Evie: An Angel's Redemption

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TEN

Sunday December 9th, The Condo

“I can’t wait to meet Peter.” Evie smiled broadly, tapping her feet in anticipation.

Gracie eyed her warily. “Umm...remember: he’s my boyfriend.” A steely stare underscored her words.

Caught off guard, she curbed her enthusiasm. “Of course. I understand.”

“He should be here any minute.”

There was a knock on the door, and Gracie jumped up and walked to the door, letting Peter in. “Hi, baby.” They hugged and gave each other a peck on the lips. “Honey, I’d like you to meet my new sister, Evie.”

Evie swallowed hard. His chiseled good looks and gentle manner took her breath away for a brief instant. She forced herself to regain her composure. She stood up and put out her hand. “Hi; nice to meet you Peter. I’ve heard you’re quite a Prince Charming.” Evie looked at Gracie mischievously.

Gracie gave her a ‘Watch out’ look.

Peter walked up to her and firmly held her hand in his. “Well I’ve heard a lot about you, and I must admit; it is nice to meet you in person.” He turned to Gracie and grinned. “And Gracie has been a wonderful Cinderella. She is beautiful no matter how she’s dressed.”

“Aww, honey…you’re so sweet,” Gracie gushed.

She liked watching this handsome man interact with her sister. Gracie’s contented smile made evident a very real love for her suitor. However, she still felt herself staring at Peter in unguarded moments.

Peter DeKuyper was about her height, and looked directly at her with his pale blue eyes. “I’m a comptroller by trade, but don’t let that fool you: I actually have social skills.” His smile contained a subtle mirthfulness, which made his handsome face even more appealing.

Warmth and kindness comprised his manner. He was charming, but didn’t flatter her. He made her feel good about herself, just by hearing what he had to say. He seemed as nice as Carlo at work.

They all retired to the living room. Gracie and Peter sat next to each other on the couch and she sat down on the love seat.

“So Evie,” began Peter, I’ve heard you came over from China. What do you think of this country so far?”

Evie replied honestly. “Well, I must admit I’m a little homesick, but I find that no matter the country, it’s always makes it better to have a family. Mom, Dad, Tony, and of course, my roomie and sister Gracie have made me feel like I’ve been in their lives forever.”

“Was it difficult being an orphan, and not having any real permanent family when you were growing up?”

“You know, being an orphan was very frightening for me. I’ve missed many of those things most children take for granted. I don’t wish it on anyone. I’ve had to figure out this life by myself, and it’s scary and lonely.”

Peter’s insightful questions dug up the pain buried in her heart. The realization hit harder: she was indeed an angel without a country; an orphan, even with a family around her.

After Peter had left, Gracie turned and asked her, “Do you still feel like an orphan?”

“Honestly, yes. I know your family loves me, and I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, but having to figure out my place in this world is hard sometimes. And the worst is -- I’m homesick.” She stared pleadingly at Gracie. “I really need a hug.”

“Oh, sweetie, you bet I will” The embraced warmly. “I’m here any time you need me.”

“Thanks, Gracie. I’m sorry I seem like such a big baby.”

“Don’t you worry about it,” Gracie said. Her smile consoled her. “Tell you what: talk to the Father tonight, and ask Him for help when you feel down.”

“Okay. I will. Thanks.”

A time of relaxation, then she and her older sister went to bed.

As Evie lay in bed, she thought of what Gracie had said. “Father...I hope you’re listening, because I’m struggling. I’m getting real discouraged. Please tell me you love me, and will help me with this strange journey.” Even as she said the words, her aching heart weighed heavily on her. Hot tears formed in her eyes, and she gave in again, almost ashamed for feeling so helpless and sad, which seemed like all the time. As she cried, she felt a still, quiet voice speak to her.

I do love you Evie. Come back to me, so I can hug you again. I really want to very badly.

“Really? Do you Abba?”

Yes. Truly.

Tears of happiness flowed freely now. “Thank you, Abba. Thank you.”

Monday, December 10th

It was just another day at work: lesson plans for the next day completed, classes done well. As soon as she finished with her last class, a call came from the Director of the Institute.

“Ms. Chen, could you report to my office?”

“Yes, Mr. Rundström; I’ll be right there.” This was unusual turn of events; the Director of the Institute had never called her before. The few times she had heard him speak were for company-wide rah-rah meetings. “What would he want to speak to me for?” she wondered. Making the trip down the main hall and to his office, she finally arrived at his door. “You wanted to see me, Mr. Mr. Rundström?”

“Yes, Ms. Chen. Have a seat, please.”

She did as she was told.

“Ms. Chen, a few grave matters have come to my attention. Firstly, it seems you have been appropriating Ms. Quarantillo’s lesson plans…”

She wanted to object, but the look on his face warned her that this was serious, and she had better not interrupt him.

“Further, Ms. Chen, I have reviewed your class ratings, and they have taken a considerable dip lately, to the tune of an average rating of fifty percent or below.”

“But, my ratings have always been good. I don’t understand why they would suddenly drop so low. All my students thank me profusely for helping them in the classroom. This must be a mistake…”

“I’m afraid that the records don’t lie, Ms. Chen. It is right here in the Performance database. Being the more senior instructor, Ms. Quarantillo pointed this out to me.”

Anger rose in her, especially at Velma, who she had a sneaking suspicion for a long time,was up to no good. She wanted to shout about the unfairness of this situation, but she did know that when Mr. Rundström had made up his mind, there was no changing it. No amount of protesting or pleading her innocence would change his mind.

“I’m afraid, Ms. Chen, that these matters are of dire consequence. The result of these facts warrants a dismissal. I’m afraid, that your tenure with the Institute is hereby terminated.”

Gathering all her strength, she fought back the tears, and simply said, “Thank you for the opportunity to work for the Institute. I’ve learned a lot.” Which included the fact that some women could be very petty, and back-stabbing. On her way out, she passed by Velma’s desk, and stared at her for a while. Velma looked up and said, “Sorry to hear what happened. I wish you well in your future endeavors.”

The anger could not be held back any further. “Yeah right, you jerk. This was all your doing, and I’ll never forgive you for it.” Beforre Velma could say another word, she walked quickly to her desk, gathered her personal belongings, and left the building as fast as she could. The emotions inside her had grown so strong, that she stopped in Kramerbooks and Afterwards, went to the Ladies’ Room, and the floodgate of her emotions poured out in her tears.

Finally, she washed her face off, gathered up her courage and walked towards the DuPont Circle Metro Station.

The walk to the train station at Dupont Circle from Kramerbooks would only take her a couple of minutes. She walked at a slow pace this time, as thoughts of her flirting filled her head. The bile rose in her to the point where she felt she would be sick, so she tried to think of something else. But all she could think of was the lonliness she felt from not being directly in the presence of her fellow angels and The Father, which only added to her misery. The Chens made her feel loved, but she missed the love of her Heavenly Father and The Lamb. At least it was nice to have spent some time with Michael.

She reached a light, and started to cross over 19th Street when a car making a right turnt bore down on her. Hearing the engine of the car as it got closer, she looked up in time to see the car just a few feet from her. Horrified, she screamed, closing her eyes before the car hit her. The next thing she knew some strong arms picked her up and deposited her in front of a bank on the West side of Connecticut Avenue. A familiar voice said, “You should be more careful before you cross the street. That car almost ran into you.”

A familiar figure stood in front of her. “Michael!” She hugged him hard, and then started shaking. “I could have died…Oh Father in Heaven, I could have died.” Tears ran down her eyes as her voice choked. “Michael, I could have died, and I don’t know that the Father and I are on good terms.” Shuddering hard, tears ran down her face. “I don’t want to be subject to the second death! Why oh why did I volunteer to do this crazy thing?” She looked directly at her best friend and mentor. “Please Michael,” she said, starting to cry. “Take me home. This has been a horrible day: I’ve just been fired; but mostly I’m scared of being human, and not knowing where I stand with the Father.”

Strong, reassuring arms enveloped her. “I made sure you didn’t meet with an untimely death at the hand of a careless driver. Further, I know the answer to your relationship with the Father lies in his book to the Sons of Men. It says you must make The Lamb your Lord and Savior.”

“But The Lamb is my Lord — always has been; and what does He need to save me from? I’ve done nothing wrong — have I?”

“Your humanness demands you establish a relationship with the Father through His Son. You inhabit a human body, which is subject to the curse. It demands the redemption you wanted to experience.”

Sighing, she said, “Okay. You’re right. I don’t understand, but you’re right. It doesn’t make any sense to me, but I know you know what I need.” Hugging him again, she added, “…and thank you, Michael, for saving me from my making a costly mistake.” She gave him a friendly kiss on the cheek and said, “I love you, big brother.”

“Love you too, sis. Now be careful.” The twinkle in his eye belied the seriousness of his warning. Then he flew away.

That Night

Evie heard Gracie come into the apartment from work. As Gracie put her coast away, she looked at her and said, “You look like you’re upset about something. Are you all right?”

“No; I’m not,” she answered

“What’s wrong, honey?”

“That cur Velma got me fired, and I did nothing wrong. At first, she seemed nice, but lately she’s been up to some questionable stuff. I’m sure she tampered with my ratings in the Performance Database. She sabotaged my job, and made sure the Director would notice. The Director had made up his mind to fire me at that point, and I couldn’t even defend myself. May that witch who worships Lucifer be sent to Hell, and burn for eternity. Curses be upon her. I hate you, Velma!” Tears once again fell from her eyes.

“Evie! I’m sorry that such a terrible thing happened to you. May I give you a hug?”

“Yes,” she choked.

“Sweetie, I know you’re angry, but it’s not wise to pronounce a curse on someone, especially for one who was an angel. I’m sure Velma hates you because she’s insecure and doesn’t know the Lord.”

“I’m not an angel anymore: I’m human,” she said. “I wish I could go back to Heaven and be an angel. Velma’s terrible,” she said. “I thought she was my friend. I found out too late that she had it out for me, and I don’t even know why.”

“Well, just remember: the precious Lamb of God told us “…Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. If you only love those who love you, what reward do you have?”

“I know…I know. She just makes me so upset.”

“Well, like Jesus said, pray for her.”

Evie knew her sister was right, so she mustered up her strength, and prayed, “Abba, let me learn to love like you do, without judgement. I lift up Velma to you, and ask that you minister to her heart, for she obviously has been hurt. Please forgive me for saying such awful things about her.” A sense of relief overcame her, and she quieted.

Wednesday, December 12th

That night Peter was visiting Gracie, and sat in the living room, dashing and handsome as ever. Her eyes riveted to him; she walked over and sat down. Far enough away for propriety’s sake, but close enough so she could see those eyes, and that amazing smile. Her heart skipped a beat, and she had to fight to control the urge to gush all over him.

“So what’s new, Peter?” She found it odd that Gracie hadn’t yet made an appearance. “And where’s Gracie?”

“Oh, she went out on a quick errand. She’ll be back in a little while. How are you?”

“I’m doing pretty well. You know, work is good, and becoming easier; just trying to make friends. Say…I’m really sorry to hear about losing your job.”

“Thank you, but I’ll be fine. I’ve done a lot of thinking, and I think I’ll try to join the military, probably the U.S. Air Force.” Engrossed in the conversation with Peter, she didn’t notice Gracie enter the front door.

“Hey guys! How’s everybody?” said Gracie.

Evie startled and visibly jerked. At first, she didn’t look at Gracie. She felt guilty. She had only been talking to Peter, but she felt attracted to him, and honestly hoped Gracie didn’t see it.

“Evie? Are you all right? Did I startle you?”

“Oh...uh, no. I...um...was just talking to Peter. I guess I didn’t hear you come in.”

Gracie didn’t respond right away, but stared at her like she had been caught her red-handed. She turned towards the television, pretending to be interested in the show that was on, dreading Gracie knowing what she had really thought.

Gracie slowly turned her focus to Peter. “Okay. I guess I’ll go ahead and get started on dinner. Peter – you want to give me a hand?”

“Sure, honey.” Peter turned towards her, and she involuntary flushed. “Nice talking to you Evie.” He got up and left, as blood rushed to her face, making her appear a bright red. Afraid to raise her sister’s suspicions any further, her face turned away from Gracie’s indicting stare. She yelled after them. “Call me if you need anything.”

The evening felt like it would never end. Every time she stared at Peter, she tried not to look to long for fear of seeming too interested. Gracie hawk-eyes fastened onto her. She made her best effort to carry on a conversation as though nothing was bothering her, but it was an effort. Mercifully, the evening ended.

“Well, girls, I’ve really enjoyed myself, but it’s getting late, and it’s a work night. You know the drill.”

“Okay honey.” Gracie kissed Peter before he walked out the door.

Gracie went to sit on the couch. Evie didn’t exactly know what to do next. So she sat down next to Gracie, and decided to take the offensive. “So. Did you enjoy your evening?”

Grace answered in an even tone. “Yes. I did.”

“Well, good.”

Another pregnant pause: “Evie. Is something bothering you? You’ve acted kind of strange all night.”

“No: not at all. Why?”

“I swear you’ve been avoiding me all night long. Something seems to be bothering you, although I can’t put my finger on it.”

“Oh, don’t be silly. I’m perfectly fine,” she lied; another thing added to her list of peccadillos. She thought it best to excuse herself. “But I am tired. I think I’ll try reading a good book. That ought to help me relax. It’s certainly helped before.”

She got up, and kissed her sister on the forehead. “I certainly enjoyed the dinner, and the company.”

Gracie eyed her suspiciously. “Good night, Evie.”

Evie smiled sweetly, and headed for her bedroom, not looking back once.

Thursday, December 13th

From habit, Evie woke up at 06:30 and ate breakfast while watching the sun rise. Since she had no job to go to, Evie looked up the U.S. Air Force site on the Internet, and researched how to join. “I’ve been a warrior all my life, and this would probably suit me best. It also involves flying, which I’m…or at least was good at.” As a graduate of the Military Academy of New Jerusalem, she just needed to contact the recruiter, and be assigned to Undergraduate Pilot Training, which would last a year. Realizing that she would be away from all she loved, lonliness overcame her. But she pressed on, because in the end, she would be much happier being a warrior than just teaching school. Her application finished, she dropped if off at the local recruiter in Crystal City.

Having nothing in particular to do except domestic duties around the house, Evie grew impatient to hear something about her application. Later that afternoon, a call came in.

“Is a Ms. Evelyn Chen available?” asked a male voice.

“This is she.”

“Hello, Ms. Chen. This is Sergeant Williams calling from the Air Force Recruiters Office in Crystal City. I was wondering if you could come in tomorrow for an interview.”

“Absolutely. What time should I come in?”

“How about ten o’clock?” he asked.

“That would be just fine. Thank you.”

“See you then.”

A large smile graced her face, as she looked forward to the interview the next morning.

Friday, December 14th

The interview went well. The recruiter was impressed with her aptitude, attitude and abilities. Evie had to stretch the truth about being trained in combat, not wanting to have to reveal anything about her having been an angel. She said she had been overseas for a while, and had not been assigned a commission to be a fighter pilot.

“Don’t worry, Ms. Chen. I’ll have you take the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test, and we can use that to get you assigned to Undergraduate Pilot Training.

He gave her the test results: she scored a perfect 25 on the pilot portion and a perfect combined score of 50 on the pilot-navigator portions. “With your scores, you could do just about anything and anywhere you want.”

“I ’ve always wanted to be a pilot,” she said, with an air of matter-of-factness.

“You are well on your way. The next step is to process you into the Undergraduate Pilot Training program, which lasts for a little over a year. You will begin with the Introductory Flight Screening program in Pueblo, Colorado, and then move on to the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) in Shepherd, Texas. When you graduate from this program as an officer, you will receive Silver Wings and are awarded the aeronautical rating of pilot. From there, you will attend follow-on training in your assigned aircraft at various bases known as Formal Training Units (FTUs) around the country. After you graduate from that, you’ll be assigned to a base where you’ll fly the aircraft you choose. Did you have any questions?”

She wanted to ask him if she could commute between the training bases and D.C., but she would have to work that out on her own. “No, sir. No further questions.”

“The recruitment officer ended with, “You will be shipping out to Colorado in about nine weeks, or approximately February 15th of next year.”

“Thank you, Sergeant Williams. I’ll see you next Thursday for Physical Training.”

“Don’t forget to exercise every day, including running four miles per day.”

“No problem, sir,” she answered, and got up an left. In the meantime, she had to find a way to pay her way until she left for Boot Camp. She thought about it on the way home in the Metro train. On the way to the condo complex, she picked up a newspaper. Once in her room, she perused the newspaper for jobs that involved teaching or training. While looking over the jobs, her cell phone interrupted her efforts. “Hello?”

“Evie. It’s Carlo. You need to come to the Institue right away. The Director wants to hire you again.”

“Are you sure? He seemed pretty intent on firing me Monday.”

“Yes, I’m sure. We caught Velma on tape, putting her lesson plans on your desk, and tampering with the performance database. Can you make it here quickly?”

“I’ll be right there,” she said, putting on her coat.

“Ms. Chen. Please have a seat,” said Mr. Rundström.

She sat down in front of her boss’s chair.

“Ms. Chen, it seems that I’ve been wrong in my judgement of you. After Mr. Bocelli pointed out that he had reviewed the security tapes, and found that Ms. Quarantillo had been up to some disturbing behavior. She put her lesson plans on your desk, and was also seen tampering with the Performance Database, changing your scores. Needless to say, she has since been relieved of her duties. If you’d like to have your job back, it’s available to you.”

“Yes, Mr. Rundström; I appreciate your offer very much.”

“Can you be here starting Monday morning?”

“I’ll be here.”

As they walked out of the building, Evie turned to Carlo and said, “Carlo, I’ve made a very serious decision. I’m going into the United States Air Force.” Carlo stopped and looked at her, the shock of what she said hitting him hard in the gut, and leaving him momentarily speechless.

“Are you serious?” he finally said.

“Yes…I’m very serious,” she answered. “I guess having been fired from the Institute made me think hard about what I want to do with my life. I’ve always been someone who will fight for what I believe is right, so this seemed like the perfect thing to do.”

After standing silent for a while, Carlo finally said, “When will all this take place? When do you have to report for duty?”

“I’ll leave for Basic Training February the 15th,” she said. “The whole program to become a pilot will take about a year.” She looked at him sadly and said, “I’m already missing you.”

“I don’t know what to say, Evie. I’m still in shock. This is some hard-hitting news. Will I be able to keep in touch with you? Can I call you, or am I reduced to writing you letters?”

“You won’t be able to call me during Basic Training, except once for about two minutes, but you can write me letters telling me how special I am to you,” she said, grinning playfully.

“Okay…” he said. “I’m not really crazy ’bout this turn of events, but I won’t hold you back from chasing your dreams.

“It won’t be easy on me, either, baby,” she said, a little sad. “But it feels right, and I’ll probably regret it for the rest of my life if I don’t. You can understand that, can’t you?”

“Yes, Evie. I really can. I wish you all the best.”

“Thank you. That means a lot to me.” Sighing, she said, “Could you at least accompany me home?”

“You couldn’t stop me,” he said.

That Night

“Hi, Peter! How’re you?” Evie gave him a friendly hug as he walked in the door.

“I’m doing well,” he answered. “I hear you’ve decided to join the Air Force. I must say, that seems like a good thing to do.”

“Yeah. I told Gracie, and she wasn’t real happy about it, but she wishes me well.”

“Good, Evie. I believe you’ll do well.”

“Thanks.”

Gracie came out from her bedroom, and showed her new outfit and hair do. “Gracie. You look nice. I like your outfit...shows your eyes off well,” she said.

“Thank you.” Gracie looked at Peter. “Notice anything different about me?”

“Only that you look ravishing per usual. What else can I say?”

“I got my hair cut. Didn’t you notice it?”

“Oh...I see you’ve got one of those inverted bobs.”

“Yes.” Gracie looked away from Peter, pursed her lips, walked to the coat closet, and pulled out her coat. “Are you coming, Peter?”

“Are you all right? You seem upset at something.

“It kind of hurts my feelings that you didn’t notice my new haircut. I had to point it out to you. I’d have thought you would have engaged enough in what’s going on around you to notice. Little things like this are important to me.”

“I’m sorry Gracie. It really looks nice.”

“Thank you, but you’re a little late with the compliment. It takes away from its sincerity.”

Peter just stood there, saying nothing.

Evie stared at her sister, appalled. How could her sister be so petty? Sure, he didn’t notice her hair right away, but was that the end of the world? Why didn’t she just get over it? After all, why ruin a nice evening over something so small? She offered an understanding smile to Peter, who noticed, but turned and faced the door, opening it for Gracie.

Gracie quietly said, “Thanks.” She didn’t look at Peter – she just walked out the door ahead of him.

Evie arose, walked to the door, and yelled, “Have a good time.”

Peter turned around and said, “Thanks.” She proffered a sympathetic smile. For a moment, his eyes reached down into her soul. Her heart pounded in her chest, and she felt more attracted to him.

Gracie just walked ahead of him towards the elevator, turned around, and gave him a cold stare. “Are you coming?”

“Yes, Gracie. I’ll be there in a second.” His tone was clipped and short. As the elevator opened, she walked in ahead of him, forcing him to follow her again.

Gracie came in, with Peter pulling up the rear yet again. She walked through the door of the den to the entrance to the front hallway. Gracie stared coolly at Peter. “Good night, Peter.” It sounded more like “Good bye, Peter...and don’t bother calling me.” The anger in Gracie’s tone made her bristle. She forced herself to sound civil. “So...how was your date with Peter?”

“I’m waiting for a date to be nice for a change, instead of feeling like a chore.”

“What went wrong?” The defensiveness rose in her, but her tone remained neutral.

“It hurt my feelings, Evie. We’ve been dating for six months now, and I would think that would be plenty of time for him to get a clue as to what things are special to me. It ruined my whole evening.” Gracie looked at the door, as if Peter were still there. “Thanks for nothing, Peter. Thanks a lot.

“Gracie! Listen to yourself. I think you’re being very selfish. Yes, he didn’t notice your hair right away, but was it worth making a federal case of it? Was it worth ruining your whole evening for?”

“You obviously don’t understand what it means to be appreciated.”

Evie could feel the blood rising to her head. She started shaking. Her words came out of her mouth before she could stop them. “You know...I’m not buying that. Michael appreciates me. The Lamb appreciates me.”

“That’s all well and good, but I’m talking about a guy appreciating you. You know...a human guy.”

“Listen. You were just plain mean to him. All night long, I’m sure. I don’t know how he puts up with you sometimes.”

Gracie’s face contorted with fury. Her finger shot straight at her, five inches away from her nose. “Don’t you tell me about being fair: this is my relationship, not yours. You have no right to interfere. And I’d appreciate your keeping your opinions to yourself until you know how to have a relationship of your own.”

“You’re so stubborn. I’m done. Be angry by yourself. I’m out of it.” She turned and walked down the hall towards her room.

“Yeah walk away. You’re nothing but a coward.”

Her palm faced Gracie. “Talk to the hand.” She walked into her room and slammed the door shut behind her.

Monday, December 17th

That Night.

The next day, Gracie asked Peter to come to the Condo. “We need to talk about last night.”

“Okay, Gracie.”

A few minutes later, Peter walked in, and Gracie turned to Peter. “What do you have to say to me?”

Peter sat up, and faced her directly. “The truth is, I don’t like how angry you can be, and how mean you can act over matters that are trivial, at best. For instance: your hair. I can appreciate the work you went through to look nice – and you did – but I’m sure I would have commented on it before the night was through. I could have, but you took that chance away from me.”

Fury rose within her. Her face contorted into a huge frown. She looked back and forth between the two of them. “Now let me be perfectly clear about this...” She faced Evie and pointed an accusing finger at her. “You had better keep your nose out of my business. It’s none of yours unless I choose to make it that way. You’re on my angry list...”

Evie didn’t respond, but just stared at her coolly, face expressionless.

This only added to her ire. “You have nothing to say? Aren’t you at least woman enough to admit you did the wrong thing?”

“I’ll only admit that I don’t like the way your anger destroys your relationships with people.”

She walked over to Evie, and stood right next to her. “Why don’t you just leave, then? Find your own apartment.”

“I’d be glad to, but right now, I’m going to my room. My name is still on the lease, and I don’t have to leave unless I choose to.” Evie walked down the front corridor, and into her bedroom.

She turned back to Peter. “You know, I consider it just another blow to our relationship when you do things like this. You show me no respect. Maybe you ought to engage in this relationship more, and I wouldn’t be so angry. You should be ashamed.”

Peter got up slowly, and looked directly at her. “What shames me, Gracie is how badly you treat me and your sister. I think it indecent that I let you belittle me, and let your anger make me feel like a fool. The only thing wrong is that I’ve let it go on this long.”

He stared hard at her, catching her off guard. He’d never stood up to her like this. “Well, then maybe you should consider treating me right. Just be a man, and do the right thing.”

“What I’ll do, is leave. I’m not going to spend any more time being the brunt of your vituperation and venom.”

“Then just leave.” Tears pooled in her eyes. “You obviously think very little of me. Go...I doubt you’ll do better elsewhere. You’re a coward, Peter.”

“Frankly, Gracie...I just don’t care any more. And whether I can do better or not is no longer your concern.” He turned away from her and walked down the hallway to the front door. “I’ll see my way out,” he yelled, not turning back.

She trembled as tears fell down her cheeks. She walked deliberately down the front hallway, and pounded on Evie’s door. “I want to talk to you.”

“I have nothing to say to you.”

“Evie. Let me in or I’ll break this door down.” She visibly shook as she stood there. Her fists remained tightly clenched.

“You’ll do no such thing. Remember that I was a warrior. If you threaten violence, I’ll defend myself. What you’d better do is go and cool off, and come back to me when you can think more rationally.”

“I hate you,” she seethed, as Evie added to her humiliation. Running to her room, she fell on her bed, and burst into tears.

The time on the clock read 11:15 pm. She realized she had cried herself to sleep. The tumultuous events of the evening rolled back through her mind like a bad nightmare. Only it was true. Peter had walked out on her. To make matters worse, she had pushed him away from herself. Why do I sabotage all my relationships? Why can’t I just be normal, like everyone else, and quit trying to control everything? She had not exactly endeared herself to Evie, either. Whether she liked it or not, she was going to have to eat crow, and admit she had blown it with her younger sister.

She pulled herself out of her bed, and started that long trip across the condo to her sister’s room. She found Evie reading a book. “May I come in? I promise I’m saner now.”

“Come in.”

“I blew it, didn’t I?”

“Yes, you did. Are you surprised that Peter left you?”

She shook her head, and her eyes glassed over. “No,” she said quietly. “I pretty much forced him out of my life. I told you when you first came here that I was apt to blow it. Well, I have. Badly. I really wish I could take back all the mean things I’ve said over the last six months.”

“May I speak honestly with you?”

“Yes...please.”

“I’m not sure what exactly you’re so angry about, but it obviously had its start a long time ago, when you were young. Your anger and need for control are a habit with you. The littlest thing sets you off, and you say the meanest things...”

“You’re right. I do exactly that. I don’t understand why, either. It’s like I know what I’m doing is unfair, but something in me won’t let it go.”

“I’m not a psychologist or a counselor, but I think this may require you getting some help. It’s literally destroying you, and I hurt for you, Gracie. I can’t stand to see you sabotaging your life and your happiness this way.”

She stared at the bed, not saying anything. Her mind played back events from over the years: the boys in middle school that made fun of her for being such a geek, awkward and shy; all the boys that practically ignored her during her high school years. No boy had even asked her on a date, never mind to the proms and the dances. Her heart constricted as sadness swelled in her.

“So what are you going to do now?” asked Evie.

“I don’t know. I don’t know if Peter will want to get back together with me. I guess I can only hope. I don’t have the courage to call him and apologize.” She got up, and paced the floor of Evie’s room. “I’m really scared he’ll tell me to leave him alone, and I’ll be crushed. I don’t think I could take any more rejection.”

“Well, my only suggestion is that you pray about it in the mean time. I’m struggling with my relationship with the Father, but yours seems secure, so maybe you should talk to Him about it.”

That hit her. Hard. The one thing she knew she really needed to do, she had neglected. In fact, it occurred to her that she hadn’t really spent much time communing with the Lord at all lately. Now guilt added itself to everything else. “I suppose you’re right, Evie. I haven’t let the Lord help me.”

“I hope for your sake he gives you another chance,” Evie said. “But like you said, he’s a grown man, and neither of us can tell him what to do.”

Defeated, she said ‘Good night’ to Evie and walked to her room. There was not much else she could do; at least, not tonight. But cry.

As Gracie cried, two dark beings watched, satisfied with their work. VD, the tartlet from Hell, high-fived her partner Poisonous.

Poisonous said, “Was I not right about the effect of the romance novels with Gracie, and Evie’s loneliness? Gracie was easy: she has always been angry, and it worked right into my plans.”

“Well, sweetie, that’s what we’re here for. I’m sure you’ll think of a way. My expertise lies in leading relationships astray; and I’ve scored a major coup with Peter breaking up with Gracie. Also, have you noticed that Evie is full of advice, yet cannot figure out her redemption? I’ve kept her pride keep her from seeing the truth. Tell me I’m not good.”

“You’re good, VD. You’re good. I, however, want a chance to add misfortune into the equation. This situation is ripe for it.”

“Well, there is this rakishly handsome playboy we both happen to know, that my partner seems to have a major crush on…” Peals of fiendish laughter rolled out of her.

“Oh, stop. I won’t deny that he’s very handsome, but I don’t want that kind of relationship with him.”

“Hmmm…I think you’re afraid of having your heart broken.”

“You need to stop: I don’t think of him that way…”

“Yeah, right.” She smirked as her partner squirmed uncomfortably.

“Hmmm…well, we can wreak havoc on humans, and that’s what we need to concentrate on,” Poisonous said, as she mulled thoughts over in her mind. “Hmmm. I know one jilted young woman and a certain womanizer that need to meet each other.”

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