Giving The Best Of Me…
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Table of Contents
Sometimes life leaves you devastated, but God will always have a plan for you. Karen has her life turned upside down when her six year relationship ends suddenly, but God has a different life set out for her. She meets Gage in a remote village she volunteers to practice medicine in and sparks fly, but Gage is keeping his distance, can Karen eventually breakthrough?
Karen Johnston was on her way home at 1o:00 am after a grueling day. She was at the end of her one-year internship in Our Lady of Mercy Public Hospital and tomorrow, she will finally start her residency. It was cause for celebration but she just didn’t have the time or energy for that right now. She had been at the hospital for nearly 36 hours, catching only 15 minute naps now and then, if she was lucky. She just wanted to go home, have a glass of wine, and go to sleep. But she still had a lunch date with her boyfriend of six years, Brent Blake. He was 28 and a civil engineer, he’d already been working for a big firm for 2 years. He got a promotion last week and now, he asked her out on a surprise lunch date? Karen didn’t want to presume, but she knew that this promotion was one more step to stability, a big step up for Brent, and it might just be what he was waiting for to ask ‘the question.’ She had always made it clear to him that she would wait until after they were married and he had respected her values and her religion, she loved that about him.
When Karen got home, she just had enough time to wash her face and change into some comfortable denims before heading out and hailing a taxi so she won’t be late for her lunch date. Brent hated it when anyone was late, he was such a stickler for plans and she had gotten used to it actually. She told the taxi to head to The Green Room, it was a new fancy restaurant, like the ones that seemed to sprout up everywhere.
As the Taxi pulled up in front of the restaurant, she hurriedly paid the driver and ran towards the restaurant. Oh dear, she was nearly 10 minutes late. As she walked into the restaurant, she realized how terribly under-dressed she was. Everyone in the restaurant was dressed to the nines here. But there was nothing she can do now. She then went right on to the maître d’, who then quickly directed her to a rather stuffy looking Brent. Karen could tell he was getting impatient so she hurried over.
“Oh honey, I’m so sorry for being late, but there was another emergency and…”
“No, no. Its fine Karen. Have a seat.”
Karen could immediately tell that something was wrong. Brent was acting odd. Maybe it’s just nerves, Karen thought hopefully. She sat down and, as usual, Brent ordered her some salad and roast chicken.
“So…” Karen began, “How was work?”
“Oh it was fine. How was it at the hospital?” he said, while checking his watch.
“Oh it was hectic, you know, as usual,” she said, and she couldn’t help but wonder if he had brought a ring, and if he had, where would he have hidden it?
They talked a bit more, Karen was talking most of the time as Brent seemed a bit nervous, which only served to reinforce Karen’s suspicions. Finally, the food came and they could both turned their attention to something else.
As Karen was half way through her salad and chicken, Brent suddenly spoke.
“There’s something I have to tell you,” he said, straightening in his chair. “It’s about us…our relationship.”
“Honey, whatever it is. I think I’m ready for what you have to say,” Karen said, almost enthusiastically.
“I’m glad that you say so. I’m sure you must have seen this coming,” and Karen nodded readily, expecting him to whip out a ring then.
“Karen, honey, you know I love you dearly, but I think it’s time, this relationship has run its course. I think we should break up.”
Karen felt her world spinning out of control. She was stunned. “Why?” was all she managed to say.
“Honey, you’re going to be a resident, and I’m aiming to be junior partner by next year, we barely have time enough for each other as it is. You’ll need someone who can be flexible with time and be with you when you need it, and I need someone who’s willing to support me and be there for me as I work on my career,” He paused and took her hand. “I really think that this is the best course for us. You’re a wonderful girl, and I’m sure you’ll be an amazing doctor, but maybe we just weren’t meant for each other,” he stopped then, turning his brown eyes toward her hands, as if he couldn’t bear to look into her eyes.
“We could have made it work…you could have said something and I…I would have…” but she stopped when she saw him shaking his head sadly.
Karen swallowed. She felt as if a brown bear punched her in the gut. She couldn’t think, she couldn’t feel, there was only this huge lump in her throat. And the nausea.
“I…I have to go.” She pulled her hands away from is and got up quickly. She ran out of the restaurant and hailed a cab. When she closed the cab door, she was already in tears.
Karen called the hospital supervisor early that afternoon; she knew she couldn’t face anyone the next day. She needs to gather her strength soon and go back to work, but she needed a day at least. This was devastating for her. She had known Brent since she was a freshman in pre-med and as the years rolled by, she had always imagined being married to him and having children. Obviously, he did not feel the same way.
How could he do this, oh God, how could he hurt me so badly? She could only cry into her pillows that whole afternoon, not knowing what to do.
Rrrring, rrring. It was the phone. Karen reached over and took the phone by her bedside.
“Karen? Darling what’s wrong?” It was her mother.
“Mom? How did you know I was in trouble?”
“Oh darling, a mother knows when her child is hurting, Lysette called me and said you had asked for a sick day for tomorrow.” Lysette was her good friend at the hospital. She was the resident psychologist and she was very good at her job.
“It’s Brent mother. He… he said we should break up!” and Karen felt herself succumb to a fit of weeping.
“Oh, Karen. I…I’m so sorry.”
“I really thought we were meant to be. Mom, I thought he was going to propose,” and Karen sobbed even louder.
“Karen, I’m so sorry it didn’t work out, but please don’t give in to despair… Somewhere out there is the man God meant for you, and you won’t have to try so hard and change so much of yourself like you did with Brent, because if God picked him for you, it means God picked you for him too and you’ll both be perfect for each other just as you are. Pray to God to send you the right man that’s meant for you Darling, just trust in God’s plans for you.”
“I do mom, and I try. But I can’t help but think of the six years of my life that I gave to him. It hurts so badly, I don’t know what to do.”
“Would you like me to come over?”
“No, you don’t have to. Thanks for the call. I’m sure I can figure it out eventually, with God’s help.”
When they hung up, Karen was feeling a little better. What Brent had done to her had completely blindsided her and she couldn’t help feeling scared and alone, but she wasn’t alone, she knew God was with her, and she would not be lost. She remembered a line from the bible:
[_“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalms 73:26 _]
And it was then that Karen knew she’d be fine, she just had to trust in God’s will.
It was two weeks later that Karen found her calling, or maybe it was more on the fact that it had called to her. She was now a resident at the hospital, trying to drown her sorrow in her work, because despite how hard she tried, she couldn’t help but feel the devastation that Brent had left in her life. She had gone into the doctor’s lounge for a quick cup of Joe when she found it; it was a flyer for the hospital’s outreach program. The flyer was blue and on big bold letters, it said:
Let Us Do God’s Work – Help the Least of Our Brethren
It was a residency program that urged med school graduates to pack up and head out to far-flung areas that had no medical facilities. It basically meant that she will be going off with her medical knowledge, some bandages, and antibiotics and set up a non-profit medical clinic or center out in the middle of nowhere, where people needed it most.
She saw it as a golden opportunity to do God’s work and to find herself. She always knew she wasn’t out for a big practice and be wealthy. She wanted to give back, she wanted her faith to fuel change in others and for her skills to save the lives of those she could. Karen knew then what she had to do.
In a span of two weeks, Karen had managed to sign up for the program, follow up on her application and get her assignment under the program. She was heading to Brickwater County, Louisiana, and set up a clinic there. The hospital was working side by side with the parish in the area and they would take care of her food and lodgings, she just had to show up and bring what supplies she could. The hospital director had been very surprised at her decision.
“I really thought you were going to be senior resident here soon, but this is a worthy cause Miss Johnston, and I hope you find fulfillment in your new job.”
It was a major change in her life that could make her do a 360-degree turn. First, she’d be away from all her friends and family, but she knew she could always come and visit, or they could, and that God would help her find a way. Secondly, she would not know many people there and she wasn’t quite sure how they will receive her, but that was part of the adventure right? Thirdly, she would be getting only a fraction of what she would have earned if she stayed as resident and started a practice, but she knew money would not be an issue for her. She just needed to do this.
She had already said goodbye to her dear friends at the hospital, especially her best friend Lysette, who had been so supportive when she found out about the break up. She was sure that some of her co-workers thought it was a drastic thing to do, move your whole life to some village in one of the poorest states in the country, but she knew that this was what God intended for her. It just felt right for her.
Her parents came over to help her pack a few days ago, and they managed to get most of her things into storage. The only things left were the refrigerator, stove and the bed, and her parents said they would sell those for her, and take care of all the things she had to leave behind. She was so thankful that she had such wonderful and supportive parents. She knew they trusted her and she would not let them down.
They were driving her to the airport now, and Karen was ready for the 4-hour flight.
“Remember to call us when you land. Okay? And take care of yourself.” her dad said, trying to act nonchalantly though she could see he had tears in his eyes. Her dad had always been such a gentleman, he was soft-spoken and kind, and his grey hair made him look so noble, but it touched her greatly now to see her father close to tears.
“We’ll pray for your safe flight dear. Tell us all about the place when you get there okay?” her mother turned to her. Karen could see that she hardly looked her 55 years. She could just be Karen’s older sister. They had the same blonde hair and slender physique and they were both very pretty. I might end up looking older than she looks someday, Karen thought, seeing the dark circles under her eyes through the back seat mirror. She knew her mother was happy and fulfilled, married to a Godly man whom she loved with all her heart and a child she was so proud of, and Karen couldn’t help but wonder if she would ever find someone to share her life with too.
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, evidence of things unseen.” Hebrews 11:1
The words came to her gradually, but she felt elation when she recognized them. Yes, she just needed to have faith in Jesus and in the Lord God and she knew she would find happiness in her life. Maybe she would even find it in Brickwater County, Louisiana.
The four-hour flight was already tiring, but the three-hour drive was utterly exhausting. She didn’t know if she already fell asleep in the car that picked her up, all she remembered were the constant jolts and dust and bugs. She was just so tired and the road was so bumpy she could hardly start a conversation with the rather attractive man who came to fetch her from the airport. He seemed quite surly in his manner, but Karen guessed it was just because they had never met before. She smiled at him when she saw him holding up a sign that said “Dr. Johnston” and he just looked at her for a while, only realizing she was Dr. Johnston when she pointed at the sign. He shrugged and wordlessly took her carry-on, and he was equally silent as they waited for her luggage. She tried to start a conversation by asking about the town, all he said was, “It’ll be a bit too small for a doctor’s liking, but we make do.” and had then turned his head away from her, closing off any further conversation.
And now here they were, nearly 4 and a half hours after meeting each other and Karen was sure she had they had not exchanged more than 20 words. The surly silence that had followed after her first question was enough to discourage her to broach any subject again for the entire ride. Karen tried to sleep but it was nearly impossible with all the jostling the car took in the dirt road.
It was late in the evening when they reached Brickwater County, and it was probably after midnight when they finally got to where she was supposed to stay, the town of Vignon. It was a smallish town, and in the late afternoon, there was not much to see. The streets were dimly lit, and they weren’t paved at all. She couldn’t see much of the town other than the few, broken down houses they had passed on their way to the clinic she was supposed to stay in. The grave man got up and took out her luggage and grunted at her, and Karen guessed he meant for her to follow him. What is his problem? Karen could only shake her head in disbelief and follow him into the smallish white building. It was made of concrete and was obviously freshly painted. There was a small wooden fence around it and a concrete porch with benches right in front of the door. The man opened the door and they both stepped inside. When he turned on the light, Karen found herself in a small white room with green curtains. There was a table and some chairs on the right hand corner, and a little room with a consultation table with a partition that separated it from the room. On the far end of the room was a small door. The man gave her a key and pointed at the door. “Go see if you like your new apartment.” She took the key and headed to the door, unlocked it and turned on the light. Inside, there was a small twin bed, an old wood closet with a mirror and a small table. There were two more doors, one led to a bathroom and the other to a pantry with various foodstuffs, like bread, cheese, and canned goods, a coffee maker, a toaster and a microwave oven.
“This is all we could manage to rustle up in two weeks. Hopefully, you’ll find all this to your liking? Well, I suppose the others will be coming over tomorrow morning, to welcome you. Well Dr. Johnston, goodnight.”
And before she could get a word in, or even just ask him his name, he had closed the door behind him and she could hear him lock up the front doors to the clinic.
Karen glanced at the clock; it was already 1:25 am, and she was so exhausted. So she washed up, put on her pajamas and fell to sleep immediately.
Karen woke up at 7:30, feeling fully rested. She toasted some bread and made coffee.
She was halfway through her breakfast when she heard a knock on her door. She opened the door and found a young, African American woman standing there with a big smile and a bowl.
“Hello, you must be Dr. Johnston. I’m Emille Goudet. I’m a representative of the parish and I also teach 5th grade science in Brickwater County Elementary School.” she said, extending her hand and Karen reciprocated.
“Oh it’s very nice to meet you Emille, you can call me Karen. Would you like to come in?” and Karen opened the for her.
“We were supposed to be here waiting for you, but I live over by Cameron, and it’s about 45 minutes’ drive from here. We decided to come back in the morning, but Father Roger couldn’t come, there was some trouble in Cameron you see.”
“Oh, that’s fine. We got here past midnight already. I had no idea it was going to be such a long ride and I was exhausted, all I could do was sleep.”
“Well, I welcome you to Vignon, and I brought you some tuna casserole. I could show you around later on if you like. When do you think you’ll be able to start in the clinic Miss Karen?”
“Oh, in fact, I could start after lunch once I make a full inventory of what you have here. I brought a few supplies but they won’t last long for a whole parish, so I think I’ll start with that.” Karen said with a smile.
“Well, since it’s Saturday I can definitely help you with that. But I think you should take a walk around first, you know, see Vignon before you start. It’d help you get a feel of the town.”
“That’d be great. Thanks a lot.” So Karen finished her breakfast and they took a walk around the town. Emille showed her the little market and the small shops around the square. People were very friendly and kind, everyone was smiling, but the poverty was evident. The streets were full of potholes and the houses were all rundown, there weren’t many people in town.
“This place fell apart when the Plantation closed 25 years ago. There were no jobs and all people could do was farm what little land there was to farm, there’s hardly a market. There’s no high school around here, they have to go to the next county for school and most people here just can’t afford sending out their kids and pay for room and board for them too. Father Roger had a tough job, but people keep faith around here. They didn’t have much of anything, but they always had God. It’s a good thing Gage came when he did though. He really helped the people. Why, we couldn’t have made that clinic you’re staying in if it wasn’t for him.”
“Oh, you had a benefactor? I thought that was the state’s program?”
“No, the state didn’t do that; it was Mr. Fortier who paid for everything. He worked on it and had a few hands to help him. He wanted to give back to the community he said. He was a big time lawyer a few years go, but he came back here and started all sorts of stuff. He was the one who had the elementary school built for Brickwater. He fixed up the Church and now he got us a doctor. He’s a good man.”
“He sounds like a great man. I would love to meet him someday and thank him for building my new home.” Karen said with a smile, but Emille paused and looked at her questioningly.
“What do you mean you want to meet him someday? Girl, you already met him.”
“What? I don’t recall. I only met that stern looking man who brought me here yesterday and that man was like a brick wall. He never spoke a word to me, he was very trying.”
“Oh Dr. Johnston, that was Gage Fortier. He’s the only one around here with a four wheel drive and the time to spare to go and fetch you. You should get to know him; he’s actually a very kind and godly man. Every rich girl from Shreveport to New Orleans all had a crush on him before he flung himself out here, he’s quite the catch.”
During the first few weeks in the little clinic, Karen grew to love the town and its people. Like Emille said, they were poor, but they had God in their lives, which gave them hope and a reason to smile. Many of the children were malnourished, and some older people who worked the farms would get a bit sick, but it was all very manageable, although they were already running low on vitamins. There was a bit of drinking in the Town, but never to an extent where anyone got seriously hurt, but Karen knew her work would come in the winter months, when infections were most common and people’s immunity was not as strong. What occupied Karen the most was teaching Ava, Emille’s sixteen year old niece, the basic tasks of a nurse. Ava was a sophomore, but she stayed over in Vignon for the weekends and Karen had resolved to teach her all she could about nursing.
Ava was an avid student and Karen liked her very much. She and Emille also grew to become fast friends, with Emille coming over in the afternoons and they’d have a quick chat.
Although Karen would never admit it, she found herself thinking more and more about Gage Fortier, the man who drove by the clinic every morning to head off into town and hardly ever spared her a glance. Emille told her they were fixing up houses that were in the worst shape. Again, Emille would regale her with stories of the great kindnesses of Mr. Fortier. Why is he acting so strangely toward me? Karen almost felt like Gage Fortier was trying to evade her, though she didn’t think he had a special reason to come to the clinic anyway.
The door to the clinic opened slowly as Karen was showing Ava how to bandage a broken wrist. An old wizened woman came in.
“I’m here for my checkup, new doctor.” the old woman announced to the room it seemed.
“Granny Mae, I thought you said you weren’t coming.” Ava said as she scrambled up and ran to her grandmother.
“I said I was busy, and now I ain’t. That’s why I came child. Now doctor, just check if I still got all my parts working properly.”
Karen got up and smiled at the old woman. “Call me Karen granny, come over by the table here and I’ll take good care of you.”
15 minutes later, Karen was telling Granny Mae her findings.
“You’re heart’s beating as if it were an 18 year old’s, your blood pressure is normal, and your lungs are powerful to say the least. You’re quite the healthy specimen granny.” Karen said as she put the blood pressure cuff back in the bag. “I can give you some vitamins and I would recommend adding some calcium in your diet, but there’s not much more I can do for you.”
“Well, that’s all dandy then Doctor. Mind if I sit here a while, Gage’ll be coming to pick me up later. He’s taking me home later. Such a sweet man…why if I was 50 years younger Id…”
“Granny, don’t say those things in front of Dr. Johnston! This is so embarrassing.”
“Oh hush child. The Doctor knows what I’m talking about. Right Dr. Johnston?”
“Please granny, call me Karen, and no, I don’t know what you’re talking about as I’ve never been formally introduced to Gage Fortier. He seems a bit off, but I know he’s done great things, but I haven’t exchanged more than a few words with him.”
“Oh, Gage is a man with a lot of heart, but he keeps it hidden. He’s gotten hurt before Karen, and it’s hard to get up from that. It’s been 3 years, but I can see the boy’s still hurting.”
These words felt like cold water on Karen’s head; they reminded her of Brent, of those six years. That’s odd, Karen thought, I haven’t thought of Brent in the past weeks at all. She tried to conjure up an image of Brent Blake, the man she had loved for six years, but Brent’s cold blue eyes and blonde hair were replaced with brown piercing eyes and dark hair. What is wrong with you Karen, you hardly know him. But she couldn’t it, the image that came to mind was Gage Fortier, the sullen man who was somehow an angel and a brick wall at the same time.
A few hours later, there was another knock on the door. Ava went to open it and there was Gage, looking stern and hardly making eye contact with Karen.
“Let’s go granny Mae. It’ll be getting dark soon.”
“Gage Fortier, did you hit your head while working on that house? Or did you suffer some trauma of the mind?”
“No of course not granny, why would you say that?”
“Because it seems to me you’ve forgotten your manners! Isn’t it true that we’ve been waiting for a doctor to come here and help the town? That we built this place for her and YOU bought the supplies?”
“Yes ma’am that’s true.”
“Then why you being rude, boy? We been praying for a doctor to come and God answered our prayers, but you ain’t thankful boy. The sweet doctor’s been telling me about how rude you’ve been and I’d be very much obliged if you would introduce yourself to her like a proper gentleman.”
By then, both Ava and Gage were red in the face. Ava went to granny and started pulling her to the door, but granny wouldn’t budge. Karen could see Gage was having an internal struggle of some sort, his lips were pursed and he turned to her slowly.
“Hello Dr. Johnston. I’m Gage Fortier, I’d like to sincerely welcome you to Vignon. I’d like to ask for your forgiveness if I was being rude earlier, I don’t know what came over me,” and he held out his hand. Karen took it reluctantly but the moment their hands touched, she felt a jolt, it was electric. She noticed how his hands were calloused, the hands of a worker, and she felt a wave of tenderness for this kind man who would try and change a town in his little ways.
“It’s alright Mr. Fortier. You must have been tired and all. I completely understand,” Karen said with a sweet smile that seemed to take Gage Fortier aback.
“I’ll see you around Dr. Johnston,” and he and Granny Mae left, leaving a swooning Ava and a blushing Karen.
It was a few days later that Karen saw Gage again, but it was in completely different circumstances. Ava was in school so Karen was alone in the clinic, cleaning up the consultation table after having just checked on some women who were in their 2nd trimester.
“Doctor! Please! We need your help!” the men shouted outside her door.
Karen ran outside and saw a young black man who Emille called Luke waving from across the street, there were other men coming, carrying Gage Fortier, who’s hand was bleeding and was looking quite pale.
“How did this happen?” Karen asked the young man.
“It was the saw. My hand slipped and he got cut.”
“Bring him inside, I need to see the wound. Why are they carrying him? Are his feet injured as well?”
Karen saw Luke blush. “No Doctor Johnston, just his hand. He…he fainted miss, when he saw the blood.”
“Oh, just bring him inside.”
The men brought Gage inside and after looking at the wound, Karen had to make them leave the room. Gage looked stricken.
“It’s not that deep, and I don’t think there’ll be any permanent damage, but I will be giving you something to prevent infection. But you will need some stitches Mr. Fortier.”
“I… I don’t like seeing blood Dr. Johnston. And call me Gage, Mr. Fortier was my father.”
“I gathered as much Gage. You can call me Karen. I have to clean up the wound before I close it, get ready, this will sting a little.” She proceeded to wash his wound with antiseptic, Gage looked away, fearing the wound more than the pain.
“I’d think that you’d be used to these injuries. But you were a lawyer once right?”
“Yes, I was. It’s was that fast-paced life that led me the wrong way. I was…Ooowww….” he said, flinching as she cleaned the wound with gauze and iodine. Karen only smiled. “As I was saying, I lost track of the important things, so I came home.”
“You used to live here?”
“Yes, Granny Mae raised me. My mother and father were…they were busy people,” he said, taking a big gulp of air as his eyes locked on the surgical needle.
“Woah… umm…could you just…” he stammered, turning pale.
“This won’t hurt much. I’ll be injecting you with some anesthesia so you won’t feel a thing. You might want to close your eyes,” Karen said then, with a hint of a smile. She nearly laughed when she saw him close his eyes tight like a fearful child. I like this side of him better, she thought as she stuck the needle cleanly through the skin of his hand. “You were saying something about Granny Mae?”
“Yeah… ow, ow. Granny Mae raised me, that is, until they sent me to boarding school. My family moved out while I was at school and I haven’t been back until a few years ago. Wait… wait… that’s a huge needle!” then he turned his head as she took out the surgical sutures.
“Why did you decide to come back Gage? Emille tells me you were doing very well for yourself.”
“Yes I was. But what was it all for? I had money, but I felt empty. I felt like God spoke to me and I felt like I had to come back. And I did.”
“You’ve managed to do so much though.”
“Well, I owe a lot to the people here. When father cut his losses and left, it never felt right to me.”
Oh why hadn’t she put it together before? Gage’s family must have owned the old plantation, that’s why he had roots here and was so close to everyone. Karen felt a small tinge of regret as she finished up the last stitch and bandaged the wound, she was enjoying herself in his company. Surprisingly.
“Well, you’re done, remember not to move it too much, and I‘ll give you some pills for the pain, but you should be good as new I no time.”
“Wow, well thanks doc… I… thanks,” he said as he got up awkwardly and turned to leave. “I was thinking,” he said abruptly as he turned to her again, “maybe you’d like to have dinner?”
Karen blushed slightly, “Yes. I’d love to.
They ended up having dinner in an old boathouse by the river that Gage and some of the other men had been fixing up. They couldn’t go to town as it would not be a good idea for someone who’s just had stitches to drive for hours, as Karen had said sternly.
Karen didn’t bring so many clothes with her, but she found a lovely blue dress that was simple yet elegant.
Gage came to pick her up at 8 o’clock and just shook his head when he saw her.
“What’s wrong? Am I overdressed for a date by the river?” Karen asked, looking down at her dress.
“No, you look…perfect,” and he smiled in a way she had never seen before. Brent never told her she was perfect, he complemented her, but then he’d say something like, “You should have worn the yellow one,” or “The ruby necklace would have been perfect for this”. This is the man everyone else knows and admires so much, Karen thought as Gage opened the car door for her. They drove down a dirt road that led off the town until they were at a clearing. There were the docks, all bright with white lights that led to the sweet little boathouse.
“Oh Gage, this is beautiful.”
“Well we didn’t have much time, but she is a beauty.”
They went inside and there was a small table with two chairs with two covered plates. “Granny Mae made her specialty, she insisted actually. I hope you like it, I don’t know if you’ve ever had shrimp gumbo.” And Gage took the covers from the plates. Karen took her first bite and it was a heavenly, rich and full of flavor.
“Tell Granny she blew my mind. This is wonderful.”
They ate their meal and talked about their past, Gage, about his lawyer years, and Karen about medical school and her internship, then about Blake.
“He just said it outright. ‘We should break up,’ and there was nothing I could say, it was devastating.”
“I had a girl like that, she pushed me to take jobs I didn’t want to, you know, high-paying jobs that ate at my soul. She said it was for our future. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror sometimes, then I prayed to God, I didn’t know what to do and I needed guidance. It was weird, I suddenly remembered Granny Mae then, her telling me that it was better to be poor and have integrity, than rich and perverse. I felt like God was telling me to come back, to get my integrity back, to help those who deserved it.”
“And you’re happier here…”
“I am. I’m happier.”
“What happened to the girl?”
“She said I was crazy, then when she found out I was serious, we broke up.”
“Can I ask you something that I want you to give an honest answer to?”
“Why were you so stern when we first met?”
“Well…to be honest…you were too beautiful,” he said, looking a bit embarrassed.
“Too beautiful?” Karen snorted.
“Yes, the hospital said they would send a Dr. K. Johnston, I never thought you’d be a woman, and a beautiful one at that, I was expecting an old man who wanted to give a few years to the poor before retirement. I thought it was too good to be true.”
“Don’t be silly. You’re the most eligible bachelor from Shreveport to New Orleans,” Karen said with a smile.
“I’m sure you got that from Granny Mae…she likes to exaggerate you know. But it wasn’t just your face. For a young, beautiful, highly recommended doctor to give her life to some remote town no one remembers.”
“I could say the same for you.”
“It seems like we found each other,” he said with a smile.
“It seems we have.”
“They’re here!” Ava said excitedly as she ran up the stairs.
“Calm down, you’re acting like it’s about you. Help me with the lemonade then,” Karen said, giving Ava the pitcher and heading to the door where the Gage’s four wheel drive was pulling up. Gage came out and opened the passenger side door and Karen’s heart jumped as her parents stepped out of the car.
“Karen darling! We missed you so much!” her mother shouted from the car. When they got closer, her mother turned to her and whispered, “That Gage Fortier is quite a man. When I read your letters, I couldn’t believe it. It was too good to be true, but he’s kind and polite and handsome too.”
“There’s my darling girl,” her father then said, taking her in his arms. “I missed you so much and Gage has just been telling me about the fishing in these parts.”
They went in and Karen finally managed to get her parents to sit down. “I’ve been dying to tell you, but we thought it was better if you were both here.
Giving the Best of Me is about Karen, a young doctor who finds her whole world turned upside down when the man she’s been committed to for 6 years drops the bomb, saying that their relationship had run its course. Desperate for a change, Karen prays to God for guidance, and every time, He finds ways to answer her prayers and leads her in the right direction. Following her heart, she volunteers for an outreach program and then finds herself in a remote town in Louisiana, working alone in a little clinic. She soon hears stories about the kind and Godly man, Gage Fortier, but she doesn’t understand why the man they talk about is so different from the one she’s met, yet unable to deny the electric tension between them.
Follow Karen on her journey to find her calling, and maybe find the man that God meant for her.
"The Perfect Christian Romance Story for the Ages" Christian Romance... Sometimes life leaves you devastated, but God will always have a plan for you. Karen has her life turned upside down when her six year relationship ends suddenly, but God has a different life set out for her... She meets Gage in a remote village she volunteers to practice medicine in and sparks fly, but Gage is keeping his distance... Can Karen eventually breakthrough?