Carson’s scowl broke into a wide smile as he said, “You made it!” Then he and Josh wrapped their arms around each other and performed a few manly thumps on each other’s back.
Lucinda couldn’t help but glance at Eve during this display of masculine affection. Eve was rolling her eyes.
“Man, I’m glad to see you,” Carson said to Josh. “Josh, this is Eve Winchester—it turns out that she’s my sister.”
“Stop telling people that,” Eve snapped.
Lucinda sighed heavily. She’d heard variations on this particular theme over and over again whenever it came time to make a decision about Sutton Winchester’s care. The Winchester daughters—Nora, Eve and Grace—refused to acknowledge that Carson was their half brother and did everything within their power to make sure that he did not have any say in family decisions.
But Carson Newport wasn’t exactly taking this decision lying down.
Just as he did every time Eve threw this insult in his face, Carson opened his mouth to retort that she didn’t have any choice in the situation. Lucinda knew the script by heart.
Josh didn’t. Instead, he cut Carson off with a warm smile and an extended hand. “Ms. Winchester, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I’m sorry that we can’t meet under better circumstances, but Carson has told me how impressed he is with how you’ve been handling all the new developments.”
Lucinda had no idea if this was a true statement or not. Maybe it didn’t matter. Josh’s words went off like a little bomb in the conversation, completely resetting the discourse.
She shouldn’t be surprised. Josh Calhoun had always been the peacemaker of their high school. He had a way of finding the common ground and making everyone happy.
Everyone except her.
“He...what?” Eve stared down at Josh’s outstretched hand. “Who are you?”
If Josh was insulted by this lack of manners, he didn’t show it. “Beg your pardon—I’m Josh Calhoun, of the Calhoun Creamery. I went to college with the Newport boys and I count them as some of my oldest friends. I understand that things have been challenging recently and I wanted to stop by and see if I could do anything to help.” As he said this last bit, his gaze shifted back to Lucinda.
Oh, come on—was he seriously including her in that statement? If that’s what he thought, he had another think coming.
But he was the Newports’ oldest friend? Figured. As if the Winchester/Newport feud wasn’t enough of a tangled web to be caught in, Josh Calhoun had to go and add another thread. A big, fat, complicated thread.
Carson jumped in, taking advantage of Eve’s stunned silence. “Josh, this is Dr. Lucinda Wilde. She’s the oncologist who’s overseeing Sutton’s care. If there’s one thing that Eve and I can agree on...” At this, Eve snorted. “It’s that Dr. Wilde has managed to stabilize our father. Without her, he would probably already be dead.”
“Dr. Lucinda Wilde,” Josh said, rolling each of the words off his tongue as if he was trying to figure out which part was the strangest. He leaned forward, his hand out. “Lucinda? And you’re an oncologist now? I should have guessed.”
She did not want to touch him. So she nodded her head and stuck her hands behind her back. “Josh. Sorry,” she added in a not-sorry voice. “Germs, you know.”
Eve and Carson shared a look. “Do you two know each other?” Carson asked.
She didn’t answer. She didn’t want to cop to knowing Josh. She didn’t want anyone in Chicago to know about their tangled past, and she absolutely didn’t want to be thinking about Josh Calhoun, past or present.
Sadly, it seemed as though she didn’t have much of a choice. “Yeah,” Josh said, letting his hand hang out there for a second before he lowered it back to his side. “Well, I knew Lucy Wilde.”
She shuddered at the sound of her name. She’d left Lucy Wilde behind when she’d left Iowa, and there was no going back. “We went to the same high school,” she explained to Carson and Eve. “But only for two years.” She shot a warning glare at Josh because if he took it upon himself to add to that simple truth, she might have to kick him somewhere very important.