Catching Up withLeah Atwood


Bryce Landry, country music’s hottest star, has it all, or so everyone on the outside thinks. They can’t see his struggle to discover himself, to find his place in unfamiliar territories, both as a dad and as a Christian. He takes a month off and escapes to the small town of Oden Bridge, Louisiana, where his daughter lives with his grandparents. 

Sophie Thatcher has never been a risk taker, but she has no complaints and never thought her life lacked until her boyfriend of three years breaks off their relationship. Only then, does she begin to question what she’s missed by always playing it safe. Meeting Bryce is a call to action. She can let fear rule or trust in faith, which means taking the biggest risk of her life. 

As the weeks and months pass, they discover finding each other was easy, but holding on will be a different story. 

In Come to Me Alive, best-selling author Leah Atwood weaves an inspirational love story of redemption, faith and trust in God.



“Watch out!”

Interrupted from her reading, Sophie Thatcher looked up to see a crazed duck with a bright red beak heading straight toward her. She dropped the latest Gwendolyn Gwen romance novel to the ground, jumped and ran, with no destination in mind except to escape the mad waterfowl. The duck continued after her, relentless in its pursuit. Who knew a duck was able to move with such speed?

The man who’d called out the warning ran up behind her, swinging a clear bag of… bread? The duck retreated, opting to chase food instead of her. She leaned over and tried to catch her breath, her heart beating at an erratic pace. Maybe this was a sign she should exercise on a regular basis. Or it could be it wasn’t the exertion as much her body’s reaction to the duck’s pursuit.

“Are you okay, miss?” The man with a plastic bag approached her. “I’m so sorry.”

“Not your fault,” she managed to say through short, choppy breaths. Returning to an upright position, she got her first good look at the man who’d called the warning. He was attractive, even if not her type. He looked to be around her age, or possibly a few years older. Short brown hair matched deep chocolate-hued eyes, which were framed with eyelashes long enough to make any girl jealous. Rugged stubble lined his jaw. A slate blue t-shirt covered a muscular upper body, and she thought she saw a tattoo peeking out from under its sleeve. She didn’t stare long enough to be sure.

His chest shook, and he clamped his lips shut. He looked as if he were torn between being horrified or wanting to burst out laughing.

“Actually, it is.” He flashed a smile full of a sheepish charm. “My daughter and I were feeding the ducks and the rogue one got mad when the others took all the food. Next thing I know, he started running straight toward you.”

Her cheeks hurt from holding back her own laughter. She gave up trying and soon the stranger joined her as a little girl walked their way.

“What’s so funny, Daddy?” The little girl tugged on the man’s jeans.

“Nothing, sweetheart.”

“Can we finish feeding the ducks now?”

“I think the ducks are full. How about we swing for a little while before going back to Gram’s house.”

“Okay,” agreed the young girl, with a cheerful temperament.

Sophie wiped away a tear from laughing. “Thanks for the rescue.” She began walking back to the tree where she’d discarded her book.

“Least I could do,” he called out, in a deep, melodious voice that set her skin tingling.

Stop it, Sophie. He had a daughter, which meant a good chance existed that he was married, which meant she had no business thinking about the silkiness of his voice, or the cute factor earned by bringing his daughter to the park.

Her phone buzzed and sang Come to Me Alive, the latest hit from country music star, Bryce Landry. A glance at the screen told her it was an unknown number. Probably a telemarketer. She hit “ignore” and replaced the phone to her pocket.

“You’re a Bryce fan?”

Startled, she jumped and looked behind her. The man was following her.

She shoved one hand in a side pocket of her shorts. “This song at least. I’m not too familiar with his other music, but the lyrics are beautiful and came to me when I needed them after a breakup.” Good grief, Soph. A simple yes or no would have sufficed. She never spilled her thoughts to a stranger, especially not to a male.

“Sorry to hear. About the breakup, not the song.” He rocked on his heels but maintained eye contact.

She shrugged, giving off the impression the breakup was no longer a big deal. “It was for the best; I see that now.”

Partially because of the song, Come to Me Alive. When she’d first heard the song on the radio two weeks ago, she’d immediately looked it up, and downloaded it as her ringtone. The lyrics and music combined into a beautiful ballad, touching her in a way that made the breakup with Ryan make sense.

Ryan. They’d dated for three years, since the summer before their senior year of college. Last month, he’d broken off their relationship, just when she had thought they were heading toward an engagement.

“I’ll always love you as a friend,” he’d said, “but I don’t feel any passion between us. Staying together wouldn’t be fair to either of us.”

His words still stung, yet they were true. Especially after listening to the lyrics of Come to Me Alive. Was a relationship that didn’t invigorate the right one? With Ryan, she’d been coasting, along for the ride but never looking out the window to enjoy the trip.

“Most of the time, life doesn’t turn out how we plan, does it?” The stranger glanced to his daughter, a peculiar expression crossing his face. “The funny thing is, in hindsight, you can see God’s hand in every moment.”

His words stopped Sophie in her tracks from where she had started back toward the tree again. “You’re a Christian?”

“I’m approaching my one year birthday.”

A smile curled her lips. “Congratulations.” Stranger or not, he was a brother in Christ. She looked at her watch. “Yikes. I’m going to be late for my tutoring session.”

“You tutor?”

“During the summer and as needed throughout the school year.”

“Let me guess— you’re a kindergarten teacher.”

“First grade,” she corrected.

“I was close. Gracie will be in kindergarten this year.”

“I’m five,” the cherubic girl piped up.

She stooped down, putting herself eye-level with Gracie. “Five is a very special age. You’ll love kindergarten.”

“Mommy was a teacher too, but she’s in Heaven now.” The little girl spoke the words with the innocence of a child, but they broke Sophie’s heart.

“Her mom died last year.” Gracie’s still-nameless dad offered the information that she had been wondering, although it wasn’t her business.

“I’m sorry,” she told the man, unsure what the appropriate response was. She glanced at her watch. “I really have to go. Have a good day and stay away from the ducks,” she added before laughing with a nervous edge.

Something about the incident unsettled her in an indescribable way. With a turn of her feet, she hurried to her economic-but-reliable sedan.

“Wait,” the stranger called as she buckled her seatbelt. “You forgot something.”

He ran toward her car, pulling his daughter along in one hand and holding Sophie’s book in the other. Either he was very thoughtful or a psycho. Intuition told her the former was the truth.

“Thanks.” She took the book from him; his hand lingered on the cover.

“Can I have your name?” He gave her a charming grin. “Years from now, when I tell my grandchildren how I saved a beautiful woman from a raving mad duck, I need to have a name for her.”

With his creative plea, how could she deny his request? “Sophie Thatcher.”

She put the car in reverse and backed out from her spot. Once in her client’s driveway, she realized she didn’t get the stranger’s name in return. Her heart thumped harder and an inexplicable sense of loss came over her.

Chatting with Leah Atwood
Here is my confession: I am a fall junkie. Everything about it, I absolutely love. I’ve tried just about every food there is that’s made with some form of pumpkin or pumpkin spice. My love for this season has been ingrained in me since I was a child. I grew up in Maryland, right on the Pennsylvania border.  Our landscape was beautiful rolling hills that came alive with color during the fall.  

When I met my husband, his career took me far away from my home. Moving away from my family was hard, but during the fall it hits me the most. I live in the deep South now and our Autumns are nothing like I’m accustomed to.  They’re warm (a blessing to be sure, at times), the leaves don’t get the vibrant colors I was used to, and smells of woodstoves burning don’t fill the air.  

Last year, I particularly struggled with homesickness, until one day something happened.  Now, if you all knew my husband, you’d know he’s not the romantic type whatsoever, which made this that much sweeter.  One day at work, he was walking to his truck and happened to spot a leaf on the ground that covered the spectrum of fall covers. It was absolutely beautiful. It was green on one edge that transitioned to yellow, then orange, then red. It was a fall rainbow. He knew it would bring a smile to my face, so he carefully wrapped it in a paper towel and brought it home.

And that’s when I was reminded that, while I do miss my family back home, I am so blessed to have a wonderful husband and children. There are still days when I wish I could hop in my car and go visit my parents, or be there for my nieces’ and nephews’ special events, but when I get discouraged, I pull out that leaf and  remember all the blessings I’ve received in return.

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