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Acts 5

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,

And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.

And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.

And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.

And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.

Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.

Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.

And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.

And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.

And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)

Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.

There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation [Or, envy],

And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.

But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,

Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this Life.

And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the Council together, and all the Senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.

But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told,

Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.

Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.

Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people.

Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned.

And when they had brought them, they set them before the Council: and the high priest asked them,

Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.

Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.

Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him.

When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.

Then stood there up one in the Council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the Law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;

And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.

For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed [Or, believed] him, were scattered, and brought to nought.

After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.

And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:

But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

And they departed from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.

And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ (Acts 5: 1-42).

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James 5

Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.

Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.

Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.

Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

Grudge not [Or, Groan, or, Grieve not] one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the Judge standeth before the door.

Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he hath committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;

Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins (James 5: 1-20).

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Isaiah 47

“Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate.

“Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers.

“Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.”

As for our Redeemer, the LORD of hosts is His name, the Holy One of Israel.

“Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called, The lady of kingdoms.

“I was wroth with My people, I have polluted Mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand: thou didst shew them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke.

“And thou saidst, ‘I shall be a lady for ever’: so that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it.

“Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, ‘I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children’:

“But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments.

“For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, ‘None seeth me.’ Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, ‘I am, and none else beside me.’

“Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know.

“Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail.

“Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.

“Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.

“Thus shall they be unto thee with whom thou hast laboured, even thy merchants, from thy youth: they shall wander every one to his quarter; none shall save thee.” (Isaiah 47: 1-15)

 

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Isaiah 46

Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast.

They stoop, they bow down together, they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity.

“Hearken unto Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by Me from the belly, which are carried from the womb:

“And even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.

“To whom will ye liken Me, and make Me equal, and compare Me, that we may be like?

“They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship.

“They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble.

“Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors.

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me,

“Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure’:

“Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth My counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.

“Hearken unto Me, ye stouthearted, that are far from righteousness:

“I bring near My righteousness; it shall not be far off, and My salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel My glory.” (Isaiah 46: 1-13)

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Luke 10

After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before His face into every city and place, whither He Himself would come.

Therefore said He unto them, “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers into His harvest.

“Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

“Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.

“And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’

“And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.

“And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.

“And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:

“And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, ‘The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.’

“But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say,

“‘Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.’

“But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.

“Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

“But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.

“And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.

“He that heareth you heareth Me; and he that despiseth you despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me despiseth Him that sent Me.”

And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name.

And He said unto them, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

“Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

“Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”

In that hour Jesus rejoiced in Spirit, and said, “I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight.

“All things are delivered to Me of My Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.

And He turned Him unto His disciples, and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see:

“For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted Him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

He said unto him, “What is written in the Law? how readest thou?”

And he answering said, “THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD WITH ALL THY HEART, AND WITH ALL THY SOUL, AND WITH ALL THY STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL THY MIND; AND THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF.”

And He said unto him, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.”

But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

And Jesus answering said, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

“And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

“And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

“And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

“And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, ‘Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.’

“Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?”

And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, “Go, and do thou likewise.”

Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house.

And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word.

But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

And Jesus answered and said unto her, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:

“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10: 1-42)

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Nocturne’s Reaping® : Prelude

Chapter 26

The instructions had directed them to wait for a call before heading to their destination. The actual attack order would be given sometime after they were in the air. Lark had already plotted to be as close to her real target as she could be when the attack order was given — while still being in the prescribed airspace. Still, it might be obvious she was a bit off-center of her course. Lark figured this was the most dangerous time. If Leader Monrage noticed this peculiarity, he might grow suspicious. He might try to communicate with her, or he might just assume the worst and sick another ship on her. That could make things difficult.

Lark decided to get to the location where Monrage’s prearranged course was the closest to her own course as slowly as possible. Then, she would hope that the attack order would come soon after, for that was the moment she and her crew would break away and head for the real target. Once the attack order was given, Lark hoped the other ships would be too caught up in their own missions to worry about her right away. It was a hard balance to maintain. Lark didn’t want the other cruisers to attack her immediately, but she also didn’t want them to ignore her completely either. Lark desired to stop the coup, and yet she was hoping to be enough of a distraction to minimize the damage the other ships could do to the colony. Still, if all the other ships came after her right away she and her crew would surely be destroyed before they could destroy the weapons. In the end, no matter how it went down, it would be up to Owen to get them where they needed to go and away afterward. Then, at 1730 it came: the call. Lark sat up in her chair.

Okay, Captain Smithson, take us up. And remember — try not to make it too obvious.”

Will do.”

Owen took his chair and began to pilot. As much as Lark had learned, she couldn’t touch the skill that Owen possessed. Lark was grateful; she wasn’t sure she could pull off his part.

After several minutes, Owen announced, “We’re getting close to the time we need to veer off.”

Is there any way to delay?”

If I go any slower, Leader Monrage will probably hail us.”

Lark bit her lip slightly. She started counting in her mind as though she were sure the attack order would be given by the time she counted to ten – only it wasn’t.

I …” Lark began.

Green light!” Jensen shouted.

Captain Smithson, correct our course.” Lark advised immediately. “Head us toward the installation at the second set of coordinates.”

All right. We’re out of the designated zone, and we’re headed toward the installation.” Owen informed her.

ETA?” Lark asked.

Ten minutes.”

A beeping noise came from the console.

Incoming call from … Leader Monrage.” Jensen stated with dread in his voice.

Play the static recording.” Lark announced.

Will do.” Jensen agreed.

We’ll use it for two more communication attempts. Then, I’ll have to answer.” Lark declared. “Can you listen in on his other transmissions? I want to know who is coming after us and where they’re coming from.”

Yes, I’ll get on it … there’s no activity … wait. He’s hailing us again.” Jensen acknowledged.

Two down — one to go. Where are we?” Lark asked.

Six minutes away.” Owen informed her.

He’s probably not going to let us get there without a challenge. Where is he?” Lark queried.

Out of range.” Jensen remarked.

Who’s in range?”

Thomas and Smythe …” Jensen replied. “Wait. Monrage is hailing Smythe.”

And he’s where?”

Three minutes off, south by southwest.”

Prepare for evasive maneuvers.”

Yes.” Owen stated.

This is it.” Lark announced.

***

Celeste waited for what seemed like forever. The dampness of the night seemed to settle in her lungs and ache there. She wrung her hands but then thought better of it. After all, she had recently had them manicured.

Suddenly, a strange man began to approach her. He was big with large tattoos all over his face. Celeste shrank back against the wall. She had forgotten to ask Frederick what she was supposed to do if someone did show up. Should she call out to Frederick? She looked briefly toward the entrance of the installation. The man seemed to be coming right toward Celeste. She hadn’t signed up for this — to be assaulted by some thug. She had the urge to run but didn’t seem capable of moving her legs. She gritted her teeth instead. The man stopped a few feet away and looked at her in disbelief.

Do you have Monrage’s payment?” the man demanded.

Wha — what?” Celeste stammered.

The man looked at Celeste as though she was dense.

The payment. I’ve come for the payment.” he repeated slowly.

Oh, yes. The payment. I …” Celeste looked toward the entrance again. Thankfully, this time she saw Frederick coming out of the door with a large, seemingly heavy package weighing down his arms.

Oh, it’s here! It’s here!!” She pointed at Frederick. The man looked at Celeste skeptically.

Yeah, I see that. Thanks.”

The man walked around her and stepped towards Frederick.

This is it?”

Yes.” Frederick returned.

Great. Then we’ll have our engineer look over the item.”

Wait. You take the weapon, and what do we get in assurance?” Celeste demanded.

The man seemed to be angered by that. Even Frederick looked disapprovingly upon her.

Leader Monrage always repays his debts.” the man mentioned.

Of course he does.” Frederick consoled. “And I understand this is just a down payment.”

The man still looked annoyed. He reached for the weapon and took it from Frederick.

We’ll get back to you soon.” the man announced. He turned and left.

Frederick looked back at Celeste.

What?” Celeste snapped. “He could only need the one. Then where would we be?”

I just hope that man doesn’t tell Monrage.” Frederick returned.

Can we leave now?” Celeste pushed.

Let’s get in the car.” Frederick said while rolling his eyes.

Celeste and Frederick climbed into his car. Moments later, a light rain began to fall upon the windshield.

Well, aren’t we going back to the house?” Celeste wondered.

No.”

And why not?”

One can’t be in the middle of a coup and hang out at the first place they’d look for you. We have to lie low until this thing is over.”

If it’s over …” Celeste offered.

And what is that supposed to mean?” Frederick countered.

It means I’m not sure Leader Monrage is going to come through.”

That again. You’d rather everything fall apart than be wrong, is that it?”

Who’s to say I’m wrong?” Celeste glared at him.

Listen, you talk to me if you have concerns. You don’t question a man like Leader Monrage — let alone behind his back to one of his men.”

You’re afraid of him, aren’t you?” Celeste accused. “I’m not.”

Then you’re a fool.” Frederick blasted.

Minutes passed in silence.

So, why am I even here?” Celeste queried. “What was the point of me standing in front of that installation anyway? There was nothing I could have …”

Because you’ve been sitting around doing nothing, letting me take all the risks.” Frederick spat.

Celeste looked over at him.

I can’t believe you. You …” Celeste stammered.

Be careful what you say. I’m the one with the power here, not you.”

Celeste turned forward and stared at the window as it fogged under her breath. She wondered how she’d be capable of staying in a one-sided relationship like this. She couldn’t imagine letting Frederick call all the shots. What was more, if he wasn’t enamored with her anymore it couldn’t possibly last.

Just then, the phone rang. Apparently, the man who took the weapon from them was confirming that everything checked out, and that the mission was already underway. Frederick thanked him.

After a few more minutes of silence, Celeste asked, “Could we at least drive somewhere else? I don’t want to be here anymore.”

This is the safest place to be.” Frederick stated.

Certainly, you know somewhere else we could go?”

Frederick was silent for a moment. Then, he said, “Why yes I do, and it’s not far from here.”

Frederick started up the car then drove a little ways away. Celeste started to stiffen as she recognized the neighborhood. Finally, he stopped in front of the small hovel that she had once lived in with Lark. For a second, she was stunned silent, but then her rage grew.

What is this supposed to mean?!” Celeste snapped. She turned on Frederick. “Is this what you really think of me?!”

I just wish you’d show some appreciation for what I’ve given you. You act as though you’re entitled to everything.”

Celeste could feel herself redden as she became flustered.

And you don’t? Now that you’re getting what you want, you’ve forgotten that?!” Celeste returned.

You know what … I almost think you’re sabotaging everything, so I’ll have nothing left but you.” Frederick rasped.

Celeste was so angry at that point she couldn’t bring herself to speak anymore; words were not forming into coherent sentences in her mind. As it turned out, it didn’t matter. For at that moment, a large explosion ripped through the space behind them where the installation had been. Celeste gasped as Frederick leapt from the car. Then, he frantically began dialing a number on his phone.

Let me speak to Leader Monrage. What do you mean he’s busy?” There was silence on the other end of the line for a moment. “Leader Monrage? Are you aware you just blew up the installation! Well?!” There was silence once more. Still, Frederick was sure he had heard breathing again after the man who had answered his call left. “Just tell me you’re going to finish our deal. Leader Monrage?”

Yes?” a hollow voice answered.

Frederick was a bit unnerved.

Are you going to do your part?”

No, I think this concludes our dealings.”

What about your word? It’s your fault the installation was probably destroyed.”

There’s no probably about it. As for my word … I normally would work something out with you. However, by the sound of it, it seems you don’t trust my word anyway, so why should I honor it? Good-bye.”

There was a dial tone that rang through the air. It was around that time that people began to come out of their homes and into the street to see what had happened. A family even came out of the hovel that Lark and Celeste had inhabited years earlier. Frederick dropped his phone and let it smash upon the ground. He then turned and walked in the opposite direction, away from the installation.

Frederick! Where are you going?!” Celeste called after him. She slammed her car door. “Is he not going to honor his commitment after all?”

Frederick spun around and glared at Celeste for a moment. Then, he uttered, “I can’t believe I ever thought you were worth it. You’re on your own.”

Frederick turned and walked away again. This time he didn’t look back.

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2015

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Nocturne’s Reaping® : Prelude

Chapter 25

Celeste was anxious as she entered her bedroom. That was an unusual experience for her. Since everything in the room was exactly how Celeste had specified and in its place, normally just being in this room would make Celeste feel calm. It was everything Celeste had ever wanted and never had — even when her parents were alive. Everything in there was beautiful — the best. Celeste walked over and sat in front of her ornate vanity. She grabbed her silver hairbrush, which was dotted with actual pearls.

She started brushing her hair, and she counted as she did. After awhile, even this exercise didn’t calm her. She slammed the brush down onto the table.

Where is he?!” she demanded as she looked at the clock. It was already 4:30 pm. Frederick had made such a big deal about her accompanying him to get Leader Monrage’s down payment, and now he seemed to be running late. The truth was Celeste wasn’t fond of the idea at all; it seemed like an unnecessary risk to her welfare. Why would Leader Monrage put the whole plan in jeopardy just because he couldn’t bring himself to trust them? Celeste couldn’t help but think he should get over it just as she had to get over his association with Lark.

Speaking of Lark, Celeste had intended to warn Leader Monrage about Lark’s activities with that unknown man, but after hearing about his paranoid nonsense she decided against it. Heck, if he relied so much on his paranoia, he could figure it out himself. Besides, she didn’t really want to deal with Lark again anyway.

Celeste sighed. Why did she have to do this thing tonight? Could she really be the only one Frederick could trust as the lookout at the weapons installation? What if they were caught? Celeste knew she couldn’t handle prison, and it didn’t escape Celeste’s notice that Frederick’s last plan almost landed her there.

Suddenly, her bedroom door was opened.

Frederick, where have you been?” Celeste forced herself to ask in a soft tone of voice. She could see him in her mirror’s reflection.

Frederick crossed the room toward her. It always amazed him how truly beautiful Celeste was, and she knew it, too. He placed his hands on her shoulders.

You’re as beautiful as the day I met you.” he said.

Celeste managed a smile.

In that school uniform, you mean? Surely I look better now. Still, I’m glad I was wearing it. Remember when I asked you how you found me at my school? You said it was my school uniform that tipped you off.” Celeste told him.

Yes.”

And yet, here we are with me waiting anxiously for you.” she added with an edge to her voice.

You know I had to get the codes for the installation.”

Couldn’t you have done that before tonight?” she demanded of him.

Celeste knew she only had to prove to Frederick that he was expecting too much from her, and he’d relent. He’d done it a thousand times before.

But it’s getting so late.” Celeste added. “Frederick.”

She turned and looked up at him with the most vulnerable expression she could muster.

Are you sure I have to go?” she persisted.

He kissed the top of her head.

You know I wouldn’t risk you if it weren’t absolutely necessary.” he told her. “But you’re right. We really should be heading out.”

Celeste was sulking on the way over to the installation. Usually when she did this she could wrap Frederick around her finger — apparently not that night. Frederick in his state of distraction didn’t even seem to notice.

It’s almost five you know.” she brought up.

Good. Then the employees will be leaving.”

But what about … you know.” She paused. “Isn’t it dangerous to be around the installation now?”

No, they aren’t going to be anywhere near there.”

But what if Lark found out I was going there …?”

I’ve been assured she’s been kept out of the loop.”

But …”

Besides …” Frederick interrupted. “Monrage won’t even take off until he gets his down payment. He’s just going to be ready. So, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it. This will be a simple procedure.”

You mean, like the broach?” Celeste mentioned.

Frederick looked over at her briefly.

You’re just trying to pick a fight with me, aren’t you? I mean, really? Who got you out of that one?”

But now Lark hates me, and I’m scared.”

You are, of course, referring to the girl who took the blame for you. You could probably convince that twit you did her a favor.”

Frederick stopped the car.

We’re here. It’s time to earn your part in my future. I’m not in this alone …”

All right!” Celeste yelled out.

She climbed out of the car. Frederick climbed out soon after.

All you have to do is wait near the entrance.”

Yeah, whatever.” Celeste returned.

Celeste headed toward the installation — the one named after Frederick’s father. The couple had visited before. In fact, they visited frequently over the course of a year — right from the moment they came up with the plan. That way the employees would become used to seeing them around the installation. Oh, a year before … things had seemed so optimistic for them back then. Celeste and Frederick had finally come up with a way for Frederick to break completely free from his father’s control and take the power for himself. It was exciting; they really bonded that day. But then, all of a sudden, just as their plan was coming to fruition, there was a letdown — a rift. He just demanded too much from her. Celeste had given him enough. She stopped walking when she got near the entrance to the installation. Frederick came forward and kissed her on the forehead.

I’m sorry.” he said. “But I need you. You’re the only one I can trust.”

Celeste managed a smile. Why should she give up on her dream?

I love you.” he said.

Yes, so do I.” she returned.

With that, an employee came out of the installation and locked the door behind her. She smiled when she saw Celeste and Frederick standing there. There was no hint of suspicion.

You know what’s ironic?” Frederick started after the employee left. “After tonight it won’t even matter whether that employee says she saw us here. Whom is she going to tell?”

Yes.” Celeste smiled. “Well, you’d better get going, my love. I’ll wait here for you.”

Frederick smiled as well then headed into the building.

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2015

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