Child in a Manger: Chapter 3

And so the thing we were all expecting comes to pass—Allison’s boss insists that Allison take baby Joy home with her, since no other foster family can be found.

We also learn that it is actually Christmas Eve, which kinda surprises me, since I suppose I think of live Nativity scenes as things that happen more before Christmas than December 23rd.  Then again, not speaking from personal experience here.  😉

Brock is grumbling in his head about how much this Christmas Eve sucks, since he’s been pulling an extra shift to find the mother.  He’s always feeling pretty inadequate because the local news has actually been covering this story, and Brock suspects that any moment now, they’re going to be writing about how much he sucks.

His coworker [Jane, the dispatcher] appeared annoyed at having to work while everyone else spent time with family, attending Christmas Eve services or roasting chestnuts, if people outside storybooks really did that.  Too bad for her she had a family to go home to.  On nights like this one, when law enforcement officers worked double shifts while the rest of the world celebrated, it paid to be alone in the world.  Just the way he wanted to be.

Oh, shut up, Jane.  I have zero patience with people who whine about working holidays.  And it’s not only law enforcement, you two, while “the rest of the world” gets a vacation.  Unless you think that hospitals and nursing homes and gas stations and fire stations and taxis just stop on the holidays.  I, and almost everyone I know, has worked the holidays over the years, often many times.  Plenty of times, too, people like it, because they get paid time-and-a-half or double overtime.  And if you chose a career in medicine or law enforcement, for example, you probably should have expected this going in.  Just sayin’.

Bah humbug.

And Brock kinda cutely chides himself for being a liar, since he’s been thinking about how much he’s liking Allison.  And how much he likes her looks (which she hates) because she looks like the kind of girl who would be happy snuggled up for movies and popcorn.  Nice.  Seriously.

And he finds out that Allison is the one providing foster care for the baby.  And off he rushes to her place, though not for any investigative purpose…

He could tell himself he was only checking up on the abandoned infant, but truth be told, he was far more curious about the baby’s temporary caregiver.

Aww.  That’s kinda sweet, too.

He didn’t even have to look up her address again, since he’d already done that and had passed by her small ranch home three times since then, always on his way to somewhere else.

Wait, what?

Okay, that is not so kinda sweet.

Brock, seriously, what the hell?  How’s about doing a bit of investigative work instead of driving past a woman’s house three times in one friggin’ day???  Holy crap, sir.

Anyway, he heads to her house, and two full pages are spent in Brock thinking how attractive Allison looks, fresh from the shower in her jeans and sweater.  And noticing how Joy digs into Allison’s chest when she’s hungry.

Wow.  This is way racier than either of our previous Love Inspired Christmas romances.  He is noticing Allison’s voluptuous breasts!  Damn, son, that is not very Christian of you!

He holds the baby while Allison prepares a bottle, and again, is super-sweet, kissing the baby’s little head, “natural as anything he’d ever done.”

Too cute.

He even changes the kid’s diaper, and thus digs around the diaper bag again…but this time, he finds a note from the mother:


Remember that I love you.

Your Mother.

Wow.  Um, short but…short.

And so very personal!

Brock is as unimpressed as I am:

“Yeah, she loved her, all right.  Enough to desert her.”

Damn straight.

But Allison takes great exception to the idea that Brock should ever speak ill of an absentee mother who isn’t even around to hear the insult, because “How can you possibly know her heart?

You’re right, Allison, we can’t know her heart.  We can only know her actions, those being leaving a month-old baby in a rickety piece of used-once-a-year scenery, trusting that the child will awaken before the cast deserts said scenery, leaving her alone in the “frigid December air.”

Brock, bless his heart, doesn’t take such bullshit sitting down, and says he knows gorram well how mothers can abandon their kids.  Allison, of course, immediately intuits that Brock is talking about his mom!




Posted on December 6, 2014, in Books, Child in a Manger, Christmas. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I know that the town is a stereotypical small town, but surely, small towns have hospitals, right? A hospital would be warmer than a rickety piece of stage equipment.

    Oh yeah, we wouldn’t have a way for Brock and Allison to get together. The baby in this story serves about the same purpose as a stage prop.

    Also, re: working on the holidays: I knew people who worked on the holidays, too, and some people complained while other people didn’t really mind it because the pay was good and/or it gave them something to do because they didn’t have family to spend time with for whatever reason. So…yeah.

    • Presumably the baby’s mother doesn’t want to be identified, and that would be more difficult if she took her to a hospital, with cameras and people around. Especially if there’s no Safe Haven law in effect wherever this takes place, so she’d still be breaking the law if she didn’t fill out God-knows-how-much paperwork.

      It’s completely unsurprising to me that someone felt she needed to hide her pregnancy from the residents of this close-knit Christian town.

      • I’m amazed that she’s been able to hide 9 months pregnancy in a village with a population of 700. I guess it helps that the last few months were during the heavy coat season, but still… Odds are someone would’ve spotted it, and gossiped it around town.

      • Ah. That’d make sense. And if the town was that small and close-knit, even if there was a Safe Haven law, it probably wouldn’t prevent gossip where names aren’t named but our unidentified mother would know that they were talking about her.

        Man, Ruby’s right. Small towns do suck. And that’s coming from someone who would like to live in one if only because it’s safer than the city I currently live in.

        I’m with Ivan on this one. How anyone could hide a pregnancy in a town with a population of about 700 is beyond me. The reasoning is totally understandable, though.

  2. Wow, this nativity scene was an outdoor event? I guess I pictured it as being indoors. Abandoning a baby on an unheated stage makes the whole “child found in a manger” scenario even more contrived (and irresponsible). I agree with Rubyfruit, the baby is not a character in this story, she’s the MacGuffin. I hope the mother eventually makes an appearance, so we can learn something of her motives. Other than plot convenience, that is.

    And just how much stuff was in that diaper bag, that Brock couldn’t find the note the first time he looked through it? I mean it is about the only piece of evidence in this case, so you’d think he would examine it closely. Or does Brock feel about evidence provided by diaper bags the same way he feels about evidence provided by women?

    “As was his habit, Brock ignored the diaper bag and searched for a briefcase that could provide details.”

  3. To be fair to Brock, the way I read that bit about passing by her house was that he wasn’t driving by deliberately; it just happened to be on his way to other places.

    • Hmm, it’s unclear but I’m inclined to agree with Ruby. Firstly because it comes right after Brock pointing out that he’s making excuses to visit her, so it’s not much of a stretch to assume he was making excuses for driving past her house. And secondly, he looked up her address first, probably using police resources to do so.

      • Or a phone book.

        It sounds stalkerish, but I can just as easily read it as someone struggling with his unwanted, incipient crush. He could be trying to figure out if Allison has a boyfriend without revealing his interest. It’s still creepy, but that’s because he’s a police officer acting like he’s in junior high school. That works, though, given the emotional immaturity we’ve seen from Brock.

        (I wonder how this immaturity will be spun when he converts.)

    • I couldn’t decide. That sentence is a frickin’ Rorschach test. It’s so vague, you have to project your own interpretation onto it.

  4. I’ve always liked working over holidays. Though I suspect if I had a higher-pressure job and didn’t get time to spend with my wife and other friends as a regular thing, I’d find it more annoying.

  5. Oh come on… if the town population is only 700, you’d probably already KNOW exactly where she lives, what she eats for dinner, and the names of the last 5 people she’s slept with.

    Nothing is hidden in a small town. But then, how has Brock not already met her….

    As to working holidays, it’s not just EMS and law enforcement. People at fast food places have to work holidays all the time, and I don’t blame them for being pissed, cuz it’s not like McDonalds is something that can’t be shut down for like, a day.

    • you’d probably already KNOW exactly where she lives

      That had occurred to me as well, but Brock’s being depicted as the outsider who’s only been in town for two months. The problem with that, for me, is that he’s a police officer. Sure, I’d still be clueless after two months, but I’d expect him to have a pretty good handle on where people live by now.

      Maybe Brock is an introvert. That would also explain why he doesn’t have anyone to talk to about his crush on Allison. Would an introvert even make a good cop?

  6. inquisitiveraven

    I’m going to be traveling on Christmas day, and frequently end up traveling on Thanksgiving, so that’s also train operators and conductors, mass transit workers and possibly ticket sellers at the train station. I assume that airlines also run during the holidays.

    My sister, aka my pro-firefighter reference, is prone to volunteering to work the holidays precisely so someone else can spend time with family. Heck, I’ve done my share of EMS shifts on holidays. The time I was on for New Year’s Eve, my complaints were more along the lines of “Oh gods, the drunks are going to be out in force,” than resentment of having to work on a holiday. Oh right, volly, not pro, anyway. That particular

  7. inquisitiveraven

    I was rereading the post when I realized that Brock thought the dispatcher was unhappy, not just about working

  8. inquisitiveraven

    I was rereading the post when I realized that Brock thought the dispatcher was unhappy, not just about working on the holiday, but working a double shift. The only reason I can see for that being an issue is if somebody (probably several somebodies) managed to arrange the day off well in advance.

    Previous comment posted prematurely. It’s undoubtedly the cat’s fault.

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