All tolled there were eleven people at the Cabin when Angel arrived. Partner, Reporter, Guy, Man and Pimp Dealer were dead. Do-Good and Lover were injured. Twin, Niecy, Son and Daughter hadn’t been hurt physically but emotionally and psychologically they were far from OK.
Angel looked around at the carnage. He felt his stomach roll but, along with the children, had only one thing on his mind. Lover.
He saw him lying on the floor wounded and bleeding, surrounded by Twin and the kids. He quickly checked them before moving them over and out of the way so the Paramedics could reach Lover. Once he saw that they were tending to him, Lover looked at Angel with the same Forever Love as always, signaling that he was OK. It was only after that when Lover allowed himself to pass out.
Angel, terrified and praying, watched as the paramedics leaned over to listen for Lover’s heart. When they announced that Lover was alive but unconscious and prepared him for the ambulance, he turned all of his attention to the children.
They were clearly in shock. He’d brought some blankets from the paramedics and the police to cover them against the blood and death and led them upstairs and outside to where Therapist was waiting for them. Twin came, too, repeatedly telling Niecy how proud she was of her, how scared she’d been for her and that she was going to have to talk with her about sneaking away from the Mansion.
In between their crying and relief, Son and Daughter were sensing each other about how Starlight was there now but how terrified they’d both been. Angel knew their shock was going to wear off quickly and the aftermath of the violence would take its place. He knew the entire family would all need counseling to recover, including him. Exec might need some, too, having been betrayed by Partner and as worried about everyone as … everyone.
Do-Good posed a problem. While, yes, he had served as hitman for the Crew, he’d also reserved his particular “talent” for murderers who were on Most Wanted lists around the country. And, as he’d said, he’d never killed women or children. Plus he’d been so helpful, at great risk, to Lil Bro and Sis when they needed to get away from Pimp Dealer in New Orleans by arranging their travel and safe places in Houston. He’d just saved Twin’s, Lover’s and the children’s lives, too.
There was just that killing, no matter who it is, is wrong, at least in some circumstances. The courts decided that, although he’d done some good things, he had to go to prison. Do-Good understood. Yeah, there were Crew members in prison who had remained faithful to Pimp Dealer when he was alive but, if you really asked, nobody was sad that he was gone. Some people, like the Warden, were even happy about it.
It was a very long time before any real progress was made. Lover spent months in the hospital and vocal rehab to get back as much of his voice as he could. He was lucky that his vocal chords had only been singed and not shredded by the bullet. The first word he said was to Angel.
Angel burst into tears, holding and kissing Lover’s hands and whispering, “Whatever you want, whatever you want” while silently thanking the One Forever Present for Its caring and mercy. Now he knew there was Something beyond what he could see. Lover smiled.
All of the children were traumatized. All of them had nightmares about that awful day. Daughter never felt safe anymore, sometimes even at home and surrounded by family and friends and new Security guards. She had additional help from Son who made sure, despite his own challenges, to stay in touch with her almost constantly. He wanted her to know that she was never alone.
In truth, he needed that reassurance, too. His recovery from the trauma was more aggressive, more violent and hurtful than Daughter’s. Starlight was good at being there for him, even at those times when he screamed at her for letting it all happen in the first place, for not stopping it. She understood and, as she had when he was a baby, softly explained to his soul what the purpose was and her inability to stop it. It was she who had taught Son’s father, Angel, to trust love. She was honored to be able to do that for both his Son and his Daughter.
Niecy’s recovery was complicated. Yes, she’d been proactive. She’d had a weapon and been on a mission. She hadn’t been held in the cellar. But she had killed a man and was still fighting the flashbacks from her life in Prince George’s County as well.
Discovering that Pimp Dealer was her father and seeing him again had brought all of those horrific memories back. Plus she had to deal with the courts. Eventually it was decided that no charges would be brought against the little girl because she’d saved the lives of her Mommie, Uncle Lover and her sibling cousins. It was self-defense because they knew Pimp Dealer would have killed her, too.
But Niecy also had to deal with Mommie knowing about Pimp Dealer and not protecting her from the sexual abuse she’d suffered at his hands and those of his friends. No matter how hard Mommie tried, Niecy would never completely trust her again. She’d have trouble trusting others, too, even herself.
Angel took it upon himself to assume Lover’s role of caregiver for the entire family, arranging the schedules of therapy appointments and other activities for the children and taking care of the house. He cancelled all of his performances and writing and recording sessions. Everybody in the industry, and new and old fans around the world, understood. And like Lover, Angel found meeting the needs of everyone else an easy way out from dealing with his own feelings. When Therapist helped him realize that, of course he denied it. It didn’t take long, though, for her to have him emotionally cleansing on more than one occasion, just like everyone else.
It helped that Lover was recovering well from the gunshot but it was a dilemma for Angel that he’d gone to Lover first before tending to the children. Therapist told him that was a hard choice to make but there were blessings and challenges no matter which choice he’d made. In this case, on the one hand he’d modeled for them how a loving partner behaves. On the other, they’d had to wait for him to pay them the attention they needed. They’d told him they’d understood, though, because Papa was the one who’d been shot. After a while, they finally convinced him that, still, he could trust them and their love. It was Starlight’s lesson all over again.
Twin also was recovering. She felt guilty for all those years she’d held that grudge against Lover, for staying with Pimp Dealer, for being unable to protect Niecy, for bringing Pimp Dealer back into their lives. As soon as he could, Lover wrote her another letter, telling her again that he loved her and how happy he was that they were together. He insisted that she believe that. His first spoken word to her was “love.” Like Angel she, too, burst into tears of gratitude. But, despite Lover’s forgiveness, she worried about maintaining her sobriety and upped her NA and AA groups to daily for each. It helped her and Niecy.
Exec was recovering, too, from what had happened to his dear friend Lover and his family, and Partner’s betrayal. Someone unexpected was helping him. Of all people it was the Computer Wiz, who’d proven his loyalty to Angel, Lover and Starlight more than once. He’d been the one to help Angel find Starlight in the beginning. He was the one who’d retrieved that last letter Starlight had written to Angel from her computer. And then he’d figured out a way to track Reporter’s phone calls to Producer who, by the way, had lost his job. He hadn’t technically done anything illegal (except being a cokehead) and he was just too close to the bad men.
Everyone was where they were supposed to be, even Starlight, who went back to being beautiful mountain sunsets, the Orion Nebula and dancing on Saturn’s rings.
Tomorrow in “Promises of Starlight”: Starlight sends Lover “home” to Angel