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Three Army veteran misfits, a college dropout, an unmotivated high school graduate accused of murder, a controversial warden of a women's prison, and a little girl with the gift of prophesy – these are the people 31-year-old Lara Kruger invites into her life after suffering a miscarriage, a divorce from an abusive husband, and unemployment.
Laramie Larkins Kruger drove up to the hospital emergency door. It was the second time in twice as many weeks. The hand that had been holding a bloody towel against the left side of her face somehow managed to push the car door open. Her other hand rested in her lap, limp and useless. A hospital orderly standing outside by the front entrance saw her. He crushed his half-smoked cigarette into the concrete container of sand provided and quickly located a wheelchair for her.
“Jesus, Ms. Kruger, what have you gone done to yourself now? You been working on that old house again, haven’t ya?”
Lara closed her eyes and let the strong hands of the orderly gently position her into the wheelchair. “Thanks, Ben.”
“I told you to call me next time you needed something done and Mr. Kruger wasn’t around to take care of it. Didn’t I? Didn’t I say that?” He pushed her through the emergency entrance and over to the sign-in window where an elderly woman smiled and handed her a form.
“Back so soon, Mrs. Kruger?”
Lara stared at the piece of paper that had been secured to a clipboard, but her eyes wouldn’t read the print. She couldn’t pick up the pen anyway. Ben took the clipboard from her and began filling in the information next to her name: Age, 31; Time, 1:15 p.m.; Insurance, on file; Nature of Visit, cuts and bruises caused by accident. It was always the same.
Lara and Jake had been remodeling the old Victorian home they bought when they moved to Rocky Mount six months earlier. Everyone knew they were doing it. In a town the size of Rocky Mount, nothing went by unnoticed. Since they were doing a lot of the work themselves, it was easy just to say she slipped off a ladder, a rotten floorboard gave way, something had fallen on her – whatever. No one questioned her answers.
“My, my. Looks like you got scraped up pretty good, Mrs. Kruger.” The elderly volunteer worker smiled sympathetically and took the form Ben had just filled out. “What happened this time?”
Lara tried not to grimace from the pain. It felt like one of her ribs was broken. “I yanked too hard on the door of that old shed in back we’re trying to convert into a garage and it gave way.” The lie came easily.
Barbara Casey is president of the Barbara Casey Agency, representing adult fiction and nonfiction for authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, and Japan. She is also the author of numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Her award-winning novels have received national recognition, including the Independent Publishers Book Award, the Dana Award for Best Novel, and the Publisher’s Best Seller Award. Her novel, The House of Kane, released in 2008, was considered for a Pulitzer nomination, and her novel Just Like Family received special recognition by the 7-Eleven Corporation. Her latest young adult novel, The Cadence of Gypsies, was reviewed by the Smithsonian for its list of 2011 Best Books. The Gospel According to Prissy, a contemporary adult novel, was released in the spring of 2013.
In addition to being a frequent guest lecturer at universities and writers’ conferences, Ms. Casey served as judge for the Pathfinder Literary Awards in Palm Beach and Martin Counties, Florida, and was the Florida Regional Advisor for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators from 1991 through 2003.