Brighten Place – Gabriel’s POV By Annie Rose Welch **Exclusive**

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The Crossroads Teaser

Yesterday was Evangeline’s day to share her story, today Gabriel is going to tell us about how he and Eva started on this journey together.  They are giving us a little something to keep us patient until The Crossroads releases.  I will let Gabriel take it from here.

Brighten Place
The beginning journey of Evangeline and Gabriel
Gabriel’s Story
Annie Rose Welch

I am in love with the stars in the sky. I’m drawn to their small flickers of light. They seem so small, but in reality, they are infinite. Their light might be just a flicker to the eye, but it is infinite to the soul. They are just specks, yet they seem to brighten the entire sky, revealing something so real that is just out of touch, creating paths and journeys and new worlds. But in this moment, those stars are not that out of touch. I feel that if I were to stretch my hand, I could feel them. I can pull one down and throw it like you would a rock into the water. They seem warm and cool, close but distant, all at the same time.

So many flickers light up my darkness; I feel almost dizzy from them. They are weaved around me, like a blanket, covering the night sky. I stare at them so long and so hard, I know when I look away, their light will become part of the light in my own eyes.

I like that.

I stretch my hand, barely touching, skimming. My hand trembles and I pull away before I can feel…something. Their light almost seems forbidden, as if it would be a punishable offense to dare to touch what is supposed to stay clean and infinite, what is supposed to stay mysterious.

Do I dare touch what is so out of touch? I’m not sure I’m brave enough to reach beyond what I know.

I bring both of my hands up, making what looks like angel wings of my hands. I move them in an outward circle motion, continually bringing them back together. I’m nothing but a touch away from something that seems so reachable, but could actually be so far away.

Stars, they can be tricky, their depths.

This time around, I extend the circle, moving my arms with the motion. I laugh at myself. I almost feel like I’m making snow angels with the stars. I wonder if I’m creating a path for myself. I wonder if they are leading me somewhere.

I cock my head to the side and stare into the depths of the unknown.

Heaven. That’s what this place seems to be. Heaven. All I need to add to my heaven is my four-leaf clovers and my guitar, Mirror. But maybe I don’t need anything. Except what is here. I feel as if I can stand here for centuries and never look away. I want to be here, with whatever is with me, with whatever is not with me.

I’ve never made much sense. But here, I make all kinds of sense.

Heaven. I remember my mum talking to me about heaven. She always told me that heaven was a place that we create from our own love. Actually, she called it the stairway to heaven that was created by our love. Everything we loved the most. It becomes us, she had said. This is why she said we must always love the soul with our entire being. Not the physical, but the things you cannot see, the things you must have faith in to believe could possibly be true, like these stars.

Who would’ve thought?

My mum and granddad explain a lot of me. They explain all of the parts of me that I don’t even understand. My granddad told my mother about this stairway to heaven, and she passed it along to me. This is not exactly proper conversation when talking to other guys and my brothers…

My brothers. The thought of them somehow pulls me forward.

I close my eyes. I stretch my hands a little farther. I make my circles a little bigger. I feel like a bird amongst the stars. “Blossoms appear in the land. The time of the songbird has arrived. The cooing of the mourning dove is heard in our land. The green figs ripen. The grapevines bloom and give off a fragrance. Arise, come, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me,” I sing.

A star shoots across the blackness, fading when it comes to the end of the sky. I can see its light, stretching, stretching, burning, and then disappearing. It takes a moment for me to adjust to the night again when I open my eyes. I rub them, hoping some of it fades. When it does, I see that it wasn’t a star, but a bird, or maybe an angel.

Can angels fall?

I run toward the fallen thing, feeling the same kind of pull I have to my brothers, and when I approach I see that it’s not a bird, but a beautiful girl. She’s wearing a pink dress. She could possibly be an angel. I’ve never seen one, but from my imagination, she seems to have come to life. Or wherever we are.

Her eyes flutter open, and she holds her arm close to her side. She’s keeping still. I can tell she’s afraid of me.

“It’s okay,” I say. “It’s okay. You’re all right. I’m not going to hurt you.”

“Yes, you are,” she barely gets out.

“I’m not. I promise.” I move in closer. I extend my hand out to her, wishing and wanting her to take it, just so I know what she feels like. Her skin seems so soft and pure. She’s cool and warm, just like the stars. And I wonder, while I keep my hands outstretched, if she will consume me, if touching her is punishable. Somehow I feel she’s worth the risk.

She turns her head, narrowing her eyes. She seems to be trying to make sense of me, of this strange situation. She stares into my eyes, and I feel my cheeks blush with embarrassment. But I don’t turn away. I can’t. My world is suddenly still.

“What do you want with me?” The sound of her voice washes over me, making me feel ticklish.

I’m not sure what to say. I walk around her, wondering. “I don’t want anything. I felt you needed me. I saw you fall and I wanted to help you is all.”

“What are you doing here?” she asks. “I’ve never seen you before.”

I stop moving. I stare back at her. “I’m not sure what I’m doing here,” I whisper. “Where am I? Should you have seen me before? ’Cause I’ve never seen you before, either. But I feel like I know you.”

She seems to have all of the answers. And even though I ask, I know she’s not going to tell me. She’s just as mysterious as the stars that surround me. Mysteries never reveal themselves, not until the right time.

She shakes her head. “I can’t tell you where you are.”

“Why not?”

She shrugs. “If I do, you’ll go away.”

“You don’t want me to go away?” Please say no…

“Not yet.”

“You like me?” I feel my face go hot again.

“I didn’t say that. I want to figure you out is all.”

“You talk funny.” I look down at her, and she looks up at me. Her eyes are so innocent, but powerful. She has the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen.

“So do you,” she says.

Do I dare touch what is so out of touch?

I wanted the stars to consume me. I want her to consume me more than the stars. I don’t understand any of this, really. All of my answers rest with her somehow.

I lower myself to the ground, placing one hand behind her head. “I’m going to help you up.”

I help her sit up, and her face is pale. She doesn’t look well. It looks like she’s just stepped off of some kind of dizzying ride. Her wavy hair falls around her in a messy way. Her eyes glisten with hidden tears. I can tell she wants to cry, because her lip gently trembles. My heart is breaking. I don’t want her to feel this way—ever. I reach out my hand to touch her arm. She winces.

“I’m so sorry.” I wipe away the tears running down her cheeks, using my fingertips to trace the lines of them, not wanting to hurt her, wanting to show her that I care for her. “Keep your wing close to you; maybe it won’t hurt as bad.”

“What do you see when you look at me?” she asks, the slight hiccup in her voice noticeable.

I close my eyes, seeing her again. I know I will see her for the rest of my life. Just as the light has been burned into my memory, so has she. It’s her light I will always see when I close my eyes. But I can’t tell her I think she’s an angel. Angels are perfect, just like her. She’s gorgeous beyond anything I’ve ever seen before. But how embarrassing would it be to tell her that? I don’t have the courage to say the words. A bird is an easier way to go. Explainable. Understandable. Neither of what she is.

“I saw a beautiful bright bird, flying against the stars at first. But now when I look at you, I see a beautiful girl wearing a pink dress.” When I open my eyes, I hear music floating through the stars. It almost sounds like it’s filling the empty spaces between them. “Do you hear that?”

“Hear what?” She quiets; her eyes seem a million miles away. She nods after a few seconds. “Yes, it’s music. Not the music I first heard when I crashed. It’s Otis Redding.”

“Who?”

“You know, Otis.”

“Never heard of him,” I say.

“Mère calls him ‘the baby maker.’” She shrugs and I do, too. “That’s all I know about him.”

“I like this baby maker,” I say. “I’ve never heard anything like it.” I hold my breath as I sit down next to her, hoping she can’t tell how nervous she makes me.

As I sit with her, I want to laugh. She seems to be sniffing in my direction. I try to act like she’s not, so I stare ahead into the distance, following her eyes. In the quiet, in what feels like those moments just before you fall asleep at night, bugs that flicker like the stars start to dance above our heads. It seems like they’re moving in tempo to the music. They’re the most fascinating things I’ve ever seen.

I hear a small gasp, and not wanting to catch her sniffing at me again, I keep my eyes forward. She takes my hand, squeezing it tight. I’m unsure of what to do. I’ve never held hands with a girl before. This is so unusual, but I love the way her hand feels in mine. It makes me feel strong, like if I wanted to, I could protect her. I sit a little taller. I wrap my fingers around hers.

I sing parts of the song playing. I’m whispering it, actually. I don’t want her to hear. I haven’t built up that much courage. I’ve never sung to anyone before.

“That’s not nice,” she says. “If you have a secret, keep it to yourself, but don’t whisper anything when someone else can hear. That’s just nothing but rude.”

“Okay, okay,” I stutter out. “You are sweet, very sweet to me. You are like cake and ice cream. I wish I could sing and play a song for you.”

“Then I’d melt.” She giggles.

Something inside of me races to catch something inside of her when she laughs. I feel as though I’ve chased her love across the sky, just to be with her in this moment, until my dying breath. She stops laughing and her eyes turn serious, her lips turning down in a pout.

I want to make her smile. “You are like sugar and spice and everything nice then.”

“You don’t even know me. I’m not that sweet. Ask anyone.”

“What’s your name?”

She shakes her head. “I don’t tell strangers my name.”

“I’m just a kid,” I say, trying to hide the hurt.

“Me, too.”

“Why do you think I’m strange?” I jump up, away from her. I look down, willing her to tell me the truth. I don’t want her to think I’m strange. Not that I care. Well, maybe I do. I don’t mind being strange, but it bothers me that I’m worried she won’t like me because of it. “Why?” I ask again.

She looks at me, her eyes hazy. She seems like she is going to float away with the bugs any second now. “Why what?”

“Why do you think I’m strange?”

She stares at me for a moment. There’s that look again. She’s doing…something to me. I don’t think she’s trying to figure me out. I’m really not sure what she’s doing. That’s a mystery for you. Finally, she nods toward my head.

“My hair?”

She pinches her fingers together. “A little.”

“What else?”

She nods to my head. All. She momentarily stops at my chest. Of. Then she nods to my feet. Me.

“All of me?” I feel like the wind has just been knocked out of my lungs by her words. I turn away from her. She doesn’t like me because I’m strange. I can’t run away from it. Never. I’m always cast aside. I kick at nothing, to hide my shame.

I hear her moving, and despite how strange she thinks I am, I turn back to her. I don’t want her to leave. I help her rise from the ground, and somehow our faces are closer than ever. She seems dazed again. Her eyes seem sweet and gooey, like the most perfect of sweets. I’m feeling kind of light headed.

“I’m sorry,” she says, not a tremble in her voice. “I didn’t mean it the way you think I did. I don’t think you’re strange in a bad way. No, no.” She shakes her head. “I mean you are strange in a beautiful way. You are strange like the stars and the moon, or the tide of the Mississippi river, or my grandfather trying to play the guitar. I like you.”

“You do?” I stare at one of the bugs instead of her. It’s easier. It’s like she can see straight into my soul.

“I really do.” She pauses. “Why are you so touchy about being different, anyway? Different is special. There is nothing wrong with being you.”

“I get made fun of a lot,” I say.

“They’re just jealous of you.” She’s making it sound like it’s funny.

“Me?” I laugh. “Why would they be jealous of me? What do I have that they don’t?”

She touches my shoulder. “Everything.”

I feel every inch of my skin pucker. I turn to her and wonder, with all that I am, why has she come here? Why has she come to me? Why is she still with me? I never, ever want to lose her.

I don’t notice my head is tilted until I notice hers is. “Can I see you again?”

“I don’t know. If you can find me again, I say, yes.”

My heart sinks. “How am I going to find you? I’m not sure how I even got here.”

“I don’t know.” She shrugs. “Maybe you should retrace your steps, feel your way to me…follow the stars.”

My heart rises. “Maybe I’ll become one. I’ll be the biggest star on the planet, just for you.”

“That would be nice. Everyone would know your name and you could go anywhere, see anything. I’m sure you could find me then.”

“Why won’t you tell me where we are?”

“Because I really don’t know,” she whispers. “Mère says one day I will, but I have to find my own way. I haven’t found it yet. And I can’t control it. If I tell you, you might go away. So, can we just say that we are at a place of bright beginnings?”

I nod, yes. “Why were you afraid when you were staring at the light?”

“My aunt, she died. I see her in this place sometimes. I don’t want to see her anymore. She frightens me, because why am I in the same place she is?”

I tell myself to do it. Just do it, sucker. I take her hands in mine. Her hands somehow feel like mine, and mine hers. I can’t tell the difference between hers and mine anymore.

“I don’t know. But don’t be afraid, cake and ice cream, sugar and spice and everything nice.” Now I sound like a pansy! But I remind myself it’s just her and I. No one else. I feel like I can say anything to her and she’d never laugh at me, or judge me, even. She’ll never cast me aside like the rest. “When you’re afraid, just think of me. I promise I will chase all the bad away. I will come back to you. I will find you again. I will always find you when you need me. I swear it, and I never make a promise I cannot keep.”

“You promise you’ll always be the boy in my dreams?”

“I promise, each and every day. Will you always be the girl of mine?”

She holds our hands up. “I promise.”

“But—but I want you there, too. Not just here. I want you here and there. I want my cake and ice cream, with sugar and spice and everything nice.”

“Then you have to go back. If you do, I cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye, I will love you there, too.”

Where should I go back to? All I’ve ever wanted is here. Here, in my heaven, with her. In a way, she is my heaven. My stairway. Somehow she has become me. I think over her words. Then I feel something funny in the pit of my stomach, and it feels like a whole bunch of those bugs are lodged in my throat, burning me.

“You love me?” I whisper.

“Mère told me the day I fell in love, I’d see lightening bugs. Our love would light them, like a hot flame to a candle. I see them. So this must be love.”

I know what I have to do. She loves me! “I’ll go back then.”

“I have to go now,” she says.

I can see it in her eyes—she doesn’t want to. They seem sad, and there goes that lip again. It’s trembling ever so softly. It’s almost unnoticeable. But I notice.

“No, please don’t. Please, don’t leave me,” I beg. “Why do you have to go?”

“I don’t know that either. I just know I feel it when I have to go. I’m being pulled.”

I can feel her slipping away from me. But I have to know something. Anything! I can’t lose her. “Wait! You didn’t tell me your name!”

“Does it matter?” The light shines in her eyes, and she seems a bit…mischievous. Just that would get me into a whole bunch of trouble. And she seems to know this. She sucks in her lips and her cheeks puff. Then she starts to giggle.

I smile and she stops laughing. She stares at me for just a second before she backs away.

“Bye, bye, bright moon boy.” Her voice seems to float.

“Wait, I am going to fly you home…you can’t fly.” I don’t even know what I’m saying! I just want her to stay. And if she is an angel, then I’ll be one for her. I’ll be a star, a bright moon boy, and an angel, whatever it takes to find her, to keep her.

“You can?” She seems surprised.

Me too. But I can’t stop now. She has to believe it just as much as I do. “You can’t make it home safely if you can’t fly. And you can’t stay here, like you said. You’re not supposed to stay here. I don’t want you here. I’m not supposed to be here either, not for long. I know that now, because of you. Let’s go.”

I take her in my arms, where she’s safe and warm, and I jump from the spot where I had found her. I bring her closer to me, hoping that we become one, and I never have to be just…me, ever again.

I hear my name being called. It’s soft at first, almost as soft as the tinkling of piano keys. The voice is far away, and as it continues it gets louder, until it feels like a nuisance.

“Gabriel.” A little louder. “Gabriel.” Until. “Gabriel! Gabriel! Wake up! You have to wake up now!”

My eyes flutter but refuse to open. I feel a soft hand caressing my head. My back is on fire. It feels like it’s melting from pain. “Where do you live?” I mutter.

“Wake up, ma angel. Come for me. Don’t forget me. Please, find me. Find me again. I’ll guide your steps. Follow the stars. Follow your heart and don’t question it. I’ll be here, waiting for you. Always. I love you, bright moon boy.”

“I know you do. I’ll be back. I promise I’ll find…”

“Gabriel. Gabriel. Gabriel!”

My eyes fully open to a harsh reality. All I can remember is a woman calling my name. That voice will forever stay with me, haunting and loving me. But there is something more. So much more. Maybe if I just follow the stars…

My eyes shut with the weight of my heart. I lost so much. I lost my brothers, and looking at my mum, I see I’ve lost her, too. But the voice tells me, the only reason I’ve opened my eyes tells me, that I’ve found something that will forever change the course of my life. I found something not of this world that I will forever be connected to, through some kind of message written in the stars.

Thank you so much Evangeline, Gabriel, and Annie Rose Welch for these special two days over here at Not Everyone’s Mama!

<3 <3 <3

The Crossroads
The Crossroads

what it's about

How do you get there, darlin’? Well, na’, you start by taking Brighten Place. Follow that road all the way down to Marigny Street. After you travel a little distance you’ll come to an old Red Dirt Road, and that road will take you even further, to Lotus Blossom Lane, but you’ve already been that way. Na’ you’re exactly where you should be, darlin’. You’ve arrived at The Crossroads of your life.

Gabriel Roberts is the most famous movie star in the world. He has everything one man could ever want. He has everything except the one thing he feels will fulfill his purpose and complete his life.

Raphael Rose is dying of pneumonia. As he waits on the waning clock of mortality to chime, he has a story to share. One of star-crossed lovers he has never lost hope for.

Two doors down, Madam Catalina has her own story – a shocking past, a love of a lifetime left undone.

Locked behind the doors of Charity Hospital during Hurricane Evangeline, the tangling of souls has unraveled and left each of them at the crossroads of their life. And in the end, whichever road they chose will lead them home.

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marigny street

MY REVIEW OF MARIGNY STREET

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red dirt road

MY REVIEW OF RED DIRT ROAD

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lotus blossom lane

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annie rose welch

meet the writer

Born and raised in New Orleans, Annie has a habit of shortening her words and telling long stories. She speaks with a southern flair and cooks with it too. At the tender age of twenty- one, she hitched up her wagons (took her first plane ride) and moved out west to the big shake (California). Her writing career began one sleepless night when she imagined a gorgeous woman and a man with maniacal hair floating above her like lightening bugs falling from the sky. Curious about them, their story, and why they were floating around in her head, she sat down and penned (typed) her first novel, Marigny Street. A dream come true for her, she hasn’t stopped writing since. She loves a damn good love story, always has, no matter what the genre. She is particularly moved by imperfect love that in its own unique way is perfect, the notion of love at first sight, soul mates, and things that are generally out of the norm.
When she’s not writing she enjoys dabbling in photography and finding new, inspirational music to add to her collection. She currently (still) resides in the big shake (although her southern roots are calling her home) with her husband, daughter, and their two peculiar dogs, Boudreaux and Tabasco (who, call her crazy, bark with an accent).
For lagniappe (a little extra), a virtual cup of café au lait and beignets, please visit Annie’s website:www.annierosewelch.com

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