Chapter One

 

The verdict was in. She was certifiably crazy. How else to explain her rash behaviour? Marie-Angélique D’Oliveira, sat on the British Airways flight to London, worrying her bottom lip while lost in her memories.

“So, dude, seriously, you need to get a grip, Angel. You can’t quit your job and fly off half cocked 4,000 miles to London to live, just ‘cause of a picture of a house you saw! This is what happens when you don’t get laid in two years.” Rika grumbled.

Angel smiled at her best friend impishly, while she placed a folded shirt into her suitcase. “I think you’ll find that’s precisely what I’m doing.” She decided to ignore the comment about her self-imposed celibacy.

Rika was only an inch shorter than Angel, but there ended the resemblance. Where Angel was tall and athletic, Rika was what they both referred to as a fiercely real girl. At five foot nine Rika had a body made to drive a Renaissance artist crazy with the desire to paint it and was not society’s typical sylph-like ideal. But Angel envied her all the more for it. While she fought a daily battle to straighten her hair, her friend had grown her locks since they were teens, and she looked amazing. Angel would have done anything to add some more curves onto her frame, but although she could gain weight it was never where she wanted it, so she’d given up.

Rika raised frustrated eyes towards the ceiling, interrupting Angel’s musings. “Lord, help me not bitch-slap crazy sistas from Africa who not only are Catholics, but continuously struggling with their own mystical beliefs and superstitions!”

Angel giggled at her friend’s antics. Rika loved putting on different accents and voices. Leaning slightly on the sofa, she hugged Rika with all the love and friendship she’d ever felt for her and said in a gentle voice. “Firstly, we grew up together in DC, so don’t try and make it sound like I’m some crazy voodoo priestess or something. And secondly, what can I say, I feel restless, it’s time to go.”

“Honey child, you know damn well that has nothing to do with anything! Ever since we’ve been kids you’ve been pulling this shit on me. Talk about feeling restless, and nothing ever happens. Girl, please, can’t you just stay here and get your old job back and we’ll take it from there?”

Angel let out a loud exhale. Part of her agreed with Rika. She was thirty-two with only some administrative experience – she’d never really managed to find that dream job, whatever it was. She really was too old to be running off half-cocked, and yet she was packing it all in for a picture she’d seen in an old Architect’s Digest at her dentist’s office? She probably was insane. Then again, maybe she’d always been right and she truly was destined for more. She had to be, as she was starting to wonder if all her reading had gone to her head. No, she knew she was right. That house in the picture had called to her like nothing else. It was the same one as in the dream she’d had as a teen, which still plagued her thoughts almost 20 years later.

“You know, ever since you had that dream at fourteen you’ve been nutty right?” Rika pressed on. “I mean, you’ve given it so much power over you. And I don’t even know what the hell it was about.”

Angel jerked at Rika’s accusatory tone. “It was about destiny, hard choices and the adventure of a lifetime.”

“Sounds glorious. Beam me up Scotty!” Rika’s sarcasm dripped from her lips.

Angel shook her head shyly. She couldn’t explain the dream to Rika; it was too personal. Too intimate. “Look, I know you’re worried, but all you need to know is that I have to go alone and I know I’m right! I think I know I’m right!”

“Sure, sure, whatever.” Rika threw her hands up in disgust. Angel was a stubborn one when she put her mind to it. “You promise you’ll call when you arrive and every week, until you get a phone I can stalk you with?”

“Course I will. You’re my trusty sidekick; I’ll never keep you out of the loop for long,” Angel reassured.

“That’s another question, why am I always the sidekick and never the lead? You know…” Angel tuned Rika out as she resumed her packing. Thoughts of the dream and the house that somehow seemed interlinked, and were both calling to her more strongly now than ever.

 

 “Good morning passengers, this is your captain speaking we’re about to begin our descent into London Heathrow, please—” Angel bolted upright. Despite the mixed emotions churning inside her about her crazy act she’d fallen asleep on the flight.

 

Customs was a breeze as far as she was concerned, and for someone who’d seldom left her hometown, let alone the country, she was doing well. She cleared the gates and strode into the arrival's lounge, her senses assaulted by various smells, sounds and sights. The arrival’s lounge at Heathrow Terminal Five was huge, and busy. She was flummoxed by the sheer number of people and smells. She’d always had a good sense of smell, although an occasional smoker, but now it seemed to be working overtime. She could almost distinguish different smells like a bloodhound. Perfumes mingled with the scents of coffee and fresh-baked pastries. People speaking various languages jostled her while she tried to get her bearings, and some of them had some serious BO issues! She wrinkled her nose in disgust.

She’d done her homework on how to get from the airport to the room she’d rented over the net, sight unseen. Shouldering her hand luggage, she wheeled her duffel bag in the directions the red, white and blue underground signs pointed, wondering if this adventure would turn out to be proof either of her insanity or what she’d been searching for her whole life.

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