It wasn’t often that an angel walked through the afterlife, but when it did all the spirits knew that something important was happening. What they didn’t know, and Caitlyn did, was that a lot of planning went into when the angel was going to visit. There would be several phone calls, which were referred to as ‘Sacred Calling’, files would be passed between the spirit guide and the angel, the route the angel was going to take through the afterlife was planned carefully, and then the angel would enter the afterlife.
Another thing most spirits didn’t know was how much input angels could have in their spirit’s incarnations. Before her first ‘Sacred Calling’, which happened during a time when Caitlyn was manning the reception desk, she didn’t really believe that angels existed. The last thing she expected when she picked up the phone was to hear, “This is Uriel. Can you put me through to Elizabeth, please?”
“I’m afraid Elizabeth is in a meeting right now,” Caitlyn replied, when she finally found her voice. “Can I take a message?”
“You’re new,” Uriel said, and Caitlyn could hear the smile in his voice. “What’s your name?”
“Caitlyn. How did you know I was new?”
“No one new ever expects to answer the phone to an angel, so it always takes them a while to say anything. It doesn’t happen very often and I’m glad that it was finally my turn to ring the newbie.”
Caitlyn raised an eyebrow. “I’m happy to be of service,” she said, attempting to keep the sarcasm out of her voice because she was talking to an angel. “Can I take a message?”
“It depends on whether you can help me or not. I need to check a file on the spirit of Jane Hardy and I think Elizabeth was the last person to have it.”
“She was, but I think it should be back in the cabinet now.” Caitlyn turned and rolled her chair towards the filing cabinet that held all the ‘H’ files. “If you give me a moment I can check for you. Elizabeth probably won’t be too long in her meeting, so if I can’t find it then hopefully I should be able to put you through.”
“That would be perfect.”
Still not quite used to the fact she was talking to an actual angel, Caitlyn pulled out the top drawer of the filing cabinet. With one hand she started checking though the files towards the middle of the drawer.
“How do like training to become a spirit guide?” Uriel asked.
“It’s interesting,” Caitlyn replied. “Although reception duty can be a little boring sometimes.”
“I hope I made your day a little less boring.”
“Yes, you did.”
“Great. Now that you’ve had your first Sacred Calling you can come and meet us.”
Caitlyn stopped checking the files for a moment. “What?” she asked, unable to believe that Uriel had said that she’d be meeting the angels.
Uriel laughed. “I love it when I get that reaction. Spirit guides in training have to meet the angels at some point because there are times when we work together very closely. Usually we leave it until after the first time a new spirit guide has picked up the phone and found that there’s an angel at the other end.”
“Why do you wait?” Caitlyn asked, finally finding the hundreds of files on people with the surname Hardy.
“It’s easier that way. We don’t often come down to the afterlife, it causes too much upheaval for the spirits and some of them can get a little clingy, so it’s better for you to come to us. To be able to come to the angelic realms you have to know that we exist. Hence the phone calls.”
Caitlyn bit on her lip as she finally got to the J. Hardys and wished that there was an easier system for finding files. “I don’t know that you exist though. You’re on the other end of the phone, so you could just be someone pretending to be the angel Uriel. Unless there is some way you can prove your identity through the phone I think I’m going to stick to be slightly skeptical about angels.”
Uriel was silent for a long time, so long that Caitlyn started to think he might have put the phone down on her, until he asked, “Is there a reason you’re skeptical?”
Caitlyn shrugged and then remember she was on the phone. “There no specific reason I’m skeptical. I never believed in the existence of angels when I was alive, probably because I never saw one, so until I do see one I think it’s going to be hard for me to accept that angels do exist.”
“Not everyone needs an angel, Caitlyn.” Uriel sighed. “Some spirits are better off just having their guides to help them, while there are those who probably wouldn’t get through another incarnation without our help. It’s something that you’ll learn in time because you will find spirits who need to be passed on to us.”
“Like Jane Hardy.”
“Why do you say that?”
Caitlyn was still going through the files trying to find Jane Hardy’s file and knew that there would be at least six of them. It helped knowing that Elizabeth was the last person to have had the file last because her name would be on it until someone else picked it up to go through it.
“She’s had a few particularly difficult incarnations, so none of the guides have been able to convince her that she should incarnate again. That’s why she’s been passed on to me.”
“Is there any particular reason why you were chosen to look after Jane Hardy?”
“A spirit looking for redemption is always sent to me if they have trouble.”
Nodding, Caitlyn pulled out the file for Jane Hardy from the cabinet. “Last birth date for this spirit?” she asked.
“The twenty-sixth of February 1971.”
“I have the file right here. How exactly am I meant to get it to you?”
There was a pop and suddenly a man with wings appeared on the other side of the desk, still holding the receiver in his head. “Oops,” he said, smiling.
Caitlyn stared at him for a moment. It was all she could do. Talking to an angel on the phone was entirely different to having one standing right in front of her. He was actually kind of good looking, although she wasn’t sure she should be thinking that about an angel. The red eyes were kind of weird, but logical considering the shimmering scarlet hair and wings.
Finally she said, still speaking into the phone, “I thought you visited rarely.”
As Uriel made his receiver disappear she put hers down, shaking her head at herself. “We walk through rarely. They’re always carefully planned. Spirit guides are a different type of spirit entirely.” He held his hand out. “It’s very nice to meet you, Caitlyn.”
His hand was warm when she took it. Instead of shaking it as she had half expected him to do he lifted it to his lips and kissed it. They were just as warm as his hand. Raising an eyebrow, Caitlyn held the file out to him.
“Thank you, Caitlyn,” Uriel said, taking it. “To be honest I shouldn’t really have done this, but I wanted to be the first one to meet you.”
“New spirit guides are rare. I’m not exaggerating when I say that. A spirit takes a long time to get to the point when it can be a guide, so we have a new one maybe once every two or three centuries and I enjoy being able to greet the newbie first. It must be a couple of millennia since I last got to be the first to meet a newbie.”
“Okay…” Caitlyn tried to think of something she could say in reply, but it was hard to get her head around the idea that Uriel had been alive, if that was what an angel was, for so long. “Two millennia?”
Uriel nodded. “Two millennia really isn’t that long. We keep busy, but newbies are special. They never know what to say.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Are you alive?”
“It depends on your definition of alive. Are you alive?”
“I don’t know. I’m still trying to work out whether I can call myself alive or whether walking dead works better.”
“You think you’re a zombie?”
“How do you know about zombies?”
“I do read.” Uriel tutted. “Angels aren’t illiterate, and you’ll find that we read a lot of Earth fiction. Humans have interesting minds.” He looked at Caitlyn. “We can also use computers, before you ask.”
“I suppose you have to do something with all that time.” She shrugged. “Anyway, I didn’t mean we’re zombies, although I guess we kind of are zombies. I mean we’re not alive and yet we’re still walking and taking.”
“And filing.” He smiled. “You’re not a zombie, Caitlyn. You’re just humans in a different stage of incarnation to the ones that are living on Earth. I’d call it living, but it’s just not living in a human suit.”
Caitlyn thought about what he said for a moment. “Why am I having a conversation with an angel about zombies?” she asked herself.
Uriel laughed. “It’s an interesting conversation to have,” he replied, even though Caitlyn hadn’t expected an answer.
“You must have the same conversations with all the spirit guides when they first take their place. Surely it gets boring.”
“Every spirit is different, so every conversation, even if it is on the same topic as one I’ve had before, is different.” Uriel sat in one of the seats opposite Caitlyn’s desk. “Of course it helps that the world changes, so even a spirit I’ve met several times already can change their point of view, and I think that’s also very interesting – especially as the longer a spirit spends incarnated the more it learns about both the people around them and themselves.” He smiled. “Spirit guides are one type of spirit I most enjoy spending time around, as you…” For a moment he studied her. “Not all spirits will become a guide, no matter how many lives they live, so those who do are special in some way. Each spirit guide is chosen for a different reason, they have strengths that make the spirit council decide to offer them what can be one of the hardest jobs in the afterlife, and sometimes I do feel sorry for all of you.
“Nothing about being a guide is simple.” Uriel looked at Caitlyn, this time with pity in his eyes. “You stay here when other spirits, spirits you will have incarnated with before, move on, live new lives, and follow a path that you can never really step onto again. By becoming a guide you have changed what you will be in the future, as well as in the present, which is something that a guide doesn’t always truly understand before they take the position that they were offered.”
As their eyes met Caitlyn found herself smiling. “Fortunately I have a friend who was determined that I did truly understand what becoming a guide would do to the rest of my…” She searched for the right word, remembering Richard having used it before. “Existence. Being friends with Death wasn’t something I looked for, but it did help when I was asked to become a guide.”
“You’re friends with Death?” Uriel seemed surprised, which was to be expected, but he looked perplexed at the same time. As though he didn’t expect to be surprised. “Sam didn’t mention you, and he would have done if he met you. He knows how important you are to me.” He bit his lip. “Forget that I said that.”
“I’ve seen Richard’s mirror, Uriel, and considering what you are…” She found herself reaching out to squeeze his hand, without really thinking about what she was doing, as that was the sort of thing she’d do for anyone. “You having one isn’t a surprise, but him not mentioning the angels is.” Caitlyn sighed. “Although I guess that’s something he thought I wasn’t ready for, even though he accepted me becoming a spirit guide without arguing as much as I expected him to, for some reason.”
“Sam might have asked him not to.” Uriel brushed a hand through his hair. “I do have a feeling, though, that Richard still doesn’t trust Sam, not after the choice that Sam made.”
“What choice?” Caitlyn asked, wondering if that had something to do with what Richard had said to her when they first met.
“He’d had enough of saying goodbye, so chose to stop getting close to the Deaths, even though it was something he’d done since he awoke.” Uriel shrugged. “I think he hurt too much to carry on, but that didn’t stop him from watching all the Deaths in his mirror, which, to me, was just him being a masochist, and I did try to stop him. Maybe if he’d listened he would have felt ready to talk to one of the Deaths before Richard. Unfortunately it wasn’t until Gabriel convinced him that it was time for them both to move on, or it might have been Sam that convinced Gabe – I’m not entirely certain what happened, because I know the time before that their conversation had ended with Sam screaming at Gabe that he couldn’t possibly understand, and it was a surprise that they actually spoke to each other, let alone made the decision together that it was time for both of them to move on.
“They were right. Neither of them seemed to want to accept that we are, as far as we know, immortal, and we need to do something with the time that we have, even if what we’re doing with it isn’t the reason we exist.” He sighed. “Hekate told me that she thinks we’re tulpas and the more I think about it the more I think she might be right. We woke in what we call the angel’s lounge, Gabriel first, followed by the rest of us, although it wasn’t a quick process, and ever since then we’ve been trying to work out why it happened.”
“You know Hekate?” Caitlyn stared at Uriel. “The old Earth deities are real too?” She shook her head. “I don’t know why, when I’ve just found out that angels exist, I’m surprised that the deities do as well. How about God?”
“According to Hekate he’s just a voice. She thinks it might have something to do with how few people really connect with him, as a deity, rather than anything else, because they all seem to rely on their priests instead, and those priests…” Uriel shook his head. “It’s too easy for them to pretend that they are talking to God, when really they’re making up everything that they’re saying, so God might never be more than a voice on the wind that people hear occasionally.”
“Hekate knows God.” Caitlyn laughed. “I take it Hekate is one of those deities who knows everyone.”
“Pretty much.” Uriel smiled. “We’ve become good friends, now, even though I was scared of her when I first met her. She seemed so knowledgeable and there I am, not even sure that I’m doing the right thing because I have no idea what I am, really, feeling like a total idiot when she’s talking to me about how I might be have woken because of the people that believed in me.” He shook his head. “It was a difficult conversation to have and one I still haven’t shared with all of the others. The only one I felt I could tell, because of the time he was spending with Richard, was Sam, and now Sam wants to meet Hekate, to talk about her idea in more depth, because he thinks it makes a lot of sense.
“She wanted to meet him even before he wanted to meet her, so that isn’t an issue, but I don’t know if it’s a good idea for him to start getting close to the deities as well.” He bit his lip. “I came here thinking that I could act normally, even though I can’t stop thinking about everything, and… Caitlyn, sometimes I can’t help thinking we need more help from you than we can ever give, and yet it’s not something I’ve mentioned to any of the other guides, because I don’t think they’re ready to know that I’m not as certain of the choices that I’ve made as I’ve always seemed to be.”
“Why are you telling me?”
“I wish I knew.” Uriel sighed. “My only theory is that you don’t have any expectations of me, because you didn’t even know that angels were real until I rung you, and that makes me more open.”
Caitlyn smiled. “You obviously need someone to talk to and I don’t mind being that someone, as long as you don’t have a problem with a spirit guide knowing your angelic problems.”
“Of course I don’t mind and the other angels all know that I’m much more likely to talk to you, or one of the deities, than I am to talk to them about whatever my issues are. They might be bothered by it, but they’ve never said anything, so until they do, if they do, I’m going to keep doing what I think is right.” Uriel sighed again and it was then Caitlyn really started to connect with how he was feeling. “You’re much easier to talk to, because we all have our own issues that make talking to each other a chore most of the time. The only one of us who really seems to be friends with all of the angels is Mikhael and I think that’s because he’s different to the rest of us.” He shook his head. “I don’t know how to explain it, but he was the second of us to wake and he seemed to assume automatically that he wasn’t going to be the only one, so he waited for us. Unlike Gabe, who ended up in the afterlife without any idea of what he was, where he was, or even who he was. From what he said I believe he was given his name by one of the spirits he became close to, although he doesn’t talk much about that time. One day he might be ready, but I doubt it, because it was hard for him and in the end he lost everyone he’d become close to before one of the angels stumbled across him.”
“Didn’t he have wings?”
“Our wings didn’t start manifesting until there were ten angels and by that point Gabriel had been awake for nearly a century, without knowing that there were others like him. I’m always glad that I wasn’t the first of us, because I can’t imagine what it must have been like for him, and the spirits he found himself with didn’t truly accept that they were dead, that the time would come when they’d have to move on, in the same way that some spirits even now have difficulty with the idea of this being what death is like.”
Nodding, Caitlyn thought of some of the groups of spirits she’d met in the time she’d been training, who all seemed to think that they were still alive. How could it be death when they were living in houses, and they were feeling emotions, because that was something they didn’t expect, and they were doing the same things they did before they died, including playing games of football at the local sports centre? It was something she couldn’t explain to them, although they had no choice when it was their time to move onto a new life. Then they realised that everything they’d been doing was their way of clinging onto who they were and it was time for them to become someone else, someone new, as well as look back at the lives they had lived before, so they would know what lessons they needed to learn during their next life.
“I’ll be honest, Uriel – I didn’t expect death to be like this either, but I accept that I’m not living.” Caitlyn remembered the first time she’d gone from one part of the afterlife to another, because that was when she realised she had no choice. “Those spirits have never gone from here to the night beach, because they don’t want to believe that they’re dead, that they’ve left Earth behind and they’re somewhere else. While they’re in their town, with the people they were close to during their lives, they can hold onto the belief that they are still alive. It isn’t until they have no other choice that they start thinking that maybe there is something different.”
“Why did you accept that you were dead?”
“Death was the only thing that made sense. I remember going to sleep the last time, knowing that I was close to the end and that I’d done everything I could to prepare my daughters for it, and my granddaughters, although I never doubted that losing me would still hurt. Years ago, when we lost Nathan, it had been a shock. We hadn’t been prepared for his death, but it happened, so we dealt with it the best we could.” Caitlyn glanced down at the desk before looking back at Uriel. “For a while my daughters were angry with me for being able to move on so quickly and I couldn’t seem to explain that I knew some day I would see him again. His death didn’t stop me from caring about him, or realising that marrying him might not have been the best decision I made when I was young and believed marrying him was the right thing to do, and that I was grateful for the chance to be single for the first time in my life. There was so much that they didn’t know about me, as I’d been Mum. I hadn’t talked to them, but I started to after the loss of the man I had been married to for over half my life, because I realised that I was missing out on an important part of our relationship.
“So they came to understand why I could move on. Nathan still meant a lot to me, but I was almost glad that he was gone… and I felt so guilty for that for a long time. At least until my daughters understood that I had made what seemed like the best choice when I was a teenager and it wasn’t until I got older than I started to come to the conclusion that I’d made a mistake. Instead of waiting for love I’d gone with safety.” She shook her head. “I’d never been in love with Nate. He was my best friend and losing him hurt, but it was like losing my arm instead of my heart. As time passed I’d come to love him and I think it was then I knew that there was a difference between being in love and love itself. Love… there are so many types and as I’d never been in love I convinced myself that I was in love with him, because he was in love with me. He always had been. Now that we’ve had a chance to talk about I know that he never felt like he was being short changed, so I must have done something right, even though I was never deliriously happy.”
“Maybe he didn’t expect that from love, because not everyone is deliriously happy when they’re in love with someone. Being in love is something that’s different for everyone, and if his parents had that sort of safe love that doesn’t feel so passionate that might well have been what he expected as well.”
“The reason I chose him was his stability, because that was something I never had when I was younger, even though my parents were passionately in love. Sadly, for me, they were just the type of people who cared more for love than they did for money, so I always felt unbalanced, because they never knew where our next meal was coming from. I never had that problem. Nate was careful with money, and I always kept track of what we were spending to make certain that nothing went out that I didn’t know about, so I had what I’d always craved. It just wasn’t… exciting.”
“Which wasn’t a bad thing,” Uriel said, sounding as though he understood, almost better than Caitlyn had at the time.
“No, it wasn’t. I had no issues with it, while we were together, and then when he died I realised what it was that I’d been missing my whole life, but it wasn’t something I had a chance to think about before. Maybe if I had, if I hadn’t been busying raising our children and looking after him, then I wouldn’t have been as content as I was. When he died I felt old, even though I wasn’t, so I didn’t think about looking for someone else, for that relationship I’d missed out on, because I believed even then that I would be reincarnated.” Caitlyn looked around the office, smiling. “Of course that isn’t something that’s going to happen any time soon, but in time I will live another life, even though, as you said, I’ve stepped onto a different path now.”
“And, of course, you have your time here.” Their eyes met. “It isn’t unusual for two spirits who have never met each other on Earth to meet here and fall in love.”
Caitlyn bit her lip. “You’re talking about Richard.”
Uriel nodded, smiling. “If something does happen between you it’s not something you have to be embarrassed about. Even though I haven’t spent much time with him I like him and he was the right choice. That doesn’t make being Death any easier, it doesn’t make the spirits here any friendlier, but it does mean that he won’t spend as much of his time fighting what he’s become, the way a couple of them have before.”
“Samael walking away made things harder.”
“Yes, it did, and the Council did the best job they could, but they were missing his expertise. He has this ability to be able to look at a spirit and know that they’re meant to be Death.” Uriel sighed. “I do understand why he made the choice he did. Saying goodbye isn’t easy. I’ve done it enough times to know that it doesn’t get any easier, no matter how many times you do it, and Sam’s problem was that he’d get close to a spirit, really close, before they moved on to their next life.”
“Richard said that being Death doesn’t change his path in the same way that being a spirit guide changes mine.”
“You learn much more than Richard will about life during your time as a guide. Being Death he spends most of his time guiding those who weren’t ready to die back here and not much else, because of the position he has been given, as well as looking after the places of death, but none of that is anywhere near as in depth as what you do.” Uriel shrugged. “It’s hard to explain, Caitlyn. He has a job to do, one I know is the hardest in the afterlife, that means he doesn’t spend much time around the other spirits. They’re uncomfortable with him, due to what he is, and I’ve never known a spirit to willingly become friends with Death before – but I think that’s just another sign that you were meant to be a guide. You didn’t see him as his position. You saw him as a person.”
“He is a person.”
“I know that and you know that, but the other spirits don’t seem to think that way. Well the majority of them don’t, even the other guides, although I think part of that is because Richard isn’t exactly approachable when he isn’t working. I think, after Charis left, he promised himself he wasn’t going to get close to someone that might end up leaving behind, and I have no idea how you managed to break through the shields that he threw up around himself.”
“As well as the lies he told me when we first met, when he was trying to get me to walk away.” Caitlyn couldn’t help smiling. “He didn’t want me to try to get close to him, he didn’t want a friend, but I was determined, when he told me he didn’t have anyone, that I was going to be, at the very least, an irritation, until he was forced to give me a chance. Which he did, in the end, even though I think the reason he did was because he wanted to get rid of me. I don’t think he expected to want to become friends with me.”
“From what Sam said Richard didn’t expect to become friends with him either, so it all happened unexpectedly, and yet I still don’t think Richard trusts Sam not to walk away. It doesn’t matter what Sam says, as Richard’s read the journals.”
“Richard told me that Sam’s choice really affected the Death that he walked away from and, honestly, I’m not surprised that Richard is wary. I would be too, if I’d read about how damaging it was to lose the person that Death thought of as his only true friend, especially as Richard already went through that pain when Charis left.” Caitlyn sighed. “When I finally convinced him to tell me about Charis…” She shook her head. “For the first time I could understand why Richard didn’t want to get close to me. I think he was glad when I told him that I’d been asked to become a spirit guide, because it meant that I wouldn’t leave him, even though he did his best to convince me that it wasn’t a job I wanted. He kept reminding me, over and over, that becoming a guide would change everything, for both of us, in such a way that I realised he was scared that if I did take this job I’d walk away, because I’d suddenly realise what he was. As though I didn’t already know that he was Death.”
“Did becoming a spirit guide change the way you saw him?”
“No, not in the slightest. He was my friend long before I was asked to become a guide and nothing anyone here could say would change the way I viewed him, as I already knew how hard it was for him to be Death. They all see Death when they look at him. I see my Richard, a man I care about and feel the irritating urge to look after, even though he keeps trying to convince me that he doesn’t need looking after. Yet he know I’ve seen him when he’s returned from a particularly difficult extraction, so I have an idea of how hard it is for him to bring the spirits back where they belong.”
Uriel smiled. “I went with Sam and Death once, a long time ago, to view an extraction. They were trying to bring a particularly nasty poltergeist here, so he could be… fixed, I guess, although I’m not certain exactly what happens to them once they’ve been handed over to the Council.”
“There’s a group of spirits who work to emotionally ground the spirit, so it can let go of all the anger it felt at being dead, before either being handed over to some specially trained guides who’ll help it to move on to another life or given the waters of Lethe so that it can begin again.”
“You know that because you’re a guide?”
“I passed the information on to Richard and he’s put it in his journal. He thinks it’s important that we record as much as we can for the other Deaths, even though he promised Charis he would stay on to train his successor, because he isn’t certain that the Council will let him. Now that I know about Samael I can’t help wondering if he thinks the Council will expect the angel to train them instead of Death.”
“Sam used to, before he walked away, and when that happened things changed, more than he expected them to. He seemed to think that the Council would ask the Death to stay on, in order to train his successor, but it didn’t happen. That Death, the one that Sam found himself getting too close to, chose to move on as soon as the next Death was chosen, because he couldn’t stay in the afterlife any longer. I’m not certain why Sam was surprised, as the Death had felt the same way he had, and I wish I’d have known what was going through Sam’s head, because I would have told him that it didn’t matter to us that he was falling in love with one of the spirits of the afterlife.” Uriel shook his head. “I actually think it scared him when he realised how he felt and that fear gave him a reason to take a step back, at the very least, but once he did he seemed to get this idea in his head that we were all judging him.”
“No, and there were only two of us that realised what the issue was. Even though they’re my siblings we’re not really all that close. Sam spent most of his time with the Deaths, so I only really saw him when he occasionally returned to talk to Mikhael, which didn’t happen as often as Mikhael would have liked. He realised quite early on that Sam shouldn’t have been so focused on the Deaths, but needed to have other people there to support him, and if he’d have listened things might have been very different, especially as Mikhael tried to tell him more than once that the angels didn’t care if he’d fallen in love with one of the Deaths.”
“How did you find out?”
“Mikhael and I talked about it when Sam locked himself in his room for a week, because we both knew that something had gone very wrong then, but Sam had never been the sort of person to open up about what he was feeling. Especially not as he was certain that nothing he said would be right. He didn’t understand that we empathised with him. I can’t help wondering if he wanted us to be angry with him, to give him another reason to stay away, and if he didn’t say anything he could keep believing that he was right about us.” Uriel shrugged. “We may be angels, Caitlyn, but we all have our own problems, and the last thing we are is perfect, even though that seems to be how we’re viewed.”
“Even if you’d have known why you woke I could understand you having issues, because you’re immortal, some of you chose to connect with the spirits of the afterlife, and, no matter how much you want to be perfect, I can’t imagine that being in your position makes it easy.” Caitlyn smiled. “Not knowing makes things harder, as you’re always guessing. There is no one there to tell you what you should be doing, if the choices you made in the early years are were right, and I think that is going to make it easier for me to think of you as a friend, Uriel. If I’d have always thought of you as one of the angels I read about, as one of God’s messengers, it would have been much harder.”
“What makes you think I want a friend?”
“Everyone wants a friend. They may not always act like they do, they may do everything they can to convince themselves and everyone around them that they’re fine alone, but everyone wants someone they can talk to, someone they can trust with their secrets, and someone they can really open up to when they’re having a particularly bad day.”
“I have that in Hades.”
For a moment Caitlyn wasn’t sure what to say. “You’re friends with Hades?”
“Since the day I wandered into the Greek afterlife.” Uriel grinned. “Hades is a good person. He’s just very busy and keeps telling me that I need other friends. Even though he does his best to be there for me he has a wife, and children, and races to help guide.”
“Races?” Caitlyn bit her lip. “Is that something I should ignore, Uriel, considering what I am?”
Uriel shook his head. “No, not considering that. If it was anyone other than you I think they’d be better off not knowing, but you’re special, and I think you’re going to learn more than you really need to know about the multiverse.” He reached out and took hold of her hand, gently squeezing. “It isn’t often that I come across someone like you, someone I really feel I can talk to about anything at all, and I felt that from the moment I first appeared, but I was half expecting it. After I was asked to watch you, by the other spirit guides and by the Council, I realised that you were different from the others, and then you proved that by becoming friends with Death.” He shook his head. “I don’t think I’m making a lot of sense. Every single spirit guide is special, otherwise they wouldn’t be asked to do the job. This was your third chance – if something had happened to make the Council think that you shouldn’t become a guide this time then it would never have happened.
“When I first saw you I knew that you were the right choice. I understood that you had made a difficult decision when you married Nathan, one that was based on both fear and logic, and if you could do that, during your incarnation on Earth, then it was your time to be a guide. Even though you wanted love you chose stability, knowing that love isn’t always the answer.”
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