a deep breath to allow the mounting frustration to wave over me.

‘God, why didn’t you tell me about the prophecy you wrote naming me as the Daughter of Eve, and about Ryan’s family being my protectors?’

‘You were not ready to hear that truth, Serena.’

‘I wasn’t ready to hear it from Caldwell Hart, but I didn’t have any option.’

‘Please believe Me, Serena, when I tell you there may never have been a time when the circumstances were such that you would have readily accepted the news. Hearing it as you did after you had some ‘field’ experience made it easier for you to deal with than if I had told you at the start of your training.’

‘Why me? There is nothing special about me. Why choose me as the heroine to your prophecy?’

‘Every soul is special, Serena, including yours, so why not you?’

‘I can’t even hold on to the gifts You bestow on me. I was freezing in the abyss when before that catastrophe the cold didn’t affect me.’

‘Anyone would have struggled to hold on to their faculties when torn from their existence to face the never ending hole of the abyss, Serena.’

‘God, why did I change back into my cloak?’

‘I hoped it may help you remember who you are.’

‘It nearly strangled me.’

‘It wrapped around you and gave you protection also.’

‘Really! I would have hated to have entered the void without it then. That really would have been hell. Talking of which; as the Daughter of Eve you prophesied, what am I supposed to do?’

‘You are doing precisely what you are supposed to be doing.’

‘I am? The Hart brothers said I’m supposed to defeat Lucifer, but I haven’t even met him and I’m not sure I really want to as he sounds so mean. And there was no mention of the Devil in the assignment you set me so are the Harts mistaken?’

‘Serena, do not be concerned, for all will be revealed at the right time.’

‘It will?’

‘Yes of course. Archangel Raziel and Archangel Michael have both told you, My Timing is exact, and this is precisely the right time for your return. I AM so very proud of you, My Angelic Secret Agent Number 444.’

Chapter Twenty Five

The Battle

 

I didn’t get the opportunity to ask any more questions before God unceremoniously catapulted me from heaven back to Mr. Harpers study; although I must say my return journey was nowhere as frightening or painful as my outward bound trip via the abyss.

It was quite surreal though, as everything was exactly as I had left it, including pre-abyss me who was sitting opposite Molly, whereas post-abyss me was standing by the furthest window from the door observing the conversation taking place between Molly and pre-abyss me. I was just trying to decide how to realign my-selves when the commotion I had heard in the garden prior to my abyss adventure erupted at the same time Mr. Harper entered. I took this as my cue to depart.

As I vanished into my magenta orb in supersonic time, my two-selves flawlessly merged with each other somewhere between the study and the garden.

The raised voices were coming from four armed MI6 operatives, unmistakably so given their classically black suited uniforms and crisp white shirts. They were closing in on Ryan who had dodged between the large conifer trees which dressed the outskirts of the Harpers rear garden. With their guns pointed threateningly in Ryan’s direction, I intuitively sensed the agent’s decision to open fire, at what they perceived to be their rogue colleague, hung delicately in the balance.

God had warned me I needed to intervene in order to save Ryan.

Blessed with the ability to invent my best ideas while under pressure, a resource I called on frequently during the many court appearances I preformed in front of judges and life-altering-decision-jury-makers, I calmly dematerialised behind the enemy and assertively stated, ‘The traitor went this way.’

The operatives swung around as I pointed with a white cuffed, black suited arm to the evergreen maze which sat in the centre of the immaculately kept, award winning, designed garden. Without flinching, I glanced downwards and inwardly delighted at Archangel Jophiel’s ingeniousness; although this emotion would not have been read by my four male contemporaries. Mirroring the same attire as the faces I now held captive, I started to run towards my decoy, confident the foe would follow me.

‘He must have doubled back on us,’ one of them shouted as four pairs of feet thundered after me on the carefully manicured lawn.

As soon as I entered the shelter of the labyrinth I orbed straight to Ryan. Dressed in the clothes I was wearing when he scaled the Harpers garden wall, I grabbed Ryan’s arm and didn’t let go until I had pulled him to safety on the other side of the wall at our rendezvous spot. My luck held as Hope was already pacing the pavement as she waited for Ryan and me to return.

‘It’s absolute lunacy,’ she ranted. ‘I didn’t dare allow myself to be seen. Have you seen the gun power those suits have pointed at my parents?’ She didn’t stop to draw breath. ‘It’s an outrage. Who do they think they are? Naturally, Daddy will sue for false imprisonment. Poor Mummy . . .’

‘Hope!’ I grabbed her upper arms and shook her into submission. ‘We need to get out of here. It’s the only way to rescue your parents, Hope.’

She considered what I had said. Then addressing me in a much calmer voice she asked. ‘You have a plan?’

‘God is directing me. We need to get out of here now and preferably fast.’ I huffed. ‘If only I had taken my car keys from Molly we could have made our escape in my Merc which is at the front gate.’

‘We don’t need keys; I’ll hot wire your car,’ Ryan informed me as he turned on his heels and raced towards the entrance.

‘Do you know what you’re doing? Don’t you dare damage my car,’ I warned as I fled after him. ‘I wish Molly was here.’

I directed my plea to heaven as I stopped inches from Ryan whose face communicated he meant business. Even though it was broad daylight, a star twinkled brilliantly down and reflected off the high black gates which pulled my gaze to the figure ambling down the drive, swinging a briefcase in hand. My spirits soared as I realised it was Molly.

‘Hold it, Ryan,’ I shouted. ‘Molly’s on her way back.’

He frozen just before he was able to jam some device he had on his person between my driver’s side front window and the door panel while I pounced on a confused looking Molly as she walked through the gates. Immediately, I commandeered my keys only to have Ryan confiscate them directly out of my hand as I opened my driver’s door.

With an assertive calmness that warned me not to argue he instructed, ‘I’ll drive.’

I darted to the other side of my car and pushed Hope into the back seat so I could take my place next to Ryan. Before I had the chance, Molly shouted, ‘Hey wait for me.’

‘It’s too dangerous, Molly.’ I looked at her with genuine concern. ‘I’m so very sorry. I can’t allow you to come because I would never forgive myself if anything happened to you.’

‘Serena, if you think I’m going to leave you in danger and not attempt to help, think again. That’s not what friends do and you know it.’

I gave her a suspicious look.

‘If our positions were reversed, Serena, there’s no way you would leave me to face evil alone.’

I reflected on her words. Pushing the front passenger seat forward once again, I commanded, ‘OK, get in quickly, Molls.’

Ryan sped away before MI6 realised our escape tactic and had the opportunity to tail us, as I fed our destination into my inbuilt car satellite navigation system.

‘Where are we going?’ Ryan asked.

I didn’t directly answer him as I was still miffed he’d ripped my car keys from my grasp. Instead I turned to Hope.

‘Hope, please send a text to Caldwell Hart telling him to meet us with his brothers and his grandfather at Stonehenge directly once they have landed.’

She nodded her compliance, although she paused before she hit the first key as my words registered with her.

‘Caldwell’s grandfather is dead, Serena. I’ve seen his portrait hanging with the other important past MI6 Leaders in the headquarters boardroom.’

‘Hope, please just send the text. I promise once we are within the sanctuary of the stones I will explain everything.’

 

Traffic had been heavy, and thus slow in London; although we made up time on open country roads and arrived at Stonehenge a respectable two hours after leaving Hope’s parents’ house.

We had an hour to spare before the busy tourist attraction closed for the evening, which gave me ample opportunity to enlighten my three travel companions on God’s plan. I chose a spot where the stones were visible. Sitting down with my charges, I blindly put my faith in God that I would find the right words to apologise to Hope and Ryan and ask not only for their forgiveness, but their retrospective permission to tell Molly everything.

I took a deep breath, braced myself, and began.

‘Ryan, I owe you an apology. I also owe you one, Hope.’

Neither spoke so I continued.

‘Ryan, without first asking for your consent I told Molly about your predicament.’

His eyes, which were more rested than when I had first met him, showed wariness; although he didn’t interrupt me so I carried on.

‘I would trust Molly with my life.’

‘Thank you, Serena,’ my friend responded as she placed her hand on my forearm.

I turned to smile at her before returning to lock gazes with Ryan. ‘Still, I shouldn’t have disclosed your story without first checking you were OK with me doing so, or not as the case maybe. Hope, the same is true for you.’

‘WHAT! You told Molly, office-gossip-extraordinaire my secret?! SERENA! Only two people outside of the British Secret Service knew, and I wasn’t concerned at their discretion since my parents have been privy to, and have protected my secret my entire life. I wasn’t even at all anxious at confiding in the Metropolitan Police or the British Secret Service, in which I include Ryan, even given his unfortunate circumstance, since they are bound by a code of confidentiality. But, I wasn’t banking on your betrayal. You’re a servant of God’s, for goodness sakes. How dare you break my trust?’ she ranted in her disappointed fury.

‘I’m so sorry, Hope.’

‘Hope,’ Molly interceded. ‘I don’t know if this helps any, but I promise not to breathe a word.’

Hope shot her an unconvinced look.

‘I know I have a reputation as a blabber mouth. Rightly or wrongly I only gossip about trivia. As my best friend, Serena knows if she confines in me I will not break her trust,’ Molly finished.

‘It’s true,’ I looked from Hope to Ryan. ‘Molly is an office gossip, but she has never betrayed a confidence when I’ve told her the importance of keeping it secret, and I’ve never stressed a confidence must be kept as I did when I trusted Molly with your clandestine affairs. I know that doesn’t alter the fact I’ve been disloyal to you both, and I’ve no right to ask you to trust me. But trust me you must. Otherwise, I don’t see how we can defeat the evil which as I speak is on its way here to meet us and return you both to your rightful lives.’ I spoke with as much sincerity as I could muster. As I finished, I tentatively viewed their expressions trying to read which way they would react.

Ryan was the first to speak. As he uttered his first syllable, I prayed I was going to like what he said.

‘If you trust Molly, Serena, then that endorsement is good enough for me.’

‘Thank you, Ryan,’ I said with relief, although I still held my breath as I awaited Hope’s decision. She made me wait longer than I would have liked.

After weighing everything up she answered, ‘I still don’t like it. But I reason I shouldn’t have expected loyalty given our history, Serena, and I suppose I really don’t have a choice in trusting you. But, Molly,’ she turned to directly face her. ‘If you ever breathe a word . . .

‘I won’t, Hope. I promise.’

‘Now, Serena, it’s time you told us exactly what is going on,’ Hope demanded in the same defensive tone she’d chastised me with.

‘The Hart brothers’ dead grandfather is somehow tangled up with the Devil. His link to our world is through his portrait.’

Hope gasped at this news, and then with a degree of hyperactivity she bellowed, ‘The package on the flight over to New York . . .’

‘Yes, that was Cain Caldwell Fagan Hart’s portrait, Hope. He comes and goes through this portal as he pleases, infecting our world with Lucifer’s poisonous orders which he instructs his grandsons to carry out. This can’t be allowed to continue. For that reason, God has entrusted me to defeat them, although as of yet I don’t know how he expects me to achieve this.

‘I should have already given you this option, my only defense is I somehow feel it’s important you’re all here to help me defeat the evil that awaits us. Nevertheless, if you think it is too dangerous and you would rather bail, now is the time to do so,’ I said moderately matter-of-factly.

‘Not a chance. I’m in this with you, Serena, to the very end, regardless of the consequences. The Devil doesn’t frighten me,’ Molly expressed exuberantly.

Ryan laughed and said, ‘Molly, I couldn’t have put that any better. Count me in too, Serena.’

That just left Hope, who all eyes were on.

‘If the only way to free my parents is to defeat the Devil, so be it. I’m not leaving until I know they are safe.’

With the confessions dealt with, everyone informed and the last visitor gone from the spiritual site, the time had come for us to put God’s plan into action. The four of us stole into the ancient stone circle where I was Divinely directed to reach into the pockets of the robe God had blessed me with, which I had unwittingly changed back into, although oddly I wore it over my jeans and my magenta Archangel Jophiel designed shirt instead of my white angelic gown. I pulled out a crystal of brilliant translucent white. As I held it up to marvel at its beauty, an angel much larger than the Archangels I had encountered appeared to us.

‘I am Seraphina, the angel who protects the sacred teachings of Stonehenge. You have invited evil to my domain, Serena Olivia Unity Lewis, an act I would normally deny. However, our loving Father consents to this match between good and evil, and He has requested I support you in the triumphant that must be yours, for if you fail mankind will follow.’

Hope and Molly both took a sharp in-breath at this knowledge I had inadvertently kept from my charges. If Ryan was affected, he did a good job at concealing it. As for me; it wasn’t as if I was becoming dispassionate at the news. It’s just I had heard the survival of mankind rested on my shoulders so many times, I was accustomed to the enormity and responsibility of the task.

‘Thank you, Seraphina,’ I said as I bowed to our hostess.

My two female companions stood gawping at the blonde, long haired goddess who floated around the stones as she completed an entire lap of the circle with a grace which defied her immense statue. The white satin robes she wore fluttered lazily around her in the gentle breeze which refreshed the blue and sarsen stones.

As Seraphina once again settled directly in front of me she imparted her knowledge of the crystal I had pulled out of my cloak.

‘You hold in your hand selenite. The selenite crystal helps one clearly connect with the Divine by opening and clearing the seventh chakra known as the crown chakra.

‘When the crown chakra is balanced, one understands the complexities of God’s Universe, yet these intricacies become simplified and thus less daunting.

‘When one is in contact with selenite, conscious awareness of one’s inner truth is apparent, and one knows for maybe the first time in one’s human existence that one is not truly mind or body but pure spiritual essence created lovingly by God Almighty. This gives meaning to the human experience and reminds the soul of the service it came to earth to deliver to enhance its growth and bath God in love; for there is nothing more the Almighty loves than when a spirit is joyously serving another, for the benefits to the Universe are immeasurable.

‘Selenite is a gift from God and so too is the promise of the immense power it bestows on the righteousness.’

Molly, a chakra believer and a crystal convert soaked up Seraphina’s words. When the guardian of Stonehenge had finished imparting her wisdom to us, Molly tentatively asked, ‘Is it OK if I hold the selenite?’ She timidly looked from Seraphina to me with expectancy on her face.

‘There is no need for you to touch the selenite, Molly, for Serena will enclose you all in a selenite grid of protection. In selenites loving embrace you will feel all that God has promised.’

‘I will,’ I said at the same time Molly delighted, ‘You know my name.’

‘God knows all of His children, Molly, and He was truly gracious to pass on this knowledge to me so that I could identify you.’ Turning to address me, Seraphina said, ‘Serena, look in your cloak. In total you will find four groups of four selenite wands, times four.’

I did as I was instructed.

‘You need to use the crystal wands to form a grid of Divine protection. Four is the angelic number and incorporates the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit connected with the Angels. If you place the selenite crystals on the ground, point to point, Mother Earth will further energise them adding to their already colossal strength. Once the crystal grid is in place, we will combine our individual power by sealing the grid with a prayer.

‘Selenite is truly a force to be reckoned with, especially so when placed in the magical circle which forms this ancient site of Stonehenge, so the four of you will be more than well placed to challenge Lucifer.’

‘Lucky I came along after all,’ Molly informed us with renewed confidence. When no one asked her to explain further, she cued herself. ‘Why would I conclude such a thing you might wonder? Well obviously my presence brings our number to four. Didn’t you hear, Seraphina?’ Molly looked at the imposing angel, waiting to be corrected if she’d misunderstood. ‘Four is a Godly number.’

‘So it is, Molly. We are most honoured you’ve accompanied us. Now, help me with this grid, would you?’ I cosseted her.

With Seraphina’s guidance, Ryan, Hope, Molly, and I worked together to carefully position the crystals to form a grid.

‘Perfect,’ Seraphina praised us. Please stand in the middle of the grid, form a circle by linking hands, and repeat meaningfully after me, “We thank you, Lord for bestowing your Divine protection on the selenite grid and blessing us with a selenite shield when we stand among the crystals. Thank you for allowing the love and peace within this holy area to penetrate all those who seek its refuge. Within this ancient monument we honour your work and seek compassion for those who are not able to see your shining light. Amen.”’

As we spoke the profound words of the prayer, my honorary angelic halo emitted my magenta aura which connected with Seraphina’s white glow to immerse the selenite grid, and all who resided within, in a pink blanket of hope, peace, and love. When the prayer was finished silence fell, although my aura remained powerful, so much so it sent us all into a meditative trance. Somewhere within the daydream we had all entered Seraphina bid us farewell.

We were kept safe and protected in the trance until dawn, when the first rays of the sun shone brightly on to the prehistoric stones breaking the spell. I rose to my feet, my aura still flooding the selenite grid, and directed my three warriors to do the same.

‘It is time,’ I told them. ‘The Harts will be entering Stonehenge imminently. No matter what happens you must stay within the power of the grid, and you must stay sheltered behind me.’

Ryan began to protest.

Holding up a firm hand to signal for him to stop I said, ‘Ryan, I understand you and your family vowed to protect me. You’ve fulfilled your obligation. Now, please allow God to protect you through me.’

He nodded his compliance and fell back into line.

We waited for the Harts. I even visualised them walking into the circle accompanied by Lucifer himself. Imagines of horns, a red long spiky tail, and a pitch folk in long fingernail hands plagued me, but still I held my position and anticipated my fate with the knowledge that I had God Almighty watching my back.

The first we knew of their arrival was the shock which replicated an earthquake wave as it vibrated through the ground. My eyes, which shot to the stones that had stood centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ, half expected to see the ancient monument cracked and tumbling, but it remained firmly unaffected. And then I saw the cause of the tremors; flying out of the copse of trees which lay to the south of our position was a red dragon. Four unevenly proportioned heads, each with two terrifying jet black horns, merged into one thickset body, complete with a very long, thick, spiky tail.

‘Have courage, Serena,’ A.M.’s saintly voice reverberated in my head as the dragon circled us overhead.

‘I will,’ I silently answered.

‘Dragons are not impossible to defeat. Remember I successfully fought Lucifer when he turned into dragon form,’ A.M. tried to sooth me.

I didn’t find A.M.’s words as comforting as I’m sure he’d meant them to be, after all, I could hardly compare myself to God’s warrior. However, as the monster landed in the circle of Stonehenge and the selenite grid shot a warning spark of white light beyond my magenta aura to keep the dragon from advancing forward, my faith was strengthen which allowed me to turn my attention to the ordeal that faced me.

The creature looked momentarily stunned at the audacity of the selenite’s attack.

Regaining full composure, the largest of the four heads locked gazes with me and boomed in Mr. Hart seniors voice, ‘Serena Olivia Unity Lewis, I see we underestimated God’s purpose for you.’

For a fleeting moment I was dazed.

Shaking myself back to full awareness, only to struggle to keep my composure as I registered the recognisable features of the Hart brothers in the other three dragon heads, I somehow managed to calmly, yet with authority, respond, ‘In the fairness of honest disclosure, I think it is only right I inform you, I’m surprised at the hold Lucifer has over the Hart family, particularly you, Fagan.’ I looked directly into the burning orange eyes of the smallest head and noted an almost abashed expression. My allies kept stony silence behind me, although I could imagine the disbelief they must be experiencing.

‘You must know this fight is futile, Ms. Lewis,’ Mr. Hart senior spoke again. ‘Lucifer is not in the business of losing. However, he can be merciful. Surrender yourself and Scott and we will let the other two go.’

‘And I, Mr. Hart, am not in the business of negotiating with neither the Devil, nor his henchmen, so I thank you for your offer, but the answer is a resounding, NO.’

Fury flickered across the red face.

‘Then you must reap the consequences,’ Mr Hart roared as fire shot from his flaring nostrils.

Hope and Molly both screamed, unnecessarily as it so happened as the flames didn’t touch us. Instead they hit the wall my magenta aura had formed at the crystal grid boundary and rebounded, scorching the scaly forehead of their initiator along with further sparks from the selenite crystal wands. Mr. Hart roared in potentially both anger and pain, but refrained from shooting any further fireballs our way.

‘Now, I do believe it’s my move, Mr. Hart.’

Without the slightest flicker in my aura, I removed the mediation scroll Archangel Raguel had given me, remembering the Archangel had said I would need to “counsel a colleague in crisis”, which I had done when I read Hope the counselling scroll, and “mediate to protect mankind.”

Believing the mediation scroll was for Fagan Hart, I looked into the confused eyes of the youngest Hart while I read verbatim, ‘“God, the Creator of all that is, all that has ever been before, and all that will ever be, loves you, Fagan Hart. You are a holy child of God, Fagan Hart, and as such you have God’s ability to be loving and merciful, for our Father knows no bounds to His love and His mercy. God promises you, if you live your life in love and mercy regardless of the actions of others, you will be rewarded on earth and in heaven, Fagan Hart.”’

Mr. Hart senior snorted.

Unperturbed I said, ‘I haven’t finished. Caldwell and Cain, the same is so for you. God loves you and He will forgive your past transgressions if you renounce Lucifer,’ I said for good measure.

Then to ensure I covered all bases, I fished three of the laminated, handy pocket size leaflets from my cloak and flung them with pinpoint accuracy so they landed directly in front of the brothers. With bated breath I waited for their response.

Although it felt like much longer, it was actually only a matter of seconds before the relatively small dragon head burst into a puff of smoke and threw out the human body of Fagan Hart.

‘I’m sorry, Grandfather. I’ve chosen to follow God. I’ve had enough of the dark side. If the truth be told I never wanted to follow Lucifer in the first place. I only did it to try and make you proud of me. I now accept no matter what I do you will never be proud of my accomplishments,’ the smart suited figure of Fagan Hart spoke as the now three headed dragon towered over him.

‘Proud of you! Why you sniveling little mummy’s boy,’ Mr. Hart sneered.

But before he could throw any further disparages in his youngest grandson’s direction, Fagan roared as loud as any dragon, ‘DON’T YOU DARE BRING MY MOTHER INTO THIS!!!’

‘I will do as I dam well please, and I will not have anyone, least of all a sniveling little mummy’s boy, dictate my behaviour,’ Mr. Hart retorted superiorly.

In a tyrannical rage Fagan drew his standard issue MI6 firearm from the holster which was concealed under his jacket, all the while shouting, ‘I TOLD YOU, DO NOT BRING MY MOTHER . . .’

But before he could finish his sentence, his grandfather plunged his head low to attack Fagan.

I screamed for Fagan to join the safety of our grid, confident the selenite would admit him after he’d relinquished his evil ways. As I stood firm, unwilling to break my aura which was adding its protection to the three in my charge, I witnessed firsthand the power of God’s love.

Archangel Raguel had told me God had created every soul on the foundation of the counselling and mediation scrolls, therefore, the soul would remember even if the human mind was not ready to hear the loving messages of the scrolls. Yet in spite of my faith, which had been magnified during my honorary angelic experience, I wasn’t expecting what happened next.

Cain and Caldwell, unwilling to allow their grandfather to barbeque their younger brother, pulled backwards, initiating the involuntary rise of Mr. Hart’s dragon head just as a blaze of fire poured out from his nostrils. The inferno, which was intended for Fagan, ricocheted off my aura back to its origin. Due to the ferocity of Mr. Hart’s attack, the flames, together with a firework display the selenite grid had conjured in retaliation, engulfed the dragon in a fire fit for hell.

Blood curdling screams erupted before Seraphina swept in and banished the flames that threatened Stonehenge with a beat of her huge, and therefore, powerful wings. Fagan, who had ignored my offer of sanctuary, and who had dived to retrieve one of the laminated copies of the mediation scroll, was swept upwards into one of the stones that completed Stonehenge by the gale force wind created by Seraphina’s wing beat. He bounced off the boulder like a rubber ball and landed at its base in a motionless crumpled heap with the copy of the scroll in his hand. In front of him lay the charred bodies of his two brothers and that of his grandfather.

Having fulfilled her quest to keep Stonehenge safe, Seraphina vanished once more. As I hesitated on whether to break our grid and go to aid Fagan, Archangel Azrael appeared in a beam of white light. He collected the three Hart brothers leaving their grandfather to the black hooded figure that manifested from the ground, as if by some invisible underground lift. With their respective souls, Archangel Azrael orbed heaven bound, whereas Mr. Hart seniors being of death headed back down to hell, and I guessed a rather furious Lucifer.

Chapter Twenty Six

The Karmic Debt (Continued)

 

With the battle over and the threat stolen away by good in the form of Archangel Azrael, and evil in the long cloaked figure of the grim reaper, I relaxed my aura and turned to my three companions. Each looked a tad paler than normal which was a reasonable response given the supernatural activity they had witnessed. Yet, no amount of danger could silence Molly for long.

‘WOW! Am I dreaming or did that really just happen?’ she asked in astonishment, and then reflecting she added, ‘Serena, where did those men who were formally the dragon get taken?’

‘Yes, where were the Hart brothers taken, but more importantly, what about my parents? If the Hart brothers are gone, who is going to authorise my parents’ release from their house imprisonment?’ Hope asked anxiously; although seemingly without a care that her former colleagues could transform into a dragon at will.

Without answering Hope I turned to Ryan who had remained silent.

‘Are you OK?’ I asked him.

‘Considering what I’ve just seen, yes, thank you, Serena.’

‘Are you sure? All of you have had a shock,’ I stated as I glanced at the four ashen faces that stood before me.

‘Serena, the knowledge that my great, great etc grandfather Joshua Bartholomew Scott was approached by the Devil and God, which is what led to my male relations becoming your protectors, has been passed from generation to generation in my family. If I believe in all of that, what I’ve just seen doesn’t seem that impressive or worrying after all.’

‘You know me,’ Molly took up the conversation where Ryan had finished, ‘I’m a believer in anything strange and unusual, so that was fantastic.’

‘Serena, I talk to spirit on a near daily basis, and if you remember I foretold a three headed dragon would attack us during our flight on Air Force One. It was just a bit late and it had an extra head for a while, at least until Fagan decided to change to the good side. The fact that the multiple headed dragon contained the spirits of my ex-colleagues at the Metropolitan Police, the British Secret Service, and their dead grandfather is unimportant. The paranormal is all in a day’s work for me,’ Hope understatedly answered. ‘Now, what are we going to do about freeing my parents?’ she asked somewhat thwart.

I was just forming a reply when Ophelia appeared.

‘Have I missed the battle?’ she inquired as she bent down to examine the scorched grass where the dragon had fallen.

‘Yes, it’s over, Ophelia,’ I replied.

‘Was Lucifer defeated then?’ she asked suspiciously.

‘No. We fought his henchmen, Cain Caldwell Fagan Hart and his three grandsons.’

‘I thought as much. I am sure no matter where I am I will sense that the evil that is Lucifer has gone from this world on the day you overturn him, Serena. For now the battle is won, but the war is still to be fought; for until you have defeated Lucifer himself mankind is still in peril.’

For a distraction to Ophelia’s words that did little to comfort me, I bent down to dismantle the selenite grid which had served its purpose. Everyone, including Ophelia, began to help collect the selenite which left us unprepared when Odile materialised and shot her crossbow directly at us.

‘Oops, that was meant for you, Ophelia,’ Odile hauntingly sang out. ‘Oh well, at least that’s one less goody two-shoes Lucifer has to worry about.’

Odile broke into rapturous laughter at the precise moment I screamed, ‘MOLLY! Molly, don’t you dare die on me,’ I bawled as I knelt down beside her and took her hand in mine. It felt cold and clammy as her core temperature began to drop.

Ryan started to administer first aid as Ophelia whispered incantations over Molly’s limp body, but it didn’t take a medically trained eye to see my best friend was fading fast.

As I looked up into Odile’s gleeful face I willed myself visible to her as I roared, ‘You will regret the day you hurt my friend, Odile.’

‘Really, will I? What are you going to do, Daughter of Eve to stop me?’ Odile cackled, totally unfazed at my sudden appearance, as she raised her crossbow to aim at me, but at the last moment she changed course and fired directly at Hope.

‘NO,’ I shouted as I instinctively dived in front of Hope, who was several feet away from me, and encased her in my cloak.

The arrow never stood a chance. It bounced off my back and fell to the ground where it lay mangled after its tussle with God’s armour. I spun around and glared at Odile who promptly disappeared.

‘One day, Odile, I will defeat your master, and with his downfall you will perish at my hand,’ I promised.

‘Oh my goodness, Serena, are you hurt?’ Hope screamed as she grappled with my cloak, looking frantically for the site of the arrow’s contact.

‘I’m fine, Hope. Don’t worry about me. It’s Molly we need to be concerned about.’

I looked over to Ryan and Ophelia who were still trying to revive her.

‘You saved me, Serena. That’s something I will never forget. If I can ever help you, all you need to do is ask,’ Hope earnestly thanked me.

‘Don’t mention it, Hope. It’s all in a day’s work,’ I half smiled, without any feeling, as I copied her phrase.

With Odile gone I attended to Molly.

Kneeling by her side I took her hand in mine once more as I cried to heaven, ‘A.M, HELP ME. PLEASE HELP ME, A.M.’

‘I am here, Serena. Molly is in need of Angelic healing. I must get her to the room of feathers. Let go of her hand, Serena, and let me take her to God in heaven,’ A.M. instructed.

‘NO! You can’t take her to heaven, A.M. Only departed souls go to heaven.’ I struggled to catch my breath as my sobs began to flood through. ‘Molly can’t die. She can’t. It’s my fault for allowing her to tag along,’ I howled as I gripped Molly’s hand tighter and flung myself over her, shielding her body for fear A.M. would take her.

‘Serena,’ A.M. called my name softly as he laid his hand on my shoulder. ‘I need to take Molly. It is her only chance.’

I lifted my head and looked directly at A.M. with puffy, wet eyes.

‘She will be OK, won’t she? You can make her better?’ I asked, dreading anything other than a positive answer.

‘By God’s good grace we can heal her, Serena, but it is up to Molly if she wants to stay on her earthly path or whether she would prefer to stay with God in heaven.’

‘Given the choice Molly will choose life; I’m sure of that,’ I stated, but then I began to question my hypothesis. What if Molly decided to stay with God in heaven after seeing the beauty it holds?

As I silently pondered the unacceptable reality that Molly might not be around when I returned to my life, A.M. gently reminded me, ‘Serena, Molly is running out of time. I must take her now.’

I nodded as I lessened my grip on Molly’s blood soaked torso. Without hesitation A.M. swept Molly’s limp body up into his muscular arms and orbed in a blur of cobalt.

‘You had better come back to me, you hear me, Molly?’ I shouted skyward.

‘I am so sorry, Serena,’ Ophelia spoke, jolting me back to the present. ‘I did not know Odile had picked up my presence. I was coming to your aid. Instead, I have made matters worse,’ she said as she bowed her head in remorse.

‘It isn’t your fault that your evil cousin shot my best friend, Ophelia,’ I said with as much sincerity as I could muster. ‘Now, if you would all excuse me, I need a few minutes to myself.’

I wandered off towards the larger stones. As I reached them I clung to one pillar to help support my shaking body as I thought about the events which had tragically unfolded just moments before.

A.M. had told me it would be Molly’s decision if she came back to her earthly life. Knowing the power of prayer I thought it wouldn’t hurt to pray to the Creator to ask Him to petition Molly on my behalf.

I pleaded with Him to make her see she had so much to live for; so much to still do, see, and accomplish. It would be a waste to cut all that potential short. When I had exhausted every possible avenue (I even tried a bribe – Molly could keep my beloved Mercedes-Benz if she returned), I turned my attention to my mission.

‘What now, God? I mean have I completed my task or do I still need to reinstate Ryan at MI6, free Hope’s parents, and defeat Lucifer?’

As I stood, steadying myself on the ancient stone, a flash of white light which clashed with a crackle of thunder wrenched my body from the spot and whizzed me up to heaven.

I was standing before God in his cloud carpeted chambers. He sat regally on His throne with His arms outstretched to embrace me. A beam of sunlight lit His long white hair and bathed His aura in a golden glow.

‘Serena, come to Me child,’ He instructed like any loving father who wished to sooth his distraught daughter.

I obeyed. Allowing myself to be immersed in God’s loving embrace, all sense of unease diminished from my mind and body as God told me how proud He was of me.

Placated, I was able to file my mission report with objective professionalism. But I did have questions for God. The most pressing one concerned Molly. I was also anxious to know if I had managed to save Ryan and Hope, and naturally I was concerned about the status of mankind since Lucifer was still at large.

‘First thing first,’ God said in His gentle voice. ‘At my request, Old Father Time has frozen all planetary movement until the Hart brothers decide their destiny. I need only one to grant Ryan Joshua Scott clemency to clear his good name, preferably Fagan since he is the one who fabricated the evidence to his superiors. Hope’s parents’ incarceration will then cease.

‘Presently, all three Hart brothers are receiving healing and counselling, and of course they will undergo a life review. Then they have the option, just as Molly does, to stay in heaven or to return to earth. No one can make that decision for them, Serena; although you rightly surmised unselfish prayer can help the soul choose.’

‘Why do they have a choice? I thought life was predestined and when one’s time is up one dies. I didn’t realise one can pick and choose,’ I stated somewhat confused.

‘When a soul is incarnated it does so with at least two, but usually three ages the soul can opt out of the human existence.’

‘What do you mean, “opt out”?’

‘Let us say a soul decides to opt out at either the age of 21, 59, or 90.

‘At the age of 21 the soul may have a serious car crash which gives the soul the opportunity to exit the world or stay.

‘At 59 the soul may experience a life threatening illness which again allows the soul to decide to come home to heaven or stay on the earthly plane; or as in your case the body the soul occupies may have a heart defect or another anomaly which could be the cause of the body’s demise at any of the three ages.

‘At either of the first two stages, the soul has to search deep within itself as to what lessons it can learn if it stays on earth, and whether it can cope with the decades in between its next doorway to heaven if it chooses to stay. This is what has happened to Cain, Caldwell, Fagan, and Molly.

‘In our example, if the soul continues to the age of 90, it must depart earth at some point during its ninety-first year. Whether this is through an accident, illness, or natural causes will be dependent on the soul’s needs. If the soul has not learnt all it was meant to, it will incarnate at another time, and may well have several hundred, if not thousands of lives before it has reached enlightenment. For now, with concerns to Molly and the Hart brothers, it is a matter of time.’

Being of an impatient persona I wasn’t completely satisfied. But, when I glanced down and saw I was once again in full honorary angelic regalia, a question posed in my mind which distracted me from the inevitable wait.

‘God, why did I only change into my cloak at Stonehenge and not my gown?’

He chuckled before answering, ‘That is one of the mysteries which will unfold over time. If you continue on the path you were determined to cling to before your angelic experience, then there was no need for me to instruct Archangel Jophiel to omit your gown on that occasion. If you change course there may well be a very good reason why I ordered a variation to the normal honorary angelic attire, so you can wear your gown on another important day when you will take further vows before Me and your priest.’

I was more than a little confused, but I sensed I wouldn’t obtain a clearer answer from the one God had offered so I asked for clarification on another point that was puzzling me.

‘God, why did I have difficulty holding my aura when Freya and I were under attack, but I held it without difficulty all through Stonehenge?’

‘You had had more time to practice your honorary angelic talents so you held a higher level of belief that it was possible for you to keep your protective aura in place. Belief is vitally important in the accomplishment of any deed, Serena. So many of My children are full of self doubt that sabotages their accomplishments. If only they would tap into their Father’s wisdom and belief, then their earthy experience would be full of magic and miracles. Alas, they use their free will privilege to dishonour their magnificence.

‘You had also received healing in the room of feathers from the four universal healers: Jesus, Archangel Michael, Archangel Raphael, and Me. Our combined force made you stronger which enabled you to successfully claim your honorary angelic gifts.’

Satisfied with this explanation I asked my final two questions, both of which involved Hope.

‘God, why was Odile able to fire at Hope when she was wearing my sapphire amulet which was supposed to protect her?’

‘After Opheila used old magic to restrain Odile and prevent her from informing the Hart brothers that you had been at MI6, Odile remembered that she could use the same ancient enchantments to orchestrate events to separate Hope from your sapphire. Without the amulet’s protection, Odile was then able to curse Hope so even when she wore your talisman she would not be immune to Odile’s attack.’

‘Why didn’t you warn me?’ I asked with annoyance in my voice. ‘I mean for goodness sakes, what if I hadn’t dashed to save Hope because I assumed my amulet would?’

‘Every occurrence happens for a Divine reason and in Divine Timing, Serena. The fact that you saved Hope’s life on more than one occasion had to happen so that you can ask me your next question.’

‘You really do know everything, don’t You?’ I said with a mix of surprise and good humour.

‘Your question, Serena, if you please?’

‘How can the karmic debt between Hope Harper and me be repaid? Hope explained the centuries of rivalry between us. We both believe it’s time we put an end to the feud that has plagued us for the past umpteen millennia.’

‘I AM so full of pride at the soul progress you have made, Serena. Repaying your karmic debt will permit you to be unimaginably free to fulfill your full potential and leave your soul cleansed so that one day you will defeat Lucifer. For now you must appeal to the Lords of Karma to clear the Karmic angst between Hope and yourself.’

I closed my eyes and willed myself to the temple where the Karmic Board resided. I felt myself float as light as a feather on a gentle breeze until I stopped before the Great Divine Director and his fellow seven Lords of Karma. Oddly, I felt more confident than I did on my last visit when I had A.M. and Archangel Raphael to hold my hand.

I cleared my throat and addressed the eight giants who were all looking at me with mild interest.

‘I’m in no doubt you know why I’m here. Still, in the interest of courtesy and full disclosure, so there are no misunderstandings, I will verbally ask.

‘I’m ready to repay in full the karmic debt I’ve amounted with the soul Hope Harper. I ask you humbly and sincerely to help me achieve this,’ I said as I looked from one to the other until I settled my gaze on the spokesperson.

After the Karmic Counsel considered my plea, in which they took the meditative Buddhist Monk prayer pose, the Great Divine Director spoke.

‘We can see your heart is pure and you have done much soul searching concerning this karmic debt. Be that as it may, to pass such a request we must first question the other parties involved.’

As I processed the Karmic Lords words, Hope and Rupert appeared in a shimmer of golden light. The two new arrivals, who were paramount to my application, viewed the vast white temple in bewilderment, but that was nothing to the expression they both wore when their eyes picked up the colourful committee seated on large, golden thrones behind a vast, ornate, solid gold desk.

‘Hope Harper and Rupert Maximus Valentine, we The Lords of Karma have brought you here to the Karmic Temple at the request of Serena Olivia Unity Lewis.’

‘Hello,’ I interjected as I awkwardly half raised my hand to wave at the two lovers, who to my delight were standing together more as colleagues than Cupids latest success.

Ignoring my interruption, the Great Divine Director said, ‘Much karma exists between the two souls incarnated as Hope Harper and Serena Olivia Unity Lewis which detrimentally affects the soul Rupert Maximus Valentine. In order for us to relinquish this debt we must first have your consent. Therefore, do you, Hope Harper, give your permission to repay the karmic debt between yourself and Serena Olivia Unity Lewis?’

Hope’s face was mystified, yet she somehow managed to answer, ‘Yes.’

The entire Karmic Board turned their attention to Rupert as the Director asked, ‘Do you, Rupert Maximus Valentine, consent to be released from the shackles the karmic debt between Hope Harper and Serena Olivia Unity Lewis has caused you to be bound to?’

‘Err . . . I’m sorry I don’t understand. What’s going on? One minute I was sitting at my desk working to close an important deal. The next moment everything went hazy and I mysteriously ended up here,’ Rupert said as he looked up at the ornamental, predominately gold ceiling while gently shaking his head in disbelief.

Before anyone else had the opportunity to respond, Hope said, ‘Rupert, a very long time ago Serena and I cursed each other. This has been going on throughout our different lifetimes and has lasted for centuries. Your love and affection is at the core of our rift, Rupert. Serena and I have agreed to bring an end to our feud, but The Lords of Karma can’t consider this without your agreement.’ Hope looked at him with beseeching eyes. ‘Please try and find it in your heart to grant us this, Rupert.’

He looked from Hope to me. For a moment I swam in his delicious blue eyes, reminded of why I fell in love with him in the first place and why I had spent hundreds of years’ warring over him. When I dropped my gaze I was confused to see I had changed back into jeans and my magenta blouse again, even though I still wore my cloak.

‘OK, yes,’ the familiar drawl I once-upon-a-time thought I would hear pledge matrimonial vows to me sounded.

The Great Divine Director nodded and then closed his eyes, an act the rest of the Counsel copied. After all eight had positioned their hands in their customary prayer pose, I was once again fortunate to observe the mesmerising spheres of light float above each Counsel-Members head.

As the lightning contained within the globes sparked to create a current, not only between the eight spheres but also to connect each Lord, Hope whispered, ‘I never believed I would see the Sphere of God’s Consciousness.’

Completely befuddled at her comment, I simply replied in as quiet a voice as I could manage so as not to interrupt the Lords concentration, ‘What?’

‘The spheres above the Karmic Lords contain the consciousness of God.’

‘So?’

‘So,’ Hope answered in surprise to the ignorance she deemed I displayed, ‘The Lords of Karma are holding conference with God in their pensive state. Isn’t it a privilege to witness?’

‘Yes, I suppose it is. I must say though, I’m more preoccupied with the outcome,’ I hissed; and then I bit my tongue for fear I would jeopardized the favourable verdict I was praying for with my caustic response.

Before Hope could reply, the orbs containing God’s consciousness ceased and the Karmic Board returned from their collective trance to enable the Great Divine Director to address us. I held my breath in anticipation of their verdict.

‘Serena. Hope. Despite your obvious dislike for each other, an aversion that has developed over many millennia, you put your differences aside to work for God’s greater good, and it seems your efforts have paid dividends. Fagan Hart has made a decision to make amends for his actions. He will return to his MI6 position where he will immediately instigate a full pardon for Ryan Joshua Scott.’

My whole body sighed in relief as my lips formed into a spontaneous, uncontrollable smile.

‘It is unlikely Ryan Joshua Scott’s reprieve would have been granted if the two of you had not combined forces. With this act of selflessness, the forgiveness you have already shown each other, and not forgetting Serena Olivia Unity Lewis’s heroic action to save the life of Hope Harper, no less than twice, when she confronted Lucifer’s pet ogre in Central Park and then took an arrow for Hope at Stonehenge. All of this combined together with Rupert Maximus Valentine’s consent, and the desire the two of you share to sever your ties and end the curse which has haunted you allows us, The Karmic Lords acting within the boundaries of the Laws of the Universe that God Himself decreed, to announce the karmic debt that has accumulated between you over the years’ has now been repaid in full. Let the Akashic records for all three souls show this.’

‘It is done,’ Vajratsattva, the Karmic Lord responsible for speaking on behalf of the five Dhyani Buddhas, said.

‘Can I see?’ Hope bravely asked the Karmic Board while Rupert looked on thoroughly dazed.

‘You wish to exercise your liberty and see your Akashic record,’ the Goddess of Liberty spoke.

‘Yes, please,’ Hope answered in a less than steady tone.

The Great Divine Director considered Hope’s request before answering, ‘Let it be done.’

With these words of consent, Cyclopea stood, turned with the ease of a figure a fraction of his enormous size before venturing into the library. He entered a different aisle from when he retrieved my records, yet when he returned and placed Hope’s book for the Great Divine Directors inspection, I could see it matched mine in both volume and design.

As the Great Divine Director flicked through the gold edged pages and Hope crept cautiously closer to the object she found most intriguing, I was pulled from the temple back to God’s chambers.

‘What marvellous news,’ God proclaimed. ‘Not only are you, Hope, and Rupert free from the ties that have bound you together from your early incarnation, all of the Hart brothers have agreed to renounce Lucifer. After viewing their life review they have chosen to return to their lives to make amends for their devilish action. In fact, when Fagan returns to MI6, after he has set in motion Ryan Joshua Scott’s pardon, he is going to dispose of his grandfather’s portrait so Mr. Hart senior will not be able to access the earthly plane from that portal.’

‘Presumably he will be able to use a different doorway?’ I asked, though I desperately hoped I was wrong.

‘If Lucifer has other uses for Cain Caldwell Fagan Hart and wishes to send him back through to earth, have no doubt he will find another way. Until the day you defeat Lucifer, Serena, the Fallen Angel will continue to bring evil to planet earth.’

I was just about to ask after Molly when God anticipated my move.

Raising a hand He said, ‘You will be relieved to know Molly has also decided to return. She said you would be hard fixed to find another Personal Assistant as competent as she, and you would never find such a good friend.’ He chuckled. ‘She did add she looks forward to you returning your Mercedes-Benz keys to her and transferring ownership into her name.’

‘The cheeky madam,’ I voiced in outrage.

‘You did promise, and after all, a promise is a promise, Serena,’ God reminded me. ‘Now, it is time; time for you to return to your life. It will be almost as if you never left, with the exception of course of the important and fundamental differences you made to Ryan Joshua Scott, the Hart brothers, Molly ‘Mischief’ Myers, Rupert Maximus Valentine, and of course Hope Harper and yourself. Before you go I want you to know how immensely proud I AM of you, and that I love you very much. I will always be with you, Serena, so never fear. There is someone else who would also like to say goodbye.’

A.M. immediately appeared and wrapped me in his strong arms. My lace cuffed hands didn’t quite reach around his torso, and the hardness of his body armour felt inflexible against my body and cheek. Despite this, a feeling of great comfort and love engulfed me.

‘Thank you, A.M., for all that you’ve done for me,’ I said with tears gushing down my cheeks.

‘Do not forget, I will never leave you, Serena. If you need me, just call me in the name of God.’

Chapter Twenty Seven

The Homeward Journey

 

I was falling; and I will add, not for the first time. But this was different. With every second my momentum was building I was gravitating faster and faster towards the bottom of a brightly lit tunnel.

At first my cloak cocooned me. As my speed increased it hung around my neck making it uncomfortable for me to breathe until it was suddenly no longer there. The disappearance of my honorary angelic gown followed leaving me dressed as I was before my heavenly adventure in my unflattering, short sleeved, stark white hospital gown.

As I entered through the ceiling of the Make Me Perfect hospital’s operating theatre, I was at last able to control my velocity. Without Archangel Azrael to obscure the theatres artwork, I hovered at the gallery level which was unseen from the ground and marvelled at the fine pieces.

As an amateur art collector who relied on specialist expertise coupled with a genuine appreciation for the canvas, I liked to think the acquisition of my own collection had taught me a thing or two about fine art. Casting my critical eye over the four paintings that each occupied one side of the perfectly symmetrical square room, I noted their textures, colours, and vast differences.

There was an English countryside landscape with rolling hills, stone brick walls, copses of trees, and a lone horse with rider galloping over the undulating terrain, with a clear sky overhead. To one side of the countryside scene was a sailboat on a still, bluey-green lake set against a mountainous backdrop, whose dark granite faces were a contrast to the vibrant red sky. On the other side sat a portrait of a distinguished older gentleman dressed in eighteenth century clothes. Lastly, opposite the idyllic English setting was a European city with its brilliant white terraced buildings, all painted from the aspect of the bay which occupied a third of the large canvas.

Before I could make any further observations, my weightless form was wrenched back into my limp, lifeless body which lay in the hands of the medical staff gathered around the operating table.

I could feel the cold resuscitation paddles against my bare skin, as the constant tone from the heart monitor, which I found deafening, suggested I was clinically dead. Still I tried to open my eyes to see for myself, but to no avail as my eyelids were securely taped shut.

Lingering in a place of limbo, I prayed to God.

‘Please let this have a happy ending, Father. I didn’t go through with my mission only to end up dead after all.’

I expected to hear God’s reply. Instead the monitor ceased its signal of death and bleeped to indicate life.

‘Thank you, God,’ said the relieved voice of my surgeon, which I echoed. ‘Let’s get her to the recovery room. Come on, quickly now, but take care to monitor her heartbeat.’

It wasn’t long after this that I was wheeled on a trolley from the operating theatre to the recovery room. Somewhere between me leaving surgery and officially gaining consciousness, I must have blacked out.

The next thing I knew an unfamiliar female voice was calling me back to the awareness of the room. The tape had been removed from my eyelids which fluttered a fraction open, only to involuntary close tightly shut again in a bid to escape the harsh strip lighting.

‘Serena, come on now. Open your eyes,’ the unknown woman’s voice coaxed me in a tone appropriate for an infant, not a successful London solicitor.

I grumbled as I peeked through my eyelids to flash a discerning look in her general direction before I complained, ‘The light is too bright.’ I noticed my voice was different, raspy in fact. I assumed this was from the tube I had seen sticking out from my mouth.

‘How are you feeling?’ the woman in the white nurse’s uniform persisted.

‘Like I’ve swallowed sandpaper in a room full of fumes,’ I replied with annoyance in my voice.

‘OK, let’s get you back to your room where the lighting is more subtle, and I’ll see about getting you a nice cup of tea for your throat,’ she cheerfully sang out.

I didn’t answer.

Several hours passed. I was back in my room where I was thoroughly bored, so I broke several rules by hopping out of bed to retrieve my phone from my black, Stuart Weitzman, exotically embossed, snake leather bag which befittingly looked a little like a doctors medical case. Checking the corridor to ensure I wouldn’t be found out, I sent a text to Molly begging her to sneak in and rescue me. When she didn’t answer I began to worry, but before I could make further enquiries the head of plastic surgeons came to visit me.

‘Ms. Lewis,’ his normal gentle bedside manner had an air of formality about it.

‘Hello, Mr. Devaro. Did my surgery go according to plan?’ I asked a little unfairly, as I knew only too well the complications he’d faced.

His face contorted in a manner which conveyed he was feeling extremely awkward. I couldn’t say I blamed him. After all I was an accomplish lawyer who could make legality threats to sue the hospital for medical incompetence.

‘I’m afraid your surgery was cancelled.’

He looked at me trying to read my reaction. When I didn’t flinch at the news he continued.

‘I’m sorry to report we lost you for a moment.’ Still I didn’t react so he added, ‘We found a defect with your heart which made it too dangerous to continue.’

‘I died because I have a heart defect?’ My voice rose in mock surprise.

‘Yes, but we are very well equipped at Make Me Perfect. We’re prepared for every eventuality, so please be assured we were able to respond immediately,’ he tried to reassure me. ‘I do not profess to be a cardiovascular expert, Ms. Lewi. To this end, I have arranged for you to see an esteemed colleague of mine at St Bartholomew’s. Given the circumstances, I would very much like to transfer you to his care today.’

‘That won’t be necessary, Mr. Devaro.’

‘On the contrary, Ms. Lewis, I think it is imperative.’

‘No,’ I said firmly. Before he could argue further I asked, ‘When can we reschedule my breast reduction, Mr. Devaro?’

His expression changed to one of a man needing an emergency appointment with a Cardiologist, the irony of which I found amusing. Despite his extreme discomfort he managed to find his professional voice and answered, ‘That is dependent on the Cardiologists findings, Ms. Lewis. The nurse will give you the relevant papers when she discharges you.’

‘Will I see the same nurse who presumably overlooked my heart defect when she did the preliminary tests?’ I asked sardonically.

He took a reflex gulp before carefully answering, ‘Nurse Erica James is on duty now. Erica has worked with me for many years’. I’m confident she will discharge you courteously and efficiently. Good day to you, Ms. Lewis,’ he said. Then forcing himself to smile briefly, he turned on his heels before exiting my suite.

By mid afternoon I was discharged. Having failed to reach Molly I hailed a black cab and went straight to Collins, Harper, and Jones, only to find she was absent. Frustratingly, unable to find anyone who knew the reason for her non-attendance, I took refuge in my office to make some telephone calls. As I was about to dial Molly’s aunt, Harry Goodwin entered.

‘Oh, Serena, I’m so sorry to barge in unannounced. In my defense I thought you were out of the office today,’ he said in a fluster.

I ignored his apology and feverishly asked, ‘Do you know where Molly is?’

‘Oh dear me, you haven’t heard.’

‘Heard what, Harry?’ I said with an undertone of desperation.

‘Molly is in hospital, Serena.’

‘WHAT! Why? What happened?’

‘I don’t have the finer details. All the same, there is no need for alarm as I have it on good authority Molly will make a full recovery and is expected to be discharged today or tomorrow.’

‘Poor Molly. Is she in a ward with lots of sick people or a private room?’

I wasn’t necessarily expecting an answer from Harry. He’d already warned me he had limited knowledge. It was more a case of me verbalising what I was thinking.

‘Sorry, Serena, but I don’t have the answer for you.’ He sat down in the chair my client would normally occupy and sincerely asked, ‘Is there anything I can get you, Serena? I know you and Molly are extremely close so this must be a shock.’

I registered his kindness, though he wouldn’t have noticed as thirsty for answers I asked, ‘Do you know, was Molly well enough to telephone the office herself?’

‘That I can answer; no she didn’t. I don’t know whether it was poor health or lack of opportunity that stopped her. You know how awkward it can be to make calls when in hospital. Curiously, since I never saw these two as friends, Hope Harper was with her when she was admitted, so Hope is the one who made the call.’

‘Is Hope here?’

‘No. Apparently there is a Harper family crisis so neither Mr. Harper nor Hope are in the office today. Did you know our esteemed leader Mr. Harper is Hope’s father?’

‘Let’s just say I had my suspicions.’

‘Well that’s more than I did. I must say I was fairly surprised. She’s not exactly driven, is she?’

I smiled as I recalled my experience that Hope Harper should not be underestimated before I asked, ‘Harry, can I arrange to look over the copy of my last will and testament Collins, Harper, and Jones is holding, please?’

I was confident God would have amended my will back to its original status, but I wanted to be certain. Plus, I had the modifications to make, such as the specifications of my coffin.

‘Sure, as long as you appreciate it won’t be any different from the copy I supplied you when we revised your will. When was that; two, three years’ ago?

‘I’m sure you’re right, Harry, and I appreciate the copy I have should marry with the original document. It’s just I have a nagging feeling that won’t be satisfied until I’ve checked the legal proof with my own eyes. Besides, I have a few amendments I wish to make,’ I said as I mentally recalled all of the necessary adjustments.

‘No problem. Send me an email with a convenient date and time and we can go through it,’ he said as he rose to his feet.

‘Thank you. Harry, do you know what hospital Molly is in?’

‘Yes, she’s in St Bartholomew’s,’ he answered before he closed my office door behind him.

I was very near to leaving to visit Molly when Hope stepped into my office.

‘Hi, Serena, I thought I would find you here.’ She looked momentarily awkward as she hesitated on her next words. ‘Do you remember, Serena?’ she spat out, as if the sentence would burn her if she held on to it much longer.

I toyed with the idea of making her wait for my answer, but when I realised she was holding her breath in the anticipation of what I might say, I had second thoughts and quickly replied, ‘Yes, Hope, I remember.’

She sighed with relief as her body visibly responded to the release of tension, before she recovered her composure and sincerely stated, ‘Thank you, Serena, for everything. If it wasn’t for you I would be lying dead in Central Park, murdered by an ogre of all things. And if the ogre had somehow failed to finish me off, then that dwarf friend of the Harts, though I expect she is an ex-friend now the brothers have come to their senses, would have killed me with a bow and arrow.’

‘Elf, not dwarf, and she had a crossbow, not a bow and arrow,’ I corrected.

‘Then that elf would have succeeded where the ogre failed with her lethal crossbow. Goodness knows what would have become of my parents who have thankfully now been released from the custody of MI6. I will never be able to thank you enough, chiefly for instigating the repayment of our karmic debt which has plagued us for eternity. Because of you, all is well, Serena.’

‘Is it?’ I looked at her with wide eyes before I added, ‘You know Hope, now I’m back, I won’t fight you for Rupert because I don’t wish to bring about a new karmic debt. All the same, there is a possibility he will choose me.’

‘I know, Serena. I won’t fight you either. I can’t pretend I haven’t prayed Rupert will stay with me. Ultimately, I respect he has free will to choose for himself.’

‘Then may the best girl win,’ I said with a mischievous smile. ‘Now, if you will excuse me, I need to visit Molly. I can’t believe she ended up in hospital. I thought the angels were going to heal her.’

‘They did, a little too well. I think she collapsed from over stimulation from the healing she received. At least that’s what spirit told me. Please send her my love.’

‘Of course I will,’ I said a little amused that Hope and Molly may finally become, if not friends, colleagues with mutual respect.

‘And, Serena, before you go I have something that belongs to you; your sapphire amulet. It served me well. If only I hadn’t taken it off after I showered then that awful, smelly ogre wouldn’t have been able to touch me. But I’m confused; why were the Hart brothers able to, and why was that dwarf, I mean elf, able to shoot at me?’

I took my beautiful pendant from her as I replied, ‘I would hazard a guess that the Hart brothers were never truly evil, as otherwise they wouldn’t have renounced Lucifer. I think that’s why they didn’t burn when they touched you; although I did notice they flinched. As for Odile the elf; she cast a spell which left you vulnerable to her attack.’

‘How did you know about the spell when you threw yourself in front of the arrow to save me?’

‘I didn’t.’

‘Then why didn’t you trust your amulet would repeal the elf’s attack?’

‘I don’t know whether to call it instinct or a nudge from the angels. All I do know is in the split second I had to react I knew I had to shield you.’ Before Hope had a chance to ask me anything further or declare her eternal gratitude, I said, ‘Now, if you will excuse me, I really must go to Molly.’

‘Of course,’ she said as she stood up to leave, ‘but don’t think I didn’t hear mention of Ryan being your protector. I was too preoccupied at the time with my MI6 issues to question the circumstances further. Since all has been restored, someday soon, Serena, I want to know Ryan’s story. After all, he knows mine,’ she said determinedly as she closed my office door behind her.

 

I flagged down another taxi from the prestigious Mayfair address and directed the driver to St Bartholomew’s hospital. When I arrived at the main hospital reception, the middle-aged, painfully skinny head receptionist wouldn’t allow me admittance. Visiting hours were strictly between three and four-thirty and then seven to eight-thirty, and no amount of bribing could sway her. Resigned to return at seven, I inadvertently walked past the cardiovascular department on my way to the hospital store and noted the head of department Mr. Devaro had referred me to, Mr. Guardian. Coincidently, I bumped into Mr. Guardian as I paid for my paper and milk. I marvelled at his relatively young age of early thirties, given his professional status, which led me to wonder if his extreme good looks had helped him up the career ladder.

Tucking my newspaper under my arm, I made my way to the taxi rank. After giving my rotund chauffeur my home address, I fruitlessly attempted to read the content between the thin sheets of the recent news as the chatty driver gave me his opinion on every current political story.

‘And that’s another suspect case,’ the wannabe current affairs advisor informed me. ‘Have you heard about the MI6 chap who was framed?’

Despite the fact I had only half been paying attention to his ranting, I suddenly sat bolt upright and answered him for the first time with more than a little intrigue, ‘What about him?’

‘Framed him, they did. That was until a senior official looked into his case. He’s been given a full pardon. Of course they won’t publish his name, what with the importance of his anonymity. He wouldn’t be much of a secret agent if his name and photograph were shown. I’d imagine his protecting Queen and country days’ would be over if the paparazzi get wind of who he is. It was on the lunch time news. You didn’t see it?’

‘No.’

‘Been in hospital all day, have you, Love? I guess this having just picked you up from Barts. That’s another thing . . .’

I switched off and searched my newspaper for any mention of MI6. Unsuccessful by the time I got home, I placed my paper and door keys down on to my kitchen table and put my milk in the fridge before entering my bedroom.

I planned to shower and change before going back to St Bartholomew’s to see Molly, so I quickly undressed and stepped into my power shower with my shampoo and conditioner at hand, and my puff ball lathered up with shower gel. As I followed the contours of my body, relived to be washing the clinical smell of the operating theatre from my skin, I screamed in shocked delight as I showered the frontal top portion of my torso. I couldn’t be sure without looking in a mirror. Still, I was almost positive my breasts were the perfect ‘C’ cup I had booked in for surgery to achieve.

I washed the lather from my body so it didn’t obscure my view and hastily raced, dripping small puddles of water as I did so, to my dressing rooms full length mirror. God had promised me perfectly balanced body parts, and that is exactly the image which greeted me.

In ecstasy, I completed my beauty regime. Then dressed in my bathrobe, I hunted through my extensive walk-in-wardrobe for the perfect top to emphasis my new shape. As I searched, a sparkling golden hanger caught my eye. I immediately stopped my task and selected the garment on the unusual hanger which I had neither purchased nor placed among my clothes. As I extended my arm so I could see the item of clothing, I gasped as there before my very eyes hung my beautiful white honorary angelic gown. Speechless, I reached for the letter attached to the hanger which I opened with trembling hands. Clutching my gown to me, I sat down to read the familiar writing:

 

My Dear Serena

I AM indebted to you for your service. The pride and love I feel for you is incalculable. Take heart that even though Lucifer still resides on the outskirts of good waiting to find a flaw so he can flood happiness with sorrow, one day you will defeat him, for the very scriptures I wrote foretell this to be so. Please know that until that day comes, you will receive My devoted protection. Archangel Michael is never far from you. Nor is your earthly protector, Ryan Joshua Scott.

I feel sure our paths will cross many times before you finally come home to Me.

I have loved you, and I will continue to love you always

All is well My Angelic 444

Your loving, Father x x x x

P.S You would do well not to allow Rupert or Ryan to see you in your honorary angelic gown; at least not until you are sure with whom your destiny resides

 

Tears of joy flooded my eyes. Still clutching my angelic gown tight to me, I waltzed around my apartment. When I finally stood still, dizzy with happiness, I habitually checked my mobile telephone that I had omitted to change from silent after my hospital visit. I had two texts.

The first was from Molly.

Please come and visit me this evening at Barts – I’m soooo bored! Don’t forget to bring your car keys and transfer papers. And don’t try and wriggle out of it as I have a very reliable witness, namely God :0) Love you x x x x’

The second was from Ryan.

Thank you, Serena. Without you I would still be on the run. God has explained I’m still required for duty as your protector now you are back in your earthly body. It seems sensible we meet to discuss strategy. Are you free for dinner now you can legitimately eat again? I am yours to command. Ryan x’

I sat still with my gown held to me. God had promised me a balanced body, and He had delivered that promise. He had also agreed I could have my pick of eligible men. The problem was, did I still want Rupert Maximus Valentine or would Ryan Joshua Scott be a better match? I definitely had an attraction to Ryan, but was that adrenaline induced after all the adventure we had been through together? This quandary made it impossible for me to decipher whether my magnetism to Ryan was greater than the one I felt for Rupert.

God had told me, “More often than not it is so that the soul has already chosen its mate, so for you to return to life and choose your soul mate is an injustice to your soul. It would be far more advantageous to allow the soul to seek its chosen one.”

As I reflected on God’s wise words and my current circumstances, I couldn’t help but feel very un-honorary angelic like as I grew excited at the pending competition Hope and I were to resume for Rupert’s favour. I had promised not to fight Hope, but I hadn’t agreed not to use carefully thought out strategies to steal Rupert back.

As I doodled on the writing pad I always kept by my house telephone my potential double barrel name:

*S*erena *O*livia *U*nity *L*ewis-*V*alentine

*S*erena *O*livia *U*nity *L*ewis-*S*cott

I wondered who would be my soul’s choice of mate. And then I reasoned that was a decision I would leave for another day after I had secured the fate of mankind by defeating the evil Lucifer.

Epilogue

 

I had been back in the land of the living for less than twenty-four hours, in which time I had visited Molly at St Bartholomew’s complete with car keys and the relevant driver and vehicle licensing agency transfer papers, and then I dutifully dropped in to see my parents. They were surprised to see me, and not because they still believed me to be deceased; although I couldn’t help but check the pretentious urn my ashes had filled was no longer positioned pride of place on their mantle-piece. No, my parents were surprised by my visit as I rarely called on them in the evenings, preferring work or a drink after a victory I’d had in court. However, given the ordeal I had witnessed them go through, I was desperate to see for myself that they were totally oblivious to my new double life as a Virtuous Spy. And if the truth be known, I wanted to make sure they were unaware of my elective surgery, and no longer heading the anti-cosmetic surgery charity to campaign for humanitarian treatment of essentially woman who threw themselves under the knife in search of a happier life.

While I was busy strengthening old bonds, God was briefing His right hand Archangel.

‘Archangel Michael, I do believe Serena Olivia Unity Lewis will have trouble adjusting back to ‘normal’ life after the excitement of espionage. Therefore, until I call upon her alter ego again, can I rely on you to communicate with Angelica, Serena’s guardian angel, to keep Serena on the right path, thus preventing her from becoming fractious?’

‘I am only too happy to help, Father. Would you also like me to arrange for Archangel Jophiel to collect Serena’s honorary angelic gown from her wardrobe on the morning You reinstate Serena to Your service?’

‘Thank you, Archangel Michael. But that will not be necessary as I already have a volunteer for that duty.’

‘Father, forgive me for asking; will You grant Serena’s wish to wear her gown in holy matrimony before You requisition her once more?’

‘It is not for Me to permit or deny Serena’s desire, Archangel Michael. Quite simply, if Serena listens to her soul then she will see her assignment through to the end before entering into a matrimonial contract. On the other hand, if Serena’s ego wins then she may well target Rupert Maximus Valentine’s heart for a rival of his affection, which in all probability will lead to a wedding ceremony before Serena resumes her identity as the Daughter of Eve who will one day be known as the Devil Slayer.’

‘Is that likely?’

‘Before her heavenly experience Serena would have single handedly fought Lucifer for Rupert Maximus Valentine without giving any concern for her own wellbeing. But now I suspect she would think twice, albeit her highly competitive side will enjoy the rivalry with Hope Harper for Rupert Maximus Valentine’s eternal love. Oh, I do so hope those two girls do not start a new karmic slate,’ God mused. ‘But there again, Serena’s soul has been interwoven with Ryan Joshua Scott even before she knew the soul who has taken the guise as Rupert Maximus Valentine. Whether Serena will sense this connection and act on the instruction from her soul rather than her ego, not even God knows,’ God said with a chuckle.

‘So soul it is Ryan, ego it is Rupert,’ A.M. clarified.

‘Precisely,’ God confirmed as He nodded His wise, old head.

Get ready for the second installment of the Divine trilogy:

 

Divine Peace

( Coming Soon / Prologue overleaf )

Prologue

And so God’s prophecy was yet to be fulfilled. Lucifer’s dark wings had been severely clipped by the outcome of the battle of Stonehenge, but the iniquity that emanated from the vengeful angel was still free to adversely affect mankind. God could not and would not allow this wickedness to continue, so once again the Almighty called upon the Daughter of Eve whose legacy to defeat Lucifer was all that stood between good prevailing against the destructive shroud of evil.

Love and Blessings

Jo O’Neil xxx

 

 

 

 

Divine Hope By Jo O’Neil Page 304

 


Divine Hope

Serena Lewis is dead . . . but only temporarily! All because God decreed at the dawn of time that a Daughter of Eve will be born with the providence to defeat evil. This soul is said to be so powerful, Lucifer fears her arrival. This soul is Serena Olivia Unity Lewis, A.K.A. Daughter of Eve, Devil Slayer, and God’s Angelic Secret Agent Number 444 If you enjoy espionage with a twist of magic and a mix of angels, dark and light elves, demonic bats, dragons, fairies, leprechauns, ogres, and unicorns, held together with a love triangle and colossal karmic debt, all of which is overseen by the Almighty and His Eight Lords of Karma and overshadowed by Lucifer, then the tale of Divine Hope will take you to heaven.

  • ISBN: 9781311755438
  • Author: Jo O'Neil
  • Published: 2015-09-13 20:20:21
  • Words: 95016
Divine Hope Divine Hope