Dr. Carolyn Finn arrived in Pine Valley in 2003 with the surprising news that she and Jake Martin were engaged to be married. The two doctors had met while working with Doctors Without Borders. They eventually left Pine Valley for Africa and were married. Five years later, when Jake returned to Pine Valley, he revealed that he and Carolyn were no longer together; Cara had run off with a truck driver.
In November 2010, Jake received an email asking that he consider returning to Doctors Without Borders. The offer, Jake later told Tad, was from Cara -- Carolyn's nickname. It was the first time that Cara had reached out to Jake since their separation and subsequent divorce. Later, Dr. Griffin Castillo appeared in Pine Valley and, after Griffin saved Opal's life during a cardiac episode, Jake thanked the doctor by punching him in the face. Jake growled that Griffin was the man that Cara had run off with. Tad later uncovered the true connection between Cara and Griffin -- they were siblings, not lovers.
Cara found her way to Pine Valley in December 2010. She ran into Amanda at Krystal's restaurant. When Cara saw a family photo that Amanda had given Krystal, she knew who Amanda was, but Cara kept her identity a mystery from Jake's new wife. Cara's presence would eventually be revealed, and she was forced to stick around Pine Valley longer than she'd anticipated because there were some troubles finalizing her travel documents. Jake was uneasy about his ex-wife's return, as was Amanda, who tried to befriend Cara to, in effect, keep her enemy closer.
As Jake struggled with the feelings that Cara's appearance raised, he soon began to question the relationship he'd had with her. It was revealed that Cara had lied about her last name; she'd been wearing Dr. Finn's identification badge when Jake had first met her, and she'd used his name to prevent her family from learning that she'd planned to work for Doctors Without Borders. Jake also questioned why Cara had wanted to end their marriage, since she had not actually had an affair.
Amanda was uneasy about Cara's presence in Pine Valley and began making phone calls to see if Cara was on the up and up about why she'd returned to town. Eventually, Amanda's paranoia lessened, but at about the same time, Jake discovered that Cara was still wearing her wedding ring on a chain around her neck. When confronted, Cara revealed to Jake that she'd never stopped loving him.
Amanda sensed a shift between Cara and Jake, so when Amanda discovered Cara was in the country illegally, she made plans to have her deported. Tad stepped in to protect Cara when he learned Cara's life would be in danger the minute she left the United States. A drug cartel was after Cara because she had chosen to save the life of a young boy instead of the brother of a cartel leader. The brother had died, and the cartel had vowed revenge against Cara. To avoid making Jake a target as well, Cara had faked an affair so Jake would end their marriage. Tad appreciated what Cara had done to protect Jake, so Tad returned the favor when he married Cara to keep her in the country.
Although Cara still loved Jake, she and Tad got along well, and she bonded with Tad's daughters. Tad and Cara worked together to prove Griffin was innocent when it was suspected he was stealing drugs from the hospital and when he was accused of murdering a woman named Diana. Cara resigned from the hospital when the hospital board questioned her involvement in Griffin's activities. The board refused to accept the possibility that both Castillo siblings were innocent. Tad knew Cara would not be happy unless she was helping people, so he found her a job at a free clinic.
Cara and Tad continued to grow closer as friends, and Tad began to fall in love with his wife. Cara cared for husband, but she remained in love with her ex-husband Jake. Both Amanda and Tad were uncomfortable with the time Cara and Jake spent together, although Jake claimed he was committed to his marriage, and Cara agreed she could not break apart Jake's family. Cara and Jake tried to avoid one another, yet various circumstances continued to pull them together. Eventually, Jake and Cara started to give in to their feelings for one another and almost slept together until a phone call interrupted them. Afterwards, they each made excuses for why they had turned to one another but vowed it would not happen again.
Cara pined for Jake while Tad investigated the charges against her brother and she slowly warmed up to Tad's physical affection. The couple bonded after Tad's mother Opal accidentally dyed his hair blue and Cara helped him undo the mistake. Tad knew Cara still had lingering feelings for Jake but she surprised him by initiating a kiss. When Tad questioned her motives, she explained she was attracted to him and he made her happy. Soon after, she planned a real date with Tad to celebrate their three-month wedding anniversary.
Jake's wife Amanda moved forward with her plans to expand her family and Cara ran a pregnancy test for her. Tad sensed Cara still felt hurt by Jake's marriage and she admitted it was hard to see him happy but she was happy in her marriage. Tad realized the relationship he and Cara were starting to build was based on gratitude and circumstance and lacked the magic they had each experienced in previous relationships. Tad recommended that he and Cara stop whatever they were starting and function as roommates and friends until it was safe to end their marriage.
Tad and Cara continued to think about the other and Tad received a diary that had belonged to his ex-wife Dixie. He felt tied to the past and he shared with Cara that he wanted to move on but he felt as though he was cheating on Dixie. Tad decided to hold an informal ceremony to get rid of Dixie's things and acknowledge her death. He credited Cara for giving him the ability to live in the present and they decided to give their relationship a chance. Cara and Tad made plans to spend time together by going on a honeymoon.
The trip was pushed back when Tad needed to attend to some family matters and Cara was called in to the hospital to treat patients injured when a fire broke out at Oak Haven. One of the patients from Oak Haven was Amanda's mother Janet. She talked enthusiastically about Dixie being alive and it was soon confirmed to be true. David Hayward had used his experimental Project Orpheus treatments on Dixie and saved her from the brink of death. He kept Dixie hidden away until she managed to escape.
Cara was stunned by the news that Dixie was alive and the women were gracious toward one another when they met. Tad vowed to honor his decision to protect Cara and he planned to remain married to her but she quietly moved out of Tad's house and made plans to leave town.
David overheard Cara making plans to leave Pine Valley and he encouraged her to fight for Tad but he admitted he loved Dixie. Cara ran in to David again while she waited for her delayed flight and he offered her a place to stay until she left town. Cara took him up on his offer and they joked that Cara was in dangerous territory being alone with the town pariah. Cara told David she did not view him that way and she kissed him. They ended up in bed together. Afterward, David offered Cara her brother's former position working for Project Orpheus which she accepted.
Numerous Pine Valley residents, including Tad and Griffin, warned Cara to stay away from David after they learned she decided to work with him. She defended her choice and Tad reminded Cara he was there for her and would continue to go along with their marriage to prevent her deportation. Cara wanted Tad to be free of his obligation to her and she admitted that she had slept with David.
When Cara began working for David he tried to continue a physical relationship but she decided their relationship was to remain strictly professional. As Cara and David worked together they developed a friendship and he asked an influential patient he treated to arrange for Cara to receive citizenship. Cara appreciated what David had done and she leaned on him when her brother pretended to leave Pine Valley to return to Doctors Without Borders and was not in communication. Cara was not feeling well and she worried her cancer had returned. David realized Cara was running cancer tests on herself and he vowed to be there for her and to offer any medical or emotional assistance she needed and he joined her in cloud watching at the park.
Cara's test results came back and they revealed she was cancer-free and they also revealed that she was pregnant with David's child. Before Cara had a chance to share the news with David, her brother resurfaced. He had not rejoined Doctors without Borders but had helped Ryan Lavery and Zach Slater obtain evidence that David had known Zach's casino partners planned to murder him. David was taken into police custody.
Cara shared the news of her pregnancy with Griffin and he urged her not to tell David. She contemplated whether or not David should know he was going to be a father and she decided to visit him in jail. During their visit, Cara revealed she was pregnant but informed David she would be raising the child on her own. David accepted Cara's decision and commented that she would be a wonderful mother. Cara later reconsidered and told David she wanted him to be a part of the child's life. She also asked the Chief of Police to be lenient with David and allow him out on bail. He was released and Cara left the police station with him.