Authors: Natalie Herzer
Had he heard her pray? With an inward smile Becca was quite certain that he had.
He winked at her before he suddenly stood. “Now, I think I’ve used up quite enough of your time, young lady.”
The moment had come.
Becca got up as well, and swallowed. Gathering every ounce of her courage, she finally made herself ask the one question that had been on her mind ever since she’d known about the purpose of the Office. “What will happen to me?” Heaven or Hell? Where would she go?
His gaze softened. “Your heart has lived through difficult times. Has been weighed down by guilt, sucked dry by magic. I think it deserves a loving and peaceful rest.”
So many emotions went through her, but before Becca could pin point one much less say a word, the office disappeared.
His voice rang out in her mind, “Besides, you have a promise to keep.”
White light blinded her. A door slammed shut. And then she fell into darkness.
Stone briefly glanced at the mirror and shook his head at his ridiculous outfit. Well, he would do anything to see the boy’s smile again. Even dressing up in fishing gear - vest, hat and all. Taking a deep breath for courage, he stepped outside.
Quinn’s jaw dropped before the smile Stone had missed so much finally bloomed on the boy’s face. He scribbled quickly on his notepad.
Dude, you look…I can’t even think of a word.
Then the boy almost doubled over laughing in the middle of Arthur’s old living room.
Definitely worth it. Stone smiled to himself.
When Quinn finally recovered, Stone ordered, “Glad to amuse. Now, move your butt.”
They went outside, rods and camping chairs in hand. Stone unfolded the seats and, surrendering to a streak of mischief, made sure to give Quinn the one with the tear in the middle.
When they sat down, Stone had to hold back a smile as he waited for a reaction. When it came, Quinn’s face was priceless and Stone gave his grin free reign.
The boy’s eyes went wide as it dawned on him.
, he mouthed.
He scribbled furiously.
I think my balls went right through. It feels odd.
This time Stone was the one to burst out laughing, glad that they came here.
It had been almost a week since Becca’s death and Stone doubted that Quinn remembered a lot of it, just like him. They’d been cooped up in the house, barely eating or sleeping. When they woke up he told Quinn that things needed to change. Starting with getting them both out of the house and away from all the memories it held.
Coming here to Arthur’s place, a place where he’d been pushed to think for himself, had felt natural. He liked it here and was determined to make it beautiful once more. To make it theirs.
Grabbing his fishing rod, Stone placed it so that he had easy access to the hook. “Mind opening that tub for me?”
Quinn pointed to a bluish one. Stone nodded and leaned down to pick it up. Popping the lid, his eyes went wide and his face grimaced at the sight of the wriggling worms inside.
He chose a tiny bugger and tried to put it on the hook. The second time he managed to poke his finger instead of the bait, Quinn almost choked with laughter.
One bleeding finger in his mouth, Stone scowled at him. “How about you give it a try?”
He leaned over to the side to watch as the boy wrote,
No, it’s more fun to watch you. Becca would…
When the boy stopped, Stone encouraged him with a gesture of his chin. “Go on.”
Becca would have been rolling on the floor by now. Seeing you like this.
“Definitely. Then she would go and put the worm on the hook on her first try, and catch a fish - or two - before my worm even hit the water.”
Staring out, Stone nodded. “Yeah, she was amazing that way.”
After finally succeeding to bait their hooks, they sat in companionable silence. He thought of Becca, how she mothered the household, and made sure they had showered and eaten a hearty meal before coming out on the deck. Better than the last few days’ lounging around, and a major step forward as far as Stone was concerned. At one point the boy would have to go back to school again, Stone thought, but that was not a topic for today.
For now it was just the two of them and the calm of the bayou.
Quinn’s line twitched. Stone sat up straight and patted Quinn’s arm. “You’ve caught something. Pull it in.”
As surprised as he was, Quinn stared open mouthed as he reeled it in. Stone got up, dip net in hand to help the boy out. The water splashed. The flash of scales glinting in the sun.
“Looks like a big one,” Stone said, grinning at the boy.
When the fish finally broke the surface, Stone scooped it in the net just to make sure Quinn’s first catch couldn’t get away.
What kind is it?
Stone didn’t have any clue about fishing or fish for that matter. When they went out this morning, he didn’t think they would catch anything. “I don’t know.”
“It’s a bass.”
It gave Stone pleasant shivers, and for a moment he closed his eyes to cherish it, knowing full well he must have imagined it. When he opened them again, he saw Quinn staring down the jetty. Stone followed his gaze.
There she was.
A beautiful vision. And fist to the gut.
Quinn’s head snapped around. His eyes were huge.
Do you see her too?
They couldn’t be suffering from the same vision, could they?
Stone nodded, “I do.”
His feet were frozen to the ground as if he was forced to watch as she came closer. She was breathtaking in a blue and white polka-dot dress, her short blonde hair a halo set aflame by the sun. His throat grew tight.
Could she be real?
“Great catch,” she said, smiling at Quinn. Then she opened her arms and the boy rushed into them. He slammed into her so hard she had to take a step back to regain her balance. “Oomph.”
Laughing, she looked at Stone from over her brother’s shoulder. He couldn’t believe he was seeing that wide smile of hers, was hearing her clear laughter.
His feet finally obeyed and he approached her slowly. Staring at her as if she might disappear at any moment, his hand reached up to touch her cheek. It was warm and smooth.
“How?” It was the only thing he managed to get out.
“It’s a long story. I’m not sure I can believe it yet myself.”
A rush of wings sounded from above, and they all lifted their heads in time to see Raz and Lillian block out the sun before landing on the jetty. The wood shuddered beneath them. Stone was glad it held.
“It’s true then.” Lillian’s eyes were wide and filled with tears of joy as she ran to hug her friend. “We just went to Heaven and they told us…I couldn’t believe it.” Her words were a rush. One that Stone felt, but hadn’t been able to voice.
Becca reassured, “It is true. He sent me back.”
Raz, always the calmer of the two it seemed, cocked his head. “There’s something different about you. I was wondering whether he made you an angel when they told us.” Puzzling, he asked with a smile, “So what are you? Good or bad?”
“I’m human,” she replied with a smile so bright it rivaled the sun.
Stone’s heart sang. She was here and she was real. Determined, he pulled her into his arms, smiling down at her. “I don’t care how or what or who…all that matters is that you’re here.”
He kissed her then, deep and passionate, enjoying the feel of her warmth in his arms. Of her scent surrounding him. And he knew then, that this was only the beginning of a lifetime together.
When they both came up for air, Becca nodded happily. “Let’s go home, love.”
“The smell of hot chocolate, seeing the flowers you planted grow, the colors of the sunset…
Such simple things, but sharing them is extraordinary.”
Thank you for reading
, and I hope you enjoyed the series.
Thank you for your time.
Natalie Herzer is a German-born indie author whose itchy feet recently carried her to South Africa. Her love for words has always been there, much like her beloved travel bug, but is thankfully a lot easier to satisfy. When she’s not off wandering her own imaginary worlds, she loves to curl up on the couch and get lost in a good book.
She is the author of the urban-fantasy series
and paranormal romance series
The Guard Duet
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