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 Eleven: Homemaker
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
You can find Part 6 HERE
You can find Part 7 HERE
You can find Part 8 HERE
You can find Part 9 HERE
You can find Part 10 HERE
The icy slap of rain didn’t bother Marcus. He could have stood barefoot in a puddle all afternoon without so much as a sniffle. But acting like a normal kid meant ducking out of the autumn downpour as quickly as possible. Especially since Ransom was subject to chills and idiocy.
Marcus draggled after him into the apartment and toed out of sodden shoes. “You should get an umbrella.”
“Wouldn’t work. I can’t ride a bike, hold an umbrella, and throw papers.” Ransom left wet footprints on his way to the kitchen. “You hungry?”
“I could eat.” Marcus’s exasperation grew, but he fought down the urge to unfurl and spread his wings over the friend whose life he wanted to protect. “Dry clothes.”
“Huh?” Ransom stopped poking through take-out boxes in the fridge and wiped his nose with his sleeve.
Clearing his throat, Marcus imitated his foster mom’s calm authority. “You should change into dry clothes.”
Ransom tugged at the front of his hoodie, then hauled it over his head. “Guess we both should. Hang on.” The fridge door swung shut with a dull thunk as he hopped to his bed in the corner, pulling off socks as he went.
Marcus draped his wet jacket over a chair back.
After a brief rummage, Ransom handed off blue plaid pajama pants and a t-shirt with the logo from a different school. “Go, Spitfires?”
“My old school.” Ransom came up with a similar ensemble in green and carried it to the bathroom. “Gimme a sec, and then I’ll find food.”
Ardon inclined his head. “Peace, friend.”
Marcus touched palms with the guardian angel. Bronze wings curved around Marcus’s shoulders, and fingertips rested lightly on his head. Here we go again. Ardon seemed torn between treating Marcus like the angel he was and the boy he appeared to be. He’d seen enough hadarim in action to recognize this particular brand of attentiveness. This wasn’t like having a mentor or a Flightmate. This was like having a guardian angel. If there was such a thing as a foster-charge, that’d be me.
Ducking his head, Marcus gruffly asked, “Are you babying me because you can’t baby him?”
“My wings are wide enough to accommodate two.”
“So this is a Sending?”
“No more than it is yours.” Ardon gently messed up Marcus’s wet hair. “But you are here, and that is hope.”
“May it be as you say,” he whispered.
Without the usual stream of culinary commentary coming from the television, the apartment felt more empty than usual. Rain rattled on glass. Gray light leeched away colors. Loneliness presided. How was Ransom supposed to find what he needed in a place so empty?
“Am I his only friend?”
Ardon turned the question around. “Is Jedrick your only teacher?”
“That’d be no, then.” Jedrick had shared out Marcus’s tutelage to both his Flightmates and their respective Hedgemates. He’d broadened his acquaintanceship with each passing evensong. But in his own way, Ransom drew even wider circles. The guy craved fellowship. Went after it with a stick. Making connections without ever realizing why his soul echoed as emptily as this one-bedroom apartment.
Marcus knew his limits and chaffed against them. The message of salvation’s not mine to bring. But it doesn’t take a Caretaker to prop a door or make a way. “Ardon, I think I have a …”
“Your turn.” Ransom’s hair stuck out at rampant angles from toweling.
Before his friend could reach for the remote, Marcus blurted, “Brock lives close by.”
“Two buildings over.”
“How’d you know?”
Because I met his guardian angel last week. Marcus jerked his thumb at the door. “Want me to see if he can come over. Hang out. Eat questionable baked goods.”
Ransom’s eyes lit up. “You think he’d go for that?”
“One way to find out.” Marcus grabbed his jacket. “Be right back.”
Half an hour later, Marcus emerged from Ransom’s bathroom in dry clothes, and Brock snorted. “I didn’t know this was a pajama party. What gives?”
“We ran my route in the rain,” said Ransom. “Got wet.”
“You into sports, paper boy?” Brock asked.
Joey Mueller’s attention wavered from the rattling bag of popcorn spinning in the microwave. “I’ve seen you guys.” To Brock he added, “They run like it’s nothing.”
“I was training for a marathon,” explained Ransom. “At my old school.”
“What about you, Spitfire?”
It took several moments for Marcus to realize that Brock was talking to him. Rubbing at the team logo emblazoned across his borrowed shirt, he said, “Lately I’ve been trying out different stuff—archery, climbing, javelin, stained glass.”
“Random, but interesting,” said Brock.
“You should talk to Coach about track,” said Joey. “Both of you.”
Ransom nodded distractedly, but his attention was divided between the old French cookbook and the contents of the oven. “Oh. Whoops.”
Marcus sidled over to check on progress. “Is it supposed to look like that?”
“I seriously doubt it.” Ransom jiggled the cake pan, rippling the molten batter. “The last time I tried this recipe, I got a rock. This time, its goo. Does that count as improvement?”
“Did you forget a step?”
The microwaved dinged in the background as Brock leaned in. “Looks like you forget a whole ingredient.”
“I didn’t leave out anything. But I swapped some stuff.” Ransom explained, “There wasn’t enough milk, so I made some.”
“Out of what?” asked Joey, who tore into the bag of popcorn. He leaned on the counter and munched handfuls like he was at the movies.
“I mixed this with water.” Ransom fished an empty plastic container out of the garbage. “Creamer.”
“Non-dairy should have tipped you off,” said Brock. “That ain’t milk.”
“And then …” “Yeah?” Joey talked around chipmunk cheeks of popcorn. “What else.”
Ransom heaved a sigh, then smiled. “I didn’t have enough eggs. Dad ate them for breakfast.”
“How many did you need?” asked Marcus.
The would-be chef held up four fingers.
“How many’d you use?” asked Joey.
A lone finger remained. “This baking thing is harder than it looks.”
“Not if you follow the recipe.” Marcus nudged Ransom with an elbow. “There’s only one way to get cake. Every other way will end in disaster.”
“So I gotta do this by the book.”
Marcus’s throat constricted. “If it’s the right book, a good one, then yeah. Trust it.”
“Next time.” Ransom sighed and snapped the cookbook shut, stowing it on top of the fridge. Pulling out a drawer, he fished out utensils and cheerfully asked, “Who wants a spoon?”
Marcus hadn’t expected the apprentice Messenger to turn up at one of his training sessions, especially not with a contingent of yahavim. The mailman had dropped his human disguise and lounged along one of the overhead beams. Blue-trimmed raiment. Ash-blond curls. Good-natured grin.
“I didn’t know myself,” said Milo. “But when Sent …”
“ …we go. Gotcha. So what’s up with the runts?”
“I borrowed them from Abner.” Several tiny angels fluttered to and fro, each a burst of brilliance in the half-light of evening. “You’re under strict orders to protect them.”
“Me.” Taweel’s deep voice sent the flock of yahavim into a tizzy.
Tamaes stepped forward. “And me.”
Marcus bounced on his toes, his anticipation mounting. “Is this some kind of test?”
Taweel grunted, and Tamaes said, “Up until now, we have pitted you against a single opponent. How will you handle a dual threat?”
He weighed the possibilities, but shook his head. “I’m outnumbered, and the runts won’t stay put.”
“You have clear eyes, cherub,” said Taweel. “Those are your greatest disadvantages.”
“Defend yourself. Defend these little ones,” said Tamaes. “Taweel and I will divide your attention, forcing you to adapt.”
“Sounds kinda fun. Off the cuff and on the fly.”
“Speaking of flying.” Milo dropped from his perch, slowing his descent with a burst of sky blue wings. “Jedrick asked me to work with you.”
Milo took a diplomatic tone. “We’ll focus on the basics. Refine your form. Improve your speed.”
Cheeks burning, Marcus said, “I know I’m clumsy.”
“You need what we can offer,” said Taweel. “Practice.”
Marcus extended his wings, but asked, “Aren’t you packing too much into one lesson? I can’t win against two enemies, let alone compete with a Messenger.”
Tamaes bent close and solemnly said, “This is neither a competition nor an attack.”
“Training exercises that every newfoundling encounters in one form or another.” After a thoughtful pause, Tamaes added, “In a word—play.”
Marcus lurched to a stop on a crossbeam and scanned the barn, noting the position of each yahavim. Three cornered. Seven scattered. One in need of rescue. No, wait. That’s Omri.
Milo dove past, Tamaes close on his heels—quite literally. The flame-winged Guardian tickled his teammate’s bare feet, causing Milo to veer and vault through the rafters to escape.
Taking advantage of the deep shadows near the barn’s peak, Marcus dove for Taweel’s back, hoping to surprise his opponent. But purple wings lifted, snaring him in folds of light. Marcus struggled briefly, then sagged in defeat. “Uncle,” he panted.
A spot of brilliance popped through the swaddling wings just above Marcus’s head and offered a smug peep.
“It means I give up, Omri. Let the big guy know I surrender.”
Chirruping sweetly, Taweel’s little buddy made himself comfortable on Marcus’s chest.
Purple layers lifted slowly, leaving Marcus cradled in the crook of the big warrior’s arm. Taweel said, “You have improved.”
“If you say so.”
Just then, the tambour of Taweel’s wings shifted. Guard back up, Marcus searched for the cause, but it wasn’t a threat. A line of lights along one wall flicked on, and he stifled a sigh. “Prissie.”
Taweel grunted and put him down. “She cannot see you.”
“Wouldn’t matter if she could. She avoids seeing me as much as possible.”
“Nope. It’s plain old dislike.”
“She does not know you.”
“She doesn’t want to.” Marcus tried to shove his hands in the pockets of a jacket he wasn’t wearing. Folding his hands over his chest, he flatly said, “Not sure if it’s me, my hair, or my best friend. Any which way, she disapproves. Loudly.”
Milo and Tamaes called off their game of chase to watch Prissie trail after a tabby cat. The girl made herself at home amidst a stack of bales in the corner farthest from the door. Crooning softly, Prissie gathered an entire litter of kittens into her lap.
Marcus suddenly felt like the odd one out. All the attention his teammates had spent on him was now fixed on his classmate. Resigned to the end of his training session, Marcus joined Tamaes on the central beam, feet dangling, irritation mounting.
Giving voice to his discontent, Marcus muttered, “She believes.”
“My joy is full.”
“Mine’s in peril.”
Tamaes’s gaze swung to his face so fast, Marcus flinched. “How so?” asked the Guardian.
Where to begin? Marcus wasn’t sure he could explain without offending his teammates. “I thought I knew what I wanted.”
“What did you want?”
“To be a real cherub.” Marcus clenched his fists. He’d wanted to be a warrior so badly, his whole being ached with the desire. But that was nothing compared to this.
“A good wish.”
Was it? Looking back, it seemed selfish. “I’d give it all up if it would help—my mentor, my lessons, my teammates.”
Tamaes tensed. “Who do you want to help, Marcus?”
“Ransom.” He stared dully at Prissie. “I’d give it all back if it would mean salvation for my friend.”
“I understand. Truly.” Tamaes draped a wing over Marcus, giving him a place to hide. “But you cannot barter for Ransom’s soul. That boy must lay hold of the Redeemer’s gift for himself.”
“But he doesn’t even know it’s there!” Marcus bit his lip, but his frustration spilled over. “I can’t tell him, and she won’t.”
Next Month: Angel Unaware, Part Twelve: “New Neighbor”