Need a new life?
God takes trade-ins.
Jake Finley waited impatiently to be ushered into his father's executive
officethe office that would one day be his. The thought of
eventually stepping into J. R. Finley's shoes excited him. Even though
he'd slowly been working his way through the ranks, he'd be the first to
admit he still had a lot to learn. However, he was willing to do
whatever it took to prove himself.
Finley's was the last of the family-owned department stores in New York
City. His great-grandfather had begun the small mercantile on East 34th
Street more than seventy years earlier. In the decades since, succeeding
Finleys had opened branches in the other boroughs and then in nearby
towns. Eventually the chain had spread up and down the East Coast.
"Your father will see you now," Mrs. Coffey said. Dora Coffey
had served as J.R.'s executive assistant for at least twenty-five years
and knew as much about the company as Jake didmaybe more. He hoped
that when the time came she'd stay on, although she had to be close to
"Thank you." He walked into the large office with its panoramic
view of the Manhattan skyline. He'd lived in the city all his life, but
this view never failed to stir him, never failed to lift his heart. No
place on earth was more enchanting than New York in December. He could
see a light snow drifting down, and the city appeared even more magical
through that delicate veil.
Jacob R. Finley however, wasn't looking at the view. His gaze remained
focused on the computer screen. And his frown told Jake everything he
needed to know.
He cleared his throat, intending to catch J.R.'s attention, although he
suspected that his father was well aware of his presence. "You asked
to see me?" he said. Now that he was here, he had a fairly good idea
what had initiated this summons. Jake had hoped it wouldn't happen quite
so soon, but he should've guessed Mike Scott would go running to his
father at the first opportunity. Unfortunately, Jake hadn't had enough
time to prove that he was rightand Mike was wrong.
"How many of those SuperRobot toys did you order?" J.R.
demanded, getting straight to the point. His father had never been one
to lead gently into a subject. "Intellytron," he added
"Also known as Telly," Jake said in a mild voice.
"Five hundred." As if J.R. didn't know.
Jake struggled not to flinch at his father's angry tone, which was
something he rarely heard. They had a good relationship, but until now,
Jake hadn't defied one of his father's experienced buyers.
"For how many stores?"
J.R.'s brow relaxed, but only slightly. "Do you realize those things
retail for two hundred and fifty dollars apiece?"
J.R. knew the answer to that as well as Jake did. "Yes."
His father stood and walked over to the window, pacing back and forth
with long, vigorous strides. Although in his early sixties, J.R. was in
excellent shape. Tall and lean, like Jake himself, he had dark hair
streaked with gray and his features were well-defined. No one could
doubt that they were father and son. J.R. whirled around, hands linked
behind him. "Did you clear the order with
anyone?" Jake was
as straightforward as his father. "No." "Any particular
reason you went over Scott's head?" Jake had a very good reason.
"We discussed it. He didn't agree, but I felt this was the right
thing to do." Mike Scott had wanted to bring a maximum of fifty
robots into the Manhattan location. Jake had tried to persuade him, but
Mike wasn't interested in listening to speculation or taking what he saw
as a riskone that had the potential of leaving them with a huge
overstock. He relied on cold, hard figures and years of purchasing
experience. When their discussion was over, Mike still refused to go
against what he considered his own better judgment. Jake continued to
argue, presenting internet research and what his gut was telling him
about this toy. When he'd finished, Mike Scott had countered with a list
of reasons why fifty units per store would be adequate. More than
adequate, in his opinion. While Jake couldn't disagree with the other
man's logic, he had a strong hunch that the much larger order was worth
"You felt it was right?" his father repeated in a
scathing voice. "Mike Scott told me we'd be fortunate to sell fifty
in each store, yet you, with your vast experience of two months in the
toy department, decided the Manhattan store needed ten times that
Jake didn't have anything to add.
"I don't suppose you happened to notice that there's been a downturn
in the economy? Parents don't have two hundred and fifty bucks
for a toy. Not when a lot of families are pinching pennies."
"You made me manager of the toy department." Jake wasn't stupid
or reckless. "I'm convinced we'll sell those robots before
Christmas." As manager, it was his responsibilityand his
rightto order as he deemed fit. And if that meant overriding a
buyer's decisionwell, he could live with that.
"You think you can sell all five hundred of those
robots?" Skepticism weighted each word. "In two weeks?"
"Yes." Jake had to work hard to maintain his air of confidence.
Still he held firm.
His father took a moment to consider Jake's answer, walking a full
circle around his desk as he did. "As of this morning, how many
units have you sold?"
That was an uncomfortable question and Jake glanced down at the floor.
"Three." J.R. shook his head and stalked to the far side of the
room, then back again as if debating how to address the situation.
"So what you're saying is that our storeroom has four hundred and
ninety-seven expensive SuperRobots clogging it up?"
"They're going to sell, Dad."
"It hasn't happened yet, though, has it?"
"No, but I believe the robot's going to be the hottest toy of the
season. I've done the researchthis is the toy kids are talking
"Maybe, but let me remind you, kids aren't our customers.
Their parents are. Which is why no one else in the industry shares your
"I know it's a risk, Dad, but it's a calculated one. Have
His father snorted harshly at the word faith. "My faith died
along with your mother and sister," he snapped.
Involuntarily Jake's eyes sought out the photograph of his mother and
sister. Both had been killed in a freak car accident on Christmas Eve
twenty-one years ago. Neither Jake nor his father had celebrated
Christmas since that tragic night. Ironically, the holiday season was
what kept Finley's in the black financially. Without the three-month
Christmas shopping craze, the department-store chain would be out of
Because of the accident, Jake and his father ignored anything to do with
Christmas in their personal lives. Every December twenty-fourth, soon
after the store closed, the two of them got on a plane and flew to Saint
John in the Virgin Islands. From the time Jake was twelve, there hadn't
been a Christmas tree or presents or anything else that would remind him
of the holiday. Except, of course, at the store
"Trust me in this, Dad," Jake pleaded. "Telly the
Super-Robot will be the biggest seller of the season, and pretty soon
Finley's will be the only store in Manhattan where people can find
His father reached for a pen and rolled it between his fingers as he
mulled over Jake's words. "I put you in charge of the toy department
because I thought it would be a valuable experience for you. One day
you'll sit in this chair. The fate of the company will rest in your
His father wasn't telling him anything Jake didn't already know.
"If the toy department doesn't show a profit because you went over
Mike Scott's head, then you'll have a lot to answer for." He locked
eyes with Jake. "Do I make myself clear?"
Jake nodded. If the toy department reported a loss as a result of his
judgment, his father would question Jake's readiness to take over the
"Got it," Jake assured his father.
"Good. I want a report on the sale of that robot every week until
"You'll have it," Jake promised. He turned to leave.
"I hope you're right about this toy, son," J.R. said as Jake
opened the office door. "You've taken a big risk. I hope it pays
He wasn't the only one. Still, Jake believed. He'd counted on having
proof that the robots were selling by the time his father learned what
he'd done. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, which was generally
the biggest shopping day of the year, had been a major disappointment.
He'd fantasized watching the robots fly off the shelves.
It hadn't happened.
Although they'd been prominently displayed, just one of the expensive
toys had sold. He supposed his father had a point; in a faltering
economy, people were evaluating their Christmas budgets, so toys,
especially expensive ones, had taken a hit. Children might want the
robots but it was their parents who did the buying.
Jake's head throbbed as he made his way to the toy department. In his
rush to get to the store that morning, he'd skipped his usual stop at a
nearby Starbucks. He needed his caffeine fix.
"Welcome to Finley's. May I be of assistance?" an older woman
asked him. The store badge pinned prominently on her neat gray cardigan
told him her name was Mrs. Emily Miracle. Her smile was cheerful and
engaging. She must be the new sales assistant Human Resources had been
promising himbut she simply wouldn't do. Good grief, what were
they thinking up in HR? Sales in the toy department could be brisk,
demanding hours of standing, not to mention dealing with cranky kids and
short-tempered parents. He needed someone young. Energetic.
"What can I show you?" the woman asked.
Jake blinked, taken aback by her question. "I beg your pardon?"
"Are you shopping for one of your children?"
"Well, no. I"
She didn't allow him to finish and steered him toward the center aisle.
"We have an excellent selection of toys for any age group. If you're
looking for suggestions, I'd be more than happy to help."
She seemed completely oblivious to the fact that he was the department
managerand therefore her boss. "Excuse me, Mrs
glanced at her name tag a second time.
"Actually, it's Merkle."
"The badge says Miracle."
"Right," she said, looking a bit chagrined. "HR made a
mistake, but I don't mind. You can call me Mrs. Miracle."
Speaking of miracles
If ever Jake needed one, it was now. Those
robots had to sell. His entire future with the company could
depend on this toy.
"I'd be more than happy to assist you," Mrs. Miracle said again,
breaking into his thoughts.
"I'm Jake Finley."
"Pleased to meet you. Do you have a son or a daughter?" she
"This is Finley's Department Store," he said pointedly.
Apparently this new employee had yet to make the connection, which left
Jake wondering exactly where HR found their seasonal help. There had to
be someone more capable than this woman.
"Finley," Mrs. Miracle repeated slowly. "Jacob Robert is
your father, then?"
"Yes," he said, frowning. Only family and close friends knew his
father's middle name.
Her eyes brightened, and a smile slid into place. "Ahh," she
"You're acquainted with my father?" That could explain why she'd
been hired. Maybe she had some connection to his family he knew nothing
"No, no, not directly, but I have heard a great deal about
So had half the population on the East Coast. "I'm the manager here
in the toy department," he told her.
Excerpted from "Call Me Mrs. Miracle" by Debbie Macomber. Copyright © 0 by Debbie Macomber. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.