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The Red Gloves Collection
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Format:ebook $9.99 $13.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around December 14, 2008. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Compilation copyright © Karen Kingsbury 2006
Gideon's Gift copyright © Karen Kingsbury 2002
Maggie's Miracle copyright © Karen Kingsbury 2003
Sarah's Song copyright © Karen Kingsbury 2004
Hannah's Hope copyright © Karen Kingsbury 2005
The words to "Sarah's Song" are copyrighted by Karen Kingsbury and are used by permission.
Scriptures are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
All rights reserved.
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Visit our Web site at www.HachetteBookGroupUSA.com.
The Warner Faith name and the "W" logo are trademarks of Time Inc. Used under license.
First eBook Edition: October 2006
Praise for THE RED GLOVES SERIES
"This may be a small book, but there is nothing little about its message of hope and the miraculous. Give yourself a gift. Read GIDEON'S GIFT."
—Robin Lee Hatcher, author of Firstborn
"GIDEON'S GIFT is fabulous! It's a perfect book for the whole family."
—June Cotner, author of Christmas Blessings
"Heartrending and gentle … This second chance for two souls will give you goose bumps. Karen Kingsbury delivers!"
—Deborah Bedford, author of A Morning Like This
"To call Karen Kingsbury an author is a disservice. She is an artist, and MAGGIE'S MIRACLE is yet another breathtaking masterpiece. When I finished the last page, I could only shake my head in wonder."
—Mark Atteberry, author of The Samson Syndrome
"I loved this book! Karen has a gift for writing an appealing, sweet story that captures the reader's heart. It increased my faith and reminded me that God is in control!"
—Margaret Maxwell, wife of bestselling author John C. Maxwell
"Karen Kingsbury is a great fiction writer and an even better person. Wait until you read MAGGIE'S MIRACLE! You will be deeply touched."
—Pat Williams, Sr. Vice President, Orlando Magic
"Karen never ceases to brilliantly move her readers with heartfelt stories—MAGGIE'S MIRACLE is no exception."
—Dr. Gary Smalley, founder of Smalley Relationship Center
"MAGGIE'S MIRACLE is a delightful Christmas story that warms the heart and brings the availability of miracles to happen in our own lives. It is an easy-reading book; in fact, I couldn't put it down until I had finished reading it."
—Anna M. Hayford, wife of Dr. Jack Hayford, chancellor, King's Seminary
"Carve one hour out of this busy holiday season and curl up by the fire with SARAH'S SONG. You'll be deeply touched, even moved to tears, by this simple, gentle story of an older woman's memories and a younger woman's heartache. As they count the days until Christmas, both women's lives are changed forever. May your life be changed as well!
—Liz Curtis Higgs, bestselling author of Thorn in My Heart
"SARAH'S SONG is sure to touch the heart of the reader. Karen Kingsbury has crafted another moving story of God's hope and restoration. This isn't to be missed!"
—Tracie Peterson, bestselling author of Silent Star and Eyes of the Heart
"Kingsbury can touch the heart like no other author. SARAH'S SONG made me treasure the gifts of love in my own life. This tender story is sure to be a Christmas favorite year after year."
—Colleen Coble, author ofWithout a Trace and Beyond a Doubt
"The newest Red Gloves Christmas novella by Karen Kingsbury has become part of my Christmas tradition over the last three years, along with Gideon's Gift, Maggies Miracle, and Sarah's Song. In HANNAH'S HOPE, Kingsbury raises her own bar of excellence. Truly touching, a wonderful cast of characters, and a tribute to the members of the armed forces serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thanks, Karen, for touching my heart and for once more making the true Spirit of Christmas come alive in me."
—Tracey Bateman, author of The Claire Everett Series
To my parents, Anne and Ted Kingsbury, on the celebration of their fortieth wedding anniversary. Thank you for defining that elusive, "forever" kind of love the world needs so badly. You have been and continue to be an inspiration to each of us five kids, and to our families.
And a special thanks to Dad for creating a rich and poignant memory for me when I was a little girl, something I have never forgotten—something that inspired the writing of Gideon's Gift. The memory goes something like this:
It is Thanksgiving and after the meal you heap leftovers on a sturdy paper plate. We pile into the van and drive around until you find one of the local street people. With tears in your eyes, you step out of the car and hand over the food. "Happy Thanksgiving," you say, your voice choked.
When you climb back behind the wheel, you look at Mom and shrug, your chin quivering. And then you say it, the thing you say still today:
"There, but for the grace of God, go I."
The gift that changed them all had led to this: a Christmas wedding.
Nothing could have been more appropriate. Gideon was an angel, after all. Not the haloed, holy kind. But the type that once in a while—when the chance presented itself—made you stare a little harder at her upper back. In case she was sprouting wings.
From his seat in the back of the church, Earl Bad-gett's tired old eyes grew moist. A Christmas wedding was the only kind for Gideon. Because if ever angels shone it was in December. This was the season when Gideon's gift had mattered most.
A million memories called to him. Had it been thirteen years? Earl stared at the vision she made, surrounded by white satin and lace. The greatest miracle was that Gideon had survived.
He brushed the back of his hand over his damp cheeks. She actually survived.
But that wasn't the only miracle.
Earl watched Gideon smile at her father—the glowing, unforgettable smile of a young woman on the brink of becoming. The two of them linked arms and began a graceful walk down the aisle. It was a simple wedding, really. A church full of family and friends, there to witness a most tender moment for a girl who deserved it more than any other. A girl whose love, whose very presence, lit the room and caused people to feel grateful for one reason alone: They had been given the privilege of knowing Gideon Mercer. God had lent her a little while longer to the mere mortals who made up her world. And in that they were all blessed.
Gideon and her father were halfway down the aisle when it happened. Gideon hesitated, glanced over her shoulder, and found Earl. Her eyes had that haunting look that spoke straight to his soul, the same as they always had. They shared the briefest smile, a smile that told him he wasn't the only one. She, too, was remembering the miracle of that Christmas.
The corners of Earl's mouth worked their way up his worn face. You did it, angel. You got jour dream. His heart danced with joy. It was all he could do to stay seated, when everything in him wanted to stand and cheer.
Go get 'em, Gideon!
As they rarely did anymore, the memories came like long lost friends. Filling Earl's mind, flooding his senses, linking hands with his heart and leading him back. Back thirteen years to that wondrous time when heaven orchestrated an event no less miraculous than Christmas itself. An event that changed both their lives.
An event that saved them.
Time flew … back to the winter when Earl first met Gideon Mercer.
The red gloves were all that mattered.
If living on the streets of Portland was a prison, the red gloves were the key. The key that—for a few brief hours—set him free from the lingering stench and hopeless isolation, free from the relentless rain and the tarp-covered shanty.
The key that freed him to relive the life he'd once had. A life he could never have again.
Something about the red gloves took him back and made it all real—their voices, their touch, their warmth as they sat with him around the dinner table each night. Their love. It was as though he'd never lost a bit of it.
As long as he wore the gloves.
Otherwise, the prison would have been unbearable. Because the truth was Earl had lost everything. His life, his hope, his will to live. But when he slipped on the gloves … Ah, when he felt the finely knit wool surround his fingers, Earl still had the one thing that mattered. He still had a family. If only for a few dark hours.
It was the first of November, and the gloves were put away, hidden in the lining of his damp parka. Earl never wore them until after dinner, when he was tucked beneath his plastic roof, anxious to rid himself of another day. He would've loved to wear them all the time, but he didn't dare. They were nice gloves. Handmade. The kind most street people would snatch from a corpse.
Dead or alive, Earl had no intention of losing them.
He shuffled along Martin Luther King Boulevard, staring at the faces that sped past him. He was invisible to them. Completely invisible. He'd figured that much out his first year on the streets. Oh, once in a while ^they'd toss him a quarter or shout at him: "Get a job, old man!" or "Go back to California!"
But mostly they just ignored him.
The people who passed him were still in the race, still making decisions and meeting deadlines, still believing it could never happen to them. They carried themselves with a sense of self-reliance—a certainty that they were somehow better than him. For most of them, Earl was little more than a nuisance. An unsightly blemish on the streets of their nice city.
Rain began to fall. Small, icy droplets found their way through his hooded parka and danced across his balding head. He didn't mind. He was used to the rain; it fit his mood. The longer he was on the street the more true that became.
He moved along.
The slurred words carried over the traffic. Earl looked up. A black man was weaving along the opposite sidewalk, shouting and waving a bottle of Crown Royal. He was headed for the same place as Earl: the mission.
Rain or shine, there were meals at the mission. All the street people knew it. Earl had seen the black man there a hundred times before, but he couldn't remember his name. Couldn't remember most of their names. They didn't matter to him. Nothing did. Nothing except the red gloves.
The black man waved the bottle again and shot him a toothless grin. "God loves ya, Big Earl!"
Earl looked away. "Leave me alone," he muttered, and pulled his parka tighter around his neck and face. The mission director had given him the coat two years ago. It had served its purpose. The dark-green nylon was brown now, putrid-smelling and sticky with dirt. Earl's whiskers caught in the fibers and made his face itch.
He couldn't remember the last time he'd shaved.
Across the street the black man gave up. He raised his bottle to a group of three animated women with fancy clothes and new umbrellas. "Dinner bell's a callin' me home, ladies!"
The women stopped chatting and formed a tight, nervous cluster. They squeezed by the man, creating as much distance between them as they could. After they'd passed, the black man raised his bottle again. "God loves ya!"
The mission was two blocks up on the right. Behind him, Earl could hear the black man singing, his words running together like gutter water. Earl's cool response hadn't bothered him at all.
"Amazing grace, how sweet da sound … "
Earl narrowed his gaze. Street people wore thick skins. Layers, Earl called it—years of living so far deep inside yourself, nothing could really touch you. Not the weather, not the nervous stares from passersby, not the callous comments from the occasional motorist.
And certainly not anything another street person might say or do.
The mission doors were open. A hapless stream of people mingled among the regulars. Earl rolled his eyes and stared at his boots. When temperatures dropped below fifty, indigents flooded the place. The regulars could barely get a table.
He squeezed his way past the milling newcomers, all of them trying to figure out where the line started and the quickest way to get a hot plate. Up ahead were two empty-eyed drifters—young guys with long hair and years of drug use written on their faces. Earl slid between them, grabbed a plate of food, and headed for his table, a forgotten two-seater off by itself in the far corner of the room.
He looked up and saw D.J. Grange, mission director for the past decade. The man was bundled in his red-plaid jacket, same as always. His eyes were blue. Too blue. And piercing. As though he could see things Earl didn't tell anyone. D.J. was always talking God this and God that. It was amazing, really. After all these years, D.J. still didn't get it.
Earl looked back down at his plate. "I don't come for a sermon. You know that," he mumbled into his instant mashed potatoes.
"We got people praying, Earl." D.J. gripped the nearest chair and leaned closer. Earl could feel the man's smile without looking. "Any requests? Just between us?"
"Yes." Earl set his fork down and shot D.J. the hardest look he could muster. "Leave me alone."
"Fine." D.J. grinned like a shopping-mall Santa Claus. "Let me know if you change your mind." Still smiling, he moved on to the next table.
There was one other chair at Earl's table, but no one took it. There was an unspoken code among street people—sober ones, anyway: "Eyes cast down, don't come around." Earl kept his eyes on his plate, and on this night the code worked. The others would, rather stand than share a meal with a man who needed his space.
Besides his appearance would easily detract even the most hardened street people. He didn't look in the mirror often, but when he did, he understood why they kept their distance. It wasn't his scraggly, gray hair or the foul-smelling parka. It was his eyes.
Cold, dead eyes.
The only time he figured his eyes might possibly show signs of life or loneliness was at night. When he wore the red gloves. But then, no one ever saw his eyes during those hours.
He finished his plate, pushed back from the table and headed for the exit. D.J. watched him go, standing guard at the front of the food line. "See you tomorrow, Earl." He waved big. "I'll be praying for you."
Earl didn't turn around. He walked hard and fast out the door into the dark, rainy night. It was colder than before. It worried him a little. Some years, when the first cold night had hit, another street person had swiped his bed or taken off with his tarp. His current tarp hung like a curtain across the outside wall of his home. It was easily the most important part of his physical survival. Small wonder they were taken so often.
He narrowed his eyes and picked up his pace. His back hurt and he felt more miserable than usual. He was anxious for sleep, anxious to shut out the world and everything bad about it.
Anxious for the red gloves.
He'd spent this day like every other day, wandering the alleyways and staring at his feet. He always took his meals at the mission and waited. For sundown, for sleep, for death. Years ago, when he'd first hit the streets, his emotions had been closer to the surface. Sorrow and grief and guilt, fear and loneliness and anxiety. Hourly these would seize him, strangling his battered heart like a vice grip.
But each day on the streets had built in him another layer, separating him from everything he'd ever felt, everything about the man he used to be and the life he used to lead. His emotions were buried deep now, and Earl was sure they'd never surface again. He was a shell—a meaningless, unfeeling shell.
His existence was centered in nothingness and nightfall.
He rounded the corner and through the wet darkness he saw his home. It was barely noticeable, tucked beneath an old wrought-iron stairwell deep in the heart of a forgotten alley. Hanging from seven rusty bolts along the underside of the stairs was the plastic tarp. He lifted the bottom of it off the ground and crawled inside. No matter how wet it was, rain almost never found its way beyond the tarp. His pillow and pile of old blankets were still dry.
He'd been waiting for this moment all day.
His fingers found the zipper in the lining of his parka and lowered it several inches. He tucked his hand inside and found them, right where he'd left them this morning. As soon as he made contact with the soft wool, the layers began to fall away, exposing what was left of his heart.
Carefully he pulled the gloves out and slipped them onto his fingers, one at a time. He stared at them, studied them, remembering the hands that had knit them a lifetime ago. Then he did something that had become part of his routine, something he did every night at this time. He brought his hands to his face and kissed first one woolen palm and then the other.
"Good night, girls." He muttered the words out loud. Then he lay down and covered himself with the tattered blankets. When he was buried far beneath, when the warmth of his body had served to sufficiently warm the place where he slept, he laced his gloved fingers together and drifted off to sleep.
The next morning he was still half given to a wonderful dream when he felt rain on his face. Rain and a stream of light much brighter than usual. With eyes closed, he turned his head from side to side. What was it? Where was the water coming from and why wasn't his tarp working?
He rubbed his fingers together——and sat straight up.
"No!" His voice ricocheted off the brick walls of the empty alley.
"Noooo!" He stood up and yelled as loudly as he could—a gut-wrenching, painful cry of the type he hadn't uttered since that awful afternoon five years ago.
His head was spinning. He grabbed at his hair, pulled it until his scalp hurt. It wasn't possible. Yet…
He'd been robbed. In the middle of the night someone had found him sleeping and taken most of what made up his home. His tarp was gone. Most of his blankets, too.
But that wasn't all. They had stolen everything left of his will to live, everything he had to look forward to. Nothing this bad had happened to him since he took to the streets. He shook his head in absolute misery as a driving rain pelted his skin, washing away all that remained of his sleep.
He stared at his hands, his body trembling. The thing he'd feared most of all had finally happened.
The red gloves were gone.
The hardest part was pretending everything was okay.
Brian Mercer held tightly to Gideon's small hand and kept his steps short so she could keep up. With all his heart he hoped this would be the day the doctors looked him in the eye and told him the good news: that his precious eight-year-old daughter was in remission.
It was a possibility. Gideon seemed stronger than last week at this time. But Brian had felt that way more than once and each time the report had been the same. The cancer wasn't advancing, but it wasn't backing off, either.
Brian stifled a sigh as they made their way from the car to Doernbecher's Children's Hospital. If only Tish were here with them. Tish was wonderful at raising Gideon's spirits. Optimism and laughter rang out in every conversation between them. It was something the two of them brought out in each other.
Tish would have found a way to make the doctor appointment fun. But she couldn't miss even a day of work. Not with Gideon's medical bills piling up. Not with his boss threatening layoffs and more hourly cuts at the lumber mill. No, Tish couldn't possibly be here. Her two cashier jobs were sometimes all they could depend on.
At least the neighbors took little Dustin whenever Gideon had an appointment.
They stepped into the elevator and Gideon looked up at him, her head cocked to one side. "What's wrong, Daddy?"
"Nothing." Brian gave Gideon's hand a light squeeze. "I was wishing Mommy could be here."
"Me, too." A shadow fell across Gideon's face and her eyes took on that soulful, deep look—the look that had become a permanent part of her expression since her diagnosis six months ago. They fell silent for a moment. "Do you think I'll be better today?"
"Well … " Brian bit the inside of his lip. There was no point getting her hopes up, but at the same time he had a feeling. Maybe … just maybe … "How do you feel?"
Her eyes lit up. "Better."
"Okay." He leaned down and kissed the top of her woolen beret. "Then, yes. I think today might be the day."
The routine was the same every time. Once they reached the right floor, they checked in at the lab and a technician drew a vial of Gideon's blood. In the beginning-when she'd first gotten sick—the needles had scared her. But she was used to them now, poor girl.
After the blood draw they made their way down a long, glassed-in catwalk, fifteen floors above Portland's hilly downtown. Halfway across, they found their bench and stopped. At first they had used the bench as a resting point, because Gideon tired so easily. Now it was just something they did. Besides, Gideon's test results always took awhile, so there was no hurry.
The bench was placed at a point where the view was breathtaking. There were still sailboats on the Columbia and Willamette, and the sun glistening off a dozen tributaries that crisscrossed the city. And, on a clear day like this one, the towering white presence of Mt. Hood.
"Pretty, isn't it?" Brian slipped his arm around Gideon's shoulders.
Gideon's eyes narrowed. "Sometimes I feel like a bird up here. Like I could fly over the city and down along the rivers." She looked up at him. "And never, ever be sick again."
Brian swallowed hard. Something about this part of their routine always made Gideon pensive. It was the hardest part for Brian. The time when he wanted to cry out to God and ask "Why?" Why an eight-year-old little girl? Why his daughter? How was it he and Tish could help strangers, but do nothing for their own child?
All he wanted was his family back. Tish and Gideon and Dustin and him. Laughing and loving and taking walks on crisp winter mornings like this one. Just a series of days where none of them had to wonder whether Gideon was getting better. Whether she'd live to see the following Christmas.
There was nothing Brian could say to his daughter, no promises he could make. Instead he hugged her and cleared his throat. It was time to pick a topic. Since her first doctor visit, the two of them had always chosen this time to discuss special things. So far they'd covered a dozen subjects: how mountains were formed, why rivers flowed, and where exactly was heaven. But today, the second of December, Brian had a specific topic in mind. A happy one. One he and Tish had talked about the night before.
"Let's talk about Christmas, Gideon." He took her hand once more and they continued down the catwalk toward the doctor's office.
"Yeah." A slow smile lifted the corners of her mouth. "Let's do that."
They checked in and found their usual spot, on a sofa near the back of the waiting room. Brian angled his body so he could see her, study her wispy brown hair and unforgettable eyes. She was a miniature of Tish. A more serious, ethereal miniature. She'd been that way even before the cancer. As though she carried something deep in her heart—an innocent wisdom, an ability to see straight to the soul of a person. It was what set her apart from other children.
And what he and Tish would miss most if—
Brian blinked. He had ordered himself never to think such things. Nothing could be gained by worrying and dreading the future, borrowing tomorrow's pain for today. Still, there were times when fear didn't bother knocking. Times when it kicked in the door and tramped right in. Times like these.
"Okay." He exhaled slowly. "Christmas." He reached for Gideon's hand once more. "Where should we start?"
Her eyes danced like the twinkling lights on the hospital's Christmas tree. "Let's talk about the perfect Christmas."
"Hmmm … The perfect Christmas." Brian leaned into the sofa and gazed out the glass-panel window at the brilliant blue sky beyond. The answer was an easy one. They would find enough money to get Gideon a bone-marrow transplant. She would recover quickly and find her place once more among her little friends at school. And they'd never, ever again have to talk about Christmas from the corner of a cancer doctor's office.
He shifted his eyes to Gideon. "You go first."
"Okay." The twinkle in her eyes dimmed somewhat. She suddenly looked a million miles away, lost in a world of imagination. "We would have a real tree, a tall one that almost touches the ceiling. With lights and decorations and a star on top for you and Mom." She released his hand and stretched her arms over her head. "A big turkey. And a fire truck for Dustin."
Brian could feel his heart breaking. Gideon's perfect Christmas was the kind most kids expected. But money had never come easily for him and Tish. This Christmas—like so many others—they would assemble a four-foot green-plastic tree and cover it with a seventy-cent box of tinsel. Toys would be secondhand and maybe missing parts. Dinner would be chicken and mashed potatoes.
But it was more than many people had, and he and Tish were grateful. Christmas was always wonderful, despite the lack of material trappings. And the children never complained, never made mention of the fact that their Christmases were any different from that of other children.
Of course, Gideon was hardly complaining. She was just playing along, talking about the topic he'd suggested. Brian clenched his jaw. If there'd been a way to find the money, he would have done just that—found the biggest, best, most fragrant, Christmas tree and all the trinkets and toys to go with it. But the mill had cut his hours down to twelve a week. It was barely a job. And Gideon's medical bills—
Brian pushed the thought from his mind. He met his daughter's eyes. "Didn't you forget someone?"
Her expression was open, unpretentious. Then it hit her and she giggled. "You mean me?"
- On Sale
- Dec 14, 2008
- Page Count
- 640 pages