Excerpt: "Ursula has struggled to control her tendency to …"
Ursula Raines was born October 19, 1985, to Jacob and Lilly Raines in Huntsville, Alabama. Jacob was a mechanical engineer, and Lilly was a homemaker. Jacob loved James Bond movies and the swimsuit scene in Dr. No provided the namesake for the family's new daughter.
As she grew older, Ursula spent time with her father in his workshop. In the evenings and on weekends, he tinkered with his own versions of James Bond's famous toys. He built small airplanes and ultra light aircraft in addition to rigging up all kinds of electronic toys to his house. Long before auto manufacturers started selling remote door openers, the Raines family had a remote control for the front door. Ursula clearly inherited her father's skill with mechanics, and she won the science fair each year at school.
Life in the Raines house was good, and Ursula loved her parents. Nevertheless, she always felt like an outsider with other kids. She never seemed to fit in anywhere. She could win go-cart races and things like that, but the boys seldom wanted a girl around. And she just could not get interested in the girls' makeup parties.
In high school, Ursula focused on academics where her strengths lay. She didn't play any sports or join any clubs, and she didn't date. She got straight A's during the day and then went home and tinkered with mechanical gizmos in her father's workshop.
After high school graduation, Ursula attended Vanderbilt University. Everyone always assumed that she would follow in her father's footsteps and become an engineer. But in college, Ursula grew tired of soldering irons and metal frames.
A biology class intrigued her, and she began to see the human body as a mechanical instrument in its right. She saw the way muscles moved, the way bones supported the structure of the body, and she was fascinated by the way that her mechanical background could mesh with human flesh and blood. She decided that when she finished her undergraduate work, she would pursue a career in physical therapy.
It was also at Vanderbilt that Ursula had her first romantic relationships. Her freshman year, she had dated a few times but was never interested. She felt like an outsider among her fellow students, just like in high school. But one night while studying, her best female friend kissed her and Ursula no longer felt so alone or distant. She was strong enough, and her loving parents supportive enough, that Ursula quickly opened up as a lesbian. Ursula began dating her study partner, a biology major from Lexington, Kentucky named Leigh Burrell.
Ursula and Leigh's relationship was intensely passionate. Having spent so much time alone and on the outside looking in, Ursula doted on her girlfriend, making sure Leigh always knew how much she loved her. Leigh was smitten by her romantic gestures and words, and she promised Ursula they would always be together.
After graduation, Ursula worked on her master's degree in physical therapy, and Leigh pursued a master's in biology. Over time, the devotion Leigh found so charming began to feel smothering. Whenever she had classes or labs, Ursula would walk her there and then be waiting for her after it was over. Leigh struggled to work on any group projects because Ursula got so distressed whenever Leigh spent time with others without her. As the couple neared the completion of their degrees, Leigh saw it as a natural point to end the relationship. Ursula was heartbroken.
Ursula decided a change of scenery would help her move on, so she accepted a job with a private physical therapy practice in Oxford, Mississippi. She had wanted to work in a town with a major college so she could see treat sports injuries in addition to the more routine disorders that are seen at physical therapy offices.
Shortly after arriving in Oxford, Ursula started a relationship with a young chemistry major. Ursula fell hard for the girl and doted on her the same way she had on Leigh, but Ursula's intensity frightened the young girl. She broke up with Ursula and then changed her phone number, telling friends it was the only way to get any peace.
Ursula hadn't gone out with anyone for about nine months when she met Gretchen Doyle at a political fundraiser. They instantly struck up a relationship and have been dating exclusively for almost a year. Throughout her relationship with Gretchen, Ursula has struggled to control her tendency to overwhelm her girlfriend with her devotion. She vowed to herself early on that she would not allow her intensity to ruin another of her relationships.