In the last post, I introduced you to Nick. It was clear early on that this guy is going to be one of my favorites and I’m kind of sorry his book falls last in the series. Especially since it’s looking like this series could wind up being at least sixteen books long.
Yikes! I’m not making any promises though. As with any other series, it just depends on which characters stand up and demand for their stories to be told. 🙂
Today, I thought I’d share with you a bit of the first scene in the first book of the series. The one where we get to meet Mr. Rutledge.
Next week, we’ll get to know Wesley or Lainey, the real stars of book one. Hope you enjoy this sneak peek into this as yet untitled story.
Not only had the tray full of fountain glasses shattered all over the white tiles at his feet, now his brand new, ugly white canvass shoes were covered in root beer and ice cream.
As kids seated at tables and booths around the dining room laughed and pointed, fifteen year old Nick Rutledge stood there and closed his eyes, wishing the floor would open up and swallow him. Not quite the impression he wanted to make his first day at the first part-time job he’d ever had.
He’d thought for sure Gramps would fire him. Not only would the customers waiting for the floats have to wait until more were prepared, but he’d just broken seven thick glasses—and wasted a bunch of soda and ice cream. All Gramps said was accidents happen and it would take a little practice to get used to carrying the awkward, heavy trays.
Funny how that was the first memory that came to mind when Nick Rutledge walked through the door of the Surf ‘n Soda Shack. It beat the next ones though. The ones that felt like a virtual slap upside the head. The ones reminding him of all the phone calls…
When are you coming home, boy?
Gramps always wanted to know when he was coming back for a visit. Always. Nick usually managed to show up every Christmas, and maybe the occasional long weekend, but he hadn’t set foot in Weko Harbor in two and a half years.
Of course, if anyone in the family had bothered to mention that Gramps was sick, that he was dying, that he’d closed the cafe the summer before last, he’d have definitely stopped his wandering and come back. Because no matter how long he’d been gone, this still was home and family was still family. They always would be.
When he’d graduated from seminary school at the ripe old age of twenty-two, Nick had looked at the world as his proverbial oyster.
First, he’d felt led to take the position as youth pastor in Texas. After four months of living with the blistering summer heat, the temperatures so hot he’d feared the pavement might fry the soles of his feet off if he dared to walk outside without shoes, he’d decided he might not have been called there after all. And so he kept praying, scouring the internet, and hoping to find the perfect position he just knew God had waiting for him somewhere.
Unfortunately, it seemed that while he was good about talking at God, he wasn’t quite as good at listening to him. A couple more youth leader positions later and he found himself working at a gas station in southern Ohio, slouching low in the back pew at a small church on Sunday mornings, and too ashamed to admit to his family that he might have made a mistake about his calling.
So, like the mature man he obviously was not, he’d simply avoided them. For nearly every invitation—big or small—he’d had a ready excuse. He was ‘on call.’ Whenever his boss wanted to close for major holidays, he’d offered to work those days—just in case someone in town desperately needed gas or candy bars. If his family chose to believe he was doing ‘God’s work,’ that wasn’t his problem.
And now Gramps was dead.
He hadn’t even had a chance to say goodbye. No one called when he’d gotten sick, nor had they bothered to mention the fact that his health had been declining after his heart attack. A heart attack they hadn’t bothered to tell him about either. That had been at Gramps’ request though. That’s what his father told him at the funeral this morning anyway.
At least they’d called to let him know when that was.
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