Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash
Chapter five and six won’t come for a couple of weeks due to Thanksgiving next week, I have a review scheduled for Friday.
“Yeah, I’m looking forward to you coming here, too.” Stephen moved the phone to his other ear.
“I can’t wait to spend Christmas with your parents. They are always so kind.” Sarah gushed. Was her voice always this annoying? No, he was just tired. He loved Sarah.
“They can’t wait to see you either.” Stephen lied. When he told his parents Sarah would be coming to spend Christmas with them they didn’t seem overjoyed. Mom had expressed that she didn’t feel like she was the one God had for him. He knew who she thought but it obviously wasn’t God’s plan.
A scraping sound came through the window. He walked over to the front window and pulled the curtain to the side. Caylee stood at her car and scraped her windows.
“Listen, I gotta go. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Oh, okay. I love you.” Sarah sing-songed through the line.
“Love you too.” But for the first time Stephen wondered if he really meant it. Seeing Caylee was messing with his heart even though she didn’t do anything to mess with it, being around her was enough to throw him into chaos.
He threw on his snow gear and headed outside. It was only twenty degrees out. This was not normal Michigan weather this early in the season. Typically this type of weather waited until after Christmas. But you never knew what to expect in Michigan.
He stepped outside and the cold wrapped around him and chilled him. He trudged toward Caylee, she didn’t even looked up, completely concentrating on her windows.
“What you are doing?” Stephan yelled over his scarf.
“Scraping my windows.” Caylee glanced up, her cheeks a bright red, her eyes sparkled blue.
“Duh. I can see that.” He stepped up beside her, snow up to their knees and still coming down. “Why are you scraping your windows? You know you can’t leave yet.”
“I don’t know. I felt like I should do something to get my car ready to go home. I hope I can be out of your hair by tomorrow.”
He would love to have her in his hair, her fingers dance their way across his scalp. What would it feel like to be that close to her?
“I wouldn’t count on it. Besides, I’d be more concerned about the car starting then the ice on the windows.” Stephen looked down at her and she gazed up at him, her lips wet and red. He wanted to kiss her. He’s wanted to kiss her since he was in sixth grade, if he was honest. He thought there were times when she wanted the same thing but he couldn’t have been more wrong.
“Unfortunately, yeah. With the temperatures being so low and your car being buried you’ll be lucky if it will start even when you can get out.”
“Great.” Her shoulders slumped, she must really want to get away from him.
“Sorry. What’s your rush anyway?” Stephen bent down and grabbed a handful of snow. “We could recreate that snowball fight we had when I kicked your butt.”
“If I remember correctly, which I do, I kicked your butt.” Caylee’s gaze landed on the ball of snow in Stephen’s hand. Something sparked in her eye and she bent to get her own.
“How does one decide who wins?” Stephan packed the ball tighter and took few steps back, gearing up. This could be fun.
“Who ever cries for mercy first and it was you.” Caylee unleashed her snowball without warning and landed it right in his face.
Stephen wiped the wetness away. “That wasn’t fair. Now you have declared war.” He drew back and let his snowball fly. She was quick though and turned, only getting hit in the back. She ran around the other side of the car and ducked.
Fine, he would take cover too. He hid behind the trunk and the snowballs started flying along with the laughs.His gut hurt and tears froze on the rims of his eyes from laughing so hard. When was the last time he laughed like this?
After a few minutes of stillness Stephen decided to sneak around the car and nail her. Her laughter sent flutters in his stomach. Her giggles had always sounded like music to him, although he never told her that and never would.
The snow made his approach quiet..
“Hey, what’s going on?” Her voice rose over the car.
He didn’t answer but snuck around the corner of the car and he found her squatting down with her back to him. Perfect.
“Hey.” He called. She turned and he sent his snowball sailing and landed squarely on her forehead.
“You jerk.” She came after him, tripped and they both fell. For one beautifully awkward moment she laid on him, face to face. So close he could have leaned up and kissed those gorgeous red lips. But that would be wrong. She made her feelings for him crystal clear years ago.
Although the way her heart pounded against his own he wondered . . . probably from the snowball fight.
Silence filled the space between them and they both seemed speechless, their breath coming out in puffs and mingling.
She was so beautiful, after all this time, she still messed with him by being her. He couldn’t take it. He started tickling her and pushed her off.
“Still ticklish I see.” They both laid on their backs, side by side, heads turned toward the other.
“Unfortunately. And you always knew right where to get me.”
No, the truth was, she always knew where to get him, in the heart. They held each other’s gazes. He needed to break this spell.
“You know it is supposed to warm-up to about fifty tomorrow. Everything should melt so hopefully your car will start and you can go home.” Stephen put up the wall between them again.
Somethings shifted in her eyes. Disappointment?
“Great.” She turned her head to look up at the sky.
“Yep. But it’s cold now so we should head back in.” Stephen stood and offered his hand to her. Even with gloves separating them and the freezing temps the heat that radiated between them was real. He pulled her up and she bumped into his chest.
“Sorry.” She mumbled and looked down. A piece of wet hair stuck to her cheek.
“No problem.” He took off his glove and reached out to move the hair from her cheek and in the process his thumb gently rubbed her cool skin. If possible her cheeks became even more red. She looked at him, her eyes sparkled and searched his face. What was she looking for? Forgiveness? Acceptance? Love?
It would only take a second to pull her close and kiss her but he couldn’t . He wouldn’t put his heart out there for her to trample on again. And with that one thought anger burned in him for all she had done to him.
“You’re freezing. Let’s get back in and get some coffee and those cookies you made earlier.” He forced a smile and swallowed down all the words he wanted to say. How could he desire someone that made him so angry?
“Sounds good.” She gave a shaky smile and stepped away from him.
Give her time and she would continue stepping away from him, that’s what she always did.
Melinda dropped the curtain and stepped away from the window. She rushed up the stairs and fell to her knees beside her bed. How many times had she found herself in this position, praying for her kids, for their salvation and futures? And here she was again, but this time with clarity.
“Father, I know you see all things. I trust and believe that. I believe that you are a right on time God, nothing happens by accident. I don’t believe Caylee’s accident was really that, I believe you brought her here for a reason. Please open Stephen’s heart to forgive Caylee for all the times she hurt him. Open Caylee’s heart to see how much Stephen has always cared for her and still does, even though he won’t admit it. This is the time, I can feel it, Lord. You brought Caylee into our yard for such a time at this, right on time this Christmas.”
Melinda leaned back on her heels and sighed. Relief flooded her heart and peace surrounded her. She would keep on praying for those two because she has always believed they belonged together and she still did. Now, if only they would see it before it was too late.
“We’re going to church, want to go?” Mrs. Meyer smiled up from her morning coffee when Caylee entered the kitchen.
“Oh no, I just got up.” Caylee hadn’t been to church since last Christmas when she went with her parents. When did going to church become a holiday thing? Probably when she started dating guys that didn’t care about church.
“It doesn’t start for an hour and half. You have time.” Mrs. Meyer tone left no room for argument.
“Are the roads clear? I could just go home.” If her car started.
“They’re getting cleared, it’s much warmer today so the snow is melting. But we would love to have you go to church with us before you rush home to that empty house.” Mr. Meyer took his eyes of the paper.
Yeah, but would Stephen be okay with it? She really needed to get away from him. Being around him messed with her head.
“Go on, go find something from Josie’s closet. She’s meeting us at church, she will be so excited to you. You were like the older sister she always wanted.” Mrs. Meyer raised an eyebrow.
“Okay.” Caylee turned and ran upstairs. She found a pair of khakis and a navy blue sweater and got ready for church.
When she made it back down stairs Stephen was at the table eating breakfast by himself.
“Morning.” He set his mug down and studied her. Yesterday she thought he might try to kiss her. In all the years they had known each other he never made a move. She always wondered if he ever really found her attractive. Which was fine if he didn’t since she was always dating someone else. Mostly. Unless there was a dance coming and then for some reason she never had a date dance and always defaulted to Stephen. That probably wasn’t the best idea, it must have given him false hope that she actually like him. She could never think of him as more than a friend in high school. But now that they were older . . . she could definitely think of him as more than a friend.
“I guess I’m going to church with you guys.” Caylee poured a cup of coffee and grabbed a blueberry muffin.
“That’s what mom said.” Stephen took a bite of his muffin. “I started your car. You should be good to go later today.”
“Thanks.” Caylee swallowed. He was in a hurry to get rid of her. He definitely didn’t want to be more than friends now. She couldn’t really blame him. Maybe he was dating somone.
They ate in silence until Mr. and Mrs. Meyer announced it was time to go. Like kids they got in the back of their Edge and road to the church Caylee had grown up attending in the center of town.
Caylee entered the church and memories rushed over her. All the hope that once stirred in her. Her unfaltering faith in God, in His goodness, His plans for her. When did she stop trusting in that?
Not that she went crazy, but she was always looking for affirmation from others and stopped getting it from God. She wanted attention from other people and that took her eyes of the cross. Wow. How come she never saw that before?
“Caylee, I can’t believe it’s you.”
Caylee turned and was swallowed in Josies arms.
“Hey sweetie.” Caylee hugged her back. She had grown up so much, into a beautiful young woman. Sweetie wasn’t the right word to use but she would always be like a little sister.
“Nice outfit.” Josie winked. “You make that sweater look way better than I do.”
“Thanks. But I doubt that, you are a beautiful young woman.” Caylee touched the girl’s light brown hair.
“Looks who’s talking.” Josie wove her arm around Caylee’s.
“Stop hanging on her.” Stephen stepped up beside them.
“Oh, you’re just jealous.” Josie laughed.
Stephen quickly walked away. Was there truth to that? Hmmm, interesting.
“You know he’s never gotten over you.” Josie whispered in her ear. “But now he’s dating this chick named Sarah. She’s even coming here for Christmas. But with you here, who knows.” She gave a Caylee a grin.
Stephen was dating someone. Heaviness pressed down on her chest. Of course he was. He was a great guy, handsome, had a future with a good job. He loved Jesus. He deserved someone.
“I have no intentions of breaking up your brother and his girlfriend.” She forced the words out of her mouth. Why did it feel like he had betrayed her? The way he teased yesterday, touched her face, took her hand. Did she see a depth of caring beyond friendship? Maybe it was her imagination.
“Well, maybe I’ll help you do it.” Josie pulled her into the sanctuary and pushed Caylee into the pew first so she was sitting next to Stephen. This girl was a ball of energy.
The message started with Joy to the World. She loved Christmas music. Then they moved into some contemporary songs. Some of them she knew others were new to her but each one spoke to her heart, to a hidden place she had covered up and hadn’t looked at in a long time.
The pastor spoke about hope. The hope of Jesus coming to earth and we all know how the story ends. But the people didn’t know, they had to trust.
What did Caylee hope in these days? The next boyfriend? That he would be the one to love her no matter what? Tears filled her eyes as the truth sunk in. She had taken her eyes off of Jesus for so long so forgot what it meant to hope in something that mattered. She desperately needed to get back to real hope and today was the first step.
She sniffed and out of the corner of her eye she saw Stephen turn towards her. Great, he didn’t need to know how far from God she had gotten.
The pastor wrapped up the message and they ended with a couple of more songs that spoke of surrendering to Jesus. Yes, that’s what she needed. As she lifted her voice she lifted her hands and gave herself to Jesus again. She would keep on doing that until she stopped taking her self back from him.