Spencer pulled into the parking lot of the children’s home where Sarah lived. The directions Kate printed out before leaving on their trip made it easy to find. Kate took a deep breath.
It was now mid afternoon and sunny but a north wind blew. Kate’s lunch from earlier still sat like a watermelon in her stomach.
Spencer stretched his arms before opening his door. “Kate, don’t worry. This is what the trip was all about.”
Kate didn’t answer, but quickly checked her hair in the rearview mirror and took another deep breath. She slowly got out of the car and headed for the front door, Spencer right behind her. The building wasn’t much to look at, but looked well-taken care of. The red brick building stood two floors high and a fenced in area around slides and swings was on the right side of the building. They walked through the double doors and up to the front desk.
A welcoming receptionist with short brown hair in a floral print dress smiled and asked, “May I help you?”
Kate swallowed the golf ball lump in her throat before answering, “Yes, my name is Kate Langston and I’m here to pick up Sarah Warner.”
The receptionist, Mary Carpenter, according to her name plate, paused for a moment as if trying to recall something. Then she gave a soft gasp, and looking right at Kate said, “I’m sorry for your loss.”
Kate was caught off guard but managed to get out a “Thank you.”
“We’re glad you finally got through that snowy disaster. Was it bad?” Mary was so thoughtful, giving Kate much needed reassurance.
“Um, kind of. I’m just jittery and worn out.” She looked at Spencer standing beside her, who gave her a small smile.
“Of course. I’m glad you have a friend with you. But Sarah is a darling from what I hear. You’ll be great with her, I’m sure.” She turned away to look at her computer screen.
“We got your message about the delay, so don’t worry.” Her bangs shook on her forehead as she pulled out a folder from a stack on a nearby shelf and said, “Mr. Miller will be with you in a moment. I’ll let him know you’re here. And Mr. Carson is on his way also, he just left court.”
“Oh, good, thank you.” Kate wasn’t sure if the lawyer would be able to come since her trip was delayed. Relieved, Kate and Spencer sat down in the waiting area.
“You ok?” he asked.
Kate nodded. “As good as I’m going to be.”
“Kate, I know that this is stressful for you and not what you expected in your life, but you’ll do fine. And Jen, Kelly and I and others will help you as much as you need. Ok?”
“If you think so,” she said doubtfully.
“I know so. Want a magazine?”
Kate shook her head no. Spencer reached his arm around her shoulders for a reassuring hug before he turned to a magazine about cars. They sat against a wall near a table with a display of family and parenting magazines and a leafy fern in a glazed container. Kate picked up a magazine and flipped through it, not really able to concentrate. Her sweaty palms stuck to the pages so she put it down. Her knees jiggled and she wiped her hands up and down her legs.
They could hear children’s voices down the hall and overhead a Mozart piece playing through the speakers. Kate and Spencer sat in yellow plastic chairs arranged in a row against a tan wall. A deep forest green carpet covered the floor and a few prints of exotic flowers adorned the walls. A door opened to the left of the reception area and a tall gray haired man called for her.
Until next time,