VD compared notes with Poisonous.
“At least I made kept her blind to the truth,” Poisonous said. “Even if she has listened to The Lamb, we kept her blind for a while” With that, she cackled wickedly.
’Yeah; we sure kept Evie in the dark about redemption. For a while anyways.” That old familiar sadness crept into her heart again. She felt her eyes burning, but she forced herself to maintain composure. She started to say something else, when she looked up and saw Cydnie in front of them, very still, with fire in her eyes.
“Your work is done. Go! And, ladies: I have my sword, and am not afraid to use it.”
She started to protest. “What? No way! Evie was mine and –“
Cydnie held up her sword, and spoke with authority. “You both will leave immediately, or be sent to the Abyss.”
VD knew she had to obey; and honestly, she felt herself being happy for Evie. She didn’t dare say another word, because Cydnie’s face remained rock hard, her jaw set like a flint. Cydnie’s look meant business, and no one with any sense would stay there. Poisonous said nothing. She stood still, her tentacles undulating across her body.
VD left faster than she had ever moved before, sashaying with deliberate strides. Her partner just left -- no expression in her dark grey-green eyes. Even she knew when someone was stronger than she was.
Gracie lay in her bed, the events of the evening replayed in her brain, crying in earnest now. She walked to the living room, sat on the couch, and sobbed, not caring if anyone heard her.
“Oh Peter. I know in my heart I love you…very much. I don’t know what to do but to give you to the Lord ” She looked up towards Heaven, and cried out, “Lord, help me. Give me your peace. If Peter and I are meant to be together, then I’ll trust you for the outcome. In the meantime, I’ll leave him in your hands.” A small smile crept up on her, and she felt a peace in her heart she hadn’t felt in a long time.
Gracie remembered reading about an event from long ago in the land of Israel. A faded memory, read somewhere in the Old Testament; a picture taken long ago which had lost its sharpness and clarity, but now came back into focus after many years. Then, with blinding intensity, the entire sordid passage flashed into her memory. Tamar’s brother Amnon had callously and selfishly raped her, only to hate her in the end, and leave her in misery. Shane had at least had the courage to really care about her, and let her face the truth about her love for Peter.
[Just after Evie’s Salvation]
The shutting of the door caught her attention. E.V. praised the Lord for Evie’s salvation. The pattern of the footsteps gave away their owner. On the lampstand, the blue L.E.D. clock on the stove read 12:04 AM. Then, the sound of tiptoeing feet caught her ear.
“Is that you, Gracie? What time is it?”
“Oh. Hi, E.V. It’s shortly after midnight.”
“Did you have fun with Shane?”
E.V. didn’t believe her. Gracie did a lousy job of trying to hide the depressed look on her face.
“We had a lot of fun…talked about everything under the sun.” Gracie yawned, and started walking towards her room. “I’m tired. Mind if I just go to bed?”
“Sure. No problem. We can catch up later. ’Night, sweetie.” She shook her head and sighed. She desperately missed that happier older sister that Gracie had been to start with. Oh well, It’s in your hands Father. I have a feeling I know what’s wrong, but I’ll leave it with you. You’ll make everything work out.” She returned to bed.
Gracie lay there, wide-awake. No matter how hard she tried, sweet sleep eluded her. She got out of bed, and sat down on the couch in the living room, tears running down her cheeks. It hurt. Bad. She really had loved Peter. Even though he had done nothing to hurt her, it didn’t take away the pain and the guilt she felt in her heart. It ripped through her very being. She realized too late that she was too caught up in her selfish desires to treat Peter fairly. Right now, even E.V. couldn’t help her with that.
The sounds of a bed squeaking came from Evie’s room. Soon, E.V. walked into the kitchen, and put some water on to boil.
She half hoped E.V. would come and talk with her. As it turned out, she got her wish.
“Gracie...honey, are you alright?” E.V. asked.
Gracie tried to stop her crying, and sniffled, “No.”
“Did Shane hurt you?”
The pain and humiliation from the ill-fated relationships of late, including with Peter, burned hotter, and she started crying again. E.V. came over to her, and held her arms around her. Gracie buried her head against E.V. and couldn’t stop herself. All those doubts and fears continued to bubble their way to the surface. Some of the pain left her. She even had to admit to herself that she really liked E.V. holding her. It was the most comforting embrace she had felt in a long time, outside of Peter and Shane’s.
When she finally regained some of her composure, she answered, “E.V., I broke up with Shane tonight. I admitted to him finally that I’m still in love with Peter. I don’t really feel like continuing to date Jay, either.”
“I’m sorry, sweetie. Honestly. I know how much you love him.”
“Well, I can’t help but feel that I caused him to leave me for very selfish reasons…” Gracie’s face turned away now, and tears started falling again.
“Gracie? Now what’s wrong?”
Gracie started crying in again in earnest. “Oh Evie. I’ve made a fool of myself...again. I let my anger get the better of me, and drove Peter away. And what hurts the worst is that I really care about him.”
E.V. held Gracie’s hands in hers and listened.
“But he left me, and rightly so. I was mean and thoughtless to him. I wish I had acted differently then, but now it’s too late.”
“I know, honey. I know you’ve been very sad lately, and it’s tearing you apart.”
Gracie’s eye popped wide open. “You know?”
“Yes, honey. I knew. I just don’t know how to make things better for you, and really, I’m sure I couldn’t have if I tried. I knew from what Michael had told us that you would have to be broken before you would be willing to change.”
“Michael? The archangel Michael?” Gracie’s eyebrows rose almost up to her hairline. “I don’t believe that Michael has been paying such careful attention to me, never mind that fact that he has been talking with you, and probably the rest of our family.”
“Yes, honey; him; but the truth is, no matter the source of that information, I still figured this to happen. I knew Peter was bound to leave you. I told you all along. Remember?”
She winced, then looked back at her. “Yes. I do. Well. To be perfectly honest, I knew I was being unreasonable; I just refused to see how badly it affected our relationship. I’ve been a fool, Evie. And what’s worse...” Gracie turned her head away. “...I thought that you were just trying to be a goody-goody. I thought you didn’t really care about me; you just wanted to me to be that wonderful big sister you were at first so fond of.”
E.V.’s face darkened. “Honestly, I am naïve sometimes – I’ll admit that; I’d be foolish not to.” She paused, frowning with sadness. “And yes, I try to control things too; but you could never convince me that I don’t care about you. Do you really think me such a cold and manipulating person that I would just want you to live up to some preconceived notion of me?”
“The sad thing is that you have experienced more than Peter leaving you; you’ve realized that it was unnecessary...and that really hurts. I tried to stop you, but I couldn’t.”
Tears started streaming down E.V.’s cheeks. “Oh Gracie,” she choked, and looked directly at her, sadly. “I didn’t want you to live up to my expectations. I was really just sad that you were going through a painful experience all over again. At least Peter really cared – and cares about you – and he didn’t use you, like Brian did. I guess that was the answer to our prayers: I finally found redemption, and you have been broken by what your temper caused.”
She frowned. “I appreciate what you’re saying, but it doesn’t help me now: I’ve lost – probably forever – the one man I have truly loved.” Gracie turned her stare upward “Why...? Why did you let me do this stupid thing with Peter?” The tears resumed streaming down her face. “Why do I have to go through this misery? Lord, don’t leave me to feel this hurt and anger in my soul for the rest of this wretched existence on this earth. I can’t take it any more.” She covered her face with her hands, as tears ran down her face in earnest. Her voice filled with emotion. Her words choked out. “Please, Father, forgive me…” Unable to speak any longer spoke, she sobbed, unable to stop.
E.V walked towards her, and held her tight in her arms, hugging her even tighter, and said, “Honey. I think I finally understand what the real problem is, but we need our family…our entire family involved in this. We need to pay mom, dad, Tony, probably Uncle Eddy and Aunt Florrie a visit tomorrow at our Sunday dinner.
Gracie lay in her bed, defeated, looking towards Heaven. “Father, I’ve been so wrong. I...I’ve disgraced myself before you.” Tears rolled down her cheeks anew. “My heart must have hardened to cause Peter to leave me. I can’t believe how foolish I’ve been...again.”
I still love you, Gracie.
“Oh, Father. Would you find it in your heart to forgive me?”
Yes. Just sin no more. Trust me for your happiness.
“I will...I promise I will—” She yawned, and exhausted, fell asleep before she could think another thought.