Goodness released a pent-up sigh. Dealing with Gabriel often required persistence. “I realize you find this difficult to believe, but I’m something of an expert in matters involving the heart. Remember last year?”
“I’m not likely to forget it,” the archangel muttered. “I was nearly sent back to singing with the choir because of you three.”
Goodness ignored his comment, which she was sure was a gross exaggeration.
“Promise me you’ll keep your hands off of Hannah and Joshua,” Gabriel warned, “otherwise I’ll have you restringing harps for the rest of your days.”
The threat was an empty one, and Goodness knew it.
“Did anyone hear me?” Shirley asked excitedly. “I actually located Brynn Cassidy. Don’t you realize what a miracle that was in this crowd?”
“I heard you,” Gabriel told her with a sour look. “Miracle or not, you won’t be working with Brynn Cassidy. The schoolteacher needs far more help than you can offer. You can’t work with Brynn and those kids from the high school. I have another assignment waiting for you,” Gabriel insisted with a hard edge to his voice.
“It’s a take-it-or-leave-it situation.”
Goodness feared that Shirley was about to blow it. She was relieved when the other angel snapped her mouth closed. At times, Shirley could be downright argumentative. If Shirley made the mistake of debating this Brynn Cassidy issue, the archangel just might pull all three of them out of New York City. Goodness didn’t want that to happen just when matters were beginning to look promising.
Without being obvious, she scanned the dispersing crowds, hoping to catch a glimpse of Hannah and Joshua. She found them strolling through Central Park, deep in conversation. The two were oblivious of everything around them. They made a striking couple, she mused, immeasurably pleased with herself. Archangels might be high-and-mighty creatures, but they knew little of dealing with humans and love. When it came to affairs of the heart, Goodness was far more knowledgeable than Gabriel. The problem, and admittedly it was a big one, was convincing him of that.
Joshua wasn’t sure what had happened to him. He’d suggested this walk in the park with Hannah for purely selfish reasons. The Thanksgiving Day parade had been enjoyable, but it hadn’t been nearly as much fun until Hannah had joined him.
He remembered her with a clarity that surprised him. She was the daughter of the deli owner. When he’d claimed her father made the best pastrami in town, he hadn’t been exaggerating. Over the last few years he’d visited the deli a number of times, but generally he had his lunch delivered. Hannah might well have been to his office.
Hannah was a delicate creature, beautiful in ways that struck a man’s soul. She wasn’t like the crisp, business professionals he knew and worked with on a daily basis. She inspired him with her gentle goodness. Although he’d never met the man she was with—Carl, if he remembered his name correctly—already he found he didn’t much like him. If Joshua had become separated from Hannah in a crowd, it would have taken a lot more than a little congestion for him to stop searching for her. Hannah hadn’t said a lot, but it was obvious Carl didn’t enjoy parades.
Joshua had taken Hannah’s hand while strolling through the park. The snow had long since stopped, but the afternoon remained crisp and cold. A perfect winter day.
The moment their hands linked, Joshua experienced a faint stirring of emotion. Faint stirring, nothing, he mused with a bleak smile. It felt as if someone had punched him in the stomach with a pipe iron.
He wondered if this was the woman he’d been searching for all these months. He certainly hadn’t expected her to be the daughter of a deli owner. It didn’t matter, he decided. Who was he to question fate? They’d met, and being with her, laughing, joking, talking, had felt instinctively right. Never had he been more comfortable with anyone.
It embarrassed him, the way he couldn’t stop staring at her. She had such beautiful eyes, but then everything about Hannah was beautiful. She was guileless and genuine, and when she looked up and blinked, Josh swore he could see all the way to her soul.
“We’ve been talking all this time and I never asked where you work,” Hannah commented.
“I’m an attorney.” He would have mentioned the name of the law firm, one of the most prestigious in Manhattan, but he didn’t want to sound as though he were bragging. Knowing Hannah, he doubted that it would impress her. More than likely she wouldn’t recognize the name of the firm.
“A lawyer.” She said this as if the information distressed her.
“You don’t like attorneys?”
“No, it’s not that. I think there are some wonderful attorneys, only . . .”
“Yes,” he prodded.
“My parents were recently involved in a frivolous lawsuit, and my dad’s convinced the real culprits in the case were the lawyers. I’m afraid he’s developed something of a prejudice, but I don’t think that will last long.”
“Good. I’d hate to get off on the wrong foot with your family.”
At the mention of her parents, Hannah looked at her watch. “Oh, dear,” she said anxiously. “I didn’t realize how late it was.” She took several steps backward. “Thank you for a wonderful time. I’m sorry to rush off like this.”
She’d turned and was speed-walking away from him before he’d had time to react. “Hannah,” he called.
She spun around.
“I’d like to see you again.”
Her eyes were wide, and she seemed to hesitate. Joshua decided it was best not to press her.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ll stop in at the deli and we can talk about it then.”
She nodded abruptly, and it was plain she was in a hurry to get away.
“If it’ll reassure you, I’ll avoid mentioning I’m an attorney.”
Her beautiful eyes brightened with a soft smile before she hurried out of the park. Josh buried his hands in his pockets and ambled along the walkway toward Cherry Hill Fountain. He kicked lazily at burnt orange-colored leaves.