Evie: An Angel's Redemption

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SEVENTEEN

Leaving the scene, Cydnie, aware of the eventual outcome of things, awaited her counterparts. Predictably, they approached. VD and Poisonous swayed and slithered purposefully up to her, obviously angry.

VD took the lead. “Look, you angelic daughter of a cow. Shane is my charge. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll just back off! Do I make myself clear?”

Cydnie just stood there calmly and replied, “Let’s get one thing straight, VD: I don’t care how much fire is in your eyes, nor that a lot of anger is in your soul. You need only know one thing: I rebuke you in the Name and by the Blood of The Lamb.”

Ow! Stop mentioning that accursed name.”

She ignored her, and continued. “When someone is in my charge, I will be involved in the life of said someone, and neither you nor your partner, nor Lucifer himself can stop me. And by the way, sweetie: I always win.” Her gaze remained steadfast and unmoved.

Poisonous stepped up, glaring at her, tentacles undulating faster than usual. “Are you threatening us, accursed Spirit of Light?”

Cydnie smiled too sweetly. “No, honey. I’m promising you. Therefore, unless you would like me to explain how the Blood of the Lamb works, and be a first-hand recipient of the benefits of same, I would suggest you both be good little demons, and just walk away...NOW.” She practically shouted out the last word. The holy resolve in her eyes burned hot. She had beaten them, and even though they appeared to look as nothing of the sort had happened, they didn’t answer her either. They just stood there, defiantly, waiting for some way to launch a rejoinder.

VD finally answered, “Yeah, well those prayers you spoke of aren’t going up all the time and I never tire of my work. So you’d better keep an eye on your charge in there, because I intend to bring him down, and you won’t always be there to stop me.”

She stood her ground and said nothing, keeping her eyes locked with VD’s. VD eventually left with Poisonous slithering behind her, both of them spitting out a long litany of curses as they huffed off.

Gracie fumed as the anger in her became hotter. This was outrageous. How could the bureaucracies in this town be so inefficient? Well, for now, she figured, she was going to make certain government lackeys got their job done, or face her ire. “Laurie, I’m stepping out of the office for a couple of hours,” she said as she headed for the Citizenship and Immigration Services. A little over fifteen minutes later, she walked into the building on Massachussetts Avenue, and went inside the building. At the receptionists desk, she said, “I’m Grace Chen, my sister Evelyn Chen’s lawyer. I filed my sisters papers this past Monday proving that she is a U.S. Citizen. I need to speak with Agent Mandy Greenlee. It seems that there’s been a mixup somewhere. This is urgent, Miss. Could you ask her if I could speak to her, please?”

“Just one moment,” said the receptionist. “Let me call her.” A few seconds later, she said, “Yes, Ms. Greenlee. A Ms. Grace Chen would like to speak with you.” Hanging up the phone, she said, “Ms. Greenlee with be with you presently.”

“Thank you,” she said. After waiting a minute or two, Ms. Greenlee approached her.

“Ms. Chen. How are you,” said Greenlee, shaking her hand. “What may I do for you?”

“Hi, Ms. Greenlee. I’m the lawyer for my client, a Ms. EveIyn Anne Chen, and I filed the paperwork, including her Birth Certificate and Social Security cards with you this past Monday. An agent from the C.I.A., who is investigating someone that knows her has decided that they can’t find the records proving she was born in this country, and is thereby a citizen.”

“What was your sister’s name again?”

“Evelyn Anne Chen. Her social security number begins with 276, as she was born in Ohio. Her Birth Certirficate was issued shortly after she was born, stating that she was born in New Jerusalem, Logan County, Ohio, about fifty-five miles outside of Columbus, Ohio. She is now 25 years old, and resides with me here in The District.”

“One moment, please, Ms. Chen. Let me look up her records. What was the complete Social Security Number?”

Gracie gave it to her, and moments later, Evie’s information came up. “Oh, yes,” said Ms Greenlee. “Here are your sister’s records, including a copy of her Birth Certificate and her Social Security number. Would you like me to print you a copy of these documents?”

“Please,” she said. Ms. Greenlee put the documents in a manila envelope, and gave them to her. “Thank you, Ms. Greenlee,” she said and walked out the door.

Back at her desk, Gracie dialed the number for Agent Farooqi. After five rings he answered. “Agent Farooqi; this is Grace Chen, counsel for Ms. Evelyn Anne Chen. I have evidence to prove that she is an American citizen, and that you put her in jail under false circumstances. I need to have her released as soon as possible, no later than close of business today. Are we understood?”

“Can you show me the documents, and are you sure they’re authentic?” Farooqi asked.

“Oh, I can assure you, Agent Farooqi. In fact, if you need to, you can call the Vital Records Office in Ohio, where you can verify that what I’m saying is true.”

“Good, idea, Ms. Chen. I’ll do just that. Give me a few minutes, and I’ll get back to you.”

The phone hung up, and she sighed. “Father, please make this a speedy process.”

Moments later, the phone rang. “Hello?”

“Ms. Chen,” Farooqi answered, “The paperwork seems to check out.”

“Good,” she countered. “Let’s head down to the District Courthouse, and spring my sister.”

“Very well. I’ll meet you there in half an hour.”

At the courthouse, Gracie and Agent Farooqi walked up to the Intake Desk. She lead the conversation with, “My sister, Evelyn Anne Chen is being held here under false pretenses. Agent Farooqi, who had her admitted to this jail will show you her documentation proving her citizenship.” Her demeanor stone-faced, she turned to Agent Farooqi, and said, “Agent Farooqi?”

“We need to have Ms. Chen released from her detention here. All her paperwork is in order.”

“Very well, sir,” said the clerk. “I’ll call up the Cell Supervisor, and have her brought here.”

A few moments later, Evie ran up to Gracie, and hugged her. “This place is aweful. You feel like a criminal, even if you aren’t.”

“It’s okay, honey. You’re out now,” she said, and turned to Farooqi. “It’s a good thing she’s out, Farooqi, or I would have had to sue you, and even the entire C.I.A. if necessary.”

“That won’t be necessary. Good day, Ms. Chen.”

Thursday, January 24th

The lesson plans finished, and stacked neatly in front of her, she looked up and started thinking over the situation with her sister and Shane. In the middle of her reverie, Carlo walked in. They both tried talking at once.

“Evie, I need to apologize… {Carlo, I’m so sorry ...}”

“I’m sorry. Go ahead… {I’m sorry, I’ll let you speak first...}”

They both laughed, then Carlo said quickly, “Let’s flip for it. You call it.”

He flipped the coin and Evie called “Heads.”

George Washington’s bust faced upward on the quarter. Emotion welled up within her again. She didn’t want her tongue get the better of her, especially with people about whom she cared.

“I’ve been awfully stupid lately. I can’t believe how much I’ve let my friends and family down.” She smiled sheepishly. “All of you really care about me.” Grining, she added, “Especially you. Would you forgive me?”

Carlo smiled. “Evie, all is forgiven. Can we hug on it?”

“Sure.”

After they embraced, Carlos face brightened.

“Say...what do you say we hang out together tonight after work. I just want to be able to talk with you, only away from work; you know: undistracted time with my best friend. Would that be okay?”

Turning back towards Carlo, she said, “Actually, I think this is going to be fun. In fact, I’m looking forward to it. Sure; let’s do it.”

“Yeah. And I get to flirt with you again.”

“Please do. I love it when you do.”

“Hey, all is fair in love and war.” He grinned, then said, “How about we go up to a sushi place I know of for some sushi and some Asian food? It’s down near the Farragut North Metro stop, and maybe I can walk you home from there. It’s about a twenty minute walk, but that will give us time to stretch our legs and get our convo on.”

“My, but you just made me very happy. A good meal is one of my favorite pleasures.”

“Yes; I know.”

“Oh, good grief! You are beginning to know me too well.” Evie rolled her eyes.

“Yeah. So sue me,” he countered, grinning broadly.

She had to laugh. She and Carlo high-fived each other: this was going to be fun. How awesome was that?

That Evening

Evie forgot how much she enjoyed talking to Carlo.

“Gracious, Carlo. We haven’t talked like this in way too long. We’ve let those long talks we used to have at the Institute fall by the wayside.”

“I know. What’s wrong with us, anyway?”

“I don’t know, but...” She looked away briefly. “I’ve been stupid to let things get to this.”

Talking to Carlo was as natural as talking to her sister, or Rachael. Neither one of them brought up her relationship with the Father; they just laughed, and kidded each other. They talked about everything under the sun that mattered to them, including hopes and dreams. The conversation flowed so easily that time disappeared before they knew it.

“Gracious! It’s eleven thirty. Maybe we should take the train home: I’m not real comfortable with being on the streets of D.C. this late at night.”

She must have said the right thing, because he looked like he had found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

“Sure. It’d be my pleasure. Better yet, let’s take a TNC home.” He rode with her home, and stood in the condo’s lobby, about to say goodbye. They were both lost for several moments in each other’s eyes. Evie had to admit to herself that she was very attracted to Carlo. She thought for a moment, and realized she actually wanted him to kiss her again.

He drew closer to her. She trembled with anticipation. He gave her a friendly peck on the cheek. “’Night, Evie. It totally rocked.”

“Hey! Is that any way to kiss someone who cares about you?” She drew him close, and gave him a long, lingering kiss on the lips.”

“Well. I stand corrected,” he stated. “We’ll have to take up where we left off next time.” As he walked away, waving at her, she called out, “G’nite, Carlo. It was great…I really enjoyed myself. See you tomorrow.”

***

Friday, January 25th

Carlo made her smile as he poked his head in her office. “Hey you. How’s your day going?” she asked.

“I must say I’m doing better now.”

His eyes teased and she enjoyed the flirtation. “Hmm. Well try to behave yourself, and maybe it will stay that way.” Her eyes teased back, as she got ready for her day.

***

Lunchtime came, and true to form, Evie was famished. She looked up, and saw a familiar face staring at her. “Michael! What brings you here? This is a nice surprise.”

“Hey…is there a law that says I can’t visit my sis every once in a while?”

“No, there isn’t. And I’m glad, because I really miss you.” Her eyes brightened. “Hey, want to join your sis for lunch?”

“Why sure…I’d be delighted.”

“It’s on me, Michael.”

“You don’t have to do that Evie.”

“I insist…please?”

He tousled her hair and smiled good-naturedly. “Okay. Well, then, where are we going?”

“I figured we’d go to Kramer Books and Afterwards; it’s my favorite hangout for lunch, and it’s close by.

“Sounds like a plan. Let’s do it.”

As they walked over to the restaurant, Evie couldn’t help but notice that Michael attracted the attention and stares of lots of women, all discreetly stealing glances at him whenever they could. Evie looked at him, and the realization made her startle. Whoa! He is a hottie. As she blushed at the thought, she now understood Gracie’s remarks from the first time he and Gracie had met.

Finished, Michael put his napkin down, and leaned back, satisfied. “Say sis. This was actually very enjoyable. We should get the gang together and hang out one evening. Just because I usually see you as part of my duties doesn’t mean it has to be boring.”

Her mouth opened wide. “Can you do that sort of thing? I know the Father and I have to work out our differences, so don’t you think He might not approve?”

“Well, it’s not really against any rules.”

“I don’t know Michael. I’d hate to get you in any trouble—”

“Well, I guess you could see it that way.” He smiled half-heartedly, put down his napkin and just stared at the table, embarrassed. He didn’t look her directly in the eyes for quite a while. He finally shook himself out of his stupor, and looked up at her. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude.”

The realization hit her hard in the gut. “Michael...oh my goodness...I’ve hurt your feelings, haven’t I?”

He smiled sheepishly. “Honestly, I’m not sure. I guess I’m rather new at dealing with human emotions.” He looked at her admiringly. “It seems my former second in command is a very different kind of person these days: you seem to handle emotions very well.”

“Well, I’ve been through a lot lately, so yes...I imagine I do deal with emotions. Although, I’m not sure how well I handle them.” She looked straight at him. “But I did hurt your feelings, didn’t I?”

“I...don’t usually get emotional...at least I don’t think so...do I?”

Evie smiled, and took his hands into hers. “Michael, sweet brother of mine…take it from your sister. I’ve hurt a few people’s feelings lately, I ashamed to say. I recognize that look.”

“You do?” He wasn’t sure what to think or say or what look she recognized. He had to admit; Evie did help him discover his gentler side.

“I do,” she answered. “And I think it would be great to get the old gang together. I really miss them.”

Michael smiled with unexpected delight. “Hey: it’ll be great to spend some time with you and the gang. How about this Saturday night at about seven?”

“I’ll be there with bells on. Would it be okay if I brought Carlo, Rachel and her boyfriend Ben Cohen along?”

“The more the merrier, sis.”

“Awesome. I can hardly wait; and thanks, Michael. I really enjoyed our lunch. We really must do this more often.”

“You betcha, sis.” He kissed her gently on the forehead, and said goodbye.

“Oh, and Michael…?”

“Yes?”

“Gracie was right. You are a hottie. So do us women a favor and try not to break our hearts as you walk down the street, will ya?” she said, enjoying every minute of teasing him.

He responded in kind. “You’d better watch it, sister. You’re incorrigible”

A mock sigh: “Yes. Aren’t I?”

Michael left, still chuckling at Evie’s remark. He felt the presence at first, then, with a discrete glance to his left, noticed him. Agent Farooqi stood in the foyer of the old hotel undergoing renovation on Dupont Circle. Not being able to resist the urge to have a little fun with the man, he walked right towards him into the lobby where he was standing. Agent Farooqi turned away from him, feigning ignorance of his presence.

He walked up to him, tapped him on the shoulder. “Hi, Agent Farooqi. I noticed you were observing my behavior, and I thought I might be able to help you with your task.”

“I...that is...I don’t know who you are, sir.”

“Then please allow me to introduce myself,” said Michael. “I am Agent Michael Angelo, and I’m at your service. I believe you think me a rogue agent, who is working outside the parameters of agency policy, is that right?”

“Agent Angelo! You keep showing up out of nowhere. I don’t know how you got away so easily last time, but I’m going to do everything I can to make sure you’re apprehended.” He stood there silent for a few moments. “You know, I’m curious as to why you would suddenly want to cooperate with us.”

“I didn’t exactly say I was cooperating – at least, not the way you think. If you need me, just call me at any time, and I will arrange a meeting.” Michael gave him one of his Mighty Warrior Security business cards. “And I’ll tell you what: if you want to see me again, you can catch me at Christ Community Church again this Sunday. I guarantee you I’ll be there.”

“But wait. I need to ask you a few more questions,” said Farooqi.

“That’s enough questions for one day,” said Michael. “I’ll see you on Sunday.” With that, Michael walked out the door and returned to the New Jerusalem before Farooqi had a chance to object.

Saturday, January 26th

That evening, Evie, Carlo, Rachel and her boyfriend Ben met her angelic friends and family at an Ethiopian restaurant in Adams Morgan. Evie had decided she needed to vary her menu, and this would be an interesting change of pace.

Rachel stared transfixed at Michael until Ben jabbed her in the ribs. “Ow! Ben!” When she stopped rubbing her side, she whispered discretely in Evie’s ear. “Boy Evie, your brother is so-o-o-o hot! Those blue eyes...that curly blond hair...Oh my gracious... It’s a good thing Ben and I have been dating for a while. He’s really tempting.”

“Yeah -- I’ve noticed that.” She rolled her eyes and sighed. What was a girl supposed to do with such a handsome brother? Faroh and Michael wore slacks and polo shirts, with sweaters under their overcoats against the cold. “Well, Faroh, Michael, I dare say you two are very smartly dressed. I approve.”

“Actually, I helped dress them,” added Cydnie. She and Cydnie laughed heartily at that one.

Turn in Carlo’s direction, she saw Carlo gawking at Cydnie. She had on a strapless black empire dress, which showed off her porcelain shoulders, and her pumpkin-colored freckles. Her green eyes sparkled underneath her flaming red mane, which was hanging gracefully just below her shoulders. Her sandalwood platform shoes highlighted the bright plum polish that adorned her toes and her fingernails.

She admired the sartorial taste of her angel friend. “Wow, Cyd. You look really cute.”

“Thank you Evie.” Cydnie beamed, liking the approval.

“Hi Ben, Carlo. I’m Cydnie.” She held out her hand daintily, and offered it to Ben first, then Carlo.

Ben stood there speechless with his eyes riveted on Cydnie. Carlo just stood there with his mouth hanging open, transfixed.

Evie did not like this one bit. Oh good grief. Cydnie had mesmerized all the guys there, practically with her ‘hello.’ Her hard stare burned into Cydnie’s eyes. Cydnie just smile sweetly in return.

“Hi Cydnie. Good to meet you,” said Carlo. He kissed her hand in the old world tradition, and pulled out her chair for her.

Carlo’s behavior perturbed her. Cydnie had him practically drooling all over himself. After some thought, it hit her that she didn’t really have cause to be upset. Did she? They were just good friends, after all. Weren’t they? Well; they had kissed… Carlo’s behavior, however still bothered her, irrational as she knew her feelings to be.

“I must say, Cydnie, you look very attractive in that outfit. It suits you.” Carlo gushed.

Cydnie smiled demurely, looking sweetly at Carlo. “Why thank you Carlo. You’re a gentleman: charming, and very attractive at that.”

Carlo’s infatuation with Cydnie galled her. Cydnie flirted like crazy with Carlo, and she didn’t like it. She couldn’t understand why she was so jealous about Carlo.

Michael communicated directly to Cydnie’s thoughts. Cydnie…decorum.

Why? Is there something wrong with being nice to someone?

No. Nice is fine, but you are coming on to him.

You haven’t said one thing about how I look.

Cydnie ...

Cydnie stared mirthlessly back at him. Keep talking Michael. You’re digging yourself deeper in a hole.

Women!

I heard that.

Michael just smiled.

Evie did a slow simmer while Cydnie smiled and continued her very friendly conversation with Carlo. He had spent most of the night talking to Cydnie, an adoring puppy wagging his tail at her every word. Evie’s blood got hot at first, then rose to a boil, watching Carlo ogle Cydnie.

Later That Same night

In spite of herself, she asked, “Carlo, would you mind driving me home? I hate to be alone on the streets and in the subway this late at night. She found that herself looking forward to it, in spite of what had gone on earlier. However, after Carlo parked, and walked her into the lobby, she became upset. She couldn’t talk, and didn’t want to. How could he so thoroughly embarrass her like that?

“What? What did I do?” he asked, finally.

A few tense seconds ticked by. “Why didn’t you just jump in her lap, and cover her with kisses?” she shot back, her anger rising all over again, turning her face red.

“What? What exactly are you implying?” he asked. “Evie...look...I’ll admit Cydnie is very pretty; and I enjoyed talking to her. But I wasn’t making out with her.”

“Well, you practically gushed all over her throughout the night.”

“Evie...she’s a nice girl, and I enjoyed our conversation. Besides—.” He smiled suddenly, looking Evie directly in the eyes.

Evie didn’t like this. First, he has the audacity to flirt with Cydnie all night and then he starts to act smug about it all. She felt like slapping him, but held back, not wanting to do something she might regret.

“Evie Chen...you’re jealous,” he said.

“I am not.”

“Then why does my talking to Cydnie bother you so much?”

“It doesn’t. You just didn’t have to go gaga all over her like you did.”

“Evie. You and I care about each other. And I’d like to continue developing our relationship.” His eyes twinkled with the implication. “Nothing will change that. But you can’t convince me that you’re not jealous.”

She hated it when he was right. Why did he see through her so well? No fair. The warmth covered her face leaving it a bright crimson. “Okay. Maybe a little.” She felt it coming. Carlo was going to use that same charm on her.

“Evie...”

“What?” Her gaze avoided his.

He gently pulled her face towards his. “Cydnie may be pretty, but you make my heart melt. Do you understand that? Besides, you’re prettier than Cydnie.”

The unexpected adulation from Carlo flustered her, making her blush even more furiously. “Stop it! You’re embarrassing me.”

“Well, then, let me make it easy for you.”

He moved slowly towards her, eyes fixed on hers, making her tremble. Oh dear.It’s happening again. His mouth moved in closed to hers. “Carlo? What are you doing? I’m upset with you.” Her mind wanted to push him away, but her heart melted into a sappy puddle of mush. His lips brushed hers gently, lingering there for a few seconds. Unable to breathe for a long time, she just stood in stunned silence. Her heart wanted more, but her mind was arguing.

“I just wanted you to be sure to know your best friend feels about you.” His smile teased her. Evie swore that his eyes were smoldering underneath that smile.

“You are awful, kissing me like that when I’m supposed to be upset with you,” she chided. Nevertheless, her heart ignored her head, and she pulled him towards her, and kissed him back, the same subtle tease. “Your best friend wanted you to know she feels the same way.” The kiss made her warm deep down in her heart, and she felt inexplicably happy.

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