Hi Robin! Thanks for dropping by with this wonderful story! As we all know, I love Christmas stories, but this one is pretty special. I love the way you shared the greatest gift!
Come check it out:
Movie star Blake Carmichael found more than just freedom from his drug addiction in rehab. He found God. And he has just one wish for the first Christmas of his new life: reconciliation with his teenage son, Eli. But after eight years of hardly hearing from Blake, Eli wants nothing to do with his father. So when his mother forces Eli to stay with Blake during the Christmas holidays, Eli sneaks out of the house.
From the New Hampshire seacoast to the dangerous streets of Boston, Blake searches for his son, desperate to protect Eli from sins Blake knows all too well. But even if he finds his son, will he ever be able to convince Eli of his love?
“I’m sorry to be calling so late. This is Blake Carmichael, Eli’s father. I was wondering if you’ve seen him tonight.”
The woman cleared her throat. “Um … no. Why?” Her voice sounded concerned. She probably knew Eli better than Blake did. “Is he OK?”
“I don’t know.” Blake returned to his son’s room, scanned it, and sat down beside the backpack. “He sneaked out. I hoped maybe…is Hayden there?”
“Yes, hold on a second.”
Blake unzipped the backpack while he waited. Slowly he pulled out the contents. A three-ring binder, at least a dozen pencils, most with dull or broken tips, a handful of crumpled pages. An old math test—Eli got an A-minus. Two faded red erasers. While he searched the backpack, music filtered through the phone, louder by the second. Either Hayden slept with music blaring or he was still awake.
The music suddenly stopped.
“Here he is,” Mrs. Bishop said.
“Hayden? This is Blake Carmichael, Eli’s father. He sneaked out tonight. Any idea where he might be?”
“Nope. Haven’t talked to him.”
“Listen, I know you don’t want to get him in trouble, but…well, he’s already in trouble. At this point, I just need to know he’s safe. I won’t even tell him I talked to you.”
“I told you,” Hayden said. “I don’t know where he is.”
“Do you have any suggestions for me, then? Ideas where I could look for him? People I could call?”
Hayden snorted. “It’s too bad you have to call me to find out about your own son, huh?”
Blake felt his temper roll in like the surf outside. He blew out a breath and prayed for patience. “Yes. It’s unforgiveable.” He let the words hang in space, hoping Hayden would take pity on him. Seconds ticked away while the silence expanded.
Finally he heard a deep sigh. “I really don’t know where he is, but you could call his girlfriend. The two of them seemed to be planning something at school yesterday.”
“Planning what?” Blake asked.
He closed his eyes and recalled Amber’s email on his screen downstairs. It said nothing about a girlfriend. “Do you have a number for his girlfriend?”
“I don’t know her number, but her name’s Kelsey Waters.”
“She goes to your school?”
“OK. Thank you, Hayden. If you think of anything, or if you hear from him, can you call me?”
Blake left his number and hung up, knowing he wouldn’t be hearing from Hayden Bishop again, whether Eli called him, or not.
Kelsey Waters. Kelsey Waters. Why was the name familiar?
Then he remembered. He’d met Kelsey the previous spring, right after he’d started attending Seaview Bible Church. She was attending that Sunday with her aunt, Tallia Waters.
Tallia. Beautiful woman, at least ten years younger than he, with dark brown hair, milky white skin, and captivating green eyes that spoke of innocence and wisdom, all at the same time. He’d wanted to ask her out, but he refused to start any new relationships until he had mended fences with his son, a self-imposed punishment for all his bad behavior.
But if he was going to start dating again, Tallia would be on the top of his list.
He grabbed Eli’s backpack and ran down the stairs to his office again. The church directory would have Tallia’s phone number. He could get Kelsey’s phone number from her.
He dialed the phone. He was out of breath from the stairs, the fear, or maybe a combination of both. Heavy breathing. An excellent way to start a middle-of-the-night conversation with a beautiful woman.
“Hello?” Another sleepy voice.
He tried to relax his breathing. “Tallia? It’s Blake Carmichael, from Seaview.”
“Blake?” She cleared her throat. “What…why…?”
“I’m sorry to wake you, but I need your help.”
A pause while something rustled on the other end of the phone. “OK. What is it?”
“My son Eli is staying with me, and he sneaked out of the house. I called his best friend and he said that Eli is dating Kelsey Waters. That’s your niece, right?”
“Yeah. She told me they’ve been seeing each other for a couple of weeks.”
“Hayden said Eli and Kelsey were planning something for tonight and I wondered if you could give me her phone number, or her parents’ number.”
“No need. Kelsey’s staying with me this weekend. Hold on a sec, and I’ll go ask her if she knows where he is.”
Though Eli had turned sixteen and earned his driver’s license, he didn’t have a car, yet. Amber didn’t want him to have that much freedom, since he’d been flirting with trouble for a few years. He knew part of Amber’s reluctance was a fear that Eli might actually be grateful to his father for the gift.
Blake was pretty sure Amber would hate that.
However, Blake had decided a new car would be a great Christmas gift for Eli, now that he’d had his license for six months and had proven his competence and responsibility. The dealership was delivering the Mustang convertible the next day, Christmas Eve, to surprise Eli Christmas morning.
Was it too late to get his money back?
The backpack was almost empty and he hadn’t found anything helpful. He unzipped the last pocket and pulled out a flyer printed on bright red paper. “WinterFest Jam for the Homeless. Friday, December 23rd.”
“Blake?” Tallia’s voice was suddenly high-pitched.
“She’s not here! She’s gone. There were pillows under her blankets, but she…she must’ve sneaked out!”
Blake read the flyer again. “OK. Well, at least we know they’re together. Does she have a car?”
“She must’ve picked him up. Don’t worry, I’ll find them. I’ll call you—”
There are so many wonderful things to say about this story that I don't know where to start. For such a short story it packs a great big punch, full of wisdom and love - and a touch of humor besides.
First there's Blake, the kind of hero we all want in our lives, someone strong enough to protect you and always be there, but willing to admit to his mistakes. Then there's Tallia, an everyday person like you and me who jumps to conclusions and makes bad assumptions, but is smart enough to admit when she's been wrong.
Just some of the highlights..."Casper" - I love it! - you'll just have to read it yourself to find out though...God always provides...saved, redeemed, forgiven...I love how real their faith is!
Thank you for the blessing, Robin.
Buy Links: http://pelicanbookgroup.com/ec/one-christmas-eve