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Turning Tide
By Melody Carlson
As the Great War rages on, Sunset Cove continues to feel its impact. Running the small town newspaper, Anna McDowell can’t escape the grim reports from the other side of the world, but home-front challenges abound as well. Dr. Daniel is serving the wounded on the front lines. And Katy, expecting her first child, with her husband in the trenches, tries to support the war effort with her Red Cross club. Even as the war winds down the costs are high—and Sunset Cove is not spared.

By Melody Carlson

The Legacy of Sunset Cove, Book 4

As the Great War rages on, Sunset Cove continues to feel its impact. Running the small town newspaper, Anna McDowell can’t escape the grim reports from the other side of the world, but home-front challenges abound as well. Dr. Daniel is serving the wounded on the front lines. And Katy, expecting her first child, with her husband in the trenches, tries to support the war effort with her Red Cross club. Even as the war winds down the costs are high—and Sunset Cove is not spared.

Chapter 1

Late October 1917

Although Anna McDowell had always enjoyed scooping the latest news, she now cringed whenever anything came in over the wire at the newspaper office. Grim reports from the Great War seemed to dominate all else these days. Even Oregon’s exciting prohibition tales of lawless bootleggers and illegal rum-running had been overshadowed by the grisly battles waging around the globe. And the numbers of dead and wounded were unfathomable and growing daily.

And knowing how her good friend and son-in-law Jim Stafford as well as many other young men from Sunset Cove—not to mention the entire country—daily risked life and limb by serving with the Allied Forces overseas…well, it put a serious damper on Anna’s usual heightened interest in the latest information.

Frank Anderson poked his head into her office. “Did you hear about this?” Her lead reporter waved the paper in the air, his fair brows arched with obvious interest.

“What’s that?” She looked up from the copy she was checking, wishing he were about to announce the war had ended but knowing it was unlikely.

“Just in from England. About Ypres.”

“Still fighting in Ypres.” Her tone sounded jaded even to herself. “How many battles have pummeled that region by now?”

“Several.” He came fully into her office. “But this story is different, Anna. Definitely front-page newsworthy, if you ask me.”

She nodded, setting down her pencil. She was glad that she and Frank had finally arrived at a first-name basis…and that he’d finally come to respect her role as editor in chief of this newspaper. “How is this story different?” She felt a trace of hope. “Is the Kaiser surrendering? Is the war about to end?”

“No.” He frowned at the paper strip in his hand. “Says here that thousands of troops from Australia and New Zealand were wiped out this week.”

“Oh, my.” She sadly shook her head. “Well, that’s not very encouraging, Frank. I was hoping it was something more positive.”

“You and me both.”

“But why did you say this story was different?”

“It’s how these troops perished that makes this newsworthy.”

“Oh, please tell me it’s not from a communicable illness.” Anxiety surged through her. “Daniel—I mean Dr. Hollister. He recently wrote to me how diseases were spreading like wildfire overseas. He’s grateful to be over there since medical help is so critical right now.”

“No, these men didn’t die from anything disease-related.” Frank pursed his lips.

“What then? Didn’t you say they were killed in battle? Tragic, yes, but what makes it news?” Anna wasn’t eager to plaster another horrible defeat story across the front page of their small-town paper.

“Because this story is completely related to the weather.”

 She felt confused. “The weather?”

“Yes. It says that due to extra heavy rains over there, our Allied soldiers drowned. Right there on the Ypres battlefield.”

“On the battlefield? How is that even possible?”

“It seems that the rain-soaked ground turned into a quagmire of slippery mud. I’m imagining it was similar to quicksand. The men became trapped in the muddy muck, and then they began to sink down into shell craters. Probably left behind from previous battles. And then they drowned.”

“In the mud?” She shuddered.

He nodded grimly.

“Oh, Frank, that’s so horribly gruesome.” She cringed to think of Jim and Lawrence and AJ…all the other young men fighting over there. She prayed their friends weren’t in Ypres, and yet she knew they were in places equally perilous. And what about relatives and loved ones who’d lost their men…drowned in the mud like that? How would they be feeling right now?

“Stupid war.” She slammed a fist onto her desktop. “What a waste. A nasty, terrible waste. How many more brave young men must die before the madness ends? Kaiser Wilhelm is the devil himself.”

“I agree.” Frank leaned forward with an intense expression. “And it makes me want to do something…. Anna, I think it’s time I joined up too. I’m sure they need more help over there and I’m—”

“But you’re exempt, Frank. You’ve got a wife and children and you’re over—”

“That doesn’t mean I can’t enlist and go over and do my part.” He stood up straight as a soldier, narrowing his eyes with determination. “They need me, Anna.”

“That may be true, but you’re needed here too. Besides your family, this newspaper needs you. We’re already shorthanded with Jim and Lawrence—”

“I know, I know.” He sighed, his shoulders slumping. “It’s just that it makes me feel so…useless. Sitting over here while others are—”

“Frank.” She locked eyes with him. “Think about your wife and three young sons—what if you’d been over there, and what if you’d been drowned in the mud like those other men? What would Ginger do without you? Imagine how your sweet wife would struggle to raise those rambunctious boys on her own. And please forgive me, but I don’t see how the presence of one newspaperman in his late thirties would make much of a difference anyway.”

He sighed deeply. “Yes, I suppose you’re right. It’s just so hard to stand by and watch…even from this distance.”

“But consider this—we still have some young unmarried men in our town, men who’ve claimed exemptions but who appear fit and able. I’ve mentioned it to Chief Rollins, and he said he might look into taking legal action.”

“I’ve heard those rumors too. It’s ironic when you consider that a couple of those so-called exempt fellows might actually be running rum along the coastline.” He scowled. “Not brave enough to fight for their country, but stupid enough to risk their lives to break the law for a few bucks.”

“I’ve had similar thoughts.” Anna rolled a fresh sheet of paper into her typewriter. “We need to run some pieces that illuminate this problem. Without naming names, of course. But we could pressure them to do the right thing.”

“You really think they’d take notice?” Frank looked doubtful.

“Their friends and relatives might take notice. Maybe they’d put their feet to the fire.” She pointed her pencil in the air like a beacon. “In fact, I’m going to attack this head-on in my next editorial. I’ll challenge those heel-draggers to step up. I’ll remind them that their friends and brothers are over there struggling—and that more soldiers, coming from all corners of this country, could help turn this thing around.”

“That’s a good plan. And I’ll angle my war article in that same direction.” Frank’s eyes lit with renewed enthusiasm. “Maybe the pen is mightier than the sword after all.”

Anna wished that were true as Frank exited her office, but she knew that the pen alone wasn’t going to bring this awful war to an end. If only it could. Oh, she knew that good journalism helped. It informed people and brought just causes to the forefront. And being a responsible newspaperwoman had always been important to her—even now as she hammered away at her typewriter.

Everyone needed to do their part. All needed to make sacrifices, to contribute according to their abilities. If they wanted this war to end, they’d all have to pitch in.

She was just finishing her piece when the telephone jangled.

“Your daughter just called,” Virginia told her. “She sounded a bit excited. She wants you to call her back at the hospital.”

“At the hospital? Why is she at the—”

“Katy didn’t say. Just asked you to call her as soon as you were free.”

“Yes, of course.” Anna quickly hung up and then dialed the hospital’s number. But the woman on the other end didn’t seem to know anything about anything. Anna considered asking to speak to Sarah Rose, since she was the bookkeeper there, but instead, she snatched up her hat and gloves. It would probably be simpler and quicker to just go over there—and only ten minutes if she walked fast. Plus the fresh sea air would do her good. As Anna walked, she prayed that nothing bad had happened to her daughter.

Katy could be a bit reckless at times. She was known to zip around in Mac’s Runabout like she thought she was participating in a motor race. She’d boast about how she picked up a special delivery at the railroad station then dropped off a customer order—making it back to the dress shop in record time. But what if she’d been involved in a crash? Anna took in a calming breath, reminding herself that Katy was an excellent driver. Much better than Anna. Also…Katy was expecting. That alone should make her more cautious when driving. Anna hoped so.

Katy’s baby wasn’t due for about six months, but could she be experiencing a problem with her pregnancy? That happened sometimes. Anna sincerely hoped not. Despite Katy’s initial reluctance to have a child so soon after marrying Jim, she’d come full circle on it. She now eagerly looked forward to becoming a mother. She’d even gotten serious about knitting—and not only army socks. Most recently, she’d been working on a lovely robin’s egg blue baby cardigan.

As Anna entered the new hospital, she tried not to feel overly anxious—or agitated at the receptionist. She glanced around the vacant waiting area as if searching for clues and hurried up to the front desk. “I just called about my daughter Katy Stafford, and I was told she wasn’t—”

“I’m so sorry about that,” the woman told her. “You spoke to me, and I wasn’t aware at the time that Katy was here at the hospital, but I just learned that she’s upstairs in the maternity—”

Maternity?” Anna gasped and, without waiting to hear more, rushed for the stairway, which she knew would be swifter than the pokey elevator. But by the time she reached the maternity section, she was breathless and shaky. “I—I’m looking for Katy Stafford,” she explained to a recently hired nurse. “Is she—”

“Room 204.” The nurse pointed down the hallway and, before she could say another word, Anna took off. Ducking into Room 204, she nearly knocked down her own daughter. “Oh, Katy!” she exclaimed. “Are you all right?”

Katy smiled. “Yes, of course, Mother. I’m perfectly fine.”

“I tried to call back, but I couldn’t get you, so I came. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing is wrong. Not really. It’s Ellen.” Katy guided Anna out of the room and down the hallway. “She’s going to have her baby.”

“Oh, that’s right. Ellen’s baby is due, isn’t it?”

“Yes, and she’d hoped to have her baby at home to save money,” Katy quietly explained. “But she was having some troubles and her mother insisted she come here. Fortunately, I was in the dress shop and had the Runabout. Otherwise Clara was going to call for that new ambulance to fetch her. You know that Doc Hollister has been bragging it up.”

“So I’ve heard. Mac was complaining about the expense, but JD insisted it was needed to reach the outlying places that the hospital wants to serve. Apparently it’s very similar to what they’re using on the battlefront. Daniel has written about how those Red Cross vehicles are saving lots of lives.”

“Well, Ellen actually thought an ambulance ride would be exciting, but Clara thought we should come by car. And so we did.”

“Good for you.” Anna glanced around. “Is Clara here now?”

“Yes, she’s with Ellen. I only called you to let you know what was happening.” Katy linked her arm into Anna’s. “I thought you’d like to know. But I didn’t expect you to leave work just to come here.”

“Well, I was due for a break. Besides, this is newsworthy.” Anna smiled in relief. “Much happier news than writing about the gruesome old war.”

Katy stopped walking and turned to her mother with fearful eyes. “Is there more bad news—about the war? What is it now?”

Anna regretted her words. “Well, it’s a war, Katy…of course, there’s always going to be some bad news. But we can’t obsess over it. We must maintain hope.”

“Yes, I suppose you’re right.” Katy sighed deeply.

“How about a cup of tea?” Anna suggested. “We’ve been like ships in the night ever since you moved in with Ellen. I’d love to catch up with you.”

“And I’d love some tea.”

Before long they were seated at a small table in the tiny cafeteria located in the hospital basement, and Katy was explaining how Ellen had begun having labor pains early this morning.

“We thought it was indigestion at first. We had spaghetti for dinner last night.” Katy giggled. “I doubt Dr. Hollister senior would approve, but it’s what Ellen was craving, and I made it for her.”

Anna smiled. “Well, maybe you shouldn’t admit this to old Doc Hollister. He’s such a stickler about diet.”

“He’s a stickler about everything.” Katy shook her head. “I sure wish Dr. Daniel would come home.”

“I do too, honey.” Anna patted Katy’s hand. “But I’m glad he’s helping those young men over there. And maybe the war will end by the time your baby comes into the world.”

“I hope so.” Katy stirred her tea. “Not just so Dr. Daniel can come home, but I so want Jim to come home…to be with me…here to welcome his child.”

“Well, April is still a ways off,” Anna reminded her. “Anything could happen by then.”

“I know.” Katy still looked uncertain.

“So what’s the latest you’ve heard from Jim?” Anna asked.

“I received a letter sent from England just yesterday.” Katy brightened. “He sounded good. He was happy that his unit was preparing to move. I know he’s been longing for active service.” Katy bit her lower lip. “He’d complained before about the endless training and waiting in England. But yesterday’s letter was two weeks old, so I suppose he could actually be on the European front by now. Naturally, he can’t give out specific details.”

“Naturally.” Anna wondered if Jim’s unit was in Belgium since it was a hot spot for the European front. And she tried not to dwell on today’s news…or that Jim might possibly be in Ypres. She was aware of the numerous battlefields on the European front. And just because all those poor soldiers had perished in Ypres didn’t mean that Jim would be among them. Hadn’t Frank said it was Australian and New Zealand troops involved in that muddy mess? Anna sure hoped so. She didn’t want to think about Jim leading his troops into something like that…or dying on any battlefield.

And the idea of Katy becoming a widowed mother at such a tender age was deeply disturbing. It would be like history repeating itself. Anna lost her husband when Katy was a baby—and she felt certain she couldn’t go through that much sadness again. Especially where her daughter was concerned.

Chapter 2

After her mother left the hospital to return to the newspaper office, Katy wasn’t sure what to do. She knew she was probably needed back at the dress shop since both Clara and Ellen were still here, but she also felt a need to stay nearby. Especially since she’d promised Ellen she would stick by her side throughout this ordeal. But that was because Ellen had declared she didn’t need her mother around to help her. Of course, that had changed when Ellen’s labor pains had gotten severe. Katy had been so relieved to call Clara…and even more relieved when Clara recommended they proceed to the hospital. Maybe this would help them to repair their fractured relationship.

“May I use the telephone?” Katy asked the front receptionist.

“Yes, of course.” She pointed to the end of the counter. “That one is for public use.”

Katy called the dress shop, relieved to hear her grandmother’s voice. “I’ve been dying of curiosity,” Lucille said eagerly. “Is the baby here?”

“Not yet.” Katy looked at the big clock above the reception desk, realizing they’d been at the hospital for nearly four hours now. “But I think you should just close the shop, Grandmother.”

“Good idea. I’ll put out a sign saying we’re out for the birth of the baby.” She chuckled. “That’ll give our customers something to chatter about. And then, how about if I come over there to wait with you?”

“Oh, would you?”

“Of course! It’ll be exciting to see the new baby.”

Katy promised to meet her in the waiting area and, as she hung up, felt greatly relieved to know that she wouldn’t be waiting alone. Most people thought of Katy as a very confident, impetuous, and brave person, but when Katy heard Ellen howling in pain this morning, she’d gotten a startling wakeup call. This would be her in six months or so. And, like Ellen, her husband would be thousands of miles away. It was unsettling.

To distract herself, Katy reached for her handbag. As always, she kept a small sketch pad in it. This was for whenever a new idea for a fashion design came upon her. Sometimes at the most unlikely places. Unfortunately, the wartime fashions were not as inspiring as they’d been a few years ago. Katy missed the lace and ribbons and frills. Nowadays, women’s styles had grown more severe. Even somewhat military looking. Katy had done a number of designs like this and, although the younger women liked them, it was taking awhile for them to catch on in their small, conservative community.

Now, with her thoughts on babies, Katy decided to draw something suitable for a newborn infant. Perhaps they would introduce a line of baby clothes at the dress shop. She was just finishing up a pretty christening gown, similar to the one she’d made for Ellen’s baby, when Grandmother bustled into the waiting area.

As always, Lucille looked festive and colorful. Katy’s grandmother had her own sense of style and, despite the military inspired fashion trends, the older woman still enjoyed her frills and furs. Today she had on a lilac gown with a long gray fur stole slung over her shoulders, and she smelled of lavender.

“Has the baby arrived?” Lucille asked with wide eyes.

“Not that I know of. I asked them to send someone down with the news.” Katy put her sketch pad back into her bag.

“What do you think it will be?” Lucille sat down beside her.

“For some reason I think it will be a girl.”

“That’s probably because you’re hoping to have a boy.” Lucille winked.

“Maybe so.” Katy twisted the handle of her purse. “Do you remember what it was like to have a baby, Grandmother?”

Lucille chuckled. “That’s something a woman never forgets. Oh, we might forget some parts of it, but we generally remember.”

“Was it terribly painful?” Katy peered curiously at her.

“Well, darling, that’s one of the things a woman tries to forget.”

“Oh.” Katy nodded.

“Of course childbirth is painful, Katy. But that pain is swallowed up with the joy of holding your baby in your arms.”

“So you felt like that? You were joyful when my mother was born?” Katy studied her grandmother closely.

“Yes, as a matter of fact I did feel joyful.” Lucille slowly removed a soft leather glove. “I’m well aware that I gained a reputation for not being maternal, but I did feel motherly. At the start anyway. And then, well, things changed.”

“Your mother-in-law made it difficult for you.” Katy had heard the story about how Mac’s mother had dominated the young bride and her child and how she’d eventually made it very easy for Lucille to leave Sunset Cove.

“Unfortunately I wasn’t a very strong person back then. I was unable to stand up to Mac’s mother. In all honesty, I was probably too young to be a mother.”

“Do you think I’m too young?”

“No, darling, I do not. You are so much wiser than I was at your age. Like your mother says sometimes, you are old for your age, Katy. I have no worries about you, dear. You’ll be a wonderful mother. And Jim will be a wonderful father.”

“I hope so.”

Lucille squeezed Katy’s hand. “I’m sure it was difficult to see Ellen in pain. Especially since you know your time is coming.”

“I’ll admit that it was disturbing to hear her this morning.” Katy sighed. “But Ellen has a tendency to be a bit, well, melodramatic.”

Lucille smiled. “Yes, I’m sure you’re right about that.”

Katy checked her watch pendant. “But she has been in labor for quite a long time now. Does it usually take this long to have a baby?”

“Often. Though I think it’s different for everyone.” Lucille frowned slightly. “How has it been living with Ellen?”

“Oh…I suppose it’s all right.”

“I know Ellen really appreciates you being there. Of course, Clara does too. Especially considering how those two haven’t gotten along so well of late. But I have been concerned for you, dear. It’s nice that you want to help Ellen, but I worry that she might take advantage of you. I don’t like to say it, but that girl has a bit of a lazy streak.”

Katy smiled. “Yes, well, that’s not news.”

“I also know that your grandfather misses you.”

“He does?” Katy frowned, remembering her chess games with Mac, having tea in his sitting room overlooking the ocean. “I should visit him more—and I want to. But between the dress shop and helping with Ellen and leading our Red Cross chapter…well, there’s only so much time in the day.”

“I know it’s not my business, dear, but I hope you’ll remember to take care of yourself too. I’m concerned that Ellen—and her new baby—will be very needy. They might run you ragged.”

Katy smiled. “Oh, Grandmother, don’t worry. I won’t let that happen.” She looked up to see a nurse coming their way.

“Mrs. Bouchard has given birth,” she told them.

“What is it?” Katy asked eagerly.

“A boy.” The nurse smiled. “Seven pounds three ounces.”

“And how is Mrs. Bouchard?” Lucille asked.

“The mother is doing well. She’ll be ready for visitors within the hour. You can view the baby at the nursery if you like.”

Katy grabbed Lucille’s hand. “Let’s go see little Larry now.”

“Larry?” Lucille stood.

“Yes. That’s what Ellen said the name would be if it was a boy. Larry for Lawrence.”

As they rode the elevator up, Katy tried to suppress the idea that since Ellen had a boy that Katy would automatically have a girl. Even though Ellen had claimed such a thing, Katy knew it was silly. And she really did want a boy. She was already imagining calling him Little Jimmy.

Since there was only one baby in the nursery window, they knew it must be young Larry. But as Katy peered down at the red wrinkled face, she was unimpressed. “He’s not very good looking, is he?” she quietly said to Lucille.

“They’re never very pretty at the beginning. Even your beautiful mother was rather homely at first.”

Katy laughed. “I’ll have to keep that in mind.”

After a while, they went in to see Ellen. “How are you feeling?” Katy asked gently. “Was it very hard on you?”

Ellen leaned back into her pillow with a loud sigh. “Oh, my…don’t ask.”

“But she’s better now,” Clara told Katy. “Did you see our beautiful baby boy?”

“Yes, we just saw him.” Katy exchanged glances with Lucille. “He’s lovely.”

“We closed the dress shop in his honor,” Lucille told them. “I put a big sign on the front door, saying we were out for a baby’s birth.”

“How long will you be in the hospital?” Katy asked Ellen.

“Doc Hollister said a week.” Ellen lowered her voice. “But I’m worried about the expense.”

“I told you I’d help,” Clara assured her.

“So will I,” Katy offered.

“And I will too,” Lucille said.

Ellen’s eyes filled with tears. “Thank you all so much. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

They took turns hugging her, reassuring her that all would be well until the nurse came in, announcing that visiting time was over. “It’s time to bring baby in here. Only one guest can remain.” She pointed to Clara. “And I recommend the grandmother.”

Relieved by this, Katy leaned down to kiss Ellen’s cheek. “I’ll come back to visit you tomorrow. In the meantime, I hope you get lots of good rest.”

As Katy drove Lucille home, she made a decision. “I think I’ll go home to Grandfather’s house while Ellen’s in the hospital,” she declared as she waited for Lucille to get out.

“Oh, good!” Lucille grinned. “He’ll be so glad to hear that. Your mother will be too. And Mickey and Bernice.”

“And it’ll feel like a holiday to me,” Katy admitted as her grandmother got out.

Lucille laughed. “I’m sure it will.”

As Katy drove two houses down to her grandfather’s house, she felt a huge sense of relief. The idea of a week here was really a welcome thought. No more cooking and cleaning and catering to Ellen during her “off” hours. It really would be like taking a vacation!

 She parked in the carriage house then went through the backdoor to the kitchen. “Hello,” she called to Bernice as she stirred something on the stove.

“Oh?” Bernice turned then smiled. “My darling girl is back.” She hugged Katy. “Are you staying for dinner? We have plenty.”

“I’m hoping I can stay for the whole week.” As she unpinned her hat, she explained about Ellen and the baby.

“As far as I’m concerned you can stay here till the cows come home.” Bernice nodded to a tray she was just setting up for tea. “Want to add another teacup and take that to your grandfather?”

“Certainly.” Katy set her hat and gloves on a kitchen chair. “How’s he doing anyway?”

“All things considered, not too bad. Well, unless that old Doc Hollister comes sniffing round Lucille. That gets Mac grumbling.”

Katy laughed as she picked up the tray. “I know how he feels.” She walked slowly through the old house, remembering the pleasure she felt the first time she saw the McDowell house. Having grown up in a tiny city apartment, the old stone estate had felt like a mansion to her. And the view of the sea had thrilled her artist’s heart. She didn’t realize how much she’d missed it these past couple of months.

“Good afternoon,” she said brightly as she went into Mac’s private sitting room.

“Katy girl!” Mac’s blue eyes twinkled. “To what do I owe this pleasure?”

She set down the tray and then explained about Ellen’s baby and her plans to spend a week here. “If you don’t mind.”

“If I don’t mind?” He chuckled as she handed him a teacup. “I was just feeling sorry for myself.”

“Why are you feeling sorry for yourself?”

“Oh, just feeling lonely. The house is so quiet these days. Not like it was before. Remember the fun times we had before our boys all went off to war? And then you moved out to help with Ellen. And Anna is always so busy with the newspaper. It’s just not the same as it was before.”

“I know what you mean.” She sat down with her teacup, gazing out over the foggy ocean. “But it won’t always be like this.”

“No, of course, not. The war will end, the boys will come home and…” He brightened. “We’ll soon hear the pitter-patter of little feet.”

She told him a bit more about baby Larry. “I didn’t want to say anything to Ellen, but he wasn’t very good looking. He reminded me of a wrinkled old man.”

“You mean like me?”

“No, you’re a handsome old man.”

Mac smiled. “Flattery will get you nowhere.”

“It’s true.”

His smile faded. “I wish your grandmother agreed with you there.”

“But she does, Grandfather,” Katy insisted. “I know she does.”

He rubbed his chin with a doubtful expression. “I’m not so sure. She’s been spending a whole lot of time with Doc Hollister of late. Or should I say JD as she calls him. JD—what kind of name is that for an old codger like him?”

“Well, if she’s been spending more time with the old doctor, you have only yourself to blame.” She shook her teacup at him.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You haven’t been inviting her to do things with you.”

“The last two times I asked her over for dinner, she already had plans.”

“Then you need to book her well in advance, Grandfather. Beat old Doc Hollister to the punch.”

“Is that so?” He picked up a ginger cookie.

“I know what we’ll do,” she said suddenly. “We’ll host a dinner party while I’m here. We’ll have it on Saturday, and I’ll be sure that Grandmother can come. And I’ll make sure that Doc Hollister is not on the guest list.”

His blue eyes sparkled. “That’s just the ticket, Katy.”

“I’ll handle everything.”

He chuckled. “I have no doubt about that.”

“We’ll have Mayor Wally and Thelma. And Chief Rollins and his wife.” She counted on her fingers. “And Clara and Randall. You and Grandmother and Mother and me. That’s ten. A good-sized dinner party.”

Mac grinned at her. “You’ve always been good medicine for me, Katy girl. I’m so glad you’re back. Even if it’s only for a week.”

Katy wished that it could be for good, but she knew that Ellen expected her to continue sharing the apartment in town. If she hadn’t given her word, she would gladly bow out now. Still, she knew that Ellen needed her. Probably more than ever just now.