Christmas Time

10 - When the Snow Falls Down - Minako

Angel Cooper stared at the falling snow outside her window. It’s going to be Christmas pretty soon; three weeks, to be exact. She sighed. She loves Christmases, especially white ones. She loves exchanging gifts with her family, the dinners, and the songs.

"Angel!" she heard her mother yell downstairs.

"Yeah, Mom?" she called.

"Dinner, honey," Cindy Cooper yelled again.

"Coming," Angel said, but she didn’t budge. She just stared at the snow and the leaf on the tree outside, clinging to its very life.

"Angel?" There was a knock on the door.

Angel diverted her attention to the door. "Come in," she invited.

Her father, Luke, entered with a smile. "Let’s go eat," he said.

Angel grinned at her father and turned back to the tree outside. "Look at the tree, Daddy," she said softly.

Luke stepped into the room and sat beside his daughter on her bed. "What about it, honey?" he asked.

"Look at the leaf," Angel continued.

"I can see that it’s alone," Luke observed.

"Yeah," Angel agreed, "but it’s strong. It doesn’t give up to death. Not just yet."

Luke looked at Angel and smiled kindly. "Let’s go," he urged.

Angel stood up and followed her father in the dining room.

Cindy smiled at her daughter when they came in. "Hi," she said. "How are you?"

"Impatient," Angel admitted with a grin. "Can’t wait till Christmas."

Cindy laughed. "We all can’t," she said.

"Have you two done your Christmas shopping yet?" Luke asked with a straight face. "Because I’m telling you, if I don’t get that pair of boots from Doc Martens, I’m gonna really stop believing in Santa Claus."

Angel laughed. "Oh, Daddy," she said. She stood up. "I’m gonna go put a CD in." She went to the living room and put on her favorite band, Hanson’s Christmas CD, Snowed In. When the first track started playing, Luke groaned. "Not Hanson again," he hissed to his wife.

"I heard that, Daddy," Angel called from the living room.

Cindy and Luke were laughing when Angel came back in. "Daddy, stop dissing Hanson," she said sternly.

"I’m sorry, Angel," Luke said with a short laugh. "But you always listen to them. Did it ever occur to you that your mother and I might want you to listen to other musicians?"

Angel laughed. "I listen to other musicians," she defended herself. "I listen to Jewel, and she is very fantastic. I also listen to the Spice Girls. And… and…"

"And that’s about it," Cindy finished.

Angel smiled sheepishly. "I guess," she admitted.

"We’re concerned that you might be obsessed with this band, Hanson," Luke said.

Angel laughed again. "Daddy, are you serious?" she asked between guffaws. "I’m not obsessed. Is my room wallpapered with their posters? Do I ask you to mail a bunch of letters to them? There’s a one-word answer to these two questions."

"Which would be no," Cindy said.

"Right," Angel said. "Don’t worry, I’m not thinking of committing suicide in case one of them gets a girlfriend."

* * *

"Christmas is ruined!" Zac Hanson wailed. He flopped down on his bed and groaned.

"What are you talking about?" Zac’s older brother, Isaac, asked.

Zac faced his brother with a big frown. "Mom just told me we’ll spend Christmas in New Jersey with her old-maid sister."

"Aunt Tina?" Isaac asked. "Why would we want to spend Christmas with her? She’s such a grump!"

"Refresh Mom’s memory!" Zac grumbled. "I want to spend Christmas in Tulsa."

"We all do," Diana Hanson said, entering the boys’ room. "But my sister is all alone for Christmas and she can’t afford to fly all the way to Oklahoma."

"Why not?" Zac demanded. "She’s single. She doesn’t have anyone to support. How come she can’t afford to fly to Tulsa?"

"Zac," Diana said ominously.

"Sorry," Zac said quietly, staring at his hands.

Diana sighed heavily. "I know you’ve been looking forward to go home to Tulsa, but think of poor Aunt Tina, all alone in her house, with no family."

"Who’s got no family?" Taylor, another Hanson, asked as he entered the room.

"Aunt Tina," Zac said flatly.

"We’re spending Christmas with her," Isaac informed.

"Oh, cool!" Taylor said excitedly. "I love Aunt Tina. She always gives me the greatest brownies."

Isaac and Zac looked at each other and rolled their eyes. Taylor was their aunt’s favorite of all the siblings. She said Isaac’s too mischievous; Zac’s too crazy; Jessica, their ten-year-old sister, was too much of a tomboy; and Avie, the seven-year-old, and Mackie, the five-year-old, are too wild, like Zac. Taylor, however, was just right. He can be shy, and yet confident at the same time.

"See, Tay’s excited," Diana said, trying to encourage the boys to give it some consideration.

"Mom, that’s ‘cause he’s Aunt Tina’s favorite," Zac said lifelessly.

"I am not," Taylor protested, even though Zac was right.

Isaac sighed. "What’d the other kids say?" he asked his mother.

Diana sighed heavily. "Well, I didn’t tell them yet," she confessed. "I was hoping I could get you to do it so they’ll do it, too."

Zac shook his head. "Forget it, Mom," he said bluntly.

"Zac!" Diana said desperately.

Zac shrugged. "I’m sorry, but that’s the way I feel," he said stubbornly.

‘We’ll do it," Isaac said.

Zac shot him a look. "What?" he burst out.

Diana grinned at him and gave him kiss and a hug. "Thank you, Isaac," she said. She turned to Zac. "OK, Zac, your brothers gave in. It’s just you and me."

Zac stared at his mother. "What do you mean?"

Diana suddenly fell down on her knees. "Please, Zac!" she groveled. "I’m totally begging here. Do it for me, do it for Christmas!"

"OK, OK," Zac said in defeat. "I can’t believe you would put me in such a situation. All right, I’d do it." He collapsed on his trundle bed.

Diana looked happy. "Thanks a lot," she said.

"Uh, Mom?" Taylor called before his mother left the room.

"Yeah?"

"Will we be seeing you beg like that again?" Taylor asked.

Diana winked at them. "Don’t count on it," she said. She went to her other kids’ room. "Oh, children!" she sang out in a wheedling tone.

The three guys laughed in their room. "God, I haven’t seen Mom stoop so low before," Taylor said between guffaws.

"Well, it’s Christmas," Isaac reminded them. "Give her a break."

"Hey, you done your Christmas shopping yet?" Zac asked.

"Not yet," Taylor replied easily.

"What are you getting Jessie?" Isaac asked.

"I’d probably get her an Equalizer or something," Taylor said. "You know how she’s always wanted a laptop of her own."

"Hey, let’s chip in," Zac suggested. "That way we could save."

"I guess," Taylor said. "I’m getting Avie that My Size Barbie crap."

"Yeah, she’s that size, anyway," Isaac said. "What about Mackie?"

"Maybe some Power Rangers?" Zac recommended.

Isaac shrugged. "Maybe." He paused. "I’m getting Tommy Girl for Mom, and a watch for Dad."

Zac rolled his eyes. "Aw, how sweet!" he said sarcastically.

* * *

"‘Please, sponsor a child now,’" the lady on TV said gently. She’s carrying a dirty child on her lap. "Call the one-eight-hundred number on the screen."

Angel stared sympathetically at the children on the screen. How sad for those children, she thought. She grabbed the cordless phone from the coffee table and went to her parents’ bedroom, where her mother was doing some crocheting. "Mom?" she said timidly.

Cindy looked up from her work and smiled at her daughter. "Hey, hon, what’s up?" she asked.

"Well, you know those ads on TV which solicit for poor kids?" Angel asked.

Cindy frowned a little. "I think I know where this is going," she said. "You want to donate some money?"

"Well, if it’s OK with you," Angel said.

"But, Angel, haven’t I told you that they might be illegal?" Cindy said.

"Well, yeah, but we’re also not sure if they’re not," Angel reasoned. "What if there’s really a needy child in need of our help?"

Cindy looked as if she had too many objections she didn’t know where to start, but she sighed, a sign of giving up. "Fine, get my damn credit card," she said. "But be really careful about it, Angel."

Angel grinned and kissed her mother on the cheek. "Thank you, Mom," she said gratefully. "I’d say to put all our names in the sponsor thingy."



Angel sat by the window in the living room and watched what was going on outside her house. She saw a few Catholic schools students walking home. After a while, she saw a few of her schoolmates from her school. She felt a lump in her throat.

"Hey," Cindy said, joining her in the living room.

"Hi," Angel said hoarsely.

"What are you doing?"

"Seeing what I’m missing," Angel said with a sigh.

Cindy sat down with her daughter. "Angel, do you want to go back?"

"I do, but why for, right?"

"Honey, we can make some arrangements," Cindy tried again. "It’s up to you."

Angel smiled at her mother. "Thanks, Mom, but it’s really not necessary. I’m learning the same things here at home. It’s OK. I just miss having people around."

"Well, you go out everyday, right?" Cindy said.

"True," Angel said slowly. "But it’s fine. It’s my choice so I should stick with it."

"I also want to talk to you about your going out," Cindy began another subject.

"What about it?" Angel asked.

"Are you sure it’s appropriate for your condition?" Cindy asked worriedly.

"Why wouldn’t it be?" Angel questioned. "The doctor said it’s OK for me to breathe some air from outside every now and then."

Cindy nodded. "I’m just worried, that’s all," she said quietly.

Angel smiled. "You need not be."

* * *

"Diana!" Tina Lawyer exclaimed as she saw her sister and her family coming out of the gate in the Newark International Airport.

Diana Hanson hugged her sister and smiled. "It’s great to see you, Tina," she said warmly. She gestured to the little creature pressed against her chest. "This is my latest achievement."

Tina softened and caressed the tiny sleeping baby. "Hello, ZoŽ," she said softly. She grinned at Diana. "She’s so precious." She turned to Diana’s husband and gave him a hug. "How are you, Walker?"

"I’m doing just great, thank you," Walker said happily.

Tina then turned to her nephews and nieces with caps. "How are you all?" she asked with a smile. When she received no immediate response, she huddled them all in a group hug. "Oh, I missed you all so much."

Isaac exchanged puzzled glances with Zac, who was raising his skeptic eyebrow. Aunt Tina missed them? The Aunt Tina?

"I missed you, too, Aunt Tina," Taylor said with a grin.

Tina grinned at him and turned to Isaac. "How’s the band, Ike?" she asked pleasantly.

"Uh, well," Isaac stuttered. "We’re having a vacation for the rest of the month, Aunt Tina."

"That’s good," Tina said, still grinning. She turned to Zac. "My, aren’t you growing up?"

Zac’s face was blank, but immediately pasted a smile. "Yeah, I’ve grown about three inches during the past months."

As Tina turned to the other siblings, Isaac turned to his mother. "What’s the deal? Why is she being all nice?"

"To tell you the truth, I’m kind of surprised myself," Diana said, flabbergasted. She turned to her husband. "What do you think is going on?"

Walker held up his hands. "Hey, she’s your sister," he said.

"Come on, everyone," Tina said after speaking with the kids. "My van’s waiting outside."

They all left the airport and went to the parking lot. They squeezed themselves into Tina’s mini-van. "I apologize if we’re jam-packed in here," Tina said ruefully. "I couldn’t afford to rent a bigger one."

"Oh, please, Tina," Diana said quickly. "It’s no bother, really. We’re fine."

Zac rolled his eyes. "Easy for Mom to say," he hissed to Taylor. "She’s got the front seat all to herself."

Taylor fidgeted between Zac and Jessica. "Move your hip, Jessie," he wheezed to his sister.

"Where would I move it?" Jessica snapped.

"What about San Francisco?" Taylor snapped back.

"Ssh, you two," Isaac warned his siblings. He was cramming himself beside Jessica. He noticed his other sister, Avie was sound asleep in the other seat. How he envied her! She has the seat all to herself.

Mackenzie, sitting on his father’s lap, laughed at his arguing siblings. "I’m not squashed," he teased.

"Shut up, Mackie," the four chorused.

* * *

"Sally, I’m finished," Angel said, closing her algebra book.

Sally Silver, Angel’s home study tutor, went to look at her notebook. "This is excellent, Angel." She put an A on top of the page. Angel grinned. "Well, I guess, I’m finished for today." Sally got up and put on her coat. "Don’t forget that paper I need for Shakespeare’s The Tempest."

Angel rolled her eyes. "How could I forget?" she said dryly. Then she grinned. "Tomorrow’s our last day for classes, right?"

Sally laughed. "Right," she said. "Then two weeks of fun and snowballs." They both laughed. Sally gave her a kiss on the cheek. "I’ll see you tomorrow, hon." She went out of the front door.

Angel sat by the window and waved at Sally. She decided to go out watch a movie. She went to her bedroom and put on a pair of jeans, a green sweater and her overcoat. She grabbed her wallet and stuffed it in her coat. She put on her pair of navy Vans platform sneakers. She grabbed her keys and went out.

Since the mall is just a few blocks away, she decided to walk. Cool breeze kissed her face and she smiled. She reminisced a few unforgettable moments until she arrived at the mall. She was late for the first showing so she bought a ticket for the next one and decided to stroll around the until then.

She checked her money and figured she could start her Christmas shopping today. She went to JC Penney and browsed for perfume for her mother.

"Do you have some samples of Tommy Girl?" the customer before her was asking the saleslady.

Angel sighed and went to other counters to survey other perfumes. She tried a few samples of Perry Ellis, White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor, but nothing really compares to Tommy Girl. She went back to the counter when she bumped into someone. "Ow!" she exclaimed.

"Oh, I’m sorry, miss," the person said quickly. He helped her up.

Angel was blinking her eyes. "Ugh," she said in frustration, groping the floor, "I lost my contacts." She looked up at the person. "Would you mind if you help me find them?" she snapped.

The person quickly knelt down and started looking for the contacts. "What color are they?"

"Green," Angel replied. She felt something. "I found one."

"And here’s the other one," the person said, handing her the contact lens, very gently.

"Great," Angel mumbled. "I need to clean these." She looked at the person, but the image is a little blurry. "Thanks for helping me."

"I’m sorry I made you drop them," the guy said.

Angel smiled. "I gotta go to the bathroom." She headed for the nearest bathroom.

The person stood still for a moment.

* * *

Isaac waited for the girl he bumped into, come out from the bathroom. He lowered his baseball cap every time a person passes by.

The girl finally came out, blinking her eyes.

"Hi," Isaac said.

The girl looked up, still blinking her eyes. "Yes?" she sniffed.

"Are you OK?" he asked.

The girl laughed. "I’m OK," she said, sniffling. "My eyes are just irritated, that’s all." When she felt her contacts are finally adjusted, she looked up again at Isaac, but her smile disappeared, replaced by an awed expression.

Isaac held his breath. Uh-oh, he thought desperately, she recognized me. She’s gonna scream.

The girl smiled warmly. "Say, aren’t you Isaac Hanson?" she said in a quiet awed voice.

"Uh, yeah," Isaac said.

"My gosh," the girl gushed. "I can’t believe you’re here. What are you doing here in New Jersey?" Then she paused. "I’m sorry. It’s none of my business." She took out her wallet and took a small piece of paper. "Could you just please sign this?" she asked calmly.

"Uh, I guess," Isaac faltered. This girl knows how to handle excitement, he thought. "Oh, I don’t have a pen."

"Me neither," the girl said. "Oh, wait." She disappeared for a moment then came back. "Here, the saleslady loaned this to me."

Isaac grinned. "What’s your name?" he asked.

"Oh, Angel," the girl replied with a big smile.

Isaac signed the paper and gave it to her.

Angel grinned. "Thanks so much, Isaac," she said gratefully. "I’ve got to go." She started to walk away.

"Oh, Angel?" Isaac called.

Angel turned around. "Yeah?"

"You didn’t, by any chance, tell anyone I’m here, right?"

Angel shook her head. "No," she said.

"Thanks," Isaac said with relief.

Angel smiled. "No problem," she said.

"And Angel?"

"Yeah?"

"I’m sorry I bumped into you," Isaac said sheepishly.

Angel’s smile creased a bit. "You’re the moron who bumped me?"

Isaac moved toward her with a sheepish smile. "I didn’t mean to," he reasoned.

Angel was just quiet for a moment. "Well, I guess it’s OK," she finally said. "I mean, it’s not like it’s all your fault. I wasn’t watching where I was going, too." She grinned again. "Well, see ya!"

Isaac smiled as he watched Angel almost hopped all the way to where she was going. Interesting.



Angel stopped for a moment and stared at the autographed paper. Isaac Hanson really is nice. She thought for a moment. Why did she let him go? She could have invited him to the movie. Oh, she very much wanted to kick herself for not seizing the day. She turned back to find Isaac. If he refused, so what? She could just stay home for the remainder of her life, kicking herself, crying and kicking herself again—

"Ow!" Angel bumped into someone again. She looked to see who it was and was very surprised to see it was Isaac. "Isaac!" she almost screamed. Then she tried to compose herself. "I mean, hi," she said more gently.

Isaac grinned. "Do you want to clean your contacts again?"

Angel laughed. "Don’t worry," she said, pointing to her eyes. "Still glued on." She took a deep breath. This is it. "Um, actually I was looking for you."

"Why?"

"Well, I was going to ask you to see a movie, but if you don’t want to, just say so. I mean, I wouldn’t be hurt at all. I would just stay out of your way, stay home if I must. That would be totally fine and—"

"Angel, Angel," Isaac interrupted her.

"Yes?" Angel asked, turning pink after realizing she was babbling so much.

"I’d like to go to a movie with you," Isaac said.

A huge smile spread over Angel’s pink face. "Really?"

Isaac nodded. They walked to the theater. "So what’s your last name?"

"Cooper," Angel replied. "I guess I shouldn’t be asking you the same question, huh?"

Isaac laughed. "So, Angel, how come you’re not at school?"

"Well, I’m home-schooled," Angel replied.

"How do you like it?"

"It’s fun," Angel said truthfully. "But I kind of miss having people around."

"Miss?" Isaac asked. "You used to be in a public school?"

"Private," Angel corrected. "But I’d rather not talk about it."

"Oh, sorry," Isaac stammered. "Ask me some questions."

"Well, if it isn’t personal," Angel began, "what are you doing here? I checked out your tour dates and it didn’t say you’re coming here."

"Well, we’re on a Christmas break, you see," Isaac explained. "We’re visiting a relative."

"Oh, how fun," Angel said with a smile. "So how long are you gonna be here?"

Isaac shrugged. "Probably a couple of weeks or so," he said.

"Oh, that’s good," Angel said. She nodded at his cap. "Disguise?"

"I was kind of hoping so," Isaac said, lowering his cap even more.

"Well, no one really notices anyone here, especially on schooldays," Angel said. "So how come you’re not with your brothers? I thought you’re always with each other."

"I decided to fly solo today," Isaac said. "I want to explore the city alone."

"OK," Angel said. They stopped in front of the ticket booth. "I kind of bought my ticket already."

"That’s OK," Isaac said. "What’s the movie?"

"Jack Frost," Angel said.

"Did you know that we sang a couple of songs in that movie?"

"I know, don’t worry," Angel said with a laugh.

* * *

"Where do you live?" Isaac asked a couple of hours later. Angel announced she was going home. "Maybe I could take you."

Angel shook her head. "I think that wouldn’t be necessary," she said. "I’d rather walk." She smiled at him. "Thanks for watching the movie with me, Isaac. You made my life a little bit more worth living." She put on her hood and walked out of the mall.

Isaac watched her disappear and went to the parking lot, where his aunt’s other car was parked. He started the engine when he remembered something. "Oh, man!" he whined. "How stupid of me!" He forgot to ask Angel for her number. He’s been wanting to do that ever since the movie, but she was too fixed on watching it.

He decided to look her up in the book.



"Hi," Isaac said to the phone later that evening, "may I speak to Angel, please?"

"Speaking," the girl on the other line said pleasantly. "Who’s this?"

Isaac sighed with relief. "Oh, it’s Isaac," he replied.

"Isaac?" Angel said in a puzzled tone.

Uh-oh, Isaac thought in panic, it must be the wrong Angel. "Uh, yeah," he said slowly. "You know, um, Isaac, um, from the mall?"

Angel was quiet for a moment. "Oh, yeah, Isaac Hanson," she said with a laugh. "How did you know my number? I didn’t give it to you."

Isaac was starting to feel she didn’t want him to call. "Oh, well, you’re not busy, right?" he asked. "I didn’t bother you, did I?"

"Oh, not at all," Angel replied. "It’s just that I was wondering how you got my number."

"Well, I got it from the book," Isaac replied. "Well, if you don’t want to talk, just say so."

Angel laughed. "No, I’m sorry if I sounded abrupt," she said. "Wait a minute, do you realize how many Coopers there are in this area?"

Isaac snorted. "You’re telling me. I must have had at least twenty wrong numbers before I got yours." They both laughed.

"So what made you call me?" Angel asked. "I didn’t lose my contacts in your popcorn, did I?"

"No," Isaac said, still laughing. "Well, I just wanted to chat. I mean, if it’s OK."

"Sure," Angel said.

* * *

Angel opened her closet and stared at her clothes. She had to choose her outfit carefully for this meeting with Isaac’s family was pretty important. There was a knock on the door. Angel sighed. "Come in," she said.

Cindy came in. "Hi, what are you doing?" she asked.

"Picking out an outfit," Angel said casually.

"For what?"

"Well, I’m gonna meet this guy’s family tomorrow after dinner," Angel said cautiously.

"What guy?" Cindy asked worriedly. "Have we met him before?"

Angel grinned. "Oh, Mom, you have met him plenty of times before," she said.

"What are you talking about?" Cindy asked confusingly.

Angel laughed and walked over to her CD collection and picked out a Hanson CD. She pointed to Isaac Hanson. "See him?" she asked her mother. "That’s the guy, Isaac. They’re in town for a couple of weeks and we met at the mall today. He was the one who called a while ago, too, and he asked if I wanted to meet his family. I, of course, said yes."

Cindy frowned. "And you didn’t even bother to ask for your father and my consent?"

Angel’s smile disappeared. "I thought it would be OK," she reasoned. "It’s just going to be a couple of blocks away."

"But, Angel, we don’t even know him," Cindy argued. "How do we know he’s not a rapist?"

Angel burst out laughing. "Mom!" she exclaimed, slightly embarrassed to hear her mother’s assumption of Isaac.

"Well, how do we know?"

Angel stopped laughing. "I do, and he’s nothing like that," she said sincerely. She went back to her closet. "And besides, he’s coming over to pick me up tomorrow, so he can also meet you. And it was his idea." She paused. "I wouldn’t have an idea like that. How could I let him meet my parents, who don’t trust him?" She looked at her mother meaningfully.

Cindy frowned. "I’m just worried." She sighed. "Fine, do it. Just have him meet us first." She paused at the doorway and turned to her daughter. "Angel?"

Angel turned away from her clothes and looked at her mother. "Yeah?"

"It sounds like you like him," Cindy began, "and he seems like a nice boy. Don’t get too attached, though. I don’t want to see you, or him, get hurt." Without waiting for an answer, she let herself out.

Angel pondered about what her mother had just said, and went back to choosing her outfit for the next night.

* * *

"Well, did you invite her to dinner?" Tina asked Isaac in an excited voice later that night.

Isaac blushed slightly. "Well, yeah, but she said she had made a promise to her mother to make dinner. She’s coming over to meet the family, though."

"Who coming over to meet the family?" Taylor asked, coming into the living room.

"This girl I met at the mall today," Isaac replied nonchalantly.

"What girl?" Taylor screeched.

"Take it easy, Taylor," Isaac said. "She’s a nice girl, Angel Cooper."

Taylor narrowed his eyes. "Angel might be a good name, but we don’t know if her personality’s the same name. What if she’s a psycho or something?"

Isaac gave him an odd look. "She’s not like that," he assured him.

"How do you know?"

"I can feel it," Isaac said simply.

Taylor gave his aunt a Typical-I-can-feel-it-reason look. Tina just shrugged. "I hope you know what you’re doing, Ike," Taylor cautioned.

Isaac smirked. "You’re just jealous because I got the girl this time," he said. "And she’s not one of those crazed ones who totally threw themselves at your feet." He walked out of the room.

"Me? Jealous?" Taylor snorted to his Aunt Tina.

Tina smiled. "Maybe you are," she said.

"No way," Taylor said quickly. "Why would I be?"

"Maybe Ike’s right," Tina said. "He’s got the girl this time, not you, the heartthrob."

Taylor thought for a moment, and then shook his head. "I don’t think so," he said. "Besides, I didn’t go out today. Who knows how many girls would come over if I did?"

Tina slapped him on his arm. "Taylor!" she exclaimed.

Taylor laughed. "I’m just kidding, Aunt Tina."

* * *

Angel opened the front door, and outside Isaac stood in his overcoat. "Hey," she greeted him with a smile.

Isaac returned the grin. "Hey," he said.

"Come on in," Angel said, opening the door wide.

"Thanks," Isaac said, coming into the house.

They went to the living room, where Luke and Cindy were waiting. They both stood up when Isaac came in. Luke offered his hand. "Isaac," he said.

Isaac gave Luke’s hand a firm shake. "Pleased to meet you, sir," he said. He shook Cindy’s hand, too. "Ma’am."

"Just Luke and Cindy," Cindy said quickly. "So, Isaac, it’s great to finally meet you."

Luke laughed. "It sure is," he said. "You have no idea how many times I’ve hoped for this moment ever since Angel started singing your songs in her dreams."

Angel turned pink. "Dad!" she hissed, embarrassed.

"I’m sorry, Angel," Luke said. He became serious. "Well, you take care of her and bring her back safely."

"Yes, sir, I mean, Luke," Isaac said. He and Angel grabbed their coats and went out of the house. They walked to the parked van and Isaac opened the door for Angel. "Hop in, my lady," he said in a phony English accent.

"Why, thank thee, kind sir," Angel said, taking a curtsy. She climbed into the van and Isaac started the engine.

"Did you really sing our songs in your sleep?" Isaac asked with a laugh.

Angel chuckled. "Oh, I don’t think so," she said. "Although I did have a couple of dreams singing with you guys."

"Well, I hope you like my family," Isaac said, turning around the corner.

"Oh, I’m sure I would," Angel said with a smile. "Um, would it be OK if they sign my scrapbook? I brought it with me, you know, just in case."

"Oh, that would be fine," Isaac assured her.

* * *

"Someone’s here!" a girl screamed from inside the house.

Isaac looked sheepishly at Angel. "That was my sister, Avery," he explained. "She’s so hyper for a girl."

Angel smiled. "That’s better than not to have a sister at all," she reminded.

The door opened and Tina smiled at both of them.

"Aunt Tina, this is Angel Cooper," Isaac introduced them.

Tina hugged Angel. "Nice to meet you, sweetie," she said warmly.

"You, too, um, Tina?"

Tina grinned. "Tina Lawyer."

They all went inside and met the whole Hanson family in the living room, watching TV.

Diana stood up and walked over to Angel and Isaac. "You must be Angel," she said. She gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Welcome."

Angel grinned. "Wow, thanks. I never knew people could be so friendly."

Walker shook her hand. "It’s Christmas. It’s gotta affect somebody."

"These are our kids," Diana said. The Hanson kids stood up as though they were trained to do so.

"I’m Taylor," Taylor said, shaking her hand.

Zac shook her hand as well. "I think you know me, right?" he said.

Angel laughed. "I would say so." She turned to the other siblings. "This must be Jessica." She shook Jessica’s extended hand.

"Hi… Angel?" Jessica said. Angel nodded.

"I’m Avie," Avery said enthusiastically.

Angel kneeled down and shook her hand. "Why, hello, Avie. Angel here." She turned to the boy next to Avery. "Mackie, right?"

Mackenzie smiled. "Yeah." He ran to the other room bashfully.

Angel laughed.

Avery ran after him. "Mackie, that was rude!"

They all laughed. "So, Angel, take a seat," Tina invited.

Angel sat beside Isaac on the couch.

"So, how was school?" Diana asked.

"Um, I’m home-schooled but it’s great," Angel said, "Today being my last day before Christmas vacation."

Walker smiled. "Did you know that the boys are home-schooled, too?"

Angel nodded her head, smiling. "I kind of know that now," she said.

"You’re a senior, too?" Taylor asked.

"Yeah."

"Do you have a boyfriend?" Jessica asked directly.

"Jessie!" Diana and Walker exclaimed.

"No, it’s OK," Angel assured them. She turned to Jessica. "No, I don’t have one," she said.

"Ike doesn’t have one, too," Jessica proclaimed.

Angel looked at Isaac with a puzzled smile. "Uh, I think I’ve read that somewhere, Jessie," she said.

"You said it," Jessica agreed. "You must have read it from different magazines that couldn’t say another thing about them."

Angel laughed. "I’d say so," she said.

"So, Angel," Zac said, "how come you don’t have a boyfriend?"

"Zac!" Diana and Walker exclaimed again.

"I was just curious," Zac defended himself. "Besides, if it’s too personal, she could just say so."

Angel smiled again. "Well, looks like the guys are no longer available, Zac," she said with a wink.

Zac laughed. "I know what you mean," he said.

Diana looked at him. "You know what she means?"

Zac gulped. "Oops, gotta go now," he said, standing up and running to the other room.

"Are you planning to go to college?" Taylor asked.

Angel’s smile decreased a bit. "Well, if it’s possible, yeah."

"What will you be majoring in?" Walker asked.

"Maybe computers or creative writing," Angel replied.

"Oh, you write?" Isaac asked, interested.

"Not songs, just poems and stories," Angel said shyly.

"Just?" Taylor said incredulously. "That’s so cool."

"Really?" Angel asked with a smile. "A lot of people would say it’s too bookish, nerdy even."

"Hey, Isaac’s writing a science fiction novel," Walker said.

"Dad, Isaac’s really a nerd," Taylor said.

"I am not," Isaac protested.

* * *

"It was so nice meeting you guys," Angel said openly later that evening.

Diana gave her a goodbye hug. "Same here, Angel," she said. "Visit us again in a few days."

Angel grinned. "I will," she promised. She walked to the door with Isaac when she turned back around. "Um, I was kind of hoping you could sign this for me," she told Taylor and Zac, taking her scrapbook out of her backpack.

"Sure, it’s no problem," Taylor said, taking the scrapbook and signing it. He tossed it to Zac. "Don’t slobber all over it," he told him.

Zac rolled his hazel eyes. "He’s such a blockhead," he said to Angel.

"Thanks a lot," Angel said when the two finished signing the book. "I’ll see you around."

"Um, Angel?" Taylor called before she went out.

"Yes?"

"You wouldn’t happen to have any friends my age, would you?" Taylor asked timidly.

Angel laughed. "I’ll be sure to put the word out, Taylor," she joked.

"Funny," Taylor retorted.

"Bye!" Angel said as she closed the door behind her. She and Isaac went to the van. "Your family is so nice."

"Oh, it’s just because there’s a visitor," Isaac said with a laugh. "Investigate later and find out the real us."

Angel laughed. "Oh, in times like this, I couldn’t help wishing I have siblings," she said quietly.

"Well, sometimes, I couldn’t help wishing being an only child," Isaac said.

"Let’s just be thankful for what we have," Angel said wisely.

"Hey, you’re the one who started this self-pity session," Isaac said.

Angel laughed. "You’re killing me, Isaac," she said.

After a while, they reached Angel’s house. "You wanna come in for a minute to drink hot chocolate or something?" she asked before getting out of the van.

Isaac smiled. "I thought you’d never ask," he said, stopping the engine.

Angel grinned as they walked to the doorstep of the house. She turned her key and let Isaac and herself in. "Let’s go," she said, leading the way to the kitchen.

"Where are you going to college, Isaac?" Angel asked as she prepares the hot chocolate.

"Well, it’s still unclear," Isaac said, looking around the spacious room. "I’m still not sure what to major in, yet."

"Well, I read you’re interested in filming," Angel said, setting the mug down in front of Isaac.

"Thanks," he said. "Well, yeah, but I don’t know. You know, music is my life."

"Do I ever!" Angel said. "You always say that, like, every appearance you’ve got."

Isaac laughed. "Well, I have to make sure, y’all got it, y’know!"

"Oh, I had so much fun," Angel said after a while, still laughing.

"Me, too," Isaac said with a smile. He looked at his watch. "Well, I better get going."

Angel smiled. "Oh, already?" she asked. "Well, it’s nice to spend the day again with you, Isaac Hanson. You don’t know how much this means to me."

"Likewise, Angel Cooper," Isaac said. "I hope I can see you again."

"Same here," Angel said. They walked to the front door and Angel opened it to let Isaac out.

"So, I’ll see you around?" Isaac asked almost hopefully before going back to the van.

Angel grinned. "When?"

Isaac grinned back. "How about tomorrow at the mall?"

"I’ll be there." As she closed the door, Angel felt a sharp pain cut through her head. She went quickly to her bedroom and took a couple of pills. The pain lingered until she fell asleep.

* * *

"What time is it?" Isaac asked anxiously to his brother.

"Relax, Ike," Taylor said breezily, eyeing the jacket in the Oaktree Store. "She’ll show."

"Where’s Zac?" Isaac asked.

"He’s in that video store over there," Taylor said.

Isaac watched the entrance and brightened when he saw the hooded brunette take off her hood. She flashed him a smile. "Hey, guys," Angel said. "Sorry, I’m late. I need to see the, uh, this someone."

"That’s OK," Taylor said. "This is one cool mall you have here."

"Well, you know, Taylor," Angel said casually, "I do try my best to give these customers of mine the satisfaction."

"Yeah, right!" Taylor snorted. "Sure, Angel, you own the mall. We own all of Tulsa."

"Whatever, Taylor," Angel said, rolling her green eyes and then laughed.

"Let’s watch a movie," Isaac said.

"Sure, what’ll we watch?" Zac asked, joining them. He grinned at Angel. "Hey, Angel."

"How’s it going, Zac?"

"OK, I guess," Zac said with a shrug.

"You know what, let’s skip the movie," Taylor said suddenly.

"Why?" Zac asked.

Taylor shrugged. "Oh, I don’t know, maybe we could just walk around," he said casually, glancing at a girl reading a magazine on a bench.

Angel followed his gaze and grinned. "I can see Taylor’s point," she told the others. "Let’s go, Taylor." She locked her arm in his and marched to the girl.

"What are you doing, Angel?" Taylor hissed.

"We’re taking a walk," Angel replied. They stopped in front of the girl. "Hey, Mary," she said.

Mary Lawrence looked up from her book and smiled at Angel. "Hey, Angel, what are you doing here?"

"Christmas break," Angel said. "How about you?"

"I decided to skip school today," Mary said. "We’re half a day today anyway."

"Ahem," Taylor said.

Angel laughed. "Oh, Mary, I want you to meet a friend of mine," she said, nudging Taylor.

Taylor extended his hand. "Jordan," he said.

Mary smiled. "Mary Lawrence," she said, shaking Taylor’s hand.

"OK, I’ll leave you two now," Angel announced. Taylor sat down beside Mary and Angel walked to the two remaining Hansons.

"I can’t believe him," Isaac said in disbelief.

"Oh, Isaac, he’s young, let him enjoy," Zac said in a mature voice. He turned to Angel. "So, Angel, got any hottie for me?"

Angel laughed. "Open your eyes, Zac," she said. "There might be someone I know that attracts you."

"Should we watch a movie?" Isaac asked.

"I’d love to," Angel said.

Together, the three of them walked to the theater.

* * *

After a week, Angel became close friends with the trio. Never in a million years would she have thought she’ll meet her favorite band, let alone be good friends with them. She always comes over at their aunt’s house, if not Isaac, Taylor and Zac come over to her abode.

"You again?" Taylor asked in a straight face when he saw Angel standing in front of their doorstep.

Angel grinned widely. "Nice to see you, too, Taylor," she said.

Taylor grinned. "Come on in," he invited.

"Hey, Ike," Angel said as she found Isaac watching TV. She sat down on the floor. "What are you watching?"

"Full House," Isaac replied. "They’re always re-running this show. Look, Candace Cameron is ten years old again."

Angel laughed. "Well, good thing I brought over some videos then." She opened her backpack and pulled out a couple of videocassettes.

Zac poked his head in the living room. "Did I hear videos?"

"No, I think you heard CD ROM," Taylor retorted.

"Cool, Deep Rising," Isaac said. He put the video in and they watched it.

After a while, Angel felt a painful sensation in her head. She clutched her backpack and stood up. "Excuse me, guys," she said. "I need to go to the bathroom." Without waiting for an answer, she quickly led herself to the bathroom. She took out her pills and drank a couple of them. She waited for a few minutes, but the pain still remained. She took a couple more of her pills. It still hurts.

Angel closed her eyes and dropped her head on her hands. "Please be gone now," she prayed silently.

There was a knock on the door. "Angel?" It was Isaac. "Are you fine?"

"Y-Y-Yeah, Ike," Angel managed to call out. "I just got something in my contacts. I need to clean them out."

"OK," Isaac said, walking away.

Angel sighed and continued to pray that the pain will go away.

* * *

"What’s wrong?" Taylor asked when Isaac came back into the living room.

"I don’t know," Isaac said quietly. "But there is, I just don’t know what."

Zac laughed suddenly.

Isaac and Taylor shot him a look. "I don’t see anything funny, Zac," Taylor said sternly.

"Sorry, Tay," Zac said, still laughing, "but I just realized something today."

"What?"

"Ike likes Angel," Zac said, then laughed some more.

"I do not," Isaac said, turning his attention to the movie.

Taylor and Zac looked at each other. "You’re lying," Taylor said. "You do like her."

Isaac turned red. "I do not like her."

"Oh, come on, man," Zac said. "We’ve known you our whole lives. Every time you deny something, it always turns out to be true."

"I do not like her," Isaac said once again. "Now can we please drop the subject before she hears us and thinks we’re complete freaks?"

Taylor and Zac exchanged knowing smiles. "Whatever you say, dude," Taylor said casually.

After a few minutes, Zac stood up. "Hold on, I gotta do something," he said. He went out of the living room.

"What’s he up to?" Isaac asked in a puzzled tone.

Taylor shrugged, but smiled. "How should I know?"

Isaac shook his head and returned to the TV.

* * *

Angel still feels the pain, although it reduced a bit. She decided to go home, and let this pass by sleeping.

She put her pills back in her backpack and went out of the bathroom. She went to the living room with an apologetic smile. "Sorry, guys," she said. "I think I gotta go home."

"Why?" Zac asked. "You missed half of the movie."

Angel smiled again. "I just need to do something. You can borrow the movies until tonight."

"What’s wrong, Angel?" Taylor asked worriedly.

Angel forced a laugh, which caused her head to ache more. "Nothing, I just forgot to do an errand for my mother."

Isaac stood up from the couch. "I’ll drive you home," he offered.

Angel shook her head. "That’s OK," she said. "Fresh air will do me good." They walked to the front door.

Zac immediately pulled Taylor. "Come on," he said hurriedly.

"What the…" Taylor said in a puzzled tone, following his brother.

Isaac and Angel were talking at the front door.

"Ahem," Zac said loudly.

Angel and Isaac turned to him. "Yes?" Isaac asked.

Zac grinned devilishly and pointed to the thing above the doorframe.

Isaac, Angel and even Taylor glanced to where he was pointing—a mistletoe. Taylor grinned and gave Zac a high-five.

Isaac glared at his brothers. "That wasn’t there yesterday," he hissed.

"I know," Zac said teasingly.

Isaac glanced down uncomfortably at Angel, who was then becoming uneasy as well.

"Uh, goodbye, you guys," Angel said quickly.

"Wait!" Taylor said before she even stepped her foot outside the door. "It’s the Christmas law. You two gotta kiss."

Isaac and Angel looked at each other nervously.

"Come on," Zac said in a wheedling tone. "It is a law."

"Really?" Angel asked uncomfortably.

Taylor and Zac nodded wisely.

Isaac gulped. "You up for it?" he asked Angel.

Angel felt her headache intensifying. "Well, if you are," she said. "And as long as it never goes out?" she added, looking meaningfully at Taylor and Zac.

Taylor and Zac pantomimed zipping their lips.

Angel took a deep breath. Isaac did so, too. He leaned down slowly and gently kissed Angel’s soft lips.

Taylor and Zac stared in awe. They’re really doing it.

Angel suddenly felt a sharp pain cut through her brain. She never had that before. "Ow!" she cried, pulling away from Isaac. Her hand grasped her forehead.

"What’s wrong?" Isaac asked worriedly. For a moment there, he thought there was something wrong with the way he kissed, but then he realized something was terribly wrong with Angel.

"Um, my head hurts," Angel replied with a forced laugh. She grinned. "Well, I guess I gotta go."

"Wait, are you sure you don’t want me to drive you?" Isaac asked, worried that Angel might pass out while walking home.

"That’s OK, Ike," she said. She turned to Taylor and Zac. "Pretty sneaky, you guys. Don’t tell anyone." With that, she went out.

Isaac watched as Angel disappear to the street. He closed the door and faced his brothers. "What the hell was that?"

"Hey, don’t blame me," Taylor said quickly. "It was Zac’s idea."

"Zac?" Isaac asked angrily, stepping toward his brothers.

"Yes, it is," Zac said evenly. "And I think I regret it now. You made her sick."

Taylor burst out laughing.

"I did not make her sick," Isaac said, shooting Taylor an angry look. "Looks like she’s down with something."

"Yeah, with Ike’s killer kiss disease," Zac said sarcastically.

"Look, it wasn’t my idea to kiss her, OK?" Isaac said. "It was yours. For all I know, if she did become sick because of my kiss, it’s still your fault."

"But you gotta admit," Zac said bubbly, "you liked the kiss."

Isaac was about to protest, but he did like the kiss. "Well, I guess," he said casually.

Taylor and Zac exchanged high-fives and laughed.



Angel turned her key and let herself into the house. She felt so weak. "Anyone home?" she managed to yell. No response.

She went to the living room and removed her coat. And everything turned black.



"Hi, Cindy, it’s me Isaac," Isaac said bubbly later that night.

"Oh, hi, Isaac," Cindy said in a hoarse voice.

"Um, is Angel there?" Isaac asked, sensing something’s wrong.

"No, she’s not here," Cindy said throatily. "She’s at the hospital."



Angel opened her eyes and saw a blurry vision she was glad to see. "Hey, Isaac," she said weakly.

"Don’t try to talk," Isaac advised gently.

Angel smiled. "Couldn’t stop," she said. "Where’s Tay and Zac?"

"They’re at the cafeteria downstairs," Isaac said.

"They’ll be mobbed," Angel said.

"They’re wearing disguises," Isaac said with a wink.

Angel laughed softly, but she then coughed violently.

Isaac rubbed her back. "I told you not to talk."

Angel smiled when she finally controlled her coughing. "Sorry," she mouthed. "Where are my parents?"

"They went to get some of your clothing," Isaac said. "Um, listen, Angel, I need to tell you something."

Angel grinned. "A secret?" she murmured teasingly.

"Hardly," Isaac said with a laugh. "My brothers know about this. In fact, they made me realize it."

"I’m dying here, Ike," Angel said. "Spill it."

Isaac became serious. "I really like you a lot, Angel," he said solemnly.

Angel’s smile faded. "Really?" she said softly.

"Please don’t hate me," Isaac said.

Angel laughed. "I don’t," she said. She paused. "Um, I really like you, too, Isaac," she said earnestly.

"You’re not just saying that to be nice, are you?"

"No," Angel said. "I did so even before I met you. And when I finally did, I didn’t have the courage to tell you because I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I was aware you’ll just be staying her for a couple of weeks."

Isaac smiled. "There is this thing called mail, you know," he said.

"I know," Angel said.

"So, does this mean that you and I are…" Isaac began.

Angel cut him off. "No," she said firmly. "I don’t think it means anything."

"What?" Isaac said confusingly.

"I’m sorry, Isaac," Angel said apologetically.

Isaac became silent. Then he took a deep breath. "That’s OK, I understand," Isaac said coolly. "You tell me that you like me then say it doesn’t mean anything. So the kiss was really superficial to you, huh?"

"No, you don’t understand at all," Angel tried. "Listen—"

"No," Isaac said, standing up. "You made your point. There’s really nothing here. It was nice meeting you, Angel Cooper. I hope you get all better." He walked to the door and let himself out.

"No, Isaac, wait!" Angel called. "Listen to me!" But Isaac was gone.

* * *

"Let’s go, you guys," Isaac said to his brothers.

"Great!" Zac said. "I can’t wait to see An—"

"No, we’re going home," Isaac interrupted.

"What?" Taylor said. "We haven’t seen her yet."

"I said, we’re going home," Isaac said stiffly.

Taylor and Zac exchanged glances. Something’s wrong. "OK, we’re going home," Taylor said, standing up.

They walked to the parking lot in complete silence. Taylor and Zac could sense Isaac was angry.

"What’s wrong, Ike?" Zac asked softly as they got in the van.

"Nothing, so shut up," Isaac said harshly, starting the engine.

"You didn’t have to blow him off," Taylor defended his little brother.

Isaac gave him an icy glare. "Be quiet, Taylor," he said.

Taylor was about to fire him something, but Zac touched his shoulder, telling him not to. Something’s bugging Isaac and if he’s angry, it’s better to leave him cool off or nothing good and helpful can come out of it.

The three of them drove home with no word whatsoever coming out from each other’s mouths.



"Isaac, are you OK?" Tina asked, stepping out into the patio. Her nephew has been there for a couple of hours now.

Isaac didn’t want any company, but he just couldn’t blow his aunt off like that. "I’m fine, Aunt Tina," he said steadily.

"Did Angel reject you?"

Isaac shot her a look. "Who told you that?" he asked. Then the image of his two brothers flashed in his mind. But then he remembered they didn’t know what happened in the hospital, not even his plan to tell Angel that he liked her.

Tina sat down beside him. "No one, just an instinct," she said. "Talk to me, Isaac."

Isaac sighed heavily. "I told her I like her, and she said she likes me too," he began. "Then she told me it doesn’t mean anything. That nothing can grow out of it."

"Do you really like her?" Isaac nodded. "There must be some reason. I mean, she did admit she likes you, too."

"But what could be the reason, Aunt Tina?" Isaac asked.

"Ask her," Tina advised. "She’ll tell you."

"How do you know?" Isaac asked.

"I can feel it," Tina said.

* * *

Angel stared out the window of her hospital room. It was snowing again. She remembered the leaf in the tree outside her bedroom window. She began to wonder what happened to that leaf? Did it give up? Is it lying underneath the snow?

"Angel?" a voice from the door said.

Angel diverted her attention from the window to the person. "Isaac?" she asked. It was a blurry vision, since she’s not wearing her contacts, but she’s certain of that voice.

Isaac was carrying a single pink rose. "Can you ever forgive me?"

Angel softened. "I was never mad at you," she said softly. "I would’ve acted the same way."

Isaac placed the rose on her pillow. "No, you wouldn’t," he said. "You’re not a jerk like me."

Angel laughed. "You just don’t know me that well," she said.

Isaac sat down beside her. "Then let me know you," he said. "What’s wrong?"

Angel became serious. "I don’t know if I should tell you."

"I deserve to know," Isaac said.

Angel looked out the window again, the snow was falling steadily. "Can I ask you something?"

"Sure."

"What comes to your mind when you see the snow?"

"Well, I usually feel happy when I see snow," Isaac said. "I feel sheltered when I see snow. I sometimes like it more than the sun."

Angel turned to Isaac. "Really?" He nodded. She held his hand as tears stung her eyes. "Isaac, I like you so much. And I very much want for us to be together, but it’s just not possible."

"Why?" Isaac asked as he squeezed her cold hand.

Tears fell from Angel’s eyes. "Isaac, I have AIDS."

* * *

Isaac felt an H-bomb has just been dropped on himself and just exploded. AIDS? he thought. "What?"

Angel nodded. "I had it since I was fourteen. But it’s not what you think," she added quickly. "I wasn’t sleeping around. I wasn’t into drugs."

"Then how’d you get it?" Isaac asked.

"Blood transfusion," Angel replied, tears falling from her eyes. "I had leukemia, and they gave me a dirty blood."

"Did you sue the hospital?" Isaac asked. He wasn’t sure whether to feel sorry for her, or to be relieved that she wasn’t sleeping around to get the disease.

Angel laughed through her tears. "Did we ever! But it’s changed nothing really. I’m still sick."

Isaac squeezed her hand. "Is that what’s keeping you from letting us be together?" he asked. "I don’t care if you have it."

"Isaac, don’t you get it? I’ll die."

Isaac tried to laugh. "No, you’re not," he said. "Not in forty more years, at least."

"Isaac, I already have full-blown AIDS. I may never live to see New Year’s."

"Don’t say that," Isaac ordered, trying hard not to cry.

"I’m sorry," Angel said quietly.

"No, you won’t die."

Angel just cried softly. "I love you, Isaac," she said.

Isaac stood up and gave her a kiss. "Don’t leave me," he said, tears flowing down his cheeks.

"I don’t give up yet," Angel said with a smile. She looked out the window. "I just felt sheltered."

* * *

"We are gathered here to celebrate the coming home of our dear friend, Angel Cooper, to our Lord God," the priest said solemnly. It was the day after New Year’s Day.

Cindy and Luke were crying uncontrollably as they stared at the coffin that contains their daughter. Isaac and his family were standing beside them.

Isaac still remembered that Christmas…



"OK, open your eyes," Isaac said.

Angel opened her eyes and grinned at what she saw. Isaac was holding out a present. "What is it?"

"Open it," Isaac urged.

Angel tore out the gift wrapper and inside was a framed photo of her, Isaac, Taylor and Zac. It was taken from their first trip in the mall. "This is great," she said. "It’s the best gift ever. Honest."

Isaac grinned.

"Ike," Angel said.

"Yes?"

"Please promise me you’ll remember me whenever it snows."

Isaac looked at her. "I promise." He gave her a kiss. "I love you."



"Are you OK?" Taylor asked Isaac as the rites were finished.

Isaac nodded. "I will be," he said. "You go on ahead. I’ll just see how her parents are doing." He walked to Angel’s parents. "Hi."

Luke tried to smile at him. "She was a great daughter."

"She was a great girl," Isaac said with a smile.

"She was always talking about how she’ll meet you one day before she dies," Cindy said between her tears. "She always comes up with these schemes, and she even calls radio stations to win your concert tickets, but she never won. I once told her that there’s only one in a million chance she’ll meet you." She smiled at Isaac. "And do you know what she told me?"

Isaac slowly smiled. "She never gives up yet."

Cindy smiled and hugged him. "You were a great friend to her." She and Luke stood up. "We best be going. Please write to us."

Isaac nodded. "I promise." He watched Cindy and Luke walk to their car. He walked to the coffin. It’s still not lowered down. "I’ll miss you, Angel," he whispered. "I love you so much."

Suddenly, it began snowing. "I love you, too, Isaac," he heard.

Isaac smiled.

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