Reading the four "Promises" stories will help in the understanding of this story. This continuing sage begins with the story "Love Makes A Family."

Allusion is made to the first season episode "Tyrannosaurus Tibia." Can you find it?

I do not own these characters and make no profit from their use.

The Angel Returns

Prologue

The creation of a blended family is always a tricky process. Often what starts out as a romantic notion, can evolve into a rather large muddle as the various different members of the family discover more about each other. As new chemistries evolve between family members, sometimes difficult and unanticipated tensions may arise. When Phoebe Figalilly married Professor Harold Everett it was a love-match celebrated by all who knew them.

It seemed to be a match made in heaven, complete with all the trappings of a star-crossed love affair and the complications to make the story all the more enchanting. It seemed to be a Cinderella-style drama culminating with the marriage of the lovely, young nanny with the handsome, older professor. However, included in the deal were Hal's three children and Phoebe's younger sister.

Shortly thereafter, Phoebe became pregnant and the ideal of "love making a family" changed to a very real life situation. Adding to the complexity, Phoebe did not have the support of most her family members back in England. Balancing this was the relocation of Hal's parents, Rob and Catherine, up the street to help the newly made family get through these early growing pains. A local pastor was also playing no small role in helping everyone adapt to the new living arrangement and family dynamic.

Pastor Jason had come into the lives of the Everett family seven months ago, when they had become involved in a large multi-church service project. Although he was not the pastor of their own church, working alongside members of the family as they rehabbed a home for a local family, he had helped them through a rough patch with both Phoebe, at that time Nanny, and her sister Trelawney. He had continued to help them throughout the school year, but eventually the whole family had come to rely on him for his wisdom and advice.

Pastor Jason had been away from town since February. He had been called to a synod meeting in Missouri, coincidentally while Uncle David Figalilly, their father's brother and now paterfamilias of the Figalillys, was visiting his two nieces. He was there to see how things were going first hand, concerned by the conflicting reports from previous family members who had visited, that something was amiss. This directly concerned him, because the younger sister, Trelawney Rose, was still under his aegis as family head.

Jason was sure that in the course of the three-week visit, he could not have avoided him. He had no doubt that the man would know him for who he was. This would have been potentially harmful to all of them. Once his true identity was disclosed, he would have to leave the area for good. The family still needed him.

He was sure that both the sisters' cousin Emmeline and Aunt Henrietta had told him of his presence in the lives of Phoebe and Trelawney. They knew that one such as him was there, but they did not know who he was. He was specifically there to guard Trelawney, but he was watching over Phoebe and her unborn daughter as well. He knew that Uncle David had left Trelawney where she was when he returned to England. Rob Everett would surely have sent him word if there were any danger of her leaving.

He was not surprised when first thing on Monday the phone rang and it was Catherine Everett calling to make an appointment. The Everetts had obviously learned a great deal about Phoebe and Trelawney from their uncle. No doubt they couldn't understand half of it. He was unsure of how much that he should tell her.

He supposed that it would be best to let her do the talking and try to figure out how much David had told them. He would then have to try to answer their questions without raising any more suspicions. He was in a tricky spot. The Everetts needed enough information to effectively care for the girls, but not enough to learn the true nature of their people.

Then his phone rang again and it was Phoebe. She also wanted to speak with him in person. He was immediately put on guard. Whatever had happened during the visit, they were both very confused and upset. He also knew that if Trelawney could, she would call him, but he expected that she presently was in school. Catherine sounded more confused than upset. Phoebe was more upset than confused. He needed to talk to a cooler head.

After he got off the phone with Phoebe, Catherine's husband Rob called, also looking for an appointment. Good, he thought, now I have my cooler head. As he was essentially the paterfamilias of the family and a man of noble character, excellent judgment, and sound gravitas, Jason knew that he could count on him for a more dispassionate view of the circumstances. It was not that the women were by any means overemotional. It was simply that Rob was better able to think from his head, rather than his heart.

He looked at his appointment book. Catherine, then Phoebe, then, Rob. After thinking for a moment after Rob's name he penciled in Trelawney. He would ask Catherine to bring her in after he had spoken with the adults. He knew that the other three were all coming in to speak primarily about her, so he might as well finish off his day with her.

He had a lot of work to catch up on for the church since he had been away for so long. But right now this was his most important work. It would require his singular focus for the day. No doubt he would spend the night in prayer looking for guidance. Angels don't have all the answers. But unlike most humans, they certainly know where to get them.

Trelawney's Thoughts

Trelawney had been most disappointed when her Uncle David had placed her in the care of her Mama Kate. Of course she loved Mama Kate very dearly. There was no one in the world that was quite like her Mama Kate. It seemed that God had taken everyone else away from poor Trelawney. Mum and Papa were with Him in heaven. Phoebe was down the street with the Professor. Even Emmeline was far away because Uncle David had told her to stay away. But Trelawney was not entirely alone. She still had her Mama Kate.

She was very good to her after Uncle David left. She told her that she didn't have to go to school. She would be allowed to stay home so that she could spend her days with her Phoebe. It was really quite astounding how her Mama Kate knew that that would cheer her up more than anything else.

She normally didn't like to think about herself. It was much easier to think about other people. That's what Mum had always taught her. She must think of others first. God had made her special. She was there to serve others. She understood things that most other people could not. Someday she would be like Phoebe and go out into the world and serve others.

But Papa said that Mum was foolish to fill her head with ideas of going out into the world. Those such as Trelawney, he said, were not meant to roam. They were meant to stay at home. The people in the outside world would not understand her. They might hurt her or take advantage of her. They might think that she was so odd that they would put her in a hospital and give her pills to make her "better." They would say that her lovely stories were delusions. Papa made it sound scary and he wanted to keep Trelawney safe always. The outside world could take care of itself.

It was really the only time that Mum and Papa ever disagreed. Except when Mum whistled. But really they didn't disagree about that. Papa would just go fishing. He didn't like it when she whistled. Mum told her a secret once about her whistling. She knew that it annoyed Papa, so whenever she had a fancy for fish, she whistled. Papa always brought home the loveliest and most delicious fish.

So that Papa could not figure out the secret, Mum taught her how to conceal her thoughts. She said that it was an important thing for her to learn. All Figalillys and Trelawneys could know what the others were thinking, if they wanted to. All of the Figalillys and Trelawneys were most curious about her thoughts, so she listened to Mum. She wasn't sure of exactly why they were so interested in her thoughts, but she figured that it was because she knew things that other people didn't know.

But now Mum and Papa were in heaven. Sometimes they smiled because Trelawney was happy. But sometimes they looked sad and worried. They didn't want Trelawney or Phoebe to be sad, but they were. They missed them. Mum and Papa were angels, but not angels like Pastor Jason. They were the kind of angels who stayed at home, in heaven. Pastor Jason was the kind of angel that roamed. He was a very good angel. He was like Phoebe. He wanted make the world a better place. But he was very special to her. He was her guardian angel.

Trelawney didn't know why he was picked. She did not have a guardian angel until Mum and Papa went to heaven and she went to Phoebe. Then, poor Phoebe was very sad because Mum and Papa went away. She was beginning to realize that she was in love with the Professor and that made her very, very sad because she thought that she could never marry him. But she was wrong.

She was so sad sometimes that she didn't have time for Trelawney. So Trelawney was all alone. She liked to curl up with her doll Tessa in a little ball and pretend that Mum and Papa were still there and she was home with them in the village. She wondered if her Mum and Papa had asked for an angel for her. It would be just like Papa to do that. He would know that Mum wanted her to be with Phoebe. But she knew that she couldn't stay with Phoebe unless she had an angel like Pastor Jason to look after her.

Perhaps God knew that without Pastor Jason one of them, Mum or Papa that is, would be very sad. But she didn't know that either. She could see Mum and Papa but she couldn't hear them speak. It was not allowed. She didn't understand why her Phoebe couldn't see them. But she supposed that it was one of the ways that she was different from Phoebe and all the others who lived in the village. And of course no one on the outside could see, except for Pastor Jason of course. Pastor Jason could see everything.

But since Uncle David left, she had spent more time with her Phoebe than she had in what felt like forever. Of course forever is a very long time, but it felt that way. Every day, after Butch and Prudence got on their bus to go to school, Phoebe came up to Mama Kate's to play with her. They played with the dollhouse house, just like they used to when Trelawney was little and Phoebe came home to visit.

Uncle David had very kindly brought the dollhouse to her from home. She knew that Mimsy and Tansy, who lived there, had missed them very, very much. Phoebe had been very sad when she saw that she had taken Mimsy out of the dollhouse after Uncle David left. She said that Tansy looked very lonely without her.

But Trelawney did not have to say anything about that. She looked at Phoebe and Phoebe knew that she was feeling like Tansy. When Trelawney couldn't find the words to say things, her dolls said them for her. Phoebe knew that. She made her put Mimsy back in the house and promised that someday they would live together again. It was one of their secrets.

The day that Uncle David left, Phoebe had come back to her. She said that she could feel the pain in her heart. She didn't even say goodbye to them at home. She just came. She sat in the rocking chair and let her cry. Phoebe cried a little too. Then Mum and Papa came in the sunbeam to warm them up. Even Phoebe knew it.

Trelawney stopped crying. She couldn't cry when Mum and Papa were there. They were there to make them happy. They couldn't make them really happy, but they could stop them from crying. The sunbeam was warm and it felt as though they were hugging them. Trelawney missed their real hugs, especially Mum's.

They spent the whole afternoon together. They talked and they talked about so many things. They talked about Mum and Papa. Phoebe told her stories about the times before she had been born. Trelawney told her stories about times when Phoebe was away. Sometimes they were the old stories that they liked to tell over and over again. Sometimes they were new stories that they had never told each other before. They were their stories. They belonged to them and no one else. They helped them feel like Mum and Papa were still with them. It would have been lovely if they had been living in the same house. But they weren't. It was not allowed.

Phoebe tried to tell her that the Professor really didn't want her to go away. But Trelawney knew she was wrong. Phoebe loved him so much that she didn't want to believe that Trelawney bothered him so much. Uncle David knew. Uncle David was truly her good uncle because he loved her enough to let her stay near her Phoebe. That's why he gave her to Mama Kate. When Uncle David was giving her away, Trelawney learned something. Nobody told her. She just knew it. God had sent her Mama Kate and Mr. Everett to her.

When Phoebe had married the Professor, it was because God was going to send her Maisie. So Phoebe must be concerned with Maisie. When Mums are pregnant and then when their babies are very tiny, they must give them all of their attention. She knew that because when Christabel had her little boy, she would go to her house and play with her little girl. Christabel had to be most concerned with little Davey. But there was lots of other family to help with her little girl, Libby. There was always someone there for her. That's the way that families were at home.

But here in America, there was no one to be concerned with Trelawney. The Everetts did not have a family like the Figalillys at home. At home the Figalillys all lived in the same village, except for those who roamed. In America, Everetts all lived in places far away from each other. And there were not very many of them at all.

The Professor only had two brothers who had never married and had no children. There were no other aunts or uncles or cousins that she had ever met. It was most peculiar. They didn't see each other very often. When people came to visit, they brought the children lots of presents. Trelawney liked the Figalillys better. They didn't need all those presents. They had each other.

So God decided that Mama Kate should come for the blessing and stay to take care of Trelawney. She knew that Mum would want someone to be concerned with her. It was only right. Trelawney now felt special because she had an angel and her Mama Kate. But she still felt that she would be luckier if she had her Mum and Papa. Now Mama Kate was taking care of Phoebe too. And the way that she took care of Phoebe meant that she was taking care of Maisie. That's because Mama Kate was truly good, like Mum. They both did things for other people.

Trelawney felt sad for all the people in the world who didn't believe in God, like her cousin Emmeline. Sometimes she thought that God had a sense of humor. When she knew that Emmeline was going to California to tell Phoebe about Mum and Papa, Trelawney prayed and prayed that she would take her with her. She also cried and cried. She refused to eat. She told them that if she couldn't be with her Phoebe then she wanted to be with her Mum and Papa. That made them scared. But she really meant it. She did not conceal her thoughts. She wanted her Phoebe or her Mum and Papa. And that was all there was to it.

Uncle David and all the Figalillys said that she should go to her Phoebe. They did not want her to go to her Mum and Papa. Emmeline promised that they would collect Phoebe and come directly back to England. But it didn't work out that way. Normally, Trelawney thought that it was very wrong when people broke their promises. But this time she was glad.

She knew that Phoebe had been very happy when she was able to stay with the Everetts, but she didn't know why. Trelawney knew why. She knew that it was because the Professor was going to save them from Phoebe's ex-fiancé. But that happened later. Now Cousin William was keeping him away so he could never come back to hurt them. Cousin William didn't believe in God either, but he was doing His work anyway. Yes, she thought, God certainly did have a sense of humor.

Grandfather Trelawney and all the Trelawneys said that she should stay home. They said that Trelawney really did not mean it when she said that she would go to her Mum and Papa. She was a bad girl and was trying to manipulate them so that she could get her way. He said that Mum had spoiled her because she was her only little girl after Phoebe went away to roam. They said that Emmeline was spoiled too. None of the Trelawneys really liked Emmeline. They said that she was a bad influence on Phoebe and Trelawney.

They said that they should send Phoebe a telegram and make her come home. Trelawney didn't know what a telegram was, but Emmeline explained that it was a piece of paper and Phoebe would read it all alone. She was very far away in America and would have a very, very long trip home. She would have to come all by herself. Emmeline didn't want that and neither did Trelawney. And it really didn't matter what Grandfather Trelawney thought. Now that Papa was gone, Uncle David was her paterfamilias. That was all that mattered.

Trelawney knew that everyone in the family thought that she was a little fey. Nobody told her, but they all thought it. They thought that she was a difficult child. Mum had always laughed when they said that she was difficult. She said that Trelawney was different, and different and difficult were not the same thing. That was why she and Papa had wanted her to be with Phoebe. Phoebe was like Mum. She thought that she was different, not difficult.

Auntie Anna said that since she had been left to Phoebe in the will, then she should go to Phoebe. But Trelawney knew that that was because Auntie Anna didn't want her to come to live with her. Uncle David did, but Auntie Anna said that that was because he didn't have to deal with her. He was in the shop all the time and too busy for her.

Trelawney was glad that she didn't want her. It meant that she got to go to her Phoebe. So God played a joke on Emmeline. He answered Trelawney's prayers by using Emmeline. Emmeline didn't know it, but she was doing God's work. Trelawney thought that maybe someday she would be saved. She hoped so. It was difficult to imagine that Emmeline would be an angel. Perhaps it would take many journeys for her to become one. She wanted Emmeline to be in heaven with them, even if they had to wait a very long time for her.

She was very glad that she was with her Phoebe in America and that Uncle David didn't take her away. She didn't think that he ever would. He was afraid to bring her home to Auntie Anna. Elspeth told her that they had a fight before he came to America. Elspeth had been Mum's dog but now she was Trelawney's. Uncle David had brought her all the way from England. Elspeth told her all about the family. It was funny how people forgot that dogs could listen to everything that they said. And Elspeth had an excellent memory.

So during that wonderful week, every day was spent with Phoebe while the children were at school and the Professor was at the university. They couldn't just play all day. That would have been a frivolous waste of time. Mum had taught them never to waste time. So they began to work on a layette together for Maisie. They knitted it with the softest most beautiful pink wool that Trelawney had ever seen. But it was a secret. Nobody was supposed to know that Maisie was a girl until she was born. They read books together. Trelawney told Phoebe that Maisie liked to hear the books that she read sometimes to Prudence.

Trelawney decided that she wanted to read the "Little House" books to Maisie. Mama Kate had given her those books for Christmas. They weren't hard to read, but Trelawney loved them anyway. They were real true American books about a family with four little girls who lived in the American West in the 1870's and 1880's. Trelawney loved the descriptions of all the wonderful places they went and clothes they wore and the food they ate and houses where they lived. They weren't rich, but they were happy in their lovely family. Trelawney wished for a family like that again. She hoped that Maisie's family would be like that. Maisie was going to be an American girl too.

So Phoebe sat in the rocking chair with her knitting and listened while Trelawney sat on the floor beside her and read. Elspeth also sat and listened. The family had a bulldog named Jack and she liked to hear those bits. Trelawney knew that Maisie liked the books very much also. But she didn't tell Phoebe because it troubled her that Trelawney knew what Maisie was thinking and feeling. Maisie liked music too, so sometimes Trelawney played the piano for her. Phoebe would lie resting on the couch and sometimes fall asleep. Maisie would sleep too.

Trelawney wasn't even sad when the other children came home. Hal brought home her work from her teachers. He even helped her learn her math and science. He was very kind to her now. His friend Topher had told him that she was special and needed their protection. Hal admired Topher very much and wanted to be like him.

Trelawney was glad because Topher was a very good person. He would teach Hal to be a very good person too. She knew that Uncle David had especially liked Hal because he promised to take care of both her and Phoebe. And nobody had asked him to take care of her. That is the way that good people are. They do good things without being asked.

Hal was a very good teacher as well. Mama Kate helped her with her English so that Mrs. Fountain wouldn't get mad at her. She never liked it when Trelawney talked about her ideas about the stories. She didn't need help with History and Spanish. She already knew all the History. She even knew more than the teacher, Mr. Burns. But he was nice about it and let her talk in class. It made the other kids mad because she knew so much. Spanish was too easy. Even Uncle David said it was a waste of time.

Trelawney liked doing her lessons at home. She asked Mama Kate if she could always do her lessons at home. Then she could spend her days with her Phoebe and no one would be jealous. When she spent her days with Phoebe she didn't have any nightmares. And she knew that she and Phoebe were safe in Mama Kate's house. She didn't know how she knew, but she knew. And Phoebe was happy too. And Maisie was happy. But she wasn't allowed to tell anyone.

On Sunday she couldn't go to church. That made her sad because she liked to go to church. She couldn't leave the house because she was supposed to be sick. Mama Kate was still going to keep her home on Monday. Pastor Jason was coming home and she wanted to talk to him. Trelawney hoped that he would say that she could do her lessons at home and spend her days with Phoebe. Over the weekend she missed her a little because they didn't have any time alone. She was sad but she didn't tell anyone but Elspeth. But she made Elspeth's promise not to tell Phoebe or Waldo because she didn't want Phoebe to feel bad.

When they all came over for dinner on Sunday night, she asked to please sit next to Phoebe when she sat on the couch. The Professor was kind and let Phoebe put her arm around her. That made her even happier. Curled up against Phoebe, she could feel Maisie thinking of her. She missed her too. But that was a secret even from Phoebe. She knew that Phoebe would be very sad if she knew that Maisie missed Trelawney. But there wasn't anything that she could do about it anyway. It was not allowed.

Trelawney liked to think and dream when there was no one else around. She liked to sit in front of her dollhouse and imagine that there was a Mum doll and Papa doll too. She wondered why Mum had only brought her Mimsy and Tansy. She supposed that now she would never know. She sighed. She knew that Mum had always said that she was like a butterfly lighting from flower to flower and never staying on one thought long enough to take hold. Trelawney liked being a butterfly. Sometimes the thoughts that took hold of her were dark and frightening. She liked to flit about in the sunlight. That was where she belonged.

Catherine's Questions

Catherine was relieved when she got off the phone with Pastor Jason. As usual, he had time to speak with her whenever she needed him. At this point she really needed him. She had reached a point where she was utterly baffled by her daughter-in-law, her sister, and their whole family of psychic relations. It was almost as if they lived in an alternative universe from the rest of them, almost, but certainly not entirely. Each night, she put the child to bed in her own home. She was quite definitely present in their world. It was her perception of reality that was so very different from her own.

Catherine was not sure of why or how, but clearly Pastor Jason understood them completely. Up until this point, she hadn't really had any reason to question his inside knowledge. However, now she was just as curious about him as she was about them. All three of them shared an innate goodness. They were loving, kind, and generous to fault. She supposed that many would see that as strange in today's world.

They were all very sensitive to those around them and often seemed to be able to read the thoughts of others. All the talk of their connection with the universal consciousness was very puzzling. Despite their mysterious nature however, there was nothing in their behavior that was not selfless and caring. The girls were very sweet and Pastor Jason was very gentle. Her anxiety was based on not being able to feel comfortable with their unknown aspects anymore.

As soon as she sat down, she opened her mouth to speak but realized that she didn't even know where to begin. Seeing her hesitate, Pastor Jason asked the first question.

"So overall, how would you say that the visit with David Figalilly went?"

"I'm not really sure," she replied honestly. "He is allowing Trelawney to stay here, but has placed her in our care. She may live with us until she returns to Phoebe or returns home to him. He will not challenge our guardianship for the time being. However, if he chooses to, if she does not return to Phoebe's custody, then he will eventually take her back to England. And the court will uphold the will and grant him custody."

"That's better than I imagined," said Pastor Jason thoughtfully. "I was afraid that he had already decided to take her back to the village. I knew that he would win any legal challenge than he set up against you and Rob. I am assuming that this arrangement is not meant to be permanent."

"No," replied Catherine. "It is not. He will be returning for the christening and I think reevaluating the situation then. The christening of course will not happen until the child is a couple of months old."

"Yes," he said. "Of course. I presume that he expressed his reservations about the current situation to you and has given you time to make adjustments."

"How did you know?" she asked suspiciously.

"It's a logical course of action for him to take," he explained. "No doubt he does not want to upset Phoebe further. It is not good for the baby. If he gives you some concrete things to work on, it will make Phoebe and Trelawney both feel better. David Figalilly is a good man. He loves his brother's children very much and wants to do what is best for them, and his great-niece. No doubt, he too is aware that the child is a girl."

"Yes," answered Catherine. "He is. But I can't tell for the life of me how he knows that. Or, for that matter, how he knows a lot of the other things he knows. He is a rather taciturn fellow and a great observer of those around him. He is an excellent listener. However, all of those qualities do not add up to being able to perceive all the kinds of things that he is able to perceive."

"And what might they be?" he asked casually.

"Well, first of all," she said. "He seems to know what people are thinking. But secondly, he was talking about seeing auras."

"Well that's not as unusual a thing as you might think," replied Pastor Jason. "There are many people, and not all of them are psychics who claim to see auras, especially in emotionally charged situations. It is not as difficult as you think."

"Okay," she replied. "Tell me. Have you ever heard of two people's auras merging?"

That stopped him dead. Catherine realized that she had told him something that he couldn't easily explain away. Now, she thought, maybe I'll start to get some real answers out of him.

"In what context did he claim to seeing two people's auras merging?" he asked carefully. Catherine suspected that he already knew the answer to the question.

"Two weeks ago we had a rather emotional time with Phoebe and Trelawney. Aunt Henrietta had been to dinner the night before and upset Phoebe badly. I had sent Trelawney over to the Tuckers for a sleepover, but she had a nightmare there anyway. She was worried about her sister," she told him.

"They had fallen asleep for a late afternoon nap and Phoebe came down to tell us that Trelawney had talked in her sleep about the nightmare. Then Trelawney came rushing downstairs when she realized that Phoebe was no longer with her. She was afraid that Phoebe was gone "forever." As she was comforting her, David said that their auras merged and they were strengthening each other. It was at that point that I think he decided that he would leave Trelawney here in America. However he didn't tell us that until he left a week later."

Catherine watched as Pastor Jason steepled his fingers as he always did when he was deep in thought. She knew that he would not question the fact that the auras had merged, however he also didn't seem to know what to make of the phenomenon. She knew now that he had never seen it himself, but he was also not surprised by what she told him. She supposed that the sisters were so close that it was in the realm of possibility as he saw it. Finally he spoke.

"I am sure that David told you that this is not a bad thing," he said slowly. "But it certainly is a serious matter. Did he say anything about the colors of the auras?"

"No, all he said was that Phoebe's stronger aura was strengthening Trelawney's weaker one," she replied. "He said that they strengthened each other. Does the color matter?"

"Well, yes," he said. "It's a pity he didn't mention it. It would help to understand exactly what they were feeling at that moment. I suspect that Phoebe's was green that is the color of healing. It is difficult to say what Trelawney's was. If David believed that Phoebe's was strengthening her sister's, then no doubt there was a color change as they merged and then again as the one strengthened the other. That can happen if one affects the other deeply. He must have been disturbed by what he saw."

"That is certainly the impression that I got from him," she said.

She was trying to be canny. She realized that he did not want to tell her anymore than he had to. He was a smart man however and would no doubt do his best to tell her as little as possible.

"The phenomenon of the merged auras is very rare. I am sure that he told you that," he said. "I know that the girls were raised in what one might call a co-dependent relationship. This is the first evidence that we have of how strong the bond is between them. The only closer human bonds that exist are the bonds between a mother and child as she is carrying her.

"This is an explanation that my premonition that the security of one depends on the other is correct. Believe it or not, it also explains Aunt Henrietta's premonition of their kismet being mutual. She is using this to claim that Trelawney brings danger to Phoebe. That is only if Trelawney herself is in danger. We have no proof of that. However, she is wrong to think that separating the girls would be safer for Phoebe. In fact, it is the worst thing that could be done at this point."

"Basically, you have just reaffirmed what David told us," she replied. "He wants to keep them together until the child is safely born and then he is hoping that the separation would be less traumatic, at least for Phoebe. But he really thinks that the girls should live together."

"In a perfect world they would," answered Pastor Jason lightly. "But the world isn't perfect. Hal is not ready to accept the place of Trelawney in his wife's life. She makes him uncomfortable. This is very stressful for Phoebe who is feeling caught in the middle, between her love for her husband and her love for her sister. That's why I felt that it was important to move Trelawney out. She instinctively, but not consciously, knows that she troubles him. She also knows that this troubles Phoebe.

"It's why she was wasting away last year, trying to disappear, as Emmeline said. She did not want to come between them, but she could not think of any action to take. In the end, it appears that she took a form of passive aggression against herself. It was Emmeline who helped me realize it before she left. I am presuming that she is stronger now, or David would have taken issue with her health."

"Well," commented Catherine. "She consciously knows how Hal feels now. That's what she told me after David left and had commended her into our custody. She was heartbroken. She had been hoping that he would issue an ultimatum that would have sent her back to Phoebe. Phoebe knew it and returned to the house to comfort her. Hal was confused of course, and followed her back. But I sent him home. Phoebe needed to be with her sister and he needed to take care of the other children. He is not very good at that."

"You did well," he replied. "Hal needs to get better at taking care of the older children. When the baby is born he will need to take on more of that responsibility so that Phoebe can focus on her infant. He will also have to acknowledge his feelings about Trelawney and get over them. If David saw their auras merge once, I am sure that it will happen again. They need to have more time alone together. When I left a month ago, I was very troubled by the situation that I saw developing. It is not healthy for either of them."

"Which two of the two are you talking about?" asked Catherine a bit testily because of his evasive speech. "Hal and Phoebe? Trelawney and Phoebe? Trelawney and Hal? It seems to me that the situation isn't healthy for any of them. I also don't think that it is fair to lay the blame entirely with Hal."

"Why is that?" asked Pastor Jason with interest.

"When Phoebe married Hal, she withheld a lot of information about herself," she replied. "Hal was put in a position by some of her family members where he was expected to accept her as she was without fully understanding who and what she was. It is not very surprising that he should find some of the new things that he is learning a little hard to swallow. Especially where Trelawney is concerned."

"That's fair to say," he admitted. "But Trelawney was a part of the deal, so to speak, and he knew that. He also knew that she was a very troubled child. Unfortunately it's a little late in the game to be experiencing 'buyer's remorse' you might say."

"Oh, I'll grant you that any adolescent girl is going to be difficult to live with," she answered. "However she has unique issues that are related to some of the common differences that both she and Phoebe share with what seems to be with the rest of the world. And those are the differences that he didn't know about. For a mathematician, it's not an easy paradigm to work with in any case. There are also many things about who they are that cannot be logically explained."

Pastor Jason looked at her as though he was having some kind of internal debate. He knew that she was right, but he clearly did not want to divulge too much information. Of course this only made her more curious.

"David had several conversations with Rob and I about Phoebe and Trelawney and at several points he admitted that he was telling us more than he normally would tell 'an outsider.' However he never told us exactly what we were outside of," she stated hoping to get more answers.

"From the Figalilly and any other family in their village's perspective, anyone who not from the village is an outsider," explained Pastor Jason. "Now I know that that seems like an obvious definition, but it is essentially true. As you have surmised, it is a fairly insular culture. Their lives are simple. For the most part they are kind and generous people. But naturally, every group has its outliers, and this one does as well."

"Would an outlier be someone like Aunt Henrietta?" asked Catherine.

"Yes, it would," he replied. "But there are outliers on the other end of the spectrum as well. Trelawney and Phoebe are good examples."

"Also, Trelawney has told us that some like to roam and some like to stay at home," added Catherine.

"Yes," answered Pastor Jason. "Phoebe was most certainly a roamer, so to speak. That changed when she fell in love with and married Hal. It is not as unusual as you might think, even though her family has taken it very hard. Phoebe's situation is unusual by virtue of the fact that she left someone behind whom she had promised to care for. Within the mores of their culture, that relationship should have come first.

"If someone marries outside the village it is expected that they will stay there and not return except for the occasional visit. A special child like Trelawney, but really any other child as well, is always raised in the village. Phoebe trusted Hal to help protect her in the outside world. She knew that she could not do that alone. He was doing a very good job of it too, until things got too hard."

"So far, you have not told me anything that I didn't already know or surmise. And David did a very good jump of hammering home the last point, much to Hal's discomfort," said Catherine. "But what I really want to know is what kind of people these are. They seem to know what others are thinking. They also seem to be able to predict the future or know what will happen. Trelawney seems to talk to angels and dogs."

"Trelawney does not talk to angels," replied Pastor Jason firmly. "She has never had a conversation with her parents since they have passed away. She is able to discern their emotions, but there is no direct communication. She also does not really predict anything or know what people are thinking by reading their minds.

"Trelawney is highly intuitive. Like her sister and uncle, she observes those around her carefully and reads cues in their body language and facial expressions. Doubtless she too sees auras. What appear to be predictions are really a genuine prescience, a great sensitivity to the universal consciousness and the intrinsic nature of those she encounters.

"She does not cognitively know anything. What she knows comes through in feelings and dreams. The simplicity of her mind and her disinterest in the material world give her mind the freedom to discern this. But it is a burden as much as it is a gift. Especially for one so young."

Catherine was silent. Once again, Pastor Jason did not tell her anything that she didn't already know. However, he was helping her to put some of the pieces together.

"Okay, so you're going to keep avoiding directly answering my questions," she said. "But if Rob and I are going to protect Trelawney there is something that we really need to know. Who or what are we protecting her from?"

Once again, Pastor Jason was silent. As she watched him, Catherine realized that he was not merely thinking, he was praying. It was obvious that even he needed guidance. Being a pastor, it was the most logical thing in the world that he would turn to God. Finally, he spoke.

"As you know, there are both forces of light and forces of darkness in the universe. The metaphors of light for goodness and darkness for evil are not imaginary constructions. We see them across cultures and across time," he replied. "There is, has always been, and will always be a constant tension between them. Some people, such as Trelawney are more sensitive to this tension than others. Others, such as Phoebe, are stronger, and in their own way wage war against the darkness.

"Very often, people who do not know better, misconstrue the darkness in terms of very dramatic evil and destructive forces. However, much of the darkness is more insidious. It works by destroying those who are good, strong families, solid community life, and moral values. The list is endless. Phoebe's personal mission was to set the world to rights one family at a time. I believe that she has told you that. She had chosen to use her special gifts to set the world to rights at what we might call a 'micro-level.' She was very effective at this.

"This mission is presently evolving to meet its new circumstances. Eventually, she will become further involved in this community and work to make it a better place. She will be a role model for others and inspire them to do good works. But I am not predicting the future when I say this. I am simply looking at this woman, how she has lived her life before and seeing its natural progression to its next phase."

"I guess that makes sense," said Catherine slowly. "But what about Trelawney?"

"Trelawney is very different," he answered. "She is highly sensitive and intuitive. She feels things too deeply. Her goodness is a handicap to her. She is easily hurt. She seeks comfort in those whom she senses are good. And what she senses, she really knows. Her perceptions are often reality. She does not have many defenses against the darker forces in the world. That is why she retreats into her fantasy world. I am guessing that while David was here, she never mentioned it."

"No, she didn't," replied Catherine. "I assumed that she was on her best behavior."

"Not really," he said mildly. "Did you ever get any sense that she either didn't trust him or feared him? And I don't just mean as her paterfamilias whom she had to obey. Did she fear him as an authority figure?"

"No," admitted Catherine. "Phoebe did, but not Trelawney."

"Trelawney's trust in David is absolute. She sees him as a force for good," he explained. "Owen Figalilly was also a very good man. The brothers were close and took care of one another. Phoebe's trepidation where he was concerned came mostly from her own guilty conscience. She was afraid that he would confront her with her mistakes regarding her responsibility to Trelawney. Did he?"

"Not directly to her," replied Catherine. "But he told us as much. But he also intimated that he did not have to. She was very well aware of her shortcomings in this area. He made it clear that it was he who was allowing Trelawney to stay. He has the power to take her away now, but he is choosing to leave the door open for Phoebe to regain custody."

Pastor Jason smiled.

"There is your proof that he is a very good man and he loves both girls very much," he said. "He must place a great deal of trust in you and Rob. If the child is his goddaughter, she is very special to him. Owen and Meg knew what they were doing when they made him her godfather. In their culture, godparents have a real responsibility in the physical protection and moral upbringing of the child. Their role in their lives is not purely ceremonial as it is here."

Catherine thought for a moment. She still didn't fully understand the girls, but she knew that she needed to move on.

"David has asked that we look into a private school for Trelawney," she said. "He spent a day with her at school and said that he didn't like the feeling there or that she relies so much on Francine and Sarah."

"That's probably not a bad idea," he replied. "She would probably do well in a religious school, especially one where solid, Christian values are up held. I also think that an all-girls school would be a good option. There are several in the area. You might look at Our Lady of Mercy Academy.

"It's a Catholic school so there is a possibility that Mrs. Fowler may be interested in sending Francine there as well. The academic standards are very high and it has an excellent program in the arts. Both girls would thrive there academically and socially. They would also have much more personal attention than they would get in a public school."

"That sounds like a good possibility," she answered. "I am not sure that the religious affiliation makes a big difference. But I am concerned about how she can finish out the school year now. I have kept her at home for the past week and we've been teaching her ourselves. In fact, she is home right now. She and Phoebe spend their days together and then she does her schoolwork later. I've been calling her in sick, but that means that she can't go to church or her activities."

"Well that's not good," he said, but then quickly amended, "I mean that it is not good that she can't do the things that she loves. I doubt that she is missing much by not attending school. You should see about putting her on a home study program for the rest of the year. You are a certified teacher, I assume?"

"Yes, I am," she said. "But I'm not qualified to teach her math and science."

"Rob's a retired engineer," he said. "He can help her. I really think that you should explore the possibility. It would be good for her and Phoebe to have all that time alone."

"Because of the merged auras?" she asked.

"I knew that we would come back to that," he said smiling. "Yes, that and a few other reasons. Phoebe and Trelawney are very close in mind and heart. They benefit from their time alone together. They both need it."

"I can see that," she said. "It has also gone a long way towards easing the tension with the rest of the family."

"I'm sure that it has," he replied. "In some ways they all really needed this 'time out' so to speak, so that they could begin to work on some of their own issues. It's not just Trelawney who has relational problems. Before Phoebe came, the dynamic in the home was not good. Her work in this area was not finished before her own tragedy struck.

"Hal was only beginning to realize the role that he needed to take in his children's lives was being more than just the financial provider. All three children, each in their own way, is still trying to come to grips with the loss of their mother and the previous neglect of their father. Hal is the farthest along, but that's because he remembers her best. It has been easiest for him to confront his feelings and move on. He is quite an extraordinary young man. He has learned a great deal about being a good big brother from Topher.

"Butch and Prudence may not have conscious memories of their mother, but we need to remember that she did carry them each for nine months and then care for them through infancy. They lost that powerful bond very young. They are still healing. They are lucky they have Phoebe to love them so much.

"I know that there is resentment against Trelawney, but that is an expression of sibling rivalry and anxiety about what will happen to them when the baby is born. It's easier to direct their jealousy towards Trelawney since she is present. She's also an easier target than an unborn child that they know everyone is eagerly awaiting. It's perfectly natural."

"What about my son Hal and his relationship with Trelawney?" she asked.

"Well, he's a 'work in progress' so to speak, also," said Pastor Jason with a smile. "He has a very busy career and has always had problems juggling work and family. He is still trying to figure out how to relate to his own kids. Remember that it was Phoebe who brought them together again, but she also never fully stepped back from her role in that process. Hal has gotten better, but he still blows his stack on occasion. And he does not have enough time for the children. Deep down he is very fond of Trelawney, but she became one too many personality to deal with on a daily basis right now. Phoebe's pregnancy is also making him feel pressured to find more family time."

"So basically what you are telling me is that he is overwhelmed?" she asked.

"Yes, that's it in a nutshell," he replied. "He really needs to figure out how to balance his commitments. Periodically he comes up for air from his job and focuses on his family, but the bulk of his attention is on his career. Today it is Trelawney who is lost in the shuffle. Think about when the baby comes and she is absorbing most of Phoebe's attention, and of course, his. He needs to think about how he will make sure that the other children get the attention that they will need. I suspect that there will be issues with Prudence next. She is very needy."

"There already are. We are all trying to work with her to help her accept that she will no longer be the focus of Phoebe's attention. But what about Hal, what can we do to help him?" asked Catherine.

"You need to start talking with him about it now. Don't let him put it off," he said. "The answers will not come overnight. There is going to have to be serious thinking and talking. And the kids need to be included in the discussions. Any worries that they are having now are magnified by that fact that they are not expressing them. Instead of telling them how they should feel, ask them to tell you how they are feeling. And don't judge it."

"But what if they act out?" she asked. "This is happening even now."

"Always address inappropriate behavior when it happens. Do it quickly and move on. But don't miss these opportunities to teach them what your expectations are," he replied. "Kids push boundaries because they want boundaries. It shows them that you care when you take the time to discuss their behavior rather than just saying 'don't do that because I said so.'"

"You're right of course," she said. "I suppose that I should go home and start working on the home study idea. I don't even have to ask Phoebe and Trelawney how they feel about it. Anything that gives them more time with less friction with the rest of the family will make them happier."

"And that will make the others happier," he added. "If we are going to move things in a direction where they are able to live together as one family again, then they all have to be happy. It's not going to be easy, but it's not impossible either."

"Thank you, pastor," she said. "I appreciate your time."

"Any time," he said with a smile. "I would also like to speak with Trelawney today. Could you bring her in around five?"

"Of course," she replied. "I believe that you are speaking to Rob before that."

"And Phoebe," he admitted. "I have a lot of catching up to do. I think that it's better for me to start right away. It will help you all to move forward."

As Catherine walked out to the car, she realized that he hadn't answered half of her questions about Phoebe, Trelawney, and their family. However, he had given her some very practical advice and good ideas to work with. She realized that maybe she had come to him with the wrong questions. Still, he had given her the answers that she needed to act so that she could begin to help the whole family and not just Trelawney.

Oddly, she felt a pang of regret at the thought that eventually the girl would leave her home and return to her sister. One of the bright spots in the present dilemma was the charming little girl with the big blue eyes and bright blonde curls. In many ways she was the eye of the storm of human conflicts and emotions swirling around her. Her mind was simple, but so were her needs and emotions. She loved the good, feared the bad, and avoided what she could not understand.

She never meant to cause trouble, but like the eye of a hurricane, her mere presence was the cause of the chaos around her. It was difficult to imagine her growing up and being capable of caring for herself. However, someday she intended to have a sit down with Pastor Jason and grill him about this whole clan of mysterious psychics. Just because he had not answered her questions today, did not mean that she would stop asking them tomorrow.

To be continued . . .