Here is just a little about the story before we get to the heroine’s interview.
As a rising medical malpractice attorney, Charlotte Taylor believes in standing up for the injured, giving them a voice, and advocating for their rights. She couldn’t do it for her mother, so she does it for others, even if it means losing the love of her life.
Dr. Clayton Montgomery believes in working hard and playing even harder, until he reconnects with Charlotte. Barely noticing her crush when he tutored her ten years ago, Clay has a chance to make up for lost time when the beautiful lawyer comes back into town…until he discovers her chosen career path.
Now, philosophical differences soon become a reality and Charlotte is faced with the choice of representing a client against the hospital and against Clay. Will Charlotte give up her career and her tribute to her mother for a second chance with the man who got away?
Interview with Charlotte Taylor
MI: Thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to answer a few questions, Charlotte. How has your homecoming been thus far?
CT: It’s a challenge. I came back to Princeton because my sister’s husband died suddenly. Right after Christmas last year. My sister, Renee, has two young children, Eva who is 5 and Jake who is 2. She needed some help, so here I am.
MI: It must have been difficult leaving your life behind in San Francisco.
CT: When I first came back to Princeton, it was just temporarily. I had no intention of quitting my job or giving up my apartment in California. But when I saw how distraught my sister was, and how difficult it was going to be for her in dealing with her husband’s death while taking care of the children and working, I knew I had to step up and make a life-changing decision.
MI: Was it hard to get a job here?
CT: Luck was on my side. One of the partners at Cooper, Smith & Bartlett, a local law firm, had been trying to recruit me a year ago. His name is Brad Carlton and he’s the managing partner of the firm. He knew I represented plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases and he was looking for an associate. At the time, I intended to stay in San Francisco, so I thanked him for his offer but declined. Once I knew I had to stay in Princeton, at least for a while, I called Brad to see if the position was still available. It was.
MI: Your parents also worked at that firm, didn’t they?
CT: Yes. They were partners there until they died in a car accident ten years ago.
MI: I’m sorry. Did their careers influence you to become a lawyer?
CT: Absolutely. On Saturdays when I was young, they would bring me to the office while they worked. I would find an empty office or conference room and pretend to talk to a client. I would also play with the computer keyboard as if I were drafting a document. I wandered the halls as if I owned the place. It’s really odd being back there now. But of course, I’m just a lowly associate.
MI: Is it difficult being there with your parents gone?
CT: Interestingly, it’s not. I can feel their presence in the halls or hovering around me. I’m not a spiritual person and I don’t believe in ghosts or anything like that, but it’s a comfort. They’re my guardian angels and I often ask for their help and guidance.
MI: How did you choose to become a medical malpractice lawyer?
CT: I wanted to be a litigator and I want to help people. Representing people who are injured because of a medical mistake is a worthy cause, at least in my mind. I know everyone doesn’t feel the same way. Especially doctors.
MI: I understand that you have personal connections with some of the doctors at Nassau General. Does your area of practice interfere with those relationships?
CT: Several of the doctors I’m friendly with, I met when I was a patient at Nassau General ten years ago. After the car accident that injured me and killed my parents, I spent months in the hospital and then in re-hab. Dr. Richard Collins was a friend of my father’s and he made sure I was well taken care of. There were two interns, Dr. Clayton Montgomery and Dr. Matthew Branson who not only helped me heal but they also tutored me in math and physics so I could graduate with my class. I hadn’t seen any of them in ten years. I went to college in New England, then law school in California, where I settled. At least I thought I had.
MI: What is your relationship with the interns now?
CT: They are both excellent doctors in the Nassau General ER. I’ve seen them recently. I’m hoping that our previous friendship will carry the day and that our respective careers will not interfere with that. I guess time will tell.
MI: Any chance of a romantic relationship with a friend from the past?
CT: Only time will tell.
MI: I wish you the best with your new job and hope your sister and the children recover from their loss.
CT: Thank you.
“Is that you Charley?”
His familiar voice rained over her like fairy dust and her skin tingled as she turned away from the hospital elevator.
“Clay. I was wondering if I would see you here today. I stopped by to visit with Dr. Collins.” She inwardly held her breath as she made the snap decision to leave it at that and not disclose the true reason for her visit.
Clay’s smile quieted some of the sting still smarting from Matt’s caustic comments on her career choice and his kiss on her cheek definitely made it all better. Clay sure had the power to heal.
“I bet Collins was thrilled to see you. He brought your name up over the years with such pride in what you were accomplishing.”
“Really?” Strange since she barely kept in touch with him after she had gone to college, despite his attempts. It just showed what a genuine, caring person he was.
“Did Collins tell you about all the renovations that were made since you left? Especially to the children’s wing. You wouldn’t recognize it.”
“No. We didn’t talk much about the hospital. Maybe you can give me a tour sometime when you’re free.” Charlotte hoped her tone held just the right amount of interest without sounding like she was desperate to spend more time with Clay – although she had thought about him non-stop since running into him at the Gala. And every time she replayed his invitation to dinner in her head, she pummeled herself for not accepting.
“I just got off and was heading to talk to Collins about some administrative issues, but that can wait.”
“Matt Branson was just in there to meet with him as well, but Dr. Collins said he didn’t have time right now.”
“Then I’ll catch up with him later. Let’s go.”
Clay put his hand on her back to guide her in the right direction – an insignificant gesture that burned through her suit jacket and sent crazy atoms zinging through her body.
As they moved along the hall, he explained some of the changes that had been made to other areas of the hospital as well. His enthusiasm was catchy and Charlotte found herself an engrossed and captive audience. Or perhaps she was just caught up in Clay, the man who once again starred in her fantasies.
Approaching the children’s wing, Charlotte gasped. The colors burst from the walls – blue, green, purple, yellow, orange. No longer that sanitary eggshell paint that she helped decorate with the children’s drawings when she visited them. “This is amazing. I love it.” She turned in every direction to take in the wonderful changes. “This doesn’t look like a hospital wing.”
“That was the goal.” Clay grabbed her hand and took her over to a little girl maneuvering on crutches toward a play area. “Hi, Tessie. How’s it going?”
“Good, Dr. M. I’m really getting the hang of these things.” She smiled at him with a missing-tooth smile that warmed Charlotte’s heart.
“This is my friend, Charley. She used to be a patient in this hospital after a car accident, just like you.”
Tessie looked Charley up and down. “You got better?”
Charlotte smiled. “I sure did. This is a great place to heal. And Dr. Montgomery helped me a lot.”
Although Tessie was substantially younger than Charlotte had been when she was a patient, Charlotte could see the infatuation on Tessie’s face when she looked at Clay. God, I hope I wasn’t that transparent.
Clay introduced her to a few more children and explained their conditions, just as he had done when she’d been a patient here. She had loved coming to the children’s wing, not just to spend more time with Clay when it had been part of his rotation, although that had been a bonus. But to take the children’s minds off their troubles by playing a board game with them or making a puzzle or drawing a picture. Having no family around, it was therapy for Charlotte as well.
The memories clogged her mind and she barely heard Clay when he suggested they continue on the tour. Were those memories as vivid for Clay? Doubtful.
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About the author
Maria Imbalzano is a matrimonial lawyer in central New Jersey where she not only uses her law degree to navigate her clients through the court system, but her psychology degree to guide them through their personal struggles. While writing motions, legal memoranda, and briefs is fascinating, it pales in comparison to creating memorable characters and taking them on their emotional journeys.
In addition to practicing law and writing fiction, Maria enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters either at home or at the Jersey Shore.
For more information go to www.mariaimbalzano.com