KATHRYN'S BEACH is witty, sensitive, and refreshingly unpredictable contemporary fiction – a merging of chick lit and women’s literature – set primarily in prestigious Orange County, California.
Kathryn abruptly ends her self-imposed exile and returns to Los Angeles to reclaim the life she abandoned. It has been five years since her last child abuse investigation, which was a case that should have been a routine waltz through the Judicial System.
Her friend, Maggie, tells the emotionally bankrupt Kathryn, “It’s easier to run away and keep running, than to come home to face something you consider a failure– I think you have courage.”
Relationships and new clients weave into the tapestry of Kathryn’s life, expanding her reclusive world. Her friends push her to learn the meaning of the cryptic letter Judge Jones left for her hours before he committed suicide. Kathryn discovers more than the meaning to the letter.
Who says, “You can’t go home again?” Sometimes that’s exactly what must be done, but is it worth it?
Nadine Laman Books, LLC
Walking toward her, I whisper, "Coffee?" with a grin - relieved to see her. She hands me a cup, and we slip down the back stairs to our old spot on the patio where we can talk privately.
The sun is soft in the winter sky. A slight breeze moves the branches of the palm trees in the courtyard - it almost seems like the palms are waving a shy, "Welcome home, Katey." I feel content, as I sip the industrial-strength coffee.
It is especially good to see Maggie. Putting my cup down, I study her, watching for the Maggie I knew. "There!" I see something familiar in her eyes. Her green eyes can go from ornery to intelligent with the tilt of her head. It is reassuring to see my old friend again. Quietly, I reminisce fondly about this place and these people - my friends.
"It wasn't your fault, Kate," Maggie jumps right into the conversation.
Startled, I look up from my coffee, trying to read her face for an indication of her intent. "Five years doesn't mean anything to her. Damn! She's good!"
Maggie doesn't mention my abrupt departure or sudden reappearance. She looks at me intensely, pausing only slightly to catch a breath between sentences - leaving no chance for a response from me.
"It was a clean investigation," Maggie continues confidently.
"Maybe so . . . ," my voice trails off. The entire case springs to the forefront of my memory.
"It was all there, Kate. No one could have done better," she says in a soft voice that echos in my consciousness.
She has taken aim and shot right to the heart of things. I can't sidestep her volley.
"But, it didn't save her," I counter, as I look directly at Maggie.
"It was Judge Jones' ruling that was in error, not anything you did or didn't do," she concludes.
I am obligated to the conversation now. There is no getting out of it. I set my cup down, and wrap my fingers around it for the warmth it provides. "The judge didn't see any of it," my voice betrays me with its mixed tone of anger and hurt. I feel the flood of emotions coming back, and I'm not ready to deal with the memories.
Maggie isn't waiting for me to catch up. "The night before the murder trial they found Judge Jones dead," Maggie pushes straight on.
I don't know if it is intentional, but she is moving too fast for me; I can't keep up. I had hoped to ease back into my life - not be tossed into the deep without warning.
"Dead?!" I whisper - stunned. Putting my arms against the edge of the table, I lean forward to brace myself. I had wished him dead the day he falsely ruled a death sentence for the little girl in my case by sending her home to her abuser - but I didn't mean it, not literally!
"He shot himself in his chambers," Maggie continues with the matter-of-fact tone of someone who has seen too much violence for her age. "Keith told me Judge Jones had been reading the Grand Jury ruling on the murder charges against the 'perp' in your case," she says. "Maybe, the judge finally saw the horrible thing he did when he set that man free," she seems to be thinking out loud. "Maybe, he knew it would come out in the murder case," she finishes.
Maggie stops playing with the last of the undissolved sugar in the bottom of her cup, ". . . and Kate, Judge Jones wrote a letter to you." She sets her cup down, looking at me - searching for a clue to the letter's content.
There are no clues for her to discover. I can't imagine why he would write to me. Maybe later I will be amused, wondering if Maggie thought there had been some sort of scandalous relationship between the judge and me. But for now, I am just as surprised about the letter as she must have been when it arrived.
"Keith brought the letter by the office, hoping I knew where you were," she continues, a little softer, looking directly into my eyes.
I make no response. "She isn't going to 'guilt' information out of me. If she wants to know about the last five years, she will have to ask outright."
Finally, she continues, "We didn't open it."
I cock my head to the side, studying her as she talks.
Maggie looks at her cup again, as if trying to coax more coffee to appear. "I have it at home; we thought you should be the first to read it," she admits.
"First?" I catch her meaning - she expects the letter to be shared with her. "Why would he write to me? It doesn't make sense . . . ."
Maggie looks straight at me; I can't escape her gaze. I am trying to put it all together. I just can't keep up with her. I am still deep in thought when I notice she is saying something about dinner at her apartment tonight.
"Oh thanks, but I can't tonight," I lie; even though, I have no other plans. I am not up to more of her direct ways, at least not tonight.
I should have kept in touch with Maggie while I was gone, but it is too late to change that now.
"Then, come by and pick up the letter," Maggie can still read when I have reached my limit.
The conversation is over - for the time being. Knowing Maggie, this is only a temporary reprieve. When she has something to say, she will wait for her moment - then, say it. There is no permanent escape from her.
Maybe, it had been a mistake to come to the office. No, . . . no, it is good to see Maggie and the others. I have missed Maggie. Seeing her again is an important part of why I came home. I was correct, I had to come here first. No other way would have felt right.
It isn't how long one lives, it is how wide that really matters.
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