Home > The Best Is Yet to Come(7)

The Best Is Yet to Come(7)
Author: Debbie Macomber

   Cade left, and Preston remained. “Don’t get your hopes up,” he said. “We do the best we can to avoid euthanizing any of the animals. Sometimes we don’t have a choice. The fact that Shadow has been this badly mistreated and nearly starved to death isn’t a good indication he will ever be able to recover mentally. His spirit has been broken.”

   “I disagree. He has spirit, I can see it in his eyes. I can feel it here.” She pressed her hand over her heart. “He deserves someone who will love him.”

   “And who do you suppose that would be?” Preston asked. “As you can see, this shelter is full of animals without deep psychological problems. Shadow would never fit into a family with small children. It would be far too dangerous. Few people would risk adopting him.”

   It was almost as if Preston had drawn a line in the sand. “I’ll take him,” Hope said, without taking time to consider the ramifications of what she’d said. If she could get Shadow to trust her enough to let her take him home, then she’d willingly adopt him.

   Preston’s smile blossomed on his face. “That’s what I thought you’d say. This isn’t a pet, Hope, Shadow is a project. He’s going to need a lot of love and a lot of effort if you’re going to make this relationship work.”

   “I know,” she said, agreeing with him. She was willing to do whatever was necessary. Shadow needed a home; he needed someone to believe in him. Someone patient who would care enough to overlook his physical and mental flaws.

   As she looked past Shadow, her gaze found Cade as he walked a rescue Australian shepherd, his limp more pronounced than usual. Her gaze lingered, and she had the strongest impression that he, too, needed someone to believe in him.



Chapter 3


   Cade stood before Judge Walters for his court-ordered ninety-day review. Once again, she’d left his hearing until the last of the day. Ms. Newman, his court-appointed attorney, had heard from the county clerk that the judge had marked her name on his case file. Cade wasn’t sure what that meant, other than she seemed to have taken a personal interest in him. Whether that was good or bad remained to be seen.

   “I have the documentation before me that you’ve fulfilled the required physical therapy in addition to the counseling.”

   “Yes, Your Honor.”

   She looked up and held his gaze. “Has the physical therapy helped?”

   Cade shook his head until he remembered he needed to respond verbally for the court reporter. “It’s doubtful.” The sessions were pure torture, and his attitude was bad. The only reason he continued was because the judge had made it understood that otherwise he’d be facing jail time.

   “Walk for me,” she instructed. “Go all the way to the rear of the courtroom and back.”

   Hesitating for only a moment, Cade did as she requested. Once he returned, she shook her head. “You’re wrong, Soldier. Your limp is less pronounced.”

   “If you say so.”

   “I do, and I want you to continue, despite the fact that you seem to believe it isn’t helping.”

   “Yes, Your Honor.” Cade had hoped she’d be willing to let him discontinue the PT. Far more than the fact that he begrudged every minute of those sessions, he didn’t know how he was supposed to earn a living. Counseling, both physical and mental, in addition to all the community service hours he was required to fulfill, made it nearly impossible to find decent employment. He’d gotten a part-time job at a local tire shop and garage, located across from the high school, which hardly paid him enough to cover more than the basics.

   “And the counseling?” the judge pressed. “Tell me how that’s going.”

   When he first heard “court-mandated counseling,” Cade was convinced it would be a complete waste of time. He hated the very thought and had no intention of revealing his soul to some quack. To his surprise, Cade discovered he quite liked his counselor. Harry Milton was nothing like what he’d expected. He hadn’t pressed Cade to discuss anything having to do with his injuries or his combat experience. What Cade found most helpful were the group sessions. As of yet, he hadn’t contributed. He needed to get a feel for the others before he’d be willing to share. Listening to their stories, seeing how they had worked their way back from the edge, had helped Cade square his head. It relieved his mind to know he wasn’t alone. He’d noticed the nightmares that had plagued him for months didn’t happen as often. The group had offered him a lifeline, one he hadn’t realized how badly he needed.

   “It’s going well, Your Honor.”

   She nodded, looking pleased. “I’m glad to hear it, Soldier. Very glad.”

   Her continued interest in his case made Cade wonder if his family had something to do with this. He needed to find out if they’d been involved. He hadn’t seen or talked to his mother since the day of his sentencing. He had no doubt she’d been quick to tell his father how low their son had sunk. How she’d even known he had a court date remained a mystery.

   “You’re doing well, Soldier,” the judge continued. “I’ll schedule another ninety-day review with the clerk. Until then, keep up the good work.”

   “Yes, Your Honor.”

   Cade left the courtroom and headed to Harry’s for his weekly session. He drove from the courthouse in Montesano to Aberdeen, where Harry Milton had his office. Harry was a vet himself and had served in the first Gulf War. Nearing fifty, he was starting to show his age, with salt-and-pepper hair and a beer gut. His deep blue eyes revealed his own battles with demons who’d followed him from the Middle East. What Cade appreciated most about Harry was the fact that he could read bull faster than anyone Cade knew. He facilitated the group sessions and confronted anyone looking to cover up their feelings with humor, distraction, or other evasion tactics. Harry always cut it off and called it what it was. Cade found the counselor’s ability to read into people’s psyche nothing short of astonishing. He didn’t let anyone, man or woman, lie to themselves or to others.

   Harry stepped out of his office after Cade was announced by the receptionist who also served the three other counselors in the VA facility.

   “Cade.” Harry greeted him with a welcoming smile, leading him into the small office, where a coffee machine rested on the counter. On his first visit, just as he’d predicted, the only two pieces of furniture in the room were a chair and a sofa. If not for the court order, Cade would have turned around and walked out. He didn’t look upon it the same way now as he had in the beginning. The overstuffed sofa was comfortable. Harry didn’t know much about interior decor, yet somehow the room felt welcoming and soothing, sterile as it was.

   “Make yourself a cup of coffee,” Harry said.

   Cade did, and Harry made another for himself.

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