November 2019

Elijah was obviously surprised. “So you guys are related to the famous Caselli brothers?  What’s that like?”

          “It’s great,” Noah remarked.  “Do you have family around here?” He was going to get down to the real business at hand, and that was finding out as much about this young man as he could.

          Elijah nodded and answered, “My parents live up in Deadwood, but my grandmother lives here in Rapid City.  Mr. Hansen, you probably remember her.  Vivian Olson?”

          Noah nearly choked on his fork full of zucchini. He struggled to swallow as he answered, “Of course I remember, Viv.  How is she these days?”  And the strangest feeling began in the pit of his stomach as he waited for Elijah’s reply.

          “She’s doing really great for a woman of her age,” Elijah answered.  “She golfs most days now. My father checks on her properties for her.”

          “Is she a developer?” A.J. asked curiously.

          Elijah shook his head and answered, “Grandmother has a lot of different businesses in the area.  In fact…” and as Elijah took a breath to continue, Noah’s heart began to pound because he knew what Elijah’s next words would be even before he said them.  “She once leased this house for one of her businesses.”

          Noah swallowed his food as he slowly nodded his head.  Tillie saw the touch of pink on his cheeks, and the near-panic look in his eyes.

          “Let’s see now,” Elijah reminisced, “what did she used to call it?  Angel’s Place?”

          Tillie almost dropped her fork, and Noah could only look into his plate as he silently nodded.  They both wondered what other information Elijah would offer.  Their children knew only that Noah had built the house many years ago, but they didn’t know why. It was a subject that had never been discussed...until now.

          “We used to spend tons of time up here when we were kids,” Elijah went on with a smile, and Noah thought perhaps Elijah resembled the devil as his own past tumbled gracefully from the young man’s lips.  “Grandmother used to tell us this very dramatic story about a poor, uneducated peasant man who built this place for his only true love.  Angel was her name, but she ran off with a rich Spaniard, and the peasant man wound up leasing the house out to Grandmother because he didn’t want to live in it all alone.”

          Dead silence dropped over the dinner table.

          Jake quietly cleared his throat, managing to croak, “Dad built this house.”

          “Oh. You were the builder?” Elijah asked, looking at Noah in complete bewilderment.

          Noah took a breath, attempting a faint smile in Elijah’s direction. Their eyes locked as Noah conveyed the message of shut up about the house.

          Elijah got the message. “Well,” he pretended to scoff with a smile, “so much for Grandmother’s old stories.”

          Naturally, all three of Tillie and Noah’s children gave each other questioning glances. Angel’s Place? Angel? Only Noah and Tillie’s family members referred to her as Angel.  She signed all of her paintings Angel…

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