Get in the Holiday Spirit With an Exclusive Excerpt from Terri Blackstock’s ‘Catching Christmas’
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Terri Blackstock, best known for her high-stakes suspense series, takes a softer turn this holiday season and offers fans a taste of yuletide romance in her new novella, Catching Christmas. When a plucky grandma, overworked lawyer, and washed up chef cross paths, everyone is in for a very special turn of events.
As a first-year law associate, Sydney Batson knows she will be updating her resume by New Year’s if she loses her current court case. So, when her grandmother gets inexplicably ill while she’s in court, Sydney arranges for a cab to get her to the clinic.
The last thing cab driver Finn Parrish wants is to be saddled with a wheelchair-bound old lady with dementia. But because Miss Callie reminds him of his own mother, whom he failed miserably in her last days, he can’t say no when she keeps calling him for rides. Once a successful gourmet chef, Finn’s biggest concern now is making his rent, but half the time Callie doesn’t remember to pay him. And as she starts to feel better, she leads him on wild goose chases to find a Christmas date for her granddaughter.
When Finn meets Sydney, he’s quite sure that she’s never needed help finding a date. Does Miss Callie have an ulterior motive, or is this just a mission driven by delusions? He’s willing to do whatever he can to help fulfill Callie’s Christmas wish. He just never expected to be a vital part of it.
I wake up before dawn on Christmas morning and realize I don’t dread the day as I usually do. There’s a difference between waking up to Forensic Files reruns on Christmas morning and waking up with someplace to go…
When I get there, Callie’s front door is open. I look through the screen door and don’t see her, so I knock and call out, “Miss Callie?”
I hear her calling something back, so I step inside, carrying my plastic grocery bag and the two plants.
Her tree is still lying on the floor in the small formal living room area. I set the poinsettias down and poke my head in the kitchen.
Callie is sitting in her wheelchair in front of the sink. The turkey is in the pan, but I can see that she’s having trouble with it.
“Hello, sweet boy,” she says. “You’re just in time. I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m weaker than I thought I was.” She laughs as if she’s not bothered at all. “It’s cooked but needs to be warmed. I didn’t know how I was going to get it in the oven.”
“I got it, Miss Callie. You mind if I spice it up a little?”
“You know how?”
“Sydney didn’t tell you that I used to be a chef?”
“I . . . don’t know. Did she?”
“I picked up a few things from the grocery store. I thought maybe I could take it up a notch.”
“Well, aren’t you talented?”
I laugh. “Why don’t you reserve judgment until you taste it?”…
She claps her hands. “Oh, you are precious!”
“Yeah, that’s what they always call me.” I laugh to myself. “Hey, where’s Sydney?”
She looks around, confused. “I’m not sure.”
“But it’s Christmas. She’s not still working, is she?”
“Yes. Yes, that’s where she is.”
“Are you sure?”
Callie looks a little disturbed. “She said she’d be here.”
Irritation sweeps over me, but it’s quickly chased away by sympathy for Sydney. Something bad must have happened.
I decide I’ll just do my best to distract Callie until she arrives…
Callie has a grand time looking through the box and pulling things out as I get the tree set up. I wheel her to the tree, and she helps hang the ornaments at seat-level as I string the lights onto the branches. I see a bunch of ornaments with little girls’ pictures, and she handles them delicately…
I go back into the kitchen and work on the casseroles…I just wish I knew when Sydney will be here. There’s nothing ruder than expecting someone to cook Christmas dinner for you and not telling them when you’ll come. I fight back my indignation, and then it hits me. I wasn’t feeling upbeat about Christmas with Callie. I was really just looking forward to being with Sydney.
Funny how things like that sneak up on you.
Taken from “Catching Christmas” by Terri Blackstock. Copyright © 2018 by Terri Blackstock. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.