A Surprise Visit
Series: Charleston Hearts, Book 3

Carolina Brown couldn’t be more different than her mama if she tried. Growing up, she worked hard to set herself apart, eager to leave town and accomplish big things in the wide world.

But when her mother suffers a near-fatal accident, God calls Carolina back to Charleston to help her adapt to life in a wheelchair and to help make ends meet by temporarily filling in at the local diner. It’s there she meets the whimsical pastor Adam and his team of tiny therapy dogs.

Can they help Carolina learn to see this unexpected twist in her path as a detour rather than a dead end?

Continue this powerful series about family, faith, and the special everyday magic of the South Carolina Lowcountry from New York Times bestselling author Melissa Storm today.

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Carolina Brown approached the crowded bus stop with a happy skip to her step. Out of all the political science majors at her college, she’d been one of the few to land this prestigious internship right in the nation’s capital. It even paid!

For a first-year undergrad to receive this honor was practically unheard of, but her mama had always promised she was destined for great things. Ever since Carolina was a little girl in pigtails, her mother would sit her on her knee and say, “Sugar, there are two kinds of people in this world. The first is like me. We’re happy just getting by. It’s the simple life for us. But the other type? The type like you? Well, you’re made to change the whole world.”

And so, change the world Carolina would.

She’d settled on politics as her career path back when most kids still wanted to be ballerinas or firemen. Her perfect grades in school and stellar test scores landed her a full-ride scholarship to the college that she’d labeled as the second choice on her very lengthy list of possibilities, which was just perfect considering her mother’s waitress earnings didn’t leave any wiggle room for a spendy tuition bill.

She missed her mama back in Charleston, but the two still found time to speak on the phone several times a week and were just as close as ever. After all, it had always been just the two of them against the world. According to Mama, her dad’s brains made her smart, but it was she who’d taught Carolina to have a strong work ethic and a kind heart. Brains were all well and good, but it was the other two traits to which she most owed her beginnings of success.

The city bus arrived with a booming hiss as it slowed to a stop, and Carolina made sure she was the very first to board. Although the raw mileage didn’t amount to much, it would be a long commute due to the constant heavy traffic flow running in, out, and through the Capital. She kept her eyes glued out the window, not wanting to miss a single second. Perhaps on future journeys she’d bring a book to keep her company, but today she was far too excited to even try focusing on anything else.

After today, she’d be a right, proper politician. Just an intern for now, but everyone had to start somewhere. And this was the beginning for her.

When the bus entered the outer limits of D.C., Carolina almost died right there from true bliss. It wouldn’t be long before she moved to the city herself. She’d save every penny from this internship, earn another scholarship for law school, and then she’d become a permanent resident of the greatest city within the greatest country in the whole wide world.

She didn’t deny that America had its problems, but you didn’t stop loving something just because it wasn’t perfect. In fact, you loved it that much harder to help it fix those problems and discover new levels of greatness. That was precisely Carolina’s plan. She didn’t exactly know how she’d leave her mark on history, only that she would find out when the time was right.

She’d serve her country and her fellow citizens by using the talents God and her mama gave her. It all started today.

The lighted signs that hung near the bus’s ceiling flashed the name of her stop, and Carolina rose to exit with a dozen or so fellow commuters. A moment later, she was there right on the sidewalk that led straight up to Congress. She considered pinching herself to make sure it was all real, but no. This wasn’t the kind of dream come true that just randomly plopped into one’s lap. She’d worked hard for this. Even though she was young, she’d given everything she had and then some to making this day a reality.

The skip returned to her step as she approached that beautiful domed building. A hand rose to heart reflexively out of respect for the power, history, and symbol of freedom that stood before her. She’d been here on school trips before, but this was different. Now she wasn’t just a tourist. She belonged here. She’d always belonged here.

Gosh, it was just like coming home, only better.

Her phone jangled in her satchel, playing her silly “Yankee Doodle” ringtone for all within passing distance to hear.

Oops, better silence it now. That would have been so embarrassing if it had gone off in a meeting! She was already the youngest intern of the bunch, which meant she’d have to work that much harder to prove she wasn’t just some kid. And “Yankee Doodle” certainly didn’t help.

While flicking her volume switch to the off position, she glanced quickly at the screen. The missed call sported a Charleston area code, but it wasn’t a number she recognized. Hmm.

A new notification popped up to inform her that she had a voicemail. She pressed to accept it and lifted the phone to her ear as she continued the blessedly short walk to her destination.

“Hi, Carolina. This is Officer Franklin with the Charleston Police Department…”

Carolina stopped so fast the person behind her ran clear into her back. “Sorry,” she mumbled, giving all her attention and energy to the message that continued to play out in her ear.

“There’s been an accident, a pretty bad one. Your mother is on her way to the Medical University of South Carolina now. We saw that you were the last person she called so figured you’d be the one to notify. Um, it’s probably best you come immediately. We aren’t—”

Carolina ended the call abruptly and then turned around and ran back toward the bus stop as fast as her feet could carry her.

Yes, today was the first day of the rest of her life. Hopefully it would be one she’d want to keep living.

Other Books in "Charleston Hearts"