A recovering alcoholic turned firefighter, a mysterious woman with a secret, and the Christmas miracle that just might save them both.
Beckett Bradshaw knows what it’s like to be on top of the world and then to come crashing down to the lowest form of human existence, living on the streets. It has taken a huge amount of hard work and self control to get where he is today. He’s content with his job as a firefighter and so incredibly grateful for the miraculous recovery of his young daughter.
When a mysterious old lady shows up at the fire station and makes a prophecy that Beckett will find love by Christmas, he doesn’t believe it. Beckett doesn’t dare pray for the desires of his heart for fear that he’s used up all of his miracles.
Then, Beckett meets the beautiful and vivacious Ava Lawrence and starts to hope that maybe he really can find love. Beckett is hesitant to tell Ava about his checkered past for fear that she won’t want him. However, Ava has a few secrets of her own that could destroy everything Beckett has built.
Will a Christmas miracle be enough to bind two lonely hearts together or will the scars of the past prevent Beckett and Ava from finding the lasting love they most desire?
It was the kind of cold that would freeze a person’s toes and fingers off. In another time and place, Beckett wouldn’t have spent more than thirty minutes outside. Tonight, however, he was grateful for the cold. It sank through the holes of his worn shoes, moving up his legs and torso like morphine, numbing his aching heart. The cold snuffed out the fire raging in his head—the voice that screamed of his failures and how any path to redemption was forever barred. He trudged through the snow, oblivious to the trash littering the sidewalk or the bars covering the windows of the aging buildings. The sights and stench of the streets would’ve horrified him before, when he was donning two-thousand-dollar suits and driving a Lexus to his high-rise office in the center of downtown Salt Lake City. Now, it was as commonplace as breathing. The frigid wind picked up. He pulled his thin coat tighter around him as he tucked his chin into his neck and plodded forward.
Normally, Beckett’s senses were dulled to the point where he hardly remembered the life he lived before. Alcohol was the great cure-all. If he drank enough of it, he could hardly remember his own name. Today, however, was different. Today was Jasmine’s birthday. She was turning seven today. Beckett didn’t want to think about Jasmine with her happy, rosy cheeks and cocoa-colored ringlets. The trusting look in her deep brown eyes. The lilt in her voice when she called him daddy. Jasmine wanted a pink Barbie cake with sparkles. Tears pressed against his eyes as he swallowed. Unbidden scenes from the accident flashed before his eyes, the guilt knotting his gut.
It had been a normal day. Pressures at the office were increasing. Beckett was always behind. Nothing he did was enough to satisfy his bulldog boss. Before darting out of his office to pick up Jasmine from her dance class, he’d taken a few swigs out of the flask he kept hidden beneath a stack of files in his bottom desk drawer. One minute he was driving, the road a blur, Jasmine chattering about a new dance she’d learned. The next minute, everything changed. Beckett felt the blunt force of the crash the same instant he heard the sickening sound of crunching metal. Then came the worst—Jasmine’s terrified screams that gave way to intermittent whimpers. He’d called 911, screaming into the phone. It seemed to take forever before the wail of the sirens pierced the night air.
A few hours later, in a sterile hospital waiting room, a grim-faced doctor would deliver the blow. Jasmine’s ankle had been crushed. It would require multiple surgeries, and there was a chance she’d never walk again. Melinda’s face had crumpled, tears streaming down her cheeks. As Beckett went to hug her, she pushed him away, condemnation burning in her eyes. “This is all your fault!” she spat.
“Please, Melinda.” His voice had cracked with desperation. “I—I’m sorry. I never meant—” He reached for her again.
She got up in his face. “I can smell the alcohol on your breath.” For an instant, Beckett saw something in her eyes—a sliver of the love they’d once shared. Before he could blink, however, her eyes went flatter than dull pennies as she turned her back to him and walked away.
It was then that he’d known, he was dead to her. He loosened his silk tie and threw it into the garbage on his way out of the hospital.
That was six months ago.
He wet his dry lips, the thirst for a drink rising in him like a greedy vulture demanding to be satisfied. He paused and leaned against the side of a building, removing the bottle from inside his coat. Beckett took a long swig, appreciating how the liquid burned down his throat. Another couple of drinks helped ease the pain. The snow was falling harder, large blobs coating everything in white. Cars moved along the streets like cautious snails, trying to avoid contact. The world felt still, like he was in one of those snow globes Jasmine loved. Beckett’s breath pushed out a warm mist against the air as he continued to his destination.
Fifteen minutes later, he went in through the backdoor of a shelter. A middle-aged, portly man with a tapered salt and pepper beard was sitting behind a metal desk, chewing on a pencil as he stared at the screen of his laptop. When he saw Beckett, he waved in recognition as he stood, pulling his pants over his belly. “Hey, Blanket Man. I wondered what time you’d show up here.” He went to a nearby counter and picked up a stack of blankets, depositing them in Beckett’s arms. “It’s a cold one tonight. The temperature’s falling into the single digits.”
“I’m sure there’ll be plenty of people who can use these blankets. Some ladies from a local church dropped them off today. It’s mighty kind of you to deliver them. After you get done passing these out, there are plenty more.”
Beckett nodded. This was how the conversation always went, with Scotty making small talk and Beckett throwing in a few short answers and nods. Scotty didn’t seem to mind that Beckett didn’t want to talk. He was always pleasant, and he looked Beckett in the eye when he spoke to him. Most people didn’t. The homeless moved through the city like faceless ghosts, scavenging what they could to survive.
“Oh, by the way, I reserved you a spot at the shelter tonight. It’s too cold to be outside.”
“Thank you.” Beckett’s hands ached from the cold. He’d had a pair of gloves once, but they were long gone.
“Tell everyone you see that they need to get indoors.” Scotty’s mouth turned down in a frown as he pulled at his beard. “This is the kind of weather that kills people.” Continue reading