Hello everyone! This is one of 195 stops, yes 195 fabulous authors are part of this Christmas Hop. At each stop you have a chance to win a prize. All you have to do is leave a comment and you are entered in that contest. Here at Behind Closed Doors, you have three chances to enter to win a copy of my novel For the Love of Quinn. Each day of the event, I will post 1/3 of my free short story A Christmas Miracle for Jake. If you stop in and leave a comment each day, you will get another entry. I will pick a winner on Monday December 19th, just after midnight. So sit back, enjoy the blogs and leave lots of comments! Good luck!
A Christmas Miracle for Jake
Tammy Dennings Maggy
Eric nearly ran down the hallway of the hospital Intensive Care Unit toward the room the nurses had directed him. He stopped just outside the door to catch his breath and get rid of the fear that was threatening to take over. From the moment the call came from his sister Maredyth, his nerves were raw and his mind would not stop thinking of the worst. He had to get it together before he saw his mother and sister. He had to be strong now.
He said a silent prayer as he entered the room. Please, let this be a huge mistake. Jake can’t be the one here. It has to be someone else. Eric’s stomach churned and he had to fight to keep what little food he had eaten on the plane from Las Vegas. He had never seen his big brother look so small. The tears stung his eyes and blurred his vision a bit, but by sheer will alone, Eric held them back. It took a moment to comprehend the scene before him.
Jacob Hartley was wrapped head to toe in bandages, tubes and wires. Machines surrounded the head of the hospital bed, whirling and beeping, keeping time with Jacob’s breathing and heartbeat. His face was barely recognizable, literally black, blue and purple. His eyes swollen shut. Every now and then the respirator took over his breathing for him, just to give his body a little bit of rest. Oh my God! This can’t be happening. Eric approached the bed as his sister reached out for him. Her body trembled against his, her fear coming off her in waves. He tried to be strong for them both, but he was quickly losing the battle.
Eric looked over at his mother, Katrina. She smiled at him as she stood up from the chair that was placed near the bed. She was small in stature, but she looked ten feet tall to Eric as she walked toward Jacob. Katrina leaned over, kissed one part of his stubbly chin that was not bandaged, and spoke softly in his ear. “I’m here, my son. Momma’s here. If you can’t come back to me, it’s okay. Your Poppa’s there with you and he will show you the way.”
“Mom—Jake’s not going to die!” Maredyth’s red rimmed eyes flashed with determination. “It’s not his time to go yet.”
Eric knew he couldn’t hide his feelings from his sister, but he was struggling, really struggling to find even a spark of hope that their brother would ever pull out of this. “Mare—“
“No! We can’t lose him too. Pop’s been gone a year now. Are you telling me that God could be so cruel and decide to take Jake away almost to the very day we lost Pop?”
* * * *
“I’m right here my little girl. I won’t leave you. We have to convince Jacob he has to fight his way back.” Michael Hartley approached the bed and looked down at his son, his middle child. “What were you thinking, Jakey?”
“He wasn’t. That’s the problem.”
Michael looked up at the heavily tattooed and pierced young man leaning against the wall near the foot of the hospital bed. “You remind me a lot of him you know, full of piss and vinegar!” Michael chuckled softly to himself. “Looks like we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us here, Danny.”
Daniel Quartermarsh moved to Jacob’s bedside. He nodded slowly and looked up at his partner. “Sarge, they wouldn’t have sent both of us otherwise. I just checked in on Quinn. She’s throwing herself into her work again, but she’s okay for now. I only left this world a month ago, and she’s not allowed herself to grieve for me.” He looked down at the very battered and broken man in the bed. “Your Jake is our priority this visit. Once we get him to the island, I’ll make sure Quinn gets there too.
Michael reached out and folded his arms around his wife. Katrina looked as beautiful to him today as she did on the day they first met. He wished he could really hold her now, that she could lean on him during this horrible time with their son. Katrina took a deep breath and smiled. “He’s here with us, Maredyth.”
Daniel smiled. “I bet the two of you visited each other’s dreams too.”
Michael kept his arms around his wife of over 40 years. “Now and forever.”
* * * *
The waves crashed on the beach, bringing him out of his dream with a start. Jacob bolted straight up out of bed in panic. “Where the hell am I?” He stared at his reflection in the mirrored walk-in closet. “Where the fuck are my clothes?” He glanced around the bungalow, his eyes adjusting to the darkened room. The curtains of the sliding glass doors were gently billowing into the room from the balmy sea breeze. He found a pair of jean shorts on the chair near the door and slipped them on before heading outside to check out his surroundings.
Just outside his quarters, he found a large patio, barbecue pit and bubbling hot tub. “Sweet!” By the looks of the vegetation, Jacob knew he was somewhere in the Pacific Islands, maybe even Hawaii or Tonga. Then again, maybe he was on someone’s private island. It really didn’t matter. He just wanted to find out what the hell was happening to him.
Two figures walking along the beach appeared in his sight. He waved to them as they started to move up the beach toward his bungalow. The younger man looked about his brother Eric’s age, covered in tattoos, and something about his eyes made goose bumps pop out all over Jacob’s skin. They were blue green like the ocean and Jacob couldn’t make himself stop staring at them until the other man spoke. “Welcome to the island, Jakey.”
Jacob’s knees buckled and the younger guy reached out to steady him. “Pop? How…am I dead?”
Michael took Jacob’s free arm and helped Daniel escort him back to the patio to sit down. “Not exactly. This is what the Big Guy Upstairs calls Limbo. We like to refer to it as the island. Better sound don’t you think?”
Jacob’s head nearly exploded with the lightning flash of images zipping through his mind. The last he remembered was the highway wet with the Christmas rain and then the semi that was suddenly in his path. He put his head in his hands and groaned. “I don’t want to remember anymore.”
“Here, let me help you.” Daniel placed one hand over Jacob’s eyes and the other cradled the back of his head. A gentle warmth washed over them both and the pain quickly faded.
“How’d you do that?”
Daniel smiled. “Trick of the trade, brotha. Something we hope you won’t learn for many more years to come.”
Michael reached for Jacob’s hands. You were brought here for a reason. It’s not your time yet, but you have to want to go back and live, Jake.”
“What happens if I decide not to go back, Pop?”
His father’s face fell and tears rolled down his bearded chin. “There’s nothing that’s written that says you have to go back. It’s your choice, but know this. If you stay, you will miss your chance to be with your always and forever. You will not get the joy of holding your first born for the very first time, and you will never know the love of a beautiful woman who needs you as much as you need her, heart and soul.”
Jacob shook his head sadly. “That’s not gonna ever happen for me, Pop. What you had with Ma was once in a lifetime.”
Daniel’s bawdy laugh caught Jacob off guard. “Yep. You were right, Sarge. He’s stubborn as a mule. Quinn will definitely give him a run for his money!”
Jacob was more than a little confused. “Who’s Quinn?”
“My sister. She’ll be here soon and you’ll see for yourself.”
“She’s in Limbo too?”
“Not exactly. She comes here to escape in her mind. She can decompress here and just let go. Quinn’s going through hell now. I died almost a month ago on Thanksgiving and she hasn’t really dealt with it.” Daniel’s eyes clouded over a little bit before he smiled again. “Apparently the two of you have a destiny together, but it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to fight to get it or just give all of it up.”
Jacob groaned. “So you two are what? Cupids for God?”
Daniel’s laugh boomed out over the patio again. This time, Jacob couldn’t help but laugh with him because the sound was infectious. “You could say that. From what I know about my sister, you are exactly her type, and I approve of your ink, brotha! But I do think you need a bit more. How about a couple dueling dragons covering your back?”
“Hey now, Danny! Don’t go covering him up with tattoos before Quinn gets to meet him. From what you told me, I think she’ll agree with the dragon choice. That is once she conquers her fear of needles.”
* * * *
Stop in tomorrow for the next two chapters!
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