With every inhalation, I could hear loose rolling mucus slide down the beast’s esophagus. The snot gargled in its lungs and then crawled noisily from his throat The smell made me gasp and cough. The winged angel who crouched in front of me winced but managed a loving scruff behind the beast’s ears anyway.

“So you are my guardian angel? I’m guessing that Gabriel had a more pressing engagement?”

The boy responded with a smile. His wings shrugged as he spoke, “Gabriel has already been to earth. Besides, he didn’t know you like I did. You and I are old friends.”

I looked at the boy squatting in front of me. “Old friends?”

“You and I were angels together before your promotion to mortality.”

I laughed at the remark. “I can guarantee that I am not, nor ever was, an angel by anybody’s definition.”

“You were. I am. And soon I will be joining you on earth as your son.”

My eyes grew wide and then narrowed. “I don’t suppose you know who the mother will be? Because I think you’re missing an important part of how things work down here.”

“You will meet her soon enough… if I can get you there in one piece that is.”

“One piece?”

“My earth mother, your future wife, she’s been hired to kill you. I’m here to teach you patience and charm. Otherwise, honestly, you don’t stand a chance.”

“I fall in love with my own assassin and you are going to teach me how to charm this woman? Honestly, I think I can handle it.”

He shrugged his wings again. “I’m not worried about her, you need to charm him.” He petted the beast absently. “He’s due to be promoted soon and will eventually end up on her leash. Since (unlike us) all animals are born with a complete memory of where they came from… it’s kind of important that you make a good first impression.”