The Return by Michele Price - Read Online
The Return
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Summary

Drew Parsons finds himself the target of a kidnapper, a familiar enemy to his sister, Sara. Abby Hart is a Special Agent assigned to the kidnapping and eventually to protect Drew. When Abby realizes she's developed feelings for him, she distances herself. He's not a Believer and his presence threatens to unravel the secret she buried from her partner and those around her. Drew learns to trust God to protect him and provide peace. His greatest step of faith is tested by the final act of the kidnapper, but will Abby survive long enough to see his faith.
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ISBN: 9781626756854
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The Return - Michele Price

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9781626756854

Prologue

Kevin? Sara entered the living room and waddled over to where he sat reading. Kevin?

What’s up, honey? Kevin glanced up, but quickly returned his attention to the paper.

It’s time. The contractions are coming harder now. Sara patted the large ball her body supported and smiled again.

Contractions? I thought you stretched out because your back was sore?

I think we can have this discussion in the car. I already called Drew. He’s on his way. We’ll go on ahead. When he gets here, he’ll get the kids together and meet us there. She poked him before she turned around and headed into the hallway. She stopped in the door frame and glanced back at her husband who sat motionless staring at her. Do you think you can drive since you can’t even manage to get out of the chair? Her smile faded, and she grabbed the wall for support. She held her breathe as another contraction ripped through her.

Breathe, honey. Kevin jumped up. Are you okay? Let me help you. He rushed to her side to help her to the couch, but Sara refused to budge.

Just…a…minute. It’ll…be…over…in…just…a…minute. Kevin held her through the contraction. Slowly, she relaxed her grip on the wall. I’m okay. It’s over now.

Dad, did Mom tell you? The baby is ready. It’s finally coming, Dad. David raced into the room, but he stopped short at the sight of Sara. Mom, are you okay?

Sara continued to breathe heavily. She allowed Kevin to help her stand upright again. Honey, they’re getting stronger. We really need to go. She touched David’s face and smiled weakly. Sweetie, I’m fine. Uncle Drew will be here shortly. He’ll bring you to the hospital. She turned back around and headed for the front door. Kevin, don’t forget to grab my things. Sara hobbled out the door. I want to sit down before the next contraction.

Kevin snatched her overnight bag off the floor and hurried to catch up to her. He helped her lower herself in the car. She settled her head against the head rest and closed her eyes, bracing for the next contraction to overcome her. When it passed she opened her eyes to find Kevin staring at her. His face masked with fear.

It’s natural, honey. I mean, it hurt, but nothing’s wrong. Didn’t you go through this with Marilyn?

Kevin shook his head no and started the car.

Honey, I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking.

It’s okay, Sara. I missed David’s birth, but I’m not going to miss this one. Kevin backed out of the driveway. Sara glanced back in her mirror to see all the kids standing on the porch watching them. Her family. A mixed family with his and hers. While the children at home belonged to both their hearts, Sara carried the child that came from both their bodies.

Another contraction yanked her from her thoughts.

Sara, are you going to make it to the hospital?

She clenched her teeth. Just drive.

Six hours later, James Caleb Spearse wailed his way into the world. The doctor placed him on her chest momentarily so she could count all his fingers and toes and soak in his face before the nurses whisked him away to the nursery for full attention from a pediatrician.

Sara reclined and closed her eyes. She opened them when Kevin wiped her forehead with a cloth. Hey, beautiful! How are you feeling?

Exhausted, she smiled. He’s beautiful, isn’t he? She leaned back and closed her eyes again.

Yeah, he is. And I think you’re amazing.

Honey, why don’t you go with the baby? They’re just going to finish taking care of me and clean the room up. Sara shifted herself in the bed to look at him. Go be with the baby. I’m just going to rest for a few minutes.

Okay. He leaned down and kissed her. I love you.

I love you, too.

She watched Kevin leave the room. Sleep quickly claimed her, though she could hear the nurses clamoring around in her room, but the sounds grew faint. Her body jolted at the alarms.

Dr. Lewis, her blood pressure’s dropping.

Lay her flat!

Sara struggled to listen to the conversation, but darkness overcame her.

Mr. Spearse?

Kevin rocked the chair in the nursery and held his son. Is my wife’s room ready? He glanced up at the nurse.

Dr. Lewis needs to speak with you. He’s waiting in the hall. The nurse leaned down to take the baby.

Is everything okay?

You need to see Dr. Lewis.

Kevin started to ask another question, but stopped himself. He could see the doctor waiting through the nursery window. He carefully passed the baby to the nurse, stood up, and slowly walked to the hallway. Dr. Lewis?

Mr. Spearse, there’ve been some complications. Your wife started hemorrhaging. We rushed her to the OR. A surgeon is with her now, and I’m headed up there to join him. I need you need to sign a release. The doctor threw some papers at Kevin and headed toward the elevators. Give them to the nurse.

Wait, what’s going on? Is she going to be all right? What are the papers for?

Surgery. These papers give us permission to save her life by whatever means necessary.

Save her life? Kevin leaned against the wall.

We’re doing everything we can. Give those papers to the nurse and she’ll direct you to the OR waiting room. The doctor got on the elevator and pushed some buttons before he disappeared.

Kevin stared blankly at the elevator. Lord, she was fine when I left. What happened? Kevin retraced his steps. He quickly peeked in the nursery at his son before he headed back to Sara’s room for more information from the nurses. Two nurses were cleaning up the equipment used during the delivery. He glanced at the bed and his heart fell. Sara’s blood saturated the sheets and puddled on the floor below. What happened? He whispered.

He recognized the nurses. They were here when he left to be with the baby.

Mr. Spearse, they just took your wife to the OR.

I know, but what happened.

The nurses glanced at each other. The older of the two guided Kevin out of the room. After you left, Mrs. Spearse’s blood pressure dropped dropping. She started bleeding out. Dr. Lewis immediately called for a surgeon to meet him upstairs. There going to do everything they can to stop the bleeding.

What caused her to bleed?

I’m sorry. I don’t know. The doctors will answer all your questions as soon as they can. She patted his arm gently. Just sign the papers. I’ll take them upstairs.

Mr. Parsons? Drew looked up at the nurse who stood in the entry way of the waiting room.

Did my sister have her baby?

May I speak with you in the hall?

Drew looked around. The kids were huddled in front of the television. He put down his magazine and followed the nurse.

Mr. Spearse has asked that you call your other sister to sit with the children. He needs you to join him in the OR waiting room.

The OR? What happened? Is the baby alright?

The baby’s fine. Your sister delivered a beautiful baby boy.

The ramifications of her statement slammed him in the chest. He stared at her. My sister?

There were some complications during the delivery. They needed to rush her to the OR. Mr. Spearse needs you. Go ahead. I’ll sit with the children until your sister gets here.

Drew covered his face with his hand. Not Sara. She’s got to be okay. She has to.

Mr. Parsons?

Melanie’s on her way. I called her a little while ago to tell her Sara went into labor.

The nurse patted his arm. Then go up to see your brother-in-law. I’ll wait here until she arrives.

Drew didn’t stop to thank her. He skipped the elevator, dashed up the stairs, and raced down the hall to the waiting room. He stopped short when he saw Kevin by the window with his back to Drew. His reflection in the window spiked Drew’s fears.

Kevin, what’s going on?

Is Melanie with the kids?

Drew shook his head no. She’s on her way. The nurse is sitting with them until she gets here. What happened?

Kevin turned to face him. His eyes, red and white, bore through Drew. I don’t know. Kevin dropped in the closest chair, and Drew sat beside his brother-in-law. She was fine so I went to check on the baby. She told me to. Then they came to get me to sign some papers and rushed out. I don’t know what’s going on. They said something about bleeding. Kevin dropped his head in his hands.

Drew wanted to reach out and comfort him, but fear paralyzed him.

Drew, I can’t lose her. I can’t! He slammed his fist into his leg.

Drew said nothing. He refused to think of life without his sister, his best friend. How’s the baby? The nurse said it was a boy.

He’s fine. I checked on him a few minutes ago. Kevin looked up at Drew. How am I going to take care of that baby? Six kids! I can’t do it alone. I don’t want to. She’s everything. Tears rolled down his cheek.

Kevin? They turned around.

Pastor Mike, what’re you doing here?

Sara’s pastor stood behind him.

Barb called to tell me Sara was in labor. I arranged to do my hospital visits this afternoon. When I stopped to ask about Sara, they directed me up here. How are you doing?

The pastor sat across from Kevin and Drew. Drew froze. He had been to Sara’s church for Christmas and when his nieces were baptized. He even went last year when Kevin was baptized, but generally he avoided church. He didn’t want to sit here while the pastor offered platitudes that may or may not be true by chance.

Kevin, I’m going to see if Melanie’s downstairs.

Kevin nodded at him and returned his attention to the pastor.

Let’s pray, Kevin.

Drew quickly left the room. He paced the hall instead of rushing down to the kids. Anyone, but her.

Excuse me? He stopped at the nurses’ desk. Could you tell me if there’s any word on my sister, Sara Spearse?

The nurse checked her charts and looked back at him. Sorry, there’s no news right now.

He slammed the phone down then picked it up and threw it across the room before he turned and swiped at the items on the table, knocking them to the floor. Glass shattered everywhere.

He’ll talk my calls. He’ll be begging me soon. He hollered at the phone.

ESPN blared on the television. A picture of his old friend flashed on the screen and interrupted his tirade. He grabbed the remote and turned the volume up.

…city’s baseball hero has become a father again today. A statement released earlier announced the birth of James Caleb to Kevin Spearse and his wife, Sara. There were some complications during the delivery, but mother and baby are said to be doing fine. In other news…

He clicked the news off and stared at the blank screen. They had a baby. His life was trashed, but their lives moved forward. Someone had to pay for it. He reached for the bottle of pills, popped one in his mouth, and swallowed it without water. He turned to the weights in his bedroom and began throwing them in the air, one arm at a time.

Chapter One

Kevin finished packing and carried his bag to the front door. He studied his watch. An hour ‘til he had to go. He joined Sara in the kitchen where she prepared dinner. Are you packed and ready? She asked as she glanced up from the stove.

Packed, but not ready. I love baseball, but the leaving is killing me. I hate leaving you after everything that happened. He leaned against the counter. Maybe this is the year to retire?

Honey, I’m fine. I got a clean bill of health from the doctor. Don’t worry. And you’ll know when it’s time to retire. You’re thirty-six years old. It’s young, but you’ve had a great career. You’re only twelve wins from 300. You could get that this season. That’s huge! There aren’t many pitchers who’ve done that. Play the season and see how you feel.

Kevin knew her opinion. It wasn’t the first time they had this conversation. The ability to return to baseball amazed him. Yet, here he was six months later unsure if he wanted it.

Kevin thought back to when he met Sara. They only knew each other for a few months before they married last year. Sara battled with city officials over the death of her husband when they met. Ultimately, the facts revealed Kevin’s father, though not the murderer, was responsible for Ben’s murder.

Kevin’s only memory of the night his father died was waking up in a hospital bed with Sara beside him. He’d been told several times of the events, but they still were lost in his mind. He recovered quickly from the gunshot wound and stepped back out on the mound in September. Now a new season stood before him, but he questioned his interest in it.

Sara finished tending to the food and turned to face him. Everything will be fine while you’re gone. We’ll miss you, but we’ll be here waiting for you. It’s only nine days. You’ve been gone longer.

Not since Jamie.

Not since Jamie, but before him. It’s going to be okay. Go play ball and come home. I’ll be watching and waiting.

Why can’t you come? You came to Spring Training.

Honey, we’ve been over this. Traveling with a baby and homeschooling would be a nightmare.

I know. Kevin hugged her. She responded with a kiss, but what she didn’t know was her kisses made him second guess leaving as well.

Honey, really. Go play ball. We’re going to do school work and finish painting and decorating Jamie’s room. I can’t wait to have it done. I’m ready to put him in his own room.

Alright, I’m done whining now. You and I both know I’ll enjoy playing when I’m there. It’s the leaving that’s hard. He released her slightly from their embrace and leaned down to kiss her.

Do you know how embarrassing it is to have your parents making out all the time?

Sara glanced over at Melissa, but didn’t let go of Kevin. You’ll be grateful for this later.

How on earth would I be grateful for having seen my parents making out in the kitchen?

You’ll be grateful to know it’s okay to love your husband in front of your children.

Whatever! was Melissa’s only comment before she fled the kitchen.

Sara looked back at Kevin. Okay, my turn. Maybe you should retire and not leave me here alone with a teenager.

Kevin smiled and kissed her again. Sorry, I made a commitment. I’ll ride through the season and see how it goes. She swatted his bottom as he scooted out of the kitchen.

Time for me to go! Kevin hollered through the house. Kids came running from every direction. Kevin hugged and kissed all of them. He ambled over to the smiling and kicking baby on the floor and picked him up. I’ll see you in nine days. Try not to be walking by then.

Kevin, he’s only five months old. I promise he won’t be walking when you get back. Sara watched as all the kids gathered. Kevin handed Jamie to her, kissed her again, grabbed his bag, and left for the car.

How are things going? Barb Michaels asked as they cleaned up school time and moved into social hour. The kids played outside.

Everything’s good. I’m trying to finish Jamie’s room. I want to have him in their when Kevin comes home next week. It’ll be nice to have our bedroom back. Sara smiled as she put the last of the books on the shelf. Let’s go have some tea in the kitchen.

Barb peeked on the kids outside and met Sara in the kitchen. Sara poured two large glasses of sweet tea. She treasured this time with her friend.

How has it been since Kevin’s been gone?

It’s been all right. We miss him, but I’ve gotten a lot more done since he left. Sara smiled. At the rate he and I were going, Jamie was going to be a teenager by the time we finished his room. Now I’m almost done. Sara sipped her tea. How’s Joe? We haven’t seen him much lately.

His company has officially folded, but he’s excited about branching out on his own. He thinks it will be great running his own company. A lot of his regular clients are following him.

It’s a good thing we don’t need those box seats any more. Sara and Barb both laughed. Joe’s company had box seats to the ball park. Barb and Sara loved to go when the seats were available. Marrying Kevin has some perks.

I’m sure unlimited tickets were first on your mind when he asked you to marry him. The ladies laughed as the tears eked out of their eyes.

What’s so funny, Mom?

Nothing, Krista. What are you girls up to?

Mom, we need to get home for dinner. Remember the Southerlands are coming over.

Barb collected herself. Okay, Krista, go and get the boys. When Krista and Melissa left the room, Barb leaned closer to Sara. "I’m not ready for the dating thing yet.

I know she just turned fifteen, but I was hoping dating would remain at bay a little longer." Barb stood up and cleaned her seat at the table.

It’ll be alright. Krista has a good head on her shoulders. Sara stood behind her at the sink.

Yeah, but that good head might convince your daughter dating is fun. Barb winked.

Okay, out you go. You heard Krista. You have to get home. Sara smiled as she said goodbye to her friend. She returned to the house and the project that awaited her.

Sara stretched out on the couch with Jamie in her arms. She shifted until she found a comfortable position to nurse Jamie. The doorbell rang just as she found the niche she wanted. She rolled her eyes and pushed off the couch to answer the door.

Hey Mel! What’s going on?

Where’s everyone? Sara’s sister, Melanie, asked as she wandered into the house.

The younger kids are sleeping, Carrie and Melissa are in their rooms, and the little guy is here with me. Come on in. I was about to settle in the family room with the TV and nurse Jamie. Sara led the way. Melanie closed the front door behind her and followed Sara.

Sara settled herself and Jamie on the recliner. Melanie sat on the couch where Sara lay only a few minutes before.

So, what’s going on?

Not much, Ken is working again tonight. I figured I would come and visit. What were you planning on watching on TV?

He’s worked a lot of extra jobs this year, hasn’t he?

Yeah, I guess.

Sara watched her sister. Is everything all right?

Melanie smiled at her. Everything’s fine. So what are we going to watch?

Sara dropped the subject but mentally noted to pray for Mel and Ken. The sisters watched a chick flick after Sara put Jamie to bed.

When the movie ended, Sara walked Melanie to the door. It sure has been nice having you come out and visit lately, especially when Kevin’s gone. I finally have someone to watch chick flicks with. She leaned over and hugged Melanie.

Instead of resisting, her sister hugged her back and left. Sara closed the house up for the night and retired to her room. She checked on Jamie before she sat down in her chair in the sitting area. She bowed her head and prayed for her sister. An hour later, her prayer extended to her brother and their other sister, Kelly.

He watched as the younger kids played in the park. It had been a long time since he saw them last. The older girl looked just like her mother. He couldn’t remember her exact age, but he knew she must be a teenager by now.

He followed them to the park this morning. He didn’t know where they were headed, but loved this time to observe them. His body froze when he saw her fuss over the baby. The baby! That’s what brought him back. The anger and desire he once felt surged through him. It wasn’t fair. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. He remembered then. He remembered how it felt to hold her, and he knew there should be no baby. He glared while she cuddled and played with him.

After a minute, he glanced around. He couldn’t do anything now. People were strewn through out the park. He didn’t want to draw attention to himself. Revulsion, despair, anger, and hurt eroded his looks. No one would recognize him, but he still decided to wait. The time would be right soon. He knew it would be. He waited a long time, and he could wait a little longer. He settled in and watched her until she packed up to leave. He already knew where she lived, so he didn’t follow her home.

Tonight, he decided. It would all begin tonight for him.

Drew Parsons spent his day pouring over charts. His firm was bidding for a big account, and his team would receive the job if it was awarded to his firm. Drew wanted it. He worked for hours on the files. He didn’t notice most of his office had left for the night until he jumped when the phone rang.

Parsons he answered.

Drew?

He dropped the files in his hand and diverted his attention. Hey, Mel! What’s going on? He smiled. Drew always found time for his sisters. He and Sara were close, but Drew loved Kelly and Melanie as well. He and Sara recently commented on how much Melanie seemed to be reaching out to them. Drew found this encouraging. Melanie had always been tough to reach. She was the youngest in the family and a little on the wild side. She shocked everyone when she announced she wanted to be a teacher. She never had much patience for children, but Drew had since learned she was a good teacher. One of his co-workers had a child in her class.

I was wondering if I could have dinner with you. I know it’s kind of late, but I just got home, and Ken won’t be home until much later. He’s working an extra job tonight.

Drew looked at his charts and files. He knew it would take almost an hour to get there. He wasn’t sure he could spare the time.

Mel, I would love to get together, but I have a huge account to focus on. I’m not sure I could drive up by you tonight. Drew struggled to think of an alternative.

How about if I bring dinner to you? I’ll stop and pick something up and come to your office. You can keep working until I get there, but I want to talk to you about something. Melanie’s voice got quieter.

Are you okay, Mel? Red flags in Drew’s head went up.

I’m hoping for some advice.

Did you talk to Sara or Kelly?

No.

Bring me a burger with greasy fries and a large coke.

Thanks. I’ll see you in an hour or so.

Drew hung up the phone. He picked up the files he dropped, determined to have a productive hour before Melanie showed up.

An hour and fifteen minutes later she walked into his office. He put his work down and relieved her of the food and drinks.

Let’s take this to the conference room. I’ve got papers all over my desk. We can eat in there.

The building looks so empty.

Most everyone’s gone home for the night. I’m sure there are a few other stragglers. Drew directed her to the conference room and put the food down.

Why are you still here?

This account I’m working on. Normally, I’m long gone as well. Drew took the chair opposite her. What’s going on? He never was one for idle talk.

Melanie sighed. She looked at him then set her food in front of her. Drew did the same knowing she would talk when she was ready.

Why didn’t you ever get married?

It sounds like you’ve been talking to Sara. Drew smiled. He chomped on a French fry. It’s not that I haven’t ever gotten married. It’s more like I haven’t married yet. The bottom line is I haven’t met someone. Not someone I want to spend the rest of my life with. I know this isn’t what you wanted to come all the way down here to ask me. Not unless Sara forced you to. Drew took