Sage smiled widely in return. “You’re looking so good, Heidi.” She swiftly crossed the room to give her a gentle hug. “It’s so nice to see you. How are you feeling?”

“I’m getting better,” Heidi beamed. “It’s not a real cast anymore, see?” She pointed to her leg that was encased in a brace.

“You’ll be better in no time.” Sage smoothed back Heidi’s hair, happy to see the color in her face and the animation in her expression.

“I got to see my mom today,” Heidi said.

“That’s wonderful, honey.” Sage assumed that meant Heidi’s mother was out of ICU.

That was such a relief. Heidi was such a sweet little girl, and her mother was all she had for family.

“I gave her a picture. I drew it of a tree with apples and oranges and pineapples.”

“All on one tree?” Sage asked and settled onto the edge of Heidi’s bed.

“It’s called artistic expression. I learned that from a book. Nurse Amy read it to me.” A cloud came over Heidi’s expression.

“What is it?” Sage asked.

“Nobody has time to finish The Brave Swan.” Heidi named the last novel Sage had been reading to them.

Sage had forgotten all about the book. She felt terrible for leaving the girl hanging.

“Do you still have the book?”

Heidi pointed to the nightstand.

“Good,” Sage said, moving to the bedside chair. “Let’s read some more of it now.”

She read until Heidi fell asleep. As she kissed her on the forehead, she vowed to come back as soon as possible.

It was late afternoon by the time she was on her way home. At the south end of the city, she drove past a car dealership. There were several in the block, their buildings big and bright, rows of shiny new cars parked in formation out front.

She knew she wasn’t going to buy one. That would be beyond wild. But she was tempted to look around. She’d never even considered buying a new car before. What would it feel like to sit in the driver’s seat of something that had never been used, learn about the features, decide what she liked?

She recognized a brand TJ had recommended and, in a moment of indulgence, she turned into the parking lot. She navigated her way to the showroom, finding several parking spots out front. She didn’t even make it out of the SUV before a friendly, well-dressed man approached her.

“Good afternoon, ma’am.” He extended his hand.

She shut the SUV door. “Hello.”

“I’m Cody Pender. How are you doing today?”

“I’m good.” She was a bit surprised at his overly solicitous manner.

Then she remembered she was driving TJ’s vehicle. The man obviously thought she could afford a new car. Which, she supposed, she now could.

“Are you in the market for something new?”

“I’m just looking today.”

“Just looking is fine. I’m happy to show you around,” he said.

“I’d appreciate that. I’m Sage.”

“Hello, Sage. Are you considering a trade?” He eyed up the one-year-old SUV that was the same brand as the dealership.

“No, not trading this one in.”

“Were you thinking sedan, convertible, minivan, maybe a pickup?”

She smiled. “A car. Definitely not a truck. Beyond that, I really don’t know.”

“I like a customer with an open mind. It’s more fun that way. Let’s start with the showroom. That’ll give you an idea of what suits you.”

Cody led the way through a pair of glass double doors. The showroom was huge, with at least a dozen cars of various sizes and colors.

“Scan the room,” he told her. “Don’t overthink. What’s the first one that catches your eye?”

She strolled down the center aisle, looking from one car to the next. She came to a midsize blue one that looked about right.

“That one?”

“The Medix Sedan. It’s a very popular choice. Great for families, good fuel economy, but still with decent acceleration.” He opened the driver’s door. “Go ahead and hop in.”

Sage’s phone rang.

“Take your time.” He took a few steps away to give her privacy.

The call was from TJ.

“Hi,” she answered.

“Hi, back. Are you on your way home?”

She glanced guiltily around. “I’m, uh, still in Seattle.”

“Oh.” He sounded surprised.

“I stopped at the hospital to see Dr. Stannis, then Heidi. I ended up reading to her for a while.”

“Are you still at the hospital?”

“No…” She realized it was silly to hide what she was doing. “I stopped at a car dealership.”

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