Authors: Christa J. Kinde
Tags: #Retail, #Ages 11 & Up
“That’s good,” Prissie murmured.
“It is glorious!” interjected Koji from his perch.
Milo returned the boy’s triumphant look with a bright smile. “Sure is!”
Grandma Nell returned, her glasses balanced on the end of her nose as she scanned Ida’s letter. “Ida’s excited about how well their meetings have been going. Isn’t that just wonderful?”
“Glorious,” Prissie mumbled with a sidelong glance at Koji, who swung one leg over the edge of the fridge.
“Sure is!” Milo agreed with sparkling eyes, completing the loop.
Grandma Nell read further and shared, “They’re going to be in Greece next. Loren is excited about the chance to visit all of the historical sites.”
“I didn’t know Uncle Lo liked ruins,” Prissie said vaguely.
Milo casually commented, “I’m sure you remember that Paul’s missionary journeys took him through Greece. That’s probably what he has in mind.”
“Oh … well,
,” Prissie replied with weak bravado.
“Sure enough,” Grandma Nell agreed. “Ida says he can’t wait to visit Ephesus.”
Draining the last of his tea with a rattle of ice cubes, Milo stood. “Thank you so much for your hospitality, ma’am, but I should be on my way.” Carrying his dishes to the sink, he paused in the act of turning and remarked, “Something smells good!”
“That would be Prissie’s pie,” Nell slyly remarked.
“No kidding?” the mailman inquired, looking impressed.
“Grandma’s, too,” Prissie protested, blushing under the attention.
“Yes, but one is Prissie’s,” Grandma declared in her no-nonsense way. “Sweetie, go on and walk Milo to his car. You’ve plenty of time before your baking’s ready to come out of the oven.”
“Yes, Grandma.” Prissie pushed her chair back and sent Koji a pleading look. Much to her relief, the boy hopped down, quickly joining her and Milo as they filed out the door and down the walk.
Once they were out of earshot of her grandparent’s house, Milo spoke up. “Miss Priscilla, I want to apologize.”
She stared resolutely at her feet. “What would you be apologizing
Milo ran his fingers over the top of his curling hair and replied, “For contributing to your unbelief at a time when faith is needed most.”
She wrinkled her nose. “I’m not even sure what that
Apologies should make
“Can you suggest a better one?” he gently prodded.
Prissie’s steps lagged at the thought, but no matter which way she turned their situation around, she couldn’t think of anything with which to accuse Milo.
Koji broke in. “Are you growing accustomed to the idea of angels, Prissie?”
“What choice do I have?” she sighed. “Every time I turn around, there you are.”
Unfazed by the edge to her tone, Koji persisted. “You do not fear us.”
“Obviously,” she huffed.
“There are more of us,” Milo quietly announced. “Others you could meet, if you’re interested.” They reached his car, and he opened the door. “I would be honored to introduce you.”
“I’ll think about it.”
Milo nodded patiently and slid into the vehicle, then leaned out the open window. “I’m glad there was a package today,” he said earnestly.
“It was providential?” she asked breezily.
“Positively,” he agreed. “I’ll be waiting for your answer.”
re they in danger?” Milo asked worriedly.
“Undoubtedly,” Harken answered. “There are many who would thwart God’s purposes.”
“At least they’re not alone.”
The senior Messenger shook his head. “A mixed blessing, since it draws the interest of our enemies.”
Milo confessed, “It’s kind of frustrating. Miss Priscilla has been given the
glimpse of heavenly things. I want to show her
, but in many ways, she’s still blind.”
“Things have a way of unfolding,” Harken reminded. “I feel this is just the beginning.”
The eastern horizon was just beginning to blush when a knock on the front door of Loafing Around caught Jayce
Pomeroy’s attention. He waved at the figure darkening his doorstep, but finished sliding trays of warm muffins into the bakery case before crossing to undo the lock. “Good morning!” he greeted. “It’s a little earlier than I usually open, but I’ve been known to make exceptions for paperboys.”
“No, sir, but thank you, sir,” the teen replied, nervously adjusting the strap on his newspaper bag. He cleared his throat, then launched into what had to be a very brief but carefully prepared speech. “Excuse me, sir. My name’s Ransom Pavlos, and I was wondering if you’re looking for part-time help?”
“Sweeping up and taking out the trash don’t take much time in a shop this size, and I already have someone to run the register,” Jayce answered. Noting the flicker of disappointment on Ransom’s face, he made a quick decision and added, “There are always dishes to do, I suppose.”
“I don’t mind doing that kind of work,” the young man quickly assured. “But I want to learn the trade. I want to bake.”
“You’re interested in breads?” Jayce asked curiously.
“And pastries, yeah,” Ransom replied, holding the older man’s gaze.
“Why don’t you come in,” Mr. Pomeroy invited, holding the door wide. He waved the teen to one of the tables and took a seat across from him. “
— it’s not the aspiration of every young man.”
“Was it yours?”
“It was,” Jayce replied evenly.
“I want to decorate cakes, too,” Ransom confessed, color rising in his cheeks.
“No kidding!” the bakery owner replied, nodding approvingly.
“Yeah, that’d be cool.”
Jayce grinned broadly. “I think we can work something out. When can you start?”
Ransom straightened. “Seriously?”
“Sure,” Mr. Pomeroy replied, chuckling at the young man’s obvious relief.
“Early mornings or after school,” the teen replied. “If you can match what I get for my morning paper route, my dad won’t put up as much of a stink when I give it up. He’s not exactly pleased about my plans.”
Jayce nodded and confided, “Mine wasn’t either. He was
disappointed that I didn’t want to drive a tractor.”
“Mine’s set on some kinda office job. I dunno exactly,” Ransom shrugged.
“Do you want to come back now and explore the kitchen?” Mr. Pomeroy offered.
For a moment, the teen looked tempted, but he shook his head. “I gotta finish my route.”
“Fair enough,” Jayce replied. “Come back whenever you can, and we’ll work out the details.”
“Not unless you’re willing to meet me at First Baptist,” Mr. Pomeroy casually invited. “You’re welcome to.”
“Uhh … not my thing,” Ransom mumbled. “Is Monday good?”
“Sure. The bakery’s closed, but I’m here all afternoon doing prep. You can lend a hand, and we’ll take it from there.”
“Yeah,” the teen agreed, smiling crookedly. “Thanks, sir.”
Prissie twirled, admiring the way her skirt flared out, before taking a seat on one of the benches inside the gazebo in front of town hall. She’d bought the snowy white sundress with its pattern of red poppies to wear to her best friend Margery’s birthday party next week, but couldn’t resist giving it a test run on the off-chance that she would run into Milo. Of course, she didn’t really
to see him, but it might be nice to be seen.
Being angry with someone she cared about made Prissie unhappy, so she’d been relieved when the mailman had acted more like himself when delivering Aunt Ida’s package to Grandma’s. Maybe it
possible to pretend nothing had happened, and then everything could go back to normal.
She’d seen neither hide nor hair of Koji all day, which seemed strange after all his tagging along. It was easy to convince herself that she didn’t miss having him around, but harder to explain why her world suddenly felt off-kilter.
Even Margery and April hadn’t responded to her offer to meet up while she was in town. The only messages in her inbox for the last few days had been an update notification from Uncle Loren’s missionary blog and a forwarded email full of silly cat pictures from Grammie Esme.
Giving one of her braids a firm pat, she opened the book she’d just checked out from their library and flipped through the pages. The travel guide detailed the natural splendor and cultural highlights of Greece with big, glossy photographs and easy-to-digest blurbs. “This is where Aunt Ida will be going next,” she murmured to nobody in particular. Momma was still in the little one-room library, helping Zeke and Jude make their picks.
At first, when she heard steps, she assumed Beau had decided to join her, but the footfalls came too fast to belong
to her brother, who walked very slowly while poring over a new book. When the newcomer stepped lightly into the gazebo, she looked up … and blinked.
A young man with glossy auburn hair that fell smoothly to his shoulders strolled to the opposite side of the wooden structure to peer up and down Main Street, giving her the chance to look him over. He was handsomely dressed in a neat summer suit with a white linen jacket. Prissie darted a glance toward the library doors, hoping the rest of her family wouldn’t take long. They didn’t get many strangers in West Edinton, and something about this one made her uneasy.
When she peeped back at him, he was leaning against the far railing, his hands in his pockets as he watched her. “How do you do?” he politely inquired.
“Very well, thank you,” she automatically replied, giving him a cautious smile. “Are you visiting in town?”
“Oh, I’m from around here,” he replied, gesturing vaguely to the east.
“Really?” she replied doubtfully.
He smirked. “Do you know
The challenge in his tone irked her. “No, but you don’t really fit in.”
“You don’t think so?” he inquired. With a smile, he touched the red handkerchief tucked into his breast pocket, then waved at her. “I think I fit in perfectly … with
It was true. Dressed as he was in red and white, he couldn’t have coordinated better if he’d tried. “I guess we
match,” she said with a weak laugh.
“They say imitation is a form of flattery,” he suavely replied. “So, tell me, have you spoken to Mr. Leggett recently, or are you still giving him the cold shoulder?”
“You know Milo?” she asked, sitting up a little straighter.
“Doesn’t everyone?” the stranger laughed.
“I suppose so,” Prissie cautiously admitted. “Since he’s the mailman.”
“Oh, Mr. Leggett is
than an acquaintance,” the young man announced. “I’ve known him for years … centuries even.” Prissie’s eyes widened, and he held up a finger in a shushing motion. “That’s right, Miss Pomeroy; I’m an angel, too. My name is Adin.”
Prissie slowly closed her library book and hugged it against her chest. “Do you have a message for me?” she asked wonderingly.
“I’m not a Messenger, though I know the routine,” he replied with a benign smile. Cutting a small bow, he announced, “You’ve been
, highly favored one.”
“I’m not sure what you mean,” she said uncomfortably.
“Oh, I think you do,” Adin countered. “What are you afraid of, Miss Pomeroy? Do you think the servants of God would harm you in any way?”
She straightened. “Don’t be ridiculous! They would
“I understand you have some qualms about dealing with us,” he calmly interjected. “I don’t blame you, not
, but I happen to think that you’re overlooking a golden opportunity! Don’t you want to have an adventure?”
“No, I don’t,” she replied crisply. “I like my life just fine.”
Adin’s brows arched in surprise. “Most people wish for more, but you show wisdom beyond your years. Such contentment is admirable!”
A pleased smile flickered across Prissie’s face, and she relaxed slightly. “Really?”
“Still, I think you should give us a chance,” he mused aloud. “You must be needed for something important if the unseen realms have been revealed to a young lady such as yourself.”
She nodded thoughtfully. “It makes sense that there would be a
“Few are called upon to take a prominent place in the grand scheme of things,” Adin declared. “God must have something
in store for you! He probably
“And isn’t that the same thing they
asked? Ruth, Esther, Mary—I could go on.” Adin smiled winsomely and stepped closer.
“I really don’t think I’m anything like them,” Prissie murmured, a blush spreading across her cheeks.
“So modest,” Adin sighed. “It’s no wonder you were chosen.”
“What should I do?” she asked.
His expression grew solemn, and he took another step. “Trust your heart. You’re a good girl with a good head on your shoulders; do what seems right.”
Just then, a high, clear voice called out, “Prissie! Prissie! Look at my stories!” She spotted Jude trundling along the path, a precarious pile of books in his arms. When she turned back to apologize to Adin, the angel was gone. Her youngest brother thumped up the steps and exclaimed, “I found all kinds of ones about
Prissie inspected his stack and assured him that she was properly impressed by his haul, but the back of her mind was busy mulling over Adin’s advice … and his appearance. Milo was good-looking, but in a dusty, down-home way. No one
mistake the mailman for an angel, but Adin was more what she expected an angel to be — confident, well-spoken, and a little bit mysterious. Both Koji and Milo had mentioned
members of their group that she could meet. Maybe if there were more like Adin, it wouldn’t be so bad.
While they were in town, the family dropped by the bakery before heading back to the farm. The boys cheerfully accepted the cookies Auntie Lou doled out, but Prissie begged for a private word with her father. Jayce offered her a table-for-two or a turn around the block, and Prissie opted for the walk. In a big family, one-on-one time with parents was usually brief, so once they were back outdoors, she plunged right in. “You know Mr. Mercer really well, right? You trust him?”
“Sure, sure,” Jayce replied easily, hooking his thumbs into the apron ties at his waist and gazing up at the sky. “The Curiosity Shop’s been there since I was your age, and I used to go in there and read cookbooks. We’d talk … more like I’d talk, and he’d listen. He helped me find the courage to do what I’d always wanted to do. Harken’s a good man.”
“So when you decided to become a baker, it was because of him?”
“Not entirely, no,” her father replied. “I prayed about it, of course, and I asked my mother’s advice. Circumstances dictated as well, because the bakery’s previous owner was nearing retirement and agreed to sell the place to me once I finished my schooling.”
Prissie kicked at a rock. “Everything just came together?”
“Looking back, it seems that way, but at the time, it felt like I was taking a huge risk.”
“If you have to make a decision, how do you know you’re making the right one?” she asked.
Jayce chuckled. “It’s not an exact science. Life is full of opportunities and crossroads that give us a chance to apply our gifts and abilities in new ways. Sometimes there’s no right or wrong answer.” Prissie looked at her father as if he was crazy, and he laughed aloud. “Choices are rarely that simple.”
“That doesn’t help much,” she grumbled.
“You have a decision to make?” he inquired.
“Yes, although it doesn’t seem like I have much of a choice.”
“Have you talked to your mother about it?”
“Sort of,” she admitted.
“That’s good,” he said. “Do you want to go into specifics?”
Prissie shook her head. “Sorry, it’s too weird to explain.”
“Fair enough,” Mr. Pomeroy replied. “Well, then as long as you’ve gotten wise counsel, all I can say is to watch the circumstances. They have a way of nudging us in the right direction if we’re paying attention.”
“Okay, Daddy,” she said in a small voice.
Back inside Loafing Around, Prissie discovered that her brothers had been commandeered by Auntie Lou to peel carrots, and her mother was sharing a cup of coffee with Uncle Lou. Once Jayce excused himself to wash up and get back to work, she hesitated on the edge of her choice, then made it.
“Momma, do I have time to run over to The Curiosity Shop?” Prissie begged.
Naomi Pomeroy glanced at her watch. “Is half an hour enough?” she asked.
“More than enough.”
A soft chime accompanied her entrance into Harken’s bookstore. The old man looked up and smiled. “Hello, Prissie.” Holding up a finger, he raised his voice and called, “We have company, Milo!”
For a few seconds, she caught distant notes of music — achingly sweet and strangely uplifting — and then there was a soft click, like a door closing. Milo appeared in the next moment, and his eyes took on a shine. “Hey, there, Miss Priscilla,” he said warmly. “Welcome back …?”
His greeting held a question that was echoed in Harken’s expectant expression. Neither pressed; they simply waited. Looking from one to the other, Prissie drew a deep, shaky breath, then blurted, “Okay.”
Harken and Milo exchanged a glance, and the bookstore owner inquired, “Okay?”
“Yes. Okay. I’m willing to listen … or whatever,” Prissie said in a rush. “I don’t understand what’s going on, but if you guys need me, I don’t feel right about refusing.”