Only one person knows why Kat Thatcher left her Oklahoma hometown ten years ago. Why she ran to the city and became a workaholic doctor. Why she put off marriage...indefinitely. And that person is now staring her in the face on her first day back in town! Seth Washington is as handsome as ever. Way too available. And wanting to talk about the past--which Kat prefers to leave alone. Seth insists the Lord is on their side and always was. Kat's starting to believe, but will that be enough for love?
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August 31, 2008
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Excerpt from A Time to Heal by Linda Goodnight
"I'm never going back."
Dr. Kathryn Thatcher lay in the wooden porch swing, one arm slung across her eyes, her weary body soaking up sun.
She hadn't been outside in such a long time she'd likely suffer second-degree burn. But the old family home at Wilson's Cove, Oklahoma, was tailor-made for lazing around, something the career-driven Dr. Thatcher never did. Until now.
Three days and counting since she'd asked her medical director for a leave of absence and walked out. In truth, she wanted to resign, but he'd talked her out of it. Didn't matter. She was done, finished, through.
Too many dead kids would do that to a person.
"A few days' rest and you'll be ready to go again. You're just tired."
Kat's sister, Susan Renfro, sat on the top step of the long wooden porch, fingers laced around one knee, short dark unruly curls gleaming in the sunlight. She'd gained more weight, something Kat was not about to mention, considering Susan had never lost the extra twenty pounds from Sadie's birth four years ago. Three kids and a love for Southern comfort cooking had destroyed her sister's former cheerleader body.
Who was she to talk? She'd added a few pounds, too, and her idea of exercise was running from one exam room to another.
"I'm more than tired, Suz," Kat said, though she couldn't deny the exhaustion. "Maybe I made a mistake. Maybe I wasn't cut out for the medical profession."
Memories of that last, terrible night pressed in. Kat shivered, still hearing the incessant rain hammering against the glass E.R. doors as ambulance after ambulance arrived, carrying victims from a five-car pileup on I-35. Thirty-six hours of blood and death, the worst of it being that all the fatalities were teenagers.
"A career in medicine is all you ever wanted, Kat. It's who you are."
Lately, Kat wasn't sure who she was or what she wanted.
Her older sister meant well, but she had no idea what an E.R. physician's life was like.
Like most girls in Wilson's Cove, Susan married her high school sweetheart the summer after graduation and settled down around the 700 acre recreational lake, content to raise a family and take care of the family's rental cabins. She'd never gone to college, much less spent years working eighty hours a week until she was a zombie inside and out. She'd also never had to bear the news to parents that their beautiful, fresh-faced sixteen-year-old would never graduate from high school.
"Becoming a doctor was all I wanted as a kid. I'm not a kid anymore." She'd gone into medicine to save lives. Lately, all she'd done was sign death certificates.
"Then, what do you want?"
"I don't know." There was the truth. She wanted to be happy. She wanted to feel joy. She wanted some intangible something that lacked definition. But if she admitted as much, she'd get a sermon. To her sister, life revolved around faith in God. That was fine for Susan. Religion hadn't worked so well for Kathryn. She and God had let each other down a long time ago.
"I'm being sued," she said.
"For what?" Susan frowned and sat up straighter, ready to defend her baby sister. The sight warmed a cold spot inside of Kathryn. That was the great thing about family and one of the things she'd forgotten in her long absences from the cove.
"For being a doctor, I guess. I never even saw the patient, but I wrote and signed a discharge summary for his chart. Therefore, I am as liable for his death as the blood clot that killed him."
"Happens all the time." Another reason she was back in Wilson's Cove for good. She was tired of fighting the system.
"What are you going to do about it?"
"Nothing I can do except let the lawyers duke it out." And sit by while her malpractice insurance jumped into yet another exorbitant bracket.
"Well, that's just wrong."
Kat agreed, resentment boiling up inside her like a geyser. But if she followed that train of thought, she'd have a stroke.
Closing her eyes, she tried not to think at all, a major problem for a woman whose mind never stopped churning. She was always thinking, always working, always planning. Sometimes she wanted to scream for her mind to shut up.
April was here and, oh, how she loved the wild Oklahoma spring. With iron determination, she concentrated on the sights and sounds, anything to wash away the memories of her work in Oklahoma City.
Lilacs and peach blossoms scented the air with gentle sweetness, and the hum of bees and other insects filled the afternoon. A butterfly hovered on one of Susan's geranium pots, a splash of yellow on fuchsia. Spring meant new beginnings, new growth, the rebirth of nature after a long, hard winter. For a silly moment, Kat wished she could be a tulip or a daffodil, ready to burst into newness.
"Guess who I saw this morning?" Susan asked after a long period of silence.
"I give up," Kat said, lazily opened her eyes to peer into Susan's clear blue ones. "Who?"