So . . . I wrote this short Christmas story a couple of winters ago. God has been reminding me of His call on my life to write and I have been ignoring that call big time, making excuses and I know it needs to end.
I have dusted it off a bit and thought I would share it with my readers in installments. Today you will get Chapters 1 and 2. There are Eleven chapters so that will take us until December 14th I believe.
It’s nothing fancy, I could probably do a lot more with it but if I keep telling myself that it will never see the light of day, so I will share this with you and hope you are blessed by Caylee and Stephen’s story.
The title was inspired by a camping friend of ours. As we sat around the campfire one night sharing some struggles and questioning God’s timing he said, “God is a right on time God.” That stuck with me and inspired the name and theme of this book.
God is never early or late. He is right on time, no matter what we think 🙂
A blanket of white covered the windshield of Caylee’s car. Pain radiated in her head.
“Are you okay?” A baritone voice called from somewhere. This had to be a dream. Yes. That’s it, including everything leading up to that moment. A dream and tomorrow she would wake up and her life would be completely normal, whatever that was.
But the pounding in her head made her believe everything might be too real.
“We’ll get you out.” A different, deeper voice, called.
“Please don’t.” Caylee whispered. She didn’t want to face the reality of her life. Everything was so wrong, and the day after Thanksgiving too.
A man stood outside her window, scarf wrapped around his face, hat pulled low. If she didn’t know better she might believe she was getting car jacked.
The man pulled on her door and it barely budged.
“We’re going to have to dig you out.” The man pulled down the scarf briefly and her heart jumped. It couldn’t be who she thought it was. That would be crazy. Maybe she needed to get her head checked out.
Another man appeared with two shovels. They began digging and all Caylee could do was close her eyes and hope once again that this was all a bad dream.
God, I know I’ve been ignoring you lately but if you could perform a miracle right now and allow me to wake up in my bed in Columbus that would be great.
The door creaked open and cold air rushed in and wrapped around her, like the coldness that wrapped around her heart a few hours ago when Josh dumped her.
“Are you okay?” Caylee looked up and this time the scarf was down. It was him. Stephen Meyer.
Her response caught in her throat so she nodded.
“Caylee Thomas?” Recognition lit up Stephen’s eyes.
“That’s me.” Caylee still hadn’t moved from her seat.
“Is everything okay?” Mr. Meyer came to the door. “Caylee. Oh my goodness. It’s been years. Are you okay?” He reached out his hand to help her out.
“I’m fine, just shaken.” Caylee placed her hand in Mr. Meyer’s and stood. She allowed her gaze to slide over to Stephen. He probably still hated her. Who could blame him if he did? She quickly looked at the snow covered ground, much safer then looking at Stephen.
“Let’s get your inside.” Mr. Meyer wrapped an around around her shoulders and lead her through the three foot high drift that wrapped around her car. Michigan had way more snow than Ohio. She probably should have looked at the forecast before heading to her parents but her heart wanted to be home and nothing else mattered. That might not have been the best decision.
All three stomped their feet in the mudroom and removed their outdoor gear without much talk, still frozen from the cold. Caylee had passed through this room as a child more times than she could count. She never expected to be here again.
Once everything was removed, and the warmth of the house started to thaw out Caylee’s fingers, they moved into the kitchen.
Mrs. Meyer stood in by the table waiting for them, her eyes lit up and she rushed to Caylee, wrapping her in a hug that spread warmth to her toes. “My sweet girl. Are you hurt?”
“I’m fine.” Caylee choked back the tears that wanted to come pouring out. Nothing could be further from the truth. A replay of the day flashed in her mind. Josh, who she thought was finally going to ask her to marry him, dumped her the day after Thanksgiving, she got into a car accident and now she stood in the house of the boy she totally ignored for years, or maybe didn’t ignore enough, and whose heart she crushed over and over. Fine was not the correct word to describe her current situation.
“Let me get you some hot chocolate.” Mrs. Meyer finally released her and pulled her toward the dining room table.
“That really isn’t necessary. If I can dig my car out I can get home.” Caylee tried to stop walking, from being pulled further into the Meyer family, it was way too easy to sucked in.
“The storm isn’t letting up tonight. No sooner would we get a few inches dug and it would fill right back in.” Mr. Meyer sat the table.
“Well, what am I going to do?” Caylee sunk into a chair, exhausted and confused. Her muscles ached from being so tense in the cold.
“You can stay here tonight.” Mrs. Meyer rubbed her back.
“What?” Caylee and Stephan spoke in unison.
“She can’t go home in this.” Mrs. Meyer walked away as if the deal was done.
“I can’t stay here.” The words were out before she could stop them.
“Sure you can. It’s not safe for anyone to be driving in this whether. Your Mom and Dad wouldn’t want you out in this.” Mr. Meyer sipped the coffee his wife placed in front of him.
“What were you thinking driving in this?” Mrs. Meyer slide Caylee a cup and sat down next to her.
“It wasn’t snowing in Columbus when I left.” She couldn’t tell them she her only thought was to escape the heartache that followed her to Columbus and didn’t seem to let up no matter how hard she tried. And that was the problem. She tried to do everything in her own strength and that never worked.
“Maybe you should have checked the weather.” Stephen mumbled. Yeah, he was as happy as she was to have her there.
“Stephen.” Mrs. Meyer swatted his hand.
“No, he’s right. I wasn’t thinking.” Caylee glanced up at him. They made brief eye-contact and her stomach tightened. His eyes looked bluer and he had finally filled out. The poor guy had been so scrawning in high school she weighed more than he did. But now muscles stretched the fabric of his shirt, muscle she had to tear her eyes away from before someone noticed her stare.
“I thought your parents were out of town?” Mrs. Meyer drew her eyebrows together.
“Yes, they’re in Florida until the twenty-third.” Please, don’t ask any more questions.
“Then why bother coming home now?” Stephan asked the question and seemed to know the answer judging by the hard look he gave her. She was running away from something.
“I needed a break.” Caylee clenched her jaw. True, partially.
“Well, drink up your hot chocolate and then you can get to bed. We have the guest room all set up because you just never know.” Mrs. Meyer smiled over the rim of her cup. Her eyes twinkled and she winked.
Caylee brought her drink to her lips and sipped. The warmth of the chocolaty drink spread through her and made her feel too at home in this house she once knew so well. She would spend the night and then tomorrow the roads would be cleared and she could go home and forget this ever happened.
Stephen slipped on a pair of athletic pants and a hoodie. The smell of coffee drew him downstairs into the kitchen. The room was empty. Hm, must have been Dad got up early and made coffee.
He walked to the window and looked toward the barn. Sure enough, Dad was out there doing something. He was always tinkering around in the barn, he had to stay busy. Mom on the other hand had no problem being still, especially when it came to being with Jesus. But right now she was probably still asleep. Since retirement she seemed to sleep in more. She deserved it.
The coffee beckoned him and he pulled a mug from the cabinet, poured that rich, inkiness into the dup..
He took a big gulp. Yes, this was coffee. All his years in college he never managed to make coffee as good as Mom or Dad. And now he was home, for good. Crazy. He never thought he would move back to Holly, but here he was with a great job waiting for him as a software programer.
He sat down at the kitchen table and took another drink. The floor creaked above him. Had to be Mom or Caylee.
Caylee. Just the thought of her tightened his stomach and he grasped his mug tighter.The one woman he hoped to avoid when he moved home and now she was in his house. The one girl that grabbed ahold of his heart at a young age and never let go. God sure had a sense of humor. He gave that girl so many chances, put his heart out for her again and again and she used him and stomped on it every stinkin’ time. Well, never again. He would never trust her. God had to understand that. He couldn’t expect him to welcome Caylee with open arms this time. Besides, Stephen had moved on. Was dating Sarah, who was great. Everything he ever wanted. Certain he would marry her.
Until last night.
The way his heart hammered in his chest at the sight of Caylee and the fear that she might have been hurt made him realize he might not be as over her as he had thought. But his reaction had to be from surprise. At least that was what he told himself.
“Do I smell coffee?” Caylee appeared in the doorway of the kitchen, dressed in the same clothes she wore last night, skinny jeans and burgundy sweater that made her gorgeous blonde hair shine like the sun. Still beautiful. More so now than in high school.
“Yeah, help yourself.” Again, with the beating of his heart. Surprised, that was all.
“Thanks.” Caylee found the mugs and the creamer. She had spent a lot of time there when they were kids and nothing had changed. She sank into the other kitchen chair, took a sip and sighed. “I needed this.”
“Me too.” Silence followed. He had no idea what to talk to her about and he didn’t want to keep looking at her gray-blue eyes. That only reminded him of all the times he held her in his arms at dances and wanted to get lost in her gaze. But she always kept him at arm’s length. With the amount of dates they’d been on they never even kissed. Which was good. Definitely good.
“Where is everyone?” She glanced around the silent kitchen.
“Dad is outside and Mom must be sleeping.”
“Where is Josie, I know your mom said something about her being gone?” Caylee lifted her mug and took another sip.
“She went to a friends last night before the weather got bad.” He was grateful. His younger sister was full of drama. She was the princess and being fifteen didn’t help any of that. There was a big age difference with Stephen being twenty-four and Josie seemed to get whatever she wanted..
“I bet she’s grown up. I haven’t seen her in six years at least.” Caylee sipped her steaming coffee.
“Yeah, she’s grown up all right. Along with her mouth.” Stephen chuckled.
“She always was a bit of a handful.”
When was the last time they had a conversation? After prom, senior year. If you could consider that a conversation. It didn’t end well and now everything felt forced, fake. Once they were so natural around each other, they knew each other so well. Now they were like strangers sitting across from each other.
The back door flew open along with a gust of wind.
“It’s freezing out there.” Dad called and shook the snow off his boots.
“Have they plowed the road yet?” Stephen could only hope. The sooner Caylee left the better.
“Not yet and they are calling for more snow today.” Dad hung up his coat. “You might be stuck here for a while.”
Caylee’s eyes widened. “I’m sure I can get out.”
“I’m sure you can’t. Not in that Verano you’re driving.” Dad grabbed a mug and poured himself a cup of coffee.
No, she needed to leave today, this was too awkward. Why would God place the one person he never wanted to see again, in his house?
“I can call a tow truck.” Caylee sounded as desperate to leave as Stephen felt.
“You will do no such thing.” Mom entered the kitchen wrapped in a pink robe. “You’re parents aren’t even home. You might as well stay with us for as long as you need to. You can wear Josie’s clothes, you’re about the same size. Beside, Josie just texted me and said she won’t be able to come today, they are snowed in and I need help making cookies. These two aren’t much help in that area.”
“I don’t want to impose on your family traditions.” Caylee’s forehead crinkled.
“I’ve known you since you were a baby. You are family. You’ve just been away for awhile. Family does that sometimes.” Mom placed a hand on Caylee’s head. She was always full of hope. Even when Stephen told her all that Caylee had done she still had hope that Caylee needed time to grow up and she would come around. But Stephen had no plans in waiting for that to happen. He had moved on. In fact Sarah would be coming to Holly for Christmas. That would help put his heart on track, headed toward Sarah, not Caylee, which is what was happening with each passing moment he sat and talked to her.
Caylee looked at him like she was asking for permission. Did she really need his approval? She would hopefully be gone by tomorrow. What was another day?
“Yeah, stay and help Mom. I don’t want to make any cookies and if you leave she’ll force me to.”
“It’s all settled then.” Mom beamed.
Yeah, it was all settled. Then why did his stomach feel completely unsettled?
This couldn’t be happening. Caylee shoved her hands into the sugar cookie dough. She should not be here. She should have stayed in Ohio and talked to Josh and figured things out. She would call him later. By now he probably saw the big mistake he made in breaking things off with her.
“What did that dough ever do to you?” Mrs. Meyer chuckled. Caylee looked down at her hands that were now pounding the dough.
“Sorry.” Caylee mumbled and unclenched her hands. “I think it’s good.”
“I’ll be the judge of that.” Stephen’s voice came from behind her. Before Caylee could turn around he reached around her and plucked a piece of dough from the bowl. In the process his arm brushed her’s and warmth spread all the way up her arm and into her cheeks. He smelled good too. He had no business touching her and smelling good and growing up and filling out and being handsome. He was always cute but now, well, he was downright hot. “Yep, it’s good.”
“Thanks.” Her voice caught and she cleared her throat. She could have sworn she heard him stifle a laugh and walk away. He couldn’t know the effect he had on her. Then he would have the upper hand and she had always had the upper hand with Stephen. Look where that had gotten her.
“That boy. Always sneaking my dough. Some things never change.” Mrs. Meyer laughed and gave Caylee a sideways look.
“And sometimes everything changes.” Caylee bit her lip. She shouldn’t have said that.
“Change can be good.” Mrs. Meyer grabbed a bunch of the dough and started rolling it out. “Tell me why you came home when you knew your parents weren’t even going to be here?”
The lady didn’t beat around the bush.
“I needed to get away from Columbus.” Caylee plunged her hands back into the bowl of dough even though it was thoroughly mixed.
“Hm, okay. But why did you have to get away? Don’t you have a job you need to get to on Monday?”
Ha. Another sore spot. Her degree in theatre hadn’t really helped her get a job or keep one. She considered applying to the community theatre in Holly, but what were the chances they would have an opening?
“No, I don’t have a job. I worked on and off at a small theatre in Columbus but nothing steady.” She removed her hands and washed them off.
“Oh, yes. I forget you went into to theatre. So you have nothing holding you in Columbus then?” Was it Caylee’s imagination or was Mrs. Meyer prying?
“Well, I was dating someone.” The words slid out slowly.
“We broke up yesterday.”
“The day after Thanksgiving?”
“Yeah, well, I don’t think he meant it. I’m thinking maybe I overreacted. I should probably call him soon.” Caylee forced a smile. Who was she kidding, he clearly told her she bored him. He wanted more of a physical relationship and although her spiritual life wasn’t what it used to be she wasn’t willing to compromise all she knew was right. And that is why no relationship lasted. No guy she met was willing to wait until marriage. So many times she thought maybe she should give in. If she did maybe they would get married and then she wouldn’t be sinning anymore. But she never could talk herself into it.
“Wouldn’t he call you if he didn’t mean it?” Mrs. Meyers pressed cookie cutters into the dough, never looking up.
Wow, this woman didn’t let up.
“I guess he would.” With those words the truth wrapped around her heart like a snake choking out every ounce of hope she had tried to hold on to. She had lost another man because she wasn’t willing to compromise. God, if you want me to follow your will why don’t you bring me a man who wants that too?
Caylee glanced around the room, sure someone else had to have said that. But no one was in the kitchen but Mrs. Meyer and unless she could miraculously change her voice to a bass it couldn’t have been her.
“Everything okay?” Mrs. Meyer smiled up at her.
“Sure. I just picked a really bad time to try to start over.” Caylee dusted off her hands.
Mrs. Meyer looked her directly in the eye. “Funny, I was thinking you got here right on time.”