Head in the clouds. Feet on the ground. Heart in the story. Christa Kinde is a cheerful homebody whose imagination takes her new places with every passing day. Making her home between misty mornings and brimming bookshelves in Southern California, she’s been writing for more than a decade, but the Threshold Series is her first foray into fiction. Learn about Christa’s books, Bible studies, short stories, weekdaily serials, and more at ChristaKinde.com.
Part Six: Sparring Partners
You can find Part 1 HERE
You can find Part 2 HERE
You can find Part 3 HERE
You can find Part 4 HERE
You can find Part 5 HERE
Can we do this another time? Marcus spared the looming Guardian a glance. I have a job to do.
Ardon only repeated, “I’d like your help.”
Part of Marcus was pleased. Maybe even thrilled. When guardian angels were in trouble, they were supposed to appeal to the nearest cherub for back-up. But this was a first. And confusing. Look, this isn’t the time or place. I have to pay attention to the teacher.
“After school, then.” Ardon pointed to his charge. “Stay with Ransom. Invite yourself over.”
You know that’s not how it works. Marcus kept his eyes down. I’m not Sent to him.
The hand splayed on his desk curled into a fist. “What were you Sent to do?”
Dunno for sure. I’m just here.
“Then while you’re here, be his friend.”
Marcus managed a mental snort. He has plenty of friends.
“Is that what you see?”
Ardon stepped back as the teacher moved through the room, handing out textbooks. The question was left hanging, but its underlying challenge lingered. And it made Marcus wonder if the Guardian was pushing the boundaries of his own Sending. Stuff like that could turn nasty.
Marcus’s hand shook as he flipped to the first chapter, his mind in lock-down. He didn’t like to jump to the worst case scenario, but what if Ransom wasn’t the one in trouble? What if it was Ardon?
That night, Marcus reported to the glade for training. Jedrick was conspicuously absent, but Tamaes was joined by two of the other Guardians from their household’s Hedge.
Crack! An angel with a shock of silver hair leapt backward, flipping through a handspring before bringing up a staff with fan-shaped blades on either end. “Too slow, Gideon!” he called.
His black-winged opponent laughed. “How can I demonstrate proper form if you keep dancing away?”
“Are you saying you cannot keep up?”
Gideon glanced Tamaes’s way. “Do you mind?”
“I will work with Marcus while you answer Trumble’s challenge.”
Weapons whistled and hummed as the warriors threw themselves into combat mode. As the pace of their mock-battle intensified, Marcus’s shoulders sagged. “I don’t think pointy sticks are gonna be my thing.”
Tamaes chuckled. “The spear was not my first choice either.”
Marcus asked, “Could you keep up with Trumble and Gideon if you wanted?”
“Why did you learn how to use a bunch of weapons you don’t even like?”
Tamaes leaned against his spear, his gaze fixed on the sparring match that ranged across the open meadow. “My wait was long. Learning something new gave me purpose. And I enjoyed the challenge.” His expression softened. “Even though I did not choose the spear for myself, I was able to introduce it many youngsters who did.”
“You were a teacher?”
“So you know lot of different things.” Marcus throttled his weapon. “You know the answers to questions that are hard to ask.”
“You may ask anything, and I will answer if I am able.”
Marcus had planned to wait for Jedrick, but he’d been edgy since school. He wanted answers now. “Is it true that if a Guardian cares too much about their charge, it can wreck everything?”
Tamaes turned toward him, eyes wide.
“Like … how can you tell if another angel is in danger of falling?” Marcus pressed.
Gently taking the practice weapon from Marcus’s hands, Tamaes set them aside, then sat. He patted the grass and said, “First, I will tell you my story. After that, I wish to know what inspired your … curiosity.”
The next day at school, Marcus fidgeted in his seat. Both Taweel and Tamaes had shown up in his classroom, and it was painfully obvious that they weren’t focused on the girl Ransom had dubbed “Miss Priss.” Nope. His teammates were watching Ardon. So far, Ransom’s Guardian didn’t seem to have noticed their scrutiny. Could this be any more awkward?
Marcus finally understood why classmates claimed to die of embarrassment when their parents showed up at school. Because Jedrick shouldered into the room, spoke a few words with Taweel, then marched straight up to Ardon.
Slouching in his seat, Marcus wanted nothing more than to crawl under his desk.
“You okay?” Ransom whispered.
Marcus sat up a little straighter and fought to steady his breathing.
Tamaes’s voice reached his mind. Fear not.
Easier said than done.
Jedrick still had Ardon cornered when the bell rang. Without a backward glance, Marcus escaped the tense atmosphere, but it was a temporary fix. Next up was gym class, and the locker room might cause a whole different variety of problems. All thanks to Uncle Al.
As far as conversation-starters went, two-tone hair was nothing compared to furled wings. Uncle Al hadn’t bothered to hide them. Leaving Marcus to try to explain them.
Lockers slammed. Sneakers squeaked. Echoing voices faded as the guys migrated into the gymnasium. Marcus tried for a casual tone. “You can go ahead. I’ll catch up.”
Ransom retied his sneakers. “I can wait.”
So he turned his back and peeled out of his shirt.
Yanking his jersey over his head, Marcus gruffly asked, “What?”
“You.” Ransom hooked a finger under the back of Marcus’s shirt and lifted. “Wild. Are these even legal?”
Marcus shoved his jacket into the locker. “Got a problem with the color of my skin?”
“Nope. But if anyone gives you crap, let me know.”
“I don’t need someone to hide behind. Unlike certain paperboys I could mention.”
“Just sayin’. I’m not letting anyone mess with my best friend.”
“Your … what?”
“What’s with that face?” Ransom waved a hand between them. “You. Me. Us. It’s not a difficult concept. Haven’t you ever had a friend before?”
Marcus cautiously replied, “Not a school friend. But you’re everyone’s friend.”
Ransom’s eyebrows shot up. “Is that what you think?”
“Well, yeah. You’re on a first name basis with over half the school.” Marcus wasn’t sure why he had to be the one explaining things. “And everyone likes you. Except for Prissie, but that’s your own fault.”
“What?” Marcus asked, uncomfortably aware that Ardon had slipped into the room behind them.
“I like putting names and faces together, and it’s normal to say hey in the hallway. But you’re the one I hang out with.”
“Are we talking about Flopsy’s tea parties? Because I’m not sure that’s any kind of basis.”
“Then come over to my place after school.” Ransom led the way toward the locker room door. “Your foster mom would let you, right?”
“Probably.” Marcus threw a glance over his shoulder. Ardon stood ramrod straight, his gaze darting between the boys.
Ransom threw an arm around his neck and half-dragged him into the gym. “So do you want to?”
Marcus wasn’t sure if Ransom was talking about hanging out after school or being best friends. But it hardly mattered. The only way he could make sure Ransom was safe from his own Guardian was to do exactly what that Guardian had asked him to do. Be a friend.
Ducking out from under Ransom’s arm, Marcus said, “I’ll be there.”
Next Month: Angel Unaware, Part Seven: “Troublemaker”