The Surrogate: A Novel

The Surrogate: A Novel

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by Kathryn Mackel

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The perfect candidate to carry their child...with the perfect opportunity to destroy their lives.

When Kyle Dolan convinces his wife, Bethany, to hire a surrogate for their last surviving embryo, they allow themselves to hope once again. A med school student, Laurel Bergin seems perfect in every way. Problem is—Laurel Bergin is really Sable Lynde.

As the


The perfect candidate to carry their child...with the perfect opportunity to destroy their lives.

When Kyle Dolan convinces his wife, Bethany, to hire a surrogate for their last surviving embryo, they allow themselves to hope once again. A med school student, Laurel Bergin seems perfect in every way. Problem is—Laurel Bergin is really Sable Lynde.

As the pregnancy progresses, Sable's dark secrets surface, and her inner demons spill out into the Dolans' lives. In a terrifying encounter, Sable is injured and lapses into a coma. Now the Dolans face psychological and supernatural forces they never knew existed.

Fearing for their sanity, their own lives, and the life of their baby, they confront the surrogate—and the darkness surrounding her—in a heart-stopping climax that will keep you reading late into the night.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Desperate for a child, Kyle and Bethany Dolan choose a surrogate mother whose past mistakes threaten their future. Mackel, a screenwriter for Left Behind: The Movie, is a member of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.68(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.82(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Kyle Dolan was convinced that his wife was trying to kill him. Forty degrees with a chill wind, but he was sweating like a prizefighter.

Fifty feet ahead of him, Bethany poked her stick along the trail, bracing against slick rocks. Headphones on, she conducted an unseen orchestra that long ago had laid down its instruments.

"Bethany!" If Kyle's lungs didn't explode, his heart would. He was an avid racquetball player, but his wife set a killer pace. Was this what she had been doing for the last month-racing up and over mountain trails as if they were highways? He never should have let her go to the New Hampshire farmhouse without him.

"I need the time away. Time to be alone," she had said. Too much consolation from friends and colleagues was choking her in Boston.

She had gone north at the end of March. In the last week of April, spring was in full force in the Mount Washington Valley. The grass was lush and green, the Saco River swollen from snow and running hard. Strawberry plants were already full with foliage, their fruit blossoms just short weeks away.

Beautiful, yes, but Kyle knew that spring in the White Mountains was the most dangerous time of the year. Ice still choked the upper slopes. Snowstorms could spin out of the clouds without warning, stranding hikers who had left the valley in shorts and T-shirts. Even vigorous, experienced climbers weren't immune to the avalanches in the ravines.

And his wife had been climbing there for weeks, all by herself. Anything could have happened. "Bethany!" Kyle bellowed.

She slid the headphones down and scrambled to him. "You look like you're having a heart attack, Southie."

"You won't be laughing when you have to drag my body off this mountain."

She grabbed his side. "Especially with this extra twenty pounds you brought with you." She half-pinched, half-tickled his ribs.

"Looking for love handles?"

Bethany put her lips to his ear. "Looking for love."

He pulled her close, sliding his hands under her backpack. She was hot under her pack but cool against his chest.

"Some heart rate you got going there," she said. "This little stroll too much for you?"

"You. You're too much woman for this Southie kid to handle."

"That's blarney, Dolan. I know you. Deli lunches, stack the ham high. Chinese takeout, extra noodles and double chicken wings. And cookies for dessert. Though I maintain that no one needs dessert after breakfast."

"You sent them to me!" he protested.

"To share with your staff! Not to eat in front of the television every night."

"I was just being a good husband. Doing my duty by eating every single one."

She kissed the tip of his nose. "You are the best husband. I missed you, Kyle."

"I missed you. Oh, how I missed you." He could feel it now, that slight tremble in the small of her back-the crushing fear that this pain would last forever. What he would give to lift that from her, or for her to at least let him help carry it.

He laced his fingers into her hair. Her father had gone gray early, but Bethany didn't even have a hint of silver. Just that rich brown, so dark it was almost black, and glossy, like an elegant cat. And like a cat, she loved having her head rubbed, his fingertips deep in her scalp.

"Beenie, I shouldn't have left you up here so long by yourself."

"I needed the time. But I'm glad you're here now." Her smile was convincing. "So what do you say, old man? We have to summit by noon so we can get down before dark."

"Get down?" He faked a dying gasp. "You mean, there's not a car service up there, waiting for us?"

"There ain't even portapotties up there, sweetie!"

"I've been holding it all morning! And now you're telling me-"

"There's a nice tree, right over there. And there, and there, and there-" Laughing, she started up the trail.

"Hey! You never answered my question," he called after her.

"What question?"

"Pick one."

"Why is the sky blue?" The standard question that always began the why game. The who game began with Who's on first? The what's up game began with What's up, Doc?

"Why do men sweat and women glow?" Lame choice-Kyle was never as sharp at this as she was. Bethany insisted that he could never win because he wasn't a question kind of guy; he had all the answers. He only wished he did.

"Why do people water their lawns in the rain?" she parried.

"Why do people climb mountains for fun?"

"Oh. So we're getting personal, are we?" Bethany scrambled up a boulder and assumed a prophet's stance. "Answer me this, son of the mountain."

He bowed at the waist, his face grave and attentive. "Speak, daughter of the skies."

She bit her lip, trying to wipe the grin off her face. "Why-WHY-do the Red Sox blow it every year?"

He grabbed his heart, staggering backwards. "Why do I root for them anyway?"

"Why are you such a sweet fool?" Bethany looked sixteen in that moment, her skin clear and unlined, her eyes dancing with mischief. He ran up the trail. Too fast-he slipped, scraping his hand. When he reached her, she took his hand and kissed the scrape.

"Why do I love you so much?" he asked, knowing the answers were endless.

She was silent.

"Beenie. It's your turn," he prompted.

"Why-" She buried herself in his chest.

"Why what?"

"Just why," she whispered to his heart.

The breeze swelled, now cold and raw, sweeping down from the north side of the ridge, the shadowed side where the sun never shone. Kyle held his wife as tightly as he could.

It was not much of an answer, but it was all he had.


Bethany savored this time, the smooth rock under her back, the sun on her face. Her husband beside her, snoring lightly as he slept. She stretched from toes to fingertips, enjoying the warmth in her body, the new strength. Kyle had called her chiseled last night, exploring her with love but also care, wanting to make sure she wasn't too thin. He was the athlete, she the artist, but the constant hiking, from dawn to sunset, had made her body hard.

Her heart was proving more difficult to conquer.

"Beenie?" Kyle's eyes were blurry with sleep, his hair flat on one side. Those lines around his eyes were new. But they were inevitable, weren't they? He was forty-one; she was thirty-nine. Still young by many measures, they had lived a lifetime in the past few years.

She kissed his cheek. "It's almost two. We need to get going."

"Not yet," he said, pulling her to him.

"You do realize the whole world can see us up here."

"Let them look." He kissed her, sweet and deep. And then, despite all they had been through, despite how she had failed him, she knew he loved her still.

He sat up and leaned against the boulder, drew her into him, her back against his chest. There was no sign of civilization, only miles of sky, trees, and mountains. "Bethany. There are things we could be doing now."

Bethany pushed away from him. "Like starting down this mountain before the sun goes down and the night wind turns us into giant Popsicles."

"Every day we don't talk, we're a day older. A day further away from what we want."

"There is nothing to discuss." Without thinking, Bethany moved her hand to her abdomen.

"We still have one embryo. It would still be our baby if we used a surrogate."

"It's not that simple, Kyle."

"Maybe not simple-but it has become very routine. Remember that thing on the news last night, about a sixty-year-old woman carrying a baby for her daughter? Easy."

She nodded, watching a redtail hawk cruise in the wind. It was always so easy for Kyle. Something either worked your way or it didn't. Their marriage was a tremendous success. The acclaimed pianist, Bethany Testamarta, and the dashing entrepreneur, Kyle Dolan, were an attractive, exciting couple. Even in private they were a good match. His temperament soothed her; her passion inspired him. Their faith rooted them.

"Won't you at least consider it?"

"I can't." She shouldered her pack, then pulled her cap down on her forehead to hide her face.

He turned her around and pulled her into him. "Hey, it's okay," he whispered. "We'll talk about this later. You'll come around when you have time to think it through."

Bethany hugged him, then turned for the trail. She would never come around. It had taken all her courage to survive the death of her baby and the hysterectomy. She had nothing left to hope with. God had lifted His hand and let nature take its course.

It had been a cruel one.

Meet the Author

Kathryn Mackel is a best-selling author and acclaimed screenwriter for Disney and Fox. She was on the screenwriting team for Left Behind: The Movie and Frank Peretti's Hangman's Curse. She is the acclaimed author of The Surrogate, The Departed, and The Hidden and resides in Boston, Massachusetts, with her husband.

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The Surrogate 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a great read! The Surrogate kept me up way too late reading. Mackel has a way with cranking up the suspense. I hope she has another book coming out soon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I know Kathryn personally and have read her juvenile fiction work. I wasn't sure what to expect with her first entry into Adult Fiction but I can sum it up by saying that I read THE SURROGATE in two sittings. Kathryn is going where few have dared to go in the Christian Genre...her new work contemplates the ethics and morality of tough choices. The book moves along with some great twists and intrigue.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could harldly put this book down.It just kept getting better and better. I didn't want it to end. This book is a must read for anyone who likes mystery and suspense.
MichelleSutton More than 1 year ago
The Surrogate is a very engrossing novel with intriguing characters and a strong plot. Unlike most suspense novels, this one actually kept me guessing and I loved the twists and turns along the way. This story was not predictable and sometimes it even raised the hair on the back of my neck. So if you are looking for a story that will give you the willies and keep you on the edge of your seat praying for the safety of the characters, then you must read this book. Also, she has some really great thugs for characters and their points of view are creepy, but believable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love reading books where I'm familiar with the locales. Mackel has a real knack for describing Boston and North Conway in a way that lets me feel like I'm right there! And what a page turner! I had to expect the unexpected but was literally apprehensive about what would happen next. Very realistic characters who were feeling emotions we can all relate to. I can't wait to read what Kathryn Mackel has up her sleeve with her next book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Surrogate' is a wonderful book! The characters are interesting and believable, the plot is fast-moving and suspenseful. In addition to the usual elements of a thriller, in this book, Kathryn Mackel provides a thought-provoking look at how the faith of the main characters comes into play as they cope with personal pain and frightening circumstances. Really enjoyable!
Guest More than 1 year ago
But that was a good thing. I could not put this book down. Once I got into it, I HAD to see how it turned out. The plot has so many twists, I loved the surprises, even when they scared me. But the writer does such a good job with the science, the legal stuff, and the spiritual stuff, that this is more than just a thriller. It's got some depth to it. I hated when it was over but it's a good thing it was or I wouldn't have gotten any work done. Cool stuff.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a page turner! Great character development and faith elements as well. I loved the mountain settings, the music, and the progression of events. So exciting but also sensitive. I recommend this highly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book would be a good wholesome read. It was a warped bore from beginning to end. This author is unable to create suspense effectively, mostly because you don't care about these poorly defined and devoid of depth characters. - AVOID AT ALL COSTS!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Beenie, Hannah-banana, Who's on first?, etc. African-American baby has to have a dumb name like Tawndra, a character whose mother added absolutely nothing to the story. Hardly got to know Sable pre-Laurel, as Laurel and after, as Sable again. It is late, and I do not have time to write the hundred and one reasons to hate this book.