Before leaving Sacramento, Michael stopped at a small building. He intended to go to church. He missed the fellowship, singing with others and the sermon. Angel tried to sit and enjoy it like Michael was but the preacher was looking right at her and she felt all eyes were on her, so she bolted.
Michael left her to sit alone in the wagon while he went back in to worship. Angels idea of God was a great eye in the sky waiting for a chance to squash you like a bug. Oh, mom had been Catholic but in Angels mind God had no forgiveness for mom or her. Angel had not forgiven anyone either.
“Amanda, what are you afraid of?” Michael ask again, “Did anyone ever say anything nice to you?”
“What do you see in the mirror Amanda?” Michael asked “my mother” Angel said.
Michael opened up on the ride telling Angel about his life with his father and an old slave he loved very much. He told how his father gave him over to that slave, took all his inheritance, family, everything away from him.
“You must have hated him.” Angel said, but Michael smiled and said, “No. I loved him, and I’m grateful he was my father. Without all that, I might have never come to know the Lord, and in the end, my father had more reason to hate me. I left and took my sister Tess and Paul, her husband, with me.”
Angel felt a soft warm feeling curling in side her. She wasn’t feeling threatened nor used with this man. When he smiled at her she found herself smiling back.
The Altman family were stranded on the road and Michael insisted on helping them get their wagon wheel back on and he invited them to stay with them for the winter. Angel couldn’t believe it. He even told them they could have the cabin and he and Amanda would stay in the barn. The Barn?
The Altman’s said she was an Angel of Mercy. Angel took care of that quickly by informing Mariam how Michael had met her in a brothel.
Miriam wasn’t rude or shocked or anything. She asked if they could be friends. Angel hadn’t been friends with any good girls. What would they have in common.
Angel watched the Altman’s and Michael as they all got to know each other better. Mrs. Altman made dresses for Angel out of the material they had purchased in town. She said a newlywed needed nice undergarments too so she gave them to her as a special gift.
Angel couldn’t understand this kindness and affection for a complete stranger. She was guarded but did like having someone to talk with and help with the chores and all.
At night they played games while dad played the fiddle. Sang hymns of God and His love. No way was Angel going to sing praises to God for anything.
“Not yet” Michael said as he held her in his arms. She could feel him touching deep inside her fanning the spark into a flame.
Little Ruthie never left Amanda’s side. She started calling her Mandy. She tried to tell them her real name was Angel and Michael called her Amanda. But they all said they thought Mandy fit her better.
Miriam and Angel were becoming closer and talking about men and love. Miriam was interest in meeting Paul, Michaels brother-in-law who lived near by. Miriam shared that she could only dream of having a man like Michael love her. Paul wasn’t that man.
Angel was settling in yet she kept hearing the Duke’s words:
“Everybody wants something Angel. Nobody gives you anything without expecting something back.”
Angel closing her eyes, said “I don’t believe you anymore, Duke.”
She was going to pretend that she was pure and whole and not let the nightmares of the last 10 years destroy it for her. Not this time. Not if she could help it.
I pretended also when I first came to church, no way was God going to forgive for the ugly things in my life. I was content just watching Him from a distance. I didn’t deserve Grace, that was for the Good People. I can relate to Angel in so many ways. Can you?