Evelyn looked up and saw Derek standing in the doorway. Her cheeks flushed with warmth at being caught muttering to herself.
“It’s okay,” she said.
“It’s just a fact of life at the clinic and in these parts. Life can move a bit slower around here.”
“Not for Christina,” Evelyn teased. “Thank you again for your help.”
Derek nodded. “Like I said, I didn’t do anything. You did fantastic, though. You really calmed her down.”
“Thanks. Textbook frank breech birth, though. Nothing to it.”
She turned back to her computer, embarrassed by the compliment. She knew that she was good—one of the best—but it was always hard for her to take praise when she was just doing her job.
“I was going to head to Sally’s next door and grab a quick bite. Do you want to join me?”
The question caught Evelyn off guard. “No, thank you. I want to look up some information, and I have a quick email I want to send to a colleague before I see Jennifer Yazzie this afternoon.”
“Anything I can help with?”
“Did the other OB/GYNs confide in you about their patients?”
“No. Not really. They didn’t like to talk to a general practitioner who knows nothing.”
Evelyn rolled her eyes. “Why does that not surprise me?”
Derek shrugged. “You get used to it. Still, it angered me. The people in Wolf’s Harbor are my patients long after any temporary specialist is gone.” He crossed his arms. “When I came to town fifteen years ago Jennifer was my first patient. She was five years old. I know her medical history pretty well.”
“You’ve been here a long time.”
“I like it here. This is home.”
“It must be weird, seeing your patients having families of their own. Makes you feel a bit old, doesn’t it?”
“Well…now it does.”
Then Derek smiled, which totally caught her off guard, and she couldn’t help but laugh with him.
“So you’re not opposed to talking over stuff with me?” he asked.
“No. I work better sometimes after talking it out.”
“Not surprising. I’m the same. Fire away.”
“It’s about Jennifer Yazzie.”
“What’s eating you about Jennifer?”
“I met her when I arrived, and she told me how far along she is, but she’s awfully small.”
Derek’s brow furrowed. “What’re you thinking?”
“Anything in her past I should know about? Beyond the obstetrical records?”
“No. She’s been healthy. Non-smoker and non-drinker. Are you thinking it’s intrauterine growth restriction accounting for her small measurements?”
She was impressed that his mind had immediately gone there.
“I’m hoping it’s not, but I’m worried about that. We’d have to get her to Juneau—to a larger hospital to deliver the baby. But I’m hoping she’s just carrying small. Some women will do that right until the baby is about to be born. But if not, it could be very dangerous for Jennifer and her baby.”
A strange expression crossed Derek’s face. “I hope it’s not, too. I’m going to grab a bite. You should try and have something to eat.”
He left quickly, and Evelyn couldn’t help but wonder what had gotten into him. She’d thought he wanted to talk more.
She shrugged it off. She couldn’t worry about it right now. She opened Jennifer’s file and starting skimming through the various notes made over the course of her pregnancy. Her heart sank as it became apparent that she wasn’t the only one who was thinking intrauterine growth restriction.
* * *
Derek didn’t head to Sally’s. He didn’t feel hungry all of a sudden. Instead he headed down the street to daycare.
It wasn’t a bustling daycare center. His daughter was currently the only child in town who needed continuous daycare service during the summer. It was convenient, as she was still a bit sick, and he knew if they’d been in a big city he would have had to arrange for another sitter or taken time off.
Of course if they had decided to move to Chicago he would have had his mother there to help—plus most likely he wouldn’t have been the only doctor in his practice as he wouldn’t have been able to afford to buy a solo practice.
But he loved Wolf’s Harbor.
Vivian had been from here, and though she’d had parents elsewhere in Alaska she’d been on her own, and they’d made a vow to raise their children here.
Perhaps if another doctor would come and permanently settle here they could trade off, but that was unlikely.
No one ever stayed.
He opened the door to the daycare center, making the bell jingle as he walked in, and slipped off his shoes. Mo was sitting on the couch. Her round gray-green eyes that were so like his lit up when she saw him. His heart melted. He loved her. She was his world. The only thing besides his practice that kept him going.