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From the New York Timesbestselling author of More Than Friends comes an emotionally charged novel that reflects upon the consequences of one irrevocable act.
In the idyllic small town of Tucker, Vermont, life flows at a rhythmic pace for pediatrician Paige Pfeiffer. But when Mara O'Neill, her best friend and medical partner, inexplicably kills herself, Paige's comfortable life is suddenly shattered. Temporarily caring for Mara's newly adopted baby daughter while she comes to grips with her grief, Paige clings to the hope that, in time, her orderly life will return.
What she hadn't counted on were the unexpected pleasures that often come with change, including the touch of a man who offers Paige things she never thought she wanted. She hadn't counted on finding the meaning of life in the death of a friend.
For everyone who has ever made a choice between what is and what could be, Barbara Delinsky unveils a truly moving gift from the heart that captures one woman's story and ultimately speaks to us all.
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Paige Pfeiffer Ran At The Front Of The pack, setting a pace that a less bold thirty-nine-year old might not dare, but she had a point to prove and a bet to win. The bet involved dinner at Bernie's Béarnaise, central Vermont's most chichi restaurant. The point was that a woman her age who was in shape could easily beat a woman half her age who wasn't. At stake was the respect of the Mount Court Academy girls' varsity cross-country team, of which she was head coach for the fifth year in a row.
The race had become a tradition, albeit a predictable one. For the first of the three miles, the girls tossed cocky comments from one to the next. The comments waned during the second mile, which wove through a path in the woods and grew demanding of teenage bodies that had spent the summer indulging in the luxuries of the rich. Back on the road for the third mile, the pack thinned. Laboring runners fell behind. Only the stars of the team stayed with Paige.
There were six stars this year. Five of them had run for her the year before. The other was new to the school.
"How we doin'?" Paige asked of the group, and heard gasping complaints. Feeling wicked, she smiled. "Let's pick it up." She moved easily ahead of the others. Three moved with her. Minutes later, when she increased the pace again, only one remained. It was the new girl, so quiet up to that point that Paige knew little more than that her name was Sara Dickinson. Paige was surprised by her stamina. She was doubly surprised when, with a surge of speed, the girl took the lead.
Paige had to work to stay with her as they turned in under the wrought-iron arch that marked the school's entrance, and for a minute she wondered if indeed she were past her prime. When the thought of that rankled, she dug deep inside and found the wherewithal to draw even. Shoulder to shoulder they ran, down the long drive cordoned with tall oaks whose leaves were a ripe September green. Without missing a beat, they veered off onto the dirt path that cut to the field house.
"You're good," Paige breathed with a look at the girl beside her. She was tall for her age, had a lithe build, a comfortable stride, and a look of concentration that was nothing if not stern.
As Paige watched in darting glances, that concentration suddenly shifted, and in the space of seconds she was alone. Sara had reversed direction and was walking, winded but intent, toward the shrubbery edging the path. One by one, the others joined her there.
Paige made a wide turn and, slowing to a cooldown pace, headed back. In various stages of breathlessness, the girls were grouped around Sara, who was crouched beside a spreading yew. It was a minute before Paige saw what was beneath the bottommost branch.
"It's so tiny.
"Whose is it?"
"How did it get here?"
Forgetting the race, Paige knelt down. She took the kitten, which was orange and gray and mewling piteously, in her hand and asked Sara, "How did you ever spot it hidden this way?"
"Something moved," Sara said, and the chorus resumed.
"It doesn't belong here. Mount Court only has dogs."
"Someone must have snuck it in --"
"Then abandoned it."
"It looks starved."
Paige was thinking the same and wondering what could be done, when all eyes turned her way.
"We can't leave it here."
"It'll die, it's so little."
"That'd be cruel."
"You'll have to take it, Dr. Pfeiffer."
Paige pictured her overstuffed home. "I don't have room for a pet. I don't have time for one."
"Cats are easy. They take care of themselves."
"You keep it," Paige countered.
"It's against dorm rules."
SuddenlyBy: Barbara Delinsky