An angel with an attitude. Jonathan Stewart is not at all happy about having to return to earth as a guardian angel, but it's required of all post-mortal spirits to fulfill at least one angel guardianship. Fortunately, on the Guardians Unlimited application, he had the good sense to request a client with early-marked-death status, so he believes that while his stay on earth will be most unpleasant, at least it will be short. What he doesn't know is that a spirit with EMD status can choose his or her time of death! Jonathan's client, Celest Knight, has a mind of her own and refuses death at every turn, leaving him stuck as her guardian angel - in a place he only wanted to forget.
- Pages: 284
About the Author
Growing up in the woodlands of Maine and spending most of her time climbing trees and looking for snakes under rocks, author Theresa Sneed has a wealth of childhood experiences and a lively imagination from which she creates her magical stories. As a mother of six, a grandmother of four, and an elementary school teacher, she enjoys weaving stories of fantasy and adventure that bring about moments of wonder and reflection.
Theresa graduated cum laude with a BA in education and has written award-winning poetry and short stories. She is a former executive president of American Night Writers Association (ANWA), a national LDS women’s writers group, and she is currently vice president of Salt River Scribes, a local chapter of ANWA. She enjoys reading and writing fantasy, romance, and suspense.
No Angel is Theresa’s first published novel. To learn more about her and get a sneak peek at the prequel and sequel to No Angel, visit her author blog at http://theresasmallsneed.blogspot.com. Theresa loves hearing from her readers and may be contacted at email@example.com.
Jonathan was out the door early the next morning. He almost forgot what he was doing as he headed toward H&EB, but he was starkly reminded when he entered the building. A large banner stretched across the lobby with “Good luck, Jonathan!” in large silver letters. He looked up at it, dumbfounded. He wasn’t the only guardian departing for earth that day—at any given time, thousands of new guardians were entering the field.
“Hey, buddy!” his replacement said brightly. “Just a little surprise for you.”
Jonathan looked from coworker to coworker as they smiled and clapped. It was utter nonsense. He’d be back before the shift ended. He glanced over the railing at the busy departer and arriver pathways below. Everything appeared to be running smoothly, but where were the workers? He looked at his coworkers, who were upstairs seeing him off instead of at their posts. He grumbled, reached up, and pulled the banner to the ground. “Get back to work!”
The light flashed on his indicator, and a message appeared. Departure time: 10:00 minutes, 9:59, 9:58, 9:57. It continued counting backwards as he hurried down the corridor toward Guardian Departures. He had glanced inside Guardian Departures once before out of curiosity, but had never been inside. Guardian angels left from a different area than the departers, and it was less formal than Jonathan had expected. There were no long lines, but rather comfortable-looking couches and oversized chairs in which men and women rested while they waited for their turn to leave. Each one of them wore a silver band on his or her wrist, and every few seconds a group of them would vanish into thin air, so to speak.
Saunders saw Jonathan from across the room and motioned for him to come over. “Put this on your wrist. Oh, and I’m going to need your time indicator.”
He slipped the indicator off his arm, but hesitated before handing it to the man.
“Don’t worry, Jonathan. It’ll be safe, along with your clothing.” Saunders gestured to a long row of rooms with doors. “You’ll find special clothing hanging in each of those rooms. Choose what’s comfortable and change quickly.” He handed the indicator back to Jonathan. “Leave your old clothing and your indicator in one of the cubbyholes inside the room.”
There wasn’t much of a variety of clothing to choose from—the standard one-piece white jumpsuit, or the more stylish white khaki shorts and polo-shirt combo. He went for the jumpsuit. He folded his old clothing and neatly placed them in an empty cubby along with his time indicator, which now flashed 3:12, 3:11, 3:10. He hurried out of the room and over to Saunders, who led him to a beige chair and told him to sit down. Saunders reached down and touched the silver band on Jonathan’s wrist to activate it, and then handed him a small, white manual.
Jonathan looked down at the leather-bound manual with “Celeste Robin Knight” embossed in gold.
“She’ll be an infant for a while and won’t do much but sleep. Read through this during those times.”
Jonathan thumbed through it, knowing he wouldn’t need it. How difficult could it be watching a baby girl, especially one marked for early death? He slipped the manual into his shirt pocket.
“You’ll get there a few seconds before she arrives. Make sure she sees you.”
Jonathan raised one eyebrow. “Sees me, sir?” Clients didn’t see their guardians. He was sure of it.
“Yes, Jonathan—sees you. Celeste is a rather special child.”
“She can see me?” Jonathan asked, feeling a little unsettled. Did that mean he’d actually have to communicate with her? The thought horrified him.
“Just during certain times,” Saunders said, adjusting his tie.
A cold wave of energy rushed up the sides of Jonathan’s body, and he felt dizzy. He looked down to see his feet and then his legs wavering as if they were submerged in water. During certain times? he thought. Now more than ever, he was glad to have had the good sense to request a client with an early-marked-death status. What else could they possibly expect of him? He shuddered as his torso and finally his head flickered and then vanished, and all at once he was whisked down a tight tunnel.
Within seconds, he found himself in a small hospital room and was completely repulsed when a doctor walked straight through him. He stumbled out of the way and watched Celeste’s earth mother, writhing in agony on the narrow bed.
There certainly were a lot of people crammed in that tiny room. He wondered what kind of establishment allowed that—a low-quality one, no doubt.
A man wearing white khaki shorts stood by the woman and patted her on the foot. He looked up at Jonathan and smiled. “You must be Cyndi’s baby’s guardian.” He reached his hand forward. “My name’s Markus Randall.”
Jonathan did not return the handshake. Well, that explains who he is, and why he doesn’t look like a doctor, Jonathan thought smugly. “I won’t be her guardian for long,” he said.
Markus gave him a strange look but then turned back to Cyndi, who moaned loudly. A beam of light broke through the ceiling, and Celeste and another man came through. She didn’t see Jonathan at first and appeared to be concentrating on what the man was saying.
“I’m here to assist Markus in bringing your mother back to heaven,” the man said.
Cyndi stopped writhing and lay still. Then her spirit stood and took Markus by the hand, leaving her mortal body behind. She smiled, stepped forward, and embraced Celeste, stroking her hair lovingly.
“I’m sorry—” Cyndi grasped her hands “—but it was not meant to be.”
“I know.” Celeste wiped a stream of tears from her face.
Jonathan watched in amazement. So this is what would happen! Celeste’s mother was heading back to heaven with Celeste. Well, good, he wouldn’t have to stay long at all. All that fuss for nothing. He could get back to work as soon as he left this horrid place. He’d have to go through the arrivers division of H&EB anyway. He looked around the room and realized that half of the small throng he had thought were mortals were in fact guardians. Three of them were so involved in what their clients were doing that they didn’t even acknowledge him or Celeste. One bent close to the doctor’s ear and whispered something into it—no doubt some words of comfort or inspiration—and the doctor sprang into action.
“Grab that suction hose!” the doctor demanded while prying apart the woman’s lifeless legs. “We’ve got to save the baby!”
Jonathan sucked in a quick breath. “No, you don’t! She’s marked for early death!”
Markus turned to Jonathan. “What did you say?”
“I said she’s marked for an early death.”
“You can’t choose that for your client!”
“I didn’t choose it for her. Well, I did, but not for her.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I requested it on my application.”
Markus gasped. “Whoa! You’re kidding, right?”
Jonathan scowled at the other guardians, who were either laughing or trying not to.
Markus had an incredulous look on his face. “You never ask for an early marked death, Jonathan. Never.”
“Why?” he asked angrily.
“It’s a dead giveaway, pardon the pun.”
“A dead giveaway for what?”
Markus pursed his lips and shook his head as if he were looking at a condemned man. “It’s a red flag in the application rating department. It tells them that you need to be a guardian far more than a client needs you.”
Jonathan frowned. He didn’t need anything, except to get back to his steady job at H&EB.
“It’s not always about what you can do for them—some of it is about what they can do for you.”
“Yeah, so?” Jonathan wondered if he could get back in time to finish his normal shift and start on a second.
Markus sighed. “I’m a better man from seeing life through their trials, and you will be, too.”
So that was it—becoming a better man at the expense of being stuck on earth with someone he didn’t know and didn’t care to know. He had made it back to heaven just fine without having to get personally involved with a single soul, and that was fine with him. “No thanks—not interested.” He turned to Celeste. “Are you ready?”
She grinned. “Of course.” She squeezed Cyndi’s hand and kissed her on the cheek, then turned to the bright pink infant the doctor had just removed from her mother’s body. “I read all about this.” Celeste’s eyes brightened, and a smile played at her lips. “And now I get to experience it.”
Jonathan turned to her, suddenly aware of what she was doing, but he was too late. She slipped into the infant’s tiny body and began sputtering and coughing as the nurse, under close direction from her guardian, carefully cleaned the phlegm from her small mouth.
“What? What just happened here?” Jonathan looked around in bewilderment.
Markus leaned back against the door and folded his arms across his chest. “Well, it would appear that you have just begun your first assignment.”
Jonathan sank into the wall behind him but straightened back up quickly. “Does that mean that she’s not marked for death?”
“They’re all marked for death, Jonathan.”
Jonathan shook his head. “Yeah, I know that, but she’s marked for an early death, right?”
Markus shrugged. “Did you check her manual?”
“The manual . . .” He slapped his shirt pocket. “Yes, of course.” He pulled it out and thumbed through it. On the inside cover were the words “MARKED FOR EARLY DEATH,” stamped in big red letters. He sucked in a quick breath. “Whew!”
Markus looked over his shoulder. “Hmm. I guess you got your wish.”
“Yeah.” Jonathan nodded, relieved.
“Well, good luck to you, Jonathan. I’ve got to get my client back.” He flipped open the top of his silver wrist band and pressed three buttons, then quickly stepped closer to Cyndi and the guardian that had escorted Celeste. He looked back at Jonathan and then at the tiny baby in the nurse’s arms. “Relax, Jonathan, it’s not so bad.” He laughed. “Well, unless you lose your client on the first day!” He pointed to the nurse who had just left the room with Celeste, then turned and helped Cyndi onto the arriver’s passageway. He looked back and grinned at Jonathan, and then Markus and Cyndi were instantly whisked away.
“Great,” Jonathan said as he stumbled out of the room after the nurse.
Cyndi would have been a single mom. There was no record of her family or who Celeste’s father was, so “Baby Girl,” as Celeste was called, was a part of a select group of babies who were temporarily without families. Of course, it wouldn’t be long before that would change, and Jonathan bore it dutifully, if not standoffishly. Whenever Celeste awoke, often with a loud scream, he jumped up and backed away while the more experienced earthlings came to her aid.
“You know she just wants someone to talk to her, right?” A young guardian angel stared at him.
Jonathan grimaced. “Did I ask for your opinion?”
The guardian lifted his hands as if defending himself. “Whoa. Testy, aren’t we?” Celeste wailed. “Hey, little girl,” the guardian cooed. “Yeah—I’d cry too if I was stuck with him.” He tickled her under her chin, and she stopped crying.
“It’s not hard to do,” the other angel said, looking sideways at Jonathan, who sank down against the wall. “She can hear you and see you, for a while at least. This is the time to build a good relationship, so she recognizes your voice and listens to you later, when you have something important to say to her.”
Jonathan rolled his eyes. Something important to say to her? What, like “Why are you still here?”
The young guardian shook his head. “Poor thing.” He looked at Jonathan. “And I’m not talking about her.”
A nurse came over to the crib beside Celeste’s and picked up a baby boy. She carried him into the next room. “He’s my client,” said the young guardian as he followed after the baby. He looked back at Jonathan. “Hey, lighten up. This is for you as much as it is for her.”
Jonathan made a face. If one more person told him this guardian angel thing would be good for him, he would scream.
Celeste cried and thrashed about in the tiny crib.
He pulled himself up and over to the crib. Now what was she screaming about? Her face was puckered up so tightly that she looked like one of those wrinkled bulldogs he had seen sitting on the crystal benches outside of HR, having brunch with the ladies. “Now stop,” he said in a voice without comfort or warmth. But she didn’t respond. “I said stop!”
She screamed louder.
“Don’t yell at her,” an icy voice said behind him.
Jonathan turned to see a female guardian angel scowling at him. Celeste continued to scream as if she were in pain.
“Well, she won’t stop.”
“Would you?” She leaned into the crib and stroked Celeste’s face. The newborn immediately calmed down and whimpered lightly. “It’s all in the touch,” the angel said, still stroking the baby’s tiny face. “Here, you try.” She said it in a commanding voice and gave Jonathan a you-better-do-it-or-else look.
He stepped forward and swiped his hand quickly across Celeste’s face like she was a credit card machine at a checkout.
Celeste let out a wail that woke three sleeping children two rooms down.
“Not like that, you barbarian!” the female guardian said. “Like this.” She gently caressed Celeste’s forehead, and then stepped back and pushed Jonathan toward the crib.
He looked down at Celeste. She did look rather pitiful—and so tiny. How would she ever survive earth? He reached in and gently touched the side of her jaw.
Celeste blinked back the wells of tears that had gathered in her eyes, and looked up at him.
“Miss Knight,” he said in a low voice, though only she and the other guardian could hear him. “Why did you choose to stay?” He shook his head. Earth life was horrible—cold and dark and just plain unpleasant. Why would anyone want to experience it? Jonathan understood that all pre-departers needed to go to earth to get a more substantial body, not like the airy one they previously had, but being marked for early death meant that you didn’t need to learn anything on earth—didn’t need to pass any tests. He looked down at Celeste. Why had she chosen to stay? He pulled the manual out of his shirt pocket and turned to the inside front cover. It still bore the early-death stamp. Even though she had not died at the first opportunity, she would still die young. But why stay on earth at all, if you didn’t need to? Heaven had everything anyone could possibly need, and it was free of crime, dirt, dishonesty, or filthy lucre of any kind. Jonathan sighed as he looked around the dimly lit, shabby room and thought of his small but elegant apartment back in heaven. He looked down at Celeste. It was tough on earth, and she didn’t even have earthly parents to help her through it. “Okay, I’ll do it, but don’t expect me to like it.”
An Up Half the Night Read
by Kay - reviewed on October 23, 2011
No Angel by Theresa Sneed joined the list of books I've read that kept me up through the night to finish. Following the life of a Guardian Angel, you get an interesting view of mortality - the effect of the choices we make which enables who has a closer access to us for promptings - the "good" or "bad" angels - and also that progression continues beyond the grave as you watch Jonathan continue to grow as he fulfills his responsibility as a Guardian Angel. There is a good mix of humor and interesting characters along the way to make No Angel a book to definitely add to you reading list. Read my full review at http://tinyurl.com/BT-NoAngel
Angels have Attitudes.
by Margaret - reviewed on April 10, 2012
No Angel by Theresa Sneed is a vivid story with a large dose of Lehi's Dream and a bit of Dante's Inferno thrown into the mix. This novel provides a somewhat irreverent look at our pre-mortal, mortal and post-mortal existence.
I like the idea of having a guardian angel
by Mary - reviewed on September 22, 2011
No Angel by Theresa Sneed is a fun fast read. I had a hard time putting it down. Jonathan Stewart is assigned to be a guardian angel for a baby girl, marked for early death. He reluctantly accepts the assignment, thinking it will be short term. Jonathan is surly, arrogant and certainly reluctant to learn from the other guardian angels also assigned to the family. As time goes on and Jonathan's back story starts to be revealed, I started having warm fuzzy feelings towards him. A trip to the underworld, and being separated from the child he is guardian for, teaches him a lot about trusting in God, praying, love and duty. I liked the idea that we all have guardian angels assigned to us throughout our lives, to help and encourage us. I would recommend this book to everyone, LDS and Non LDS alike.