I drive home in a euphoric state. The wind laps against my bare arm as I cruise down the road. The traffic is minimal and I pick up my speed, not caring if my driving is hazardous or not. I look in my rear view mirror and am pleased that I have no one behind me. I crank my music to an almost-intolerable level and bob my head as if I know the song. Which of course I don't.
The last remnant of the sun dips below the horizon, turning the ocean from its radiant blue sparkles into an ominous shade of black. The moon is already peeking out from behind the clouds to get a better look at the earth below.
Out of habit, I again look in my rear view mirror and headlights are staring back at me. I try to squint beyond them to see the driver but it's useless. I make the winding twists and turns that lead up to my house and my stomach clenches as I realize the headlights are still behind me. I am being followed.
I purse my lips in irritation, reaching to my stereo to hush its blaring tones. I hone in on the car behind me. Its engine is quiet, like the purr of a small kitten. I make the final turn to my house and see that this mystery car is pulling up right behind me.
I keep my car running, thinking that's the safest plan of action in case I need to make a quick getaway. I shift my body slightly, tipping my head back to get a closer look at the trespasser. The car is sleek and white, its shine so slick that the air must glide right off it. It's a nice car no doubt and must have cost a fortune. The driver's side door opens, and the first thing I see are men's white dress shoes stepping from the car. They seem to match the car itself - lustrous, glossy, and expensive.
The man fully emerges himself and I move my gaze from his white shoes, to his white pants, to his pin striped white jacket. And then I look to his face my heart seems to fold into itself. It's Tobiah.
I stomp into my house, slamming the door behind me and cursing under my breath. Why the hell is he here? In human form….and driving a car….that is now parked right behind mine!?
I peer through my front curtains and see Tobiah lifting out a piece of luggage from his trunk. It too is a pristine white, with matching polished handles. How quaint. I try to hold onto my anger but the childish side of me is squirming in fear. The last time the angel brought in a package for me it was the remains of my dead husband. I can't possibly imagine what he has in store for me now.
No sooner have I pried myself away from the window and I hear a soft knock on my front. I can't imagine why the angel is using my front door now, when every other time he has chosen to just appear out of nowhere.
My feet seem to move of their own accord and when I open the front door I am filled with mixed emotions. I mustn't look weak. I bring my eyes to stare confidently into his. My stomach flip-flops as his smoldering blue eyes burn into mine. Who knew angels were so drop dead gorgeous? He killed your husband Stella - or have you already forgotten? My demon squawks at the thought, her evil mind still wanting revenge on the man that now stands before me.
"Hello, Stella," Tobiah says calmly.
I frown as I hear his voice. It is the same pitch and volume as before, but without the reverberation of 'heavenly power' behind it. In fact, the more I look at him the more I realize his physique has become more human than angelic. Of course he is still the most handsome man I have ever seen in my life, but the glow around him has faded.
"Tobiah…." I say hesitantly and the angel holds his hand up to stop me.
"Please - for the time being, just call me Jeremy."
He smiles and I wait to get some sort of mental message from him. But I don't.
"Oh-kay? Jeremy then. Is there, uhm, something I can do for you?" I ask as I lean against the frame of the door.
Jeremy looks behind him and then reaches into his pocket. He pulls out his set of keys and presses the top button, locking his car with a soft and muted "beep" sound. When he turns back to me he takes a step forward.
"May I come in?"
He shoulders his way through the doorway, setting his luggage to the floor, and then standing erect as his eyes dart around the interior of my house. I can't help but gape at this man in white standing before me. He has such confidence and such power, even as a human.
"Stella, I'm going to be staying with you for a while," Jeremy murmurs as he focuses his eyes once again on my face. "You can't seem to listen to my instructions, so now I have the…unpleasant… task of enforcing the rule myself. Please understand, I will not interfere with your life or your work. I'm simply here to make sure you stay away from Evan."
Ugh. Again with the Evan thing.
"Would you like to show me to my living chambers?" Jeremy asks, his face serious but kind.
I pinch the bridge of my nose and inhale sharply. How on earth is one supposed to dispose of an angel?!
"Tobiah - I mean, Jeremy. Forgive me but - there's no way in hell you're staying in my house. First of all, you murdered my husband. And second of all, I did do what you asked. I stayed away from your friend. But Evan came to ME. I like the guy so I'm going to keep seeing him whether you like it or not. And just as an FYI, I'm not as bad as the Big Man upstairs says I am, so I definitely don't need you sticking around to check up on me."
There, that's a start anyway.
Jeremy frowns at me, the corners of his lips creasing downward. His eyes narrow and his cheeks redden a shade or two. I grin at how harmless he seems now as a mere human. I would bet I have many more powers than he does now. The thought is comforting.
"Stella. I am staying here whether you like it or not."
As he says this, my front door slams closed and locks on its own. Bummer. Ok, maybe he does still have a magic power or two up his sleeve.
"I didn't want to interfere in your life Stella, believe me. I am much more useful as an angel, rather than a permanent babysitter to a demon. But because of your mistakes, I was assigned to stay with you until either Evan is over you, or until he is in our heavenly chamber. And the "Big Man" you so carelessly refer to is your Lord and Savior. If anyone has been on your side through this whole ordeal, it's been Him. You should be graveling for forgiveness, not shrugging it off as a big joke."
I roll my eyes at Jeremy's speech and walk to the kitchen. Despite my earlier dinner with Evan my stomach is grumbling for more. I bring down my sweet Hawaiian rolls and grab two out from the packaging. Their pseudo-sweet smell and soft texture makes my mouth water in anticipation of their taste. I tear off a piece of paper towel and toss the rolls on it before heating them in the microwave for ten seconds.
By the time they're ready, I see that Jeremy is now standing just inside the kitchen, his eyes following my every movement. I balance the warm bread in my hand and reach for a glass from the cabinet. I bump the faucet on with my elbow and fill my cup up with water. I do my best to ignore the angel as I sit at my table and take my first bite into the roll.
"Mmmm," I groan as the first bite of buttery sweet roll slides down my throat.
Jeremy walks up beside me and stares at my hand. His eyes are alit with wonder and he licks his lips as I move the roll back down to the table. I lift my leg and shove out the chair next to me.
I nod to the empty chair. "Have a seat."
He obediently follows my command and sits down without a word. I stifle a giggle as I watch him gawk at me. I guess I never realized that angels have no need to eat. Now that Jeremy was a human, he was probably famished. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't eat for centuries at a time.
"Do you want the other one, Jeremy?"
I push the roll towards him and his eyes follow the roll as it inches closer to him. He looks at me in wonder and frowns in confusion.
"Why would you share your food with me, demon?"
I scoff at his question but for some reason it doesn't upset me. His voice is full of marvel and innocence when he asks. It's as if he's a child learning the world anew.
"Well Jeremy like I've told you before, I'm not fully demon. I have a kind, human side that - believe it or not - is the portion of me that is interacting with the living population ninety nine point nine percent of the time. I know how to love, how to share, and how to behave. Now, I know you have to be hungry. You haven't eaten in what - a couple thousand years?"
Jeremy raises an eyebrow at my statement, mentally calculating the validity of my words. When I hear his stomach grumble, he caves in to his human needs and grabs for the roll. He takes a big bite and swallows it down whole. A moment later he is coughing it up, his eyes watering and his hand smacking his chest in a fit of panic.
I tip my head back and howl with laughter. I like him much better as a human than an angel, I decide. He's more awkward, more real. As Jeremy gets the piece of roll down his esophagus, he looks at me in frustration.
"I knew I shouldn't have trusted you demon," he spats at me.
"Oh stop," I say playfully. "It's not my fault you forgot how to chew."
Jeremy flushes a deep shade of scarlet and moves his eyes to the floor.
"I'm sorry I misjudged you," he says under his breath. "And you're right; I did forget I'm supposed to chew."
I shake my head at him and continue to laugh. As upset as I am at Jeremy for killing Stephan, my anger seems to fade with every passing minute. Whether it's a side effect of spending time with an angel or the fact that - in all honesty - I had fallen out of love with Stephan eons ago, I don't really know. But maybe it won't be so bad with him living here for a few days.
I get up from my seat and make my way to the fridge. When I swing open the door, I'm sorely disappointed at my lack of food selection. Cooking for one usually means a barren kitchen. I am no exception to this rule. I hear the angel chewing behind me and I know one roll won't fill him up. I don't like to toot my own horn, but I'm a pretty good cook when I have all the fixings to do so.
"What do you think, Jeremy? Could you go for more food?"
He eagerly nods his head and smiles back at me. My stomach tightens in excitement when he looks at me, and I quickly turn back to the refrigerator. Stella don't you dare soften towards an angel. I wipe the feeling from my mind and focus on the task ahead. Food.
I close the door and walk from the kitchen. I hear Jeremy pushing our chairs back into the table and throwing my paper towel in the garbage. Whata boyscout.
"Is there somewhere I can put my personal belongings, Stella?" Jeremy calls from behind me.
I start jogging up my staircase and think about which guest room I want to give him. My house has five bedrooms - four upstairs and one downstairs. I want him to be within range to keep an eye on him, but not so close where he can hear my every movement.
"Yea, follow me up Jeremy. I sure hope you have a change of clothes in that pristine suitcase of yours. As soon as you get settled we're going grocery shopping. And if I were you, I'd wear something different.
Jeremy bounds up behind me, climbing two stairs with every stride.
"What's wrong with my suit?" he asks a touch wounded.
I point my finger to the first guestroom on the right. I think it will suit him well. It's decorated in light colors, mostly white and a pastel blue. The bed is large and the sheets are silk. And all of a sudden, the image of a Jeremy pops in my head - naked and swimming in my gossamer silk sheets. I slap the thought away and take a deep breath.
"That'll be your room," I say. "And as for your suit? It makes you look like a schmuck."