Genre: Women’s Fiction (magical realism)
Word Count: 82,000

Following an odd premonition and news of her father’s death, surgeon Cate Attwater is forced to return to her traditional hometown, only to become a surrogate for her late parents’ one remaining embryo—her sister.
Like always, it started in my toes.

Focused on the velvet box Bradford unveiled with his beautiful surgeon hands, I’d tried at first to ignore the prickling heat. He got down on one knee just as the fiery fingers reached my thighs. But then the fireball slammed into my stomach, prompting my peanut butter bagel to revolt, and I bolted before he got the box open or a word out.

“Cate? You okay?” Bradford turned the knob. Thank God I’d locked the door. I retched again and he muttered something about getting me water.

Under the garish bathroom light my sweaty face glowed neon pink. I took a few deep breaths and waited. Soon it would be over.

Many middle-aged women know this well: the menopausal hot flash. But today was only my twenty-eighth birthday, so I was nowhere near the change. Besides, I’d been getting them since I was about six years old.

If only I understood why.

Wiping my mouth with a wad of tissue, I flushed the toilet with shaking fingers.

“Cate?The rap of his knuckles against the cheap wooden door startled me, and I knocked over the toothbrush holder that sat on the edge of the sink. With a soft plop our toothbrushes landed in the toilet and lazily circled the bowl with the outgoing current before sinking to the bottom.

“Shit!” I said, too loud for the small bathroom.

Bradford tried the knob again, his voice urgent. “Cate, open the door.” 

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