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 Ten: Team Player
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
Brenna was a little like both of her parents. Her father’s chin and cheerfulness, her mother’s height and husky voice. The young woman dressed in so many layers, Susanna fondly called her daughter a rag-bag gypsy. Fair skin, flyaway bangs, and beaded jewelry she made herself.
After so many weeks of living with the Turnquists, she was more than just a familiar face. But Marcus wasn’t exactly close to his foster sister. Not that it mattered. Not when Brenna’s dimpled chin wobbled, and fresh tears welled up in wideset blue-green eyes.
Although he’d shut her bedroom door, Marcus’s hand still gripped its knob. “You want me to get Mom?”
“No!” Brenna reached for a tissue and hid her face. “This is nothing.”
“It’s something.” Circling the bed, Marcus lowered himself to its edge. “You okay?”
She sniffed. “What do you think?”
“I think you need to talk.”
“And you’re offering to listen?”
“If you want.”
She favored him with a look of utter disbelief. Then swung around in her desk chair to face the wall. “Go away, Marcus.”
It was a weary command, utterly lacking in authority. So he stood his ground. “I know I’m new and all. So we don’t know each other very well. But it’s like Dad says—same family, same house, same rules, same team.”
“You’re a kid.”
“I’ve lived more than most kids.” Marcus gruffly asked, “Who made you cry?”
Brenna’s next glance was exasperated, but the hint of a smile played on her lips. “If I told you, what would you do?”
“Depends on what they did. Did someone hurt you?”
Her lips pinched, then parted with a sigh. “I wasn’t attacked or anything. I’m hurt, but only here.” Brenna tapped her chest.
Marcus pressed his hand over his own heart. “There’s no only about this. It’s the deepest part of a person. The stuff that happens here matters.”
She blinked, then said, “You’re strange.”
“Yes, well. You’re a little short to go rushing to my defense.”
“Don’t underestimate me. Trust me instead.”
Brenna considered him for a long while, then hung her head. “Don’t tell.”
Marcus simply folded his arms over his chest.
“Look, it’s nothing. I met this guy, and I thought he was … something he wasn’t. And I’m furious with him, but also with myself!” Fresh tears spilled down her cheeks, hot and angry. “It was nothing, so why does it hurt this much?”
He offered his hand. “I told you. Hearts matter.”
“How would you know? You’re just a kid.”
“You think I’ve never had my heart broken?” Marcus’s reasons weren’t the same, but they were just as real. Every time he was Sent, he’d get attached, only to be Sent away. And every time, his heart had broken. Especially when leaving behind someone whose soul was in peril. “Whenever I’m Sent to a new place, it’s hard.”
She grabbed his hand and used it to pull him into an awkward hug. “You have us now.”
“For now,” he mumbled, slightly dazed by the switch.
“Like we’d ever let go of a great kid like you.” Brenna sounded much more like her usual self. “Stay here. Be ours for keeps.”
Marcus wasn’t sure if that was even an option. A year in one place—that was the usual pattern. But this time felt different. He was placed with a family instead of living with Aleff. And he wasn’t twelve anymore; he was thirteen … and growing. He had a mentor, grafted teammates, and a best friend.
In his heart of hearts, where things mattered, Marcus spoke the truth. Staying sounds good.
Heaven’s answer was matter-of-fact. ‘My plans are always good.’
At the top of the stairs, Brenna whispered, “Promise you won’t tell.”
“You can trust me.” Marcus led the way downstairs. “My Uncle Al is here. He wanted to share a meal before he heads back, so he brought take-out.”
“Yep. Thai food.”
“No, I meant … I didn’t know you had an uncle.”
Marcus kept his voice low. “I didn’t know you had a boyfriend.”
“I don’t!” Brenna grabbed his arm. “He’s a delivery guy at work, so I’d see him once or twice a week. He flirted. He hinted. And if he’d asked, I probably would have gone out with him, but my boss warned me. I’m glad he did.”
“You found the truth.”
“I wasn’t the only one. Far from it. Girls in every shop from here to Harper.” Brenna peeked around the corner into the dining room. “Well, well! Any chance your Uncle Al is unattached?”
Marcus’s fingers locked on the bannister.
“Your face!” Brenna messed up his hair and whispered, “I’m teasing, little brother. Your pretty-boy uncle isn’t my type.”
With that, his sister skipped down the remaining stairs.
Ransom arrived in the dining room at the same time, carrying a stack of plates from the kitchen. His eyebrows shot up. “Miss Slushie Machine!”
“Hey, Ransom!” Brenna grabbed half the plates and started setting the table. “How on earth did you get past my mom? She usually fends off the stalkers with her tennis racket.”
Aleff pointed to the two of them, then swished his fingers back and forth. “You two know each other?”
“Of course! Ransom is quite possibly our best customer.” Brenna’s expression tilted toward exasperation. “Although I’m pretty sure he’s never learned any of our names.”
Ransom explained, “She works at my convenience store.”
Marcus punched Ransom’s shoulder. “She’s my sister, Brenna Turnquist.”
“No kidding?” Pulling Marcus into a headlock, Ransom beamed at Brenna. “He’s my best friend.”
“And I’m the pretty-boy uncle. You may call me Al.”
Marcus rolled his eyes.
Ransom snapped his fingers. “Alexander?”
Early the next morning, Marcus knelt on a tarp in the driveway, rattling through his foster father’s tool box. Landon was helping him dismantle the new-used bike, which turned out to be yellow. Dusty gears. Creaky chain. Deflated tires. He’d promised Ransom to have the thing road-worthy, but some stuff needed replacing. “I better start a list.”
“How come you know how to do this?” asked Landon.
Marcus lined up the parts along the tarp’s edge. “My uncle taught me how. Compared to taking apart a motorcycle, a bike’s easy.”
Landon goggled. “Could you build a motorcycle?”
“Yep. With the right parts and tools.”
“D’ya wanna to be a mechanic?”
Marcus hesitated. Fixing things was a useful skill, and he liked working with his hands. But this amounted to taking care of his equipment, something any warrior would do. Not a vocation. “Nope, I don’t think so. If I had a choice, I’d choose something else.”
“You get to choose,” Landon reasoned. “Teachers say so. Everyone can be whatever they wanna be. Pick your thing, and learn it.”
Humans had choices, but it was different for angels. I have two options—obedience or disobedience. Marcus turned the question around. “Have you picked your thing, Landon?”
“Nah. But I like this.” He held a gear up to his eye. Squinting through it at Marcus, Landon said, “Teach me more about machine-building.”
The morning was half-spent when a moving truck pulled up in front of their neighbor’s house. Two men in coveralls loitered near Russ’s mailbox while a third ambled up the walk to knock on his door.
Landon bounced up and waved. “Mr. McIntey ain’t home. Sundays, he’s at church.”
“No worries, kid. We’re early. We’ll wait.”
Scuffing his sneakers on the pavement, Landon returned to ask, “Is Mr. McIntey moving?”
Marcus shook his head. “Dunno.”
“Imma ask Mom!”
While Landon was inside, Russ’s car eased into his driveway. The old man emerged in his Sunday best, all smiles as he greeted the workmen. Once he showed them where to start, Russ strolled over. “Good morning, Marcus. Did you get a bike?”
“Yes, sir.” Nodding to the yard that was swiftly filling with furniture and boxes, he asked, “Who’s moving?”
“My upstairs tenants are moving out. As of tomorrow, I have a vacancy.”
Marcus matched Ransom’s pace, sneakers pounding turf as they took another lap around the soccer field. They outdistanced their classmates, who jogged along halfheartedly.
“Too fast?” asked Ransom.
“I can keep up.”
“For how long?”
Checking the sky, he singled out Ardon. The bronze-winged angel’s lazy circles wove through the flight paths of other Guardians overhead. A flash of green against the lowering clouds drew Marcus’s attention, but it wasn’t Jedrick.
Ransom followed his gaze and asked, “Think it’ll rain?”
“Looks that way.”
“Guess we’ll have to postpone our first bike ride. Wanna come over to my place instead?”
“Are you going to try baking again?” “Try?” Ransom’s eyebrows shot up. “Are you implying I might fail?”
Marcus snorted. “I’ve seen the damage. I’ve tasted the aftermath.”
“You’re coming over, though. Right?”
“Yep. I’m there.”
They caught up to a group of girls who were talking faster than they were jogging. Prissie and her friends—Margery, Jennifer, and April. Ransom swung inward to get by them, and Marcus followed. But they didn’t make it far.
Prissie called, “That’s cheating, Ransom! You’re supposed to stay outside the white line.”
“Relax, Miss Priss. I’m improvising a passing lane. Because we’re a whole lap ahead of you.”
“It’s not a race,” she retorted snippily.
“Geez. I already proved I can outrun you.” Ransom pulled up his hood, but it didn’t hide his grin as he added, “Worry more about outrunning the raindrops!”
Marcus joined Ransom in bolting for the gymnasium as the threatening sky let loose. The girls shrieked, and Prissie yelled Ransom’s name in accusatory tones.
“That girl is something else,” said Ransom.
“Can you believe it? Now she’s blaming me for the weather.” Ransom laughed. “Do I look like someone who can call down rain?”
Marcus could speak with a measure of authority on that score. “Nope. No resemblance.”
Next Month: Angel Unaware, Part Eleven: “Homemaker”