I walk down the boardwalk casually observing the people around me. As wonderful as every place in Los Angeles County is, this is my favorite place. This is where celebrities and wannabe celebrities come to slow down and enjoy themselves. It’s where it’s easiest to people watch. It’s easy enough to people watch on the sidewalks and streets of L.A. and Hollywood, but it’s harder to distinguish the actors from the people. At the beach, fewer people are acting and most are just being themselves.
I smile as I walk past a cute young couple who can’t be older than sixteen because I know that it’s true love. If I were to predict their future, then I’d see their wedding day, their happy children, and them sitting together at ninety years old and more in love than ever. So many people around us and they’re the only two people in the world.
As I walk past the couple, a cowboy catches my eye. I try to contain a smirk as I think, “Bevo, we’re not in Texas anymore.” He seems totally out of place with his cowboy boots, big belt buckle, cowboy hat, and a t-shirt for the University of Texas in Austin. Doesn’t he know this is a beach? Everyone else is wearing swimsuits and other types of summery, beachy attire. As they should be. He smiles at me and I feel embarrassed. Most people don’t notice me while I’m watching them. He flashes an impish grin as I look away. He’s attractive and he knows it. That’s dangerous. He’s going to steal some poor girl’s heart and soul one day and when he does, he won’t give it back. He’ll play with it and use it before putting it on a shelf, but he won’t ever give it back. I can feel him watching me as I keep walking down the pier. Good. I have a feeling he’s not used to seeing a girl he can’t have. Well, welcome to L.A., Cowboy Casanova. You won’t be winning over many girls that easily. Not the kind that will stick around to play at least.
I stop walking when I find the girl I’m looking for. She’s younger than I imagined, maybe fourteen or fifteen, but this is definitely her. She’s wearing a T.A.R.D.I.S. blue Doctor Who shirt and maroon converse—just like I knew she would be—and she looks incredibly depressed.
“Hey,” I greet when I’m within hearing distance.
“Hey,” she skeptically greets back.
“Don’t do it, okay,” I urge.
“Don’t do what,” she asks, acting as if she doesn’t know.
“Just… don’t do it,” I urge further.
“Why not,” she asks with a down cast look, avoiding eye contact at all costs.
“Because, you’re important,” I answer in earnest.
“No, I’m not,” she doubts with conviction.
“Nine hundred years of time and space,” I quote from Doctor Who. “And I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important.”
With tears in her eyes, she asks, “Do you really think so?”
I give her an encouraging smile. “I know so, but the question is: Do you believe you’ll make a difference for someone someday?”
She bows her head again. “I don’t know.”
“Well, there’s only one way to find out.” She looks at me curiously. “You have to get to someday.” She flashes me a beaming smile and turns to walk away. “Hey, where are you going,” I ask.
She turns toward me again and laughs. “I have to finish my homework if I’m ever going to make it to someday.”
I smile as I watch her skip away. Then, I jump when a deep male voice behind me drawls, “That was very kind of you.” After trying and failing to suppress his laughter at my reaction over his unexpected presence, he apologizes. “Sorry, darlin’. Didn’t mean to scare ya.”
With arms crossed around my chest, I roll my eyes and say, “I am so not your ‘darlin.’” I mock his country boy accent.
“Pardon me,” he apologizes again with a slightly lighter accent. “I forgot Cali girls don’t understand southern charm.”
“Charm, right,” I scoff. “I’m sure your Dallas cheerleaders are ready to swoon as soon as they hear the drawl of a cowboy Casanova, but in Los Angeles, people aren’t so quick to fall for such a petty act. After all, this is where actors come to be stars.”
“Maybe so,” he speculates with a much cleaner tone and just the slightest touch of a Texas accent. “You’re not people though. You’re Malachi Gregory; aka the Angel of God who vigilantly watches over Los Angeles County. Most people in L.A. are just incredibly skeptical, but you… you see right past the act and straight into the heart and soul of a person. The moment you saw me, you knew I wasn’t as much of a cowboy as I presented myself to be. I could see it in your eyes. You knew something was off about me, so you were watching me to figure it out. We’ve been watching you too, Mal, and we’d like you to come work with us.” Slowly, seemingly without realizing it and with the same intensity of his message, he moves closer and closer to me until we’re nearly touching.
I take a deep, controlled breath, extremely aware of how close this stranger is to me. “Who exactly is ‘us,’” I ask cautiously.
“Well, you see,” he says almost regretfully. “That’s classified information, unless of course, you come for a tour and agree to help us.” I deliberate for a moment. “We could really use your help. We know what you’re capable of; you have dreams and feelings that help you figure out exactly who needs your help and how to give it to them. That could be a very valuable asset in our line of work.”
Something about him makes me want to trust him, but I don’t know if I should. The extent of his country boy threads may be exaggerated, but I know without a shadow of a doubt he is still very much a Casanova and Casanovas are dangerous—not that I’d ever fall for one, but still… I can’t have a wannabe Romeo hanging around me all the time.