“Arise, cry aloud in the night at the beginning of the night watches; pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord.”
Darcy woke up Sunday morning, still kneeling on the floor by his bed. He had prayed for most of the night, thanking Jehovah-Jireh for another chance to talk with Elizabeth, and asking for wisdom in choosing the right words to say to her. Though God in His love and mercy had sent Gabriel to talk to Elizabeth during the night, and she had agreed to meet him at church this morning, he knew that she would have many questions concerning why he had never told her that he had been her guardian angel. When she had broken off their relationship, she had made it very clear to him that she felt he had betrayed her trust and deceived her in withholding the full truth.
Darcy sighed heavily and rested his forehead against the side of his mattress as his mind ran through the terrible events of the previous day. Elizabeth had found out his secret in the worst possible way – from Gregory. Just as Darcy had been about to reveal his dual nature to her, Gregory had dissolved the ropes holding the bridge on which they stood, and Elizabeth had fallen. Darcy had been forced to reveal himself and save her, or watch her die on the rocks beneath them at the bottom of the gorge. After he had flown to rescue her in angelic form, in her anger she had left with Gregory, Lucifer’s son. Gregory had taken her to his home, drugging her with an intent to rape her, and Darcy had intervened in time to stop him, but it had not erased his guilt from her mind.
Darcy felt Michael’s arm around his shoulders and turned his head to see the massive warrior on his knees beside him.
Michael? You spent the night kneeling on the floor with me? I remember that you comforted me while I prayed. I must have finally fallen asleep. Why did you not awaken me?
You needed to sleep. Michael’s voice was kind.
Darcy suddenly understood, and his eyes widened. You held me up. I would have fallen over, but you spent the night supporting me. I am humbled. Thank you.
You are my brother. I was glad to be able to be of assistance in your time of need. You have done the same and more for so many others, Darcy. Your entire existence has been spent in the service of the Master, protecting and comforting His children. I know that the Almighty will be with you today. He heard your prayers, and He will answer them. Michael’s thoughts were confident. He stood and extended his hand to Darcy, helping him to stand.
Darcy was stiff from having remained in one position without moving for such a long time. He gratefully accepted Michael’s hand as he forced his legs to move and arose, releasing Michael’s hand. Darcy stretched, and then walked to his dresser, facing himself in the mirror. He looked at the dark circles under his eyes from lack of sleep.
I think it is safe to say that if she takes me back today, it will not be because of my amazing good looks, he mused.
Michael stepped up behind him, smiling encouragement. A shower will soon put you to rights. Remember that she thinks you are handsomer than I. There is no accounting for the taste of some people, but it may work to your favor.
Darcy smiled crookedly and headed toward the bathroom. I will need every advantage I can muster. As he showered, his mind ran through all of Elizabeth’s preferences for him – her favorite clothes, colors, scent, hairstyle, music – everything he could think of. He briefly wondered if he had time to get a haircut.
Darcy dismissed the idea and began to pray again.
As he had nearly every Sunday morning since he had met Elizabeth in his human form in January, Darcy drove to Tabernacle Church with Michael flying overhead. He remained silent, musing on the oddity that his thousands of years of existence had not prepared him for the ordeal which lay ahead. Facing the questions of the eighteen-year-old girl whom he loved with an intensity beyond anything he could ever have imagined made him extremely anxious, and knowing that she held his very heart in her hands and had the ability to crush it with a word was daunting beyond anything he had ever experienced. He realized that he had existed on the periphery of life, observing humans with very little actual interaction. Fighting on the behalf of others was not half so difficult as laying himself open before Elizabeth, trusting her to understand what he was, and to accept it.
As he drove, he meditated on Psalm 37:4-5, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust also in Him, and He will do it.’ Father, I know that You planted the desire for Elizabeth within my heart, and now I thank You for her, and I ask You to give her to me. Abba, please help her to understand, enable her to have confidence in me again, guide her questions, and help me to answer her in a way which pleases You. Calm my heart, Lord. Take my fear. I love you, Jehovah-Rophe.
Darcy parked at the church, put his forearms on the steering wheel, and rested his head on them with his eyes closed. He looked up when he heard a tapping on the window; he had been so focused on praying that he had failed to hear any human thoughts.
Elizabeth was watching him intently, her brown eyes serious. Darcy rolled down the window.
Gabriel stood behind her, his lips upturned in a small smile, while Michael lit beside him and tucked his wings.
“Hi,” she said. “Can we talk a minute?”
Darcy nodded. “Certainly. Where?”
Rather than answer, she walked around the car and got in. Her hands, holding her Bible, rested in her lap as she turned to him.
“Fitzwilliam,” she began, and then stopped to take a deep breath. “I know we don’t have much time right now, but I want us to be comfortable with each other in church. Gabriel talked to me last night, and I have thought about everything he said. I am willing to listen to you, but I expect you to answer all my questions – fully and completely. Don’t leave anything out this time. Don’t edit or choose only what you think I need to hear. I want to know it all at once with no more surprises. If you can’t do that, there is no more future for us. Will you do it?” She held his gaze with a raised eyebrow.
Darcy was nearly giddy with relief, and it was only by great force of will that he did not envelop her in a hug to end all hugs. Thank you, Father, that she came to me of her own free will. It sounds as if she is ready to listen to me and give our relationship another chance. “I can answer your questions readily and without reservation, Elizabeth. Yes, I will. I absolutely promise to answer fully everything you ask me. I may actually add things you would not even think of asking because I want you to know everything about me. I have hated this secrecy, and I want everything to be out in the open finally. You may, in fact, have to ask me to be silent before I overwhelm you with information.”
He wanted to take her hand, but he was afraid that she would think he was assuming too much; he would wait for her to make the first move.
“You look tired, Fitzwilliam,” Elizabeth said, her eyes showing her sympathy.
“I did not sleep well. May I make a request?” Darcy asked hopefully.
Elizabeth’s curiosity took the lead. “Of course, though it doesn’t necessarily follow that I will agree, you know.”
“I know, I know.” He breathed deeply. “I love your family dearly, and I know that we always eat Sunday dinner with them, but would you mind if we went out for lunch today – just the two of us? I find that I am anxious to talk to you, and I want to do it as soon as possible. My tenuous hold on my sanity may not last though Life Group, worship service, and dinner. I am actually eager to be questioned for once. Can we make it sooner rather than later. Please?” Darcy struggled to smile though his hands remained clenched into fists in his lap.
He is altogether adorable. She sighed.
“I’m sure you heard that,” she said, a little sharply. He lowered his eyes and nodded.
Elizabeth bit her lip. “Mom would be disappointed. She and Dad have no idea what happened yesterday, and she still expects us to eat with them. She made most of your favorites – roast beef with homemade mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots, and green bean casserole, with banana pudding for dessert.”
Darcy very much appreciated the good will of Elizabeth’s family, although he knew he would not be able to eat until after he and Elizabeth had talked. He looked up at her through his lashes. “I would not make her unhappy. Can we at least eat quickly, and then go somewhere quiet to talk? I cannot make polite conversation all afternoon while I worry about everything.”
She smiled a little at the thought of imperturbable Fitzwilliam in a state of high anxiety. “All right. We’ll leave right after lunch, and you can choose a spot where we can talk. Let me rephrase that – I’ll ask questions, you’ll talk, and I’ll listen.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he said, smiling broadly.
Ah, the dimples. Not fair, she thought.
I will warn you now. I plan to use every poor advantage that I have. The dimples will be on full display as often as I can manage it, he answered in her mind.
She looked him over in a frank appraisal. “I don’t suppose it’s an accident that you wore the blue shirt that matches your eyes along with my favorite jacket and pants, or that you’re wearing Acqua Di Gio for the first time since the beginning of June.”
Darcy met her gaze levelly, aforementioned blue eyes serious and steadily focused on her. “No, ma’am. I would not deceive you; I admit that I have done everything humanly possible to advance my cause. Is it working?”
Elizabeth began to sing “Amazing Grace” loudly in her mind. Michael and Gabriel smiled. They recognized Elizabeth’s way of blocking her thoughts from Darcy.
By the time Darcy finally managed to get Elizabeth into his car four hours later, he had developed an entirely different view of eternity. He felt that he had already lived through it, and it was far too long a time. He was, however, glad that she had taken a few moments to change into comfortable clothing. Seeing her in her workout clothes lifted his spirits. It gave him hope that she might have plans for the two of them after their talk.
Michael, Gabriel, and Niall had spent the morning trying not to smile at his expense, and he knew it. He was aware that he was a source of amusement to them; however much they might sympathize with him, the knowledge stung.
“Where are we going?” asked Elizabeth, breaking into his thoughts.
“You have never been to my townhouse. Would you object to going there alone with me now? I want us to have absolute privacy with no chance of being overheard,” Darcy answered, glancing quickly at her as he backed out of the driveway.
Her eyes sparkled. “I’m going to the mysterious bachelor pad? No, I don’t have a problem with it. You have always been a complete gentleman with me.”
“Do not get overly excited. There is hardly any furniture, and the place is in desperate need of a feminine touch. However, it is quiet, and we can be assured of complete privacy.”
She studied his profile for a few moments. “When you say ‘complete privacy,’ you aren’t just talking about being away from humans, are you?”
He looked quickly at her, and then back at the road. “No, I am not. You know the Word very well. You know that holy angels are not the only ones who inhabit the spiritual dimension. Our talk should be done in a place that can be carefully monitored.”
“I suppose that you are referring to Michael and Gabriel when you speak of monitors?” she asked.
Flying over the car, the angels glanced at each other, uncomfortable with her knowledge of them, and aware that her familiarity with everything in their world would soon be increased exponentially. Elizabeth would have more direct contact with them than any other human had ever had. Angels had made limited appearances to mortals throughout history, but no one had ever known them with the level of comfort that Elizabeth would require.
“Yes, I am. They will ensure that no spies eavesdrop on us.” Darcy felt strangely liberated. The topic of his true nature had been forbidden for so long that to talk about it now was a luxury. He had to make a conscious effort to be silent and allow her to direct the conversation.
“So they are with us now? Are they in the back seat?” Elizabeth looked back over her shoulder.
Darcy chuckled and shook his head. “No, they are our protectors, remember? They are flying above the car so that they can watch for those who would harm us. They would not have a clear line of sight from the back seat.”
“You are not allowed to laugh at my ignorance when you are the one responsible for it,” Elizabeth said firmly, looking out her window.
“I am sorry, Elizabeth,” Darcy said contritely. “No angel has ever explained how our world works to a human before. Please remember that the angelic way of life is as common to me as is the human life to you. If I try not to laugh, may I at least smile from time to time?”
Elizabeth looked at her hands as she replied in exasperation, “By all means, show the dimples, but try to keep in mind that while many of my questions may seem foolish to you, I would not be asking the questions if I already knew the answers. You cannot expect me to automatically know what is not stated specifically in the Scriptures. You haven’t told me anything, you know, except that you can read people’s minds and speak into them. Can all angels do that?”
“All holy angels can hear human thoughts, but only guardians and archangels have the ability to speak into people’s minds. Guardians who protect members of the same family share all of their own thoughts as well, though we can consciously think of something else in order to avoid revealing our thoughts to other guardians, and we cannot hear each other or communicate over great distances. Only Michael is unlimited by distance. He can hear all angels, and he can communicate with one or all at the same time. He can also summon the entire Host, which includes all holy angels, though we usually use that term to refer to warriors, within seconds. All holy angels can ‘speak’ while in angelic form so that other angels can ‘hear.’ I did that quite often as Chief of the Guardians.”
Elizabeth tilted her head to see his face, and her hair fell across her shoulder.
“Are you still Chief of the Guardians?”
“I am, and as such, I command all guardians, though Asim issues the assignments. If I need to call for a specific guardian or a group of them, I am unlimited by distance in that. I can also hear any of them that need to speak with me at any time, and I can call for scouts. If I require warriors, I speak with Michael.”
Darcy concentrated on the road. He longed to tuck her hair behind her ear, to run his fingers through the curls, to smell her strawberry shampoo. He wanted to look at her face to judge how she was handling so much information at once, but he knew that it would be unsafe to watch her and ignore his driving. Privately, he wished that she would wait until they reached his townhouse to talk so that he could see her eyes.
You really should not be talking in the car. It is not as secure as is your townhouse, commented Michael.
“Elizabeth, the townhouse would be a more private setting for this conversation, but I would not have you think that I am putting off answering your questions.”
Darcy refused to answer Michael in his thoughts because Elizabeth would be unable to hear him, and he was determined that he would be completely open with her.
In answer, she put in their CD of duets and settled back, bending her left arm across her stomach so that she could use it to prop her right elbow, resting her chin on her fist.
“I can wait; we aren’t far from Spartanburg now,” she said calmly.
Darcy was greatly encouraged by her choice of music.
As the couple entered Darcy’s townhouse, Elizabeth noted that his living room contained only a grand piano and a computer desk with a chair. Once they were seated cross-legged on the floor of his living room facing each other, with Gabriel and Michael stationed at the windows looking for spies, Darcy smiled at Elizabeth, saying, “I apologize for the lack of furniture, but I never got around to purchasing anything except what I had to have. However, we did not come here to discuss my deficiencies in home decorating. I am sure that you have not exhausted your curiosity. Ask what you will.”
“You mentioned ‘holy angels’ several times in the car. I assume the other angels are the fallen ones?” she asked.
“Yes. One third of the angels left heaven with Lucifer and were cast to Earth.”
“Is Gregory one of those?” Elizabeth asked, looking Darcy straight in the eyes.
“No, he is not. However, his father, Lucifer, is.” Darcy’s voice was quiet and controlled.
Elizabeth’s mouth dropped open. She finally regained her power of speech.
“Gregory is the son of Lucifer? Satan himself?”
“Yes, Gregory is a halfling – a Nephilim. He was born of Lucifer and a human girl.” Darcy’s eyes flashed, but he showed no other sign of emotion.
Elizabeth struggled for words. “He is a demon?”
“Is Cassandra a demon, too?
He kept his voice carefully modulated. Elizabeth would not understand his satisfaction at the unbodying of Cassandra. “She was, but she no longer exists in this world.”
“Where is she?” Elizabeth asked.
“When Gregory attacked you at his house, I fought him in human form. Michael and Gabriel were there in angelic form, fighting Cassandra and two other demons who guarded Gregory. Cassandra was sent to her final destination by Michael, though Gregory and the two others escaped.”
“Cassandra is dead?”
Darcy considered his words. “Not exactly. She has been unbodied and sent to the place prepared by God for Lucifer and his followers. She cannot come back to Earth.”
To his surprise, Elizabeth showed no remorse for her erstwhile friend. “But Gregory escaped,” was her comment.
“He escaped only because I thought that you had been through more than enough. I did not think that I should unbody him in front of you while we were in human form. You would have seen it, and you were already upset enough,” Darcy replied, watching her reaction carefully.
“Now I understand why you said that Gregory and Cassandra were beyond redemption. Demons have already made their choice, and it is unchangeable.”
She paused as she considered his words. “But what about Gregory? He is half human. Did he have a choice?” she asked.
“After what he did to you, you would defend him?” Darcy was incredulous.
“He deserves to go to jail for attempted rape and for drugging me, but I do not wish everlasting torment on anyone.”
Darcy sighed. “You are so kind, Elizabeth, with so much more compassion than Gregory deserves. Gregory has been evil from his birth, and he likes being that way. He hates God and all good things. Lucifer and his son have been trying to destroy you from the time of your conception. They would have killed your mother to prevent your birth.”
“And you have been protecting me from them all that time,” she stated.
“Yes, it has been my great privilege to guard you. I was the protector of Mary, Abraham, Moses, Daniel, Esther, David, and many others.”
She sat up straight, her eyes wide open. “That is amazing!” She was having difficulty wrapping her mind around the idea that Darcy, her guardian, had been the protector of such important people. He actually knew them. Furthermore, she realized that she was part of that select group. The thought was overwhelming. “Perhaps one day, we can spend hours talking about what that was like – to guard all those great people.”
“I was a different creature then, Elizabeth. I felt no strong emotions, except on behalf of my charges. You are the first person I have ever loved. Angels do not love as humans do. We cannot be emotionally involved with our charges and do our jobs well.”
“Ah, your job. Now there’s the sticking place, isn’t it?” she asked quietly, her eyes boring into his.
“Yes, Elizabeth, you were my charge. At first, I was able to maintain an emotional detachment from you, but as you grew, I loved you – first as a friend, then as a big brother, a father, and finally as a man loves a woman. Trust me when I say that my love for you caused quite a stir throughout the heavenly realm as well as the demonic one. We have been avidly watched since you were conceived.” Darcy grimaced slightly, remembering his embarrassment.
“What?” Elizabeth saw his fleeting expression.
He hesitated for a moment. “I did not enjoy being a spectacle for the spiritual realm. It was torture to guard you in your private moments, especially when I began to recognize my feelings for you. Finally, I could deny it no longer. It was apparent to your family’s other guardians, as well as Michael and Gabriel, that I loved you. I turned my back when I had to be in the room while you bathed or changed. If we were alone in the house, I waited in the hallway outside your door, ‘seeing’ through your mind to make certain that you were safe, and hoping that you would not look in the mirror while you were unclothed. It had never bothered me to guard a woman before, but everything changed because of you. Yahweh gave me a dual nature, fully angel yet fully human, so that I might love you, Elizabeth. I am a new creature.”
Elizabeth took his measure. He was physically beautiful, certainly, but he was even more wonderful in his spirit. He had not taken advantage of her, even though she would not have known it. If she chose not to trust and completely forgive such a man, she would be punishing herself.
She reached for his hands with both of hers, and he leaned over, took her hands, and kissed them gently.
“Elizabeth, I have seen the most beautiful women of the ages, and you outshine them all.” He quoted freely from the Song of Solomon, “‘How beautiful you are, my darling; how beautiful you are! You are altogether beautiful, my darling, and there is no blemish in you. Like a lily among the thorns, so is my darling among the maidens. You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes.’”
Elizabeth surprised Darcy by speaking from the same book, “‘I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine. His mouth is full of sweetness, and he is wholly desirable. This is my beloved and this, my friend. I am lovesick.’”
She leaned closer to him and whispered into his ear, “‘May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine.’”
Taking her words as the invitation he had awaited, Darcy pulled her onto his lap and kissed her softly. He thought his heart would burst with the joy of it.
“I am your beloved?” he asked, nuzzling her neck as he held her in his arms, stroking her long hair.
“You are,” she breathed. “I am spoiled for anyone else. No other man could match up to you.”
She felt him smile against her neck and thought, Don’t waste the dimples. I can’t see your face.
I have many more smiles, Elizabeth, and you may have them whenever you want them. Do you forgive me?
I had already forgiven you, Fitzwilliam, but I have decided that I must trust you again. Gabriel pointed out to me that God trusts you implicitly; I can do no less. However, I will have more questions, you know.
He continued to kiss the line of her jaw. I hope that you never run out of questions for me, my love. Maybe I can manage to hold your interest if there are things that you want to know. I am a fairly boring man, I fear.
Elizabeth laughed and drew back to look into his perfect face. “If you are boring, I don’t want to meet anyone exciting. You are quite interesting enough for me.”
“Elizabeth, will you excuse me for a moment?” he asked.
“Sure,” she answered, puzzled.
He set her on the floor and hurried into his bedroom, returning almost instantly to kneel before her on one knee, taking her hand in his.
“Elizabeth, I wanted this moment to be special and memorable, and you nearly died. I do not want to take you back home without having this settled. When God made me into a dual natured being and told me that He wanted me to win your love, He said for me to use I Corinthians 13 and Ephesians 5:25-28 as guides. I have studied those Scriptures, and I truly do love you as Christ loved the church. I would be willing to die for you. I also know that love is greater than faith, hope, gifts, or knowledge. Without love, we are nothing. Without love, none of the rest means anything. Today, I am rejoicing in the truth, and I have learned that real love never fails. I know that you are young, but you are not like most eighteen-year-old girls. Elizabeth Faith, I love you with all that I am. You are a part of my heart which was missing for thousands of years, and I did not know it until I loved you. Will you marry me?”
Elizabeth stood to her feet and looked down into his eyes, shining with love for her. She thought of the sacrifices that he had made for her, and of how he always thought of her before anything or anyone else – including himself. He was the most unselfish person she had ever known, and she loved him with her whole self. He was her other half. She leaned toward him and held his dear face between her hands, kissing him gently, first on his lips and then on each eyelid.
“I will,” she breathed softly.
He took the ring from his pants pocket and held out his hand. She gave him her left hand, and he slipped the ring on her finger, holding his breath in his excitement.
Darcy stood and gathered her into his arms, lowering his face to hers for a deep kiss. He pulled away a few inches.
“You are finally mine,” he said with a broad smile.
Not yet, thought Michael.
Be quiet, answered Gabriel.
Darcy easily ignored both of them, keeping all of his attention focused fully on his lady.