Kindle edition- Free from 4/22 - 4/25
by Toni DeMaio
Publisher Heart Prints Press
Kindle edition- Free from 4/22 - 4/25
If you're a fan of Debbie Macomber's Mrs. Miracle series, you'll love Friends in High Places with all five-star reviews on amazon! When model Angelica Donovan begins her first assignment as an Angel-in-training she knows it won't be easy. Her biggest challenge will be to help her mom and her sister find the true love she never found on earth while trying desperately to save the Rossi kids from a real life bogeyman who will stop at nothing to get his revenge on everyone Angel loves.
I've discovered one of the fascinating things about dying is that in that instant when you transition, when all the things that never really mattered fall away, you're faced with the basic truth of your life. Did you love enough when you had the chance? Did you treat others as you wished to be treated? And did you honor the gift of your life?
I was facing my thirty-fifth birthday when the end came and my heart stopped in my sleep. You might wonder why I died at such a young age and the truth is for many years I hadn't had a strong commitment to life. I let it slip away.
When I was a little girl something terrible happened to me. It was evil and confusing and I was never able to fully get over it. This would surprise a lot of people because to the outside world I was living the American Dream. And I always made sure I flashed a dazzling smile to the world...and I mean the whole world. Everyone knew the name, Angelica Donovan.
As one of the more successful former winners of that T.V. show, Our Next Super Model, that smile had won me an extravagant lifestyle. At only nineteen, I dropped out of college and the fashion world ate me up, taking big bites out of my heart and soul. I became used to being perceived as a human clothes hanger, a commodity.
I grew numb and hard inside and because of the terrible thing that had happened to me I was afraid to return love or to trust it could be mine. I was considered one of the most beautiful women in New York yet I never married nor had a child...by my own choice.
We never really know what to expect at the moment of our death but when it was my turn to go, I expected I'd see St. Peter, some pearly gates, and at the very least a trio of Angels singing. Instead, on the morning I woke up 'dead,' I simply popped outside of my body exactly as if I'd been yanked up in the air and dumped on the floor.
One moment I'd been asleep in my penthouse apartment, and then bam! I was out of my body and more awake and aware than ever before. But the room was strangely bright and when I looked up at where the ceiling used to be it was completely open and radiating a beautiful, shimmering light.
Chapter 7. - Kat
Then Gino insisted on walking me out to my car even though there was practically a zero crime rate in our little town beyond the occasional drunk driver or mischievous teenager.
As we walked to my car, Gino slowed his steps and matched his pace to mine. "I had fun tonight, Kat."
I swallowed hard, afraid I wouldn't be able to speak in a normal tone. "Me, too," I said, "You have great kids."
We were at the car, and immediately, he stepped closer to me and took my hand. My heart was pounding so hard I was afraid he'd notice how fast I was suddenly breathing.
His eyes were shaded by the dark shadows and when he spoke his voice felt like a caress. "I'm glad you like Tori and Anthony, and I'm surprised by how much they both like you."
He dropped my hand and leaned back against the car. "I knew Anthony would be crazy about you, but Tori's dead-set against me having a life."
I put my hand on his shoulder before I could stop myself. "I don't think it's that she doesn't want you to be happy. I think its more that she's still grieving for her mom and she can't imagine you with anyone else. Remember when we were that age how grossed out we were by our parents even holding hands?"
He laughed. "Yeah, I do. I know that's part of it but I want you to know I'd like to see more of you, Kat. It's just that I'm confused because I can see Tori does like you and if we move too fast we could ruin what might be able to develop between all of us in the future."
Now my heart did a huge leap up into my throat and in my excitement I made a huge mistake. "I completely understand, Gino," I said, "I wouldn't want to do anything to cause Tori any anxiety or unhappiness. But I would love to get to know you and both of the children better. So I hope you'll all accept me...as a friend." As soon as I said it, I regretted it. I'd just put myself in the friend zone and that wasn't at all what I really wanted.
"I'm so glad you understand, Kat. You're really an amazing woman" His voice was so grateful it just made me feel worse. Was he relieved I was so willing to jump into the friend zone?
In the awkward siilence that followed, I stared down at the leaves all around our feet, not knowing what to say, and then Gino moved even closer and he lifted my face toward his and then, very gently, he kissed my forehead before turning and hurrying back up the path to the house. "I just didnt want you to get the wrong idea," he said, "We'll see you Saturday!"
"I'm looking forward to it!" I called out, watching him leap up the steps and hurry back into the house. And then I got in my car and, with shaky hands, started it and began the short drive home, more condused than I'd ever been.
I wondered which wrong idea he'd been hinting at. Was it the wrong idea that he wanted to be with me but was taking his time in developing our relationship because of Tori's attitude, and was it the right idea that he was most comfortable remaining friends?
He'd mentioned the possibility of a future relationship with him and his children, but then he was so relieved when I understood he couldn't really date now: so much so it didn't seem as if he did want the kind of relationship with me I was secretly hoping he did.
And then the kiss had been wonderful and disappointing all at the same time. I'd always thought that when a man was attracted to you, he kissed you on the lips even if it was just a peck.
Maybe the truth was that he liked me as he said he did and was glad I had connected with his children, but he really wasn't ready to move on yet and fall in love again. Maybe that had more to do with him than it did Tori. Just maybe she provided a welcome excuse not to move on with his life.
As I pulled up to my little cottage, I was relieved to see I hadn't forgotten to leave the porch light on and as as I knew he would be, my gray cat, Charlie, was sitting at attention on the windowsill waiting for me to return.
The night was growing chiller by the moment and I was glad to be back home and hugging my cat. Charlie purred, then scolded me as he always did when I went out at night and made him worry something might have happened to me. He was definitely my cat-husband.
I couldn't wait until morning when I could call Lilly to thank you for having us all over this evening and to see what she thought about Gino's speech and his friendly kiss on my forehead. I knew she'd make me feel better about it, but I was already beginning to lower my expectations. Strangely if I had to choose between a romance with Gino that would alienate Tori and a beautiful rewarding relationship with his entire little family, I think I would have to choose the friendship.
I picked up my sketch pad and began to draw. I had an idea growing and taking form for a new tea-set design. I sketched quickly from memory. A little girl with bright red hair sat beside the sea surrounded by her cat friends and a little dark-haired brother. Dressed in Victorian bathing costumes, they all sat on a colorful blanket together on the sand, sipping their tea from graceful shells. My mind raced with different scenes, and a graceful design for the pot and sugar bowl...each with a different shell on top of the lid. Gino would love this...It would make the perfect Christmas gift for all three of them; a little piece of my heart and an offer of friendship.
The fire crackled and Charlie settled into his warm bed on the hearth and suddenly I wished there was phone service in Heaven. I would have loved to be able to talk to my sister, Angel. She was always good at interpreting situations and solving other people's problems.
Chapter 14 - Kat
We left Mom and Brian Sr. to their wild ping-pong game with the Rossi kids and I followed Brian Jr. outside to the front porch. The night was cool and bright. The lights around the house and along the walk to the parking area beamed soft light on the gorgeous autum leaves moving gently among the many tall trees Mom has growing on her rolling front lawn. It was getting nippy out and I was glad I'd grabbed a sweater. He helped me put it on.
"Thanks," I said, "Now what did you want to tell me? I'm curious."
He moved closer. Uh-oh! I thought. This isn't what I'd expected.
His eyes were sky-blue and vulnerable under the porch light. "Kat," he began, while I waited with growing apprehension, "my dad told me on the way over here that you asked your mom to tell him you think it's time we stopped double dating with our parents and I want you to know I understand completely where you're coming from and I totally agree."
I didn't realize I was holding my breath until I tried to speak, "Thank God we're on the same page, Brian!" I squeaked out, "I think you're a great guy. Don't get me wrong, but..."
He laughed, stopping me in mid-sentence. "No buts are necessary, Kat, I've got it right. Don't you know how much I want to hang-out with you, too? I feel close to you, Kat, like I can open up and relax around you. Most of my friends from high school have either left the area or they're busy with families of their own and it's been lonely. I'm relieved you feel the same way I do!"
I was speechless and a little numb as Brian moved with his usual speed and precision and before I could protest he'd swept me into his arms for a big hug, nearly knocking the breath out of me!
I wondered how close he'd want to get...did he want my friendship, or something more? I didn't want to hurt his feelings by over-reacting, and before I could try to gently pull away, terrified he'd kiss me: Gino bounded up the stairs carrying a huge take-out tray from Mama Maria's and a bouquet of gorgeous sunflowers, startling us both in that awkward moment.
I spotted him around the side of Brian's huge arm and pushed at his chest, spinning away from him, "Gino!" I practically shouted.
"Hey, Buddy!" Brian said with his ready grin, "We think alike. Dad and I brought some KFC over so these two ladies wouldn't have to cook for that gang tonight."
Gino looked shaken, and my heart felt the blow as his eyes confirmed how disappointed he was in me. Then it dawned on me. Since Brian's big strong back was turned toward him when he was bear-hugging me, Gino may well have thought he'd interrupted a kiss.
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Toni DeMaio, spiritual psychic, author, and Reiki Master lives in Katy, Texas. Her earliest career was in professional theater and musical theater across the east coast, as well as in Jazz/Cabaret, singing at various venues in the New York Metropolitan area. She spent years in advertising and also studied with the well-known spiritual medium, Marianne Michaels, in order to be able to understand and control her psychic abilities as well as her visits from departed spirits. She is a spiritual psychic appearing on Psychic Tapestry Presents The Love Show, on BlogTalkRadio, every Friday. The show is heard around the world and concentrates on connecting live callers to the messages their guides and Angels want most for them to hear. She has been authenticated by The Edgar Cayce Center, Houston, Tx., where she has appeared numerous times, giving psychic readings to the public. She is also the facilitator for the Unity Houston Reiki Circle. Friends In High Places is her fourth book. It is based on her late daughter, Samantha’s adventures on the other side as a spirit guide. Her three previously published novels are now being re-packaged and offered through Heart Prints Press, where a portion of each book sale is donated to the charity of the author’s choice. To connect with Toni and find out about upcoming book releases go to her Face Book pages; Toni DeMaio Reynolds, Toni DeMaio Psychic Author, and I’ll Know You By Your Heart. She offers private psychic phone readings on her website which also covers information about her books and her Reiki practice. Website: ToniDeMaio.com Twitter connection: @DeMaioToni Instagram: tonijdemaio