Angels of Destruction
their emotions, and then he laid his hat atop the cage to work his hands into his gloves. “A clever child, she might latch on to anyone. She might appear like an answer to a prayer, but every answer brings new questions, and every wish the hope for one more wish.”
    “We don't know any little girl,” said Pat.
    As the stranger placed his hat back on his head, he said, “You keep an eye out for her.” And bringing two fingers to the brim, he bowed slightly and departed. The finches roared and sang in panic and threw themselves against the iron bars, and not until late afternoon could Si-monetta manage to soothe the last of them, a star finch cowering in a high corner, and return the poor creature, thimble heart racing in her hand, to a safer perch.

    A ll by itself, the front door opened with a creak after two quick knocks, and a three-note hello came ringing from the threshold. Norah and Mrs. Quinn rose from the table, their dinner going cold the moment they departed, rushing to greet their prodigal guest. The girl footed it more quickly, skittering to a stop just in front of the woman and her suitcases. Straightening from the waist, her Auntie Diane rose like a colossus, nearly six feet tall, her silver hair swept straight back in a thick mane, her face hard and divided into planes and sharp angles broken by a magnificent nose and fierce hazel eyes; shoulders thrown back, her spine a pole perpendicular to the surface of the world, her short boots planted as wide as her hips. Her coat, pink as a rose and with mother-of-pearl buttons, quilted her to the ankles, and fur-trimmed gloves gave her hands the appearance of brushed nickel. Norah had just enough time to take her all in before Margaret caught up to her. The sisters gasped, a small sigh of joy in recognition, and as they stepped toward each other, Norah pirouetted from their path, stood by silent and watchful as they embraced. Diane unclenched first, grasped her sister's biceps, and pulled away to consider her more carefully. The women smiled identical smiles, embraced again, holding four beats, long enough for Norah to begin bouncing on her toes. A draft sucked in the front door, which closed with a bang that startled them all.
    “It's cold as the bishop's bum. I had forgotten what a godforsaken frozen tundra you live in, Maggie. You look good—what's all this talk about being tired?” She pivoted her head and stared at the child. “And who is this darling child? The sudden granddaughter you mentioned over the phone. The mysterious fugitive from way out west. Norah, is it? Norah Rinnick, I presume?”
    “Quinn, actually. Norah Quinn. And you must be Great-Aunt Diane.” She stuck out her right hand.
    “My heavens, Norah Quinn.” She turned to her sister. “She's every bit as you described on the phone. You're quite the shock, Norah.”
    “A miracle,” Margaret said. “An answered prayer.”
    Diane pivoted around to the girl. “Well, since we're family, I must ask you for a hug. What do you say to your Auntie Di?”
    The girl took a half step forward and found herself enveloped in a swatch of pink cloth, her face smashed against a great bosom concealed beneath a brassiere that felt like a birdcage. “Like Princess Di?” she asked, her voice muffled and small.
    Diane's laugh erupted from deep inside her chest, and Norah was pitched backward by the percussion. “Just like Princess Di. The two great beauties of the modern age.” She peeled off her gloves, handing them to Norah, and then with practiced formality, she disrobed coat and hat and burdened the girl. Norah staggered to the closet while the sisters linked arms and headed for the kitchen. “Be a dear,” Diane said to the girl, “and take my bag to the room reserved for princesses.” As she hauled the suitcase around, Norah eavesdropped on a bit of their conversation. “Oh, she is a dead ringer for him …” Him. Rinnick
    They warmed the plates in the oven and ate an overdone dinner a

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