The Promise of Change - By Rebecca Heflin

Part I

Chapter 1

Sarah was in the middle of a mid-life crisis, and she had the shiny new Porsche to prove it.

Chin in hand, she stared out the window of her twenty-first floor office, pondering her current state of mind. Divorced, bored, and twitchy. That about summed it up.

A clap of thunder startled her from her one-person pity-party. A storm rolled in, turning the sky battleship gray and churning up the waters of the St. Johns River.

Afternoon thunderstorms were a common occurrence in summer, building in the warm, muggy Florida climate, only to unleash the accumulated energy just in time for evening rush hour.

The predictability of the afternoon thunderstorms had always been comforting to Sarah, but not today. She felt as charged as the atmosphere.

“Excuse me, Sarah,”—Carlos gave her a sympathetic smile—“but I have another contract here from the radiology department.”

Ugh. If she had to look at another contract she was going to run screaming from the building. After seven years of legal work, she was beginning to question her sanity for persisting in her apparently dead-end career. Could she do this another twenty years?

The phone on her desk rang, momentarily saving her. “Sarah Edwards.”

“Yes, Dr. Davids.” She rolled her eyes at Carlos, who smiled in return.

“Sarah, I’ve been waiting for that medical services contract for a week. When do you think your review will be completed?”

“I’ve reviewed it and my assistant should have the revisions to you by the end of today.” She looked at Carlos, and he nodded and left her office to take care of her request.

“Oh. Well. Thank you.”

That deflated his attitude in short order, she thought. “You’re very welcome. Have a good weekend.”

Working as in-house counsel in a small health system, contracts were as common as palm trees in Florida. She’d lost count of how many she’d reviewed today. It wasn’t as if contracts were the only legal matters the small office handled, they were just the most tedious.

The rain pelted the window like pebbles. Lightning popped all around the city, attracted to the abundant television towers that stabbed the sky from atop the skyscraper rooftops.

Rain notwithstanding, Sarah was considering blowing this Popsicle-stand when Ken, her boss, poked his head in her door. “Hi, Sarah, were you just leaving?”

Feeling a guilty flush creep up her face, she sat back down in her chair as she shook her head.

“Do you have a minute?” He stepped into her office.

“Sure. What do you need?”

“I’d like to discuss an office matter with you.”

Oh God. She swallowed the lump that suddenly formed in her throat. Was he upset that she was leaving early? Was he unhappy with her work product? Not that she would blame him. She hadn’t exactly pursued her work with gusto lately.

“Okay.” She tried to sound composed.

He took a seat in one the chairs across from her desk. “You know I’ve been here since before the steam engine, and I’ve been thinking it’s time to retire. Maybe Cindy and I’ll sail around the world, something we’ve always talked about. I’ve worked hard all my life, and it’s time to enjoy the wind in my sails.”

Ken and his wife, Cindy, had a fifty-foot Catalina sailboat, hence he often spoke in sailing metaphors.

“Retiring?” Sarah hesitated, unsure what to say. She had mixed feelings about his announcement. “That’s great. I mean, that’s great for you and Cindy. You both deserve it. But of course I’ll miss you terribly. Do you have a date in mind?”

“As soon as they can find my replacement.” He waited a beat. “I’d like for you to be that person.” He let that sink in a minute.

This was totally unexpected. The lump of fear turned into a smile of gratification.

“You’re the best lawyer in the office. You’ll be able to take the helm right away, without any downtime or steep learning curve.” Ken stood and paced, his hands in his pockets. “And, a promotion has long been overdue, so I’m recommending you to the board as the next Vice President and General Counsel.”

When Sarah didn’t speak, Ken continued. “Of course, you’re free to take the time to think about it. It will mean increased responsibility and workload, but with a commensurate increase in salary.”

Ken took a seat again, waiting patiently for a reply.

“Ken, I’m sorry, I’m . . . speechless. This is a great honor, really. I don’t know what to say,” she said, faltering.

“Just say you’ll think about it and let me know. I hope you’ll say yes. You’ll make a great captain.” He stood, but before