Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Imagine being forced to give up custody of your child.

 That’s exactly what happened to Vanessa Gleason. A fairy tale marriage turned into a nightmare, Now, alone in the world, Vanessa vows to fight her wealthy ex husband for custody of her daughter. Was it fate that brought her to the little church on Christmas Eve?

Vanessa locked herself in a hotel room for two weeks after her husband threw her out. Cried out, devastated and lonelier than she'd ever been in her life, she knew it was time to move on. Time to make a plan. 
First thing she did was get a newspaper and circle promising jobs in the classifieds. After a few phone calls, it didn't take her long to realize Christmas Eve wasn't the time to look for a job. Scared, bored, and half out of her mind with grief, she decided  to leave the small room and take a drive. Anything to avoid thinking.
She ended up in the heart of town among last minute shoppers and Carolers. Hurrying past them, she found herself in front of a small church. Something drew her inside. Inside and up to the Nativity Scene.    There she discovered an infant in a car seat. Before she had a chance to decide what to do, the back door slammed and someone walked down the aisle toward her. Could he help her win her child back? 
What happened next changed Vanessa's life forever. 
Elusive Mission is available from Amazon.


Vanessa’s stomach tensed. She had to get out of here. Needed some air, needed to escape. She got in her car and started driving, to where was anyone’s guess.
The quaintness of Strongsville, Ohio, especially the town square with the gazebo with all the Christmas decorations, brought fresh tears to her eyes. Vanessa wiped them away and parked the car. Shoppers and carolers filled the sidewalks. Ignoring them, Vanessa hurried past decorated shops until she came to a small church. St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, the sign out front said. Two huge wreaths hung on the heavy oak doors. The small white building beckoned to her.
Vanessa opened the door, walked up the steps and stood at the entrance. The quiet of the empty church filled her soul. It had been too long since she had attended services. Charles wasn’t particularly religious, but he had allowed her to have Alyssa baptized. She should have gone to church more often by herself, but after spending Saturday evening at the club, it was all too easy to sleep in on Sunday morning, and eventually it became a habit.
 Light showed through the stained glass windows, illuminating the red carpet-covered aisle way. A nativity scene at the front captured her attention and drew her forward. Memories from her childhood flashed through her mind.
Her father always helped set up the nativity at church when she was a little girl, and they let her put Baby Jesus in the crèche. A noise came from the side aisle, interrupting her thoughts. Vanessa stopped, saw a flash of red, and the side door slammed. Funny, she hadn’t noticed anyone else when she came in.
Oh, well, Vanessa shrugged and continued to the front and knelt down. What in the world? Next to the nativity scene sat a car seat. An infant, three, maybe four months old with blonde curly hair, opened almond-shaped, dark eyes and reached its chubby arms out to her.
 “What have we here?” Vanessa unbuckled the seat belt. “Hello, precious.” She picked up the baby, and a note fell on the diaper bag next to the car seat. Vanessa picked up the paper and read the scribbled words.
Please take care of my baby. Her name is Grace. Mary.
“Who could leave someone as precious as you?” Vanessa looked around. No one lurked in the shadows. Who left the baby? How long had she been here? God, what should she do? The baby cuddled against her, and Vanessa inhaled the sweet smell of baby lotion. Tears filled her eyes. For a minute, she was tempted to take the baby and leave, but she couldn’t do it.
Startled, when the door at the back of the church slammed, Vanessa turned toward the sound. A shadow loomed at the entrance, moving toward her. A tall figure walked down the aisle, checking the pews along the way. Vanessa hugged the baby against her, held her breath, and let it out when she saw who it was.
“Father, I’m glad you’re here. I came in here and found this baby. I was just about to call the police.”
“I’m a minister, not a priest. Pastor Dan Jacobson, Pastor Dan will do,” he said. “You found a baby?” A glint of gold glistened in his copper brown eyes below raised eyebrows. “Who do you suppose it belongs to?”
“Yes, I ... uh.” She could easily have pretended Grace was hers. He wouldn’t have known. “When I came in someone ran out through that side door. I came up here to see the nativity scene and….” Vanessa walked away and sat in a pew, cradling the baby against her chest. What was the use, he didn’t believe her. She didn’t need this. Not now. She had enough problems of her own.
“I see, pretty little thing, boy or girl?”
Vanessa stood and took a step closer to him. “Girl.” She stopped next to him. “You aren’t suggesting this child is mine, are you?” Vanessa looked him straight in the eyes. How dare he? Minister or not, what gave him the right? “Look, I came in here and found the baby. I told you someone ran out that door.” Vanessa took a deep breath, let out an angry sigh. “Here.” She pushed the note toward him. “This was lying on the diaper bag. I didn’t touch anything else.”
Pastor Dan stared at her, studying her. Vanessa stared back. Disbelief showed in his face. Like she’d try to pull off such a stunt? Imagine her abandoning a baby like this. The memory of Alyssa, clinging to her when Charles tore her away, flashed in her mind. Even now, Alyssa’s cries, when Charles slammed the door, ripped her apart.
Pastor Dan’s voice brought her back to awareness. “I see. Well, I guess we’ll have to call Social Services.” He read the note, then picked up the diaper bag and looked through it.
Grace squirmed in Vanessa’s arms and began to cry.
“Probably hungry.” Vanessa rocked the baby.
Pastor Dan pulled a bottle of formula from the diaper bag.
The warmth of the baby against her chest opened a hole in Vanessa’s heart, making her miss Alyssa even more. Her insides trembled, tears burned her eyes, threatened to fall.
“You have children?” Pastor Dan’s tone softened.
A tear escaped, fell on her cheek. She nodded, a lump caught in her throat.
“How many?”
“One.” Vanessa choked out the word.
How old?”
“Two.” The tears burst forth as if a damn had been unleashed. “I’m....” Vanessa couldn’t speak. She turned away, held back the tears, and paced across the front to the nativity scene, leaving him standing there.