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Her Hometown Hero

By:Melody Anne

Her Hometown Hero
Melody Anne


As I continue this journey in this magical land of writing, I have so  much to be thankful for that a single page or two in a book could never  possibly express how happy I am and how grateful I am to the people who  make my world a better place. There are times I don't see anyone for  days or weeks while I finish up a story, but you all hold your arms wide  open when I return and that means more to me than you could ever  imagine.

I have friends and family, some of whom I have had my entire life and  some whom I've been blessed with in the later years, and each and every  one of you makes my life complete.

I live in a small town, which is why I write so much about family,  because that's what living in a small town is: it's having a huge  extended family, where people wave when you drive or walk by and where  if someone asks if there's anything they can do for you, they mean it. I  love that and never want to change it. Thank you to my community for  inspiring me and supporting me. I am so glad to have raised my kids in a  safe and beautiful place.

Thank you to my family at Pocket Books who make me feel like a rock star  and who support me, encourage me, and make me feel like I have a place  in this world where I'm allowed to let my imagination come to life on  paper.

Thank you to my team at home who work long hours, keep me sane, and  remind me to live a little. Without you, I couldn't do what I love!

Thank you to my family, my beautiful daughter and son, my husband, and  my four dogs. Home is my safety net. It's my favorite place to be, and  nothing brings me greater pleasure than to have it filled with all the  people I love.

Thank you to my fans! You have been with me from the beginning and your  encouraging words inspire me, motivate me, and often bring me to tears.  There are so many who mean the world to me, and I've been lucky enough  to meet several of you. You inspire me more than anything else. Cynthia  Pak, I still think of you each time I brush my teeth after our crazy  time in New Orleans. I love you all so much. Thank you, thank you, thank  you.


"Hi, sweetheart, how are you doing?" Bethel asked in a frail voice,  crossing her fingers that her acting abilities would carry her through  this phone call.

"I'm fine, Grandma," Sage said unsurely. "But you sound a little unlike yourself. What's the matter?"

The girl's voice was full of worry. Check, Bethel thought.

"Oh, I don't want to bother you, dear. I know how busy you are." Bethel  couldn't help adding a long-suffering sigh. "I was just wondering how  the residency applications have been going. Have you had any offers?" If  Sage had even the slightest clue about the amount of meddling her  grandmother was planning, Bethel would be toast-very burned toast.

Of course, she couldn't have done any meddling at all without the help  of her friends Judge Martin Whitman, Eileen Gagnon, Maggie Winchester,  and the ultimate meddler, Joseph Anderson-but her lips were forever  sealed, for all their sakes.

"It's great, Grandma. I have six interviews scheduled over the next two  weeks. I'm really hoping to get in at Johns Hopkins. It would do wonders  for my career."

"That's wonderful to hear," Bethel said, and immediately began coughing.

"Grandma? Are you okay?"

Bethel felt a mountain load of guilt as she faked an illness she was far  from feeling. "Just . . . a . . . minute . . ." she gasped, then put  the phone on mute so Sage couldn't hear her.

"Are you sure we should do this to Sage?" she asked her best friend, Eileen.

"It's up to you. I'm feeling pretty guilty," Eileen replied.

"I just worry so much about her," Bethel said. "I want her home."

"Grandma! Are you there? Do I need to call emergency services?"

Bethel quickly unmuted the phone.

"I'm all right, darling. Don't you worry about me," Bethel said weakly. "What about the hospital near home? Did you apply?"

"I struggled with whether to do that or not, but in the end I did. It  would be great to get to see you more often, but it just feels like I'm  giving up if I come home. People usually grow up and move away, not run  back home the first chance they get," Sage told her.

"Honey, it's not giving up to come home. Sterling may be tiny, but the  hospital has an incredible program. We have excellent doctors acting as  mentors, and you'd also be here where you belong." At least that was  true-it was a prestigious hospital, thanks to its generous endowment  from the Whitmans and the Winchesters.

"Yeah, I know all of that. There are several people in my class who are  hoping to get in there. I just didn't want to ever move back home unless  it was for a terrific job. Then I could feel proud of myself-like I'd  really accomplished something while out in the big, bad world."                       


"You have accomplished something-something huge. How many of your fellow  college students went on to medical school and were always at the very  top of their class? How many kids from your own high school even went to  college?"

"Not many, but that's not the point."

"Of course it's the point. You are a success no matter what you do from  this point forward. You've done so well, darling, and you set your  sights admirably high. So be proud of that, but don't miss out on  interviewing here. Or are you afraid to try? It's possible the hospital  wouldn't even offer you a residency." Bethel knew pigs would fly before  that happened-Sage was guaranteed an offer. But the girl's grandmother  was proud of her sly use of psychology. Suggest that Sage might not get  something, and she'd jump to prove she could.

Sage didn't take the bait. "That wouldn't be the end of the world, I  have to say. If I came home, I'd just be dealing with ranchers all the  time instead of city trauma. It's not exactly the most exciting place to  continue my medical education."

"Now, Sage, you shouldn't speak so badly about the hospital here. It's  saved my life more than once. You remember when I had that stroke a  couple of years ago? Well, they fixed me up real nice. Eileen says no  one would have any idea that I almost died!"

"You didn't almost die, Grandma. It was a minor stroke, though you scared me to pieces."

"I don't like frightening you, child," Bethel said before forcing  herself to cough pathetically again. It was a good thing they weren't on  a video call, because she couldn't wipe the smile off her face. She  wasn't one to brag, but surely she'd have made a big splash in  Hollywood.

"Well then, don't say you came close to dying," Sage told her. "You know it would destroy me."

"Okay, dear. I'm afraid I can't visit too long-I'm just not feeling all  that well, but I'm sure it's nothing serious," Bethel said in a  quavering voice. "Besides, I don't want to bother you . . ."

"You know you're never a bother, Grandma. Please talk to me. I'm starting to really worry."

"Well . . . The doctor did say he's worried about my blood pressure. I  just can't seem to get around as well these days . . ." Bethel trailed  off as if too weak to continue speaking.

"You should have called me right away! I didn't know anything was wrong.  How long have you been feeling ill?" Sage had begun to scold her  grandma, but she immediately backed down, her voice lowering as quickly  as it had risen.

"I'm sorry, sweetheart. I didn't think it was that big of a deal. I'm  going to have to get off the phone, though. I'm really tired now. Just  keep me updated on your choice for your residency." Before Sage could  say anything more, Bethel hung up, then grinned at her friend.

"You know, we are horrible, horrible people," Eileen said with a wicked grin, enhancing the slight wrinkles on her face.

"How else was I supposed to get her home?" Bethel asked. "She's so dang  stubborn and thinks she can make it all on her own in some big city.  It's time for her to come home and settle down. Besides, I am a frail  old woman." The twinkle in her eye and the weekly dancing lessons she  took belied her words. She did a mean cha-cha.

"Frail, my foot," Eileen scoffed. The two women had been friends for  over fifty years, and neither of them could get anything past the other.  "Still, I don't know about all of this. If Sage finds out-gets even an  inkling of what we have planned . . ."

"It's worth the risk, my dearest friend," Bethel said. She called Martin  and Maggie so the foursome could put Joseph Anderson on speakerphone  and they could all go over the plans again. If Sage had known what was  brewing, she wouldn't be happy with any of them.

But a bit of matchmaking is what kept the five friends young at heart.  They suppressed their feelings of guilt as best they could. It was  painful, but what else could they do? They had a new mission-and it was a  doozy.