Several years ago after my first book was published I did a lot of traveling and presented several workshops in New York on the dynamics of domestic violence. Most of these trips were uneventful, but one of them will remain forever in my memory.

It was during the week of Thanksgiving and downtown Manhattan was swamped with tourists there for the Macy’s parade. Because of an unpleasant experience that happened to me when I was a teen, I stayed totally clear of the subway system. Any time that I had to be in New York I booked a room within walking distance to my workshops. But during one particular event there were no vacancies near my workshops so I stayed with my cousin, who lived in a lovely Brooklyn Heights apartment with breathtaking views of the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge. Each morning I took a cab into the city and then back to my cousin’s apartment at night. This was a luxury that I could afford simply because I did not have to pay for an expensive hotel.

On the last day of my workshop I walked out into midtown Manhattan at night to find a huge crowd lined up outside of Rockefeller Center for the Christmas tree lighting. For almost an hour I tried to hail a taxi, but none were available. I hurried along the sidewalks and busy streets, waving my arms at all the cabs, but every time a car stopped for me, someone else would jump ahead and get into it first! Finally, with my arms hurting and my voice hoarse, I wearily began walking toward the nearest subway station to catch a train. I hated the idea of having to be in the subway this late in the evening, but I was exhausted and clearly did not have a choice.

As most people know, New York is an exciting place during the holiday season. The city was beautifully decorated and I enjoyed the sound of music and the smell of spiced apples from vendors. Everything was going nicely until I happened to notice a man following me. Every time that I stopped to look into a window, he would also stop a few feet behind me, only to begin following me again as I resumed my pace. When I picked up my speed he would do the same. If I slowed down, he would walk unhurriedly but always remain a few paces behind.

Needless to say, by the time I reached the subway station I was a bundle of nerves, but I went ahead and boarded the train. My follower got into the same car as I did and sat down across from me opening a newspaper. While I did not make eye contact with him, I could tell that the newspaper was just a decoy to make me put my guard down. I really didn’t know what to do! I knew that if he got off the train when I did he would follow me back to my cousin’s apartment. I was horrified. Would I have to ride the subway all night to avoid being followed or attacked in the street? And where on earth was a police officer when you needed one?, I wondered as I scanned the car for a uniformed officer.

Suddenly, a lovely lady wearing a long black leather coat that looked exactly like mine got on the train and sat right down beside me. In desperation I whispered to her that I was being followed by the man sitting directly across the aisle. As I spoke to her, I noticed that my stalker had put down his newspaper and was leaning forward attentively, as though trying to hear what we were saying! She noticed this as well and, for a moment, she stopped talking to me and glared at him until he sat back in his seat and put the newspaper over his face.

“He will not get off at your stop,” she said in a low voice, patting my arm.

How could she know this? I wondered. She seemed so confident!

“Don’t be afraid,” she said firmly. “When the train comes to your stop you will get off and everything will be fine.”

Then she asked me why I was in New York. I told her that I was an author, in town to promote my book and present a workshop on domestic violence. She appeared very knowledgeable about my field and suggested a couple of places where I might promote my book in the future. As I hurriedly wrote down the names of the places I suddenly felt a tremendous peace wash over me. I looked over at the man who had been following me and he was sound asleep and snoring!

“What is your name?” I asked, as the subway car screeched to a halt and I quickly collected my bags.

“Gabrielle,” she replied.

Her bright blue eyes looked at me directly, as though she knew me.

As I stood up and approached the opening doors, I quickly glanced back at my stalker. He was still fast asleep and snoring loudly. The newspaper that he had been pretending to read had fallen onto the floor.

“Thank you,” I smiled.

Gabrielle nodded as the subway doors closed behind me. I hurried out into the night, knowing without a doubt that I had just met my Guardian Angel!

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