The keys jingled in her hand, rattling as she tried in vain to unlock the door. Again. The door always picked the worst days to be stubborn. She sighed heavily, then turned and began walking off the porch. Gabriel's eyes followed her intently.

"Where do you go?" he asked quietly.

She wanted to scream. She really did. Hell was not a pleasant experience, first of all, and she certainly hadn't expected to be stuck with him. But here she was, leading him into her house. No, trying to lead him into her house. Not surprisingly, the keys didn't want to work. If she were lucky, they would open the back door. After yesterday, she would be surprised if anything went right.

Some people believed the old adage that bad things happened in threes.

Talis disagreed.

Bad things never happened, but annoying things seemed to happen by the thousands. The door was no exception. In fact, it just fit right in. She made a mental note to get the locks changed. Maybe then getting in her house would be a little easier. A hand fell heavily onto her arm. Gabriel's arm. She jumped in spite of herself.

"I'm going to the other door," she replied through gritted teeth. Wasn't it obvious they couldn't enter the house this way?

"I can fix it," he answered, determined.

Now she wanted to laugh. He'd never even seen a doorknob. How was he going to fix it? Just like a man… And a normal one at that. She suddenly wondered how he'd changed when his wings fell from his back. Would he know things, just like any human? Doubts began to assail her from all sides. Maybe bringing him into the house wasn't a good idea. What if…

A sardonic smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. He knew exactly what she was thinking. She forgot herself sometimes, he knew. She forgot the world she lived in. She, unlike most humans, crossed the fine line between heaven and earth. If she only knew how much of her time was spent in his realm--the realm he used to inhabit--she would no longer think of herself as human. A grave mistake. A mistake she had never made. She was unaware she treaded in the world of angels.

Hell was a different matter. She entered it far too often.

He moved carefully across the porch to the door, grasping the doorknob in his hand. The brass seemed to glow slightly and Talis shook her head to clear her vision. A trick of the light, she told herself. It's not really glowing. But it was. She could lie to herself all she wanted, but he was doing something outside her realm of knowledge. Not screwing it apart and staring at the pieces before announcing he didn't know how to put it back together. Oh, no. He was really, honest-to-God fixing it.

Maybe she wouldn't have to get the locks replaced after all.

"Maybe I'll have to keep you around," she murmured.

He glanced up at her quickly, his eyes serious. "You may not have a choice."

Then, quickly he amended, "For a small amount of time."

Eyes lowered, avoiding his gaze, she moved to the door. Unaware that he unconsciously moved out of the way. She slipped the key into the lock again, certain it would work this time.

It did.

Of course.

Blessed or damned, he was still an angel. Something that more than likely worked in his favor. She wished she had that advantage. But, unfortunately for her, she was only human. And lucky that her door had opened.

With a sigh, she twisted the knob and pushed the door. A dark, empty chasm stretched in front of them. Then she slid her hand along the wall next to the door, fumbling, before light flared into the spacious room.

"And then there was light," she muttered.

He cast her a sardonic look. "An infamous line from your Bible, if I remember correctly."

Fleetingly, she wondered if she should be offended. Something about the way he said it made her wonder if he mocked her. One elegant eyebrow raised, she asked, "My Bible?"

A sigh. "Of course, 'your' Bible. The Bibles of the human race and in your case, of the Christians. The concept may be His, but the words are of humans. All religions managed to understand His basic concepts of good and evil, but the stories and the words may be very different." He smiled, his eyes lighting up like the sun, amused. "Is it plausible to think any one is exactly right?"

He was right. Talis herself had chosen a value system somewhat different than the one taught by the religion she claimed. Although anymore, she claimed God more than a religion. Just as Gabriel said, not everything could be true in every religion. Especially since they all contradicted each other.



(to be continued)