Once there were three Cromwell girls. But their father abducted the baby...and neither was seen again. The loss has haunted sisters Kate and Jo ever since, though they can't bear to talk about it.
And then life's ups and downs send the Cromwell women back to tiny Santa Sofia, Florida. To the cottage containing their worst--and best--memories. Where Kate will reconnect with the magnetic single father she'd run from years ago. Where Jo will fall for the handsome minister of the Traveler's Wayside Chapel. And where the cottage caretaker, a familiar young woman named Moxie Weatherby, will get the surprise of her life.
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February 29, 2008
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Excerpt from The Barefoot Believers by Annie Jones
Good ol' Kate.
Kate the bossy.
Kate the brave.
Kate the buttinsky.
Capable Kate. Commanding Kate. Clever Kate.
Even She's-So-Cranky-She-Needs-a-Date Kate.
Podiatrist Kate Cromwell would have gladly (gladly as in mustering up a genuine laugh, a less than enthusiastic smile and pleading, "Fun's over, knock it off now" between gritted teeth) answered to them all.
But the one name she would not respond to, the nickname she had worked long and hard to keep shoved down into the recesses of her long and vivid memory? The name she had vowed to keep off the tips of the tongues of anyone who knew her in the life she had so carefully crafted for herself over the last decade? The name given to her as a nervous, gangly child, always lurking about trying to listen in on grown-up conversations in hopes of finding out something, anything, that might answer some of her questions or help her learn how to heal her broken home? The name that reminded her of how she had, as a young woman, done a cold and hurtful thing that had cost her and two people she loved a chance for happiness as a family? That name she would not, could not, acknowledge, much less accept and respond to with a cheery smile.
"Well, let's get on with this, Scat-Kat-Katie!" Her two o'clock appointment checked the silver wristwatch that bit into the soft flesh of her age-spotted arm. She tapped the crystal above the yellowed face, with the hands clearly pointing to the two and a quarter hour past. She clucked her tongue. "You were born ten days past your due date and have been hurrying to catch up ever since, li'l Scat Kat."
"That's Dr. Scat...uh, that is Kate, if you don't mind." Control. That was what this situation called for. She had a job to do, an unpleasant one, and if she lost control now, Kate would never be able to follow through with her plans. She motioned toward the examining table with the chart in her hand.
"I do mind, I mind very much."
The woman hopped up with ease, plopped down and began to wriggle around, making the white paper beneath her crinkle. "Seeing as I was the one who carried you around those nine months and ten days. Add twenty-three hours of labor, thirty years of working as a single mom to provide a home for you and your sister, pay for your health care, your education, and put in thirty-eight years of pushing you and praying for you."
"That's all understood and appreciated." Soothing yet unyielding. That was the tone Kate had wanted to project.
Hard to do when wrestling with guilt that her mother had made an appointment, the only one Kate had scheduled for today, and Kate and her sister had concocted a plan to use that innocent action for their own purposes. On top of that, Kate was wrangling with her own inner child, who had grabbed a mental calculator and was doing some quick figuring.
Thirty years of work. Mom was sixty-six and had just retired. Dad had taken off when Kate was eight.... Close enough. But that other number bothered her. Thirty-eight years of pushing and praying.
Kate was thirty-nine. Did that mean her mother had started shaving years off out of shame over having a daughter unmarried and nearing forty? Or had Mom actually stopped praying for her sometime in the past year?
Kate was a believer. She knew God's eye was on the sparrow and felt absolutely that He held her in the palm of His hand. But she also drew great strength from feeling her mother had her covered in prayers, as well. Now to wonder about that, and after the lousy year she had had trying to get her practice going, at the cost of a personal life and her life savings...
Her stomach clenched. She could hardly swallow.
She used every ounce of her professional decorum to excuse herself, then stepped quietly and confidently out of the examining room. From that point it took every bit of reserve she possessed not to simply run like crazy.