Plans to Give You a Hope and a Future
As the plane landed in Ireland, Mark English’s words at the Safe Haven ran through Rachel’s mind, “You were all called for a reason. You were called to fight the good fight for the Kingdom. This is not a position that will land you with fame and fortune. You’ll never be on television, nor will you be a startling success in the eyes of the world. You will not lead a normal life in this job. You will operate in the shadows. But, you will receive blessings beyond measure for what you do. There’s a new army rising up all over this world – The Lord’s Army. You are all a part of this. Your job is to bring those into this to help others. The Spirit has given you an assignment. You are to free those who are bound in spiritual chains. You will help provide what is needed for those who are His. You will fight some literal battles, as well as spiritual ones. You will literally take on the gates of Hell. I will caution you in this, and I pray you heed my warning. Do not underestimate the other side. Don’t think for a moment that Black Rock was a victory. You may have woken a sleeping giant when you attacked the den. They will be waiting around every corner. They will do their best to stop whatever it is that the Lord God Almighty wants you to do. This will be a race for lives, while trying to stay alive yourselves. The rewards will be great, but the cost will be tremendous. Amber and Terrik have already paid a portion of the price. There will be many people you will meet along the way. Sometimes you will get there in time to help. Sometimes you will not. Know whatever you choose on this day, there will be no turning back. If you choose to go, you are potentially volunteering for your death. You will be marked. Satan would like nothing better than to take you out. He has had a lot of time to study you. He knows you better than you know yourself. Having said all of that, I feel each of you are here for a purpose. I feel you were each brought here for such a time as this. The Kingdom needs you. They need your training and expertise. You have been called. What is your answer?”
“Here am I. Send me,” the group said in unison.
“Then, here are your tickets,” he said handing Angel and Rachel their team’s tickets, “The Lord reminds us in Luke 10:2 that, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.’ You are part of those workers. You leave in the morning. Get a good night’s sleep. You’re going to need it.”
* * *
Knowing it was an encouragement, as much as a warning, Rachel held those words close to her heart as the tired and groggy team trudged over to claim their baggage at the airport in Cork, Ireland, before picking up the van they’d rented. Once everyone was loaded in the van, they headed to their hotel. Rachel, who was team lead, had chosen a hotel away from the airport. It was near a river on two main crossroads. Using those landmarks, she knew it would be easy to find the hotel, thanks to a warning from Mark. Before they left, he explained to Rachel that the streets and address numbers in Ireland were few and far between, so the best thing for Rachel to do was to find something on main roads, using landmarks to find their way around. How they were to find their next team members would be the issue. Three of their new members were in Cork. Finding Joe and Val were a piece of cake compared to how this would work.
Mark was Angel, Jon, and Jesse’s father, and one of the few older A.N.G.E.L.s left. He and his wife, Casey, live in a house in Nevada that was nicknamed The Safe Haven. God set a hedge of protective angels to watch over the central housing of Rachel and Angel’s teams, and the few members left from the American A.N.G.E.L.s in the English home. This gave them a singular place in the world they knew was protected for them - a place of rest. In Derek (another of the older A.N.G.E.L.s) and Mark’s many years in the Air Force in Special Operations, they had many missions throughout the world, and often passed their wisdom and experience onto the new teams.
“Do we have an extra bed in the room?” Rachel asked the desk clerk when they checked into the hotel.
“Of course. It’s up there as requested. You are a lovely group of young people. I don’t expect t’ have too much trouble with ya, yeah?” the older clerk asked, looking at them over her wire-rimmed glasses.
“No, ma’am,” Rachel assured her.
“Just be quiet-like, yeah? There are others here as well.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Rachel said, accepting the key to the room. The spare twin-sized bed would be Rachel’s. Since Jesse was so muscular, he would have one queen-sized bed, while Jacob and Joe would share the other one. It would be close quarters for a while. They had to go easy on the money in their travels.
“Well, this is lovely,” Joe said, in a fake Irish brogue he’d been practicing since they’d landed.
“You forgot to add the ‘like’ or ‘yeah’ at the end of your sentence, Joe” Jacob pointed out, setting his bag on the dresser. “I feel like I’m in the eighties.”
Chuckling, Jesse reminded him, “There’ll be a lot we’re going to have to figure out. Language quirks will be the least of them.”
“So, where do we start?” Joe asked with his usual Texas drawl, as he sat on the bed. “I have to admit that I really like what I’ve seen so far, and am looking forward to seeing more of Cork.”
“Cork has a lot of history. While we’re here, I would like to look around a bit,” Jesse said. With Jesse being a graphic artist, his eyes immediately went to the picturesque settings, and the thousands of years of history throughout the country. “I would hate to come to such a beautiful country, and miss checking out the cool structures. I’d like to do some drawings here.”
Putting her bag at the end of her bed before she sat down on it, Rachel said, “Unfortunately, we’re not here as tourists.”
“Do you have a plan in finding them?” Joe asked.
“I have an idea. They’re our age, right?”
Stretching out on his bed, Jacob yawned as he agreed, “Right.”
“Well, if you are our age, and tend t’ work with computers, where would you likely be?” Rachel asked the group.
“What kind of computers? Are we talking hackers?” Joe asked.
Rachel acknowledged, “That’s a strong possibility. These are supposed to be our support team members. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot to go on.”
“Seriously?” Jesse asked. “Dad sent us here without a plan?”
“He said God would lead us to who we need t’ find,” Rachel explained, her Australian accent still thick, even though she had been out of Australia for several months. “When I asked him about it, he said that God had a way of bringing those to us who we need to find.
“What about a cyber café or college?” Joe asked.
“Good start. There are a couple colleges in this area. The one I’m thinking of is in a section called Bishoptown. I reckon that’s where we’ll start...tomorrow. I don’t know about you blokes, but I’m exhausted,” she said, falling back onto her twin bed.
“Hate to pull a page out of my brother’s playbook, but what about eating first?” Jesse asked, resting his hand on his stomach as it growled for the umpteenth time since mid- flight.
“Good idea,” Jacob said, his stomach rumbling at the mention of food. “Plane food stinks.”
After they freshened up, the group headed down to the desk to speak with the clerk again. “What can I do for you lot?” the older clerk asked. To Rachel, she reminded her of a grandmother type.
“Well, we’re a hungry bunch,” Jesse explained. “Is there somewhere around here that has good, hearty food? We’d like to have something that’s more local than commercial if we could.”
“Oh!” the lady exclaimed, pleased to have them seek her advice, “I know just the place.” With a gentle, but excited smile on her face, she leaned forward, motioning for Jesse to lean closer. When he did, in a low voice, she said, “My son’s best friend’s step-mother’s cousin has the best little pub in the area.”
Chuckling, Jesse said, “I think I followed that. Care to share where this spectacular secret is hiding?”
“Ahhh, that, boy-o, is the beauty of it! Ya see, it’s only a few blocks from here. It may look dark and scary, but it has the best food in town, and only the locals know about it.”
Leaning on the counter as the lady stood taller, Jesse smiled and said, “Now that sounds like the perfect place for us.”
Pulling out a map, the lady drew the way through the streets with a highlighter. When she finished, she explained, “Okay, it’s right here. You can’t miss it.”
“Wonderful! Can we bring something back for you?”
“Oh, aren’t ya a sweet one! A shepherd’s pie would hit the spot on such a chilly night.”
“Consider it done,” Jesse said, picking up the map. “Since you shared your secret with us, it’s the least we can do.”
* * *
As they stepped into the pub from the drizzling rain, and Rachel’s eyes adjusted, she immediately understood why it seemed so dark. The lights above the cherry wood tables and bar had stained glass shades with green Celtic symbols in a thick, white setting. The traditional Celtic music played quietly in the background, while the televisions were set to various sports going on in the area. As always, the team chose a table in the center, which allowed them to see all points within the tiny pub for safety purposes.
The heavenly scent of food cooking, mingled with the strong aroma of beer. The laughter and chatter of those seated throughout the little pub echoed from all corners. There was definitely an air of familiarity among those playing pool or sitting at the bar, while others were nestled in tables around the pub, talking and laughing.
Rachel cringed as she scanned the menu. There wasn’t a low-carb meal to be seen. “I see the Irish like their potatoes,” she commented with a sigh.
“Probably to put meat on their bones to keep them warm. That drizzle outside may be light, but it soaks ya to the bone,” Joe said with a shudder.
“How do we order?” Jacob asked, looking around.
“Pretty sure we do it at the bar,” Rachel explained.
“Okay. So, do we make a list and send a representative?” Jesse asked.
Pulling a piece of paper and a pen from her tiny purse, which had a strap that crossed her body, Rachel volunteered, “I’ve got it. What does everyone want?”
After everyone gave her their order, she went to the bar to order the food. She took a deep breath when a male waiter approached her. While she enjoyed hearing the Irish brogue spoken, she knew the moment she, or any of those with her opened their mouths, they would be labeled as outsiders. She didn’t mind, though, the people seemed friendly enough. As she gave him their order, she prayed God would help them find the people they were looking for, knowing they didn’t have much to go on.
Due to Rachel’s spiritual gift of being able to see by the brightness or darkness of a person if they were Christians, seeking God, or from the other side, she took a good look around. From what she could tell, the people in the bar were split evenly between those who were the Lord’s, and those who were not His. At least none were from the other side, meaning one of Satan’s legions. Glancing toward her right, she noticed a young lady who was exceptionally bright, and wondered if she was one of those they were searching for. Filing it the back of her mind, she shoved her hands in her pockets as she made her way back to the table.
When their waiter brought their food to the table, Rachel’s eyes just about popped out of her head. “That’s a lot of food! Is this all mine?”
“A thin bird like you?” the waiter chuckled. “Yeah. You need to put some meat on your bones, lass. It gets cold-like in these parts.”
“Well, it is chilly,” Rachel said, slightly blushing. “Thank you.”
“Have t’ ask. Where ya from?” The waiter asked. “I hear a couple different accents, yeah?”
“I’m from Texas,” Joe said proudly.
“I’m from Nevada in the States,” Jesse said before taking a bite of the fresh bread.
After clearing his mouth from the shepherd’s pie, Jacob added, “Me too. Nevada.”
“And I’m from Australia,” Rachel finished.
“Brilliant! What a diverse group. Are you here for uni- like reasons?”
“No, sir.” Rachel shook her head. “We’re looking for some friends of ours.”
“The Claire, Callahan, and Kearney families.”
“Hmm,” the waiter looked deep in thought, “that’s quite a challenge. Are there first names for those?”
Biting her bottom lip, Rachel shook her head. “Our parents only gave us the last names. It’s...complicated.”
The waiter shook his head. “Not sure how to help ya there.”
“That’s okay. Neither do we,” Jacob said under his breath.
“Well, I have food for another table ready. Enjoy your time here in Cork. Just go to the bar to refill your drinks, and they’ll put it on your bill. Feel free to flag me if you need anything else,” the waiter said, and then disappeared into the kitchen.
Once he was out of earshot, Rachel turned to Joe, knowing he had the spiritual gift of visions, and asked, “Do you have any information for us? Any visions? Any hints? Anything?”
“Sorry,” Joe apologized. “Wish I had something. Been a bit dry lately. Hoping maybe the Spirit’ll let me know something soon.”
“What if I told you that I know?” Jacob said quietly, nodding toward the young lady at the bar Rachel was curious about.
Raising an eyebrow, Rachel asked, “How?”
“I can draw the future. No one believes me when I tell them, so I don’t share it often, but I do,” he said in one breath, searching their faces for a hint of what they were thinking. Then he added, “I draw things, and they happen later. There’s no time limit as to how far out the drawings go.”
“I understand you not sharing that with us, being that you’re still trying to figure your way around the group, but if it makes you feel any better, my mum has that gift as well,” Rachel said. “I don’t doubt that others would have it too. Having said that, if anyone else has any other gifts they haven’t mentioned, please share. We’re a team, and we need to know all of our assets.”
“Um,” Joe jumped in, “If you don’t know the time limit, then how do ya know it’s here?”
“Because I see one of the girls I drew about three weeks ago over there at the bar,” he said, nodding toward the young lady with dark skin that Rachel was wondering about. Sitting on a bar stool, she sipped her coffee, while working on her computer.
“Seriously?” Jesse asked, stunned. “Why didn’t you tell us this before?”
“Because I had to get a feel for you guys. Normally when I tell people, they look at me funny.”
“Have you had any more of these since joining us?” Rachel asked.
“Yes,” he admitted. “I usually draw landscapes, but in one I drew three weeks ago, that girl was in it, with two other people.”
“Girls or boys?”
“One of each.”
“What did they look like?” Jesse pressed.
“The other girl was shorter. She couldn’t be more than about five foot two or three, with a stocky build. Her hair is long, red, and curly, and she has blue eyes. The guy is a little taller than the girl at the bar, about six foot, and has medium- brown hair in a skater-type cut, where his hair goes down over his eyes and to the side, and brown eyes. All three are sturdy in their body structure, but not plump.”
“Interesting,” Rachel said, sitting back in her seat. “Do ya have your sketchbook with you?”
“Yes. It’s in the room in my bag. I can show you when we get back to the hotel.”
“Good. For now, I guess I should go talk to her, but I’m not exactly sure how t’ start this one. She is bright, but there are a lot of bright people in here.”
“So, how does your gift work?” Jesse asked Rachel.
“Everyone has a certain amount of light and dark, depending on where they are in their walk, or if they are even one of God’s. For example, our waiter has some light, meaning he’s not a Christian, but he’s seeking. That guy at the corner table is just plain dark, meaning he’s is not a Christian, and wants absolutely nothing to do with God.”
“Like, from the other side dark?” Jesse asked.
“No. That’s even darker. There is no mistaking the darker ones. And the Unnaturals,” she shuddered, “are something else entirely.”
“Well, I could go talk to her,” Joe offered, with a smile, showing his dimples. “Put on a little southern charm.”
“She’ll think you’re hitting on her,” Jacob pointed out.
“Right. And in doing so, I should at least get a first name out of her.”
“Go for it. If that doesn’t work, I’ll give it a shot,” Rachel said.
Joe made his way to the girl at the bar. “Hi,” he said, taking a seat beside her.
“Hi,” she said cautiously, closing her computer.
“My name’s Joe, and you are?”
“Delaney,” she said with a thick Irish accent, while she shook his hand.
“How are ya doing this evening?”
“Not too bad. That’s not an Irish accent I hear.”
“No, ma’am.” He smiled. “I’m from Texas.”
“The States?” she asked.
He nodded in response.
After an awkward moment, Joe asked, “Mind if I sit here and have a drink? I’m new to the area and I’d like t’ pick your brain on what’s here.”
“Go ahead. I’m almost done,” she said, just as the bartender set her dinner in front of her. Delaney cringed. “Or, just eating,” she corrected herself.
“May I have a water with lemon?” Joe asked the bartender, who nodded before making his water, with a lemon on the rim. Once the bartender took off for another patron, Joe turned back to Delaney, “I’m going to ask you a weird question.”
“Okay,” she said hesitantly. “I’m going to warn ya that there are any number of people in here who will come to my defense in a moment’s notice.”
He raised his hands. “I promise not to do anything inappropriate. That wouldn’t be gentlemanly of me, which goes against my upbringing.”
Rachel suddenly appeared at his side. “G’day!” Rachel said, shaking Delaney’s hand. “How ya going? I’m Rachel. We’re looking for a couple different people, and hoping you can help.”
“I’m confused,” Delaney said, as she looked at the pair with her big brown eyes. She had a thin build, with straight hair that hung just below her shoulders.
“Rachel, this is Delaney,” Joe introduced them.
“We’re looking for some people. We know their last names, but not their first names,” Rachel explained.
“What is the last name of the people you’re looking for? We’ll start with that, yeah?” Delaney asked.
“There’s Callahan, Kearney, and Claire,” Rachel said. As soon as she said ‘Claire,’ Delaney stiffened. “You wouldn’t happen to be Delaney Claire, would you?”
“I’m not sure who you are or what you want, but I don’t know you so I’m going to take my dinner and go home now,” she said, flagging the bartender.
“Joe, why don’t you go back with the others,” Rachel said, sending him away. As he left, she asked, “Delaney, do you believe in angels?”
Sitting in Joe’s seat, Rachel continued, “I know things seem a bit off, but this is a public place. Do you mind if we talk for a few? You can always call for help if you feel the need to.”
“I guess,” Delaney said, as the bartender came over. When she did, Delaney asked her to get Rachel another drink of whatever she was having. “Okay. Who are you, and who are they?” she asked, suddenly noticing the trio still at the table.
“Well, the big one is Jesse, the one you already met is Joe, and the other one is Jacob,” Rachel explained, as the bartender set a soda in front of her before he left for another patron down the bar. “If you want to, we can sit over there?”
“No. While they may be good looking, I don’t know you. I want to know who you are and why you’re looking for me.”
“So, you are Delaney Claire?”
“Yes. How did you know?”
Tucking a portion of her hair behind her ear, Rachel nervously cleared her throat. “This may sound weird.”
“Go ahead. I’ve seen a lot of weird in my life.”
“While I don’t doubt that, I’ve seen some pretty weird stuff myself.”
“Really?” she asked, intrigued.
“This is going to sound really weird,” Rachel started.
“You have already said that. Go ahead.”
“Well,” Rachel said, taking a deep breath, “Ever see a real angel or demon?”
Sitting up, Delaney pushed her dinner forward. “You know, they have medication for that.”
Chuckling, Rachel explained, “There are days I wonder if I need to be on it. But seriously, I’m going to tell you that you’re a Christian. When you ask me how I know, I’ll respond with the fact that it’s a gift from the Spirit. I know who in this place is a Christian and who isn’t.”
“Well, I am. And, while I do believe in gifts of the Spirit, I have to say that’s a new one.”
“Do you have any gifts of the Spirit?”
“Not sure if I’m ready to share that with you yet.”
“Well, one of mine is discernment, and it’s telling me to trust you. Having said that, I don’t know you well enough to follow that yet.”
“Life is full of twists and turns. We meet new people every day. During those meetings, there are times where we feel we need to trust some, and not trust others.”
“Sounds like you’re trying to convince me to trust you.”
“I’m trying to make you comfortable enough for us to chat.”
“Not sure if I’m there yet.”
“What if I continue to share about myself first?”
“Sounds fair,” Delaney agreed.
“Well, I grew up in the Outback of Australia on a station. We raised cattle and sheep.”
“It had its ups and downs. But one thing was always certain, we could count on family and God.” When Delaney just nodded in response, Rachel continued, “While growing up, I was trained by a group called A.N.G.E.L.s, which stands for Available to Nurture God’s Eternal Love. They often went around the world, on missions from an archangel. Sometimes they were given to them directly from the archangel, and sometimes the missions were given through other spiritual gifts. Joe, for example, has visions. One of his visions led us to help a young lady named Amber.”
“As I mentioned, one of my spiritual gifts allows me to see who is a Christian and who is not.”
“How does that help you?”
“Because where there is good, there is evil. While there are angels, there are also demons. My gift allows me to see those who are on Satan’s side. This sometimes gives me an idea of who or what we’re fighting.”
“I can see that.”
“Well, since I’ve shared some. What about you?”
“Well, it may sound weird.”
“I can speak languages I’ve never heard before. For example, I met a girl from China in college. Her brother came to her and said something at lunch in their native tongue. When he did, I responded in Chinese in the same dialect he used. I swear to you that I have never taken a single class in Chinese.”
“I’m sure. My brother has that gift as well. My mum, brother, and I are the only ones in our family with these unique gifts.”
“Talented family. Is that him at the table?”
“No, he’s with another group.”
“Another group of what?”
“Well, remember those A.N.G.E.L.s I told you about earlier?”
“Well, I’m part of team of them as well. We basically work directly for God. He has an archangel over us who gives us assignments either directly or through those who have the gift of prophecy, dreams, or visions, like our friend Joe over there. Meanwhile, Jacob, the shorter one, draws the future. He drew you, along with two other people about three weeks ago.”
“That medication is looking better and better by the minute, yeah?”
Chuckling, Rachel continued, “Some days I wonder. Seriously, though, I’m being honest with you.”
“Okay. So, if you all have gifts, what does the big guy do?”
“He can feel those from the other side. He can tell how close they are to us. He senses, for example, those demons I mentioned earlier.”
“Are you telling me they’re real-like?”
“Hate t’ break it to you, but yes.”
“I’ll tell ya what, we have two other people to look for –”
“That’s my other question,” Delaney said, cutting Rachel off. “You said you were looking for me. What do you mean by that? Why would you look for me?”
Taking a deep breath, Rachel thought through her response for a moment before she explained, “As I said, we’re sent on missions by the archangel. We’re also given a list from God on who to look for – those who are called to be A.N.G.E.L.s. Now, you can say no at any time. We still have the free will to do that, but before you do, I ask you to pray about it.”
“Pray about what? What do you need me for?”
“Well, that’s what I don’t know yet. We’re looking for our support team for the Haven, and your names are on the list as being part of the team.”
“What’s the Haven?”
“It’s the big guy’s parent’s house. They call it The Safe Haven, or Haven for short. It’s my understanding that you have some skill in computers?”
“I do, but I have another skill I think you may potentially utilize more.”
Considering it for a moment, she decided against it. “Not sure you’re ready to hear that yet.”
“Fair enough. When you’re ready, we’re willing to listen.”
“Good to know. In the meantime, I’d like to get to know you more before I share my deepest, darkest secrets, if you know what I mean.”
“I do. I know I’m asking a lot of you for a stranger. I’m sure we have time to get to know each other for a few days. In doing so, you may come to actually trust us.”
“Trust for me is hard.”
“Trust for a lot of people is difficult. We’ll be here for a bit. We still have two more people to find.”
“Pretty sure I may be able to help you there.” “What do you mean?”
“You’re looking for computer people. I know two hackers. One has the last name of Callahan, and the other is Kearney.”
“Let me contact them and I’ll get back with you.”
“Okay,” Rachel said. She wrote her name, along with their hotel and room number, on a napkin before handing it to Delaney. “We’ll be there for the most part. You can either leave a message or come over. In the meantime, we’ll probably be looking for the other two as well. It’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s that it’s our job to find these people.”
Delaney chuckled. “Pretty sure there’s one you’ll never find on your own. The other one you may have a shot at if you’re around long enough, but he’s pretty scarce as well. I think you were led to me first for a reason.”
“Why is that?”
“Well, the one’s blind, and the other knows how to hide very well...especially if he knows someone’s looking for him. In our line of work, you know how to be a ghost when needed.”
“I see. Wait,” Rachel said, shaking her head. “Did ya just say one of the hackers is blind?”
“Yep. That would be Cori Callahan. She’s a short spitfire with long red, curly hair, and really cool blue eyes, but she can’t see a thing.”
“Then,” Rachel furrowed her brow, “how does she work with computers?”
Delaney laughed. “She’s unique, but it’s her uniqueness that allows her to hear a lot more than the average person. She can hear a recording of an event and pick out the tiniest of sounds. She also has a braille keyboard, and has a program where she runs her mouse over the words on the screen, and it reads it for her. Don’t let her blindness deceive you, she’s one of the top hackers in Ireland, if not all of Europe. You won’t see her around much, because she’s well protected. Now, you may run into Kai Kearney. He hides, but comes out into the real world every once and a while. They’re in one of my circles as a resource. Very few know how to get in touch with them.”
“I don’t think you do. The only way to find these two is through another contact. They don’t trust anyone.”
“Okay. So, where do we go from here?” Rachel asked.
“If you want me to trust you, you have to trust me.”
Studying her for a moment, Rachel felt at peace before she agreed. “Okay. I trust you. What do ya need from me?”
“If you are who you say you are, I should be able to find some kind of record of you.”
Delaney furrowed her brow. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, we’re ghosts too. Our records have been erased. There is no online presence of us...at all.”
“Then how am I supposed to check your story?”
“You’re going to have to trust God on this one. You said you have the spirit of discernment, right?”
“Right,” Delaney said hesitantly.
“If trust is your hang up, as it is with most of us, then trust in the Lord. He won’t steer you wrong. He gave you that gift for a reason. Use it. Pray and talk to Him about us. See what He says.”
“All right,” she agreed. Turning back to the table, she asked, “Is that offer to meet those other three still out there?”
“Are any of them spoken for?”
Taken aback for a moment, Rachel gulped. Taking a deep breath, she said, “That would be up to them.”
“Are they at this point?”
“So, they’re all three available?”
“We’ve been more concerned with the lives of those we were sent to protect then in forming relationships. The big one, Jesse, and I have talked, though.”
“I see. He wasn’t the one I was asking about.”
“Joe or Jacob?”
“Not sure. I may have to go talk to them to check this out. It sounds very intriguing,” she admitted.
“Then,” Rachel said with a smile, “let’s go meet them.”
* * *
The next morning, the sun breaking into the darkness of the room woke the group, piercing through a crack in the curtains. Rachel groaned as she covered her head with the pillow.
Jesse rolled toward her with a chuckle. “Kinda thought you’d be used to getting up early after living on a ranch all your life.” Even early in the morning, to him, she looked beautiful. Though she looked at her worst, the beauty of her spirit and heart was the only thing he saw.
“I am not a morning person,” she grumbled from under the pillow.
“I’m sure we all have our idiosyncrasies. We’ll figure them out along the way.”
Pulling her head out from under the pillow, Rachel glared at him. “It’s a good thing you’re cute. Otherwise, with you being a morning person, things could seriously go sideways real fast. Remember, I’m good with knives and a gun.”
“Oh, I remember,” Jesse chuckled, braced on his arm. “I’ve seen you in action. I wouldn’t mess with you on a good day.”
“Me neither,” Jacob mumbled. “I’ve already had the unfortunate occurrence of having to fight her more than once.”
“You did well,” Rachel reminded him.
“Your encouragement isn’t very convincing in the morning,” Jacob said, rolling away from her. “Neither is the sun.”
“Is anyone else in here a morning person, or am I it?” Jesse asked.
“I am,” Joe announced.
“I’m kicking you out of this bed!” Jacob grumbled, shoving Joe out of the bed with his hands and feet, and onto the floor.
Laughing, Joe peeked up and over the bed. “You can be dealt with,” he teased.
“And you can be blown up.”
Putting his hands up in surrender, Joe asked, “Do ya want to go get some breakfast? Or do you want it brought to you?”
“Bringing it to the room is an option?” Rachel asked, excitement evident in her voice.
“Tell you what,” getting up, wanting to please Rachel, Jesse offered, “Joe and I will go get breakfast, dragging Jacob with us, while you get a shower and get ready. We take less time to get ready.”
“Ya know what? I’m not even gonna argue with that one,” Rachel said, getting up in her pajama pants and tank top. The others had shorts and t-shirts on.
As the guys got dressed and left, Rachel went into the bathroom. Letting the warm water run down her cold body, she shuddered as a chill ran down her spine. She really didn’t want to get out of bed, but they had a job to do. They had to find the last two in Ireland before they could move on to Jordan or Egypt, whichever God led them to first. She had a feeling, though, that with one of them being blind, the better idea would be to get the two hackers from Ireland back to the Haven before moving on, keeping Delaney in the field since she knew languages. Not only would there be less to house in the field by taking the two back, but there would also be fewer people to have to keep track of, and out of trouble.
* * *
That morning after breakfast, the team went down to the college in Bishoptown. Choosing a spot in the middle of a grassy circular area near the administration building, they pulled out a map of Cork to study it.
“Are you looking for somewhere in particular-like?” their waiter from the previous night asked. They jumped. “Sorry to scare you,” he apologized, “Just know you were looking for people yesterday, and now you have a map out. Did you find them?”
“Actually, we got some leads,” Rachel admitted. “We found one last night, but we’re still looking for the other two.”
“Who are they again?”
“We found out all of their names. They are Cori Callahan and Kai Kearney.”
“Cori Callahan and Kai Kearney? Hmmm. Cori used to go here, but she dropped out last year. Last time I saw Kai was a couple days ago. He’s usually over there in the student center if you’re going to find him anywhere,” he said, gesturing toward the student center on the other side of the grassy area, just as a drizzle started once again.
The lush green of Ireland in September thrilled Rachel, but the rain and drizzle messed with her hair in a bad way. She sighed as she braided it. “I don’t even know why I bother doing my hair here.”
“I wouldn’t,” the waiter chuckled. “The name’s Owen Quinn. And yours?” he asked Rachel.
Standing, Rachel put a hair tie in to hold her braid, then shook his hand, “My name’s Rachel Sullivan, and this is Jesse English, Jacob Armstrong, and Joe Mason. Do you know Kai?”
“Kai goes here. Cori used to go here, but doesn’t anymore, and Delaney graduated last year, but still takes a class here or there. Otherwise, the only time I see Delaney is in the pub.”
“Kai is usually in the student center, though?” Joe verified, as the three guys stood to shake Owen’s hand.
Owen stood to six foot, with ginger hair, and freckles across his nose. His sharp features allowed his blue eyes to stand out on his stocky build. If Rachel had to guess, he probably played a sport like rugby.
“Let’s head over to the student center. I have class in about an hour. I was just on my way to study when I saw ya sitting here and remembered you from last night. You’re kind of unforgettable,” he said, looking at Rachel.
Jesse stiffened, noticing how Owen looked at Rachel. He would keep an eye on him, but since he knew Kai, they would have to trust him for a bit in order to have another outlet to get to him in case Delaney fell through.
Heading over to the student center, the group got to know Owen a bit more. He was in his second year at the college, but was a life-long Cork resident. He had hopes of getting on the Irish Rugby Union team after university. Growing up in the area, he knew of the three they were looking for, and was curious as to how they knew them.
“They are friends of our family,” Rachel mentioned as they entered the student center.
“And, they didn’t tell you their first names?” “As I said last night, it’s...complicated.” “I’m sure. It sounds it.”
“Owen!” a young man called from the bistro in the student center. Jogging over to Owen, he asked, “Who is this young lady? And, you,” he said to Jesse, “Ever play rugby?” When Jesse shook his head no, the man turned back to Owen, “Is this a group of new transfers?”
“No. They’re visitors. They’re looking for Kai. Have you seen him this morning?”
“Not this morning, but I’ll see him tonight at the pub. He’s supposed to meet us up there for pool and to watch the game.”
“Brilliant!” Owen smiled. “See, that’ll be two. Thanks,” he said, and the guy left with a group of his friends. When he was out of earshot, Owen offered, “Do you want to have lunch? I have class in an hour, but I can stay until then.”
“Actually, that sounds like a great idea,” Joe agreed. “We can pick your brain about the area.”
After they got their lunch and sat down at a table, Owen quietly said, “I know you want to go to the pub tonight, and I know you just came in last night, but you are not exactly in the best area here at night.” Turning to the guys, he warned, “Keep an eye on her, yeah?” As the three guys burst out in laughter, Owen asked, “What’s so funny? I’m trying to warn you. That place is not exactly the safest at night.”
Finishing the bite in his mouth, Jesse then explained, “We know what she can do. We’re not worried about her. She may look fragile, but she is far from it.”
Confused, he said, “I don’t understand.”
“And I pray you never have to find out,” Jacob said, rubbing his jaw.
“I’ve fought her. She doesn’t believe in mercy.”
“I hope you don’t have to.”
“Me neither,” he said, studying her a bit more. He may have underestimated this little band. His uncle was with the group up in Derry who searched for strong warriors to fight for Ireland. He helped his uncle with recruitment in the college, and half-wondered if this group would be a good addition.