“Here you go,” the receptionist said. It was a pity that Josh couldn’t work up any attraction for her, but he just couldn’t. “Shall I let Carson know that you’re on your way?”
“Much obliged,” Josh said, settling his hat on his head. “It’s been a while since I drove in the city—how long do you think it’ll take me to get there?”
The receptionist turned her attention back to her computer. After a few keystrokes, she said, “At this time of day, it shouldn’t take you more than forty minutes.”
Josh didn’t try to hide his groan. Back home in Cedar Point, Iowa, forty minutes would put him three towns over. Here, forty minutes on a good traffic day would take him all of three miles.
The dimples were back on the receptionist. “It could be worse—it’s only two in the afternoon.”
“I know.” He touched the brim of his hat and headed back out to his truck. It stuck out like a sore thumb there, parked among the sleek Jaguars and shiny sports cars of all sorts. But he’d had his truck since high school. It’d outlasted college, marriage and his wife’s death. He wasn’t about to get a new vehicle to meet someone else’s preconceived notions of what a multimillionaire business owner should drive.
Because, most days, Josh didn’t feel like a multimillionaire business owner. Most days he was up by four checking on the cattle in the milking operations of the Calhoun Creamery farm. He got crap on his boots and broke a sweat nearly every day. The only break he got was times like now. He’d been on his way home from Washington, DC, after meeting with a lobbyist for the National Dairy Council about what regulations they wanted to see included in the FDA’s new organic standards.
As the owner of one of the largest dairies in the country and the CEO of the Calhoun Creamery, Josh’s word carried some weight in those discussions. It was the only time he left the dairy farm.
Sighing heavily, Josh fired up the old truck and merged back into the hell that was Chicago traffic. He hoped the Newport boys appreciated the sacrifices he was making. And he was thankful that the traffic was just bad enough that he had to really pay attention. People in Iowa did not run lights like they did in Chicago. There, when the light turned red, people stopped. Here, when the light turned red, people sped up. He almost got rear-ended three separate times because he couldn’t make himself run the red.
Finally, the new children’s hospital work site came into view. It didn’t look much like a children’s hospital at this point—half of the exterior didn’t even have walls. Josh studied his directions and saw that the receptionist had made a note that he was to pull down a side street and park in the back. She was a good receptionist. He almost wished that he’d been able to feel something for her. If he was going to be stuck in Chicago, a little distraction could go a long way.
He parked in the construction zone and there, at least, his truck blended in a little better. Josh made himself a promise. He would only stay in Chicago as long as it took to help the Newport boys get some of their issues sorted out. The moment he stopped being useful, he was out of there.
He’d worked too damned hard for a sense of equilibrium after Sydney’s death. He knew better than to tempt fate again, and he simply did not have the mental energy to let himself fall into another deep depression.
If it were anyone but the Newports, he wouldn’t be there.
But he was already there. So he better get this over with.
* * *
“But you understand that he’s not dead yet,” Dr. Lucinda Wilde said, trying her very best to keep a grip on her temper. She rarely got mad at patients—it was a waste of time and emotional energy. “I can only prolong his life if he stays in the hospital, under constant care. You do see that?”
Carson Newport stood to the doctor’s left, his hands on his hips and a determined set to his eyes. On the doctor’s right, Eve Winchester was glaring at Lucinda, her arms crossed and her brow furrowed with anger. All around them, the sounds of construction filled the air—as did dust. So much dust. She was going to have to shower before she went on her rounds again.