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TITLE: One Hero - Book 1 of the Guardian Angels
By Dimple Suit

Hello -

This is to be for 4th grade and up - young adult. It has been through a couple of revisions after a critical review. This is chapter 1 of book 1. Long term vision is 6 books/6 angels and charges/6 spiritual values.

I am looking for feedback on message, readability, dialogue, point of view (no head hopping in section), opening hook and chapter hook.

As the formating is not letting me place italics for the thought passages or change the color, I have added a bracket { } at the start and end of those. Hope it is not too distracting.

I thank you for your time and am honored to receive your feedback. May you have a blessed day.

In Peace ~ Dimple Suit
One Hero
Book 1 of the Guardian Angels

“What do you mean I’m to be teamed with Stephen? There’s no choice in the matter?”

“Come on now Dylan. I need to be able to count on you here. We are short of Guardian Angels and the trainees are coming up sooner rather than later. The only way to guarantee success is to have them mentor with the seasoned Guardians. You’re the best I have and Stephen is the brightest student in his class.”

Dylan looked out of Matthew’s office to the commons room on Cloud 109. Stephen was just coming in the door. Stumbling on his robes, bumping over a chair, and then hitting his head on a table when he bent to pick up the chair confirmed Dylan’s impression the guy was a klutz. Sighing he turned to look at his friend and boss of many years. “Matthew. He may be the brightest but he is the most awkward angel I have ever met. If he ever does get his wings, he will most likely lose feathers when he closes them in a door. How in the can you ask me to work with this guy?”

“I’m not asking you Dylan. I am not debating with you either. Just get to it.”

“It’s because of the reprimand isn’t it? Mentoring Stephen is to be my penance? Aren’t you afraid I’ll steer him wrong? That he may need to save me when he should be protecting his charge?”

{Why do you do this to yourself Dylan? You know Matthew has his orders and he cannot show favorites. Let it go. Just hush and do as you’re told. The past is concrete and cannot be re-done. Don’t be grumbling and causing the boss trouble. No matter what, Matthew is still your friend.}

Matthew sighed as if he could not get a cleansing breath. “Forget I asked boss. I don’t think I want to know.” {Just make sure there is understanding, I am not okay with this assignment pairing.}

Matthew stared at Dylan for several moments. “Message received.”

As Matthew opened the door, Dylan watched through half closed eyes. {Received without an escape clause. You haven’t felt my pain or walked my path.}

{Nor you mine.} Dylan heard Matthew as he called out the door, “Stephen? Would you join us please?”

As he started toward Matthew’s office, Stephen’s notebook slipped from his hands. Papers scattered all around his feet. Scrambling to get them picked up and back into his binder, his glasses fell off as he started to rise. He stepped on them before he realized they were on the floor.

Stephen desperately tried not being clumsy. He so wanted to be a Guardian. He wanted to impress his teachers with his skills and eagerness, not his gawkiness. His thigh caught the corner of a table just before he got to the door causing his feet to slip from under him. “Thanks,” he mumbled as Matthew caught him before his face hit the floor.

Seeing Dylan sitting in the boss’s office, smirking at him, Stephen felt his stomach drop as he tripped, again. {Oh no. Please not this. Not him. How did I stumble in to this situation?}

“Thank you Dylan and Stephen for joining me this morning. You are both getting an assignment where you must team for a successful resolution. Stephen you are mentoring with Dylan as you work your mission. Dylan, I expect you to assist Stephen until such point you need to reveal yourself to your charge.”

Matthew looked at the angels. He greatly admired both of them. They had a lot to learn from each other. Communicating without words, Matthew spoke with each angel separately.

{Dylan, I expect you will grow to like Stephen. If not like him at least respect him. Like you, he is smart and innovative, at the top of his class. He will be going in to the Guardianship finals with an above average score for completed tasks. Chances are he will be the valedictorian at graduation. Give him the opportunity to learn from you. Try to remember we have all been new at this once. Recall your first assignment before getting your wings. Give him coaching but not reprimanding. Trust your instincts to teach him what he needs to be successful.}

{Stephen, Dylan is a good Guardian. He is the best we have and you will learn a lot from him. Be open to suggestion but do not be afraid to question. I suggest those questions should be around implementation or style, not procedure or motive. Should you need clarification on an instruction, ask for it. Pay attention to his guidance and follow your instincts about the boys’ talent. Employ the help others offer him. Remember, not only will this count toward your finals for getting your wings, more importantly, you are there to guide your charge to find strength.}

A screen lit behind Matthew as he began to lay out the tasks before Dylan and Stephen. They saw a jeans clad youngster with collar length brown hair sitting in history class. Greg Jamison was daydreaming. They could hear his thoughts and feel his joy at being a hero. As Matthew explained the boy’s situation and the expectation of results for their mission, they watched Greg begin to draw in his notebook.

{You do not yet know the value you each bring to this mission. I am releasing the broad-mind frequency so you both may use your telepathic skills. This will serve you well in this errand. From this point forward not only will you hear Greg, you will feel what he feels. Don’t forget, he's grown up fast in the last few weeks. It is up to you to guide him to a greater understanding of himself.}

As Stephen and Dylan headed out the door, Matthew gave them a bit more information. {Failure is not an option on this one. I will be watching you. Godspeed.}

{Oh great. Now you lay that on me too. Failure is never optional; it just happens sometimes.} Dylan forgot Stephen could hear him. He reached over to steady the trainee when his shoulder hit the doorjamb. Rolling his eyes, Dylan threw out a mocking, “Am I going to have to teach you to walk first?”

{Control it Stephen. Breathe deep. This is not about you.}

Stephen heard Matthew’s advice. He tried to follow it. For all of a few seconds anyway. He simply could not prevent the flow of words in response to Dylan’s attitude. “You might,” Stephen snapped back to Dylan. {Maybe you can teach me the use of sarcasm too.}

Matthew tuned in to both angels as he watched the interchange from his office. Closing the open circuit to the Dylan and Stephen, he pondered his decision. {Have I made a terrible error in leadership? Is Dylan ready for another assignment? What about the responsibility I have placed on Stephen? I feel he is up to the challenge. Will he be able to get through to Dylan?} Shaking his head, he sat down to draft a memo to the executive board to explain his actions.

Greg Jamison stretched to ease the soreness in his arms and back. It had been a late night for him. He was chopping wood for the fireplace after helping his sister Angela with her homework. Dad was in his usual sour mood and Mom was working leaving him to make dinner too. As he searched through the pantry, Greg realized he would have to be creative to get Angela something she would eat.

Greg did not complain about the situation at home. He understood all teenagers have stress. Everyone experienced issues with friends, teachers, parents, peers, homework, lots of homework, siblings, and home situations that lead to more pressure. He pushed through the fear valiantly keeping his home life away from school. There was no need to burden anyone else with it. Besides, it was private. Personal; he could handle it alone.

{The weatherman said it would be bitterly cold tonight. I just hope we have enough firewood. I hope Mom has time to pick up groceries. I hope we don’t get too much homework so I can help Angela with her science project.}

Greg knew his worries would crowd his mind to the point of claustrophobia. Consciously shaking them off, he focused on the lesson. Greg loved history and his teacher, Miss Williams. He enjoyed the fact she “got it”. She knew how to make history memorable and exciting. Like today. She would portray a character from history as she told stories about the period they studied. He could see the joy throughout the room as she wandered around telling about the Crusades and dressed as Maid Marion.

Curly blond hair, green eyes, and an outfit she could wear to the Renaissance Festival was not a distraction to her teaching, it was an illumination. It did not matter that half the males in the school had a crush on Miss Williams. What did matter was her teaching style leading them all to get interested in history as well as remember significant events.

Greg found the Crusades fascinating and Miss Williams made them come to life with her delivery of today’s lecture. She looked happy as if there was nowhere she would rather be than skipping around a fifth grade history class with flute and pipe music softly playing in the background. For a time, immersed in the adventures of knights, Greg could put aside his concerns. Pride filled him as he imagined himself in the hero role.

{I am Knight Greg the Determined. I will save my family from oppression. Charging up a hill on my mighty steed, standards snapping in the wind, I will rescue the fair maiden. My thick shield and jeweled sword will protect me as I make my way to the castle where I will find her unharmed. I will receive treasures upon her safe return to her beloved. I will secure my status with the guard. I will put food in the larder.}

As Miss Williams droned on, moving about the room performing as she taught, Greg found himself not only wrapped up in her story and his fantasy but doodling as well. Greg loved to sketch. He found solace in his drawings. Happiness was greatest when he was with pen and paper creating his own world. Feeling eyes on him, Greg looked up to see Miss Williams at his desk. His neck and face heated with embarrassment when she asked, “What’s this?”

{Uh-oh. Busted! Again.} “Just drawing attention to my notes.” {Good one buddy. How lame is that?} The intensity of the blush deepened when his classmates snickered. How he wished he could hide somewhere on the page of his drawings. Miss Williams winked at him, easing his embarrassment before continuing with her tales of life in the middle ages.

{Whew! Got away with it. I wonder if she would be the woman in the castle.}

Miss Allison Williams loved to teach and it showed in her style. Bringing history alive for the students whether with costume, food, or stage prop had become her trademark. As she moved around the classroom in her peasant costume, she saw how they were mesmerized in the story she was telling. She saw herself much like the farmer she was describing to them. Only she sowed seeds of wisdom and nurtured them for learning, reaping a crop of intelligent young people retaining knowledge of the past as they embraced their futures.

Allison had been creating stories for a long time. They were an escape for her. Perhaps they were for others as well. When she fantasized herself in to a role and played the part so her students could experience the past through entertainment, she felt more alive and free than ever. History was a wonderful subject. She could talk for hours without running out of anything to teach.

Allison glanced at the clock as she moved by Greg Jamison’s desk. She realized she would need to start wrapping up her tale to have time to give the class homework. Glancing down she saw his doodles were very intricate. Stopping to ask what they were was all the time she could afford to give him. {Drawing again. He is so good at it too. Is this his way of escaping? A way to live in the fantasy of his art?}

“The scenes in films and television have given a certain romance to the Crusades. Scholars show us the impact they had on religious orders, European culture, Eastern medicine, trade routes, and the progression of civilization came at a great cost to the people. The Crusades lasted for hundreds of years. Thousands died or became slaves, bartered or sold to advance war.

The settings in movies have given the impression of knights with armor and women with jeweled gowns. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Only the landed gentry had riches to display. These riches were usually in the form of peasant workers, servants, land, or animals. Most of the population was poor farmers, tradesmen, or shopkeepers. Would you expect to see a peasant woman in clothing like mine?”

She was pleased there were “No’s” and shaking heads around the room.

“Illusions of grander times created by Hollywood are ways to glorify a particularly dark time in history. Even their clothing was dark in color and drab. The Crusades helped to bring Europe out of the Dark Ages. They brought enlightenment to the culture but at a great cost. I challenge you all to remember this the next time you watch an action adventure set in the Middle Ages.” That should do it she thought with a smile. “Are there any questions?”

When no hands rose, Allison felt she had accomplished weaving the story in to today’s lesson. She had wrapped it up with the facts she wanted the students to remember. Bet you would be proud of me now Dad. “Ok then. Tomorrow we will be talking about the effects of the Crusades on weaponry. Read chapter 7 tonight and be prepared to discuss it.”

As the bell clanged, Allison called out “Class dismissed.” She moved to the door to wish her students a good rest of the day. She did this every day. She felt it may be the only smile or encouraging word some of them received all day. Placing her hand on his shoulder, she stopped her pupil with a polite “May I have a moment of your time Greg?”

Once the room cleared, she closed the door and moved to one of the desks. Motioning for Greg to do the same, she wanted him to look her in the eye. Instead, he hung his head, refusing to look up. “Do you know why I asked you to speak with me?”

“Yes Mam.” Allison strained to hear Greg’s barely audible reply as he spoke to the chest of his red tee shirt.

“I don’t think you do. I bet you think I want to talk about your artwork in class. Am I right?”

Piercing brown eyes filled with confusion and fear met her green ones. {That got his attention. It shouldn’t scare him though. What has him so afraid?}

“Actually Greg, I am concerned about you. Distractions happen to all of us from time to time. You seem to have more than your share lately. What’s happening with you to draw you away from the excitement of our history class?”

Stephen and Dylan were in the classroom. Unseen and not yet linked for two-way communication with mortals, they could transfer information with each other, feel Greg’s emotions, and hear the confusing thoughts tumbling in the kids mind.

{The boy is talented I will give him that. Maybe this is a way to break through to him Stephen. Give him visions to incorporate in his drawing.} Dylan gave serious direction only to discount it with laughter. {Like the knight falling off the horse or tripping over his sword.}

Breathing deep, Stephen chose not to jump at the jibe. He wanted to. Oh how he wanted to respond with a snappy comeback. He realized Dylan had made a brief connection to the students when they all laughed together. Deducing his thoughts might communicate to Greg, the last thing Stephen wanted was cause the boy more embarrassment. He smiled at Dylan. {Greg does have a unique gift. Using that to help him is precisely what I had in mind.}

Stephen got a scowl from Dylan causing him to laugh. Air caught in the back of his throat and Stephen began to choke. Without Dylan’s forceful slap on the back, Stephen might have given himself away. {Am I to be the fool forever, the bumbling idiot sidekick?}
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