Katherine Barclift had it all: the perfect job, the perfect car, and what she thought was the perfect marriage. But when her entire world collapses in one stomach-churning instant, she hits the road and keeps driving until that so-called “perfect life” is just a dot in her rearview mirror.
A chance encounter leads her to make a pit stop in Boot Creek, a drowsy little North Carolina town where she can call herself Katy, soak up the peace and quiet…and drink in the bluer-than-blue eyes of Derek Hansen, a local doctor still wrestling with his own painful past. Both Katy and Derek are wary about giving romance another shot, but they can’t deny the intense attraction between them. And if being in Boot Creek has taught them anything, it’s to take life as it comes and never pass up a chance at true love…no matter how wounded your heart may be.
June days in Georgia were mostly spectacular and sunny, if not a little too darn hot, and on this particular one, the weather wasn’t a match for the mood.
Katherine Barclift and her husband, Ron, walked hand in hand up the landscaped path leading to the huge church where the funeral service was being held for their neighbor, Donald O’Connor.
A large crowd had gathered already. As folks filed through the tall arched front doors of the chapel, Katherine spotted Peggy Allen and Shaleigh Wright waiting near the entrance.
She made a beeline for her two friends. “It’s so sad,” she said as she reached out to hug Peggy. Ron hung back a couple steps.
“Poor Bertie. I can’t believe Donald died like that. No warning at all,” Peggy said. “I mean, if he were a type A guy I could totally see it happening, but all Donald did was golf and fish. How hard can that be on the heart?”
“I know.” Katherine shook her head. “So sad, and he wasn’t that old.” He was the same age her parents were, and the news of his death had made Katherine worry about them for the first time.
“You’ve been with Bertie all week, Katherine. She hadn’t seen any signs?” Shaleigh asked.
“None.” Katherine shrugged. “She said he was perfectly fine. Just didn’t wake up.”
“He seemed so healthy,” Peggy said.
Ron placed his hand on Katherine’s arm and said, “I’ll go ahead and sign the guest book and get us seats while you talk.”
“Sure, honey. Thanks.” Katherine watched as her husband walked up the stairs to the chapel. He still had a way of making her swoon. He hadn’t had to adjust his wardrobe at all for the funeral today. He sported a nice suit and tie every day of the week. Katherine turned to Shaleigh. “Is it just me or is this the biggest chapel you’ve ever seen? I always thought chapels were small, with steeples twice as tall as the buildings were wide.”
“I think it’s just you,” Shaleigh said. “Living in that pretend world you like to think is so charming and perfect.”
“Perfect is good. Or perfect. Whatever it is, I like my world that way, thank you very much,” Katherine teased, but it was only a half-joke. After spending the week with Bertie, helping her figure out her finances and funeral arrangements, Katherine had a long laundry list of things she planned to discuss with her own parents and sister to ensure they were better prepared than poor Bertie had been.
Shaleigh raised a heavily penciled brow. “Well, someone’s life ought to be perfect. May as well be you.”