The Christmas Miracle Chapter 1
“He’s got to.”
“What? No! He can’t!”
“He has to. If he doesn’t Ma will have his head!”
Penelope knew her sister-in-law was right. Derek had been dodging this for months now and both she and her stubborn husband had run out of excuses.
“Sarah, tell me how I’m supposed to look my delicious, gorgeous hunk of a husband in the eye and tell him he has to go to church…of all places wearing a red velour suit trimmed in white faux fur, shouting ho-ho-ho at the top of his lungs?”
The woman was overcome with a vision of her brother dressed as Santa and she broke into hysterics. Penelope saw nothing funny but she couldn’t help joining Sarah as they both doubled over with tears streaming down their faces.
“You tell him!”
Penelope looked up pleading into Sarah’s face as she struggled to catch her breath.
“No way, Sister…you tell him…after all he won’t try to kill you…he sleeps with you and you’re caring his child…so no…you tell him.”
Grabbing her purse, scarf and coat, Sarah cowardly, still laughing…deep in her gut laughing and bolted toward the door of her brother’s brand new, pristinely appointed home. Penelope holding onto the banister with dear life still recovering from her own fit of laughter watched her dear sweet sister-in-love bail on her.
BAU Headquarters –
“Come on, Morgan what’s the big deal? It’s only once a year!”
“There’s no way in hell, Derek Morgan is going to dress up in a red suit, a white beard and a red and white hat! Not happening, Pretty Boy!”
Reid noted that he was now referring to himself in the third person…not a good sign, he thought.
“What about your nephews they’re counting on you…their favorite uncle…”
“Their only uncle…”
“Still, it’s for the kids…Besides, Jack and Henry will be there too.”
“Exactly!!! I can’t let Jack and Henry see me go out like that. I’m the coolest person they know. Can you imagine the damage that could be done to their little fragile minds if I let them see me like that? It would destroy everything they know about swag, cool, debo…”
“Okay, okay…enough…my stomach is getting queasy. Besides, I thought you turned in your cool card when you and Garcia got married.”
“Nah man, The Derek will never turn in his cool card.”
Reid shook his head and watched his friend as he threw the rest of his belongings into his bag. In all the years he’d known his best friend he’d only referred to himself as The Derek only…actually, he’d never referred to himself in the third person or as, The Derek. He had to admit Fran and his sisters had quite a battle, quite a battle indeed.
“So, what are you going to tell your mother?”
Derek stopped in mid air as he slowly turned to face Reid. Reid could swear he saw fear in the man’s eyes. Morgan feared no one, absolutely no one…except Fran Morgan Rossi. The thought of her wrath and that cold steely glare when he misbehaved sent a chill down his spine.
“I’ll say we have a case…”
“How will you explain the rest of us being there?”
“On Christmas Eve?”
Morgan looked around as if thinking of the answer to the sixty-four thousand dollar question.
“I’ll have you shoot me.”
“Nothing serious, just a flesh wound…we’ve got plenty of time to practice…I’ll say I was hurt on the last case and the doctor confined me to bed.”
Reid looked at his friend as if he’d grown antlers.
“What? Morgan have you…?”
“It’ll be a piece of cake. Just channel the old Reid, you know before you could actually shoot that big old gun.”
“Come on Reid, help me out! I’d do it for you!”
“Oh, so if I asked you to shoot me, you’d do it?”
“Yeah if it would keep you out of a Santa suit…risking your manhood and your cool status…wait you’re not cool…so maybe I should…”
“MORGAN! Enough! I’m NOT going to shoot you!”
“Then you need to help me think of a way out of this ‘cause it’ll be a cold day in Hell before you catch me in a damn Santa suit!”
Home of Dave and Fran Rossi –
“Come on Bella, he’s a grown man! You can’t make him do something he doesn’t want to do!”
“Trust me Dave, he’ll do it! I’m his mother and he’s never refused me anything.”
“Yeah but I think this is asking too much even for Derek.”
“Don’t underestimate me, Husband. Besides I have a secret weapon up my sleeve.”
“Oh let me guess, his darling wife, the woman of his dreams and the mother of his unborn child.”
“Well no, although that is a pretty good guess but this time I haven’t been able to sway her to my side. Must be pregnancy hormones or something…anyway…”
Dave kissed his wife and headed toward the kitchen sending up a silent prayer that she’d give up this notion of having Derek play Santa in the upcoming church Christmas pageant. The thought of his stepson in a baggy stuffed Santa suit nearly made him spill his wine as he poured two glasses for himself and Fran. Walking back into the den he handed her a glass and took the seat next to her.
“So what is this secret weapon?”
Taking a long sip from her wine she turned and with a confident smile she began sharing her plans that would make it impossible for her son to say, no.
Home of Derek and Penelope Morgan –
Penelope had just ended her call with her mother-in-law when her husband walked through the door.
“Baby Girl, I’m home.”
“In the kitchen, Handsome.”
Penelope turned to greet Derek as he walked into the room. He was exhausted and hungry. He noticed that there was no evidence of dinner being prepared so he assumed that they were ordering in. He kissed her on the lips and hugged her tightly for several minutes.
“Not that I’m complaining, Hot Stuff but what was that for?”
“Can’t a man hug his wife when he comes home from a long day’s work? By the way, what’s for dinner?”
“Yes he can and your mother called and invited us for dinner.”
She knew he wouldn’t want to go but she didn’t have the heart to turn the woman who was like a mother to her down.
“Baby, I’m not in the mood for my mother’s constant demands for me to be jolly ‘ol St. Nick this year.”
“I know Sweetheart and I told her that the topic of Santa is off limits.”
He kissed her again and surrendered.
“You’ve already told her we were coming, haven’t you.”
“You know she’s going to find a way to bring it up, right?”
“I know, I know but she’s your mother. When have you ever said no to your mother.”
“Are you trying to say I’m a momma’s boy Garcia?”
“Garcia? Ooh…okay…I see where this is going, Mister.”
“I’m sorry, Baby Girl but I’m not playing an old fat guy this year, period!”
“Fine, in fact, that’s what I told your sister earlier when she came by.”
“Please don’t tell me my mother sent Sarah over here…”
“Okay I won’t but she did.”
“Well, I don’t care if she sends, President Obama over here, I’m not playing Santa! Besides, there’s gotta be a dozen old dudes at her church that would love to play Santa.”
“But she wants you!”
She kissed him this time trying to lighten the mood and his sour disposition.
“So, are we going or not.”
He kissed her back and smiled.
“Okay, fine. Just let me take a shower first and I’ll be ready in an hour.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Home of Dave and Fran Rossi – 1 hour later –
Dave had to admit he’d finally found his equal not only in love but also in the kitchen. Fran was an amazing cook and so was Dave. In fact, Fran had mastered the art of culinary warfare. Whenever she wanted something from her dear husband and her poor defenseless children she’d turn up the heat on one of her time-tested recipes and soon white flags of surrender were flying high. Tonight was one of those nights. The menu was Fran’s homemade meatballs and Dave’s homemade pasta. Both of them had teamed up on the sauce with Dave pulling a special bottle of wine from his collection.
“Sweetheart, I need you.” Fran cooed.
“Yes Bella, how can I help you?”
Dave set the bottles of red wind on the counter and joined his wife at the stove. He’d remodeled his kitchen shortly after they were married, doubling the size that would make any Michelin star chef green with envy.
“I think I’ve got the sauce just right. Taste it for me please.”
Fran held the wooden spoon to his lips and watched as he tasted it. She saw his eyes light up and that was all she needed to smell victory on the horizon.
Dave planted a kiss on her lips and looked at the devilish look in her eyes. She knew exactly what she was doing and she knew exactly how to get what she wanted. Dave chuckled as she turned back to the stove.
“What’s so funny?”
“Ohhhh…Mrs. Rossi you don’t play fair. You’re son doesn’t stand a chance.”
Just then the doorbell rang. Dave planted another kiss on her lips and headed toward the front of the house. Smiling he opened the door and welcomed Derek and Penelope inside.
“Hey old man.”
“Old man? I don’t think your mother was calling me an old man last night.”
“Hey! Hey! I’m not trying to hear details about you and my mother…together.”
The three of them laughed as they moved into the house heading toward the aroma of amazing food.
“It smells incredible in here.” Penelope squealed.
“Just surrender now and make it easy on yourself.” Dave leaned in whispering in Morgan’s ear.
“No way, old man.”
Dave grinned and led the couple into the kitchen. Fran rushed to greet her daughter-in-law and then her son. Derek noticed she was overly friendly…she was definitely up to something. He hoped she had more than an amazing dinner up her sleeve because he wasn’t going down easy.
Just as Dave had poured the four of them a glass of wine the doorbell rang and Fran waved her husband off and quickly rushed to open the door. After Derek and Penelope had gotten comfortable on the couch Fran returned with an unfamiliar woman following her.
“Everyone, this is Abigail Kennedy, a friend of mine.”
Everyone smiled and greeted the woman warmly. Penelope couldn’t help but notice the woman’s amazing red pumps and sparkly matching red sweater.
“Oh my, are those Valentino’s?”
Glancing down at her shoes Abigail smiled and took the seat next to Penelope.
“Why yes, I see you know your shoes.”
“Indeed I do although those would cost me a month’s salary.”
“Well, these almost did but I had to have them if you know what I mean.”
“Oh, I know, I know what you mean.” Derek interrupted jokingly.
Penelope poked him in the side and glared at him from the corner of her eye pretending to pout.
“What? I’m just…”
“Give it up, son.” Dave warned.
Dave poured another glass of wine and handed it to the newcomer and then joined his wife on the loveseat across from Derek, Penelope and Abigail.
“Fran and Dave you have a lovely home.”
“It’s a mansion.” Derek said sarcastically.
Again, Derek was jabbed in his side by his wife.
“Ouch! What did I…?”
Dave shook his head at his clueless stepson and raised his glass for a toast in hope of getting him out of the hole he was digging for himself.
“I’d like to propose a toast.” The others raised their glasses. “To new friends, great shoes and good wine!”
After several minutes, the gathering was moved to the dining room where the five of them continued to get to know each other and eat the amazing food that Dave and Fran had prepared. They’d already put a dent in the third bottle of wine and things were going great.
“So, Abigail, how do you know my mother?”
Fran smiled and nodded at the woman whom she’d only known a few months but they’d hit it off immediately.
“Well, Fran and I are working on New Hope’s Christmas pageant.”
“Oh, uh yes, the pageant.”
“Fran is amazing! She’s really out done herself. I’m just happy that my charity will be the beneficiary of her efforts this year.”
“Yes mom has raised over a million dollars over the last six years through her church’s pageant.”
“Well, you are blessed to have such a caring and giving woman for a mother.”
“Yes I am.”
“Fran tells me that you’re considering being our Santa this year.”
Derek shot a glare across the table at his mother while Dave muffled a snicker under his white linen napkin.
“Uh, no that’s not quite…”
“My son is so busy with his job and all, but I’m hoping he will agree to be our Santa…”
“Ma, we’ve discussed this already and I’ve given you my decision…”
“It’s just that Mr. Riley who’s been Santa for the last four years is sick and I really would like for you to do this just…”
“No ma! I’m not doing it.”
Abigail watched the banter between mother and son and she couldn’t help but notice the drop in temperature.
“So, Abigail, what charity do you work for?” Penelope interrupted just as Derek took a large sip of wine.
“I’m a fundraiser for the Children’s Miracle Network. We help raise money for a large network of children’s hospitals.”
Derek nearly choked as he forced the wine down his throat like a rock. Stopping in mid-air he looked at his mother then Dave. He couldn’t help but notice the smug look of victory on his mother’s face while Penelope turned a bright shade of crimson.
“What a coincidence right Baby Boy?” Fran began. Then turning to Abigail. “My son had been volunteering at the local children’s hospital for over a year now. It became his passion when the daughter of a close friend was diagnosed with cancer last year.”
“How wonderful especially someone with a busy schedule like yours.”
Derek hadn’t moved. His eyes still fixed in a steely glare on his mother as he tried to recover from nearly drowning on his wine.
“We could really use you this year, Derek. I’m hoping you could help us out. It would mean a lot to the kids.”
Still Morgan hadn’t moved. Dave grabbed his napkin from his lap and began waving it unashamedly in the air. Penelope covered her mouth in shock while Fran simply returned her son’s glare while a wide confident smile crossed her face.
“Close your mouth dear, before a fly gets in it.”
Fran winked at her son. He should have known he didn’t stand a chance against her. He spent countless hours working with the children at the hospital and he was dedicated and passionate about their wellbeing. She could see the steam coming from his ears. No one else could see it but she could. Meanwhile, Dave her loving husband always so supportive leaned over and gave her gentle kiss on the cheek then whispered in her ear.
“Remind me to never get on your bad side, Bella.”
“Why whatever do you mean, husband of mine?”