A short and sweet Christmas oddity for you. If you’ve read Lexington Black, you know the ending. This is a What Happens Next, with a bit of black Christmas magic, courtesy of the Archangel Gabriel from the film, The Prophecy. (Yes, the one with Christopher Walken as Gabriel, surely one of the most genius pieces of casting ever.)
The audio version of this story was published in 2015 on WROTE Podcast as part of the 12 Days of Stories. It can also be read on Wattpad.
After almost a year of marriage, the honeymoon was definitely over. Tensions had started to arise between Rob and Lex, caused in part by Rob’s insecurities. Maybe they were too different. Maybe they had not given it enough time before rushing headlong into marriage. At the time they had been 100 percent sure, but now? Rob’s cautious side had reared up again, putting all kinds of doubts in his mind. After all, he had been married before and that had ended badly.
The ink on the divorce papers was barely dry before Lex came along. Suddenly, Rob had been hit for six by the strength of his feelings for another man. There had even been a cooling off period after he discovered that Lex had been keeping a prior relationship with Rob’s father a secret, but they had overcome that. He knew that Lex loved him unconditionally, but did Rob feel the same? Lex was passionate, opinionated and impulsive. Rob calmed him down. That was what their friends said, anyway. They might as well have said that Rob was dull.
By November, his first wedding anniversary was just around the corner and the unease would not leave him. Were people laughing at him, waiting for him to say he had made a terrible error in marrying Lex? Was he really gay or going through a mid-life crisis, brought on by his divorce and delayed mourning for his father? He was so confused. He couldn’t think properly. He wanted to get away for a few days and sort himself out.
Lex knew there was something wrong but Rob could not answer his repeated pleas to tell him what was troubling him, because he did not really know himself. A heart-to-heart talk with Caressa, Lex and Rob’s closest friend, helped him decide that going away for a while would be a good thing.
‘Darling, you need space. God knows I love Lex, but he is very full-on. I’m not surprised you need a break,’ she said.
Rob knew she was right. Caressa was the definition of the phrase “full-on.” By day he was Peter, art gallery owner, and by night she was Caressa, drag artist with a voice of honey. If she empathised with Rob’s predicament, he knew it was not just his stupid imagination.
He didn’t tell Lex he was going until the last moment, via a note he left on the kitchen table. He tried to explain how he was feeling and implored Lex to give him some space, rather than following him immediately. Then he had walked out of the apartment, wondering whether he was doing the right thing.
Out in the rain-slicked street, he was oblivious to anything but his own thoughts. The blare of a horn seemed to come from far away. He heard, rather than felt the sickening thud as his body hit the pavement.
Then it was lights out.
When he woke, he was shocked to find himself in hospital. The lights were very bright and his head swam. A cheerful nurse told him he had walked in front of a truck and was lucky to be alive.
After she left, he carefully raised himself to a sitting position. His resolve was as strong as ever. He had to get out of there and continue on his journey. He was feeling fine even though he knew that with concussion he shouldn’t be driving.
No-one stopped him as he walked out of the hospital. He knew Lex would be furious with him, but he did not care. He would continue his recovery when he reached his writer’s retreat in Stonehaven, on the New England coast.
When he arrived, the weathered lighthouse looked imposing against a leaden sky. A keen wind came off the sea; the first icy breath of winter. Rob shivered and went inside to light up the wood burner.
Over the next few weeks he seemed to drift in a wilderness, but it was quite comfortable. He took long walks by the sea every day, and existed in a peaceful contentment. Lex did eventually come to visit but there was no intimacy between them. It was as if a wall had sprung up, and neither of them could see a way of scaling it.
Caressa also came, and she gave him a hard time.
‘I said a few days, not weeks! Why are you doing this? Lex needs you. He loves you. We all love you. Why won’t you come back?’
‘Because I’m still trying to work things out.’ No matter how many times he said it, she didn’t seem to listen to him.
‘I hate you,’ she said. ‘Wake up and see what you have, you selfish bastard.’
‘It’s something I must do,’ he replied. ‘This is the space I need to think.’
Most of the time, she would leave in flourish and fury after telling him she hated him again. But she always came back.
Geri came as well, with her partner, Simon. Rob couldn’t find the words to tell her how much he appreciated them being there, but even she was angry with him.
‘This is so unfair. I wish you could see what you’re doing to Lex. To all of us. We don’t understand why.’
He thought she was being over-dramatic, but was wise enough not to say so.
‘It’s something I have to do,’ he said instead. ‘I know you don’t understand, but I didn’t ask you to.’
‘Come on, mate,’ Simon said gloomily. ‘We’re relying on you to be a godfather.’
Geri cried, which was something she hardly ever did. ‘You’re going to be an uncle, Rob. If you don’t come back I’ll never forgive you!’
‘But you can come here,’ Rob insisted.
‘I want you and Lexi to be godparents.’ She took his hand. ‘I’m scared, Rob. I want my little brother there to laugh at me and tell me to get my shit together.’
As Christmas drew closer, the amount of visitors increased. Most of his family came, though not his mother, who still had not forgiven him for being gay. His youngest sister, Sara, travelled over from England and spent five days with him, in between shopping trips. She showed him her purchases and kept up a steady stream of gossip which provided a welcome distraction. Roger and his husband Tony were regular visitors and, although they didn’t say much, he appreciated their company.
Jerry Ford visited, and that was a real surprise, especially when he brought along his new girlfriend, Gemma. They looked a bit self-conscious at first, but talked easily after a while. Gemma was nervous about the gender reassignment surgery she was having early in the New Year which would make her transformation complete. Jerry kept looking at her as if he could not believe his luck at finding her.
‘You bring people together, Rob,’ he said. ‘That’s your gift. You can’t see it, but we all do.’
Rob thought it was sweet of him to say so, but he didn’t believe him.
Twelve days before Christmas. Rob was thinking of Lex and their looming first wedding anniversary. Would he be ready to come home for that? He didn’t want to leave Lex alone on that day, but by then, so much time had gone past, he was not sure how to get back to him. It could already be too late.
That night a storm was howling something fierce, buffeting the walls of the old building and making it groan in protest. Rob didn’t mind. He found the noise comforting. The roar of the sea was constant, a low level roar in the distance.
Then closer in, a voice.
‘Hey. Wake up, asshole.’
He opened his eyes. The room was dark, yet an eerie silver light seemed to come from the window opposite his bed. He sat up and blinked. A figure was silhouetted against the light.
He cried out in shock, instinctively pressing himself back against the bedhead.
‘Who the hell are you?’ His voice came out as a squeak. The figure looked vaguely familiar. Tall, dressed in black leather trousers and a long black jacket, pale skin. His hair was black, smoothed back from a high forehead. High cheekbones, a killer’s blank stare.
What the absolute hell?
‘You’re … Christopher Walken.’ That made no sense. He had to be dreaming. It was Walken as he had been in 1995 before age began to catch up with him.
No, wait. The era didn’t matter. This was Christopher Walken. In his bedroom. Ergo, a dream.
‘Not quite. I’ve just taken this form so I don’t scare you to death. Believe me, if I wore a long white dress and tinsel halo, that would be scary.’
‘You didn’t want to scare me, so you dressed up as Christopher Walken? That makes no sense.’ Rob now knew he was awake as he could hear the man clearly. He edged towards the back of the bed. The man was obviously some kind of psycho. If Rob kept him talking, maybe he could get him out of the tower without being made into sushi.
‘I’m not going to kill you. I’m trying to keep you alive, you dumb fuck.’ The intruder had Walken’s voice and swagger. ‘I’m Gabriel. The Angel Gabriel. You know. Messenger from the Creator? That gig you really wanted in your school Nativity play because you liked the fluffy wings? You never were, though. Being the Headmaster’s sone must have been hell. Always a sheep, never a shepherd. The harp was the best, though. The best damned golden harp I’ve ever seen…’
‘Stop! How do you know all that?’
‘Because I’m an angel, dumbass. What part of that don’t you get?’
It was hard to concentrate. The man sounded like anything but a celestial messenger. With that in mind, it was probably best to play along.
‘I’m honoured, but aren’t you supposed to be busy at this time of year?’
Gabriel rolled his eyes. ‘That was two thousand years ago. Now all I have to do is turn up and look fabulous.’ His husky voice was playful.
‘So where are your wings? I thought angels had to have wings.’
‘Under my skin. They itch like hell.’
‘I want to see them.’
‘Nope. Not yet. You haven’t earned it.’ Gabriel took a step closer. The light surrounded him like an aura. It must have been the moon shining through the window, Rob reasoned.
‘What do you mean, I haven’t earned it?’
‘Not yet. I’m leaving now. Somewhere else to be. We’ve established contact and that’s all I wanted to do. You know. To make sure you don’t start screaming and give yourself a heart attack. Go to sleep.’
‘How can I ….?’
Gabriel put one elegant finger against his cruel lips. ‘Shh.’
Rob slipped back into sleep.
He woke to someone singing The Twelve Days Of Christmas, belting out “Five Gold Rings” in a raucous baritone.
‘I thought angels sung better than that,’ Rob groaned, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
‘They do, but if I unleashed the full majesty of my voice you might think you were on your way to the Pearly Gates. A bit presumptive, especially for a Catholic.’
‘And how. Let’s go for a walk.’
‘I don’t want…’
He looked around. Somehow, they were on a beach with bone white sand. The wind blew Gabriel’s hair around his face. A strange white fog blanked out all recognisable landmarks. It was just the beach, the sea drawing calmly in and out, and Gabriel.
‘I don’t believe in angels,’ Rob said.
Gabriel glared at him. ‘Don’t say that. Every time you say that, an angel dies.’
‘I didn’t think angels could die. They’re already dead, aren’t they?’
‘That’s a fallacy put about by humans. They’d like to be angels, but they’re not. Talking monkeys, yes. Angels, no.’
‘I don’t believe in angels,’ Rob declared loudly. ‘I don’t believe in angels! There, I’ve just murdered two angels. How does that make you feel?’
Gabriel began making horrible gargling sounds. He scrabbled at his own throat, sinking to his knees, breath coming in short gasps before sprawling on the sand on his back like a malevolent black starfish, eyes closed.
Rob waited. Gabriel didn’t move.
‘You’re faking it, aren’t you?’ Rob said eventually.
One of Gabriel’s eyes opened. ‘Is my acting that bad?’
‘If you’re masquerading as Christopher Walken, then yes. The Prophecy was good, by the way. He was a better Gabriel than you.’
‘I’ll ignore that.’ Gabriel clambered inelegantly to his feet and brushed crumbs of sand away from his clothes. ‘Damn, these pants are tight.’
‘Why not be another form of Gabriel? Why Walken?’
‘Why Walken? That has to be the most redundant question in the history of the universe.’
Rob conceded he had a point. They continued walking. Rob’s feet left imprints on the sand, but where Gabriel walked, there was nothing. It was strange, but Rob was unafraid. After all, he was dreaming, wasn’t he?
‘So why are we here?’
‘I told you, it’s time to go home.’
‘And why should the Big Kahuna of Angels be that interested in me?’
Gabriel slung his arm around Rob’s shoulder. ‘It’s a lottery, my friend. Angels are around you humans all the time, trying to guide you into not fucking up. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. You could have ended up with Thedriel or Michael or Galius or any other angel but your luck is that you ended up with me.’ He pressed a kiss to Rob’s temple before letting him go.
‘So God sent you to save my life? Sorry, I don’t buy it. I don’t believe the world was created in seven days. I don’t believe a white man with a beard sits in Heaven and moves us about like pieces on a chessboard. I just don’t.’ He waited for Gabriel’s reaction.
‘Have you finished?’ Gabriel asked finally.
‘I just have a real problem with the whole religion thing.’
‘No shit.’ Gabriel’s voice was even.
‘Of course, you must know that already, as you know so much about my family.’
‘I could write a book on your family,’ Gabriel retorted. ‘There are some things humans won’t ever comprehend. I could go into a whole exposition about you fucking monkeys fighting wars and stirring hatred in the name of gods they created. I could say the whole world is fucked because of it, but I’m not here to talk heavy issues with you. I’m here because of you. No-one else. As I said, life is a lottery, and you’ve just won it.’ He moved his face close to Rob’s. ‘Lucky man,’ he whispered.
Rob backed away from him. ‘What are you talking about?’
‘Finally. A sensible question. Here’s another one. Why are you up here? What are you running from?’
‘You should know that already. You know everything else,’ Rob grumbled.
A patient sigh. ‘Just humour me.’
‘I needed some space to think.’
‘Well, you’ve got that.’ Gabriel gestured to the emptiness around them.
‘I’m not interesting enough for Lex. And am I really gay? How could I have not noticed for thirty-five years of my life?’
‘It doesn’t matter. Love is love, my friend.’ Gabriel danced away from him. ‘Seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying … I mean, who would actually want six swans? They’ll only fight with the geese and the amount of shit and feathers would drive me insane. As for eight maids a-milking, forget it. I’m lactose intolerant.’ He focused on Rob again.
‘What were you saying? Doubting Rob, thinks his life is too good to last so it won’t, right? Excuse me while I lose my lunch. This kind of self-pitying bullshit puts me off my food.’ He took a deep breath and burst into song. ‘A partridge in a pear tree! Oh by the way, I went to see someone else this week. Could have lost her baby but didn’t, thanks to my intervention. She believes in me, you know. I appreciate that. Hard to believe you shared a womb.’
Rob stopped dead. ‘Geri? Is she okay?’
‘Of course. She has to be careful though. All the stress of the last few weeks has taken its toll. Nice woman. Respectful. Had your share, I reckon.’
Rob gawped at him. ‘She’s an atheist!’
‘Not any more. Nothing like a crisis to make people turn to religion, booze or sex. FYI, she chose religion. So. We were talking about your problem, the one you have about being gay.’ Gabriel scratched his head for a moment. ‘Slightly belated, to be fair, after you’ve married a guy and taken part in some activities that, frankly, make my eyes water. Even I didn’t foresee the hidden advantages of a prostate.’
‘You have a problem with that?”
‘Not at all.’ Gabriel prodded him in the chest. ‘You do, my friend. Insecurity setting in. Do you love him?’
‘Of course I do!’
‘So what’s the problem? You walked away from him, built a fucking great wall so high you both can’t climb over it without my help. Why?’
Gabriel’s ability to show him the truth was unnerving Rob. ‘I don’t have to talk about this.’
‘Yes, you do. I’m the Angel fucking Gabriel and if I ask a question, you damned well answer it. Capische?’
Rob laughed shortly. ‘You’re going all gangster on me? How about asking nicely?’
Gabriel glared at him. ‘You’re talking about a Tarantino, Pulp Fiction scenario, right? I don’t ask for anything.’
Rob folded his arms and scowled at him. ‘What about goodwill to all men?’
‘You’re on dangerous ground, my friend. Answer the goddamned question.’
Rob watched him pace around. ‘You’ve just taken your boss’s name in vain. Isn’t that a treasonable offence or something?’
‘Why aren’t you this feisty in real life?’
‘Well, I’m really sorry I’ve disappointed you! I’m just Lex’s husband. The quiet one. The safe, dependable one. I’m nothing special.
‘So being gay isn’t a problem. Your husband isn’t a problem. Your frigging self-pity is a big problem. Which reminds me, I changed the wording on that note you left. You were embarrassing yourself.’
‘You had no right to do that!’
‘Tough shit. This is me pulling rank to make you see the light. Well, not the light. That would be a bad thing. For you, anyway.’
‘So what did you say?’
‘Oh, I can’t remember now. Something about going Christmas shopping, can’t wait to get him in the sack, you love him. That kind of stuff. Sweet, you know?’
Rob laughed humourlessly. ‘So what happens now? Is this some It’s A Wonderful Life scenario, showing me how awful everyone’s life would be without me in it?’
Gabriel shook his head impatiently. ‘Give me a fucking break.’ He palm-slapped Rob’s forehead and everything turned black.
Caressa was there the next day. She swept into the room in a cloud of J’Adore perfume, wearing glamour like a cashmere stole. She was bright and cheerful for a while, before getting to the point.
‘Darling,’ she said, tapping her gold-tipped fingernails on the table beside them. ‘Christmas is in three days and Lex is beside himself. We all are. We love you and need you with us. That’s all I have to say. You’re being beastly and I hate you.’ She left again, slamming the door behind her.
Don’t go, Rob thought, but she could not hear him.
Lex arrived next. He had lost weight and his lean, handsome face was drawn. Rob felt a stab of guilt. He was almost too good-looking in a dark suit, wearing the gold Saks tie Rob had bought for him on a whim the previous Spring.
‘It’s our wedding anniversary tomorrow. Our first wedding anniversary for fuck’s sake. Don’t make me spend it on my own. I can’t stand it. I’ve only just found you and this happens?’ He pressed a soft kiss to Rob’s lips. ‘I love you. Don’t leave me. I can’t function without you. Surely you know that?’ Then he lay his head on Rob’s hand and wept.
‘Christmas Eve, Rob. All the world is waiting with baited breath. Well, not all but you know what I mean…’
‘I want to go home.’ Rob cut through Gabriel’s stream of chat.
‘Are you seeing a bright light? Do you feel compelled to follow it? If so, I’ve failed and you’re fucked.’
‘I just want to go home.’
Gabriel punched the air in delight. ‘Good! Just in time. You know what this means?’
‘No.’ Rob was wary. He didn’t know whether to trust him or not.
‘You finally get to see my wings. This is the best bit.’ Gabriel took Rob’s hand and hauled him up to the sundeck of the lighthouse. ‘Stand back.’
Rob obeyed. He watched Gabriel leap lightly onto the iron balustrade. He balanced as easily as a tightrope walker and slipped off his jacket to reveal a white silk shirt.
‘Are you really going to….?’
‘Hush.’ Gabriel crossed his hands over his chest and bowed his head. Then he looked up and winked. ‘Don’t be scared.’
At once he was surrounded with shimmering light that cast deep shadows over his pale, angular features. A tearing sound made Rob wince in sympathy. He bit his lip to stop himself screaming as two enormous black shadows loomed out of the darkness. Agony ripped across Gabriel’s face as the giant wings unfolded behind him, hanging over the edge of the railing. He paused, catching his breath, before spreading the wings right out, revealing the enormity of their span.
Rob knew his mouth was hanging open, but right then he had no idea how to shut it. The angel reminded him of the elegant cormorants that perched on the harbour walls. The feathers looked glossy, iridescent and touchably soft.
‘Always stings a bit,’ Gabriel said, wincing.
Rob still gaped at the enormous great things that had just sprouted out of Gabriel’s back.
‘I’m dreaming this, right?’
‘That’s a matter for conjecture.’ Gabriel gently flapped his wings, causing Rob’s hair to ruffle. ‘Are we going home or what?’
‘I’m not ready to die yet.’
‘The sweetest words I’ve heard this year. You’re not going to die.’ Gabriel held out his hand. ‘Come with me if you want to live.’
Rob looked askance at him. ‘You’re quoting The Terminator? Seriously?’
Gabriel gestured impatiently. ‘I’m doing my best, son. If I ever say “I’ll be back,” then you need to start worrying.’
Rob hesitated. ‘In your movie, the guy said “never trust an angel.” Or something like that.’
‘Yeah, Hollywood has a habit of rewriting the truth. This is real.’
Rob didn’t move. ‘How real?’
‘As real as it gets.’ Gabriel grabbed Rob’s hand and pulled him to his feet. He spun him around and Rob felt himself being held against Gabriel’s chest, the angel’s arms around his waist.
‘Hmmm, you’re a sweet man. I’ll miss you,’ Gabriel whispered. He gave Rob’s neck a good, long lick. ‘You taste delicious. So tedious that adultery is a deadly sin.’
His touch felt like warm honey, and the length of Gabriel’s body against Rob’s own felt better than it should have done. He shivered with the temptation of possibilities.
‘I didn’t think angels were interested in that kind of thing,’ he muttered.
‘I keep my options open. Don’t worry. I don’t intend to seduce you. Instead I’ll enjoy watching you and Lex making up for lost time.’
Rob craned his neck to look at him. ‘You actually watch us having sex?’
Without warning, Gabriel tumbled backwards over the balcony. Rob’s stomach flipped over and seemed to lodge in his throat. The rush of air snatched away his scream as the angel turned and with inches to spare, swooped along the ground and back up into the sky. It was like the best roller-coaster ride ever.
‘Holy shit!’ Rob laughed, half-terrified, half-exhilarated as they sped over the sea, following the full moon’s silver path towards Manhattan.
When they alighted for a moment on the highest point on the Tappan Zee Bridge so Rob could catch his breath, he could see the lights of New York with the Freedom Tower in the far distance. Then came another hair-raising fall towards the Hudson before flying along the river, past houses, trees and twinkling Christmas lights.
‘Can anyone see us?’ Rob asked, holding on tighter.
‘Not with my black, anti-tracking wings. Don’t want to cause an international incident.’ Gabriel’s voice was deadpan. It was hard to tell whether or not he was joking.
Something else occurred to Rob and he was gripped by panic.
‘It’s already dark! What’s the time?’
‘I haven’t got a present for Lex yet. What am I going to do?’
‘Believe me, that won’t matter.’
They sped towards Manhattan, circled twice around the Statue of Liberty just for the hell of it, and headed for the Empire State Building. Gabriel landed gracefully on the very top and held onto the mast with one hand, the other still around Rob’s waist. It allowed Rob to see the city as he would never see it again. All the dirty, unattractive aspects of city life hidden, allowing a deceptively beautiful façade of lights and glamour to shine.
‘Clever monkeys you are, to build all this,’ Gabriel commented.
‘Will you stop calling us monkeys? It’s really disrespectful.’
‘You are aware I could let you fall to your death right now?’
Rob knew he had a point. He held on tight to Gabriel as they launched into the air again, the wind from the angel’s wings warming his face. How could that be? He should have been deathly cold but he wasn’t. Gabriel’s body warmed him from the inside out, as if bringing him back to life.
They flew the length of Fifth Avenue, just above the line of traffic. People rushed around on the sidewalks, oblivious. Tinkling bells and laughter mingled with the wail of sirens and the frustrated honking of horns.
When they landed on the window sill of Rob and Lex’s apartment, the place was in darkness. Rob felt a stab of alarm and he shivered. Even from outside, the place seemed as if no one had been there fore a long time.
‘He’s not there.’ He felt like crying. “Where is he? I thought he’d be waiting.”
‘I know where he is.’ Gabriel wrapped him in his arms again and pushed away from the window, the wind whistling through his wings as they flew towards Broadway. ‘Goodbye, Rob. No doubt I’ll see you again. Not too soon, I hope.’
‘Wait. You’re leaving me now?’
Gabriel turned him so they were face to face. They were hovering just beyond the window of a large, brightly lit building which Rob didn’t recognise.
‘Time to go. Give me a kiss.’ Before Rob could protest, Gabriel placed his lips decisively on his. As Rob’s mouth opened in surprise, he felt energy rush into him, unlike anything he had experienced before.
Rob panicked, gripping him tighter. ‘But I’m not ready! I’m…..’
But he was falling through the air, wheeling, turning, gradually approaching a vivid light in the distance. It grew brighter and brighter, drawing him in …
His eyelids felt light, then floated open. The room was softly lit by Christmas tree lights, throwing shadows across the wall. The city was outside, oblivious, held within a white frame.
‘Gabriel?’ His mouth felt thick, as if he had not drunk anything for weeks. His lips were dry and sore. The room was achingly bright, hurting his head. “Gabriel? Where am I?’
‘Rob?’ A familiar voice, then movement above him. He could tell they were human, but their face was blurry.
‘Oh Jesus, he’s back! Get someone, quick!’
‘Gabriel. Flew me here.’
‘He’s delirious,’ another voice said. ‘It’s to be expected.’ A torch was shone into Rob’s eyes. He flinched away from it.
‘Lex. Where’s Lex?’
He blinked again, regaining his focus. His hand felt strange and when he looked, he saw the line going into the back of it.
Hospital. Why was he in hospital? He just wanted to see Lex. Nothing else mattered.
And as if by magic, Lex was there. His face was wet with tears as he pressed his cheek against Rob’s, then kissed his lips and his forehead, over and over.
‘What’s wrong?’ Rob’s voice was weak as tissue paper. Why did he feel so terrible?
‘You had an accident,’ Lex whispered, fresh tears running down his face. ‘You’ve been in a coma, baby.’
‘Coma?’ It didn’t make sense. He had gone up to Stonehaven, hadn’t he? He sipped cool water from the cup and straw Lex offered to him
‘You’ve been gone for six weeks.’ Lex kissed the back of Rob’s hand. ‘I thought I’d lost you but you’re going to be fine.’
‘Gabriel…’ Rob swallowed. ‘Angel. Brought me back.’
‘Yeah, I know.’ Lex’s lips were warm on his skin. ‘I know, baby. He brought you back.’ He stroked the hair off Rob’s forehead and pressed another kiss against it.
‘But Caressa… she came to visit. You came too. Geri. Oh God, Geri! Is she okay? Baby okay?’
‘You heard all that?’ Lex put his head down on the bed and cried. Rob felt his throat thicken.
‘Lex … What’s wrong?’
‘Geri and the baby are fine.’ Caressa was standing nearby. She sounded shaky as well, dabbing at her smoky eyes with a tissue. ‘She came to visit. We all did. Talked, nagged, cried, screamed, shouted. You wouldn’t wake up, damn you. Ruined my makeup every time…’
Lex clasped Rob’s free hand between his own. ‘Next time you want to go out shopping, I’m coming with you. You’re not safe to be let out by yourself.’
As he spoke a darkness materialised behind him, angel’s wings spread out like a shadow across the wall. Gabriel. He pressed his finger to his lips and winked before dissolving away.
‘I think I’ll be fine,’ Rob said, smiling weakly. ‘We both will.’