Angels Among Us: Chapter 3

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Chapter 3

Joy walked out of the store feeling like the Grinch when his heart grew three sizes.  Trying to spend five-thousand dollars was the most difficult thing she’d ever attempted.  Why didn’t she think of the Angel Tree first?  It would have saved her a lot of misery this morning.

Mr. Lockwood, the handsome store owner, who had been equally patient and frustrated with her, walked her to her car.  Alone.  The news crew managed to get their final interview out of her before she left, and now it was just her and him, and she remembered why she’d been uneasy when he first approached her in the store.

Because the first time she saw him, she forgot that she’d once been married to a man she loved more than life itself.

Yes, her first glance at Gabriel Lockwood had her heart thumping wildly and her mind scrambling to recall the last time that happened.  He was handsome, very much so with his dark blonde hair falling over a strong brow and his midnight blue eyes, but such good-looks were common with a lot of men, and they’d never had quite an odd effect on her.  Then he spoke, and his voice reminded her of Sidney Poitier, and she lost a whole three seconds of her life, just immersing in the sound of his refined and intelligent.  Not that Joy wasn’t, but she knew who she was, a simple southern girl from Alabama, and Mr. Lockwood spoke as though he’d traveled the world with the greatest of men...which he might have done, for all she really knew of him.

She stopped beside her car, still parked in the far back of the lot and turned to smile at him.  “Thank you, Mr. Lockwood.  This is a morning I shall never forget.”

“I believe I shall never forget it either, Joy,” he intoned softly.  “Thank you.”

“For what?  It was your money that was spent.”

He grinned.  “Not all of it.”

“No,” she laughed.  “You must really think I am crazy.”

“On the contrary,” he repeated her earlier words.  “I think you are the least craziest person I know.  And this might sound crazy in itself, but would you and your family care to join me for breakfast?”

“Oh...well, thank you for the invitation,” she said, “but Simon had his heart set on making breakfast this morning.  I’d hate to disappoint him, and I’ve been gone too long as it is.”  She spied a bit of disappointment cross his eyes, and she hated that she created the emotion.  “But, um...would you like to join us?  Simon most likely has been watching the news, and I’m sure he’s eager to meet you.”

His head tilted to the side and she noticed that a lock of his hair kept falling across his forehead when he did that.  He brushed it back in place and said, “ continue to speak of your son, but what about your husband?”

Blinking with confusion, she inquired, “My husband?”

“Yes,” he said, pointing down at her left hand where she still wore her wedding band.  Joy had never taken it off, and most of the time, she forgot it was there.  It had become a part of her.  It wasn’t that she was holding onto Benjamin’s memory through it.  She just felt naked without the familiar band of weight.  That, and she needed to soak her hand in dish soap just to get it off.

“Oh!  My husband!”

Now, he truly frowned at her, as if she was one of those women who disregarded her marriage vows so quickly.

“I apologize for misleading you, Mr. Lockwood.  I’m a widow.  My husband died ten years ago.  It’s just me and Simon at home.”

Though he continued to frown, but for a different reason, seeing as how his expression altered slightly, he replied, “Then it is I who should apologize.  I thought...well, it’s not important what I thought.”

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