Authors: Elise Marion
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Paranormal
By: Elise Marion
Copyright 2011 by Elise Marion
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any manner whatsoever.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, places, or people living or dead is coincidental.
The author acknowledges the trademark status and trademark of products or people used in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication use of these trademarks is not associated with, or sponsored by, the trademark owners.
In Loving Memory of:
Brett Haley, who now makes his home amongst the angels.
May God keep you until we meet again.
Chapter 1: The Assignment
The room reeked of death. It was a smell Amir would never get used to, but one he had encountered several times before
and was sure to encounter again. As he approached the bed where the little girl lay sleeping, a sharp, stabbing pain shot through the right side of his head. For a human being this pain would be crippling. To him, it was a tool, a part of him that was completely in tune with the people he came in contact with. He approached the right side of the bed and looked down at the precious child sleeping deeply, probably swimming in morphine. Human doctors had done what they could for the girl and declared her situation hopeless. But Amir worked for a higher power.
Her name was Christina Bates and she was only six years old. A brain tumor on the right temporal lobe was slowly killing her, and everyone but her mother had given up hope. It was because of the prayers of the mother that he was here.
He closed his eyes and held one hand inches away from her head. He concentrated on the intense pain he felt in his own head, trying to locate the source of it. In his mind’s eye he could see past her skin and bone, through layers of brain tissue and
buried deep inside, the cancerous growth. It was ugly, a stain on the otherwise perfect brain. With his eyes still closed, he focused on the tumor until he felt the entire mass break away. Like wisps of black smoke, the cancer left her and floated upward toward his palm before evaporating into thin air.
He pulled his hand away and opened his eyes. He turned to where Christina’s mother was sitting, just inches away on the other side of the bed. She had been dozing off in the chair beside her daughter’s bed, but was now wide awake and staring at him. Amir stood and stared back, waiting for her to react.
If she had not seen what he’d just done, he would probably look just like any other ordinary person to her. In his human form he was taller than most
but not unusually so. Wavy black hair caressed the back of his neck, and warm velvety brown eyes were a part of his disguise, as well as a passably attractive face. He was dressed normally, in khaki pants and
leather jacket over a button-down shirt. From the outside, nothing about him appeared to be out of the ordinary, but as he locked eyes with Mrs. Bates he knew that she knew better.
What’s your name?” she asked calmly, calmer than most. He hadn’t meant for her to witness her daughter’s healing, but some things just couldn’t be avoided. He’d been caught several times and most people tended to become hysterical when they realized what he was. He was grateful that he was not going to have to use his ability to erase the memory of his presence from a person’s mind.
Amir,” he answered simply.
You’re an angel aren’t you?” she asked, rising to her feet, never taking her eyes off of him.
He nodded. “Your prayers have been heard. Your daughter will live.”
Tears poured down Mrs. Bates’ cheeks and she burst into loud sobs, burying her face in her hands. Amir felt her joy, and it caused a wide smile to break out across his face. His heart nearly burst with the fullness of it.
Thank you,” she said, laughing and crying at the same time. “They said she wouldn’t live. They said I was foolish to believe. But I wasn’t, was I?”
Amir shook his head. “Never stop believing.”
He turned to leave, his task completed. As he exited the hospital, he shoved his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket. Walking at a brisk pace, he set off toward the diner at the end of the street.
Father has a new assignment for you. He wishes to speak with you immediately.”
Amir sat across from Sarah in a corner booth at the diner. Sarah, a messenger angel, had been sent for him. He was to report to Father immediately for his next assignment. Stirring his coffee absently with his spoon, he stared into the murky depths of the cup. Though he did not feel hunger or thirst, he found that he quite enjoyed coffee. He didn’t eat often, and when he did it was for the sheer enjoyment of the different tastes and textures. But whenever he was on earth, he drank coffee as often as he could. Taking one last sip he pushed the cup aside, dropped a few dollars onto the table and stood. Sarah followed him out into the busy city street.
Aren’t you coming?” he asked.
She shook her head. “I have other messages to deliver. You go ahead. He is waiting.”
Amir and Sarah separated at the corner. He quickened his pace, moving toward a row of warehouses that he knew were practically abandoned. He needed a high launching point and preferred the rooftops of city buildings. After climbing several sets of stairs, he reached the roof of one warehouse. Turning in a circle to ensure that no one was around, he knelt
transformed into his angelic body, wings stretched wide.
Within seconds he was hurtling toward billowy white clouds, through the pale blue sky. Higher he climbed, until the pale blue of the morning became the midnight black of space. As always, he slowed down to marvel at the beauty of the universe as he hurtled past planet after planet, past the bright burning sun, past clusters of twinkling stars, some shooting along beside him.
He headed toward the most distant and brightest star, gaining speed as he approached. A flash of light enveloped him as he drew near. He had arrived in heaven.
Nothing on earth could compare to this place, he thought as he flew over the brilliantly shining city. The sun here was brighter than any star, and there was not one shadow to be found. Trees and flowers
the likes of nothing any human had ever seen
dotted the landscape with brilliant bursts of color. From where he flew he could look down upon the golden streets, winding their way through buildings higher than any skyscraper. At the very center was his destination.
He landed on the steps of the shining building at the very heart of the city. Nodding at a few of his friends in greeting, he entered through the opened doors into the inner courtyard. He paused at the tall double doors at the far end of the courtyard. The gates leading to the throne room of Father.
When Amir entered the room, he knelt immediately and used his wings to shield his face. The presence of Father was so radiant and bright that he could not look upon him while standing so close. The light and warmth that was an inherent part of Father enveloped him and Amir closed his eyes and enjoyed it, waiting for him to speak.
My son, Amir.” The voice was booming yet gentle. “I have a new assignment for you. This one will take up quite a bit of time.”
Behind his closed eyelids, he saw the image of a woman in a hospital bed. At least, he thought it was a woman; it was kind of hard to see what was beneath all of the wires and tubes. This woman had been badly hurt, and Amir could see that she was barely clinging to life.
Her name is Shayla Gaines,” Father continued. “She’s a twenty-seven year old ballet dancer. She was in hit by a car one week ago and has been in the intensive care unit at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan since. The doctors have said that she will not live and
if she does live, she will never regain full use of her legs. But I have other plans. Her healing must be gradual; one step at a time. I want her to walk again, to dance again.”
I will begin immediately, Father.”
Very good, my son.”
One week earlier…
Shayla untied the satin ribbons of her pointe shoes and flexed her aching feet. The eight-hour-a-day rehearsals were starting to wear her out, but it would all be worth it when the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater kicked off its world tour in a few weeks. Making the decision to drop out of college two years ago
when she was only one semester from graduating with an MBA
to become a professional ballerina had not come easily. Her parents had been angry, so angry that they had cut her off completely. She had not heard from them since. Her friends had told her she was crazy. She often wondered if they were right those first few years. Audition after audition, rejection after rejection, each one a fresh heartbreak.
She had been so sure of her purpose, so certain that leaving college behind and pursuing her dream had been the right idea. Now that she was a part of Alvin Ailey, the most popular modern dance company in the world, and a part of something that embodied the African-American experience, she knew that she had made the right decision. When she’d received the offer from Alvin Ailey, how could she have refused? She was happier than she had ever been, family or no family. She knew she had plenty of time to make a family of her own.
She removed her skirt and slid a pair of jeans on over her leotard and tights. She stuffed her feet into a pair of sneakers and wrapped a scarf around her neck before donning a baseball cap over her ponytail. Thinking of the Indian takeout menu in her kitchen and a hot bath, she threw her pointe shoes into her duffel bag, slung it over her shoulder, and hurried out the door.
The cool evening breeze felt wonderful on her face as she walked toward the curb. She stopped just long enough to ensure that the street sign across from her read “Walk” before she stepped into the crosswalk. She did not see the bright headlights of the speeding SUV until it was too late.
Chapter 2: The Breath of Life
Amir paused outside of Shayla Gaines’ hospital room. Before his hand had even touched the knob, terrible pain wracked his entire body. It was so intense that it nearly knocked him to his knees; he found himself fighting for breath. The fact that this woman was even still alive was a miracle in itself. Amir took a deep, shaky breath before entering the room.
He was taken aback to find her completely alone, with only the buzz and hum of the machinery keeping her alive for company. Did she not have any family or friends to sit beside her? Was there no one in her life who cared enough to be there?
As he neared the bed the pain became more intense, but Amir continued on. The closer he got the more the pain increased, yet he began to feel something else as well. It was a feeling that welled up inside of him until he was nearly bursting with it. Determination. This woman was a fighter. Amir smiled; this would make his job that much easier.
He stood for a moment and watched her, trying to see the person beneath all of the bruising and equipment. Her skin was smooth and brown like mahogany where it wasn’t black and blue. Her eyes were closed but he pictured velvety brown eyes in his mind behind long lashes. He could barely see the rest of her face for the oxygen cannula in her nose, the tube down her throat and the tape holding it in place. Her chest rose and fell with the help of the machine beside her, but she was otherwise still. Dark brown hair with lighter brown highlights fanned out on the pillow beneath her head.
Before he began his work, he decided to have a peek at Shayla’s memories, something he liked to do with all of his longer-term assignments. It gave him insight on what drove people to survive and allowed him to help them draw on those things during their times of weakness. All it took was a little gentle probing on his part to learn everything there was to know about a person. He held one hand inches away from her head and closed his eyes, swiftly flipping through Shayla’s lifetime of memories.