Four years ago, Frankie Rios walked away from her best friend and big sister, Iris. To Frankie, Iris died the day that she last rejected Frankie’s attempts at getting Iris alcohol and drug treatment. Rather than accept grief for her beloved sister’s loss, Frankie turned to her music. A renowned cellist, Frankie has managed to ignore the pain and suffering of losing the person she loved most in this world. With Iris out of her mind and out of her life, Frankie was able to move on…or so she thought. Until Iris really died.
Topher went to war in 2001 only to return two years later damaged and broken. Unable to reconcile the war vet with the boy he used to be, Topher gave up on life. When Iris Rios, his long-lost childhood best friend, dies from liver failure at thirty-two years-old, Topher is forced to confront his past. He must decide whether he deserves to heal. He must decide whether he will take that first step and then take another until he can recover what he lost: himself.
Weeping Angels is a story of grief carried and grief ignored. It’s about learning to love and moving on. Mourning someone once is hard enough, but mourning someone twice is unimaginably harder.
Genre: Women’s fiction, romance
Release date: June 27, 2014
A woman hurls herself into the parking lot without even checking to see if a car is coming. Long blonde hair flies like a cape and she moves as though propelled by a rocket. Black, slinky heels flick off her feet, smacking into the asphalt with every rapid step. The scarf wrapped around her neck, despite this god-forsaken humidity, flaps over her shoulder. Any other day, I might have tried to stop her. If not, I might have fallen to the ground and covered my head with my hands, brought back to Afghanistan by some misapprehending synapse fire. But not tonight. Tonight, I merely stand by and watch her go.
She stops abruptly at the edge of the parking lot and just stands there. Her back to us, she drops her arms to her sides and her shoulders slump. I’m not sure what I’m looking at, but whatever it is unfurls as I watch. A woman like that doesn’t need to be crying at the end of the parking lot alone, and we’re watching like a couple of jackals who are just man enough to smoke outside a funeral, but not man enough to rescue her from herself. I’m not sure what it is about her, but I can’t stop staring, so I don’t even try.
I suck on my cigarette, taking the longest pull I can to give myself time to keep from engaging in conversation, when the woman slams her palms to her thighs. If she were any closer or if there was any less traffic on the highway, we might have heard the smacking sound echoing in the air. Even without sound, I feel it. A sonic wave crashes into my chest. My heart stops beating for a second in its wake.
Through a stream of white smoke, I jut my chin to the woman.
”Who’s that?” I ask Jose.
“That’s Frances.” He’s curt, and the sharpness when he says her name makes it sound like an offense. “I thought you knew her,” he adds, raising an eyebrow skeptically.
There’s a silence between us as we keep our eyes trained on Frankie. For the life of me, I would have never known it was her had he not just told me. I wonder now why no one makes his or her way toward her. If there’s a husband or a boyfriend standing about inside, someone needs to tell him that she’s out there alone, grieving.
“Frankie loved Iris. She’s probably taking this hard.”
As soon as the last word has fallen from my lips, Jose chuckles humorlessly and again my eyebrows furrow. I can feel the anger lining my forehead. Jose brings the cigarette to his lips and smoke pours from his nostrils as he inhales and exhales simultaneously like a fuming dragon. He shakes his head as his gaze wanders back to Frankie.
“Frankie loved Iris, that’s true, but Frankie also disappeared and refused to come when Iris got sick.”
“I don’t believe you.”
Shock slaps across Jose’s face when I declare him a liar. There is absolutely no way I can know if what Jose said is true or not.
An ephemeral summer breeze catches her hair. When it passes, she combs her fingers through her hair and twists it into a knot that she promptly releases. Even though she’s far away, I make out the shaking of her shoulders, as if she might burst.
I’ve never felt as intimate with Frankie as I do right now. Sharing in her private, raw space is wrong. I want is to throw a curtain between her and the rest of the world. I want to put my body between Frankie and all the smokers, spread my arms, puff my chest, and yell out, “There’s nothing to see here! Move along!”like some cop directing rubberneckers forward in traffic.
I take my first step off the curb so that I can go to her and do I don’t know what, when she turns around and hugs herself so tightly you’d think it was freezing, when it’s actually a humid ninety degrees Fahrenheit. Her head tilts forward and her blonde bangs sway, falling over her eyes.
She starts walking, slumped and dejected, in my direction. If a car whizzed by her, she might look up, but given by the way she ejected herself from the building, I’m not fully convinced she doesn’t have a death wish. So I do the only thing I can think of, I finish taking that first step and then take another.
What Frankie says breaks me. It breaks me. And it’s not even about Iris or me; it’s about Frankie. Everything she said about Iris fills me in on years that I’ve missed. Even when I’d been standing right beside her, I was ignoring what now seems so obvious it’s blinding. Yet, for all the talk about Iris’s alcoholism and suicidal tendencies, what Frankie’s opened up about is herself.
I’m not even sure she notices because she’s so guarded. Never once has she reflected on what she’s said. She’s been stating facts, telling stories. That’s what she thinks, anyway. I know this like I know myself, because it’s what I do. I state facts and I tell stories, and what I’m actually doing is diverting attention from what’s going on inside.
Frankie’s all Iris this, Iris that, but what I hear is: I can’t live with myself because Iris was never happy and I couldn’t save her. It’s what I hear inside myself every minute of every day, and my heart breaks for Frankie and for me. What I do next comes so naturally that it scares the living shit out of me. I don’t let her leave. I hold her as close as I can because what I want is for her to be inside of me the way she’s let me be inside of her.
In this space and time, Frankie and I are one person. I’m angry with her. I’m aggressive about it, maybe even hurting her, but I reason that it can’t be any worse than how she’s been hurting herself by balling this all up for decades.
As much as I need her to be close, I want to push her away. I want her to leave and never come back. I want Frankie to take flight tomorrow morning, and I want to be the one to deliver her to the airport because what I’m feeling is something that I’m not ready to deal with. I tell myself to let her stay here, to give her this space from death that she needs. I’m surer now more than ever that we have an unbreakable bond, but I don’t want it.
We have right now and I need it right now, but I can’t want to have it tomorrow. I can’t want to have it ever again. It’s like being with yourself all the time, but only with the ugliest parts of you. It’s looking at all the broken pieces of your psyche and being forced to confront them.
That’s what Frankie is to me. That’s what she’s been to me all day if I cop to it. Maybe it was like that last night when I went out after her in the parking lot and walked her back to the service. Maybe it’s why I couldn’t believe that she could be out there alone with no one to hide her sadness from the world. I’m making up for it today, though. Right now, I’m making up for leaving her naked and on a slab for the world to pick apart. The more I hold her, the more I fear that I’ll never be able to let her go, but I keep doing it because she’s something worth saving and, if she can be saved, then maybe I can be, too.
Ten Fun Facts about Cristy Rey
1. I am a librarian.
2. For the holidays last year, I knit a Cthulhu scarflette for my good friend, Dre.
3. I have harvested over 100 mangoes from the tree in my yard in the last three weeks. (Please, no more mangoes!) I don’t even like mangoes.
4. My parents are Cuban.
5. I was a vegetarian and, later, a pescatarian for over fifteen years. Thanksgiving 2012 was the first time I had poultry, beef, or pork in half my life.
6. I thought of Weeping Angels as I stood at the funeral of a good friend – the real Iris – observing the mourners, looking at photos of a woman who didn’t match the one I used to know, and holding the hand of my sister, her ex-fiancée.
7. My dog is named after Indiana Jones and Sherlock, and my cat is named after a comic book character by Roman Dirge and a poem by Edgar Allan Poe.
8. I am almost 6’ tall.
9. I am a fangirl through and through: I read comics, I am a Whovian, I am a Sherlockian, I am committed to the Whedonverse, and I have a Fringe tattoo.
10. I make my own Halloween costumes.
Cristy Rey is the author of the romantic urban fantasy Incarnate series. The first book, Taking Back Sunday, and a short prequel novelette, Edge of Seventeen, are available now at online retailers. She also writes and publishes unconventional romantic women’s fiction. Her first standalone, Weeping Angels, is available now, and her second, Heart Grow Fonder, will be out in winter 2014/2015.
Cristy lives in Miami, FL where she is a reader and writer most of the time, and a knitter much less of the time than she was six months before she took up writing again. She writes the books that she likes to read. She describes her writing style as riot grrrl Jane Austen sprinkled with a little magic. There’s always a killer soundtrack running in the background of her novels – all you need to do is turn to the playlist to know what’s up.
A few of Cristy’s other novels